The Lombardi Emeralds – Episode 39

“I’m not proud of what I did.” Sofia lowered her eyes back to the ground. “It’s the way I was in those days.”

“When did you find out what Sofia had done?” May asked her mother.

“I didn’t at first. But Florence caught her in the act and she told Betta, and Betta was scared Andreas might lose his position with Auguste so she reported their loss to the police.

“We were young and frightened. We thought we might be sent to jail for something we hadn’t done and we didn’t steal any jewels, no matter what Alberto Piace thought.” Two bright pink spots of colour stained Sofia’s cheeks.

“And so you ran away,” May said.

“Franco was always asking me to marry him, so we eloped.”

“And I fled to Milan, taking the earrings with me,” Tish added. “I know I should have given them back to you, Auguste, but I didn’t know how to without arousing suspicion.”

“Florence and I vowed never to talk of the matter again,” Sofia said, “and we rarely met up – Florence blamed me for what happened. She was right. It was my fault.”

“Actually . . . ” Auguste’s interruption made everyone jump. “Andreas knew the identity of the jewel thieves.”

“Why didn’t Florence tell us?” Sofia reacted with indignation.

“Because she didn’t know.”

“Hang on,” Tish interrupted. “Footnotes needed here.”

“Do you remember the man Andreas used to work for?” Auguste asked.

Tish frowned.

“I may have seen him once or twice lurking around in the background.”

“He employed a group of young men to cover his activities, the ones who used to follow you girls around.”

“You mean it was our fault all along?” Tish’s eyebrows met her headband.

“You were targeted,” Auguste replied.

“Andreas suspected what was going on. That’s why he wanted out. When his application for a job at the autodromo was successful he proposed to Florence and came to work for me.

“After Hector’s accident I voiced my suspicions to the police.”

“About the time we all disappeared,” Tish said.

“No wonder gossip was rife,” Sofia agreed.

“We were so scared,” Tish said in a sad voice. “I mean, who would have believed us?”

“Why didn’t the police clear our names if they knew we were innocent?” Sofia demanded.

“They didn’t actually accuse you of anything,” Auguste pointed out. “As only a handful of the jewels were recovered, the files were eventually closed. End of story.”

“We have to tell Florence the good news,” Sofia announced. “After all these years we have been proved innocent.”

“She is still recovering from her accident,” Auguste cautioned.

“In that case I suspect she will be ten times more difficult than usual. Sparks will fly,” Sofia predicted.

“I can’t wait to see her again after all these years.” Tish leaped to her feet.

“Please . . .” May grabbed hold of her elbow before she could take off with Sofia.

“I need to know one more thing.”

“Darling.” Tish turned back. “Have I missed something out?”

“The most important part of your story.” May took a deep breath. “Was Hector Lombardi my father?”

    *     *     *     *

So you thought to put some water between me and my mother?”

May and Vin sat on the deck of the floating restaurant. Beneath them, the fairy lights cast bright colours on to the rippling water gently lapping the hull.

“It seemed the safest course of action and what we have to say to each other is too important for interruptions.”

Vin looked unusually serious and May hadn’t felt this nervous since her last audition. If Vin didn’t agree to her proposal this could possibly be their last meeting.

“Your mother and her friends are creating havoc in Bella Acqua. All their old admirers are out in force. Everyone is loving it, and as for the gossipmongers, they are having a field day.”

“You know they’ve decided to go on a short holiday? Florence is still downhearted after her accident and they thought a mini break would help them re-bond.”

“Florence has had a tough time of it recently. The locals were worried that the autodromo might remain permanently closed and several of the employees blamed her.”

“But it’s open again now?”

“Enquiries are still pending but it’s only a matter of formality. So where are the three of them off to on this mini-break?”

“Contessa Rosamunde has offered the use of the Villa Della Pesca. They decided they have a lot of history to get through and Florence can convalesce away from Betta and Rebecca.”

“That is a good idea. Everyone’s been on edge since the accident. They need time to chill.”




Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!