‘Where do we go from here?’ thought Paolo. ‘We’ll do a lot more of last night’s activities’ he decided. That aside, he had no plans to take things further with Sofia... to the ‘next level’ of commitment, because that would inevitably mean exclusivity and he still had oats to spread widely. For instance, it seemed that Marcia hadn’t given any indication she was ready to stop her daylight dalliances, if Franco was still getting his cocoa there of a morning.
He accepted, sadly, that Livia was a lost cause in the love department. But the two sisters were so old!
What now for Paolo, following Sofia’s discovery of the value of the diamond he’d given her, was for him to see it for himself as a prelude to a night of pure carnal delight. Almost nothing ‘off the menu’ due to Solfia’s possibly misplaced gratitude. What a wonderful bounty for Paolo.
Sofia went over to Paolo’s small flat and they indulged in the works. A line of powder, a couple of bottles of wine and a lot of sex. By 1am, both exhausted, they fell asleep in each other’s arms.
“Where do we go from here?” asked Sofia next morning.
The question of the ring’s value exercised her too. Given her security concerns, she wanted to insure it for its full value. She decided to ask her jewellery client to have it valued for her on the quiet. She wanted to believe it had belonged to Paolo’s mother, but living among villains, she still had a hint of suspicion that it might have been stolen.
She was shocked when her client revealed the value of the ring. Between £10,000 and £12,000. “Sheesh!” she muttered on hearing the news... and then rationalised that Paolo must truly love her.
So what now?
Sofia was torn. She worried about the security of her diamond ring, but she loved it so much she wanted to wear it, and wear it all the time. She realised though that it would be thief bait and, being a woman, albeit a tough spirited one, she might attract a lot of unwanted, possibly violent attention. So she would wear it, but only when and where she was certain she would be safe.
She realised questions would be asked... questions she might not want to answer, like who gave it to her... and was that someone a serious ‘item’?
Sofia’s afternoon in the office was hardly her most productive. She couldn’t help staring at the wonderful diamond on her finger. She would take the ring off and put it on her finger again and again. She hesitated as it hovered over her ring finger, left hand. She was about to try it on that finger for size, but stopped short, out of superstition. As she did so, a single tear fell from her eye. She wanted nothing so much as to have reason to wear it there. Maybe a Paolo reason.
But the single tear was shed for herself.
Sofia couldn’t wait to collect her new ring. One week seemed an age. But patience was eventually rewarded when she took an extended lunch hour to go to her client’s premises in Hatton Garden to collect the piece.
It went straight onto her ‘ring finger’, right hand... a simple solitaire setting, which emphasised the size of the ‘round brilliant’ cut diamond. It was fabulous, she thought. It was rather scary too. It seemed to Sofia to cry out ‘steal me!’ Having worried about this all week, Sofia would wear gloves today.
No sooner declaring its beauty than hidden from view.
Mary found her keys and threw them in the air, catching them on the way down, as if to say “See Livia... nothing wrong with me reflexes!” With that she marched off to the front door, which she opened, as if she owned the place.
Stepping out, she turned her head, calling behind her. “Thanks a lot, Livia. Lovely lunch. Talk soon.” As she did so she put her right hand to her ear to indicate a phone. Livia was left, nonplussed, holding the edge of the front door, while opening the automatic gates.
Mary left.. Livia left open-mouthed.
“Ah, get away wid yer. That’s a very nice thought and I thank yer for it. But I’m not wanting to end up wid no feckin’ car. I can drive better pissed than I can sober anyway! And I can drive a feck sight better than every other fecker on the roads round here when I’m sober!”
“Really? Are you sure it isn’t the Prosecco talking?”
“Prosecco? Not being rude about yer lovely hospitality Livia, but it’s as weak as water. I piss stronger stuff than that! I’m feckin’ Irish remember. I’ll be fine. Yer a lovely woman, Livia, lovely.”
Mary had one last surprise for Livia. As she left, Livia had expected a social peck on the cheeks, but Mary grabbed her cheeks and gave her a full-on kiss on the lips, albeit not French-style.
Stopping, she stepped back
“There, look at ya... yer so pretty, y’are, I simply had to do that! If I were that way inclined, which I’m not by the way, so you can relax, you’d be me first choice!”
Livia was shocked, only recovering by asking.
“Surely you’re not going to drive home, Mary? I’ll get you a cab... on my account.”
Before Mary left, Livia asked her for details of her brother Donal, the undertaker, which she was happy to give. Mary offered to speak to him and to go along to see him with Livia. “To make sure the fecker doesn’t rip you off!”
Livia thanked Mary and said she would think about it. Trust her she might, but Livia was nonetheless hard-wired to be cautious. Besides, she had only just started thinking properly about Terry’s funeral. She would probably take Mary up on her offer, but needed thinking time first.
Right now Livia needed to process the lunch.
Lunch with Mary Flaherty was coming to and end. Mary’s warmth, sense of humour and even foul mouth had won over Livia, who was usually suspicious of new people. She liked what she saw as Mary’s fundamental honesty, Christian faith and how she was able to interpret the Ten Commandments to suit her needs. Livia liked Mary’s simple knack of making her laugh.
Somehow, through a single meeting, Livia actually trusted this woman, something enjoyed by nobody else except perhaps her own son.
Had Mary not bewitched Livia, she might have thought differently. She was after all a serious rival
Tony said little during the journey back to the office and Paolo didn’t try to start a conversation anyway. The trip was generally against the traffic flow and they arrived with five minutes to spare before the accountant’s scheduled arrival. As it happened, the accountant was 10 minutes late.
“Fucking accountant... he’s s’posed to be accurate and, like you, the fucker can’t get anywhere on time!” was the only thing Tony said, except “Paolo... thanks. Why don’t you fuck off home now!”
Paolo was in one respect delighted to go home... but would have preferred to eavesdrop on Tony’s meeting.
So engrossed was Paolo in discovering things about the business, he left himself little time to clear up the mess. Having wanted it to be spotless for Tony’s return at 4pm, Paolo worked extremely hard in order to dispose of the finger, sealing it and all the packaging in a black plastic bag, which he would throw into a convenient builder’s skip along his route to Tony’s house. The only problem was that he didn’t leave himself much time and lost some finding a skip.
Arriving at Tony’s house somewhat late he lost some of the ground he’d gained earlier.
With Tony out of the way, Paolo had free rein in his office. There was little danger of the boss turning up unannounced, so Paolo set about finding out some of the aspects of the ‘business’ that Tony didn’t share. Like names of contacts Tony preferred to keep to himself, like the bank statements Tony had got out ready for his accountant’s visit later in the day. ‘Knowledge is power, big time’, thought Paolo, with takeover plans seeded way back by Livia and growing fast in his mind.
Paolo was finding out what made the business tick, how and who.
Marcia came to the conclusion that Franco must have escaped the house and safely made his getaway. Had she known, she would have been horrified that he had been wanking all over her shrub. It wasn’t a shrub, it was a very well-established rosemary bush which she regularly used in her cooking. Lamb a la jizz wouldn’t have gone down well, albeit proteinacious.
Whilst Franco might have satisfied himself by himself, she had been left wanting. Maybe, just maybe, she might provide Tony some distraction from his ills and woes. But Tony wasn't having it... so neither was she!
Franco was about to leave his calling card under one of the shrubs outside the kitchen door. ‘It’ll be good for the soil’ he might have thought were he not so caught up in his self-induced pleasure. However, it was the leaves of the shrub that benefitted from Franco’s ‘fertiliser’. When he was done, he felt he needed to wash or wipe off the evidence, but didn’t have anything to do it with. Quick thinking again, he put away his overactive penis, broke off the soiled twig and headed for the side gate.
He drove off feeling doubly relieved.
Had he thought about it, Tony might have wondered why Marcia, frosty and distant at the best of times, was fussing over him. She squeezed past him in the bathroom closer than necessary, or usual, and went to get him a clean, dry bath towel.
“I’ll close the bedroom curtains for you so you can take a nap later. Is there anything I can get you? A cuppa maybe? Hot water bottle? Aspirins, paracetamol?” she offered. ’Arsenic?’ she thought.
She quickly tidied up the mess in the spare bedroom. ‘Phew! That was close!’ she thought... ‘where the hell is Franco?’
Franco was a big bloke... a big bloke on the point of ejaculation... but he too was quick thinking, his mind quicker than his penis to react to new circumstances. He leapt up, grabbed his jeans and attempted, in a clumsy way, to get them on. He managed, but his penis wouldn’t play ball, so he took a chance and, using quick, long, quiet, stealthy strides, he entered the kitchen and quietly opened the back door.
He had to hide in the garden a while though as his penis hadn’t caught up with events. So he gave it a hand.
Tony burst into the bathroom. “What’s going on? Who’s in here?”
Marcia, naked, poked out of the now steaming hot shower.
“A clever bloke like you Tony... thought you’d realise I’m having a shower!”
“Oh, yeah, sorry. Why ain’t you using your own shower?”
Marcia was quick. “The water comes through hot quicker here because it’s downstairs.” That seemed to satisfied Tony. “Why are you home so early?
“Feeling a bit sick. Gonna lie down in the spare room.”
It was Marcia’s turn to feel sick as Tony turned to go.
“I’m finished here. Why don’t you freshen up first?”
Tony was lost in his thoughts, oblivious to anything going on under his nose. His nose had caused enough trouble already. He headed towards the downstairs bathroom where Marcia had fled. She got a shock as she hopped into the shower and turned the water on fully. It started very cold and she couldn’t stifle an involuntary shriek at the thermal shock.
As it happened, that shriek saved Franco’s bacon. On hearing Marcia’s shriek, Tony went straight past the spare bedroom, door ajar, without glancing sideways at Franco’s rocket.
“What’s the fuck’s going on?” shouted Tony, which was unwittingly apposite.