Sofia shook her head slightly.
“Let me get this straight... this diamond was worn in a secret place... by a man... a gay man maybe?
“Who said anything about gay men?” Paolo realised that in pointing to his own crotch, Sofia had got the wrong end of the stick. But on the other hand, if he’d pointed to Sofia’s crotch, she might retaliate, painfully!
“It seems to me I need more details, Paolo... tell all I said!”
Paolo coughed again.
“Did you kill this couple, Paolo?” Sofia continued.
“I didn’t have to... they killed each other!”
“Jealously!” replied Paolo.
“The truth?” said Paolo.
“And nothing but it!” added Sofia, with a slight upward jerk of her right knee. Paolo got the message.
“It is stolen,” he answered truthfully, adding “but the person who wore it won’t be coming looking for it...”
“And why’s that?”
“On account of being dead!”
“Interesting!” mused Sofia. “But who else might know about it... and come looking for it?”
“Just the two of them.”
“Surely others would know about a big stone like this?”
“Not if they couldn’t see it!”
Paolo double-pointed down to his crotch.
On the dot of 8pm Sofia arrived at Paolo’s flat. As always, she was very well turned out, but not in a sexy curve-enhancing tight dress or skirt, but trousers and jumper. She was there for business, not pleasure... and certainly not for Paolo’s pleasure.
She glided in and didn’t beat about the bush.
“No need to cross your legs this time, Paolo,” she said, “unless you tell me lies that is!”
Paolo coughed slightly and an involuntary reaction down below was a sharp reminder to take care what he said.
“Where the fuck did you get the diamond?”
Paolo may have been off work for a couple of days, but it was a very busy break. Seeing his three lovers in turn plus another woman he was very unsure of, all in the period of 24 hours... that would be full-on!
Meeting Sofia would be very difficult he thought as he still had the memory of his aching testicles. He had no idea how much to tell her about her diamond.
Sex with Marcia would be good, but it would have to be a quickie.
Meeting Livia and Flaherty’s widow could be both interesting and very dangerous!
Marcia liked sex. She just didn’t like sex with her husband. And, it seems, he was no longer bothered about anything physical with her either. Was he getting something somewhere else? Maybe, but Marcia didn’t care. Was he now of different sexual persuasion? She doubted that, but couldn’t care either way.
So why did she stick with Tony? Simple... he was her meal ticket, she had status and a very comfortable life. She had a child she doted on, when she wasn’t getting laid.
She had the regular attention of two men who wanted her. What was not to like?
Paolo had to live with the fact that there would be no sex tonight with Sofia, and none with Livia. So he called Marcia.
“Paolo, where’ve you been and who’ve you been with? It’s certainly not been me for a while, has it?”
“I could come now,” he suggested. “If you’ve a slot in your diary.”
“Any slot today is not for you, my boy! I have to collect my daughter from the childminder later. But come over at 10 am tomorrow and I’ll slot you in! My breakfast workout won’t have taken long!” She laughed a very dirty laugh.
While he was making his way back from his meeting with Sofia, Paolo, who was still feeling a bit sore got a call on his mobile from Livia. She didn’t go in for chit-chat, she just told him.
“Paolo, I need you to come over to my house for 12 Noon tomorrow. I want you to meet Mary Flaherty and then liaise with her and her brother to sort out Terry’s funeral. I want it done properly, as befits his status. Don’t be late will you?”
“Er, no!” Paolo didn’t have time to make any excuses. “I’ll be there.”
Tony had given Paolo 48 hours, so he would jolly well take them in full, that’s what Livia thought anyway. So she called Mary Flaherty and invited her over again the next day for lunch. Mary tried to get Livia to go over to her house, for the ‘return match’, but Livia explained that there was a young man she wanted Mary to meet, about Terry’s funeral. Someone who would be involved.
Mary assumed it was a toyboy that Livia hadn’t mentioned so far. “Oh really?” Mary replied. “OK then, I’ll come tomorrow and meet this ‘young man’ of yours.”
Livia meanwhile was making her own plans for Paolo and that did not involve sex with the boy again.
After giving Tony a good talking to, she swept out of his office and away, although 5-footers rarely ‘sweep’ anywhere. However, the sheer drama of her departure was plenty enough to leave Tony awestruck.
Even though sex would not be on offer, Livia did need to get Paolo round to her house again... for a meeting with Mary Flaherty. Livia needed Paolo to be the go-between, and if anything went belly-up, he would naturally be the fall guy.
Paolo’s doubling up after Sofia had kneed him in the crotch was more from shock than severe pain. He just hadn’t been expecting it. Sofia was pretty tough, but the constraining effect of her tight skirt meant that knee impact was limited. He felt it, nonetheless, but his undercarriage remained intact, if a little achey.
He wanted to ask what that was for, but he knew. He knew too that he’d better be in his flat at 8pm when Sofia was coming round... and that that would be the extent of coming that night.
Making love to Livia must wait.
“No... I don’t have time now. Tell me this evening... and tell me all. 8 o’clock, your place. And if you think you can use the time until then to come up with some claptrap pack of lies, forget it. I can tell when you’re lying!”
Sofia’s anger hadn’t subsided although to Paolo she seemed to be suggesting an evening that would end by normalising their relationship. Normal servicing would resume. He stood up as she did and foolishly went for a goodbye kiss. He got a knee-jerk to the groin!
Paolo bent double. Sofia whirled and strode off.
Paolo had been OK with Sofia thinking it had been his late mum’s diamond. It had somehow made more of the trade. However, right now he was cornered and had to get himself out of trouble.
“OK, Sofia, it’s true. It might be stolen, but I don’t know. Apparently the previous owner didn’t need it anymore.”
“On account of being dead maybe?” Sofia was still angry and her comment hit the mark and it showed on Paolo’s face.
“No, yes, maybe. I don’t know Sofia...”
“You do know a hell of a lot more about it, Paolo! Tell me now!”
Sofia quickly withdrew her right hand.
“What! What kind of a greeting is that?” Sofia more than bristled. If Paolo had thought before showing horror at seeing the big diamond sparkling on Sofia’s right ‘ring finger’, he could have avoided her instant mood change. He tried, unsuccessfully, to backpeddle.
“Sorry, sorry... but I thought we agreed you wouldn’t show it off yet? People might start asking questions because it’s obviously worth a fortune.”
Sofia was now blazing mad. She had once again been humiliated by this cocky young man.
“This wasn’t your mother’s diamond was it? You bloody stole it!”
She might be just grabbing a sandwich with Paolo, but the hand holding that sandwich would be carrying something else too. It was her way of reminding Paolo... nudging him maybe into greater commitment.
Paolo had bought the sandwiches and was sitting in a square near Sofia’s office when she bounced up with a jaunty gait, looking highly desirable. She might only have a rushed half-hour, but her warm smile and peck on both cheeks showed Paolo she was pleased to see him.
She sat down and he proffered the sandwich. The hand taking it sparkled.
“What the fuck!”
While Livia was giving Tony both barrels, Paolo, who’d been ordered to stay away, decided to see Sofia. He needed her to keep that diamond off her finger and out of sight. He almost regretted trading it for Terry’s finger. Almost. He called with a view to meeting for lunch.
“I’m very busy, Paolo. Is it important? Can’t it wait until this evening?”
“Can’t do this evening.” replied Paolo, “a quick sandwich maybe?”
“OK, but just half an hour though.”
Paolo couldn’t ‘do this evening’ because he was hoping to get a return match with Livia. Hoping, with fingers crossed.
Another hmmph from Tony signalled concession. But Livia hadn’t finished.
“I know what you’re going to do now Tony. When I’ve left and that young goon comes back to report the ‘Flaherty mystery’, you’ll take it out on him, poor sod! I don’t like the cocky little git, but this is between you and me. He had the guts to come and ask me out straight about Flaherty’s widow - more than I could say for you!” He’s got your answer from me and so if I hear anything bad, I promise I’ll get you!
Tony was absolutely certain she would!?
‘This little bitch is getting too cocky for her own good’ thought Tony. ‘If she wasn’t Terry’s wife I would have her whacked.’ Nonetheless, whether or not she was too big for her platform soles, Tony would neither have Livia killed nor beat her up again. He’d made some stupid promise to Terry at the time of the savage beating to which she referred.
“You just do what you fucking want, so long as you keep that family away from my business.”
“Our business!” Livia asserted. “What’s Terry’s is mine now and you’d better not forget it!”
Balls of steel!
Tony had to respond to Livia’s last comment... but she didn’t seem to have given him much room for negotiation. He didn’t know what to do, so he did what he always did when confronted, he behaved like the bully he was.
“You will stay away from that family!” Tony said slowly, articulating every word for emphasis and menace. “Or you will regret it!”
“So what will you do if I don’t, Tony, beat me up again?” Tony made a hmphh noise as he always seemed to do when someone started to challenge him. “I have photographic evidence you know!”
Tony was about to challenge Livia, but she got in first.
“Don’t get huffy, Tony. Just hear what I have to say, which should provide you some kind of reassurance. There is another reason for me seeing Mary, a very practical one. I need to find an undertaker who understands the kind of funeral we Monellis expect.” Livia was deliberately including herself under the ‘Monellis’ banner... ‘family’.
“So?” asked Tony.
“So Mary Flaherty’s little brother is one such undertaker and, in the absence of any bloody help from you, I’m thinking of using him, whether you like it or not!”
Tony was ready to speak. “What can you find funny about Terry’s death then?”
“Nothing, absolutely nothing, and we weren’t laughing about Terry, or Ronan come to that, but the woman has an incredible natural wit... and I really liked her.”
“You should keep away from the Flahertys... they ain’t good for your health!” Tony warned, trying to add a touch of menace, but at the same time fearful that any moment Livia might explode again.
“Well someone wasn’t good for Flaherty’s health!” she replied, “nor Terry’s, without me having even met Mary! They’re both dead healthy but not funny!”