Paolo was mighty relieved. On the one hand there was a plausible(ish) commercial reason why Livia and Flaherty’s wife should be speaking to each other, and on the other, his relationship with Livia was unharmed in the asking.
Paolo continued, “Thanks for telling me. I’ll relay that to Tony.”
“No Paolo, I will tell Tony myself and tell him good. How dare he suggest what I think he’s suggesting when he’s not even prepared to accept that Terry’s dead, let alone bury him! I can handle Tony alright, and if he gets remotely heavy with you... well he’ll regret it!”
“Ah, I see... Tony’s using his godson to spy on me. I wondered what he was doing calling my son... and now I know!”
“Sorry Livia... but you asked...”
“Don’t fret Paolo, don’t fret. It’s to your credit that you were honest with me. And I’ll give you the answer for Tony... which also happens to be the truth. I was going to call you about Mary Flaherty, because you agreed to help me with Terry’s funeral and her brother happens to be an undertaker who specialises in the kind of funeral I want for Terry.”
“Thank fuck for that!”
That was definitely not the response Paolo expected. Maybe this was going to be easy, but then she added.
“What makes you ask?”
For once in his relatively short life, Paolo decided that honesty would be the best policy. He told it straight.
“Tony heard that you and Mary Flaherty were getting very pally and told me to find out what it was about.”
“Oh he did, did he? And so you just do what he says?”
“Pretty much!” replied Paolo honestly. “Tony’s close to the edge right now... dangerously so!”
“So tell me Paolo, who’s the snitch?”
Paolo needed to phone Livia, and soon. But he hesitated. His current status with her was something he was keen to protect. She had given him the time of his life. He was so utterly smitten. But she had drawn back at the end. He hoped it was just his oversensitivity and that he was merely imagining things. But this call might be difficult. He called her number.
“Hi Paolo, I was about to call you. What was it you were going to say?”
“Do you know Mary Flaherty?” No beating about the bush.
“Wow Paolo... are you bloody psychic?”
Mary Flaherty and Sofia... two problems needing solutions, But which of the two had more urgency?
First things first decided Paolo. His decision was prompted by the simple fact that Tony had given him a 48 hour deadline. Paolo was really concerned about Tony’s state of mind. He didn’t think that ordinarily Tony would shoot him... the boss knew that Paolo was one of his most trusted allies... but a little slip, or fit of uncontrolled anger, and who knew?
Paolo needed to find out fast about why Mary Flaherty went round to see Livia. But how would she react?
Paolo’s task was tricky. On the one hand, given his restored romantic relationship with Livia, the last thing he wanted to do was to put that in jeopardy. Neither did he fancy stirring up the Flaherty hornets’ nest. He didn’t know Flaherty's widow but earlier he’d heard that she was a ball-buster from her son. He couldn’t help wondering if she knew something about what went on in Basildon... that ‘something’ being who else might have been involved.
Or maybe she somehow knew about that diamond. So now he had to stop Sofia flashing the sparkler around as well!
“Now piss off and find out. You’ve got two days, that’s all. I don’t wanna see you ‘til you’ve got all the answers. Don’t come back without ‘em. And don’t think I wouldn’t use this!” said Tony, jabbing his forefinger at the gun on the desk.
Paolo knew what he needed to do... get away from that nutter fast and worry about how he would find out what business Livia and Flaherty’s widow had with each other later.
Away from the office, Paolo wondered if he had pushed Tony too far earlier. Did he, Paolo, push him over the edge?
“I can’t imagine why, Tony”
“Well that’s why you’re gonna find out, ain’t it?” Tony’s tone was instantly more steely, goading challenge from Paolo, who eyed the gun still lying on the desk in front of his boss. He replied.
“I’ll do my best...”
“You’ll do more than your fucking best... you’ll find out! Report back in 48 hours. You’re pretty good with a deadline aren’t you boy?” Tony’s earlier conciliatory lapse was gone. He seemed to have flipped back.
“Yep, yep... I’ll find out.” Paolo wasn’t about to negotiate with this increasingly mad man. But he’d get Tony, eventually.
“That doesn’t sound good, Tony, not good at all!” Paolo was concerned now.
“It ain’t fucking good! If I find that Livia’s consorting with the enemy, I’ll bloody kill her myself, sister-in-law or not!” Tony’s mood stepped up a gear.
“Livia wouldn’t do that Tony. Although it’s a bit odd. On the other hand, Flaherty’s missus wasn’t involved in his business by all accounts. Apparently she just tried, unsuccessfully, to keep him and her boys in check.” Paolo needed to take the heat off Livia until he found out was was going on.
“So why fucking meet her?”
“Says Luca, my nephew, the only thing I seem to have left of my brother. We do talk you know!” Tony’s mood had changed, although he still kept a little aggression there.
“So what did Luca say Tony?” Paolo was kind of worried about anything to do with Flaherty and he needed to know. Was Livia involved? And how and why?
“I asked him how he was doing... y’know coping with things. Then I asked how his mum was doing. He said she’d been miserable, but then seemed to cheer up a lot after some woman called Flaherty called round.”
At this point, a tripswitch in Tony’s head must have flipped as he sighed, putting the gun down safely on the desk. Paolo went “phewww!”... with relief under his breath. He said nothing, waiting for Tony.
“I know, I know mate.” Tony’s tone was conciliatory. “All this stuff seems to be getting to me. And now...” This was Tony’s version of an apology. Paolo knew he wasn’t likely to get more.
“What’s happened boss? What’s this about Flaherty? He’s dead!”
“He may well be dead, but I’ve heard his widow is getting pally with Livia!”
“Says who Tony? Says who?”
Paolo’s response didn’t have the desired effect.
“I’ll show you who’s fucking stupid, you stupid fucker.” continued Tony and he pulled out a gun from his desk. “Yes, you prat Paolo, you might have thought you’d thrown my gun away for security after you’d rubbed out Flaherty, but how fucking secure do you feel now then?”
Paolo was looking down the barrel of Tony’s gun. Tony was going berserk with him and Paolo had no idea why. Tony was really losing his mind.
“Don’t Tony!” Paolo was remarkably calm and collected. “I’m always on your side. You must know that.
When Paolo turned up for work, any romantic concerns regarding Livia went right out of the window as Tony brought him down to earth with a bang.
“A little bird’s told me Flaherty’s bitch of a wife has been asking questions in the wrong places!” the boss rasped. “What do you make of that, eh?”
It took Paolo a few seconds to comprehend what Tony was on about. Flaherty’s bitch, wife questions, wrong places? So he asked for clarification, which Tony wasn’t about to give.
“I don’t understand what you mean Tony.”
“Are you saying I’m fucking stupid?”
Paolo left Livia’s house with a mixture of emotions. For one, he was hugely elated having had his romantic and sexual ‘dream come true’. Livia, the object of his desire, had given him what he craved. But at the same time, he’d desperately wanted to stay the night with her... to extend and underscore his pleasures... their pleasures? Not on her menu!
Also, there’d been no suggestion of next time. No arrangements made. The only arrangement was that he would help her with the funeral. But that made him wonder about her motives.
Paolo was confused and a little disappointed..
“I want you to make love to me!” Livia tells Paolo. She invites him round to her house and surprises him that she has it all organised.
In this scene, slices of pizza are juxtaposed with the utterly gorgeous Livia, wrapped in a black satin sheet, unravelling to the delight of her young beau. His dream has come true... and it shows. Paolo's feelings are intense... too intense for Livia, who hates clingy, needy men. But she needs Paolo, for now.
As he leaves after dream sex, Livia casually asks him to help with Terry’s funeral. He agrees, of course.
Paolo has just about given up on Livia. He likes Sofia, and particularly sex with her, but she would always be second best... and she and Marcia are rather too old for anything more than some earthy fun. But Livia is different. She is spectacularly beautiful.... his type. But out of reach!
After her encounter with Mary Flaherty, Livia realises that she can use Paolo and wants to end her hostility towards him. She knows he is still crazy about her and can use that. Imagine his surprise when she calls him to apologise and tells him she wants him.
When Paolo drops Tony off at his house, Paolo spots Franco’s van outside. Tony enters via the side gate as Paolo will collect him later. Marcia and Franco are caught unawares. In what seems like a French farce, Franco somehow gets out and away unnoticed.
Paolo goes back to Tony’s office for a couple of hours. He uses it to rummage around, trying to find out some of the hidden parts of the business... essential if one day soon he plans to take it over!
Meanwhile, Sofia is delighted with her huge diamond ring. But where dare she wear it?
Meanwhile, now she has the large diamond from Paolo, Sofia decides to have it made into a ring, like an engagement ring, but not... much to Sofia’s chagrin, as she sort of entertains romantic ideas about Paolo, despite the significant age difference. She is excited.
Having secured the last of Terry’s fingers in exchange for the diamond, rather than disposing it, Paolo decides to try to push Tony over the edge by mailing it to him. Tony won’t open it. Paolo taunts him... suggesting it might be Terry’s cock!
Paolo takes neurotic Tony home early to Marcia... who is entertaining...
Livia’s son is home from boarding school to ‘grieve’ for two weeks, keeping his mother company in her own grief. He takes a call. It’s Mary Flaherty, widow of Ronan, Paolo’s recent kill. Foulmouthed Mary wants to meet Livia, which they do at Livia’s house, for coffee, which becomes a very boozy lunch.
The women really like each other, united in (happy) widowhood. Mary’s very Catholic life and actions are controlled by the 10 Commandments, which she interprets liberally. She is instantly Livia’s new best friend! They can do business. Mary’s brother is a discreet undertaker. Just what Livia needs.
Paolo winds up Tony about Livia maybe shagging a copper and informing on them. But in reality, Livia was far too smart for either of those to be happening. Tony was on edge and grumpy, but decides not to take it out on Paolo, whom he sends home early.
Paolo has Nicole’s large diamond. He decides to offer it to Sofia in trade for the remaining of Terry’s frozen fingers and the photos she has lodged with her solicitor.
Frosty Sofia happily agrees to the trade, cementing the deal with normal sexual relations being resumed.
Meanwhile, Livia becomes a hermit.