Paolo went home and far from taking it easy, started to put a new plan into action. Livia was now his enemy... and Sofia no longer a friend or ally. But Paolo had a plan to reverse that. Maybe.
He examined the clitoral ring he’d removed from Nicole when she no longer needed it. He breathed on the large diamond and polished it. It sparkled. The ring itself was damaged where he’d cut it through. He wouldn’t restore it to its original use, intriguing though that was. He didn’t want anyone else involved. He prised the diamond from its setting.
Tony was in a bad mood and uncommunicative when Paolo arrived back at the office. Paolo’s deliberate throwaway line about Livia going after Tony had rattled him more than Paolo could hope for.
Paolo busied himself, tried to be helpful by asking Tony if there was anything he wanted him to do, only to be rebutted with “I want you to shut the fuck up!” which Tony then excused by adding “Sorry Paolo, it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve got a splitting headache right now. You’ve done your best. Why not fuck off home and have an early night, OK?”
Tony hung up without further word.
Paolo rang the entry phone. When Livia answered he said he was returning the car. Without comment, she buzzed him in. He garaged the car, posted the keys and returned to his own humble transport. The detective was still there.
The policeman may have just been a nice guy comforting a bereaved woman or might have been trying to get information out of Livia while she was vulnerable. Either way, he neither seduced nor was seduced by her. And he deduced absolutely nothing.
Because Livia was far, far too smart to give anything away.
“Get in there right now and kill the bastard copper!” Tony barked his order in an uncharacteristic loss of common sense. Paolo was thinking straight though. There was no way he was killing a copper. He reasoned with Tony.
“Tony, if the guy’s shagging Livia, he’s done it already. As for Livia, she’s a very smart cookie. There’s no way she’s going to spill the beans about anything, if that’s what you’re worried about. She has far too much to lose herself. Maybe she was simply far too distraught to leave alone.”
“Unless she’s out to get you!”
Paolo had sowed the seeds that maybe other seeds were being sowed right there, right now.
Tony asked outright. “Do you think the bastard’s shagging her in there?”
“Well Livia does seem very vulnerable right now and some men might take advantage of her. After all, she’s a beautiful woman.” Paolo was adding fertiliser.
“I don’t pay you to notice how good looking my sister-in-law is. I pay you to keep fuckers like that copper away from her!” Tony was angry and taking it out on Paolo.
Tony’s real concern was that she was colluding with a copper.
“What’s he up to? What’s she up to come to that?” Tony had concern in his voice along with the anger now.
Paolo recounted the events of the afternoon to Tony, including the hostility shown to him by Livia.
“She really doesn’t like me, Tony. Seems to think I’m beneath her, just an oily rag.”
“Yeah, she can be stuck up!” Tony interjected.
“Insisted on going in on her own, although she looked pretty shaky to me, and then she comes out over an hour later very pally with this copper, who drives her back here.”
The detective was in Livia’s house around 45 minutes. While Paolo was waiting, he got a call on his mobile.
“Well?” asked Tony minimally.
“Well what?” asked Paolo, taken rather off-guard.
“You know what!” barked Tony, testily. “How did the identification thing go with Livia?”
“In all honesty, Tony, I’ve no idea.” This was a risky response, which succeeded in pissing off the boss instantly.
“Why the fuck not?” he shouted, “where the fuck are you?”
“In the street outside her house.” replied Paolo.
“Why, what’s happened?
“She’s got a copper in there with her. He’s been there ages.”
Paolo waited outside on the road for half an hour, out of curiosity and to see how long the detective stayed at Livia’s house. It was an odd feeling for Paolo. It was based in jealousy, but had anger and humiliation built-in too. If he’d thumped the steering wheel any harder, he might have been in danger of triggering the air bags.
Since he had to return the car, the most sensible thing would have been to press the entry phone and get Livia to open the gates. But Paolo wasn’t being sensible. He was being Paolo. Planning retribution.
Despite the fact that it was clear the detective was taking Livia home, Paolo was concerned that Tony was likely to give him hell if he, Paolo, hadn’t made sure Livia actually got home. Accordingly, he followed the police car to her house, watched her get out of the car and immediately feign an attack of grief, prompting the detective to come round and help her right through the gates to her front door.
Paolo started wondering if the detective had been invited in, and was ‘getting his kippers in the grill’!
But Livia wouldn’t go that far!
With formalities somehow concluded, it was time for Livia to go. Paolo had waited patiently outside the mortuary to take her home, even though it would be silent and frosty. After all, he’d been charged by Tony to look after her, although right now she was the last person he wanted to be near.
Paolo was therefore rather irritated when she walked out of the mortuary alongside the detective and followed him to his unmarked police car. It was clear that the policeman would be driving her home.
Paolo had to make that assumption. Livia wouldn’t be letting him know.
Livia was there a long time. She took ages to calm down, and in the process, suddenly she would flare up and be inconsolable again. The detective reassured her over and over again that he would personally make sure her husband’s killers would be brought to justice.
However, when she’d finally appeared to come to terms with it, he still had to formalise the identification of the body with her for his report.
“So Mrs Monelli, can you confirm that the body you have been shown is your husband, Terence Monelli?”
“Are you totally fucking stupid?”
“Is that a yes?”
The detective hadn’t wanted Livia to see Terry’s hands, and he was right try to avoid this as when she saw them, with fingers crudely removed, she went into a fit of screaming. Tears pouring, mascara painting lines on and smeared across her face as, pointlessly and ineffectively, she’d gone to wipe her tears.
“What have they done to him? Who could have done this to my Terry? Why, why, why?” Livia delivered these questions over and over, as though by repeating them, she might eventually get the answers.
“Whoever did it, we’ll get them. We will!” promised the detective.
The detective went to restrain Livia from hitting his chest.
“Come on ma’am. Steady on. It wasn’t me that killed him!”
Livia put up some resistance to his attempt to stop her hitting him. Inside, she was loving the fact that she was bashing a copper and getting away with it. Outside she continued screaming and wailing. The assistant went to pull the sheet back over the body.
“What about his hands?” Livia cried out “What about my Terry’s hands? Why are they tucked under him? Let me see his lovely hands!”
“Let the lady see them!” instructed the detective.
The knife wound in Terry’s chest was not dramatic or particularly obvious. Paolo had done a neat, efficient job, but Livia was looking out for anything that would suitably preface a further outburst of grief.
Somehow, between her histrionics, she managed to utter the words “Is that where they stabbed him? Is that how they killed him?”
The detective and mortuary assistant both nodded in unison, which gave Livia another signal to wail at the top of her voice and, for some reason, bang her fist repeatedly on the detective’s chest as though he’d been personally responsible for Terry’s death.
Livia’s screaming seemed to go on for ages, prompting the mortuary assistant to go to drop the sheet back over Terry’s head, so make it easier for her. But Livia wasn’t having this. The last thing she wanted was to curtail her histrionics. This had to be her finest hour, a tour de force no less.
“Stop!” she screamed. “Show me what they did to my Terry. Show me now!”
The mortuary assistant was taking his lead from the detective, who glanced down at Livia and then nodded. The white sheet was pulled back to reveal most of Terry’s body.
In the room, the white-coated mortuary assistant beckoned them over to what looked like a bank of large office drawers. He waited until Livia, who was still being steadied by the detective, was near. Then, following a nod from the detective, he pulled out the drawer to reveal a figure covered by a sheet. He lifted the sheet to reveal Terry’s head, cleaned up after his involuntary maceration in the river.
Livia looked, and after what seemed like an age but was just a couple of seconds, she screamed, suddenly dropping all her weight on the detective’s arm.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” asked the detective.
“No... I’m not!” said Livia, seemingly struggling to keep her composure. “But it’s got to be done sometime and it’s got to be done by me because his bloody brother seems to have lost the plot. So best I get it over with now. Then I’ve got to find out how to tell my son...” at this she sobbed... “He’ll be devasted, poor boy.”
Then Livia steadied herself, gave a little cough and declared, “let’s get it over with” and moved forward towards the room where the bodies were stored.
Livia’s objective for this mortuary visit was twofold, although the one would help with the other. First and foremost, she had to convince the police of her genuine grief, misery and sense of hopelessness following husband Terry’s untimely death. She had to make certain her alibi, together with her sense of loss, kept the finger of suspicion well away from her, whatever tricks young Paolo might think he had up his sleeve.
Secondly, there was the matter of Terry’s life insurance. She wanted to avoid any chance of the insurance company getting one of their own investigators on the case.
As Livia reached the door, a man approached from her right. He went to take her arm, first checking for her approval. He was clearly a detective assigned to accompany her to the identification of the body and subsequently make a report on the outcome. She allowed him to take her arm. She visibly flopped a little, catching the detective slightly off-guard as she let him take some of her modest weight.
Paolo watched the performance from Terry’s car. He had to admit to himself that she had put on a wonderful performance. She would be a powerful adversary.
The small woman walking towards the door of the mortuary had the look of someone not wanting to be there. Twice during the short slow walk she half-turned, as if to go back, twice deciding to continue, albeit with heavy feet and heavier countenance. A close examination of the woman’s face would reveal to the casual onlooker an expression as though the entire world was weighing her down, watery eyes and trace of mascara on the run. She was smartly dressed, but that served to emphasise her reluctance.
But the onlookers weren’t casual, as she knew they wouldn’t be.