Paolo immediately went to hold and kiss her. Still smiling, she stepped back, out of reach.
“Steady on Paolo. Down boy! You should know that this girl doesn’t do any of that kind of thing on an empty stomach. Let’s stay cool, eh?”
Livia had Paolo ‘on his back foot’ again. Only one person was in control in her house... Livia. Paolo seemed taken aback, but she continued.
“ I didn’t order food for 8.30 because I expected that you’d need to seem cool... and would arrive late. I’ll order it now. Pizza OK? It’s a fast Italian, like you!”
Livia knew how men function. She knew Paolo would want to appear cool. She knew he would be noticeably late. But she also knew that he was desperate to have her. So she would make him wait too!
When she opened her door, Paolo expected to smell food, but it was Livia’s perfume which hit him like a housebrick, causing an immediate physiological response... the head, the heart... and somewhere down south. She looked amazing. Her pretty face and startling green eyes he saw first. Then, his eyes dropped. Livia was tightly wrapped in a black satin sheet... and smiling.
Paolo was excited. His dream was about to come true. He struggled to believe it, given Livia’s earlier hostility towards him. His instincts told him to proceed with caution, although his downstairs department told him otherwise.
Taking trouble to groom himself for his forthcoming encounter, he had a nagging feeling it might just be another of Livia’s tricks. Accordingly, he decided he would arrive sufficiently late to act a little cool.
Pressing the entryphone at her house, some 15 minutes late, she answered.
“Come in Paolo... you’re late! Everthing’s gone cold here!”
‘Shiiiit!’ thought Paolo. ‘does that mean her too?’
Before the evening with Paolo, Livia had work to do. To ‘keep her enemies closer’ she decided to extend this beyond Paolo to Marcia and Sofia. Time for another summit meeting to keep diplomatic relations diplomatic, and to find out what had been going on whilst she was away.
She arranged for them to meet again in town in two days at the restaurant where they’d met before. Livia felt she would sense any potential problems for her and find out a bit more about Tony’s state of mind.
“My treat.” she told them. Livia was planning lots of ‘treats’.
“Why not pop over later this evening? My son’s gone back to school... grudgingly, but gone. I have the place back to myself. I’ll order a takeaway for 8.30. We can talk and see how it goes. Does that suit you Paolo?”
‘You bet it does’ thought Paolo, or more particularly his groin, but it was his brain controlling his mouth that said “OK. Can I bring anything?”
“Just yourself, Paolo, just yourself.... I’ll organise a party.”
“A party?” Paolo was confused. “What kind of party?”
“A party of two, silly boy. Just us two!” Livia was fully in charge.
Paolo was a man. A young, virile man. With passions. With a particular passion. A passion that was Livia. What could he do? He was helpless. He was lost. But he was about to fulfil his dream.
However, he mustn't appear too keen (although Livia knew damn well exactly how keen he was. Women know these things!)
“O...K... so when do you suggest?” Paolo was acting cool, or so he thought.
“When do you have a space in your diary?” Livia asked politely.
“I don’t have a diary...”
“Well then... see you soon I guess?” Livia was back in control.
“Why the sudden change of heart now Livia?” Paolo still had boxes to tick.
“Tony scared me. He was acting weird! I think maybe the reason he didn’t force himself physically on me was that he’s got this crazy idea Terry’s still alive. I rejected this, and him, and now he won’t speak to me. He’s showing signs of weakness Paolo, but I’m not letting him rule my life...”
“...and my love.” she added wistfully.
“So what do you want from me then Livia?” asked Paolo.
“I want you to make love to me.” replied Livia. “It’s long overdue!”
“It’s true. I was shitty... I can’t apologise enough. But Tony was behaving very strangely towards me. He’d said you’d wanted to collect me from Southampton, but he didn’t like you ‘sniffing around me’! His exact words. He made you sound creepy Paolo... but then what happened was even creepier. I think he might’ve been trying to make a move on me himself because he said ‘If I find out that fucker’s made any move on you, I’ll have him killed!’ I couldn’t let that happen Paolo. I had to push you away!”
Paolo wanted to believe. And he did.
Paolo was not easily persuaded that this delicious woman, albeit older than him, had performed such a volte face. The savage iciness she’d exhibited towards him and her utter rejection of him couldn’t be ignored, even if he found her physically hugely desirable, despite their age difference.
“You’ve suddenly changed your tune, Livia. You must feel there’s more dirty work you need me to do!”
“How dirty do you want it to be Paolo?” Livia countered, coquettishly.
Paolo ignored the innuendo and continued.
“Something’s happened hasn’t it? Something you need fixing. You can’t fool me. Why the rejection, Livia, why?”
“You’ve been in a fucking brilliant place, Livia!” challenged Paolo, “The Caribbean... sunning yourself... having a great time!”
“Yes, you’re right, yes I was... but...” Livia agreed.
“But you left me here doing your very fucking dirty work... and then robbed me blind and treated me like shit when you’d got what you wanted!” Paolo wasn’t about to let Livia off the hook so easily.
“I know! You’re right Paolo. I did!... but I didn’t get what I wanted, did I?”
“What more could you possibly want then?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” asked Livia.
“No it fucking isn’t!”
“I want you!”
“Paolo?” asked Livia tentatively as he answered his mobile.
“Livia?... is that you Livia?”
“Yes” she replied.
“A bit of a surprise to hear from you. What do you want?” Paolo asked her suspiciously.
“Paolo, I’ve been a right bitch to you. A complete bitch!” she admitted.
“Yes you ha....” Livia gave Paolo no chance to finish as she continued.
“I have to make it up to you. I want to apologise.”
“Why the sudden change of heart, Livia?” Paolo was rather perplexed. He had converted his infatuation with her into extreme dislike.
“I was in a very bad place!”
Paolo’s grudging acceptance that Livia was a lost cause was about to turn on its head following her meeting with Mary Flaherty. Livia had thought back over the two women’s discussions and Mary’s comment about her brother ‘knowing where the bodies are buried’ bothered her. She realised that she might have been foolish not just to have distanced herself from Paolo, but also to have made him an enemy.
’Keep your friends close and your enemies closer!’ Livia thought. A thaw in relations might make her more secure... and Paolo might be actively helpful in the plans she was making.
‘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.”