Firenze — Morning

The next morning, by the time Riccardo Ciampi got to his mother’s house for coffee, he was already having a great day.  Lotta was going to take the children to Roma for the weekend, and someone (rumour had it, the British Secret Service) had shot up a couple of the Kovaci brothers’ nightclubs.  Apparently, they’d made the mistake of kidnapping a member of the British Royal family.  And he could hardly wait to give his momma a more than gleeful told-you-so lecture.  Riccardo had been of the opinion that a shooting war with the Albanians would be bad for business – although, as their power grew, he had begun to regret that decision.  Unfortunately, changing his mind meant admitting to his mother that she was right, and he was wr – wr – wr – not right.  A bitter pill to swallow.  Now – well – someone else was doing the shooting, and even though it was more good luck than good management, Riccardo was very willing to take credit for his patience and wisdom

Buongioro, Momma,” he said, leaning forward and kissing Martina Ciampi on the cheek.

In a newer suburb home, not quite in the Tuscan hills, the Kovaci brothers were still in shock.  Their information had been that an insurance investigator had come to Florence to pursue a wrongful death suit against them over some English teenager.  And although they had no idea who this teenager was, they didn’t like, want or need anyone looking into their various business practices.  Their solution (a popular one, in their line of work) was massive intimidation — which always killed these sorts of inquiries long before they were ever born.  Unfortunately, the information had been wrong, their response ill-advised, and now, on a bright Italian morning, they found themselves “thrown headfirst into a pot of shit soup.”  (A favourite expression of their maternal grandfather.)  Three dead bodies, three closed businesses, three police investigations — and, more importantly, no place to go to negotiate — had stunned them.  They’d made their own inquiries and found out very quickly that not only was this Dreyfus Sinclair a bad man to cross, but he was also connected to people who were even worse.  Albanians, as a rule, aren’t shy about trading heavy-handed violence with anyone (they don’t scare worth a hiccup) but they’re not stupid – and they are businessmen.


“Have Guzim take the English woman her suitcase.  We need time to think.”

“Guzim is gone.  His mother’s sick.  He went home.”

Emily was not having a very good morning.  Yes, she was enjoying the cappuccino, cornetto and raspberry jam, the terrace was quiet and the view was remarkable.  The problem was she hadn’t slept well, and it hadn’t helped that three men had burst into the room in the middle of the night, asking her who she was and rummaging through her handbag for her passport.  The side effects of being kidnapped she thought — with gallows humour — and smeared jam on another cornetto.  Actually, aside from the midnight intrusion, the men had kept their distance, but Emily could feel them there, and there were a lot of them.  She trusted Sinclair, but was very aware that he wasn’t there.  And it’s one thing to know the cavalry’s coming, but you still have to survive until they get there.  She needed an advantage, a weapon.  She looked at the jam spoon and the butter knife – too delicate.  Besides, the older woman who’d brought breakfast was probably watching her and would, no doubt, count the cutlery.  Better to act as if the whole thing was as normal as crossing the road.

“Any chance of an orange juice?” she said, loud enough to be heard.

Dreyfus was asleep.  He’d spent most of the night lying in the weeds across a gravel road from two long, corrugated metal buildings.  There had been no activity until a truck with medical markings drove down the road.  The driver had opened the gate.  He didn’t use a key.  Then, suddenly, several yard lights came on, and four men came out of the first building.  They opened a big double door, and the truck drove in.  Then the lights all went out, and there were cigarettes and low, foreign language discussions with some laughter.  Later, a car drove away with only the driver inside.  Dreyfus waited until there was too much pre-dawn light and then crawled away — back to the car sitting with its hood up on the highway.  When he got back to the hotel, the night manager told him that the woman Janet Miller had checked out and left him a message that she was staying with the Montroses.  Good, old, dependable Ms. Miller! He’d call her tomorrow afternoon.  Then he went to the room and was almost instantly asleep. 

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