It all started in Venice – Episode 8

Cecilia and Juliet – trouble

How do you run into someone by accident, or randomly when it is neither an accident or random?

There was that problem of looking obvious, that it was staged, that, well you get the idea.

O was hoping staying at the same hotel on the same floor would solve the problem, but when I thought about it, living in Venice, why would I be staying in a hotel?

There was that unofficial reason I’d told Cecilia, that I was renovating, just in case of prying ears, but I was a bit slow in picking up on the new surveillance team Larry had out on Juliet, do he’d know what  I was up to, and if he informed Juliet, then it would ruin the surprise.

It all depended on whether or not the surveillance team was aware of who I was, which could be unlikely, given Giuseppe’s lack of recognition of my identity.  Larry’s mistrust of her might yet work to my advantage.

Then there was the name Juliet knew me by which was not the one Cecilia knew me, so I had to make sure that story was straight between us just in case she was with me when I ran into Juliet.

The trouble was, it was becoming a logistical nightmare.

So, it was rather a surprise when we finally did run into each other, in the restaurant the following morning after Cecilia arrived, and we were just sitting down.

I hadn’t seen Juliet, tucked away in a corner, not until she called out.  And I was with Cecilia, who was the consummate actor.

I heard my name and turned.  Cecilia looked over then sat.  I went over.

“What are you doing here, of all places?”

Was there a note of suspicion or surprise in her tone?

“I’m with an old friend, Cecilia, she’s in Venice for the film festival.  She’s an actor you know.  I didn’t until she called me.”

Juliet gave Cecilia the once over, then looked back at me.  I could see the unspoken question, ‘you still haven’t answered the question’.

“She needed a place to stay and my place is a renovator’s nightmare, so I decided to stay here with her for the duration.”

“Together?”

Not the first thing I expected from her.

“No, separate rooms.  She’s a bit above my pay grade.”

“Oh.”

“We’re off to the festival, she’s agreed to show me around, but if you’re free tonight perhaps we could meet up?  Dumb question, but what are you doing here?”

“I’m staying here.”

“Are you.  No surprise, of course, it’s a good hotel.  I guess we have the same taste in hotels.  Good to see you again, but I’d better go.”

I’d looked around a few times and Cecilia was making to sort of gestures an impatient movie star, ex-girlfriend type might make.

“You’d better go.  I’ll think about it.”

I could see her, ‘this is not a coincidence, look in her eyes and thought it oddly amusing.

Back at the table where Cecilia was waiting, she had been looking covertly in Juliet’s direction.  I sat down.

“She an old girlfriend, or something?”

“Or something.”

“You can tell.  I could feel the death stare.”

“That train left the station a long time ago.”

“Then someone forgot to tell her.  That whole encounter seemed very odd from where I’m sitting.”

“It was.  I asked her for dinner, but I’m not expecting a reply.  It caught me off guard.”

“Then a small suggestion, get your head back in the game.”

She was right.  Catching me by surprise put me on the back foot, and being so meant that the distraction could cause trouble.  I could remember back to the old days, and the training instructor’s words, ‘it only takes a fraction of a second, and you’re dead’.

He was right, it had happened once and I barely survived, coincidentally just before the first time I met Juliet.  That incident kept me vulnerable, a feeling I had hated at the time.

I glanced over at Cecilia, submersed in a text exchange on her cell phone, the conversation playing out in expressions, one of which was quite dark.

But, nevertheless, at least one of us was prepared.  I wondered if Rodby had spoken to her.  He knew of my association with Juliet, before Violetta, and the effect it had on me, especially after the mission that had almost left me broken.

And that, I thought, was another reason for my momentary loss of control; the effect she had on me when I was not prepared, not like the last encounter.  Taking me by surprise, she could still bring those old feelings to the surface, feelings I didn’t want to deal with.  I was still getting over the loss of Violetta which until this moment I had thought I was in a good place.

The text exchange ended.

“Trouble in paradise?” I asked.

“Men can be such idiots sometimes.”

“I know.  Who is he and do you want me to deal with him?”

“A pleasant thought, but no.  I can do that, but you might have to deal with Juliet by yourself.  Oh, she’s coming over.”

By the time I looked up, she was next to me.  “Tonight, here.  Bring your friend if you like.”  Juliet gave her a meaningful glare.

“Sorry, got to attend to man troubles.”

“Sorry to hear that.”  Back to me.

“Eight OK?”

“Fine.  See you then “

I watched her leave the restaurant, not sure what she hoped to gain other than once again to put me on the back foot.

“She has surveillance, the girl who looks like a librarian on holiday, by the door.”

I’d seen her before.  “There’ll be another.  Larry seriously doesn’t trust Juliet.”

“Of course.  French guy, pink shirt, so obvious you’d not think it was him.  Watch yourself.  I have to go for a while but don’t worry, I can find you later.  We need to talk about tonight.”

“Yes.  Later, then.”

© Charles Heath 2022

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