It all started in Venice – Episode 10

Could Juliet be slightly jealous?

I got back to the hotel just before Cecilia was leaving.  She was wearing what I would call her party clothes, something that left little to the imagination, but not different from the many others trying to be noticed.

I had thought of using the analogy that she was going to be a single tree in a forest of similar trees, but it was probably something she already knew.

And a pity she felt she needed to make such an entrance just to be noticed, and probably to some, for all the wrong reasons.  At least she was gaining experience for what I called her day job.

“I’ll be back to make an impression on your friend,” she said.

She didn’t need to say anymore.  Impression would be an understatement.  But it might, quite literally, shake the trees to see what falls out.

A half-hour later there was a light rapping on my door.  I was not expecting any visitors, so it could be one of three options, Cecilia was back early or changed her mind though I seriously doubted it, or Juliet was being pre emotive, or perhaps it was just one of the hotel staff.

Whomever it was, I made the necessary preparations, just like in the old days, and opened the door.  There was always that moment of unpreparedness, that someone would come crashing through the door and take you by surprise.

Happened once, not again.

“Juliet.”  More a statement than a question, it should not be a surprise but it was.

She had dressed for dinner, not as Cecilia would, but she had made an effort.  Had Cecilia made that happen?

And yet the first question to come to mind is, “How did you know I was here?”

“Simple, I saw you go into this room.  It had to be either you, or the girl, so I made a choice.  I was not sure what I was going to do or say if I was wrong.”

“It wouldn’t bother Cecilia.  She and I, were just old friends.”

“Like us?”

“Are we old friends.  It seems to me that we had something else back then, for a brief time, until I had to go back.”

“You never did explain what happened to you.”

“No, and the less said about it the better.  I was young and stupid, like all men of that age, and I cheated death.  I was lucky, very lucky, and, I might add, very lucky too that you were my doctor.”

“May I come in?”

Standing in the passage discussing personal matters might have been more embarrassing for her than for me.  I stood to one side and let her pass.  There was no fount in my mind she had a device that was sending our conversation back to Larry.

There would be questions, probing for the truth.  Who I was, what I did, where I’d been.  Now, or over dinner, it was her task

I closed the door and leaned against it.

I had to ask, “What are you doing here?”

A puzzled look came over her face, surprised perhaps I’d be that direct in asking.

“I thought you asked me to dinner.”

“I did.”

“We’re you just asking for the sake of asking?”  There was a tinge of disappointment in her tone.

“No.  I thought dinner would be good since Cecilia is out there promoting herself. She asked me to come along and see what it is like, but it’s too near the limelight for me.”

“Do you and her have a thing?”

I’m not sure what ‘a thing’ meant.  “If you mean, a romantic attachment, no.  It’s too soon after Angelina’s death.  I may never get over it, but Cecilia popped up and said she was coming and she’s good fun.  And being seen with her makes me look good for an over-the-hill retiree.”

That might make it reasonably clear if she wanted to push this to another level it wasn’t going ti work.  Larry would be disappointed.  It would be interesting to see what she had as a plan B.

“You’re not that old, just out of practice, but I get it.  That doesn’t mean we can’t have dinner.”

“No, it does not.”

I thought about taking her to the hotel restaurant, but in the end opted for a long walk to St Mark’s square, one where a band was playing Rogers and Hammerstein musical songs.

The distance between us wasn’t physical, she was right beside me, so close I could have reached out and taken her hand in mine, it was the thought of her duplicity.

If she told me what was happening, I would have tried very hard to get her out of the predicament and take away Larry’s perceived advantage.

I hadn’t activated the scrambler, so Larry was no doubt listening in, but the conversation wouldn’t be all that informative.  I spoke about Venice, deliberately, and of Angelina.  Larry could make of that whatever he wanted.

At the restaurant we sat near to the orchestra, to help obfuscate the sound, and opposite each other.  She was drinking champagne; I was having a beer.

“So, what have you been doing with yourself since I last met you?”

It begins.

© Charles Heath 2022

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