'Finally you get to meet the Lost Mistresses.’
Luka followed Giovanni up the winding stairs to the attic of his luxurious Long Island home. Luka wore a suit and tie. His thick black hair was neat and hewas clean shaven. Even though he was a personal friend, Luka was dressed just as if he were meeting a client in his Fifth Avenue office.
As they entered the attic the old man turned on a light. It wasn’t really necessary, for a huge skylight let in the midday sun, and Luka took a moment to look around.
The attic held an eclectic mix of modern and antique furniture. There was a huge dressing table and a stunning antique mirror contrasting with a rack of modern gowns and a stack of fashion shots.
It was clear that the attic was often used.
In the corner was an old globe and Luka took a moment to look at countries that were now divided.
‘I would like to leave you the globe,’ Giovanni told him. ‘You used to look at it when it was in my study…’
Instead of accepting the heirloom though, Luka shook his head.
‘There’s no need for that,’ Luka said. ‘It has the potential to complicate things.’
‘Always you think of the worst.’ Giovanni sighed.
‘Isn’t that why you asked me to be here today?’
Luka was a skilled and highly sought-after probate attorney. Detached and cynical, he anticipated and foreshadowed every potential issue for rich and feuding families when an estate was divided. Luka’s grandfather had been a friend of Giovanni’s, and today Luka was here to modify Giovanni’s last will and testament.
The vast Di Sione business empire had been dealt with, but the more intimate side had been entrusted to Luka.
Benito, Giovanni’s son, had lived a hedonistic life and had died along with his wife, leaving the old man to raise his many grandchildren. All were adults now, but despite their wealth and glamour, there was a lot of dysfunction.
Luka and Giovanni had spent the morning touching on complex issues when the tale of the Lost Mistresses had been mentioned. Giovanni had told it over and over to his grandchildren and even Luka had heard it on occasion.
Don’t ask me how I came by them, for an old man must have some secrets. But when I came to America, I had in my possession precious trinkets, my Lost Mistresses. They meant more to me than you can ever know, but in order to survive, I was forced to sell them. My Lost Mistresses. The loves of my life… We owe them everything.
Now Giovanni took out a key, opened up an antique dresser and took out an envelope that contained some photos. One by one Giovanni handed the pictures to Luka. Their subjects ranged from stunning jewels to a Fabergé box to a first-edition antique book.
‘There is another one. There are eight Lost Mistresses in all.’ Giovanni’s voice was wistful, and Luka looked over at him. ‘The last one lives only here…’ He tapped his head. ‘The rest were sold.’
‘When you came from Italy to America?’ Luka checked.
The old man did not answer and, eternally suspicious, Luka sensed evasion.
‘Giovanni?’ Luka pushed.
‘There are many secrets that I had intended to take to my grave, yet I want to see these one more time—to hold them in my hands again. Though perhaps things are best left alone…’ Giovanni was clearly conflicted, and he took a seat in faded leather chair and closed his tired eyes for a moment.
‘Take your time,’ Luka offered.
‘I don’t have time though!’ Giovanni snapped. ‘The doctor told me that. I want this all to be sorted.’
‘And I shall ensure that it is.’ Luka’s practical voice elicited a tired but grateful nod.
Luka’s days were packed but he had cleared his busy schedule when Giovanni had called.
‘Why don’t we go back down to your study?’ Luka suggested. He did not deal in sentiment, and there was far too much of that here for Giovanni to make sensible choices. ‘There we can…’ He did not get to finish. Alma, the housekeeper, was calling up to them and her summons were urgent.
‘Giovanni!’ she shouted. ‘You must come quickly. Hurry!’
‘You go…’ Giovanni gave a wave of his hand and Luka headed down to be greeted by a frantic Alma.
‘There is a woman looking for Matteo, and she’s furious. She is threatening to release a horse onto the property…’
‘Excuse me?’ Luka checked.
Life was always interesting when he visited the Di Siones, and this he had to see.
He strode through the sprawling residence as Alma hurried behind him.
‘She’s very angry,’ Alma warned as he went to open the main door.
Indeed Maya was.
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