A Legacy of Secrets(8)

By: Carol Marinelli

‘Fine, but if you’re driving I’m getting out. I can smell the whisky from here.’

For once he didn’t offer a smart retort, just gestured for her to carry on, and turning the car around at the first opportunity, she drove the trio back into town.

‘We can go to the hotel you are staying at,’ Ella suggested to Santo. ‘We can enter via the basement.’

‘No,’ Alessandro said. ‘I’m not going to be holed up somewhere by the press. I just want away from them.’

‘We could go to mine.’ Ella tried to think how best to give Alessandro privacy for a few days, though she could hardly imagine him staying at her cheap rental place. ‘It’s just a small villa, but it’s pretty tucked away, so I’m sure that they’d never think to look for you there.’

Ella glanced in the mirror as she awaited his response, but instead of answering her, Alessandro spoke briefly to his brother, who argued with him for a moment.

But then Santo spoke. ‘Take him to the harbour at Cala Marina.’ Santo gave her directions. ‘Alessandro wants to go to his yacht.’

Ella did as she was told, heading to the harbour where Alessandro’s yacht was docked. But despite her resolve to refuse to ask for details and despite reminding herself that it was none of her business as the car ate up the miles, on this, Ella couldn’t stay silent. ‘Do you really think that’s such a good idea?’ She turned worried eyes to Santo. Ella really didn’t like the idea of Alessandro alone on a yacht, given all that had happened.

‘I have just been reminded that I am the younger brother.’ Santo scratched at his neck and then pulled at his unbuttoned collar as if it was a little too tight. ‘He insists that we take him or he shall arrange his own transport there.’

Which gave them no choice—they were hardly going to let Alessandro out on the street to make his own way. So they drove, pretty much in silence, till they neared the pretty harbour. Ella almost willed one of the brothers to start talking so she could find out just a little of what had taken place last night, but perhaps because she was there, neither spoke about family matters.

‘Dove Alessia?’ For the first time Alessandro initiated conversation, asking where his ex-fiancée was, and Ella held her breath as they pulled into the harbour.

‘Puttana,’ came Santo’s crude and dismissive response, but Alessandro was insistent.

‘Where is she?’

And Ella was still holding her breath when Santo answered his brother, telling him the truth in a very dismissive voice—that it would seem that Alessia and their cousin Matteo had run off together.

The expletive that came from Alessandro was perhaps merited, and unlike Santo, he was nice enough to give a brief apology to Ella for his language before leaving the car and staggering off towards his yacht.

Santo sat for a moment and watched his brother and then climbed out of the car, trying, Ella presumed, to persuade Alessandro to come back with them.

She watched them argue for a moment but the bond between the two brothers was clear. It mattered not that Alessandro had thrown a few punches at Santo last night. It didn’t change anything between them. Not for the first time Ella wondered what it would be like to have a sibling, how it might feel to have someone in your corner—for how it hurt to deal with her parents alone.

But whatever Santo said to his brother, it didn’t work. Alessandro shrugged him off and she watched as Santo stood for a moment, then turned around. But instead of a roll of the eyes and the slightly cocky smile Santo often wore, his face was grey as he walked back towards the car and climbed in.

They sat for a moment and watched Alessandro board his yacht.

‘Do you think he’ll be all right?’ Ella was loath to leave.

‘Of course,’ Santo said. ‘He’s tough.’

He’d need to be tough—being jilted at the altar with the world’s cameras aimed on him, Ella thought. ‘Santo, I don’t know that it’s right to leave him.’

‘Just drive.’ Again Santo dismissed her worries. ‘He’ll be fine.’

She couldn’t believe his lack of concern, but that was Santo. He dealt with stuff as it cropped up and then moved easily on to the next thing, never worrying about the chaos he was leaving behind.

Ella rang ahead and asked housekeeping to sort out his suite and run a bath and asked for some breakfast and a lot of coffee to be sent up.

‘Assuming that your company won’t mind,’ Ella checked, telling herself that she wasn’t fishing for answers.

‘She’s gone.’