It is foolish, when faced with the truth, not just the bare bones of it but with it the facts that bind it together, to simply ignore it. People often said Rosa was foolish.
Rosa’s ancestral home is a seventeeth century castello, standing proud on the Sicilian coast. A privileged childhood was hers, not that she’d appreciated it at the time. Growing up she was aware of her family’s reputation. She was invited to every party in the province and rarely received grades below a B, even when she didn’t study.This continued into her adulthood.
Taxi drivers refused to take money from her, boutiques were eager for her to wear their latest range, restaurants offered her free meals and her job on the local paper came very easily.
Rosa’s father had died three years ago. In his last letter to her he had made her promise to uphold the family name, and help her mother run the businesses. She tried her best; it wasn’t good enough. Her mother joined her father last year. Her friends had helped her through and the businesses ran themselves. Rosa had never felt alone until now. Now she knew the true meaning of it.
The old safety deposit box had been in her family for centuries. The men in Rosa’s family didn’t trust banks. Now the box was empty. About half and hour ago, it had contained a large sum of money, bonds but the most precious thing it had contained was a picture of her grandfather cutting the ribbon for the opening of the local primary school. It was the last photograph she had of him. Acknowledgement of the family’s patronage had been set in a brass on a plaque at the front door of the school.
‘It’s our duty,’ her grandfather had said. ‘We have a lot of people relying on us in this community. We have a responsibility to protect it and look after it.’
Carlo must have scooped up the photo with the money in his hurry to get out, whilst she was in the shower.
Carlo had been different. He hadn’t opened doors for her, didn’t pay her compliments and often turned up late for dates. Carlo was the personification of ‘treat them mean, keep them keen.’ Rosa liked that. It was different. With Carlo, she hadn’t been the Motisi girl, she was Rosa; nothing more nothing less. He hadn’t cared about her money or the family’s reputation. It felt good. She’d been wrong.
Her father’s words rang in her ears, ‘no-one makes a fool of the Motisies, Rosa.’
She walked to the beside cabinet and reached into the top draw for her address book. She knew who to call. She dialled the number for her father’s taxi company. Even now she still thought of it as his business.
Rosa’s father hadn’t shared much of his work with her, making running the inherited businesses all the more difficult. She always felt out of her depth, so Rosa left business to the various men her father had employed. She found this was the best way. Her father had always said they were good men and to be trusted.
Rico answered. The son of the manager of the taxi business, Rico was a good catholic boy with a strong sense of justice.
‘Pronto!’ Rico voice was professional.
‘Buongiorno Rico, it’s Rosa,’
‘Rosa, how are you?’ Rico’s voice relaxed.
‘I need help Rico.’
‘Then you came to the right guy, whadda you need?’
Rosa explained the situation and Rico finished it.
‘And no one makes a fool of the Motisies, right?’
‘I just want the photo back. I don’t care about the money,’ Rosa replied.
‘You’ll get it back.’
‘Hey, Rosa, I’m always here, you know that, right?’
‘How about a drink when this is done. I’ll pick you up at seven, OK? I’ll have your photo back by then, I promise.’
‘OK,’ Rosa replied. ‘See you then.’
She hung up and sat down on the edge of the bed. The loneliness was gone. She was lucky to have people like Rico she could rely on. Rosa’s father had said Rico would be a good husband for her. Perhaps he had been right.
Rico took her to a beautiful restaurant, wined and dined her and returned her money, bonds and the photo of her grandfather. She had been very grateful and surprised at how quickly he’d got them back for her.
The next few days passed in the usual blur of routine. She was seeing Rico again on Friday and was looking forward to it. Sitting at her desk in the news office, a ping from her computer told her a new press release had arrived in her mailbox.
‘Body found in shallow grave.The body of Carlo De Santis has been found in a shallow grave by the side of the road just outside Ficuzza.’
Rosa took a deep breath in. It had to be a coincidence. Picking up her bag from the desk she walked outside to the car park at the front of the office. She dialled Rico’s number.
‘Hey Rico, it’s Rosa.’
‘Rosa, hey cara mia.’
Rosa’s father had always told her not to ask questions.
‘I have to ask you something, Rico.’
For the third time in a week, Rosa was a fool.
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