Deliver us from this evil, Dear Lord
Matteo Luciano hurried across the courtyard and felt the cold leap into his bones. At this time of morning, when the mist was high and the air still damp, it was most beautiful here in the hills surrounding the bay that was the millionaires playground of Riviera Rosso, situated in Montenegro. The phone in Matteo's pocket still shone a dull light onto the inside of his lined jacket, as it had been mere moments ago that Silvia Cochetti, had woken up and rang him in a blind panic. Her husband, Rufus, had refused to wake for the early morning stroll that they normally took.
Matteo hastened and saw, with suspicion, that Commander Alfredo Silsky had arrived in a black armoured Land Rover. Alfredo was running to fat and possibly beyond that mark, and he was ill with desire over the money and infamy that Matteo and his master and friends had gained. They paid him but a small slice of what they usually gained but even that only gave him a tantalizing taste of what he could have. Matteo hated Alfredo, and he walked past he paid him not the slightest bit of notice.
Silvia was already in the hallway on heels and draped with a stole to keep the cold away. The marble was cold and the wind came in great gusts. Matteo ran a hand through his dark hair and looked confused. Rufus was on the floor in the room, beside a large wooden bed that was far too big and a painting that meant nothing except investment. He liked the large, ornate scribbles of the artist and he always smiled when he entered and looked at it. Today was no day to smile though.
Today was all action. There was a bullet hole in the window and a distinct hole which had carved out a gash in Rufus's abdomen and came out of his backside.
"Matteo! Do something!" Silvia was past the level of simple sadness. She was desolated. Her face showed age and her legs shook as if her body had gained amounts of unforeseen weight. Matteo tried to look important and efficient. Usually, he was always joking and being stupid. Not today. Not now.
"Madame...calm down. Here..." he poured her a glass of warm Prosecco. She grabbed it and drank from the side of her mouth. "Did you hear anything?"
Silvia shook her head. "No, all I hear was him falling down," she looked anxious as if willing him to believe her. He took her story at face value. Doubting would be useless.
He paced around unfazed by the blood and gore. He had killed before anyway.
Then it hit him. He knew a person, but they were far away. Very far. All the way in America. He remembered a youthful face, dark eyes and the merest whisper of a moustache that framed the upper lip and a pierced ear.
He also remembered the girl. She had talked in an unfamiliar accent. Not quite American and not fully British, more like a deadly version of both. She knew Italian. Vaguely. She wore shorts and seemed to sneer at him even though he had tried to look his best. She only seemed to be in silent, unspoken awe of her friend who was, it transpired, half Arab.
Theo Darke. The conversation came flooding back.
"Take my card...if you ever need help, yell like hell. However, never on no account must you call me Theodore. Ever," he had said. "Just Theo."
The girl had piped in. "Yeah, just Theo. Call him 'Theodore' and you may as well snap your own neck. HA!" the shout of laughter was abrupt and zany. She smelled of milk chocolate and fruity perfume. The letter 's' on the word 'snap' had been rolled so it sounded like she was saying 'shnap' and not 'snap'.
They would help. He would yell. Like hell.