Edmund and Frankie heard the gunshot from the kitchen, both recognising it for what it was. Ava heard it too, the loud ‘crack’ startling her, making her jump. “What was that?” She cried through floods of tears, her head still buried in her father’s chest.
“Nothing, baby. Just a champagne cork popping – just people enjoying the party, that’s all,” Edmund assured her.
But as he said it an icy chill ran down his spine. What in the hell was going on? He had no idea but whatever it was, for his daughter’s sake, it had to stop. Ava was already scared out of her wits, convinced that her step-father was the devil and probably traumatised by whatever it was she had witnessed that night for the rest of her life.
Well enough was enough. Edmund was going to have it out with Liuzzi. Now.
Delicately, he peeled Ava’s arms away from his neck and gently placed her back down on the stool by the door. “Stay here, sweetie,” he said, “Daddy will be back in just a moment.”
“No, Daddy! Don’t leave me, please don’t leave me!” Begged the little girl.
“It’s okay, honey,” he said, kissing her gently on the forehead, “I’ll be back before you know it, just you wait and see. I promise.”
Ava snivelled, tears still streaming down her face. “You swear?”
As Edmund made to leave, Frankie stood in his way.
“Really?” Edmund said incredulously. “Here? In front of my daughter – after what she’s been through already?”
“Just following orders.”
“I don’t give a damn about your orders, I care about my daughter and I’m gonna see Liuzzi whether you like it or not.” Edmund made to barge past but Frankie grabbed his arm.
Edmund glared at him, anger burning in his face. “Take your hand off me,” he snarled, “or so help me I’ll lay you out.”
Frankie stared back and after looking into the chauffeur’s eyes he did not doubt it. Frankie had a daughter too, back in New York, and he understood how Edmund felt, even sympathised. However, he still did not let go.
Sensing the other man’s empathy, Edmund said, “Look, stay here with my daughter. Do your job. Take care of her like you were told to by Liuzzi. I won’t be but a minute. You have my word.”
Against his better judgement, Frankie released his grip allowing Edmund to snatch his arm away. He then marched down the length of the huge kitchen heading determinedly for the library.
However, as he reached the kitchen door, he spotted Salvatore and Vito approaching. He stopped abruptly and pressed his back against the wall to the side of the doorway, hoping not to be seen. He did not need a run-in with Falcone, too, as he would not be as understanding as Frankie.
Salvatore and Vito were escorting two other men, rather roughly, and for a moment Edmund thought they were heading for the kitchen but, instead, Falcone opened the French doors that led through to the morning room and out onto the sun deck by the pool. Unbeknownst to Edmund, who remained unseen, they were on their way to the tennis courts that were situated to the west of the enormous garden, far away from the fairy lights and Parisian street lamps that still illuminated the eastern lawn.
Nevertheless, when they were gone, Edmund continued down the hall and, with considerable trepidation, silently opened the library door to confront Carlo Liuzzi once and for all.
Continues tomorrow or download the complete novel here