WE smiled at each other, embraced again, and I said, “I would really like to do this again.”
Instead of closing down as I expected her to, she said, “And so would I.”
I watched her walk down the alley and then turn a corner out of sight, and it was then I realised I was going to have to somehow find my way back to Illie’s without any idea of where it really was.
As I was scratching my head about this, I noticed the silhouette of a familiar figure down the end of the street.
It was Viktor, and he waved his arm at me slowly, perhaps reluctantly.
“He’s been wondering where you’ve been,” he said as we walked to the car.
“And what did you say?”
“I said you had wanted some fresh air so I drove you to the beach up at Cape Greco. He won’t take kindly to hearing you were in Napa.”
“Have you been trailing me all day?” I said.
“You didn’t stray far,” Viktor said. “You didn’t tell her anything about Illie, did you?” he said, gesturing toward the entrance to the alley Lou had gone up with a nod of his head. “Or Evgeny and the girls?” “No, not at all,” I said.
The lie was stupid. It felt stupid as it came out of my mouth, and there was no doubt Viktor had recognised it for a lie. The drive back to Illie’s happened in silence.
The second painting session started out quite differently from the first. Illie again appeared at the door of the tower – I was reading in the armchair – and this time he was sober and dressed in that moneyed smart-casual way.
His Picasso eyes were not burning so brightly as they had done last time – there was something of the jovial Illie I had come to know about him now.
“We have not seen each other in a few days,” he said. “You are good?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Viktor tells me he took you into town.”
> The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond is published by Parthian www.parthianbooks.com