21 December 2002
My Dearest Lucinda
It’s been three months now, to the day. I have tried to forget that evening, but I cannot. The champagne, the evening, the dance – they all live in my memory and they haunt me night and day.
It is difficult to explain what you did to me; even more difficult to understand the impact you had on my family. Mama, as you know, is the ultimate socialite. She builds networks like you cannot believe. Once she knew you were a Verdana, there was no stopping her. She mentions you and your father in almost every conversation since.
Papa is more – how shall I put it – reserved? He knows what a liaison with the Verdana name would mean. After all, your father is a respected and successful businessman; while Papa’s ties with the Mafia are the subject of much speculation. I mention this only to tell you I understand – completely –the fact that you have not returned a single phone call or responded to the many e-mails I have sent you.
This is why I now take the more conventional route to write to you. Old fashioned, I know, but still I pray you will have the courage to not only read this letter, but to respond to it as well.
Papa will be hosting his annual New Year’s part again; as he does every year. It is a glamorous affair with many influential people attending. No expense is spared and he is even flying in ABBA – I think you know the group.
I will have the chauffeur pick you up at 5pm on the 31st. Pack an overnight bag, will you? I shall not take ‘no’ for an answer.
25 February 2003
Thank you for the roses that arrived today. They are truly magnificent. Where did you find them – at the end of our winter, no less! I’m sure they cost a fortune to fly in. You really have been spoiling me lately with flowers; not to mention the diamond necklace and the Breitling.
I’m quite overwhelmed by you attentions, I must tell you that. No man has been this kind to me – except Marco, of course. If I think of you, I’m so reminded of my father’s chivalry and kindness.
The weekend in Monaco sounds fabulous. Are you really sending a helicopter to fetch me? It sounds a bit over the top, doesn’t it? But – I prefer to drive with my Fiat – I’ll meet up with you there.
Papa, like you can understand, frowns on our relationship. I told him you have nothing to do with your fathers doings, but he doesn’t listen. Consequently, I think it’s best we keep our weekend in Monaco a secret. Whatever Papa says, the Hôtel Port Palace sounds divine and I cannot wait to see you there.
With fondest memories,
15 May 2003
I’m sure you saw the news today. Papa’s arrest was all over the papers, so I guess you simply couldn’t miss it. Of course, the charges are ridiculous and nobody believes them, but still it casts a shadow over our wedding.
I have to be honest here. With Papa in jail, I have to assume – shall we say – the duties of his office. He has far-ranging business ventures and somebody must take care of it. Our financial future depends on it, I’m afraid. However, with your father’s fortune in reserve, I’m sure we’ll be able to continue our lives quite comfortably.
Well, Saturday is the big day. Everything is arranged. As per tradition, I shall not see you beforehand and I cannot wait to see you coming down the aisle on your father’s arm. I’ve made sure all the arrangements are in place – there are quite a few of them: caterers, musicians, priest, everything.
You’ll love the wedding ring. I had it made by Cartier, and they assured me it is unique – not only in appearance, but also in cost. (As if they thought they could surprise me!)
My friends are waiting for me. We have a bit of a bachelor’s at the casino and they want to celebrate the cessation of my loneliness.
Oh, and I expect my father to be able to attend the wedding, after all. He has friends in high places, you know? And tell old Marco not to fret so much. His digging into my father’s past has done a lot of damage. He’ll have to stop, if we are to have any chance of happiness in the future.
And now, my love, I have to go. I count the hours until Saturday.
Lucinda glances around in Boggel’s Place. This is so far removed from the absolute luxury she experienced in Monaco. There, the floors were marble, the trimmings in the bathroom gold, and the Dom Pérignon – a ’69. Now she looks at the stained counter where Boggel slides over a fresh beer to Vetfaan, and she has to smile. A wry smile, to be sure; but still a smile with a certain amount of gratitude for the way things turned out.
Three letters she can’t forget. Three. She remembers them so clearly.
Boggel gets on his crate to touch fingers with her. His eyes light up when she reaches over to give him a hug.
“You’re a good man, Boggel. You remind me of Papa – an old-fashioned guy with old-fashioned values. I want you to know that.”
And Boggel – how can he ever know about those three letters? Will he understand if he did?
When the priest asked her if she took Giovanni as her husband, right there in front of everybody, while old Marco wiped away a tear – she could not say them. Not the the three most important letters in a woman’s life.
She changed them into five.
I do, became: I can’t.
One day, she’ll be brave enough to tell him. If there is one man worthy of those three letters, it is the man behind the counter.
She owes him that, at least…
And, with Christmas approaching …