This is it lovely folks! I finally finished the story. Thank you to all of you who waited with baited breath for each new post and I hope that even though this particular story is finished, you will still come back and visit. Let me know in the comments if you have any more ideas for stories or posts of any kind because I would love to give you things you love to read.
If you are lost, start at the beginning.
As always, these characters belong to the lovely Lisa Bergren.
“T-time travel?” I stuttered. “That’s a little extreme of a claim, isn’t it?”
“Not when it’s true. The Forelli family died out forty years ago when Ben Forelli gave the estate to the city to be a museum. Nobody in that family has been called Luca in a long time, since the time of kings and lords, to be precise.” Emiliana’s smug grin settled onto her face as she spoke. “Therefore, you either picked that name up from the museum, which I have been assured you have never visited, or you got it the same place you got your archaic Italian.”
Nobody said anything for a moment. I was still trying to process how she could possibly have figured out that much information about us in such a short amount of time.
“Now, as I mentioned earlier, I need to figure out what to do with you two.” Emiliana said slowly and deliberately.
“We have to go back to the tomb.” The words were out of Luca’s mouth before I could stop them. I gasped and turned to see that his jaw was set in determination.
“Luca, we can’t – ” I started, but he cut me off.
“We have no choice Lia. We have to trust her. If we don’t, we won’t be able to get back to the tomb in time to meet your sister and we will be stranded here.”
“He’s right, you know.” Emiliana raised an expectant eyebrow at me.
“Alright, fine.” I conceded, realizing I was beaten. Emiliana wouldn’t be able to prove anything once we were gone anyway, so as long as she let us go I couldn’t see any way for permanent harm. But there was still something about her I couldn’t bring myself to trust. “What sort of clever plan do you have to whisk us away?”
“The tomb.” Emiliana said, leaning forward eagerly and perching her elegant chin on her steepled fingers. “What is the significance? Is that how… how it happens?”
“Yes.” I hesitated. “There are… handprints. If my sister and I touch them at the same time, we…” I trailed off and waved my hands, not really sure how to explain the oddity of that tunnel.
“Your sister: where is she?” Emiliana queried.
“She’s at home.” Luca tried to sound flippant as he said it, but the slightest crack in his voice at the word home almost got me bawling out of frustration and longing. Like a little child who desperately wants nothing more than the comfort of their mother’s arms. And then I thought about my mother. And my dad and Gabi and Marcello and little Fortino.
“How soon can we get there?” I interrupted Emiliana’s next question before I even realized that she had already been speaking.
“Lia, we can’t leave until Gabi’s hand is on the print too.” Luca gently reminded me. His eyes were full of empathy and I knew I wasn’t going to make anything any easier by throwing a fit about it.
“You’ll come to my place.” Emiliana declared, springing regally off of the arm of the couch and grabbing her purse.
“Hold on a second, where are you going?” I asked, incredulous at her commanding attitude.
“We’re leaving. Get your things. There will be a car waiting downstairs for you in ten minutes. Pack quickly.” And with that, she was gone.
Emiliana lived in a mansion. Which, I really shouldn’t be able to complain about seeing as I lived in a castle, but I had forgotten the full extent of modern finery. The foyer alone was overwhelming. High arching ceilings stretched above us with three delicate chandeliers draping gracefully from them. The walls were covered in tapestries and the floors were actual bonafide marble. Emiliana swept down the dainty, spindly staircase the instant we walked into the house and before I could process it, I was alone in my own personal suite, trying to make my meager suitcase fill the gigantic walk-in closet that was adjacent to my bedroom/living room and across from my luxurious bathroom with a fully functioning Jacuzzi. I figured the next few days would be bearable if I could simply manage to relax and enjoy them.
“Knock knock!” Emiliana chirped jovially from the doorway. She had been uncannily cheerful since we arrived and I still wasn’t quite sure what ulterior motive she had for it. “I just came to see how you are settling in.”
“Just fine, thank you.” I replied.
“I’m glad. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask.” She seemed every bit the perfect hostess.
“Why are you doing this?” I asked her. “Why did you feel the need to sniff us out and, and I don’t know take us in? What’s the point?”
“Manero stole my father’s credit too.” Emiliana whispered intensely. “He was on the hunt for you and I knew if he found you he would kidnap you and ship you off to somewhere foul and far away. He would strip you of all funds, of your identity, of your ability to ever come back and possibly be a threat to his fame and fortune. My father went missing thirteen years ago. He wrote one letter, only ever one. He has never been able to sneak another one through, but I know is trapped in some sort of slave labor in some desert in Lebanon. If he’s still alive, anyway. I had to do something that wouldn’t endanger him, but that would get under Manero’s skin. He will never know what happened to you and your family and it will haunt him for the rest of his life, knowing that you might still be out there, planning revenge. Paranoid fool. He will waste a boat load of money on his search for you and the fact that he can’t control you will drive him mad. And that will have to be my revenge.” Her face was flushed and her perfect cheekbones were dripping with impassioned tears by the time she finished her speech.
We sat in silence for a minute as I absorbed everything that she had just said. She certainly seemed to be telling the truth. If she wasn’t it was a pretty darn convincing performance.
“Okay.” I said.
“Okay what?” She sniffed, all of a sudden regaining her composure and her overconfident air.
“Okay, I’ll trust you.” I said. “But if you screw us over, please know that we are both trained in combat. And we are determined to get home.”
“I know. Thank you.” Emiliana said gravely, slipping out of the room.
“Emiliana, wait!” I called after her.
“Yes?” She poked her head back around the doorframe.
“How did you know I’m combat trained?” I asked.
“The famous She-Wolves of Siena. You didn’t really think I hadn’t figured out who they were, did you?” She quirked an eyebrow at me and then was gone.
“This is it then.” Emiliana hugged me briefly before shaking Luca’s hand and closing his door to the cab. “It has been great having you this week. I hope you find the home that you are craving.” The last part she whispered to me through the open window with her characteristic smirk.
“Thank you Emiliana. From the bottom of my heart, grazi.” I waved as the cab began the journey down the impossibly long and winding driveway and out to Castello Forelli. He dropped us off at the museum and we lingered just long enough to be sure he was gone. We snuck around the back and toward the tomb blessedly uninterrupted.
“Are you ready to be home?” Luca asked as we stepped into the cool, dark space.
“More than ready.” I smiled up at him and placed my hand on the wall. It was warm and getting warmer all the time. I felt Luca’s strong arm around me and then I collapsed into the expectant gaze of my sister.
Home at last.