The Last Promise

The Last Promise by Richard Paul Evans

Book: The Last Promise by Richard Paul Evans Read Free Book Online
Authors: Richard Paul Evans
woven wine demijohn in the corner of the room with a missing cap, indicating its emptiness. They climbed back up to the kitchen.
    Beyond the kitchen, through a door leading outside the villa, was a newly bricked terrace with a pizza oven for summer cooking. The wall behind the oven was already blackened with use.
    “This will be useful during the summer months when it is too hot to cook in the house,” Luigi observed.
    They went back inside. A small hallway led to the bathroom and the apartment’s only bedroom. The tiny room was floored in rose-colored tile and there was a small rug at the end of the bed. The bed itself was queen-sized with an ornate wrought iron headboard bent in an intricate floral pattern. A wood carving of the Madonna and child was mounted to the wall above the headboard.
    Aside from the bed the only furniture in the room was an antique wood armoire with four drawers and a closet for hanging clothes. There was one window, obscured by sheer curtains that draped from a metal rod clear to the floor. Ross pulled back the curtains then pushed open the shutters, exposing the thick foliage that grew a little taller than the windowsill, and in the distance he saw a vast landscape of hills spotted with trellises and orchards. The room had one bathroom with a tile shower bored into the wall like a cave. There were new bathroom fixtures, shiny chrome and porcelain. “The bathroom is modern,” Anna said. “We updated it for the Germans.”
    While Anna turned off lights in the back of the apartment, Ross and Luigi stepped aside.
    “It is nice, no?”
    Ross nodded his approval. “How much is she asking?”
    “She wants three million lire a month with at least a six-month lease. I told her that the lease is not a problem for you. If it is longer than six months, she is willing to negotiate a lower price.”
    “The only problem is transportation. This place is pretty remote.”
    “Yes, it is far. You should purchase a scooter, I think. I told the lady that you work in the city and she says that there is a bus into Florence every hour.
    “They also heat with gasolio , like the place in the country, but I think it is not so bad here because these old villas have thick walls. There is also a swimming pool to the side of the villa. She wants to show us.”
    Anna had already left the apartment, and while Luigi followed her out into the courtyard, Ross lingered in the kitchen absorbing the vibrations of the old place. He felt as if he had been there a thousand times before. While the particulars were different, it was precisely where he had fled in his mind to escape his previous life. He had never imagined that he would be here this soon. If at all. He felt as if he was finally home. He glanced about once more, then followed after Anna and Luigi.
    Anna led them back out through the courtyard, then outside the villa walls to a narrow dirt path that led to the swimming pool.
    “Parking is here if you buy a car or scooter,” said Luigi, pointing to a flat, gravel area with a simple, yet ingenious canopy that Ross stopped to examine. It was a wood-beam frame with chain-link fence thrown over the top, now rendered solid by a heavy grapevine that had snaked in and around the fencing until it was thick as a thatch roof.
    Ross hadn’t seen the pool when they entered as it was around the west side of the villa, built on a terrace overlooking the vineyards. There was a lattice archway leading into it with grapevines growing around it, the seasoned vines overtaking the structure and appearing to support the aged wood rather than the opposite.
    The pool was large and its cool aqua-blue water shimmered. Not far from the pool there was a child’s slide and swing set.
    As Ross looked around he saw that they weren’t alone. On the far side of the pool, lying on a blanket, was a young woman wearing a light, beige sundress, the straps down over her shoulders. She had sleek, well-proportioned features, a slender waist, full

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