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Home > Sands of Time(24)

Sands of Time(24)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

"They have betrayed me," he moaned. "They have all betrayed me. Judge Giovanni Buscetta - I owned him, Lucia! I made him a wealthy man, and he did this terrible thing to me. And Patas. I was like a father to him. What has the world come to? Whatever happened to honor? They are Sicilians, like me."

Lucia took her father's hand in hers and said in a low voice, "I am Sicilian too, Papa. You shall have your vengeance. I swear it to you, on my life."

"My life is over," her father told her. "But yours is still ahead of you. I have a numbered account in Zurich. The Bank Leu. There is more money there than you could spend in ten lifetimes." He whispered a number in her ear. "Leave cursed Italy. Take the money and enjoy yourself."

Lucia held him close. "Papa - "

"If you ever need a friend, you can trust Dominic Durell. We are like brothers. He has a home in France at Beziers, near the Spanish border."

"I'll remember."

"Promise me you'll leave Italy."

"Yes, Papa. But there is something I have to do first."

Having a burning desire for revenge was one thing; figuring out a way to get it was another. She was alone, and it was not going to be easy. Lucia thought of the Italian expression Rubare il mestiere - You steal their profession. I must think the way they da

A few weeks after her father and brothers had started serving their prison sentences, Lucia Carmine appeared at the home of Judge Giovanni Buscetta. The judge himself opened the door.

He stared at Lucia in surprise. He had seen her often when he was a guest at the Carmine home, but they had never had much to say to each other.

"Lucia Carmine! What are you doing here? You shouldn't have - "

"I have come to thank you, Your Honor."

He studied her suspiciously. "Thank me for what?"

Lucia looked deep into his eyes. "For exposing my father and brothers for what they were. I was an innocent, living in that house of horrors. I had no idea what monsters - " She broke down and began to sob.

The judge stood there uncertainly, then patted her shoulder. "There, there. Come in and have some tea."

"Th - thank you."

When they were seated in the living room, Judge Buscetta said, "I had no idea that you felt that way about your father. I had the impression that you were very close."

"Only because I had no idea what he and my brothers were really like. When I found out - " She shuddered. "You don't know what it was like. I wanted to get away, but there was no escape for me."

"I didn't understand." He patted her hand. "I'm afraid I misjudged you, my dear."

"I was terrified of him." Her voice was filled with passion.

Judge Buscetta noticed, not for the first time, what a beautiful young woman Lucia was. She was wearing a simple black dress that revealed the outlines of her lush body. He looked at her rounded breasts and could not help observing how grown up she had become.

It would be amusing, Buscetta thought, to sleep with the daughter of Angelo Carmine. He's powerless to hurt me now. The old bastard thought he owned me, but I was too smart for him. Lucia is probably a virgin. I could teach her a few things in bed

An elderly housekeeper brought in a tray of tea and a platter of cookies. She put them on a table. "Shall I pour?"

"Let me," Lucia said. Her voice was warm and filled with promise.

Judge Buscetta smiled at Lucia. "You can go," he told the housekeeper.

"Yes, sir."

The judge watched as Lucia walked over to the small table where the tray had been set down and carefully poured out tea for the judge and herself.

"I have a feeling you and I could become very good friends, Lucia," Giovanni Buscetta said, probing.

Lucia gave him a seductive smile. "I would like that very much, Your Honor."

"Please - Giovanni."

"Giovanni." Lucia handed him his cup. She raised her cup in a toast. 'To the death of villains."

Smiling, Buscetta lifted his cup. "To the death of villains." He took a swallow and grimaced. The tea tasted bitter.

"Is it too - ?"

"No, no. It is fine, my dear."

Lucia raised her cup again. "To our friendship."

She took another sip, and he joined her.

"To - "

Buscetta never finished his toast. He was seized by a sudden spasm, and he felt a red-hot poker stabbing at his heart. He grabbed his chest. "Oh, my God! Call a doctor..."

Lucia sat there, calmly sipping her tea, watching the judge stumble to his feet and fall to the floor. He lay there, his body twitching, and then he was still.

"That's one, Papa," Lucia said.

Benito Patas was in his cell playing solitaire when the jailer announced, "You have a conjugal visitor."

Benito beamed. He had been given special status as an informer, with many privileges, and conjugal visits was one of them. Patas had half a dozen girlfriends, and they alternated their visits. He wondered which one had come today.

He studied himself in the little mirror hanging on the wall of his cell, put some pomade on his hair, slicked it back, then followed the guard through the prison corridor to the section where there were private rooms.

The guard motioned him inside. Patas strutted into the room, filled with anticipation. He stopped and stared in surprise.

"Lucia! My God, what the hell are you doing here? How did you get in?"

Lucia said softly, "I told them we were engaged, Benito."

She was wearing a stunning red low-cut silk dress that clung to the curves of her body.

Benito Patas backed away from her. "Get out."

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