A Deal with Di CapuaBy: Cathy Williams
ROSIE HAD NEVER been to a cremation before. Even when her dad had died eight years before, there had been a funeral. Friends—and he had had a surprising number of them, bearing in mind he had spent the majority of his life blearily watching the sun rise and set from the bottom of a whisky glass—had come to pay their respects. Rosie had known few of them. Her own friends had tagged along to give her moral support. At the age of eighteen, she had needed it. From recollection, a distant cousin who had turned out to live a scant three blocks away, in an impoverished two-bedroomed bungalow on a council estate remarkably similar to theirs, had shown up and expressed regret that he hadn’t been a more consistent family member.
For all his drunken ways and love of the bottle her father had been a jovial alcoholic and the number of people who had turned out on that brilliantly hot summer day had been testimony to that.
She had arrived late. It was bitterly cold and a series of small mishaps had made the journey far longer and more arduous than it should have been: Ice on the tracks. Rush hour on the tube. Signal problems as she had neared Earl’s Court. It hadn’t helped that she had purposefully decided to arrive late so that she could sneak into the back of the chapel and disappear before the service was finished. She had anticipated blending into the crowds.
Hovering now at the back, Rosie felt her heart begin to thud at the scant clutch of people who had shown up for the cremation of Amanda Di Capua, née Amanda Wheeler. Having made the effort to attend the ceremony, she was now desperate to leave, but her unsteady legs had a will of their own. They propelled her forwards so that she neared the group at the front. She kept her eyes firmly fixed on the plump middle-aged man addressing them in a crisp, no-nonsense voice.
Of course, he would be there: Angelo Di Capua. Why kid herself that she hadn’t seen him? The instant she had stepped into the chapel her eyes had swivelled in his direction. He was easy to spot, but then hadn’t he always been? Three years was not nearly long enough for her to have buried the memory of just how tall, how striking, how impossibly good-looking he was. In a packed room, he had always had the ability to stand out. It was just the way he was built.
The horrible, sickening nervous tension that had begun to build over a week ago when she had received that phone call informing her of Amanda’s death—when she had decided that she would attend the funeral because Mandy had, after all, once been her closest friend—was spiralling into an unstoppable wave of nausea.
She forced herself to breathe and drew her thick coat tighter around her.
She wished that she had brought Jack along with her but he had wanted no part of it. His bitterness towards their one-time friend ran even deeper than hers.
The service ended whilst she was still lost in her thoughts and she felt the blood drain away from her face as the group of mismatched people began to turn around. She found that she couldn’t really recall any of the ceremony at all. The coffin had disappeared behind a curtain. In a few minutes, another batch of mourners would be arriving to replace them.
Angelo would surely come over to speak to her. Even he had some rudimentary politeness, and she forced herself to smile and walk forwards as though she was happy to mingle with the handful of people nearing her.
Angelo was among them. Beautiful, sexy Angelo. How must he be taking the death of his young wife? And had he even seen Rosie yet? She wondered whether there was still time to flee the scene but it was too late: a young woman was walking towards her, holding out her hand and introducing herself as Lizzy Valance.
“I phoned you. Remember?” She wiped her eyes with a handkerchief, which she stuffed into the top of the black dress that barely seemed equipped for the job of restricting some of the biggest breasts Rosie had ever seen in her life.
“Yes. Of course...”
“I got your name from Mandy’s address book. Plus you were logged in her mobile phone, but I would have got hold of you anyway, cos she always talked about you.”
“Oh really?” Rosie’s mouth twisted. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Angelo talking to the vicar while glancing surreptitiously at his watch. He hardly looked like a grieving husband, but then what did she know? She had seen neither him nor Amanda for a very long time, had no idea how life had treated them. She was dimly aware of Lizzy talking, reminiscing over the good times she and Mandy had had, although it seemed those times had become fewer and further between towards the end because of Mandy’s drinking.