A month later Daniel and I were at Victoria Station on our way to catch the Blue Train to the Riviera. Nell would be joining us after securing herself a job as a photographer for The Tatler, covering the society aspects of Motor Racing. I felt a lot better having Nell with me as well as Daniel, safety in numbers, isn’t that what they say? Father and Beatrice are here as well to see us off. Beatrice had offered to help Janet keep the office running by taking over my position of collector of society gossip to help Janet keep tabs on errant husbands. We’d wondered how Janet would take to having Beatrice in the office as she always declared she didn’t need help with her work, but after a cup of tea and Janet’s shortbread, they were getting on well, in fact, Daniel and I wondered if we’d have jobs when we returned.
“I’ve sent Suzanne a telegram and she’ll meet you at the station in Nice on Saturday,” Father said.
“I’ve spoken to her as well, she said she had some interesting gossip for me and would let me know when I arrived” I replied. Father shook Daniel’s hand.
“Bring her back to me in one piece son,” he said.
“You have my word, Sir,” Daniel replied.
“Look after my little girl as well.” Nell rolled her eyes and Beatrice tutted.
“I know you’re a big girl and you can look after yourself, but after what happened to Amy, I worry.”
Nell hugged and kissed her mother’s cheek and said, “I know you do and I’m glad you do, you’re one of those rare mothers that actually care about their daughters in our circle, some of the girls have actually said they envy me, because you care so much.”
Daniel touched Beatrice’s shoulder. “You have my word as well Ma’am, I’ll protect your daughter to the best of my ability.”
We said our goodbyes on the platform and boarded the train. We made our way down the carriage.
“This train is quite empty,” Daniel said.
“That’s because we’re the only ones on their way to Nice. Most people are coming home,” Nell said.
“Have you seen anyone you recognise?” Daniel asked. I shook my head, so did Nell.
“Not yet but we’ll see more people in the on the ferry I should think,” I replied. Nell nodded. Something dropped into my brain, something to do with the incident with Johnny and things I’d read in the papers.
“Nell, does Johnny use Cocaine or Heroin or some other drug?” I asked.
“I don’t know, he doesn’t have any of the tell tale signs of Cocaine use, you know: runny nose, dilated pupils and sleeping late. Although he has met with some unsavoury types in Nice – but he does like to play cards. Maybe they were looking for him to pay up – why do you ask?”
“Well it was when someone shot at us outside, you said it could be a jealous husband, a Continental man because that’s what they do, but why come all the way here when Johnny spends so much time on the Continent. It’s easier to shoot him there and the law is possibly more lenient to Crime Passionel than it is here.”
Daniel nodded slowly. “I can understand that.”
Nell gasped. “You don’t think Johnny’s smuggling drugs, do you? He spends a lot of time in Italy and those Italian criminals, the Mafia, yes?” Daniel nodded. “They’re involved in drugs and things, you do get a lot of those swarthy Italian types on the Riviera and people, important people, both British and locals are uneasy around them.”
Daniel sighed. “Sounds like the Mafia, I’ve only know about the American arm of it, but it came out of Italian immigrants in New York. They’re involved in drugs, racketeering, protection, prostitution, bootlegging and booze runs to Canada. I can see the Italian families being involved too, but do we have proof?”
Nell shook her head, “No, possibly my imagination running away with me.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “I did read in The Times that the police were concerned by the amount of drugs being smuggled into the country lately, not coming in through the usual routes. They said the amount of equipment a racing team uses, it’s easy to smuggled drugs and things in and out of the country. I’m sure customs agents don’t search every packing crate.”
“It’s possible, but we have no proof, although it is something we need to consider. Has Johnny been flush lately?” Nell and I looked blankly at Daniel. “Sorry, I mean has he had more money than usual? He can’t make that much being a mechanic,” he said.
“Johnny’s father is incredibly wealthy, so was his mother, she was the daughter of the Earl of Rothsay, and she left him her estate when she died in 1918. His father made his money in armaments, he did very well out of the war,” Nell replied.
“So why the hell is he working as a mechanic?” Daniel asked.
“No idea, prove to his father he’s no Lounge Lizard and capable of not living off his father’s name and money I suppose.” Nell poked me. “Have you got your cards handy?” I reached into my bag and pulled them out. I gave them a shuffle and one card dropped to the floor. Daniel picked it up and laid it on the table, The Devil.
“That gives some credence to the drugs idea, I asked what was at the centre of this case. The Devil stands for temptation, addiction, obsession, being chained to something you can break away from but it’s easier not to and being enslaved. Johnny may be mixed up in something out of his control that he can’t escape from,” I replied.
We made our way on to the ferry and settled down in the bar. I ordered myself a cup of coffee and sat by the window. I saw two men having an argument on the gangway, it turned into more when one of the men pushed the other against the rails. I really thought he was going to push the other man into the sea. He turned and walked away – I gasped as I saw it was Pietro Fallini and Johnny Markham.