The Hotel Principe was ornate and luxurious as most top hotels in the area. Situated on the grand canal, the views were magical. Both Cassy and Jimmy were in absolute awe of the area. The canals and architecture were just mind blowing. People often said that the canals smelt but neither could detect any unpleasant odour. Venice in February was fairly cool, and had a different light this time of year. St Marks square was flooded during the rains that fell heavily and often. Cassy was a little nervous of Venice at night. It had a macabre feel about it and gave her the willies. The lamp light was different to she was used to, and the dancing shadows were menacing. They joined the tourists exploring the area and visited the Doges palace. Which was an absolutely ornate museum. Full of history and art Jimmy was in heaven he loved it.
Cassy was being recognised and was enjoying that as well as the ambiance. As they crossed the bridge of the prisoners, both Jimmy and Cassandra let out sighs as they looked toward the lagoon. “So that is why they call it the bridge of sighs.” He gasped. Jimmy was in his element. The architecture was just immense and he was enthralled with the history. Cassy said to Jimmy that she was tired alot of the time they were there. So Jimmy often went exploring alone. Woolly hat and guide book off he trotted. He could get very lost but here he would be surrounded by water. So it wouldn’t take that long to retrace his steps. Besides there was always somebody to ask.
During a rare walk together to the Osteria Antico Giardinetto for a late lunch. Cassandra posed on the Calle Cheisa for photos. A small crowd recognised Cassy from her recent photos in Argentina. Gossip magazine had flashed them around the world. She played to the public pouting like the professional she was. She even signed autographs. Several of the Gucci staff tried to get her into their shops. Cassy was in her element and lapping up the attention. Outside the restaurant, Jimmy asked a man who appeared to be fairly friendly, to take a photo of them. He had initially forgotten about the camera as he was using the disposable cameras, until they had run out. He had decided to give it a try, he was a little apprehensive with the technology at first. The man had been following them since their landing at Marco Polo airport. Paid by a figure that was lurking in the shadows.
Jimmy and Cassandra posed with big cheesy grins. When Jimmy asked for the camera back, he was shoved into the crowd and the man ran away and off into the streets. The exhausted man managed to shake his pursuers and meet his employer in the Calle Sant Ana. He handed over the camera with one hand and held his palm open with the other. Jimmy and Cassy went to the police station on the Calle Larga San Lorenzo to report the theft. They waited for three hours to be interviewed. “Well done my friend.... here is your reward.” The man fell into the canal with a splash. He didn’t see the silenced pistol hidden under the paper the Mondotimes. Boris opened up the camera and pocketed the film. He dropped the camera after the body. It would wash up in the next few days somewhere in the lagoon. The day after the robbery the rains held off for a while. Cassy received a message at reception. “Jimmy.... Boris is here on business with your Uncle Lemmy they are staying at the Hotel Santa Marina.” Jimmy had noticed that Cassy was becoming fatigued during the day and a neat bump was now becoming visible.
She hated it. He had caught her swearing at it in Russian. “Von iz moyego zheludka vy vnebrachnyy rebenok.” She had told him that she was singing a lullaby to the baby. On the way to the hotel they stopped at the Rialto bridge. Jimmy had spare cameras and snapped away at Cassy and the area. It was early evening the sun was dipping over the horizon. Venice took an altogether different atmosphere. It was masked ball season and amongst the crowds of tourists, were revellers decked out in their masks and costumes. People still paid Cassy attention moreso now she was showing a little. Mitch was trying to handle the press for her, from his desk in London. It was as a favour to Cassandra so he told Jimmy, just till they had finished the honeymoon. He was also making quite alot of money off the back of her too. But it was tricky for him too as Jeanette kept sending him here there and everywhere.
Mitch had begun to regret his dealings with Jeanette. “Hello?....hi Bernice....sorry? ....no I haven’t had any dealings with Jimmy since the course why?” Lied Jeanette. She leaned back in her chair at the yard watching the men loading and unloading cargo. Terrence was off playing golf somewhere in Spain, probably with Stacey his new PA. She took a very keen interest in the personal side of being an assistant. Not that he was complaining of course. “Well Nette....seems he struck gold ole Jimbo....either she’s let herself go since the wedding or it was a shotgun affair..... absolutely scandalous hahaha.....mmm?..well Nette...you know me I’d rather have a deal brokered by you like the last time....mmmm......yeah Nette shall we say at mine ooh about twelve darling......yeah you too!...oh Nette how’s Jord?”
All the latest magazines were clamouring for pictures and interviews. When Jimmy discussed this with Cassy she bluntly said “And you will provide for our child how?......on a desk clerk’s wages? Jimmy I am Cassandra Friend this is my life you should have thought a bit more before marrying me.” Jimmy didn’t talk to her for a few hours. He was furious. They pushed through the crowds. The air had its winter nip and the lamps were lit. The buildings cast eerie shadows on the canals. It had a macabre, almost mischievous atmosphere. Enhanced by the masked inhabitants on their way to the balls. They themselves bought a couple of masks from a vendor. Cassy bought a cat mask Jimmy a half facial mask. It reminded him of the phantom in phantom of the opera. “Here....... people won’t be able to recognise us easily Jimmy.” Indeed not, when they arrived at the Santa Marina Lemmy gruffly waved them away from the table.
“Sod off bleeding eyeties this tables taken.” Cassy was delighted with the look on his face when they took the masks off. After greetings and hugs they sat down to wait for Boris. Who was arguing over the cost of drinks. Lemmy leaned across to Jimmy and whispered to him.“I met a youngun a while ago.” Jimmy looked at him as if he had lost the plot. Lemmy wasn’t one for subtlety he normally blurted out what was on his mind. “Yez know a lass called Jeanette?....she’s got a boy.” Jimmy remembered Bernice’s words the last time he saw Jeanette. “Nine months time poor cow.” Jimmy got up from the table Lemmy went with him and wrapped him in a bear hug. His huge arm around Jimmy’s shoulders. They stood a little way from the restaurant so Cassy couldn’t hear them. She was busy flirting and signing autographs for a group of tourists who recognised her. “Ye wouldn’t know anything bout that now would ya son? After all ye ma will morder ye.” Jimmy snapped at Lemmy. “No Lemmy...we were finished a while...nothing to do with me.” Lemmy looked sternly at his nephew. “Ok son...funny though he looks like you when you were small......well we will say no more about it fer yer ma’s sake.” Lemmy knew that Jimmy knew about him and Yuri. He didn’t want to remind Jimmy of it. He had a snide streak just like his sister and would if cornered use it.
They rejoined the table in time to see Boris shoo the tourists away. “You need security and a proper agent Cassandra..I will speak with Yuri.” Was all he said after threatening a couple of paparazzi. Jimmy knew that Mitch would jump at the opportunity to be more hands on and in an official capacity. He liked Mitch so didn’t feel threatened by his relationship with Cassy. Back in the UK Jeanette had finished speaking to Mitch on the phone. He sighed and rushed to pack a holdall. Bernice had one of the new condos that were being built in the old warehouses on the Thames at Surrey Quays. Most people would be having between one and three bed roomed apartments. Not Bernice she had an entire floor. She had gotten the inspiration for the open plan apartment from a visit to New York. The contractors Albright Ltd had thought that it would be an easier build than the other condo’s. That was the first mistake the second, was allowing Scott to become project manager.
The two-tone furnishings were something out of the Tate Gallery, and definitely an acquired taste. Jeanette sat on the settee looking at a large photo of a pile of rubble that hung above her fireplace. “Ahh I see you are admiring my centrepiece Nette.....two grand this cost me it’s a Rolfenstein.” Jeanette looked more closely at it for a moment before casting her opinion to an eager Bernice. “Bernice ...I think you have been had, how can you call a pile of rubble art?” Bernice took a long drag on her More cigarettes and puffed out a cloud of smoke at Jeanette. “Art like beauty is in the eye of the beholder Nette...after all you were with Jimmy.” She smiled menacingly at Jeanette. Egging her into retaliating. Bernice knew that she still held a candle for Jimmy. It was as plain as the nose on her face. Jeanette accepted the mug of steaming coffee, that Scott had brought in to them. “What do you think Scottie??” Asked Bernice. Scott looked at the print and shrugged. “No taste either of you..oh by the way it’s now worth a fortune seeing as Rolfenstein disappeared in Argentina recently, under mysterious circumstances....talking about investments Jeanette......Jimmy Collins.”
Marcus Rolfenstein aka Hans Oppenheimer had indeed vanished. Courtesy of the crack shot by Boris at nine hundred meters. His funeral was a quiet affair, just he and Boris. Jimmy and Cassy had left the scene in the Jeep that they had arrived in. The ensuing police investigation by the PFA drew blanks. Particularly as Jimmy had no idea where on the pampas they had been. Boris stood over the grave that was intended for Jimmy and Cassandra. He threw in a couple of silver dollars to pay the ferryman and said a few words over him before filling in the grave. “You were good but not that good old adversary....Otdykh v kusok.” Jeanette listened to what Bernice wanted. She knew she would get it anyway by hook or crook. So it just as well may be on her terms. Bernice was hoping to go transatlantic. Los Angeles was calling daily with offers but she wanted New York. She was an East coast girl at heart, the West coast was for holidays.
She loved city and city life she hated the countryside. Moreso since the outward bound course that she attended with Jimmy. During pyramid building against an old Chimney on Bodmin Moor, everyone collapsed the pyramid except Jimmy. she was stuck on his shoulders and at his mercy. Jimmy simply asked her to be nice and a tearful Bernice agreed. She hated the wind and rain, with the inevitable bone crunching cold it brings when soaking wet. No Give her a cityscape any day. “So what do you think?” Jeanette had read the proposal from Bernice and her magazine. She wasn’t green behind the gills and knew that she would have to barter beg, steal and borrow to get the best deal. After a few heated hours Jeanette simply asked Bernice if she could sleep on it. A few days later in Venice Boris, Lemmy and the honeymooners sat in a gondola listening to an old man sing aria’s to them. He was dressed in a blue and white hooped long sleeved top, with a straw boater. As was the gondolier. A lantern was lit casting an eerie light over the craft. Lemmy had been told off for singing o sole mio. Since the cornetto advert every tourist had worn that out on the gondoliers. The half hour ride was magical in the evening. Lamplight twinkling off the canals. The ghosts of Venice came out that evening. Cassandra clung to Jimmy who was loving the atmosphere and music. People dressed in capes and masks were all over the city attending the balls and other mischief.
Jeanette had arrived on the early morning flight, and boarded the water bus from Punto Sabioni. Jordan was spending the weekend much to the toddlers delight, with Yuri at her home in Stroud. Jordan was a little miffed that Lummy wasn’t there too. “Have you and Lummy fallen out Yuwee?....are you not friends anymore?” Yuri grinned at him. Jordan had his serious face on and his hands on his hips. “He has gone to work and he has promised to bring you back a present.” The delight in the small boys’ face was infectious. Jordan spent the next few hours interrogating Yuri as to what it could be. “A what?..an where the fuck will ah get one of them from? A signed Milan shirt of all things Yuri. What about a Venezia shirt?....Eh?”
“Don’t let Jeanette see it, you know how she hates football.”
“She’s here?”After a few more minutes Lemmy hung up on Yuri. To Jordan’s question he simply replied “That was your mother asking if you are being good.”
Cassy had insisted to Jimmy that he attended the Ballo Del Doge at the Palazzo Pisani Moretta. She had a meeting with Alicia Shaunessy, that she didn’t want Jimmy knowing about. Alicia was making the trip especially, taking time out from her busy schedule as PA to Terrence Otter. A favour you might say. Bernice was in raptures she was going to meet Cassandra at last. It was Jeanette’s’ idea for them to have some girly time away. And just pop into Venice to do a bit of shopping etc. Jeanette was fed up of Bernice trying to get one over her, so she decided to give her all the access she wanted.
If she wanted a deal with Cassandra, then she would have to broker it herself. “Are you sure you won’t come it’s the ball Cassy.” Jimmy looked at her pleadingly. “At least take part in the parade.” Cassy was sat at the dressing table in her bathrobe, looking at him in the mirror. “No Jimmy you know how it scares me all these masks and the atmosphere......besides I need to rest.... please you go to the ball with Lemmy and Boris they are so looking forward to it. Mitch will be here later he wanted to surprise you at the ball but..well he can keep me company.” Jimmy waved his arms about a bit. “No Jimmy you go and I will see you in the morning.” She stood and embraced him. Jimmy shrugged her off angrily “We are in the most romantic city on Earth and all you have done is have interviews and have your photo taken....As your husband I demand that you attend the ball with me.. we have hardly spent any time together....after all.. it will be full of the rich and famous right up your street.” Cassandra burst out laughing. Which enraged Jimmy the more. “You demand of me?.....you may be my husband Collins but I am my very much my own person...You knew that this was my life now..... and besides how far will we get on your paltry salary eh?...demand indeed.” Cassandra was glaring at him. “GO JIMMY!!....I have a headache now.”
“Headache?...and THAT MY GIRL IS ANOTHER THING!” The couple blazed away at each other for a while. The telephone brought them to their senses. Alicia Shaunessy had arrived and was waiting down at reception. Jimmy stormed off to visit Atonia Sautter’s studio and shop off Piazza San Marco. As he descended the stairs of the hotel, he was sure that he saw a familiar face step into the lift. Jimmy did a double take and thought surely not, Venice was much far too classy for Bernice.