The first thing Ricky did I got to his apartment was look me over to be certain I really was okay. I assured him I was so, finally, he kissed me. I returned it of course, hoping it would lead to more than just kissing.
He quickly disabused me of that idea when he said, "I called Sanoma's and made a reservation. We're due there in fifteen minutes."
"Afraid I'd back out?" I asked with a laugh.
He grinned. "Well I do know you very well. So, yeah. All your thoughts to the contrary, food first and then bed, not vice versa."
Thus it was that we walked into the restaurant just a few steps behind Mr Caiazzo and a woman I presumed from her age was his wife. Unplanned, but none the less interesting. It became more interesting when he greeted me like an old friend and, after being introduced to Ricky, invited us to join him and—yes, she was his wife—for dinner. I was about to decline. After all this was supposed to be just Ricky and me. My way of apologizing to him for not calling.
Ricky had other ideas. He accepted graciously for both of us, murmuring as we followed the Caiazzos, "You've told me so much about him, so…"
When we all were seated, Mrs Caiazzo insisted we call her Rosa before asking if we were customers of her husband's. I wasn't quite sure how to reply since I didn't know how much she knew of his side business.
Caiazzo solved that problem by telling her we'd met at Endless Reads when I needed his help in acquiring a certain book.
She smiled. "Ah. Then I have you to thank for this, Walt." Call me unobservant but it wasn't until she touched the necklace at her throat that I realized she was wearing it. "Nicolò told me you helped him get it back from that awful man."
"I think he did more to help me, and my client, than I did to help him."
"Perhaps. In fact, knowing my husband, I'm sure that's the truth. Nonetheless, I'm grateful to have it back. It belonged to my grandmother. A wedding gift from her husband."
"How did Eber end up with it," Ricky asked, looking intrigued.
"He stole it," Caiazzo replied, looking a bit chagrinned. Then he chuckled. "He stole it from me. Can you imagine?"
"Why didn't you just steal it back? Or better yet, turn him over to the police?" I asked.
"I tried to get it back but I had no proof it was him. Just a suspicion because there was bad blood between us, surrounding… Well I won't go into why. He denied he'd taken it—of course—and my people had no luck in finding it. Ergo, I didn't know what he'd done with the necklace until you came to me with your story about Mr Philips."
"Giving you a chance to get a bit of revenge, so to speak."
"Score one for the home team," Ricky exclaimed. Yeah, sometimes he acts like a teenager. I love him anyway.
After that we stopped talking about the case and enjoyed an excellent dinner with the Caiazzos. They are very nice people, and unless you knew better you'd think they were exactly what they seemed to be—a well-to-do bookstore owner and his gracious wife. I had the distinct feeling Rosa not only knew about her husband's side business, but supported his doing it. I even wondered if she was, or had been, one of his thieves. There was something about her—the way she observed everything that was happening with a knowing eye—that said she might be very good at it. No way would I ask though. It was none of my business one way or the other, and I didn't want to chance ruining what I thought might be the beginnings of a close friendship between the four of us.
The evening ended on a good note, with Caiazzo and I promising each other we'd keep in touch. Then Ricky and I returned to his place where the night ended on a very good note.