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An Italian Job (of sorts)

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Of all the possible scenarios, this particular one had never crossed Leon’s mind.

Judging by the wide mismatched eyes, neither had it crossed D’s.

Their host was oblivious to it and so Leon found himself offering his hand to D in an automatic motion and trying to suppress the shudder running through him at the feeling of that slim, elegant hand in his.

Really, the only consolation about all this was that D seemed to be as shell-shocked as he was.

They did not get enough time to betray either their emotions or the fact that they knew each other from before. Leon was almost immediately hustled on towards a cluster of Commissarios while Ottavia Cocuzzi, the host’s wife, steered D in the opposite direction.

Leon followed, too baffled to even turn around and make sure he was not dreaming, that D was really here, that it was really him and not one of his freak relatives (though D’s “son” was likely too young yet).

But damn, he was at the annual get-together of the Roman Polizia di Stato at some or the other golf club just outside of Rome. What the fuck was D doing here? Since when was he even in Italy? Last Leon knew, the bastard had been in Japan! Italy would not exactly have been his first guess, especially not after missing D in Venice.

Yet he was here. Without the slightest possibility of a doubt, because other people commented on the beautiful Chinese pet shop owner as well. Which meant Leon was not hallucinating or suffering of a heatstroke.

He went looking for their host.

“That guy. What’s he doing here?” he said without preamble when he had managed to find and pull the man aside, jerking his head in D’s direction. Paolo Cocuzzi took a sip of his drink, his eyes following the elegant figure.

“I invited Count D because I have it on good authority that our American friend is a frequent customer at the pet shop he owns in the Via Veneto.” He smiled quickly, a not-very-pleasant smile. “In part because I’ve had reports of customers of this shop dying under mysterious circumstances. Most notably our old friend Nikita Kshesinskaya.”

Leon felt like his stomach had just turned to ice. “What was the MO?”

Another sip of wine as Paolo Cocuzzi considered him and his reaction. Leon forced himself to tear his gaze away from D to meet the dark brown eyes. Paolo Cocuzzi smiled. “You are taking a great interest in Count D, Signore Orcot.”

“His grandfather’s pet shop was located in Los Angeles.” Leon chose his words carefully, unwilling to give away too much information. There was a chance Paolo Cocuzzi did not know that D was overseeing the shop for his grandfather, and might assume that Leon only knew D’s family. “They, uh, they look very much alike.”

“Mhm.” Yet another sip of wine. “Well, it is a shame you have no official capacity in Italy. We could use someone who knows a bit more about the family. He’s one slippery fish.”

Leon snorted. “Trust me, I know.”

Paolo Cocuzzi swirled the wine in his glass, giving D a considerate look. “Although, I don’t see why a visitor from abroad would not be able to walk into a local pet shop and have a little chat about a fellow countryman. Do you think you would mind, Signore Orcot?”

He could feel the corners of his mouth quirking up into a grim smile. “I certainly don’t.”