There has always been a mystery in Julia Rochfort's family. Who killed her grandfather Guy, a member of the Italian resistance movement in World War Two? When Julia travels to Florence to compete in a singing competition, she meets Roberto Padovano, already an established opera star, and they discover that they have a lot more in common than simple attraction.
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Julia Rochfort, a young opera singer, visits Italy to take part in a competition judged by Roberto Padovano, a world-famous bass. When he and Julia meet and fall in love, the consequences will be devastating. Julia and Roberto are already connected by terrifying events that took place before they were born: the atrocities inflicted on a Tuscan village in 1944 by a torturer known only as 'Scarpia' after the villain in Puccini's opera 'Tosca'. As they uncover the intricate web of betrayal, deception and guilt, the danger grows. For Scarpia and some who share his guilt are still alive - and desperate to keep their past secret for ever.
Summer 1944. Italy.
The terror began with the music. As they wound up the gramophone, the youth moaned and thrashed, trying hopelessly to break free. He lay in chains, a blindfold cutting into his eyes. The walls of the underground chamber were wet: blood or water he did not know. Sometimes he touched the stones with his broken fingers, desperate to invoke their silence in himself.
This time would he break? The record needle dropped onto the '78, the chamber rang. A finger glided down the boy's calf - he tensed, but the pain did not come at the music's climax. A lighted cigarette was thrust against his right foot and allowed to burn, spitting in the open wounds.
'Tell me!' The whisper carried over the chords, over his scream, piercing the moment when he felt he could bear no more.
'Know nothing...' He shuddered. 'Don't.' He lifted his head, pleading with the Whisperer, the voice he most feared.
There was a moment's silence. And then a man, another captive, suddenly began shouting.
'I'll have you! Not one of your family will be safe! I'll have your wives, your children - their children... I promise you - you'll see....'
January, present day, Venice.
Venice. Neither Julia nor Roberto had ever been to the floating city. Free of memories and ghosts, deserted by tourists in a day of freezing fog, Venice was theirs.
Leaning out from the bridge, Julia spoke their united thought. 'Glad we came.' Time, their constant harrier, glided like the mist-gilded streams under their feet as they regarded each other.
They kissed on the bridge, the silver fog rising from the water hiding them and the city in a secret embrace.
'I wish we could stay,' said Roberto, when they surfaced a little from the kiss. Julia turned a dreamy open face sidelong and ran her eyes over him. She wanted this rippling quiet, this day of misted sun glinting on the tops of suspended marble palaces, to go on forever. No more struggle for success, no more troubles. No more Scarpia.
'I can't get used to you without that plaster cast,' she murmured, obliterating the world as she pressed her cheek against his chest. 'I like the suit.' Dark grey, classically cut, worn with eye-grabbing panache, the suit had been a revelation. She already had designs for borrowing the waistcoat. She hugged him tight. 'You look great.'
'And you are truly gorgeous.' Roberto stroked a hand down her back. 'Why do you hide those legs?'
His hand, and even more his eyes were doing things to her.
'Shall we?' he said.