Generation 2,  Monte Vista Stories,  Stories

Monte Vista Stories | 2.18. Family Portrait

Regina still felt the chill when she went back inside and for some reason, her parents standing in the living room waiting for her made the cold worse. It seeped into her bones, made her feel stiff and otherworldly, though she smiled at them.

“What’s your next move then, my little genius?” asked her dad, eyes glinting with pride.

Gina rolled her shoulders. “Find the stone mason, get the painting, receive a massive pay check.”

“As you do,” he said. “But I expect nothing less. You’re doing really well, sweetie. I’m very proud of—”

“You’re dragging it out,” Vittoria said, elbowing him. “Go on.”

New waves of cold made their way into Gina’s heart. She kept smiling despite herself. “What is it?”

“It’s time for me to retire,” her dad said. “I think this most recent job of yours has proven that you’re ready to take over on your own.”

“Seriously?” she said.

“Seriously,” her dad repeated. He came over to put his hands on her shoulders. “Like I said, it was a smart move to listen to Mr. Cavalcante. It shows a lot of maturity.”

Gina kept the smile up, even though frost was making its way through her veins, to the tips of her fingers. In that moment, she didn’t feel mature. She didn’t feel capable. She didn’t feel like the leader of a gang at all.

What’s wrong with me?

“I can stay in Monte Vista as long as you need,” her dad said, no doubt tuned into her moods as he always was. “This doesn’t mean I have to move right away.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Gina said. “It’s all you ever talk about.”

“Your dad’s right,” Vittoria said. “Maybe it would be good for him to stay for a bit. It’s a lot to take in once you start being in charge.”

If anyone knew the burden of suddenly being thrust into being in charge, it was Gina’s mother. She knew that. But despite the sense of it all, she shook her head stubbornly and met her dad’s gaze straight on.

“Daddy, I’ll be fine. I’m practically already in charge, at least of everything art related, and that’s maybe seventy percent of the business. Besides, I want the house to myself. I have some pretty sweet plans for moving my bedroom upstairs already.”

She wrapped her arms around her dad and after some hesitation, he hugged her back.

“I’m proud of you, sweetheart,” he said.

The skin crinkled at his eyes when he smiled. It didn’t often hit her that he was getting older, that he was silently fading into the background as she took over, but now she felt it.

“You have good reason to be,” Gina said with the most confident smile she could muster. “Thanks for this, dad, I’d better head to bed.”

Gina didn’t expect to get off so easily, though she had thought that her dad would be the one to come and talk to her. Instead, after brushing her teeth, she was stopped on the landing by her mother. Vittoria had, in the intervening minutes, managed to steal Carlo’s shirt and she now wore nothing but that and striped socks. Gina noticed with amusement that they had smiley-faces on them.

“Nice socks,” Gina said with a wry smile.

“You better fucking believe it.” Vittoria laughed and added: “They’re a gift from Marta.”

That made more sense, then. Marta and Vittoria had always gotten along better than she did with any of her biological kids. It wasn’t that Gina and Vittoria had nothing in common—in fact, Carlo was fond of telling his daughter just how much she was like her mother—but more that they couldn’t find much to say to each other. They had two things that would always keep them on the same side: a predilection for wrong-doing and their love for the family they shared. Especially Carlo.

“Your dad’s worried shitless, you know,” Vittoria said. “It really doesn’t matter to either of us if he stays with you for a bit.”

Gina sighed. “I don’t need that.”

“Yeah, right, and I’m a fucking nun.”

“Go tell dad that I’ll be fine, especially once I get his ratty old furniture out of the house.”

“Your dad didn’t put me up to this.” Vittoria said. “I’m worried, too. It’s just that I’m shit at being a proper parent, so…”

“You’re not,” Gina said.

“Oh, but I am. Don’t mind admitting it. The only good decision I ever made as a parent was marrying your dad and leaving the three of you to grow up with him. You’re good kids and it’s all on him, even if you’re spoiled rotten… and stubborn as hell.”

“I’m seriously fine.” Gina crossed her arms and tapped her foot impatiently. “I’m happy for dad.”

“Stubborn as hell,” her mum repeated sagely.

“Well, that’s one thing we have in common, then,” Gina said irritably.

Vittoria nodded. “That, and a tendency to act like idiots. When you need help, get it. You’ve got to deal with that shit instead of always putting it off because it’s hard.”

“Look who’s talking.”

“I know,” Gina’s mum said with a snort. She pushed her hair behind her ear. “But I hope you’re smarter than me. If I’d been better at that shit, it wouldn’t even be a question of living here or in Monte Vista. I’d have been there with you.”

Regina went silent at that comment. Truthfully, she didn’t know much about her mother’s history, only the little bits her parents had shared here and there. She knew that Vittoria hurt her dad, she knew it nearly tore them apart, and she knew it meant they couldn’t live together in Monte Vista, for fear of violent retribution from the rest of the gang.

“You’re a lot like your dad, but… you should try and be more like him,” Vittoria said after a long silence. “And less like me.”

“Yes, yes, can I go to sleep now?”

Regina and Vittoria’s eyes met and they nodded at each other. Both knew this conversation hadn’t gone well. Despite their shared traits and interests—or perhaps because of them—they weren’t on the same wave-length.

018 (7)

Inside the bedroom, Gina pulled out her hair tie and let her hair tumble over her shoulders. She really did have every intention of going to sleep, push it out of her mind, but she couldn’t. If it kept going on like this, she would go insane.

She sat up in her bed, picked up her phone and rooted through her contacts. While the dial-tone resounded through her body, she nearly lost her resolve and hung up, but then he answered.

“Regina?”

Her silence was long and awkward, then she found her voice.

“Hi, Enzo.”

Enzo’s mind was in turmoil on the entire walk home. The discovery that the mason who worked at their place was involved in the thefts made sense. If he still knew his mother, if they were still together, that would explain some of the things he had been wondering about—how the thieves knew about the feud, how they had managed to find their way through the Napoletani house’s many confusing corridors.

To his relief, no one was around when he got home, so instead of heading to bed, he went straight to his father’s study. It was where he kept the old family portrait, the only hint that there had lived people other than the three of them in the house.

It had once occupied the prominent space above the dining room mantle, but after Enzo’s mother and brother left, it had quietly been moved and a new one commissioned, showing only the remaining residents. The decision to put it in the study was, Enzo thought, evidence that his father hadn’t taken the loss as well as his stoic behaviour might suggest. In this position, above a dresser, his father would always be able to look at the portrait from his desk, like looking into a window to a time when things were right.

Enzo hated the picture more now that he was older. He didn’t enjoy the reminder of his mother’s smile or his brother’s confident gaze. Neither did he like the look on his own face. On the day they stood for the portrait, he made a valiant effort to look proud and proper, like his father. In retrospect, the misery was clear from the void in his gaze, in the too-stiff way he held his shoulders. It had been mere weeks after he broke it off with Regina and only a few weeks after that, his family fell apart when Georgette Desjardins-Cavalcante took her youngest son and left with the stone mason.

Fortunately, it was a long time after that they sat for another portrait. He couldn’t imagine what his face would have looked like if it had been captured a few weeks after his mother’s departure.

The sound of the door opening shook him out of his thoughts, and he drew in a horrified breath at his state of dress… until he saw his sister’s blue eyes peek at him through the crack between the jamb and the door. He let out the breath he had been holding.

“What on Earth are you wearing?” Lia asked, opening the door and stepping inside.

“Clothes,” Enzo replied sardonically.

The corners of her mouth turned down as it formed a pretty pout. “So you still won’t speak to me?”

“No, by all means, let’s talk,” he said through gritted teeth. “Perhaps you want to enlighten me as to some of Lorenzo’s favourite positions?”

“Sure, maybe we can swap sexual experiences while we’re at it. Enjoying your nights with the criminal?”

He spun and glared.

“Regina and I don’t sleep together. I don’t know why you think that just because you’re a slut, everyone else must be as well.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, he wished he could take them back. Lia, not one to show any emotion, couldn’t keep the hurt out of her eyes.

“Oh god, Lia, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“If you must know, I saw Lorenzo today. I told him we can’t see each other anymore. At all.”

He looked at his sister with pity.

“I’m sorry.”

She snorted. “Why? I thought you’d be happy to know. I won’t be a problem anymore.”

“You’re not a problem, Lia, you’re my sister. I’m sorry about what I called you. You’re nothing like that.”

His sister shook her head. “But I am.”

“No. I know you adore Lorenzo, always have.”

“Not always.”

Enzo looked at her in surprise. “But you were thick as thieves when you were little.”

“Yes, we were kids, Vinny. When we got older, I thought he was boring,” Lia said with a little smile. “Especially when we made it to our teens. He’s not as dashing as some of the boyfriends I had then. Montanari, Antonini, Conti… Lorenzo never tried to charm me or buy me presents. He never even complimented me except on rare occasions.”

“But he doted on you.”

“Yes, I realise that now. Once all of this mess with Fabrizio happened, I came to appreciate him more because he’s the only one who actually cares about me. He’s the only one who listens.”

The meaning of that wasn’t lost on Enzo. Lorenzo was the only one who listened—meaning that her good-for-nothing older brother didn’t. He took his little sister into his arms and muttered another apology, the thousandth this year alone, it felt like.

“Please, let’s not argue anymore, Vinny,” Lia said, and she rested her head on his chest. “It’s so quiet when we don’t talk to each other.”

Enzo hugged his sister tighter. What she said made him think of her engagement, then her eventual wedding. She was right—when they weren’t talking, the house was very quiet. It was big, empty, and lonely. He could only imagine what it would be like once she married Fabrizio and left.

“Maybe you shouldn’t do it,” he said spontaneously.

She stepped back. “Do what?”

“Marry Fabrizio. Maybe… maybe just let him do whatever he wants. I can take any punishment and you’d have Lorenzo.”

“We’ve talked about this. No.”

“But—”

No,” she said. “I’m not losing you, too. Besides, even if we were to get rid of Fabrizio, I wouldn’t be marrying Lorenzo. You know he’s not for me.”

Enzo turned away, back to the family portrait.

“What do you think mother would have done if she were here?”

He glanced over at Lia, whose eyes narrowed to tiny, angry slits.

“I don’t think about her at all.”

“She should have been here for your engagement and your wedding. The two of you should have been planning this party. Maybe, if she had been here, none of this would have happened.”

Lia crossed her arms.

“I’d much rather have you plan this party with me. I want nothing to do with that woman.”

Enzo opened his mouth, about to tell her what Gina had found out. It would be a relief to share it with someone who felt the same kind of pain. They were both abandoned, they were both told their mother wanted nothing to do with them.

But, he thought, Lia didn’t have to know. He was selfish to even consider it. His actions had put his sister through so much pain already—he couldn’t bear to bring her more.

“I’d better go sleep,” he said.

His sister smiled, all traces that not all was well wiped from her face.

“Good idea. Father wouldn’t like it if he saw you in that.”

He made it to his bedroom without being seen, changed for bed, and collapsed on top of the covers. The misery still churned, like an angry storm behind his sternum, and sleep was elusive. He thought he would suffer another sleepless night—they had numbered in the hundreds since Conti died—until his phone rang. Gina’s name lit up the screen. Enzo bolted upright and picked up.

“Regina?”

A long, rather awkward silence followed and then she said: “Hi, Enzo.”

“Is something the matter? Is it the painting? What—”

“No, don’t worry,” she said. “I’m only… you forgot your jacket and I thought I’d tell you and… check up on you. The thing with your mother seemed to hit you hard and I want to make sure you’re okay.”

The storm in his chest stilled, and he closed his eyes with the phone pressed to his cheek. A curious warmth spread through his body.

“Why?” he asked.

“You’re my client.”

“I’m not an expert on your line of business, Gina, but I’m fairly certain it’s not in your job description to check up on the mental well-being of your clients.”

“How do you know? Maybe I’m going to call Ms. Antonini next.”

He could hear a smile in her voice.

“I imagine she’d enjoy that.”

“She would flip her goddamned shit.”

“You really have a way with words.”

“I try.”

018 (15)

Gina went silent again; it stretched out longer this time, and when she spoke, she sounded tired and resigned. “I can’t sleep.”

“Me neither.”

Silence.

“Want to talk?”

“Talk?” He felt warm again.

“Yeah. You know… talk. We used to do that a lot.”

He nodded before realising she couldn’t see him. “We did. But… about what?”

“Any old thing, I guess. I mean, don’t read into this or anything, but I’d like… company. Over the phone.”

“I’d like that, too.”

Silence, more silence. But it wasn’t awkward any longer. It was calm and comfortable, in tune with his breathing.

“You still ride horses and play the piano and… knit or whatever?” she asked.

Enzo rolled over on his back and laughed. “I never knitted. I still do the other things occasionally, though.”

“You also used to fence and paint, right?”

“Yes and I still do both.”

“But you also have a fulltime, demanding job.” At his confirmation, she groaned. “Fucking hell. How do you survive that?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “It’s not all I do, either.”

“Figure ice skating?”

“What? No!” He laughed again.

“Do you bake macaroons? Drive race cars? Sing karaoke? Memorise your friends’ dumbass long names?”

“You know I have to rehearse for an hour each day to not forget my own, right?”

He didn’t sleep all night, but it wasn’t because of anguish or guilt. He talked until his throat was sore and didn’t hang up until the sun coloured the sky golden and Gina’s laughter had warmed him to the core.

If you need a brush-up on previous events, you can head on over to my recap page.

EDIT: I swapped two pictures out for new ones. As Jowita correctly noticed, Gina’s haircut was the same as Enzo’s mother’s is in the portrait. It was laziness and I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for that meddling Jowita and her keen eye! 😛 (No but seriously – thanks to Jowita for giving me the kick I needed to change them out. The new ones are much less lazy).

Author’s note: Hi guys, and welcome back to yet another chapter! Before I say a few things, I want to apologise both for my long absence and for the length of both this and the previous chapters. I know it’s a massive turn-off to you guys, and I’m super sorry. I’m going to look into splitting up chapters more to make them easier to digest. Sorry!

Another thing is I’d like you guys to tell me if I should have added a content warning here. I know what Enzo says to his sister is basically slut shaming, and I’m wondering if it’s a little harsh without previous warning. I hope it’s clear that I don’t go in for slut shaming myself – can’t say I really care how many people anyone sleeps with, so long as it’s between consenting adults. A fair few of my character are promiscuous (Hi, Gina!), even if I don’t have them actually doing the do. It’s also not meant as Enzo’s actual opinion on his sister, which I hope is obvious. Anyway – if I should add a warning for it, pleeeease, tell me and I’ll add it right away so as to not stir trouble. Thank you!

Now, finally, I’m going to make you care even less about reading! I can’t keep up a once-a-week-schedule. If the past two weeks of being back has taught me anything it’s that because I go to school every day, I have a lot less time on my hands. At times it feels like this story is literally the only thing I do besides school. It’s not, obviously, but it’s always on my mind that I need to get the chapters written, shot, edited, and so on for the next Saturday. It’s not that I don’t love the story or love writing it, but I spend a lot more time on the chapters these days because I have boyfriend beta-reading as well. Now, my plan is to post every other week. This gives me time to write more, and it gives me time to work on other stories, too. On the non-story weeks I might have poses and such for you guys as well. Of course, if I feel like it and I have a chapter ready, I’ll post it anyway. It’ll be a little less stable than usual, but I hope that’s acceptable. If not, I don’t mind it if you stop reading. I’m pretty sure a lot of people stopped reading after the long break, and it didn’t help that I then posted a long, substandard chapter. I’m sorry again and I thank those who still bother to hang around for taking the trouble to read 🙂

I’ll see you for the next post!
Cheers!

24 Comments

  • Jowita

    First off, I love how you managed to make Vittoria look older. Is that the age slider or something else? She looks good and I was glad to have seen her once again! And she’s back to wearing Carlo’s shirts; I remember that she often did that when they were younger.
    Oh, Gina will take over the gang! It’s no surprise really, but it will be sad to say goodbye to Carlo when he moves away. It’s weird how Gina and Vittoria don’t get along so well, even if they’re biological daughter and mother, but it makes sense. She wasn’t around much when Gina was growing up, so they’re definitely more distant than close. She could well be the aunt she tells everyone she is! And now, I guess saying Gina is similar to Vittoria is a compliment for Carlo, but it doesn’t sound like that to me. 😛
    Ooh, is that a comma after “hi”? I thought you didn’t like them. 😛 Sorry, I just had to, got distracted.
    I love the family portrait theme here. And wow, Enzo’s mother totally has the same hairstyle as Gina in the last photo of her part… And Lia, too? I really like how you used the height slider for them in the portrait, it adds an extra layer of realism. His story is so sad, though. I have a friend in real whose parents divorced when he was 5/6 and he often says things like: “from when my mother was rich”. His step-father is awful, I’ve heard. Enzo’s story reminds me a bit of him.

    “What on Earth are you wearing?” Lia asked, opening the door and stepping inside.

    “Clothes,” Enzo replied sardonically.

    ^ That reminds me of Hamlet a bit and how, when asked what he was reading, he said: “Words, words, words…” Or maybe that’s just me.
    I enjoyed the heart-to-heart between Lia and Enzo, and don’t worry. I think someone would have to be extra sensitive or wanting to start a shitstorm if they took Enzo’s remark, obviously made in the heat of the moment, as something more than just a remark he’d love to take back if he could. It was also sweet to read about Lia talking about Lorenzo. She obviously loves him.
    Ah, nostalgia. It was so sweet. A proper adorable moment between Gina and Enzo. They’re improving, Engina is getting there, y’all! It was just lovely. The last sentence is beautiful. 🙂
    Massive turn-off? God no, I didn’t feel offended then about the supposed slut-shaming, but now. Louise! It’s not that I wrote such a long comment, because I didn’t like it and I felt *forced* to write such a long comment. And seriously, if anyone left your story after a break, then are they dumb or what? I don’t think they left, really, maybe they’re away from WP for a while. I know I haven’t seen Amy for quite some time.
    It’s totally okay to change to the schedule that fits you. By no means feel obligated to post once a week on Saturdays because I and Kymber do. I know it’s a pressure, god, how wrong & guilty I felt during my break, but it shouldn’t be like that, really. I have myself a bunch of poses I don’t have time to tweak and upload because of the story. But I’m quite content sacrificing Fridays to finish the chapters. Because of my game constantly crushing and WordPress popping mistakes, I stayed up ’till 1 am yesterday to finish the damn thing. So do you, Louise, and do what’s good for you and works for you. We’ll be there.

    • NotJustaBook

      I’ve actually just aged her up to adult and added the in-game age detail 😛 I may also have added a little more to her weight? I’ve definitely done that to Carlo, since it’s normal to gain a little weight as you get older 🙂 Still haven’t tried the age slider, though I’m excited to try it for when they’re a bit older! I imagine she just routinely steals her husbands shirts when he’s visiting 😛 She’s a pro at it by now!
      Yeah, I imagine that Gina and Vittoria clash. They’re both strong personalities, and there’s the fact that Vittoria isn’t much of an emotional support – to Marta, possibly, because they share a history. But she has a hard time understanding Gina. In Carlo’s mind, Gina being like her mother is the highest praise he can give, though you’re right – it might not be that much of a compliment to her 😛
      I guess I don’t mind the commas after hi? XD *shruuuugs* I’m so inconsistent… sigh…
      Shhhhhhhh! Don’t bring attention to Gina/Georgette’s identical hairstyles here. Can’t let anyone know how lazy I am. The truth is i made that portrait ages ago and when I dressed Gina I managed to forget that and give her the same hairstyle… That said – Rosalia’s isn’t the same, just similar 😛 I’m at least attentive enough to not give two sims the same hairstyle when it’s within the same picture XD (I might change the pics of Gina at some point – still have that outfit saved, I think xD)
      That sounds really sad and yeah, Enzo’s story is sad as well :/ the more I write of it, the worse I feel for the guy.
      Don’t think I know Hamlet well enough to just like, quote it, and I definitely don’t deserve being compared to Shakespeare – but cool 😀
      I loved writing that (and the last bit) 🙂 Lia’s still pretty smitten with Lorenzo, it’s true. I loved writing both Lia and Enzo’s conversation as well as the last bit with Gina 🙂 Yes! They’re getting closer. Imagine – them having a conversation where Gina isn’t angry? How far they’ve come :’) And thank you <3
      I know it's probably that people are inactive or MIA, but I also noticed some who seemed to skip my chapter and still read others. Just figure people might be fed up with the length and the soap opera-y-ness of the story lately. I totally understand that as well.
      Honestly, so far I've loved having the schedule, but with me studying again, it just isn't possible. And I still have other story ideas that I want to do and there's homework and I'd like to do poses and possibly learn to make CC for poses... so much to do! Probably still won't have time to do all that, but it makes it a little more like that I'll find the time. I'm very glad you're sticking around, Jowita. Thanks for reading and commenting <3

      • Jowita

        Still, I think she looks great.
        Ha, ha, you being inconsistent. I sometimes swap you’re and your in Ron’s narrative and sometimes not, because I imagine he is inconsistent and that he would do that. I also avoid doing the usual commas I would put, which is a lot. So yeah, I can’t be responsible for him. I refuse to. 😛
        Lol, yeah, I started at Lia and thought that was a bit different. But hah, I have so many hairstyles which were meant for Ron’s future girlfriend or whatnot, but I ended up handing them for free to the random strippers from today’s chapter. :’)
        Oh, I only made the comparison, because I’ve recently read ‘Hamlet’. Not that I know that much about Shakespeare and stuff :’)
        How far they’ve come indeed!
        Yes, I’ve noticed people do that in my story too, which brought me some anxiety. Glad that I’m not the only one worrying too much. I don’t know, could be my break, could be my mistakes in Ron’s gen, could be incest or so… Who knows, really, maybe they just got bored. 😛
        I also have so many ideas for what I could! I have 4 days long weekend next week, though, because 31st is normally free in Poland and 1st is an extra free day. Looking forward to that! When I’m done visting graves, of course.

        • NotJustaBook

          Thank you <3
          That makes sense - I wouldn't take responsibility for grammar mistakes myself 😛
          I changed the pictures now :') I want to thank you for being so keen-eyed - I totally wasn't going to do anything about it because I figured I'd get away with it. Not when Jowita is on the case!!! Lol 😀 I don't even know why I decided on that particular hairstyle for Gina. It doesn't suit her at all - besides, her damn hair's been up in a bun all day. It wouldn't be so straight, past me! Smh...
          Oh you're definitely not the only one worrying. I've been suuuuuuper PMS the past week (which basically means 'super depressed') so every time I'd think of doing something on my story I'd be like 'What's the point, everybody hates it now'... I'm a ball of insecurity 😀 I think people are just busy or something. I know there's a story I still love but isn't up to date on. I still love it and plan to catch up, but I slipped. No clue why! Maybe this is the same?
          I'm learning to use Blender properly because I figure it's a good start for making CC 😛 Honestly, my goal is just to be able to make cuddly blankets for my poses, lol! XD
          Oh, sounds nice with a long break! Visiting graves - is this a day of the dead-ish thing, if you don't mind my asking. We don't have anything like that in Denmark, so I'm curious 🙂

          • Jowita

            Lol, I make these mistakes on purpose, though, so it’s not exactly that they’re mine.
            Aww, don’t be so stressed. I like her in this new hairstyle more, though, I think!
            Lmao, Kymber told me I have an eye for details. Like when I notice Rosetta wearing Memphis’ hairstyle or something. There were a few times. 😛
            Oh, I’m sorry you’ve been worrying. I kept looking at my old chapters and thinking what was wrong with them and why people didn’t want to read them. I’m silly at times. 😛
            Ha, ha, good luck on that!
            Oh, yes, instead of Halloween, we visit graves on 31st. It’s the Day of all Saints or whatever. Then the day after that, the 1st is for praying for the souls to get to heaven. It’s a veery Catholic country. Many young people tend to go with sweets or so, though, and there’s a constant debate whether we should or shouldn’t go for the ‘evil’ habits from the West. Mainly we hear about that during religion classes.

          • NotJustaBook

            I like this hairstyle better, too 🙂 she wore it as a teen as well 🙂
            I do the same. It’s not as bad when I’m not PMS, but I’m still a little bummed and feel like I scared people away with the long chapters.
            Ah, I see! Yeah, we have nothing like that in Denmark. We’ve imported some Halloween stuff from the US, but it’s mostly just that we have dress-up parties (us Danes like our parties – we drink a lot) and sometimes a kid or two trick-or-treat (that part I hate – don’t like people coming to our door).

  • audreyfld

    I loved this chapter. You are I unbelievably hard on yourself. Your pics are always gorgeous and you manage to keep everyone captivated and on the edge of their seat. I don’t mind waiting a couple of weeks. I would rather you put less pressure on yourself and enjoy it so you can continue to write than just deciding to stop. 🙁 But that’s selfish on my part because I like your story. I haven’t read the first gen yet and the more I hear about Carlo, the more intrigued I am, so this might be a good time for me to do so!

    Hang in there and take care of you! Make this fun not a chore! ❤️

    • NotJustaBook

      Thank you, Audrey <3 It's very sweet of you to say.
      I know I'm very hard on myself :/ I'm really trying to be less so, but it's not always easy. Glad to hear most people don't mind too much about my changing schedule. As you said - this is a better solution than stopping entirely. Don't want to do that.
      I'd be happy for you to read the first gen as well - though... he, he, it's kind of bad :')
      Thank you Audrey and thanks for reading/commenting <3

    • NotJustaBook

      Oh no, I managed to totally forget about your comment! I’m sorry! Thank you so much. I’m really glad you enjoy the story <3

  • liesemietze

    I’m not good in talking about too much details concerning the story, but I like your characters much and look forward to every chapter you release.
    These are wonderful pictures, showing extraordinary sims and everyone can see and read the effort and dedication you put in them.
    Your poses are a big help for other storyplayers too, so thank you so much for sharing them with us and for the joy of reading your touching story.

    • NotJustaBook

      Thank you so much for the kind words and for reading along <3 :) I love sharing all these things with you guys <3

  • Kymber

    This was ah-mazing! 😀 Let’s talk, gf. 😀 I think it’s understandable that you feel you can’t keep a weekly schedule. Look at all you do! You’re a perfectionist and sensitive so it stresses you out when you release something you feel is not perfect. (I think they’re all perfection, but we’re talking about you, not me. LOL) I keep saying you’re too hard on yourself and I mean it. I literally lose myself in your chapters and haven’t read even one that I felt was sub-par. You are so good at writing characters, their dialogue, and keeping the tension alive to make me want more. <3

    Take care of you and do what it takes for this to be fun for you. <3

    • NotJustaBook

      Thank you very much, Kym <3 All you've said here is so true. I do more editing of both pictures and writing lately and that's largely due to my perfectionism. I'd rather wait a little longer than put out something that I'm not happy with. All of you guys are so gracious and kind. I've been in a bad place most of last week, and the fog's finally lifting, so I'm sorry for all the negativity in my comments.
      Thanks for reading and commenting, Kym. It means a lot to hear your thoughts like this <3

  • socallucyfan

    Yay, I am all caught with my favorite criminal gang leader.
    I am so very proud of Gina. I know what Carlo left some very big shoes to fill, but I know that she can handle her own.
    And it was such a nice change to see a bit of Enzo’s family life. It really is true that money won’t buy you happiness.
    On a personal note; I agree with pretty much everyone above. I totally understand how you feel about being a perfectionist. It has been a month since I posted my last chapter because I keep messing with the filters. Take all the time you need. We are going for quality over quantity. But just so you know: everything you do is awesome. You are a super talented writer, and your picture taking skills make me green with envy. 🙂

    • NotJustaBook

      Yay for you being caught up 😀 <3
      Oh for sure, she's got her work cut out for her, but I think you're right she can handle it - it's in her blood 🙂
      I looove writing about his messed-up family! It's not cheery, but oh so interesting 😀
      Perfectionism is kind of dangerous sometimes. It results in great work, but it also leaves us forever unhappy with our work, even when others think it's great. Thanks so much for your kind words, Stephanie <3 And thanks for reading! :)

  • sempreviva

    Oh my god, I was finally able to sit down in peace and read your lovely chapter! I’m so sorry for my delay, that last weekend and week have been crazy (and not good crazy, just… meh crazy, lmao)! After several failed attempts, I finally have time to catch up and I couldn’t be happier 😀 And I’ve decided that I’m gonna compensate with a big @$$ juicy comment, so sit tight lol 😉
    First of all, I have to say that you always blow my mind with the quality of your pictures – really, they’re insanely crisp and beautiful! I spent quite an amount of time just staring at them <3
    So, except for that last scene we see both Gina and Enzo dealing with some of the ghosts of their past (family edition) and it's not surprising that Gina isn't doing so well… even though Vittoria is kinda there and loves her, that doesn't change the fact that Gina obviously missed her mom while growing up – and building huge walls around her because of that. Maybe that's why she always seems to drive her boyfriends away (okay, Enzo excluded), maybe deep down she's not ready to commit further to anyone and tear those walls down just yet. I know this doesn't have anything to do with current chapter, but I find their relationship (and the way they talk to each other) very interesting!
    Lia is still a mystery… while she does love Lorenzo, she seems much more calculating to me than her brother. The fact that she already knows that they wouldn't last makes me wonder if she sees everything with pure logic or if she does adore him the way she thinks – because the only think she mentioned about him is that he listens… to *her*. Doesn't he have any more qualities that don't revolve around her? Maybe I've misunderstood her, but like I said, she's still a total mystery to me! 🙂
    And that brings us to that last scene, which was so sweet and adorable! They way they talk… their chemistry is off the charts! I see them slowly getting closer, as they start knowing each other again – like nothing bad ever happened between them. And it is great, makes me so looking forward to them becoming even closer *wink* <3
    About your note in the end, you know we never mind waiting longer, as long as you are happy with the result and you have peace of mind – we're not monsters, lol! XD Please, never feel pressured for your readers' sake – everyone can take a delay and everyone here understands 🙂 Oh, and about Enzo's "slut-shaming" (which he took back right away cause in reality he's a sweetheart): personally I've never been sensitive to any controversial subjects, so whatever you write is fine in my book (so maybe I'm not the best to respond because of that, but oh well). I think everyone should know that this is fiction, and you can't always write about unicorns and rainbows – this stuff happens a lot, so it's only natural that a part of it would make it in our stories. And of course we don't think it reflects you viewpoint, it would be insane if anyone thought that! So no worries there, and I honestly don't think you need to put a warning up for that 😉
    That was such a nice chapter Louise <3 You really have a way with words! And, again, I'm so sorry my comment is so late – I'll be better, I swear! 😀

    • NotJustaBook

      Sorry to hear your week’s been so crazy :/ Hope that it’ll calm down a little bit now so you can have some rest. That really is a very long, juicy comment :O Wow!
      Aw shucks, thank you so much 🙂
      Gina and Vittoria has a bit of a weird relationship, for sure, and I imagine that it’s especially affected her female friendships. Besides Carlotta, I don’t think she has a lot of female friends. I think of her as having had more friends that were boys growing up. And of course she’s had quite a few boyfriends as well, lol 😛
      Love all your reflections on Lia, there <3 She's certainly very calculated. She's always known she won't be allowed to marry Lorenzo, and she has a very laissez-faire attitude towards cheating. But then growing up the way she's done doesn't make you very in tune with your emotions, so she's definitely a little messed up.
      That little conversation was honestly my favourite to write, if that isn't already super obvious, lol 😛 I think it's fairly clear my favourite thing is writing dialogue. I can't wait for the next couple of chapters to come. I think you're going to like them 😉
      I'm glad you're both okay with the delay and that little moment. I hoped that I made it very clear in the text that Enzo didn't mean it and that he regretted it, but slut-shaming is also kind of a hot-button issue in some contexts, so I wanted to make extra sure that I didn't step on any toes. Obviously, Enzo is, as you say, a sweetheart, and he's very fond of his sister and would never mean it 🙂 It's the stress of that whole... blackmailing thing getting to him 😛
      Thank you so much for the kind words <3 Oh, but it sounds like I'm a school mistress expecting you to read your homework on time - It's not like that, for the record. I'm glad you hear your thoughts anytime <3 Thanks again! <3

  • twinsimskeletons

    Noooooo that author’s note! Stahp! I, for one, LOVE long chapters. Long or short, it would still take me like a week to read whatever is posted regardless, so I enjoy having something meaty when I’m in the frame of mind to sit and erad. I’m sure you haven’t lost many, or any, readers after a break – i’ve taken breaks for longer and with no notice and it’s been fine – and also this isn’t a substandard chapter by any rate! Also, fortnight posting is the BEST. Sometimes I have a chapter ready beforehand but I’ve found that sticking to a fortnightly schedule when I can makes things flow and gives me some breathing time when I’m not feeling up to preparing a chapter. I wouldn’t worry about posting anything every week unless you really want to, either. Making sims into a chore is not what anyone wants. Anyway, this has been a PSA, that you’re awesome, and your story is one of my favourites and that’s not going to be changing any time soon.
    I’m not sure about the slut shaming thing – I don’t think Enzo meant it at all, and anyway anyone with siblings can attest to saying shit when you’re in a mood and arguing – but for me personally I don’t tend to heed trigger warnings (since I often don’t need them) so I’m not the best person to comment on that. My rule of thumb is just to warn people if you’re worried about it, and add warnings if anyone asks you to. But, I mean, some people warn for swearing which is bizarre to me (maybe because I swear so much in my daily life??), so I think wherever you decide to stand is good, tbh.
    Now, as for the chapter! I got second hand anxiety when Carlo said he was retiring. Being ready for something is terrifying. I’m not sure Gina is – I think she’d manage well, but I’m sure she’s going to work herself up into a state trying to do so, because she’s too stubborn to ask for help. And I really liked her short conversation with her mother – their relationship makes sense and it really shows that they are alike in many ways, even if I feel for them both in this instance.
    I hope Enzo will get some closure if he comes across his mother. I have a feeling she might be the catalyst he needs to turn away from this depressing life. Hopefully for his sister too, so she can be with who she loves.
    I really like Gina’s outfit when she’s in bed, btw. Also she reminds me that I meant to make some poses for using phones, because I’ve found so few of them! But I have like…50 poses to release for Xmas (presuming I’m home and get round to it, oops) and I’m not sure I can stomach making more hahaha.

    • NotJustaBook

      I’m sorry! T_T I was in a bad last weekend. Thankfully, deciding to only post every fortnight has really made a positive difference. So much so that I’ve written 3 (almost 4) chapters since. I totally see what you mean that that is a good schedule 😛 Thank you so much Carys <3
      Yeah the thing is that I don't really heed trigger warnings either. Hell, they just make me want to read more, so they clearly don't work as intended when I'm involved 😛 I also feel you on not warning for swearing. I would literally have to add warnings for every chapter, especially when Gina and/or Vittoria is involved. They drop F-bombs like it's going out of style. But it seems like consensus is that Enzo's comment is okay without a warning, so for now I'll stick with that.
      You're probably right there - Gina is generally confident, but she's still too brash and quick-tempered for her own good. So glad to hear you say that it makes sense, he, he 🙂 Vittoria is such a hard character for me to nail down (still), and her relationships are weird because of it. I've never imagined her and Gina being very close - I think besides Carlotta and her female family members, Gina isn't good with female friends.
      Indeed. I can reveal that Enzo's mother will show up at some point 🙂 I'm pretty excited about her character, actually.
      You're too right about there not being enough phone poses - I found only one set while looking around and it didn't fit with the phone accessory :/ eventually I just had to make this myself. It'll be in a dump at some point. 50 poses?! That's crazy :O I got exhausted just making my previous posedump which had like 22!
      Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Carys <3

      • twinsimskeletons

        I was in a pose making binge. The problem is taking pictures for them and getting them ready to post, and making tweaks. But there’s some good ones there because I figured out to get accessories and objects in blender (in a really roundabout way)! The gaming scene with the flat were actually my poses, as was Law’s pose at the end of last chapter. I made some other specific ones, and some general ones. If only I had blender with me atm, I’m in the mood again. Gah!
        Hope you feel awesome now! <3

        • NotJustaBook

          Oh definitely – it’s so much work! I’m pretty excited to see when you post them. One can never have too many poses, really 😀
          Thanks, I feel a lot better 🙂

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