Content warning: This chapter contains some visible blood and descriptions of gun violence.
Carlo tightened his arm around Vittoria and enjoyed the quiet moment. The sound of her clicking heels and a small fountain on the floor below were the only sounds in the building. Every now and again, she would point to one of the museum’s pieces and ask him what it was worth on the black market, and he would try and estimate it as well as he could.
“That one?” she asked now, pointing to a painting divided into three sections.
He cocked his head and thought on it for a few moments. “A couple of thousands, I think.”
She wrinkled her nose. “Disappointing. I thought it would be more. It’s nice.”
“You want it?”
A beautiful, but devious, smile bloomed on her face. “Not if it’s not valuable.”
“Apologies, darling. I’ll make sure to get you a more valuable one. How about that?” he asked, pointing.
“Ugh, no. You can do better.”
“It’s worth over fifty thousand.”
“You can do better,” she repeated, throwing her hair. “Get me at least one hundred.”
He laughed and pressed a kiss to her hair. It was a relief to see her like this, relaxed, free of paranoia. From one day to the next, she had calmed down. She didn’t even growl at Marta anymore and actually, they seemed to get along. It had amazed him when she had suggested that he show her the museum.
“I’ve always wanted to see the place you work, after all,” she’d said with a glint in her eye.
Carlo never could say no to her, and he didn’t mind a chance to see the place in daylight either, without the risk of triggering alarms and all. Even if one the museum guards downstairs looked at him with a healthy amount of suspicion, he liked the place. It only helped that she was smiling.
They rounded one of the free standing walls and came to a strange painting. A cheap replica, obviously a photo, of a painting. Vittoria directed a smile at him.
“And this, I expect, is some sort of modern art. A painting of a painting. Art within art? It has be worth at least a hundred, right?”
Carlo shook his head. “It says right there that it’s a replica. Seems the original was stolen.”
She put a hand on her chest and gasped. “No! And they haven’t found it?”
“I have it on good authority, darling, that it’s in the possession of a collector the next town over. How he got it, I’ll never know, but they might never find it.”
“Oh no,” she said, moving to stand close to him. She moved her lips to his ear and whispered. “Who did you get to do it? Franco?”
Carlo grabbed her around the waist and pulled her close. “Don’t insult me, darling. I took that one. You wouldn’t have liked it, though. Only worth a couple of thousand.”
She shrugged. “No, thought I might, but at that price? Forget it. Get me the big one over there.”
Carlo pulled her against him and kissed her hard. It was the first indication that something was wrong, when he felt her tensing in his arms. He broke the kiss and looked at her, but nothing in her face betrayed anything other than perfect contentment.
“Darling, what is it?”
“Nothing. That was just… unexpected.”
Suddenly, he felt wrong. Someone else was in the museum, he heard footsteps, and that shouldn’t have been so unusual. It was a big museum with a lot of important works, so why did he feel like this was bad?
Vittoria’s arms snaked around his waist and she kissed him again. He tried to get lost in her again, like he always did, but even she felt off. When she came up for breath, she looked sad in that way that only she could pull off. There was no emotion on her face, but everything else about her said it.
“I wish you weren’t nice,” she said.
“What?” Carlo laughed nervously.
His wife took a big step backwards, dodging his hands when he tried to get her back.
“I’m sorry. I never should have let it get this far. I just thought… Sorry.”
“I-I don’t understand.”
“You never could, Carlo, because you’re too damned nice for your own good.”
The footsteps coming up the stairs sounded like thunder. Her voice like a storm. He instinctively took a step back from her, but that felt wrong, too. Stepping away from her always had, because all he wanted was to be close.
“You never realised that taking in a stranger could be dangerous when you’re in your position,” she said. “Or that being alone with a rival gang leader might be a bad idea.”
“You’re not… not anymore.”
The footsteps on the marble floor grew louder, and soon he found himself surrounded. Vittoria backed further away, making way for the three strangers and their guns.
“Is this some kind of joke?” he asked.
Vittoria ignored him, turning to a man with black hair.
“Believe me now?” she said.
The guy laughed, without doubt with the sleaziest laugh he had ever heard, and looked at her with admiration. Something about the asshole made Carlo want to punch him. And it wasn’t just the gun that was aimed at his head.
“Sure do, baby doll.”
“Good,” she said. “Then get it fucking over with and let’s get out of here.”
Carlo should probably run. Or fight back. If he hadn’t been an idiot, he would have carried a gun. Vittoria had practically begged him to do it since Marta showed up. Because of this? Because she knew this was coming, and part of her wanted him to survive it?
There wasn’t a hint of it in her face. In fact, she turned around on her heels, and only spared him a casual glance.
His last glimmer of hope died when she turned to black-hair and said: “Try not to make it too messy.”
And she walked away.
Someone fired. He didn’t have time to see who, because some instinct that he wasn’t aware of made him dive out of the way and behind one of the walls. He tackled one of the gunmen and punched another, tried to remember what he knew about unarmed fighting against guns. But gods, he was rusty. There was no way he could keep going like this.
Even as he fought and dodged, he expected her to come back and stab them for him. Tell him it was all a joke or a nightmare, but her footsteps were gone, drowned out by gunshots and gruff voices shouting.
One of the bullets grazed his arm, and everything after that was a blur. He ran on survival instincts, making more and more insane moves to get out of the way. It was no use anyway. There were three of them and one of him, and he couldn’t wrestle the gun out of black-hair’s hand. The guy pushed him away and hit him over the head, hurling him to the floor. Stars danced in his field of vision, and all attempts at getting up resulted in slipping on the floor, in his blood.
Another shot rang out. Carlo was sure it must be the last one, but to his surprise, he felt no bullet pierce him. Instead, a body fell to the ground somewhere behind him. More bullets, still none hitting him. Black-hair screamed something and footsteps clattered down the staircase.
A moment later, Franco stuck his hand out at him, and Carlo took it wordlessly.
Franco was flanked by Giacomo and two others, and the person they had shot was the other man, not black-hair. Carlo struggled to think properly. The dizziness didn’t help, nor did the gaping, black hole in his chest.
“Dead?” he asked, focusing on anything but her.
“No, thought we’d want him alive. Get to the bottom of this,” Franco said.
Along with Giacomo, he dragged Carlo out of there, back to his home. Or the shell that had been his home before this. After checking that no nasty surprises were waiting, they called their doctor friend in and she looked him over. Said he had a concussion and should avoid reading. Reading. Of all fucking things.
While he stared at nothing, Franco and the others started discussion how to move on. Obviously, they had to find her and punish this. They would keep people posted at the farm, more than usual, to make sure she didn’t come back to finish the job. More than anything, they were worried because Marta had gone missing along with her. At that, he snapped out of his stupor.
“Gina and Giulio. Where are they?”
“In their rooms. She didn’t take them.”
She didn’t take their kids. She didn’t take her own fucking kids.
He resisted the desire to punch a wall. The others must have noticed him twitching, because they went silent, waiting for instructions.
“Find her,” he said, quietly.
They remained quiet. Too quiet. Before it could get awkward, Giacomo said in a small voice: “Alive or…?”
Carlo flew from his seat and punched the man in the face.
“Find my wife and bring her here. Alive.”
Giacomo nodded, but he still looked up defiantly. “She tried to kill you, Carl. She’s planned this for who knows how long.”
“I know that.” He said, raising his hand again and finding an odd satisfaction in seeing Giacomo flinch. “I want her here alive. Nobody fucking kills her.”
Nobody but him. But he couldn’t say that now. He couldn’t even bear to think it, so he just repeated: “Find her.”
Giacomo wiped blood from his face and him and three of the others filed out of there, barking orders at some of the others outside. Franco stayed behind.
“Anything else I should know?”
He shook his head. “No. I just… I’m sorry, Carl.”
“There’s no time for that,” Carlo spat. “There’s work to do.”
While the underworld set in motion another manhunt for her, Vittoria sat on the edge of her old bed and buried her head in her hands. The afternoon played over and over in her head, and for each time she thought of the look on his face, she hated herself a little more. Hated everything that had lead up to this moment. Even going to Monte Vista had been a mistake. She wondered if Carlo had felt half as terrible when he kicked her out of his house.
Feeling lost? If you’ve forgotten previous chapters and need a recap you can find my recap page here. Be aware that it contains spoilers for the story.
Author’s notes: Hi guys, and welcome back to Monte Vista and the first chapter of 2018 🙂 This one has been hard to get out, but I’m happy to say that it’s sparked a desire in me to continue this story. I’ve been disillusioned by some of my earlier decisions for a long time, and by now I’m at peace with those and doing as well as I can with what I have.
That said, I’ve decided to edit the story. Now, this is not coming from a place of saying I think this first draft is irredeemable. Au contraire. It’s the great love I’ve recently (re)discovered for the story and characters that’s led me to doing what I did with Champion of Moonlight – basically, a big overhaul that tightens the plot, fleshes out characters, and fixes structural issues that I see much clearer now that we’re nearing the meat and climax of the story. Now to be clear, I don’t expect anyone to read this story again, and you won’t see this edited version for a long time. I’m doing this for me, because first, I think it’s fun, and second I love this story and want to try and turn it into the best version it can be. It comes from a great deal of self-improvement and better self-esteem, as well as me learning more about my own way of working with my writing. Some day I’ll put out the edit to a blog of its own, but that’s not really the purpose of telling you because that is not in the near future. I’m just telling because I’m excited as a kid on Christmas to be doing this 🙂
Anyway, to return to the present, there’s still plenty to enjoy in this version of the story, and exciting things are to come, because yes, this version of the story is continuing. I’m nearly as excited for you to discover that as I am about my second draft! As always, thanks for reading, and here’s to a new year with lots of chapters (and edits).
loladiamond01 · January 6, 2018 at 9:23 am
Oh my, Vittoria really is an insane person. She must deal with some physical issues. She is also unpredictable and I would have never expected her to betray her husband like that after all that they’ve been through. However, it now completely makes sense how she was talking about him being weak, etc. Her organization is more important for her than her family and weak ones are to be done with, just like it is for animals. I am sorry for her children. She came from a broken family so one would think she’d care more for her children, but apparently no. I wonder what she is going to do next Surprisingly, it looks like she isn’t free of guilt, so at least there’s that.
NotJustaBook · January 6, 2018 at 9:24 am
Vittoria is definitely damaged, but the guilt is real 🙂 As for what she’s up to… we’ll just have to wait and see.
magpie14031983 · January 6, 2018 at 6:15 pm
She did this FOR Carlo, not TO him… She was trying to save him his position in his gang… Totally fcuked up way of doing it, but, at least now she can be sure they won’t try and oust him as was implied in previous chapters… Still sucks though
loladiamond01 · January 6, 2018 at 6:35 pm
Well, saving himself from himself by killing him doesn’t sound like the commitment you’d search for in your wife.
magpie14031983 · January 6, 2018 at 6:44 pm
Lol true. But he was never in any real danger. She knew Franco was just waiting in the wings. After all, they had planned it all out beforehand.
loladiamond01 · January 6, 2018 at 6:47 pm
Lol, you’re probably right, but Vittoria’s motives are…um, I don’t really get her. She’s not exactly mentally stable. By the way, nice to converse with you, I don’t think we’ve talked before. But I see we share the love for Louise’s stories, so that’s a good start.
NotJustaBook · January 6, 2018 at 8:08 pm
You’re both totally right. Did it for the right reasons… proooobably should have done it in a better way. She’s not emotionally stable by a long shot, but then with her upbringing, I think that’s a given.
magpie14031983 · January 7, 2018 at 12:10 am
I can’t say I fully understand her either, but, she’s working with the life experience she’s had to date. And that was god awfully shitty.
Yeah, I don’t think we have really interacted before, yet, we read a lot of the same Simlit… It’s nice to have “officially” done so now 😁
I’m Steph (or Mags or Raven, which about covers all my known aliases around the forums lol).
Louise is… WOW… yup, that sums it up! That one tiny 3 letter word! WOW! She amazes me with her insight and humour and talent and overall humility! I’m glad to see more people coming over to her stories. She deserves every view and like she gets and then some!!
loladiamond01 · January 7, 2018 at 8:06 am
I’m Jowita, it’s very nice to meet you. I think you even followed me, but I haven’t had a chance to talk to you until now. So that’s good. Nice to meet you, Steph.
I agree, Louise is amazing. I feel bad for discovering her so late.
NotJustaBook · January 7, 2018 at 8:47 am
Guys, my ego’s going to end up the size of a planet with all this. (Thanks though, you guys are really amazing, too).
loladiamond01 · January 7, 2018 at 9:20 am
You deserve it!
magpie14031983 · January 7, 2018 at 11:47 am
Pffft what ego?!? You’re about the most ego-less person it’s ever been my credit to know! You have no idea of your true genius!!!
Love lots always <3
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!
magpie14031983 · January 7, 2018 at 11:45 am
Hi Jowita! Yeah I did follow you 😀 right now you’re on my “to be read” list. I’ve found so many awesome new writers since I read about Lou’s interview, that I’ve had to binge read to catch up lol I’m currently binge reading Deira’s Volonov legacy. I’m on Gen 5 (around May-ish 2017).
Don’t feel bad, Louise kept a pretty low profile for a good long while there. If I hadn’t been lucky enough to stumble onto one of her stories on Carl’s Forum, I would still be in the dark O_o not sure how much she’s on the Official Forum because I tend to steer well clear of there after some of the drama I witnessed back in the early TS3 days (still so thankful I wasn’t a recipient of some of the vitriol I read on there!)
I’m not sure whether you’ve found them yet, but, Blamsart, mpart and Livvielove are also amazing writers (I think I’ve seen you by Blams’ story, but not 100% certain). Livvie and mpart also come from Carl’s Forum. They found the Forum’s PG rules to be a tad restrictive of the story that was developing from their characters, so they jumped ship to have their own blogs 😀
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!
loladiamond01 · January 7, 2018 at 12:45 pm
Yeah, I do catch up on blogs sporadically. Actually, Louise is close to be all caught up on mine! But I don’t always have the will and time to catch up, so it depends.
I am not on the forums, however I use TS3 official site under the username ziutobol12345678. It had its fair share of drama, too.
I should get to read them one day, however as I say, I don’t continuously catch up, so I don’t know when. I used to write stories on my memories and on one of the Polish forums (I’m Polish btw and this blog is my first story in English). I don’t like restrictions either. I sometimes get into very dark stuff in my stories.
magpie14031983 · January 7, 2018 at 4:52 pm
Simslit keeps me sane… Well, as sane as I could ever be… I used to be super active on Carl’s Forum and last year I took a renewed interest in Boolprop’s Forum, but lately, the interest and energy needed to be “present” there has kind of dropped to my toes.
I know I’m in a depressive episode (I’m Bipolar), and I knew it was coming due to the hypomanic episode I started a couple months ago, but it still nails you… Sneaks up and smacks you in the face before you realise it’s even there. So reading Sims is the closest I’m going to get to “normal” for a while *hint hint for another chapter Lou*
Polish? Cool, although I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Poland except that it gets cold and snowy in Winter and that Napoleon couldn’t cut it in your country on the way to Russia 😁 or was that Hitler?? These dictators all run into one another for me… Oh, and the last few wars that have happened either in your region or near it have been really hard on the general populace, but that things look up… I really need to find out more, and any pieces of info or lore or interest you can share would be awesome 😁
I’m South African, so we had our fair share of chaos here as well, heck, we still have… But, I’m not going to mention politics lol that’s the easiest way to slide into danger… I will say that I’m hopeful that our neighbour, Zimbabwe, will start to heal now that they’ve removed their own dictator (said in hope that one evil hasn’t been replaced by another. But only time will tell)
loladiamond01 · January 7, 2018 at 5:49 pm
My grandmother suffers from bipolar disorder, too. This is so hard :/
Snowy? In fact we haven’t had snow more than a day in ages here in central Poland. It snows and snows and then it all melts. So, sorry to burst your bubble XD Everyone complains about snowless Christmas here. Our history is truly too tragic and complicated, full of upbringings and failures. But also many successes. We always fought for independence, being surrounded by many strong countries, who tried to get rid of us. We disappeared from maps for 123 years…
I don’t know much about South Africa either, so don’t worry. Actually, I just suck at geography and knowledge about countries. Well, I find it kind of awkward to spam Louise’s blog with so many of our comments.
NotJustaBook · January 7, 2018 at 6:03 pm
Oh, I’m just kinda reading you guys’ comments and enjoying myself. Because of all the comments on this chapter, I look so popular, ha, ha 😀
I know how you feel with the snowless Christmases, though. I think the last time we saw snow on Christmas in Denmark was when I lived with my parents (and that’s almost a decade ago). This year it rained on Christmas 🙁
loladiamond01 · January 7, 2018 at 6:13 pm
I actually don’t mind it cause I hate snow, LOL. Global warming is real, though. Haha, you deserve more popularity, so there it goes.
magpie14031983 · January 8, 2018 at 1:52 am
I didn’t even think about the fact I hijacked Lou’s post *D’oh*
Yeah, global warming has screwed up a lot of things! Can’t believe some people don’t even think it’s real!
@Lou that’s my final post comments hijack lol even though I do think you deserve to “look” popular 😀 I think you kinda already are though <3
Sent via my BlackBerry from Vodacom – let your email find you!
sempreviva · January 6, 2018 at 2:41 pm
What??! Oh boy, I never expected this..! I wonder if that was Vittoria’s plan all along or if something changed along the way… also, did she cry because she still loves her husband or just feels guilty? And did she leave her kids behind because she doesn’t care, or because somehow she knew Carlo would get out of this alive?
Whatever the answers are, I have to agree with Jowita, she’s one damaged person! And I wouldn’t want to be in her place when Carlo manages to get her…
Awesome chapter!! <3
NotJustaBook · January 6, 2018 at 2:54 pm
She is definitely damaged – you don’t get out unscathed from growing up like that. And no – even though he’s not very happy to kill, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes, either. I’m glad you liked it, and thank you so much for the comment ^_^
socallucyfan · January 6, 2018 at 3:51 pm
The first chapter of 2018!! YAY!!
And I am blown away. Never in a million years would I have seen this coming.
There has to be something else going on!! Vittoria wouldn’t do this to Carlo, and abandon her children if there wasn’t something else going on. I think.
And where is Marta?
NotJustaBook · January 6, 2018 at 8:12 pm
Yaaay, I’m so excited for all the stuff to come this year!
It’s always hard to say with Vittoria 🙂 And yeah, there is the case of the missing Marta…
Thanks for commenting 😀
magpie14031983 · January 6, 2018 at 6:06 pm
*gobsmacked* welp, I didn’t see that one coming 😱 I thought at most she would stage a “coup” or something…
magpie14031983 · January 6, 2018 at 6:14 pm
It’s amazing the lengths she would go to, to save him from himself 😭 wonder where Marta went though???
NotJustaBook · January 6, 2018 at 8:11 pm
Vittoria is, essentially, going totally nuclear here, for sure! Comes from a good place of sorts but could maybe have been more elegant.
RosemaryMarie · January 8, 2018 at 12:39 am
I’m like Mags here, totally gobsmacked. I just picked my jaw up off the floor, in fact. LOL
Lila Remonn · February 8, 2018 at 7:03 am
That was her plan?! What the heck, that looked awfully risky and extreme to me, especially since she won’t be able to be with him. Carlo genuinely thinks that she did this as per rumours, not to protect/strengthen him. I do question her state of mental health sometimes, she is very paranoid and this plan doesn’t quite make sense to me. But she did experience damage at the hands of Lucia and her father, so…
amyqueen · May 27, 2018 at 10:06 pm
The doctor saying no reading had me laughing after I was on the edge of my seat after the sheer craziness that happened at the start. I really have NO idea what Vittoria’s intentions for doing this are. If anything, Carlo’s desire to find and bring her alive will only convince his underlings that even after a near death experience he isn’t thinking straight. I feel like even after all this time of being with Carlo Vittoria is still the same broken young woman/child who’s paranoid and not trusting of others. Even though it’s tearing her to do this, the fact that she managed to do it is still pretty crazy. I have a feeling things shall only get worse from here…
maladi777 · August 13, 2018 at 9:58 am
My first reaction was, Yes, she did it after all! But then I remembered the conversation she had with Franco, so it must be a part of her plan. But what plan? Carlo could have died in the museum. If it was a plan, it wasn’t a very good one. I really hope Carlo will toughen up now. He had been too soft because of her. I want me an angry merciless and hot gangstah!
NotJustaBook · August 13, 2018 at 4:21 pm
Indeed, she had a talk with Franco – and he did arrive in the nick of time 😉
Don’t expect too much character development. There’s that whole ‘this generation is super bad’ hahahah… XD
Kater Creation · September 25, 2018 at 3:55 pm
Extras | Photoshoot – Simpler Times – Not Just a Book Sims · March 16, 2018 at 6:42 pm
[…] up, so the building they’re standing by in one picture is the museum which is a place that holds bad memories for them – ha, ha 😀 What can I say: It’s hard to make something with these two that’s […]
Monte Vista Stories | Reflections on Generation 1 | Not Just a Book Sims · May 27, 2018 at 4:12 am
[…] Chapter 12. For some reason, writing about Carlo’s heartbreak was super fun. What can I say – us writers are some f’ed up folks. […]