Camillo finished setting up the last sprinkler. Vittoria jumped away with a squeal as one of them sprang to life right by the tree she was harvesting, and he grinned.
“Well, that works.”
“But a helpful jerk,” he said. “Don’t forget that on my birthday.”
She rolled her eyes, but smiled. Since she had moved in, Camillo had been around nearly every day to try and get the harvest in, as there was no way she would be able to do it herself. He even helped her sell off the crops she couldn’t eat herself. Neither of them were very good at gardening, but they made do.
“I don’t know what to do with the weeds over here,” Camillo said. “I tried asking Carlo for advice, but…”
“But he still hates me.”
“He doesn’t hate you, he’s just being a stupid face.”
Vittoria raised an eyebrow at him. “A stupid face?”
Camillo grimaced. “I’m trying to cheer you up. But you’re a stupid face, too, by the way.”
She couldn’t help a small smile. It was a valiant attempt from Camillo’s side. He was always trying to get the two of them to talk, but he fought in vain because he didn’t know the whole story. Maybe if she hadn’t slapped Carlo, there could have been a way back. Then again, after he kicked her out, she didn’t regret the slap; it was the only part of that day she didn’t regret.
“You two will want to talk eventually,” Camillo said with a grimace as he walked to a tree at the other end of the plot. “At least I hope so. I’m getting tired of his subtle attempts at getting updates. He’s all ‘So, how’s Bell Farm doing? Good harvest? Hopefully not too much work. I mean, if there’s need for extra work down there, I could send someone…’”
“He’s worried about you working too hard here,” she told him. “Makes sense.”
“Yeah, he’s so worried about me,” Camillo said.
He walked to a tree to start harvesting, all the while muttering under his breath. Vittoria sighed and went about her own work.
Sometimes, when Camillo came around, she asked him if everything was okay at home and if they were busy, but he never answered.
“Why don’t you call Carlo and ask him?”
Sometimes she almost did. When she was bored and lonely and the prospect of another day of harvesting bell peppers became too much, she grasped her phone. Then she stopped herself, straightened her back, and thought back to everything he’d said. She broke the screen on her phone when she threw it at a wall, and she never did call him.
Good Guys Inc. were busier than usual, and it left Carlo little time to think about anything that happened. He never allowed himself to think of her name, or indeed anything to do with her, so little by little, she had become but a mythical her in his mind, like a siren.
The wars around the gang with the dead leader were heating up. Latest news was that Lia James, a wealthy councilwoman who enjoyed the favours of Good Guys, knew something that nobody else knew. She had demanded a meeting with someone high up in the food chain, and they sent Carlo.
“A pleasure, miss James,” Carlo said when they met at Sunbather’s Retreat.
She had chosen the spot, and he had agreed even if the place held unwanted memories.
“Call me Lia,” the older woman said. “And your reputation precedes you, Carlo, if I may. I’ve heard so much about you.”
He shook her hand.
“Can I ask why you wanted this meeting?” he asked her.
“Obviously, I want to exchange information. I know some interesting details as relates to the dead leader of the Giocondo family,” she said, referring to the gang that had lost its leader and launched the whole underground into chaos.
Carlo perked up.
“I thought that might interest you,” she said with a chuckle.
“Everybody’s interested in that.”
“Indeed. And that’s why I thought you’d be willing to help an old woman out. There are a few objects at the museum I’m very interested in…”
“It’ll be done,” Carlo said. “If you can give us information that can help us take over what’s left of the Giocondos… I’m sure my honoured colleagues will agree you can ask for whatever you like.”
Lia held up a finger. “Ah, I’m not giving this information away before I get my trinkets.”
“Of course.” Carlo laughed.
“It’s very valuable information, young man. I can’t just hand it out to anyone. If Good Guys Inc. won’t give me what I want, I know a Mr. Stefani who would be happy to know about the Giocondos.”
“Rest assured, we will be more than happy to handle this.”
“In that case, I will be more than happy to inform you of the Giocondo family leader’s location.”
He started. “He’s alive?”
Lia reached into her pocket and gave him a note. “Get me what I want, Carlo, and I’ll tell you everything.”
Museums aren’t easy to break into. Even with all the Good Guys’ contacts, getting the items Lia James wanted from the museum was no easy task. The leaves had started falling from the trees, and autumn had truly come, with all the rain showers and colder temperatures that entailed. By the time Carlo met up with Lia again, he had to use his trusty parasol to ward off rain rather than sunlight.
He realised that the woman was utterly shameless when she asked to meet right by the museum to discuss the deal. When they met up, she smirked at the building and her face glowed with pleasure. Part of him couldn’t help but like the woman.
“They look wonderful on my mantelpiece,” was the first thing she said.
“I’m glad that they bring you joy, Lia,” he said and shook her hand. “Now for the next part of the deal…”
“Ah yes, the Giocondos,” she said with a smile.
The gang wars had all come to a head the week before with a big shooting in the town centre. Word was, it would only get worse. Unless the leader really was alive. Whoever found him and took him out could, potentially, put an end to this.
“You said the leader’s still alive. Where is he?”
Lia’s face lit up in a wicked smile. “Oh Carlo. Whoever said anything about a he?”
He got a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“Wait, it’s you who…?”
“Me? Heavens, no. I don’t have the guts to lead a gang, but then of course, she didn’t either. Ran away and left all of this mess behind.”
“Lisa Giocondo. She took over after her father died, and nobody even knew that she pretended to be him for years. Then she suddenly faked her death and left.”
“When?” Carlo asked, but he already knew the answer.
“A few months ago.”
It sounded an awful lot like someone he knew.
He kept coming back to the fact that her name wasn’t Lisa, but he knew it was stupid. She was running away, starting afresh, and she wasn’t an idiot. Her name would be the first thing to go.
“Do you know where she is?” he asked Lia, doing his best to remain calm.
“Somewhere in Monte Vista. She’s been hiding right here under our noses.” Lia sounded so amused. “Though of course, she might be dead already.”
“Oh, because the Giocondos are looking for her as well. Some want her to come back and take up the mantle again. Others would rather that she don’t. If anyone’s found out that she’s not dead, it’s her own gang. I heard something about a phone call to one of her favourite contacts, made shortly after she arrived. That’s how I know about it.”
A phone call made to get Carlo out of jail.
Please no. Please let me be wrong.
“Thank you for your information, Lia.”
He walked away.
“I can tell you an approximate address if…” but he ignored the rest of her sentence.
His legs took him towards Bell Farm, without him consciously deciding so. He might be wrong. It might not be her.
He swore under his breath and called up his usual accomplish, and he walked faster down the path. He tried a cab, but by now he was drenched through and nobody would pick him up. Franco picked up on the fourth ring.
“I need you,” Carlo said.
“What’re we doing?” Franco never asked why, which was why he had made it as high in the hierarchy as he had.
“Don’t know yet, but Lia James said that the Giocondo leader is in Monte Vista. I think… at Bell Farm.”
The line went silent, the only sound Carlo’s laboured breathing and the continually pouring rain.
“That’s where you put up the girl. The babysitter girl, right?”
“Yeah.” Carlo didn’t bother to correct him. “Meet me there in five.”
Franco agreed. No questions asked.
Carlo ran until his lungs threatened to burst, while making another call. She didn’t pick up, whether because she didn’t want anything to do with him, or because she was a gang leader in hiding and currently in danger.
He wanted to be wrong about her. He prayed that he was wrong. He knew he wasn’t.
Vittoria ignored the calls coming through, because even if she wanted to talk to Carlo now, she couldn’t. The pale man who had slithered into her sculpting atelier didn’t look like he would let her take a phone call right now. He had closed the door behind him, and he had a tell-tale, gun-shaped bulge at his belt.
“Get out,” she said, crossing her arms and keeping her voice icy.
“It’s so nice here, though. Property of Good Guys Inc.,” he said. “A pretty good hiding spot you found here.”
But not good enough.
“What do you want?” she asked. “Whatever it is you need, I’m sure we can figure it out.”
“We just want you to stay quiet, and stay away from the Family.”
Vittoria tossed her hair. “Deal. Now fuck off.”
It wouldn’t be that easy, she knew. She didn’t know who had hired him. Alonzo? Gallo? If she wasn’t wrong, it could be Matteo as well. Either of them would be happy to take her out. They’d tried before.
“Ah, but they asked me to make sure you don’t return.”
“I’m not going to.”
The gun was inevitable. She cursed under her breath, reaching for the knife at her belt, hoping she wasn’t too rusty.
“Oh, I know you won’t, Lisa.”
He pulled the trigger.
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.
Hi guys! Here we are again 🙂 Things are happening oh my. I’m really so afraid that the pacing here is awful. That’s what happens when you don’t want to just fill your story with cooking, working out, and sculpting. Could have filled sooo many chapters with just nothing. So yeah – pacing is bad :3
Anyway, I hope you’re all doing awesome. I’m still being absolutely pummeled by uni work. I thought because I only followed one class this semester, it would be easier. Silly, silly me. Between uni and everything, I’m just beat. I haven’t written in a while which is bad seeing as the blog is catching up to my backlog of chapters!! Aaaaa!
Um anyway, see you in the next oooooone! ~Louise