So, let’s talk about Monte Vista Stories. Or, more specifically A Monte Vista Story, as it used to be called. Later on I added the subtitle of ‘Good Guys’, since it seemed thematically appropriate and I wanted each generation to have a separate title. I wrote that story the way I used to write – I plunged head-first into the game, snapped some pics, wrote a few lines, and posted it to my WordPress blog. I had no idea what the story was going to turn into at the time. It bears the marks of that, um… process. Let’s go with that for a lack of a better word. Storylines came and went, were dropped unceremoniously, and then suddenly remembered near the end. I tried my best to tie it together, but it is a mess at the best of times. There’s a good core in there somewhere. I love the good and I think the bad is… quirky. It’s a product of the same kind of over-eagerness that you see on a lot of fanfic sites around the web.
In fact, I love it so much that a while back I decided it deserved to be redone to be better. I love this version even better. Vittoria is snarky and fun, Carlo is sexy and intense. Camillo has an actual personality and role. Man, it is so good… And I just don’t have time for it. That’s the gist of this post.
I guess I’m in a reflective mood today. I’m moving away from my home of almost six years, but due to Internet fuckery at my new place, I’m staying for a few more days. (Because no, I’m not staying all alone in a flat without Internet for three days. Fuck that). I also just noticed a retrospective post of Lila’s on tumblr and it made me reflect on old writing and new. I cringe at the old version of MVS, sure, but it is what it is. It’s how this whole story started and I enjoy it for what it is. That’s why I’m giving the old version back it’s position. When you check the menu now, you’ll find the old, decrepit version, EA-licious photos and all. I’ll add a little spot for the rewrite, of course, but I won’t continue.
Instead, I’ll give you “little” post, summing up what I would have liked to do with the rewrite, starting from the very beginning, so bear with me as I recount stuff that you know if you were reading along. I’m so sorry that this is a text-heavy post and not full of images and also that it is long. I might not know all the details, since I’m still not big on detailed outlines, but you’ll get the gist of what I was going for. 🙂
Carlo and Camillo Mancini lost their dad, Marco, at a relatively young age. Camillo had yet to turn eighteen, and Carlo had to take care of him. It was exacerbated by Camillo sinking into a deep depression, as he was there and witnessed it as his dad died from a stroke. Carlo always struggled to keep jobs, because he would slack off or do less-than-legal things at his workplace – in fact, he always had this predilection for wrong-doing that his dad tried to stop at a young age. He did not succeed. When Carlo got desperate enough, he started stealing cars and found out that it was one thing he was actually good at. This continued until he stole Franco Bianchi’s car.
Franco was the right-hand man of Giuliano Buonarotti, leader of the Good Guys, a gang that had a strong hold on Monte Vista. Luckily for Carlo, Giuliano wasn’t a cross-me-and-you-die type of leader, instead he saw that Carlo had potential and took him under his wing. Carlo still had a wild streak in his youth and did a lot of questionable things in an effort to impress his boss. One of these things included some pretty bad torture that Giuliano immediately put an end to. Carlo was scarred forever by the things he did and grew gentler and more careful as a result. He also started wishing that he could hold down a ‘normal’ job and have a regular life with a family. That became his plan for the future: Find the right woman, leave the gang, settle down, and do… something else. He started telling everyone this was his plan, especially his brother, Camillo, who wasn’t so keen on the whole gang thing and felt guilty for his brother getting involved. Carlo assured him he would stop in the gang as soon as Camillo was independent.
In the years after this revelation, Carlo met many women, among them a doctor called Laetitia whom he was engaged to. All of the women he dated were the types of women who wouldn’t be into a gang leader, but they were all taken in by his gentle nature and his promises that he was going to change. When they realised that he wasn’t ready to leave the gang, they usually bailed. Laetitia was the longest-lasting relationship of them all, but in the end she, too, could see that it wasn’t going to happen. They split in a particularly devastating break-up. Carlo would still sometimes call her to help with injuries in the gang, even though every time Laetitia would say it was the last time. None of the women he dated actually made Carlo want to stop doing what he was doing.
Vittoria began her life as Lisa, the result of her mother, Lucia, getting pregnant at a young age. She never knew her father, but when she was a young teen, Lucia met Alberto Zini and the two had a relationship. He was completely smitten with Lucia and had a particular fondness for her daughter. He took her on walks and to watch movies in the cinema. She was particularly enamoured with old spy movies and because of it, Alberto started calling her ‘Vittoria’, taken from a character from her favourite movie. When she later set out on her own, that’s the name she used for herself.
Lucia and Alberto’s relationship didn’t last, however, because Lucia met Alessandro Giocondo, a gang-leader with a particularly nasty personality. He trained teenaged Vittoria to be a killing machine and had the young girl protecting him, since most of his enemies didn’t expect the very petite girl to be of any danger to them. Lucia let this all happen. Meanwhile, Alberto stayed in contact with Vittoria and was a comforting presence in her life – she got her dry sense of humour from him and he was the reason she tended to break into big, beautiful smiles. He tried to shield her from the worst of the gang world, but it didn’t always work out.
Vittoria had plenty of men interested in her because of her position as Alessandro’s step-daughter, but none of them made any real effort or appealed to her before Gallo. Gallo wasn’t a prince charming, but since he almost seemed like he gave a damn, she fell in love in spite of Alberto’s warnings. The relationship wasn’t pleasant. Gallo was violent and abusive, but Vittoria was sure it was as good as it could get, since the only man who had never treated her like that was Alberto – she became convinced that decent guys like him were vanishingly rare.
Her life became increasingly unpleasant, especially at the hand of Alessandro and Gallo. When Alessandro nearly killed her, however, Vittoria had enough and decided that he had to go. With the support of her mother and Gallo, she killed him and took his place as the leader of the gang. She would continue to pretend that Alessandro was alive for years, while only the ones closest to her knew she was in charge.
At the end of Vittoria’s reign as leader, she started noticing that somebody in the gang was doing work behind her back. She would suddenly be blamed for robberies and murders she didn’t authorise and so she started investigating, sure that Gallo was the one who was doing it. As she started getting closer to the truth, however, she was shot in the back and would have died if Alberto didn’t get her to safety.
He helped her fake her death and gave her a chance to recover at his home with him and his young daughter, Marta. While recovering, Vittoria realised that it couldn’t have been Gallo going behind his back, since it wasn’t his style, but she also couldn’t find out who it really was. She started investigating and through that found out that the person who tried to kill her, also killed Giuliano Buonarotti in Monte Vista. That’s why she decided to go see Carlo Mancini and investigate further. She left Alberto without telling, because she knew he would protest that she wasn’t fully recovered from the gunshot wound.
Fast forward: Carlo is the leader of the Good Guys, ruling with Franco as his right-hand man, and his brother is opening his own restaurant soon and will be independent. It’s almost time for Carlo to make good on his promises to stop. Shortly before the restaurant is set to open, Giuliano is gunned down in broad daylight. His widow and children leave Giuliano’s big villa to Carlo, but he can’t move in there as the place only makes him sad. He also can’t stop being in the gang before he knows who killed his friend.
One day, while visiting the villa, Franco notices that a young woman seems to be watching them. Carlo says it’s probably just a neighbour, but Franco is always suspicious. On the walk back from the villa, Carlo meets a woman, Paolina, who’s exactly his usual type and he asks her out. Their date goes well, until the same woman from earlier appears and Carlo has to interrupt the evening. The young woman appears back at his place and tells him her name is Vittoria and that she knows who killed his friend. She’ll tell him in exchange for a place to stay and protection from the man who killed Giuliano, though she won’t share her identity. He’s sure she’s seen her before somewhere.
Carlo agrees to let Vittoria stay with him and his brother, though she’s constantly guarded. She uses every trick in the book to sneak away and investigate her own attempted murder, while keeping what she really knows secret from Carlo. In spite of a budding relationship with Paolina, Carlo also finds himself drawn to Vittoria. He tells himself it’s only the mystery of who she really is and how familiar she is. All the same, he can’t stop himself from flirting with her. Vittoria is just as attracted to Carlo and she, too, is reluctant to admit it. She’s sure Carlo is like any other gang leader, a brutal and scary man, but slowly she starts to see a caring side of him. Eventually, she starts downright liking him and finds his relationship with his brother and girlfriend endearing.
Meanwhile, Camillo is working on his restaurant, planning menus and hiring staff. He has problems with his hot-headed and stubborn head chef, Simona, who insists that the financial plan for the restaurant is nonsense. She encourages him to take the plan to her accountant. Camillo is reluctant, because Carlo helped him make those plans and apply for loans, but since Simona is instant, he goes to the accountant. That’s when he discovers that Carlo used his influence in Monte Vista to get him the loan. Camillo is furious and tells Carlo to stay out of his business from now on—he doesn’t want to effectively be financed by the mob.
Carlo starts avoiding both his brother and Vittoria, instead spending most of his time with Paolina. One night, there’s word that Gallo has been seen around Monte Vista, which Vittoria finds odd because going into Good Guys territory is effectively suicide. While Carlo and his men rush to take him out, Vittoria realises that it’s a trick. The real point is to draw the Good Guys away from Paolina to make a show of strength against Carlo. Vittoria escapes her guard and rushes to Paolina’s place where she just barely saves her in time. Unfortunately, it rips open her wound.
That’s how Carlo learns about her injury. Soon, everyone knows that Vittoria is alive as well and there’s a move to take her out so she doesn’t come back and take her old gang. She decides to flee Monte Vista, but while fleeing she learns that when it became clear she was still alive, her secret adversary came to Alberto’s place and killed him while looking for her. Vittoria is devastated but decides to keep investigating, because there’s no word of Marta, his daughter, dying. She needs to find her.
Before she gets far, she’s caught by Carlo and finally has to admit who she is. Carlo promises that he’ll continue to protect her and she agrees to stay put so they can solve the mystery of both Giuliano and Alberto’s deaths together. He also realises that the reason he knew her, is because she’s the spitting image of Lucia, her mother. Lucia briefly babysat him and his brother when they were little, though she was suddenly fired and he didn’t see her again for a while.
Now the mystery of Vittoria is finally solved, but Carlo isn’t any less drawn to her. Camillo has a restaurant opening where Carlo attends with Paolina, but she can’t help but notice that he pays a lot of attention to Vittoria. After the event, Paolina confronts him, asking him if he can even see himself leaving the gang and being with her. When Carlo stalls and says he will, but he needs more time, Paolina says it doesn’t make sense to her. Carlo could quit the gang if he so wished, since he and Camillo are more than financially stable. She says that if he leaves the gang right that instance, she’ll consider a future for them, but Carlo can’t do it. Paolina ends it. In a fit of passion, Carlo gives into his attraction for Vittoria and the two hook up.
They both pretend that their hooking up is nothing but an attraction thing while they continue on the mystery murders and finding Marta. Gallo is still out there and wants Vittoria out of the way, so she and Carlo can’t come and take the gang. He lets her know that her mother is gone, killed by him, and he’ll do the same to her. He doesn’t mention Marta, however, so Vittoria and Carlo continue their hunt for answers.
While they continue being together, the investigation stalls and time passes. Camillo’s restaurant is a success and he leaves his brother’s house to live with Simona, who’s now his partner both in the business and in a romantic sense. Carlo and Vittoria’s relationship continue to develop, becoming more and more like a real one. When she ends up pregnant by accident, Carlo acknowledges that he’s in love with her. He was afraid of admitting his feelings, because she’s the only woman he’s ever been with who didn’t care to try and change him. He used to deliberately date women who would try to change him into someone who would leave the gang—Vittoria doesn’t.
She still doesn’t feel like a family type of woman, but she gets carried away by her own love for Carlo and they decide to have the baby. They have a boy, Giuliano, and it isn’t more than a year later when she falls pregnant again with a girl, Regina. After this, they get married. While they love each other, married life isn’t easy for them, and Vittoria doesn’t take naturally to motherhood the way they would have hoped. She can’t help but wish that she didn’t have to live that kind of life.
They haven’t been married for long when Vittoria’s mother shows up, dragging Marta along. Carlo and Vittoria let them stay, but Marta is acting oddly. She clings to Lucia, but also seems scared of her. At the same time, Vittoria doesn’t like the way her mother acts around their children, especially Regina, and she gets more and more suspicious until she realises that Lucia was the one who tried to have her killed all along. She doesn’t get the chance to confront her mother, because Gallo forces Vittoria to flee by threatening Marta and her kids.
Vittoria is forced to return to her old gang along with her mother and Marta and in the process she has to hurt Carlo to protect him. She works on some way to take Gallo and Lucia down, but by this point he has a strong hold on his gang, thanks to the help of Lucia. She, in turn, has been the real mastermind of the gang since Alessandro’s days, and even while Vittoria was nominally in charge, Lucia used to influence her as her mother. She was the one who made orders behind her back and she tried to have her daughter killed when Vittoria got close to the truth. Lucia wants to kill Vittoria now, but Gallo wants to keep her around and that is Vittoria’s chance to manipulate the situation to her own advantage.
Carlo is heartbroken at his wife’s betrayal, but continues to be there for his children while also running the gang. However, he starts suspecting not everything is as it seems. Vittoria manages to send him a message to warn him of Lucia’s role in the gang and the two start secretly communicating and working together to take over the gang from the inside. Vittoria slowly convinces those under Gallo to join her husband while Carlo gathers enough people to take their territory.
The two of them outsmart Gallo and Lucia and take them out, but after it’s over they realise they can’t go back to the way they were. Vittoria is still hated by many in Carlo’s gang and they’ll never accept her back as his wife. Carlo suggests that they both leave and settle down somewhere far away, but Vittoria knows that he can’t quit that life, so instead she opts to leave, faking her death and taking on her late mother’s name. Carlo will raise the kids and Marta on his own. When Regina is old enough to take over the gang for Carlo, he’ll retire and join Vittoria and until then, they’ll see each other as much as they can.
If you somehow made it through all this nonsense, thanks so much. I know it was a long one, and not nearly as interesting as reading a proper story with pictures. I’m gutted that I just can’t see myself having time to write this. Writing it all out, my fingers were just itching to write some of those scenes, but alas. With a full-time job, I just can’t see myself having time to write more than one story at a time. I can see myself coming back to Carlo and Vittoria’s story some day. Probably not as simlit, but maybe as a proper novel for publishing. Time will tell.
Until then, thanks to the people who read along on the rewrite and a big apology for leaving it like this. I hope you at least enjoy this view into what it could have been. I hope you’ll continue to join me in reading Heartwood and future generations of Monte Vista Stories. I hope I’ll get time to get the last little bit of Heartwood out. I also hope it won’t be too long before you get to see generation three. I’m writing it at the moment and think it’ll be really enjoyable. We’ll see what the future brings. Now I’ll say bye-bye and see you in the next post.
Love you all,