Note: Damn, guys, it has been… a while since I posted this. So sorry for that. This chapter has actually been ready for ages, but since both I and my beta-reader (my lovely boyfriend) were busy, it didn’t happen until now! I hope you won’t get too lost in it – otherwise, there’s the recap page handy. 🙂 Hope you enjoy!
As nice as it would be to laze in sunny Monte Vista with Alonzo as her guide, Vittoria decided that she had things to do first. She hadn’t come here just to hang out, so as soon as Carlo was out of the house, she feigned a severe case of women’s troubles. She hated pulling that card, but Alonzo seemed suspicious of her vague insinuations of illness, until she mentioned blood and added the one word she knew would get the point across: gushing.
Both he and Camillo, who was almost out the door at that time, turned a shade of deep pink. Alonzo dropped all his questions and only answered all her requests with a terse ‘Sure’.
That was how she managed to convince him to accept her taking a long bath. She locked herself in Carlo and Camillo’s bathroom and let the tub fill with water while she changed into a dress. She piled her hair on her head, ditched the glasses for contacts, and caked make-up on her face. It wasn’t a great disguise, but she couldn’t exactly dye her hair, so it would have to do. Once she was done with that and had filled up the tub, she climbed out the window.
Vittoria was relieved to find that Carlo hadn’t thought to guard the back of his house and she didn’t go to the front where he would no doubt have people watching out. Instead, she walked as far as she could in the opposite direction.
This way took her to a part of town that she had no doubt Carlo would frequent, but probably only at night. In daylight, it looked somewhat lovely: A small collection of squat houses with chequered curtains and sunflowers crowding around the walls. Behind the closed doors, however, they housed some of the scummiest people around, if Alberto wasn’t mistaken.
Not for the first time since leaving his house, she wished she could call and ask for his guidance. If it weren’t for Alberto Zini, she would never have made it as far as she had—hell, she wouldn’t be alive. Her injury ached, as if to remind her just how much he had done for her. It was why she pressed on now. If she could figure this out, if she could end it, there was a chance of going back to the way things had been, a chance to see her best friend again.
Nobody paid her much heed and she made it to the house she had hoped for without anyone recognising her. She made sure to straighten her dress—she hated the damned thing, but it was perfect for this—then she smudged her make-up a little to look as cheap as possible, and knocked on the door.
It was opened by a gruff-looking older man with greying hair. Based on his surprisingly decent physique, she had no doubt he was the man she was looking for: Antonio Moretti, or Tonio. He was someone Gallo had talked about a lot—his preferred hitman.
“Hey love,” she said, making sure to make her eyes big and devoid of intellect. “Gallo sent me to give you a good time. He’s soooo grateful for…”
The man’s eyes widened and he stepped outside, closing the door.
“Shut up, idiot girl,” he snarled. He caught her around the upper arm and dragged her away from the door, down the street. “My wife is home, for fuck’s sake. What’s wrong with Gallo?”
Vittoria’s instinct was to take back her arm and punch him for this, but instead she let him drag her while still looking innocently confused about the whole situation. Tonio pulled her down the street, into a small park and to a bench by one of the fountains. He looked around, then asked her to sit.
“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Did I do something bad?”
She briefly wondered if adding a little lip quiver would be too much, but then she did it for the heck of it. It was immediately a success as she saw him wince a bit.
“Look, sweetheart, I told Gallo not to send his girls to my fucking house and especially not during the day. My wife’ll tear me a new asshole if she finds out.”
Vittoria’s eyes grew glossy. “Oh no, I had no idea. I’m so sorry Tonio. Gallo said you’d be happy to see me after what you did for him.”
Tonio waved her off.
“It don’t matter, honey, but what do you mean what I did for him?”
She widened her eyes and looked at him under her lashes. “The uh…” She waved him closer so she could whisper. “The shooting and all that.”
He grimaced again.
“Uh, yes, but I’ve done an awful lot of shooting, so you’re going to have to be more specific.”
“You know the one—the one from the, uh, the Nice Guys?”
Vittoria had imagined what this conversation would go like many times, but she hadn’t expected Tonio’s reaction. His eyes suddenly widened and he flew to his feet.
“Oh, no, no, no,” he said. “Nope. I ain’t taking responsibility for that one.”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“I heard one of the Good Guys was killed and I’m not touching that shit with a ten foot pole. It’s suicide. If it’s Gallo that offed him, he’s stupider than I thought.”
Vittoria wanted to assure him that Gallo was usually stupider than people gave him credit for, but she didn’t let her mask slip. She kept her expression vapid and made sure to look fearful at his emotional outburst.
“B-but he said…”
“Yeah, yeah, I bet he told you it was me. Well, it fucking wasn’t, and you better tell him not to start rumours. If that gets spread around, I’m dead meat.”
“But… why would you be dead? If they’re such nice guys?” she asked.
Tonio winced. “Fucking hell, where did Gallo pick you up?”
“Uh, he’s going to pick me up at the bus stop when I get back home, so…”
Normally, Vittoria wasn’t one to laugh at her own jokes, but she had to stifle a laugh at this one, at least due to the look on Tonio’s face.
“Um, yeah, okay. Look,” he said, sitting back down and patting her knee, “you go back and tell Gallo it was lovely, but I’ll have to decline the offer. And if he tells anyone it was me who offed Mancini’s pal, he’s dead. Can you tell him that?”
Vittoria nodded. “I think so.”
“Good girl.” Tonio patted her on the cheek and then got out a few notes from his wallet and pushed them into her hand. “Go back home, sweetheart, we’re done for today. Though, if you have time next week…”
“Uh, I have to ask Gallo.”
Tonio nodded. “Sure you do, love. Go home now and tell Gallo what I said, right?”
“Right. Um, but…”
“If it wasn’t you, who murdered him then?”
He sighed. “I don’t know, but whoever it is won’t live much longer. Once Mancini gets to him, well… But run along now.”
Vittoria nodded and walked away from there with light, springy steps, though only for as long as Tonio would be able to see her. Once she got out of his range of vision, she let her shoulders drop and walked normally.
So far, nothing had gone as she expected in Monte Vista. Carlo was supposed to be a brutish moron like Gallo and Tonio was supposed to be the man behind the murder. There was always the chance that he was lying, but Vittoria didn’t think so. Hitmen didn’t lie about hits they had committed, and the only way they would deny a hit was if they truly hadn’t done it. The only reasonable conclusion to draw was that Tonio wasn’t her man.
Alonzo looked up suspiciously when she came out of the bathroom with her hair wrapped in a towel and wrinkled fingertips. After she came back from her outing, she had wetted her hair and dipped her hands in water long enough for them to look like she really had been soaking for over an hour.
“That was a pretty long bath,” he said with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s the only thing that works. You’ve just got to soak until it no longer feels like your insides are trying to force their way out of your bits.”
Her description had the effect she had hoped. Alonzo looked away, nodding tersely and his face was faintly green. Vittoria dropped into a chair, looking at him.
“Your boss said I could see town. Any must-see places?”
“What about your… women’s troubles?” He asked.
She shrugged. “I soaked and my insides are staying where they’re supposed to be. So? Anything cool to do?”
“The museum is close and that’s famous, I guess.”
“Well then,” she said, “let’s go. I’m going to get bored, sitting around in this place.”
Author’s notes: Hi guys! And welcome back to this thing. It’s been… quite a while since I posted anything on this story. It’s a short chapter to (hopefully) get us back in the swing of thing, but it’s probably still good that I have recaps, luls. As usual, I’m going to babble a bit about what has changed in the change notes below and as usual, they may contain spoilers, so tread with care if you’re a new reader!Click here for boring change notes!
- Obviously, none of this chapter happened in the original version. Vittoria pretty much just settled down in Carlo’s house and didn’t leave. Of course, since Carlo just let her in and let her do whatever she pleased, there wasn’t any need to sneak around. A smarter Carlo means Vittoria needs to be smarter, too.
- I used this chapter to make Vittoria a more active character and to develop her. This chapter gives her something to do and thus lets her drive the story as well. I’m trying to make it clear that she’s quite the actor and also that she knows more than she’s letting on. Honestly, I love the changes made to her in this version – she’s so fun to write as well.
- I invented a new character, Antonio Moretti. If you’re reading generation 2, you may know that the name Moretti pops up there as well. I actually wanted to have this chapter out before the chapter in generation 2, so that readers of both could recognise the name, but oh well! Of course, this character’s son is in generation 2, though I won’t spoil what he does there, in case anyone’s not up to date!
- Alberto Zini is now a character right from the start, yay! You may not remember, but he was in that version, though he never appeared… while alive. He’s Marta’s dad, if you’re curious. He’s going to be more important in this version as Vittoria’s best friend and someone she trusts completely. In the original version he was mentioned shortly as Vittoria’s contact who was later revealed to be dead around the time Marta appeared. There wasn’t much for the poor guy to do except be a corpse.
Now then, that was it for now. I hope you enjoyed this, even though it was short. As usual, this story isn’t on any schedule, so I won’t promise when the next chapter is out. Good weekend to everyone. See you in the next chapter!