Enzo called her in the late afternoon the following day with a time and place for the meeting. She hoped that the location was a good omen for how this would turn out. The old ruins on the edge of town was one of her favourite places.
She and her siblings used to go there. She would climb the fence to explore the forbidden upper sections while they refused, and together they planted sunflower seeds. The yellow blooms still crowded around the broken walls each summer, like bursts of sunlight. The place was loveliest at night, when it was quiet and the light from the lamps made the broken walls glow. Even seeing Enzo’s hated face couldn’t ruin her mood.
“He should be here soon,” Enzo told her when they had waited for a while. “You should probably let me do the talking.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t dream of depriving you of a chance to hear your own voice,” she said. “Go right ahead.”
He ran a hand down over his sweat-dripping face. “Do you have to be here?”
“Yes,” she said.
It was him who had hired her, him who had given an offer she couldn’t refuse, and him who insisted on being there the day before. If he didn’t want to be around her, he shouldn’t have hired her. She half hoped that he would withdraw the offer and give her an out. She held his eyes for a long time, before he looked away with a sigh.
“I’ve talked to him before, without you present.”
“Yes, and all that got you was a fake-ass painting. By all means, do the talking, but don’t pretend that you know what you’re doing.”
He pressed his mouth into a thin line and sneered: “This was a mistake.”
“Let me remind you that you hired me, rich boy. But by all means, take back your offer and we can both—”
“Regina, I don’t mean to interrupt anything,” Franco said, discreetly reaching for his weapon, “but we have company.”
Leoni came walking across the lawn, out of the shadows. He was a tall man with shaggy brown hair that brushed over one eye. He walked with a relaxed arrogance, until he saw Regina and Franco—not to mention the guns they held. She noticed his hand going straight for the gun he had on him.
“What’s this all about?” he asked of Enzo.
“I want to talk to you about the painting you sold me.”
Gina could see the tension in Leoni’s shoulders.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“The van der Ast.”
“I think you have me confused with someone else.”
Gina rolled her eyes. “We already know you’re the one who stole it, Leoni. Cut the crap,” she said.
He started and looked at her.
“Who’s the chick?”
She saw Enzo open his mouth, and before she had a chance to stop him, he blurted out her name. The reaction from Leoni was instant. He drew his gun and pointed it straight at Enzo. Gina and Franco was quicker. Gina gave her client a hard push in the ribs so he collapsed on the ground, out of the way of the gun, and she aimed her own straight at Leoni.
“I stay out of the Good Guys’ business and you stay out of mine,” Leoni said with his weapon aimed straight at Gina’s chest.
“I’m afraid this is my business. Rich boy here is my client,” she told Leoni, pointing at the still-groaning man on the ground. “You sold him a real painting, now it’s fake. Spill the details.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s a scam, Mr. Leoni,” Franco said politely. “Our client’s painting was replaced with a fake some time after you sold it to him. I don’t think I have to tell you what I suspect has happened.”
Leoni frowned, and the gun never left her.
“I’m not a scammer.”
“I’m sure you’re not,” Gina said. “So you won’t mind coming with us for a chat.”
The man shook his head, slowly backing away.
“Sorry, darling, no can do. I have to—”
“That wasn’t a question.”
He froze when the barrel of Carlotta’s gun pressed into his back. She had slinked out of the shadows and snuck up on him while he wasn’t looking.
Leoni cursed and held his hands over his head in surrender.
“It doesn’t seem like I have a choice.”
“Correct,” Gina said. “This way, if you please.”
The strange little procession made their way back to the villa. Her dad, bleary-eyed in his old robe, came down to see what the ruckus was about.
“Just working, daddy,” Gina said sweetly, holding a gun to Leoni’s back. Carlo chuckled.
“Sure, sure, sweetie.”
Then he went back to sleep and Gina guided the strange procession into the dining room.
She took a seat directly in front of Leoni and made her face and tone as pleasant as she could.
“Let’s try again, shall we?” she asked, leaning on the table with a smile. “The van der Ast you sold my client… was it real?”
He nodded. “Definitely. I can tell you how to tell if it’s fake or not, if—”
“If you’d kept up to date on me, you’d realise I already know that shit,” she said, her temper flaring at his tone. “I’m more interested in who took it and replaced it with a forgery.”
“Oh, I couldn’t say.”
“Fuck you, Leoni. You know, and you’re going to tell me.”
She saw the thief look carefully over his shoulder at Franco, then his eyes drifted to Carlotta who hadn’t taken her eyes off him once.
“You realise it’s bad for business to blabber to everyone and their grandma, right?”
“Do you realise it’s bad for business to be fucking dead?”
He swore, but still didn’t budge. “I know your reputation. You guys don’t kill all willy-nilly.”
Gina smiled and leaned forward.
“Correct, we don’t. But there’s no accounting for accidents, is there? Lotta here is clumsy.”
Next to her, Lotta pretended to fumble with the gun for a moment, then she shrugged and said:
He shook his head.
“Okay, okay, point taken. I have no clue who’s got the real one now, but I know that it’s a very popular painting. Before blue eyes here hired me,” he tossed his head at Enzo, “I had a few other offers.”
“I’m working for two clients who want the same painting, so you don’t have to tell me.”
“I think I could sustain myself for the next five years with all the people who want that fucking painting. According to someone I talked to, there’s this… I don’t know, clusterfuck of people who are all fighting over it. Maybe blue eyes’ family is even involved.”
“Okay, first, don’t call me that. Second, my family isn’t part of this fighting. I want the painting for other reasons.”
“Did you know about this feud?” Gina asked, turning to him.
“No, I didn’t,” he said emphatically.
Leoni butted in: “Oh, it’s only a select few who know about it. They keep it quiet. Steal it and then parade it in front of each other to show off, but they never report it in case the police take it.”
She wondered if Ms. Antonini knew about it. Like Enzo, she was desperate to have the painting. If she was involved in this feud, her client had left out crucial details. Both her clients had. Her eyes landed on Enzo again.
“If you don’t want it because you’re involved in a fight, why do you want it?”
“That’s my business only.”
Like hell it is… Still, she took a deep breath and turned to Leoni. She’d chew into her client later. She rested her head in her hands.
“If it’s such a secret, how do you know?”
“Ah, just rumours. Us art merchants like to gossip.”
Gina nodded, though she added a mental note to have someone following Leoni discreetly. He knew more than he was letting on.
After a few more questions that Leoni dodged or answered vaguely, she dismissed him and then decided to tackle the problem with Enzo. She asked for a word in private, and since Carlotta and Franco were inside, she brought him out.
Once out of hearing range of the others, she leaned on the brick wall around the patio. Enzo didn’t look her in the eye, but stood with his back straight, electric blue eyes staring into the distance. She cleared her throat and said:
“If your family isn’t involved in that feud, why do you need the painting?”
“I told you, that’s my busi—”
“No, when you hired me, it became my business. Considering what Leoni told us, it’s likely to be relevant. Why do you want the painting?”
He wetted his lips, still stubbornly looking away. After some consideration, he said:
“It’s a gift for my sister’s fiancé.”
Each word was said slowly, deliberately. It was an obvious lie if she had ever heard one.
“How is that such a big deal?”
Enzo shrugged. “The man likes his art.”
“I expected, at minimum, some sort of world-ending disaster, but it’s just an engagement present?”
“Yeah, that’s all.”
“That’s all,” she repeated, voice mocking. “How do you expect me to work for you if you’re not telling me the whole story?”
“My story isn’t relevant to the painting,” he said. “It’s got to do with all the people who want it. You said you had another client? Go to her.”
“Trust me, I plan on doing that. I just thought I’d handle one wealthy, lying asshole at a time. It’s better for my blood pressure.”
He set his jaw and pressed his fingers to the bridge of his nose. She heard him mutter something under his breath, but the words weren’t audible.
“What was that?”
Enzo looked up, eyes tired. “I said: I get it. I’m rich and you don’t like me. Please, just get over it so we can find that painting. Your blatant disrespect is becoming a nuisance.”
Every lesson her dad had instilled in her, every word of wisdom, went out the window with the rush of blood in her ears. She looked him square in the eyes and shoved him as hard as she could so he almost went toppling. It was only because he was close to one of the brick columns and caught it for support that he didn’t.
“Get over it?” she said. “What, because now you’re paying me to work for you, everything is fucking fine, is that it?”
“It’s been eight years!” he said back. “And you’re still angry about it. Yes, I think it’s time to get over it.”
“I am over it,” she said.
“Really? So all those little jabs, all the insults? The comments about my wealth? That’s all part of you being over me? Very dignified.”
“Oh, it’s not dignified enough for you? Well, I’m terribly sorry if your delicate ears can’t handle my uncultured tongue. Listen, you piece of shit: I’m not going to sit down and act all demure and pretend like we’re just fine, you and me. We’re not. You played with me for two weeks because you were bored and then you dumped me. Maybe I could have gotten over that, but then you had to report me to the police as an extra parting gift.”
“I did no such thing.”
“Oh, fuck you, Cavalcante. I came home to find a police car in the drive and they were there because you couldn’t take a few swears and ran to daddy.”
Enzo looked away and with a sigh he said: “I didn’t run to my father. He did it himself and I had no part in it.”
“How convenient that it’s never your fault.”
“I never said it wasn’t my fault.”
Gina drew back, arms crossed over her chest to stop herself from pushing him again. “I can’t really imagine you admitting that it’s your fault.”
“You want me to take responsibility for what I did? Fine…” he took a deep breath and said: “I know that I hurt you eight years ago, and I’m sorry.”
She started, taking a step back. “What?”
He repeated the sentiment. Gina was quiet for a long time and then said:
“What, so… so, just because you apologise, we’re supposed to be completely fine or—”
“Since every conversation we’ve had so far has been a repeat of the same insults over and over again, likely not,” Enzo said. He sounded tired more than arrogant for once. “But perhaps we could at least be civil to each other.”
“I still fucking hate you.”
“Naturally. Still, I am sorry.”
What was she supposed to say to that? He could have said anything else, something totally nonsensical, and she would have believed it more. As it was, his face was surprisingly sympathetic. The most human she had seen it since he reappeared… hell, since he dumped her all those years ago.
All the things she could have said died on her lips, so instead she cleared her throat and changed the topic:
“Do you think your future brother-in-law is involved in that clusterfuck with the painting?”
Enzo shrugged. “Probably.”
“Can you ask him about it?” When he said he couldn’t, she continued: “Right, I’ll look into it then. Might as well head to Collesena when my dad goes and talk to my other client.”
He nodded. “I’m going as well, so if you need me while I’m there…”
“No, I imagine not,” he said, smiling nonetheless. “Well, contact me when you know something, Regina.”
He nodded and left. It still felt like she was in some bizarre alternate dimension when she walked back inside.
Author’s note: Hi guys, welcome back to Monte Vista, and to a relatively long chapter. Comparatively, at least. My usual chapters are somewhere around 8-9000 characters/1500 words, whereas this is 12000 characters/2300 words. Can you guys tell I got carried away because I like writing arguments? Oh, sweet, sweet arguments… One thing to note that the keen-eyed viewer may have noticed. I basically changed default eyes in the middle of this chapter. So you have the earlier pics where everyone look like hollow-eyed beasts and then suddenly Gina has gorgeous doe-eyes. Sorry about that. To be frank, I did consider retaking the scene in the ruins/dining room (especially the latter), but gosh, I can’t be bothered. I’ve been too busy snapping pics for new chapters instead, resulting in me having four more chapters ready besides this. They were so much fun to write, honestly, and I can’t wait to share… buuuuut gotta have a little storage of chapters for when I start school. Only one week left! :O
Another note: One of the poses around the table (Leoni’s) is featured in my new posepack. Actually, it’s one of the poses I’m warning you looks shit for a male… I’m very glad I decided to demonstrate just how bad it looks apparently, hahahhahaha… (dear me I really should have taken new ones…) But I mean otherwise the poses are pretty okay (well, mostly), so maybe check it out or something. It’s also a chance to see that I’ve revamped the page for posepacks, so it’s not such a pain to look through 🙂 I haven’t done it for the old poses yet.
Well, that’s enough rambling from my side of things. Thank you guys for reading this far. A little shout-out as well to those who always drop a like but don’t necessarily comment. I thought recently about how I never mentioned that or anything but how I also really appreciate it. Your presence is a comfort and a joy 🙂
NOW I’m really done rambling. See you in the next post!
amyqueen · August 18, 2018 at 8:00 am
Ahh, did I ever mention how much I love arguments? Well, I do. I expected Gina to blow up at Enzo eventually, but I never really thought about how he’d take it… I guess since he tends to be slightly fearful around her most of the time, I figured Enzo would flinch or hang his head, but he handled it surprisingly cooly. I had a feeling it was probably his family that went ahead an interfered by calling the police on Gina all those years ago, but that didn’t really absolve him of what he did in the least. It seems the worst of the angry – mostly on Gina’s part, haha – tension between them has passed, and they’ll probably get along a little more going forward :3 Hopefully more than just get along if you catch my drift, hehe… but I can be patient for now on that front. As for the painting business, I’m still clueless as to how this engagement gift can hold so much weight, but since I sprinkled most of my theories last chapter, I shall continue to observe until something new clicks for me, or until you reveal it altogether, haha. I didn’t even notice the eyes until you mentioned it, I was too busy admiring the details of another gorgeous teal sweater Gina was sporting per usual XD but they’re very pretty! This was a great chapter~ I hope you enjoy your last week of freedom :’)
NotJustaBook · August 18, 2018 at 8:11 am
I do love me some delicious arguments as well 😀
He finally had enough and bit back 😛 This is an important step in Gina not throwing an insult every second sentence, for sure! I figured it had to happen, because before it did, I couldn’t see her acting with any sort of civility, ha, ha 😀
It should become clear during the next, like, five chapters what’s going on with the painting 🙂
Yet another example of me pointing out something silly that nobody noticed anyway ahahhaha… didn’t know Gina’s outfits were that distracting, but I guess that just means I choose nice outfits :’)
Thanks for your kind words, and also for reading and commenting <3
Lila Remonn · August 18, 2018 at 8:28 am
For a dumb second there, I thought Carlotta was pointing her gun at Gina, and I was like ‘WHAT THE HECK? PLOT TWIST???’. And then I reread that paragraph and facepalmed for not reading properly, haha!
Leoni may be a scammer, but he is cute 😉 I wonder what is so important about the van der Ast that many rich people are fighting over it, and what more Leoni may know. I don’t know anything about art history / fine arts, so I can’t tell whether it’s because this painting is famous or because of a more mysterious reason… the threads of this mystery are knotting tighter!
I love the new contacts! Gina indeed looks like a doe, so pretty 😀
I’m kinda going to miss her constant snarky remarks (though I doubt it will disappear completely) but I am glad that Enzo apologised, in quite a mature way. I knew it wasn’t him who called the police on her! I have hope for them!
Awesome chapter <3
NotJustaBook · August 18, 2018 at 8:39 am
Pahahhaha 😀 Oh man, now wouldn’t that have been a twist! Fun fact: At one point I had a storyline in mind where Lotta did turn out to be a traitor. But I’m already terrible with female relations (my most important female relationship so far included a mother trying to off her daughter, after all) so I couldn’t bring myself to do it :’)
As far as I know, it’s not important. Any importance placed on it comes from my brain, ha, ha. I just picked that one ’cause it’s pretty 😛
Thank you <3 It took me aaages to get the defaults/eyeball replacement/sclera and stuff to look how I want it.
Oh, snarky Gina isn't gone, far from it. Though she will be a little more civil. I figured an apology like that would have to happen if they are to be anything but bitter enemies 🙂
Thank you so much, Lila <3
Jowita · August 18, 2018 at 10:38 am
Rich boy, Blue Eyes, oh goodness… Poor Enzo. You can really be made fun of for being rich and I thought the poor were usually laughed at and bullied. But I guess not among rich criminals. By the way, would ya look at that stunning interior of an Italian villa? As if you weren’t rich yourself, Gina, come on. 😛
I agree with Amy about Gina’s clothes. She has a very set fashion style and I love it. Though it kind of reminds me of Vittoria. She also loved knit crop tops!
Look how Carlotta matches the interior and also your previous choice of pink on your blog. I love this new layout, btw, so dark and fits the criminals.
Well, at least Enzo apologized. But he lies all the freaking time. Maybe the reason could get in the way and he worries that if Gina knew, she wouldn’t agree to get it for him. Or maybe it’s a well-kept secret that he can’t let out. Either way, I can’t wait to find out what’s this all about.
I love the last shot. Enzo’s face looks pretty much as if it was sculpted by Michelangelo. Or maybe that’s me going along with the art theme. But really, look at the perfect curve of his mouth. It looks so unreal. And the eyes are dreamy. I have to say I’m weak for black hair/ blue eyes compilation. That’s why I fell for the book character called Will Herondale. There are drawings of him on the net and he’s so beautiful, though not real. Neither is Enzo. R.I.P.
My chapters are usually around the length of yours. Today’s one is 1384 words long. I will likely make changes before it’s published, because whenever my chapters are this short, I get worried about the quality. And I totally stayed up until 2:30 to finish the photos. Oops, I did it again. Tbh, I didn’t notice the eyes. I just thought it was the matter of lighting.
NotJustaBook · August 18, 2018 at 2:20 pm
Oh, there’s definitely some hypocritical junk going on with Gina’s comments on his wealth. She’s quite well off 😛 I mean – Carlo’s suit budget is probably high, hahaha 😀 Though to be fair, the rich people in Enzo’s circles wouldn’t allow Carlo and Gina in. They made their money in a… different way, shall we say? 😛
He’s definitely got his reasons for lying or, well, leaving things out.
He’s got a pretty nice face, I think, though I have to tell ya – it is a nightmare to light up and choose poses for! Feels like 90 % of poses I choose for him makes him look weird :/ It’s like the problems I had with Vittoria’s damn face but worse.
Oh, I understand your concern, though I assure you we’re okay with any chapter length you put out there 🙂 I’m looking forward to reading yours <3
Thanks for reading and commenting, Jowita <3 :)
Jowita · August 18, 2018 at 2:24 pm
Yeah, that might be a different kind of wealth, but we can’t say that she’s poor at all.
Yeah, I know how painful that must be, choosing the right poses.
1646 words if you don’t count my notes. I tweaked it a bit. It isn’t that bad, I think. Half an hour to go! So excited. This is the last chapter of generation 5.
NotJustaBook · August 18, 2018 at 2:26 pm
Nope, we really can’t 😛 She’s doing pretty well for herself. Crime’s pretty profitable xD it’s just in Gina’s mind it’s different.
So. Hard. It’s easy to mess up his face super bad…
Ah, yes, it’s so exciting 😀 I can’t wait to experience all the disaster and misery! >:D
Kymber · August 18, 2018 at 5:52 pm
You go, Carlotta! Woot! I really like that girl.
Carlo is so funny, going back to sleep during all of that. 😛
Gina and Carlotta are hilarious. I love the way you write their banter. It’s sooo good.
NotJustaBook · August 18, 2018 at 5:55 pm
Carlotta and Gina make quite the team 😀 I like Carlotta a lot as well, and I’m glad you do, too <3
Carlo is probably used to it at this point, ha, ha XD Just another way this family is really weird!
Thank you for reading and commenting, Kym <3
socallucyfan · August 18, 2018 at 10:04 pm
Lotta is the BEST. She is like Frank 2.0.
And I have to say that I am proud of the way that Enzo actually fought back this time. As much as I love Gina, he can only be insulted so much before snaps back. But the apology took me by surprise just s much as it did Gina.
NotJustaBook · August 18, 2018 at 10:12 pm
That’s pretty much exactly what she is 😀 Between the two of them, they could rule the world!
Yeah, the poor guy finally had enough and snapped back 😛 A man can only take so much. And he really one-upped her with the apology – that’ll cause some reflection on her part.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting <3
audreyfld · August 18, 2018 at 10:19 pm
Okay…. leaving a comment for the second time since the first one didn’t take…. So. Progress! She got him to,open up a little and there is a big web of deceit going on. I am so glad they finally said some things and addressed their past tenuous realtionship. Now, they might be able to start over….after they get this current mystery solved.
NotJustaBook · August 19, 2018 at 9:37 am
Oh no :/ If it happens again, I hope you’ll tell me so I can see if it’s something I need to talk to support about.
Indeed, it’s at least a very good start to them being much less hostile 🙂 Something had to happen to shake things up!
Thanks for reading and commenting, Audrey <3
sempreviva · August 21, 2018 at 8:21 pm
First of all, I am so sorry for leaving a comment so late! I got back from my vacation yesterday and I started catching up but I was too darn exhausted to carry on! (doesn’t sound very vacation-y but oh well, haha) 😂😭 But I’m back now! 😉
I love reading those arguments! Maybe because I truly hate them irl, but they’re a blast to read – especially between Gina and Blue Eyes a.k.a. Rich Boy lol! I so enjoyed seeing Gina finally calling him off, but then he showed he had some spine (about time) and fought back! At least he apologized at the end, leaving her totally confused, lmao! That will make for some new interesting dynamics!
I wonder what the whole deal with the painting is… something tells me that the fiancé gift story is true, but of course there’s so much more to it. Maybe it’s not the painting itsself that matters so much, but the real one leads to something else of major value? Is it like a clue or a map? Whatever it is, it’s getting super exciting! 😀
Could I also add that I adore Carlotta? She’s a real badass – in pink! 😎 I love her, especially together with Gina <3
I can't wait to see what's next, that was a great chapter as always <3
NotJustaBook · August 21, 2018 at 8:40 pm
Sometimes, after a vacation, you need another vacation – ha, ha 😀 Don’t worry – I know the feeling! You can always take your time.
Oh, arguments are horrible in real life 😛 But oh so fun to write and read, I think 😀 The argument is a pretty big turning point, I’m not afraid to say. I knew he’d have to get her to back off a little somehow 😛
Oh man, all your guesses are really cool… ha, ha, ha I fear it’ll be a lot more boring and mundane when I reveal it all ahahhaha xD
So glad you like Lotta <3 I love the idea of a bad ass blonde in pink who doesn't care what anyone thinks 😀
Thanks so much for reading and commenting <3
sempreviva · August 21, 2018 at 8:49 pm
Knowing your writing, I’m sure whatever comes next will be far from boring and mundane! 😉
I love that idea too! Why should everyone badass always hide behind black anyway? 😛 I’m so curious to see more of her! <3
NotJustaBook · August 21, 2018 at 8:55 pm
I really hope it won’t be :’)
Exactly! 😛 If you’re a complete bad ass, why wouldn’t you wear whatever colour you like? 😉
twinsimskeletons · August 23, 2018 at 7:23 pm
I spy the picture you used in the tytorial! It looks amazing.
Yo badass Carlotta and Gina! Loving that we’re seeing more of Frank too 😀
“correct” Oh, you smooth lady!
““Do you realise it’s bad for business to be fucking dead?”” Loving the wittiness here. This is the reason why I love these sorts of stories!
That was indeed a sweet, sweet, argument. I loved every second of it, it was very satisfying!
NotJustaBook · August 23, 2018 at 8:07 pm
Yes! That’s the one 🙂 I used another in the tutorial that I left out of the chapter.
This chapter was so fun to write because of all the sass going on – it’s nice to have a chapter where Gina and Carlotta are allowed to be total, snarky bad asses 😀 Of course it was also fun because of the argument!
Thank you so much for reading <3
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