Gina loosened the soil around the dandelion and tried to wiggle it free. The damned thing had a long, thick root that was enmeshed with that of the tomato plant. When she got deep in there and tore at it, she could feel the tomato plant move as well. She let out a few muted curses and gave the weed another good wiggle. It nearly sent the tomato plant toppling. She yanked hard on the root, and it broke, leaving a good ten centimetres lodged in the soil. It would be back, she thought as she tossed it aside. They always came back.
She covered the plant and made sure it still stood stably. The fruits were as good as ripe, though her dad had asked that she leave them for a few days. He wanted to bring a few to her mum’s cabin when he left, as he did more and more often lately. He had told her she didn’t need to tend to them at all, but after the events of last night, she wanted to work with her hands.
She turned to the next lucky plant and started tearing at the weeds. Another menacing dandelion was about to fall to her hands when she heard a knock on the greenhouse glass.
Then the last voice she wanted to hear:
“You don’t look like you’ve been arrested.”
She turned slowly and met Enzo’s eyes. “Fuck off.”
He held up his hands, as if in surrender, and said:
“I’m not going to try and get you arrested again, if that’s what you think. Apparently that’s impossible around here. I want to talk to you about that so-called forgery.”
Gina stood up and walked over to him. Despite her being nearly a head smaller than him, he flinched a little when she came close.
“That’s funny, because I don’t want to talk to you at all. Fuck. Off. Or I’m going to shoot you.”
“How are you so sure the painting is forged?” he pressed on.
“I’m going to get my gun,” Gina said. “I suggest you go away now.”
“Trust me, I’d love to leave, but I need to know if that painting is fake.”
“It is,” she said.
“If that’s true, I need the real painting, fast.”
“Don’t we all.”
She walked past him, making sure to elbow him in the side so that he ended up groaning in pain. Perhaps she really would shoot him. Her dad generally said not to shoot people without a good cause… so that must mean this time it was perfectly okay. She fully tended to at least get it to scare him off, but then his next words stopped her.
“I want to hire you to find the real painting.”
Gina turned on her heel and regarded him. He looked utterly serious, but he had to be joking.
“Someone else already hired me to get the real painting,” she said, “so why don’t you go home and wait it out? Once my client has it back, you can have it stolen from them.”
“You’re… telling me to steal from your client?”
Gina rolled her eyes. “Oh, sorry, I shouldn’t be telling you how to do your job. You’ve done the rich asshole shtick all your life, so you know how it works.”
Enzo groaned. “I don’t have time for all this. I need that painting and I need it soon.”
“And you think I should care, because…?”
He ran a hand down over his face.
“You shouldn’t, I get that,” he said. “But I really, really have to have it. If I don’t…”
She noticed now that he was shaking—he tried to disguise it with a casual shrug and a lifted eyebrow, though it was no good. The look in his eyes was one of deep desperation that gave her a measure of satisfaction. Yet at the same time…
“Someone have a gun to your head?” she asked.
Enzo sighed. “Not exactly. But I’m willing to pay you. I don’t even need to keep the painting. Just let me have it for a week or two and then you can give it to your other client. I’ll pay double what they’re paying.”
Gina tried not to look shocked, but her mouth dropped open without her having much of a choice in the matter.
“Do you know how much we charge for a job like that? How fucking desperate are you?”
“Very. I need the painting within a month, and if I thought I had any other choice, I’d ask someone else.”
“This better not be a joke, because if we don’t get paid…”
He assured her that it wasn’t a joke and he would even pay in advance if needed. So long as he got the painting. It was literally the best deal anyone had ever given her. She would be insane to say no. The gang would rebel if they learnt she’d passed up that amount of money because of a teenage fling gone wrong. Her reputation would take a hit. He had thought about it long and hard, she realised, looking into his eyes. Besides the panic, there was a little bit of triumph there.
Fuck you, Cavalcante. Fuck you so, so hard.
“You’d better come talk to my dad,” she said with gritted teeth.
His eyes widened in alarm. “I don’t think that’s necessary…”
“Yes it is, he’s still the boss. Follow me, dumbass.”
She waved for him to come with her, and he hesitated before going.
Her dad was inside, paint brush in hand. It was a familiar sight, him in front of the easel, adding colourful shapes to the canvas. On any other day she might have felt nostalgic, felt a twang of pain at knowing he would retire. Today, though, she tossed her hat and gardening gloves before marching up to him with a pout.
When Carlo noticed her coming, he put the paints and brush down, wiped his hands on a rag, and turned to her with a smile that crinkled the skin at his eyes.
“Hi, sweetheart. You look like you want to shoot someone,” he told her, and then his eyes fell on Enzo. “Now, who…?”
Gina smiled sardonically. “You told me not to shoot clients, so I’m afraid I can’t. This is Vincente Edoardo Luigi Cavalcante VII. He wants to hire us.”
Enzo winced next to her.
“Please, just Enzo…” he said, though his words got drowned by Carlo’s laughter.
“I seem to remember that name,” he said.
Gina snorted. “It’s hard to forget.”
Carlo stepped forward and shook Enzo’s hand firmly, once again amazing his daughter. He had a true gift for making the scum of the earth feel like he liked them.
“What can we do for you?”
Gina explained what he had told her—the painting he wanted, the deadline, the absurd amount of money he would pay for their services. Even her dad couldn’t keep the surprise entirely off his face. He knew well they couldn’t turn him down.
“Since we’re already looking for the painting, it wouldn’t hurt,” her dad said. “You’re the expert, so it would be your job. Are you okay with it?”
There was clear concern in his voice. It was less a concern for her mental well-being this time, and more for their client’s physical health.
“I’m already looking for it, so why not.”
“In that case, Mr. Cavalcante, we’ll take you on as a client. You give all the details to Regina, and she’ll find what you need. We’ll discuss payment soon.”
Enzo nodded and said goodbye, then Gina took him outside again.
Each step she took, she repeated like a mantra to herself: I’m a professional and he’s a client. I’m a professional and he’s a client…
They turned to face each other on the edge of the property.
“I want to talk to your appraiser,” she told him without any preamble. “I’ll swing by your place tomorrow with a colleague and he needs to be there. I’d prefer it if you weren’t.”
“I’ve already had it appraised.”
“Yes, but since you’re a giant idiot, I assume your appraiser is a fraud. Sometimes they work with forgers. If he does, we probably know him.”
Enzo hesitated for a while, but agreed. He added: “I want to be there myself.”
“Great,” she said with a silent reminder to not shoot clients. “Just… great. See you, then.”
She turned to walk back to the house, but he interrupted her:
“Thank you, Regina.”
Gina glanced over her shoulder. He looked too pleased with himself for her taste.
“Don’t thank me,” she said back. “You know very well that I have no choice.”
“All the same,” he said with a casual shrug. “I’m grateful.”
She scoffed and walked back in.
I’m a professional and he’s a client. I’m a professional…
Enzo still shook when he got back to the holiday home. The heat was unbearable, and he felt like Regina Mancini’s dark, angry eyes followed him all the way. He was relieved to be able to walk into the airconditioned living room, until he saw Lorenzo and Rosalia. His sister was supposed to be home, taking care of the engagement party, and yet there she was.
“Really?” Enzo said, directed towards Lorenzo. “Why don’t you tell on me to my dad while you’re at it?”
“She has a right to know,” Lorenzo said, and Enzo saw him squeeze his sister’s arm.
“Well, I… I was going to tell,” he lied.
Rosalia hadn’t said a word until now and she didn’t look at Enzo. She looked immaculate. Her dark hair was smooth, shiny, and neatly styled. When she lifted her head to look at him, her face was as flawless. She wasn’t crying, though he felt sure she would have had dark circles under her eyes if the make-up hadn’t covered them.
“Is it true?” she asked.
“You’re supposed to be taking care of the engagement party,” he told her, ignoring the question.
“Lorenzo called me. He said that the painting is a forgery and now you’re seeing the criminal girl again.”
He glared at his friend. Lorenzo had always stopped short of telling his dad what he was doing, but he and Lia were thick as thieves. They had always had it as their sworn mission to keep him out of trouble, no matter what.
“That’s wildly exaggerated,” he told his sister.
Rosalia removed Lorenzo’s arm from around her shoulder and asked him to leave them alone. Lorenzo hesitated, but she pressed an insisting kiss to his cheek and he had to relent. Enzo stopped himself from commenting on their blatant displays of affection. His sister turned to face him.
“So, it’s not a forgery?”
He sighed. “Actually, that part’s not exaggerated. Apparently it is.”
“And you haven’t seen the criminal?”
His mouth opened, then shut, and after a pause he said: “Okay, maybe there’s some truth to it, but—”
“Vinny, this is insane,” she said.
“Look who’s talking. The second Lorenzo calls, you’re here. What did your fiancé say when you went to see your childhood boyfriend?”
“I’m not engaged yet,” she snapped back.
“No but you’re going to be soon, and if anyone sees you with Lorenzo—”
“They’re going to think I’m seeing a good friend. What happens if someone sees you with a notorious criminal?”
“Nobody will…” Enzo took a deep breath, fighting the rising anger. “I’m not sleeping with Regina, if that’s what you think. I went there on business, to hire her gang to find the real painting. If there’s any gang who can find the real painting, it’s the Good Guys.”
His sister still didn’t look convinced.
“Look, I’ll get this sorted,” he assured her. “The deal I gave her is too good to pass up. They can’t refuse to help, and they can’t refuse to do their best. I’ve got this.”
He held out his arms to her, but she took a step back and shook her head.
“How do you know this won’t go completely wrong?”
“I’m your big brother and it’s my job. That’s how.”
It was a hard sell, he knew, and it didn’t help that he was trying to convince himself as much as her. His sister’s big, blue eyes betrayed nothing. Lia was tall and proud and always the voice of reason despite her youth. It was only him—and maybe Lorenzo—who could tell when something was wrong. Only in the little tremble of her hands, in the draw of her mouth, could you see that things weren’t as they should be.
“I don’t know,” she said, voice thick. “I’m… I don’t think I can handle this alone. That’s why I came as soon as Lorenzo called, because I need him so badly right now. I need you both. I don’t want to be alone with this.”
Enzo walked close and pulled his sister into his arms.
“You’re not,” he said, pressing her close.
He stroked her back and she sounded less angry when she spoke again, even if her muscles were still tense.
“I just don’t see why you believe that it’s forged,” Rosalia said, looking up at him with sad eyes. “Lorenzo is sure she’s lying, so why aren’t you?”
“We can’t take the risk, Lia.”
His sister nodded and rested her head back against him.
“Please don’t leave me alone with this, Vinny.”
“I won’t. I promise.”
Author’s notes: I nearly forgot to add my author’s note! What a tragedy (or not).
Anywayyy, I don’t think there’s much to say about this one. Should speak for itself. What I do want to talk about is all the damn stories I’m writing. A while back I promised a side story about Giuliano and Flora within a month or two, but now I have to say it’s probably not going to happen. The past few days I’ve been juggling four stories at once, and it’s a nightmare. I’m doing a lot more image editing lately (so much for me ‘only editing a little bit’), and I’m slowly, slowly, much too slowly, starting the sequel to Champion of Moonlight. I can’t be writing the side story and casually editing the first generation as well as writing this and the Ink Charts. The stressful state I put myself into literally kept me awake last night. For now, I want to focus my energy here and on the Ink Charts. Sorry about that.
Well, this was a mercifully short author’s note, so I’ll leave you guys for now. Thank you for reading if you made it this far and have an amazing day,
Lila Remonn · August 4, 2018 at 10:06 am
I loved all the tiny jabs Regina made at Enzo during his entire visit, and the literal one haha. He’s got nerve to come strolling onto the property like that! He’s lucky that Gina didn’t blast his socks off, and that Carlo didn’t either.
I went through the chapter a second time just to stare at the pictures! Shadow/texture crispness is just so darn satisfying 😀
Rosalia is absolutely gorgeous. But Lorenzo isn’t her fiance?! What an unfortunate twist! They seem to still have feelings for each other *side eyes* I wonder what’s up with that entire situation because Lia doesn’t sound happy about getting engaged. Considering she hasn’t technically gotten engaged yet, I’m guessing this is something like an arranged marriage. Rich people ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I’m also wondering why the painting is so important… promised wedding gift? And about Enzo saying he only needs it for a few weeks, I’m also guessing that means Gina can just steal from the person receiving the painting so he won’t get any blame.
Awesome chapter <3
NotJustaBook · August 4, 2018 at 2:39 pm
Yeah, there’s no way it could have ended otherwise. What did he expect?! Indeed, he’s lucky that they’re especially ethical criminals and that Carlo is a very polite man (Gina… isn’t polite).
Aaaw, I’m so glad you like them <3 I actually took all pictures for this twice to get them to look nice. Before taking this version of them, I upped the resolution on shadows and I love it! 😀
Ha, ha, yes, rich people be crazy! Nope, Lia isn't engaged to Lorenzo - who she is going to marry will be revealed in the future. Though those two are definitely close...
Oh, I can't wait to reveal all the stuff about the painting 🙂 It's going to be good (maybe)! 🙂
Thank you for reading and commenting. You're too nice <3
Jowita · August 4, 2018 at 10:57 am
Oh wow… Your pictures are so colorful and beautiful. And I love seeing Gina in her garden attire with the hat and all. Funny for once seeing her doing something casual and not the robberies. She looked like an innocent country girl (don’t shoot me for this, Gina). And ah, the endless green fields of Monte Vista only add up to the beautiful atmosphere. So dreamy.
“Fuck you, Cavalcante. Fuck you so, so hard.” Hah, I loved when she thought that. But really, I can’t help but wonder what makes him so determined to get the painting. Really interesting.
“Her dad generally said not to shoot people without a good cause… so that must mean this time it was perfectly okay.” OMG, don’t do that, Gina, we all need you to be together as soon as Enzo stops being a huge asshole and general pain in the butt rich guy. And I’ve been told Waylon tends to be selfish and annoying, but there’s just no comparison, really. Ugh.
Carlo looked sweet in his pink shirt. Again, your use of colors is so satisfying and pleasant to look at. I agree with Lila that your pictures are a joy.
Hm, I wonder how many times Enzo recited all her names for her to memorize. I get that she loved him and all, but that’s a hell of a mess of names to go by.
Oh, I didn’t know Enzo had a sister. She’s gorgeous and I love that burgundy lipstick on her.
Honestly, Lia doesn’t know anything about Gina. I’d too believe her judgment if I was in their place.
Great chapter, Louise! ♥
NotJustaBook · August 4, 2018 at 2:49 pm
Thank you Jowita 😀 I took pictures for this chapter twice because I wasn’t satisfied the first time around :’) (that just adds to all the stuff I need to do). Gina can be so cute when she wants to be, ha, ha 😀 She would have to wear the hat – Carlo would nag her if she didn’t protect herself from the sun! 😛
I’m pretty excited to unfold everything about the painting 🙂
Ha, ha, see I don’t think she’d be mad at being called an innocent country girl, but implying that she should get together with Enzo at some point… now, that’s dangerous 😛 (Though of course that’s my goal here – haha!) He is a major pain right now, for sure! 😛
I think she, at first, learnt his name because she was infatuated and thought he was cute and funny. Then she decided to drag out the whole name to embarrass him – she knows he hates it, ha, ha 😛
Indeed, he does! And yeah – I think if I were her, I’d be a bit sceptical as well. She has her reasons for worrying as well 🙂
Thank you for reading and commenting, Jowita <3 It's always a pleasure :)
Jowita · August 4, 2018 at 11:13 am
By the time way, I totally get you on many projects. I literally screenshoted a YouTube video and I’m making poses out of it which eats up most of my time. I have free time all the time basically and I barely find some to prepare my chapters. Then I’m told I’m a freak who spends all her time in front of a computer playing stupid Sims, lol.
NotJustaBook · August 4, 2018 at 2:52 pm
Ouch, that does sound pretty intense! :O I’m having way too much fun editing photos lately. The ones I’ve taken for the sequel to CoM are really heavily edited and it’s so much fun, but time consuming… Oh, the time one can spend on a hobby 😛
Tsk, tsk, you’re not a freak. You do awesome stuff, and that is good 🙂
audreyfld · August 4, 2018 at 2:35 pm
I hear you about all things you want to do! I would love, love to do more poses, but I can’t! I can barely do the ones I feel like I need for my story! I wish there were more hours in the day. My husband thinks I’m insane spending so much time “simming”. I’m glad you found on a balance (and selfishly that this story was part of it) 😊.
I love the way this is going. I agree with Jowita that it feels like Lorenzo and Rosalia seem to care about each other and the marriage is more or less arranged. Hmmm???
Gina is so cute. Those two need to do what she thought and at some point I hope they do…. I’m a perv. Sorry. But really a sucker for a good romance so with all the tension between them when they do, it probably will be hard! Lol… now l’ve embarrassed myself… 😳
NotJustaBook · August 4, 2018 at 2:56 pm
Yeah! There are so many stories I’d like to write, but the legacy always comes first 🙂 It’s a bit of a pain sometimes, since I’d also like to do new stuff. It’s worth it, though 🙂
I’m glad you like the direction it’s taking. Lorenzo and Rosalia are definitely very fond of each other. Rich people are crazy, dontcha know 😉
Ahahah 😀 Don’t worry – I, too, am a perv (though I hide it well… maybe). And I’m a sucker for romance as well, so I can definitely promise there’ll be lost of that 😉
Thank you for reading and commenting, and for your kinds words <3
Kymber · August 4, 2018 at 4:31 pm
Regina is priceless. haha I can’t tell you how great and satisfying it was to see her interaction with Enzo. I was rolling. I love how this story is going. Oh, and Gina was so cute with her hat and gardening gloves. Every aspect of your story is gorgeous as usual. <3
NotJustaBook · August 4, 2018 at 5:38 pm
Heeh, I love writing Gina, that much is for sure 😀 I’m glad she’s fun to read about as well 😀
Thank you so much for reading and commenting, as well as the kind words <3 :)
socallucyfan · August 4, 2018 at 10:55 pm
Regina is becoming my new hero. I wish I could be as confident and as smart as she is. She has a comeback for everything, and is quick with the little jabs at Enzo. I really do wish I could be more like that.
So Lorenzo & Rosalia are not engaged to each other. Very interesting… 😉
And I can totally relate to how you feel. I too have about a million side projects in my mind (including Autumn going to college, Ryan as a child, even one for June). And I don’t have the time or patience to sit and make poses, like you and Jowita. I wish there were more hours in the day. We don’t need to sleep, right? All we need in The Sims and a case of Red Bull. LOL
NotJustaBook · August 5, 2018 at 7:12 am
I would love to be as confident and cool as her myself. I’m glad you like her 😀
Nope, but they are very close – that much is for sure 😉
Ah yes, There are just wayyyy too many projects to do. I’m much too lazy to do poses myself most of the time, because I’d rather be doing other things. It’s bothersome that we don’t have a few more hours each day 😛
socallucyfan · August 5, 2018 at 8:40 am
So many projects, so little time.
NotJustaBook · August 5, 2018 at 10:26 am
sempreviva · August 5, 2018 at 7:27 pm
Oooh, I absolutely loved that chapter! I was silently cheering throughout all of Gina’s harsh comments – you tell him girl! 😁
I loved all your screenshots, but my favorite were those of Gina gardening – so cute! <3 Oooh, and Carlo of course 😍
Man, that whole painting deal has got me all excited! Why is it so important for them to have the real one? And why for such a short amount of time?
Rosalia is stunningly gorgeous! 😍 Like everyone said, I initially thought that she was getting engaged to Lorenzo but then, plot twist! And I also believe it's an arranged marriage – boy, their father must be a nightmare for everyone! It won't surprise me to find out she and Lorenzo still have feelings for each other!
I can't wait for what's about to happen! Awesome chapter! <3
NotJustaBook · August 5, 2018 at 7:41 pm
Gina finally got her time to shine, ha, ha 😛
I loved taking those shots as well <3 I'm glad you liked them 😀
The painting is quite the mystery - I'm really excited for everyone to find out 🙂
He, he, I didn't even plan for it to be a twist! But then when everyone thought Lorenzo and she must be engaged, it turned into one. But yeah, she's got another fiancé - another thing I'm excited to explore 🙂
I'm so glad you're excited, and I'm super glad that you read and commented. Thank you for your kind words <3
amyqueen · August 7, 2018 at 7:32 am
Finally back here to properly comment :3 First off, it’s amusing to see Gina do something as trivial as gardening, she looked so adorable in that large hat and her body is smoking hot :3 Like the others have said, these photos were amazing! I had to take some extra time to get through the chapter because I paused to admire the details of Gina’s teal top in every shot lol. I was wondering how the arrangement would work out if Enzo and her current client both need the painting, but he proposed an interesting alternative so everyone is happy… the only question is, why is it significant he have the painting for a brief period of time only? I guess I’ll just have to wait and find out… Enzo seemed pretty shaken up while he was talking to Gina, and while I enjoyed watching her give him a hard time – because he deserves it – I’m kinda concerned for him. That makes me think there’ll be some serious repercussions if things don’t work out… I don’t want to say life or death per say, but definitely more than some bump to his family’s image… Carlo took to meeting Enzo surprisingly well considering the bond he has with Gina, I’d have thought he’d put on a subtle mean face or give an extra firm handshake to the boy that caused her some heartbreak, but he’s just as professional as ever.
“Enzo stopped himself from commenting on their blatant displays of affection.” <- um, same here buddy. It's clear those two still have got a little something going on between them, which makes me wonder if Lia, like Enzo, has her personal life dictated by her family and the expectations of the lifestyle they lead which the ending there would suggest. This was a lovely chapter~ As for your ending note, as a friend I'd say don't stress yourself out and work at a pace that makes you comfortable… but as a fan, I want to say that I'm super excited that your working on the CoM sequel and can't wait to see it out… but for now, I'll still to my initial advice which is to do whatever is best for you XD <3
NotJustaBook · August 7, 2018 at 8:22 pm
He, he, yeah, besides being a criminal, Gina is a pretty regular young woman. Takes after her dad with the gardening 😀 So glad you liked the pictures <3 I'm happy I retook them.
He is pretty concerned about getting that painting, yes, though for what reason will eventually be revealed 🙂
Carlo is a lot more calm and polite than Gina 😛 she doesn't get the terrible temper from *him*, that's for sure!
Those two are pretty close, yes. Their relationship will be laid out in the future as well - dang, there's so much about this story I'm suuuper excited about 😀 I can't wait!
The CoM sequel is definitely happening. It's just so dang hard to do. I suck at sequels - much better at just starting something new. *sigh* 😛 But hey, eventually, I'll make it work!!
Thank you for reading and commenting <3
twinsimskeletons · August 8, 2018 at 10:55 am
Oh man, your chapters have never failed to impress me, but this generation you have stepped up your game even higher! I’m in awe of your beautiful pictures and sims, and loving the story. I was thinking as I read it that I really enjoy having the two motives clashing together, it’s such a good and interesting way to bring Enzo and Regina back together. And Carlo is such a good looking silver fox. I hate how sims age in game but he looks like he’s actually aged properly and is not just the scrawny hunchbacks that EA gives us…
NotJustaBook · August 8, 2018 at 4:55 pm
Thank you sooo much <3 You're too kind. I have a lot of fun making my pictures as nice as they can be lately, so I'm so glad it's paying off 🙂
That makes me so happy, too! You don't know what a headache it was to come up with a reason for them to meet again and to actually stick. There were so many scenarios where I could see Gina just nopeing out of there!
Yeah, I haven't been able to bring myself to age him into elder. I've just given him wrinkles and grey hair :') He's supposed to be in his sixties and the way elders look in this game, they look more like... seventy, maybe even eighty? Not great.
Thank you so much for reading and commenting <3
twinsimskeletons · August 9, 2018 at 9:47 pm
Ugh yeah! I’ve recently had that problem with a character I aged up. I wish I had read your chapter first because I think this is a far better way to show someone at sixty!
NotJustaBook · August 9, 2018 at 10:32 pm
I think so, too 🙂
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