Content warning: Visible blood, wounds, and bruises.
Franco arrived a while later and he called in a few other people: a cleaner, a doctor, people to scope out the town for other potential hitmen. When he had set everyone to work, he came up to Carlo.
“How about the body. Discrete disposal, or…?”
“No, make it public, make it a warning. Just strip him of identifiers first.”
“Sure thing.” Franco walked off, but then turned back around to him. “I heard whispers about her. Is she…?”
“She’s nobody’s business. Anyone comes asking for her, they’re dead.”
“Thought so. See you around.”
And then he left. Good old Franco.
Carlo walked up the stairs to Vittoria’s bedroom where the doctor had just finished taking a look at her. She laid on her side on the bed, eyes closed, but he could tell she was listening. All her muscles were tight, and her breathing shallow.
“She’s going to be fine,” the doctor said as soon as she saw him. “Just mind the gunshot wound on her leg.”
He nodded and started taking off his jacket. “This is discrete, of course,” he told the doctor. “I don’t want anyone-”
“I’m always discrete. If you don’t mind, I’ll leave now.”
“By all means.”
He made sure that the doctor had left the house before he kicked off his shoes and sat down across from Vittoria – or Lisa – on the bed. She had moved to sit and she looked fine, apart from the bruises.
“Lisa Giocondo, is it?”
“I prefer to stay Vittoria, if you don’t mind. But yes, that was my birth name.”
Carlo nodded to himself. “So Nespola… the guy Lucia ran off with…”
“My birth father, and he is a violent drunk, if you wondered. He just isn’t the guy who raised me. That would be Alessandro Giocondo, the second violent drunk my mother ran off with after my birth father died.” Vittoria smiled bitterly. “My mother has a type.”
“And he’s the head of the Giocondo family.”
“He was. He died two years ago.”
“And you took over.”
“How did that happen? And how did you learn to kill like that? You’re obviously not an amateur.”
Carlo shifted his weight, thinking of the man who had died in the barn. An amateur would have stabbed blindly, slashed him to ribbons in desperation. Vittoria had done no such thing.
“Alessandro taught me to kill, and used me as a bodyguard. We started doing daddy-daughter bonding time when I was twelve. He never let me leave his side, and if he got so much as a scratch on him, I was in for it. Good times.”
She smiled, though it didn’t reach her eyes.
“Mum got tired of it. She wanted me to stay home and take care of her, so she promised me that if I could just get rid of him, that was it. It would all be over, I’d become the family head, and her and I would live happily ever after.”
“Lucia was the one to take him out?” he asked, surprised.
Vittoria shook her head. “She planned it, which is still surprising. I don’t know how you remember my mother, but she’s always been spaced out, lives in her own little fairy land, as Alessandro used to say. Whenever she decides to come back to the real world, she’s… scary. She made up her mind that he had to die, and he died. All I had to do was slack off for a single day and she had someone take him out.”
If he hadn’t been so focused on her now, he wouldn’t have noticed the little hints that she had feelings: the way her shoulders tensed, her lips pursed, her fingers moved almost unnoticeably. All little signs that she felt something and that this bitter smile that never left her face was just a façade.
“And you became the new family head. Why not Lucia?”
“My mother couldn’t lead a pack of hungry dogs to a steak, let alone a fucking gang. I had to take the mantle, and I actually enjoyed it. It was almost fun.”
“Then why did you leave?”
For a moment there, she looked older than she was.
“It was too much. I miss leading the gang sometimes, but mum…” She took a deep, shaky breath. “I got out of dad’s claws only to fall into mum’s. Instead of protecting him, I had to take care of her. I don’t know what you remember from when she was young, but she hasn’t matured since. Hell, she might have regressed. It got even worse after Alessandro died, and I knew if I had to baby her one more day, I’d end up snapping her neck. It was better to pretend that I was dead and then peace out, so that’s what I did. Faked my death and came here.”
Carlo nodded. “You fled from one gang and hid at the heart of another.”
“I have my moments, but I spoiled it when I got you out of jail. I had just one contact who knew the truth, and I thought for sure he wouldn’t tell…”
“You could have told me,” he said. “I’d have helped you.”
At that, she rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I’d just fled one gang, so what I want to do is entrust my life history to some other gang member. If I’d told you before you got to know me, would you have told your leaders about me? Your accomplices?”
He hesitated. “I don’t…”
“The entire underworld was in turmoil because of me, and if you’d known I was alive… Not to mention, you weren’t exactly welcoming. Practically kicked me out.”
Carlo got off the bed.
“I was trying to protect you.”
“You didn’t know me.”
“I didn’t have a chance! If I’d known you were in danger, I never would’ve sent you away.”
She stood up, too.
“Bullshit,” she snarled, throwing her hair. “You might have helped me out, but what was it you said? You want to ‘use me up and throw me away.’ That is what you said, right?”
“I had to say that!”
“Oh, you had to.”
“Yes! I had to make you leave. I wanted you to have a life away from this hell. I didn’t realise that you were already entangled in it. Look, throwing you out was bad, and a mistake, but I really thought it was for the best.”
“Because it’s always for the best to be left completely fucking alone. As usual.”
Carlo reached out and pulled her to him, meeting little resistance. He brushed a lock of hair behind her ear and cupped her cheek.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have left you when you needed me.”
“I don’t need anyone.”
Nonetheless, she didn’t resist him wrapping his arms around her.
“I know you don’t, darling,” he whispered, stroking her hair.
He got lost in the moment, the mechanic stroking motion, the warmth from her body against his. The moment only faded when she spoke again:
“That time, when I slapped you…”
“Don’t worry about it.”
There was a smile in her voice. “It’s not that. I just wonder… do you still want me?”
He tipped her face up.
“You want to talk about that now?”
One of her hands snaked around his waist, and he struggled for a moment to keep a clear head.
He almost said: Yes, you. Instead, he elected to take her hands and hold them in his while the fire in his body subsided.
“I just need to know something, and you have to be honest.” She cocked her head.
“The glasses… are they a disguise?”
Vittoria laughed. “What?”
Carlo repeated the question, and she laughed harder.
“I can’t see a damn thing without them, so I’m going to need new ones. Why, you don’t like them?”
“Oh, no, I like them,” he whispered, and he ran his fingertips down her side. “I’ll get you a new pair.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
She moved her body up against his and let sneaky fingers trail his spine. His body came to life with her touch, but he stood firm and lifted her chin with a finger. She shivered as he moved nearer, close enough that there was only a breath of air between them. He whispered against her lips:
“There’s work to do, darling.”
Hi guyyyyyyyssss! As promised, a bit of a longer chapter this week. Hope you enjoy Vittoria’s Messed Up Childhood™. Always a lot of fun. This chapter was SO HARD to write. I almost never get Vittoria right the first time I write her – she tends to be a lot weepier in the first draft and then I realise that I’ve written her all wrong. Writing emotional scenes with her is hard because there’s only so many ways you can say ‘She didn’t show any emotions’. She’s also not one to linger on bad stuff happening – perhaps another character might’ve had nightmares about killing a guy, but not her… She’s scary like that.
Anyway, I have to tell you that sadly there won’t be a chapter of this story next Saturday (if all goes according to plan). I will, however, start posting my OTHER story on that day, and then I’m going to post them alternating Saturdays. I know it’s annoying for you guys to have to wait so long for one story if you realise you don’t like the other, but if I am to have any chance to keep updates regular, I just have to do it that way. Most of my other story is finished, and I’m snapping pictures at the moment for that one. I was actually going to start posting it today, but as usual, uni is kicking my ass, and I didn’t have the time.
I hope this won’t be too bad for you guys. I’m super excited to post my other story (the mythical witchy love story that I talked of a while back), and I hope you guys’ll like it. See you then, duuudes! 🙂