"And you tell me I'm just like my father
My one button, you push it
Now it's, 'Fuck you, I hate you, I'll move out in a heartbeat!'
Then I leave out and you call me, you tell me that you sorry
You love me and I love you
And your heart hurts, mine does too"
- Look What You've Done, Drake
The first time Vienna had met her ex-boyfriend Royce was in August, in the muggy Italian heat, before her last semester of college in August. When Vienna closed her eyes, she could almost feel the hot Florence sun on her face, and the grip of Royce's hand as he dragged her through the cobblestone streets and winded through the narrow avenues.
Vienna had been doing a study-abroad program in Italy and they fell hard and fast for each other in the entire month that she was there. At once point, she had even extended her stay in Italy so that she could spend an extra week with her paternal grandparents, and Royce was at their small villa nearly every day. By the time Vienna had to go back to school her grandmother was affectionately calling him nipote, or grandson.
Royce was American-born but had recently moved to Italy after graduation because his parents had returned to their home country. When he met Vienna, he had taken it upon himself to act as her tour-guide, and together they roamed the streets of Italy. They had even rented a car from Florence to Vienna, Austria just because Royce had wanted Vienna to see the place her parents fell in love at (and thus the reason they named her after the beautiful city).
Everything about him represented her reason for wanting to stay in Italy: he was a breath of fresh air. And so utterly normal. He had captivated her in a way that not many had before. They were both upset about her departure back to school, but to Vienna's pleasant surprise, they had kept in touch for the entire semester.
Once Vienna graduated from college and moved in with her grandparents, she and Royce picked up right where they left off. Almost as if nothing had changed from their time in August.
Except they broke up about two weeks before she flew back home to Chicago.
Gino had called Vienna, warning her about her father's deteriorating health, but Vienna was practically dragging her feet. She had not wanted to book a flight back to Chicago. She wanted to stay in Italy with her grandparents and Royce. She wanted to get away from her father. She wanted to start a new life, a normal life, away from the Family.
When Gino caught wind of her relationship with Royce, he accused her of shirking her responsibilities. Suddenly, her relationship with Royce seemed juvenile; like she was only prolonging the inevitable of going back to the mob.
So they broke up. And they had not talked since.
Until he sent her the postcard.
Vienna smoothed a hand over her plain gray sweater dress, and touched up her curled black hair. It was an unusually warm spring day for February in Chicago and the entire Family had decided to celebrate the superbowl together. Gino's parents were hosting the get together in their spacious townhouse while Gino and Vienna moved to help them.
"Gino if I catch you eating one more bite of that dip, I will personally chop a finger off," Gino's mother threatened from the kitchen, pointing her knife at him before continuing to chop various vegetables for the fresh carbonara that she was preparing.
Vienna laughed while she looked at her older cousin who froze guiltily, one hand holding a loaded chip inches away from his mouth.
"She's on a rampage today, I swear," Gino muttered to Vienna poutily, before he closed the lid to the dip.
"It's because your mouth is a vacuum. No wonder you put on weight since the last time I saw you," Vienna retorted teasingly, before placing napkins and utensils on the kitchen island for the guests.
Before Gino could reply with a sarcastic remark, Christian Cautadella entered the kitchen with Nolan D'Amico following close behind holding a bowl of fruit salad.
"Damn, are we gonna have a DeLaurentis duel before the night is over?" Christian snickered while Nolan thrust the bowl at Gino. "Because if that's true, my money is on Vienna."
Gino rolled his eyes before taking the bowl to the fridge. "Mom, everyone's bullying me today!"
Vienna laughed at Gino before Christian moved to envelope her in a bear hug.
"Vi, baby, did you miss me?"
Vienna laughed, before separating herself from the tall, twenty-six year old. "In your dreams, Cautadella."
"Hey Vienna," Nolan greeted, while swooping in to squeeze her in a quick hug.
Christian peered at her pointedly when she pulled away from Nolan. "No seriously though, where've you been? I haven't seen you in ages."
Vienna took a deep breath in; she could already tell that it was going to be an extremely long night since she would be fielding questions from everyone.
Before she could provide a sufficient answer to Christian, she heard someone else bellow from the corner of the kitchen entrance.
"Oh! There's my baby girl."
Vienna felt her heart drop into her stomach when she turned around to face her father.
Vito DeLaurentis was a tall, imposing figure with broad shoulders and a protruding belly to match. His thick beard was trimmed neatly, and his hair was combed perfectly with the help of his pomade. Besides the extra white hairs and deep bags under his eyes, Vienna could not detect any change in his experience from the last time she saw him nine months ago.
"Hey daddy," Vienna greeted before being pulled into a big hug. He smelled like an earthy mixture of cigar smoke and some old cologne. Her father, despite his age and physical ailments, squeezed her so tightly that it made guilt crawl its way up her throat. This was why she did not want to come back.
"Vienna! Oh, we missed you so much," Vienna's mother greeted from just behind her father. Her faint Austrian accent always seemed more pronounced when she was emotional. She quickly put down the plate of bruschetta that she was holding to pull her daughter into an equally tight embrace.
"Hey, missed you too," Vienna replied meekly, rubbing her mother's back warmly. Her mother was a couple of inches shorter than her, and she had to stoop ever so slightly to put her arms around her properly. Her thin, brown hair was pulled back by an ornate butterfly clip, and she smelled like rose water and lavender lotion.
"Tony didn't want to come but he's moping around in the living room, so if you see him, go talk to him," Vienna's father addressed gruffly once Vienna pulled away from her mother.
Vienna was startled by his sudden, abrupt tone towards her little brother, Tony. "Oh, okay—"
"I need to talk to Cosimo right now, but you and I will talk later tonight."
Before Vienna could even complete her sentence, her father was greeted warmly by her uncle, Gino's father, Cosimo DeLaurentis who whisked him away to talk about business. As usual.
The familiar indignation with her father bubbled in her chest at his dismissive behavior. Her mouth could only gape open at how quickly his attitude shifted from warm parental figure to the authoritarian Don that she had learned to put up with for the past twenty-three years of her life.
Picking up the annoyance that was probably radiating off of her, Vienna's mother patted her arm compassionately, trying to pacify her. "He does not mean anything by it. He's just more stressed out than usual."
Vienna could only let out the breath that she was holding in, trying her best to relax her tense shoulders. Why had she let herself think that things might be different now?
"Yeah, I know."
She turned to face her mother properly, taking in her appearance. Despite it being a casual superbowl watching party, her mother wore her pearl necklace and an elegant cashmere sweater under her embroidered, woolen shawl. She was the embodiment of a well-groomed mob wife.
"He's so excited that you're back you know," Vienna's mother pressed, looking at her daughter emphatically.
Vienna tried to smile but it came out more like a grimace. "I don't plan on staying here long-term Mom."
Her mother tilted her head back, her lips downturned in a mixture of disgust and disappointment. "I don't understand why you still insist on being so difficult."
Vienna immediately bristled at the condescending tone that her mother threw at her. The way her parents talked to her sometimes was as if they were talking to a petulant child.
Vienna struggled to keep her tone calm and even when she replied, "I'm not being difficult. This is my life now. If I don't want to come back here then that's that. There's nothing here for me—"
"Nothing here for you—? Vienna, everyone you love is here. Everyone who loves you is here in this house. How could you say—?"
"Mia zia! Vienna! How're you both?"
Vienna and her mother both turned to the cheerful, lively voice that greeted them. Vienna immediately relaxed when she recognized the familiar face.
"Georgie," Vienna said, grateful for the interruption from her closest and oldest friend.
Giorgina D'Amico was Nolan D'Amico's younger sister. Besides their two year age difference, the siblings looked nearly identical with their tall stature, dirty blonde hair, and bright blue eyes.
"Hello Giorgina," Vienna's mother greeted with a tight-lipped smile. It went against her custom to scold her daughter in front of others so she merely shot Vienna a pointed look.
"Well, I'll leave you girls to catch up. Vienna, we will table this discussion for now."
Vienna watched as her mother strode away, the tassels of her shawl dancing lightly with her prim gait.
"Jeez, you've been here for two days and you're already causing trouble?" Georgie teased, handing Vienna a glass of red wine once Mrs. DeLaurentis was out of earshot.
Vienna scowled at her. "She started it! I'm sure you must have heard what she was saying. She wasn't exactly trying to keep her voice down."
Georgie shot her a sympathetic smile, and looped her arm carefully with Vienna's, leading her towards the back porch of the house. "Well I can't say anything against your mother cause I'd definitely love having my best friend back in town. It's not the same when we're video chatting across the Atlantic."
Vienna looked at her glass of wine thoughtfully, swirling the contents pensively. "Yeah that time difference was a bitch. But sometimes I think it's better. Especially after conversations like that."
Georgie let out a sigh and stopped Vienna, pinning her with a sharp look. "Don't let them get to you, Vi. Besides, you should be more afraid of me. I can't believe you left me with these knuckleheads. I could kill you, honestly."
Vienna couldn't help the smile that formed on her lips while Georgie gestured to the backyard where Christian, Nolan, and her cousin Gino played a version of football that involved copious bottles of beer and tackling each other at unnecessary instances during the game.
She and Georgie could only watch in horrified awe as Christian aimed a throw at Nolan's backside, resulting in a wet splotch of mud at the back of his denim jeans.
They both turned away giggling when Nolan started yelling at Christian.
"You're right, I'm so sorry. What can I do to make it up to you?" Vienna laughed, her earlier frustrations melting away.
Georgie raised her glass to Vienna, "Promise to keep up with me tonight."
Vienna raised her own glass in solidarity. That was definitely something she could do after the irritating conversation with her parents. "Cheers, Georgie."
Georgie smiled at her motion before motioning her head towards the house conspiratorially. "C'mon, I know where the twins hide their own stash of wine."
"How the hell do they even have wine? They're only nineteen. Won't they notice?"
"Nah they're too busy drooling over my brother and Christian. Trust me, they're very occupied right now."
Sure enough, when Vienna followed the line of Georgie's gaze, she saw Francesca and Beatrice staring unabashedly at their older brother's best friends a little further down the porch. Vienna rolled her eyes and giggled while Georgie mimed gagging into her glass.
Somehow they made their way into the house and weaved through the growing crowd of Family members that congregated in the kitchen, the living room, and the halls of the townhouse. They managed to snag a pair of wine glasses from the kitchen much to the chagrin of Cosimo DeLaurentis, who looked at the pair knowingly.
Vienna narrowed her eyes at her uncle, and pressed one finger to her lips, trying to stop the laughter that threatened to spill from her lips, while she looked at her uncle in artificial seriousness. Georgie tugged at her arm, failing to hide her laughter, so her uncle just rolled his eyes at their antics, but, nonetheless, mimed locking his lips and throwing away the key.
They both just about died laughing when they saw him do that, and continued on their spree towards the promised wine that was waiting for them at the second story of the house.
Just as Vienna was going to follow Georgie up the stairs to twins' bedroom she spotted a familiar mop of black, unruly hair by the front door.
Her younger brother Antonio DeLaurentis whirled around looking blatantly guilty, while he quickly stuffed his hands in his pockets. He scowled at Vienna once he registered that it was her who had startled him.
"Hey, sis," Tony grunted, running a careful hand through his thick hair. It looked as if he was trying very hard to appear as casual as possible.
Vienna stalked towards him, all initial amusement gone from her character, while she surveyed him carefully.
She stopped a foot away from him before she asked, "What're you doing?"
Tony frowned at her accusatory tone, and shrugged in a show of purposeful indifference. "Nothing," he sneered.
Vienna's eyebrows shot up at his flagrant disrespect, and folded her arms across her chest. "Tony, I'm not mom and dad. C'mon, now. What's going on?"
Tony was unwilling to meet her gaze, and instead picked a spot on the wall to stare at instead. "I'm not doing anything, Vi. What do you want from me?"
"What's with the attitude?" Vienna could not help herself from snapping at him.
She knew that he was probably just dealing with the usual hormonal angst that any fifteen year old his age would be dealing with. But she was his sibling for God's sake. He did not have to put up a facade in front of her.
Tony just shook his head noncommittally, his body tense with annoyance while he tried to angle himself to find an escape route. "What's with all the stupid questions? I'm not doing anything."
"What's in your pocket?" Vienna continued to press, blocking his efforts to leave.
"God, nothing, Vienna. Just leave me alone," Tony snarled, attempting to move past her. "You left for practically a whole year. Should be easy for you to do."
For a moment, Vienna could only stare at him weakly. It was not until then that she realized just how much her disappearance had affected her immediate family. She never thought she'd hear her little brother throw that back in her face.
Vienna frowned at his words but held her hand out expectantly. "You either get to deal with me or mom and dad. Your choice."
Tony scowled at her ultimatum but Vienna could see remorse flash across his eyes for a brief second before he dug into his pocket and put something small into her hand.
"A blunt? Really, Tony?" Vienna chided, looking at the small, dingy roll of marijuana. It looked juvenile sitting in the palm of her hand. It was clumsily rolled, and Vienna would've bet money that one of Tony's friends had crafted the whole thing.
Tony at least had the gall to look crestfallen, but he was stubborn when he retorted, "It's not mine, I swear."
Vienna wanted to shake him, she was so irritated.
"That's not—!" Vienna abruptly cut herself off, forcing herself to remember that she did not want to scold him the way their parents would have. "Look, I don't care whose it is. Don't let me catch you with one of these again. You could get in serious trouble, and you know we have to be more careful compared to other kids our age."
Tony glowered and opened his mouth to deflect once again, but Vienna held her hand up to him to halt his speech.
"I know it's not fair, but that's just the way it is. And if it is someone else's then don't bring this shit into the house. If dad had found it, he would've ripped you a new one."
Vienna watched as Tony's eyes widened in fear, his expression quickly turning white at the thought of being on the receiving end of Vito DeLaurentis's infamous temper.
"Alright, alright. I'm sorry. I'll keep out of trouble. Can I go now?"
Vienna frowned as she watched his gaze shift quickly towards Georgie who was waiting expectantly. A red tinge of embarrassment crawled its ways to Tony's ears, and he looked at Vienna now more bashfully aware that there was an audience to his scolding.
"Yeah, yeah go ahead. I'll see you around," Vienna waved off.
Tony quickly scrambled away from the two girls and Vienna looked at Georgie with wide, exasperated eyes as if to ask what the hell was going on here while I was away?
Georgie only giggled at her friend's expression and shrugged her shoulders in a don't-ask-me manner.
Vienna shook her head before she followed Georgie up to the twin's room. The bedroom was larger in order to provide space for two females, and it was mostly empty since the twins now attended school full-time at a nearby state college. Vienna grabbed Francesca and Beatrice's fluffy matching pink and purple bean bags while Georgie headed straight for their wide, walk-in closet.
Vienna rubbed her temples, trying to rid herself of the mounting irritation that settled in her skull from the difficult interactions she'd had with various members of her family.
"Ugh, Georgie, seriously what the hell? I can't believe Tony had a blunt with him," Vienna complained, sinking into the bean bag cushion. Maybe if she was lucky it would strangle her, and she would not have to deal with the craziness of her family anymore.
She could hear Georgie laughing lightly from the closet. "What can you do? He's a teenager, doing what teenagers do."
Vienna clicked her tongue in annoyance. "He knows better. There are always more eyes on us. He doesn't get that he has to be more careful just because of who our dad is."
"Well at least you confiscated it before he went anywhere with it," Georgie acquiesced.
Vienna could only grimace in grudging acknowledgement before muttering, "God knows how I'm related to the moron."
Georgie suddenly emerged from the closet with a smug look on her face.
"Aha!" she announced, holding up the bottle of champagne that she had unearthed from the closet. "I knew they had some in here."
Vienna laughed and clapped her hands at Georgie's discovery. "A true detective, if I ever saw one."
"What can I say?" Georgie asked while flipping her hair in mock-vanity. "Here, give me your glass."
Vienna handed her the two glasses and Georgie topped off both before settling into her own bean bag cushion.
"I still don't get how you knew this was here," Vienna mentioned after the bubbly drink made contact with her taste buds.
Sure, warm champagne was not the greatest drink, but it sure beat mingling downstairs with everyone else.
"I know because I've bought the girls alcohol before," Georgie admitted sheepishly, before sipping on her drink.
Vienna was shocked that her clean-cut best friend would admit to something so brazenly illegal.
"What? Oh don't look at me like that, Vi. You know that they were just going to get some from whatever frat guy they bullied otherwise," Georgie defended with a pout. "At least this way they'd be getting something better than cheap, gross beer."
When Vienna continued to pin her with a pointed glare, Georgie held up her hands in surrender.
"Okay, okay, stop staring at me. Gosh. I hate it when you do that."
They both paused for a moment before dissolving into shrieks of laughter. Vienna put a hand to her chest while she fought to catch her breath from how hard she had been laughing the whole night.
"God, I know you don't want to hear it, but I really missed this," Georgie acknowledged, her voice taking on a more serious tone, once their laughter died down.
Vienna pursed her lips at her friend's admission, the guilt was back and weighing heavy in her stomach. "I did too. All of you. I mean you guys are family at the end of the day."
Georgie reached out to put a comforting hand on Vienna's knee. "Hey, don't look so sad. I know why you had to get out, I get it. I really do."
Vienna's mouth tipped up in gratitude. Sometimes Vienna forgot that out of everyone, Georgie understood the most about what it was like to be a second generation female in the Family. Their expectations were so different compared to the expectations placed on people like Georgie's brother Nolan, and sometimes it was suffocating.
"How have things been since you got back, though? I know it's only been two days but…?" Georgie's voice trailed off, peering at her friend in sincere concern.
Vienna let out a breath, shame fleeting through her chest, before dropping her eyes. "I haven't gone home yet. I've been staying here at Gino's. I just...I didn't want to deal with stuff at home. I mean you saw how my mom reacted. I didn't—couldn't—go back to that just yet."
Georgie nodded her head sympathetically at the confession before asserting gently, "I'm sure they just had that reaction because they miss you."
Vienna ran a hand through her black curls before sighing, "Is it horrible that I want to get a one-way flight back to Italy as soon as my dad gets his test results?"
"No, not at all," Georgie reassured immediately. "In fact, I think it's great that you came back before something serious happened."
Vienna nodded grudgingly while she played with a loose thread on her beanbag absentmindedly. Her father for some time now was having issues with his cardiovascular health, and the last time that she had talked to Gino over the phone, it sounded like things had escalated to the point where he might need surgery.
So, before she could talk herself out of things, she had gotten on a plane straight back to Chicago to be closer with her family. However, Vienna had not anticipated how reluctant she would be in bridging the gaps between herself and her immediate family.
"I don't think they see it that way necessarily, but thanks for saying that."
Georgie waved Vienna's contempt away. "I'm sure they don't, but you're an adult and they know that. Besides, you could've done a lot worse. Staying with your grandparents in Italy is better than going to another random country. I'm sure your dad is happy that his parents can keep an eye on you—even if he can't."
For a moment Vienna thought about her paternal grandparents in their small villa in Venice, Italy by the gulf. She loved everything about Venice from the canals, to the culture, to her distant relatives that she was getting to know better and better every day. Her grandparents were getting stiff with old age and Vienna enjoyed supporting them as she helped them with their daily tasks.
At first she had gone to Italy straight after college because she enjoyed her summer abroad there so much. But the longer she stayed, the more she could not come to terms with the thought of moving back to Chicago after graduation. She needed to get away. She needed time. She needed space.
Even if that meant being away from the people she cared the most about.
"Yeah," Vienna conceded thoughtfully. "I guess that's true."
"Damn right," Georgie agreed, nodding her head doggedly before finishing the contents of her glass. She picked up the champagne bottle and topped off another glass for herself and Vienna.
"So how long do you think you'll stay?"
Vienna sipped on her wine carefully before answering. "I don't know, it really depends. It could be two weeks; could be two months. Gino thinks I should stay longer cause he expects that dad is going to need more help with...operations."
Georgie's eyebrows furrowed with confusion. "And Uncle Cosimo can't handle that? What about the idiot trifecta of my dear brother, Christian and Gino?"
Even though Georgie phrased her question in a joking manner there was truth to her statement. Gino, Christian, and Nolan were projected to take over for their fathers as the next generation of the Chicago Mafia administration. Now was as good as a time as any to learn the ropes of the mob's daily operations.
Vienna shrugged one shoulder in puzzlement. "I have no clue. I think my uncle, Gino's dad, is trying to lay low. I heard he got mixed up with Chicago PD a couple months ago. And Gino may be going away on business soon. But he keeps saying that we're an asset because we're women. The mob doesn't pay attention to us."
Georgie nodded her head in grudging recognition. "That's a good point. You're just as good as any of them. Better, even."
"Says you," Vienna joked before tipping her glass towards Georgie in accusation. "Miss hustler over here."
Despite her serene demeanor, it was common knowledge in the upper hierarchy of the Family that Georgie was wicked in a gambling game whether it was poker, blackjack, or roulette. Vienna even attributed her win in poker the previous night partly to Georgie's coaching throughout the years.
Before Georgie could retort they heard the sound of stomping up the stars and they immediately quieted their voice. Vienna could not help but laugh at their current situation. Was she really so desperate to get away from the Family that she had to resort to hiding away in her younger cousins' bedroom?
When they heard the footsteps leave they both let out a sigh of relief.
"This is horrible. I've been back for two days and I'm already going nuts. Is this what happens when I leave? You're selling alcohol to minors, Tony is smoking weed, and Gino's messing with Chicago's judicial system." Vienna joked, while propping her head on her hand.
She was starting to feel the effects of the three glasses of alcohol she had, and her body had a pleasant buzz waltzing through her nervous system.
"What? The judicial system? What're you talking about?" Georgie asked curiously, her eyebrow quirking up in surprise, while she crossed one foot over the other.
"Yeah, him and Nolan asked me to do a job the other night. They wanted me to go and sweet talk this criminal attorney—"
"Was he cute?" Georgie sniggered, slurring the end of her sentence ever so slightly.
"Heck no," Vienna laughed, before continuing, "But there was this really cute guy at the bar. We all played poker together and—Georgie—he was gorgeous. I'm talking drop-dead. And a hell of a good poker player."
Vienna punctuated her explanation with a large sip of the prosecco, and Georgie giggled at her friend's declaration.
"And you didn't get his number?" Georgie admonished loudly, waving her arms in a what the hell movement.
Vienna shook her head and protested, "I was on the job! I couldn't be distracted like that."
"Job, shmob," Georgie retorted dismissively. "I haven't heard you say anything that complimentary about a dude since your ex, Royce."
Vienna frowned, suddenly feeling very sober, before she quietly mentioned, "You know Royce sent me a postcard the other day. Here. I don't even know how he got the address."
"What?" Georgie gasped, her eyes widening to the size of saucers. The champagne sloshed dangerously in her glass while she straightened up in her seat, staring at Vienna flabbergasted. "Are you serious?"
"Yeah. I have no clue how he knew...but he sent it to me," Vienna explained, trying to quell the emotion that was scraping through her sternum. Why would he send her that postcard now?
Georgie's expression softened when she saw Vienna's vulnerability. "What'd it say?"
"Nothing much really," Vienna said haltingly, resuming her plucking of the stray thread on the cushion. "Just said: you should be here. It was a picture of Gustav Klimt's The Kiss. There wasn't even a return address or anything on it."
Georgie's face was screwed up in confusion and Vienna continued to explain.
"He sent that postcard 'cause the painting is in Belvedere, Vienna. Close to where we met. He always kept joking that I should move there because of my name. He's dumb and sentimental like that," Vienna added semi-jokingly, fond amusement coating her words. She could almost remember their last date when they wandered the streets of Austria, and the way he led her through the museum. Everything was warm and beautiful and she did not want the day to end with him.
Georgie tilted her head at Vienna perceptively. "You still have feelings for him."
It was a statement, not a question. Vienna shifted in her seat defensively, "I mean…I care about him, yeah. I always will."
Georgie laughed at her response. They both knew that she was avoiding the question.
"Well I'm not goin' to lie, I'm rooting for Mr. Poker Player because he didn't break your heart like Royce did. What's his name anyway?"
"Dante," Vienna divulged. She was almost mad at herself that she remembered his name so clearly after that night. She pretty much forgot about the other men's names that night. But not his. It was safe to say that he had definitely left an impression on her after that night.
Georgie had a strange expression on her face, but before she could say anything the door burst open causing both of them to yelp in surprise and whip their heads to the open bedroom door.
"What the hell is going on here?" Gino bellowed, pretending to be serious before he broke out into a wide smile when he noticed the empty glasses and champagne bottle.
"Oh, I see how it is. Y'all are having your own party up here, huh?" Christian snickered, appearing in the doorway behind Gino. Nolan peered over Gino's other shoulder, trying to also survey the situation.
Christian quickly shoved the other twenty-six year old, before moving into the room, and plopping himself on to the floor to join Vienna and Georgie.
"Y'all are snakes, leaving us to the wrath of the older Family members," Gino accused, before following Christian and sitting by Georgie. He tried to steal her glass to take a sip but she huffed at him in irritation while he laughed at her reaction.
"We figured you guys would be watching the game," Georgie countered, handing Gino the bottle of champagne.
"Likely story," Gino quipped, giving Georgie a mock-glare before he took the bottle from her. Something about their interaction seemed off to Vienna from the way Gino's eyes lingered on her, to their close proximity on the floor.
"Vi, everyone's asking about you," Christian reported, taking the bottle from Gino to take a sip of his own, before looking at Vienna pointedly. "You can't avoid them forever."
"I'm not avoiding anyone," Vienna objected, turning away from Christian's disbelieving stare. "You know them. They just want to gossip."
"I think Uncle Cosimo thought you'd bring some Italian cigars back for him. He's the one who told us y'all were here." Nolan noted which caused Gino and Christian to howl with laughter at the expression on Vienna and Georgie's face.
"He shouldn't be smoking anymore; he's a bad influence on dad," Vienna complained, shaking her head in exasperation and directing her words to Gino.
"Hey don't look at me. I'm not handing him the cigars," Gino retorted, holding his heads up in defense.
Vienna opened her mouth to retort, but Georgie cut in before she could say anything. "Have you heard anything from him though about...what's been going on?"
Vienna knew that Georgie was referring to her father's current fragile state of health.
Gino exchanged looks with Nolan and Christian before rubbing at his five o'clock shadow thoughtfully. "I've heard bits and pieces, but it's only a matter of time before they sit us down officially to discuss things."
Vienna's eyebrows raised at Gino's admission. "Is it really that serious?"
Gino shot another glance at Nolan and Christian before angling himself towards his cousin. "It's still too early to say, but yeah it might be. He hasn't exactly been taking enough steps to change his lifestyle the way he should be."
"What do you mean?"
Nolan frowned before explaining to the group, "Well the type of heart disease he has is coronary artery disease and the doctor said if you smoke, drink excessive alcohol, eat red meat, and don't exercise often then it can contribute more to the disease. Also they say that people with type-A personalities, and high-stress jobs are more at risk."
It was Vienna's turn to exchange a worried look with Georgie. Her father had all the risk factors that Nolan had pointed out, including being in a high-stress job. He was the most type-A person she had ever met in her life.
If there was any chance of getting better it was clear that he would have to do a complete 180 in terms of changing his current lifestyle.
"So has he said anything to you guys in terms of taking over anything?" Vienna questioned, trying to frame her question cautiously.
Gino lifted one shoulder and began concentratedly picking at the label on the champagne bottle. "To be honest, I think he was waiting for you to come home."
"Me?" Vienna echoed in surprise, her eyebrows shooting up into her hairline.
"Yeah, you," Gino stressed, his eyes clashing to look at her emphatically. "I don't know the details, but there was a reason he wanted you to come home. Beyond just being closer to everyone. I don't know what exactly his plan is…but it looks like you might be a part of it."
Vienna could only gape at her cousin in shock. What did her dad want with her?
An uneasy shadow fell over the group as if they were all thinking about the absence of the Don. Despite her feelings towards her father, Vienna knew that he was an essential piece in keeping the Family close and stable and together.
"Alright, enough of this depressing shit. No need to discuss what we don't know," Christian waved his arms in an attempt to lighten up the mood. "Now, Vi, I heard you confiscated something from our in-house, emo teenager, Tony."
Vienna's mouth broke into a wide disbelieving smirk, and she dug into her dress pocket for the sad excuse of a blunt that she had taken from her little brother. "You can't be serious."
Christian raised his eyebrows at her, and motioned for her to reveal her plunder.
Vienna couldn't help but laugh when she placed it in the middle of the group on the floor. It looked like a joke sitting there. Gino and Nolan joined in with her, roaring with laughter at what she revealed.
"Poor little dude. Probably thought he was so cool holding onto this thing," Christian cackled, while Gino picked up the blunt and examined it; as if criticizing the craftsmanship of it.
"So…" Gino paused with a wicked look on his face before looking expectantly around at Christian and Nolan. "Who's got the lighter?"
They all started talking at once.
"Gino, shut the fuck up!"
"We can't smoke in here."
"What if somebody walks in?"
"I think I have some eye drops with me."
Georgie, Vienna, and Nolan all paused to turn and look slowly at Christian who looked around the group indignantly, holding a small bottle of eye drops. "What?!"
Before Georgie and Vienna could protest any further, Nolan tossed Gino his lighter and Christian chugged the rest of the contents of the bottle.
"Are you serious?"
"Dude, it's going to smell. Knock it off."
They all started talking over each other once more and only halted when the door of the bedroom banged open once more.
"Are you guys smoking in here?!" screeched Francesca, while Beatrice looked at the group with a mixture of shock and disgust.
All five of them scrambled to their feet, and in a quick motion Gino hid the blunt behind his back.
"No of course not!"
"We're so sorry."
"Seriously, won't happen again ladies."
They quickly left the room, grabbing the empty wine glasses and bottle with them, while Christian not-so-subtly waved his arms back and forth to dispel any tell-tale sign of smoke. Once Beatrice slammed the door in their face, all five of them let out the laughter that they had been holding in upon the arrival of the twins.
Once they got all of their laughter out of the way, the group started to head down the stairs back to the rest of the party. Vienna trailed close behind watching her friends interact with each other, and was suddenly overcome with happiness and gratitude. She had missed goofing off with all of them and maybe, just maybe, things were going to be alright after all.
After nearly three glasses of wine later, Vienna moved away from the rowdiness of the living room. She was stuffed full of fresh cavatelli pasta and her mother's bruschetta which had nearly led her into a food coma. She wandered through the halls of the townhouse, sleepily searching for Georgie who had gotten lost in the thick of the crowd about a half hour ago.
Part of her was hoping that if she could track down Georgie, she could catch a ride with the D'Amico siblings and stay over at their house for the night so that she could avoid her father for an extra night.
Vienna decided she would much rather talk to her father tomorrow when she was sober and less sleepy. That is, if she felt like it tomorrow
Just as Vienna was plotting the ultimate avoidance scheme, she walked past Uncle Cosimo's study, and heard her name being spoken in a hushed tone. Vienna paused just outside the door, her breath catching at her throat when she heard her father's frustrated tone.
"We need to do something, mio fratello, soon," Vienna's father grunted. He paused for a second, and Vienna could hear the distinct clink of whiskey glasses.
"Rilassare, Vito. Things will fall into place. Do not stress," Uncle Cosimo cajoled. "Your daughter is home now. Your family is back together. Enjoy the night. Tomorrow we can talk to D'Amico and—"
Her father let out a loud exasperated breath. "Vienna has not even been home yet. But besides, D'Amico won't be of any help. There was another Russian attack and we need a plan—"
"What plan? We don't know anything about what they want or—"
"I think Distler joined with them after he got out of jail."
"That's your theory?"
"Of course! Think about it Cosimo. The fucker was pissed when he went to jail for the racketeering. This is his way of getting revenge on all of us."
Uncle Cosimo let out a long whistle. "I still don't know if I would bet on that."
"Whether or not he's with the Russians, I don't know but I would bet money that he broke omertá."
There was a pause and Vienna heard the sound of a lighter being clicked on, and then the tell-tale smell of her uncle's favorite Italian cigars.
Her father continued in a gravelly voice, "Look, what I really came here to tell you is that we have to get moving. I cannot avoid these payments for much longer—"
"Cautadella said he would take care of the hospital bills! Just relax—"
"How can I relax? This is not going away anytime soon, Cosimo. We need to do something else. I'm being realistic. That officer has been on your tail since October."
"Macché!" Uncle Cosimo exclaimed, waving off Vito's complaints. "That officer is as dumb as a dog. He does not suspect something. Besides, Gino has been doing my heavy work lately; I do not show my face around town these days."
There was a pregnant pause, and when Vienna's father spoke again, his voice was low and deliberate.
"I just think maybe this is the opportunity we need to bring the Chicago Outfit back together. There has been word that Vena and his men are open to discussing a treaty."
"What the fuck does that mean?"
"It could mean the difference between us staying in power or going bankrupt."
Vienna suddenly heard heavy footsteps, and she whirled around to face Gino who had a grim look on his face. Her face colored in embarrassment, but she watched as he pursed his mouth into a thin line and nodded his face at the bathroom door that was further down the hall.
She opened her mouth to protest, but he latched on her wrist and practically dragged her away from Uncle Cosimo's study.
Once they were by the bathroom, Gino opened the door and pushed her inside unceremoniously.
"What the heck, Gino—?"
"Dude, Vi, could you be any more obvious? Why the hell are you eavesdropping on their conversations?"
Vienna scowled at her cousin, but dropped his piercing gaze, feeling cowed in his overbearing demeanor. She realized belatedly that Tony must have felt this exact way when she had caught him with his blunt.
"I heard my name, okay? It wasn't like I was eavesdropping for the hell of it!"
Gino looked at her disbelievingly, and crossed his arms. "One of these days, you're going to hear something you wished you hadn't."
Vienna's mouth turned down at the corners but instead of fighting him, she dropped her guard and stepped closer to him. "Gino, I'm worried about him. Do you know what they're talking about? What bills does my father have? Who's Vena."
Gino's mouth twisted, and leaned away from Vienna's penetrating stare. He opened his mouth once, before shutting it abruptly. When he spoke again, his voice was measured. "Look Vi, I want to tell you but—"
"Then tell me!" Vienna interrupted impatiently, putting one hand on her hip. She was not used to this Gino that withheld information from her. They used to tell each other everything.
"Your father will tell you, Vi. He's been wanting to talk to you."
Vienna huffed, before muttering in a morbid tone, "Fat chance."
Before Gino could respond, a loud thud resounded in the bathroom causing both of them to freeze in place. Just as they both were turning questioningly to the door, they heard a shout of urgency from the study.
And then Vienna and Gino were both rushing to the hall, nearly tripping over the bathroom rug in their haste.
The next twenty-four hours were brutal for the entire Family.
Vienna had never particularly disliked hospitals prior to her father's heart attack, but sitting in the lobby of the emergency clinic waiting as hour after excruciating hour passed by, led her to develop some serious hostility towards the hospital.
Sitting in between Gino and Uncle Cosimo was probably the worst of it though. She was sandwiched in between both of the broad men and they had an annoying habit of shaking one of their legs relentlessly. The simultaneous motion was driving Vienna absolutely insane.
How had everything gone to complete shit in a matter of minutes?
After the mysterious thud at Gino's house, they had discovered that her father Vito DeLaurentis had a heart attack.
Once Vienna spotted Uncle Cosimo's pale, ashen face in the hallway of his home, yelling to get the Family's attention, everything seemed to slow down. Her mother quickly reacted and called the ambulance, while Gino kneeled at Vito's side, trying to calm her father who had managed to prop himself against Uncle Cosimo's study desk.
All Vienna could do was look on in horror as she watched the scene before her unfold.
Once the ambulance came, Uncle Cosimo drove his wife, Vienna, Vienna's mother, Tony, and Gino to the hospital to await the news of Vito's health condition.
Vienna rubbed a hand over her eyes, trying to figure out how she went from joking with Georgie earlier in the afternoon to sitting in the uncomfortable hospital chair, wondering if her father was going to come out of the hospital alive.
Vienna glanced at her Uncle Cosimo from the corner of her eye. In his hand he held the newspaper, but she noticed that his eyes kept flitting from the news articles to the double doors that lead back to the clinic rooms.
Vienna turned her head to look at Gino, who had one hand shoved in his jet black hair and the other hand held his phone while he scrolled mindlessly. Meanwhile, her own mother was talking to her aunt, and they both looked close to tears. Tony had leaned his head back against the wall nearly an hour ago and was snoring softly.
Vienna cleared her throat, trying to push down the sudden emotion that bubbled in her own chest and airways. They all could have lost him today.
"I'll be back," Vienna muttered to Gino and her uncle, who both seemed preoccupied when she slipped out of her chair and walked away from the waiting room.
She could hear her boots tap, tap, tapping on the linoleum of the hospital and Vienna distracted her thoughts by trying to memorize the patterns of tiles on the floor. Somehow in her wandering she had managed to find a small coffee stand where she was able to purchase a latte.
As soon as she found a quiet, empty table to sit down at, the emotion that she had been trying to keep at bay for the entirety of the night swelled inside of her until she was crying into her coffee cup.
Gino was right, she should have come home sooner. She was so selfish, trying to avoid everyone—trying to avoid her father—by staying in Italy.
Hell she was trying to avoid him in Chicago too. She felt silly thinking about how she had stayed in Gino's house the last two nights that she had been in town, just to evade being in her father's presence.
She was a coward. And she hated herself for falling into the trap that everyone else seemed to fall into: for believing her father was invincible just because he was a Don.
Vienna let out a deep sigh, trying to even out her breath which was coming out in stuttering gasps. God, what if something worse had happened?
Thankfully, her father was with her uncle when the heart attack happened. Thankfully, her mother did not waste a beat before she dialed 911. Thankfully, the entire Family was there to make sure he was taken care of.
Perhaps the scariest thought of all was that everything could have occurred at a different time where no one was around to help. And that could have been the death of him.
Vienna swirled the last dregs of her latte around before she tipped the cup back and swallowed the rest of the contents. Something about the hot liquid rushing down her throat seemed to soothe the distress that was still remnant in her nerves, and she took a breath before she made her way back to the waiting room.
She did not want to be a coward. She wanted to be there for the Family. For her father. (Per la famiglia.)
When Vienna approached the waiting room, she noticed that Gino and her Uncle Cosimo were both standing up and talking to each other in hushed tones. Her mother, little brother, and aunt seemed to watch on in absent curiosity. Vienna rushed forward, trying to catch the last words of their conversation.
"Hey," Vienna greeted breathlessly, catching the attention of her cousin and uncle. "What's going on? Can we go in yet? How's he doing?"
Gino regarded her with a closed-off, tight-lipped look when she looked to him for clarity.
Uncle Cosimo just noted with a gruff voice, "Oh, good. You're here."
"What's going on?" Vienna repeated, more urgently this time, searching her uncle's face for an explanation.
"Come with me," Uncle Cosimo replied, gently taking her elbow to steer her towards the doors of the clinic.
Gino's hand shot out to latch onto her other wrist, his fingers tightening imperceptibly and halting her movements.
"Gino, let her go," Uncle Cosimo commanded quietly, pinning her older cousin with a sharp look. "Non verrai con noi."
Vienna peered at Gino questioningly, confused by their interaction. Why had her uncle said that Gino could not follow them? To her cousin's credit, he quickly released Vienna's wrist and had a sheepish look on his face at his father's reprimand.
She tried to give Gino a reassuring smile, but he just looked at their retreating figures with eyes that were full of concern.
Vienna's heartbeat seemed to kick into overtime as she followed her uncle who was navigating the halls of the emergency clinic with ease. They stopped outside of one of the units, and Uncle Cosimo turned to her with a strange look on his face.
"Your father wanted to talk to you Vienna," Uncle Cosimo stated cryptically before he opened the door and beckoned her to follow.
Vienna nodded her head and entered the room after him.
The first thing she noticed was how many machines her father seemed to be hooked up to. She had never seen him in such a fragile state. His usually neatly styled hair was ruffled and seemed grayer than usual, and his face was pale and sallow. When her father turned to see who had entered his room, it was as if that small action had taken all of his energy.
"Vienna," her father croaked, affection seeping into his tone as he regarded her with his deep, hazel eyes.
"Hey, daddy," Vienna greeted softly, before noticing the other man in the corner of the room.
The mystery man appeared to be the same age as her father, and he was fiddling with a bouquet of flowers while he appraised Vienna. It looked as if he had come to pay his respects to her father, but something about him seemed off.
He wore a dark navy suit jacket that seemed to compliment his deep olive-toned skin. His eyes were deep set and dark brown, and his hair was brushed back to accommodate his receding hairline, and Vienna could make out chocolate curls that were streaked with grey.
Vienna's breath seemed to seize in her chest as she watched him watch her. Even though he was in the same room as both her uncle and her father, something about his presence was especially intimidating; almost predatory.
"Hello," Vienna directed towards the tall, threatening figure. The man just tipped his head in her direction.
"Vienna," her father started to explain before his voice dissolved into a fit of coughs. Vienna immediately rushed to his side and grabbed his hand.
Her father tightened his grip on her hand as if saying I'm okay, before he continued, "This is Geovanni Vena."
Vienna looked back at the strange man, and nodded in acknowledgement. So this was the man who her father and uncle had been discussing when she was eavesdropping on their earlier conversation about a treaty.
Something about the older man looked vaguely familiar. It was clear that he was of Italian descent but who was he? What part of the Mafia did he operate in? Why did her father and uncle need him so bad?
"Please, take a seat," Uncle Cosimo urged, dragging a chair for both her and himself towards Vito's hospital bed. Her uncle was stiff in the presence of Geovanni and Vienna immediately felt wary of the strange man's proximity.
"Vito," Geovanni addressed abruptly, buttoning up his coat. "I will take my leave now that your figlia is here. When you feel better, we can schedule another time to discuss...matters."
Vito nodded solemnly, and watched as Geovanni put down the bouquet of flowers by his bedside hospital table. "Thank you Geovanni. I look forward to it."
Geovanni tipped his head towards her father and her uncle professionally before walking towards the exit.
"Vienna, it was lovely meeting you as well."
Vienna just gaped at the man before he closed the door, too stunned at the unusual tension that seemed to hang in the air until Geovanni left the room.
"Who was that?" Vienna questioned, looking curiously at her uncle and father, once the strange man had shut the door.
She watched as her uncle and father exchanged looks, before her uncle turned to her with an inquisitive look.
"What do you know about Johnny DiFronzo?"
A/N: I know this is kind of a slow start but I really wanted to set the scene and the structure of the Family before I introduced any more characters (like the MMC, haha). Anyway I'm hoping to keep this streak up of updating this every Sunday. If you liked the chapter (or disliked it!) please show this story some love and leave a review! I would love to hear your thoughts on the characters and the storyline so far. Also click to follow for alerts every time I update. Hope everyone's staying safe during this quarantine. This story is on Wattpad so go show it some love there too if you're more active on there.