Chapter One: Mi Casa Es Su Casa

Someone famous once said, "Live life one day at a time." I enjoyed the quote, and for the most part, followed it. It made sense and was easy to follow, and better yet, it worked well with my life style.

But those words were far from my mind as I sped down the long winding gravel driveway, toward the large Manor in the distance. Evergreens and scrubs lined the driveway, all immaculately pruned. The large white columns of the front porch could be seen in the distance. Loud screaming from the latest rock band blasted out of the speakers fighting to be heard over the brash wind that blew in from the open windows.

Brakes squealed and gravel slid as I abruptly pulled my '67 Ford Mustang to a halt in the circle drive in front of the marble steps. I threw open the drivers door and exited the car, leaving it running for one of the servants to park for me.

I quickly made my way up the many steps as the two doormen opened the elaborate French doors at the top. "Good afternoon Miss Mancini," one of the doormen greeted as I walked through the threshold.

I ignored him as usual – like I was really going to talk to the help – and made my way through the grand foyer. Expensive Italian Renaissance paintings that dated back to the late 1400's covered the walls. My father was adamant on heritage.

I walked swiftly past the grand staircase, not glancing up the six floors to the replica painting of Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel on the ceiling. Not only was my father big on heritage, he was also a devoted Roman Catholic.

My black Versace combat books clunked heavily against the gray marble floors. "G'afternoon Miss Mancini, could I get you something cool to drink?" a maid asked behind me. I flipped my hand in dismissal, not uttering a word.

I continued down the wide corridor toward the elevator at the back of the house. I glanced in the large parlor as I passed, admiring Sandro Botticelli's painting: The Birth of Venus that hung on the east wall. It was probably my favorite in the house. As I passed I overheard Antonio, the head of staff, interviewing for new help. It seemed our staff had dwindled in the past months.

I hit the up button on the gold platted elevator and waited patiently, while still tapping my foot in annoyance. Didn't anything work in this damn house? My answer came in the form of a soft ding and the elevator doors opening. I stepped onto the plush cream carpeting thinking of ways to annoy the new help as I hit the button for the third floor, watching the doors close.

I decided the usual scuffing of my boots on the marble would drive them mad, as the elevators opened on the third floor. I stepped out to find my twin brother, Vincent, casually lounging against the mauve walls. His muscular arms were crossed over his chest, pulling his black t-shirt taunt. I raised an eyebrow at him as I walked past, soundlessly, pulling my black leather biker jacket off my skinny frame.

"A garage full of exotic cars and you drive a Ford," he said, incredulously. His voice was deep and confident with an air of arrogance.

I smirked and led the way down the long hallway. "I had to mingle with the less fortunate," I answered simply, throwing open the large black double doors to my living quarters.

Vincent chuckled behind me as I walked into my main sitting room. "And yet you still managed to wear a Gucci jacket and a Dolce and Gabbana tank," he murmured as I tossed my jacket on the back of a settee and crossed the room to another set of double doors.

"You know designers, Vince? I'm shocked. You better watch yourself, otherwise people might start thinking you're gay," I smirked over my shoulder at him as I pulled open the doors.

"You forget, I spent four painful hours waiting for you while Antonio helped you pick out this fall's wardrobe," he deadpanned.

"I may know that, but the rest of the world doesn't," I smirked; turning to him as I jumped backward on my king sized four-poster bed.

He rolled his eyes and I laid back, letting my body relax into the plush comforter. I stared up at the black velvet canopy of my bed as Vince lied down next to me. "So I heard you kicked the Dean's son in the balls this morning," he said, the smirk apparent in his voice as he folded his arms under his head.

I felt the similar smirk spread over my features as I folded an arm under my head also. "He had it coming to him. He grabbed my ass."

"AGAIN?" Vince shouted, suddenly sitting up, dropping his arrogant attitude. We may be arrogant to the rest of the world and extremely proper to our father, but to each other, we were just a couple of normal teenagers attending high school and going to parties.

"Unfortunately, but I took care of it, Vince," I said, propping myself up on my elbows.

He stared down at me questionably, his green eyes sparkling in the sunlight dripping in from the picture windows. "I don't care, he's a dead man walking," Vince said, standing from my bed. "No one touches my baby sister," he muttered, walking toward the door.

"I'm only younger by four minutes," I grumbled, mostly to myself.

"I don't care. I'm still four minutes older," he smirked over his shoulder before leaving.

I rolled my eyes and collapsed back on the bed, letting the thoughts over take my mind.

"Isabella Nicia Mancini, come down here please!" my father's voice rang through the intercom system in Italian. Everything was spoken in Italian at home. He would not tolerate anything less. The servants were even flown in from Italy to ensure cultural likeness and to preserve my father's twisted thinking on heritage.

"Right away, your majesty," I grumbled to myself; setting down the list of contemporary European authors my father had Antonio make up for Vince and me. He was adamant on us reading all three hundred books on the list. "My children are to be intelligent aristocrats with a greater knowledge of the world they live in," my father often said, thus defining his reason for the long list. I had read two hundred and fifty and had until Christmas to read the remaining.

I set down my copy of Loving Sabotage by Amélie Nothomb, a Belgium author, and jumped down from the high window seat.

My father was a first generation American having come here himself when he was eighteen. Though Vince and I were born here, we grew up in Italy until we were in high school when we moved back. My father refused to speak anything other than Italian in our house unless need be. Donetello Mancini was intimidating in every way. Tall with thick black hair, overly large muscles, a perfect goatee, and a rich dark tan, my father was a man of few words. He was the kind of guy who could charm all the ladies, but kill a man in a minute.

I found my father in his study on the first floor. He sat at his mahogany desk, ruffling through papers when I walked in. Like everything else in the house, the desk was large and empowering. "Take a seat," my father greeted, not looking up from his papers.

"What can I do for you, father?" I asked, politely, sitting in one of the leather chairs in front of his desk.

I watched as he signed some paper before moving onto the next one, not paying attention to me. "I'm going to Los Angeles for some time and I'll be leaving you and Vincent on your own. I trust that the house will remain in once piece?" he asked, still not looking up, but keeping perfect posture and using flawless grammar.

"Yes sir," I replied smiling. "May I ask how long you will be away?"

"Two weeks," he replied, glancing up from paper a second for me to nod.

"Was that all?"

"Yes, go do your homework," he replied signing more papers.

I stood the left quickly having no intention on doing homework. I had a party to plan and my brother was going to help me.

"How many people?" Vince asked the second I walked outside. He was reading a book and didn't look at me as I walked over.

"Only anyone who is worth an invitation," I answered with a smile as I sat across from him at the black iron and glass picnic table on the back patio. The Terra Cotta tiles decoratively covered the ground around the table and dining area. I glanced over the large grill built into the side banister of the raised patio to see it smoking. "Cooking again, dear brother? You do realize we have servants for that."

"You drive a Ford, I cook a steak," he shrugged, not looking up from his book that was situated under the table in his lap.

I rolled my eyes. "Please tell me you aren't reading something that will get you in trouble. I really don't feel like adding another ten books to my reading list because of you."

"I'm not," he answered, lifting his book high enough for me to see the cover. Lo Non Ho Paura by Niccoló Ammaniti. Ammaniti was a contemporary Italian author and I'm Not Scared was just another book on our father's infamous list.

I nodded and slouched back against the uncomfortable metal backing of the chair. "I'm done with that one," I nodded.

Vince shrugged and continued reading. "So the weekend after dad leaves?" he asked.

I nodded, "Si. It gives us a week to prepare after he's gone and a week to clean up before he returns."

"Start the invitations," Vince sighed.

Well, here's my new story. I'm glad you all liked The Parker Chronicles: Melissa's Story. Jake's Story should be up in a couple days, so look for that. As you can tell I have a small obsession with Italy. I tend to do that...obsess over things. Well I hope you enjoy this....let me know what you think. :-D