‘Close your eyes.’
I give Domenico a wary look. He rolls his eyes.
‘Trust me, will you?’
I close my eyes. ‘The last time you told me to close my eyes, I opened them and found your penis in my face.’
He bursts out laughing and rubs my back affectionately.
‘I’m sorry, Ale, I forgot about that. I promise, no penises this time.’
I keep my eyes closed, but pout playfully. ’Wait! I didn’t say that I wanted no penises...just not surprise ones.′
‘Well, you know that there will be no penises until two day’s time, amore mio,’ he says warmly and presses a kiss to my temple.
He takes my hand and guides me forward. I treat uncertainly, but put my trust in him. We walk along some kind of stone path. I can hear the sea on my right and smell the salty air, but that’s no surprise because we are on the coast in Salerno.
‘Okay, you can open your eyes now.’
I follow his instruction and blink a couple of times, adjusting to the sunlight. In front of me is a beautiful white villa with striking terracotta tiles.
‘This is your bridal suite,’ he says softly. ‘This will be your home for the next two days.’
‘I love it,’ I whisper and turn around to hug him. ‘Thank you.’
We pull back just as the door bursts open, making us both jump. Hanna is stood in the doorway, holding a bottle of champagne and two flutes.
‘Surprise, bitches!’ She shouts. ‘What’s a bridal suite without the Maid of Honour?’
Dom rolls his eyes and I grin at my best friend.
‘I think you mean without the Bride,’ I correct her. ‘Pour me one of those.’
‘Damn straight.’ She has already popped the cork. She pours me a glass and hands it to me. ‘Here you go, bestie.’
I take a sip of the cool, bubbly liquid. Hanna looks over at Dom and holds up the bottle.
He shakes his head, an amused smile on his lips. ‘No, thank you, Hanna.’
She shrugs. ‘Alright. More for us, eh?’
Dom grasps my arm, getting my attention.
‘I’m going to go and meet some associates to make sure that everything is still going according to schedule. I will meet you and your Uncle at the restaurant tonight at eight o’clock. Try not to look too beautiful, gattina, it’s hard enough trying to keep my hands off of you as it is.’
‘I’ll try my best, Domenico,’ I reply, but in my mind, I’ve already mentally picked out my dress for tonight.
‘See you later, Hanna.’
‘See you later, alligator,’ she replies and takes another large swig. ‘Come on, let’s unpack your stuff.’
In two days, Domenico and I are getting married. It’s an enormous wedding, there’s going to be over a hundred guests. I don’t even know half of these people, they are all Domenico’s family or his business associates.
In the mafia world, relationships are everything. He needs to keep strong ties with his allies. Inviting them to his wedding is something he has a duty to do.
I never grew up dreaming of Italian mobsters at my wedding, but there’s not much I can do about it. Besides, I almost feel safer for having them there. That’s a lot of bodyguards and security.
My uncle is the only one I really care about. He has flown out here to be with us and that means a lot to me, because I know he hates flying.
Luca is the best man, obviously. Hanna is obviously my MOH, too. Their wedding is in a month’s time and, hopefully, no mobsters will be going to it. Other than my Domenico, of course.
We both had our stag/hen do’s two weeks ago, before we travelled out to Italy. I have no idea what Domenico did for his. Luca picked him up from our house and brought him back two days later, looking a little dishevelled and a whole lot hungover.
I didn’t ask him what happened. I don’t want to know what happened. In my mind, I see strippers and beer. I’d rather not picture it.
Unfortunately for me, Hanna planned my bachelorette party. I was grinded on by male strippers who were almost completely naked and oiled up like a chip for the fryer.
If I got strippers, Dom certainly did. I guarantee his were better than mine, though.
I showered after my party. I felt gross after all that baby oil and muscle. Hanna got so drunk she was sick out of her nose. I was more than grateful to shove her into Luca’s arms when he dropped Dom home.
It was a great two days, despite the oily strippers and nose-vomit. We went to a spa to get massages and facials. We went to a water park because we both thought it would be fun.
Flash forward to us going down the slide, sans the donut, figure-8-shaped lilo, which had slipped out from underneath us. Both of us got quite the exfoliation on our butts as we went over every groove in the slide with no protection from our lilo.
Our asses were pink for about an hour afterwards.
‘Good morning, Mrs Lencioni-to-be!’
I groan and press my face into my pillow.
‘Wake the fuck up, bride. We need to get your ass ready for a wedding,’ Hanna calls loudly.
There’s a blissful moment of silence before the duvet is ripped from my body. I wail and roll onto my back.
Hanna is standing triumphantly at the end of the bed, my covers in her hand.
‘Damn you, Hanna March,’ I growl and sit up.
‘Whoa!’ She takes a step back. ‘We’re gonna need a hairbrush. You got serious mane going on, girl.’
I stumble past her and head for the shower. When I finally come out, I’m calmer and less intent on killing my best friend.
The glamour team have arrived and set themselves up in the villa. I’m pulled into a chair and then prodded and poked for two hours.
When they’re done, I’m allowed to put my dress on. It took Hanna and I visiting four different dress shops to find the right one. It has lace cutouts and lace sleeves, making it lightweight but classy.
I step out in my dress and Hanna actually is speechless for once. Tears pool her eyes and she quickly turns around.
‘Damn you, girl, you’re gonna make my make-up run!’ She recovers and spins back round. ‘You look so beautiful. Dom is gonna have the biggest boner.’
‘Lovely. That was the goal.’
She grins at me. ‘Erections are always the goal.’
‘Come on, girl. We gotta get you to the church before Dom panics that you’re not coming and cries in front of all of his tough mafia mates.’
‘We wouldn’t want that.’
A driver takes us to the church. Hanna helps me out of the car and ensures that my dress remains spotless. Everyone is already in the enormous white church on the cliffs.
My uncle is waiting outside, ready to escort me down the aisle. His eyes tear up as I near him.
‘I’m so sorry that your father couldn’t be here to give you away. But I want you to know how proud they are of you. I am honoured to have the responsibility,’ he says gruffly.
I pull him into a hug and blink the tears away. I wish my parents were here. I hope they are.
I place my hand in the crook of his elbow. The doors are opened and everyone stands up. The music changes to the wedding song I chose. Hanna walks down first, holding her bouquet with both hands.
My uncle and I go next, entering the church. I look around and smile politely at the guests. I recognise some. Most of them are hard, Italian men with beards and scars. They smile warmly enough, which is all I need.
As we near the altar, my eyes find Domenico. My breath catches with how handsome he is. He is wearing a black tuxedo and looks unbearably handsome. He looks like an Armani model that got lost and somehow ended up being forced to marry me.
I am so lucky.
My uncle gives me away. I take Dom’s offered hand and come to stand next to him. Up close, I can see that his dark eyes are shining with unshed tears. He clears his throat and keeps his gaze ahead, on the vicar.
He doesn’t speak to me until it comes to the final line, where the vicar announces that we are husband and wife and that he can kiss the bride.
We turn to face each other and the look of pure adoration in Dom’s eyes makes a lump rise in my throat.
‘I love you,’ he murmurs. ‘You look like an angel, gattina.’
He leans in and kisses me. It is a chaste kiss, due to the guests and the church, but it promises something much more later.
When we pull back, everyone applauds loudly. Confetti is thrown over our heads as we exit the church. Outside the walls of God’s house, I grab the back of his neck and kiss him properly. Hanna hoots in the background.
I pull back and grin up at my handsome husband.
‘I love you so much.’