It was a destination wedding. Nichelle had loved Santorini the first time her husband took her to the island. The white buildings and endless beaches had made the reception seem like something out of the Iliad. Lysha remembered Nichelle gushing to her about her weeks spent with her husband. They’d spend days traveling the ocean and nights making passionate love. The eccentric artist that was Nichelle fell for a kind, compassionate, and quiet businessman that was Eiji Shikimaro. Eiji was a wealthy art collector, potter, photographer, sailor, and heir to an extremely wealthy tea company in Japan. His features were rugged with prominent cheekbones and a constant beard. Handsome was too light of a word for Eiji. Height, looks, wealth, and lots of hair. He always wore his long ink-black hair in a high ponytail that paired perfectly with his gold-rimmed circle-styled lenses.
He had met Nichelle in Hawaii at a gallery show. Nichelle and Lysha had spent their teens in Colorado but parted ways towards their destinies in 2022. Nichelle had made the islands her home and Lysha had opted to travel the globe, both women never looked back. Nichelle's latest commissioned piece had been published and her name had the art world a buzz. She had done work for various animation studios and at the time was launching her own art studio. She was 5’6 with deep doe-like eyes. Her Native American features mixed with her African American heritage gave her hued brown skin a reddish tint and made for an elvish-like beauty. She had deep-set dimples on both sides of her cheeks and a small dimpled chin. Her hair at the time was buzzed and dyed a metallic silver. With her love for all black and combat boots she looked like a futuristic android.
When walking into the gallery she said she had been surprised to see her assistant standing next to a tall toned looking man who was almost steel-like in his presence. “He was so handsome. Like something out of an Edo period novel. His energy was so electric and intense.” Her best friend sighed softly at the memory of meeting her beloved. Nichelle had told Lysha it was love at first sight. Eiji had asked to be introduced to the artist and was surprised to see that Nichelle was one, a woman(a strangely common misconception with her name), and two she was fluent in Japanese. They had talked well into the night before Eiji kissed her until the sun rose.
They spent the past four years together traveling, creating, and learning their love like a shared language only they knew. Now they celebrated forever and Lysha smiled at the beauty of love. Nichelle had been single for most of her life until, like magic, she wasn’t. It was something so different that brought two souls together in such a way. She had always believed in this soul-binding intimacy that forced the universe to make room for your love.
Lysha made sure that she was the best maid of honor. She made her rounds and monitored the evening to give her beautiful best friend the night of her life. The flowers, tent, candles, and lighting had all been designed by her. She had given Nichelle an Olympian wedding. Something even the gods would be envious of. Reefs of lavender adorned each table and madagascar vanilla oils burned in the center of the reefs giving off the aroma of deep love. As she began to instruct the waiters to bring out the dessert she heard booming laughter coming from the dance floor. She felt a magnetic pull calling her to turn and walk to the center of the outdoor tent. When she finally made her way to him, she felt her heart thump against her ribs. Her hands became sweaty and her usually cool brown eyes were flooded with emotion. Ares Argento stood gallantly in the center of a crowd of dancing men.
The sun had begun to set over the beach and the reception became engulfed in deep oranges and luminous pinks making this day even more romantic. He was tall, 6’4, and had warm malt liquor-colored eyes. His smooth beige skin seemed warmer than usual against his dark fitted Italian suit. He wore no tie and had the top two buttons of his crisp white shirt open revealing his dark tanned skin. He laughed at one of the groom’s men’s jokes and a giant smile spread across his face showing a white row of teeth. She knew she was staring and that someone could see her but she couldn’t stop. He was more handsome than she remembered and she needed just a second to file this moment for the rest of her life. She heard a bark and two questioning whines. Her two puppies were with her that day and she looked down to see their concerned faces.
“Mommy is okay.” She bent down and patted Luna and Solie on their heads.
They had such a deep connection sometimes Lysha had a strange feeling that they could hear her thoughts and feel her heart as their own.
As she stood, she felt someone near her and looked up to see him standing right in front of her. His playful eyes scanned her lavender silk dress. Her curvy African-Caribbean figure had always made her uncomfortable in life but she had opted to embrace her body these last five years. She felt his eyes move from her ample chest to her full lips and a pulsating heat began to move across her body causing her temperature to rise steadily. He was at least a foot away but she could feel him on her skin, his scent a mixture of the nearby ocean and warm oak filled her senses. Finally, she watched as his eyes rested on her heart-shaped face. She reddened by touching the soft hugging fabric. Her long hair had deep beach waves for the wedding’s theme and she had small flowers placed throughout her tresses.
His smile only kept growing and she welted in silence under his gaze.
“He’s still an arrogant prick .” She clenched her fingers and cleared her throat loudly.
“Thank you for attending Nichelle’s wedding. I know with your busy schedule flying to Santorini may have caused you some issues but truly the family appreciates your prese-”
“You’re kidding right?” His deep voice boomed and she saw his dark eyebrows rise. She felt a quick chill run up her back but kept steady.
“N-no, I am not.” She stammered confused by his interjection. “We are extremely hap-“
“We haven’t spoken in four years and this is the first thing you say to me? How happy are you for Nichelle ?” He scoffed and his gaze seemed to only intensify. “Wow, you know I watched your last interview on chaste love. Honorable courtship, waiting for the one, and oh yeah kindness for the sake of being kind. But aren’t you rumored to be dating some asshole soccer player ?”
Rumors had been circling the tabloids about her encounters with a notorious bad boy soccer player. Dante Ricci was the premier soccer player and friend. They’d been out on lunch two months prior but what was not said was the fact that she and him were having a therapy session. She was offering him guidance and friendship. He had offered her a place by his side but with his commitment issues and childish mentality, she’d be crazy to accept. He was kind to her and peppered her with gifts and admiration. But her heart belonged to somebody else. She was crazier than she thought because every second spent with Atlas made Dante the better choice.