New York. The Plaza Hotel
Valentino gave himself a once over and groaned in frustration as his gaze rested on the little piece of toilet paper that was flashing at him from a spot on his chin. He had awoken that morning with four feet it seemed; Val couldn’t believe he had cut himself while shaving.
He had tried to remove the damn thing but each time he did it the cut started to bleed again. So Val had given up and had let out a string of profanities in his mother tongue. He could not get married with that shit hanging there, now could he?
Muttering under his breath, Val sighed hard and tried to button his cuff links for the fifth time without asking for help. No such luck.
“Vin…” Val whined, sighing in desperation. “Help me with this shit, man.” He said turning around.
Vin rolled his eyes, chuckling as he fixed his own necktie, in front of the huge mirror. He had already helped Val to tie the necktie, fix his shirt and even help with the shoes.
“You gotta relax, bro, or you will end up having a heart attack on your wedding day.” Vin teased him as he grabbed the cuff links, fixing them in seconds.
“Is too late to fly to Las Vegas?” Val asked, sighing hard as he turned again to look at himself in the mirror.
Vin chuckled. “I can have the jet ready in an hour but you better think twice because Renee will cut your balls off in a second flat.” He answered as he grabbed the coat of Val’s tuxedo from the hanger. “Here, put this on, we’re running out of time.”
“I know.” Val sighed. “Man, I’m fucking nervous and I don’t remember my vows.” He whined, letting Vin put the coat, adjusting it.
“Don’t think about that shit now, bro. You’ll do great.” Vin answered calmly as he stretched Val’s coat a little. Then he grinned. “Did you jerk yourself off this morning?” He joked, picking some small white fluffs that had stuck on the black fabric.
“Vin!” Val exclaimed, rolling his eyes. “Can’t believe you’re asking me that, man.” He whispered as he shook his head.
“What?” Vin replied, grinning. “You would feel a lot more relaxed, you know? All this tension can’t be good.” He teased him, chuckling.
Vin knew that Val was nervous as hell but he needed to chill a bit otherwise Vin was sure that Val would end up fainting like a damsel in distress before they were able to get to the church.
“I bet you did, huh, fucker?” Val replied, narrowing his eyes a little. “You look awfully relaxed and happy.” He hissed, cracking his neck bones.
“Oh, yeah, got a performance from the Goddess of Blowjobs.” Vin grinned like a goof.
Val knit a brow, staring at Vin through their reflections in the mirror. “That’s a piece of information I really didn’t need right now.” Val deadpanned.
“You asked, remember?” Vin winked at him, laughing.
“Yeah, I should have kept my tongue in my mouth.” Val muttered, grinning. Vin laughed hard at that.
“I can think about a couple more funny places to stick your tongue, Valentino.” He teased him, waggling his eyebrows. “I bet Renee would agree with me.”
Val opened his mouth to say something but thought better. He knew that whatever he could say, Vin would use it. So he shut his mouth and swallowed a curse.
“You ready?” Vin asked as he grabbed the jacket of his tuxedo.
“No.” Val gasped.
“Great! Let’s go.” Vin ignored the panicked gaze sparkling in Val’s eyes and turned around, heading to the door of the suite.
“Did you get the rings?” Val asked, finally forcing himself to move.
Vin tapped the pocket of his tuxedo and nodded. “Yep.”
“Good.” Val replied, letting out the air he didn’t know was holding. “I can’t believe I’m doing this, man.” He added as he changed direction and headed to the bathroom. All of sudden he needed to pee.
Vin grinned, watching his best friend and he couldn’t help but tease him a little more.
“Believe it, believe it, and you will do a lot more!” Val heard Vin saying from the main room.
“Like what?” Val asked, adjusting himself and flushing the toilet.
“Like getting married…” Vin retorted, grinning like a loony. “What else were you talking about?”
Val arched his brows at once, washing his hands and then he frowned deeply. What the hell is he talking about now? He wondered, a little puzzled as he joined Vin again in the salon of the suite.
“I was talking about getting married, man.” Val replied, completely puzzled. All of a sudden he had no clue what Vin was talking at all. “What is with you? Are you trying to drive me crazy?” He asked, narrowing his eyes in suspicion.
“Oh, I thought you were talking about jerking off.” Vin replied, shrugging his shoulders.
Val blinked fast.
“I…was peeing, man not jerking myself off.” He said, grinning. “And I won’t do it, okay?” Val added, passing Vin and headed towards the door of the suite.
“Fine, but remember my words, you will regret it later.” Vin replied, laughing as he followed Val.
“Yeah, whatever.” Val replied and all of a sudden he came to a dead stop and turned around. “Did you get the rings?” He asked Vin for the second time.
Vin bit his tongue hard and nodded. “Yeah.”
“Okay.” Val whispered, relieved. “Vin? How do I look?” He asked, standing in front of him.
“I would marry you in a second flat if I wasn’t married already.” Vin answered, grinning.
“I’m not joking, bro. Come on, tell me the truth.” Val whined. He was starting to feel sick and swallowed hard.
“Neither was I.” Vin deadpanned, giving Val a fast once over.
In response Val groaned painfully and let out a heavy sigh.
Vin shook his head and grabbing Val’s arm, he dragged him to stand in front of the mirror.
“Come here and let’s take a look at you.” Vin said seriously.
Val rolled his eyes and did as he was told, meeting Vin’s serious gaze in the mirror.
“You look elegant and classy and Renee will fall at your feet.” Vin said slowly, making sure Val didn’t miss the seriousness in his voice. Val did and nodded firmly. Vin smiled a little and pushed Val in the direction of the door. “Now let’s get out of this damn suite or you won’t get married at all.”
Val let Vin guide him but he couldn’t stop feeling the way he was feeling.
“I’m fucking nervous.” He whispered, sighing hard. Vin chuckled.
“No shit!” Vin replied, shaking his head. “You could have fool me, bro.” He added in a teasing tone.
“I’m gonna puke.” Val gasped, stopping dead in his tracks, causing Vin to roll his eyes, exasperated.
If they kept wasting time here, they would arrive late and that shit wasn’t going to happen. Luna had made Vin promise that they would be there at least fifteen minutes earlier than Renee and herself.
“Fine, but don’t you dare puke on that tuxedo.” Vin grabbed Val’s arm on his way out, not even stopping on his own tracks and pulled hard. “It cost me a fortune.” He added, finally reaching the door, opening it.
“Vin?” Val pulled back and almost caused Vin to lose his balance.
“What?” Vin sighed hard. They were going to be damn late and he didn’t want that to happen.
“Thank you, man.” Val whispered, meeting Vin’s gaze.
“You’re welcome.” Vin replied as he pulled Val out of the suite, not really giving more importance to Val’s words.
Val frowned and resisted a little. Vin stopped and turned around, looking at Val.
They were now in the hallway, and silently Vin congratulated himself. At least he had gotten Val out of the suite. Now he only needed to get in the lift and then in the limo and everything would be fine.
“No, I mean it. Thank you for everything, Vin. The suite, the tuxedo, the honeymoon trip…” Val trailed off, holding his best friend’s gaze.
Vin felt his heart skipping a beat, hearing Val’s voice talking in such a way. He had always known that Val was more than grateful and the Dominican never wasted an occasion to show him his gratitude. But Vin had done it with his very best intentions.
Vin wanted for Val to have everything he would have wanted for himself if he had gotten married with Luna the right way. He hadn’t done it because he felt he owned Val but because he wanted it deep in his heart.
“Listen, Val. You’re my brother and you’ve been always there for me.” Vin paused for a second, clearing his throat. “You’ve been showing me your support since we were kids and I know without a doubt you would have done the same for me.” He paused anew, swallowing hard. He was getting really emotional here and all of a sudden he felt an invisible knot chocking him. “It’s the least I could do, Valentino.”
Val blinked fast against his all of a sudden blurry vision and hugged Vin hard, kissing his cheek.
“Love you, man.” Val whispered in a teary voice. Vin sighed hard and tapped Val’s back.
“Love you, bro.” He whispered, shutting his eyes tightly. Vin knew Val really meant his words and his eyes had started to sting with tears.
A couple of elders saw them and they both smiled widely. “Aw, you two are a lovely couple.” The woman said as she passed at their side.
“Yeah, Congratulations.” The man added, winking.
At once Val and Vin burst out laughing hard as they released each other.
“You ready for this, Mr. Morales?” Vin asked, squeezing Val’s shoulder. In response Val nodded ‘yes’ eagerly.
“Yeah, I’m ready, Mr. Vincent.” He replied and they both headed towards the elevators. “Did you get the rings?” Val asked Vin as he stepped in.
Vin snorted, rolling his eyes.
“Yeah, I got the rings.”
New York. San Peter’s Church.
Valentino glanced up at the frescoed groin vault of San Peter’s church and grinned. He really liked this church. It brought to him a lot of memories from his childhood.
He had just moved to the US from Santo Domingo to live with some relatives waiting for his mom, brothers and sisters to join them a few months later. His family always went to church on Sundays and his mom had insisted no end on Val becoming an altar boy. So finally he had reluctantly agreed to please his mom.
Val’s grin turned wicked when he remembered one time when the priest had caught him along with the other three altar boys sipping from the consecrated wine. His mom had grabbed Val by his ear and she had dragged him two blocks, muttering obscenities that would have made the Devil himself blush.
Yeah, such a mouth she had there for a religious woman, Val chuckled silently as he turned his head to look at his mom, Mariana.
Mariana was sitting in the first line of wooden benches, right next to Renee’s mom and they both were sniffling and cleaning happy tears.
Val rolled his eyes, sighing hard. His mom had started crying two seconds after she had laid her eyes on him. She had stopped just to bless him, kissing his forehead and had kept crying non-stop. It had been almost half and hour and there she was, still crying.
Vin tapped Val’s shoulder lightly and he turned around. “Here.” Vin said, handing Val a piece of paper.
Val frowned, picking it up. “What’s this?” He asked, turning it over in his fingers.
“Your vows.” Vin answered, smiling. “I think maybe you would like to use the occasion to take a look at them.”
Val smiled gratefully and nodded ‘yes’. “I can’t believe you though about every detail, man.” He whispered, opening the small piece of paper.
“Well, I’m not that stupid, you know? I can do things on my own without Renee helping me at every turn.” Vin replied, grinning. Val blinked shocked. “I wrote down a list with all the things I should remember. Some sort of ‘to-do’ list.” Vin paused and pulled out another piece of paper from his jacket. “See?” Vin showed the list to Val.
He took it and frowned slightly, reading silently.
Make sure to pick up Val at The Plaza…done
Make sure Val is ready and help him in everything…done
Make sure I don’t forget the rings…done
Make sure Val is at San Peter’s church at 12:00 sharp. This is a MUST…done
Make sure I up pick Val’s vows because he will be too nervous he’ll probably forget them…done
Make sure Val looks perfect…
Val lifted his head and looked at Vin. Vin gave Val a slow once over and then he grinned turning around. Without saying a word Vin headed towards his mom and asked her for a pen. Then he returned to Val’s side and carefully he removed the little piece of toilet paper from his chin, staring at the little cut in deep concentration. Once Vin was sure it wouldn’t bleed again, he took the piece of paper from Val’s trembling hand.
“Make sure Val looks perfect…done.” Vin said proudly and wrote it down, smiling. Then he lifted his gaze and looked at Val. “There. My ‘make sure’ list is completed. Mission accomplished.” Vin joked, pocketing the paper and the pen back in his tuxedo jacket, tapping Val’s shoulder. “Now you can get married.”
Val smiled widely. “You sure you will be okay? I mean since Renee and I aren’t going to be around for a whole week.” Val whispered.
Vin grinned, nodding. “Don’t worry, man. Mike and Steve will be in charge of all the security stuff and Luna already planned my agenda for the next week. We’ll do fine without you two.” Vin explained, doing his best to ease Val’s sudden worries. And it was true. Everything had been taken care of in advance as soon as the wedding date was set.
Val nodded and returned his attention to his little piece of paper. Reading silently. He didn’t want to miss one single line. He had spent hours, writing out his vows and Val was proud of himself for being able to give expression to his deepest feelings.
Renee looked at herself in the mirror and sighed hard. She was getting more and more nervous with every second that was passing by.
Here she was, about to get married and all of sudden she didn’t feel ready at all.
Looking around, she saw Luna. Her best friend’s lips were moving and Renee realized that she was talking with her but Renee couldn’t hear Luna’s voice. There was a painful buzz resounding in her ears.
Renee shook her head a little and blinked a couple of times, swallowing forcefully. Her throat felt dry and she could feel her mouth filling with saliva damn fast. She was going to puke.
Clasping her hand against her mouth, Renee jumped from the platform she was standing on and ran in the direction to the little bathroom inside the room where she was getting ready.
The church had set this small room aside so that the brides could get dressed or could give themselves the final touches before the ceremony started.
Luna’s eyes widened completely when she saw Renee flying to the bathroom with her hand pressed against her mouth and she stood fast, following her.
When she entered the small bathroom Luna heard Renee puking her guts out and then muttering obscenities under her ragged breath.
Luna sighed hard and padded to the small stall, knocking softly.
“Renee?” Luna asked, frowning slightly.
Renee took a deep breath and swallowed hard. “I can’t do this.” She whispered, feeling tears prickling in her eyes. “I can’t get married.” Renee breathed, closing her eyes as she leaned against the door of the small stall.
At Renee’s words, Luna narrowed her eyes. “Yes, you can, baby. You’re just nervous.” Luna smiled a little. “Come on, Ren, you gotta dress.”
Renee shut her eyes tightly and shook her head ‘no’. “I’m not going to get married.” She replied from inside the stall.
Luna chuckled, rolling her eyes. “Renee, what are you saying, love?” she asked patiently. “You’re just nervous, like every single bride on her wedding day. Now come out here and let’s get you ready.”
“I said, I’m not getting married, Luna, so leave me alone.” Renee replied, blinking her blurry vision. I’m not ready to take this step; I’m not ready. I can’t do it, she added silently, letting out a soft whimper.
“Renee…” Luna whispered as she glanced at the clock wall hanging in the other room. It was 12:20 and Renee was supposed to be ready at 12:30 on sharp. “Come on, love, everything will be fine. Just come out here, okay?” Luna said, doing her best to keep calm.
“I said leave me the hell alone!” Renee replied, raising her voice a little.
Luna rolled her eyes and opened her mouth to say something when she heard a knock on the door of the room. Sighing hard, she headed towards the door and opened it, finding Samantha, smiling from ear to ear.
“Hi, it’s almost 12:30.” Samantha entered, looking around. “Where’s Renee?” she asked, frowning slightly.
Luna sighed hard and gestured with her head to the small bathroom. “She’s going through a panic attack and she’s saying she’s not getting married.”
Samantha rolled her eyes, shaking her head and headed towards the bathroom.
“Yo, Ren!” She called her, causing Renee to snap her eyes open. “What’s going on, sweetheart?” Samantha asked in a gentle tone of voice.
“I’m not getting married, Sammy so leave me alone. I already told Luna though.” Renee replied as she pulled a strip of toilet paper to clean her tears.
“Yeah, I know. It seems that you’re going through a panic attack but it’s okay, sweetie. We all went through that.” Samantha said, smiling as she remembered herself saying those same words a few months earlier on her own wedding day. “Just come out here, love.”
Renee snorted, blowing her nose hard. “I’m not going through a damn panic attack, I just changed my mind.” She retorted firmly and snatched another strip of toilet paper. “And I’m not going out there so leave me in peace.”
Samantha turned around, meeting Luna’s concerned gaze. “Now what?” She mouthed. In response Luna sighed hard and cleared her throat.
“Renee, please, just think about this for a minute, okay?” Luna padded to the small stall and leaned her head. “Val loves you and you love him. You’re just scared to death and I understand that but you can’t stay in there for the rest of your life, Renee.” She tried to reason with her.
Renee’s eyes filled with fresh tears that rolled down her cheeks unrestrained and she wiped them away with the toilet paper.
Luna was right and Renee knew it but right now her mind was a chaotic mix of doubts and fears and she just couldn’t think clearly anymore.
A new knock on the door was heard and Samantha headed towards there to see who was. She opened the door and found Nila with her kids, Adiana and Chris.
The little girl was carrying a small basked full of rose petals in her hand and she was wearing a lovely lavender dress with matching bows in her hair. Samantha’s gaze rested on her niece and she smiled widely. The girl looked gorgeous.
Adiana’s dress was a similar design to the dresses Luna, Samantha and her mom were wearing. She loved it and she had been smiling from ear to ear since the moment her mom put it on her.
Samantha looked behind them and found her nephew Chris wearing a tuxedo and in his little hands he had another basket full of petals. His face didn’t leave any doubt. He was mad and upset.
Unlike his sister, Chris hated his outfit, he had been complaining non-stop for more than two hours, crying, and whining until his grandpa Irving had talked seriously with him, apart from the women. Chris had stopped crying but he had pressed his lips together, mad with everyone for making him wear a tailored tuxedo.
“What’s going on?” Nila asked as she pushed past Samantha, entering the room and urging the kids to enter as well. “It’s time and everybody is already waiting.” She added, closing the door at her back.
“I know, girl.” Samantha whispered, frowning deeply. “Renee says she’s not getting married.” She explained.
“Cool! Can I take off this stupid suit already?” Chris asked excited.
“No!” Both Samantha and Nila replied at once causing the little boy to furrow his brows.
“I hate this tie!” He whined, pulling hard on it.
Nila rolled her eyes, sighing hard. “Chris, stop it.” She warned him as she fixed him with a serious gaze causing the kid to sulk.
“I hate this stupid outfit.” Chris muttered, crossing his arms over his chest.
“Geez, Chris, stop whining, you sound like a little girl.” Adiana scolded her brother.
“I’m not a girl!” Chris replied, stomping his foot on the floor.
“Yes, you are.”
“No, I’m not.”
“Hey! You two, stop already!” Nila exclaimed firmly causing both kids to gasp, sending daggers to each other. “Where’s Renee?” she asked returning her attention to Samantha.
“She locked herself in the bathroom and says she is not coming out.” She answered, sighing hard. Nila blinked in surprise and headed towards the bathroom, finding Luna rubbing her forehead in a gesture of pure exasperation.
Luna had been talking with Renee, trying to get her out of that small stall and so far she hadn’t had any success.
Luna turned her head, meeting Nila’s concerned gaze. Renee was crying aloud, sobbing and repeating in a never-ending chant that she wasn’t going to marry and to leave her alone.
“Yo, girl, I gotta pee.” Nila said, hoping to get Renee out of there and get her ready for the wedding.
In response Luna and Nila heard Renee blowing her running nose, cursing. “Go find another place.” Renee answered, hiccupping.
Nila arched a brow. “Ha! This is the only bathroom, girl. What do you want me to go pee in, huh? In the font?” She replied, grinning.
Luna covered her laughter with her hand and shook her head. Nila was something else.
“Fine by me.” Renee retorted but she couldn’t stop a small grin from tugging the corners of her lips.
Before Luna or Nila could say anything in return, another knock on the door was heard. They both looked at each other and then back to the other room. They heard Delora asking what was going on and why Renee’s wedding dress was still hanging from the hanger. Then they heard Samantha explaining to her mom about Renee’s panic attack.
In two seconds Delora had joined Luna and Nila along with Samantha within the small bathroom and the four of them were taking turns to try and convince Renee to open the door, coming out and getting ready. No such luck.
Ten minutes later and they were still in the same place, with Renee still locked in the small stall, crying, cursing and blowing her nose and Delora, Luna, Nila and Samantha losing their patience and getting mad with Renee’s stubbornness.
They had been so concentrated on getting some common sense into Renee’s head that they hadn’t realized that Adiana and Chris had started a battle, throwing rose petals at each other.
Vin glanced discreetly at his chrono and realized it was almost 12:45. Frowning slightly, and doing his best not to catch Val’s attention, who was still engrossed in his little piece of paper, Vin looked back over his shoulder and saw his mom hurrying her steps towards the far end of the church.
He then looked at his brother Paul with a questioning expression written all over his face.
In response, Paul shrugged his shoulders and looked at Peter, Samantha’s husband who mimicked Paul’s gesture. They had both watched Delora getting to her feet and heading towards the place where the small room was located.
Vin’s frown deepened as a sudden suspicion grew fast and his concerned gaze searched for his dad among the guests that filled the small church. They were all chatting with each other, talking in murmurs to not disrespect the sacred place. However, some of them had started to glance at their watches, getting a little impatient.
After a moment, Vin finally spotted his dad and sighed, relieved.
Irving was pacing back and forth, glancing at his chrono and shaking his head. He disappeared and reappeared behind the set of thick marble columns every few seconds, going back and forth on his own tracks as from time to time he checked himself, stretching the jacket of his tuxedo or rearranging the rose in his lapel.
Vin couldn’t help it and his lips spread in a huge grin. His dad was nervous too because he would give away Renee to Valentino.
Renee’s dad had died in a car accident a couple of years before so Renee had asked Irving to give her to her future husband. Of course Irving had accepted immediately, honored with such a privilege. At the end, Renee was considered as a daughter for Delora and Irving since she had been side by side with Vin for the last three years. Not to mention that Vin’s parents suspected that Renee had helped Vin out of more than just one mess.
Renee and Val could have asked any of Valentino’s brothers but they were three and Val didn’t know how to select one without hurting the feelings of the rest. They didn’t like the fact that Val had asked Vin to be his best man too much, but they hadn’t said anything. They all knew that Vin and Val considered each other as if they were blood brothers since they were kids. Besides, Valentino’s brothers knew how much Vin had been helping Val over the years.
All of a sudden, Vin’s gaze rested on one last guest that used that very same second to enter the church, making his way to one of the sides, searching for a free seat. Vin narrowed his eyes slightly as he felt his blood boiling in a second flat within his veins.
He already knew that Val’s cousin would be present at this wedding because Val had told him. Secretly, Vin had feared the second in which Luna and Roberto would see each other again, unable to get over the fact that Val’s cousin had been the only man Luna had shown interest apart from himself.
It was true that Luna was now his wife and that Roberto didn’t have a chance but Vin didn’t like it one damn bit that Val’s cousin would be around. And Vin found himself tightening his jaw hard as he followed every single move Roberto made.
As if the Dominican doctor had been able to feel Vin’s intense gaze boring holes in him, he lifted his head slightly and met Vin’s eyes.
Roberto chuckled and nodded, greeting Vin. In response Vin nodded back but at the same time a low warning growl passed his lips. He would keep an eye on Roberto, just in case.
“Vin? What time is it, man?”
Val’s nervous voice brought Vin back to the here and now. “Almost one o’clock. Why?” Vin replied returning his attention to Val but not before he shot a cold glare at Roberto who ignored it.
“There’s something wrong, Vin. I can feel it.” Val’s voice shook a little as he let out a heavy sigh.
“There’s nothing wrong, Val. Relax, bro. You know brides always show up late.” Vin said, doing his best to keep his own voice devoid of any concern even though he didn’t feel that way. “You know how women are when they have to get ready, man. They lose track of time and Renee is not an exception.” He teased, squeezing Val’s shoulder.
“Okay…” Val nodded but he was starting to panic. What if Renee had changed her mind and she didn’t want to marry him anymore? “Vin? What if Renee…” Val trailed off, meeting Vin’s calm gaze.
“Hey! Don’t start panicking again, Morales or I’ll kick your fat ass, got it?” Vin replied firmly. “Renee will marry you today and you will live happily ever after, okay?” he added not living Val room to complain.
“Okay…” Val whispered, forcing a smile.
All of a sudden he was terrified and his most dreadful nightmare was grabbing a hold of him damn fast.
Don’t go there, Val. Renee loves you and you love her and everything will go great, Val said silently, taking a deep breath and exhaling the air slowly. Yeah, that’s it. Just breathe and when you least expect it, Renee will show up in her wedding dress to marry you.
Vin turned around and headed towards Paul and Peter, asking them to go check what was going on and why the hell Renee wasn’t already at the alter, getting married with Val.
“Oh my God!” Nila exclaimed when she saw all the petals spread all over the floor inside the small room. Then she turned to meet her kids’ ashamed faces. “You two are something else. I can’t believe you both acted this way.” She scolded them. “You should be ashamed of your behavior.” Nila added seriously.
Adiana and Chris looked at each other and then back to their mother.
“I’m sorry, mommy.” They both said at unison.
Nila sighed hard, trying to calm herself and then spoke. “You can start picking up those petals like right now before your aunt Renee sees it.” Nila said without leaving room for complaints. If she leaves that stall, that is. She added silently.
“Yes, mommy.” Both kids replied and after glaring at each other they started picking up all the rose petals, putting them back in the baskets.
A soft knock on the door made Nila snap her head up and she opened the door, finding Peter and Paul.
“What do you want now?” Nila snapped causing Peter to blink and her husband to take a step back.
“In case you don’t know we are supposed to attend a wedding but the bride hasn’t shown up yet.” Paul answered grinning. “People are starting to ask what’s going on, you know?”
“Thanks for the update, Paul. I hadn’t noticed myself.” Nila hissed, anger in her voice.
“Hey, we’re just the messengers.” Paul said as he lifted his hands in a gesture of surrender.
“Mark sent us to see what the problem was.” Peter supplied, concern in his voice. “Val is getting very nervous.” He explained calmly.
“Well, Renee is already very nervous and she’s saying she’s not getting married.” Nila whispered.
“Damn!” Peter said, shaking his head.
“What?!” Irving’s voice sounded behind them.
Peter and Paul both jumped slightly. The man hadn’t made a single sound at all. They hadn’t even noticed he was behind them.
“Okay, let me in.” Irving said firmly as he pushed the door open.
“Wait!” Nila exclaimed, getting on his way. “You can’t enter like that. Renee is not even dressed.” She whispered, holding his gaze.
Irving rolled his eyes. “Come on, Nila. She’s not naked either. Now let me in.” He answered and without giving his daughter in law a chance to say anything else, Irving entered the small room, making his way to the bathroom.
He came to a dead stop as soon as he saw the image on display. Delora, Samantha and Luna were surrounding the door of the small stall, talking with Renee and he could hear Renee crying at the other side.
Irving cleared his throat and the three women turned their attention to him at once.
“Okay, ladies, if you excuse me, I have to talk with Renee.” He said firmly.
The three women looked at each other and rolled their eyes, sighing. Nothing that Irving could say at this point was going to make Renee to get out of that stall. They had already said everything and nothing had served at all.
“Irving?” Renee breathed as her eyes widened completely.
“Yeah, blondie, in the flesh and bones.” Irving replied as he gestured with his head for Delora, Samantha and Luna to leave them alone.
They shared silent glances and obliged. There was nothing to lose by letting him try and get Renee out of there without incident. The three women left the bathroom and Irving closed the door.
“What are you doing here?” Renee asked softly. Irving smiled a little.
“I wanted to tell you something.” He said gently. “But I refuse to talk with a door.” Irving added as he leaned against the wall.
Renee’s eyes widened in shock as she glanced down at herself. She wasn’t naked but she wasn’t dressed either.
She was wearing silky lingerie that consisted of a bustier, thong, garter belt and stockings. She was also wearing her wedding shoes.
“But…but I’m not dressed…” Renee breathed, feeling her cheeks turning red in a flash.
Irving chuckled. “Are you naked?” He asked seriously.
Renee swallowed hard. “N-no…but I’m just wearing my wedding lingerie.”
In response Irving grinned, shaking his head. “All the better, that way you will brighten up an old man’s gaze.” He teased her and Renee stifled her laughter.
“You’re such a perv, Irving.” Renee giggled, shaking her head.
“And you are only realizing that now, young lady?” He asked in a teasing tone of voice.
Renee laughed a little and slowly she opened the door of the stall, peering out.
Irving smiled warmly as soon as he saw Renee’s face. Her nose was red, her eyes were puffed and her cheeks were stained with black narrow lines caused by the tears mixed with the mascara.
“Why are you so scared, Renee?” Irving asked her as he leaned against the wall.
Renee chewed her bottom lip nervously and looked down. “I’m thinking I’m not good enough for Val. He’s so damn sweet and decent and I fear I’m not going to meet his expectations…” She whispered hoarsely. In response Irving knit a brow but he kept silent, waiting for Renee to be done answering. “What if we don’t get along? What if we start fighting over everything? What if he realizes that he made a mistake, asking me to marry him?” She added, blinking fresh tears. “I already know he’s in love with me and I’m in love with him but…what if things turn out to be different once we take this step?”
Irving sighed softly as he moved forward a couple of steps and slowly he lifted Renee’s chin, meeting her teary gaze.
“I’m going to tell you something about Val but you have to promise me you won’t tell him, ever.” Irving said gently as he stroked Renee’s cheek.
In response, she swallowed hard and nodded ‘yes’, blinking her tears away. “I promise.” She whispered. Irving nodded solemnly and cleared his throat.
“You know Valentino never really met his dad because he abandoned his mom when Val was one year old. So when he and Mark became friends, Val started watching me like some kind of father figure and he always came to me in search of guidance and advice over the years because he trusts me.” Irving paused for a second and Renee nodded ‘yes.
She already knew that Val considered Irving as a father and that Irving always treated Val exactly the same as he treated Vin or Paul. Scolding him when it was needed or praising him when the occasion required. But above everything, showing Val his respect, support and love.
“Valentino is a decent man, that’s true and his heart is worth Val’s weight in gold. But he is not perfect, Renee, and you know that as well as I do…You are not perfect either but nobody is.” Irving fixed his serious gaze on Renee and then continued. “He didn’t have a lot of chances to make a reality of his ultimate dreams because of his modest origins. And even though he has been working hard since he was sixteen years old, he will always know that most people will look at him over their shoulders because those same origins.” He explained, without taking his gaze off Renee’s. “Over the years, Valentino has been trying again and again to get something worthwhile and lasting in his life. He tried to become a professional boxer and he was damn good, but not good enough to make a living of it… Later he tried to become an actor and after that he tried to become a director but we both know Vin Diesel’s shadow is so damn large that Valentino won’t have a chance anytime soon. At least until that movie, ‘Seth’ is done.”
Renee’s eyes filled with fresh tears that rolled down her cheeks, wetting Irving’s fingers. He smiled sadly and wiped them away with his thumbs.
“Deep down, Val always felt as if he was a failure and he always considered himself as a second class person who wouldn’t get anything valuable…until he found you, Renee…You are his biggest success; you are the only worthwhile thing he’s got in his life after so many years.” Irving whispered, his eyes flickering to hers. “That big Latino is terrified, Renee but he’s standing at that alter, reading his vows for the ninth time, waiting for the only thing he has loved above everything else in his life to join him… Don’t you think he waited enough already?” He asked her, tilting his head to one side.
Renee nodded ‘yes’ and slowly she opened the door of the stall, throwing herself into Irving’s open arms.
“Thank you, Irving…” Renee breathed, kissing his cheek as she hugged him tightly. Irving chuckled and hugged her back.
They were like that for a long moment until Irving spoke again.
“I always knew you were natural blonde.” He whispered, grinning causing Renee to gasp, slapping playfully his back.