“Let me grab a washcloth,” he said as he pushed off the bed.
I grabbed his arm, stopping him. “Let me. I’m dying to brush my teeth. I want a proper kiss.” I smiled at him, trying not to run my tongue across my dirty teeth.
He collapsed against the mattress, staring up at the ceiling as he rested his hand on his chest. “I’ll be waiting.” He grabbed my arm with his free hand, sliding his palm down my arm. “Make it quick,” he said with a crooked, happy smile.
I groaned as my feet touched the floor. The after effects of an evening of overindulgence and wicked high heels, hit me. I swayed, grabbing the mattress to steady myself.
“You okay, sugar?” City asked as he sat up and touched my hand.
“Fine, baby. Just not as young as I used to be. Can’t party all night and bounce right back.”
“I doubt you partied all night too much even in your college years.” He laughed, covered his mouth with his hand.
“I didn’t sit in my dorm room and study all the time,” I said sarcastically. It was all bullshit. I rarely partied. The number of times I had been drunk in college I could count on one hand, but sometimes I didn’t like to be reminded of just how much of a good girl I had been.
“Uh, huh,” he said, resting his head on his hand as he watched me walk away.
I flipped him off, a small chuckle escaping my lips. He knew me too well. Knew I could never escape my good girl qualities even though I liked to pretend I had a badass side. I knew I was a cream puff and I accepted it even though I did so begrudgingly.
My mascara was smeared down my cheeks, the result of my crying last night over City. I looked as bad as I felt. My hair was a tangled mess, makeup half on but not in the right places, and my eyes were swollen. Thank God the wedding wasn’t today. I’d have to live with horrible wedding pictures for the rest of my life.
Grabbing the tube of toothpaste out of my toiletry bag, I stood on my tiptoes and leaned into the mirror. Shit, I looked horrible. I quickly backed up not needing the up-close reminder of last night. After washing him from my body, I filled my toothbrush with paste. I needed to clear the funk out of my mouth. My mouth felt drier than the Mojave Desert on a blistering summer day. Just as I stuck the toothbrush in my mouth and started scrubbing, I heard my phone chirp.
“Suzy, your mother sent you a text,” City yelled from the bedroom.
Fucking great. I loved my mom but she added an extra bit of pressure and stress to an already nerve-racking situation. Weddings are supposed to be blissful but no one seems to tell you about all the turmoil and decisions that need to be made. My mother could be judgmental at times and I often felt like my decisions weren’t good enough.
I pulled the toothbrush out of my mouth, balancing the paste remnants on my tongue as I yelled, “What’s it say?”
I scrubbed my teeth, my motions more feverish at the thought of my parents being in town. She always watched City with a suspicious eye when she didn’t know I was looking. She was happy that he had money, although it wasn’t the reason I fell in love with the man. I would’ve been with him even if he were only a tattoo artists. It’s a good job and he’s talented. She couldn’t get beyond his looks. He had a roughness about him and the tattoos didn’t exactly win him any points in her mind. She’d bust a cork if she knew about the piercing that decorated his lower extremity or if she ever found out that I had my nipple pierced.
“She just wants to know if she should be at the rehearsal dinner early to help.”
I spit the toothpaste into the sink, cupping water in my hand and swishing. The last thing I wanted was my mother there for her type of help. Everything was ready and all we needed to do was show up, including her and my father.
I washed my face quickly, erasing the nightmarish mess from the smudged makeup before returning to the bedroom.
“She’s become such a pain the last few months,” I said as I crawled in bed.
“She’s still your mom and she loves you,” he said, grabbing my hand, planting soft kisses across the top.
“You grew up with a different type of mother, City. You’re mom has made me feel more like a daughter than my mother ever did. Don’t get me wrong, I love her, but she doesn’t know how to make me feel loved.” I closed my eyes when they watered as I thought about what it would’ve been like to grow up calling Mrs. Gallo Mom. I always felt like my parents had to fit me into their schedule and often there wasn’t a slot for me unless I had called in advanced.
“Let’s just get through the next thirty-six hours and everything will go back to normal. You have the Gallo family now and they’re not letting you go.”
I’d felt like a member of the family since that first Sunday dinner so long ago. They made me feel like I belonged and had always been there. My sister and I had never even really been close. I didn’t ask her to be a part of my wedding party. Izzy had become more of a sister to me than she ever had. We don’t get to choose our family, but we do choose those people who we let into our life and with who we spend time with going forward. For me, the people I wanted nearest were the Gallos. They were a loving and diehard loyal group. Above all else, they had each other’s backs and no one could tear them apart. They accepted each other for their flaws, embraced the bad with the good, and loved unconditionally.
“We should go soon. I have a ton to do before the rehearsal dinner tonight.” I snuggled into his side, enjoying the last moment of peace.
He pulled me tighter against his chest, rubbing the tender skin on my upper arm as he kissed my hair. “It’ll all work out. Somehow it will all fall into place.”
“I’m sure you’re right.” That statement was a total lie. I couldn’t give up my incessant need to be in control and plan every last detail.
“You can’t control everything in life, but I know you try like hell. It’s one of the things I love about you.”
“Tell me five other things you love, City.” I swiped my fingers across his chest, stopping on his nipple to tug on his piercing.
“Where do I start?” he said before rattling off a list that left me feeling more loved than I had ever felt before. The list wasn’t filled with vain things like my beauty that would fade over time, but the things that made me as a person. My success, education, kind heart, and silliness were just a couple things he listed without much thought.
“I love you, City,” I said, moving my body to plant a wet sloppy kiss on his lips.
Breaking our connection slightly he whispered, “I love you too, sugar.” He kissed me with as much fervor and passion as he did the first night we met.
We made love one more time before dragging ourselves from the hotel room and heading home to prep for the chaos that awaited us. Wedding weekend was in full swing and there was no turning back.
Chapter 10 ~Never Say Never
Never in a million fucking years did I think I’d be standing in a church dressed in a tuxedo, not as a groom at least. I wasn’t a cynic. I just never found anyone worthy of my time or commitment until Suzy walked into my life. Sometimes when we least expect it and stop looking, fate has a way of playing its hand. Mine came in the form of a drop dead gorgeous girl broken down on a deserted street. I thank my lucky stars each God damn day that her car was a piece of shit.
“You look a little nervous, son,” Pop said, slapping me on the back, pulling me from my thoughts.
I rubbed my hands together; they slid easy from the sheen of sweat that formed over my entire body. I wiped my brow, feeling more nervous than I had ever felt in my life. “I am, Pop. Just never thought I’d be standing here.”
“Amazing the place hasn’t burst into flames,” Anthony said and laughed. “We surely aren’t the church going crowd and Lord knows we’ve broken more than one commandment.” He fidgeted with his bowtie, pulling it away from his neck.
I laughed, his words were true, but that wasn’t why I was nervous. I turned to my Pop who had a smile on his face. “Did you feel this way when
you married Ma?”
He nodded, his smile growing larger. “I was scared as hell, son. It’s a big step to take in one’s life. It’s a serious commitment, but times are different now. I didn’t live with your mother before we got married like you’ve lived with Suzy. It was a leap of faith.” He grabbed my shoulder, squeezing it gently. “Do you love her, son? The type of love you can’t be without for even a day?”
“I do, Pop. I know she’s the one. She makes me a better person, and I want to be surrounded by her and make a family. I want to be in your shoes one day. Suzy is more than I deserve.”
“She isn’t more than you deserve. You two were made for each other. Just like your mother and me. She brings peace and tranquility to my life and gave me an amazing family. My life would’ve been meaningless without her.”
I didn’t doubt that marrying Suzy was the right decision. The events of Friday night scared the shit out of me. The thought of losing her drove me half-insane. I’ve never wanted to need someone in that way, but I did with her. I needed her in my life, needed her to be mine, and wanted to spend the rest of my days on earth with her.
The door creaked open, as Ma poked her head inside. “Where’s my baby boy?” she asked, opening the door with tears in her eyes.
“Why ya crying, Ma?” I asked, as she wiped the tears.
“Damn, I’m going to mess up my makeup.” She pulled a tissue from her bra and blotted the skin under her eyes. “I just saw Suzy and she looks stunning. I’m the happiest woman in the world today. They’re tears of joy.”
“How is she, Ma? Is she okay?” My heart pounded, my throat feeling constricted by the button up shirt.
“She’s better than okay, she’s glowing and ready for the ceremony to start.” Ma wrapped her arms around me, holding me against her as she spoke. “You’ve made me a happy woman, Joseph. I couldn’t love Suzy any more than I do if I had given birth to her myself.” She rubbed my back as she kissed my cheek.
“You just have baby Gallos in your mind, Ma,” Michael said as he kicked back in a chair against the wall. He looked so put together and calm.
“So what?” she asked as she placed her hands on her hips and turned toward Michael. “I’m old, boy and all I want is a baby…just one damn baby. Is that too much to ask?”
“Not really, Ma, but it’ll happen when it happens. We’re still young and enjoying our life,” Michael said, leaning forward resting his elbows on his knees.