Four years later
Carlo couldn’t help but notice that Vittoria was on edge, even more so than he would expect on their wedding day. The feeling was strengthened when he walked up behind her and put a hand on her shoulder. She started and he saw her hand reach for the knife she didn’t carry today, but then she saw it was just him.
Sighing in relief, she leaned back against his chest and smiled.
“Isn’t it bad luck to see me before the wedding?”
“We’ve been living in sin for four years, and you’re worrying about tradition now?”
“Nobody has to know that. We’ll hide the evidence.”
“You mean the kids?”
She laughed. “Kids. Evidence. Same, same.”
He pressed a kiss to her cheek.
“What’s the matter?”
She glanced at him with a smile, but she couldn’t hide the tension in her shoulders.
“Do you think we have enough chairs?”
“Yes.” Carlo rolled his eyes. “And you don’t give a damn about chairs. What’s the matter?”
She lowered her voice and let her eyes wander, though her smile never dropped. “I think someone’s been watching me.”
“A day or two.”
Carlo spun her around and gave her a kiss, taking the chance to look over her shoulder, but he didn’t see anyone. Nobody by the house, in the garden, the hills in the distance.
“I’ll have the guys do a round, just to be safe.”
“If you let me carry my dagger, I wouldn’t need that.”
“Where exactly?” He said, looking down her tight dress. “Besides, Camillo’s bringing his wife. His very normal, non-criminal wife. Maybe we should try not to freak her out?”
She shrugged. “I guess. But I haven’t snapped anyone’s neck in ages, so if somebody jumps me, I’m not sure I can…”
He lifted her face up to his. “You won’t have to. There are going to be more guns than people at this party. If worst comes to worst, and anybody tries to hurt you or the kids, I’ll snap their necks personally, if I have to.”
“Who said romance is dead?”
Vittoria kissed him again, and the effect it had on him was as strong as it had been the first time. There was a time when he had been afraid of getting tired of this, but she kept finding ways of proving him wrong. He snaked an arm around her waist and was about to go in for another kiss, when a voice interrupted him.
They both turned to see Camillo walking down the path with a big smile on his face. The other guests weren’t far behind.
The party slowed down, and Vittoria found herself increasingly looking over her shoulder. While saying their vows and dancing and talking to everyone, she could forget it, but now it was back. The small hairs on the back of her neck stood on edge.
Vittoria started and looked at Simona. Camillo’s wife had come up next to her so quietly, she hadn’t noticed her until now.
“I… didn’t hear you?”
She put a hand on Vittoria’s shoulder and looked at her sympathetically. “I’m so sorry. You must be pretty dead by now. I was asking about Giulio. Is he walking yet?”
“Oh, yes,” she said, pushing the feeling down. “All over the place, it’s horrible. And Gina eats socks, so that’s nice.”
Simona laughed. “Oh, wow. It’s incredible how fast it goes.”
She let the words trail off and stared into the darkness. There it was again. Faint movement in the distance, or rustling in the bushes? With the garden lit up like this, everything beyond the light was thick, inky blackness.
“Are you okay?” Simona asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.
For the hundredth time that day, she jumped when Carlo put a hand on her waist.
“Mind if butt in?” he asked.
Simona nodded and went looking for Camillo, while Carlo led Vittoria to the dance floor. It still whirled in her head, and she kept casting her head in the direction of what she thought she had seen.
“Darling, look at me,” he said, leading her around the dancefloor. “Franco’s searching the grounds again. It’s all under control.”
“I can handle this myself.”
“I know, but you don’t have to. It’s your wedding.”
“Which is why I’m not searching the grounds right now. Let him handle it.”
He rested his forehead against hers and she let herself relax against him. He moved her in lazy circles, not in tune to the music, not in any kind of rhythm while he softly hummed in tune to the music.
She had gotten used to him by now, but it was still almost startling how he looked her in the eyes. Even more so when she noticed that his eyes were glazed over.
She looked away.
“Darling,” he said, gently lifting her chin. “I love you.”
Her eyes fell again. It wasn’t the first time he said it and like the last time, the words that were supposed to follow escaped her. She was always left feeling like an actress without a script, thrown into a production where she had no place. It took all her strength to look him in the eyes again. Now would be a good time to get over the hang-ups.
It was only the two of them, with nobody else around to comment, and it was their damn wedding day. Wasn’t this what any other woman would dream about? She had risked her safety to help him and she got sick to her stomach at the thought of being away from him, so why didn’t she just open her fucking mouth and say it?
He wasn’t impatient. He kept swaying gently, waiting, and the smile never left his face.
Vittoria took a deep breath, and Franco’s voice rang out:
“Found the spy, Carl.”
“I knew it!”
She twisted away and ran towards Franco’s voice, with Carlo following close behind. He held her back, as his partner came in to view, struggling with something. There were no gunshots, though, and she was surprised to hear a voice that sounded less like a male assassin and more like a… kid.
“Let go of me, you ruffian!”
Her eyes struggled to adjust to the dark, but when Franco came near, she could see that she hadn’t just been hearing things.
Dangling under Franco’s left arm was a small girl, flailing her arms and screaming for the ‘ruffian’ to let go of her. She must be no older than ten, though her vocabulary was interesting for a kid her age.
“I think she’s the one who’s been lurking on the property all day,” Franco said, struggling to keep the kid still.
“Two days, I think,” Vittoria said, raising her voice to be heard over the girl’s screams.
At the sound of her voice, the kid suddenly went still and then looked up with a grin.
“Lisa! It is you!”
Author’s notes: Hi guyyyys! Welcome to chapter nine and welcome to a massive old time skip. I wanted to skip ahead all along, though originally, I was going to be showing a bit more of what happened in those years, but it didn’t work for me. I wasn’t able to even imagine how to take it forward before I decided to cut it out. That means, of course, that I have quite a few details to catch you up on – such as those fabled kids they keep talking about. Don’t worry – they will appear 🙂
Bonus pictures of the wedding: