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|Throttled(Men of Inked #3) by Chelle Bliss|
“If you haven’t, then no one will, Izzy,” Anthony said with a laugh.
“Enough. Let’s take some photos. We have five minutes until you boys need to be at the altar.”
Five minutes felt like an eternity as we took more pictures than I wanted to count. My line of sight would have a perpetual dot from the camera flash. By the end of the night, I’d have dozens of tiny blobs in my eyes and possibly be partially blind. We took photos as a group, the Gallo Family minus Thomas. We took turns taking pictures with our parents; it wasn’t often that we were all dressed up and in one place together.
I was thankful when there was a knock on the door and a voice said, “It’s time.”
Cracking my neck, I straightened my back and headed for the door. Ma grabbed my arm, stopping me. “I’m proud of you, baby.” She smiled and released me.
I nodded, leaving the tiny room and heading toward the church. Anthony and Michael filled in behind me as we stood in our designated spot at the top of the altar in front of the crowd. The church was packed with people, many faces I didn’t know. Ma and Suzy went overboard on the invites, but my mother insisted that her friends be invited besides our gigantic family that had flown in from all parts of the world. The Gallos didn’t know how to do anything small.
As the music started, the doors in the back of the church swung open and the entire church stood and turned. The attention no longer on me, I squinted down the aisle, catching a glimpse of Suzy. She looked like an angel dressed in off white.
The tulle straps created a V, encasing her br**sts. The fact that I knew the word tulle disturbed me slightly, but Suzy had educated me about bridal fashion…whether I wanted to know it or not. The bodice was form fitting, a wide ribbon around her waist held a large fabric flower just below her left breast. The bottom of the dress was loose with layers of tulle that flowed and shifted as she walked. It wasn’t over the top of puffy shit, it was perfect and totally Suzy—classy and sweet. I couldn’t wait to rip the f**king thing off of her. A veil covered her face, more traditional than I thought she’d be. I desperately wanted to see her.
She walked arm and arm with her father, slowly moving down the aisle, facing forward. I rubbed my hands together, the last bit of nerves leaving my body, replaced by excitement and a calm that I hadn’t expected. When she stopped in front of the first step, our eyes connected. Through the thin veil, I could see the smile on her face as the priest approached her and her father.
The priest stepped down and said, “Who gives this bride away today?”
“I do,” her father said, releasing her hand and lifting her veil. He placed a chaste kiss on her cheek before stepping back.
Suzy ascended the stairs, stopping in front of me with teary eyes.
“I love you,” I whispered, trying not to become misty eyed myself.
With a smile on her face, she tilted her head and said, “I love you too.”
Sophia reached around and grabbed the flowers from her. Suzy held her hands out to me and I grasped them with both of mine and squeezed. With one last smile, we turned toward the priest and waited.
We stole glances at each other as he spoke; his words were lost on us. With our hands in each other’s, we faced forward and tried to pay attention, but it was impossible. I leaned over; close enough for only her to hear. “You look beautiful, sugar.”
She blushed, squeezing my hand. The priest cleared his throat; clearly, we missed something, as we were so lost in each other.
“The rings,” the priest repeated.
I turned to Michael, my best man and brother, and held out my hand. He placed the two platinum bands in my palm and I closed my fingers around them. I had hers engraved with – You’re mine, sugar. A simple statement and she was from the moment she walked into my life. I handed him the rings and we watched him bless the metal, saying a prayer over them before returning his attention to us.
“Suzette, repeat after me,” he stated, turning toward her.
“I, Suzette McCarthy, take you, Joseph Gallo…” She repeated his words, never breaking eye contact with me. She slid the ring on my finger, a smile on her face, as we both felt the power in the moment. Her voice never wavered as she finished with “Until death do us part.” She wiped a tear from her eye as she finished. I had to fight every urge I had to wrap my arms around her and kiss her.
“Joseph, repeat after me,” the priest said, holding her ring in his hand.
I repeated the words, without missing a single one, letting the powerfulness behind the statement seep into my veins. We were connected, a single soul in front of the eyes of God, joined in holy matrimony. We never broke eye contact, keeping each other grounded in the moment.
As I slipped the ring on her finger, I held her hand in mine, running my fingertips against her dampened flesh. We stood there for a few more minutes after I finished my part of the vows and stared at each other. He could’ve said the church was on fire and we wouldn’t have known. I always looked at Suzy, usually watched her sleep, but to stand here and just look into each other’s eyes was some heady shit. I loved this woman, more than I loved anyone or anything in my life, including myself.
“I give you Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Gallo,” he said as we both turned to him. “You may now kiss the bride.”
Without needing another word, I grabbed her by the waist and pulled her to my body. Stopping briefly above her lips, I searched her eyes and could see only joy. I crushed my lips to hers as the crowd began to whistle and holler in the background. They’re voices faded away as I kissed her, my wife and bride.