Authors: D.M. Hamblin
Tags: #General Fiction
Copyright 2016, by D.M. Hamblin. All Rights Reserved.
Library of Congress Case No. 1-3344557851
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events are merely coincidental.
No part of this book may be produced or used in any manner without express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
In Memory of
Jacqueline Frances Lazare-Dunne
With gratitude for all of my life’s adversities that led to the creation and publication of this novel.
Special thanks to my family and friends whose support, enthusiasm and input helped shape and deepen the plotline: Deb Sorensen, Mary Katherine Apholt, Alicia Annunciata, Darcy Sullivan, Jackie Everett, Amy Marshall Mancini, Kara Kamrowski Roux, Rhonda Levy, Colleen McCarthy Burnham, Dolores Wilson, Maureen Meany, Meredith Furhman Smith, and Sara Hinteregger. And thanks to all my family - immediate and extended - and friends who waited patiently in the wings, rooting me on. I love you all.
To my editor, Beverly Ehrman, my greatest appreciation for your expertise, magic touch and encouragement.
To my husband Jim, thank you for your unwavering belief in me and steadfast companionship through the twists and turns of the past twenty years.
And to my daughter, Darlene Umina, my best friend and my inspiration. You changed my life the day you were born and became my life’s greatest gift. LYT.
July 24, 1993
adiant in her white wedding gown, as if this were the first time she would be wed, Carmella Russo was not a traditional blushing bride. Camouflaged behind a lacy white veil, her blazing hazel eyes sparked against her apricot skin. Her heart replete with vengeful satisfaction, Carmella rejoiced.
Soon I, not Jackie, will be Mrs. Tony Salvucci.
Vince Russo, slumped next to his daughter in the white stretch limousine, looked older than his sixty-two years. His wrinkled complexion reflected the toll paid for his heavy smoking, excessive drinking, and the degradation of tolerating the tantrums of the women he lived with. Vince decided it was a dismal day for a wedding.
It’s pretty symbolic of this union—Tony and Carmella!
Vince prayed the rain would wait until after they entered the church. Carmella would erupt should her wedding attire become the least bit soiled prior to her grand entrance.
The limousine turned into the semicircular driveway approaching St. Catherine’s Church. Emerald-green lawns and stately blue spruces scattered among the tall oaks enhanced the elegance of the large stone church, despite the gray shadows and blackened sky. As the car came to a stop, Vince glanced at the threatening clouds. Turning back, he took his daughter’s hand as she confidently stepped from the car.
Tony Salvucci leaned against the wall in the vestibule, tapping his foot. His best man, Luke Jackson, stood next to him. Tony’s height, wavy ebony hair, and steel-blue eyes remained striking, even with the ensemble Carmella had chosen for him—a brown tuxedo, white shirt with brown-trimmed ruffles, and a baby-blue cummerbund and bow tie. The white-rose boutonniere on Tony’s lapel provided the only sophistication. Carmella’s fashion sense had never left the 1970s, which did not flatter Luke either. The best man stood almost a foot shorter than Tony and had cobalt eyes, blonde curls, and scattered freckles.
Luke watched as Tony paced the floor, and recalled an earlier conversation in which he had questioned Tony’s marriage motives. “I love her,” Tony had insisted. But Luke was not a foolish man. He knew conniving Carmella was not Tony’s type
“Carmella takes good care of me,” Tony said in response to his friend’s concerns. “She’s got my back. And she’s so much easier to deal with than Jackie. I mean I know she’s intense—”
? She’s insane!”
“Ah, she has her moments but I know how to handle her.”
“An insane person is easier to deal with than a sane one?”
“I don’t expect you to understand, Luke, but marrying Carmella is the right thing for me.”
Luke didn’t understand; nevertheless, he agreed to stand up for his best friend although he feared that marrying Carmella would be the biggest mistake of Tony’s life.
Tony gazed at the church pews, reassuring himself that this marriage was the right thing. He was approaching forty years old and all of his friends were married or getting married. He needed to move forward as well. As an only child, he was accustomed to being waited on by his parents and Carmella had that same propensity. He barely considered a need before it was fulfilled. And being married to Carmella would erase the guilt from the past. Yes, it was the right thing to do.
Louie Salvucci entered the vestibule sporting the same tux as his son, except with a blue-carnation boutonniere. “I was out having a smoke and let me tell ya, there are some threatening clouds out there.”
“Dad, you gotta give those things up. They’ll kill ya.”
“Ah, I know. But Christ I love my cigarettes! Wish I could give them up like you did.” Putting his arm around his son’s shoulder, he asked in his raspy voice, “Sure you want to go through with this, son?”
“Of course I do, Dad!” Tony’s body stiffened. “Why does everyone keep asking me that?”
“Okay, relax. The processional is about to start and your mother’s waiting for me. I love you, son. I hope this’ll make you happy.” Louie hugged his son, following with two claps on his back.
Tony and Luke took their places at the altar. Luke tapped Tony’s arm and whispered, “Best of luck, man.” Both men knew it wasn’t meant in jest.
Carmella’s haughtiness had not granted her a multitude of friends, which was reflected in the selection of bridesmaids—not one could be counted as a friend. The bridal entourage consisted of three of Tony’s cousins; Carmella’s identical twin sister, Katrina, served as maid of honor.
As the wedding march blew out of the organ, the bridal party walked down the aisle, passing the one hundred twenty-five guests. Each bridesmaid, holding a white basket of daisies, wore a cap-sleeve, V-neck, baby-blue gown, with teeny puffs of baby-blue veil posing as a headpiece. Carrying a basket of daisies sprinkled with blue carnations, Katrina preceded her sister. Katrina was a striking maid of honor, even dressed in an unflattering beige gown in the same style as the bridesmaids’ dresses, with a teeny puff of beige veil perched precariously upon her cropped auburn hair. Like Carmella, her apricot complexion glowed and her hazel eyes sparkled.
Carmella followed, wearing a white scoop-neck satin gown with long lace sleeves dotted with sequins and pearls. A satin train trailed behind her. Over her right shoulder, her auburn hair hung in a wide banana curl. The lacy veil covering her sharp facial features was draped over the stark white veil crowning her head. Holding a bouquet of blue carnations and white roses, the striking bride walked down the aisle, enjoying the attention she knew she was attracting.
Anna Salvucci stood beside her husband looking exquisite in her royal-blue shantung suit. The blue sheen flattered her bobbed silver hair and her steel-blue eyes she had passed on to her son. As the bride glided by, Louie nudged his wife. “So, guess I’ll be paying the boys at the track. I never thought he’d go through with it.”
Anna offered a sad smile to her husband as she contemplated the mood of the day.
Tony has finally chosen a bride. It should be a happy day; it is a happy day! But must his bride be Carmella?
Anna would treat Carmella with the respect due a daughter-in-law, yet the love she felt for a daughter-in-law would forever belong to Jackie.
This could have been a happier day, if only…
Louie’s characteristic nervous energy was a notch higher today, and his face appeared pallid against his salt-and-pepper hair. The fact that Carmella was becoming his daughter-in-law settled uncomfortably in his mind.
Vince Russo bent to kiss his daughter at the foot of the altar. Carmella and Tony joined hands and proceeded to the center of the altar. Katrina and Luke stood on either side of them. Father Bolton began the ceremony.
“Ladies and gentlemen, family and friends, we are gathered here today to celebrate the love between Carmella Marie Russo and Anthony James Salvucci, and to unite them in Holy Matrimony…”
“…Will you accept children freely from God?”
“I will,” Carmella said, determined that Tony would love their children.
. The word echoed in Tony’s mind. “I will.” His voice was a whisper.
“Do you, Carmella Marie Russo, take this man, Anthony James Salvucci, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, in sickness and health, for richer or for poorer, until death do you part?”
Carmella’s flashing hazel eyes locked on Tony’s piercing blue eyes. “I do.”
Her vow was accentuated by a sudden clap of thunder that rocked the church. Violent gusts of wind howled. The storm unleashed its fury.
The explosive thunder startled Jackie Martin and her daughter Gina as they were driving to the Natick Mall. Since Gina’s birth, fourteen years ago, she illuminated Jackie’s life.
“Geez Mom, did you see that lightning? And that thunder was frightening! Maybe we should’ve waited for this to blow over to leave for the mall.”
“You’re right, maybe we should’ve waited. But I had to get out of the house.”
“What’s up with you today? You’re a wreck. You forgot your pocketbook of all things and we had to go back. That’s not at all like you.”
“I’m distracted by a case I’m working on,” Jackie lied. Why is this wedding bothering me so much? Could I possibly still love him after all that’s happened? Her thoughts were haywire. She imagined the happy bride and groom. He must look handsome—Tony always does.
Jackie was startled by Gina’s scream. “Mom! Geez, you ran that red light!”
“I did? Are you sure?”
“Yes!” Gina put one hand on her heart.
“Do you, Anthony James Salvucci, take this woman, Carmella Marie Russo, to be your lawfully wedded wife to have and to hold from this day forward, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, until death do you part?”
As Jackie pulled into a space in the parking garage, Gina looked at her mom with concern. “Mom, you’re
okay. I don’t care what you say.”
“Sure, I am.” Jackie grabbed her pocketbook.
“I don’t believe you. Don’t tell me this wedding is bugging you. You know the guy’s a jerk. He’s my father and I don’t care if he’s marrying that crazy woman. It shouldn’t bother you!”
“Yeah, I know. It’s that—”
“Nothing. Honey, I’m fine.” Jackie took a moment to swallow the lump in her throat.
It’s that I wanted to be a bride,
she admitted to herself.
She grabbed her daughter’s arm. “Let’s shop!”
“I announce to you, for the first time, Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Salvucci.”
Guests applauded. Louie and Anna Salvucci exchanged looks of resignation. Tony and Carmella shared their first kiss as a married couple, linked arms, and proceeded up the aisle as husband and wife. Carmella’s air of victory was palpable.
ackie Martin was a typical middle child, lost in the shuffle. In her early childhood, Jackie’s father was her greatest source of love and stability. At the sight of his red ’62 Rambler station wagon coming around the corner, she’d dash to greet him, hoping to be the first kid to leap into his arms. Jackie adored her father and reveled in his presence.