Vince and Billy are getting married. All their friends will be there, so it’s bound to be exciting. Add in some family members who may, or may not, be associated with the Mafia, Connor’s new boyfriend—who is a complete ass—and Vince’s cousin, Angel, heir to the family business but far more suited to life in a small village in rural Italy, and you have an explosive mix that will challenge all the friends to the mix.
The mid-April sky had fallen to a perfect velvet black with dots of stars punching through the fabric. Joey’s house was suburban, so much on the edge it smacked of rural living, or as close to rural as it was possible to get.
Vince breathed in the fresh, crisp night air and hoisted Billy higher on his lap. Billy had slipped a little when he reached out to toast a marshmallow. This night was perfect, as was the company. Most of their friends were here, save for Connor, and it was the most idyllic setting they could imagine. This beat a rowdy bachelor party hands down. Neither of them wanted an excuse to drink and get into fights. They’d already had enough of that.
“Hey, tell me again about when you dropped the bomb on your folks.” Erik popped another bite of sandwich into his mouth.
Vince loved feeling Billy move with him. They laughed together and were usually in perfect harmony. He hugged his fiancé close and gazed into his eyes. “Ah yes, one of my favorite days. At least with Billy’s folks.”
After stroking Vince’s cheek, Billy turned to face their friends. “There couldn’t have been two more different reactions.”
Vince groaned. “Damn. You’re not kidding. Uncle Tony tried to grease the wheels with my folks, but they still had that deer in headlights look.
“What happened?” Joey asked.
“Well, I sat them down and told them I had something important to share. Billy was with me, so they couldn’t really act up even if they wanted to. They’d had enough drama from Paulie.”
He grimaced at the thought of his brother. Paulie had left home when Vince was only twelve-years-old and hadn’t been seen since, at least not in person. Just knowing his sibling was out there somewhere and wouldn’t speak to him hurt him deeply. They’d got along as children until things changed. When Paulie turned 18, he bolted from the house as quickly as he could. Vince wanted his brother to be his best man, but that wasn’t gonna happen.
“Go on, then what?” Erik prompted.
Shit, Vince had gotten lost in his head again.
“Sorry.” Vince swallowed and held onto Billy even tighter. “We said we wanted to get married. Holy shit, you’d think I’d just told them I’d committed a crime. The whole room fell silent…I mean, creepy silent.”
“Your dad gave you a look I’ll never forget.” Billy gazed at Vince, his eyes wide.
“That’s for sure. I don’t know if it was shock, disappointment, or whatever. He just got this angry scowl going, and flailed his arms muttering things like I’m not paying for it! and Let your Uncle handle it, I’m out of it.”
Vince shut his eyes and groaned. Thank goodness for his Uncle Tony—his father’s older brother, who’d always championed whatever Vince wanted to do. In Vince’s mind, Tony was more of a father than his own could ever hope to be. At least his mother was more on board with things. Ever since he got together with Billy, he and his mom would have long talks, and she supported him. But his father? That was still the obstacle. Him and Paulie.
“Did your mom say anything?” Asher asked.
“Yeah, eventually. She hugged me and congratulated us, but that was all. “
“Don’t you have a brother?” Erik asked.
Damn, he knew they’d mention him.
“Yeah…Paulie. Sometimes I forget about him. Well, I think he’d like me to forget him.” Vince rolled his eyes. “From what my parents tell me he’s in Texas, or at least he was a couple of years ago. Who knows where he is now? I don’t ask anymore. He moved away when I was twelve. We used to get along, at least when I was younger. He teased me incessantly about my hair, and being fat, and just being unlike him, but he wasn’t cruel. He bailed when I was twelve. Living in that house was unbearable after he left, as Billy knows.” A shudder of coldness rippled through him, and he leaned in closer to the fire hoping it’d warm him.
Billy stroked Vince’s face. “Damn right. I hated for you to leave my house. When we first met we were together all the time, then you disappeared for a while. I got you to come to our band practices finally. You were so quiet. I couldn’t get you to speak.” Billy ruffled Vince’s hair. “Speak, boy, speak!”
“Woof!” Vince smiled when Billy laughed and hugged him tightly.
Vince clung to his guy. This wasn’t an easy story to tell. His family’s rejection hurt and had been difficult for him his whole life. It would all have been a nightmare if it hadn’t been for his Uncle Tony. The time spent with him and his son, Angel, had been the only bright spots in his dingy past. Uncle Tony never mocked him and had only ever encouraged him to be himself and proud of it.
This was getting almost too emotional to discuss, and Vince had to shift the focus off him. He kissed Billy softly. “Sweetie, why don’t we tell them the good part, telling your parents reaction?”
Billy laughed. “Oh hell, they about wanted to throw a parade, are you kidding? As soon as I got the word married out of my mouth, my mother hugged us both. I think Dad did, too. They’re almost too good to be true, but I’m so blessed they love my baby. I personally think they couldn’t have asked for a better son-in-law. Or son, for that matter.”
“Whoa, roll back that humble meter there, Carp,” Erik teased.
“Meh…I can be all gushy and happy if I wanna be, buddy. This is the best time of my life right here.” Billy shook a finger at Erik. “By the way, drop that Carp use soon. I’m changing my last name to Caliendo when it’s all done.”
“You can do that?” Daisy asked.