My Substitute Groom C2: The Right Dress
“Too revealing.” I growled at Francis for letting me try on a strapless white dress which shows a bit of skin on the sides of the waist and extends a few inches below my knees. I love how the color gradually changes into a dark shade of brown as it reaches the hem of the skirt, but it’s made for other occasions, not for a wedding, and definitely not for a bride!
“But (Name), you look splendid! Just look how it matches your silver heels.” I shot him a glare.
“Well, I want to wear something more... decent? Or anything like that.”
The Frenchman rolled his eyes as I walked out of the dressing room, being greeted by the enormous mirrored walls. The combination of the fluorescent and warm colored lights complemented my (s/c) skin. The dress hugs my figure perfectly, it is indeed beautiful...
“What on earth are you wearing?” I heard a thick accented voice, it sounds awfully familiar that it made my eyes roll in frustration. Of course, it must be him. I turned to look at the grumpy Italian; he’s covering his flustered face with his hand. My eyes darted on what he’s wearing, a Charcoal Gray, single buttoned tuxedo matched with a plain red tie. Undeniably, it looks good on him.
“I-It’s Francis who made me wear this dress.” I finally answered after a few seconds of staring.
“It’s too revealing, idiota.” He finally came back to his usual self.
“Well it’s not my fault!” I answered in a louder voice, still trying to keep my composure. The moments of silence and glares was cut off by Francis.
“Ohh, Lovi~ you look so good in your tuxedo.” He said while getting close to the Italian, examining every detail of his suit. I can see Lovino’s eyebrow slowly meeting. “You definitely have to take that, and as for you, (Name)” He slowly walked to my position and shoved me a bunch of white dresses. “You have to try on all of those until you find what you’re looking for.”
“E-eh? All of these?” He pushed me back to the fitting room.
“Yes, you asked for it.” He said as he gave me a wink and a tap at my bottom. I stepped at his foot and watched him hissed in pain.
“Get out!” I said as I closed the door. Really, that Frenchman.
I tried on different kinds of dresses-and of course, it always end up by receiving various
comments from Lovino like..
“Too long. You’ll definitely trip on that.”
“Too much design.”
“It looks bad.”
I sighed rather loudly for the nth time. This is the last dress left and those other dresses consumed a lot of time. I stared at the dress, it looks good, but something’s wrong. “Well, I guess I have to try this on.”
I slightly opened the door and took a peek. The two men are sitting comfortably at the bean couches in front. The blond man finally noticed me.
“Hey, why don’t you step out of the cubicle?” I slowly opened the door, revealing a haltered white dress with a black ribbon around the waist. Its ruffled skirt extends down to my knees on the front, yet much longer at the back. My arms are crossed below my chest, pressing it to my stomach firmly. “It looks good on you!” Francis said, clasping his hands, eyes glistening with pride, he has this ‘I chose that dress’ aura. “What do you think, Lovi?” He turned to the Italian.
“It’s fine.” He answered in a monotone, and so far, that’s the best compliment that he gave me.
“Francis..” my scowl deepened “I bet you know what’s wrong with this dress, right?”
“E-eh? But I think backless is fine!”
“But not to the point that my whole back is exposed!” I’m not exaggerating things, even when I face the side; it shows a lot of skin.
“Ohonhonhon~ It has its own purpose! You know that the ceremony is long, so it prevents people from sleeping during the event!”
A knock was heard from the door of the mirrored room, a feminine voice was heard.
“Excuse me? Ma’am are you done?”
“Almost!” I said, loud enough for my voice to reach the other side.
“Uhmm.. We’re already closing..”
“E-eh? Already?” Oh that’s right, this store closes before nighttime. “Just let me change
into my clothes, okay?”
“Of course.” She replied.
I closed the door of the cubicle and began to change into my casual clothes. I gathered all the dresses that Francis suggested. Too bad neither of these was chosen. I went out of the shop together with my two companions. Lovino has bought the tuxedo he wore last time.
“So, tomorrow again? And also we’ll have to organize some things as well.” Francis said.
“Yes, yes. Just promise me you won’t choose those kinds of dresses again.”
“Fine.” I saw him rolled his eyes. “Now have fun on your way home!” He said while waving goodbye, pressing the remote of his silver-colored Porsche.
“Now what do you mean by have fun.” I mumbled.
I turned to Lovino who is now in his Ferrari. I opened the door to the front passenger’s seat.
“We haven’t found the right dress, eh?” He said without looking at me, it’s quite shocking since he started a nice conversation with me. Earlier this morning, he just left me some bacon and eggs at the table, together with the coffee at the coffee maker, but didn’t join me while eating. He just spent the morning at his tomato garden. I let out a sigh.
“Yes, maybe tomorrow, I guess?”
“Why not now?” He turned to me, smirking. I raised an eyebrow.
“Do you think we can find a store at this time?”
“Nope, we’re going to my grandpa’s house.”
“E-eh? But why?”
“You’ll know later.” I never got to see their grandpa, even though Feli showed me a picture of him at his young days, I never had a chance to see him in person. Now to think about it, what will I say to him once we get there? How can I explain this mess? “Don’t worry, I already told him what happened.” Lovino spoke just in time I opened my mouth to ask him. I sighed in relief.
“Thank you.” I said even though I know he won’t respond. He pulled the lever and drove in a gradually increasing pace.
“You’re welcome..” he mumbled, yet loud enough for me to hear. How nice, we’re finally getting along. That’s what I thought but then I heard that word again. “…Idiota.” I furrowed my eyebrows at him and he just let out a small chuckle. After a few minutes of silence, the car finally stopped in front of a incredibly large house, or it’s already a villa? It’s so huge- three stories, with an extra floor for the attic. It’s like three times wider than Lovi’s house. It has a marbled front porch and a garden of Daisies beside a small manmade pond.
We got out of the car; he guided me through the front porch and knocked at the door.
“Just stay there and I’ll park the car.”
I nodded. After a few seconds, the door cracked open; a small child around four years old, wearing a pink dress gave me a long stare, narrowing her eyes and moving her head up and down as if she’s examining me. She looks so cute! She has the same eyes as Lovino and also the same curl, but she looks fluffier and definitely cuter.
“Oh, hello there, cute one.” I said as I patted her head
“Grandpa said don’t talk to strangers..” She mumbled in a cute voice, looking at the ground.
“Oh, I’m sorry about that, I’m (Name)” She grabbed my hand and played with my fingers.
“Now I’m not a stranger, am I?” I giggled. “What’s your name?”
“They call me Chibi Romano because I look and acts like my cousin when he’s younger.” Romano? I never heard that name. I knelt down to her level when I felt her tug on my sleeve.
“Can you give me a kiss?” She asked- her eyes are sparkling.
“Why not” I said as I kissed her forehead and letting out a small smile. She gave me a small pout.
“This one hurts.” She said pointing on her pouting lips.
“Now do you want me to give that a kiss?” Her face reddened, it can be compared to the tomatoes that grow on Lovi’s garden.
“uhh.. uhmm..” She began to shake a little.
“Embracing your inner Italian, eh? Little one?” I heard those perfectly pronounced Italian words. I learned how to speak in Italian during my college days. I turned my head to see Lovino, and turned back my head to the small child. She is a miniature of Lovino. She gave me a blink or two before running inside and shouting some Italian words.
“Cousin Romano has brought home a bride!” he said, and repeating it many times. It took me a few seconds before its meaning registered in my mind.
“Eh? No, it’s not-” I saw a girl with a ponytail, and a girl with a headband peeked from a room. The girl with a ponytail reminds me of Feli. I smiled a bit at the sight of her honey-colored orbs and innocent smile. She’s around the age of fourteen. The other one looks like the girl version of Romano, her red-colored nails signals me that we’ll get along; she looks like eighteen for me.
“Brava! Romano has brought a beautiful bride!” The girl who looked like Feliciano said as she ran towards me and gave me a hug.
“Idiota! You’re scaring her.” The other woman said “Romano must’ve put something on her drink, there’s no way my cousin would get someone as beautiful as her.”
I blushed at their comments. But to my surprise, they don’t even know about what’s happening.
“Now all of you, would you please stop blocking the way.” Lovino said.
They quickly dragged me inside the house. They were randomly talking to me about how fluffy my (h/c) hair is, and also how soft my skin is-all of those according to them. Now I know it’s true that Italians are good in making you feel beautiful. We stopped when we saw a tall man with a good muscular built came in the scene, He has a very small curl sticking at the bottom portion of his head, he has this olive skin and a handsome face, he’s carrying two children, one’s Chibi Romano, and the other one’s wearing a green dress
and has a cute smile. This family has quite the same faces.
“I told you, grandpa, Romano has brought home a bride.” I saw Chibi Romano said, tugging at his grandpa’s sleeves. He’s already a grandfather of 6 children? If I were to predict his age I’ll think his around twenty-seven to thirties!
“G-Good evening, sir. I’m (Name) (Surname) from (Country).” I said politely in a perfect Italian. I heard him chuckle as he put down the two children.
“I’ve heard a lot about you, no need to be formal, you can call me grandpa.” He said, pulling me into a hug. It made me warm inside. I feel so accepted. He pulled away and led us to the dining room. “I haven’t told the children, yet, I’m sorry about the misunderstanding.”
“No, it’s fine, they’re young.” I said with a smile. He told the two children to play at their rooms, while he let the two girls, Daisy, the girl with a ponytail and Katarina, the girl who looks like Lovino, stay. He explained our situation to them. We didn’t include the children because they’re too young to understand.
“Vee~ that’s bad. I really thought you were with Romano.” Daisy said, looking at the ground. “But good luck with the plan!”
“Hmpf! The idea of you falling for Romano is impossible, but for someone to fall with that idiota? Ow-. Romano? Just when I’m on your side.” Katarina said. They exchanged a few glares but then Lovino ruffled her hair.
“You’ve got some colorful words.” He said.
“Look who’s talking.” She replied, pouting.
“Anyway, grandpa, we have a reason why we came here.” Lovino said, turning to grandpa.
“What is it?” The man asked.
“(Name) haven’t chosen a wedding dress yet, and I’m thinking of following the tradition..” He said in a rather low voice. His grandpa smiled.
“It’s nice to see my eldest grandson getting serious about relationships.” He said, making the young man blush. “Oh, I mean. It’s good to see him concerned in this situation, he rarely associate with anyone or with anything unless it’s about tomatoes and gunshooting.” He chuckled. “Now let me get that precious thing..” He said before walking towards the stairs. Lovino followed him. I let out a small sigh. I felt the two girls sat closer to me.
“Hey, hey, if you’ll have a trait that you want to transfer from Romano to Feli, what would that be?” I was rather shocked at the question brought up by Katarina. Before I got a chance to answer, Daisy asked me another question.
“Romano suggested that the precious dress will be passed to you, what do you feel?” and now before I was about to answer, Lovino and grandpa went down from the stairs, getting our attention. Grandpa handed me a box.
“Try it.” He said with a big grin.
The girls led me to a spare room and helped me try on the dress. It’s simply beautiful. It’s pure white. It has a corset which fits my upper body perfectly, a strap adorned with flowers as a design is hanging at my right shoulder. It has a slanted patter of ruffles that extend below my waist and to my ankles. And lastly, a small tiara with a long veil was placed at the top of my head. It’s beautiful, simple, yet elegant.
I slowly walked to the room where grandpa and Lovino are waiting. I saw Lovino’s eyes widen, and grandpa’s face lit up in joy.
“Beautiful.. It’s yours now.” Grandpa said, smiling.
“B-but I’m just borrowing it.”
“No, it’s an honor to pass down wedding dresses.” He stood up. “The last one who wore that is my daughter, Roma’s mother, and the first one is my wife. I almost had forgotten how beautiful that dress was, especially on those two days.” His amber eyes showed a glassy sheen.”But still, it’s good that they left me good memories.” I can feel him because of his words.
“Thank you, grandpa.” I said, smiling. I’m trying to make him smile as well.
“Now I have a new granddaughter.” He chuckled “Why don’t you stay in for the night?”
“Sounds good to me.” I said.
“Go on and borrow some clothes from Katarina. You must be tired.” I nodded and followed the girl to her room. I changed into a pink tank top and shorts, they just gave me this and led me to the guest room. Shortly, after I changed, I heard a knock on my door. I opened it to reveal the two teenage girls with their pillows.
“Hello! We’re sleeping with you tonight, if it’s alright?” Daisy said.
“Of course! Come in.” The two giggled as they sat on the bed. “So what brings you here?”
“Well, we want to ask you some questions!”
“Okay. So, first?”
“How did you met Feliciano?” Katarina asked, resting her chin at her pillow.
“hmm..?” I smiled as I remembered that day. “Let’s just say that, he’s a hero to me. He saved me so many times.” I giggled; I’m feeling that I’m also a teenager.
“A hero?” Daisy said.
“I’m from the first day of my work that time and it’s my first time taking the train. I don’t have any idea how crowded it is in there. So the moment when I got in, I got squished by many people, I felt like I’m going to collapse. But then suddenly I felt someone grab my wrist. Of course, at first I thought it’s a bad guy, but what he did is he let me stand on a corner while he is leaning closely to me. I was about to grab my pepper spray that time, but when I noticed that he’s protecting me from the swarm of people. I wouldn’t forget that lazy curl that sticks up stubbornly at his head.” I heard Daisy giggle.
“One day, I’m going to fall in love in a strange way as well!” She said.
“So let’s continue?” I asked, they both nodded. “That curl is also familiar to me ever since I was young; I’m taking a vacation in Spain, that time at my Grandma’s place. Back then, I love playing hide and seek, and I’m eager to win so I hid in a strange shed. It’s almost an hour, yet no one still found me. I stayed there until it rained. Loud thunderstorms made me shake in fear and burst into tears. And that time a strange boy came in and asked me if I’m alright. He stayed with me and hummed me a happy tune until I fall asleep. I can’t remember anything about him except for that curl. But still, I considered him my first love.”
“Ohhh.. Destiny. Everything happened coincidentally.” Daisy said. “But how did you met him again?”
“It’s when I saw a nervous man at a coffee shop. I noticed his curl right away, and I didn’t let the moment pass to ask his name.”
“What if you’re wrong?” Katarina asked “I mean what if it’s not him.” It made me think.
“Well, it’s alright. What’s important is what we have right now.” I smiled at her.
“You mean right now, you have Romano..” Wow, that girl is blunt!
“Nope, I mean, what me and Feliciano feel for each other right now. What’s important is the feeling that you feel.”
“Even though you’re far away from each other?”
“That’s the time that you can test your love. If it gets stronger, then it’s true.”
“If you haven’t?” I froze for a second. What if all this time I had fallen for the idea of falling in love because of my ‘hero’ thing? Am I that childish or just naive? No. I love him. A lot.
“Everything’s gonna be fine.” I smiled. “Now you two should go to sleep, or else you’ll suffer because of acne breakouts.” The two immediately followed what I said. I ‘m thinking of calling Feli, but I guess, I’ll just have to leave him a message.
‘I love you.’
I pressed the send button and drifted off to sleep.
“Why don’t we have a drink, Romano?”
“It’s been a long time.” Romano said as he took a seat. Grandpa Rome gave him a glass of wine before sitting at his opposite side.
“It must be hard on you, to get married for no reason.”
“I’m just doing them a favor, especially for the favorite one.”
“Lovi, I never favored anyone.” He look at Lovino in the eye, the young man just looked away. “I’m sorry about the things that happened before, when your parents separated and took Feli, while you stayed at a friends’ house. I should’ve taken you here earlier.”
“It’s not your fault..” He said, taking a sip of his red wine.
“I’m apologizing on behalf of my daughter, your mother; Clarissa is too young to reflect that time.”
“That’s why I avoid relationships. No one can stay together without problems and fights.”
“And nothing’s gonna end if one easily gives up.” Grandpa immediately said while rolling the wine around the glass with his hand. Lovino just sighed in defeat. “And I just want to tell you, that everything happens for a reason. Just be free and fall in love. You’ll have a wedding of your own. Everything will be just fine.”
Lovino just stared at the table, blankly. ‘Everything happens for a reason’. He chuckled. ‘What a sharp turn.’.
“Thank you for letting us stay, grandpa!” I told him, grinning. The two children tugged my sleeve. I bent my knees and they kissed me on my cheek. “So sweet.” I hugged them tightly.
“It means that you should visit more often!”Grandpa said with a chuckle
“Of course!” I waved them goodbye as I went inside Lovino’s car. I looked at him after he started to drive.
“So, you’re Romano?”
“Yea, so what.”
“They told me that you’re like Chibi Romano when you’re younger.” I gave him an odd smile.
“Yes. I would agree to that also.”
“Then it means that you like getting kisses!” I felt the sudden stop and banged my head to the glass.”Ow! It hurts!” The car slowly moved again.
“It’s not like that.” He said, his face is red now, just like when I first met Chibi Romano. I laughed at him as we exchanged words. I felt my phone vibrate.
“Wait, someone’s calling.” I pressed the green button. “Hello?”
“Dad?!” Once again the car stopped with a screech, I managed to keep my head from hitting something. Romano parked at the side and I continued talking.
“We have a surprise for you, dear.”
“What’s that, dad?”
“A surprise visit to Italy! We’re taking a tour right now, later we’ll go to your place, just send me the address, kay?” He hanged up just before I’m about to oppose. I looked at Romano.
“It’s not good is it?”
“Don’t tell me..”
“They’re here.. in Italy.”
“Holy Shit.” He said in his native tongue.