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Mambo Italiano by Cat Lady

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Author's Chapter Notes:
This story was inspired by actual events that really did take place over the course of a few weddings. And like always a song list will be provided at the end of this short story because when it comes to Italian weddings, it's all about food, family and music.

Quote from Jane Austen's Mafia:

Gangster: You'll be bigger than the Almighty Himself...

Sonny: Nobody's bigger than Sinatra!

(or in my case Dean Martin. Dinoooooooo!)

In Napoli where love is king, when boy meets girl here's what they say…

When the moon hits you eye like a big pizza pie
That's amore
When the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine
That's amore
Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling
And you'll sing "Vita bella"
Hearts will play tippy-tippy-tay, tippy-tippy-tay
Like a gay tarantella

“Remember what I told you. No one goes to the bar until we’ve made the rounds to all the aunts, uncles, cousins and paisanos. Remember to answer questions vaguely and if some of my relatives start talking to you in Italian, smile and nod as if you understand what they’re saying. They flew in half the family on both the bride’s and groom’s side for this thing, so don’t worry if you don’t understand a word of what’s being said. People will be talking in dialect for most of the night so even I won’t know what they’re trying to say.” Fay quickly told David, Dwayne, Marko and Paul as they pulled up to the banquet hall in a car that Fay had borrowed for the occasion from one of her long-time dancer partners. Just the idea of arriving to a full-blown Italian wedding on motorcycles was practically a sin and seeing that Fay’s entire family was going to be at this thing, the boys didn’t want to draw any attention to themselves whatsoever.

“Holy friggin crow…this place is packed!” Paul exclaimed from the backseat as they all peered out the windows of the car and gawked at the huge array of cars that were stuffed every which way in the extensive parking lot.

The place was, by law, allowed to hold up to 300 cars but judging from the fact that there were cars packed on the grass lawn, around the large gurgling fountain that was a replica of some famous fountain in Rome, and along the two-way street on both sides, it looked like that law was broken big time.

“How many people did you say are going to be at this thing?” Marko asked Fay as he elbowed Paul to the side so that he could see over his head. He and Paul had been to a total of one wedding in their lifetime so far, and that had been a few years back when a cousin of Marko’s had gotten married. It had been a fair sized wedding of just over a hundred and fifty people but that was nothing compared to what they were seeing now.

“The last time I checked it was over 600 people. That was two months ago.” Fay replied as she quickly snapped open her clutch purse and pulled out a tube of lipstick and a tiny hand-held mirror. Fay quickly touched her face up as David carefully eased the car into the packed parking lot, frowning as he quickly scanned the lot to see if there was an available parking spot within walking distance. There wasn’t.

“Just pull up to the doors and let me out. You’re gonna have to park it on the road because you won’t find anything here. This is what happens when you boys take your sweet time. I told you we’d be late and I bet you that the antipasto bar is already picked clean.” Fay murmured as she pressed her lips together to make sure that her lipstick was smooth and even.

Dwayne rolled his eyes from where he sat wedged in a corner with Marko sitting between him and Paul in the back seat. “It wasn’t as if we could have arrived an hour before Fay. The sun didn’t go down until 6.”

“Yeah but you guys took forty minutes getting ready. I told you last night to make sure to have your stuff ready to go so that when the sun did go down you’d all be ready in ten minutes.” Fay said as she glanced over her shoulder at Dwayne while putting her make-up away. “Why don’t you ever listen to what I tell you?”

“Chill Fay. You took two hours getting ready.” Paul pointed out as he tore his eyes away from a group of twenty-something women that had just arrived at the front entrance and were dressed to the nines.

“Yeah because I had the time. You think that this hair could be done in half an hour? Ha!” Fay snorted as she carefully patted her up do to make sure it was secure. With 43 bobby pins and a layer of hairspray an inch thick coating her head, Fay’s hair was about as stiff and secure as a suit of armor. “Okay let me look at you.”

Fay craned her neck around as she carefully scanned the four vampires with a critical eye. This was a huge Prima function that the boys were technically gate-crashing because of the lack of formal invitations so Fay had to make sure that they looked the part in case they had to blend in and vanish from sight. All four boys were dressed in half-decent suits that they wouldn’t be caught dead in at any other time and they were all scrubbed, spit-polished and groomed within an inch of their undead lives. Gone were the earrings, facial scruff and chains. Instead they were wearing ties, wristwatches and, if you can believe it, cufflinks.

David and Marko had hacked off their longer locks because Fay had told them exactly what would happen to them if they tried to get in sporting mullets and the end result wouldn’t have been pretty, even by vampire standards. Their hair would grow back by the next evening so it was a sacrifice they were willing to make. Dwayne’s hair was tied back, not because it was acceptable for him to go waltzing in with long hair, but because there hadn’t been enough time to cut it. Paul’s hair was more problematic because it had taken the four of them plus Fay to attempt to tame his wayward mane and unlike his blood brothers Paul had put up a huge fuss when Fay tried to get near his head with a pair of scissors. So instead they dunked his hair in a vat of hair gel and did their best to make it somewhat presentable.

Looking at them Fay could not recognize them from their usual head-banging, motorcycle riding images and because of that she smiled. If she couldn’t recognize them as a bunch of marauding bad-ass vampires then no one could…at first glance. That would probably all change however once they opened their mouths but Fay was hoping that they would remember what she had drilled into their heads over the past two weeks and not say anything that would give them away.

“You boys look good.” She grinned as David stopped the car in front of the front doors.

“Do we really have to wear these monkey suits?” Paul complained as he tugged at his stiff collar and scowled, not enjoying the idea of wearing a tie in the least bit.

“For now yes. Give it until the fish course before taking off the suit jackets. By then everyone else will have had enough wine to get them more comfortable with each other. That’s usually when all the men start to loosen up without having their wives jump down their throats.” Fay chuckled as she glanced at herself once more in the rear-view mirror before she opened the door and carefully stepped out.

“I’ll wait for you here. And don’t take all day trying to find a parking spot.” Fay reminded David before she closed the door and stepped away from the car. Before David could say something snarky Fay was hugging and kissing an older couple that were by the doors as well.

“Tell me again why we’re doing this?” David asked Dwayne as he pulled from the curb and drove back onto the street in order to park the car.

“We owe it to Fay. She’s covered our asses more times than we care to admit and even if we refused to go she still would have dragged us along. At least this way she won’t be able to blackmail us later on for not doing anything for her.” Dwayne grinned a toothy grin as he fiddled with one of his cufflinks.

“Whatever. But I’ll say this; I’m staying as far away from her cousins and aunts as I possibly can. Even if it means standing outside for the entire thing. Debt or no debt I am not dealing with those devil women.” David growled as he cut off an old man and stole his parking spot. He ignored the frustrated honks as he put the car in park and shut off the ignition.

“Whatever man, I just got two words for you. Open Bar. I don’t care if the devil himself comes walking in, I am getting hammered tonight.” Paul chuckled as he tugged at his tie and loosened it a bit.

“Likewise.” Marko wholeheartedly agreed as he gingerly touched his hair, still put off with the feeling of having short hair, even if it was temporary.

“Well I’m going to be the one playing the errant knight saving her from her relatives while you guys get friendly with the bar tender so consider yourselves lucky.” Dwayne snorted as he opened the door and stepped out. He couldn’t get over the number of cars that were parked around them. Over 600 people were going to be in attendance tonight and a good number of them were witches like Fay but unlike Fay they didn’t take kindly to vampires. Dwayne was going to have to keep a close eye on Paul and Marko just in case things got out of control but Dwayne hoped that they wouldn’t. As for David, well there was nothing Dwayne could or would do about him. David didn’t want to be here and was most likely going to brood in some corner for the entire night with a bottle of wine and a bottle of scotch. Dwayne didn’t blame the guy and he knew how incapable David felt about being around so many Primas. He didn’t get along with one so how the hell was he supposed to handle four dozen? Dwayne had made Fay swear not to bother David at all for the duration of the reception and surprisingly Fay had agreed without so much as a side comment. Dwayne just hoped it stayed that way for the rest of the night.

“Well here goes nothing. And remember, if something happens or someone figures us out get out of there fast and we’ll all meet here.” David warned the three of them as he glanced warily at the brightly lit hall as if sizing up a dangerous opponent.

“We know David. Relax man, stop being so uptight about it. It’s just a huge party and it’s free. What more could you want?” Paul chuckled as he clapped David on the shoulder and shook him slightly. When David glared at him Paul just laughed. “You never know, you might actually enjoy yourself tonight”

“I highly doubt that.” Came David’s dry reply as the four of them headed towards the hall to where Fay was waiting for them.

Like them Fay was dressed in something she never would wear outside an occasion such as this but unlike the four of them, Fay was done up as if she were going to some sort of gala. The long black evening dress barely brushed the floor because of the three inch stilettos she was wearing and the neckline was cut low enough to look elegant but not low enough to really put on a show, as if she would ever wear something so provocative in public. It was an Italian wedding and there was a code of ethics to follow and one of the rules was to look as fancy as one could without looking trashy or gaudy and without overshadowing the bride, which was why no one aside from the bride herself wore a white dress. To have a nicer dress than the bride would mean instant shunning and rebuttal from every aunt, grandmother and mother-in-law in the place. Like that was what Fay really needed to worry about at that moment.

“So you boys ready?” Fay asked as she adjusted her silk shawl and gave them a beaming smile as they approached the doors. Fay had used about half of all the make-up she owned in order to make them look like the living and she was happy that her skills with the blush brush had paid off. In the intense light from the reception hall, the boys didn’t look any different from any other guy with the exception of their piercing eyes, but there wasn’t anything she could do about that.

“Lead the way Fay. There’s a shot of whiskey already waiting for me in there.” Paul grinned as he opened the door and held it open for Fay.

“Why thank you. I never knew you had manners.” Marko snickered as he stepped past Paul and nudged him in the ribs.

“There’s a lot you don’t know pal, oh watch your step.” Paul said with a devilish smirk as he casually put his foot out and tripped his best friend just as he entered the banquet hall.

“Please tell me they’re not going to be like this all night.” Fay muttered to Dwayne out of the corner of her mouth as she led them past the coat check and into the main reception hall where a huge line-up of guests where waiting to give their congratulations to the bride and groom and meet the wedding party.

“I would but then I’d be lying.” Dwayne replied as he offered Fay his arm, which she instantly accepted. Paul started to snicker when he saw this but a quick look from David quickly shut him up for the time being.

“Okay she’s my third cousin Maria from my mother’s side and she married a Sicilian named Alberto who everyone calls Al. There are twenty two people in the bridal party but you don’t have to worry about them. Let me do the talking and just smile and shake hands.” Fay informed them as they edged closer towards the bride and groom who were greeting their guests by three long tables covered in silver platters filled with traditional homemade Italian cookies. There was another long table across the room which was filled with small gift-wrapped boxes that instantly caught the boys’ attention.

“Hey Fay, what are those?” Marko asked as he motioned towards the gift covered table.

“Those are the bomboniere.” Fay said as she smiled and waved to a cousin she spotted down the line.

“The what?” David asked as he eyed the people in the room, taking note of anything out-of-the-ordinary. He wanted to keep tabs on Fay’s magical relatives so that he could stay away from them once they had entered the dining hall.

“Bomboniere, you know, they’re the gifts the newly weds give us as a thank you present for coming to their wedding.” Fay said as she opened her clutch again and pulled out an thick, fat white envelope that definitely had more in it than just a card.

“We get a gift for showing up at a wedding?” Paul eyed the small boxes with interest.

“Yeah, it’s tradition. But don’t get all excited. It’s usually salt shakers or a candle holder or something we’ll never use.” Fay said with a small shrug of her shoulders as she carefully held the envelope in her left hand.

“What’s in that?” It was Dwayne who asked the next question that they were all thinking.

“The boosta.” Fay lowered her voice to a barely audible whisper when she said it. She glanced up at their blank faces and shook her head. “It’s a wedding card with money in it. To pay for the individual plates as well as something extra to help out the bride and groom on their “new life” together. You four have seen The Godfather you know what I’m talking about. Remember the wedding at the beginning of the movie when Luca Brasi, the fat mobster, kept trying to decide how much money he should put in the boosta? This is what it is. People who are closely related to the couple put in more and like most Italian families, everyone always tries to out-do each other. Which is why Italian weddings are so damn expensive to put on and to attend. Imagine having five weddings to go to in one year. I’d have to take a mortgage out on the house just to pay for going.” Fay explained as she kept her eyes on the people in front of her while still keeping her voice low. “See that big white box on the table beside the cookies? That’s the boosta box. All the envelopes go in there. God knows how much Maria is raking in tonight.”

All five of them chuckled at Fay’s comment and they waited for about another eight minutes before it was their turn to pay their respects and compliments to the newly weds. The entire exchange lasted about six seconds before they were ushered along down the bridal party line and a minute later they were standing off to the side with Fay holding onto four bomboniere because the men never held onto them. It was the woman’s job to keep her eye on the thank you gifts and make sure no one stole them.

“Okay is it just me, or does anyone else feel like we’re in a Francis Ford Coppola film?” Marko asked as he glanced at a group of men who walked right by them without looking at them.

“Why do you say that?” Fay asked as she tried to see what Marko was seeing.

“I hate to stereotype people and all, but Marko’s right.” Paul nodded as he watched the same group of men. There were older men, heavy set with the typical Italian features that to him screamed out gangster when in fact they were really construction company owners, electricians, lawyers and restaurant owners.

“Oh funny guys. This is what happens when you watch too many mafia movies. You think the way Italians are portrayed in those things are how all Italians are. You should know by know how untrue that is cause if it was, I wouldn’t be a witch or live on my own or be talking to you for that matter because “good Italian girls” don’t hang around bad boys.” Fay snorted as she gave them a look. Marko gave her a sheepish smile and she nudged him with her hip to show she was joking.

“Okay enough gawking because pretty soon you’ll be quoting Marlon Brando and then we’d all get shot cause you just don’t do stuff like that at an Italian wedding unless your Italian or related to whoever you’re talking to which none of you are.” Fay said sagely as she nodded towards the closed doors in front of them. “Let’s go into the lion’s den and meet the rest of them in there.”

“This ought to be good.” David muttered under his breath and Fay actually nodded.

“Ohhhhhhh yeah.” She sighed before she tilted her head up and squared her shoulders. They all looked at each other for a minute before they went to the doors and opened them and when they did, rich Italian music washed over them as the boys practically stopped and gawked at the sight that greeted them.

When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fagiole
That's amore
When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet
You're in love
When you walk down in a dream but you know you're not
Dreaming signore
Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Napoli
That's amore
Lucky fella

When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fagiole
That's amore
When you dance down the street with a cloud at your feet
You're in love
When you walk down in a dream but you know you're not
Dreaming signore
Scuzza me, but you see, back in old Napoli
That's amore, (amore)
That's amore
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