Marrying into the Lombardo family was her destiny. Their parents had arranged the union since they were in Junior High School.
Armand's dreamy eyes, silky black hair, and a smile to die for had caught her eyes even when he was only 14 years old at the time. She could still remember when they were introduced at The Lombardo's summer home in Gastonburry. She was this shy 12-year-old girl who was about to enroll in the best Junior High School in the city.
Her family and The Lombardos had been friends for generations, and they enrolled their children at the same school. Her dad practically entrusted her to The Lombardos so she could get the best treatment at the school because The Lombardos were well known for their generosity to the school.
The Lombardos were well known for many other things that the kids weren't aware of at the time. All they knew, they had always got royal treatment wherever they went.
It wasn't love at first sight for Armand. The boy was a ladies' man even from a very young age. He knew his way into the heart of teenage girls who were always competing for his attention.
Armand Lombardo, the only son of Cossimo Lombardo, the heir of the Lombardo family legacy.
It was at the same summer home that Armand finally proposed to her at the age of 28, and Ariana 26. He had just graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Gastonburry, snatched a double master's degree. He would've been the most eligible bachelor in the country if his parent's businesses were all legal.
The Lombardos led a life on the other side of the light, they were smuggling weapons and drugs, they were well connected with the most powerful people around the world to ensure the business was running smoothly and people disappear all the time if they cross the Lombardo family.
But Ariana wasn’t completely aware of that, she was mostly kept in the dark about what her family and the Lombardos actually do for a living. She was smitten by the dazzling young man and they started dating when he entered college, and she was still in high school.
The wedding day was nothing short of extravagant. The wedding organizer had transformed their summer home into a magical palace where a prince and his princess would live, it was all covered in white flowers and heavily decorated with the best of everything that money could buy.
Cossimo Lombardo had instructed the wedding to be known as the wedding of the century to let his rivals know who was on top of the hierarchy. Cossimo had worked up the ladder of the mafia families for decades, it was almost time for his retirement and handed over his legacy to his son, Armand.
Everyone who was somebody was invited to the wedding. Mostly business partners and rivals of the Lombardos and the Monteneros. Two of the most well-known mafia families in the country were about to merge their wealth and power into their bloodline. The two families were about to take on the world in a whole new level of power and money. Ariana being the only child of the Montenero was bound to marry into another powerful family if they wanted their legacy to continue, it was something her parents had calculated since she was a child.
The heartwarming ceremony brought everyone to tears when they said their vows of love. She looked into the eyes of the man she loved with all her heart and soul and promised him that she will devote her life to him in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer until death does them part.
The emotional ritual was soon followed by singing, dancing, loud music, and feasting. The endless supply of food and drinks was served on silver platters, the party was set to last for three days and three nights. Television reporters were invited to cover the story so the world can witness the most powerful merge as it happens right there in the city of Gastonburry.
"Have you seen Armand?" she asked her parents.
"No, sweetie, he was here a while ago talking to his friends ... maybe he went to the restroom," her mom replied with champagne in her hand.
"It's almost time to cut the cake ... I think I'm gonna go change and look for him," she said and left the hall full of guests.
They have cleared all the furniture in the family room and turned it into a hall, the room was large enough to be used as a dance floor with rows of long tables on each side for food and beverages display.
She walked across the room still in her wedding gown, fully embroidered and sprinkled with diamonds. She lifted the heavy cloak as she walked gracefully towards the corridor leading up to the master bedroom where she will spend her first night as Armand Lombardo's wife. Her hair was lifted with strands of her curls falling over her bare shoulders, the diamond necklace around her neck was said to weigh almost 1 Kg as a gift from her in-laws. It all made her feel like a real princess but they have worn her out throughout the day.
When she passed the last table in the corner of the room, there was a tall man in a dark suit who stood alone, away from the crowd. The man lifted his glass towards her, she responded with a smile. She had never seen that man before, she would surely remember him if she had because the man was strikingly handsome, clean-shaven, with dark hair, dark eyes. She rested her eyes on the man for longer than she should then she looked away. She took another glance at him only to find that he was still staring at her intensely and then she went to the other side of the wall into the corridor.
That part of the house was clear from guests. The security protocol was strict given the kind of guests they were having and they didn't want guests to stray away from the party and ended up in various rooms of the house.
She could hear her footsteps echoing between the walls of the long corridor, as pretty as the dress was, she couldn't wait to get out of it. When she came closer to the main bedroom, she could hear vague noises. At first, she couldn't tell where the sound was coming from. The house was riddled like a maze, corridors after corridors crossed at junctions. She looked around but there was no one else but her.
Then she realized the noise was coming from inside her bedroom. She approached cautiously, it was baffling, who could've got into the house and went to her bedroom. She pressed her ear against the door, her heart raced, the noise was the sound of a woman panting. Someone was having sex in her bedroom, someone was using her newlywed bed before she did. The thought annoyed her, she grabbed the door handle and entered the room. Whoever it was in there was going to be in a lot of trouble with the security.
She stormed inside in full anticipation to see the faces of the culprits. Her heart sank to the floor when she saw Armand's face. A full-blown naked woman was bending over by the post of the bed with her naked husband at her back. Her face turned white, words have left her. Her head was light and she felt her insides were turning like they were ready to jump out of her. On her wedding day, still in her wedding dress, she covered her mouth with the back of her hand.
"Ariana ... Ariana ..." Armand was saying something to her but she couldn't hear what he said.
Her vision was blurry, all she could see was the naked woman bending over in front of her beloved husband and was panting and whimpering. The noises were so much louder in her head now. She covered her ears. She was dazed, she bumped on the wardrobe, she was losing her way.
Armand was trying to talk to her, he came over to her without a shred of clothes on, but she couldn't even see him anymore.
She made her way out of the room, everything was blending in her head like a nightmare. She was wobbling on the corridor back to where she came from, she didn't know where else to go.
She was running now, almost tripped in her dress but she didn't care anymore. The dress was ripped, she hit tables and furniture along the way. She wondered if her mind had played tricks on her, but it wasn't. Armand was fucking another woman in her bedroom on her wedding day.
What is happening to her? How could this be happening?
She started to sob, tears came flooding, she wiped the tears with her hands and smudged her eyeliner all over her face. She was a walking mess. She tried to organize her mind but it was impossible. Her head felt lighter, she was giving up, she wanted to fall unconscious and maybe ... just maybe ... when she wakes up ... it was all just a very bad dream.