Beauty and the Geek 2: When In Rome

5 years after their complicated high school relationship, Emily and Will are miles apart leading completely different lives. A chance meeting in Italy could bring them back together...but there's a couple of skeletons in Will's closet to sort out first. Will this starcrossed pair finally be together?

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14. Chapter 13.

“Are you sure you want to do it this way?” Giovanna asked, zipping up the back of my dress nimbly. “You could just go quietly.”
“Have I ever done things the quiet way, Gi?” I turned to face her and smiled.
“That’s true – I just worry about you. Who knows what Olivia will do next?”
“I can handle it – she already took everything else from me, I have nothing left to lose.”

We both stared around the room that had once been mine. Now, everything was packed away firmly into boxes; all of the memories that had been made in this office were put into storage and promised to be released at a later date. The room had been filled with posters and old drawings autographed by the kids, mementos from the market and fresh flowers in every corner; now it was bland, with pale grey walls and a sense of foreboding that I had never noticed before. It was official; Southside orphanage was no longer mine.

“Sad, isn’t it?” Giovanna said quietly. “Sometimes I forget underneath all of the personality, this place is just an old building.”
“That’s the point,” I patted her on the back. “The orphanage was never about the place. It was about the people that lived here; me, you and those kids. 
We made this place the Southside orphanage and we can do it somewhere else too. I believe it.”
“You’re right. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.”
“Are you kidding? I couldn’t have gotten this far without you. You know, I never knew what it was like to have a best friend until I came here and met you. Now, I understand it completely.”

She pulled me close and we held each other for a long time, knowing that as soon as I left that house life would change completely. I could hear Paolo outside, his car beeping noisily to alert me of his presence. I drew back and nodded apologetically outside, getting ready to leave.

“Good luck, Em,” Giovanna quipped. “Remember...
Il primo amore --"
“I know, I know,” I beamed, one hand lingering on the door frame before disappearing outside. “True love never grows old.”

---

“Wow,” Paolo crouched next to me. “You can say what you want about her but signora does have style.”

The wedding was everything I had imagined and more; a massive gazebo decorated with vanilla lights and soft, shimmering material. A never ending white carpet, decorated with scented rose petals, stretched from one end to the other; bemused guests took their seats on wide chairs tied neatly with bows. They skimmed their freshly printed wedding programmes, a photo of Will and Olivia professionally printed on the front.

There was even a mini fountain at the front, where guests could throw in some coins and impersonate the traditional Roman way of the Trevi fountain. People were dotted around the grounds, sipping on champagne and comparing fancy hats between themselves. I could feel the beading sweat on my forehead, I hadn’t realised that there would be 
this many people. Could I really stand up infront of all of them and reveal Olivia Hudson for who she really was? Would they even believe me?

That was when I noticed Will, the love of 
my life, about to marry somebody else. For a moment I tried to stem my hummingbird heartbeat, fluttering crazily in my chest as it did every time I saw Will around. This time felt different as he shuffled nervously at the front of the gazebo, adjusting his tie and acting like he wanted to be anywhere but in that moment. He glanced around anxiously, obviously hoping for a saving grace to call this whole thing off and give him his life back. Little did he know that saving grace was me.

More than anything, I felt sad that it wasn’t me at the front of that stretching carpet next to the man I loved. I would have loved nothing more than to be the girl he was waiting for and to flounce up that aisle in the picture perfect white dress but Olivia had ruined it for me.

The wedding march began and slowly, everyone took to their seats. I saw a flicker of panic in Will’s face as he took in all the emergency exits; would he take off before Olivia even got up the aisle? I heard the intake of breath as everyone turned to see the blushing bride. She was stunning – words could barely sum her up. Her long, ivory dress flowed easily behind her and her face remained composed beneath a veil as she made her way up the aisle.

The room was quiet for a moment as the happy couple stood side by side, barely acknowledging each other. Paolo looked at me and nodded and I braced myself for what was coming next.

“We are here today to celebrate the wedding of Olivia Hudson and William Joseph,” The official looking man at the front droned. “If anyone knows of any reasons that these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace.”

It was my moment but I could barely lift my legs from the seat, my feet rooted to the spot firmly. With my bottom half turning to jelly quickly, I managed to stand up – much to the dismay of the rest of the service.

“Me,” I squeaked. “I have reasons that these two should not be married – so many reasons. In fact, the wedding isn’t even legit. Olivia Hudson has duped you all!”

The rest of the gazebo gasped, including Alexander who looked flame faced at the front. He bounded towards me, the only time I had ever witnessed him angry in all of the time I had known him. His face was red and shiny as he gripped my arm tightly.

“Now is not the time, Emily,” He muttered under his breath, dragging me down the carpet. “We can discuss this later.”

I knew that he was desperate to retire and pass his company onto Olivia from the sheer determination in his eyes; Alexander Hudson wasn’t about to let me or anyone else ruin it. I realised that he just like all of those other stiffs; power hungry and only in it for himself. I knew that he would have had to have had a shred of deceit inside him to produce offspring like Olivia. I had just realised it a little too late.

Olivia’s hand shot up to her veil, pulling it back from her face earnestly to get a peek at who could dare interrupt her nuptials. Her eyes widened in my direction and she stamped down the carpet towards her father and I.

You!” She said with venom. “I knew you'd show up to ruin all of this somehow. How did you even get in here?!”
“With a little help from a friend,” I smiled at Paolo.
“Well, I want you removed – you won’t ruin my wedding day. Security!”

She motioned to two burly looking men near the altar, who took the cue to rage towards me. I felt the stab of fear inside me and pried my arm from Alexander’ s grasp trying to dodge my new attackers.

“STOOOOOP!” I heard Will command, his voice the loudest among a rumble of others.

Alexander dropped my arm and the two security men turned to see what all the commotion was as he made his way down the carpet towards me. He looked a vision in his new suit; his face freshly shaven and a note of relief in his voice. His face seemed blank but I knew that deep inside, he was grateful I had saved him from a future with a horrible woman.

“Let her speak,” He said simply, much to Olivia’s horror.
“Let her speak?” She imitated. “She’s clearly unhinged, darling. She’s been obsessed with us both since day one.”
“Yes,” Alexander added to the audience around us. “She’s been causing chaos since we met."
“Are you kidding?” Will laughed. “If anyone has been causing problems it’s your daughter, Mr. Hudson. And it’s about time everyone knew about it.”

He finally looked at me, a knowing sparkle in his eye and nodded at me to acknowledge he was on my side. The rest of the guests were dumb struck; clearly wondering why the groom was being so disrespectful to his bride-to-be and her family.

“The truth is,” Will announced. “Olivia Hudson and I…we were never a real couple.”

He let that sink in for a moment and listened to the gasp of our audience. I could barely say anything as Will walked slowly towards me and linked his fingers with my own. It seemed that he was about to do my job for me.

“I’m in love with a girl called Emily Masson and she’s standing right here,” He said loudly facing the guests. “I always have been – this whole thing has been a scheme so that Alexander Hudson can retire early and Olivia can inherit his company.”
“That’s a lie!” Alexander protested.
“Don’t sink to her level, Daddy!” Olivia’s eyes narrowed at me. “She’s trying to ruin today for everyone!”
“If there’s anyone who’s trying to ruin lives it’s you, Olivia,” I stepped forward, poking her in the chest.

Now it was my turn; dropping Will’s hand and stepping forward towards the altar, I prepared myself to reveal all about Olivia.

“This woman isn’t who you all think she is,” I pointed at Olivia. “To the rest of you, Olivia Hudson is stylish. She’s rich. She knows five languages. She’s perfect. To me, Olivia Hudson is nothing but ugly – ugly on the inside."
“You’re crazy!” Olivia exclaimed.
“I have proof!” I interrupted. “It's funny that you used to intimidate me. I used to think you were so cunning and smart when all along you've left a trail of destruction in your wake."

Paolo was standing now, faces turning towards him to see what was going on.

“On the night of the 22nd, I was at a bar in the middle of town with Olivia,” I said loudly. “She drugged me, left me in the cold outside and visited this man’s apartment later without my permission, taking photos of us together. She intended to show them to council to stop me getting hold of the orphanage – she blackmailed me.”
"This is ridiculous!" Olivia defended. "It's not my fault that you will go home with any guy who takes you."
“If by 'any guy' you mean me,” Paolo laughed. “That's impossible - because I'm 
gay and proud!"

Will stifled a laugh as there was an uproar from the rest of the guests. Clearly, in their perfect world they didn’t encounter much homosexuality. He proceeded to show the rest of the room his wallet; the picture of his former love evident and the passion in his speech speaking the truth. I felt an ever growing sense of pride hearing him speak publicly about his past and knew that it would be hard for him.

“But, that’s not the only skeleton she has in her closet,” I announced. “After a little digging, I discovered Olivia Hudson…
is already married!”
“Lies!" Alexander yelled. “Security – get her out of here!”

I noticed Olivia’s face fall briefly; her smirk drooping by the side of her lips and a slither of panic on her face. I knew at that second that I was right. Olivia was already married.

“It’s true, isn’t it?” I shouted at her. “Circa 2005, Olivia Hudson was travelling in Europe under the name of Amelia Hudson – I have the records right here. She didn’t account for the fact that she would have a nasty fall and be admitted to hospital where she would be forced to sign records as her real name, Olivia Hudson, anyway! So, here it is in black and white - with the spouse section checked off as 'married'."
“It wasn’t like that!” She finally screamed, much to the terror of her father. “We’re not together now! It was barely legal!”
Not according to your husband,” I put the final nail in the coffin. "But, I'm sure you can ask him yourself because he is here today..."

Olivia turned hurriedly, smacking into the man she had run from for so long – her husband. Wesley White was tall and spindly; a mass of blonde hair and Saville Row suits. He was horribly rich and esteemed, a self-made billionaire from England that Paolo and I had found after delving into Olivia’s past. It didn’t take much to get him on our side, especially after he revealed Olivia had embezzled 1 million pounds from him and had never really had a career in fashion at all. Infact, it seemed that any money Olivia had made in the past, she had stolen from other people. It made sense that she would want to inherit her father’s company as quickly as possible; after all, Olivia Hudson 
was broke.

“Hello, Olivia,” Wesley smiled, a self-satisfied glint in his eye. “Nice to see you again. We have a lot of catching up to do.”

The room was quiet for a moment before both Alexander and Olivia realised that they had been caught; Alexander seemed more annoyed at his daughter than anything else. She had kept her marriage a secret from her father so that she could take everything he had worked for and Alexander had tried to sell his own daughter to dip into his early retirement fund. It seemed that they were both as bad as each other.

“This is all your fault,” Olivia was suddenly livid. “You’ve ruined everything!”

She leapt at me quickly, a mass of long nails and bouquets. I felt the weight of her hands tousling my hair, grabbing it firmly at the roots and swinging me around. Will pried her from me, her spitting face struggling to be held back from behind the veil.

“Get your hands off me!” She pushed Will away roughly. “You know, you two are a great match – you are both as crazy as each other.”
“Crazy in love, maybe,” Will smiled coyly.
“So in love that you didn’t even notice that your letters never got to one another?” Olivia laughed coldly.
“It was you!” I exclaimed. “You intercepted the letters!”
“And I’d do it all over again too. Infact, I read every single one you wrote your little sweetheart here – I read all about the aching and the longing for him. How does it feel to know that whilst you felt the way I was sharing a bed with him?"

Now it was my turn to get angry and I slapped Olivia so hard that she let out a low growl, her face flipping in the other direction. She grabbed my the shoulders, her long nails digging into the skin, and dragged me towards the fountain.

“I’ll kill you!” She screamed, her eyes cat-like in their sockets.
“Not if I do it first!” I gave her one final shove.

She tumbled into the water easily; her huge, white dress weighing her down and dragging her under the shallow water. When she eventually emerged, her hair hung in sodden strands around her face and her face was smudged with mascara stains. It was the first time that I had seen Olivia Hudson look truly awful. Almost immediately, she began to cry bitter tears but not out of sadness; she cried at the fact she was ruined and there was nothing she could do anymore. I had taken Olivia Hudson down, literally, and succeeded.

“Come now, Olivia,” Wesley attempted to help her up. “Nobody likes a sore loser. We need to have a chat – how about you start by telling me about that little present you gave yourself from my bank account?"

He dragged her off into the distance, her legs flailing underneath the dress like a spoiled child. Wesley kept her at distance, holding onto her dress to make sure she couldn’t run off anymore and instead chatted eagerly to her father who seemed totally embarrassed. I watched with a quiet sense of self satisfaction knowing that Olivia Hudson was finally gone and she couldn’t ruin things for me anymore.

“You really can’t do things quietly, can you?” Will chuckled next to me.
“Nope,” I smiled. “But you love it really. I would be boring without that side.”
“I love everything about you, Emily Masson, even the crazy parts.”
“Can we just start over?”
“Of course,” A small smile formed on Will’s lips. “Emily! I can’t believe it – I haven’t seen you in so long."
“Will Joseph?” I played along, shaking his hand. “Fancy seeing you here.”
“If you're not busy right now, you could join me for a cup of coffee. I don't know about you but I could really use one after the day I've had."
“Tell me about it,” I smiled, reaching my arms around his neck and planting a small kiss on his lips.

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