This Man Confessed (Page 2)
I cringe on the spot. ‘Just for guests, mum.’
‘Oh, well, I’m sure he’ll make an exception for family. Your grandparents would’ve thought they were in Buckingham Palace, God rest their souls.’ She faffs with my hair, and I bat her fussing hands away. ‘Have you wiggled your way into your underwear yet?’ She runs her chocolate eyes up and down my robe covered body. ‘It’s nearly time.’
I slip my robe off again and drape it on the bed. ‘Yes, I need you to fasten it.’ I turn my back to her and pull my hair over my shoulder. Two weeks of Jesse’s hands working cream into my back has cleared all evidence of my thrashing. The physical marks are gone, but that day will be forever etched on my brain.
‘Ah, okay.’ She commences securing all of the hook and eyes. ‘Ava, you should see the summer room. It looks absolutely beautiful. You’re so lucky to have such a wonderful place to get married. Women re-mortgage to afford venues like this.’
I’m glad she can’t see my face because she would see a painfully uncomfortable expression. ‘I know.’ I’ve seen the room and it does look beautiful—Tessa, our wedding planner, made sure of it. But then, every part of The Manor oozes splendour, anyway, wedding or not. I’ve done very little in the preparations of my own wedding. Jesse presented me with Tessa the day after I agreed to marry him, a small indication that my challenging man had already sourced her to take on the role of organising our wedding—the wedding we were supposed to discuss together like adults. And, quite conveniently, The Manor also holds a wedding licence. I didn’t even ask how he achieved that. All I’ve done for my wedding is visit Zoe to find my dress. I’ve had no planning stress, just location stress.
‘There.’ Mum turns me around and sweeps my hair back over my shoulder. She’s looking at me thoughtfully, and I know what’s coming. ‘Darling, can your mother offer you some advice?’
‘No.’ I answer quickly on a small smile.
She returns my smile and sits me on the end of the bed. ‘When you become a wife, you become the core of your husband.’ She smiles fondly. ‘Let him think he’s in charge, let him think you can’t live without him, but never let him take your independence or identity, darling. They need their ego’s stroked, these men.’ She laughs a little. ‘They like to think they’re wearing the trousers, and you have to let them believe it.’
I shake my head a little. ‘Mum, this isn’t necessary.’
‘Yes, it is.’ she insists. ‘Men are complicated creatures.’
I scoff. She has no idea how complicated my creature is. ‘I know.’
‘And whilst they maintain a strong, manly façade, they are weak without us!’ She pulls my blushing face to hers. ‘Ava, I can see that Jesse loves you, and I admire his frankness when it comes to how he feels about you, but remember who you are. Never let him change you, darling.’
‘He won’t change me, mum.’ I’m not at all comfortable with this conversation. Mum and dad stayed with us for two days after Jesse proposed, and have been back in London since Wednesday, so they have had the full-on experience of Jesse’s way with me, minus the countdowns and various degrees of f**kings. They have witnessed the smothering, the constant touching and affection, and their quiet observations haven’t gone unnoticed. Not on my part, anyway. Jesse is oblivious. No, not oblivious, he just doesn’t care, and I’m not about to stop him. I crave the constant contact, just as much as he does.
Mum smiles at me. ‘He wants to look after you, and he’s made it quite clear you’re precious to him. It makes me and your father so happy to know that you’ve found a man who adores you, a man who’ll walk through fire for you.’
‘I adore him, too.’ I say quietly. The sincerity of my mum’s words is tugging at my vocal cords, making my voice a little quivery. ‘Please don’t make me cry. My make-up will be ruined.’
She clasps my cheeks in her palms and plants a kiss on my lips. ‘Yes, let’s stop with the emotional stuff. Just don’t ever do anything that you don’t want to. I can also see he could be quite persuasive.’ I actually laugh, and mum laughs with me. Persuasive? ‘It’s such a shame his family couldn’t be here.’ she muses.
I wince a little. ‘I’ve told you, they live abroad. They’re not very close.’ I’ve only vaguely outlined the reason for Jesse’s lack of family. Very vaguely. The story that Jesse spun me when we first met sufficed. It’s perfectly plausible.
‘Money,’ she sighs. ‘It causes more family rifts than anything else.’
‘It does,’ I agree. So do sex houses and playboy uncles.
We’re interrupted by another knock at the door and Mum leaves me on the bed to answer it. ‘Oh, that’ll be Kate.’ she sings.
‘I have drinks! Wow, Elizabeth, you look incredible!’ Kate’s excited voice creeps into the room before she barrels past my mother and hits me with delighted blue eyes. ‘Aren’t you dressed yet?’ she asks, setting a tray on the wooden chest. She looks fabulous in a simple, ivory satin dress, her long curls a mass of red flames surrounding her pale face—my only bridesmaid, but with the enthusiasm of ten.
‘Just about to.’ I stand myself up and adjust my b***s in my cups again.
‘Here, have one of these.’ She thrusts a glass of pink liquid at me.
‘Oh, yes, you must!’ Mum chants, closing the door and hastily making her way over to scoop one up for herself. She takes a long sip and gasps. ‘Oh, that little Italian knows how to keep a lady happy.’