‘No, he’s not like the rest of you,’ Lana whispers, but her voice is full of horror.
Victoria’s response is instant. Like a dagger. From her mouth into Lana’s heart. ‘Is it possible that you are truly that blind or are you just a willfully stupid cunt?’
The movement is fast, confused. There is a sudden blur of flesh. She jerks her wine glass upward, and red liquid flies out in a graceful arc—no, no, not the beautiful dress—and splashes onto Lana’s dress. The glass falls to the carpet, rolls away soundlessly.
You f**king animal, I want to scream, but I am too shocked and horrified to react, and so, it appears, is Lana. The attack is so sudden, so unexpected. Lana is just standing there white-faced and paralyzed, even as the devil woman, her face twisted with homicidal rage, raises her arm and lets it smash down towards Lana’s face. But the strike splicing the air never reaches. A man standing nearby, who had earlier simply seemed to me to be a slightly inebriated guest, suddenly and with lightning speed catches the slap mid-air.
He twists her body against his own, as she struggles and kicks ineffectively in his vise-like arm lock. At that moment she looks as repulsive as any slimy bug you would find wriggling under a wet stone. Even in the large man’s grip, Victoria never takes her eyes off Lana. Her features contorted, and hissing like a venomous snake, she pushes her face forward. A spray of spittle falls across Lana’s cheek. They stare at each other. The concentrated, utter hatred is shocking.
‘You don’t know him. You can never know him,’ she enunciates coldly and clearly, her eyes glittering triumphantly, even as the man begins to drag her away.
Lana simply stares at her, her mouth slack with shock, as if she cannot comprehend the viciousness of the other woman. Her hands are visibly trembling. At that moment for the first time in my life I feel sorry for her. All these people staring at her humiliation with the same mixture of pity and horrified curiosity of people who slow down at car crashes to watch.
Poor Lana. Her beautiful wedding has been utterly ruined. And the dress that she had loved so much is surely beyond redemption. I remember her saying, ‘I’ll store it carefully in case my daughter wants to wear it some day.’
Another man in a suit, but obviously part of the security service too, runs up to help and the bitch is bodily picked up and carted away. That is when she screams something that stills my heart and makes the hairs at the back of my neck rise.
‘He has blood on his hands. Children’s blood,’ she screeches maniacally.
Her words seem to slam into Lana. She flinches and sways on her feet.
‘One day I will kill you,’ is the last thing Victoria screams before she starts venting her fury at the men who are dragging her away. ‘Let go of me, you f**king, ugly cunt. Take your filthy hands off me right now. Do you know who I am?’ She is still hurling abuse and insults when she is dragged outside, with a hand probably clamped over her mouth.
Nobody moves. The tension in the room is so palpable that the music suddenly seems overly loud and jarring. Another ‘guest’ detaches himself from the frozen milieu of people and goes up to Lana. His eyes are watchful and hard.
‘Are you all right?’ he asks. His voice is soft and kindly, at odds with the cold light in his eyes.
Lana nods mutely, and as soon as the best man appears beside Lana, he nods again, and goes the way of the other men and their struggling captive.
Vann Wolfe puts his arm around Lana’s shoulders and looks down at her, kindness in his eyes. From the corner of my eyes I see Billie start running towards Lana. She looks utterly furious. There is a white line around her mouth. But she comes to a sudden standstill, and when I look to where her gaze is, I see Blake striding towards Lana.
His eyes are terrifying and his jaw is clenched so hard the muscles in his neck are rigid. I will never forget that look of unbreakable purpose as long as I live. There is no one else in the room for him. Only Lana. When he reaches her, the best man falls back, and she raises her shocked eyes up to him.
‘She’ll never stop, will she?’ she gasps. Her eyes are large and wounded.
‘No harm can befall a single hair on your head while I am alive,’ he tells her tenderly. The deep love he has for her is unmistakable. It shines in his eyes, radiates out of his being.
Tears fill her eyes.
At the sight of her tears even the backs of my own eyes start stinging. The awfulness of what has happened is impossible to describe. How wrong it had all gone in the blink of an eye. I thought back to how happy she had been while we were all getting ready this morning.
‘My dress—’ she whispers hoarsely.
‘Can be recreated to the last stitch. Remember…’ he reminds so gently, I am startled. How could a man with such cold, hard eyes be so utterly gentle and tender? It seems inconceivable. I watch transfixed as he simply gazes into her eyes and something deep and secret seems to pass between them. A something that I have never known. A look of belonging. The tears that were brimming in her eyes spill over. With one finger he gently wipes first one cheek and then the other.
‘Thank God for waterproof mascara,’ he says.
Must be some private joke, because Lana sniffs and smiles weakly.
‘That’s my baby,’ he says, and raises a hand almost like a child asking the teacher for permission to be excused. In fact it is a cue. Suddenly all the light cuts out except for the twinkling lights that look like diamonds in the velvet blackness of the ceiling. Two spotlights come on and, searching the room, find them.
Lana looks surprised.
In the darkness comes the disembodied, honeyed, deeply baritone voice of Barry White, ‘We got it together, didn’t we?’ And that sexy guffaw he had.
After that a sound like rushing water, then another like a didgeridoo, a vibrating haunting sound, and then the keys of a piano are tinkled… I know this song… Of course… Rihanna’s unmistakable, silky voice cuts through the dark, ‘Shine bright like a diamond.’
Inside the spotlights, Blake curls one large hand around Lana’s delicate hand and his other hand goes to rest on the small of her back, and then he is whirling her around and they are dancing their first dance, a beautifully choreographed paso. Their movements so perfectly matched it’s like a real life Come Dancing.
No one speaks. No one moves. Everybody is staring at the splendid sight of two very beautiful people dipping and whirling round and round the dance area. Their movements fluid, effortless, perfectly matched and undeniably majestic.