“They look like ants,” I shout to Declan as the helicopter lifts me away from the crazy chaos of my mother’s insane wedding. I do not speak in error. That wedding? That’s not my wedding. It’s not Declan’s wedding.
It’s my mom’s wedding, and the relief mixed with terror that pumps through my bloodstream right now confirms that I’m doing the right thing.
My inertia, combined with my future father-in-law’s huge error in giving her a bottomless wallet to spend on the wedding, turned my mother into a Momzilla.
A tiny speck of a screaming, frothing Momzilla.
Is it my fault the grin that spreads across my face makes me feel like Dr. Evil? No.
It’s her fault.
Declan’s arm is around my shoulders. He’s bent forward, our seat belts firmly on but our bodies leaning so we can look out the window. We can’t hear a thing, but my mother is jumping in the air like a trained poodle leaping for a snack.
Except poodles don’t look that murderous.
The crowd moves like one entity, the edges coalescing and flowing forward, toward Mom, as people realize something’s gone wrong.
We’ve gone wrong. Me and Declan. The bride and groom have escaped from their own wedding.
Did I make the right choice? Doubt pours over me like hot fudge on salted caramel ice cream. You know. Like it’s a requirement.
The little purse around Declan’s waist, called a sporran, buzzes and jolts like it’s filled with Mexican jumping beans, leaping and slapping against his crotch.
“You answering that?” I ask. Clearly, this is Declan’s phone going nuts with texts and calls.
“No.” He shakes his head and settles back into his seat, closing his eyes and letting out a long, extended sigh that stretches back in time about, oh, a year. Back to his proposal.
I’ve heard that sigh before.
It’s the sound of exorcising my Momzilla.
“Your sporran looks like it’s having more sex with you than I’ve had this week,” I note. I have no idea what I was thinking when I imposed a three day pre-wedding abstinence rule on my poor fiancé. When you’re apart as much as we are because of his crazy travel schedule, the times we are together involve making up for lost time. Lots of making up.
Like, two or three times a day of making up.
Three days without, when we’re in the same city, is like twenty years. I would imagine having anything vibrate that close to balls so blue I might as well start calling him Papa Smurf would—
Declan’s mouth is on mine before I can continue that thought. The warm press of giddiness tinged with authority makes me melt into him, body twisted to take in his heat. We’re ascending amid chaos and noise, the helicopter pilot trusted with our welfare, his job clear:
Get us away from that jumping poodle on the lawn.
Er, my mother.
Declan’s tongue pulls me to him, his hands cupping my jaw, his strength guiding me closer and closer to him, until our kiss is all raw energy and desperate need. We’ve just thrust a giant middle finger at all the people who helped put the gala of the decade together, and even though my fiancé—he’s still just my fiancé—is doing his damnedest to get me to think more about Papa Smurf than about Momzilla, I can’t.
I break the kiss, breathing hard. Am I panting from panic, desire, or...both?
“We abandoned everyone!” I shout. Panic wins. “Is Amanda okay? She nearly drowned! I’m leaving my bestie in crisis! And my dad—oh, Daddy, I feel so bad.”
“Jason’s down there absorbing the wrath of Marie, I’m sure,” Declan says in a soothing voice. Well, as soothing as you can be when you’re shouting above the pftt-pftt-pftt of helicopter blades cutting through the air a few feet above us. “And he’ll understand. Jason’s fine. They all will. And Amanda and Andrew seemed fine, too. It’ll all be fine,” he soothes.
I scowl. There were a few too many “fines” in there. I’m suspicious. “How can you be so sure?”
“Because I don’t give a rat’s ass what they think or feel.” He gives me a thumbs-up and a big grin.
My turn for that long, exorcising sigh.
“You, on the other hand,” he shouts, one hand sliding up my calf and going for the garter, “you, I would like to feel very much.”
I slap his hand away. He snatches it back like I used a taser on him, his eyes wide and just a little feral. I give him a good, thorough look. God, he’s gorgeous. The cut of his dark jacket, short at the waist to show off the kilt that rests like a woman’s fingers against his mid-thigh, makes me pause. That McCormick tartan picks up a color that matches those eyes, which are currently looking at me with a mixture of I want to be in you and—
Actually, and nothing. There is nothing else those eyes are saying right now.
“Seriously, Dec? We just fled a thousand-person wedding in our honor and all you can think about is getting above the garter?”
His confusion just increases. “Yes,” he answers honestly.
I throw my hands in the air, whacking some sort of strap that stretches behind my shoulder. It begins to flap in the wind as we race toward whatever landing strip we’ll use to disembark. As it fut-fut-futs against my veil, I realize the wind isn’t whipping the long, white lace behind me. When we crawled into the helicopter and Declan put on my harness, he tucked my veil in.
I love him so much.
Yet someone has to be the target for my guilt. My confusion. My regret. My joy. My...all of it.
And while we aren’t husband and wife just yet, he’s got a big red emotional bull’s-eye on him right now.