“Daddy will try to talk some reason into her. Besides, it’s not like she and my father have piles of money to come chasing after us,” I say, giggling with the absurdity of all this. “They will run out of funds faster than Anterdec will.”
Declan blinks. “Andrew’s letting her use the other jet.”
“What? I thought it was in Central America on a humanitarian mission!”
“It happened to finish early. Landing in Boston in about three hours.”
“Then assign it to another mission!”
“That’s not how this works.”
“Make it work that way! Lord knows there’s always another natural disaster somewhere that needs your plane to deliver supplies, and if there isn’t, create one.”
“I can’t create a natural disaster, Shannon.”
“Sure you can! Corporations do it all the time! Conglomerates are more powerful than governments! Mom can’t have access to an entire corporate jet, so do whatever it takes.”
“She can when she’s driving Andrew nuts. He’ll say anything to get her to leave him and Amanda alone.”
“What does Amanda have to do with this?”
His answer is eaten by the roar of the plane engines as we lift off, the rumble of the plane’s effort to stay steady and adjust to the cross-winds turning my already-jangled nerves into a ball of nausea. So much of the day has turned into a circus. A farce. An abomination and distortion of everything I know, and as the plane takes off the ugly tears hit me, driving hard through my body, sending me into a wretched, breath-holding sob that feels like I’m dying.
Declan’s face, etched with alarm as he watches me, breaks my heart, because I’ve never seen him so helpless.
He comforts me the only way you can when you’re on a private corporate jet, escaping your own wedding.
Bedrooms on planes should be a requirement. Like landing gear, seat cushions as flotation devices, and microscopic packets of peanuts, bedrooms need to be on every plane.
“I’m officially a member of the Mile-High Club,” I crow, snuggled next to Declan, both of us naked under the sheets. If I smoked, I’d totally be sucking off a Camel right now.
Okay. That sounds so wrong. Let me rephrase that...
“Round Two was decidedly longer,” he says. That’s it? That’s all the man is going to say?
“You’re still fixated on being Mr. Two-Minute Man when we got on the plane?”
“That was your fault.”
“How was it my fault?”
“You primed the pump, so to speak, back in the helicopter.”
Trying to fix my faux pas with a well-timed kiss, I melt into the connection of our mouths, the rumble of the jet plane making it hard to truly relax. Even a smooth flight like this one, aboard a skillfully-flown private jet, isn’t the same as being on the ground and in a bed that isn’t moving at a rate of six hundred miles per hour.
At least, um, most of the time we’re in it.
“You can’t just kiss me every time you say something objectionable and think I’ll let you get away with it,” Declan says with a condescending sniff.
“Since when?” I ask, agog.
He frowns. “Huh. Good point.” His cheek grazes against my bare breast, face skimming my nude body until I’m giggling, then gasping, and finally moaning his name again.
“One hour to arrival time, sir,” says the attendant outside the door. Declan sighs. We’ve been in a bubble for the past four hours, dozing off, making love, and trying to ignore my smartphone, which has been buzzing so much it might as well be a vibrator.
“In an hour we’ll land and take the limo to the resort,” Declan says, watching me dress, face tense but a smirk tickling his lips.
“Anterdec owns two of them on the Strip in Las Vegas. But one is so much better.” There’s that smug smile again.
“Which ones? I know about Litraeon.” Which sounds like a citrus car. Every time someone at Anterdec mentions it I think of a giant lemon on wheels. “What’s the other one?”
He snorts. “A total dive at the bad end of town called Louie’s Stiff One.”
“Is it a brothel?” I shimmy back into my wedding dress. We don’t have anything else to wear. Neither of us expected to escape the wedding, so we packed no bags. I’m lucky to have my phone and wallet, and Declan’s sporran has his basic ID and credit cards, I assume.
Wherever we’re going, we’ll have to go like this.
“Not a brothel. Even Dad won’t let us own whorehouses.”
“‘Whorehouse’? What is this, 1984? Are you Burt Reynolds?”
He looks at my half-clothed bosom. “If that means you’re Dolly Parton, I sure am.”
I throw a loose chair pillow at his head and miss. Green, mischievous eyes laugh at me.
“That’s what Dad calls them!” he protests, tossing the pillow back, but in a playful manner. This is my Declan. I haven’t seen this side of him in ages. The wedding has taken every spare bit of oxygen from our relationship and left it spasming, choking and gasping for air.
Now we can breathe.
“James isn’t exactly the epitome of pop culture knowledge.” The man still refers to his “briefcase phone” at times and drinks Tab.
“We’re not going into the sex trade, so it doesn’t matter what term we use.”
“You own those O spas,” I remind him. “Those are super-close to being in the sex trade, if what Mom and Amanda reported is true.”