“How can you think about sex at a time like this?” I chirp. We’re in a half-open helicopter with a guy who looks like Mad Max piloting this black bird of doom.
“It’s my wedding day and I have a case of blue balls so bad that these puppies could be weather balloons right now.”
Add in this unmarked helicopter and we’re pretty much turning into an episode of The X-Files.
“And besides,” he adds, “when do I not think about sex?”
“When you’re sleeping.”
He points at me, winks, and then uses the pointer finger to run a slow, sensual line along my neckline. I inhale sharply through my nose and fight the tingle that spreads across my skin.
I don’t fight hard, mind you, but I do fight.
A little. I try. I try about as hard as Kim Davis trying to issue a gay marriage license.
“Even then,” he says in a low voice, so quiet I shouldn’t be able to hear him above the fracas of the machinery, and yet I can. “Even in my slumber, I dream of you.”
As I pull Declan in for a kiss and let my hands say a few vows for me, substituting for the words I was supposed to say right about, oh, now, a buzzing begins in a place between us that feels a little too good.
“I didn’t know you could make that vibrate,” I marvel as I snuggle in even closer.
“That’s my phone,” he says bitterly, pulling the sporran out from between us.
“Don’t look so disappointed.” He shuts it off completely, then taps the pilot on the shoulder. The two exchange words, and as the sentences fly back and forth I realize I can’t understand them. Not because of the noise, but because they’re speaking in Russian.
We have a Russian pilot? In an unmarked black helicopter?
I look nervously at Declan and realize how little I really do know about him.
Declan frowns at his screen.
His eyebrows shoot up in amusement. “You think it’s anything but bad? Shannon, we just ditched our own wedding. There were seven camera crews from various news and entertainment programs covering the damn event. Andrew is being waterboarded by Marie right now to get our destination out of him.”
“How tough is he? Will he crack?”
Declan affixes me with a dark look. “You’re fluffy and klutzy on the outside, but underneath you’re hard core.”
My turn to give him a thumbs-up and a grin.
Suddenly, my mouth is occupied by other actions. He tastes so good. Like freedom and promise, like peppermint and wind, like the absence of the desperate clawing sensation that tickled my chest for the past year as this wedding turned into something that separated us, rather than bringing us together.
This escape isn’t an act of immaturity. Quite the opposite. It is the only reasonable option in a sea of unreasonableness called Mom.
Yet my conscience just won’t stop.
The tears run down my cheeks as the kiss slows, his lips warm and tender against mine, his palm moving across my face with the gentle motion of a man who realizes I’m crying.
And I can’t stop.
“It’s okay,” he says, pulling me in for an awkward embrace. The seatbelt harnesses make any act of intimacy nearly impossible, but Declan’s determined. “Go ahead,” he murmurs against my face, pulling one earphone off. “Feel what you feel.”
And I do, in his arms, racing away from the cacophony of a thousand people who fade as we do exactly what we’re supposed to do as husband and wife.
Turn two into one.
As Declan holds me, he grabs his phone and looks at the flood of messages. Is this as bad as it seems?
“Four hundred messages?” he shouts. “I normally have hundreds of text messages a day. I have four hundred from the past thirty minutes.”
It’s that bad.
“Um, I’m sure it’s not as bad as it seems,” I shout, trying to reassure him, even though panic is spreading through me faster than Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune giveaway rumors on Facebook.
“An hour ago all I could think about was making sure I said my vows without making a fool of myself. Now I’m wondering if Marie is assembling tactical drones to take us out. And charging the bill to my dad!” Declan says in a firm, clipped voice.
I wince and say nothing, keeping my eyes closed, burrowing into him as he thumbs, and thumbs, and thumbs his way through all those messages, making deep grunts of discontent that alternate between sounding like a Star Wars Wookiee and a Highlander with a chest cold.
Then he lets go of me and types rapidly, pauses, types, pauses—a cycle that becomes maddening as his biceps keep boxing my ear.
I finally pluck the phone from him and read the messages myself. Most of them are back-and-forth missives between Declan and Grace, his longtime admin. But then:
Answer your damn phone, Andrew’s text says.
Can’t, Declan has texted back.
You ass, he replies. Andrew isn’t the most delicate person when it comes to making a point.
K, Declan answered.
K? K? What are you, 13? Andrew replied. You owe me big. So big.
I know. How about I make you CEO? Oh. Wait, Declan typed back.
Andrew replied with an emoticon that is too vulgar to describe.
I give up. We escaped. The sight of all one-thousand wedding guests assembled below us like a refugee airlift, only with Champagne and really good cake, lingers in my mind as I begin to softly cry against the leather strap of Declan’s sporran. He shifts. I feel his erection, and he clears his throat meaningfully. The sound is so subtle, but I detect it even above the helicopter rotor’s auditory domination.