He is wondering whether my crying means he’s not getting sex today.
“Stop it,” I yell, handing him back his phone.
“Wondering if I’ll sleep with you today.”
“How do you do that?” he bellows, moving his hips just so, taking the pressure off me.
Because I’m right, he can’t argue. I thumb through my own phone. Most of the messages are from Grace, Jessica Coffin, various news stations, Mom, Mom, Mom and more Mom in there. She is on the attack, the messages varying wildly from nasty incrimination to desperate pleading, back to the nasties again.
It’s like reading a string of text messages during my fights with my ex-boyfriend, Steve, only Mom’s language is way more colorful. I think I see Dad in there, too, but after a while it’s all a blur. The buzz of the helicopter as we continue makes it hard to concentrate. Hell, the last ninety minutes makes it impossible to concentrate.
What did we just do?
I select one from my sister, Carol, figuring that should be safe.
Thanks for replacing my Worst Wedding Ever. Mom and I are bonding over this, she wrote. Please get married by a Liberace impersonator in Vegas. Mom hates Elvis, but she hates Liberace even more.
“DECLAN!” I shout, pointing to my phone in horror. “THEY KNOW ABOUT VEGAS!”
Side note: I’m so glad to perform an important emotional function for my sister. Huh.
Dec grunts, the sound full of angry chagrin, and stares out the window, thinking.
Our secret lasted a whopping thirty minutes. It’s a record.
I grit my teeth and move on to one from Josh.
Can I have all your centerpieces? he wrote.
Greg’s text says, Hey! Heard you’re going to Vegas. We have some mystery shopping clients there and if you happen to—
DELETE. How in the hell did they find out?
Amanda. Amanda’s my bestie. Her messages will be a supportive balm that will get me through this time of crisis. Plus, she’ll tell me who told Mom. I’ll bet Andrew cracked. I open the most recent text from her.
Jessica Coffin is here at your abandoned wedding reception telling three different cable channels all about #poopwatch, Amanda texted. Your wedding hashtags are now #smartgroomwhew #poopwatchbride and #runawaybillionaire
Text messages are so overrated.
Vegas. I’m numb. Mom knows we’re going to Vegas.
“Shannon,” Declan says, pulling the headphone off my left ear, whispering in a husky voice. “Until ninety minutes ago, my day was pretty simple. Wake up. Take care of business in the shower so I don’t turn into Two-Minute Husband on our wedding night—”
“Never mind. It’s not important.” He frowns. “Scratch that. It is important, but that’s not what I want to talk about now.” He shakes his head quickly, then resumes his list, ticking off each item with a finger. “Shave. Go to Farmington Country Club. Wiggle like a space worm being poked by harpoons to get into the damn kilt. Remove underwear. Put on socks and shoes with laces. Add man purse and tux jacket. Grit teeth while Andrew laughs at me. Wait for Andrew to stop laughing. Gently punch Andrew’s arm when he won’t stop pointing and laughing.”
He runs out of fingers and starts over.
“Really punch Andrew’s arm. Kick Andrew out of the wedding party room with a snarl and a glare. Find you. Find you screaming at Marie. Insert self between you and Marie. Listen to your escape fantasy—”
“That is not how the day went—” I protest, but he cuts me off.
“Make the escape happen.” His words have such an anguished finality to them. “Here I am. I did it. I succeeded. Victory is mine. Then why do I feel so hollow?”
The earpiece crackles as the helicopter pilot says a series of disjointed syllables that sound like someone with heated marbles in their mouth trying to sing The Star Spangled Banner.
“She’s what?” Declan says, holding his earpiece tight against his ear. He looks down at me and mutters, “Your mom called the FAA and tried to report this aircraft as a hijack.”
“You understood that?”
“No.” Declan’s words sink in. “My mom did what?”
“Tried to ground us and have me arrested.”
“Arrested? For hijacking?”
The pilot says more mumbo jumbo.
“Kidnapping? Is she insane?”
“She was insane long before she tried to have the FAA down this copter.”
I grunt, the sound decidedly unfeminine, and whack him in the chest. So much for romance.
“You’re hitting me because I’m telling the truth about your mother?” he asks, incredulity flowing like melted butter at an all-night Vegas lobster buffet.
“Maybe the insanity is genetic.”
I reach under the kilt, knowing what I’ll find, and grab something. He sits up so fast, and so straight, that he bangs his head on the helicopter ceiling. I have a death grip on his joystick.
“That’s um, quite a hold you have on—”
“This can go two ways. That is the wonder of our world. We’re yin and yang. Good and evil. Black and white,” I shout above the noise. “Pain and pleasure.” I squeeze, giving him a taste of both. “Love and hate. I know you hate my mother right now. A part of me does, too. But the constant negative comments about her are getting old.” I give him an icy glare. He gives me a smoldering look.