“Has it only been ninety minutes?” I say, juice dribbling down my chin. “Feels like years.”
Declan walks back into the room. “They had Andrew on the line but lost him. Said he’s pissed and insists on talking to me before we take off. I told them he can go to hell and we’ll talk after we’re in Las Vegas.”
I look at my phone and flap my hands at him, pointing to the phone.
He pivots out of the layers of tartan wool he’s tied around his waist like a pashmina filled with pipe cleaners, and jumps me.
“AAAIIIIIEEEEE!” I scream, howling with laughter, my arm and face covered in strawberry juice, still trying to tell him about the call.
Declan sucks on my face and says, “You taste so sweet. I’ve been waiting to lick you like this.” He runs his tongue along a line of strawberry juice from my wrist to my elbow. “Now it’s time to punish you and give you that spanking you’ve been asking for.”
“Ahem.” Andrew’s disembodied voice sounds about as horrified as you’d imagine.
“Who the hell is that?” Declan bellows, scrambling off me, grabbing the first thing he can find and holding it above his head like a baseball bat.
“It’s just me. Over here. In hell, where you put me.”
“Andrew?” Declan’s exceptional composure crumbles, his eyes wild and frantic as he protects me from the predators of the world with a one-liter green glass bottle of sparkling water that cost more than my last pair of shoes.
He’s such a caveman.
“Where the hell are you?” Declan demands.
I point to my phone.
“You had your phone this entire time?” He looks at my boobs. “Where?”
“In the bouquet.”
“SHANNON! YOUR MOM IS GIVING JESSICA EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS AND INTERVIEWS IN EXCHANGE FOR SOME GUY FOLLOWING YOU AT THE AIRPORT,” Amanda screeches.
Apparently, my mother’s wedding voice volume has transferred to my best friend, like a parasite that wiggled out of Mom’s ear and invaded Amanda’s brain.
“Your bouquet had a smartphone holder?” Declan asks.
“I know, right? Stupid feature.”
“Actually, no. That’s a great feature, and perfect for the weddings at Anterdec’s hotel chains. I need to get ahold of our director for events and—”
“DECLAN!” Andrew shouts into the phone. “I am in hell here. I have your mother-in-law demanding that I ground your jet and have you arrested.”
“Arrested for what?” Declan’s voice cracks like a teen boy in puberty on the last word.
“Again? I am here willingly!” I shout at the phone. “She already tried to ground the helicopter. What the hell is she thinking? I’m here of my own free will!”
“I know that. You know that. Marie damn well knows that. But she’s all over cable news claiming that you stole Shannon.”
“We saw her being interviewed,” I explain. “She doesn’t blame Declan. She blames the president.”
“You saw her being what?” Andrew barks. Declan and I share a confused look.
Amanda’s voice comes through, clearly.
“OH MY GOD, ANDREW, THE COURTYARD IS FULL OF NEWS PEOPLE. MARIE IS BEING INTERVIEWED BY—” Muffled sounds come through the receiver as Andrew returns.
“Who’s interviewing her?” Declan asks. The jet engine begins a low hum, and a knock on the door interrupts us. Declan scrambles to pull on his kilt, which now looks like a jawa that went through a wind tunnel in the rain, and opens the door just as Andrew answers.
The flight attendant gawks at the phone. Declan pivots back, tight jaw now loose and practically on the floor.
“Mr. McCormick? You and Mrs. McCormick need to fasten your seat belts.”
“In bed?” I eye the mattress with a new sense of respect.
“No, Mrs. McCormick.” Mrs. McCormick. A chill runs thorough me. She points to two upholstered chairs next to a lovely oak table. “Those are the takeoff and landing seats.”
“GERALDO RIVERA?” Declan shouts, the non sequitur confusing the poor attendant.
I give her a gentle nudge out the door and assure her we’ll be fine. The hum of the engines is revving up and I tug on Dec’s hand, leading him to the seats. He grabs my phone and takes it off speakerphone.
“Listen,” he snaps. “We know that Marie knows we’re going to Vegas. How in the hell did that happen?”
Mumble mumble mumble mumble.
“She looked at Amanda and figured it out?” Declan says with a derisive snort.
I knew it. Amanda is the weakest link after all.
Declan looks at me. “Should we reroute?”
“Go somewhere else to get married. Not Vegas. They know we’re headed there.”
My hand brushes against a black remote control and I look up, seeing a small screen attached to the wall. Pushing the power button on, an action I will deeply regret in a moment, I flip to the news stations.
My mother’s giant head fills the screen.
“Have Andrew lie. He can tell her we’re going to Atlantic City instead.”
Declan’s face brightens and he mutters into the phone as I take my seat. A few exchanges later and he hands me my phone, settling into his own seat for takeoff.
“She’s not stupid,” he muses, thinking this through. “She’ll figure it out soon. And Anterdec has a great property in Vegas.” He puffs up like a silverback gorilla protecting a harem. “The finest resort on the Strip. We can hide there.”