Isobel And Callum Get Married
A Benson Security Short Story
“I can’t do it.” Isobel doubled over, wedging her head between her knees in an attempt to ease the spinning in her head. It didn’t work. Instead, all that happened was her dress tried to suffocate her.
“Why did I pick this dress?” She batted at the skirt, but it still remained voluminous. “What was I thinking? There’s so much satin, it’s eating me alive. And it’s white. I can’t wear white. I have two kids, an ex-husband and a teenage pregnancy in my past.”
“I hate to break it to you, honey,” her youngest sister Mairi said. “The two kids aren’t only in your past.”
“Mum!” Her three-year-old shouted from where she was sitting in the corner of the room drawing pictures. She held up her latest masterpiece and beamed.
“Very nice,” Isobel said absently and Sophie went back to her art.
The walls of the bedroom she shared with Callum were closing in on Isobel. The air was getting thicker by the second. She had to get out. But her three sisters were between her and the door. Jumping to her feet, she gathered up her dress and paced.
“This is a mistake. I shouldn’t be getting married. I have a crap track record with relationships. What if Callum turns out to be just like Robert? What then? I’ve moved myself and my kids to London to live with him. What was I thinking? If this goes belly-up, we’ll be homeless. I’ve risked the security of my children, just because I can’t keep my pants on around the man. I’m a terrible mother!”
“Calm down,” Agnes snapped. “Callum is nothing like Robert. He’s honorable, and stable, and doesn’t have a gambling habit.”
“Hotter too,” Mairi added.
“Scarier,” Donna muttered from her perch on the arm of the sofa.
A sofa. In her bedroom. “Look at this place.” Isobel waved her arm to indicate the room. “This one room is bigger than my last house.”
“Is that really the most important thing to focus on right now?” Agnes tossed her blonde hair, folded her arms and tapped her toe with growing frustration.
Isobel ignored her. Agnes had nothing to be irritated about. She wasn’t the one getting married.
Married! What was she doing? She was so out of her league it wasn’t funny.
“He owns a successful business. He travels the world. He’s got skills and an education.” Isobel stomped across the polished wooden floor until she came to the wall, then she turned and stomped back again. “What do I have? Two kids. No money. No skills. Nothing. He’s going to regret marrying me and then he’ll leave me.” She pressed a hand to her suddenly roiling stomach. “I cannot have another failed relationship. I’m only thirty-three!”
“Maybe I should call Callum.” Donna dug her phone out of her handbag.
“Don’t you dare.” Isobel glared at her and Donna froze in place.
The last thing she needed was for Callum to see her in hysterics. He’d think he caused it. That his prosthetic legs were giving her second thoughts. But Callum wasn’t the problem. It was her. All her.
“I’m sure Callum would help.” Donna’s eyes grew wide and she held up a placating hand.
“I swear I will hurt you if you call him.” Isobel wasn’t sure how threatening she looked dressed as a meringue, but it didn’t take much to intimidate her middle sister. As expected, Donna backed down.
“Oh for goodness’ sake.” Agnes strode over to Donna and snatched the phone from her hand. “Nobody’s calling anyone. You,” she pointed at Donna, “are going to sit quietly while I deal with this. And you,” she pointed at Isobel, “are going to calm the hell down and remember you love the man you’re marrying.”
“Hell!” Sophie shouted from her corner.
“Great, now she’s cursing.” Isobel glared at Agnes who was unrepentant.
Sophie, meanwhile, happily went back to coloring.
Isobel glared at her sisters. “This isn’t about love. It’s about marriage. I can’t get married. I thought I could, but I can’t.” She tugged at the bodice of her dress. “I need to get out of this. I’m suffocating.”
“No!” Agnes snapped. “We just got you into it.”
Isobel was past listening. She clawed at the dress, popping the pearl buttons on the back that Donna had painstakingly fastened for her.
“Give me back my phone,” Donna sounded hysterical. “I’m calling Callum.”
“No. You’re not,” Agnes ordered. “She’s just having a wobble.”
Mairi burst out laughing. “Is that what we’re calling it? If she’s wobbling, then the two of you are wobbling right along with her.”
Isobel tugged the dress over her hips, letting it fall to the floor, and stepped out of it. She bent, scooped it up and threw it into the corner.
“Tent!” Sophie shouted and climbed into the dress.
“Not with your markers!” Agnes dove for her niece.
They all watched as Agnes fought to remove the giggling three-year-old from the dress.
“Anyone got stain remover?” Agnes said in disgust as she stood clutching Sophie. “The white dress now has pink graffiti.”
Isobel stopped pacing long enough to look at her beaming daughter. At some point in the past five minutes, Sophie had decided she needed makeup and had added some to her face with her marker pens. A red scrawl covered her lips and cheeks and there were two wonky blue circles around her eyes.
“See?” Isobel pointed at her. “Look at her face. Nothing’s going right. It’s a sign. The universe knows I shouldn’t get married again!”
“Get a grip.” Agnes removed the pens from the giggling three-year-old before she could draw on her face too. “This isn’t a sign. It’s hysterics.” She handed Sophie to Mairi. “Can you clean her up?”
“Come here, gorgeous,” Mairi said. “We’ll take this off and I’ll let you play with some real makeup.”
“No!” Agnes said.
Mairi rolled her eyes. “I was only going to give her the brushes. Seriously, give me some credit here. I’m not the one having a meltdown an hour before I’m due to get married.”
Donna picked up the discarded wedding dress. “I could maybe clean this with some nail polish remover.” She didn’t sound hopeful.
Isobel didn’t care. She needed to pace. And to rant. Nothing else mattered, and she seriously wished her sisters would bog off and let her get on with it.
The door crashed open, making three of the women squeal.
“Clam!” Sophie held her arms out to Callum.
“Later, my girl.” He gave her a gentle smile. “I need to deal with your mum, and by the looks of things, you need to have your face washed.”
Sophie giggled and ducked her head into Mairi’s neck. It was then Isobel noticed Mairi wasn’t surprised to see Callum standing in the doorway.
“Traitor!” Isobel pointed at her youngest sister. “You sent him a text.”
Mairi shrugged. “Yep. I told him to get his arse up here and to bring some heavy sedation along with him.” She looked up at Callum. “Please tell me you have the power to drug her.”
Callum’s eyes bore through Isobel, making her freeze in place. The desire to pace fleeing under his gaze. All she could do was stare back at him. He was devastatingly handsome in his black tux, which somehow made him seem even more manly and dangerous than usual.
“James Bond,” Donna muttered, obviously seeing the same thing Isobel did.
“She doesn’t need something to calm her down,” Callum said. “She just needs to remember what she’s doing and why she’s doing it.”
He strode across the room until he stood in front of her. His strong hand reached down to clasp her nape. “Hey darlin’,” was all he said. But that deep rumbling brogue of his seeped right through her bones, providing a warm balm for her agitated soul as it did so.
Isobel couldn’t speak. All she could do was stare up at the man she loved to distraction, willing him to understand something she didn’t fully understand herself—the reason why she was freaking out.
His eyes scanned her face. “You love me,” he said softly.
And her heart melted at the conviction in his words. A tear slipped down her cheek and his hand moved from her nape to cup her face, his thumb brushing away the tear.
“You want to be married to me.” Again, it wasn’t a question. He could see right into her soul and knew the truth.
She was falling into his eyes. Losing herself in his strength and in the certainty that he loved her completely. That he would do anything for her. Including save her from herself.
“This isn’t about the marriage,” he said softly. “It’s about the wedding.”
His eyes left hers and scanned the room, taking in the discarded dress in Donna’s hold, before returning to her. “I’ll fix this. Trust me.”
Isobel let out a sob and threw herself into his arms, feeling them wrap around her without a second’s hesitation. She shivered in his hold, overwhelmed and needing his strength. His strong hands were gentle, but firm on her back, as he reassured her with his touch.
“Mairi,” he said. “Call the vicar and get him over here. I don’t care who else turns up. Donna, forget the dress. Pull out that blue one she wore on our date last month. Agnes, sort out the living room. We’ll be down as soon as the vicar gets here.”
And just like that, the room cleared of everyone except Donna, who began rooting around in the massive closet.
Isobel clung to Callum, breathing him in, drowning her fears in his unique scent that always reminded her of Autumn in the highlands. Of perfect evenings walking under the changing trees, listening to the water lap at the shores of the loch. He was her happy place. The only thing that made sense in her spiraling, chaotic mind.
“Nice underwear,” he said with amusement in his voice. His hand stroked the curve of her behind over the ivory lace that clung to it.
Isobel sniffed. “The corset’s too tight.” And stupid. She looked like a virgin on her wedding night. A girl trying too hard to seduce the man she’d married.
“Let’s get it off you then.” His voice deepened, and she shivered for an entirely different reason than panic.
The floor creaked as Donna came up to them. Isobel hid her face against Callum’s chest, feeling the silk of his shirt against her burning cheek. She’d made a fool of herself. Again.
“Here’s the dress and matching shoes. If you need help with anything else, sing out. I have my phone back.”
“Thanks. Put them on the bed.” Callum tightened his hold on Isobel, as though he knew that embarrassment was setting in.
The door closed behind Donna, and Isobel looked up at him. “I can’t wear a sparkling blue dress to get married.”
“Why not?” His eyes were dark and intense, telling her she was the only thing in his world at that moment.
Isobel blinked at him, her mind blank. “It’s not the done thing,” was all she could think of to say.
His chuckle was deep and sexy as hell. “Neither’s getting married in the living room, but we’re doing that in about twenty minutes. How about we get that dress on you before we go downstairs? Or, if you prefer, I can bring the vicar up here and we can get married with you in your underwear.”
Isobel gasped. “You wouldn’t.”
“Darlin’ I’d do just about anything to make you my wife.”
And just like that, with those words and the absolute honesty in his eyes, Isobel’s fear and anxiety fled.
“Help me get dressed,” she whispered.
“It will be my pleasure.”
Callum McKay walked his bride down the stairs of the old carriage house he’d converted behind his business in London’s Chelsea district. The furniture had been pushed back to make room for the wedding guests to gather and they stood beaming up at them, unbothered by the change in location or the cramped space.
Sophie was running around, a basket filled with rose petals in her hand, throwing them randomly at everyone and everything. Jack stood at the bottom of the stairs, dressed in his tux, and solemn as he watched his mother descend.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I have the rings.”
“I wasn’t worried,” Callum told the teenager he was proud to call son. “I knew you’d make the perfect best man.”
The boy ducked his head as his cheeks flushed, and Callum smiled, remembering well the age when he too had been teetering between boy and man and everything made him blush. Now, only one thing had the power to disarm him completely—his Isobel.
He looked down at the woman he loved, who had her hand tucked into his arm. She was perfection in the form-fitting, knee-length dress of midnight blue and shimmering sequins. It might not be a traditional wedding dress, but he couldn’t imagine one more perfect for their day. The color made her blue eyes sparkle and her creamy skin glow. And the dress brought back memories of the only other time she’d worn it and all the wonderfully wicked things he’d done to her.
As if reading his mind, she looked up at him, her eyes dark and knowing, her cheeks flushed.
“That really is a great dress,” he said with heavy meaning.
“Stop it,” she whispered. “My knees are weak enough.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll hold you up.”
“I know.” The amount of love, the depth of it, in her eyes, made him want to carry her back upstairs and tell everyone to get the hell out of their house.
But he didn’t.
He needed to tie this woman to him with everything he had, just in case she realized that she was far too good for him and ran away.
“Can we get on with it?” The vicar had been brought down from Invertary for the wedding, at Betty’s insistence. Callum didn’t even want to think about why Betty needed the old codger around for the after party. That sort of thinking made a man’s balls shrivel and die.
Callum led Isobel over to stand in front of the ancient vicar.
“About bloody time,” the man grumbled.
Callum looked down at Isobel. “You ready?”
“Yes.” Her eyes sparkled. “I am completely ready to start my life with you.”
A surge of pure possession, tinged with relief, rushed through him as he turned back to the vicar. “Keep it short and get on with it.”
With a grin, the vicar did just that.