Out of Her League(2)

By: Samantha Wayland

She shook her head and turned back to Callum. He and Rupert had hired a top-notch firm to handle the security for this event. And what neither groom knew, or needed to know, was that Michaela had then paid that firm to triple whatever they’d had planned.

She knew her role in today’s festivities was adding to the press melee surrounding the entire thing. It wasn’t every day an NHL star up and retired in order to marry his boyfriend and raise their children together. It only added to the insanity that the already infamously disgraced woman, the woman had pretended to be said NHL star’s girlfriend for five years, was to stand in as best man-lady-person.

She refused to be called the best woman. It just didn’t fit.

“Ready to go?” she asked, hooking her arm through Callum’s.

“Yes,” he replied immediately, if a little hoarsely.

She drew him out the wide french doors in the study and across the lawn toward the chapel. The path was lined with a riot of flowers to celebrate the perfect June day. The smell of roses wafted in the air, both from the grounds and the nosegay of blood-red buds in Michaela’s hand.

She wore a simple dark blue strapless gown that skimmed the gravel and tugged at the grass edging the path. A bright swath of the green, blue, and red Morrison tartan was draped from her shoulder to the opposite hip, matching Callum’s kilt.

It was a shame so few men had an excuse to wear skirts anymore, because that look really worked for Michaela. She was very happily anticipating seeing the rest of the Morrison clan in their finery, and Rupert and the boys in the bright red of the Macalister colors.

Rupert had complained they would look like a Christmas pageant gone wrong and had suggested he and the boys could wear morning suits instead. Callum wouldn’t hear of it.

Apparently, Michaela wasn’t the only one really into men wearing their skirts. She knew Callum was her best friend for a reason.

The doors to the chapel opened as they climbed the stairs, and there stood Callum’s five brothers, all grinning at the unusually pale Callum. Michaela’s eyes sought out Kieran’s, and he nodded.

Rupert and the boys were ready.

The rest, as she’d known all along it would be, was easy.

The wedding was beautiful. Lachlan had never seen his brother look happier, even as the tears rolled down Callum’s cheeks. Lachlan tried very hard to be subtle as he rubbed at his own eyes, but failed, if the amused and affectionate look from his sister was anything to go by.

At least he wasn’t as bad as Alexei Belov, the very large Russian goalie manfully weeping into his handkerchief in Rupert’s family pew.

Callum clung to Rupert’s hand, their two boys standing between them, part of the ceremony instead of just standing up for their dads. Michaela Price was Callum’s best woman, while Reese Lamont stood up for Rupert. The rest of the ushers—a.k.a. Lachlan and his legion of brothers—sat with their parents and sister.

The ceremony was short and, frankly, unbearably sweet. If Lachlan hadn’t been so busy trying not to cry, he might have been rolling his eyes.

The reception, on the other hand, was a little bit like Lachlan’s version of hell on earth. Standing around in a skirt, making small talk, and eating canapés was not his idea of a good time. Well, okay, the skirt thing didn’t bother him in the slightest. Sure, his usual khakis and a button up would be more comfortable. Or possibly even his hockey gear, sweaty jock and all. But it wasn’t like this was unfamiliar territory. His brother Kieran’s wedding had contained many of the same elements. Kilts. Handsome husband staring at one of Lachlan’s brothers like he couldn’t believe his good fortune. And lots of beautiful women decked out in fancy clothes, trying to flirt with Lachlan—only to discover they’d have more luck conversing with the statuary in the hedge maze just down the hill.

He watched his brothers with envy as they moved through the crowd. Easy smiles, big laughs, and the ability to put virtually everyone, from Rupert’s sour-faced aunts to the catering waitstaff, at ease. The only one who remained reserved, even a little, was Angus. But he was young and even he, when needed, could employ whatever magical Morrison gene blessed the rest of the clan with social skills.

The gene Lachlan was missing.

He knew perfectly well that standing in the corner, eyeing the door of the tent for a possible escape, wasn’t going to save him. But it still made him feel better. Forcing himself to look around, he saw the moment Callum noticed him there and cupped Michaela’s elbow to pull her toward Lachlan.

Honestly, Lachlan thought bitterly, how did Callum think this was going to work?

Lachlan was reserved with strangers, had little interest in small talk with people he barely knew, and could more often be found listening rather than contributing to conversations, even among the people who he knew and loved best. But nothing turned him into more of a jabbering idiot than being faced with a beautiful woman and being expected to actually converse.