Built Of Strength: The Wedding

Built Of Strength: The Wedding

Speed Up

Graham surveyed Midnight Runway with a grin. A couple of months after purchase and the Runway was a whole new beast. New asphalt hadn’t been in the budget yet, but they’d made other improvements.

They’d acquired a whole lot of vehicles and other equipment to make the entire airstrip look like a city neighborhood. As long as you didn’t look too closely at the vehicles scattered around. Most of them had been picked up from wreckers and scrap yards, but they served multiple purposes.

He rotated the vehicles and positions. He taught how engines worked, with and without carburators. He taught how to sabotage a vehicle and how to detect sabotage. Teaching advanced driving skills was the most fun, though.

Once his clients could hotwire an engine, they had to race it through an ever-changing obstacle course littered with both criminals and innocent victims.

Or at least representations of them. Aisling had created multiple wooden cutouts for various scenarios. She was great at helping him plot out new courses for his clients to try. The shooting range at the back of the strip was a great addition as well.

Today, however, the Runway was set up for a whole different kind of situation. One he’d never done before and would never do again. Because he was going to do it right the first time and it would never need to be done again.

He turned from the Runway and headed to the hangar. A check at the time showed only five minutes had passed since he’d checked it the last time.

Sam strode over and slapped him on the shoulder. “It’ll happen. Relax.”

Relax. Right.

Troy grinned. “Unless you think she’s not going to show.”

Graham rolled his eyes. She’d show. He just wanted it done. Wanted it over with.

Wanted her to be officially his. Forever.

Marcus, Joe, and Nico rounded out the group currently in the hangar. Earlier in the day, a bunch of them had showed up to decorate the building for the wedding and the party.

It was a small group. Neither he nor Aisling had family elsewhere. This group at Midnight Lake was their family now.

And soon they’d officially be family to each other.

Spike wandered up beside him and nudged his hand for a pat. Graham squatted down and obliged the dog. He was probably sensing his nerves. Willow appeared completely unaffected, but she’d been Aisling’s dog from the moment they’d arrived at Kimi’s.

Just like Aisling had been his from the moment they’d locked eyes at that fancy event for Döva back in Sacramento five years ago.

Their wedding wasn’t going to be a fancy event. They weren’t fancy people. Close friends in a place that meant so much to them.

When he checked the time again, he sighed. “I wish she’d hurry the hell up, Spike.”

Spike licked his face and then raced to the hangar door.

They were on the way.

Slow Down

Aisling scowled at herself in the mirror she’d hung up in the sawmill. The dress she’d chosen was pretty, but it wasn’t an official wedding dress. It was a white summer dress with a full skirt and tight bodice. A wide soft green sash wrapped around her waist and she’d bought shoes in the same shade.

For her Jolly Green Giant.

She’d fallen in love with the outfit when she’d seen it,  but what if he wished for more? “What if it looks like I don’t want this enough? What if he thinks I don’t care enough? What if—”

“What if you remember that Graham loves you?” Tansy’s amused voice had Aisling turning away from the mirror.

“You’re right. But I’m only going to do this once. I don’t want him to have regrets. Maybe we should have done the traditional thing.”

Tansy laughed and moved over to hug her. “Why? Who says traditional means right? You’re doing what you two decided was the right thing for you.”

Aisling nodded and pressed her hands to her stomach. “You’re right, but I’m still nervous. I want it to be perfect.”

Tansy rolled her eyes. “You’re getting married to a man you love. One who loves you back. Trust me, it’ll be perfect.”

Tansy and Sam had married a few weeks before in a gorgeous ceremony here at Midnight Lake. They’d incorporated traditions from their families and their heritage. It had been beautiful.

Aisling and Graham didn’t have family, didn’t know anything about their family traditions. She was a carpenter, not a fancy event person. The ceremony they’d planned was exactly what they wanted. Simple. Fun.

Aisling’s phone beeped with a text. From Sam. Tansy has apparently lost her phone again. Letting you know we’re ready and Graham is chomping at the bit to get hitched.

The whole message had her smiling and when she showed it to Tansy, her friend laughed. “Well, let’s not keep the man waiting. We’ll find my phone later. Come on. You’re ready.”

And she was. She knew she was.

The past five years since her dad had died had been a roller coaster. Grief and loss for so long.

With one incredible one-night stand to sustain her.

Then Graham had reappeared in her life and things had only brightened.

Sunny skies ahead just like her dad had always said.

He would be so happy for her.

Wish you were here, Dad.

She and Tansy climbed into Buffy and headed toward Midnight Runway. There was no way she was getting married without Buffy at her side. As a car guy, Graham totally understood. His Challenger, Red, would be there too.

And the dogs. Spike who had loved Graham instantly. And her Willow. Officially she was Graham’s dog, but she’d always belonged to Aisling. Graham had recognized it and adopted the two dogs when he’d really only wanted one.

Suddenly, Aisling couldn’t wait to get to the Runway. Her worries had been silly and superficial. All that mattered was that she and Graham loved each other and were ready for this next step.

“I’m ready, Tansy.” She echoed her friend’s words from earlier. “I’m really ready.”

“I get that, but maybe check your speed.”

With a laugh, she eased her foot off the accelerator. While she wanted to get there as soon as possible, she didn’t want Marcus to pull her over for speeding.

Her future was waiting.

Full Speed Ahead

When Aisling pulled into the Midnight Runway lot, she bounced in her seat. Cars belonging to her friends from town and from Midnight Lake were there. All the people she cared most about were here.

Instead of parking in the lot, she pulled Buffy up beside where Graham’s Challenger sat in front of the hangar.

Tansy jumped out of the car and Sam appeared. He pulled his wife in for a kiss while Aisling patted Buffy’s dash. “We were right about Vermont, Buffy. It’s home and it’s wonderful. Now, I’ll leave you to your front row seat.”

Aisling opened the door and Sam offered her his hand to climb down. She laughed and took it. She was used to jeans and workbooks. Navigating in a dress and heels wasn’t as easy.

Sam grinned at her as he looked over her dress and shoes. “You’re going to knock him on his ass. Perfect.”

Tansy handed her a bouquet of wildflowers and hugged her. “I’m so happy for you. The arch you made is perfect and everyone is ready. I’ll leave you to it.” She kissed Sam again and moved off.

Sam was going to stand in for her dad. Aisling grabbed his hand. “Thanks for doing this. My dad would have liked you. I know he’d be happy I had someone to do this with me.”

Sam pulled her in and hugged her. “Happy to do it. And honored.” His voice was gruff and for a moment, her eyes filled with tears.

Keep moving forward Aisling, there’s sunny skies ahead.

And there were. So many.

Sam had kept Aisling facing away from the small area in front of the hangar. She’d made the arch for Sam and Tansy’s wedding and the guys had transported it here this morning. Tansy, Isabella, Ginny, and Nimii had come early to decorate with flowers.

Sam looked over her shoulder and nodded, then smiled down at her. “You ready for this?”

The smile took over her face before he’d even finished answering the question. “Totally ready.”

He kissed her cheek then tucked her hand into his arm. “Let’s get you married.”

As she rounded the truck, Sam halted so she could take in the scene around her. The arch was covered in wild flowers matching the ones she carried. Music flowed softly from somewhere and their friends were seated in chairs set up in front of the arch. She didn’t spare them a glance.

Her eyes were drawn to Graham, waiting for her at the arch. He wore dark slacks and a crisp white shirt. His tie was a green and red tartan. A nod to his heritage and maybe another to their nicknames as well.

Graham’s eyes lit up as she and Sam rounded the truck. Instead of waiting, her fiancé strode straight toward them, his long legs eating up the distance in no time.

When he reached them, he cupped her face in his hands and kissed her. She heard Sam laughing as she kissed him back. Eventually, Graham pulled back and smiled at her. “Last kiss as singles. I guess that’ll hold me till we’re married.”

Then he proved that a lie by kissing her again.

This time when he raised his head, he grinned then jogged back to the arch. The group clapped as he took a bow and turned to smile at her.

Sam grinned at her. “Should we try this again?”

This time Graham stayed in place as they moved forward, his grin widening with each step.

Sam kissed her cheek again and then stepped back. Graham took her hands in his and mimicked Sam’s kiss.

Nico had become an officiant for Sam and Tansy’s wedding and he’d been happy to do the same for them. He stood at a podium under the arch and smiled at them. “I thought this would be a one-time thing when I married Sam and Tansy. I’m glad to be able to unite another pair of friends. Another couple who belong together. According to some, you may have gone about your relationship backwards.”

He paused for laughter at his allusion to their one-night stand and then continued. “However, in the long run, I think it worked out well. This time when you came together, it was the right time and the right place.”

Aisling smiled. He was right. They’d both been too filled with grief before. This time they’d been ready for each other and for the future.

Nico reached under the red-and-green tartan cloth covering the podium and pulled out a chisel. He held up one side to show everyone the handle was painted red and Red had been painted on the blade. Then he flipped it around. The handle on this side was green and Jolly had been painted on the blade.

She and Graham both burst out laughing at the same time and everyone joined in.

Nico grinned. “We decided the chisel should decide who says their vows first. You game?”

When the both nodded, Nico stepped back and tossed the chisel into the air. It flipped several time before landing Red side up.

Nico gestured to her and she took Graham’s hands again. The entire world faded away as she locked her gaze on his.

“Five years ago, I was at the lowest point of my life. I’d lost my dad, my home, and my job. I was lost and alone. And then you strode across that science lab and brightened my day. My night.”

Everyone now knew the story of their one-night stand so they all chuckled.

“Back then, you reminded me that life is full of possibilities and potential. You made me feel whole and gave me the courage to move on.”

His eyes glittered with intensity as he listened.

“When we met again, I couldn’t decide whether I should run and hide or stay and take a chance. I’m glad I stayed. Glad I took that chance. You’re everything to me, Graham. My home base, my heart, and my future. I love you.”

Jolly Good

Graham wondered if his heart might burst with love. He had to swallow hard to make sure his voice didn’t crack when Aisling finished her vows.

“I’m so damn glad you took that chance. I was a coward back then, not ready to face what I felt for you after only hours in your presence.”

Her eyes widened at that.

“I started falling for you when you called me out on my cheesy line and nickname.”

She grinned at the memory and he squeezed her fingers.

“You make me want to do more, to be better, to reach higher. And I’m going to steal your words because they’re better than what I wrote. You’re my home, my heart, and my future. I love you, Aisling.”

Her eyes had misted up while he spoke. A tear started to slip out and he reached up to brush it away. “No crying. Not today, Red.”

She laughed and her eyes cleared.

Without breaking eye contact with her, Graham pointed at Nico. “Say the words. I want to kiss my wife.”

Nico chuckled. “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

Graham hauled Aisling up on her toes and kissed her. Tried to pour all the words he hadn’t been able to say into the touch. Her arms wound around his neck and she kissed him back.

When he needed to breathe, he slowed the kiss but kept his lips on hers. “I love you, Red. And I can’t wait to peel that sexy dress off my wife.”

He felt like a caveman, wanting to shout to the world that this amazing woman loved him, had chosen him. Instead he eased back and held her hands while everyone around them cheered.

When everyone settled, Nico spoke again. “Now I have the honor of presenting the gifts you made for each other.”

She’d made him something too? Her grin told him she was thinking the same thing.

Nico reached beneath the tartan covering the podium and laid the wrapped package on top.

Graham gestured for Aisling to open it. He hoped she liked it. Nerves popped through him as she pulled back the old quilt he’d used to wrap it. It had taken him days to design it, and he might never have done it without Nimii’s help. The artist had been able to turn his vision into reality.

Aisling gasped as she revealed the piece. A happy gasp. His heart relaxed as she brushed her fingers reverently over the metal he’d cut into a sign.

It was a sunset over Midnight Lake. At the bottom, he’d cut out the words. There’s sunny skies ahead. It had taken painstaking hours but when she turned and he saw the absolute joy on her face, he knew it had been worth every second.

“My dad’s words. It’s perfect, Graham. perfect.”

Then she was in his arms and kissing the breath out of him. When she hugged him, he felt the tremble in her body.

“Nimii designed the picture.”

Aisling turned a radiant smile in her friend’s direction and then turned back to the piece. “It glows, like a real sunrise. It’s full of the future. It’s really perfect, Graham. Thank you.”

Then she squeezed his hands and pulled him back a step. Sam picked up the sunrise and Nico grinned. “Ready?” With a magician-like flourish, he whipped the tartan off the podium.

And all Graham could do was stare.

It wasn’t a podium at all. It was a rolling wooden tool chest. Over four feet high and with tons of drawers. And not a nail in sight.

“You made this? For me? Aisling, it’s amazing.”

And it was. Like the workbench she’d carved for him back at the sawmill, this one had a few symbols carved on the drawers. These identified the tools that would fit in each drawer. On the sides, she carved some maple leaves that matched those on her tool chest.

He knew his eyes were full when he turned to her. Unable to get words past the emotion, he pulled her into a hug and simply held on. When he could speak, he whispered. “It’s perfect. Incredible.”

She hung on just as tightly. “Seems we know each other pretty well.”

“Not bad for a one-night stand.”

Joy Riding

The post-wedding party was in full swing. Everyone was dancing and eating and mingling. Having fun, but Graham was done with it.

He wanted his bride to himself.

They weren’t doing a real honeymoon yet, but he’d booked them into Jim and Carl’s B&B for a couple of nights. He and Aisling both loved their work but he wanted to spend the majority of the next few days in bed making love to his wife.

Joe slapped him on the back and handed him a glass of iced tea. With everyone heading back to town or the lake, they hadn’t stocked anymore than a couple of bottles of champagne for the toasts. “So, you’re hitched.”

Graham laughed. “Damn straight. You have any prospects on the horizon?”

Joe rolled his eyes and shook his head. “What is it with you and Sam? You suddenly want everyone coupled up.”

He grinned. “You bet. It’s pretty damn good.”

Joe laughed, but there were shadows in his friend’s eyes. His job at the FBI was exhausting and demanding. At least he’d been coming up to Midnight Lake more for breaks, but he looked to be wearing himself out.

“You thinking of making a switch to join us full time?”

Joe laughed and sipped his own drink. “Nah. Gotta keep saving the world, you know?”

Graham nodded, but he didn’t know. He was much happier working on the other end. Helping people prevent and avoid the disasters.

There would always be disasters out there, but Graham hoped the service his team was providing would help that statistic.

The song changed and Graham handed his glass to Joe. He didn’t know the song, but the low beat was sultry and sexy. Just like his bride.

Graham walked over to wear Aisling was chatting with Ginny and Nimii and lifted her hand to kiss it. “Dance?”

She nodded and turned into his arms with a wide smile. He held her close and they swayed to the music. Her heart beat against his and his hand drifted up and down the back of her sexy dress.

Wildflowers were scattered through her hair which was loose around her shoulders. He played with one small blue flower. “Very sexy. I approve.”

Then he played with the sash around her waist. “I approve of the whole outfit. I see you couldn’t resist the Red and Jolly colors either.”

She smiled at him and tapped on the tie that he’d loosened. “Nope. Great minds and all that.”

He kissed her nose and then her lips. Lightly. “I’m having another great idea. Wonder if you can read my mind this time.”

Aisling leaned into him and brushed against his growing erection.

“I think I can. You ready to blow this joint, Jolly?”

“You got it, Red.” Then he swung her up into his arms.

Their friends hooted and cheered all around them. Aisling’s face flushed to a deep red, but she was laughing as they said their goodbyes.

He strode over to the Challenger and Aisling reached down to open the door. He squatted down to place her into the seat. She pulled him toward her for a kiss.

“Get a room!”

The shouts and cheers had them both laughing as Graham moved around the hood to climb into the car. Then he hopped back out and headed to the back. They wouldn’t dare.

The group followed him out and Nico crowed. “Told you he would think of it. Don’t worry, we didn’t tie any tin cans to your baby.”

Joe laughed. “Thought about it, but figured Aisling would kill us if you had a heart attack.”

Laughing, Graham got back in the Challenger and headed down the road. They waved at the group and then they were on their own. After he turned onto the main road, he picked up Aisling’s hand and brought it to his lips. “How you feeling there, Mrs. Gallagher-Buchanan?”

She laughed. “I feel like I’m floating. I never thought I’d be this happy. How are you feeling?”

He kissed her hand again and then decided on a new plan. With a grin, he turned the Challenger down a quiet road and then into another side road that lead down to an even quieter dead end.

He pulled a quick turn and then shut down the engine.

“Where are we—”

He reached across the console and tugged Aisling into a kiss. Need was coursing through him. She was electric. “Can’t wait. I booked us a room at the B&B, but I need a taste of my wife.”

Aisling smiled against his lips. “Handy. Because I need a taste of my husband.”

Those words went straight to his groin.

While his mouth focused on kissing her senseless, his hand moved to trace the neckline of her dress. When he brushed his fingers over her nipples she nearly bolted off the seat.

The Challenger was far too small for all the things he wanted to do, but he wanted to watch his wife have her first married orgasm in the car he’d named for her.

When she was panting his name, he moved his hand from her breast to the hem of her pretty dress. His fingers reached to trace her panties and she moaned into his mouth.

“That’s it. I’ve been thinking about making love to my wife all damn day. I want to see you fly, honey. Let go for me.”

With a gasping shudder, she did exactly that. Graham leaned back to watch while he kept his fingers moving, extending her orgasm as long as he could.

There was nothing as beautiful as watching her consumed with the pleasure they made together. He had a lifetime of that ahead of him.

“I bet you’ll be just as gorgeous flying over the edge when you’re eighty.”

Still gasping for breath, Aisling laughed. “Eighty? I have my doubts, Jolly.”

He straightened her clothes and tugged her in for another kiss. “I don’t. Not a one. I wonder how many orgasms we can get before then.”

She reached for his pants, but he took her hands and kissed them. “Not a chance. If it wasn’t physically impossible in this tiny space, I’d be all in.”

“I could just have my fun with you.”

Tempting. Tempting as hell. But he wanted to watch her fly again and again before that happened. “Strap in, Red. We’ve got a honeymoon suite waiting for us.”


And he floored it.

Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this bonus scene to the Small Town Heroes (Midnight Security) Romantic Suspense series!


The next book in the series, Built Of Flames, spotlights Isabella and Mitch.

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