It was the dress.
A wedding party usually had a flood of dresses, but Brandon had eyes for only one. The sleek silhouette flowing down the svelte form enhanced every feminine contour, the neckline dipped just enough to broaden the shoulders and delineate the ample bosom, and the sash highlighted the tiny waist curving into shapely hips and a firm, full derriere. Long, raven curls stood out against the rosy, luminous skin, luscious lips opening wide every time a smile washed over that breathtaking profile, and when a slender finger slipped under the neck of the dress to straighten it, he noticed the shift of the collarbone.
Taking a swig of his beer, he stared from across the hall, unconcerned about who saw him gawking shamelessly at the unassuming bridesmaid. It was his oldest sister Yvonne’s wedding, and he had first caught sight of her while driving the bride to the church. He had failed to look away since. It was not without reason that he thought she was the most beautiful girl in the entire country, different from Irish girls, more exotic and alluring. As small as she was, she had the uncanny ability to draw all attention when she walked by and it did not go down well with many people. Brandon had been around to witness the hurt the nasty comments at school caused her daily but she took it all in her stride.
He hoped returning to London would make things easier for her. And give them more time together.
Their eyes met and remained locked for a long minute. Brandon put away his drink and held her gaze.
He recognised that look. Like a wolf staring at a cute sheep.
It was too much to take anymore.
“Hi, girls.” Three women in identical dresses looked up at him when he walked over to the table. Denise and Mairead each held a glass of champagne. “Seeing as I don’t have much time here, I hope you won’t mind if I…” His hand found Isabel’s. “…steal this lovely lady for a dance.”
“It took you only the whole evening to catch up with her,” Denise chirped before giggling with her younger sister. Brandon smiled when Isabel’s cheeks flushed.
“I’m trying to not upstage Yvonne,” he said, tugging at his girlfriend’s hand. He slid an arm around her waist when she stood. “But now it’s my moment.”
Without another word, he led her to the dance floor, her sweet, floral scent filling his nostrils. He held her close, his hands running down the long, lace sleeves of the dress until their fingers entwined. The tension in her body mimicked his.
“I missed you,” Isabel tried to speak over the music but her voice was still a murmur. One arm coiled around her midriff, the other holding up her hand. Their bodies pressed together, his breath on her face, their feet moving to the rhythm. He had seen her in dresses many times but that evening she was delicious. There was no other way to describe her. He wanted to eat her alive.
“If I said I missed you too, it would be an understatement.” His feet abruptly halted in the middle of the hall, his eyes blazing into hers. “You have no idea.”
Her eyes drooped and her pulse quickened. The distance was more painful since their consummation. They had made love only a few times, but it was enough to intensify their craving for each other. The last time was at his horse stables, after his brothers had gone for the day. The quick fuck against the wall in an empty enclosure had been urgent and precarious, but taking each other without care or preparation had excited her beyond her wildest imagination.
Ever since he left, she longed to have him close again, holding her, whispering into her ear, exploring her body. Now he was in front of her and she was in his arms, but time was short and he was flying back to the US later in the night. That thought was enough to dampen her ardour.
Brandon lifted her face, a silent plea in his eyes. Before she knew it, he was dragging her away from the hall and into the alcove. She bunched up her dress to keep from tripping.
“Right.” He pressed her against the wall in a corner and searched her face. “You have to do something. I’m going insane here.”
“There are people everywhere.” She nervously looked around them. “We cannot…”
“Please.” He swallowed hard. “I need you. Right now.”
“There are so many people here, and you have minders,” she whispered, biting her lip. “I don’t want us to get caught.”
“We won’t.” After a quick glance upstairs, he started to lead her towards the stairway. All the action was on the main floor. The second level was unoccupied and they had no trouble finding an empty room at the end of the narrow hallway.
“This is risky,” she hissed as the door locked, shutting them from the prying eyes of the ton. “Brandy—”
The words were swallowed by a hard, insistent, ravenous kiss, She sagged against the wall, holding onto his shoulders for support as she gave in to his ferocious hunger. When she instinctively hooked a thigh around his leg, he parted on a low groan.
“I know the bride is my sister,” he said on a breathless murmur, his hips pressing her to the wall. “But you are the most stunning girl at this party. I can’t explain what this dress has been doing to me all day.”
“The… dress?” She could not help glancing down at her outfit. It was a modest gown, barely exposing any more skin than what she normally did. “But… you’ve seen me in dresses… and without them too.”
“You’re different today.” His thumb brushed her bottom lip. The kiss had wiped away most of the lip colour, but Isabel could not care less. “I don’t know what it is… Maybe you’re just happy. Maybe you’re finally moving on.”
“Or maybe I just love having you here.” Arching into him, she sought his lips again while fumbling with his belt. Once the buckle came undone, she reached for the placket of his trousers, his arousal evident against her hands as she pulled down the zipper. Brandon let his own hands drift past her hips until he was grabbing fistfuls of her dress and bunching it up to get access to her legs.
“Every inch of you is sheer perfection.” He framed her with both arms, hot breath ghosting her face. “I can’t believe you’re mine.”
“I have no clue why you call me perfect,” she laughed, eyes closing when he captured her lips again. “I’m far from perfect.”
“We are not having that argument again.” He sealed them in a kiss, their hips grinding involuntarily. Isabel whimpered into his mouth, aching for him as heat pooled in her gut.
“Take off your shirt.” Tugging at his necktie, she loosened it. “You don’t want to get makeup on it.”
While he let his jacket and shirt fall to the floor, she reached for the zipper of her dress. He held her hand.
“Leave it on,” he said, his hand crawling under the skirt. “Let me shag you in it.”
When his fingers found her wetness, she closed her eyes, her face colouring.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” he soothed, kissing her cheek. “I like how you’re always ready for me.” Taking her hand, he guided it to his heavy scrotum. Her breath hitched. “Do you feel how full I am? So ready for you…”
“There’s no bed here,” she noted.
“Doesn’t matter.” He stepped out of his pants and fished out his wallet from the pocket of his jacket. With a condom in hand, he sank onto the floor in the corner of the room. “Sit on me. Come on.”
Isabel’s gaze shifted between his outstretched hand and his sheathed erection. They did not have much time. She cautiously glanced at the door, praying they could be quiet.
“I love you,” he breathed, watching her face as she hiked up her dress and straddled him. Reaching down, she gripped his erection with one hand, the other holding his shoulder for balance as she slowly impaled herself on him.
“I love you too.” With a soft grunt, she pushed down on him, mouth falling open on a noiseless wail as the thick bell-end found its way in. Brandon hissed, her tightness squeezing him like a velvet fist. He held her hips to ease her through it, his breath catching with every inch that filled her up. His head dropped back against the wall, chest heaving with tenuous control.
“Are you okay?” he asked when her head bowed on a cry. She nodded, shaking the fallen hair out of her face.
“You’re so big and we haven’t done it in a while.” She gulped air, shifting her legs to be comfortable. “I never want to forget how good you feel…”
“You’re never going to forget,” he promised, slowly thrusting up into her. “Not in this life. Ride me… please, ride me…”
Holding his shoulders, she raised herself carefully before sinking in a swift move. Brandon’s face flushed and sweat dotted his brow as she fell into a rhythm. With his mouth parted on heavy breaths, he stared at her ravishing face. Her eyes were closed, the stylish arrangement of her hair a mess, and the sight of that small woman taking control made him swell to a painful extent inside her. Pushing up her dress, he caressed her thighs, his body hot and hard from her quickening pace, as though she could not get enough of him. His eyelids grew heavy, every muscle in his body taut with drugging ecstasy.
“I need to come,” she murmured, bringing her legs closer to push herself onto her haunches. When she resumed the punishing rhythm, he bit his lip to prevent a startled groan. He was not going to last if she kept up that pace.
“So close… Oh, Brandy…” Her moan made his sac tighten, pushing him to the brink. He kneaded her buttocks, gritting his teeth as panicked urgency spread across her face.
“Yes,” he coaxed impatiently, watching her on the brink of release. “That’s it, that’s it… Come all over me… Let it go…”
Burying her face in his shoulder to muffle a scream, Isabel reached the extremity of her passion, writhing and twisting in his arms. Brandon gently laid them down while her muscles continued to clench around him, grabbing her hips to thrust mercilessly.
“Right on the edge…” he growled under his breath, pressing his lips to her cheek. “There it goes… Oh, god…”
The first, burning spurts were violent and his fingers unconsciously clutched at her dress, not caring if he tore the delicate fabric. With a hoarse oath, he continued moving his hips, his thighs shuddering as his heated seed filled the sheath. Beneath him, Isabel sobbed, her legs shaking, stomach quivering.
“I’m still hard…” he gasped, manoeuvring her body to flip her over without slipping out.
“What are you doing?” she asked on a shaky breath.
“I’m going to take you from behind.”
“But we’ve never—”
“I know, I know.” He swallowed, licking his lips. “Do as I say. Please. We don’t have time to waste.”
Isabel scrambled to do his bidding, getting on all fours and presenting her derriere to him. He pushed into her again, and she yelped when he filled her impossibly deep.
“Oh my god…” Her eyelids drooped when he started to thrust again, the tension gathering inside her once more. With his fingers digging into her hips, Brandon moved viciously, giddy from the mounting pleasure.
“That’s it…” he slurred. “Here I come again… Shit…”
With a low groan, he spilled again, thick ropes of semen squirting out of him in an almost painful release. Isabel slumped onto the floor, legs thrashing about for purchase as his climax triggered her own. Brandon’s heaving body collapsed on top of her, and they remained locked in the throbbing heat, shuddering together for minutes they had no track of.
“That was…” She tried to speak and catch her breath at the same time. “That was incredible. I now know why this is such a popular position.”
“We’re just getting started, love,” Brandon chuckled behind her. “We have all life to try different things.”
“Did anyone hear us?”
“I hope not. Here, let me…” He held her hips again with trembling fingers, slowly withdrawing from her soaked womanhood. “I came so much.”
She turned her head to look at him. “You saved it all for me. Just as you promised.”
Leaning in, he kissed her forehead. “Yes. I’m a man of my word. Come here.”
He helped her roll onto her back and then pulled her against him. She languorously fell into his arms, his perfume blending with his damp skin to cook up a heady cocktail inside her head. Their hearts danced together in a frantic beat as they clung to each other, replete and drunk on the intoxicating satiety.
“I love you,” she whispered.
“Love you too.” His embrace strengthened. “Are you alright?”
“Yes. We should get out of here.”
“I don’t want to.” When he looked at her, his face was sad. “I’m not sure when I will see you again. I wish you could come with me.”
“How’s the tour bus thing working out?”
“Louis took care of it.” He laughed quietly, shaking his head. “We are starting to get the hang of the business side of things. But you know what surprises me? That everytime I talk to you about the band and how things work, you understand everything way better than I did when we started out.”
“I’m not a country girl,” she teased. “I come from a big city, a big school.”
“How lucky does that make me?” He sighed before smiling at her. “Thank you for this. I was so pent up.”
“Me too.” She kissed him and sat up. “But we really should go downstairs now. It’s getting close to dinner.”
“Yeah,” he nodded, picking up his shirt from the floor. They dressed quickly, doing their best to tidy up and be presentable in order to avoid arousing suspicion. Isabel smoothed out her tresses and reached a hand out to wipe a lipstick stain from the corner of his lips. Undaunted, Brandon dipped his head for another kiss, laughing in amusement when she pushed him away. He put the ruined condom inside his coat and unlocked the door. Peering through the crack, he was relieved to find the coast clear. He took her hand and led her surreptitiously through the hallway and down the stairs, the music growing louder as they approached the party. The Irish and their weddings. Everyone was already getting drunk.
“I’ll pop into the restroom quickly.” He tapped his pocket. “And after dinner, I want us to finish that dance.”
Isabel stood on tiptoe to peck his lips before turning around to quietly walk back to the party.
“What are you staring at?”
The low voice of her husband shook Emily out of her observation. It was the fourth Fletcher wedding they had been part of, starting with Mae and Peter over thirty years ago, and catching up with old friends had been delightful. She lifted a finger to point in the distance.
“Those two,” she answered, as Thomas examined the sumptuous buffet. He lifted his eyes for only a second to see what was hogging his wife’s attention.
“Isabel and Brandon?” he asked, scooping some of the roasted asparagus onto his plate. “What about them?”
Emily helped herself to the beef stroganoff, waiting until they were alone again. “They are having sex,” she announced quietly.
“Good for them.” The professor loaded his plate with some smoked trout and garden salad, popping a piece of celery into his mouth. “How did you find out?”
“Just look at them, Tom,” she smirked. “His messy hair, her wiped lipstick, the hastily tucked shirt, the missing sash. And that glow on their smiling faces.”
She glanced up at him. “That is the glow of having done it.”
“How long have you known?”
“About thirty minutes. They should win some kind of award for being so discreet about this.”
“Well…” Thomas smiled, watching his adorable niece and her handsome boyfriend hold hands at the table, and failing to ignore the resemblance she had to the younger version of her aunt. “Izzi is the most sensible teen I’ve ever met. If you’re worried about them doing something reckless–”
“I’m not. Although the fear has crossed my mind.” She sighed, taking two scoops of salad onto her plate. “Maybe I should talk to her.”
“If I know you well, you’re going to ask her outright if they are protected.”
“Isn’t that the biggest worry?”
“Maybe, but don’t make it awkward.”
“You make it awkward,” Emily gently retorted. “Remember what you told Ben when he first started dating? ‘As long as it’s consensual and you don’t knock her up, you’re safe’. Poor lad couldn’t look you in the eye for a week.”
When Thomas chuckled, she smiled, looking at the loved-up couple. Brandon was laughing hysterically over something, the sound rising above the music. “Doing it at a wedding party wasn’t the wisest move, though. There are too many people here.”
“They hardly get to see each other,” Thomas said. “The impatience is understandable.”
He gently touched her shoulder. “She’s a woman now, Em. And she has the most doting man by her side. He’ll never let her fall.”
Emily nodded. “Can I be honest? When Brandon first showed interest in Izzi, I couldn’t help worrying that he was only treating her as a learning experience. That he was going to move on soon enough and leave her stranded.”
“You thought Brandon was flaky?” Thomas chuckled again. “Our Brandy? We have known him all his life. The Fletchers are value-based people.”
“But he was going out with those cheerleading girls before Izzi came.” She stepped away from the buffet to let others access the food. “He used to have a new girl on his arm every week all through high school. It did make me think he had no depth of personality.”
“Has he earned your trust now?”
She stared in the distance again, her gaze passing between the bridesmaid and the youngest brother of the bride. When she caught Brandon’s eye, he raised a hand in an enthusiastic wave. Emily waved back with a smile.
“Being the mother of a young daughter is always fraught with worries,” she said. “And when the daughter is someone like Isabel… you keep wondering if she’s going to get hurt again all the time.”
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Thomas replied. “And she’s a very strong girl to have survived so much and turned into a healthy, capable, rational person.”
He slid a hand across her waist as they walked to their table. “You didn’t answer my question.”
Across the hall, Brandon was leading Isabel to the dance floor, the young lovers laughing as the newlyweds egged them on. Their infectious happiness made Emily smile.
“The proof is in the pudding, Tom. He can handle her at her worst and she’s comfortable being vulnerable with him- dropping her guard and quite possibly her clothes too.” Emily shook her head with a chuckle. “How can I not trust the lad who made her bloom again?”
“That’s reassuring.” Thomas pulled out a chair for her. “So he has the Emily Barrett seal of approval?”
She laughed with him, watching the couple on the dance floor. Later that night, she intended to talk to Isabel and assure her that they did not need to sneak around. That it was alright to be in love and give into their passion. That they were not the kind of parents to make it awkward or burden them with lectures about right and wrong.
And then she saw them stare into each other’s eyes as if they were the only people in the world, and realised they did not need anyone else.