It Happened One Wedding Page 10

Trish raised an eyebrow. “And that’s all that’s driving this new ‘extra incentive’ of yours?”

“Yes.” Sidney saw Trish’s look and conceded. “Okay, fine. Admittedly, given the circumstances, I would prefer not to show up dateless to my younger sister’s wedding. If I do, somebody is going to give me the ‘Poor Sidney’ head-tilt. And you know how I feel about the head-tilt.”

“That I do.”

The “Poor Sidney” head-tilt was her nickname for the look her former New York colleagues had given her after she’d ended her engagement. Because she and Brody both had been investment bankers in Manhattan, the scintillating tale of how she’d discovered his cheating had spread like wildfire through their professional community. After that, she’d gotten a lot of sympathetic looks around the office; and several well-meaning people had called, e-mailed, or dropped by to ask how she was “hanging in.” And while she’d known that her friends and co-workers had been simply trying to be nice, she’d found the whole thing incredibly embarrassing.

It was not an experience she wanted to repeat at her sister’s wedding.

“I’ve got my dating profile up, and that’s a start, but I realized this weekend that I need a more specific plan of attack. Brody’s ‘excuse’”—Sidney made mocking air quotes—“for cheating was that he panicked over the idea of getting married. That he freaked out at the idea of ‘forever.’”

Trish snorted. “Have I ever mentioned how much I intensely despise the man?”

That made two of them. “So this time around, I’m not making the same mistake. No more commitment-phobic men, no more player types, no more guys with issues or drama or whatever. I knew about Brody’s reputation before we started dating, but I let his charm cloud my judgment. That’s not happening again. From now on, I’m taking the same approach that I do with work: no matter how good a candidate looks at first blush, if I spot any red flags, he’s out.”

“What kind of red flags?” Trish asked.

Sidney smiled, prepared for exactly that question. “I did some due diligence this weekend.” She took her iPad out of her purse and pulled up the list she’d created. “This is a compilation of the various articles I researched.”

Trish read out loud. “‘Signs he’s not ready for a commitment.’” She scrolled down. “Oh my gosh, there have to be thirty things on this list.”

“Thirty-four. Although a few are somewhat redundant.”

“‘If he moves too fast into the relationship, he’ll likely exit it fast, too. But if he moves too slow, he’s likely either not sure about you or still hung up on a previous relationship.’” Trish continued reading. “‘He’s not available on weekends. He doesn’t introduce you to his family or friends. He doesn’t talk about the future. He doesn’t talk about his past. He’s not settled at work.’” She looked up. “What’s that about?”

“According to my research, men need to feel confident and secure in their ability to provide before being ready to commit to a long-term relationship.”

“I see.” Trish moved farther down the list. “‘He talks poorly about his ex, he won’t talk at all about his ex, he’s not on stable emotional footing with his parents, the majority of his friends aren’t in committed relationships . . .’”

“Because men typically choose to spend their time with people whose values they share,” Sidney explained.

“Uh-huh.” Trish kept reading. “‘He doesn’t ask about your day, he doesn’t handle adversity or criticism well at work, he doesn’t call when he says he will . . . ’” She trailed off, skimming through the other items. Then she set the iPad down on the table and paused for a moment, as if thinking carefully about her next words. “This is a very . . . extensive list. And no doubt, there’s some good advice here.” She reached over and squeezed Sidney’s hand affectionately. “But Sid, sweetie, there’s never any guarantee that you won’t get hurt in a relationship. No matter how vigilant you are for red flags or how much due diligence you do.”

Sidney thought about that. She thought about the day that her life had been turned upside-down, how she’d been blindsided, how the story had spread to virtually everyone she knew, and how for months she’d felt weak and foolish and gullible and not at all like herself. Because the Sidney Sinclair she’d always known was a strong, confident, savvy woman. But in one fell swoop, Brody had managed to make her doubt all of that.

With that in mind, she looked her friend in the eyes. “This list is the closest thing I’ve got to a guarantee, Trish. I have to believe that. Because I’m sure as hell not going through another Brody experience again.”

She closed the iPad cover—as if to say the discussion was over—and then smiled. Over the last six months, she’d learned that the best way to handle any conversation that was getting a little too personal was to simply move on. “So. Is Jonah getting any teeth yet?”

 • • •

ENJOYING THE WARM, early June weather, Sidney and Trish decided to walk back to their respective offices instead of taking cabs. As they strolled along one of the bridges that crossed the Chicago River, Sidney remembered something.

“Oh my gosh, with the conversation about Isabelle’s wedding and everything else, I completely forgot to tell you about Vaughn.”

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