It Happened One Wedding Page 13

“I know it’s short notice, but I was wondering if you’re free Saturday night?” Simon asked.

Actually, Vaughn had a date scheduled that night, with an investigative reporter from the Tribune he’d met a few months ago. She was twenty-six, focused on her career, and had zero interest in a steady relationship at this point in her life. They got together occasionally for drinks, dinner, and good times.

“I had plans, but nothing too important,” Vaughn said. “What’s up?”

“Apparently Isabelle’s father and stepmother are throwing their annual summer party on Saturday, and they’ve decided to ‘announce’ the engagement there.”

“Sounds very upper-crusty.”

“Oh, it’ll definitely be upper-crusty. Isabelle’s dad runs a hedge fund and has some big house on the North Shore. So break out your seersucker suit because they’ve extended an invitation to you, as well.”

Seersucker suit? Sure, Vaughn had three of them stashed in his closet, for all the croquet tournaments and garden parties he got invited to. “On second thought, I really shouldn’t cancel my Saturday plans. Because those plans involve me getting laid, while this party sounds . . . really boring.”

Simon chuckled. “So I’ll see you there at seven o’clock?”

“Yeah, yeah.” Vaughn already had a pen out to write down the address.

“Hey, at least you know Sidney now,” Simon said. “That’s one person you can talk to.”

Sure.

Because that was always such a hoot.

Five

VAUGHN STEPPED OUT onto the terrace that overlooked the grounds behind Ross Sinclair’s Tudor-style mansion and saw immediately that Simon hadn’t been joking about this being an upper-crust affair. Milling about the impeccably manicured lawn and sculpted gardens were what he guessed to be nearly two hundred guests in cocktail attire. Waiters in tuxedos carried trays of hors d’oeuvres, wine, and champagne as a string quartet played from the second-floor balcony of the house.

Safe to say this was a bit different from the “summer parties” he and Simon had attended while growing up in Apple Canyon, Wisconsin—population 3,468 at last count.

Vaughn spotted Simon and Isabelle on the opposite end of the terrace, chatting with several couples who appeared to be in their forties. He smiled at the sight of his brother—a graphic designer who typically wore T-shirts and jeans everywhere he could get away with it—wearing tailored tan pants and a pressed linen shirt, thinking how proud their mother would be to see her younger son so spiffed up.

Simon caught sight of Vaughn heading over and grinned. “There he is—we were just talking about you.”

“Simon was telling everyone how he’d decided to move to Chicago after living with you the summer after he graduated college,” Isabelle added.

“Actually, I was saying how I’d decided to move to Chicago despite the fact that you and I lived together for a summer,” Simon deadpanned, as he clasped Vaughn’s hand in greeting.

“My brother, always the comedian,” Vaughn said to the group. He shook hands as introductions were made. Apparently the couples were friends of Isabelle’s stepmother, Jenny. A few minutes into the conversation, another couple came over—a tall man in his sixties with salt-and-pepper hair and sharp blue-green eyes, and an attractive brunette probably twenty years his junior.

“Dad, Jenny, this is Simon’s brother, Vaughn,” Isabelle said. “Vaughn, this is my father, Ross Sinclair, and his wife, Jenny.”

“The FBI agent,” Ross said, looking Vaughn over as he shook his hand. “Were you one of the guys who arrested that nineteen-year-old who was planning to plant a bomb outside Wrigley Field?” he asked, referring to a case that had recently been in all the local media.

“No, sir. That credit goes to the agents on the terrorism squad.”

“Oh.” Ross suddenly looked bored with the conversation. “What squad are you on?”

“White-collar crime.”

Ross raised an eyebrow. “Ever arrest any hedge fund managers?” he quipped, getting a chuckle from the crowd.

“Only the criminal ones.”

Ross looked at Vaughn again—seemingly still sizing him up—and then left to greet some people who’d just walked in.

Simon leaned in so only Vaughn could hear. “Yep, that went about as well as my first conversation with him. And basically every conversation thereafter. The guy’s a tough nut to crack.”

Like father, like daughter, Vaughn thought.

A waiter stopped to offer him a glass of champagne, which he declined. But while turned in that direction, his eyes landed on someone talking in a group out on the lawn.

Sidney.

Since she wasn’t looking, Vaughn let his eyes linger for a moment. Admittedly, he didn’t know a lot about women’s fashion, but he assumed that her pink dress sported some sort of fancy designer label. And whatever she’d spent, it was worth every penny. The dress cut asymmetrically across her legs, and one ruffled sleeve draped teasingly off her right shoulder. Combined with the high heels she had on, the look was both classy and sexy as hell.

She had one hand on her hip as she chatted with a couple who appeared to be roughly her father’s age. As if sensing Vaughn’s gaze, she looked over and caught his eye.

Her eyes briefly took in his tie-less suit and open-necked shirt. Then, with a deliberately disinterested air, she turned away from him and focused once again on her conversation.

Prev Next