It Happened One Wedding Page 14

Ah . . . the cold shoulder. So that was how they were going to play this tonight. That was just fine with him.

 • • •

FOR THE NEXT half hour, he did the rounds with Simon and Isabelle, making polite conversation about the wedding and entertaining the group with funny anecdotes about Simon, as was his duty as best man and older brother. Then there was a clinking of glasses as Ross Sinclair moved to the center of the terrace to make a toast. The people who’d been mingling out on the lawn gathered closer.

“Jenny and I want to thank all of you for coming tonight,” Ross began, with the confident air of a man used to speaking in front of others. “It’s wonderful that so many of you could join us on this happy occasion.” He looked over at his younger daughter and future son-in-law. “As all of you may or may not know, Isabelle and Simon began dating not too long ago. So when she brought him over for dinner last weekend, and he pulled me aside to ask for my permission to marry her, my first question was”—he cocked his head in mock confusion—“What’s your name again?”

The crowd broke out in laughter.

“Simon,” called out Simon good-naturedly.

The crowd laughed more.

“Simon—right,” Ross said, hamming it up. He continued when the crowd quieted. “But after getting that out of the way, my second question was to Isabelle. And that was, simply: ‘Does he make you happy?’” He smiled at his daughter. “And without hesitation, she said yes.”

He paused as the crowd aw-ed, and Simon and Isabelle exchanged an affectionate look.

“That was all I needed to hear.” Ross lifted his glass. “So with that, I’d like you to raise your glasses in toast to the happy couple as they continue on their journey together. To Isabelle and . . .” He trailed off, making an oops face as though he’d forgotten again.

“Simon,” the crowd responded in unison, laughing.

“I’ll get it one day!” Ross said, over the din.

Everyone clapped at the toast and took a sip of champagne.

The crowd broke off into various groups, chatting and mingling. Simon and Isabelle were across the terrace, engaged in conversation. Seeing that he had no one else to talk to, Vaughn decided to check out the gardens.

He headed for the stairs. As luck would have it, he and Sidney met at the top.

“Vaughn, hello,” she said, with a pleasant smile.

“Sidney . . . good to see you again,” Vaughn replied ever-so-politely.

They walked down the steps together.

Leaning in, Sidney spoke so only he could hear. “We part ways at the bottom of the steps?”

“I’ll go right, you go left.”

Some woman passed them on the wide staircase, heading in the opposite direction. She grinned, seeing them side-by-side. “Well, won’t you two look lovely walking down the aisle together?”

Vaughn’s eye twitched. “Wrong siblings,” he told the woman.

“She meant for the recessional,” Sidney explained, as they hit the bottom of the stairs.

“Oh.” That definitely made a lot more sense.

“You know, sometime in the next three months, you might want to Google what the best man actually does at a wedding. Just a suggestion,” she said in parting, still with the feigned smile for the sake of anyone who might be watching.

Vaughn stopped her as she turned to leave. “Did you say three months?”

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. I guess it’s technically eleven weeks now.”

That wasn’t what he’d meant. “My brother and your sister are getting married in eleven weeks?” Admittedly, he wasn’t exactly an expert on weddings, but that seemed incredibly fast. Like . . . oddly fast.

Sidney paused. “I’d assumed they’d told you the date already. It’s the Saturday before Labor Day.”

“I hadn’t heard.”

“Oh.” She shifted, as if uncertain what to say in response to that. “Well . . . now you have.” She strode off, following the walkway that cut a path across the lawn to her left.

Eleven weeks.

Still chewing on that piece of information, Vaughn followed the walkway in the opposite direction from Sidney, wondering if, perhaps, there was some particular reason Isabelle and Simon wanted to get married so quickly. Having no one to talk to at the moment, he decided to do some light reconnaissance. While pretending to admire the gardens, he found a vantage point that allowed him to watch Isabelle and Simon, who stood on the terrace, talking with others.

A waiter came by, offering the group more champagne. Isabelle declined, and as the waiter moved on to the guests next to them, Simon gave his fiancée a subtle wink.


 • • •

BY NINE O’CLOCK, Vaughn was ready to call it a night.

He was warm in his jacket—which, for logistical reasons, he couldn’t take off—and he’d pretty much exhausted his ability to make polite chitchat with a bunch of people he didn’t know.

Parched from all the conversation, he decided to grab something to drink before getting on the road for the forty-minute drive back to the city. He made his way to the bar that had been set up on one end of the terrace and ordered a club soda.

Drink in hand, he leaned against the terrace while people watching. Over the last hour, he’d continued his surveillance of his brother and future sister-in-law, noting that the latter hadn’t drunk anything alcoholic all evening. Possibly, this meant nothing. Perhaps Isabelle was the designated driver for her and Simon tonight. Perhaps she simply didn’t feel like drinking.

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