It Happened One Wedding Page 15

Or perhaps she was pregnant.

Having begun to suspect this, Vaughn had “offhandedly” mentioned to Simon and Isabelle that he’d heard he needed to mark his calendar for the Saturday before Labor Day. They’d both squirmed, their speech patterns a bit rushed as they told some long-winded story about the gorgeous view from the terrace at her father’s country club, and how Isabelle had always wanted to have a partial outdoor wedding there, but this was the only available date before April, and everyone knew how the weather in Chicago was just so unpredictable in April, and besides, they didn’t want to wait that long, because Isabelle was thinking about expanding her social work practice next year and combining that with a wedding simply would be too much to deal with.

Uh-huh.

Vaughn had nodded along with the whole speech, as if buying every word. But having interrogated many people over the last eight years, he could tell when a story was too perfectly thought out, too detailed. It was one of the more common mistakes people made when trying to cover up a lie.

What he couldn’t figure out, however, was why Simon felt the need to lie to him about Isabelle’s pregnancy.

Their mother? That, he understood. Kathleen Roberts came from a devout Irish Catholic family and had conservative views about the order in which marriage and sex were supposed to take place. Vaughn had no doubt that his mother would be upset if she learned that one of her sons had gotten a woman pregnant out of wedlock. Not angry, just . . . disappointed. And being good Irish boys—with a healthy dose of Catholic guilt complex—Vaughn and Simon hated to disappoint their mother.

But obviously, the situation was different between him and Simon. Of course, Simon could confide in him about things like this—they’d always been close as brothers. Or at least . . . he’d always assumed they were.

Vaughn mulled that question over in his mind while finishing his club soda. He was on his last sip when something caught his eye. A flash of pink and auburn to his left.

Truth be told, this wasn’t the first time this particular flash of pink and auburn had caught his eye. Sidney had been everywhere at this party tonight, mingling and smiling and laughing and seemingly always in his line of sight with her sleek legs and that damn ruffle that fell off her shoulder. It was a very clever trick, this peekaboo sleeve of hers. It made a man think . . . things.

Things a man definitely had no business thinking about a woman he’d gone out of his way to avoid all night.

Brushing that aside, Vaughn set his empty glass on the tray next to the bar. Just then, his ear caught the conversation of the group standing behind him.

“. . . heard that the reception is going to be at the Lakeshore Club,” said a woman.

“Wasn’t that the place where Sidney was going to have her reception?” asked a second woman.

“Yes. Maybe Isabelle can have her sister’s wedding dress and veil, too. Somebody might as well use them,” the first woman snickered.

“No way. That dress is a curse. You heard what happened, right? How she found out her fiancé was cheating?” said the second woman.

A third woman jumped in, shushing the first two. “Shh. Sidney’s standing right there,” she whispered.

Vaughn looked over his shoulder and saw Sidney mid-conversation with two men who, if he recalled correctly from the whirlwind of introductions, worked at her father’s hedge fund. She stood closest to the gossiping women, so it was certainly possible she’d heard them talking. But her expression gave nothing away as she carried on, business as usual.

Then Vaughn heard another voice. His own.

Well. On behalf of the male population, let me be the first to apologize for whatever he did.

So he’d been a little . . . sarcastic at the coffee shop. Maybe more than a little. Sidney certainly hadn’t held back with her self-righteous speech, which meant he’d been entitled to respond in kind. Still, after hearing that her ex-fiancé had cheated on her, he felt a touch guilty about his comment right then.

Definitely time to call it a night.

He found Isabelle and Simon, and had every intention of saying a quick good-bye. But instead they introduced him to yet more people—people who, as often was the case, were fascinated to hear that he was an FBI agent and immediately hit him with the standard litany of questions. Do you carry a gun? (Yes.) Do you have it on you right now? (Yes.) Can I see it? (No.) How many people have you arrested? (Probably less than expected; undercover operations take time to carry out.) You work undercover? Cool! What’s that like?

And so on.

Finally, he made his getaway twenty minutes later. He decided to walk around the house instead of going back inside, thinking it would be his quickest escape route. He immediately shucked his suit coat as he followed the paved walkway past the swimming pool and guesthouse, and into a more secluded garden with an elegant three-tiered fountain.

Sitting on a bench, tucked away from the rest of the party, was Sidney.

She jumped and stood up, clearly startled by his arrival. For a split second, he felt bad for intruding, thinking perhaps she’d overheard the gossip and had come out here to get a short break from the party.

But then she spoke.

“You again,” she said.

“Me again,” Vaughn drawled in return. As if it was his fault they kept crossing paths at this party. If he had his druthers, he and The Cantankerous Miss Sidney Sinclair would go their separate ways and—wow, the V-neckline of that dress dipped enticingly lower than he’d realized.

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