It Happened One Wedding Page 18

Sidney got up from the couch. “I’ve gone through most of them. These dresses here are the ones you’ll want to focus on.”

Isabelle wrinkled her nose, pointing to the first one on the rack. “I’m not a big fan of empire waistlines.”

“In three months, I’m thinking that’s the only waistline that’s going to work if the goal is to keep the peanut on the down-low.”

Isabelle blinked. “Right. Duh.” She took a deep breath and put on a smile. “Okay, empire waist, it is.” She stood up and joined Sidney at the rack. She leafed through the dresses with somewhat lackluster interest at first, but then she stopped when she saw the last one. “Wait. This one’s not so bad. Actually, I really like this one.” With an enthusiastic flourish, she pulled the dress out to show Sidney. “What do you think?”

The gown was sleeveless, with straps that widened into a deep V. With a sweetheart neckline trimmed in lace, high waist, and full tulle skirt, it was sophisticated in a classic 1940s Hollywood kind of way. “It’s perfect,” Sidney said, completely genuine. “Let’s see it on.”

Giggling excitedly, Isabelle twirled with the dress in the direction of the private dressing area. She stopped mid-spin and put her hand over her stomach. “Oh, boy.”

Jackie chose that moment to stick her head into the dressing room. “How’s everything going so far? Is there anything I can get you?”

“I’d say a trash can,” Sidney told her. “Quickly.”

To her credit, Jackie didn’t even bat an eye.

“Not a problem.”

 • • •

“OH MY GOSH, Izz. You’ve got to try at least one bite of this.”

Isabelle, who’d insisted on treating Sidney as a thank-you for going dress shopping, held up a hand, refusing the forkful of red velvet cupcake. “Ugh. No thanks.” She put a hand on her stomach. “Apparently, the peanut doesn’t like the looks of that cream cheese frosting.”

They walked along Oak Street as Sidney ate from the plastic container the woman behind the counter at Sprinkles bakery had hurriedly tossed at them, presumably after seeing Isabelle’s face turn greener than the sugar topping on their key lime cupcakes. The original plan had been to eat in the bakery, but then Isabelle had covered her mouth with another “Oh, boy,” muttered something about “strong smells,” and they’d hightailed it out of the place ASAP.

“I will make a mental note not to serve anything with cream cheese frosting at your bridal shower,” Sidney said. “I’m thinking it would put a slight damper on the festivities if the guest of honor throws up on the cake.”

Isabelle half-smiled at the joke, seeming distracted. “True.” She cocked her head, as if pondering something. “So what do you think about Vaughn?”

Sidney paused, mid-cupcake bite, as several responses immediately sprang to mind. Irritating. Cocky. Player. Delicious.

She gave herself a mental face slap for that last one.

“Vaughn? Why would I think anything about Vaughn?” she asked, going for a nonchalant air while trying not to think about the way he’d looked the last time she’d seen him, at the engagement party. She’d escaped to the garden by the fountain—her mother’s favorite spot in the days before the cancer had left her bed-ridden—because she’d needed a moment to cool her temper after hearing the gossips talking about her broken engagement. There’d been a moment, when she and Vaughn had been standing by the fountain, alone, when she’d been struck by how effortlessly handsome he’d looked with his coat off and tossed over one shoulder.

Her first instinct, naturally, had been to be snarky. You said something about leaving? She didn’t need to be noticing how handsome a man like Vaughn Roberts was.

“I get a vibe that you don’t like him very much,” Isabelle said.

Imagine that.

“I thought everything seemed fine between Vaughn and me when we met you and Simon for dinner the other night,” Sidney said evasively. And technically, that wasn’t a lie. She’d gone out of her way that night, and at the engagement party, to be polite to Vaughn—at least in the presence of others.

“Maybe I’m just not used to seeing you around single men since your breakup with Brody.”

Sidney’s head spun toward her sister. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means that you seemed a little tense around him. Like you were giving him back-off signals or something.” Isabelle held up her hand, seeing Sidney open her mouth. “Which would be totally understandable, given what happened with The Asshole,” she said, her nickname for Brody. “I would imagine that it’s a little scary, thinking about putting yourself out there again.”

Sidney resisted the urge to roll her eyes. First Trish, now her sister was trying to bait her into a discussion using her therapy techniques. “I’m doing fine,” she said assuredly. “In fact, I just set up two dates for next week.” She declined to mention that Isabelle’s wedding was, in part, the driving force behind her determination to get her love life in order. As close as she was with her sister, that felt odd to admit.

“Oh.” Isabelle seemed briefly surprised that she didn’t already know about the dates, but then she smiled. “Well, that’s great. I’m glad to hear you’re moving on.”

“Exactly.” Sidney took a bite of her cupcake. “Mmm. No offense to the peanut, but he or she is crazy to miss out on this frosting.” Yes, she was changing the subject. She was truly happy that Isabelle and Simon were getting married and having a baby—she wouldn’t begrudge her sister anything. But talking about her dating life emphasized the fact that she was now back at square one, single again at thirty-three and trying hard to quell her growing fears that all the non-weird, commitment-ready men in this city had already been snatched up.

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