It Happened One Wedding Page 20

So, this was the story they were all going with. They’d stopped three times in just as many hours, and Vaughn had heard so much talk about “fresh air” and “stretching” that one would think his companions were partaking of some sort of traveling yoga class instead of road tripping.

It seemed fairly obvious that, in reality, Isabelle was feeling carsick and needed to make a few stops to break up the ride. For that reason, Vaughn was careful not to complain about the snail’s pace they were making up to his parents’ house—he felt bad that Isabelle was uncomfortable. Indeed, life would be so much easier on all of them if everyone just told him the damn truth. But since that apparently wasn’t the plan, he would continue to play the role of a guy oblivious to all the shenanigans around him.

Luckily, they were less than twenty miles from his parents’ house. The bad news was, however, that in about two miles they would be leaving the highway and the remainder of the drive would be slow, hilly, and winding. His parents lived in a small lakeside community, and in order to get to their house, one needed to traverse a complicated web of unmarked roads—not recognized by GPS—that passed through limestone bluffs, canyons, and deep ravines. For a first-time visitor, his parents’ house was difficult to find—which was why he and Simon had insisted that the two cars stay together for the drive.

A few minutes later, Sidney came out of the gas station carrying a plastic bag. “Some snacks for the road,” she said cheerfully.

Vaughn could see the contents through the plastic bag and doubted the bottle of ginger ale and small box of saltine crackers Sidney had purchased were for her. But still, he said nothing.

All part of the little dance they were all doing.

They hit the road again, with Sidney’s sleek black Mercedes right behind him.

“What do you think Mom and Dad are going to think of her?” Simon asked, as they cruised along the last stretch of highway before the turnoff.

Vaughn pictured the sophisticated knot Sidney had pulled her auburn hair into, and the summer dress, heels, and Gucci sunglasses she was wearing. He’d been wondering that same thing himself. “That she’s very ‘New York.’”

Simon cocked his head, as if confused. “Oh. No, I meant Isabelle. You know, the one I’m marrying?”

Right. “They’ll think she’s great, Simon.” His mother had called him, and undoubtedly Simon, too, nearly every day this past week, wanting to know what time they planned to get on the road, what time they would be leaving on Sunday, and whether the “girls” were sure they wanted to stay at a hotel. His parents had been happy to hear that Isabelle was bringing her sister. His mother was Irish, after all—in her mind, when it came to family, the more the merrier.

Initially, Vaughn had found the last-minute addition of Sidney curious. But now, having observed the situation, he got it: Sidney was there to help Isabelle and Simon maintain their cover, to deflect attention from the fact that her sister wasn’t feeling well. And while as a general rule he disliked being purposely deceived, as an older sibling himself, he found the protective nature of Sidney’s actions rather . . . endearing. Perhaps underneath all that snark, there was a softer side to Sidney Sinclair.

At least when it came to some people.

“Mom told me she’s planning to make shepherd’s pie for lunch,” Simon said, interrupting his thoughts.

“The specialty of the house.” Seemingly, Simon and Isabelle weren’t the only ones hoping to make a good first impression. His mother’s shepherd’s pie could make a grown man cry.

Simon cleared his throat as they passed by the rolling fields of a dairy farm about five miles out from his parents’ place. “I need you to do something for me.”

From Simon’s serious tone, Vaughn could guess what might be coming. Don’t tell Mom and Dad, but Isabelle is pregnant. Good, it was about time he was brought into the circle of trust. He was an FBI agent, for chrissakes. Isabelle and Simon needed help with a little undercover work? Pfft. That was his specialty.

“I want you to be nice to Sidney this weekend,” Simon said.

Vaughn blinked in surprise. “Why would you think I wouldn’t be nice to her?”

“Isabelle told me that she doesn’t think Sidney cares for you much.”

“If that’s true, then maybe you and Isabelle should be having the ‘be nice’ conversation with Sidney instead of me.”

“I’m being serious, Vaughn,” Simon said. “Sidney means the world to Isabelle. So if you’ve done something to offend her, or piss her off, or annoy her, just fix it.”

Vaughn grumbled under his breath. If he and Sidney were not being so clandestine about the origins of their meeting, he would’ve pointed out to his brother that all he’d done was hit on the woman. This was hardly a federal crime, in fact—hello—it was a compliment.

Simon wasn’t letting go of the subject. “Look, I know Sidney can come off a little tough when you first meet her. But she and Isabelle are really close—their mother died when they were young, and the way Isabelle tells it, Sidney essentially took on the role of watching over her after that.”

“What about their father?”

“I get the impression he wasn’t around much between his job and personal life.”

“Well, marriages take a lot of work. Especially four of them.”

Simon chuckled. “So you’ll play nice this weekend, then?”

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