It Happened One Wedding Page 23

“See? If you don’t believe me, at least listen to her,” Kathleen said, while peeling a carrot over a bowl at the island. “If you want to find a woman of quality, you can’t be running around looking like you just rolled out of bed.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. But for now, the ‘scruffy whatnot’ stays. I need it for an undercover role,” Vaughn said.

Surprised to hear that, Sidney looked over as she dumped the tomatoes into a large salad bowl filled with lettuce. “You’re working undercover now?”

“Well, I’m not in the other identity right this second,” Vaughn said. “I’m kind of guessing my mother would be able to ID me.”

Thank you, yes, she got that. “I meant, how does that work?” Sidney asked him. “You just walk around like normal, being yourself, when you’re not . . . the other you?”

“That’s exactly how it works. At least, when we’re talking about a case that involves only part-time undercover work.”

“But what if I were to run into the other you somewhere? Say . . . at a coffee shop.” A little inside reference there. “If I called you ‘Vaughn’ without realizing that you were working, wouldn’t that blow your cover?”

“First of all, like all agents who regularly do undercover work, I tell my friends and family not to approach me if they happen to run into me somewhere—for that very reason. Second of all, in this case, the ‘other me’ doesn’t hang out at coffee shops.”

“Where does the other you hang out?” Sidney asked. Not to contribute to his already healthy ego, but this was pretty interesting stuff.

“In dark, sketchy alleys doing dark, sketchy things,” Vaughn said as he set the table with salad bowls.

“So the other you is a bad guy, then.” Sidney paused, realizing something. “Is what you’re doing dangerous?”

“The joke around my office is that the agents on the white-collar crime squad never do anything dangerous.”

Sidney noticed that wasn’t an actual answer to her question.

When the room fell momentarily quiet, Kathleen looked between Sidney and Vaughn. “You know, Sidney, when you girls first came in, I spent so much time catching up with Isabelle, that I feel like we didn’t get to talk much. Tell me more about yourself. What is it that you do for a living?”

“I’m a director at a private equity firm.”

“Oh, that sounds impressive. Have you always worked in Chicago?” Finished with her peeling, Kathleen grabbed a shredder out of the cabinet in the base of the island.

Sidney rinsed off her knife at the sink. “Actually, I first worked in New York as an investment banker after finishing business school. I just moved back to Chicago two months ago.”

“Your father must be so glad to have you back in town.”

Sidney kept her expression nonchalant, not wanting to reveal the complexity of her relationship with her father. Professionally speaking, she had a great deal of respect for him. Coming from a middle-class background, he’d put himself through business school and now ran one of the most lucrative hedge funds in Chicago. He was a natural leader: sharp, decisive, and cool and collected when taking risks. Her father knew how to command a room; she remembered being in awe of him when she was younger, watching him at her parents’ parties and noticing how he always seemed to be the center of attention no matter who he was talking to. But his devotion to his career, and the egotism that had sprung from his success, had put a distance between him and his daughters—and had undoubtedly contributed to the problems in his later marriages.

Clearly, their upbringing had been a lot different from that of Vaughn and Simon. This whole cozy scene, the sit-down family lunch on a Saturday afternoon, was something she hadn’t experienced since she was a young girl, before her mom died. But for simplicity’s sake, Sidney nodded and gave the expected response. “Yes, he is.”

Over in the adjacent family room, whatever sporting event Adam had been watching must have ended. He shut off the television and stood up from the couch. “What time is lunch?” he called over.

“Now,” Kathleen said.

“That’s the best time,” he said.

Vaughn was dispatched to alert Simon and Isabelle that lunch was ready, and within moments they were all seated around the knotted pine farm table. There was a bounty of food on the table: freshly baked soda bread, salad, and the main course, shepherd’s pie. Kathleen led them in saying grace, and Sidney and Isabelle shot each other we’re-such-heathens looks as they bowed their heads, not having done this in years. After a chorus of amens, Vaughn and the other Robertses all made the sign of the cross, and then everyone heartily reached for whatever dish was closest.

“Oh! I almost forgot.” Kathleen momentarily left the table and came back with a bottle of wine. “Since this is a special occasion, our first time meeting our future daughter-in-law, I thought we should celebrate.” She handed the bottle to Vaughn, along with a corkscrew. “I can never work those things.” She turned back to the rest of the table, explaining. “One of Adam’s clients gave him this bottle years ago. We’ve been saving it for the right moment.”

“Rich family, big house just outside of Milwaukee,” Adam added. “They wanted two walls of built-in bookshelves in their living room, and they asked me to do it in two weeks, before some big family party they were having. We got the job done in twelve days,” he said proudly. He gestured to the bottle. “I don’t know much about wine, but they said this is a good one.”

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