It Happened One Wedding Page 26

A woman in her mid-fifties, dressed in jeans and a floral top, sat behind an ornate wooden check-in desk. She greeted them with a warm smile. “Welcome to Carter Mansion.”

Sidney looked around. “My sister, Isabelle, came in here a few minutes ago. At least, I thought she did.”

“She and Simon just headed upstairs. They said you were right behind them. Sidney, right?” The woman introduced herself as Lauren, one of the co-owners of the inn. She gave them an overview of the amenities as she checked Sidney in. “You’ll be staying in the Jocelyn Room. Your sister’s room is right next door.” She slid a small metal key ring with the inn’s logo across the desk.

Sidney’s eyes widened, seeing that. “Oh, wow. You have actual keys, not a key card.” She took out her cell phone and snapped a photo.

“She’s from the city,” Vaughn explained to the innkeeper.

Sidney nudged him with her shoulder. “You’re from the city now, too.”

“But I blend in anywhere. It’s an FBI thing.”

She snorted at that. “Blend? There had to be thirty people in that coffee shop that day, yet you were the one I noticed as soon I walked in.”

Interesting admission. “Checking me out, were you?”

Sidney blushed, then turned to Lauren—clearly not about to answer that. “What time is check-out?”

“Noon. A full gourmet breakfast will be served in your room at any time of your choosing between seven thirty and nine thirty A.M.” Lauren turned amiably to Vaughn. “I’m in the church gardening group with your mother. Be sure to tell her I said hello.”

“I’ll do that,” Vaughn said.

“She’s talked a lot about Simon’s engagement, but didn’t say anything about you.” The innkeeper pointed between Vaughn and Sidney. “Have you two been together long?”

Sidney blinked, then gestured at Vaughn. “Him and me?” She laughed. “Oh, no. Noooo, no, no.”

Vaughn smiled at Lauren, nonplussed. “In case you missed it, that would be a no.”

Ten

AFTER UNPACKING, SIDNEY and Isabelle curled up on Isabelle’s bed with a stack of bridal magazines and got down to work.

Over the next couple of hours, they decided on the color of the bridesmaids’ dresses, finalized the guest lists for the bridal shower and bachelorette party, and pulled together several magazine clippings with photos of table centerpieces to show the florist. Sidney was about to move on to the next item on the agenda—potential locations for the rehearsal dinner because that needed to be booked ASAP—when she looked over and saw that Isabelle had fallen asleep, her head tucked into the crook of her arm.

Quietly, Sidney got up and grabbed the throw blanket that had been folded across the bottom of the bed. She laid it over Isabelle, whose expression was one of serene contentment as she napped with a bridal magazine lying open on the bed in front of her. Seeing that, Sidney felt a pang of something bittersweet. She, too, had once felt that happy and hopeful about her own wedding—before she’d been unexpectedly yanked out of the fantasy by the appearance of her fiancé’s lover.

Shoving the unwelcome memory aside, she tiptoed out of the room.

Once inside her own room, Sidney caught up on e-mail and texted Trish the photo of the actual key the innkeeper had given her.

I THINK I’M IN MAYBERRY, she typed.

A few seconds later, she received Trish’s reply. I HEAR SMALL TOWNS HAVE HOT SHERIFFS. GO SPEED THAT MERCEDES DOWN MAIN STREET AND GET YOURSELF A DATE.

Sidney smiled. If only it were that easy.

Deciding that a more casual look would be appropriate for dinner, she changed into jeans, flat sandals, and a flowy, white embroidered camisole top. She let her hair down from the twist she’d pinned it into that morning, let it fall into messy waves, and used a curling iron to touch up the ends. She was just finishing up when she heard a knock at her door.

Isabelle shuffled in, yawning. “Simon just texted me. He said he’ll pick us up in twenty minutes.” She looked Sidney over. “Wow. That’s the most non-businesslike I’ve seen you look in years.”

Sidney scrutinized her reflection in the mirror on the back of the closet door. “It’s missing something. Do you think they sell cowboy boots in town?”

“Not ones that are made by Manolo Blahnik,” Isabelle said teasingly.

Well, that was indeed a crime.

 • • •

FOR DINNER, KATHLEEN diverted from the traditional Irish traditions and instead made chicken with lemon, green olives, and couscous—which seemed to agree much better with both Isabelle and the peanut. Sidney sat with her sister to her right, and Kathleen, at the foot of the table, on her other side. The mood was boisterous, with everyone talking every which way, and Sidney found herself chatting quite a bit with Kathleen.

Over coffee and dessert, a delicious pistachio chocolate chip cake that was another favorite of “the boys,” the conversation took a turn that Sidney supposed was inevitable.

“I noticed you haven’t mentioned anything about a boyfriend,” Kathleen said to her. “Does that mean you’re single?”

The din around the table suddenly quieted, and five pairs of eyes focused on Sidney.

Well. Nothing like putting her on the spot again.

“Yes, I’m single,” she said.

“I don’t understand that.” Kathleen gestured to her. “How is it that a smart, pretty girl like you hasn’t been snatched up by some good man?”

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