It Happened One Wedding Page 28

Careful, warned the pragmatic voice in her head. That’s starting to sound a bit like jealousy.

Sidney stood up from the armchair. “I’m going to grab a glass of water. Anyone else need anything?”

“Actually, Sidney, if you don’t mind, grab a couple bottled waters from the refrigerator and bring them out to the boys,” Kathleen said. “And find out how much longer they plan to be.”

Thinking that some air would do her good, Sidney nodded. “Sure, no problem.” She grabbed three bottled waters from the fridge, then headed out to the backyard and followed a row of colorful flowers to the white painted shed. She could see Simon working on a section of the roof close to the ladder, so she called his name and held up the bottled water. “Your mom wants to know when you guys are wrapping up.”

He climbed down the ladder and took one of the bottled waters. “I think we’ll probably call it a day. It’ll be dark soon, anyway.” He shouted up to Vaughn, who poked his head around the peaked part of the roof. “I’m heading in.”

Vaughn nodded and went back to his hammering.

Not about to stand around all night waiting for him, Sidney set his bottled water on the grass next to the ladder. She turned to follow Simon, but then hesitated.

Perhaps she could use just a teeny tiny break before heading back inside to the most adorably-in-love couple this side of Chicago.

She noticed a path to the left of the shed. Seeing that it led into the woods adjacent to the Robertses’ house, she decided to check it out. Closer to the trees, the path split in two. Mindful of the approaching darkness, she ignored the path that led deeper into the woods and chose the other one, which took her to a small clearing. She slowed her stride as she neared the top, struck by the picturesque view. The Robertses’ property was at the top of a hill, and from the clearing she could see down into the valley. The deep blue of the sky was streaked with brilliant hues of red, burnt orange, and yellow as the sun began its descent behind the hills.

Seeing that she still had time while it was light outside, she took a seat in the grass. She tucked her knees and rested her chin on her forearms, soaking in both the view and these few brief moments when she was blissfully free of all wedding talk.

Eleven

DON’T EVEN THINK about following her.

Vaughn repeated this mantra in his head as he pounded away with the hammer. When he finished the row of shingles he’d been working on, he decided to call it quits for the evening. He and Simon had more work to do tomorrow, but they were making good progress—over half the roof was done.

He wiped his brow with his arm, then climbed down the ladder and cracked open the bottled water Sidney had left him.

She had a new look tonight, he’d noticed. Hair down, jeans that molded to her every curve, and some summery top that hugged tight to her chest and draped loose around her waist. He could practically feel his fingers tracing along her soft skin, trailing a slow path over the curve of her waist and up to the tantalizing swell of her br**sts.

Christ.

Taking a frustrated swig of water, Vaughn swallowed and looked over at the path that led to the clearing. She’d been gone only a few minutes now, and he knew she couldn’t go far. Although . . . there was always the possibility that she could stumble into some poison ivy. Or an angry badger. Or she could slip in those strappy designer sandals and tumble headfirst down the hill and into an entire nest of angry badgers.

Probably, he should check on her. Just to be safe.

That decided, he followed the path through the short stretch of woods that he knew like the back of his hand, and spotted her sitting near the edge of the clearing. She looked over her shoulder, eying him warily as he approached.

He stopped beside her. “So. How many things are on this list of yours?”

She watched as he helped himself to a seat in the grass next to her. “Thirty-four.”

“Thirty-four? You can’t be serious.” Vaughn doubted any man could pass such a test.

Perhaps that was the point.

She sat up straighter, going on the defensive. “A few things are redundant, maybe, but overall it seems like a pretty solid list to me.”

Well, now he was curious. He beckoned with his hand. “All right, lay it on me. Let’s hear this list of so-called signs that say whether a man is ready for a commitment.”

She cocked her head, feigning confusion. “And remind me—why is it that I care what you think?”

He raised an eyebrow challengingly. “Afraid I’ll tell you the list is complete BS?”

She held his gaze defiantly, and then began ticking off her fingers. “He can’t be hung up on a prior relationship. Must be available on weekends. Settled in his career. On stable emotional footing with his parents. Have friends who are in committed relationships.” She paused, as if trying to remember the other things on her list.

Vaughn frowned. “I hope you’ve got more than that. Because you just described me.”

Her eyes widened, her expression akin to abject horror.

Then after a moment’s pause, she smiled. “Ah. But you fail the number one rule, the most important one of all: he tells you he’s not looking for a serious relationship.”

Vaughn exhaled. Thank god for the number one rule. Stupid test or not, he didn’t need to be giving off any signs of “commitment-readiness.” That was fine for other guys, but he enjoyed his life the way it was, thank you very much.

Sidney sighed in relief. “Whew. That freaked me out for a moment there.” She gestured at him. “I can’t be having any of your type sneaking in undetected.”

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