It Happened One Wedding Page 47

Vaughn’s phone buzzed just then. He pulled the phone out of his suit jacket and saw that he had a text message from Isabelle, letting him know about the delay. “Thanks, but I’m good for now,” he said in response to Douglas’s drink offer. He tucked the phone back into his jacket. “Have you seen Isabelle’s sister, Sidney?”

“Not yet. You’re the first to arrive,” Douglas said.

Having seen the Mercedes, Vaughn knew that wasn’t the case. The Mysteriously Absent Miss Sidney Sinclair was here somewhere.

Douglas cocked his head, his tone softening. “Speaking of Sidney . . . how is she doing these days? I’ve thought about her a lot since, well, you know.”

Actually, Vaughn didn’t know all that much, although he’d gathered the gist of what had happened between Sidney and her ex. “She’s doing great,” he told Douglas. And he left it at that.

Then he looked around. “Maybe I’ll walk around for a bit while I’m waiting.”

“Of course.” Douglas pointed to their left, where the terrace wrapped around the ballroom. “I don’t know if you’re a golf man, but if you walk down the steps around the corner and follow the path to the left, you’ll come to a gazebo that has some nice views of our nine-hole course.”

Perhaps Sidney had decided to check out the view herself while they waited. “Thanks for the tip.” Vaughn followed Douglas’s directions and quickly found the path the events manager had referred to. The walkway led him away from the lake, to a wide green lawn not visible from the road and parking lot. The lawn sloped up, and at the top of the hill, nestled next to a weeping willow tree, was the gazebo. Spotting a splash of auburn red inside the white gazebo, he headed over.

Sidney had her back to him as she leaned against the gazebo’s railing, the sunlight playing with the copper and gold highlights of her hair. Vaughn slowed down as he approached. Part of his interest, admittedly, was because she wore killer red heels and another one of her summery dresses—this time, some red, yellow, and blue dress that looked both arty and New York chic with its blowsy top and short flare shirt. But he also paused because there was something about the way she looked out at the golf course that struck him as somber.

His footsteps were soft against the wood as he climbed the two steps into the gazebo. Sidney looked over her shoulder as he approached.

Vaughn joined her at the railing. “Are you hiding out here?” he asked bluntly.

She looked surprised. “No.” But after a moment she conceded. “Maybe a little. I got Isabelle’s message that they were running late, and I didn’t feel like hanging around inside.”

“Douglas the events manager asked about you. He wanted to know if you’re doing okay.”

“Did he say it like this?” She cocked her head in imitation. ‘How is Sidney doing?’” She smiled slightly. “I get that sort of thing a lot.”

Vaughn waited to see if she continued.

“You obviously know there’s a story,” she said.

“I do.”

“I suppose you expect me to tell it to you now.”

“Nope. No expectation.”

A long silence fell between them.

“Well . . . as long as you’re twisting my arm with all these questions, Agent Roberts,” she quipped. “Look, I think it’s inevitable that you’ll find out sometime before Simon and Isabelle’s wedding. I suppose I’d rather you hear the story straight from me.” She gestured to the mansion on their right. “I was supposed to get married here this past October. But I broke things off with my fiancé a month before the wedding.”

“Name?”

“Brody. And you’re not going to do your FBI interrogator thing through this whole story, are you? That kind of ruins the flow.”

He fought back a smile. “Sorry.”

“It was a Sunday, and I was at the bridal salon for my final dress fitting. The people who worked at the salon were making a big deal out of it, so they had me try on the shoes, and the veil, because it was all about creating the moment. They had me come out of the dressing room, to the three-way mirrors in the middle of the shop, and everyone was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the dress and the whole effect. But then this woman walked into the store.” Sidney paused at that part, remembering. “She stood there for a moment, staring at me in my dress, until she said, ‘You’re Sidney Sinclair, right?’ So I’m thinking maybe she’s one of my friends’ younger sisters, because I can’t place her but she seems to know me. So I said, ‘I’m sorry. Do we know each other?’ To which she replied, ‘You should know me. I’m the woman who’s been f**king your fiancé for the last three months.’”

“Sidney,” he said, his voice softer than usual.

“You’re doing the head-tilt.”

Right. He wanted to say that she didn’t need to be glib about this, but he sensed she needed to tell the story her own way. “So what did you do?”

“Well, seeing how we were standing in front of all the bridal salon employees, not to mention the other customers who’d gathered around for my big dress moment, there wasn’t much I could do. I excused myself and followed the woman outside the bridal shop. When we were standing on the street, I just looked at her and said, ‘All right. Let’s hear it, then.’” Sidney shrugged. “And she proceeded to tell me everything. How she and Brody met at the gym, the things he’d told her about me and about how he was freaking out about getting married, and all the ways they’d had sex—including in our apartment, in our bed, when I was traveling. Apparently, she’d been trying to convince Brody to break it off with me for some time. When he didn’t, she decided to follow me from our apartment to the bridal shop, thinking she could catch me alone and take care of things herself.”

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