It Happened One Wedding Page 48

She looked out at the golf course. “After hearing everything she said, I just . . . started walking. All the way home, twenty blocks. By the time I got to our apartment, I had blisters on my feet, so I took off the shoes to walk up the two flights of stairs. When I opened the front door, Brody was sitting on the couch, reading the Wall Street Journal like it was just a regular Sunday afternoon. His mouth fell open when he saw me standing there, barefoot and in my wedding dress. But then he smiled and said, ‘Isn’t this supposed to be bad luck?’”

“Please tell me you chucked the shoes right at the dickhead.”

That got a small smile out of her. “Believe me, I was tempted. But at that point, I was just done. So I simply told him to pack a suitcase and get out.”

There were lots of things Vaughn wanted to say in response to that story. But in the end, it boiled down to one thing. “Your ex is an ass**le.”

“Yep. And I’m the fool who somehow missed that.”

He cocked his head, thinking that was an interesting thing to say. “In the FBI, we have this mantra: ‘Trust but verify.’ It means always corroborate what someone is telling you, no matter how believable they seem.”

“‘Trust but verify.’ I like that,” she said. “Too bad I hadn’t heard that mantra three years ago.”

Vaughn turned to face her. “The point is, we’re trained professionals. Every agent brags about his instincts, his ability to read people and know when someone is lying. Yet, still, we get that corroboration whenever possible. Because we’re only human—sometimes, we put our faith in the wrong person. And you’re only human, too, Sidney.” He gave her a nudge. “Even if it kills you to admit it.”

“Just a little.” She cocked her head, studying him. “What’s going on? You’re suddenly being so . . . nice.”

“It’s really sweet, Sinclair, how you manage to say that with such surprise.”

She laughed. “Sorry.” Then her cell phone chimed from inside her purse. She checked it. “Isabelle says they’re pulling into the driveway now.”

 • • •

A FEW MINUTES later, the group was seated in the main ballroom, at a rectangular table that had been set up for the tasting. Vaughn sat on Sidney’s left, to her right was Douglas, the events manager.

On the opposite side of the table, Isabelle mulled over the appetizer options spread before them. “Okay, so far we’ve got the caprese cups, sage-and-sausage-stuffed mushrooms, mini crab cakes, and coconut shrimp—which means we need two more appetizers. What do you think about the bacon-wrapped scallops?” She turned to Simon, who sat next to her.

“If it was up to me, I’d wrap this entire dinner in bacon.” Simon looked at Vaughn. “Back me up here, best man.”

“Absolutely. Nothing says ‘party’ like cured meat.”

As the rest of the group chattered away, Sidney found herself tuning them out, their voices fading. Being here, in this room, brought back memories of her own tasting, for which she and Brody had flown in from New York. It had been a whirlwind of a weekend, and she’d noticed at the time that Brody had seemed somewhat stressed and anxious to get back home. He’d told her he was just overwhelmed at work, but knowing what she did now, she realized that he’d likely been hurrying to get back to her.

I’m the woman who’s been f**king your fiancé.

We did it in your shower, on your kitchen counter—in your bed, too.

“Sid, what do you think about the butternut squash croustades? Do you like those or the spring rolls better?”

But the best was the time we did it against the wall in the alley outside your apartment, while you were upstairs making dinner for him on his birthday.

“Sid?”

She blinked and saw everyone looking at her. “Sorry. I just was . . .” She took a breath, gathering herself. “I vote for the croustades.” Across the table, Isabelle looked at her with concern, and Sidney could also feel Vaughn’s eyes on her.

She ignored both of them.

“So? What’s next?” she asked, eagerly rubbing her hands together. “Salad course, right?”

Determined not to let any more unwelcome memories slip in, Sidney made sure she was on top of her game for the rest of the tasting—even remaining unfazed when there was an awkward moment during the entrée course.

“So that’s the beef tenderloin and the salmon for the meat-eaters, and the potato tikki cakes as a vegetarian alternative.” Douglas jotted down the selections. He smiled, pointing the pen between Isabelle and Sidney. “Funny, you two chose the exact same entrees.”

As soon as the words came out, he looked at Sidney with a chagrined expression. “I shouldn’t have said—”

“Great minds think alike,” Sidney said, cutting him off and tipping her wineglass to Isabelle.

Later, in the parking lot as they said their good-byes, Isabelle pulled Sidney aside. “I’m so sorry that was awkward for you, Sidney.” She looked contrite. “I shouldn’t have asked you to come.”

Sidney was a big girl—if she hadn’t wanted to come today, she would’ve simply said no. “How many times do you plan to get married, Isabelle?”

“Um . . . just once, I hope.”

“Exactly. And I don’t want to miss any of it.” With their father only tangentially involved in their lives, it was basically just the two of them—the way it had been for a long time.

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