It Happened One Wedding Page 56

“Fine. Maybe you’re not anti-marriage in that sense. But this playing the field attitude of yours . . . is that the way it’s always been? Have you ever been in a serious relationship?”

“As a matter of fact, I have,” he said, taking a bite of his breadstick.

Sidney blinked. Wait—what? Then she raised a skeptical brow. “By ‘serious’ I don’t just mean that you actually called the same girl more than once.”

“Actually, Little Miss Snarky, I dated someone for over a year.”

Well, this was a surprise. “You did? When? What’s her name?”

“Six years ago, and her name is Cassidy,” he said.

“Why did you two break up?” Sidney gave him a withering look. “Do not say you cheated.”

“I don’t cheat. In fact, I like to think I’m honest to a fault with women.”

Sidney rolled her eyes—whatever—but let that one slide so she could get to the juicy stuff. “So, Cassidy. Tell me more.”

He shrugged. “We dated, we decided we wanted other things, and then we split up.”

“But ever since, you haven’t been in another serious relationship. Why is that?” She studied him, trying to figure out this puzzle. “Maybe . . . Cassidy broke your heart and you’ve never been able to recover, so you became this rakish man-about-town to hide your pain.”

He cocked his head in amusement. “Man-about-town? Do we still use that term?”

“We do when we’re trying to be polite and not say ‘man whore.’”

“Tell me how you really feel, Sinclair. Don’t hold back.”

“Come on,” she said, with a grin. “You’ve heard the story about my ex. Heck, I even told you the part about walking up the stairs with no shoes.”

“And I still say you should’ve chucked them at the ass**le.” Vaughn sat forward, resting his arms on the table. “All right, so here’s the story. When Cassidy and I dated, I was only a couple years into my career with the FBI. They assigned me to the squad that investigates violent crimes against children: kidnappings, sexual abuse, and online predators. It’s typical to assign guys like me to that area: meaning, guys who don’t have kids themselves. And, generally, they only keep you in that squad for a couple years because it gets to you.

“Don’t get me wrong. Out of my entire career, I’m most proud of the work I did on that squad. Whenever you tell someone you’re an FBI agent, they ask you about terrorism or organized crime or serial killers—but sometimes it’s the smaller cases, the ones that don’t get any media attention, that make you realize you really are making a difference in people’s lives. I once carried a seven-year-old girl out of a basement where her stepfather had locked her up and had been abusing her for nearly two years. That’s something I’ll never forget.”

He paused there. “But on the flip side, seeing that kind of stuff day in and day out is tough. It wears on you. About six months in, after seeing the sort of sick bastards that are out there, it got to the point where I didn’t think I’d ever want to bring kids into this world. Cassidy, however, really wanted a family. And since I wasn’t in a place to give her that, we decided to go our separate ways.”

Sidney sat there, not sure what to say for a moment. “I didn’t realize you’d done that kind of work with the FBI. I can see why that would scare you off of having kids. Wow.”

He nodded. “The good thing is, once they moved me to a different squad, and I got some distance from those cases, things eventually got back to normal. I started doing undercover work, and that’s been a really good fit for me.”

“That’s great.” And Sidney was glad to hear it. But . . . she was missing something. “And when things got back to normal, and you once again were in a position to have a committed relationship, you decided to keep playing the field because . . . ?”

“Because . . . I realized it’s fun to date lots and lots of women?”

She did a mental head-thunk. Of course that was his answer.

He held out his hands. “Look, I’m sorry if I don’t have some deeper, darker reason. I fell into this lifestyle because of my job, and then I realized I like it. What else can I say?”

She shook her head. “You know, I was with you as you were telling the FBI story. Hell, I even started to feel a little bad for the things I said at the coffee shop. And then—poof—we’re right back where we started.”

“You’re irritated with me again.”

Sidney thought about that for a moment. Then she sighed. “No, not irritated. You’re right—at least you’re honest. You’re a known commodity, Vaughn. I guess there is some merit in that.”

A long silence fell between them.

“So how did your date go yesterday?” he asked, changing the subject. “You never texted me back.”

Great. Another fun topic—her as-of-yet-fruitless quest to find Mr. Right. “You were right about High School Guy. As soon as I busted him on the ‘not dating anyone right now’ thing, the date went completely downhill.” She ran her hands through her hair and sighed. “Is it too late for me to realize that I’m a lesbian? Sure, I like penises, but I’m a smart girl—I could figure out what to do with the lady bits if need be.”

“As hot as it is to imagine you figuring out what to do with the ‘lady bits,’ I don’t think you need to worry. You’re the total package, Sidney: smart, gorgeous, successful . . . dy***ite in bed, too,” he added, with a knowing grin. “It’s not going to be long before some really lucky guy figures that out.”

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