It Happened One Wedding Page 71

He reached up and twisted again, harder—Sidney was satisfied to see that even Captain America here had to put some effort into the task—and then it popped off.

“Thank. God.” She hurried into her bedroom and grabbed one of the new 9V batteries off her dresser. She handed it to Vaughn, who changed it out for the old battery, twisted the casing back on, and then climbed down the ladder.

“That should do it, but I’ll stick around to make sure,” he said. “We might as well do the downstairs smoke detector, too. Who knows the last time the previous owners changed it.”

He grabbed her stepladder and carried it downstairs, providing Sidney a nice opportunity to admire the way his tall, leanly muscular frame filled out his suit. It wasn’t even that well-cut of a suit—mmm, the things she could do with this man in the men’s department at Barneys—but it didn’t matter. Knowing what was underneath the clothes, and just seeing him be so . . . capable, was enough to have her giving him a long once-over.

Downstairs, they discovered that the smoke detector there was sealed with paint, too. With a hard twist, Vaughn got it open.

“I was planning to order a pizza tonight,” Sidney said, while throwing away the old batteries. “If you don’t have any plans, you’re welcome to stay—my treat as a thank-you.” She smiled innocently. “I even promise to keep my hands to myself if you’re worried about your seven-day rule.”

“I’ve realized the seven-day rule is superfluous with you,” he said, sounding wry.

She wasn’t sure what to make of that answer. “So that’s a . . . yes?”

“As long as you don’t mind me getting comfortable. Long day at work.” He took off his jacket and threw it over the back of one of her counter stools, yanked off his tie, and then loosened the buttons at his neck.

Keep going.

Sidney cleared her throat. “What do you like on your pizza?”

She placed their order and then opened a bottle of chianti. “You said you had a long day at work? How so?” She poured them each a glass.

“Huxley and I picked up a new investigation. We have to move fast with this one, so there was a lot of hustling to make sure everything is set.”

“You can work undercover in two different cases at the same time?”

As they moved into the living room, he explained that his partner would be handling the undercover work this time. That led to an amusing story about how Huxley and his fiancée, also a special agent, had first gotten together after pretending to be a couple during a sting operation that had taken place at a restaurant.

He took a seat on the couch and set his wineglass on the table. “What are these?”

“Oh. My parents’ wedding albums.” She’d forgotten she’d left them out. “I was planning to look through them tonight. I’ve been thinking about what to do for Isabelle’s ‘something old.’ You know, because brides are supposed to have ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.’ I thought it would be nice if she could have something that our mother wore on her wedding day. Unfortunately, I found out this week that one of my father’s ex-wives pitched all my mom’s wedding things. Supposedly, it was an accident—I guess with the high turnover of wives in that house, something was bound to get lost in the shuffle.” She shook her head in both frustration and disappointment. Then she managed a half-smile at Vaughn. “I’m just a little ticked off about that, if you can’t tell.”

“Understandably so.”

She sighed. “Anyway . . . now I’m thinking that I’ll put an old photo of our mom in a locket, and Isabelle can wear that instead. Or carry it in her purse.” She shrugged. “It’s not the best idea, but it’s all I could come up with.”

“I’m sure your sister will think it’s great.” Vaughn pointed to the albums. “Can I take a look?”

The question surprised her. “Of course.”

He picked up one of the albums and leaned back against the couch. Sidney scooted closer to him as he opened it to the first page, a photograph of her mother standing in front of a window while looking down at her bouquet.

Sidney smiled nostalgically. “I used to look at these albums all the time when I was younger, but I haven’t seen them for years.”

Vaughn turned the page to a candid shot of her mother laughing with one of her bridesmaids. “You’re right. Isabelle does look a lot like her. But you have her smile.” He pointed. “I can practically hear her making some dry quip to this woman here as the photographer snapped the shot.”

“That was her best friend, Ginny Gastel,” Sidney said. “And you’re probably right. I remember her and my mother laughing a lot whenever they were together.”

Vaughn turned the page to a photograph of Sidney’s father lined up with his groomsmen. He grinned at the sight of the men dressed in ’70s gray tuxedoes with ruffled shirts. “Looking slick, Mr. Sinclair.”

“Now that outfit I could handle being accidentally misplaced,” Sidney said.

Vaughn pointed to the photo on the next page. “I’m guessing these are your grandparents? Will I be meeting any of them at the wedding?”

They went through both albums, with Sidney next to him on the couch, legs tucked underneath her. The pizza came just as they were winding down, and they decided to eat in the living room while watching some action movie that made Vaughn roll his eyes at the portrayal of the FBI characters.

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