It Happened One Wedding Page 75

He thought of the comment he’d made to Sidney the last time he’d seen her. The FBI loves overwhelming people with manpower and firepower.

An image of her popped into his head, curled against him on her couch. Not wanting to go there, he shoved the memory aside and focused on the task at hand.

“That’s one of the things I miss most about being in the field and working undercover in these corruption cases,” Nick said. “That ‘Oh, shit,’ look on these ass**les’ faces when you show up on their doorstep with your FBI badge.”

No disagreement there. “Speaking of working undercover, there’s something else I wanted to discuss,” Vaughn said. “With these public corruption cases being a top priority, things are getting busy in my squad. In order to manage the caseload, I think it would be helpful to have another agent who’s been to undercover school.”

Nick considered this. “Do you have anyone in mind?”

“I recommend sending Huxley.” Vaughn saw his boss’s look of surprise and acknowledged this with a nod. “I know. Two years ago, if you’d told me we’d be having this conversation, I never would’ve believed it. But Huxley’s really come into his own these past couple years. He’s thorough, decisive, ridiculously organized, and he gets the job done every time. Just last week, he needed to go undercover with barely any notice, and I was really impressed with the way he handled that.”

Nick rocked back in his chair. “All right. I’ll take your recommendation under advisement. If I decide to go forward with this, the first step would be for me to talk to Huxley and see if this is even something he wants to do.”

“One thing: when you talk to him, don’t tell him the thing I said about being impressed. I’ll never hear the end of it.”

The SAC chuckled. “Understood.” Then he looked Vaughn over with sharp green eyes, taking in his navy pinstripe suit, new silk tie, and light-blue shirt—which, for once, was buttoned all the way. “You’re looking spiffier than usual. Big plans tonight?”

“My parents are in town and we’re having dinner.” Vaughn rubbed his jaw. “My mom’s not exactly thrilled with the scruff. I figured I’d tried to appease her by at least wearing a good suit.”

Obviously, that was the only reason he’d gotten all dressed up for this dinner.

Or so he kept telling himself.

 • • •

VAUGHN WAS THE first to arrive at Rosebud Steakhouse, the one restaurant at which his father insisted upon eating every time he visited Chicago. His parents were in town to run some errands—apparently his mother was going shoe shopping with Isabelle to find a pair that matched the dress she planned to wear at the wedding—and they’d driven in today so they could get an early start in the morning. Naturally they’d wanted to have dinner with him, Simon, and Isabelle.

And they’d invited Sidney to join them, too.

It would be Vaughn’s first time having any contact with her since her date with Tyler, the night he’d stayed up far later than he would ever admit while waiting for a text message that had never come.

But that was cool. Sure, he was a little disappointed that he was losing out on some really hot sex, and, fine, maybe he also missed just . . . talking to her, but they’d both known the score. Of course, he knew the score. So when Sidney walked into the restaurant tonight, he was going to smile and be his usual friendly, smooth self because that was what he did. And this funk or whatever he’d been in for the last week could just f**k off and go find some emo, angsty guy to plague—because it was starting to seriously cramp his style.

That decided, he ordered a drink at the bar and took a seat. His parents had called to say they’d hit some traffic on the highway, so they were running a few minutes late. Sidney was the first to arrive. Dressed for work, she walked in wearing a sleek black pantsuit and had her hair pulled back in a sophisticated twist.

Eh. She looked . . . all right, he supposed.

Nice try, ass**le.

Spotting him at the bar, she headed over. “Hey, you.”

“Miss Sinclair,” he said charmingly, totally on his game. But then he noticed something. “What’s wrong?” He could see it in her eyes; something was bothering her.

She took a deep breath, waving this off as she took the seat next to him at the bar. “It’s nothing. I just picked up the locket I ordered to hold the photograph of my mother for Isabelle’s ‘something old.’ It’s nice, but it’s not the same thing as having something that actually belonged to my mom. I still can’t believe all of her wedding stuff got thrown away.” She sighed, then shook it off. “Anyway . . . how are you?” She looked at him and smiled. “Hey, you took my advice about the skinnier tie.” She reached up and tugged it playfully. “It looks good.”

Vaughn looked down into her teasing eyes, thinking that it was just . . . really good to see her again. “Thanks,” he said huskily. Then, clearing his throat, he added in a more glib tone, “You should probably soak it in while you can, because this is as stylish as I get.”

“No pocket square for you?”

“Not even if I was standing buck naked in the middle of Wrigley Field on a sold-out game day and someone threw me one from the crowd to cover my junk.”

She laughed hard at that. “So that’s a no, then?”

He smiled. “That’s a no.”

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