It Happened One Wedding Page 76

The bartender came by to ask if she wanted anything to drink, and she ordered a glass of cabernet.

“I’ve been meaning to ask,” she said, turning back to Vaughn. “What’s the ‘other you’ been up to these days? I see you still have the scruff.”

Let’s just say I woke up with scruff burn in some very interesting places.

“The ‘other me’ has had a busy week. Just had a big meeting last night,” he said.

“Everything go okay?”

“Yep.”

“Ever been on a case where everything didn’t go okay?” she asked.

“Actually, yes. Two years ago, I was working undercover as a gun buyer, and I drove this flashy Cadillac Escalade. I parked it in a garage and, randomly, some ass**le stole it while I was meeting with the suspects.”

“No way.” She started laughing again. “What did you do?”

“I had to call a cab to drive me back to the FBI office.” He held out his hands when she laughed harder. “Well, I couldn’t have my backup team give me a ride, in case anyone was watching the garage.” He shook his head, smiling ruefully at the memory. “Believe me—I caught shit for that one for a long time.”

“I bet.” Her eyes sparkling, she took a sip of her wine.

Vaughn was very aware that everyone else was going to show up at any moment, and there was something he wanted to know. “So, I haven’t seen you since your date with the ‘two-minutes’ guy.” He feigned cluelessness. “What was his name again?”

“Tyler.”

“That’s it. How did things go with you two?”

She looked at him, and at first he thought she wasn’t going to answer. “The date went really well.” She smiled. “No Man-Speak. He seems like a good guy. I’m seeing him again tomorrow, in fact. We were going to have dinner earlier this week, but he had to go out of town to cover some depositions for another lawyer at his firm. If all goes well tomorrow, I’m thinking I’ll probably ask him to go to the wedding.” She wiped her brow jokingly. “Phew. With only two weeks left, I was starting to cut it close there.”

Vaughn sat there for a moment, feeling a pang of something sharp in his chest. But then he shoved the feelings down deep, blocking them out and putting them in a place where he could pretend they didn’t even exist.

Well, that was just . . . great. Sidney had been wanting to meet her Mr. Right, and now perhaps she finally had. She and Vaughn had become friends over the past couple months, and as her friend, he knew this was a good development for her. Of course he wanted her to be happy.

In fact, looking into those blue-green eyes and seeing her smile right then, he realized he wanted that more than anything.

So he raised his glass in toast. And if the words tasted a little bitter coming out, he ignored that, too. “Well, cheers to that,” he said smoothly. “You have found that most mythical of creatures in the urban dating jungle: the single, normal, commitment-ready, thirtysomething man. The checklist has prevailed.”

He held out his glass. She paused, then clinked her glass to his. “To the checklist.”

“Ooh . . . what are we toasting to?” said a familiar female voice.

Vaughn turned and saw Isabelle heading over to the bar, with Simon in tow.

“It’s nothing,” Sidney said quickly. She got off the barstool and hugged her sister in greeting.

His parents arrived shortly behind them, his mother giving both Sidney and Isabelle a warm hug. The hostess showed the six of them to their table, and the mood quickly became like their previous dinner together at his parents’ house, everyone laughing, lots of cross-conversations. Vaughn sat across from Sidney, and from time to time he felt a tightening in his chest, watching her laugh with his parents or joke around with Simon, but he never once faltered in his charming, I’m-just-a-good-time-guy demeanor, the role he’d been in for the last several years, the role that was his comfort zone.

And when dinner was over, and everyone was saying their good-byes, he acted as though he didn’t notice when Isabelle pulled Sidney off to the side.

“Call me Sunday morning and let me know how your date went,” Isabelle said in a low voice. “If it goes well, I want to meet this guy.” She winked at Sidney, then turned back to rejoin the rest of the group.

While Vaughn did a bang-up job of pretending not to watch as Sidney walked away.

 • • •

ON SATURDAY NIGHT, Tyler walked Sidney back to her townhome. They’d had a nice, enjoyable dinner at Le Colonial, a French Vietnamese restaurant just a few blocks from her place. It had been her turn to pick the restaurant, and she’d deliberately chosen Le Colonial for its exotic, romantic décor. They’d even scored an outdoor table on the mezzanine level, with a view of the bustling street below. There’d been good conversation, good wine, and great food—all the makings of a perfect second date.

And it had been perfect. Well, mostly. Sure, Sidney still had that nagging, hesitant feeling, but she assumed that was simply because this was her first second date since her breakup with Brody. Of course she had trepidations; the last time she’d started down this road she’d been cheated on and had ended up with a broken heart. A few cautionary jitters were to be expected.

“I really liked that restaurant. Good choice,” Tyler said, taking her hand as they walked along the sidewalk.

Oh. They were holding hands now. Because that was what people did on a date. “I’ve never had a lychee mimosa before,” Sidney said. “It was different—in a good way.”

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