It Happened One Wedding Page 79

“So. This thing with Sidney,” he led in.

Christ. Vaughn shook his head. “I knew it.”

Simon tapped his finger emphatically on the bar. “Hey, I’m your brother. Something’s obviously been bothering you these past couple weeks, so we’re going to talk about it. That’s what we do.”

“Oh, right. That’s what we do.” Vaughn feigned confusion. “Remind me—how long did it take you to tell me Isabelle was pregnant?”

“Okay, that’s what we do now.” Simon studied him, as if debating where to begin. “I saw the way you were looking at Sidney that night at Rosebud, when we had dinner with Mom and Dad.”

Vaughn simply took a sip of his beer.

“See, it’s called a dialogue. That means you speak, too,” Simon explained.

Vaughn merely gave him a look.

“Well, I don’t know about you, but I think this is great brotherly heart-to-heart,” Simon said.

Knowing that his brother wasn’t going to give in, Vaughn finally acquiesced. “What do you want me to say? That I’ve been thinking about Sidney? Tell me something: what would be the point in admitting that?” He gestured with his beer bottle. “She’s dating that Tyler guy now.”

“Speaking of that, she came over to Isabelle’s the other day to talk. They banished me to the living room, but when I walked by the bedroom to get something out of the office, I caught a few words.”

“I don’t want to know,” Vaughn said.

Simon gave him a knowing side-eye.

“All right,” Vaughn acquiesced. “What’d you hear?”

“I heard Sidney say that she kissed him.”

Vaughn said nothing at first, then turned back to his beer. “Well, now I feel so much better. Thanks for the pep talk, bro. We really should do this more often.”

“So that’s it? You’re going to just give up?” Simon snorted. “That’s a real bad-ass move.”

Now that got Vaughn a little worked up. “Hold on—I think you skipped about five steps in the dialogue here. Take this Tyler guy out of the equation for a minute. By saying I’m ‘giving up,’ you’re assuming that I want to pursue a relationship with Sidney. And there’s one problem with that—I like my life. It’s easy, it’s fun, and I don’t have to deal with any of this . . . confusion and this . . . restlessness and this pit in my stomach every time I think about her being with another guy. ‘Cuz let me tell you something I’ve figured out about those feelings: they suck.”

He saw Simon open his mouth, and held up his hand. “Nope, not finished. You wanted me to share, so that’s what I’m doing. And let me share something else. If we take the Tyler guy out of the equation, and we assume—hypothetically—that I’d want to give up my nice, easy, fun life for the confusion and the restlessness and the suck, we still have the small problem that Sidney doesn’t want to be with me.”

“You don’t know that,” Simon said.

“I heard her say it pretty clearly when you and I were standing outside her window.”

“What she said was that she was smart enough not to fall for a guy like you.”

Vaughn held out his hands. Hello? “Exactly.”

“Then maybe what you need to do is convince her that you aren’t you anymore.”

Vaughn leaned in. “And if I’m not me, then who am I supposed to be?” he quipped dryly.

Simon stared him in the eyes. “The man she deserves.”

He gave Vaughn a pointed look before turning back to his beer. “You can throw out all the hypotheticals you want. But in the end, I think it comes down to this: do you want to be that man?”

He took a long sip from his bottle, leaving Vaughn to contemplate exactly that.

 • • •

WHEN VAUGHN GOT back to his loft, he stretched out on the sectional and leaned his head against the cushions. He had Simon’s words ringing in his head, and the exertion of the race was finally catching up with him. He closed his eyes, just wanting a few minutes where he didn’t have to think.

He woke up to the sound of his cell phone ringing.

He reached over and grabbed the phone off the coffee table, noticing that he’d been asleep for a couple of hours. He didn’t recognize the incoming phone number.

“Hello,” he answered, his voice gritty.

“Is this Special Agent Vaughn Roberts?” asked a female voice.

“It is.” Vaughn sat up, trying to shake off his grogginess as the woman identified herself. It took him a moment to place the name. “Oh, right. I was wondering whether you got my message.”

“I apologize for the delay in getting back to you,” she said. “My husband and I were on vacation last week. We just got back into town this afternoon.”

“It’s not a problem. I realize this is a long shot, anyway,” he said.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have what you’re looking for—but I think I know someone who might. That is, assuming you’re still interested. I know it’s been almost a week since you called.”

This was one thing, at least, Vaughn didn’t have to think about.

“I’m still interested. Very much so.”

Thirty

LATE WEDNESDAY MORNING, Sidney had a video conference call with the customer analytics firm she’d brought on board to help her with the Vitamin Boutique expansion.

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