It Happened One Wedding Page 84

Shaking his head, Huxley stepped closer and held out his hand, his tone serious. “Well done.”

For once, Vaughn didn’t respond with a quip or a joke. “Thanks, Seth.”

The other squad mates gathered around them, and the SOG team pulled up in their SUVs. “Nice job not getting yourself killed out there,” Romero said as he climbed out of the driver’s seat.

The comment, Vaughn knew, was intentionally flippant. After the intensity of the situation, they were all coming down from serious adrenaline highs. A little levity was needed right then.

Everyone hung around for a while, the camaraderie thick as the agents rehashed the event from different points of view. After the group finally dispersed, Vaughn stopped at the office to swap out the Hummer for his own car. He and Huxley parted ways in the parking lot of the FBI building.

“So you’re good?” Huxley asked.

“I’m good.” At this point, Vaughn just wanted to go home so he could unwind and process everything.

“Something like this happens, it kind of gets you thinking, doesn’t it?”

Vaughn smiled slightly. Not the subtlest of points, but that didn’t make it any less valid. “I’ll see you on Monday, Hux.”

 • • •

VAUGHN’S DRIVE HOME was short; it was after two A.M., and there was little traffic on the streets. He let himself into his loft and kept most of the lights off, except for one dim lamp on his nightstand.

He sat on the edge of the bed and slowly exhaled. In his head, he relived the events of the evening several times, and each time he kept coming back to the same thing. There’d been a moment, right as everyone was grabbing for their guns and pointing them at him, when he’d thought, This could be it.

And in that moment, he’d thought of Sidney.

It had been just a split-second image, a quick flash of her smiling as she tugged his tie at the restaurant. He’d held back at the time, trying to play it cool, but now all he could think was that he should’ve said . . . something. Something, that is, other than cheers to going out with another guy.

He was a f**king idiot.

He ran his hand through his hair, feeling more restless than ever. He slid off his suit jacket, wanting to get out of his undercover clothes, and then he realized he still had Mark Sullivan’s cell phone in the inside pocket. Remembering that he’d left his own phone on the counter earlier, he walked into the kitchen.

He turned on a light and picked up his phone, noticing that someone had left him a voice mail message.

Sidney.

He immediately hit play.

“Hi, it’s me. I was going to wait to say this tomorrow at the rehearsal, but I just . . . wanted to call. I got the purse from Ginny, and she told me what you did. Vaughn, that is the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for me. I’ve been thinking of you, and . . . I don’t know. I guess I wanted to say thank-you. Oh, and I heard you kicked ass in the triathlon and that you’re now planning to climb a mountain. Why does this not surprise me, Roberts?”

Vaughn smiled, his chest tightening as he listened to her voice.

“Anyway, thanks again for the purse—I can’t wait to show it to Isabelle. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow. Good night.”

The message ended after that. Vaughn set down his phone and stared at it for a long moment.

She should’ve been here with him.

After what undoubtedly qualified as a f**ked-up day at work, she was the one person he wanted to see. She was the one person he always wanted to see.

He knew then what he had to do. No more bullshit. No more playing it cool. Maybe he was about to go down in flames, maybe telling Sidney how he felt wouldn’t make any difference.

But there was only one way to find out.

Thirty-three

THE CLOCK WAS ticking. Twenty minutes into the one-hour time slot allotted for Isabelle and Simon’s wedding rehearsal, and they were still missing the groom, best man, and two bridesmaids.

Apparently Fate had decided to have a little fun with the opening festivities of the Sinclair-Roberts wedding.

“What are the odds?” Isabelle asked Sidney in disbelief, as they stood near the first row of pews inside the church. They waited with the other people in the wedding party who had made it on time. “Seriously, what are the odds that an airplane would make an emergency landing on Lake Shore Drive on the evening of my wedding rehearsal?”

Assuming this was a rhetorical question, Sidney kept her head down as she scrolled through the news reports on her phone—in part because she was interested in the story, and in part to hide her smile, which she guessed wouldn’t be particularly appreciated by the stressed-out bride-to-be right then. It was just one of those random, crazy things: a pilot flying a single-engine airplane had been forced to land in the middle of the lakefront expressway after a stabilizing part broke loose from the aircraft. The good news was, miraculously, no one had gotten hurt. The bad news was that everyone who’d been on the Drive at the time was slowly being funneled off onto side streets.

“It says here that the pilot timed his landing while traffic was stopped for a red light. How incredible is that?” Sidney looked up, caught her sister’s glare, and quickly amended that. “Incredible, but also not so convenient in this particular circumstance.”

Isabelle nervously checked her watch. “We only have until six o’clock before the next wedding party gets here.”

Because Fourth Presbyterian was such a popular wedding location, the church often booked up to three ceremonies on Saturdays—as was the case tomorrow. Sidney put her arm around her sister reassuringly. “And that group will have people who are running late, too. I’m sure, given the circumstances, the church will be accommodating.”

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