pointed between Vaughn and Sidney. “Have you two been together long?”
Sidney blinked, then gestured at Vaughn. “Him and me?” She laughed. “Oh, no. Noooo, no, no.”
Vaughn smiled at Lauren, nonplussed. “In case you missed it, that would be a no.”
“She noticed that the man at the table next to her, in his sixties, was watching her. Clearly, he’d
caught the show.
“Well, he asked for my opinion,” she said defensively.
“I’m just wondering what you’re going to do to the next guy who walks in,” the older man said.
“They’re gonna start taking them out of here in body bags.”
Probably it was high time she left this coffee shop.”
“Two-Minute Tyler got nixed two weeks ago,” she said.
Vaughn looked unmistakably pleased, hearing this. “Why?”
She slid her arms around his neck. “Because when he kissed me, I pictured you instead.”
“Well, I hope you soaked it up, Sinclair. Because that was the last first kiss you’ll ever have.” He
bent his head, his voice low and possessive. “All the rest are mine.”
“She shook her head. “I swear, Roberts, the more I learn about your gender, the more I think a sperm
donor, a good handyman, and a great vibrator is the better way to go.”
He let out a bark of laughter. “In defense of my gender, we’re not all dogs. As a matter of fact, I
happen to be friends and work with a lot of good guys.”
“Ooh. Anyone you can set me up with?”
He gave her a long, dark scowl.
She’d take that as a no.
“I just breeched the sex-buddy etiquette again, didn’t I?” she asked.
“You do realize that getting down on one knee generally refers to a proposal, right?” Sidney
continued. “A marriage proposal?”
His eyes, a warm green-gold, daringly held hers as he softly sang the next line of the song. “‘You
smiled . . . and then the spell was cast.’”
Okay, he pretty much just melted her heart right there.”
“(Vaughn said)"I'm serious. There was a speech and everything. She told me that I run around with my 'obviously healthy ego' and compared me to a kid in a candy store when it comes to women-trying to get my hands on as many 'shiny treats' as possible."
Cade's mouth twitched. "How dare she. That's just so..." He trailed off, as if thinking about how best to respond.
"Dead-on balls accurate," Huxley finished. The two of them began laughing.”
“He looked at her for another moment, then bent down on one knee.
Sidney’s heart leapt out of her chest. “Oh my God, what are you doing?”
“Um . . . getting eye-to-eye so we can talk,” he said, as if this were evident.
“Sidney gestured to the chair he’d just helped himself to. “What are you doing?”
He looked at her as if this was obvious. “Starting a conversation.”
“But I don’t even know you.”
“That’s why I’m starting a conversation. Let’s begin with the basics. Like your name.”
Ah, right. Sidney knew exactly what was happening here. This guy had seen her on her failed date,
had obviously deduced that she was single, and now thought she was easy pickings.
“I’m not giving you my name,” she said.
“All right, then. ‘Ms. Doe,’ it is,” he said, undeterred. “Why don’t you tell me a little about
yourself, Ms. Doe?”
“Simon pointed, too. “I remember now! You guys were huddled in that alcove when I came over to talk to Vaughn.”
“And that didn’t strike you as suspicious?” Isabelle asked him.
“Did you see me last night? I couldn’t even say ‘suspicious,’” Simon told her.”
“Still, the logical part of her realized that the hazel-eyed, dark-scruff iteration of This Guy who sat
across from her right then hadn’t actually done anything wrong to her. Because of that, she smiled in
an effort to be polite. “That’s nice of you to ask. But, unfortunately, I’m going to have to say no.”
“Great.” He nodded, as if expecting this very answer. Then his brow furrowed, and he cocked his
Sidney bit her lip to hold back a laugh. Ah . . . when she told this story later to Trish, the perplexed
look on this guy’s face would be the highlight.”
“Vaughn had his back to the entrance, so he turned around to look.
It was the cantankerous Ms. Doe.
Catching sight of him in that very same moment, she stopped dead in her tracks. Vaughn was pretty
sure she muttered Oh shit under her breath.
His sentiments exactly.”
“Maybe I could help with some of the wedding stuff, too.”
Sidney laughed, then saw Vaughn frown. “ Wait — you’re being serious?”
He shrugged. “Sure, why not?”
“No offense, but you don’t exactly exude a ‘wedding planning’ vibe.”
“And thank God for that. But I think I can manage a few tasks. How hard could it be to pick a photographer? Or a band? Just ask them if they plan to play ‘Y.M.C.A.’ or that annoying Kool and the Gang song. If they say no, they’re hired.”
“Kids, Roberts,” she said, just to be clear. “I have fertile eggs in me, and I’m talking about having
She waited for the eye twitch. Or hell, even a tiny twinge.
Instead, with a smile, he pulled her in for a kiss.”
“He took a step closer. “Think about it this way, Sidney. You have to walk down the aisle next to me
at this wedding. We’ll be in numerous photos together—photos that the entire Sinclair family will
look at for years to come. If my job as a groomsman is to complement you, do you really want to put
your faith in whatever I might come up with?”
She considered this for a moment.
“Let me just grab my purse.”
“Interesting. You were able to determine ‘my type’ in the all of five minutes we’ve been talking?”
Now he was pushing her buttons a bit. “Yes.”
“That’s impressive. See, it’s my job to size people up. So I’m intrigued to hear if you’re as good as
you obviously think you are.”
Sidney threw him a look. “Honey, you know exactly what your type is. And so does every single
woman in her thirties.”
“I see.” He leaned back in his chair and beckoned with this hand. “Now I really need to hear this.”
“He moved his arm so that she could rest against his chest. “All the time. The FBI loves
overwhelming people with manpower and firepower.”
“Good.” In her drowsy state, this suddenly was very important to her, knowing that he was as safe
as possible while doing his extraspecial agent thing.
Her eyes felt heavy, so she decided to shut them for just a teeny tiny moment. The last thing she
remembered was feeling Vaughn’s fingers stroking up and down on her arm in a light, soothing caress.”
“Something felt different between them as she led him to the bed. Instead of the impatient need to
have her naked that he’d always felt before, tonight he took his time undressing her. He noticed little
things he hadn’t before, like the scattering of freckles across the top of her shoulders, which he kissed
as he slid the straps of her bra down her arms.
Under the covers, his hands and mouth moved slowly over her. By now, he knew what she liked,
knew all the things that had her moaning his name softly in the darkness, and when he finally eased
into her, he kept his lower body still for several moments as they kissed, wanting to simply savor the
feeling of being inside her.
And in that moment, he was pretty sure that nothing else had ever felt quite so right.”
“Then his look turned more familiar. “You look incredible
She felt herself go warm at the compliment. “Thanks. We had a spa day earlier that included hair
and makeup. I’m not sure about the lipstick, though. Too red?”
Belatedly, she realized that this question brought his attention to her mouth.
His eyes lingered as he gazed down at her lips. “I like the red.”
“She didn’t know what to make of the fact that Vaughn had gone through such efforts for her. Part of
her was tempted to call him right then, but she was confused and trying not to read too much into the
situation, and feeling very uncertain about a lot of things. But Ginny’s visit definitely had made one
thing clear, something Sidney could no longer deny, no matter how hard she tried.
She missed him.”
“Kathleen laughed at the joke, and then turned around to get something out of the refrigerator.
Sidney grabbed the second tomato and saw Vaughn watching her.
She glared. What?
His hazel eyes crinkled at the corners as he kept right on looking.
Her scowl deepened. Go away.
Clearly, the man lived to annoy her.”
“That’s the second time you called me ‘honey.’ I can’t decide if I like it or if
I’m starting to feel objectified,” he teased.
She sighed. “I seriously don’t think I can walk down an aisle with you.”
His voice dipped lower, a slow drawl. “Careful, Sinclair. Those are very heady words to a guy like
She left him standing there, by himself, at the base of the steps.
With a grin, he turned and watched her go. Yep, still cantankerous.
But that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy the view from behind.”
“The words were quintessential snarky Sidney Sinclair, but the husky tone of her voice was
something new. Something that drew him in even more. “I think you’re worried that if I kiss you right
now, you might actually like it.”
Her eyes flashed—with anger, no doubt, but also with a heat that came from somewhere else.
And before Vaughn even thought about what he was doing, he kissed her.”
“He shook off the thoughts—that wasn’t anything he needed to worry about tonight. Any second
now, he was going to hear the chime of a new text message, the chime that signaled the demise of rich,
I-last-during-sex Tyler Roland, Attorney-at-Law.
Vaughn picked up his phone to check that it had a signal.
Yep, any second now.”
“The group laughed, and Sidney’s eyes met Vaughn’s as he walked up the aisle alongside his
brother. She found herself momentarily holding her breath.
Then he looked away when Isabelle walked up to greet him and Simon.
Sidney exhaled and turned back around, when she saw Kathleen studying her.
“Does he know?” Kathleen asked softly.
Sidney opened her mouth to protest—but before she could say a word, Corinne, the wedding
planner, clapped her hands.
“All right, people. We’ve got a bride, a groom, and a pastor. Anyone who isn’t here can get the
CliffsNotes later. Let’s get this rehearsal started,” Corinne said.”
“An FBI agent, huh?" Trish's expression turned sly. "Is he foxy?"
"That whole story, about the strange coincidence, and my glorious Speech of Many Insults, and the fact that I'm going to be stuck running into this dude forever, and that's your first question? 'Is he foxy?'" Sidney shook her head. "Trishelle..on behalf of womankind, I was expecting a more enlightened discourse."
Trish simply waited.
"Totally foxy," Sidney said. "When he walked up to my table, my first thought was Criminy. Unfortunately, then he spoke."
Trish threw her arm around Sidney. "Somewhere out there, waiting for you, is the total package. A Criminy guy who's just looking for his Ms. Right to settle down with.”
“When he didn’t move away, Sidney lowered her voice. “What are you doing?” Her sister and his
brother were standing close by. Yet here he was, quite obviously leaning in toward her.
He seemed amused by her question. “You’re always asking me that. I’m starting a conversation.
Again.” He winked.
Okay . . . “And how much have you had to drink tonight, Agent Roberts?”
He laughed as if this was the funniest thing, and touched her chin. “Always busting my balls,
“This had been how Sidney’s last three hours had gone—trapped in a leather-interior hellhole with the crazy pregnant lady. She hoped the menfolk were having a nice, relaxing road trip in that souped-up man car they were riding in because as soon as they got to the Robertses’ house, she was pawning the woman formerly known as her sister onto the dude whose sperm had apparently turned her into a she-devil.”
“You're thirty-four or thirty-five, gainfully employed, never been married. You think maybe you'll settle down one day, perhaps when you're forty, but for now, you work hard at your job, so you want to play hard, too. You tend to skew more toward dating women in their mid-twenties, because women in their early twenties seem just a little too young and women in their thirties frustrate you with the way they all want to talk about marriage and kids by the third date. You'll go out with a girl a few times, you'll have a lot of fun together, and when she starts pushing for something more serious, you'll move on to something else, wondering why it is that women can't be content to just 'date' without needing a commitment. And why would you want to commit to one person right now? For men as attractive as you, this city is one big candy store, filled with so many shiny treats, you couldn't possibly choose just one. So instead, you run around with your obviously healthy ego, sampling as many of the goods as you can get your hands on--simply because you can.”
“AFTER LETTING VAUGHN inside, Sidney excused herself to change out of her dress and heels. Sadly,
she did not invite him upstairs to join her.
So instead, Vaughn settled for watching the sway of her hips as she walked up the steps. Sometimes
he didn’t know whether he was coming or going with this woman. In the car, he’d thought there’d
been a little flirtation going on between them, but for all he knew “fingers sandwiches and minicakes”
really meant . . . finger sandwiches and minicakes.”
“Then she blinked, because his eyes were the wrong color—blue instead of hazel.
And she realized, in that moment when she’d said screw it to her hesitations and trepidations and
had let her heart lead the way, she’d imagined herself kissing Vaughn.
“Oh, boy,” she said, with a ragged, panicky exhale.
“I know. I felt that, too,” Tyler said.
She was officially screwed.”
“At that time Math son of Mathonwy could not live unless his feet were in the lap of a virgin, except when the turmoil of war prevented him.”
“I have learned that I am enough...
I have learned that no one else can
LOVE ME - FOR ME.”
“Society prepares the crime; the criminal only commits it.”
“Every man is a king so long as he has someone to look down on.”
“He died fighting for what he believed in.”
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