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It Happened One Wedding (FBI.US Attorney #5)

By´╝ÜJulie James

ortunately, I have a dinner I need to get to."

He surprised her then.

His expression turned more earnest. "Okay, look. Maybe I'm coming on a little strong here. Normally I would've thought up some witty opening line, followed by this whole cute pickup routine in which I charm and impress you-yes, I see the skeptical look there, but you'll have to trust me on this: it's quality stuff. But like you, I have somewhere I need to be. So I'm under the gun.

"The simple truth is, you've had me intrigued from the moment you walked into this coffee shop. And I'd like to know more. You don't have to give me your number or even your name. Just meet me here tomorrow, same time. I'll buy you a cup of coffee, we'll talk, and then you can decide whether I really am the asshole you're thinking I might be." A smile curled at the edges of his mouth. "I might actually surprise you on that front."

Confident, flirty, and drop-dead gorgeous. It was a lethal combination that Sidney had no doubt typically played very well for this guy. She could easily say Why not?, meet him again tomorrow, and if he was as cocky as she thought he might be, that would be the end of that. She'd get a free cup of coffee out of it and the cheap thrill of having a guy who looked like him chasing after her.

But.

The problem was, she knew this guy. She'd dated this guy. Hell, she'd been engaged to this guy. Manhattan was crawling with guys just like him: confident, good-looking, and slick as all get-out. And she was plenty familiar with the way things would turn out because she'd once gone down this exact road with Brody: this guy wouldn't actually be an asshole tomorrow, instead he would be smooth and smart and witty, and coffee would turn into drinks and drinks into dinner, and she would have flutters of excitement in her stomach throughout every moment of it. Blah, blah, blah.

She was so over this guy.

Because, in truth, any woman who allowed herself to be swept up in the romantic fantasy of dating this kind of guy would be ignoring one crucial fact.

This guy was a bad investment.

And she knew that better than anyone.

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 head. "Wait-what?"

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.

"I'm afraid I have to pass on meeting you tomorrow," she explained.

His confused expression turned to one of understanding. "Oh, sure. Because you have other plans, right?"

She shook her head. "Not really. It's more just a flat-out no."

"Huh." He folded his arms over his chest, taking a moment to think that over. "I have to say, I was expecting a different answer."

Yes, she got that.

"Can I ask why?" he said.

"I just don't think you're my type," she said, for simplicity's sake.

"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."

Logically, Sidney knew this was not the kind of conversation one should have with a perfect stranger in a coffee shop. First of all, there was no point. Second, she had places to be, and allegedly so did he.

But his eyes dared her.

Despite her better judgment, she felt a spike of adrenaline course through her, a rush to rise to his challenge. Back when she'd first started working as an investment banker in Manhattan, she'd known plenty of men who'd assumed they could intimidate her with tactics just like these.





They'd assumed wrong.

So she, too, sat back in her chair and got comfortable. She'd tried to be as diplomatic as possible in her rejection, but, hey, if this guy insisted on answers, then answers he would get.

"All right." Her eyes raked over him in assessment. "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 midtwenties, 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 then when she starts pushing for something more serious, you'll move on to someone 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."

When finished, Sidney took a deep breath and felt strangely . . . good. For the last six months, she'd been so determined to move forward after her breakup with Brody, and to keep a stiff upper lip around her friends, family, and work colleagues, that she'd barely vented at all to anyone. So it felt great to finally express her frustration.

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