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

By´╝ÜJulie James

o this guy, apparently.

Better him than anyone else, she figured. It wasn't as though she was ever going to see him again.

He rested his arms on the table. "Well. On behalf of the male population, let me be the first to apologize for whatever he did."

Sidney's eyes narrowed. He was being sarcastic-fair enough, given what she'd just said to him. But that hit a little too close to home. "We're done here, right?"

"I'd say so." He got up from his chair. "Enjoy your coffee, Ms. Doe." He walked out of the café without further word.

Sidney took a deep breath, shaking it off. She was meeting her sister, Isabelle, and her sister's boyfriend in a couple minutes and didn't want to show up for dinner in a crummy mood.

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

SO, APPARENTLY, THAT was a no from Ms. Doe.

Vaughn cut across the street, dodging around a taxi in the intersection while trying to dislodge the self-righteous speech that was stuck in his head like an annoying earworm.

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.

Well, in a nutshell . . . yes.

He didn't deny it; he liked to have fun. He had a healthy dating life, he was free to go out with different women and have a good time, and he didn't see why he should feel guilty about any of that. There wasn't some big angsty reason he avoided commitment, he simply enjoyed his life as it was. He was a single man with a good job living in a vibrant city teeming with interesting people, a variety of things to do and see, new restaurants and bars to try. He didn't knock anyone else for wanting to settle down, but he, personally, didn't feel a compulsion to do so at this particular point in his life. Maybe when he was forty.

He could practically hear the snarky Ms. Doe smugly shouting I knew it! in his head.

Indeed, she'd pretty much described him to a tee-something that undoubtedly would have impressed him more if she hadn't been such a pill about it. He felt a little guilty about the sarcastic comment he'd made, but this was substantially mitigated by the fact that she'd so obviously relished busting his balls first. Not the way things typically went when he hit on a woman-not to toot his own horn, but women really dug the FBI thing-but, oh well. It wasn't like he was ever going to see her again.

Most thankfully.

Vaughn caught sight of The Boarding House, the restaurant where he was meeting Simon and Isabelle, and pushed all thoughts of the cantankerous Ms. Doe from his mind. Although he'd been to the bar several times, which was known for its massive chandelier made out of nine thousand wineglasses, he'd never eaten in the main dining room on the third floor. The space, he saw, had been designed with exposed beams, hardwood floors, large bay windows, and what appeared to be thousands of wine bottles artfully installed in the ceiling.

He saw Simon seated at a booth by one of the windows next to a pretty woman in her mid-to-late twenties with strawberry blond hair.

So this was the mysterious Isabelle.

He headed over to their table. Simon stood up, gripped his shoulder in hello, and immediately made the introductions.

"Isabelle, this is my brother, Vaughn. Vaughn . . . this is Isabelle."

"It's a pleasure, Isabelle," Vaughn said warmly, while shaking her hand. This was obviously a big deal for Simon, so he planned to be on his best behavior. Which meant he'd save all embarrassing anecdotes about his brother at least until the main course.

"It's nice to meet you," she said. "Simon's told me so much about you."

"I had to edit a few of the stories, but she gets the gist," Simon teased.

Chuckling, Vaughn sat down. He noticed the seat next to him had a place setting.




"Isabelle's sister is coming tonight, too," Simon explained.

"Meeting both families?" Vaughn raised an eyebrow. "This is getting serious."

"Actually, Simon has already met Sidney," Isabelle said. "But we thought it would be nice to have dinner with both of you tonight."

Vaughn thought that seemed a little . . . interesting. Perhaps something was up? "The more the merrier." He took a sip of water, checking out Simon's big goofy smile over the top of his glass.

Something was up, all right.

"Ah, perfect timing. There's Sidney now." Isabelle waved excitedly at someone across the restaurant.

Vaughn had his back to the entrance, so he turned around to look.

No.

Fucking.

Way.

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.

Sidney quickly recovered and headed over.

Isabelle got up from the table and hugged her. "I'm so glad you're here." She turned to Vaughn. "This is Simon's brother, Vaughn. Vaughn, my sister, Sidney."

Vaughn stood up and held out his hand. Given the circumstances, he had no intention of indicating that they'd previously met. "Nice to meet you, Sidney."

Locking eyes with him, she seemed to be on the same page. She slid her hand into his. "You, too."

"Sid," Simon said, as if they were old friends. He came around the table and pulled her in for a big hug.

Then they all took their seats, Vaughn next to Sidney. He folded his hands on the table. Well, isn't this cozy?

Isabelle looked at Simon. He shrugged, still with the goofy smile. She turned back to Sidney

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