Mom,” Vaughn said. “I’m sure Sidney doesn’t want to be interrogated about her personal life.”
Deep down, Sidney knew that Vaughn—who’d obviously deduced that she’d been burned in the past—was only trying to be polite. But that was the problem, she didn’t want him to be polite, as if she needed to be shielded from such questions. That wasn’t any better than the damn “Poor Sidney” head-tilt.
“It’s okay, I don’t mind answering.” She turned to Kathleen. “I was seeing someone in New York, but that relationship ended shortly before I moved to Chicago.”
“So now that you’re single again, what kind of man are you looking for? Vaughn?” Kathleen pointed. “Could you pass the creamer?”
He did so, then turned to look once again at Sidney. His lips curved at the corners, the barest hint of a smile. He was daring her, she knew, waiting for her to back away from his mother’s questions.
She never had been very good at resisting his dares.
“Actually, I have a list of things I’m looking for.” Sidney took a sip of her coffee.
Vaughn raised an eyebrow. “You have a list?”
“Of course you do.”
Isabelle looked over, surprised. “You never told me about this.”
“What kind of list?” Kathleen asked interestedly.
“It’s a test, really,” Sidney said. “A list of characteristics that indicate whether a man is ready for a serious relationship. It helps weed out the commitment-phobic guys, the womanizers, and any other bad apples, so a woman can focus on the candidates with more long-term potential.”
Vaughn rolled his eyes. “And now I’ve heard it all.”
“Where did you find this list?” Simon asked. “Is this something all women know about?”
“Why? Worried you won’t pass muster?” Isabelle winked at him.
“I did some research,” Sidney said. “Pulled it together after reading several articles online.”
“Lists, tests, research, online dating, speed dating—I can’t keep up with all these things you kids are doing,” Adam said, from the head of the table. “Whatever happened to the days when you’d see a girl at a restaurant or a coffee shop and just walk over and say hello?”
Vaughn turned to Sidney, his smile devilish. “Yes, whatever happened to those days, Sidney?”
She threw him a look. Don’t be cute. “You know what they say—it’s a jungle out there. Nowadays a woman has to make quick decisions about whether a man is up to par.” She shook her head mock reluctantly. “Sadly, some guys just won’t make the cut.”
“But all it takes is one,” Isabelle said, with a loving smile at her fiancé.
Simon slid his hand across the table, covering hers affectionately. “The right one.”
Until he nails his personal trainer. Sidney took another sip of her coffee, holding back the cynical comment. She didn’t want to spoil Isabelle and Simon’s idyllic all-you-need-is-love glow.
Vaughn cocked his head, looking at the happy couple. “Aw, aren’t you two just so . . . cheesy.”
Kathleen shushed him. “Don’t tease your brother.”
“What? Any moment, I’m expecting birds and little woodland animals to come in here and start singing songs about true love, they’re so adorable.”
Sidney laughed out loud. Quickly, she bit her lip to cover.