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One Perfect Night

Written by Teresa Southwick

Chapter Eight

Julie took a minute to admire Ben. Her heart was beating too fast—a recurring symptom when she was close to this man. But tonight was different.

He was different.

She'd never seen him in a tuxedo before. She told herself it was just another suit, but that was like saying the Grand Canyon was just another rock formation.

"You look nice."

"That's the best you can do?" One dark eyebrow rose. "Nice?"

"What should I say?"

He shrugged. "I was hoping for something along the lines of…hot."

Definitely he was that. It scared her how much she wanted to get him out of that tux. But she'd only agreed to be his date because she'd wanted to go to the Mardi Gras ball. His promise about not disappearing afterward hadn't changed her mind about anything.

Keep cool, she warned herself. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

"So, beholder, what do you think?"

"Besides the fact that you're fishing for compliments?" she teased. "I expected you to say, 'the name's Bond—James Bond.'"

"I'll take that as a good thing."

His grin made her knees go weak, another recurring symptom of close proximity to him. She'd been attracted to Ben the first time she'd seen him talking to one of the surgeons in the ICU waiting room at Mercy Medical Center. Her reaction to him had always been strong, but it was more intense now. Either because she knew now that being with him was so much better than being without him, or his instinct to protect her had melted her heart more than she'd realized.

"Maybe you don't need to hassle with the dress," he teased her, knowing she was dying to wear it. "The satin robe is a very fetching look."

"'Fetching'? Really? Who even says that in a regular conversation? Next you'll be calling me 'wench.'"

"I can truthfully say that never crossed my mind."

"What a relief. But I do have to put my dress on. I'm ready except for that." Turning, she lifted the skirt of her robe. Tripping on it as she left the room would be beyond embarrassing, and she was going for sophisticated and confident.

"Let me know if you need a hand…or two."

His words were wrapped in seduction and made tingles dance down her spine, but there was no time for a distraction. Even if she wanted to go there.

In her bedroom she pulled the protective bag containing her gown from the closet and unzipped it. She unbelted her robe, then stepped into the silver beaded strapless dress. The bodice was so tight no bra was necessary, but she'd had assistance from a saleswoman with the zipper when she bought it.

She tried tugging up the zipper, but the front fell forward, making it impossible to pull the sides closed in the back. Turning it backwards, she yanked the closure up as far as she could then slid it around, but she still couldn't seal the deal. Her arms weren't flexible enough and her fingers didn't have the strength. This was a fine mess.

And the solution to her dilemma was waiting in the other room.

If she'd been alone, she wasn't sure she'd have managed. But tonight she wasn't alone.

"Ben?"

Moments later he stood in the doorway to her bedroom.

Her back was to him as she held the top of the dress to her bare breasts. "I think I need your hand, after all."

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About the author

I discovered my love for books through being lazy. In a high-school hi...

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Teresa Southwick

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