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One Perfect Night

Written by Teresa Southwick

Chapter Fourteen

"Gotta go, Jules." Ben's phone voice had been deep and sexy, but now turned brisk and businesslike. "My assistant says there's someone here to see me. Call you later?"

"Okay. Talk to you then."

Julie set down the office phone and smiled. Her ICU work space was a converted storage area with a Formica counter on one side that served as her desk. Two computer monitors sat next to each other and there were shelves above with protocol and procedure manuals. She glanced over her shoulder and saw Katie Barrett, her best friend since nursing school, standing in the doorway.

The pretty green-eyed brunette was wearing scrubs as usual—these ones were green pants and a floral top. She looked thoughtful. "Hi."

This woman knew her better than anyone and had listened patiently about everything that had happened with Ben, especially the bad and the ugly. But Julie was afraid talking about the good stuff would somehow jinx it. "Hey, what's up?"

"You tell me," Katie said.

"Not much."

"Who was on the phone?"

"Why?" Julie watched her friend's expression soften.

"Because you look happy."

"I'm always happy."

"Not giddy, I'm-grinning-so-hard-my-face-hurts happy. This is different."

It was different, Julie thought. Different from anything she'd ever felt before. In the four weeks since the Mardi Gras ball she'd seen or talked to Ben every day. Movies, dinner, at his place or hers. Fantastic sex at his place or hers. It was too perfect; she didn't trust perfect.

"Have I really changed that much?"

Katie sat in the other desk chair. "You've changed in a good way, and no one deserves happiness more than you."

"You do," Julie said. "But I have to admit, if everyone on the planet was as happy as me there really would be world peace."

"I was that happy once upon a time." Katie smiled a little sadly. "And if every girl could find herself a Ben Carson, relationships would be easy."

"Do you still miss Steve?"

"Yes." He'd been her high school sweetheart and the love of her life until he died. "But that's in the past and we're not talking about me."

"Because you never will."

"Nothing more to say." Katie forced a smile. "We're talking about you. Has Ben redeemed himself yet for the way he handled that who's-your-baby-daddy problem?"

"Redeem is the wrong word, Kate." She tapped her pen on the counter beside a stack of paperwork. "That implies he did something wrong, but he made a judgment call that was about protecting me from something potentially messy. Now, he calls or texts every day, multiple times. He does what he says he's going to, but…"

"You're afraid."

"Yeah." Doubt was a constant cloud on the horizon of her new joy.

"To find happiness you have to keep your heart open so love can find its way in." Her friend's eyes darkened with emotion. "Or maybe it already has?"

That was probably true, but she wasn't ready to admit it. "I'm not in love."

"Your face is saying just the opposite." Katie stood. "And it wouldn't be a bad thing to let him know how you feel. He's showing you in every way but with words. Take it from me. Time is precious. Don't waste it. Trust me, the words are important. Now I gotta go."

Julie stared at the empty doorway and thought about how right her friend was. It was time to tell Ben what was on her mind and in her heart. How fortunate that he worked just downstairs.

With a little luck, he was finished with whoever had arrived to see him and interrupted their phone call.

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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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