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One Perfect Night

Written by Teresa Southwick

Chapter Sixteen

Ben could have been the hapless hero in a romantic farce and the only dialogue that came to mind was It's not what you think.

Fortunately, he didn't say that out loud, because Julie would tell him he had no idea what she was thinking, even though it was written all over her. One look at her expressive face and he could see she was shocked and hurt.

"Hi, Jules." He glanced at the woman beside him and lifted the infant carrier. "Julie Carnes, this is Penny Manning and her son, Caleb."

"Hi."

Penny nodded. "It's nice to meet you."

"You're obviously busy," Julie said to Ben. "This is a bad time."

He couldn't argue with her in front of the desk where his assistant could hear every word. "Penny was just leaving, Jules. What's up?"

"An issue with Dr. Christopher. It can wait." Wariness and doubt were twin shadows in her eyes. She glanced down at the infant boy, sound asleep and blissfully unaware of the awkward scene unfolding around him. "He's a beautiful baby."

"I think so." Penny's smile was proud but ragged around the edges. She looked tired. "But there's no way to prepare for the responsibility of a precious little life like this."

"I can imagine." Her expression said she was imagining all kinds of things and none of them good.

Penny eyed Julie's scrubs and white lab coat. "You're a nurse?"

"Actually, I'm the nurse manager for the hospital's intensive care unit."

"She takes care of budget, staffing and patient progress until they leave the unit," Ben explained.

"And I thought I had a lot of responsibility with Caleb. That really is life-and-death."

"What do you do, Penny?" Julie dropped her gaze to the baby again.

"I work at The Pub in the Monte Carlo Hotel. But I'm on maternity leave right now."

"You must meet interesting people there."

"The public is always an adventure." Penny's expression said she didn't miss the awkwardness of the situation. "But I've taken enough of Ben's time. You two have things to discuss."

"Like I said…" Julie's body language screamed that she wanted to escape. "My issue can wait."

"Not on my account." Penny's fingers brushed Ben's when she reached for the carrier handle. "I have to go. The baby's going to wake up hungry soon."

"I've got him for you." Ben looked at Julie, wishing he could explain, but knowing they had to be alone for that. "Wait here. Please?"

"I have to get back to work." And for the first time, Ben couldn't read Julie's feelings.

"Wait, this will just take a minute. I'm going to carry him to her car."

"It's okay." Julie headed for the exit. "Catch you later."

"I'll call you," he said, just as the door closed.

Now that he'd heard about her past, Ben knew that those words were the ones least likely to reassure her.

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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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