Just One Look

Just One Look

by Joan Reeves

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786254774
Publisher: Cengage Gale
Publication date: 07/14/2003
Pages: 167
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 8.76(h) x 0.69(d)

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CHAPTER 1

Jennifer Monroe shivered and rubbed the goose-bumped flesh of her arms. A meat locker would feel warmer than a doctor's examining room, she thought. Why do they have to keep it so cold? And why do they act as if you have nothing better to do than sit around, clad only in a piece of paper and your birthday suit, and wait?

She drummed her fingers on the paper-covered examination table. The rustling tissue sounded abnormally loud. Abruptly she stopped and checked her watch again. Great! Just great, she thought, crossing her right leg over her left.

Quickly, impatiently, her right foot swung back and forth. When she was finished here, she might as well call Alva and cancel their lunch date. Due to the doctor's lack of punctuality, she'd never be able to make it downtown to meet her friend at the Dallas Epicurean.

Jennifer's sigh in the quiet room sounded resigned, even to her own ears. Alva was going to read her the riot act if she canceled again. But what could she do? This time it wasn't her fault.

Another doleful sigh slipped past her lips. Sometimes, old friends could be a real pain in the neck, she thought sourly. Especially when they decided that they had to save you from yourself. As Alva Hernandez, her best friend, had.

With an irritated mutter, she looked at the silver watch on her left wrist again. I was on time, she thought grumpily. Why isn't he?

Jennifer had spent a half hour in the outer reception area before being taken back to the examination room. She looked around the tiny room. If she hadn't been so irritated, she would have laughed at the room's decor. It looked as if someone had gone crazy with a bottle of America's most popular stomach relief medication. Everything in the room was nauseatingly pink. Even the giggly young nurse wore a hot pink uniform.

The nurse, who looked as if she'd been granted her diploma yesterday, had handed Jennifer a paper gown. The great leveler, Jennifer thought, glaring at the offensive disposable garment. She'd assured Jennifer that Dr. Penrose would be with her in a moment.

A moment? His definition of a moment must be different from hers, Jennifer noted in exasperation. She'd been sitting on the tissue-covered table for thirty minutes. A whole hour wasted, not counting the drive time from her office on Forest Central out here to north Dallas. Didn't this doctor realize that Jennifer had patients also? People waiting to talk to her. Adolescents who wanted, no, needed, to pour out their problems, she thought with a sigh, recalling the afternoon appointments she had scheduled. So many kids. So many problems.

Lately, her thoughts had too often followed that line. Alva complained that Jennifer had turned into a workaholic who had forgotten how to have fun. When questioned about the last time, she'd had a date, Jennifer couldn't even remember the occasion.

"You know what they say, Jen, about all work and no play," Alva had remonstrated, with a shake of her head which sent her rich brown curls dancing. Alva never seemed to have a problem remembering the occasion of her last date. In fact, she had so many that her only problem was keeping track of all of them. Jennifer half-suspected that her computer-intensive friend probably kept a detailed summary of them on an Excel spreadsheet.

"Maybe you're right, Alva," Jennifer said aloud, stretching and shifting uncomfortably again. She tried to listen to the soft music coming from the ceiling speaker, but the crunch and crackle of the disposable paper gown intruded, reminding her of the passing minutes.

The door popped open, and the nurse chirped, "Doctor will be with you any moment now."

Jennifer rolled her eyes in disgust. That's what bubbly Nurse Giggles had been telling her for an hour now. She started to ask for a blanket, a pillow, and a wake up call, but the nurse closed the door before she could utter the sarcastic words.

I should have just canceled my appointment when I found out Sylvia was out of town, she thought. Sylvia Haddad, who had been her gynecologist for the last four years, never kept her waiting this long. Today though, she was stuck with the new doctor in the office.

Apparently, the new guy who was subbing for Sylvia, a man who'd just moved here she'd been told, wasn't nearly as concerned with his patients' time. Dr. Joseph Penrose was as slow in arriving as autumn had been in chasing away the summer heat from the Metroplex. That was strike one against him.

Strike two was his last name. Penrose. Jennifer grimaced. She'd known only one other person by that name, and her experience with Matt Penrose hadn't enamored her of that particular surname.

For a moment, Jennifer allowed herself to think of the black-haired, blue-eyed king of Lake Grayson High School. She remembered the first time she'd seen the handsome senior. Zing! Love at first sight.

Unfortunately, she also remembered — quite clearly — the last time she'd seen the dirty snake. Hate at last sight! He'd turned out to be worse than all the boys she'd had to contend with since her chest had gone from flat as a board to fully-inflated in less time than it took to learn how to shave her legs without causing bodily harm.

All those high school adolescent throwbacks couldn't have said what color her hair or eyes were even if they were standing right in front of her because they never raised their eyes beyond her bustline. None of them had hurt her as deeply as Matt had.

Thank heavens that whole situation was another lifetime ago. She hadn't seen Matt Penrose since that December evening fifteen years ago. Her under-employed mom, bless her dear heart, had moved them from Michigan to St. Louis, Missouri, in search of a better job over Christmas break. It hadn't been the first time they'd moved, following opportunity, but this had been the only time that Jennifer hadn't minded. In fact, the move to St. Louis had turned out to be the best thing that had ever happened to her and her mom.

Funny, she hadn't thought about her troubled adolescence — nor her first love Matt Penrose — in ages. She tried to picture Matt as he probably looked now. Let's see, he'd be in his early thirties, she thought.

For the first time in the last two hours, Jennifer smiled. Matt, the heart throb of high school, was probably starting to lose his hair by now. More than likely, he had a beer gut. Poor guy. He was probably still stuck in Lake Grayson, unless he'd had to move to get a job in one of the auto assembly plants. With the way the economy was, the poor guy was probably struggling. Jennifer shrugged. Fortunately, she'd never see him again so it was rather pointless to waste any more energy speculating about him.

Just when she'd decided the doctor had forgotten her existence, the door opened. A whisper of aftershave that brought to mind last summer's tropical vacation teased her senses. Ummm, she thought, breathing deeply. Suntan oil and muscled bodies baking in the summer heat. The scent accompanied the tall man who entered.

The cordial smile on Jennifer's lips froze. The man had Matt Penrose's curly black hair. Her breath caught somewhere between her lungs and her throat. He also had Matt's dreamy blue eyes. And Matt's face. Had she conjured an adult version of him from her overworked imagination?

Jennifer shook her head to clear it, closed her eyes tightly, then opened them again. The man still looked like a grownup Matt Penrose. Finally, her brain registered the white lab coat he wore. For the first time in her life — no, make that the second — Jennifer thought she was going to faint. Or maybe throw up. Oddly enough, both times had been caused by the man standing in front of her.

Over the buzzing in her ears, she heard the giggly nurse breathlessly announce, "Dr. Monroe, this is Dr. Joseph Matthew Penrose."

CHAPTER 2

Matt Penrose hid his annoyance at the nurse's ostentatious introduction. After a week of working with Whitney Anders, who was new to Sylvia's staff he understood, he'd had plenty of experience in ignoring her unprofessional behavior. Surely Sylvia hadn't seen this side of Nurse Anders. If she had, knowing Sylvia for the no-nonsense woman she was, she'd have sent the silly young woman to the unemployment office — or a women's consciousness workshop — before now.

With each giggle from the nurse, he regretted his decision to move his practice from the rural area surrounding Conroe to Dallas. But going into practice with Sylvia had seemed ideal when he'd wanted to move closer to his parents who lived in Plano, just east of here. When Sylvia came back though, they were going to have to discuss Nurse Whitney Anders. If he made it that long without strangling the irritating young woman.

Only another week of this before Sylvia returned, he thought, rolling his eyes at the ceiling as Whitney accidentally brushed against his arm and lingered. Her well-rounded breast felt like a stone pressing into his bicep. Silicone, he thought, not really surprised.

The nurse giggled. "Oh, excuse me, doctor."

Whitney gurgled like the small fountain in the atrium downstairs. She even spouted streams of inanities, he thought. He didn't know what was more annoying — her gushing or her self-important airs.

If the nurse resembled a bubbling fountain, then the patient sitting on the table was a waterspout about to erupt, he thought, turning his attention to her. Except for splotchy red cheeks, her face was completely devoid of color. Her hands gripped the edges of the table as if she'd fall off if she let go. He'd never seen anyone quite so tense before.

"Hi, I'm Matt Penrose." He smiled gently to ease her obvious anxiety and extended his hand to her.

She recoiled from his hand as if it were a poisonous snake. Her hands uncurled from the table's edge and flew to each side of the gaping paper gown. She clutched the two halves together so tightly that he heard the paper rip. His smile faded. What was her problem?

Matt withdrew his hand and pulled a pair of gold wire-rimmed glasses out of his shirt pocket. He always used them to present an air of paternal solicitude. They made him look older, wiser. Or so Patricia told him. And his sister was usually pretty savvy about image and stuff like that. As panic-stricken as this patient looked, he hoped the glasses trick worked.

Unfortunately, when he peered through the lenses, he decided that he'd have to be dressed in a purple dinosaur suit like Barney to reassure this woman that he posed no threat to her.

Concerned at her obvious fear, he asked, "Are you all right, Dr. Monroe?"

Her head bobbed up and down like a puppet on a string. The dilated pupils of her eyes made him think of those cartoon children with the big heads and the huge, round, tear-filled eyes, who clutched equally sad-looking kittens.

Matt frowned. This woman had a problem. Never in his experience had he run across anyone so upset about a gynecological exam. Sure, some women were a little tense, a little nervous, but not this overt fear.

He drew up the chrome-based swivel stool and sat in front of her. Perturbed, he tried to be as matter of fact as possible. "According to your chart, Dr. Monroe, you've been seeing Dr. Haddad for four years?" He paused, waiting for her to say something. When she didn't, his frown deepened. Her hostile defensive posture hadn't relaxed since he'd walked into the room. If anything, it had intensified.

Never one to give up easily, Matt tried to get a conversation going between them, but even innocuous comments about the lovely October weather didn't make a dent in her apparent anxiety.

"I understand you're a psychologist, Dr. Monroe." He made his voice as soothing as possible in an effort to reason with her regarding her obvious fear.

Her head moved in a quick jerk. Her eyes hadn't blinked since he'd walked into the room, he thought, studying the pale gray depths with the huge, dilated pupils. He frowned and looked closer. Those eyes. He knew those eyes. He took off the fake glasses and looked again.

"Have we met before?" he asked, tilting his head to the side as he studied her. He tapped the temple of the glasses against his even white teeth.

Her gray eyes grew even wider. The pupils enlarged until her eyes appeared black. She looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car, he thought.

Jennifer shook her head so hard her short, sleek, ash blond hair flew out at right angles to her head. She wished she could crawl into a hole and disappear. Every inch of her skin, naked except for the thin paper gown, seemed to burn with embarrassment. The only thing she could think of was that she had to get out of there before Matt recognized her.

"Odd." His brow furrowed in thought. "Something about you seems familiar."

I should assert myself, Jennifer thought, terrified that he would suddenly remember who she was. Just calmly ask him and Nurse Giggles to leave the room so I can get dressed. But she cringed at the thought of telling him that he was right. That they were well-acquainted indeed.

Her first kiss had come from his chiseled lips. Those lips pursed thoughtfully as he studied her. If anything, she thought, his mouth looked even sexier, more inviting, now than when she'd been fourteen.

The paper, clutched in her fists, ripped again as her hands convulsively jerked. The sound seemed extraordinarily loud in the quiet room. Jennifer noticed the nurse giving her an amused, condescending look. She groaned inwardly and glanced at her charcoal gray business suit hung neatly on the peg in the corner of the room. For a moment, she considered jumping off the table, grabbing her clothes and making a mad dash for freedom.

Unfortunately, she could envision the headlines in her mind. Psychologist streaks north Dallas professional building.

Matt shook his head at the feeling of familiarity. He couldn't place her, nor could he understand her fear. He put his glasses back on and decided to just get on with it. She was supposed to be a trained psychologist. Surely she could control her own emotions and anxiety.

"Well, tell me, Dr. Monroe, have you been having any problems since your last checkup?"

Again, Jennifer shook her head so hard it made her neck hurt. She couldn't seem to find her voice. It was like being trapped in a B movie, she thought, where a chainsaw-wielding psychopath chases a woman, who, of course, falls and twists her ankle. And, as in all such movies, the bosom-heaving woman is so terrified she can't find her voice to scream. Jennifer hated lumping herself in the same category as some wimpy woman who couldn't find the guts to kick a movie psycho in the family jewels.

Why couldn't Matt Penrose have the decency to have a beer gut, she wondered, her eyes sweeping his body quickly. Not even a little paunch, she thought in disgust. And no receding hairline either. She'd have recognized him anywhere. He hadn't changed a bit. No, that wasn't quite true. He'd matured. His muscles had hardened. The lines in his face gave character to his features. Unfortunately, he'd just got sexier and better looking. Fortunately, for her, he hadn't recognized her.

She was too scared that he'd suddenly remember her, and that embarrassing Christmas prom, to be concerned that she had been less than memorable to him. Jennifer felt as if she'd reverted to her insecure youth. Get control of yourself, she scolded, speak up! Otherwise, she'd find herself flat on her back with her feet in the stirrups in a minute. And embarrassed beyond belief. She couldn't let him continue with this.

"Do you examine your breasts regularly?" he asked, looking at her chart.

"What?" Jennifer squawked.

He smiled reassuringly. "Let's take a look, shall we?"

When he stood, she finally found her voice. "Let's not!"

Her near scream stopped him in his tracks. "Now, Dr. Monroe, as a professional, you realize the importance of these checkups, don't you?"

"Of course," she sputtered, certain that she'd melt into a pool of humiliation, roll off the table, and land next to his polished leather loafers. She was certainly hot enough to melt, she thought, knowing a furious blush covered her entire body.

"Then what is the problem?" He smiled patiently and sat back down on the stool. He swiveled gently back and forth and acted as if he had all the time in the world.

"The problem?" Jennifer repeated dumbly, glancing at the nurse who suddenly appeared to be engrossed in the scene playing itself out.

"Yes. The problem. Even modesty shouldn't prevent your getting the medical care you need. Don't you agree?"

Reluctantly, she nodded. Her brain felt so sluggish that she couldn't figure a way out of this sophomoric nightmare. When he stood up again, she scooted back on the table until her back was literally against the wall. "No!" She squeaked.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Just One Look"
by .
Copyright © 2011 Joan Reeves.
Excerpted by permission of Season Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Just One Look 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! If you haven't read JUST ONE LOOK, you're missing out on a great story. It's humorous, sexy to the max, and just plain entertaining. I read it on a blah afternoon, and it was an instant day brightener. I'm now going to look up Joan Reeves' backlist. If this is an example of the type of story she tells, I want to get every one of them!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ends rather adruptly. Not even an epilogue.
DaneWeimMama More than 1 year ago
Overall I enjoyed Just One Look- the story line was unique & the characters strong & independent. What woman wouldn't have a total melt down if they were in the OGBYN's office & their first love came in. I did think the rouse of Jennifer needing Matt to help her stop being sexually frustrated went on a bit too long. And Jennifer went from being mad at Matt for years to totally ok with everything n the space of a page. Just One Look is a good read but could have benefited from some more editing. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
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I just love a romance story with some humor.. great short story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LOVED this book, it had all the elements I enjoy, humor, love, great characters! What a fun, laugh out loud read!!!
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