One Breathless Night

By: Jo Leigh

“GUESS HOW MANY James Bonds there are in this room right now.” Jenna Delaney tugged up her neckline as she watched the Bonds interact. Some were short, some rotund, some blond; quite a few had the beginnings of beer bellies. But they were all clearly dressed as the one and only Double O Seven.

Jenna and her friend Mindy were stationed perfectly: close enough to the New Year’s Eve buffet table that they could nibble all they wanted, yet still have a great view of the reunion         suite. “Ten? Twelve?” Mindy shook her head. “I give up. How many are there?”

“They’re all Bonds,” Jenna said. “Every single man here. All they had to do for their costume was rent a tux. That’s it. Unless they already owned one, which would have made it even easier. Meanwhile I, silly fool that I am, shelled out big bucks for Mimco bloodred lipstick, OPI blackish-purplish nail polish that’s the perfect shade but hideous, a necklace that looks like a noose, nearly cried putting my hair up in this awful twist and I’m wearing a dress that is far too revealing, just to match the outfit Vesper Lynd wore in Casino Royale.”

“You looked all that stuff up, didn’t you?”

“Of course I did. All the Bond girls have their own wikis.” Jenna took her cosplay as seriously as she did her job teaching middle school English.

“Bless your heart,” Mindy said, lifting a brie-covered cracker to her mouth. “I stole my costume from the men’s playbook. None of it’s new. I put it together using stuff from my own closet.”

Jenna eyed her friend’s black blouse and slacks. “That’s supposed to be a costume?”

Mindy nodded as she chewed.

“So what are you? A background extra?”

“Don’t be silly. I’m Judi Dench’s ‘M.’”

Jenna turned to face her now. “But she wasn’t a redhead.”

Mindy grinned wickedly. “I’m M in disguise.”

Jenna laughed.

“For what it’s worth, you look sensational.” Mindy looked her up and down, and then zeroed in on her neckline. “Well, you would if you’d quit trying to hide your breasts.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You’ve been tugging on your top all night. You’re not showing off that much, you Victorian prude, you. Look around. There are women here who are barely clothed, for God’s sake. It’s a James Bond–themed party.” Mindy reached over and tugged down Jenna’s top an inch. “It’s called a plunging neckline for a reason. Why didn’t you just come as Miss Moneypenny?”

Jenna clutched her bodice. “I have. Three times, as you well know.”

“Right. Because we come here every freaking year. There are things to do all over Boston. I mean, it’s New Year’s Eve and First Night, yet every year, we get stuck coming to the same old party. It’s criminal, all that we’re missing. It’s not being disloyal to their alma mater if we want to see other things, too.”

They were Jenna’s fiancé and Mindy’s husband, both graduates of Boston University. “You have a very good point.” Jenna picked up what looked to be a salmon puff. “It’s time to expand our repertoire. Just...Payton has the whole routine down—”

“Tough.” Mindy might not look like M, but right now she sure sounded like her. “I like you guys a lot, but I’ve had it. No more parties where we have to play dress-up. If the guys miss our skimpy outfits, they can wear them.”

Jenna laughed until she realized her hand was still covering her décolletage. It wasn’t as if her boobs were big enough to cause a stir. And she never used to be a prude. But then she’d started teaching twelve-year-olds. And dating Payton. Not that he made her a prude, but they did go to a lot of functions for his ultraconservative accounting firm, and she had learned to dress and act the part. She let her hand drop and straightened her back. “Okay, next year, you make the plans. I’m sure Payton will get on board.”

Mindy raised one eyebrow. “And if he doesn’t?”

“He will. Where are they, anyway?”

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