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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:28

“You’re working too hard, then.”

Nora shrugged without defending herself as most people would do. “If I don’t see you back here, I’ll see you at your parents’ house.”

“Thanks for being there for them,” he told her, holding the door open for her. “Over the years when I’ve been overseas, you’ve just…you’ve always been there and I’m not sure I ever said thank you.”

Nora’s eyes misted as she met his gaze overtop the car door. “I love your parents, Eli. Just because we stopped dating didn’t mean I loved or cared for them any less. I’m happy we have one another because, trust me, they’ve been there for me, too.”

She turned and got behind the wheel before he could question her. His mother and father rarely mentioned Nora other than in occasional conversations and then when Todd had passed. They’d never talked about her needing them or hard times. He assumed they didn’t mention it because they knew he had moved on.

Nora’s sad smile told him her life had been anything but what she’d envisioned. She was hiding something and as bad as he wanted to know what that was, he knew he had no place in her life…past or present.

Nora was pretty much hugging the toilet. Not her most shining moment in life, but she had no control of certain bodily functions lately.

The second she’d opened that bathroom cleaner her stomach had revolted and all she knew was that she was thankful she’d already been in the bathroom because there was no holding it back.

Wasn’t morning sickness supposed to be in the morning and in the first trimester? Come on, life, could she get some slack cut here?

At twenty weeks’ pregnant her ob-gyn had assured her that the nausea, exhaustion and sickness were quite normal and every pregnancy was different so Nora couldn’t compare all her experiences to things she’d seen online.

The exhaustion she could handle, but the nausea that chose to hit her at random times during the day really left her helpless. Talk about awkward when she was doing an exam on an animal. So far she’d only had to leave the room twice and thankfully her clients were understanding.

Nora eased back, praying this round was over. Apparently the bathroom wasn’t going to get cleaned, not by her, anyway. She was flat-out drained and, as of this moment, didn’t even have the energy to stand, let alone scrub.

Mac was coming home today and she’d wanted to surprise them with a nice, clean house. There was no way Bev would have the time to clean with taking care of Mac. It wasn’t much, but she felt like she should do something to help them.

She also had made up a few casseroles and put them in the deep freezer in the garage so hopefully Bev wouldn’t have to worry about cooking for a while.

Nora had just reached and flushed the commode when she heard the front door close. Perking an ear, because that’s all she had the energy to perk right now, she listened for voices, but didn’t hear any. At least it wasn’t Bev and Mac.

Heavy footsteps stopped right outside the bathroom door and Nora glanced over her shoulder. Her eyes traveled up denim-clad legs, a dark gray wool coat, and landed on the most handsome face peeking from beneath a black knit cap. Dark stubble covered his jawline, and between that ruggedness and the scar peeking out of the hat, he looked even more intriguing and attractive than ever.

Eli leaned against the doorway and crossed his arms over his chest. Seeing as how she’d been cleaning, she’d left the door open to let out some of the chemical smell.

He raised a brow. “What are you doing on the floor?”

“Oh, you know, just resting.” Nora tried to smile, but she wasn’t quite sure she pulled it off. “Sorry. I was trying to help…”

The room was spinning again, but she turned her cheek to rest her face on the cool tile on the wall. She would not pass out. But if she did, at least she was still on the floor and wouldn’t have far to go down.

“Nora. Are you okay?”

Eli squatted down, resting a hand against her forehead, instantly turning into a doctor before her. Nora closed her eyes at the feel of his gentle touch, resisting the urge to lean into his strength and draw from it. How many lives had those hands healed? Did he have a clue just how powerless she was right now between her weakened state and his innocent caress?