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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:29

“I’m just not feeling well,” she told him, being as honest as she could. “I wanted to clean before your mom and dad came home.”

Eli muttered something under his breath, then sighed. “Can you walk?”

She could barely hold her head up, so standing on her legs and putting one foot in front of the other was out of the question. And if the room didn’t quit spinning, she didn’t know how much longer she could go without lying down.

She lifted her lids and met his concerned gaze. Those dark eyes were always so mesmerizing. Maybe if she just focused on that, on him…

No, she had enough to focus on as it was. A baby, coming to grips with the fact she’d been married to a man who hadn’t truly loved her and now left her a pregnant widow, plus the very great possibility she’d have to find a smaller, less expensive house.

Before she knew what Eli had planned, he’d wrapped one arm around her shoulders and slid another arm beneath her knees. He came to his feet with ease and Nora rested her head against his warm shoulder. If she had more strength she’d be embarrassed he’d found her in such a humbling position, but she was too sick to care.

“Don’t be sorry for caring about my parents,” he told her, easing sideways down the hallway and then up the stairs. “Be sorry that you’re not listening to your body and taking it easy.”

She didn’t protest when he took her into his old bedroom.

“I’ll be fine,” she promised. “I just need to lie still for a few minutes until this nausea subsides.”

“Have you had a fever?” he asked.

There was absolutely no way she was going to tell him about the baby. He would find out soon enough. There were only so many ways she could camouflage her belly. She just wasn’t ready to tell him—didn’t want to see the pity in his eyes, didn’t want him to feel like she was an obligation because they’d been friends and Todd had been his friend, too.

Nora didn’t have her coat as a shield today, but the yoga pants and oversize sweatshirt certainly did the trick.

“How about aches?” he asked, gently laying her down on the bed. “This is flu season.”

“No. I know it’s not the flu.”

Nora couldn’t help the sigh that escaped her as she sank into the soft, plush comforter. All she could smell was Eli’s strong, woodsy cologne and she took a deep breath, wanting to take in as much of him as she could.

Funny, that smell didn’t turn her stomach. Obviously that was a sign she should lay off cleaning for the safety of her health.

That was a pregnancy rule she could get behind.

“You don’t have a fever,” he went on. “Maybe it was just something you ate that didn’t agree with you.”

Nora glanced up at him and attempted a grin. “Must be. Just give me a minute and I’ll finish picking up.”

“Like hell you will,” he informed her. “I came back from the hospital early to get things ready for Dad. Cameron is there to bring Mom and Dad home when he’s released.”

“I have casseroles in the freezer in the garage,” she told him. “I had already washed the few dishes in the sink and put them away. I dusted and ran the sweeper. All that’s left is the bathroom downstairs, which is where I was when I got sick.”

Eli held her gaze and she couldn’t look away if she tried. Those broad shoulders filled out the dark gray wool coat that he’d yet to take off, but somewhere along the way he’d removed the hat. That dark, messy hair looked as if he’d just stepped out of his lover’s bed, and his eyes, still fixed on hers, were so dark they were nearly black.

All three brothers had those eyes, the same as their father’s. There was something about Eli’s that captivated her, held her. He was the type of man who demanded attention without saying a word. How could she not comply?

“When did you eat last?” he asked, shrugging out of his coat and laying it on the end of the bed.

She thought back to the dry toast she’d choked down with orange juice for breakfast. “About nine.”