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

Too bad she couldn’t catch them. Maddie was as wide as she was tall and had certainly been no match for three healthy teen boys.

Eli pushed open the door and for a half second he was shocked. It seemed as though a good one hundred pounds had melted off her. And her wardrobe looked straight out of a sixteen-year-old’s closet.

Sitting on the edge of the exam table, Maddie wore hot-pink leggings and a black, fitted, off-the-shoulder sweater. Furry leopard-print boots completed her interesting look. Her cane—which looked as though it had been dipped into a vat of rhinestones—rested against the table.

“Mrs. Mays,” he greeted, closing the door for privacy.

When her eyes landed on him, he didn’t shudder beneath the gaze that seemed to study and assess him. “Eli. You’re quite a bit taller and thicker than last I saw you.”

Last time she’d seen him he’d been hightailing it past her property after she’d threatened to go get her gun if he touched her pansies again. In his defense, he’d needed a bouquet of flowers for Nora and he’d thought it was dark enough to conceal him. He’d been wrong.

“I’m quite a bit older now,” he added, setting her chart on the counter so he could wash his hands in the small sink.

One perfectly penciled-in brow arched. “I hope you’ve settled down. Are you married?”

Maddie let out a harrumph. “Well, you’re not too settled, then.”

After drying his hands, he opened the file, more than ready to get down to the reason for her visit. “Mrs. Mays, I’m not showing any symptoms on your chart. I see where Sarah took your vitals, but nothing else.”

Eli closed the chart, setting it on the exam table beside her and pulling his stethoscope from around his neck. “Let me just listen to your heart and lungs while you tell me the reason you’re here.”

“Oh, I’m healthy as a horse, Eli.” Maddie smiled when he froze. “Thanks to my vitamins and green tea, I’m healthier now than I was thirty years ago. Of course my workouts help. I had a pole installed in my living room about five years ago after I started reading about all these pole dancers and the strenuous workouts they go through and—”

Eli held up a hand. Besides the fact the dead last thing he wanted to hear about was Maddie and her…pole…he had a more pressing issue.

“Why are you here if you aren’t sick?” he asked. “Do you need a refill on any medication?”

“No. Since I started eating healthier a few years ago I was able to get off all my medication. All that processed food will kill you.”

Eli took a deep breath, settled his stethoscope back around his shoulders and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Then what can I do for you, Mrs. Mays?”

“I just wanted to have a look-see since you’re back in town.”

He should’ve expected this. “Mrs. Mays, I have other patients I need to see. If you’re not here for a valid reason, I’ll need to get going.”

She reached into her oversize purse and pulled out a foil-wrapped package. “I made you a loaf of pumpkin mint bread.”

Eli took the gift, not sure if this was the norm for Maddie. “Thanks,” he said as she slid off the exam table.

Maddie clutched her cane and narrowed her eyes. “I’ll be keeping my eye on you, Eli. I’m not too comfortable with a St. John boy being my doctor, but I trust your father and he’d never let you into his practice if he didn’t think you could do the job.”

“I can do the job,” he assured her, now wondering if the odd-flavored bread was poisoned.

“Heard you got on at some big hospital in Atlanta.”

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He didn’t know how she knew. And that was the crazy thing with small towns. People knew all about your business—occasionally before you did.

And if all went well, when he returned it would be to a substantial promotion.

“Well, that’s something,” she proclaimed as she made her way to the door. “I’ve been impressed with your brothers, even if they still have that I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude.”