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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:30

He jerked on the bags, giving her no choice but to relinquish her hold. Stubborn man. Did he honestly think she’d not been able to take care of herself?

“Well, I’m here and I’m cold so open the door.”

Nora resisted the urge to roll her eyes; that would be childish. But she did stomp up the steps to her door. Not the most mature behavior, but she couldn’t help it. This gorgeous man seemed to be everywhere lately…including her dreams.

What was he doing invading her subconscious? Nostalgia could only go so far. He wasn’t the man she’d loved years ago and she certainly wasn’t the same woman.

Good grief. As if she even had anything appealing to offer a man! A widowed pregnant lady with a meager income… Seriously, who wouldn’t want to get with that?

She unlocked the door and let Eli pass in ahead of her. After she flipped on the lights in the living room and kitchen, she shrugged out of her coat.

“Just throw the bags on the island,” she called over her shoulder as she went into the living room to plug in her Christmas tree. “I’ll put everything away.”

“I can help put stuff away,” he offered.

When she plugged in the tree, she spotted Kerfluffle lying on the red-and-white quilted tree skirt, napping. Her favorite spot this time of year.

She returned to the kitchen and hung her coat on the peg by the back door. She’d just started to hang her purse over the other peg when it slipped from her grasp and fell to the tile, spilling its contents.

She leveled her gaze across the room to Eli. “Really, I’ll get it all. But thanks for carrying those groceries in.”

Ignoring her subtle dismissal, Eli circled the island and squatted down to help her pick up her purse explosion.

She froze as he picked up the row of pictures she’d had in her purse from today’s ultrasound. The way he stared at each image, the way he slowly straightened his body to come to his full height and the way his eyes finally came to meet hers, Nora knew he wasn’t leaving anytime soon.

Eli couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak.

A baby? How the hell did he not know this? He’d been home for five days now and nothing had ever been mentioned. Of course, his father had had heart surgery and his mother was busy with his care, but seriously, he was a doctor—how did he not recognize the fact this woman was pregnant? And far enough along that she knew the sex.

The sickness at his parents’, her always hiding beneath her coat, her pale, tired face…all the signs were there.

His eyes traveled from the pictures to her eyes to her belly. With the boxy scrubs she wore at the clinic and her height, she was able to hide her bump.

“Whatever you want to say, just say it,” she told him, taking the pictures from his hands and thrusting her chin up as if she dared him to say anything at all.

He raked a hand over his stubbled jawline. “Honestly, I don’t know what to say. Congratulations? How did I not know this? Is the baby…”

Her eyes narrowed. “Thank you. Because you don’t know everything about my life, and yes, the baby is Todd’s. Whose did you think it would be?”

He hadn’t meant to say that, but damn, she’d completely caught him off guard and, with his background, that rarely happened.

“I’m sorry.” He studied her another minute, folding his arms across his wide chest and leaning back against the center island. “This is why you were so sick the other day at Mom and Dad’s?”

Anger bubbled within him. She’d been pushing herself, bending over backward to do it all and…what? To prove she could? To prove she didn’t need anybody and she could don the superwoman cape?

“What the hell were you thinking pushing yourself like that?” he demanded, unable to keep his rage fueled by fear locked inside.

“I was thinking I’d help out the two people who’ve always been like parents to me,” she yelled back. “I’m pregnant, Eli, I’m not an invalid. I was getting along fine before you came and I’ll continue to do so once you’re gone. Just because we had a past doesn’t mean you can come in here and start taking charge.”