Page 2

Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:26

Fortunately, Eli had handled seventeen years in the military and in medical school so coming home to a disgruntled father, who was waiting on quadruple bypass surgery instead of practicing medicine himself, was nothing Eli couldn’t handle.

Eli moved through the old bungalow-style home, leaving his suitcase in the foyer. As much as he loved coming home for visits, he’d never done so with the intention of staying longer than a few days. And in those visits home, he’d managed to avoid Nora for the most part. He’d seen her and even exchanged the requisite pleasantries, but other than that, he’d kept his distance.

Now he’d be home—at a minimum—for the rest of the winter and into the spring.

Nothing like being thirty-five years old and living with Mommy and Daddy again. Of course he’d do anything for his parents, including give up his bachelor lifestyle. Family had always come first, no matter what. At least he was going to be staying in the apartment above the garage. That was still somewhat private.

Eli stepped into the living room where his father was reclined in the old, plush chair that should’ve been retired to a garbage dump about five years ago. The man was a doctor; he could afford new furniture, for heaven’s sake.

Familiar ornaments adorned the full artificial tree that occupied the corner of the space. His mother still hung all of their stockings along the edge of the mantel even though Eli and his brothers had each moved out right after they graduated. The worn-in comfort of the home, especially now at Christmas, helped ease his nerves in dealing with the inevitable reunion ? ? with Nora. He wasn’t so worried about the old feelings creeping up; he was more worried about how he could look her in the eye when he knew a truth she could never uncover.

Eli glanced from the television to his father. Remote in one hand, Dr. Mac St. John gave the television the one-fingered salute with the other.

Suppressing a chuckle, Eli stepped closer, but he knew what he’d find on the TV—sports. His father had always been a sports fanatic, namely football. Apparently this game was not to his liking. Or, more to the point, the refs’ decisions weren’t to his liking.

“Still disagreeing with their calls?” Eli asked.

His dad turned to face him and in one swift motion Mac had the footrest down and was on his feet. “Well, there’s one of my boys.”

Mac wrapped his arms around Eli’s shoulders and gave him a manly slap on the back. Eli returned his father’s embrace, welcoming the comforting touch. At one time Eli and his brothers feared the wrath of their father, but Eli now understood that the anger from his dad had only stemmed from fear and love. Eli didn’t even want to think about what he and his brothers had put their parents through.

His mother had once said that raising teenagers wasn’t for wimps. At the rate Eli was going with his career really taking root, he didn’t have time to date, let alone find a wife and have children. Besides, he’d settled pretty well into his bachelor status. Working in Atlanta with a promotion on the horizon was the main component in his life, other than his parents and brothers.

“Let me look at you.” His father eased back down into his chair, resting his hands on his knees. “You look good, son. Real good. You don’t know how much this means to me that you’re willing to fill in.”

Eli didn’t want to think about the patients at his dad’s office. More than likely they were the same judgmental people who lived here when he was a havoc-wreaking teen. He and his brothers hadn’t exactly been the town’s golden boys.

Apparently stealing street signs, racing down Main Street in dual-exhaust trucks and spray painting old buildings was frowned upon. Not that anyone could prove the St. John boys had anything to do with such shenanigans. Eli and his brothers were way too sneaky and smart to get caught.

On a sigh, Eli shook away the memories. People in small towns never forgot the person you used to be. Even worse, they never let you forget it, either. Yeah, he’d be well received as the new hometown doctor.

Eventually they’d see he had changed, but whether they did or didn’t, he was heading back to Atlanta in—hopefully—three months. Eli was already anxious to get back.