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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:33

She opened the door to a cold blast of air and Eli with his wide shoulders filling the entryway. “Come on in,” she said, stepping aside. “It’s becoming a St. John reunion ? ?.”

“I saw his unmarked car in your driveway.” Eli shrugged out of his coat, hanging it by her door. “Shouldn’t you be catching criminals?”

Cameron smiled, flashing that killer grin that ladies loved. “Even the chief has to take a break.”

“Do either of you want anything to eat or drink?” Nora asked, suddenly feeling like she should play the hostess.

Eli took her hand, guided her to the vacant chair across from the sofa and eased her down. “We don’t want anything and you need to be resting.”

Nora rolled her eyes. “I’m not dying, Eli. I’m pregnant. You’re a doctor—surely you know all of this already.”

Cameron laughed. “You really should take care of yourself. We want a healthy baby in April.”

While she hated being told what to do, Nora had to admit that being ordered around and protected by such handsome, sexy men did have its perks. Who was she to argue?

As soon as she was seated, Kerfluffle darted over to Nora’s lap and stretched out, obviously ready for some love. Why was the affection always on the cat’s terms? Did she own the house?

“Now that you’re here, I’ll head on out.” Cameron came to his feet. “I need to run by the station before I go home.”

“You might as well throw a cot in your office and sell your house,” Eli commented. “And pop in over at Mom and Dad’s because Mom was just saying how she hasn’t seen you. She’s worried.”

Cameron rubbed a hand over his face. His lids drooped and frown lines were becoming more evident. Whatever he was working on was draining the life out of him. Nora wanted him to relax and take some time off, but he was the chief and she highly doubted he’d ever get enough time off to truly benefit him.

“I’ll stop in,” he told Eli. “Nora, please call me anytime. If you hear anything about the break-in or if you need something done around here. Don’t sell just yet, okay?”

Eli’s head whipped around. “Sell?”

Grabbing his own coat by the door, Cameron laughed. “And that’s my cue to leave.”

Nora crossed her legs, rested one hand on her growing belly while the other stroked her tabby. “Stop staring at me, Eli. The Neanderthal thing is getting old.”

Resting his hands on his narrow hips, Eli continued to glare down at her. “Why are you moving? Todd always told me how much you loved this house.”

Nora closed her eyes, tipping her head back to rest on the cushion of the chair. “I do. But I can’t keep up, and with only one income, it’s just too much. The money from the VA went to the funeral. Todd had a meager savings, but apparently he had racked up some debt with a couple credit cards that I knew nothing about so the savings went to that. I’m just bouncing the idea around. It’s a hard decision.”

Suddenly Eli was beside her, sliding his strong fingers over hers. Nora stared at the image of his dark, scarred hands over her pale, delicate ones. When her eyes came up to meet his, she saw pain.

“I’m sorry, Nora. I know you guys shared some good times here—”

Nora couldn’t help the onslaught of tears as she shook her head. “No, we didn’t. That’s just it. There were no good times, Eli.”

Stupid pregnancy hormones. She hadn’t meant to blurt out the ugly truth hiding between these walls. The life she and Todd shared wasn’t picture-perfect, and while she’d love to blame him for the disaster that was their marriage, she had to be honest and take half of that blame. They were two loving people who never should’ve gotten married. Two people who should’ve remained friends and nothing more.

“Nora.” Eli reached up, cupping her face until she fully focused on him. “I’m not sure what went on with you and Todd, but I know he would want you to be happy.”

Oh, he had loved her in his own way, but not enough to stay married. Knowing that he wanted out of their marriage hurt her in a way she hadn’t expected. But it was his death, so abrupt, so final, that nearly killed her.