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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:34

Stepping back, he released her, hating the chill that enveloped him at the loss of her body’s heat. “I’ll be here Thursday to cook as promised. Saturday, if you don’t have plans, I have a surprise for you.”

“A surprise?” she asked, quirking a brow.

“A friend surprise,” he corrected. “You in?”

“I’m a little scared of your surprises,” she told him, crossing her arms over her chest. “I still remember that time you surprised me with a day at the lake, and when you talked me into skinny-dipping, your brothers had been hiding and they took my clothes. I still say you knew all about that.”

Eli had honestly forgotten that time, but as the memory flooded to the surface, he burst out laughing. “I can admit now that I knew they were up to something, but I didn’t think they’d take your clothes.”

“Why didn’t they take yours?” she asked, still smiling.

“They were teenage boys. They’d much rather see you naked than me.”

Biting her lip to suppress her grin, Nora nodded. “Well, as long as my Saturday surprise is nothing like that, then I’d be happy to free up my day for you.”

Warmth spread through him and he seriously felt like the nerd in school getting asked to the prom by the head cheerleader. Only this was Nora, and she was so much more than anything he’d ever been rewarded with.

“Great. I’ll be here tomorrow and dinner will be ready when you get home.”

She moved across the room and pulled out a drawer. “Here,” she said, holding a key out to him. “This is a spare. If you’re going to cook, you might as well keep it.”

A key to the kingdom…for a princess he didn’t deserve.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Grabbing his coat and leaving out the back door, Eli hurried home. The blast of cold air didn’t do a thing to help the heat spiraling through him after having his mouth, his hands, on Nora.

No more. He couldn’t do that to either of them again. He was only teasing himself into thinking he could have anything with her now. And she certainly had enough on her plate without worrying about him pawing at her again.

Tomorrow when he cooked for her, he’d be just her friend. Even if it killed him.

Saturday morning came with beautiful sunshine, melting some of the accumulated snow. Of course, when the temps dropped again tonight all that melting would be in vain as the watery mixture turned to ice. Strange weather for this small town, but she was actually enjoying the extra layer of wintery ambience for the Christmas season.

Nora couldn’t wait to see what Eli had in store for her today. And, as promised, he’d been the perfect gentleman the other night when he’d prepared dinner for her. So what did he have planned that was such a surprise?

She slid her feet into her knee boots and grabbed her purse. She assumed casual was the way to go since he was picking her up at ten in the morning.

What on earth could he have planned? Hopefully not too much alone time because the other night in her kitchen nearly caused her to cross every boundary she’d put up for herself. The way his hands had slid inside her robe as his mouth assaulted hers—the image they made kept rolling through her mind, arousing her even more.

Nora knew with certainty that the emotions she felt toward Eli had nothing to do with old memories jumbling up her mind. She was starting to have very strong feelings for the man he was now, the man who dropped everything to take over his father’s practice for a few months, the man who made sure to check in on her. He’d done so much with his life, just like he’d wanted, yet here he was putting that life on hold to care for those he loved.

And she knew he loved her, even if just on a friendship level. Eli loved her just as she did him. But they couldn’t cross over into the intimate territory. Never again.

As she came down the steps, her doorbell rang. Through the sidelight she could see more than one person.

Had he planned a party?

Crap. A party. She still hadn’t talked to him about an anniversary party for his parents. She seriously had to do that soon. Days were slipping away so fast lately.

When she opened the door and saw Bev standing beside him, Nora couldn’t help but smile. “Okay, now you’ve got me intrigued.”