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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:35

“What would you say to going shopping for baby furniture?” he asked with a wide grin. “My treat. No arguing. It’s my gift to you and the baby, but I figured you’d want a woman’s perspective so I brought Mom along. Drake is babysitting dad for a few hours before his shift.”

Joy filled her and Nora had no clue how to even respond to such a generous gift. “I don’t know what to say,” she told him.

Bev reached out, patted Nora’s arm. “You say thank you and hop in the truck.”

Laughing, Nora met Eli’s dark eyes. “Thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me.”

As much as she wanted to refuse such an overwhelming offer, Nora knew she’d be a fool to turn him down. Besides, Eli had gone to the trouble of getting someone to sit with his father and asking his mother to come. He obviously wanted to do this.

But was the gesture out of guilt or pity? Part of her wondered, but the other part of her prayed Eli’s kindness came out of their years of friendship. Actually, if his actions stemmed from anything akin to what they shared in her kitchen the other night, that was definitely not pity.

When they arrived at the store, Bev walked on ahead and Eli waited on Nora. Wet snow had started earlier in the morning and Nora’s foot slid on the pavement as she started to get out of the car.

“Easy,” he said, grabbing her elbow to assist. “Let me hold on to you until you get inside.”

“You’re not holding on to your mother.”

Eli laughed. “My mother isn’t pregnant.”

Nora laid a hand on his arm and stopped just inside the entrance to the store. “I meant what I said earlier, Eli. You have no idea how much this means to me.”

The tenderness in his eyes melted her heart. “I know what this means to you, Nora. I also know you’d never ask for help or let anyone know what you need. I don’t want you to worry about cost. Go get whatever you want for your baby girl.”

Unable to resist the moment, she reached out, wrapping her arms around his waist. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you in my life,” she whispered, trying to hold back the tears that seemed to accompany breathing lately. One day she’d break. An emotional meltdown was inevitable at this point.

“I’m the lucky one, Nora.”

His soft voice murmured against her ear, sending shivers down her spine. Another time, another place, flashed in her mind of him holding her, whispering promises of forever. But that was a lifetime and plenty of heartache ago.

Eli pulled back, smiled and tugged on her hand. “Come on. I’m sure Mom already has a buggy full of frilly things by now. We’d better get in there and control her.”

Eli stood back and examined all the pieces scattered across the hardwood floor. There was a reason he wasn’t an architect or engineer. He was used to fixing people, not inanimate objects.

He refused to be intimidated by something as simple as a baby crib. He had a PhD, for crying out loud. How could he not understand these directions written in plain English?

“What are you doing?”

He turned toward the door where Nora stood, arms crossed over her rounded belly.

“I’m putting the crib together.”

“Eli, you bought everything I’d ever need. I didn’t expect you to put the crib together.”

With her scrubs on and her hair pulled back in a low bun, she looked adorable…as usual. Lately everything about her set off some level of hormones with him.

“Not that I’m not grateful, but isn’t this your night to cook?” she asked, a smile flirting over her unpainted lips.

“It’s in the Crock-Pot. I put it on at Mom’s this morning and brought it over after work so I could concentrate on this crib.”

“Why don’t you leave it and let’s go eat.”

He glanced at the neatly separated piles of various sizes of screws, slats and bolts. The directions—printed in what he was sure was three-point font—crinkled in his hands and he tossed it down.

“You’re right. This could be a while and I need sustenance.”

Before he could walk out, Nora laid a hand on his arm and looked up at him. That gentle touch never failed to send a high dose of sensations through him. Nora may be delicate, but she held all the power where he was concerned.