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

He’d still not gotten that very heated kiss and make-out session out of his head. How could he go on like he hadn’t tasted her, felt her? Nora was a very passionate woman and he wanted to rediscover that passion more than anything.

But this was not his place. Another man later down the road would steal her heart and Eli would have to stand back and watch.

“Please don’t feel like you need to do everything, Eli.” Her big blue eyes studied him. “I know Todd was your friend, but that doesn’t mean you have to take over where he left off.”

Eli gripped Nora’s shoulders, easing his face closer to hers. “You think I’m doing this for Todd? I’m doing this for you, because I care about you.”

Nora shook her head. “Eli—”

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“No, Nora.” He made sure to keep his touch light, even though he wanted to shake some sense in her. “Everything I do for you is because I can’t stand back and not do it. I can’t help the feelings I have for you. I’ve tried to ignore them, but…damn it, Nora, I can’t.”

Her mouth parted as she gasped. “You can’t have feelings for me, Eli. If you do, they’re just old ones.”

Taking his hands and framing her face, Eli stroked her jawline. “These aren’t old feelings.”

Her lids dipped down for a moment before she met his gaze again. “There’s too much I want, Eli. Too much that you can’t give, and right now I have to concentrate on this baby and the very real possibility of moving. I can’t face these emotions I have for you.”

The selfish side of him was thrilled she’d admitted she actually had feelings for him. But the other side of him cursed himself for making her feel torn.

Eli placed a gentle kiss on her lips and rested his forehead against hers.

“Nora, I’m here. Whether you need a friend, or anything else, I don’t want you to be afraid to come to me.”

She nodded, gripping his wrists. “I’ve missed you, Eli.”

That soft statement packed a punch right to his gut. Damn, he’d missed her, too. Missed her so much he’d been ready to forget reenlisting in the army, especially since he’d finished his degree. He’d been ready to come home and see if they still had a chance.

But then she and Todd had gotten married.

After the wedding, he’d been afraid to visit too often when he was actually in the States, been afraid he’d see all that he’d let go in order to travel the world and enjoy his freedom.

“Let’s go get some dinner,” he suggested, pulling away. “I’m going to need a supervisor, putting this crib together.”

He linked his hand in hers and led her toward the kitchen. The seed had been planted. Nora was very well aware of where he stood right now, and if she wanted to do anything about it, the proverbial ball was in her court.

Eli didn’t know what scared him more—if Nora didn’t act on her feelings…or if she did.

Friday morning meant another week closer to getting back to Atlanta and another week closer to leaving Nora and her baby. In some weird, twisted way he’d come to think of himself as the expectant daddy. He’d felt the little life move beneath his palm, had put together the nursery furniture and had even helped Nora research diapers and formula.

And he’d found himself Christmas shopping for Nora after he’d gone home last night. A Christmas present, for pity’s sake. He needed to chill out and stop letting his hormones override common sense.

Eli picked up the chart from the door holder and glanced at the name. With a sigh he pushed the door open, ready to get this day behind him because he had a terrible feeling he was coming down with something. The headache and sore throat were one thing, but he was worried he was running a low-grade fever.

“Maddie, how are you feeling today?” he asked as he entered the exam room.

The elderly woman, who’d now donned some type of velour zebra-striped sweat suit, merely shrugged her shoulders. “Not much different than when I was in here a couple weeks ago.”

Eli set the file down on the edge of the counter and leaned back against the edge, crossing his arms over his chest. “So you’re really just checking up on me?”