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

“Now, Eli, I have better things to do with my time than to check up on you.” She pursed her bright red lips together and let out a big sigh. “I want you to look at my wrist.”

His eyes darted down to her hands in her lap. “What did you do to your wrist?”

Shoving her sleeve partway up her forearm, she held out her frail-looking wrist for his inspection. “I was exercising on my pole and one hand slipped. I landed on this one.”

Exercising on my pole were words he really didn’t need to hear coming from a senior citizen who used to threaten his life with her rolling pin.

Eli examined her wrist, careful of his touch as he rotated it, had her wiggle her fingers and apply pressure to his.

“This looks like a sprain, but I’d like to send you over for an X-ray just in case. The swelling isn’t too bad. Have you been putting ice on it?”

Maddie shook her head. “I didn’t have time. I baked some bread for you before I came in.”

Eli resisted the urge to groan because who knew what flavor she’d concocted this time. “You need to take care of yourself, Maddie.”

Reaching over with her good hand, she took a loaf from her purse. “I hope you like pumpernickel banana. Until you tell me what you like, I’ll keep making up my own blend.”

Eli took the loaf, laughed and nodded. “Maddie, I won’t be here long enough for you to worry about my favorite kind.”

She harrumphed before taking her cane and sliding off the table. “I’ve heard you’ve been spending time at a certain vet’s house.”

Of course she’d heard. This town was too small, the people too nosy, for anything to remain private. Reason number four hundred and eighty-two for him to get back to Atlanta.

“Stonerock is an addicting town,” she went on. “You’re back now and I bet if you think about it, you’ll agree that fate has handed you a second chance at where you should actually be.”

Eli studied her. “Are you getting philosophical on me?”

“Just stating a fact. Your father will retire soon. This surgery might be just the eye-opener you both needed.”

Eli wrote out her order for an X-ray and waited until she shuffled out of the room. He eyed the bread and started to toss it in the trash like he did the last one, but that seemed cruel.

The first time he’d been skeptical, but she was obviously extending the proverbial olive branch to him.

Still, pumpernickel and banana? He chuckled. He picked up the loaf and headed to the front desk where Lulu was typing away on the computer, doing actual work on insurance claims. He tossed the foil-wrapped surprise onto the desk and smiled.

Lulu glanced over at him, looking over the top of her rhinestone-rimmed glasses. “Oh, honey, I can’t eat that. Too many carbs. I like to save my carbs for my margaritas.”

Eli shrugged. “I won’t eat it, either. Just the combination sounds disgusting.”

Lulu took a sip from the plastic cup she’d brought from home. That cup was always on her desk and Eli knew his father had never asked what was in it—Eli flat out didn’t want to know. But as flighty as she seemed with the whole bimbo facade going, she really did run this office smoothly. He didn’t catch her working often, but everything was always done on time and in an orderly manner.

Lulu set her cup down and slid off her glasses as she smiled. “Maddie always brought your dad cinnamon raisin bread. You might as well tell her your favorite or she’ll keep giving you odd mixtures for spite.”

Eli laughed, shaking his head. “So she told me. What’s your favorite? I’ll tell her that because I’m not sticking around long enough for it to matter.”

“Give it to Sarah. That girl can use a few added pounds. But if Maddie can do a vodka-flavored bread, I’ll take it.” Lulu donned her sparkly glasses and went back to typing. “Such a shame you’re not staying, though. I think you’re fitting in nicely here.”

No, he wasn’t. He was merely filling in for his father and then Eli would be back to Atlanta, hopefully heading up the trauma unit. He couldn’t wait.

As he walked back down the hall, Sarah had just put another file into the slot. “Rooms one and two have patients,” the young girl told him.