His father’s newest nurse was straight from school, quiet, and one rarely knew she was around. Quite the opposite from Lulu.
When Eli pulled the chart from the slot, he paused. Maybe he couldn’t wait to get back to the job he’d trained for, but that meant leaving Nora…again. He’d known this would be hard, and that’s the main reason he’d stayed out of her bed. Well, that and because she was beyond vulnerable.
Coughing into his arm, Eli flipped open the chart, recognizing the name of the elderly gentleman waiting on the other side of the door. That was something else he wouldn’t have in Atlanta. He rarely knew a patient in a town of that size.
And that was how he liked it, right? Eli shook off the questions swirling around in his mind. He couldn’t stay. It wasn’t an option. That didn’t mean he didn’t care for Nora and her child, though.
Caring for someone didn’t mean you had to give up your goals and forget everything you’d worked for. He could still care for her from a distance; they could still remain friends. And when the time came for her to remarry…
A heavy weight settled into his chest. The last thing Eli wanted was to see Nora fall in love and marry again. The first time had nearly killed him. But who was he to ask for more? The last thing she needed was for him to express that he may be falling for her again.
The sound that greeted Eli when he came in the door really made his day. Nora’s laughter filtered through the house, as did that of his brother’s. Lord help him, his mind immediately went back to when they were all teens.
After the morning with Maddie and her questionable bread, he’d treated three positive cases of the flu. That made ten total since he’d arrived home.
And he refused to believe his lethargic state had anything to do with that dreaded bug. He could not, would not, get sick. He’d actually tested himself before he left and the swab came back negative. Thank God.
This is precisely why he preferred traumas. Besides the fact the work environment was fast paced and ever changing, he wouldn’t contract any and all viruses.
Still wearing his coat, Eli went into the family room in the back of the house. Nora’s feet were propped up on Cam’s lap and Eli had to clench his fists. They were friends, this meant nothing. Besides, what claim did Eli have over Nora? None whatsoever.
“That house is not even an option,” Nora said, still laughing. “I can’t believe the agent considered that one. Seriously?”
Eli leaned his shoulder against the doorframe. “You’re already looking at another house?”
Nora snapped her head around and glanced up him, her smile still in place. “It’s time I started.”
“I just put that crib together the other day. Does that mean I’m going to have to disassemble it to get it out of the room?”
Her smile faded. “Well, I haven’t found a house yet and I’ve no doubt this baby will come before I actually move.”
“Eli, are you all right?” his mother asked from the other side of the room where she sat next to his father. “You seem…grouchy.”
He raked a hand over his face. “I’m just… I’ll be out in the apartment if anyone needs me.”
The questioning gazes annoyed him. He hated the fact that he was obviously the mood spoiler, but seeing Nora so cozied up with his brother, plus the fact she was looking for another house when he knew damn well she loved the one she was in, just got to him. Besides, he’d told her he’d find a way to help her keep her house.
How many times over the years had Nora made herself at home exactly like the scene he’d just witnessed? She truly was part of his family whether he was comfortable with it or not. Hell, she’d spent more time with his family in the past several years than he had.
Eli made his way out to the garage and up to the apartment. Obviously his father was being taken care of for the evening, but he’d check on his parents again before he turned in for the night. First things first, he needed to get something to eat. Maybe that would help him feel better. Eli moved through the open floor plan and into the kitchen. Before he could fully study the contents in his fridge, the garage door closed below and footsteps sounded on the stairs.