Watching the door to the living area, he wasn’t at all surprised to see Nora step through the door. Worry filled her eyes as she stared across the room.
“Did you have a bad day?” she asked, still holding on to the doorknob and standing in the doorway as if she didn’t know if she’d be invited in or not.
“Just busy. I didn’t mean to snap at you. You’re the last person I would ever be mean to.” He rested his palms on the edge of the counter and dropped his head between his shoulders. “I was caught off guard with everyone here, more caught off guard that you’d gone and talked to a Realtor.”
“I told you I needed to,” she informed him.
“You love the house you’re in,” he told her, pushing off the counter and crossing the room. “I hate that you feel you need to move because you don’t have Todd to help anymore.”
Nora shrugged. “It’s okay. Life happens and I just have to make the most of what I’m dealing with.”
He took her hand off the knob and closed the door behind her. How easy would it be to throw away everything and just stay here with her? How easy would a life with this breath of fresh air be? But what right did he have to think he could be included in anything regarding her life? He’d thrown it away once before.
Nora reached up, touched his face and frowned. “Eli, you’re pretty warm.”
“I’m not feeling too good actually.”
“Why didn’t you say something sooner?” she demanded.
Eli shrugged and moved back into the kitchen. “It’s no big deal.”
“Get back in here and lie down. I’ll make your dinner. And you’re having soup.”
Eli chuckled, heading back into the living area. “I’m not arguing.”
Her hard gaze softened as she looked down at him. “Now I know you must feel bad.”
Resting his head against the back of the couch, Eli groaned. “This isn’t how this works. I’m the doctor.”
“Looks like you’re the patient to me.”
Before she moved away, Eli grabbed her arm. “Go home, Nora. I can’t let you catch whatever bug I’ve got. I tested negative for the flu earlier, but who knows what this is. Could just be a quick twenty-four-hour thing, but still. I won’t be responsible for you getting sick.”
“I’ll wash my hands and make sure to stay back from your face.” Nora’s beautiful smile spread across her face. “You honestly think I’m just going to leave you when you have no energy and you feel this bad? What kind of friend do you think I am?”
Her eyes held his a little longer before she pulled from his grasp and went into the kitchen. If he’d felt better he would have ventured to explore the heat, the friction, that had been bouncing back and forth between them for weeks.
“You need to get out of all those layers and try to get that temp down,” she called to him. Eli hated that she was right, but he was starting to shiver and the thought of taking any clothes off made him colder. But he had to get this fever down. Of all times to be sick, he couldn’t afford to be out of commission now.
After shrugging out of his shirt, he toed off his shoes, letting them thump to the floor between the sofa and the small table. His jeans went next, leaving him in his black boxer briefs and socks. Not the way he’d imagined stripping down when being with Nora again.
“Do you even feel like eating?” she called from the kitchen. “Maybe just some crackers for now?”
“That might be best.”
He heard her opening and closing cabinets, then the rattle of a bag. When she came around the couch to hand him the package, her eyes fixed on his bare chest.
“If I felt better I’d take you up on the offer of that look in your eyes,” he muttered.
She thrust the crackers at him and quirked a brow. “If you felt better your shirt wouldn’t be off.”
Eli nibbled on a cracker, praying that he’d feel himself by morning. When Nora rustled around more in his kitchen, then in his bathroom, he wondered what she was doing, but she came back with some medicine and sat on the coffee table directly in front of him.