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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:36

“Take this,” she told him. “We need to get that fever down.”

Feeling ridiculous shivering in his underwear and socks—could this moment get more humiliating?—he eyed her over the meds. “Please, Nora. Go on home. I’ll take this, crawl into bed and hopefully sleep it off.”

Her eyes narrowed. “You’re sick.”

“Which is precisely why you need to go.”

“I’ve been in here for a half hour. If I’m going to get it, I’ve already contracted it. I promise I’ll be fine.”

On a groan, he closed his eyes and rested his head against the back of the sofa cushion. “I don’t have the energy to argue.”

He waited for her to go, waited to hear the door close, but silence enveloped him and, before long, he drifted off.

After Nora called to the main house and informed Bev that Eli was sick, Bev tried to get her to go home. No way. Right now all Nora cared about was Eli and taking care of him.

Her baby rolled and Nora froze. That was new. Kicks here and there were becoming more and more common, but that felt like a flip. With her hand on the chair and another on her belly, Nora stood still and watched Eli sleep on the sofa. He was wiped out. Between taking care of her, his father, his father’s practice, it was no wonder.

Guilt slid through her. She should’ve refused his help. All of his downtime had been spent with her or his father. He needed time for himself, but having him around brought out the selfish side of her. She wanted to be with him all the time, wanted to talk to him, make new memories with him.

Eli had zero intention of staying, yet she found herself wondering, wishing. And she didn’t have those teenage dreams in her mind like before. Now she knew full well that the chances of them being together were slim to none. That wouldn’t stop her from enjoying him while he was here.

When Nora was sure her daughter was finished working on her Olympic routine, she crossed the space between her and Eli and felt his head. His fever was coming down. A sheen of perspiration covered him from the breaking fever.

As a concerned friend, she couldn’t take her eyes off him. She wanted to be here if he needed anything when he woke.

But as a woman, she couldn’t help but admire his chiseled physique. He’d been a muscular guy in school, always lifting weights with his brothers, always tinkering with cars. But now as a man those shoulders had nearly doubled in size. Taut skin stretched over rippling muscles across his back, shoulders and arms. A tattoo on his back curved up over his shoulder and she knew it went around to the front of his pec. He hadn’t had that when he’d left town at eighteen.

He hadn’t had that scar across his brow and down onto his cheek, either. That was very new because he’d been home for a visit a year ago and she hadn’t seen it.

So much had happened to him since he left. A lifetime, really. But the man who had come home, the man she was now caring for, was taking her heart again and there was no way she could stop him.

Nora shoved her hair out of her face and sighed. She had no place in his life, no reason to know what happened when he’d been overseas fighting for their country.

Knowing he’d been hurt bothered her in more ways than one. She hated the thought of him being injured, but more than that she hated she wasn’t part of his life enough to know, enough to show him she cared.

So here she sat, pregnant with her late husband’s baby, falling for her first love all over again and scared to death of the future. She was a mess.

Yawning, Nora crossed the room to turn on a small lamp. After turning off all the other lights, she moved to the bed, which was on the far wall. The open floor plan worked to her advantage because she could lie there and still see him and hear if he woke and needed anything.

The garage light outside illuminated the window on the opposite wall. Snow started falling again. Being stuck in Eli’s apartment on a cold winter night was not a bad place to be. She only wished she could be in his room, in his bed, under different conditions.

Unable to resist, she snuggled her head deeper into his pillow, inhaling his strong, masculine scent. Was she wrong in not resisting her feelings toward Eli? Because, as the days went on, her feelings for him deepened.