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

Tears pricked her eyes. Damn it. She didn’t even know what to feel anymore. If she could have anything she wanted, she’d take Eli back into her life, and they’d fall in love and live happily ever after. But that wasn’t reality and Nora would do good to remember that.

Closing her eyes, she allowed the tears to flow. She hated crying, hated the vulnerability that overcame her. More than anything she hated letting anyone else see her as anything but strong.

She knew this moment would come, when she’d be unable to hold back the dam of emotions. Maybe she needed to let go. Getting rid of all the angst, the worry, the fear she’d kept bottled up for so long was long overdue.

Once she cried herself to the point of a headache, Nora wiped her damp face and pushed back her hair. Eli needed her and that’s what she would focus on. She had no choice but to be strong just a bit longer around him. She didn’t want him to see her visibly upset because he had some guilt that seemed to shadow him at all times.

And Nora had a feeling that guilt stemmed from something she knew nothing about.

Eli shifted, rolled over and opened his eyes. Blinking twice he focused on the beauty in his bed. That vision could cure any ailment.

With her blond hair spread around the pillow, his pillow, and her delicate hand beneath her cheek, Nora even slept like an angel. How long had his guardian been keeping watch over him?

Eli sat up and the room spun just a bit. Lethargy and an empty stomach were definitely things he could handle. Thankfully his fever was gone.

More than once he thought he woke to someone stroking a cold cloth across his head, his chest. Now he knew for a fact someone had and that someone was Nora. She’d sacrificed herself again and he didn’t deserve her undying loyalty.

Todd hadn’t deserved it, either.

Nora was a true gem and, in Eli’s opinion, better than anybody. But she needed to get out of here. She needed to start keeping her distance because, God help him, he wanted more. He wanted her, and the sight of her tangled in his sheets only solidified the ache, the want.

After he carefully walked to the bathroom and gave himself a few minutes to freshen up so he didn’t look like death warmed over, he went back into the living area and crossed to the bed.

Easing down on the edge of the mattress, Eli laid a hand on Nora’s delicate shoulder. A very unladylike snore filled the silence and Eli couldn’t help but smile. She’d die if she knew she sounded like a farm animal. And even that tiny imperfection only made her that much more adorable.

Damn it. Now he was thinking of terms like adorable. His brothers would punch him in the face if they knew.

Eli slid his free hand over the scar above his eye. Wouldn’t be the first time he’d gotten into a fight where this woman was concerned…and he’d do it again in a second to defend her.

Glancing at the clock, he was surprised to see it was almost noon. Thankfully it was Saturday.

“Nora,” he said softly.

She stirred, her lids blinking open. She looked across the room, then up to him. In a second she sat straight up and put a hand to his face.

“Eli, are you all right? Why are you up?” She scrambled to get the sheet from her waist. “You should’ve yelled for me. I didn’t mean to sleep so long.”

Eli placed both hands on her shoulders, easing her back down on the bed. “Calm down, Nora. I’m just fine.”

Her brows drew together as she reached up to feel his forehead. “Your fever is gone. Thank God. I was hoping those cold cloths and the meds would help. But how do you feel?”

“When a man wakes up to a beautiful woman in his bed, he feels pretty damn good.”

Nora rolled her eyes. “I’m serious.”

“Well, you must feel fine since you’re hitting on me.” She started to get up, but Eli placed a hand on either side of her hips, trapping her beneath the sheet. “Why the hurry?”

“Because…well, just because.”

Rendering her speechless was quite a compliment. Eli smiled. “How are you feeling? Baby still moving okay?”

Nora nodded. “She’s pretty active.”

Eli wanted to feel the baby, wanted to lay his hand on her stomach, but what right did he have? This wasn’t his child, wasn’t his woman. But a part of him wished desperately that both belonged to him.