Page 44

Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:37

Eli closed his eyes, sighed and shook his head before lifting his lids and meeting her gaze again. “Honestly, Nora, right now I’m not sure what I’m doing. All I know is that when I’m with you I have all these feelings…”

He pushed off and turned from her. Nora wasn’t sure what to say, afraid that any words might ruin the moment, might ruin the sliver of a chance they still had. How long had she been hanging on to that sliver and not even known it?

A family walked through, the mom pushing a stroller and the dad with a little boy atop his shoulders. An ache in Nora’s chest pulled her from the moment. A family is all she’d ever wanted. A stable family, a simple home, a loving husband and kids that would cause chaos.

Eli turned back to her, took her hand and started walking. Silence settled between them and she truly had no clue what shaky ground they’d just landed on, but she had a feeling they were just at the beginning of whatever journey fate had planned for them.

Eli stopped at a vendor selling hot chocolate and got two, handing a warm, steaming cup to her.

“I’m sure the baby will love the sugar jolt,” he joked as he sipped from his cup.

Nora was about to respond when a horse and carriage went by. Smiling, Nora glanced at Eli.

“Come on,” he said, taking her free hand. “No need to give me the puppy-dog eyes.”

Nora laughed as Eli led her to the park information area. In no time they were climbing on board their very own white carriage with red velvet seats. An oversize black fur blanket awaited them and Eli was quick to settle it across their laps.

“Good evening,” their driver called over his shoulder. “Just sit back and enjoy the ride.”

Eli’s arm came around her shoulders and Nora snuggled against his warm side. She would most definitely enjoy the ride. How could she feel anything but excitement and anticipation now that Eli had revealed his feelings? But apparently he waged an inner war with himself over the matter.

There was so much about this man that contradicted the life she wanted, the family she longed for.

He’d seen things she couldn’t even imagine, had lived on his own for so long. He made a life when he left here, a life that didn’t include her. Had he really reconsidered?

“I can hear you thinking,” he whispered in her ear. “Relax.”

Nora’s baby kicked and squirmed a bit, a sensation Nora never grew tired of. She placed her gloved hands over her coat and waited for more. This was the life she’d dreamed of years ago, a wintery carriage ride through the park with Eli, a family of their own…

But this family wasn’t theirs.

Nora closed her eyes and settled her head on Eli’s shoulder. How could she deny herself when this may be the second chance they both deserved?

Nora flipped her sign to Closed and sagged back against the door. She’d sent her receptionist home early and stayed behind for the scheduled pickups and emergencies, but this was her late night and her feet were killing her.

At least her ankles hadn’t started swelling yet. At what point in the pregnancy would that blessed event take place? Thankfully the nausea had stopped a week or so ago—an early Christmas present from God.

Her belly growled and Nora knew the peanut butter and crackers she’d snacked on all day had gone directly to the baby. Flipping the lights off as she moved through the office, Nora’s mind drifted to her house where Eli would be cooking for her. She loved the one night a week he’d taken it upon himself to be her personal chef. What woman wouldn’t want that?

Milo, one of the dogs currently boarded, darted between her feet and Nora had to grab on to the wall to keep from tripping. “You silly pup. Come on in the back.”

She took him to his room where he stayed at night and gave him his favorite treat. “See you in the morning,” she told him with a kiss to his wet nose.

Nora grabbed her purse and keys, set the alarm—an insisted-upon early Christmas present from Mac and Bev—and headed out the back door. She hated leaving when it was dark, especially since the break-in, but the sun set so early in the winter, she really had little choice in the matter.

As she settled into her car, her cell rang. Cameron’s name lit up the screen.