There was just something about a baby that made life seem so innocent and simple.
Nora shrugged out of her coat and hung it by the door. Tugging off her gloves and hat she hung them up, too.
She’d just finished her bowl of chili when Eli came stomping up the back steps. Nora went to open the door for him and was greeted with a blast of arctic air.
“You really didn’t have to freeze just to put lights up for me, you know.”
He pulled off his black knit hat. “I was trying to get them done before you got home, but I ran late at the clinic today and then the whole dad thing.”
Nora sat her bowl in the sink and turned to lean against the counter, her arms crossed over her belly. “Did you eat?”
“Yeah, right before I went outside.”
“Oh, Cam called when I was on my way home. He’s going to be out of commission for a few days. He said he already talked to your mom and dad, but he didn’t want you worrying.”
Eli nodded, shoving his hands in his pockets. “He’s working on a big case. I have no clue what. Even Megan doesn’t have a clue and he tells her everything.”
Yeah, Megan was his best friend since grade school. Those two were as close as siblings, but he always confided in her before anyone else, which really worried Nora.
“He sounded so tired.”
“He’s a big boy,” Eli told her. “He’ll be fine. But whatever he’s working on is taking a toll on him.”
Crossing the room, Eli came to stand right in front of her, placing his hands on her shoulders. “How are you doing? Is work getting too much for you?”
“Not yet,” she assured him, loving the feel of the weight of his hands. “I’m actually taking a half day tomorrow because I have a doctor’s appointment and then I’m running by my Realtor’s office to see a couple of listings she printed off for me.”
Eli frowned. “Do you love this house?”
Yes, she did. But being a single mother taking care of a home this size, the financial burden and the memories were all driving her out.
“I’ll love a different house,” she told him with a smile.
“Answer my question. Do you love this one?”
She looked directly into his eyes and nodded. “Yes.”
“Then let me help you figure out a way to stay here.”
He was asking as a friend who cared for her, so she smiled. “Fine, but I need to at least have plan B in place in case we can’t figure it out.”
“I’ll agree to that.” His warm smile spread across his face as he dropped his hands from her shoulders. “I want to come with you.”
He smoothed her hair behind her ears and rubbed his hands down her arms. “The doctor’s appointment and the real estate office.”
“You already closed early the day my office got broken into. If you cut out early again your dad will most definitely set up camp there to make sure you’re doing things the right way.”
Eli laughed. “Don’t even give him the idea.”
“Listen, it’s just a regular checkup. I’m not having an ultrasound or anything.”
Eli drew his brows together and sighed. “Fine. I just hate you doing this alone.”
She reached out, wrapped her arms around his waist and settled her cheek against his warm sweatshirt. “I’m not alone. I have you and your entire family. I couldn’t be alone if I wanted to.”
His hands came up to cup her face, turning her to meet his gaze. “Is that what you want? To be alone?”
The way his husky voice filled the room seemed to make that innocent question take on a whole new meaning.
Nora shrugged. “I’ve been alone most of my life. Even when I lived with my mother she was hardly around. Then when I graduated she moved, you went into the army and your parents let me live in the apartment over your garage. I dated, but never found someone until Todd. Then he was always deployed and now…I guess I don’t know any other way.”
Eli’s strong hands stroked her face as he took another half step toward her, closing any gap that had been between them.
Nora swallowed as his dark blue eyes bore into hers. “Maybe I’m tired of being alone, too,” he murmured. “Maybe, just for tonight, we should take what we want, what we’ve been dancing around since I came back.”