“Nora?” Alarm laced Eli’s voice. “What is it?”
“Just a little cramping.” She let out a deep breath and opened her eyes, meeting his worried gaze. “It’s okay. I’ve been having them since this morning.”
“What did your doctor say?”
Nora bit her lip and shrugged. “The baby is healthy. Her heart rate is right where it should be and she’s measuring right on target for the due date.”
“What aren’t you telling me?”
He always knew when she was lying or holding something back. Everything with him always circled back to that unbreakable bond they shared…and the new one they’d formed.
“She put me on bed rest until Monday.”
“Were you going to tell me that?”
Eli narrowed his eyes. “After I pried it out of you. Seriously, Nora, it’s okay to lean on people. You’re obviously going to need help for the next five days.”
She groaned and dropped her head back on the cushion. “I don’t have time for this. I need to work to pay my bills. This is ridiculous.”
“Have you found a replacement for when you take maternity leave?”
Nora shook her head. “I know a guy who works a couple towns over. He did mention he could help out a few days a week. I was hoping to find someone full-time, but I may have to settle for him. At least I trust him.”
“Then see if he can fill in for you until Tuesday.”
Rubbing her belly, Nora nodded. “I already sent him a message. I’m waiting to hear back.”
“I take it you didn’t make it to the Realtor?”
“Good. I’m still trying to figure out a way to keep the house. Just don’t make any decisions without talking to me first. Promise?”
Nora knew arguing was a moot point, so she simply nodded.
When Eli’s fingers started kneading one of her feet, Nora couldn’t hold back the groan that escaped her. When was the last time anyone gave her a foot massage?
Silence enveloped them and Nora had to fight to stay awake. The fact she could relax around Eli and let her worries go really spoke volumes for how much she cared for him. She’d never been this at ease with anyone.
Oh, she’d loved Todd as a friend and had trusted him, but there was always something missing. Her heart had always felt a void.
“I’ll have Drake swing by during the day to check on you,” he told her.
Nora lifted one lid. “I’ll be fine, Eli. I can take care of myself. I’ll just be lazy, sit here on my couch and watch home improvement shows all day.”
“Someone will be checking on you,” he insisted.
Loving his protective instinct and hating his no-room-for-argument tone at the same time, Nora sighed and focused her full attention on him.
“Listen, you all have enough going on with your dad and your work schedules. The doctor didn’t say I couldn’t fix myself food or walk around. I’m just supposed to take it easy because my blood pressure was high and I have some swelling.” She held his gaze, noting the muscle ticking in his jaw. “Besides, if you hadn’t come back I’d still be in this situation and I’d be taking care of myself, anyway.”
Eli leaned across her legs, keeping his eyes locked on hers. “But I am back and I am going to take care of you. Try to keep me out and I’ll use my key.”
Nora laughed. “I knew that would come back to bite me in the butt.”
His hands rubbed her legs as he returned her smile. This is what she craved, the simple pleasure of being snuggled on the couch, talking with the one you loved. Of course she could do without the bed rest part, but still. Is this how things would’ve been had she and Eli never broken up?
More than once she regretted not following him, but she just couldn’t. She’d been shuffled around so much in life that when she’d come to Stonerock, she’d fallen in love with the old-fashioned town with no stoplights and cute little shops lining Main Street and the people who welcomed her with open arms, continuing to love her after her mother had moved on once again.
“I’ll get you something to eat,” Eli offered. “Any requests?”