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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:40

“Your brother is not my keeper,” she whispered before turning her attention to Patty. “Bring Mr. Bojangles into the living room.”

Kerfluffle pounced from the couch, arched her back and stretched, all while watching the newcomer suspiciously.

“Take Kerfluffle into the kitchen, please,” she told Drake.

As Nora examined Patty’s feline companion, she came to the conclusion she always did where her best customer was concerned—nothing was wrong.

“Patty, Mr. Bojangles looks perfect to me. I’m sure the cold weather may be annoying to him, but he really is a healthy kitty.”

Patty nodded. “I just never know and I worry if I hear him breathing funny.”

The middle-aged woman had no children and housed as many as eight cats. She was in Nora’s office at least once a week.

“How much do I owe you?” Patty offered, taking out her wallet.

“Nothing,” Nora assured her with a smile. “I’ll be out of the office until Tuesday, so I’m sure I’ll see you next week.”

“Christmas is on Friday. Will you be out on Christmas Eve?”

Nora forced her smile to remain in place. “I’m sure I’ll be in, just not sure how late that night.”

After ushering the woman and her cat out the door, Nora went back to her post on the couch just as Drake came in with Kerfluffle.

“I don’t know why you still let people come to your house,” he muttered, handing Kerfluffle over.

Nora stroked her cat as she curled up in her lap. “It’s a small town, everyone knows where I live. I can’t tell them to quit showing up, that would be rude. Besides, it’s not that often and I kind of like knowing I’m needed.”

Drake picked up the remote and clicked on the television. “You’ll be needed a hell of a lot more once this baby comes.”

Elation spread through her. “I can’t wait.”

Drake propped his feet up on the ottoman that matched her oversize chair and tapped the remote on his leg. “You’re going to be a great mother, Nora. I can’t wait to see the little one.”

Nora started to tear up; she couldn’t help it. The thought of her baby actually being loved and held by everyone who meant so much to Nora just consumed her. She couldn’t help but wonder if she’d look like Todd with his black hair and dark eyes or if she’d have her blond hair and light eyes.

“Oh, no. Please, if you cry Eli will definitely kill me.”

Nora laughed and swiped at her face. “Trust me, he knows all about these pregnancy hormones. He’s experienced them.”

Resting his elbow on the arm of the chair, Drake smiled. “You and my brother have gotten pretty close since he’s been home.”

“We have a history,” she said with a shrug. “I don’t really know what we’re doing, to be honest.”

“He’s never gotten over you, Nora.” All serious now, Drake held her gaze. “When he left, he never planned on coming back, but then he got the itch to become a doctor and went to medical school. After that, I think he was coming back home.”

This was all news to Nora. “Why did he reenlist again?”

Drake shrugged. “Not sure, really. He just told Mom and Dad that he’d changed his mind.”

Why didn’t she know he’d mentioned coming home after medical school? Not once had he reached out to her during that time. Had he come home years ago, would they have gotten back together? Would she have ever started talking to Todd?

Before she could question him further, her doorbell rang again.

“If that’s another crazy cat lady…” Drake growled as he came to his feet.

“Excuse me? I’m a crazy cat lady, pal, so knock off the snarky comments.”

He laughed as he passed by the couch and went to open the door. Nora glanced around again and smiled at the little redheaded boy who lived two doors down.

“Can I see Dr. Nora? My dog ate my mom’s Christmas present.”

Drake stepped back and laughed. “She’s right in there, Brody.”

As Brody approached, Kerfluffle darted off her lap and ran toward the Christmas tree in the corner where she started swatting at the ball of yarn ornament Nora hung there for her in hopes it would keep her from wandering through the tree.