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

Nora needed to know where he stood because he didn’t want to lead her on, but then again, maybe he wasn’t. What if he did stay? What if he took over his father’s practice permanently?

He laughed as he pulled out a pan from beneath the stove. Was he really leaning toward staying in Stonerock?

Yes, he was. And to be honest, he’d been considering it since he realized he’d fallen in love with Nora all over again. He’d been ready to come back years ago before she married Todd, so why not now? How could he leave her knowing this second chance was practically his for the taking? That Nora was the only woman who would ever fill the void in his heart? He didn’t have to let the past or Todd rule his future, not when being with Nora was just within his reach.

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Eli started chopping onions and putting them into the pan to sauté. He added a drop of olive oil to the onions, sending them sizzling in the pan. Apparently he had more to talk to Nora about than he’d first thought. Now he couldn’t wait for her to wake up.

A future with her…isn’t that what he’d always longed for? In all the places he’d been, with all the lives he’d saved, there had still been that piece missing from his life. But since he’d been back home, back in Nora’s arms, he’d felt whole for the first time since he was eighteen years old.

Now he only hoped Nora was ready for him to be a part of her family, because he had no intention of going anywhere.

This may very well be the best Christmas ever.

Nora woke to a darkened room, only a soft glow from down the hall cut a narrow slant of light across the foot of her bed. A bit disoriented, she glanced at the clock. It was nearly eight. Good grief, she’d napped earlier when Drake was here, then had gotten up and gone back to bed because she was still exhausted. Being pregnant really messed up a body’s system.

Or perhaps she’d just been going on autopilot for so long, since Todd’s death, her body was finally just catching up.

She eyed the box next to the old antique dresser. The thought of digging into Todd’s personal things gripped her heart. She wanted to know about his life away from her, but at the same time maybe she should just let it go. She’d buried him with honors and she had a baby coming to hold up his memory.

No, she owed it to her baby to face the truth. Her baby would ask questions one day and Nora needed to have the answers. But she couldn’t go through the box now, not when she was still being babysat.

Perhaps once Eli went home to sleep…if he went home. He hadn’t stayed last night, but he’d threatened to tonight. She’d insisted last night he go home, but she had a feeling he wouldn’t let her get away with that again.

The scent of spaghetti sauce and bread drew her to the kitchen. She was positive her bedhead ponytail had seen better times, like at eight this morning, but she figured her head warden had seen her at her worst, anyway.

When she stepped into the kitchen, Eli faced away from her, staring out the patio onto the darkened night.

“Penny for your thoughts?” she asked as she crossed to him.

Turning, Eli greeted her with a smile and opened his arms to take her in. “My thoughts were only on you. How are you feeling?” he asked, easing back to study her face.

“Refreshed.” She laughed. “Poor Drake. I nearly slept the day away.”

Eli shrugged and pulled her back against him. “Drake wasn’t here for fun. He’s fine.”

Being in Eli’s arms, having his strength surround her, had Nora wanting more. She didn’t want him to leave, didn’t want him to go back to Atlanta. But she couldn’t ask him to stay. If she did, he’d only stay out of obligation and would regret his decision in no time.

“I made spaghetti if you’re hungry.”

Nora stepped away and made her way over to the stove. “The smell is what lured me in.”

“And here I thought you came out to see me. You just using me for my cooking?”

She threw him a glance over her shoulder. “On Thursdays I am.”

Eli clutched his chest. “I’m wounded.”

He sat with her at the small breakfast nook while she ate and discussed her day of napping and caring for two patients. Once she was finished he quickly cleaned up the kitchen, after insisting she go lie down on the sofa. She conceded only because she loved having him in her home, taking charge and being all protective.