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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:41

Nora leaned back, swiping at her damp cheeks. “I’m sorry. I just… I thought you would never consider a life here in Stonerock, and then to hear you say you want to stay here, with me…”

She was at a total loss for words.

Eli’s strong hands framed her face, his thumbs sliding away stray tears. “I’m staying here tonight. I’ll stay every night if you let me.”

She clutched at his wrists. “You can’t stay tonight,” she told him. “I can’t… I mean, with the bed rest and the baby…”

“I don’t expect to have sex, Nora.” He kissed her softly. “I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize this baby or you. I want to stay because I want to feel you by my side. I want to wake up next to you before I go off to work.”

“Why?” she asked, searching his eyes. “Why are you so intent on staying? I mean, there’s only so much happiness love can supply. What about everything you’ve worked for?”

Eli shrugged, taking her hands in his and squeezing. “I’d been considering staying and Dad asked me if I’d be interested in taking over his practice. He wants to retire soon and I took his offering as another sign that being here was the right step at this chapter in my life.”

“So you’ll be the hometown doctor?” she asked with a grin. “Then we’ll both have patients showing up at our door.”

Laughing, Eli shrugged. “That’s fine with me.”

They watched a movie and when he started yawning Nora figured he needed some sleep. Just because she’d slept the day away didn’t mean he’d had that luxury. He’d worked and had to get up tomorrow to work again.

“Why don’t we head on to bed?” she suggested as the movie credits rolled.

“Sounds good to me.” He came to his feet and helped her up. “But I want you in your bed. I’ll carry you up.”

Nora rolled her eyes. “You’ve got to stop carrying me. I’m getting heavier.”

Without a word, he scooped her up, much like he had the other night, and carried her straight up the stairs and into her room.

As they readied for bed, Nora smiled. Is this what it would be like now that he was staying? He hadn’t mentioned marriage, but he had to be heading in that direction.

Nora pulled her gown over her head as warmth spread through her. He was giving her time to come to terms with Todd’s death and with the pregnancy. He was putting her and her baby’s needs first and his last. How could she not be totally in love with a man like that?

As she sidled right up next to him beneath the crisp sheets, she inhaled his masculine scent and loved the fact that her bed now smelled of Eli. She wanted his presence to overtake this house, to fulfill her life as they both started forward on this journey.

Eli kissed her on the forehead. “This is the best part of my day. I love you, Nora.”

“I love you, too,” she whispered into the dark.

And she did. She loved this man with all of her heart, and she had to put her past to rest once and for all so she could fully invest in their future.

Tomorrow, she vowed, she’d go through that box.

He’d held her most of the night, he’d carried her down the stairs before he left for work and he allowed her the luxury of being alone with no babysitter if she promised to call at the first sign of trouble.

Nora really shouldn’t like this whole alpha male routine, but she couldn’t help it. She absolutely felt like she was everything to Eli, and because she was his world, she figured he wanted to protect her at all costs.

Her heart warmed at this new life.

But her past still shadowed her, and now that she was alone, it was time to tackle that.

She headed into the spare room and eyed the box in the corner. Nora slowly eased herself onto the floor beside the box and rested her hands on top. Once she opened it, all of Todd’s military life would come spilling out—a life he’d purposely kept from her.

But by law those things were now hers.

Pulling at the edge of the packaging tape, she peeled it all away and pried back the flaps. She really didn’t know what she expected, but right on top were his BDUs neatly folded. She pulled them out, hugged them to her chest and closed her eyes. The stories this uniform could tell…