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Dr. Daddy's Perfect Christmas Jules Bennett 2022/8/5 16:55:43

He didn’t say anything, merely crossed his arms, resting his fingers along thick biceps that filled out his thin navy sweater.

“Which brother got ahold of you?” he asked.

He had to have known when he spilled the full truth to his siblings that one of them would rush to tell her.

“It doesn’t matter which one, Eli. The point is you didn’t tell me everything.”

His eyes raked over her, then he shook his head. “Might as well take off your coat.”

Nora unbuttoned her coat and laid it and her scarf over the back of the chair by the door. Tugging her shirt down to cover her bump, she crossed the room and took a seat on the sofa.

When he came closer she couldn’t help but look right at the scar. That was the part Cam and Drake had refused to tell her about. They both told her to ask Eli, but they did tell her enough to know that it would possibly change her mind.

“What all did you hear?” he asked as he stayed still by the table.

“Your brothers defending you,” she told him. “They were plenty mad at you, but they believed you had a good reason for keeping something so monumental from me.”

Eli nodded. “And what do you think?”

“That I want to hear your reasons. They seem to think I’ll be surprised at your side of the story.”

Eli’s brows rose. “The other day it didn’t matter. You even went so far as to practically accuse me of thinking infidelity was okay.”

Nora looked down at her clasped hands over her belly. “I’m sorry, Eli. I didn’t know what to think. To be honest, I still don’t.”

When she looked back up to him and saw his jaw clenching, she knew she wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Now that they’d both had time to let everything settle, they had so much to discuss.

Anger started bubbling in her the more she talked. Unable to remain seated, she got back up and started crossing the room as she spoke.

“No matter what happened years ago, you were always the one person I swore would always be honest. You were always the one to do the right thing in the end.”

“The right thing?” he demanded, staring down at her. “I tried doing the right thing years ago, Nora. I got out of the army with intentions of going to medical school and coming home to be with you. I wanted to see if we could have a life together.”

Nora gasped. “I never knew this,” she whispered.

“Yeah, that’s because when I got done with school, you and Todd were engaged. What the hell could I do at that point but watch my best friend and the love of my life live happily ever after? Only I couldn’t stay here. So I reenlisted.”

Nora gripped the back of one of the chairs at the table. She needed stability because she had a feeling he wasn’t done pouring out all of his emotions.

“But then I had to hear Todd talk about the two of you,” he went on. “At first he discussed the wedded bliss and how lucky he was. Then he started wondering if you two rushed into marriage and toward the end he knew you two had made a mistake and he was afraid to hurt you.”

“For a man who was afraid to hurt me, he sure did do a lot on purpose to do just that.”

Eli nodded. “We were at a bar one night when we were overseas. We had both drank way too much. He disappeared for a while and when he came back with a woman, I knew. I just knew.”

Nora steeled herself for the details she wasn’t sure she was ready to hear. But she needed to know, needed to hear what Eli had to say.

“We got into a fight,” Eli went on. “I told him he wasn’t worthy of you and he told me that he knew he’d never measure up to me where you were concerned. He kept saying over and over that I should’ve married you, that you never looked at him the way you did me.”