The Major's Wife(5)

By: Lauri Robinson



 “Just set them down anywhere,” Seth instructed, never taking his eyes off her. With a wave of one arm, he said, “I’d like to see you in my office.”

 “No,” she answered, returning a gaze just as bold as his. The clump of hair hanging over her right eye probably took some of the sting out of her glare, but she kept her chin up, mentally telling her hand not to tuck the hair behind her ear.

 “No?” His expression suggested he rarely heard the word.

 She didn’t have a chance to respond before someone said, “I’ll get my things.”

 A young man with the longest legs she’d ever seen set her traveling bag on the table and then sidestepped around her toward the room with the closed door. Two other men set down her additional trunks and ducked out the front, while clanging and banging erupted behind her.

 “Russ, your corporal, I assume?”

 Seth nodded.

 Had his eyes always been that blue, that piercing? Perhaps. She’d seen him only once. The day he’d married Rosemary. A few minutes ago Millie did recall his hair had been so black it looked blue, but he appeared taller than he had years ago, broader across the shoulders, and more unapproachable than her feeble memories recalled. Maybe it was the blue uniform. The tailoring of the outfits could do that to men.

 The gangly corporal nodded as he scurried past her with his arms full. “I’ll bring over some clean bed linens.”

 “Later,” Seth responded curtly.

 The man shot out of the cabin, and Seth shut the door behind him. The sound, as well as the darkness—for only a small amount of light filtered into the room from the open office door and alcove above—had Millie holding her breath. She’d best get used to it...being alone with him. Three months was a long time.

 Once again he pointed toward the office.

 Emptying her lungs with an audible sigh, specifically for him to hear, she held her ground. “I need a bath, I need a cup of tea and I need a bed. In that order. Then I’ll meet with you in your office.”

 Saying it aloud increased her longing. There was such an indecent amount of dirt in her hair that her scalp itched, her entire body felt sand-pitted and crusty, and her traveling suit was no longer either pale green or gray. It was now a pitiful shade of orange. The entire territory was made up of red-hued dirt that clung to everything. But it was the bed she wanted most. Just a few quiet moments, without wheels turning beneath her, to gather the energy to become her sister.

 Seth leaned a hip against the table. “There’s a community bathhouse at the end of the barracks. I don’t have any tea, and I guess Russ just gave you his bed, but I’d advise you to change the sheets. I don’t how long it’s been since he did.”

 A smirk still sat on his face, and it increased his genuine handsomeness, so much that she wondered if Rosemary remembered what he looked like, for looks meant a lot to her sister. Then again, perhaps Rosemary did. He was the one, after all, demanding the divorce. A weight settled on Millie’s shoulders. It was her job to make sure it didn’t happen for three months—until Rosemary delivered her baby.

 Holding in the sigh welling in her chest, Millie concluded that, whether she was ready or not, it was time to start acting.

 “Seth,” she said. A wife should call her husband by his given name, yet it felt very strange. “I understand you’re curious about my arrival, but I’ve been traveling for almost two weeks, and I’m more than exhausted.”

 He folded his arms, and the way his eyes traveled from her broken boot to her itching scalp made her need for a bath and clean clothes intensify.

 “Curious?” he asked with a hint of cynicism.

 She nodded.

 “Oh, I am curious,” he said, with a direct stare. “Even more now that you’ve arrived.”

 The way he said “you’ve” sent a tingle coiling around her spine. Rosemary had said they’d never been together, as in man and wife, so that was not something Millie needed to worry about, but that’s what settled in her mind. Men grew amorous when they were alone for long lengths of time. Women, too, or so her friend Martin said. Not that she’d actually understood exactly what he’d meant.

 Seth was still staring at her, and the least she could hope was the muted light of the room made it too dark for him to notice the way her cheeks blazed. Of all the things to think about, Martin’s explanation should not be one of them. The fluttering in her stomach had her trying to reroute her thoughts. Rosemary was married to this man. He just wasn’t the father of her child. It was truly a jumbled mess—which now, unfortunately, Millie was right in the midst of.

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