The Major's Wife(6)By: Lauri Robinson
She was here for the child’s sake, would do whatever it took to keep Seth from learning about the baby. Once things were settled—back home, that is—she might travel to Texas. Martin was there, and after this escapade—pretending to be married to a man she wasn’t—she’d need her best friend. Her only friend. Few others would forgive such a scandal. But a life—no, two lives—were worth more than her reputation. Especially the life of an innocent child.
Seth shifted his stance, leaning farther back, and the smirk grew to resemble more of a smile as he looked her up and down again. It was unnerving, yet she couldn’t think of a thing to say that might make him stop, nor slow the outrageous fluttering inside her.
“Matter of fact,” he finally said, slowly, thoughtfully, “I’m so curious I want to know the truth right now.”
She gulped, a nervous reaction she couldn’t have stopped if she wanted to. The flurry in her stomach turned into a heavy glob. “Oh?”
Every muscle in her body froze.
“Why are you here? Instead of Rosemary. My wife. Your sister.”
“I...I...I—” This couldn’t happen. Closing her eyes for a moment, Millie imaged how her sister would react to the accusation. It appeared instantly, for Rosemary never accepted fault. Huffing out a breath, she sent across the room a bitter glare akin to ones she’d witnessed on several occasions. “Millie?”
“Yes, Millie,” Seth repeated. The ire zipping beneath his skin was mixed with a goodly portion of mirth. She was a sight, not just her travel-worn outfit and windblown hair, but her beet-red cheeks and eyes as big and round and startled as a doe’s at the end of a gun barrel.
“I’m not Millie,” she insisted. “Goodness, Seth, I’d have thought you’d remember your own wife.”
“I do. And you’re not her.” There wasn’t anything he could put a finger on, for he didn’t know the sister any better than he knew his wife. But this woman was not Rosemary, therefore she had to be Millicent, the younger sister. Why—the foremost question that had been bouncing around in his head for over a week—intensified.
“Seth,” she said, pressing both hands to the base of her throat. “I realize it’s been five years, and I understand how easy it is to question my youthfulness. Yes, Millie is younger than me, but please...” Her sigh was accompanied with a steady batting of her eyelashes. “She’s shorter than me, somewhat chunkier and not as attractive—her eyes are too close together. People have said that for years. Since the day she was born, actually.” Patting the hair sticking out in all directions, his visitor continued, “Now, I know I must not look myself right now, but once I’ve had a bath, you’ll see it’s me, Rosemary.”
Now, that sounded like Rosemary. Matter of fact, those were almost the exact words she’d said the first time they’d met. General St. Clair had just introduced them, and commented that the youngest sister wasn’t home, but the two were practically identical. Rosemary had piped in then, stating that she was much more attractive than her sister. Seth recalled it so clearly because at the time, he’d thought her the snootiest girl he’d ever met. The next morning he’d decided she was a lot more than snooty. Downright mean and nasty was more like it.
Maybe she had changed. The Rosemary that had climbed into his bed back in Virginia, the same one that insisted he’d taken advantage of her, and convinced the general her reputation was ruined, would not have been as calm and patient as the woman standing before him. The girl from that night would have been screeching and stating a list of demands before she got off the wagon. Actually, she’d never have gotten on the wagon.
Frustration gurgled in his stomach. The two girls looked enough alike to be twins, he remembered that, and Rosemary was older by three or four years, if he recalled correctly. She’d be twenty-four now. He shoved away from the table. Why was he concerned with any of it? All he wanted was a signed divorce decree.
A knock sounded and the door opened before he responded. That wasn’t unusual; his men knew he was always at their disposal.
“Excuse me, Major,” Ben Cutter said, barely glancing his way. “Ma’am, the bathing house is ready. I saw to it myself.”
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Cutter. Your kindness is never-ending.”
Seth’s back teeth clamped together and had his jaw stinging. Not just at her fawning, but at how Cutter was looking at her. One would have thought the man was gazing at an angel. Seth, of course, knew differently.