The Major's Wife - Page 17

The way he’d linked her wrist around his elbow had her breast brushing the upper part of his arm, and she was straining to keep the simple contact from happening. Telling himself it wasn’t affecting him, Seth asked, “Would you like to take a stroll through the compound?”

Her gaze bounced to the cabin and she pinched her lips together, which made him suddenly want to see what all the commotion had been about. “But you must be tired,” he said. “It’s been a long day. Let’s just go home.”

“No,” she said nervously. “We could take a stroll.”

“It’s all right, you’ll have lots of time to explore the fort,” he cajoled. “Right now, you need some sleep.”

“No, really—”

“I insist.” Seth let go of the hand he’d kept hooked on his elbow, and looped his arm around her shoulders. “You must be exhausted.”

She let out a sigh that held a tiny groan, but didn’t struggle as he guided her forward.

The sun hadn’t set yet and the warmth intensified Seth’s sense of smell. They were across the compound from Ilene’s flower beds, but he caught the scent of flowers. Or maybe it was perfume, because it smelled more like roses. Actually, he’d noticed a hint of it when he’d sat down next to her back in the hall.

A shiver rippled his spine as he turned his head, glanced down at the woman standing next to him. Her grin was much more of a grimace as she stepped aside for him to open the door to their cabin.

The warm, closed-in air rushing through the open doorway was downright overpowering. Blinking from the sting in his eyes, Seth asked, “Did a vial of rosewater burst in one of your trunks?”

“No,” she said, stepping past him to enter the cabin. “I washed the floors with it.”

“Washed the floors with it?”

Millie drew a deep breath, almost choking. The rose oil Lola made was quite potent and she may have used more than necessary. But it was what Rosemary would have done. “I also had To-She-Wi and Ku-Ma-Quai help me wash the walls.” She flinched slightly, not wanting to get two of Briggs Ryan’s maidens in trouble. The Indian women had proved to be not only friendly, but most helpful in assisting her with transforming the cabin.

“Wash the walls!” he exclaimed. “That oil will soak into the wood. It’s going to smell like this forever.”

“One can only hope,” she replied, sounding so much like her sister she wanted to bite her tongue. “It smelled of sour men before.”

The tick that appeared in his cheek should alarm her, but from what she’d learned today, Seth was not unfair. Though she might have decorated things a little more than she should have. It had been fun at the time, thinking she was getting him back for frightening her.

“My eyes are watering,” he said.

“You’ll get used to it.”

“What’s this?” He gestured toward the table.

“I know you’ve seen a tablecloth before.”

“Not in an army barrack.”

Making her best attempt at being nonchalant, she shrugged.

“And pillows, and cushions, and rugs.” He was walking through the tiny area, pointing things out, and stopped in the doorway to his office. “Curtains? Curtains in my office? Where did you get all this stuff?”

“Mr. Fallon. You must be quite proud of him. He has a bit of everything.”

Seth gave her a glimpse full of disdain before he spun to take a second look at the space that had been his office. Once again Millie flinched inwardly. She’d never done anything like this before, and pulling up the courage to finish what she started was not easy.

“Where. Is. My. Desk?”

His cold tone had Millie gulping, but she managed to find the nerve to step into the room and point toward the far corner. With the desk up against the wall, covered with a tablecloth, and the chair positioned in front of the window, decorated with two tiny pillows, plus a rug covering the floor, the room looked much bigger and more homey. To her. What Seth thought was probably a bit different. Obviously was.

He glared at her with those piercing eyes for several long moments. “You are Rosemary, aren’t you?”

She held her breath, hoping the churning in her stomach wouldn’t erupt.

“Put it back,” he growled. “Put it back the way you found it. All of it.”

Millie scurried aside as he left the room.

“And get rid of those stupid curtains!”

The door thudded shut and Millie let out her breath in a gush. Rosemary wouldn’t put any of it back. So Millie wouldn’t, either.