His laughter was like a song that made her want to dance with all the joy it inspired.
“Is it a pot of tea?” she asked. That wouldn’t necessarily be a surprise. Even when he was busy over at the headquarters in a meeting, or out with a troop, one of Briggs Ryan’s maidens would unexpectedly bring a pot to the cabin, saying the major had requested it be delivered to her.
He made a point of showing her how tightly his lips were clasped together, teasingly illustrating he wasn’t about to tell her anything. She laughed, but her mind went back to kissing, and she pulled her gaze away. He didn’t kiss her. Hadn’t, not once. But there were so many times he acted as if he was going to that she was going mad. It didn’t even help to pull up images of Rosemary. Matter of fact, it was becoming difficult to think like her sister most times.
A twinge of guilt made Millie take a moment to silently chide herself. Seth Parker wasn’t her husband, and kissing him should never, ever enter her thoughts.
Telling herself that was like telling the sun not to shine. It was a good thing he was a gentleman. She liked that about him. His manners and honor, and overall charisma. Truth be told, there wasn’t much she didn’t like about him. Perhaps that was why there were all these thoughts about kissing. A person should want to kiss someone they liked—shouldn’t they? Another type of guilt spilled inside her. She’d never thought about kissing Martin like this. Had never even wondered about it. All these other things had never surfaced when he’d taken her arm or aided her in some way, either. Then again, she’d never thought of Martin as anything more than a friend.
The pressure in her lungs released slowly as she huffed out a long sigh. Millie didn’t know what she thought of Seth, as he seemed more than a friend. He was her husband, or at least her pretend husband. The stirring warmth in the depths of her body throbbed when she thought of him, and there was nothing she could do about it. Truth was, she loved being called the major’s wife.
Seth turned her way, and she almost gulped at the heat that flared.
“No, it’s not tea,” he said, “but I’m sure Briggs will have a pot brewing.”
“Steeping,” she corrected, attempting to reroute her thoughts.
He gave her a somewhat puzzled look. “Steeping?”
“Yes, one brews coffee, but steeps tea.”
His chuckle was accompanied by a head shake. “I’ll remember that.”
“Good, you do that.” He had her insides bubbling, but there was also a carefree feeling she’d never experienced. “Want to race to that rock?”
“You’ll be careful?” he asked.
“I always am.”
He stretched his long legs by standing in the stirrups for a moment as he took a look around the area. When he sat back down, he nodded. “All right, but just to the rock.”
Excitement zipped under her skin. “On the count of three?”
He nodded again.
“One,” she said, hunching down. Riding always lifted her spirits. It was the one thing she’d always done just for her, and she missed it so much. It had been years since she’d gone riding just for the pleasure of it. Watching Seth out of the corner of her eye, she said, “Two...”
Then, whipping the reins across the horse’s rump, she sent the animal into a full gallop before yelling, “Three!”
He was at her side in no time, and remained there, his horse neck and neck with hers the entire race. The wind, the air, the dirt churning beneath the animals’ hooves, it was all so wonderful she was sorry when they passed the rock. But true to her word, she reined the horse in and glanced to her side.
“You cheated,” Seth said, grinning.
A giggle tickled her throat. “I thought I’d need a head start.”
His laugh had her floating on a cloud, and she still felt that way a short time later, when he lifted her from the saddle as Russ appeared to lead the horses into the stable.
“Thank you, Corporal Kemper,” she said, while wrapping a hand around Seth’s proffered elbow. The simple action never failed to make her heart swell.
“You’re welcome, ma’am. Did you enjoy the ride?”
She smiled at the tall young man, but something tugging at her heart had her turning to Seth as she answered, “Yes, thank you very much.”
His smile was like the sun, with the ability to make amazing sensations grow inside her, as high and thick as morning glories on a trellis.
“This way,” he said, pivoting about.