“Will it be back?”
He nestled his chin against the top of her head, curled his arms tighter around her. “No, he won’t be back.”
She shivered slightly. “Does he have friends?”
Seth chuckled and scooped her off the bed.
They were halfway across the room before she asked, “Where are we going?”
“To my room.” It wasn’t that he was surprised by his actions, just unsure, and he considered turning around, but didn’t.
Once in his room, straight across the hall from hers, he leaned down and threw back the covers before setting her on the bed. “You can sleep right there.”
“Are there snakes in here?”
Her arms were still locked around his neck and he gradually eased them off, questioning if he’d lost his mind. “I’ll go get the lamp from your room and check.”
Back within seconds, he made a show of looking beneath the dresser and in the wardrobe closet, and a touch of apprehension clutched him as he bent to peer under the bed, as if he half expected to find another snake himself. It was doubtful, but he’d have the men sweep the house again tomorrow and make sure there were no others.
“No snakes,” he declared, setting the lamp on the table. He pondered sleeping in her room, but only for a moment. Taking a seat on the edge of the bed, he removed his boots, using the toe of the opposite foot against the heel. The pants would stay on, even though they were wool, but the socks and shirt would have to go. It was too hot to remain fully dressed.
“Where will you sleep?”
Once his socks found a place on the floor beside the boots, he twisted and patted the pillow beside hers. “Right here.”
She bit her bottom lip and swallowed hard, and a part of him wanted to copy her actions. Instead, he removed his shirt, tossed it on the chair and stretched out, tucking his feet and knees beneath the covers still folded back on his side. “This way, any snake will have to crawl over me to get to you, and I won’t let that happen.”
Her relieved sigh was probably heard in Texas, but it did little to ease his apprehension.
“Thank you,” she whispered.
She needed his protection. That’s all this was. He repeated the justification as he reached over and turned down the lamp wick, and then, as if it was the most natural thing on earth, he slid an arm beneath her neck and tugged her close. “Come here.”
She stiffened, but only for a moment, and then rolled onto her side to snuggle against him, resting her head on his shoulder and her hand on his chest, right over his thudding heart. This time he did swallow hard, for something deep inside called a warning, while another part of him rejoiced. He slipped his free hand beneath the covers and cupped her hip to hold her in place.
“Better?” he asked.
“Much,” she whispered. “Much, much better.”
“Good. Go to sleep now, it’s late.”
“How late is it?”
“I was trying to stay awake, to wish you good-night.”
Her hand was playing havoc on his already heated body as her fingertips teased and parted the hair on his chest. “You can say it now,” he whispered, as hoarse as a frog with a cold.
“Good night, Seth.”
“Good night, sweetheart,” he answered. This was crazy. He should have heeded the warning. Or he should crawl out of the bed now, while he still could. Her leg had curled up and one knee was resting on his thigh, awfully close to the other part of his body that was growing more eager by the second. He’d never wanted a woman as badly as he wanted her, as thoroughly. Had never reacted to anything this way. Even in the heat of battle his heart hadn’t raced like this. Furthermore, patience wasn’t his best virtue, and right now he found himself wishing she was Rosemary. Wishing he could be sure. Actually, her name didn’t matter. Truth was he’d gotten caught in his own snare. He was no longer pretending. Might never have been. He wanted her, this beautiful woman that the entire fort was talking about. His wife.
Millie couldn’t quite grasp what was happening inside her. The fear of the snake—though she’d never been more afraid in her life—was gone, and the way Seth called her sweetheart had her heart singing the sweetest tune imaginable. But beyond all that there was an energy building inside her that wouldn’t slow down, and her breasts were on fire. They felt heavy and swollen. An odd thing for sure, and embarrassing to think about, but the sensation of being pressed against Seth heightened their sensitivity and consumed her thoughts. As did her leg. It was folded over his, and her inner thigh could feel the coarse fibers of his wool britches. She’d never experienced anything like this awareness before.