“This isn’t you.”
Gulping inwardly, she searched for an answer that would make him believe it was a self-portrait and not a picture of Rosemary. “My hair is styled differently.”
He studied the paper again. “No, that’s not it. It’s a good likeness, but it’s not you.”
Why had she been so foolish as to draw Rosemary? It was as if her very spirit wanted the truth out and was scheming against her. “Actually, it’s my sister. Millie.”
He pointed to the paper. “This is Millie?”
“Yes. That’s her.”
Seth studied her face for a moment more before gazing back at the pad. “Do you miss her?” he asked, before flipping through the other pages.
Her heart started hammering. He’d have to notice the drawings were all of him. “Doesn’t everyone miss those left behind?” she asked, hoping to distract him from looking too closely at the pictures.
“Yes, we do,” he answered, without looking up.
Folding her trembling hands in her lap, she asked, “Where’s your family?”
“My brother is in Montana, my mother in Boston.”
“You never mention them.”
He shrugged. “I haven’t seen them for years. Sam is in the army, too, and my mother writes to both of us regularly. She’s remarried, to Ralph Wadsworth. They have three children together. They’re all doing well.” He flipped through a few more pages. “These are good. I didn’t know you liked to draw.”
“I guess there are a lot of things we don’t know about each other.”
His eyes were back on her, staring thoughtfully. The longing inside her, to kiss him again and have him hold her in his arms as he had last night in bed, stole her ability to think. The swirling in her stomach went lower, to the very spot it had been last night, and stirred up a tremendous heat and ache.
Still watching her, he leaned down, and it was as if a fire had been lit between them. She couldn’t breathe, had never felt such intensity inside her. It was chaotic and exciting at the same time.
He took the pencil from her fingers and, barely moving, set both it and the tablet in the crate near his feet.
Millie was still holding her breath. Her lips were now trembling and the heat between them was growing. His eyes were watching hers and she didn’t dare so much as blink for fear she’d miss something. She wasn’t exactly sure what, but anticipation said it would be wonderful.
A smile lifted the corners of his mouth as his hands folded around hers, gently towing her out of the chair as he stepped back.
“Let’s go inside,” he whispered.
A thrill shot through her veins and she nodded.
“I’ll get the box. You get your new umbrella.”
The haze surrounding her thoughts dissipated enough for her to move and pick up the parasol from where it leaned against the porch railing. “Mr. Jenkins gave it to me.”
“I know,” Seth said, opening the door.
She was about to step inside when a wail like she’d never heard before echoed over the compound. Millie spun about, but couldn’t see anything other than Seth, who was pushing her through the doorway.
“Stay here,” he said, and then pulled the door shut.
Millie stood there for a matter of seconds, before her heart leaped into her throat and she wrenched the door open. Once on the porch, she saw Seth running across the compound, and she gave chase.
Millie hadn’t gained any headway in catching up with Seth when someone grabbed her arm. She attempted to break loose, but the hold was too strong and brought her to an abrupt stop.
“It’s not for you to become involved in, dear,” Ilene Ketchum said. “Come back to the house.”
Millie twisted, finding Seth among a swarm of men near the trading post. “What’s happening?”
“I don’t know for sure,” the woman said, forcing her to turn about. “But I believe it’s a skirmish between two Indian boys.”
Twisting to keep her eyes on the crowd, her heart fluttering, Millie asked, “Was Wind one of them?”
“The men will take care of it.”
“Su-Ma and Ku-Ma-Quai are here with your husband’s lunch.” Ilene pointed out the two women standing on the porch. “That is what you need to be concerned about. As Major Parker’s wife, taking care of him should always be your first thought.”
Millie stumbled, both physically and mentally, but caught herself and walked back to the house. She knew nothing about being a wife. Her gaze once again went to the crowd taking her husband, which included several Indian men.