He’d always been a sore loser. As evenly as possible, Seth demanded, “Why did you come here? Truthfully.”
She covered her mouth with one hand for a moment, before lowering it to say, “To have you sign the divorce papers.”
Tension burned his locked jaw. Releasing the muscles, he declared, “There was no need for that. I’d already signed them. All you had to do was sign on the line and return them to the lawyer in Richmond.”
Shaking her head, she lowered her hand to the base of her throat. “Not those ones. Another set was drawn up.”
She blinked several times. “B-because there are stipulations that needed to be addressed.”
Anger was mounting inside him, but the tears she fought so hard to hide kept it simmering below the surface, which was worse. “Like what?”
Sniffling, she wiped a finger under her nose before answering, “I—I need to ensure my future is set...financially.”
When she said certain things, he found himself questioning how sure he was that this was Millie and not Rosemary, and that had his stomach churning. “I don’t want your money,” he snapped. “I told your father that the day we married.”
Panic flashed across her face, so quickly he wondered if he’d imagined it, because the next moment she callously replied, “Perhaps it’s not my money I’m talking about.”
His blood turned colder than the Boston winters he clearly remembered. He’d never laid a hand on a woman, and wouldn’t start now, but she could fear him. Should fear him. He wasn’t going to be taken twice. Not by her sister and not by her. Tension ate at his neck muscles, left them burning, and he used the sensation to fill his gaze with loathing. “My family’s wealth is none of your concern.” He’d made that perfectly clear before the wedding, as well. His seething mind told him to get rid of her now, but his damnable heart wouldn’t let him.
There had to be a way to put a stop to her acting. For that’s what this was again—the rational part of his brain had finally kicked in, and assured him that was so. It was just Millie trying to be Rosemary. His last attempt hadn’t worked, not as he’d planned. Perhaps it was time to be himself. An army major.
“I won’t stand for temper tantrums like your father did, and you’ll do well to remember that.” Pointing around the room, Seth continued slowly, clearly, so there’d be no mistaking his order. “Until we can safely travel to Tulsa, to Washington, this is where you live, so don’t think you can throw a fit and move into one of the cabins. I will not—will not—” he repeated for emphasis “—have men I lead into battle believing my wife and I can’t get along. In private you can do whatever you want, but in public you will behave as a major’s wife. Is that understood?”
She gave a slight nod, which gave him absolutely no satisfaction.
“Good,” he growled, spinning around. It wouldn’t hurt for her to have one more thing to think about. “You also need to remember that only army personnel and wives of army men are allowed to live inside the barracks.” He stopped shy of saying “not sisters.”
Seth left then, grabbing his hat along the way and not caring how hard the door slammed behind him.
A coherent thought hadn’t had time to enter his mind when someone said his name. Planting the hat on his head, and attempting to hide all that was going on inside him, he met the man at the end of the walkway. “Yes, Lieutenant?”
Paisley, with his eyes magnified behind thick glasses, held a piece of paper in his ink-stained fingers. “The lines are up. I sent the wire this morning and this reply just arrived.”
Seth almost ripped the note out of the other man’s hold. Unfolding it, he read the simple sentence. “NEITHER SISTER IS IN ATTENDANCE. STOP.”
An invisible pull had him turning, glancing over his shoulder to his house. Handing the note back to the man, he said, “Burn this and find out where they both are.”
“And Paisley, no one knows about this except you and me. Make sure of that.”
* * *
Millie barely made it upstairs before sobs racked her so hard she could no longer move. Not only had her muscles melted, her bones had dissolved, and pain encrusted her entire being. Pulling up Rosemary had been her only defense, but the hurt in Seth’s eyes, the disbelief and loathing, had dissolved all thoughts of her sister and now had tears pumping out of her eyes like water from an artesian well.