A powerful anger rose, so fast and severe that Millie wanted to scream, hurl things across the room or pummel both fists against something until it hurt as bad as she did. Never in her entire life had she thrown a fit, but right now, she wanted to throw one that would leave all of Rosemary’s in the dust.
Instead, Millie grabbed the brush and yanked it through her hair until her scalp burned. Then she marched up the steps. This wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t how things should be. Seth didn’t deserve to be treated this way, and neither did she.
In her room, Millie moved to the window, stared into the darkness. Not even thinking about the baby helped, an innocent life that held no blame. She was beyond that. Past living her life for what others needed. It was unseemly to think only about herself, her desires, but ultimately, she only had until December to love Seth. Then she’d have to leave. Return to Richmond and— A growl filled her throat.
This whole thing was erroneous. Her entire life had been.
The freedom she’d experienced lately, and the hours she’d spent drawing, where her mind had time to quiet down and reveal things she’d never had time to focus on before, had given her a new perspective on so many things. As had the friendships she’d made. The foremost one being with the man downstairs. The only husband she’d ever want.
A single star appeared in the cloudy night sky on the other side of the glass. October was well upon them, bringing cooler days and colder nights. Six weeks at most and this would all be over, and no one would ever know how painful it had been for her. As Millie found the star again, a somewhat shocking, but appealing thought occurred to her. No one would ever know what took place out here, except for her and Seth.
She pressed a hand over her lips as the thought expanded. She spun toward the bed as a thrill had her sucking in her stomach. That would be so improper. So inappropriate.
Spinning around, she paced the floor. Pretending to be his wife—really his wife, in every way—would only increase the deception. Furthermore, it would be entirely selfish on her part.
The thought of kissing him, of doing all the things Leah-Widd-I-Kah had told her about, had her insides swirling. Steaming. Millie closed her eyes against the temptation pounding inside her.
It would be wrong. Wrong. And trickery. Worse than what she was already doing.
Stopping at the window, she searched the darkness for an answer that couldn’t be found. There wasn’t a solution, leastwise not one she could fathom justifiable. Even while the longing to give herself to Seth, to have what other married couples had, if only for a short time, grew stronger, more intense.
Her skin became clammy and she lifted the window sash, hoping for a cooling breeze. A faint drumming sound entered with the night air, and the steady beats resounded in her soul, matching the thuds of her heart. Leah-Widd-I-Kah had said the Comanche would call to the Great Spirit tonight, asking for guidance in Per-Cum-Ske’s journey to speak with the men in Washington.
The beats continued to resonate, all the way to her befuddled mind. “Oh, dear Lord,” she whispered, her words matching the steady thumps of the drums. “I need your help. A sign. Something that will tell me what to do.”
The drumming stopped. She opened her eyes and stared into the darkness. Even the tiny star was gone, and no matter how hard she searched, its flickering light couldn’t be found. A long and hollow sigh left her slumped against the windowsill. What had she hoped? That all of a sudden the stars would spell out Seth’s name? Tell her it was all right to love him? To be with him? That was a foolish thought if ever she had one.
Noises echoed from below, hoofbeats and shouts, but such sounds no longer startled her, for the fort was seldom silent. The knock that came at the front door, though, had her rushing across the room.
She was halfway down the stairs when she froze.
Seth stood in the doorway. His hair was wet, still held the comb marks, and he wore nothing but his britches, with both suspenders hanging from the waistband, the loops resting near his knees.
His arms were bare and bulged with muscles, as was his back, and she wrapped her fingers around the banister at the sight of his glistening skin.
Millie tugged her gaze away and nodded at the corporal tipping his hat.
“What is it?” Seth asked.
“Sorry to interrupt, Major, sir, but two mule skinners just rode in. Said they’d been chased by Indians the entire way. Their animals looked it, too.”
“Have the M troop mount up,” Seth instructed, spinning to hurry back down the hallway.