Seth had recognized a few of them—Per-Cum-Ske’s father-in-law, Ter-Ak-A-Nee-Cut. Pah-Po-Ter-A-Pet, his uncle, and the leader of the band, Pe-Ah-Ter-Who-Noovy. But the scout had recognized the face of almost every fallen body he’d came upon. Friends and relatives, comrades that had followed him on his warpath against the white man just a few years prior, before he’d cut off his braids and joined the army.
To this day, Seth wondered how Per-Cum-Ske had accepted the deaths of so many. His eyes had been hollow, his face showing no emotion as he’d stood on the ground stained by blood. Spine straight, with his square chin thrust forward, he’d said, “We cannot help it. I did my duty.”
Seth knew duty—had lived it his entire life—yet in that instance he hadn’t understood it. He’d signed Per-Cum-Ske’s discharge papers a short time later, one of the first times he’d used “Major” in his signature line. And he’d known then that he’d face the man as an adversary again. It couldn’t be helped.
That time was now. The man had become leader of the Comanche, or Komantcia—Anyone Who Wants to Fight All the Time—as other tribes referred to them. A man who knew the life of the Indians, but also the ways of the army, creating a precarious balance that had nerves on end from Indian Territory to Washington, including Seth’s. Another reason his mind had to be alert and his instincts intact, and why he couldn’t allow issues in his private life to overshadow his duties.
The sound of deep and even breaths had him looking down, and the area around his heart warming as he saw her sleeping. He ran a hand over Millie’s hair, pulled the long braid over her shoulder and across his chest.
Once his meeting in Washington was complete and a settlement agreed upon, he could focus on cleaning up the situation between him and Millie. He tilted his head to kiss the top of hers. Something this precious, this beautiful and wonderful, had to be handled gently.
She let out a tiny moan, and the powerful need he had for her, though well-sated a short time ago, sparked low in his belly like the strike of a flintlock. It wasn’t unusual; it happened every time he glanced her way. Insatiable, that’s what he was when it came to her. Fact was, he didn’t even have to look at her; a simple thought caused that reaction inside him. And all day, while riding next to her, he’d practically counted the minutes until sunset.
Running a hand down her arm, he paused when his palm encountered chilled skin, and probing the covers, he found the reason: the wind sneaking under the tent. He bunched up the blankets beneath them, plugging the space as best he could.
“What’s wrong?” she murmured.
“Nothing, sweetheart, just the wind sneaking in below the tent.”
“Yes,” she said groggily, while shifting to burrow against him. “It’s cold.”
Her entire side was chilled, felt like frost when it met his heated skin. He pulled the top blanket up to her shoulders and then reached below, grasping her waist. “Here, I’ll switch sides with you.”
When he lifted her, intent on rolling beneath, she grasped his shoulders, nestled her entire length on top of him. “Mmm,” she said. “You’re always so warm.”
Passion flared, readying him in every way to once again sample all her wares. Rubbing his palms along her silky, chilly skin, he asked, “Would you like me to warm you?”
“Um-hmm,” she mumbled, her knees parting his legs.
“Is that a yes?” he asked, pressing her hips to his, with both hands on the round, plump curves of her very delectable hind end.
She giggled, and then suckled his neck before asking, “What do you think, Major?”
Had he known how wonderful the trip would be with her at his side, Seth wouldn’t have strived to shorten it. But as it was, four days and three nights after setting out, they were on the outskirts of Tulsa. Then again, as he looked over his shoulder to a sky turning blacker by the moment, he was glad the town was only a few miles ahead. The storm that was brewing was sure to be a doozy.
The wind had picked up throughout the day, and by the looks of those clouds, rain would soon be striking the red dirt with all the gusto of an inland hurricane. His instincts were kicking in, as well as an internal conflict. He’d never left his men before, but he’d never had a wife to protect, either.
Riding the buckskin next to him, she had on her army-issue hat, a fashion clash with her dress if there ever was one. But the smile she flashed him said her attire was no concern. It also resolved the issues he’d been mulling over.