Digging her heels in the wood beneath them, she spun around. “The horses.”
“Someone inside will see to them,” he said, tugging her forward.
In no time, he was leading her up a flight of stairs and down a hall to a door that the key in his hand unlocked. Then he scooped her into his arms, and she laughed out loud as he carried her into the room.
“Put me down, silly. I’m dripping wet.” However, she held on tighter, hoping he wouldn’t, as he kicked the door shut.
He didn’t, but instead captured her mouth. The kiss was the kind she loved, deep and penetrating, warming her from tip to toe. His mouth continued to hold her attention as he slowly let her legs loose. With her arms locked around his neck, she didn’t know when her feet touched the floor until she wobbled on them.
A knock on the door had him lifting his face, separating his lips from hers. Millie swayed as his hands slipped away, and they were instantly back, stabilizing her, while silently asking if she was able to stand on her own. Smiling, for his concern was so endearing, she nodded.
Watching her closely, he eased his hands away, and only when she proved she was stable did he move to the door and pull it open.
“Here, Major.” A gray-haired woman with a broad smile said, while handing him a wicker basket. “Towels and dry clothes for each of you until your men arrive.” She turned then, still smiling. “The bathing room is at the end of the hall, Mrs. Parker. Just put your wet clothes in the basket and leave it outside the door. I’ll have them laundered and ready for you first thing in the morning.” Once again addressing Seth, the woman continued, “Yours, too, Major. And the meal you ordered will be up promptly.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Brewster,” he said, setting the basket on the foot of the bed. “We appreciate your efficiency.”
“The army keeps us in business, Major. I’m happy to see to whatever needs you have. And your wife.” The women then held out a hand. “It’s such a pleasure to meet you, ma’am. A real treat.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Brewster,” Millie said, shaking the older woman’s hand. “We do appreciate your kindness, and I’m honored to make your acquaintance.”
The woman’s smile grew yet again as she turned to Seth. “The heater’s been lit, so the water will be hot in no time. I’m sure you’ll show your wife how it all works.”
“I will. Thank you again, Mrs. Brewster.”
Millie waited until the woman had walked out and Seth pushed the door closed before she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his waist from behind him. “Heater?” she asked, nuzzling his back with her cheek. “As in hot water?”
His hands settled atop hers as her fingers found the brass buttons on his jacket. “Yes,” he replied. “As much as you need.”
She undid the buttons and then lifted the lapels, helping him shrug his arms out of the sleeves. “Enough for two?” She held the coat as he slipped it off, loving being able to assist him so intimately. Being a major’s wife had so many wonderful benefits.
He turned, took the jacket, tossed it on the bed and spanned his hands around her waist. “Yes, enough for two.”
Excitement blazed inside her. “I believe,” she said, starting on his shirt buttons, “I know what I want my prize to be.”
She nodded. “For winning the race.”
“Aw, yes, the race.”
Tugging his shirttail from his britches, she reminded him, “You said I could have anything I want.”
“Yes, I did.”
She slid both hands into the opening of his shirt. His skin was always so warm and captivating, and though she’d been somewhat unsure the first time he’d asked her to wash his back, now she adored the chore. As much as she loved having him wash hers. “I want you to wash my hair.”
“Just your hair?” he asked, finding the buttons on her suit jacket.
“We’ll see,” she answered, no longer chilled by her wet clothing. Then again, she never really was chilled when he was around.
Except at times when, like hours later—after they’d shared a steamy bath, a delicious meal, and had warmed up the sheets of the bed—a reoccurring dream ripped her from a deep sleep, leaving her trembling and ice-cold.
Gasping, beseeching her racing heart to slow, Millie squeezed her eyes shut and burrowed her face into the pillow, letting it absorb the moisture of her tears.
“Sweetheart?” Seth was curled against her back, and his arms, one around her waist, the other below her neck, tightened to pull her closer. “What’s wrong?”