Page 71 of The Major's Wife

Whether it was Millie’s body shifting as she regained consciousness or her tiny moan that sent his heart leaping, Seth didn’t know or care. He tightened his hold, cradling her on his lap, and kissed her forehead several times before whispering, “Shh, darling, just rest. Just rest.”

He was lowering her onto their bed, kissing her closed eyelids, when the doctor entered the hotel room and told him to leave so he could examine her.

Seth refused.

After an exam, in which she responded to all the medical questions, often with sorrow-filled eyes, the doctor pulled Seth to the door. “I can’t find anything wrong, Major, other than exhaustion.”

Unable to drag his eyes off her, Seth watched as she rolled over, faced the wall and curled into a ball upon the bed.

“Did the two of you have an argument?” the physician asked.

“No,” Seth answered, his stomach curdling.

“Something’s troubling her.” The man opened the door. “Find out what that is, let her get some rest, and she’ll be fine.”

Seth closed the door after the doctor left. There’d been a hundred times he could have talked to her on the train, told her everything, yet when it came to her, he was as spineless as a dandelion. It had taken little more than one of her soft kisses and he’d given in, told himself they could talk later. And now worry had her physically ill.

At a loss, for he truly had no idea what to do, he crossed the room to lie down on the bed beside her. She started crying when he slid an arm under her, and his feeling of incompetency increased. Rolling her over, he pulled her close. “Shh. It’s all right. You’re all right.”

Shaking her head, rubbing her cheek against his shoulder, she whimpered, “I’m sorry, so sorry.”

“Shh,” he repeated.

She lay still for several moments, and then quietly said, “I left Mrs. Ketchum’s books at the bookstore.”

A smile tugged at his lips, and he kissed the top of her head. “No, the owner said she’d have them sent to the hotel.” He recalled the woman’s words as he’d left the shop with his wife cradled in his arms. An amazing feat, for his mind hadn’t been his own right then. “You’ve spent the entire last week searching for things on that list.”

Sniffling, she nodded.

“Well, no more. Today you’re not allowed to leave this room. I want you to rest.” Holding her as close as possible, he repeated, “Just rest.”

She’d relaxed, was no longer trembling, and the hand that had been resting on his chest was now beneath his collar, rubbing the side of his neck in a way that always released the tension that settled there.

“I need to tell you something,” she said softly.

His spine could have snapped, it stiffened so hard and fast. “I have to tell you something, too,” he said. “But not now. You’re exhausted and I...” A lump plugged his throat.

“Need to go back to your meeting.”

“Yes.” He hated to admit it. “I do.” Silently, he cursed. The meetings were not going well. Per-Cum-Ske was getting more agitated every day. As was Seth, listening to the accusations the men in Washington, who rarely left their offices and had no idea what really took place out on the plains, seemed to conjure up out of nowhere. His temper had almost got the best of him more than once, and in reality, it was knowing Millie waited for him back at the hotel every evening that had Seth holding it in. He wasn’t about to spend a night in a holding cell, being penalized for actions that might happen if he let his frustration loose, when he could be with her. Which could also happen if he didn’t head back to the meeting hall soon.

Perhaps he should just let it all go. Walk away. Let someone else be in charge of Fort Sill and all the troubles that came along with it. But that wouldn’t solve this problem. The one he’d created all on his own. They did need to talk, but she was overwrought right now.

“You’re going to be late,” she whispered.

“Yeah,” he answered, his shoulders heavy.

“Then you’d better go.”

That, too, tore at him. How she understood his duties, and didn’t begrudge them or him for completing them. She was the perfect army wife. He gave her a long hug before pulling away, sitting up on the edge of the bed. Twisting to rub a hand along her arm, he asked, “You’ll stay right here? Take a nap, get some rest?”

She scooted around to sit beside him. “Yes.”

He nodded toward the bedside table. “The doctor left some medicine. Said it will help you sleep.”

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