The Major's Wife - Page 73

She shook her head. The thought of people fearing Seth was ludicrous.

“That’s why I’m in Washington, Millie. When my commanding officer heard Major Parker was traveling out here...” Her friend shook his head. “Hell, every fort sent representation to be here. They knew he’d get something done. He fights for what he believes in, and Millie...I saw how he feels about you.”

An inkling of hope sprang up inside her. Seth did love her, and she had to find a way to make him understand why she’d done what she had.

Martin shook his head. “No, Millie,” he said. “It’s no good. He loves you, I saw that, but when he learns what you and Rosemary did...”

Millie lifted a hand, ran a finger along the scar on Martin’s cheek. It went from the edge of his nose to his ear. Used to it, she hadn’t noticed it for years. Until right now, recalling he’d gotten it from a branch when he’d jumped in the river to save Rosemary from drowning herself. “Martin,” she whispered. “I did it for the baby.”

His eyes narrowed. “Rosemary’s threats again.” He grabbed her shoulders then. “Millie, when are you going to realize she will never hurt herself? Others, yes. Herself, no.”

“I do know that, Martin,” she said. “Now. And it’s more frightening than ever. I’m doing all this for the baby.” Shaking her head, she whispered, “If I don’t protect it, who will?”

“Aw, hell,” Martin growled. “I’d rather be an Indian right now.”

* * *

Seth was about as close to losing his patience as he’d ever been. Pigheaded men had kept empty negotiations going deep into the evening, and that built his worries about Millie, ill and alone at the hotel, into mammoth proportions. Spinning at the sound of his name while entering the hotel lobby, he frowned at one of the men he’d just sat across the room from.

“Senator,” he said, once again moving forward.

“May I talk to you for a moment, Major?”

His patience was stretched, threatening to snap, but Seth held rein on it and gave a nod.

“Thank you,” the portly man said, gesturing toward a more secluded area.

The lobby was empty, yet Seth followed Louis McPhalen to stand next to the wall, and waited. He wasn’t a close acquaintance of the man, but knew who he was because he’d been receiving congratulations the last few days. It seemed the man’s son had just been born a week or so ago, and hearing it had Seth once again wondering about a family. Children.

“I’m glad a partial agreement was reached this evening,” the senator said, wiping at the sweat gathering over brows as red as the hair on his head.

“I just hope you and the rest of Congress will come to a full agreement soon,” Seth replied, glancing toward the stairs.

“We will,” the man said. “I’ll go above and beyond to see it happens.”

An odd chill gripped Seth’s spine and he couldn’t help but glower at the man.

Senator McPhalen’s Adam’s apple bobbed, but he didn’t look away. “I considered not saying anything, Major, but I need you to know I won’t forsake my responsibility. Ever.”

Seth fought to keep his expression from changing, even though confusion swarmed his mind. Eventually he nodded, just to let the man know he’d heard.

“My son will be raised properly and respected, as any son of mine should be.”

Still not letting his bewilderment show, Seth nodded. “I’m glad to know that, Senator.”

The man lifted his chin. “I’ve heard of you, Major, of your...abilities. And though I don’t expect us to be friends, I don’t want to be enemies, either.”

A chill had the hair on Seth’s arms standing on end. Thinking of Millie no doubt, because she was on his mind. What he had to tell her. He really didn’t have time to listen to this man any longer.

“I’m willing to discuss any type of agreement you wish to suggest, Major,” McPhalen said.

Seth’s gaze was on the staircase, and his mind on the woman in the room on the second floor. Growing more frustrated, he said, “I expect a full agreement to be reached soon and fulfilled.”

“It will, Major,” the man answered. “I give you my solemn promise.”

Seth had little hope that bucket could hold water. “I hope so, Senator,” he said. “Now if you’ll excuse me.” He didn’t bother waiting for an answer, just marched toward the stairs, straight-backed and stiff, as taught all those years ago by his father in their yard, hearing tales of how he’d go to West Point one day. Seth had thought more and more about his father lately, mainly on the train the past few days, while imagining having a son of his own someday.