The Major's Wife - Page 74

“Evening, Major.”

Seth came to a stop outside his hotel room door, where he’d stationed Rex Moore, to ensure Millie didn’t attempt to complete Ilene Ketchum’s list instead of resting.

“Mrs. Parker hasn’t left all day,” the sergeant said.

“Did you see that she ate?”

Rex frowned, shook his head. “Well, I didn’t look to see if the plate was empty when Sergeant Clark carried it out.”

Seth’s hand squeezed the doorknob so hard his knuckles stung. “Who?”

Surprise, worry, maybe fear flashed in the man’s eyes. “Martin Clark. He has a scar across his right cheek.” Rex gestured to his own face.

“When was he here?” Seth asked, suddenly grasping why the army man at the bookstore had looked vaguely familiar.

Rex Moore swallowed, but Seth made no attempt to hold back the glare he’d settled on the man.

“The second time—”

“Second time?”

“I—I assumed you’d sent him, Major, knowing he and your wife were friends and all.”

Something dark and looming grew inside Seth. “How do you know they’re friends?”

“Well, ’cause...” The Sergeant cleared his throat. “Just assuming, sir.”

“Tell me what you saw,” he all but growled.

Wide-eyed, Moore responded, “Nothing, sir.”

The desire to grab the man by his shirt had the doorknob digging into Seth’s hand. He released it, made sure the man, who’d been on more than one battlefield with him, noticed just how close to being throttled he was. “Tell me now, Sergeant. What did you see?”

Shifting from foot to foot, Rex Moore stuttered, “Well, uh, um, I heard a noise.” He pointed toward the door, and then shoved both hands in his pocket. “When I peeked in to check, they were hugging, sir.” Snapping his head up, he added, “But just a hug like friends do.”

Martin Clark. The man Millie was engaged to. No wonder she’d fainted. “Where’s Clark now?”

“I don’t know, sir,” Rex said. “It was several hours ago.”

“Find him,” Seth demanded, glancing at the door. It was time to put this sham to rest. All of it. But he wanted all the ammunition he could get before confronting her. Needed it, with the way his insides were turning inside out. How could he ever have imagined the two sisters were different? Teeth clenched, he turned away from the door and snapped, “Have him meet me downstairs in the restaurant.”

“Now, sir?”

“Yes, now.”

“Don’t you want me guarding the door?”

Seth started for the stairs. “Figure it out, Sergeant.”

Having no doubt his order would be followed, Seth went straight to a table in the back of the hotel dining room, where he downed two shots of whiskey, something he rarely did. It didn’t help. The fire from the liquid only intensified the burning in his throat and stomach.

Within minutes the same soldier from the bookstore walked across the room. Stopped at his table. “Major.”

Seth stood, taking in the man’s stiff stance. “Sergeant Clark, thank you for answering my summons.”

“I was in the lobby. Figured you’d be looking for me.”

Waving a hand for the other man to be seated, Seth returned to his chair, and eyed his opponent as he sat. Average height, common brown hair. The only thing that stood out about Martin Clark was the jagged scar on his cheek. “Why would you expect me to be looking for you?” He knew the answer, just wanted the other man’s opinion.

The waitress arrived and when Clark shook his head, Seth waved her away.

“Well, sir,” Clark said. “I’m assuming you heard I was in your hotel room, and you already know I caught M-Mrs. Parker when she fainted at the bookstore.”

Mrs. Parker. The name could have been a knife, it cut so deep, but Seth nodded and spun his empty glass in a circle on the table. “You mean the woman you’re engaged to, don’t you, Sergeant?”

The man coughed and patted his chest a couple times while shaking his head before he squeaked, “Engaged?”

“You and Millie.”

Clark, wide-eyed, took a deep breath and held it for a minute. “Aw, hell, Major,” he said, with all the remorse of an undertaker. “I wish you’d just shoot me now.”

“I might,” he admitted honestly.

“And I wouldn’t blame you, Major.”