Yankee Wife

Yankee Wife by Linda Lael Miller Page B

Book: Yankee Wife by Linda Lael Miller Read Free Book Online
Authors: Linda Lael Miller
transported by the fierce ecstasies she'd known with him. She pulled her gold wedding band from her finger, laid it on the bureau beside Devon's brush, and then turned to packing the few things she'd owned before meeting the man she would always think of as her husband.
    Standing before the bureau mirror, Polly did not see her own reflection, but that of the bed behind her. Never, no matter what she had to do to sustain herself, would she ever lie with another man. She wouldn't take a husband, or a lover, or sell her body for money, because she knew the touch of anyone besides Devon would drive her to screaming madness.
    The mail boat arrived at midafternoon, and Polly was waiting on the wharf when it chugged into the harbor. She had hoped, at first, that Devon would appear and ask her to stay, but there was no sign of him. In fact, in the intervals when the steam-powered saws in Brigham's mill weren't shrieking, she heard the rhythmic pounding of Devon's hammer. Unlike her, he still had a dream to pursue.
    â€œIt's unwise to run away,” Lydia said.
    Polly was so startled that she nearly fell into the water. She hadn't heard the other woman approaching because of the ordinary noises.
    â€œI'm not as bold as you are,” Polly replied, with dignity. “I'm not as strong.”
    â€œMonkey feathers,” Lydia answered, her eyes solemn, her mouth unsmiling. “Of course you're strong. You have to be; you have no other choice.”
    â€œDevon doesn't want me,” Polly said, lowering her eyes. More than once, since she'd come to the wharf to wait for the mail boat, she'd considered simply jumping off into the water and letting herself drown, but some inner core of strength wouldn't allow her the easy escape. Besides, somewhere deep inside her, flickering like the light of a candle, was the fear that she might miss something tremendous by dying now, even though her life looked hopeless.
    Lydia sighed. “Stop thinking with Devon's brain, Polly,” she said. “You have a mind of your own, and it will tell you what to do if you listen.”
    Polly stared at this odd, strong, pretty woman standing before her, wondering where she'd gotten all those outlandish ideas that sprang constantly from her mouth. “You could marry him now, if you wanted,” Polly said. “Devon is free, in the eyes of God and man, and I know you find him attractive.”
    The memory of Lydia's shock when she'd discovered that Devon already had a bride, on board the ship from San Francisco, was plain between the two women, needing no further mention.
    Lydia folded her arms. “Very well,” she said, in a tone of kindly challenge. “If you truly don't want Devon, if you board this boat and sail off to Seattle, I'll make a point of consoling him.”
    A venomous pain surged through Polly's system. She loved Devon, and she was fairly certain he felt the same way about her, even though his disenchantment had blinded him to the fact. Still, Lydia was a beautiful woman, and Devon wanted a home and family so much that he had been willing to travel far and wide to bring home a bride. He would undoubtedly hurt for a while, then notice Lydia and begin to court her.
    Tears burned in Polly's eyes, blurring the raw splendor of this kingdom nestled in the palm of God's hand. “Devon deserves to be happy, and you could give him what he needs,” she said. The mail boat put into port just then, and a crewman jumped onto the dock to secure the craft with rope. A ramp slammed against the shifting boards of the wharf, and Polly leaned down and picked up her single carpet bag.
    Lydia touched her arm. “Will you write, at least?” she asked quietly.
    The other woman's concern curled against Polly's bruised heart like a warm kitten. They could have been Such good friends, if only things had worked out differently. “Yes,” Polly said. Then, unable to add a farewell, she boarded the boat and walked to

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