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Monday morning after the Fort Sumter news broke, instead of eating breakfast and heading to the cornfield as on the thousand other spring days of his life, Zane dressed to go to town and sign up for going to war. He planned to walk with Mac and Rose on their way to school. He could ensure trouble hadn't erupted in town, and that the youngsters wouldn't come to harm.
He tried to make light of it all and of his ultimate reason for going. As he viewed his neatly combed hair, he joked, "I can't remember dressing this carefully since the evening we got married, Rissa." Glimpsing her stricken eyes in the mirror, his voice trailed off. Turning slowly, he faced her. Ignoring the fact Mac and Rose were watching, he reached to touch her soft chestnut hair.
She caught his hand in both of hers and held it to her lips. "You were a sight to make my heart race that night, Zane Edwards. And never once since then has it slowed down." A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "Just in case the fact slipped your notice these fourteen years."
He brushed her lips with his thumb. "It didn't, Rissa-love. Be sure, it didn't." He looked deep into her eyes and saw love and glowing pride replace the stricken look. Pride in him, he realized with the same awe he always experienced, even after all the years.
He turned to the silent children and Rose slipped her hand into his. "Ready, pupils? We don't want Miss Sullivan to mark you late. I wonder if she's wearing the same whalebone corset she wore during my student days? Talk about an unbending personality." As he intended, Rose giggled and Mac hid a coughing chuckle at such wicked talk.
At the door, under cover of their amusement, hebent to Larissa's ear. "I'll be home soon as I can."
She lifted her hand, and in spite of the heart heaviness he knew she concealed, she gave him a glowing smile that made his toes curl. "I'll be waiting."