Seb took Myra home and accepted Aunt Carolyn's invitation to supper. Uncle Teddy entertained them with his accordion after the meal. The evening disappeared quickly.
Upon his departure, he stood on the porch with Myra and bent toward her, kissing her gently on her delicate lips, the perfect ending to a wonderful day. She returned his kiss, then pushed him away.
"Goodnight, Seb. I love you."
"I love you too. Goodnight." He whistled as he swung himself up into the surrey and rode toward the smithy.
Removing the key from his pocket, he stuck it into the keyhole and discovered it was unlocked again. He chided himself for his forgetfulness. That's how Johnny Kale lost half his belongings a couple months ago.
Seb swung open the huge door and led the horse into the building. He lit a lamp, hung it on a peg near the stall, and maneuvered the horse back and forth until he had parked the rig exactly where he wanted it. Unhitching the surrey, he then brushed the horse and led him to his stall. The horse balked, snorting and tossing his head. Seb calmed the animal and squinted into the dim light of the stall.
Then he saw it, a dark lump in the corner. He quickly retrieved the lamp and held it up for the beam to shine into the corner. He saw the soles of two shoes peeking out from under what looked like a skirt. The vagrant was a female. He sighed. This was what he got for leaving the place unlocked.
Nearing the sleeping form, he smelled its foul stench. Seb frowned and wrinkled his nose. The thought of a woman living under these rough circumstances tugged at his heart. He considered letting her stay the night, but thought better of it. Hadn't Manny Jones been robbed by a female last year?
Disgusted, he merely shook her with his foot. "Get up. You can't sleep here."
A moan escaped from the bulk on the floor. He reached out and shook her shoulder, cringing at the layer of dirt clinging to her tattered dress. "Miss. You have got to go."
The female stirred and attempted to get herself up, but she fell back onto the hay. Seb didn't think she was drunk. He would have smelled that mixed in with the other foul odors emanating from this woman, but he didn't.
"Miss." He shook her again with his foot. This time she turned her head toward him and blinked her eyes open. She rolled onto her hands and knees and staggered to her feet, but her knees buckled and Seb caught her before she hit the ground. He hated having to touch her. His good clothes would need to be cleaned. The lady felt light, and his arm wrapped clear around her waist. He began to lead her out of the stall, but stopped a moment when she stumbled again out in the main part of the shop near the lamp. Regaining her footing, the lady winced and looked up at him for the first time.
Seb nearly dropped her when he looked at her face. His heart pounded hard in his chest and he sucked in a breath. Those eyes. Only one person on the face of the earth had eyes that were half brown and half blue.