Chapter 1: Infatuation
Jamie had spent a lot of years in pubs – it was a place he went back to time and time again, always looking for a way out. A way out of the pain, of the heartache and loss. He drowned his sorrows and at the bottom of the bottle, he never found what he was looking for.
One time, however, a fateful encounter in a pub changed the rest of Jamie’s life – he found what he had been searching for all along. Love.
She was standing on the stage, her curly mop of brown hair with a mic in her hand, doing her best Stevie Nicks impersonation. Jamie was mesmerized, he couldn’t take his eyes off her – and he didn’t want to.
Her voice was calling to him like an enchanting mermaid, so he walked a little closer to the stage, forgetting that he had just ordered another whisky. The woman was swaying, her hips moving in such a tantalizing way.
“Blue-gray eyes they change with the colour
Change with the sun they run with the sight”
He could tell she had a bit to drink already from the way that she laughed, and Jamie decided then and there that he wanted to spend the rest of his days making this woman laugh.
“They change with the wind but they’re always bright
Bright eyes Blue Denim
Bright eyes Blue Denim”
Jamie’s breath got stuck in his throat when the woman’s whisky coloured eyes met his blue ones, she winked and he thought his legs would give. Still singing, the curly head slowly made her way to him, her mouth curled up into a smirk, and sang in front of him – as if he was the only one in the pub. His blue eyes were stuck on her and his mouth was shamelessly hanging open, while all the alcohol in his blood seemed to evaporate.
Her lips formed the lyrics, but Jamie didn’t hear anything, couldn’t focus his mind on anything but her and the effect she was having on him.
Jamie didn’t even notice the song ending and the woman looking at him with an amused grin, “You’re drooling.”
He shook his head slowly, coming back to reality – to the sounds of cheers and applause for the woman whose lips were smirking at him. Speak damnit!
“That was… “ He started, unable to find the right word to describe what he had just seen and felt.
“Horrible?” She said with a thick British accent. “I know, I don’t usually get up and sing but I’m afraid I’m a bit tipsy!” The woman turned and handed the mic to someone on the stage, and then started walking over to the bar.
“I’m Jamie!” The words came out of his mouth before he understood what was happening but they made the Englishwoman turned around again to look at him smirking, “Thank you for that information.” She continued her path to the bar and took a seat on one of the stools. Jamie followed her, feeling brave and sat down next to her.
“Are ye not goin’ to tell me yer name, Sassenach?”
“Sassenach?!” She laughed, her mouth open in offence. “I will not tell you my name since you already have such a rude nickname for me.” The woman crossed her arms over her chest, sitting up straight.
“No! No,” Jamie tried to correct himself, “I mean it in a good way, of course, I would never…”
“I’m only joking, Jamie.” She smiled, her hair shaking slightly as she turned her head to him.
At the sound of his name on his lips, he felt it. The pieces of his heart coming back together, slowly but surely… he was being healed.
“I can keep callin’ ye, Sassenach if ye prefer no to tell me yer name,” Jamie lifted his eyebrows slightly.
She stuck her hand out in front of him, “It’s Claire. Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp.” She smiled, “There. Now you know my full name.”
“I’m James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser,” Jamie brought her hand to his lips.
Claire giggled softly, “I’m too drunk to remember all of those, Jamie.”
“If ye’re standing it means ye’re no’ that drunk,” Jamie smiled, watching her, “That’s what my Da used to say.”
“He might be right, but still I believe I’ve had enough to drink… and I’m sitting down,” she laughed.
“Och, I thought I could offer ye another one?”
“Water then,” Claire nodded her head.
“Two glasses of water it is,” Jamie winked – or tried to, something that made her laugh again – and quickly got them both a glass of water, “Ye have a lovely voice, Claire.”
“Oh God no,” She held up her hand, waving it in front of her chest. “I cannot sing, but it’s something fun to do when I have a night off. Yes, I like to spend my nights off, alone in a karaoke bar, you can judge me,” She grinned.
“I wasna judgin’ ye, Sassenach.” Jamie grinned back, “I come to this pub a lot, but I’ve never seen ye.”
She looked up at him, her eyelashes fluttering, “Maybe you just weren’t looking before.”
“Och no trust me I would have noticed ye,” Jamie took a sip of his water – it wasn’t the warm rush of whisky he was so accustomed to, but he was getting drunk on Claire, and that was enough.
“Sure,” She smiled shyly, hiding her face in her curls. “What are you doing later?”
“Talkin’ wi’ ye of course!” Jamie smiled, bumping his knee against hers.
“Is that so?” She quirked up her brow.
“Aye. That is… only if ye want to.”
She looked down at her hands, her fingers fiddling with her left ring finger, but it was bare, then back up at Jamie. “I do. Only maybe not in this bar… it’s really dark and I can’t even see you properly.”
“So where would ye like to go, Sassenach?”
He took her hand and they both stood up, walking out of the pub and onto the streets of Edinburgh. The night air was crisp, and it felt like one of those nights where anything was possible – anything could happen.
Jamie started walking in the direction of the royal mile, relishing in the quietness of the city so late at night – removed of tourists and music. Even though it was a cold night, neither of them had their hands in their coat pockets – leaving a chance for their hands to “accidentally” bump into the others.
“How does an English lass end up in Scotland?” Jamie asked, slowing his pace so she could keep up with him.
“Because of my residency, I’m a doctor. Well soon anyway,” Claire pushed a stray curl behind her ear.
“I kent ye were smart,” Jamie smiled.
“You flatter me so,” She laughed, placing her hand over her heart.
“Nay, I dinna think I can flatter ye, tis’ only the true, Sassenach.”
“And what do you do?”
“I paint,” He shrugged.
“So you’re an artist?”
“No,” His mouth curled up into a smile – he never saw himself as an artist, “I just paint.”
“I would like to see some of your paintings one day,” Claire said as she slid her fingers through his, “If you’ll show me.”
“I’ll show you anything you want, Claire.”
“That’s what she said,” Claire laughed, making Jamie scrunch his nose, his eyes squeezing shut.
“I didna ken ye liked to make dirty jokes, Sassenach.”
“Oh yes….” she winked. “You have no idea just how dirty I can be.”
Jamie’s heart almost stopped beating in his chest, and Claire must have noticed because she squeezed his hand before smiling a bit awkwardly. “Oh it’s Princes Street Garden, want to sit?”
“Aye.” Jamie followed her lead over to a nearby bench under a lamppost and for the first time, he really saw her – those deep whisky eyes, full lips and rosy cheeks.
“You said you go to that pub a lot…” Claire pulled his hand to rest in her lap, anything to feel him close.
“Aye, I go to a lot of pubs actually,” He looked down at their hands, noticing her smooth white skin.
“What are you trying to forget?”
“I’ve lost someone,” He said softly. “Two people actually.”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“I dinna wanna bore ye wi’ my burden,” Jamie shrugged as if his shirt was too tight.
“No you wouldn’t,” Claire looked at him, “I’ve lost people too…I get it.”
“My brother… and my Da. A car crash,” his voice trembled. “It’s been hard – after they died… I havena felt like a real person. Do ye understand that maybe?”
“I do,” Claire smiled warmly, and he could see in her eyes that she did understand the loss, but most likely not in the same way he did.
“But I like talking to ye, a lot. You make me feel like I’m home, and I’ve never really felt like that before.” Jamie brushed his thumb across her cheek.
Claire blushed, “I told myself I wouldn’t let myself feel like this so soon…” She moved in closer to him, “But the way that you look at me…. I never ever do this.” Her lips hovered over his, barely touching and it was him that sealed them together. She tasted warm, like whisky, and Jamie knew that he would never need to numb the pain if he had her in his arms.
His hand settled on her hip, feeling the gentle curve of her body, and he could have sworn that he heard someone moan but wasn’t exactly sure which of them it had been. What started out as a simple kiss quickly grew into a hungry desire to be closer as their tongues met. It was Claire that pulled away first, her chest panting as she placed both her hands on his chest.
“Will you walk me home, Jamie?”
“You’re drunk, Sassenach.” Jamie laughed, but stood, offering her both his hands.
She fell into him, her hands sliding easily around his waist, “Only on you, Fraser.”
Jamie’s hands touched her bare shoulders, feeling a slight vibration run through her body. He held her gaze as he let his hands slid down her body, pausing slightly to trace the curve of her breasts with his fingers. Claire shivered, leaning into him and stood on her toes to kiss him briefly before taking a step back and falling onto the bed behind her.
“Sorcha,” Jamie whispered. He climbed onto the bed, moving one hand up her calf and settling on her thigh. Squeezing it gently, he watched as Claire’s back arched off the bed, and a soft moan left her lips. Her legs parted for him, beckoning him home.
He moved over her body, placing one arm beside her, tangling it in her loose curls, while he took hold of his cock, moving it slowly against her slit. Claire squirmed, bucking her hips, trying to close the distance.
“Yer so beautiful,” He sighed, rubbing his thumb over her lip.
“Jamie,” she panted. “Please,” her eyes sparkled with tears and it pained him to see them. Jamie bent his head and placed a tender kiss against her temple and then slowly pushed forward, opening her up.
“Oh God,” She cried out. Her arms came around him, fingers lightly touching his back and she felt deep scars scattered across his skin. Claire pressed her fingers hard onto his back, into the grooves of his scars and Jamie moaned – not from pain, but from recognition of a deep loss.
He thrust forward several times, losing himself in the sensation of her. Lifting up, Jamie looked into her eyes and saw it – their life together, fifty years from now, and they were happy. He pressed his lips against hers, matching her every moan and sigh.
“Oh God, oh Claire!” Jamie’s body shook, and he pressed his face into the crook of her neck, breathing in her scent. He rolled to the side, cupping her face gently with the palm of his hands but he kept them still joined.
“That was….” she smiled.
“Aye, it was.” Jamie grinned, pressing his forehead against hers.
3 months later
Claire grabbed her bag from her locked, checking her reflection in the mirror. Her hair was a mess and it should be considering she had just finished working an 18-hour shift. Walking towards the door, her friend Rachel Hunter, tapped her on the shoulder.
“Happy Birthday, Claire!” She smiled, drawing her into a hug, “I hope you have some fun plans with Jamie tonight.”
Claire pushed her hair back off her forehead, “Oh, I don’t think we’ll do much of anything.” She looked down at her watch, “It’s already 11pm, not much of a birthday left anyway.” Claire gave her friend another hug and waved goodnight.
She wasn’t big on celebrating her birthday so it didn’t really bother her that she wasn’t able to do anything for it. Wrapping her coat tightly around her to keep out the chilly air, Claire walked out the doors of the hospital. She immediately saw him, Jamie, standing near a tree, with a cupcake and flowers.
Claire walked over to him, grinning from ear to ear, “I thought I would see you at home!” She kissed him, then pulled back, looking down at the cupcake he was holding. “Thank you, Jamie.”
“Och, wait!” He handed her the flowers, a bundle of wildflowers, and pulled out a lighter from his pocket, and lit a small candle on the cupcake. “There we go, now make a wish, Sassenach.”
Claire held the flowers close to her chest, “But what if I already got my wish?”
“Then ye make another,” Jamie beamed.
Taking a big breath, she blew out the candle, and the smoke swirled away into the night. “What kind of cupcake is it?”
“Vanilla with buttercream frosting, just as ye like of course,” Jamie pulled out the candle, tossing it into the grass nearby.
“Jamie! Don’t litter,” She swatted his arm and retrieved the candle, promptly throwing it into the trash nearby. “Now… give me my cupcake!”
Jamie traded the flowers for the cupcake and smiled, watching as she took a large bite, getting frosting on the tip of her nose. “Wait, ye’ve got somethin’…” He bent his head, flicking out his tongue and swiping the frosting off her nose.
Claire wrapped one arm around his waist and they started walking to the car, “This has been a good birthday,” she smiled.
“Has it? Even though you worked all day?”
“I like what I do,” she said and took another bite. “And it’s the first one I’ve spent with you so that makes it wonderful.”
“Oh God, I love ye,” Jamie smiled, and Claire stopped walking.
“What?” She looked up at him, her mouth still close to the cupcake.
Jamie’s cheeks grew red, but he pulled her close, smelling the sugar on her lips. “I said… I love you, Claire Beauchamp.”
“Oh. That’s what I thought you said.”
Jamie didn’t say anything else, hoping but not expecting for her to say it in return. Once he thought the silence was becoming awkward, Claire surprised him by pressing her frosting covered lips against his.
“I love you too, Jamie.”
He kissed her again, savouring the taste of her, and then opened the car door for her. “Come, get it. I’ll draw ye a birthday bath.”
“Oh, yes sir.” Claire put her hand to her forehead in a salute and climbed into the car.
The water was warm oh her skin, and she could feel Jamie’s heartbeat against her back. “Jamie?”
“Hmmm,” he said, drawing his hands over her arms.
“How are you?”
“I’m feeling perfectly happy, Sassenach.” Jamie kissed the spot just under her ear.
“So am I, but I meant… how are you really? It’s been 3 months since you stopped drinking.” Claire’s heart raced, she felt like she was treading on sensitive ground and was worried that Jamie would get mad.
He took a deep breath, sliding his hands over her stomach and holding her just under the swell of her breasts. “I’m doing alright. Some days are worse than others, but it’s no as bad as it used to be… the shaking and the need to drink.”
“That’s good.” She rested her head back on his chest, “Promise me you’ll tell me, if it ever gets to be too much for you to handle.”
Jamie squeezed her, moving one hand to gently cup her breast, flicking his thumb against the hard bud of her nipple. “I promise, Sassenach. Yer my anchor in all of this.”
Claire sighed, letting her eyes shut and Jamie’s hands move over her body. “Thank you for tonight,” she said, feeling like she was drugged from his touch, her thoughts and speech were slow.
“My pleasure,” he kissed the tip of her ear, “Now, let me make ye fall apart.” Jamie slid one hand down over the flat plane of her stomach, feeling her squirm because he knew she was ticklish there. His fingers tapped lightly against her mound, feeling the heat between her legs. Her knees opened for him and he traced her outer lips with two fingers, pressing his thumb against her clit.
Claire started to moan, and the water was moving, daring to slosh out of the tub. Jamie’s other hand began to gently massage her left breast with pressure and occasionally flicking her nipple, eliciting more moans from her sweet lips.
Jamie finally slid his long middle finger inside of her slit, feeling her walls clench around him. “Christ,” he mumbled. She was moving her hips against his finger, begging for it. He started to push his finger deeper inside of her, then drawing it almost completely out before sliding it back in again. With his thumb, he pressed on her clit and watched as she fell apart, moaning and calling out his name.
After Claire’s breath slowed to a normal tempo, he climbed out of the bath, pulling her out and to her feet. Jamie dried her off slowly, wrapping a big towel around her body and picked her up, carrying her to the bed they shared.
As he watched her relax on the bed, her arms lifted high above her head, Jamie realized how much better he was doing. He had only wanted to drink twice since they had met, and both of those times it had been quite easy for him to refuse. It did make him nervous though, wondering if the day would come when he would slip.
Jamie laid beside Claire, running his fingers lightly across her collarbones, seeing the way her chest rose and fell. Never in his life had he felt so inspired by a woman, and it sparked something in him, the need to create. Jamie felt like he was changing for the better – leaving the past behind and finally moving on from the worst day of his life.
Chapter 2: Trust
Almost three years together, there's still secrets to be revealed and talks to be had for these two.
This chapter deals with the subject of alcoholism.
Claire’s graduation day was supposed to be a good one. After years of countless hours of studying, exams and work, it was the day she would officially become Doctor Beauchamp – Trauma surgeon. She had dreamt of that day since her childhood when she had decided at a young age to become a healer and to save people.
But instead of a happy day – it turned out to be the crappiest in Claire’s life. Everything had started well, Jamie had made her some breakfast before he left for his studio and promised to be at the ceremony in the afternoon.
Since they had started dating almost 3 years ago, he had never broken a promise to her…until today when at the time the ceremony started, Claire couldn’t see him in the crowd. She could see her friends and her uncle but her boyfriend was nowhere to be found. She knew once he started to paint, he wouldn’t see time fly but she also knew he would never miss her graduation…at least she thought so.
During the entire ceremony, and the party that followed, Claire faked a smile and lied about Jamie being at home with a bad flu. She lied about Jamie feeling awful for missing this moment – because in reality, she had no idea where he was and why he was not there. Minutes became hours until she could finally escape the party in her honour to go and look for him.
Jamie had always a rough time around May because she knew it was the anniversary of the accident – the one that took his brother and father’s lives – but he had seemed fine this morning and he would always talk to her whenever he was down and on the verge of drinking. He went to his alcoholic anonymous meeting every week, improving month after month, becoming better for himself. His art was thriving – Jamie had recently signed with a prestigious gallery and was preparing his first solo show – and she thought he was happy.
Maybe she had been wrong.
She tried their apartment first but it was empty. She then made her way to the park where he liked to go when he needed quiet time but she could only hear children laughing and saw an elderly couple sitting on a bench. She then looked through the windows of a couple of pubs but Jamie wasn’t there either – much to her relief. The last place Claire hoped she would find him was his studio – his sanctuary.
She rarely made her way there because she knew he didn’t like to show his work until it was done and she respected that. Sometimes though, he would invite her for date nights and they’d end up eating pizza and making love on the mattress on the mezzanine. She loved his studio – it was full of little things that made Jamie…Jamie. From countless books on the shelves to an old record player in one corner, an almost dead cactus – he swore would get back to life – to his numerous dirty paintbrushes and half-finished masterpieces. It was her favourite place because Jamie’s DNA was in every corner of it.
The studio was hidden in Carfax Close and the stairs leading to the door were old and a bit dodgy but she managed. She could see the light was on and she could hear some music inside – he was there. Usually, she would knock but this time, she went straight in. She was hurting and she wanted to know exactly why he did such a thing to her.
Claire expected to find him on his stool, a paintbrush in hand and his eyes concentrated on a painting but instead, Jamie was laying on the leather sofa, a bottle of whisky in his hand and his eyes closed. She stood still, vision blurring, and at that moment, she heard her heartbreak. It was a small, clean sound, like the snapping of a flower’s stem. She had never seen him like this and never thought she would. Yet, here he was.
“Jamie,” Claire did as best as she could to control the shaking in her voice – a mixture of sadness and anger trying to come up at once.
Opening one eye, Jamie raised his bottle, “Sassenach!”
“What the fuck, Jamie?”
“Och, ye sound mad,” Sitting up, Jamie took a sip of his drink.
“Put that bottle away, right now,” Claire said through clenched teeth.
“And why would I do that?”
This wasn’t the man she knew nor the man she loved – but it was a part of Jamie she had known was alive somewhere inside of him and was finally seeing it brought to the surface. Claire was furious and hurt, she wanted to yell and throw objects at his head but she needed to help him first because no matter how she was feeling, living her life without him would be unimaginable.
Claire made her way towards the sofa slowly, her eyes never leaving his. He was drunk and most likely capable of doing something stupid – Jamie was also a tall and strong man who she knew couldn’t hurt a fly if sober but she had no idea how he reacted when he was this intoxicated.
“How much have you been drinking?”
“Like I kept count,” Jamie looked at her almost amused and shrugged. She saw another empty bottle laying under the coffee table and felt her stomach tighten.
Claire sat down next to him and watched his face for a bit. There was something different in his eyes, something she had never seen before and she hoped to never see again. Slowly, Claire took the bottle away from him and put it aside, “Do you feel better at least?”
“What?” Jamie frowned.
“Do you feel better after drinking almost two bottles of whisky and looking like that?”
“Dinna try to be a therapist, Christ,” Jamie ran his hands through his hair, making it stick up. His cheeks were flushed red and his eyes were wild.
“I’m not, it’s a serious question,” Claire crossed her arms and stood straighter. She looked confident but she felt like shit – he didn’t need to know that. In his state, he wouldn’t notice anyway, “Are you thriving?”
“Why are ye here?” Jamie got up at once – not wanting to face her.
“Why am I here? I don’t know maybe because I fucking care about you?” Claire got up too and turned him around, “And look at me when I talk to you,” Her tone was low but firm – she needed to show him she wasn’t afraid of him.
Jamie kept his eyes glued to the floor – he reeked of alcohol and cigarettes.
“If you don’t talk to me and you seek comfort in a bottle, I can’t help you, Jamie. You’re hurting but you don’t want to let me know what is wrong with you. Today was important for me and instead of having a great time, I spent my time worrying about where the hell you were and wondering if anything terrible had happened to you.”
“I dinna ken why ye’re even wi’ me, Claire,” Jamie threw his hands in the air, “I ask myself the same question every day but I canna for the life of me understand why ye would waste yer time wi’ me.”
“This is the alcohol talking, not you.”
“Och no, tis’ me,” Running his hand through his copper curls, he looked at her, “Ye’re wasting yer time and ye will only get hurt from me. I’m no’ good for ye, just leave.”
“I’m not leaving,” She said firmly – first closed and eyes glued on his.
“Leave!” In the two years they had been together, it was the first time Jamie raised his voice to her. But again, she wasn’t scared. She refused to think he would hurt her but she wasn’t going to push him. Without a word, Claire gathered the bottles and quickly made an inventory of the place to see if there was anything similar laying around.
Once she was sure the only beverage in the studio was water, she took a good look at him again and left – it was useless to talk to him in such a state.
Claire sat on the stairs near his door and wiped her wet cheeks while Jamie stayed in his studio. She didn’t know how long she would need to stay there, waiting for him to sober up but she wouldn’t move an inch.
Time passed slowly, and she didn’t know how long she had been sitting there but was startled at the sound of the door opening behind her.
“Claire… will ye come back inside?”
Without a word to him, she stood, bracing herself for the conversation they were about to have. He still reeked of alcohol, and she shivered – Claire had only seen him drunk just the once, the night they met.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” Claire said, crossing her arms over her chest to protect herself.
Jamie walked over to the couch and sat down slowly, his hands dangling between his legs. “It wasna just my brother and Da that died that night. And there’s somethin’ else ye dinna know…”
Claire’s heart sped up, unsure of exactly where this was going.
“It was me who was driving the car that night,” Jamie said softly. “It was me who swerved when I saw the deer in the road, and it was me who killed my father, my bother…and her.”
Claire looked over at him then, seeing his shoulders start to shake, “Her? Who, Jamie?”
“I killed them all,” He shouted, his voice trembling. “We were to be married a month later, me and Mary.”
Married? Claire had never known about any of the women before her, let alone him almost marrying another woman. She felt betrayed by this new information, and she knew it was painful for him to talk about, but they shared their lives together. Apparently, they didn’t share everything.
“I can never forgive myself for crashing the car, but it’s fitting that my punishment should be that I live while they canna…” Jamie stood from the couch and turned to look at her. “Do ye see, why I’m no good. Why I deserve to live in misery, I lost the love of my life and half of my family in one night at my own hands.”
“Love of your life?” Claire stuttered, taking a step back from him. “Is she why you never want to talk about marriage, Jamie?”
“Aye,” he said, looking miserable.
“If she was still alive… we wouldn’t be together would we?” Claire felt tears spill over her cheeks.
“Claire if she was still alive – I wouldn’t have even met you,” He nodded.
“That’s what you believe? Then why exactly did you serve me some bullshit about how meeting me was meant to happen huh?” Claire couldn’t stop her voice from raising, she was growing furious and she knew it wouldn’t help him.
“You told me that your brother and father died in a car crash and that’s why you started drinking, but you never said there was a woman there and you also neglected to tell me about the fact that you were on the scene of the crash, let alone the one driving that night.”
“I was ashamed, Claire! Can ye no see that?” Jamie walked over to her, but paused, seeing her body language shift.
“I do see that Jamie. But what I don’t understand is why you never fucking told me about… any of this! We’ve been together for almost three years and yet I don’t know about the worst day in your life? When everything changed for you… “ Claire looked down at the ground and then back up to his face. “We were supposed to be in this together, Jamie.”
“I ken that, Claire.”
“I would have come to you,” She sniffed. “I would have left my graduation and been here for you because I love you!”
Jamie walked another step closer to her, reaching out his hand to touch her, but she stood frozen.
“I failed you, and I’m sorry. I will never be her.”
His breathing stopping for a solid 5 seconds. “Sorcha… ye canna mean that. This…” he motioned to the mess of the room and to himself, drunk and falling apart, “All of this was my own fault.”
“You promised me, James Fraser, that if you ever felt like drinking that you would talk to me, but I see that the trust doesn’t go both ways.” She started to head towards the door, but Jamie grabbed her arm, pulling her into his.
“Claire! Please!” He was desperate, he needed her more than he needed air to breathe. “Please don’t go, I can’t do this… I –” Tears fell from his eyes and his face crumpled under the weight of it all. His knees gave in, bringing them both to the ground and Claire simply sat there, letting him hold her.
Jamie sobbed into her neck, tears staining her shirt, his breath hot on her chest. Slowly, Claire moved one hand to rest gently on his back and he let out another wracking sob. “Shhh,” she said softly into his ear.
“It’s me who failed ye,” Jamie sniffed, hiding his face in the crook of her neck. “How can you ever forgive me?” He finally pulled back, face puffy from crying. “I ken that ye canna trust me anymore.”
“Jamie…” Claire sighed. “I do trust you. I just don’t understand why you don’t trust me.”
He didn’t have a reasonable answer for her, not then. Jamie pushed back the curls from her face, looking into those whisky eyes that he had fallen in love with. “For so long, I hid that part of my life away. I was afraid, Claire. Afraid that the longer I waited to tell ye… ye would be more likely to leave me. Afraid ye would leave me the minute ye’ll see how ugly I am.”
“You thought I would leave you because of this?” Claire ran her finger across his ruddy brow.
“Aye, ye are goin’ to leave me right?”
Claire pulled him to her, tangling her fingers through his hair. “Jamie, no. I could never leave you. I’m just hurt… wounded.”
“Wounds heal, Sassenach,” Jamie whispered.
“That they do. And yours will too, Jamie.” Claire kissed the top of his head and he pulled back to look at her. “But you need to tell me, you have to. I know that your sponsor has been very helpful, as well as the group, but if we’re going to be in this together… if you’re going to heal from this properly – then it begins with trust.”
Jamie nodded, sniffing, “Aye. Trust.”
“I might not be the love of your life, James Fraser…but you are mine.”
He looked at her, studying every feature on her face. “Oh, Claire. It’s ye who are the love of my life. When I said that –”
“You meant it.”
“Aye,” He focused his gaze on her. He was sobering up a bit from all the shouting and crying but he hadn’t felt this drunk in a long time. “I did mean it. But my life started anew when I met you. So, Sassenach… ye are the love of my life, my new life that ye gave me.”
Claire nodded and looked at him, “You need to rest, you’re exhausted and so am I.”
“Aye, but dinna leave okay?”
“No, I won’t,” Claire got up and offered him her hand, “Come on, let’s go to bed.”
Jamie kissed her palm before grabbing her hand and getting up slowly. Together, they made their way towards the mezzanine and laid on the mattress up there. His arms came around her, enveloping her. “Claire?”
“I’m sorry,” Jamie said, stroking her arm softly. “For missing today. It was meant to be all about ye, but instead, I ruined it by no bein’ there for ye and draggin’ ye into all my mess.”
Claire shifted slightly to rest her chin on his chest, “Jamie. Your mess is my mess. But thank you… for apologizing. I know deep down you weren’t intending to hurt me.”
“No, I wasna.” Jamie brushed his finger against her cheek, “To be honest, I wasna thinkin’ of ye at all. Only my pain and misery, and I wanted to drown myself in it.”
“I’m glad you’re safe, Jamie. Thank God you didn’t do something stupid,” Claire smiled softly, laying her head once again on his chest.
“I don’t want anyone else to know what your skin feels like underneath the sheets, Claire.” Jamie kissed the top of her head, his fingers tapping against her arm. “There’s no one else but ye, and I feel as if the sun doesna shine when yer no around.”
“Oh Jamie,” Claire rose to kiss him. “When we first met, you know I had been recently engaged myself.” Jamie nodded and Claire shifted to sit on her knees, facing him. “I never thought that I would fall in love, not like we did. Not after my first real relationship ended so horribly. But now… lying in your arms,” Claire felt new tears fall on her cheeks and this time they weren’t filled with sadness. “I don’t want to waste another moment, Jamie.”
Jamie slid a hand behind her neck, pulling her to him and placing a firm kiss on her lips. “You don’t have to be afraid, Jamie. It’s just the two of us… we can get through this.”
“We will get through this,” Claire added, almost as a whisper against his lips.
Chapter 3: Commitment
20 years later...Jamie and Claire are still going strong.
She opened her eyes slowly to the early morning sun, and looked over at her still sleeping husband – laying on his back with his hands folded across his stomach. Claire had been hoping he wouldn’t wake at the crack of dawn like he always did, because she had a special birthday plan to wake him up.
Pushing her side of the covers away, Claire moved to her knees and carefully pulled back the sheet covering her husband’s waist. Even in middle age, Jamie had a fit body, always at the gym, taking care of himself – not that Claire minded in the slightest.
She didn’t want to straddle him, because that would surely wake him, so instead she turned her body to face him and placed one hand lightly on his bare thigh. Jamie started sleeping naked again when their kids had grown too old to barge into their room at all hours of the day, and for this Claire was thankful.
As she moved his hand gently on his thigh, she looked down between his legs, and saw his semi-erect cock twitch slightly. Claire’s heart started to race, nervous that Jamie would wake up before she wanted him to.
Leaning over his body, careful to keep her curls from tickling his skin, Claire touched his cock with one finger, from base to tip. Seeing that he only squirmed, but didn’t stir, made her aroused and so Claire took hold of his cock in her hand and placed her lips around the tip. He tasted salty and warm, she smiled to herself and opened her mouth for more of him. As her tongue swirled on his head, tasting the pre-cum that had started to ooze, all of a sudden, Claire felt a large hand on her shoulder.
She turned her face to look at him, and saw two squinty, sleep filled blue eyes peering down at her, with a smirk on the owner’s face.
“Happy 45th Birthday, Jamie.” Claire smiled, and then dipped her head to place a kiss on his cock.
“Are ye tryin’ to give me a heart attack, Sassenach?” Jamie grunted.
“Something like that,” Claire smirked and continued to suck on his length. Jamie groaned, arching his back off the bed and moving his hand to tangle in her curls, which had streaks of grey in them.
“Claire…” Jamie sighed, “I canna –”
She looked up just in time to see Jamie shut his eyes tightly, his other hand twisting the sheets and then she felt him spill himself into her mouth. Claire nearly gagged – it had been awhile since she’d done this to him, but swallowed, and pulled back, wiping her mouth on the back of her hand.
“I’m dead, Sassenach.” Jamie said softly, reaching out his hand for her. Claire climbed on top of him, laying her body flat over his, nuzzling her face into his neck – she was thankful that she too, was naked… but that might have more to do with their extracurricular activities the night before.
“Would you like me to sing?” Claire smiled against his chest, placing a soft kiss there.
“Oh aye, I would.” Jamie grinned, sliding his hands over the small of her back and finally resting on her round arse. Even as they got older, Claire’s arse was still firm – a bit more plump, which Jamie liked, but firm nonetheless.
“But first,” Jamie grabbed both her hips to lift her slightly off of him, and understanding his meaning, Claire reached in between their bodies and took hold of his cock, guiding it to her center.
“Happy Birthday… to you,” Claire started to sing, as she rose off his chest and placed a hand on his belly, sinking down on his hard cock.
She rolled her hips, her breasts bouncing slightly as Jamie pushed himself off of the bed. “Happy birthday to you,” she sang.
Jamie thrust upwards, squeezing her hips, and moved one calloused hand over her breast, kneading and flicking her nipple. Claire’s breath was becoming heavy and quick, making it harder for her to sing.
“Happy,” she moaned and rested her hand on one of Jamie’s knees behind her. “Birthday dear,” Jamie cried out, “Jamie.” Claire sighed, rolling her hips in a figure eight movement and finally moaned as her orgasm took over her body and she fell against his chest.
A moment later after they had taken a breath, Claire lifted up to look at him, brushing a finger across his lips. “Happy birthday to you,” she pressed her lips against his, kissing him deeply.
“Thank ye for making my birthday so good every year for the last seventeen years, Sassenach,” Jamie whispered against her lips, his hand brushing a few curls away from her face.
“You do age like a good wine,” Claire remarked with a smile. Since the day she had met him, his gorgeous face didn’t change a lot, it simply got better – a few lines were gracing the sides of his eyes and a new one on his forehead because he worried about the children so much. His fiery curls were starting to fade into a lighter auburn colour and he discovered his first white hair the other morning.
“Thank ye for the compliment,” Jamie chuckled softly, kissing her nose, “So do ye, Sassenach. I like the grey,” Jamie’s finger touched the grey streak in her hair.
“That’s what happens when you marry someone older than you by three years,” Claire smirked.
“It’s beautiful,” Jamie lifted her chin, “Ye’re beautiful, Sorcha.”
Claire sealed their lips once more, “Smooth talk like that can get you everything you want, Fraser.”
“I already have everything I want, Fraser,” Jamie admitted with a broad smile, his index finger stroking her upper lip. “I never thought at forty five I would be so happy, so fulfilled, so peaceful but I am and tis’ all thanks to ye, Claire.”
Jamie hadn’t touched a glass of alcohol after the night of Claire’s graduation and their argument. It had not been easy, neither for him and for her – who lived in the constant fear of seeing a relapse but they had trusted one another completely and together, took small steps towards his recovery.
“I’m so proud of you,” Claire could barely hide the emotion in her voice and her eyes were shiny with tears about to spill but they were not sad tears – they were happy ones. “And thank you for allowing me to see not only your good side but also the less appealing one and most importantly, thank you for trusting me enough to let me help you.”
“We built a good life together, I canna wait to see what lays ahead for us for the many years to come.”
“I can see lots of love,” Claire winked, kissing his cheek, “And graduations, birthdays, weddings, grandchildren…”
“Och, we have many more years before grandchildren,” Jamie chuckled, “I ken it will happen one day but there’s still time.”
Their oldest daughter Flora was sixteen, Skye turned fourteen in the fall and their latest, Henry was eight. They did have plenty of time to think about grandchildren but they also knew how fast life passed by and they were determined to enjoy every moment.
“Yes, we’ve got all the time in the world,” Claire pulled him close and kissed him tenderly, her legs tangled with his. They kissed thoroughly for a long time, being in their own bubble, in their own world – together and not a care in the world.
After reluctantly getting up, Jamie and Claire took a shower together – that took longer than planned once Claire ended up pinned against the wall while Jamie kneeled down and had what he referred as his “english breakfast.”
They got dressed and went downstairs to find the kids at the kitchen table having breakfast together. After a few kisses and hugs for Jamie by the children and real breakfast consumed, everyone left for their respective activities. Claire left for the hospital and the kids left with Jamie for school before he went to his studio to start some work.
In the early afternoon, Claire left the hospital and made her way to Carfax’s Close to surprise him. She walked up the familiar stairs, remembering the thousands of times she had come here. Once, Jamie didn’t allow anyone to visit him at his studio, but after their argument that night about the car crash and his fiancée, he had welcomed Claire’s presence and even sometimes preferred when she was there to keep him company when she could.
With a light knock to warn him that she was entering, Claire walked through the door and immediately stopped in her tracks.
Jamie was sitting on his stool, not painting, not drawing. Simply sitting on his stool and staring at an unopened bottle of whisky that was sitting on the table nearby.
“I’m no goin’ to drink it, Sassenach.” Jamie said without looking at her.
She pulled off her jacket, walked into the studio and draped it over the couch. “I didn’t think you were.”
“Tis a gift…” He finally met her eye, “From my friend Charlie from University, I suppose he doesna ken about my wee addiction.” Jamie half laughed and then sighed, looking back at the bottle. Claire came to stand beside him, sliding her arm around his shoulder, and he leaned his head against her chest.
“A long time ago, I woulda craved this, mo nighean donn.” Jamie moved his arm around her waist to pull her closer. “Even after that horrible night, I woulda been tempted to drink it and forget what I’d done to ye.”
“But now,” Jamie turned his face to look up at his beautiful wife that had stood by him for so long, “All I crave is ye.” He turned her body so that she was facing him and she straddled him, wrapping both legs around his waist as he put his hands on her back. “Ye are a great surgeon, Claire. Yer a great mother, a wonderful wife. There isna much that ye canna do.”
Claire blushed and buried her face into his neck, breathing in the scent of him, acrylics and his own personal musk. “There’s plenty that I can’t do, Jamie.”
“Ye canna cook, that’s for sure.” Jamie laughed, squeezing her arse gently, making her squirm on his lap. “Ye canna… well. As I said,” He pressed his lips against hers, “Ye can do anythin’ ye put yer mind to.”
“Well yes, that I do, but it’s stubbornness,” she pinched the tip of his nose.
“I still dinna know what ye decide to spend yer life wi’ a loser like me but I’m thankful,” He tried to bite at her finger, but she was too quick.
“Oh stop it, you’re stuck with me forever and nothing you can say will make me change my mind at this point,” Claire kissed him.
“I’ll take that bottle outside, put it on the stairs and I’m sure someone will grab it!” Claire laughed, and untangled herself from Jamie’s lap. When she reached for the bottle, however, she couldn’t control her hand as it started to shake and before her or Jamie could stop it, the bottle went crashing to the floor. Glass and whisky covered the ground, and Claire stood still, staring down at her hand with a subtle tremor.
“It’s okay, Sassenach. Dinna move,” Jamie said quietly and tip toed his way to the small kitchen in his studio to grab towels and something to collect the glass in.
“It’s gotten worse, hasn’t it?” He said when he returned, and bent down to mop up the spilled liquid.
“Only slightly more so than the last time I noticed.” Claire said and feeling defeated, she plopped down on the stool, careful to not let her feet touch the broken glass. “I thought…”
“The doctor said that Parkinson’s can be a slowly developing disease, mo ghraidh,” Jamie did his best to collect the glass into a small pile but left it to attend to his wife. “Claire, look at me,” He tilted her chin up with his hand.
“Yer hand might shake a wee bit from time to time, and ye have that new medication to help with some of the anxiety.” Jamie brushed his thumb across her cheek.
“I know that. But if the shakin gets worse, I’ll have to stop working at the hospital and I don’t want to do that Jamie!” Claire started to cry, and leaned into his body, feeling his arms wrap around her.
“I used to ken a man who had the disease – I was just a lad, but he managed alright. He had good days when the shaking wasna so much.” Jamie stroked her hair, softly whispering things in gaelic she couldn’t understand but eased her nonetheless. “And the man had bad days, when his whole body wouldn’t do what he wanted it to, and he couldna stop the moving.”
“Why are you telling me all of this?” Claire looked up at him, and he wiped her tears away.
“Because, Sassenach, ye will have good days and bad days, that’s just how life works. But that old man also had a wife that loved him and she took care of him everyday. I saw how his life was better because of her in it.” Jamie kissed her softly, “I vow to ye now, Sassenach – that when ye can no longer hold yer own spoon or write a letter, that I’ll be there to help ye every step of the way… just as ye have been there for me.”
“Oh, Jamie.” Claire sighed and pulled his face to hers once again, kissing him with all her strength.
Jamie kissed her back and leaned to the side to grab a paintbrush before presenting it to her, “Let’s paint.”
“I can’t paint and you know that,” Claire looked at him amused.
“We can paint, together,” Jamie took her hand, “Come on.”
“And what do you want to paint?” Claire raised her eyebrow, looking at him amused while he set up a blank canvas and prepared some colours.
“I dinna ken, whatever ye feel like painting,” Jamie smiled at her, making his way to the record player and put on a Stevie Nicks record on.
Claire looked at him, her mouth curling into a smirk as the first notes of “Blue Denim” went off, “Now that takes me back.”
Jamie dipped his brush into the blue paint, “Ye hypnotized me that night, mo nighean.” He began to paint big strokes over the canvas and Claire watched, always fascinated.
Claire dipped her own brush into some of the red paint, but she had something else that she wanted to paint instead of the canvas. She brushed the paint quickly on Jamie’s forearm, smearing the red and he gasped, looking up at her with an open mouth.
“Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp…” he smirked, “Ye take my good paints and ye dinna use them on the art.”
Claire bit her bottom lip, looking up at her husband, “Oh… but you are a work of art.”
Jamie squinted his eyes at her, and then decided two could play at this game. He reloaded his brush with blue paint and swiped it across her chest. “Fair’s fair.”
“My dress!” Claire laughed and looked down at herself, smudged with blue paint. “You’ll pay for this, Fraser.” She swiped at him again but he dodged her, running behind the canvas. With the music blasting and her heart racing, Claire chased him around the studio with her paintbrush in hand.
Jamie was trapped in a corner with nowhere to turn, so Claire walked up to him, pressing herself against his body so that the blue smudge on his shirt. “Let’s make purple,” she sighed and kissed him.
“See,” he growled, lifting her legs and wrapping them around his waist. “Ye do know how to paint.” Jamie laughed, kissing her neck and carried her over to a tarp near the easel, laying her down on her back.
Claire quickly removed her dress and panties, while Jamie made an effort to rid himself of his clothes. He stood above her, naked, his cock throbbing and she licked her lips. “Jamie,” she sighed and held up her hands. He laughed, turning to the side and placing both of his hands into the paint before climbing on top of her body.
“It’ll be cold, Sassenach.” Jamie grinned and then placed both of his paint covered hands over her breasts, squeezing and kneading until her chest and stomach was covered in paint.
She shivered slightly, and moaned as the cool paint covered her skin. She arched her back, smearing the paint over Jamie and placed both her hands on his back to press him against her. Jamie slid home, rolling his hips and chest, gliding over her. Together they rolled around in the paint, laughing and giggling like teenagers, lost in their love.