I needed a break.
My work was my pride and joy, but it could also be exhausting. I was in the middle of casting for my newest show and it was draining me. The price of being a big name was that everyone wanted to work with me.
If you followed Broadway in the last decade, then you knew my name. Everyone did. I’d become a sensation. A legacy , they’d called me. I was basically raised in the theatre. At the tender age of five, I’d been orphaned and taken in by my Uncle Lambert. Lambert Beauchamp had whisked me off to New York City, where he was a Broadway legend. I went to school during the day, but from 3:00 til nearly my bedtime, I lived and breathed theatre. No one was really surprised when I followed in my uncle’s footsteps, especially after he grew too sick to continue his passion.
I knew I owed my career to Lamb. No one in their right mind would have offered an opportunity to direct a Broadway show to a 25-year-old woman if they hadn’t been Lambert Beauchamp’s niece and protege. And yet, that’s how it happened. I’d sought out the opportunity, expecting to be rejected; and yet, I hadn’t been. I had been determined to prove that I was worthy of the title on my own merits. Lamb had sat in the front row, smiling ear to ear, on the first night of my first show.
Ten years later, I was getting ready for my next show. Living up to my reputation could sometimes be a lot to handle. There were no free passes, and everyone expected the best from me. The best cast, the best show, the best ticket sales. I was supposed to be the wunderkind, but it came with an immense amount of pressure.
That was how I found myself at a bar far away from Broadway on a night in the middle of my casting season.
It was just supposed to be a night to myself, a break from the annoying people who were part of the beginning stages of the production and the pressure the world placed on me. I’d ordered a drink and was sipping my martini as I scanned the crowd. When alone in a crowd, some people liked to people watch. I was different. I liked to look at people and decide what role I’d cast them as. Particularly annoying people were instantly recognizable, and cast as such.
That night I found herself playing my little game. I looked at the blonde woman by the bar, drinking some fruity concoction. Laurey in “Oklahoma” , I decided. My eyes drifted to the older man across the room, desperately trying to win the attention of the woman near him. The Wizard in “Wicked,” I chose, though I left my mind open to other suggestions. My eyes caught a man wearing a thick sweater and a peculiar expression. I giggled to myself as my mind landed on a decision. Rum Tug Tugger in “Cats.” I spotted a young woman in heavy makeup with a look of consternation, surrounded by men. Aldonza in “Man of La Mancha .”
I continued my game until my eyes landed on the tall redheaded man by the bar. My breath caught in my throat at the sight of him. He was particularly handsome, with a mop of curls and piercing blue eyes. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He was captivating. I watched as he moved with a grace that a body his size shouldn’t have. I knew I was staring, but I couldn’t stop. He was caught up in a conversation with the bartender, so it was innocent enough to stare. He had yet to notice me anyway.
But then his eyes flicked up and met mine. I coughed on my martini as I’d been caught. The corner of his mouth flicked up in a small smirk. Looking anywhere but at him, I tried to pass it off. When I couldn’t help it any longer, I glanced back at him.
He was gone.
I took a deep breath, trying to slowly look around the bar to see where he’d gone. Perhaps he’d been creeped out by the woman so openly staring at him and had left. Turning my head to the left, I scanned counter-clockwise around the bar to see if I spotted him.
“Like what ye see?”
My head whipped to the right, seeing the man standing next to me.
“Dear Lord,” I muttered. “I’m so sorry, I was just a bit spaced out. I didn’t really even know I was staring. My apologies.”
He grinned. “Are ye sure about that? Ye didna look very spaced out.”
I raised my eyebrows at him. “Wow. What, do you want me to have been staring at you?”
The man shrugged, the smug grin still on his face. “I canna say I mind it from such a beautiful woman.”
“And if I was ugly, then you’d mind it?” I countered. He’d been blunt enough with me, so I decided to be blunt myself.
He burst out laughing. “Fair enough. Ye’re a bold one then, aren’t ye?”
I shrugged. “Perhaps.”
“Do ye mind if I sit?” he asked, gesturing to the chair next to me.
“You want to sit?” I asked, admittedly a bit surprised. I wasn’t used to men wanting to spend more time with me once they’d been exposed to my bite.
“Well, I’m a tall man and I’m craning my neck a bit looking down at ye,” he reasoned. “And if it’s alright wi’ ye, I mean to keep talking to ye.”
I fought the grin threatening to spread on my face. “Well it seems you’ve made up your mind then.” I took a look at him and decided to give him a bit more. “I suppose I wouldn’t be remiss to have some company. Seems better than drinking alone. Though I don’t know why you’d want to come over here.”
He looked at me, watching me for a moment. “Like ye said, tis better than drinking alone.” He took a long drink of his whisky, watching me over the glass. I felt myself subconsciously crossing my legs a bit tighter. “Canna help but notice the accent,” he remarked. “What brought ye here from Merry Old England?”
“I’ve actually lived here most of my life,” I admitted. “My uncle was English as well and helped me keep the accent.” He nodded thoughtfully. “Can’t help but notice the Scottish brogue. What brings you here?”
The man shrugged. “I suppose I was a bit reckless. I didna want the life I was expected to lead, so I left and came here, ready to follow my dreams.”
I nodded. “And how has that worked out for you?”
“Some weeks, rather well. Other weeks, no’ so much. But as far as my family is concerned, I’m living my best life,” he confessed with a chuckle.
“I suppose we’re all just out here trying our best,” I offered.
He nodded, his eyes still watching me. “That’s kind of ye to say.” He held up his hand in signal to the bartender. “Another whisky and another one for her as well.”
I looked down at my nearly finished drink. My original plan for the night had been a drink, maybe two. This was the bottom of number one. Based on the look from my companion, I wondered if my plans would end up changing.
I cleared my throat after downing the rest of my drink. “So what brings a man such as yourself out for a drink by yourself in the middle of the week?” Without meaning to, I leaned a bit closer to him.
He took a deep breath, seemingly debating his answer. “Just needed a break.”
I smiled. “I know what you mean.” I shook my head. “My life can be a bit more demanding than I want it to be. I worked my arse off for it, but sometimes I wish I’d chosen a simpler path.” Sighing, I felt the need to continue. “I don’t want to sound like I’m ungrateful or anything. I suppose sometimes I just wish people expected less from me. I wish they could see that I’m doing my best.” I looked down at my drink, wondering why the hell I was sharing so much with a complete stranger.
“Well, I’m sure the people in yer life ken that ye’re doing a fantastic job and will continue to do so,” he said with a smile.
I narrowed my eyes at him, a matching smile on my face. “That’s an awfully kind thing to say for a man who knows absolutely nothing about my life. You don’t even know my name.”
He scooted a bit closer to me. “Well, go ahead. I’m all ears.”
I watched him for a moment before I stuck my hand out to him. “Elizabeth,” I lied. It wasn’t a full lie; my middle name was Elizabeth.
His hand wrapped around mine as he stared back at me. “Malcolm,” he said.
“Nice to meet you,” I replied lamely.
I expected him to release my hand, but he didn’t. Instead, he brought my hand to his lips and placed a kiss on the back of it. I held my breath as I watched him. “The pleasure is mine.”
I swallowed thickly, slowly taking my hand back. “So, how did you do it?”
“Do what?” he asked, taking another drink of his whisky.
“Make such a brave move?” I explained. “You must have been nervous to move so far away from everything you know.” I inched closer as he started to answer.
“Och, it was nerve wracking to be sure,” he admitted, “but at a certain point, I just had to commit to it. What I wanted was here, and no matter how comfortable Scotland was, it was never going to offer me the same opportunities.” His hand dropped, grazing my knee. “Like the opportunity to meet a lass like yerself.”
I felt myself blush as I looked down. Glancing back up, I shook my head as I caught his gaze again. “What a line.” Trying to play it off was key. My body had reacted to such a simple thing as a light touch from him. I had to be careful. “What was at home that you were so desperate to get away from?”
“My family has a farm. Has had one for generations,” he told me. “I was due to inherit it, but I didna want it. It shall be my sister’s now. That type of work wasna for me.”
I couldn’t help but look him up and down carefully. “You’re quite sizeable aren’t you?” I said.
A half smile curved his lips and he nodded, clearly wondering what I was up to. “Big enough for most things,” he answered.
I grinned, fighting the images swirling through my mind of things he was big enough for. “So, I’d think you’d be perfect for that type of work. Lifting things, hauling things, turning over a field and such.”
His eyes betrayed nothing as he watched me. “Oh, I’m plenty strong,” he assured me. “I’m fit enough for the work, I just dinna want to do it. Some people live for it, but I thought it would leave me with a life I didna want.”
“There are easier paths than the ones we’ve chosen,” I said, somewhat to myself. “Do you think it makes us brave or crazy to go with the lives we’re leading?” My hand grazed his arm where he leaned against the bar. Our conversation was mostly innocent, but the body language between us was starting to say otherwise. I felt drawn to him in a way I hadn’t felt towards anyone in a long time. We were sitting incredibly close to each other, our knees almost touching. We’d started out at a respectable distance, but over the course of our conversation, we’d grown much closer.
He leaned in close to me, his face mere inches from mine. “I like to think we’re brave.” His hand landed on my knee, just next to his own.
“I don’t know that I am,” I muttered. He looked at me questioningly. I sighed. “Everyone knew what my life was going to be before I even made the choices for my life. And maybe it was because everyone could tell what I was passionate about even before I could. But I think back on my life, and it’s all been perfectly routed. What you did — leaving Scotland, your home, your inheritance, everything — it’s almost reckless. I’ve never done anything reckless in my life.”
Malcolm watched me as he finished his drink. I followed suit and took a long sip of my own. “I can think of something reckless ye could do.”
I took a deep breath as I caught his intense gaze. “Yeah, and what’s that?”
His hand squeezed my knee, lighting a fire within me. “Kiss me,” he suggested.
I looked down at his lips before I met his eyes again. Leaning in slowly, I placed my hands on either side of his face. He didn’t move forward, waiting instead for me to go at my own pace. His eyes fluttered closed, as I was merely a breath away from him. I glanced up at his face once more before I closed my eyes and pressed my lips to his. He responded quickly, meeting me in kind, his free hand grabbing on to my waist. My body was coming alive, and it was only a simple kiss. Quickly, I pulled back, looking at him. As he stared back at me, he almost looked a bit dazed.
His thumb traced a line across my knee where his hand still laid. A line of fire followed in its wake.
“So how did it feel being reckless?” he asked, his voice just above a whisper.
I decided that, for once, I was going to listen to my body and not my mind. It didn’t make sense that a complete stranger could make me feel this way. But in that moment, I didn’t care.
I took a deep breath, looking him in the eye. “Honestly, it didn’t feel all that reckless to me.”
His brow furrowed as he processed what I said. “Oh?” He tilted his head, appraising me. “Well I suppose we’ll have to think of something better to do.”
I leaned forward again, my hand clutching his shoulder. “I can think of something.” He nodded for me to continue. I stood up, whispering in his ear. “Take me home with you.”
The ride in the cab felt excruciating. He’d given me a hard kiss as a yes before we left the bar, but then we tried to keep our hands off each other in the back of the cab. It wasn’t entirely possible though. My hand laid over his, my fingers drawing patterns against his skin. He moved his hand, running it against the side of my leg. I shot him a dangerous look. Finally, we arrived outside a rundown-looking building. Suddenly, I wished I’d taken him back to my place instead. I stood on the sidewalk as he paid the cabbie, looking up at the building. It was a far cry from the Central Park West apartment I had where I stored my pride and joy: my Tony Award. But I kept that place from random men for a reason. Hell, I hadn’t even given this one my real name.
“Tis no’ much, I ken,” he said, looking over at me. “But it does the trick.”
I didn’t know what to say back. I watched him for a moment, an awkwardness between us. “I’d love to see inside,” I finally replied. He smirked, grabbing my hand and directing me inside.
He started climbing the stairs and I followed, taking in the view of his tight arse. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on that. For the hundredth time, I pictured it — what was to happen — and my stomach tightened in anticipation. Malcolm slowed down, looking back to me. He reached a hand out to me and I gave him mine. As I reached the landing, he pulled me against him, kissing me deeply. He turned and my back hit the wall. My gasps were lost between us as his tongue ran along my lip. I opened my mouth, letting him in. His hands ran along my body as my fingers wove through his hair.
When his hands found my ass, I finally broke apart. “Bed,” I breathed.
His eyes were dark as he met mine and I felt proud of the disheveled sight of him – his kiss-swollen lips and messed-up hair. “Aye,” he replied, taking my hand again and leading me up another set of stairs. We stopped at the third floor and walked halfway down the hall. His hand shook slightly as he pulled out his keys. I understood the feeling. I was shaking with desire and the need for him to touch me again, to touch me in new places.
He opened the door and let me in before quickly slamming it behind him. Pulling me to him again, his mouth was quickly on mine. We were in a frenzy, both of us trying to be close and also strip off our clothes. I needed him and I was pretty sure he felt the same way. I was down to my bra and my panties when he stopped. His shirt was hanging in his hand as he stared at me, his mouth slightly open. Feeling a bit self-conscious, my hands came up to cover myself. “No,” he urged. I looked at him, unsure. “Ye’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
I walked closer to him, running my hand down his toned chest. My hand stopped at the waistband of his jeans and I reached for the button. He took a deep breath as I grazed the bulge of his pants. He was ready. There was no doubt about it. I slowly unzipped his pants, pushing them down for him. He stepped out of them, bringing me against him again, our lips meeting once more in a passionate frenzy. Somehow, my back ended up against his door as he started kissing his way down my body. I unhooked my bra and threw it behind him. His eyes darkened as they locked on my chest. Soon his mouth followed, his tongue swirling around a nipple, driving me crazy. His hands ran down my sides, pulling my panties down. I watched as his mouth moved from my chest and down my stomach. He looked up at me, seemingly for reassurance. I nodded, and his mouth found its way between my legs.
I cried out, clutching his head in my hand. His tongue was lapping at my core, swirling around in amazing patterns. He was quickly winding me up and he hadn’t even used his hands yet. His hand ran up my left leg, pulling it to rest on his shoulder. He reached up with one hand to hold me in place as I felt my knees grow weak. He added his fingers to the mix, finding my clit and sending me further to the edge. I tried to ignore the noises I was making. It had been a long time since I’d been with anyone, and I felt certain I’d find my release quicker than I expected. It was already so close.
Soon, he found the right spot within me and I cried out again. He repeated the motion again and again, until I was clenching around his fingers, collapsing against him. Malcolm put my leg down and stood up. He met me for a sloppy kiss, the taste of me still on his lips. He bent down as he kissed me and picked me up. I felt weightless in his arms as he carried me with ease to his bed, not breaking away from me until he laid me down on the bed. Stepping back, he pulled off his boxers, showing himself off for me. Sizeable indeed , I thought to myself.
I laid back on the bed, motioning for him. I needed him inside me and there was no denying that he was clearly ready as well. He crawled over me, leaning down to kiss again. I pulled him closer, writhing beneath him. He broke away for a moment, fumbling through his bedside drawer. Brandishing a condom, he chuckled in success. I grinned, grabbing it from him and tearing it open. He groaned as I slowly rolled it on, squeezing him in the process.
Once it was on, there was no more pretense. He stared at me for a moment before guiding himself into me. I moaned loudly as I felt that all-too-familiar stretch. He was in to the hilt and kissed me as he started moving. I clutched him to me as I met him, thrust for thrust. His mouth attached to my neck, working on leaving a mark, and I found I didn’t mind that I’d bear a reminder of this evening. My leg wrapped around his waist as I felt his bite. His hand held my leg there, squeezing tightly. It was passion and frenzy between us, pushing us further and further. We weren’t exactly gentle with each other in our mutual race toward release. My hips met his again and again, and he panted words I couldn’t understand in my ear. Finally, it hit me that he must be speaking Gaelic. I grabbed his arse in both hands, pulling him further into me. He groaned, moving to kiss me deeply again. His tongue moved against mine in a similar rhythm to his hips.
He moved his hand down to the place of our joining. I keened as he found my clit again, bringing me to the edge. He was close too, and by the look of determination on his face, I could tell he was trying to time it all just right . Leaning down, he whispered to me, urging me along. With one final thrust, I was coming, my walls tightening around him. He shook above me with a loud groan, and he was there too. His arms gave out and he collapsed on top of me. I wrapped my arms around his sweaty body, not completely minding the weight of a spent man on top of me. Soon, he moved, flopping down next to me.
I chanced a glance over at him and he was staring at me, a broad grin on his face. A matching expression was surely on mine as I laid there panting. My night had certainly diverged from the original plan, but I didn’t mind one bit. Instead I laid there, contemplating if I should stay or go home. Staying meant I might be rewarded with a second round. As if he could read my thoughts, his hand came to rest on my upper thigh. He wasn’t starting anything, but he also wasn’t necessarily letting me leave.
We laid there for a while, both recovering our breathing. He moved at one point, jumping out of bed and walking out of the room. I wondered where he was going, but not enough to muster up the energy to follow him. Quickly, he returned with two glasses and a bottle of whisky tucked under his arm. “Feel like a dram?” he asked, a grin still on his face.
He poured us both a glass and handed mine to me. I lifted it up and he clinked his glass against mine with a chuckle. We drank silently. For whatever reason, I felt the need to break the quiet.
“This is good whisky,” I mused.
He had a devious look about him. “Aye, it is. But I have a suspicion.”
I watched him as he inched closer to me. “And what’s that?”
“That it’ll taste even better from yer lips.” He closed the distance between us, pressing his lips to mine and quickly deepening the kiss. His tongue was in my mouth, dancing with mine. I moved closer, nearly into his lap, as he continued to kiss me deeply. He pulled away suddenly with a pop. “I was right.”
I climbed the rest of the way into his lap, feeling brazen. I downed the rest of my glass, slamming it down on his bedside table. “Oh yeah? Well then maybe you should have another taste.” Before he could reply, I’d wrapped myself around him and crushed my mouth to his. His hands held me in place, one against my back, the other on my arse. My hips rolled against his as our tongues twined together. My hands were in his hair, holding him to me. As I felt him stir against my thigh, I knew my mind had been made up from the second I walked in the door.
I wasn’t going home that night.
He broke from me for a moment, readjusting himself on the bed and bringing me with him. His back was against his headboard as I still sat in his lap, straddling him. I kissed him again, with more intent this time, letting my hands rove where they pleased. His hands held tight to my arse. I could tell he was already fond of it. I rolled my hips against his again, and he replied by holding me tighter against him.
I ended our kiss and stared at him before I reached for his drawer. Feeling around, my fingers finally found the foil wrapper I was looking for. I had the wrapper half torn off before I was back in my original position on his lap.
“Do it,” he urged, as if I needed encouragement.
I rolled the condom on him and knelt above him. Taking him in slowly, I sat back down on his lap. He looked deep into my eyes, watching me as I started to move on top of him. “ Christ ,” he sighed, leaning his head back against the headboard.
I reached and moved his head to look at me again. Our eyes were locked as we moved together. I leaned down and kissed him hungrily. He wrapped one arm around my waist as his other hand wove through my hair, refusing to let me break our kiss. We rocked against each other, desperate to find our release again that night.
The sweat was cooling on our bodies as we laid there breathlessly. Sleep found me quickly after a night like that.
I woke the next morning, unsure for a second where I was. Looking down at my naked body half-covered by the sheet, I suddenly recalled what had happened the night before. I couldn’t fight the smile on my face as I turned to look at my bedmate. My smile faded as I saw the empty spot next to me. Before I could grow upset, he stumbled into the room.
“I’m so sorry, but I’m afraid I have somewhere I have to be this morning,” he said as he hastily tried buttoning up his shirt.
I pulled the sheet with me as I got out of his bed, suddenly more shy in the light of day. “Not to worry,” I assured him. “I actually do too.” I found my clothes and dressed myself quickly. Once I found my phone and checked the time, I was grateful that he had somewhere to be. It wouldn’t have been good to miss auditions that day.
My shoes were on and I was nearly out the door when he stopped me. He kissed me again, a mere echo of the fire the night before. This was almost tender. And to be honest, it frightened me a bit. How was I reacting the same way to such tenderness?
We walked down to the sidewalk together. I hailed a cab and was ready to jump in when he stopped me for the second time that morning. “We should see each other again,” he suggested.
“That sounds great!” I agreed before closing the door in my haste.
As the cab pulled away, I realized we had no way to get ahold of the other. It had been a mindblowing night to be sure, but maybe that was all it needed to be. The entire way to my home, I tried to convince myself of that. I showered quickly and did my best to make myself look as decent as possible. There was no denying the fact that I’d had more to drink and had less sleep than usual. That combination was bound to show on my face. A scarf was a must that day, as I needed to cover up the marks he’d left.
I wore big sunglasses and carried a large coffee as I strolled into the theater, walking over to the director’s seat. “Good morning,” I said in a quiet voice.
John laughed at the sight of me. “Christ, Claire, you look like shit!”
“Good to see you too,” I retorted.
“Isn’t it a bit unprofessional to be coming in in this state?” Marilyn asked me. She was always the annoying one with the stick up her butt.
Before I could defend myself, John stepped in. “She’s fine. She just looked like she had a hard night,” he said with a chuckle.
“Actually, I had a bloody fantastic night. I’m just having a bit of a rough morning,” I clarified.
“Well if you feel up to it, maybe we should start the auditions for the lead,” Marilyn said pointedly.
“Yes, let’s,” I agreed with a roll of my eyes.
Three men had come and gone, not making much of an impression on me. My mind desperately wanted more sleep, and these boring actors weren’t doing much to keep me awake. I took a long swig of my coffee between auditions.
“Alright,” John said, looking through a stack of papers. “And our next one is...Jamie Fraser.”
I nodded, not really listening. The sound of the door opening off-stage caught my ears but I barely processed it. My body reacted to the sight of him before my mind caught up. His eyes went wide for a split second at the sight of me before he schooled his face. “ Oh fuck ,” I whispered, looking ahead at the man who’d thoroughly done so the night before.
He cleared his throat up on the stage. “Hi, I’m Jamie Fraser and I’m auditioning for the role of Peter.”
“Very well, Mr. Fraser,” John answered. “Give us your best.”
Jamie ( Jamie? ) nodded and adopted a professional posture, ready to begin his audition. I slouched slightly in my seat, my face feeling hot. Seconds before he started speaking, I muttered to myself.
“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ.”