Dr. Claire Beauchamp looked up from her operating microscope with a scowl. The patient’s tumor had grown since their last scan, creeping further into the abdominal cavity than she had anticipated. It was going to be a long surgery. She rolled her shoulders and narrowed her eyes at the tumor once again.
“Dr. Beauchamp?” A nurse stuck her head in the operating room just before Claire started the redaction. “Your husband called to let you know he had to leave for London earlier than expected.”
“Okay, thank you.” Claire smiled politely behind her mask, then turned back on her patient. Frank’s upcoming research trip had been no surprise. His work as a history professor at Harvard University in Boston gave him opportunities to travel when he was researching for a new book, and this trip had been in the works for months. He hadn’t asked her if she wanted to tag along, which was just as well. Claire had been on many research trips, wandering around small European villages by herself while Frank worked.
No. She’d much prefer to stay home with her work and her patients. She focused her attention back on the microscope and began the grueling process of removing the tumor from her patient’s liver.
By the time Claire pushed open the front door and dropped her bag on the entryway bench, it was past midnight. She toed off her sneakers and padded in sock feet down the hall into the kitchen. The marble counters shone in the reflection of a moonbeam seeping in from the skylight above.
Claire opened the fridge and scrunched her nose as she considered her options. Frank had convinced her to try going vegan, and her eyes dispassionately examined the almond milk, the old whole wheat pasta salad, nutritional yeast, and assortment of vegetables he had purchased. There was a sticky note on a container of tofu stir fry they had for dinner the night before, with a cheerful “waste not want not!” in Frank’s bold black scrawl.
“If you didn’t want it wasted you should have eaten it yourself.” She grabbed the container and opened it, eyeing the cold food doubtfully. “This wasn’t that great the first time around. I can’t imagine reheating would improve it.” With a twinge of guilt, Claire upended the container into the trash and picked up her phone to order Chinese.
45 minutes later she sat in front of the tv watching old seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and slurped lo mien. She had showered and was cross-legged on the couch in a cotton tank and panties with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders.
Setting the takeout container down, she relaxed back into the sofa, hugging a throw pillow to her chest. The characters on screen gave in to the sexual tension and started making love, and Claire could feel her nipples tighten against the soft cotton of her tank top.
It had been, what, months? Frank wasn’t very physically affectionate, so apart from brief chaste kisses goodbye their only intimacies were the rare nights he turned toward her in bed and stroked between her legs until her body was wet enough to accept him inside. He rarely spoke and immediately got up to clean himself afterward. In fact, the last time they had sex he came back in to lay down and fell asleep without speaking a word. Claire remembered laying next to him with cum sliding down her thighs and tears rolling down her cheeks to dampen the mattress below.
Shaking her head to dislodge that unhappy memory, Claire let a hand slide below the blanket to rest on her black cotton panties. She was so busy and kept her thoughts positive as much as possible, so it was normal for her to relieve her own sexual tension without dwelling on the fact that her husband hadn’t ever stopped to consider if his wife had climaxed or not.
Her fingers tapped gently over her clitoris through the soft cotton. She let her eyes caress the actors lost in their passionate embrace and felt her body grow warm and slick.
Pausing the show, Claire moved quickly to the bedroom where she pulled her favorite dildo from the back of her bedside table drawer and opened her phone to the locked folder where she kept a small stash of erotic photos and videos.
She scrolled through until her eyes caught on a gif and she felt an electric jolt through her body. The image was a young man with arms like steel and bright copper curls. His arms were locked around the back and hips of the woman grinding up and down on his thick cock. The gif moved over the same few seconds as his face contracted in pleasure and he came inside the woman. Claire found herself mesmerized by the heavy balls tightening and pulsing as his seed shot inside her body.
She shed her panties quickly and ran the dildo up and down over her labia. The folds were already swollen and slick with arousal, and she was able to push inside with ease. Claire sighed as her body stretched to accept the silicone. She kept her eyes on the gif and pumped it inside of her body in time with the couple on her phone.
Feeling her climax building, Claire focused on the young man’s face as he came. His eyes were closed, but his lips never stopped moving. Almost as if he couldn’t help but speak to his partner, or maybe himself, or God in his moment of release. As the waves of pleasure sent tingles into the edges of her vision, Claire imagined the copper curls under her fingers and the strong arms anchoring her.
“God yes, please don’t stop.” She whispered. Tears crested her eyes and she tipped over the edge into oblivion.
When she became aware of herself again, Claire lazily pumped the dildo into her pussy a few more times, enjoying the aftershocks of electricity in the over-sensitive delicate flesh. She finally pulled it free, laying it on the bed beside her. She glanced at her phone again and studied the man in the gif who had just given her such a beautiful climax.
“Thank you, my lad.” Claire smiled affectionately. “Always grateful for your help.”
She had several images of the same young man, and they were her go-to when she needed to release. Scrolling quickly down, she opened a video where he was wearing a kilt and nothing else, evidenced by the ease with which the woman with him was able to perform oral sex. Claire put the phone down but let the video play, listening to his voice murmur “Right there, lass. That’s it. Mo Dhia, thoir maitheanas dhomh. ”
The Scottish burr sent goosebumps down her flesh and Claire groped blindly for her dildo and slid it home once more. Her knees bent and pulled up to her chest, and she stroked her pebbled nipples as she listened.
“ Dia cuidich mi tha mi a ’dol a thighinn .”
She climaxed again with his choked curse and smiled as she let exhaustion claim her.
Mo Dhia, thoir maitheanas dhomh : my God, forgive me
Dia cuidich mi tha mi a ’dol a thighinn : God help me I'm going to come
Chapter 2: Mac Dubh
Claire held her coffee cup up to hide her mouth as she yawned. It had been a short night and she was back in the hospital, checking in on her patients and prepping for the surgery later that afternoon.
Feeling a buzz in her purse, she swiped open her phone to see a text from Frank.
Quickly, Claire responded with the same words and dropped her phone back into her purse. If she had scrolled back through the past few texts the same pattern would be apparent. Practical messages, like when will you be home or I’m going to stop for takeout, what do you want made up the majority of their communication. The occasional love you came during down times at work or on a trip. More an indication of boredom than feeling.
Claire sighed at her own bitter thoughts and pushed them to the back of her mind. Of course Frank loved her. She was just being a hopeless romantic. Too many novels is what Frank told her last time she asked him to share his feelings. Apparently only fictional men waxed poetic about their wives.
It’s fine. Claire told herself firmly. I’m a practical woman. A surgeon. I don’t need fluff and smut.
As she walked down the hospital hall toward the elevator she heard a voice rise above the others mingling in the lobby behind her.
“Aye, it’s that good of ye to say so, lass. I appreciate it. Just verra happy to be able to help.”
The familiar deep Scots voice made her heart stutter and her steps slow. Of course, it was uncommon to hear that accent in Boston at all. She was being silly. But Claire glanced back over the shoulder and reluctantly made her way back down the hall to peer into the main hospital lobby.
He stood a head above the group he was standing with; the bright auburn head glimmering in the morning sunshine. Claire’s eyes traced his familiar jaw, the stubble that covered his cheeks. He was focused on a young woman in front of him who was wringing his hand and crying. It took Claire a moment to realize he was wearing an EMT jacket. This must be a grateful family member.
She watched as he received another hug from the woman and a handshake from the silent man Claire assumed was her husband. Then he turned and stepped away to join two other men in the EMT jackets and they started walking toward her.
Oh my god.
Claire spun and hurried back toward the elevators, pushing the UP button over and over. It wasn’t actually possible, right? What were the odds that this was the same man she had fantasized about, who had brought her to orgasm more than her own husband?
It wasn’t possible. She took a deep breath as she felt the group of EMTs stop behind her, waiting for the elevator. Turning slightly, she smiled and nodded in their general direction.
“Good morning, doctor.”
She glanced up before she realized what she was doing and found her eyes caught in a deep blue gaze. Claire felt a jolt of recognition followed by the stiffening of her spine. She would not be thrown off by a random stranger, even if he was her guilty pleasure of choice. He obviously didn’t know, and he wouldn’t if she had anything to do with it.
“Good morning,” Claire spoke firmly, extending her hand. “I’m Dr. Claire Beauchamp, I don’t believe we’ve met.”
A big warm hand closed over her own and electricity shot up her arm and through her bloodstream. Their eyes locked again, and Claire felt like he was reading her mind, her face an open book before him. It’s not possible. He doesn’t know.
“James Fraser. This is Ian Murray and John Grey.” He nodded towards his companions who each smiled and shook her hand in turn.
The elevator doors opened and all four of them stepped inside.
“Where are ye headed then, ma’am?” The big fingers hovered over the elevator buttons, waiting for her to direct them. His eyes were trained on her again and she felt her stomach tighten. But she didn’t detect any forwardness or flirtation in his manner, only curiosity. She gave him the surgical floor and he smiled at her and punched in the number.
“We’re going up to the children’s wing to check up on our favorite little lady.” All three men exchanged a grin and they told her about “the wee lassie, Abigail” who they brought in the night before with a broken arm from an accident with her trampoline.
Claire realized that Ian had been holding a small stuffed rabbit, obviously purchased from the hospital gift shop and almost hidden in his big hands.
“I’m sure she’ll be happy to see you three.” she smiled warmly and stepped off of the elevator at her floor. The blue eyes held hers as the doors closed them off from each other. Claire stood for a few moments more, staring at the place where James Fraser had disappeared from her sight. Then she turned and hurried into the nearest restroom.
Locking the stall door, Claire fumbled to take out her phone and key in the password for her private folder. She clicked to enlarge an image and zoomed in till her screen was full of his face, brow furrowed in concentration as he worked. Worked. Claire blinked and scoffed at her own thought. He was a porn star. Or had been at some point. She could tell even from the photo that this James was several years younger than the one she spoke with today.
Lowering herself to the edge of the toilet seat, Claire clicked into the photo’s source site and searched for more information. After a few minutes she had found that the actor had been listed only as Mac Dubh. She typed the words into Google Translate and stared at the result.
So many thoughts were spinning through her head that she clicked the phone off and dropped it back into her bag. Her fingers rubbed her temples as she thought through the events of the past hour. It was definitely the same man. Crazy and far fetched as it was, there was no doubt that James Fraser, EMT was Mac Dubh, the black son whose body was tuned into the same frequency as her own. Even now she could remember the feel of the current that flowed between them when they touched.
Stuff it, Beauchamp. Claire told herself firmly. Then she stepped out of the stall, washed her hands, and headed in to start her shift.
Chapter 3: Banish the Sex God
Red curls tumbled and tickled her belly as she squirmed under the solid grip pressing her thighs flat on the bed. She felt sandpaper cheeks against her most private places and then a wide flat sweep of a tongue from tailbone to navel causing her to convulse underneath the assault.
Claire jerked awake, her whole body thrumming with need. Her hands moved of their own volition to cup her pussy. Her fingers were instantly coated in the hot juices of her arousal and she spread them up and down as she drew her hand over and over the swollen flesh.
“I can’t. It would be so wrong.”
Glancing at the bedside table, she considered the moral implications of pleasuring herself to the erotic images of a man she had shaken hands with only yesterday.
His blue eyes rose up again in her memory; taking secrets out of her mind as if they were written on a paper for him to read at leisure.
Her phone was in her hand before she knew what was happening and there he was. The golden curve of his buttocks clenched over and over as he drove into his partner. His hands gripped her waist and his eyes never left her ass bouncing seductively with each thrust.
Claire watched, mesmerized as his hand slid around her hip and one big thumb pushed into the tiny puckered asshole. Her own fingers pressed gently against herself as a tremble shook her body.
Laying the phone on the bed, Claire rolled to her knees and focused on the bulge of muscle in the iron arms, the thumb and shaft buried deep and pumping into the woman he held, and the lips that never stopped moving as he muttered curses and nonsense in a foreign tongue.
She felt the climax begin deep in her womb, pushing her body to grind helplessly against the friction her fingers provided. Waves of pleasure swamped her senses and she fell on her side, cupping her hand flat over her sex and feeling the tremors vibrate through even after her breathing slowed.
“What is wrong with me?” Claire closed her eyes and turned her face into the blankets.
Groaning, she pushed herself up and turned off the video that was still playing, not even looking at the screen. She shoved the phone under her pillow and stripped off her tank top as she walked into the bathroom and turned the shower on hot.
Scalding water beat against her shoulders and breasts. She scrubbed off all evidence that she had spent time in the imagined embrace of her friendly neighborhood EMT.
Claire twisted her damp hair at the top of her head and clipped it. She threw on an oversized tshirt and padded barefoot out to the kitchen, opening the refrigerator and pulling out a bottle of water, then sliding down to lean against the cabinets.
“Well.” She twisted the cap off her water and took a long drink. “Beauchamp, you’ve got yourself into a situation.”
Whatever the odds, she worked in the same hospital as James Fraser aka Mac Dubh the fire-haired star of several adult films. Short of quitting her job or moving to England she would have to learn how to deal with it.
The best place to start was with some ground rules. She should delete all of the porn she had saved of him. Reluctantly Claire went back to her bedroom and opened the digital stash. She scrolled through the photos and videos, examining them without the heady daze of arousal.
There were probably 6 or 7 different scenes, different women, but all with Mac Dubh in various states of undress and seduction. Claire tilted her head to the side and grabbed her laptop from the bedside table.
After several Google searches she found the information she was looking for. All of Mac Dubh’s videos originated on HottScotsXXX, a small adult film company headquartered in Glasgow, Scotland. They were all first uploaded five years before in the span of about 6 months, and there were 8 videos total plus a gallery of still images from each scene.
Claire eyed the videos she hadn’t seen curiously, but guilt kept her from opening them. She could respect this boundary and not masturbate to James Fraser again. Nodding resolutely, she quickly picked up her phone and deleted everything featuring the younger version of her co-worker.
“Dr. Beauchamp, nice to see ye again.”
His voice sent shivers down her spine, but Claire smiled at the man who had haunted her very pleasant dreams the night before.
“Good morning, Mr. Fraser.” His hair was sticking out in all directions and he had a scrape along one cheek, but when he grinned at her the blue eyes sparkled. “Oh, dinna call me that. I’m Jamie to my friends, and I’d be honored to count you as a friend, Doctor.”
“Claire.” She paused, then turned to face him fully. “If I’m to call you Jamie, you must call me Claire.”
Jamie touched her elbow gently to move her out of the way as a group of interns hurried down the hall. “Watch yerself then, Claire. We can’t have you trampled by these wild wee beasties, aye?”
“Thank you.” She continued toward her ultimate goal of the coffee pot in the hospital cafeteria, looking over her shoulder as Jamie followed. “What happened to your face? It looks like you’ve been in a fight.”
“Och, it’s nothing. I had a bit of a disagreement with a patient about whether or no’ he’d be coming in to be treated.” He shrugged and reached to fill her cup as well as his own.
“And who won?” Claire blew steam from the top of her hot coffee, searching for her favorite flavored creamer in the mix of options. When she spotted it on the other side of Jamie he reached and grabbed two.
“I won, of course.” He grinned again. “Though not without a bit of a stramash. Men dinna like to be told what to do, ken?” They stood in the cafeteria together drinking coffee and laughing till Claire’s name was paged over the intercom and she excused herself.
Hurrying down the hall toward the operating room, Claire smiled to herself. That wasn’t a bad strategy, actually. Get to know Jamie Fraser as a real flesh-and-blood person and banish the sex god Mac Dubh from her memory.
Surely the real man would fall far short of her fantasy lover and her crush would fizzle out.
Chapter 4: A Virgin
“See you soon, darling.”
“I love you, bye.”
Claire pulled the phone down from her ear and disconnected the call. Frank would be home tonight late. Her shift ended at 7 and she could get home in time to clean up the evidence of her decidedly-not-vegan eating habits while he was gone and maybe be showered and shaved so he’d be more likely to...
There was a smile on her face before she even saw the flash of copper and ocean blue. He bounded up to her, breathless and grinning.
“The lads and I are having a wee gathering tonight, to celebrate John’s engagement, ye ken? We’re meeting at The Fox’s Lair and the drinks are on me. Will you join us?”
“Well, of course. I can stop in for a few minutes at least.”
Jamie turned as his name was called by the group of EMTs moving toward the ambulance bay. “Good, lass. I’ll see you tonight then.” And with that he was gone.
Claire stood still for a moment and let that word “lass” digest and settle. He didn’t mean anything by it, that’s just the way he talked. Just because she had heard him use it sexually didn’t mean he always meant it that way.
You literally just got off a call with your husband, Beauchamp.
And that was the dilemma with this crazy crush. She and Frank were coming up on their 10 year wedding anniversary, and even though the relationship wasn’t exciting, they had history. He wasn’t a bad husband, Claire told herself. Absent-minded, yes. Preoccupied with work, yes. Distant, and a bit aloof, but certainly not bad.
No, she was just yearning after new and exciting. Claire had grown up moving from place to place with her Uncle Lamb after the death of her parents, so she wasn’t used to being so firmly settled in one area with a routine for so long. That’s all it was.
This was being an adult. With a real job and a normal husband. This is what normal women did every day and they enjoyed it.
Claire tried not to think about decades of the same old routine, same old job, same house, same conversations, same man that stretched out ahead of her.
Why did a normal life feel so stifling?
Jamie stood at the bar laughing at something Ian was telling him. Claire stood for a moment just inside the door and let herself study him just for a moment in the low light.
The years had been good to him. His chest and shoulders were broader, and his face had lost the hint of boyhood that was visible in the videos she had seen. For all that his alter ego Mac Dubh projected power and sex appeal, there was a level of ease and comfort about him now that drew you in. Of course, having sex in front of a camera crew is probably why that comfort level was gone before, Claire realized with a small start. How odd, to be trying to get to know someone you shouldn’t already be familiar with, but somehow you do know them intimately already.
He glanced toward the door and his face lit up when he saw her.
“There’s the good doctor!” He pushed through the crowd and drew her over to the tables where a small group of EMTs, nurses and other assorted hospital staff were sitting. Claire smiled at them, but even though she had been in her position at the hospital for several years many of the people in the group were only slightly familiar to her.
“Do you all know Dr. Beauchamp?” Jamie asked the group at large. “She’s a sassenach , ye ken, be on yer best behavior.” The group laughed and he gestured her toward an empty seat.
Claire settled in beside a beautiful strawberry blonde who said her name was Geillis Duncan and she was an ICU nurse. It took her a few minutes to realize that everyone around the tables had the same brogue, and asked discreetly if they were all Scottish.
“Och, aye. All but a few.” Geillis sipped her drink. “John is English, but he is marrying a nice Highland lad. We dinna mean to be exclusive. Some of the lads have been friends since childhood, like Jamie and Ian. But most of us met here.”
Claire sensed the warm aura and her body whispered Jamie before she felt his breath in her ear. “Can I get you a drink, Sassenach?” he smiled easily as she glanced back.
“I’ll take a gin and tonic, if it’s not too much trouble. Thank you.”
“No trouble at all.”
Claire turned to find Geillis studying her thoughtfully. She tried to clear any reaction to Jamie from her face as she asked the first question that popped into her head.
“What does sassenach mean? I’ve never heard that before.”
“It means English person, or outlander. Anyone that isn’t a Scot.” Geillis finished her drink with a sigh. “So tell me, Claire. How long have you been in love with our wee fox cub?” Her eyes were full of mischief and Claire gaped at her in shock.
“I’m not! I’m married. We only met last week.” She stumbled over her explanations till Geillis held up a hand. “Aye, I’ve heard it all before. Lasses fall for Fraser like leaves in the autumn. He’s a heartbreaker, that one.”
“Have you fallen for him?” She asked curiously.
“Oh, a time or two. He’s a good lad. He doesn’t carry on with the lassies or string them along like some of the others around the hospital, ken? I’d say he’s a safe one to have a wee crush on and know he’d never take it too far.”
Leaning in, Geillis whispered in her ear. “Truth be told, I think yon fox cub may be a virgin yet.”
Just then, a large arm covered in red-gold fine curls reached around and set a drink in front of Claire. She was frozen in place as Jamie cheerfully joked with Geillis about something she had no frame of reference for.
Well, she knew that wasn’t true.
A vibration against her leg shook her out of the fog and she opened her phone to see a text from Frank.
I’m home. Where are you?
Shit. Shit shit shit. Claire took a gulp of her drink and pushed back her chair. When she stood up Jamie was right there, his scent filling her nose.
“Sorry, Sassenach. Are ye alright? Let me get out of your way, aye?”
He backed up to give her room to get out. Claire turned to Geillis and apologized, “I have to run home, my husband just got back from a trip. It was so nice to meet you!”
When she turned she caught the echo of a confused frown on Jamie’s face. “Yer married, Claire?” His mouth curved into a smile and for a moment she wasn’t positive that she had seen the frown at all.
“I… yes. His name is Frank Randall. He’s a professor at Harvard. History.”
Jamie walked with her toward the exit and helped her with her coat. “Well, next time invite him out with us then. He’d be welcome.” His hands brushed across her shoulders, sending sparks down her arm, but when she looked up to meet his eyes they had a distance in them that wasn’t there before.
“Have a good night, Doctor.”
“Thank you. You too, Jamie.”
Jamie Fraser stepped outside the bar and sucked the cold air into his lungs.
Married. Damn him.
For a moment his fists curled tight, eyes drifting closed. He could feel her solid warmth. Her vanilla scent wafted into his memory.
His eyes flew open in shock. The warm vanilla wasn’t in his imagination. She stood a few feet away, looking uncomfortable and uncertain. Everything in him longed to wipe those emotions off her face.
“Sassenach, are ye well?” He took a step closer and somehow his hand rested on her shoulder. He swore for a second she melted into his touch, but then her back straightened.
No, a nighean. His mind willed her closer but he kept his body in check. It took concentration to remove his hand from her.
“I’m fine, but my car won’t start. Do you happen to have jumper cables?” Seeing his hesitation she hurried on, “If you don’t it’s fine. I can get an Uber, or have someone drive me home. It’s not a big deal.” She turned away and he took the excuse to touch her again.
“Wait, lass.” The delicate bones of her wrist trembled slightly beneath his fingers. Probably from the cold. “I dinna drive today because I planned to be out drinking with John and the rest. But let me get ye an Uber. Come stand here wi’ me till it comes.” He tugged at her wrist gently and after a moment she gave in, leaning against the wall next to him.
Jamie settled beside her and tapped on his phone to get a car. “What’s the address, Sassenach?”
“440 Wentworth Lane.”
“Alright then, done. They’ll be here in ten.”
Silence fell as they relaxed. It wasn’t awkward, just the soft quiet of two people at ease with each other.
“So,” Jamie cleared his throat. “Yer married, then? Tell me about your husband.”
Claire started to speak, then stopped.
“He’s…” She stopped again. “We’ve been married for almost 10 years. We met just before I graduated high school and my Uncle Lamb was dying. I suppose I needed someone.”
She talked then, about living with her uncle since her parent’s passing, and the short whirlwind engagement to Frank before they married in a courthouse the day after she turned 18.
Jamie listened patiently, his heart breaking as he read between the brave gracious words. She didn’t say a thing against her husband, but what she did say struck him wrong. He pushed away the hope that flashed in his stomach when he first realized she wasn’t in love with this Frank.
Och, mo Dhia. Forgive me, but fuck Frank.
To have this treasure in his home, in his bed, in his arms every night for ten years and not cherish her? What kind of man was he?
His eyes caressed Claire’s face as she spoke. And what kind of woman remained faithful and cheerful after ten years with a man who didn’t light a passion in her?
An angel. A saint. Selfless, caring, beautiful…
He didn’t realize he was leaning too close until his nose was brushing her curls and she froze. Jamie tried to pull back, but his body wouldn’t move. Her slight fingers had planted on his chest, as if to keep him from coming closer. They burned his flesh straight through layers of fabric.
“I’m sorry, Claire.”
“It’s… okay.” She breathed and he eased back. “Um, why did you call me Sassenach, before?”
Jamie felt his lips curl into a smile. “I was wondering that myself, lass. It just seems to fit you. I can stop calling ye that if you'd like.”
“Aye. Different. Other. Standing out from the rest. Beautiful and unique ye are, Claire.”
Her breathing had deepened and her eyes were black in the shadows beside the building. Silence fell again between them, but charged with a power he had never felt before.
A car was pulled up to the curb with the window rolled down. Jamie wrenched his gaze away from hers and checked the plate number.
“This is it.” He smiled at her and opened the car door. “See you later then, Sassenach?”
She smiled and nodded. He saw her swallow, but she didn’t try to speak. It was just as well. He might lose control if she said his name.
Closing the door behind her, Jamie watched the car take her away from him and back to Frank.
a nighean : lass/girl
mo Dhia : my God
Chapter 6: Familiar But Wrong
“I’m home!” Claire rushed in the door and dropped her things in the hall.
She walked through the house, seeing the takeout bags had been cleaned up and Frank had eaten at some point and left his dirty dishes in the sink.
Stepping into the bedroom she found him laying down watching a video on his phone.
“Hello, darling. I’m sorry I wasn’t here when you got in.”
He glanced at her and back at the screen. “It’s alright.” When she sat beside him he tilted the screen so she could see the political debate he was absorbed in.
Claire watched for a few seconds and then got up and started changing for bed. She had stepped into a pair of sleep shorts when Frank spoke again.
“Would you mind shaving before you come to bed?”
“I suppose so.” She let the shorts fall and walked to the bathroom, turned the shower on and quickly washed and shaved. When she stepped back into the bedroom Frank’s light was off and he had fallen asleep.
He just got home. It’s okay.
Claire climbed in bed beside her husband and snuggled close to his side, letting her nipples brush his skin and sliding her smooth legs against his. Frank’s breaths came deep and unperturbed. He wasn’t going to wake up short of being physically attacked.
Sighing, Claire rolled to her side of the bed and closed her eyes. There was an ache deep in her belly that had been there since… well, since Jamie leaned too close to her outside the bar and they froze for that moment; his nose in her hair and her hand on his chest.
There was definitely sexual tension between them. And the way he had spoken to her tonight with such tenderness filled her chest with so much warmth. He had called her beautiful and unique. A sassenach.
Claire fell asleep dreaming of iron arms and a faceless man who smelled like musky sweat and mint gum.
In the middle of her dream the ache in her belly began to throb, and then there were fingers soothing and gentle sliding through the folds of her center.
“So wet for me, Claire.”
His voice was wrong. Familiar, but not right for the figure so prominent in her mind.
She woke fully as he pushed her knees apart and slid his cock into her without preamble. Sighing in content, Frank held himself above her and started to thrust.
Claire roused herself, happy that he was excited to see her after all. The firm flesh moving in and out of her pussy hit the aching spot in her womb and she arched up toward him. Her hands clutched his shoulders, trying to pull him down to her, and he lowered himself a little bit. Just enough that she could kiss his neck and chest, even his chin, but he didn’t give her his lips.
Knowing she had limited time to get herself off, Claire concentrated on the feel of being penetrated and filled up. In her mind she saw Jamie’s thick digit breaching what was to her the unexplored territory of anal play. She knew Frank was not interested in that at all, so she didn’t even think to ask him.
Instead she found her brain imagining that calloused finger trailing down the crack of her buttocks, coating itself in her pussy’s sweet nectar, and demanding admittance into her body where no one had been before.
The image was so clear and so deliciously taboo for her mind that she was startled to feel herself coming quickly to a climax just as Frank groaned and shuddered above her.
His weight lay on her fully, and Claire found herself rousing again to the feeling of his cock still embedded in her body. She began squirming and grinding against it, the best she could in her current position. Frank lay still as she came to another completion, a slow burn that overtook her like a train passing through.
When she was quiet beneath him, Frank kissed her shoulder and got up to use the restroom. Claire waited till he opened the door before going in to wipe the cum off of her own body.
She came back to bed and lay in the dark with a storm of conflict in her mind. He rolled close and kissed the back of her head.
“I love you. I missed you.”
Then he was gone. Back to sleep and she felt cold and empty.
Don’t compare Frank to Jamie Fraser’s porn tape. Don’t be that bitchy hag who is never content with what she has.
Had he missed her? A week of absence yielded twelve text messages and one phone call. All succinct and to the point. More than half of the texts were just those two words.
Claire felt tears sting her eyes. Do you? She silently asked the man sleeping next to her.
Then why don’t I feel loved?
Claire managed to avoid Jamie for the next few weeks. It wasn’t that she was scared of him, or that her plan to burst the bubble of infatuation with the reality of human imperfection was a bad one. It was just that she had never been so discontent with her life as she was in his presence.
Hearing his voice around a corner, Claire slipped into a supply closet. She felt foolish, but for some reason the thought of facing him was too much.
His eyes saw her, knew her. In ways no one else did. They hadn’t exchanged many private moments, just the occasional conversation over coffee in the cafeteria, or a joking remark made in passing. It was a crush. That instinct to seek out the other when walking into a room, or catch their eye in a group of people.
Claire had crushes before, and gotten over them. A crush wasn’t cause for adulterous thoughts about a man she worked with. It was the combination of having a crush on a co-worker who also happened to be someone she had studied naked multiple times. Someone she nightly craved to study again. She knew the flesh under that EMT jacket and the knowing intensified everything she felt for him.
But she didn’t truly know him , no matter how she felt.
And a crush wasn’t a good reason to contemplate cheating on a marriage of ten years.
More than anything, Claire had worked for her entire adult life to be content. She guarded her mindset carefully, not letting negativity drag her down. And Jamie Fraser with his all-seeing blue eyes was a danger to her contentment.
She slid down to sit cross-legged against the back wall of the closet and breathed deeply. If she just focused on the positive things in her life, surely the chaos of bitterness and discontent would leave her alone.
The door opened and closed again quickly, a deep voice whispering, “Shit. Fuck. Dhia. ”
Claire didn’t breathe for a moment. Seriously, what were the odds with this man?
He turned and immediately seemed to sense her presence. She heard a bump as he stumbled backwards, then a few more whispered shits and fucks.
“Claire, is that you?”
“How could you tell?” she smiled despite herself.
“It smelled like you,” his voice came to her out of the darkness. “Dinna worry, I can leave ye to your solitude in a moment.” Claire felt the pang in her chest.
He was silent for a few seconds and the air stilled, tense and comforting at the same time.
“Who are you hiding from?” she whispered into the black. She closed her eyes and listened to the sound of his body shifting and his breath just a few feet away. He chuckled and it sounded like he slid down to sit with his back against the door.
“There’s an intern has taken a shine to me, though I dinna ken why. She has cornered me twice tryin’ to get me to agree to a date and I’m tryin’ to let the lass down easy.”
“I ken why.” Claire froze, then cringed, wishing she could take the words back as they lingered in the dark between them.
His sigh was a palpable thing in the air. “And who are ye hiding from, lass?”
Neither of them moved or breathed for a tense moment.
“Talk to me, Sassenach.” It was a gentle and unobtrusive request. She could almost feel the restraint in his voice keeping emotion at bay.
Not having to see his face or the piercing eyes that bared her soul, Claire leaned her head back and confessed, letting the burden fall from her tired shoulders.
“I’ve taken a shine to you too, Jamie. I can’t explain it, and I’m tired of pretending it doesn’t exist. There’s something about you that draws me in. I want to see you and talk with you and laugh with you every day. And… more.” She swallowed tears that had gathered at the back of her throat. “But I’m married. And I won’t be the woman who breaks her vows for a crush. I want to have more honor than that.”
“Ye do, lass.” Jamie breathed. “I ken what you are saying. I feel it too. There’s something between us that is…”
“Aye, different. I dinna ken what it is. But it’s there.”
They sat in silence for a few moments, content just to breathe the same air and be near one another.
“Jamie?” the word was out of her mouth before she had a chance to finalize her next thought.
“Please help me. To honor my marriage vows. It’s not fair to ask, and I won’t tease you, I promise. Just…” she paused, searching for the words. “I want to be honorable and faithful. I want to be that kind of person.” She finished lamely, not knowing how to express what her heart yearned for him to understand.
It was quiet for another minute, and they sat listening to each other breathe.
“Claire. You already are, lass. You already are everything that ye want to be.” He cleared his throat and continued. “And aye, I’ll help ye. All I ask is your friendship. Dinna hide in dark closets and turn away when ye see me. I’m no’ a danger to you, lass. I’ll honor your marriage vows wi’ ye.”
“Thank you.” She whispered, tears silently streaking down her cheeks.
“Now,” Jamie pushed to his feet and his voice came from above her. “I’ll be on my way. I think you’ve given me the courage I need to fight off one wee she-dragon.”
Claire giggled through her tears and stood up as well. She reached out in the dark and her hand touched his back, which went quite still. They both waited for a breath to see what the other would do next.
“I’m sorry, I just. I wanted to...”
Jamie turned suddenly and pulled her against him. His cheek brushed rough against her hair and he whispered fiercely, “Mo nighean treun.” Then the door opened and he was gone.
Mo nighean treun : my brave girl
“I don’t know why you are acting like this, darling.”
Frank checked his tie in the mirror and then sat on the side of the bed to put his shoes on.
“Acting like I want to invest in our marriage?” Claire stared as his back in frustration. “I’m asking if we can try couple’s therapy. That’s not a wild suggestion by any means.”
“But why do we need it? What’s wrong with our marriage?”
She sat with her mouth open, unsure how to articulate the problem without coming across dramatic.
“I feel distant. We don’t talk much, or spend time together. I feel… like we’re strangers living in the same house. Roommates.”
Frank finished tying his laces and turned toward her.
“So let’s spend some more time together, Claire. I don’t want to sit for hours with a shrink when we can fix the problem with a weekend away. Where do you want to go?”
She turned her chin away so he wouldn’t see the tears forming in her lashes.
“I don’t want to go anywhere, Frank.”
His sigh was full of irritation. “Claire, now be reasonable. You get like this every so often, it’s just a phase. Remember last year you wanted to move to London? This will fade too. I love you, darling. We can get away for a few days at the end of the semester and connect again.”
Claire nodded silently. He was right that she had the tendency to want to make big sweeping changes. A result of her nomadic upbringing with Lamb; they had that conversation often enough.
She just felt so…
She refused to let her mind compare this encounter with the one she had with Jamie in the supply closet weeks ago. That wasn't fair to Frank. They weren’t the same situation at all. It’s just the startling contrast in how the two men made her feel.
When she asked Jamie the impossible: to help her uphold her marriage vows and keep their feelings in check, his response was understanding and support.
When she asked her husband to seek help for their communication and to strengthen their relationship, his response was to dismiss her feelings and suggest that she was being overly emotional… again.
Beauchamp, I thought we said we weren’t going to compare the two.
Frank moved around the house gathering his things and then came back to the bedroom and kissed her cheek. “Goodbye, darling. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Goodbye, darling.” Claire replied automatically.
When the door shut behind him, Claire laid back down and tried to sleep. She had been at the hospital all night and had to be back in this evening. But she lay in the half-dark of the heavy curtains with her mind blazing a hundred directions.
She was so tense. So wound up from their argument, though she knew Frank would not admit it had been an argument. In her mind it was better to yell at each other and get everything out in the open. But the problem with Frank was he never saw the issues she brought up. There wasn’t anything to get out in the open because he didn’t see anything to be upset about.
I hate that about him. Claire smashed that thought as it formed in her mind.
She wasn’t going to be able to sleep, she was too upset. The best way for her to calm her body and brain down was…
Her eyes fix on the phone, charging on her bedside table.
She held out for 10 minutes, but eventually the phone was in her hand and she scrolled through what remained of her erotic collection.
Of course, Jamie wasn’t there. The other scenes, images, videos, and gifs slid under her fingers as she browsed, but none of them caught her eye. It was a gallery of tits, cocks, pussies; all on display for the purpose of arousal but tonight they seemed cold and awkward.
Then something made her stop and take a closer look. A familiar hand gripped a blonde ponytail and pulled the girl’s head back as hips rhythmically thrust against her ass. The camera angle cut off before his face, but Claire knew those hands. Her eyes traced the muscular arms, defined chest, and every inch of his body that she could see.
She touched herself gently, trying to push into the headspace she normally found so easily, but tonight there was no answering slickness. Watching the picture move through the same few seconds with growing frustration, Claire blinked back tears. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough anymore to see his body fucking another woman when she knew his heart.
Desperate to find release, Claire grabbed her laptop and found the page where all Mac Dubh’s pornography was displayed. She opened the first video and laid down next to the computer. She didn’t want to see him, just maybe hearing his voice would help.
“A Naoimh Mhoire, Mhathair Dhè.”
Something in his voice drove the frenzy of frustrated arousal from her mind, and she lay still and listened.
“Guidh air ar son ne na peacaich…”
The words were mumbled Gaelic; there was no way she could understand them. But she recognized a sorrow in his tone. Something she had never recognized before knowing him as a man.
“ Dhia, God. Christ.” His voice was thick, almost as if with tears. Claire flipped over and grabbed the laptop to see his face. The bright copper curls fell over his brow, which was furrowed. His eyes were narrowed, but now that she was looking closely she could see he was glaring a hole in the floor, not mesmerized by the woman beneath him. Was it reluctance she sensed in the way he held himself?
“Guidh air ar son ne na peacaich a nis, agus aig uair ar bàis.”
The blue eyes closed as his body jerked; once, twice, and then pulled back as the camera zoomed to capture his milky cum overflowing and dripping out of the woman’s core.
Claire was still. Her own arousal forgotten.
What the fuck was that.
She checked the dates and saw this was the first video uploaded of the 8 available on the site. Clicking into the next few, she could tell his whole demeanor was slightly different. It was hard to say exactly what was off about the first video, he just seemed to be exuding such… despair.
Claire closed her laptop and lay quietly contemplating until sleep pulled her in.
A Naoimh Mhoire, Mhathair Dhè, guidh air ar son ne na peacaich a nis, agus aig uair ar bàis : Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now, and at the hour of our death
“I’ve seen the way ye look at her, bhràthair. ”
Jamie eyed Ian as they organized the equipment and packed it into the ambulance to ready it for their next call. His brother in law didn’t change expression, but his quiet remark pulled the truth from Jamie more than the teasing and chides he had received over the past few months from John and the others.
“It’s the way I look at yer sister, ken? The way yer Da used to look at yer Mam.”
Jamie huffed in frustration. “And what good is it, that I look at her like she’s the only lass on Earth? What good is it when she’s bound by honor and marriage vows? And what good is it when I’m... “ he paused, zipping up a duffel bag and stowing it carefully in its place. “I dinna think I can talk about my past, Ian.”
The other man gave him a wry look and continued his work, then stopped and looked him square in the eye. “Ye carry scars, Jamie. Some ye can see and others beneath the skin. But I’ll not have you believing ye aren’t a man of worth. And I’ll not have ye believe ye aren’t worthy of the love of a good woman.”
The words hit so close to what Jamie was believing that he had to blink back the fog in his eyes.
“Thank you, Ian.”
Ian turned back to his task. “Still, ken, she’s a marrit woman and ye would be a letcher if ye tried to steal her away dishonorably.”
Jamie choked on a laugh. “Aye, I ken. If I steal her away it will be in broad daylight. I’ll bide my time and whatever her choice may be in the end, I’ll ken we both kept our word.”
He hesitated for a moment, then shot a glance at his brother in law. “It must be an irrational fear on my part, but… when we first met her, saw her. Something in her face. I thought for sure she kent about me. That she’d seen me before.”
Ian’s hands stilled for a moment. “Are ye sure?”
“No, I’m not sure.”
“Well, it isna likely. The internet is a big place, aye?”
The house fair shone with peace and fairy lights. For all that his heart ached for Lallybroch still, the home that Jenny had made for them in Boston held the same warmth and love that had lived in the place they were raised.
Jamie took a strong whiff of the air, fragrant with roasting meat and various spices.
“Jen, I thank God for ye on the daily.”
“As you ought, Jamie my lad.” She replied in a no-nonsense voice. Her focus was on a pie crust slowly forming into a lattice on top of cherry preserves. “Now tell me, before the rest arrive: who is this English doctor my husband has been informing me of?”
Jamie’s face paled, and he stepped close to the table. “Jenny. I’ll not have you implying anything untoward to her. She is married, and I’ve sworn to both her and myself to act honorably.”
Jenny’s eyes flashed at her brother, even as her hands kept weaving the dough with precision. “As if I would dream to be an accomplice to adultery. James Fraser, I ken full well the situation. I’m asking ye to tell me truthfully what ye feel for the woman.”
He hesitated. “She’s brave. She’s bonny, of course. Strong and quick witted, easy to talk to. She has a laugh that warms my whole heart, Jen. I canna tell you why I’m drawn to her and not one of the lasses you’ve introduced me to these years. It’s no’ something I understand myself.”
“Sometimes ye just ken.”
“There’s a sadness in her, Jenny. I’ll not break her down further by pushing my feelings when she’s asked me to bide. But someday, God willing, I want to be the man to make her whole.”
His sister nodded. “If she is the one yer heart has chosen, the time wilna be wasted.”
Jamie laughed without humor, “Even if she doesna choose me, in the end?”
“Even then.” Jenny’s eyes were deep and wise. “The man ye are choosing to be now is one our Da would be proud to see.” Jamie felt his chest tighten. “But,” she continued fiercely, “I’ll think much less of ye if ye canna convince her to leave the stuffy historian for yer strapping young arse.”
Jamie stared at his sister incredulously. “Christ. Ian has the loosest lips in this family.”
Just then, the door opened and a crush of people filed into the house dropping coats and bags on the steps and down the hall. The group from the hospital, made up mostly of Scots but not exclusive at all, got together once a week at least to dine and laugh and drink. Invitations fell freely, and many of the large hospital staff had been welcomed at the Fraser/Murray residence at one time or another.
“Alright then! The food is here on the sideboard. Plates in front. Sit wherever ye can.” Jenny slid her pie into the oven and simultaneously directed the rowdy crowd into a laughing line, winding back toward the door. She was made for this, Jamie thought with a pang. He remembered the gatherings at Lallybroch over Christmas and Hogmanay with Jenny residing as queen over the feasting and dancing. The Boston house was less than half the size, and yet she still managed to infuse it with the same festive spirit.
He glanced back toward the door and his breath caught in his chest. There she was. Claire stood laughing with Geillis and trying to hang her coat on the overflowing rack. She had removed her boots and was padding down the hall toward him in wool stockings with her curls down around her face.
“I’m glad ye came.” Jamie beamed at her.
“So am I! Geillis keeps telling me it’s the place to be on Saturday nights, and I’ve been meaning to stop in, I just haven’t had one off in quite some time.” Her face was animated and lovely, and Jamie had a hard time pulling his eyes away from her. He caught a glimpse of Jenny moving toward them and quickly sent a silent prayer heavenward as she approached.
“Hello, you must be Claire. I’m Jenny Murray, Ian’s wife.” They shook hands and smiled warmly at each other.
“Oh, Jenny! Yes, Ian has talked about you. Did you cook all this lovely food? It smells wonderful.”
Jamie stepped back and joined the line for food, watching his sister and Claire talk together. Their smiles and laughter came easily, and soon both were absorbed in what appeared to be a conversation about how to achieve the correct party atmosphere.
He didn’t try to draw her to him or even sit nearby. The aching awareness of her was a physical thing in the pit of his stomach, but he was determined to bear it without complaint. The small comfort he allowed himself was occasionally to trace her features, to smile at the ease and joy in her face.
Ian leaned close, “Yer eyes are giving ye away again, bhràthair. ”
bhràthair : brother
Chapter 10: Bloody Fight
“Claire, what’s this?”
She looked up from the stove where the tomato sauce was simmering and ready to join pasta for dinner.
Frank had her laptop in his hand. He placed it on the counter and turned it around to face her. Before she even saw the screen her stomach sank through the floor.
“I don’t have a problem with pornography, Claire. Or self love, for that matter. Whatever you need to do to get yourself off is your business, isn’t it?
James Fraser covered her laptop screen. An entire gallery of him; head thrown back in ecstasy, shaft hard as iron, kilt dropped to the floor at his feet.
“This… this seems strange. It’s like you’re obsessed with this one actor. I’m pretty sure you have more of this on your phone as well, don’t you? Is this why you ‘feel distant’ suddenly?” He actually used air quotes as he spoke, making Claire want to roll her eyes.
“No, that actor is not why our relationship has been distant. We haven’t been connecting for years, you just won’t listen when I say it.”
“So you’re living in a fantasy porn world with a brawny kilted carrot top?”
“That’s not fair, Frank.”
“Who decides what’s fair here?” He was well and truly warmed to the fight now. “Am I not a good husband, working to keep us clothed and fed? Am I not faithful to our vows, despite many opportunities to act otherwise?”
“Well, this is the first I’ve heard about any such opportunities.”
“Don’t turn this around on me, Claire.”
She turned away and saved their supper from burning, though she knew her appetite was ruined.
“Aren’t you going to speak?”
“I don’t know what to say that I haven’t already said, Frank. I’m not happy with our relationship, and I haven’t been for a long time. I use pornography to ‘get off’ as you so delicately put it, and that actor happens to be one I enjoy.”
“You’re never happy with anything I do for you. Every day I walk past young women who flirt and smile and admire me, then come home to a wife who would rather wank off to a computer screen. It’s insulting.”
Claire spun around and glared through her tears. “You don’t talk to me. You don’t listen to me. We don’t spend time together, and it isn’t about our schedules. You’d rather watch a debate or a game than know what I’ve been thinking about that day.”
“You don’t bloody ask what I think about either.”
“Then maybe you should go fuck one of your students if that’s what turns you on.”
“Maybe you should go find a cock in a kilt to suck off.”
He turned in his heel and walked away, slamming the bedroom door. Claire blindly grabbed keys and shoes and went outside, pulling on a coat block the wind.
She drove aimlessly for an hour and eventually pulled in front of the little house where she had found so much happiness and connection on Saturday evenings. It had become a refuge for her every week, and as often as possible Claire tried to arrange her schedule so she could attend.
She laid her head down on the steering wheel and cried. She cried for her parents, ripped away before she had even truly known them. For Uncle Lamb who cared for her more than anyone in her life. She cried for Frank, and for the ten years they had spent together and the life they built.
There was a tap on her window and Claire jumped when she saw Jenny peering in. She quickly wiped her eyes and opened the door.
“I’m sorry, Jenny. But can I come in? Just for a few minutes? I need… I need to talk to someone.”
“Och, lass. Come in out of the cold.”
Claire toed off her shoes and hung up her coat, then followed Jenny into the kitchen. She sat sniffing for a few minutes as Jenny got the kettle on and poured each of them a cup of hot tea. She settled on her chair with her hands wrapped around the mug and studied Claire with warm eyes.
“Now, I’ll be more than happy to sit here w’ ye for however long you need.”
Tears were already forming again, and Claire brushed them away with the back of her hand.
“But,” Jenny continued, “I’ll also let you know that my brother is out in the garage working, and if ye think he might be the one you most need to talk to, I wouldna take offense.”
“I don’t… I don’t know.”
“He loves you, ye ken?” Jenny squeezed her hand gently. “You can speak w’ him about anything in your heart.”
Claire was still for a moment, then with a grateful glance at Jenny she turned toward the garage.
It had been a hellish day.
Jamie had spent the majority of the morning covered in blood and vomit, then after coming home he decided to tackle the woodworking project he had been doing on the side. It was an old buffet that Jenny had seen alongside the road. She had “a vision” for it to be shored up and refinished into something she could add to their dining room.
He knelt down to test the drawer he just reinstalled, and was irritated to find that it still stuck just enough to be annoying. Yanking on the sides, he lost his balance when the drawer finally pulled loose.
Behind him, the garage door opened and closed again.
“I dinna ken why ye have to pick up every godforsaken piece of furniture on the highway, Jen.” He sat up and slowly got to his feet, rubbing his backside. “We aren’t paupers that ye canna buy something new now and again. If not just to save me the trouble of fixing it precisely to yer liking.”
“It’s not Jenny. It’s me. Claire.”
Jamie froze for a breath, then turned toward her. He took in the swollen eyes, the tear tracks down her cheeks, and the way her shoulders slumped in defeat, and his heart broke in half.
Claire looked away, fighting for control. Jamie started toward her, but she shook her head and he dropped back to the workbench.
“If I start touching you I’ll never stop.” She whispered.
The tears were coming fierce now, and his mind raced to find a way to comfort her. He reached his hands back and gripped the edge of the workbench tightly.
“Come, lass. I won’t touch you. Come here, mo chridhe . You're safe with me.”
Almost in a daze, Claire walked to him until she was a breath away. She didn’t look up into his face, but her body bowed in grief and she buried her face in his chest and sobbed. His arms ached to hold her, but by sheer willpower he kept his fingers glued to the wood behind him. Instead he contented himself with dropping his head and burying his nose in her soft curls.
“Mo ghaol, mo chridhe, glaodh do dheòir.”
Her hands covered her face and she leaned into his strength, letting the tears come until she was spent. He kissed her hair and rubbed his cheek against the top of her head, all the while whispering and murmuring in the language of his heart.
“Tha thu sàbhailte leam, a leannain.”
God, just to be here. To be the one she laid her burdens on. Jamie breathed slow and deep, inhaling her scent and trying to help her regulate her own erratic breath. After what seemed a long time, she stood quietly with her cheek resting against his breast and they breathed in time with one another.
“I have been alone for a long time.” Her voice almost startled him, so hard had he been concentrating on what her body was saying. He laid a kiss on her crown and waited.
“My parents died when I was so young, I barely remember much about them. I lived with Lamb, and he loved me dearly, but he was a nomadic bachelor. I had to be very self-sufficient, and I had to take care of him in a way as well. Meals, cleaning, even the financials would often fall to me when he was focused on his work.”
Jamie nodded and made a quiet sound of understanding. He relaxed his grip on the workbench but kept his hands where they were.
“When I married Frank, I think it was mostly because I knew him. I knew his interests, his lifestyle, all of it. Lamb was an archaeologist, but Frank’s studies in history meant he moved in the same circles. It was a world I understood. I knew Lamb was dying, and he knew it too. He said knowing I had someone was his greatest comfort in those last days of his life.”
Claire seemed to tense then, from what he could sense and see of her body at his vantage point.
“I did love Frank. I’ll never try to say that I didn’t love him during those years. But I never felt that he understood me, or… cherished me. I think part of what he loved about me was my independence. He didn’t have to take care of me because I was so accustomed to taking care of myself.”
She pushed back suddenly. “And I can take care of myself, Jamie. I don’t need a man to provide for me or open my car doors or shower me with compliments in order to be happy. I know how strong and worthy of love I am.” Her eyes met his, golden and vicious like a hawk.
“But I know he doesn’t love me the way I want to be loved. The way I want to love in return.” Jamie felt a tear drop down his own cheek. “I didn’t need him to, then. I wanted to be strong enough to live without it.”
They stood together, studying each other’s eyes. Golden and blue.
“And now, lass?”
“I’m going to get a divorce.”
A beat went by, then another. He could see the tension leave her body; the light come back into her face. It was like a heavy pack suddenly slid from her shoulders. Her eyes met his, clear and shining.
“I need to talk to Frank, first. But after that.”
“Aye, after that.”
She almost swayed toward him, and his eyes glued to her mouth. Right there was everything he had dreamed of for months. And her heady declaration just a moment before had his heart thumping heavily. He knew she would welcome his kiss if he moved just enough to close the small gap between them.
His hands on the workbench pulled him back.
Christ Almighty, Sassenach.
“If ye need to talk to Frank before I kiss you, then I need you to go back in the house now and sit with Jenny for a spell. I’ll come share dinner with ye, mo chridhe. But I canna move just yet if I’m not free to touch you.”
He could see the mental struggle as she pulled herself back from him. Then she smiled wryly and shook her head. “Bloody honorable.”
“Aye, and losing my resolve by the moment, lass. Go now.”
She turned and stepped away, then stopped at the door.
“Thank you, Jamie. For listening to my heart.”
She was gone before he could reply.
Ifrinn : hell
Mo chridhe : my heart
Mo ghaol, mo chridhe, glaodh do dheòir : my love, my heart, cry your tears
Tha thu sàbhailte leam, a leannain : you are safe with me, sweetheart
Frank was gone when Claire got home. She sent him several text messages with no response.
“I’m not sure what to do,” she said on the phone to Jamie. “I feel strange sleeping here knowing he might walk in. Especially since we just had a fight, I’m afraid he might want to make up… physically. If you, I mean…”
“I ken what yer saying, lass. I’d rather ye not be facing him alone in the dark either.”
“He would never hurt me, or force me, Jamie.”
“No, but all the same. If ye don’t want his hands on you, it’s a good idea to not be half undressed in his bed in the middle of the night, aye?”
Claire smiled at his logic. “That does make sense. I suppose I’ll go sleep at the hospital. I have tomorrow off but I doubt anyone would mind.”
“I’m headed into work now, lass. Why don’t you come over and sleep here and we can get breakfast in the morning?”
She leaned her forehead against the closet door. “That sounds perfect, Jamie.”
“Alright, I’ll let Jenny know to leave the door unlocked and ye can just come on up. We don’t have a spare room, Claire. Do you mind terribly sleeping in mine? I can change the sheets.”
“I don’t mind.”
There was a moment of silence over the line and Jamie laughed. “I canna say I won’t have a hard night knowing yer at home in my bed, Sassenach. But it will be a sweet pain to bear.”
“I’ll see you in the morning. I… thank you.”
“Sweet dreams, mo chridhe.”
Claire was waiting in the lobby when Jamie’s shift ended, and the sight of his face sent a warm rush of feeling through her body.
“Good morning, Sassenach.” he said, pulling her into a quick hug. “Have ye heard anything yet?”
“I left him a message this morning and told him that I was filing for divorce and I’d get my things from the house today. I would rather have that conversation face to face, but I don’t want to be in limbo waiting for him to show up when I know for sure what I want.”
Jamie tugged her close again, and she rested her cheek against his chest hearing the murmurs from other staff who were on their way in for the day or leaving after a long night. “I think you’ve been in limbo long enough, a leannain.”
“What the fuck, Claire?”
Ice water drenched the warm glow that she had been basking in a moment before as Claire turned toward her husband’s cold voice. Frank was white with fury, his eyes drilling into her like bullets.
“I wake up this morning to a fucking voicemail saying you are leaving me, over an idiotic fight no less, like a bloody drama queen. And less than an hour later here you are cozying up to this…” his voice drifted off as he got a good look at Jamie’s face. His bright auburn curls.
“What the hell. It’s the fucking porn star. Are you shitting me, Claire?” His volume went up with each word, and she put out her hands to try and stop him.
“Don’t touch me, you fucking cheating bitch!” He screamed the words in her face, and Jamie stepped in between them, pushing him back.
“You canna speak to her that way!”
“Where did you even come from?” Frank was livid. “Did you know she has all of your skin flicks saved on her computer? She gets herself off to you sticking your bloody cock in other women. Did you know that about her?”
Claire covered her face with her hands, too horrified to speak. She felt a hand on her shoulder and Geillis pulled her a step back from the men who were now nose to nose in the hospital lobby.
“If she had to satisfy herself w’ videos of me, what does that say about you, mairtireach mac galla? ” Jamie’s sheer size dwarfed Frank. He kept his body in front of Claire, blocking her view. “Ye had her as yer own for ten years, and she was so unhappy she had to ‘get herself off?’ Ifrinn, what is wrong with you? I’ll be damned if I stand by and watch ye tear her down for another moment.” He pushed Frank backward toward the doors, “Get out. NOW.”
“Fuck you, Claire. Fuck you and your porn star bodyguard.” Frank shot over his shoulder as he stalked out of the hospital.
The silence that followed was palpable. Nobody moved or spoke for a long second.
Claire couldn’t look at anyone. Her face was permanently flushed with shame. How many people had heard that? Jamie would never forgive her, not only for watching those videos to begin with but for letting Frank tell everyone he worked with about them. She wanted to run away and never face any of them again.
Then suddenly she was in his arms, surrounded by warmth and strength and safety. He held her right to his heart and whispered her name. “Yer safe, love. He’s gone now.” She collapsed into sobs, crying over and over again, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Jamie.”
“ Tha e ceart gu leòr, mo nighean donn.” He kissed her hair and her cheek.
They clung together, slowly growing aware of the people gathered around them. Claire glanced around to see that they were all smiling.
“Sorry for staring, lass. But we’ve all been waiting for you two to finally admit yer in love w’ each other for months.” Ian grinned at her shamelessly. “Obair mhath, bràthair.” He said to Jamie, and the Scots in the group all burst out in laughter and agreement.
“Now, happy as I am for ye, we do need to hear this story about young Jamie being featured in pornographic cinema.” Geillis studied her nails nonchalantly. “And perhaps where to find said film. For science, ye ken?”
Jamie ducked his head, resting his forehead against Claire’s and smiled.
“Well, it wasna a story I ever planned to share. But since it seems I’ve got no choice, why don’t ye all come over tonight to the house. I’ll ask Jenny to cook us a meal, and we’ll share the whole sordid tale.”
He wrapped an arm around Claire’s shoulder and started moving them toward the door. “For now, get yer lazy arses into work. I’m going to take my lady to get some sustenance and I dinna want to hear a word about this spreading till I tell ye the true facts of the matter, aye?”
Mo chridhe : my heart
A leannain : sweetheart
Mairtireach mac galla : cowardly son of a bitch
Ifrinn : hell
Tha e ceart gu leòr, mo nighean donn : it’s alright, my brown haired girl
Obair mhath, bràthair : good job, brother
Chapter 13: Everything There Is
Jamie held the car door open for Claire and then slid into the driver seat. They sat in the muffled quiet of the vehicle while he turned the key and adjusted the heat automatically. Then his hands fell to his lap and were still.
There was an awkward moment and then he started again.
“I wish that would ha’ gone differently, Claire. For both our sakes.”
“I’m so sorry.”
He turned slightly, but he didn’t touch her. Claire felt the relief she had from his reaction in the lobby slipping away as tension formed between them, sharp and thick.
“I know that just because you defended me to Frank doesn’t mean everything is fine between us.” She said, turning to him and meeting his eyes. She was tired of avoidance, tired of all the fucking emotions of the past few days, and so so tired of crying.
“Well, Sassenach,” Jamie said quietly, “I wasna going to hash through our business in front of a man spewing filth and hate. And then I wasna going to leave without settling some kind of plan so the folk who heard dinna tell the whole hospital. But aye, we do need to speak about it. And I’m not quite sure what the outcome will be.”
His last words lay cold in the pit of her stomach.
“Should we go eat? I think it may be easier to face all this w’ some food in me.”
It was a quiet meal; neither of them ordered the breakfast platters Jamie had been telling her she must try at the quaint diner near the hospital. They spoke little until the food was cleared away and they sat across from each other with hot coffee cupped between their hands.
“Let me start with my story, Sassenach. I’ll tell the clan what happened, but I’d rather give you all the details and answer any questions ye may have.”
Claire nodded, feeling sick.
Jamie cleared his throat and began, “I grew up in Scotland near the small village of Broch Mordha. Our family estate was called Lallybroch. It had been in the family for generations, since the 1700s.” He hadn’t looked up at her yet, so she studied the way his curls gleamed in the morning sun and concentrated on his story.
“My mother died when I was a lad, and my older brother did as well. I think when Mam passed was when Da started falling behind in payments and such on the property. He was a man of the land and the people. He excelled at many things, but the financial part of running an estate wasna one of them. When I was in college it all came out, Jen and I realized the farm owed over half a million in taxes, collections and fees of one kind or another. It had been mortgaged to the hilt with no equity to spare.”
Jamie sighed and his tired eyes finally came up to rest on hers. Claire hesitantly reached toward him and he gripped her hand tightly.
“We sold… everything. Ian and Jenny had been planning a wedding and they scrapped it all and went to the county courthouse. We all were working multiple jobs, calling in favors, trying to find a way. Then my Da had a stroke.” His voice stumbled for a moment and he took a sip of hot coffee.
“After that… Dhia , Claire it was awful. The medical bills started piling on top of the farm ones and we all kent there was just no way.”
He swallowed, eyes lowering to rest on the dark liquid in his mug. “I had a friend in college, Annalise de Marillac. She had connections with a small adult film company and said I could make £10,000 on the spot if I signed on with them for a series of films. I didn’t tell Ian or Jenny until after it was done. I was too ashamed.”
Claire’s grip on his hand tightened, and he squeezed back even though he didn’t meet her eye. “It wasn’t nearly enough to make a dent in what we owed, but it would cover the payments for that month. And I needed to do something . I thought I could continue, to try to keep ahead of the payments. I would have had to do it for years, ye ken? But I was in a bad accident. I was in the ICU for weeks, and when I finally had recovered enough to know what was going on I found that Da had died, Ian and Jenny had sold Lallybroch to pay the debtors, and all I had accomplished was to put a black mark on my character.”
“No, Jamie.” Claire whispered, but his grip on her fingers cut her off.
“I’m no’ ashamed of my actions in the way ye might think. What I did was for Lallybroch. It was for Jenny and Ian and their children to stay and carry on our family legacy. What pains me is that I feel like I sold my soul to the devil for naught. To make such a sacrifice and not be able to save the land was like a knife in my heart.”
She felt tears burn her eyes again, and she could see them clinging to Jamie’s lower lashes as he examined their joined fingers.
“So,” he sighed as he spoke, “we moved to the States when I recovered because my Aunt Jocasta is here and she could help us get settled. Ian had already started training to become an EMT and I decided to join him. And that’s my story, take it as you will.”
“I love you.” Claire whispered. His eyes flew up and he stared at her with a stricken expression on his face. “I’m sorry, it’s a terrible time to say that. But it’s all I can think, Jamie. I love you so much.”
He actually started to laugh through the tears that hadn’t quite left his eyes. “Well, Sassenach. I dinna think that’s what most women would say in this situation, but I must admit it does warm my heart to hear you feel that way.”
She smiled, but it quickly died on her lips as she realized her turn had come.
“Well, I suppose I need to explain myself as well.”
“I already kent you had seen them. When we met, it was written on your face. I didna want to be right, but I’m no’ as surprised as I could have been, aye?”
“Oh.” Claire flushed bright red and groaned. “I’m so ashamed.”
“That ye watch pornography? It sounds like that shite head didna give ye much choice. ‘Get yerself off’ he says, like it isna his own duty to see to yer needs.”
“Well, no. So initially it was just that. I don’t know how I stumbled across your videos, but something about you fascinated me. Frank was right, I did have almost all of your pornography. You were… my favorite.” Her face was bright red and she couldn’t raise her eyes from the table top.
“Then when I met you at the hospital, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it was really you. And I deleted everything I had because it seemed so wrong to use you that way.”
Claire tried to pull her hands back but Jamie kept them in his own.
“But, what I’m the most ashamed of is over the past few months I started watching them again. I was so unhappy. Frank and I were in a terrible place, none of the other pornography I could find was… umm…”
“Yes. Thank you.”
He might have been smiling, but Claire didn’t look. “I would turn on the videos and just listen to your voice. It hurt too badly to see you with another woman, but I could listen and imagine you were with me.”
“Christ.” Jamie cursed under his breath.
“I did have a question,” she started hesitantly. At his nod she asked quickly, “there was one video, I had seen it before, but after knowing you I could tell that something was wrong. Your voice was so sad.”
Jamie nodded sadly, “Aye, that was probably the first one. The producers put me with Annalise, the lass I kent from school. And it was… I was a virgin. I think I spent the whole time praying that I wouldn’t finish too soon and dying of shame for having to act that way with a girl who kent me and my family.”
Claire gaped at him. “You lost your virginity on film?”
“Aye, well I didn’t want to tell them for fear they wouldn’t sign me. And I didna want to go ask some girl to break me in beforehand. It was a clusterfuck of a situation, ken?”
“Oh, Jamie.” She was speechless and her heart ached for that young man who had felt so hopeless and alone.
“So, Sassenach. Have ye told me everything there is?”
“Yes. I don’t have any more secrets.”
“Neither do I. My soul is bare before ye.”
“Are you angry with me, Jamie? I used you so shamefully.” She was serious, but his mouth curled up at the corner. “Well now, Sassenach. I only have one thing to ask of ye, and after that I’ll swear to forget the whole thing.”
His eyes twinkled at her across the table. “Will ye swear that from this day on, when ye need release, you’ll come to me and let me serve you?”
“I swear it, Jamie.”
“Then mo chridhe, I’m not angry w’ ye. And I love you w’ all my heart. And can we please find somewhere to be alone before the vultures descend on us this evening?”
Claire laughed as joy filled her. “Well, we can’t go to my house.”
“And I wilna take you home where Ian and Jenny can sit in the living room knowing exactly what is going on above stairs.”
“Hotel.” They both spoke at the same time. Then Jamie tossed money on the table, grinning as he grabbed her hand and dragged her out of the diner.
The giggling excitement stayed with them in the car through the short drive to the first hotel they came to. It remained as Jamie hastily booked them a room for the night, then glanced at Claire and asked them to make it two nights. His hands closed on her hips in the elevator and by the time they got their door open her body was nearly vibrating with readiness.
She was surprised then, when Jamie didn’t immediately sweep her off her feet as the door closed behind them. Turning to him, she saw an uneasiness in his eyes that confused her.
“Claire,” his voice was almost shaking, “I need to ask ye, do we need to wait? Should we wait till the divorce is final before we…?”
“God, no.” She stepped against him and felt his back hit the door. His eyes closed and a groan sounded like it was ripped from his body. The big hands ran up her back and down again, smoothing over her clothes and making goosebumps rise up in their wake. “No more waiting.”
“We have kept our promises then, lass? We can take the next step with a clear conscience, aye?”
“Aye.” Claire whispered.
He swallowed the word as it left her lips. His mouth consumed her and she was drowning in him; hands, lips, hot breath seemingly everywhere at once.
Jamie shoved himself off of the door and Claire was pressed against a wall, the big fingers cupping her face. Tears filled her eyes again, damn them. But he was stroking her cheeks and her hair; his tongue was in her mouth, first questioning and then bold as he tasted her and felt her body’s response.
“Claire, mo ghraidh. Christ, to touch you, Sassenach. I canna keep my hands from ye.” He pulled back to better see the skin his hands were touching. Claire was tugging the shirt over her head and Jamie’s fingers covered every inch of her as it was exposed.
When he cupped her breasts his thumbs found her nipples and the look in his eyes was reverence. He sank to his knees and Claire gasped as she unclasped her bra and his hands and mouth took its place.
Her body was on fire. Hot lava rushed through the nerves from nipples to clitoris and her knees felt weak as she arched into his touch.
Jamie stood, pulling her to himself and stepping into the room till they reached a bed. Any horizontal surface would do. Claire thought as they frantically yanked away clothing. Finally he stretched against her, flesh to flesh. She could feel his cock trapped between them burning her skin.
“Jamie, I need you. I need to be full of you, please.” He answered her with soft licks and nibbles and kisses against her mouth as he came above her. Then his large brown calloused hands moved down her body. When his finger brushed against her pussy she lurched up with a cry. Jamie captured her mouth, dipping back in and coating his fingers with her honey. He pushed two inside her body, marveling at how slick and swollen she was for him.
“Mo nighean dhonn, fosgailte dhomh. Open for me, my love.” The Gaelic shot sparks through her brain and her urgency mounted.
Then he was there, pressed against her entrance. Before she could beg he had thrust home with a gasp and a muffled “Christ!”
Claire’s eyes and mouth were wide with shock. She had asked to be full of him, and full she was. Their eyes held one another and he let her adjust to his size and stretch, leaning down so their foreheads met. “Dhia, cuidich mi. My love, am I hurting you?” “No, no Jamie. Just give me a moment.” She let out a breathless giggle, “You are bigger in real life.”
That surprised him into a laugh as well, and the movement of his body rippled through her nerves.
“Oh god Jamie do that again.”
He obliged her, pushing into her gently but firmly. Once, twice, again. His eyes traced her breasts bouncing up with each thrust from his cock, then his gaze moved up along the flush of her chest, the movement of her throat as she gasped for air, and her eyes almost rolling back in her head when he struck deep.
Jamie pulled her legs around his waist where they tightened into a vice. Her fingers urged him down to her and he angled his head to capture her mouth in a deeper kiss. Claire gripped the back of his head to keep him with her, but he wasn’t pulling back. Everything in her screamed closer, harder, more, god more more more.
She realized the words were being spoken aloud against his lips she begged him to fill her over and over again, and Jamie was speaking too in rough Gaelic, she couldn’t tell if it was a plea or a demand. He fucked her, driving in to the hilt till she was a flame of sensation. She felt herself start to shake. Concentrating on the way his cock split her open and his hands healed her wounds, she surrendered and came to pieces in his arms.
They lay gasping, running hands gently over sensitive flesh and whispering nonsense. His shaft started again rocking inside her. Claire realized he was building her gently up once more, but couldn’t spare the breath to say it wasn’t necessary. Then she started to tingle all down her belly as her core welcomed his intrusion and she realized it was necessary. She had time to grip his biceps and her legs began to spasm as the climax darkened her vision again.
“Chan urrainn dhomh a chuideachadh, you are so bonny, my Sassenach. Once more, let me watch you.”
“No, no, Jamie I can’t. I can’t.”
“Aye, you can, my love.”
He was right. His gentle fingers on her clit and the grip of his hand spanning her thigh as he angled her just so against his assault sent her spinning. She distantly heard his soft chuckle. “That’s enough for now, mo chridhe. Come back to me, my Claire.”
Jamie slid out of her, pressing a kiss to her curls as he left the bed and went into the bathroom. Claire lay where he left her, vaguely wondering how she would move her heavy drugged limbs to clean herself up. Then his hands were on her again, urging her legs apart, he kissed her knee and used a warm wet cloth and then dried her with a hand towel.
“There, mo nighean dhonn. Brown everywhere, I see.” He leaned down to kiss her tender sex, sending a shiver up her spine.
Sliding them under the comforter, Jamie curled around her back and they both hummed with content.
“That was…” Claire began, but couldn’t find words.
“Aye, mo ghraidh. ”
Mo ghraidh : my love
Mo nighean dhonn, fosgailte dhomh : my brown haired girl, open for me
Dhia, cuidich mi : God please help me
Chan urrainn dhomh a chuideachadh : I can’t help it
Mo chridhe : my heart
Chapter 15: Exploring
Jamie couldn’t remember ever having been so content. He sat in his own living room with Claire curled into his chest, listening to the conversations taking place around him as the clan settled down with their dessert.
Of course, there was no end to the slaps on the back and the winks, or coarse jokes for the sake of a roar of laughter that never failed to rise after someone took a crack at the porn videos. But the atmosphere was loving and jovial. He, Jenny and Ian had laid out the story and asked that it remain a private matter as much as possible and everyone had agreed. Better to let them get their teasing out of the way now.
Geillis was the only one brave enough to sit close to Claire and ask in a teasing voice, “And do ye mean to share the bounty with us poor lot, lass? I canna in good conscience go looking for that video but if ye’d be so kind to slip a gal the link?” Both of them had shook with giggles as Jamie flushed hotly and turned the conversation to safer territory.
Now his hands were buried in Claire’s soft sweater, one finding its way underneath to rest on the warm velvet skin of her belly. She was so relaxed against him that he thought she might be asleep and he had turned them just enough to discourage conversation, guarding her rest like a warrior.
He did catch the glances and smiles that were aimed their way. Each of these folk had known and loved him for the years since he settled in Boston, and had subtly voiced their approval of Claire over the past months.
He rested a cheek against the riot of curls and sighed. Christ. He had feared this day for so long, this secret hanging over his head threatening to shame him forever. And now here he was, still breathing. Everyone knew and still accepted him. And to have the treasure of her here with him now made the the day he had dreaded strangely sweet. To have no secrets, to be truly known and loved all the same...
Dhia, what a gift. What a gift you’ve given me.
It was dark outside the windows, and Jamie absently wondered if they should be getting back to the hotel soon. The subsequent awareness of what getting back to the hotel entailed along with the soft warm weight of the woman in his arms made him suddenly tense as blood rushed to his cock.
“Mmmmm, hmmmm?” Claire hummed dreamily to him, snuggling back against the firmness that only she could feel.
“Sassenach, are ye awake then?”
“I am. And so are you, I see.”
Jamie’s nose came down to nuzzle her ear and she stretched her back and neck to give him better access, pressing her arse into his hard shaft. “ Ifrinn, Claire do you want to kill me?”
She sat up and grinned slyly back at him as she got to her feet and went for a piece of Jenny’s pie. Jamie was in no condition to follow her and had to grab a throw pillow and strike up conversation with John about sports to get himself back under control. When she sat down again beside him and handed him a plate, he whispered, “That was low, mo nighean dhonn. I mean to remember that and use yer own tricks against ye later.”
Her only response was a saucy smile and twinkling eyes as she dug into a slice of pie.
“To think, this morning is the first time I ever kissed you and I’ve already lost count.” Jamie pulled back from her mouth long enough to explore the opal skin of her neck.
“I’ve never been kissed so much in my life. Do you put everything in your mouth?” She squeaked as the mouth in question closed on her breast and rolled the nipple with his tongue.
“Aye,” he grinned as he released her. “Care for a demonstration?”
“Well, I… I don’t know. I should probably clean up a bit first before you go exploring.”
Jamie was already halfway down her body, and when she clamped her knees together he gave her a thoughtful glare. “You aren’t a dirty lass, so far as I’ve seen and…” he took a whiff of her navel, “smelled. God, I could eat you. And I mean to.” He dove down once more, hands and mouth moving over her closed thighs, seeking entrance.
“Jamie!” She fell into a fit of giggles as he changed tactics, flipping her on her belly and attacking from the rear. The first long swipe of his tongue sent all self-conscious flying and he grunted in victory when her body loosened and his prize was revealed. Claire couldn’t piece together two rational thoughts, she only clutched his hair and held him to her core as she flew.
Rolling aside with a laugh, Jamie surveyed his work with satisfaction. She was limp and open, her limbs heavy in the wake of climax. He could see the glisten of her arousal ready for his possession, and felt his cock surge with the need to take her.
Her eyes were unfocused but caught his own as he filled her. Christ, she opened like a flower for him and the girth of his cock demanded more more until her body stretched to accept him. A low moan came from her throat and he kissed it, feeling the sound vibrate through her chords.
“Take me, mo ghraidh . Open for me. Let me fill you up.”
“Oh god Jamie yes.” Her choked voice urged him on and he clenched his buttocks and thrust, his hips setting a hard punishing rhythm determined to conquer and possess. Jamie’s eyes devoured her, intent on the way her entire frame absorbed the battering of his assault. He leaned down to wrap his arm around her and closed his hand on the back of her neck to better anchor her to him.
“Oh, my, god, please, please…” her words trailed off into tiny cries at each thrust and he felt the powerful wave of sensation build. She screamed breathlessly as his cock slammed home again and again, he couldn’t control his pace any longer, and when the pleasure broke over them both they shook with need and fulfillment, feeling the powerful grip of passion bind them together.
Returning to himself, he found the skin under his fingers warm and smooth. He stroked back and forth, absentmindedly admiring the goosebumps that formed in his wake.
“You must promise,” his love said in a soft drowsy voice, “that you’ll never grow tired of me. Because I cannot go back to regular sized cocks now that I’ve had yours.”
Jamie sputtered a laugh, and pulled her close. “I’m sorry, that was in poor taste.” He could hear the humor in her voice.
“Nah, my Sassenach. My cock is at your service. I only ask in return that yer sweet honeypot belong to me and me alone. Are we in agreement?”
Chapter 16: Storm
“I can’t move in with you, Jamie. It’s too soon. Plus, you live with your sister and Ian.”
He frowned at her back as she stuffed clothes in a suitcase. They were at the house she had shared with Frank for almost a decade, and Claire was packing as many of her personal belongings as she could fit into the car. Jamie didn’t like the fact that Frank assumed she would be the one to leave, but he couldn’t fault her for wanting to start fresh. The place gave him the creeps.
“It will be expensive to live in a hotel, Sassenach. Even just until you can find a place. And my family loves you. They would want you to be there.”
Claire sighed and turned to him. “No, Jamie. I want to live on my own.”
Jamie felt a pang of hurt and alarm, but he studied her quietly. After a moment she continued, “I have never lived by myself. I went from traveling with Lamb to trying to fit into this regal house with Frank, and I just want some time to make my own space. To be my own person.” She came over to him and leaned her head on his shoulder. “I love you. But our relationship is new, and I want to experience this.”
He laid his cheek on the crown of her head and blew away a stray curl that tickled his nose. “I suppose ye do have a point, Claire.” He conceded defeat and looked around at the room. “Did ye not like this house then? It seems like quite the establishment.”
Claire glanced around the room, taking in the tray ceilings and crown molding, the king sized bed and the rich carpet under her feet. Jamie watched her eyes examine every detail before turning to him. “A house is only beautiful if it is full of love, I think. My memories in this house are of time spent alone, decorating each space by myself because Frank didn’t have an opinion, eating meals in front of the television almost every night. Even if we were sitting side by side, I was still essentially alone.” She shook her head. “No, I didn’t like this house. It will make someone a wonderful home, but it never was that for me.”
He pulled her close and wrapped her in his arms again. “One thing I can promise you, Sassenach. You’ll never be alone again. Well,” he amended, “I suppose in yer new place ye can find some solitude if you insist.”
Her eyes closed and the words seemed to seep into her and brighten her whole countenance. “Thank you. I’ll hold you to that, James Fraser.”
A late snow storm was scheduled to hit New England hard and the EMT crew had prepared for a long and hectic night. Jamie was coming in to start his shift just as Claire’s was ending, and he pulled her into an empty room to say goodbye.
“ Mo nighean donn, I wanted to ask if you’d stay with Jenny tonight? Ian and I will both be here and I’d feel better if you were together.”
Claire kissed the palm that lay against her cheek. “Oh, that’s a wonderful idea. I’d much rather cozy up with Jenny than watch the news by myself and wonder how dangerous it is for you to be out in the weather.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and slid against his body suggestively.
“Christ, Claire.” He let his hands drop to her hips and pulled her tight against him so she could feel how much he was going to miss her. “It will be a long cold night, but we’ve had those before. I’ve been driving in snow since I was a lad in the Highlands. Albeit on the opposite side of the road, but I’ll be alright.”
“How much longer till your shift starts?” Her eyes were wide and innocent as her fingers slid down into his waistband, and Jamie swallowed hard.
“Probably... ten minutes?”
Claire’s look was positively mischievous and he felt his heart rate quicken, but just at that moment his pager went off.
“On your way, soldier.” Claire sighed, and he kissed her soundly and swept a courtly bow before jogging toward the ambulance bay.
It was the third call of the night. Snow had been falling heavily for hours and the ambulance carefully navigated turns in the dark. The roads were almost empty except for the constant snow plows clearing the city streets.
Jamie pulled on an extra pair of socks and his spare boots, as the last call had ended with himself and Ian soaked through while bringing in an elderly lady who had fallen in her shower. This call was to an accident called in anonymously by someone who saw the car run off the road and down to the river bank.
Ian squinted at the road trying to navigate the heavy snow falling nearly sideways now. “I see the tracks veer off here. Do ye see where he went down?”
“Aye,” Jamie craned his neck to see over the embankment. “I see tail lights. We can pull over here.”
Pulling on their heavy jackets and gloves, Ian and Jamie picked their way down toward the river and the vehicle leaning precariously against a tree halfway down the slope. Jamie reached the car first and slid around to the driver’s side. The windows were fogged up and he could see that the driver was slumped forward against the deployed airbag.
It took some digging to get enough clearance for the door to open, but they were able to squeeze in enough to get his vitals and then carefully pull him onto the stretcher and up the bank to the ambulance.
Jamie pulled the gloves off with his teeth and leaned over to try to get the patient to respond when his heart skipped a beat and he went colder than the storm outside.
Frank Randall had opened his eyes and was staring at him uncomprehending, in the daze of shock and pain.
“Shit,” Jamie breathed the only word that came to mind.
The ambulance wheels spun and skidded as they fought for traction on the icy shoulder of the road. Jamie and Ian had checked Frank for major injuries and found him to be in stable condition and responsive, although he was very cold and also incredibly drunk. His whole person reeked of alcohol.
“You bastard!” Frank had lunged toward him weakly with a fury in his eyes only subdued by his current physical and mental circumstances. Jamie had his hands full holding the injured man down while Ian continued his examination. “Don’t fucking touch me. Get th’ fuck off of me.” His head lolled to the side as he drifted off again.
Now, Jamie cursed at the wheel of the vehicle as he struggled to get them back on the road.
“Can we get out?” Ian shouted from the back where he was busy tucking emergency blankets around the patient to warm him up.
“I dinna ken!” He called back, then put the rig in park and climbed back to speak with his brother in law. “I don’t have enough room to back up without risking sliding down toward the river, and without a running start I canna get off the shoulder. I’m going out to see what’s to be done.”
Jumping out in the cold dark night, Jamie checked the wheels and found them dug down into the snow. He studied the rig’s position and decided that if they put down some ash he could give it one more go. Ian settled himself in the driver’s seat while Jamie spread ash generously under each tire.
It happened in the blink of an eye. The tires spun, gripped the ground and the ambulance lurched forward then slid sharply to the right toward Jamie. He yelled out, both hands on the vehicle and jumped backwards, but with a sickening crunch his hand was trapped between the side of the rig and the guardrail.
Jamie stared in disbelief at his glove crushed between metal. It doesn’t even hurt, maybe it’s fine. His brain barely registered the thought before he was hit with a wave of pain and nausea.
The next few minutes were a blur. Ian was there in his ear yelling and struggling to free him. Jamie didn’t know how he managed it, but the next thing he knew he was in the back of the ambulance with Randall, cradling his hand to his chest. Ian’s worried face hovered in front of him, wrapping an ice pack on the front and back of his hand and telling him to keep it elevated while he got help.
With great effort, Jamie focused his mind on his surroundings. Ian was on the radio but getting nothing but static. He had his cell phone out as well. “No service! Jamie, are you with me, man? Can you check your phone?”
Jamie fumbled to pull his phone from his pocket with his uninjured hand and tried to concentrate on it. “No service here either.” His eyes lit on a notification in his text messages and opened them to see a message from Claire sent three hours earlier.
Remember, I love you. Be safe. XOXO.
He felt a smile touch his mouth, but the pain rose up before him like a physical being and battered him again.
“You’ve fucked my wife.”
It was so unexpected that Jamie didn’t realize for a moment that Randall’s eyes were open and glaring at him. He was strapped down to keep him still as the ambulance moved, but his eyes were cold as ice.
Jamie stared at him, concentrating hard to keep his focus. “Aye. I have.” he answered just as coldly.
The two men sat in tense silence, studying one another.
“I’ve watched your work, y’know?” Frank let his gaze wander over Jamie’s face, leering at him. The alcohol was lowering his inhibitions, Jamie knew, and yet there was an ugly truth in the other man’s face. “I can see why she fell under your spell. There’s a certain… brutality to the way you fuck.”
Ian broke the tension as he appeared suddenly from the front. “Jamie, lad. I have to go for help. The radio isn’t working and my phone is useless. We passed a gas station about a mile back. Will you be alright here?”
Jamie nodded and tried to smile. “Aye, Ian. I’ll be fine.” His hand throbbed with every beat of his heart, but the blood had slowed and started to clot. He deliberately kept his eyes away from Frank as his brother in law prepared to leave.
“I’ll be back as soon as I can, Jamie.”
Then he was gone.
The ambulance hummed and hot air was blowing through the vents, but to Jamie the world seemed eerily silent and frozen. He could feel the cold eyes examining him again and he sat stiff and expressionless. He tried to feel every bone and tendon in his injured hand, knowing for sure that several were broken and crushed.
“I know her body too. Y’know? She was my wife for ten years. I can tell when she’s hot an’ bothered. When she needs to be used like a whore or treated like a lady.”
“Shut up, mac tinn de bhreugan. ” Jamie breathed through his nose, trying to remember this was a patient.
“Wonder if she told you th’ last time we fucked?” Randall’s voice held a strange note. “Maybe we’ve been sharing th’ same woman, Fraser. Maybe she has come to you with my spunk still in her cunt.”
“SHUT. UP.” Jamie bellowed at the top of his lungs. “Ye dinna ken her at all if ye think that, you fucking lecher. You’ll never touch her again if I have anything to say about it!”
Frank’s eyes were dead and ugly. “I rather like th’ idea of sharing her with you.” A fog of booze from his breath hung in the air. “Or mebbe we should get rid’f the cunt an’ just get t’know each other just you an’ me.” His words were slurring worse, and Jamie realized with alarm that he was losing consciousness.
Holding his injured hand tight against his chest, Jamie reached with the other to check Randall’s pulse and body temperature. He was warm to the touch, so Jamie pulled the blankets away and began rechecking him for injury. He probed the other man’s abdomen looking for tenderness.
“Lower. Th’feels good.”
Ignoring his words, Jamie continued the examination as best he could through his own pain. He shuddered when he saw the outline of a stiff shaft under Randall’s trousers.
Christ. What a nightmare.
He needed to keep Randall conscious, though Jamie had never wished more for a patient to pass out and shut the hell up.
“Randall, wake up. Randall. Frank!”
Jamie smacked the other man across the face, and his eyes flew open. “Stay with me, you bastard. It’s my job to keep ye alive.”
“James Fraser,” Frank murmured up at him with an unfocused gaze. “I wonder what y’r Scots burr would soun’ like w’ a cock in your mouth?”
Pushing back, Jamie fought down his disgust. “What the hell is wrong with you?” He kept himself back but eagle-eyed the other man to make sure he was responding. “Did ye ever love her at all? Why did you marry her?”
Randall shrugged, “A professor should have a wife. T’look pretty for the boss and keep th’ bed warm. Though Claire wasn’t the warmest. Fuckin’ cheating bitch.”
Jamie sagged with relief when he heard sirens. Thank Christ. His hand trembled and his mind fogged with fatigue. Just get me out of here.
The next thing he remembered was waking up after surgery, wondering how much of the night before was a dream.
mac tinn de bhreugan : sick son of a liar
Chapter 18: Out of Nowhere
Just as a warning: this chapter addresses some very serious stuff. It’s not graphic but it is very bad.
Claire stared at him in horror.
“No, he was never like that to me. I swear, Jamie. He was never violent or foul, or any of the things you are saying. If anything he was disinterested.”
Jamie tugged her hand to pull her in tight to his chest and she went gladly, savoring the warm solid feel of him. “I was in a lot of pain at the time, aye? Maybe his words werna as heinous as I remember. But all the same, Claire. Be verra careful of him.” He shifted uncomfortably in the hospital bed, his injured hand swaddled and propped up before him. Claire kissed his jaw and settled in against his side.
“What are we going to do?”
“I dinna ken, Sassenach. It sits uneasy with me that he’d speak so, even to a man he hates. I believe what ye say that he dinna act that way around ye, but surely it could not come out of nowhere.”
Claire shivered, thinking of the man she thought she had known intimately for ten years. “Well, we know where he’ll be for awhile. Should I do some snooping around the house? I don’t know what I’d be looking for, but at least we’d know we did something. ” Frank had been admitted and was staying under observation for the next few days with a head injury.
“Aye, I think so. But be safe, mo nighean donn. Dinna do anything rash until I get out of here and can come wi’ you.”
Unlocking the door to the house she had shared with Frank gave Claire an eerie feeling, especially in light of what she was here to do. She bolted the door behind her and walked through every room to make sure it was empty.
Starting her search in Frank’s office seemed logical. Claire dug through drawers and papers, finding nothing suspicious or surprising for a history professor. She walked into the bedroom and went through his bedside table, but only turned up a prostate massager that she carefully set back and then went to the bathroom to scrub her hands.
Frank’s laptop sat on the coffee table, and Claire logged in quickly. Thank god he hadn’t changed his password since the time three months before he asked her to email him a file at work.
Claire clicked around, studying the tabs he had left open and the recently downloaded files. She pulled up his email and scrolled through the inbox.
Her eye caught on one message from the week before. It was a payment confirmation, and when she clicked into the email she saw it was from a self storage company. She wrote down the address to check out.
Next she pulled up his history and spent some time looking through the sites he frequented. A few were definitely porn, and she cringed before clicking into the first one.
The screen was blocked with hands adjusting the camera. Everything shifted and then as the person stepped back the camera focused on a room, sparsely furnished with a bed and a chair. Sitting on the edge of the bed was a small boy with a mop of dark curly hair. He held himself straight and proud, looking straight ahead.
Oh my god.
Claire watched, frozen, as an adult man came into the frame. His head and shoulders were cut off from the view finder, but his hands urged the boy to stand and turn toward the camera, then began to remove his clothes and touch him.
No no no no no. Claire closed the tab and tried frantically to leave the laptop in the condition she found it. She erased the sites she had visited that day and then positioned the computer where it had been on the coffee table.
Grabbing her things, she left the house quickly in a daze and got in the car to drive back to the hospital and find Jamie. She had to shake her head to clear it before starting the car and pulling away.
Claire was trembling all over when she finally made it back to Jamie’s room. He was in the middle of being discharged, and she stepped back to wait in the hall so he wouldn’t be able to tell something was wrong.
When the nurse left she slipped in and found him fumbling to put his clothes on with one hand.
“Jamie,” Claire pushed everything from her mind and went to him. She wrapped her arms around his waist and held on tightly, her cheek resting on his bare chest and his jeans unzipped.
“ Mo ghraidh , what is it?” His hands moved over her body, then when he was assured that she was unhurt, he pulled her close and rocked her gently. Claire felt tears fill her eyes and overflow, soaking his skin. “Aye, lass. Go on and cry. I’m here, my love.”
“Jamie, we need to go to the police.”
Chapter 19: The Plan
“No. I wilna allow it.”
“Sir, this is the best chance we have…”
His face was a furious shade of scarlet as he glared down everyone in the room.
“We’ve just discussed this foul man’s habits, his associates, presumably his god forsaken crimes against wee bairns for Christ’s sake. And now yer askin’ me to place the woman I love right back in the heart of it? Have ye lost yer fucking minds?”
He had stepped half in front of Claire, and faced a room of FBI agents. When they reported the video found on Randall’s computer they were quickly escorted into a back room and grilled with questions.
It was surreal, how quickly all of this occurred. Jamie had thought they would report to the proper authorities and go on their way. He assumed Frank would be arrested, brought to justice, and never enter their lives again.
But that’s not what the FBI had in mind.
“Mr. Fraser, what we have here is the opportunity to bust a human trafficking ring that has been operating up and down the east coast for years. The best way for us to save these women and children is to apprehend as many members of the ring as possible.”
“Ye can do it without Claire.” He didn’t budge, though he felt her hand soft on his back. His hand ached and throbbed as blood surged through him. “I’ll not have her go back to him.”
He could hear it in her voice, and his head dropped. He could feel the defeat, the knowledge that she would risk herself for the sake of those who needed her help. Jamie turned and pulled her to him. “No, Sassenach. No, I won’t give you up.”
She was sweet and soft in his arms. Her own wrapped around his neck and they stood together, oblivious to the uniformed agents surrounding them.
“I can’t leave that little boy, Jamie. He’s been haunting me since I saw that video, and to know he’s out there somewhere, being raped…”
His eyes spilled over and he found himself nodding. “Aye, I ken. But to have you back in his house, in his bed, Claire. Christ .”
“We don’t know for sure he’ll buy our story. Let’s take one day at a time.”
They turned to face the room and the plan began to unfold.
Jamie watched her face, slack in unconscious rest. Tomorrow he would lose her. Christ. He’d barely had her! Hadn’t they waited long enough? To have her for only the space of a week, not even a full week with the time spent in the hospital after the accident. It was a nightmare to be sending her back to that monster.
They had made love, sweet and slow and sad. Both of them were gasping with emotion and tears wet their cheeks as they shook together with completion.
He shouldn’t touch her. Shouldn’t wake her. But of their own volition his fingertips traced a stray curl against her cheek, slid down the white column of her neck, the curve of her breast, and touched the dusky tip as it rose to meet him.
Gooseflesh spread under his hands and he let himself explore further. When she took a deep breath and finally broke through to consciousness, he was brushing featherlight touches over her sensitive labia. Her hips tilted up toward him and he slid a long finger deep inside her body.
“Mo chridhe, my heart. My brave lass.”
She was slick and slippery as waterweed, his thumb settled on her clit and his eyes held hers as he played her body like a musical instrument. When she was humming and purring and her eyes were losing focus he tipped her gently and carefully over the edge into bliss.
Her face when she came was glorious. In his hands he felt the tension and clutch of her body, but his eyes devoured the blissful surrender on her precious glass face.
“Jamie, I need you. Come to me.”
He was helpless to deny her anything. She parted for his shaft and cried out as he filled her to the brim. Jamie braced himself over her, panting, watching her, and suddenly feeling again the broken rage of what he knew was to be their tomorrow.
“I mean to make you remember me, Claire.”
He pressed her thighs down flat to the bed, laying her open and vulnerable to him. She gasped out, “Jamie!” and squirmed as he thrust forward.
“Every moment you spend in that house, you remember that you are mine.” He pumped his heavy cock in and out of her body. “Every time that fucking monster touches you, remember Claire that you are mine. Mine, now and forever.”
He grabbed the headboard above them and pinned her down as he claimed her again and again. Her eyes were intent on his, and he saw the moment her fire burst up to meet his own.
“You are mine , James Fraser.”
They rolled across the bed, still joined at the core. Jamie watched in breathless awe as she rose above him in the moonlight like a warrior queen bent on destruction. Her hair flew as she rode him, her pussy clutched him in a vice and she drove him to the end of his control. His hands could do nothing but grasp the slender hips that drove him.
The climax sparked and prickled at the base of his spine. He surged up into her, erratic and frantic. Claire cried out and ground down, he could feel her inner muscles rippling with pleasure and he filled her with his seed, claiming her body and soul in the instinctive battle of love that had been fought from the beginning of time.
It actually worked out quite simply. All Claire had to do was go to Frank, still recovering in the hospital, and give him a weepy apology for her infidelity, saying that almost losing him made her realize what she was giving up. She swore to care for him and didn’t leave his side for the next weeks as he healed.
If he suspected anything she couldn’t tell. The only hitch in their life was the DUI charge, but their lawyer was mostly taking care of that. Claire settled back into her old pattern of life, and when he had recovered, Frank did as well.
Well, it wasn’t quite her old pattern, Claire smiled to herself as she slipped into an on-call room during a lull at work.
Before she could turn around his hands were on her, molding to her curves. He breathed her in as if to memorize her scent.
“ Mo nighean donn, tha gaol agam ort. Leig dhomh fios a chuir thugad, mo ghraidh.”
Jamie’s mouth was on her neck, his hands cupping her breasts, and she could feel his erection insistent against her ass. But Claire stood quietly and leaned into him until he realized she wasn’t returning his fervor, and he turned her toward him.
“Are ye alright, Sassenach? What is it?”
She smiled sadly up into his eyes. “Will you hold me for a minute, Jamie?” His arms closed around her like barricades, keeping out the cold world.
“It happened last night.”
Both of them were still. Jamie’s grip locked her against his chest and they stood quietly and let the pain of those words wash over them. Sex was part of the bargain, one can’t reconcile with a husband without expecting sex. But the plan was for her to tell Frank she wanted to spice up their sex life in hopes of getting more involved in his illegal dealings.
“You can tell me, my love.” He murmured softly in her hair.
“No, Jamie. You don’t want to hear…” she trailed off as he made a hushing noise. “Och, lass. I’ll not enjoy it, but I want to hear all the same. I need to know so I can bear it with you. I wilna have you carrying it alone.”
Claire felt her eyes well up. “Thank you.”
He kissed her hair. “Tell me, ghraidh.”
“I told him that what turned me on the most about you was how dominant you were on camera. He suggested we watch some porn together so we could get ideas and show each other what we liked.” She shuddered and buried her face into the curve of his neck.
“I steered him toward the taboo porn. I wanted him to think I was into age play. We ended up watching some daddy/daughter role playing video and he was… god it was more sexual excitement than I’ve seen from him in years.”
“I think the worst thing is knowing there are people listening to everything.” The FBI had bugged the house while Frank was still in the hospital and had been monitoring them since they arrived home. “I just hate this, Jamie.”
“Aye, you and me both.” He kissed her gently. “They called me today to say the storage unit was empty. Cleaned out and sprayed down recently, so it bears keeping an eye on to see if they come back to it.”
Jamie cleared his throat. “I also have something to tell ye. Though I dinna think yer going to like it overmuch.” He shifted so he could lean against the wall as they sat on one of the bunks. “Apparently someone known to Randall’s organization has been making inquiries into my past. The name Mac Dubh has come up and the FBI has asked me to be ready, there might be a chance for me to help.”
“Won’t Frank suspect if you suddenly show up?”
Jamie tightened his hold on her, inhaling her spicy vanilla scent and breathing in her closeness. “I dinna ken, Sassenach.”
They sat in the dark room holding one another till her pager went off.
Claire kept her gaze on the tv where a young woman— too young —was entertaining two men at the same time. Frank’s breathing beside her revealed what he thought, and she swallowed a feeling of nausea.
After ten years of sexual indifference, this introduction to her husband’s turn ons had been educational and revolting. As she revealed an interest in the darker side of sexual practice, Frank seemed to feel more and more comfortable revealing his own tastes.
“Do you like this, darling?” He pulled her into his lap and slid his hands up her thighs. Claire closed her eyes and tried to think about anything else. “It certainly is something,” she replied, then remembering her mission she added, “she’s so young, there’s something... deliciously bad about that.”
“I have to admit, the young ones are a weakness of mine too. I remember when we were first together how delicate and small you always looked, it turned me on. The idea of sharing you with someone is very interesting to me as well.”
“Oh?” Claire held herself still as his fingers slid under her tshirt and up to pinch her breasts so hard she almost flinched. She filed away the fact that he had been attracted to her youth in a mental file to deal with later.
“What do you think?”
She forced her body to relax against his chest, her own tight with the strain of keeping her feelings at bay. “I don’t know about sharing, darling. Maybe we could build up to that? I want to do something exciting, but maybe not that exciting.”
“Would you like to go somewhere and observe? I know of a place where we could just watch.”
This is it. Claire’s brain stuttered and started again.
“Mmmm, that sounds intriguing.”
Frank stood up and set her on the floor. “Put on something sexy and we can go. I think you’ll have fun.” He smiled a horribly sickening smile and walked back to the bedroom to get ready.
She tried not to think of Jamie as she followed.
Mo nighean donn, tha gaol agam ort. Leig dhomh fios a chuir thugad, mo ghraidh : My brown haired lass, I love you, let me touch you, my love.
Chapter 21: Black Jack
This is a re-write! In my first version I wasn’t happy with how the story played out. It felt anti-climactic. So I had to fix it before I could move forward. Re-enjoy!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jamie had just gotten off a long shift and was walking to his car when he heard a low voice speak from the shadows.
He froze for an instant and then turned. “Who’s asking?”
A nondescript woman stepped from behind a van and pointed a handgun at his chest. “Please come with me.” Jamie blinked, but she was still there aiming the gun at him. He stepped forward and climbed into the van without complaint.
The woman reached out her other hand, “give me your phone.” When he passed it to her she dropped it on the ground and slammed the doors. Moments later the van pulled out with Jamie inside.
This is it. His heart crashed in his chest and his mind whirled with unanswered questions.
Human trafficking, to his knowledge, happened mostly to women and children. He had never heard of a grown man being abducted for the sex trade. But what else could this be but a forcible entry into Frank’s realm of evil?
After a time, the van stopped and he was ushered into a dark door and through a series of hallways. His clothes were taken and he was given a cheap costume kilt to put on. Dhia, a callback to the Mac Dubh porn videos. What is this about?
Someone led him down a dark hall, and he ventured a question. “What is this place?”
“Black Jack’s.” was the only answer. Black Jack’s what?
The hall suddenly opened up to an observation deck. Below was a lavish bed with burgundy silk sheets, and a young woman being fucked brutally by a man two or three times her age.
Jamie cringed and averted his eyes by instinct, when something caught the corner of his eye.
There were several people observing, but Claire stood at the rail of the deck to his left. She was watching the couple below, her hands holding tightly to the metal rail that separated her from the edge.
Jamie could see that her jaw was tight, but her body language appeared to be relaxed. He suddenly noticed the man beside her and glanced up into the eyes of Frank Randall.
They were both dressed up. Frank’s suit screamed elegance and Claire wore a silky dress that draped over her body like water. Jamie held Randall’s eye and everything in him froze when the other man’s mouth turned up in a smirk.
He planned this.
Jamie turned to face forward again, and slowly calmed his body. He concentrated on his breathing, the beat of his heart, the stillness that he forced into his mind.
They were going to have to fight their way out. He didn’t see another way. Whatever Randall had in mind for them would be unthinkable. Jamie stretched the fingers of his injured hand gingerly, reconciling himself to the fact that he may be obliged to break it again.
The grunts and moans below him had reached a fever pitch and broke off in presumed ecstasy.
Surely the FBI had traced Claire here and knew he was gone by now, but it was no use depending on them without knowing for sure. His only goal was to get Claire out of this building and away from that man.
A firm hand on his elbow led him away and down the hall again. The only thing that kept him from making his escape attempt now was the knowledge that Frank had wanted Jamie to see Claire and himself on the observation deck. He wouldn’t be apart from her long.
He took stock of the room they led him into. It was cheaply furnished with garish colors and finishes. The door was sturdy and locked from the outside, and a large mirror that was probably a one-way window built into one wall. Jamie stood in the middle of the room and waited. There was a chair he could use as a weapon if he had to, as well as a thin sheet on the bed.
The time ticked by, and Jamie grew nervous. He didn’t move, but his mind began racing over possible outcomes.
When the door clicked and swung open he met Claire’s horrified eyes.
“Jam… Frank? What is this about?” She whipped around toward the man behind her. Randall grabbed her wrists and pushed her into the room, making her stumble in her heels, and Jamie caught her close to his chest.
“This is a surprise for you, darling.” Randall sneered at his wife. “Do you think I’m a fucking idiot? I’ve been onto this cute little attempt to take me down from the beginning.”
He surveyed the two of them standing together. “I told you I liked the idea of sharing the same woman, Fraser. How has it been for you these past few weeks? Does it make you hot to think she was just with me when you go down on her? Can you taste me on her cun…”
“ Stad! Bi sàmhach! Filthy scum!”
Randall smirked at the Gaelic and turned toward the bed. “Well tonight I’m going to get my wish, and then I’ll dispose of both of you.”
“Your wish?” Claire was frozen in front of Jamie, he ached to touch her and pull her to safety.
“To share you, my dear. You and I and Mac Dubh here are going to fuck.” He started loosening his bow tie and kicked his shoes into a corner.
Jamie had suspected this, but Claire jolted and jumped even further away from her husband. “What? That’s crazy, Frank. This is insanity. Let us go!”
“I think not.”
Randall was naked now. His body was narrow and toned, his cock stiff and ready. He massaged it with a hand and gestured with the other for them to undress. Claire’s back hit Jamie’s chest and his hands closed around her upper arms for support. He could feel tremors running through her body and he knew her mind was racing like his trying to find a way to escape this.
“How will ye force us?” Jamie knew better than to think there was no one else around. He would snap Frank’s neck in a second if that were the case.
The big mirror was behind Randall, and as he waved his hand toward it, the glass shifted to reveal the room beyond. Jamie saw the two guards that Frank was expecting to be there, but he also took in four FBI agents who were cuffing the men and signaling for him to keep Frank talking.
“Come on now.” Randall stepped forward, reaching for Claire, who shrunk back against Jamie instinctively. He pushed her behind him and grabbed at the fastening of the kilt he was wearing. “Stop, Randall. Ye can do whatever ye wish to me, but leave Claire out of it.”
The snarl was pure evil. “That’s intriguing, but I’m afraid I have my heart set on having both of you tonight. My wife needs to be punished before I sell her off to the highest bidder, and I can’t think of a better way than fucking her boy toy right in front of her eyes.”
Just then, the door crashed open and agents flooded the room. Frank lunged at them with lunacy in his eyes, and Jamie stopped him dead with a punch in the jaw by instinct.
He grabbed Claire’s hand and drug her out and down the hall and into another room before pulling her tightly to his chest and holding her while she sobbed.
“Oh my god, are you alright?” He looked down at Claire but she was staring across the room, and she pulled out of his arms and knelt before a small boy. His dark hair was a curly mass above brown eyes that blinked at her in a daze. “What is your name, lad?” Jamie stepped over and helped the boy stand.
“They say Claudel,” his voice was thin and small with a French accent. “But please don’t call me that, monsieur.”
Jamie sent a sharp glance to Claire, then addressed the boy again. “May I call you… Fergus? It’s a braw Scottish name, it means ‘man of force or strength.’” The boy blinked and nodded at him.
Claire wrapped her arm around his narrow shoulders. “It suits you.”
Jamie led them back out into the hall. The commotion behind them had calmed to a dull roar as they pushed out an exit door. An alarm screamed into the night, but they barely heard it. The darkness was aglow with flashing police lights and barked orders.
One of the agents grabbed them and pulled them off to the side. Claire let out a triumphant cry and he turned to see Randall being led in cuffs out to a police car. Then he turned back around and gathered Claire and Fergus close to his heart. “He canna harm us anymore, mo ghraidh.”
It wasn’t until then that Fergus’ small frame started shaking, and they wrapped him close between them and let him cry till his tears ran out.
Stad! Bi sàmhach : stop be quiet
“We are all done, Milady!” Fergus set a cardboard box down on the kitchen island of Claire’s new apartment. It was small, but bright and airy and only three blocks from the Murray/Fraser residence where Fergus was now living with his new foster father.
Jamie came in with another box and set it down, ruffling Fergus’ hair. “Yer a braw laddie, mo charaid. What do ye say we take our lady out to celebrate for dinner?” Two sets of eyes fixed on Claire’s face, one dark and one bright.
“Dinner sounds lovely.” She smiled at their twin looks of victory. “Let me finish putting these away, then we’ll go. Fergus why don’t you pick the restaurant?”
Claire turned back to her task of setting dishes in the tall cabinets. She reached up to place a large serving bowl on the top shelf and felt big calloused hands slide up her hips and around her waist. His fingertips brushed her bare sides and made her shiver.
“ Christ, to see this arse up close in yer wee leggings.” He planted a soft kiss at the base of her spine and let his lips linger on her as she bent to grab a cake plate and stretched to put it in its place. “I ken I said yesterday that ye mustn’t ever wear pants again, but these wee things are acceptable.” His hands molded the shape of her ass and thighs in the taut nylon.
He had given her the order never again to wear pants when they walked in the door from attending mass and his wandering hands discovered the accessibility of her thong under the flowy skirt she wore.
Claire smiled with the memory and leaned back into his touch. “I seem to recall quite a few statements you’ve made about what I can and cannot wear recently.” Jamie had become even more affectionate, if that were possible, over the past weeks as they all recovered from the ordeal. He had declared it an abomination for her to cover her “bonny wee shoulders” when he saw her in a workout tank top and at one point tried to ban pants in the hotel room altogether, which ended with them tangled in the bed laughing so hard they wiped tears from each other’s eyes. “I think you’d prefer we spend all our time in the nude.”
“Weel, a man can dream, aye?”
She turned and sat on the countertop, pulling his body in between her thighs. Fergus was sprawled on the couch looking up restaurants on his phone, so she wrapped her arms around his neck and he laid his head down on her soft breast. “It is a dream, being here with you.” Claire whispered into his auburn curls.
“I feel the same, mo ghraidh.” His hands wandered under her sweater again and up her bare back, stroking the skin of her shoulders and down the knobs of her spine. “To be settling you here and know that Fergus and ye are both safe at last, it has been a relief to be sure.”
Claire arched gently into his chest and her legs tightened imperceptibly as her body responded to his attentions. Sudden awareness froze his arms in place and he inhaled her scent with his nose buried between her breasts.
“God, Claire,” his voice rumbled deep in his chest. “We canna with the lad here right now.”
“I know,” she hugged him to her once more and then slid down from the countertop. He pinned her with his body for a moment, but stepped back with a wry grin and then a grimace as he reached to adjust his jeans.
“Let’s feed this hungry lad, aye? Are ye ready, Fergus?” The boy came bounding into the kitchen again and Claire slid her arm around his shoulder and pulled him close to her side. “Where are we headed, my boy?”
Italian was the cuisine of choice, and they spent the next hour sitting close and laughing over a family style meal at a local restaurant. Fergus glowed under the attention and affection he received from them. They were working closely with his therapist to help with the transition back to normal life, and right now he spent his days homeschooling with Jenny and shadowing Ian and Jamie every chance he got. He was devoted to Claire, bending over backwards to please her. The two of them spent long hours curled in front of the fire at Jamie’s house while Claire read aloud from classic books that Fergus had never heard of.
He had been born to a sex worker, there was no way to tell who. But he grew up among the women and children being held in the Black Jack facility that ran as an undercover fetish club. Fergus had been dancing since he was five and raped for the first time at seven.
Now, at ten, he was just learning to read and discovering the world in a brand new way. It took all four of the adults to keep an eye on him, but it was worth it. They had fallen in love with him immediately.
Later that evening Jamie and Claire tucked him into bed in the office that had been made over quickly to a third bedroom. Jamie told him one more story, a tale of fairies and spirits and warriors in the Highlands, and Claire brushed the silky curls and rubbed his small warm back.
“Alright, mon fils, that’s enough for the night.” Jamie leaned in to kiss the boy and then Claire brushed her lips over his forehead. “Goodnight sweetheart.”
Jenny and Ian were sharing a cup of tea in the kitchen when they went down.
“We’re here, if you two want to take a wee walk.” Jenny threw a sideways glance at her brother who flushed hotly.
“Aye, enjoy yerselves. We’ll keep an eye out for the lad.” Ian grinned into a gulp of tea.
“I’ll thank ye to can the snide looks.” Jamie growled at them both, then offered Claire his arm. “Might I walk ye home, mo ghraidh?” She took it, feeling the strong biceps flex under her fingers. “Why yes, you may.”
They ignored the snorts of laughter behind them as they strolled out the door and down the street.
They ignored the cars whizzing by as their fingers stroked and their eyes promised in the twilight of crisp spring evening.
They ignored the nod and wave of a neighbor as they fumbled with the newly familiar key and lock and stumbled into the apartment together.
She jumped on him the moment the door closed behind them, cinching her legs around his hips, tongue searching for his. Rough hands dropped to grip her buttocks and fit her tightly against his growing erection, and his tongue joined hers in a battle of passion. They bumped into the sofa and Jamie almost fell, so they were laughing into each other’s mouths when he laid them together on the soft rug.
“My love, oh my love,” he murmured, tasting her lips and jaw and neck. Claire felt the heat coil deep in her belly and she arched against him. Suddenly she pushed at his shoulders and rolled with him till she was straddling his hips, leaning down to run her tongue down the trail he had been taking on her body a moment before.
“Take this off,” she pulled on his soft t-shirt and he yanked it over his head. Her mouth and tongue moved down, and his whole body tightened in anticipation as he realized where she was headed. They fumbled together to remove his pants and boxer briefs, and his cock sprang free impossibly thick and hard in her hand.
The breath left his lungs like a punch in the gut when her tongue laved the length of him and her sweet lips closed around the head of his cock. “ O Dhia, thoir neart dhomh, ” the prayer tore out of him, eyes locked on the flaming vixen in his lap. Her cheeks hollowed as she sucked him deep into her mouth and his hand involuntarily gripped her hair back from her face while he greedily drank in the sight.
White lights danced in his vision when at last he pulled her forcibly away. He locked his arms around her to prevent her from going back to her task, and she pouted so that he had to kiss the lip she stuck out. “No! No, mo nighean donn , I am taking you with me.”
Jamie sat up and turned Claire around, bending her over the couch and letting his hands slide down over her leggings for the hundredth time that day. This time his fingers slipped into her waistband and pulled the fabric with them. He kissed every inch of skin as it was exposed, first her hips, the base of her spine, each sweet plump cheek of that arse, and the crease of her thigh, so close to her heat he could feel it against his jaw.
Claire broke out in goosebumps, squirming and panting as his rough cheeks brushed her most sensitive places. The leggings disappeared, leaving her in mere scraps of lace and silk. She started to look over her shoulder, but his hand spanned the width of her back and held her down, cheek against the soft leather of the couch cushion.
“Be still, Sassenach,” his voice shook slightly. She felt his breath a moment before teeth closed on the strap at her hip and the last barrier between them was pulled away. “So beautiful,” his fingers and lips explored her skin, pushing her thighs wider apart to allow him access. Claire gasped as he licked her pussy gently, spreading her honey with his tongue. Her whole body jerked when he pushed further back than she had anticipated, coating her with her own arousal.
“Is this alright, Claire?”
“Yes,” she whispered, breathing heavily. “I want you to fill me. All of me.”
He was against her back, pushing into her pussy and sheathing himself in her like a weapon to it’s scabbard. She groaned as her body stretched to accept him, and felt the heat of his labored breath on the back of her neck. Her head was reeling, and when his big gentle finger breached her ass she convulsed, once, twice, the climax pulsed and shook her body till she was vibrating underneath him, and he cried out mixed strain and joy.
“Take me, mo ghraidh. ” He wrapped his forearm around her collar and pulled her back into his chest. The new angle woke her body out of its stupor and a breathless scream left her throat. Jamie pumped up into her body, feeling his own cock through the slippery folds of her skin.
“Oh my god, my god, Jamie, oh my god.” Claire was babbling, sobbing, clutching his arm that held her fast as the tidal wave rose in her again. He slammed home again and again until they both exploded and the world faded to black.
Mon fils : my son
O Dhia, thoir neart dhomh : Oh God, give me strength
Chapter 23: That She May Be Safe
“Are you ready for more, my pet?”
Jamie blinked through a fog of pain, his whole body screaming in protest as he steadied himself. Lord, that she may be safe. Before the prayer had fully formed another blow exploded across his spine, ripping into his flesh. His jaw ached from grinding down so tightly, but he would not scream.
He was dimly aware of the lavish room he stood in, the dark forms mingling around, sitting at tables. When he was brought in he had seen them all in various states of undress. From expensive suits to leather thongs, down to those crawling at their master’s feet wearing nothing but a choker collar.
Christ, keep her safe. Her and the boy.
The whip cracked against his shoulder blade and he must have blacked out for a few seconds. When he came to they had released his wrists and he was being carried back through the crowd toward the dark hall. He absentmindedly noticed the pools of blood dripping from the elegant center stage down to the dining room floor.
“What do you fucking mean you’re doing all you can?” Claire screamed at the agent, who had his hands up in front of him as if she might start swinging. “He’s been gone for weeks, and we’ve had no word at all. I thought you were the best!” She knew she was hysterical, could recognize the unfairness in the words flowing from her mouth, but she couldn’t stop them.
Three weeks ago Jamie hadn’t come home from his shift.
It was one of the few times he and Ian hadn’t been working together. Jenny and Ian had assumed he went straight to Claire’s house and she had assumed he had gone home and fallen asleep. It wasn’t till around 10 the next morning that she walked over to see if she could persuade him to wake up and take her and Fergus out for brunch.
Since then everything was a blur. She hadn’t been to work, took an emergency leave of absence that Geillis took care of all the paperwork for. She spent every day with Fergus and Jenny trying to keep life as normal as possible for him, and every evening laying in Jamie’s bed breathing in his scent.
Today she was sick and tired of no news.
“Mrs. Beauchamp, we will tell you when anything new comes in. Please believe that we have our best men on this.”
Claire hung her head. Frank had escaped while being transported from Massachusetts, and days later Jamie was gone. Her mind reeled every time she tried to reconcile the distant history professor she had been married to for a decade with the knowledge that he had actually been a major player in human trafficking and sexual exploitation for years.
Her therapist helped her come to terms with how she had missed the signs. Frank had been attracted to her youth and naivety, then simply used her to complete the look of a harmless professor that was his cover. The therapist said it’s possible Frank didn’t even really connect the two sides of himself, Black Jack and Frank Randall, that it was likely he turned them off and on, compartmentalizing his personalities even in his own mind.
But now Jamie was somewhere at his mercy. He had been for weeks, who knew where he was by now? God, keep him safe. Please bring him home to me.
“Knox, you’re gonna want to see this. We were sent an anonymous video on Fraser.”
Claire looked up into the eyes of the agent she had just verbally assaulted, and he nodded for her to follow him. They passed through a door into a room full of screens with half a dozen people crowded around. A few shot glances at Claire, but she ignored them, her eyes fixed on the biggest screen in front of her.
Jamie was chained to a wooden beam, naked. His head hung down, curly hair soaked with sweat obscuring his face. Claire felt a whimper leave her mouth and clamped a hand over her lips to stop it.
Her stomach turned as her ex-husband’s voice spoke from behind the camera, “James Fraser. Why don’t you say hello? We’re making a little video for my wife.”
His blue eyes were out of focus. It took her a beat to recognize he was drugged. Claire felt tears coursing down her cheeks but she kept her eyes fixed on him.
Frank unchained one wrist and pushed Jamie around to reveal his back. It was a mess of scabbed over lacerations.
“I’m making sure our Jamie enjoys himself, don’t worry, darling. I had told him before I liked the thought of sharing you, but I find I like even better the thought of sharing him.”
Jamie’s face was stone. He didn’t respond to anything Frank said, only stared straight ahead with dead eyes. Claire felt her heart and Hope drain away. How could she get to him?
“Let’s show her what she’s missing, Jamie. Shall we?” Frank set the camera down and suddenly he was in the frame, kneeling in front of Jamie and leaning in to lick his penis. Claire stifled an agonized groan and turned her face away.
The video paused, and an agent took her by the arm and led her out of the dim room.
“Mrs. Beauchamp, I’m so sorry for this. We need you to go home and let us work. I promise we will be in touch as soon as we know something.”
Claire walked out, still reeling. Despair broke over her in waves, crashing against the breakers of everything she had hoped for their life together. Everything that would never be. They would never find him. Frank would never let him go. Darkness blurred her vision and she sunk into oblivion with a grateful sigh.
“ Claire ?”
She blinked against fluorescent lights, disoriented. The buzzing in her head faded now and she could make out the other people in the room.
A hospital room.
“What happened?” Claire whispered.
“Ye passed out on the sidewalk,” Geillis’ firm voice was tight and thin. She leaned in and helped Claire sit up in the bed.
Her right hand was completely enveloped in Ian Murray’s hands, and he stared at the bedspread without speaking.
“He was in the ambulance that was called for ye, he’s a bit shaken, thinkin’ the worst.”
“I couldna face my wife again with news like that,” he croaked out, then cleared his throat. “Her brother gone and then to lose ye as well. God,” his forehead dropped to rest on their hands.
Claire laid her free hand on his head, letting him take a moment to collect himself. The events of the day came back to her and she felt the numbness creeping into her soul.
“Weel, I can tell ye now why ye collapsed on the road and scared the shit out of us all.” Geillis announced, studying the tablet chart in front of her.
“Yer pregnant, Claire.”
Chapter 24: Breadcrumbs
In the pitch black swaying belly of the box truck, Jamie wrapped his arms around as many of them as he could reach. There were probably twenty women and children on board, shivering and silent in the dark as they rumbled toward an unknown location.
At first no one had dared to move or speak, but then Jamie spoke softly into the dark, “I’m always a furnace of body heat, so send the weans this way and I’ll keep them warm as I can.”
He counted eight small bodies pressed against him or under his arms. The others cuddled around the outside, doing as much as they could for the young ones in the middle.
As the hours ticked by, Jamie pulled information from each person. They had been kidnapped, some from a mall or street, others tricked into running away with an older boyfriend, a few from other countries promised a job that would allow them to send money home and then thrown into a van never to hear from their families again.
All of them had been taken young, between 10-15. All of them had been used horribly. None of them had a shred of hope that they could one day escape.
Jamie stroked their hair, holding the wee bairns close to him and trying to give them some faith to hold onto.
“I ken they are looking for me, the FBI knows of Black Jack and they willna stop hunting for him. They will find us, mo charaidean. ”
Claire will find us.
He lay his head back against the inside of the truck, picturing her face before him. The drugs that had been clouding his mind thankfully worn off enough that he had a clear head for the first time in… weeks? Jamie had no idea how long it had been.
“What can I do to help?” A voice came from his right, one of the shapes shifting in the dark.
“What is yer name, lass?”
“Mary,” came her answer in the dark.
“We shall bide our time,” Jamie said softly. “It will be a moment, ye’ll see a chance to tell someone. To slip a note out in a store or to a stranger.”
She was nodding, and several others had perked up. He could feel the atmosphere shift slightly.
“When ye see the chance, tell them to contact the FBI and give them the name James Fraser, tell them everything ye can about our location and events we ken are planned. Dates and names and the like. We can lead them to us.”
The little group huddled close together, but he felt the purpose, the hope that had risen in them.
“I swear to ye, I will do everything in my power to get ye all to freedom.”
It was a game of breadcrumbs and chance. Randall wasn’t usually with them, but their small group of twenty were moved monthly to a new location, a new facility where they were held and used by the upscale clientele of the area.
They were often kept separately, but occasionally they spoke or passed information along to each other.
A note dropped in the cab of a taxi.
A whispered word to the hotel maid.
Once, a phone call from the restroom of a five star hotel.
Jamie was watched too closely and used too infrequently to be much use beyond keeping the morale and determination of his little clan high. The drugs were back, and it was a fight to keep track of the details he could hear, but he knew the only way to be found was to keep the weans and lassies dropping clues of their whereabouts.
His back ached and pulled. Every time Randall did turn up in their location he ripped the scars open again. Jamie had found a place in his mind to retreat to on these visits. He was completely helpless to stop the pain, or the forced arousal, or the rape. But inside himself he was wrapped in Claire’s arms and safe in their bed. It wasn’t until hours later the pain wrenched him back and he shook with shock and misery.
They had been moved to Fortaleza, Brazil the night before. The air was hot and humid, the house they were staying in had bars on all the windows. Jamie sat against the back wall with two of the young boys leaning against him. He made it a point every chance he got to soothe and remind them that this was not as life was meant to be.
“Will we play baseball?” A lad with raven black hair named Thomas asked. “Aye, if ye like,” Jamie responded. “We can set up a wee field. There’s space in the back where we could hit the ball away from the house. That’s important, ken?”
He had fallen into telling them about his childhood at Lallybroch, and now in their fantasies they all would live there together. It was a fantastical idea, straight fiction, but it helped to have a real location to the dream.
“Tell is about Claire again, Jamie, please?” Mary was brushing one of the young girl’s hair and several of the others echoed her request.
“Weel, she is a doctor, ye ken?” He settled in to tell the tale of the beautiful doctor married to the heartless monster and her quest to free all of the princes and princesses her evil husband held prisoner.
“And she loves you, right Jamie? Will you marry her someday?”
His eyes burned suddenly and he blinked hard to keep the emotion back. “Aye, my sweet bairns. If she’ll have me when this is all through, I’ll marry her in the courtyard at Lallybroch with you all in attendance.”
A scrape at the door sent them all scattering, and then boots stomped into the room.
“Fraser, get up.” One of the guards called him and held handcuffs ready. Jamie caught Mary’s eye. This could only mean that Randall was to be in attendance at the event tonight, and he mentally began to retreat, building his walls up for what was to come.
“Bring the rest. We’re going to keep stock on hand just in case.”
They climbed into trucks single file and barreled off into the night to whatever Black Jack had in store for them.
Chapter 25: Fortaleza
Claire rested her hot mug of tea on the soft swell of her six month baby bump. Fergus had fallen asleep against her thigh half an hour ago when she put down the worn copy of The Swiss Family Robinson.
Jamie had been gone for just over five of those months. His child moving in her womb was the only one who heard her grief late into the nights after she tucked Fergus into bed.
Jenny settled into a loveseat with her own steaming cup, and Ian was messing with the laptop on the coffee table.
They had gotten a call only a few minutes before. There had been an anonymous tip about a gathering happening in a city in Brazil, the caller’s words were, “I’m in a sex trafficked group of women, children and one man named James Fraser. There is an event tonight at the Casino Mucuripe in Fortaleza, Brazil. Black Jack will be there.”
One of the agents had given Ian a link to watch the body cams, warning that he shouldn’t be allowing this and not to breathe a word of it.
Claire wanted to wake Fergus up and take him upstairs but she was frozen, staring at the screen and waiting for something to happen.
“ Feuch, a Dhia. Lorg iad e. ” Jenny’s whispered prayer registered faintly. Claire sent her own prayer heavenwards, the one that had never left her conscious thought since he went missing.
Lord, I commend to your mercy the soul of your servant James.
The screen flickered. Ian sat back, gripping Jenny’s knee. Claire put the mug down before she dropped the hot tea on Fergus’ head. It was a huge room with so many people in it. Some wore tuxedos and formal dresses, some were in lingerie only, some were completely nude.
The three adults sat silent, staring, waiting. There was a stage in the middle of the room, and on it a young woman was suspended in the air by chains and being tortured by a man in leather chaps. Another young girl was on her knees giving the man a blow job as he worked.
Claire’s eyes prickled with tears and anger at the senseless violence and exploitation. How could this many people be perfectly fine with what was happening?
The stage went dark and black figures could be seen lowering the suspended woman and moving offstage. They were setting something up now, a post of some sort? It was hard to tell on the grainy screen.
Her breath stopped when she recognized his silhouette, the slope of his shoulder. His arms were raised above his head and fastened to the post. Then a strobe light snapped on and her heart shattered.
Jamie’s back was covered in scars, layer upon layer of thick ridges where he had been beaten, obviously multiple times. As the light flashed it appeared to happen in slow motion; the arm rising high, the whip slashing through the air, his body jerking in pain, and the blood spilling down the tracks scored into his skin like rivers and tributaries.
Claire covered her face with her hands, unable to watch. But a split second later Ian’s muffled “ Look! Look! ” pulled her eyes back to the screen.
The sound was too low to hear anything, but the agent was racing toward the stage. All of the people in the crowd were frantic, pushing each other, trying to get away.
The camera swung up and there was Jamie, both arms loose, with the whip wrapped around Frank Randall’s neck. The agent’s hands were out in front of the camera, pulling on Jamie, trying to move him with no success. His eyes were rage and fire and revenge. Randall’s whole body lurched, his face purple and his gaze locked on the man he had victimized who was now killing him. Then his neck bent back to an impossible angle, there was a jolt and he went limp in Jamie’s hands.
Jenny and Ian were frozen, clinging to each other. Claire was floating above her body, watching as she laid gentle hands on Fergus’ head, making sure he was still asleep. Her lips moved in silent thanks that this man who had haunted her family was gone.
“He will never hurt you again, baby. He will never ever hurt you again,” she whispered to her boy. Then she snapped back and her eyes glued to the screen once more.
The camera shook as the agent ran down halls, opening doors. Women and children were pulled out and gathered in a group together. They could see Jamie at the center on his knees, tears running down his face, gathering the smallest ones close to him. Claire was suddenly weeping, her body shaking with relief and horror and fear. Fergus stirred, then sat up and scooted into her side. “Milady?” His voice was heavy with sleep, “Are you alright, Milady?”
Ian turned the screen away and Claire gathered Fergus into her arms.
“Oh, Fergus. They found Jamie, sweetheart. He’s going to be okay. He’s coming home.”
Around 3am Claire’s cell phone rang. She had been sitting in the dark in Jamie’s bed holding the phone to her chest and waiting. Agent Knox had called soon after the raid to let them know they had Jamie and he was safe along with 27 others all victims of human trafficking. They had made over 100 arrests. He let them know Jamie would call as soon as he could.
“Sassenach,” his voice broke into a sob and Claire’s head fell back against the wall, tears dripping down her cheeks.
It took several minutes for either of them to form cohesive sentences, but they listened to each other breathe and cry, choking out each other’s names and tearful I love yous .
“He’s dead, Claire. He willna hurt us again, I swear it.”
“I know, love. I know. Thank you,” she whispered.
“ Mo chridhe. Christ,” he took a deep breath and tried to steady himself. “Tell me everything, tell me of home, please Claire.”
“We are all together. Jenny and Ian took over as Fergus’ foster parents so he could stay with us, and I haven’t been at my apartment in months. We’ve been together just…” she stifled tears and tried to keep them out of her voice, “We’ve just been waiting and praying for you, Jamie.”
“It worked, Sassenach, thank you. I canna wait to see yer face.”
They spoke a few minutes more, but he had to return the phone and go with the others to be brought back to US soil. It was a tearful goodbye, but then the whole call had been full of tears.
After they hung up it took Claire two hours to realize she never told him about the baby.
It was three days before they heard from Jamie again, and that was a quick call to Ian to say he was in Boston and ask if they could pick him up.
“I can’t just walk up to him like this, Jenny!” Claire wailed, gesturing to the belly that was by no means subtle. “He’s spent months being traumatized. The last thing he needs is another shock!”
Jenny chuckled and steered her by her shoulders down to the sofa. “It would be a happy shock, but I agree w’ ye, Claire. Let Ian and I pick him up and we’ll tell him on the way home.” Fergus looked up from his math work with big pleading eyes, “May I go with you, Madame?”
“Nae, lamb. Stay here and watch over yer lady and the bairn.”
Twenty minutes later they were pretending to be absorbed in long division and both checking out the window every few seconds for the car. Claire’s phone buzzed with a text and Fergus pressed into her shoulder to read the screen.
Two minutes out. Send Fergus to greet us at the car and we’ll take a walk so you two can have some privacy.
Abandoning the math book, both of them stood at the front window with their arms wrapped around each other. Fergus snorted a laugh when the baby pressed a foot against his hand, and Claire smiled down at him and stroked his curls.
“He’s almost home, love.”
When the car pulled into the drive Fergus was out the door like a shot, leaving Claire to pace and rub her hands over her belly trying to soothe the little one within.
There he was, through the curtain. Claire attempted to breathe normally as she watched him stiffly climb out of the passenger seat and bend to carefully embrace Fergus. They spoke for a few moments and then he glanced up at the window and met her eye. She laid a hand against the glass and tried to smile.
He straightened and turned to say something to Jenny and Ian who held out hands to Fergus and started down the sidewalk toward his favorite park. Then Jamie strode around to the door and walked in.
They stood still, taking each other in. Cataloging all of the changes since they had last seen each other. She traced the gauntness of his face, the awkward way he held himself, and the shadows beneath his eyes. He didn’t look like her Jamie, and for a moment she fought back a burst of panic.
“Are ye still,” he cleared his throat, eyes pinned to her face. “Are ye still you, Claire?”
“I’m still me,” Uncanny how he had the same thought. She let her hands move over her stomach and met his eyes. “A little different than the Claire you might remember, but still... myself.”
He took a tentative step forward and reached out, silently asking for permission to touch her. At her nod, he laid a gentle hand on her belly but his eyes never left hers. “You were with me every day, Sassenach. Every moment we were apart and I lay helpless and trapped, you would appear to me and speak to me. I kent it was you, mo ghraidh. ”
She blinked rapidly and took a deep breath, “And are you still you, Jamie?” she whispered.
“I dinna ken yet, but...” his big hands spanned the evidence of their love, moving gently over her, barely touching. “I feel like me when I look at you.”
Two tears spilled over and ran down her cheeks, and his hands moved to cup her face, tracing the lines of her jaw. His eyes warmed as they stroked her hair, her nose, her mouth, and back to her eyes as if he was afraid they had changed in the moments between drinking them in.
“May I kiss ye, Claire?” he breathed.
It was a careful kiss. Their lips caught and held, his fingers slipped behind her head and anchored her mouth to his. There was no urgency, no fierce passion that had defined so much of their relationship thus far. This was safety and love and home.
Their lips broke apart, but he had stepped in and laid his forehead on hers.
“God, I love ye.” he whispered, stroking her curls and letting his fingers run down her spine. Claire couldn’t speak, but closed her eyes and breathed him in. He was her Jamie. Under the pain and uncertainty, it was still him. When he dipped to take her mouth again she wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed herself full length against him.
Jamie let out a startled yelp when his offspring pushed back against the pressure of their bodies. Then he knelt and fixed his attention on her stomach.
“ A Dhia, mo leanaban, ” he murmured, smoothing his hand over whatever appendage was pressing against her skin. “When?” he glanced up at her face, his own full of wonder.
“I think around when we were moving me into the apartment, when I was transitioning off the pill, do you remember?” she laid her hands on his head and let her fingers thread into his curls. God, she felt misty again just feeling the curve of his skull in her palm.
“Och, I meant when is she coming?” Jamie folded her shirt up with a look that asked permission and gauged her comfort level, and he laid a kiss on an unknown lump of babe, his fingers finding the silver marks that stretched her white skin.
“I’m due on December 28th,” she whispered. Tenderness welled up in her chest as Jamie’s lips touched every place his baby had marked her body. “Do you mind the scars, Jamie?”
She tried to catch the words as they left her mouth, but they hit him with a visible jolt and his eyes shut tight. For a moment he didn’t breathe, just rested his forehead against her stomach and tried to form a response.
“We both have scars now, mo chridhe. I wonder if ye will mind mine.”
Claire pulled him to his feet and led him up the stairs to his bedroom. When they got there she shut the door and leaned back against it.
“I want to see you,” she breathed out, her heart aching for him.
Jamie held her eyes as he pulled the shirt up and over his head, the tightness of his jaw was the only indication that he was in pain. She could see fresh white bandages secured to his skin. Claire pushed herself off the door and slowly walked around him, her hand trailing down his wrist and then up his side.
The only bandaged wound was the fresh one from the night of the raid, cut deeply across the top of his shoulder blades. But underneath that the scarring stretched down, newer scabbed lacerations on top of older healed ones, to disappear into the waistband of his jeans. She let her fingers trace the rivets and gashes, permanent reminders of…
Her throat seized up tight. God, it was all because of her. He never would have gone through all of this if it wasn’t for their relationship, and her ex-husband, and her fucking obsession with those damned videos.
“Is it too much, Claire?” Jamie asked, turning to her and searching her face. He seemed to brace himself as if he was waiting for a blow.
“No, Jamie. I’m just so sorry,” a sob escaped her and he clasped her upper arms to keep her steady. “It’s all my fault. I brought him into your life, and I sparked his hatred of you.” His grip on her tightened, “No. Claire, NO.” She was suddenly crushed to his chest, feeling the brush of curls under her cheek.
“Ye couldna ken the evil in that man, mo ghraidh. No one could. And I’d do it all again if it meant knowing he could never touch you or Fergus or any of the other wee lads and lassies he hurt. Do ye hear me, Claire? I’d do it again if that’s what it took.”
Claire cried in his arms and Jamie pulled them down to rest on the bed. His nose was buried in her hair and he whispered soothing words in Gaelic that she didn’t understand.
“I’m glad he’s dead.”
His chest rumbled beneath her, “As am I.” His hands moved up and down her back, stroking, touching, learning her shape and the lines of her body again. “I ken we have a sight of healing to do before truly being at peace,” he voice was low in her ear, “but this feels like heaven to me right now, holding you and the bairn. Not fearing the future.”
“It does,” she sighed contentedly.
They fell asleep right there, not waking up when the others came home from their walk or when the door opened three different times to see if they would come down for dinner. They didn’t see Fergus and Jenny at the door checking in before bed, or Ian standing silently and listening to them breathe in the middle of the night.
It wasn’t until Claire’s bladder woke her at 2am that they stirred. When she padded back in softly and slid into the bed next to him, Jamie wrapped her in his arms again to warm her chilled skin. She snuggled in close and then giggled sleepily when she felt his firmness against her hip.
“Jamie, you couldn’t possibly.”
“Aye, maybe no,” he smiled and nuzzled his nose under her ear. “But a lad can dream.”
mo leanaban : my babe
Jamie woke with a start. His senses were instantly alert and fear prickled down his spine.
But he was in his room, in his home. He could feel the solid weight of Claire under his arm heavy with sleep. There wasn’t any danger.
Get it together, lad. He took a measured breath and relaxed each muscle until he lay at ease once more. It wasn’t the body so much as it was the mind that proved hard to control, and he spent long minutes telling himself he was safe and home.
Jamie’s hand moved to rest on the bump between them. He hadn’t even considered the possibility of children for years yet. Emotions swirled in his mind and he closed his eyes trying to sort them out logically. Happy, yes. Of course. He loved Claire. He wanted this child. But he also felt apprehension clawing at the back of his mind. He felt something dark and dangerous coiled in his stomach. A hardness that hadn’t been there before.
Claire breathed in deeply and then settled again, her soft lips parting in sleep. He studied the curve of dark lashes against her cheek, trying to feel that sense of home and security they had captured the night before, but it eluded him.
His thoughts spiraled, stiffening his spine and seizing his lungs. His whole body felt poised and ready to defend against an attack, but he knew there wasn’t any danger.
He’s coming. Protect them.
Jamie slipped out of the bed, tucking blankets around Claire’s body to keep out the chill. Her hands were cupped under her cheek, and for a moment the sweetness of the picture warmed his whole body.
He walked slowly down the steps, skipping the seventh one that squeaked. It was a little past 5am. Normally the house didn’t stir till half six, but he smelled coffee coming from the kitchen.
“Morning,” Ian smiled at his brother in law, standing at the counter and sipping a steaming mug. “It’s good to see ye, bràthair .”
“Aye, it’s good to be home.” Jamie filled a mug and sat at the table. “Yer up early. Are ye headed in to work?”
“Nah,” Ian took a long sip and sighed. “I havena been sleeping well, so I gave it up and came down a bit ago. Dinna want to disturb Jen with my tossing.”
Jamie nodded in understanding. He studied the mug in front of him, feeling the heat seep into his hands and steady them. “I wanted to thank ye, for taking care of everyone when I could not.”
There was silence in the kitchen between them. Both men avoided each other’s eyes, and the words hung in the air like heavy fog.
“I dinna deserve yer thanks, Jamie,” his voice was low and regretful. “Truthfully, I was lost without ye here.”
Jamie frowned, his eyes slowly rising to seek his brother in law’s face.
“Jenny was probably the strongest out of all of us. She doesna fall apart under pressure, aye? But Claire and I were practically useless, I think we all were living and breathing for Fergus and the wee bairn.” The words flooded from his lips, and he pulled in a ragged breath.
“I need ye, Jamie. I didna realize how much til ye werena there.”
Jamie nodded, his eyes burning. “I ken what you mean, bràthair .” He swallowed thickly, remembering the despair and fear that had clung to him for months, that were still echoing in his mind. “I canna tell you how many times I wished for ye to be there, at my side like ye’ve always been in my life.” He swiped the moisture from his eye with the heel of his hand. “I talked to ye sometimes,” a chuckle escaped his throat unexpectedly, “I felt like a loon, but aye. When I couldna think of what ta do next, I’d find myself asking ye.”
Ian laughed outright, “And did I give ye any good advice?”
“Nah, yer advice is always shite.”
Both men grinned and Ian stepped over to sit down at a chair across the table. The silence that fell this time was companionable and easy. Ian started to speak, then stopped. He looked up at Jamie and started again hesitantly.
“How do ye feel this morning? What with all ye’ve been through, comin home to find yer to be a father, and… the business at the end with Randall. I’d expect ye’ve got a lot on yer mind.”
“Aye, it’s a lot to take in,” he chewed the inside of his lip, trying to think of how to express his mind. “The bairn… I am happy, ye ken? I’m no upset at all, it’s just… I feel like I’m drowning, trying to process everything that happened, trying to process being home, and then to suddenly ken there will be a wean so soon. I feel like I canna even think about it yet, like there’s no room in my head for joy or fear or anything else.”
Ian was nodding and Jamie could feel his mind clear and settle for the first time really since he woke up.
“I’m glad I killed Randall, but I’m also afraid of the man I became in that moment. I’m afraid that coming back to the life and the people I love, that I’ll always carry that darkness in me. And maybe I’m ruined now, maybe I’m no good for Claire, or Fergus, the bairn, or even you and Jen. I’ve killed a man.” His voice had started to shake, and he gripped the mug in front of him to keep his fingers from following suit.
“ Chan e, bràthair. No.” Ian held his eyes, steady and sure. “Ye are a man of honor, a man of worth. And ye did what was needed to protect yer family and those in yer care.”
Jamie held onto the words like a lifeline, trying to wrap them around all the doubt that clouded his heart. “Aye. Aye, I ken.”
Above them the floorboards creaked, and they both breathed a sigh and smiled wryly at each other. Ian stood and grabbed a pan from the hanging rack, setting it on the stove to heat. “What do ye plan to do wi’ yer day?” He glanced over his shoulder as he opened the refrigerator to collect eggs, cheese, onion and mushrooms for omelettes.
Jenny’s warm spicy scent came up behind Jamie and he felt her strong arms wrap around his shoulders. “I love you, brother,” she whispered as she kissed his cheek.
“I ken there are a dozen things I should do,” Jamie patted his sister’s hand and took a swig of his coffee and grimaced, finding it lukewarm. He stood to warm it up and leaned against the counter, holding out an arm for Jenny to stand with him. “But all I really want to do today is be here with my family. I want to eat yer good cooking,” he bent to kiss the top of her head, “and hear all about the wean, and discuss baby names.”
Jenny laughed, reaching to borrow his mug for a sip. “Ye’ll have a time of it. Claire shoots down every name we suggest.”
Soft footsteps above them announced that Claire was awake, and her low murmur sounded like Fergus was also up. Jamie felt a warm glow in his chest as they came down the steps and joined the family. Fergus sat at the table yawning, and Claire stood on tiptoe to kiss him then leaned against his other side. He wrapped his arms securely around the two women and sighed with content.
“Stealing all the love, I see,” Ian remarked from the stove.
“Aye. Making up for lost time.”
Chan e, bràthair : no, brother
Chapter 28: Anything, Sassenach
Claire groaned as she adjusted herself in the chair, twisting awkwardly so she could bend over enough to tie her sneakers.
They were headed over to her apartment, the one she hadn’t been in for months, to clean and air it out and make decisions. She was not looking forward to it.
Jamie walked in with his mouth full of the bagel he had toasted for breakfast and grunted in protest, “Nae, Sassenach,” he knelt at her feet, “let me do it for ye.” He handed her the other bagel half and made quick work of her laces.
“Let’s get this over with, shall we?” She pushed up to her feet and shifted uncomfortably. All of her joints and ligaments hurt, everything was stretching to accommodate the babe inside and she was starting to feel like her body had been abducted by aliens.
They strolled hand in hand down the busy residential street, admiring the cool fall morning and chatting about inconsequential things. They had been so long apart with so many heavy topics between them, it was a relief to ignore it all for a moment and talk about the weather.
“Are ye cold, mo nighean donn? ” Jamie wrapped his arm around her shoulders, tugging her into his side.
“No, I love this time of year. Everything is crisp and clean, chilly but warmed by the sun.” She turned her face up to its rays and closed her eyes against the glare, trusting him to guide her steps on the pavement.
“Ye look like a druid, turning yer face to worship the sun as it rises on Samhain.”
She laughed and glanced at him curiously, “Does that really happen anymore?”
“Aye, in the Highlands the old ways run deep. Ye’d make a bonny druid, wrapped in nothin but a bedsheet with yer curls wild round yer face.” He let his hand slide down her waist and slip into her back pocket. “I’d be tempted to take ye right there against the stones.”
“This sounds like a personal sexual fantasy, Mr. Fraser.” Claire was giggling as he squeezed her ass and leaned in to kiss her neck, breaking their stride.
“I’d be lying if I said we didna sneak up to Craigh Na Dun at dawn to see the ladies dancing a time or two, Ian and I.” He grinned at her and snagged her hand again, letting it swing between them as they climbed the steps and made their way up to her flat.
It smelled of dust and something left to rot in the garbage can, but they walked in together remembering the thrill of that moving day and the love they had shared here for such a short time.
“Nothing a wee scrub down can’t fix, aye?” Jamie set his lips on her temple and inhaled her familiar vanilla scent.
They worked together for the next half hour, wiping surfaces, changing sheets, running the laundry and dishwasher. Claire wouldn’t go into the kitchen until Jamie had taken out the trash, and he opened the refrigerator and tossed in practically everything, holding his breath till he got it in the dumpster outside.
Claire had all the windows open and the brisk autumn air was flowing through the apartment, leaving it smelling fresh with the lemon scent of her cleaning supplies.
When he walked into the living room he found her sprawled on the rug spread eagle. Her eyes were closed, curls a dark halo around her head, she was snoring softly.
Christ, she’s beautiful.
Jamie let his eyes roam over her face and trail down her body. He stretched out beside her, content to watch her sleep and lay his hands warm upon the child they made. He had been home several days but they hadn’t made love yet, what with her exhaustion and the number of people in the house. But now they were alone, and his gaze was trapped by the dip between her breasts and the soft skin swelling above her neckline.
When her amber eyes opened at last, he lifted a finger to stroke her cheek. “There ye are, lass.”
“I’m sorry. I fall asleep so easily now.”
“Nah, I’m sure ye need the rest. Growing a bairn is hard work.”
He leaned down to kiss her, lingering on her rosy lips and inhaling her breath. Claire whimpered softly when his mouth left hers, and the noise pulled him back in like a magnet. His movements were firm and sure, but gentle. His arm slid around and tucked her into his side as he leaned over her body.
Claire’s legs were restless, shifting, thighs rubbing together, and Jamie let his hand drift down her center and brushed his knuckles over her core through the thin leggings.
She arched up and cried out, surprising both of them. Jamie watched, fascinated as she grabbed his wrist and kept him there, rocking against the pressure as her eyes rolled up helplessly and her breath came in frantic gasps. It was only moments, then her body let go and she fell back. Her cheeks were flushed and she gave a breathless laugh.
“Fuck, I’m sorry. That was… I feel like a teenage boy creaming my pants before the sex even starts..”
Jamie was grinning and he chuckled when she tried to hide her face.
“Nae, c’mere Sassenach. That was hot. Give me yer mouth, mo ghraidh. ” He rolled over her, kissing her face, tilting his hips to let her feel how much he had enjoyed the wanton display. Her stomach pushed up between them, but he pulled the leggings down, groaning at the sight of the neon green thong she wore.
“ Dhia, you’re killing me, Claire.” Her shirt whipped off in one move and the lacy bra underneath cupped her breasts, nipples pressing through, dark beneath the thin lace. Jamie swallowed a curse, his hands roaming reverently down her curves.
Her hands were covering her face and her breasts heaved with each breath.
“God, Jamie. I’m going to come again and you aren’t even naked.”
His big fingers slipped into the straps of her thong and slid it down her smooth legs, then he rose and quickly shed his clothing before kneeling in front of her. “Aye, lass. Come fer me again.” He wrapped his hands around her thighs and anchored them to the floor as he licked her trembling sex and sucked when he hit her clitoris.
Her muffled scream made him smile, even as he strained to keep her clenching thighs flush against the rug.
“Jamie. Come here, come inside me, please.”
He hesitated, glancing up at her. “I dinna ken, should we? With the bairn? Would it not be best to wait?” He watched helplessly as she rolled toward him with considerable effort and pushed him onto his back, climbing to straddle him.
“That was about as graceful as a beached whale. If you still want to fuck me after that display, I can assure you it’s completely fine and the baby won’t notice a thing.”
“Anything, Sassenach. Whatever you wish. I’m yours to command.”
She gripped his cock and sunk down on it, her slick swollen lips stretching to accept him. Both of them held each other’s eyes and smiled as they recognized the sheen of moisture and emotion in the other. Then sensation rippled through Claire’s body and her hips rocked in a rhythm she couldn’t control.
Jamie struggled to keep his mind steady, to look at her and see her alone, feel every moment of this ecstasy and know it as love. His cock ached and throbbed as her inner muscles clenched around him.
He anchored his hands on her hips, holding her tight against him as he thrust up into her.
Only you, Claire, my love. Only you.
He didn’t close his eyes for a moment. Couldn’t bear to see anything but the reality of his love above him, her hands on her breast and their child, gasping and keening with pleasure. When his own climax hit he poured his soul into her, knowing she would keep it safe.
They lay together on the floor, holding each other’s faces. It was hard to tell when their gasps changed to sobs, but Jamie wrapped his arms around her and held her as they cried for everything they had missed, everything they had lost of each other. After a time they lay quiet, hands stroking in the easy silence.
“I ken you wanted to live alone for a time,” Jamie spoke softly, sliding down her wrist to take her hand.
“No, I don’t want to be alone anymore. Ever again.”
She shifted her head on his shoulder till she could kiss his jaw. “We can live here when the baby comes, but until then can we stay at the house with Ian and Jenny? I don’t know if I can bear to leave them yet.”
“Neither can I, Sassenach.” He yawned and sat up, rolling his shoulders and helping her rise with him. “In the meantime we need to start discussing this nursery.”
“Gender neutral?” She hadn’t the heart to find out the sex of thier child before, but it had come up several times in the past few days.
“I still say she’s a lass. I dinna ken, she seems like a lassie to me.”
“Many a parent has been proven wrong. Maybe we ought to just find out.” She smiled softly as his hands wandered over their child for the dozenth time that day.
“Alright then, wean. We’re through with surprises where ye are concerned.”
Claire laughed outright at that. “If only, Jamie. I’m sure the surprises have just begun.”
Chapter 29: Fergus & Faith
Jamie had been lying in bed, soaked with sweat and trying not to wake Claire with his shaking when he realized the whimpering he had heard in his dream was coming from the next room.
“ Fils? Est-ce que tu vas bien?”
“ Oui. I’m sorry to wake you, Milord.” Fergus was sitting up by his window when Jamie knocked at the door softly.
“Nah, lad. Dinna apologize to me.” He knelt by the boy’s feet and pushed the dark curls back from his forehead. “Do you want to come down for something to drink? I could use something warm before I try to sleep again.”
They tiptoed softly down the stairs to the kitchen where Jamie set a small pot of milk on the stove to heat. He caught Fergus’ eye and they both huffed a laugh as they remembered Claire’s attempt to make hot chocolate with water the week before and how she was banished to the living room in shame.
Neither spoke until they had settled onto the couch together hugging steaming mugs between their fingers.
“What do ye dream about, lad?”
“I dream that he knows where I am.” Fergus stared at the cup in his hand. “Sometimes I wake up and this life seems more like a dream than the one in my mind.”
Jamie took a sip before answering. His hands were steady now, but he could still feel the tremors that had gripped his body when he was shaken from sleep earlier.
“Aye, I do as well.” He swallowed hard, trying to think of what would ease the boy’s mind.
“Ye ken he is dead, Fergus? He is gone and he wilna hurt you or Claire or me ever again.”
“I know,” Fergus nodded, but there was a catch in his voice. Jamie watched him closely, the drink in his hands forgotten. “ Je ressens… I feel he has ruined me, Milord. That I cannot enjoy the good things now because I will forever be haunted by his ghost.”
Jamie swallowed the lump in his throat, realizing suddenly that he felt exactly the same way. The wind blew strongly outside, brushing a tree branch against the window pane and tinkling the chimes out on the porch.
“Fergus, lad.” He set aside their mugs and pulled the boy close to his side. “I dinna ken if we will ever stop seeing that man in our dreams, mon fils. But I ken this: we wilna let him ruin us.” He hugged Fergus strongly, feeling him start to shake with sobs. “We wilna let him take away our joy or our family or our future, do ye hear me, son?”
They sat together in the dim light, breathing heavily and wiping tears from their faces.
“Am I to be allowed to stay with you, then?”
It took a moment for Jamie to realize what he was asking, but then he pulled back enough to see the lad’s face. It was damp and miserable, unsure of his response.
“Lad, we love you,” he watched as the pale face broke again and leaked sorrow and relief. “Fergus, we dinna want ye to go anywhere. Claire and I want to adopt you if ye’ll have us.”
“Adopt moi ?”
“Aye. Now, ye’ve made me spoil her fun and we’ll have to act shocked when she asks ye for real this weekend.” He stopped again when the boy launched himself back into his chest and his narrow shoulders wrenched with his emotion.
“Och, lad. I didna realize ye were worried about it. We’d never send ye away.”
“I just thought, with you going through what you did, and a new baby to come, maybe it was too much to have me as well.”
Jamie held him close and spoke from his heart, “Fergus, the moment Claire saw ye she took you into her heart. And you’ve become a son to me. I would no sooner be parted from ye than from my own soul, do ye not know that?”
Hours later, Claire padded down the steps after waking with a full bladder and an empty bed. She found Jamie and Fergus curled on the couch together, two cold mugs of cocoa on the coffee table in front of them. Smiling and shaking her head, she pulled a throw blanket out and draped it over the sleeping pair.
“My loves,” her fingers rested on her lips, smiling at their peaceful faces. Then she went back up to bed.
It was the next week that Jamie sat inside a cozily furnished office meeting his new therapist. Dr. Hayes was grey around the temples with a beard of full silver. He wore golden rimmed glasses and tweed socks, and he made Jamie feel like anything he shared would be considered before being answered.
Jamie had been through four potential therapists before settling on this one. He wanted to find someone he connected with on a deeper level, and Dr. Hayes had felt right from the start.
“Tell me about your week, Jamie.” Dr. Hayes spoke kindly, “how much longer till you meet your little one?”
“Only four weeks.” He beamed like the proud father he was, relaying all of the facts he had committed to memory. “It’s a wee lass, she’s measuring perfect and she’s in the right position already.”
“Have you discussed names, or are you waiting?”
“Claire would like to name her Julia, after her Mam. I like it, but… when I think of the lass, or talk to her late at night when the house is asleep, I tend to call her Faith.”
Dr. Hayes tried the name out all together, “Faith Julia Fraser. That’s a beautiful name. What does Claire think?”
“I havena told her the name yet. Though I dinna ken why.” Jamie frowned, knowing this was something he needed to discuss.
“I think it feels like so much has been taken away from me, ken? And the name, Faith, it has become such a special thing, a private thing between myself and my daughter. I didna get to be there for her until now, and I am grieving that time lost I suppose.” He struggled to articulate what he feared, “If I share it with Claire and she hates it, I dinna ken if I have the strength to let it go. I feel a fool for being so fashed about a name, but that's the truth.”
The men sat in silence for a few moments, both thinking over what Jamie had revealed.
“Do you trust Claire?” Dr. Hayes finally asked.
Jamie responded firmly, “Aye, I do.”
“Then I believe you can trust her not to hurt you, Jamie. I believe you are safe with Claire to share your heart and know that she will not take more away from you.”
Tears burned behind his eyes and he blinked hard to contain them. It was true, he did trust Claire not to hurt him. It was only the months of torture and abuse that kept him clamming up, afraid to burden her with his struggles.
“Aye, Doctor.” He said at last. “I am safe with Claire. I ken that. Thank you.”
When he got home that evening he lay in their bed, holding her body as close to his own as their daughter would allow. Fergus’ snores came softly through the wall.
“So, you might hate it, Claire. But the name Faith to me is what I clung to all those months apart. It was my faith that we belonged together, and that I was strong enough to withstand whatever Randall put me through.”
His hands traced over the curves of her stomach, the bump where her belly button had popped.
“I ken ye were thinking of Julia. But I wonder if it would be alright to use it as a middle name instead.”
“Faith Julia Fraser.” She tried the syllables together, letting them roll on her tongue.
He bit his bottom lip, heart clenched. He should not be this attached to a name. It was only reasonable to be willing to compromise…
“It’s perfect.” Claire had tears in her eyes. “It’s the perfect name, Jamie. Nothing else felt quite right.”
Jamie leaned in and kissed her mouth, savoring her sweetness on his lips. “I love you, mo ghraidh. ” He bent down and brushed a kiss against his unborn daughter, “and I love you, a leannan. ”
Claire slid herself down into the bathtub, sighing with relief when the buoyancy of the water eased the strain on her joints. At 38 weeks she was round as a basketball and every part of her body was sore and awkward.
She felt fucking huge.
It had been a few months since Jamie returned and life went back to semi-normal, which meant living in a house with four adults and a preteen, most of them needing major therapy. Jamie and Fergus both attended therapy sessions twice a week and Claire had started going as well.
Frank had done a number on each of them.
No official plans had been made to move over to the apartment, but Jamie had been prepping it for weeks, not letting Claire come over because of paint fumes. That is where the entire household was at the moment. Claire was under strict instructions to relax for an hour and then Ian was coming to pick her up for the great reveal.
She didn’t care what it looked like, honestly. The girl who had wanted to experience some independence and live on her own just under a year ago was gone. Claire only wanted a place for their family of four to rest and be together.
Jenny and Ian has announced over the weekend that they too were expecting a bairn, and so the house was in a state of celebration. Yet, under the sincere happiness and love between each member of the family, there was still a darkness haunting each of them.
Fergus had nightmares almost nightly since he had been with them, but they were growing worse. Jamie often went to him and ended up sleeping beside his bed on the floor. Ian and Jenny had never quite climbed out of the fog of depression that they had lived in when Jamie was gone. Jenny confided in Claire that Ian had become obsessed with trafficking, how it happens and the statistics for their area of the country.
Jamie was quiet. He moved through life with a gratefulness and joy at each experience, but the spark of humor and light that had characterized him before was dull.
And Claire found herself terrified of the unknown dangers it seemed were lurking around every bend. Each time one of them left the house she was on edge and praying until they walked through the door again. No one had brought up her leave of absence, it was so close to the baby coming now that it wasn’t worth going back till after.
But Claire wondered if she could ever go back.
She wondered if any of them could.
Their little broken family clung together, waiting for time and therapy to heal their wounds.
She climbed out of the tub, reluctant to leave the buoyant heat but ready to have her people in her sight again. Ten minutes later she jumped in the heated cab of Ian’s Jeep for the short ride over to the apartment.
“Let me help ye there, Claire.” He took her elbow as she climbed the front steps. Jamie and Ian had agreed to shuttle the women everywhere, taking a comical joy in their joint impending fatherhood.
Claire expected to hear a bustle of feet and noises, but the apartment was silent. She stepped inside with Ian behind her, walking into the open living room. Jenny sat at the table and motioned with her chin toward the back bedroom they chose for Faith’s nursery.
“Go on then, he’s waiting to show ye.”
They shared a smile of gentle exasperation, and then Claire turned down the hall and opened the door.
The room was swathed in pale light, filtered from a gauzy curtain at the window. It was warm and cozy and beautiful and Claire couldn’t see any of it because in the center of the carpet both Jamie and Fergus were kneeling, each with a ring box in his hand.
“Claire,” Jamie was smiling so wide he could barely speak. He took a shuddering breath and tried again, “ Mo ghraidh, I fell in love wi’ ye outside the Fox’s Lair while ye told me about yer husband. And if that isn’t the worst first love story ever, I dinna ken what could possibly beat it.” They both laughed, tears in their eyes.
“Ye take my breath away, Sassenach. Everything ye do makes me fall in love with ye more, every day I’m blown away by what a brave, bonny wee thing ye are. And I want nothing more than to be by yer side for the rest of our lives.”
She thought he would ask her then, but he turned his head to glance down at Fergus.
“Milady, I… I had a plan of what to say,” he looked flustered, but Jamie slid an arm around his narrow shoulders in a show of support.
“I have never known a mother. I have only known what it is to be alone in this world.” Claire felt the tears start to overflow down her cheeks, and Jamie reached his other hand and pulled her close, kissing the Faith bump in reflex.
“Since you found me… since that very day, Milady. I have not been alone. Even when I was still afraid, I could bear it because of our family.”
He straightened up and offered his ring box up formally again, “I’d like to ask you to be my Maman, s'il vous plaît. ”
Jamie’s ring box came up beside, and his deep voice filled her heart. “And I’d like to ask ye to be my wife, Sassenach.”
“Yes,” Claire leaned down to kiss Fergus’ head and then met Jamie’s lips. “I love you both. Yes!”
Cheers and clapping from the doorway made them turn to see Ian and Jenny had been spying. After a group hug and many tears and congratulations, they ended up sitting on the big sectional in the living room eating takeout.
Claire looked around, taking in the faces and voices of her family. Her mind drifted back to when Frank had proposed, very traditionally in a fancy restaurant in front of strangers. They had shared the rest of their meal and gone back to his flat for a quiet evening where he had ended up watching a documentary and she fell asleep.
She had always felt so adrift, so alone in her own life, even in the best moments, that this feeling of being surrounded by people who belonged to her brought tears to her eyes again.
“What are ye thinking about, mo chridhe? ” Jamie whispered to her, brushing his lips against her cheek.
“Only that I love you all so much, it terrifies me.”
He took her two hands, kissing first Fergus’ gold ring on her right ring finger and then his own platinum ring on her left.
“Dinna be afraid,” his forehead rested on hers, “Ye aren’t alone in this, mo bhean. There are two of us now.”
“ Trois! ” Put in Fergus.
“Och, nay, there are four of us, aye?” Jamie’s hand settled on her stomach. “Actually six… seven!” He nodded to Ian and Jenny. “Seven of us now facing the world together, Sassenach. There’s nothing to fear.”
Mo bhean : my wife
Chapter 31: Orgasms Are Good For Labor
Everyone in the house was ready for Faith to make her appearance. The nursery had been done for weeks, the bassinet set up at the big house beside their bed, the hospital staff had thrown them a baby shower and Fergus had the time of his life as the official gift unwrapper.
Everyone was ready. But Jamie sat on the big sofa in the apartment and watched his fiancée pace around the living room and he could tell she was moving beyond ready. She was getting desperate.
“ Mo chridhe, come here. Can I rub your back?” He tried to coax her over to where he was lounging in sweatpants and nothing else, but she hadn’t even glanced at him when he came out of the bedroom shirtless.
Claire had been so restless the past week, her 41st week of pregnancy, that they decided to move over to the apartment just so she wouldn’t disturb anyone else. They had walked over after putting Fergus down to bed and promising him half a dozen times that he would be the first phone call if she went into labor.
“Sassenach,” he tried again, “I have sour patch kids.”
She stopped in her tracks and looked at him expectantly, then narrowed her eyes when she didn’t see the promised snack. Jamie crinkled the package in his pocket to prove their existence and smiled, crooking a finger at her.
“You are bribing me.” Claire came toward him, and he had to bite his lip not to smile at her heavily pregnant waddle.
“Aye, I’m not above it.” He reached to help her lower herself down to the cushion next to him. There was pain in her eyes every day now, and it killed him to know that he had put it there. She had been having Braxton Hicks contractions for days, coming in strong but fading away as soon as they thought for sure this was it.
Claire melted against the support of his chest, sighing as he eased some of the weight from her hips. “Okay, hand ‘em over.” She snapped her fingers.
Jamie chuckled as he produced the candy and handed her the whole bag. Her tastes had been running to sour lately. Pickles, vinegar on fries, sauerkraut… it made for interesting kisses, but he wasn’t complaining. He lay his hands over Faith, feeling her through Claire’s skin.
“ Ar bheannachd bheag, ” he breathed softly.
“What does that mean?”
Jamie laid a kiss behind her ear. “Our wee blessing.”
Claire snorted irreverently. “Our wee pain in the ass, more like.” She threw an apologetic smile over her shoulder. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t say that.”
“Nah, Sassenach. It’s true. She can be both.”
They sat comfortably in silence together, and Jamie closed his eyes, laying his forehead against her curls and feeling her smooth skin against his bare chest.
Ah, Dhia. Thank you for her. For them.
She squirmed to her side, as she often did trying to find a comfortable position, and he shifted to accommodate her body and belly. He smiled as the lines around her eyes eased. The candy was forgotten in her hand.
“I was reading an article today,” the hesitation in her voice made him frown and tighten his arms around her. “It was about ways to help get labor started.”
Her phone was on the coffee table and he traded her the candy bag for it so she didn’t have to shift now that she had found a comfy spot. She swiped it open and pulled up a browser, looking through several tabs of different articles on the subject.
“Here. There’s a whole list of things.” She tilted the screen toward him.
“What’s membrane stripping?”
“No, not that one. But read some others.”
“Spicy foods, Castor oil? Acupuncture…” he paused, reading the screen.
She nudged him with her elbow. “You can say it, that’s the one I was thinking too.”
“Well, yes. And sex, just plain sex is there as well, did you see?” She studied the phone again as if those list items would change under her gaze.
Jamie kept his eyes on her face. “I ken you’ve been sore the past few weeks, and I didna want to hurt ye, Sassenach.” She looked uncomfortable again, and he couldn’t tell if it was the conversation or her body.
“I had an idea about that.” Claire glanced up to meet his eyes. “Would you try something with me?”
Jamie felt his cock twitch at that and a smile grow on his face. “Claire, I’d try anything with you. Anytime, anywhere. Dinna be afraid to ask me if ye want to experiment, aye? I want every experience with you.”
He helped her rise from the couch and swallowed hard when she reached for his hand with a sexy rumpled glance over her shoulder. She led him to the master bathroom where there was a huge soaker tub, arguably the main reason she had chosen this apartment.
Her eyes were big and innocent as she let the shorts she was wearing drop to the floor and wiggled out of her panties. Jamie reached out to take the hem of her tank top and she raised her arms as he slowly slid it up her body and over her head.
She was still so small, even ready to burst with his child. Her skin was taut over the swell of her breasts and the baby, but smooth and white as satin. He pushed the sweatpants off and let his erection spring free, ready for whatever she had in mind.
Hot water spilled into the tub and Claire tipped in some of her special bath oil. The air in the bathroom filled with a spicy citrus scent that reminded Jamie of sunshine and summer. He moved closer and bent to kiss her bare shoulder, lifting his hands to cup her full breasts.
“I dinna ken how it works, Sassenach, but I’m willing to find out.”
He squeezed gently and she shuddered. Her breasts had been sensitive to the point of pain early in pregnancy, but now every touch seemed to overwhelm her with pleasure. Jamie let his thumbs brush over her nipples and watched with satisfaction as she broke out in goosebumps.
“Get in the tub,” her voice was breathy but demanding. He climbed into the hot water and sank down, holding her hands to steady her as she climbed in and straddled him.
The water seemed to ease her pain, and he began to see why she wanted to try this. Then she dipped her hands in and spread water and oil up her belly and over her breasts, the nipples already hard as cherry pits and flushed dusky rose.
“Will you…?” Her voice cut off in a groan as he reached to take over her task. The oil made her skin slick, and his fingers slid over it easily, brushing over her sensitive flesh in methodic strokes. Jamie bit his lip as her hips started to undulate unconsciously under the water. He let his eyes stroke up her neck and rest on her face, her brow was furrowed concentrating on the sensations overtaking her body.
“Orgasms are good for labor, ye said?” He grinned as she nodded rapidly without opening her eyes. “Alright, Sassenach. Hold on, aye?”
She gripped the sides of the tub as he lifted her higher up, leaned in and closed his mouth around her left breast, sucking gently and lapping his tongue over the hard tip. Her back arched and her fingers wove into his hair, pulling him tighter against her.
Jamie’s hands were full of her arse, holding her steady. She urged him on and he set a pace, pulling her into his mouth rhythmically, over and over stroking her with his tongue. With a soft cry she pulled him to her other breast, hips rocking against his hands. He slid his fingers down to find her labia swollen and slick.
He felt her body trembling on the edge of control and he slid his thumb over her clitoris and circled her nipple with his tongue, bracing her lower back as she jerked forward and came with a cry.
“Aye love, turn for me.” He helped her maneuver till she rested her back against his chest, then he slid her down, guiding his rigid cock into her body.
Claire sighed with content as his erection filled her up. The water and his body surrounded her, holding her securely.
“Mmm, I like this position.” She gently rotated her hips, taking more of him into herself. One of his big hands rested on her pubic bone and the other closed on her breast again. She reached down to feel the place where they joined, running her fingers over the flesh stretched to accommodate him.
Jamie stared a hole in the ceiling as she touched herself, feeling her inner muscles contract around him and ripple with pleasure. Her whole body tightened, clamping down on his cock and causing him to gasp.
“Oh,” Claire sounded surprised, “I think that was a contraction.”
“ Christ, Claire, should we stop?”
“No, no, no. Don’t stop now.” Her fingers slid down to cup his balls and Jamie groaned.
He flexed his hips, pushing up into her with short steady thrusts. The bath water began to ripple as she gently bounced up with each strike. He felt her fingers still stroking, rubbing against the base of his cock and up to her clitoris.
He bent his head down to her, panting in her ear, holding her tightly so she could relax against him. Her legs were spread wide, feet braced on the bottom of the tub. Another contraction hit and they both stopped, struck blind with the sensation.
“It doesn’t hurt,” Claire’s body pushed him into motion again when the tension eased. “It feels weirdly erotic? Just don’t stop, Jamie.”
He was still seeing stars, her contractions gripped his cock so hard it bordered on pain, but he was incapable of stopping now. On and on they moved with each other, his arm locked around her collarbone and the other hand spread over her pelvis, holding her in place while he pumped up into her pulsing center.
“Should we be timing these?”
“Shut up, shut up.”
Claire arched, everything in her concentrated on the pleasure sweeping up in waves from her core and tingling out to the tips of her breasts. Jamie felt her tighten around him again, her belly beneath his hand clenching and his vision blurred as he came deep inside her.
They lay together, shaking and laughing softly.
“Oh, god,” she moaned as another one hit.
“Fucking hell.” He pulled out of her before the contraction gripped him too. “Do ye think it worked, Sassenach?”
She didn’t speak, just lay in his arms wound tight against the force of nature ripping through her. When it passed she was limp against him. “Yeah, I think it worked.”
He helped her out of the tub and into her robe, pulling out dry clothes and grabbing the hospital bag. “I’ll call Fergus and Ian. Can ye get dressed? Are ye alright?”
“I’m good.” In between the contractions she seemed capable enough, so he hurried to make the phone calls and find his keys.
“Fergus? Wake the house! We’re going in!”
Chapter 32: I Did Something
Faith Julia Fraser emerged from the womb knowing how to get exactly what she wanted. She was her mother’s child from head to toe apart from the silky auburn hair that curled around her tiny head.
Jamie tried to argue that she had the Fraser temper until he found himself facing twin looks of disgust on the respective faces of his fiancée and daughter, and he had to concede that her disposition was Claire’s as well.
He and Fergus doted on “their girls” endlessly. The baby rarely touched the ground so often was she being held and cuddled by a member of the family.
When Faith was three months old they finally moved into the apartment, leaving Ian and Jenny to prepare Jamie’s old room to be a nursery for the newest Murray who would be arriving in July.
Claire sat in Faith’s room, rocking back and forth on the glider as her daughter finished a midnight snack. The room was lit dimly by a moon globe Fergus had made from paper mache and Jamie found the hardware for. The imitation moonlight was perfect for changes and feedings in the small hours of the morning.
She tucked the sleeping baby back in her crib and padded down the hall toward her bed. Jamie had been so deeply asleep when she left he hadn’t stirred at the cries from the monitor.
He was stirring now though. Claire’s heart lurched as she saw that he was having a nightmare and had curled in on himself, trembling and whimpering beneath the rumpled duvet.
“Jamie?” She called out softly. Waking him was difficult, and potentially dangerous so she didn’t try to touch him.
He rolled to his back with a panicked cry, “Mary! Oh god, Mary!”
Claire let the emotions swirl through her mind before she calmly acknowledged that they were all speculation. Then she walked to the bathroom for a cup of cold water and a washcloth and set about waking Jamie up.
It took twelve minutes but at last he was coherent, sitting up and breathing heavily with his head in his hands. She handed him a drink, which he drained and then set down on the bedside table.
“I’m sorry, Sassenach.”
Claire came to sit beside him, waiting for him to reach for her before she let her body relax into his. “Don’t apologize, Jamie. I love you.” They held each other quietly, pulling strength from the other’s presence.
Jamie looked surprised, then his brow furrowed in confusion. “Mary? What do ye mean?”
“In your dream you called out for Mary.”
“Oh, I didna realize.” He rubbed his face with his free hand and sighed. “Mary was one of the girls in the trafficking ring. She was older, probably 17 or so. She said she had been there since her 12th birthday.”
Claire shivered at the memory of what she had seen in her brushes with the ring. “What did you dream about, Jamie?”
“I dreamt they were hurting her and I couldna stop it. That was worse than what they did to me. The nights those wee bairns would go out and come back… damaged.”
He was crying again, and she wrapped her arms around his chest.
“I would tell them stories. I’d tell them about Lallybroch and my childhood, and I’d tell them about you. God, they loved to hear about ye, Sassenach.”
They sat together in the dark as he broke down and sobbed for the children he couldn’t save. He clutched her to his chest and told her about each one of them, everything he could remember about their stories.
“I told them that when we got out, if ye’d still have me, that I’d marry you in the courtyard at Lallybroch and they’d all be invited. I had forgotten that. And now I dinna ken where any of them are and I canna keep my promise, and… och, iffrin .” His shoulder slumped in defeat.
“There’s nothing to do about it tonight, love. Come to bed.” Claire tugged at his shoulders trying to get him to lay back down, but a cry from the monitor made her groan.
He leaned down to give her a kiss. “I couldna sleep right now anyway. I’ll sit up with the wean for a while.”
Three days later Claire waited for Jamie to get home from his therapy appointment eagerly. Her hands felt jittery and she paced back and forth to try to calm her nerves.
Of all the days for him to be late.
She had broken down and taken Ian into her confidence last night, and his enthusiastic support was the only reason she hadn’t backed out of this crazy idea entirely. He was going to tell Jenny this evening as well.
Keys in the door made Claire jump to her feet just as Jamie and Fergus walked in carrying pizza boxes and flowers.
“We made a wee stop, Sassenach.” Jamie smiled and kissed her lightly. He ruffled Fergus’ curls as he walked by with a slice of pizza already in his mouth.
Claire managed a distracted smile and followed him to the kitchen where he pulled down plates and handed her one. She choked down three bites in the time it took Jamie to eat his whole slice and Fergus to wander back into the kitchen for seconds.
“What’s on yer mind, mo ghraidh? ” He was eyeing her as he reached in the pizza box again, and Claire took a deep shuddering breath.
“I did something.”
Jamie cocked his head to the side, pizza forgotten. “What did ye do, Sassenach?”
She opened her mouth to tell him, but a shrill scream pierced the air and both of them rushed to the living room to see that Faith was awake in her playpen and evidently suffering some form of discomfort. Fergus dangled a toy above her face with no effect.
Jamie scooped her into his arms and held her upright against his chest patting her back while Claire and Fergus stood by anxious for her to be content again. Moments later a belch sounded and Jamie grinned until it was followed by a fountain of spit up down the front of his shirt.
Faith had to be changed and Jamie went to shower quickly, so it was that ten minutes later when Jenny came rushing through the door and hugged Claire for all she was worth, Jamie and Fergus were left staring in complete confusion as to what was going on.
“You dear sweet girl. I dinna ken how ye did it, but I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Ian stood behind them beaming but quickly realized that the excited atmosphere ended with himself and Jenny.
“What’s the matter?” He asked his brother-in-law.
“I dinna ken what’s going on. Claire said she had done something but then all hell broke loose here and she hasna told me what she did yet.”
Claire turned from Jenny’s embrace and stepped close, reaching to hold Jamie’s hands. All of the words she rehearsed had left her mind, so she blurted out her news before something else could possibly happen.
“I bought Lallybroch.”
Jamie was frozen in shock. His hands gripping hers tightly were the only reaction at first, but then his eyes widened and he stared between Claire and Jenny with his mouth gaping open.
“How? What? How?”
“It was mostly Frank’s life insurance money,” Claire explained, “I didn’t want it, and I was going to donate it somewhere, but the other night you were talking about those children and... “ she broke off helplessly and looked over to Ian.
“Aye, that’s the best part, bhràthair. ” Ian put his arm around his wife. “I’ve been talking to an old schoolmate of mine from back in Scotland who is doing a lot of work with victims of trafficking in the UK, and he said they’ve been looking for a good location for a recovery house. There are a few options right now, but none that are specific for minors.”
Fergus was trying to hide the fact that he was crying, but Claire pulled him close and kissed his head. Jamie was still reeling. “And ye didna tell me any of this?”
“I was afraid to get your hopes up, Jamie. I looked up the property and found out it was going to auction this week. I didn’t know if it was even possible, but the sale actually just went through this morning.”
“We’re going back to Lallybroch.” Jenny’s whole face was glowing with joy.
“And we can look for the children you were held with, when the house is established we can try to bring them there. It will take time, but… Jamie, are you happy?” Claire felt a pang of worry in her stomach again, like she should have talked to him before making such a big move. Of course she should have made sure he even wanted to return to Scotland. She opened her mouth to apologize.
“Claire, I have never been happier than I am right now in this moment.”
Jamie had collapsed into a stool at the kitchen island and shook his head in wonder. “When we left Scotland I thought I had failed and our family legacy would become another abandoned ruin on the Highlands. Then this past year I felt the same helplessness, that I couldna save you or the weans or stop Randall from hurting them. Even since being home, I feel like I've been drifting without direction.”
Claire came over to him, laying her hand on his shoulder. He reached up and captured her fingers in his own, bringing them to his lips.
“Everything I ever wanted, Claire, you have given to me. Not just Lallybroch, but… ye’ve made me a father to Fergus and Faith, ye’ve given me a purpose in life and a passion. And ye’ve given me the greatest love I’ve ever known.”
He pulled her into his chest, kissing her temple and wrapping her in his arms.
“Thank ye, Sassenach. Thank ye.”
“Aye, a leannan? What is it?” Jamie smiled down at his daughter dressed in the fluffiest of tutus with a flower crown adorning her copper hair.
“My dess so pitty! See me ‘pin!”
She twirled around and lost her balance, falling with a thump onto her diapered bum.
“Ye are the verra best at spinning, my wee chickie.” He laughed at her tiny pout and picked her up off the floor. “Now tell me how’d ye slip away from yer Mam again?”
Just then Fergus walked through the door, looking dashing in the Fraser tartan. “There you are, petite soeur! I have been looking for you everywhere! Partout, fauteur de troubles. ” He took Faith from his father’s arms and was gone again before Jamie could say anything.
He turned again to the mirror and straightened his kilt, brushing imaginary wrinkles out of the fabric. He wanted to look perfect today.
It had taken two years to renovate Lallybroch into a recovery facility for minor victims of sex trafficking, but they finally opened the doors last month to their first guests. The main house remained their family home with both the Fraser and Murray families living together, but the addition had doubled the square footage and made room for 12 guests and 4 live in staff.
They updated the outbuildings and were working with a therapeutic horseback riding organization to provide lessons and therapy sessions. Claire took over the garden, creating raised beds for each of their guests to cultivate and grow if they chose. She loved to spend afternoons in the garden, basking in the warm sun and helping the children tend the plants.
Jenny resided over the kitchen and became house mother to the whole brood, related to her by blood or not. Jamie and Ian had begun organizing training for area hospitals, businesses, and hotels on how to recognize trafficking and report it properly.
They worked with the FBI to find all of the children he had been held with in the trafficking ring, and six of them were able to be transferred as the first guests at Lallybroch. He smiled at the memory of meeting them and welcoming them into their new home with hugs and tears.
And today the stories he had told them on those long nights would finally be reality.
He snuck a peek out the window and smiled at the sight below. White chairs were placed in rows up the courtyard with an aisle formed between them that came from the front door of the house to the arch in the stone wall. They had invited less than 100 guests, most of whom were already here and seated waiting for the ceremony to begin.
There was a knock at the door and Jamie turned to see Ian and Fergus grinning at him.
“Are ye ready, bhràthair? ”
“Aye,” the smile had not left Jamie’s face all day. “Is it time then?”
“ Oui , Papa. Let us go!”
Ten minutes later Jamie stood at the stone arch in the courtyard with one hundred pairs of eyes trained on him. He laid his hands on Fergus’ shoulders in front of him, squeezing in reassurance. Ian and John stood at his side.
The doors of the big house opened and everyone froze as Mary Hawkins strode out dressed in pale pink. Her cheeks bloomed rosy and the smile on her face was pure joy. It warmed Jamie’s heart to see her so healthy and strong.
Next came Jenny, in a dress designed to accommodate her 5 month belly swollen with twins. Jamie heard Ian chuckle behind him and smiled as his sister shot him a glare and took her place on the other side of the arch.
A chorus of awwws and sighs filled the air when Faith appeared with her hand secured strongly around her cousin JJ’s pudgy fingers. The little boy followed her obediently holding the ring pillow at a slant that made Jamie silently thank Jenny for knowing they needed to baste the rings on.
When they got to the head of the aisle, JJ ran to his Mum and Faith made a beeline for Fergus. She tipped her shining face up to get a kiss from her father and then whispered loudly enough for the whole courtyard to hear.
“Mama is so pitty, Da! You see her!”
Just then he did see her. Claire appeared in the doorway of his childhood home bathed in the morning sunlight and wrapped in white lace. Jamie blinked back tears, not wanting to miss one moment as she stepped toward him.
She smiled as she approached, reaching out to hand her bouquet to Jenny and then catching Faith as she tumbled out of Fergus’ arms toward her.
“See Da! Isna she pitty?”
“Aye, chick. She is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
Jamie wrapped his arm around her shoulder and leaned down to rest his forehead on hers, letting his tears fall. Fergus was under his other arm and Faith clung to her Mama’s hip. Between them all, the small bump where the newest member of the Fraser family grew hid under Claire’s flowing gown.
After a moment to collect themselves, Jamie pulled back and the ceremony began.
“Well now, Mrs. Fraser,” Claire’s new husband growled softly in her ear. “Finally I have ye alone.”
A giggle bubbled up inside her and she squirmed as his rough stubble scraped her neck.
“And do you have something in mind for me, Mr. Fraser?”
“Oh, aye,” he breathed as his teeth closed gently on her neck. “I have thought of little else since ye left my bed yesterday morning.”
Claire shivered as she felt her husband’s hands begin to unlace her wedding dress. His lips followed his fingers, kissing each inch of skin as it was exposed. The dress finally loosened enough to slip from her breasts, but it caught on the little baby bump it had been hiding.
“Och, what have we here?” Jamie’s voice held a smile and he turned his wife toward him. “It seems we arena quite alone, mo ghraidh. ”
He pulled the dress down and it puddled at her feet, then he picked her up, holding her close to his chest and brought her to the king sized bed in their honeymoon suite.
Claire lay back, propped up on her elbows and observed her husband as he took in the full effect of her wedding lingerie.
The pure white lace stockings sheathed her legs to the top of the thigh, allowing glimpses of soft golden skin beneath the intricate rose pattern. Each stocking was secured with a satin strap to the garter belt designed to accentuate her pregnancy. She wore a strappy thong with a bit of the same lace covering her from his view.
Her belly was bare; the evidence of his child within her still just a gentle curve, not yet adding to the silvery web of marks that Faith had left behind.
Jamie’s eyes devoured her from the tips of her lace covered toes and slowly up her body to rest on the life he had planted there.
She smiled coyly as his fingers fumbled with the belt at his waist and the Fraser kilt hit the ground with a thump. His shirt was off in the next three seconds.
“Mr. Fraser, I seem to be having a startling effect on you.”
“ A Dhia, mo chridhe. What have ye done?”
He knelt in front of her, parting her thighs and reverently bending down first to kiss and caress his unborn child. Claire felt pulses of electricity shooting through her nerves at his touch. Her head dropped back helplessly as his mouth worked lower.
“Did ye forget our vows already, mo nighean donn ?” He chuckled against her sensitive folds slick under their lacy covering. “With my body I thee worship, was it no?”
The big fingers unclasped the delicate straps and slid her garter belt and thong off together, leaving her pussy bare to his attention. Bare in more ways than one, as his perceptive eyes had seen at once.
“Sassenach,” he laid a kiss on the smooth petals of her core, then parted them with his calloused fingers and licked her from bottom to top, making her gasp and arch into his mouth.
“I am in awe of you, mo bhean. ”
“For my waxing skills?”
Again that chuckle vibrated against her swollen flesh and made her shake so he wrapped his hands around her thighs to steady her.
“For yer courage, yer spirit, the way ye love an’ care for me and the bairns.” He punctuated each compliment with a kiss and grinned as she writhed under his mouth. “That ye’d take such care on yer wedding night for a man you’ve been married to for years.”
It was true, in a way. They had been handfast back in Boston when it was clear the dream wedding at Lallybroch would not be a reality for a few years while renovations took place. This ceremony was mainly for Jamie’s little clan who had gathered from all over the world to fulfill a dream they all held onto in their darkest moments.
Claire smiled at the memory and then her mind was blown blank as her husband slid two fingers deep inside her and curled them, rubbing her flesh between his tongue and hand. She lifted her legs over his shoulders, cradling his head between her thighs and burying her fingers in his curls.
The ache deep in her womb intensified, building her higher and higher until it was only Jamie’s strong arms keeping her body secured to the bed. She let go with a loud moan, her body vibrating with release.
When her legs finally released her husband he rolled to the side with a grunt of contentment.
“You know, that was one of my first fantasies of you.” Claire whispered to him, stroking the hair from his brow.
“Oh, aye?” He opened his eyes long enough to glance up at her and grin. “Was that back when ye kept folders of my sex tapes on yer phone?”
“Ugh, nevermind. Too soon.” She covered her face with her hands and groaned as her husband laughed.
“Nah, Sassenach. Dinna hide from me.” He rolled on top of her and pinned her wrists above her head, carefully keeping his weight from her abdomen. “I thank God for it. If I hadna gone through that time in my life we never would have met. Did ye ken that?”
He leaned down to kiss her, trailing his lips down her neck to her breasts, pushed up toward him in lacy white cups with a rosebud over each nipple.
“I aim to be the only man ye lust after for the rest of yer life. And if ye need a few videos to tide ye over when I canna be in yer bed, let’s just say I know my way around a camera.”
Claire was flushed pink, which delighted her husband to no end. He used his mouth and hand and cock to worship his wife’s body until they both were satiated and drifted to sleep, safe in each other’s arms.
Thank you all for coming along with me on this wild ride of a first fic. Your comments and kudos made this so fun, and I can't wait to write with you more!