"Sassenach," Jamie called from the front entrance of their house. "Are ye home?"
"In the kitchen," Claire called back. She was busily chopping up peppers and onions to cook along with the sweet sausages she'd bought for dinner.
"Yer no' burnin' the place down, are ye?"
"Ha, ha," she replied. "Get in here and help me if you're so worried."
He appeared in the doorway of their tiny kitchen then, his tie loosened, shirt untucked. "Ye look beautiful," he told her.
Claire looked down at her old sweatshirt and leggings and rolled her eyes at him. "I could be wearing actual garbage and you would tell me I look beautiful."
He crossed the room to her and wrapped his arms around her from behind. "If a man canna appreciate his wife's beauty no matter what she's wearing, then he doesna deserve her." He kissed her cheek and rocked her body back and forth.
"Mmmmm," Claire replied. "Where's John?"
"Ye sure ken how tae get a man in the mood, Sassenach."
She put the knife down, laughing and turning around to put her arms around Jamie's neck. "I was just wondering if we were alone, but if I've killed the mood, I can just finish up dinner."
She started to turn around again, but he held her firmly in place. "John is workin' late and then he's going out fer drinks with some of the lads. He willna be home until verra late."
"Sounds like I know what our plans are tonight," she replied, kissing him softly, a promise for later.
“Aye,” he answered, “How long until dinner’s ready? Do I have time tae shower?”
“If you make it a quick one,” Claire told him, slapping his bottom as he scooted away.
“What are we havin’ tonight anyway, Sassenach?” Jamie called over his shoulder as he walked toward the stairs.
“Sausage and peppers,” she called back.
He circled back and peeked his head in the kitchen, giving her a wicked smile. “I meant what are we havin’ for dinner, no’ what are ye havin’ later.”
Claire laughed and threw a dish towel at him as he scooted back toward the stairs.
Jamie sat back in his chair and patted his stomach. “I have tae say, Sassenach, married life suits ye. I didna even worry I was being poisoned once that whole meal.”
“Ha bloody ha. You should feel lucky that I even cooked. It was a long week."
"I ken. Let me take care of the cleaning up while ye relax, mo nighean donn." Jamie stood and started clearing the table. He planted a kiss on the top of Claire's head on his way to the kitchen.
"I think I'll go take a shower." Claire stood and walked to the stairs, eager to shed her clothes and wash away the week.
She'd worried, perhaps as all new spouses did, that settling in as a married couple would smother the heat in their relationship. But her stomach still got butterflies when she saw him at the end of a long day, and her body still yearned for his touch when he wasn't there. Just the thought of them having the night to be together, just the two of them, sent a shock of need and pleasure through her body.
She stepped into the hot shower and scrubbed her body with a scratchy loofah, enjoying the tingling sensation on her skin. She'd almost finished washing when the bathroom door opened. Peeking out from the curtain, she saw Jamie standing in the bathroom, stripping down.
"I thought you already showered," she teased.
"Aye, but I thought ye might need some help." His lips curled in one corner and his blue eyes were full of mischief. "May I join ye?"
She opened the curtain wider in invitation and he stepped in. "Oh, Christ ye're so beautiful, Sassenach," he said hoarsely. "I dinna think I'll ever tire of the sight of ye." He pulled her in at the small of her back so that every inch of their bodies touched.
"I need help washing my hair," she whispered, knowing how much he enjoyed running his fingers through her wet curls and massaging her scalp.
"Turn around then, Sassenach," he said as he positioned her body facing away from the flowing water. Seconds later his hands were in her hair rubbing and kneading as his erection brushed against her.
A chill ran down Claire's spine and she moaned as his fingers worked their way through her curls. He leaned forward and pressed himself against her, whispering Gaelic in her ear. The only way she could respond to the poetry he created was to whisper back, "I love you."
She stepped into the water to rinse her hair and then pulled Jamie's head forward and kissed him hard, their lips pressing into their teeth until they finally gave way for their tongues to meet. Jamie reached around and grabbed a handful of Claire's bottom, growling into her mouth, "Ye''ve got the roundest arse I've ever seen."
Jamie spun Claire around and she put her hands against the wall. He gripped her around the waist and slowly slid inside her. Claire shuddered as he entered her, the angle hitting just right. "Yes, Jamie," she moaned as he thrust into her over and over again, holding onto her firmly so she wouldn't slip.
Between the hot water and the constant barrage against the most sensitive spot inside of her, Claire felt like she was floating. She knew she could trust Jamie to keep her standing even as her legs began to tremble. He slipped one hand down and rubbed between her legs. She pressed her forehead against the wall as she reached her climax; everything went black for several seconds.
When she opened her eyes her back was pressed against Jamie's chest as he spilled his seed inside her. The throbbing of his cock caused her body to quake with aftershocks as her own orgasm faded. Jamie's arms were across her chest and he stroked her breasts tenderly.
Yup, we still got it, Claire thought as Jamie dried her off and carried her to bed. He tossed her one of his t-shirts to put on. They were super comfy for sleeping in and also turned Jamie on when he saw her wearing it.
Once she was settled in, Jamie took a wide toothed comb and gently worked his way through her tangled curls. A feeling of pure bliss flushed through her body. It was these intimate moments that reminded Claire how lucky she was to have found her soulmate, and she thanked the universe for whatever force had thrown them together at that concert two years before.
Two years could be a lifetime, she realized. Two years ago, their relationship was new. She was living in a small apartment in New York City while Jamie was still in a cramped dorm room on Long Island, trekking his way to her place every weekend.
Now, everything was different. They owned their own home in a quaint gated-community, thanks to a generous gift from her father in law, Brian. Jamie had a job that used his talents and continued to challenge him. Claire was in her second year of med school, at the top of her class.
So much had changed around them, and yet they were still the same. Sure, Jamie wore his hair a little shorter and had traded his concert t-shirts and flannel for a shirt and tie. Claire had learned to cook and spent less time lounging around and more time studying. But they were still the same, and their love continued to grow stronger as they found new ways to express their feelings within their new life.
Jamie finished with her hair and put the comb down. "Do ye want to go downstairs?" he asked. "It's still early."
"No. Let's just stay up here and watch TV together," she answered. He picked up the remote and turned on the TV that sat on their dresser, tuning to TGIF. The block of sitcoms had become another part of their routine, especially at the end of a tiring week. Jamie opened his arms and Claire sunk into him. His chest rumbled under her head as he laughed at the ridiculous antics of Steve Urkel.
When the shows were over, Jamie rolled on top of Claire and they made love again, slowly and gently. There was no rush or urgency; they had all the time in the world to pour their hearts into each other. When they were finished they fell asleep curled around one another, always seeking the physical closeness that confirmed their connected souls.
The next morning, Claire woke to the smell of bacon frying. She smiled to herself; It had become a Saturday tradition for Jamie to get up and cook breakfast while Claire slept in. Her stomach growling, she headed downstairs. She walked into the kitchen and smiled warmly at Jamie. “Smells good, as always. Is the coffee ready?”
Jamie put down the spatula he’d been wielding and quickly poured her a mug of coffee. Claire gave him a quick kiss before sitting down at the island. She looked around, admiring their cozy kitchen. They’d spent weeks painstakingly refinishing the cabinets, regrouting the tile floor, and selecting the perfect seating for the light and airy room. She was so proud of the little home they'd put together.
Jamie placed a plate in front of Claire and sat down next to her. They ate together in comfortable silence. When they were finished, Claire cleared the plates away and started straightening up the kitchen.
She was leaning over the sink when Jamie took his opportunity and sneaked up behind her, pressing himself against her and grabbing at the hem of her shirt. "When ye wear my t-shirts and prance around the kitchen in them, ye make me want tae do the most unspeakable things to ye." His fingers were pushing her panties aside when they heard the lock click in the front door.
Claire hastily pushed the t-shirt back down and Jamie busied himself transporting the frying pan to the sink. John walked through the door, looking a little worse for the wear, and slumped down at the island. Claire quickly poured him a mug of coffee and slid it across the surface to him. "Did you have a good night?" she teased.
John groaned and nodded. He took eager gulps of the coffee before answering. "I had a blast, actually. Too bad I'm paying for it now."
Claire slid onto one of the stools and waited for John to tell her all about his adventures. Though she and Jamie had settled into old married couple life easily, she still liked to live vicariously through John's very active social life. "Where did you stay?" she asked, raising an eyebrow at him. Jamie was finishing clean up duty but she noticed he was being a little quieter with the dishes so he could overhear.
John tried to hide his smile but it was plain on his face. "I met someone last night."
Claire rolled her eyes. "Well that's not really a surprise, John. You've met a lot of ‘someones’ in the last year or so." Once John had settled into their new life, he'd come out of his shell and really started to live a little. It certainly wasn't the first time he hadn't come home from a night out until the next day.
"I think this is different," John said.
Claire gave him a curious look. "Well does this someone have a name?" Jamie asked; he had finished cleaning up and leaned on the counter next to her.
"Hector," John replied, smiling as he said the name out loud. "I've seen him out a few times but last night we just connected. I can't explain it."
Claire and Jamie gave each other a knowing look and Jamie looped his arm around Claire's shoulder. John rolled his eyes at them. "Not every love story can measure up to the Frasers, but I think there might be something there."
"I'm really happy for you, John," Claire told him. "When are you seeing him again?"
"Tonight!" John said, standing up "So it's time for me to get some sleep." He walked toward the stairs and then turned around. "I almost forgot to ask, what do you think of Jamie’s good news?"
"Good news?" Claire asked. She glanced at Jamie, whose entire face was turning beet red. "What good news?"
John's smile quickly turned into a grimace. "Oh shit, he didn't tell you yet...I...um...OK bye." He ran up the stairs leaving Claire facing Jamie with a confused look on her face.
"What's he talking about? What happened?" Claire asked.
Jamie rubbed his hand over his face and sighed. "It isna a big deal, Sassenach."
"What isn't a big deal?"
"They offered to send me to a special training program, to be a Language Officer."
"Jamie, that's amazing news! Why didn't you tell me?" She wrapped her arms around him but he didn't return her embrace.
"I'm no' going tae do it, Sassenach."
She pushed away from him and searched his face for a hint at what was going on but he had gone stoic. "Why not? I don't understand."
“I dinna want tae,” he answered, raising his voice. “Just drop it.” He turned away from her and walked away, grumbling, “I have tae go take care of some stuff in the garage.”
Jamie didn’t have anything to do in the garage, but he needed to get out of the house and think. He unfolded a vinyl lawn chair that was much too small for him and sat down, closing his eyes. The fingers of his left hand tapped nervously on his thigh. Dammit John, why did ye have tae say anything?
It wasn’t fair to John to be mad at him, though. Jamie hadn’t had a chance to talk to him before he’d left on Friday, so there was no way he would have known that Jamie was going to turn down the offer. Now Claire was going to demand to know why he was going to turn it down, and the whole situation was likely to turn into an argument, He hated arguing with Claire. She always cried when she was angry, and it broke his heart in pieces to see tears on his wife’s face.
He stood and paced along the concrete floor, trying to figure out a way to extricate himself from the situation. He could tell Claire that he just wasn’t interested in the training program, but that would be a lie, and he had sworn to Claire when they first met that he would never lie to her. He would be in enough hot water for what he had already said to her; it wouldn’t do to dig himself any deeper. But how could he explain it to her?
He did want to do the training program. It would be challenging and exciting. It was an honor to be picked for the training program at such a young age, and so early in his career. Most of the others that were chosen this round had been with the CIA for at least five years. The career opportunities that would be available to him if he succeeded in the training program would be incredible. If successful, he would go on to become a Language Officer, helping with important missions, perhaps even traveling to foreign countries to assist with covert operations. Was that type of work not secretly every man's dream? Who hadn't grown up playing spies?
He had never truly been excited about work until now. Apart from farming, which was more of a lifestyle than a career, he'd always viewed work as a necessary evil, something to get through every day in order to provide for your family. Since he'd started at the CIA, though, he realized that work could be fulfilling. He was challenged every day, and it tapped directly into the parts of his brain that he loved to exercise. And to be able to train as an officer, that was just taking everything to the next level.
But he had Claire to think about; she was his first priority, always. And the training program would mean being away from her for six months. How could he do that? He hadn't been away from Claire more than five days in a row since he'd first laid eyes on her. And since they'd graduated, they had fallen asleep tangled up with each other every single night. Not only did he feel an obligation, one he was happy to have, to be there for her every day, but he also wondered if his own body could survive that long without her touch.
And he knew she would tell him to go. Claire didn't have a selfish bone in her body. There would be no way to hide from her that he wanted to do this, she knew him all too well. And then she would be excited for him and tell him he had to do it.
A knock on the side door jolted Jamie out of his reverie. He peered out the window on the door and saw his neighbor, Tom Christie. Sighing, he motioned for the man to enter.
Tom was a widower who lived next door with his teenage children, Malva and Allan. When the Frasers had moved in, the whole Christie family had been like the neighborhood welcome wagon. Malva had brought them platters of baked goods and ready-to-cook casseroles that fed them for a week while they unburied themselves from the endless piles of boxes and the never ending task of putting furniture together. Tom had held a barbecue for them, inviting everyone on the block, and Allan had kept their lawn mowed until the cold weather set in, deeming the task unnecessary.
After the initial friendliness had worn off, though, both Claire and Jamie had started to see Tom's true personality. He was constantly sticking his nose where it didn't belong, asking intrusive questions or offering unsolicited advice on anything from keeping their hedges properly trimmed to how Claire could improve upon her lasagna. He also seemed to hang around much too closely to Claire and tended to "drop by" whenever Jamie happened to be out running errands or working late.
Malva was a nice enough girl, but they both found it odd that a teenager would spend so much time cooking and cleaning instead of just being a kid. On the weekends she seemed to prefer the company of Claire over going to the movies or school dances. And Allan, quite frankly, creeped both of them out. They'd lived in the neighborhood for four months and Jamie had barely heard the kid utter five words. He dressed in all black with his dark hair hanging in his eyes, and he sat off to the side during social events, staring at everybody without ever joining in on the conversation.
Tom entered the garage and went immediately to the small fridge. Come on in, Tom. Make yourself at home. "Oh, is it noon already?" Jamie asked as Tom cracked open a beer.
"It's noon somewhere, Jamie!" he proclaimed.
"What can I do fer ye, Tom?" Jamie asked impatiently. He needed to get back inside and talk to Claire.
"Oh, nothing," Tom replied, "I saw you head out to the garage so I figured I'd join you for a brewski."
"Well that's real nice of ye tae...uh...keep an eye out fer me, Tom, but I actually have tae get back in and speak with Claire." He started to walk toward the door, holding Tom's arm leading him in the same direction. "Why don't ye take yer beer tae go, aye?"
"How is Claire?" Tom asked. "I feel like I haven't seen her in ages."
Jamie nudged Tom through the doorway. "Ye dropped in on her just a few days ago." He headed for the house with his back to Tom. "Goodbye, Tom," he called as he walked into the back door.
He found Claire sitting on the couch working on a crossword puzzle. Carefully, he sat down on the couch and slipped his head under her arm. When she didn't look up at him, he nuzzled her neck with his nose.
"Are you a puppy or my husband," Claire murmured, never taking her eyes off the paper in front of her.
"Claire," Jamie said quietly, "Do ye want tae talk about it?"
Claire put the paper down and looked at him. "I'm fairly certain it wasn't me that didn't want to talk about it."
Jamie slipped his arms around her waist and leaned his on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, mo nighean donn. I'm ready now." He felt her body relax underneath him.
"Alright then. Talk."
He told her about the training program, what an amazing opportunity it was, and the career paths it would open for him. Then he told her about the six months of training, the possible foreign missions in the future. "I dinna ken how I can do it, Claire. I canna be away from ye for that long. I need ye, mo ghraidh."
Claire put her hands on Jamie’s cheeks and lifted his head up. "You really want this, don't you?"
"Aye," he replied, "Except the part about being separated from ye."
"Jamie, our love is strong enough to survive six months apart. It's going to suck, but it will be worth it. I want you to be fulfilled with your work."
"But who will take care of ye, Claire?"
She threw her head back and laughed. "I managed to survive twenty two years without you. I think I can manage six months. Besides, I can cook now, and I have John." She stifled a giggle, "And I'm sure Tom Christie will be happy to keep an eye on me."
Jamie growled and pounced on Claire, pinning her to the couch. "Ye'll pay for that, ye wee besom." He attacked her neck and chest, kissing, sucking, and biting.
"What are you doing?" Claire laughed.
Jamie looked up and gave her a wicked grin. "I'm marking ye so people ken yer mine while I'm gone."
She laughed harder and pulled his head up by the curls. "Would you like me to get your name tattooed on my ass?"
"Aye perhaps." He flipped her over and tugged at the waist of her pants. "Property of James Fraser, right here." He gave her a swift swat and she squealed with delight.
She wiggled her way back around so she was on her back under him again and pulled his head down, kissing him softly. "I love you, Jamie. I'll always love you. And six months is nothing compared to an entire lifetime."
"Ye truly are the greatest wife a man could ever ask fer." He flipped them around one more time, so that she was laying on top of him.
She cuddled into him and kissed him on the cheek, settling her head on his chest. He stroked her hair and felt her steady breathing, and thanked God for the mosh pit that brought them together.