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claire's pov.


What the hell was that?

I hate myself for what just happened, for what I allowed to happen.

His sister hates me too. Thinks me the spawn of the devil himself. That I dwell in the depths of fiery pits of hell, and by the volume of her declarations, she wants the whole world to know it.

Jamie’s not backing down. His stoic defence and praise of me make me feel even worse.

God, I am so ashamed.

But at the same time, I am completely addicted.

Jamie is my new drug. I want that rush. I want to feel that way every minute of every day for the rest of my life.

But that's not the only issue I'm facing right now.

My car is right in front of me but it seems I have forgotten how to walk.


I’m barely able to feel the ground beneath my feet. I must look as graceful as a hog on ice and I don't think I can make it. It's just too hard.

God, if he’s watching me now, I will die.

For fuck’s sake, Beauchamp, don’t look back.

Thankfully, muscle memory kicks in, reminding me I know how to do this. It's easy, idiot, just one foot in front of the other.

This, walking, seems to be one of the few things I know with any degree of certainty.

That's it.

Walking. Oh, and knowing. Knowing that my path forward is going to be complicated and messy as fuck.

So why does it thrill me so much?

As my arse sinks into the worn-out velour seat of my embarrassingly old Honda, I sigh and a single tear runs down my still flushed cheek.

I close my eyes and see him, see it; the moment an obsession was born.

Eyes of pure heart fluttering, burning straight into mine as I brushed the hair from his face. Within the twinkle of blue, I wanted him, felt guilty just breathing the same air as him, never wanted to be apart from him.

I knew it was coming. 

The minute he looked up at me after fainting, I knew I was in trouble. 

And here I am. Balls deep.

Why is he everything?

How can I feel so much so quickly, and so intensely?

The touch of his hand behind my knee left me wanting. The feel of his hair between my fingers, how he let me control him, dictate his position, had me picturing me guiding him between my legs.

God, the thought of it now has me clenching my thighs together and gripping the wheel so hard I think I’ll snap it in two.

Never, ever, have I burned for someone like that.

As I drive away from him, my ache increases. I need release and it can't wait. Even with my eyes open, concentrating on the road, I see his ripped, carved by the God’s bare chest before me.

Urges to do bad, bad things are building in me again.

One nanosecond and the grace of God stopped me from straddling him and biting into his hard, chisel pecs; but I am alone now, no one can see me, I am free to let my mind explore.

My left hand grips the wheel tighter but my right disappears inside the slippery lycra of my pants and glides between my soaking wet folds. Moans slip from my mouth as I think of him watching me and I wonder what he would say if he could see me right now.

Two fingers work around my most sensitive spot and I sigh as I think of my breasts pressed into him and the noise he made when I blew the loose hair from his neck. If only he knew there was no need for me to do that. I really just wanted to tease him.

Then I remember the cheeky bastard looking straight down my top and the wry little smirk on his lips as he wondered if I noticed. I wonder if he noticed the smirk on mine when I saw his hardness straining against his sweats. I imagine what it would feel like to grip him within my hand, what noises he would make then.

Fuck! He’s so sexy it’s driving me insane.

I can barely keep in my lane, weaving all over the road, but I can’t stop. It feels so good, and I’m so damn close. I call his name, “Jamie,” again and again, just as I did when I ran my fingers across his back and shoulders, but louder and clearer. How I wanted to trail them with my tongue, discover how his smooth golden skin tasted.

The pressure is building inside and I can’t keep my eyes open. There are no other cars around so I pull to the side of the road, my left hand grips my inner thigh.

I rub, tickle, and circle there, biting my lip to stop my screams, but nothing, not even Jamie’s hand clamped over my mouth could stop the carnal wail I release.

I wonder if he's doing the same thing right now, touching his hardness as he thinks of me. I call his name until my orgasm crashes over me and I collapse back into the seat, soaking wet with sweat.

As my body descends back to earth, I think of John and become horrified by my actions. In my heart of hearts, I know I can’t touch Jamie again, maybe not even see him again until I decide what I’m going to do.

How I feel when he looks at me, when he touches me, cannot be ignored... even if I wanted to. But after what just happened, I don’t think I can trust myself around him.

My fate had been sealed as soon as I got into my crappy car and drove to his house, lying to myself the whole time that I just wanted to make sure he was okay. Even if he was, I wasn’t, and I’m starting to think that if Jamie doesn't become mine, I may never feel okay again.

An all-consuming fear takes hold of me and its cold, clammy fingers tighten around my throat and squeeze. I am terrified.

What if I never touch him, or feel like that again?

My train of thought is broken when I hear a rustle outside. Panicking that I’m not as alone as I thought I was, I slowly look to my left and see a herd of Highland cattle spying on me through the passenger side window. Their sharp, judgmental horns are pointing right in my direction, and their long tongues licking the spit from their faces make me think they are drooling over me.

How long they have been watching me and whether or not I just performed a sex show in front of livestock is a question I don't need answering.

I really have sunk to a new low.

Just go home, Claire.


Around five minutes from solitude, my phone rings. A shiver runs down my spine and vomit rises in my throat when I see John's name on the screen. Like the coward I am, I let it ring out. I can’t talk to him now. The sweet, soft hum of his voice would carry me off to the loony bin. I need time.

Unfortunately, I have none. As I approach my house, I see his car. He is sitting on the bonnet, phone in hand, and my phone rings again as I pull into my driveway. Beaming at me like the cat that got the cream, he points to the phone in his hand, nods, laughs, and hangs up.

“That was good timing.” He smiles as I step from the car and wave. “I was starting to think that everyone is avoiding me. First Jamie doesn’t pick up, then you.”

When his arms wrap around my waist and he kisses me on the cheek, I worry that shame has a distinct odour he is familiar with. But the kiss travels along my jaw and to my lips and he sighs and whispers, “I missed you.” I guess I’m in the clear.

Voices in my mind scream at me to tell him now. Tell him you just eye-fucked his best friend, and got off thinking of him on the side of the road. Tell him, go on, tell him!

“I brought you some dinner. I know you have a late class so I hoped we could eat together before you leave?”

“Dinner?” I look at my watch and can’t believe the time. I had been at Jamie’s for hours.

Time sure does fly when you are betraying your boyfriend.

“Sure, that sounds sweet,” I lied. Food is the last thing I want right now. I feel sick to my absolute core, but this will buy me some time in which I can try to decide what to do.

He takes my hand, swinging it as we walk inside, and sets himself up in the kitchen. Tofu and crispy noodles are on the menu. He’s so sweet it hurts. I’m pretty sure he hates tofu, he always has the cutest hangdog expression on his face when he eats it like he’s going to gag with every mouthful. But here he is, cooking it for me anyway. He may as well drive a dagger straight into my cheating heart.

“What have you been up to?” He asks as he expertly tosses the mung beans into the wok.

“Nothing, I didn’t get up to anything,” I reply, hoping my guilt isn’t seeping into my answers. “Just potted around, and then... then I went to see Jamie.”

“Oh.” The wok drops and cracks loudly against the ceramic cooktop. Both of us jump at the loud noise and it’s clear we’re both on edge. “You went to Lallybroch? What for? Was he okay?”

“Yes, he was fine. Well...not fine, but not as bad as I thought. I knew how worried you were about him and I was out that way so thought I’d pop in.”

Sprouts and hoisin sauce are added into the wok and the tossing resumes with greater vigour. If he grips that handle any tighter, it’s going to disintegrate like a clump of soil in his palm.

“Lallybroch is quite a way out of town. What took you out there?” Suspicion drips from his voice as he adds shiitake mushrooms and coriander.

“Herbs. I went to pick herbs.”

Fuck, that is truly pathetic.

How I thought that was believable is anyone’s guess but John either did believe me or was too polite to say otherwise.

“Pass me the bowls, babe.” He points to the clean ones in the dish rack and I walk behind him to get them. My arm brushes his back and in the blink of an eye, he has me in his arms, his lips on mine.

All I feel is wrong. Wrong arms, wrong lips, wrong man.

He releases me and smiles, his eyes begging me to smile back...but I can’t.

“So, Jamie. How was he? What did you do?”

He piles the noodles into the bowls and carries them over to my little dining table. It's my favourite spot in my house. This time of night, and when the Scottish clouds play along, I get the most beautiful view of the sunset, and the changing orange and pink skies decorate the whole room.

“He said he was okay, but he looked tired and pale like he hadn’t been outside for days. His hand is still quite painful so he’s not been getting much sleep. It would be so much easier if he could take the pain killers.”

“True, but trust me, in the long run, it’s for the best. Jamie wasn’t a pretty sight when he was mucking around with those bloody pills. He was a living, breathing zombie. This may sound weird, but he's a guy that needs to feel things; highs, lows, pain, love.” Looking over to me, he nods and continues, “it’s like he has to feel and do everything so intensely to be able to live with it or move past it. When he feels nothing, when he’s numb, he just can’t function, he’s not Jamie.”

Intense. It’s the perfect word to surmise Jamie Fraser.

The tension in that room was palpable. The way he looked at me, touched me, has marked me for life.


Just the word has me back there. Back in his room. Back to his hand between my thighs, tickling behind my knees.

My body temperature is surging and I feel a blush rising from my breast that I have no way of controlling.

“I can see that,” I say, patting John on the hand to physically remind myself he is here. “He’s lucky to have someone like you in his life, who understands him so well.”

Trying to change the subject and get my mind away from Jamie's bare chest and strong hands, I turn my attention to our food and John’s day. But each time I try to ask him anything, talk about him or work, even how much I love bloody mushrooms, he brings it back to Jamie and my time with him.

How long did you stay?

Were Jenny or Ian around?

What did you talk about?

The man was clearly suspicious, and obviously for good reason.

Can he sense it? Feel it? The connection between Jamie and I.

Was our attraction so conspicuous?

Most of his questions are easily answered, brushed off, sidestepped, or straight out lied about. I’m not going to tell him about the haircut. I don’t trust my skills in deception enough to tell him it was just a haircut when it was so much more.

Time. I need more time to figure out what the hell is going on before I can be anywhere near straightforward.

I keep telling myself it’s better this way, that I’m protecting John, but even I don’t believe that.

My falsehoods are piling up and I’m going to have to start writing them down or risk getting tangled in my own web of deceit.

I‘m sweating, feel sick to my very core, and can barely swallow my food. I’m sure it's delicious; John’s a great cook after all. But with each deception, I rot from the inside and each mouthful tastes more and more bitter.

Time comes to my rescue in the end. Barely half my meal is eaten but I have to get ready for work; never have I been more grateful to run an eight p.m. class.

At my insistence, I wash and pack away the dishes. It's the least I can do I say, but I'm really just happy to be away from what felt like an interrogation. Just as I’m about to finish, he walks up behind me and wraps his arms around my shoulders.

Again, I feel my body tense and I curse it for its betrayal.

“Thanks for checking up on him for me, for caring. You really are the best.”

No, I’m the absolute worst and as Jenny so brutally declared, I'm going directly to hell.