How did I not notice the name place card?
Claire. Her name has been staring me in the face for 15 minutes.
As delighted as I am, the death stare I’m receiving tells me this is not the time to show it.
A straight face may be vital to my continuing existence so I try extra hard not to smile...which is fucking hard cause despite myself, I’m really fucking excited.
“What? Why are ye stuck here with all the farmers?”
Sighing heavily, Claire angrily pulls the chair out from the table and flops into it like a flustered tot. Clearly, she’s still pissed off with me; it’s so cute and adorably sexy.
“Esme hates me apparently. She thinks I’m a cow. I guess that makes me as close to a farmer as I’ll ever get.” Her reply comes in hot, short and sharp as she stubbornly stares straight ahead.
The old adage 'treat em mean, keep em keen' is proving correct. Being ignored instantly has me needing her to look at me.
Deliberately trying to provoke her, I alternate between elbowing her arm or poking her in the thigh with my finger as I ramble incessantly about the decorations, how much she thinks this would all cost and complimenting her dress, all while receiving nothing more than a humph, dunno and suppose so back.
Her eyes dart sideways with every poke and prod of my finger but she is still refusing to look at me.
To have someone act like this towards me would normally drive me crazy and have my anxiety skyrocketing, but with her, it’s a complete turn on, a game; one I want to win.
A waitress brings around a tray of drinks; wine, beer, scotch and several bottles of water. Dougal, though, is a teetotaler and asks for a fresh pot instead of alcohol and the waiter kindly obliges and scurries off to get it.
Claire and I exchange a silent, awkward glance and our hands both reach for the one and only dram of whisky on the tray. She gives me an obligatory nod when I nudge it toward her and drinks it as a shot; proudly slamming the glass down on the table and sending a jolt of lust straight to my cock.
It’s going to be a long and interesting night.
Our table mates chat with us and each other, the usual dull kind of chit chat that's forced upon us as adults and I notice that Claire and I seem to have developed an apparent and overwhelming thirst.
We’ve both downed two more drinks by the time the tea is brought to the table.
Dougal pours it immediately and as he does, I offer him the jug of milk; it's closer to me and saves him from leaning across the table to get it.
“Do ye take milk in yer tea, Dougal?”
“Nah, thank ye though. I’m lactose intolerant, ye ken.”
Laughter bubbles in my belly as milk apparently does in Dougal’s.
“Wait... Ye’re a lactose-intolerant dairy farmer?”
“Aye, that's right.”
I can’t help myself.
“Wow, that’s rather unfortunate. ‘Tis like a whisky maker being allergic tae barley. What are we talking here? Gas? Cramps?”
“The works. Terrible diarrhea, I could shit through the eye of a needle diarrhea.”
He makes an explosive sound with his mouth and poor Claire is trapped halfway between dry retching and hysterics.
It cuts the tension. I can feel her body shaking in an attempt to hold in her laughter. It’s now her elbow that is rubbing against mine and I kick her beneath the table in playful reprimand.
As Dougal continues to share his tummy woes, she can take it no more, looks at me and bursts into laughter, which in turn sets me off. Our squinting eyes are locked onto each other and her head crashes on my shoulder with exhausted joy.
“I’m sorry, that's terribly rude of me.” She splutters, waving her hands but continuing to laugh.
“Och, think nothin’ of it, lass. I ken ‘tis rather peculiar, and graphic.”
Now laughing so hard I begin to cough, I reach for my beer to soothe my throat and Claire's still flailing arms knock the glass from my hand. It hits the leg of my timber chair and smashes into pieces. When I reach down to pick it up, a large piece resting on the edge accidentally slices through flesh.
Quick as a flash, Claire is in action mode; her laughter gone instantly and again, she looks furious while whipping a wee first aid kit from her bag with one hand and grabbing hold of my finger with the other.
“I dinna ken how ye fit that in yer wee bag, Sassenach.”
“Shut up and sit still.” Snapping, she grabs my finger and squeezes to slow the steady flow of blood.
“Ye seem pissed off wi’ me, Sassenach. Are ye pissed off wi’ me?”
“No, I'm not. I’m just concentrating. Sit bloody still, would you?”
I ignore her and keep fidgeting in my seat. “I gotta be honest, ye really do seem angry.”
“Bloody hell, Jamie, I am not angry at you as a person, rather at your ability to hurt yourself constantly.”
She pulls my body to face hers and her legs come to rest inside of mine. It’s an insanely intimate position and I like it very much, even with blood dripping from my hand.
“Aye, I am a bit clumsy I suppose. I do thank ye though. Ye have a verra soft touch.”
“Yeah well, don’t thank me too much.” With an evil smile that makes me think she's enjoying this, she douses my hand in antiseptic and I rip it from her, wincing at the sharp, stinging pain.
“Don’t be such a bloody baby.” Laughing again, she snatches my hand back and covers my finger with a plaster and smiles. “Would you like me to kiss it better?”
“Why, no, that won’t be necessary. But thank ye.”
As the waiter flutters around us, cleaning the glass and antiseptic from the floor, Dougal and the other farmers praise Claire’s handy work and she teasingly slaps me on the thigh, then calls me a baby one more time.
Of course, it’s at this moment that John makes his way to the table, sneaking a quick visit in with Claire before the newlyweds' big entrance.
I can't say for sure what he is thinking, seeing his girlfriend holding my hand with her legs firmly wedged inside mine, but I can imagine what I would think had the roles been reversed.
I’m damn sure I would not be quite so calm.
It bothers him though; his pace slows as he sees us and he bites his lip a little when we jump apart.
“Just a wee scratch,” I blurt out before he even speaks, holding my hand up to inspect the blood-stained plaster and shirt cuffs. “I cut my hand and Claire fixed it up.”
“Well, aren't you lucky I sat you together? Claire comes to your rescue... again.” It's said with a half-smile but I can see the displeasure in his eyes. His gaze shifts from my finger to his girlfriend and his full, genuine smile returns.
“I’m sorry again for the seating. Esme insisted on no non-married partners at the table. She thinks it’s a jinx.”
“It’s okay, John. I understand you had no choice in the matter.”
He picks up her hand, kisses it softly, then crouches to his knees before her. “Apparently there’s some problem in the kitchens so dinner will be late. They are going to do the first dance almost as soon as they come in to soothe the starving masses. Would you dance with me, Claire?”
“Of course,” she smiles sweetly, bowing her head graciously. “I’d be honoured.”
“Excellent. They will announce your name when it’s time. I’ll meet you on the dance floor, my dear.” Reaching up to kiss her lips, he wraps his arms around her waist and pulls her close. It’s bloody painful to witness. I’d rather cut my hand open a hundred times and bleed all over myself than sit here and watch this.
Needing an escape, I make my excuse and go to the bathroom to wash the remaining blood from my hands and that image from my eyes.
Like a car wreck, I can’t take my eyes away.
The torturous night I predicted is coming to fruition.
John and Claire are dancing.
The song, First Day of My Life, is debilitatingly cruel. If I didn’t know Hal’s eclectic taste in music, I’d sworn it was chosen just to mock my stupid heart. The opening line cuts me to the very depths of my existence.
This is the first day of my life
Swear I was born right in the doorway
I went out in the rain, suddenly everything changed
They're spreading blankets on the beach
Her head is resting on his shoulder as they sway to the music in perfect unison. Each time they swirl past me, I can see the happiness in his expression and it’s like a dagger through my heart. Their eyes are closed, they are holding each other tight, chest to chest. They look so perfect together and I can't stop watching despite the fact that it's killing me inside.
As they pass me again, her eyes open and meet mine and a look I can only describe as longing is lingering between us. Her focus doesn't shift as they again move away. Floating across the dancefloor, she maintains her private vigil over me.
It’s just Claire and Jamie. Jamie and Claire. Only we two know this feeling.
My heart is thumping like a bass line at a summer rave and it furiously echoes in my head. The want, the energy and the pull between us is terrifying in its enormity.
Yours was the first face that I saw
I think I was blind before I met you
And I don't know where I am, I don't know where I've been
But I know where I want to go
She wets and bites her lip as she slowly drifts by me again and it’s just all too much.
Our eyes remain locked as I practically fall from my chair.
My jacket, shirt and tie are choking me, trapping me within this pain like a straightjacket.
A royal blue gilded cage.
Air. I just need to find some air.
Like a drunken sailor, I stagger, wounded, disorientated outside.
A hidden alcove no doubt frequented by many a randy wedding guest or two, not to mention impatient brides and grooms, provides the sanctuary I need to disintegrate.
I collapse against a wall of ivy and jasmine. My body is crushing the flowers, releasing their calming fragrance, but I’m anything but calm. I still hear every note of music, still, see the subtle nuances of her face.
There is no escape.
Resentment is building inside me and threatens to turn into a rage I cannot control.
I am burning, consumed by the feelings I carry and cannot express.
The joy I feel when I am around her that she cannot know.
The touch I crave but will never feel.
How is any man, let alone a screwed up fool like me, supposed to carry all of this?
A song or two passes as I slide down to the ground. The fucking nightmarish love songs continue to torment me. I’m one Barry White song away from losing it when I feel a feather-light touch on my arm.
“On your feet, Soldier.”
Being the well-trained officer I am, I’m up in a flash, staring into her perfect face. The flecks of gold are brighter now, beaming up at me like the sun, cutting through the dark.
“You left before the dance ended. Why did you come outside?” She whispers, standing so dangerously close.
“Ye ken why I had tae. And, Claire, ye shouldnae be here. Go back in, go back tae John.”
“Gone? What do ye mean he’s gone?”
“It’s okay, Jamie. He's fine, he'll be back after he takes his Gran home. I got a bit bored sitting by myself and Dougal was talking about his flatulence again, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to duck out for some air. Do you want to come back inside with me? They are finally going to serve the food soon.”
“Nah, I think I might go home. Not feeling the best. Allergies and such.” I say, wiping my still damp eyes.
“Oh, allergies, right...I’m sorry that I was upset before. It's been a long day.” She steps closer again and is within hands-reach now. I can hear her breathing from here and can smell her sweet scent that perfectly complements the still lingering jasmine.
She smiles at me in a manner that shifts the grief inside of me, makes me trust in her, and convinces me that somehow my life will always be okay as long as she's around.
A lightness of spirit soothes me. Just being in her presence heals me.
We stand and talk about nothing and everything and laugh when the DJ takes it up a notch. The distinct opening line of ‘Time of My Life’ belts out and Claire swoons on the spot.
“God, I know it’s corny, but I bloody love this song.”
Before I know what's come over me, I’m curling my index finger, calling her to me as Johnny does Baby in that iconic scene.
“I’m no Patrick Swayze, Sassenach. But will ye dance wi’ me.”
“You know Dirty Dancing?” Her face lights up with excitement and I think a little shock too. Blush creeps up her cheeks as she purses her lips and steps into my body.
As the beat picks up, her arms slide around my neck, her fingers tickle my flesh, and our bodies move as one. Being this close to her feels right, and I never want to leave her side again, though I know I can't stay.
No words are spoken—there’s just the music and her—as our hips slam together and grind into each other.
It’s definitely dirty, but there's a joy infused with the undeniable lust in every step and roll of hips and I honestly don’t know if I've ever felt this happy or in lo— Well, in whatever this is.
An idea is bubbling, the song is ending, I only have one chance. I have to do it now.
“What?” She giggles.
My hands grip her waist.
Christ, she’s sae tiny.
I bite my lip, nod then lift her off her feet and over my head.
“Oh my God!” She squeals and laughs that sexy laugh as she spreads out her arms and floats above me.
All I can see is her smile—and maybe her boobs—as I look up at her beaming face. My arms begin to shake, blood trickles from the cut on my hand, so I slowly lower her down.
Her body slides down mine, her softness rubs against my hardness.
I can feel every inch of her.
Breathing is impossible as her breasts caress my face, smothering me long enough to decide that this is the only way I want to die.
She continues to drop, pressing into my chest, sliding over my groin and legs. I can feel her pulse between my fingers, hear her rapid breaths as her feet finally touch the ground. We hold hands, the silence deafening.
“Does that answer yer question?”
The rise and fall of her breast is hypnotic, as is her soft, panting, breathy, “Yes.”
Face to face. Breathing. We chase each other’s lips.
Shadows dance in the filtered light from the ballroom.
My hands move up from her waist, run up her back and neck where they play with her hair, freeing her curls from their confines.
I watch in dumbstruck awe as they tumble, falling perfectly to her almost bare shoulders.
Closer and closer we edge. Claire’s eyes close, mine remain open. I have to remember every second of this.
It’s agony, it's divine, it's everything it shouldn’t be.
I can almost taste her on my tongue.
She’s so close yet so far.
Nothing else exists... and then.
They make an announcement. Dinner is served. It rings through the speakers overhead reminding us that we aren't alone, that she is not mine.
“Ye better go back in, Sassenach. John will be back soon, and he’ll be looking fer ye.”
“I want to stay, Jamie.”
Her hand is on my chest. I want her to stay. Christ, I want her so, so much.
“Ye canna stay wi’ me, ye ken that. ‘Tis fer the best.”
She begins to speak, she's ready to fight, but I see her eyes change and she surrenders to the knowledge of what's right.
“Are you coming in?”
“Och, nah, I’m going tae head tae my room. ‘Tis also fer the best.”
“I suppose,” she whispers, sliding away. She turns back once as she leaves, looking over her bare, unforgettably beautiful shoulder.
“Good night, Jamie.”
“Good night, Claire.”