Escape: the medical school years
“I wish ye could come wi’ me,” he breathed into her ear as he nipped her lobe.
She arched at the sensation of his hot breath in her ear, pushing her hips back into his.
“You know I wish I could,” she panted back, running her hands over his bicep, and up to grasp his shoulder.
He kissed her like a man beyond thirst. Twisting behind her she responded like a starving woman, devouring his mouth, pushing back against him, hard. She reached between them and took him in her hand, guiding him home. He grabbed a thigh to hitch it up higher over his hip.
Jamie groaned at the hot, welcoming feeling that was his wife. Claire purred when her husband filled her, rubbing her in just the right places.
He moved slowly, savouring the last moments with Claire before dawn when he’d have to leave for the International Whisky Competition. Claire loved when he roused her from sleep, whispering his desire, running his fingers over her sleep warmed flesh, stroking her to a fever pitch.
He moved deeply, taking his time, feeling the weight of her breast in his hand, the pebble revealing her desire underneath his palm, drawing out the moment when she would shatter in his arms. Drawing out the moment for himself when he would feel his heart beat faster, and his body vibrate uncontrollably.
When she moaned his name, he smiled against the back of her shoulder, for there was nothing sweeter in this world than his name on her satisfied lips. Seconds later he called hers, lost in pleasure.
They held each other until their hearts steadied and both drifted back to sleep.
“Sassenach, have ye seen my shaving brush?”
“Which? Uncle Lamb’s?”
“Aye,” Jamie was frantic, looking through drawers and the medicine chest, trying to pack his shaving kit.
“God, Jamie, who can find anything in this renovation? I can run up the stairs and check the bathrooms up there?”
“Nay bother. Ye’d have to take the fire escape as they’re working on the kitchen and blocked off the stairs inside.” He slammed the door under the sink.
“Since when?” Claire said as she popped her head around the door frame.
“Yesterday,” Jamie murmured, preoccupied. “Maybe I left it at Lallybroch.”
He zipped up the bag and placed it into the suitcase laid out on the bed. “I think that’s everything I need.”
Claire grabbed her backpack and met Jamie at the door. She wound her arms around his neck and raised on tiptoes to kiss him. “I’ll miss you.”
“Miss ye, too, Sassenach,” he bumped her nose with his, “but I’m no’ ready to say goodbye to ye just yet.” He took her hand, and opened the door. “Come.”
They walked out onto the street to a black Range Rover waiting at the curb. An older man, lean and wiry, hopped to attention when he saw Jamie. He had a black knit cap pulled low over his head, and the collar of his navy blue pea coat was turned up against the cold. His gray beard was trimmed short, and Claire was immediately drawn to the deep smile lines around his blue eyes.
“Claire, this is Alec,” Jamie said as he introduced his wife. “He’ll be yer driver this week.”
Claire reached out to shake the man’s hand, somewhat confused. “My driver? Jamie. I don’t need a driver.”
“Aye, ye do.” Jamie clapped the smaller man on the shoulder. “Alec is our company driver. Takes us to the airport, picks up clients for us, takes us to meetings, and such. While I’m away he’ll take ye to University. More importantly,” Jamie looked intently at Alec, “he’ll pick ye up from all those late nights at the library.”
Claire stood up straight and faced her husband. He could see her stubbornness rise. “Jamie, I can drive myself. I can take our car.”
“Sure, Sassenach,” Jamie chuckled, “because it’s not like ye never fall asleep on the way home or anything when I pick ye up.” He raised an eyebrow and opened the car door.
Claire had the good sense to look embarrassed. “Well. Thank you, I guess. It’s nice to meet you, Alec. But are you sure you want to do this? My schedule is crazy.”
“Och, no worries, ma’am,” Alec said in a thick Highland accent.
Jamie and Claire climbed into the back of the warmed vehicle. As they drove to the University of Edinburgh, Jamie lifted their entwined hands and kissed his wife’s ring. “Seriously, Claire, call Alec. Dinna try to go home by bus or anything.”
Claire studied her husband’s face. There was something in his eyes that she couldn’t quite put her finger on. Seriousness, yes. Longing, yes, because he wished she could travel to Chicago with him for the competition. But something else. It looked like worry, but on a deeper level. There was something darker in his eyes that gave her pause.
He needed her promise. So she gave it.
“I promise, Jamie. I’ll call Alec.”
His eyes flashed briefly, then he nodded his head. “Good. Give me yer phone, Sassenach, and I’ll put in his number.”
Dropping Claire off outside her building, Jamie stepped out of the car and let her out. He wrapped her up in a bear hug, and lifting her off her feet, planted a firm kiss on her lips. Forgetting themselves, their kisses became a bit more fevered until catcalls, and whistles brought them back to their surroundings. Jamie let her slide down his body and whispered, “Call ye every chance I get.”
“Regardless of the time difference.” She placed a hand against his cheek, “Come back to me, James Fraser.”
“Soon as I can,” he said, and kissed her lingeringly on her forehead.
He climbed back in the car and watched Claire walk quickly into the old stone building. Damn, he’d miss that fine arse. Alec pulled away from the curb and looked at Jamie in the rear view mirror.
“I trust ye, man.” Jamie said, looking back at him through the glass. “Ye ken what to look for.”
“Aye,” Alec assured the young man. “Yer Da was a good man, and a friend of mine. Ye’ve shown me a world of kindness, as well. I’ll take care of her.”
Jamie nodded, knowing that the older man understood what was expected of him this week. When they got to the airport, they shook hands, and grabbing his luggage, Jamie walked away.
Alec watched him go marveling at how much like Brian he was. Same strong walk, and the same straight set of his shoulders. He smiled at the memory and climbed back into the Rover. How badly he wanted a cigarette right now, but he would never succumb. He owed it to Brian. They had gone to school together and were good friends. Then, Alec spent some time in the military while Brian went off to Uni. When they crossed paths again years later in a pub, Alec was an alcoholic chain-smoker crying over a recent cancer diagnosis. Brian had him sobered up in rehab, and gave him a job at the Distillery as a driver.
The irony. An alcoholic working for a whisky maker.
Yet, Brian’s actions gave him back his life. Cancer in remission. Sober, and non-smoker. It didn’t help his already broken marriage, but it did give him his self-respect, and that meant everything. When Brian died he was sure that would be the end of his job. He approached Jenny and Jamie, literally with his hat in his hand. Jenny had showed him into her office and wandered over to her sideboard, littered with whisky tumblers and decanters, and various refreshments.
She poured three cups of coffee, God love her. His heart melted.
She and Jamie had been talking, she explained, handing him a steaming hot mug. They’d decided she and Ian should move to Lallybroch, now that Brian was gone. She was pregnant and their growing family would need the space. The commute would be a long one, so Alec would be needed to drive her and Ian to work from Lallybroch, every day. As well, his current duties as driver would remain. There was a small cottage in Broch Mordha that he could have, so that he’d be close to Lallybroch for the daily commute. Then, Jamie handed him an envelope containing his new salary. He had to draw on all of his military training to not cry at the figure on the page. He stood, shook hands, thanked them for the coffee and stepped out into the hallway.
At that point he allowed himself a good cry, for the loss of his friend and in gratitude for his children. Jamie stepped out ten minutes later and handed him a set of keys. He left him alone to find the Range Rover in the lot. It was all too much. From that day forward ‘Old Alec’, as the Murray kids called him, became protector of Brian’s family.
A family that now included Claire.
checked her phone thinking she’d calculate what time it was for Jamie. Jesus
H! 11:45! She needed to get home and get some rest
before her 8:00 class tomorrow morning.
She quickly texted Alec, then started packing up. Claire was surprised at how fast her phone pinged in response.
Which door will I find you to pick you up?
She texted back. East door. Thank you, Alec.
He pulled the car from its spot on the street and headed towards the library. The rain was steady, but not driving down. Still, he’d get as close as he could.
The night was dark as pitch but the streetlights helped. It seemed like she wasn’t there when he pulled up. No matter. He punched the button to start the hazard lights and waited for a glimpse of her before jumping out to get the door.
Claire bolted down the stairs. She felt good about how much work she’d gotten done, but she also felt guilty for keeping Alec up so late. She wondered what Jenny was doing for a ride this week. If Alec was driving her, he couldn’t be driving Jenny.
In her preoccupation she took the wrong hallway to the door. Turning quickly to correct her mistake she bumped into a solid wall of flesh.
“Umpf!” She staggered back, clutching her bag. “Robert!”
Horrocks bent down to pick up the book he dropped in the collision.
“Sorry. I didn’t see you.” She took a moment to step around him, but he stood up and filled the narrow hallway. She stopped, unsure of what was happening for the moment.
“It’s fine,” he said, in his charming Irish lilt. “I saw you moving like a bat outta hell, and I wondered if you were all right.”
She relaxed. Of course. That made sense.
“I’m going the wrong way.” She made a motion toward her head. “Tired.” She stepped forward again, and this time he let her pass.
The foyer was well lit and made it hard to see into the darkness. Everything was reflected back at her in the glass, especially Robert, still behind her. However, she could make out the blinking red hazard lights and knew that would be her ride.
“Night!” she said, throwing the words casually over her shoulder.
Just before she opened the door he grabbed her upper arm.
“It’s raining, Claire. Let me get my umbrella.” He was standing entirely too close. She looked up into his blue eyes. A very different blue from Jamie’s, she thought. Icy blue. Not the usual warm, ocean blue of her husband’s. She shivered, and she wasn’t sure why.
“I’ll be fine. My car’s right there.” Hitching her knapsack higher on her shoulder, she bent her head and stepped into the misty darkness.
He held the door open as he watched her jog to the car.
That’s when it hit him.
He wasn’t sure what, exactly. But he couldn’t breathe for the weight across his windpipe, and the force pressing his face into the side of the wall, away from the door. He was trying to get his feet under him from being knocked off balance but he couldn’t manage. Stars swam before his eyes.
And then, blackness.