Birthday - EF - Arshad Khan . Nouna Egypt Ef . June 20 .. may this day be of your best liking and happiness .. always .. from your Ef ..
The serenity of the sea in its restless and persistent waters by the sanded rock of the Malta Isles .. the ink blue of the Mediterranean and the gentle breeze to soothe the heat of the brilliant sun .. that be all for the day to survive ..
The waters are laced with an anger not seen or heard in the days that I have been here .. the God’s they are perturbed, or so the ancients said in their early reckonings of weather changes and nature at it worst .. we now have greater scientific knowledge of why and how it happens .. though I must admit some of the science has still not been able to provide all relevant answers ..
Just as the medical profession has not till date been able to fathom the inner depths of the human form .. why was it made so and how the intricacies were discovered .. and because there were no tangible answers, the belief in a power of supernatural quality was born .. and thence religion .. the ‘being’ needed answers, and when none was provided adequately, they turned to the skies .. and why the skies, I ask .. was everything that had association with the supernatural had to come from above .. perhaps .. who knows .. perhaps that is where form was seen that manufactured us .. this most complicated machinery ever built ..
And the other - the residences of the Almighty were all built in a peak like structure, spiralling up to the heavens .. was there a reference on this .. perhaps .. mankind was not so intelligent to give believable answers, and succumbed to the soothsayers and those that predict births and positions and standings and of age limits and opinions to come ahead ..
We have all been bludgeoned into the beliefs that were introduced to us then .. there was no escape … and sadly, no escape now either.. you may either be ‘theist’ or ‘atheist’ or neither ..
What immense wonder, belief has done for mankind .. before, now and after ..
and the well wishers continue with their love and affection ..
Can Jamie and Claire act like love sick teenagers and go on a cute date that ends in skinny dipping or some other fairly public shenanigans?
The baggage trolley rattled as Claire pushed it across the shiny airport floor, its left wheel clicking against the broken mechanism that held it staunchly in place.
“…and you are going to get on with poor Jamie this time, aren’t you my darling?” Her mother crooned, kissing her forehead as she steered them all towards the check-in desk..
Rolling her eyes, Claire turned from her parents, waiting until her tell-tale blush had subsided before twisting back round, a large fake smile plastered across her face.
“Of course, mum.”
Recalling their last encounter, Claire felt almost ashamed.
Hate was the wrong word, of course. And she hadn’t meant to give the poor boy a black eye *or* gripe at him for most of the break, but, she had.
The actual reason for her clumsiness and general distemper was of quite obvious to those looking clearly at the situation.
Claire Beauchamp was in love.
Her parents had been taking easter getaways and summer holidays with the Fraser’s for years, and Jamie and Claire were well acquainted. But since the family move when the pair were just fifteen, the bi-annual Beauchamp/Fraser trip had been postponed.
Since they’d re-ignited this tradition, the previous year, Jenny and William, the oldest Frasers had gone to university and no longer required her parents for vacations.
Claire and Jamie had been left to their own devices for much of the trip. The tall Scot had been friendly, as always, but his ever present jolly attitude, twinned with his glorious baby-blue eyes had Claire’s stomach in constant knots.
Sitting in the departure lounge, she mused over their final few days together. She had so desperately wished for him to kiss her. But being a blissfully ignorant, seventeen year old male, Jamie had been unaware of Claire’s unspoken desires.
Instead, Claire had slipped as she’d fumbled over the wet rocks on the beach, her humiliating attempts at flirting going unnoticed. Falling backwards, she had thrown her elbow out in attempt at re-centring herself, catching Jamie unawares and landing him with a very large bruise that ran over his eye and down his cheek.
But that was last year, Claire reminded herself, shaking off the memories. This year would be different. No longer would she fawn over him like a lovesick teenager. No, her last year at college had taught her (if nothing else) that boys were *not* to be trust, and Jamie Fraser would be no different.
As the final boarding call rang out over the tannoy, Julia tapped her daydreaming daughter on the shoulder, grabbing her carry-on bag as she nodded her head towards the gate.
“Time to go, Claire. Don’t worry,” Julia whispered, wrapping Claire in a tight hug as they followed behind Henry, down onto the tarmac, “you don’t have to spend time with anyone you don’t wish too.”
Tapping his foot against the beautiful marble stonework of his hotel room, Jamie sat and waited. His parents, too excited at the arrival of their friends, had rushed off to greet Julia, Henry and Claire as they’d arrived on the complex.
But he had stayed away.
He knew now, rather belatedly as his father had so accurately pointed out, that now-not-so-wee-Claire Beauchamp had felt an undercurrent of *ardor* for him.
Alas, by the time Brian had enlightened his son on the mysterious machinations of a young girl’s mind, the Beauchamp’s had departed and Jamie had been abandoned, bruised face and all.
This year, he reasoned, it would be different.
His heart raced at the thought of seeing Claire once more.
At fifteen she had been medium height, very skinny with large sea-blue eyes. Not uncommon to many other girls he attended school with.
But at seventeen, the year previous, she had been a tall statuesque beauty.
Something to be noticed for sure. She was captivating, alluring and coquettish but quick and intelligent with it.
It was fair to say Jamie had fallen head over heels for the lass. But, even as a young man with fresh blood running through his veins, he was determined to be a gentleman.
By the end of their holiday, though, Jamie had been forced to walk away, a broken heart and a black eye to boot.
The key clicked in the lock as Brian and Ellen entered the small single room, twin smiles plastered over their faces.
“Are ye ready, laddie? Henry and the ladies are going to meet us by the pool if ye wish to join us,” Brian asked, a cheeky twinkle in his eye as he ruffled his son’s thick red hair. “I think they’d like to see you again, since ye were determined to hide awa’ here just the now!” He quipped, laughter in his voice as he grabbed Jamie’s towel for him.
As the Fraser’s left their rooms, Ellen grasped hold of Jamie’s hand, holding him back as Brian marched on ahead.
“Jamie, my boy, I ken how ye feel fer the lassie, and I ken how she felt for you before we left the last time,” she began, a hint of warning in her tone. Jamie’s heart skipped a beat and then picked up pace as he felt a small shudder roll down his spine at his mother’s words. “But go easy on her to start wi’. Her mam says she’s had a tough year.”
The ding of the lift pulled him from his thoughts as he squashed inside the small cart with a number of other guests on their way down, his palms sweating as the heat built in the small space.
*A tough year*, what did that mean, he pondered, his mind debating all manner of dark possibilities.
Whatever had occurred, back in England, he thought, he would still treat her as he would have without the warning.
A wave of heat hit Claire as she stepped from the air-conditioned safety of the hotel lobby out onto the scorching terrace. The poolside was lined with empty sunloungers, perfectly placed for her to enjoy a cool breeze off the water as she read her books.
No longer trapped in the chilled British spring, Claire threw off her flip flops and bent to take them in her free hand, scooping them between her fingers as she enjoyed the warmth of the patio tiles as it soaked through her soles.
“Good morning Claire,” came a voice from behind her.
Startled, Claire jumped as she turned, knowing immediately who the deep Scots burr belonged to.
“Good morning, Jamie,” she returned, licking her lips as she held her flimsy sandals to her chest, her book wedged neatly under her other arm as she twisted her elbow to keep it solidly in place. “How have you been?” The question came out with a tentative edge, making Claire feel even more awkward.
“I’ve been well, thank ye. We missed you yesterday,” Jamie replied, tipping his head to the left as he twisted his towel between his fingers.
Claire’s lips twitched into a small smile at his coyness. She hadn’t wanted to be part of the welcoming committee on their first day, and so had opted to stay in her room for the afternoon leaving Jamie alone with the adults.
Still as endearing as ever, Jamie Fraser was growing more and more handsome by the day. Butterflies swam in her tummy as they stood in comfortable silence, the soft swish of the pool water sloshing against the sides of its large basin reverberated around them as Jamie stepped closer.
Claire focused on the soft slap of his shoes against the terracotta bricks of the small porch, letting his calm aura surround her so as not to overwhelm her as he tapped his feet, his body obviously filled with nerves. His close proximity once would have caused her heart to race in desire. Only a year ago she’d wished for this more than anything else. Now, she’d have happily turned on her heel and darted away.
After her last stunt, though, she was more aware of her ability to injure Jamie in the heat of the moment. Helpfully, that stunted her need to flee.
“Yer mam said…” Jamie began, noting her suddenly closed off body language. She didn’t even seem aware of how hunched her shoulders had become but it had only made Jamie more desirous of making her comfortable. “Weel, she said ye’d seen some trouble last year. I dinna mean to pry…but are ye no’ well?”
Sighing, Claire flicked her head towards the beach at the bottom of the hotel pool. Being as early as it was, very few people lined the shores leaving it looking fairly empty.
“I’m not sick, Jamie. Would you like to find somewhere to sit? We can chat, if you like…”
Perching themselves on the sunbeds closest to the entrance to the public beach, Jamie and Claire sat side by side.
“You know, don’t you?” She began again, her cheeks flaming as she watched the recognition light behind Jamie’s eyes.
“Aye, da told me. Ye must think me daft, eh?”
“No,” she returned, quickly, “I don’t, not at all. But my mum was right with what she told you. This year,” pausing, Claire took a rather large breath, her fingers drumming relentlessly against the hardback cover of her novel, “was rough.”
“Ye dinna need to tell me anything, Claire.” Jamie said, the softness in his tone causing Claire’s taut muscles to loosen slightly, “but I like ye, too. And I’m willing to treat ye well. Willing to wait for ye to be ready for anything, or nothing should ye just need a friend, aye?”
Smiling shyly, Claire curled a loose lock of her hair around her finger, twisting the few strands of golden brown over and over as she let his words sink in.
*He liked her.*
“Friends?” She broached, the lilt of her voice hinting at something more as she looked over at him, their knees almost touching as the sun rose above them.
“Friends…” he replied, a gentle hush on the mediterranean breeze, “aye, Claire.”