f-f-freezing!” Claire stuttered, holding herself tight inside her fluffy down
‘tis.” Jamie smiled, hugging Claire close. “But beautiful.” Wrapped as they
were in thick scarves and warm hats, no one looked twice at the
couple—particularly at Jamie, who usually stood out like a sore thumb.
and snow hung thick on the branches, the pathways cleared of ice. Holiday
decorations were up, and everything was ablaze with twinkle lights. The
Christmas markets were brimming with Santas, snowmen, and candy cane crafts.
Park Winter Wonderland teemed with Londoners and tourists. They walked hand in
hand—or mitten in glove—swinging, giddy with the knowledge of each other. It
was only the last week of November, but Christmas was already on display.
with Uncle Lamb wasn’t always traditional,” Claire said, gazing in true wonder
at the holiday explosion around her. “I’ve lived here forever and I’d never
been to this market.”
Lallybroch, we usually do Hogmanay – sort of a New Year’s celebration.” Jamie
stood behind Claire, holding her close, as they both admired a Christmas village
miniature. “Verra traditional.”
“Thank you Duke’s! Good night!”
The Clan trooped offstage, glistening with
the sweat of their efforts and the heat of the spotlights. Jamie had found
Claire in the wings.
“Jamie, that was amazing!” Claire exclaimed,
impulsively throwing her arms around his broad shoulders clad in his signature
jacket. Jamie, heat radiating like a furnace, grabber her by the waist and
swung her around.
“Did ye like it?” he whispered, words muffled
by her hair.
It was easier this way, to tell him without
having to look into the sapphire depths. “Of course I did! I can’t believe you
would—that anyone would write a song. For me.”
my favorite place, whenever my uncle brought us to the city. Frank’s job as
historian would occasionally bring him here too, but mostly libraries,” Claire
climbed the steps to the entrance of the British Museum, arms linked. The
lighting threw the shadows of the columns onto the square, at the late hour.
think my parents brought me here when I was a bairn. Jenny and I, we were young.”
have more siblings?”
My mother, Ellen, she died when I was twelve. And my newborn brother with her.”
Jamie swallowed hard, and shook his head at the memory. “My father followed
when I was 23, from a stroke.” He ran his hands through his fiery thatch. “His
name was Brian.”
sorry to hear that.” She squeezed his arm in sympathy, knowing in their shared
experiences that no more words were necessary between them.
their passes, smiling widely for the museum employee who recognized him. He paused
to grab a map of the galleries, but Claire immediately headed to the left for
the elevators. “Come on!”
only have an hour! Fridays close at 8:30. What would ye like to see, Sassenach?”
Besides Lady Jane, now she had new nicknames.
me!” She grinned and stepped inside the elevator; pushing the button for the
third floor, Jamie slipped in next to her.
is it, mo nighean donn?” He nuzzled
her neck briefly and she pulled away, tickled.
Empire. Then the Greek rooms. They were remarkable healers, for their time.”
“Of course it was fer ye! Who else, mo nighean donn?”
Jamie’s smile was blinding; he felt breathless from the high of the performance
and the feel of Claire in his arms.
“You’ve called me that before. What does it
“Come wi’ me.” Jamie looked around, and
seeing no one, took Claire’s hand and led her towards the back exit.
They stepped out into the cold London night,
their breath visible in the light from a single halogen lamp above the door.
They found themselves in an alley that reeked of refuse, but Claire scarcely
noticed. Sliding his arms around her again, Jamie’s fingers traced patterns on
the back of her jacket. Claire wished it was her skin, and felt her cheeks
think they call it Mandarin.”
sword was stolen.”
Shhh.” Claire pulled a packet of Cadbury English toffee from her purse and
shoved it into Jamie’s hands. “Watch the movie.” The tiny art-house theater was
almost empty, but she knew how annoying they were being.
opened the bag and took a piece, offering another to Claire. She ate it
absent-mindedly, focused on the film. The assassin was revealed when she felt a
hand resting lightly on her knee.
looked down, then at Jamie; his expression was perfectly neutral, eyes on the
screen. She crossed her right leg over the left, and saw Jamie’s mouth twitch.
the movie yerself, Sassenach. Ye’ll miss the subtitles.”
think you’re paying much attention either.” She took Jamie’s hand in her own,
twining her fingers with his.
“I thought of the phrase from the moment I saw
ye. Mo nighean donn means ‘my brown-haired lass’ in the Gaelic.”
“Brown is rather dull, I’ve always thought.”
Claire’s heart pounded disjointedly; she was sure he would be able to hear it
if he moved any closer.
“Not at all. There’s flecks of dark gold and
a bit of red too, like water ruffles over a rock in a stream.” Jamie tangled a hand
in the unruly curls. Claire closed her eyes, enjoying the gentle touch.
She reached up and tentatively fingered the
wavy locks, vivid fire in the light. There was amber and roan, orange and auburn.
She had never seen anything like it.
“Claire,” Jamie whispered, bringing his
forehead against hers.
only 5 days ‘til Christmas, Claire. I’d like to ask ye to come to Lallybroch
with me.” Jamie’s eyes were eager, hopeful.
Really?” Claire put down her fork, wiping her mouth with the napkin.
we first met.” The smile he gave her was only hers. She blushed and sipped her
have to work overtime, to ask for some days off. Also—” she paused shyly.
is it?” Jamie took her hand encouragingly.
like to turn in applications for medical school in January. If I get accepted,
then I’ll have to start studying again.”
wonderful, Sassenach! I’m so proud of ye!” Jamie kissed her hand, holding it tightly.
He signaled the waiter for another bottle.
will mean I will probably see less of you than I do now.” Claire sighed.
nodded. “We start recording a new album in the New Year as well. In Edinburgh,
the label’s recording studio.” He poured out another glass, and clinked it
against Claire’s. “But we’ll talk every day, mo nighean donn. I promise.” He took her hand again. “We’ll both be
busy, and time will fly by.”
but distinct noise caught their attention. The click and whirr of a camera from
a corner of the restaurant. Claire turned casually, and spotted the culprit a
few tables away.
think they’re photographing us, Jamie.” Claire looked down and tried to
extricate her hand from his.
dinna care. We’re not doing anything wrong.” Jamie leaned in and gave each of
her knuckles a soft kiss. “On the contrary.”
doing what, exactly?” Claire smiled, tapping his foot under the table with her
having dinner. On a date. With my girlfriend.” Jamie smiled. “I want the whole
world to know.”
Jamie’s lips brushed softly against hers,
warm and gentle. He pressed a hand hesitantly against her back to bring her
Claire rose on her toes, her arms around him in
response. He tasted of salt and whiskey and promises and she wanted it all.
“Your heart is worth it,” Jamie murmured in