Claire was brushing her teeth, silently going
over every possible therapeutic scheme for a pneumonia – she had a pharmacology
test later that week -, when her phone buzzed inside her pocket.
“Going for an early
session with JG, need to train our plays. Meet me there later, Snch? Love u. XO”
The image of John Grey the previous night, his unshielded
emotions pouring out, came to her mind with the impact of a slap. Could she be
wrong? She didn’t think so. In that fraction of time John had laid down his
guard, totally exposed as his heart called out for Jamie’s. She knew that look –
had surprised it enough times while looking into the mirror or gazing at Jamie’s
eyes since that first night, months ago.
Was Jamie aware of his affections? That issue was
even more complicated. He was a sensitive and wise man – Claire highly doubted
he would proposedly seek John’s company so often, knowing that it might
encourage him somehow. Knowing that, deep down, every time they stood close he
was teasing John. No – she was fairly sure Jamie had no clue. Besides, she was
confident he would have shared any thoughts of that nature with her.
It was like holding a grenade – a weapon of
destruction had been bestowed into her care and now she had to decide what to
do with it – she could almost feel it, throbbing dangerously in her hand with
each passing second. Should she share her suspicions with Jamie? The
repercussions of that discovery floated in front of her eyes, as ripples of a
disturbance in the water. Perhaps she ought to remain silent and wait for
things to unfold as they would? Perchance knowing his feelings unreciprocated,
Grey would slowly forget Jamie?
Slowly she typed her answer and hit send, her
chest heavy as a quarry. “See you then.
She went to the library in search of some
articles, needed to complete her essay on the benefits of breast cancer
screening. All the time, while she perused the books and medical publications
in search of helpful materials, a permanent weight was trapped inside her, like
a vine around her trachea and lungs, threatening to suffocate her – the burden
of secrets kept and the clairvoyance of pain to come.
“Claire!” Ian called her with urgency,
hurriedly walking along the corridor of bookcases. He was almost breathless and
he had a deep crease on his forehead. “A
Dhia! I’ve been searching everywhere for ye. Something happened.”
“Jamie.” She whispered, dropping a pile of
books on the floor, her lips numb. “What is it, Ian? What happened?”
alright.” Ian comforted her, but his lips were twisted in apprehension. “But he
punched John Grey – hit him pretty badly.”
“What?!” Claire asked, astonished. She grabbed
Ian by the shoulders and shook him slightly, as if panning gold from a river. “But
they are friends.”
“Well…” Ian swallowed hard and blushed like a
lobster under the influence of the cooker. “Apparently Grey kissed him in front
of the whole team.”
Claire found him sitting – of rather collapsed - on the lawn of the nearby
park – usually a perfect hiding place, if not for the gossip that followed him
and made him as easy to trace as a fugitive kangaroo.
“Have you come here to yell at me?” John asked,
his eyes caught in the distant flock of birds, raiding the top of the trees
like a heavenly army, flaunting their freedom with a stroke of wings. “God I
wish they’d stop doing that.” He grumbled, as a couple of girls blatantly pointed
in his direction from afar, their laughs clear as seagulls’ cries calling for a
storm at sea.
“You kissed my boyfriend.” Claire said in a
conversational tone while she sat next to him on the grass, folding her legs in
a meditation position. “The thought of giving a shout or two has crossed my
mind. Don’t you think I’m entitled to it? Or being a boy is supposed to offer
you some privileges?”
“I was thinking you’d find it ridiculous enough
to pity me.” He snorted, brushing his knuckles. He was sporting an impressive
black eye, as if something had started to rot from the inside out, hidden
truths closer to the surface of the skin. “I’m not your rival, Claire – never
“There’s nothing ridiculous about your
feelings, John.” She said softly, brushing away a stubborn curl waving like a
flag on the breeze. “I hope you know that.”
“Jamie didn’t seem to agree.” John closed his
eyes and grimaced. “I didn’t mean to disrespect you in any way, Claire. I know
what you are – who you are – to him.”
“So what did you mean?” She waited patiently as
his fingers played with a solitary dandelion, an outcast amongst the green blades
of grass, akin to himself.
“I’m in love with him.” He whispered, his ears
acquiring a faint pinkish tone – his light blue eyes serious and tormented. Was
it the first time he admitted it out loud? “I had promised myself I would never
act upon it – would never sought nothing more than his friendship. I was
decided to cherish whatever he chose to give me as my most precious gift.”
“What changed, then?” Claire nodded, observing
as an ant made its way across her finger, tickling her with its infinitesimal
steps – unbelievingly strong by nature’s standards and yet so fragile had she
chosen to crush it.
“He was so happy after practice today – so hopeful
for the Championships next week.” John explained in a choked voice, shrugging.
“For a moment I lost track of reality – I was entangled in the fantasy that I
could be part of his elation. I kissed him because I forgot myself.”
“I understand.” She gently placed the ant on
the ground beside her, contemplating as it continued its previous path,
undisturbed. “I do.” She repeated, noticing his sideways glance of doubt. “I
know how easy it is to love him. I could never reproach you for that.”
“Yes.” John bit his lip, until a drop of blood
was formed underneath his teeth – as if he had been kissed by an angry deity,
marking him for the ultimate sacrifice. His voice was low and almost angry –
not with her but with himself; with the temptations of loving a man beyond his
reach. “And how hard is it to laugh with him and not touch him? To hear him
talk and not kiss him to drink down his words – ever thirsty, ever wanting?
This mark,” He brushed the bruise on his face with moving tenderness, as a
caress of a lover. “It’s the closest thing I’ll ever have of his touch on me.”
“You took him by surprise.” Claire watched as he
finally crushed the dandelion bellow his trembling fingers, annihilating the
part of himself that stood out from the crowd. “I’m sure that’s why he hit
“Perhaps.” The young man laughed – a short and
forced sound, like thousands of cries trapped bellow his ribs, cracking every
vessel, every organ, wide open. “But now I lost him forever. I won’t have him
in any capacity – and I don’t think I can live with that notion. He demanded
that I never speak to him again – or even call him Jamie. I feel small and pathetic as only loveless beings can be.”
They sat in silence for a while, strange
companions linked by the shared love of a single man – one heart sure and
complete reaching out to glue the shards of one irredeemably broken. Claire
felt a million different emotions, battling inside her mind like opposing armies,
until she was ready to surrender to a numbing conclusion – part of her mourning
for John’s uncorresponded love; another screaming in blasphemy at him, who had dared
to steal a kiss promised only to her.
“I’m sorry I told you these things.” John
whispered, as shadows grew around them, finally making him invisible to
unwelcome eyes. “It can’t be easy hearing another soul lusting after what is
rightfully yours. How do you feel
about all this?”
“Sad.” Claire said in a soft tone and then,
looking to him with sincerity written all over her face. “Avenged.”
She knew where to find him – there was only one
place on campus that could ease his troubled soul, where he would go to release
his consuming thoughts.
Claire entered the locker room without knocking
on the door – it was late and any practice had surely ended hours ago. He was
there, sitting on the bench, a towel draped around his shoulders – he looked
worn out and battered. His fast breathing was the only audible sound besides
her own steps – he had been working out, probably repeating the dynamics she
had witnessed the day she first saw him. Once upon a time he had been consumed
with the desire of being better, of overcoming himself – now he was using the
same tactics to run away from things that awaited on the inside, dreary and
“I’ve been looking for you.” She said softly,
coming closer to him. “I thought you would come to me after what happened.”
“I needed to think.” Jamie looked at her with troubled
eyes. “Besides, I dinna know what ye’d feel - and think - about all of this.”
“I think you’re hurt.” She whispered, her thumb
touching her silver ring for strength – it seemed like a lifetime ago, the
night he had given it to her, the fountain singing around them. “And you
shouldn’t be alone.” Jamie glared at her and his lips contorted in agony.
“Ye knew.” He affirmed – almost accused – in a
raw voice, his eyes drifting away from her face. “Didn’t ye?”
“I did.” Claire admitted, leaning against the
lockers behind her.
“Why didn’t ye tell me?” Jamie asked, cleaning
the sweat of his brow with a towel. “I thought we had honesty between us,
“We do.” She inhaled deeply. “Between us. This had nothing to do with me,
Jamie – it was not my place to tell you of those suspicions. What if I had been
I would have been prepared.” He hissed, throwing the towel on the floor. “I
wouldna have been caught unaware like a blind fool.”
“I am sorry.” She breathed, sitting on the
bench – keeping a respectful distance from him. “I didn’t want to torture you
with things that might never come to pass. And John, he…”
“Dinna say his name to me!” Jamie spat out,
closing his fists over his knees. “I should have killed the man.”
“I know you didn’t punch him because he likes
men.” Claire said evenly. “I know you
Jamie. You’re better than any of those prejudices.”
“He touched me against my will!” He snickered. “And
you think I’m not entitled to be outraged?”
“I’m sure you are.” She conceded, leaning over
to search for his eyes. “But that is not all of it, is it?”
“I hurt him because he betrayed me, Claire.” He
said between his teeth, sounding as broken and ruined as John had sounded
earlier. “I opened up with him. Told him personal things, allowed him inside –
and he used it to get close to me. He abused my trust.”
“That’s not all of it either, is it?” Claire
demanded, sliding from her seat and kneeling in front of him – she held his
hands on hers, battered and swollen knuckles as medals of sorrow, and felt the
tremor in his body. “Tell me, Jamie. Why are you like this?”
“I’m angry because he got hurt!” He yelled, his
fist releasing form her grip and hitting the locker next to him with a bang.
“He left me no other choice! And now we canna go back and pretend this never
“You lost him too.” She realized, licking her
lips, watching his blue eyes moist and fierce. “But you can still amend things.”
“He robbed me of something.” He shook his head,
his hands finding their way to her face, as he held on to her. “I’m yers,
Claire. I dinna want to belong to anyone else, ever again – he had no right to
endanger that. If ye had suspected me or heard what people are saying…I canna
breathe thinking I could lose ye.”
“I’d sooner doubt my heart than yours, Jamie.”
She assured him, cradling his head between her hands. “Trust me in this – as I’ve trusted you. I
will only believe that I don’t hold your heart the day you tell me so,
yourself. Nothing else on this earth can part me from you.”
“Claire.” Jamie whispered, tugging her closer. “Claire,
I need ye so.”
She allowed him to claim her body there and
then – pressing her against him in an urgency that was a coronation of his
fears. And while he sought reassurance of his rightful place, she prayed for
those who would never know such love, alone in the darkness outside of a
It's stormy outside Jamie arrives home soaked to the skin ,Claire is at home waiting for him of course his clothes need to come off ,I'm sure she can help with that task
He should have been home by now. I’d begun pacing in the front entry of our house nearly an hour ago. The storm outside had turned our house black and I knew he was out somewhere in it. None of the lights worked and I was worried. Another crack of lightning and a roll of thunder had me pulling the ties of my bathrobe closer.
“Lord that he would be safe,” I mumbled. “And come home to me.”
Then the back door slammed open, sending a gust through the house. I ran, hoping it wasn’t the wind that had opened it. I hardly saw Jamie as I closed and bolted the door. Then I turned to him and gasped.
He looked as though he’d climbed out of a pool, not just come inside.
“S-S-S-Snch,” he muttered, jaw clenched tight against the shivers that racked his body.
We hadn’t had a storm this bad in years. He’d walked over to the manor house that morning to help Ian with some repairs, assuring me that he was a Highlander born and bred. A walk wouldn’t kill him.
I bit back my ‘I told you so’.
He was trying to speak again, but his chattering and the tenseness of his body didn’t allow it. Since he was puddling on the stone floor of the kitchen, I decided it would be best to start here.
“Can you strip?”
“C-c-cna f-f-f-feel… f-f-f-f-fngrs.”
Briskly, I peeled his wet shirt up and helped him stretch out his arms as I got it off. It slapped onto the floor where I dropped it before I moved to his boots. He lifted one foot stiffly and used me for balance as best he could before I got them off. Next were his trousers. The leather of his belt had swollen and I considered getting a pair of scissors. Just before I reached for them, it gave.
Carefully, he stepped out of the drenched denim and I got his boxers off. Of course naked and wet didn’t help anyone warm up, but it was better than standing in the wet clothes.
“Come on. Upstairs.”
I draped my robe around his broad shoulders, knowing it wouldn’t do too much. We took a long time to get up the stairs and to our bedroom. I wrapped him in as many towels as I could before shoving him beneath the quilts. I put a towel around his head to soak up the water from his hair before I lay beside him.
“F-felt l-li-ike a b-bairn,” he chattered.
“A grown man with grown children felt like a child being stripped by his wife in the kitchen?”
I rolled my eyes, holding close to him. Gradually, his shaking lessened until he was breathing and his body no longer tensed.
“You decided to walk home in that weather?” I scolded.
“Aye, weel… It wasna so bad when I left. But then one of Jenny’s sheep was out, so I put it back in the pen. Repaired the fence that fell. Then I started home and, well… The sky tore open, ken?”
I glared down at him, helping him sit up to remove some of the layers.
“Yes, I ken. You bloody Scot, I was terrified something had happened to you.”
“I didna have a way to call ye, aye?”
“Yes I know that! I just kept thinking of that nightmare I had last week, and-”
He pulled me to him, cradling my head against his chest. His skin was still chilled, but I felt him warming.
“Shh. Dinna fash, a nighean. That was a bad dream, no more.”
“We almost went over the side of a cliff in a storm like the one we’re having tonight. So when you didn’t come home tonight, all I could see in my head was you crushed beneath a horse at the bottom of a cliff.”
“Aye. I’m sorry, Claire. I didna mean to frighten ye so. But I’m home now, safe and alive. No one’s fallen off a cliff. I promise.”
I pressed my ear against his chest, counting the beats of his steady heart. I let the rhythm of him settle into my bones. Once I’d calmed myself down, I sat up and took his face between my hands.
“Don’t you ever frighten me like that again, James Fraser. Do you understand me?”
“Aye,” he said, his face serious though his eyes glinted.
“Never again,” I almost shouted, shaking his head in emphasis.
I had very little warning before his mouth was on mine. I could feel him beginning to truly warm beneath my nightgown. It seemed he had his own ideas for driving out the last of the cold.
“I was frightened too,” he said, pushing me onto my back as he climbed above me. “I was worried that I wouldna come home either. Or that ye’d go out lookin’ for me, though ye canna track for your life.”
I hit his shoulder feebly.
“I kent I had to make it back to you, no matter what.”
The pad of his large thumb circled my nipple, rubbing the flannel of my nightgown against it.
“I’m glad you didn’t give up.”
“Gi’ up? Not makin’ it back might have frightened me, but nothing compares to you when ye get in a temper.”
I raked my nails deliberately across his lower back, making him shudder and squirm.
“I’d have dragged you back by your thick red curls. And you wouldn’t have liked it one bit.”
“I expect not. But now…” the hem of my nightgown was pushed up above my belly button. Jamie settled himself between my legs, hot and hard with need. “Now I’m home.”
He punctuated the last word by pushing fully into me. I cried out, back arching into him as my legs came around his hips. He moved with determination, his body holding close to my own. The heat in us grew until it consumed us, driving away the worry and the cold from the hours before.
Despite my urging, he didn’t move any faster or harder. His huge body pinned mine down, not giving me the leverage I needed to flip us over. I was about to ask him to let me up when his left hand snaked down to our connection.
I jerked and squealed in surprise as he teased my swollen flesh. He was relentless, playing with me as he moved and I shook with a powerful orgasm.
“You,” he breathed. “You, mo chridhe, mo ghraidh, mo nighean donn. You are my home.”
“And you are mine,” I answered, even as he thrust me into another climax.
His head dropped to my shoulder when he came to the end of himself and I just held him. No part of him felt cold now, save his damp hair.
I got us under the quilts again, keeping our bodies tangled together. To have him home, safe in my arms, I couldn’t make myself stop touching him. I dropped my wrinkled nightgown over the side of the bed and sighed.
“Oh aye,” he said, smiling as his eyes closed. “Ye always drive out the cold.”