Escape: the medical school years
It wasn’t easy. He’d bitten his tongue more times than he could count. Lord knew Claire could get sharp tongued when she was stressed, but it was what he promised, and he would not break his vow. He would support Claire through medical school any way he could. Emotionally, physically, monetarily, it didn’t matter.
Night after night she spent studying in their flat. Night after night he checked on her only to find she’d fallen asleep at her desk, or on the sofa with a book spread across her chest or fallen to the floor. Night after night, he roused his wife, and led her stumbling, half-asleep to bed.
Night after night he let her rest while his body raged for her.
It never stopped, the wanting her. Some nights she tossed, muttering and restless. Some nights she thrashed and never fully settled. He would not take advantage. He would gather her in his arms, and soothe her with whispered words of love in Gaelic and rub her back until she stilled.
Some nights she turned to him in desperation, grabbed for him, begged him. Those nights he took his wife in a passion born of abstinence too long observed.
And then the drought would return.
The night before her anatomy exam Claire asked him to help her study.
“I’ll do what I can, Sassenach.” Jamie reached for her textbook.
“No. I need to you lie down, and just let me name the structures of the body.”
Jamie’s brows shot up. “Ye want me to be naked? I dinna see how that helps ye study.”
Claire flapped her hands impatiently. “It’s what we do. We work with cadavers and study the different systems in the body. It helps me if I can just go over it that way. I’m not much for memorization via a textbook.”
“Ye want me to lay there. Like a dead man. Naked as a bairn.”
“Yes. Yes, I do.” Claire looked up at her husband. “Please?”
Jamie shook his head. “I dinna understand it a bit, Sassenach, but if ye think it’ll help ye.” He pulled off his shirt, and shucked his pants. Claire had to smile at her Scottish husband. Never any underwear. Ever.
“Bottoms up or…?” he gestured to his crotch.
“On your back first.” Claire giggled.
Jamie lay on the bed, and closed his eyes. Claire got right to work starting with his skull and naming the bones. While she never actually touched him, he could tell her hands were close to his skin. He listened to her unwavering voice. He was impressed. She knew her stuff. When she finished the skeletal system she started over with the muscles, then the nervous system.
He was fine until she started in on the circulatory system. Her finger lightly traced the veins and arteries down his neck, across his shoulder, from his arms and torso to his femoral artery. He couldn’t help it. Claire’s touch never failed to arouse him.
“Sassenach.” He cracked his eyes open to cat like slits, pinning her with his deep blue eyes. “I ken ye want me to be a dead man. But my, what did ye call it? My ‘corpora cavernosa’ dinna ken that.” He closed his eyes again.
She continued with her work and asked him to roll over. Right. How, exactly does a man in my condition lie on his front, then?
Again, her delicate hands traced his body, a brush here, a light finger there. All the time naming his body parts with a sure and steady voice.
When she was finished he breathed a sigh of relief and got up, opening a drawer for his sleep pants.
Jamie looked over his shoulder at her. “Nay, Claire. I’m done.” She couldn’t seriously expect him to live through that again.
“No, Claire. I listened to ye. Ye ken fine what yer doing. Ye never faltered. Yer ready for yer exam. Now, put the textbook away and let’s get some sleep, aye?”
Claire panicked. She never felt ready for an exam. If she could just run through it one more time she’d feel so much better. “Jamie, you said you’d help!”
Jamie took a deep breath trying to control his impatience. He understood her nervousness, he truly did, but sometimes Claire’s fear got the better of her. “Claire. Come, mo graidh. Ye’ll be fine.”
Her voice was all Nurse Beauchamp, but Jamie was not her patient. Nor was he a practice dummy. What he was, was a sexually frustrated husband.
Which is why he snapped.
“Jamie, please? Please? No, Claire, that’s the one thing Jamie canna do. He canna “please”. I’ve no’ had the pleasure of my wife for weeks. So dinna make it sound like I’m being unreasonable here.”
Claire was shocked. “What the bloody hell does that mean?”
His voice was a low rasp of need. “It means, Sassenach, that if ye run yer hands o’re my body one more time I’m no’ gonna pretend to be a dead man for much longer. I’ll be very much alive wi’ you under me, knickers off, and me so deep inside ye, ye won’t know where I start and you end.”
She gasped. Claire stared into her husband’s eyes and saw the truth of it. The banked desire. That hint of loneliness that she only witnessed one other time in her life.
But dammit, he knew it would be like this. She had warned him!
When the guilt began to claw at her she fought back. “Fine. I’ll study downstairs then.”
She grabbed her textbook, took one step towards the bedroom door and found herself lifted off her feet by his arm around her waist. She shrieked, and dropped the book.
Jamie fell onto the bed taking Claire with him. “Nay, lass. Not tonight. Tonight ye come to bed on time. Wi’ me.”
Claire pushed at his chest, but he was immovable. Jamie pushed up Claire’s shirt and fastened his mouth on her breast. She moaned. It had been a long time. The sensation hit her fast and she melted. She maneuvered her shirt over her head and pressed him to her. Jamie growled in response and wrapped his arm under her hips to press her to him.
“Ifrinn, Claire. God, I’ve missed ye.” His mouth covered hers and she closed her eyes to the feeling of Jamie surrounding her. Her legs were tangled in his and she lifted her hips in silent communication. Jamie rolled to his back taking her with him. When she was on top, he unfastened the button on her jeans, yanked at the zipper and pushed them down as far as he could, hooking her panties with them. He rolled again, Claire under him, as he helped her in her attempt to kick them off.
Naked. Finally. He nudged her knees wide and settled between her thighs. Tearing his mouth from hers he looked at her. Hair wild. Whisky eyes dazed in passion. Mouth swollen. Breath coming fast. God, she was the most beautiful woman in the world. And she was his.
“Jamie. Please.” That made him smile. That kind of begging he could listen to all night.
As much as he wanted to draw this out and savour the moment, he couldn’t. Claire’s hands were hot and desperate. She wound her arm around his neck, pulling his mouth down to her, the other holding his bottom pressing him into her.
It didn’t take long, and Jamie didn’t care. They had been too long without.
Claire wrapped her arms around her husband’s back, and hugged him tight. Jamie’s weight was the most comforting feeling in the world. He grounded her, held her fears at bay. She ran her hands down his back, feeling his familiar scars like a talisman.
“Are ye studying again?” Jamie mumbled, head tucked against his wife’s neck, luxuriating in her touch.
Claire smiled against his russet curls. “Latissimus dorsi, external obliques, internal obliques, God, Jamie, you have the most amazing iliac crest.”
“I do?” Jamie laughed. “Weel, I have to admit, I’m rather fond of yer gluteus maximus, myself.” His hand slid up her side, “And yer pectoral muscles are fine, too.”
They laughed together. He was her life, her love, her strength, her rock.
“Thanks for helping me study,” she whispered.
Jamie planted a kiss on her collar bone. “As long as it ends in a hands-on practice session, it’ll be my pleasure.”