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Queen's Gambit

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Chapter 1- Welcome, Lord John

“There you are, about goddamn bloody time!”

With a hearty cry of joy, Claire leaped into her best friend’s arms and was promptly swung around in circles until both of them were too dizzy to continue.

“The drive did take forever.” His beautiful blue eyes smiled down at her and he kissed her lips briefly.”But knowing your gorgeous face was waiting for me made it well worth it.”

“I warned you.” She said moving away from him, but holding his shoulders still.

“Yes, you did, now Claire, make yourself useful grab that box, turns out my flat is on the top floor and the elevator is out.”

“Aye, aye, LJ!” Claire gave a little solute and started the tedious business of unpacking and moving John into his new flat.

By the end of the week, John was reasonably well fettled for his new assignment and had already started making inroads with the locals. He resolved to take the weekend off, starting tonight.

There was something soothing about following the twisting cobblestoned streets as he made his way to the pub. The rain falling, as it invariably did here. Yet he couldn’t wait to get out a explore the surrounding countryside. What was it about Scotland that was so different from other places? He wasn’t sure.

John often spent several weeks each year living outside London, chasing the complexities of the stories that had earned him several awards for investigative journalism.

His ability to adapt and blend seamlessly into his surroundings was essential in his line of work. As were his international contacts. Thanks in large measure to his prominent family, he had been provided entree to the upper echelons of society where most reporters were anathema.

It helped that John was fairly well known. In his circles, everyone loved gossip and covering the infamous missteps of the rich and entitled gave him a certain cache. He wasn’t troubled by it --he knew how much that set enjoyed dining out on the scandals of friends and lovers thus ensuring his continued welcome at society functions of all kinds.

Currently, he was working on a book about trafficking in stolen art and antiquities. In conjunction with this project, he picked up a contract for a feature in Vanity Fair, which would serve as a feeder piece for the book.

John had come to Edinburgh because it seemed to be at the intersection of several of the disparate pieces of the trail he had been following. If his hunches were right, the information he was uncovering would lead to an explosive expose regarding some of the best known dealers and the families they catered to.

It didn’t hurt that Claire Beauchamp was here, at least for the next few months. John knew she would be posting out for some god forsaken backwater in the fall. But he had her excellent company for the summer and he intended on enjoying her while he had her.

John pushed his way into the pub, shaking off the water that clung to his coat and looked around. The pub was noisy and crowded, but he had no trouble finding her, surrounded as she was by a raucous group commandeering the two central tables. He tapped her left shoulder and dove in for a kiss on her right cheek.

“Well, you are certainly not one of the Braw ‘n Bonnie!” Exclaimed a blonde woman sitting next to Claire. She wore a tight fitting navy blue wrap dress, red fuck-me pumps and had the greenest eyes John had ever seen.

She slammed her hand on the table to get Claire to focus back on her, “Oy! Introduce me to tall, light and handsome.” Claire laughed and did her duty.

“Geillis, meet John, John, this is Geillis Duncan, she’s an old classmate from Uni and works as an interior decorator. Geillie, LJ is certainly not of the Braw ‘n Bonnie Brotherhood but he is the oldest and dearest of my friends. We grew up together in London. John’s a writer.”

“LJ?” Gelly’s eyes sparked as John engulfed her small hands in his.

“Oh, pardon me, I forgot to add it’s John….Lord John. LJ for short.” Claire did her best (or worst, depending on your point of view) Bond voice-over and laughed at John’s grimace.

“Braw ‘n Bonnies?” John’s eyebrows wiggled in inquiry; hoping to move off of the subject of his irrelevant (to him) title.

“Them!” Geilie said as she gestured toward a wall of broad shouldered men clearly having a great time at the bar as John spun to follow her fingers.

“Once you’ve been here a couple of weeks you’ll notice it, too.” Geillis leaned in a whispered conspiratorially. “It’s like a secret society. They all know one another, trace their connections through ancient clan systems. To a man over six foot tall, drink hard and live harder.” She sighed, resting her hand on his forearm. “Sometimes, if you’re lucky you get a line of them in kilts, looking so braw and bonnie.” She sighed. “I begin to understand the appeal of the upskirt.” Her look of naughty speculation made John laugh.

“Are you based in Edinburgh?” She really was quite good looking, he thought, watching Geillis as her eyes darted about the room.

“No, I do love visiting, though. I’m normally based in London but my company, White Roses Interiors, takes on projects all over. Europe, America, as far East as Russia. I’ve several projects in the Highlands just now. Edinburgh is a fairly good central location between them. And I haven’t seen Claire in ages so I’m enjoying my time here.” Geillis looked fondly at Claire who was laughing at something a companion across the table was saying.

The evening progressed pretty much as expected from there. Claire had a large circle of friends and acquaintances who stopped by in a seeming endless stream. He got to know several of them, enjoying himself.

Geillis had left with another chap John quite liked, Joe Abernathy-- an American no less. While Geillis was a flirt, he suspected that was her default mode and it wasn’t personal.

Geillis and Joe had joined a new fitness craze called Quest for Life that paired people in teams to hike all over the place using the tool of a scavenger hunt hooked to an app and ranking various participants each week based on their speed in finding all the items. They left early citing their early start the following morning.

At first, John held up steadily, matching Claire shot for shot, but he knew well enough when to stop. In fact, they’d been here long enough that he was just beginning to sober up a bit; he’d forgotten Claire’s impressive tolerance.

She became more animated with drink and guys, as usual, flocked. It had been this way since he met her in the lunchroom at their primary school.

She’d sit in the cafeteria, unwrapping one of the creative sandwiches her Uncle Lamb had packed - fluff and bologna was his personal favorite.

Her large whiskey eyes watchful, waiting. Sure enough, a boy would wander by and try his hand at flirting with her. Next thing the poor boy knew, he’d have given up his perfectly edible ham and cheese or tuna in exchange for the Lamb Lunch Of Mystery.

He smiled as he watched her now. She was his best friend. Even after John left for boarding school, they still met whenever he was home, curling up in his parents’ parlor or Lamb’s cozy kitchen. Maybe because she had been raised by a single man who never dated, she never made any issue of John’s sexuality.

At a time when same-sex dating was still verboden, Claire, upon opening the car door to find his lips locked on Joel Matthews, had simply shrugged, asked Joel to scootch over a bit and what movie they were seeing that night. He’d kissed plenty of boys since then. So had Claire, he was sure. One of them had been him.

If pressed, he’d say he was bisexual but his interests had waxed and waned through most of his adolescence, with some phases where he preferred one gender to the exclusion of the other. Truth be told, Claire had been the first girl he had ever kissed; though not the last.

Despite their youth at the time, they were wise enough not to risk losing their friendship over any physical attraction that might lie between them.

John shook himself back to the present when Claire reached a hand over to him.

“How are you really, my dear?” He asked.

“Oh, you know,” she said but looked away.

John leaned her into the crook of his arm, kissed her forehead, offering her the simple comfort of his touch.

It had been close to six months since he’d last seen her, a quick weekend in London last time she’d been down. He thought it might have been to pick up the last of her things from storage, putting an end to the remnants of her past life with Frank Randall, but he did not ask.

She’d still been a bit of a train wreck, then; and he could see that while she said the right things, smiled in the right places, her heart had yet to stitch itself back together since her breakup with Frank a year ago.

John had been in London with her then, as well. Claire had come down for the memorial service for John’s stepfather. She’d gotten the shock of her life walking in on her fiance with one of his colleagues entwined and naked in bed.

Frank had gotten the dates of Sir George’s service mixed up and thought it was the following week. When she rushed into the church, alone, pale as a ghost, rigid with shock, he guessed what had transpired.

John hadn’t been a fan of Frank’s wandering eye but in the three years she had been dating Frank, John never had any proof so he never told what he suspected. In that moment he dearly wished he had forewarned her.

He felt especially guilty because he’d also been responsible for introducing her to Frank in the first place- a bitter regret on his part. Frank Randall was a rival reporter. He lacked John’s connections but made up for that by focusing his work on linking current events with historical antecedents. He was quite good, a unique voice in their line of work. John had never forgiven him for beating him to the punch by scooping him on a forgery of historical documents story he’d spent the better part of a year developing. The bastard had also beaten him to the presses with a book covering the same topic.

John’s phone buzzed, Hal checking in. He must remember to run Geillis’s name by Hal. John shot him a quick response and then did a double take. Good Lord! Was that the time? He needed to get Cinderella home before she turned into a pumpkin.

“Claire, love.” He said into her hair.

“Mmmh?” her eyes glanced trying to focus on him. He guessed she’d had more to drink than he realized.

“We’d best be going. We have that scavenger hunt in the morning.” He and Claire had let Joe and Geillis talk them into joining The Quest tomorrow.

For John’s part he generally tended to say yes when invited to something new as one never knew where his next story might be found. He was, however, surprised that Claire had said yes as well.

“Oh? Oh, yes of course.” she said and rose, grabbing her coat and John’s hand in a familiar and practiced swoop.

“Well, Claire, I have to admire your fortitude. I lost count after five shots.” John pulled her in close to him, throwing his arm about her shoulder as he walked her home. Her flat was a couple of blocks from his own.

John tended to act drunk when he was drunk whereas Claire hid it better than anyone he’d ever met. There was some irony in that as well, since sober, her every thought was telegraphed on her face. It was nice, the quiet, even in the rain they were both happy just to be with one another.

“So no one special?” he asked directly.

If tonight was any indication, she had yet to get over Frank. He hated to think that that spineless worm had stolen her self-confidence.

Claire shook her head, blushing slightly, feeling a vague sense of having disappointed him- both in falling for someone like Frank and then in not getting over the experience better.

John squeezed the held hand and kept his thoughts to himself.

John walked her to her room grabbed her phone, set the alarm and reminded her he would meet her for breakfast before they were loaded on the bus for the scavenger hunt.

“Why am I doing this again?” She quirked her eyebrow up at him.

“This was your idea,“ he reminded her.

“My idea?” she asked incredulous.

“You said something about how I should try and embrace the outdoors in this beautiful country and see as much of it as possible?”

“Oh, well, so I did-- that was a good idea. But how come I have to go?”

“Because I told you that I wanted your company while you were still around and besides you wanted to encourage me to get more exercise.” He teased, knowing that he was far more in shape than she.

“I must be a great friend.” she observed. John enveloped her in a warm hug and kissed her cheek.

“You are, my dear, the best.” John said sincerely and took his leave of her, promising to meet her in the morning with coffee and muffin in hand.

Chapter Text

“Well, that is the last time I let you talk me into a scavenger hunt!” Claire thought having gotten herself hopelessly turned around on her “quest”.

Frustrated, Claire gave up trying to find “red group” - the four other teammates she had been randomly paired up with about ten minutes before the bus dropped them off at the base of Cocknammon Rock.

John, that lucky arse had been put on the green team and paired with Joe Abernathy and Geillis Duncan and had leapt off the bus without a backwards glance.

At first things went swimmingly. May Ann? Mary Kate? Mary-Something or Other had taken charge and they were making splendid progress but then Claire got a blister and had to stop and dress the wound before it got any worse.

They were within four or five items of completing the list and the bus was due back shortly.

Looking at the eager faces, Claire knew she had to urge them to leave her here and keep on going. She said she would catch up, and Jim? Bob? The shorter one with the buzz cut left her his canteen and laughingly said that if they missed each other they would meet at the pub later.

Claire was so tired and sitting down had felt so good that she found she was in no hurry to chase after them even after putting her sock and shoe back on.

Eventually, though she did get moving again. That had been hours ago.

She knew she had already missed the bus back and now she was in danger of losing the trail entirely. She doggedly continued to make her way down, but nothing looked familiar to her.

Still, it was a trail, faint but distinct and had to lead somewhere-- at least she hoped so.

The shouting drew her attention over to her right. It sounded like a sizable group, perhaps she had caught up with everyone after all.

She could hear voices, but not see them, a rock outcropping was in the way. Shrugging, Claire scrambled up the cluster of stones to get a better view.

As she gazed down to the clearing on the other side, she made a small sound of surprise. A wall of men stood with their backs turned to her, nudging each other in the ribs and back as they looked down upon another of their group.

All of the men appeared to be wearing the same tartan patterned shirts. Well, that was a bit disappointing, she thought. If she was going to stumble onto a pack of “Braw n’ Bonnies” as Geillis would say, she’d have wished the tartans on the lower half of their bodies.

Then she noticed three of the men had MacKenzie across the back of the uniform shirts. Like a bolt, she realized that they were the MacKenzie cousins.

They’d been in the news after the World Polo Championships and famous for their daring and skill on the field. What were they doing all the way out here?

“Do ye think he’s alright?” One said to another.

“I ken what ye mean, Angus, that doesna look right to me, either.”

Clearly they were talking about the person in front of them, but her view was blocked by the wall of men in front of her.

Claire could tell something was off and wondered if the man was injured. She could not quite make it out; she had to cock her head to the side and squint trying to get his form into focus -- all she could make out was a leg here, an arm waving there and an occasional flash of plaid and a boot, but somehow it was all wrong.

Well, whatever was happening it would sort itself out in a minute. Just as she was about to make her way down to the clearing, the group suddenly shifted.

No wonder her impression was of such a jumbled mess, the man was standing on his head, upside down on one hand chugging a funnel of ale. And unlike his companions, he’d worn the tartan in the form of a kilt.

She was wondering how it hadn’t unfurled itself down onto his face (which she would have enjoyed immensely given all Geillie’s ribald speculation on this subject) when she noticed a small corner had come untucked from the fabric clenched tightly between his thighs.

She had a nice, unobstructed view of a firm buttock. Then, suddenly, he expertly flipped up to his feet, letting out a loud belch.

The men gave a small cheer and then he did the most extraordinary thing by moving past them to a nearby copse of trees, untethering a horse and leaping gracefully onto its back.

Claire counted the horses near the copse- six! How could she have missed that? She knew the MacKenzies were polo players for goodness sake!

A sudden yelp startled her focus back toward the young man on the horse, he’d reached the group and was shouting in Gaelic-- a language she recognized but could not speak beyond a few words here and here.

What he wanted was clear enough, though. He was now standing on the saddle, sun glinting off his unbound hair, swirls of long auburn and russet waves. As he passed the group, he clapped once, his long sleeved white shirt billowing behind him like a flag.

“Murtagh-- ’chabair e a-nis!”

A smaller man, a little older than the rest of the the group with a face as furry as her landlady Mrs. Fitz’s little terrier tossed something to the man’s waiting arms.

He called back down to the horse and dropped its reigns, now using a language of ticks and burrs to communicate.

Claire continued to watch as he untangled what he had been thrown. A long double handled rope? Why?

She had an impression of great size and well defined muscle as the man flicked his wrists and then suddenly he and the horse were jumping rope. Good God! The men all laughed.

She saw bits of money exchange hands, most of it ending up with the furry little Scot.

She’d paid no attention to her surroundings while staring unabashedly at the display before her.

Suddenly, she lost her footing and slipped helplessly off the rock outcropping and plunged gracelessly to the ground, landing face up in a whoosh, all breath knocked from her body.

She felt, rather than heard, the hoofbeats thundering over to her but was still focused on trying to get some air into her lungs.

“Christ! Beauchamp, this is so embarrassing-- why someone so accident prone wants to be a surgeon is beyond me!” she thought, gently chiding herself.

She had an impression of black boots and then a swirl of hem blocking her view of the clouds above.

He stepped over her, and just as she was about to get a wee keek up his kilt, he abruptly dropped down and squatted next to her reaching his hand slowly out to help.

“Are ye alright, lass?’ Startling blue eyes bore into her.

“No.” she thought, “I’m not.” She couldn’t find the breath to say so out loud.

Now that awareness was returning, she realized how much everything hurt.

Even his touch, light as a feather on her shoulder was enough to send ripples of shock down her arm. It hurt to breathe again.

She must have made a whimper of pain because his face winced and he shifted his weight to shout to the men behind them for water and some help.

Claire felt like she was dying but thought she would be fine eventually because, despite the pain and feeling of helplessness, she caught herself noticing that, as he shifted, his hem rose up a little more.

“Get a grip, Beauchamp!” she thought, “What kind of girl falls off a rock and still tries to sneak a peek?”

Claire’s heart gave a lurch as he swung his head around to stare at her.

“Oh God,” she wondered, mortified, “did I say that out loud?” Her face now pulsing beet red with embarrassment.

“So, ye arna a native Scot then, lass?” He said with a humorous edge she could hear clearly though she could not see his face just then, her eyes rudely riveted on his crotch.

In fairness, though, by this point in the proceedings he was practically straddling her as he reached out for the bottle of water someone was handing him.

He dribbled some into her mouth. Claire had not noticed how parched she had been. Jamie thought she looked just like a baby bird, open lips, face upturned toward the sky.

Just then, another figure dropped down to her other side. She shifted her eyes catching the full bush of facial hair at the far corner-- but she could not move her head or shift her body weight to actually look over at the newcomer.

“What’s to be done, mo charaid?” The newcomer asked.

“Wheel, no help for it, we need to sit her up. I think its the shoulder. Skelpt on the ground when she fell.” Claire saw the furry nod and braced herself.

“Ok, lass on the count of three.” He nodded at her and she responded in kind.

He began the count, “Ready then? One----” then he yanked hard and the little man scooted quickly behind her.

He braced his back against Claire’s, supporting her body weight with his so she did not have to try and do so herself through her pain. And the pain was considerable.

Jamie felt terrible as he watched the curly wig scream like she was in a horror movie for the quarter minute it took her to register the fact that she was no worse off than before.

He knew she was carrying on mostly in surprise at her new position than any added pain due to it. Jamie watched as the truth of that registered clear as day on her face and she abruptly closed her mouth.

“You said on three!” She said accusingly.

The redhead laughed, clearly understanding that she meant to blame him entirely for her undignified introduction to the group.

“Ye were already strung like a bow, I just wanted to put ye out of yer misery. Sorry, lass.” Jamie meant it.

She gave him a rueful smile in acknowledgement of the favor he had done her.

God, she was lovely-- milk and peaches skin and big brown eyes. They reminded him of something, but he couldn’t think of it just then.

He heard her quietly speak over her shoulder to Murtagh, “Thank you. Sorry for yelling, I’m sure I hurt your ears.”

Murtagh’s chuckle in response was surprisingly soothing.

Jamie put the water down and went rummaging around in his saddle bags.

“Ach, ye needna be concerned, yer doing just fine, Sassenach.” The little man said.

“I’m Claire. Claire Beauchamp. What’s a Sassenach?” She said over her shoulder.

“Its nice to meet you, Miss Beauchamp, I am Murtagh Fitzgibbons Fraser and yer rescuer and part time circus act is Jamie Fraser.”

Speaking of the devil, he squatted down in front of her again.

“Sassenach means outlander; a stranger in a strange land. Have ye a cami or tank on under that?”

Jamie pointed straight at her chest and watched as she fluffed up ready to defend her honor. Then she realized why he was asking.

Claire looked down at her shoulder as if to confirm that this was indeed the source of the waves of pain making her eyes water a bit. Instead of answering, she reached to try and undo the buttons.

“Hold!” The man did not touch Claire’s hand but wanted to get her attention. “Ye canna be doing so one handed. May I?”

She looked into his eyes, full of reassurance and dropped her hand immediately.

“Ooh, now Jamie if ye wanted to be aloon, ye just had ta’ ask.” One of the other men clustered at a distance away called out.

“Do ye need some help with that, lad? I’ll gladly jump in!” called another, setting the men off to crude laugher again.

Jamie glanced away from Claire over to the cluster of men in the background.

“Shut it Angus!” He said. “She’s fair hurt as it is and she doesna need yer pig heided observations ta’ boot.” He’d meant it as a rebuke but they ignored him.

“Besides lads, he’s got company already. I ken Murtagh is yer godfather, lad but I didna realize just how close ye were.” Teased another.

Claire felt the little man behind her give a start, obviously feeling his honor insulted.

“Aye-- Sorry if yer bent about it, Rupert, ye fat gomeral, but ye must ken that anyone with a choice betwixt yer manly charms and his, would pick his every time?”

“I’d not say that for sure,” came the response from the peanut gallery. “Ken, Murtagh is small and strong but I’ve more cushion for the-----”

“Haud yer wheesht!” Jamie tried again.

Claire could tell, however, that they were getting set for yet another round and her shirt still had several more buttons to go.

“Rupert?” She called out, trying to divert attention away from the two men who were, unlike their compatriots, trying to help her. “Rupert MacKenzie?” She called again, fairly certain she knew who he was.

“Aye, mistress, ye have heard of me, then?” Rupert rocked back and forth with an air of false modesty.

“Of course I have, you were just in the clinic last week.” Claire pointed to herself, “I’m Claire, I’m a nurse there, we drew blood recently.”

A ripple of surprise went through the group. It was news to them that Rupert had been to health services. “I have been trying to call you-- your test results came in and we need to get a list of all your girlfriends.”

Claire gave Rupert a look of opened eyed inquiry-- had Jamie not been sitting so close to her he would have missed how she struggled to keep a straight face- another second and the lads would see it too.

He stopped his work one button hole shy of finishing the job and deliberately shifted his weight to place his body in front of Claire, locking eyes on her and, at the same time, blocking their view of her face. She could not keep a straight face and felt the edges of her mouth start to quirk up. Damn her glass face!

Jamie certainly caught it and answered with his own grin. She was lying straight down to her toes, and bad at it, too. He let out a low chuckle.

She had set out to divert any further descent into immature banter and she had succeeded nicely, and in a way that neatly put Rupert in his place. To deny the visit to the clinic would only convince the others there was something to the story.

“Yer a witty one.” He said then finished the unfastening and made to whip the shirt off of her quickly, which erased any hint of mirth on Claire’s part as her arm was jostled considerably.

The next thing Claire heard was a low murmuring of Gaelic in her ear, reassuring in its rhythm though she did not understand a word of it. She realized she must have passed out when the shirt was removed.

Rupert, robbed of his earlier jocularity, grimaced while staring at her. The man next to him was hugging his own arms to his chest and making distressed sucking sounds looking at her shoulder.

Alarmed now, she whipped her head down to see it for herself and nearly fainted again.

Her shoulder was clearly out of its socket and, by the severity of the angle, she realized there was no way she could pop it back in herself. Worse, the pain was so strong she thought she wouldn’t be able to walk down the trail. She glanced at the horses, thinking.

“Nay, lass. No help for it.” Jamie said reading her thoughts and gesturing his chin in the direction of the copse. His expression was one of pity but he quickly shook it off and replaced it with something considerably more determined.

“Were ye serious about being a nurse at the clinic?” he asked. Claire shook her head no.

“But, I have considerable clinical experience, I’m almost through medical training to be a surgeon.” Jamie looked impressed.

“Good, then. Tell me what to do and let’s get on with it, aye?” He said.

Claire was thankful he had immediately recognized her expertise in the matter, a different kind of man might have still felt the need to dismiss her knowledge because she was a woman.

His hand briefly touched her unharmed shoulder in reassurance. Claire described the process. Jamie kept nodding to convey he understood how to properly position and then pop the arm back into place. He looked over at the guys.

“Dougal, Ross can ye come and hold her steady?” he asked. When all was in readiness Jamie moved his hands as if to grab her.

But then mid-reach hesitated. His hands were shaking hard enough that he lowered them at once, not wanting to distress her further. He tried again but stopped when she hissed at his light contact.

“This is the worst part.” Claire said, joking and hoping to reassure him.

“Aye, yer just so small. I dinna want to hurt you.” He confessed.

“You won’t,” she assured him, ”and I wouldn’t mind if you did.”

She sighed seeing his expression of shock and tried to explain.

“You might make it hurt for a moment or two trying to fix it,” she acknowledged, “but my shoulder hurts so much now that nothing you are going to do to me will be worse. I can’t walk, much less ride like this.”

Still, he looked doubtful.

Fighting waves of pain and losing her patience she snapped, “Pretend you’re a sadist and I am a masochist.I’ll love whatever you do to me!” She told him.

Jamie turned beet red and, seeing it, Dougal and Murtagh could not contain their laughter.

“Hey, lad, you’ve a fine touch wi’ the fillies but I reckon yer no’ so good with the lassies. I’ll do it, move out of the way.” Dougal cut in, making to switch places with him.

Jamie cut him off with a gesture, resolve stealing over his features. This time he reached confidently and in less than a minute, with an audible pop Claire’s shoulder was back in it’s socket. Jamie wasn’t sure which one of them felt more relieved. Her eyes caught the look in his, knowing at once what he’d been thinking. They smiled at one another.

“Thank you, Jamie, truly. It feels much better.”

Murtagh helped her to her feet and fashioned an improvised sling from a couple of belts. Dougal waited until Jamie was on his horse and then lifted Claire carefully up into his arms. Rupert rode over and handed Jamie a flask. Jamie drank gratefully and offered some to Claire.

“Here, lass it will make ye forget yer discomfort. We’ve a few miles to go to the stables.”

When she was done, Claire handed the flask to Rupert. He held her fingers in his for a second then handed her a small card. Claire took it confused.

“What’s this?” Her brow puckered.

“My phone number.” Rupert said with a twinkle in his eye. “Call me sometime and we can talk about my scandalous past. Though, ken, if ye’d wanted a date you coulda just asked.”

Claire laughed out loud. If she had to do something foolish she was at least in good company.

Chapter Text

Claire let the events of the past hour go leaning back in a daze as Jamie’s warmth seeped into her, and, lulled by the gentle rocking of the horse, let herself relax, her head thumping against his chest as they made their way down the mountain.

As they rode, the companionable silence would be broken by scatterings of conversations among the other men, discussing the preparations for upcoming matches. Jamie listened but did not comment.

“Not on the team, are you?” Claire asked trying to puzzle out the connections between them.

“Ah, polo? Nay. I am a fair rider, mind, but no, I am a trainer, mostly horses, ken but sometimes mules and donkeys, though a few of those are of the two legged variety.” Claire snorted.

“Are you by any chance associated with Fraser’s Friesians?” Claire suddenly realized the significance of his last name. The stables were known everywhere for dressage.

“Aye, one and the same. Though we breed and board lots of different animals and train for more than just the fancy stepping. I train pack animals to ride backwoods trails and mules and dogs for therapy and work. We also bring the dogs to visit the hospital and rehab centers too.”

“Oh, I think I saw a recent visit at Children’s Hospital, the children were so happy and the dogs were very loving.” She said.

“That would have been Jenny, my sister, she takes the dogs round for visits every two or three weeks. She says whenever her husband Ian is getting on her nerves it gives her proper perspective.” Claire laughed.

“And you are working with the National Polo Club this season?” She asked.

“A wee bit. I travel a fair amount with the work I do so I canna commit to a full season. Do ye ken much about the sport?” He asked.

“Not a thing, except there are horses and mallets and tall boots.” Claire admitted.

“Aye, true enough. The horses are called ponies but they arna’. A good polo pony is verra fast, smart but needs to be taught the sport, same as the rider, or maybe more so because they are switched out every few minutes and so a pairing of horse and rider changes often. The horse has to respond correctly even when the rider is unfamiliar and gives imperfect signals. So, I come in and work wi’ them so they keep sharp.” Claire was looking straight ahead but could feel his smile nevertheless.

“Today though, had nothing to do with polo? I mean you are all a bit far from a field up here, aren’t you?” she asked. He grunted in acknowledgement.

“Ach, I have a string of horses I’m breaking for trail riding. Dougal is my uncle, Rupert my cousin, ken? So out here in the mountains I’m no’ the owner of Fraser’s Friesians and they’re no’ the best polo riders to come out of Scotland in a decade. We’re just lads out for an afternoon of fun.”

“Do you like your work?”

“Aye, I do. We’re still building the bloodlines -- cattle cost dear, ye ken? But my life is my own and I like to think I do a bit of good in the process.”

“It sounds lovely, you have a unique skill set.” She complimented. She shifted a bit, trying to get comfortable. The movement made Jamie notice things about Mistress Beauchamp he had not been aware of before.

“Ach, no’ really just a little exotic maybe for the times we live in. No so impressive as the doctoring ye do.” He said, and Claire inclined her head in acknowledgement. Their sunny day was fast disappearing in a windy rush of clouds overhead that had the temperature cooling considerably. Jamie could see goosebumps appear along her arms. He pulled her to him, adjusting her seat to ease her position.

“Better?” he asked. She nodded.

Neither of them commented on the fact that she was now sitting pretty much on his lap. Jamie because, despite the fact that between her lovely round arse lodged firmly between his legs and the smell of her hair in his nose, he was in danger of getting an erection which the kilt would only hide for so long, she was the best thing he'd ever held in his arms. Claire because she felt like she had just curled up into a furnace and reveled in the solid, warm heat of him.

An hour later, the stables came into view. Cell service was regained and Claire was able to reach Joe on his mobile to arrange for a ride back to her flat. After bidding the riding group goodbye, Jamie settled her on the small sofa in his office to await her friend while he tended to the horses, allowing the rhythmic movement of curry comb calm his jumbled thoughts but his mind kept turning again and again to Claire Beauchamp. Finally he tossed the comb down with a sigh.

“Mi’lord?” came a surprised inquiry in a bit of a French accent.

“Fergus, lad, can ye put Donas in the paddock and see that Thistle’s hoof is tended to?”

“Where are you going?”

“To see if I can talk a lass into a date.”

“A date, with wh-- oh in your office? The lady with the big ---” Fergus made a bawdy gesture in front of his chest. Jamie smiled before he caught himself and schooled his features to a more respectful neutral.

“Her name is Claire, and as she is indeed a lady, ye can keep yer mind out of the gutter, wee little gomeral, ken?”

“Oui, Mi’lord!” and all but muscled Jamie out of the way and off in the direction of his office.

Jamie had long since given up trying to get Fergus to call him Jamie. It had started years before. Fergus was one of several children participating in a community service program at the stables. They were part of a special group of at risk youth who spent time at Frasers caring for the animals, training them, being responsible for their needs.

It was one of Jamie’s favorite endeavors. For most of their lives these kids had not been asked to take initiative or responsibility. Most knew about dogs, of course, but not given the chance to work one on one teaching them specific tricks and very few had contact with larger animals.

During the first couple of weeks, this boy had been very quiet, withdrawn. Jamie had learned a bit about all of them, that was part of the process.

His name was Claudel. His mother had moved here from Paris following a boyfriend when he was around ten and he was fourteen when he first came to the stables. Increasingly getting into trouble, shoplifting, petty theft, hanging out with an older, more troublesome crowd.

After being caught joyriding in someone else’s car, he was offered a diversion program instead of jail. His protection officer had recommend Frasers for his community service hours.

As the weeks progressed, Jamie watched him. He was very good with the horses. Donas, who was a prima donna and difficult for anyone but Jamie or Murtagh to manage, tolerated Fergus very well and Jamie trusted the instincts of the animals.

He also had very clever hands, which Jamie discovered after Fergus had picked his pocket, taking a small metal pin, called a snake, which fit the latch mechanism of the paddock gate. He needed that pin but he also wanted to help the kid

“Claudel, is it? That’s my snake!” Jamie grabbed the snake back.

“I hate that name,” he retorted, rigid and white with apprehension, thinking his next stop would be a police car.

“Mmmph,” Jamie considered, trying to find a way to connect with the boy. “Well, I dinna have to call ye that but I must call ye something. How about Fergus?”

“Fergoose?” He responded in his lingering Parisian accent.

Jamie nodded and so did Fergus. Jamie then surprised him with a proposal to hire him to work at the stables after school, during weekends and breaks.

The offer was so welcome and unexpected that the newly christened Fergus had exclaimed, “Dieu soit loue!” an expression of habit he used with some frequency.

Over time Fergus applied it to Jamie himself, anglicized and shortened, to Mi’lord.

In the half-dozen or so years since, Fergus had been by Jamie’s side as he built the international reputation of the stables. As his mother grew more and more unstable, Fergus started living with Jamie. After she died, he changed his last name to Fraser.

An unfortunate accident while in the line of duty resulted in Fergus’s losing his left hand. He’d saved Jamie’s life that day and Jamie and Jenny had rallied around him to support him as best they could under his new circumstances. They’d not let him wallow in self-pity but forced him back to work as soon as they may, mostly to give him confidence that he would find a new future.

The injury had limited his horse tending duties but resulted in discovering what an exceptionally gifted riding coach Fergus was. He was light boned, incredibly graceful and sat atop a horse as if the the manor born.

More importantly, clients respected him enormously, he had the haughty disposition of a nobleman condescending to impart some of the wisdom running through his blue blood.

The irony of the entire matter was that as Fergus picked up more clients on the continent, he came to the attention of the family of the Comte St. Germain. Claudel St. Germain might-- or might not-- be the first son of the recently deceased Comte and his first wife-- a circumstance which was of grave importance to the current widow and second son of the Comte.

The investigation and attendant court battle, none of which Fergus had much interest in, had been raging this past year and a half. No one in high society knew what to make of this extraordinary turn of events. How does one address a former one-handed stable boy turned riding coach and possible heir to one of the greatest fortunes in Europe?

As a result, Jamie and Fergus, who had been familiar sights at equine functions for several years found themselves now welcomed in all the society functions surrounding them as well and with open arms. No one wanted to be on the wrong side of a perceived insult to either Fraser.

Both Frasers, though, still spent a good part of each day generally razzing on one another. Neither of them- Lord Broch Turach nor the putative Comte St. Germain-- took their titles seriously. After all, horse shite needs to be mucked out of the stable no matter what name is stamped on the back of the man holding the pitchfork.

Fergus now watched as Jamie made his way into the main offices adjacent to the paddock. He had observed that while Mi’lord was generally a great judge of horseflesh, he knew squat about women.

When he dated, he had the unfortunate habit of picking immature, superficial types, ones whose personalities would start to grate just as soon as the flirting attraction wore off.

The woman he rode in with was something else entirely. She was attractive to be sure, beautiful pale skin, lovely figure and a smile that reached her eyes but she was no model. She also, in a refreshing change, was witty, exchanging banter as the clan all rode in and clearly holding her own.

He watched from the paddock some time later as she was escorted to her friend’s car and smiled in satisfaction as she and Mi’lord exchanged their contact information.

Chapter Text

Claire clutched her yellow laminated badge tightly in her hand as she cleared security and was ushered into the tournament’s staging area. 

Her first polo match. She hadn’t understood the rules but the people watching was extraordinary.  Jamie needed to work the event, so Claire contented herself with moving between groups of bystanders. At ease in most social situations, she’d soon picked up enough information to be able to follow the action. When it was over, he sent her a text asking her to meet him by the stables.

It was surprisingly tame considering that the teams had left the field just twenty minutes ago. The uneven, muddy ground here was a marked contrast to the solid green of the field behind her.  Claire stepped cautiously, she had quaffed down a couple of drinks during the match. Not enough to be intoxicated, but enough to not be too self-conscious.

She had not been remotely tempted by anyone she had met in the past several months but Jamie seemed to have the trick of slipping under her defenses. Her week had been spent with a pleasant sense of anticipation.

She wasn’t exactly sure where to find Jamie and was reaching for her phone when it buzzed. “Look left” it said, she turned her head but saw nothing. The phone buzzed again, “other left” it said.

She whirled to find him not ten feet from her. He must have been walking towards her from the group of outbuildings she had seen from the stands. Jamie stood in front of her, grinning. An awkward expression crossed his face and he leaned in to kiss her cheek at the same moment she turned her head.

Their lips met unexpectedly and his first impulse was to pull back but then he felt her respond, moving into the kiss with enthusiasm. Her tongue flickered along his bottom lip, silently asking for entry. He obliged. Claire stepped closer.  She smelled like the ground after a hard rain, the pure smell of clean earth and tasted like whisky. He realized that her eyes were the same color as his favorite single malt.

Her responsiveness to him caught him off guard and he couldn’t help the low sound that he made when her arms came around him.  His hand moved without his conscious direction and settled into the back of her head. Her hair as soft as he imagined. Aye, he spent way too much time the past week lost in daydreams.

His fantasies ran from chaste touches to greedy bacchanals and he’d moved through his days sporting a perpetual half-hard mast which was decidedly inconvenient given his profession. Not that his nights were any better, but at least he found some relief when thinking of wrapping her curls around his fingers.

Having her in his arms for real was intoxicating, fisting silk ringlets, he deepened the kiss. The reckless and heady joy of mutual passion. Her soft needy sounds spurring him on.

All Claire wanted to do was rub against him like cat mewling on her favorite scratching post. The feel of his fingers in her hair causing her nipples to tighten in response.

She had thought more about his hands in the past week than his voice, which was sexy as hell. But she’d seen those hands employed in work requiring strength and subtlety, had imagined what they might do on her skin, his fingers, dextrous, quick and light.  

Nights spent this week with her own fingers tracing the intimate skin of her body,  fantasizing about such power held tightly under reigns-- no more apt a metaphor, surely? What was it about men and horses?

Had anyone asked, Claire would have said that the accidental press of his lips on hers was too good an opportunity to pass up and her evil twin goaded her. The emotions he stirred up were unexpectedly possessive.

She had no right to feel this way, to start something that might promise more than she could give. She reminded herself that she’d be leaving at the end of the summer and gone for several months.

With a monumental effort of will she broke away.  He looked stunned, like a trout tickled out of the water and bashed up against a rock.

“I am so glad we got that out of the way!” She exclaimed, needing to lighten the mood.  Claire felt the same way Jamie looked but was desperate not to show it. “Now we can focus on other things!”

“Other things?” Jamie echoed, befuddled.

“Yes, you know instead of all that tension that comes toward the end of an evening wondering if you are going to kiss me. Since you have, we can cross it off the list and relax.” She beamed up at him affecting a deliberately stupid expression. She silently begged Jamie to just go with it. Jamie, however, was having none of it, stubborn Scot!

“Sassenach, if ye think that kiss’ll help me focus on something other than how much I look forward to doing it again, I must tell ye I am no’ of the same mind as you. Come here, lass,” he said as he moved in for the kill.

Chapter Text

Claire couldn’t remember when she’d had a better first date. Though she suspected that the original plan, given the care with which they’d both taken in appearance, was a fancy table-cloth kind of place.

 

As they left the field in Jamie’s classic MG, he’d eyed her shoes and asked if she, perchance, might have a more serviceable pair? A quick detour to her car and they were off.

 

As their destination came into focus, Jamie watched Claire twist her curls into a bun, securing it with what looked like two short chopsticks. Next, she slid her heels off wedging her feet into the no lace sneakers she’d unearthed from an old gym bag in her trunk. They did nothing for the outfit, as he suspected she knew; and both of them were overdressed for the amusement park, but he loved the fact that she went along with it anyway.

 

They ate at a snack shack with an expansive menu— that is just so long as you were in the mood for something coated in batter and submerged in oil. Aye, in that case, the world was your —deep fried— oyster. They polished off the last of the thin slices of pickle, mutually agreed to skip the fried bacon wrapped waffle on a stick— though Claire made a note of the shack’s location in case of need later, and explored, holding hands and people watching.

 

She challenged him when the track appeared. The sight of Jamie folding his huge frame into the mini-race car made her laugh. He did too, but not for long. Five minutes in and he was muttering Gaelic curses alternated by Gaelic prayers trying to keep her in his sight line.

 

Claire was a terrible driver. She accelerated into and not out of the curves, cut off everyone in her path, and passed slower cars with reckless abandon. Later, he’d need to tell her the cars came equipped with brakes, too. At the moment she only seemed aware of the gas and clutch.

 

She was worse than Fergus and he had only the one hand! For all that he’d driven with his heart in his throat, he kept pace with her and thought he could take her when they hit the last straightaway; but, alas, she managed to hold him off and eek out the win. She spent the next hour rubbing it in. Maybe Jamie should have taken umbrage with her poor sportsmanship, but Claire was so childishly pleased with herself he gladly took the ribbing.

 

Though, in order settle his oh so delicately fragile nerves, not to mention his shattered ego, Jamie demanded that she win him a prize in compensation. Claire laughingly agreed. Jamie placed a courteous hand along her backside and urged her to go first through the crowded motorway exit, then hung back a little to admire the way her round arse bounced and jiggled as she strode confidently forward.

 

“How about this one?” Jamie asked, leaning against the wall near a high striker game.  Claire looked over the size of the long mallet he was resting against his thigh.

 

“You expect me to swing that thing?” She batted her lashes, letting him know she’d used a bawdy tone on purpose.

 

“It’s no’ that heavy, maybe a bit o’re thick round the handle...” He protested while wagging his eyebrows suggestively.

 

“Hmm, it is quite impressive, but I’m out of practice. I might hurt one of us.” She prevaricated.

 

He grinned wolfishly and shoved off, coming around the booth to kiss her. Jamie felt it again, that spark that turned his insides to jelly.  In his surprise he got carried away, caressing her bottom lip with his tongue. Her moan sent shivers down his spine. When he felt her hips start to slowly, almost imperceptibly, move against him, he reluctantly broke away.

 

Big, befuddled brown blinked at lust-filled blue. He kissed her playfully on the nose before placing her hand in the crook of his arm, striding forward together once again.

 

“Will that one do you?” She gestured toward the basketball hoops.

 

“No, they only have shot glasses to win.” Jamie shook his head. “You’ll think my only goal is to get ye drunk and have my way with ye. Besides I want something I can cuddle.”

 

He brought his arm up and across her shoulders and side hugged her. An explosion of warmth burst through Claire. She butted her head against his upper arm in playful affection.

 

He snagged a cotton candy from a nearby stall and they stepped aside to share the treat. He was distracted momentarily watching the spun sugar dissolve on her tongue and lips as she nibbled. Jamie didn’t realize he’d been staring until her hand came up to her face, brushing at nothing along her cheek.

 

“What?” She asked.

 

“N-nothing, lass.” Jamie grabbed the last of their treat in a huge chunk that he tried to polish off in one bite to cover his awkwardness. She was grinning at him.

 

“Stop, you’ve got some right….” Claire made a gesture over her own face.

 

Jamie tried to clean himself up but his fingertips only smeared it. Claire pulled his hand away, leaning against him. He gasped as she licked him slowly and rather thoroughly along his jawline. The wet, warm slide of it made his face flush.

 

She then moved his sticky finger up to her mouth. The pull of firm and assured suction. Seeing his stunned expression she giggled. Then shrugged.

 

“No napkins.” She told him by way of explanation and did the same thing with his other finger.

 

“Better?” She chuckled, butterfly lips gentle against his ear.

 

As she twisted away from him, Jamie tugged her back, fitting her body to his and claimed her with his mouth. This wasn’t a gentle, getting to know you kind of kiss. It was hot and a little rough and then he groaned. Her stomach flipped over. His teeth bit softly on her earlobe and his fingers delicately squeezed her butt. A moan and a sigh as she moved her body closer to his.

 

“Aye, much better, Sassenach.” He said gruffly, yanking her dazed, stutter-stepping form back onto the midway path.

 

They finally settled on a water gun game. The first one to fill the clown’s mouth and pop the balloon won an oversized teddy bear. Jamie, by this point, felt a curious kinship with the poor, beleaguered clown.

 

Claire wanted to win just to watch this masculine hottie walk through the fairgrounds carrying his plushy.

 

Side by side on the little stools she assessed her chances. He was undeniably taller and arm reach would favor him. Maybe her aim would be truer? Not bloody likely, she thought. No help for it, she’d need to cheat.

 

Other players occupied the stools to their left and right. A blonde girl of about twelve chewing her lip and casting sidelong glances sat next to Jamie, a six year old with a buzz cut and no front teeth was at the far end, his father sat next to him with a little girl in his lap, helping her lift the gun, a shy 16 year old boy in glasses leaned against the counter three stools from Claire.

 

The bell rang and she and Jamie got out to the early lead. It was neck and neck between them until Claire put her plan into action. She moved the gun into her far hand and cocked her hip suggestively, leaning over to occupy more of his line of sight. She shrugged her shoulders and her blouse went a little askew increasing the gap between breasts that had, until then, been tastefully covered but that now revealed themselves to be encased in edges of lace and navy blue silk.

 

Jamie remembered her shape well enough from the day they met and he was entranced. He jumped when he heard a loud pop followed by a cascade of disco lights announcing Claire as the winner. The minx smirked at him when he finally lifted his eyes from her cleavage to her face and chocolate met ocean.

 

She let him pick out the color, he chose violet and fluffy as all get out. He laughingly posed with it while she took a few snaps on her phone. As they strolled away, she caught a glimpse of the downcast ‘tween looking at the bear with longing. Claire touched his arm then inclined her head toward the girl. Jamie smiled in understanding.

 

“Lass?” Jamie asked.

 

“Aye?” The girl had beautiful green eyes.

 

“I just remembered, I dinna have any room in my car for this to fit. Would ye do me the favor of giving it a good home?”

 

“Oh yes!” She squeaked. She joyfully hugged it to her. “Gigi— did ye see? He’s mine!”

 

Claire’s eyebrows rose, the bear looked feminine to her, especially with the red bow glued onto the ear but so what? To each his-- or her--own.

 

“Did ye thank him, Laoghaire?” An older woman, presumably Gigi— perhaps a grandmother? —gently chided.

 

“Oh, yer pardon. I thank you, truly!” She beamed at Jamie then skipped away to catch up to her family.  

 

As they wandered to the far edge of the park, they stumbled onto a local whisky distiller's showcase. Four brands offered samples. Jamie was driving so he took small sips of his shots, giving the rest of them to Claire.

 

By the end, of the demonstration, she couldn’t tell one flavor from another and had a particular glow, becoming giddy and more affectionate. Her fingers rubbed, massaged, pulsed and stroked him as they wandered over his hand, shoulder, ribcage and waist. Her bun loosened and her face was framed by errant strands of every color brown imaginable. He’d thought her attractive, confident and intelligent but watching her shift between adorable and sexy as hell did peculiar things to his insides.

 

Their last stop of the evening had them playing mini-golf, randomly paired up with a couple that seemed to actually know how to play.

 

Claire felt him press against her, wrapping his arms tightly around her to sidestep to the other side, pretending the windmill built over the green left him no other pathway. She giggled. Two could play at that game!

 

She deliberately pressed her breasts against his forearms holding him immobile for an extra few seconds releasing him when she heard the  gasp. Was his decision to change the venue of their date to the park a bid to try to create a little distance from their intense physical response to one another at the polo field? If so, the plan had backfired spectacularly; on the other hand, if he’d wanted to increase the opportunity for touching and teasing, Jamie was a brilliant tactician. They hadn’t been able to stop themselves from connecting: eyes, hands, limbs, lips.

 

Claire and Jamie chuckled at the exasperated looks they were getting from the other half of their foursome. It took the two of them double the time to finish each hole. Jamie was coordinated and skilled, but distracted by the need to touch and kiss her.  

 

When he came behind her to help position her arms on the putter, Claire wriggled her butt trying to settle into the right position.

 

“Is that better?” Her expression all innocence and light.

 

To her surprise, Jamie didn’t back down but instead squeezed her arms harder together, pinning them as his leg moved deliberately between hers. He felt her shiver against him. She rolled her hips again, though not on purpose, this time.

 

“No’ quite, lass. Ye need to get a solid hold on the shaft.” His voice set tight against her ear sent shockwaves straight to her core.

 

“So, you think it needs to be firmer?” Claire’s backside rubbed up and down as she slowly flexed her buttocks against him. He pushed himself slightly forward so she could feel him harden and laughed low and dirty.

 

“If it gets any firmer, Sassenach, I’m likely to faint.” He said as he nipped her neck.

 

Claire grinned, looking her fill over her shoulder. God, he was lovely. Broad shoulders, russet hair, five o’clock shadow. She turned a bit in his arms, drowning again in the depth of his eyes. The tip of his tongue darted out and moistened his lips, his hand moved to the back of her head.

 

Something shifted. The world, maybe, on it’s axis.

 

He kissed her with such need and longing that she could not help but kiss him back, the whole evening of teasing catching up to her as they were aroused to recklessness once more.

 

She felt him through the fabric of her crepe pants and his dress chinos, striking her perfectly. Ripples of pleasure exploded along her core and she heard herself moan. She had to break the kiss then, suddenly unnerved by the renewed intensity.

 

“Jamie?” She sought reassurance. After Frank, she could not trust her impulses.

 

“Aye, Claire, it's no’ just you, I, as well.” He agreed.

 

He as well what? Was a little frightened? Turned on as hell?

 

When she crouched down to clear her ball from the green, she noticed her arousal was making her panties wet.

 

Jamie had been kneeling himself. She hesitated when she saw him pick up her scent. He inclined his head ever so slightly and took in a deep breath through his nose, audible to her.

 

Her face flamed bright red. He steadied her, his hand on her arm, helping her stand. He didn’t laugh or even smile. He just stared at her and then squeezed her upper arm hard.

 

Oh God, what if she fucked this up? What if he, like Frank, thought her behavior vulgar? Claire tried to calm her racing thoughts but simply could not. He put her senses on overload.  

 

It was the “ Please ” that did it.

 

Claire couldn’t believe she had said it out loud. Jamie’s response was instantaneous. He gripped her hand and drew her forward, careless in his haste. He needed to be alone with her. Now.

 

One minute they were turning in their putters and the next they were at the car. She had no memory of that journey even though it must have taken a little time.

 

The parking lights and a three-quarter moon made it easy to spot his car. Once there, he positioned her against car’s frame and kissed her deeply, tongue invading with no hesitation, all politeness gone, hips grinding as he pinned her.

 

A cool wind rose up, tearing more curls of her hair from the confines of her makeshift bun and plastering his shirt to his back. He felt gooseflesh on her arms when she reached down and rubbed him through his pants.

 

He moaned and pressed himself harder to her. Jamie kissed her neck, his thumb flickering over a hard nipple. His index finger rubbing the lace, then the slick fabric covering her breast. She panted his name. Despite the colder air, they were melting into one another.

 

She moved her fingers to the waistband of his pants and started to undo them. When Jamie felt the button pop, he recalled where they were-- standing exposed in front of the world. He hissed in frustration, groaning and urging her hands away as his own shook trying to get the key into her door’s lock.

 

Claire’s face crumbled a little misinterpreting his action as a rejection but Jamie didn’t notice. He needed to get her safely inside the car, shielded from curious eyes. He told himself that as much as they wanted to keep playing, this was not the right place for it. A cry of triumph as he got the door open and eased her into the seat.

 

Down low, the interior of the car was darker but not enough for the privacy they needed. Yet he had to taste her again even as he leaned across her body and wrapped the seat belt around her lap. His tongue was invading her mouth when she heard the click of the clasp, locking her in place. He moaned as her hands gripped the back of his head returning the kiss.

 

A high excited noise exploded from her when Claire felt him pressing against her core. The joy of feeling someone else's fingers there after months of only her own for company was her undoing.

 

Clockwise, deep and firm, he groaned feeling her spread her legs wider. His assured, confident strokes had her hips rising and falling in time with his caresses. Her thin outfit provided no real barrier. He could feel how wet she was even through the fabric.  He pressed harder and his fingertips grew damp.

 

Holy Mother of God! She smelled like salvation. She was moaning loudly in time with his thrusting digits.

 

“Shhh, Sassenach,” he said, “Ye dinna want to be overheard.”

 

He needed to be inside her.  Where could they go?

 

Jamie started to move his hand from between her legs and retreat. Her fingers shot out and gripped his wrist forcing him to remain where he was.

 

“I need you.” She panted.

 

Claire’s own hand covered his. She squeezed her thighs together and rode their hands. She was making little sounds on each turn.

 

He placed two fingers from his other hand over her lips. “Shhh.” He reminded her. She nodded understanding.  

 

His face was so close to hers that he felt each breath puff against him. Her lips parted, seeking to share her breath with his.

 

She was hot and wet and wild and he’d never felt anything like the pull of her in his life. The sounds she made rose and fell in time with his heartbeat.

 

Someone shouted just over his left shoulder. He heard a dog barking in the distance. A child’s crying rose steadily in pitch and volume.

 

“Claire,” he panted, “we’re too exposed, parked here. We canna.”

 

With a supreme effort, he jerked his hand from hers, almost thrusting it back hearing her whimpering. He slammed her door closed. He ran around the back of the car, jumping in and turning the ignition, tires squealing as he shifted gears. Jamie’s attention was focused on making sure he didn’t hit anything in his haste to exit the parking lot.

 

Claire looked at him, not knowing him well enough to read his expression. His jaw was clenched tight and his fingers white knuckled the steering wheel but she saw how they trembled when he shifted gears.

 

Her blood had cooled enough to let in rational thought. What the hell had just happened? Had she-- oh God-- she’d practically begged him to fuck her in full view of anyone walking by. Was he angry? Disgusted by her?

 

Her face turned scarlet imagining what he must think of her, reaching new shades of crimson as she admitted to herself that she’d been-- still felt — turned on by it. A small groan of shame escaped her lips.

 

Jamie glanced over at her. Claire was staring straight out the windshield. Her hands gripped tight in her lap. Her face was flushed and her clothes in disarray.

 

Jamie’s heartbeat had finally slowed and he took a moment for reflection. What had he done? Had he-- Jesus - - he’d practically taken her in a fucking parking lot. Did she think him crass and repulsive?

 

A sense of embarrassment flushed through him, growing more acute as he admitted how much he’d enjoyed it, how aroused he was thinking of it even now.

 

Claire kept her hands folded demurely in her lap, thinking back to another time, another man who, once upon a time, made her heart beat faster and breath come short.

 

“Claire, come here, baby.,” Frank was caressing her, slowly and expertly slipping her dress from her shoulders, tracing the line of his fingers with his lips. He closed his mouth on her nipple. Claire started to unbuckle his pants, seconds from unzipping and reaching in.

 

“What are you doing, Claire?” Frank asked.

 

The tone of his voice oddly parental which brought Claire up short. It was a tone she knew from interactions at friend’s houses growing up but not from personal experience. Her parents died when she was too young to have such specific memories and her Uncle Lamb never used such a tone when talking with her. He treated her as a member of his family, to be sure but never in substitute of her father.

 

Claire’s fear of being dumped at a boarding school was so great she would have done anything to not be stuck away inside a moldering old school. So she resolved to mold herself to his life, making as little fuss as possible for a young girl in an unfamiliar setting.

 

Claire adjusted to fit into Lamb’s life and not the other way around. They got on famously, but in part this was due to Claire’s determination not to give Lamb any reason to rethink their living situation. If he never acted like her father it was because Claire’s behavior stayed within tolerable limits.   

 

Claire understood Frank’s tone and she didn’t like it. Her backbone snapped into place and she looked him in the eye.

 

“Taking your pants off.” She said reasonably.

 

Frank stared at her like she had just farted. She felt an absurd need to apologize, though, for what, she was uncertain. Frank sensed her dungeon and kissed her.  

 

“I appreciate you wanting to help, my darling; but things will go much better for you if you let me do that, hmmm?”

 

Frank’s mild rebuke brought her up short. Help him? She wasn’t trying to help him, she wanted to touch him, taste him, do to him the things he was doing to her. Claire couldn’t give voice to her feelings and simply nodded her head in acquiescence. He was, after all, fifteen years her senior.

 

They had a good sex life. He was a polished and accomplished lover.  Older and wiser, he understood these things better than she did. She did like what he did to her, quite a lot truth be told. It was just that she wanted do the same, explore his body, touch him and make him fall apart like he did to her.

 

The pattern had been set, though, and Claire found herself demurring in bed and over time, out of it. Patiently, Frank showed her in words and actions how she should behave and, as with Lamb, Claire found herself molding around his influence, shaping herself to fit his life. If she made no demands, he would not find fault. Love, security, companionship all within reach as long as she could conform. Well, Claire knew how to do that well enough.

 

Her efforts were rewarded with praise and reaffirmation of his love for her. He was so handsome, smart and sophisticated. Everyone in his set was older than she was. At a time when she was still going to uni, trying to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, his friends were having babies and discussing pensions.

 

It was all very interesting to be sure, just sometimes she found it hard to relate to cocktail parties, dinner invitations, country clubs on weekends. Still, there were compensations. She loved watching him shave in the mornings, making him coffee, the domesticated life.

 

When she lost herself, begging to be taken hard and sweet, whispering to him the naughty thoughts filling her head, Frank would immediately withdraw his affection, creating distance.  

 

“Claire, darling, I am sure you did not realize how coarse that sounded.” He would say. “Claire, stop, not here, anyone could walk in.” The next few days would lack affectionate touches, thoughtful gifts, texts to see how the day was going. He was as remote as an island. Unreachable by her.

 

She always felt so gauche. The discord between them made her heart ache. She would apologize and Frank would try and sooth her feelings. She knew he felt he was being patient and understanding with her, but just once she wanted to be able to act on what she wanted, without worrying about how he would react, without second guessing that what she was doing was wrong.

 

He was the one who encouraged her to become a nurse but Claire wanted more. Frank wanted her to be his wife and for them to get pregnant right away.

 

“Claire, marry me, I want to spend the rest of my life with you, I want us to have beautiful curly haired Randall babies.” He had said when he proposed.

 

“How many?” Claire laughed.

 

“A dozen.” He answered promptly smiling at her.

 

“Hmm, that seems like a lot.” She pretended to consider a counteroffer.

 

“Well, I suppose six will do.” He kissed her, “four boys and two girls.”

 

“You can special order them?” She asked but then turned serious. “Frank, I want to be your wife, of course I do! I want children someday but you know I sent my applications off for medical school.”

 

“You don’t even know if you will get in.” Frank kissed her forehead, oblivious to the hurt his statement caused. “And you don’t have to go even if you do. Claire Randall, RN has a lovely ring to it, doesn’t it?” He held her hands and kissed them.

 

“Dr. Randall sounds better.” Claire squeezed his hands back, willing him to understand, to support her— not just begrudge her her dream, knowing in her heart that she needed to become a doctor, it was what she was meant to do.

 

They decided to put off any decisions until she heard back from the universities she had applied to. Engaged they were but no details on dates or ceremony were discussed.  Yet, in the month that followed he could not stop the occasional comment that came sideways, usually said with a smile as if in jest but the dart would hit home nevertheless.

 

“Why do you want to be a doctor? Claire, surely you know how hard it would be to be in that field as a young mother?” or  “Do you really think you should enter such a male dominated field of study?” he would ask. “Not many women surgeons.” would come an off-hand comment or, “there is no day care in the doctor’s lounge.”  It bothered her that he always seemed to say such things and then kiss her engagement ring after.

 

After she enrolled and transferred to Scotland for her surgical program, Frank started picking fights with her, taking issue with everything she did or said. When she walked in on him and one of his students, it broke her.  Was it wrong to expect so much when she was willing to give just as much in return?

 

Heartbroken, Claire retreated into herself, licking her wounds for months. She’d tried dating other men since but never more than a coffee or quick after work drink. Her heart wasn’t in it. She felt so uncomfortable in her skin.

 

John and Joe let her wallow for a long time but then finally staged an intervention.

 

“Darling, I love you,” John held her hand to his heart. “He wasn’t the one for you, Claire. But I promise there is a man out there just perfect for you. You have to find a way to move on with your life. Take a leap of faith and go find him, please. And eat something my dear. You’re so skinny even your ass is flat.” He chided but she could see the genuine concern in his eyes.

 

Joe put it more bluntly. “Physician, heal thyself. How can we expect our patients to follow our advice regarding good mental health care if we ourselves feel a stigma about seeking help? It's the worst kind of hypocrisy. You need tools to move past this. And even though I know you’ve always been a skinny broad with too much hair, for the record, John’s right. That great ass of yours is suffering.” He kissed her forehead. “Show me that you are are as brilliant a patient as you are a doctor and go see someone.”

 

Six months ago, Claire had finally, reluctantly and with huge reservations, started counseling. Three months ago, she wouldn’t have accepted Jamie’s invitation. This minute, she was not entirely sure whether she was happy about that fact as heat continued to inflame her face.

 

His hand on hers startled her out of her reverie. He’d pulled off onto a tree lined, secluded road.

 

“Back way to the polo barns.” Jamie told her, correctly reading her confusion.

 

Now she could vaguely make out the parking area of the polo field off in the distance. She hadn’t been paying attention to their surroundings.

 

The light of the moon was enough to see him but the field and surrounding area was dark and deserted. She couldn’t see any lights on near the stables.

 

He came out of the driver’s side and walked around the car. Opening the passenger door, he knelt at her side and took her hand in his. He kissed the back of her palm, then met her eyes.

 

“I’m sorry, Sassenach. I lost my head. I should have taken more care for you. I never should have touched ye like that in the parking lot.”

 

Shocked cognac met remorseful azure.

 

“It’s me that should apologize, Jamie. I got carried away. I didn’t mean to be so... brazen.”

 

Puzzled sky met chagrined earth.

 

“Please forgive me?” He begged.

 

“There is nothing to forgive.”

 

They smiled at one another. He needed to be completely honest with her.

 

“Ye ken I wanted to-- so badly, back there? God, the way you looked! Like every fantasy I’ve ever had. It was the hardest thing to do, to break away from you then. But I just couldna be sure ye really wanted to. What if ye thought I got ye drunk only for that? What if you felt bad about it the next day and decided never to call me again?”

 

“I’m not drunk.” She told him, but smiled. She certainly wasn’t drunk now but back at the parking lot she’d been a trifle tipsy. “I know we haven’t known each other long Jamie, but I know you aren’t like that.”  Claire waited a beat, “I’ve never had such a great time with anyone so I would have called, I promise. And you should know that you weren’t alone...in your feelings back there...I felt it, too.” she repeated, speaking very softly.

 

“So ye...liked it? What happened back there, I mean?”

 

“God, yes.”

 

“W-would ye show me what it might have been like had I no’ stopped? Can ye close yer eyes and imagine we’re back there now?”

 

His eyes pleaded for understanding. Claire’s heart was racing and her gut quivered. Jamie watched her, not moving, barely daring to breathe as her eyes fluttered closed.

 

She parted her legs and urged his hand between them. He closed his own eyes, inhaled that heady scent of her and groaned when he felt her core.  Her pants were no longer wet but she was still blazing hot against his fingertips.

 

“Sassenach, kiss me.”

 

Her mouth parted and his tongue touched her lips. Her lips softened against his and her other hand reached up, touching his cheek. His eyes fluttered open and he watched her face. She sighed, which was sweet but not what he wanted.

 

“Tell me what ye were thinking when ye felt me rubbing ye here.”  Urgent deep timbre rumbling in her ear.

 

“How good it felt...to be touched....” Claire was just beginning to dampen.

 

“By me...or—?” Jamie had no idea where that question was coming from but her answer aroused him.

 

“By a man’s hands, so much larger and...oh, like that...stronger than mine.” She confessed.

 

“Keeping company with yourself for awhile now, Sassenach?” He chuckled in her ear.

 

She was becoming very responsive now.

 

Claire detected only the barest hint of tease in his tone. He truly wanted to know.

 

“Months.” She admitted. “Many, many months.”

 

“And then I came along…”

 

“God, yes! You and your firm…”

 

He pressed his finger down and circled it and she moaned.

 

“Healing touch. You,” her hand covered his again and this time he noticed the subtle shifts of pressure that her fingers made against his and he began following her lead. “Oh, that..feels so good, Jamie!” She said, her hips were lifting against his hand once more. “You... make me laugh and feel things.”

 

“What kind of things?” He wondered.

 

“Naughty things, forbidden things…” She admitted.

 

Jamie changed position, watching her face. She liked it when he pressed in harder, releasing only to pulse in and out. His thumb brushed upwards and she gripped his wrist hard, mewling. He knew her mind was no longer here but back in the parking lot once more. The spotlight illuminating the car, the thrill of that moment.

 

“Yer so hot and wet, lass.” He whispered. “Ye like my fingers playing with you?”

 

Claire panted and moaned in agreement. He was aware of the still the air around them. There was no danger of them being seen. She was safe here with him. But there was a small chance they could be heard. While the barns were dark, they weren’t unmanned, after all. He knew the lads were all in the bunk room, invisible from the roadway. If the wind was blowing right, or someone went to check the horses, her voice might carry that far. That thought had his mind travelling to earlier in the parking lot, too.

 

“Shh, Sassenach. We’re just outside the entrance to the park. People in and out. Do ye want them to hear?”

 

She shook her head no but wasn’t much quieted as she moaned. Jamie’s hand moved faster and more assuredly as he learned her rhythm. He licked a spot behind her ear and she squeaked.

 

“Can ye be a good girl?” Rough and urgent. Claire moaned.

 

“A good, quiet lass?” He clarified as his hand stilled, emphasizing his point.

 

He wanted an answer but Claire couldn’t think of anything other than his wicked fingers and sexy voice.

 

“Touch me harder! Oh please, I’ll be good.” She finally got the words out.

 

Claire’s hands came around his back and held on tightly. She was moaning and rotating her hips trying to push his fingers where she wanted them and needing an anchor as her hips furiously worked in tune with his hand.

 

Jamie moved up to the edge of the seat, reaching his arm behind her back needing to hold her close against him. He kissed her neck rubbing his thumb over her clit hard.

 

“Really, Sassenach? Do ye really think ye can be good? I think ye may be a screamer.”

 

Claire forgot to breathe. Then he thrust his fingertips up and mouthed her breast through her blouse causing her to keen, this time hyper aware of the volume but helpless to quiet.

 

“Oh, so ye admit it?” He said on a breathless chuckle.

 

Jamie hadn’t gotten his lips over hers quick enough to swallow the sound of her cry. He needed to hear it again. Claire was completely into his dirty talk, judging by the fact that she’d soaked through her pants once again.   

 

“Ye canna be a good lass? Even though ye ken they’ll hear you?” He told her.

 

She chose honesty and nodded because she did know, but God how was she supposed to keep quiet with the things he was saying and doing to her?

“Let...them.” She panted. “Don’t stop!”

 

Her head fell heavy against his shoulder and her exposed neck stretched back. He kissed her just to the side of jugular. His hand moved quicker and quicker, stroking harder and deeper. She heard herself and bit her lip.

 

“I can’t be g--g-good, Jamie.” She told him.

 

“No, ye canna.” He agreed. “I suppose I’ll need to help ye?”  

 

Jamie was seeking her permission, Claire knew. He felt her trembling under him as her head shook up and down, giving him a solid yes.

 

She was making herself so vulnerable, it humbled him in return.

 

“Oh lass, what ye do to me.”

 

He needed to share, to try and describe the exquisite pleasure running through him.

 

“You feel so good, mo nighean donne. I’ve never felt this way, never been so hard.” This aching fact was completely true.

 

“And I havena even seen ye naked, nor felt your body on my skin.”

 

His voice rumbled in her ear, the things he was saying spinning her impossibly tight. He felt her driving hard toward the finish. Her gasps hovering in the space between them, her body moving in circles around his hand.

 

“Oh, lass, I’m no’ even going to get a chance to touch ye,” Jamie pressed his middle finger firmly in and up against the crotch of her pants, “on yer soft skin here, am I? The thought of you, bare and juicy, imagining myself tasting you--”

 

He felt the hitch before he heard it as her release overtook her and he was able to get his hand over her mouth in time.

 

“Aye, scream for me, my Sassenach!”

 

Her eyes grew wide as saucers, but she’d never felt safer. Claire pushed her own hand hard over his further stifling her cries as her orgasm intensified watching the the look of joy and delight on his face.

 

She was coming down now. He sighed deeply resting his forehead against hers.

 

“I want to kiss you, may I?”

 

Said the man with one hand over her mouth and the other making lazy circles against her crotch and suddenly Claire became aware of where she was and what they’d been doing. She laughed. Jamie moved his hand away from her lips, smiling too.

 

“Is that a foolish thing to say?” He asked, chuckling as he caught the humor.

 

“Yes, but kiss me anyway.”






Chapter Text

“I’m sorry, did that hurt?” Claire asked, pulling her hands back to her chest, covering her naked breasts with them.  

 

“Ah, a bit.”  He confirmed, he was turned on his side, the long, strong lines of his body as bare as hers.

 

She disentangled her leg, which had been thrown over Jamie’s hip and pressed her legs back together again, struggling to pull the thin sheet up between them-- anything that could shield her.

 

“Oh God. I didn’t mean...I mean I ...I beg your pardon!” Frank was right, after all. She had no idea how to please a man. He’d told her she was too wild, too “earthy”; her urges unnatural. This was the first time she’d taken control of Jamie during their love making, given in to the desire to touch him in that way but she’d fucked it up. Claire scooted over and made to stand up, embarrassed, needing to flee.

 

Jamie looked at her then, really looked. Beet red, sweat breaking out on her temples, refusing to look him in the eye, hands in a death grip on the sheets. Jamie didn’t know her as well as he wanted, not yet but they’d spent the last several days practically joined at the hip, horizontally, vertically they couldn’t get enough of one another. She was shy at first, so was he for that matter, but that had been quickly overcome-- at least on his part, and hers (or so he believed). For himself, she stirred feelings in him that he had no hope to contain. He’d been in a near-constant state of arousal when she was near.  He was only surprised he’d been able to wait until they were both naked before he started drooling and shaking . Now, though, Claire looked like she wanted the the ground to swallow her whole, worried, contrite, miserable. Jamie pulled her hands to him, held them firmly under his large palm and scooted over to close the distance between them.

 

“I didna say I didna like it! I just wasna expecting it.” He tried to assure her. She refused to look at him. He pulled the sheet down, it required more force than should’ve been necessary.

 

“Sassenach, what’s the matter?” He asked gently. He was being so nice, this was perfectly awful. “Ye didna strike me as meek, Claire.” Jamie said in a stronger tone.

 

The use of her formal name, so unexpected, made her head shoot up. Claire  knew he never used it unless it was important. His intense blue eyes seemed to reach deep into her heart.

 

Jamie had been saddened to learn she would be leaving Scotland this fall to fulfill her hands-on training requirement, but he couldn’t dwell on their parting. Having just found her, he meant to keep her as long as he could, hoping by the time she got on her plane, their relationship would be strong enough to withstand the temporary separation, thinking that when he started missing her too much he could jump a plane to see her and it would somehow work out.

 

He’d fallen for her, known it almost from the first kiss and wanted to be with her all the time. In fact, the only day they hadn’t planned to be together had been that first Sunday. Each had regretfully told the other they needed to go to church in the morning. So when their eyes locked on one another from across the pews during the same Mass, they’d laughed like loons and taken it as yet another sign that they were meant to be.

 

Jamie draped her leg back over his hip, gripped her hand and put it around his backside where it had been lost in erotic exploration moments before, “You can tell me. Be honest.”

 

Claire sighed, no help for it, then, acknowledge it and be done, like ripping the bandages off all at once.

 

“I was engaged before,” she started but then said nothing. Jamie looked at her patiently. She needed to decide whether to trust him or not. It was her leap of faith, not his.

 

“To Frank Randall, he was a professor. Ten years my senior and very urbane. We were together for three years. He was not my first but up until the time I met him I had only known boys my own age, nothing that lasted more than a few months, all very casual, stolen moments in cars or on couches in parents’ basements.” Claire smiled and Jamie chuckled, teenage hook-ups familiar to him as well. “He was my first-- and since only-- adult relationship. We bought sheets together, his toothbrush rested beside mine in the bathroom, he bought me tampons, for God’s sake!” Jamie understood what she was getting at and smiled again. “I hadn’t ever been in that kind of long term situation. We broke up about a year ago. I found him in bed with another woman. Since him, I haven’t had any other lovers.” She blushed.  

 

“Aye?” he asked and kissed her gently. Still uncertain what she was getting at.

 

“I loved him. He made me feel such powerful things. I hadn’t experienced that before. When we would lay together, I would want to touch him all the time, feel his lips on me everywhere and I wanted to do the same to him. I tried so hard to please him, and usually I did but sometimes I would forget myself. He made my fingers itch and I had all these thoughts that would make me feel so...I couldn’t help it, even as I tried to remember not to, I would act on my thoughts, ask him to do things, not ask before I touched him places on his body. He told me that I needed to control my ...uhm… urges...and couples in a real relationship act differently. He said I embarrassed myself and didn’t understand how to be with men.”

 

“Sassenach, ye’ve men five deep hovering around ye like butterflies on a bush all the time. Surely ye ken ye know how to act around men and men like ye. They like ye fine!” Jamie looked thunderstruck. He made a small noise of derision which she misinterpreted and she rushed to correct him, reassure him and continue cataloguing Frank’s summation of her defects.  

 

“He didn’t mean in everyday circumstances. He meant that sexually I didn’t know how to behave like a woman should. I was off-putting to men because I was too boisterous.” She confessed in a small whisper.

 

“He told ye men didna like a woman who was too... boisterous ?” Came the shocked response. Claire could only nod, shame filling her. “In bed?” She nodded again. Jamie laughed out loud. Claire was confused by his reaction, feeling even more defensive.

 

“That time I walked in on him, he told me that she at least knew how a real woman was supposed to behave with a man. I tried to make him happy for years. I couldn’t. So I left him that day and I haven’t...I have been afraid to... I guess I was hoping maybe he was just lying to excuse his own behavior, but I think he was right, maybe?” Her eyes filled with tears, God she hoped he didn’t notice this whole conversation made her feel pathetic.

 

“How so, a leannan ?” Jamie had to kiss her pouting lips, he wanted to laugh at the improbable turn this conversation had taken but knew that would offend her, even though that would not be his intention.

 

Ten minutes ago, before he stupidly scared her, he had been sending up prayers of thanks to God for the gift of her; thinking he had never enjoyed himself in bed more than with this warm, open, curious woman. He had no clue she was insecure about anything. She did everything so well- including this. He understood how vulnerable she was making herself and would die before making her feel even worse even if the whole thing was patently ridiculous. Frank was a spineless jerk who didn’t understand what he’d had. Jamie wasn’t going to make that kind of mistake. He wanted the Claire that Frank had so callously rejected, wanted her with everything in him.  

 

Seeing this side of her sparked something primal that had lain dormant inside him, protective and extremely tender. Jamie could still feel her resisting a little, holding herself in check. That was intolerable to him.  He was happy, but more than that. He wondered if he should push it as he feared part of his motivation stemmed from hubris or vanity. For he knew the only way he could ever, would ever love her was all in, no holds barred. Not only was he powerless to hold any part of him back when he was with her, he didn’t even want to. Despite knowing how foolish it was to run around with hands in pockets, knowing if he fell there would be no way to break his fall, all caution had been erased and he was dizzy with it, heedless and reckless.

 

And he was selfish, God help him, because he wanted the same from her, not as his due, he’d love her this way regardless, but in honor of the idea of them as something beyond just themselves. ClaireandJamie. JamieandClaire. He thought they deserved the chance to be more than individuals.

 

If he continued to think on this line, he’d reason himself into knots and he’d never give voice to it. He wanted her to trust him and not be afraid to be bold. So he must do the same for her and speak his heart.

 

Leannan ?” He murmured, pulling her hand up to kiss her fingers.

 

“Mmmh?” eyebrow quirked up in question.

 

“Did ye ever do theatre in school?”

 

“Theatre? Well...I was Pippin in Primary, mostly because I could hit the notes.” Jamie smiled.

 

“Nah, I mean studied the basics of it. Or no’ theatre really but improv?” He asked.

 

“Improv? You mean improvisation?” She saw him nod. “No, why?”

 

“Well, the interesting thing about improv is there are only a handful of rules ye need to follow.”

 

“Oh?” Claire had no idea where this was going.

 

“I was thinking that mebbe they had some application for us, too.” He smoothed her hair out of her eyes and pulled back to make sure she was looking at him.

 

“You want to be a comedy act?” She knew that wasn’t it but she was damned if she could tell where this was going.  

 

“Yer no’ that funny,” he assured her. “There are two main rules. The first one is you must agree with your partner, so ye promise to say yes.”

 

“Oh, ho! Now I see where this is going!” She pounced, then eyes narrowed, “And if you think that’s the best way to get me to let you call all the shots you’ve another thing coming!” She stated. He ruefully shook his head.

 

“Ye ken well that isna what I mean, not that I woulnda mind every now if you would--” He smiled a her, she scoffed in mock dismay. “The other rule is when ye agree, ye must add to it so ye say yes and so that the both of you are creating something more that will belong to the two of you forever.”  Jamie, thinking his explanation sufficient, closed his mouth and looked expectantly at her.

 

“What the hell are you driving at?” She asked, in bewilderment.

 

Jamie had hoped to be subtle about it but he could see the time had come to take the bull by the horns.

 

“Claire,” he looked directly at her as he readjusted his position on the bed. “I want to be able to --- och!,” he hissed in frustration as his thoughts refused to become better articulated, “There isna a word in English, Gaelic or French I know to tell you what my wame does when ye enter a room, when ye look at me wi’ yer eyes soft at first then lit up and I ken I’m the only thing on this Earth ye see in that moment, when you reach for my hand and suck hard on my fingers or give me a wee nip, it makes me feel….”

 

In illustration Jamie, using her hand, showed her what he meant, she yelped in response. He chuckled.

 

“And when ye wrap your legs around me and moan as ye pull me hard into you--well that’s something else again. And all I have are the same poor words to use and they’re no’ enough to. Do ye feel it?”

 

He rolled fully on top of her eyes boring into hers, utterly laid bare and she was spellbound “Here, with you, I am free -- to do or say anything or nothing and know it is right. Here I am enough.” Jamie stretched his neck out and kissed her breathless.  

“I needna think of all the things I fret ov’r outside this room.” Between each sentence he kissed her again.  “Here, I am pleasing enough to catch yer eye.” She moaned into him, feeling him harden. He cradled her head in his two hands holding her gaze.“Here, I am gentle enough to hold you so you feel how much I cherish you.”

 

Her eyes started to tear up and she would have given anything to look away, to hide from the depths boring into her but he kissed the corners of each of her eyes, compelling her to stay with him, to listen with her heart not her head to know the truth of it. “Here, I am clever enough to keep you on your toes.” She smiled at him and he shifted his weight.

 

“And here, Ahh!” He hissed as he came hard into her, “I am wise enough to want you to feel the same way you make me feel.” Jamie locked her hands in each of his and stretched her arms over her head, “And I am patient enough to wait until you are willing to open your heart and let me do that for you.” He gave in to his baser urges for a minute, thrusting hard, using his hip bones to grind into her clit, her fingers clenched hard in his and she arched her neck up. He slowed himself and she looked back into his eyes in supplication. But having started down this road, he had gone too far to turn back.

 

“I want you to feel safe and free enough to ask me for anything, Sassenach, I need ye to tell me what ye want, how ye want it, what goes on in your head when ye feel me like this and, like in improv, I will agree .”

 

She made a sound in the back of her throat at that.

 

“Ye like that idea, hmm?” He thrust again, “And no matter what, I will say yes .” He tilted his hips, she locked her legs around his waist trapping him against her and thrust herself up in circles. “Not only will I say yes, I will say yes and. And if you can trust yourself enough to trust me, then mebbe I dinna need to know the right words to tell you all of this because you’ll know it and feel it in your heart the same way ye make me feel it in mine.”

 

He kissed her hard, deep and dipped his mouth lower.

 

“I’ll agree to whatever it is.” He repeated, moving down so his is tongue laved her nipple and she moaned.

 

He let her hands go and instead moved his hand under her, searching between them until she started panting.

 

“I’ll say Yes ,” He probed deep and sure, and he pulled himself back a little. “I’ll say Yes And ,” He promised, returning to his task.

 

She’d thought his intensity was like a tidal wave threatening to rip her from her grounding and carry her off in a violent storm as it smothered everything in its path but she realized she’d been wrong. He was a vortex, a great whirlpool, the force of his passion pulling her tight to him.  

 

She understood that he wasn’t going to rip her from her moorings, quite the opposite. He was the offering to be her anchor, to ground her, steady, inexorable, stronger than anything she’d ever felt and she understood him in a way she never had before. This was a rare passion, she would be a fool to say no. To deny him would be to deny herself what promised, in a lifetime of wandering all over the globe, to be the most unique journey she’d ever taken.

 

“So if I say yes and , then what?” Her hips were moving in time with his hands, steady and sure. He arched his back and she moved with him.

 

“Then, you tell me with no fear, with no worry or concern I’ll judge you what you want to try, what turns you on, what makes ye wet.” At this she moaned so loudly he laughed. “Even if it’s only talking about such things, not even trying them. Any fantasy, any dirty thought, any position, act, place, accessory, anything and everything. Even if I’ve never heard of it before. I’ll say yes. I’ll say yes, and .”

“And how many women have taken you up on this offer?”

He saw the twinkle in her eye, but also the fear. He moved his hands from her hips to grip her behind her head. He neatly rolled them so she was on top and he was thrusting into her. Now she was the one arching her back, noisily panting out long moans.

“I’ve never wanted such a thing with anyone but you, Claire. I’ve never felt this free with anyone but you.” A long, loud groan from him as he dug his toes hard into the mattress underneath them and his hands snaked under her to the top of the mattress, gripping it hard, holding himself in place, concentrating every movement on her, her pleasure, her desire.

“Yes! Yes----” Claire lost her ability to finish her thought for several long moments. “And….you’ll do the same?” She queried on a pant and dipped her fingers into the crack of his ass, testing the truth of his resolve.

 

“Aye. Touch me again, and tell me what you wanted to do earlier when your fingers were playing with my arse?” He encouraged.  

 

“I want--” Her fingers hesitated. “What if Frank was right and you decide that I’m---”

 

He needed her to understand. He rolled them until they were side by side again. He placed her thigh over his hip once more. Jamie held her gaze, unapologetic, unafraid and threaded his hand in hers then brought her fingers to his mouth and wet each one in turn. When he was done, he firmly placed her hand back into his cleft, making sure her fingers spread out as before. He held her hand in position and began to flex his buttcheeks slowly. Her hand got the message and began unconsciously rubbing against him in time with his contractions once more.

 

         “Tell me,” he urged again, kissing her over and over, using his tongue to mimic the thrust of sex, silently demonstrating what he wanted her to start doing again.

 

         “Please, Claire, finish what ye wanted to say to me. Ye ken I told ye true when I said I did like it, feel me, Sassenach. I’m no’ a liar!” His eyes held hers as his body moved powerfully, encouraging her to explore.

 

No, he clearly was not lying, his built in polygraph, proof of that. She started grinding her hips a little, the little frown between her eyes eased. Jamie felt a sense of triumph-- she was starting to think with her body, not her brain. Her body had exceptionally good instincts.

 

Jamie pulled her against him causing the leg on his hip to open, spreading her wider, his cock pressed against her belly, improving the reach of her fingers, which began to mirror the actions of his thrusting hips. He held his lips close to her ears.

 

“Whisper it to me, aye? Tell me why ye think that wee idiot was right?” Claire shivered and could not think calmly and so answered him without picking or choosing her words with any care.

 

“Because, Jamie, Ahhh!” She felt him rubbing the head of his cock up and down her wet slit.  Her finger slipped hard to the first knuckle into his ass. He grunted in surprise and kissed her harder so she knew he was fine with it.

 

“God, because when I am with you, the things I imagine….” she moaned hard as his thumb added to the sensation. Feeling him adjusting to her invasion, she pushed in and out, exploring a bit. “It’s even worse than with Frank. You make me feel, ohhhh Yes!” Claire dropped her head hard on his shoulder enjoying what he was doing with his fingers now and forgetting her own.

 

When her finger slipped out, he grabbed it and brought it to the slippery place where they were joined, rubbing her all around, lubricating once more. This time, she needed no encouragement and whipped her hand back to his ass, parting the cheeks herself and reaching in. Claire was so turned on, she could not stop the soft sounds of joy coming from her lips.  

 

Ah Dhia! Like that, Sassenach, feels….so good.” Jamie panted. He put his mouth against her once more, but could not longer whisper riding the wave of sensation. “What do I make ye feel?”

 

“Like I want to possess you, try all sorts of things to you. I can’t stop wanting you, all the time. Jamie, please!” He moved within her hard and fast. Then slow, then fast again. Jamie cradled her head in his hands, almost stopping the movement and held her gaze. His heart was beating so hard it felt like it would leap from his chest. Her wicked fingers were driving him crazy.

 

“I want to hear everything ye want to do, Sorcha. You ken fine that what ye want isna off-putting to me!” Jamie said with obvious derision as he flexed his length inside her, hoping she understood what she did to him. He gripped a handful of her hair hard in his fist and pulled, she looked right into his eyes. “I meant it-- I’ll say yes and. But first, ye must tell me what ye want, the things you think about!” It was a demand, long past the time for gentle inquiry. Her nipples were hard though the room was warm. She was in the realm of pure sensation.

 

“At the stables the other day I wanted to go down on my knees and suck you until you came down my throat and I wouldn’t have cared if anyone had walked in...In fact, I might’ve liked it!” Her eyes sparkled in triumph as he groaned. “I want you to lick me everywhere….Where my hand is now, for example and I want to do it to you, too. Put you face down on the bed, Jamie and massage your feet, your legs, your back, the meat of your shoulder.” Claire whispered then leaned in and bit him just so in illustration. “Then I want to settle myself across the backs of your legs. My breasts caressing your hamstrings. Can you imagine what that will feel like?” She asked, a little shyly. Jamie grunted a yes. “And then I would take both my hands and firmly part the cheeks of your perfect arse and lick you. Up and down, in and out over and over everywhere.

 

“Christ!” Jamie was trembling by this point. Cogent thought impossible. He could only visualize and feel what she was doing to him now.

 

“I want to spend a whole day just teasing you, bringing you to the brink over and over until your eyes go crossed then hmmm you like you’ve never been hmm in your life.” Her voice trailed off as she focused on pushing her finger in and out of him.

 

“You want to mmphm my brains out?” Jamie teased, “ohhh, Shit!” He exclaimed as she hit a spot he hadn’t even know existed.

 

“Mmhum-hum.” Claire agreed with feeling.

 

“Ah...You know, for a doctor ye seem to have a strangely limited vocabulary around sex acts.” Jamie hissed out. “You are definitely an expert in anatomy...Keep going, Sassenach!” He begged.  

 

She had reached past his tight ring, homing unerringly for his prostate. Jamie was moaning louder and louder. His cock twitched and swelled. He could not touch her clit or he would lose it before she finished telling him what he wanted to know.

 

“Lately, these feelings come upon me in the no matter where we are, no matter how inappropriate the circumstances.” She panted.

 

“Oh? Like where?” He was mad with desire even as he was inside her, rocking her on his cock the determined movement as much for her as him.  

 

“Like in church the other day.” Jamie let out a little scream of a moan. “I kept looking at the confessionals, wondering if we could sneak over there without anyone seeing us. Then I was watching Father Bain-- Father Bain!” Jamie let out a laugh letting her know he understood the incongruousness of anyone having sexual thoughts in that man’s vicinity. “I was wondering what you would look like in his vestments, what going to confession with Father Jamie would be like.”

 

“Tell me, my child, how long has it been since yer last confession?” Jamie intoned.

 

“It’s….ah! Been a long, long time, Father but I couldn’t ignore it any longer.”

 

“What is the nature of your sin?” Jamie squeaked on the word sin as Claire’s fingers worked their magic.

 

“I’ve been having very impure thoughts, Father.”

 

“Do ye mean things like the urge to steal?”

 

“No, Father. I have committed the sin of self-gratification.”

 

Jamie clenched his buttocks and thrust his cock hard. “How many times would you say since...ah, let’s say last week?”  

 

“Oh, Father it’s not the number of times that is troubling. It’s that every time I do, I picture the same thing and I just can’t stop touching myself.”

 

“What is it you see?” Jamie asked breathlessly.

 

“You and I kneeling down in the confessional together, I put my lips to the screen and whisper all the dirty things I imagine dong with you. It makes me so wet, so hot that I need to touch myself right there. But you catch me and know what I’m doing and I hear you moan begging me to stop. But I can’t because it feels so good. I’m such a naughty girl especially when I hear you reaching under your robes and---”

 

Like all great storytellers, Claire had an innate sense of timing and as her finger massaged his prostate, Jamie realized that he’d been so distracted by her fantasy, so turned on by the words, he hadn’t paid enough attention to the physical. He went rigid, then came with a huge cry of release. She squeaked again in surprise but continued to milk him as he pumped over and over and over into her.

 

“Oh Jesus! Oh God!” Jamie cried out, stunned and breathless. She chuckled, charmed by the unintentional irony of Jamie’s choice of exclamations.

 

His sweat bathed her neck and shoulder where he drew in great gulps of air. She could feel his heart pounding loudly. His seed was running down her legs, making her lack of release even more frustrating. Unfortunately, it seemed she was shit out of luck. Though it had been so worth it.

 

She felt like a queen, powerful and impossibly womanly. He had let her know in a way reassuring words never could that Frank had been wrong, after all. She was overwhelmed with gratitude. But still, with the promise of a summer affair built around the sexually permissive rule of yes and , horny as hell.

 

She hadn’t noticed he’d moved until she felt the stubble of his cheek against her inner thigh. “What are you doing?” she asked shocked. Frank had gone down on her, of course, but only right after she got out of the shower and on special occasions, like her birthday.

 

“Just what it looks like.” Jamie said as he dragged his tongue into her slit, long firm licks up and down.

 

“Jamie!” She protested, grabbing his hair.

 

“No!” He refused to be pulled away from his mission. He gripped both of her hips instead and shifted her hard into a better position.

 

“You don’t need to-- Jamie!” she tried to squeeze her legs together. His head came up. She looked right at him. His eyes told her he very much did need to.

 

“Oh God….” she whispered, the sight of him sent tingling straight to her fingertips. She shifted her hips now trying to reach to him.

 

He growled in satisfaction and bent again to his task. She was creating buckets of cream, she couldn’t help it and, judging by the noise of his slurping, he didn’t mind. His head came up again, gaging the effectiveness of his technique and the combination of the feral look in his eyes and the sheen on his face caused from her and his own leavings had her rocking against him with a ferocious orgasm in less than a minute. She screamed. She actually screamed out loud. Her whole body was twitching. Jamie quieted his movements.

 

“Oh Jamie…” she whispered as he came up to hold her.

 

He smelled of her and of him and the combination of it just...did things to her. She kissed him hard, over and over again then dropped her head onto the pillow again. He gathered her under him and held her close, then slipped back into her.

 

“Not as dead as you look, I hope?” he asked, laughing for joy when she tilted her hips back up in invitation.


Chapter Text

The snarf in her ear startled awake, she sat halfway up before relaxing once again into the sleep tousled body beside her. She listened for a few minutes, then fitted her head on his chest, a happy grin on her face. His heartbeat thumped reassuringly in her ear. Her fingers played absentmindedly with the short hair around his nipple, causing it to pucker a bit. He smelled of fabric softener and that citrus soap she liked so much. The rhythm in his chest changed beat and she snuggled closer. Claire inhaled once more to catch the barest hint of musk. His arm caressed her bare shoulder. She could feel his mouth curve into a grin as it rested against her forehead.

 

“Happy anniversary.” She loved the rich tone of his voice.

 

“Anniversary?” She laughed.

 

“Aye, it’s been five weeks since ye fell at my feet.” He reminded her and nearly a month since they hadn’t spent the night together. Usually his place, but occasionally hers. This morning they woke in Jamie’s lovely, huge bed.

 

“While strictly true, that was an accident!” She laughed. “But definitely a happy one.” She leaned up and kissed him. She caught a glimpse at the clock. “You know considering its our anniversary I have a bone to pick with you.” She told him.

 

“What’s that then?”

 

“You fell asleep on me last night!”

 

“Och” His face reddened. “I’m sorry, Sassenach. I was exhausted and ye came home so late from yer shift at the clinic and I did wait for ye but I must have drifted off.”

 

“I noticed.” Claire agreed. “You can make it up to me now, if you like.” Her bottom shifted against him most invitingly. He made a mmphm in the back of his throat and moved over her.

 

Instead of taking advantage of their proximity and lack of sleepwear, though Jamie gave her a hug and a peck on the nose.

 

“I wish I could, truly but I told  Fergus and Jenny I’d meet them 15 minutes ago. I am sorry.” He moved to get off the bed but caught the disappointed expression on her face. “What?”

 

“Well, between my period and our work schedules, it’s been several days ...” Claire made a delicate sound.

 

“You’ve noticed have ye?” Jamie smiled at her.

 

“Haven’t you?” She was shooting him daggers. Of course he had, he was achy and if he didn’t get out of the bed immediately, he would be very late indeed. As he moved around the bed to jump in the shower pausing at the door.

 

“I’m sorry, Claire. I had the meeting in Glasgow and you had a double shift. Tonight, I promise. We’ll have dinner in, curl up together on the couch and I’ll let you have your way with me.”

 

“You aren’t bored with me are you?” Her insecurities getting the best of her.

 

“Come again?” He couldn’t believe his ears.

 

“I haven’t even come once…” She grumbled. He laughed.

 

“And ye miss it?” He looked proud as a peacock. “You ken I didna care about you having your period, but you did.” He reminded her. Drat the man, he was correct. “Dinna fash, Sassenach, yer already the most enchanting woman I’ve ever known. We’ll unleash yer inner goddess soon enough. For now, I’m glad to see you embracing your inner sex kitten..”

 

Her cheeks were blushing crimson now. What good was forging pact to be open in trying new things sexually if she couldn’t be honest about her need of him?  

 

“Your fault for enabling me. But I am a good sport, so I accept your invitation.” She said with playful lack of grace. He leaned down and kissed her.

 

“I canna tell you how delighted I am. See ye tonight.”

 

“Wait -- it’s Friday?”

 

“Aye?”

 

“Shit, Jamie, we invited Joe and Gayle over for tonight.”

 

“I completely forgot.” Jamie thought a moment.

 

“Cancel it. Tell them you’re not feeling well. They’ll understand.”

 

“They are your friends, Sassenach, you cancel it, but you can blame me if ye like.” He smiled at her.

 

***************

She’d been fantasizing about coming over and finding him cooking in nothing but his kilt and boots, so it was a let down to find him dressed in jeans slaving over the stove in the company of Murtagh. Not that she didn’t like him, she did. Didn’t Jamie want to be alone with her tonight?

 

Murtagh hugged her a greeting and Jamie poured her a glass of the wine they had been sharing.

 

“Then the filly started shaking her head and knocked….” They continued the conversation as if her presence was unremarkable, which she guessed was true enough. Claire watched Jamie adding sauce to the pan and making encouraging sounds as Murtagh continued with his story. After five minutes where no conversational opening presented itself for her to join in, Claire shrugged and took her wine into the living room.

 

Jamie took another deep drink of his glass. Murtagh had been showing him how to make one of his special dishes, an old recipe of his mother’s that she’d never bothered to write down. He was glad he’d caught his godfather before he’d left for the day as he had thought of nothing but what he could make for Claire that would be special. When he’d thought of the rich beef stew, he’d spent the rest of the afternoon imagining what it would be like to feed it to Claire morsel by morsel. He could remember how good it was from his childhood. Even how he licked the bowl clean at the table.  This, of course, led him to imagining what it would be like to paint her skin with the rich broth, lick it clean. Murtagh told him it needed time to cook down before he showed him how to deglaze and finish it -whatever that meant- and they’d gotten to chatting so he opened a bottle of red and passed the time until Claire came home.

 

A thud distracted Jamie. This was followed by a slamming sound.

 

“So he ended---”

“One moment, Murtagh. I need a word with Claire.” Jamie realized a little late that she’d been trying to get his attention. She was redecorating his TV stand primarily for the excuse it gave her to make a racket.

 

“Sassenach?” He asked. She spun around.

 

“I thought it was going to be just you and me for dinner tonight?” She cast her eyes meaningfully toward the kitchen.

 

“It will be, we’ve an hour at least until it’s done. Murtagh kent the recipe and we got to talking. He ran into some trouble with one of the new horses. He’s family, I wouldna feel right about asking for his help and then no’ offering a friendly ear when he needs it.”

 

“How would you feel if I just called John and asked him to pop over then?” Claire blurted. Jamie’s eyes narrowed.  

 

“Well, Claire, I suppose ye can do what ye like.” He said coldly, “Here-- call him then!” Jamie shoved the phone into her hands.

 

“Fine, I will!” Claire hadn’t really had any intention of doing so, but he’d asked for it. “John? How are you?” Jamie’s expression was thunderous as she spoke. “Listen, I was wondering if you wanted to pop over to Jamie’s on your way back from--  Oh? In the car already? Cool, well this is your chance to see it from the inside, you’ll love it.” Claire hung up and handed it back to Jamie with a smug expression on her face. “There, now we both have company for tonight, just what you wanted.” Seeing his upset, the muleish set of her mouth warbled a bit.

 

He turned to stalk off to the kitchen again when her arm on the back of his sleeve stopped him. Claire’s face rested against his shoulder blades and her arms embraced him from behind. Her warm breath at the back of his neck gave him goosebumps and he relented.

 

“That’s no’ what I wanted at all, lass.” He turned around to look at her, glad that she’d thrown her arms around him once more. “This is the stupidest fight I’ve ever had, and given my stubbornness, that is saying something. Will you come to the kitchen with me? I need to stir the pot.”

 

“Forgive me, I can be stubborn, too.”

 

“Och, it will be fine. By the time John has had the grand tour, dinner will be finished and we’ll kick Murtagh and John out together. Our evening will be ours again soon enough.” He kissed her forehead and put her hand on the small of her back, guiding her forward. The doorbell rang. Knowing it was too soon for John to have gotten there, Claire knew at once what had happened.

 

“You didn’t cancel?” Claire looked wild.

 

“No, that was your job!” He told her. He was trying to figure out if he had made enough for four-- no, wait with Murtagh and John, they might end up being six. Fuck! He glanced around the place, he hadn’t cleaned for company. He hastily fluffed pillows, ignoring the mess at the TV stand that Claire hadn’t quite put away. They opened the door, sweating and out of sorts. Joe shook his hand with a little hesitation. Gayle thrust the wine into Claire’s hands.

 

“You guys ok?” She asked sensing an off vibe.

 

“Oh, fine, fine, just a little last minute straightening.” Claire smiled and walked them into the living room. She hastily shoved the wires back behind the TV and grabbed the corkscrew while Jamie went to check on things in the kitchen.

 

The Abernathys and Claire spent some time catching up. Gayle remembered the dessert she’d left in the car and ran to grab it, carrying it back into the kitchen to refrigerate while Joe and Claire talked shop. Realizing she forgot to set the table, Claire went in search of table linens, nodding at Murtagh. She stacked everything she needed on the centre island and then went for a moment to stand beside Jamie, who’s back had been to the room as he adjusted the burners He was looking worried, adding a bit more wine from the bottle he was holding and looking at the meager remnants of root veggies left in the basket.

 

“Can you get the carrots from the garage fridge?” He asked her.

 

“I would, but we brought them to the stables for the horses for the last day camp visit so the children could feed them out.” She reminded him.

 

“Did you pick up those little red potatoes you like at the store?” He wondered.

 

“No. Not being a psychic, I didn’t know we’d need them and didn’t make an extra run this week.” His hand moved faster as if his spoon could magically double the quantity. She put hers over his. “I think there are a couple of bags of dinner rolls in the garage freezer.” She whispered.

 

“I’ll start the oven.”

 

By the time Claire returned with one bag, there not being two available, Gayle was helping herself to another glass of wine, leaning against the centre island, laughing over something Jamie had said. Joe breezed into the swinging doors just then with John in toe. Jamie watched as Claire and John embraced, he holding her so enthusiastically, her feet were off the ground. He came to shake Jamie’s hand.

 

“Now, see honey, I think a six burner stove is nice, Jamie’s even has a griddle. I would love one just like it in our new place.” Gayle was showing Joe around the room. It was a lovely kitchen, opening onto the back yard where everything was bursting to life and filling the windows with a tapestry of color even as the sun was hanging low in the sky.

 

“Claire has told me quite a bit about your gardens, she loves them.” John had his arms around her shoulders and Claire was leaning into him with the familiarity of long practice. He was a very handsome man, fair haired and tall. He smiled in a way that made Jamie want to punch the man for no reason at all.

 

“Aye.” Jamie’s eyes focused on the hand she’d snaked out around his waist. Claire caught the look and her insides quivered. John, oblivious, took a sip of the wine.

 

“Guys,” she called out, a bit overbright, “can you please take this lot here and set the table?” John, Gayle and Joe immediately complied and nothing was left on the island. Murtagh hadn’t moved. Jamie, still vibrating a bit looked at Claire and her eyebrows rose.

 

“Take these out. Can you stay in the living room and play host for a little while while I finish up in here?”  Jamie shoved two bottles of red from the pantry at Murtagh with a hard edge.

 

“I’ll be in a sec to show ye how---”

 

“We’ll figure it out.” Claire told him impatiently. Then softened her tone. “Jamie and I need a few minutes to ourselves, if you could just let everyone know the kitchen is off limits?”

 

As Murtagh crossed through the swinging doors once more, Jamie could hear Joe trying to stop John from coming back into the kitchen. Some murmuring and then “Are they not getting along then?” From Joe which they both ignored.

 

“Hey,” Claire said, palming his cheek. “What’s wrong.”

 

“People. Too many of them.” He told her honestly, watching as Claire jumped up on the kitchen island, bunching her skirt up to her thighs invitingly. “And I wanted to make a special dinner for you.” Jamie looked back at the stew. “I had plans for that.” His chin nodded at the stove. Claire wondered what exactly he’d been thinking of doing and found her imagination running wild.

 

Jamie stepped between her spread legs and ran his palm up her bare leg. He kissed her, meaning it to be playful but it turned passionate quickly. Claire scooted her butt around on the counter and quickly divested herself of her underwear which she tucked into the empty cookie jar just behind her hip. Her fingers started to work on the button of his jeans. Jamie was staring at her hands and breathing fast. She looked over her shoulders then back at him and batted her eyes.

 

She reached her lips to his ears. “Bolt the door.”

 

“Now, why would I do that, Sassenach?” He kissed her and rubbed his thumbs over her nipples, grunting as she made fast work of his zipper and started moving his pants down low on his hips. No underwear to get in the way, she noticed. Good.  

 

“Because, my true Scotsman, it’s been far too long and I need you right now. And on the other side of that door-- a swinging door I might add,” Her tongue was tracing a line behind his ear now and her fingers were digging sweeting into his backside. Felt good after the riding he’d done that day.  “Are four of our friends, any one of whom might easily waltz in here at any moment and see how terrible we are at dinner prep. So.” She came up off the counter a bit and grazed his hard cock in a tease, which she continued as she spoke. “Bolt. The. Door.”

 

Jamie had his hands up and under her blouse, cradling her back, one hand slid to the top of her buttocks and he joined them in a surprising thrust. She gasped in his ear as both his hands moved to support her hips.

 

“A sex kitten would----” He shoved hard enough to set the jars on the counter to a rattle. “Bolt it but--” At this he spun her so her torso was resting on the counter and he was entering her from behind. “A goddess likes to flirt wi’ being caught.”

 

Claire moaned as he increased his thrusts and she found herself needing to be on tiptoe just to maintain her balance. Facing that very door, Claire’s eyes were riveted on it fearing at any moment the clinking rhythmic noises made by the decorative knick knacks on the island would draw the attention of their guests. Yet another part of her-- oh yes, that one right where Jamie’s fingers were pressing now-- was into it.  

 

Her hands came up to grip over the far end of the island and her feet found their way to a small toe hold on the bottom shelf. She managed to move her backside to get better friction. The smell of the kitchen, a wonderful homely scent, it’s heat and warmth, the joy of being inside her, the thrill of the risk brought both of them close in no time at all.

 

“God, if you could see yourself now, Claire.” Jamie whispered low and fierce, having made his point and lowering the noise level by shallower moves as he worked his own hips in circles. She noticed his phone at the edge of the counter and held it up to him.

 

“Show me.” She urged. Jamie laughed and grabbed the phone, distracted but willing. He filmed them for a minute or two, that place where they were joined, her wonderful rump, his slick entry.  Then he cast the viewfinder up, and watched her face change. He put the camera down and focused his fingers on her. With a cry she broke beneath him and he spilled hard into her.

 

“Christ, Sassenach, this is by far the best dinner party I’ve ever hosted!” He told her even as they smelled the scent of singed dinner rolls wafting from the oven.

 

Later, snuggled up in bed Claire straddled him. “Show me the pictures you took.” Jamie laughed and reached for his phone, unplugging it. He scrolled through but didn’t find anything. “Are you sure you took any?”

 

“Oh, aye, I did. The red light and everythi---” He swore.

 

“What?” She asked.

 

“It just occurred to me that my phone has been on the charger since I came home.”

 

“Well, that’s clearly not the case since there it was in the kitch--” Claire’s face turned red. “Oh no! Whose phone was it?” They both started to laugh trying to picture the reaction from one of their friends.

 

“Murtagh or John I think. Neither of them would do more than laugh at us and delete the pictures. Dinna fash, we’ll find out soon enough.”

Chapter Text

“Jamie” she squeaked as he pulled her toward him so her back molded to his chest. He was so tall he could rest his chin on the top of her head. He wrapped his arm across her chest, holding her tight. She felt more than heard his laugh. He leaned down and placed his mouth against her ear.  

 

“Hush, Sassenach, yer shivering.” As if proving his point, Claire’s body involuntarily shuddered, though it was not the cold, his deep rumble, the flick of his lips over her earlobe sent waves of pleasure rippling into her. “I’ll warm ye, no?”

 

Rather than answer, Claire leaned forcefully back against him and reached up, she brought the hand of the arm slung so tightly across her body to her lips and kissed the sensitive webbing between his thumb and index finger, licking playfully. Now it was his skin that broke out in gooseflesh. She could feel his abs clench in response. She settled his hand back across her body,  slightly lower down which was more a more comfortable fit for her as she had no intention of letting go of his hand.

 

Jamie closed his eyes breathing in the crisp night air. They were packed together tightly for the bonfire celebration. Pressed in the middle of the crowd, they could see the flames but didn’t feel the warmth. The band wasn’t half bad, now that the darkness was setting in, they at least played with more enthusiasm. Claire had thoughtfully brought a flask and there was no place he’d rather be than right here, with this woman in his arms. Moving of its own volition, his thumb stretched out a wee bit and brushed against her erect nipple. Jamie had not consciously realized what he was doing until Claire eased her grip so he could stretch his fingers out a little more. Her butt wriggled against him. Jamie bent forward and blew against her hair, pushing it out of the way and leaning in to kiss her neck.

 

“Oh!” Claire startled, though the noise level was loud enough that he barely heard her.

 

He knew how sensitive her neck was and the combination of cool breeze, hot lips and featherlight touches on her nipple made it impossible for her to stand still. She tried to turn around in his arms to kiss him.

 

He bit down -- not hard enough to hurt but firm enough to hold her in place. He put his mouth against her ear to be heard.

 

“Sassenach, ye’ll be still, aye. Otherwise we’ll attract notice and I dinna think ye’d care overmuch for such attentions?”

 

Jamie threw the plaid he had slung around his arm over the two of them, the move, with her facing front and away from him looked perfectly innocent, gallant even. But underneath, his hand pulled her shirt up, baring her abdomen, proving easy access to her front clasp bra. He deftly sprung the clasp and took the fullness of her breast into his solid, warm hand, pinching her nipple his fingers. Her mouth twisted up into his jaw, their heights impossible for her to equalize.

 

“Jamie!” she hissed as she grabbed his hand in hers. He laughed, understanding she meant to force his hand more firmly into her and not discourage him.

“Are ye wet mo chirdle?” he asked in what Claire had come to think of as his hushed “don’t spook the horses” voice. It made her shiver some more.

 

“I canna wait to find out. I’ll slowly run my hand down yer wee tummy, tease ye, ye’ll be wondering if I’ll move my hand lower now….”

 

In illustration Jamie dipped just one finger inside her waistband as his other hand kept a steady rhythm, now moving to her other breast.

 

“Or mayhap he’ll do so now?” At this Jamie moved his hand over the top of her skirt and deliberately pressed her clothes hard against her mound, not her clit.

 

“No’ this time, Sassenach.” he said, stating the obvious.

 

Her moan was drowned out by the screaming of the crowd around them, she hoped the movement of a group of sorority girls to her left would distract Jamie enough for her to move her crotch within finger reach but he moved with her, keeping distance.  

 

He kissed her cheek and she turned her face to reach his lips, thank God he was so tall, she needed a kiss, needed to feel his tongue somewhere on her.  He prolonged the kiss, tongue kept time with his wicked, roving hands. Someone bumped into them, knocking his hand askew. Claire resented the loss of touch and leaned her back heavily against him, firmly tucking her bottom against him as she turned her head looking for his lips.  

 

“Please….Jamie…” she whispered as Jamie drew her back to him by soft pressure along her jawline.

 

He was watching her, eyes dazed, lips swollen. His arousal had, up until that point, been largely centered in his brain, but no longer. Jesus, she could make him hammer hard with just her eyes. He needed to touch her body again. She sighed in relief as she felt one hand grip her breast and the other slowly migrate south again.

 

“Ye feel it, no?” he said, keeping up the verbal seduction in her ear as his hand finally dipped inside her skirt. Yet he denied her his bare fingers against her soft center, playing with the outside of her underwear instead. She moaned as she felt him pressing hard against her core.

 

“Oh, aye, ye do!” His delighted response at discovering the seat of her panties completely drenched resulted in another gush from her.  

 

His voice rumbled in a low dirty response as his tongue flicked the sensitive spot behind her ear. He wondered if she had ever been so wet with her own arousal that she could feel it dripping down her thighs. Perhaps tonight would be the night as her cream had, by now, completely coated his fingers. His cock was straining to get to her.

 

“Christ, Sassenach!” he said appreciatively.   

 

Jamie wondered if she could tell he was so turned on at this point he was literally shaking with need-- not the need to pleasure himself, but for the joy he could bring her. He pressed hard into her clit. The heat and the wet of her was intoxicating.

 

“If we were alone, a leannan, the only sound we’d hear would be yer wee noises and the squelch of my fingers playing with you. My mouth is watering just thinking of how ye’d taste.”

 

Her knees buckled, but he easily supported her, keeping her upright and facing forward. Her hips twisted, chasing him down.  It was too loud for him to hear the gasping breathes he had no doubt she was making now.

 

He loved this. Not the public sex. As a rule, he wasn’t an exhibitionist. No, what he loved was the challenge of it-- trying to bring her off when they had limited options for movement and action. He knew she was conscious on some level of not wanting to be caught and that added another element of thrill. But more than that, taking each other in such circumstances meant they had to be creative and find new ways to touch or tease, different positions, discover erogenous zones untouched. Nothing was static, nothing routine.

 

That he could rouse her body to his in a hundred different ways struck a powerful, deep and joyful chord within him. Claire easily overtook all of his senses. Just being in the same room with her caused a physical stir in him. Adding in taste and smell and feel made him want to rut like a stag, mindlessly plunging into her over and over again. Not that they hadn’t done that, too. But this made him feel less like an animal overwhelmed by her nearness, helplessly acting on  impulse. It frightened him as much as aroused him. While he was not willing to examine it too closely, he understood that the challenge of such adventures returned a feeling of control to him essential when he was forced to stay present, mindful always of where they were, who they were with, what he could and could not do under the circumstances.

 

The crowd was shouting now in response to some prompt from the stage. Good, that meant no one was looking at them. He sucked her neck hard. She whimpered. The crowd surged but he held them in place, pulling her to him hard, one hand firmly across her waist, the other dipping and playing along her pantyline, darting in and out teasing her skin with fingertips but never touching her center.

 

He was aware of the crowd in a “from the corner of his eye” kind of way but kept himself attuned to her, only her. Teasing the juncture of her groin, pinching her nipples, first one, then the other. His mouth flooded with saliva wanting to touch tongue to puckered bud. He could not help grinding into her firm, round arse.There was a delighted swell of noise from the crowd as the band and fans engaged in a back and forth call and response. Jamie had no idea what they were saying to each other. In the pauses of silence in between, he bent back to her ear.

 

“I can make ye come for me just by doing this, can’t I?” he said. “Without ever touching my fingers to ye directly?” She grunted her agreement.  He knew she was fast crossing the line between fully engaged to completely desperate. “If I wished, I’d have ye crying out for me, riding my fingers, no? Imagine, Sassenach, if only I would just press them into yer…. sweet….. juicy…. pussy.”  Jamie punctuated each word with the hard press of each finger poised on a different part of her vagina.

 

“Yes, God, please!” she moaned.

 

Claire leaned heavily on him, unable to manage the pretense any longer. Desperate to come, teased too long, her hands looked for purchase against his thighs, something, anything to anchor her movement. Jamie pressed one thigh between her legs from behind, she whimpered in relief understanding that he had solved her problem. At once giving her something to hold onto and something to grind against. He chuckled noting how quickly she adjusted herself but she was hampered by the fact that the fabric of her skirt was bunched up between her and his hard thigh. If she were to reach behind her and touch him, he’d be coming in his pants like a schoolboy petting his first girl, but she was mindless of anything save her own need. He was getting far too close himself.  He had to end it before he lost it entirely.

 

“Aye, that’s it, mo nighean donn, rock against me, harder.” Jamie encouraged, contracting the muscles of his leg to solid steel as he took his hand from her breast and pushed her down hard on his leg in illustration. Claire began to tilt her hips in earnest, craving the friction. Jamie was lost as well, his arm helping her make deeper circles, their movements now obvious for what they were if anyone cared to look at them now. Jamie could not stop, possessed by the need to satisfy her. Claire was whimpering louder, in the quiet pauses of the crowd he could hear her then the roar of the crowd would swell, echoing the rush of blood in his ears. Jamie almost broke his own rule, his fingers curled helplessly against the seat of her panties in mock imitation of the one act that would break Claire in a second, pushing them deep inside, touching the meaty heart of her center. His thumb touched her just so and his heart nearly stopped feeling her hand suddenly grip his wrist trying to force him inside her. She was moaning now, crooning to herself over and over. He bit his lip fighting for control. He told her she’d come for him without that and by God that is what he meant to do.

 

“I want to rip yer skirt up and pull yer panties down to yer ankles right here, I dinna care who’s watching! I need ye so, my Sassenach! I’d be inside ye in seconds yer so slippery and ye would rock yerself on me like that, oh just like that.” He began to flick and pulse his fingers over her using his middle knuckle to press her panties into her, the moist heat thrilling to him. He could just feel the pouty lips of her entrance give way and he pulsed knuckle and thumb in time with each other.

 

“Fuck me please! Harder!” Claire cried out riding the sensation.

 

“My cock is so hard thinking of you on yer knees, legs spread wide open, dripping like ye are right now.” He heard a higher squeak. “I’m thinking of ye sliding down on me, yer whiskey eyes rolling back into yer head as you sit slowly on me, pushing down all the way until ye are completely full of me.” Jamie hugged her to him hard, pulling her off her feet and forcing her weight to rest on his fingers, her clit squeezing and jumping in response. “A leanan, I love it when arch yer back it makes ye so tight and ye moan and use me to stroke yer clit. Can ye feel yerself like that? Ye quiver and I feel it deep in my balls, the twitching as it curls through ye, then to me and I can feel myself getting larger so ready for it and you, God, I want to split you like a hot, juicy peach wide open, dripping down--” She stopped consciously moving, instead she was  shuddering and keening. His whole body responded to hers and he cried out, “Oh fuck! yes, Claire!”

 

Hearing her name, used only when in deepest emotion is what did it. Claire’s high pitched scream was remarkably well timed with the end of the band’s set, one more going wild in the crowd would not be noticeable.

 

Jamie stretched out her orgasm as long as he could rubbing her clit, moving in time with her as she shuddered over and over against him. He stopped thinking, willing himself to be just in this moment with her, holding her as she came again and again. She had lost all awareness now, mindless in her need and like nothing he had ever experienced. Ah Dhia! She filled all his senses once more. In the upwell of his emotions, he felt tears gather at the corner of his closed eyes. His breathing was as erratic as hers, heart beating wildly.

 

“I love you. I love you. I love you.” echoed over and over in his head. Belatedly he realized he had said that out loud -- and in English no less. His heart literally stopped when he felt another rush from her body spilling over his fingers. He grunted in surprise when he felt his cock spurt in answer. He hung on, riding the sensation.

 

Afterward he would think, he would worry over what it all meant. He knew it was far too soon to tell her what was in his heart. For now it was enough to hold her to him, feeling her relax against him, trusting him to hold her and see her safe. The wealth of emotion sprung from him, unstoppable, out of control at times. Had he scared her with his admission? He stopped worrying over it just now, listening instead to the sounds of the crowd surrounding them and the echo of his heart beating in time with hers.