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My Sassenach

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Previously- 

“Elephant in the room then,” Jamie said seriously and Claire felt her heart sink somewhere to her feet. She knew that it was going to come up eventually and she had braced herself for it all night. Though if Jamie didn’t want to see her anymore, he probably wouldn’t have stayed for dinner. But he probably would want to know all about the date and Claire wasn’t looking forward to that part.

Claire nodded solemnly. She had sworn to herself that she would tell him anything he wanted to know and that she would show him the messages and delete the app. Regardless if he didn’t want to date her, she would delete the app. She’d had enough of the one off dates for a long time anyway.

“We’ve a choice to make here. And it will affect the rest of our night together, so I want ye to think about this carefully. Right?”

Jamie’s voice was soft and Claire was willing her body to stop shaking with nerves. She liked him so much. Why did she have to like him so much? She shouldn’t be this nervous. There was nothing going on between her and anyone else. But if Jamie said that he didn’t want to see her again, she would be crushed. She really liked him.

“Are ye ready?” Jamie asked seriously and Claire took a deep breath.

“Now. I see ye have Connect Four and Monopoly. So. Which is it?”

 

----

 

“I’m sorry?” Claire asked, dumbfounded.

“It’s the elephant in the room. I’ve been wonderin’ all night and I canna wait to see what ye choose,” Jamie continued happily, as if he hadn’t heard Claire at all.

“Connect four- verra simple sounding game, but ye need a good strategy- ye need to ken yer opponent.”

“We’re doing what now?” Claire tried to interrupt, but Jamie carried on.

“Monopoly’s been known to ruin marriages, friendships, relationships. It’s not just strategy, it’s greed and a wee bit of luck.”

“You want to play a board game?” Claire clarified as Jamie sat looking at her expectantly.

“Aye, what did ye think I was asking ye about?”

The smug bastard. He knew exactly what he was doing and of course there was part of Claire that knew this was her comeuppance for going on the other date but at the same time- he was a bloody smug bastard about it.

“I wasn’t sure,” Claire answered cautiously. She moved from the couch to fetch one of the games and looked back over her shoulder at Jamie, “You don’t have a preference then?”

“Oh I have a preference about yer choices, Sassenach. But it is yer decision after all.”

The air was thick with the double meaning and Claire looked back to the cupboard, trying to weigh her options. She also had Hungry Hungry Hippos but Jamie hadn’t mentioned that one. She supposed there wasn’t really a third option, unless she counted Hungry Hungry Hippos as Horny Horny Beauchamp, in which case she hoped that the third option would be explored later in the night.

“Connect Four,” Claire announced decisively as she pulled the game from the cupboard. “A game of strategy and knowing your opponent, didn’t you say? Should be fun.”

“Aye Sassenach. I believe it will.”

Three rounds. Three rounds she had lost to Jamie and now she was getting frustrated. Frustrated not only for losing, but for the comments that Jamie was making throughout each and every loss.

“Ye dinna want to be puttin’ that there. Unless ye’re tryin’ to lose. Are ye tryin’ to lose, Sassenach?”

“And ye see, when ye are’na payin’ attention to what I’m doing on the left. Ye’ll lose on the right.”

“Yer supposed to get four in a row, no’ just three.”

“Shall we reset? Are ye ready to lose again?”

By the fourth time, Claire had had enough and she huffed heavily as Jamie separated the coloured plastic discs once more.

“Ye ready?”

Clearly it was going to drastic action to win against Jamie. Maybe… even… possibly…. just a little bit of cheating? No, she couldn’t stoop that low… could she?

“I’m ready,” Claire nodded solemnly, her eyes on the blue grid separating them. Jamie made a soft sort of grunt and Claire glanced at him quickly. “What?”

“Are ye sure yer ready?” Jamie asked as he picked up his yellow coin and held it precariously over a gap in the middle.

Claire nodded resolutely, her eyes focused on the game in front of her. She was going to win this round.

“If yer sure…” Jamie said as he carelessly let the plastic coin drop into place.

Claire bit her lip as she concentrated. She had been playing hard defence against him, trying to stop him from scoring and somehow she always lost. It was time she went on the attack. Picking up a red coin her eyes briefly brushed over Jamie’s face, to see him watching her intently before she placed her coin.

They went back and forth silently, only the sound of the plastic tokens hitting their targets between them. As their tokens dwindled, Jamie shuffled uncomfortably and Claire saw it. Finally she saw it- an opportunity for her to win. Two possible moves that would seal the deal for her. Either side of one of Jamie’s yellow tokens. She could actually win a round against him.

To play to the left or the right of the yellow, that was the real question. She wondered if Jamie had seen the same thing that she had and she glanced up at him quickly. He wasn’t looking at the game at all, but rather openly watching her as she went to make her move. She nodded to herself and picked up her token. She was going to win this. She was hovering between the two when Jamie spoke.

“So how was yer date the other night?” He asked casually and Claire dropped the token in surprise, landing it directly on top of Jamie’s.

“I want that back!” She said automatically as Jamie scoffed with laughter. “You distracted me, I didn’t mean for it to go there.”

“Too late now, Sassenach,” Jamie said smugly as he let his next piece slide into place, blocking one of her options.

“Cheat,” Claire mumbled as she fiddled with her next red piece. Now she would need to re-think her entire strategy, not to mention her heart was beating irregularly with the question from Jamie.

“Ye did’na answer my question,” Jamie continued as if he hadn’t heard her.

“It was fine,” Claire answered with a furrowed brow as she slid her next token in place, trying to get her upper hand back.

“Aye?” Jamie sounded nonchalant but she could see his fingers fiddling with one of the coins. He looked nervous.

“Do you really want me to tell you?” Claire asked as Jamie went to drop his next piece into place.

“Do ye want to tell me?” He asked carefully, his fingers hovering over the bar, waiting for Claire to answer.

“I want to tell you anything you want to know,” She answered precisely as she watched the coin fall into place. Jamie must have not been paying attention to the game anymore because his move left her wide open to finally “Connect Four” and win.

Jamie made his grunting sort of sound in acknowledgment and Claire fiddled with her own token waiting for him to answer her properly.

“Shall we…” Jamie’s voice broke and he cleared his throat quickly, “Shall we put away the game then?”

“Are you only asking that because I’m about to win?” Claire grinned as she held up her final piece.

“No ye… are...n’t...hmm,” Jamie said slowly as she watched him figure out her move. “Well, I’ll be damned.”

Claire laughed happily as she let her final piece fall and she finally won. Jamie shook his head in disbelief.

“Congratulations,” he said as she slid the game out of the way and sat to face him properly.

“Thank you, about bloody time,” she replied.

They sat looking at each other, neither one quite knowing where to start.

“Do ye mind if I hold yer hand?” Jamie asked nervously. “It always seems a bit easier to talk to ye when I’m touching ye.”

Claire nodded enthusiastically, hoping that he couldn’t tell that she was shaking like a leaf.

“So,” Jamie cleared his throat again, “ye said that it went fine. Any… what… care to elaborate?”

Claire would have laughed at Jamie’s effort at sounding nonchalant if she wasn’t so nervous herself. She shouldn’t be nervous of course. She had made her decision, she wanted to pursue her relationship with Jamie- it was just that if Jamie said that he’d thought about it, and after her going on a date with someone else, he’d never trust her and they should end things, well… that wasn’t exactly ideal. Though they were holding hands, and it didn’t seem like the situation where you would hold hands, only to break up with someone.

Claire sighed heavily and tried to force herself to relax. It didn’t work.

“Well, I was late, so it wasn’t a great start… come to think of it, it wasn’t a great middle or end really.” She said more to herself than to him when she heard Jamie release a breath she didn’t know that he had been holding. “We saw Mary, Queen of Scots. The movie was very good. Margot Robbie is just brilliant. But we… I don’t know how much detail you want me to go into.”

“However much ye want to tell me. But first… can… I just need to… are ye going to see him again?” Jamie stuttered over his words and she felt his grip on her hand tighten slightly.

“Oh, god no!” She answered quickly. “Sorry, I should have started with that.”

“Christ, Sassenach,” Jamie breathed in relief. “I was just about havin’ a heart attack over here.”

“Sorry,” Claire snorted with laughter, her nerves getting the better of her. “Sorry. No, Jamie. No plans to see him again.”

“Right, I feel much better hearing about this date then, go on,” he encouraged. His fingers which previously were holding her hand with an almost vise-like grip, were now relaxed and had started rubbing soothing patterns across her palm.

“Well, as I said, we saw a movie. Oh. He called me Dear. We’d only just met and he called me Dear, so that was an immediate turn-off.”

“What’s wrong with “Dear”?” Jamie asked hesitantly.

“Nothing really,” Claire answered with a shrug, “just not for someone you’d only just met.”

Jamie scoffed with laughter. “Is it any pet name that ye dinna like? Or just tha’ one? Just want to make sure ye are’na immediately turned off by anything I call ye.”

“I mean, you call me “Sassenach”,” Claire reasoned. “Which I actually told him that… and it made me laugh because I suppose the English equivalent of it- is bitch, and then I thought about him affectionately calling me bitch and that made me laugh and I tried to explain that to him and he did not at all understand that joke, so I suppose that was another red flag- what?” Claire stopped abruptly seeing the look on Jamie’s face.

“I dinna call ye a bitch, Claire.”

“No, no!” Claire exclaimed quickly. “I just meant… urgh,” she groaned, wanting to put her head in her hands. “It was just funny to me… and I know now that you don’t mean anything derogatory by it. I mean, I’ve had patients call me a “fucking sass-en-ack” every now and again for me to figure out it’s not a particularly polite name. But how you say it is different- how you mean it is different… or at least I hope how you mean it is different, else we’ll be needing to have an entirely different conversation.”

Jamie huffed out a laugh but he still looked uncomfortable. “I can stop sayin’ it, if it upsets ye.”

“It doesn’t. Truly. I promise. It was just a thought that made me laugh and…” Claire paused trying to decide how open she wanted to be with him. “I like it, Jamie. Very much.”

Jamie nodded, seeming appeased and Claire continued. “Anyway, we didn’t really talk that much before the movie and you’re right, seeing a movie for a first date is a terrible idea. We went for a coffee after it though, and… you know it was fine, but then we said goodnight… and.. Uhh… That was it.”

“What happened?” Jamie asked carefully. Claire had hesitated over the ending of the date and she hoped that Jamie didn’t know her well enough to pick it up. Apparently she was wrong.

“Nothing, I left him on the curb and I went home.”

“Yer not telling me something. I can see it on yer face.”

“He kissed me,” she said quickly, as if saying it faster would do less damage. “He kind of landed one on me when I wasn’t expecting him to.”

“Did he force himself on ye?” Jamie asked, his voice was tense and the soothing strokes of his fingers abruptly stopped.

“No, no! Nothing like that. I was just turning to get in the car and he surprised me. I pulled away immediately… I didn’t really say goodbye, I just sort of… drove off.”

“That’s assault, Claire,” Jamie said seriously and she could see a mottle of red rising on his neck.

“No, it really wasn’t anything like that. He didn’t… you know it wasn’t…” Claire spluttered.

“Did ye want him to kiss ye?” Jamie asked tensely.

“No,” she answered indignantly.

“Did ye tell him that ye wanted him to kiss ye?”

“Not at all. Jamie it wasn’t like that.”

“But it is like that,” Jamie said. “If ye did’na give yer consent, it’s assault.”

“Jamie… It was a date,” Claire said in exasperation

“That does’na make it okay,” Jamie argued back. “Ye dinna owe him anything, just because yer on a date.”

“I never said I did!”

“But yer acting like it was alright,” Jamie said gruffly as he shook his head. He squeezed her hand tightly as if it would help him to make his point.

“It definitely wasn’t alright, but it’s not worth it to me… I don’t feel the need to report him to the police or anything like that. I know that I will never see him again. It was a misunderstanding.”

Jamie huffed in frustration and Claire squeezed his hand tightly. “Well, not quite a misunderstanding but really, I’m alright. It wasn’t a big deal and I do understand what you are saying, but I am okay.”

“No one should touch ye without yer consent. I spent the whole night of yer “date”,” Jamie spat the word, “wondering if ye were alright, if ye were falling in lov- if ye’d ever want to see me again. Then I hear that this other lad forced himself… kissed ye without yer consent and it makes me see red.”

“I understand,” Claire nodded seriously. “But I am never going to see him again… so it’s done and dusted. There’s nothing else there and so there’s no point revisiting it. Trust me.”

Jamie didn’t look even remotely happy at her explanation but he nodded in agreement not to push the issue any further. She couldn’t really blame him for his reaction. He had to be feeling insecure about her going on another date. Maybe insecure was the wrong word because surely he didn’t feel as deeply about her as she did about him, but then she was reminded of how her own insecurities had flared when she thought that he was on a date with someone else. Jamie’s forehead was wrinkled and he looked like he wanted to argue his point further.

“I want to show you something,” Claire said as Jamie released her hand and she picked up her phone from the coffee table. “The messages between him… Frank and I, so you know that there’s nothing else there and that I won’t be seeing him again… if you’d like.”

“I dinna need to do that,” Jamie shook his head as he smiled at her. His cheeks flushed slightly.

Claire held out her phone to him but he still didn’t take it. “It’s just that… I don’t know how to say this without sounding crazy,” Claire groaned as Jamie waited patiently for her to organise her thoughts.

“I erm… I made a bad error in my judgement by making plans with this other guy and not cancelling the date after we had cleared things up between us. I would like to… wipe the slate clean as it were. I don’t want you to think that I have a multitude of men behind the scenes that I am seeing and that… I don’t know… that I am making myself available to them as a… as a safety net. So I’m… I was going to delete the app from my phone, so you would know… so that we could… we’d know where we both stand.”

Jamie didn’t say anything in response and so Claire plowed on through her explanation.

“I thought it might be a bit more reassuring for you to read the messages, that I wasn’t making any plans to see anyone else before I deleted the app.”

“I dinna… if ye tell me that ye are’na seein’ anyone else, I’ll believe ye.”

“But if you wanted to be sure, I wouldn’t mind,” Claire answered as she held out her phone to him again and he took it from her cautiously. “You can start at the top if you like.”

Jamie met her eyes briefly, almost as if he was assuring himself that this was what she wanted before his eyes focused on the screen in front of him. As much as he had hesitated taking her phone he couldn’t quite disguise his interest in her conversation with the other man.

Claire sat silently watching as his blue eyes ran back and forth across the screen feeling a sense of panic creep in. Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea. After explaining her date, she wasn’t sure how Jamie was going to react to the unending barrage of messages that Frank had sent.

Jamie grunted roughly and as Claire picked at her nails she wondered where he was up to.

“Weel,” he said with a sigh, still clutching her phone tightly in his hands, “he certainly hasn’t given up hope that he’ll see ye again.”

“What do you mean?” Claire asked in surprise. “He accused me of immaturity and I stopped responding.”

“Weel, he seems to have turned a corner overnight and thinks that ye’ll be seeing him sometime this week.” The corner of Jamie’s mouth twitched with amusement as Claire’s jaw dropped open.

“I didn’t lead him on. You saw that from the messages, right?” Claire grabbed her phone back and scrolled through the multitude of messages that she had been (not-so) politely ignoring.

“Oh aye, ye were very clear, I hope to God I never get a message like that from ye,” Jamie grinned.

“I was perfectly cordial!” Claire exclaimed before she glanced up at him. “You’re enjoying this!” she accused, “You’re getting enjoyment from this!”

“Not at all, Sassenach.” Jamie was openly smiling at her, amusement clear on his face.

“Fucking sadist, so much for not needing to see the messages” she said under her breath looking back at her phone as Jamie scoffed with laughter. “Have you dealt with this before? A date that won’t drop it?” Jamie suddenly shifted uncomfortably and she glanced back at him quickly. “What?”

“Nah, I have’na had that problem.”

“What aren’t you telling me?” She asked, her eyebrows furrowing in confusion as she clicked her phone blank and tossed it onto the coffee table.

“Well, I have’na exactly…” Jamie twitched as if his shirt was irritating his back.

“What?”

“I have’na been on a lot of dates from… this... from ye ken…”

“You haven’t been on the app that long?”

Jamie shook his head in response and Claire could see the mottled red creeping up his neck again.

“How many?” She asked bluntly.

“How many what?” He stalled.

“How many elephants are there in India?” Claire asked sarcastically. “How many dates?”

“Three,” Jamie mumbled, his eyes now focused intently on his knees.

“Three women,” Claire repeated. “That’s nothing to be ashamed about.”

“Three dates, Sassenach. One woman,” Jamie clarified as his fingers tapped an uneasy beat on his knee.

“Oh,” Claire answered in surprise. “Oh Christ,” She repeated as she realised what that meant. “I was your first date… your only date… and…. oh shit, I took your virginity. Jesus H Roosevelt. Christ.”

“I have been on dates before,” Jamie said uncomfortably. “Just not through… I just have’na met someone through… like tha’ before.”

Claire was feeling a bit faint. She was his first date- meeting a stranger from an app and then they had gone home together. It was a miracle that he still wanted to see her.

“Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ,” Claire repeated under her breath. The first date. The first time he had sex. A lot of firsts. And then she’d gone on a date with another man. He had no experience with these kinds of things. He probably thought that Claire was going to go home with Frank… because she was so experienced and all, good lord, what he must think of her.

“I’m not a slut. I mean, I don’t sleep around. Not that there’s anything wrong with women that want to do that- or men. I’m not judging them. I just… I don’t usually sleep with men on their first date… on a first date,” she corrected herself, wincing as the unfortunate word choice, “I didn’t go home with Frank.”

“I never said that ye were,” Jamie replied in confusion.

“We… it was your first date and I took you back to my place and took your virginity… Jesus, what an introduction to the dating world. You must think… what you must think of me!” Claire felt like her heart had stopped and jumped out the window during Jamie’s revelation, however now it had forcibly slammed itself back into her chest and was pounding at triple the normal speed.

“I don’t think anything of ye,” Jamie said in surprise, before he realised what that must have sounded like and shook his head before starting again. “I mean, I didn’t think anything bad about it. We had chatted back and forth for a while before the date, so I sort of felt like I already kent ye. By the the first date ye were’na a stranger anymore. I also seem to recall being more than willing… to… for the… later part of the night.” Jamie stumbled over the last few words and Claire felt her heart swell with endearment for him.

“As for yer other date, weel, I was terrified that ye wouldn’t want to see me again, sure, but I also thought that ye would at least come and talk to me about it. When ye sent me that message telling me that I was right and that ye shouldn’t have gone on the date, weel, I was counting down the hours till I could see ye again.”

“But… but you… should you maybe go on more dates, before we… settle this?” Claire offered, although the thought of Jamie seeing anyone else in a romantic setting was enough to shut that idea down very quickly and she immediately regretted offering it. She remembered her reaction to even thinking that he was on another date, and the woman was his sister. What she would actually do if he took her up on it… well… she didn’t want to think about that.

“Settle, aye?” Jamie asked cheekily and she rolled her eyes at him. “Nah, I dinna want to date anyone else, Claire. I think I’ve made that verra clear.”

“You have, yes,” she nodded thoughtfully. “I don’t know why, but I just feel the need to apologise.”

“Ye’ve no reason to apologise,” Jamie shook his head and smiled at her. “And to be clear, I have gone on dates before. But they’ve always been set up by a friend or my sister. So dinna be thinking that I have’na “dated” anyone. It’s just… I have’na done… done it this way before.”

“Seems like you haven’t done a lot of things,” Claire said under her breath before she could tell her brain not to say anything at all. She looked up at Jamie, mortified that he’d heard her.

“Aye, but I’m a quick study, Sassenach.”

Claire swallowed heavily.

--

“Back to my original question,” Claire began again as Jamie looked at her curiously, “you’ve really never dated someone that wouldn’t let it go?”

Jamie huffed out a laugh and wiped his hands on his jeans. “Aye, that I have, a few.”

“Ohh, now I’m interested,” Claire grinned.

“Are we really doin’ this?” Jamie asked as he settled himself comfortably next to Claire.

“Doing what?” She asked as Jamie lifted her legs casually and slung them across his own, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. His fingers started to play with a loose thread from the rip in her jeans.

“Dating history. We’re really going to hash it all out tonight?” he asked mischievously. She felt goosebumps breakout on her calves as his fingers brushed against the bare skin of her knee.

“I don’t see why not. We’ll end up talking about it eventually anyway. Why not now?” Claire tried to shrug casually, but the warmth of Jamie’s large hand casually on her thigh was making her flush.

“We’ll talk about it eventually?” Jamie repeated. “Then there’ll be more nights like this?”

“I assume so,” Claire answered in confusion. Maybe they weren’t on the same page? She had thought that by showing Jamie the messages from Frank and confirming that she wasn’t about to go on any more dates with anyone but Jamie just about sealed the deal between the two of them.

Jamie wasn’t planning on seeing anyone else.

Claire wasn’t planning on seeing anyone else.

What was the issue?

“It’s just that, we have’na said it…” Jamie suddenly couldn’t meet her eyes and his cheeks turned an alarming shade of red.

“Said what? That we are seeing each other?” Claire clarified bluntly. “Sure we have.”

“No’ officially,” Jamie mumbled. “Last time I tried, ye would’na let me.”

“Well then, by all means, go ahead,” Claire grinned at him. It all felt so very high school and Claire found that she didn’t mind one bit.

“Claire Beauchamp,” Jamie began after clearing his throat.

“James Fraser,” she interrupted just as seriously.

“Will ye, do the honour of becoming my girlfriend- sorry, my exclusive girlfriend? I dinna want there to be any confusion as to what we are.” He tried to sound confident, and he was smiling, but Claire could hear his voice shake slightly, and his fingers were drumming quite heavily on her left knee.

“How could I refuse?” Claire smiled so widely that it hurt her cheeks. There was something extremely charming about the innocence of Jamie that she couldn’t help but like.

“Now that that’s settled...May I kiss ye?” He asked, his voice a touch lower than usual.

“I don’t know what’s stopping you,” Claire answered before he was cupping her cheeks and she was lost to the feeling of his lips against her own.

“That was a fairly good distraction,” Claire said once she had got her breath back.

One kiss had turned into a rather intense make out session- the likes of which Claire had not experienced since she was 16 years old with her high school boyfriend rushing to kiss before her Uncle Lamb returned from work.

Admittedly, Jamie was a much better kisser than Joshua Roberts- James was much more confident, much better looking, much… much more of everything if she really thought about it. She’d come a long way since the gangly limbed, awkward Claire of her teenage years.

“I was’na tryin’ to distract ye,” Jamie replied somewhat breathlessly. He was in obvious discomfort as his jeans grew tighter and Claire found the whole thing rather endearing.

“Clingy girlfriends. I think that’s where we were.”

At the start of the kiss Claire’s legs had been across Jamie’s lap. Throughout the kiss she had been maneuvered onto her back as Jamie blanketed her body with his own. He kept the majority of his weight on his elbows and she felt him shaking with effort over her as he tried not to crush her into the couch. With the occasional roll of his hips against her own, as if he couldn’t help himself, Claire was thoroughly flushed and breathless.

“Do ye really want to ken about that?” Jamie whined as he shuffled on the couch, trying to adjust himself nonchalantly and failing miserably.

“As you are fairly new to the dating game, yes, I am wildly curious about it,” Claire answered with a wide grin. Jamie, innocent Jamie, with his masterful mouth and quick wit- yes she wanted to know absolutely everything she could about him, as quickly as possible, including all the ghosts of girlfriends past.

“Am’nae “new” to the dating game,” Jamie said, making finger quotes around the word, “just to the… This part. The online part,” he clarified after a moment's pause.

“You’re stalling,” Claire teased as she watched a splotchy flush of red appear on his throat.

Jamie made a grunting sort of scoff and rolled his eyes in exaggeration before he began.

“There was a lass I dated just out of high school. Jenny- my sister, was at university with her older brother Gordon. His younger sister- Gen, was always hanging about the group.”

Claire waited patiently for him to continue, which he did after another groan.

“Anyway, Gordon was gettin’ sick of her hanging about the group all the time so he suggested to Jenny that I should ask Gen out.”

“How old was Gen?” Claire interrupted.

“Must have been 17. I was only 18 I think.” Jamie paused thoughtfully before shaking his head and continuing. “Anyway, Jenny begged me to take her out and bein’ the saintly brother that I am, I did.”

Claire scoffed with laughter at that and Jamie looked at her in mock outrage.

“What?”

“Saintly brother, were you? I don’t believe that for a second. What did she look like?”

Jamie shrugged casually. “I dinna recall, to be honest wi’ ye.”

Claire laughed harder than that. “Of course you do. You just don’t want to say.”

Jamie rolled his eyes at Claire in exaggeration. “She had brown hair, blue eyes. That’s about all I remember.”

“Very believable,” Claire muttered sarcastically. “How long were you two an item?”

Jamie tilted his head to look at the ceiling as he tried to remember. “Must have been… six months or less.”

“What was the nail in the coffin?”

Jamie raised his eyebrow at her in question and Claire continued.

“I mean, why did you break up? How did it lead to her being a clingy girlfriend?”

“Oh, Geneva was stupidly spoiled. Loved to get her own way and would throw a tantrum when she did’na. I expect that’s why her parents made Gordon have her around him so often. I kent that we would’na last but like I said, saintly brother and all, I promised Jenny that I would take her out.”

“For six months?” Claire asked, grinning at him.

“Aye, she was alright some of the time. If it was just the two of us, but as soon as we were out with other people- She liked to show off. I did’na like that.”

“So..” Claire prompted when Jamie went quiet.

“So,” he continued with a sigh, “when I broke up wi’ her she threw a fit. I’d never seen anythin’ like it. She threw a vase at me and it shattered against the wall. I did’na ken she felt so strongly about us. To be honest, I think she just was unhappy that she was’na the one doin’ the breaking up. After I left, I thought that was the end of it. That I would’na see her again and she would’na hang around wi’ Gordon and Jenny anymore because she did’na want to see me. But then she just went on like we did’na break up at all. I’d go out for a drink with some lads and she’d turn up. I did’na even ken how she kent where I’d be.” Jamie shook his head in disbelief as he remembered. “She’d hang herself all over me, while flirting’ wi’ my mates.”

“So how did she get the hint and stop coming after you?”

Jamie shrugged, almost in disbelief. “I dinna ken to be truthful. She started datin’ a much older gentleman and I think she forgot all about me. I did’na have a penny to my name, that seemed to help a bit, I think.”

“Oh, so you’re not rich, then? Perhaps we should end things here,” Claire said seriously. “I was only in it for the money.”

“Ha, ha, Sassenach,” Jamie laughed sarcastically. “What about ye? Any skeletons in the closet, ghosts of boyfriends that I should ken about?”

“None that were so clingy. But I have to say I’m far more fascinated about your backstory. You said you’ve had a few? Care to expand on that?”

“Ye really want to hear about it?” He asked again, slightly confused.

“Absolutely, I do,” Claire grinned widely. “The women that couldn’t let you go, the women that didn’t make the cut, I want all the gory details.”

Jamie sighed heavily fixing her with a sort of glare before his face broke into a smile and he shook his head at her.

“Well, then there was Laoghaire. She was relatively recent,” he began as Claire shifted into a more comfortable position on the couch. Her legs were slung over his lap again. She could watch him as he spoke from this position. Study him; see his eyes as he rolled them at her interruptions or watch his Adam’s Apple bob up and down as he swallowed when he was nervous.

“Jenny works wi’ her.”

“Does that mean you still see her?” Claire asked curiously.

“No’ often,” Jamie shook his head. “If I pick up Jen, of if they are havin’ a dram after work.”

“And she’s moved on?” Claire prompted.

“I suppose so. She does’na give me her puppy eyes anymore.”

“How long were you together?” Claire asked, wondering if she would cross paths at some point with this Laoghaire.

Jamie’s forehead wrinkled as he thought. “A little over a year… maybe a year and a half.”

“You’re not great with dates, are you?” Claire laughed as he started to count on his fingers.

“Aye, but I’ll remember July 15th, 16th and 19th 2019, trust me.”

“Why?” Claire asked stupidly as Jamie started to lean toward her.

“Because, Sassenach, July 15th was when I sent ye that first message about my nephew and I started a conversation with the most interesting woman I’d never met. July 16th was when ye asked me out for a drink, and July 19th was when I lost my virginity.”

Claire burst out with laughter as Jamie kissed her softly on the side of her mouth.

“Lost your virginity- important date to remember.”

“Well, the first date was important too, I guess,” Jamie conceded as Claire shook her head at him.

“Although, July 16th might be more important to you and Gellis than to you and me,” Claire said as Jamie’s warm hand slowly traveled up her thigh.

“Oh?” His hand stopped as he looked at her in confusion. “Why’s that?”

“Because Geillis actually asked you out. Not me. She was reviewing our messages to each other and she sent you the message asking you out for a drink.”

“Ye let her read our messages?” Jamie asked in what must have been embarrassment because his cheeks darkened considerably and his shoulders twitched as if his shirt had become too tight.

“Bold of you to think that I gave her permission to do any of it. No, she stole my phone, read the conversation and then sent you the message.” Claire shook her head at the memory. She could have killed Geillis in that moment, though it seemed to have worked out alright.

“Well then, thank you Geillis,” Jamie grinned as he bent to kiss Claire again.

“She also…” Claire was losing her train of thought as Jamie’s lips moved across her jaw. “She also… she… said… do you want to go to the bedroom?”

“Geillis asked if I’d like to go to the bedroom?” Jamie asked cheekily as he lifted his head and blinked up at her owlishly.

“Not Geillis. Me. Claire. I’m asking,” She answered breathlessly as Jamie grinned at her.

“God, yes.” His answer was quick as he picked her up from the couch with a squeal from Claire, and carried her to the bedroom.