It was Friday night, and James Fraser and his closest friends were in the Scotch & Rye Pub having a lads' night out. It had been a while since they got together, and for Jamie, it was a welcome distraction after a very long hectic day at work.
The pub was in full swing, filled with locals intent on binge-drinking and having a great time. The drinks flowed, the music from the jukebox blared loudly, and the place was bursting to the seams.
"Hey Finn, bring us another round of pint, will ye?" Rupert shouted to the barman from their table. Rupert was one of Jamie's trusted friend and right-hand at his whisky distillery, FRISEALACH, Gaelic root for the name Fraser.
Jamie shook his head as he peered into his watch. "No, man, I've had enough. I still have work to do aye, but ye lot carry on."
"C'mon pal, ye had only one drink, and ye've been nursing that pint the whole night. It must be warm like pish by now. For fuck sake, loosen up, it's Friday night," Angus, the head security of the distillery cajoled in a drunken slur as he gave Jamie's arm a playful punch.
"Yeah, Jamie, one more drink..." piped in his brother-in-law, Ian Murray.
"Sorry lads I'm driving, and I..." Jamie's sentence trailed off as his phone buzzed with a notification alerting him to an emergency sent by the dispatchers of Inverness Fire Department
"Fire at St. Agnes Orphanage...sorry lads, got to go," Jamie announced as he stood up and grabbed his leather jacket and car keys. Jamie's friends, momentarily stunned, dismissed him with a wave of their hands and muttered something in the way of "alright then," and "stay safe".
Although a self-made millionaire, Jamie Fraser, 28 years old, was an enlistee fire-fighter at Inverness Fire Department. It had always been a childhood dream to be a fireman; hence, he applied for the job. With his impressive height of 6'4, over-all fitness, and years of gym training and early morning runs, it wasn't a difficult feat to qualify for the volunteer post.
Running to the car, Jamie felt the adrenaline coursing through his veins and was hoping to make it sharp at the scene of action. He wasn't very far from the Fire Station, and he just about made it in the nick of time to put his gear on and hop into the fire engine.
It was after 11 pm when the truck transporting Jamie came to a halt at the scene of the crisis. It was chaotic, and the street was full of law enforcement and bystanders. Jamie quickly jumping out, strapped his protective helmet on and secured his tactical bag. He was immediately instructed by the barking Head Fire Officer and god-father, Murtagh, to get his arse into the 3 story building.
Fire-fighters from another district were already there running about pulling water hoses and herding children out from the building. Some were climbing up the mechanised ladders attached to the fire truck and some heading into the blazing inferno. Jamie Fraser quickly followed suit and ran into the building. He cursed under his breath as he almost collided into a group of frightened children and nuns herded by a colleague. "Keep moving, keep moving," he shouted as he made way for them to pass.
Jamie pushed on amidst the cries of panics and thick smoke. He went from room to room, kicking doors open and making sure there wasn't anybody left behind. Just as he was making his way up to the next floor, he saw a woman in her dressing gown leaning against the wall coughing heavily and shielding her nose and mouth from smoke inhalation. Without thinking, Jamie quickly ran up and caught her on time before she collapsed to the floor.
With hardly any effort, Jamie scooped the unconscious woman into his arms and carried her outside to safety. As they neared the ambulance, he glanced down at the motionless body he held. Although the woman's face was smudged with soot, he was astonished to discover how breathtakingly beautiful she was. Jamie felt his heart stop as he gazed into her perfect face with full sensual lips, pearl-white skin and that mass of dark curly hair framing the delicate look. His eyes travelled further down and rested upon her shapely breasts. The thin garment she was wearing left little to the imagination and Jamie felt a warm sensation surge through his body.
Instantaneously, the woman opened her eyes and Jamie, seeing she was alert, heaved as he drew a sharp intake of breath, as he stared at her, stunned. Her eyes were the most beautiful colour of bright amber, and the wild-eyed look made it even more startling. Whisky eyes, he thought. For Jamie, time stood still, and the entire furore that was happening was soon forgotten. He was surprised at the overwhelming sense of protectiveness that washed over him as he held the body close. All he wanted to do at that moment was to keep her forever and get lost in those pools of golden orbs.
The woman, confused and panicked, began to wriggle in his arms. "Let me down please, let me down...the children in the building..." she whimpered in a rasping voice and in a very notable English accent. Ah, Sassenach.
Jamie, at a loss with words and totally hypnotised by her eyes, continued to stare stupidly at her and when he tried to speak, no words came out. Eventually coming to his senses, Jamie brought her closer to his warmth, hushing and stroking, "Sssshhh, Sassenach, ye're safe now." He cradled her as if she was a child and whispered endearments and assurances in Gaelic in the hope of soothing away the fears.
When two medics came to relieve him of the woman, Jamie snapped out of his trance but kept his firm hold. He loathed giving up the warm bundle in his arms, but his god-father Murtagh was barking orders already, "For fuck sake Fraser, dinna just stand there...get yer arse back in the building."
Resigned, and cursing in Gaelic under his breath, he reluctantly let go. After one last backward glance at the woman, Jamie ran back towards the burning building. Damn, Fraser, snap out of it.
An hour passed, and finally, the fire was brought under control. There was a lot of damage, but after making a quick assessment of the aftermath, Jamie knew the structure was still solid. He made a mental note to donate towards the restoration first thing Monday morning.
Unstrapping his helmet, Jamie made his way back outside to look for the woman he rescued but noticed most of the emergency unit had left. He asked everywhere for the brown-haired lass, but no one knew of her existence. After asking every possible person that might have an inkling, Jamie felt disappointment sink at the pit of his stomach when nobody could recall an injured English woman. He couldn't stop thinking about her and was adamant he would search for her.
"English woman, you say, eh? Sorry, Fraser, I dinna think I attended to any English woman tonight. She's probably taken to the hospital already," one of the medics offered as an explanation.
"Aye, of course. I will go and check there. Thank ye, Aidan, and see ye around." Jamie said with a somewhat forced, smile.
Later on, in the early hours of the morning, back at the Fire Department, Jamie showered and changed into a fresh white shirt and jeans he kept in his own personal locker. Feeling refreshed, he made his way to the hall where the rest of his fire-fighting colleagues were back-slapping and congratulating each other for a good night's work.
"Hey Fraser, fancy a pint before going hame?" Murtagh shouted.
Jamie shook his head. "Naa, I'll pass...maybe another night," he replied, giving his god-father a hug and a slap on the back.
"Very weel, suit yersel' lad, but ye think ye can stop by here Monday at 10 am?" Murtagh asked his god-son. "I know ye have an empire to run and all, but we're having a general meeting, and I'd prefer it if everyone, including the volunteers, were present. And I want to introduce a new member, and if I recall right, Beauchamp is the name. What say ye, eh?"
Distracted, Jamie nodded, "Aye, I suppose I can do that. See you Monday morning."
After saying goodnights and farewells to his comrades, Jamie made his rounds to all the hospitals in Inverness looking for an English woman casualty. But none of the hospitals nor emergency departments had any record of her. After exhausting every avenue he can think of, it was 7 am before Jamie gave up his search and headed home.