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A Beautiful, Wild Country

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The smell of bacon and coffee woke me from my sleep. I quietly stretched and I opened my eyes to see Jamie standing over the small stove top in his boxers. The sun was streaming through a small window and he was beautifully lit, moving around the small kitchenette with a practiced ease. I wanted to lay there and watch him move for hours but the sight of his back made my stomach drop. Curling myself into a ball under the covers, I lay on my side facing him.

“Will you tell me how it happened?” My voice was hoarse and I cleared my throat as he turned to look at me, smiling sadly.

“No exciting tale I’m afraid, Sassenach, just an accident in the water. I wasna minding my footing and the current swept me away, my back tore along the rocks underneath. I was knocked unconscious and thankfully someone found me before I drowned, managed to get me out of the water. But the damage was already done.” He spoke without much emotion which surprised me given how reticent he had been about taking his shirt off the night before.

“With that amount of damage you’re lucky you didn’t die.”

“Aye, I am. It was a hard recovery but it doesnae mind me much anymore,” he sat down on the bed beside me and kissed me, tasting of bacon. He offered a small plate in front of my nose. “Breakfast of champions.”

I knew he wasn’t being entirely truthful and trying to change the subject but distraction by food definitely worked. On my first bite, I realised that this was no ordinary bacon sandwich and I raised my eyebrows at a mischievous Jamie.

“Couldnae help myself, if I told you what it was, ye wouldna have eaten it,” he grinned. I nudged him with my knee from under the covers. He laughed and grabbed my leg before taking a bite from the sandwich himself, his eyes closing in delight. “Black pudding is one of my favourite things in this world.”

“Black pudding? You mean blood pudding?” I stared at the sandwich, trying not to look quite as disgusted as I felt so that I didn’t offend him. He just laughed at me and lay down on the bed beside me.

“Ye canna say ye dinna like it if ye haven’t tried it, Sassenach.”

“Well now that I’ve tried it, I can say that I don’t like it!”

“Haud yer wheesht and take another bite,” he challenged me. “If ye do, I’ll give ye something ye like.”

I stuck my chin in the air mockingly and he rolled his eyes. “I would’ve preferred something to eat that I liked to begin with, Mr Fraser.”

His fingers grabbed my chin and pulled it down so our mouths were inches away from each other, a sly smile playing on his lips.

“I dinna mean something to eat, Sassenach,” his voice was low, husky and full of promise. “I mean something that’ll make yer toes curl.”

***

My eyes scanned the room around me as I triple checked that I hadn’t left anything out when I’d been packing up my things. I hadn’t bothered to shower, not wanting to wash Jamie’s smell from my skin. My mind cast back to the previous hours, our bodies joining like they had been made for each other. It had been so easy to be with him, my insecurities seemed to disappear under his touch and I had given myself to him, fully as he had given himself to me for one beautiful night. My heart deflated a little as I had left his home, walking back to the big house and starting the painstakingly dull job of getting myself home after such a good weekend.

When I had finally zipped my suitcase shut, there was a knock at the door and Geillis entered, moving in to hug me.

“I’m going to miss you, Beautiful Beauchamp. Thank you for everything, I couldna have done it without ye.”

Now that the marriage was official, Geillis and Murtagh were away to start on the next chapter of their life together. Which in the first instance, included moving to their new home in a small town called Broch Mordha, meaning that the three musketeers were becoming two. My heart hurt at the thought of not being in the same city as Geillis, the person who kept my feet firmly on the ground when everything had happened with Frank. Joe was always great but Geillis was there in my worst hours and the loss of her being able to appear on my doorstep with a bottle or two of wine was a big one.

“Don’t you start or I’ll never go,” I said firmly, not letting myself become emotional. The past few days had been overwhelming to say the least, the excitement of the wedding and the party and of course, meeting Jamie.

“I came to have a nightcap with ye last night and ye werena here, did ye go off for a walk? It’s nae safe to go in the dark if yer on yer own, Claire,” she chided. I gave her a look and her stoney face immediately broke. “Where were you, ye wee minx?!”

A nervous giggle escaped my mouth as I sat myself down on the edge of the bed, Geillis coming to sit beside me.

“I spent the night with Jamie last night,” I said, coming clean about my whereabouts. The squeal that came from Geillis’ lungs was impressively loud, even for her, as she threw herself backwards onto the bed, kicking her legs up in the air excitedly. “Geillie, shut up.”

“Tell me everything, now!” She demanded, throwing her hands to her head in disbelief.

“Well, he asked me to go for a walk but before we even really left, we kissed and one thin-“

“If you say the words ‘one thing lead to another’, I will tan yer hide. What thing lead to what? Details!” She yelled exasperatedly.

“I am not giving you the sordid details. We kissed, we went to his home, we drank some whisky and we fell into bed together,” I was trying to play it cool, knowing that it was driving her insane to not know every little part of what had happened, as she was always so forthcoming with me through no request of my own. Geillis pouted at me and I relented. “Okay, we may have fell into bed a few times. Maybe four times.”

“My best friend and the wee fox cub. Wait! My best friend and my nephew by marriage? Does that make you my niece-in-law?”

“It certainly does not,” I said firmly. “Anyway, it was one night and now I have to drive back to London so if you’re finished making a scene.”

“One good night?” Her eyebrow quipped up in question and I grinned wickedly.

“One mind blowing night.”

“I knew he’d be good in bed, those hands alone.”

“Geillis! You’re a married woman!”

“Aye but I’m no deid! I’m so happy for ye Claire, that sure is a hell of a way to blow out the cobwebs.”

“My vagina is not filled with cobwebs!” I hissed at her as she cackled. The door to my room suddenly opened slowly revealing Murtagh and Jamie.

“Glad to hear it, Claire,” Murtagh smirked at me as Jamie stood behind him, looking directly at me like he was away to burst with laughter. “Just here to take yer bags down to yer car, hen.”

I rudely shoved my suitcase towards Murtagh who thankfully took it in one hand and Geillis in the other, dragging her out of the room after she planted a quick kiss on Jamie’s cheek, leaving the two of us alone.

“I’m sorry you heard that, it’s just stupid Geillis and her incessant girl talk,” I ran a hand through my wild hair in exasperation and he moved closer to me, wrapping his arms around my waist.

“It’s fine, Sassenach. Well, actually, it’s bloody hilarious but dinna you mind,” he grinned down at me, kissing the tip of my nose. “I’m fair sore to see ye leave, Claire.”

His honesty disarmed me and I resigned myself to relax in his grasp, allowing him to pull me closer as I buried my face in his chest. He smelled so good, smelling of pine trees and our morning together.

“I’m sorry to go too but I have to be back at work tomorrow,”

“I ken that but it doesnae make it easier, Sassenach,” he breathed into my hair as his hand lightly stroked the back of my neck. I could’ve stood there for hours.

“I need to go, it’s a long drive and I’d rather do most of it in the daylight.”

“Aye, I dinna want ye driving in the dark,” he agreed. “If ye dinna mind, I’ll say goodbye to ye here, I won’t come downstairs. Let Murtagh and Geillis say goodbye to ye properly without me getting in the way.”

I nodded and looked up at him as he swallowed a lump in his throat. He smiled down at me but there was a sadness behind his eyes, probably mirroring my own reflection. I really didn’t want to leave him but I told myself I was being ridiculous, we barely knew each other.

“Bye Jamie,” the words sounded hollow as they left my lips and his mouth set in a firm line.

“Sassenach,” he said simply before placing a gentle kiss on my lips, so soft that it made me weak at the knees.

Without looking at him, I made my way out of the room and down the stairs to find Murtagh and Geillis. After a lot of goodbyes and promises to call and hugs, I got into my car and put the key in the ignition. With one final look in my rearview mirror, I saw Jamie standing in the window of my room and as I put my car into gear, I began to cry.