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Game Changer

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Jamie could do nothing but stare after Claire’s lithe figure fleeing down the hallway. He fought the urge to run after her, sure that to do so would only result in another fight. Knowing that it was his actions that had hurt her to the point where she couldn’t tolerate a conversation with him made it all the worse.

But Christ, to be near her again—even as she lambasted him—was invigorating. He felt a fire ignited within him under the gaze of her blazing golden eyes. He became a different man just standing close enough to inhale her sweet, herbal scent, even with the waves of anger radiating off of her body.

His heart swelled and his stomach churned as he peered through the glass door and saw her sprinting down the long hall towards her office.

“The lass is strong-willed, fer sure, but I like her fine.” Brian’s words startled Jamie from his thoughts. The older man clapped his son on the shoulder, eyes twinkling in delight. “Ye need a woman like that to keep ye out of trouble, mo mhac.”

“Ye’re getting ahead of yerself, Da,” Jenny remarked. “It didna sound to me like they’re even dating. Is that so, a bràthair?”

Jamie turned around to face his father and sister, running his hand through his hair, already exasperated by the conversation that he’d been hoping to avoid. He knew that after what they just witnessed, however, the topic could be avoided no longer.

“No,” he began, “we’re not dating. But Claire … Claire’s someone I’ve come to care a great deal for in the time I’ve known her.”

“Well, what did ye do to her? She said ye treated her like a toy to play with for an evening?” Jenny’s right eyebrow was cocked so high it nearly melded into her hairline.

“Aye, I was a bit thoughtless,” Jamie said, shaking his head. “I did something that made her feel like she couldn’t trust me. I—”

“Whether ye did something stupid or no, the lass is going to come around,” Brian interrupted. “I ken it, Jamie. I saw the way she looked at ye. And I saw the way you looked at her. It’s the same way I looked at yer mam from the night I met her until the moment she passed.”

Jamie’s heart stuttered at the comparison between him and Claire and his parents. Jamie had witnessed their bond before his very eyes as a young boy (horrified, of course, by his parents’ stolen kisses and longing looks), and heard about their legendary love nearly every day as he was growing up. Even now, twenty years after his mother’s death, Brian still spoke of Ellen as if he had fallen for her just yesterday. The mythos of his parents’ Great, Instantaneous Love had hung over Jamie for most of his life; sometimes it was inspiring, but other times—especially as he grew older—it felt like an unattainable ideal.

Until the moment he saw Claire.

And suddenly it all made sense to him. He had walked out of Claire’s office that day believing for the first time that what his father had been telling him since childhood was, in fact, true: that when he met her, he’d have no doubt who the right woman was for him.

“You think that there could be something … something special between me and Claire, Da?” Jamie asked hopefully, rolling his shoulders as he looked for reassurance from his father.

“I do,” Brian said with a comforting smile. “Dinna fash, son. It’s going to work out for the two of ye, I could swear it. Just go to her, talk to her. Show her what’s in yer heart and in yer soul—”

“Oh fer chrissakes, would ye listen to yerself, father?” Jenny practically snorted in disdain. “Ye think ye’re some kind of love guru? Why are ye encouraging him?”

“Janet!” Brian warned, but his daughter would not be deterred.

“And Jamie, what are ye doing, getting so caught up with this woman that ye’re neglecting yer career?” Jenny’s voice pitched higher and louder with each word. “I dinna understand you. Ye’ve decided to risk everything ye’ve ever worked for? For a woman who won’t even let ye get a word in edgewise?”

“Won’t let me get a word in? I dinna think ye’re one to talk in that regard!” Jamie snarled. He stepped closer so that he was towering over his sister, knowing even as he did so that his significant height advantage wouldn’t be enough to unnerve her. “This is why I didna want to discuss Claire with ye, Jenny. I knew ye’d react this way. Well, I dinna need yer judgment, and I certainly dinna need ye telling me how to do my job!”

“Enough, the both of ye!” Brian shouted, stepping between his children before things came to blows. “Take a breath and gather yer heids about ye. Give yer old man a break, aye? I’m tired of playing referee fer the past 30 years.” He sighed deeply, and Jamie and Jenny’s withering stares faded out of concern for their father.

“Are ye all right, Da?” Jenny asked quickly.

“I’m sorry, Da,” Jamie said, tripping over his sister’s words.

“Can you no’ apologize to each other?” Brian pleaded. “Do I need to talk to ye like ye’re still weans?”

Jenny reluctantly faced her brother, resigned to make amends but not happy about it. “I suppose my dander went up when I saw Claire yelling at ye like that. I was just feeling protective, is all. I’m sorry I lost my temper.”

Jamie’s lips were still pursed angrily together, but his eyes grudgingly met Jenny’s. “I shouldna yelled at ye. I’m sorry for it.”

“OK then,” Brian said, satisfied that his grown children were no longer screaming at each other like bairns on a playground. “Why don’t we go inside, get out of this blasted heat, and let Jamie get ready for his game? And maybe the two of ye can try not to kill each other before we fly home in a few days. Or is that too much to ask?”

“I canna promise anything, but I’ll try.” Jamie managed a half grin for his father’s sake but knew that it wouldn’t take much for his temper to boil over once again if provoked by Jenny. His emotions were lingering just below the surface, and he was still overwhelmed from seeing Claire, his mind spinning with thoughts of how or when he’d be able to talk to her again.

He held open the stadium door for his father and sister and followed after them down the long hallway. It had been a long, unsuccessful road trip, and Jamie had hoped to get back into his groove—both on the field and in his own head—upon returning to New York. But after the way the day had started in chaos, he was no longer overly optimistic about his chances.


Claire pushed through the doors of the medical suite, eager to escape the unnerving scene she had left behind. She felt a drop of sweat running down the side of her cheek, and stopped to rummage in her purse for a tissue. “Jesus H Roosevelt Christ,” she muttered irritably, blowing a stream of air towards her perspiring forehead. “Is the air conditioning even on in this godforsaken place?”

“You don’t look very relaxed after your vacation, Lady Jane.” Joe walked into the reception area from his office, grabbing one of his favorite mini-muffins as he approached Claire.

“Whyever would you say that?” she asked wryly. She dabbed her brow with a tissue she’d found in one of the dozens of pockets in her bag.

Joe chortled. “What’s going on? The August heat got you down?”

“Well, the heat’s not helping, but no … that’s not it.” She turned and walked towards her office and then looked back, beckoning with her head for Joe to follow. After placing her bag on her desk, she reached up to pull her hair back from her flushed face. With lips pressed together into a thin line, she lowered her voice and said, “I just ran into Jamie outside.”

“You did? And what happened?” Joe asked, eyes widened.

Claire had previously confided everything that had happened at the gala to Joe, who was a pro at playing the role of steadfast confidante and supporter. He was, however, also a lover of drama.

“Did he apologize? Give you an explanation?” he probed.

“Well he … that is, I—erm ...” Claire stumbled over her words, feeling terribly flustered.

“What happened? What did he say? Spit it out.” Joe looked at her with concern and not a little delight.

“I didn’t really let him say anything.” She shrugged and walked to the sink to wash her hands. “I still have a lot of anger, you know, and I just couldn’t handle listening to him. I … I called him a bloody bastard,” she admitted sheepishly.

“Ouch. Did he have anything to say for himself?” Joe asked.

“Well, I think he said that he tried getting back to me that night, but someone stopped him. Something about the owners … ” Claire squinted her eyes, trying to recall the words that had been bandied, hers in fury, his in defense. “And I … I believe he said that he would never do anything to hurt me,” she mumbled. Recounting the confrontation to Joe made her behavior seem far more cringeworthy than it had felt in the heat and wrath of the moment.

“Sheesh, Lady Jane. You’re too damned stubborn for your own good.”

Claire, finally feeling like her body temperature had fallen back to within normal limits, sat down in her seat. “I didn’t even tell you the worst part yet.”

Joe ran his hand over his face and chuckled, then perched himself on the edge of her desk. “Do I even want to hear this?”

“Probably not, but you’re going to.” She placed her elbows onto the desk and leaned her forehead into her palms. “His father and sister are here visiting from Scotland, and they witnessed the whole thing. Jamie had told me about them before, how important they are to him. I know he worships his father and is close with his sister.” She paused, letting out a weary sigh. “And I screamed at him in front of them. He must hate me.”

She looked up at Joe with a pained face. “I could tell he was mortified. And seeing him like that … my rage just melted. It was a hell of a lot easier to be furious at him when I didn’t have to see him. But now he’s human to me again, and I don’t think I want to be angry at him anymore. I don’t think I can be.”

“Hallelujah!” Joe shouted, hands waving in the air.


“Fine, then. Hallelujah!” he whispered softly but emphatically.

Claire cackled and gave him a soft swat on the arm. It felt good to laugh after the tumult of emotions she had already experienced today. “Don’t get too excited, Abernathy. All I’m saying is that I’m open to talking to him. This doesn’t change the fact that he truly did hurt me that night.” Her smile fell as she realized just how many hurdles there were to cross before she and Jamie could even reestablish a friendship. “And it doesn’t change the fact that I’m an emotional disaster who has trust issues. And it certainly doesn’t change the tiny little fact that I’m still his damned doctor.” She breathed out a loud whoosh of air and sank back in her chair.

Joe glanced down at his phone as it sang out a reminder. “Listen LJ, I’ve got a meeting and have to run, but I am still counting this as progress, despite all of the ‘facts’ that you just spouted off. We’ll chat more over dinner, ok?” he called as he headed to the door.

“Bye, Joe,” she replied. She dropped her head to the pile of papers that had accumulated on her desk while she was away and started sifting through them, thoroughly distracted by thoughts of Jamie.

It was almost jarring to feel the loss of the pure white anger towards him that she had been living with for weeks. It would take time to get accustomed to the softness that had started blooming within her, just as it would take time to figure out how on earth they could begin to clear the air between them. All she knew was that she wanted to, and that was a big step.


“It’s a beautiful summer night for baseball in Queens! The Mets are back in town for a long homestand here at Citi Field after a disastrous road trip where they won only three out of twelve games. When the Mets headed out almost two weeks ago, they were just a half game back of the first place Nationals, and they had seemed invincible with the arrival of red-hot rookie Jamie Fraser. Now, they find themselves five games out of first place. Fraser’s slumping, and there are rumors he could be sent back to the minors if he can’t turn things around …”

Claire was sitting on the sofa in the medical suite, looking over charts on her laptop, barely listening to the start of the game broadcast that was droning on in the background—until she heard mention of Jamie’s name. At that, her head snapped up so hard that a muscle in her neck immediately started spasming. She grabbed her nape and started massaging it, peering gingerly up at the TV in time to see a montage of clips showing Jamie striking out time and time again. Bloody Hell! What on earth happened?

She had steadfastly blocked out any Mets-related news over the past few weeks and simply assumed that Jamie’s initial success had continued unabated. It seemed unfathomable that his play was so abysmal that he could be sent down to the minors. She had never seen a more dynamic or driven player, nor one who had spent so long working his way to the majors.

Claire ached just imagining the disappointment he would face, the sense of failure he would feel at being demoted. A wave of melancholy came over her, washing away the last brick in the wall that she had built around her heart, protecting her from the enormity of feeling that Jamie roused in her. All she wanted—no, needed—was to talk to him, comfort him, be there to listen and to tell him how worthy he was. But after the way that she had spoken to him that morning (oh God, way to knock him while he was already down, Beauchamp!), she wouldn’t blame him if he never wanted to speak to her again.

Her plan to spend the evening catching up on work that she had missed from her days off was tossed out the window. She was at least glad that she could watch the game free from the scrutiny of Joe, who had burrowed away in his office to wrap up work before his own vacation the following week.

Filled with a frenetic, roiling energy and needing to move, she got up from the sofa and began pacing the length of the med suite lounge, keeping an ear perked to the game and to every word coming from the announcers’ booth. She didn’t want to miss a thing that might be said about Jamie.

It didn’t take long to hear his name again. He made an incredible diving catch to start the game, preventing the Giants from getting an extra base hit down the first base line. “Nice play,” she mouthed to herself.

In the bottom of the second inning, he hit a double, scoring a run a few minutes later when his teammate had a long single in the next at-bat. The vague sense of nausea that she’d been battling since the pregame show abated somewhat upon seeing the relieved look on his face when he crossed home. And no wonder he looked relieved; according to the announcers, it was the first run he’d scored since the last time the team had been in New York. “Keep going, Jamie,” she whispered under her breath.

Back at the plate in the fourth inning, he hit a single up the middle, driving in a run. “Now that’s the Fraser we saw in his first two weeks at the major league level. Great plate discipline and a beautiful piece of hitting. If he keeps playing like this, he’s not going to have to worry about keeping his job.” She felt a smile adorn her face that matched the gleaming one she saw on his.

In the fifth inning, the opposing team’s left fielder slammed into the padded outfield wall while trying to make a running catch. Claire ran into Joe’s office to let him know about the injury, and even offered to handle it herself, but when he said he needed a break from his computer and would examine the player, she let out a long and grateful sigh of relief. She was even more grateful when, fifteen minutes later, Joe said that he would accompany the player to the hospital by ambulance for further testing.

She made it back in front of the television at a crucial moment. The game was tied 3-3, and there were two runners on base. Jamie approached the plate.

This is the kind of situation Fraser struggled with mightily on the road. He went 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Let’s see what he can do tonight, now that his mojo seems to be coming back.”

“Come on, Jamie. Keep it going,” she intoned like a prayer, biting lightly on her knuckle to quell her nerves. Her other hand clutched the sofa cushion as she watched him take a ball, followed by two strikes.

And then, there it was. The beautiful crack of the bat sent a thrill down her spine, and her heart soared along with the ball that he lofted into the upper deck. A dramatic three-run home run. Mets 6, Giants 3.

Just like that, the excitement is back in Queens, and so is Jamie Fraser!”

“Yes!!” Claire jumped off the couch and bounced in front of the TV, fist pumping in the air. Jamie rounded the bases and gave his teammates high fives at home plate. His smile was electric, his eyes shining with pride. The camera panned across the wildly cheering crowd before cutting close to his father and sister, arms wrapped tight around each other with ecstatic faces lifted to the sky, seemingly thanking God that they could be there for this moment. Claire couldn’t help but feel emotional.

The Mets pitchers were able to shut down the Giants’ offense after that, and the game seemed to be on its way to an end when, in the top of the ninth, she watched Jamie move to field what should have been a routine ground ball for the first out of the inning.

Instead, what she saw played out in gruesome, painstakingly slow motion.

Jamie scooped the ball up with his glove and ran to step on first base to make the out. But the runner approaching the base slipped, and the two tangled together, falling to the ground.

Claire saw Jamie’s face, pale and grimacing in raw pain. She saw bright red blood soaking through the leg of his uniform, staining its way from his calf to his ankle. The training staff rushed onto the field to assess the damage, even as the Giants player dusted himself off and left the field unharmed. Jamie was conscious, thank Christ, and able to sit up with the aid of the trainers. Eventually he stood, leaning heavily on the trainers, who helped him limp towards the dugout with his still-bleeding leg lifted off the ground.

Claire realized with a start that she was standing directly in front of the television, her face mere inches from the screen as she watched replay upon replay of the collision, attempting to make out the nature of his injury. It took her another moment to realize that the loud noises she was hearing from down the hallway were those of the training staff heading towards the medical suite for Jamie to be examined … by HER.

She scrambled to the exam room, threw on her white coat, and started grabbing antiseptics, bandages, scissors, anything that she might require to work on Jamie. Her back was to the doorway and she had just finished slapping on a pair of gloves and arranging everything on the instrument tray when she felt and heard their arrival.

“Just let me be, I can walk fine on my own!” Jamie was insisting to the trainers. Luckily they knew better than to let him test out his theory and continued supporting him into the room. They hoisted him up onto the exam table while Jamie muttered, “I could’ve gotten up here myself.”

She turned around and quickly approached the table, her eyes immediately drawn to his wounded leg. “Claire,” he said, with a sharp intake of breath.

She looked up at him and instructed, assertively, “Lie down, Jamie.”

It no longer mattered that she felt ready to open her heart to him again or that she had been rattled to the core to see him injured. A professional calm descended over her at times of crisis. Her doctor’s instincts kicked in as she could always trust them to, and she focused, nonplussed, on the job at hand.

Jamie maneuvered himself into a horizontal position and Claire sliced his left pant leg straight through to the knee with the trauma shears. She quickly checked that the bleeding was not critical and began firing questions his way.

“Do you remember what happened?”

“Of course I do.”

“Do you have a headache?”

“I didna hit my head, Sassenach.”

From the corner of her vision, Claire noticed the two trainers narrow their eyes curiously at this. She chose to ignore it.

“Then tell me what happened.” She rolled the magnifying lamp closer to the table to get a better look at him. Jamie’s body was taut with tension, stock still with the exception of his long fingers tapping unrelentingly against his thigh. She examined his head (no redness or bruising), looked into his eyes (pupils not dilated), and was satisfied that he did not suffer any head trauma. She turned her attention back to his leg, where the bleeding had slowed significantly. Using wet gauze, she began to carefully pat the wounds and clean the blood from his calf.

“Jones was running towards first base as I put my foot on the bag to make the out. He tried to beat me there and tripped o’er me. We fell down and his cleats tore through my pants and thrashed the hell out of my leg. That’s about it. It’s just some cuts, like I told these guys,” he said, glancing at the trainers. “I’m fine.”

“Well, I’m the doctor, and I’m in charge of deciding whether or not you are fine.” Claire continued wiping his leg clean, and beneath the bloody mess she revealed a straight three inch gash down his leg. It was somewhat deep, but not so much that it would require stitches. Even though she was not particularly religious, she gave a quick thanks to whomever was responsible for this straightforward, minor injury.

She walked to the closet in the corner of the room and returned to Jamie’s side with a foam wedge that she slid under his leg. “The spike of his cleat got you pretty bad. I’m going to continue applying pressure and we’re going to keep the leg elevated until the bleeding has stopped completely. Then I’ll apply an antiseptic, get some butterfly strips on, and bandage you up.” She placed layers of fresh gauze on top of the wound and pressed it gently but with some weight applied.

“That’s it? No’ even any stitches? I told you it was nothing,” Jamie smirked, his eyes regaining a hint of sparkle.

“It’s not nothing, but you got lucky. It looked worse than it actually was.” She saw the lie in his words as his body began to relax before her eyes, his tight shoulders dropping, his stiff jaw slackening. He had been nervous about the injury.

Claire turned to the head trainer and asked him to let the team manager know that Jamie sustained a laceration that didn’t require stitches, and that she would submit a report to him that evening. “And please also let him know that Jamie should sit out tomorrow’s game—”

“What?!” the patient shouted.

“—out of an abundance of caution. But he should be good to go for the game after that. Thank you, gentlemen.” She gave Jamie a pointed look as the trainers left the room. “You know very well that you need to let this wound start healing. You don’t want to irritate it and have it get infected.”

Jamie let out a deep breath and fixed his eyes on the ceiling. Claire continued applying pressure to his leg, lifting the gauze every 60 seconds to check the bleeding. She worked in silence ... awkward silence. Somehow with the two men gone, the room felt even smaller.

Well, she had wanted to talk to him. Here was her chance.

“So,” she began, her breath a little unsteady. “Did you purposely get stepped on so that I would be forced to talk to you?”

His eyes finally met hers, and he couldn’t help but laugh. “That wouldna been a bad idea, aye? I didna think ye’d ever speak to me again.”

She didn’t suppress the grin that lifted her lips. “Jamie, I’m sorry.”

His eyes nearly jumped out of his head at her words.

“What on earth are ye sorry for? Christ, lass, I’ve been trying to find a way to apologize to you for two weeks now but ye wouldna let me.” Jamie had pushed himself up on his elbows, putting his face closer to hers.

“I’m sorry for that … for shutting you out. But I’m especially sorry for what happened earlier today, screaming at you like a banshee in front of your father and sister. I feel terrible about it.” Claire looked away, feeling timid about speaking so honestly to him, hoping that it wouldn’t be a mistake to open up to him again. She turned her attention to the gauze. It was now stained only the lightest pink, and she placed onto the cut what she hoped were the last pads she’d need to use. Her pulse escalated as she waited for Jamie’s response.

“Mmmph,” he snorted, amused. “My Da said he likes yer spirit.”

She laughed at that, too, and brought her eyes to his.

“Will ye let me tell ye what happened, Claire? On the night of the gala?”

“Yes,” she said softly. “I want to know. But … not right now. Not while I’m working. Not while I’m treating you.” The lines in their relationship were already blurred enough, she didn’t want to obscure them further.

“All right. We can talk another time. Probably better not to talk about this at the stadium in any case.” He finally lay back down on the table—his elbows must have grown numb by then—but didn’t move his eyes from hers. “I need ye to know that you can trust me, Claire. I willna hurt you again.”

She nodded slowly, somehow believing him and believing in him. She felt the last vestiges of anger leave her body. The choice to trust was not an easy one, but she found herself making it. “There are a lot of things we need to talk about, Jamie. There are things you need to know about me … about why I’ve acted the way that I have over the past few weeks. But I will trust you.”

Jamie nodded back at her. “Thank ye. I ken it isna easy for you to say that.”

“No. No, it isn’t.” Claire raised an eyebrow and smiled at him before removing the gauze and finding that the bleeding had stopped. She sprayed on antiseptic, at which Jamie twitched and hissed, and then began applying butterfly strips to hold the wound together as it healed.

“This may be presumptuous of me,” Jamie started, cautiously, as Claire continued working on his leg. “But I’d like to spend Thursday with ye. It’s an off day for the team, and we’d have plenty of time to talk.”

“Yes,” she answered without hesitation … perhaps a little too enthusiastically, she thought, heat rising across her cheeks. “I’m going to be working at the hospital through the weekend, so I happen to be off on Thursday. But … won’t your family still be here?”

“No, they’re flying out Wednesday night, after the day game.”

“Ah, I see.” Her heart suddenly felt like a butterfly that was threatening to break through her chest, and her mind buzzed with anticipation, fear, excitement. She managed to keep her hands steady enough to apply the last steri-strip and the waterproof bandages, and then moved quickly to the sink where she tore off her gloves and washed her hands until she could be sure they were no longer shaking. Take a breath and stop being anxious. Trust him, she told herself. It would take time to train her brain not to panic.

When Claire spun back from the sink, she found Jamie sitting up and moving himself to the edge of the exam table. “Careful, now,” she warned, and stopped in front of him with her palm extended. “Let’s get up slowly.”

He dropped his eyes briefly before flitting them back to her face, and then reached out and placed his hand in hers. His soft, warm, large hand. Comforting yet electrifying. She had missed the feel of it.

With a gentle tug, she got Jamie to standing. “How does it feel?” she asked.

“It feels great.” The corner of his lip twitched upward, and she knew that he wasn’t only talking about the leg.

They were walking out of the exam room and into the medical suite when Jamie suddenly stopped.

“What’s wrong?” Claire asked, alarmed, and placed her hand on his back.

“I just realized that I dinna have yer number. My phone’s in the clubhouse, so maybe you can just write it down for me? So we can make plans for Thursday.”

She jotted down her number on a post-it note swiped from the receptionist’s desk and handed it to Jamie. “On second thought … sending important information through notes hasn’t worked out so well for us before. Why don’t you give me your contact?” she asked with a sardonic smile. She grabbed her phone from the couch, swiped it open, and handed it to Jamie, who entered his contact for her.

“I certainly never thought I’d hear ye laughing about that. Ye’re a woman full of surprises, Claire,” he teased back.

Claire knew she couldn’t take his hand again—though that was what she wanted more than anything—so they walked side by side out of the suite and down the hallway to the clubhouse where two anxious Frasers awaited the game’s star player.

Jenny ran to her brother and flung her arms around his neck. “Oh, Jamie, I was worried sick. All that blood! We heard that you were going to be ok, but I couldna believe it until I saw ye myself. But what a game ye played! You were amazing! I’ve never been so proud of ye, never in my life—”

“Janet, I know ye’re excited for yer brother, but could ye shut yer gob for a minute?” Brian moved in for his own hug from Jamie and looked over his shoulder right at Claire. “So I take it we have you to thank for healing our James, Dr. Beauchamp? It looked pretty bad there for a minute.”

“Aye, Da. Claire fixed me up just fine.” Jamie smiled broadly at Claire.

“Well, Claire,” Jenny said. “We canna thank ye enough. Though I suppose I’m relieved to hear ye didn’t decide to slice him up yerself after the way ye were talking to him earlier today.” Jenny broke into nervous laughter, which Claire met with a furrowed brow.

“Jenny!” Jamie groaned.

“Sorry, I cannae help myself. I apologize, Claire. We’re truly grateful.” This time she gave an authentic smile. Perhaps, someday, they could find a way to be friends … or at least friendly.

“I was just doing my job. And Jamie’s lucky that the collision didn’t result in a deeper cut or a broken bone. On that note, I need to go submit my injury report before I leave for the night. It was good to see you again, Jenny, Brian.” She nodded at the visiting Frasers before turning to Jamie with a few last pieces of advice. “Keep the wound as dry as you can for 48 hours. And don’t forget that you must stop in tomorrow before the game to have the doctor on duty change your bandage. If you have pain, take two ibuprofen with food. And get a good night’s sleep.” She gave him one last smile—and received one in return—before turning and heading back to her office.

Claire was exhausted, feeling like she had lived five days in this single one. She was eager to finish up her paperwork, head home, and collapse in bed. And she knew that she would finally sleep at ease, because for the first time in weeks, she would end her day knowing that she was no longer running from her feelings.