I felt drunk as I followed Jamie to his room, even though I hadn't had that much whisky. He slipped his key card in the door and gestured for me to go in ahead of him.
The room was much larger than the one Geillis and I were sharing. There was a mini bar, which Jamie headed to. "A night cap, Sassenach?"
"Yes please," I answered, perching myself on the arm of a chair. The spell had been broken, and I was suddenly extremely nervous.
He handed me a glass of whisky and we clinked glasses before sipping, our eyes locked on each other the entire time. We sipped in silence, unsure where to begin. Finally, Jamie stepped away and started fumbling through his bag. He pulled out a small speaker and fiddled with his phone a bit. "What would ye like tae listen tae? A little NSYNC, maybe?" he teased.
"You know, I don't think I'll ever forgive you for not being there for me when Justin Timberlake went solo," I joked, breaking the tension.
He laughed heartily, "OK but really, what do ye want?"
"How about some Dave Matthews?" I asked, raising an eyebrow at him. The corner of his lips curled into a boyish grin. Dave Matthews Band had been our band . Lover Lay Down had been our song . As he started swiping and typing on his phone, I added, "But nothing after 2005, please. It all kind of sucks after that."
"All right, I'll see what I can do." His forehead wrinkled in concentration as he looked back at his phone. Finally, with a triumphant look on his face, he hit the phone with his index finger. The Space Between filled the room, and Jamie held out his hand to her. "Would ye like tae dance again?"
I placed my hand in his and he pulled me closely to him. I leaned into his chest, breathing him in, marveling at the feel of him in my arms; so big, so solid and warm. Real, after the years of longing for a ghost I could not touch. I could hardly believe this was happening. All these years, it had been easier to tell myself he was dead. And when Brianna was old enough to ask about her biological father, that was the story I told her, too.
But here he was, in the flesh, and I was with him. He kissed the top of my head before resting his chin there. I moved one of my hands down to his chest and rested it there while we swayed together.
There were so many things we needed to say to each other, so many questions to be answered, secrets to be revealed. But tonight was going to only be about the two of us, reconnecting.
"What are ye thinking?" he asked me quietly.
"I'm thinking that I can't believe this is really happening, that you're here. You're real," I murmured into his chest.
"Aye," he sighed. "So are you. Ye ken, I saw ye sometimes. During some of the worst times of my life, I would see ye standing in front of me wi' yer hair curled around yer face, smiling." His hand went to my head and he twirled one of my curls around his finger. His voice hitched as he spoke, "But tae have ye here in my arms again."
I shivered a little at that and squeezed him tighter. He squeezed me back and then gently pushed me back so he could look into my eyes. “I have burned for you for twenty years, Sassenach,” he said softly. “But I’m no' the man ye knew, twenty years ago. We know each other now less than we did when we first met. Sassenach, will ye take me—and risk the man that I am, for the sake of the man ye knew?” His hands were trembling as he reached down to stroke my face gently.
I looked up into his eyes, searching in vain for some fundamental change in him. "Whoever you are now, Jamie Fraser—yes. Yes, I do want you. And what about you? How do you know what I’m like? You don’t know what I’ve been doing for the last twenty years, either. I might be a horrible person, for all you know."
“I suppose ye might," he responded, returning my investigative stare. “But, d’ye know, Sassenach—I dinna think I care.”
"Neither do I," I answered, standing on my tiptoes and pulling his head down closer to mine so my lips could find his. We kissed softly at first but soon we were unable to quell our desires; Jamie’s fist curled in my hair as our tongues danced a routine that was both achingly familiar and fascinatingly new. A moan escaped my mouth when he finally pulled away, both of us panting. He held my head back by the hair and asked, "Will ye come tae bed with me, Sassenach?"
I gave him a crooked smile. "To bed, or to sleep?"
"Either way, ye're not likely to sleep in yer dress. Turn around and I'll help ye wi' the zipper." I did as asked and Jamie brought his hands to the back of my neck, gently pushing my hair away. I could feel his breath, hot and moist on my skin as his hand moved down and pulled on the zipper. He went painstakingly slow; I could feel each tooth breaking apart, one by one.
He finally reached the bottom and pushed the fabric from my shoulders so that my dress spilled to the ground in a puddle. His hands ghosted over my shoulders and slid halfway down my arms before moving onto my back and fumbling with the clasp of my bra. I sighed deeply as it released.
His hands continued their trail down my spine until he reached the hem of my panties. Thank God I decided on my good underwear. His hands fell to my hips and he gently pushed them down. I wiggled a little to help them reach the ground as he caressed my bottom. "I've missed this round lovely arse," he breathed into my ear before turning me around.
Suddenly, I was overcome with a flash of self-consciousness, and I stepped back, covering my chest with my arms. The last time Jamie had seen me naked was when we were eighteen. I remembered my pert breasts with nipples that had stood at attention; now they were angled downward, ravaged by pregnancy and breastfeeding and gravity. My abdomen had been flat, an unmarked terrain; now it was convex and marked with stretch marks, as if my daughter had permanently staked a claim on my body. My thighs touched at their peak and my ass was dimpled with cellulite.
Jamie stared at me, looking me up and down with an inscrutable expression on his face. “Would you bloody say something?” I finally pleaded.
“Christ, Sassenach. Ye’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” he said breathily.
“You ought to get your eyes checked,” I teased, feeling more comfortable standing naked before him. He sat down on the bed and gestured for me to come closer. I moved toward him and stood between his legs. His hands tentatively rested on my hips as he pulled me even closer and placed a tentative kiss on each breast. I inhaled sharply at even that small contact. It had been a very long time since I had any sort of sexual contact with anybody. Frank had died in the fall, and we had stopped sharing a bed about four years before that.
Jamie’s hands began to roam, cupping and massaging my breast. A sigh of satisfaction escaped his lips as he took my nipples in his mouth, one then the other, sucking and licking. I moaned and pressed my pelvis against his body. "To touch ye, Sassenach," he whispered in between the kisses he trailed down my stomach. "I couldna look at ye, Sassenach, and keep my hands from you, nor have ye near me, and not want ye.” His lips ghosted over my stretch marks and I pulled back slightly, cringing.
He stopped and looked up at me, his hands resting again on my hips. "Do ye want me tae stop?"
"No," I replied. "I'm just self-conscious about my stretch marks."
He moved his hands and traced the lines softly with his finger tip. "They're beautiful, Sassenach. They're yer badges of honor for being a mother. Ye should wear them proudly." He bent down and left a trail of kisses over their miniscule peaks and valleys.
I breathed in deeply. "You really don't mind?" I asked.
He sat back and pulled his shirt over his head. He was a fucking Adonis; there was no other way to describe it. His pecs and arms were large and well formed; his abs hard and well-defined. I reached out to do some exploring of my own, but he stopped me by gently grabbing my hand. "Do ye mind, Sassenach?"
He turned his body and I gasped involuntarily when I saw his back. Before me was a map of some torture he had been subjected too. White scars criss crossed everywhere like chaotic hiking trails interspersed with silvery scar tissue that glistened like water in a stream. Where larger patches of skin had been flayed off completely there were divots and peaks denoting an elevated terrain.
Slowly I reached my hand out and began tracing my finger along the different routes of his back. He instinctively pulled away at first, but I persevered, boldly learning this new part of him from all directions. I moved onto the bed and kneeled behind him, molding my upper body to his back and gently kissing him on the back of his neck.
"It doesna fright ye, nor sicken ye, Sassenach?" he asked with a slight tremble in his voice.
"Of course not," I replied. "I'm a surgeon, remember? I've seen much worse. But how?"
"I'll tell ye, but no' tonight," he promised. Suddenly, in one swift move he had me on my back and was hovering over me. "Tonight is only about you and me."
"Alright," I replied, lifting my head to kiss his nose. "But I’m also going to want to know what happened to your nose."
"Aye, all in good time, Sassenach." He nibbled at my neck and then stood to remove his pants.
The sight of him naked before me took my breath away. I drank him from top to bottom; I'd forgotten how big he was -- in all ways. As he crawled back on the bed and hovered over me, I began to tremble uncontrollably. "Are you as scared as I am?" I managed to ask.
He traced the back of his hand along the goosebumps on my arm and I could feel that his hands were also shaking a little. "I dinna think I'm scared, but I do want ye very badly, Claire."
Pushing aside my fear, I reached my arm up and around his neck, pulling him into me. He licked his lips quickly before greeting my open mouth with his. Our tongues tangled together and we both pushed into each other fiercely, trying to absorb each other through our mouths.
When we broke apart, he slipped his hands under my back and lifted me closer to the head of the bed. As he let me down I tipped my head back and crashed it against the headboard.
"Are ye alright, Sassenach?" he asked, lifting my head to inspect it.
I grimaced and then started giggling. This set Jamie off in a fit of laughter as well. Somehow our mutual laughter made me feel our connection strengthen. When the laughter died away, he stared into my eyes, his pupils blown, and bent down to kiss me again. He settled his body on top of mine, the familiar bulk of him better than any weighted blanket.
Our hands and mouths roamed over each other’s bodies. I could feel his need pressed up against my thigh and I was consumed with desire. As he reached down between my legs, cupping me firmly, my entire body filled with burning desire. I needed him.
His head was buried in my chest, licking and sucking. I tangled my hand in his auburn curls and pulled his head up. Looking at him straight in the eyes, I growled, "Do it now, and don't be gentle."
He needed no further invitation. His knees pushed my legs further apart and drove his cock into me. I cried out as he filled me completely, deeply. Before I could catch my breath he was thrusting again. He reached up and grabbed onto the headboard with one hand, driving madly into me over and over again. My fingernails raked down his back, marking my territory on top of his scarred skin.
He adjusted his arms again, reaching one arm under my leg allowing him to press deeper. Each thrust reverberated through my entire body as I threw my head back and cried out. The sound of my pleasure only encouraged him more as he continued his relentless assault.
He pressed one hand against my cheek, bringing me back to him. "Give me yer mouth, Sassenach," he commanded.
Our mouths crashed together again and as our tongues crashed together, I felt heat spreading throughout my core. I was dangling on the precipice of my peak, ready to fall over the edge. Jamie’s thrusts began to lose their rhythm and I knew he was close as well. As he slammed into me erratically he said hoarsely, "Come with me, mo chridhe ," before clamping down on my shoulder with his teeth.
With the sound of that endearment, my heart , and the pleasantly painful bite, I mercifully fell apart. As I imploded around him I screamed his name and suddenly I felt his cock throbbing inside of me.
"Oh god, oh Claire," he choked out, collapsing on top of me.
We stayed like that, with Jamie still inside of me, holding each other. I rubbed my hands up and down his back, wishing I could stay in that moment forever. It had been a long five years without the touch of a man, and twenty years without this passionate, animalistic fire that Jamie had stoked in me again.
Frank had been as bland as plain porridge, an unimaginative, unsatisfying lover. When we'd first gotten together, I was too shy to voice my needs and desires. I'd attributed my lack of pleasure to possible damage caused by Brianna's difficult birth. It hadn't been until I bravely told Geillis about my frustration that it dawned on me that I might not be the problem; Frank just sucked in bed.
By then, a tension had already started building in our relationship, and I felt it better to keep my thoughts to myself lest he assume, rightfully so, that I was comparing him to Jamie. So, I'd kept my mouth shut, used a lot of lube to make up for my lack of arousal and borne his clumsy thrusting when it couldn't be avoided. Eventually the palpable tension pervaded all aspects of our relationship and our unsatisfying joining became, mercifully, less and less frequent.
I pushed aside my thoughts of Frank, focusing on the giant Scot lying next to me. He slipped an arm under my neck and lay my head on his solid chest. His heart thumped steadily under my ear and I closed my eyes, counting the beats.
Running my hand over his chest, a small smirk came to my face. "Do you know, you have more hairs on your chest than you used to?"
Jamie snorted, laughter vibrating under my body. "No, I dinna count them," he said with amusement. "Did anyone ever tell ye that ye should work on your pillow talk?"
" Pfffftt . I don't remember any complaints from you in that department before."
He gave a low chuckle and caressed my back with his strong, callused hands. The roughness of them is different, but I like it. "So," I started tentatively, "when are you going to tell me where you've been all this time?"
He shifted, sitting up against the headboard and I adjusted with him, laying my head on his shoulder. I threw my legs over his and ran one foot up and down his calf muscle. "I told ye, Sassenach. I was in South America."
"You know what I mean," I responded, slapping him lightly on the chest. "I mean, what were you doing and why did you…"
"Yes," I answered quietly.
He kissed the top of my head, inhaling deeply. "There's no' a quick and easy answer for that question."
"I'm not going anywhere."
"Ye might once I tell ye." He squeezed me tightly, his fear palpable.
"Jamie," I said, sitting up and turning his head so I could look in his eyes, "I just want to know. I'm not here to judge you."
Clasping my hands between his, he took a deep breath. "Ye must listen tae me with your whole heart." I nodded, and he went on. "First I need ye to ken that I would never have left ye if I'd had any choice in the matter. It nearly destroyed me, leaving ye like that."
A single tear ran down his cheek. I flicked it away with my thumb and left my hand resting on his cheek reassuringly.
"My father's business took a turn for the worse, and he got involved in some shady business dealings. It wasna illegal at first, but he didna ken that the people he was getting involved with were working for a cartel." He paused and swallowed hard looking at me sheepishly.
"When did this start?" I asked.
"Around the time Ma died. There was so much going on wi' my family I didna ken about. Kids can be pretty stupid, aye?"
"Parents are very good at protecting their children," I pointed out.
He nodded thoughtfully. "Aye, 'tis true."
"So what happened? Did the cartel come after your father?"
"No, the NCA did. Da had gotten involved in some money laundering schemes and wasna being as careful as he thought he was. He caught wind that they were closing in on him and we just left in the middle of the night. Claire, ye have tae ken that I tried no' tae go wi' him. But he told me…" his voice broke off in a sob. "He told me that if I stayed they would come after me. Maybe even you. I couldna get ye involved in something like that. I'm so sorry, Claire."
By then, tears were running down my face too. I went up on my knees, wrapping my arms around his neck and pulling his head to my chest. I ran my fingers through his auburn locks and whispered, "Shhhh. Jamie, please stop apologizing. I was never angry with you. I was worried , but it never once occurred to me to be angry with you."
"God, what did I do tae deserve ye, Claire?"
I kissed the top of his head and then gently nudged at his chin. When he tilted his head up to see what I wanted, I kissed him, gently but firmly. "Can you tell me the rest?" I asked as I pulled my lips away.
"Aye," he answered, pulling me back into him. He was so warm; I'd forgotten that I could use him as my personal furnace. "We went tae Brazil and my Da started working for the cartel outright. And eventually I did too."
"What did you do?" I asked, trying to imagine Jamie and Brian running guns or roughing up someone who wouldn't pay up. It was impossible, not my sweet, gentle giants.
"Banking scams mostly, wire fraud and such. Setting up shell corporations. I wasna a ruffian running around and kidnapping fer ransom if that's what yer thinking."
"Oh, you're a mind reader now?"
"No. But I can read yer face like a book."
I changed the subject, embarrassed by my lack of knowledge about what cartels do . "And William? Where does he fit into all this."
Jamie sighed. "I met his mother at a party. We ended up sleeping together. It was just a one-night stand, but she ended up pregnant. That would have been fine except it turned out she was the daughter of one of the big bosses. When Gabriela, his mother, died giving birth to him, it was no' as if I could keep him from them. I was in constant fear that they'd take him from me."
"Is that why he's still in Brazil?"
"Aye. I couldna take him wi' me without raising suspicions. Ye see, I was arrested and taken into custody last year. They'd been surveilling me for a while. When they found out what I kent and the skills I had, we worked out a deal. I gave up some information, a few names, and they would get me out of the country. The NCA saw me as a valuable asset, so part of the deal was that I would come here and work for them, put my abilities tae good use, I suppose. But I couldna take him." He was crying again, and I reached over on the nightstand to get him some tissues. "Thank ye, Claire," he said, wiping his eyes and blowing his nose. "I had no choice; it was either take the deal or spend the rest of my life in jail. Either way I would have had tae leave him."
"You said he was living with friends?"
"Aye, I left him wi' his godfathers, John and Hector. They love him as their own, and they have the means to protect and care for him until I can figure out a way to bring him home wi' me."
It was on the tip of my tongue to tell him about Brianna but I decided the morning would be better for opening that can of worms. "You miss him?" I asked instead.
"You'll get him back soon. I know you will."
He nodded and blew his nose again. "I ken. It’s just hard. I never spent more than a couple nights away from him since he was a bairn."
Unsure of what I could possibly say to give him comfort, I snuggle closer into him. We laid in silence for a while, and I was almost starting to drift off when he said, "Ye dinna want tae leave then?"
"No. I've missed you for far too long to let something like that make me turn heel and run away. I know your heart, James Fraser, and that's all that matters."
He turned on his side and started tracing the lines of my body with his fingers. “I could watch ye for hours, Sassenach, to see how you have changed, or how ye’re the same. Your hair—I called ye mo nighean donn , d’ye recall? My brown-haired lass.” He reached up and wrapped a ringlet of my hair around his finger, pulling it gently and then letting it spring back.
"Mmmmmmm…" I said in agreement, turning my body to face his. He reached behind me, gripping my buttocks and pulling my hips into his body so that I could feel his hard length against me.
"And this sweet, round arse," he growled, giving it a squeeze. "When I came in and saw ye, hovering in the corner with Geillis, it was the first thing I noticed."
"I don't know if I should be flattered or pissed," I responded, though I was giggling. He made me feel like I was sixteen again.
"Shhh...listen," he said suddenly. I stifled my laughter and listened. "It's our song, Sassenach."
Don't be us too shy
For knowing it's no big surprise that
I will wait for you
I will wait for no one but you
Jamie pulled my knee up and rested it on his hip. He moved closer and pressed against me. "My god, I've missed ye all these years, mo ghraidh."
My mouth met his gently. Our inferno from earlier that night had become burning embers. The same heat was there, but it was quieter, less chaotic. He slid inside and we moved together, our hips gliding back and forth in a perfectly choreographed dance. Our eyes were locked in as we panted and breathed in each other’s air.
He built me up slowly and when I was inching closer and closer to the edge, he moved his hand down between my legs and rubbed at my clit, his rough fingers moving in a figure eight. As I met my release, I moved my head forward so our foreheads were touching, still staring into those ocean blue eyes. As I pulsed around him, he let go, gripping a handful of my hair and crying out in Gaelic.
With one final kiss, I turned around and Jamie spooned me from behind. He was asleep in minutes with his face pressed against my hair. I sunk into oblivion soon after, his entire body formed against mine, a sense of safety and security and satisfaction washing over me.
He came back.