Claire and Maia packed all the personal belongings until late into the night. Claire and Jamie would leave with the helicopter in the morning and Darius would take the boat to the island of Mykonos where it would be stored in dry dock, under cover.
“Thank you for helping me, Maia. I think we’re done and if we forgot something I’ll buy it new. Get some sleep dear one, tomorrow starts early.”
Claire pulled on a black silk suit with a short skirt, tailored jacket, and starched white shirt. Black heels and the blonde wig transformed her into the billionaire’s wife, and she walked with purpose onto the forward deck with the kitten tucked under her arm. The men swiveled their gaze, stuck on the long legs coming toward them.
“Good morning gentlemen, this my engineer…” Claire froze midsentence realizing they had not talked about Jamie’s name for introductions. Jamie smiled and extended his hand introducing himself as Gregory Patton.
“Ah, yes, Gregory.” They piled into the chopper and watched Darius wave from the deck before running to pull anchor and make way for Mykonos.
Jamie watched the pilot openly flirt with Claire and shoved his hands under his legs to keep from balling his fists. Thomas was giddy with the almost three-hundred thousand he made in two hours of work, so he was oblivious to everything. When the yacht came into view Jamie was enchanted. It was all white and huge compared to the other boat with three decks in the back, and two in the front. He forced himself to look out the window at the ocean to hide his wonder.
Claire and Jamie walked into the saloon as the chopper was already in the air. They were met by the owner’s wife who looked very distressed. Claire smiled and held her hand out asking if everything was alright.
“Yes, Misses Dunn but I’m afraid Adso is very unhappy today and unwell. He forgets so much these days and he doesn’t want to lose his beloved boat. It’s time for us to go ashore and be looked after by our children. Please understand if my husband is short with you.”
“I promise, and I understand. Who would want to part with this?”
They found the owner on the upper deck sitting in shade looking like he lost his family, his dog, and his best friend. Claire felt tears press against her eyeballs and took a deep breath. At that moment she shed her impersonation and became Claire, the compassionate, loving, woman Jamie fell in love with.
“Mister Rosen! How nice to see you again. This is Gregory, my engineer. I understand the money has been transferred and you have papers for me to sign.”
He didn’t look up at her or acknowledge Jamie. Claire sat down next to him as his wife explained she had purchased the boat and they would soon have to leave.
“Before you do, I was hoping you could give me the history of the boat and what it can do. Like, what are the upgrades and why did you choose them, what is the farthest you have taken it?”
When he didn’t respond she asked, “what did you love most about this boat?”
He seemed to grunt and liven up a bit, looking at her and the kitten.
“This is my kitten. It will live here on the boat with me.”
“What’s its name?”
“Adso? That’s my name.”
“Well, that is fitting, isn’t it? Now then, what kind of adventures can I have on this magnificent boat?”
That seemed to break the older man out of his shell. He reached out to stroke the kitten and smiled as he launched into his stories of the exciting places they had been on the yacht. Claire’s probing questions kept him talking and Jamie watched him look younger with each sentence. Claire talked to him like they were old friends, took her jacket off and put her feet up. Jamie was ready to burst with pride in her and her compassion for the old man.
After two hours of laughing and storytelling, the wife told Adso it was time to go. The man looked at Claire with such excitement and said he was glad she would live here from now on.
“One more thing, sir. Whenever you want to spend a day exploring please do it with me.”
It was a great way to put closure on a difficult transition. He would always be welcome. Adso’s wife hugged Claire hard, knowing she just spent two hours out of the kindness of her heart and she loved her for it. She took her husband’s arm and walked across the saloon where their trusted captain waited to tender them ashore.
“You know, I think the engineer is sweet on our Mary, ha!”
Claire watched the tender pull away from the boat with a tear in her eye. Strong arms encircled her waist and Jamie’s silky voice spoke his pride, devotion, and love into her ear.
“Are you ready to see your new home handsome?”
“Lead on love.”
They started below deck in the engine room and laundry, came up one flight to the guest cabins and crew area with a separate kitchen and living area, up another flight to the main saloon and forward deck with a shaded area and table for dining and a sun area with lounge chairs, they went up a flight to a second saloon with full media support for movies and television with a second forward deck. Up another flight to the bridge with the captain’s quarters and the sun deck. Jaime was confused because they reached the top deck, but he hadn’t seen the master bedroom. Claire led him down to the main saloon showing the dining area, the galley, and straight ahead was the entrance to the master suite that blew Jamie’s mind. The level of luxury was astounding and beautiful. There was a separate deck for this bedroom that gave them privacy from the world. Large windows in the bedroom and bathroom, and a sixty-inch flat-screen that rolled out on command.
“Well, how do you like your new boat sweetheart.”
Jamie stood and caressed her cheek, holding her to him. “This is Mary Dunn’s boat and I will think of you every day for the rest of my life, on this amazing yacht. It’s my gift Claire, a trinket compared to how much I love you.”
Claire wiped her tears and gave a brave face, “I have something to celebrate our new home, I hope the Rosen’s left some glasses.”
The galley had a full service for eight; glasses, dishes, flat wear, stem wear and serving bowls. Claire pulled two glasses and opened the one bag she brought on the helicopter. She set the bottle of fine whisky and two glasses on a tray and went to Jamie on the forward deck. They toasted their new home and kissed, another glass and another kiss, the third glass made them lose themselves in a kiss that was life-sustaining for them both and they stopped thinking of life alone.
“Jamie, I remember you have a birthday this month, is that right? It was in the Louvre when we spent the afternoon talking and admiring the art. I believe the date is the twenty-first?”
“What a memory mo chridhe. The only thing I remember from that day is your skirt being pulled up by the wind, and how much I wanted to kiss you.”
She pulled his arms around her and looked at his half-smile. “Am I right?”
“Aye, you’re a clever lass.”
“I want to make your birthday memorable, what is your pleasure?”
“Marry me, Claire Beauchamp.”
She had not heard her real name in quite some time and to have it linked with a proposal made her eyes sting with tears. Jamie hugged her and asked if that was a yes and then chuckled at her tearful response that it was. He hugged her to him and felt humbled that she would pledge herself to him with such an unknown future.
“I’m not going back, Claire. I figured I couldn’t outrun them with face recognition in all the airports, banks, even department stores. Fingerprint evidence left behind everywhere I went, they would catch me eventually so I didn’t see any possibility of running. All that changed when you bought this boat, Sassenach. We just stay on the water and keep moving.” He touched her cheek, “it’s not perfect, but I will be so damn grateful for every day I have with you.”
Jamie kissed both of her wet cheeks and then a long kiss to her mouth, full of promises and love.
The sound of a boat horn pulled them apart and they looked for the boat that was pulling up to the aft deck to offload all their belongings. Darius boarded the yacht and worked the hydraulics for lowering the back platform where they all pulled bag after bag out of the arriving boat. Darius thanked the man who shuttled them back from Mykonos and Jamie handed the man a one hundred dollar bill which made him very happy.
The platform was raised back to its resting position and Claire looked at an exhausted captain and first mate. It was quite an undertaking to prepare a yacht for dry dock. A checklist that required several hours to complete and then pulling their belongings to the transport boat that would take them back.
“As the owner of this craft, I order you two to your quarters until dinner. Take whatever you need to get out of those uniforms and disappear.”
Darius looked at all the bags to be brought in and Claire exerted her position over the tired captain.
“That is an order captain, be gone with the both of you.” She smiled at Maia and felt bad she handled so much alone, the poor girl was about to collapse. “Wait! You are both required on the front deck for five minutes please.”
Claire poured four glasses of whisky, thanked them from the bottom of her heart, and they threw them back. “Now you can go.” She couldn’t help the giggle that slipped out when she was commanding but noticed the other couple did not argue. They were too tired.
The day was overwhelming for everyone. Claire had tempted Jamie’s sexual appetite too many times throughout the day, with marriage proposals, touring the boat, an intimate introduction to their bedroom. By dinner time he felt like a live wire and could not relax. Claire surprised everyone with a lovely chowder of leftover lobster, snapper, potatoes, cabbage, onions, and spices. She served the other three at the table and set warm rolls on the table as well as a large salad. It was delicious and she seemed so happy to do it, even Maia was happy to be served.
The frumpled couple retired to their rooms straight away and Claire cleared the table and started cleaning up. Jamie held her wrists to prevent her from grabbing another plate to rinse and turned her around kissing her soundly.
“Let me finish so you can get ready for bed. I want to sleep for twelve hours with you in my arms, but we have other business to attend to first.” He pulled her hand to his concrete erection and she gasped, smiling slyly.
Jamie made short work of the remaining dishes and slammed the dishwasher closed. His long arms reached every last crumb on the table and counters and leftovers were stowed in the vast refrigerator. He locked up, turned lights off, set the alarm, and grabbed the whisky and glasses on his way to the master cabin. When he stepped under the rainbird shower-head he decided it was the most exquisite shower he had ever felt. Entering the bedroom he noticed the covers turned down, but he was missing one fiancé. He looked beyond the huge sliding glass door and saw his love reclined on a double lounge. She was naked and he stepped into a beautiful night with his love ready to ease his pain.
“On your back, soldier.”
She stretched her long legs on either side of him and brought her warm mouth down on him tenderly, slowly, feeling him fill her to her throat. He moaned and gripped the lounge to keep his hands from forcing her down on him. Jamie’s head was spinning in her erotic ministrations and groaned when she straddled him, sliding her body down on him with a moan. He watched her in the moonlight, so beautiful, so lost in her arousal. He knew she had changed in the time they were together but had not the brain space to figure it out right then.
Claire was swept away with carnal love and she watched Jamie’s face feeling more and more out of control.
“Come for me lass,” was the last thing she heard before the winds of erotic release made her deaf and her body left the earth in the pulsing delight that rolled through her.
Jamie held himself back until he watched her face in orgasmic release and he groaned pulling her hips down on him until he was spent. He carried her to the enormous bed, laying her on soft cool sheets, a gift from the owner. When he turned off the lights, he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face, and it took a while to find his future wife. He held her close and thanked God for such a spectacular woman, come what may.
The tall man covered ground faster than the average human due to his extraordinary stride. Usually an advantage he appreciated unless he was on his way to a dreaded appointment, like today. The Senator’s secretary didn’t move fast enough for Hesser, so he strode into Frank’s office and told him to hang up the phone.
“Nice of you to barge in this morning. What do you want?”
Hesser almost felt sorry for the ignorant punk in front of him who could no more win the gubernatorial race than fly to the moon. He needed Hesser behind him and Doctor Beauchamp at his side if he had a chance in hell.
“We are running out of time to bring your bride back Randall, let’s take a look at some possibilities of where she might be. We know she was in Chicago, Paris, Italy, where else might she have friendlies that would give her shelter? What languages does she speak?”
When Frank didn’t jump to answer the question, Hesser stood up and grabbed his collar yanking him to his feet.
“You better take this seriously Randall, without her you lose and your career is over. You are here because we want you here, it’s not your merit or sparkling history in politics you sanctimonious idiot. Let’s add worthless to that list.”
Hesser was disgusted leaving Frank’s office and dialed his cell phone as he left.
“I need fifty more agents assigned to the Beauchamp case. I will send you their destinations in an hour. Make the travel arrangements and copy the dossier for each of them.” He clicked off his cell and tried to remember which of the Greek islands they visited on their honeymoon. He couldn’t remember a single one and barely remembered his ex-wife's face now.
The moment Claire’s eyes opened in the morning her heart rate bounced into the happy zone and everything she saw made her want to jump up and down. After a delightful shower, she pulled on a bikini followed by shorts and a loose top. Her shipmates were in the galley preparing breakfast, decidedly concerned over the lack of food.
“We have the same amount of food, it just looks sparse because the frig is bigger. Okay, okay, we will buy food today.” She laughed at the sad faces and left them to open the doors to the wonderful sea breeze.
Over breakfast Claire asked how long it was safe to sit on this anchor, “is it okay to just stay here for now?”
“No.” Darius finished his coffee and pulled Maia into his lap. “I need you to weigh in on this Maia so stay for a couple of minutes before you start cleaning up. I think it’s logical Hesser will search the Greek islands next because it makes the most sense, Italy to Greece. I say we move on to Croatia as soon as the supplies are restored. One more thing, you should go ashore as a blonde, just in case.”
“I agree Sassenach, or stay onboard and let the rest of us go ashore.”
“I need some things so I have to go, but I’ll wear the wig. Let’s split up, each with our own list, we won’t be as noticeable that way and only buy what you can carry to the beach.”
They went their separate ways and Jamie caught up with Darius on the bridge. He requested some time, so they sat in the captain's chairs and faced each other.
“You’re a captain of a ship Darius. Can you marry us?”
Darius looked long and hard at Jamie. “You’re both running for your lives and you want to get married?”
Jamie looked at his hands folded in his lap. “I suppose you feel there's a lifetime to do the important things, but I don’t feel that way. I asked her and she said yes, so we want to do this as soon as possible. We will say our vows in front of the Almighty and that’s enough for me.”
“Jamie, I can marry you in international water but I cannot file the marriage in Greece, or anywhere in the world, it will lead them to you.”
“It’s enough to know we did it and if something happens to us you can file the marriage certificate post humus.”
“Okay, that’s enough of that!” Darius got up shaking his head and turned to Jamie before he left the bridge, “I’ll marry you. We head 200 miles out for the ceremony and then set course for Croatia.”
Jamie felt tingling in his head and wanted to shout it out the window of the bridge. Several deep breaths and a smile that made his cheeks hurt were good enough. He joined the others for making lists to shop.
Claire ushered Maia into her room and led her out to the deck where they sat knee to knee.
“Jamie asked me to marry him.” She almost fell over when Maia launched herself at Claire in a happy hug. “I hope we can marry on the boat, but I want it to be special. I need a dress and some kind of decoration. Will you stay in town with me and help me?”
Maia’s eyes brightened and she stammered something about forgetting her whole list and sending the men back to the boat to unload.
“If we start early enough, we should have at least a couple of hours to shop.”
“Perfect! You are my best friend Maia.”
Little Maia blushed at that compliment because she had put Claire on a pedestal from the first day. She was deeply touched.
Jamie and Darius spent the afternoon spearfishing while Claire and Maia created lists for everyone, laid in the sun, and then gawked at the enormous lobster and grouper brought back by the men.
Jamie was fascinated by the hydraulics lifting the tender out of the water and seemed to never run out of questions when Darius was around. The next day he had the tender on the water, tied to the back of the yacht when Darius walked onto the aft deck.
“For a guy new to the water you learn fast. I appreciate the help and think it’s time you became a proper first mate if you want to.”
“Yes, I do want to but it will hurt Maia’s feelings.”
“That little beauty has very deep feelings but they’re limited to love, compassion, support, and stubbornness if that’s a feeling. You watch, she will start teaching you too and your head will spin from too much information.”
Jamie locked the boat alarm into his phone app and they piled into the tender to shop in Santorini. Between the four of them, Jamie carried the lion’s share of groceries back to the tender an hour later. Like on cue, Maia pulled a folded paper from her pocket and complained about forgetting most of the items on her list. Darius looked at all the frozen food and said he would be back to get them.
“So we meet here in four hours?”
Darius shook his head in agreement and the girls watched the tender speed away before they ran to a garment shop.
Claire was getting upset because she couldn’t find anything suitable. Maia looked around trying to help her friend and saw something perfect for the occasion. She brought it to Claire who looked it over with a critical eye.
“You will shine in this color Claire, the fabric is beautiful.”
Claire looked Maia up and down and strode across the dress shop to pick the same garment out for Maia who was thrilled with the gift. Claire would wrap herself in a soft sarong in deep blues and gold. Maia’s sarong was graduated pinks and dark green leaves sprinkled throughout. The garments felt luxurious and the women were happy. Claire inspected the men’s shirts and pulled a gorgeous white collarless linen shirt out for Jamie.
“Be a good girl and give this to Jamie tomorrow morning.”
“Oh, shit, there’s something else I need. Is there a place around here to get artist paint?”
“Yes, and I will get the decorations and champagne while you do that.”
Maia was gone in a puff before Claire could say a word. She found a nightgown that looked and felt much like the one she wore in Paris and then made her way to the craft store. Claire struggled with so many bags that were getting heavier by the minute. Maia swooped in on her and took half of them giving a puzzled look at the contents.
“It’s Jamie’s birthday tomorrow. I want to give him something from his past and hope he will try to paint again. I need to hide this stuff in a bedroom downstairs, can you help me?”
Maia looked at her like she was kidding and pointed to the tender as their feet sunk into beach sand. Fortunately, Darius came alone saying Jamie was preparing dinner and making quite a mess. Claire collapsed into her seat, exhausted from her shopping marathon. Once back at the yacht, Maia grabbed the bags with art supplies and pointed to others for Darius to bring. When Jamie came out he grabbed Claire for a long hug. He held her to him as he pulled the tender out of the water with the wench and stowed it safely in the boat garage, returning the back platform to its upright position.
“You're rather good with all these buttons handsome. It’s kinda hot.”
“That fits nicely into my plan Sassenach.”
“Something to do with lobster, whisky, a slave to my pleasure and you … oh! Sorry love, I’m burning the rolls.”
Jamie ran into the boat heading for the galley and Claire shook her head and laughed.
Spirits were upbeat through dinner. They had food for several weeks, a plan to get to Croatia, and a wedding tomorrow. They were all very happy to embark on the next adventure. Maia cleaned up after dinner and Claire went up to the sundeck that had full-size mattresses across the deck that she could lay on. She smiled up at the stars and couldn’t wait to feel the wind in her hair when they were racing to Croatia.
“I’ve been looking high and low for you love. May I join you?”
“Actually, I think you will be very comfortable here Jamie. There are blankets under the bar if you get cold. I love you so much. See you tomorrow to take our vows.”
“But Sassenach, wait, what about a slave to my pleasure and ….”
“That I will surely be, tomorrow. It’s bad luck to be together before the ceremony sweetheart. I’ll miss you tonight.”
Jamie found himself alone on the upper deck, but the stars were brilliant diamonds sparkling in the black sky and he never tired of that grand view. He laid on his back and looked at them for exactly three and a half minutes then he fell asleep.
Claire arranged the canvases, paint, brushes, and other supplies in one of the bedrooms below deck. She prayed she was not overstepping but could not resist trying. He was a brilliant artist so how could he ignore such a big part of himself? She locked the door and went to her room. She was exhausted.
Darius went to sleep right after dinner. He would get up in a few hours and turn the boat toward the open ocean. It would take eight hours to reach international water and he hoped to be there before everyone woke up for the day.
Maia paced the lower saloon, checking her cell phone every other minute. She had slipped away from Claire when they were shopping to find the flower shop run by her brother’s best friend. He was happy to see her and helped her pick out three buckets of fresh flowers and garland. She gave him every penny she had, a gift to her friends. He was supposed to be here to drop them off and she started getting nervous. Another ten minutes and she got a text that he was at the aft deck. He kissed her cheek and waved, soon swallowed up by the black night. Maia stowed the flowers in the second refrigerator and sighed in relief before locking up and setting the alarm.
Jamie felt cool air on his face and opened his eyes. He could swear the boat was moving, and fast. It took a minute to remember why he was on the sundeck alone and by then he was sure they were moving. He walked downstairs to the bridge and almost scared the skin off of Darius.
“Jesus, Jamie, I didn’t expect anyone to be walking up on me. This baby is quiet, like a purring kitten. God, I love this boat!”
“Uh, where are we going?”
“You want to get married tomorrow, I mean later today, so we’re heading for international water, be there in four hours. I need something to munch on.”
Darius headed for the stairs to the galley and Jamie swiveled his head from the bridge to the retreating Darius.
“Don’t you need to drive the boat?”
Darius had a mouth full of food and shook his head trying to say autopilot. Jamie looked worried about going this fast with no one at the helm. Darius slapped him on the back, “if you’re not going back to sleep let me show you around the bridge. Why were you sleeping on the sundeck?”
“Claire says it’s bad luck to be together before the wedding.”
Darius laughed so hard he almost fell out of the captain's chair, “that’s rich, it’s what I love about women, they never make any sense when it comes to love.”
They could see the first rays of sunrise by six in the morning and it was the most beautiful sight Jamie had ever seen. He watched the colors change in the sky and on the water, purple, indigo, scarlet, orange, and a lite blue on the horizon. They were surrounded by water without a hint of anything else as far as the eye could see.
“Did you hear that?”
There was a crash below and both men stiffened and quietly crept down the stairs. Seeing a bucket of flowers come around the corner almost scared them half to death. Maia looked up at them on the stairs with a very strange expression and kept walking toward the forward deck. They got back to the bridge in time to answer the ringing phone.
"How long until we’re there?”
“Maybe an hour, why?”
“Drop it to five knots, the wind is blowing my flowers apart.”
Darius pulled the throttle back, “God she’s bossy sometimes.”
Claire stretched in her magnificent bed and smiled at the smell of bacon and sausage. When she realized this was the day she was getting married, she bolted upright in bed with a gasp. A minute later she was heading for the bathtub and panicked it was already nine o’clock in the morning. She opened the big glass door to the deck and looked around, she was pretty sure Santorini and all the moored boats were missing, in fact, she saw nothing but water on all sides and they were moving!
Maia brought a tray of food for her and explained that Darius left Santorini at one o’clock in the morning and they were now in international water.
“How does ten o’clock sound for your wedding?”
Claire swung her head from Maia to the bathtub to the sarong that hung on her closet door. Her face was pale and she nodded her head vigorously. Maia laughed and told her to relax and take her time.
Claire felt overwhelmed with bombarding emotions and wondered if Jamie was a basket-case too. He must be she decided. Meanwhile, Jamie and Darius crashed in the saloon watching a prerecorded game. Maia hung Jamie’s new shirt next to the couch he was sleeping on and decided to let them sleep for a while longer while she pressed Darius’s uniform.
At nine-fifty, Maia came down to the saloon with her new dress, makeup, and curly hair cascading down her back. He shook Jamie’s arm, and then Darius, and announced the wedding started in ten minutes. The two of them were blinking hard and shaking the sleep off as Maia handed Jamie the new shirt, clean jeans, and left giggling.
Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp and James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser said the traditional vows on the main deck surrounded by their two close friends and sweet-smelling flowers. Neither had a certain future, both were being hunted, and they would never stop running, albeit in luxury. They seemed oblivious to their circumstances and kissed like they were all alone in the universe. Afterward, Maia brought out champagne and fluted glasses to toast the newlyweds.
At the same time, CIA agents were landing on every Greek island with an airport, while others flew into Athens and hired a boat to their assigned island. Five agents were pulled off Italy and sent to Greece for a total of fifty-five CIA agents looking for Claire and Jamie with eight by ten glossy photographs of face and body. They were told to follow and get their location but do not engage, that privilege was reserved for Hesser.