The rhythmic thumping of Mandy’s pulse filled the small exam room as the nurse pressed the ultrasound wand onto Bree’s growing baby bump. Roger squeezed her hand and she turned to her husband, his eyes lit up as though he were a boy in a candy shop. His reactions to the small things with Mandy- hearing her heartbeat, feeling Bree’s stomach when she kicked- brought joy to Bree. These were the moments where her husband got to truly share the child-bearing experience with her.
“Hmmm,” the nurse pursed her lips.
“Is everything okay?” Bree asked, a pang of worry pulling her away from her loving gaze at Roger.
The nurse had been deep in thought, but perked up as she realized that Bree had asked her a question. “Oh, everything will be alright. I just need to go get the doctor.”
The nurse’s blue scrubs disappeared behind the swinging door before Bree could get another word out. Her breath hitched and she turned to Roger, grasping at his forearm. Her eyes flicked between his, frantically searching for an ounce of panic in his gaze. But there was none, at least not that he’d let show.
“You can’t possibly be unworried right now, Roger.”
He merely squeezed her hand. “Let’s not worry until we know there is something to worry about, aye?”
Bree shot him a glare, but didn’t say anything else until the doctor sauntered into the room.
“Good morning, Mr. and Mrs. Mac-”
“-What is wrong with my baby?” Bree demanded.
The doctor gave her a reassuring look, one which made Bree want to strangle him. Why was everyone so calm?
The doctor pressed the end of his stethoscope to Bree’s belly, clicking his tongue. He turned to the nurse. “You were right?”
“RIGHT ABOUT WHAT?” Bree sat up, eyes blazing. Roger considered restraining her, for fear she might pounce upon the poor man, but made the wise choice to leave her be.
“Your daughter has developed a minor heart murmur. She’ll be alright, but we will need to monitor her after she is born. I assure you, Mama-”
“-My name is Brianna.” Bree hated when her OB called her that.
“Of course. I assure you that she will be just fine.”
She felt a hand on her shoulder and grasped onto it, trying to push away the worry that still crept through her. The doctor wore an earnest expression, and Bree felt the flames of her anger extinguish as he gazed upon her. She nodded, squeezing Roger’s hand so tightly she knew it was probably hurting him. But he didn’t try to pull it away.
“‘I have always had more dread of a pen, a bottle of ink, and a sheet of paper than of a sword or pistol.’” Jamie read aloud. Claire, Graham, Ian, and I all sat around the parlor room, rapt in attention as if we were school children hearing tales read by a school teacher.
Jamie had been thoroughly enjoying his Christmas gift from me and Graham, a copy of “The Count of Monte Cristo.” He’d delighted upon opening it, taking both of us into his broad embrace in gratitude. He’d read it through at least once on his own already, and now had taken to reading a chapter aloud each evening.
“‘Between my finger and my thumb\The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.’” Graham quoted. Jamie looked up from the pages, peering over his spectacles.
“Another quote from the book?” He flipped through it, perhaps thinking he had somehow missed the line in his own reading of the novel.
Graham shook his head. “A quote from a man named Seamus Haeney. He wrote political poems about Ireland in my time.”
“If ye’d asked me when I was a young man-”
“-You’re still a young man.” Claire interrupted her husband, kissing his cheek.
He smiled, continuing. “If ye’d asked me when I was a young man, I’d have said the sword is a mightier weapon than any other. But that was before I discovered the printing press. A sword can take maybe a dozen lives or so in a battle, but it is ink on the page that causes the battle in the first place.”
“Oh, I’d have to disagree with ye, Uncle Jamie,” Ian chided.
“Well, yes,” I turned to Ian, “But I believe you fall under the category of ‘young man.’”
Ian laughed. “Well, I hope to never grow old then. I quite like my dirk, thank ye verra much.”
Graham and I snuck silently into the guest chambers, trying to to wake Klara, as the clock in the parlor struck the first hour. Claire had plied our philosophical discussion with wine, having caused it to descend into a jovial recounting of our various experiences in battle. It seemed that after a few glasses of red, Jamie certainly thought the sword to be mightier than the pen. Perhaps the effects of the alcohol brought back his youthful nature.
Graham had listened to these tales intently, and was especially interested when Ian had me remove my shirt to show off the scars I’d earned from the pistol backfire decades prior. I’d felt his eyes on me since then, and now felt his gaze on my back as I undressed for bed.
I sat on the bed shirtless, bending to unfasten my shoes. I didn’t turn around as I felt the bed dip behind me, nor did I react when his cold fingers traced the curves of my back. His warm breath tickled the back of my neck as he planted a kiss between my shoulder blades. He went for my neck as I sat up, but I intercepted him, grasping his chin frimley between my thumb and forefinger. I surveyed his face. His lips were stained red from wine, and it took every ounce of self control I had to refrain from tasting them right then and there. But that would ruin the fun.
“Eager, aren’t we?” I whispered, my lips inches from his.
I could hear his breath get caught in his throat, and he merely nodded in response.
I snickered, squeezing his chin more tightly as I leaned in even closer. My lips brushed his as I spoke again. “What is it that you want, Graham?”
He pushed against my grip, attempting to join our lips, and I clicked my tongue. “Tell me.”
“You.” His breath tickled my lips.
I kissed him lightly, his chin still in my control. He whimpered as I pulled away. “How do you want me?”
I could feel Graham’s pulse quicken in his throat as he answered. “I want you inside me.”
I hummed, kissing him again. I allowed my other hand to roam up his thigh, stopping on his hard bulge. He squirmed beneath it, desperate for friction, and I pulled away from the kiss again. “You must be more specific, my love.”
“Ride you. I want to ride you.” He took in a sharp breath as I squeezed him, kissing his neck. I hummed, urging him to continue. “I want you to touch me.”
I stopped palming him. “Where?”
That answer wouldn’t suffice. I moved my hand back down his leg.
“My cock-” he said abruptly. “John, please-” I returned my hand to where it had been, resuming the motions that caused him to stifle a moan. I undid the fastenings of his breeches and shoved my hand inside, brushing my fingers along the soft skin.
I looked into his pleading eyes, studying his features as I teased him. I tilted my head to the side and he leaned in, kissing along my jaw. I let go of his chin, allowing myself to relish in the feeling of his lips on my skin. They were warm and smelled of wine, as I was sure my own did.
My other hand oved down his chest, over his lean frame and the hairs on his chest. I thumbed over his nipple, feeling it harden at the touch. He groaned and I pressed on his chest easing him back onto the bed.
I hovered over him, his legs straddled on either side of my hips. He blinked at me, tracing a thumb over my bottom lip. My hand pressed against the back of his and I kissed his fingers, and then his palm, down his wrist and up his arm. I stopped at his neck, suckling at the tender spot just above his collar bone that made his breath hitch.
“John,” he whispered.
I continued to kiss his neck, pausing only to speak. “What do you want my love?” I said into his neck.
“Kiss me. Please, I need you to kiss me.”
“I am kissing you,” I teased. Graham ran a hand through my hair, brushing back the locks that had fallen into my face. I pulled back, looking at him. His gaze fell to my lips and he reached to touch them again. I pulled his hand away though, instead leaning in closer to him. He raised his chin as I brushed my lips over his, and I let him. The hand in my hair tightened as I slipped my tongue into his mouth. I ground my hips lightly between his legs, grunting quietly at the much-needed friction. His back arched and his lips parted further, allowing me to deepen the kiss even more.
I pulled away to remove my trousers and Graham did the same. I couldn’t help but pause to gaze upon his naked body before me. The moonlight shining through the window brushed a soft glow over his muscular frame. I mumbled a swear under my breath before leaning in once more to resume our kiss. My other hand was busy this time, preparing Graham. His back arched as I massaged him, a small bead of precum building on his tip.
I had to bury my face in his shoulder to stifle the moan I released upon entering him. His heat compared to the cool air of the room was almost too pleasant. I could tell after a few thrusts that neither of us was going to last long.
I tucked an arm around his back, pulling out to allow myself to flip him on top of me. He wasted no time easing himself back down onto me, and the face he made as he did so was nearly enough for me to lose myself right then and there.
It only took a few minutes before he spilled onto my chest, grasping the headboard as he did so. I grabbed his hips, thrusting deep into him as I reached my own end. Graham clamped a hand over my mouth, muffling the guttural moan I hadn’t been able to hold back. When the pleasure finally tapered off, Graham lowered himself onto the bed beside me, tangling his limbs with mine.
We didn’t stay awake long enough to get dressed.