I followed Jenny quietly up the stairs to a small, but clean and comfortable looking bedroom.
I was still reeling a bit, from the whole situation, and meeting Jamie’s family, seeing his actual life, and I was also just so wholly exhausted.
“Four doors down is wee Jamie’s room,” Jenny explained. “If ye feel th’ need tae look in on your son.”
“Thank you,” I said earnestly, touched by her understanding, considering everything they’d just told her. “I know he’s practically grown, but he’s been through so much lately, and I worry.”
She nodded. “Of course. I figure being a mother means ye’ll always worry, no matter how ye came tae have them.”
I smiled. “And Jamie?”
Now, Jenny’s eyes narrowed slightly. “Th’ laird’s chamber is down th’ hall, though if ye need anything, ye can simply ring for Mrs. Crook, and she’ll see tae ye. Otherwise, my husband and I will be just across th’ hall.”
It was as clear a message as any, that Jenny did not want to find me wandering to her brother’s bedroom in the night. A completely backwards and antiquated show of morals by my standard, but I understood that this was a very different time, and Jenny seemed the type to be as protective of her brother’s virtue as most men would be of their daughters’.
So I nodded. “Of course, thank you.”
I expected her to say her goodnights, but Jenny just stood there, folding her arms. “I ken ye’re weary, and I’ll leave ye tae your rest, but I imagine I’ll no’ often find myself alone wi’ ye, so I’ll ask ye now. What are your intentions wi’ Jamie?”
I looked away, trying to think of how best to answer. “I’ll be honest with you, Jenny. Fergus and I have found ourselves in a very strange situation, and I honestly don’t know what we’re going to do now. What I can say is I care about your brother. Very much. Fergus and I both do. I’d never want to do anything to hurt him.”
Jenny nodded. “Aye, I see ye mean what ye say. But ye’re also not saying that ye’re willing tae settle down wi’ him. And I must say, I have my own concerns. Jamie may no’ be a boy - hasn’a been, since Randall dragged him awa’ from Lallybroch. But he’s still a verra young man, and I can see that ye are a worldly woman, and wi’ a son almost old enough tae be Jamie’s peer.”
“As I said, Jenny, I don’t want to hurt Jamie. I can’t promise I never will, just like he cannot promise the same of me. But he is a man, and he can make his own choices.”
Jenny nodded again, and then turned to go. I didn’t think she exactly liked me, but I felt like we had an understanding, at least.
But really, she just wanted to know the answer to the question none of us had.
I undressed gratefully, wishing yet again for a shower as I washed hastily in the water basin by the vanity. I might have collapsed into bed naked, but only the thought that Fergus might come in the night made me reach for my dirty shift. But then I caught sight of the white nightgown laying across the bed, almost invisible against the creamy colored quilt, and I sighed in relief.
Fergus and I had spoken off and on, but I thought I needed to have a conversation with him alone, away from Jamie.
It was patently clear what Fergus’s opinion was on the matter. If Jamie could not return to the 21st century, we simply stayed there with him. End of story. And it made sense, Jamie was the closest thing to a father Fergus had ever known. Other than the past few months, he’d never been without him almost his entire life. It was perfectly natural that Fergus wouldn’t want to leave him.
He also rationalized that returning home would lead to a whole host of issues, including but not limited to my possible arrest, having to explain what happened to us at Craigh na Dun, and then Fergus being almost certainly ripped away from me.
But what about disease? Infection? I certainly had the advanced training and knowledge to do what I could, but without proper medicine and medical equipment, one papercut could be lethal.
And then there was war.
I didn’t know a lot about the Rising, but I remembered some of what I learned in school, and that had mostly been the English side of things. I knew that the Scots would lose, miserably, and following that would be years of death and famine as the Scottish culture disappeared and changed forever.
Did Jamie already know? Would he be forced to fight? Christ, would Fergus ?
Even if we just left and went to America, it wouldn’t be very long before we’d be forced to deal with the American Revolution.
There didn’t really seem to be a good option.
“Ugh,” I groaned, yanking the quilt above my head.
I just had to have fallen in love with an adorable little boy and his imaginary friend, didn’t I?
It was sometime in the middle of the night that I heard the bedroom door slowly creak open. I’d only been sleeping lightly, unused to the sounds of the old stone house, without a fan, air conditioning, or even the distant sounds of traffic for white noise. I played music quietly on my phone for a little while, comforted by the familiar sounds and glow of the backlight, but soon I turned it off, not wishing to waste the battery.
I tensed automatically when the door opened, trying to peer through the pitch black darkness to see who it was, though I knew rationally it was probably only one of two people.
Then again, what did I know? Ian seemed perfectly trustworthy, but there could be manservants around or something.
I remained still as whoever it was sat on the side of the bed, but then I relaxed, able to sense Jamie’s presence without needing to see him.
“Ye’re awake,” he whispered, and it wasn’t a question.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m more tired than I even was during med school finals and yet I can’t quite get my brain to turn off.”
A hand slid along my pillow until it reached my cheek, and I chuckled. “You can’t see me either, can you? It’s about time the playing field is level.”
Jamie laughed too, and somehow, hearing that rumbling sound coming from seemingly nowhere was soothing, in a weird way. “Scoot over, Sassenach,” he said, nudging my hip.
“Hm, your sister wouldn’t be happy if she found out,” I said.
I was teasing, but Jamie sounded serious when he responded. “D’ye want me to go?”
“Oh, get down here you ridiculous man,” I said, finding his neck and then yanking him down to kiss me, which he did thoroughly. I slid over to accommodate him, but not much, since all I did was plaster myself to him as soon as he was under the covers.
“Tell me you did not walk down the hallway past your sister’s room butt naked,” I asked with a laugh.
“I was wearing my shirt ,” he laughed defensively. “But I took it off when I came intae your room.”
“Glad you didn’t go into the wrong room!”
“Hush, you, if ye dinna want tae bring my sister coming tae check on ye.”
He kissed me again, and God , no one kissed the way Jamie did. Was that just him , or an 18th century man thing?
I knew, without a doubt, that if I went back, there would be no one else for me. I could never love the way I loved Jamie, and even if I could, no one could ever make me feel the way he did when he touched me.
And if it were just me, I’d do it. I’d abandon my career, the friends who were like my family, and the life I’d built and stay with him. But it wasn’t just me. I had the life, safety, and future of a twelve year old boy in my hands.
“I don’t know what to do, Jamie,” I whispered, glad for the darkness so that I didn’t need to see the hurt on his face when we talked about it. “I don’t know what is right.”
“I dinna think I can tell ye what is right, Sassenach,” he said, pulling me closer.
“Well why can’t you? Fergus is just as much yours as he is mine. There’s what we all want, and then there’s what’s best . Do you know about the uprising?”
I felt him nod, his hair brushing against my chest where he’d already undone the lacing of my nightgown. “Aye. I wasn’a looking for th’ information, but Fergus went through a kick of watching movies and documentaries about Scotland, when he was old enough tae understand that it was where I’m from. I ken all about it. And ye’re right, this willn’a be a safe place, no’ for me, and certainly no’ for you and Fergus. But wi’ th’ way ye left things back home, it isn’a safe either.”
“It’s not ideal , but it’s safe,” I argued. “I mean, let’s face it, I’ll be physically safer in modern jail than I would be walking through any given town alone. But I’m mostly thinking of Fergus.”
Jamie was quiet for a long time, so long I actually wondered if he’d dozed off.
“I have little tae offer either of you,” he said. “I canna even offer ye Lallybroch, since in a few years time it, too, will be taken from me. All I can offer is th’ one thing ye didn’a have there.”
He chuckled. “I was going tae say family, but aye, if ye want tae look at it that way.”
“What if we tried to go back together?” I asked. “You can’t know for sure that you can’t until you try.”
“Aye, I suppose. But then what? Let’s say you and Fergus figure things out and somehow are allowed tae stay together, what th’ devil would I do? I canna just appear . No birth certificate, no social security number, no record of living at all. Louise would certainly have questions about Jamie Fraser suddenly being a flesh and blood man. I can only imagine what would happen if that bastard St. Germain got wind of me.”
“You’re right,” I admitted. “So that all just brings me back to my original question. What’s the right thing to do?”
Jamie kissed me between my eyes. “I really wish I knew, mo ghraidh . But for right now, ye’re safe here.”
I snorted. “If you say so. Your sister’s nice, but it’s pretty clear that she doesn’t trust me.”
“Dinna take it personally, Sassenach. Jenny doesn’t generally trust anyone, and certainly no one wi’ sights on her little brother.”
“Oh, I have my sights on you now, is that it?”
I couldn’t see his smile, but I could hear it in his voice, just like I used to. “Don’t ye?”
“ Aye ,” I admitted, pulling him back to me for another kiss.
When Jamie had first crawled into bed with me, I’d felt his erection against my leg, but our conversation had made it lag. Now, with my tongue sliding into his mouth, it surged back to life.
It was possibly even more awkward with his sister across the hall than it had been with Murtagh and Fergus just downstairs, but damn me if I couldn’t resist him, more eager than I’d been for anyone, even when I was a twenty-something horndog.
“What I wouldn’a give tae get ye somewhere alone,” he whispered into my ear, his breath giving me pleasant chills as his hand slowly pulled up my nightgown. “No one hearing. Where I could lay ye out in broad daylight, see everything .”
I’d never been much of an exhibitionist, preferring darkened bedrooms for sex than anywhere brightly lit, but the picture Jamie painted was an intriguing one, to be sure.
“Too bad we can’t both go invisible,” I joked, though my voice hitched on the last word when he slid two fingers into me.
“Aye, it came in handy for me when ye were at work…”
I chuckled breathily, a throb of desire going through me at the memory of him pleasuring me right in front of Geillis, without her ever knowing.
“Know this,” he said, running his tongue over my nipple and up to my collarbone as he removed his fingers from my body and slowly replaced it with his cock. “If ye and Fergus do stay, ye’ll have me. All of me. I’ll do everything in my power tae keep ye both safe.”
It was difficult to think, and certainly difficult to refute his words when he was thrusting inside of me, filling me, reaching places no one else ever had. When I could feel his heartbeat against mine. Taste his tongue on mine.
In that moment I felt like I could forget caution, forget responsibility, forget rationality, and just follow Jamie to ends of the earth.