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The Third Night

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Jamie eased himself off his wife—his wife—and rolled to his back, breathing hard. He was still dazed by it, the joy of being able to call Claire his own, and whatever this feeling was, something beyond even joy, that filled him when he laid with her. Claire tucked herself into his side, her head resting naturally in the space where his shoulder met his chest. Her skin, so soft, pressed against his side. His mind drifted; eyes closed, nose full of the scent of the two of them, the heat from loving her slowly dissipating, but not too cold yet. He’d need to cover her soon. She was always cold, especially her toes. But not yet, he needn’t move yet…
He must’ve dozed—he came back to full consciousness and opened his eyes. The fire was lower. The room was chillier. And Claire had rolled away from him to her other side. Unusual. She liked to stay close to him at night, she had since that first night, even when she was so unsure. He looked over, half-rolling to her to pull her back and cover her with the quilt—but movement caught his eye. He froze. She was rubbing her thighs together and sighing in her sleep. He was just about to touch her when realization broke through the thick sleepiness and satiation that muffled his senses.
The sounds were familiar, by now, despite his short acquaintance with them. He heard them when he was moving above her, in her; she would start to writhe and clutch at his back, trying to pull him closer.
She was dreaming of him loving her…or was she? She was clearly in passion, but was it him she held in her dreams?
Does it happen every time?
Only if the man is a very good lover.
He watched her face. She had that knowledge, but not from him. She’d been married before, and that man, whoever he was—and damn him for it—had taught her what it meant to be served properly. He’d joked that it was good that one of them would ken what they were doing, but now the joke turned sour in his wame. He was trying his best to learn her body, to listen—but hadn’t he, the wee fool, told her to keep her help to herself?
Jamie inched closer to her, trying not to disturb her, watching her face. Her eyebrows drew together as she panted. He loved it when she made that face, and it drew to mind another: the relaxed, drunken half-smile she made after her body relaxed from the bowstring tension of her greatest pleasure, the way she became almost liquid in his arms and the way she looked up at him then, whisky eyes warm, and for that moment, saw only him.
She would see only him, damn it.
“Sassenach, Sassenach,” he murmured in her ear, wrapping an arm around her belly and pulling her into the curve of his body. “Wake up, mo chridhe.”
“Hmm?” Claire stretched and settled back into his embrace. “Jamie?”
Perhaps he imagined it, but Jamie wasn’t one to lie to himself. Not usually, anyway. There was just slightly too long a pause in her recognizing him, just slightly too much surprise in her voice. It must have been as he feared. She wasn’t dreaming of him.
“What is it?” She rolled all the way onto her back and reached a hand up to brush his hair out of his eyes, tucking it behind his ear. Her palm cupped his cheek.
He gazed at her, this precious, fae creature that was now his. His in law, maybe, and his when he claimed her with his body, but there was still a part, or parts, of her that she held back from him. In her eyes, her glass face—it was obvious when she was abstracted, thinking of something or someone else. It hadn’t been so long ago that she’d tried to run from them. Perhaps she still planned to do so, to run from them—from him.
He leaned down to kiss her softly. Just a brushing of his lips on hers. This time, like others—some, not all—like their kiss at the altar, she followed him, seeking more.
“Ye were dreamin’,” he said, kissing across her cheekbone to her temple. “And it looked interestin’.”
A hundredscore thoughts flitted across her face as a blush flowed through her cheeks. Clearly remembering.
There were too many thoughts that he couldn’t decipher; too much of her that he didn’t know and that he feared he never would. God damn it, but he had been hers since he woke up in the mud and rotting leaves to see her face, white with fear and the determination not to show it, cursing him as she tended him, brown curls falling like a curtain around them; a world alone in which he fell in love. He knew she didn’t feel the same way, not all that time in Leoch he spent begging her attention, and not when she got herself blind-drunk in order to be able to marry him. But when she kissed him back, like that, after they’d said their vows—maybe he had a chance to have what his parents had had, what he’d been waiting (consciously or not) his whole life for.
She wasn’t his. Not now. Not entirely. But perhaps…perhaps he could make her so.
He kissed down her neck the way he’d learned that she loved, now lightly, now biting, now licking. He couldn’t afford to learn the rest the hard way.
“Four times wasn’t enough for today?” she asked, her tone halfway a sigh, halfway a laugh.
“Nay, not enough.” He looked her straight in the eye and slid his hand down her side to grip her arse and squeeze. “Not enough for me, and not enough for you…it seems.”
“Oh, well, I…”
He stopped her stumbling words with a kiss. “We promised each other honesty, Sassenach, and now is not a time I would accept secrets from ye, either.”
She nodded.
“Ye didna…didna finish tonight, did ye?”
“…no, well, no, but I did…this morning…” She tried to wriggle away, avoid his gaze. He refused to let her. He moved over her, keeping his eyes on hers, pulling her body closer, never letting her forget the strength in his arms and the power that waited, so tightly wound, in his body.
“Aye, I minded that…and yesterday?”
“Once,” she whispered.
“In the evenin’, after supper, but not in the heather on our ride and not that mornin’, aye?”
“Yes, but—but Jamie, you’ve been wonderful, and I have, I have been enjoying myself…”
Only if the man is a very good lover.
“Mmphm,” he grunted low in his throat. He’d noticed, and meant to do something about it next time, and next time he did, but not enough—and each time, he reached his pleasure, the shuddering warmth and completion that he’d only found and only ever would find in her arms. But she hadn’t, and worse, she knew the difference.
“I havena been serving you as a husband should.”
Her breathing picked up. Her breasts pushed against his chest harder, quicker.
“No, no, Jamie, you’ve been great, so attentive…you’ll make—you do make, a great husband…”
That was it. That little slip. She was holding back from him, expecting that—by whatever means—he’d be someone else’s husband someday. Absolutely not. It had always been forever for him. He would make it forever for her. He would tie her to him in every way he could. He’d already taken her by law, by Scripture, and by custom. Until death to us part, amen; blood of my blood, bone of my bone; his ring on her finger; his seed inside her, claiming her. But there was another ring on her finger, gold—dull, but still gold—and he knew better than to ask her to take it off. God damn him if she would ever give it more than a passing thought again.
He would make her his, completely his. He would bind her to him as tightly as he could. First, her body. He would give her such pleasure that she would not be able to contemplate a life without him. He would command her body, yes, and then perhaps her soul would follow. He must. He could never go back to being alone, not after having known her embrace. Not after having known what it feels to be whole.
“What was the difference?”
“Difference?” She seemed curious, now, no longer so evasive. That was good.
“D’ye mind when I said if I needed guidance, I’d ask? Well, now I’m askin’. What was different, the times ye…mmhmm, and the times ye didna?”
“You truly want to know?”
Something shifted in her expression. Claire’s eyes—Lord, he’d never seen eyes like that—softened. She reached up to thread her fingers through his hair, then, gripping, brought him down to kiss her. Kiss her he did. This part he was fairly confident in. She liked his kisses, he knew.
She hummed. “Well, it was mostly that…that you didn’t give me enough time to join you. I wasn’t quite ready when you came to me, those times, and so I wasn’t able to…catch up.”
“How do I make ye ready? I want ye to finish with me…always.” He kissed her again, more forcefully, and hitched himself over her a little more. Only if the man is a very good lover. “Every time.”
“Every time?” she asked, a bit amused, as if in disbelief. Well then. She stood to be impressed, and he took it up upon his honor to do so.
“Well, first of all,” she continued, “you mustn’t think of it as ‘finishing.’ It’s not so for a woman.”
A sly smile lifted her features: her mouth quirked up on one side, and her eyes crinkled in a way that Jamie already knew was about to be very, very good for him.
“When a man, you know, he is truly finished for a time. He cannot make love again for a little while, not even,” and her grin grew wider, “a young, virile man such as yourself.” She nibbled his lip, gently, but enough that he let his jaw fall a little open as he sighed.
“For women, well, for some women...”
“I dinna care about some. What is it for you?”
“For me…even if I do, you know, I could go again almost immediately. In the right circumstances.”
Christ. His breath came faster. Could she never be satisfied? If he didn’t do a good enough job, would she always be left wanting, be left susceptible to those who could serve her better, sate her better?
“Yes…that’s why we don’t call it ‘finishing,’ we call it—well, the word I hear, or I use, most often, is ‘come.’”
He disregarded the hint about where or how she had learned such terms, and focused on the mission at hand. He would erase any previous memories from her mind and body anyway. She would be wholly his. “Come.”
“Come, yes, come to climax. Because if the peak is high enough, if I come hard enough…then it’s more than enough, that once.”
She licked her lips. “But more is fun, too. Very fun.”
Through a dry mouth, mind a bit stunned by that revelation, he asked the first question that popped into his head.
“What is it like, when you…come?” ‘Climax’ brought to mind great heights, culmination, like walking a great Munro and the exhausted satisfaction upon reaching the peak—but more. Obviously.
“Mmm, well, first it’s just pleasure, happiness, contentment, all over.” Her eyes drifted closed and she shifted against him, rubbing her thighs together once more. “And then thoughts fade away, or are blasted away, and you can only feel, can only want more, more of what feels so good, want closer, want harder, want deeper.”
His mouth was already dry and somehow, and never would he have believed it before taking her to his bed, but he was rousing to her again. The fourth time that day. A small corner of his mind began saying the Hail Mary, hoping it would calm him and keep him from taking her before she was done speaking. Lord how he wanted her.
“And then a feeling of warmth starts building, starts in the soles of my feet and rushes up my body and over my mind and then I’m blind with it, numb with it in the most excruciating, wonderful way, and everything is just so hot and sharp and overwhelming for a moment…”
Hail Mary, full of grace…
“And then everything softens, and the world seems blurry, and nothing matters, and all I can feel…”
“…aye?” Thank Christ his voice didn’t break.
She opened her eyes. “…is you above me.”
Holy Mary, pray for us sinners, now and in our hour of death, amen.
The little death, anyway.
Lord, forgive him for that blasphemy.
Now he was roused and wanting her again, but not yet—he had to learn patience. She’d said she hadn’t been ready before. She would be ready now.
“I want to make you feel this way, again and again, always.”
“A tall order.”
“I am a verra tall man.”
She laughed. God, and he loved when she laughed. Her whole face brightened, and his heart warmed to the idea of the tiniest of joys that he brought her, he and he alone.
“Tell me how,” and it was a command at the same time as it was a plea. “I told you I’d ask for guidance…and I am.”
“Hmm,” she hummed, wiggling to bring both arms around to grasp his shoulders and then run down his chest. “I could tell you, but…I’d rather show you.”
He shivered as her nails scratched him. “No—aye, do, but—tell me as you go, I want to know it all…”
Her fingers glanced over the muscles in his stomach, which clenched in response. She slid her hands around his waist to pull him against her tighter. The roughness of his scars must’ve been obvious to her, but still she spread her fingers, not shying away, but as if she wanted to feel even more of him, all of him, equally.
“You’re so beautiful,” she said, so softly as to be only to herself, but Jamie heard. All of him. He knew that if he pushed into her now, he’d have her breathing heavy and arching her back, begging for more, in mere moments—but he knew, also, that he’d finish and she’d not…come…and they’d be right back where they started. Him, dozing and replete; her, restless and wanting more.
Her hips began to roll and he couldn’t not move against her, rubbing his cock against the firm point of her hip bone as her quim ground up and down against his thigh. He dropped his head, burying it in the crook of her shoulder, mouth open, breathing hard.
“No, no—you have to look.” She pulled him by the hair back up to meet her eyes. Fierce, wanting—and Lord, was that possession? He could barely focus, what with her body rolling against his and the scent of her arousal—he knew that, at least—rising between them.
“What do you see?” she asked.
“My—my wife,” he gasped, trying to stay focused. Blessed art thou amongst women…Lord, forgive him for that blasphemy. “My wife…wanting…” And this was the question, this was the critical point he must make her know absolutely. He looked down at her, aquamarine into amber eyes, and said: “My wife wanting me.” There was still a question in his eyes as he said it, though, and a brief flash of shame twinged in his stomach.
She breathed heavily. Did she know what he was implying, all that it meant? Did she know what he’d give to make it so?
“Yes, yes…” she said as she gazed back, tightening her hold on his hair. It hurt. He liked it. “I do want you, Jamie.”
Something pushed him to ask, “An’ ye? What do ye see when you look up at me?”
“I see…I see how big you are, how strong you are,” she said, running her hands down his shoulders, fingers tracing the muscles tensed with the effort of holding himself above her. “It makes me feel…small, precious, but like I’m safe with you. That you’ll protect me. And I look in your eyes, the way you burn from the inside. I see your strength and I see your passion. And I worry what would happen if that were ever to—go away.” He knew, as he knew her, that her declaration wasn’t as simple as it seemed. There was more in her heart than him, still, but not for much longer. He would be sure of it.
Then show me how to keep you.
Only if the man is a very good lover.
“What must I do next?” he asked, refocusing, taking in her body again. He wanted to know as desperately as he wanted to reach up and grab her breast, filling his palm with it, bringing it up to his mouth—
“Let’s not…let’s not skip ahead. Tell me what you already know. Show me what you already know.”
She knew, she must know, her smiling at him like that, the vixen, what she did to him. She must know what lengths he would go to to serve her.
How could she possibly sound so coherent? His thoughts were scattered to the four winds; his actions were guided by basest instinct, the primordial drive to have a woman and keep her there. Somewhere in his mind he knew she wouldn’t like to be owned—but he would own her. How was she already his?
“Aye…aye. Alright,” he stammered, drawing himself up and shaking his head. He must think clearly. He must learn this as well—no, better—than any of his Latin, and better yet than any of his swordfighting. He must know this in his bones.
“I ken ye like it when I kiss ye,” he said. He leaned down and kissed her again, just as he had that time two nights ago afore their marriage bed, the time that had driven her to remark upon his…abilities.
“I do,” she murmured, and mayhap he flattered himself—but she sounded jealous. Good. He wanted her possessive. He wanted her claiming her ownership of him.
“And I ken you like it when I kiss ye here, and suck on yer skin here,” he said, moving down her fine, carved-ivory neck, “an’ ‘ye taught me that a wee nibble wouldna go amiss,” he continued, listening to her gasps, moans, and squeaks, knowing he was right, and feeling the marks over his torso that proved his own point.
“Yes, that feels good,” she said, pulling him closer, wrapping a leg around his hips and pulling him tight. Hmm, she didn’t even need to tell him that much. How he loved her body—how it told him what her mind, full of secrets, never could.
Holy Mary, mother of God…
“An’ I ken,” he said, knowing that his accent grew rougher as he lost himself in her, his second language fading away and the urgency of Gaelic overpowering him, “that ye like it when I grasp ye here.” He slid his hand up her body—Lord help him, the curve of her hip into her waist and out again to her breast, then over, onto the softness itself, like the down that welcomed him home to sleep or the heather that offered him refuge from the elements. He held her breast in his hand, wanting to squeeze, wanting to hold it to himself, but not knowing how much—
“Yes, yes, Jamie, just like that.”
Ah, Christ. The woman was Temptation herself. “H—how? How hard? How much? What part?”
In fairness, he might not have said all of those questions aloud. He couldn’t tell for sure. Jamie was lost in her already, and yet there was a part of him holding himself above, determined to learn. That part of him knew what a rare woman he had been given and would not—would not—give up any chance to let her go like the rest of the will-o’-the-wisps on the Highland moors. She was his. Never mind that she was an Auld One.
“Your mouth, now.”
Only too gladly. He descended upon her, mouth hungry. His hand held her ready for him, moulding one fine breast up so that the nipple reached upward for his parted lips.
It was something primal when he began to suckle her. She moaned and arched her back, pushing her sex closer to his, as he alternately sucked, nibbled, and licked her sweet, pink peak.
He peeked up at her from his place on her chest, his arms still wrapped around her, holding her to him. Their bodies had been covered in sheens of moisture and they had begun to slide. In their pleasure, the boundaries between body and body had begun to dissolve. Blood of my blood, bone of my bone.
“Christ, Jamie, what else do you know…?”
“It doesna matter, mo nighean donn, ye must show me from here.”
She panted once, twice, three times, and then determinedly opened her eyes.
“You’re a quick study.”
“Aye, my Greek tutors said the same.”
She laughed and again he loved it. He was sure—no man had made her laugh about Greek in their bed before. None. She brushed his hair back from his eyes, and he was surprised to find it already damp. Never had he felt so easy about having worked so hard.
“Oh, Jamie Fraser,” she said, kissing him so sweetly, he’d have thought it their Beltane ribbon dance. She ran her hand slowly, forcefully, along his side-body and down his arm again to his hand. She grasped it and brought it to her lips. “You’re about to learn something not taught in the Université, something else entirely.”
A fierce look came over her, her eyes hardened, her grip tightened. Suddenly, he was aware of her teeth, lingering behind every kiss, every playful nip. “At least I hope so.”
“Show me, Sassenach, show me.”
Her fingers wove between his and guided them down over her belly, and down further, into the secret parts of her. With her middle finger she guided his through her folds and into the very heat of her.
“Christ, Sassenach.”
“What do you feel? Tell me what you feel.”
He couldn’t resist the urge to slide into and out of her, delighting in the slipperiness, feeling how easy it could be. His fingers had sensitivities even his cock didn’t have. Every texture of her, the heat, the wetness, the slickness that he never could have imagined.
“Jesus, Mary, and Bride, you feel wet, and slippery. This is ye ready for me?”
“Yes, I’m wet, yes, I’m ready for you—this is the feeling you want if you want me to come with you.”
Ah, Christ. Ah, Lord in Heaven. How was he ever to serve this woman?
At first, his middle finger had twined with hers. Then she pulled back a bit, holding his wrist, forcing his finger deeper inside of her.
“If I’m not, it’s uncomfortable when you take me, at first, or it can even hurt. But feel that? Feel how good that is?”
“Aye,” he said, more groan than word.
“Now you know what to look for, some of what to do.” She writhed against him, wanting so much more. “Do you want to know the rest? How to get me…there?”
“My God, woman, do ye even have to ask?”
She laughed on a soft exhale. Claire leaned up and kissed his neck, then nipped him, lightly. “Add another finger.”
His forefinger slid in next, the calluses on his working hands slickening with the fluid.
“Go slow and pay attention.”
He worked her slowly, sliding in and out. Watching her face was the most fascinating thing he’d ever seen; her eyes closed when he went faster, and scrunched shut when he used more force. She was losing herself—he was making her lose herself. He would watch her like this every single day for the rest of their lives. Multiple times a day. In all the different ways he could, he would make her fall apart, and he would be there to gather her back up again until he’d touched each one of her pieces. He would leave his mark on her.
“Curl your fingers forward.”
The effect was instantaneous. As he curved his fingers, he found the walls of her resisting him—he’d never have imagined they would be so rough, but so soft—and she cried out. Aye then, this spot. Her body arched and then collapsed back onto the bed, limper than before. He leaned away just slightly to give her more room, and honestly, to be able to see her better as she began to fall apart. He wanted to kiss her again, to nibble on that spot behind her ear and down her neck, to suck on the pebbled, tight nub of her nipple, but he couldn’t look away. She gripped the sheets as he pressed harder.
“I want ye, Claire, I must have ye—it’s time now, aye?” He was roused to the point of pain, needing to be inside her, breathing like he was using up the last of the air in the room. A small part of his mind was concerned he’d spill his seed just from watching her and feeling her body undulate against his.
“No, no,” she stammered out.
“No? Dear God,” he said, gritting his teeth.
“There’s one more thing, the most important thing.”
With everything they’d been doing so far, there could be something more important to her pleasure than that? That managed to capture his fraying interest. Absently, he noticed that she’d brought her hands up to his shoulders and was pushing him down. A wild thought came to him of what she might be asking him—his heart must be ready to beat out of his chest.
“Stop for a second.”
He must’ve made a noise, because she laughed again. “Just for a second! Kneel between my legs.”
Jamie was a bit frozen for a moment as his brain ran through the many possibilities before him before he realized that the doing of it would be better than the thinking of it. As he recovered, Claire had pushed herself back a bit, to lean against the headboard. He crawled over her, settling between her knees, looking down at the soft thatch of dark brown hair. Hail Mary, mother…mother of…what came next?
“Jamie,” she said, amused but breathless. His eyes shot up to hers and he was pinned by her falcon’s gaze. This woman.
Something in the way she looked at him, though, was different. She wanted him, yes, but this was somehow more. This was more than just a pleasure of the body. What was it?
She looked away first. Her chest was still heaving. There was a desperate edge to her voice.
“Watch me.”
He never wanted to look away.
She reached down with both hands. With her left, she spread her lips apart, revealing shiny pink flesh, glistening wet, with little soft bits of flesh that he’d felt before but never taken much note of. Claire sunk her right forefinger inside her, slowly, and brought it back out to circle her slick skin.
“I can come just on your cock—”
He hoped he didn’t whimper aloud, to her say such things in that wonton, breathy voice.
“—if there’s enough time, if it’s been too good, but if you want me to come quicker, with you, want me to come every time,” she continued.
He was listening.
“Then you need to touch me here.”
Her finger rubbed over one spot in particular, a little round bud that rested atop her folds, what he realized were another, inner, set of lips, leading down to where he would enter her. She hmmed, rubbing more, closing her eyes. Jamie rubbed her inner thighs, watching how it made her tremble and clench, and then pushed them farther apart.
“Aye, that feels good?”
“It feels very good…it’s the most sensitive place. You could touch me here, just here, not anywhere else, and soon I’d be—oh.” She gasped. Jamie had pushed her hand aside and replaced her finger with his thumb. It felt soft. Claire threw her head back, knocking it into the rough oak headboard, but seeming not to mind.
He did as he had done before, rubbing her and watching her reactions—now fast, now slow; hard, soft; up, down, around. Each of her reactions was catalogued as he learned her, as he pushed her toward her end.
“Jamie, I’m so close, keep going—harder.”
She was panting and rolling against his hand. He put more pressure on and felt her body begin to tense up.
“Use your fingers again.”
He thrust his first two fingers inside her again, rubbing her inside like she’d shown him, fast and hard while his thumb circled her.
“Jamie!” She cried his name as her back arched like a bow, further cries tight in her throat, coming out in panting gasps and abbreviated moans. He slowly drew his hands away as she trembled beneath him.
That was—he didn’t have words for what that was. He had never experienced a pleasure like that, and his body hadn’t even been touched. His woman was lying boneless before him, completely undone because of what he’d done to her. He’d have laughed if he weren’t about to lose his mind from lust.
He crawled up her body and came to rest beside her, leaning over her, just as he’d done when they begun. Her eyes remained closed but a she smiled, the barest twitch at the corner of her mouth. He couldn’t keep from touching her and he ran his fingertips over her stomach, up between her breasts. She shuddered, just a bit, squirming at his touch.
His was whispering to her and to God in Gaelic as she came back around, opening her eyes to look up at him. He must’ve looked a bit mad from the force of his wanting her, but she smiled wider, evidently liking what she saw.
“Thank you, Mister Fraser.”
“Your servant, Mistress Fraser.”
He held her as she came around to him, enjoying the look of her so unguarded, but she must’ve sensed the tension in his body. And there was no way she could have failed to sense his hard length burning into her side.
“Is there something on your mind?”
He would never be able to thank the Almighty enough for the gift of this woman, his Sassenach.
“Aye, well, ye ken how ye said that a woman is ready to go again right after…”
She laughed, full in her throat—all joy and with no reservation, no thought but of him.
“I do,” she said, and put her hands on his chest and pushed him onto his back. She climbed atop him, hair positively wild around her head. “I do, indeed.”