“Da! Da! Wake up! Geordie says the lambs are coming!”
Saturday morning, typically Jamie’s favourite day of the week, because he allowed himself a lie in, and yet here he was being viciously shaken away by his own son.
The fucking little traitor.
Suddenly startled out of his dream, Jamie sat bolt upright in his bed, gasping for breath. God only knew what time it was. Four slivers of light poured out from behind Jamie’s blind, but the rest of his room was still pitch black.
It was definitely way too early for a Saturday morning.
Blinking hard, Jamie dislodged the sleep sticking his eyelids closed, with a firm rub of the heel of his hand. Now more conscious than he had been before, but by no means awake, Jamie could just make out the outline of his son. Willie stood at the side of the bed, hands fisted in the sheets, while he bounced up and down with excitement. What the hell had Granny Ellen fed him this morning?
“Come on, Da! You’ve gotta get up! The lambs!”
Right at this given second, Jamie couldn’t give a flying fuck about the lambs. That would probably change once he splashed his face with cold water, took a shot of coffee and woke up properly. But for now… Jamie wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep and back to his dream.
“Da! Are you coming?”
“Yes…” Jamie’s voice was all croaky and full of sleep. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Yes, I’m coming lad. Go tell Geordie I’ll be out shortly. Do you ken if he’s rang the vet yet?”
“I don’t think so, he was waiting for ye or Grandda to show up first,” Willie said.
“Right, okay. I’ll be there in ten, son. Tell Geordie to hang on.”
Jamie felt rather than saw Willie stand on his tiptoes and bob his head as he listened to his Da’s important instructions. Once Willie had scampered out of the room, feet pattering against the wooden floor and down the stairs, Jamie allowed himself to fall backwards onto the mattress. He blew out a large sigh, lifting his hand to his cheeks and scrubbing up and down hard. More than just stubble, almost the beginning of a beard, greeted Jamie’s palms. He’d definitely need to find time to fit in a quick shave over the weekend, unless he wanted to show up on the school run like he’d been living in a cave.
Just another task to add to Jamie’s ever growing to do list.
Christ, there weren’t enough hours in the day, or days in the week.
Right about now, he should be swinging his legs out of bed. He should be pulling on any clean clothes he touched first in his wardrobe. He should be walking across the fields, phone pressed to his ear as he talked with the vet, to greet Geordie and any of the other young lads who had come to help with the lambing process.
Instead, Jamie had let his eyes fall shut again, hands folded neatly across his stomach as he tried to fit together the bits and pieces of his dream. He first remembered he’d been in the field, sun beating down on him, his back almost at breaking point as he bent over to pull out some stubborn weeds. Somebody had called his name, his full given name, but now Jamie was unable to place the voice. The next thing he knew, he’d been in the horse’s stables. The stables were unbearably hot due to the hot weather outside, but the strangest thing of all had been the lack of horses themselves. There wasn’t any neighing or braying of hooves, but each of the stable doors were still bolted shut, as if the horses had somehow magically passed through the wood.
That same voice had called Jamie’s name, and he was sure he’d only blinked once. But now Miss Beauchamp stood in front of him. She wore the exact same outfit she’d worn to the Headmaster’s meeting (god, she must be sweltering – Jamie had thought to himself). A coy smile had played about her plump lips.
Jamie had felt drawn to her, could not stop himself from crossing the short space between them, and pressing himself up against her soft body. She’d sighed oh so sweetly, turning her body in his arms, until her back rested against his chest, and her delicious arse was pressed tight against Jamie’s pelvis. Reaching upwards with nimble fingers, Miss Beauchamp shifted all of her hair to one shoulder, leaving the other side of her pale neck bare.
Jamie wanted to sink his teeth into her unmarked skin.
The humidity from outside hadn’t touched Miss Beauchamp’s hair. The 1940s curls were still as glossy and pinned in place as they had always been.
Leaning in, Jamie touched his nose to the Sassenach’s neck, the space behind her ear. He’d expected to smell her perfume, that combination of chamomile and vanilla, which had driven him mad, but Jamie couldn’t smell anything. Not her perfume, not her body wash, not the hairspray, which most certainly should be holding the strands in place… Jamie couldn’t smell any of it. Even the scent of the horse’s stables, that warm, earthy scent, had disappeared.
Disappointment set in, hard and fast. He wanted to be able to smell her, hear her post English voice whisper his name once more. But Miss Beauchamp didn’t do any of the sort, not even her eyes would catch his. The warmth of her body has slowly been dissipating bit by bit, and Jamie was about to move away, when he noticed her fingers had moved from her hair to the hem of the damned skirt. He watched, transfixed, as her hips shimmied from side to side as she inched the hem up further and further and further.
Jamie realised too late, she was doing it on purpose, the fucking tease. Each shift brushed his crotch, until his cock strained uncomfortable against the zipper of the denim jeans he’d been wearing.
No wonder he was so incredibly hot wearing a pair of jeans in the heat of summer.
In slow motion, Jamie felt his hands move to help her inch the hem up. But his fingers felt like they were floating through molasses. They simply wouldn’t hurry up and meet the cotton material.
Hissing through his teeth, Jamie felt so close he could taste it. So close to touching the material, so close to her body, so close to coming in his pants. Just another push or so and…
“Da! Are ye getting up or what?”
For the second time today Jamie was awoken by his terror of a son, gasping for breath. Had he drifted off? Or had his mind simply transported him back to his original dream? Jamie couldn’t tell.
With a smack of his lips, Jamie shouted back down to Willie. “Aye! Won’t be a minute!”
Whether that answer satisfied William or not, Jamie didn’t know. But he no longer heard his son shouting or pottering about, banging things, downstairs.
“Shit.” Jamie muttered out loud into the darkened room.
Desire coursed through his veins. He had a hell of a cockstand, and his heart beat faster than usual. Licking his dry lips, Jamie threw out an arm to the side, grasping his phone sitting on the nightstand with the tips of his fingers. Fingers, which only a moment ago, had been trying to touch an invisible woman.
The blue light from his phone momentarily blinded him before his eyes got used to it, and Jamie could make out the time. Aye, just as expected. Way too early to be wide awake on a Saturday morning.
Jamie wanted nothing more than to have the extra time to deal with his erection in his own time, or, even better, turn around and have Miss Beauchamp in his bed, staring sleepily back at him.
But, quite clearly, neither of those things were going to happen.
With a large amount of effort, more than it usually took, even if he was just short of thirty, Jamie forced himself out of bed. His whole body protested, bones cracking as his feet met the floor.
The day had already begun, now it was waiting for Jamie to play catch up. But what a way to start the day, aye? Even if it had been just a dream…
Hours had gone by since Willie had rudely awoken his Da up. Jamie couldn’t blame him; he still remembered how excited he’d been for his own first experience lambing with his own Da. This would be the first year Willie would recall everything.
Stumbling, half awake into the barn, Jamie had seen a crowd of young lads assembled round the poor ewe, chatting about gods knows what. He’d shooed most of them away to take care of the other tasks, knowing it would do no good to spook the expectant mother by hovering all over the place.
While the others had ambled off, Willie had stayed on all fours on the ground, hand gently running down the side of the ewe as her nostrils flared in pain due to the oncoming contraction. Not a moment too soon had Jamie finished up his phone call updating the vet, did he see his Da and Ian walking side by side over the hill. Between the two of them, they seemed to be carrying a number of different items in their arms. Jamie knew from experience they would be the tools and instruments needed to help deliver the lamb, safe and sound.
Now, as the sunset and the clock just ticked past six, Jamie knew they were on the homeward stretch. The other sheep had been penned away, making sure they couldn’t escape and disturb the current lambing. Ian and Jamie had worked together to fork together a large, downy pile of hay, this way making it able for the ewe to lie down comfortably, and not on a solid, cold, concrete floor.
Willie had been given the important job of making sure the tools were ready. On a sterile mat lay a number of elbow length blue gloves, some forceps, a bucket of warm water, and a box of sterile syringes containing a low dose of anesthetic, in case Jamie though the ewe started to become over distressed.
Willie had taken his job seriously, as he should. Making sure the water was warm enough every half an hour and walking back and forth with a brewed kettle, if it was not. And ensuring his Da’s hands were properly cleaned before he checked how dilated the ewe had become.
When he thought he could wait no longer, legs cramping from where he’d been sitting on them and stomach growling, Grandda Brian had leaned over.
“Ye can run over to ye Grannie’s if ye want, lad. I ken she was making dinner for us all to enjoy, but she might have it ready early, if ye ask nicely.”
Willie had looked over at his Da who was sitting patiently beside the ewe. Jamie said nothing, but raised his eyebrow in a silent question.
“Thanks Grandda, but I want to stay. I want to see it. Then we can all go to Grannie’s together.”
Brian clapped him on the shoulder and sent him a beaming smile.
Surprisingly, it didn’t take very long for the lamb to make his way into the world after the two water sacks had burst. Jamie had washed his hands for a final time, choosing to forgo the gloves so he could easily grab a slimy fetlock if needs be. But that wasn’t to be expected. This particular ewe had lambed before; her body knew the process she’d been created for.
A thin foreleg was the first to emerge, quickly followed by the second foreleg. Willie stood at the ready, hand clutching the bottle of iodine, which would be poured onto the cut umbilical cord and help stave off infection. Mother ewe would certainly take care of the rest, as long as she didn’t reject her baby.
The tiny head protruded next, squished up against the front forelegs. From his angle, crouched down on the hay, Jamie could see the lamb was lying on his right side. A soft murmur from Ian, coaxing the ewe on for one final push, and then with a large exhale, the rest of the lamb slithered out.
Silence was palpable in the barn, nobody daring to move, lest their human scent touched the lamb. A mother would only nurse her lamb if it smelt like her. They ran the risk of the ewe rejecting the lamb completely, if it smelt otherwise. The lamb attempted to stand, once then twice, it’s mother had turned its head towards her baby as if coaching him to succeed. But the ewe hadn’t moved from her lying down position, a sure sign another lamb was fast on its way.
Jamie opened his mouth to suggest such a thing, but couldn’t get the words out fast enough, for another huffed exhaled and a third foreleg was emerging. While Jamie stayed concentrating on safely delivering the second lamb, and Ian kept the ewe calm, Brian knelt on the floor, showing Willie the steps of cutting the umbilical cord and where exactly to the spray the iodine.
The first baby lamb was standing by now, on shaky legs, yes, but still standing. Thankfully, the ewe had taken to her baby, tongue lolling out to clean him.
“It’s stuck,” Jamie spoke, his voice loud sounding over the quiet barn. The air was thick with the sharp tang of coppery blood and birthing delivery.
He waited for no reply, but dunked his hands up to his elbows in the water once more. The vaginal canal expanded as the ewe groaned low in her throat, enough for Jamie to wiggle his one hand inside, and the other on her leg to steady himself. It was certainly wet, warm and pulsing. Closing his eyes, Jamie imaged the cervix contracting and dilating, the helpless lamb being pushed down out of the womb. He could feel a knobbly knee, and then another. And further downwards, back towards the entrance, a solid roundness, which could only be the lamb’s chest.
“Need help, son?” Brian asked, but Jamie didn’t open his eyes. He simply shook his head, grasping onto a fetlock and giving a slight tug. Both the lamb and the ewe seemed to get the message. Three more strong pushes, Jamie felt the vaginal walls clamping around his upper arm before the second lamb entered into the world in a much more boisterous fashion than his brother.
“Good on ye, Jamie.” Brian clapped him on the foot (the only place he could reach as he still knelt on the floor). Sending his Da and his son a tired smile, Jamie sponged off the rest of the blood, as the second umbilical cord was snipped.
Everybody breathed another sigh of relief, as the mother ewe began to wash her second lamb. Ian had assured the colostrum was beginning to leak from the ewe’s engorged udders. Both lambs were sucking away happily, and mother seemed happy enough for them to fill up their tummies till their little hearts were content.
“Did everything go all right?” Jenny asked, setting down a glass of cold water in front of Willie, and hurrying to uncork a bottle of fine aged whisky. As she leaned over Jamie, pouring a couple inches of the golden liquid into his glass, he could feel the hard roundness of a three month old baby bump pressing against his forearm. The nighttime baby wash she’d washed Wee Jamie in earlier in the evening, still clung to her skin and clothes.
She smelt like home.
Reaching out, Jamie cupped her small bump hidden beneath her cosy knit jumper. Even now, with Wee Jamie sleeping peacefully upstairs, and his own son sitting across from him, Jamie still couldn’t believe an actual human life beat just underneath Jenny’s thin layer of skin and tissue.
Geneva had never wanted Jamie to touch her or the proof of their growing son – it was something to this day he’d never quite gotten over. He wasn’t sure he ever would.
Knowing his own emotions better than he knew them himself, as Jenny did for her younger brother, she lay her hand upon his, smiling warmly at him. It was a silence reassurance, one that Jamie hadn’t known he’d needed quite so badly. He wasn’t there anymore, stuck in that dire situation. His son sat whole and loved before him, thankfully none the wiser.
“Aye, it all went braw,” Brian answered, sitting at the head of the table and polishing off dinner. “Second lamb got a wee bit stuck, but our Jamie managed to help it out.”
“Ye can have a second helping of dessert then,” Ellen promised him. “For all ye hard work, sweetheart.”
“The real star of the show was our Willie here,” Brian continued. “Couldn’t of done it with ye, laddie.”
From across the table, Jamie could see his son preen with the compliment from his Grandda. But Da been right, Willie had done amazing, especially with it being his first time. No screaming, squealing, or fainting at the sight of so much blood. Jamie could remember being violently sick in the corner of the stables at his first lambing at just the tender age of 8.
Ellen did indeed bring an extra helping of dessert for both her son and her eldest grandchild. They ate mainly in silence for the rest of the meal, too tired to even open their mouths and talk. Willie’s eyes grew heavy, his blinks becoming slower and longer with each passing minute.
“I’ve set ye some clean pajamas on ye bed,” Grannie said, holding her hand out for his empty, but dirty, plate. “Thought ye and ye Da might be too tired to walk home tonight.”
“Aye, we’ll stay,” Jamie said. “As long as ye don’t mind, Mam.”
“Mind? Ye ken fine well ye Da and I don’t mind. In fact, this hoose is too empty without any of ye’s in it. I’ve already told Jenny she needs to start giving me more grandbairns – I’m got more than enough room and love to spoil them. The same goes for ye, Jamie.”
All Jamie could do was laugh into his last sip of whisky.
More grandbabies, indeed…
“I’d have to find a lass for that first, Mam.”
“Up ye go, Willie,” she prompted, watching as a weary Willie dragged his feet up the stairs. He hadn’t even the energy to dole out a goodnight kiss and hug to anybody.
“I’ll be up in a minute, lad, to tuck ye in,” Jamie promised, but Willie showed no signed he’d even heard his Da as he turned into the corridors upstairs.
“Anyway, as I was saying,” Ellen started again. “Ye’re right, ye do need to find a lass. And I’m sorry to tell ye, but ye aren’t getting any younger, Jamie.”
“Aye, I ken.” The glass made a dull thump as it was placed upon the table runner. “I see it in my face every time I look in the mirror and I feel it in my body every time I move.”
“See,” Ellen hummed. “And so what are ye gonnae do aboot it?”
“Right now, Mam? Nothing. I’m going upstairs to tuck my son in, and I’m falling right asleep. Ye can focus on the grandbairn already growing in Janet’s tummy.”
Seeing she was getting nowhere, Ellen let the matter drop… for now. Jamie placed a kiss on the cheek of his Mam and Da - Jenny and Ian, having retired to bed only twenty minutes or so earlier.
His steps felt heavy, legs aching from the bottom of his shins to the tops of his hips sockets. The door to Willie’s room lay open, ajar, enough for Jamie to slip through. Clean pajamas on and teeth washed, Willie had tucked himself into bed, eyes already closed and breathing becoming steadier. He turned his head against his pillow at the sound of his Da’s sure footsteps.
Kneeling down, grimacing while he did so, Jamie smoothed back the hair from Willie’s face and pressed a kiss to his forehead. The scent of hay still sat in his hair, but at least his skin smelt warm and homely.
“Ye did well today, son, really well. I’m proud of ye.”
A sleepy smile etched itself onto Willie’s face. He cracked open his eyes a sliver to see the shadow of his Da’s figure, before whispering, “Thanks, Da.”
“Get a good night’s rest and I’ll see ye in the morning. Grannie might even make pancakes. Love ye, Willie.”
“Love ye more, Da. Goodnight.”