“I think he knows. I’m pretty sure he knows. Do you think he knows?” I asked nervously, chewing on my nails as John ordered our drinks from the clearly listening, and definitely judging me, waiter.
“He knows, I know, even the guy in the office next door with no idea who you are, knows. We all know.”
“Is it that obvious?” I groaned, burying my face into my lap and collapsing into a crumpled heap in my chair.
“Yes... yes, it really is. And all I can say is thank god you don’t have a penis. Your constant, massive erection would be very off-putting. I don’t know why you don’t just go up, introduce yourself, then climb onto his lap.”
“John!” I said, slapping his hand and trying with all my might not to laugh. I refused to give him the satisfaction. “I’m serious. You don’t get it. I would be judged differently for dating a co-worker than you or anyone else would.” He tilted his head and raised his brows, in a way that spared him the need to say, ‘really?’. “Well, maybe not you,” I continued, getting a nod of approval for my correction.
The waiter returned with our drinks—our weekly Monday Margaritas—and we slowly sipped and sighed as the smooth, fruity flavours hit the spot.
“All jokes aside, Claire, you deserve to be happy, and he’s a really nice guy, which you’d know if you would actually speak to him.”
“I have spoken to him!” I protested, almost spraying him with my drink.
“Asking him for the time, then running away faster than Usain Bolt is hardly talking. I’ve had longer conversations with that weird cat lady that lives next door.”
“Damn it, John! I promise I will talk to him at some point, but I have to build up my nerve. He’s just so gorgeous, totally out of my league, and I don’t know what to say. I mean, why would he be interested in someone like me?”
It was John’s turn to spray alcohol across the table, and he choked and spluttered, holding up his hand requesting silence while he recovered.
“Someone like you?” he scoffed once composed. “Beauchamp, you are fucking gorgeous, utterly brilliant and the sweetest, strongest person I have ever met. You are totally in his league. If anything, you are the higher-ranked and if I had the slightest interest in people with breasts, I’d be all over you like a rash.”
“I thought you liked breasts?” I teased, my tongue wedged firmly between my lips. “What about John Quincy?”
“Ha, ha, very funny. You know I’m a sucker for a bear, Claire.”
Controlled chaos greeted me the next morning when I arrived at the office. Our computer system had crashed and in a modern-day architecture firm, this was a disaster. With three pitches for high profile clients today and two later in the week, it was all hands on deck to try and recover what we could.
Luckily, I had backed up my work on the laptop I used at home, and since it wasn’t connected to our office network, I could access all of my work. It appeared at that point, I may have been the only one in this position, as there was more than one senior designer losing their tiny minds and bordering on tears.
Wanting to do what I could to help, I spoke to Ian, our long-haired, wise-cracking IT guy and offered my services.
“Can ye do any work, Claire?” he asked, sweat beading from his brow and his accent even thicker than normal.
“Yes, all my work is safe and backed up,” I replied, my head spinning watching people run around me.
“Then go do it. Ye and one other lad are the only ones who can. If ye can get a presentation together and present it amidst all this, ye’ll be the hero of the day and running the show in a week.” He nodded in the direction of my desk, whistled in a way not dissimilar to a farmer directing a sheepdog, but never once took his eyes from the PC he was working on.
Our senior partner happened to overhear and agreed. Currently, I was the only one anywhere close to being ready to present and so, was ordered to get it ready to go ASAP.
Moving to my desk, I sat and began my work, double and triple-checking that everything was ready to go. As soon as I knew where I stood, I alerted the team I was ready whenever the clients could come in.
Taking a sigh of relief and slightly patting myself on the back, I leaned back in my chair and took a well-earned sip of my coffee. It was then I saw him. Jamie Fraser himself, gliding through the room, cutting through the chaos like Moses parting the seas.
In a plaid shirt and cream chinos that fit him like a glove, he swaggered by me, completely oblivious to the effect he had on my brain, pulse and too many other body parts to mention.
Smiling gorgeously, and greeting those around him, he sat at his desk, leant forward and opened his plantation blinds, flooding his workstation with light.
An audible sigh escaped me as the light reflected his copper and auburn curls, and when he casually ran his hand through his hair, then rubbed his neck and twisted his head side to side, I almost began to drool.
It was at that moment he looked my way. His faultless lips—the top, a perfect heart shape, the bottom, plump and full—raised at one corner to a crooked smirk and he nodded, and mouthed ‘hi’.
Screaming internally, I jerked backwards, my eyes bulged and I think I smiled, then spun on my chair, coming face to face with a smug, headshaking John.
“That... was embarrassing.” He said dryly, then sat on my desk facing Jamie, and began elbowing my arm as he spoke.
“Apparently, you two are the only geniuses in this place who haven’t lost all their work. Everyone else is panicked and distracted. It’s perfect timing, Claire. Go and talk to him... now!” He grabbed the back of my chair and attempted to spin me around to face Jamie, but I grabbed hold of the desk and hung on to it for dear life. We must have looked like two kids playing grown-ups at a parent’s desk as we squabbled, slapped and swatted at the hands of each other.
After a few moments of trying, John gave up, calling me freakishly strong while maturely landing one last whack on my arm. Much to my horror, he walked straight over to Jamie, smirking at me over his shoulder every few steps, then pulled up a seat beside him and began to talk.
With my head buried into my screen and my back to them, I watched their conversation in the reflection of a mirrored photo frame on my desk—one that may or may not have been angled in such a way that I could watch him without anyone noticing. Yes, it was majorly creepy, but desperate times call for desperate measures. And clearly, I was desperate.
John was laughing and talking, then appeared to point straight at me, before Jamie’s head followed. The fact that I was spying on them in a photo frame meant I couldn’t react without giving up my pervy secret, and I wasn’t prepared to do that. I used it way too much to let it go.
So I sat in bated breath, hoping they weren’t talking about me, but also kind of praying that they were.
“Claire!” My boss's stern voice and hand slamming loudly on my desk snapped me back to reality. “Jocasta Cameron will be here in forty-five minutes. Have that presentation ready, sell it to the old bird, and you’ve all but sealed your promotion.”
I had to concentrate. The photo frame was laid upon the desk and my full attention went to my work...for about six and a half minutes.
“Okay, a status update on the king of men,” said John secretively, in an almost whisper as he resumed his seat on my desk. “Not married, no girlfriend, criminally straight. You better lock it down, Claire. He won’t stay single for long, the good ones never do.”
Another stern, disproving look aimed squarely at John and me, left me feeling like a naughty kid busted passing notes in school. Shushing John away despite his protests, I tried to refocus on what would be my priority; work.
Jocasta MacKenzie Cameron. Owner of River Run, one of the largest landowners and farmers in Scotland and a complete Boss. For generations, her late husband’s family had lived in an impressive homestead on Edinburgh’s outskirts. But with the city limits spreading, and no children of her own to take on the family business, Jocasta was downsizing. Much of her land had been sold off to land developers or mass growers, but the prime riverfront land she owned had been retained for her new home. A home I wanted to design.
It was a multi-million dollar project our small firm had somehow been asked to consult on—I and one other architect had been asked to submit designs. I didn’t know who the other was and I didn’t ask, though I did know it wasn’t John. I couldn’t worry about what anyone else was doing, how much experience they had or who they knew. All I could do was my best, and hope it was good enough.
Finishing my work just as she waltzed in the room, she approached my desk and I stood to greet her, my hand outstretched ready to shake her hand, but she walked straight by me and straight to Jamie’s desk.
“Auntie, ye made it,” he said, hugging her warmly and receiving multiple kisses to his cheeks the moment their embrace was over.
“Auntie?” said Ian, the IT guy, who had appeared from nowhere and was now standing oddly close by my side. “Ye’re fucked...Also, the conference room is set up, ye just have tae plug in yer laptop. Good luck though.”
On waking this morning, I had no idea I would be standing in front of three founding partners of my firm, a major, potentially career-changing client, and her nephew, the most beautiful man on the planet/ my constant obsession/ my coworker. If I had I may not have worn ruby red flats, and a cute but non-corporate Sunshine yellow dress. But I was and had to make the best of what was an extremely uncomfortable situation.
My presentation went perfectly; Jocasta seemed to love my designs, the partners were thrilled with her reaction, and I was thrilled with the fact I had managed to avoid Jamie’s devastatingly blue eyes the entire time. Though I did watch him, sneaking glances at every opportunity. He watched me silently, stroking the scruff on his chin as I spoke with a look I would almost call, quiet admiration.
I was invited to stay for his presentation, but by the time I had completed mine, it was three p.m. and time for me to leave for the day. Taking the chance to shake hands with everyone as I left, Jamie was the last hand I touched before I walked out the door.
From the outside, there may have been nothing remarkable, or noticeably different in this handshake to all those that preceded it. But to me, I felt like everything stopped the moment his skin made contact with mine. My heart raced, adrenaline surged and my knees buckled beneath me. It was just Jamie and me in that room. And when after three, maybe four heartbeats, the contact between us was broken, I knew my life may never be the same, and I instantly feared I would walk from that room and never feel the same way again.
I was most inelegantly spun around on my toes—almost falling sideways—until I stood face to face with none other than Jamie Fraser.
Bless my soul. He is gorgeous
I am blown away by the response to chapter one! Thank you so much.
To celebrate, here is a surprise release of chapter 2.
It's a quick one, but I hope you enjoy it.
Weeks passed, seasons changed, the earth continued to revolve around the sun, while I continued my silent pining over Jamie.
Daydreaming over his biceps had been a pleasant distraction from the actual work part of work. Jocasta Cameron had decided to travel to France for the summer, as one does with millions in the bank and a home in Nice. Apparently, she left on a whim and without deciding on her preferred design. Never one to give up easily, I continued working on her project whenever I got the chance, refining ideas and offering multitudes of variations.
I had been working from home two days a week for family reasons, but the timing had proved to be perfect. The recent decision by Jamie to cycle to work on sunny mornings had proved impossible to ignore, and the sight of him strutting through the office in his biking gear was too much to take.
I’d hoped being away from him may assist to break the back of my crush and let me move on after all but deciding, much to John's disgust, that I would do nothing with my feelings for Jamie; except continue having them.
Refusing to let myself be distracted from my plan of global architectural domination—well, Edinburgh at least—I knew a fling with the hot guy at work was not the way I was going to get there. But if anything, my part-time absence from his blue eyes and fiery locks had intensified their appeal.
I found myself missing a man I’d not spoken to; wondering what he was wearing that day, what he had for lunch or if he noticed I was gone. Sitting at my desk, staring out into my back garden, I could fantasise for hours over our first real touch, our first kiss. Inventing multitudes of ways he would ask me out, make the first move. How when he drove me home and came inside, his hand might slide under my shirt, his thumb caressing the flesh of my stomach, quivering at his touch. Then how he might taste, and of course, make love.
And when I had a text from John one afternoon, reminding me about our Monday Margherita date that night, and excitedly proclaiming in all caps—then sending me a blurred, stealth photo as evidence—that Jamie was wearing a man bun, I knew I had no chance of dismissing what I felt.
After slothing around the house in oily hair and baggy sweats, I decided to glam up for the evening. Finishing my work early and organising the house, I took a long, wine-infused bath, painted my nails—toes included—straightened my hair and swept it into a high, tight bun, and threw on the slinkiest, strappiest, naughtiest dress in my closet. Topped off with black stilettos and a bright red lip, I felt like a boss and looked like it too.
Greeted by my exposed thigh and polished red nails when he climbed into the cab, John's eyes lit up with mischief.
“Beauchamp, stunning as always.”
Part of the reason why we started our unorthodox, fortnightly Monday night drinks tradition, was the relative quietness of Monday evenings in our favourite bar. But thanks to the unheard-of Scottish heatwave, the bar was packed. Luckily John's friend, and secret crush of his own, Jeremy Foster, was the owner and had saved us our favourite table by the window.
Exchanging major sex eyes as he escorted us to our table, he pulled out John’s seat, then winked before he walked away.
“Don’t you ever give me shit about lusting over Jamie in secret again. You two have it so bad for each other,” I scoffed.
“Secrets over. I’ve been seeing him for two weeks. I didn’t want to say anything and jinx it, but he’s amazing, Claire. I am in deep.”
I could see by the smile, not only in his lips but the one shining brightly in his eyes, that he was as he said, in deep. And I was excited and squeezed his hand, squealing with glee. We left our coats at the table and made our way to the bar to order two extra-large, extra boozy drinks. But a tiny part of me was jealous, not of John seeing someone, but that he was keen on someone and had the courage to do something about it.
“Jamie asked me where you were today,” he said, one eye on me, one on Jeremy's arse, as he carried a tray of drinks out from behind the crowded bar.
“I can read you like a book, Claire,” he yelled right into my ear. “You can do it too, ask Jamie out I mean. I know things are more complicated for you, but you can’t use it as an excuse forever. You have to put that lovely round arse out there.” He nodded approvingly toward said arse, before carrying our drinks back towards our table.
Laughing as I slapped him across the back of his head and gave my booty a little shake, he quickly leaned into me and kissed my cheek. “He’s been here for six months, you’ve waited long enough. You need to talk to him, and here’s your chance.”
Before I knew what was happening, two chilled, salt-rimmed margarita glasses were shoved into my hands and I was most inelegantly spun around on my toes—almost falling sideways—until I stood face to face with none other than Jamie Fraser. Bless my soul. He is gorgeous.
“Perfect timing, Jamie,” John said, pushing me closer again to the stunning redhead standing like a god before me. “We were just about to sit down and have a drink, but I’ve been called back to work. Why don’t you have mine and take a seat with Claire?”
John’s rough handling of me continued. This time, he firmly pushed me back into my chair by the shoulders, grabbed one of the glasses from my hand, and sat it on the table in front of the empty chair opposite me.
I watched in stunned, mortified silence as Jamie blushed, but nodded and sat down. His eyes flicked briefly to mine and he smiled but was mostly still looking up at John as they talked. I had no idea what they were saying; he was simply so beautiful that I couldn’t concentrate. Coordinating listening, looking and breathing at the same time seemed impossible.
Sitting so close to this man brought me a whole new level of appreciation for his size. He was massive, gotta be six foot three or six foot four, and happened to be the owner of the deepest ocean blue eyes I have ever seen. In the one and only interaction I had enjoyed with Jamie, I feared I would drown, be lost forever in his gaze and had to hold on to the closest door frame for support.
Remembering that feeling, I tried hard not to look directly at him, but I couldn’t help it. He has that boyish cheekiness I love in men. His broad, crooked smile could light up the whole city. And his body, bloody hell, the hours of work time I had lost, wasted just picturing what’s hidden under that perfectly fitting white shirt.
“Claire...Claire...Beauchamp!” yelled John, poking me in the side with his index finger. He was determined to embarrass me, the bastard.
“Yes, yes, what? Why are you poking me?” I whined like a child, slapping his hand away and trying not to notice Jamie laughing.
“I said, maybe you and Jamie could split a cab home. He lives on 16th Ave too, only a block away, fancy that.”
“Well, I’ll drive ye home actually, I have my car here. I needed tae drop off my— ahh... needed tae drop off something this morning. I’d be happy tae give ye a ride, Claire.” He nodded as he spoke, his eyebrows raised in a way that seemed almost like they were imploring me to stay and accept the offer. And how could I say no, hearing him say my name had my heart skipping beats and despite myself, I looked directly at him and said yes.
“Brilliant,” said John, again slapping my shoulder to emphasise his joy. He bent down and gave me a kiss on the cheek, leant across the table and shook Jamie’s hand, then winked at me and bolted for the door.
There was only one problem with my relationship with Claire Beauchamp…I didn’t have one. That, and I’m pretty sure she hates me.
Wow, thank you so much for the response to chapters 1 and 2.
I am so thankful, it's overwhelming.
From here on in, chapters will be released weekly, Sunday evening Australia time/Sunday morning US time.
I hope you enjoy chapter 3.
I sit at my desk staring at the reflection on the iPad I never use, but will never remove. I keep it there, in a prime position because it’s angled in a certain way that enables me to watch her without anybody knowing. Well, I don’t think anyone knows.
She’s talented, intelligent and truly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
Depending on the day, she would either stroll, amble or burst into the office; her hair could be neatly pinned back, loose in tight corkscrews, loose beachy waves, dead straight, or a combination of all three. You could always tell when she was running late because her wild, carefree curls would fall in every direction over her face, highlighting her perfect, rosy apple cheeks and golden honey eyes...this look is always my favourite.
She drank way too much coffee, ate far too many doughnuts and I had overheard her several times joking about never working out.
God himself had blessed her with the most amazing body. It was truly unbelievable; such a lovely round arse that has never been seen. It was a thing of beauty, one of the seven wonders of the world.
Her laugh was like sunshine to my day, cutting through the thick, ever present Scottish clouds to warm my heart, and made me laugh in turn every time I heard it.
There was only one problem with my relationship with Claire Beauchamp…I didn’t have one. That, and I’m pretty sure she hates me.
I felt like a complete dork around her, second-guessing everything I did, wore and said. The harder I tried, the more she ignored me, and I’m pretty sure I had begun to reek of desperation.
I tried to initiate a conversation with her every day in the four months I’d been at the firm, but each time I approached her, she would turn, walk, run or sprint the other way.
On what had become my favourite day ever at work, she walked up to my desk, slowly raised those beautiful eyes to mine, opened her plump, polished lips, then bolted to the toilets. It was the closest thing I had to a conversation, and the fact I treasured it so much was truly pathetic.
I’m not sure what I did to upset or offend her, but for whatever reason, it seems she can’t stand to be around me.
Seeking any kind of explanation that wasn’t my appalling bad breath, BO, or another of the worst-case scenarios my brain could come up with, I had sought the counsel of her best friend and our colleague, John.
With kindness and an unexpected amount of hugging, he assured me that I didn’t stink, my breath was minty fresh and she definitely didn’t hate me. It may, in fact, be quite the opposite.
“She’s a good one, the best, but a tough nut to crack. Trust me, if you persevere, she’ll come around.” I’d begun to walk away, but John wasn’t finished, grabbing me on the arm and pulling me in close. “Never give up,” he whispered, “and if you are lucky enough to get the chance, you better lock it down, Jamie. She won’t stay single for long, the good ones never do.”
Bless my soul, I pray he’s right, only time will tell. In the meantime, I’ll do as John advised. I won’t give up, I’ll persist and remain thankful for my morning glimpses and iPad reflections.
Day by day, week by week, my crush intensified, becoming completely mesmerised by a woman I’d barely spoken to. In a bid to learn more about her, I studied her art—her designs. Finding inspiration in her style, I was desperate to not only date, touch and kiss her, but one day, design a home with her.
When my Aunt Jocasta asked me to design her dream house, I was excited by the opportunity and honoured she would entrust it to me. But as we sat down and went through her vision, it was not me I saw bringing it to life, it was Claire.
Her work, her talent, could make this house a home, and I begged Jocasta to let Claire make a pitch. She was hesitant at first, but once she’d seen some of Claire’s work, she was all in. The only thing I requested was that Claire did not know I had made the request. It was between us and the senior partners.
In the lead up to the pitch, I began to notice an increase in Claire looking at me, and it led me to hope as I never had before that she may be interested. One particular day, I could feel her eyes burning into my back and decided to try and interact.
I spun my chair, smiled my most charming smile, and mouthed a hello. To say her reaction was negative would be the understatement of the decade.
Her face resembled my sister Jenny’s when changing the nappy on one of the bairns after a poo explosion; disgust, vomit-inducing disgust.
It didn’t exactly fill me with hope.
But still, the mutual checking out continued until it reached the point that I was working an hour or more on my free nights to make up for the time I’d wasted, lost in the bubble of Claire. If she wasn’t so fucking adorable, I’d resent her.
Pitch day for Jocasta arrived earlier than I’d expected, but luckily I was prepared. A network, software, IT nerd issue had caused mayhem at work. It was more than bad timing. For a young up and coming firm, this week was our Olympics. We had three major clients to pitch for and no PCs meant no work to show them.
Luckily I had backed up my work, not only on a laptop but by hand. Every design I made had an old school hand drawn back up too. I loved the feel of the pencil between my fingers, and the fresh crisp paper beneath my hands. The smell of the sharpened lead brought back fond memories of my childhood at Lallybroch, sketching the land and people I loved. The ache I would feel in my back, shoulders and hands after hours spent hunched over my beloved drafting table was somehow gratifying.
Claire too proved prepared for such an emergency and was ready to go. Jocasta happened to be in town and was able—with a little convincing from her favourite nephew—to make it into the office that day.
To the casual observer, Claire would have appeared completely under control as she finalised her work, but to the ardent, committed admirer such as myself, the naturally rosy glow in her cheeks had intensified and I watched in admiration as she took the sudden change in her stride. She was frazzled but determined not to let it show.
Butterflies the size of albatross besieged my belly, but it was not my work or my aunt’s reaction to it that had invited them. It was Claire. I’d spoken to my aunt, begged her not to say anything to anyone about our relationship, but she was a Mackenzie after all. Subtlety and discretion was not a family trait
Ultimately, I had nothing to worry about but my own mouth. “Auntie, ye made it,” I said, hugging her warmly and receiving multiple kisses to my cheeks as I screamed at myself internally. “I thought it was a secret,” she whispered in my ear as the last kiss was planted.
“Aye, so did I,” I said, shaking my head and watching Claire’s reaction. My blurted out greeting had surprised her, but as she had done earlier, she handled the revelation with the utmost grace and composure. Ian, the IT guy, seemed to take it harder than anyone.
Claire had earlier asked to present first, and when I escorted Jocasta into the conference room, she was all set up and ready to go with multi-screen displays and 4D models.
Nothing could have prepared me for her performance, nothing could dampen her talent. Looking gorgeous and sweet as always, confidence oozed from her, but the way she kept shuffling and hiding her feet and nervously tugging at her dress, she may not have been completely comfortable in her casual attire. I don’t know why, because honestly, she could have been up there in a string bikini and I would have still been focused on her work...and that was really saying something.
She was brilliant, and as much as I loved what I had designed, I wanted Claire to get the job.
The highlight of my day though was the handshake we shared as she floated from the room. Nothing could have prepared me for the physical reaction that occurred when her soft wee hand touched mine. I wanted her as I had never wanted anything in my life, and as soon as I had finished my presentation, and kissed my aunt goodbye, I ran to John, falling over several indoor plants in the process and landing face-first at his feet.
“Can I help you with something?” He smirked as he peered down at me, trying hard to suppress his giggles.
“I need ye tae set me up with Claire.”
My eyes were trained on his hand, obsessed with the way his fingers wrapped around the frosted cold glass, tapping it, clenching it tightly. It was the sexiest thing I’d seen in months, and my mind wandered to dangerous places.
Thumping bass lines, glasses clinking, and drunken laughter and conversation surrounded us, but Jamie and I sat in awkward silence. I desperately wanted to say something clever and witty but could think of nothing. It was ridiculous. I am a highly educated woman, I worked my way up the ladder in my male-dominated architectural firm and was about to become a practising partner. But in the presence of this man, I was like a giggling, hormonal seventeen-year-old girl.
Plus, my brain was consumed by the sight of him. My eyes were trained on his hand, obsessed with the way his fingers wrapped around the frosted cold glass, tapping it, clenching it tightly. It was the sexiest thing I’d seen in months, and my mind wandered to dangerous places. It was now my waist his hand was gripping, his thumb stroking the silk of my dress, slowly gathering it between his fingers...
“Claire, do ye want tae get something tae eat? They do great tapas here,” he said, in a tone that made me think he’d said it more than once without response. I wanted to reply, but the only thought in my head though was the way he said ‘tapas’ and how I could get him to say it again.
Tapas, tapas, tap ass, tap my ass...Oh my god, I’ve lost it.
The look of amusement and mirth he gave me prompted an illogical fear that he may be a mind reader, as well as the hottest new architect in Edinburgh.
“Tapas,” I said cautiously, “sounds terrific.” Well done, Beauchamp. Three whole words.
He clicked his fingers to get the waiter's attention and proceeded to rub them back and forth through the scruff of his chin as he questioned the best wine to match our food. I was one second from leaping across the table and tearing his clothes off when again, he seemed to know. He looked at me, half smirking, eye squinting, then cocked his brow and put the menu down on the table.
“Did ye notice the scars?” he asked, holding his left hand in the air and wriggling his fingers.
“Scars?” I said.
“Aye, the scars on my fingers. I noticed ye keep looking at my hand.”
“Oh, yes, the scars.” I lied. I hadn’t noticed them at all, but it was a handy cover for my obviousness. “What happened there? Architecture is not normally scar producing, not physically anyway.” Now that I looked, I could see his index, middle and ring finger all carried long vertical scars their entire length. They weren't fresh wounds, I could see that, but they were heavy and deep, and I was starting to get curious as to how he had acquired them.
“When I was a lad, I wanted tae build a new stable for my horse, Sleepy, on our farm. I was obsessed with form and design even then and had spent hours designing a state of the art stall. So while I was handy with a pencil, I was unfortunately clumsy with the equipment. Cutting the wood with Da, I sneezed and slipped. My hand ran straight into the bench saw. Damn things ate through my fingers and the more I struggled the worse it got. Anyway, about ten surgeries later, they repaired the damage for the most part, and I got these lovely reminders—not tae sneeze when using power tools.”
“Bloody hell, that must have been agony. How old were you?”
“Twelve, almost thirteen. And it was agony, for a long time too, but I got through it and got lots of attention from all the pretty nurses. And that's never a bad thing for a young burke.”
We both laughed, watching the other the whole time, both ending our chuckling with a sigh, then a long-held, nervous but not at all awkward smile.
“Ye have a beautiful laugh, Claire. ‘Tis nice tae hear it up close. I’m normally on the other side of the office looking over at ye.” Oh God, is he flirting?
His embarrassment at his words was immediate and obvious. He took a long, sustained gulp of his drink, almost finishing the whole thing.
“You look over at me?” I smiled, blushing with equal force and tucking my hair behind my ear.
“Aye, ye ken I do. I saw ye looking at me too.”
“What...? I...I am just looking out your window... At the—”
“At the red brick wall I look out upon?” he smirked, “Aye, ‘tis a verra nice wall.”
“And I am an architect. I appreciate a good erection...Building, I mean, a wall, it's a wall...oh god.”
As Jamie nearly wet himself laughing, I was contemplating running from the table, quitting my job and leaving Scotland forever. Half crying, half laughing, I sat with my hands covering the back of my head, my face was planted into the table.
Taking pity on me, he smoothly changed tacks. “Ye can’t have been at the firm long? I couldna believe it when I found out ye were one of the senior designers. Ye dinna seem old enough.”
“Since I graduated, so just two years, but I’ve worked hard, had some luck. One of the first houses I did was nominated for a design award, so I used it as leverage to promote myself, I guess you could say. If they wanted to have me, they had to pay for me… god, that sounds so conceited.”
“Nae, no’ conceited at all. If ye were a man, no one would think anything of it. It would be considered a power move.”
“Yes, Jesus. You’re so right. If only you heard how many people suggested I slept my way ahead. It’s nice to hear a guy say that.”
“Well, my mam was head of obstetrics at Queen Mary’s, my sister runs our family business, and ye met my Aunt Jocasta. I admire a strong woman who kens what she wants.” The intensity in his gaze caught me off guard and I was intrigued and encouraged to see the increase in the rise and fall of his chest and the pace at which his fingers stroked his glass.
“It’s an admirable but extremely rare quality, Jamie,” I said, as I sipped from my drink and reminded myself to breathe. “Not a lot of men, especially men of your age, think that way. I’m not the meek and obedient type, it puts a lot of people off.”
“Only fools that dinna ken what they’re missing out on. I like a woman with a bit of spirit and fight in her. ‘Tis more fun that way... keeps me on my toes.”
Ok, he’s flirting for sure.
Again, a long-held tension fuelled gaze transpired, and I noticed that at some point during the conversation, his chair had slid considerably closer and he was almost sitting by my side, our thighs dangerously close to touching.
“Can I get ye another drink, Sassenach?” He asked, his fingers lightly grazing over mine, setting my soul ablaze.
“Yes, anything,” I whispered, too occupied by the caress of his hand to notice what he had called me.
“Aye, I’ll be right back. Dinna go anywhere.” My mind and body screamed in unison as his fingers slipped from mine. I watched him walk away, chewing my lip as I scanned up and down, side to side over his body, wondering if he knew, could sense what I felt, could feel my eyes burning through him.
My answer came when he turned and caught me admiring his toned, pert arse. Looking very pleased with himself, he winked while wetting his lips, then smiled and turned back to the bar.
Yep, he knows.
Waiting for his return from the bar was like waiting for winter to end. My body was craving the warmth of his eyes, the heat from his touch. The depth of my feelings toward this stunning man hit me and induced what could be considered a mini-breakdown. Things were going too well. He was too sweet and gorgeous, his arse too perfect...basically, he was too good to be true.
My heart began racing and not in a good ‘this sexy guy touched my thigh’ kind of way. When I lost all feeling in my lips and fingertips, I knew I was in trouble. Seventh grade first aid came flying back to me and I pushed out my chair and dropped my head between my legs, sucking in several slow deep breaths.
“Claire. Are ye okay, lass?” he asked. His deep, sexy voice did nothing to help me calm my nerves.
“Yes, yes I’m fine,” I answered, my voice not so sexy and muffled by my thighs. “If you could just leave now, I would very much appreciate it.”
My certainty in his embarrassment over my appearance was the most confident I had been about anything all night. I was sure he was laughing at me, and that he would be gone by the time I lifted my pathetic head. So when I saw him duck down beside me from the corner of my eye, felt one of his hands on my back, and the other on my knee, I was more than pleasantly surprised.
“You’re still here?” I mumbled, my body compulsively leaning into his.
“Aye. So are ye.”
“It’s okay if you want to leave, I can get a cab.” I sobbed.
“Oh, so, ye’re planning on moving at some point then? That’s good, cause I’d like tae take ye somewhere else for our second date. The tapas were a bit dry if ye ask me.”
“Second date?” I squealed, bolting upright and knocking him onto the lovely arse that got me in this position in the first place. He smiled at me from his position on the floor, his almost indigo eyes locked onto mine and I was sure that everyone in the building had to have seen the sparks between us.
“Shit, I’m sorry,” I stutter, giggling as I reach down to help him to his feet.
“Dinna fash, Sassenach. I’ll let ye know tomorrow if I sustained any nasty bruises or scratches. Maybe ye can kiss it better for me.” He winked and that was it.
I fell further under his spell, my crush now a full-blown obsession.
He was funny and intelligent, spoke French and for some reason, Latin, and he loved his mother with all his heart. All night, knees, hands and feet brushed against the others, each ‘accidental’ touch leading to a maddening ache between my legs, and watching him shift uncomfortably in his seat, I think he felt the same.
When the bar staff began vacuuming around our feet at midnight, we took the hint. Ever the gentleman, he pulled out my chair as I stood, and I spotted the not so subtle, not so gentlemanly checkout of my ass, and the bite of his lip in the mirror, as he casually sauntered behind me.
Conversation and laughter flowed freely on the short drive home; for some reason, sitting alone, just him and me, it felt more comfortable, more natural, almost meant to be.
“So, where are we gonna go?” he whispered in the dark as we sat outside my apartment, his hand sitting dangerously high on my thigh.
“Where are we gonna go for what?” I parrotted back, attempting to mock his thick, Highlands accent.
“Aye, ye’re a witty one aren’t ye?” he smirked, eyeing me up and down. “Tomorrow night. Where would ye like tae go?”
“Oh, I don’t remember agreeing to tomorrow night. I’ll check my calendar and have my assistant get back to you. I’m terribly busy and important.” Resisting the magnetic pull to launch across the centre console and drape myself on top of him, I dragged my body away from him and began to climb out of the car.
“Lemme get that fer ye!” He comically almost yelled, rushing from his seat, out of the car and running to hold open my door. The boy was keen.
We stood facing each other on the curb. I wanted to invite him in, but I knew it would lead to where I can't stop, and then, I’ll want to go there every single night.
So I stood on my tippy toes, softly pressed my lips against his cheek and whispered goodnight, then slowly walked away…I made it three steps.
“Bonsoir, Claire Beauchamp,” he said, his already sexy, melodic voice now hitting notes somewhere between killing me and making me want to tear his clothes from his body on the street.
I was pushing him against the car before I even knew my body was turning back and the cocky bastard was waiting with open arms.
My lips crashed into his with a depth of feeling neither of us expected. He moaned my name, increasing my fervour, and when his hands slipped to my shoulders, sliding down my body, my waist then down to cup my arse, I knew this was something different.
My parting lips welcomed the eagerness of his tongue, meeting mine and dancing for dominance before finding a sensual, rolling rhythm.
Feeling his hardness increase and pressing into me buckled my knees, and he pulled me hard against it to anchor me to him.
Up until this point, my arms flopped at my sides like a rag doll, but as the ache between my legs built, months of imagining this moment drove them to take hold of his arse. I squeezed and moulded the object of my affection in my hands and felt by the change in his breathing that he liked it.
We continued to kiss and grind against each other. One of his hands released my cheek, slipped between us, coming to rest on my waist, his fingers stroking against the outline of my hip. He massaged me lightly, drawing helpless whimpers until a passerby called out ‘get a room’.
The spell was broken by our laughter and we broke apart, continuing to pepper each other with kisses and rolling hips.
“I want to invite you in, but I’m not,” I whispered into his ear.
“‘Tis probably for the best,” he replied, kissing the tender flesh of my neck. “If I get ye alone now, ye’d never get me away from yer bed.”
Knowing he knows how I want him, I kissed him softly, then took a bite of his shoulder, rejoicing in the noise it elicits from him. I then pushed off him, shaking my head to release it from its daze and I elegantly stumbled backwards, my legs apparently having forgotten how to walk.
“Bonsoir, Jamie Fraser.” I sighed, delighting in his, ‘Lord, give me strength’ as he watched me walk away.
Only once in my life had I felt like this, been kissed like this and it was also by this man. His lips were soft as a cloud, the smell of his skin set a fire within my soul.
I woke the next morning feeling like I’d slept on a cloud, floating high above the earth with Jamie Fraser holding it up with his massive, lickable arms.
My morning routine was completed without a single logical thought crossing my mind, and I had no idea what I dressed myself in until I floated past a store window and saw my reflection.
Luckily, it was a cute outfit, and yes, I said floated again.
If my feet did happen to touch the ground on my way to work, I was positively unaware. Had any contact been made, I believe it would have been in the form of skipping.
Yes, I would have skipped my way down 16th Avenue like an unhinged child on the world’s biggest sugar rush. Singing Taylor Swift at the top of my lungs, I was entirely oblivious to the outside world, with little or no regard for how many people were avoiding the crazy, singing, skipping woman.
Regrettably, my sweet, serene composure lasted a bitterly short time once I made it to work. Drifting gracefully back down to earth, I landed at my desk expecting a great day but was trampled on instantly.
Sweat pooled in every orifice of my body. My hands, trembling with nervous anticipation, could barely hold on to my desperately needed coffee. If the coffee dropped to the ground, so would I. It was the only thing keeping me functioning.
I wish I had a fun, sexy, Jamie-themed reason for my flustered state, but alas, I had none. It was Jocasta Cameron. She’d called into the office after making a decision on who she wanted to design her home. Thus far, the call had been going for twenty-five minutes and the modern glass-walled office allowed me to view the particular partner, Roger, who had taken the call.
I was unable to read anything from his body language; he had paced around the room several times, stopping to look straight at me and nodding a few times, but he had looked towards Jamie too, so that gave nothing away.
Jamie looked as nervous as I did. In between eyeballing Roger, I’d also kept my eye on Jamie; a tough job, but somebody had to do it. He’d given me the ‘she’s all good’ thumbs up twice, but months of meticulous study meant I knew the tapping of his fingers against his thigh, and the extra heavy-duty chewing of his lip meant he was stressed.
Nothing would have given me more pleasure than to wander over to his desk, straddle his luscious thighs and give us both a fun distraction. I didn’t of course, but I thought about it...a lot.
In reality, our kind-of first date, and the unforgettable first kiss I could still feel—and taste on my lips—was all the distraction I could handle, so I continued working, or giving the appearance of, while I stalked Jamie and Roger.
As the morning proceeded, I honestly felt as though I’d been struck down with some kind of stress and lust-induced stupidity; I spilled my coffee, called Ian the IT guy James three times and walked into the men's loo much to the delight of creepy Gareth. Of course, it had to be him I walked in on.
Around eleven-thirty, I was hunched over my desk, pretending to work while practising my Claire Fraser signature, when something struck me in the back of the head and lodged in my curls. I reached up, felt around, and pulled out a paper plane, the words ‘OPEN ME’ on each wing.
Immediately spinning to face Jamie, he nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders while grinning like a damn fool and watched as I opened the wings.
Inside was a handwritten note accompanied by a sweet and cute caricature of us that had me struggling to stay seated. It was an invitation to a picnic in the tiny courtyard at the rear of our building. One p.m. sharp, underlined at the bottom.
A giddy, swooning, “Yes” was my immediate reply.
The clock struck twelve and like Cinderella, I panicked. With the whole office still sweating over Jocasta’s decision, I worried myself sick that lunch with Jamie may be postponed. I needed to put myself out of my misery. With all of my usual elegance and grace, I spun my chair to go and check and came face to face with his groin.
“We're still on for lunch, right?” He asked, smiling down at me and pursing his lips. He was trying not to laugh but also not moving an inch.
“Yes...yes we are,” I replied matter of factly, looking at my watch, my feet, anywhere but straight ahead. “Do you need me to help you with something?”
“What? Right now?” he whispered, covering his crotch with his hands and bending down closer to my face, “Claire, not here.”
“Very funny.” I looked up to his eyes, full of endearing cheekiness and mischief and slapped him on the leg, “for lunch. Do you need me to help you with anything for lunch?”
“Och, lunch. No, everything is taken care of. All ye need tae bring is yerself.” With a precious two-eyed wink, he wandered back to his desk, spinning in his chair with a mile-wide grin on his face.
It was then I realised, at some point during our highly inappropriate interaction, Roger had escaped his enclave and was nowhere to be seen.
“Damn it!” I yelled at the top of my lungs and slapped my hands on my desk. I turned to Jamie who shrugged, shook his head and walked back towards me.
After a quick look around to see if anyone was looking, he leant down and tucked an errant curl behind my ear; his face was right in front of mine, his lips dangerously close and his eyes darted back and forth between my mouth and eyes.
“Dinna fash, Sassenach. Ye’re brilliant. If anyone here deserves the job, ‘tis ye... See ye at lunch.”
Twelve fifteen....twelve thirty...twelve thirty-nine...for fucks sake, can it be one already!
By the time one p.m. did roll around, I’d completely forgotten about Roger and Jocasta and was focused solely on Jamie and our lunch.
Carrying a large wicker picnic basket and with a tartan blanket tucked under his arm, my date had gone outside fifteen minutes ago, only to return a few moments later to collect another box from the kitchen.
With my curiosity piqued, I raced through the office, running full sprint down the corridor, bursting through the heavy glass doors that led to the large deck that overlooked the courtyard. He heard me, and turned and watched as my wedge heels clunked their way down the black metal staircase.
Muttering ‘don’t fall’ the entire descent, I was gobsmacked at the sight before me when my feet finally landed on the grass.
The flowering magnolia that stood in the centre of the yard was adorned with fairy lights, and beneath it was the plaid picnic rug. Upon that sat a terrified looking but smiling Jamie, the empty basket, a bottle of wine, 2 glasses and what looked like the entire menu of the patisserie next door.
“Hope ye’re hungry, Sassenach.”
“Sassenach…” I smiled as I walked towards him. “I’ve been in Scotland long enough to know what that means, an outsider. Why do you use it as a nickname?”
“Suits ye is all. Kinda rolls off my tongue whenever I’m wit’ ye.” He smirked, winked the cutest owl wink ever to be winked while nodding and wetting hip lips.
Creepily, I stared. He really did have the most beautiful tongue and I was practically gagging for him to say ‘Sassenach’ again to see if it did indeed roll off as he said.
“Even if I was, I couldn’t stay that way after this,” I said, playing it cool. Kneeling by his side, my heart almost pounded through my chest as his hand came to rest on my knee.
Here we were, sitting in the garden at work. Anyone looking out the kitchen window making their coffee or eating their lunch could look down and see us, but it felt like we were alone, in the middle of the forest, amongst a million fireflies.
It was just him and me and it felt like home.
Leaning into his warmth, nuzzling until his arm wrapped around my shoulder, I looked into his eyes and was hardly able to breathe. He felt it too; I couldn’t help but notice the rise and fall of his Adam’s apple and strong, broad chest.
“Claire,” he sighed, edging closer with every fluttered heartbeat.
“I think ye’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. And I dinna ken if ye’ve noticed, but I canna stop looking at ye. I think about ye all the time and, well, I wanna ask ye something.” Edging closer again, our lips were now barely one millimetre apart, “I would very much like tae—”
“Can you do me a favour first?” I said suddenly, breaking the spell he’d cast over me, and causing him to jump in fright.
“Aye,” he laughed, sighing and shaking his head. “Anything. I’ll do anything for ye, lass.”
I threw my arms around his neck and pulled him close. He moaned into my mouth, grabbing me by the waist, pressing himself against me until we were almost laying on the ground. I dropped my elbows behind me, supporting us both to stay upright.
Only once in my life had I felt like this, been kissed like this and it was also by this man. His lips were soft as a cloud, the smell of his skin set a fire within my soul. His tongue, smooth and wet, caressed the edges of my bottom lip, but only until I parted my own slightly. Then, he ventured inside, seeking out my tongue and gently massaging his across it.
I let myself fall against the blanket, and with our lips never parting, he fell on top of me. We both chuckled as my head clunked against the hard ground but neither removed our lips from the other. We stayed that way, just kissing, melting into each other for what felt like forever. Our moment in heaven only stopped when the sounds of shoes on the staircase popped our sublime, two person bubble.
With our eyes not shifting from the other, panting, desperate for air, we separated. He kissed my forehead, nose and each cheek as though performing a sacred prayer, before turning to find his aunt standing at the foot of the stairs.
“I’m sorry tae interrupt yer lunch, a ghràid. I dinna ken, is Claire part of the menu or have I caught ye before ye started?”
Our joint embarrassment was obvious to all. Jamie, being familiar with the wit of his aunt, handled it particularly well. I did not. I giggled like a giddy child and my blush was deeper than the claret waiting to be consumed.
“I wanted tae talk tae ye, Claire, and ask ye tae design the house for me. But I can come back later. ‘Tis much more fun tae kiss each other than tae talk tae an old lady like me. Enjoy yer time together,” she said, as she climbed the stairs. “Oh and Nephew, dinna do anything I wouldna do.” With a cheeky wink, she made it to the deck and walked back inside.
“I got the house!” I squealed, jumping into Jamie’s lap and peppering him with kisses. “I got the bloody house!” It was then I realised that if I got the job, Jamie didn’t. “Shit, Jamie, I didn’t think. I’m sorry.”
“Dinna be sorry, Sassenach. ‘Tis exactly how it should be. Ye’re brilliant, and everyone knows it. Ye deserve this job, no one else could do anything close tae what ye can.”
“Thank you, Jamie. For saying that, and for lunch and just, well, being you. Just promise me you’re okay. I don’t want this to come between us...if there is an us, I mean. Because I know we are two single people—very single in my case—and you’re so gorgeous and we have our own lives and—”
He pulled me into a long, delicious kiss and smiled against my lips. “Oh, there’s an us,” he moaned, kissing me again, “and nothing will come between us... especially since ye think I’m gorgeous.”
After making out for another twenty minutes—most of which was watched by Gareth, the office creep—we ate a tiny portion of the food Jamie had so carefully and beautifully laid out, then packed up and headed inside.
Roger called me into his office immediately and I was on my way when Jamie grabbed my hand and spun me around to face him.
“Can I take ye home tonight, Sassenach?”
“Yes, please. I’d like that very much.” I sighed, desperate to feel his lips on mine again. Then, with the knowledge that the whole office knew exactly what had transpired between Jamie and I, what we were to each other, I pulled him hard against me, kissed the socks off him, then walked into Roger's office feeling like the queen of the world.
Three kilometres, that's how far it is from the office to my apartment. But the rotten Edinburgh traffic ensured it felt like three hundred. I wanted him so badly I could barely sit still. His hand roamed up and down my thigh the entire, torturous, completely silent time we were trapped in his pristine, white Audi. The feel of his nails, slightly digging into my flesh drove me insane and I wondered if he could sense the heat coming from my body.
God wanted Jamie and I to get into my house and tear off each other's clothes as soon as possible. I knew this because there was an empty car park directly in front of my door. I had lived here two years and that had never happened...not once.
When invited in, his reply was in the form of a strangled kind of grunt from deep in the back of his throat, followed by an attempt to get out of the car without removing his seat belt. It broke the ice and we laughed the whole way to the front door.
Jamie followed me in, standing behind me and closing the door as I placed my keys on the side table. The click of the antique brass lever locking into place was like a starters rifle signalling the beginning of a hundred-meter sprint.
We launched ourselves at each other, fiercely tearing at each other's clothes, my hands desperate to feel what lies beneath his shirt. We tripped and fell to the floor, rolling around as we kissed and fumbled around each other's bodies.
“Christ, I’ve wanted ye for sae long, Claire,” he sighed, as he licked and nibbled in the nape of my neck. “I canna believe this is real.”
“Me too.” I echoed his sigh, then dragged him back to my lips, missing them after the briefest of moments away.
He was laying between my legs, his hardness pressing against me. I wanted nothing more than to feel him slide inside and pound me, but I needed to slow down, just a bit. I wanted this to be perfect.
After trying and failing to drag myself away several times, I found the strength to ask him to wait, and he did immediately, perhaps needing a moment or two as well.
Looking thoroughly pleased with himself and our current state of undress, he sat up and leant against the couch. His curls are a gorgeous mess, his cheeks and lips red raw. He nodded, puffing and smiling as I backed away from him on all fours.
“I’ll be right back.” I bit my finger then blew him a kiss as I rose to my feet, and relished the wanting cry and, “Jesus give me strength,” that it drew. I walked into the bathroom, closed the door and fell back against it.
Jesus H Roosevelt Christ! Give me strength indeed.
Laughing when I saw my atrocious state in the mirror, I took a few long deep breaths, washed my face, then ran my wet hands through my curls in a vain attempt to control the uncontrollable.
Rummaging through my vanity drawer for a condom—just in case—I thought I heard the front door shut and quickly popped my head outside. “Jamie?”
After a few moments with no reply, I straightened my clothes and returned to the living room only to find it empty.
“Jamie?” I called, once again to no reply.
It was then I saw it. On the side table by the door, a mirrored photo frame, just like the one on my desk at work, only this one was engraved with the word ‘Mum’ and held a photo of me and my son, Fergus. Instead of standing proudly as always, it was faced down, as was the one beside it, showing me when I was nine months pregnant.
He’d seen the photos and ran.
Perhaps this was my true talent in life, a party trick I could whip out at weddings and 21st birthdays; ‘Hey Claire, pick the one fuck boy out of this crowd of 100... blindfolded’.
My mind was running like a hamster on speed, trapped in a goddamn, never-ending wheel.
Dickheads, jerks and self-absorbed pretty boys. I seemed to not only attract them but be irresistibly drawn to them. Perhaps this was my true talent in life, a party trick I could whip out at weddings and 21st birthdays; ‘Hey Claire, pick the one fuck boy out of this crowd of 100... blindfolded’.
The faces of those who came before Jamie—those that came and went, promising the world to get into my pants then bailed on me once they discovered I had a kid—flashed before my eyes and boiled my blood.
Those twinkling baby blues had done me in. I cannot believe I had allowed myself to fall into the mantrap again. But in Jamie, I believed I’d found someone special, genuine...I thought he was different, thought he actually cared. This one really hurt.
Being the mature, sensible woman I was, I collapsed to the floor, crying like a toddler, harder than I had in years, and feeling dirty, angry and hurt. I released a tantrum, so epic in nature, John Mcenroe himself would be impressed.
My tightly clenched fists smashed into the floor and I screamed, wailed, and swore like an Irish trucker. I stayed that way till I heard it again, the door and its distinct hundred-year-old squeak that I always forgot to oil. But this time, it was opening, not closing, and I held my breath as I saw his worn leather boots approach.
Clutching the frame to my chest, its sharp metal corner stabbed almost poetically into the space of my heart. I sat and continued to weep. The undeniable, all too familiar pain and the sting of rejection still surging through my body.
“Claire, what are ye doing on the floor? I could hear ye screaming outside. Are ye alright?”
I dared not lift my head to the voice that had so captured my heart. I couldn’t bring myself to do it; pure fear stopped me. It was not real, he was not real, this was all in my imagination.
But then I felt his hand caress my shoulder, his finger tenderly brushed the hair from my face, and at that moment, I knew it was real, he was real.
The relief I felt from the fleeting skin on skin contact was too immense to quantify, as was the torturous humiliation over my epic meltdown.
Holy shit, how long has he been there? I’m going to fucking DIE!
“I thought you left,” I whispered, barely able to speak through my persisting sobs and mounting embarrassment.
“I dinna leave ye, Sassenach.” Kneeling down by my side, he continued to run his fingers delicately through my hair. “I went tae get this...from my car.”
He ducked his head lower so his eyes met mine, then wiped the tears from my red, puffy, possibly snot-covered face.
Regardless of my no doubt hideous appearance or mortifying behaviour, he softly kissed my cheeks and smiled. Then, he took my hand and placed it on a cute pink book, featuring a fairy in bright yellow gumboots on the cover.
“Is that yer wee boy?” he asked, nodding to the frame still held tightly in my hands.
“What? My what?” I stuttered, still coming to grips with what Jamie had witnessed.
“The photo in yer hand. Is that yer son?”
“Yes, that’s my son, Fergus,” I replied. “Fergus is my son’s name.” Bravo, you bloody idiot.
“He’s a braw lad, but I hope for yer sake he doesna throw a tantrum like his mam. I wouldna wish that on the devil himself.”
Damn his dimples and those bloody eyes, I want to be angry but his lopsided smile and chuckle are defusing my anger rapidly. Then he went and did it. He blew up my world.
Ever so kindly, Jamie ignored the unblinking, blithering mess staring up at him and nodded toward the book in my hand.
“Have a look, Sassenach.”
“Okay.” With a heavy, steadying sigh and shaking hands, I opened the book. My glassy eyes widening with shock as I gazed upon the cutest, red-haired, blue-eyed, little girl I'd ever seen.
“This is wee Faith, my daughter.” He smiled, sitting down softly on the carpet and wrapping his arm around me. “Isn’t she bonny? She’s six and sae brilliant, and sweet and kind. She was the single best thing that's ever happened tae me, Claire...”
He paused, then with one sentence, changed everything. “But now, she has tae share that title...with ye.”
“You have a daughter?”
Completely stunned, tears of relief, joy and forgiveness fell unrestrained down my face. “You didn’t leave, or run away? You went to get your photo book?” I said, speaking more to myself than him.
“Aye, I dinna leave ye. I could never do that. I am sae...sae—God, I think the world of ye, Sassenach. I thought ye knew.”
“So you don’t mind that I have a son? And that I didn’t tell you?” I asked, my brain floating in a state that could only be described as sad, confused, horniness, struggling to come to terms with what I was hearing.
“Aye, I dinna mind at all. And besides, I can hardly be upset wi’ ye for something I did myself. I understand why ye didna tell me, Claire. Ye needed tae ken ye could trust me. I get it.”
Doing the math as we stared at each other’s babies, I realised that both Jamie and I were kids ourselves when we were blessed with our kids, and it made the bond I felt with him bloom and deepen even more.
I wanted to talk to him about Faith, tell him everything about Fergus, but I also wanted him.
The longer we sat side by side, our breathing became perfectly synchronised. His hand slowly slid from my shoulder, to sit and stroke the small of my back, while his other inched up the inside of my thigh.
“Is Fergus here tonight?” he asked, his voice and eyes darkening.
“No, he’s at his dad’s this week. I'll pick him up on Sunday.”
“Sae, we’re alone then?” he sighed, leaning in, kissing and licking the nape of my neck.
“Mmm, all alone, whatever are we to do?”
Taking me by surprise, he jumped up and said the last thing I expected after what he’d just done to my neck, my pulse and my heart.
“I think ‘tis best if I leave. I understand if ye want tae go slow. I ken it complicates things with the kids involved.”
Scrambling to my feet to stop him from leaving, impulsively, I decided to show him exactly what I wanted.
Before he could react or say anything, I forced him against the wall and resumed where I left off; ripping at his shirt then running my hands up and down his glorious chest and stomach.
“I don’t want you to leave. I want you to fuck me.” I whispered into his ear as I pressed my breasts into him.
“Claire, ‘tis no’ how I planned it. Our first time I mean.”
“You’ve planned it?” Growing bolder but the second, I unzipped his fly and began to rub and stroke his rock hard cock in my hand.
“Oh, aye” With an irritatingly smug but cute smirk spreading across his face, his hips began to roll into mine. “And in meticulous detail too.”
“Tell me.” I purred, licking the spot I'd just discovered beneath his ear. “Tell me what you want to do to me.”
That drove him crazy. His jaw clenched, and his teeth bit into his fleshy bottom lip in an attempt to compose himself. “Nah, ‘tis too embarrassing, ye’ll think I’m an eejit. Why don’t ye tell me what ye want me tae do instead?”
I thrust my hips against him and he pushed back with equal force. “How about this, why don’t I tell you, and you show me?”
“Deal,” he smirked. Placing a hand on either side of my shoulders, he leaned backwards, then, as smooth as Fred Astair, grabbed me by the waist, and dipped me.
"Tell me what ye want, Claire."
Somehow, this man brought out the pure devil that lived deep inside me... and I fucking loved it. Never in my life had I said the kind of things that flew from my mouth over the next few minutes. And truth be known, I’d only scratched the surface of what I’d imagined us doing.
I swallowed heavily, then spoke. He followed keenly and obediently…
“First, you will lay me back, twist my long, messy curls into your hands then cover my breasts, collarbone, and neck with a thousand and one kisses.”
His fingers slipped my shirt off my shoulders, then acted out my words. A new dimension of lust was created the moment his lips connected with the goosebump covered flesh of my breasts, then travelled up and along my collarbone before weaving a twisted, fervid path up my neck.
“Now, place me on the floor, and continue to kiss me.” I was then lowered onto the floor, moaning and signing as he continued to lavish me with kisses.
“I would then tell you to slide my skirt up around my waist, exposing the white lace of my knickers.”
“And yer luscious, curvaceous thighs. Christ... I’ve been dreaming about biting into these for months.” He sighed, wetting his lips and doing just that.
Struggling to continue but desperate not to stop, I squealed my way through the next step. “Maybe then, one lucky hand might slowly pull my underwear down over my hips while the other slips between my legs.”
“Soft, velvety perfectness.” He groaned as his hand caressed my wetness.
I had to laugh as he followed my directions with a deadly serious expression and trembling breath, accompanied by adorable, yet wanton gasps that would change to an oohh, or an ahh with each caress of my body. I felt so in control, but completely vulnerable at the same time.
Jamie then took things into his own hands, well, fingers actually, and I was completely willing to allow him. Stroking back and forth between my slit, he lowered his head and kissed each side of my thighs, then looked up into my eyes.
“I would verra much like tae bury my face inside ye... if that was part of yer plan?”
“Yes! It was next actually...ohhh, fuck...please.” I moaned, ”you may proceed.” With that, I ran my hands through his curls and pushed his face between my legs.
I was completely unprepared for what came next, no further legible words left my mouth. The things this man did to me with this tongue, with his lips, even the tip of his chin, had never been done to any woman anywhere. It was not humanly possible. This could only happen between him...and me.
Instinctively, he found the hidden, sublime parts of me that I didn't even know existed. Secret spots and ways to tickle and tease them, sighing and telling me how good I tasted, how often and where he dreamed of doing this brought on orgasm after orgasm until I begged for him to stop, unable to take any further for fear of spontaneous self-combustion.
I lay against the floor, panting, feeling his kisses travel up my body until we were face to face. Without a word, I pulled him onto my lips, silently thanking him for blowing my mind while tasting myself on his tongue.
While Jamie’s attention moved south again, this time to my ‘perfect breasts’ as he described them, I took a moment to actually breathe and recover. But with the feeling of his hardness pressing against my thigh, my need quickly returned.
I slipped my hand between us, running beneath his toned, hard abs, over the soft tufts of hair, until I reached his impressive, hard cock. I wrapped my fingers around the base and began to make slow, firm strokes.
“Oh God, that feels amazing,” he whined, his head dropped to my shoulder and I began to roll the already wet tip between my fingers.
“I want you, Jamie,” I whispered into his ear as I licked it. “I wanna know your body like it’s mine.”
“Ohh Christ, let me...Claire please, I really wanna fuck ye now.” He begged, almost sounding in pain from his want.
“Do it now, Jamie, and don’t be gentle.”
“Lord, forgive me for I have sinned and am going tae do it again and again,” he prayed through gritted teeth as he put on a condom, pushed my legs apart, teased my entrance then drove inside.
We both released an indescribable sound as he filled me like I'd never known before. He paused, giving me a moment to adjust, taking a moment for himself to feel my tight wetness; but he was unable to resist the need to thrust for long, and once he started, I never wanted him to stop.
I’d asked him not to be gentle, and he listened and honoured my wish. I lay back and let him annihilate me, slamming into me so hard I thought I would shatter while thanking the lord for his fitness.
His eyes only left mine when he closed them briefly as he moaned and sighed, his lips drawn back to mine over and over. Wanting to increase the depth of his movement, he draped my legs across his shoulders and lifted higher onto his knees.
“I have tae slow down.” He moaned after minutes of punishing force and several gravity-defying positions. “I canna take much more. Ye feel sae damn good.”
“Don’t stop, please, don’t stop!” I begged.
The desperation in my voice seemed to inspire and spur him on. I could feel he was losing control, but he grit his teeth and continued to smash against me with an almost violent force.
“Claire, I canna... I canna,” he cried.
“Me too!” I screamed and clawed into his back, an orgasm stronger than before swept through my body. The clenching of my pussy around his cock proved too much. His hips bucked wildly, and I felt the release and relief in his body as he spilled his seed, continuing to move as he came.
He collapsed against my breast, a sweaty, sated mess and I buried my face in his ginger curls.
“I’ll never forget this, Jamie.” I said, kissing the top of his head.
“I’ll never give ye the chance,” was his puffed, exhausted reply.
The pencil I’d been chewing on was bitten in half, a complete mess, as was I. Contemplating how many ways I could have him and how many angles we could make together, entwined over his drafting table, the pencil was discarded and I stalked my prey.
Divulging our children to each other brought our lives and our relationship into a clearer, sharper focus, helping us to understand each other more. Our drive and passion to succeed, and our months-long hesitation in seeking a new romance now made more sense. He now knew why I often left work at three, worked from home part-time on school holidays, and why my beloved Margarita Mondays were fortnightly, not weekly.
The next few days were a dream. Perchance, Jamie and I had the same custody agreement with our exes—one week on, one week off—and coincidentally were home alone all week. This gave us the time we needed and craved to get to know each other better, body and soul.
Our days and nights were spent together talking, laughing and making love. We even took two personal days from work, blessing us with even more time alone.
Truth or dare became our favourite, silly, guilty pleasure in the evenings. Most truths revealed were highly embarrassing, as they should be, and mostly centred around the hours lost pining, daydreaming and fantasizing over the other. We both admitted to relieving the agonising, pent-up sexual frustration by our own hands, and on several occasions, had fun demonstrating how we had done it.
Hearing Jamie confesses his indecent desires, wants and wishes while watching him touch and please himself was intoxicating. Learning what he liked, the firmness of his grip, the pace of his stroke, and how his body moved when under the spell of his own touch killed me.
“I wanna know yer body like it's mine,” he said when it was his turn to watch. With a determined look of titillated concentration, he studied how I positioned my fingers, where I touched, tickled, gripped my inner thighs. He learnt what drove me crazy and had me coming quickly and despite it being against the clearly stated rules, he could never resist joining in.
Jamie was everything I’d imagined and then some in the bedroom, but what I adored was that he was even more so out. His kindness, intelligence, generosity and loving spirit had me falling faster than I could keep up with.
When he spoke of his beautiful girl, the love he felt for her, and our kindred parenting philosophies, my heart was gripped with a sentiment I knew was too soon to express. The best part of it all was, I knew he felt the same, as he took every opportunity to show me.
On what was our last working day before the kids were due home, we’d enjoyed yet another picnic lunch in the courtyard, exposing our British white-ness to the pre-summer sun. He fed me grapes, kissed my cheeks and listened to me talk about absolute rubbish. Our scheduled thirty minutes lunch instead lasted over one and a half hours, so we both stayed back late, working together to finalise Jocasta’s design.
The cleaners were long gone, it was just us; him, me and a romantic glow cast by the neon light from the bar across the street. I’d promised to leave him to his work, no hanky panky, but the light shining brightly before him left me looking at his perfect silhouette. Those arms, the V tapered back, the powerful thighs, how could I leave him alone when he looked like that. It would be a crime against sex itself.
The pencil I’d been chewing on was bitten in half, a complete mess, as was I. Contemplating how many ways I could have him and how many angles we could make together, entwined over his drafting table, the pencil was discarded and I stalked my prey.
I was upon him before he heard me.
“I thought we were working?” he said, breath catching as I ran my hands up and down his back.
“Can’t concentrate, you’re too distracting,” I whispered in his ear before biting and licking the edges. He spun in his chair and had me against the table before I could whisper “fuck me.” as I’d planned.
His need was as urgent as mine, as he ripped open my shirt and greedily devoured my breasts, inciting those wee squeaky noises I knew he loved. My skirt was hitched around my waist and he sighed when he saw the garter and stockings I’d worn just for him, just in case.
Bending and tasting my sex, I then took control, pushing him back into his chair. Turning away from him, I lay over the desk, pushed out my arse, and demanded him to take me now.
The force he entered me, the sound he made, had me coming immediately, and he laughed with a cocky pride as he pulled all the way out and did it again and again, and again. Slapping my arse and pounding me so hard, so punishing, his desk collapsed beneath us,
but we didn’t skip a beat. We continued fucking amongst the ruins of his desk; it would have been laughable if not so devastatingly hot and raw.
“Ye’re fucking amazing. Oh god, I love ye,” he moaned, then stopped immediately, panting and in shock.
“I love you too.” I grabbed his face and kissed him to within an inch of his life as his tears fell between us.
“Stop crying, and fuck me,” I demanded.
Nervous adorable laughter rattled from him as he whispered what sounded like sweet tender Gaelic, while absolutely nailing me; tearing me to shreds, bringing me apart, completely wrecking me for anyone else.
“Oh God, oh Claire,” he moaned as he pulsed inside my still clenching, tight cunt. Promising me forever, he lost all control, coming inside me, claiming me.
As we lay upon the floor, picking splinters from each other’s arses, John called and invited us down to the bar. The lure of strong alcohol on a Friday night was too strong and we told him we would be there asap. But in truth, we arrived an hour and a half later after one more round of crazy, office floor sex, and then cleaning up the mess we’d created.
Sex hair can rarely be hidden or denied when you have a head full of curls, so John took one look at us and knew exactly why we had taken so long to arrive. He said nothing, he didn't have to with the mile-wide smirk plastered across his face.
Jeremy brought us over a round of very large, dangerously potent drinks and joined us at our table. The laughter and alcohol and snogging flowed freely, as did loose lips.
I was telling John about the plans Jocasta had agreed upon, and how I planned to nail the partnership once the job was completed. I was feeling proud; proud of my work, my son and the man who was sitting beside me. Everything was going well, until, after the next round of drinks, John decided to explain to Jeremy about Jamie’s relationship with my client, Jocasta.
“So, Jamie here didn’t tell anyone at the firm that the rich old lady was his Aunt, had even sworn her to secrecy, then he himself blurted out, ‘Hallo Auntie!’ the minute she arrived in the office.”
“Haha, all laugh at the eejit,” laughed Jamie, his cheeks glowing with an adorable blush, intensified by the whisky he moved onto. “All worked out in the end though, hey Claire?”
“Ahh, that's right,” said Jeremy, “I remember now. This house is the one Jamie forfeited to Claire. How noble of you,” he winked.
The atmosphere at the table changed immediately. John began to stammer and stutter, Jamie’s jaw dropped and nearly hit the table, while poor Jeremy sat looking guilty but confused as to why.
“What did you do, Jamie?” I asked, spinning in my chair to face him.
“Nothing! I just told Jocasta tae...well, I dinna tell her, I just advised her, recommended that she choose yer design, is all.”
“You did what?!” I screamed, jumping to my feet and inviting every set of eyes in the building to look upon me. “I got the job because you told her to hire me? What? Was this a pity thing? Or...or a way to get into my pants?”
“Hey, that’s no’ fair,” he protested, rising to stand beside me. He tried to talk, to convince me why he did what he did, but I was too angry to listen. I marched off and locked myself into one of the bloody, awful, single-stall unisex toilets I hated, determined not to let him see me cry. He followed me, begging me to stop and protesting his innocence the whole time.
Once safe from prying eyes, I collapsed against the cold cement wall and broke down. I could see the shadow of his boots beneath the gap in the door and yelled and screamed for him to go away.
“I did it because yer work was best, and ye deserved tae get the job. It was pure admiration for yer work, Sassenach.”
“Oh, I’m sure it was admiration for something, but I dinna think it was my work you were admiring.” I snapped. “I was with a man once before that treated me as a toy, as little more than an object and I refuse to do it again. I am strong and intelligent and talented. I don’t need my boyfriend to set me up with work. I got to where I am by myself and I will get even further by myself.”
“Just go, Jamie. This was a mistake. I should never have become involved with a guy from work. I should have known better.”
“No! I will no’ go. Ye have tae hear me out!”
Unable to withstand any more, I burst through the door, knocking Jamie clean off his feet and sliding against the solid concrete into the wall. Part of me wanted to reach down to check if he was okay and help him but the bigger, angrier, spiteful part found poetic justice in his begging on his arse and scoffed as he hurried to his feet.
With my head held high, more in an attempt to hide my distress than in pride, I marched out, straight past John and Jeremy, through the door and down the street. He followed me, but I refused to turn and acknowledge him. Instead, I stayed silent, listening to his footsteps on the sidewalk.
Just a block away from my destination, panic set in. A lifetime's worth of massive overreactions played in my mind. I’d often catch myself like this, mid implosion, and was usually too invested, embarrassed and stubborn to be able to stop. The embarrassment made me angrier and intensified my reaction until I completely lost it and spiralled into guilt.
Was this such a situation? Was I overreacting?
My thoughts continued and the mission to elude him was aided by my elderly neighbour, Mrs Baird, who grabbed Jamie’s arm as we ran through the lobby of my building. Her key was stuck in her door and apparently, only a big, strong, chuck of a lad like Jamie could help her.
Despite his need to keep up with me, he, of course, was too soft-hearted and kind to ignore an elderly woman asking for help. The delay gave me just enough time to run, get into the elevator and press the door closed button. The last thing I saw as the doors slid shut was his changing direction as he headed for the stairs.
Huffing and puffing, I heard him coming rather than saw him as I turned the key in the lock and quickly slipped inside. For the second time that day, he chased me wholeheartedly until he ran into a door. His body slammed against it and I heard the thump, then the heavy sigh as the wind was knocked from his lungs.
“I swear tae ye, Claire,” he puffed, “with everything I love and hold dear, I recommended yer design. I never told her tae pick yer work. Once ye get tae ken Jocasta, ye will understand, no one tells her what tae do. She is strong and proud and capable, just like ye. And that's exactly what I love about ye. Yer fierce, stubborn independence is the sexiest thing about ye.”
As much as I didn’t want to forgive him, as angry as I wanted to be, I could hear the truth in his words, in his tone.
Silence fell on both sides of the door. The only noise coming from the other side was his heavy breathing and when I looked through the peephole, I could see him leaning up against the hallway wall.
With his voice dripping with sincerity, fear and love, he begged me.
“Ye have tae forgive me. I’ve waited my whole life for ye, Sassenach. This canna be it... it canna end like this.”
“End like this?” I whispered. I knew then, I didn’t want that either.
I thought over our conversations, all the things he'd told me, the things he'd shared. This man was genuine, honest and true. He was like no other that came before him, and I knew, no one after could ever come close...if there was to be an after.
Counting to ten, I hoped my anger would subside and my tears would dry, but neither did, so I counted to twenty, then thirty, then fifty. When I hit sixty, I heard him again, this time a whimper and a sigh and a whisper, “Please.”
Pushing myself off the wall with my raised foot, I stepped to the door, knowing the decision I made could have a lasting impact on my life.
“Claire, lass, I’m sae sorry,” he said as I opened the door and pulled him in, locking it behind him.
“Don’t you ever do anything like that again without consulting me first? Do you understand? Otherwise, I’ll... I’ll—”
“Ye’ll what?” he smirked, seeming to know he had me.
“Well, I was going to say that I would cut out your heart with a knife and eat it for breakfast, but it may be a little extreme. Still...do you hear what I’m saying?”
“I swear, I get it and I willna hurt ye again, Claire.” He took my hand in his, then raised it slowly—possibly wisely after my near death threat—to his lips, brushing them with feather-soft kisses.
I was still angry, but the distress on his face matched the genuineness in his voice and haunting blue eyes. God, he could bend me to his will in a heartbeat when he looked at me like that, standing so close, smelling so good.
A compulsive need to touch him drew my hand from my side, coming to rest upon his chest. The pounding of his heart splinted through me, adrenaline surged and an overwhelming ache quickly built between my legs. He ran his hand through my hair and twisted into the side in his palm.
“I want ye, Claire. Do ye forgive me?”
“Yes. Yes, I forgive you.”
Sliding down my back and over my arse, his hands came to rest just beneath my cheeks. Both moaning ‘I’m sorry’ against each other's lips, we kissed as he pushed me up against the wall.
“Christ, I need ye, lass.” He growled as he fiddled with the fly on his chinos, while I raised my skirt to my waist. Lifting me from my feet, my legs wrapped around his waist before slipping his hard length through my wetness.
“Please, please,” I begged as he drove hard and deep inside me. It was frantic, dirty and fast. The solid wall behind me meant my body took the full impact of every punishing blow. Hard and raw, he pounded me, filling me, hitting my G Spot directly while the way my legs were splay open meant his pelvis ground deliciously against my clit.
Fear and anger pushed our fucking to a whole new level. Jamie continued to smash against me but not for long. My screams for more and harder became a delirious blur as he gave me everything I wanted.
“Oh god,'' he cried out as my body suddenly peaked, clenching tight around him, squeezing him until we both cried out and came together, holding onto each other tightly.
“Can I take ye tae bed, Sassenach?” he asked as soon as he was capable of speech. Nodding my reply, I breathed him in as my legs and arms gripped tightly as he carried me to bed.
He made love to me again that night, and it couldn't have been more different than the frantic, angry fucking in my lounge.
It was slow, tender, deliberate and perfect. Each taking the time to savour and pleasure the other. As I sat with my legs wrapped around him, gently rolling my hips, riding him to mutual completion, our eyes stayed locked on each other. Alone with him, I knew I had found my home and he wanted me to stay.
Two people became one that night. We were as perfect as two imperfect people could possibly be.
Time slips by so fast that memories are sometimes hard to hold on to.
Some phases and points of my life are a jumbled blur, but every moment I have spent with Jamie has been carved into my body and spirit.
Thank you, so bloody much for the response to this fic.
I think I have said it was supposed to be a one-shot, but it just kept going and going, and I am so glad it did.
It is one of my most favourite things. i love them.
Thank you to Shan (hallooutlander ) and Era, (ere.r) for your inspo, help, and support through all my nervous breakdowns along the way.
Thanks again for reading.
Time slips by so fast that memories are sometimes hard to hold on to.
Many phases and points of my life are a jumbled blur. But every moment I have spent with Jamie has been carved into my body and spirit. Recalling each minute in vivid clarity, I can pinpoint what moment he first touched me, kissed me, made me laugh and cry.
Our story has become a favourite at bedtime for Fergus and Faith; a strictly PG version of course.
In a coincidence that proved Jamie and I falling in love was no coincidence, we came to discover that not only did Faith and Fergus attend the same school, but they were in the same class and friends. Long-winded and excitable stories about his friend, Faith, had been shared on an almost daily basis since Fergus started school, but it wasn’t until Jamie and I had dinner that first weekend, that we put two and two together.
While fighting over the last steamed pork dumpling, he chuckled, as he told me about his daily after school call with Faith, and how funny she found it when her friend Fergie fell asleep in prayer that morning. I literally dropped what I was doing, shovelling the prized dumpling into my mouth, and choked. Coming to my aid somewhat by slapping me on the back while laughing at me, Jamie, looked puzzled by my reaction.
“Fergie?” I said, coughing and spluttering. “Jamie, does Faith go to St. Simons?”
“Aye, she does...Why?” He asked, his brow and head raised in suspicion.
“I can’t believe this...Jamie, I had a call from Fergus’s teacher today, Miss Hawkins...Fergus fell asleep in prayer. Fergus is Fergie!”
“Fergie’s no’ a girl? Fergie is Fergus…? Yer Fergus? No, I dinna believe it! How could we no’ ken this?”
“Well, we haven't talked about school apart from the basics, and we have been rather occupied with other things the last few days,” I said, kissing the inside of his wrist.
The cheeky, playful smile in return told me he knew exactly what I meant and the raised brow and licked lip that followed indicated he was ready to be occupied again, right now.
“Aye, ye’re right. ‘Tis quite a coincidence and quite handy too. I need tae talk tae ye about yer wee bastard. He’s corrupting my daughter, ye ken. She told me they held hands yesterday! I’m no’ happy, Claire.”
Despite our kids already being friends—hand-holding friends—we agreed to keep them in the dark about us during the first almost eight months of our relationship.
Both Jamie and I had come out of complicated relationships and although we both shared good co-parenting arrangements with our exes—Frank for me and Annalise for Jamie—we wanted to give us time, just to be us. Plus, we wanted to be absolutely sure about what we were before we got the kids involved.
In truth, I had known what we were from the first moment we kissed, maybe from the first moment I saw him, but when it came to our babies, we were taking it slow. The joint custody arrangements we both had meant that during the kids' week with us, we would only see each other at work, making do with lunchtime kisses and sneaky corridor make outs.
As for the week we spent kid-free, well that was another matter. The phrase ‘Sinful den of debauchery’ may, or may not have been used frequently to describe what took place in whoever's home we would find ourselves holed up in every evening.
For months, the only time we would leave our bed was to go to work, get food and do all other necessary personal and parenting chores that could not be conducted via phone, or online, while hidden beneath a sheet fort. With each day that passed, our obsession with each other intensified. Jamie could bring me undone with the touch of his hand and the power I held over him was visible to anyone around us.
Everything was perfect, so perfect in fact that it came to the point where we could no longer bear to be parted. The weeks spent away from each other's beds felt like months. It became harder and harder to pretend we weren't each other's everything and being the architects we both were, a plan was drawn up to share our love with the kids.
Bit by bit, day by day, we spoke more of each other and had some fun outings together at trampoline centres, roller skate rinks, even some old fashioned playdates at home. When we both felt comfortable, Fergus and Faith were plopped down in front of us and told we were in love. I didn’t know what to expect, and neither did Jamie, but the reaction we received included high fives, hugs and kisses and a supremely sarcastic comment by my darling boy.
“Well, duh,” he said, rolling his eyes and elbowing an equally nonplussed looking Faith in the side. “Told you your dad had the hots for my mum.”
“You knew!” I gasped, genuinely surprised my six year old had seen through what I thought was our very believable, flawless facade.
“I knew, the teachers at school knew, Dad knew,” Fergus added.
“I saw Daddy kiss a picture of ye on his phone,” said Faith, with all the innocence in the world. “That’s when I knew.”
“And ye dinna mind it then, that I love yer mam?” Jamie asked Fergus, blushing from Faith's kiss revelation and sending my heart into a cuteness induced spasm.
“Cause I ken ye’re the man of the house, Fergus. ‘Tis verra important for us tae have yer blessing.” He slowly, almost hesitantly, slid his arm around my waist and kissed me on the cheek. “Ye too, Faithy. Ye’re okay with me dating Claire?”
“I think it’s great! Mum smiles all the time now. I like it,” said Fergus, walking towards Jamie and putting out his little hand to shake a then tearful Jamie's hand.
All eyes then turned to Faith, who was much quieter and reserved by nature than Fergus. At six years old, her ability to hide her emotions was far better than Jamie who both looked like we were waiting for the apocalypse. I had no idea what she was going to say. And clearly neither did he.
In the end, she said nothing. She did, however, walk up to me, climb onto my lap, and plant a big sloppy kiss on both my cheeks. That told us everything we needed to know.
Jamie Fraser was truly mine. He knew I loved him, and I knew he loved me. He knows I dream about him day and night, think about him constantly and long for his touch and finally, our love is true and complete because our kids know too.
Faith and Fergus, who have become best friends, love to be together and have come to love us both, which is lucky, as, on the twelve month anniversary of our first kiss, something big happened.
Fergus and I arrived to spend the weekend at Jamie’s. He was repainting his house and had somehow suckered Fergus and me into helping. Faith, adorable as always and covered head to toe in bright pink paint, answered the door when we arrived and led us straight into the spare bedroom at the rear of the house, giggling cheekily the whole way.
She flung open the bedroom door to reveal Jamie, equally covered in paint, equally adorable, down on one knee with a bunch of flowers in one hand, and a bag of Fergus’s favourite crisps in the other.
Faith ran to his side and knelt beside him, taking a small black ring box from the pocket of her denim overalls and opening the lid.
“Claire, Fergus,” she said, then looking at Jamie who continued.
“We love ye with all our hearts. You are the best thing that ever happened to me, Sassenach,” Jamie said, struggling to stop the flow of tears pouring down his cheeks.
“I have two things tae ask of ye. Number one: Will ye, Claire and Fergus, please come and live with Faith and I here, in our home? We want ye tae be our family.” He stopped to take a deep breath, Faith using the time to reach up and dry her Da’s eyes. After a quick kiss on her nose in appreciation, he battled on.
“And two...Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp, will ye marry me?” Faith then opened the ring box to reveal the most perfect diamond I had ever seen.
“Yes! Yes to both!” I cried as both Fergus and I ran to him, jumping into his arms. He slid the ring on my finger and we kissed as Faith piled on top, as the happiest, tear-filled group hug that ever existed took place.
After several minutes of joy and celebration, Jamie and I were desperate to be alone and Faith and Fergus were sent outside to play and eat the crisps. The minute the back door closed, and we heard the distinct sounds of laughter coming from the trampoline, we ran to Jamie’s room, laughing, kissing and disrobing the whole way.
“Bolt the door,” I demanded, as Jamie peeled off his shirt and pushed me onto the bed. He did just that, locking the door and checking twice it was secured, before turning, growling and hunting me down. It wasn’t hard. I was lying naked, legs splayed waiting.
“I’m gonna ask ye tae marry me every day ‘til I get tae call ye my wife,” he sighed, as he kissed every inch of my trembling body. As he reached my mouth, he kissed me and smiled his cheekiest smile against my lips, “and when ye move in, I’m gonna fuck ye every day too.”
With that, he drove hard inside me, forcing a scream from my lungs that half the street must have heard. He clapped his hand over my mouth, laughing and shushing me, all the while pounding into me at a fierce, ungodly pace.
“Ye’re mine, Sassenach. Mine, now and forever. This is yer home, here wit' me.”
“Yes, Jamie! I'm yours, now and forever.”
His thrusts became erratic and wild as he watched an orgasm unlike any I’d experienced crash over me. His hand clamped down over my mouth again as my moans of ecstasy filled the room and my long, shaking legs twisted around his body. I clung to him for dear life and he raced to his peak, crying my name, his lips on mine.
So confident was Jamie in our acceptance to move in, that amongst the cans of paint littering what would soon become Fergus’s room, was a variety of colours for Fergus to choose from to decorate his new space with. A deep grey was chosen, and work began immediately.
Fergus and Faith were as excited as Jamie and I about our new life. So unable to wait another day, we decided to begin moving that weekend. While Jamie and the kids painted, I went home to start packing. It was perfect timing. My lease was up in two months so I’d already begun to pack some non-essentials.
Complete adorableness greeted me on my return. All three of my loves were curled up in a pile beneath the warmth of Faith's favourite Bluey blanket, sound asleep. My heartfelt sigh woke Jamie, and he did an impressive stealth commando roll that every parent knows, rising to me gracefully and kissing me soundly. The smell of the pizzas I had brought with me woke the kids not long after.
A family was made that night as we sat on the floor, eating pizza, talking, laughing and making plans for our shared future.
I looked to the man sitting to my right, Jamie Fraser. He is my heart and soul, just as I am his. The future was ours for the taking, and where we would end up no one knew. We did, however, wholeheartedly believe that whatever came our way, we would always be together.
That is truly all we needed to know.