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Sanctuary

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I’d always valued my time alone. I think it came from being an only child. Time alone was time to think, to not worry about being judged or caring for the feelings of others around me. Time alone was time to feel and cry and scream and sometimes smile.

 

I hadn’t been alone in two years, Hayley wouldn’t allow it, and for a time, I could understand why. Now, it was all I wanted, and I knew I had to do something extreme to get my wish.

 

“Alaska! What the bloody hell is in Alaska?” Hayley’s eyes were filled with confusion.

 

I sighed heavily, I knew this wouldn’t be an easy conversation. I didn’t want to upset her, she meant well, she always meant well.

 

“I know, I know it seems extreme, it is extreme. I need some time just for me, away from here, away from everything I know.” I was staring out of my kitchen window at a bird sitting on my fence.

What I would give to just fly away!

Hayley was sat at the small round kitchen table hot mug of tea in her hands, I turned back to her and frowned at the frustrated expression that greeted me. I could see she was trying to understand what I was telling her. Hayley was never able to hide her feelings.

 

“Why Alaska though, couldn’t you just go to Greece like everyone else? If you need a holiday I can take time off work, we can go together.” She wasn’t getting it. I sat down next to her.

 

“Don’t take this personally Hayley, I need time alone. This place, I found it, it’s really exclusive and literally away from everything and everyone. It’s just two weeks Hayley.” I reached out and touched her arm. She put a hand over mine, her expression softening a little.

 

“You know I worry about you.” she gave me a reluctant half smile. “You’re rubbish on your own.”

Cheeky cow!

I narrowed my eyes at her, playing at being offended, my grin betrayed me. “I am not” I playfully slapped her arm and she snatched it away.

 

“You’ve not gone anywhere alone since…” she paused, we both knew the end of the sentence. “What if you have a panic attack?”

 

I’d considered the possibility. They were still fairly regular. I argued, “I’m much better with those now, I can manage them, with the breathing exercises and the pills.”

 

Hayley stood up and walked across to the kitchen counter, she opened the biscuit tin and pulled out a chocolate digestive. She closed the tin and turned back to me watching me thoughtfully as she took a bite. I felt guilty, she had been my rock through the past two years. She was protective, just what I needed in the beginning when the grief was so raw I could barely breathe. She was my shield, took care of literally everything, including me.

 

“Ange… you know why I’m worried.” she said seriously.

 

I nodded and lowered my head. “That was a long time ago Hayley, I’m stronger now.”

 

She gave a doubtful smile then sighed heavily and sat back down.

 

“Ange you’ve been lost, I know that… and I want to see you really smile again so much. If you think this is what you need… then I’ll support you. But for the record, I think you’re nuts.”

 

I smiled and reached over to hug my friend, she had been my raft these past two years, but now it was time for me to swim.


 

Heathrow was chaos.

 

Hayley had insisted on driving me there and ten minutes earlier we had said a tearful farewell before I made my way through security. I’d booked first class, ridiculously expensive but I knew the journey itself would be the hardest part of this for me. I still got very anxious around lots of people and I’d hoped this would help. First class ticket got me into the fast track security lane and access to the private lounges.

 

My bank account allowed the extravagance; as a result of the accident I had been awarded more money than I would ever need, than I knew what to do with. I had taken a pill to calm my nerves before entering the terminal, the butterflies still danced in my stomach and my heart still raced as I navigated the crowds of travellers trying to find the lounge.

 

Once the door closed behind me I let out a long breath. It was like someone had turned the sound off on the TV which had been playing too loud. The lounge was decorated in natural tones; browns, green and gold predominantly. It was dark and soothing, with soft light highlighting a feature here and there. There was a bar and wide comfortable looking armchairs dotted irregularly around the room. At the far end the wall was a large tinted window looking out onto the airfield. There were only a couple of people here, all smartly dressed and I realised I must have looked completely out of place in my jeans and hoodie. I took another breath, stepped in and ordered a glass of water.

Could do with a stiff drink, but not with these pills.

I picked a chair by the window, from here I could see the information screen and had a great view around the lounge and out to the airfield. My flight to Seattle was slightly delayed so I settled back into my chair and went over the relaxation techniques my therapist had taught me.

 

The key was to find a focus, something to take my mind away from whatever was causing the anxiety. most often this meant closing my eyes and simply focussing on my breathing. I’d learned though that, sometimes, in the right surroundings, it helped to just watch other people; their mannerisms, their expressions. It built a story in my mind and that took my thoughts to another place.

 

I watched the airfield for a while, the ballet of planes and tugs and luggage carts all moving around each other with people dotted between, all with purpose and a place in the production. It was constant movement and quite hypnotic, I snapped my gaze away as I realized my eyes were drooping.

The pill will have made me sleepy too.

I switched my focus to the people in the room; a smartly dressed bartender polished glasses and seemed to be humming to himself, there were around a dozen or so men seeming to be aged between 25 and 60, all in suits, with either laptops or tablets, engrossed in whatever they were doing. Around half a dozen other women here, some with the men, but a few on their own, also dressed for business and with their heads buried in a laptop or tablet. All very business-like. I wasn’t sure what I expected from first class travellers, I’d hoped perhaps a fading rock star or an Arab Sheikh, this was quite disappointing.

 

While I was watching one particular business-like couple who’s body language was betraying a little more to their relationship I’d missed the entrance of the latest visitor. It was only when my eyes moved back to the bar that I noticed him. Long legs covered in blue denim a grey hoodie, quite like mine in shade, blonde hair peeked out from under a baseball cap and from the profile view I had of him a familiar profile, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. He’d ordered whiskey and I noticed him carefully take in the scent of the amber liquid before taking a sip.

Well he knows what he’s doing!

He sat up at a stool at the bar, his rather smart looking rucksack dropped at his feet and turned towards the window to take in the view as he sipped his drink.

Bloody Hell! No… it can’t be… O.M.G.

I quickly looked away then tried to peer back without seeming obvious. There was no doubt about it, he was either Sam Heughan or a bloody good look-a-like. Even I knew the look-a-like industry was probably not profitable enough to stump for first class flights. I suddenly felt a few degrees warmer and breathless.

I was talking about him yesterday with Hayley, I don’t believe this. Probably going to LA for some glamorous event or more filming.

Before the accident Hayley had insisted I sit and watch ‘Outlander’ with her. It was a drama based on books written over 20 years ago, and was largely based in 18th Century Scotland, with some more modern pieces due to a quirky time-travel element in the story. The main story though was that of Claire and her romance with Jamie Fraser. I completely fell in love with their love story. Recently she re-watched it with me, Hayley had known what she was doing, Claire and Jamie, was me and Daniel, destined for each other and watching the series had made me smile for the first time since I had lost him.

 

Sam Heughan, played Jamie Fraser, he’d also started to appear in popular Hollywood movies and was tipped for the next James Bond. Hayley had enjoyed ogling over the intimate scenes in the TV show, and we both would girlishly giggle over what we’d do with our own muscular kilted highland warrior after a few glasses of wine. The TV show had helped lift me from an almost deadly depression, and even Hayley acknowledged she didn’t think it would have such a profound effect on me. Somehow seeing their love story played out soothed my soul a little, and as a result I started to climb out of my pit of grief and despair. I still had my moments though, when the grief would consume me, or the anxiety possess me and make me incapable of anything.

 

Sam raised his glass to me and smiled politely.

Oh my God, he saw me staring, he must think I’m such a creep! I want to die!

I looked away quickly and sank into my chair, my focus firmly fixed on the window.

Swallow me up right now!

I stared hard at that window for the next thirty minutes, I felt so embarrassed and could hear Hayley’s voice in my head.

Why you embarrassed? He’s already forgotten you. You should have got a picture with him though.

The tannoy announced that it was time for me to go to my gate. I was so on edge I popped another pill before I left, my eyes focussed straight ahead, but it looked like he had already gone.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

First Class flying was beyond expectations. I literally had my own private pod, which I could close completely once we were up in the air. It was just what I needed, I took my seat and the steward kindly guided through the various buttons I could press to do anything from affect the temperature in my pod and order drinks to turning my seat into a fully flat bed. The steward was professional and polite and extremely kind once I’d explained I’d never flown first class before. I was sleepy from the 3 hour car journey, the pills and the brief bit of excitement at the lounge, as soon as I was able I pulled out the bed and slept most of the flight.

 

I had always enjoyed flying, particularly enjoying the take-off, but landing was another thing altogether. From the first time I ever flew it was always the same; as soon as the plane started to descend my stomach would flip until we were on the ground. I had always put it down to a fear of falling. I’d taken another pill as soon as I started to feel the sensation and when the wheels touched down at Seattle I let out the breath I’d been holding since I could see the tops of buildings in a long slow controlled way.

OK more than half way there now Ange.

I felt a bit wobbly as I stood and retrieved my bag from overhead, I realised I hadn’t eaten much having slept through the meals and probably had more of my pills in the last 12 hours than I’d ever had in a day, well at least since .

I must be more careful, just need to get through this trip.

As I waited behind other passengers to leave the plane I thought I noticed the dark grey hoodie and baseball cap ahead of me, but whoever they belonged to had long gone when I finally got through the door. I found I really had to focus to find my way to the transfer area I felt almost drunk. Once in the right terminal I sought the business class lounge. No First Class here for this flight but still a private lounge so I was happy with that, the bustling crowds caused a buzzing in my head and all I wanted was peace again.

 

Another glass of water ordered I settled in a chair near the bar, this lounge was smaller, less decadent but still stylish, the chairs were far less comfortable. I knew I had a few hours to wait for my connecting flight so I pulled out my phone and earbuds. I’d been listening to a series of podcasts from various well-being ‘gurus’ who hosted shows that had people call in with their stories and they gave advice. There was no window here in this lounge so I flicked through my social media on my phone as the conversation went on in my ears.

 

A call was received from a woman who had lost her husband in a car accident, she was talking about her pain at the sudden loss and how she’d thought they’d be together forever. At that same moment as I scrolled my Facebook feed I came across a post I’d done 6 years earlier, it was a picture of Daniel and I at the top of Blackpool Tower, he was on one knee proposing. Facebook had brought it up because it was an anniversary of the original post.

How did I forget?

It was like a kick in the gut. In all the madness of planning the trip, I hadn’t realised the date. The pain the voice was talking about became real and washed over me like a Tsunami, I was powerless to stop it. Grief, guilt, loss all came at once, I couldn’t take my eyes off the picture.

We were so happy, I was so surprised!

Oh God he’s gone!

I yanked the earbuds from my ears, the voices irritating me now. The panic attack was in full flow and I was gasping for breath, tears streaming down my face. Everything around me was blurred and I tried to find the voice within me that needed to take control.

I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe

My stomach felt tight and there was a high pitched ringing in my ears, just like that sound they use on movies when a bomb has exploded and they want to demonstrate the effect on a character. I had no real idea where I was or who was around me, every nerve in my body was on edge, I just knew, I couldn’t breathe.

 

Then a new sensation, a hand on my arm, tentative at first then firmer.

What’s that? Who’s there?

“It’s OK, you’re OK.” the voice sounded distant because of the ringing, a male voice, somewhat familiar. The grip on my arm grew firmer, grounding me, giving me a focus. “You’re OK… just breathe… nice and steady.” the voice was deep but soft.

Whoever it is, they know what they’re doing. Hayley used to do this.

“That’s it… breathe in…and out… in and out.”

 

I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to shut out as many sensations as I could so I could focus on the voice and the instructions. I’d been here many times, and almost all of them it was Hayley who’d talked me down, never a stranger.

 

I was in control of my breathing again, long, slow, deep breaths.

In…. out …. in … out…

“You’re doing great. Keep going.” the voice had a Scottish lilt.

Nooooo!

I opened my eyes and a pair of sky blue eyes looked right back at me, they creased a little as he smiled at me.

 

“Hi there!” his grip on my arm started to relax.

Oh God, this isn’t happening.

I swallowed and tried to keep focussed on my breathing. “Umm… Hi!” I managed to get out. I noticed he was crouched in front of me, he looked genuinely concerned.

Bless him, this is so kind.

He stood and moved across to a chair placed next to mine, keeping his hand on my arm.

 

“I’ve had a few panic attacks in my time, are you OK?” he squeezed my arm supportively.

 

I nodded slowly still actively controlling my breathing, my heart still racing. I realised I’d dropped my phone into my lap. “Getting there, thank you so much.” I couldn’t meet his eyes, I was so embarrassed. I picked up my phone and exited the Facebook app so the photo went away.

 

Sam shifted a little awkwardly, moving his hand away from me and starting to stand “Erm, can I get you another drink? Maybe something a bit stronger?”

God yes, a litre of vodka please!

I stammered “I… I can’t … I’m on medication… just water please!”

 

Sam nodded and went over to the bar. It gave me a few moments to try to collect myself.

What the hell was happening? How is he here? Why was he helping me?

He came back with a fresh glass of iced water and a glass of whiskey. He set them down on the table in front of us and sat back in the chair next to mine. He leaned forward, his forearms resting on his lap. He waited a few moments, and I braved finally making eye-contact.

 

“Feeling better?” he asked warmly with a touch of sympathy in his expression.

 

I reached down and picked up the cold glass and took a sip “I am… I don’t know where you came from but thank you! I um… I’m not coping very well with this journey… obviously!”

 

He smiled, his whole face lit up and I had to catch my breath again. He picked up his glass and sat back as he sniffed at it before taking a sip. He gestured in my direction with his fingers.

 

“I think you came in on the same flight as me, from London? You were in the First Class lounge right?”

Will this embarrassment ever end? Hayley would be freaking out if she knew this was happening.

I must have blushed, I certainly felt the heat rise from my chest to my cheeks. I broke his gaze and looked awkwardly down at my feet. “Um… yeah I was… I… I um … didn’t…”

 

He leaned forward again his expression suddenly concerned.

 

“I’m sorry I didn’t mean to make you feel awkward. I just remembered you from the lounge, you um… recognised me, I think?” there was genuine doubt there in his tone.

How can you think anyone wouldn’t recognise you? My cheeks must look like hot coals!

“Yeah, I did.” I answered quickly still looking at my feet.

 

He held a hand out and I lifted my head “I’m Sam” he smiled warmly. I reached out to take his hand and his long fingers wrapped around my much smaller hand in a firm yet gentle embrace.

 

“Um.. Angela.”

I need to stop talking like an illiterate teenager!

He squeezed my hand gently then lifted it and kissed it before releasing. No man had ever, ever done that and I felt my heart explode just a little.

O.M.G! O.M.G! O.M.G!

“So where in England are you from?” he was starting to look as awkward as I felt.

Am I doing that? He’s trying to make conversation, grow up woman!

I took a deep breath, “The North West, Warrington to be precise.”

 

His expression told me he wasn’t familiar with the town so I added more detail. “Smack in between Liverpool and Manchester..”

 

He nodded “Ah I see…” he seemed thoughtful “I’ve not been to that part of the country for a while.”

OK Ange, conversation goes both ways.

“Erm.. and you… where in Scotland?”

 

Sam’s eyes lit up when I asked, happy that I was engaging I supposed. He had a far away look as he thought about his response.

“Well, originally the South West, place called Ballamaclellan, then Edinburgh and now, when I’m home it’s Glasgow.” he grinned and sat back “But today from London”

 

I raised a brow and grinned “Get about don’t you?”

Where the hell did that come from?

He chuckled at my cheeky retort and sipped at his drink “Yeah I’m a bit of a gypsy lately, comes with the territory.” he sighed but still grinning “This isn’t even my first visit to Alaska.”

Wait, what?

“You’re going to Alaska?” the surprise must had shown in my voice because he cocked his head curiously before nodding and narrowing his eyes a little.

 

“Yes… Why?”

What are the bloody chances?

“So am I! I’m going to a retreat, a few hours drive out of Anchorage.” I told him.

 

Sam’s eyebrows nearly shot off his head “The Sanctuary?” he asked warily.

Nooooo!

No … bloody … way!

Not even remotely possible!

I nodded and I must have looked very confused because that’s exactly how I felt. Sam’s eyes darted around the room, as if he was looking for a hidden camera. For a moment he looked frightened. “That’s where I’m going!” he muttered quietly. “How on earth…?” he looked stunned.

Is this some kind of weird dream?

Am I still home and not left yet? Or still on the flight from London?

He looks like he thinks I’m stalking him or something.

But he came to me, I didn’t even know he was here.

I need to do something, say something to show him I’m not stalking him.

“I um … was looking for somewhere special, to get away from everything for a few weeks, and I found a reference to The Sanctuary, I know it’s really exclusive so I didn’t think I’d be able to get in but Paul told me he doesn’t get many bookings this time of year, still too cold there normally.” I was babbling but the suspicious look in Sam’s eyes had me in a panic.

 

He still didn’t look convinced. “When did you book?” He looked like he was plotting his escape.

I don’t blame him, this is unbelievable.

“I started emailing Paul about a month ago, but he had no other bookings so he initially said he wasn’t going to be open when I wanted to go, then a week ago he asked me if I was still interested because he had another booking for the same dates.”

I’m not a stalker Sam, I promise.

Oh! You have the emails on your phone!

“I can show you the emails.” I swiped on my phone screen and started navigating to my email app. He leaned forward and put his hand on my arm again.

 

“It’s OK… I believe you… I’m sorry, I hope you understand why I was a bit…” he looked relieved and still stunned.

Thank God!

I put my hand over his patting it “It’s fine, I can totally understand… it’s pretty unbelievable… and with you being…um… well famous… you must get so many… crazy fans!”

 

He winced a little at that and nodded slowly. “Yeah, there are a few… " he let out a breath that indicated he’d been in quite a state of panic for a moment. He laughed nervously and sat back again with his drink. “So erm, you’re not a crazy fan then?”

OK, you can handle this without looking like a loon.

“Oh I’m a fan and well… as you’ve seen I’m not completely sane.” I grinned nervously.

Again, where did that come from?

He laughed, looking relaxed again now. “Well I’ll take that!” he shook his head, still in disbelief. “So I guess I was the other booking… Paul told me there would only be one other guest. He didn’t mention they’d be coming from the same place.”

 

“So you said it’s not your first visit?” I enquired. I was feeling more relaxed as well, he was really easy to talk to now we’d got over that hurdle. He shifted and sipped at his drink.

Don’t get too nosey!

“Sorry, none of my business.” I added quickly. “You’re going to a retreat to get away and I’m asking questions. Sorry!” I chewed on my lip and sipped at my drink. Now my heart rate was slowing to normal I was starting to feel tired.

 

Sam shook his head and leaned forward again, “No I’m sorry, I did say that… I’ve been once before, a few years ago now. It’s a great place to totally get away. No internet, no phones, no TV or radio. Great hikes, and climbing too, although not likely at this time of year, too much loose snow.”

 

I snorted “Won’t be catching me climbing, I’d fall off the doorstep!”

Well now you look like a proper numpty!

He laughed loudly and grinned up at me, “Oh it’s not that hard, I love it, not really supposed to be climbing though, in case I get injured, wouldn’t go down well with the studio!” he raised a brow and gave a cheeky grin indicating that he didn’t always do as he was told.

 

“Why do I get the impression that you do it anyway?” I grinned back knowingly.

I like this, he’s funny!

He waggled his eyebrows and I laughed almost spilling my drink. His face seemed to light up at this and I could see he was enjoying the conversation.

 

“So I know Paul is meeting me at the airport, I assume you as well? To drive us there?” he asked and I nodded. He seemed happy enough with that and continued “So this flight then three hours in a car, and two weeks in an isolated lodge. I guess we’re going to get to know each other!”

 

I yawned, hugely, completely out of the blue, thrusting my hand quickly over my open mouth.

What the hell?

Rude!

“I am so sorry!” I pleaded “I don’t know where that came from…” I sighed. “… actually yes I do, it’s the medication, makes me sleepy and I’ve had way too much today.”

I really want to continue this, I’m having fun!

I yawned again and Sam chuckled sympathetically, “It’s fine, please don’t worry… look we’ve got…” he checked his watch “…two hours at least before boarding, if you want to sleep I’ll make sure you know when it’s time.”

That’s so sweet!

Can’t do it, so rude! You just met and you’re falling asleep!

Christ I’m tired!

Well… he did offer!

I reluctantly agreed after he convinced me he had a book in his rucksack to keep him company. I tried to rest my head on my arms, with them resting on the arm of the chair, but that was uncomfortable, so I tried sinking into the chair so my head rested on the low back of the chair, that was really uncomfortable. Sam watched with a slightly painful expression as I shifted about trying to find a comfortable position, I was getting more and more agitated as the tiredness overtook me and I couldn’t find a way to rest. There were only single seat chairs in the lounge and I was thinking of a last resort when he looked up from his book and shook his head.

 

“I have a suggestion but I’m not sure how you’ll feel about it.” he said quietly, he could clearly see my increased level of agitation.

 

“Yeah I know, it’s gonna have to be the floor” I sighed and frowned down at the hard wooden floor.

 

“No, God no not the floor! How about you sit across my lap, you can rest your head on my chest then…” I blinked at him.

Did he really say that?

“… Sorry, if it’s inappropriate… it’s just… I can’t think of another option for you, you know these places, they don’t like you falling asleep!”

On his lap… head on chest?

“I won’t mind, I can still read my book!” he actually looked sincere.

He bloody means it.

He does look more comfy than the floor.

I need to sleep.

“You really don’t mind?”

 

I didn’t know if I looked so pathetic or if he really was that selfless but he waved me to him, his arms open.

 

“Come on, it’ll be fine” he held his hands up “No funny business I promise!”

Christ! I hadn’t even thought about that.

Fuck it I must sleep! If he tries anything, deal with it then.

I stood slowly, suddenly aware of the curious gaze from the bartender as I moved towards Sam, drug-induced weariness was overwhelming me and all sense was lost. I nervously lowered myself onto Sam’s lap, he’d sat back so he was comfortable and once my backside had settled, he wrapped an arm around my back and his hand gently pulled me to him until my head rested on his chest.

 

“There, perfect, I’m OK, are you comfortable?”

Yes! Yes! I’m comfortable.

And confused.

Mmmhmm” I murmured sleepily my eyes already drooping.

Was that his heartbeat?

O.M.G.

I’m dreaming, no bloody way this is real.

Gosh he’s warm! So warm.

I was out like a light wrapped in a soft warm cocoon with the gentle rhythm of his heartbeat beating a hypnotic rhythm against my ear.

 


“Angie!”

 

The voice came from the distance, like a echo. There was something tickling against my cheek and I twitched in response.

 

“Wakey wakey sleepyhead!”

I’m dreaming, that’s what dad used to say!

“Angie, the flight is boarding.” the voice was more insistent and definitely not my Dad.

Scottish, that’s a Scottish accent, been watching too much ‘Outlander’

Wait! What?

O.M.G!

My eyes snapped open as I suddenly realised who the voice belonged to and remembered where I was. Sam was lightly tapping my cheek, looking down at me with an amused grin.

 

“There she is! Thought you weren’t going to wake up for a minute there.”

 

My head swam, the full effect of all the pills and no food. Everything was out of focus, I tried to lift my head and it felt too heavy to hold.

 

“Oh!” I gasped as my head fell heavily back against his chest.

 

He let out a quick breath and leaned forward a little, still holding onto me. “OK, like that is it?” he slid his other hand under my knees and eased me off his lap, supporting me as I tried to stand and he stood with me. “Come on, on your feet! You’ll be OK once you get moving.”

 

I felt like I’d drank a litre of vodka at a thrash metal concert. My head throbbed, I had no co-ordination and my body ached from head to toe. Once on my feet I wobbled and Sam caught me, his arm holding me steady around my back.

 

“How many of those pills have you had Angie?” he asked looking concerned.

 

“Three, maybe four, I don’t remember.” I muttered trying to focus on staying upright. I noticed him sigh before he picked up both of our bags and still with an arm around my waist he started to lead us out.

 

“Let’s get you on the plane, you can sleep again then.”

 

I tried my best to keep up with his long legs, we didn’t have to go far to the gate and boarded quickly, there wasn’t many people on the flight it seemed.

 

Business class on this flight, not quite the same luxury as my flight from London. Wide reclining chairs, but no private pod. I found my row and fell into my seat by the window. My bag dropped into the seat next to me and Sam grinned down at me. “Made it, well done, grab what you need and I’ll stow it away. I’m just here.” He indicated to the row behind and across the aisle.

Oh! Well I guess this is goodbye for now then. Shame!

I rummaged through my bag, found my phone, a power bank and my earbuds and set them on my lap and pulled out my bottle of pills and tucked them into a pocket on the back of the seat in front. Sam looked at the bottle questioning but said nothing. I zipped up the bag and he picked it up and stowed it in the locker overhead. “You OK?” he checked.

 

Now I wasn’t moving I had come to my senses a little more. “Yeah, thanks, wouldn’t have made it without you… enjoy the flight.”

Well that sounded cold!

I hadn’t meant to sound so dismissive but didn’t know what to say. The nagging voice in my head that reminded me constantly of my flaws and failures had woken up and was making up for lost time. The last 15 minutes played over in my mind and I was mortified.

 

He had turned to his seat now, pulling his book from his rucksack, he stowed the bag and sat down. I couldn’t see him without leaning across the empty seat next to me and looking back.

Just as well, he’s probably glad to be rid of you.

Did I really just sleep in his lap?

What the actual…

Boarding complete I was relieved to find nobody was taking the seat next to me. I had some privacy at least. It seemed business class was actually fairly empty with just a handful of suited passengers, and Sam and I. I stared out the window as the plane began to pull away from the gate.

Next stop Alaska.

Alaska… what the hell are you doing?

This is all madness, you can’t do this!

I had a sudden urge to scream ‘STOP!’ to run from the plane and home to my friend and the familiar sights of my home.

Hayley was right, I wasn’t ready for this.

I was so far away already,

I’ve already made a complete fool of myself in front of Sam Heughan of all people.

Hayley had dreamt up of things that could happen, she definitely hadn’t thought of this.

Anxiety bubbled through my stomach working it’s way through my body.

Fuck!

I reached instinctively for the pocket in front of me and pulled out the bottle of pills. I popped the lid and tipped one out. A hand held my arm preventing me from putting the pill in my mouth. I looked at the hand, up the arm to the face looking concerned.

 

“Don’t you think you’ve had enough of those?” Sam asked me his head cocked, his expression serious. He must have been watching and had leapt from his seat now standing in the aisle leaning down to me.

 

The steward was setting up to perform the safety demonstration. She looked up at Sam, now in her way and not safely buckled in as he should be.

 

“Sir, Please sit down!” the tone was polite but had authority, Sam kept his eyes on me, my breathing fast and shallow, my eyes filled with tears and my face full of desperation. He moved and sat in the empty seat next to me. The steward was satisfied and continued with her prep.

 

Sam reached across, taking the bottle from one shaking hand and the pill from the other and put the pill back in the bottle. He snapped the lid closed and shoved the bottle back into the chair pocket.

 

Seeing my safety net snatched away did nothing for the panic beginning to grip me. My heart raced I was confused.

Why would he do that? I need that pill.

I searched his eyes for answers but found none through my bleary, teary vision.

 

“Let me help” it wasn’t a question, it was an instruction. I wasn’t going to get a choice.

Give me the pill, that will help!

His arm was around my shoulders pulling me into him until my head rested on his chest. I could hear his heartbeat, strong and steady through the muscular pecs. He spoke so softly.

 

“In…… and out……in …..” I was shaking, trying to look up at him. His other hand reached across and held the back of my head, stroking my hair gently with the palm.

Oh that’s nice!

“Close your eyes and breathe…in….out”

 

I had no clue if the steward or anyone else was paying any attention to this scene. I closed my eyes feeling tears escape and roll down my cheeks as I did. I felt the moisture captured by his T-shirt and hold against my cheek.

Now look what you’ve done, you’re ridiculous, what are you doing here stupid, stupid girl!

His grip around my shoulder tightened as if he could hear that voice in my head and he pulled me tighter to him. Soothing shushing as he continued to stroke my hair.

Fuck! Did I say that out loud?

Oh God my head, I need this to stop!

I must get control.

“Keep breathing… that’s it Angie you’re OK, I’ve got you.” His voice was so soft, just above a whisper.

He’s trying to not draw attention, so kind!

A different voice came over the tannoy loudly, the safety demonstration had begun, it made me flinch at the sudden noise and again he pulled me closer. “It’s OK Angie, shh… just listen to me.”

 

It was soothing, his gentle Scottish tones whispered just for me, the strong steady beat of his heart setting a calming rhythm.

 

I tried to focus, fighting the chaos in my mind.

Focus on the heartbeat… breathe Angie, come on this is so stupid!

I don’t know how long it was, we were in the air when I had finally calmed. I became aware of the warmth of the body against me, the gentle stroking of my hair. My eyes still closed for a moment I was transported back to more than two years ago when my husband had held me tight like this, his heart beating against my ear, the gentle rise and fall of his chest against my cheek. His hands in my hair and his voice so full of joy at the news I had just shared.

Oh let me stay here

Let time stop right here.

But time didn’t stop and the judder from the plane as we hit a small pocket of turbulence snapped me back to where I really was, and who was really holding me. My eyes flickered open and I lifted my head a little to meet his eyes.

Good lord how could they be so blue?

“Better?” he asked, a gentle smile curling his lips.

 

“Yes, thank you…. again” I chewed my lower lip, he hadn’t released his hold on me. “I’m sorry, you didn’t have to come across I…”

I am completely mortified.

“No more of them pills today, or you’ll never make it to The Sanctuary…” he said firmly. “…or anywhere else.”

He’s right, I’ve never had so many so close together.

Stupid girl, Hayley was right!

No wonder I’m such a mess!

I nodded meekly. “I guess it’s habit now when…”

 

“I know, this must be tough if you’ve not travelled alone for a while. Don’t worry you’re not alone now. Sleep, we’ll be there before you know it” he patted the arm he held with the hand around my shoulders indicating he wasn’t letting go and I should stay where I was.

This isn’t right.

I lifted my head again to protest “No, you’ve been so kind, and I’m so thankful but you’re here for a break too, not to take care of some strange woman you just met. You should be drinking whiskey and enjoying your book.”

 

He laughed with a wide smile, “Did it occur to you that maybe I needed a cuddle too?” one eyebrow raised as his eyes narrowed and he “If you don’t mind of course?”

What?

His expression softened and I saw a truth behind his jest.

God I’m so bloody self-absorbed!

Perhaps he was broken too, perhaps he needed to feel… needed.

I just blinked at him; I couldn’t find words. One corner of his lips turned up and he drew my head back to his chest with his free hand. “Sleep Angie, you’re safe.”

I am… I really feel I am safe.

My eyes closed, the drum of his heart playing to the sound of the engines filled my head and I drifted easily away.

 

I woke once during the flight, feeling a calmness I hadn’t felt in a very long time. The cabin was dark, lights out except the faint glow of the few lights needed so the crew could see what they were doing. It was dark outside; we would be landing at around 11:30pm local time. The cabin was quiet and still. I was wrapped in a cocoon of warmth. At some point a blanket was laid over me, over Sam too and his arm still wrapped around my shoulder, reassuringly heavy but loose now. I lifted my head slowly, he was asleep too, long lashes resting on those chiselled cheekbones, his lips closed and slightly curled upwards. His breathing slow and steady.

Gosh he’s beautiful!

What am I doing here?

Me, 5 foot 4, flabby, no so attractive 44-year-old widow from Warrington.

My only claim to fame was not one I was proud of or happy about.

I had no great accomplishments,

I just tried to get through each day as it came.

Yet I’m on a flight to Alaska being comforted by a man I met few hours earlier who happens to be extremely handsome and an internationally famous actor, businessman and philanthropist.

What the heck?

I closed my eyes again.

When I wake I’ll be back in my own bed on a wet English day and wondering about the incredible dream I’d had.

I wasn’t.

 

I was being gently shaken and tapped on the cheek.

 

“Wakey wakey Angie, we’re landing.”

 

He sounded bright as if his nap had done him good. I was still having to shake off the fog of medication. Easier this time. Eyes open I lifted my head and smiled sleepily back at the warm smile that greeted me.

Oh that’s a nice view to wake up to!

Behave woman!

“Hi!” I greeted him and his smile widened.

 

“Hey there, you OK?” he brushed a hair from my face and I felt myself blush at the intimacy of the gesture.

Oh my!

He must have noticed and seemed suddenly nervous. His grip on my shoulder relaxed and his arm lifted up and I was released. I sat up straight, missing the warmth instantly. His arm lowered again between us and I noted the slight twinge of discomfort on his face from moving the now stiff limb. He rotated the shoulder trying loosen the muscle.

 

“I’m fine, much better. I don’t know how to thank you”

 

I was turned in my seat still facing him but he seemed awkward and didn’t meet my eyes.

 

“Really it was nothing. I’m glad you’re OK.” He looked straight ahead at the seat in front a crease in his brow.

Oh! OK I’ve upset him. I didn’t mean to… dammit!

“Hardly!” I exclaimed, I couldn’t understand the sudden tension. I reached out and rested my hands over the forearm that rest on the chair arm between us. That made him look at me and I tried to make him see the extent of my gratitude in my expression. “You don’t know me from Adam, you probably have crazed fans trying to do anything to get your attention all the time. You trusted me, cared for me, protected me for no reason other than you were there and that’s far from nothing.”

 

The steward stopped next to us checking we were belted in, trays up etc. I resented the intrusion and she clearly noted it on my expression and swiftly moved on. My eyes moved back down to his and his expression had warmed, an almost relieved smile.

Thank goodness.

“Seriously don’t worry, I’m glad you’re OK… I’m still not sure if you’re a crazed fan though, you did say you were…” he winked, we laughed and I knew we were back on good terms. He nodded towards the window and I turned to see; we could see buildings below us now.

 

“Almost there.” He said and leaned across me a little to see better. Still close he turned to me looking excited “Sanctuary here we come.”

Chapter Text

Sam wouldn’t let me out of his sight as we disembarked and made our way through the terminal to the baggage collection. I was still woozy from the drugs but much better than earlier, he joked he was worried he’d have to throw me over his shoulder if I didn’t stop wobbling.

Tempting…

Good lord Ange, grow up!

Once our bags were finally collected we each pulled a suitcase behind us as we went through the doors to the arrivals hall.

Oh my God! What’s that? What’s happening?

A bright flash, followed by another and another blinded me. I stumbled back and felt Sam’s hand catch my arm, steady me then move around my back.


“Fuck! I’m sorry Angie!” he sounded upset, angry.

What’s happening?

Sam moved to my other side, between me and flashes and I could finally make out a couple of photographers with what looked like very professional cameras and large flashes. They were shouting for Sam to look at them, asking questions.

 

“Why are you in Anchorage Sam?”

 

“Who’s your lady friend Sam?

 

“Are you filming Sam?

 

Sam’s hand was around my waist and pulled me to him. “I’m sorry.” He told me still sounding angry “Stay close and we’ll be out of here soon.”

Paparazzi… they must be.

This is intense, he doesn’t seem pleased.

Are they asking about me?

He’s protecting me though, why?

 

Another man appeared on my other side, I was about to shove him away when Sam quickly told me, “That’s Paul, it’s OK, follow him.”

 

We followed Paul out to an SUV parked just outside the building. The photographers followed and Paul grabbed both of our cases as Sam practically shoved me into the back seat and followed quickly behind, locking the door as soon as he was in.

 

“Bloody Hell!” I exclaimed, catching my breath and settling properly into my seat. “Do you get that a lot?”

 

I looked across at him, his jaw was set hard and his eyes narrow as he looked out the window. He was breathless and clearly very upset.

Wow he’s really not happy. I don’t blame him, not pleasant one bit!

The flashes continued and Paul got in the drivers seat and we were quickly moving. The silence had me on edge. Paul turned briefly to me before looking back at the road. “Please tell me you’re Angela, I really don’t want to have to go back there.”

 

“I am…” I told him. “… nice to meet you Paul.”

At least someone is talking to me.

Paul nodded and smiled at me through the rear view mirror. “Pleasure’s all mine. Don’t worry folks, I don’t think anyone followed, but I’ll make sure.”

 

Sam moved suddenly, taking his phone from his pocket. He dialled and as he waited for whoever it was to pick up he looked at me, a pained expression on his face.

 

“Are you OK Angie, they didn’t upset you?” he reached across and touched my arm. I gave a reassuring smile and nodded. He closed his eyes briefly, seemingly relieved when his call connected.

 

“Yeah Hi… I’m in Anchorage, there was a bunch of Paps here waiting for me, how did they know?” he listened for the response a few seconds, his eyes were dark with anger. “You know I didn’t… well it’d better be the last I see for the next two weeks…literally four people knew…what?” he looked at me as he was talking his expression unreadable “…nobody’s bloody business…I don’t care… two weeks at least… yes at least, lets see if I WANT to come back.” He hung up and switched off his phone. I didn’t know what to say, he was wound tightly like a spring that could go at any second.

 

He sat back again and so did I.

Give him some space.

He’s really unhappy, I wonder who spilled the beans.

Paul stayed silent in the front and I watched buildings and cars pass by through the window. After a couple of minutes I became aware of the sound of slow, controlled breathing next to me, I knew that sound, usually it was me. I turned and watched as a myriad of emotions played on his face.

He’s trying to hide it but he’s really upset. Bless him.

I need to do something, make him laugh?

I took the hand nearest to me in both of mine.

 

“It’s OK Sam, you’ll still have one crazy fan at The Sanctuary, I know you’re gonna miss them.”

 

Initially when he looked it me he was confused, his eyes glistening with unshed tears then as I smiled and he realised the joke his head dropped for a second then as it lifted I could see the beginning of a smile. He moved his hand from mine and gently stroked my cheek.

 

“I don’t know you, I don’t know why we met but I’m so glad we did.” He paused seeming a little unsure of his next request. “any chance of a hug?”

Absolutely there is!

Shuffling across to him I slid an arm behind the curve of his back, he wrapped his arm around my shoulders again, allowing me to get close, my other arm around his front I squeezed and rested my head against his shoulder. His head dropped on top of mine and he squeezed me tightly to him. His breathing was shaky and I squeezed tighter. We stayed there, silent for a while. Finally his hold on me relaxed his head lifted and I relaxed my arms around him and looked up.

 

“Better?” I asked. He was smiling again, the tension gone from his face.

 

He nodded “My turn to thank you” he whispered. “And I was worried all that would upset you again.”

 

I sat up and shook my head. “I was too angry, how dare they ambush you like that? Christ it was ridiculous”

 

He sighed “Aye that’s one word… I just don’t know how they found me out here.”

 

Our driver interrupted “Clear now, nobody followed, it’ll be about 3 hours till we get there. I had no idea you guys knew each other.”

 

Sam and I looked at each other and laughed .

 

“We don’t” we said together.

 

We could see Paul’s face through the rear view mirror eye’s widened as he glanced back at us, understandably confused.

 

“Long story Paul…” Sam said wryly “… and thanks man, for getting us out of there so fast.”

 

Our driver nodded, still clearly confused but wasn’t going to press the question.

 

Sam and I chuckled at our private joke again. Six hours we had known each other. Six hours and we must have looked like a couple to the man driving us or at least like old friends.

 

We travelled steadily, short bursts of conversation between the three of us broke up silences as Sam and I watched the world outside shift from city, to suburbs to occasional small towns, to wilderness, and nothing like I had seen before.

 

“If you got any calls or texts to make do it now” Paul had told us about an hour in, “Signal starts to get very patchy up ahead”.

Christ I haven’t text Hayley, she’ll be going mad.

She’ll lose it when she hears what’s happened.

Not enough time to explain though.

In Alaska, safe, on way to retreat. I made a friend. Love you xx

 

After a couple of hours there was very few signs of civilization at all; the road was loose gravel, we passed occasional telegraph poles. It was late January and light snow filled the air and lay a blanket across the fir trees and open grasslands we passed. Mountains seemed to sprout from nowhere and there were fewer and fewer other cars on the road.

This is definitely getting away from it all.

After just over 3 hours we pulled into a gated compound, the gates closed behind us and we drove a little further until we reached a large wooden lodge. Once out of the car Paul opened the door and we walked in. Directly ahead of us was a staircase, to the left of that was a lounge area, in the centre of multiple armchairs and couches was an open fireplace, made of a dark marble, simple in design, a cube, standing around five feet high, hollowed through the middle where the fire crackled merrily and a chimney rising from the top through to the roof. On the other side of the staircase was a small reception type desk which Paul was leading us to, then a door, which he told us was to the dining room.

 

Paul explained as he checked us in that there were 10 guest rooms, but we would be the only ones here at this time. He wouldn’t normally open at all but this winter had been quite mild and while there was still plenty of snow, most areas were still accessible.

 

He looked to Sam, “Sam’s been here before he asked me to make a exception for him, and well I already knew you were interested so here we are. As I explained, there’s no counsellors or instructors though, if it were more people…”

 

I stopped him. “That’s perfect, I’m not here for that, just for space and peace and quiet.”

 

Paul seemed satisfied that my expectations weren’t too high and he took our cases and led us upstairs. He opened a door and gestured to me. “Your room”

 

I peered inside. Paul had gone in to leave my case. I smiled up at Sam “I guess I’ll see you later, breakfast?”

 

He laughed “It’s nearly 4 am I’m asleep on my feet, I think I’ll be skipping breakfast today… but sure, lunch maybe.” His expression softened. “Goodnight crazy fan”

 

I couldn’t help but smile at that. Paul came back out the room as I replied “Goodnight Sam” and stepped through the door turning to close it as I watched Paul open the door across the hall for Sam.


 

It was a gentle knocking sound that woke me.

Ugh go away!

The room was bright, I hadn’t closed the curtains, I hadn’t done anything but strip to my underwear, a trip to the bathroom and climb into the bed, my head sinking into the soft pillow and I was out.

 

Knocking again!

Pack it in!

“What?” I yelled from the bed, my eyes resisted the effort to open. I didn’t completely know where I was. I expected to hear Hayley shout back. She didn’t.

 

“Making sure you’re alive! It’s 5 pm!” it took a second for my brain to associate the amused Scottish voice with it’s owner.

Not a dream then?

I sat up and pinched myself.

yep definitely awake.

I stumbled out of the bed. I hadn’t even opened my suitcase.

 

“Yeah, um …. gimme a sec”

 

I scanned the room, a bathrobe hung from the wardrobe.

thank goodness.

I wrapped it around me and made my way to the door, opening it warily.

Dear lord! He has no business looking that bright and breezy!

Is he laughing at me?

“I um…” he was resisting the urge to laugh. “I was getting concerned, after those pills… I just wanted to make sure you were OK, sorry I woke you.”

Sweet that he’s concerned but why is he grinning like that?

I rubbed my eyes and tried to offer a smile. “Still here, in a manner of speaking….did you say 5 pm”

 

He nodded, the grin still twitching at his lips.

 

“Then thank you, I’ve slept way too long. I’m starving!”

 

“Plenty to be eaten downstairs, I’m off to use the Gym but maybe see you later?” He started to move off then turned and teased with a grin “love the hair! Glad you’re ok”.

 

I lifted my hands up to my head, instantly feeling the chunks of hair that were sticking out in all directions.

Bloody hell!

Showered and dressed I headed down. He wasn’t kidding about the food, fresh baked bread, fresh fruit, some snacks to choose from and I dived in. Paul saw me and approached asking if I slept OK and reminding me dinner would be served at 7 pm so don’t fill up too much.

 

It looked like Paul, who I knew owned and managed the place was the only staff aside from a chef I could see prepping in the open front kitchen and a housekeeper who darted into my room as soon as I left it.

Bless her she must have been waiting for me.

I chatted with Paul, a softly spoken guy from Pennsylvania, ex marine special forces. He’d inherited the lodge which was initially a hunting lodge, and modified it into the exclusive wellness retreat it now was. He had a manner about him, you could see he had experienced horrors I could never imagine, but he saw the value in therapies and wellness techniques that helped him get through it. He never talked about other visitors by name but it was clear this was well known to the rich and famous. He laughed when I said I felt out of place.

 

“Well you paid the fee so you must at least be rich right?” he exclaimed as he headed outside to perform some maintenance on his car.

Aye there’s truth in that.

I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the money the insurance companies awarded in return for keeping the details of the accident as low profile as possible.

I wouldn’t need to be there though, if it never happened.

I stared out the window pondering the inexplicable nature of life as snow gently fell outside, the sun was on it’s way down and it gave the fir trees out front a warm orange halo, the fire crackled nearby and not another sound was to be heard.

I could stay here forever.

I was relaxed into the armchair watching the world outside my thoughts lightly dancing from one thing to another with no real rhyme or reason. I hadn’t realised how much time had passed.

 

I sensed the presence behind me before I felt the large hand gently settle on my shoulder.

 

“Join me for dinner?” Sam asked shyly as I turned to look up at him.

 

He was wearing a creamy coloured thick turtle neck Argyle sweater. Much different from the gym wear I’d seen earlier. His hair combed smartly in a wave on the top of his head, he was clean shaven and I couldn’t help but gulp to swallow the urge to scream at him how bloody stunning he looked.

Maybe I’m a crazy fan after all!

I smiled and stood nodding like an idiot patting my hair to make doubly sure it wasn’t crazy like before.

No, all in place, thank goodness!

“Yes, yes I’d like that, thank you!”

 

He grinned at my efforts with my hair. “You look lovely.”

 

I rolled my eyes as I walked around the chair I’d been settled in. “Yeah right, no make-up, short, fat and dressed like a … a…”

Damn! I can’t think of a word.

Sam frowned and interrupted “Natural, petite, healthy and dressed absolutely fine for dinner in a lodge in the middle of nowhere… you look fine!” The tone was firm and his look made it clear he was accepting no arguments. He held out his arm in invitation for me to take it.

Bless him for being so kind.

“If you say so”

 

“I do!” he winked at me and led me to the dining room.


 

“Could you imagine…?” he asked leaning back in his chair and popping grape in his mouth. “Imagine if we hadn’t met at the airport, if we hadn’t arrived at the same time… we’d probably be sat at separate tables barely having said ‘hello’.”

 

The thought had crossed my mind. There were ten small tables, for the ten rooms. No assumption that guests would mingle. Some people came here for solitude, I had thought that’s what it would be like for me but this was so much better.

 

I raised my wine glass to him with a grin. “Here’s to panic attacks in airport lounges”

 

Sam laughed and raised his glass to tap against mine. “And to crazy fans who give amazing hugs”

Awww!

Glasses clinked again. The dinner, now finished had been full of light conversation, nothing serious or too personal. Sam had started, he talked about the gym, the joy of having it to himself. I assured him I was not likely to trouble him on that score. He challenged me to give it a try I compromised with a firm ‘maybe’.

Nope! No way you will see how unfit I really am!

I talked about my conversation with Paul, my friend Hayley, my home town in the north west of England. We shared our mutual love of the city of Edinburgh and shared tales from our childhood. It was easy, relaxed and my face hurt from smiling. It had been so long.

 

We finished the wine and moved back to the fire. We sat on a couch each leaning back into opposite corners so we could face each other. Paul and whatever staff were there had made themselves scarce leaving us with a bottle of Glenfidditch that Sam assured me would do just fine.

 

We were both wide awake, jet lag well and truly kicking in. I had assured Sam no medication had been taken that day and a generous amount was poured into my glass. Sam started talking about Whiskey, his passion for the subject was clear; his eyes brightened, his hands moved animatedly as he told me about the different Scotch varieties and then about his own Whiskey which he was immensely proud of. I sipped at my glass letting the warmth flow through me as I listened. I asked questions and he answered happy to share his knowledge.

 

Eventually as he was pouring a second generous glass he paused. “I’m sorry, I do go on. You never came here for an education in Whiskey”

 

“I pretty sure you didn’t come here to give one” I giggled back.

I could listen to him read the phone book.

Behave yourself Ange, out of your league, plus, not Daniel!

He chuckled and sat back thoughtfully; his gaze fixed on me as if trying to solve a puzzle. I started feel self conscious and looked away shyly.

What is he thinking?

“I’m sorry…” he said quietly “… it’s just…um…” he blushed and looked away momentarily then back at me with a strange intensity. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but I feel like I’ve known you all my life… I don’t know why and I have to keep reminding myself we just met… uh Christ sorry that sounds so creepy” he stood up and paced in front of the fire.

I know exactly what you’re talking about.

“I feel the same.” I spoke the words without thinking, but was the truth and I wasn’t going to let him feel guilty after such a fun evening. He stopped pacing and looked at me in shock.

 

“You do?” it was a wary question but there was hope within it.

 

I nodded “Sam, I’ve not felt this comfortable with someone in a long long time.”

It’s true, not sure if I should be telling him that though. This is… too soon… too much… but it’s the truth right? That can’t be a bad thing.

The smile on his face blew me away.

The Whiskey must be going to my head.

He sat back on the couch, close to me this time, lifting his hand to stroke my face he spoke so softly I wasn’t entirely sure if he was speaking out loud or just in my head.

 

“You’re very special Angie, I don’t think you have any idea how special you are”.

 

A tear ran down my cheek.

Where did that come from?

Get a grip woman.

He brushed it away with his thumb and we were trapped in the spell of the moment for a minute.

 

His expression changed suddenly, as if a memory came to him. He frowned, I couldn’t tell, anger or confusion. He dropped his hand and stood, turning his back to me, staring into the fire.

 

“Sorry, jet lag, wine and Whiskey.” His speech was silted, as if he were struggling to control his emotions. “You must think… I… I don’t make a habit of this.”

Of what? Making people feel special?

The truth was I knew what he meant, the atmosphere was charged with some magical power and it was almost certainly the result of jet lag, alcohol and the Romantic setting we found ourselves in. I stood and walked round to face him.

 

“Sam, you’ve not done anything wrong. You’ve been so kind and so sweet, so generous.” He blinked down at me, still frowning and I could think about was how tall he was. “Sam, I don’t want, or expect anything from you, please don’t think that.”

 

Still blinking, frown softening.

 

“I made a mistake thinking I could do that journey alone, and you came out of the clear blue sky and made sure I wasn’t alone… you, Sam have already given me more than I could ever ask for, or hope for. You saved me, you got me here and you have made this first evening so much fun… I… I haven’t felt this good for so long, and it’s you who did this. You’ve done nothing wrong. “

Silence.

Is he afraid of saying the wrong thing?

I need to break the tension.

“Christ you’re bloody tall!” I smiled trying to stand on my tip toes and still barely reaching his shoulders.

 

He finally laughed reached out and pulled me into a bear hug. I wrapped my arms around his muscular body and squeezed tight.

 

“You don’t know it, but you saved me too.” He whispered down above my head. “You do good hugs as well!” he chuckled and we squeezed each other tighter for a few seconds before separating smiling at each other. My hands dropped from around him and he caught them with his hands holding them gently. There was a peace between us now and it felt warmer than the fire.

 

“I find it hard… to trust” he said, trying to explain something to me. “Well, no, I trust too easily but I’ve been burned, too many times and I doubt myself… doubt other people’s intentions. For a second there I wondered…” he paused looking concerned that the rest of the sentence would not go down well. “… I wondered if you were so interested in me just because…”

 

“.. a crazy fan?” I finished for him and he nodded lowering his head ashamed.

 

“I had one moment when I first saw you” I admitted “But you’ve just been this guy I met” since. I laughed “This tall, gorgeous, sweet as anything guy”

I’ve made him blush.

Ha! Now I’m blushing.

Mouth engaged before brain again!

“But I’m not here because you’re famous, I had no clue you’d be here, I have no motives other than enjoy your company as long as you want to offer it.” I could understand his wariness, our experience at the arrival’s hall had shown me he was very used to being seen only for his fame.

 

He squeezed my hands. “I felt that I do feel that, please don’t be upset I doubted. Trust issues are my problem, not yours.”

 

“Not upset in the slightest” I reassured him and he relaxed.

 

He let go of my hands and picked up his drink. “Well, this wasn’t what I expected at all when I decided to come here. Certainly, different to last time.”

 

“Better I hope!” I smirked.

How are you this comfortable talking like this?

I moved back towards the couch.

 

“Wait!” he stopped me, moving quickly he grabbed the cushions from the couch and dropped them on the floor between the couch and the fireplace. he gestured down to his handy work. “Would you mind? Just more fun!”

 

I laughed, picking up my drink. “I’ll get down but you may have a job getting me back up after all this booze!” I sat down on the floor, a soft rug beneath us and leaned onto my side so the cushions supported my head and leaned up on an elbow my legs stretched out towards the fire.

 

Sam joined me, making sure to bring the whiskey bottle to our level along with our glasses. He topped up our drinks and raised his glass.

 

Slàinte

 

We clinked glasses as he lay back, reclined with the cushions behind him, he watched the fire as he spoke.

 

“Last time, I was alone. Just finished filming Season 1. It was insane, I’d gone from wondering where my next meal was coming from a year earlier to constant press, TV, magazine interviews, parties and filming all around that. My dad had passed and I hadn’t really had time to process everything. A friend suggested this place. There were only a few others here and we’d say hi and occasionally chat but mostly everyone did their own thing.”

 

He turned his head to look at me.

 

“You haven’t been outside yet. It’s incredible; great walks, fishing, climbing.” He saw my expression, it was pretty clear physical exertion was not my idea of a good time. “Or you can just chill, sit by the lake or in the forest. Paul has a huge fence round the estate and sensors and stuff to keep out bears and wolves so it’s safe. You remember the gate we drove through?”

 

I nodded silently sipping my drink and watching the light from the fire dance on his face.

 

“The only way in or out unless you want to be electrocuted.”

 

He went back to looking at the fire. “A part of me wanted to run away then, give it all up, it was so much, so fast. I was grateful, I knew so many actors who would kill for this kind of opportunity but….” he sighed. “…It’s a hell of a price. I had to decide if I could pay it.”

 

“I guess you did.” I interrupted the pause, he looked thoughtfully at the flames.

 

“But on my terms, that’s why I set up My Peak Challenge and started my company.” He turned to me, sounding more positive. “I told myself, this may be fleeting, if I’m going to get this coverage, I’m going make sure it helps people, and helps me too. They both were born here.”

 

“I can’t imagine what ideas will come from this visit” I quipped looking at him through my glass of amber liquid.

 

He laughed and raised his glass “A new friendship is a good start.”

He is just the sweetest thing.

I smiled and raised my glass in return. “To new friendships”.

 

It was getting late now, the last log from the basket was on the fire and I shivered as the below freezing air crept in and slid down the back of my neck. Sam noticed, “Come here.” he said patting the ground right beside him. I shuffled across and he wrapped his arm behind me, so my head now rested on the top of his arm, near the shoulder, our bodies next to each other sharing warmth. He grabbed the throw that was on the couch and pulled it over us.

 

“There, nice and snug… is this OK?” he sounded unsure.

I’m getting too used to this.

I nodded, “Are you this tactile with everyone?” I asked warily, I didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable about it, I was genuinely curious. He pulled me closer and grinned mischievously.

 

“Only beautiful women I pick up in Airport Lounges.”

Beautiful women! Not I!

“Oh? What you doing here with me then?”

 

The instinct to bat away the compliment had taken over. I never took compliments well.

This man surrounds himself with models, actresses, starlets who could grace the cover of any magazine.

I was far from ‘beautiful’.

“Don’t do that.” He tone was suddenly serious again, but still gentle. “You put yourself down too much. Just trust me, you’re beautiful.” I gave an awkward smile up him as thanks.

Still don’t believe you! But you’re sweet to try.

“Charmer!”

 

“You bet I am!” he lowered his head and kissed my cheek so fast I barely could register it had happened. I must have looked stunned.

What the heck? Is he just playing?

“I’m sorry, it’s too much, bloody Whiskey, I’m being inappropriate… it’s OK just tell me.”

 

He started to shift away and I grabbed onto his sweater. “Don’t you move away now I’m nice and cosy” I offered a reassuring smile.

 

“You’re being sweet, and silly, and funny. Not inappropriate at all. I promise I’ll tell you if I’m unhappy”

He relaxed a little.

I’ve not felt this good, this comfortable since…

“Here’s what I’m thinking… I’ve not had a hint of a panic attack since last night… there’s so much we haven’t shared yet. You could decide you don’t want to know me so much once you do know more, so I’m going to make the most of this now because it’s nice and warm and fun. Is that OK?”

You sound so bloody mature. Where’s that come from?

He nodded and sipped his drink and I did the same. We sat in silence for a while, enjoying the warmth of the slowly fading fire, and our bodies closeness.

 

I hadn’t even noticed I felt tired until I felt Sam shift against me and I started awake.

 

“Time for bed sleepy head”

 

I was so cosy I didn’t want to move and I groaned in protest. I heard a chuckle and he slipped away from my side and was quickly on his feet the agile little bugger. I was much less graceful clambering over the cushions to use the couch to push myself up. Finally upright I caught Sam laughing.

For fuck’s sake why did I agree to sit on the bloody floor?

“I told you I would struggle to get up” he nodded acknowledgement of the truth and held out his hand.

 

“It’s 1 am, we’ve had too much whiskey and I need to get you into bed… um I mean up bed…up to your room where you will sleep on your bed and…I will sleep on mine”

O.M.G. he’s pretty flustered, guess he’s more hammered than I thought.

I took his hand and gestured with my other that he should lead on. I giggled all the way up the stairs the Whiskey had made us both very silly.

 

Outside my door we stopped briefly, I was still holding his hand giggling as I looked up at him. Sam opened the door, leaned down to kiss the top of my head and swiftly turned me towards the doorway with a gentle push. I stumbled slightly before turning to see he was already going through his own door across the hall.

 

“Goodnight Angie.” The door closed behind him and he was gone.

 

I stood blinking silently at the closed door before me.

What just happened?

That was very strange, cold even considering…

Did I say something wrong?

I don’t even remember saying anything.

Ugh, too drunk, too jet-lagged!

I shook my head and closed the door, stripped down to my underwear as I headed towards my bed and fell in.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

I headed downstairs for breakfast at 9 am, I’d slept soundly and woken just under an hour earlier. Paul had laid on quite the treat with Pancakes and bacon available in abundance. I enquired if Sam had been down yet and he told me Sam had grabbed some provisions in the early hours headed out to walk through the forest.

Oh that’s disappointing.

That was so weird at the end of last night.

I wonder what I did wrong?

It had stopped snowing. A white blanket covered everything outside and it looked like a Christmas card. I decided I should get some air.

 

Wrapped up in my new insulated jacket, jeans, hiking boots and hat gloves and scarf I ventured outside. The morning air was bracing and took my breath away for a moment. Paul had told me there was a lake a quarter mile away and pointed me to the trail. I headed in that direction, I could see the footprints in the snow heading in a different direction, I assumed they were Sam’s.

I guess he really did want to be alone… after all wasn’t that why we were both here?

I cursed myself for being so selfish, after the last two days his presence had been such a comfort that I had come to depend on it.

He’s here to heal himself too. I need to remember that.

Neither of us have said what made us want to come here this time.

He could be going through some really bad stuff. I need to focus less on him and more on me. That’s why I’m here!

I set my focus on my own goals and carried on my stroll to the lake.

 

Sam wasn’t wrong, the landscape here was stunning, I felt almost like an intruder in this untouched natural wilderness. The trees rustled with the cold but gentle breeze, birds sang and danced between the branches and there was rustling of small animals around me. I remember Sam telling me about the fence, at least I was safe from anything dangerous.

 

The trees suddenly stopped, and the landscape opened to reveal the glistening lake, mostly frozen but with some areas still unfrozen. There was a small pebble shoreline and the snow had melted there. On Paul’s advice I’d brought a small waterproof blanket and I lay it down there and sat with my knees hugged up to my chest.

 

Watching nature at it’s most unaffected by man was awe inspiring. My thoughts wandered over time from how incredible this was to remembering sitting at the side of a lake like this with Daniel. The lake was Loch Ness and we were on our honeymoon. It wasn’t quite so cold but felt wild like this and we felt like the only two people in the world. My heart swelled with love for my husband as I remembered the peace I felt that day, two days after the joyful chaos of the wedding. Here we were, bonded together forever and nothing in my life had ever felt so right.

 

I touched my wedding ring, still there, I could never take it off after Daniel put it on my finger that wonderful day. It was a simple plain band. No frills, just like us, we were truly ourselves in each others company and treasured that trust in each other to protect the secret us behind the faces we put out to the rest of the world. We were whole now, soulmates, best friends, lovers.

 

I let the tears flow. They poured from my eyes like a waterfall. Unmedicated and finally completely alone with nobody with best intentions trying to distract me I was able to let my grief pour from me. This is what I needed; this is why I was here. It wasn’t a panic attack, just pure release. The sobs wracked my body and I held myself tight in a ball and let it happen.

I miss him, my husband.

I miss his smile most of all, how it made my heart flutter like when we were first dating.

I miss my parents, I was their only child and well and truly spoiled, not with material things but with Love and attention and anything a girl could ever want.

They were my whole world and it broke me every time I asked myself how they could all be gone, just like that and yet I was left behind.

 

Hayley had been my saviour, sometimes literally, she knocked the bottle of painkillers out of my hand as I poured them out after seeing myself in the mirror a day after returning home from hospital. I was black and blue from head to toe, a broken leg and collarbone, scarred from abdominal surgery and various cuts and I had never felt so completely empty in my life. It had seemed like the logical thing to do at the time, just make it go away.

Thank goodness she walked into the room at that moment.

She watched me like a Hawk for months after.

That’s why I was never alone.

I had forgotten my watch and didn’t know how much time had passed, the winter sun was higher and a little more snow had melted from the trees. The sobs had settled to occasional hiccups and eventually I wiped my soaked face with my hands. I felt exhausted, but a little lighter. My therapist was right; she had been thrilled at the idea of this retreat telling me that it would be a process, the first step, truly coming to terms with my loss. I felt I had moved in that direction today and I affirmed to myself that despite the trauma of the actual journey, being here was going to be worth it.

 

I made my way back to the lodge, it was 3 pm and Paul had bowl of steaming hot soup waiting for me.

Perfect.

I’d spent the rest of the afternoon sat again in the lounge watching the world outside. Paul was bringing in fresh logs from the storage building just out front and then went back out to his car which he seemed to be endlessly tinkering with when he had no other jobs. The housekeeper who I learned was Paul’s wife and called Sarah was dusting and tidying and I could hear the chef, Mark tinkering in the kitchen. Everyone just went about their business quietly leaving me to my thoughts.

 

Dinner was served and I ate alone, I couldn’t help notice Paul’s attention was diverted. He was watching the door. The sun was going down and Sam hadn’t returned. Paul’s concern was passing onto me. As Paul took my empty plates and again looked at the door I asked. “Did Sam say when he’d be back?”

 

Paul shook his head. “He did ask what we were having for dinner, but he knows I don’t allow guests outside the lodge area alone after dark. I’m pretty sure the fence keeps the larger predators at bay but can’t be too careful. I’m sure he just got turned around with the snow.”

Yeah he’ll be fine, he told me he goes hiking all the time.

He took the plates away and I sighed wandering out to the lounge, now I was watching the door hoping it would open and let in a weary hiker.

 

The clock ticked, and it grew darker and darker outside. Out of nowhere Paul appeared dressed to go outside, Mark followed similarly dressed. Both held shotguns. Paul sat a walkie talkie on the table. “Sarah’s out back if you need anything, don’t worry I know what trail he was taking, we’ll find him. I’ll check in on this every 30 minutes.” He showed me quickly how it worked and they headed out.

Now I’m worried!

Until dinner I had tried not to think about Sam; he wanted peace and I would respect that. It was the least I could do. Now he was all I could think about.

Was he hurt… or… worse?

I couldn’t bear to think about the possibilities. I held the radio in my hands growing more desperate for news.

 

Sarah came out and joined me, handing me a glass of brandy. She was a very quiet woman but I appreciated the company. We made small talk to pass the time before the radio crackled to life. No news but they were following his footprints in the snow.

OK that’s good, he left a good trail.

I breathed a little easier. The clock continued to tick for 2 more hours until finally.

 

“Hey guys, we have him. He’s OK but taken a fall, I think his ankle is broken. Sarah, bring the car down to the lookout point on the south of the compound, that’s the nearest road, we’ll help him get there then drive him into town.”

Oh thank God!

I couldn’t speak I was so relieved. Sarah went to get her coat and on her way out she told me it shouldn’t be long. The lookout point was five miles away and they would stop here before heading to the small hospital in the nearest town. She was in the car and gone before I realised I was alone.

 

After 15 minutes I couldn’t bear to look out the window any more. I grabbed my coat, scarf and hat from my room and went outside to the porch. I paced up and down the porch until I heard the engine approaching.

Finally!

The car pulled up Paul driving and Mark and Sarah got out the back. I could see Sam in the passenger seat, he looked exhausted. He noticed me waiting, must have seen how concerned I was and he smiled and gave a thumbs up through the window. I wanted to go speak to him but Paul was already driving away after dropping off the others. Sarah guided me back indoors.

 

“They’ll be back in the morning no doubt. Just his ankle as far as I can tell but he’d been stuck since lunchtime. It’ll take over an hour to get to the hospital. Come back inside darlin’ you’ll freeze!”

 

She guided me back to the fireside and poured another brandy for all three of us. Mark took his glass to the backroom, it was pretty clear he wasn’t the sociable type. Sarah poked at the fire, there wasn’t much life left in it.

 

“Get some sleep darlin’. No use staying awake worryin’. Though I can see why you’re sweet on him. Handsome devil if ever I saw one.”

 

Wait! What did she say? Sweet on him… don’t be silly.

I flustered “Um what? No …I think you misunderstand. We’re friends, we just met.”

 

She chuckled and sipped her drink. “Oh, I see!”

Oh who am I kidding?

He’s wonderful, so sweet and kind.

That smile!

Those eyes…

“I agree he’s handsome though eh!” I let out a breath and she laughed, we clinked our glasses to that and drank up. I couldn’t help but smile a little I was probably blushing, and a twinge of guilt played on my mind.

Not Daniel, since when did you look at other men?


 

I woke early, I hadn’t really slept well, my mind wandering. I headed down as soon as I was dressed, they weren’t back yet, Sarah and Mark had arranged breakfast and as she poured my coffee Sarah told me Paul had called from the hospital. I was surprised, I had thought there was no phones, but Sarah explained they kept a landline in the back room for emergencies, they didn’t tell guests unless necessary. She told me they had had to wait until morning for the x-ray technician, it was a small-town hospital with limited staff. They expected to be back late morning.

 

Reassured I enjoyed my breakfast and headed back to my room to shower and rest a little more. I was dozing lightly on top of the covers on the bed when I heard the car pull up outside. I darted up and out of the room. From the top of the stairs, I could see the door was open and Sarah had gone out to greet them. Paul was helping Sam out of the car. Sam had a cast around his foot and was trying to steady himself on crutches.

OK be cool, he does not need to know how worried you were.

I tried not to appear too anxious as I came down the stairs and headed out the door, I had no coat and the cold air hit me like a wall, but I didn’t care.

 

Sam was approaching the couple of steps up to the porch, concentration on his face as he struggled to adjust to moving with the crutches. He smiled warmly up at me.

Oh that smile!

“Looks like my hiking plans are out for a bit.” he joked. I had an overwhelming urge to hug him, but he was trying to get up the steps and was losing balance, I stepped down quickly to support him, grabbing his arm. Paul and Sarah were unloading some things from the car.

 

“Careful, or you’ll be breaking the other one.”

 

We got to the top step and onto the even ground of the porch, and I couldn’t hold back any longer, I wrapped my arms around him and pressed myself close as I hugged him tight.

So much for playing it cool.

“I’m so glad you’re OK.” I squeaked. He tried to hug back with one hand as the other balanced on the crutch.

 

“I didn’t mean to worry you” I could hear guilt in his voice, and I felt bad for it, he paused a few seconds. I felt him kiss the top of my head again. “Come on Angie, you’re frozen, it’s too cold out here, lets get inside”.


 

Settled on the couch in the lounge, crutches stowed at the side. I found a footstool and instructed him to rest his foot on it. He obliged then held out his hand and gently guided me to sit with him.

 

“Don’t fuss, please, I feel bad enough for putting everyone out.” He did look guilty and frustrated.

I thought you were dead! I didn’t want to but I did, I’ll fuss if I want!

I sat and kept hold of his hand. “What happened?” I asked, then his expression turned to embarrassment.

 

Och it was so stupid, I was just walking, following the trail but the snow covered a pretty large rock and I tripped and ended up falling down a hill and broke my ankle on the way down…”

Oh that’s scary!

“I couldn’t put my foot on the ground… I managed to pull myself up the hill back to the trail that took most of the afternoon and it was getting dark. I figured Paul would come once I hadn’t come back.”

God all afternoon dragging yourself up the hill?

“Fractured in 2 places apparently but didn’t need surgery thank goodness… just gotta keep this cast for at least 4 weeks.” He rolled his eyes. “I’m gonna go stir crazy!”

Well not nearly as crazy as I was last night.

I laughed, I knew he loved being outdoors and four weeks of relative confinement would be his idea of hell.

He’ll probably go home now.

He’ll at least have other distractions there.

“I know you were looking forward to exploring out here. Are you going home then?” I asked, quietly praying he wouldn’t be then cursing myself in my mind for my selfishness.

 

He looked astonished at the question. “No! No Way!”

Oh! OK, that’s pretty definitive. Why would he stay?

“Sure, I came here for the hiking and climbing but I can do that in so many places. The main reason I chose here was the remoteness, the distance from all the nonsense out there.” I was smiling and I didn’t realise until he smiled back “I’m glad that’s good news!”

The best news!

“It is” I said, realising that for some reason tears were starting to well in my eyes. “I was so worried about you, daft sod!” I took a breath to calm myself. “Sorry I’m being silly.”

 

He wrapped an arm around me and pulled me close. “That’s what we do isn’t it?” he tried to reassure. “It’s nice to know someone cares, thanks Angie!”

I didn’t realised I cared that much.

But I do.

Ange, be careful.

We hugged for a few minutes quietly before his hold on me relaxed and I sat up again. I realised how tired he looked.

 

“Did you get any sleep?”

 

“A little, on a Gurney in the hospital, not the most comfortable.” He grimaced.

 

“You should go to bed.”

 

He shook his head. “I’m OK, maybe an early night tonight but I’m just getting my head in the right time zone I won’t do myself any favours going to be bed now.” I gave a disapproving look and he laughed. “I’m fine! I’ll take it easy today, I have no choice!”

 

I rolled my eyes and consented silently as if it was something I actually had any power over. He shifted in the couch trying to get up.

 

“I do need to wash and change though, I must smell awful.”

I kinda like it actually.

Do NOT say that out loud!

I chuckled and stood to help him up. “I’ll help you up the stairs.”

 

He consented. “until I get to grips with these things” he said picking up his crutches.

 

As if he’d overheard Paul came from the back as we approached the stairs and gave Sam a plastic bag and some elastic bands, to put over his cast and tie off so he could have a shower without wetting his cast. He mentioned he’d had a similar injury in the past and had found it a godsend to be able to shower without having to stick his leg out.

Now there’s an image for my mind… Sam, shower… for God’s sake stop it!

We got Sam up the stairs and to his room and we left him to it after he assured us both he could manage. I headed back down the wide staircase with Paul.

 

“He was worried about you.” He told me secretly. “Said you looked so worried when he saw you on the porch, he was concerned he’d bring on a panic attack.”

 

I was a bit stunned; it hadn’t even occurred to me that Sam would be concerned about me through all this.

So sweet and thoughtful.

“That’s why I called Sarah when we go to the hospital, he needed to know you were OK. Sarah knew there was no way we’d get an x-ray till morning; this isn’t our first injury.”

 

I didn’t know what to say. We reached the bottom of the staircase, “Thank you!” I managed “For going out and finding him,” Paul nodded and headed off in the direction of the kitchen.

 

I turned to the lounge, found an old, battered copy of “Jane Eyre” on the bookshelf which was filled with classics and took it to the couch, curled up and tried to read. There were a jumble of emotions fighting for a place in my head; grief, love, guilt, confusion, desire, and I didn’t want to deal with them right now, I needed a distraction, “Jane Eyre” was one of my favourite books, a story of struggle and loss and everlasting love, I’d been drawn to it ever since I read it in high school and must have read it a dozen times, and here I was again 30 years later reading it once again.

Chapter Text

It was a few hours before I heard movement upstairs. I had assumed he’d nodded off.

Good! He looked so tired.

I’d had lunch and Paul had made sure some soup was saved for him, I’d gone back to my book and was fully immersed when I heard the door close and a tap, tap, tap on the wooden floor of crutches as they moved along the hall. They stopped and I realised he must be at the top of the stairs. I had visions of him toppling down and jumped up aiming to help him.

 

He caught sight of me at the bottom and held out his hand.

 

“I’m OK, I can do this.”

Stubborn bugger!

He held both crutches under one arm and the railing with the other. Carefully using the crutches to support him as he lowered himself down to the next step, then then next. It was slow but steady progress and as he tackled the last step and was level with me he smiled.

 

“There, see! Getting the hang of it.”

Show off!

I shook my head at his stubbornness and pointed him to the dining room. “There’s soup for you, you must be hungry.”

 

He moved quickly in that direction. “Aye I’m starving. I had a wee nap and lost track of time.”

Took my advice after all!

I watched him move away. He noticed I wasn’t going with him and stopped and turned.

 

Then he noticed the book in my hand. “Oh I’ve interrupted your reading I’m sorry.”

Jane Eyre was just saving Mr Rochester from the fire!

“Stop saying sorry.” I told him. “I wasn’t going to let you tumble down the stairs, was I?” I smiled. “Enjoy your lunch.”

I want to go with him, and talk and laugh.

But here’s here for space too.

So I won’t force my company on him.

I’ve been silly, letting my imagination get the better of me.

Leave him be for a while.

He nodded a little glumly and headed into the dining room. I went back to the lounge. I could hear him talking with Paul in the distance, just the sound of their voices I couldn’t make out what they were saying. I heard Sam laugh, and my heart jumped… I shook my head whispering to myself “Get a grip woman!” and buried my head back in the book.

 

We shared a table at dinner again, he’d stayed in the dining room all afternoon and greeted me with the biggest smile as I came in.

Oh my!

“There she is…” he gestured to the chair across the table from him. I sat and felt suddenly very shy. Sam held up the bottle of Chardonnay Paul had left on the table silently asking if I wanted some. I nodded, why couldn’t I speak? He poured the wine into each of our glasses and seemed to notice my shyness, so broke the silence.

“How was your book?”

Come on Angela, speak woman.

“Great, erm… Jane Eyre… I’ve read it a thousand times but it never gets old.”

 

He nodded “It’s been a while but yes I remember, great story.”

 

Paul brought our meal over and we ate quietly for a while. After a few minutes he put down his knife and fork.

 

“Angie, is everything OK? Have I upset you?”

Christ! How could he think that?

“No! No not at all… I just … I wanted to respect your privacy, you came here to be alone, and I’ve taken so much of your time, and I guess I’m worried you feel you need to entertain me, that’s not fair on you”

 

He looked relieved and a little embarrassed, he reached across the table and took my hand, holding it gently.

 

“There’s not a minute I begrudge you Angie, I’ve loved spending time with you.”

Oh so have I! Too much!

I lowered my head, emotions overwhelmed me. He continued. “Angie, you’re right I did come here to be alone, I came here to hike and climb too, but well, fate had other plans, made me injured so I couldn’t hike and brought me to you so I wouldn’t be alone. Who am I to question fate?”

Fate has an odd sense of humour.

I chewed my bottom lip as I raised my eyes, he was looking at me with such sincerity, his thumb brushed the back of my hand sending shivers through me.

Christ! This is too much!

I swallowed the lump in my throat. My heart was pounding like a drum, I was sure he could hear it. “I…. I’m glad you feel that way. I was just worried … I was being selfish.”

I found words at last.

He squeezed my hand before letting it go. “Nonsense!” he went back to picking up his cutlery. “I’ve not felt this good in a long while, broken ankle or no, and you’ve a huge part to play in that Angie.” He took a bite of food and watched me pick up my cutlery again. “I believe the world gives you what you need, whether you know it or not.”

I thought that’s what I believe too but right now I don’t know if I can handle it.

I nodded “I guess you’re right. You realise we’re here for two weeks though, right? I bet you won’t be saying that at the end.”

There we go, push it away.

Sam shook his head he knew what I was doing and he didn’t approve. He didn’t admonish me this time though, just muttered. “Silly woman!” between bites and winked at me.

 

It was a little easier to talk then. He asked me about my home town, and I spoke about it as we finished our meal. He listened attentively interjecting with occasional questions encouraging me to continue talking. I’d talked generally about the town, it’s history as a centre for wire making during the industrial revolution.

 

“That’s why the local Rugby League team was nicknamed “The Wire”

 

Sam was a Rugby Union fan but admitted to enjoying the occasional league game on TV. I admitted I wasn’t completely au fait with the difference but knew enough not to mix the two up in conversation with a fan of either. He laughed at that, knowing how passionate the fandom was for each. I told him about how the town had been a New Town in the 1970’s, one of a few towns funded by the government for large developments of new housing and industry. Most New Towns, Milton Keynes being the most famous were literally developed from scratch. Warrington, along with it’s neighbouring town Runcorn though was unusual in the scheme being an already existing town which was then expanded massively. It had taken population overflow from the nearby cities of Liverpool and Manchester making it quite hard to pin down a local accent as depending on the history of the family, three people who grew up together on the same street could have wildly different accents, based on the original Lancashire, or Liverpool or Manchester or even Cheshire which also now encompassed the town.

 

Sam commented he had noted my accent was quite hard to pin down; definitely Northern English, no getting away from that, indistinct but hints of Scouse (Liverpool) he noted. I smiled “My Parents are from Liverpool… were…. were from Liverpool” he noted the change in my tone as I became aware of my slip and the memory of my parents came to me.

 

“I’m sorry…” he said gently reaching out to hold my hand again. “…was it recent?”

Oh don’t make me go there, we were having so much fun!

I chewed my bottom lip again and took a deep breath. “Two Years … I … I…” I wasn’t ready for this conversation yet. I felt a familiar tightness in my chest and my breath caught in my throat.

 

He squeezed my hand. “It’s OK. You don’t have to talk about it… Tell me about your friend you mentioned … Hayley was it?”

Thank you!

“She’s amazing!” I told him, my nerves calming quickly. “Completely nuts, and so completely the opposite of me.” I laughed. “We met when we were doing our ‘A’ Levels, I thought she’d hate me, she was so loud, so popular. I was dead quiet, studious. We got paired for a project and next thing I knew we were best friends.” Sam sat back smiling broadly enjoying the story. “I think we complimented each other, where I lacked confidence, she’d pull me out of my comfort zone, but made sure I was OK. She wasn’t much of a student, so I helped her with her work and made her focus when she needed to… and that carried on ever since. I couldn’t imagine life without her.”

 

“It’s so great when you have someone like that in your life.” He commented taking a drink from his wine. “I guess Alex, my business partner is the closest I have, although Cait I guess she is too.”

 

“Cait?” I asked, he hadn’t mentioned the name before… a girlfriend?

Oh let her be a girlfriend so I can stop this silly stuff in my head.

“Oh, she’s my friend, she plays Clare in Outlander”.

 

Realisation hit me “Oh of course.” I took a second to remember the name “Caitriona Balfe? She was wonderful.”

 

Sam smiled and his eyes sparkled a little as he spoke “She is, we only met when she auditioned but like you said with Hayley, we were best friends before I knew it… she’s as daft as me and I trust her completely.”

 

“I guess that’s really important when you’re working so close together.” I remembered the VERY intimate scenes from Outlander I had seen.

 

“It is…” he leaned forward, it was clear he was happy to talk about this, his hands gestured and I feared for the glass on the table as it was perilously close to being knocked off. “… I mean, we had to spend a lot of time together and of course….” He blushed a little “… there were intimate scenes, a lot of them and … well I’ve had to do that with actresses I really didn’t feel comfortable with… and that’s the worst.”

So jealous right now… for god’s sake Ange grow up!

“I can’t even imagine!” I sipped at my wine. “So you and Cait…. Just friends?” I asked boldly, trying as much as I could to hold back the green eyed monster lurking in my head.

 

He chuckled and nodded “Oh yes… just friends… she’s married, Tony, great guy!” it was an honest statement, no jealously or longing behind it and my heart jumped again.

What the hell?

He started telling stories of tomfoolery on the set and how they enjoyed winding each other up and I sat back and listened for a while. He’d not really talked about his work; it was interesting to hear. I’d seen the show, and I remembered how Hayley and I had talked about it and shared silly girlish fantasies of what we’d do with our own Jamie Frasier.

 

Hayley was divorced, her husband was unfaithful, and she hadn’t much trust when it came to the male gender any more but it didn’t stop her enjoying the fantasy of a rugged highlander sweeping her off her feet. When I had married Daniel, she had told him he was marrying both of us and if he was unfaithful she’d castrate him. He believed her he had told me on our wedding night.

 

I realised Sam had stopped talking. He was watching me with interest. Once it was clear he had my attention again he smiled. “You went far away then.”

 

“Yes … sorry, I was listening but then… I guess you brought back some memories.” He looked concerned and I smiled. “Good ones…. Very good ones.” He was reassured and pushed his chair back and suggested we move into the lounge.

 

It occurred to me as we moved across the foyer into the lounge area, that when there was a full house of guests, this place would be buzzing. Paul would have more staff too I assumed. I almost resented the idea; I liked this peaceful bubble and didn’t want it to end.

 

Sam settled on the couch again and I made sure he rested his foot up on the stool. He reproached me for fussing but I could tell he kind of enjoyed it. I put a log on the fire and poked at it for a minute making sure it was burning evenly before I sat with him. Sam had ensured a good bottle of Oban Whiskey had come with us and we sipped it slowly.

 

“I’ve been the distillery at Oban” I told him.

 

He looked very surprised. “Really? Me too, what took you there?”

Oh what made you say that?

I took a deep breath.

I could do this without crying, I had to stop skirting the subject.

“My honeymoon, we did a short tour of Scotland, Oban beautiful room above a pub overlooking the port, it was our second stop after Stirling. The distillery did a tour, seemed like the best thing to do… Really interesting… First Scotch I’d ever tried, always been a Bourbon girl.” I was speaking quickly, trying to get it over with.

 

I realised I was playing with my wedding ring. I know he had noticed it before but never asked any questions. I took another breath. “He’s gone too …” Sam nodded respectfully.

 

“I see…” I think he drew the connection to the earlier subject I hadn’t been able to talk about and again diverted me. “It’s a great Scotch, one of my favourites, aged in bourbon casks, that’s probably why you like it.” I nodded quietly still swallowing down the lump that had crept up my throat. It had been two years and I still couldn’t talk about it without getting emotional.

 

“Hug?” he asked.

Oh yes please!

I nodded and sliding into his embrace felt almost natural now. He held me close with one arm my head on his chest. We sat quietly like that for a while, he sipped the Whiskey held in the other hand and I felt his heart beat strong and steady beneath me. His chest rose and fell gently and I felt soothed and safe again.

 

Eventually he spoke so softly. “I’ll listen, if you want to talk… but if you don’t, that’s OK. I know you’re here to find some peace.”, the hand that held me moved and his fingers stroked my hair.

 

“I’m pretty peaceful right now.” I answered not moving, the sensation of his fingers sending waves of pleasure through me I could barely admit to myself I was feeling.

 

“I’m glad, happy to be of service.”

Was his heart beating a little faster or was I just hearing my hammering heart now?

I raised my head to look at him. His blue eyes glistened in the firelight and I couldn’t read his expression as he looked back at me. He lowered his head and kissed me, so softly, so tenderly. His hand brushed my cheek and I responded, opening my mouth to him and for a moment surrendering to his will as the kiss intensified. My heart felt like it would burst out of my chest, my fingers gripped on the fabric of the shirt he wore, pulling him closer. My mind swirled chaotically.

What was happening?

This is so nice, I need this.

This couldn’t be happening,

This SHOULDN’T be happening.

Oh god, Daniel, oh God no!

I pulled away suddenly, I could see the confusion in his eyes as I pushed myself away before standing. “I’m sorry I …. I can’t. oh God… I can’t.”

Oh don’t look at me like that.

I don’t want to hurt you.

I wish I could explain.

Damn my foolish heart.

I ran towards the stairs before he could speak. I heard him call my name as I ran up them and along the hall to my room closing the door behind me and collapsing on the floor against it as I sobbed.

I have betrayed my beloved Daniel

The guilt was crushing me.

I promised to be his forever.

I’ve never even thought about being with another man.

I was his and he was mine.

Sam had come after me, finding a way to get up the stairs unaided I heard the tap tap of the crutches before a gentle knock then silence. I was sure he could hear me crying if I could hear that.

 

I heard him mutter something unintelligible to himself, but it sounded angry. Then he spoke louder, and it was clear he was concerned. “Angie I’m sorry … I… I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry Angie, let me in please, I need to know you’re OK.”

 

I couldn’t breathe, between tears and guilt and anger at myself and the familiar tightness of a panic attack rising through me I couldn’t breathe. I crawled to my knees and pulled the handle on the door edging back so it could open before finding my feet and stumbling as he entered. He caught me and edged me to sit on the bed. He knelt in front of me, his hands on my arms.

 

“Oh Angie… I’m so sorry!” he began. “Come on… remember… breathe…. In … out.”

 

I shook my head violently, this felt worse than any I had experienced in a long time. It was going to take more than controlled breathing to get through it. I saw him look around the room. “Where are your pills?” he demanded. I raised a shaky hand to point at the dresser.

 

He hobbled over and opened the top drawer pulling out the bottle. He checked the label and nodded to himself, satisfied this was the right one he grabbed a glass and poured water from the jug on the dresser. He brought them over and held out my hand and tipped out a pill, I threw it back into my mouth and he offered the water. I almost choked on the water but got the pill down. He put down the glass and resumed his earlier position, knelt before me as I gasped for breath. I was aware he was there but couldn’t take in any detail, everything was blurry and all I could do was try to breathe.

 

I heard his voice again. “Come back to me Angie… I’m here… you’re OK, breathe in … and out.” There was a definitely angry mutter again.

Was he scolding himself?

He continued to coach my breathing until after a few minutes I was able to take control.

 

My eyes were closed, my body felt weak and exhausted, I could feel my hands were wrapped in his, large and warm, anchoring me back to earth. A few more minutes before I could open my eyes, my breathing steadied now. My heart could have broken for the distressed expression that greeted me.

Oh what have I done?

“Angie, I’m so sorry … I shouldn’t have done that… I just … I’m so sorry.” I tried to squeeze his hands a part of me still wanted to run away but I couldn’t leave him like this.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry I’m so broken.

You are so beautiful, in so many ways.

I’m sorry I have hurt you.

“It wasn’t just you Sam… sorry for being so dramatic.” I was suddenly conscious of him having to chase me and I felt foolish and now he was here kneeling before me. “Get up you silly bugger” sit here. I pulled a hand free and patted the side of the bed next to me. He heaved himself up on his good leg and hopped into position.

 

“I’ve ruined it.” He muttered his head hanging low.

I’ve ruined everything. I hate myself.

“You’ve done no such thing.” I reassured. “If anything, I ruined it… I wish I could explain… but no… it was nice …” I blushed at the memory of his lips against mine, my heart skipping beat. “…very very nice.”

Too nice, it didn’t feel wrong. It should have. I’m sorry Daniel.

He looked up at me now some hope in his eyes. “Just …” I couldn’t put it into words, the exhaustion and the medication fogging my brain.

 

“The wrong time?” he tried to help and yes that was it and I nodded.

 

He seemed to reluctantly accept that. “I never want to hurt you Angie, I don’t want to cause you pain and I did and…”

 

“Stop Sam!” I put my hand over his mouth and held it there.

So soft those lips.

“You never caused me pain, you’ve only caused me pleasure and joy and peace.” My fingers lightly brushed his lips and he looked confused

What are you doing? You should stop.

“My mind caused me pain, grief, memories and fucked up brain chemistry. Please know that… you never caused me pain Sam. I’m just not… there yet.”

I don’t know if I can be.

“Yet” he seemed to hold that word like a promise and I wondered if I had said too much.

 

Weariness was overcoming me, a panic attack like that took it’s toll on the body, I had been told it was a reaction to the flight or flight instinct so the body responded in the same way as it would if you were being chased by a Lion or fighting for your life.

 

I looked at the pillows at the other end of the bed. Sam took the hint.

 

“You need sleep… promise me you’re OK. Angie I’ll never forgive myself.”

God what was I to do with this wonderful man?

“Well I forgive you, so forgive yourself… and get some sleep too. You’ve have had a longer day than me.”

 

I leaned across and lightly kissed his cheek. He seemed surprised but glad and stood, bracing himself against the wall as he hobbled to the door. Turning just before closing it behind him. “Goodnight Angie.”

 

“Goodnight Sam.”

Sweet dreams!


 

I stretched as I woke the next morning. What a night! My dreams had been full of confusing images, and I had been restless as my subconscious wrestled with the events of the day before.

 

My conscious mind knew exactly what the issue was. I was attracted to Sam… very, very attracted, and there was more than just physical attraction I was developing real feelings, and I felt guilty about it. Daniel was my soul mate; it had never even occurred to me since I’d met him that I could be so drawn to another man. It had been like a switch was flipped that day, I’d met plenty of very attractive men, and while I could admire them physically, there was never a second, I imagined myself with them. Daniel and I had a security together that was unbreakable, I trusted him completely and I knew he felt the same. When I had kissed Sam I felt I had betrayed that trust. My logical mind knew, Daniel was dead, and he would never want me to be unhappy, he would want me to find love again. Since the accident my logical brain wasn’t in control most of the time though and it was my other brain that set me running yesterday.

 

I stood under the shower letting warm water flow over me. I could hear Hayley’s voice in my head.

“Go for it girl… enjoy yourself you deserve it… you need it.” and I could hear my mum “Don’t open yourself up to more pain, be careful.” I let out a frustrated growl.

Dammit I don’t need this confusion.

Then I heard Sam’s voice “Who am I to question fate?”

Who am I?

I headed downstairs, Sam had already come down and started breakfast. He smiled at me as I entered but seemed a little nervous. I returned the smile and offered a bright “Good Morning!” as I took a seat across from him. He returned the greeting visibly relaxing.

 

Paul poured coffee and took my order and headed back to the kitchen.

OK Ange, its up to you to break the tension.

“You sleep ok? Did your foot bother you?” I asked lightly.

Just like nothing ever happened.

“A little, it aches mostly. Yeah I slept well though, thank you.” He took a bite of pancake and smiled. He did look well rested, and I was glad. “How about you?”

 

I sipped at my coffee, “Not so bad, a dream filled night.”

So many of them included you.

He chewed his lip as he nodded, I guessed he held back the urge to ask if they were good dreams, he was afraid of the answer maybe?

 

He carried on eating for a while then nodded in the direction of the window. “Snowing again, heavy. Paul says it’ll be all day, won’t be able to go out.”

 

I looked at the white scene outside, thick flakes fell fast and had already added a couple of inches to the previous fall.

No escape for either of us then.

“Guess you’re stuck with me then.” I teased and pinched a small strawberry from his plate quickly popping it in my mouth.

 

He feigned shock, “Hey! Get your own!”

 

We both laughed, and I tried to pinch another, and he tried to slap my hand away.

This is more like it, laughing again!

I pulled my hand back, stuck out my bottom lip and batted my eyes deliberately and feigned being upset. He knew I was playing and rolled his eyes in a similarly exaggerated way as he picked up a strawberry had held it out to me. “I can’t say no to you can I?”, it was as much a statement as a question and I took the strawberry and smiled smugly as I popped it in my mouth.

 

“Nope!”

I don’t think I’ll be able to say no to you either… if I get another chance.

The tension was truly broken now and we chatted freely as my breakfast was brought over and Sam pinched a whole bacon rasher much to my fake disgust and both of our amusement.

 

Stuck in the lodge, options to pass the time were limited, especially with Sam’s injury. We both decided to spend some time reading. Sat at opposite ends of the couch, I carried on with Jane Eyre and he with his Andy McNab book. I was nestled in the corner but couldn’t get comfortable. I shifted and stretched. I must have been fidgeting for some time and distracting Sam. After almost an hour of this he patted his thigh “lie down, put your head here, you can stretch your legs out then.” I looked at him dubiously, “Seriously, come on, lie down, your legs are restless cos you’re cramped up, they need to stretch.”

Why do I always end up touching him?

“If you say so.” I sighed and following his direction, lay my head on his lap and stretched my legs out along the couch and over the arm. I had to admit, I was finally comfortable.

OK you win!

Sam smiled down at me then went back to his book and I returned to mine finally settled.

 

After about an hour I felt the fingers of the hand that wasn’t holding the book playing absent-mindedly with the ends of my hair as it fell across his lap. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation for a few minutes batting away the guilt that was hammering at the door to my consciousness.

This is so nice.

You need to stop this.

But it feels good, Daniel would want you to feel good!

When my eyes opened again, I looked straight into the sparkling pools of Sam’s eyes, watching my face, his book put aside.

 

“Is this, OK?” he asked quietly his fingers still stroking and twisting small strands at the end.

Yes!

No!

Yes dammit!

“It’s lovely.” It was so beyond lovely, to be touched, cared for, to be looked at the way he was looking right now.

I wish I could tell you.

I wish I could find the words.

I was so deeply relaxed I didn’t think I could move if I wanted to. My eyes drifted shut again and all my nerves were singing but the only sensation I had was from the gentle movements of his fingers in my hair. Then the softest touch on my cheek made me gasp a little. His other hand I presumed, the finger stroking gently down my cheek, to my chin, his thumb brushing across my lips.

 

Oh God don’t let this stop… but it must… no enjoy it… you can’t! Oh shut up brain!

 

I parted my lips slightly, whispering “Sam” this time he gasped softly. I opened my eyes and was met with such intense longing looking back at me. I didn’t want to break the spell but I needed to be closer to him. I took hold of the hand on my face and brought it to my mouth to kiss as I sat up and he pulled me close to him. His eyes fearful.

 

“Please don’t run away”

I don’t think my legs would carry me.

This time I stroked his face, “I’m not running.”

 

Relief, joy, desire swept across his face and with both hands on my waist he picked me up and sat me across his lap. His strength surprised me and I laughed as he placed me down. His eyes were fixed on my face, searching for doubt.

 

He stroked my cheek again so softly it was like a feather. “Don’t run!” the words were breathless like a final prayer. He pulled me to him and kissed me.

 

Pulling away just enough to look at my eyes and reassure himself I wasn’t resisting. There was no resistance, guilt played at the edges of my mind but my growing feelings for this man won out.

 

“Angie…” again like a prayer.

 

He pulled me close again and this time the kiss was hard, demanding. Our mouths opened to each other, exploring, caressing. His hands held me so tight against him. I caressed the back of his neck with one hand and gripped his shirt at the chest with the other. He kissed at my neck, grabbing my hair to make me tilt my head to give him access.

Oh! Oh God I need this!

I felt the kisses rain down on me. Hot, so hot and breathless, his tongue danced on my pulse point and I let out a sound I’d never made before. I felt him smile against my neck before placing more kisses in that spot making me sigh. “Oh Sam!” I moaned quite overwhelmed.

 

He brought the kisses back up my neck to my lips once more, now more gentle, less urgent but filled with tenderness and desire and I reciprocated. Finally, breathless he stopped and looked at me again, eye’s heavy lidded with desire. His hands explored my body slowly over my clothes and his touch made me ache.

I need to feel you.

I slipped a hand under his light sweater, hard muscle covered in hot smooth skin. I slid my hand to his chest, finding some hair there I ran my fingers through it. I buried my head in his neck, kissing and licking just below his ear I felt him shift beneath me in response and a soft ‘oh!’ fell from his lips. I bit playfully at his earlobe and he shifted again. I became aware of his growing arousal against my hip and deliberately rubbed against him. “Christ Angie!” he gasped, and I did it again before beginning to lower my hand stroking across his hardening nipples and down his abdomen. I had just reached the button of his jeans when he stopped me.

 

“Not here.”

What? Why? Don’t stop now please!

In truth I’d lost all sense of who, what or where I was. Every nerve in my body was alive, every thought was Sam and I couldn’t remember ever wanting someone so much. He lifted me off his lap onto my feet and stood balancing on one leg.

 

I stood breathless before him as he smiled coyly. “I really want to take you by the hand and lead you to my room, but these crutches, need both hands.” He reached for the crutches. Putting one under each arm. “So, I’m just going to have to hope you follow me” he said moving off towards the stairs.

 

Reader, I followed.

 

In his room I closed the door behind me and followed him within. His room had full length windows looking over the rear of the lodge, and the white snow fluttering about on the other side reflected the thoughts that whirled in my mind chaotically but struggling to find a place to rest.

Ange what are you doing?

You’re doing what feels right, feels good!

But, Daniel?

Is dead! Is gone! Sam is here, is real.

Sam laid his crutches against the wall and turned to sit on his bed, it was clear from his face he was frustrated by the limitations his injured foot was causing. He looked up at me and reached for my hand pulling me to him. I stood before him, breathless, aching, completely captivated. He brushed the backs of my hands with his thumbs as he looked up at me his blue eyes blazing.

 

“Angie, I…” he was equally breathless. “Are you sure you want this?”

No! Yes!

Oh God Yes with every fibre of my being.

I nodded, words were not possible right now, sensation consumed me.

 

He took hold of my waist and pulled me to him standing between his legs, I held his face in my hands, my fingertips in his hair. I leaned down and kissed him softly, he let out a sigh against my lips and it made me shiver. His hands wrapped around me and pulled me tight against him then twisted me round and I fell on my back on the bed laughing with surprise.

 

He crawled over me, straddling my hips with his knees, his face hovering above mine, a smile on his lips I hadn’t seen before; mischievous and shy all at once. It took my breath away.

 

He sat up on his knees, pulled off his sweater and stared breathlessly down at me.

Muscular, his chest wide and firm, his abs clearly defined in a six pack that would be the envy of many a man.

God he is beautiful.

I reached out and stroked my hands down his chest, crossing his nipples making him moan as my hands caressed him. He slid his hands up my sides, grabbing at the sweater I was wearing and pulling it upward to reveal my bra covered breasts. I found myself rocking my hips against him he gave me a look that made me giggle, it said “be careful or this’ll be over before you know it.”

 

He leaned down and kissed my soft stomach, nowhere near as firm as his, but right now he didn’t seem to mind. He flicked his tongue around my navel, and I squealed, always ticklish there. He grinned up at me wickedly and did it again, making me squeal again, he was loving the power he had over me. His kisses rose up between my breasts, he nuzzled in the cleavage the bra created and I arched my back up to him. His hands slid beneath me unclasping the bra then in a clean firm movement he slid his hands upwards, and my arms rose above my head as my sweater and my bra were lifted up along them and tossed to one side. His mouth fell hungrily on my bare breasts, he kissed and licked around my nipples and they responded rising to every little touch. His hands lowered again now stroking my breasts, kneading them beneath his large hands.

 

His eyes moved up from my chest back to mine. “Beautiful” he whispered softly and I pulled his head back to mine to kiss him again as he caressed me. My fingertips pressed into his firm back. He pressed hard against me, I could feel his arousal hard against my pelvis and I rocked against it. He gave me that look again as he pulled away from kissing me. He rolled to the side and his hand lowered to my waist, popping open the button of my jeans and sliding the zip down. His hand slipped down over my underwear cupping the hot mound between my legs which opened freely. He moaned, almost a soft growl. “You’re so wet!” his fingers pushed against the fabric into me and my eyes rolled into the back of my head and I arched my back.

 

“Sam!” his name was all I could muster, it was all I could think and he was all I could feel.

 

He stroked gently over the wet cloth, I pushed myself against his fingers demanding more, demanding him. I opened my eyes and he was watching me writhe beneath his touch his expression hungry but full of wonder at this power he held over me. I suddenly understood the term exquisite torture; it felt like too much, like it would sweep me away and be the end of me but not for one second would I wish for it’s end because it was so incredibly beautiful.

 

He slipped his hand beneath the elastic of my underwear now, slipping fingers between the hot wet folds between my legs, feeling the healthy mound of pubic hair which surrounded them. He seemed to like that especially and leaned down and kissed me hard as his fingers firmly stroked me and all I could see were stars, thousands and thousands of bright lights behind my closed eyes as he brought me closer and closer to oblivion. He lifted his head and I opened my eyes again, locked on his, those incredible deep blue pools so full of desire. I moaned loudly as the release came and pushed my pelvis hard against his hand. I could see the pleasure this brought him as he watched me completely surrender to him.

 

He continued to caress me, wanting more from me and I reached for him. “Please, I need you.” I felt like I would die if he wasn’t inside me the need was so primal! I pulled him back on top of me, he slid my jeans and underwear down along my legs, crawling back up my body as he unfastened his jeans. He lowered them and his underwear down his hips laughing awkwardly as he tried to pull them below his knees as he was kneeling and then finally kicked them off the ground, struggling to get over the cast on his foot. He was truly magnificent, his hard cock mirroring the hardness of his muscular body. I reached for him and rocked my hips up wantonly. He obliged, leaning over me on one elbow as he guided himself between my legs. He paused briefly at first contact, letting my wetness coat the tip and making me moan in frustration. Then finally, the glorious sting as he entered my body, I stretched around him and as he pushed slowly deeper I sank my nails into his back and he moaned this time a low sound from deep within him.

 

He moved slowly at first, long, deep strokes within me his eyes locked with mine in unspoken passion, I pulled him closer, my nails scratching down his back and he buried his face in my neck as he started to move more urgently, grunting and moaning next to my ear as he thrust deeper and harder each time. I could feel the heat of his breath and I nuzzled at his neck nipping at his shoulder with my teeth. This seemed to send him over the edge and his moan was like a sigh and a scream at once. He slowed and stopped thrusting, his breathing fast and hard on my neck, his weight heavy and comforting along my body. I held him tight, my arms and legs wrapped around him, keeping him close, he was still inside me and I didn’t want this moment to ever end.

Could anything feel so perfect?

After some moments I felt gentle butterfly kisses on my ear, and his head lifted, his eyes were glistening his hand brushed my face and he leaned down and kissed me softly. A smile crept across his face. “You didn’t run”

 

I couldn’t help but laugh, “No… no I didn’t.”

I can’t promise I won’t.

I don’t trust myself.

After a short while biology intervened, he was no longer inside me and it was like a spell was broken. I relaxed my hold on him, letting my legs fall and my arms caressed his neck and back gently. He moved back onto his side, supporting his head on an elbow as his other hand caressed my body his eyes following it, taking in the view. Then he suddenly pulled me to him, falling in his back, my head against his shoulder he wrapped me tightly in his arms and I curled a leg over one of his. One hand was trapped beneath me but the other traced circles on his chest.

 

He kissed my nose and I smiled up at him. “Well, that was unexpected!” I giggled shyly and I felt his body shake with laughter beneath me.

 

“Was it Angie?… I thought … well I …” how he could blush now after what we’d just done I don’t know, but he managed it. “I’ve wanted you since I held you on the plane. I’m not in the habit of… with someone I just met but… I can’t explain it… I just wanted you.” He kissed my forehead and squeezed me tight.

I am safe, and warm, and peaceful and oh so satisfied.

Nothing else matters!

We pulled the covers over us and slept in each other’s arms.

 

I must still be dreaming because I couldn’t remember the last time I woke feeling so completely relaxed and peaceful.

 

I was still wrapped in his arms, more loosely now, one hand resting on my hip and the other in my hair. My eyes still closed I could feel the rise and fall of his chest steady and strong, his heartbeat thumping, his breathing soft and light. I moved my fingers on his chest and heard his breath catch, he was awake. I opened my eyes and met his looking right back at me. His fingers moved in my hair, his other hand sliding up my body to stroke my face.

 

“Hi!” he said, there was a hint of insecurity behind his intense gaze. I smiled and stretched like a cat.

 

“Hi there.” I had no idea what time it was, it had been mid-afternoon when we headed upstairs. It was dark outside, the snow still swirling madly outside.

How long did we sleep?

Was it still evening?

Or middle of the night now?

“You, OK?” he asked, again that insecurity peeking through.

That’s my fault, for running. I’m sorry Sam!

I smiled and let out a satisfied “Hmm” he seemed to like that. He leaned across and kissed me gently lifting away again, his eyes sparkling at me.

 

“Your eyes” I murmured, moving my hand to brush an eyelid gently with a fingertip. “Do you realise what those eyes could do?”

 

He smirked and cocked his head curiously. “Tell me.” his fingertips had moved to tracing decreasing circles around my breast, drawing closer to the nipple.

 

I chewed my lip and grinned “Those eyes could start and end wars, those eyes could have every woman on her knees in seconds, those eyes could end world hunger and start world peace.” his threw his head back laughing.

 

“OK OK stop, please!”

Not so good at accepting compliments yourself I see.

“It’s true!”

 

“Whatever you say Angie, I’ll believe anything you tell me.” His smile was so bright I felt my heart swell with joy that I had a part to play in it.

 

I looked up at him in wonder. “I don’t know why you even looked at me but…. but right now, I’m not going to question it.” His finger had reached my nipple and it responded obediently swelling and rising beneath the feather light touch. I gasped and he covered my open mouth with his, his tongue dancing with mine.

This really can’t be real.

We kissed and caressed each other gently, the urgency of earlier had passed and now we just let ourselves enjoy being together.

 

He propped himself up on his elbow again after a while. “Are you hungry?”

 

As if on cue my stomach growled loudly and I covered my face with my hand in embarrassment.

 

He chuckled and started to sit up saying “Do not move… I’ll be right back.” I began to protest, but when his cast hit the floor hard the groan from him interrupted my protest and I sat up behind him on my knees in concern. Leaning around, “Ooh are you OK? Did you forget?” he nodded silently, his eyes glistening with tears, swallowing hard.

That’s hurt more than he wants to let on.

Poor thing, literally brought tears to his eyes.

I wrapped my arms around him from behind and squeezed tight, burying my face in his neck and kissing it over and over. His hands rested on mine where they joined at his chest. We stayed like that a while, until I felt his body start to relax, the pain easing. I released him and crawled to the edge of the bed so I could stand up.

 

“You’re never going to be able to bring food up here on crutches. I’ll go.”

 

His turn to protest, he grabbed my hand brought it to his lips. “We’ll both go and eat downstairs.”

Stubborn!

I nodded and we started to dress again. Before I opened the door so we could leave he pulled me to him and kissed me hard leaving me almost staggering out the door in a daze much to his amusement.

 

It turned out we hadn’t slept long at all, it was 7:30 pm and Paul was anxiously waiting in the foyer for us to come down so he could signal Mark that we were ready. I caught a knowing look pass between Paul and Sam. I wondered if Sam had revealed his feelings for me when they were out at the hospital. Paul seemed happy enough and we settled at our usual table.

 

It was familiar, the surroundings, where we sat, the people nearby, the face across the table. Yet, it was different, and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

My heart still feels like it could pound out of my chest.

I’m so confused!

Oh but being here feels… right.

Forgive me Daniel!

Sam poured the wine and Paul confirmed our orders. We had always chosen our dinner at breakfast time making it easier for Mark to prepare since it was just the two of us, but Paul, ever the gracious host, always confirmed when we sat down.

 

We didn’t speak for quite a while, just smiled knowingly at each other, each holding the others hand gently, stroking with our thumbs.

 

Remembering…

 

The food was devoured hungrily, we had both quite an appetite. We continued the glances and smiles between us as we ate. As we finished dessert we both noticed what sounded like a heated conversation between Sarah and Paul in the back. We couldn’t hear exactly what was said but it seemed Paul didn’t want her to do something and she disagreed.

None of my business, stop listening!

Feeling a little awkward we moved further away to the lounge as soon as we’d finished eating, not waiting for Paul to come and take the plates. I set Sam up with the footstool again, it was clear he was still in some pain and I asked if he’d taken any painkillers. He pulled me onto his lap grinning.

 

“This is all I need.” he wrapped his arms around me and I rested my head against his shoulder.

 

“Oh Sam!” I found myself sighing. “I don’t deserve this.”

I really don’t! I’m just a nobody from nowhere!

He squeezed me tighter. “No Angie… I don’t, but I’m not letting you go.”

 

I felt so peaceful there, in his arms, my mind started to wander and I began speaking quietly without really realising what I was starting. It just felt right.

It’s time.

“You should know … why I’m here… what happened to me.” He started to reply, to protest I thought, and I cut him off. “I want to tell you… and I will cry, just let me OK? I want to tell you everything.”

 

I felt him nod and he whispered, “I’m here.” Telling me he would listen.

 

“You know I was married, his name was Daniel, and he was my soulmate. We only met 8 years ago, via a dating app … a proper one not one of those hook up apps. We were both looking for ‘the one’. He was smart, a geek like me, we liked the same shows and we both had the same weird sense of humour. I knew after our first date… he kissed me and hugged me goodnight and I could feel his arms around me for days after.”

 

The tears started to fall but I continued, “He proposed on top of Blackpool Tower after two and half years together and we got married after five years.” I toyed with the ring on my finger, watching it twist and move. “It was special, I can’t explain it, I know everyone falls in love and they think this is it. But with Daniel… there wasn’t a second of doubt, ever, it felt like I’d discovered a piece of me that had been missing and now we were together we were whole.”

 

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.

This is the hard part. You can do it!

Sam was motionless, still holding me. “We were actually coming back from Blackpool, the illuminations, we’d taken my parents, they were in their eighties and Blackpool was always a nice day out.” Another deep breath.

 

You can do this.

 

“I was pregnant, seven months, we’d tried for years, and we’d given up, then out of the blue, two little lines…”

 

Another breath, I could feel the tears streaming. I’d never ever done this with anyone, told the whole story.

 

“On the motorway, as I said, heading back home. It had been a great day, my parents really enjoyed the seaside. There was a Lorry driver, I found out after, he was drunk and on his mobile, going too fast. He hit the car, they said, at 80 Mph. Didn’t even realise until he’d pushed us in front of his rig a couple of miles down the road. The car was destroyed.”

 

I felt Sam’s embrace tighten. I silently thanked him. I was starting to sob as I spoke, but true to his word, he stayed quiet.

 

“I was unconscious for 3 days…. When I woke up…. In the hospital… the baby… they’d had to take the baby early trying to save him, that’s the scar on my stomach, but he didn’t make it … and neither did anyone else in the car. Just me.” I felt Sam take a deep breath as I sobbed into his shoulder. A hand rising to stroke my hair. “I never named him. He never drew breath, it didn’t feel right.”

 

“Angie…” He whispered, “Oh Angie, I’m so sorry.”

 

He stayed quiet then, holding me, stroking my hair and letting me cry until I ran out of tears.

So yes I’m broken Sam! And you deserve better.

“And that…” I finished once calmed. “…Is why you found me having a panic attack in an airport lounge”

 

I lifted my head a little and he placed a gentle kiss on my forehead, I could see he had shed some tears of his own. I brushed at their tracks on his cheek with my fingers.

 

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you cry too.” He shook his head and leaned down to kiss me gently.

 

“I just can’t believe you’ve been through all that… and are here now… with me. I can’t even begin to imagine…”

I’m not sure I believe it either lovely man.

I smiled up at him “You’re the first person I’ve ever told that whole story to…. Even my therapist didn’t get it all at once out loud… it feels right… thank you!” I nuzzled back into his shoulder. “I will feel guilty about this, about us… I know I will… it’s so stupid that I will, but I’m screwed up that way … but right now I just want to be right here. Is that, OK?”

 

He held me tighter. “More than OK Angie.”

 

He kissed the top of my head and we sat in front of the fire, him holding me tight on his lap, stroking my hair and whispering sweet nothings into my ear for what felt like hours after which he asked, and I consented, and we headed back to his room and fell asleep again in each other’s arms.

Chapter Text

I am the worst wife ever.

How could I do this to my beloved?

Who was I?

Guilt, it had been there, in the back of my mind, locked away screaming at me through the heavy door I had closed the night before last. I had chosen after I had run from that kiss and let guilt rule my actions that I had to fight back. I had to move forward, that’s why I was here and that was how I had allowed myself to surrender to my feelings for Sam. I had no thought of where it would lead I just wanted to feel pleasure rather than pain.

 

As I lay watching the sun rise through the large windows, the door I had closed in my mind was cracked open and I let out a deep sigh. Sam slept soundly next to me, a golden glow around him as the early morning sun cast a gentle light into the darkness of the room. I watched him breathing, a slight curl of a smile playing on his lips.

What’s happening in your dreams sweet man?

I remembered, lying next to Daniel, so many times, watching him as he slept and wondering about his dreams. I closed my eyes and spoke to him in my mind as I had done so often since the accident.

Forgive me my love, I was yours forever… you know that.

As he had done so often, in my mind, I heard him speak back to me.

Be happy my Angel, I don’t want you to be alone.

My heart ached, and a tear escaped my eye. Sam shifted slightly and it snapped me back from that other world in my mind to where I was. I couldn’t help but smile, he was snuggled under the covers on his side facing me, a hand resting on my waist.

Has it really only been four days?

Well with Daniel I fell fast and hard.

This feels right, like that was.

Was it possible ‘The one’ was more than one man?

I shook my head at the silly girlishness of the thought.

Your getting carried away you fool. This is … wonderful, but odds are it won’t last.

I didn’t like that thought very much but I had to be realistic. I could still enjoy it while it did last though.

 

Blue eyes blinked open sleepily before me, that curl in his lips forming a real smile as he saw me. His hand stroked up my body brushing my breast before caressing my neck making me shiver.

 

“Now there’s a sight I could get used to waking up to.” His voice low and croaky with sleep.

 

It took everything I had in me not to bat away the compliment. I knew it would spoil the moment.

What did he see in me? I’m no model, I’ve never been a beauty.

Instead, I turned the tables on him. “I have to say I’m enjoying my view rather a lot too…” I smirked and ran my hand across his chest. “You are rather easy on the eye you know?”

 

He blushed and feigned excessive pride “Well I’ve heard it said once or twice… from my army of adoring fans.”

 

I laughed. “I’m glad fame hasn’t gone to your head!”

 

For a second, he seemed uncomfortable.

Did I hit a nerve there?

He shifted and gently pushed me onto my back and rolled into me kissing hard and taking my breath away.

 

“Hush woman…” he said huskily as he pulled away. “… and let me worship you.” He kissed hard again on my lips then my jaw, my neck, moving lower with each kiss his body covering mine . I stroked his back with my hands, moving up his back as he moved down my body. He kissed my stomach, gently pressing into the soft flesh, remembering to make me squeal by flicking his tongue around my navel. Then he found the c-section scar, tracing it lightly with his finger, looking up at me, making sure this was ok, then kissing it tenderly, from one end to the other. My fingers slipped into his hair gripping and stroking and I felt him hum against my skin. He continued his movement down and I gasped as I felt his breath against my pubic hair. Kisses fell gently on the folds within gently at first, then harder, his tongue parting the folds and exploring within making me moan his name.

 

Supporting himself on one arm, his other hand slid up my hip, across my stomach to my breast, squeezing and kneading it as he continued his ministrations between my legs. His tongue found the spot he’d been seeking, hard and aching for attention and Sam was happy to oblige. Dancing his tongue around the hard bud, flicking it occasionally making me shudder. I was completely helpless beneath him, my eyes closed, my body singing from every nerve, my breath panting as I felt the orgasm begin to build within me. Finally breaking against him, I gripped his hair and cried out in exquisite release, he continued keeping me on the wave of ecstasy and I rocked against him until I thought I would die from pure pleasure.

 

That wonderful bundle of nerves was so sensitive now, it was starting to move from pleasure to pain and still gripping his hair I guided him away panting heavily. “Enough.. I can’t… it’s too much.” I looked down at him as he moved back up my body, his eyes burning with lust he crawled over me like a predator. He lifted my breast in his fingers and took it in his mouth, sucking, licking and gently biting at the nipple then moving to the other. I could feel my hips rocking up to him, seeking him, he looked up at me as he sucked on a nipple, a mischief in his eyes. He was enjoying tormenting me. The ache within me was so powerful, the need to be joined with him I moaned his name again with a plea. “Sam… please… I need you.”. I heard a soft chuckle, and he continued kissing my breasts. I couldn’t bear it… “Sam!” the cry was desperate and he knew he’d hit my limit. He lifted his head and kissed my lips softly before sitting up on his knees, looking down at me completely breathless and overcome.

 

A satisfied smile on his face he lifted my hips and guided himself into me and rocked against me slowly staying sat up on his knees holding my hips firmly. I tried to reach for him, but my short arms couldn’t reach him in this position and his mischievous smile returned. “Relax Angie, I’m worshipping you remember, you don’t have to do anything.”

Relax? Are you kidding?

My arms fell to the bed beside me and I gripped the sheets needing something to ground me. Our hips rocked together, the feeling of him deep within me was intense, I pushed, wanting him deeper, closer. I was overcome with need and I was aware of tears falling from my eyes. I could feel that growing feeling within me again, as we thrust together harder, faster, he was watching me and as I fell over the edge once more pulsing around him within me, he fell with me, a long moan as he held me firm to him breathless, his body glistening with sweat.

 

After a few moments he relaxed his hold and lowered my hips as he crawled over me again. Still breathless his face hovered above mine, his eyes searching my face and I couldn’t wait another second. I grabbed his head in my hands and pulled him down to kiss me.

 

“Angie” he whispered his voice full of emotion, his body relaxing over me and his head nuzzling into my neck “What are you doing to me?”

 

I held him against me, in that moment he seemed so vulnerable, and I felt an overwhelming urge to soothe and protect him.

 

What am I doing to HIM?

He just played me like a fiddle and I was powerless to even try to reciprocate.

What has he done to me?

 

His breathing slowed against my neck his body was heavy as he fully relaxed, he became aware he was beginning to crush me and moved off to the side, lifting his head to look at me, his eyes were glistening with tears and I brushed one from his cheek. “Are you ok Sam?”

 

He smiled his eyes still searching my face and I couldn’t begin to know what he was thinking. “I’m happy…” he replied “…very, very happy… you… I ….” He laughed “I can’t speak I just want to look at you.” He brushed hair from my face and looked at me with such tenderness it took my breath away.

What does he see?

Is he just doing what he thinks I want?

It seems real, he has tears for goodness sake… why?

What the hell AM I doing to him?

I didn’t know what to say. I just watched his face as he watched mine. My thoughts grew more and more insecure and eventually I had to look away. “Sam… please stop.”

 

His hand brought me back to face him. “You’re beautiful Angie, you really are. I wish you knew… I wish you could see.”

 

He kissed me gently seeing that I wasn’t going to allow him to keep staring at me. He turned and started to get out of bed, this time remembering to lower his broken ankle more gently to the ground. “I’m not going to stop telling you… ever.” he told me turning back.

Ever?

Like Forever?

He held out his hand. “Shower?” I took his hand and followed him to sit on the edge of the bed. I saw my clothes on the floor and realised my clean clothes were across the hall in my room.

I need some time alone.

I can’t think when I’m with him.

“Do you mind … if I shower in my room? All my stuff is there, I need to freshen up properly.”

 

He nodded “Well, as much as I will miss you … ok.” He leaned across and kissed me. He released my hand and I stood, dressing in my clothes from yesterday as he headed into his bathroom. As I opened the door to leave, he shouted out to me. “See you for breakfast beautiful!” I smiled and crossed to my room.


 

I probably took longer than usual to shower and change. I could feel his touch on my skin, the memory of his kisses kept taking my breath away as I stood under the hot shower. The time alone finally allowed my thoughts to assess what had happened the previous day without being influenced by Sam’s touch or those eyes.

Oh those eyes…

I sat at the dresser blow drying my hair, watching myself in the mirror.

What did he see?

What I saw was normal middle-aged me. My body soft, a layer of fat where Sam was hard and lean, nothing special about my face. People had told me I had nice eyes, and yes, I could see that, but nothing else; my lips were too big, my nose didn’t have the delicacy I admired in so many other women, my skin was pale with tones of red. I rarely wore make up, I’d always been a low maintenance woman, I got that from my mum. I remembered the way he had looked at me, and I asked again.

What did he see?

I spent longer than I ever had choosing an outfit. It had stopped snowing, I would probably go outside at some point.

God knows I need fresh air!

Jeans will do fine.

Breakfast first so no point wrapping up too warm yet.

I settled for a brushed cotton plaid shirt style top which fitted at my waist, leaving a few buttons open at the top I guessed it was as good as I was going to get. I took a deep breath and headed downstairs.

 

Paul and Sam were in deep conversation serious expressions on their faces when I entered the dining room, both seeming alarmed to see me. There was something on the table, a newspaper?

No can’t be, we don’t get newspapers here.

Something is really not right!

“What’s wrong?” I had an overwhelming feeling of dread.

 

They looked at each other, Sam nodded at Paul and Paul got up and went into the back.

 

“Angie, I don’t know if I should but… I need to tell you something. Sit down, please.”

 

I sat down slowly, watching Sam struggle with his emotions, he was angry, not at me I knew that, but whatever he was going to tell me had made him angry. “I’m sorry Angie.” he said and slid the newspaper across the table to me. I frowned as I pulled it to me and looked down.

What could it be?

What it was, was a series of pictures; Sam and I in Seattle airport, me sat in his lap sleeping, his arm around me as we waited to board the plane, a blurry shot of Sam holding me next to him on the plane that looked like it had been taken on a phone and multiple shots of us arriving at Anchorage and getting into the same car. The headline “Who is Heughan’s new homely honey?” I stared at the pictures, I could see it was me, but it felt like someone else.

How were these taken?

Who took them?

What right did they have?

How dare they?

My mind couldn’t quite comprehend the full implications of what I was seeing.

 

“I thought there was no access to news here.”

 

Sam nodded “Paul picked up the paper and some magazines for Sarah when we were in town, they don’t usually tell guests anything that’s happening outside but they keep up themselves… but Sarah had seen this yesterday and thought we should know … well, thought you should know… I… I expect this crap but ….” He sighed heavily “Angie I’m sorry… there’s more.”

 

I swallowed and looked up at him. “More?”

How could there be more?

He nodded grimly “They discussed it last night, that’s what we could hear them talking about. Paul had wanted to make sure it wasn’t just a stupid story in the local rag. They went online last night… yeah they have that too back there… the pictures are in some magazines, tabloids in the UK, they’re online… somehow… they have your name, they know who you are… it wouldn’t be fair to hide it from you.”

 

I blinked at him.

This is unreal. How could they know who I am?

“I’m sorry Angie, this is my fault. I should have known better. I didn’t think I’d been spotted at the airport. I should have left you alone…” he looked genuinely pained, his jaw was twitching, he couldn’t meet my eye and I realised much of the anger I could see was being directed at himself. I couldn’t allow that. I reached across the table and took his hand.

 

“This is not your fault Sam….” He shook his head, determined to take the blame and I squeezed his hand harder. “Who are we to question fate right?” I asked him.

This is my penance… for my betrayal.

He lifted his head to me. “Angie… you’ll get no peace… you don’t need this.”

 

I couldn’t deny that thought did frighten me but I had a thought. “Do they know where we are, exactly?”

 

He shook his head “No, there was no evidence of that at least and Paul has already arranged extra security just in case.”

 

I marvelled at the lengths Paul went to for his guests. I already knew a condition of staying here was signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement stating you would not discuss who else was staying there with you with the outside world. I’d had to send it to him before he would confirm my stay.

 

“So we have one and half more weeks, here, away from all that right?”

 

He tried a slight smile, squeezing my hand back. “Yes, yes we do.”

So let’s cross the bridge when we come to it.

“So, there’s just one thing I need to do, then we’ll forget about it ok?”

 

“What do you need?” he asked starting to look more relaxed. Like me he seemed happy to put the outside world behind us for now.

 

“I need to call Hayley, if she’s seen this, and she probably has, she’ll be freaking out.”

She’ll be going completely nuts!

Sam nodded, “Let’s have breakfast and I’m sure Paul will arrange that for you… Angie how are you so calm?” he looked in wonder at me.

I honestly don’t know.

I’ve become an expert in pretending all is well.

I smiled and let out a nervous laugh “I don’t think it’s really hit me yet… don’t worry it won’t last.”

 

I looked back down at the paper.

Heughan’s homely honey. See… not beauty… homely.

Sam snatched it away and tossed it to the table behind him. “Bastards” he muttered. “They have no right.” I reached across and grabbed both his hands.

 

“I’m glad you didn’t leave me alone Sam…”

 

He finally met my eye, that warmness, that intensity I had tried to avoid in the bedroom starting to come back to his expression. “Me too.” He said softly.

 

Paul came out, sensing it was safe to do so, we ordered breakfast and while we waited for Mark to prepare it Paul told us he had two private security agents on their way. They would patrol the area immediately around the lodge and wherever we decided to spend time. He commented that Sam breaking his ankle had been a blessing because it meant he wasn’t likely to wander off far away. We chuckled at that. Sam had offered to meet the cost of the agents, but Paul wouldn’t have it. “All part of the service” he told him. “We do what we need to in order to protect your privacy. You won’t even know they’re there.”

 

I asked about calling Hayley, “How about a video call?” he offered. “Might be more reassuring for you both if you can see each other.” I nodded; Paul was a very intuitive man. “I’ll set up the laptop for you, let me know when you’re ready.” I agreed and we agreed between us that once that was done, none of this would be discussed again unless there was any danger of our privacy being breached. In this case, ignorance, for two weeks anyway, would be bliss, or so we hoped.


 

“Oh my God Ange…!” Hayley’s face showed me immediately, she was fully aware of what was happening and was not one bit happy. “What the hell are you doing with Sam Heughan? Are you ok? I thought you had no internet, why are you calling? Are you coming home?”

Oh my goodness Hayley, give me a chance.

I laughed, looking over the laptop in front of me to Sam who sat at the other side of the table, he’d offered to give me privacy with Hayley, but I felt I needed to reassure him I wasn’t hiding anything, that I wasn’t secretly really upset.

 

He raised an eyebrow at the barrage of questions and smirked.

Ah yes, well I did you about Hayley!

She’s a force of nature.

I looked back at the screen. “It’s a long story, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t freaking out… and I see you are.”

 

“Yes I’m bloody freaking out, my best friend is being bitched about in crappy magazines… and it’s bullshit Ange, and I can’t say anything cos it’ll make it worse. I had a bloody journalist on the phone this morning asking about you Ange… they know what happened… found the articles about the accident… if I find out who let them freaks know who you are I’ll bloody throttle them.”

Hmm if they’re calling Hayley, they know more than who I am… they know who my friends are.

“I’m sorry lovely, are you ok? I don’t want you to be bothered by this.”

 

She rolled her eyes that way that was so familiar to me. “Oh, bugger me being bothered, I told the nosey bastard where he could stick his questions… they won’t bother me again. I’m more worried about you. How the hell did this happen? I dropped you off at Heathrow and you’re cuddled up with bloody Jamie Frasier less than a day later. What the actual fuck Ange? Did you fly into the fucking twilight zone?”

How do I explain it?

Sam was chuckling behind the screen, and it was making me smile.

I’m glad you’re enjoying this!

“I don’t know how to explain it… he was helping me.” Sam couldn’t watch me struggle any more. He stood and hobbled round the table and sat beside me. Hayley’s face was an absolute picture as he came into view.

 

“Hi Hayley” he greeted her. I watched her swallow hard and take a deep breath before answering.

 

“Hi… erm… what… erm… bloody hell!” we all laughed.

I’ve never seen Hayley speechless.

“Angie was having a tough time on the journey, I saw her in Seattle, she was having a panic attack and I tried to help.” Sam explained grinning.

 

I looked at him warmly taking hold of his hand. “You did help!” I corrected him.

 

Hayley looked back at us open mouthed.

Well at least if she’s quiet she’s not shouting at me.

“Hayley, what matters is …. Why I called… I wanted you to know I knew what was going on, but I’m OK… I’m staying here as planned and I’m going back offline after this call. You don’t need to worry OK? Just keep giving the nosey bastards hell.” I smiled as reassuringly as I could at her.

There’s so much I want to talk about but it will have to wait.

“Oh I will … I think it was that bloody woman from the local rag… remember she was hounding you after the accident, wanting a big story. I bet as soon as she saw them pictures she grabbed her moment… bitch! Ange are you really ok? I’ve been so worried about you.”

 

I wished I could reach through the screen and hug her. Beneath the harsh exterior she was a teddy bear.

 

“I’m great… I really am Hayley, so much to tell you already. I’m so much better already.” She looked at me as if trying to read if I was being honest.

 

“You do seem happier.” She conceded.

 

Sam and I looked at each other, smiling, and she can’t have missed the sparks between us.

 

“You Heughan!” she snapped suddenly, and Sam flinched a little in surprise. “That is my best friend, and she is a very special woman…”

 

Sam nodded back at her “That she is.” I rolled my eyes and blushed.

 

Hayley continued “Well you’d better look after her because if you don’t …”

 

“Hayley!” I stopped her, mortified. “I can look after myself thank you… but for your information Sam is taking very good care of me… behave woman!”

 

She gave me a look I’d seen a thousand times. It said “Who do you think you’re talking to?” and I knew I had no chance.

 

She continued “… if you don’t, I don’t care where you are… I will find you… and you won’t be so pretty after that!”

 

“Oh my god!” I muttered and put my head in my hands. “Well now I regret calling you… I’m sorry Sam.”

Ugh! Sometimes she’s a bloody nightmare!

I looked up at Sam and he was laughing. He wrapped an arm around me and looked back at Hayley.

 

“You have my word Hayley.”

 

She nodded, still looking at him suspiciously “Fine … erm… and don’t worry, nobody will learn where you both are from me. I’m not entirely sure myself anyway.”

 

Sam nodded looking thoughtful “Listen, if it gets too nuts, with the journalists, I’m going to send you a number and email address in the chat box … it’s my agent, tell them I sent you to them, they’ll get you anything you need ok? I’m going send a note to them now.”

 

He typed the details into the laptop and Hayley looked surprised. He smiled up at her. “I’ve got to look after you too right, I’m guessing you ladies come as a package deal.” he grinned charmingly.

 

This time Hayley laughed, and her expression showed she was impressed. “You bet we do! Thanks, I appreciate that.”

 

We finished off the call and Sam fired off a quick email to his Agent instructing them to do what they could do to stop too much being made public about me and should Hayley contact them, to help in any way they could. I was overwhelmed with his concern for me, he hadn’t said anything about himself.

 

We’d decided to get some air, there was too much fresh snow on the ground for Sam to walk through on the crutches so we just wrapped up and sat out on the swinging bench in the porch. Sam pulled me across his lap again, he liked holding me that way he told me. We sat quietly for a while, gently swinging, my head resting against his shoulder, he was looking far out into the mountains.

 

“Wishing you were out there?” I asked quietly interrupting his thoughts.

 

“Only if you were with me.” He answered and kissed my forehead.

He is so sweet it makes my heart ache.

“Charmer!” I teased and bit lightly at his earlobe.

 

He feigned shock “Hey! Don’t get me going again Angie, we’ll definitely fall off this swing!”

 

“Oh you like that eh?” I bit again and he moaned.

Ah ha! A little power I had over him

I smiled and nuzzled back into his shoulder. I had to admit I liked that I could have this effect on him.

 

He held me close and stroked my hair lazily. Something was on his mind, I wondered if he was still brooding over the events of the morning.

 

“Sam, please don’t let those stupid pictures spoil your time here. We’re both safe.”

 

He looked down at me and smiled. “I know, it’s not that …” he paused, and his jaw set hard, he was making a big decision. “Last night, you shared your story with me… I want to share mine but …” he sighed heavily “it seems so …. Trivial… in comparison.”

Oh silly man!

“It’s not a contest … it matters to you… it affected you… and you can tell me anything.”

 

It had begun to snow again, very lightly, tiny flakes falling around us.

 

He took a deep breath “Where to start …” he thought a moment more, “I told you the last time I was here was just as Outlander was getting big… the attention was… flattering but overwhelming. I’ve always been a pretty private person.”

 

I nodded and watched as his gaze was lost again to the Mountains. “It’s been intense, it’s a great fandom, they love the books, they love the characters and God knows why, they love me too.”

You’re the most magnificent man on earth that’s why…. Shh listen Angela.

“Mostly it’s OK, a bit overwhelming at first but the photo requests and autographs… not so bad. Most fans are respectful when I’m on my own time, some ask but then they let me carry on. Comes with the territory and I accepted that.”

 

He was looking away but I was watching his face, emotion masked.

 

“It makes it hard for relationships though, I can’t exactly take someone on a date and give them all my attention if other women are coming over asking for pictures… and some can get a little… frisky. So sometimes, well most times, it can be lonely.”

 

A slight frown creased his forehead. He took a deep breath. “So, a year ago I was at an event, a charity Gala, and I met Michelle.”

OK who’s Michelle? … shh listen!

“She told me she was in the business, a producer, we got along, had little too much champagne, did a little flirting and well…” he looked uncomfortable with this bit. “She stayed the night in my room.” He looked down at me coyly.

Don’t look at me like that, I’m not going to ask for details. I get the picture.

“I had an early call the next day and well she didn’t take too kindly when I asked her to leave… I was all for taking her number and I actually did intend to call her but there was something … off about the way she spoke to me that morning so I never did.” He sighed, “Not my usual style I assure you.” I smiled a little at him to let him know I understood.

 

He licked his lips, his jaw was hardening again, painful memories resurfacing and he was fighting back the emotions. “I forgot all about her to be honest, I was filming and weeks went by, then I saw her again as I left a meeting with Alex weeks later, standing across the street, in a different city. I should have known then.”

He shook his head “She was waiting for me. She told me she wanted to talk and I felt bad because, I did say I’d call, so, we went for coffee… and that’s when she told me… she was pregnant… and it was mine.”

You have a baby?

I must have gasped a little, he stroked my hair and pulled me closer.

 

“I was stunned… I believed her, I wanted to believe her, she showed me a scan photo and it had her name, and the date on it. She wanted us to be together, but I just wasn’t feeling it, and I can’t fake that… she didn’t like that… started threatening all kinds of lawsuits…. In the meantime, I think I’m going to be a Dad.”

 

The look on his face was filled with pain.

 

“I never really had my Dad around and I felt bad that there was this divide, I didn’t want it to be the same for my kid. My lawyer insisted on proof of paternity… I hadn’t even considered it might not be mine. She resisted for weeks, kept turning up wherever I was and trying to seduce me. I was getting uncomfortable with the situation. Finally, after two months, the truth came out… my lawyer arranged a private detective to follow her. She wasn’t pregnant, the photo was a fake, she was a fan obsessed and completely delusional”

 

I gasped again.

O.M.G that’s so awful!

“She’d gate-crashed the Gala event, and I’d been stupid and lonely enough to sleep with her that first night and now she thought we were going to have a life together.” He shook his head. “She was sick… she needed help. I felt… responsible.” He sighed “I tried to help… I encouraged her to go to a therapist, I would pay… but she just saw that as more encouragement… I came back to my apartment in LA one night after filming, thankfully I had a friend with me, she was there, sat outside the building in the pouring rain. She started ranting about how the doorman hadn’t recognised her as my girlfriend and wouldn’t let her in. She was all over me, and my friend and the doorman had to work together to keep her away. The police were called, and she was arrested. That was when I got a restraining order and for a few weeks it went quiet. I thought it was all done.”

 

He looked down, I smiled warmly up at him.

 

“You’re a kind man, to try to help her.” I said quietly. He squeezed me and shook his head.

 

“A foolish man… through the whole sorry tale…” he looked away again, “she somehow got onto set in LA as an extra. She sneaked into my trailer; I couldn’t get out fast enough when I saw her. Security escorted her out and she was arrested again for breaching the restraining order. She’d urinated all over my trailer. She was completely insane. That was the final straw.”

 

I gasped, he smiled reassuringly at me.

 

“That was too much, I had to prosecute to get her the help she needed. We managed to keep it out of the media. She won’t be able to get out without a Judge’s consent. All finally sorted a couple of weeks ago. I flew back to the UK but my head was in bits with it all. So I decided to come here.”

 

He let out a long breath then mirroring my own tale the previous night he finished with “And that is how you came to find me running away to hide from the world in Alaska for a few weeks.”

 

I squeezed myself tight against him. “That’s awful … oh my sweet man… I guess… in a way… you lost a baby too.”

 

The hand that had been lazily stroking my hair stopped and he sighed “Yeah… he was never real of course but I had this image, me and my boy, playing in the park… I still dream it sometimes.”

I know that feeling too well. My boy haunted my dreams too.

We sat silently again, swinging gently for a few minutes before he broke the silence.

 

“Your sweet man, eh?” he grinned down at me.

 

I chewed my bottom lip. “Uh huh… if… if that’s OK.”

 

He chuckled “That’s absolutely perfect… my angel.”

 

I gasped.

No, no that was Daniel’s name for me.

“No … sorry Sam… not that…” he looked a little hurt. “Daniel called me that… I can’t…”

I don’t want to upset you. I’ve just betrayed him enough.

He gently shushed me. “I understand, it’s ok… I won’t use it again.”

 

“I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t be… you were his Angel long before you were my anything… and you always will be I know.” He kissed me softly “We both have a past Angie.”

You are too perfect. Far too perfect.

“You know… you’re the only person who calls me that… Angie.” He seemed surprised.

 

“That’s the name you gave me.”

 

“No, I told you Angela, and you heard Hayley calls me Ange, and most other people do too. The rest just use Angela… I like Angie though… your Angie.” I smiled at him warmly.

 

“My Angie.” He said proudly and kissed me again.


A few days passed, the snow had cleared a little and Sam was itching to get outside. I suggested the Lake, it was further than he’d ever gone on the crutches, but he insisted he could make it.

 

We just reached the pebble shoreline as Sam was getting tired. I draped out the blanket and we sat together, enjoying the view.

 

He pointed the opposite shore “I saw you, when I was over there, I saw you sitting here alone. That day I had the accident.”

 

I nodded, remembering the day “I got a lot out of my system that day. First time really since the accident that I was completely alone. You were watching me?”

 

He wrapped his arm around me. “I saw you arrive and sit down, I didn’t watch for long. You looked lonely.”

 

The memory of that day brought a question I felt I could ask now, “The night before, what happened there? We had a really good night then all of sudden it was like you couldn’t get away from me fast enough.”

 

He blushed, looking away, “Angie, I had to get away from you cos all I wanted to do was kiss you, and more!” I raised a brow at him.

Oh! Well, that explains it. Oh my!

He continued “Whiskey makes me brave but stupid, and you weren’t sober either. Remember, what I’d just gone through when I’d been stupid with Michelle? It wouldn’t have been right… that’s why I went off early the next day… I needed some space from you to try to get myself together.”

 

I nuzzled into his neck “And how’s that working out for you?” I teased.

 

He held me close and kissed my forehead. “Perfect.”

 

We spent the afternoon there, Sarah had packed us a picnic and we enjoyed being completely alone, snuggled together surrounded by nature.

 

As we headed back, Sam was starting to complain of pain and tightness in his neck and shoulders, we agreed it was the crutches, he was a big man, all muscle and moving around putting his weight on his shoulders all the time was taking its toll.

 

Once back and in his room he pulled me to him and held me tight. “Shall we just stay here forever?” he murmured, “I don’t want to share you with anyone else.” he sounded quite stressed, his mind was already starting to jump ahead.

 

I squeezed him tight, “Let’s just enjoy this and take what comes tomorrow” I was concerned myself, not least because the memory of the photographers at the airport, the pictures that had been taken without us even knowing sent shivers through me. I didn’t like how tense he felt though and wanted to try to help ease that.

 

“Lie on the bed, face down.” I instructed him as I pulled away. He looked at me puzzled, and I smirked at him. “Top off, lay face down, I’m going to see if I can help with that pain in your shoulders.”

 

He seemed equally amused and intrigued as he unfastened his coat and threw it off, then pulled off his sweater over his head.

 

“Just the top?” he asked raising an eyebrow.

 

I raised an eyebrow back with a teasing smirk “Yes, or we’ll end up relieving tension in all the wrong places…. Lie down!”

 

He did as I instructed making it clear he quite enjoyed the authority I was exerting. I straddled him and started gentle, sliding my hands together up from the base of his spine to the top, stroking across his shoulder blades, he sighed softly, his head rested on his hands.

 

“You have a wonderful touch, Angie.” he murmured.

 

I started the same motion again but firmer this time, pressing into his muscles and repeated increasing the firmness each time. He groaned as I pressed on the tightness in his shoulder and neck, working out the stress with my fingers. He was flinching beneath me when I pressed on particularly sensitive areas.

 

“Still wonderful?” I asked smirking above him. I didn’t enjoy the fact that this was hurting him but I knew it was necessary to ease the pain he was already in.

 

His face was down now, buried in the bed covers and I could still hear the loud groan. “Yes… ugh.”

 

Eventually, I could feel the muscles start to move more freely beneath my touch as I worked out the knots and after a few minutes the groans grew quieter and less frequent. I eased off a little now on pressure and stroked more gently for a little while. I was enjoying this part, being able to touch him, to trace those muscles with my fingertips, it was hypnotic.

 

“Having fun?” he asked lifting his head.

 

I realised I’d zoned out and chuckled “Yeah, I am actually…. Has it helped?”

 

“Uh huh” he sounded so relaxed now, this was what I wanted. I leaned down and kissed the back of his neck. He responded with a low vibration from his throat, and I chuckled next to his ear lowering my body over his and resting my head between his shoulder blades. I loved being this close to him, just us, no interference, the real world a million miles away.

 

The next days past too fast, making love, sharing secrets and stories, being quiet together, and understanding that sometimes, we needed some time alone. We had trusted each other with our tales of woe, with our pain and grief, with our bodies and with our hearts. There was something unspoken between us but understood by both; we fit; it had been clear from the beginning. Fate was certainly a powerful and mysterious thing.

 

Now we faced our next challenge … time to leave.

 

Chapter Text

We had only allowed ourselves to talk about it two days before the end of our time in Alaska. Paul had contacted the airlines to make sure there was a wheelchair available for Sam for his return flights and he was planning to ensure we got to the plane at Anchorage with minimal public exposure. It was only then I discovered Sam’s destination would be LA, he had some ADR work to complete for Outlander. The reality was finally upon us, we would be separated in just a few days.

 

Sam asked me to go with him, and I considered it, very seriously, the idea of not being near him after twelve days of such intimacy made my heart ache. That afternoon, I had asked for some space, to think. He was understanding but I could tell he was nervous too. He spent the time in the gym and talking to Paul. I stayed in my room, looking out at the falling snow.

 

I could go with him, it would be the easy thing to do, stay close, try to keep the bubble alive.

It wouldn’t last though, as soon as we were out of here, he had work, commitments.

I would be a distraction.

I needed to have my own purpose too.

But he wanted me there, he said so.

He wasn’t being realistic; I couldn’t be his out there in his world.

Once he was surrounded by the rich and beautiful again, I would fast become a nuisance, a burden.

This had been a beautiful fairy-tale. I wanted the happy ending. I deserved it dammit!

This wasn’t just some holiday romance, it felt real, we felt right together.

Could I face the scrutiny if I did go?

I’d already seen what could happen, could I handle that?

Could I face letting him go? No… no I don’t think I can.

Had it been a mistake to surrender to this?

Had I set myself up for another emotional trauma?

How could I regret a second I’d spent with him?

I miss Hayley, I need her forthrightness right now.

Out there our worlds were so different.

Was there some way… some way to be his… for him to be mine and find a balance for us both?

It was a tough conversation that night. I had decided I would go home. Sam would go do his work and the time apart would be a good test to see if what we shared now would live in the real world.

 

He argued it was best I stayed with him at least initially because we didn’t really know the extent of the press interest and wouldn’t until we were back out in the world, he would feel better knowing I was safe and protected. So finally, we agreed that we would initially fly to LA together and I would spend two nights there before he had to go to work, and I would be flying back to England.

 


We’d made it to LA, it had been quite a shock to the system to be surrounded by people again. I had taken one pill, while we were at Seattle, just to keep my nerves steady as I’d started to feel overly anxious. I’d hardly needed them at all while at The Sanctuary, I’d had a few moments, but seen my way through them.

 

We were in a cab, heading towards Sam’s apartment. Thankfully the trip back had been uneventful. We were sleepy from flying and cuddled close as the car travelled through the city. Sam pointed out landmarks occasionally, but we were otherwise quiet. The doorman at the apartment building helped us bring up the bags. Sam addressed him like he would a friend and it was clear the man appreciated the respect being shown. His name was Tony, a tall African American man in his forties. He was smartly dressed for his job, but his size was intimidating enough to show he was as much a bouncer as he was a greeter. He showed concern for Sam’s injury and made sure to let him know he’d offer any extra help that might be needed. He was warm and polite to me and as Sam told him I was to be added to the access list he raised a brow and smiled. “I’ll make sure to do it right away.” he told us before heading off.

 

The apartment was spacious, views over the Hollywood hills could be seen from the full length windows which covered the exterior wall and I could see there was a balcony. The furnishings were modern with a neutral colour scheme, there were some ornaments, artwork but on first glance I couldn’t see much that personalised the décor. Sam explained that he’d been renting here since he started on Outlander and it was his “base” when in the US. However, he didn’t consider it Home, that was his house near Glasgow.

 

“I can’t wait to take you there.” He whispered in my ear as he pulled me close and nibbled on my neck. “I think you’ll like it.”

 

He gave me a brief tour, the whole living space and kitchen was open plan so didn’t really need much description, there were sliding doors leading out onto the balcony and a guest room and bathroom, then the master suite, a super-king-size bed sat in the centre of the sparsely decorated room. It faced the windows and Sam demonstrated the sliding doors in this room and led me out onto the balcony which ran all along the side of the apartment. I leaned up against the railing, looking out over Hollywood, it was winter, but the sky was clear and it still felt warm, it felt unreal.

 

Now I really do feel like I’m in a movie.

He stood behind me, wrapping his arms around my body and nuzzling into my hair.

 

“Well, this is different from Alaska eh?” I commented and he chuckled.

 

“Just a little… are you feeling ok?” he had been concerned since I had started to show anxiety at Seattle and had made a point of checking in every so often since.

 

Such a sweetheart!

I nodded, nerves played in my belly and I could feel my heart beating a little harder than it should be but I was getting through it.

 

“Big change, I don’t think I’d be ok if you weren’t with me. I feel so safe with you.”

 

He squeezed me tight. “Well, you’d be back home with Hayley if you weren’t with me so it’s my fault it’s such a big change. Are you glad you came?”

 

I nodded and turned in his arms to face him. “Very glad, you know I don’t want this… whatever this is between us… I don’t want it to end.”

 

He tilted his head at that, his expression somewhere between happiness and thoughtfulness. “Neither do I Angie”

 

His kiss was gentle and tender, a soft brush against my lips before pressing harder, slow gentle movements of his lips against mine. It still sent a shudder through me,

 

Every.

Single

Time.

He insisted on being the host and would not let me help him fix us a supper, it had been a long day and I didn’t have the energy to argue. I sat on the couch and watched him in the kitchen, he’d put the crutches to one side and was hopping about which made me giggle, which made him do it more.

 

He enjoys being a fool for me.

I chatted with Hayley via text message while he worked. I’d already let her in on the change of plan for coming home. She’d told me she’d not been bothered again by journalists which I was relieved to hear. She asked about Sam.

Hayley: So, you guys are actually together right?
Ange: Uh huh
Hayley: O.M.G Ange! 
Ange: I know right?
Hayley: I want to know EVERYTHING!
Hayley: O.M.G!!!!!!

I giggled and Sam looked over at me curiously. I looked back at him mischievously licking my lips.

Ange: Gotta go he's serving supper in the kitchen ... shirtless!!

 

HA not true but she’ll die!

Hayley: O.M.G. I'M DEAD!

I chuckled as I headed over to the kitchen and showed the messages to Sam.

 

He blushed, “Why would she care if I was shirtless?”

 

I bit my bottom lip and coyly answered. “We may have had one or two conversations in the past about what we’d do with a shirtless Jamie Fraser.”

 

Sam raised an eyebrow. “Oh you have eh?”

 

I nodded and giggled. “I did tell you… crazy fan!” he nodded at that as he finished off his masterpiece with a dash of Worcestershire Sauce… cheese on toast just isn’t the same without it.

 

Sat on stools at the breakfast bar we ate quickly as we flirted.

 

“So it’s just my body you’re after is it?” he teased.

 

I looked at him hungrily “It IS a fine body”

 

He blushed “Well I do try to stay fit.”

 

I laughed “Oh I think it’s a little more than staying fit” I squeezed his bicep and bit my bottom lip.

 

He shook his head, “I should have known, nobody ever sees past the biceps” he feigned looking disappointed.

 

“Well, I can always … stop looking at you … touching you …” I slid my hand up along his long thigh “… stroking you.” I pulled my hand away and turned my focus to the food.

 

He grabbed my hand and returned it to his thigh. “Don’t you dare!” his grin was wide and his eyes sparkled as we laughed.

 

How could I tell him, I couldn’t stop looking at him for all the money in the world, and yeah of course he looked good anyway but now I knew enough to see the warmth, the compassion, the vulnerability behind those eyes it made him beyond beautiful to me.

“I Love you” the words just fell out of my mouth, but I knew I meant them, it surprised me as much as Sam.

 

Oh! I said it… yes, yes I do!

He paused, placed down the piece of toast he was picking up and took hold of both of my hands gently. His eyes fixed on mine and his expression initially surprised, then relieved finally softened into a warm smile and his answer was filled with deep sincerity.

 

“Angie… My Angie… I love you too.” He was breathing harder suddenly “I’ve wanted to tell you for days… I was afraid….” He leaned in, wrapping a hand behind my head his fingers in my hair and kissed me deeply. My heart raced and I felt like Jelly just completely overwhelmed. He shifted his kisses to my neck; he knew I liked that. “…I was afraid it’d be too much… too soon.” He murmured between kisses. I moaned as his tongue danced on that spot on my neck that just felt so amazing.

 

I never thought I’d say it to another man,

I never thought I’d feel this way again.

Daniel was perfect… and I think you are too.

Daniel…I’m sorry!

“I Love You!” was all I could say, those three words full of a million emotions that coursed through my veins. I melted into him, tears dropped from my eyes, I was crying, and he stood, balancing himself against me as he wrapped his arms around me.

 

Does he know what I’m thinking?

What I’m feeling?

How can he know?

He held me gently, his hands stroking my hair and down my spine whispering my name over and over. I clung to him, needing his comfort, wanting his closeness, fighting for control over the guilt which was consuming me. I did love him, so very much but admitting that to myself, and to him felt like even more of a betrayal of Daniel.

 

Sam rocked gently as I sobbed against him. “I’m here.” He’d whisper and “It’s OK, I understand Angie.” It made me love him more in that moment, that he could be so sweet, so selfless as I grieved for another man within seconds of us confessing our love.

 

“I’m sorry,” I sniffled after a while, “That just came out of nowhere.”

 

He still held me and tightened his grip a little. “That came out of love Angie… I know it can’t have been easy.” He placed soft kisses in my hair. “Take all the time you need. I’m not going anywhere.”

 

God, I don’t deserve this man.

We eventually ended up on the couch, Sam had brought over a bottle of his Whiskey, he was so excited for me to try it. I had calmed and Sam was being so attentive I felt bad that I had spoiled the moment earlier.

 

Making a habit of that.

He poured two glasses and handed me mine. “Slainte”

 

I sipped and let the warm sweet liquid flow through me. It was strong and delicious and knowing how much Sam had put into creating this drink made it all the sweeter. He was watching me searching for my reaction in my expression and he seemed pleased.

 

“It’s delicious.” I told him. “So … you!” I smiled at him, and he practically beamed.

 

“I’m so glad you like it.”

 

I could drink this forever!

We both took another sip and Sam sat back into the couch, an arm extended along the back, I sat back with him, falling into his embrace instinctively, that arm now curling around me and holding me with a gentle firmness.

 

“Don’t feel bad for grieving Angie.” He whispered softly. “Please know I understand.”

 

I sighed and sipped again. “I worry, that it’s not fair on you. You deserve more Sam.”

 

He was quiet for a few moments. He took a deep breath. “Did you mean it Angie; do you love me?” there was a nervous shake to his voice.

 

I raised my head and looked at him. He was looking back, and I smiled as our eyes met. “Yes, yes, my sweet man, I meant it. I love you.”

 

He smiled back and kissed me. “That’s all I need beautiful.”

 

He put down his drink and took my glass from me. He started to stand, suddenly remembering his foot was in a cast and growled low in frustration. “This cast is seriously messing with my mojo… I just want to carry you to bed.”

 

I stood first and helped him to his feet, handing him his crutches I walked towards the bedroom looking back teasing as I pulled off my top. “This time you can follow me.”

 


The sun peeked through small gaps in the curtains, sending sharp blades of light at all kinds of angles across the room. I stretched slowly, carefully, aware of the warm sleeping body behind me, spooning, his arm draped around me and his hand resting on my breast possessively. Last night we had made love for the first time after declaring our true love for each other. It was beautiful and tender, and slow and languid. We spoke with our fingers and our bodies, we caressed each other like warm velvet, and he held me now like a delicate flower.

 

I closed my eyes again, the memories of the night before coming back to me in beautiful snapshots; His eyes as he entered me full of love, His lips against my breast, warm and wanting. His body was hard and heavy covering me, engulfing me and possessing me.

 

I’m not sure if I moaned at the memory, but he stirred, nuzzling his face into my hair and squeezing me a little closer, his fingers cheekily pinching at my nipple. I thrust my hips back against him in response and he chuckled softly.

 

“Good Morning.” He practically purred and I was jelly again.

 

What was this power he had over me?


Sam turned on his mobile phone as we ate breakfast, he’d turned it on briefly on our way back, long enough to message a few people to let them know he was returning but would not be available to talk until this morning. Now at only 9 am he was greeted with a barrage of Dings and tones as notifications of messages came through one after another. He let out a long sigh.

 

“Back to reality huh?” he looked apologetic

 

“Don’t worry, we knew it had to come at some time.” I kissed his cheek before taking my coffee and heading out towards the door to the balcony, it was another clear day and after the previous night and this morning’s activities, I needed fresh air. As I opened the door I turned back to him. “Do what you need to do, I’m not going anywhere.”

 

He smiled at that. I was wearing one of his long shirts, everything in my case was for Alaska, although I could have worn the jeans Sam seemed quite happy that I was wandering around in one of his soft white shirts.

 

I like it too, it feels like he’s holding me.

I went outside and sat on a chair taking in the view with my coffee warming my hands. I could hear his voice inside, talking to God knows who. Occasionally picking up a word or two, it seemed the first calls were mostly work related, scripts and schedules. A later call I assumed was his business partner Alex, this seemed more focussed on production and shipping although it was clear they were also good friends and I thought I heard him talking a little about me, but he seemed to wander further into the apartment away from the window at this point.

 

After about an hour I had finished my coffee and was getting a little cold; it was cooler out there than the clear sky made it appear. I came inside intending to find a blanket or something warmer to wear. Sam had settled on the couch, still on the phone, he beckoned me to him with his free hand. I gave him a look, telling him I didn’t want to interrupt his work. He shook his head dismissively, put his hand over the phone and said, “I miss you.”

 

Well, how can I refuse that? Silly man!

I came over and sat across his lap and rested against his chest. He wrapped his free arm around me and settled back into the couch. He was listening to whoever he was calling who seemed to be talking at some length and Sam looked down at me and rolled his eyes. I had to stifle my giggle. Finally, it seemed it was his turn to speak.

 

“That’s all great, thank you, you’ve done a great job. I’ll check the emails later, yeah, I’m sure I don’t need you again until day after tomorrow, enjoy yourself.” He ended the call and leaned down to kiss me.

 

“My assistant Lauren, went through every little thing she’s done the past two weeks, as if I needed to know!” he chuckled. “She’s a great assistant though, very through.”

 

I raised my eyebrow at him. “Oh get you with your…assistant!” I teased.

 

He blushed and sighed “Oh don’t start that… believe me, I’d much rather manage my own affairs, but I’d have not a second to breathe without her.”

 

I nuzzled into him. “Well in that case, I’m glad you have her.”

 

He started looking through the contacts on his phone “Just my publicist left to call for now… they wanted to talk about those pictures.” He sighed again. “I want to go back to Alaska already!”

 

“Me too” I sighed against him.

 

He held off pressing the call button for a moment to kiss me. Then took a deep breath. “Ready for this?” he asked waking all the butterflies in my stomach.

 

I’m not sure I ever will be.

I nodded and buried my head in his chest hating the idea of strangers discussing us.

 

He pressed the button, after being put through to his publicist there was a brief polite conversation about how Sam had enjoyed his trip then it was quickly down to business. It was clear there was a lot of interest in the stranger Sam had been seen with. He told them about me, as much as we’d agreed we would share. There was a brief uncomfortable moment when Sam had responded,

 

“My personal life is my business, I don’t have to share everything with you, or anyone else. You know how I feel about that. I won’t have Angie’s life intruded on either, she isn’t in the business, it’s not fair.”

 

I could sense him growing more tense as the conversation progressed. I tried to ease him a little, lifting a hand behind his head and stroking my fingers through his hair.

 

“If I have to post something I will, I’m not having her harassed.”

 

I didn’t like the sound of this. He was holding me close, and his jaw was set hard, I knew he was unhappy with what he was hearing. The conversation eventually ended with his instruction. “Do what you can.”

 

He wrapped both arms around me then. “I’m sorry Angie. I brought this onto you.”

 

“Tell me…”

 

He took a long deep breath. “The photos in printed press were pretty much a flash in the pan apparently. It’s the social media stuff that happened as a result they’re concerned with. Some of the fan groups, can be… intense. They want to know everything; I’ve had them trying to contact me at my hotel or here. It’s like some of them just don’t understand that when I’m not working, I’m entitled to privacy and so are those around me.”

 

“So what’s happened?”

 

“Apparently someone has been to where you live, like Hayley said they found the address from the local news article about your accident. They’ve taken a photo of your house and shared it. Also some really nasty stuff about you has been said, rubbish of course, although I’m told it’s just a handful of so called fans doing that. They think I should be with Cait or them or nobody!”

 

“Oh!” I didn’t really know how to respond.

 

How bad could it be?

I took a deep breath. “I want to see it.” I reached for my phone. I’d used it to text Hayley but hadn’t looked at social media since we’d left Alaska. Sam protested but I wouldn’t let him stop me. He looked pained and helpless.

 

I opened Facebook first. Over 400 new friend requests, hundreds of messages on Messenger. “Jesus!” I commented. “I had thought I’d set my profile to private.”

 

Sam sighed and shook his head. “They always find a way. Don’t read the messages Angie, just delete them.”

 

He was too late. I’d already opened one.

You're too ugly to be with Sam, leave him alone, he's mine!

I flicked to the next

Sam deserves better than you, get away from him now bitch!

 

Can’t argue with that, he does deserve better.

You're so lucky to be with Sam, he's perfect!

 

OK that’s sweet!

I bet you lied about your dead family to make him feel sorry for you.

 

Wow! What the actual… is that the nasty thing he was talking about? Wow!

Sam snatched the phone from me. “Stop it Angie…” he put the phone down and held me tight. I was stunned at the ferocity of the messages.

 

How could these people send such a message to someone they didn’t know.

“How can they be your fans?” I asked, confused. “How can you be a fan of someone as sweet and warm as you are and send a message like that?”

 

Sam rocked gently, his hand stroking my hair. “They are not the majority, thankfully! The real fans, they’re nothing like that, they’re great fun! They’re respectful and so generous… they’d be happy that I’m so happy. Those messages are from sick people Angie. You’ll probably have some nice ones in there too but…” he sighed. “I wanted to protect you from this my love.”

 

I snatched my phone back up and Sam groaned “Don’t torture yourself.”

 

I grinned “I have the perfect way to beat them.” I pressed down on the Facebook app icon, and chose ‘Uninstall’ and in few seconds, they were gone from my phone. I grinned up at Sam who seemed surprised.

 

“You’re handling this very well” he commented.

 

I shook my head. “I’m burying my head in the sand, I know I’ll have to face it eventually… if we are together.”

 

“If?” Concern flooded his face.

 

Oh I don’t want to upset you Sam but we need to be real here.

“Well, this is a lot for you too… surely it’s better you be seen with a glamorous model or movie star than fat little nobody me?”

 

His expression changed, he seemed almost disappointed, and I felt a pang of guilt for it. “Angie, don’t you get it yet?” he asked. “Don’t you see, you have me completely… I love you… those are not words I take lightly… you have captured my soul.”

 

Really?

Oh I want to believe it so much.

But why? Why me?

Those intense blue eyes pierced me, I had to remind myself to breathe.

 

“I don’t understand why…” I mumbled in response.

 

Why would you put yourself through all this extra hassle for me?

Tears were coming, try as I might, I couldn’t hide my growing fear. He brushed a tear from my cheek. “Why? Because you are all I have been able to think about since we met, I can’t explain it. When you made me laugh at the airport. It was like a jolt went through me… I know it sounds so … cheesy but it’s the truth. You were going through such a hard time and there you were making me laugh. I knew then you were special.”

 

I sniffled and tried to smile. “I didn’t want to be alone, it wasn’t completely selfless.”

 

He smiled warmly. “I know, but it was the spark and then well… I was hooked. You were the first woman in, I don’t know how long who just wanted to talk to me, not Jamie Frasier or celebrity me… just me.”

 

“You were so kind, so sweet, but I did tell you I was a fan… remember?”

 

I’m not as perfect as you think Sam!

He wiped away another tear. “I remember every little detail Angie, like I said, I can’t explain it… it didn’t matter, I just wanted to stay with you… and I haven’t ever wanted to leave since.”

 

I closed my eyes, taking a deep breath, trying to control the fear within me. The intensity of his gaze stayed in my mind’s eye, and I was reminded how Daniel’s hugs would stay with me after he had released me… now Sam’s gaze. I took another deep breath as the wave of guilt and grief crashed on my heart at the thought.

 

Fight it Ange, you deserve happiness.

“I felt the same.” I managed somehow to speak; my eyes still closed. “A part of me didn’t want to, still doesn’t want to betray… Daniel…” saying his name made me sob and Sam silently stroked my hair and pulled me close. I gasped a breath “… but… like you said … I can’t explain it… I need to be with you… you make me so happy.” I opened my eyes again and met his looking down at me lovingly.

 

He kissed me gently, stroking away my tears. “I’m scared Sam.” I finally admitted to him and myself. “I’m scared of what will happen when I go home, I’m scared it’ll be like this was a dream, and once I’m gone, you’ll forget me, but I’m also scared of what will happen if this continues… will all this stuff with the press and the fans get worse? I don’t know if I can deal with that… and… I don’t want to damage your career. I’d never forgive myself…” I felt like a weight had lifted now I finally could admit to this fear.

 

I really can just tell him anything.

“I know I’m scared too … you won’t damage my career Angie, my real fans will love you, because I love you. But I do worry about the extreme cases, especially after Michelle, there was some indication she was part of some group. I want to protect you, you’ve been through so much already… and I’m scared once you’re home, you’ll forget about me too.”

 

Oh my sweet man. No matter what, I will never forget you.

I stroked my fingertips from his eyes, down along his nose and across that chiselled jaw, finally across his bowed lips. I was calming, this confession was good, no secrets, just honestly sharing our fears. He watched me as I caressed his face, opening his lips slightly as my fingers reached there and kissing them.

 

“I love you.” I told him, surer than I had ever been, “I’ve said that to three men in my life, My Dad, Daniel… and now you. Whatever happens Sam, I’ll never forget about you.”

 

His expression was full of wonder, “Is that true Angie, your dad, Daniel and… me?” I nodded and he buried his head in my neck as he held me so tight, I thought I might break but I didn’t care.

 

It was true, I’d had relationships before Daniel of course, they were generally short lived. I just hadn’t felt a real connection. I had always put it down to being a hardcore romantic and a total lack of self-esteem. I wanted to be in love, to experience that spark, that ineffable magic, I didn’t know what it even felt like until I met Daniel, then it was so clear. Now, now it was here again, somehow different but unmistakeably Love, there wasn’t a single doubt in my mind.

 

 

Was that tears I could feel against my neck?

 

I lifted his head, my fingers beneath his chin and his eyes were wet with tears, I brushed them away with my thumbs and he smiled at me. “I’m so happy Angie, I feel like I could explode.” He told me and kissed me hard, leaving me like butter in his arms.

 

We had admitted our fears, but the hard bit was figuring out what to do about them. As much as neither of us wanted to be apart, we knew it would be necessary. He tried to convince me to stay another week with him and it was so tempting, but I knew it would just make it harder to leave. He insisted that I take the details of his assistant, his agent, his publicist and a private security firm he used when he needed extra security in the UK. He put them all in my phone himself along with his own personal number of course.

 

“I hate that I don’t know what you’re going home to.” He told me. “Please at least let me arrange someone to come make an assessment. Keep an eye on things for a few days.” His look was pleading and I knew he wasn’t going to let it go.

 

“If that’s what you need but I don’t want someone telling me where I can and can’t go ok?”

 

He chuckled “Roger that!”

 

I hit him playfully. He kissed my nose. “Thanks Angie, it really would make me feel better.” He picked up his phone and made the call, asking for details from me as needed. It was arranged I would be picked up at Heathrow and driven home, a security assessment made of my house, extra measures needed to be discussed and some personal protection … at a distance to be provided for a few days at least.

 

So now I’m bloody Whitney Houston!

I shook my head, making us coffee while he finished the call. “This is all so bizarre.” I picked up the cups and brought them over. He was reading text messages.

 

“Welcome to my life.” He sighed. “Got a lot of perks, but like I said, there’s a hell of a price.”

 

I fell back into his lap. “You’re totally worth it.”

 

He shifted a little. “Speaking of perks… are you sure you can’t stay one more day?”

 

“Sam!”

 

I am not having this debate again!

“No, no, I know you need to go home, its just, well, there’s an event I’ve just been invited to, for a Cancer charity tomorrow and, well… I’d like to take you, but you’ll be flying back then.” He brushed hair from my face and tickled behind my ear…

 

That’s not playing fair.

Be strong Ange.

“Tomorrow … Sam, if I did go… I have absolutely nothing to wear, everything in my case is for Alaska!” I pulled at the long-oversized shirt I was wearing.

 

He looked down and slipped a hand beneath the shirt and stroked my thighs. “What’s wrong with this?” he teased, and I hit him playfully. “If you stay, I’ll make sure you have something… I want to be seen with you… on our terms. But only if you want to.”

 

The idea of going out in public on his arm was both exciting and terrifying. A part of me wanted to show the world “Look who loves me… aren’t I lucky?” the other part didn’t want to expose this beautiful thing we shared to the harsh gaze of the media and even worse… the seemingly actually legitimately crazy ‘fans’.

 

“I’m assuming there will be press.” I asked. He nodded. “Just photographers or will they ask questions?”

 

“Generally, it’s very civilised at these kinds of events, it’s all about the charity after all. There will be photographers, sometimes there are interviewers who grab you on the way in. Once inside it’s usually ok, it’s just a party, other actors, industry types, charity patrons. There’ll probably be an auction.”

 

I nodded slowly trying to imagine it. It seemed other-worldly.

 

He watched my face as I mulled it over. “I wouldn’t leave your side for one second.” He assured me sensing my apprehension.

 

That did reassure me a little, but in my mind, I pictured me having a panic attack amid photographers and interviewers and his friends and colleagues.

 

I can’t, I’m sorry!

“I don’t think I’m ready” the imagined panic attack was starting to develop into a real one as my heart raced and I started to sweat.

 

Sam shushed me and kissed me gently. “That’s ok. It’s a lot, I understand.” I could hear the disappointment in his voice though.

 

I’m so sorry my love.

“I don’t want to embarrass you by having a panic attack.”

 

He stroked my hair, “I understand, I really do, I’d love to have you with me, but I’m not going to push it. You need to be ready.”

 

He held me until I calmed again, and I sighed. “Are you sure you aren’t going to get tired of having to take care of me?”

 

“Never!” he smiled, and I believed him.

 


 

The rest of the day passed too quickly, we stayed in the apartment, there were some more calls, it was clear that now he was back in civilisation a lot of people had demands for his attention.

 

I’ll have to get used to that!

He laughed as he told me about the earful, he got from the Outlander producers regarding his broken ankle. Thankfully, he told me it wasn’t a major issue as he only had voice work to do in the next few weeks and had no filming for that or anything else scheduled for at least four weeks, but they had made a point of reminding him that he needed to be more careful. A few scripts had arrived, and we browsed them together, he was up for leading roles in each one, he was hot property right now.

 

And he’s mine!

I could scarcely believe it. I wondered if this was his way of easing me into his lifestyle, he only had a day, tomorrow I would fly home.

 

He ordered take-out for dinner, not the kind of take out I was used to though. This was fine dining from a high class restaurant in the city. The phone was turned off. He lit candles on the table and tried to lead me to it by wrapping my arm under his as he moved on the crutches. I was overwhelmed with the effort to romance me.

 

“Sam, you know this isn’t necessary.”

 

He gave me a very matter of fact look, “I know, but I want to do it. I have you for one more night, I want it to be special. This chef is incredible, you will love the seafood.”

 

He wasn’t wrong, the meal was the tastiest I could remember, and I suddenly understood all the fuss about high quality dining. Sam had been attentive throughout, asking how I felt about the food, making sure I had enough to drink, asking questions about me, my house. He said he wanted a picture for his mind of where I would be when I left. It was clearly playing on his mind as it was mine.

 

After desert we went outside to the balcony, it was a cool night and we covered ourselves in a warm blanket as we cuddled in a two-seater each with our own glass of Whiskey to keep us warm.

 

“I don’t think I want to sleep tonight.” He whispered. “I just want to hold you and look at you as long as I can.”

 

There was that intensity again, it was flattering but my lack of self-esteem found it challenging. “Sam…” he could see my discomfort as I shifted and avoided his gaze.

 

He brought my face up to look at him again. “Angie, you are so beautiful… I have never lied to you, I never will … you are beautiful… your eyes, they sparkle when you smile, they show your sadness, your kindness… your lips, they’re so soft, so inviting, so …” he leaned down and kissed me softly. “… kissable.” he gave a cocky grin. “You’re warm and soft and so….” He squeezed me tight making me giggle “…Squeezable. You are completely beautiful, don’t hide from me my love.”

 

I shook my head in wonder. “I don’t deserve you.” I told him.

 

I really don’t.

He grinned wickedly, “Well you’ve got me now and you’re stuck with me, no matter what side of the ocean you are.”

 

We spent some more time out there, looking at the lights over the Hollywood hills before heading back inside to the bedroom. We snuggled naked under the warm sheets, facing each other, arms around each other, legs intertwined. As the night had gone on, there seemed to be less and less to say… because we knew farewell was coming all too soon.

 

Gentle caresses, fingertips lightly tracing up and down my spine, our eyes locked, our faces so close I felt like I was stealing his breath. I mirrored his movements, caressing him in the same way and his lips curled up, his eyes sparking. The fingertips traced up, over my shoulder, playing at that sensitive spot on my neck which made me moan, I did the same, but chose the spot just behind his ear I knew would get a similar response. The moan came from deep within him like a purr. Our eyes still locked, we understood the game now and I followed his every lead as his fingers slipped across my breast, cupping it briefly and brushing his thumb over the nipple, the down across my abdomen he tickled at my navel, I bit my bottom lip to keep from giggling, his smirk showed that was the desired response.

 

His hand slid slowly between my legs and my hips rocked against his fingers in response. My hand was carefully caressing his balls, they were soft and heavy, and I could feel him growing ever harder against my stomach. Two fingers slid between the wet folds and penetrated me, causing me to gasp a soft. “oh!” as his thumb brushed against my hard clit. I was in danger of gripping a little too hard if I kept my hand where it was and slid it up to the now rock hard shaft. I stroked the length with my palm before brushing across the head with my thumb and he rocked his hips up in response.

 

Two can play at that game.

We never lost eye contact for a second and the intensity was indescribable, wanting to please and being pleased at the same time. We were breathing harder now, my breasts pressed against his chest as our hands stroked and probed. His fingers thrust deeper within me and his thumb pressed harder against my aching bud, bringing me so close to oblivion, I stroked him harder, faster, his hips bucking into my hand I knew he didn’t have long. We each cried out the other’s name as we came together, watching the ecstasy of the other as stars exploded in our eyes.

 

Breathless, but still locked in each other’s gaze our hands gently moved back to embrace the other, to the gentle strokes up and down the spine. There was nothing could be said, eventually our eyes flickered closed, and we slept.

 

I knew he was watching me; I don’t know how but I knew if I opened my eyes, he would be watching me, and I was right. It was still dark; we can’t have slept long. His fingers gently stroked my face as my eyes opened.

 

“Did I wake you?” he asked quietly he was leaning up on his elbow,

 

“I could hear you thinking.” I grinned.

 

“Oh, I tried to keep my thoughts quiet.” He chuckled softly. His touch was feather light. “I told you I just wanted to look at you all night.” I smiled up at him. “I am going to miss you so much.” There was so much emotion in his voice.

 

I closed my eyes, my heart ached. I knew exactly how he felt. I couldn’t imagine not being near him now. I took a deep breath. “We’ll speak, every day.” I whispered.

 

“Morning and night” he added.

 

I chuckled “For you or me? 8 hours difference.”

 

“Both” he kissed me hard and was so suddenly over me and inside me I couldn’t help but cry out both in surprise and pleasure. His arms wrapped under my shoulders and lifted me with him as he raised up onto his knees. I was straddling him, our bodies pressed tight together like we were trying to merge into one. My legs curled around him and we rocked together our rhythm growing slowly faster, his hands gripped at my hair, pulling back my head and revealing my breasts to him which he licked and kissed and sucked hungrily. I clawed at his back, and as he released my hair we both nuzzled into the others neck, kissing, licking, biting… with a deep intensity we hadn’t shown before, it was as if we wanted to devour each other.

 

Both our bodies salty with sweat writhed together and we moaned with complete abandon at the pleasure of it. I came first, bucking my hips, feeling the muscles within me spasm around his hardness and that was all he needed, he thrust hard, large powerful strokes that filled me completely.

 

Finally quiet he held me so tight against him, whispering my name over and over, my legs still wrapped around him relaxed a little and we breathed heavily against each other. I eventually let my head fall back to look at him. His skin glistening with sweat and tears, he wrapped his fingers in my hair and pulled my head back to him, cradling me in his arms. I could feel him try to hold back the convulsions in his body as the sobs took over him. I squeezed him tight before escaping his hold and pulling him to me as I sat back against the pillows, his head rested on my breast, and I rocked us gently stroking his hair.

 

“I don’t want to be alone again” he told me quietly, his arms circling my waist and squeezing me tight. “How can I be alone again after I’ve been with you?” He’d spoken previously of being lonely, but until now I had no idea how much it affected him.

 

My sweet, sweet man!

“Sam, my love… we’re together now… we love each other… we’re not alone any more. Even if we are far apart.”

I felt his head nodding gently against me as he listened. “You’ll call?” his voice was quiet, still so much fear.

 

“Every day, I promise.”

 

How can I make this better love? How did I not see this vulnerability until now?

“I’m back in Scotland in 4 weeks.” It was as much an affirmation to himself as it was to me.

 

“I’ll see you then.”

 

He lifted his head “You’ll come up? Stay with me?” I nodded and he closed his eyes and we both drifted back to sleep.

 

Chapter Text

The next morning passed so quickly. We shared breakfast and took some photos together as Sam said he wanted some of me to keep him company. I hated how plain I looked next to his beautiful face, but he insisted I was perfect.

 

He made sure I had everything I needed, reminded me of the plan to meet my guard at Heathrow for the thousandth time. We’d agreed he wouldn’t come to the airport, we’d rather a private farewell. He made sure I had my pills and made me promise to call him if I was anxious at the airport.

 

“Also, promise you won’t bewitch some other guy while I’m out of sight.” He teased.

 

I batted my eyelids and grinned “I can’t control my bewitching powers, but I can promise I won’t allow myself to be bewitched in return.”

 

We were at the elevator, the car was outside, the doorman had already taken my bags down. We had our arms around each other, and we were staring at each other a bittersweet smile on each of our faces.

“It’s been incredible Angie… promise me this isn’t the end.”

“Not for me, my love.”

“My love…” he sighed. “I do love you so much.”

“You know I love you too my sweet man.” I stood up on my tip toes and he still had to lower his head to kiss me.

 

In the car to the airport, it was already starting to feel like it had all been a dream. I text Hayley to let her know I was on my way and let her know I had made plans to get home, so she didn’t need to meet me. I kept reaching out beside me, searching for a warm hand to hold but there was none to be found. I took a deep breath and let it out slowly as I searched for the photos we took on my phone, there… it was real… Sam… My Sam really loved me.

 

The airport was busy, I’d resisted taking any pills, remembering the state I’d got into last time.

I had to learn to cope with crowds again,

I checked in and headed to security. First Class ticket got me through the express lane and I was in the lounge before I knew it. I rewarded myself with a glass of Glenfidditch. I chuckled to myself as I ordered it.

Sam had certainly rubbed off on me in more ways than one.

As I relaxed in a chair my phone beeped.

Sam: How are you doing?

He’d managed a whole 90 minutes without checking on me.

Ange: I'm OK. In the lounge now. Panic Attacks 0, Pills 0,Your Angie 1. I have a glass of Glenfidditch... I miss you.

Sam: Miss you too. ☹
Sam: Happy no panic attacks, proud of you!

Ange: Proud of me too. 😊

Sam: I'll have a dram with you.

He sent a selfie with a glass of whiskey. I suddenly felt very girlish. This hunky man was sending me selfies.

Sam: Your turn!

Oh God!

I awkwardly posed with my glass and tried to take a selfie, thank goodness nobody else was in the lounge. I hated it and took another.

Sam: Stop deleting them, just send.

God he knew me too well already!

I sent the second picture and shook my head.

 

What he wanted pics of me for I will never understand.

Sam: There's my girl! Beautiful!

Ange: Charmer!

The screen showed that it was time to head to the gate.

Ange: Off to the gate my love. See you on the other side xxx

Sam: Safe journey Angie, I love you! xxx

Somehow knowing he was there, just at the end of the phone got me through the boarding process and I didn’t actually turn off my phone until I was safely within my pod, taking one last look at his picture before I did.

I’m so lucky!

The flight was long, I dozed a little but couldn’t really sleep. I was restless, I missed the warmth of Sam’s body, his voice, his gentle kisses. I tried to watch a movie but couldn’t focus on it, my mind kept wondering back to my own movie romance in my memory. The further I travelled the more I wondered if I could last four weeks without feeling his arms around me.

Should I have stayed?

I turned on my phone as soon as we were allowed. I snapped a quick selfie blowing him a kiss and sent it. He responded immediately.

Sam: God, I miss you so much. ☹
Sam: Tell me when you're in the car with the guard ok? I'll feel better then, I think. xxx

Ange: Will do, miss you too my love xxx

I made my way to the immigration hall passed through easily with my British Passport, grabbed my case from the belt and as I cleared customs, I realised I hadn’t even begun to feel anxious through any of time in the airport.

Progress.

I saw the guard as soon as I came out the hall. Smartly dressed holding a sign with my name. As agreed, when I approached him, he had to give me a code-word to confirm he was from the company we hired. Once confirmed, he took my bags and I followed him out to our car.

 

It was a three hour car journey back home from Heathrow, I quickly sent a message to Hayley before calling Sam as we set off out of the airport. It was the very early hours of the morning in the UK and getting late in LA. Hearing his voice made my heart leap, I told him I was in the car and asked if he was still going to the charity event. He said he’d decided not to.

“I’m not really in the mood for socialising.” He sounded down and I felt guilty.

 

“Sam my love, don’t shut yourself away because of me.”

 

He sighed softly “I miss you; I really miss you, but that’s not it… I just wanted one more day of peace before I head out for work tomorrow.”

 

I smiled at that. “OK love… What time is it there? Must be getting late?”

 

“9 pm, not too late yet. Just enjoying a wee dram and going through some scripts for tomorrow.”

 

I could picture him, those long legs stretched out on the couch script in his lap and glass in his hand. It was a delicious image in my mind.

 

“It’ll be midnight there by the time I get home, I’ll call you in the morning there, you should get some sleep if you’ve got work.”

 

“Angie, I won’t sleep till I know you’re home safe.”

 

“You worry too much.”

And I love you so much for it.

I made him promise to at least to go bed and I would call him to say goodnight. He agreed and we left it there. The security company had sent Steve to look after me, he said was ex-SAS and now did private security. He seemed to be in his mid-50s, he had a very nice down to earth manner about him. He’d been briefed on the situation and told me I wasn’t the first unknown person he’d had to look after because they were involved with a celebrity. He’d worked with Sam before too and made a point of telling me how much he liked him.

 

“Really solid guy, not pretentious, does as he’s asked… perfect customer.” He smiled back at me via the rear-view mirror, and I smiled back.

 

He must have been able to see how tired I looked as he told me to try to sleep and I found it easier than I would have thought to take him up on the offer.

 

When I woke, we were far away from London, I recognised the streets of my home town, the sun was rising and it was quiet on the roads, for now. I directed Steve to my house, and we pulled up in the driveway. I beamed as I saw Hayley getting out of her car where she’d clearly been waiting. Steve was initially concerned at her presence, but I reassured him she was my best friend. I jumped out the car and she ran up to me and hugged me tight.

 

“Bloody hell I’ve missed you!” she told me. “You have so much to tell me lady!”

 

I was beaming… I hadn’t realised just how much I had missed her until just now. “I really do!” I told her excitedly.

 

I introduced Steve who asked for the keys to get into the house. He wanted to do a walk through before I went inside, to make sure there had been no intruders. Hayley looked at me wide-eyed I just shook my head.

 

“I’m under strict instructions to do as Steve says, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” I told her quietly.

 

I lived in a small cul-de-sac, and it looked like most people were still sleeping from the lack of lights in the neighbouring houses. I could see a fair amount of mail on the floor behind the door as Steve opened it. He picked it up and gathered it, taking it inside. He disappeared into the house for a few minutes, and I was starting to get a bit concerned when he finally reappeared and waved us inside.

 

“Come on ladies, get the kettle on it’s freezing out here.” He joked and we went inside.

 

Kettle was on and I insisted Steve joined us for a coffee and some breakfast before he started his next task of assessing what security measures I would need to add to the house. Hayley was intrigued by him and barraged him with questions about what kind of work he had done and who he had looked after. Steve was friendly but professional throughout and was careful not to reveal too much. I chuckled as I left them both talking in the kitchen and went into the lounge to call Sam. He said he was in bed and I ached to think of him there alone. I assured him all was well and we said goodnight. I felt so unreal to be sat in my lounge talking to him like this; photos of Daniel surrounded me and as I ended the call I sat holding a wedding photo in my hands.

 

“Everything OK?” Hayley had come in to check on me and I only then realised I was crying.

 

She came over and sat beside me, a familiar arm around my shoulder. “What’s up chick?”

 

“I’m so confused,” I told her “How can I betray him and yet be so happy?” she squeezed me

 

“Easy,” she answered “You aren’t betraying him, he’s gone Ange, and he’d want you to be happy… I mean… bloody hell girl he must have some supernatural clout!”

 

I looked at her confused, she was talking nonsense.

 

“Well think about it, he always said when we were talking about Sam Heughan that he was the only man he’d let you leave him for… remember?”

 

I did remember, Daniel would roll his eyes at us and call us silly girls for mooning over the Hollywood hunk but he did acknowledge that he admired that Sam did so much for charity and seemed so down to earth in interviews. Sam seemed like a decent guy to Daniel, as such on one drunken night with the three of us Daniel had declared that should Sam Heughan ever try to take me from him, he would let me go. Of course, then it had all been a silly game, a fantasy and a way for him to score points with both me and Hayley.

 

“Well, he didn’t think it’d really happen.” I reminded her.

 

She grinned widely “What if he MADE it happen eh?”

 

I shook my head “What ARE you talking about?”

 

She smiled and took the photo from me, putting it back in its place on the table beside me.

 

“What if, he brought Sam to you, because he wanted you to be happy? Wouldn’t that explain it?”

 

I looked back at the smiling man in the photo.

He could be ridiculously romantic at times.

What if Hayley was right?

It was ridiculous of course.

Hayley was very into spirituality and believed in these things. I was very much on the fence, but I had to admit, the thought did give me some comfort.

If it were possible, I wouldn’t put it past him.

When we returned to the kitchen, Steve appeared to be sorting through all the mail, putting things that were clearly marked as from a certain organisation in one pile and those that weren’t easily identified from the envelope in another. As the address had been made public, he thought it best check if anything nasty had come through the post box. With my consent he opened the not easily identifiable pile one by one. Most turned out to be nothing special just general things I would expect normally through the post, but there were two letters that certainly weren’t.

 

One was handwritten on pretty paper and had a post mark,

 

Dear Angela,

I wanted to write to let you know I saw the pictures of you with Sam. I know you will know how special he is to so many of us. He looked happy with you, and that made me glad. I hope you are both happy and that you don’t mind sharing him with us from time to time.

Honoured Heughligan,

Rebecca

 

I had thought it was sweet. Steve reminded me it was sent to my home, and while probably harmless, this person had still invaded my privacy. The next was more sinister, printed and with no post mark, apparently hand delivered. Steve was reluctant to let me see it but I insisted.

Bitch!

End it, or die!

 

“Short and sweet” I commented pushing it back to Steve. He took it carefully and put it back in the envelope.

 

“I’ll report it to the police, because it’s a threat, but right now that’s all it is ok?” he tried to reassure both Hayley and I.

 

I couldn’t deny I felt shaken. Hayley was furious. I told them about the Facebook messages, Steve asked if I had deleted them and when I confirmed I hadn’t he asked my permission to access my account so he could go through them, to make an assessment. I gave him the details and he went off to the other room leaving Hayley and I at the kitchen table.

 

As soon as we heard the living room door close behind him Hayley grabbed my hands.

 

“Tell me… everything.”

 

I grinned and shook my head as the story I was about to tell built in my mind.

I was still don’t believe it myself.

I told her the whole story of Sam and I, from the lounge in Seattle to leaving Sam behind in LA. Hayley had never been so quiet as she listened, sipping her coffee and grinning from ear to ear.

 

“It’s so good to see you smile again.” She said afterwards, “I don’t know if I should be telling you to be careful, or that it’s moving too fast, but I just know, it’s so good to see you really smile again.” She jumped out of her chair and moved over to hug me as I sat in mine.

 

I felt giddy, all the memories of the past two weeks so fresh in my mind, I could still see those eyes when I closed mine and I felt like my heart would burst.

 

“Is it ridiculous?” I asked her, “That I feel so … deeply for him… after such a short time? Am I being silly Hayley, I need you to tell me.”

 

She was raiding my cookie jar again. I chuckled; I only ever bought biscuits and cookies for her, I wasn’t much of a fan myself. She nibbled on a digestive as she made fresh coffee for us. She was used to using my kitchen as if it were her own, as I was I with hers.

 

“Ange, I’m gonna be honest, because well … you know I can’t be anything else with you.” she put mugs of fresh coffee on the table and sat across from me with a heavy sigh. “I’m concerned for you, it’s a great story and I really do love seeing you smile like that again, but… well it is… very fast… and well… he’s a bloody movie star!”

 

I nodded, I needed this, a reality check. I knew if anyone was going to offer one it would be Hayley.

 

“He is, but he’s not pretentious or egotistical… he’s so kind Hayley.”

Don’t burst my bubble too much Hayley. I will fight for him.

She smiled a little then “Yes, I can see that. That he came to help you at the airport speaks volumes, and the way he made sure to give me that info when we were on the call. It’s clear he’s kind and thoughtful” she chuckled “So does this mean I can’t perv over Jamie Fraser any more?”

 

I laughed, “Nope, well… you can have Jamie, he’s not real. I’m in love with the real thing, Sam is mine!”

 

She shook her head eyes wide “In love?”

I must have missed that bit of the story out.

I chewed my bottom lip and blushed “Completely and utterly!”

 

She took a deep breath “Oh Ange … are you sure?”

 

“I am… and he loves me too!” I told her smiling wide.

 

Hayley sipped at her drink as she watched me for a while. “Be careful Ange, that’s all I can say… all this stuff with this letter and the messages, it just, doesn’t sit well with me you know? You’ve been through enough pain.”

What’s the saying? The course of true love never runs smooth.

I’d had enough of talking about me now and asked her what I’d missed while I was away which set her off on long tales of nosey neighbours, her family and other local gossip; if it was happening, she would know about it. I settled back in my chair and enjoyed listening to her like old times.

 

After being updated I went upstairs to unpack, shower and change. I ended up falling asleep on my bed, the journey catching up with me and it was only when I heard Hayley’s voice outside the room that I started to wake.

 

“I know, well just make sure you’re worth all this abuse she’s getting, that’s all I ask… I’ll hand you over now.” I heard as she opened the door.

That had better not be Sam she’s speaking to like that.

I sat up and she handed my phone to me. “Sam.” she told me leaving the room again once I’d taken the phone and given her a look to let her know I’d heard her and I wasn’t happy.

 

I put the phone to my ear, “Sam?”

 

“Hey! Are you ok Angie? Hayley said you had some letters?”

I didn’t want him to know about that. I’m going to kill her.

“Only one bad one, Steve’s dealing with it. Did you sleep well?”

Change the subject.

He groaned, “Restless, missed you next to me.”

 

I closed my eyes and lay my head back on the pillow. “I’m in bed now, just had a nap.”

 

There was low groan from the phone. “I wish I could touch you.”

 

I sighed, “I wish you could too.”

 

I heard him chuckle “You know we sound like a pair of teenagers”

 

“We do, but that’s how I feel!”

 

“Me too … Angie, are you really, OK? If you don’t feel safe… “

It’s so sweet that he worries.

“I’m ok love, I’m too tired to think much right now but Steve is here and Hayley, I’m ok, it was only a letter.”

 

He wasn’t wholly convinced but I thought a part of him was just looking for a reason for me to go back to him.

 

“Sam, please don’t worry too much.”

 

“I can’t help it, you’re all I can think about Angie, and now I can’t hold you” he sighed.

 

“You are a romantic fool, eh?”

 

“You’ve made me one… I used to be a man’s man!” he teased.

 

“Well, I’ll take that over a ladies’ man, less drama!” I teased back.

 

We spoke a little more before he went off to work promising to call again later.

 

When I went back downstairs, Hayley had gone out to work,.

Just as well because I will be having words when she gets back.

Steve had things to discuss with me. He wanted my consent to arrange for better locks on the doors and windows, an alarm to be installed and CCTV cameras on the outside of the house and in some rooms. I wasn’t comfortable with having the cameras inside, but he convinced me that it would be worth it.

 

“The only time an actual person sees anything that’s recorded is if you or your designated person requests that footage from that time period, otherwise it’s just data recorded remotely and stored securely. So, it’s not like someone will be watching you all the time.” He told me, this set my mind at ease.

 

He recommended that I stay off social media for the time being, he’d informed the police about the threat, and they had taken the letter and were apparently investigating some of the other messages I had received online. It was quite an overwhelming conversation, everything Steve suggested seemed reasonable though, even if it was a lot at once so I agreed he could go ahead and do what he wanted.

 

We agreed he would stay in my spare room at least until the house was fully secured and drive me whenever I wanted to go anywhere over the next few days, if anything more happened, we’d take it from there.

Can’t get any worse than a few nasty letters surely?

Chapter Text

The next days passed like a dream, everything was familiar but different. My home was a comfort but the intrusion of workmen to arrange the security changes, Steve intercepting my mail when it arrived to check for more letters, and the awareness that I was now under constant surveillance there made it start to feel more like a prison.

 

I spoke with Sam 3 or 4 times a day, he told me about his work that day and that he’d been telling his closer friends amongst the cast about me.

They probably think he’s nuts like Hayley does.

“So, what have you been up to today?” he asked me after sharing his adventures in voice-over work. He was home now, having had an unusually short day working as he’d had to go to the hospital to have his cast finally removed.

 

“Oh, you know, not much, reading mostly.” I sighed.

 

“Oh! I see.” He sounded disappointed.

 

It had been over a week since I’d come home and the fact was, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was feeling trapped in my home, two more threatening letters had arrived seemingly from the same person who’d sent the original. This time they were mailed properly, not hand delivered. Steve felt it best if he stayed longer, that the person must have noted the security changes. I just wanted my life back; Hayley was working most of the time but would come round when she could. I was surrounded by pictures and reminders of my dead family and Steve was a nice enough guy but frankly it was getting awkward.

 

“Angie, are you ok? You sound… unhappy.” Sam was clearly concerned. “Give me two minutes, I’m going to video call you, ok? “

 

I agreed, lacking the will to debate it, and the call ended. We usually had one video call a day, otherwise it was just phone calls, and we’d already had a video call that morning. Now I was getting ready for bed and sat on my duvet, leaning back against my pillows in my pyjamas. It was late and I was tired and not really in the best frame of mind having spent most of the day snapping at Steve and asking myself what the hell I should be doing with my time.

 

I used my laptop for video calls rather than the phone, it was easier. It was already open beside me on the bed and the screen jumped to life when Sam’s call came through. I answered and seeing his face immediately made me feel a little better.

You could make me smile on my darkest day Sam.

His concern was clear from the frown on his face. “Angie, what’s up? Talk to me.” His voice was warm and soft, and I closed my eyes for a second letting it wrap around me like a thick blanket.

 

“I’m just having a bad day love, feeling sorry for myself.” I turned sideways with my head on a pillow and the laptop in front of me.

 

Sam chewed his lip and continued to frown at me. “Tell me what’s on your mind… please?”

 

It was a plea and I realised I was being selfish making him worry like this.

 

I took a deep breath. “Well, since you asked. I’m bored, I’ve barely been out since I got back, I’ve had strangers in my house securing this and installing that, I seem to have a new housemate who intercepts my mail and has to go everywhere with me, my house is a shrine to my family who are gone and I feel like I can’t escape, and I miss the man I love so much it hurts.” A tear dropped down my face, followed by more. “I don’t want to go back to my old job, I feel I should be doing something … meaningful, but I don’t know what to do. I’ve got this nutcase sending these stupid letters and I don’t know how real the threat is and …. did I mention I miss you so much?” the tears flowed freely now. It did feel good to get it off my chest.

 

His mouth twitched and I knew he was struggling with his own emotions, “Angie I’m so sorry, this is all my fault.” He sighed; jaw clenched his breathing was heavier. “I want to just make this all go away for you.” his head shook slowly, “I can’t undo what’s done… those bloody pictures…!”

I hate upsetting you, but thank you for sharing my frustration Lover

“Sam, I know you do. That’s the worst of it, it can’t be undone without meaning I never met you and you my love are the best thing in my life. I think I’m mostly frustrated with myself because I don’t know what I want to do with myself and being stuck here is just making it worse.”

 

He blinked back at me through the screen, I could tell he was still feeling responsible and frightened I might call everything off. “It must be hard being home, I guess there’s a lot of memories.” He said thoughtfully, “You deserve happiness Angie, you don’t need this crap… is there anything … anything I can do?”

Come to to me, drop everything and come and make me feel safe again.

Tell me what to do with my life, make the decision for me.

Oh if only it were that easy!

The whole reason you went to Alaska was to learn to stand on your own again.

You need to solve your own problems Ange.

“Just keep listening to me my love, as you always do.” I sighed, the tears drying up now having purged my frustrations. “This is just me trying to figure out my place in the world now.”

 

He smiled a little and sighed. “I just want to hold you.”

 

“I know, and I want that too. I need purpose though love, I just can’t see myself going back to my old job. Everything is different, I’m different. I have the money to do pretty much whatever I want, within reason, and I want the money I got to be put to good use, to help people…” He nodded at me, listening as I’d asked.

God, I Love this man!

“…I’ve been thinking maybe something to support people like me, who suddenly lost loved ones.”

I just wouldn’t have the first clue!

“Sounds good!” he was starting to smile, seeming to appreciate that I was sharing my thought process with him.

 

“I wouldn’t have the first clue about what to do or where to start. I’ve never been one for going out doing things on my own, I’ve always worked for someone else.” I sighed. “I think that’s the thing I want to do though, I’m just scared I’ll fail.”

I’m always scared I’ll fail.

Sam’s smile grew bigger, and it was like a virtual hug, his eyes lit up and I couldn’t help smiling back at him. “You can do it Angie; I know you can. I’m happy to put you in touch with some people. I know you want this to be your thing, and I’m not trying to take that from you, I just know a few people who might be able to give you good advice.”

Yes, yes that would be amazing!

“I’d appreciate that.” I answered. “I don’t know exactly what I want yet but knowing who I want to help is a start… yeah, some advice would be great!” I was starting to feel excited. A project, a focus, just what I needed.

Thank you for believing in me Sam!

“That’s more like it, there’s my favourite smile.” He grinned at me. “Now promise me, tomorrow, you’ll go out, I don’t care where, just get out of that house OK? Go for a walk or visit with someone. Steve doesn’t need to be right next to you, he can keep a little distance, give you a little space.”

 

I nodded, he was right, I was in a prison of my own making because I was letting fear control me. “I will, I promise, you’re right love… what would I do without you?”

Be lonely and miserable.

He grinned and raised a brow “Have a less stressful life!” he answered sardonically.

 

I tutted and winked at him “Not worth it, I’ll take the stress and the sexy boyfriend.”

Not words I ever thought I’d ever say.

We laughed and I sighed as I snuggled into the pillow wishing it was his warm body. “I do miss you Sam, so much. We’ve been apart almost as long as we were together, but it feels like I’m missing part of me.”

I love that I can talk to you like this.

“I know, I woke up this morning hugging a pillow like it was you. I miss kissing you goodnight. You look so beautiful right there, ready to sleep…”

 

I blushed “You rarely just kissed me goodnight.”

No it was never just a kiss, and now I miss you more.

He smirked “Well, who could resist, those lips, that skin, those breasts.”

 

He sighed and I flushed and giggled. “Behave!”

 

He was on a roll now though; he cocked an eyebrow. “If I were there, I’d be kissing that neck, whispering in your ear how much I want you.” I closed my eyes, imagining those kisses. “I’d stroke your hair and let my hands stroke down your shoulders and caress your collarbone.” I sighed softly, hearing his voice, I could feel the memory of his touch. My body tingled and ached.

 

“Sam…” I was aroused and starting to breathe hard.

 

“Shh… my love this is just us… open your eyes.”

 

I did as he instructed, he’d taken off his top and was sat back on his couch, his laptop on his lap. I didn’t need to see below his waist to see he was aroused too, his broad firm chest rising and falling with his quickened breathing. His eyes were dilated and his lips slightly parted. I melted at the view.

 

I felt suddenly self-conscious, it was one thing feeling like this when the object of your attraction is there, touching you, holding you. It was quite another when he was in another country and an image on my laptop. I buried my face in my pillow giggling like a schoolgirl.

 

“I’m sorry Sam I …I don’t think… "

 

“Unfasten your top” he didn’t let me finish,

 

I peeked out from the pillow. He looked determined, and damn hot. “Sam!”

 

He raised a brow at me, challenging me with a smirk “Unfasten your top, I want to see you.”

Why can’t I refuse this man?

Why would I want to?

I flicked open the buttons on my pyjama top, blushing and chewing my lip. I slid it off over my shoulders when it was unfastened, leaving my bare breasts on display for him. He licked his lips, his face full of desire.

 

“Angie, I want you… your hands are my hands, ok? Follow my lead.” I nodded.

OK this is a first… but it’s Sam, I’m safe.

“I’m caressing your collarbone with my fingertip, tracing down from the shoulder, slowly…” I did as he asked, my own finger slowly moving down my collarbone. My eyes closed again; this was easier if I couldn’t see it was my own hands touching me.

 

His voice caressed me like velvet, and I followed his directions. My hand moved between my breasts stroking between them before taking one in my hand, holding and caressing it firmly under my palm, I pinched at my hardening nipple as he described how he would take it in his mouth, flick it with his tongue, suck it and nibble. I was already squirming on the bed. I could hear his breathing growing louder and harder, the desire his voice growing.

 

He described how he would continue playing with my breast as he would kiss across my stomach, my other hand caressed there as he told me he would kiss lower and lower until he was kissing between my legs, my fingers slipped beneath my pyjama bottoms and caressed my wet folds. I moaned softly and heard him gasp. “Beautiful” Then he continued his tale of seduction, caressing and stroking and probing. I was getting close to release.

 

“Look at me Angie!” his voice was deep and breathless.

 

I opened my eyes. His body glistened with sweat, flushed, his lips parted, his eyes fixed on me and filled with fire.

Oh my! You are perfect!

He was stroking himself, below the camera, as was I and the sight of him getting such pleasure watching me took me over the edge. I cried out his name as my body arched and bucked, he encouraged me. “Yes, my love that’s it, let me please you, feel me inside you.” as I rode the waves of pleasure. As I started to calm and come down, I could focus on him again and as I smiled with complete satisfaction I watched as his orgasm hit him. It was always an incredible sight to see the mixture of pain and pleasure on his face, the total loss of control and surrender to pleasure.

 

“God you are magnificent” I told him dreamily as he breathlessly came back to earth.

 

He licked his lips and looked back at me. “Feeling better?” he asked smirking with satisfaction.

 

I grinned like the Cheshire cat and stretched. “Yes, much better, you always know what I need.”

 

He quickly cleaned himself up and told me to get under the covers, he wanted to stay with me until I was asleep. I wasn’t sure if I could sleep knowing he was there, watching but he was being sweet and romantic and I’d long since realised when he was this determined it was useless to argue. I snuggled under the covers, the laptop still next to me, my muscles heavy and relaxed after the much-needed release we had both agreed we had needed.

 

I told him I there was no way I could just let him sit there watching me, so we agreed, he would read his book quietly to me as I closed my eyes, and so we did. His voice, in best storytelling mode soothed me to sleep and it was the best night’s sleep I’d had since I got back.


 

As promised, I went out the next day; my elderly neighbour Tom had a Labrador called Rocky, Tom was 90 and frail now and not able to take it out on long walks. He’d take him for a short walk around the local area a couple of times a day but was never off the lead. A few of the neighbours would regularly take the dog out with them when visiting parks or woodland so he could have a good run around. I hadn’t done it since before the accident but when I called Tom that morning he was thrilled at the idea.

 

I’d decided to take a trip to Delamere Forest, it was about 40 minutes’ drive away but I knew I’d be happy to wander the trails there with Rocky… and Steve following behind. It was a clear crisp day, cold and I wrapped up warm and made sure Rocky had his coat too. Steve drove us to the Forest and let us walk ahead leaving me to my thoughts as I let Rocky loose and tossed his ball ahead of us.

 

Rocky bounded over to ball and, picked it up and bounded back with an energy I couldn’t help but admire. He bounced around me, circling me, his tail wagging excitedly waiting for the next throw.

I’d forgotten how much I loved this silly dog.

Tom had got him as a puppy 5 years earlier, he’d needed a companion. He knew however that Rocky would likely outlive him and had asked if Daniel and I would take him in when the time came. We had agreed at the time. Tom had been kind since the accident, visiting from time to time and making sure I was OK. He was a kind old man who’d lost his wife of 65 years 7 years ago. They’d not had children and the neighbourhood had become his family, I was lucky in that regard, our little cul-de-sac was full of good people who looked out for each other without being too intrusive.

 

I wondered, since I had not taken Rocky out for so long if Tom had made other arrangements for him to be taken care of. I would understand if he had, my thoughts had been elsewhere for the last two years. I threw the ball again and carried on walking into the forest, there was a lake, I would walk all the way round, that was my target and so I went, throwing the ball and receiving it back from the boundlessly energetic dog as I walked. After a while I forgot all about Steve who had kept a respectful distance behind.

 

About halfway there was a small clearing with picnic benches. I found a bench and sat for a while. Rocky sat panting in front of me, I had a bottle of water and filled the bowl that was kindly placed by the bench for dogs to drink from. Rocky lapped it up and I drank some from the bottle myself. I watched the bare trees as the light wind made the naked branches dance and closed my eyes. It was like being back in Alaska for a second, in the middle of nature with no cars, no people, just me and the wild.

 

Rocky put his paws on my knees and licked my face and I shrieked in surprised. “Get off you daft pup” I said laughing and stroking behind his ears, his lovely smiling face showing how much he was enjoying himself. I had some treats in my pocket, I knew he knew that too.

 

“I know what you’re after you little charmer” I told him, and he let out a whine to protest his innocence.

 

I grinned at him, he was so open with his affection, always had been since he was a pup. He’d make a fuss of anyone and had never shown any kind of aggression. He was commonly referred to as Daft Dog by the neighbours because it described him perfectly. He jumped off me, bounced around in circles barking excitedly, then returned, putting his paws up on my knees again.

 

“Are you dancing?” I asked him, pulling out a chew rope from my pocket. He grabbed one end and I grabbed the other with both hands and stood. We danced around in circles as he tried to wrestle the rope from me, his tail wagging faster and faster and I was laughing louder and louder. After a few minutes I was exhausted and released the rope so I could sit down again, tears were streaming down my face, but from laughter this time.

 

I caught sight of Steve sitting at a table on the other side of the clearing watching us with a broad smile on his face. I gave him a smile back, as much as he had been getting on my nerves, I did appreciate what he was doing for me. I pulled out some dog treats from my pocket and miraculously Rocky didn’t want the rope any more, he dropped it and trotted over happily to take them from my hand. I petted him as he ate and thanked him for the laughs.

 

I was just about to get up and start walking again when I looked across and noticed Steve was talking on his mobile phone. He looked serious, he looked over at me and held up his hand, asking me to wait a moment. I nodded and went to pick up the discarded rope toy. As I put it in my pocket, Steve was approaching quickly, I noticed his eyes widen suddenly, looking at something behind me and before I could turn I felt something hard against my back, between my shoulders.

 

“Don’t move!” a woman’s voice, close behind me.

Where the hell did she come from?

What’s happening?

Is that a … gun?

Oh my God!

I was frozen. Rocky was jumping up at me, still looking for treats. Everything seemed to slow down.

 

Steve slowed his approach, his hands held in front of him, he moved slowly towards us. “Angela, you’re going to be ok.” his voice was calm and I wondered if he was in the same situation I was in.

I don’t feel like I’m going to be OK.

There’s a gun at my back

I think it’s a gun… I really hope it’s not.

“Stay there!” the voice behind me shouted. I assumed at Steve because I wasn’t going anywhere. Every muscle in my body had gone rigid in terror.

 

Steve stopped approaching. He was about six feet in front of me, his eyes focussed on my attacker.

 

“Now what is it you want?” he asked, still calm, his hands still held out in front of him.

My heart is beating too fast. I’m going to die!

I felt the hard barrel jab against my spine. “She knows what I want.” The voice was full of venom. “She’s seen the letters. She was warned!”

Oh my God, this is her?

“Yes, we’ve seen the letters.” Steve answered. “We’re not sure what they are talking about.”

 

The barrel jabbed hard again and I cried out as it hurt me “She knows, she knows he’s not hers to take.”

Well he’s certainly too good to be yours.

“Who are we talking about?” Steve looked poised to pounce at any moment.

 

“Jamie, Jamie belongs to us. So we’re taking him back.”

 

I felt faint at this point, having hardly drawn breath. Steve still sounded calm,


“OK so how do we do that? How do we give him back to you?”

He’s not even real!

She screamed out “I kill this bitch, then he’s ours again. She’s nobody, Jamie deserves, he deserves us!”

Oh God! I’m going to die!

While all this was going on Rocky had been jumping and dancing in front of me like the daft pup he was. Realising he wasn’t getting any reaction from me, he decided to charm the new person behind me. He barked loudly and jumped up at her, intending to play.

 

It was the distraction Steve was hoping for, all at once, the woman was distracted as she defended against the dog, Steve pounced forwards, he knocked me sideways, there was a deafening bang, a sharp pain. I could hear scuffling and grunts as Steve wrestled with the woman. Rocky was licking my face, I was still paralysed with fear, another deafening bang and a scream. Rocky yelped and I curled into a ball.

Help me! Help me oh Sam Help me!

I’m wrapped up in his arms, warm and safe and loved.

There is nothing, nothing else in the world but me and him.

His arms are strong, his voice soothes me, his kisses gently falling on my face.

“Angela!”

Ooh using my full name, am I in trouble my love?

“Angela! Are you injured?”

What? No you would never hurt me.

“Angela! Come on, talk to me.”

 

Rocky’s cold nose against mine brought me back to reality. He was licking my face whimpering.

 

“Angela!”

Oh that’s Steve, oh God, this is real.

I slowly uncurled.

 

“Are you injured?”

I don’t think so. Oh! Ow! My head!

I held my hand up to the pain on the right side of my head then brought it round to look.

Oh! There’s blood.

“My head.” I muttered starting to sit up. The world started to come into focus, Steve was on his knees straddling a woman who was on her stomach, he was holding her hands together behind her back with one of his hands, and a phone up to his ear with the other.

 

He was calling for help, the woman started screaming and I held my hands over my ears, they were still ringing from the bangs. I saw the gun on the ground it was near my feet.

The bangs were gunshots. Oh God!

The woman looked at me, her eyes blazing, she hissed “You need to die bitch. You are nothing! We’ll destroy you!”

 

Steve shoved her head down “Be quiet!” he commanded.

 

She fought him, lifting her head again. Spitting out, “You have nothing, we’ve burned your house down. He’ll see you’re nobody, you have nothing!”

 

Steve shoved her head down again!

Burned my house down? What did she mean?

She kept saying ‘WE’ who else was she talking about?

Oh my head!

Everything’s moving.


Oh that’s so bright!

The light blinded me as my eyes flickered open. Everything was white and bright.

Where am I?

A shape leaned over me, a person.

 

“There you are! Welcome back!”

Oh my head!

My head throbbed and felt too heavy. The figure came into focus, Steve. Suddenly everything flooded back. I reached out to grab his arm, panicked.

Am I still in danger?

“It’s OK Angela, you’re safe now. You’re in hospital.” he was calm, as always. It took a few seconds for that to sink in.

I’m safe now.

I feel so tired.

Flashes of memory came back to me;

Bare trees above me, moving, or was I moving?

I was looking up and it was bumpy.

Then in an ambulance I thought, someone dressed in green shining bright lights in my eyes, now here.

“Sam!” I murmured, I remembered all this being somehow connected to him, “Is he safe?”

 

“Sam is fine, I’ve called him, he knows what’s happened. He just wants you to be OK.”

OK that’s good.

I’m so tired.


“Angela! Angela!” someone was pinching at my earlobe.

 

“Ow!” I batted the offender away.

 

“OK, back with us, come on let’s see if we can get you to drink.” It was a woman’s voice, warm and friendly with West Indian accent.

 

I opened my eyes, everything was still too bright. The woman was a petite black woman with a warm smile and a cup in her hand.

 

“Come on dear, you’ve slept the day away, let’s try some water.”

 

She picked up the remote for the bed and pressed a button which sat me up. Then passed me a cup of water. I held it shakily in both hands and sipped from it. Slowly coming back to full consciousness.

 

Steve was sat in the corner of the room, the nurse on the edge of my bed. Monitors beeped and there were leads and tubes that seemed to be attached to me. My mind was foggy and confused and I still felt so tired.

 

“You’ve a nasty concussion dear.” the nurse told me. “Gave your poor head a proper bang.”

Bang! Yes there was a bang!

A gun.

Was I shot?

“Am I shot?” I asked quietly. Steve stood up and came over. “No, nobody got shot thank God. Gun fired twice, I had a close call on the second shot but went past my head.”

 

“OK.” I was shaking, I still couldn’t focus my thoughts, it didn’t seem real.

 

The nurse stood and patted my hand. “I’m going to get the doctor, seems you’re getting better.”

 

I offered her a weak half smile. “Thank you.”

 

Steve sat in the chair next to the bed. “She’s under arrest. Still don’t know who she it but should have more information tomorrow.”

 

“Rocky!”

 

“The dog is home, he saved your life, he really worried about you afterwards.”

Oh poor baby!

“Thank you.” It didn’t seem like enough. It wasn’t, but I was numb. I sipped more at the water.

 

“You smacked your head on the corner of the picnic table when you fell. Got some stitches there.” he looked pained. “Bet it hurts like hell.”

 

I nodded. The pain was the only thing that seemed real.

 

He grinned wryly “If it makes you feel any better, I dislocated her shoulder, that is a bitch!”

 

Again I weakly tried to smile, but it just wasn’t in me. The doctor came in and Steve stepped away back to the corner of the room while he examined me; lights in my eyes again, questions and follow the finger.

I’m too tired for this.

“Nasty one, but after a few days you should be back to normal. I’ll keep you in overnight, just for observation.” he said when he was finished. “The wound is under your hairline, so, shouldn’t have any visible scars. Stitches out in a week.” He looked over to Steve, obviously aware of the situation and let out a long breath. “All in all, considering the possibilities, not a bad outcome.” Steve nodded at him in acknowledgment and the the doctor said he’d arrange some painkillers and see me in the morning then left.

 

I yawned and frowned. “Does Hayley know?” I asked Steve wondering why she wasn’t fussing around me as usual.

He nodded “She knows …” he seemed to stop himself saying something. “… I told her there’s no point coming, you’re sleeping and you’re ok.”

Since when would that stop her?

Something’s wrong.

No, Steve would tell me.

Oh my bloody head!

I just want sleep.


In my sleep my dreams were troubled, a constant fear gripped me and there was an unseen threat that terrified me to my core. I was running and I found a place to hide. It was so vivid. Then, I could smell him, the sweet musky scent of Sam. He stroked my face and kissed me softly, I could taste his lips, feel his breath on my face, his warm gentle hands holding mine.

 

“I’m here Angie.” he whispered softly. “You’re safe.”

Yes, with you my love I am safe.

Stay with me.

Hours later I stirred, still unsure if I was dreaming because there he was, sleeping, his head facing me, resting on his hands, on the edge of the bed.

Are you real?

I gently touched his face, his hair.

Oh! You are real. Oh Sam!

I gasped and he stirred at the sound and my touch. His eyes sleepy but they’d never looked more beautiful as he smiled when he saw me awake. Sitting up he reached out to stroke my face.

 

“Hello beautiful!” he leaned in and kissed me softly. “How are you feeling?”

He’s really here!

“How are you here?” I had no concept of how much time had passed, but it must have been more than half a day.

 

He sat up on the edge of the bed. His expression serious and pained. “How could I not be here Angie… " he closed his eyes, his head lowered, “… I almost lost you. I’m so sorry!”

 

I reached up to touch his face again, still not quite believing it.

 

“Tell me how you feel.” he asked again. He stroked my face and brushed the hair back from my face showing the stitches. He frowned and moved his hand to my neck, pulling me to him. “Tell me you’re OK my love.” He held me close but gently, as if afraid I might shatter. I rested my head on his shoulder and breathed in his warmth.

 

“I’m OK Sam. I’m here, I’m alive, I’ve got a sore head…. I’m so happy you’re here.” I reached out and held him to me as tightly as I could.

He’s really here, solid and warm.

We released each other and he held my hands as he looked at me, tears in his eyes. “Angie, I don’t know what to say… I… as soon as Steve called me I dropped everything, just went straight to the airport and got the first flight. He told me you were unconscious, I was so scared… this is because of those bloody pictures… Angie I’m sorry!”

 

The memory of the attack came back to me. The feeling of the gun against my back, the venom in the woman’s voice, the loud shots, the terror I felt when I thought I would die. My hands started to shake, my whole body soon followed. I looked up into Sam’s eyes, so full of love and fear and confusion.

 

“I was so frightened Sam… I… I… thought she would kill me.” I sobbed, finally the full force of my fear hitting me. He pulled me to him again, holding tight this time, knowing I needed his strength. I clung to him and let out all the fear and terror I had been holding.

 

He stroked my hair and rocked us gently whispering. “I’m here love, I’m here.”

 

Eventually I calmed, still holding onto him, afraid if I let go he would float away. I looked around the room. “Where’s Steve?” he’d been such a constant presence over the last two weeks.

 

Sam relaxed his hold and stroked my hair from my face again. “Getting some sleep. I arrived around 2 am. He told me the whole story Angie, told me you had a concussion and were given some painkillers and would likely be out for the night. So I said I’d stay and he went off to get some rest.”

 

I nodded and noticing the sun had risen outside smiled weakly up at him. “You’ve been here all night?”

 

He smiled and nodded.

 

“I knew… in my dreams I knew you were there.” we sat silently holding each other for a few minutes. The nurse who had given me water the previous night came in.

 

“Oh good you’re awake Angela… this handsome man of yours has been waiting to see your eyes open all night.” She came over and swapped over my water jug for a new one. She leaned into me and whispered knowingly giving Sam a sidelong glance. “If you didn’t wake soon I was going to steal him for myself.” she winked and laughed.

 

Sam blushed and I couldn’t help but smile. “He’s pretty irresistible.” I told her, then squeezing his hands “but he’s all mine!” I said proudly watching him blush even more.

 

The nurse took my blood pressure and some readings from the monitors. Before leaving she told me she was about to finish her shift, and the day shift would be in soon with breakfast. “You’ll feel a whole new person with some food in your belly!” she sang as she passed through the doorway leaving us both grinning.

 

Later that morning I got the all-clear to go home, on the understanding that I was to be under constant supervision for the next few days, and that if any new symptoms appeared I was go to straight to the hospital. Steve had come back and as I sat on my bed waiting for the prescribed painkillers to come from the pharmacy I notice he and Sam were sharing looks that told me, they knew something I didn’t.

 

“OK what’s going on?” I finally asked them. Sam was sat next to me holding my hand, Steve waiting in a chair near the bed. Steve took a deep breath and leaned forward.

 

“There’s something I haven’t told you yet. You were in and out yesterday and I didn’t get the chance.”

 

“What is it? Is it Hayley? Is that why she’s not been here?” I immediately went into panic mode. Sam squeezed my hand and put an arm around me.

 

“No love, Hayley is fine, she’s been taking care of things at the house.”

 

I frowned.

At the house?

What has she got to do at the house?

I don’t understand.

“There’s no easy way to say this…” Steve started “… so I’ll just spit it out. There was a fire, your house is… gutted.”

 

Then I remembered.

We’ve burned your house down.

“Oh!” I was stunned. I couldn’t quite comprehend what this meant.

 

Sam squeezed me to him. “It’s bad love, Hayley’s been working with the Fire Brigade, salvaging what she can. There’s not much left.”

 

“I’d just got the call about the fire, and was coming to get you when, she appeared.” Steve told me. “It seems two or more of them working together, one started the fire, the other followed us.”

 

My head was buzzing and thumping. I didn’t know what to say.

 

“Is this real?” I asked looking up at Sam desperately. He nodded sadly and pulled me into an embrace. I was numb once again. I wasn’t safe, there was at least one more person out there who wanted to hurt me, or worse.

 

Leaving the hospital felt like a military operation. Steve had colleagues who walked us through the halls, to an underground car park. We were put in the back of an SUV and left as part of a small fleet of four identical cars. Each one eventually peeled off in a different direction although Steve told us we still had an escort from two other cars which had joined us inconspicuously. We were being taken to a safe house, in the Lake District. They said they had captured an image of the arsonist on the security cameras and the police were actively investigating. They’d been made aware of the issue Sam had with Michelle in the US and it looked like they might have all been part of the same “Group”.

 

I barely spoke through the whole journey. I sat clutching Sam’s hand, watching the world pass me by as we drove, watching the other cars.

Most of these have no idea what we’re going through.

They’re just going about their lives.

We never know what others are going through.

Sam tried to chat, to break the tension but I couldn’t oblige. I felt sick to my stomach.

Everything I own is gone.

I had spoke to Hayley on the phone before we left. She was distraught and angry. She told me she’d managed to salvage some pictures, a few trinkets and my jewellery box, which held various heirlooms and my parent’s wedding rings, and Daniel’s.

That was something.

Everything else is gone.

I squeezed Sam’s hand.

You and Hayley are all I have now.

He squeezed back then released my hand and put his arm around me. Kissing my forehead he whispered.

 

“I’m not going anywhere until this is over.”

Would it ever be over love?

Chapter Text

The safehouse was an apartment in a stately home which the Security Company used as their base and for training. Steve explained that given that we knew these women were super fans of Sam it wouldn’t be safe to go to any place he would normally stay here in the UK. This location was fully secure and while we would have the privacy of the apartment, we would literally be surrounded by guards.

 

The apartment was quite grand, suiting the building it was in. Long windows overlooked the grounds and a lake, high ceilings decorated with ornate carvings and panelled walls. It was a far cry from my humble abode, which now lay in ashes. I’d had to order clothes and basic supplies, Sam had some things sent from Glasgow. My mood didn’t improve much once we arrived. The hunt was still on for the arsonist and the police weren’t sharing much information about my attacker at this point.

 

I spent most of each day in bed, there didn’t seem much point in getting up as each time I did it felt like there was more bad news. Steve was carrying out his own investigation and believed he had identified the online group which had brought the two women together with Michelle. It was a group of so-called “shippers” who believed Sam and Cait were or at least should be a couple in real-life. He was convinced however, that Michelle, the attacker and the arsonist had splintered from this group because their behaviour was too extreme even for this most die-hard of delusional groups. He was trying to work out if there was more people involved in their smaller group. Sam’s agent confirmed multiple letters had been received addressed to Sam since the photos were published which we believed were from the same people who sent mine and they were now with the police who believed Sam himself may also be in danger.

 

The whole thing just made me feel sick and I just wanted the world to go away. The only saving grace was Sam who somehow managed to stay so strong and be so patient with me. He gave me space when I needed it, and smothered me with love and affection at every opportunity. He was growing more and more concerned about my behaviour though; he knew my history with my mental health after the accident, the attempted suicide, and the major depression. I’d overheard him talking with Hayley on the phone expressing his concerns and taking advice from the woman he knew had seen me through it all last time. I didn’t tell him I’d heard, but it did keep a small light on in my darkening mind knowing I had two people who cared deeply for me.

 

After three days I came out of the bedroom, it was almost lunchtime. Sam walking around the living room was talking on the phone and smiled brightly when he saw me. He held out his hand and I took it smiling weakly. He pulled me to him and embraced me with his free arm as he spoke.

 

“Yeah I’ll let you know when I know more. Sorry about all this!… I really appreciate your support. Talk soon.” he ended the call and threw the phone onto the couch and embraced me properly with both arms.

 

“Hello my love! How are you today?”

 

I sighed and lowered my head, butting it against his chest. “I’m awake. Good morning love!”

 

He lifted my head with his finger under my chin and leaned down to kiss me. “I’ve just made coffee!” he said releasing me and heading into the small kitchen we had. I followed slowly, he called back “We’ve had some news, good I think!”

Oh! That’ll make a change.

“Really? Do they have her?” I asked, as this was the only good news I could imagine.

 

He put a hot cup of coffee on the table and I sat down. He sat across from me. He lowered his head and sighed. “No love, not that, yet. Steve just left ten minutes ago, he’s been able to trace some communications between the three of them. Using the info we got from Michelle, he found details of the others. The police confirmed with him this morning, that the attacker was one of the people he’d identified… he has a name that we believe is the arsonist. It’s just a matter of time now love!”

WOW this is a step forward.

“That is good news!” I told him managing a smile.

 

He beamed and reached across the table “The end is in sight love. Then I can take you home to Glasgow!”

Err… did I miss a conversation?

I pulled my hands away from him and tilted my head. A eyebrow raised.

 

“Glasgow?”

 

He looked wounded, “I… err… well I thought that’s where we’d go.” his brow furrowed and he reached again for my hands. “I want to take you home love.”

It’s not my home.

I let him take my hands this time and I squeezed back but I wasn’t happy.

 

“Sam, my home is in ashes, I have things I need to sort out. I need to see Hayley… I appreciate the gesture but you can’t just make those decisions for me. I’m here only because we’re in danger, once this is sorted I need to figure out what I want to do next.”

 

Sam lowered his head, he looked ashamed “I’m sorry, I should have discussed this with you. You’ve not been well and I’ve been trying to look after you and well… well Hayley said when you are like this it’s better to just make decisions for you.”

 

I rolled my eyes and sighed with exasperation “Sam why do you think I had to go all the way to Alaska? Hayley’s been making my decisions for too long, and I let her, and I was stuck and miserable. I needed to start taking control of my life again. I thought you understood that?”

How can he not know this? We’ve discussed this.

I can’t have someone else controlling my life, not even Sam.

He nodded slowly, his head still lowered. “I’m really sorry Angie… tell me what you want to do.”

AARGH!!!

I let go of his hands and ran both of mine back through my hair. “That’s the problem. I’m not in control now am I? Between these crazy people who want to hurt us or worse and the bloody prison we’re stuck in here I’m not in control and I can’t think!” My voice was rising louder and louder . I stood up, pacing the room “I can’t make plans because every time I think I have a way forward someone tries to bloody kill me, or burn my house or send stupid bloody letters and anything I want to do goes right out the window and now you want to me just piss off to Scotland without so much as taking some time to look back at the ashes of my whole fucking life!” I was screaming by this point and Sam looked alarmed.

Don’t fucking look at me like that.

I have every fucking right to be angry.

I glared at him, “You’re supposed to be part of the solution Sam, but maybe you were right, maybe you’re part of the problem. "

 

I stormed back into the bedroom and slammed the door hard behind me. Standing breathlessly against it. It was lockable and I flicked the lock before marching over to the bed, I picked up two pillows, one in each hand and one after the other I slammed it down against the bed, again and again as hard as I could screaming with frustration with every swipe. I kept going until I completely ran out of energy and collapsed on the bed sobbing harder than I had in a very long time. Every bit of fear and grief and anger and hatred and frustration and helplessness poured through me and had exploded into this rage which ironically was also now out of my control.

 

I heard voices behind the door, a guard had heard the screaming. I heard Sam, his voice sounded angry and shaky “We’re ok, please just leave us alone for a while ok?”. A door closed and the only sound was my sobs for what felt like hours. Over time, my rage subsided and I realised I had lashed out at Sam and said hurtful things.

Stupid woman, he’s trying to look after you, he apologised and you said he was the problem.

Oh God. He must hate me.

He must think I’m so ungrateful.

I was like a crazy woman.

He’s been so quiet.

Has he gone?

Has he left me.

No Sam please!

I crawled weakly from the bed and unlocked the door, I opened it slowly, terrified I’d find an empty apartment. As I pulled the door towards me, what I found was Sam, sat on the floor leaning against the wall opposite, his knees drawn up, his hands around them and his head lifting from it’s lowered position as the door opened. His eyes were red from crying and his expression was so sorrowful I hated myself.

My fault. Fucking bitch!

But he’s here… you have one chance Angie, you don’t deserve it.

I fell to my knees and crawled to him “Sam… Sam I’m sorry. I’m so sorry my love.” I pleaded. I knelt in front of his raised knees, sitting back on my heels. He watched me but his expression didn’t change.

 

I reached for his hands. Slipping my fingers into his hands as they clasped around his knees. He didn’t move. I had thought I was cried out earlier but now hot tears dropped down my cheeks.

He hates me, he’s just still here because he has to be.

“Sam, my sweet man, please. I didn’t mean it, I was so angry, but not at you my love, you have been my saviour. I’m so sorry Sam please forgive me.” I reached forward and stroked his face, his skin was flushed and damp with tears. His eyes closed when I touched him .

 

“Sam please forgive me. I can’t lose you, please, I never meant it. I’m a crazy woman you know that!”

 

One side of his mouth twitched.

 

“Sam, I love you, I love you so much. Please Sam, forgive me?” I lowered both of my hands and leaned back onto my heels, resting my hands on my knees, lowering my head. “Sam please I’m begging you, don’t leave me.”

 

His hands moved and held each side of my face, lifting my head slowly. Once we were eye to eye he lowered his legs either side of me and opened his arms inviting me silently into an embrace. I fell into him, and he wrapped me in his arms and held me. My head rested against his shoulder and he leaned down and spoke so softly. “Forgiven my love.” he kissed me softly and rocked us gently. “You were angry, and you have every right to be so. I’ve been selfish, not thinking about what you have lost. I want a life with you so much. I’m truly sorry Angie, do you forgive me?”

 

I nodded against his shoulder and nuzzled into his neck. “Forgiven my love.” I repeated back to him and we held each other tightly.

 

“You need to tell me when you are frightened, or sad, or frustrated” he said after a few minutes, “let me help you, even if it’s just sharing it. I need to know what’s going on behind those beautiful eyes. I know you want to control your own life, but there’s no shame in asking for help sometimes.”

He’s right. I’ve kept it all inside, that’s why it exploded so fiercely.

“I’ll try love. I promise you I’ll try.” I told him, still resting against his shoulder.

 

He nodded, kissed my forehead and squeezed me tight. “That’s all I can ask for.”

 

I lifted my head and smiled up at him, “I do love you so much Sam. Thank you for sticking with me, despite my tantrums.”

 

He smiled back, full of love in his eyes. “That smile right there, totally worth it. I Love you so much!”

 

We kissed tenderly, lingering, stroking the other’s faces with our fingers. It was almost like we were back on that couch in Alaska, kissing properly (without me running away) for the first time. We relaxed into each other, kissing noses and necks and earlobes, being playful and loving, rebuilding the bubble that had briefly been damaged.

 

I licked behind his earlobe then blew gently on it. I knew he was particularly sensitive there, he moaned, a low growl at the back of his throat. I did it again and he pulled me tighter to him, turning his head to kiss me hungrily, his tongue probed and duelled with mine, his hands gripped me almost painfully as his need became clear.

 

We hadn’t made love since arriving at the safehouse; while I had relished his hugs, his affection, his warmth, my depressive mood just wouldn’t allow me to be in the right frame of mind and he never once pressed me on the subject. As the fog started to lift from me I knew exactly what I needed.

What WE need!

I slipped my hand underneath his T-Shirt, feeling his warm skin, tracing the paths his firm muscles made around his back, my fingertips pressed into his flesh hard, and wanting to mark him, to make him mine forever. His hand started a similar mission, slipping beneath my top, easily unclasping my bra. and pressing into my skin with similar need.

 

His strength astounded me as he somehow managed to slip an arm under my knees, another around my shoulders and he picked me up as he stood as if I were light as a feather. Barely breaking from his kisses as he walked us into the bedroom and lowered me to the bed and moved on top of me in one fluid movement.

 

“Been wanting to do that since the day I met you.” he grinned down at me. I giggled and he slid my top and bra over my head, up along my arms before tossing them carelessly across the room. Then quickly removing his T-Shirt before lowering himself on me, his mouth on my breast hungrily sucking and biting at the nipple. I gave myself to the sensations letting all that had concerned me be washed from my mind as sighed and moaned, my fingers in his hair gripping and pressing into his scalp.

 

He flipped us so he was on his back and I on my knees sat astride him breathlessly panting as I looked down at him. He reached down, sliding the jogging pants he was wearing down, lifting his hips in the process, a mischievous grin on his lips. He reached under my skirt and yanked forcefully at my underwear ripping it off looking very proud of himself.

 

“Hey they’re brand new!” I protesting grinning widely.

 

“I’ll buy you as many as you’ll ever need.” he answered, his voice low and full of hunger he reached down between us, grabbing his hard cock and guiding it to me, I lifted my hips to aid him and lowered myself on to him, sinking down until he completely filled me before rocking my hips my hand on his hard muscular abdomen as I supported myself. His head fell back his lips parted as he moaned.

 

“Angie, my Angie!” he whispered his eyes closed and his hips rocking up to me, one hand held my waist, the other held a breast, kneading it firmly.

 

“I’m here my love.” I gasped moving steadily pressing myself against him, feeling him as deep as he could be within me hard and and wanting.

I missed this so much. How have I not wanted this since the second I knew he was back?

He suddenly gripped my hips and we flipped again, this time on our sides, face to face our bodies still joined and rocking together our chests pressed together and our faces so close our hot breath was the only thing between us. Eye to eye we continued our rocking prolonging the inevitable the release as long as we could, this was our real reunion, the last few days had just been a dream, now we were together again.

 

As his body convulsed, a soft cry escaped his parted lips and I felt his warm seed flow into me. I kissed him hard and deep, continuing to rock, pressing myself hard against him until I was finally overcome and I buried my face into his shoulder, biting at the hard flesh I cried out only stopping as the wave subsided. Sam held me tight against him and we lay like that for a few minutes until our breathing recovered.

 

Finally his hold relaxed and I felt him kiss my forehead and chuckle. “Thought you were going to draw blood then.”

 

It was only then I realised that I’d bitten him so hard, I pulled back to see. I’d left a very visible mark on his shoulder, I touched it lightly and smiled. Sam raised a brow and I licked my lips.

 

“No question about it now, you’re marked, you’re mine!” I grinned smugly and Sam laughed.

 

“There was never any question here, but if that’s what you needed my love, I’ll let you brand me. I’m yours forever.” His eyes sparkled as he watched me. His hand lightly stroked the skin at my hip.

Forever? Does he know he said that?

“Forever?” I questioned. I needed to know, I wasn’t going to waste time wondering any more.

It’s crazy, it’s been such a short time and we’ve had all this drama, but I know this feeling, and I know it’s forever.

His hand moved to stroke my face, his eyes locked with mine, full of love. I hoped he could see in my eyes that he had better be 100 percent sure of his response. I was glad he seemed to take a few moments to truly think before answering.

 

“I hope it’s not too soon to say it love, but yes, forever, I’m yours.” he sounded a little frightened.

 

I reached up to stroke his face as well. Tracing his cheekbones, I took a deep breath.

 

“If it’s what you truly feel Sam, then it’s never too soon. Please be sure though, be completely sure.”

 

I was leaving my heart totally open to him and I knew he understood that.

 

He smiled, his eyes glistening. I could feel his heart racing against me. He spoke softly but confidently “I don’t know how, or why, but I am Angie, I’m completely sure! Is that OK?”

Is that OK? Oh Lord, this man!

I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding and it came out like a short laugh. “Is that OK? Are you kidding? It is perfect my love because I am yours forever too.”

 

He let out a relieved breath as well and beamed at me. “Angie, you don’t have to say that yet, I know… I understand you still have some issues with Daniel.”

You’re not hearing me!

I sat up and shook my head looking away as I spoke. “Sam, a part of me will grieve for Daniel until the day I die. Nothing will change that. What I know now, is how I feel about you, how I feel when I’m with you and how I feel when I’m not. I know those things, and because I know those things and because I know that when I feel like this, it’s forever, that’s never optional for me. When I love, I love completely, that’s who I am. "

 

Sam was still lay down, he looked up at me and watched me silently. I smiled down at him then got out of the bed, picked up a robe and put it on before walking to the window. I watched some trainees on the obstacle course outside, two floors below.

 

Strangely the silence wasn’t awkward. It felt right to be quiet, to absorb what we had both shared. I folded my arms as I watched and smiled to myself.

I thought I would be alone for the rest of my life.

Maybe Daniel did send him to me, so I wouldn’t be alone.

I love Sam so much, I’m totally sure of that.

When this is all over, I’ll follow him to the end of the world.

I heard him moving, getting out of bed. I kept looking outside, my gaze focussed on a particular group of young men and women who were tackling the course. I noticed that while they were making every effort to clear each obstacle themselves, when one was too big a challenge, they helped each other.

Just like Sam and I.

I sensed Sam approaching me, then felt his strong arms wrap around me and his lips on my neck. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the feeling of him, of his love, I felt peaceful for the first time since Alaska.

 

Glass shattered, and I was being pulled backwards onto the floor. I opened my eyes, the window was shattered, there were loud shouts outside. I had fallen onto Sam, I rolled off him and he groaned. I moved to my knees, he lay in front of me, his face contorted with pain. I thought I had just winded him when we fell until I saw the growing pool of blood.

 

I screamed.

Chapter Text

I had been unconscious when they pulled me from the car wreck two years before. I didn’t wake for three days. My parents were killed instantly, Daniel wasn’t. I didn’t witness the efforts made to save Daniel, they had apparently had him in surgery for almost 12 hours before he was finally lost. I didn’t pace the halls and pray to every God, Saint and Angel I knew of that he would be OK. I didn’t watch every doctor who came toward me looking for some sign that he was going to give me bad news. I didn’t shove away every person who tried to offer me comfort. I didn’t see blood pour from him and the colour drain from his face. I didn’t see his eyes filled with terror and fear. I didn’t hear him say my name and reach for me as they took him to surgery. No, all of this I didn’t do for Daniel, but I did for Sam.

 

They had tried to stop me going to the hospital. There was no way I was leaving his side. I held his hand and stroked his face as the guards performed First Aid, putting pressure on the wound until the Paramedics arrived. I watched as they applied more dressings, gave him drugs and moved him onto a trolley. I took his hand and held it as we moved through the building to the Ambulance and I insisted on riding with him, seated where he could see me if they wouldn’t allow me to hold his hand.

 

I finally let him out of my sight as he was wheeled into surgery.

 

I was assigned a private waiting room, I couldn’t sit, I paced, I prayed, I watched the door for the slightest hope of someone coming in to give me news. Steve joined me after an hour, he had more news about what had happened but I told him I didn’t care. All I cared about was Sam. The news could wait. Steve reached out to place a reassuring hand on my arm, he was telling me he was sure Sam would be fine. I shrugged his hand away.

Nobody can be sure. Nobody.

I couldn’t bear the confines of the room any more and moved out to the corridor outside, pacing back and forth the full length. Every doctor I saw in the corridor held the possibility of news, good or bad. I would watch them approach, my breath held, and as they passed me I would breathe again only because I wanted to live to hear he was OK.

 

Finally a doctor approached and stopped. He took a long breath and I felt like screaming at him.

 

“We’ve repaired the damage to the liver and the surrounding tissue. He’s in recovery now and you can see him when we bring him out to his room. The bullet passed straight through, we are very hopeful he will make a full recovery.”

 

I fainted.

 

I came round back in the waiting room, the doctor taking my pulse and smiling warmly down at me.

 

“Rest, have some water.” He said gently. “As soon as he is out of recovery, someone will come and tell you.” he patted my hand, turning to Steve before leaving. “Make sure she rests.”

 

Steve nodded and moved to sit next to me. He reached across and rested his hand on my shoulder tentatively. I didn’t shrug him off this time instead I leaned into him, resting my head on his shoulder. “He’s OK.” I whispered.

 

Steve patted my shoulder reassuringly “Thank God!” he answered clearly relieved himself.

 

We sat quietly for a few minutes before Steve rose and got some water for me. I sipped at it, starting to slowly feel steady again.

He’s going to be OK.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I didn’t know who I was thanking and I didn’t care. I just wanted to see his beautiful eyes smiling up at me again.

 

Finally a nurse opened the door and invited me to follow her. I stood slowly, not quite trusting my feet. Once I felt sure I would not faint again I followed along the corridor my heart pounding in my chest. She opened the door to a room and I stepped in holding my breath.

 

Sam lay on the bed, his head raised up, his eyes were closed, leads and tubes came from his body to the machines and the bags on the drip stands. A machine beeped regularly and the sun shone in brightly through the window, it highlighted the lighter parts of his hair and made his skin glow.

He looks like an Angel.

I moved across the room to the bed feeling like I was pulled there by an invisible force. I touched his hand, slipping my fingers around his. Feeling his warmth again was like a tonic. I sat on the edge of the bed and stroked his face.

He looks so peaceful.

So beautiful.

He stirred, his fingers closing around mine as his eyes flickered. He was having trouble opening them, the lingering effects from the anaesthetic. I let out a heavy breath, relief as he moved. “I’m here Sam. It’s OK, I’m here.” I whispered to him smiling down to him.

 

The fingers squeezed my hands tighter.

He can hear me.

I squeezed back and leaned down, resting my head on his chest. “It’s OK love, rest, I’m here.”

 

I stayed there, listening to his heart beat, holding his hand and whispering to him. I must have fallen asleep because I woke when I felt a hand in my hair. I lifted my head and beamed as bright blue eyes smiled back at me.

 

“Oh I Love You!” I cried leaning over to kiss him.

 

His arm held me close to him. “I Love you!” he answered hoarsely. “Were you injured?” he loosened his hold and lifted me from him, looking at me with concern.

 

I shook my head and marvelled at how he was asking about me “I’m fine love, it was just you.” I sat up and ran my fingers through my hair. “I thought I was going to lose you.”

 

I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly “Sam… when I said forever, I was hoping it would be longer than five minutes.”

 

He laughed and groaned as pain hit him. “Oh Jesus Angie don’t make me laugh” he clutched his side where the wound was and reached for me with his other hand. “I plan on it being much longer my love.” He looked around the room. “Where’s Steve?”

 

“Outside.” Sam nodded to the door, he wanted to speak to Steve, I shook my head and held his hand in both of mine “Not yet love, please, I just want to be with you and not worrying about whatever new threat is out there.”

 

He shook his head. “I need to know you’re safe here love. Please.” he was serious and I could see he was tired but wouldn’t rest until he knew what he needed to know. I sighed, placing a hand on his cheek and kissing him. “Stubborn man!” I sighed as I stood and went to the door and beckoned Steve inside.

 

Steve followed me in, I went to sit with Sam, on his bed, our hands clasped. Steve smiled and told Sam he was happy to see he was OK before sitting in a chair.

 

“What do we need to know?” Sam asked, straight to business. “Is Angie safe here?”

 

Steve leaned forward and smiled. “I believe she is. We have her, the arsonist, she was the one there today. " he shook his head in wonderment “Bloody determined bitch! We’re still trying to find out how she got into the grounds, but some trainees got her before she got back out. Don’t know how she found you there either yet, and I won’t rest until I do, but the important thing is, we have her. There’s been no evidence of any others involved.” he sighed and smiled, it was clear he was relieved too. “It’s all over now.” he confirmed.

Finally! Is it really over?

I felt the weight of the world lift from me my head felt light and I swayed. Sam gripped my arm and pulled me to him. “Angie!” he gasped “Are you OK?”

 

My head dropped to his shoulder, I didn’t faint completely this time but my body felt weak. I looked up and tried to smile at him. My voice shaking. “It’s over!”

 

“She fainted earlier” Steve was on his feet on my other side now and I glared at him as he told Sam.

 

Sam stroked my hair and kissed my forehead. “Are you OK Angie?”

 

I felt weak but so happy. “I’m OK love, just overwhelmed.” I lifted my head and smiled at them both “Plus I’m bloody starving.”. It was true I hadn’t eaten since the day before and we were now in the late afternoon. It was at this point a nurse entered the room and took observations and check the drain. Steve took the opportunity to volunteer to go and get me something to eat. The nurse was happy with Sam’s recovery so far and told us the surgeon would be back that evening to check-up himself.

 

Once she was gone Sam shuffled to one side of the bed and invited me to sit next to him properly on the other side, his arm around me. He stroked my cheek looking concerned “You really do look pale love.” he told me. “Are you sure you’re OK?”

 

I nuzzled into his neck and chuckled. “Only you could be lying in this bed with a bullet wound and worrying about me. I’m fine love, nothing a sandwich and some rest won’t fix. It’s been a bit stressful you know!”

 

He squeezed me close to him and kissed the top of my head. “I hope so.” he whispered. “I’m so glad it’s all over, even if this is what it took.” he winced as he shifted his position and put his hand over his wound. I gently put my hand there too, careful not to apply pressure. I don’t know why I did it, some unconscious wish to lay my hands on him and heal him perhaps.

 

“I don’t know how much you remember” I started, “I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t understand what had happened. I was so happy and then… there was so much blood.”

 

He played with the ends of my hair with his fingers. “I think I remember most of it, I didn’t really know what was happening though. The pain… and you screaming and I wanted to hold you but I couldn’t move for the pain. I remember the guys coming in, saying something about a gunshot, it still didn’t make sense.” he kissed my forehead again. “You looked so frightened. I just kept telling myself that if these guys were there you’d be safe. I think I passed out because then I only remember waking in the recovery room, then here.”

 

I closed my eyes. The memories coming back to my traumatised mind in pieces. “You were always conscious, I think it must have been the drugs the Paramedics gave you that made you forget the rest. I stayed with you as long as I could, until they took you to surgery. They tried to stop me going in the ambulance, I don’t think they had caught her at that point, people were running about everywhere, but I insisted. Steve made me wear a vest.” I pointed to the bulletproof vest that lay on a chair in the corner of the room. I noticed he didn’t respond and when I looked up he was sleeping again. Still under the influence of sedation. I kissed his cheek and slid off the bed, leaving him to rest. Steve appeared moments later with a sandwich, a chocolate bar and a hot cup of tea.

 

I sat in a chair looking out of the window as I ate. Lots of people milled about outside. I considered as they went about their lives, none of them had any idea what I and Sam we going through. It reminded me that nobody ever really knows what another person is going through at any one time. Those women, who all had tried to hurt myself or Sam, who had almost killed us, who I wanted to hate with all my heart, I couldn’t, because I had no idea and I never would what it was that brought them to that state of mind.

 

I looked over to the bed, Sam slept peacefully and I smiled.

I can understand why they wanted him.

I can understand why they believed they loved him.

I will never understand why they would want to hurt him, either physically or emotionally by hurting me.

I should be thankful I can’t understand that. I don’t want to ever be in a place where I understand that.


Sam stayed in the hospital for two more days before the doctor allowed him to be discharged. News of the shooting had got out and there was a lot of press interest despite multiple pleas for privacy. I had spent most of my time at the hospital but Sam had insisted I went home to sleep. Steve stayed with us and arranged for me to be taken back to the safehouse from the underground car park so I wouldn’t be seen by the reporters and small group of Sam’s well-wishing fans waiting outside the hospital. When it was time for Sam to leave he felt torn between leaving in the same way and acknowledging his loyal fans some of whom camped outside the hospital for two days in a vigil for his recovery. In the end we opted for a compromise. He wasn’t up to posing for photos or signing anything, so the car was brought to the entrance of the hospital and the small group kept behind a barrier as he left the hospital, with me on his arm, he stopped briefly to give his fans a wave, shouted thank you and then got in the car.

 

We had agreed to go to Sam’s house near Glasgow. I still had things to sort out at my home, but nothing was urgent and I’d decided I could stay with Sam a little longer before heading back to tidy things up. Hayley wasn’t happy but after I invited her to join us in a couple of weeks she settled. We said goodbye to Steve, Sam wanted to take him out to dinner to thank him but Steve wouldn’t hear of it, especially as Sam was not really up to going out just yet.

 

Sam was excited to be finally taking me to his home. He held my hand as we drew closer “I hope you’ll like it Angie, I do, but I’m never there enough.”

 

I stroked the back of his hand with my thumb “I know I’ll love it, if you call it home.” he smiled at me and held his gaze for a few moments. He looked like he wanted to say something but was holding back. I tilted my head questioningly and he blushed and turned away to look out the window.

OK… he’ll tell me when he’s ready!

We arrived, the house had a large gate which opened up to reveal the beautiful house, Sam had told me it was Grade 2 Listed, it was built in that blonde sandstone that is so prevalent to the older buildings in the area, a manor house with an imposing Greek style entrance, large windows and surrounded by the gravel driveway a well manicured lawn and Ivy climbing the building. There was a separate garage built to the side, more recently built but sympathetic to the main house. Once the gate closed behind us we were surrounded by high walls and trees, it felt very private.

 

Sam led me inside, our driver brought our bags in and was kind enough to take them upstairs. Sam offered him a coffee before he headed back but he politely declined and left us to it. Once we’d seen him off Sam took my hand, we were stood in the entrance hall, it was wide and there was a staircase ahead on the left side, the other side the corridor continued with three doors along the way. On our left was an open archway which led into the main living room.

 

“I’ll give you the tour.” Sam grinned.

 

I shook my head. “You’ll sit down and rest like you were told to do, I’ll find my way around.” I led him into the living room and pointed at the couch.

 

He pulled me into his arms, holding me close. “I’m fine, and I want to show you, please!”

He’s doing the puppy dog eyes… I’m way too susceptible to that!

“A short tour then, you’re not meant to be on your feet for too long.” I conceded rolling my eyes.

 

He gave a boyish smile and I he knew I was putty in his hands. He kissed me tenderly and ran his fingers through my hair before turning me around, still encircling me with his arms.

 

“This, is the living room.”

 

I looked at the soft couches and the armchairs, the bookcases filled with ornaments, mementos as well as books and I lifted my head back to look up at him.

 

“You don’t say!” I teased grinning.

 

He ran his tongue over his front teeth and bit his lip.

Yes love, I’m going to be like that!

He rolled his eyes and shook his head, leading me by the hand out into the hall and across to the first of the rooms on the other side, a study, simply furnished with an antique writing desk, behind which was a very comfortable looking leather chair. There was a fire place and on the other side of it was a small round table and two leather armchairs. There were more bookcases, and photographic prints on the walls of views around Scotland.

 

“I don’t use this much, usually just on my laptop in the living room but it’s nice to have, if I have guests, they can stay out there and I can work in here if needed.” he commented.

 

“I love it.” I told him, “It’s cosy!”

 

He seemed pleased with that and led me into the next room, an equally cosy dining room , the table was large and had eight chairs around it. Some paintings on the wall in here with some wall lights. I could imagine this being quite a lovely setting for a dinner party, again Sam indicated he only really used the room if he had guests. If alone he would eat in the kitchen and that was our next stop. At the back of the house, the kitchen was large and had a breakfast bar as well as a small dining table with two chairs which were set out near the French windows The kitchen itself was sympathetically designed with the style of the house but contained all the mod-cons I would expect from a single man of his age and means.

 

I crossed to the French Windows to look out at the garden that opened out onto the back garden. Again the garden was beautifully cared for and while there was not much in the way of flowers for the time of year there were plenty of buds starting to appear and I imagined it would be quite magical in summer. Two very large oak trees framed the garden, one at each side, it’s branches reaching out to each other across the garden.

 

“Lovers” I commented.

 

Sam stood behind me his hands on my shoulders. “Hmm?”

 

I pointed out to the trees. “They’re lovers, reaching for each other. See how they lean towards each other, their branches touch and intertwine up there. I would bet, if one was chopped down the other would just die.”

 

Sam’s hands slid down my arms and circled my waist, pulling me back to him as he kissed my neck “I know the feeling.”.

 

I looked up at him and we kissed tenderly. “I’m so glad you’re here Angie, I…” he paused, seeming unsure if he should continue.

There he is holding back again.

“What is it love? Say what you want to say.” I encouraged.

 

He smiled nervously, turning me in his arms to face him, he swallowed. “I don’t want to push too hard… and it’s OK if you’re not ready yet.”

What is he talking about?

I frowned, confused. “Sam, tell me what’s on your mind. Remember, we promised each other.”

 

He nodded and took a breath. “It’s just, I want this to be your home too. Our home. I was thinking about it in the hospital, but, I know you didn’t feel ready to leave Warrington.”

 

I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him down to kiss me. “I did a lot of thinking too love, last few days. I need to go back to tidy everything up, get things in place to clear the site and rebuild. I won’t leave that mess there for my neighbours. It’s not my home any more though. You are.”

 

Sam’s eyes glistened as he smiled in disbelief. “Really? You’ll stay, make this home with me?”

 

I nodded and he pulled me into a hug. I held him, wary of pressing my body against his wound. “I can’t leave you Sam, I had already decided that before the shooting.” I whispered to him.

 

“Angie I’m so happy, I can’t believe this has just been weeks, but I can’t imagine life without you now. This is right, WE are right, I know it.”

 

I could feel his tears against my cheek. I kissed his face and brushed them away. “I know it too.”


That evening we had a visitor, Sam’s Mum Chrissie came by. She had been understandably worried but Sam had put her off visiting at the hospital insisting it wasn’t as bad as it sounded, but as soon as she heard he was home she jumped straight in the car and made the trip from Edinburgh.

 

Sam welcomed her in with a big hug, she was much shorter than Sam, around my height and had silver hair. She had a lovely smile I noted straight away, it was clear where Sam got that from.

 

“Mum you really didn’t have to come” Sam told her as she embraced her youngest.

 

“Of course I did Sam, I’m your mother, I’ve been worried sick!” She held him at arms length looking him up and down, making sure he was in once piece then nodded and smiled as she looked over to me. “And this must be the famous Angie.”

 

I raised a brow to Sam as I approached smiling.

Famous eh? What you been saying?

“Well I don’t know about famous, lovely to meet you Chrissie.”

 

“Well my dear, I’ve heard so much about you it feels like you are.” I was about to offer my hand and she smiled broadly and moved closer to hug me. “I’m so happy to finally meet you.”

 

I looked over her shoulder at Sam who was blushing as he smiled. “Come in Mum, let’s get you some tea.” he said ushering her into the living room.

 

I insisted he sit down and rest and I went into the kitchen to make tea leaving them alone for a few minutes. As much as I was happy to finally meet her it was already quite an overwhelming day and I took a few minutes to take some breaths and calm myself before bringing the drinks and snacks into the living room.

 

“…and here she is.” Sam beamed as I carried in the tray. Chrissie, turned and smiled just as brightly. I placed the tray on the table and dished out the cups and started to pour the tea. “Talking about me eh?” I teased winking at Sam.

 

Sam took a breath and Chrissie chuckled “Oh he’s barely talked about anything else since you met.”

I had no idea!

“Exaggerate much mum!” Sam truly looked mortified and I laughed as I sat next to him and leaned in.

 

“Surely you’re not suggesting your mum is lying?” I teased and Chrissie laughed.

 

“Oh I like you already!” she declared.

 

The ice broken we relaxed and sat back chatting. Chrissie was obviously keen to understand what we knew about the attacks and was understandably horrified when Sam shared the full story, as we knew it.

 

“Oh Sam, I had no idea.” she sighed “Is this happening a lot?”

 

Sam gave her a reassuring smile. “No mum, there’s some people who don’t really respect privacy but these women were very extreme…” she still looked concerned “…and they are all safely locked away.”

 

“I had no idea.” she sighed “I’m not sure I would have encouraged you to pursue acting if I knew it would lead to this.”

 

Sam sighed and stood up and moved over to sit on the arm of her chair to give her a hug. “I’m OK mum, and I have the best nurse!” he grinned.

 

“When he does as he’s told!” I added and Chrissie slapped his leg in admonishment making us laugh.

 

We spent a couple of hours chatting with Chrissie and I getting to know each other and it seemed to go well. Before she left after she kissed her son farewell she asked me to walk her to her car. Once we were out of his earshot she leaned into me. “He loves you, I know you know that, but did you know, he’s only let me meet a couple of girlfriends over the years, and none of them he’s ever asked to live with him. You seem like a really lovely woman, please take care of his heart!”

 

I hugged her tightly, tears in my eyes. “I will, I promise!” I told her. “Thank you for raising such a beautiful man!”

 

She hugged me again and got in her car and I saw her off, closing the gate behind her. I walked back to the front door where Sam was waiting.

 

“What did she say?” he asked curiously.

 

I tapped my nose knowingly and winked “Not telling!” I teased. “Now sit down!”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

The next few days were spent in relative solitude, just the two of us. Sam’s recovery meant he wasn’t able to do much at all for at least two weeks for fear he could damage the internal stitches. We were contacted by the police who confirmed the shooter had been charged with attempted murder as well as possession of an illegal firearm and arson. They would keep us posted but couldn’t offer much more information until they had put together their case for the Crown. When it went to trial we would more than likely be told more about the group then. That could be months away they told us, so we decided to try to forget about it for now. The police were satisfied though that there was nobody else involved.

 

Sam’s publicity team had released a statement to the press thanking everyone for their messages of concern, stating he was recovering well and would not be making any further comment about the attack in order to ensure he didn’t prejudice any prosecution. This seemed to get the press off our backs and other than calls from family and friends we were left to our own devices. It was so nice to be the two of us, even if we couldn’t do some of the things we desperately wanted to as we couldn’t risk straining the healing abdominal muscles.

 

Sam seemed so happy, he would go to great lengths to reassure me that he now considered this ‘our’ home and that if I wanted to make changes I should feel free. At this stage, as I explained to him, I was just happy we were home and together. Sam hated me waiting on him but I insisted, I wanted him healed perfectly and as fast as possible so every time he tried to help me in the kitchen I would send him away grumbling. He had a cleaner who came twice a week which I appreciated because while I didn’t mind cooking, I had never been much of a housekeeper and it was quite a large house. After two weeks it started to feel like I was home, we had a routine, and he was healing nicely.

 

We returned from the hospital in Glasgow where I had driven him in his car for a check-up and to have his stitches removed. Sam was instructed to continue to refrain from his gym routine for another two weeks, and then he could return to some lighter exercises, building up to his more usual routine. He could take on a little more exertion now though than the previous two weeks which made him smile smugly as he less than delicately asked the doctor about sexual activity.

 

“As long as you don’t overdo it.” the doctor grinned and Sam licked his lips and waggled his eyebrows at me causing me to hide my face in my hands.

 

“You swine!” I playfully hit his arm as we had walked back to the car. “I was mortified!”

 

He laughed and wrapped an arm around my shoulder and leaned down to kiss my cheek “I’m not waiting a second longer than I have to, I’ve missed being with you.”

 

Once back in the house I’d barely taken my coat off when he grabbed my hand and led me upstairs. “You weren’t kidding!” I teased and he grinned widely continuing up the stairs. He led me to our bedroom, it was a large room with windows which looked out over the hills behind the house. The bed was a large oak-framed sleigh style and as we stood before it Sam wrapped me tightly in his arms and kissed me deeply.

 

“I want you so much” he whispered, his voice low his kisses moving to my neck “If the doc had said no I may have hurt him.”

 

We had shared this bed since we got here but refrained from anything more than kisses and cuddling. Sam planned to change that. I wanted him too, always, but my mind was still wary of aggravating his injury. I responded to his kisses but he sensed I was holding back.

 

He stopped, his hands in my hair and his eyes locked with mine “Angie, it’ll be OK. Relax, I won’t break!” he gave a wry grin and tickled that spot on my neck he knew drove me nuts.

 

My eyes closed and I tried to control the desire within me. “That’s not fair.” I gasped. He leaned in and kissed that same spot, making me moan.

 

“I don’t intend to be fair Angie….” his hands slid under my top, flicking open my bra strap in one swift flick of his fingers. “… I intend to make love to you…” his hands moved down to unfasten my jeans and slide them and my underwear down. I stepped out of them. “… in our bed….” he gently pushed me back onto the bed. Crawling over me, his eyes piercing mine. “… in our home….” He slid both hands up from my waist pushing up my top and my bra over my head and along my arms. “… I intend for you to be satisfied…” he kissed me, his tongue probing my mouth deeply and teasing me. “… and know you are mine…” he kissed my left breast, sucking and biting at the flesh, there was no doubt I would be marked. “… and I am yours…” he kissed down across my stomach. I lifted my head to watch, his eyes looked up at me he kissed to the bottom of my stomach, the edge of my pubic mound. I was aching with need, every nerve tingling in my body as it always did with him. “… to serve you always my love…” he kissed the soft flesh between my legs once and I moaned loudly, still looking up at me, his eyes blazing I saw the grin on his lips. “… to only bring you pleasure.” his mouth opened and his tongue flicked within the soft folds and there he stayed, his hands kneading my thighs parting them further allowing him to probe deeper and harder with his mouth.

 

I was lost, my body had been aching for this, for the sensations only he could provide. No man I’d ever been with could make me feel the way he did when he tried to please me. I arched into him wanting more and yet never wanting it to end. He sucked at the aching bud and I thought I would explode, my whole body responding with a convulsion, he did it again and again, he licked at it, and I could feel the sensation deep within me building. I gasped his name and it spurred him on, he knew I was close. My hands gripped the soft pillow above my head as the pressure rose and rose, surely I would break soon, but he kept me on the edge, pausing for a second just enough to stop me going over. I was panting and moaning like I’d never done before, I had no control, he was the master of me body and soul at this point. He slipped three fingers inside me suddenly and I screamed at the sudden very pleasurable intrusion, still continuing to lick and suck at my now throbbing bud he curled the long fingers within me and found that magic spot within which made my mind explode. I thrust against his fingers, his tongue, desperate for release from the now overwhelming pressure that had built within me. I was crying and laughing at once and as he stimulated me in both areas the release finally came with a loud cry and my body arching and spasming , my mind lost and my heart fit to burst out of my chest.

 

He brought me down slowly, his licks turned to soft kisses, his fingers continued to move slowly within me, until he sensed I could bear no more. Slowly withdrawing them he kissed the inside of my thighs and slowly back up my body which was limp and breathless, every faculty had left me I thought. He returned to my breasts, this time marking the right one with his mouth in the same way as he had the left. I managed to lower my arms, they ached from the tension I had held in them as he lifted me higher and higher before letting me fall so spectacularly. I stroked his hair with my fingers, wanting his lips with mine, needing to see his eyes and come back to earth. He moved up, his body heavy over mine as he kissed me passionately. He raised himself up on his elbows and looked down at me, his eyes were glazed and he was flushed red “You are magnificent.” he told me breathlessly.

You did all the work!

I couldn’t speak, I grinned up at him my total satisfaction could not have been clearer and he leaned down to kiss me again, more tenderly this time. I wrapped my legs around him, urging him to me, “I need you” I gasped and tried to flip us so I could be on top, he resisted the flip. “Not today cowgirl” he grinned pinning me back down.

 

“Sam!” I protested, and he responded by lifting my hips and thrusting deep inside me in a single hard thrust. I cried out and gripped his shoulders. His eyes practically glowed they were so bright and as he thrust again, and again, I understood, after two weeks of feeling helpless he wanted to feel powerful, to be in control. I surrendered to it and moaned with each thrust, I loved the feeling of him inside me, and I moved with him, as he thrust harder and faster, his need was clear and it wasn’t going to be long. He threw his head back his eyes closed and I tightened the grip of my legs around him, my ankles crossing behind his ass and helping with each thrust. “I’m yours Sam” I gasped, he moaned, I knew he was close. “Yours forever.” he groaned, letting out a cry as I felt him fill me with his seed then fall heavily on me, breathless.

 

I always loved this moment when we made love, when he was spent, and vulnerable. I kept my legs wrapped around him and held him to me tightly. I could feel his heart hammering and his hot breath on my neck. I felt him wince, a hand moving to his side and I was concerned he had done too much. “You OK?” I asked releasing him from my grip.

 

He rolled to the side and was smiling at me in the goofiest way. “Oh I don’t think I’ve ever been better !”

 

I reached to touch his side and looked at him with concern and he put his hand over mine. “I had a tiny twinge, nothing more than I’ve had before, stop worrying.” he leaned across and kissed me, his hand moving up to my breast and stroking it tenderly. “My turn to mark you.” he said proudly inspecting the red marks he had left. He kissed each one, “mine”.

 

I stroked his hair and sighed. “How do I love you so much?” I asked him.

 

He lifted his gaze to me and smiled confidently. “Because we belong together, two halves of one whole. Do you feel that?”

 

I nodded and pulled his head down to rest on my chest. I was stroking his hair, his neck and he was stroking my breasts when the phone rang. Sam growled low like a dog warning off an intruder and it made me giggle. He lifted his head and smiled seeing me laughing and rolled his eyes. “OK I’ll get it.” He rolled off me and sat on the edge of the bed as he picked up the phone.

 

“Hello… Oh Hi Hayley, I’ll just get… you are? Oh yes erm… of course. Give us a minute and we’ll be right out and I’ll open the gate.”

Bloody hell I completely forgot! Hayley’s due to visit today. She’s here!

We’d spoken about it that morning, as we’d made sure we’d be back from the hospital in time, but with Sam so distracted once he got the “all clear” we’d both let it slip our minds.

 

I got a fit of the giggles as we rushed to dress and go downstairs, Sam went ahead of me as I battled with my now very tousled hair. By the time I came to the front door he’d opened the gate and she’d driven in and was just getting out of the car. I ran across to her and we embraced tightly.

I’ve missed her so much!

“Don’t think for a second I don’t know what you two were up to when I called.” she whispered teasingly in my ear. I stepped away trying to look innocent. “It’s all over your bloody smug faces” she grinned and I laughed. Nothing ever got past Hayley.

 

We brought in her bags, left them at the stairs and I took her straight to the kitchen. I knew my friend, she’d want a brew and an biscuit after that drive. I promised to give the full tour later.

 

Hayley was marvelling at what she had seen so far of the house and was looking out at the garden when Sam followed behind once he’d closed the gate again. I was making coffee and Sam approached Hayley and gave her a huge hug. She was taken completely off guard and it made me laugh. Once he let her go she looked stunned. “Err… what was that for?” she asked him. He smiled at her and answered simply, “For being an amazing friend, not just to Angie, but to me too.”

 

She was speechless. Sam wandered over to me and suggested I sit with Hayley, he would bring the drinks. I kissed him in thank you and I could tell, he was actually nervous. They had spoken a few times on the phone and even a couple of video calls and had already developed a friendly banter which amused me. Now they were finally face to face, they both seemed nervous.

 

We sat at the small dining table Sam asked “Do you prefer your coffee presented with or without a shirt?” I nearly died laughing, Hayley actually blushed and gave me the dirtiest look and I just stuck out my tongue.

 

It broke the ice though and after that conversation flowed easier. I presented her with the biscuit tin I had bought especially for her. I’d seen one online, almost identical to my old one and I knew I had to get it. It was chock full of her favourites. She had tears in her eyes and hugged me again. “I’ve really missed you, I’ve been so worried.” she told me.

 

“I know, and I’m sorry. I’m good though Hayley, you’ll see. I’m happy. I wish I hadn’t had to leave you with all the house stuff though.”

 

She shook her head “Kept me out of trouble” she said dismissing it. “You’re talk of the town now.”

 

I nodded and sighed knowing the way things worked in that town “Again!”

 

I pointed to the tin. “This’ll always be here for you, just like the old one was OK? Always welcome here, right Sam?”

 

I wanted to get that formality out of the way as soon as possible, Hayley and I had lived in each other’s houses more or less for more than twenty years. I knew she had her reservations about me agreeing to stay here, I wanted her to know, I may be further away but my home was still her home. I knew there would be plenty of talk about that later though.

 

Sam was just bringing the tray with three steaming mugs of coffee over and he smiled and nodded “Absolutely, anytime!”

 

Hayley grinned “I’ll call when I’m fifteen minutes away next time, give you a bit more time to tidy yourselves up.”

 

This time Sam blushed and I giggled reaching over to smooth his messy hair. Hayley watched us both and sighed “Dammit if I don’t want to hate this but you two are so damn cute together.”

 

My heart lifted.

Maybe she can bring herself to accept this after all.

We chatted and laughed and once Hayley was rested and I showed her to the room we’d prepared for her on the floor above ours. The house had three guest rooms, two larger ones on the top floor and a smaller one near our room . She gushed about the house once she and I were alone.

 

“Angie, this is so beautiful. You deserve this” she exclaimed looking out of the window which shared the same view as our room. “I just wish it wasn’t so far away!” she sounded sad and I crossed the room to hug her.

 

“Me too lovely… do you see though? Do you understand why?” I stood before her, holding her at arms length and smiling, hoping.

 

She chewed her lip and for a moment looked like she was fighting her own mind. “I don’t want to.” she grumbled then sighed. “But yes, I’m starting to see. You’re practically glowing. Both of you.” she grinned. “I never thought I’d see you love again. I never thought…”

 

I beamed “I know, I never thought I would either.” I closed my eyes. “I’ve not forgotten him, or what we had. He’ll always be in my heart.”

 

“You’re letting him go, and that’s ok Ange, that’s exactly what you needed, and what Daniel would want. He’d love you see you smile like this again.” we hugged again.

I needed to hear that.

“Speaking of … I’ve brought the things I saved from the house.” she said moving over to open a bag. She handed me my jewellery box, which was thankfully undamaged and the contents all ok. Then a shoebox which was filled with photos, some letters and trinkets from over the years. I sat on the edge of her bed and picked through the shoebox, memories in every item within. I felt quite overwhelmed.

This is all I have left.

At some point Sam had appeared at the doorway, he knocked lightly and asked if he could enter. Hayley consented and he came over and sat next to me. As if respecting that I was lost in my past at that point he didn’t touch me, he just sat quietly next to me and looked at the photographs and trinkets as I pulled them out one by one.

 

“This was your 40th birthday Hayley!” I held a picture of Daniel and I slow-dancing at the party we’d held for Hayley. My head on Daniel’s shoulder, eyes closed and he was kissing my cheek. “I think this was the last night we danced.” I touched the photograph of Daniel with my finger, my heart ached and I closed my eyes as tears fell and I leaned against Sam, resting my head on his shoulder. He wrapped an arm around me and kissed the top of my head, still silent, he wasn’t my lover right now, he was my friend and I loved him more for it.

 

After a few moments I pulled out a small teddy bear “Ted!! I don’t believe he didn’t get damaged!” I gasped. “This was the first gift he ever gave me.”

 

Hayley smiled, “It was in a drawer, saved it from the smoke damage.” I held the bear to my chest and remembered that second date when Daniel had given him to me; I had told him on our first date about my love of teddy bears and he’d gone out the next day and bought this one. It was typical of his constant thoughtfulness and I was so thankful I had it to keep. Sam reached across and took the bear from me as I continued picking through the box.

 

“I know the perfect place for this little guy.” he said smiling at it. Bittersweet tears still rolled down my face as I looked at him in wonder.

 

“You are perfect.” I told him and kissed his cheek. He grinned and made the bear dance between us and we all laughed.

 

My hand shook as I pulled out a picture I was sure would be lost. My scan photo from my final pre-natal scan. I ran my finger over the blurry shape of my son, it was all I had of him. He’d been dead three days when I regained consciousness and I hadn’t been able to hold him. As he had never taken a breath I had the choice and I had decided not to name him, we had planned to name him after my Dad and given the circumstances I couldn’t bear to associate the name with two terrible losses. So on the rare occasion I could speak about him, he was simply ‘my boy’.

 

I didn’t realise I’d been staring at the picture for quite a while. My face was soaked with tears, he had been so wanted and was so loved. Hayley reached across and took it from me. “You need to find a frame for this before you soak it.” she teased in the way only she knew she could get away with. I smiled through the tears and Sam gave me a gentle squeeze.

 

“Enough for today eh? Look at the rest tomorrow maybe?” he suggested gently, and I knew it was hurting him to see me in pain. I smiled up at him and he wiped away my tears.

 

“I bloody love you!” I declared and kissed him tenderly. I could see Hayley’s smile as I pulled away.

Yep. She saw it, she knew it was right too.

Downstairs to the living room Sam placed Ted in the centre of one of the bookshelves full of ornaments and mementos from his life. It was the first thing of mine in the room and that it was a gift from Daniel, that had been given it’s place by Sam, made it perfect.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Having Hayley at the house for a few days had been a real shot in the arm for me and I was more determined than ever that I would do something meaningful with my time and money by the time she left. We’d spent some days out touring the beautiful Scottish countryside and together developed the idea of a retreat, like The Sanctuary but run as a charity to help those who were dealing with the sudden loss of loved ones.

 

Sam loved the idea and set me up with some contacts he had, he was starting to take more work calls and spend time on scripts or taking meetings online. Production for the next season of Outlander was due to start, Sam had been told the first table read would be in a few days. Now I had my own project it gave me some focus too so our days were starting to be spent each focussed on our own work during the daytime and enjoying our time together in the evenings.

 

“How do you feel about attending an event with me?” he asked me one evening as we cuddled on the couch watching a movie after dinner.

 

I chewed my lip and took a deep breath “What event?”

He shifted uncomfortably, “Erm… the BAFTAs, next month?”

Holy crap!

“So just a small affair then?” I chuckled. He nodded and smiled nervously, clearly anxious for my response. “Sam, it’s just we’ve always kinda been in a bubble. Alaska, LA, The Safehouse, here. I guess I’m still nervous about what people will think.”

 

He nodded thoughtfully “In the past, I’ve always done all I can to keep my relationships away from the media. With you, aside from the fact that they’re already talking about it, I kinda want to shout from the hilltops that I love this wonderful woman and she loves me back.” he blushed. “I’m sorry if that’s too much.”

 

I kissed his cheek, “It’s not too much, it’s lovely, it’s flattering as hell. My sweet man!” my heart was pounding and I could feel the anxiety rising in me.

 

He noticed and gently stroked my hair “But you’re nervous, that’s only to be expected” he said “I’m nervous and I’ve done these things before.”

 

I pondered on it a little more. “How about this, we have this weekend before you start back at the studio, how about we go into the city, spend the weekend out and about together, stay in a hotel, you can show me your favourite places. It’ll be nice to do something ‘normal’ together. Let’s see how that goes. Then I’ll make a decision, it’s hard to imagine being seen with you on a red carpet by millions of people when I haven’t even really been anywhere else with you.”

 

“I like having you to myself.” he said squeezing me. “But you’re right. We can’t hide away forever. OK I’ll get us a Hotel in the city, it’ll be fun to show you around.”

 

I was glad, it had been amazing here but I was getting cabin fever being stuck in the house most of the time. I was excited about a weekend out and about with Sam, but also glad of the opportunity to deflect from the question of attending the awards with him for now.

I want to shout from the hilltops too, but after what we’ve just been through I’m scared.

We planned our weekend, loaded the car with what we needed and headed into the city. It really wasn’t far away but staying in a hotel meant we could relax the first night and not worry about driving or getting back to the house. Sam actually had two apartments in the city but he was leasing them to friends at the moment.

 

Sam dressed in his jeans and favourite black leather jacket over a white t-shirt, he wore a “The Sassenach” baseball cap in the hope it’d mean he wasn’t noticed too much. Personally, even if he wasn’t a celebrity I’d have looked at least twice if he passed me, he looked so sexy without even trying. I wore my jeans and a wool coat with a cute beanie hat and scarf as it was still quite cold.

 

“You look so cute all wrapped up!” he told me as I got out of the car. He leaned down and kissed my nose. I rolled my eyes and he gave me a “Don’t do that!” look. He hated it when I disregarded compliments.

 

So I smiled and kissed him back “Thank you gorgeous!” I answered and took a deep breath as he put his hand in mine and we headed out of the car park into the city.

 

It was cold and drizzling rain when we started out, the rain eventually stopped. Sam joked it was the best way to see the city in all its damp glory. We wandered the streets, he showed me where he would hang out when at drama school, his favourite bars and restaurants, we had lunch at a bistro in Ashton Lane, strolled through the Botanic gardens, visited a couple of exhibitions and spent time in some shops. We walked hand in hand, most of the time, sometimes Sam would put his arm around my shoulders, and I would put mine around him. Just like any other couple in love, it felt so liberating to finally be free to do this without fear, although I couldn’t help looking behind us a few times, just in case.

 

We were only approached by fans twice, once while having lunch and again in the gardens as we rested on a bench. They were polite and giggly and Sam was polite and took a photo and chatted with them briefly before they left us to it. I understood why Sam wanted to keep moving, stopping gave people time to recognise him and build up the courage to approach. I enjoyed being out with Sam, and he seemed so happy to be moving around and sharing his stories with me.

 

As we cuddled standing on the banks of the Clyde, I noticed the photographer, trying to stay out of sight behind a tree, but the setting sun had reflected off his lens. I whispered to Sam, and he smiled and leaned down and kissed me passionately, practically lifting my off my feet as my toes just touched the floor. I responded and it was a couple of minutes before we came up for air. I grinned up at him “Give them something to talk about, eh?” I suggested and he nodded, grabbing my hand and leading me away to the hotel.

 

We were staying in a suite at the Hilton hotel, we’d checked into our room, showered and quickly changed into something more dressy for dinner. I sat at the dressing table trying to fix my hair into some kind of decent shape when I saw him stand behind me through the mirror. He looked incredible, all clean and fresh in a crisp white shirt and a blue suit which made his eyes even more blue.

 

“Now you look like a movie star” I told him smiling at our reflections. I finally got the clip I was wrestling with into place and as I lowered my hands, he moved his hands in front of me, and from one dropped a silver necklace, with a simple droplet pendant which held a stunning Amethyst.

 

He held it in front of my neck and I gasped. “It’s beautiful, perfect!”

 

He sounded proud as he fastened the necklace round my neck. “I got it for you in LA, I’ve been waiting for a good time to give it to you. I remember you telling me one night in Alaska you only wear silver, and purple is your favourite colour. I guessed you’d prefer something simple.”

 

I nodded, my eyes starting to fill with tears, “It’s absolutely perfect, yes simple for me, always!” I turned in my chair and pulled on his shirt to make him bend down to me as I kissed him. “I can’t believe you remembered. Thank you so much!” I looked back in the mirror as I stood and I looked at us side by side. I had bought this cocktail dress that day, even though I had brought another I had intended to wear, when we were shopping it caught my eye and Sam liked it too and encouraged me to get it. It was silk mauve coloured wrap style dress which highlighted my breasts which Sam loved. The length was not too short and I wore a beautiful pair of silver heels to which made me look significantly taller.

I actually look pretty good.

It wasn’t often I felt good looking at myself but in this moment, I did. the dress flattered me, the necklace set it off perfectly. I’d kept my make up simple and my hair was up in an elegant soft bun. I had the most beautiful man in the world next to me and I looked like I belonged there.

 

“Stunning” Sam said also looking at our reflection.

 

I smiled confidently and answered “Not bad eh!”

 

His eyebrow shot up in surprise that I was complimenting myself and he turned me around and kissed me. “That’s my girl.” he said proudly. “Just beautiful.”

 

He picked up the silver jacket I’d picked out to wear outside and handed it to me. “The restaurant is just half a block away, you ok to walk it?”

 

I nodded as I put on the jacket. “Let’s go.”

 

‘Cail Bruich’ Sam proudly told me was the only Michelin starred restaurant in Glasgow. We walked along the Great Western Road hand in hand and I felt the eyes of those we passed by as they watched us. Whether they saw a movie star or just a very handsome man and little old me I’ll never know but in my mind they were impressed and I was beaming proudly when Sam opened the door to the restaurant for me and we stepped inside.

 

We were shown to a table near the bar which was at the rear of the room, most of the tables were set up for couples with one larger table in the centre. It wasn’t really possible to hide away with the way the restaurant was laid out but Sam had said he wanted me to experience the food and if he got spotted then he’d just have to deal with it.

 

I was feeling a little out of my element and shared this with Sam who smiled and took my hand across the table. “You look amazing and you’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”

 

He ordered the wine and while I was looking at the menu he shared his favourites and recommendations. I loved the way he was gently guiding me without being patronising about it. The restaurant was full and had a great atmosphere, Sam said he had plans for after dinner if we were feeling up to it. I chuckled “Making the most of this little trip aren’t you?”

He nodded “Yeah, well I’m aware I’m gonna be working a lot from Monday, just want to make sure we have a really good night out before then. I want to spoil you rotten.” he brushed the back of my hand with his thumb, his eyes sparkling at me over the glass of wine he just picked up with his other hand.

Sometimes he just takes all my words away.

“Excuse me, Mr Heughan.” a strange voice made us break our gaze. I looked up, it was a woman, she seemed to be in her 50s, and looked really nervous. I noticed a man sat alone across the room watching.

Her husband I guess, he must be thrilled.

Sam smiled politely up at the woman. “It’s Sam, nice to meet you.” he turned a little to face her, still holding my hand on the table.

 

“Hi… um… I’m sorry to disturb you… would you mind just a very quick picture?” she was so nervous I felt sorry for her. I felt sorry for Sam too, he glanced over at me and I smiled and nodded as I released his hand. I could see he hated that he couldn’t give me his full attention but he knew this was part of what he had signed up for. He looked back at the woman and nodded, she held her phone to take a selfie of them both and Sam posed dutifully smiling. Once done she thanked him, and went back to her husband who looked mortified.

 

Sam turned back to me and took my hand again, lifting it to his lips and kissing it. “Sorry about that.”

 

I shook my head, “It’s OK, all part of the Sam package, I know it can’t be helped.” I squeezed his hand and he smiled.

 

The food was incredible, we weren’t disturbed again until we’d just having desert when another two women came across together from the larger table also asking for a photo. This interaction lasted a bit longer as they were both understandably giggly and nervous and were asking Sam about Outlander. Eventually Sam had to cut them off.

 

“It’s been a pleasure to meet you Ladies, but if you don’t mind I’m here with someone.” he nodded across to me and reached across the table for my hand, it felt like it was the first time they even realised I was there.

 

“Oh I’m so sorry.” one of them exclaimed and smiled at me. “We’ll let you have him back now.”

 

I chuckled as I noticed Sam raise a brow at how cheeky that sounded. “I appreciate that thank you.” I replied to her before they moved back to their table still giggling like teenagers.

 

Sam rolled his eyes as he turned back and I squeezed his hand again before releasing it to finish my desert. “Don’t worry!” I reminded him with a wink. He shook his head and sighed heavily.

It so clear this has been an issue in the past. Poor guy.

He paid and we left fairly soon after that, he didn’t seem in such a good mood. I took his hand as we stepped outside. “You OK?”

 

His lips were pursed in that way he does when he’s trying not to give away his feelings. I stroked his face “Sam, I’m having a great time, please don’t over think it OK?”

 

He pulled me to him and kissed me hard. “Really? All that didn’t bother you? They just ignored you.”

 

I shook my head “They had no reason to notice me, you were there. Sam, in their position, I’d have probably done the same.”

 

Relief seemed to wash over him. “Where have you been the last eight years Angie?” he sighed. “It’s usually this point in the evening I’m getting an earful and feeling awful.”

 

“Well, you know I don’t do drama Sam, if I ever give you an earful, I promise you’ll have earned it.”

 

He held me tight to him, kissing the top of my head. “I’m never letting you go.” he whispered. “Do you fancy going a bar or do you want to go back to the hotel?”

 

“Bar!” I squealed and he laughed.

 

He hailed a black cab and as it stopped he said “I know just the place.” then speaking to the driver as we got in “The Ben Nevis please!”

 

He’d told me about this bar before but it really was a sight to behold. Outside it was unassuming, it looked like any old corner pub. Inside it was a shrine to Whisky behind the bar almost up the ceiling was what looked like hundreds of bottles. A Scottish folk band played in the corner and Sam found us a little table in the corner. It was lovely, the room was full of people just relaxing, enjoying the music and the Whisky, even though we both looked a little overdressed nobody even looked twice at us. With no free tables Sam stood next to me his arm around me and we relaxed and enjoyed the entertainment.

 

After a few Whiskies we headed back to the hotel, both a little merry and me with very sore feet. Sam stopped at the bar and ordered a bottle to bring up the room. Once inside I kicked off my heels and let out a happy sigh of relief making Sam laugh. “Why women torture themselves I don’t know.” he said and I lightly threw a shoe at him

 

“Because men tell them it turns them on!” I groaned sitting and rubbing the balls of my feet.

 

He dodged the shoe and put a glass of Whisky on the table in front of me and sat down next to me. “Let me.” he said tapping his knees indicating I should put my feet there. I was not going to argue, they hurt, bad! I sat sideways leaning back against the arm of the couch and rested my feet on his lap.

 

“You know… things happen when I put parts of me on your lap.” I giggled.

 

He looked across at me with a curious frown.

 

“Airport, I sleep on your lap. You end up glued to me for the whole journey… Sanctuary, I put my head on your lap… we end up kissing and …. well you know!”

 

He raised an eyebrow and grinned mischievously “Wonder where this will lead then.” he held a foot in each of his large hands and pressed into the tender balls of each foot with his thumbs. I groaned and let my head fall back as his thumbs made small circular motions, massaging the tender areas. I reached across and picked up my Whisky sipping it as I watched him his focus completely on his task. He looked up at me after a minute or so smiling.

 

“Feeling better?”

 

I nodded still sipping at my drink. “Ready for a night of dancing now!”

 

He continued the massage and looked thoughtful. “We’ve never danced.” he muttered.

 

I chuckled. “My love, we’ve been together, almost two months. One of us has been injured through a large part of that time, or we’ve been apart… there’s a lot of things we haven’t done yet.”

 

He nodded, still looking thoughtful, his thumbs moved down the arches of my feet now and I sighed happily. He gave a half-grin, enjoying my appreciation. Then he stopped massaging and I pouted. “One second my love I want to take a picture. " He took his phone from his pocket.

 

“Really?” I asked, “What on earth for?”

 

He grinned “To blow up the internet, or at least my little corner.”

 

“Oh Sam! Is that a good idea?”

 

He snapped a photo of one of his hands massaging my foot “It’s a brilliant idea. I told you Angie, I want to shout from the hilltops. I am yours!”

 

I moved over to sit next to him while he edited the photo to add the text “End of a fun night” then started to add it to his Instagram Stories.

 

“Be sure Sam, I won’t stop you but be sure this is what you want to do.” I told him.

 

He added the post then wrapped an arm around me. “I’m sure. It’ll be chaos on Social Media and the blogs tomorrow… now … stay there.” he took a swig from his Whisky then stood and walked into the bedroom, he came out with his laptop and placed it on the table and started looking at it.

 

“What are you doing?” I asked, a little disturbed by this behaviour.

 

He held up his hand, “Two secs…” then a few seconds later music started to play from the laptop. He grinned broadly, pleased with himself then stood up and held his hand out to me. “May I have this dance?”

Completely crazy but adorable.

I took his hand and he led me to a clearing in the room, the music was “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton and Sam held me close, my head against his chest as I was now in my bare feet and we moved slowly to the music. Then he said “I want to go back and meet you ten years ago and have had you with me through all this madness.”

 

“Ah sweetie. We would have been totally different people ten years ago, we met when we were ready for each other.”

 

I lifted my head and he smiled lovingly down at me. “You just don’t realize how much I love you.” he sang to me along with the song.

Completely adorable.

He leaned down and we kissed as we danced. Once again he had romanced me into silence, I didn’t know what to say. I just rested my head against him and held him tight and we danced like that for a couple more songs. His hands stroked down my back and the feeling of his touch through the silk dress sent shivers through me. As we danced his hands moved lower and lower, as did mine and found myself with my hands over his ass, stroking the round muscles and squeezing gently.

 

Sam’s hand found the tie string which kept my dress wrapped around me and pulled on it, untying the bow and making the two sides of the dress fall to the side. His hands slid up my back and over my shoulders, pushing the dress off my shoulders and it fell to the ground, we still moved slowly the to music, I slid my hands up and tugged at his shirt, pulling it from under his waistband and when it was free he took his hands from me for a second to lift it over his head and off his arms.

 

I stroked his bare chest, he hadn’t been able to properly work out for a few weeks and while as a result he didn’t have the usual definition, he still had broad firm chest. Our feet kept moving and I looked up at him, his eyes were glazed with tears and and reached up to stroke a tear from his cheek.

 

“What’s this?” I asked gently.

 

“I Love You…” he answered and leaned down to kiss me. “…So much I just can’t keep it in any more. I’m so lucky.”

 

I kissed him back and we continued dancing and kissing for a while longer.

 

I unfastened his trousers and pushed them down his hips along with his underwear and he did the same with my underwear. We both stepped free of our clothes, somehow still dancing, we held each other close, nothing between us now and I could feel his cock hard against me. I ran my hands over his ass cheeks again and squeezed and I felt his cock twitch against me. I kissed his chest, and felt his hands in my hair pulling my head back so he could kiss me. We kissed hard and deep, our tongues exploring and duelling, our breath hot against each other. He tasted of Whisky and tears and I couldn’t get enough. I ran my hands through his hair and he moved his hands low, lifting me, cupping my ass as I wrapped my legs around him. My arms around his neck and we continued kissing as he carried me to the couch and slowly sat so I was now kneeling on the couch straddling him. I gripped his hair and pulled his head back and he grinned up at me.

 

“Mine!” I declared and I rocked my hips against him pressing his cock between our bellies.

 

“Angie!” he moaned. “I’m Yours… please.” he was trying to lift me so he could be inside me but I resisted and rocked my hips again, the base of his cock rubbed against my bud and I moaned and did it again and again making him moan with me until the wave of ecstasy hit me and I cried out his name. Then quickly I raised myself up and guided him inside me, lowering down, he was so deep in this position I groaned as my body adjusted. I still gripped his hair, kissing his neck as we moved together. I moved to cover his mouth with mine and watched him his eyes closed, his face, boyish as he came so close to release. He held my back and I leaned back away from him, still rocking my hips, changing the angle, bringing him deeper and soon he was bucking his hips sharply up to me as he came hard.

 

He pulled me back to him and I buried my face in his neck, my hands in his hair and he held me tightly. “Christ Angie, what you do to me.” he murmured. stroking down my back. He was still inside me and I flexed my pelvic muscles making him squirm “Jesus woman!” he whispered. “You like to torment me?”

 

I chuckled and lifted my head “I like to please you and I’ve found tormenting you does that.”

 

He nodded grinning. “I think you’re right. You are so… " he sighed. “… there are no words. I just Love you so much.” he stroked the hair from my face and smiled lovingly at me.

 

“I love you too my sweet sexy man.” I told him holding his face in my hands. “Now take me to bed.”

 

He laughed and did as he was told, standing, my legs wrapped around him again, he carried me to bed.

 


We were woken rather abruptly the next morning by Sam’s phone, he grumbled and fumbled as he reached for it on the side table.

 

“What?” he answered grumpily and I lowered my head and smirked so he couldn’t see. He was not good if he wasn’t allowed to wake up naturally I’d learned.

 

“Really? You’re calling me at….” he checked the time on his phone and put it back to his ear “7 o’clock on a Sunday morning for that?… Yes I knew exactly what I was doing… I’ll talk to you about it tomorrow. " he hung up and dropped the phone back onto the side table before turning and seeing I was awake rolling his eyes.

 

“Sorry my love, I didn’t think they’d bloody call me at this hour at least.”

 

I shuffled over to rest my head on his shoulder.

 

“Let me guess, your little corner of the internet blew up!” I yawned “Told you!”

 

He chuckled and wrapped his arm around me, stroking my shoulder. “Yep, but I knew what I was doing. I figured, when I try to keep it secret they make up all kinds of ridiculous stuff, some really hurtful stuff, you’ve already seen some of that. I don’t want that for you, you’re too special, so if it means I have to be more open about my personal life, then, I’ll let them have a little peek in the window.”

 

Sam stroked my shoulder absent-mindedly, his thoughts elsewhere for a little while. I was still dozy and happy not to talk for a while. After a few minutes I looked at him he was lay on his back, one arm out around me, the other up over his head, his eyes were open looking up at the ceiling and he seemed a million miles away. It was a few minutes before he noticed me watching him and snapped out of his daze.

 

“Where’d you go?” I asked him curiously.

 

“Heaven” he told me and kissed me gently.

 

“Tell me more!” I was truly curious now.

 

He shook his head and shifted to his side, reaching to stroke my hair. “Nope, not today! One day, I hope. Shall we get ready for breakfast?”

You’re changing the subject! Cheeky!

I squinted my eyes, letting him know I was on to him. “If we must, I don’t like secrets Sam!”

 

He smiled and kissed me “Not a secret, I will tell you, when it’s right. It’s a good thing I promise, now leave it alone. " he lowered his hand and slapped my arse. “Time to get up!”

 

He jumped out of bed and I knew I wasn’t getting any more info.

It’s a bloody good job I trust you.

We decided to have breakfast brought up to the suite. Sam wanted to peek at the chaos he had caused while we ate. He setup his laptop on the small table so we could both see easily and I sat on his lap as he navigated through the sites.

 

#SamHeughan was actually trending on Twitter and a click of the tag brought up tonnes of tweets showing the picture he’d posted on Instagram plus the fans who’d found us the previous day had shared their pictures and the not so hidden photographer who’d snapped us on the banks of the river had made their shots available too. All together it had caused quite a stir.

 

They look so happy!

I'm so jealous! She's so lucky!

So sweet!

It's clearly another set up to prove he's straight. 

Oh sweetie, if he’s not straight, he’s the best actor ever I can tell you.

What I'd give to be that foot! 

I can relate to that. That thumb can work miracles.

So it's true. He took a bullet for her. 

I guess he did!

She looks so .... NORMAL! 

Erm, thank you!

I bet Cait is so jealous.

He should be with Cait, not her. 

He's gonna be in so much trouble when he see Cait!

Here we go!

YAY my Sammie's in love! So happy!

She must be special, he never shares his personal stuff.

I guess his plan is working.

“Overall I think it’s positive” he commented switching to a different site “The extreme shippers won’t be happy, can you believe some of them think Cait and I are secretly married with four kids?” he chuckled and sipped his coffee.

 

“No way! Bloody hell, and we thought those women were the only real nutcases. Sweetie you do something to women, literally drives them mad!”.

 

He waggled his eyebrows “Do I drive you mad?”

 

I laughed as I munched on some toast “I already was mad, if anything you fixed me”

 

He switched to Tumblr, I hadn’t been on that site in years and was surprised to see him go there. “This is where the real crazy hides. Mostly good guys, but this is usually where it starts, the digging into my life, finding stuff they must have spent hours digging for and sharing it out of context.”

He searched his name and there were the pictures again, we flipped through the first few blogs which were largely just sharing the pictures and commenting.

I guess it's true he's with this Angela woman. 

Others mixed in the photos from Anchorage and the story of my accident and the photos of my house before and after fire. There was a LOT of so called “sources” who seemingly shared totally false stories about me and about us. One source apparently said his friends had tried to break us up because I had set up the whole woodland attack and the shooting to manipulate him. Another supposed source said I had forced my way into his life and had banned him from doing intimate scenes.

 

I scoffed at that one. “As if! They're my favourite bits!”

 

Sam closed the lid on the laptop, his mood a little darker having read those stories.

 

“I don’t check on there often, and now you know why. They spoil it, for me and for the others who are just so great!” he told me and smirked as I tickled him.

 

I snuggled into him and kissed his cheek. “Don’t let them get you down my love. We know the truth and that’s all that matters.”

 

He sighed and stroked my hair from my face “Doesn’t it bother you, what they say about you?”

 

I shifted and played with his hair as I spoke, looking into his eyes, “If all this has taught me anything love, it’s that you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. Those people, they need to be like that, something in their life means they need to be hateful and angry to get through the day. I’m sorry for them, I’m sorry that that is their existence. I won’t say it doesn’t bother me, but I try to remind myself it’s their problem, not mine.” I smiled and kissed him. “You and me, that’s all I care about. I don’t need or want to be like that, I just want to be happy and loving.”

 

Sam watched me, his eyes filled with love and pride as I picked up another piece of toast and stood up, walking over to the window and looking down on the city on a sleepy Sunday morning. “So what are we doing today?”.

If I can survive losing my whole family, I can deal with trolls.

 

Chapter Text

Sam getting back to work full time was quite a shock to both of us. He’d be at the studio for over 12 hours each day and was understandably exhausted when he got home. He was spending more time working out too now he was able, building his body back up. I was mostly spending my time working on my own project. My charity would be called My Sanctuary and I had a tonne of paperwork to get through to get it properly set up and registered in the UK, I was looking for a location for my retreat and was actually able to employ Hayley to work with me remotely to get things done.

 

I missed the bubble we’d been living in but this next stage was equally exciting and our evenings were filled with us sharing our day’s with each other. After a couple of weeks, Sam asked if I would like to spend the day with him at the studio. I jumped at the chance, I’d never asked him, I’d always been interested in how TV shows and movies were made so this would be an incredible opportunity to see it in real life. Sam’s motivation was he wanted to introduce me to his friends.

So thoughtful.

It meant an early start, Sam woke at 3:30 am, getting a work-out in before the car arrived, I crawled out of the bed an hour later and sleepily joined him downstairs just as the car arrived. He grinned at me and kissed my cheek before opening the door “Good morning beautiful.” he chuckled “Don’t worry, there will be coffee soon.”

 

It was an outdoor shoot today, on location in woodland about 45 minutes from our home. Sam was now wide awake after his workout and quick shower, he went through scripts and call sheets while I tried to grab a little more sleep much to his amusement.

 

When we arrived we were greeted with hot coffee which I very much appreciated. Sam went through the plan for the day with the Assistant Director who greeted me politely but was very focussed on his job. We headed to the make-up trailer and I was thankful for it’s warmth as it was a very chilly morning. I sat in the corner as Wendy applied his make-up and they joked and bantered.

 

She was a very funny woman, a proper straight-talking Glaswegian and she greeted me so warmly. “Och here she is, I was starting to think he was making you up. It’s grand to meet you Angie. Take a seat darlin’ we’ll be here a while, I got to make your man look twenty years older and I’ll be damned if he hasn’t looked younger every day since he met you!”

 

Once Make-up was done and he was properly “aged” we headed out to the costume trailer. Wendy shouted after me “Be sure to come visit me if you get bored Angie, there’s a lot of waiting happens round here but I always have a nice warm room!”

 

After Sam was put in costume we had time to grab a quick breakfast at the craft services area. We were sat at a table placed under an awning attached to the trailer that provided the food when Sam stood quickly and shouted across to someone. I looked at where he was looking and it was his co-star Caitriona Balfe. She smiled brightly when she heard him and came over, she was in costume too and suddenly I felt like it was me in the wrong time.

 

“Hi Sam” she called as she moved over then noticing me with him. “Oh finally! Angie! I’m so glad to meet you.” she came straight to me and I stood up and she hugged me tightly. “I’ve been hearing so much about you.”

 

She released me and I smiled back. “And I have about you too, nice to finally meet you Cait.”

 

She joined us at the table and Sam and we chatted for a few minutes. She was pleasant and and friendly and curious about me and I was glad we seemed to be getting along well, I knew she was important to Sam. After a few minutes they were called to set and Sam held my hand until he found a chair for me, “You can sit here while we crack on, I’ll come see you when there’s downtime.” he told me.

 

I was worried I would be a distraction so as he kissed me before heading out in front of the cameras. I told him “Forget I’m here just do your job.”

 

It was so interesting to see him switch into acting mode, focussed and attentive to the direction he was given, it was a scene with just him and Cait so no other cast members were there. I’d made sure before I agreed to come that they weren’t shooting any of the famous intimate scenes while I was there. I had no issue with Sam doing them and I’d probably enjoy watching afterwards, but I thought being in the room would be distracting for everyone. He told me they’d rescheduled most of those scenes for later in the schedule to give him a chance to build up again which made me giggle.

I used to sigh over those pecs on the screen, now I get to touch them.

After a couple of hours or so of blocking the scene the actors had a short break while the technical crew set up for the first shot. The runner had been kind enough to keep me topped up with hot coffees and I had come prepared to be outdoors so was wrapped up warm. Sam came over to me, wrapped him arms around me and kissed me. I gave him a goofy grin.

 

“What?” he asked wondering what was going through my mind.

 

I giggled and suddenly felt shy again, “It’s just, like this, with the wig and the make-up and the costume… you’re him… you’re Jamie Fraser and you just kissed me. It’s… weird.”

 

He smiled and laughed and in his Jamie voice he said “Och that Sam is too soft a man for you, I know you prefer me Jamie all rough and ready.” he grabbed my ass and pulled me to him and I nearly died laughing.

 

“Oh my God behave will you.”

 

I saw Cait and some of the crew watching us and I blushed and hid my face in Sam’s chest. Sam chuckled and stroked my hair. “It’s fine Angie, they’re used to me messing about here.”

 

I looked up smiling. “I don’t doubt it, I just, I guess I worry they think I’m just a silly fan.”

 

He frowned and shook his head. “Everyone here knows what you’ve been through since we met, about the attack in the forest and the shooting, they know about the fire and the letters. They know this is real Angie, even the most devoted fan would have long run off if this wasn’t real. Plus, they know I love you completely, I can’t hide it. They tease me because you’re all I can talk about.”

I couldn’t bear it if someone you cared about didn’t approve of me.

Cait approached us and teasingly in her best Claire Fraser voice told Jamie to get his hands off that woman. We all laughed and when Sam got pulled aside by one of the producers Cait led me to one side to speak privately.

 

“I’m so glad to finally talk to you. I want you to know I’m so proud of you, sticking with him through all this horrendous stuff. He is such a sweet, kind man.”

 

She held my arm and spoke quietly, “He’s one of my best friends and I care about him a lot. I know I don’t know you. I know him though, he’s completely in love, it’s beautiful to see.”

 

I smiled and blushed “So am I!”

 

She grinned “I can see that, I really wish you both the best. Please stay strong, he’s absolutely worth it.” she hugged me and I hugged back. “Call me, if you need anything, seriously.” she offered. She gave me her number and we chatted a little more, I was so impressed with how kind she was.

So sweet, this is a real friend. I’m glad he has this.

The day passed quite quickly although in reality it was 8 pm when we got home. I had watched as each shot was lined up then the scene played out, again and again and again. I saw plenty of corpsing which was always amusing but mostly it was very professional and focussed and really interesting. Thankfully the rain stayed off but it stayed very cold so when we got home, I ran I bath, feeling cold to the marrow of my bones at this point. Sam thought it was very funny “This is every day for me.”

 

“I’m only 1/8 Scottish I’m not built for it like you.” I teased as I eased into the deliciously warm bath. Sam sat on the edge and flicked bubbles up at my face.

 

“How is that?” he asked as I leaned back my eyes closed enjoying the warmth.

 

“Mmm incredible!” I sighed lowering myself completely under the water for a second then stretching my legs again and raising my head above the waterline. I rubbed my hands over my face to clear the water and smiled up at Sam. “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

 

Sam gave me a half smile and winked at me before standing and pulling off his shirt and unfastening his jeans. “Well you’ll have to show me then, shuffle up!”

 

I squealed as the water splashed everywhere when he jumped in the bath behind me then slid his long legs around me and wrapped me in his arms pulling my body back against him.

 

“You’re mopping that up!” I told him looking over at the large soapy puddle on the bathroom floor.

 

He kissed my neck. “Worth it… you’re right, this is incredible.”

 

He picked up the sponge and brushed it over my chest and then picked up some bubbles with it and dotted it on my nose.

 

“You are a child!” I said rolling my eyes and giggling.

 

“Well I don’t have a rubber duck to play with, so I’ll play with you.” he teased. He ran the sponge over my breast and kissed at my neck. I leaned back into him my hands stroking his thighs.

 

“No arguments from me.” I couldn’t deny having him close to me all day but not having his attention was strange and I craved his attention now, it seemed he was happy to oblige. He stroked across my breasts again with the sponge, his other hand rested on my stomach with a finger circling my navel. I could practically feel his grin against my neck as I moaned softly.

 

He spoke low and quiet, close to my ear “I know you didn’t want to be, but I’ll be honest, you were a distraction today, it was so hard to know you were right there and I couldn’t touch you or hold you. Had to really focus.”

 

I moved my head against his face trying to lean back to see him “Well then, it’s a good job I won’t be going there often, I can’t be held responsible for a lowering of standards on my favourite show.”

 

He chuckled. “Did you enjoy today?” the sponge circled my breasts his thumb brushing across my nipples.

 

“I did…” I sighed “… I got to make out with Jamie Fraser, my life is complete.”

 

“Oh really! That’s all you needed eh?” he was amused and nibbling on my earlobe.

 

“Wait till Hayley finds out!” I chuckled “She’ll be so jealous!”

 

“So you’re worried about Hayley finding out and not your poor Sam?”

 

He feigned being hurt and I squeezed his thighs and pushed my ass back against him “Oh Sam introduced us, I’m sure he won’t mind. It was only a kiss, he gets to have much more!”

 

Sam’s hand slid from my stomach to between my thighs and his other dropped the sponge and cupped my breast. “You bet he does.” he said, his voice low and possessive. He stroked me and his fingers probed between the folds between my legs. I arched my back pushing into him. “So…” he asked as his fingers slipped across my clitoris and his other hand gently stroked my breast “…do you want Sam…” his fingers pushed into me causing me to moan as I stretched around them. He pushed them deeper and his thumb started to stroke my clitoris and I moaned loudly. Then he pulled them out “… or Jamie?” he kissed at my neck and cupped my breasts roughly in each hand, squeezing the nipples as he licked at that point on my neck he knew sent me weak.

Oh I love this. Can’t I have it all?

“Both” I gasped and he bit at my earlobe.

“Greedy” he murmured. Moving one hand from my breasts back between my legs, penetrating me firmly. His other still pinching at my breast, his kisses still hot on my neck and I was sure he’d left a mark or two there. “Happy to oblige.”

I was completely under his spell. wrapped in him and my body singing to the symphony of sensations he was conducting. My eyes closed and I surrendered to him completely, unable to touch him other than to stroke his thighs. He moved his fingers inside me, slowly, as deep as he could. His long fingers curled within me as he reached that special spot inside me that made me squeak much to Sam’s enjoyment. His thumb stroked my clitoris and I could feel the pressure building within me, seeming to come from my toes, creeping up my body.

Sam whispered so softly in my ear I wasn’t sure if I was imagining it. “That’s it my lover, I only want you to be happy, let me make you happy.” I was incapable of speech, my body responded of it’s own volition, as his fingers pushed against that special spot inside me and his thumb against my clit I arched my back, feeling like I would burst. I managed to turn my head and we kissed deeply before I finally broke almost screaming with the release it was so intense, my body tensed and shook and he kept pushing against me, holding me in this state of ultimate pleasure for what felt like forever.

Finally, when he sensed I couldn’t bear any more he slowed and shifted back to gentle caresses and light butterfly kisses on my neck. “Enjoy that?” he asked sounding very pleased with himself.

I let out a weak chuckle, my body was totally spent and I felt like I had used every ounce on energy I had within me. “Just a little…” I giggled and smiled as I heard him laugh. His hands stroked across my belly and and wrapped around me. He buried his face in my neck, as he held me tight.

 

“I love you so much Angie, all I ever want is for you to be happy, I’ll do anything.”

 

I shifted onto my side so I could face him and kissed him lovingly. “I know my love, and you do make me so happy I just don’t have the words.” I stroked his cheek and kissed him again. “I hope I do the same for you my love, that’s all I want too.”

 

He smiled that million dollar smile of his “I never knew I could be this happy.” he told me and I melted in his arms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

To say I was anxious was putting it mildly. I was no supermodel or glamorous star so there were no designers fighting to dress me for the event. I didn’t want to stand out too much, just have something appropriate for the event and do justice to Sam who was the real eye-catcher after all.

 

“But I want to be surprised.” he told me the night I asked if he would help me look for an outfit.

 

I frowned at him and took the glass of Whiskey he had in his hand, I swigged the whole lot down before giving it back. “Not helpful!” I pouted.

 

Which was why Sam asked Cait to provide some advice and after two weeks of searching I found my dress. Sam would be wearing a bespoke tailored Alfred Dunhill Navy Blue Tuxedo, my dress was Sky Blue, quite simple in design, strapless it pinched in at my waist and fell into a long flowing multi-layered chiffon skirt which had a small train at the back. The bodice was silk beaded with sparkling beads which formed small flowers. I accessorized with a Navy wrap and treated myself to a pair of Jimmy Choo heels which set the dress off perfectly. With that finally sorted I then needed help with hair and make-up and this was starting to be more trouble than my wedding day!

 

But now the day was here. Thankfully Sam had today and the next off from filming, we had travelled to London the night before and we stayed in a Hotel suite. Sam was making the most of not having an early call and pretending he was asleep when I shifted nervously next to him.

What if I fell over?

What it I looked horrible?

What if they laughed at me?

What if I embarrass Sam?

I’d barely slept. The same fears circling in my mind over and over. I tried to remind myself that I was over thinking, that Sam wanted me there with him and it was important to him. I was using every mind-management technique I knew but still despite my efforts the doubts played over and over in the background.

 

I turned onto my back and sighed heavily.

 

“What’s wrong?” he asked, his eyes still closed. He was on his side facing me and his hand reached out for me, finding a landing spot on my shoulder before his eyes finally opened.

 

I turned my head and then my body followed, my hand reaching out and resting in his between us. “I’m scared…” I confessed “…I’m really trying hard not to be but I’m scared.”

 

He looked at me sympathetically. “I know you are love. I will be with you every step of the way. The worst part is the red carpet, once that’s all done, it’s one hell of a party.”

 

He reached over and pulled me into him. “I’ll never ask you to do something you don’t want to my love. If it’s too much I’ll understand.”

 

I let him envelope me, loving the security I had in his embrace. He gave me strength. “No, I said I would do it, and I want to… for you… for us…. I just need to get there, I know I’ll be OK once I’m there.”

 

He squeezed me and kissed my head. “That’s my brave woman!” he said proudly. “I can’t wait to show you off.”

 

I stayed in that cocoon until my alarm went off. “And so it begins” I said with a note of dread. I had appointments for nails, facial, hair, make-up for most of the day. I’d set my alarm to make sure I had time for breakfast because I wasn’t sure I’d find time to eat for the rest of the day.

 

Sam on the other hand had quite few hours to spend at his leisure before his stylist was coming to make his hair look particularly wonderful. He planned to spend a large part of it in the Gym. After we shared breakfast in our room, I quickly showered and dressed and kissed him farewell as I headed out. Thankfully Sam insisted I have a chauffeur for the day, so all I had to do was get out of the car and go straight to the salon, no traipsing the streets of London for me. I was only having my nails done outside of the hotel, and as I stepped into the studio I felt the eyes of all the staff there on me. A young pretty woman stepped forward and offered her hand. “Hi, you must be Angela, I’m so glad to meet you. My name is Shauna and I’ll be doing your nails.”

 

I shook her hand and smiled nervously. “Hi Shauna.”

 

She showed me to her station and offered me a seat. As she sat on the opposite side of the table she carried on talking. “I’m so glad you chose us to do your nails. You must be so excited about tonight.”

 

I chuckled. “Excited isn’t quite the word I’d use right now.” I said nervously. “Terrified is probably more accurate.”

 

“Oh I’m sure it’ll be wonderful, and you’re going with Sam Heughan right? Oh my goodness you’re a lucky woman.” she chuckled girlishly and waved her hand around the room “Everyone here is so jealous!” I looked around and noticed the staff still watching us.

I guess I’m on show already eh!

I tried to give as friendly a smile as I could and looked back at Shauna. “Aw that’s very sweet.” I said “I can’t quite believe it myself.”

 

“Oh you’ll have to tell me all about it, how did you meet?”

 

Now Sam had prepared me for this. The unofficial interview he called it, people asking personal questions in a seemingly innocent way, who would then turn out to be the anonymous “sources” of blogs and press.

 

“Oh it’s a long story.” I answered batting away the question as Sam had coached me. Then quickly changing the subject, “So I’m just looking for a nice simple French Manicure look, elegant, simple, not too long.”

 

Shauna chewed her lip, clearly not happy with my response to her question, then took a breath and quietly got on with her work. Considering I was not her favourite person she did a very good job and I was feeling quite relaxed as she worked on my nails. I let my mind wander.

I can’t imagine not having Sam in my life now.

I’m scared about tonight but I am a little excited too.

He won’t be showing me off, I’ll be showing him off.

Look everyone, look at my man, my heart, my lover, my partner.

It’s Mid-April, We met mid-January, that’s 3 months.

Feels like it’s been forever.

3 months… oh!

I asked the driver to make a quick pit stop on the way back to the hotel. The appointment for my facial was in an hour so I had a little time. Sam was down at the Gym and I took the box I had bought on my way back with me to the bathroom. My heart was pounding.

Don’t overthink it.

You’ve not been regular since the accident.

Never been this long though.

The doctor said it was unlikely it’d be possible after the trauma.

Just take the test, see it’s negative and get back to being scared about tonight.


 

“WOW!”

 

Sam’s smile filled his face as he came into the bedroom just as I fastened up my dress. He crossed the room and stood in front of me looking at the results of the day’s primping and preening. “WOW!” he repeated and I blushed and chuckled.

 

“I’m really hoping that’s a good wow!”

 

His eyes widened and his mouth was open as if in awe. “That’s an absolutely incredible WOW!” he gushed “You look stunning Angie, really stunning!” he laughed “You’ve definitely stunned me! All I can say is WOW!”

 

“OK OK” I blushed still not any good at taking compliments. He picked up his jacket and put it on, the final piece of his outfit which looked pretty damn good on him too and I let him know by the way I grinned at him. He stood slightly behind me as he looked at us both in the full length mirror. His hands stroked down my bare arms and wrapped around my waist.

 

“I am going to be so proud tonight, even if I don’t win!” he grinned. “I really want to rip that dress off you right now.” he whispered low in my ear as he released me. “I will later I promise! Do not let me get too drunk… and you don’t either.” he was smirking knowingly “I intend to show you how hot you are right now when we get back!”

 

I took a breath and let it out slowly.

I’m going to have to tell him.

“I won’t be getting drunk… I won’t be drinking.” I told him.

 

He turned looking puzzled “Why not, please don’t tell me because you’re worried what people will say or think? It doesn’t matter! trust me everyone will be drunk.”

 

I gave a half smile, looking down and doing everything I could to control my breathing, a mixture of excitement, fear, joy and terror all battled for control .

 

“No it’s not that… Sam … " I swallowed my throat suddenly very dry. I had no idea how he would take this. I still wasn’t sure if telling him now was the right thing to do but I knew he’d want an explanation. He watched me, standing a few feet away now, a puzzled frown on his face. My heart felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest. “I only found out today… I’m pregnant, about 5 weeks.” My eyes followed him nervously, my hands clenched together under my breast.

 

It took a couple of seconds for the reaction to start on his wonderfully expressive face; surprise led to confusion led to questioning if I was joking then realising I wasn’t he moved towards me, holding me at arms length, a hand on each arm. “Really?” He asked still not quite sure if it was real.

 

I nodded and smiled nervously. “I didn’t think I could after… my boy… but well… " I started to panic. “I know it’s too soon and I didn’t plan this I promise you.”

 

Sam put his hand over my mouth. “Stop… Angie … Angie this is amazing. A baby! WOW!”

 

I let out the breath I’d been holding and chuckled “Word of the day!”

 

Sam pulled me to him and held me tight. “Angie I’m so happy… this is… God I can’t.” he was so overwhelmed. He held my face in his hands and kissed me. His eyes shining and glistening with joy. I beamed back at him, so glad of this response, it was all I hoped for.

 

“We shouldn’t tell anyone yet” I said as we both sat on the edge on the bed. “It’s very early, I’m not young and…”

 

Sam stopped me. “We won’t tell anyone, but no thinking about what can go wrong. We made a life!” he looked down at my belly and rested his hand there. His eyes closed as he took a deep breath and I think he silently thanked whatever Gods would listen.

 

We sat for a few minutes letting the news sink in, I told him about why I’d taken the test and that I’d been in a daze for the rest of the day.

 

“I think the hairdresser and the make-up artist must think I’m so rude! I barely spoke, I can’t even remember their names.” I told him.

 

He stroked my face and kissed me “I thank whoever will listen that you came into my life every day.” he told me “Every day since has been… more than I ever hoped for.”

 

I leaned into him and he held me gently. Suddenly his phone beeped. “The car is here.” he told me. “Are you ready?”

 

I picked up my wrap, took a deep breath and nodded. The excitement of the news had distracted me from my fear of the event we were attending and I was still in a daze.

 

He laughed and kissed me again, being careful not to ruin my make-up. “I can’t believe we have to do this now… I just …” he threw his head back. “… I can’t stop smiling!” he laughed and hugged me tight. “Come on beautiful, let’s get this done.”

 

We didn’t talk much in the car, both of us grinning like crazy people hands clasped soaking in our new reality. Suddenly this whole event didn’t seem important our minds were elsewhere.

 

The car slowed joining a line of limos queuing to deposit their occupants onto the red carpet. Sam looked out, we could hear the crowd outside and he looked back at me. “I’ll get out first OK, and help you out. Take your time. I’ll have your hand all the way ok?” he smiled excitedly and I felt excited, my nerves fluttered in my stomach but now we were here and we were both so happy I couldn’t let fear take me at that moment.

 

The car stopped and the door opened. Sam gave my hand a final squeeze before stepping out of the car. I shuffled across towards the door as he gave the crowd a wave then he turned and looked back at me reaching out his hand. I smiled and took his hand and stepped out of the car. The noise from the crowd was deafening, there was a barrage of flashes from cameras and it took me a few seconds to steady myself. Sam put his arm around my back for short while as we stood together and he waved at the waiting crowd.

 

He took my hand and we stepped a little to the side and Sam pointed in the direction of the bank of photographers. We stood together, his arm around my waist as we posed for the cameras, then someone appeared to usher us along the carpet a little to another bank of photographers on the other side of the carpet. Sam smiled down at me as I posed smiling at the cameras. “You’re doing fantastic.” he whispered as we moved further up again and I smiled back at him actually quite enjoying myself.

 

Finally past the seemingly endless banks of photographers we moved into a larger open area which was surrounded by crowds of the screaming public. I could hear Sam’s name being shouted, they wanted him to come and sign autographs and take selfies. He knew he’d need to break his promise to hold my hand if he went to engage. He started to lead me past this part, but I stopped him. “Go, they’re calling for you.” I told him smiling brightly and letting go of his hand. He tilted his head and gave me a “Are you sure?” look and I nodded. “Go, I’ll be right behind you.” He beamed and kissed me before turning and moving towards the crowd. I followed a few steps behind and watched as he greeted fans, signing autographs and posing for selfies.

He’s in his element here.

They love him.

It’s so sweet.

Sarah, a publicity assistant joined me as I watched, I’d met her a week earlier as we’d gone over plans for the day. She would be guiding us through the next part of the red carpet experience, the interviews, making sure Sam was seen by the most prolific interviewers in order to promote the film.

 

“He’s so generous with fans.” she commented and I agreed.

 

“He certainly knows how to charm them.” I chuckled as I watched him take a selfie with a group of women who were all looking delighted. When he was done he looked back at me smiling and I smiled and nodded back letting him know I was ok for him to continue so he moved along to some more fans. He seemed to be having a conversation with an older lady and looked back at me as they spoke and waved me towards them. I stepped forward.

 

“This lady would like us both in the picture” he told me and I put my hand to my chest.

 

“That’s so sweet of her.” I stood on her opposite side to Sam and he took her phone and stretched out his arm to take the picture.

 

“You look beautiful Angela, I wish you both happiness.” the woman told me before Sam gave the phone back and I reached out and touched her arm.

 

“Thank you so much.” I stepped back again and let Sam continue.

 

It was natural that he be the focus, he was the star and I was happy to let him shine while I stood in the shadows. The compliment from the fan had boosted my confidence and when Sarah finally moved to Sam to usher him away from the fans and towards the waiting press I felt buoyed and was smiling happily as he held me close and spoke to the various interviewers. We had agreed in advance that I wouldn’t be speaking to the press, I really wasn’t confident doing so and part of Sarah’s role was to brief the interviewers to stick to speaking with Sam. A couple of interviewers tried their luck as we had expected they would asking me to comment on how I felt about my first red carpet event or how I felt about all the women shouting after Sam. As we planned I simply smiled and Sam would change the subject.

 

Finally we were inside, a few more photos in front of a wall with the BAFTA logo on it and we into the main room and being taken to our table. Once seated I let out a long breath and Sam leaned across and kissed me. “You did it! You were ….” he shook his head smiling “…perfect.” he took hold of my hand and squeezed it.

 

There were already some producers of the film at the table and Sam introduced me and we were soon all engaged in conversation as more people arrived including Cait and her husband Tony who said Hi as they went to their table as she was also nominated for another film. Sam was up for Best Actor and the film for best screenplay, Sam wasn’t expecting to win as the other nominees were “Much better” as he said but he was proud to be nominated as it was his first BAFTA nomination. It was a great fun group of people and we were all very relaxed when the ceremony finally began. Waiters milled about and made sure everyone had drinks, I requested orange juice and Sam chose Beers over Whiskey. He shuffled his chair closer to mine and if I sat slightly sideways on my chair I was able to lean back into him with his arms around me. His hand rested on my stomach and he whispered to me during a musical performance. “I’m so happy right now I could get up there and sing myself” I put my hand over his and turned to kiss him. I was aware of the cameras all over the room as the event was being broadcast and didn’t want to be lip-read saying too much.

 

He didn’t win, he was probably one of the biggest cheerers for the actor who did though. He stood and cheered and applauded and when he sat back down and I gave him a hug he smiled and said “Told you! Much better!” I shook my head and kissed him.

Too humble sometimes.

In the end we left the event with no awards but a good time was had by all. We were invited to a number of after-show parties but Sam politely declined and we headed back to the hotel.

 

As soon as he closed the door behind him Sam swept me up in his arms and carried me laughing and squealing through to the couch. He sat with me on his lap, my arms around his neck and we kissed. It was tender, loving, so gentle as he brushed the wisps of hair that had fell out of place back . It reminded me of our first kiss and I smiled dreamily at him as our lips parted and our eyes locked.

 

“I love you” I told him “So very much.”

 

He looked back at me, silent for a while, his fingers stroking my face and his eyes fixed on mine. He was smiling but I had no idea what was going through his mind. Eventually the silence was killing me.

 

“What’s going on in there?” I asked, my fingers stroking the back of his neck keeping eye contact.

 

He took a long deep breath then spoke quietly “It’s like… I look at you… " he stroked my cheek with his thumb “… at this beautiful, incredible face and… I touch you… I hear you… yet… I can’t quite believe you’re real.”

Oh my! He’s so wonderful.

How the heck do I respond to that?

I stroked his face in return “I know the feeling, I’ve experienced it every day since we met.” I leaned in and we kissed again still gentle, loving and tender. When we broke I lay my head on his shoulder and he sat back holding me. After a few minutes of silence he spoke.

 

“We’re really having a baby?” he sounded astonished. I nodded. “I never knew how much I wanted this until right now… even… even when Michelle had me believing… it wasn’t like this.” he looked at me. “I know it’s early and I know what could happen… but oh my God I’m so excited!”

 

His smile was so boyish I couldn’t help but smile widely back. “I’m so glad you’re happy Sam, I wasn’t sure. I know I’d told you what the doctor had told me after the accident and you’d seemed ok with that, so I figured perhaps you didn’t really want kids.”

 

He shook his head “I don’t think I really let myself think about it too much, until all that stuff with Michelle and then that I guess put me off the idea, at least consciously… oh Angie I do want this… so much!” he put his hand across my stomach and looked at it “You hear that Little Bean? I do want you more than anything. I’m going to take such good care of your Mummy and make sure we meet you.” He looked back up to me and his expression was so sweet. “I’m so conflicted right now.”

 

I frowned, confused. “Why?”

 

“You are carrying my unborn child and I want to put you in a bubble and keep you safe from everyone and everything, and you look hot as hell in that outfit and I’ve been dying to ravish you since I saw you in it.”

 

I raised a brow and chuckled “I don’t think a little ravishing will do me or Little Bean any harm at all, that’s what got us here in the first place after all.”

 

I pulled at his bowtie and it unravelled and I giggled as he raised an eyebrow with that half smile that I knew meant I was in trouble. I flicked open the top button on his shirt and the next before he pulled me to him and kissed me deeply. This was heat, this was passion and and I felt his hands slide down my body, gathering up the long layers of chiffon in the skirt seeking the flesh underneath. I chuckled as he broke our kiss and rolled his eyes as he struggled with the many layers of slippery fabric. Finally he managed to pull up the lowest layer enough to run his hand up my leg and he gave me a smug smile before moving to kiss at my neck then he stopped again, a pleasantly surprised expression as his hand reached the clasp of the garter belt I was wearing. I’d decided on stockings rather than tights as an extra surprise for him, and it worked. “Oh this is new!” he grinned. “Let’s leave that there for later.” He sat up, and I wrapped my arms around his neck as he stood again with me in his arms and carried me to bed.

 

The room looked like a tornado had gone through it. A shirt was barely clinging on to the back of the dressing table chair, a bowtie lay like a snake on the floor, the many layers of my skirts lay puddled on the floor nearby with the beaded bodice sitting up eerily in the middle, Sam’s Jacket had been thrown onto a armchair and his trousers somehow were on the dressing table, a stocking was draped over a bedside lamp and the other was hanging off the headboard. Sam lay half propped up on the pillows with me at his side, head on his chest, my arm wrapped around him, his arm around me and fingers in my now very dishevelled hair. He surveyed the room and chuckled “Let’s leave it like this for housekeeping… that’ll keep them entertained.”

 

I grinned and laughed “Well evidence would suggest I’ve been well and truly ravished.”

 

He slapped my arse playfully with his other hand. “And do you agree?”

 

I lifted my head and grinned dreamily at him “Completely!”

 

 

Chapter Text

We got into a routine in the following weeks and months. Most days Sam would head off to the studio or a location early morning. Despite his protests I would wake with him so I would be able to spend a little time with him before he left. Once he was gone I would eat breakfast and head into the office. My days were mostly filled with My Sanctuary, we’d found some land in the Highlands and I was now looking into if we would be allowed to build there before buying it. There was also an inordinate amount of hoops to jump through to get the charity registered and able to accept donations. I had regular medical checks at Sam’s insistence despite it being very early in pregnancy, he was so attentive it got annoying at times. I tried not to let it show though because I knew it was because he was overcompensating for not being around much due to filming. At 8 weeks we had shared the news with Chrissie, Sam’s brother Cierdan and with Hayley who were all ridiculously excited and happy for us. I still wasn’t showing much and Sam’s schedule meant very few public appearances so we decided not to say more for a few more weeks. Most days Sam wouldn’t get home until after 8pm, he would be exhausted and I would always have something light for him to eat ready and waiting. Then we’d spend a hour or so cuddled on the couch sharing our days and enjoying each other’s company.

 

One Sunday about 6 weeks after the BAFTAs Sam had a day off, he’d still got up early and gone for a long run, he really enjoyed running when he had the chance, it gave him time to himself to just empty his head and focus on his body and given his busy schedule that was important for his mental health. He initially would feel bad about being gone for so long on those rare days off but I assured him I didn’t resent it at all, I needed him happy and relaxed and if that’s what it took then so be it.

 

When he returned I was up, showered and dressed, cooked breakfast in progress and coffee brewing. I got a hot and sweaty kiss before he ran up to the shower with me shouting after him that breakfast would be ready in 15 minutes.

 

I was just serving up when he came back down, wet hair tousled and messy, tight jeans and a grey t-shirt.

Damn he’s sexy!

I smiled and sighed dreamily as he crossed the room and he laughed at me. “What?” he asked pulling out a chair and sitting down.

Wouldn’t you like to know!

I took a deep breath and grinned “Oh nothing!” I put down a plate in front of him; bacon, sausage, haggis, eggs, toast, mushrooms and tomato. He breathed in the smell and smiled up at me. “Thanks beautiful! I’m ready for this.” It wasn’t as unhealthy as it sounds, all cooked in the oven rather than fried and the eggs poached. He enjoyed it as a weekly treat and so did I. Haggis was a new ingredient to me, as an English woman I was more used to black pudding but that was near impossible to find here and Haggis made a great alternative. I put my plate down on the table too then brought the coffees before sitting down with him.

 

“Enjoy your run?” I asked as we tucked in.

 

He nodded “Yeah, did 10k and wasn’t stopped once. Made a nice change!” he enthusiastically sliced at his bacon and picked up a piece with his fork along with some sausage and mushroom.

 

I chuckled at his apparent hunger “Well you certainly worked up an appetite.” I commented and he nodded and kept on eating. I tucked into my breakfast and after a minute he said.

 

“How about you? You must be starting to feel hungrier now, Little Bean getting bigger.” he grinned proudly at that.

I love that he always has that smile when we talk about the baby. So pleased with himself.

“I am a little… I’m snacking more, need to keep an eye on that.”

 

He nodded then smiling again “Later we’ll know if Little Bean is boy or girl. Can’t wait!”

 

“Hopefully!” I reminded him “Don’t get your hopes up too much, if Bean is facing the wrong way we’re scuppered till next time”

 

Sam reached across and put his hand on my very tiny bump and leaned down to talk to it

“Make sure you’re facing the right way Bean, Daddy’s impatient.” he patted the bump lightly and winked at me as he sat up.

 

I shook my head and chuckled “I’m not going to get a look in with this child. Being charmed by Daddy already.”


 

Sam was like a kid in a sweetshop. He couldn’t sit still and when we were called in by the nurse he jumped up so fast it made the other waiting patients jump with surprise. I was more anxious than excited although trying not to let it show. I’d been down this road, I knew the risks then and my body had been through significant trauma since and a few more years.

 

We were led into a room with a bed in the centre, and I was instructed to lie back on it. I was working hard to keep my breathing steady, Sam held my hand and was fascinated as I lifted my top and the gel was squeezed onto me then spread with the scanning device. A nurse was asking questions while the other performed the scan.

 

I was trying to focus on the questions, just standard, date of birth type questions when we heard the sound.

 

Woosh Woosh Woosh Woosh

Oh! Oh it’s real, it’s alive.

I looked at Sam, his eyes were wide as he recognised the sound and he looked from my stomach to my face, the smile on his face was indescribable.

 

“There we are” the nurse who was scanning said quietly “Nice and strong and steady.”

 

Sam squeezed my hand and I could see a million thoughts pass through his mind. The scan continued and eventually a picture became clearer on the screen, and there was our Little Bean, curled up on their back, head, arms and legs all clear to see. We both gasped our eyes locked on the screen. “Hi Little Bean!” I said quietly

 

“Beautiful scan, lovely and clear” the nurse said “Were we thinking about 12 weeks?”

 

I nodded and she smiled “Looks about right to me. I can tell you sex if you want to know.” Sam and I smiled at each other.

 

“Yes” we said together, each squeezing the other’s hand

 

She smiled, our giddiness passing onto her. “I believe you have beautiful little girl in there.”

 

“A girl." Sam muttered and if at all possible looked even more proud. I was simply thankful so far all looked good and healthy.

 

The nurse finished by carrying out a test to measure the fluid behind the baby’s neck, which along with the blood sample she took from me before we left would screen for risk of Downs Syndrome and other conditions. Due to my age Sam and I had agreed to the screening but also agreed that it was purely so everyone was properly informed, the outcome wouldn’t change a thing for us.

 

We left clutching the envelope that held the first images of our daughter, when we got into the car Sam wanted to look at it again and I took the picture out of the envelope. We sat together in the underground car park, hands clasped staring at the grainy image.

 

“Little Bean is real.” Sam’s smile filled his face and he leaned across and kissed me. “A daughter, thank you my love!”

 

Of course the hormones, the growing bump and occasional morning sickness had made Little Bean real to me before today but I loved watching the realisation hit Sam. I leaned across and rested my head on his shoulder.

 

“It took two to make her.” I reminded him.

 

He traced the outline of the shape in the image. “Bit bigger than a bean now though” he smiled proudly. “Can we still call her Bean though? I’ve got to like it… until she’s born and gets a proper name? "

 

I nodded and sighed.

A girl. I’m so glad. My boy will still be my boy.

“As long as she gets a new name when she’s born, I’m definitely not putting Bean Heughan on the birth certificate” I told him.

 

We laughed and I slid the image back into the envelope. “Take me home Daddy Bear!” I told him. Sam’s eyes lit up at that and as he started the engine he was grinning madly.

 

“Daddy Bear! I like that.” he muttered and winked at me as he pulled the car out of the space. “Need to make a stop before home.”

Oh! Where?

I looked at him curiously and he gave his nose a tap with his finger. “You’ll see.”

 

We didn’t go far, parking up on a street in Glasgow. Sam took my hand as I got out of the car a little warily. “Sam where are we going?” I asked. Nothing on this street looked particularly special. He said nothing and led me along the street.

 

We passed a shop window with a display of traditional toys and games and as I was about to comment on how nice the display was, Sam stopped and opened the door to the shop that the window belonged to. Inside was like going back in time, Traditional wooden toys and games, Teddy bears and dolls were everywhere. A toy train circled the shop and there was a Big Wheel made from Meccano pieces on the end of the wooden counter.

 

“Sam… we said we wouldn’t buy anything for Bean yet.” I reminded him. I didn’t want to tempt fate.

 

He grinned and pulling me to him, he stroked my cheek. “It's not for Bean.” he told me.

 

A lady appeared from the back room and seeing Sam and I offered us a welcoming smile. “Can I help?” she asked.

 

Sam stepped forward and spoke with her quietly and I could barely hear anything. The woman nodded and disappeared back into the room behind the counter. Sam came back over to me and picked up a puppet on strings “She’ll be a few minutes, final touches.” he tried to make the puppet dance and I laughed as it moved chaotically thanks to the unskilled puppet master. I picked up a doll, she reminded me of a doll I’d been given as a child, beautiful golden hair in curls and dressed like a princess.

 

“I had one like this.” I told Sam. He smiled and looked at the doll.

 

“Then Bean will too, one day!” he spotted the vintage toy cars on the next shelf and moved across to look at those and play with them. "She'll have these too." 

 

After a few minutes the woman came back out with a large box. “Here we go, all done as you asked.” she said handing it to Sam. It was large enough that he needed both arms to hold it and could just see over the top, but it didn’t seem to be particularly heavy. It was wrapped in pretty pink paper and finished with a large bow. Sam thanked her and I assumed he must have already paid as he then led us out of the shop.

 

Once outside and the door closed I asked “Sam what is it?”

 

He grinned and started walking back to the car “It’s a box!”

 

I chased after and growled at him. “Well I can see that! Come on what you playing at?”

 

He unlocked the car and loaded the box onto the back seat.

 

“You’ll see when we get home.” he smirked and I could have smacked him I was so frustrated, I hated being teased like this. I got back into the passenger seat and after fastening my belt I folded my arms and Sam laughed as he got back into the driver’s seat.

 

“That is the cutest angry face I’ve ever seen.” he told me.

 

I gave him a sidelong glance as he started the engine, I was desperately trying to maintain my scowl but as always I couldn’t stay mad and a grin was fighting to break free.

 

“You’re a tease!” I pouted once we were moving again.

 

“And you love it when I tease” he grinned and winked at me.

Damn him and that wink!

I sighed and rolled my eyes and he laughed out loud. “It’s a present for you, but I had to tell the woman it was for a friend. You’ll see why soon ok?”

 

I chewed my lip and grinned slightly having had a slight victory in getting more information. “OK” I winked back at him and he shook his head and turned on the radio.


 

I love presents. Sam knows this. He knows I get over excited at the thought of what could be hidden beneath the wrapping.

Having one I knew was for me sat behind me made the journey home seem like forever.

 

Once home he took his time parking the car, closing the gate, finally picking up the box and bringing it inside. He put it on the coffee table in the living room then turned and tried to leave the room “Do you want Tea?” he asked knowing full well I was more excited than a kid at Christmas .

 

“You stay right there Heughan” I told him firmly and he feigned innocence as he stopped and turned to me with that hint of a grin twitching at the edge of his lips.

 

“You don’t want tea then?” he asked and I shook my head slowly and looked at the box. “Well open it then.” he said sounding as if he was the impatient one “I did say it was a gift for you.”

 

Finally permission given I sat on the couch in front of the box and pulled at the ribbon. Before the bow completely untied I noticed a tag and I pulled it to me to read.

 

“For Mummy Bear” it read and I lifted my eyes to Sam who’d moved back into the room standing next to me. I reached for his hand and guided him to sit next to me then kissed him gently.

 

“I’m sorry I was grumpy love” I told him and he wrapped his arm around me.

 

“Forgiven, now hurry up and open it will you, I’m dying to see what you think.” he chuckled and I laughed, I hadn’t considered the wait had been torture for him too.

 

I pulled the ribbon again and as the bow collapsed so did the box, the four sides dropping to the side, the top being attached to one of them fell back. Revealed was Three teddy bears, all a similar style, golden fur, styled into little circles all over, each had a unique face. The largest was not only longer but broader, it had blue eyes and it wore a kilt in the tartan I recognised as Sam’s customised herringbone pattern. Within his paws sat a slightly smaller bear, green eyes, with more delicate features wearing a sky blue dress in a very similar style to the one I wore to the BAFTAs and that one held a much smaller bear, with blue eyes and a pink ribbon around it’s neck.

 

I was beaming and speechless. I reached out and touched the soft fur on the baby bear and I felt my heart skip a beat.

 

“Handmade, just for us.” Sam said quietly “I was waiting till I could say what colour Bean’s ribbon should be. I was going to collect it on my own and bring it home to you, but when you called me Daddy Bear!” he grinned. “I couldn’t wait, plus I got to tease you.” he squeezed me to him and I cuddled into his shoulder still speechless with tears in my eyes. He kissed my forehead, “Do you like?”

 

I couldn’t take my eyes off them. Teddy bears had been a love of mine forever, as I’d grown older I’d bowed to pressure to reduce my once vast collection but it was no secret I still wanted every one I saw. These, these were so special, made, just for us, and it was us, our little family.

 

“They’re perfect” I finally managed to say, a tear dropping down my cheek. Then I grinned and chuckled “I notice Daddy Bear is shirtless.”

 

“Naturally” he chuckled, “Just how Mummy Bear likes him.”

 

I turned and wrapped my arms around his neck. “Mummy bear loves him, shirt or no shirt… although she’ll never complain about the sight of Daddy Bear’s skin.” I kissed him “You spoil me my Sweet man, thank you for such a beautiful, thoughtful gift.”

 

He kissed me back and rested his forehead against mine “You’re worth it my beautiful. I wish I had words for how much I love you.” he stroked my hair with both of his hands “I never knew someone could be so precious to me. I feel like I’m going to explode from how much I love you sometimes.”

 

I stroked the back of his neck, I loved this intimacy we had now. “I know the feeling very well my love. I’m the luckiest woman on earth and believe me I know it.” I told him, my heart literally aching with love for him in that moment.

 

“A girl” he said a few moments later leaning back and letting me snuggle into him. “I never said, because really, it wouldn’t have made a lot of difference, but I was hoping for a girl.”

 

I chuckled “Another woman to idolise you?”

 

He rolled his eyes and chuckled “It won’t hurt… but no… I had this dream, after you told me you were pregnant, you with a little girl, blue eyes and blonde hair, she was so beautiful.” he sounded dreamy as if going back to that dream “You looked so happy and she came to me with her little arms raised wanting me to put her on my shoulders. I remember waking and feeling so happy” he put his hand on my bump. “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to keep this secret much longer love, I’m so excited and they’re noticing, at work, especially Cait, she knows I’m keeping something from her.”

 

I lifted my head to see his face “You can tell Cait, quietly, but lets just give it a little while longer before going fully public with it ok?” I said softly.

 

He smiled and kissed my nose “Thank you love, that makes things a little easier. I understand why you’re holding back, I’m just not good with secrets”.

 

I squeezed him and kissed his cheek “I know love, it’s not much longer, let’s get these test results and we’ll take it from there OK?”

 

He nodded and smiled his hand still on my belly. “I feel like a different person now” he said quietly “I was so focussed on work and my projects, keeping myself busy. Now… they’re still important of course, but I’m happiest here, just us.” he kissed me tenderly and gently stroked my belly. “The three of us.” he finished.

Is it possible he’s even sweeter than I had thought?

 

 

Chapter Text

Ten weeks later we’d still managed to keep the news to a small circle of close friends. Everything had come back fine from the screenings and so far aside from my blood pressure being a little high everything looked good. Sam had another day off and we had plans for that afternoon. Starting to wake I could feel Sam’s hand stroking my growing bump gently, I opened my eyes and he was on his side, watching me. He smiled and leaned down to kiss me. “Good morning beautiful” he said quietly. “Sorry if I woke you. Was just saying good morning to Bean”

 

As if on cue I felt a flutter of movement in my abdomen and Sam smiled broadly as he felt it too.” Bean is saying good morning to you too.” I grinned. Sam leaned down and kissed my belly, turning his head to rest his cheek against it for a second. “Good morning my princess” he whispered “I can’t wait to hold you.”

 

I stroked his hair and closed my eyes. He was already such a devoted father, I felt so blessed. “I love you so much.” I muttered and he lifted his head and came back up to kiss me. He stroked my face his expression full of love. “How do you get more beautiful every day?” he asked me in wonder. “I’m the luckiest man in the world.” he kissed me again, then moving to kiss my neck in the spot he knew made me weak.

 

I sighed happily and stroked my fingers down his spine making him shiver. His hands moved down my body, caressing my breasts which were tender especially after we had made love the night before and there were marks on my skin from his playful bites. His touch was light, almost feather-like and it gave me goosebumps which made him grin. “I love how your body responds to me.” he whispered looking back up at my face. “Makes me feel powerful.”

 

I sighed and whispered back “I’m completely under your power Sam, always have been.”

 

He slid his hand down between my legs and I arched my back into his touch my lips open as I gasped. His long fingers gently probed and stroked and he covered my mouth with his as he kissed me, his tongue mirroring his fingers as it probed within my mouth. I reached for his cock, I could feel it growing harder against my stomach and I wrapped my hand around the thick muscle, silken to the touch and twitching in response to my touch. I brushed my thumb across the broad head and Sam moaned into my mouth. I stroked him, holding firmly and bucked my hips against his fingers. He took the hint, positioning himself and sliding his cock deep inside me firmly making my cry out.

 

He rocked his hips, moving hard, always more urgent in the mornings I had noticed. He held himself up on his arms so he wasn’t putting his weight on my belly and his eyes were closed as he moved over me. My fingers pressed into his back and as he was close his eyes opened, his face a mixture of pain and pleasure, his eyes burning into me as he came, thrusting deep inside me and holding for a moment before he fell to the side and rolled onto his back breathless. “Angie, I don’t know if I’ve said this before… every time… every time I am inside you, it feels like the first time. I don’t know what you do to me.” he panted after a few moments. I didn’t quite know what to say, that was one hell of a thing to hear.

 

I turned on my side and played with the hair on his chest with my finger, “I just love you my sweet man” I told him simply. “With every fibre of my body.”

 

He turned his head and grinned at me “Well don’t ever stop.” he asked and I chuckled. I lifted my head to see the time on the bedside table clock.

 

“Oh we’d better get up, we need to leave in just over an hour or we’ll be late.”

 

I leaned down and kissed him before moving to get out of bed. I heard him moving to sit up on the other side. “Can’t be late today… your big day!” he commented and he moved around the bed to my side and held out his hand to me “Come on, quick shower and I’ll make breakfast before we go.”

 

I looked him up and down as he stood before me naked and utterly beautiful.

And mine!

“Make sure it’s just a shower, no time for shenanigans” I grinned taking his hand.

 

He laughed “After that my love, I’ll not be fit for shenanigans for a bit… getting old you know.” he led me into the bathroom.


 

We arrived at the site bang on time. There was some press that had been invited along with other guests I’d invited. We were breaking ground today on what would be the lodge for My Sanctuary. The press were invited to raise the profile of the charity. The site was on the Western coast of Scotland, south of Oban. The guests included local dignitaries, some contacts from related charities that my organisation would be working alongside and Sam’s mum had kindly come along to support as well. Hayley was meant to be here, much of this was down to her work, but was had come down with the flu and didn’t want to risk passing her germs to me so she stayed home. The contracting firm I had commissioned to build the lodge had already set up a site office and the ground had been cleared. I’d kept out of the public gaze for the last few weeks, and we were both aware it was very clear to anyone who saw me now that I was pregnant. We had decided we would make the public announcement as part if this event. Not entirely unexpectedly some of Sam’s fans were also here, a small crowd of devoted followers who got wind of the event and figured he would be there. Security was light but the fans were respectful and Sam immediately went over to them as soon as we got out of the car, fulfilling his duty to them so he could focus on the event afterwards.

 

While he was with them I walked across and greeted the local Mayor who had been instrumental in helping us get the land we wanted and the permission to build the lodge. I gave Chrissie a big hug and thanked her for coming and spoke with the Architect and Project Manager. Laura, who I had hired as publicist for the charity had organised the event and was talking with the journalists who were focussed more on taking pictures at this point, knowing I would speak with them after the ceremony. After a few minutes as I was talking to Chrissie I felt Sam’s arms around me from behind, his hands on my belly. He kissed my cheek and grinned as he spoke to his mum “Hi Mum, thanks for coming!” he moved around me to hug her too before moving back to stand with his arm protectively round my back. I looked over to the group of fans, they’d been allowed onto the site with security watching closely and were gathered behind the invited guests chatting animatedly as they looked over at us.

 

“They wanted to see, and they promised to behave.” Sam told me. “I know most of them, they’ll be ok.” I nodded and leaned into him. My nerves were on edge, I had to give a speech and even though it was only a small group of people, this was important to me. He rubbed my shoulder and kissed my head. “You’ll be great.” he said supportively.

 

Laura came over and gave me the nod. Time to start. A small stage had been set up and she stepped up and tapped the microphone that stood in the centre.

 

“Ladies and Gentleman, as you all know we are here to support the charity My Sanctuary and break ground on what will be the first, of possibly many Lodge Retreats around the UK that will enable those who have suffered loss of loved one, find a place to heal. "

 

The crowd applauded politely. She continued “Before we break ground I’d like to introduce you to the founder of My Sanctuary who will tell us the importance of this project to her and to others… Angela Cameron.”

 

Sam kissed my cheek as I headed up to the stage and I watched him move from the side to the front row applauding with everyone else. There were whoops and cheers from the gang of fans in the back and their enthusiasm made me smile. Camera’s flashed and I noticed a few video cameras watching too.

OK This is your project, and you’re proud of it… just tell them about that. You can do this.

I took a deep breath, saw Sam beaming proudly up at me and began to speak. “Thank you everyone.” I clutched some cards in my hands which held my notes. The applause stopped. “Grief, which we have all encountered to some degree in our lives, is not something that can be easily defined. Each person’s experience is unique to them, each loss is different and there will never be a way to undo the pain, the guilt, the damage done to each person left behind. What I have learned through my own experience, with the sudden loss of my husband, my parents and my unborn child in one accident, is that while it can’t be undone, there is a way to go on, a way to look forward to your future afterwards, and a way to honour those I’ve lost by living the life they would want for me.”

 

I breathed out slowly, controlling the nerves that had my hands shaking as I tried to read my cards.

 

“It’s not a easy journey, it’s not always a straight road and there are times when I feel like I’m back at the beginning, but that is why I wanted to create My Sanctuary. Despite the accident, I am able to say I was lucky; I had the support of my best friend and the cause of my accident meant I was soon given the means to access a quality grief therapist and that along with an experience of a retreat that literally changed everything for me has got me to a place where I can finally talk about what happened, talk about those I loved, and lost, and more importantly, made me realise I can love again.”

 

I smiled at Sam and I could see tears in his eyes. “Not everyone has access to the support I had, either because they can’t afford it or because they are not fortunate enough to have the people in their lives who can offer that support when needed. That is what My Sanctuary is for. A place for those deep in grief to get the support they need, meet others, make friends, share experiences and access the highest quality therapies and counsellors. All without having to worry about money. It won’t just be when they are here at the Lodge, but they will have access to private groups, we’ll run events, chances for our clients to have new experiences in their lives and remind them that it is OK to live, and be happy and start new lives…” I held my hand on my bump and smiled “…and even create new lives. So thank you, thank you all for your support, thank you for your donations and thank you for standing out here in the middle of this beautiful landscape just to watch me put a spade in the ground.”

 

Everyone laughed and cheered and applauded as I stepped down from the stage over to the area that had been designated for the ground breaking. My hands still shaking I took hold of the spade that was handed to me by the Project Manager and smiled up at the crowd, cameras flashed and I pushed my foot down on the spade and it sank into the ground. I lifted the piece of earth out and tossed it to the side and everyone cheered again. Sam bounded over to me and wrapped me in his arms, picking me up off the ground as he hugged me. “You were amazing, I knew you would be.” he swung me round and again everyone laughed.

 

He put me down and we posed for the photographers, I swear his chest was puffed out in pride and once we got a few moments to ourselves he wrapped me in his arms and kissed me deeply. “I am so bloody happy for you right now.” he gushed. “you did this, it’s wonderful.”. The guests were being served sparkling wine and I grabbed an orange juice, my hands still shaking “What I’d give for a Whisky” I chuckled and Sam laughed and drank orange juice with me in solidarity.

 

“Time for interviews” Laura interrupted. “I’ve set up some chairs for you over there, I know you’re not meant to be on your feet too much.” I looked up at Sam, who must have been the source of that information and shook my head

 

“Fusspot” I called him and he grinned as he feigned innocence.

 

“Just protecting my family.” he said and we headed over to where Laura had set up the chairs.

 

One by one the dozen or so invited journalists each interviewed us. Sam made sure the focus was on me and the charity and diverted any questions about him. Naturally we were asked about the baby to which we just confirmed it was true and we were very happy.

 

Interviews over, some of the guests had already left, I chatted with the few remaining and even to some of the fans who stuck around and were positively giddy at the news Sam was to be a father. Quite a few left small donations for the charity which I thanked them for. It was so nice to have such a positive interaction with them after all the drama months before.

Sam was right, most of them are downright adorable.

We bid Chrissie farewell as she headed back to Edinburgh and Sam took a selfie of us at the ground breaking site which he posted on Instagram with the comment “Proud”. We got back into our car, we’d hired a driver for this trip and we cuddled up in the back seat not realising how cold it had been until we felt the warmth of the car.

 

I looked out at the site, the last time I’d see it before building began and took a deep breath. Sam stroked my hair watching me. “I hope you feel as proud as I do. You did this, not me, not even us, you. Your idea, your money, your work.” I smiled and nodded.

 

“I do. I don’t think I’ve ever really felt proud like this, but yes I do… although Hayley and Laura and well it wasn’t JUST my work.”

 

He kissed my forehead and sighed. “They wouldn’t have done it without you. You led it. That’s what matters.”

 

“Yes … and of course… now the erm… Bean is out of the bag!” I chuckled stroking my belly .

 

Sam smiled “I loved how you included her… and me. Thank you.”

 

I rested my head on his shoulder “It was true, you have been a big part of my healing… and I know I have… moments, but don’t ever for one second think I regret loving you..”

 

“I know my love. I’m so bloody lucky.” he said squeezing me.

 

“Yes you are” I grinned.

 

“I love how much more confident you are now.” he said beaming. “Talking to the fans like a pro, and making the crowd laugh. You’re starting to let your light shine, and I love it.”

 

“Aw thank you… " I blushed. I hadn’t really felt confident but it felt good to hear him say that. “It helps knowing you have my back.”

 

“Always!” he sighed and looked out of the window at the open expanse of heather around us.

There he goes, to that place in his head he won’t tell me about.

It was happening more often, first when I’d asked him where he went he said “heaven” and would say no more. I was curious, nosey really, we didn’t keep secrets, or at least I liked to think so and while I didn’t think it was anything bad, I wished he would share those thoughts with me.

 

“Penny for em” I asked, trying to prompt him to share after a few minutes.

 

He squeezed me close and kissed my forehead. “Worth more than that.” he answered. “Just thinking”

 

I sighed “What are you thinking about though… I’m nosey ok?” he grinned looking down at me then frowned a little seeing the frustration on my face.

 

“Nothing bad my love, just dreaming, hoping, wishing… " he stroked my face “… I never imagined a life like this, a love like this, a child, a family… it just gets me thinking about what could be.”

 

I nodded and smiled, satisfied with that, we all had our dreams, our wishes for the future. When he was ready he would share them. I kissed him and snuggled into his embrace. “Sorry I pushed… I get scared sometimes.”

 

He smiled and stroked my hair. “We both do my love. But I’m here, and I love you with every part of me and I know you feel the same, so we’ll put up with those little demons in our heads because we both know they don’t really matter.”

 

“God you’re perfect!” I exclaimed and he rolled his eyes.

 

“No, just honest.”

Chapter Text

We had tried to put it all behind us. However, the time had come that we had to go back to the scariest part of our short time together. The trial was beginning for the two women who had tried to kill us. They had decided to try them together as one of the charges was conspiracy to murder. We had got on with our lives, we avoided being told anything about the women or the trial until the week before when we had to be prepared by the prosecution service as we would be giving evidence.

 

It was during this prep we learned details we’d had no idea about. The woman who held a gun at me was called Samantha Frey, she was 49, divorced and from Wigan, a town not all that far from my home town. Along with the conspiracy charge she was charged with Attempted Murder, Illegal Possession of a Firearm and Sending of Malicious Communications. The woman who set fire to my house and shot Sam was Jade Hamilton, 35 years old, single and from Birmingham. She was also charged with Attempted Murder, Arson and Illegal possession of a Firearm.

 

It hadn’t occurred to me at the time but one of the first questions I had when we sat down with the prosecutors and our solicitor was “Do either of them have any children?”. I was relieved to hear the answer was no. Both had previously been diagnosed with various mental illnesses and both already had criminal records although for far less serious offences. The prosecutors confirmed that they had evidence that they had communicated with Michelle in the USA in the weeks before she was finally arrested and that since then they had been plotting initially to kidnap Sam, but after the publication of the pictures of me, their conversations had shifted towards getting me out of the picture. The letters to me and to Sam via his Agent had Samantha’s DNA on them. The security cameras Steve had insisted on installing had captured Jade in the act of pouring accelerants through the letter box, and smashing windows to throw more in to the house before throwing in a few Molotov cocktails in through different windows on both floors before making her getaway in a car.

 

Despite the overwhelming evidence against them, they both plead Not Guilty. This was not what we wanted, we hoped to avoid a trial but the prosecutors believed they had both done so in the belief that they would meet Sam at the trial. It seemed, they would at least be in the same room despite our arguments that there really wasn’t much either of us could contribute in regards to evidence. We were still required to testify about our experiences and had agreed we would attend the trial to do just that but wouldn’t be attending at any other time.

 

The day had come, the trial had already been in full flow for two weeks. We received updates from our solicitor who attended each session and were both so frustrated that the trial was getting quite a lot of press attention with lots of commentary about the price of fame and how easy it had been for the women to get firearms.

 

Sam shucked on his jacket and adjusted the collar as he looked in the mirror in the hotel room we had in London, he was not in the best mood.

 

“We shouldn’t have to do this. You’re pregnant, supposed to be avoiding stress because of your blood pressure, there’s nothing you or I can tell them that they don’t already know.”

 

I sat on the end of the bed, trying to control my breathing, Sam’s tension was affecting my already enhanced anxiety. I let out a controlled breath and looked up at him as he turned to me. “You know I agree love, but we don’t have a choice, let’s just hope it’s quick.”. I didn’t relish the idea of being in the room with those women.

 

He came over and sat next to me, wrapping his arm around me. “I’m sorry, I’m not helping your blood pressure either.” he kissed my cheek. “Once this is over I don’t want to think about any of this again.”.

 

He squeezed me close and I rested my head on his shoulder. “I couldn’t agree more.”

 

Sam’s phone beeped, our car was here. He stood and held out his hand to me, “Come on beautiful, let’s get this over with.”

 

We headed down and into the car. At the court there was a crowd of press and also fans supporting Sam. Security held back the crowd as we got out of the car and walked into the courthouse, Sam held me close to him, his hand protectively around my back. We kept our heads down avoiding talking to the press and once inside I paused and took a deep breath.

 

“You OK?” Sam asked concerned.

 

I nodded and took another breath “Just need a moment.” I wasn’t taking any medication for my anxiety because of the pregnancy and my heart was hammering.

 

Sam kept me close as we passed through the security and once inside we were directed to a room where we could wait until we were called. We sat and waited for the prosecution team who came in a few minutes later. The lead barrister was Helen and she smiled warmly at us as she sat down.

 

“I know you don’t want to be here and so I’m bringing you both up first thing so you can go as soon as possible. Angela, you will be first. Sam you can come and sit in the court if you wish. We start in 10 minutes so we need to go.”

 

My grip on Sam’s hand was deathly tight. “I’ll be going in.” he told her. His thumb stroking the back of my hand. We all stood, and until we got the to door of the courtroom Sam and I walked hand in hand.

 

Helen stopped “Angela you’ll need to wait outside until you’re called, it won’t be long. Just a few minutes to get the session started then I’ll call you right away.”

 

I nodded silently, Sam guided me to the chairs outside the courtroom and sat with me for a minute. “Angie, you’re so quiet, are you sure you’re ok?”

 

I felt like I was out of my body, I could see, hear, feel Sam and the people around me but my heart hammered hard and nothing seemed real. The baby shifted and it snapped me back into the reality. I put my hand on my now prominent bump “I’ll be ok love, just keeping my breathing under control.” I tried a smile but I knew he wasn’t convinced.

 

“You need to come in now Sam” Helen told him, the door to the courtroom open. He nodded and frowning he kissed me. “I love you.” he told me as he stood and walked into the room. The door closed behind them and I was alone on the chair apart from a court officer who stood a little further down the corridor.

 

It felt like no time at all before my name was called and I was escorted to the witness box. As I walked into the court I noticed the two women in the dock, behind plastic panels.

They look so… ordinary

Sam was sat as close to the witness box as he could get, and I tried again to give him a smile as I took my oath and sat down.

 

Helen started asking me questions.

 

“Tell me about your relationship with Mr Sam Heughan.” she started with. She had prepared me that she would ask but it still seemed strange at that moment to talk about this so publicly. My hands clasped together and I let out a long controlled breath before answering.

 

“Sam is my partner.” I answered

One down

“And how did you meet?” Helen asked.

 

“Will my learned friend explain the relevance to this question Your Honour?” the defence barrister interrupted.

 

“All will become clear.” Helen responded.

 

“Please answer the question” the judge turned to me to instruct.

 

I nodded “We first met in Seattle, in the Business Class lounge at the airport, domestic terminal. We were both flying to Anchorage, it turned out in fact we were both going to the same place.” I looked at Sam, the memory in my mind and then to Helen.

 

“Please continue, what caused you to meet?” she asked.

 

“I was having a panic attack, Sam saw me and could see what was happening and stepped in to help me.”

 

“You lured him, you poisonous BITCH” one of the women in the dock screamed and there were gasps throughout the courtroom. My heart beat even faster remembering that voice from my attack and I closed my eyes as I heard the judge command.

 

“Ms Frey, any more outbursts from you and I will hold you in contempt of court.” I assume the judge had noticed my eyes were closed. “Ms Cameron, are you OK to continue?”.

 

Again I let out a long controlled breath and opened my eyes, Sam’s concern was clear. I nodded. “I am Your Honour” I answered.

 

Helen smiled warmly at me from her position behind her table. I found it interesting that UK Barristers didn’t prowl around the courtroom like they do in US legal dramas.

 

“So after he helped you recover from the panic attack you discovered you were both going to the same place? Where was this?” she asked.

 

I hated this, neither of us wanted the world to know the full story but they insisted it was necessary.

 

“A place in southern Alaska, a retreat, called The Sanctuary”

 

“Some pictures were taken of yourself with Mr Heughan in this airport lounge, is that correct?”

 

“Apparently so” I answered “We didn’t know until days later when they were published”

 

Helen submitted the pictures to the judge then continued “So in these pictures you are sat on the lap of Mr Heughan. How did this come to happen?”

 

My mouth was dry and I licked my lips.

 

“I was extremely tired, I had taken medication for my anxiety which made me very sleepy, there was nowhere I could sleep comfortably in the lounge, the chairs were too small. So he kindly offered his lap.” I gave a half smile to Sam remembering the kind gesture. He smiled back but there was still a frown on his forehead.

 

“So within minutes of meeting you for the first time he made this offer?” she asked

 

“Yes” I answered.

 

“How gallant!” she exclaimed loudly and everyone in the courtroom chuckled.

 

“Your Honour, my learned friend is not making her point clear as promised” the defence sighed, not enjoying that the prosecution had got a laugh out of the jury.

 

“My point Your Honour, is that the photographs taken at this point were used out of context to infer a romantic relationship existed between Ms Cameron and Mr Heughan prior to their meeting in Seattle airport. This is the spark which caused the defendants to begin their campaign of harassment and terror against Ms Cameron and Mr Heughan. I believe it’s important to clarify that despite a relationship developing afterwards, at the point those photographs were taken, they were effectively strangers.”

 

The judge nodded “Continue”

 

Helen smiled “So to be clear Ms Cameron, at what point did your relationship with Mr Heughan develop into a romantic one?”

 

“Four days later” I told her. “After the photos had already been published, but we weren’t aware until the day after that.”

 

“Thank you Ms Cameron, now just a few more questions… when you arrived back at your home sixteen days later, some letters were found, is this correct?”

 

“Yes, aside from my normal mail there was a letter from a lady who identified herself as a fan, which was very sweet, and another, which really wasn’t”

 

Helen handed me the letter in an evidence bag. “Is this the letter?”

 

I nodded, it was strange seeing it again, suddenly it seemed so much more terrifying than it had when I last saw it. My hands began to shake. “Yes, it appears to be the same”.

 

The evidence was submitted to the judge and shown to the jury.

 

“Did you receive more of these?”

 

“Yes, two more in total, the same words.”

 

“And you found it necessary to keep a private security officer with you as a result, is that correct?

 

“Yes, initially I had hired him because of some online messages, but when we saw the first letter was hand delivered, I kept him on. I didn’t feel safe.”

 

“Ms Cameron we’ve already heard evidence from that officer, and he has told us that in fact you were not safe at all. Please tell us in your own words, what happened at Delamere Forest.”

 

I felt dizzy and took a few moments to breathe before answering. “I was walking there, with my neighbour’s dog. Steve, the officer, he was following behind. I hadn’t been out in days and I needed some air. I was playing with the dog in a picnic area, it was quiet, nobody else there. I saw Steve receive a call and he signalled for me to wait, as he came to me I felt something against my back and heard a woman’s voice…” I was shaking again. “She had a gun, and was threatening to kill me.”

 

“Did she offer a reason?” Helen asked.

 

I gulped “She said Jamie was hers.. well no she kept saying Jamie is ours… and that I was nothing and I needed to die so he would see that.”

 

“Who was she referring to?”

 

“Jamie, I believe she meant the character Sam plays in Outlander, Jamie Fraser”

 

“I see, and what happened next?”

 

“The dog caused a distraction and Steve managed to get the gun from her and restrain her, I fell and hit my head. I don’t remember much more.”

 

“Thank you Ms Cameron. Just a couple more then we will be done.”

 

I nodded, feeling weary .

 

“When did you learn about the fire?”

 

“The next day, when I was discharged from the hospital. I was told then.”

 

“What were you able to salvage from your home Ms Cameron?”

 

“A couple of photographs, my jewellery, my late husband’s wedding ring and a shoe box full of trinkets.”

 

“A shoebox?”

 

“Yes, that’s how I got them, in a shoebox, everything left of my life.”

 

“Thank you Ms Cameron, I have no further questions.” Helen sat and the defence barrister stood. I prayed he would say what Helen expected and he did.

 

“I have no questions for this witness Your Honour”

 

The judge turned to me and offered a small smile as he told me I could step down. I stood up, the room spun around and then blackness.

 


 

I could hear voices, they sounded panicked. I could hear Sam, he was shouting. I couldn’t open my eyes at first. I was aware of being moved, of a large hand holding mine firmly.

I think that’s Sam, it feels like Sam.

Something was put over my face and I tried to push it away, again I could hear Sam’s voice.

“It’s ok Angie, leave it there, it’s helping you.”

OK love, if you say so.

My eyes would not open I felt like every ounce of energy had gone from my body, I didn’t know where or when I was, everything was confusion in my mind and I sought out Sam’s voice as a touchstone.

 

“You’re gonna be OK Angie” he was saying, “Please be OK… I love you.” I felt him squeezing my hand and I tried to squeeze back.

 

Someone was touching my belly and again I felt myself trying to bat away whoever it was, aware of the need to protect my child. I felt a warm hand on my face and Sam’s voice was so close. “It’s OK Angie, they’re trying to help, don’t push them away. I’m here, I’ll keep you safe.”

 

Finally my eyes flickered open, Sam was the first thing I saw his face over mine, his hand on my cheek, his other holding my hand. He looked distraught but tried to smile as my eyes opened. “There you are.” he said softly “Thank God.”

 

I was still confused and disoriented and my eyes darted around me to take in my surroundings. “We’re in an Ambulance love, on the way to Hospital, you collapsed.”

 

My hand moved to my belly “Little Bean” I murmured weakly

 

“Baby has a strong heartbeat” a strange voice told me and Sam moved back and I could see the Paramedic attaching monitor leads to my belly. “We’ll know more when we get you into hospital but she’s alive and kicking.”

 

Almost as if on cue I did feel a kick within me and I breathed again looking back at Sam. “I’m sorry love.” I whispered and he kissed my cheek, I realised the thing on my face was an oxygen mask.

 

“Just be OK Angie, then you have nothing to be sorry for.” he told me squeezing my hand. “I knew you weren’t up to this, I should have stopped it.”

 

Soon we were at the hospital and Sam stood aside as doctors and nurses fussed over me and asked questions and took blood, and did tests. It was here I learned I hadn’t simply passed out, I’d had a seizure and there was a serious concern I was suffering from eclampsia. At 30 weeks it was a major concern because they really didn’t want to deliver the baby this early. I could see Sam standing quietly in the corner of the room as the doctor’s did their thing. His arms folded tightly and his focus firmly on what was happening to me. As soon as the movement around me started to settle I reached out for him and he moved to me quickly taking my hand and leaning down to kiss me.

 

“How are you feeling?” he asked, his face so serious I almost didn’t recognise him.

 

“Mostly tired love.” I answered and reached up to stroke his face. “Such a frown.” I commented and he tried to smile.

 

“You scared the life out of me.” he said and I squeezed his hand, bringing it to my lips to kiss.

 

“I’m here.” I reminded him and he smiled a little brighter then.

 

The doctor looked up from his tablet and smiled warmly at me. “OK good news is we’ve got your blood pressure down to a more acceptable level and baby does not seem to be in any distress. So for now, there’s no urgent action needed. I do think this is Eclampsia though, so we will be admitting you and keeping a very close eye on you.

 

Sam and I both nodded at him as we took in the news.

 

“Will I have to deliver early?” I asked, this was my main fear, I was 29 weeks when I lost my boy and I was terrified of losing another child due to a forced premature delivery.

 

The doctor took a breath, and looked at me sympathetically. “Most likely, if it is eclampsia, yes but we will only do it as a last resort. So let’s see if we can get you both further down the line before we start talking about that.”

 

We nodded again and squeezed each other’s hand. “For now, rest, we’ll keep a close eye on you.” he left the cubicle and Sam sighed as he sat down on the chair next to the bed.

 

“We’ve spent way too much of out time together in hospitals” he noted and I sighed with him as I agreed. He leaned forward putting his elbows on the side of the bed and holding my hand in both of his. “Angie, why didn’t you say you weren’t feeling right?”

 

Again I sighed. “I thought it was just anxiety, I’m so sorry my love.”

 

He nodded slowly and moved one hand to rest on my belly “You chill out in there Little Bean, Mummy’s going to rest and it’s not time for us to meet just yet as much I want to, we need you to be strong.” I stroked his hair and smiled.

I never thought I would feel this, after all that’s happened to me, but I’m so blessed!


After 2 weeks of being monitored practically every 30 minutes I was allowed to travel back home, my blood pressure back under control but I was ordered to bed rest. Sam had given his evidence a few days after I had and the trial was over a few days later, with both women found guilty on all charges and each sentenced to whole life imprisonment. They were sent to a high security mental hospital. Sam visited me every day, staying a few hours each time. Mostly, I slept, my body knew what it needed. Despite the seizure all tests indicated the baby was still developing well and was healthy. The doctors came to believe the seizure was a one off caused by excessive stress rather than Eclampsia, however, they had diagnosed me with Pre-eclampsia and so I had to be very careful.

 

Not unexpectedly Sam was as attentive as he could be. He had refused to go back to Scotland for work, they had tried to adjust the shooting schedule around his absence but they were at the point of discussing having to pause production. I’d made him promise if I was allowed to go home he would go back to work, he agreed only if Hayley came and stayed with us so I’d have someone at home making sure I was resting as promised. So she would be joining us in a few days.

 

Travelling back Sam held me close in the car. “I’ve been dying to cuddle you like this” he whispered on the way. He stroked my hair and kissed me. “Not the same in the hospital.”

 

I closed my eyes and leaned happily into him. “I missed this too.” I sighed. “I’m so glad to be going home.”

 

“I’m just glad you’re OK my love, both of you. If I lost one or both of you because of those women…” he took a deep breath “… I couldn’t live with that.”

 

“Well they’re safely away for the rest of their lives love, and we are safe and can get on with ours. So let’s hear no more of them.”

 

He stroked my bump and kissed my head “I won’t consider you safe until she is born and I see you holding her in your arms and smiling. Until then, protecting you both is the most important thing in the world.

If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ll really feel safe until that time either.

“At least she’ll be born in Scotland” I chuckled trying to lighten the mood. “Was a close call there… could have ended up as a Londoner of all things!”

 

Sam chuckled “Well that would have been a tragedy to us both I should think.”

 

It was true, as a very proud Scot Sam had already told me he was glad his child would be born Scottish, and I as a proud Northern English Woman would have preferred the child to be Scottish than to be a Southerner! As it was, I had already adopted Scotland as my home, I’d fell in love with it when I first visited years earlier and now my life was there.

 

Once home Sam immediately insisted I went upstairs to bed. “You were told bed rest and that is what you will do.” he instructed and picked me up making me squeal. He carried me up the stairs and into the bedroom, laying me gently on the covers.

 

“I’m going to go out of my head if this is the next 8 weeks” I sighed as I kicked off my shoes and shifted to the side of the bed to get changed. The two weeks in hospital had already tested my patience. Sam was having none of it though and stood over me his arms folded and serious expression on his face.

 

“You’ll do as the doctor said and I’m going to make sure you do.” he pulled my socks off my swollen feet as I held them up and then passed me my pyjamas. “I’ll stay up here with you as much as I can love, you won’t be alone as much as you were at hospital, and Hayley will be here in a few days, then you’ll wish you were alone.” he grinned, teasing knowing what a bossy boots Hayley could be. “… We’ll make the most of it… lots and lots of cuddles.”

 

“Hmm and not much else.” I sighed as I slipped under the sheets and Sam sat beside me tucking me in.

 

He rolled his eyes and grinned “Well that bit won’t be fun for either of us, but we can do it… for Little Bean.” he stood up and leaned down to kiss me. “Now, are you sleepy or should I bring up Tea?”

 

And so it went on for the following weeks, me in bed pretty much all day, Sam or Hayley fussing about me. Sam had worked with the studio on slightly shorter days so was still up ridiculously early but most days was usually home before 6 pm and Hayley was in her element getting to boss me around and take control of the work for the charity at the same time. Chrissie visited regularly, she had been a godsend, such a kind woman and it was clear where Sam’s values had stemmed from. I was missing not having my own mum around and Chrissie was a welcome comfort. Cait would visit too sometimes, on the way home from work with Sam, she was fun and it was nice to have someone different to talk to.

 

Work was being done in the room next to ours by contractors, putting the nursery together and a couple of times a day I’d peek in while taking a short walk around that floor of the house, I couldn’t be laid up completely after all and if I even attempted to go up or downstairs Sam or Hayley would never let me hear the end of it, so that little floor of two rooms and two bathrooms was my world.

 

Once the paintwork was complete on the nursery, the furniture started to arrive and the interior designer we had hired had sealed off the room and banned me from going in until it was finished. Sam, knowing how bad I was at having unopened presents close to me would tease that he’d changed our original plan and that it was going to be a Star Trek Theme and I’d warn him to stop messing with my blood pressure. Finally after over a week of seeing tradesman and the designer passing my room to get into the nursery, we had the unveiling.

 

We waited for Sam to come home and I waddled out of the bedroom Little Bean had become a huge Bump with just a few weeks left and moving around was much more difficult. Sam stood behind me, his hands on my shoulders as the door was opened. I stepped into a magical land. The walls were covered in the softest pink, with tiny led lights dotted all around making it look like they sparkled as they flickered on and off randomly. The furniture was all antique, as we had requested, a beautiful chest of drawers, and a small bookshelf in chestnut which had some of the various toys and gifts we’d already been sent sat on top. A Wardrobe, also in chestnut stood next to it and had been “upcycled” so the panels in the doors were replaced with a beautiful pink tartan patterned fabric. The changing table had been fashioned from an antique dressing table and again as the designer told us, with a few sympathetic modifications had the top adjusted to include the soft padding needed.

 

The crib was simple, a Victorian style rocking crib with ornate head and foot and a soft white netting which hug from an arm above. “To keep out the bloody midges” Sam had insisted during our first meeting with the designer. He had an ongoing war with those wee beasties. Within the netting was a mobile with little unicorns. Beside it was a rocking chair, like everything else, in chestnut and like everything else, despite being over 150 years old had been restored and looked brand new. The curtains were a beautiful turquoise and matched the cushion on the rocking chair and the rug on the polished wooden floor and the frames on the wall which each held classic pictures from the original Beatrix Potter books. It was perfect, simple, with little touches such as the little lights on the walls which make it magical.

 

I must have stood silently taking it all in for some time when I felt Sam’s hands travel from my shoulders down along my arms to wrap around my belly as he leaned down to whisper in my ear. “So, what do you think?”

 

I held my hands over his and beamed as a tear fell from my eye “It’s perfect. Everything I wanted, and… oh so much more.” I turned to the designer. “Thank you, thank you so much.” then turned to Sam who I knew had been making sure it was just right and wrapped my arms around his neck. “Little Bean doesn’t know how lucky she is to have you as her Daddy.” I told him and he leaned down and kissed me tenderly.

 

“I’m the lucky one.” he told me and Hayley and the designer went downstairs leaving us to kiss and cuddle and explore our child’s new room.

Chapter Text

When I was a little girl I had a doll, her name was Susie, she was a 17” hard bodied ivory shaded vinyl doll with bright blue blinking eyes and blonde curly hair. She was given to me by my uncle for my first birthday and was my constant companion through most of my childhood. She was my first baby, I had a pram for her and she came everywhere with me. Everyone would comment about how well she had been looked after, so many other dolls of girls my age would have lost limbs, or had their eyes damaged after so many years of handling by clumsy toddlers but my Susie stayed perfect.

 

I gave her to a charity auction a few years ago, it turned out she was a rare doll, a limited edition and quite collectable for those who sought out these things. Hayley and I worked with a woman who was arranging the auction to raise money for a women’s shelter. Daniel and I were about to move into our house and while packing I found Susie, still looking like new, and decided to donate her. She’d been with me for almost 40 years, I was moving on with my life and I felt it was time Susie had a new purpose. I remember shedding a tear as I handed her over, it’s funny how we grow so attached to things. I hope she has a new owner who loves her as much a I did.

 

We made it to 36 weeks before the doctors decided it was time to deliver. Still a little early but they were confident baby had developed enough and it would be safer than to continue. It had been decided a caesarean was also the safest route. It wasn’t an emergency but the doctors were becoming more concerned that the pre-eclampsia effects were increasing and they wanted to deliver while I and baby were relatively healthy. I was being prepped Sam was pacing the room nervously.

 

“I’m going in with you.” he told me his arms folded.

 

“I was counting on it.” I grinned then winced as the nurse inserted the cannula into my arm.

 

He smiled nervously and moved to the other side of the bed taking hold of my hand. “It’s going to be ok right?”

 

It was the first time he’d sought reassurance from me, always having been the strong positive one. I squeezed his hand back and smiled “It’s going to wonderful!” I told him.

 

“Right Dad, well if you’re coming you need to come with me now to get gowned up.” the nurse told Sam and his eyes widened in alarm.


“Now?” as if the realisation just hit him that he was about to be a Dad.

 

The nurse chuckled and nodded. “Yes now!”

 

Sam looked down at me, still looking alarmed and I chuckled looking up at him “Now love! Off you go, see you soon” I was terrified but letting him know that wasn’t going to make it easier for him to leave.

 

He nodded and leaned down to kiss me. “I love you.” he told me and I reached out to touch his face. “I love you too… see you soon.”. He let go of my hand and followed the nurse out..

 

I let out a long controlled breath “OK Little Bean, just you and me now… let’s not have any drama OK?” I said quietly stroking my bump.

 

We hadn’t discussed names, we’d decided it would be a conversation to have once we had her in our arms. Partly, it felt right after the distress I had felt after the loss of my boy, who we had planned a name for, and partly it was Sam’s wish, he said he didn’t think it was right to name her until we saw her face.

 

The next hour was like a dream, I was taken to the operating theatre and as the nurses prepared me Sam entered the room all gowned, gloved and masked. He held my hand and I could see from his eyes that he was smiling. I was given the spinal blocker and the surgeon started talking us through the procedure. Sam sat quietly next to me, his hands firmly holding mine his eyes fixed on mine until we finally heard the words.

 

“Here she comes.”

 

I couldn’t feel a thing, Sam looked down I tried to raise my head to see as the baby was lifted briefly into view by the surgeon, then handed to a nurse who quickly took her away to the side of the room. The surgeon was still talking but all I and Sam wanted to hear was a sound from the baby.

 

I turned my head and could see the nurse clearing the baby’s airway and quite roughly rubbing her back.

 

“Is she OK?” I asked shakily. Sam’s grip on my hand tightened.

 

It felt like an age until there was finally a weak cry, then another and then it continued loud and clear and finally I could breathe again.

 

“She’s absolutely perfect.” the nurse said from the side of the room now finishing her job of cleaning her up.

 

I cried, relief and emotion overwhelming me and as I looked at Sam I could see the tears falling from his eyes as well. “She’s OK, she’s here!” he said bringing his forehead down to touch mine. “I love you so bloody much!”

 

The surgeons were still finishing their work but all interest in what was happening there was gone, all I wanted was to finally see my daughter. We had said we wanted to skin-to-skin contact as early as possible, the nurse finally brought her over, tucked her under the drape and lay her on me. Her tiny arms moved awkwardly and her head was small enough to fit in my small hands. She stopped crying and we could hear her little breaths and I could feel her warmth against me. Her head was turned to face Sam and he was transfixed, he reached out to touch her tiny hand and she gripped his little finger.

 

“Hello my Princess” he said so softly, I could tell, he was already in love.

 

I couldn’t see much from this position but I could see her eyes were closed, there was some hair on her head which I could feel as I gently cradled her. She was so tiny and fragile I was afraid to hold her too firmly. The nurse gently reassured us we were doing fine.

 

“Ten fingers and ten toes, a fine set of lungs by the sound of it. 8lbs 5ozs. She’s beautiful.” she told us and Sam nodded and looked back up at me.

 

“She’s perfect, well done my love.”

 

I smiled up at him “You made her too remember.”

 

He smiled and lay his head on my shoulder, watching her closely, gently placing his hand on her back. “I’m going to be here for you always…” he promised “… both of you.”

 

As I was taken from the theatre she was taken from us, for a few checks and with the promise they’d have her back with us within minutes.

 

Once back in my room I was finally alone with Sam for a few minutes. He looked so emotional, it was a wonder to see on his expressive face, joy, pride, relief, and the weight of fatherhood. He sat on the edge of my bed and hugged me, his face buried in my neck.

 

“I didn’t think it was possible, to love you more, to be happier, to feel this… incredible.” he murmured into my neck “I didn’t know… I had it within me… I’m not sure I really do, I feel like I’m going to burst.”

 

I held him, my body was weary and the painkillers were wearing off. I was as overcome as he was but I couldn’t find words. I buried my face in his soft hair and found myself sobbing, the relief that she was alive, and well after the fear I had held since the day I took the pregnancy test that I would lose her, like my boy, finally found release and I sobbed hard holding Sam tight and listening to his gentle “Hush, my love. It’s OK.”

 

After a few minutes she was wheeled into the room in a bassinet with a smiling nurse pushing her. “She is a little fighter, good strong heartbeat, breathing is fine, everything looks great, we thought she might need the incubator for a week or so but she’s fine. So she can stay here with you. We’ll keep a close eye, sometimes in babies born at 36 weeks, the issues don’t show up right away.”

 

I wiped my tears and looked down at the bassinet, then up to Sam. “Your turn to hold her.” I smiled and he blinked at me and beamed taking in a deep breath.

 

The nurse picked up the swaddled bundle and walked her round to him. “Here you go Daddy.” she handed him the baby and he blinked down at her with tears in his eyes and such a look of love and pride I could never describe.

 

More tears ran down my cheek as I watched him fall in love completely with his daughter, our daughter and I beamed as he gently swayed when she made a sound, “It’s good to finally meet you Little Bean.” he said gently. “You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.” he stroked her little face with this finger and looked over at me as I watched them. He moved over the sit beside me and I could finally see her face, pink and wrinkled and absolutely perfect. As we both watched her, her eyes flickered open for just a second and we both gasped at the brightness of the blue we saw beneath those eyelids.

 

“Just like my dream.” Sam told me and I rested my head on his shoulder, completely happy.

 

 


The next few days in the hospital were filled with visits from Chrissie, Sam’s brother, Hayley who visited daily and Cait popped in on the 3rd day. In between visits we were learning to feed and bathe and dress the baby, who we still hadn’t named. I’d tried to breast feed but my milk didn’t come enough due to the early delivery and we had to move onto formula. I was disappointed, it was an experience I had looked forward to but of all the things that could go wrong, I took it and reminded myself that now there was no reason Sam couldn’t take his share of feeds.

 

I was healing well although it would be a while before I was fully mobile again. Sam was with me almost all day every day until the night shift nurses kicked him out. He would sit and watch over both me and the baby as we slept and even snuck in a feed or two while I continued to sleep. He was completely besotted and at times when I was weary and in pain and not feeling completely myself I had to admit to feeling a little jealous. It usually passed quickly when he would come and sit and cuddle me gently and remind me how much he loved me.

 

 

I just had to get use to sharing his love now, as he would to sharing mine.

After 4 days we were allowed home, I couldn’t wait, the nurses were wonderful but I wanted to start our life as a family. Hayley was still staying with us and she’d come to take all the balloons and gifts from my room into her car to take home ahead of us.

 

“Just as well this hasn’t got out to his fans yet.” she commented. “We’d need a lorry!” we chuckled and I held the baby to my shoulder to burp her. Firmly patting her back as I smiled up at Hayley “I’m so glad you’re here.” I told her. “I have a feeling I’m going to need you.”

 

As keen as I was to begin our family life, I was also nervous. Having Hayley there was a comfort, she wasn’t a mother but I at least could count on her to kick me up the backside if I wasn’t doing something right. Sam still had filming to complete, he’d managed a few days more off but would have to go back soon which he wasn’t too happy about.

 

“Well, as if I’d be anywhere else.” she told me. “Speaking of which, when you’re home, we need to talk about me moving up here.”

 

I opened my mouth in shock “What?”

 

“Well, what’s to keep me in Warrington, you’re up here, the charity is up here and that’s my full time job now. So I’m gonna start looking for a place.”

 

 

Best news ever!

“Oh my God, that’ll be amazing!” I said trying not to be too loud with the baby in my arms. I beamed at my best friend.

 

 

It would be so good to have her close again.

“What will be amazing?” Sam asked as he walked in the room with the car seat we were taking the baby home in.

 

“Hayley’s moving up here.” I blurted out excitedly and Sam smiled broadly.

 

“That’s great news!” he moved over and gave Hayley a hug “I’m really glad.”

 

She blushed and hit him playfully “Glad to get me out of your house” she teased and we chuckled. “Well I’m gonna get these things in the car and head over there. I’ll see you all at home soon then.” She picked up the final teddy bear and shuffled out of the room followed by a bunch of balloons.

 

Sam came over to us and kissed me, then the baby’s head. I was still trying to coax a burp out of her. “Are you ready to go home?” he asked me and I nodded.

 

Once finally burped, we secured her in the car seat, the nurse overseeing everything. I was given clean dressings and reminded of when the health visitor would come to see me and then I was following Sam who carried the car seat, down the hall.

 

“Slow down Daddy long legs, I’m wounded here.” I had to remind him as I struggled to walk without pain.

 

He stopped to let me catch up then put his free arm around me. “I’m sorry love, I’m just excited to get home. You set the pace.” he kissed my head and we walked together at a much more gentle pace to the car. He wanted to drive us home himself reminding me that even Prince William did that when his children were born. I loved how proud he was.

 

Car seat was fixed in and I sat in the back with her. Sam climbed into the drivers seat and I saw him smiling as he looked through the rear view mirror before starting the engine and pulling away.

 

We pulled into our driveway shortly after and I chuckled “I’ve never seen you drive so carefully.” as he opened the door to help me out of the car.

 

“Most precious cargo in the world.” he reminded me and as I stood he wrapped his arms around me and kissed me hard. “Welcome home Mummy Bear!”

 

I snuggled into him for a moment. I did feel fragile since the birth and his embrace never failed to make me feel safe and protected. He held me close, one hand on my head and the other on my back and kissed the top of my head. “You OK Angie?” he asked quietly.

 

I nodded against him “I am, I’m just enjoying the cuddle.” I told him and he stroked my hair and kissed my head again.

 

“Anytime, anywhere.”

 

I savoured the closeness for a few more seconds before lifting my head and he met me with a kiss. “I bloody love you Sam Heughan.” I told him matter of factly and to my amusement he actually blushed.

 

“Come on let’s get inside.” he changed the subject and moved around to the other side of the car and started unclipping the car seat. The baby had slept soundly all the way home, she had a full belly from her feed. She was still fast asleep and looked so peaceful as Sam carried her into the house.

 

Hayley had brought all the balloons and gifts into hallway and we were met with a wall of pink as we went through the door. “I guess the bachelor pad is well and truly gone now” he joked as he carried the car seat through into the living room.

 

“Oh my love, the next 18 years of your life will be pink…” I teased. “.. and purple, that’s my favourite.”

 

We transferred the baby from the carseat to the Moses Basket we had set up in the Living room and Hayley went to make Tea. Sam and I stood over the basket looking at the sleeping baby.

 

“She’s so beautiful.” Sam sighed.

 

I smiled and leaned into him. “I think so too, I checked while in the hospital and Gealic for Beauty is ‘Alanna’ and it also means precious in old German and child in Irish Gaelic, what do you think? I think it suits her?

 

Sam tilted his head as he looked at her, trying out the name “Alanna”, he said softly, her little eyes opened and she wriggled and waved her arms. We both smiled and nodded, she’d answered to her name.

 

“It’s perfect” he told me. “Alanna Heughan, welcome home.”