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Renewal

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Jenny and Ian stayed long enough to help me clean up the courtyard, which was in quite a state from the evening’s festivities. We didn’t talk much, just gathered the rubbish, folded all the tables, and pulled down the lights while Young Jamie and Maggie played in the empty pigpen and Kitty napped in her pram.

Rupert and Angus came by in the early afternoon as we were finishing up, and loaded the stage, dancefloor, and tables into Rupert’s truck to return to the rental center.

“Have either o’ ye seen Jamie today?” Jenny asked as they strapped down the stacked tables with a winch.

“No, I’ve no’ seen the lad since last night,” Angus replied, glancing at me uncertainly.

“He went out after breakfast,” I said, keeping my voice even through sheer force of will. “Maybe he went into town for something.”

Rupert looked thoughtful, but didn’t chime in. Jenny’s mouth was a straight line across her face, lips pressed together tightly.

As Angus and Rupert drove away, truck full to bursting, Ian went to pack the children’s things. Jenny, however, lingered in the courtyard as I brought the last of the garbage bags to the bins.

“Can I talk to ye a minute?” Jenny finally said when I came back to the house.

I had some idea of where this was going, and though I really wasn’t in the mood for that particular discussion, I could see no polite way out. So I just sat on the front steps with a sigh, waving for Jenny to join me.

“I can’t say I’m surprised,” she said bluntly. I had to smile a bit at that—so much for keeping it to ourselves. “I saw how he looked at ye from the first.”

We were silent for a moment. I knew I should respond in some way, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

“I think it’s a good thing, Claire. No’ that ye asked.”

“But?” I prompted, unable to hide my glum mood.

Her mouth twitched in exactly the same manner Jamie’s did when he was trying to hide a smile, and my heart clenched. They really were so alike.

“But nothing,” she said. “I just want ye to know. I ken he seems invincible sometimes, but he’s no’.” I smiled crookedly, remembering the day not so long ago when he’d fallen apart in my arms, not fifty feet from where we sat. “I can see that he’s scairt. He feels the weight o’ it all so strongly. I think ye help him bear it, and I’m grateful to ye.”

She put a motherly hand on mine, and I felt my throat close up. “Oh, Jenny, he seemed so angry,” I whispered, the tears rising.

Jenny sighed. “Aye, he was,” she admitted. “But ye ken he burns hot and fast. He’ll no’ be so fratchety tomorrow, ye’ll see. And it was my idea, no’ yers.” She gave my fingers a final squeeze then released her grip.

Ian and the children appeared in the doorway of the cottage then, laden with bags. We packed their things into the station wagon and buckled Young Jamie, Maggie, and Kitty into their car seats. I embraced Ian and Jenny in turn before they each got into their cars and left me with my thoughts.

 


 

It was something of a relief to be alone after the last two weeks. I felt like I hadn’t had a chance to relax since...well, since Jenny’s last visit, I supposed. It had been a whirlwind, first with trying to figure out the investment, and then frantically putting together the party plans and finishing the cottage. I was exhausted, and that only served to heighten my fragile emotional state.

I did, however, find myself aching for Jamie’s comforting presence in his leather wingback as I sunk into my armchair with a cup of tea and a book. I had picked at some of the leftovers Mrs. Fitz and her minions had carefully stored, but found I didn’t have much appetite. So I decided to return to our old after-dinner habit of reading in front of the fireplace.

Even without the fire’s cheerful crackle, the familiarity of my chair and Adso’s contented thrum against my stomach was soothing. It wasn’t quite the same, though, without Jamie.

I tried to concentrate on the story, but found myself simply staring at a single paragraph, my mind wandering. I just kept replaying the feel of Jamie’s lips on mine, the desperate way he’d pushed me up against the wall on the stairs, the evidence of his desire burning against my thigh through our clothes…

I shivered at the memory. His insistence on chivalry had been absolutely maddening, though I was grudgingly touched. I had been a bit far past tipsy, emboldened by the alcohol I’d consumed. Though I knew I would have by no means regretted it if we had gone beyond kissing, Jamie’s respectful nature was one of the first things that drew me to him, and I could hardly fault the man for it now that it was inconvenient for me.

A niggling worry shifted to the surface of my mind. Would I get the chance to be with him in the way I so craved, after this morning? Or was our erstwhile romance doomed already?

I forced the panic down in my mind. No, he wouldn’t do that. Not after what he’d said in the wee hours, when I was curled against his chest.

He was drinking too, a cruel voice reminded me. Who knows if he meant it.

The late night and frantic day caught up with me as I ruminated, and I fell into an uneasy sleep.

 


 

A warm hand on my shoulder woke me, and I started.

“It’s just me,” Jamie said quietly.

He was sitting on the ottoman before me, looking tired. It was dark outside; I’d been asleep for at least an hour, I guessed.

“Where have you been?” I asked, wincing internally at how desperate my voice sounded.

“Went for a walk,” he responded, but offered no further details. He watched me sit up and run my fingers through my hair, expression inscrutable.

“Are you still angry?” I asked tentatively.

“Oh, I’m furious,” Jamie said calmly. “But I ken ye meant well, misguided as ye may ha’ been. And this crackit plan has Jenny’s fingerprints all over it.”

I flushed, shrinking in the chair.

“I talked to John,” he said after a moment.

“Did you ask him to pull the story?” It would have broken my heart—a cover story would practically guarantee a full year of bookings.

“No. But I did tell him to leave the money out of it, and the part about Dougal.”

I let out a breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding, relieved. I fidgeted, not sure what to say next.

“Claire...why did ye do it?” he asked, and the hurt in his voice gutted me.

“Oh Jamie,” I breathed, leaning forward to put my hand on his leg. I needed some connection with him, some bridge to help me get everything across. “I just wanted to find some way to make sure we got the bookings we need. And Jenny had this idea, and it seemed so perfect, if we could just show John how amazing Lallybroch is—”

“But why no’ just tell me?” He looked into my eyes then, and I saw the betrayal there.

“Well...I…” I searched for some good explanation, and found none—so I settled on the truth. “We knew you wouldn’t like it,” I said, looking away. “We didn’t think just the renovation would be enough to get John to publish a story, but with how interested he is in the culture and so on, we thought we could show him how important Lallybroch is to the community. How important you are. But we didn’t think you’d go along with it. So we tricked you into it instead.”

“He said he didna ken ye were keeping it a secret from me,” he said.

I nodded. “Well, he is a journalist,” I said. “If he thought you weren’t willing, he would have dropped the story right away.”

Jamie closed his eyes, jaw set firmly. I slid off the chair and kneeled on the carpet before him, a supplicant seeking forgiveness.

“I am so sorry, Jamie,” I said, reaching for his hand. “I didn’t think that you might have things you would want to keep private, and I should have.”

He sighed, and threaded his fingers with mine. “I understand yer reasoning,” he said. “And though I dinna like yer methods one bit—” he smiled crookedly “—I do think yer right, that a little press could be good for Lallybroch.”

I could tell we hadn’t settled things altogether, but Jamie was offering me a way to move forward. He pulled me up by my hand and settled me in his lap, wrapping his arms around my waist and pressing his lips into the crook of my neck.

“I canna stay mad at ye long, Sassenach,” he murmured against my skin, sending goosebumps skittering down my throat and chest. “Least of all wi’ ye on yer knees before me.”

I felt my stomach flip at the low rumble of his voice, keenly aware of all the points at which our bodies were connected.

“Will ye stay wi’ me again tonight?” he asked, and the tender note of uncertainty cut through me like a blade.

“Yes,” I said simply, and turned my head to capture his lips in a kiss.

 


 

I went first to my room to change while Jamie brushed his teeth. I dithered at my dresser, finding none of my pajama options right for the occasion. A sudden burst of inspiration, however, reminded me of the look in Jamie’s eyes when he saw me in his threadbare t-shirt the night before. I undressed quickly and pulled it on, inhaling as I pulled it over my head. It smelled of clean laundry, overlaid with the faint pine-and-musk scent of him, and it sent an electric current straight through my center.

Feeling delightfully wicked, I opted for only a black lace pair of knickers on bottom. The shirt was big enough that it wouldn’t be immediately obvious, and I was looking forward to Jamie’s reaction when he realized.

The bathroom door was open when I entered his room, and Jamie stood at the sink. He saw me in the mirror and smiled as best he could with a mouth full of toothpaste. I sidled up to him and held up my toothbrush. With a snort at my feigned helplessness, he squeezed out some from the tube for me, then spat rather delicately into the sink and rinsed his own brush.

“I’ll get out of yer way, Sassenach,” he said, pressing a kiss into my hair as he slipped past me. I just smiled and started brushing. As he stepped through the doorway, I leaned over the sink, arching my back to make the hem of the shirt rise and reveal just what I was—or rather, wasn’t—wearing underneath.

I heard his intake of breath behind me and glanced over my shoulder. He was watching me with that now-familiar intensity that made my knees weak. I raised an eyebrow at him, and he gave a breathless chuckle.

“Only you could make somethin’ so mundane look so alluring, mo ghraidh,” he said. “I’ve half a mind to have ye right there. But standin’ over a sink isna conducive to the sort of things I’d like to do to ye.”

I felt a flush spread over my throat and chest, and suddenly I was much more motivated to finish my nightly routine.

When I emerged, Jamie had turned on the lamp on his nightstand again, and he was sitting up in bed, shirtless but wearing sweatpants.

“Would ye get the light?” he asked. I obliged, flicking off the overhead light before accepting his outstretched hand to allow myself to be pulled into bed with him. He slid down the pillows a bit and pulled me tight against him, so we were chest-to-chest.

“It’s a dream to have ye here, like this,” he said, tilting my chin up with a gentle forefinger. “I’ve wanted ye for so long.” My blood fizzed under my skin as he kissed me, and I allowed myself the great pleasure of touching his bare chest. His skin was gold silk over steel, and I mapped its undulations where the muscles rippled. My hands roamed down, and soon I was dipping a curious finger under the waistband of his pants, tracing his hip bones.

Jamie groaned into my mouth, and the urgency of his kiss grew—as did the hardness pressed against my hip. I wrapped one leg around him, positioning the length of him against my core. I pulled him tight against me and moaned at the sudden rush of pleasure, rocking against him. He, too, chased the friction, and moved his hips with mine in a dizzying simulation of the true joining I ached for.

He wrenched his mouth from mine, panting. “My God,” he whispered. “Ye’ll finish me before we’ve started.”

I laughed, but forced my leg to release him from my grasp. I looked him over, smiling at the sight of his puffed lips, mussed hair, and flushed chest. He looked thoroughly disreputable, and it was wreaking havoc on me.

“Aren’t you...a bit hot?” I asked suggestively, letting my fingers return to his waistband.

“Och, trying to get me naked, are ye?” he teased, an underlying timbre to his voice that sent heat pooling between my legs.

“Yes, I am,” I replied boldly.

He tipped my chin up, and I breathed in sharply when I met his dark eyes, pupils so wide that they nearly engulfed his ocean blue irises. “I never could say no to ye,” he murmured, and then kissed me briefly.

Jamie rolled onto his back and lifted his hips to give himself room to pull his pants off. I rolled onto my stomach, resting my chin on my hand as I watched him.

He wore the flimsiest of navy boxer briefs that did very little to contain his straining length. The sight of him was gasoline on a fire, and I burned. 

“I told ye I wanted ye,” he said wryly. I could hear a hint of embarrassment in his voice, and I met his eyes with no attempt to hide my longing. His breath quickened, and I smiled.

“Weel,” he said, eyeing my covered torso, “fair’s fair.”

I quirked an eyebrow at him, and sat up. I hadn’t bothered to wear a bra, and I felt the tingle of anticipation at being all but naked before him. I took my hem in my fingers and slowly started to raise it, watching his face intently. His eyes were locked on my skin, following the edge of the fabric as I revealed myself to him.

He reached out a slightly shaky hand as I finally pulled the shirt over my head, fingers outstretched—but instead of touching my breasts as I expected, he drew a finger delicately along the line of my clavicle.

“Ye have such fine skin, Sassenach,” he breathed. “Like a string o’ pearls in candlelight.”

I trembled under his touch, and he smiled.

“Lay back,” Jamie murmured. “I want to look at ye.”

I was certain my knickers were soaked through already, and he’d barely even touched me below the neck yet. I did as he commanded, though, and he shifted to lean over me, eyes hooded as he let them roam over the unexplored landscape of my body. 

He touched my hip lightly, running his fingers over the lace of my underwear, and then down my thigh, making me gasp. I felt goosebumps rising under his hand. 

“Are ye cold?” he asked softly, watching my skin shiver at his touch.

“No.”

“Good.”

He bent down and brushed his lips lightly over my hip bone, just above my waistband. I inhaled sharply, and he smiled. He trailed his lips across the bowl of my pelvis, to the opposite hip, where he grazed the crest with his teeth.

“Jamie,” I murmured, touching his hair. He looked up at me reverently, accepting my hand like a benediction.

Mo nighean donn,” he breathed across my stomach.

“What does that mean?” I had to tense my legs to keep from shaking in anticipation.

“My brown-haired lass,” he replied, running his fingers back up my thigh, and sliding one into the leg opening of my knickers. He was teasing me now, gliding the rough pad of his fingertip back and forth along the top of my thigh, so agonizingly close. “I’ve thought of callin’ ye that since the first day I met you, with yer curls so wild. Like water in a burn, all different shades of brown and auburn, with bits o’ silver where the light hits it. I imagined touching it every day.” His gentle smile turned wicked as he stared me down. “And I’ll admit, I’ve pictured touching the hair between yer legs as often as the hair on yer head.”

I had to close my eyes for a second.

Jamie’s finger pushed my underwear just a little further to the side, and he brushed the very edge of me. I shuddered.

“Tell me.” His voice was hoarse, and when I opened my eyes he was watching me with an intensity that left no room for me to hide.

“Jamie, I want you,” was all I could manage.

He moved further, dipping into the folds. I whimpered. “God, Claire, yer so wet,” he groaned.

I flushed as my hips wriggled involuntarily. With his free hand, he gently took hold of the back of my knee, pulling it up to expose me. I let my leg fall to the side, and he moved his mouth further down to press a kiss along the lace at the crease where my leg met my groin.

I was dizzy, almost enough to ignore my alarm at what he was clearly planning to do. “Jamie, you don’t have to—”

He jerked his head up, eyes fierce. “Have to?” he repeated, incredulous. “Claire, if only you knew how often I’ve dreamt of it.” His tongue flicked out to touch the spot where he’d just kissed me.

“Jesus Christ,” I choked.

“Do ye want me to?” he asked, dragging his finger up and down in teasing passes through my slickness.

I swallowed hard.

“You have to say it, if ye do.”

“Y-yes, I want it,” I stuttered. “But Jamie, I’ve never—”

He made a gentle shushing noise as he pulled away from my hips. “Just tell me if ye want me to stop,” he said.

He hooked his thumbs under the waistband of my knickers and gently pulled them down over my legs. I pressed my thighs together automatically—I felt suddenly shy, with nothing to hide behind. He could see it, and he kissed my knee as chastely as possible, under the circumstances.

“That’s all right,” he soothed. “I’ll go slow.”

And, bless him, he did. He kept a low stream of Gaelic adorations on his lips, gentling me like a startled animal, punctuated by kisses along the length of my leg. He slid his hands between my thighs, petting and stroking until I was spread wantonly before him again, but this time, utterly bare to his gaze.

“You’re so beautiful,” he said, in awe, and I believed him.

His fingers grew bolder, testing, observing my reactions. I could feel his breath on my opening as he watched me hungrily. He teased me until I begged him, a steady prayer of “Please, Jamie.”

Only then did he bring his lips to my core. I keened, far beyond shame now, and the sound only encouraged him. His tongue twisted over my slit, but he danced around the nub, just barely grazing it. I swore violently and felt him laugh against me, which brought its own wave of pleasure. The sight of his cinnamon hair between my legs was so deeply erotic that I couldn’t look away. 

Finally, he turned his full attention to where I needed it most, pressing his tongue firmly against my clit and then swirling in a circle. I moaned, my body arching up. He lifted one of my legs over his shoulder so he could hold me still with one hand. And the other…

His finger slipped inside of me and crooked forward, hitting me deliciously deep.

“Jamie,” I cried out.

He pulled his mouth away for just a second, finger still moving in me. “Tell me how it feels, mo chridhe,” he murmured, and then he was lapping me with renewed vigor.

How I felt was close to fainting—but I was nowhere capable of verbalizing that. He brought me higher and higher, until I could feel the stomach-churning drop coming. “I’m so close,” I whispered, barely able to breathe.

Jamie never altered his pace. The roar in my ears was deafening. And suddenly, white light exploded across my vision, and I shattered.

 


 

When I came back to myself, Jamie lay beside me, gently stroking my hair. I could tell he was speaking, but I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying over the ringing in my ears.

“What?” I asked stupidly. My head felt fuzzy, and my mouth seemed slow to follow instructions.

He laughed. “I said, that was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

In the past, I had always felt oddly shameful after my first orgasm in front of a new man. But with Jamie, I just felt peaceful. I smiled lazily and stretched, enjoying the heady glow. He leaned in to kiss my sweaty temple, and I rolled over his outstretched arm to rest my head on his shoulder.

“There’s a good lass,” he said softly.

I sunk back into the darkness, safe and warm.

 


 

I woke up some hours later in the dark, the light off. Jamie must have tucked me in, because I was securely wrapped in the covers and my knickers were back on. He himself was mostly outside the blanket, laying on his stomach with his face turned towards me and one arm around my waist.

Heat radiated off him, and I was too warm. I pulled the blankets down, trying not to wake him. I wanted a moment to watch him, to take it all in. He was beautifully made, with his ruddy fair skin and a carved-from-marble face. Sleep softened his fierce features, and I was grateful for the chance to see him this way.

The moonlight coming through the window illuminated his body. He was still in his boxer briefs, and I let my gaze linger on the strong curve of his glutes. My eyes wandered up to his broad, muscular back. I had caught glimpses of the scars before, but viewed in full they were certainly shocking—and yet, they had their own kind of beauty, I thought. I turned onto my side under his arm, and reached out to touch them. They criss-crossed the planes of his shoulders down to his waistband, a map of the pain he’d suffered. I ran my fingers over one of the ropes of scar tissue, and he shuddered under my touch.

“’S horrible, I ken,” he mumbled, voice still thick with sleep.

“Actually,” I replied softly, continuing my explorations, “I was thinking you looked rather lovely, glowing like that in the moonlight.”

He didn’t respond to that, just lay still, allowing me to touch each scar.

“It must have been painful,” I said after some time.

“Mmphm.”

His eyes were closed, but I knew he was still awake.

“You don’t mind that I’m looking?” I asked.

He opened his slanted eyes. They looked black in the darkness, but I could make out his smile.

“No, Sassenach, I don’t. Ye’ve a way of letting me know ye feel sorry for it, without makin’ me feel pitiful about it.”

He kissed me gently, then rolled onto his side, pulling me with him. I loved how well we fit, my head under his chin, our chests moulded together. And further below…

The feeling of him against my pelvis, hard and hot, made my stomach clench. I felt a flush spread across my chest and down, til it pooled between my legs.

“Jamie,” I began, pressing my thigh carefully against him, “I fear I may have left you a bit...unsatisfied, earlier.”

Jamie chuckled, and I could feel the rumbling in his chest against mine. “If that’s what ye consider unsatisfied, I dinna ken if I’ll survive satisfaction,” he teased, fingers idly stroking my shoulder.

I pushed him onto his back and kissed his collarbone, letting my hand drift down to the front of his briefs. “Shall we test that hypothesis?” My voice was husky, and I could feel his cock twitch in response.

“Just tell them all I died a happy man,” he answered solemnly. I laughed, and started my journey down.

 


 

“Jesus God,” Jamie groaned some time later, pulling me back against his chest. “I was right, ye’ve killed me.”

I giggled and took him gently in my hand again, enjoying the feel of him softening.

“Truly, Sassenach, I canna take any more,” he said. “My heart will burst.”

“I’m not doing anything,” I promised, “just admiring my handiwork.”

Still, I pulled my hand away, moving it to a safer location on the concave of his stomach, and we lay quietly together for a moment.

“I canna believe no one’s ever gone down on ye before,” Jamie said suddenly.

I froze, not sure how to answer. I heard the underlying accusation, and so did he. I can’t believe he never went down on you.

“I’m sorry, mo ghraidh, I didna mean…” he backpedaled.

“That’s all right.” I twirled a bit of his chest hair around my finger idly, embarrassed.

“It’s only, I meant what I said,” he continued apologetically. “That I dreamt about it. More than once.” I could see the blush spreading down his throat. “I dreamt of all of it, really, but that part in particular. I guess what I’m tryin’ to say is thank you.”

That surprised me, and I looked up at him. “Thank you?” I repeated, incredulous.

“Aye. It just...it means a lot to me, ye ken, that ye trust me that way.”

I had nothing to say to that. I just took his hand and squeezed it, and curled myself tighter around his naked body.

 


 

We woke late the next morning, the sun streaming in cheerily. Jamie was watching me when I opened my eyes, smiling contentedly, and I felt myself glow under his gaze.

“Good morning,” I said sleepily. I stretched theatrically with a bit of an eye for my audience, purposefully letting the sheet fall off my chest.

Jamie fell for my little display hook, line, and sinker—he licked his lips and reached out to gently draw a finger along the line of one breast. I shivered, and he leaned down to kiss me.

“Mornin’,” he replied huskily, and pulled me in close.

“Nice to wake up with nobody hammering on the door,” I said, and he hummed in agreement, running his hand idly over my bare legs and up to my hip, then back down again, as though he were memorizing the lines.

We reveled in the lazy touches for some time, both content to bask in the pleasant ache of our lust, so recently sated and yet already building again.

There was something, though, that I thought might need to be addressed before we went any further.

“What’s on yer mind, Sassenach?” Jamie asked lazily, and I looked at him in surprise.

“How do you always know?” I demanded, slightly cross. He laughed and patted my rump affectionately.

“I could hear the wheels turnin' from here.”

I snorted. “Well. I’m wondering...if you wanted to talk about...protection and so forth. Before...”

His lips quirked up in a crooked smile. “Aye?”

You’re being ridiculous, Beauchamp, I admonished myself. The man has been tongue-deep in you, you can talk to him about it like an adult.

“Well. I assume that’s why we didn’t...last night. And we probably should have talked about it before all of that, but here we are.” I swallowed hard. “So I thought I’d tell you that I was tested fairly comprehensively after Frank’s accident, since he’d been...well. And I got an IUD, since I wasn’t...trying anymore.”

So much for not making it awkward. I still wasn’t fully comfortable bringing up Frank in front of Jamie, and talking about our sex life and attempts to get pregnant was about as difficult a subject as I could imagine.

He was quiet for a second, his hand still exploring the length of my thigh.

“Have ye really no’ been with anyone since him?”

The question caught me off guard. “And just how would I have managed that?” I asked tartly. “Popped down to the pub, tapped a bloke on the shoulder, and said ‘Hi, I’m Claire, my husband tried to kill himself and now he’s in a coma. Fancy a shag?’”

I caught the corner of his mouth twitching, and I glared up at him.

“Jamie Fraser, don’t you dare.”

“I’m sorry, Sassenach—I’m no’—I’m no’ laughin…”

His shoulders were shaking, though, and I felt myself starting to smile back.

“It’s not funny,” I said desperately, as the giggles began to bubble up in earnest.

“It’s no', it's just...the way ye said it!” Jamie was well and truly cracking up now, and I was laughing too, despite myself.

When he could breathe again, he grasped my hand tightly and kissed it. “Apologies, Claire,” he said, still grinning. “I didna mean to make light of it.”

“You bloody oaf,” I chided, but I was smiling too.

“And...I’ll confess I’ve no’ been with anyone in a while either,” he said shyly. He rolled his shoulders, touched his neck as though tugging the collar of a shirt—a nervous habit. “No’ since...before, in Paris.”

I laid a sympathetic hand on his arm. “Yes, I imagine falling off a balcony will do that.”

Jamie ducked his head. “I had...some trouble at first. For the first few months, I didna have as much feeling in my legs and...well.” He motioned to his lap awkwardly. “I was worried I might no’ get it back. I called Ian cryin’ the first time I managed to—” 

“Have a wank?”

Jamie laughed despite the reddening of his ears. “Aye, exactly,” he said.

“So we’re in a similar boat, then.” I squeezed his arm, and he put his hand over mine. Our eyes met, and he hesitated.

“Claire, there’s somethin’ else.”

He dithered, and I waited patiently.

“I—och, dinna laugh, all right?”

I mimed zipping my lips, watching him intently.

“I’m still a virgin.”

I did my best to hide my considerable shock. But I couldn’t keep myself from blinking rapidly, my lips pressing together as I replayed the last eight or so hours in my mind.

“Does that bother ye?”

“Not at all,” I replied immediately, my voice firm. “But I do have to wonder how last night fits in with that classification?”

“Well I've done that," Jamie said defensively. "I’m no’ sayin’ I never got off with a lass before. I’m no’ a monk. But I was still quite young when I was in France, ye ken, and I just havena...”

I smiled lopsidedly. “I take your meaning,” I said soothingly. “And you don’t have to explain yourself. We’ll just take it slow. I don’t mind.”

He looked me up and down, and I felt myself melt. “I’m no’ so sure I want to take it slow,” he rumbled, lifting a hand to palm my breast. I gasped as he ran a rough thumb over my nipple, making it pucker.

With impeccable timing, my stomach gave a loud, low grumble, and Jamie chuckled. “Saved by the bell,” he joked, and gave my nipple one last, lingering tweak. “Come on, Sassenach. We’ll get ye fed. Plenty of time to handle my appetite later, I suppose.”