“Ye’re sure about the second one?” Jamie asked for the fourth time as he walked me to work Monday morning. “Could ye tell it was a Scot’s book the way he was reading it?”
“Considering how your story is explicitly set in Scotland? Yes, I could tell.”
“He wasna too…French?”
“It’s a French translation, darling. It’s bound to be a little French.” The scowl on his face was both petulant and endearing.
We’d spent the better part of Sunday lying in bed together, making love and listening to clips of potential narrators for Jamie’s next audiobook.
“If you’re so worried about it, why don’t you record the translation yourself? Your French is impeccable. Far better than mine.”
“Mmphm.” He waved the idea off without taking a moment to consider it. “I have other priorities at present. Come here, Sassenach. Ye’re dripping.”
He pulled me out of the flow of foot traffic on the sidewalk and grabbed the warm chocolate croissant from my hand. He bit the end off to prevent a drop from falling.
“Hey! That’s mine!” I snatched it back.
“It’s delicious.” He grinned, licking the chocolate mess off his lips.
“I know it’s delicious. That’s why I chose it. You should have thought of that when you ordered whatever that protein nonsense is.” I gestured to the shake in his hand.
“Ye’ve chocolate just here,” he ignored me, finger grazing the corner of my mouth, eyes hungry. I could foresee exactly what he was intending to do when he licked his lips and gave a cheeky smirk, so I lifted my chin to make it easy for him.
He closed his mouth over mine, chocolate completely forgotten. I melted into him, and he lapped me up like I was the sweet treat.
After an entire weekend of touching him however and whenever I wanted, my brain found it difficult to recall what constituted appropriate behavior in public, particularly when we were on a crowded street only a block away from my place of employment. My body, however, was in no mood to pay any mind to the trivialities of decorum while it was in Jamie’s arms.
He pulled back to rest his forehead on mine, his lips a gentle breath away from another kiss. “Oh, Claire,” he rumbled, and a warmth washed over me from head to toe. “Leaving ye that flower was the best decision I’ve e’er made.”
I knew he was referring to the blue salvia—the first flower. The one that captured my attention from the moment I saw it.
“I’m so glad you did.”
“Ye must’ve thought me mad.”
“Enchanted.” he said with a smile.
Momentarily overcome, he kissed me breathless, making my knees terribly weak. I was held up only by an arm around my waist and the magnetic pull between our lips.
“Oh, my wee fern flower,” he said, hand moving up to cup my cheek, “I’ll be taking ye to Scotland one day soon to search for one of yer enchanted flowers. I ken just the place. There’s a pretty little wood near my family’s home that’s sure to have one growing deep within.”
“Did you just invite me to go home to Scotland with you?”
“Aye, though I may wait a bit to take ye, so I ken my family willna scare ye off.”
I stared up at him dreamily and shook my head. “Unless your mother is Norma Bates, I don’t think you have much to worry about.”
Jamie snorted at the absurdity. “She’ll love ye, Sassenach. And so will Da. Now, come, or ye’ll be late.”
I grumbled petulantly, wishing I could skip work and take Jamie back home to bed. If it wasn’t for Joe, I would’ve conveniently fallen ill with some sort of twenty-four-hour flu to keep our bodies horizontal, but Geordie wouldn’t be back for at least another week, and I felt guilty leaving my friend to run the place alone.
Jamie took my hand, tangling our fingers together, and set us off toward the library. I leaned against him as we walked, gripping his bicep with my free hand. The distance was far too short for my taste, bringing with it the end of our first official weekend together.
Jamie stopped and turned to me before we reached the front doors. “Ye’re no’ sick of my company yet, are ye, Sassenach?”
“Yes. You’re dreadfully dull and miserable in bed.”
“Ye wound me, lass.” He smirked with the confidence of a man who had me screaming his name in the shower only an hour before. “And to think I was going to invite ye to sup wi’ me tonight.”
“I suppose I can endure your company for one more evening for the sake of good food. What will we be eating?”
The way he eyed me hungrily and licked his lips left no room for doubt that he intended me to be the main course at dinner. “Dining in, I see?”
My knees physically shook at the thought of his scruff on my thighs. As if reading my mind, he bent down to my ear, his beard scraping roughly against my cheek, and whispered, “I thought last Friday was the longest day of my life, waiting to take you out on our date, but now that I’ve had ye, I think today might be worse. I’m craving ye badly, Sassenach, and it’s only been an hour since I had ye last.”
His words were followed by a light, delicate kiss that curled my toes and made me whimper.
When he left me at the door, I knew with certainty that he was right; this was going to be the longest bloody day of my entire life.
I did my best to pretend as though my weekend was unremarkable when I came in and sat down at my desk. As kind and attentive as Joe was, he was still a man and, thankfully, not obsessively curious about my love life the way Marsali had been all weekend. She had blown up my phone with message after message, demanding details of everything that had happened, and even feigned a tantrum when I didn’t offer up enough information.
In truth, I hardly knew what to tell her or anyone else, for that matter. I was able to share that Jamie and I had a lovely, romantic weekend together, but how was I supposed to say that my life had been inexorably changed by this man in such a short period of time? My divorce with Frank wasn’t even close to being final, and I was already head over heels in love with someone else. If anyone knew, they’d have to think me completely mad.
Yet my life was changed. I was foolishly, stupidly happy. Even the tediousness of responding to unnecessary emails couldn’t dampen my spirits. Nor could Duncan Innes’s incompetence in cleaning the ladies’ room the night before, leaving me to glove up and pull a used sanitary pad out of a clogged toilet.
I noticed very quickly I had become accustomed to having Jamie physically near me, conversing at my every whim. Anytime I had a half-interesting thought pop into my head, I would turn to look for him so I could share it and hear his thoughts on the matter. I had to force myself not to message him each and every time he entered my mind, lest he think I was ridiculous and clingy.
Blessedly, I was able to hold myself together long enough so that he was the first one to message me rather than the other way around. I audibly squeaked when his message came in and it was a poem.
I was no longer able to contain myself when the messages were followed shortly by the delivery of a single zinnia—the flower to symbolize absence. It was perfect and beautiful and made my heart flutter madly.
Before the young man who delivered the flower exited the library, I stopped him and brought him back into the privacy of my office.
“The man who sent me this flower…” I said. “I’d like to give him something in return. Do you think it’s possible to have it delivered today?”
“A delivery won’t be necessary, ma’am.” He laughed pleasantly. “Mr. Fraser said he’s coming down to the shop in an hour or so to pick up more flowers.”
“Is he really?”
“Yep. I can give him whatever you like when he arrives.”
Curiosity got the better of me. “Do you know what kind of flowers he ordered?”
The young man just smiled and remained tight-lipped.
Fine, I thought. It was worth a shot.
I pulled more than enough money from my wallet and handed it over. “Do you know if the shop carries any aster? Or forget-me-nots?”
“I don’t think we have either in stock right now, but I can run to the nursery on my way back, if you’d like.”
“That would be completely out of your way.”
“Not at all. Not for Mr. Fraser, ma’am.”
“Oh? Fond of Jamie, are you?”
The young man blushed to the tips of his ears. “He helped me with something…personal.”
By the magnitude of the young man’s embarrassment, I assumed Jamie’s assistance had something to do with the gentleman's own love life. Perhaps Jamie suggested a few flowers and poems for a special someone for him too.
“If you’re sure it’s not too much trouble?”
“It’s no trouble at all.”
I gave him a little extra for his effort and enthusiasm and sent him off with a quickly scribbled note and a hope that Jamie would like the flowers.
Aster - for patience.
Forget-me-nots - for ailing memory.
“You’re glowing, Lady Jane.”
“That’s just perspiration, Joe. It’s warm in here.”
Joe chuckled knowingly as he stacked a pile of books on the return cart. He was wearing long sleeves and didn’t appear to be having any difficulty with the heat.
I supposed even the most oblivious of men would notice a flower delivery, and Joe was far from oblivious. Even if he missed that, he was sure to see me checking my phone repeatedly, waiting to see when Jamie received my flowers.
“How was our poet this weekend?” he asked.
“He was quite wonderful, if you must know.”
“Did he recite you any pretty verses?”
I immediately thought of Gwerful Mechain and Walt Whitman, of Hart Crane and Claude McKay, Wendy Lee and Lucille Clifton, and John Gondolf and Marcus Valerius Martialis. I blushed so badly that I actually did begin to perspire from excessive warmth. The sheer number of beautiful, filthy, sexy words that were whispered in my ears while making love was overwhelming to think of all at once…in public…at work…in front of Joe.
Another round of smug laughter filled the quiet building.
“Oh, hush.” I smacked his arm, unaccountably shy.
“Well,” he spoke through contented chuckles, “I’m glad you had a nice time…and I’m sure he did too.”
Thoroughly embarrassed, I took the last few books and stacked them on the cart before pushing it hurriedly away.
“You sure you don’t want help with that?” he called.
If we weren’t at the library, I would’ve opted for a more vulgar gesture than the abrupt wave I settled for, but as it was, I got my point across well enough—as evidenced by even more laughter.
Seeking a moment to myself, I pushed the cart toward the Romance section first. It was near the back of the building and the aisle was empty. I took my time replacing the books on the shelves, so I could avoid any more of Joe’s teasing. My lunch break was coming shortly, and I intended to make myself scarce until then.
It wasn’t so much that I was ashamed of what Jamie and I had done all weekend; it was more that I couldn’t have a thought about making love to Jamie without visibly melting into a giant puddle of goo, and I preferred to do my melting with Jamie in private whenever possible.
I pulled my phone out of my pocket to check Jamie’s messages once again, hoping for a response to my flowers.
Unfortunately, there was nothing there as of yet.
I sighed quite dramatically for a woman who had nothing to complain about in regards to lack of attention from her lover. It was only that I was beginning to miss him something fierce, and with a near two-hour lull in messages, I was beginning to feel irrationally neglected. I knew he had a meeting with Fergus in the morning, and then he had time set aside for writing a bit later. He couldn’t possibly get any work done if his whole life suddenly shifted to revolving entirely around me…much the way mine had with him.
I tried not to feel sad or disappointed as I reread the poem he’d sent me earlier that morning. I’d recognized it immediately as one of Pablo Neruda’s. The poet was quickly becoming one of my favorites, and I knew how much Jamie liked him, as well.
“Because of you, in gardens of blossoming
Flowers I ache from the perfumes of spring.
I have forgotten your face, I no longer
Remember your hands; how did your lips
Feel on mine?”
I repeated those last few lines over in my head and began foolishly, irrationally questioning if Jamie might well forget me by the end of this stupid, endlessly long day of existence. For God’s Sake, it wasn’t even noon, yet it felt like a week since I’d last seen him.
Just as I was beginning to worry that I might tear up with the despair of having to wait an entire half a day longer to see him again, a pair of large, familiar hands snaked around my waist from behind. One of those hands was holding a delicate, pink anemone.
I leaned back, knowing Jamie’s broad, warm chest would be there to support me. His subtle cologne danced in the air as his lips reached my ear and whispered, “I missed ye, Sassenach.”
“I thought you’d forgotten me by now.”
“Wi’ yer sweet forget-me-nots to heal my faulty memory? Never a chance.” He kissed my cheek, his beard scratching my more delicate skin.
“You got them? And the aster, too?”
“Aye. Although, I canna say the aster worked overly well. I didna have the patience to last all day wi’out seeing ye again.” His mouth latched onto the lobe of my ear, and he suckled sweetly.
“It’s been hours since you last messaged me.” I couldn’t hide the petulance in my tone. “You have too much patience, as far as I’m concerned.”
“So, ye missed me too, lass?” I could feel his smile against my cheek as his free hand began caressing my belly.
“You know I did. I was missing you before you left my sight.”
“Aye. Weel, we have an hour now. Joe said ye could take yer break a bit early. I brought ye lunch so we wouldna have to waste time finding a place to eat.”
“How efficient of you.”
He lifted the anemone up to present to me as he spoke near my ear, his voice a soft, romantic rumble. “These blooms take their name from the Greek word anemos, meaning wind, since they’re so short-lived. A symbol for the quick passing of time and a reminder to be ever mindful of the present.
“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.”
He lifted my chin up over my shoulder and sealed his mouth over mine, starting our eternal lunch hour in the best way possible. I had just enough wherewithal to remember that I wasn’t in a place where moaning and snogging were acceptable public behaviors, so I repressed the sounds threatening to escape my lips as Jamie’s tongue had its wicked way with me.
“We really shouldn’t do this here,” I weakly protested, allowing his hand to reach down into my trousers.
“There’s hardly anyone in the building, and none can see yer wee body behind mine.”
He pressed over my clit, and keeping my sounds at bay became all the more challenging. He didn’t tease in the slightest. Instead, he used all the knowledge of my body he’d accrued over the previous two days to work me up quickly.
“The cameras?” I asked, looking around, knowing they were scattered throughout the library.
“They canna see us here, dinna fash.”
I was too far gone to question him further. I began rocking my hips, moving his fingers just where I needed them. I didn’t know how long it took me. A minute? Ninety seconds? Perhaps it was the exhibitionism and the fear of getting caught, or maybe it was just Jamie and all he did to get me so fucking worked up. Whatever it was, in moments, he brought me to orgasm, coming in the palm of his hand. His fingers dipped inside, feeling my body squeeze around them.
“God, ye’re bonnie when ye come, Sassenach.”
I was still speechless as he slowly fingered me, and I hoped to God no one would come around and find us in this ridiculous, compromising position.
“Food, flowers, fingers, and…poetry.” I pulled his hand from my pants and turned to face him. “That’s a fine way to spend a Monday.”
“Aye. It is.” He kissed my forehead, smiling brightly. He helped me straighten my blouse with his dry hand while licking my cum off his wet fingers. “Just wait until ye try the hairst bree my sister made for us. It’s delicious. I left it up front wi’ Joe.”
“Then it’ll likely be gone by the time we get there.”
Jamie was looking at me happily, infatuation crystal clear in his eyes. “Yer cheeks are a bonnie shade of pink, and ye’ve a lovely shine to yer skin.”
This time, I could definitely say that shine was actually from perspiration.
I pulled him over to my office, stopping only to steal our lunch back from Joe, and closed the door behind us. I checked my watch. “We only have about fifty minutes left of this eternity. We better take advantage of it, lest you forget all about me again.”
“I remember ye well enough now, Sassenach.” He smirked, bringing his fingers to his nose and inhaling them deeply. “Perhaps well enough to get me through the rest of the day before I forget ye again.”
“Perhaps being forgettable serves my advantage if it means you’ll come back sooner rather than later?”
“I shall endeavor to forget ye at least two or three more times today. In fact, I’ll ruminate on forgetting yer bonnie curls and yer sweet red lips every chance I get.”
I kissed him with said lips and pouted. “This little eternity of ours isn’t long enough.”
“Oh, Claire. Five minutes with ye somehow feels as significant as a lifetime. It’s hard to recall a moment of my life wi’out ye in it.”
He gazed lovingly at me with his striking blue eyes that held the gentle warmth of pure sunshine, and in the brief moment when my heart skipped a beat, I realized time did have the ability to stop when one was in the right frame of mind.
I traced the delicate, fragrance-free petals of the anemone across his cheek and whispered the words of his poem back to him. “Heaven in a Wild Flower.”
If there were any other hours in that day…I later couldn’t recall.