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Like Petals Falling

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“How’s Paris?” 

“Wet.”

“That makes two of us.”

Claire,” he warned. His deep voice over the phone warmed my insides like a good, strong whisky. “I’m about to give a bloody talk to a few hundred students. Ye canna inform me of the humid conditions in yer pants and expect me to have the sense to perform my job with any degree of competency.”

“I’m sure they’ll appreciate the breadth and depth of your…work.”

“I’ll be arrested for crimes of indecency.”

“Then come back to Boston and be indecent with me.”

“Dinna temp me. This trip has already been three days too long.”

“You’ve only been gone for two.”

“I ken.” He huffed a frustrated sigh. “How is yer work today, Sassenach?” His artificially lightened tone suggested he was trying to distract himself.

“Aside from a toddler who just spilled his lunch on the carpet, everything’s been quiet.”

“Oh God. What was it? Hopefully nothing too awful.”

“Just some fruit and crackers. It would’ve been a quick clean up, but then he had to go and stomp all over it, smashing the orange slices and crumbs into the rug.”

“Of course, he did. What about Geordie? Has he been treating ye well?”

“Oh, he’s all right. Though I do miss Joe being in charge. Everyone’s blood pressure was better for it.”

“He’s no’ hassling ye, is he?”

“What if he was? Could I induce you to take a flight back and defend my honor?”

“Ye ken I would.”

“I know, bloody man. But the answer to your question is no. He’s not. No more than usual anyway.”

Mmphm.”

“I better get back to work,” I said regretfully. “I want to get this mess cleaned up before Geordie sees it and tries to ban children from having food in the library ever again. Good luck with your talk, not that you need it.”

“If I’m no’ banned from the university by the end of it.”

I giggled quietly. “I’ll call you tonight when I get home. I love you.”

“I love ye, my Sassen—”

“Oranges in the stacks?!” said Geordie, staring at the mess on the floor. “For God’s sake. It’s not even noon!”

“Goodbye, Jamie.” I hung up the phone and sighed heavily before sending Geordie off to the breakroom to practice his diaphragmatic breathing.

Work days were all the longer when there was no Jamie waiting for me at the end of them.

 


 

I called him directly after work, but he didn’t answer. He likely was asleep or having late drinks with some of the professors, and maybe even a few grad students, from the university. I tried not to imagine the hordes of young people slipping their phone numbers into his pockets, completely enamored with his intelligence, charisma, and humor. I couldn’t blame them; I would’ve done the same.

I thought it might not have been a coincidence that Jamie had taken me out to the beach to see the stars before he left, regaling me with poetry about authenticity. He wanted me to know he’d be true to me while gone, and he trusted that I’d do the same. 

For the first time, I considered with astonishment just how secure I felt in his absence. There was no way on God’s green earth Frank would have remained faithful to me when going on a business trip out of the country while drowning in the affection and admiration of hundreds of young women. Frank didn’t even have half the readership of Jamie, nor the godlike face and body, yet I’d seen young students throw themselves at him while I was standing right there, knowing full well I was his wife. I could only imagine the lengths to which some of them would go to get into Jamie’s bed.

Perhaps it was a good thing I didn’t go with him and missed witnessing all that mess. I was content in the happy little bubble we created, spending all our time together either at the apartment or finding ways to avoid public indecency. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was at the thought of him having some degree of fame.

When I arrived home, those thoughts were pushed from my mind by a few surprises waiting on my doorstep. There was a bag of home cooked food—clearly Jenny’s doing—a note sealed in an envelope, and a gorgeous vase of flowers. I brought them all inside for the space to truly appreciate them.

I started with the flowers, blue hyacinth. Usually, Jamie only left me with one blossom, but this vase was overflowing with a bouquet of them. Their fragrance was sweet, robust, and earthy, in the best way.

I turned my attention to the vase, a work of art all on its own. It was magnificent. Obviously handblown glass with elegant craftsmanship, it was decorated with transparent blue forget-me-nots and luscious green stems. There was a quality of flowing movement in its composition that made it feel like a breeze was blowing through the flowers in the glass.

“Gorgeous,” I breathed.

I brought them into the sitting room where they would be on display in the best natural light. I entertained a brief, wistful daydream of a country home with large windows and a half dozen vases full of flowers.

I retrieved the letter, smiling at the sturdy construction of the envelope that matched Jamie’s stationary. It contained a short note and, of course, a poem.


i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

- e. e. cummings

 Ee cummimgs poem and blue hyacinth

Claire,

I miss you already,
my love. 

I sit here in bed, writing
this note, your naked body
only inches away, and
I MISS YOU
with a powerful,
overwhelming grief
before I’ve even gone.

The anticipation of your loss has
me lying here, breathing in
your scent, touching 

… your skin

… your hair

with my whole body. 

I will take the memory of you
with me on the palms of my hands
and the curves of my hips. 

I will take the love you hold for me
and carry it in my heart. I know it’s here
already, because it’s so damn full,
like it’ll burst with the next thrum.

… or the next.

… or the one after that.

Know, my love, that every time my heart
beats while I’m gone, it will remind me
of you and the exquisite pain of your loss,
however long- or short-lived.

Blue hyacinth for constancy, sincerity.

Forget-me-nots in pleading that you will
forget me never. You can’t, of course, because
I carry your heart with me.

… I carry it in my heart.

I’m yours always, my Sassenach,
JF

 

The food was fresh and warm, and didn’t require any additional heating. There was enough in the containers to last me half the week. I imagined Jamie gave instructions to Jenny and Ian about the delivery long before his flight.

Sweet, thoughtful man.

All throughout dinner, I thought of calling him again, but I didn’t want to badger him while he was working or sleeping or having fun. He was cramming three weeks of work into half the time for my sake, and I didn’t need to interfere any more than I already had. 

Instead, I sent him a picture of the flowers in my sitting room and a heartfelt thank you for all he’d done. I forced myself to find distractions, cleaning the apartment, watching television, and reading books. I tried to stay away from refreshing his Instagram in search of any possible updates, not that he was wont to post much on social media.

I decided to end my evening early, lying in bed with a book of poems by Robert Frost, trying not to feel too down about going to sleep without a goodnight wished by my favorite person. 

I looked over at his empty space, and I longed for his warm body. I missed how he often fell asleep reading, sitting up against the pillows, and how he’d wake up from that position, toss his book aside, then gather me into his arms before dozing off again. 

I turned to the clock on the nightstand and did the math. It would be so very late for him there—or early, depending on how one thought about it. Either he was still out enjoying some of that hard earned fame—a thought that was more than a little unpleasant, if I was being honest with myself—or he went to bed without talking to me—I didn’t much like that idea either. Or worse, maybe something happened to him. 

No matter what the reason for not calling, it was just so out of character that it seemed perfectly justifiable to try calling him again. Hopefully, he wouldn’t be too angry if I woke him up or interrupted him with his friends and colleagues. He wasn’t Frank, for God’s sake.

I picked up my phone and called one more time, not sure what I was hoping to see or hear when he answered. It rang a good number of times, and I was preparing to hang up without leaving a voicemail. 

Mmphm. Hello?” he mumbled groggily into the phone.

“Did I wake you? I’m sorry.” 

“Dinna be sorry.” His bed creaked through the line, and I could hear him sitting up. “Oh, Jesus. Is that the time?”

“I just hadn’t heard back from you, so I thought I’d call and make sure you’re ok.”

“I missed yer call? God. I meant to just lie down and rest my eyes, but that was seven bloody hours ago.”

“I should’ve let you keep sleeping.”

“No. God no. I wanted to talk to ye.” I could hear him rubbing his face to wake himself up. 

“How did your talk go?”

Och, fine. Like every other, but in French.” He groaned sweetly as he stretched himself out. “I’d rather hear about yer day.”

“It was fine. It dragged on without you here. The highlight was coming home to find the most beautiful vase of flowers I’ve ever seen and enough food to hold me over until winter.”

“Did ye like it? Really?”

“It’s stunning. Where did you find it?”

“I had it made for ye. I ken the artist, and it arrived just before I left. Give me a moment, Sassenach. I need to get out of this suit.”

“You’re still in your clothes? You poor thing. You must be exhausted.”

“Mmphm.”

“I wish I was there to help you out of them.”

“Do ye now?”

“It’s always the best part of my day.” My phone beeped, and I saw that he was attempting to Facetime. I answered with a smile. “Hello, you.”

“There ye are.” He sighed happily. He was in a hotel room, lit only by a small lamp. His red hair looked brown in the dim light. His eyes were tired, still puffy and full of sleep. “I missed yer bonnie face, Sassenach.”

“I miss all your pieces and parts.”

“And they miss you.” Jamie set his phone down on the nightstand and backed up so I could see most of him in the frame. He began undressing, taking his clothes off piece by piece and hanging them over the back of a chair to tend to later. I was pleased to see he was telling the truth about how much he missed me, his cock reaffirming his words by rising up to greet me.

“Mmm.” I very much wanted to take it into my mouth.

He chuckled softly as he picked up the phone again and brought me into the washroom. “Gi’ me a moment, lass.” He put the phone on mute and left it lying on the counter as he stepped in to use the toilet. I waited patiently, happy to be with him while he was doing such personal things.

“What book are ye reading there, lass?” he asked as he stared down at the phone while washing his hands. 

“Robert Frost.” I lifted it up for him to see. 

“Inspired by Fireflies in the Garden?”

“When I read poetry now, I hear your voice in my head. It’s a comfort when you’re gone.”

“My love.” His words were soft and pained, and his eyes didn’t leave the screen as he made his way back to bed, this time pulling the blankets back rather than falling asleep on top again.

“Your poem was beautiful.”

You are beautiful.”

“I’m a mess.” My hair was in a bun and I was wearing my ratty old shirt in his absence.

“You are my world.”

I couldn’t help my audible sigh of breathless pleasure. “How are you real?”

“I’ll show ye just how real I am when I come home.” 

Home. “Are you really beginning to think of Boston as home?”

“No, lass. I think of you as home.”

“Oh, Jamie. I wish I could kiss right now.”

“So do I. Let’s no’ do this separating thing again, aye? I dinna want to be wi’out ye any longer.”

“Agreed.”

“I think I’d like to make love to ye in Paris, wi’ the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower shining through the window.”

“Mmm. Tell me more.” I began pulling off my shirt, getting just as naked as him.

“Oh God, yer tits are lovely. I wonder what they’ll taste like in Paris.”

I snorted. “Do breasts taste different abroad?”

“I should think so, what wi’ buttery croissants and sparkling champagne on my tongue.”

“Then we should travel to Scotland so you can taste them with a side of haggis.”

“I intend to. Would ye mind if I took a picture of them, Claire? To get me through our time apart?”

I nodded breathlessly. “I trust you, Jamie.”

I pulled the phone back so he could have a better view. He was biting his lip with hunger, taking a good number of screenshots. 

“God, ye’re so lovely.”

“Is that all you want?”

Mmphm?”

“I mean…there is more of me I’d be willing to share with you to hold you over.”

His eyebrow raised, and his mouth curved into my favorite mischievous grin. “Is that so?”

I pulled back the blanket and spread my legs wide, dropping the phone down below. Jamie was making all sorts of Scottish sounds of encouragement. I spread my lips wide so he could see deep inside, and I let him take as many pictures as he liked.

“Lift yer arse, lass. Let me see that bum. Aye. Just like that.”

As he kept snapping pictures, I slipped my finger inside. Beyond words now, Jamie watched me pleasure myself, directing me only with grunts and groans. I moved the phone back and forth, giving him wider shots and close ups, desperate to know which pictures he’d use to find his own pleasure with first.

I came rubbing my clit, then zoomed in so Jamie could see my muscles contract deep within. He stroked himself as he watched, face knotted in concentration. I brought my wet fingers up to my lips and sucked them clean.

“It’s my turn,” I said, wanting to watch him come for me.

No doubt feeling the strain of abstinence along with me, it hardly took any time at all. He was beyond teasing and just stroked roughly, making me wish I had set my screen to record rather than snapping blurry pictures. He came, grunting, curling up his body, shooting cum on his abdomen. I took several pictures of the glorious sight, wishing I was there to lick it off.

I rested my head back against my pillows, body as at peace as it could be when Jamie was an ocean away. I watched him clean himself up, jealous of the way he could touch that gorgeous body any time he wanted.

I waited for him to settle back into bed, so I could see his beautiful blue eyes, as dark as the ocean in the muted light. “Tell me about your day,” I said, really just wanting to hear his voice.

“Oh, it was fine. The students are always fun. I was fucking exhausted with all the travel, and hardly remember half of what I said. I came back to the hotel to grab a quick bite and chat wi’ ye, but I must’ve fallen asleep and only woke when ye called this second time.”

“I’m sorry for disturbing your rest. I was a little worried.”

“Dinna fash, mo nighean donn. I’m glad ye called. If I would ha’ awoken in the morning wi’out hearing yer voice, my day would have been ruined.”

“Will you be able to fall back asleep?”

“Aye. I’m still tired, if ye can believe it.”

“I can. You’ve been so busy.”

“Ye must be spent yerself, lass. Ye’ve been up since early, talking to me.”

“Only a little.”

“Close yer eyes. I’ll stay on the phone until I ken ye’re asleep.”

“I wish I could kiss you goodnight, Jamie.”

“Aye. I crave yer mouth too.” He smiled sweetly. “Goodnight, Sassenach.”

“Goodnight, my love.”

I took one last look at those gorgeous blue eyes before closing my own, hoping they’d fill my dreams for the rest of the night. It was lovely falling asleep to Jamie’s comforting presence, even if it was a few thousand miles away. 

As I was drifting off, his deep, rumbling voice whispered, “Golden slumbers kiss your eyes, Smiles awake you when you rise…”