Claire sat down on the hotel bed and let out a deep sigh. The conference was finally over; her talk about her most recent medical journal article had received rave reviews. She was done, and she had the weekend to play around in New York City before returning to London late Sunday.
She could order room service and eat it in bed while watching Netflix — no one would be the wiser, she thought. At that moment, her phone buzzed. She dug it out of her purse and said, “Geillis Duncan. That’s bloody who would be the wiser.”
She rolled her eyes as she answered her phone, but she was smiling. “Hi, love, how are you?”
“Don’t bloody change the subject,” Geillis said, using her best imitation of Claire’s English accent.
“Geillis. I just said hi!” Claire protested as she threw her arms up in the air, gesticulating wildly, as if Geillis could even see her.
“Yer getting dressed and yer going OUT, Dr. Beauchamp. We planned everything down to yer bloody knickers. Yer NOT staying in that hotel room.”
“I was not —“ Claire started.
“Aye, ye were. Don’t even try to argue w’ me,” Geillis said, her voice going up an octave toward the end as she chided Claire.
“Okay, FINE. I’m getting dressed. I’ll go out.”
“And ye will look feckin’ hot AND ye will meet a delicious man for fabulous vacation sex.”
“I am not ON vacation!”
“Aye, aye, but ye’re on a different continent, so the same rules apply. Get in the shower noo. I’ll talk to ye in an hour.” Click. With that, Geillis was gone.
“Bloody FINE,” Claire sighed as she tossed her phone on the bed. “I’m going.”
Claire turned on the hot water as high as it would go and stepped into the shower, closing her eyes in bliss as the water hit her skin.
Geillis is right. It’s been too long since I’ve been on a date, much less had sex with anyone. This will be perfect. It’s the perfect setting: I’m just a tourist in New York this weekend, and I’ll be on another continent by Monday. No strings. Just fun.
Claire did wish she had Geillis with her; she would have much preferred to explore the city with her effervescent friend. She’d spent too much time in medical school, residency, and pediatric surgical fellowship and not enough time flirting with eligible bachelors. She went on dates, of course, but her last long-term relationship had ended almost five years ago.
She bit her lip as she turned off the water and grabbed the plush towel to dry off, wondering silently if that put her squarely in the “Red Flag” category. Surely not. She shook her head, unconvinced. Ah well, nothing to do about that at the moment.
Claire looked herself over in the mirror. Eyeliner, check. Lipstick, check. Highlighter, check. Mascara, extra coat, check. Curls intact? As much as they’d ever be. Check.
She turned, the short black cocktail dress shimmering as it caught the room’s lights. Damn, Beauchamp. Your arse looks bloody fantastic. And it did.
She nodded and opened Facetime to call Geillis, who answered on the first ring. “Ah, Beauchamp, look at you! Ready to bewitch New York City? Claire snorted. “Sure, G, that’s what I’m going for."
Geillis ignored her. “Are ye wearing the special knickers, then?
Back in London, Geillis had dragged her to a high-end lingerie store one weekend while Geillis was visiting from Edinburgh. After spending at least an hour looking at every garment in the store, Geillis refused to let up until Claire had put a decent dent in her bank account. “Every woman needs sexy lingerie, ye ken, Claire.”
Claire smirked, making sure to look pleased with herself. “ Aye, I am wearing everything you picked out for me. I don’t think this bra is really magical, though yes, okay, I do look amazing. And I feel amazing. Are you happy now?”
She was currently wearing a cherry red bra and matching thong. The bra was covered in beautifully embroidered lace with delicate trim. The cups hid her nipples, but only barely. The red thong matched the pattern of the bra and hid very little. Nothing. It hid nothing. As she was putting them on, she promised herself that she’d make more of an effort to buy more pieces like this. She felt incredibly sexy.
Geillis barked out a laugh, bringing Claire back to the present. “Oh, aye, verra pleased. But let’s go over the plan. What’s the name ye have picked out?”
Claire sighed and shook her head. “Ok, how’s Elizabeth Henry? Dr. Elizabeth Henry.”
Geillis raised an eyebrow. “Yer middle name and yer da’s first name is not that thrilling, but aye, it’s verra English,” she conceded. “Ye don’t have to tell anyone yer a doctor, ken.”
Claire scoffed. “I’m not going to lie about everything . That’s too much work for me to pull off, and you know it.”
Geillis nodded wisely. “Verra true, ye do have a terrible poker face. Anyway, just trust me. Giving someone a fake name will be verra fun. No one can look ye up and find where ye live and work. No strings, all fun, just like ye wanted.”
Claire smiled. “Well, I’m thrilled you approve. I’m going to go now, so wish me luck."
Geillis made a kissing noise. “Don’t forget the condoms, hen. Love ye.” With that, she hung up.
Claire picked up her clutch. She had an IUD, but that obviously wouldn’t be enough for a fling. Earlier in the day, she had ventured into the corner store to buy condoms. She’d felt a bit like a teenager when she had finally chosen a pack out of the many varieties they had available. “Yes, I do have condoms, G,” she announced to the room before grabbing her coat and closing the hotel door behind her.
When she exited the elevator on the ground floor, she looked around to the well-appointed bar and restaurant. This is as good a place as any to start, she thought as she walked toward a seat. When she’d booked the boutique hotel, she’d been pleased to see that this particular one boasted a wide variety of whiskies. Geillis had mocked her, noting that she could just take Claire with her to Edinburgh with her next time she went home. Claire had just shrugged. “I like what I like, G!”
Claire sat down at the bar and picked up the extensive whisky menu. Her eyes roamed past the brands she knew by heart. Laphroaig. Macallan. Glenlivet. She shook her head. Okay, I do feel a bit silly now, she thought. I can drink these bloody anywhere. “What can I get ye this evening?” asked the bartender, bringing Claire sharply out of her reverie.
“Oh!” Claire looked up, a bit surprised by her sudden appearance. “Yes, hi, I can’t quite decide here. Do you have any specials, or maybe a favorite whisky you have that I wouldn’t have heard of?”
The bartender nodded happily and turned around, talking excitedly. “Oh, an English lass!” she exclaimed. “Aye! We just started carrying this one.” She picked it up off the shelf and passed it to Claire. “It’s a smaller, family-owned distillery from the Scottish Highlands. Like me, ken,” she beamed.
Claire grinned at the woman; she had a grandmotherly smile and rosy cheeks. I’m evidently in the right kind of bar, then, she thought.
Claire looked over the elegant label, which featured a large “F” in ornate lettering. She opened her mouth to say something, but stopped when a man behind her spoke first.
“It’s called Fraser’s Distillery,” said the man’s voice, in a deep Scottish burr.
Claire turned toward the man as he approached the bar on her left side. “It’s my family whisky distillery, actually,” he said with a wide, dazzling smile. The man was tall, with a muscular frame, and eyes of bright blue.. He had red hair that was short, but long enough that she could see the beginning of curls at the nape of his neck. He was, Claire thought, one of the most gorgeous men she’d ever seen.
“Wow,” she said, before snapping back to her senses. “I mean, wow, that’s really impressive.” She felt the rush of embarrassment and shook it off, quickly distracting herself by gesturing at the seat next to her. “Here, please sit. Can I, erm, buy a round for you?”, she asked, feeling pinpricks of sweat break out on her temple. Why would he want me to buy him a drink from his own distillery? God, Beauchamp, do pull yourself together.
The man thanked her and took a seat, still smiling. “Oh, aye, we’ll have a round, but yer not paying.” He turned to the bartender. “Glenna, would you mind pouring us a couple of drams, please?”
“Oh, o’ course,” Glenna said happily, turning away to fetch the glasses.
The man turned back to her and put his hand out. “Jamie Fraser,” he said. Claire smiled, extending her hand to connect with his. “Elizabeth,” she said. “Elizabeth Henry.”
Looks like I might not have to leave the hotel after all, she thought as he took her hand in his.