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Heartbroken in the Highlands

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HITH

Rupert and Angus just stood there watching Jamie, who had yet to take his eyes off of Claire and the man dancing with her. No one spoke for several minutes and they just watched as Claire continued to dance. She seemed so carefree and appeared to really be enjoying herself.

Jamie had been waiting for this moment for the last six years, but now that it was here, he wasn’t sure what to do. Should he go up to her? She was clearly having a good time and he didn’t want to ruin her evening…would he ruin her evening? Who was the man that was dancing with her? Then it dawned on him…I’m a fucking eejit! How could I think that a lass like Claire would still be single, he berated himself. James Fraser was not a man who often found himself at a complete loss for what to do, but this was one of those rare times. Sighing, he turned around and walked toward the entrance of the bar, with Rupert and Angus chasing after him.

“What are ye doing, mate?” Rupert asked incredulously. “This is your Claire! The one ye’ve been looking for! Why are ye leaving?”

“Did ye no’ see her with the other guy?” Jamie hissed back. “How could I have been that stupid…thinking she’d just be pining away fer me?”

“How do ye know she’s with him? They may have just met!” Angus tried to reason.

“But did ye see how happy she was? I promised that I would never be the one tae cause her pain…” his voice trailed off.

“This is the third weekend in a row Jamie!” Claire, who was frustrated and near tears, cried into her phone.

“I ken that, and I told ye I was sorry. It’s no’ my fault that DJ came down with the flu and they need me to cover his weekend shifts. It's a braw chance for me.”

“I know, but you promised! We haven’t seen each other in over three weeks!”

“Ye could come here for once.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth he regretted them. He knew she couldn’t just disappear for a weekend, but the fact that he was always expected to go to her had started to wear on him.

“Oh right, because I can just pick up and leave my shifts and patients. Christ, Jamie! It’s bad enough that we haven’t seen each other in almost a month and now you want to make me feel guilty about the fact that I never come see you?! Maybe if you weren’t constantly promising to come see me, I wouldn’t be disappointed.” Her voice was becoming shrill.

“That’s not fair, Claire, and ye ken it. I was’na trying tae make ye feel guilty. Believe me, I will’na make the mistake of promising ye again. I’m sorry fer being such a disappointment.” Jamie bellowed back.

It was silent on the line for a full minute before Claire spoke between clenched teeth. “I’m going to be late for my rounds. We can talk about this later.”

Jamie should have let it go…he knew better than to antagonize her, but he was pissed. “Will we? Ye always say we’ll talk about it. About how frustrated we are, what we want to do to make it work, but when the time comes, ye brush it off.”

“I think it would be best, if I hung up now. Goodbye Jamie.” And she was gone.

Looking back, Jamie was surprised it had taken them that long to have an argument about not seeing each other as regularly as they had planned. He knew between the two of them he had the more flexible schedule, but the fact that Claire had just assumed that his job was not as important had really hurt at the time, but now? Jamie would give anything to go back in time and keep his promises to Claire.

Jamie looked at his friends. “I ken she’s in the area, aye? That’s a start. I’ll have tae bide my time. The last thing I said tae her was that I would never be the cause of her pain again, and I meant it.”

Rupert and Angus looked at each other, before Angus spoke up. “Are we continuing with the show still?”

“Aye, I think we will. At least we ken she could be listening!” Despite the turmoil going on in his head, Jamie was more hopeful than he had been in years. His Claire was here, in Edinburgh!

“Alright,” Rupert said, while running his hand through his hair. “We’ll follow yer lead on this, but I hope ye ken what yer doing. I guess we’re no’ going back in?”

Jamie felt guilty. “Christ! I drove the two of ye. Do ye want me tae give some cash for an Uber home? I dinna want tae ruin yer evening…it’s early still.”

“Let’s just head tae a different pub. Play some pool or darts, enjoy some drinks?” Angus suggested.

“If I go back in there, I canna promise I will’na go up tae yer lass and tell ‘er ye’ve been pining away,” Rupert added.

Jamie looked horrified by that suggestion, but before he could say anything, Rupert and Angus started laughing uncontrollably. “Ye should have seen yer face!” Angus howled.

“If the two of ye shut yer gobs now, the first round’s on me, aye?” Jamie raised an eyebrow at his friends.

“Deal!” they said simultaneously. They headed towards Jamie’s truck and decided to go to Hellwater Pub.

 

Claire had been thoroughly enjoying herself, until the man had come up behind her. At first, she just continued dancing with Geillis, subtly hinting that she wasn’t interested. After several minutes, the man moved in closer and Claire started to feel uneasy. She was trying to make eye contact with her friend, but Geillis’ attention had been drawn to the voluptuous blond that had been next to them. Claire went to move closer to Geillis, when two large hands grabbed her hips. She flipped around and was face to face with an older gentleman. She went to push his hands away, but he wouldn’t let go.

“Take your hands off of me,” Claire said between gritted teeth.

“Och, what’s a pretty sassenach like ye doing here in Scotland?” The smell of whisky on his breath was almost enough to intoxicate Claire from where she was standing, but the term that he used is what caused her to pause.

Claire turned around, “What did you call me?”

They were sitting in freshman English and the tall, red-head had just asked her a question. He blushed, before saying, “I meant no disrespect lass. It’s just yer accent, I ken ye are’na from around these parts, making ye a ‘sassenach’...an outlander.”

Claire was listening to him, but she was having a hard time concentrating with those sapphire blue eyes staring at her. “Well, as long as you meant no offense, then yes, I do have a pencil you can borrow.” She smiled as she dug into her bag and grabbed on to hand him.

“Thank ye, Sassenach, truly. Now I can finish my assignment.” He then blinked both eyes at her, in what she could only assume was an attempt at a wink.

Claire would have remained in that memory, had the gentleman’s hands not started to wander further south. “Let go of me you fucking bastard!”

Geillis turned at that and dove for the man, shoving him hard in the chest. “The lass said leave her alone! Do ye have a problem with that?”

The disturbance had caused Geordie to come rushing in and when he saw the red-head who had promised him a drink, he immediately came to her aid. “What’s amiss?”

“This jackass is making unwanted advances towards my friend here.” Geillis explained.

Geordie turned to see who the advances were coming from. “Dougal McKenzie! I’ve thrown ye out twice in the past six months for being too forward with the lasses.”

Just then, the owner of the clue appeared. “What seems to be the problem, Geordie?”

“I’m sorry ye were disturbed Mr. Willoughby, but this gentleman canna seem to keep his hands tae himself.”

“Then throw him out,” and looking McKenzie in the eye, Willoughby added, “if I ever see you in my club again, I will call the authorities.” With that, the owner turned towards Claire. “My apologies, miss. Please let me cover your tab, along with your friend here. Who has been taking care of you?”

Claire was quite shaken by everything that had transpired, so Geillis stepped in. “Louise, at the bar in the back.”

“Of course, I will see to it immediately. I do hope we see you ladies again in the future and this does not deter you from coming back to the World’s End.”

“Thank ye, Mr. Willoughby. We appreciate that,” Geillis said, shaking his hand.

Once McKenzie had been escorted out, Geillis took Claire by the elbow and walked her over to one of the couches. The blond that had been dancing with Geillis, followed at a slight distance. “I ken yer friend needs ye, but I wanted tae give ye my number. Give me a call some time.” She winked and then left Geillis to tend to Claire.

“Are ye alright, hen?” Geillis was rubbing Claire’s upper arm. “Yer shaking sae hard yer making my teeth rattle.”

“I’m…I’m sorry G. I know you were hoping to take that girl home, but -”

“Absolutely not, Claire. Dinna go there. Yer my best friend and I would never pick a lass over ye. Let’s get ye home, alright?”

“I know you aren’t ready to leave, but yes, please take me home.” Claire was trying very hard to keep herself together, but she kept thinking about being attacked in high school. The image of Jamie leaning over her, after saving her from Frank, was so vivid in her mind, she had to keep looking around to make sure he wasn’t there.

As Geillis and Claire were making their way out of the club, the blond came back over. “I’m heading over to Hellwater, if ye feel like meeting me later?”

Before Geillis could find a reason to say no, Claire spoke up. “She would love to! She’s just going to drop me off at home first.” Claire looked at Geillis and dared her to argue.

Realizing she wasn’t going to win, Geillis smiled back at the blond. “I would love that! I’m sorry, though, I did’na catch yer name.”

“It’s Laogherie. Laogherie McKenzie. No relation, I swear!”

“Nice tae meet ye, Laogherie. As my friend Claire here has already said, my name is Geillis.”

The two ladies smiled at one another and Geillis promised to call Laoghaire when she was leaving Claire’s.

Twenty minutes later, Geillis had Claire home and in a comfortable pair of sweats and an old t-shirt, curled up on the couch with a cup of tea. “Just say the word, Claire and I’ll call Laoghaire right now and tell her I canna come.”

“You are such a wonderful friend G, and I love you for offering, but I will not ruin your evening. Until the… incident… I was having fun, so thank you for pushing me to go out. It’s just going to take me some more time to get back into the swing of things.” Claire smiled at her friend.

“Alright, but make sure tae lock the door behind me. I’ll call ye in the morning?”

“You better! I’ll want details!” Claire hugged her friend and kissed her on the cheek. “Have fun and be safe!”

“Always!” and with that, Geillis was gone.

 

Claire settled back on to the couch and sipped her tea. She turned on the television, hoping to focus on anything other than the events that had transpired over the last hour, but her mind drifted back to that horrible night in the park.

Claire was sobbing and shaking when Jamie tried to reach down and help her up. She had flinched when he touched her and she could see the hurt in his eyes. The last thing she wanted was to hurt Jamie, but the thought of a man’s hands on her, made her want to be physically ill.

She had pushed herself up into a sitting position and tried to pull her skirt down to a respectable length. Jamie had blushed, but quickly took his long-sleeved shirt off and threw it over her lap.

“Jamie, it’s too cold for you to be out here without a shirt on! Really, I’m ok.”

“It’s fine Sassenach. Besides, I dinna ken how long we’ll be sitting here and I’m still sweating from my run.”

As if realizing that she now had no way of getting home, a fresh wave of tears fell down her face.

Jamie made to put his arm around her but stopped. Claire leaned her head against his shoulder instead.

“What can I do Claire?”

“Could I trouble you to take me home? Clearly my ride has left and -”

“Is that what yer worrit about?! Do I look like the type of man who would leave a lass out here alone?! In the park, hurt, with no way to get home? My mam would box my ears! No' to mention what my da would do to me! I thought ye kent me better than that, Sassenach.”

“No, of course not, and yes, I do, I…I just didn’t want to assume.”

They were quiet for a few more minutes before Claire spoke up. “I feel so stupid,” she whispered.

“Tis no’ yer fault lass,” Jamie whispered back.

“I should have known better than to wear something like this. It’s my fault, I must have given him the wrong impression.”

Jamie clenched his fists at his sides and took a long breath in before responding. “Claire, look at me.” He waited for her to meet his eyes. “This is no’ yer fault, do ye hear me? Ye asked him tae stop and he did’na.”

“It’s a cool October evening! Why did I just not wear some skinny jeans, boots, and a sweater?” She started crying all over again.

Jamie leaned his head against hers and whispered soothing Gaelic in her ear, “Gabh fois do cheann a ghràidh. Tha mi an seo. Tha mi an seo. Cha robh e airidh ort.”

From that point on, Jamie and Claire had been inseparable, starting out as friends and then the relationship became so much more, reaching a level neither of them even knew existed.

Without realizing it, tears had started flowing down her cheeks again. Claire wasn’t really sure if she was upset about tonight or the night back at the park. She couldn’t help but wonder how she would feel if a familiar, red-headed Scot was sitting next to her on the couch, whispering Gaelic to her right now. Claire always loved when Jamie would whisper to her…the cadence of his voice, the Scottish burr, and even when she couldn’t understand the words, she could feel the love behind them. “So much for moving on tonight Beauchamp. I feel like I’ve just gone ten steps backwards.” She blew her nose and stood up to carry her cup over to the sink. As she was shuffling out of the kitchen, a thought occurred to her. “I wonder what Dr. Alexandra would think of my predicament? A thirty-year old, successful, single female who is so hung up on her ex, she cannot bring herself to date anyone else. Yeah, pathetic.” Claire had always loved listening to the show, and was starting to consider calling in for some advice. Hundreds of people probably called in all the time, so the odds of her getting to speak with Dr. Alexandra were slim. It’s worth a shot Beauchamp…you’ve got nowhere to go but up.