Claire hastily dressed in the clothes that Jamie had peeled her out of the previous night. She wanted to be out of the house before it woke. Fergus would understand (though he would be insufferable) but she did not want to disturb Willie’s sense of himself or his family if she could help it.
Luck, it seemed, was not on her side, for when she passed the kitchen, Willie was there digging eggs and milk out of the fridge.
He turned as she came into the room and smiled his charming smile at her.
“Do you know how to make French toast?”
Jamie woke terrified for Claire was no longer in the bed beside him. Would she have left? Did she regret the previous night?
He was up in a trice, wrenching up an old pair of flannel trousers as an afterthought to his son’s sensibilities, and was down the stairs in a moment only to find the object of his search and his son in the kitchen, egg to the elbows, and giggling madly.
He leaned against the door jamb and watched them for a long moment.
“Damn,” Claire said, flipping something over in the skillet. “I burned another one!”
“It’s not quite as burned as the last one,” Willie said, helpfully.
“Fine, you can eat it then,” she said, holding the skillet out toward him threateningly.
“What is going on here, you two?”
“Mum Claire and I tried to make French toast, but she’s not very good at it.”
Claire stiffened when Willie called her ‘mum’ and Jamie nearly choked on his tongue, but he kept his countenance.
“Well, since you two mad scientists have used all of the bread, milk, and eggs, we’ll have to go to the grocery, won’t we? And we’ll get some breakfast while we’re out. Now, go clean yourself up, you wee ratten.”
Willie skipped out of the room cheerfully.
Jamie turned to Claire who looked pale and uncertain.
“Are you all right, lass? You look a bit fashed.”
“You… you might say that. Jamie, I didn’t ask him to-”
“No, I know, Claire. He… he wants a mum, you know. And you’ve been… you’ve been wonderful with him.”
“He’s wonderful,” she said, shaking her head. “It’s easy. But I couldn’t take his mother’s place, that would be wrong of me. And… he has you.”
Jamie sat at the kitchen table and pulled her hand into his.
“But what if I needed you too? You could be mum to Willie, and sister to Fergus… and maybe something to me as well?”
“Something? What are you asking me, Jamie?”
“Wife… would you be my wife, Claire?”
She sat, still and silent for a very long moment before she nodded, just barely. Then, after a moment, her face broke into a radiant grin. “Yes Jamie. I will.”
From the kitchen door came a pair of twin whoops from Fergus and Willie.