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If You Stay

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New Year’s Eve

Edinburgh

 

I shouldn’t have come. I should’ve stayed home, hanging around in my lousy pajamas, watching some crappy rom com on television. I should’ve made up some excuse not to come, but Louise was persistent and my only friend in town so there was no way she would’ve let me off the hook. I didn’t even enjoy going out, the music was always too loud, the people were always too boring and the conversations were never that memorable or deep. But there I was, looking at my phone for what felt like the hundredth time, feeling as pathetic as ever, checking my email at precisely 11:27pm in the middle of the New Year’s Eve party. 

Louise invited me to the party she was throwing at this hotel and there was no way I could say no. So, I put on my best dress, a nice pair of heels and tried to apply a little bit of makeup on my face to appear somehow put together. Fact was, I definitely should’ve gone to the hair dresser in an attempt to control my untamable hair.

The music was indeed too loud, the room was dark, except for the dim lights that served as table center pieces. I didn’t know anyone, though, and was starting to feel a little like a fish out of water.

Louise and I instantly became close friends when we met in Paris the previous summer. She was in her honeymoon with a scotsman named Charles and we were on a romantic getaway. We as in, Frank and I. I missed Frank, or at least the company he provided to these types of gatherings. But Frank wasn’t here and I hadn’t even talked to him in months. I had moved from London to Edinburgh about three weeks ago and starting over was proving to be tougher than I thought it would be. But I liked my new job at the hospital and my colleagues were nothing but friendly.  If only things didn’t end up the way they did between us. Us, meaning Frank and I.

Sighing, I reached for my phone again to check on the time once more. 11:33pm and I was having a slow death. Perhaps I should leave, Louise was entertaining her other guests, and no one else would notice. Oh and my feet were killing me.

As I finally decided to go grab my coat and head to the door, I heard Louise call my name. I waved politely at her from the corner where I was standing and she made her way to me through the crowd.

“Come, there’s someone I want you to meet,” she said, grabbing me by the elbow. “I think you’ll like him.”

“Louise, I’m not looking for-“

“I know!” Louise cut me off, tossing her beautiful brown hair to the side, and rolling her eyes at me. “But I won’t allow you to spend New Year’s Eve all by yourself!”

“I’m not by myself.” I lied, having a hard time finding my pace behind her.

“You must kiss someone! It’s New Year’s Eve, for heaven’s sake. It’s bad luck if you don’t.”

“Well, luck hasn’t been exactly on my cards lately.”

“Nonsense. Besides, he’s a French business man who just moved to the city, like you, he works with Charles, is recently divorced, has a nice house in Bordeaux, where he’s from, and the most attractive-“ She either didn’t finish the sentence or I didn’t hear her over the gasp I let out when we stopped in front of the man she thought suitable for me. “Claire Beauchamp, this is-“ I barely heard his name out loud, with the shock and fear Louise might be losing her mind, thinking she could pair me with the man. Mister whatever-his-name-was took my hand and placed a kiss on top of it, giving me a wide smile. He was wearing a dark green suit with a red tie around his neck that made the scarlet tone on his cheekbones come through, and before I could turn to tell Louise another word, she had vanished into thin air.

“So, Miss Beauchamp, I hear you’re a doctor.”

“A nurse,” I corrected him. He was short enough to be buried in his suit, but tall enough to look down at me from the tip of his nose. I wasn’t sure if he looked more like a toad or a lizard, but whatever attractive feature Louise was about to point out wasn’t visible from the outside. Bless his heart, he could be the most amazing person and there I was judging him over his looks.

“My own grand-mère was nurse. A World War II Army Nurse, to be precise.”

“How fascinating!”

“Beauchamp, your surname is French, am I correct?”

“Yes, my family’s name is indeed French.”

“But I do notice a fine British accent when you speak.” I simply nodded, knowing where the conversation was heading, but I wasn’t in the mood to talk about my family or background.  “It’s not very common to find such a fine, distinguished Englishwoman like yourself here in Scotland.” He remarked, after finishing talking about his grandmother’s memories as if they would resonate with mine.

“Well, I moved recently.”

“I just moved here myself, actually. Edinburgh is such a nice little city, don’t you think? The weather not quite as nice, but one can get used to it.”

“Hmm hmm.” I nodded, not in the mood to make small talk about the weather either. I searched for my phone inside my clutch and realized that not only my phone’s battery was dying, we were also close to midnight.

“Oh… I guess the New Year is coming!” He exclaimed, glancing over my shoulder and taking a peek at my screen. “Perhaps I should find us a glass of champagne.”

“Yes, that’d be very nice.” I replied, putting the phone back on its place and panicking for a second longer. Was he expecting a midnight kiss? Oh God, please! When he turned to call for the waiter, I started to hear the people around me beginning the countdown.

10… 9… 8…7

He was on his way back with a two glasses of champagne and I anxiously looked around, trying to find an escape. Running out of excuses or diversions, I panicked, grabbed the shoulder of a tall man in front of me, making him turn around.

6…5…4…3

The tall man had the bluest eyes I had ever seen, was wearing a pair of black jeans, a white collar shirt under a brown leather jacket that complimented his beautiful auburn hair. He looked back at me in utmost confusion, tried to ask me something, but I simply held on to him by the zipper of his open leather jacket, and pulled him closer, pressing my lips against his.

2…1

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

We kissed as everyone around us shouted and a million little pieces of confetti exploded over the room.

I could barely let out a decent breath. My heart was beating fast, like it would explode against my chest. It took him half a second to respond. I felt his breath on the tip of my nose, opened my eyes lids, saw him giving me a faint smile, then closed them again and our lips met once more. His tongue slipped inside my mouth, gentle, yet almost demanding. His hands were on my hips, grounding me so I wouldn’t fly away. I felt like I was starting to levitate. Suddenly, the rest of the world disappeared and my body dissolved into his soft lips. The oxygen leaving my brain, emptying me of any thoughts.

When our lips finally parted, we both took a deep breath. I licked my lips, brushing my hand slowly over them. “I’m sorry, I-“

“No worries.” He said, his hands still firm on my hips.

“I didn’t mean to-“

“Kiss me?”

“Yes. Something like that!” I gave him an embarrassed smile and ran one hand through my hair, placing a loose lock behind an ear. “I’m sorry, I’ve got a friend and she set me up with a guy, so I could kiss him at midnight, because she says it’s bad luck if you don’t, but-“

“Where is this poor guy right now?”

“Honestly,” I started, giving the room a look, yet unable to locate him. “I’ve got no idea.”

“Anyways… We don’t want to cross our luck, now, do we?” He went on, freeing my body and holding a hand for me to shake. “I’m Jamie, by the way.”

“Claire Beauchamp.” I introduced myself, giving it a polite shake.

“Happy New Year, Claire.”

“Happy New Year.”

“So…”

“Sorry, I was actually just about to leave.”

“Already?”

“Well, I-“ We stood awkwardly in the middle of the crowd who now gathered on the floor to dance the night away.

“Do ya fancy a drink, Claire?”

He was handsome, tall, and dreamy, with kind eyes and short tamed curls that framed his face perfectly. I didn’t reply, simply nodded, unsure if I’d regret my decision of not going home instead. He led me to the bar, where he asked for two glasses of champagne and we found a small table where we could sit. “So, what brings you to Edinburgh?”

“Work, a new job. I’m a nurse. I guess I’m looking forward to a… new beginning.” I gave him a faint smile, bringing the glass of champagne to my lips. I stopped before I could take another sip when my eyes fell on my hands. Just three months ago, there would be an engagement ring on my finger. Now, there should be a wedding band to go with it. I should be married by now, to Frank. I should’ve had a newlywed glow about me. We had decided to set the date around Christmas and have a small wedding, with our closest friends and family as witnesses to our commitment. When we broke the engagement, I wanted nothing but to find an escape. Scotland seemed like as good as any other place to start all over, away from the memories that still haunted me.

“To new beginnings!” He raised his glass and I did so as well. “I’m glad ye came, to Scotland, I mean… and that we got the chance to meet. Moving isn’t easy.”

“I know. I mean, I still got pretty much everything in boxes. The living room is a war zone at this point. And you should see my bedroom!”

“I should, huh?”

“Oh- I mean… my bedroom is a mess of unorganized crap. I mean… I’m not unorganized, but I haven’t found the courage to sort out my clothes. At this point, I’m living on scrubs and precisely three shirts, a pair of old jeans and I should definitely buy new underwear. And… stop talking.”

He grinned at my awkwardness and I felt my ears burn in embarrassment.

“I’ve lived in the same house since I was born and ye should see my bedroom. My mother used to scold me for leaving socks on the bed, ye know… under the sheets, right at the bottom.” Jamie said, in an effort to make me feel less mortified. “She’d find these huge lumps under the bedcover, only to find my missing socks. I canna begging to tell ye how many times I got grounded over it.”

“It is pretty nasty, if you ask me.”

“What? Leaving socks lost on the sheets?”

“Definitely! I hope I don’t find any socks in your sheets these days.”

“Hopefully ye won’t.”

I laughed. Then, took another sip of my drink, calmed myself as much as I could, praying the conversion could take another turn as my cheeks started to feel warm with the heat of embarrassment. I noticed how he kept his eyes on me, how his ears turned red as well and how he had barely touched the glass of champagne sitting on the table.

“Not a fan of champagne?”

“Oh, no… it’s just that I’m a whisky guy.”

“Whisky?”

“Don’t like it?”

“It’s not favorite drink.”

“Maybe ye just havena tried a good one, yet,” He said, leaning forward. His leg was now touching mine under the table, and I could smell the intense odor of his cologne. “I produce whisky. Really good whisky, by the way.”

“Guess I should try it, then.”

“Remind me to give ye a bottle the next time we meet.”

“So, we’ll meet again?” I asked, taking my chances, knowing I wasn’t all that bad in the game of flirting.

“I like the sound of that. Don’t ye?”

There was something about his smile that I couldn’t explain, a sort of warmth I wasn’t used to. Or perhaps it was the fact that over the past few months I became so used to seeing only the bad things in people, in myself, I didn’t care to look over the dark cloud I was wrapped in. Jamie had a different kind of lightness.

We spend some time talking about whisky, his family’s company and how he inherited it after his father passed away three years ago. He asked about my work, and I talked about the hazards of being a nurse, my meanest patients and my call to helping people and making desire to making a difference in the lives of those who were suffering. We talked about Scotland and how it always seemed to be raining, and I told him about my travels with my uncle, how I grew up as a gypsy around the world. He happily described growing up in Lallybroch, the name of the estate that had been in his family since the eighteenth century, and I learned that he had studied in the university in France, that he knew how to speak French, Italian, a little bit of Spanish and had an ear for Mandarin. I told him one of my oddest hobbies was to gather plants and study their medicinal properties. He told me he liked spending time with his horses at home, that he’d rather be in the stables than at some business meeting in New York or London. I told him I liked walking to work, rather than driving my car. He owned a motorcycle, his pride and joy.

“Oh, so you rode here?”

“I did.”

“It’s explained then.”

“What is?”

“The leather jacket to a formal event.” I teased him. “I’m sure Louise was mortified when she saw you.”

“Ye know Louise Stuart?”

“She’s a friend of mine, yes.”

“I’m a friend of Charles.”

“Lovely couple, aren’t they? I actually met them in Paris, when- never mind.” I stopped myself from speaking and grabbed my now empty glass of champagne. Glancing around the room, I saw the dancefloor was empty, the music playing was soft and the volume lower, and the guests were already leaving. Time with Jamie didn’t seem to pass, the conversation flowed easily. He was a true storyteller, fair with the details and kind enough to let me speak whenever I wanted to. I like the way he talked, with his Scottish accent getting heavier as the hours passed. I knew the evening was coming to an end, we should probably be leaving at any moment now, but I didn’t want to. I didn’t want the night to end.

“Wanna get out of here?” Jamie asked, as if he had read my mind. “

“Yes.”

“Did I tell ye I make the best toasts? ‘Cause I do! The best!”

“Oh really?”

“With loads of cheese.”

“I like cheese, but how are you supposed to prove you’re in fact the best toast maker in Edinburgh?”

He chuckled, stood up and held his hand up to pick mine. “Come on, lass. I’ll show ye!”

 

*

He called for a taxi and brought me to his home, Lallybroch. The house was nice, big but warm, inviting, walls covered with pictures telling the family’s history. I sat on a stool on the kitchen island, while Jamie went around preparing the infamous toast. He had taken off his leather jacket, and rolled his sleeves up to his elbows. The hairs on his arms were light colored, almost golden, and he had a vein on his right arm that popped whenever he made a movement.

“Brace yourself, lass! This is gonna blow yer mind.”

“Oh, I’m ready!”

He presented the plate with a bow and I tilted my head back with a giggle. “Well, thank you!”

I didn’t realize I was hungry, until I took the first bite. He wasn’t lying. That was indeed the best toast I had ever eaten in my entire life. “This… is … amazing!”

“Told ya, huh!” He clicked his tongue, and turned to a cabinet where he picked two glasses. “And now, the whisky.”

He looked with excitement as I took a sip. The moment the strong taste of the liquid touched my lips, my eyes shut and teared a little. It wasn’t that I was not used to drinking, I’ve had my fair share of tequila and vodka partying as a young university student. But this particular drink, even though rich and creamy, made my mouth feel suddenly burning.

“And?”

“It’s good. It’s really good.”

The review seemed to please him, as he gave me a huge grin before taking his own glass and joining me. I wondered for a minute if this was his game, his way of bringing random women home, charming his away to a lot more than eating toasts and trying on whisky. He seemed genuine, though. I couldn’t tell why or how, but I trusted him. It was like we had met before, in a past lifetime. I felt at ease, even though he was a perfect stranger. I wasn’t the type of girl who’d walk home with a man for a one night stand. Yet, here I was. Almost 4 am and I wanted nothing more but to stay.

“Well, it’s quite late,” I said, moving on my seat and standing up.

“Depends on the perspective, really. 4 am sounds pretty early to me.”

“I should probably go, though. I don’t want to bother you and tomorrow-“

“Do you have to go to work tomorrow?” He asked, taking another sip of his drink, glimpsing at me over his glass.

“Actually, I don’t.” I knew where he was getting, he wanted me to stay as much as I didn’t want to leave. I had the next two days off, and to be fair, the thought of going back to my cold, empty apartment wasn’t as inviting as the thought of spending the night with this handsome man.  

He gave me a tender look, and took a deep breath. “So?”

“It’s late. If I stay…”

“If you stay, what?”

I inhaled deeply, looked around the room and lowered my eyes. “If I stay, we…We should probably go to bed.”

Jamie put the glass down with an intense stare, cleared his throat and asked, “To bed or to sleep?”

I took a second or two to respond, words escaped me and my heart raced. “Well…”

I had been dying to feel his lips on mine, and now, watching as he looked at me from across the kitchen island, I could feel my body’s energy rise. His piercing blue eyes looked like a moonlight pool as he kept undressing me with one single stare. I licked my upper lip, almost as an invitation for him to come closer. Jamie, taking the clue, smiled and approached me in silence. I wished I had the strength to stop, to go home, to avoid the mistake of letting his lips fall on mine again, for if they did, I wouldn’t be able to walk away from the handsome man standing in front of me. But perhaps, just maybe, this wasn’t going to be a mistake, but the best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.

I turned to face him when he stopped behind me and he waited, before placing one set of fingers on the fabric of my dress, I could feel it glued to my skin, burning. Jamie’s hand then went around my back, tracing my spine, so lightly I could barely feel it. I turned around and leaned over, watching him lick his lips before moving his head closer to mine. I closed my eyes and let go, allowing myself to feel the bittersweet taste of whisky on his breath. My heart skipped a bit when our lips touched at last and I had to hold on to the hem of his shirt to prevent from falling apart right then and there.

“Claire-” he breathed upon me, begging me to take him without further question. I nodded, complying, without daring to open my eyes. I kissed him deeply, letting my tongue crash into his. His unfamiliar flavor suddenly becoming all I’ve ever dreamed to taste. Intoxicated by him, I let my hand wonder about his shirt, unbuttoning it as quickly as I could and when the last button finally came undone, he dropped the white shirt on the kitchen floor. I held my hands on the sides of his torso and stared at him, mesmerized, finding myself to be blushing a little, imagining he could only be described as a godlike figure.

Then, I felt his hands on my tights and with a swift move he pulled me up and the next second I was sitting on the island countertop. I opened my legs and his hand gently reached out under my dress, grabbing the hem of my panties. I moaned a soft don’t and he looked at me, surprised, unsure if he should carry on.

“Don’t stop”, I moaned again, louder this time. He smirked and looked at my bright blushed face with a sense of pride. Using both hands now he pulled my black laced panties down. I gasped for air and held him closer, intertwining my fingers on his hair. His mouth found mine once more. With a deep kiss, he reached under again, touching my wet center with two fingers, making me shiver. “Jamie-“ I started, my mind emptied of everything but him. Small waves of pleasure already coming through. “-now!” I want you now, was what I meant to say, but the words came out with a guttural sound and he didn’t think twice before carrying me in between kisses out of the kitchen and down the hall.

I don’t know if it took a minute or a second but soon enough he laid me on the bed. I looked up and saw him staring at me like no one had had before. His eyes full of passionate desire, burning through me. Reaching for his black jeans, I helped him pull them down. When he bent to kiss me, I somehow managed to turn us around. Cradling him against the mattress, I moved my attention to his neck, then to his collarbones, switching between leaving a path of kisses behind and a few bites along the way that made him toss and turn his head in pleasure. His hands traveled to my legs, all the way up to my waist, lifting my dress in the process, exposing me. In between my wet tights, I could feel his bulge growing harder, strapped in his dark blue boxers.

The only light brightening the room was coming through the window, the full moon was shining high on the dark night sky outside. As he took a couple of minutes to look at me, I felt rather shy. The wild curls of my hair were framing my face and falling down my shoulders. The skin on my chest was perky from the chilly night air and my nipples hard as rocks. He sit up, taking my full breasts into his mouth, one at a time, and I grabbed him by the neck, allowing his tongue to explore as it liked. Unconsciously, I started to rock against him and he groaned, daring me to free him from the piece of fabric that was between us. I never wanted anyone like this before.

Our lips touched again when he moved our bodies, pinning me against the mattress. His underwear was on the floor now, lost along my dress. I reached, ignoring the hairs on top of his pubic bone and grabbed his length, feeling him hard on my hand. Jamie let his head fall on the crook of my neck and I felt his heavy breath upon me. I stroke him a few times, but when it proved to be enough, he shook his head, broke free from my grip and started dropping long kisses on my stomach, making my blood boil. I would have let him touch me anywhere, as long as his fingertips didn’t melt my skin along the way. I was sure I would dissolve into nothing if he kept going. So, I held his chin up, tucked my under lip in between my teeth and without a single word, he understood that I was ready to have him.

He grabbed my left leg and I prayed his name out loud, digging my nails onto his back when he entered me. I focused on the way he moved, on the way he sounded inside of me, on the rhythm our bodies found together. His stare was fixed on mine with each thrust and I couldn’t help but to cry out, begging for more again, and again. My moans, acting like a fuel as he went harder, faster, deeper. I was unsure if I was finding my way to heaven or a path down to hell. My soul was leaving my body, the flames of my own desire taking me places I never thought I could ever be.

He growled softly under his breath, knowing I was close when I tightened my grip around him. I wasn’t even moaning at that point, simply grasping on to the bed cover for dear life, breathing heavily. My mind was blank, floating in pure bliss. He thrusted deep again, and the loud moan I let out made my throat hurt, as my mouth suddenly became too dry.

“Claire… Claire.” He mumbled my name almost as a warning, but I knew he was close as well. In that moment, I felt my walls come undone, a wave of pleasure hitting my like a wave hits the shore in the middle of a storm, raw and frantic. His thrusts were now increasing in speed, deeper, somehow sloppier with the need of breaking loose.

I closed my eyes at the feeling of being filled with a steam of hot liquid when he hit his own orgasm, panting, holding him close with my legs wrapped around his waist. He was still cumming inside of me when his arms crumbled and he let the weight of his body crash into mine. We held each other for a moment, half dozed, in a state of pure ecstasy. His body, glorifying mine in a way I could only describe as the moment two souls finally come together.

Before he slid out of me, Jamie leaned over and placed a soft kiss in between my brows, then another on my lips. I could feel the wetness drip down my tights when he placed himself next to me on the bed, heavily breathing, with sweat running down his chest. I looked at the ceiling, trying to catch my own breath. My body, a mix of fluids and sweat, was now starting to shake, both with excitement and cold.  

“Ye’re shivering”, Jamie said, with worried expression on his face, jumping quickly to pull the cover and open the bed for me.

I buried my nose on the pillow underneath my head, a web of dark curls spread all over it. Jamie smiled, turned to the side to look at me. Then, running a finger along my hair, he took a lock and placed it behind my ear. I smiled back at him, noticing the fresh scent of clean recently changed sheets, still lingering with the delicate perfume of fabric softener on them. We stood in silence, with the sound of our beating hearts as the soundtrack.

My mind kept drifting away, making me think about the fact that I had never done anything like this before, coming home with a stranger, having unprotected sex with them, laying on his bed and wishing for nothing more than to do it again. I thought about Frank, and the engagement ring that was supposed to be on my finger. What would he say to this? He probably had a lot to say, but no morals to do so, considering…

“Claire-“ My thoughts were cut off by the sound of Jamie’s husky voice. He had a raised brow and a serious expression on his face. “For a woman as skinny as ye, ye sure have the roundest arse”, Jamie said lifting one hand under the sheets and placing it over my bare bottom, giving it a quick nip. I had in fact lost weight in between finding a new job, moving to another city and running away from my fiancé, but by God, my ass still looked good.

“I suppose you’re telling me that’s my only good feature.”

“Not a chance.” Jamie went on, pulling me in. I instinctively tangled my legs with his, closing the small space between us. “All yer features are good. Ye’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.”

I giggled like a teenage girl with a crush, felt my cheeks blush and had to lower my eyes to escape from his prevailing stare. Then, I grabbed his wrist, took his hand to my mouth and planted one kiss on his palm.

“Will ye stay?” Jamie asked, but I noticed in his tone that the words didn’t come out quite as a question, more like a request. I would’ve stayed, regardless.

I placed one last kiss on the crook of his neck, then closed my eyes and whispered in his ear. “As long as you want me to.” With that, he held his grip tighter around me, and I found a warm spot to rest my head on his chest, right above his heart. The night was already turning into dawn, the New Year’s Eve morphing into a new day.

Then, suddenly, I heard a warm voice vibrate through him. “Who are ye, Claire Beauchamp?”

“I could ask you the same question,” I shyly said, running one finger across his stomach. “I don’t even know your last name.”

He chuckled and raised his head just enough to place his right arm under it. “Fraser. James Fraser.”

He was no less a stranger than he was a few seconds ago, but knowing his last name gave me a sense of reassurance that even though I didn’t know him at all, I might as well had known him all of my life.