Jamie awoke from his dream slowly, hazily, with his hand wrapped tightly around himself. The dream was wrapped just as tightly round his mind, but he knew it would fray in seconds, shredded by the snores of the other grooms. He needed her, needed to spill himself with the feel of her touch still on him.
Hanks stirred in his sleep, chuckled loudly, said something incoherent, and fell back into the void, murmuring, “Bugger, bugger, bugger …”
Jamie had something similar on his mind and flung back his blanket. Damn the cold.
He made his way down the ladder into the half-warm, horse-smelling fug of the barn, nearly falling in his haste, ignoring a splinter in his bare foot. He hesitated in the dark, still urgent. The horses wouldn’t care, but if they noticed him, they’d make enough noise, perhaps, to wake the others.
Claire was still with him, vivid in his mind, solid in his hands. He could imagine that he smelled her hair in the scent of fresh hay. The memory of her mouth, those sharp white teeth…He rubbed his nipple, hard and itching beneath his shirt, and swallowed. He thought of John, licking his nipples, and shook his head.
His eyes were long accustomed to the dark; he found the vacant loose box at the end of the row and leaned against its boards, cock already in his fist, body and mind yearning for his lost wife.
He tried to make it last, but the dream was slipping from him. He slowed in his fisting, trying to hold to the memory. He closed his eyes and saw Claire's face, she was looking up at him as he slowly rocked into her mouth. He groaned and opened his eyes, checking his surroundings. When he closed them again, John was looking up at him and swirling his tongue over his manhood. His knees gave way in the aftermath and he slid slowly down the boards of the box into the loose piled hay, shirt rucked round his thighs and his heart pounding like a kettledrum.
Lord, that they might both be safe was his last conscious thought.
He awoke in his bed a few hours later and lay still, thinking of what had happened in the night. After he had been put to sleep by his lust, he had been awoken by Lady Isobel's maid, Betty, and she had cryptically told him there was an Irishman looking for him. Now, as he thought more about it, he realized that she had also likely witnessed his lewd actions, and try as he may, he couldn't remember if it were Claire's or John's name that fell from his lips when he finished. John. He hadn't seen him in a year, not since the night they had...He decided to put no more thought to that, Betty or what she may have seen, or the Irishman. He would be seeing William today, and he couldn't wait. He rose to begin his day of work.