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That One Time

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15 years old

 

Jamie rubbed his sweaty palms on his trousers.  He stood before Claire’s front door, took a deep breath, relaxed his shoulders and knocked.  

 

Henry Beauchamp answered.  “Well hullo there, Jamie!  Come in!”

 

He opened the door wider and motioned for Jamie to enter.  Suddenly, Jamie didn’t know what to do.  Normally, he would have bounded back to Claire’s room and they would’ve done whatever they had decided to get up to as mates.  

 

But now, they weren’t just mates.  He had crossed the line to ‘Claire’s date’.

 

This wasn’t usual.

 

He shifted feet awkwardly, hands jammed into his pockets, and stood rooted in place.  Henry crossed the room to his chair and sat down.  Motioning to the sofa, he said, “Have a seat Jamie.  She’s almost ready.”

 

Jamie sat and placed Claire’s corsage on the table (his Mam had picked out two of her best silky white roses and surrounded them with sprigs of purple heather).

 

“And how are Brian and Ellen doing?  We’ve missed seeing them lately, what with them being busy on the farm and all.”

 

“Mam and Da are fine.  Mam has been working in the garden, o’ course, and Da is working on the crops as usual.  The whisky distillery keeps them busy, otherwise.”

 

Henry nodded.  He pursed his lips and frowned a bit.  

 

Jamie dreaded this.  His Da warned him it might be coming.  

 

“Jamie, lad, I realize that you and Claire have been playmates for...well, since nearly birth.  I trust that you both have a...er...respect for each other because of that.”

 

“Aye.”  He tried to sit up straighter.  

 

“Well,” Henry cleared his throat, “I just hope you treat her like the lady that she is and remember your manners, is all.  I trust you and know you come from a good family.  I just wouldn’t like to see my little girl hurt.  See?”

 

“Aye.  I’d never hurt Claire.”

 

“I know you wouldn’t, son.  Now, I realize you are driving now and I just want to remind you that you are carrying the person I hold most precious.  So mind your speed and all that.”

 

“Aye, sir.”

 

“And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you to keep your...well,” he motioned vaguely with his hand.

 

“Aye!”  Jamie interrupted.  “Da warned me, quite severely, how to act like a gentleman...and such like.”  Jamie reddened.

 

“Indeed.  Well.  Good, good.”

 

Well, that was awkward.

 

At that moment, Julia came down the stairs and announced, “She’s just coming.”  Both men issued drawn out sighs of relief, knowing that they were saved by the figurative bell.

 

Jamie and Henry stood and turned toward the stairs.  He saw a completely different Claire standing there than he had been mates with all these years.  

 

Her long dark, unruly curls were tamed into beautiful waves down her back, with the front gathered up on top and secured with a sparkly silver barrette.  She wore a short cream-colored dress with a filmy short skirt that showed her long legs to their best advantage.  On her feet were matching strappy heels.  She had the perfect amount of makeup on her face (she’d never worn makeup before, to the best of his knowledge) that highlighted her complexion.  

 

She was beautiful.  He was fairly sure he had forgotten how to breath.

 

She slowly descended the stairs, minding her step as she carefully navigated them in her unfamiliar heels.  

 

Julia and Henry, arms entwined, looked at him expectantly and smiled.

 

Jamie mentally shook himself and picked up the corsage and walked over to her.  

 

Claire studied him, dressed in his best dark navy suit, and whispered, “Hallo.”

 

He cleared his voice, lest it crack embarrassingly, and said, “Hey.”

 

He offered her the box of flowers that Mam had prepared.  “Mam sent this for ye.  She said she had talked to Julia and made this to match yer wee dress.”

 

Claire opened the box and gasped.  “Oh Jamie.  They are beautiful.  Thank you.”

 

“Would ye like me tae help ye put them on?”

 

“Yes, that would be nice.”

 

Ellen had shown Jamie how to affix the corsage to Claire’s dress straps.  They had practiced for what seemed like an hour before Jamie was able to master it without poking Jenny with the pins (he might have poked her a few times on purpose, though).  He fumbled awkwardly with Claire’s straps, trying ever so hard not to touch her creamy white skin (or take a glance at her cleavage, which was peeking over her bodice).  He finally managed to get it secure enough that it didn’t droop to the side and looked (mostly) straight.

 

He stepped back, then said, “Weel, we should be off, then.”

 

They headed for the door when Julia yelled, “Wait!  I nearly forgot pictures!  Come over here you two and let me get your picture before you leave.”  Julia lined them up where she wanted them.  Jamie and Claire nervously wrapped their arms around each other and smiled for the picture.  Julia took several shots of them, then assured them that she would text the best ones to each of them and Ellen as well.

 

Claire led the way to the door and Jamie shot around her to open it for her, mindful of his manners as Da had taught him.  Claire glanced at him startled and grinned shyly.  

 

As they walked down the sidewalk, Henry and Julia watched from the open door, arms wrapped around each other smiling as their baby walked away with their Brian and Ellen’s boy.  

 

Henry shouted, “Have her home by midnight!”

 

“Aye, sir.  I will.”