A trail of kisses descending down her bare spine woke Claire from her slumber. Eyes closed, she basked in the familiarity of Jamie’s touch. Relishing its return, she smiled.
“Sassenach,” he whispered against her skin, placing a kiss in between her shoulder blades.
“No,” she mumbled, opening her eyes slowly. She didn’t know when she dozed off; she only knew she didn’t want to move.
Chuckling, the Scot kissed her cheek, stroking her hair back. “Ye dinna want to get up?”
Groaning, Claire turned around and looked at him, her whisky eyes getting used to the light in the room. “No, in fact, I’d rather not get up from bed today at all, my darling.”
“But ye need breakfast before ye leave for the library.” He caressed her cheek. “Not that I want to part from ye, but I dinna want ye to get in trouble.”
“I know,” she pouted, wrapping her arms around his neck. “But I won’t be able to have you all to myself for a little while, so I’d like to enjoy the time we do have as much as I possibly can.”
“Aye,” he agreed, kissing the tip of her nose. “But dinna fash, ye’ll soon see me every day. Ye canna get rid of me now.”
“Good.” Smiling, she closed the gap between them and sealed their lips tenderly.
It was a relief to have him back, but neither of them denied the complicated nature of their situation. Jamie would talk to Olivia; but even then, they could not be together as freely as they wished. Neither of them wanted to give the village anything to talk about, nor did they want to jeopardise Claire’s position at the library.
Jamie’s lips parted from hers to travel down her neck, lingering on the beauty mark there for a moment before continuing to her collarbones.
“Mhh.” Her smile grew as she bit her lower lip.
Goosebumps erupted over her porcelain skin as his lips continued down the path to her stomach, stopping at her breasts to give them the attention they deserved.
“Jamie...” she rasped, her back arching.
“Claire?” Abandoning his task briefly, he looked up and grinned.
“Don’t you want to eat?” she asked, looking down at him. The sheer lust plastered on his face cut her breath short.
“Aye.” His smirk broadened for a brief second before he resumed his task, lips trailing down to her navel.
The Scot kissed the inside of her thighs, scruffy chin rubbing against the soft and delicate skin of her leg. Breath tickling her skin, anticipation built inside the pit of her stomach. Managing to open her eyes once more, Claire sat up on her elbows and watched as he buried his face between her legs, inhaling her scent as he did.
“Oh.” She threw her head back, feeling the warmth of his breath.
He began to lick her folds, the lapping sounds filling the room. Claire began to writhe underneath him, trying to ride his face, but he put one hand on her stomach to hold her down. A fire was building inside her, her moans echoing like a melody created just for him. Claire’s leg came to rest on his shoulder, while his hand held her in place, languorously worshipping her.
She couldn’t think, her mind hazy and her eyes barely opened as she lost herself to this man. The only noises in the room came from her voice, smooth as honey, and whatever his mouth was doing to her. She grabbed the sheet, fist clutching it as though she was trying to maintain balance. Knees weak and legs trembling, she silently thanked God she was lying down.
What came next wasn’t what either of them expected.
The doorbell rang, and it felt like a bucket of ice water had been thrown on them. Claire opened her eyes at once, looking at Jamie as panic took over. She had no idea who it could be at the door. It could have been anyone. And no one could find her like this, especially with the Scot. Whoever it was, she prayed they would just go away.
Briefly looking at her, Jamie shook his head and went back to his task, determined to finish what he had started and throw her over the edge of pleasure. Another moan escaped her mouth, louder than the previous one.
“Shhh,” he mumbled before diving back in and flicking his tongue against her. It was so erotic to fall apart and yet try and stay silent.
The doorbell rang again, but this time Claire was too far away to care. Jamie gripped her hips and lifted her slightly upwards. He slid one hand underneath her and began to devour her faster. Claire turned her head to the side, burying her face into the pillows as she felt herself go, her entire body shaking with pleasure.
Breathless, it took her a second to gather herself, fingers running through his soft curls. For a moment, she forgot where she was and simply basked in contentment, the Scot’s head resting against her stomach. For a moment, all was well.
Then, the doorbell rang again.
“Shit!” She realised whoever was at the door was not going to go away; why would they? It was too early for her to be at the library, whoever it was knew she had to be home.
“Ye’re goin’?” he watched her, moving aside.
“I don’t have much of a choice,” she mumbled, getting up quickly. She managed to ignore her legs that felt like jelly and grabbed her robe.
“Hopefully, whoever it is doesn’t expect to come in for breakfast,” she sighed, looking at herself in the mirror. The sound of the doorbell grew more and more insistent with each passing second.
“I willna make a sound,” he promised, keeping his voice low.
Claire shot him a warning look and walked out of the room, closing the door. Once at the front door, she opened it slightly to see who had been ringing for the past five minutes.
“There ye are!” Orla grinned, looking at her with an amused expression. “I thought ye didna want to open the door for me, lass.”
“I’m sorry, I overslept and didn’t hear the bell.” She was a horrendous liar, but her landlady didn’t know that; and hopefully, it wasn’t written all over her face.
“Did ye do something to yer hair?” Orla frowned.
“My hair?” She touched her messy curls. “No, that’s just what it looks like when I wake up. Mad mad curls everywhere.”
“Can I help you with something ?” she asked, trying to keep Orla outside.
“I just wanted to check up on that boiler, make sure it was runnin’ all right? Perhaps I should have come by the library?”
“Yes, well it’s all working fine thank you!” She said, her pitch a little higher than normal. “Anyway, I’d best be getting ready for work…”
“Aye,” the other woman answered perplexedly, though seemingly quite amused. “I’ll see ye later then, lass.”
Before she could finish, a booming sneeze echoed behind her, coming from the bedroom at the end of the hall. Too loud to ignore both women just stood there.
“What was that?” Orla looked over Claire’s shoulder curiously.
“Must be the cat,” Claire said quickly, deciding it was better to look like a fool than a married man’s lover.
“Loud wee thing,” Orla grinned, her eyebrows raising. “Weel, I’ll be on my way,” she winked.
“Goodbye,” Claire answered, feeling relief wash over her as she shut the door.
Her day at the library was less eventful than the morning preceding it. Orla did visit as promised and thankfully didn’t bring up their earlier encounter at the door. They shared a cup of tea, talking about everything from the weather to the latest book Orla had borrowed before she went around the place to choose a few more.
Once Mrs Bug left, the library went back to being deserted and quiet, leaving Claire to her daily tasks of cleaning the shelves and organising the books. Her mind was too occupied with thoughts of Jamie to actually concentrate on anything more complicated than that, anyway.
Olivia was meant to come back sometime today or tomorrow. The uncertainty of her return had separated them prematurely, a precaution they both agreed to take. Once Olivia returned, Jamie would have a talk with his soon-to-be ex-wife; and from then, they’d see what they could do.
Divorce was an option easier said than done. It was nothing scandalous in Claire’s educated mind, but it was different here. Jamie had known these people all his life. Not only would this cause a stir, but they might cast him aside, too closed-minded to understand that sometimes, things didn’t work the way someone had hoped they would. Or that sometimes, people were not meant to be together until death do they part.
As for Claire, if word got out that they were together, she would be labelled a homewrecker at best, likely a whore at worst. She would lose what little reputation she had managed to gather and most likely, she’d lose her job. People would pressure Mr. Mackenzie to get rid of her if he didn't do it himself first.
Earlier in the morning, at the bakery, she had overheard two women talking about her in low tones. Whispering things about the librarian who had a tea date with that Englishman. She had almost forgotten about Jeremy completely.
The bell on the library door tinkled and Joe walked in.
“Hello, LJ,” he said, the usual charming smile on his face.
“Hey there,” she smiled down at him before descending from her ladder. “I’m glad you’re here, I wanted to talk to you about something!”
“Am I in trouble?” He grinned, removing his Panama hat.
“No, you’re not,” she chuckled and went to her desk. “But I have read your book of poetry.”
His eyes widened as he walked over to her. “And what did you think?”
“Well, I was wondering if you had another copy I could have? I’m keeping the one you gave me, but I’d like to add one to the poetry section.” She pointed behind them to one of the spotless shelves.
“Really?” He looked briefly behind him before turning back to her. “You want to do that?”
“Yes,” she smiled, leaning against her desk. “As much as I enjoy Yeats and Eliot, I do think my poetry section needs updating, and your book was beautiful. People around here would gain a lot from reading it. Granted, not many people come to the library, but the ones who do have very good taste and always welcome their librarian’s recommendations.”
“Fine,” he agreed, kissing her cheek. “I shall bring you another copy, pronto!”
“Thank you,” she smiled, crossing her arms. “So, what can I do for you now?”
“Well,” his smirk grew. “I’m here to find out about your date with Jeremy, of course. As a true gentleman, he didn’t divulge anything to Gale and me.”
“I’m afraid there isn’t much to divulge, Joe. We had a lovely time together and that was that. He’s a real gentleman, that’s for sure.”
“And...you want to go out with him again, don’t you? He said you agreed to join us at the pub.”
“Yes, I did agree to that, but as friends.” She adjusted her glasses. “I’m not really interested in starting something with a man that’ll be gone from Inverness in a few days. I’m sure he understands that.”
“Mmh,” Joe nodded, sitting down. “I guess he does. Oh well!”
“I’m sorry, Joe,” she said sincerely, feeling a tad guilty to have gone on a date with Jeremy only to make Jamie jealous.
“Don’t be,” he smiled, his eyes twinkling. “Something tells me you have your eye on someone else, LJ. If that’s the case and he makes you happy, that’s all the better!”
“What makes you say that?” She frowned, suddenly worried that a bite mark had become visible on her neck.
“There’s something about you. I can’t say what, but it’s there. When you walked over to me, it seemed that you were floating; and there’s a sparkle in your eyes that wasn’t there the last time I saw you. Since you’re telling me it’s not Jeremy, it must be another man.”
“You read too many books,” she chuckled, trying to brush it off.
“Maybe I do. But that’s the fastest way to understand the world we’re in and the people around us.” Getting up again, he put on his hat and winked.
“I’ll see you later, LJ, and I’ll bring the other copy of my book along!”
“Thank you,” she answered, watching him leave.
Joe was the second person today who suspected a change in Claire's demeanor...she’d need to be much more careful if she wasn’t going to give away what and who occupied her mind and heart.
Or the repercussions could be disastrous to both Jamie and herself.