"Jamie! Wake up!"
Jamie jolted awake, his sleepy eyes colliding with hers. Momentarily confuse and bewildered, his brows knitted together, probably taking in her morning wild hair appearance. She wouldn't be surprised if she'd shocked him into a heart attack. It wasn't her best look, as Frank had often enough pointed out in the past, but she didn't care. Claire cared more about telling Jamie about the award he'd missed. Surely, he should've known he had been nominated for the award. How could this have happened? His moment of glory gone because they've decided to leave the awards early last night.
Jamie adjusted his focus, and as he gradually lowered his eyes to her naked breasts, a slow, slumberous smile began to spread across his handsome face. He looked so soft and boyish in the morning sunlight streaming in from the window, making his eyes almost translucent. Damn! Her heart skipped a beat, and her mouth went dry, already forgetting what she wanted to tell him. His hair, wild and unruly, was lazily mussed and intertwined into beautiful coppery chaos reminding her of burnt orange sunset over Cullen Bay. Before she could utter a word, he suddenly yanked her against him.
"Jamie ..." she protested, her voice sounding whiney to her ears. She barely had time to register what he was about to do next when she was suddenly pushed onto her back and her wrists pinned above her head. He settled between her legs, making her aware of their nakedness and his impressive erection. "Jamie, we don't have time for this. We need to ..."
"Good morning," he whispered, bracing himself on his elbows and nudging his nose onto hers.
She twisted in his hold. "Good morning to you too, but let me up first and let me get my phone. I have to show you something."
"Sassenach," he said, in a warning tone. "This is not up for discussion, especially at this time of the morning. I've been looking forward to this weekend, and we have naewhere to go to. I'm no' letting ye out of this bed anytime soon. Ye can either get on board with that, or I'm going to have to subdue ye. Understood?"
"Jamie ...you don't understand. The news ...I was just reading ..."
"I dinnae care about the news." He lowered his face, his lips brushing hers. "I ken already we'd be on the papers after last night. Ye shouldnae be reading it. I'm already expecting a lot of speculations from those reporters because they didnae get an interview from us."
Jamie's phone rang from the bedside table.
"You better get that. It's probably about the award you ..."
Ignoring his phone, he growled and shoved his face into her neck, and she wriggled and laughed as he nipped and bit at the sensitive skin. When she continued to struggle, he laid his full weight against her to keep her still.
"Yield," he ordered into her ears.
"Never in your life!" She tried to buck him off, but it was an impossibility. With all those hard muscles and his height, he weighed a ton. She huffed in defeat and went still. "Fine. You win."
"Good lass." He gave her a self-satisfied smile before rolling off and pulling her back into the cage of his arms. One hand slid down her back and slapped her bum. "On a related note, how suspicious do ye think everyone would be if we both turn off our phones, sneak out of Glasgow and fly to Paris?"
She smiled. "Very. But it might be worth it to avoid all the questions that are about to come your way. But imagine all the speculations you'll stir if we go missing, not to mention how worried your family or my uncle would be."
He closed his eyes and held her tighter. "Och aye? What speculation do ye think the reporters will come up with this time?"
She lightly ran a finger over his shoulder and watched in fascination as goosebumps appeared on his skin. "They'll probably think we've eloped," she whispered. Realising what she just said, her eyes widened. Oh, fiddlesticks! Claire hadn't meant to say that, but it just came out of the blue. With Frank, she always had to be careful what came out of her mouth, but with Jamie, it was so easy to speak her mind.
He cracked one eye open and grinned. "Now there's a thought."
She'd half expected Jamie to jump out of bed, after that comment she made, but surprise, surprise, he didn't. "It was a joke!" she grumbled, annoyed with her slip-up.
"Jokes often have hidden meaning."
"Not this one!"
"How come ye're blushing then?"
"It's warm, and you won't let me go!"
Jamie chuckled. "Ye want to marry me," he teased.
"No, I don't!"
He arched an eyebrow, his lips twitching in amusement. "Ye don't?"
"Ye'd be the first then."
Arrogant bastard! She slapped his arm and tried to wriggle out of his hold once more. "Jamie, enough of this silliness and let me up. You have to read the news. You're never going to believe this ..."
He looked down at her and seized her chin. "Stubborn woman, what shall I do about ye, huh?" he murmured, against her lips. When she continued to struggle, he lowered his head and kissed her softly, deep and languorous until she softened in his arms and the world fell away. When they finally drew apart, she was breathless, and he was smiling. "So ...now that I've had my morning kiss ..." he whispered, in between teasing her with his lips and tongue, "...what is it ye so badly want to tell me? Mind, whatever the press wrote, I wouldnae be surprised. Nothing shocks me anymore with those lot."
Claire took a deep breath and put a hand on his chest to stop him from distracting her any further. "You won an award last night, and we left before they could present it to you," she blurted out really fast, in case he interrupted her again mid-sentence.
He frowned and went quiet.
"Jamie?" She palmed his cheeks, relishing the feel of his stubbles against her hand.
He sighed, flopping onto his back and pulling her into him. "That's impossible, Sassenach. There were only eight awards. By the time we left, seven had been already announced, and the final award couldnae have been for me. I havenae played rugby for over a year. There must have been some kind of mistake or misunderstanding. That Quincy bloke did go over the top when he called me up on stage to present the award like I was the one receiving it."
She grinned. "You really have no idea how special you are. There were two more awards announced after we left. And the very last one was for you. And it was Prince Harry who announced and presented it." Before he could tighten his hold on her, she scrambled away and grabbed her phone from the foot of the bed. She swiped the screen and opened the link Geillis had sent her. "Here, read this."
Sitting up and leaning back against the headboard, Jamie took the phone from her hand and read the headline. Claire watched the confusion unfold on his face. "B-but there's nae such award ..." he muttered.
Claire snuggled closer to his side and looked at the screen of her phone with him. "Ssshh! Just read it!"
JAMES FRASER DISAPPEARED WITH RUMOURED GIRLFRIEND BEFORE HE WAS ANNOUNCED BBC SPORTS PERSONALITY OF THE DECADE
Scotland's former rugby union star and captain, James Fraser rode a wave of public support to become the BBC's Sports Personality of the Decade, the first award of its kind to be presented by BBC.
Fraser has been shortlisted several times for BBC Sports Personality of the Year since the beginning of his career and came second of the public vote two years in a row before he was forced into retirement due to a sporting injury. When it was announced in the press Fraser was bowing out of rugby union, his fans united behind the sports star by garnering more than 70,000 signed petition sent to BBC requesting to acknowledge his dedication and contribution to sports.
The petitions didn't only come from fans but from various sports foundations supporting youth around the UK and social media platforms with the popular hashtag #scrumitlikefraser. It was only recently reported that Fraser, over the years, often donated a considerable amount of money and offered his time to give a speech of encouragement to underprivileged youths without any press coverage. Fraser's charitable works were never made public as he'd requested in return for his time and money, reports of his activities on social media were to be prohibited, essentially not wanting to draw news outlets' attention to himself.
A spokesperson for the BBC revealed, the 29-year-old received endorsements from several big names in sports who knew about his aid work despite him not having played rugby for over a year. Jonny Wilkinson, a former English rugby union player and a 2003 winner of the BBC award, amongst others on social media, helped to rally the vote and the fans' petition, surpassing the public vote on Mo Farrah, this year's BBC Sport's Personality of the Year winner.
After Prince Harry gave a passionate motivational speech to end the evening's sports event, he surprised the audience by revealing the new category to the award and announcing Fraser as the winner. Unfortunately, the former rugby union star had already left after presenting an award himself earlier that evening. Realising Fraser wasn't there to claim his trophy, the young prince grinned for the camera, and gave his parting words, "James Fraser, wherever you are, congratulations, and I hope you're enjoying your win."
Jamie dropped her phone on the mattress after he was done reading the news article and let out a long whistle.
"Well?" Claire breathed. "What do you have to say about that?"
He gave her a lopsided smile as he settled her at the crook of his arm. "Weel, upside to leaving early, I didnae have to do tedious interviews. Might as well, as the reporters would have been more interested in asking who ye are than about my win."
"That's probably true. But what I was trying to point out was, you have real fans out there who admire you for your achievements in sports and charity, and they're the ones who pushed BBC to recognise that. Those fans knew the real you. I had no idea you were helping some sports foundation. I bet the news outlets hadn't a clue as well. They're more intent on digging stories about your private life than concentrating on your contribution to society."
He stroked her hair. "It doesnae matter, Sassenach. That's the nature of being a public figure. I will release a statement later on Twitter thanking the fans and BBC, but I will not be doing any interviews. I will no' have much to say to the press anyway, other than what I will write on social media."
She slid her arm across his waist and laid her head on his chest. "You're amazing, you know that? That's why I love you."
As soon as she said those words, he tipped her chin, his face a moving range of emotions. "A lot of people say that to me every day - people who don't even know me. But ye ... ye're the one person I crave to hear it from. I wouldnae mind if ye say it more often." He cupped her face and stared into her eyes. "I used to think that I'm no' meant for a relationship like Jen and Ian or my ma and da. But I have a feeling that fate brought us together. Because of all the people who had to be there as ye were trying to jump out of the church window on yer wedding day, it had to be me. I sort of knew it already that day ye kissed me in Lallybroch, but ye were too bloody stubborn to recognise it, and ye had to run away. But I'm glad I found ye again."
He kissed her and pushed her onto her back, covering her body with his. When Jamie was like this, it was almost too hard to handle. There were so much strength and vulnerability wrapped around his sweet heart, she wanted to weep.
"You do say the sweetest things, Mr Fraser," she whispered, feeling breathless. "Keep it up, and I'll never be able to resist you."
"Mmmm ..." He dragged his lips along her jawline and pressed his erection between her legs. "So does that mean if I asked ye to live with me when we get back to Edinburgh, ye'll say yes?"
She laughed, lifting her hips and urging him forward. "How about we start off with sleep-overs at each other's places and take it from there?"
"Sounds fair," Jamie replied, his voice sounding tight. He let out a quiet moan as he slid inside her before going still. "Does that mean I get a key to yer wee cottage too? It does need a lot of repairs, like yer wonky curtain rail and a missing hinge in yer kitchen cupboard."
He began to move, slow and restrained, and she breathed in time with his thrusts. "A-an excellent deal ...a key for repairing bits and bobs around the house. I definitely can't turn that down."
He leaned in to kiss her. "And I can cook too." He closed his eyes and muttered a curse when she grabbed his buttocks and pressed him deeper against her. "And make mean pasta sauce ..."
"And you talk too much." She gripped his hair and pulled him for another kiss to shut him up. They made long, sweet love all morning. It was one of those moments where everything else other than him retreated into the background, and he came into perfect focus - beautiful, hopeful Jamie. Even though she knew they have to sort through a few messes along the way to make their relationship work, she was convinced more than ever Jamie was here for the long haul.
The following weekend, they all piled out of two taxis and stood outside Lulu Nightclub at George Street. They as in, all the Fraser siblings, Ian, Geillis and a handful of Joe's friends from work. They've just had a lovely dinner celebrating Joe's birthday at Bodega, a laidback Mexican restaurant in the busy port district of Edinburgh, Leith. With the night still young and Margaritas humming in their veins, they all decided to extend Joe's birthday celebration at a club.
There was already a throng of people waiting to get in by the time they arrived at their destination. With everyone in their own party loud and buzzing with excitement, it didn't take long before they caught the attention of a handful of clubbers and Jamie was recognised. Despite the unwanted attention, being a minor celebrity also came with handy perks.
The moment the bouncer saw Jamie, they were all quickly ushered in before they could be swarmed. It may have been unfair to those who had been waiting in the queue, but chaos was instantly prevented.
Taking Claire's hand in his, Jamie put his other hand at the small of her back and guided her through the club, the rest of the group not far behind. They were approached by a smiling beautiful blonde who ignored her and had eyes only for Jamie. By now, Claire was used to it.
"Good evening, Mr Fraser. What a surprise! My name is Morag, and I'm here to take care of yer needs," the blonde cooed, fluttering her eyelashes seductively. It seemed the security had been quick to alert the staff of their arrival and blondie looked thrilled to be assigned as their hostess.
Claire tamped down the urge to roll her eyes as Morag continued to openly flirt. As if reading her mind, Jamie curled his arm around her waist and pulled her in. "We're a party of twelve. If we can have a private room or an area with some privacy, that would be grand," he replied.
Giving Claire a dismissive glance, Morag kept the smile plastered on her face. "Very well, if ye can all follow me, this way please," she said before turning to lead the way.
Although the flashing lights were distracting, Claire noticed the gold velvets, cut glass lighting and state of the art, backlit wall. In as much as she appreciated the decor, she wasn't used to nightclubs and had always favoured pubs to over-priced establishments. R&B music blasted through the speakers, as gyrating bodies jammed the dancefloor and staff shimmied in and out of the crowd.
By the time they all made it to their private room, she relaxed a bit and sat at one of the high tables, while the rest of the group plonked down at the plush sofas. She was surprised it wasn't cut off from the rest of the club. There was a glass wall that gave you a perfect view of the dancefloor. She wondered if people from the outside could see them.
"There is a bouncer right outside, and ye'll have yer own bartender to prepare ye whatever you want from the bar," Morag explained. "The champagne we've placed on the table is on the house. If there is anything else ye need, just ask the bar staff or ask for me."
Jamie thanked Morag and turned his attention to her, wrapping his arms around her waist. "Happy?" he murmured next to her ear. She turned her head and felt his lips tipped up into a smile against her neck.
"I'm happy when I'm with you," she replied, feeling the music working its way into her bloodstream. "But this place is so posh. The drinks must cost an arm and a leg."
He pulled her against him, resting her head on his chest as she watched the dancers on the dancefloor. "It's a one-off, Sassenach. We're not only celebrating Joe's birthday, but we're also celebrating the end of yer temp job."
"And your award from last week," she added, smiling. "But I'm officially unemployed. Again!"
"About that," he started, linking their hands together and pressing kisses at the side of her neck. "I'm going to see my lawyer, Ned first thing Monday morning. There's a possibility ye could go back to the Royal Infirmary to finish yer residency."
"But Frank ..."
"I ken," he said, tightening his hold around her. "We'll see what Ned says and take it from there. There are other hospitals where ye can apply for yer residency program. All I know so far, Frank is suspended and still under investigation by the board."
"Good." She closed her eyes and tried to relax, but she couldn't help the shudder that coasted down her back.
"I won't let anything harm ye, ye know that don't ye?" he murmured.
"I know," she sighed.
Geillis suddenly appeared in front of them, breaking their connection. "I was gonnae say, get a room, but I want my friend, Jamie. Ye've been hogging her all week."
Jamie laughed out loud. "By all means," he said, unlinking their hands and hesitantly stepping away. "As long as ye both dinnae get into too much trouble." He turned to Claire and gave her a brief kiss. "I'll be with the lads."
"I'll join you later. I feel like trying the dancefloor..." Claire trailed off as Geillis started to pull her away from Jamie and tug her out of their private party room.
"C'mon lass, let's go to the main bar. It's the only way I'll find my own Jamie," she shouted over the loud music.
Claire rolled her eyes. "Fine, but it's my treat."
"Suit yersel'," Geillis grinned. "Yer the one with a millionaire boyfriend."
Claire glanced back at their glassed private room as they walked further away to the main bar. Although it was dimmed, Jamie and the rest of the group were still visible to the outsiders. She could only hope no one would notice Jamie and that the bouncer would be enough to keep any lurkers at bay.
The main bar was crowded, but they were served swiftly enough. After getting two Dirty Martinis, they settled on the barstools and turned their attention to the dancefloor.
"We'll dance in a bit, aye?" Geillis chirped.
Claire was only half-listening as she saw a familiar figure on the other end of the bar. "Oh fuck," Claire muttered. With so many bodies moving about, she wasn't quite sure if he was with someone.
"What? What is it, hen?" Geillis craned her neck forward and tried to follow the direction of her gaze.
"Jamie's ex-agent," Claire shouted to her friend's ear.
"What? Where? That hot blond there?"
Claire nodded. "Don't go near him, Geillis. He might be easy on the eyes, but he's a rat!"
Geillis took a sip of her drink and slumped. "Ah, bloody hell! All the good looking guys are either taken, a rat or gay."
Claire waggled her eyebrows. "Willie is single," she suggested.
"Not my type," Geillis grumbled. "I like 'em dirty blonde."
"You like them dirty, period," Claire laughed, turning sideways to face Geillis so that Forbes wouldn't see her. She was about to take another sip of her drink when her phone started to vibrate in her purse. Holding up a finger to her friend, she answered her phone and began to move towards the main entrance. "Mrs Crook? Sorry, give me a sec. I'm in a club, and I'm just heading out."
Geillis followed her outside. When they finally faced each other, her friend's brows drew together, giving her a questioning look.
Claire listened to her uncle's neighbour, who she only knew as Mrs Crook. The elderly lady rambled about her uncle collapsing outside of his apartment and being taken to the hospital.
"What? Which hospital?"
"At the Royal Infirmary, dear. Please hurry. I dinnae ken what's wrong, but he was complaining about a pain in his chest. The ambulance has whisked him away."
Claire tried not to panic, as she took huge calming breaths. "Thank you, Mrs Crook. I'll head immediately to the A&E ..." Without warning the battery on Claire's phone suddenly died. Ah, bloody hell! Just what I needed.
Claire looked at Geillis. "I have to go. My uncle was taken to the hospital. Please tell Jamie I'm heading to the Royal Infirmary. I can't call him. My phone battery is dead."
"No fucking way ye're going alone. Frank could be there. I'm coming with ye. I'll call Joe to tell Jamie where we're going."
Claire didn't bother explaining to Geillis that Frank was suspended from work, too worried and numb to think of anything else. Uncle Lamb was her only family, and she hoped and prayed she wasn't too late.
Geillis hailed a taxi, quickly hopped right in and before long, they were heading to her former workplace.