John’s letter was crumpled angrily in Jamie’s hand. How could such a small piece of paper take up so much space in his mind? How could it carry so much weight in his heart? Jamie wondered at the profound impact of ink on parchment as he walked out the front door of the New House.
A sense of foreboding had been building since he recognized the seal on the letter, and it only worsened when he read the words. His first instinct was to find Claire, grab hold of her, and keep her close. If he smothered her with his body, with his soul, there’d be no room for anyone else. If he gave her a thousand more memories of love-making, perhaps there’d be no room for memories of John.
The swiving bastard. Jamie hadn’t thought about John touching his wife for weeks; now he wouldn’t be able to get it out of his head again for months.
He walked down the hill to the edge of the wood. Claire was certain to be washing at the creek after dealing with Bobby Higgins and his retching in her surgery all afternoon. No one washed more frequently than Claire on a normal day, but when she’d been mopping up vomit, she was certain to want a lengthy soak in the water.
It was a long, summer day, so the sun was still out, but just barely. The heat was giving way to a cool, evening breeze. The fire radiating off Jamie was at odds with the serene environment.
Despite his agitation, he was contained enough to walk quietly over the forest floor so that Claire didn’t seem to hear him coming. The only sounds were that of trickling water and the rustle of leaves on the breeze.
The creek flowed over a rocky riverbed through the Ridge. There were places where larger rocks and boulders manipulated the path of the water, creating little falls or sharp turns of stream. One of these rocks was long, smooth, and flat from years of abuse by the creek. It was submerged a couple inches below the surface. Claire liked to lie there after a long day in her surgery and let the water flow around her without having to worry about staying afloat.
She was there now, lying naked on her belly, her head resting on her arms to keep her above water. Her rambunctious, wet curls were beginning to defy gravity as was their wont when they started to dry. Her feet hung off the edge of the rock, moving with the flow of water.
With the sun close to setting, the world was losing its vividness of color. Claire, already pale white in the brightest of light, was starting to glow as she did when the sun went down. In a few hours, her skin would shine silver in moonlight.
Claire’s great, round arse might have been confused for the moon itself if it wasn’t lying there in the stream. Christ, he had a painful cockstand just at the sight of it.
In his youth, he’d recited the Act of Contrition a great many times as his mind raced in all manner of lewd places thinking of his wife’s glorious bottom. Of course, he no longer believed mere thoughts to be any great sin—and even if buggery was still against the law, it had been some decades since the crown actually beheaded anyone for the act. She was his wife, after all, and God did put the woman’s quim only inches from her arse. It was only natural his thoughts would drift in such a direction.
With John’s letter in hand, intrusive images of John and Claire pushed their way to the forefront of his mind. Jamie remembered asking Claire if John buggered her when they falsely wed. She raged at him for his audacity...but she never answered. The thought of John’s cock being in the only place of his wife’s body where his own had yet to venture maddened him.
Jamie had selfishly counted on John’s love for him to ensure Willie’s wellbeing, but he didn’t foresee that same love leading the bastard to swive his wife in their agonized state of grief. Claire belonged to Jamie. And John betrayed him! He wanted to beat the life out of the man!
As if to prove something, Jamie stripped out of his plaid and sark, leaving the crumpled letter bundled in the garments so the wind wouldn’t carry it away. He waded into the creek to come up on Claire from behind.
He was too impassioned to be gentle. He came upon her abruptly, making her shriek and jump as his hands took hold of her arse. She recognized his touch immediately and relaxed into his grip. “Christ, Jamie. You could’ve given me some indication you were there.”
He didn’t answer. He just squeezed the soft tissue, loving the feel of how it rose up between his fingers. He pulled her buttocks apart and nearly growled at the sight of what lay between.
“Oh,” she said with humor. “You’ve come with particular intentions, I see.” She lifted so she was perched on her hands and knees. God he loved her reading his mind.
His right hand gripped her hip while his left dipped in the water. He took a moistened finger and ran it down the split of her arse. He traced over her puckered hole putting pressure on the reluctant opening. “You’re mine, mo nighean donn.” His right hand squeezed her hip tighter and gave a hard shake. “All of you is MINE.”
His finger pushed slowly inside her arse, eliciting a squeal and a wiggle of her backside. He gave her a moment to adjust to the intrusion as he aimed his hips and lined up his cock to her quim. This wasn’t the first time he’d done such a thing to her, and by the way she squirmed against his hand, he knew she liked it nearly as much as he did. He took a deep breath before hammering his cock inside her.
He was rough, infuriated with John for touching what was his, determined to drive the memory of that bastard out of her body. His arms worked like pistons on either side, pushing her back and forth against him as he drove in from behind. Claire’s groans were loud as they usually were when she enjoyed herself. He wondered if she could feel his fury...if so, she didn’t seem all that bothered by it.
His finish was imminent, but he was determined to satisfy Claire first; it wouldn’t do to leave her wanting when he was driving away old lovers. He held off as long as he could before he stopped altogether to prevent spilling seed. He bent gasping, removing his cock and squeezing the base to stave off an untimely end.
Claire pulled gently away from his other hand, sliding his finger out slowly. She turned over to sit before him on the rock, her legs spread as the water flowed passed.
“A little worked up today, are we?” she asked with a smirk.
“Hmphm.” He wasn’t going to talk about John when she was spread before him as such.
Claire shrugged and lay back on the rock with humor in her eyes. The water soaked her hair once again, flattening the spiraling locks. A spot of red out of the corner of his eye had him looking at her knee. There was a small scrape dripping blood from where she knelt on the rock.
A vise squeezed his heart at the site of injury. This wasn’t the first time she suffered a minor wound in their love-making. Biting, scratching, and scraping were fairly regular parts of their sexual encounters, but this was different, as small as it was; it wasn’t given out of love like the others...but out of jealous, possessive resentment.
“O Dhia. Tha mi duilich,” he said, gently. He bent down and kissed the scratch as she sometimes did to his own wounds; the taste of iron lingered on his tongue.
“Oh, it’s alright. It’s just a little scratch,” she smiled and nodded to his legs. “You’ve probably got a few matching ones on your knees.”
He shook his head, “They dinna signify, mo chridhe.”
He lay on top of her, circling his arms around her so her back wouldn’t rub against the stone while they finished what he started. He was gentler this time, guilt-ridden that he let his anger result in injury. He kissed her as they made love, trying to apologize with his lips and the soft rocking of his body. She tasted of creek water and the ginger tea she made whenever someone was nauseous.
He rubbed his full body against her, knowing it would set her off quickly if he pressured the right place. The creek water made their bodies cool and slick as they carried on. When he brought her to the height of her pleasure, he followed right behind as she squeezed and milked his cock from deep inside.
He rolled over and pulled her up on his chest so she would no longer be touching the offending rock. The cool water rushed by, wetting his sweat-drenched hair even further. The sun had set and the sky was aglow in purple twilight. For a time, they lay there, catching their breath and listening to the slowing of each other’s hearts.
Claire lifted her head to look in his eyes. “What’s the matter, Jamie?”
“Hmphm.” Of course she would know something was wrong. He sighed heavily, making Claire’s body rise up with the inflation of his lungs. “I received a letter from John.”
Her eyebrows raised, “I thought he’d been sending all his correspondence to Brianna?”
“Yes, weel, it would ha’ been poor manners to invite himself to the Ridge wi’out notifying me directly.”
“What? He’s coming here? Why?”
Jamie could tell by the fear in Claire’s voice that she was concerned Jamie might harm John again. Jamie chuckled at the memory of his fist colliding with John’s face.
“He’s accompanying Willie. The lad wants to check in on Fanny. He refuses to come wi’out John. I’m guessing he wants his stepfather to run interference wi’ me so Willie doesna need to engage in the niceties of being the guest of honor in my house.”
“John probably did not share with William the details of your quarrel.”
“No. He did not. He attempted to find an alternative companion for Willie, but the lad refused. John said that he didna want Willie to miss an opportunity to...” Jamie took another irritated breath, “...to get to know his father.”
Claire sealed her lips tightly.
“Hmphm,” he grumbled, knowing she was appreciating John’s generosity. Jamie was still far too angry at the man to appreciate the gesture. “How should I be expected to entertain the bastard wi’ my best whisky and fine feasts, when all I’ll be thinking is how he had his way with my wife who’ll be sitting nearby at the same table?”
“Oh, I don’t know, probably the way I was expected to endure you pandering to Laoghaire when we last went to Scotland.”
Jamie grinded his teeth at the mention of his own false spouse. Since he found out the bitch was responsible for Claire's arrest and near death, the thought of her made him want to break something—in truth, she made him want to break things long before then. Seeing as how Claire was the only thing in reach at present, he stifled his destructive impulses.
“I’d hoped,” said Claire, “that your anger with John would’ve settled by now. He saved my life, Jamie. And...and what we shared was all about you. You know it’s true.”
Claire’s drying hair was starting to curl up tight and stand on end once again. Jamie ran his fingers through her wild, wet locks. “You’re no’ a foolish woman, Claire. If ye think I’m all that was between ye and John, ye’re being willfully ignorant, lass.”
“It’s you I love, Jamie...with all my heart.”
“I ken that, but it doesna mean ye’re no’ fond of the man...that ye didna share intimacy wi’ him. I reserve my right to resent him for it.”
He sat up and held her in his lap, ready to head back to the house before full dark. He took a few moments to admire her silver skin in the fading light.
“Do you resent me?” she asked.
He kissed her temple and rested his forehead against hers. “No, Sassenach. I canna resent ye anything...because it’s ye I love.”