Music to listen to while reading this chapter:
U2 – The Sweetest Thing
Peter Gabriel – The Book of Love
7:30 pm. I'm wearing black pants and a denim shirt and I run my fingers through my hair, which now is shorter, once more time before walking downstairs. Everything is ready in the backyard and I see Faith and Maggie running back and forth while chatting excitedly with all the guests who are now arriving. I just came downstairs and I can hear Murtagh, Ian, Lamb, and other men’s voices in the garden as well as the laughter from all the women in my family. Even though the place is quite noisy, the unique tone of my Sassenach's voice stands out making my heart exhilarate and ache all at once. I have to figure out how to talk to Claire as soon as possible, she's been acting odd with me for obvious reasons and I don't want to ruin her birthday party.
Fergus, Emily, and my nephews Ian and Jamie are sitting on the living room couch, unaware of the world around them as they talk and use their cell phones. Being constantly connected isn't something that we, parents, allow our children to do throughout the week, but during such leisure moments, we often let them remain somewhat disconnected from the real world, in their little bubble. Teenagers need to have their own space and grown-up parties are not their thing.
But these moments of disconnection will only last until the food is ready, of course!
I'm still very worried about my misunderstanding with Claire, but something I noticed in the living room kept my thoughts away for a few seconds. Emily is right next to Fergus, as usual, but her slight caress on my son's knee along with embarrassed looks and smiles was not how they used to act with one another. Not until then, at least. Or rather, not when grown-ups were around. Since when did they start acting like that? How come nobody had noticed it? Why didn't Fergus come to talk to me about it?
My mind gets lost in these thoughts until Claire's voice calls my attention again and I finally build up the courage and follow her. Later I would talk to Fergus when everything was settled.
Claire seems to be very excited by what is being said, she certainly had a couple of champagne glasses already. I make my way slowly towards her and as if by magic, all her excitement is explained when I face Mark next to her. How could I ever think it was any reason other than him?
Some of Claire's colleagues and their families are already reunited next to the door leading down to the backyard, including Joe and Gail. My Sassenach is looking beautiful in a shirt and set of blazer and velvet shorts, all black. Her hair is styled sideways and highlighting, even more, her neck's pearl skin among the bunch of dark curls, plus her plump mouth colored with a stunning fleshy shade of red. She is holding a glass of champagne with one hand while the other one holds Mark's strong arm, carrying him everywhere like if he was a trophy. She probably drank at least one bottle of sparkling wine, I can tell just by the relaxed way she is talking about all the wonders Mark Scott is doing for patients in need. And the grin that son of a bitch launches at me when he sees me is the evidence I needed to know that he is actually enjoying whatever is going on there.
Because he thinks he's winning her!
I move closer to Murtagh quietly and I keep watching the outgoing way Claire talks to everyone. Naturally keeping her fellow worker on her side! Ian brings a bottle of whisky and three glasses, then he offers me a large shot as he knows the sort of arguments I've had with Claire during the last few months due to that guy. I don't know what I can do to manage any longer the jealousy I'm feeling and, to make things worse, Claire is so focused on talking about all the wonders that are taking place over the last weeks in the hospital that only now she noticed I'm already there. Aye, me, a ginger guy, much taller than the average man and the love of her life! Or is she pretending that she hasn’t seen me before so that I can get a taste of my own poison?
Claire gives me a half-hearted smile, remaining kind and caring with her guests while I try to convince myself that nothing wrong is happening between us. Nevertheless, anyone can see that both of us are failing miserably to pretend to the world and for ourselves that everything is fine.
A rather unpleasant mood soon arises around us. I trust in Claire's love for me so much, after all, we have been through many more difficult matters than just a simple jealousy fit, but I don't know what happens to me when that man approaches her like that.
"Jamie, I'm taking this bottle of whisky back to the beverage table." Murtagh takes the whisky out of my hand and I complain softly with a little grunt. "That's not right, ye canna be like that because of that stupid guy, lad!" He pats my cheek and I try to smile. I have already drunk three shots in such a short time and I know that I'm following a path I’m sure I’ll regret later.
"I'll go with ye, I need to splash some water on my face." I glance back in Claire's direction before I start walking, but she is so distracted that she doesn't see me once more.
My sight is clouded with anger and frustration and I lost the track of how long I stared in silence at my reflection in the bathroom mirror. I hear someone trying to open the door and I finally look at my watch, rather scared to notice that it is already past 8:30 pm. At last, I leave the bathroom to join the other guests and I try to eat something so that all that alcohol intake would be neutralized.
I notice more people arriving at the party and then Ian asks me at a distance if I'm okay. Aye, I spent a long time inside the bathroom. Of course, I don't get drunk with just three shots of scotch, what really struck me was the thought of that man next to my wife. I stand at the door that leads to the garden, watching the party from a distance while I silently search for Claire among all those people, but I can’t manage to find her. Nor Mark.
What the hell!
Even though I try to control myself, I start asking people about Claire's whereabouts and Joe tells me that she had gone to the office along with Mark for a few deals regarding the hospital.
Oh, dia! What kind of hospital deals are those? Christ!
I started to walk very fast inside the house and almost ran into one of the waiters who was working in our house. I took a shortcut to reach the office and I saw Claire's coworker walking out the door towards the toilet. I wanted to talk to him to straighten things out and tell him for once and for all that I wouldn’t tolerate him with my wife like that, but suddenly the figure of Claire inside the office draws my attention.
She is sitting behind the desk resting her elbows over the furniture while she pressed her eyes with the tips of her fingers. I know her very well and I know when Claire is tense about something. I walk into the office abruptly, closing the door not bothering whether to be quiet or not, but she is so oblivious to her thoughts that she jumps when she sees me in front of her.
"What are you doing here, Jamie?" She leans her body against the back of the chair and looks at me with frightened eyes.
I'm standing on the other side of the desk and I lean my body toward her, placing my hands on the wood:
"What are ye doing here, Claire?!" I ask her louder than I was supposed to. "Ye are all jumpy, and accompanied by that fucking bastard!" I point toward the door, making no effort to hold back anything that was flowing in my mind. I'm so angry that I just don't know how I haven't thrown anything against the wall.
"If you hadn't vanished out of the garden, then you'd know!" Claire rises and leans over the desk towards me, throwing me as much anger as I felt inside me.
"Oh, I would ken?" I mock her voice and then I start walking from one end to the other, she truly knows how to drive me nuts. "So tell me now, Sassenach!"
"Can you possibly be slightly more reasonable than that, Fraser?" Claire speaks loudly as she takes off her jacket and throws it on the floor before she sits in a rage against the chair, leaning her head back and closing her eyes for a few moments.
"No, I cannae!" I finally manage to express what I felt and Claire turns her gaze instantly towards mine in amazement. "I just cannae! Do ye understand that?" I stop right in front of the desk one more time. "I can barely stand the idea of ye being next to this guy the whole day, much less picturing ye two here, together and alone, for God knows how long!"
I see nothing but anger and jealousy as I speak non-stop, my gaze wandering all over the place as overwhelmed as my voice. But as soon as the silence takes over the place, I stare at Claire again and I can see that she is acting in a completely different way from seconds ago. I notice a particular sparkle in her eyes and a cheeky smile very familiar to me.
"Uhm..." she stares at me, still with a naughty smile upon her face. "Can't you stand it?"
I swallow hard, gathering the courage to repeat what I said before:
"No," I said more softly and she cast me a half a smile, rising looking at me inside my eyes "I thought ye ken me well enough."
"Yes, I know you very well, but I like to find out what you're really thinking." She places her hands on the desk and then calls me up using her index finger, suggesting I should approach her. I smiled in disbelief before leaning against the wooden structure of the desk, and our lips came closer. "And what do you imagine I did with him here today, Jamie?"
"I ken it's no big deal, Sassenach. I truly trust ye. But I dinna ken what happens to me when this guy is around ye, it is something more powerful than me..." she laughs at me and I finally relax and laugh back.
Claire stares at me for a few moments with a peculiar glow in her eyes, clearly thinking about her next step. After giving me a drunk and horny smile, she stretches her arm over the desk to clear all the things on top of it. Pieces of paper and some other objects start to fall on the floor and I try to prevent her from carrying on with this, but seeing her climbing the desk towards me caught me by surprise.
“Bolt. The. Door!” She says against my lips while smiling.
"Sorcha, please... ye're drunk." I try to talk to her earnestly, I don't want to see her doing anything that could make her regret it later.
"I'm not drunk! Besides, you once told me that you can't be drunk if you're standing up..." She says it in her most posh voice and laughs against my lips and I finally relax, grinning back. "Fraser, could you just do what I asked you to do, please?" She pretends to be pissed off, but she can't stick to her character long enough and giggles again.
She ends up crossing the desk after some effort and sits on the edge of the furniture, wrapping my hips with her long, soft legs tight against my body. She stares at me and starts pulling my shirt off my pants and then I realize she was actually in search of a new adventure. So I make up my mind to play her little game by pretending to be surprised:
"Umm... But here, Sassenach? Now? And yer guests?" She gives me a frown before wrapping her arms around my neck and beginning to stir me up using the tip of her tongue to outline my lips. "Aren't they more important than having sex with yer husband?"
"Just shut the fuck up and kiss me, you bloody Scot!" She pulls me even closer to her, seizing my mouth ravenously and making me smile against her lips, welcoming her maneuvers.
Our hands start searching for each other's body eagerly, her little fingers caressing my cock over my pants as my hands wander down her thighs until they find the most sensitive spot between her legs. She gets briefly speechless when I pull her small panties away before I rub her clit while I slip a finger into her, and we both groan as we realize how ready she is for me.
"We have to lock up..." Claire says against my lips in a last lapse of sanity, breaking our moment before quickly sliding down the desk toward the door.
She walks a little dizzy, laughing because she can't walk properly. Her giggle is deeper than usual due to the alcohol and the arousal she feels, and for that reason, I can't keep standing there. I follow her movements briefly before pressing her against the door, rubbing my body on that round and perfectly soft arse while kissing her neck. While standing with her back toward me, Claire giggles again and starts to open the side zipper of her shorts as I pull my pants down toward my feet. I caress her naked butt for a few seconds, marveling at her curves, while she leans her body even further toward mine as a clear encouragement to keep on doing what I’m doing.
I feel with my fingers once again that she is completely ready for me and, not thinking much of the consequences of my actions, I place my cock before penetrating her in a single thrust. Our bodies and moans collide at the same time against the office door, and the deeper I sink into her, the more Claire loses control below me. She grunts so loudly that she doesn't seem to care about people scattered around our house, so I cover her mouth with my hand so that she can bite my fingers and thus try to muffle her screams. She laughs while I try to silence her moans and we are so connected that not even a knock at the door prevented us from keep on moving at pace:
"Claire, everything is fine there?" Mark speaks slightly in awe. Yeah, we're not being quiet at all!
"Aye... Claire... is fine!" My voice broke out while I buried myself inside her harder and harder, not making any effort to hold back my groans. She bites my fingers even harder. "She's a little... busy now, Mark... so she... talks to you later... aye?"
I don't pretend that Claire and I are not having sex, and Mark didn’t answer anything else, his steps moving away quickly. Well, I think anyone would know what was happening there, but I can’t stop smiling when I felt somewhat avenged.
Claire laughs again among moans as I move in and out of her, and then she totally tilts her body forward, her hair almost touching the ground while she presses her palms against the door. We have had sex inside the office before, but never with so many people at home, and this whole new thing is turning everything even more exciting.
She quickly turns facing me and I easily lift her in my lap, feeling her roll against my body as I carry her toward the desk. While staring into her amber eyes darkened by desire, I sit her at the edge of the workspace and she caresses my cock as she places it in her vagina before lying down on the table. I cover her mouth with my hand as I hold one of her legs up and move inside her once again, experiencing her languishing moan against my hand.
Suddenly I pull her body close to mine, wrapping her back steadily while she holds my face with her hands. We keep on fighting increasingly hard over that desk, there is nothing more important for me than to please my wife, and when I feel her climax approaching, I cover her mouth with mine until I feel the energy flow between us when we come together.
We remained embraced for some instants, the silence is broken only by the noise of our hectic breaths and the party outside the house. This overwhelming sensation that runs through our bodies takes away all the tensions, doubts, and fears that were hovering over our relationship, especially over my head. Claire looks at me in such a pure and fond way that I suddenly feel I do not need to hear her explanations regarding Mark. In fact, I am the one who owed her explanations and excuses to try to rectify my bad behavior, but we silently agreed that our conversation is going to be delayed until after the party.
Now I have something more important to give to her.
We seem like two teenagers who just did something wrong while dressing up in a hurry inside the office. Naturally, we didn't stop laughing quietly about the little wild thing we just had together right here during a party. We aren't that young anymore, but I enjoyed doing something that goes beyond our usual day by day routine.
Just for the record, it is not a complaint, quite the contrary! There was nothing that makes me happier than having a routine with the woman of my life, after all that was all I had prayed to God for since I met her! But it is always nice to have something new and Claire doesn't have to say a word to me to let me know that she is enjoying it just like me.
Claire cleans her lipstick from her mouth using a moist tissue left in the office toilet and, before checking if my clothes were cleaned and aligned, she touches up her makeup with some things she had inside her tiny purse. She moistens her curls just a bit to try to realign them and she laughs in surrender before heading back to the office. Well, probably the grown-ups would notice that something happened between us, especially given our flushed cheeks and the amount of time we spent away from the party... but at the end of the day today is Claire's birthday and people can do whatever they wanted on their day, right?
"Come on, Sorcha," I say while kissing her forehead and she sighs as she holds my hand. "Come on, the night is long and ye still have plenty of surprises left!”
Before we leave the office, I call Murtagh to set up everything in the backyard. Claire stares at me yet without properly understanding what is happening, but I know she was expecting some fancy gift from our family. It's always like this at each celebration date and it wouldn't be different at her 45th birthday! Even if she has never had a clue what she's going to get from us three, Claire has already gotten used to that. The children loved to surprise everyone, as much as I do, and they loved the idea I proposed to them a few weeks ago.
Everything is all dark as expected and, using only the mobile's flashlight to guide us, Claire giggles excitedly as we walk towards the backyard. The place is in complete silence, not even the children and teenagers are saying anything, and once we arrive at the door leading to the garden, the screening we had prepared for that night began to play against the white wall of our house.
We walked a few steps so we could watch it better and I hug Claire from behind while the set of photos from many of my Sassenach's 45 years old moments keeps running along with her favorite music in the background (Peter Gabriel - The book of love [Youtube // Spotify]). She says it's our song. During those minutes, there were pictures of her with her parents, moments with her uncle during the diggings, as well as countless selfies with Joe and Gail during college, with Fergus and Arthur in Canada, and with our now not so small family since we found each other again.
For every image that appears, Claire tightens my arms more and more, touched by all that we have planned for her. The children come closer to us both and Claire hugs Fergus around his waist while caressing our girl's hair with her other hand, as she hides her face in her mother's leg. I share glances and smiles with Fergus before hugging him around his shoulders, both of us delighted to see another one of our plans is working out well.
Once the video is over, all the lights turn on and our guests begin to cheer extensively. All Claire can do is express her gratitude and shed tears of happiness while we four move towards a brighter and taller area in our garden. Fergus and Faith climb on this platform with a microphone in hands while Claire and I watch them.
"Mom, these photos are just a few of the pictures we found for that little film... it was so hard to choose them, right Faith?" Our little one nods pretending to be exhausted and our guests giggle, the same as Claire and I! Probably we'll have a star in this family! "We didn't mean to make you cry that way, Mom... we just wanted to show how much we love you and how proud we are of you!" Claire begins to cry even harder and hides in my arms. "MOM, please stop crying!"
"I can't, Fergus!" She talks very quietly as she tries to wipe the tears away from her eyes.
"Okay, so we have done something right tonight!" Fergus says and Faith claps her hands, very excited.
Claire nods as she dries her tears and takes a deep breath before talking into the microphone:
"You two do the right things every day, my darling." Claire walks up and kisses their cheeks before receiving a big hug from them. But as soon as they move away, Claire grabs the microphone and turns around with a moved laugh on her face. "Not the whole day, I have to make this very clear to our guests!"
"Mama, did you notice how pretty we were in that picture just you and me?" Faith emphasizes the last piece of her sentence using a different voice, which makes Claire giggle as she nods. "Da, I think the next video has to be just with all the photos of all of the girls in the house!"
"Um, I think if we make a video of both of ye, there won't be a party long enough!" I tickled her tummy and she giggles. "Besides, we would be staring at all that beauty from ye two all night long and we wouldn't manage to enjoy it properly, don't ye think?"
"Yeah, I think so! Is this bad?"
We are still laughing when I look at Fergus and he offers me the microphone. I help them to climb down from the platform, checking the sound while I kiss Claire's forehead. I cast an accomplice glance at her before accepting the champagne offered by the waiter to finally take the place where our children were a few moments ago. Well, now it's my turn. As soon as I face Claire, I notice that my wife has trembling lips and she sighs with tears in her eyes in a failed effort to make herself ready for another portion of her huge gift.
I start talking with the crystal flute in the air:
"Aye, Sassenach, just one more of my speeches. I ken I could do something different this year, but I can't help myself!" I make the same frown of the last years and she laughs at me as she always does. "Come, join me!" I pull her by the hand and I kiss her knuckles while smiling the way she loves it the most. "My Sorcha, today is a very important day for ye, yer uncle and all our family. I'm verra proud of the path ye went through to be the best wife, the best mother, and the best doctor ever, and I'm even more proud to see so many people here celebrating this unique moment with ye...".
My eyes wander around the surroundings and then stop at Mark. We stare at each other for a fraction of a second, but it's long enough to see in him a clear signal of defeat. We toast in the air, exchanging half-smiles before I went on with my speech:
"Really proud! So guys, please take one of the glasses offered by the lads so that we can make a toast to my Sorcha!" We raise the glasses in the air and I cheer with Claire and the children, placing the microphone on top of the wall before I begin to wipe away the non-stop tears that flow down my wife's cheeks.
"Thank you, Jamie. Without you what will become of me?" She caresses my face and smiles feeling moved."Without each tiny piece of you?"
I hug her tightly as I kiss her temple and she cuddles against my body:
"I apologize once again for being so stubborn and thank you so much for accepting me for the way I am, Sassenach" I speak softly in her ear. "You make me want to be a better man every day... Tha gradh agam ort, mo chridhe.”
"I think I love you more!" She seals her lips against mine for a long time and we laugh embarrassed as we hear our guests cheering, bringing us out of our little bubble.
The party goes back to normal. The conversation between the small groups of guests is now intertwined by background music and the laughter of Faith, Maggie, and some of Claire's colleagues' children who are running all over the place. And those little ones are running non-stop! They are all sweaty, with their hair stuck to their foreheads, and very happy with that great family event. They are kids who definitely know how to enjoy a party!
I look around myself attentively and everything seems to be the same as it was before my speech, except for Claire and me. We are finally having fun and laughing, just like the others, chatting with a few people as we eat all the nice things Claire has ordered for today. Now we are together on that very special day and not feeling any kind of discomfort around us.
After a while, we are talking cheerfully with Joe and Gail about the final match of the tennis championship last week when I see Mark coming closer to us four. He is one of the first guests to leave and, simply wishing Claire "a happy birthday" once again, he smiled quietly before disappearing inside our house towards the exit. The eyes of us four meets and I hug Claire against my body before I pull up her face and ask her if she wants to eat anything else. I know she wants to tell me what happened with Mark, but now is not the right time for that and I don't want her worried about it.
"Mama! Da!" Over an hour had gone by when I heard Faith scream and cry profusely. Then we head towards the opposite corner of the garden, from where her voice is coming.
"Oh, my dear… everything is fine!" Claire speaks to Faith and she pouts when she sees us.
"Da, help me!" Faith is sitting on top of a sharper edge of Claire's flowerbed and is holding her knee while sobbing. Her face is all reddish and she is frightened.
"Shhh, it was just a scare, a leannan... Come with Da." I hold her in my arms to take her somewhere brighter indoors while Claire goes after the first-aid kit. Maggie is clearly scared, with her blue eyes wide open and not sure what to do, finally going along with me.
"I sli- slipped, Da..." she cries softly with her head leaning on my chest. And having her in my lap like this always reminds me of the first time I held her in my arms. "I want Fergus, Da..."
"Mama is coming to make yer knee brand new, aye?” I place her on the couch while caressing her hand so she can let me see the wound. And no, it wasn't a big deal. "Maggie, do ye ken where Fergus is?" At this very moment, Claire walks towards us three with a little box in her hand.
"Uhum, Fergus is hiding with Emily behind the garden house, Uncle." She talks quite naturally and I look straight at Claire, who is still standing beside me, and I see the amazement carved in her face.
"Claire, finish up with Faith and I'll get Fergus, aye?" We just exchange glances and she nods back without saying a word.
I listen to Claire's chatter with the little ones fading away quickly as I walk towards the garden. I try not to draw attention from Joe and Gail as I walk past the people who still were at the party while looking for Emily and Fergus until I finally saw his foot behind the tool shed. I walk slowly and see them finishing kissing, and then Fergus caresses her cheek and smiles in a way I know very well. He is definitely in love. Well, I have to burst this small bubble so I cough, making them both jump up so high that I just can't stop laughing.
"Uh, son... Faith fell and bruised her knee slightly." I try to remain serious. "She's calling for ye."
Fergus has deep reddish cheeks and smiles embarrassed as he walks by my side towards the house. Emily keeps herself hidden for a few more moments before she sighs and finally has the guts to face me. In my eyes, she has always been a little girl, but now I can truly see her.
A grown woman.
Her skin color is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, and the match with her curly hair half tied up with a band framing her face and a light makeup makes me suddenly understand the look of love I saw in my son's eyes. Emily has always been a lovely young lassie, but now she has turned into a beautiful lass!
I cuddle Emily's back as I hug her, kissing her hair while she giggles softly leaning on me quite jumpy:
"Everything is going to be fine, a leannan. But later we'll have to talk, aye?" She nods and runs towards her parents, mingling with the other guests.
Well, I think I'll have some fun seeing Claire's reactions once the party is over.
Finally our house is completely silent after an evening filled with all sorts of emotions. Maggie is already sleeping with Faith, while Jenny's boys are in Fergus’s room. Yes, they have all remained here in our place, just as planned... Claire has already showered and dressed in her nightgown while I am in the shower.
"Jamie, what are we going to do with these two?" She says while removing all her makeup and, even if I can't see anything beyond the outline of Claire's image through the smoky glass of the shower box, I can notice by her voice that she's very concerned.
"Claire, dinna fash... They are very good friends that are in love with each other. It's Emily, mo chridhe, not just any girl…"
"I love Emily as if she were my own daughter, Jamie, you know it better than anyone! And that's exactly why I'm worried!" I hear the sound of some things falling into the sink. "Shit!" Yeah, she's nervous. "How are we gonna get along with Joe and Gail once they break up?"
I finish the shower and stick my face out from the glass door. "And why are you assuming that they will break up?" I notice that Claire is not only jumpy but very angry.
"For God's sake, Jamie!" She talks while I dry my hair with the towel. "They're 16! Of course, they'll break up!"
Once I have the towel tied around my waist, I step out and hold Claire by her arms so that she can turn her eyes to me:
"Sorcha, listen to me. Ye have been their age once and ye ken the way these feelings happen, aye?" Even if she's still concerned, she nods and tries to smile. "Joe and Gail are yer long-time friends, our best man, and maid of honor, and they're really a big part of our lives. They definitely won't stop being our friends just because our children's relationship is over, right?" She nods again after a few seconds and finally leans her forehead on my chest. "Everything will be fine, just relax!" I stroke her hair and she sighs.
"He grew up so fast, Jamie..." Claire looks up at me and I caress her cheek softly.
"Aye, he's all grown up now... and so is Emily, right? Today was the first time I noticed that, ye ken?" She nods at me and I decide to lighten up our conversation. "And here's my conclusion: Fergus has definitely an excellent taste in women, just like his father!" We laugh and she gently slaps my chest, sinking into my hug as I kiss the top of her head. "It's going to be ok, mo nighean donn!"
Once we lie in bed, Claire cuddles on my chest as usual before going to sleep, but I feel a long sigh coming out of her nostrils hitting my skin. She is clearly anxious and soon I understand that she is working up the guts to talk to me about what happened to Mark earlier.
"I want to tell you why I was in the office alone with Mark." I encourage her words with a gentle caress against her back. "Hmm, you told me so many times that he was hitting on me, but I had never noticed his intentions until tonight, you know? And I apologize for not trusting you, Jamie. Truly." She caresses my chest hair while talking, with no courage to look straight at me. "Today during the party you remained several minutes inside the house and, even if I was worried about you, I didn't have the guts to look for you. We had fought and I didn't want to give in... However, it finally came to me when I felt Mark caressing my waist in the way that only you do".
I stiffen my body almost instantly, but try to remain my posture before giving her an answer:
"Everything is fine between ye and me now, Claire." I kiss her hair and she sighs once more.
"I know that everything is fine now, Jamie, but we wouldn't have had to go through this if it wasn't for my stubbornness..." finally her eyes meet mine and I caress her cheek. "I hate to argue with you."
"I hate arguing with ye too, Sorcha." She smiles a little and rests her chin on my chest. "And please forgive me once again for everything I've done over the past few months. It doesna matter if ye heard me or not, I shouldna have been so hard on ye". Claire looks at me and caresses my cheek fondly. "The only good thing about arguing with ye is when we get back together, aye?"
We both laugh as she shakes her head in denial. "Although I agree with you, you're still hopeless, Fraser!” Claire kisses my lips with a broad smile on her face. “But let me keep talking, I'm not done yet..." she leans her head on my chest once more and plays with my chest hair. "As soon as I realized that he was really trying to have a thing with me, I found a way to get out of his arms and I went to get a drink to shake off the uneasiness I was feeling. Of course it was wrong and I felt I must adopt a different posture, but at the same time, I didn't want to make any fuss. So, when I got near him again, I asked him to join me because I had to talk to him about something related to the hospital".
My body stiffens again just thinking about the victory smile that the bastard had on his face. "He must have thought he won you."
"Yeah, I guess so... But I was able to keep myself away from him while I was talking and he didn't try anything. Our conversation didn't take more than a few minutes and I made myself clear once and for all".
"And what did you say to that preppie?" I speak in a very amusing way and she laughs.
"Uhm, I said I had no interest in having an extramarital affair," she looks at me once again, leaning her chin against the back of one of her hands that is over my chest. "And that I am very happily married!" She grins broadly and I kiss the tip of her nose.
"One act is worth a thousand words, Sassenach." She clearly doesn't understand what I mean and has a big question written all over her face. "Well, he may not have believed in your speech that much, but listening to us having sex must have been the final proof he needed!"
"Hopeless, Fraser! You are hopeless!" She places a gentle kiss on my chest while laughing. "I also said that I didn't want our professional relationship to be affected, but that I wouldn't admit his moves anymore. He seemed to understand and then left the office. It was quite a tough conversation to have with someone, I never had such a hard time with a coworker..." she sighs and searches my lips with hers. "And I was trying to pull myself together to get back to the party when you showed up."
"Hum..." I spin our bodies to be on top of her, throwing a half-smile filled with second thoughts. "And I made ye unsettle even more, didn't I?" I start to trace a long wet kiss on her neck and she moans softly.
"Yes, but this time it was for a good reason!"
She pulls my face towards her and kisses my lips, the fire burning inside us is quickly settling in like hours ago inside the office.
"Will ye manage to be silent and not wake the children?" I ask as I begin to pull the strings of her nightgown away and unravel her breasts.
"I always manage to keep quiet when I want to, Fraser!"
"Really?" I laugh hard and she hits my arm lightly. "I think I'll have to put yer skills to one more test... but I can't tell you why I'm almost sure ye canna keep silent even when ye want to!"
"Aww, is that a bet?" Her face shows astonishment and fun. "Well! Wait to see the magic happen, baby!"
"I can't wait to see ye lose another bet, baby!"
I cravingly seek one of her nipples with my mouth and I hear Claire's attempt to smother her moan, but a knock on the door makes us stop our caresses abruptly.
"Mama, Da..." Faith whispers against the door.
"Come in, my love..." Claire speaks after checking that we are presentable. "Come here with Mama dear... uh, no, tell me what happened?"
"My knee, Mama..." I help her to get in bed, placing her in the middle of us.
"It hurts really bad, a leannan?" Faith makes a very sly child's face as she says yes with her head and I realize that everything is fine with her, at least physically. She had a big shock earlier.
"Do you want us to put you to sleep in your bed?" Claire speaks and Faith hides in her mother's embrace. "Umm, do you want to sleep here?" Claire looks at me and I nod.
"And where is yer cousin, dear?" I ask.
"She's sleeping like a rock in my room, Da… But I think she will miss me when she doesn't find me there, right?"
"Aye, she will... she's not familiar with our house, right? Da will get her."
Dhia, I'm glad our bed is big enough for all four of us.
As soon as I lay Maggie down next to Faith, both wearing extremely colorful pajamas packed with rainbows and animals, I look at Claire over those ginger kids and we laugh silently back at each other, still not believing it the way things ended that night. Of course, we had enjoyed the day in so many ways, but even after all these years, Claire's warmth remains one of my biggest addictions and having the girls there throws cold water on our intentions.
The girls fall into a deep sleep in a matter of a few minutes while we both lay on our sides of the bed, facing the little ones. Our hands are entwined on top of the girls as we watch them sleep, staring at each other in the nearly completely dark bedroom.
I'm almost asleep when an idea pops up in my mind and I touch Claire's hand to make her look at me. She stares at me quickly and then I start whispering:
"Sorcha, I think I'll accept a surprise like the one ye gave me on my last birthday..."
She gives me a big smile, clearly surprised to hear a somewhat random comment like that in the middle of the night and in the presence of two children. But just before the party, she had promised me to repeat her private show and I could not miss this chance to live out my most inner desires.
"Well, you’re a lucky guy, do you know that?" I feel the typical wickedness in her look, in her muffled and sensual laugh, and in the caress she does in my hand with the tip of her thumb. "What if I told you that this day is closer than you think, Mr. Fraser?" I arch my eyebrows as I wait for her to continue her sentence. "Uhum... very close! I even bought a very special lingerie for the occasion!"
Claire has all the qualities that make her the perfect woman for me: determination, strength, beauty, stubbornness, desire. For me, she is the whole package! Does she have flaws? Oh, of course she does, just like me. We both endured almost a decade due to our biggest flaws, but having her by my side day after day for so many years now makes me feel even more sure that our paths would cross sooner or later. We simply complete each other and I do not doubt that I was born for her, just like she was born for me.
We have always been soul mates who wandered in search of each other, even after we thought everything was lost.
But it wasn't.
Eight years ago, on the morning of my birthday, I received a phone call that would change my life forever. Our lives forever. Eight years ago my world turned upside down and I could see it as it truly is. With my Claire, my Fergus, and now with my Faith. With our family always united, facing life's ups and downs together.
God, you gave me a rare woman!
And God, I still love her well!