I was oddly reluctant to the idea of getting back on the road, of leaving this temporary refuge I’d found in my new husband’s embrace.
I readily admitted to myself that I had not felt this secure, this content, at any point during my time in the eighteenth century. The weeks leading up to my hasty marriage to James Fraser had been a jumble of confusion, fear, uncertainty; homesick for Frank, desperate to grasp onto something, anything, that might offer me a moment of peace and familiarity. I craved it, thirsted for it.
Jamie was curled around me, an arm slung over my waist. His hand migrated up in his sleep to unconsciously palm my breast. Deep, even breaths in tandem with the rise and fall of his chest against my back were almost enough to lull me back to sleep.
Since that initial encounter, we had become increasingly comfortable around one another. I delicately fingered the strand of pearls around my neck I had not yet removed. This precious, invaluable gift he had given me made it so much harder to keep up any pretense of aloofness around him. It was almost as if his Mother’s pearls had broken some sort of invisible seal between us. I was drawn to him by a magnitude I had never previously experienced, not even with Frank, and I was not yet ready to process what that meant.
I’d woken just before dawn the morning following our wedding to find a pair of blue eyes roaming my face adoringly. It was still dark, the end of a candle still burning low, casting a soft glow about the room. He hadn't expected to be caught and a hint of embarrassment shot across his face as he averted his eyes from mine, his cheeks turning a rosy shade.
I was treading dangerous waters. My grip on a thin thread of control slacking with every passing moment. Eager to take the comfort he offered, the sweet, sweet oblivion that made me forget myself, I lifted his chin with two fingers and leaned forward to kiss him. He responded enthusiastically, his tongue dipping into my mouth to duel with my own.
I’d ended up lying on my back, gripping the fiery, red curls on his head, now making a home between my legs.
He was a fast learner and he’d managed to conquer this particular skill at an impressive rate.
“I believe you’ve already done that”, I responded coyly when he later suggested that he might take a bite out of me should we miss breakfast.
My thoughts returned to the present day and I arched back against Jamie, feeling him hard against the dip in my lower back. Good God. This man had the ability to arouse me with little to no effort. It was quite disarming. My thighs clamped together, attempting to create friction where I needed it.
I wanted him. Badly.
Guilt and need grappled in the corners of my mind, but the latter won out.
Rolling over and pushing him gently onto his back, I climbed atop him and settled onto his thighs. He groaned, a low, guttural thing from the back of his throat, as his eyes fluttered open. The smile that spread across his handsome face broke my heart. His large, calloused hands found my hips immediately, squeezing gently. Their touch was warm on my skin, the sensation drawing out a contented moan of my own to match his.
Palming his length, I stroked him several times, running the pad of my thumb over the head. Glancing back up at him I smiled, biting my bottom lip. The look on his face. I’d be lying if I pretended this didn’t give me a sort of heady, adrenaline rush. The power to undo him this way.
“Claire”, he breathed; my name both a prayer and a plea falling from his lips.
I slid down onto him with an almost embarrassing ease. Bending forward, intending to fasten my lips to his, he met me halfway.
A melody of synchronized moans, sighs, pants, and skin meeting each other’s drowned the world outside us. Nothing existed beyond this room and this man inside me, my pleasure and his the only pressing matter.
Afterwards I clung to him desperately, tracing the gnarled lines across his back, and he held me, until we had no other choice but to join the others.
Glancing out over the wide expanse of rolling hills, I waited for Jamie to join me. Climbing up onto the horse we would share, settling himself behind me, he wrapped his arms around my waist and rested his chin on my shoulder. His comforting scent surrounded me. The winds had caused my hair to fly wildly about my face and Jamie reached around with both hands to gather my curls back into a knot at the base of my neck. Placing a soft kiss on my cheek he whispered, “Are ye ready, mo nighean donn?”
Was I ready? A simple question that held immense weight.
Ready to resume my plan to return to the stones, to my life, to my...husband? What should have prompted me to scream yes with no hesitation, only produced a dull feeling of acceptance. Yes. It was inevitable. I would go home. There was no choice. I didn’t belong here.
Ready to leave the man holding me so sweetly, tracing with his thumb over the ring he’d placed on my finger just two days before?
A wave of incredible sadness and something akin to panic washed over me at the thought. Gripping his hand tightly, I tangled my fingers with his, keeping hold of an anchor amidst the chaos running through the entirety of my nervous system.
I turned my head to answer Jamie’s question with a brush of my lips. What was intended to be a chaste kiss escalated into whistles and lewd remarks from the group we hadn’t noticed were present.
The idea of remaining in the past was preposterous. I was Claire Randall. Frank needed me. My husband. My husband, who was undoubtedly sick with worry.
But the idea of leaving him? The answer was a resounding no.