Original prompt: Imagine Claire and Jamie spontaneously getting married!
Claire perched on the straight-backed chair in Murtagh’s kitchen, sipping a strong cup of tea. The late afternoon sun streamed through the high-paned windows, leaving pools of brightness on the dark-stained wood floors.
What a whirlwind. In three days she’d been to New York and back, said her goodbyes to Frank, packed up her things, and met Jamie.
Dear God, Jamie.
It was quick and intense with him. But so sincere. She knew that he meant every word he had said to her – that he would always keep his promises, that he would always put her first. That he would always love her, never change her, and do his best to make her happy.
Such simple things, really – but so rare. The depth of his feelings stirred echoes within her. How could she not be as devoted to him as he clearly was to her?
Was she jumping too quickly into a new relationship? She hadn’t spent any extended period of time with Frank in three months – and even then it had been a strained three days. Truth be told, they’d been drifting apart long before he’d taken the sabbatical. They’d been engaged for two years already, and had never set a date. It hadn’t really seemed to be that important to them.
Was it fair to compare Frank to Jamie? Two men who could not have been more different from each other. Frank had always put his work before anything else. Jamie’s intentions were clear: a life with her in it. He had such a disarming way of making everything so simple.
She sighed and sifted through the pile of mail she’d collected from the kitchen table in Frank’s flat. Bills, catalogs. And – oh Christ, the invitation. The hospital held a fundraising gala every year – a black-tie affair at a ritzy hotel. Her position entitled her to two free tickets. She hadn’t had anyone to escort her when she received the invitation three weeks prior. But now –
“There ye are.” She looked up as Jamie stepped into the kitchen and settled in the chair across from her. Automatically their hands sought each other on top of the table, fingers twining together. Strength.
“I didn’t realize you were looking for me,” she smiled.
He shrugged. “We got all the boxes where ye wanted them. Murtagh is bellyaching about how we younger folk are wearing out an auld man. He’s hungry for his supper.”
Jamie paused, thoughtful. “How old are ye, Claire? I never thought to ask.”
“I’m twenty-eight.” She pushed away her empty mug and rested her other hand atop his.
“Ah.” He smiled. “I don’t suppose ye mind robbing the cradle then?”
She quirked one brow. “Don’t tell me you’re eighteen, lad.”
He grinned. “No, but three and twenty may still be a wee bit young for the tastes of an auld woman like you.” He twisted his hand in between hers, fingers lacing and unlacing.
“You like it. Admit it.”
“I do,” he said huskily.
Then he didn’t speak for a long time, lost in thought, fascinated by their joined hands.
“Claire – is it usual? What it is between us – when I touch you? Kiss you? Is it – is it always so?”
Her heart stuttered. “Jamie – ” she rasped, throat thick. “Jamie, love – no. This isn’t usual. This is different.”
He nodded, thoughtfully. “I – Claire. I want everything with you. Do you – are ye willing to open yer heart to me? Fully? Because I understand if ye are not ready – ”
“Shh.” Her thumbs gently stroked the back of his hand. “Yes. I’m ready. I’ve been thinking – Frank hasn’t truly been in my life for a long time. We’ve been so far apart from each other for so long. Jamie – I look at you, and I feel – linked. Joined.”
He nodded. “I – I feel it too.” His eyes were so wide, the pupils dilated – his iris was almost entirely black.
His thumb traced the base of her ring finger. “If I give ye a ring, Claire – will ye wear it? Will ye have me?”
Her heart raced. Oh God, this was so fast. Oh God, this was so right.
“Yes,” she breathed. “Yes, I’ll have you.”
He raised her left hand to his lips and kissed her ring finger gently. Then he bit down on the knuckle.
Heat pooled in her belly. She met his gaze, eyes so dark.
And held it as he knelt before her, fingers still gripping her left hand.
He broke her gaze only to fish in his pocket. Quickly he produced a thin, worn silver band and held it, considering.
Tears slipped down Claire’s cheeks.
“This was my Mam’s wedding ring. Da gave it to Murtagh after she died. It’s Murtagh’s responsibility to stand up for me at my wedding and make sure I give it to a worthy lass, ken.” He swallowed. “I asked him for it this morning, Claire. You are that worthy lass. So.”
His eyes met hers. “Will ye marry me?”
She nodded furiously.
He smiled, breathless. “Say the words, Claire. Please. I need – I need to hear ye say them.”
She inhaled deeply. “Yes, Jamie. Yes.”
His fingers trembled as he drew the ring over her knuckle. It fit snugly – perfectly.
She launched into Jamie’s arms and they crashed to the floor, laughing.
“I love you.” He kissed away her tears.
“I love you.” She dug her nose into the hollow of his throat.
They held each other for a long time, just sharing the same space. Sharing breath.
Until Murtagh’s shuffling steps came right up beside them. Jamie looked up over Claire’s curls to see his godfather scowling.
“Have ye no decency, Jamie? Ye canna even lie wi’ her on the couch?”
Jamie grinned stupidly up at his godfather. “We’re getting marrit, Murtagh.”
The older man sighed. “God bless the puir lass.”