Home > Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Outlander #9)(4)

Go Tell the Bees that I am Gone (Outlander #9)(4)
Author: Diana Gabaldon

“You remember Faith, then?” My hand rested lightly on my stomach, recalling. He’d never seen her, or felt her as more than random kicks and pushes from inside me.

He kissed my forehead briefly, then looked at me.

“Ye ken I do. Don’t you?”

“Yes. I just wanted you to tell me more.”

“Oh, I mean to.” He settled himself on one elbow and gathered me in so I could share his plaid.

“Do you remember that, too?” I asked, pulling down the fold of cloth he’d draped over me. “Sharing your plaid with me, the night we met?”

“To keep ye from freezing? Aye.” He kissed the back of my neck. “It was me freezing, at the abbey. I’d worn myself out tryin’ to walk, and ye wouldna let me eat anything, so I was starving to death, and—”

“Oh, you know that’s not true! You—”

“Would I lie to ye, Sassenach?”

“Yes, you bloody would,” I said. “You do it all the time. But never mind that now. You were freezing and starving, and suddenly decided that instead of asking Brother Paul for a blanket or a bowl of something hot, you should stagger naked down a dark stone corridor and get in bed with me.”

“Some things are more important than food, Sassenach.” His hand settled firmly on my arse. “And finding out whether I could ever bed ye again was more important than anything else just then. I reckoned if I couldn’t, I’d just walk on out into the snow and not come back.”

“Naturally, it didn’t occur to you to wait for a few more weeks and recover your strength.”

“Well, I was fairly sure I could walk that far leaning on the walls, and I’d be doin’ the rest lying down, so why wait?” The hand on my arse was idly stroking it now. “Ye do recall the occasion.”

“It was like making love to a block of ice.” It had been. It had also wrung my heart with tenderness, and filled me with a hope I’d thought I’d never know again. “Though you did thaw out after a bit.”

Only a bit, at first. I’d just cradled him against me, trying as hard as possible to generate body heat. I’d pulled off my shift, urgent to get as much skin contact as possible. I remembered the hard, sharp curve of his hipbone, the knobs of his spine, and the ridged fresh scars over them.

“You weren’t much more than skin and bones.”

I turned, drew him down beside me now, and pulled him close, wanting the reassurance of his present warmth against the chill of memory. He was warm. And alive. Very much alive.

“Ye put your leg over me to keep me from falling out the bed, I remember that.” He rubbed my leg slowly, and I could hear the smile in his voice, though his face was dark with the fire behind him, sparking in his hair.

“It was a small bed.” It had been—a narrow monastic cot, scarcely large enough for one normal-sized person. And even starved as he was, he’d occupied a lot of space.

“I wanted to roll ye onto your back, Sassenach, but I was afraid I’d pitch us both out onto the floor, and … well, I wasna sure I could hold myself up.”

He’d been shaking with cold and weakness. But now, I realized, probably with fear as well. I took the hand resting on my hip and raised it to my mouth, kissing his knuckles. His fingers were cold from the evening air and tightened on the warmth of mine.

“You managed,” I said softly, and rolled onto my back, bringing him with me.

“Only just,” he murmured, finding his way through the layers of quilt, plaid, shirt, and shift. He let out a long breath, and so did I. “Oh, Jesus, Sassenach.”

He moved, just a little.

“What it felt like,” he whispered. “Then. To think I’d never have ye again, and then …”

He had managed, and it was just barely.

“I thought—I’d do it if it was the last thing I ever did …”

“It almost bloody was,” I whispered back, and took hold of his bottom, firm and round. “I really did think you’d died, for a moment, until you started to move.”

“Thought I was going to,” he said, with the breath of a laugh. “Oh, God, Claire …” He stopped for a moment, lowered himself, and pressed his forehead against mine. He’d done it that night, too, cold-skinned and fierce with desperation, and I’d felt I was breathing my own life into him then, his mouth so soft and open, smelling faintly of the ale mixed with egg that was all he could keep down.

“I wanted …” he whispered. “I wanted you. Had to have ye. But once I was inside ye, I wanted …”

He sighed then, deep, and moved deeper.

“I thought I’d die of it, then and there. And I wanted to. Wanted to go—while I was inside ye.” His voice had changed, still soft but somehow distant, detached—and I knew he’d moved away from the present moment, gone back to the cold stone dark and the panic, the fear and overwhelming need.

“I wanted to spill myself into ye and let that be the last I ever knew, but then I started, and I kent it wasna meant to be that way—that I’d live, but that I would keep myself inside ye forever. That I was givin’ ye a child.”

He’d come back in the speaking, back into the now and into me. I held him tight, big and solid and strong in my arms, but shaking, helpless as he gave himself up. I felt my own warm tears well up and slide down cold into my hair.

After a time, he stirred and rolled off onto his side. A big hand still rested light on my belly.

“I did manage, aye?” he said, and smiled a little, firelight soft on his face.

“You did,” I said, and, pulling the plaid back over us, I lay with him, content in the light of dying flame and eternal stars.




A Blue Wine Day

SHEER EXHAUSTION MADE ROGER sleep like the dead, in spite of the fact that the MacKenzies’ bed consisted of two ragged quilts that Amy Higgins had hastily dragged out of her piecework bag, these laid over a week’s worth of the Higginses’ dirty laundry, and the MacKenzies’ outer clothing used as blankets. It was a warm bed, though, with the heat of the smoored fire on one side and the body heat of two children and a snuggly wife on the other, and he’d fallen into sleep like a man falling down a well, with time for no more than the briefest prayer—though a profound one—of gratitude.

We made it. Thanks.

He woke to darkness and the smell of burnt wood and a freshly used chamber pot, feeling a sudden chill behind him. He had lain down with his back to the fire but had rolled over during the night, and now saw the sullen glow of the last embers a couple of feet from his face, crimson veins in a bank of gray ash and charred wood. He put a hand behind him: Brianna was gone. There was a vague heap that must be Jem and Mandy at the far side of the quilt; the rest of the cabin was still somnolent, the air thick with heavy breathing.

“Bree?” he whispered, raising himself on one elbow. She was close—a solid shadow with her bottom braced against the wall by the hearth, standing on one foot to pull a stocking on. She put down her foot and crouched beside him, fingers brushing his face.

“I’m going hunting with Da,” she whispered, bending close. “Mama will watch the kids if you have things to do today.”

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