Chapter 1 - Accident
"Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ!" I murmured as I bumped my toe into the corner of the kitchen table while blindly looking for the bloody phone that was incessantly ringing.
Having jumped out of the bed to answer the damned machine as soon as it started ringing, and not really thinking about turning on any lights in the house, I was getting desperate to find the source of the upcoming noise.
"Whoever it is, unless you have a damned good reason to be calling in the middle of the night, I will to throttle you." I said to as I finally, finally found the phone and picked it up to answer it. "And if Brianna wakes up, I'll going to freaking kill you."
Brianna, at the age of 2 months-old, was usually a really good sleeper. Usually , being the key word.
She'd been extremely fussy for the past week, a diaper rash in her bum terribly bothering the poor thing, and barely got any sleep at all in the last couple of nights. And along with her lack of sleep came mine.
Frank, of course, did try to help, offering to keep her with him in his office for the night. I sigh, as I recalled the evening's events that ended up in a massive quarrel.
"Darling, maybe if she sleeps with me in the office you might get some sleep, after all." He proposed as I rocked a screaming Brianna back and forth.
"It's really okay, Frank. She'll probably wake up for a couple of feedings during the night, and I prefer not having to go to another room to get her then." I replied, annoyed. I was tired, my hair was a mess, my shift smelled like breast milk, and it had been at least three days since the last time I had an opportunity to have a bath. I really wasn't in the mood to discuss Brianna's sleeping arrangements with Frank tonight.
"Of course I'd bring her to you when it's time for a feeding." He countered, moving from his spot near the door to touch my arm.
Trying to rock Brianna, who was finally starting to calm down to a gentle sob, I subtly slipped away from his touch.
"It's really okay, Frank. She will probably get stressed with all the going back and forth during the night. Then it'll be even more difficult to get her settled."
Frank groaned. I knew he wanted the opportunity to spend time with Brianna. He was nothing but gentle and kind towards her since the moment she was born, but I still couldn't bear leaving her out of my sight. My experiences with Black Jack Randall were still too fresh in my mind, and while I knew Frank was an entirely different person from his ancestor, I couldn't bring myself to leave my daughter under his care yet.
"Claire. Please let me help." He reached to touch me again, this time managing to brush his hand against my shoulder, which involuntary made me flinch.
He immediately recollected his hand, clearly upset.
I knew very well that after over seven months of being back I still couldn't bear his touch. He clearly hoped that after Brianna was born it would change. However, it didn't.
It wasn't so much the resemblance to Black Jack as it was the painful fact that he wasn't Jamie. Jamie, my beautiful redhead, so similar, I'm so many ways, to the beautiful little girl I had in my arms. Jamie, who would've been an amazing father, but wouldn't ever get the chance to know his daughter. Jamie, who would endure anything to make sure his child was safe. Even the thought of another man raising her.
Each day in this century was yet another reminder of what I'd lost. My love. My sweet highlander. All the people who had become family in Lallybroch. Home.
As Brianna finally settled and started to get sleepy, I took a deep breath, inhaling that sweet and intoxicating baby smell, and feeling yet another pang in my chest over the fact that her Jamie would never get to experience this. He'd been an amazing uncle to wee Jamie, Maggie and Kitty. But um would never get to experience anything with his own daughter.
"We do have a little thing called a bottle in this century, Claire." Frank spat, breaking me out of my thoughts.
Reading into my reactions to his touch and my negative responses to him keeping the baby for the night, Frank knew exactly the precise choice of words to hurt me.
"I don't care about bottles, and you know it, Frank." I spat back. He couldn't possibly see why I was so adamant in nursing Brianna myself, but that was something I chose to share with my daughter that I was not willing to give up. By coming back I'd given up way too much already.
"No, you don't." He said dryly, rising his voice. "You only care about always keeping me at arms length, and honestly I'm sick of it! You won't let me touch you, you won't let me be anywhere near you! I thought it was the pregnancy, but now the baby is here and I still can't get anything from my wife!"
"You do realize I have an infant and a house to take care of, since it's so important to show your coworkers an impeccable house, an impeccable wife without a single hair of our place and an impeccable child who is always happy, never cranky or crying." I let out. "I'm sorry if I'm too overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of the day to want to have sex!" I hissed, careful not to wake the slumbering child in my arms.
"If the only problem was you being tired, Claire! The problem is that you're still living in the bloody 18th century with that bloody highlander of yours! A bloody highlander that abandoned you, pregnant, and sent you back to me! Imagine the irony!" He yelled furiously. "And you came back, I decided to take you back, and you promised to leave the past in the past, but it's been like living with a ghost!"
At that precise moment Brianna stirred, and immediately started crying again.
"You bastard." I didn't know what angered me the most, Frank's words or the fact that his lack of judgment in yelling near a sleeping baby had awakened Brianna.
I shifted her in my arms and started rocking her again, in an unsuccessful attempt to get her to calm down. Trying to change the scenery, I started walking to the living room. Footsteps approached, showing Frank had followed. However, instead of coming in my direction, the footsteps continued to the other side of the room.
"I need some air." Was all he said as he retrieved his hat and slammed the front door after him.
"Who the bloody hell is this?" I angrily spoke into the phone, waiting for a reply. I groped for the light switch, turning it on at once.
The sudden lightness of the room made me blink, and I took a moment to lift my foot to check for the damage on my toe. Standing on one foot, I massaged the other, no apparent damage apart from a purplish bruise that was starting to appear.
"May I speak with Mrs. Randall, please?" A male voice on the line asked seriously. I wondered what on earth this was about.
Taking a deep breath to steady myself, I replied. "This is she."
"Mrs. Randall, this is Dr. Joe Abernathy from Boston General Hospital. I'm afraid I need you to come to the hospital as soon as you can. There has been an a car accident with your husband, Frank Randall."
Thank you for giving it a go and reading it!
I apologize in advance for any mistakes.
More to come!