“Bastard!” I said again. “You’d marry a woman without wanting her, and then throw her aside the minute—”
“Shut up!” he roared. “Hold your tongue, ye wicked wee bitch!” He slammed a fist down on the washstand, glaring at me. “I’m damned the one way or the other, no? If I felt anything for her, I’m a faithless womanizer, and if I didn’t, I’m a heartless beast.”
“You should have told me!”
“And if I had?” He grabbed my hand and jerked me to my feet, holding me eye to eye with him. “You’d have turned on your heel and gone without a word. And having seen ye again—I tell ye, I would ha’ done far worse than lie to keep you!”
He pressed me tight against his body and kissed me, long and hard. My knees turned to water, and I fought to keep my feet, buttressed by the vision of Laoghaire’s angry eyes, and her voice, echoing shrill in my ears. He’s mine!
“This is senseless,” I said, pulling away. Fury had its own intoxication, but the hangover was setting in fast, a black dizzy vortex. My head swam so that I could hardly keep my balance. “I can’t think straight. I’m leaving.”
I lurched toward the door, but he caught me by the waist, yanking me back.
He whirled me toward himself and kissed me again, hard enough to leave a quicksilver taste of blood in my mouth. It was neither affection nor desire, but a blind passion, a determination to possess me. He was through talking.
So was I. I pulled my mouth away and slapped him hard across the face, fingers curved to rake his flesh.
He jerked back, cheek scraped raw, then twisted his fingers tight in my hair, bent and took my mouth again, deliberate and savage, ignoring the kicks and blows I rained on him.
He bit my lower lip, hard, and when I opened my lips, gasping, thrust his tongue into my mouth, stealing breath and words together.
He threw me bodily onto the bed where we had lain laughing an hour before, and pinned me there at once with the weight of his body.
He was most mightily roused.
So was I.
Mine, he said, without uttering a word. Mine!
I fought him with boundless fury and no little skill, and Yours, my body echoed back. Yours, and may you be damned for it!
I didn’t feel him rip my gown, but I felt the heat of his body on my bare breasts, through the thin linen of his shirt, the long, hard muscle of his thigh straining against my own. He took his hand off my arm to tear at his breeches, and I clawed him from ear to breast, striping his skin with pale red.
We were doing our level best to kill each other, fueled by the rage of years apart—mine for his sending me away, his for my going, mine for Laoghaire, his for Frank.
“Bitch!” he panted. “Whore!”
“Damn you!” I got a hand in his own long hair, and yanked, pulling his face down to me again. We rolled off the bed and landed on the floor in a tangled heap, rolling to and fro in a welter of half-uttered curses and broken words. I didn’t hear the door open.
I didn’t hear anything, though she must have called out, more than once. Blind and deaf, I knew nothing but Jamie until the shower of cold water struck us, sudden as an electric shock. Jamie froze. All the color left his face, leaving the bones jutting stark beneath the skin.
I lay dazed, drops of water dripping from the ends of his hair onto my breasts. Just behind him, I could see Jenny, her face as white as his, holding an empty pan in her hands.
“Stop it!” she said. Her eyes were slanted with a horrified anger. “How could ye, Jamie? Rutting like a wild beast, and not carin’ if all the house hears ye!”
He moved off me, slowly, clumsy as a bear. Jenny snatched a quilt from the bed and flung it over my body.
On all fours, he shook his head like a dog, sending droplets of water flying. Then, very slowly, he got to his feet, and pulled his ripped breeches back into place.
“Are ye no ashamed?” she cried, scandalized.
Jamie stood looking down at her as though he had never seen any creature quite like her, and was making up his mind what she might be. The wet ends of his hair dripped over his bare chest.
“Yes,” he said at last, quite mildly. “I am.”
He seemed dazed. He closed his eyes and a brief, deep shudder went over him. Without a word, he turned and went out.
After print shop and house of joy, I’m most looking forward to seeing this fight in season three. After the fight by the river in season one, we know how well Sam and Cait will do with this scene.
Oh yes, they will be awesome! Can’t wait!
Book spoilers follow.
It’s a matter of constant surprise to me that people deny that both Claire and Jamie were impacted in any way by Frank and Laoghaire (or Geneva, for that matter, though she wasn’t a choice) during their time apart, or that these two characters don’t matter to the story (they clearly do).
These are two very passionate people. Neither of them stayed alone, and that was a choice, miserable as it was. And choices have consequences that echo throughout lives. For Jamie to call Claire names and her to physically hurt him tell us not that either were terrible people (although this isn’t behavior that would make for adequate problem-solving between couples IRL) but that they were both in pain.
Jamie’s quote about himself just as easily applies to Claire, and how reductive thinking can be about these characters as a couple. Loving more than one person–even if that love is not of consistent quality–doesn’t make us faithless. Not loving someone enough to satisfy them–despite our best intentions–doesn’t make us heartless.