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“More Important Than Food”

From Book Nine of my OUTLANDER series. Note that this excerpt may contain spoilers:

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"…the night we made Faith."

I lifted my head in surprise.

"You know when she was conceived? I don’t know that."

He ran his hand slowly down my back, fingers pausing to rub circles in the small of it. If I’d been a cat, I would have waved my tail gently under his nose.

"Aye, well, I suppose I could be wrong, but I’ve always thought it was the night I came to your bed at the Abbey."

For a moment, I groped among my memories. That time at the Abbey of Ste. Anne, when he’d come so close to self-chosen death, was one I seldom revisited. It was a terrifying time of fear and confusion, despair and desperation. And yet when I did look back, I found a handful of vivid images, standing out like the illuminated letters on a page of ancient Latin.

Father Anselm’s face, pale in candlelight, his eyes warm with compassion and then the growing glow of wonder as he heard my confession. The abbot’s hands, touching Jamie’s forehead, eyes, lips and palms, delicate as a hummingbird’s touch, anointing his dying nephew with the holy chrism of Extreme Unction. The quiet of the darkened chapel where I had prayed for his life, and heard my prayer answered.

And among these moments was the night when I woke from sleep to find him standing, a pale wraith by my bed, naked and freezing, so weak he could barely walk, but filled once more with life and a stubborn determination that would never again leave him.

"You remember her, 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 Roger 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?"

Return to my Book Nine webpage.

This excerpt was first posted on my official Facebook page on June 9, 2016. It was also posted on my web blog on Saturday, June 11, 2016.

This webpage was last updated on Saturday, June 11, 2016 by my Webmistress.