“You have the adamant,” I said, touching it gently. It was still cool to the touch, in spite of being worn so close to his body.
“I have,” he said, but he was looking at me, not at the stone, a slight smile on his face. “What is it an adamant gives ye? The knowledge of joy in all things?”
“So I was told.” I lifted my hand to his face and stroked it lightly, feeling hard bone and lively flesh, warm to the touch, and joyful to behold above all things.
“We have Ian,” I said softly. “And each other.”
“Aye, that’s true.” The smile reached his eyes then. He dropped the stones in a glittering heap on the table and leaned back in his chair, cradling my hand between his.
I relaxed, feeling a warm peace begin to steal over me, in spite of the aches and scrapes and the pain in my leg. We were alive, safe and together, and very little else mattered; surely not clothes, nor a fractured tibia. Everything would be managed in time—but not now. For now, it was enough only to breathe, and look at Jamie.
We sat in a peaceful silence for some time, watching the sunlit curtains and the open sky. It might have been ten minutes later, or as much as an hour, when I heard the sound of light footsteps outside, and a delicate rap at the door.
“Come in,” Jamie said. He sat up straighter, but didn’t let go of my hand.
The door opened, and a woman stepped in, her pleasant face lit by welcome, tinged with curiosity.
“Good morning,” she said, a little shyly. “I must beg your pardon, not to have waited upon you before; I was in the town, and learned of your—arrival”—she smiled at the word—“only when I returned, just now.”
“We must thank ye, Madame, most sincerely, for the kind treatment afforded to us,” Jamie said. He rose and bowed formally to her, but kept hold of my hand. “Your servant, ma’am. Have ye word of our companions?”
She blushed slightly, and bobbed a curtsy in reply to his bow. She was young, only in her twenties, and seemed unsure quite how to conduct herself under the circumstances. She had light brown hair, pulled back in a knot, fair pink skin, and what I thought was a faint West Country accent.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “My servants brought them back from the ship; they’re in the kitchen now, being fed.”
“Thank you,” I said, meaning it. “That’s terribly kind of you.”
She blushed rosily with embarrassment.
“Not at all,” she murmured, then glanced shyly at me. “I must beg your pardon for my lack of manners, ma’am,” she said. “I am remiss in not introducing myself. I am Patsy Olivier—Mrs. Joseph Olivier, that is.” She looked expectantly from me to Jamie, clearly expecting reciprocation.
Jamie and I exchanged a glance. Where, exactly, were we? Mrs. Olivier was English, that was clear enough. Her husband’s name was French. The bay outside gave no clue; this could be any of the Windward Isles—Barbados, the Bahamas, the Exumas, Andros—even the Virgin Islands. Or—the thought struck me—we might have been blown south by the hurricane, and not north; in which case, this might even be Antigua—in the lap of the British Navy!—or Martinique, or the Grenadines…I looked at Jamie and shrugged.
Our hostess was still waiting, glancing expectantly from one to the other of us. Jamie tightened his hold on my hand and drew a deep breath.
“I trust ye willna think this an odd question, Mistress Olivier—but could ye tell me where we are?”
Mrs. Olivier’s brows rose to the edge of her widow’s peak, and she blinked in astonishment.
“Well…yes,” she said. “We call it Les Perles.”
“Thank you,” I put in, seeing Jamie taking breath to try again, “but what we mean is—what island is this?”
A broad smile of understanding broke out on her round pink face.
“Oh, I see!” she said. “Of course, you were cast away by the storm. My husband was saying last night that he’d never seen such a dreadful blow at this time of year. What a mercy it is that you were saved! But you came from the islands to the south, then?”
The south. This couldn’t be Cuba. Might we have come as far as St. Thomas, or even Florida? We exchanged a quick glance, and I squeezed Jamie’s hand. I could feel the pulse beating in his wrist.
Mrs. Olivier smiled indulgently. “You are not on an island at all. You are on the mainland; in the Colony of Georgia.”
“Georgia,” Jamie said. “America?” He sounded slightly stunned, and no wonder. We had been blown at least six hundred miles by the storm.
“America,” I said softly. “The New World.” The pulse beneath my fingers had quickened, echoing my own. A new world. Refuge. Freedom.
“Yes,” said Mrs. Olivier, plainly having no idea what the news meant to us, but still smiling kindly from one to the other. “It is America.”
Jamie straightened his shoulders and smiled back at her. The clean bright air stirred his hair like kindling flames.
“In that case, ma’am,” he said, “my name is Jamie Fraser.” He looked then at me, eyes blue and brilliant as the sky behind him, and his heart beat strong in the palm of my hand.
“And this is Claire,” he said. “My wife.”