The whole Scene:
Jamie was on his back now, writhing slightly against the pain of his wounds. His eyes were fixed and staring, with no sign of recognition.
I caressed him in the way I knew so well, tracing the line of his ribs from breastbone to back, lightly as Frank would have done, pressing hard on the aching bruise, as I was sure the other would have. I leaned forward and ran my tongue slowly around his ear, tasting and probing, and whispered, “Fight me! Fight back, you filthy scut!”
His muscles tightened and his jaw clenched, but he continued to stare upward. No choice, then. I would have to use the knife after all. I knew the risk I was taking in this, but better to kill him myself, I thought, than to sit quietly by and let him die.
I took the knife from the table and drew it firmly across his chest, along the path of the freshly healed scar. He gasped with the shock of it, and arched his back. Seizing a towel, I scrubbed it briskly over the wound. Before I could falter, I forced myself to run my fingers over his chest, scooping up a gout of blood which I rubbed savagely over his lips. There was one phrase that I didn’t have to invent, having heard it myself. Bending low over him, I whispered, “Now kiss me.”
I was not at all prepared for it. He hurled me half across the room as he came up off the bed. I staggered and fell against the table, making the giant candlesticks sway. The shadows darted and swung as the wicks flared and went out.
The edge of the table had struck me hard across the back, but I recovered in time to dodge away as he lunged for me. With an inarticulate growl, he came after me, hands outstretched.
The whole Scene:
It is difficult to describe in detail what happened next, if only because everything happened a number of times, and the times all overlap in my memory. It seems as though Jamie’s burning hands closed on my neck only once, but that once went on forever. In fact, it happened dozens of times. Each time I managed to break his grip and throw him off, to retreat once more, dodging and ducking around the wrecked furniture. And once again he would follow, a man pulled by rage from the edge of death, swearing and sobbing, staggering and flailing wildly.
Deprived of the sheltering brazier, the coals died quickly, leaving the room black as pitch and peopled with demons. In the last flickers of light, I saw him crouched against the wall, maned in fire and mantled in blood, penis stiff against the matted hair of his belly, eyes blue murder in a skull-white face. A Viking berserker. Like the Northern devils who burst from their dragon-ships into the mists of the ancient Scottish coast, to kill and plunder and burn. Men who would kill with the last ounce of their strength. Who would use that last strength to rape and sow their violent seed in the bellies of the conquered.
Some time later…
The whole Scene:
We bashed into some piece of furniture and both lay still. Jamie’s hands were locked on my breasts, fingers digging bruisingly into the flesh. I felt the plop of dampness on my face, sweat or tears, I couldn’t tell, but opened my eyes to see. Jamie was looking down at me, face blank in the moony light, eyes wide, unfocused. His hands relaxed. One finger gently traced the outline of my breast, from slope to tip, over and over. His hand moved to cup the breast, fingers spread like a starfish, soft as the grip of a nursing child.
“M‑mother?” he said. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. It was the high, pure voice of a young boy. “Mother?”
The cold air laved us, whirling the unhealthy smoke away in a drift of snowflakes. I reached up and laid the palm of my hand along his cold cheek.
“Jamie, love,” I said, whispering through a bruised throat, “Come then, come lay your head, man.” The mask trembled then and broke, and I held the big body hard against me, the two of us shaking with the force of his sobbing.