The best-selling author gives a sneak peek of her ninth tome
In honor of the 28th anniversary of the day Diana Gabaldon began writing her Outlander series, EW is sharing an exclusive excerpt from the author’s ninth, yet-to-be named, book.
As fans of her eighth book, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, may recall, the man who raped Claire in A Breath of Snow and Ashes (and was presumed dead) was actually still breathing. That is, until Jamie exacted vengeance. “The ramifications and implications of the act have a complex effect on Claire, Jamie, their relationship, and the social structures of the Ridge community,” Gabaldon says of the killing. “This [excerpt] is part of that.”
He took a deep breath, and his fists flexed briefly, then relaxed.
“No. Forgiveness doesna make things go away. Ye ken that as well as I do.” He turned his head to look at me, in curiosity. “Don’t ye?”
There were no more than a few inches between us, but the aching distance between our hearts reached miles. Jamie was silent for a long time. I could hear my heart, beating in my ears…
“Listen,” he said at last.
“I’m listening.” He looked sideways at me, and the ghost of a smile touched his mouth. He held out a broad, pitch-stained palm to me.
“Give me your hands while ye do it, aye?”
“Why?” But I put my hands into his without hesitation, and felt his grip close on them. His fingers were cold, and I could see the hairs on his forearm ruffled with chill where he’d rolled up his sleeves to help Fanny with the gun.
“What hurts you cleaves my heart,” he said softly. “Ye ken that, aye?”
“I do,” I said, just as softly. “And you know it’s true for me, too. But—” I swallowed, and bit my lip. “It—it seems…”
“Claire,” he interrupted, and looked at me straight. “Are ye relieved that he’s dead?”
“Well…yes,” I said unhappily. “I don’t want to feel that way, though; it doesn’t seem right. I mean—” I struggled to find some clear way to put it. “On the one hand—what he did to me wasn’t…mortal. I hated it, but it didn’t physically hurt me; he wasn’t trying to hurt me or kill me. He just…”
“Ye mean, if it had been Harley Boble ye met at Beardsley’s, ye wouldna have minded my killing him?” he interrupted, with a tinge of irony.
“I would have shot him myself, on sight.” I blew out a long, deep breath. “But that’s the other thing. There’s what he—the man—do you know his name, by the way?”
“Yes, and you’re not going to, so dinna ask me,” he said tersely.
I gave him a narrow look, and he gave it right back. I flapped my hand, dismissing it for the moment.
“The other thing,” I repeated firmly, “is that if I’d shot Boble myself—you wouldn’t have had to. I wouldn’t feel that you were…damaged by it.”
His face went blank for a moment, then his gaze sharpened again.
“Ye think it damaged me to kill him?”
I reached for his hand, and held it.
“I bloody know it did,” I said quietly. And added in a whisper, looking down at the scarred, powerful hand in mine, “what hurts you cleaves my heart, Jamie.”
His fingers curled tight over mine.
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