By Stephanie


Disclaimer:  As always, this is just for fun!   I do not own the characters of Jessica Fletcher, Seth Hazlitt, Mort Metzger, George Sutherland, Trooper McQuesten, or Kathy and Wilhelmina Copeland.  They belong to Universal and Donald Bain.  And like everyone else who is participating in this Writer’s Challenge, my intent is not to infringe on anyone’s copyright, nor is it to make any money.


Note:  These few scenes are an epilogue of sorts to Donald Bain’s “Panning for Murder.”  As I read the book, I fully expected Seth and Mort to hop on a Seattle-bound plane after the incident in the book store.  Since that never happened, I felt the need to write these next few scenes.  Enjoy.


            Jessica awoke refreshed and relaxed, something that she had not managed during her vacation.  The week in question had begun on an ominous note when she was threatened and held at knife-point by a mentally unbalanced fan.  Then, while helping a friend to track down her missing sister, Jessica had been called upon to pilot and land an unfamiliar airplane carrying a cold-blooded killer and two critically injured passengers, including the pilot.

            With all of that happily behind her, she welcomed her arrival home.  She was scheduled to land in Boston within the hour.  Seth would be waiting for her and would drive her home to Cabot Cove.  With any luck, they would enjoy a quiet dinner and a game of chess as was their custom on Friday nights.  Tomorrow she would run a few necessary errands and then have a day or two to herself before beginning to prepare for company.


            Airports were the perfect place to people watch, Mort thought as he and Seth waited outside the security gate for Jessica to arrive.  Presently, he had his policeman’s eye on a tall, lean character wearing a tweed touring cap, who by his estimation was either nervous or more likely slightly agitated.

            Seth looked at his watch for the third time in ten minutes.  “Well, she should be on the ground by now,” he commented as he scanned the arrival video screen for Jessica’s flight.  “Ayuh, just arrived,” he added conversationally.

            “Right on time,” Mort said absently as he continued to watch the man in the cap.  He carried one piece of luggage, a moderately-sized carry-on, and based on his luggage tag had probably just flown into Boston that day.

            Feeling as though he was being watched, the stranger turned casually to see who was behind him.  “Sheriff Metzger, Dr. Hazlitt,” he greeted them with a smile that quickly disappeared.  Seth’s presence was not completely unexpected but having both he and the sheriff there only added to George’s fears that Jessica had not escaped her ordeal unharmed.

            “Chief Inspector Sutherland,” Mort said, greeting him with a firm handshake and slap on the shoulder. 

            “George,” Seth said, greeting him with more reserve.  “What are you…”

            “George?” Jessica exclaimed as she cleared security.  There was no doubt in her mind that it was him.  She’d know him anywhere.  “What are you doing here?  I wasn’t expecting you until Tuesday.”

            George turned, grabbed her by the arms and held her at arm’s length before pulling her close.  “Thank God, you’re unscathed.”

            “What is he talking about, unscathed?” Seth insisted.

            George held her close, needing a moment more to calm himself.

            “Jess, what is he talking about?”

            “Some deranged lunatic held her hostage at knife-point,” George mumbled as he released her.


            “Why don’t we discuss it later,” Jessica said as she adjusted her shoulder bag. 

A silent message passed from George to Jessica – a promise that they would indeed discuss it later, in private.

“Right now, all I want is to get home to Cabot Cove and enjoy a nice quiet dinner with friends.”

George relieved Jessica of her carry-on bag and the group made their way to baggage claim.  “Where is the rest of your luggage?” Jessica asked George after locating her own.

“I left in a bit of a rush,” he explained, indicating that he had only his carry-on bag.

Of course he would have, Jessica thought as they walked to Seth’s car.  She would probably have done the same thing in his shoes.

“Trooper McQuesten says that Willie should make a full recovery,” Mort commented as they exited the parking lot.

“Thank goodness,” Jessica exclaimed.  “The doctors were able to save her leg but she will need another surgery and after that she’ll have a lengthy rehabilitation ahead of her.”

“Daft woman,” Seth muttered.  “If it hadn’t been for you, she’d likely be dead right now.”

Mort turned to look at Jessica in the back seat.  “I have to give it to you, Mrs. F., apprehending a murderer and flying the whole crew out of the Alaskan wilderness to safety, like you did.  If I didn’t know you, I’d never have believed it when Trooper McQuesten called me to notify us that Willie had been found.”

George stiffened noticeably and turned to look at Jessica at the mention of the harrowing flight and Wilhelmina Copeland’s ex-husband.  He had not yet heard about this portion of Jessica’s trip.

Jessica laid a calming hand on George’s knee.  “I had a great deal of help, Mort,” she explained.  “I certainly couldn’t have done it on my own.”


Each time that Seth or Mort brought up the incident at the Seattle Mystery Book Shop Jessica redirected the conversation to a more pleasant topic – the Alaskan scenery, the wild life, the Copeland sisters’ new found wealth, and her and George’s plans to take in a Broadway show prior to his return to London.

George, on the other hand, listened quietly and planned his interrogation of Jessica for another time.

“I can give you a lift to a hotel, if you think you’re going to need it,” Seth offered as he readied to leave.

George declined politely.  “I don’t know quite yet.  How about the number to the cab company just in case, though,” he decided.

Seth shook his head and jotted down the number.

“I wouldn’t push my luck if I was you, Sutherland.  You interrogate her about those murders in Alaska or the other right now and you might not even be welcome in her guest room tonight.”

“I’ll take my chances,” George said defiantly.  “But just in case you’re right, I’ve already booked a room at the Hill House.”