-- by Stephanie
Disclaimer: As always, this is just for fun! I do not own the characters of Jessica Fletcher or George Sutherland. 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. Also, it may be wise to keep this one to those of us 13 years old and up.
A special thank you to Anne and Sarah who provided numerous suggestions - what you’re about to read is as much theirs as mine.
If you had the chance, how would you spend a snow day with your honey? Watching old movies? Cuddling in front of a warm, crackling fire? Playing cards? A candle lit bath for two? Just for fun, let’s see how Jessica and George spend their snow day together.
Jessica waved goodbye once more before closing her front door and resting her head against it with a sigh. The New Year’s Eve party that she had hosted that evening had dragged on much longer than was the norm in years past and she was all-in.
“That doesn’t sound too terribly promising,” George murmured to himself as he climbed the steps that led from the living room to the elevated entrance hall of Jessica’s historic Victorian home. Lovingly, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders and squeezed gently. “Why don’t we go to bed?”
His suggestion received a weary look from Jessica. She was obviously exhausted.
“To sleep,” he amended before leading her down the short hallway and then up the flight of stairs that led to her second story bedroom. It had been a very long day and ‘sleep’ sounded wonderful but Jessica found herself feeling a tad bit guilty.
George had arrived only early that evening and they had yet to spend but a few minutes alone together. A storm moving its way up the coast had delayed numerous flights- including his - and the snow that had started falling mid-afternoon had slowed most forms of ground transportation resulting in George arriving in Cabot Cove nearly four hours later than planned. When he finally knocked at her door, suitcase in hand, Seth was already there, clad in a pink apron and helping Jessica in the kitchen.
She had greeted him warmly enough but hadn’t even had time to wish him a ‘Happy Birthday.’ Within minutes of him stepping across her threshold, her first guests began to arrive.
Now, when she opened her bedroom door, she felt even worse. In the short time that it had taken her to see off the final few stragglers, George had been busy. The comforter had been turned down, two glasses of champagne sat on the nightstand, and the shadows created by a freshly built fire danced over the room.
Jessica turned to him and began to speak but he stopped her, placing a single finger tip gently to her lips. He smiled down at her. “Tomorrow will be soon enough, love.”
“Are you sure?”
“Aye,” he answered as he sat her down on the edge of the bed and retrieved a long, flannel nightgown from her bureau. “Here,” he said, offering it to her.
“Flannel?” George had nothing against flannel, as long as Jessica wasn’t the one wearing it.
“Aye, if you expect me to make it until morning,” he replied in all seriousness.
The man was a saint, Jessica thought as she changed. Well, maybe not a saint exactly, but he was extremely understanding.
They both crawled into bed and Jessica turned off her lamp. “You know, by morning we’ll be in the midst of a blizzard,” she informed him. “It’s supposed to last late into the night tomorrow.”
George pulled her close. “I know.”
Even in the dark, Jessica knew that he was smiling roguishly. “You’re looking forward to being snowed in, aren’t you?”
“Aye,” he answered, snuggling closer. “I plan to spend the entire day lounging in front of the fireplace and making love with you – very slowly,” he said softly, kissing her on the nape of the neck, “tenderly,” he added in a whisper as he moved his lips to her ear, “and completely,” he finished before releasing her and rolling over with his back to her.
Once she had recovered from the instantaneous warmth that had begun to pulse through her, her response was to smack him with a pillow - hard. “You dirty, rotten scoundrel.”
George laughed and rolled back over, tossed the pillow aside, and pulled her into his arms again. “I’d save my energy if I were you, lassie.”
Jessica awoke she was alone and George’s side of the bed was empty and
cold. That was not to be unexpected
considering that his internal clock was set to
In the kitchen, he poured himself a second cup of coffee and scanned the previous day’s newspaper, waiting until he heard Jessica turn off the shower to start breakfast.
He greeted her with a kiss on the cheek and motioned for her to sit down. Along with a cup of coffee and orange juice, he served her a small stack of buttermilk pancakes, fresh strawberries, two slices of bacon and one egg over easy.
Just as he sat down to join her, the lights went out. “I’ve got it,” he said as he leapt to his feet and lit an oil lamp, which he carried to the table.
“A candle lit breakfast, that’s very original,” she teased.
“All part of my plan to seduce you,” George joked good-naturedly in reply before diving into his own breakfast.
“What shall we do today,” he asked companionably as they ate.
Jessica looked out the window. They were in the midst of a complete white out and now they were without electricity. There wasn’t much that they could do. “I thought you intended to lounge around in front of the fireplace the entire day,” she replied.
He grinned naughtily. “I do.”
“Yes, Seth, I’m fine. Remember, George is here with me. The lamps are lit and we have plenty of firewood and candles.” This isn’t my first blizzard, she thought to herself.
She wrapped the telephone cord around her finger as she listened. “Yes, Seth, we have fresh batteries and plenty of leftovers from last night.”
“Yes, we’ll be sure to check the pipes,” Jessica replied with mild annoyance.
“Yes, Seth, I will. You be sure to do the same,” she said, her tone softening a bit as she realized that he was doing nothing more than being a concerned best friend..
“Thank you, Seth,” she added with complete sincerity before hanging up. He did tend to be over-protective but it did give her a feeling of warmth and security just knowing that he was there if she and George did have an emergency.
As Jessica reached into the overhead cabinet to store the last of the clean dishes she felt a small tug on the back of her apron. George dropped the flimsy piece of cloth onto the counter top and slid his hands around her waist. “I trust you slept well,” he asked as his lips found their way to the side of her neck.
“Mmmm. Hmmm,” she replied on a sigh. She knew from experience that he had amazing hands - possessive yet gentle, soothing yet tantalizing, strong yet yielding.
“Has Seth called yet?”
“Mmmm. Hmmm,” she answered again, enjoying the sensation of his strong, warm body against hers.
He turned her within the circle of his arms and covered her mouth with his own. He was almost embarrassed by the intensity of the kiss and had to make a conscious effort not to hurry.
Taking her by the hand he led her, unresisting, upstairs to where the flickering of flames filled the hearth in her bedroom. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him tenderly, then again, deepening the kiss slowly, gradually.
Jessica sighed deeply and allowed her head to fall back as his lips journeyed down the column of her neck. Soft open mouthed kisses followed gentle caresses, skimming along the tempting lace trim that he discovered hidden beneath her blouse.
Long absences from one another only served to make these moments sweeter and all the more special and George intended to prolong the occasion, drawing out the most intimate hours that they shared together.
Jessica’s reaction to him however, made that a rather difficult task at times including now. More quickly than either had planned, they each surrendered to the desires and passions that those first touches had promised.
Once Jessica caught her breath and her heart slowed slightly, she opened her eyes and gazed at the shadows dancing on the ceiling. Beside her, she felt the steady, controlled rise and fall of George’s chest. “How did we get to the bed?” she asked with a laugh.
“I’m not exactly sure,” George replied quite honestly, still somewhat surprised, although pleasantly, by the pace that she had set. After all, they hadn’t seen each other in months; and if the weather outside was any indication, they would have the entire day to attempt a more leisurely pace.
Jessica curled up next to him, draping her arm lazily across his chest. “And how did you manage that trick with the electricity?”
George laughed and then kissed her on the forehead. “I imagine it has something to do with the storm.”
Jessica sat up and looked at him. “You mean you didn’t plan for the power to go off?”
“No. But I’m not above taking advantage of such a fortuitous occurrence,” he confessed before kissing her once more, this time on the lips.
When they drew apart Jessica glanced over his shoulder at the clock, something George noticed but did not comment on. They had an entire day to fill yet and they certainly couldn’t do it in bed, but there was no need to rush, she decided as she snuggled up close to him again, resting her head on his chest where she could hear the strong, rhythmic beating of his heart.
“Tell me about your holidays,” he asked, pleased that she hadn’t hurried off from the bed that they shared to tackle some chore or another. “I wish I hadn’t missed spending them with you.”
“I think you would have enjoyed Thanksgiving,” Jessica began, “except…”
“Grady’s in-laws?” George guessed.
Jessica laughed. He had nailed it right on the nose.
“And how is ‘little Frank’?”
“Not so little any more, I’m afraid. And he’s just ‘Frank’ now,” Jessica informed him.
“Ah, exerting a little independence, I see. I’ll remember that if we should ever meet. And how are Grady and Donna?”
“Yes, Mort, we’re fine. We should have everything we need until the storm passes over.”
“No, George has never seen a blizzard like this one. He seems to be enjoying it,” she added as she glanced into the dining room where George was watching the swirling snow through a large window.
“Yes,” she assured him. “We’ll be sure to call if we have any problems.”
“Keep warm and dry,” she cautioned him before hanging up the receiver. Poor Mort would be one of the few who would undoubtedly be called out into the storm at some point during the day.
George sipped his tea and scrutinized the chess board that sat between them. After setting his cup down, he shook his head and smiled. “You’ve been practicing,” he observed as he tipped his king over, signaling his resignation from the game.
Jessica smiled, too. “I’ve been researching my new book,” she explained as she removed the remaining pieces from the board and began to store the game.
“I’m not even entitled to a rematch,” George asked incredulously as he watched her, radiantly basking in her glory.
“Not a chance,” she replied before leaning forward and patting his cheek with one hand and then kissing him on the opposite cheek. “I plan to savor my victory… at least for a few hours.”
“That’s not very sporting of you,” he complained playfully. He stood and stretched before deciding to tend to the fire that burned in the living room hearth. After standing again, he wrapped his arms around her waist and murmured next to her ear. “Would you be willing to grant me a rematch for an alternate activity?”
Jessica laughed. “You’ve already seduced me once this morning.”
George shook his head. “If you recall, my dearest Jessica, there was no seduction required.”
He was absolutely right, she remembered. But under the circumstances, who could blame her. Two months was a very long time to be away from the one that you loved.
She rose up slightly and gave him a small peck. “I’m not convinced that you deserve a rematch,” she teased as she began to turn away.
He reached for her hand and gently pulled her back to him. “Then I’ll have to do my best to persuade you,” he offered before kissing her deeply.
That’s a pretty good start, Jessica thought to herself.
“Do you have any champagne left from last night,” he wondered with a broad grin after they parted.
“Yes,” she replied, instantly knowing that the remainder of the day would be unforgettable, “but it isn’t even noon yet.”
“Just planning ahead,” he said, his green eyes sparkling mischievously.
He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and guided her to the couch. “Since you brought it up, why don’t you tell me a little bit about your new book and how the King’s Game plays a part in it?” he asked as they sat down together.
“You know that I prefer not to…”
Before she could finish her objection, he gently brushed his thumb along her jaw line.
She sighed internally. His touch often had an effect on her that she would be embarrassed to admit to anyone other than him…and perhaps even to him.
“You know that I don’t like to discuss my work before…”
“You brought it up,” he whispered softly next to her ear before nibbling lightly.
Flustered and blushing, she pulled back slightly. “It isn’t set in stone just yet but I think the setting is going to be the 38th Chess Olympiad.”
leaned back with a smug expression on his face.
“Is that why you’re traveling to
She nodded and without further encouragement from George shared a few of her ideas for her next novel. When she finished, she was the one with a smug look on her face.
“You didn’t think that I’d tell you, did you?”
didn’t think that there was a chance in hell that you’d tell me – at least not this
early in the process. Normally, you’d
wait until you were ready to leave for
Now it was Jessica who leaned in provocatively. “You thought I’d just let you have your way with me rather than tell you about my book. Is that what you thought?”
“Mmmm. Hmmm,” he murmured. Good Lord, she was amazing - in every way – smart, stunning, and sassy when it suited her. And she was all his.
“You’re sneaky,” she scolded playfully.
“That’s not all I am,” he replied, his words now thicker than a few moments earlier.
Her lips met his in a long, lingering kiss before she framed his face with her hands. “I’m going to need sustenance if we’re going to continue this.”
It took a moment for George’s mind to clear. “Food?”
“And champagne?” he asked.
Jessica nodded again, this time with a smile.
George gathered her in his arms and stood. “The lady may have whatever her heart desires,” he proclaimed before hitching her up a little higher and carrying her toward the kitchen.
George stretched as he slowly awoke from an afternoon nap. He had nodded off sometime after they had feasted on fresh fruit, cheese, and champagne. Picnicking in front of the fireplace had been Jessica’s idea and a rather romantic one at that. It was no wonder that they had ended up back in bed.
Setting aside the well worn yet warm quilt that Jessica had lain over him, he reached for his clothes, which lay haphazardly over the quilt rack that stood next to the bedroom door. Being near her always made him feel somehow younger and more energetic but if he didn’t watch it, he reminded himself, he’d pay for it in a day or two.
After dressing, he descended the steps to see what Jessica was up to. He found her in the dining room, preparing to wrap a gift.
“Christmas has passed,” he reminded her. He bent down and kissed her on the nape of the neck before picking up a black and white covered book from the table – The Complete Mother Goose.
“It’s a shower gift for my niece, Jill,” she explained as she rolled out gift wrap of a soft creamy yellow. “She’s due the end of this month.”
George studied the book quietly, paging through it slowly from front to back. When he was finished, he handed it to her and then turned his attention to the other items that would fill a small white basket.
“George, is there something wrong?” she asked cautiously, recognizing his unusually quiet demeanor.
“No, love, everything’s fine.”
He picked up a small plush lamb, wound its music box and was rewarded with an instrumental version of Jesus Loves Me. He set the lamb down and listened for a moment. “I was just reminded that there is something about myself which I’ve never told you…and I’m not quite sure why that is.”
Jessica nestled a small silver picture frame into the basket. “Perhaps there was never an appropriate time,” she offered, trying to make what he had to tell her easier somehow.
“When Emily was killed, she was pregnant with our son,” George said without looking up.
Jessica instinctively reached for his hand. “It must be very difficult to talk about,” she said, comforting him with her words as well as her touch.
He shook his head. “I came to terms with that a very long time ago,” he replied somberly. “And we’ve spoken of Emily and of Frank often enough.”
“But he was your flesh and blood,” Jessica reminded him.
“Aye, that he was,” George replied as he sat down on a small bench. “Lucky lad looked like his mum, though. All he got from me was my eyes.”
Jessica smiled and gently squeezed his hand. “Then you had a little time together?”
“Aye - an hour, maybe a little longer. His lungs were not fully developed and there was no neonatal intensive care back in those days. ”
George closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. “Sometimes I wonder how a day filled with so much grief could have brought even a few moments of joy.”
Jessica sat down next to him and laid her hand on his knee. “Even if it was only for a short time, the two of you must have shared a very special bond. And no matter how much time has passed, that bond has obviously never been weakened and the pain that you feel for having lost him has never diminished.”
George nodded and opened his eyes to look at her. “Does it bother you that I’ve waited this long to tell you?”
Jessica met his eyes, shook her head, and smiled comfortingly. “I knew you’d tell me about Thomas when the time was right for you.”
Now George smiled. “Jess, you’re a very special, very wise…”
He paused and his smile vanished as he tilted his head in contemplation. “How did you know his name was Thomas…and why don’t you seem the least bit surprised by any of this?”
Jessica cringed slightly and then kissed him gently on the cheek. “Do you remember a couple of years ago when I discovered the secret behind your Commander’s Badge, and I told you that The Times has a wonderful online archive?”
“Aye,” George answered, slowly drawing out the single syllable word. Bloody hell, she’s known all this time.
“Are you angry with me?” Jessica asked tentatively, noticing a slight stiffening of his posture.
“I couldn’t possibly be,” he answered truthfully after relaxing again. Not only was she wise but she loved him. And along with that love, she understood the necessity of allowing him to decide when it was the right time to divulge this particular part of his past. He couldn’t possibly be cross with her for that.
“Now,” he said, surveying the remaining items that would be thoughtfully placed in the wicker basket, “why don’t I help you finish up here.”
He had obviously said all that he wished to say for the time being so Jessica didn’t push and instead welcomed his assistance.
“I’m not much good when it comes to wrapping things,” he warned her. “But I can certainly offer you my finger when it comes time to tie the bow.”
“Jessica, who is the fair little lassie standing with you in this photograph?” George asked from the living room as Jessica mixed packets of hot cocoa with water that had been boiled over the hot coals of the fireplace.
Jessica set both steaming mugs on the coffee table and curled up on the couch next to him, pulling the quilt that they shared over her legs. “Let me see,” she said as she inspected the old black and white photo.
George helpfully pointed to the younger and smaller of the two girls.
“Why, that’s me!” she exclaimed. “And this is Brigid,” she said, pointing to the older girl. “I’m sure I’ve told you about her.”
George shook his head. “No, you haven’t,” he said before scrutinizing the photo more closely. “A cousin on the McGill side?” he guessed.
Jessica shook her head. “Heavens no – we’re not even related.”
George shrugged. “It looks like it was taken on board a ship.”
“The Duchess of Atholl… in 1940.”
“During the war, when your family fled
We came to Cabot Cove and Brigid’s family went to
George couldn’t dismiss the sparkle in Jessica’s eyes or the excitement in her voice. “I get the feeling there’s something you’re not telling me.”
“You were only ten years old when you solved your first murder? Amazing!”
“Yes, well, I had a little help,” Jessica replied modestly.
“And Brigid, do you know whatever became of her?”
Jessica laughed. “She became a rather famous actress. Don’t you recognize her?”
George scrutinized the photo once again. “Well, she does look a bit like…Angela Lansbury?”
“Yes, Angela Brigid
Lansbury. And I
just received a letter from her a few weeks ago. She still loves
“She should,” George said as he turned the page. “I saw her in Sweeney Todd years ago. She was wonderful.”
“This must be your college graduation,” he guessed. “And your…ye gads, Jessica! Look at you. You’re absolutely beautiful,” George exclaimed when he discovered a candid wedding photograph of Jessica and Frank. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another couple who looked so in love.”
“It was the best day of my life,” Jessica confessed quietly.
George wrapped an arm around her shoulders, pulled her close and kissed her on the top of the head. “I don’t doubt it for a minute.”
“This must be your honeymoon,” he decided after flipping another page to find the happy young couple posing for a photograph with a background composed of pink, granite cliffs and crashing ocean waves.
Jessica pointed to a similar photograph taken years later. “And this one was taken on our 25th wedding anniversary.”
George looked at her with a very serious expression on his face. “How is it that you don’t look as though you’ve aged a day in the past fifteen or twenty years?”
Jessica shook her head and laughed at him before going on to the next page.
“Ah, the QEII,” he commented, knowing
that Jessica and Frank had once crossed the
“He looks like a very nervous groom,” George observed when they reached Grady and Donna’s wedding photos. “You might have been, too, under the circumstances.”
Jessica sighed internally. The Mayberry’s weren’t bad people. They were just…”
“Jess, what circumstances?”
“Oh, Grady was still a bit intimidated by Donna’s father back then, and then the housekeeper was murdered, and Donna’s old boyfriend, Wilfred…”
“The housekeeper was murdered?” George asked incredulously.
“I’m afraid so,” she answered before giving him a brief synopsis of the woman’s untimely death.
“This is my niece Victoria,” Jessica explained when they reached another wedding picture.
“And who is this?” George asked, pointing to a rather unattractive blonde woman dressed in fuschia and black. She didn’t look at all like any of Jessica’s other nieces.
“That’s Howard,” Jessica answered matter-of-factly.
George’s eyebrows rose to form question marks. “Howard?”
When Jessica paused George shook his head knowingly. “Oh, Jessie, don’t tell me someone was murdered there, too.”
She shrugged guiltily. “I’m afraid so. Mr. Drake, the owner, was shot and the police arrested Howard.”
George smiled and guessed the rest of the story. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like a job at The Yard?”
“Where was this taken?” he wondered when he came across a photo of Seth looking hot, tired and dusty.
“An archeology dig in
George noticed her slight change in demeanor but chose not to mention it. He knew that Jessica had found herself smack dab in the middle of more than one mysterious murder over the years - something that she knew made him uneasy – and she was obviously making an effort to not worry him. Slim chance of that, love, he thought, his protective instincts alive and well.
“Do you remember this?” Jessica asked with an engaging smile.
“The foot bridge that spans the
“Do you remember all of those little sparkling lights?”
“Aye, and don’t forget the ones at
“And here we are in front of the
Christmas tree at
“And this I definitely remember,”
George said, pointing to a photograph of Jessica that he had taken when they
“Our first fight,” Jessica recalled.
“That’s not the part that I remember,” he mumbled as he tipped his head down to kiss her.
Jessica laid a hand firmly on his chest. “George, I may have passed my annual physical with flying colors, but…”
He leaned back and smiled. “Just reminiscing,” he said as he continued on to the next page. He smiled to himself, still amazed at how easily she responded to him.
Reminiscing, my foot, Jessica murmured under her breath.
“Did you say something, love,” he asked as he scanned more photographs.
“Not a thing,” she replied before
helping to identify more of the pictures.
“Michael Haggerty,” George said, finishing her sentence and doing a masterful job of hiding his annoyance, or so he thought.
He genuinely liked and respected Michael. He just didn’t like the fact that he and Jessica were such close friends. Even though Haggerty had done the noble thing and taken a step back, George still suspected that if he and Jessica faltered even the slightest bit, Michael would be patiently waiting in the wings.
Tessa had figured that out for herself and had fortunately ended her and Michael’s relationship after only a short time. Jessica had most certainly been right about that. Tessa was more than capable of handling Michael Haggerty.
The final picture was of Jessica and George, posing in front of a glacial lake with the setting sun casting an array of vivid colors over a background of rugged mountain peaks. “I remember this as well,” George said with a sly smile. “We got soaked and had to strip our clothes off as soon as we got back into our cabin.”
“Nice try, George,” Jessica said as she closed the album and set it on the coffee table.
“What?” he asked, feigning innocence.
“You’re shameless,” she said with a shake of her head.
“Did we or did we not…” he began.
“Drink your cocoa,” Jessica instructed, pretending that she was not enjoying the flirtatious moment. The truth was, she enjoyed their playful banter very much. She was also enjoying their quiet, intimate snow day together even more.
Jessica watched as George tended to the fire. With no electricity and snow still falling outside, night seemed to have fallen much earlier than usual. She watched silently, taking in the small glowing sparks that shot upward as he added a fresh log and the flames as they danced behind him, casting interesting shadows and accenting his extremely handsome profile.
He caught her staring and thought that he noticed the hint of a smile playing at the corners of her mouth. “Penny for your thoughts,” he asked as he turned fully to face her.
Slightly embarrassed, she shook her head ‘no’ and looked down at her lap momentarily. When she looked up again, her cheeks were flushed.
“Jess,” he said as he joined her on the couch again, “please tell me.”
Jessica kissed him on the cheek and then her eyes met his. Closer now, he could begin to read more clearly the emotions intertwined with the brilliant blue.
“I was thinking about how lucky I am to have found you,” she began. “And how very much I love you.” She kissed him gently on the lips and then nestled close and rested her head against his shoulder. “You’ve made me the happiest woman alive.”
George kissed her on the top of her head. “It’s been a very special day,” he agreed.
Jessica looked up at him. “Not just today, George, but everyday that we’re together…every time that we chat on the phone…every e-mail, every letter…every time that we share the same bed.”
George wasn’t quite sure what to say. He leaned down and kissed her again. “I love you more than anything, Jessie,” he mumbled before kissing her still again.
After parting, he drew her close and held her for a long time. This was the first time that she had ever hinted at the possibility that she might want for them to have a more conventional relationship and he wasn’t sure how to respond. What if he was wrong and she simply meant that she was very happy with the status quo.
Still struggling to decipher her words, he didn’t answer.
“George?” Where has he wandered off to, she thought.
Her voice finally drew him back. “Aye.”
“What would you like to do for dinner?” she asked. It was nearing dinner time and her own stomach was protesting for food.
“What?” Dinner was the last thing on his mind. What exactly had she meant? Had she expected a specific response from him?
“How about grilled cheese?” Jessica suggested.
“Jessica, we still don’t have electricity,” George finally reminded her.
She stood and headed for the kitchen. “This is going to be the best grilled cheese you’ve ever tasted.”
And it was.
After eating, they arranged pillows and soft blankets in front of the fire. Their comfortable conversation was only interrupted by quiet moments of private contemplation as they watched the flames in the hearth and listened to the wind outside.
They held each other close and eventually they made love again - slowly with long, lingering kisses, each filled with passion, affection, and love; gently, exploring each other’s most intimate secrets; and completely, sating them both physically and emotionally.
Before allowing herself to fade off into a restful sleep, Jessica whispered softly to him, “Happy Birthday, love.”
George’s final thought before joining her was a very content, Happy Birthday, indeed!
“Guid morning, love,” he said when he descended the stairs the next morning to greet her in the kitchen.
Jessica greeted him with a light kiss on the lips and then motioned for him to sit down at the table. By the expression on his face, there was no doubt that he was a very happy man – a very happy man filled with excess energy.
After breakfast and a second cup of coffee, Jessica stood from the table. He stood, too, and began to clear the table, brushing up against her gently as he deposited the dishes into the sink.
Jessica smiled to herself. “George, could you do something for me,” she asked.
He wrapped his arm around her and murmured next to her ear, “Anything.”
Time to get him out of the house, she thought before retrieving his coat as well as a scarf, hat and pair of warm mittens. She handed them to him. This wasn’t what she originally had in mind but it seemed to be the wisest course of action at the moment. “The walks need to be cleared. Would you be a dear?”
Later, Jessica trimmed a new wick and then added oil to one of two hurricane lamps that sat on the kitchen counter. The blizzard had passed and now nearly two feet of snow lay on the ground. Power had been restored and as soon as the last flake had settled to the ground, the inhabitants of the small, picturesque village began to emerge from their dwellings.
The sun was shining now and George was shoveling the walks while Jessica prepared tea and replenished the lamps.
Jessica heard the stomping of feet approaching just before the back door flew open. “You’d better tell George to slow down with all that shoveling or he’ll have a heart attack,” Seth announced as he entered and removed his gloves and hat.
Jessica screwed the oil burner back onto the base of the lamp and then placed the glass chimney on top. “Seth, it’s nice of you to be worried about him but I’m sure he’ll be fine. He has amazing stamina.”
Seth’s eyes grew wide and for a moment he was speechless. “How do you know what kind of stamina he has?” he asked accusingly.
Jessica went red in the face. “I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant that…”
She stopped in mid-sentence when Sheriff Mort Metzger opened the back door and stepped into the kitchen.
“Howdy, Mrs. F,” he said as he removed his hat. “Doc,” he added with a nod. He looked from one to the other. “Am I interrupting something?”
“No,” they answered in unison.
The door opened yet again and Tipper stepped inside. She shook a few flakes from her cap and then removed it along with her mittens. “Wow! George is in really great shape, isn’t he? Look at all that snow he’s shoveled. He must have started hours ago.”
Seth cringed noticeably.
“What?” she asked in response to Seth’s strange behavior.
Jessica sighed. “Seth was just expressing concern that George might be exerting himself too much.”
“Are you kidding,” Tipper said. “He’s nearly finished and he doesn’t look the least bit tired. He obviously has great stamina.”
“That’s what I was just saying. He plays tennis and he walks everywhere.”
Seth put his hands over his ears. “I don’t want to hear another word about George Sutherland’s stamina,” he grouched.
“’ello,” George said brightly as he poked his head into the kitchen. His nose and cheeks were red from the cold but as Tipper had observed, he didn’t look at all tired.
“I don’t get it,” she said, still in the dark. “Why do you care? It’s not like Jessica was referring to his sexual stamina.”
George winced. This was a topic that he preferred remained private. “I think I’ll finish shoveling,” he said, taking a step backward and retreating into the snow and cold.
“I think I’ll help,” Jessica decided suddenly, grabbing her coat and following him outside.
Tipper’s jaw dropped open. “Ohhhhh,” she said, her eyes growing large.
She turned to look from Seth to Mort and then back to the door that Jessica had closed behind her and George after their hasty departure. “You don’t really think…omigosh,” she said excitedly. “I can’t believe it. They really…oh, boy…they’re a couple!”
Jessica rounded the corner in search of George. Where did he go, she thought just as a snowball exploded against her shoulder.
When she looked up, there was George, grinning like a schoolboy.
Jessica picked up two handfuls of snow and slowly molded a large, perfect sphere. She took three steps toward him and let it fly.
He dodged the flying mass and responded with one of his own, hitting her squarely in the chest.
Jessica was tempted to respond in kind but decided on a different approach. “What was that for,” she asked as she advanced on him.
George was still grinning. “I don’t know exactly what you said in there but it sounded to me as though you’ve sullied my reputation.”
“Your reputation?” she asked in mock disbelief.
As she closed the gap between them, he held up his hands in surrender and stepped out from behind the tree that had provided him cover. His laughing eyes had softened and his voice was gentle as he pulled her close.
“Not exactly the way you intended to tell Seth, was it?”
“No, but maybe it’s for the best. At least it’s done and over with,” she answered almost sullenly. How many times had she tried to tell him? At least a dozen.
Jessica smiled sweetly and reached up to wrap her mittened hands around George’s neck. She kissed him firmly on the lips and deposited two handfuls of snow down his back.
George jumped and squirmed as the freezing snow trickled downward beneath his sweater and along his bare skin. When he finally managed to get it out, he looked at her in amazement.
She grinned mischievously and ducked behind another tree. “I can’t believe that you abandoned me in my time of need. That wasn’t very chivalrous.”
With his face set in grim determination, George set off through the snow in Jessica’s direction. “You’re going to regret that,” he threatened.
When he was within arms length, he stopped. “Truce?” he asked, much to Jessica’s surprise.
She looked at him skeptically.
“How about an alliance then,” he suggested. “I don’t think that either one of us wants to face the firing squad alone,” he reasoned, “but together we might stand a chance.”
He was right. Jessica stepped forward and took his offered hand, and he pulled her into his arms. Just as their lips met, a small avalanche of snow fell from the tree above, landing directly on the tops of their heads. They kissed again, not minding the fact that they were now wet, cold, and covered with snow.
“Well, would you look at that,” Mort said as he looked out the window.
“Wow,” Tipper said. “They’re either really in love or would rather freeze their tails off than face the three of us.”
Both, Seth suspected as his heart sunk.
“Maybe we should go,” Tipper suggested. “Let them spend some time alone,” she said as she started for the door.
They just spent an entire day together, Seth thought to himself as he and Mort followed.
After saying their goodbyes, Tipper headed off toward home on foot and Mort and Seth stopped to chat next to their vehicles. “She looks mighty happy,” Mort said.
“Ayuh,” Seth replied as he pulled opened his door.
“Say, Doc, why don’t you join Adelle and me for dinner tonight?”
Seth shook his head ‘no’ and declined.
“You’d really be doing me a favor,” Mort continued. “Adelle is having one of those women’s parties and I’ll be the only source of testosterone in the house,” he explained.
Seth huffed out a breath. “Fine, what time?”
“I’ll call and let you know,” Mort said before climbing into his vehicle and pulling away from the house.
George and Jessica met in the kitchen after searching the entire house. She gave a huge sigh of relief when George told her that he hadn’t been able to find Tipper, Mort or Seth anywhere.
George leaned against the counter and looked at her, knowing exactly what she was thinking. “Never put off until tomorrow what you could do today,” he said supportively.
Jessica nodded and smiled. He was right again. “Maybe Seth will be free for lunch,” she said as she lifted the telephone to her ear and began to dial.