--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. 



            Jessica nearly sighed as the long column of silk flowed down the length of her body.  The thought of George shopping for lingerie brought a smile to her lips.  After all, he did tend to be much more reserved in public than in private when it came to romance.  It was only too bad that this was a working vacation for both of them, she thought as she stroked a brush through her golden hair. 

After a long flight from coast to coast, she had decided to turn in early while George attended a social function.  They had yet to see each other since arriving and he had been oh-so-tempted to skip the event but professionalism had won out.  As a guest speaker for the conference, he really had no choice but to attend.

            As she finished and set the brush down on the marble table top, she heard a faint piping sound emanating from the bedroom of their suite.  Loch Lomond, she recalled when she heard the now familiar ring tone that “little” Frank had felt was necessary to signal her that she had received a text message from George.

            She crawled beneath the covers and retrieved the phone from the night stand after getting comfortable.

            The message was simple, a single word – apart.

            Jessica keyed in her response – together – hit send and then fluffed her pillow.  Yes, they were apart, but soon, very soon, they would be together.  Perhaps she should have responded with patience, she thought as she set the phone aside and opened a spiral bound notebook, intent on reviewing her notes before George returned.  But once again, she heard bagpipes. 


Jessica smiled and typed a quick response – and a day – before returning to her notes.  At the urging of a close personal friend, she had agreed to meet with an elderly gentleman who had spun an intriguing tale that had culminated in the murder of the woman who he had loved, the woman he had never stopped loving, and sadly, the woman to whom he had never declared his love. 

Not only did Arthur Hastings want Jessica to write his story, he wanted her to give the story an ending, an ending that would bring Elizabeth’s killer to justice.  Jessica had very patiently explained that she was neither a private investigator nor an author of true crime novels but the old man had been persistent, appealing to her heart. 

Had she ever loved a man beyond words, he had asked.  Yes, she had answered, but only to herself – twice.  Had she acted on that love or had she lived a life of sorrow, regretting her own inaction?  Nearly, she admitted, once again only to herself. 

Jessica turned the page and continued to read.

Several floors below, George discretely punched a man’s name into his phone, pushed the send button, and then tucked the phone back into his pocket before picking up his glass of scotch and greeting a colleague from Toronto. 

When Jessica read his response, she was impressed – Shakespeare. 

So, she said, speaking softly although she was alone, you’re either extremely bored or you’ve missed me as much as I’ve missed you.  For some strange reason she was more than willing to indulge him – probably because this was completely out of character.  He was not easily distracted when working and the fact that he obviously was tonight had her intrigued. 

She thought for a moment and then typed in her response, quoting Shakespeare’s Henry IV as any good participant in a game of word association should - the game is afoot.

Shelock Holmes was George’s reply.  Jessica responded with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and laughed aloud when she read George’s next response – Scotsman.

Of course he would point out the fact that Conan Doyle was a fellow Scot.  Jessica keyed in poet and then waited.  Few people realized that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had been a poet.

George’s response read – but to see her was to love her, Love but her, and love forever – a quote from another famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns.   

She responded with her own Burns quote – hope springs exultant on triumphant wing.

Jessica looked at the clock.  At least another hour before George would be able to slip away, she thought just as the piping began again.

Anticipation was the message that she read.

As George ordered another scotch, his phone began to vibrate in his pocket.  He retrieved it and immediately canceled his order after reading Jessica’s text message – perpetual anticipation is good for the soul but bad for the heart.  Sondheim, he recalled as he slipped from the room and headed for the elevators.

The lift doors opened immediately.  He stepped inside and pushed the button for the fourteenth floor before beginning another message - The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers.  For the life of him, he could not recall who had said that, but Jessica had certainly opened his heart, he thought fondly, and at a time that he would not have thought it possible.   

And the more you open your heart to others, the less your heart suffers, Jessica thought as her own heart filled to bursting.  It had taken a great deal of patience and time on George’s part but he had taught her that.  Why had she been so reluctant to allow herself to love again, she questioned silently.  Fear, the fear of loss.  But how much time had they lost because of it?  Years, she decided regretfully. 

Jessica turned when she sensed his presence in the room, dashing away a tear with her hand as she offered him a weak smile.  “What are you doing here?”

“Are those tears?” he asked gently, ignoring her question and dashing away another with his thumb.  He pulled her close and kissed her softly on the temple.  “Care to tell me why the most beautiful woman in the world is alone and greetin’?” he asked as he caressed her golden blonde hair. 

Jessica shook her head and began to pull back so that she could see him.  Greetin’?”

“Crying,” he translated.

“Just fatigue and stress,” she said by way of explanation.  She framed his face with her hands and peered into his jade green eyes.  “I’ve missed you.” 

There was more to it than that, George thought to himself.  There had to be.

“As I have you,” he replied, briefly taking his eyes off hers and glancing down to see the final text message that he had sent. 

Bloody hell, he cursed himself.  Why didn’t I just go with ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’?

“George, I need to say something to you,” Jessica began with a renewed sense of spirit.

When he attempted to interrupt with the beginnings of an apology, she cut him off abruptly.

She took his hands in hers before continuing.  “I have lived my life with very few regrets.”

He nodded, suddenly recalling bits and pieces of the days leading up to Jessica’s departure from New York City.  She had told him of her meeting with Arthur Hastings and of his request; and now her notes from that meeting lay open on her bed. Hastings had gotten to her, he realized. 

“Jessie, we’re not…”

“No, George, I need to say this.”

…Arthur and Elizabeth, he finished silently.

A simple I love you could not express the feelings that had grown inside her over the years.  She knew that.

“I’ve told you before that the very first time that we met, I felt a spark.”

He had felt it, too, and the memory of it made him smile.

“I was attracted to you from the very beginning,” she confided, “but I refused to admit it to myself.  To feel those emotions again after so many years, it wasn’t practical.  And when you first told me that you loved me, well…by then, I had so thoroughly convinced myself that…”  She struggled to find the right words.

“…that you weren’t lonely?” he supplied.

“No,” Jessica replied.  “I was never lonely, just alone.  There’s a difference.  No, I had convinced myself that my life was full.  And it was.  But my heart wasn’t.  I didn’t allow it to be.”

            Jessica took a deep breath and then continued.  “You convinced me to open my heart again, as I had only ever done for one other person.”

            George smiled and then leaned forward to kiss her on the forehead.  “As you opened mine,” he said, giving her hand a squeeze.

            “I love you beyond words, George, but I regret that…”

            “No regrets, Jessica.  I won’t allow it,” he interrupted firmly.

            “But, George, we lost years, years we’ll never get…”

            Before she could finish, his mouth was on hers.  “No regrets,” he murmured to her between kisses. 

            When she began to protest, he stopped her with a steely stare that quickly turned to a mischievous smile.  “You regret that we’ve lost time, is that right?”


            “Then we’ll just have to make up for lost time,” he said before drawing her near and exploring the pale blue silk that flowed the length of her. 

            “Did you say ‘years’?” he asked as he drew his head back from where he had been nuzzling her neck.

            Jessica laughed.  He could always make her laugh.


            Later, as they held each other close, both completely satisfied and content, George made an observation.  “You know, Jess,” he said as he traced a finger along the thin silk strap that lay across Jessica’s shoulder.  “If we’re going to make up for lost time…”

            Jessica quickly placed a hand over his mouth.  “Go to sleep,” she scolded playfully.  “You have a speech to give in the morning.”

            He mumbled something beneath her hand. 


            George gently removed her hand.

            “I’ll wing it,” he repeated, grinning broadly.  .