-- 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. 




            Isn’t it amazing how quickly one’s life can be turned completely upside down?

One moment you’re absolutely content, going about the normal course of the day and seemingly not wanting or needing for anything.  Believe me.  I know this because that is exactly how I felt earlier today as I sat at my desk, typing a detailed report of a homicide that my team had investigated in Vauxhall this morning.  It was a particularly gruesome double murder, the victims were an elderly couple…but I’m getting off track here, aren’t I?

            Back to the topic at hand – the papers that are presently scattered over the surface of my desk, daring me to upset the normal equilibrium of things.  The first is a letter from my nephew offering his services to manage my ancestral home, which I presently rent out as a hotel.  The lad has recently graduated from university and has spent the past two summers working as an intern at two of London’s finest hotels.  He is not only qualified but he has always felt drawn to place, even as a youngster.  The second is a job offer in the States, the third a request for early retirement from The New Scotland Yard. 

On the surface one might think me to be either insane or completely daft not to jump at the opportunity to retire with a full pension while accepting a well paying post with the United States government.  As a matter of fact, my Superintendent advised me to ‘take the money and run’ when he presented the opportunity to me over a cup of Earl Grey this afternoon.  You would think that knowing that Sutherland Castle will be well cared for in my absence that this would be a rather uncomplicated decision.  Unfortunately, that is not the case.   

You see, there is a very special woman in my life and I am not exactly sure how she will react to the idea of having me underfoot on a much more frequent basis.  Actually, she is the reason that I am standing here in Heathrow Airport at this very moment, pacing while I wait for the arrival of her flight from New York. 

For the past three years our lives have been perfect – well, perfect for us.  Jessica lives in Manhattan, where she teaches and writes.  Did I mention that she is a best selling author and the reigning queen of murder mysteries?  No?  Well, she is, and the title is well deserved.  But that’s a story for another time, I’m afraid. 

At any rate, when her schedule permits, she travels north to her home in a small costal Maine village where she can recharge her batteries and enjoy her friends, her garden, and the fresh sea air.  I, on the other hand, live in London, work throughout Great Britain, and travel home to Wick, Scotland, as my schedule permits.  Somewhere in there, we find the time to enjoy each other’s company.    

To date, we are managing fairly well.  But I suppose if I were to be completely honest, I’d have to say that our relationship would be even more perfect if we at least lived on the same coast.

Will she agree with me on this matter?  I guess I’ll find out soon enough because there she is.

Isn’t she lovely – that smile and those amazingly blue eyes? 

Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am, how wonderful it feels to hold her in my arms again, and how amazing she smells.




Perhaps dinner and my announcement can wait until we’ve had an opportunity to get thoroughly reacquainted? 


“Sorry, love,” I apologized as I reluctantly released her and held her at arms length.  “I couldn’t help myself,” I added with a devilish grin.

She smiled up at me, knowing exactly what was on my mind.

“Did you sleep on the plane?” I queried as I took her overnight bag and threw it over my shoulder.

 She nodded.  “Yes.”

I offered her my free arm and led her down the concourse.  “In that case, I imagine you’ll be wanting dinner.”

“Yes.  I’m starved.”



There, perfect - simple tablecloth, china, crystal, silver, and candle light. 

How fortunate I am that Jessica tends to be a creature of habit when she travels.  If I hadn’t already known that she would want a little time alone to shower and unpack, I’d have made a reservation for dinner instead of planning an intimate meal for two in the cozy confines of our loft – well, technically, it’s my loft, but the small touches that she has added in recent years makes it feel like our loft – something I happen to like very much.

As far as a setting, there are few places that I feel are appropriate for this evening – Brown’s hotel  and the gardens of Sutherland Castle or perhaps the sitting room there top the list after the loft.  ‘tis true that we first met at Brown’s and that I first professed my love for her in Scotland but the loft…well, the loft is special.  The loft is where we first…


Dinner’s ready. 

Hmmmmm.  Just a touch more lemon, I think. 

And...voilapretty tasty if I do say so myself.  Let’s see, appetizer, main course, and dessert.  We’d better begin with a glass of wine, though.

Arr…ugh.  “Bloody cork!”


You know, I can’t help but wonder if this announcement should be accompanied by a proposal. 

Hmmmmm.  Good question. 

I know that one of Jessica’s reservations about getting married again is the expansive body of water that separates us on a daily basis and I happen to agree with her on that point but…I do have the ring.  I’ve had it for years. 

Then again, years are exactly how long it took for her to finally warm up to the idea of us being…how do I put this delicately…more than friends.


“George, it’s lovely!” she exclaimed as she entered the room.

“Not nearly as lovely as you,” I offered as I crossed the room to meet her.  Why in the world did I insist on feeding her first? 

Jessica began to laugh but I wasn’t sure what she found so funny.  “You look like the big bad wolf and I feel like Little Red Riding Hood,” she chuckled. 

Pull yourself together, man.  Deep breath.  That’s it.  You made it nearly a month.  What’s another hour or two?    

“Madam,” I said after finally collecting myself.  “Please, sit down.”   

Smiling from ear to ear, she sat down in the chair that I offered to her.

“A glass of wine?”

“Yes,” she answered.  “What are we celebrating tonight?”

I handed her a glass of sauvignon blanc and then took my own seat.  “What makes you think we’re celebrating?”

She leaned forward conspiratorially.  “Your eyes – when you’re off duty they are very expressive.”

“As are yours,” I replied as I slid the appetizers in her direction.    

She chose small portions of bread, cheese, and fruit and slid the plate back toward me.  “Does this have something to do with the retirement papers sitting on the top of your desk?”

I’m certain that my jaw dropped halfway to the floor, and I know that I stuttered, “But how…you saw…Jess…my desk…”

            She reached over and patted my hand.  “I needed to make a quick telephone call after I unpacked and they were right there on the center of the desk.”

            “Oh,” I replied, unsure of how exactly to respond.  After all, she was a notorious snoop but then again, I had left them out in plain sight.

            Jessica dipped her bread into a small spot of olive oil and took a bite.  Suddenly, she was brimming with excitement.  “What new adventure will you undertake once you’ve retired?”


“George, dear, I know you well enough to know that you would never leave The Yard to spend the next twenty or thirty years sitting around in a rocking chair, so you must have something new and exciting lined up.”

I was surprised, not because she knew me so well or because of her logical reasoning but rather because she hadn’t read all of the papers on my desk. 

It’s now or never, Sutherland, old chap.  Tell her.

“Well, Jess, you’re right.  I’ve been offered a new position.”

“That’s wonderful!” she exclaimed.  “What will you be doing?”

“Teaching investigative techniques and I might have the opportunity to do some profiling.”

She smiled again.  “You’ll love it and I have every confidence that you’ll be very good at it,” she assured me, still smiling.

What’s going on? I wondered.  She looked ready to burst into song, not that I’ve ever heard her burst into song, but you know what I mean.  “Jess, is there something that you want to tell me?”

“Yes,” she answered, unable to contain herself any longer.  “The powers that be at Tudor House have requested that I begin making more frequent trips to the U.K. – four trips a year instead of just one.”

I didn’t know quite how to respond and I’m quite certain that the disappointment that I felt was rather obvious. 

“George, what’s the matter?  I thought you’d be thrilled.”

I rested my head in my hands for a moment before looking up at her.  “The job that I’ve been offered is in the States – in Boston to be exact.  I’ll also be expected to spend a fair amount of time in Quantico.  If I accept this post, I won’t even be in London when you visit.” 

I felt disheartened by the thought. Jessica and I have created a great many wonderful memories together here, in the British Isles. 

I couldn’t have been more surprised by her reaction.  She practically leaped out of her chair.  Boston, you’ll be in Boston?  That’s only four hours from Manhattan by train.”  She paused for a minute and then continued.  “I’ll just tell Tudor House that four visits is out of the question but that two would be acceptable.  Perhaps we can combine one of them with a holiday.  I imagine you’ll need to go back to Wick a couple of times per year to make sure things are running smoothly.”

“Evan has graduated from university and has asked my permission to manage the hotel,” I explained. 

“That may be but you’ll still want to go back.  No, you’ll need to go back - more often than you may think.  I know you, George Sutherland.  It’s in your blood.”

She was right.  Sutherland Castle is my sanctuary, the place where I feel most alive and at peace with the world.  What she doesn’t realize is that in her, I have found a second haven, a place where I feel equally alive and at peace with the world, no matter where we are.

“This is absolutely perfect,” she decided before standing slightly, leaning across the table, and kissing me on the lips. 

“Are you sure you won’t mind having me under foot on a regular basis?”

“Of course not, I’ll love every minute of it.”  She tilted her head to the side and a small smile played at the corners of her lips.  “Is that why you’ve been so nervous tonight?  Because you didn’t know how I would react to having you on my side of the pond?”

“I wasn’t nervous,” I protested.

She shook her head.  “George, you’ve loosened your tie a half dozen times and you had your shirt sleeves rolled up to your elbows before you even brought out the filet of sole, which is wonderful by the way.”

“What?” I said, looking down at my clothes and seeing that she was absolutely right.

“You looked so nervous that I thought you might be planning to get down on one knee and propose.”

“Actually, Jess…”

“George, stop,” she beseeched me, placing her index finger to my lips.

“Let me finish,” I mumbled against her finger, which she still held firmly in place.

Marriage is a sticky topic for the two of us, something that we have discussed on more than one occasion in the past.  I respect the fact that she prefers to maintain the status quo but I think that we both know that I would prefer that we were married.  It’s one of the few topics upon which we do not agree.  But ultimately, I must respect her decision. 

She sighed and reluctantly lowered her hand. 

“Thank you,” I began as I took her hands in mine and looked deeply into her eyes.  “What I was going to say was that the idea had crossed my mind.”

How could it not have?  I mean, I have the bloody ring and all. 

“But then I decided that perhaps we should continue to take things one step at a time, taking advantage of the opportunities that we have to be together as we’ve always done and without rushing into anything.”

She looked confused by my explanation.  “I thought you wanted to get married.”

“I do.”

“But not now?”

“No, love, not now.”

“Why not?”

I had to fight to suppress a smile.  She was incredibly sexy when she was feisty.  “Would you like me to go into the den and get the ring?” I threatened.  “I could certainly do that for you.  I know exactly where it is.”

“Noooo,” she replied without hesitation, placing her hand firmly against my chest as to prevent me from moving even one step in that direction.

“Then you must be trying to start a row with me?”

“Of course not,” she replied.  “I’m just surprised…pleasantly surprised.  That’s all.”

“You don’t appear to be pleasantly surprised,” I informed her, glancing down at her hand that still lay firmly planted against my chest.  “Perhaps I can help you with that,” I suggested, dipping my head down and kissing her on the sensitive spot just below her ear. 

When I looked up I saw that a smile had spread across her face.  “That’s better but I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” I decided as I gathered her into my arms and carried her off to our bedroom.    

            What happened next? 

            A gentleman never tells.  But I will go so far as to say that sometime later that evening when I asked if she was still in favor of my moving to the States, she replied with a satisfied sigh, “Now more than ever.”


--The End