Tea for Two

-- 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. 


            George leaned casually against the fireplace and listened to his nephew Sean read The Christmas Story to the dozen or so Sutherland children who sat together on the floor of the drawing room.  This was but one of many family traditions that would be played out over the next week and although it was one of George’s favorites, he was happy that it was not his turn to read.  Instead, he was able to be a passive participant while keeping an eye and ear trained in the direction of the foyer. 

            The staff was off for the holidays and he had enlisted Quinn’s help in greeting Jessica when she arrived.  George had instructed his nephew to show Jessica directly to her room so that she would have an opportunity to freshen up before having to meet a houseful of strangers - fourteen bedrooms full of Sutherlands to be exact.  After traveling all day, she would likely also prefer to rest a bit.  And as far as he was concerned, introductions could wait until the morning especially with the hour growing so late. 

            As he surveyed the room, which was filled by his sisters’ families, he noticed Quinn poke his head out from around the corner of the sitting room, which was located between the foyer and the drawing room.  George quietly slipped away from his post and took the rear staircase to the second floor.  It was a round about way of getting to Jessica’s room but while he did want to give her some time to recover from her travels, he had no intention of allowing her to arrive without receiving a proper welcome from him.

            As he walked the length of the hall toward her room, he heard what sounded like squealing children.  The voices grew louder as he continued and much to his surprise and dismay, Jessica’s bedroom door was open and she was not alone.  She was surrounded by six animated, chattering women – Collette, Ailsa, Rebecca, Brigitte, Alana and Tessa – his sisters. 

            Tessa was the first to notice George peering at them from the doorway, and gave her older brother a mischievous grin and a wink before returning her attention to Jessica.  George, who had not been prepared to be ambushed by his sisters, finally decided that if there was any hope of having some time alone with the woman he loved, he had better take control of the situation – a tricky task to be sure.  Without knowing what else to do, he simply knocked on the door.    

            When Jessica turned and saw him in the doorway, he finally spoke.  “Hullo, Jessica.  I don’t wish to interrupt you ladies, but I did want to welcome you, personally, to Sutherland Castle once again.” 

Jessica, who was obviously very pleased to see him, smiled and crossed the room to greet him with a kiss on the cheek.  She paused for a moment as she considered whether or not it would be proper to invite him into her bedroom, especially in the presence of his family.  If it had been just the two of them, the decision would have been easy, but considering the fact that the house was filled with relatives and he had provided her with her own room instead of assuming that she would stay in his, she wasn’t quite sure what to do.

Quickly picking up on Jessica’s indecision, Tessa suggested that they give her some time to settle in and they all agreed to meet in the drawing room in an hour for a cup of hot tea or cocoa in front of the fire.  George lingered in the doorway until those departing were not only out of the room, but down the stairs and completely out of sight.  Finally, he stepped into the room and closed the door.

“One hour? That’s all the time that I get before I have to share you with everyone else?” he said before catching her in a huge hug and planting his lips firmly on hers.  “I was hoping to have the entire night,” he mumbled before releasing her slightly. 

“That’s quite a welcome,” she laughed as she lay her head on his chest, enjoying the moment. 

“Laird, I’ve missed ye, Jessie,” 

“I’ve missed you, too, very much,” she replied, taking his hand and leading him over to the bed, where she plopped down.  “I’m exhausted,” she exclaimed before laying back and closing her eyes with a sigh.

George reclined as well and turned toward her, propping himself up on one elbow.  “Would you like for me to fetch you a cup of tea while you unpack?” he suggested as he watched her closely.  “If you’re tired, you should rest.  You don’t need to go downstairs for tea in the drawing room.  I’ll bring it up to you.”

“Don’t you think that it would be rude of me not to go down,” she asked, her eyes still closed.

“No, I don’t.  You’ve spent the entire day traveling and you are soon going to be forced to socialize with a very large number of strangers for Christmas, my nephew’s wedding, and New Years, all in the span of a week.  I don’t think that anyone will blame you for wanting to rest a bit before taking all of that on.”

“In that case, will you join me?” she asked as she reached up and caressed his cheek with the back of her hand.  It had been months since they had last been together. 

His sparkling green eyes and racing heart sharply contrasted his soft words.  “If you wish.”

Jessica nodded.  “Have I ever told you that you have very beautiful eyes?”  

“That’s because they’re looking at you, Jessie,” he explained before gently tormenting her lips with long, lingering kisses.  “Tea for two, then?” he asked roguishly after ceasing the assault.

Jessica smiled brightly.  “Yes, for two,” she agreed.

“And George,” she added, stopping him at the door.

“Yes, love?”