# 97 Sharpie

 

By Sarah

 

These characters donít belong to me - Iím just having a little fun with them.†† This is a sequel to # 95 Poster.

 

It had been a wonderful week with Jessica.Because she was partly here on business, our work hours didn't conflict.†† Surprisingly, her meetings with her British publishers didn't include evening obligations, so luckily we spent every evening together.London tended to be muggy and miserable in August, but with Jessica in the city, the skies were blue and the air was pleasant.††† I took her to dinner every night, dancing once and even an evening cruise on the Thames.I was in Heaven.††

 

I longed to confess my feelings to her.But it was not to be, at least not yet.It never felt like the right moment and I still couldn't tell whether she would be completely receptive.No matter, because I cherished each moment anyway.†† The only thing missing was taking her in my arms and kissing her.That, and, well, what would surely come after such a move, naturally.†† Every night when I returned to my flat after dropping her at the Savoy, I fell asleep imagining that she was beside me in my bed.It wasn't necessarily a school boy fantasy, but I certainly wouldn't readily admit to it.

 

The night of dancing at the Savoy was almost more than I could stand. ††I had arranged to be there a bit later so I could go home first to shower and change.I wore a new blue suit, white shirt and the lavender silk tie that my sister had given me for my birthday.I picked up a dozen pink roses from the florist near my flat.††† Instead of meeting her in the lobby, I went to her suite to pick her up. I was as nervous as if it was a first date.†† She opened the door with a brilliant smile on her face and invited me in.

 

I was momentarily rendered breathless and speechless by her appearance.She was wearing a sleeveless white silk dress that crossed over her breasts and tied at her slender waist.She wore a strand of pearls and pearl drop earrings.I had never seen her look so shapely or lovely.†† Once I regained my composure, I was able to speak.

 

"Jess," I said quietly, "You look absolutely beautiful."

She smiled, "Thank you, and George, you look absolutely handsome."

I handed her the roses and she held them up to her face and inhaled the sweet aroma.

"Thank you," she said, kissing me on the cheek.†† I still stood awkwardly at the door, watching her as she crossed the room to take care of the roses.

She turned back and looked at me.She said with a chuckle, "Well, are you coming in?"

"Er, oh, yes, of course."I closed the door behind me.††

"We're still a little early for our reservation downstairs.Can I get you a drink in the meantime?Scotch?"

"I'd kill for one, Jess."

"Oh, don't say 'kill'," she admonished playfully.

I finally felt myself relaxing a bit and laughed as I sat down on one of the sofas in the opulent living room of her suite.

She handed me a short glass of a single malt Scotch and sat next to me on the sofa.She was sitting close enough for me to smell her intoxicating scent and feel the warmth of her body.†† I took a rather large gulp of the Scotch and almost choked.†† As I coughed, she patted me hard on my back.

"George?Are you okay?"
"Er, aye, uh, it just went down the wrong way."I set the glass down on the coffee table.

She looked at her watch at the same moment I looked at mine.We both laughed.††

"George, why are you so nervous?"

"I'm acting like a school boy, aren't I?"

"Maybe a little.George, this week has been lovely.Thank you for spending so much time with me."She took my hand in hers and squeezed it.

"Jess, this has been one of my best weeks I've had in a very long time.Really, since San Francisco last year."

"I loved being with you San Francisco."

She was still holding my hand.On impulse, I turned it in my hand and brought it up to my lips.I kissed it tenderly.I opened her palm and looked at it.She had lovely long fingers and the palm of her hand was soft.I held it to my cheek.†† Suddenly, she leaned forward and kissed me.It was a soft, quick kiss, just barely grazing my own lips, but it was unbearably tender.I thought my heart would burst.

"Jess, I think I'm...no, I know that I'm in..."

"Shhhh, it's time to go downstairs," she said as she put her fingers to my lips.†† She stood up quickly and pulled me with her.††† We spent the rest of the evening dining and dancing in the elegant dining room of the Savoy Hotel.†† I never had so much fun dancing and I never wanted the evening to end.However, she had an early meeting and I couldn't keep her out any later.So, I reluctantly walked her back to her suite.At the door, there was more quiet waiting for the other to speak first, but I didn't feel awkward or nervous.I wanted to kiss her fully, to be invited inside...but I could sense she wasn't ready.I kissed her on the cheek and bid her good night.†† As I was walking away, I turned back.She was still standing in her doorway.She smiled and gave me a little wave.†† I smiled back.†† It was just about as close to Heaven as I could get and in hindsight, I wouldn't change a thing about the evening.

 

The next morning, I felt like I was walking on air and was in an expansively good mood.†† When I arrived at my office, my mood was further boosted by the arrival of the package from California.†† It felt like Father Christmas himself had delivered it.†† I opened the tube carefully and pulled out the poster of Jessica, which was carefully wrapped in plastic.Just as I was unrolling it, my assistant Reggie walked in.

 

"Blimey, who's the bird?"

"Reggie, the bird happens to be a very good friend of mine - the pre-eminent mystery writer Jessica Fletcher."

"Right, right, Mrs. Fletcher, I've seen her come around here a few times."

"Aye, the very one."

"So, what are you going to do with it?"

"I'm going to have her sign it and then I'm going to frame it."

"She's here now, is she?"

"Aye, I'm having dinner with her tonight."

"That explains your good mood, eh, Inspector?"

I gave him a sideways glance, but I didn't deny it.

He continued, "My boy has posters on his wall too - Keira Knightly and one of them Spice Girls."††† He laughed heartily and left me to continue gazing at my giant poster of Jessica.

 

The poster was even bigger and prettier than I had imagined.I rolled it back up carefully and returned it to the shipping tube.†† I rummaged in my desk drawer for the proper pen for Jessica to use when she signed it.†† Nothing.†† A regular ink simply wouldn't do.†† I went to the supply closet down the hall and dug for a pen there.Nothing but cheap, government-issue pens there.

 

"Reggie, I need a proper pen."

"For the poster?"

"Aye, have anything that will work?"

"No, but I know what you need.I'll make you a deal."

I looked at him skeptically, "What's the deal?"

"I get you the proper pen for your bird's signature and you let me leave early today."

I mulled it over for about five seconds. "Aye, you get the pen and you can go.But not a word about this to anybody."

He got up immediately and crossed the floor lined with cubicles.I saw him approach a pretty young lady who was a file clerk in the unit.She listened to what he had to say then took her purse out of her desk drawer.†† Remarkably, she pulled out a handful of pens.†† He took a few and hurried back across the room to me.They were of various colors; I chose a black one and a silver one.†† I read the writing on them - they were Sharpie permanent markers.

"Bloody perfect, Reg.Now, go on, get out of here."

I looked across the room to the young lady.She blew me a kiss.I waved at her and just shook my head.I had never seen anybody carry that many pens around, much less markers.I shrugged and went back into my office.

 

The day dragged on.There's no place like London during August Bank Holiday.†† Everybody's gone down to the seaside and those left in town are not much interested in crime doing.†† It's good to have a break in the crime wave, but it makes for a long week of work.†† Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, this week had flown by with Jessica's company.†† We planned to have dinner again this evening.Since I had already taken her on a dinner cruise and an evening of dinner and dancing at the Savoy, I thought tonight might be fun to just spend time in my favorite pub.†† She agreed and I went straight there after work.†† I parked my Jaguar in the circle drive of the Savoy.†† I took the poster tube out of the boot of the car and went to Jessica's suite again.

 

This evening when she opened the door, she was much more casually dressed in slacks and a blue and white blouse.†† She looked just as lovely as she had the previous evening.I greeted her with a kiss on her cheek and followed her inside.††

Not one to beat around the bush, she asked, "What's in the tube, George?"

I opened it and pulled out the poster and spread it on the dining table.†† I took the silver pen out of my jacket pocket."May I have your autograph?"

"My what?" she asked, and then saw the poster unrolled before her.She stared at it in amazement."George, where in the world did you get that?"

"I won it in a heated and bitter Ebay auction that went down to the wire," I boasted proudly.

"Oh George, you didn't..." she shook her head.

I felt rather abashed.†† "Aye, is there something wrong with it?Won't you sign it for me?"

"Of course, I'll sign it.†† But George, I have a case of these in my attic.All you had to do was ask."

I reached up and loosened my collar with my finger, then loosened my tie.I know I must have been red as a beet.††

She laughed out loud."George, I'm completely flattered.I wouldn't have offered you one anyway because it would have never dawned on me that you wanted one."

I smiled and shrugged."I guess I couldn't resist.And now you've caught me searching for your name on Ebay."

"I'm flattered."

I looked at her with a little disbelief, "Really?"

"Really.Now give me that Sharpie."