A Little Family Business

A little adult content, a little violence - overall it's pretty safe, but it's probably not for young readers under the age of 13.  I do not own any of the characters and receive no money from this.

--By Melissa


            It was a cold rainy day in Maine as Jessica was working at her computer when the phone began to ring. 

            “Hello,” she said.

            “Jessica, it’s George!”

            “George, how lovely to hear from you.  How are you?  No bad news I hope.”

            “No, I’m fine Jessica.  The reason I’m calling is because my niece has never been to the United States and wonders if she can join us in California.”

            “George, you don’t need to ask me if you can bring your niece with you.”

            “I know, but I was just wondering if you could give me the number of the inn so I can book another room for her.”

            “Hold on a second and I’ll get it for you.”

            After Jessica gave him the number they chatted about her book tour and their upcoming trip to the wine country in California before they both hung up.

            After three weeks in Chicago, Houston, and Portland, Oregon promoting her new book, Jessica was exhausted.  As she stepped off the plane all she wanted to do was relax and spend some time with George.  However, George’s plane wasn’t to arrive for another hour so she went to find a cup of coffee and a comfy place to read the book she had packed with her.  As soon as she saw the arrival boards show George’s plane as an early arrival she went to go find him.

            She arrived just as he was entering into the terminal with a young, pretty brunette about the same height as herself by his side.


            “Jessica, it’s so good to see you,” he said as they both embraced.  “Jessica, this is my niece Elizabeth.  Elizabeth, this is Jessica Fletcher.”

            “Nice to meet you.”

            “And you, but I do have a confession to make, Mrs. Fletcher.”

            “Oh, really, and what would that be?”

            “Well, the real reason I wanted to come with Uncle George was to meet you, not to see California.  Though, I do have to admit that seeing California can’t be all that bad.”

            “I see,” was all she said but couldn’t help smiling at the wit of the 19-year-old.

            “So what is first on our agenda, Mrs. Fletcher, Uncle George?”

            “Well, I was thinking that I could rent a car then we all stop at the inn to unpack and decide what to do from there,” said George.

            “That sounds great to me.  What about you, Mrs. Fletcher?”

            “I’m up for anything.”


            As the trio entered the lavishly decorated inn with champagne colored walls, mahogany end tables, beautifully hand made pillows on all the couches, and a crisp white tablecloth on every table, they were met by a lively young receptionist.

            “Welcome to ‘Serene Valley’ bed and breakfast.  You must be Mrs. Fletcher.” She continued when she got a nod from Jessica, “We have rooms 11 to13 ready for you- here are your keys, and I hope you have a pleasant stay.”

            “Thank you,” said Jessica as the trio was already half way up the stairs.

            Later on, after everyone had unpacked, they met in Jessica’s room to make plans for the rest of the night.  They all decided to drive around till they found a restaurant they all agreed upon.  They ended up at the Texas Roadhouse.

            As the three of them sat down to dinner they were all in rather good moods.  Jessica and George were spending time in each others’ company and Elizabeth was actually in another county.  They were just finishing their main course and about to order dessert when the manager came over to greet them.

            “So I hear you’re a celebrity, Mrs. Fletcher.”

            “I would hardly call myself a celebrity Mr.?”

            “Richards, Jack Richards, Texas born and bred and the owner of this here goldmine.”

            “That’s nice,” Jessica said trying to sound as sincere as she could for this annoying and rather rude gentleman.

            “And who might this little lady be?”  he said indicating Elizabeth but in a voice none of them appreciated.

            “That is my niece,” George said trying as hard as he could to mask the disgust he was feeling at the moment.

            “I see, but does she have a name?” he said with a smile that just infuriated George even more. 

            “It’s Elizabeth,” she said as she shot her Uncle a look that told him to remember his manners.

            “So how ‘bout you join me clubbing tonight,” he said more as a statement than a question, like the whole world revolved around him.

            “I’m not very into clubbing,” Elizabeth said as calmly and pleasantly as she could muster.

            “Well that doesn’t make no difference.  Come on, it’ll be fun.”

            “I really shouldn’t leave my Uncle alone,” she said, looking to George for help.

            “Oh, he’ll be fine.  Where are you staying, I’ll pick you up at 9.”

            “Mr. Richards, I’m really sorry but I just can’t go.”

            “Oh come on, of course you can.”

            “Mr. Richards, I believe she is trying to say as nicely as possible that she doesn’t want to go,” said George, finally coming to the aid of his niece.

            “Awe isn’t that nice, she has her uncle do her dirty work for her.”

            Just as George was about to say something rather rude Jessica cut in with “Excuse me, Mr. Richards, but if you could be so kind as to bring us the bill, we will pay and leave.”  She said in a tone that said the discussion was over.

            When they got back to the inn they decided to all go up to George’s room and open up a bottle of wine.  After they had talked for almost two hours Jessica and Elizabeth decided to return to their own rooms.  Just as they were about to leave Elizabeth realized she didn’t have her purse.

            “Oh Damn.”

            Lizzy, what is it?” asked George.

            “I think I forgot my purse at the bar and grill.”

            “Oh, well, why don’t you call them and see if they found it.”

            “I don’t know the number and it would be easier if I just went over there myself.”

            “Do you want me to go with you?” George asked.

            “No, you stay here, I’ll be fine - but may I take the car?”

“Yes of course.  See you in the morning then,” he said as she grabbed the keys from his outstretched hand and walked out of the room.

Two hours later when George had just begun to drift off to sleep he was awakened by the ringing of the telephone.


            “Uncle George.  Thank God.  I’m being arrested for Jack Richard’s murder.”

            “Where are you, I’ll be there as soon as possible,” he said as he jumped out of bed and located his clothes.

            “I’m still at the Texas Roadhouse.”

            “All right, stay calm, I’m on my way.”

            As soon as he hung up with his niece he called Jessica’s room.  Fifteen minutes later the two of them exited the taxi to witness Elizabeth being driven off in a police car.


            I’m sorry ma’m, but you can’t go in there,” said the young officer as he caught Jessica trying to sneak into the restaurant.

            “I’m looking for whoever is in charge,” was her only reply at being caught.

            “That would be Lieutenant Potts, but he’s busy at the moment.  If you could just wait over there for him, I’m sure he won’t be too much longer,” he said pointing to the parking lot. 

            A little while later Jessica and George were joined by Lieutenant Dan Potts, a man who Jessica judged to be in his mid to late forties with small spots of gray at his temples and an irritated expression for having to get out of bed.

            “Lieutenant?” Jessica asked.

            “Yes, and you might be?”

            “I’m Jessica Fletcher.”

            “And I’m Chief Inspector George Sutherland of Scotland Yard.”

“You’re a little out of your territory, Inspector.”

            “Not when you have my niece in custody for a crime she didn’t commit.”

            “Is your niece Elizabeth Walters?”

            “Yes.  Have you formally charged her with anything?”

            “Right now we have her booked for first degree murder.”

            “On what grounds?”

            “She was found standing over the body and I’m told she had a heated argument with the victim earlier this evening.”

            “It wasn’t anywhere close to a fight, Lieutenant,” replied Jessica.

            “Well, then what was it?”

            “He came on to her, she turned him down and then he walked away.  Lieutenant, if anyone fought with him I probably came the closest,” said George, getting annoyed.

            “We believe it could have been self defense, but until we prove or disprove that theory we’re holding your niece.”

            “Can I see her?” asked George as he realized it would be fruitless to continue arguing.

            “Not tonight, but I guess I can arrange something for the morning.”

            “Fine.  What time?”

            “Around noon, we have to process her.”

            “Lieutenant, who called in to report the murder?” asked Jessica before George could say anything.

            “We received an anonymous tip saying that Mr. Richards was just murdered at his restaurant.”  

            “When did you arrive?”

            “About 10 minutes after my men received the call.”

            Unable to restrain himself any longer George blurted out, “Why would anyone be dumb enough to stay at the murder scene for at least 10 minutes after they murdered someone!  Whoever made the call is most likely your killer, Lieutenant, not my niece!”

            “Who took the call?” asked Jessica before George could continue while placing a comforting hand on his arm.

            “Sergeant Jamison over there,” he said, pointing to the officer who had caught Jessica trying to sneak in earlier.

            “Thank you, is there anything more you need from us before we leave?”

            “No, just let the Sergeant know where you’re staying and how we can get a hold of you if need be,” he said as he walked off.

            “Sergeant, you took the anonymous phone call, correct?”

            “Yes, ma’am, I did.  Why?”

            “I was wondering if you could tell if it was a man or woman’s voice.”

            “The voice was muffled but if I had to take a guess I’d say a woman’s.”

            “Thank you.”

            When the sergeant had collected all the information he needed from them they decided it was time to go back to the inn.

            The next morning Jessica found George in the inn’s dining room after first checking his room.

            “Good morning, George.”

            “Good morning, Jessica,” he said as she sat down in the chair next to him.

            “You don’t look to well, George.  Did you get any sleep last night?”

            “Not much. Hungry?”


            After they had ordered and were waiting for their food to arrive George broke the silence with, “So what are your plans for the day?”

            “Well, you’re due at the police station at noon and it’s almost 10; if you’d like we could take a walk then head over to the station?  I was also thinking of stopping at the local library to see what I could find out about Jack Richards and it doesn’t matter when I do that.”

            “I think I’ll take you up on that walk.”

            “I heard there’s a small, peaceful park about three quarters of a mile from here and it’s on the way to the police station.”

            “That sounds fine.  Do you know how far away the police station is?”

            “The desk clerk said it’s about a half an hour away from the park on foot.”


            While George was in with his niece, Jessica tried to talk some sense into the lieutenant in charge. 

            “Pardon my directness but you are making a huge mistake.  There is no way that girl could murder anyone.  Plus she doesn’t even have a motive.”

            “Well the way I see it, ma’am, is when she went to find her purse he made another pass at her, they fought and she killed him.”

            “That’s ludicrous!” she replied then tried another approach.  “Do you have any other suspects?”

            “Frankly, ma’am, I don’t think that’s any of your business.”

            “Can I at least have photos of the crime scene or a list of items found at the scene?”

            “Oh, fine, if it’ll get rid of you,” he said as he handed her the list of items in the room with the vic.  As she read the list she filed the evidence away in her head…a lighter and a pack of cigarettes in right hand pants pocket, a Kleenex near his body (clean), his cell phone in his right hand breast pocket and the knife sticking out of his chest (one missing from kitchen). 

            “Thank you,” she said as she handed him back the piece of paper.  “You wouldn’t consider giving me a photo copy of this, would you?”

            “No, not really,” he said with an annoying smile playing on his face. “Now please excuse me but I have a lot work of do.”

On her way out of the office she noticed another list.  This one, however, had names on it and the first name on the list was Elizabeth’s.  “This has to be his list of suspects,” she thought to herself.  At that moment the sergeant’s telephone began to ring, which presented just the opportunity she needed.  She quickly read the names upside down, filed away the ones she didn’t recognize and left to find George.


Elizabeth Walters (found standing over body and argued with him earlier)

Connor Hollinsworth (Manager) (stuck in a horrible contract)

Andrea Hollinsworth (wanted to free her brother from his contract?) (Worked for the                                          victim a while back)

Rebecca Saunders (former wife) threatened to kill him 4 years ago at a cocktail party

Joe Saunders (Rebecca’s new husband)

Vicky Richards (current wife) found out he was sleeping around?

*Basically everyone working at restaurant*


            “You look tired, George.” said Jessica as they exited the police station.  “Why don’t you go back to the inn and take a nap.  I’m going to head over to the local library and find out anything I can about those involved in the case.  Then we can meet for an early dinner and share information.”

            “Alright, that sounds fine to me. I’ll see you in a couple of hours,” he said as he gave her a kiss on the cheek then walked away.

            When Jessica had all the information she could find on everyone involved with either the murder or the victim in general she started back to the bed and breakfast.

            At 6 o’clock she met George in the lobby and the two of them headed off to dinner.

            “So, Jess, what did you find out today?” asked George after he sat down at the table for two.

            “I’m sorry to say not much that would help Elizabeth.  He wasn’t a very loved man.  A couple years ago a group of his waitresses wrote nasty letters to the editor about him and his antics.  They said he kept trying to make sexual advances and when they wouldn’t give in he fired them.”

            “Well, that sounds like a better motive than Elizabeth’s supposed motive.”

            “Yes, but when I talked to the librarian she said all those girls were college students who didn’t live around here.”

            “Great - so what does that leave us with?”

            “Not much, but I did read the suspect list upside down on the Lieutenant’s desk.”


            “Other than his wife and ex-wife, there were only two other people on the list, a brother and sister.  One of them works at the restaurant while the other quit a while back.”

            “Did you find anything on any of them at the library?”

            “The only thing I found were dates of weddings, deaths, and divorces.”


            “The siblings’ parents, who died in a car crash about five years ago,” she explained.

            “That doesn’t really shed any light on anything.”

            “My sentiments exactly.”

            After a couple minutes spent in silence Jessica asked George what Elizabeth had to say.

            “She told me that when she arrived at the restaurant the door was cracked open so she just walked in.  She called out a couple times but said no one answered.  When she entered the dining room she saw Jack lying facedown on the floor.  She turned over the body, saw the knife sticking out of his chest and was just about to call the police when the police arrived, found her standing over the body, and arrested her.”

Noting his discomfort at his niece being arrested on a murder charge Jessica reached over and placed her hand on top of his.  The rest of dinner was spent in silence, both lost in their own thoughts until Jessica broke the silence with, “Why don’t we head over to my room at the inn and figure out what needs to be accomplished tomorrow?”


            Back upstairs in Jessica’s room George was pacing uncontrollably because he felt completely helpless.  He couldn’t even prove his niece’s innocence, let alone bail her out of jail. ‘They must be daft,’ he silently thought to himself. 

            His constant pacing was tormenting Jessica because she knew he was suffering and couldn’t bear to see him that way.  At that moment she realized her feelings toward him and desperately wanted to comfort him.        

            “George, would you please sit down for a moment.”

            As he sat down next to her she softly ran the back of her hand down his cheek and very quietly whispered, “I love you,” into his ear. Jessica framed his face with her hands and kissed him deeply on the lips. As she kissed him she reached up, to loosen and remove his tie, then began to unbutton his shirt.  George’s response to this was to pick her up off the couch, gently ease her down onto her bed, and then casually slide up next to her.

            “Jess, are you absolutely sure about all of this?”  he asked, making sure she was truly ready for this step in their relationship while running his hand through her hair.

            “Yes, I’m positive,” she stated as she gazed up into his gentle green eyes and saw a mixture of love and desire burning in them.  George lowered his head and kissed her passionately then finished undressing while Jessica did the same. When George could no longer take the unbearable tenderness of Jess’s touches he willingly passed the point of no return. A short time later George held an exhausted Jessica in his arms.  They both fell asleep feeling very content in each other’s arms. 

            The next morning Jessica woke feeling very refreshed and not wanting to leave the strong, loving embrace of the man she loved.  She knew, however, that she had to start the day before she left to clear Elizabeth’s name so she showered, dressed, and left a note for George. 




            Jessica exited the taxi at 1825 Cedar Brook Lane and rang the door bell.  A tall brunette who looked to be in her early forties answered the door. 


            “Are you Mrs. Saunders?”  

            “Yes, I am. Who are you?” she replied to Jessica’s question. 

            “My name is Jessica Fletcher.  I’m sorry to interrupt you but my friend’s niece is being held for the murder of your late husband and I was just wondering if you could shed some light as to who had a better motive to murder him than Elizabeth has.”   As Jessica said the last bit Rebecca Saunders began to laugh. 

            “Mrs. Fletcher, come into the house and I will tell you all about Jack and approximately how many people he has pissed off over the years.  Oh, and just so you don’t think I did it I was at my in-laws for my husband’s birthday and we spent the night.  We brought our 2-year-old son Braydon and my husband’s 16-year-old daughter Brianna.  We left their house at about 10 o’clock only to come back and find we were suspects in his murder.  But if you really want to find a good candidate to pin his murder on, talk to that gold-digging tart he left me for.”   

            “I don’t want to pin the murder on anyone - I want to find the actual murderer.”             “Still, talk to his teenage bride.” 

            “Why do you think she murdered him?”  

            “For the same reason I almost killed him four years ago: she got smart.  She probably found out he was cheating on her and would then leave her for someone else.” 

             “And why do you say that?” 

            “He was having an affair with her while we were still married.  Everyone knows you can’t trust a man like that because he’ll get bored with you and move on to someone younger and prettier.  I mean, he went after your niece, didn’t he?” 

            “Well, she’s actually my friend’s niece but I do see your point.”  Then as she saw the clock and realized what time it was she decided she had better go back to the bed and breakfast.  “Oh dear - I should probably go now.  Do you mind if I call for a taxi?” 

             “No, go right ahead,” she replied.  When Jessica finished the call Rebecca Saunders continued with, “Truth is, Jack made enemies with just about everyone he met.  He really didn’t know how to talk or do business, with people.  I hope you get your friend’s niece off the hook and I provided you with a little bit of information.” 

             “Yes, you did, and thanks,” she said then climbed into the taxi.  Once she was in the taxi she pulled out her cell phone and called her attorney. 

            “Mr. Dixon’s office,” his secretary replied when she answered the phone. 

            “I’d like to speak with Andrew, please.  Tell him it’s Jessica Fletcher.” 

            “Would you hold on one minute please, Mrs. Fletcher?”

            “Of course.”  After a few seconds another voice came on the phone. 

            “Jessica, how nice to hear from you.” 

            “Andrew, what’s new on Elizabeth’s situation?” 

            “I almost forgot how you’re always so direct.” 

            “If I remember correctly you charge by the minute.”      

“Alright, alright, you win,” he replied as laughter could be heard on the other end of the phone.  “I scheduled a bail hearing for her in an hour and since it’s about ten now you could most likely pick her up at noon.”  

“Andrew, you’re worth every penny.  Thanks,” she said then hung up the phone.  Then Jessica called her room, didn’t get an answer, and so tried George’s room. 


            “Good morning, George.” 

            “Good morning.  So did you find out who did it yet?” 

            “No, not yet, but I did get some good news from my attorney.  He told me he has arranged bail and we can pick her up at noon.” 

            “Alright. By the way, exactly where are you?” 

            “I’m in a taxi on my way to the inn and I should be there in about 15 minutes.  Then we can go rescue Elizabeth.”  

            “That sounds fine to me, Jessie.” 

            As she entered the bed and breakfast she found George waiting for her on one of the over-sized taupe couches.  “Hello,” she said as she sat down next to him. 

            “Hey, you ready to go?” 

            “I need just a moment to freshen up.  That is, if you can wait that long,” she said, teasing him. 

            “Of course I can,” he said as he helped her off the couch, followed her up the stairs and into her room.  After she shut the door George wrapped his arm around her, pulled her to him and gave her a long passionate kiss.  “Thank you for everything,” he said when they finally parted. 

            “Your welcome,” she responded then smiled up at him. 


As the two of them entered the police station in search of Elizabeth they were told it would be at least ten minutes before she could be released so they went to find Lieutenant Potts. 

            “Good afternoon, Sergeant, is the Lieutenant available?”

            “No, I’m sorry, ma’am, but he isn’t here at the moment.  Is there anything I can do?”

            “I was just wondering if there were any more leads at this time.”

            “Not that I know of, but the Lieutenant is trying his hardest.”

            “Do you know if he suspects anyone other than George’s niece, Elizabeth at this moment?”

            “I’m not sure I should be telling you this but I don’t see the harm.  At this time no one really has a good motive and those who do have an iron clad alibi.  However, the Lieutenant is looking into the finances of one of Mr. Richard’s employee’s a little bit harder than the rest.”

            “Thank you for the information, Sergeant.”    

            “No problem, ma’am, just please don’t tell the Lieutenant where you got the information.”

            “Of course.”

            “Ah, Elizabeth,” said George as he caught sight of her and went to hug her.  Her hair was a mess, her blouse was crumpled and she looked like she hadn’t slept at all.  “Are you okay?”


            “Are you hungry?”

            “Yeah, but I really don’t want to go out anywhere looking like this.”

            “We can go back to the inn so you can change then we’ll go out to lunch or George could pick something up and we’ll eat it at the inn.  It’s up to you.”

            “I kind of like the latter idea better if it’s okay with you, Uncle George?”

            “Yes, that’s fine.  I’ll just drop the two of you off at the bed and breakfast then pick up something to eat.”



            “So, Mrs. Fletcher, please tell me you figured out who the murderer is so I know I’m off the hook?” she asked as she took a bite of a turkey, lettuce, tomato, and pickle sub that George had brought her.

            “It’s Jessica, and so far, I’m sorry to report I have absolutely nothing.  I won’t give up, though.”

            When they had all finished their lunch Jessica collected her purse and announced, “I’m going to go pay a visit to the Hollinsworths.  George, Elizabeth, you’re both welcome to join me but you look rather worn out, Elizabeth.  Maybe you should stay.”

            “You’re right.  I think I’ll stay and have nap and when you come back I’ll talk Uncle George into taking us out to a nice restaurant for dinner.”

            “Good idea. George, what about you?”

            “Oh, I think I’m going to accompany you so I know what kind of trouble you’re getting yourself into.”

            To this Jessica didn’t respond but walked out the door and out to the parking lot where George had left the dark blue Ford Taurus he had rented.  George arrived a minute later, unlocked and opened the door for her then started the car.

            “So, where to?” asked George as he buckled his seatbelt.    


            They arrived at a light blue house with white shutters and a darkly stained oak door just as one of two cars in the drive way drove off.                 

            “Well, I guess you’re only going to be able to interrogate one of your victims today.”

            “It looks that way,” she said as she ignored his teasing.

            At the top of the stairs they were met by a young woman Jessica pegged to be in her late to mid twenties.

            “Yes, can I help you?”

            “I’m Jessica Fletcher, this is George Sutherland.  We are looking for Andrea Hollinsworth.”

            “You’ve found her.”

            “Is there any way you would be willing to talk to us about the deceased, Jack Richards?”

            “Are you with the press?”

            “No, my friend’s niece,” she said as she pointed to George, “is under suspicion of his murder and we were hoping you could give us some insight on who had a better reason to murder him.”

            “Would you like to come in?  I was just making myself a cup of coffee.  Would you like some?”

            “Yes, that would be lovely.  We’d love a cup,” she answered for both herself and George.

            “Have a seat anywhere,” she said as she indicated to the mismatched chairs around the kitchen table. “I doubt I’ll be able to shed much light on to the whole case since I haven’t had much contact with Jack Richards in the last year or so.  My brother would know more than I about who he could have pissed off lately but he’s gone out to the store for cigarettes.  However, after all the years he’s owned that restaurant I bet half the people whoever worked for him wanted to stick that knife in his chest at one time or another.”

            “Do you know when he’ll be back?”

            “You never know with Connor- it could be ten minutes or it could be a half an hour.”

            “Why did you quit working for Mr. Richards?” asked Jessica, trying to get some background information.

            “Apart from the obvious reasons, I was going to college and working for the bastard and it was just getting to be too much.  I had just enough money from an inheritance my parents left to get me through college.”

            “I see.”

            “Working for Jack Richards was basically a full time job because you never knew when he was going to call you in, randomly show up at your house, yell at you for doing something wrong or inviting you out to dinner because his wife failed to meet his needs.”

            Up until this point Jessica had done all the talking but now George spoke. “I see what you mean by a full time job.”

            “Yeah, it wasn’t eas...ah ah choo.”  As she sneezed she reached into her purse to get a kleenex.  As she pulled it out a second one fell to the ground.

            “You dropped one,” said Jessica as she reached down to grab it.

            “Oh thanks, I’m always doing that.  You’d think after living with allergies all my life I would have learned by now.”           

            “You would think,” said Jessica as she handed the kleenex to Andrea.

            Right then the front door slammed shut and a young man walked into the kitchen.  He had a look of confusion when he spotted Jessica and George.

            “Connor, this is Mrs. Fletcher and Mr. Sutherland.  They want to know who could have had a motive to kill Jack.”  As she explained Connor started to laugh.

            “Mrs. Fletcher, Mr. Sutherland, a better question to ask is who didn’t want him dead because that would be a much shorter list.  Just about everyone he knew he pissed off,” he answered when he finally stopped laughing.  “He really didn’t know how to make friends and on the rare occasion he did make one he’d go off and do something stupid like sleep with their wife.”

            “Is there anyone in particular he had aggravated lately?” asked Jessica

            “Not really, he was his normal mean self.”

            “Well, I think we’ve taken up enough of your time.  We should be on our way,” said Jessica as she stood and collected her handbag.  George followed suit.

            Once they were both in the car Jessica turned to George and asked, “Would you like to pay a call on Mrs. Richards or would you rather just go back to the inn and spend some time with Elizabeth?”

            “Right now I would just like to go back to the inn if that’s okay with you,” George replied as he reached over and took her hand in his.

            She smiled at him.  “That’s fine with me.”


As they arrived back at the hotel they found Elizabeth in her room watching T.V.

            “Jessica, Uncle George, what’s going on?  I didn’t think you’d be back so soon.”

            “We were wondering if you’d like to go for a walk with us,” George asked Elizabeth.

            “I wouldn’t mind a walk in the park.”

            “That sounds fine, just let me change and then we can go,” said Jessica.

            When Jessica met them in the lobby they started off to the park.

            As all three of them were walking through the park George spotted an ice cream vendor.

            “Would anyone care for an ice cream?” he asked his two companions.

            “Yes please, Uncle George.  I don’t care what kind.”

            “No, thank you,” said Jessica as George walked off.

            Jessica and Elizabeth both took a seat on a nearby bench to wait for George.

            “So, what part of England do you live in?” Jessica asked.

            “At the moment I’m right outside the heart of London, which is about 20 minutes from Uncle George’s flat.” 

            “And career?”

            “I definitely want to do something music related, and right now I’m leaning towards musical education.”

            “Impressive,” said Jessica.

            Just then George returned carrying two fudge sickles and handed one to Elizabeth.

            “So what have you two been talking about since I left?” asked George.

            “Me,” stated Elizabeth matter-of-factly.  “Believe it or not, dear Uncle, but the world doesn’t revolve around you,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes.

            “Very funny, my dear.  Shall we head back to the hotel now?” said George.      

            “Sure,” said Elizabeth while Jessica just smiled and nodded her head.


Later that afternoon Jessica and George went to pay a visit on the dead man’s widow.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah I’m coming,” they heard from the other side of the door.

            As the young blond opened the door she first saw Jessica then George.  “Yes?  Can I help you?” she asked looking directly to George with a very innocent smile etched on her very made-up face.  Her eye shadow seemed to reach her eyebrows while her blush matched the deep crimson red of her lipstick.  She had on a small black mini skirt and a black tank top that to Jessica revealed just a little too much flesh.  It was rather apparent to Jessica that this woman did not fit the description of a grieving widow.

            “Hello, my name is Jessica Fletcher and this is my friend George Sutherland.  We’re really sorry to be intruding at a time like this but we were wondering if you could help us with a few questions?”

            “Yeah sure, why not, I’ve got nothing better to do,” she said sarcastically as she lit up a cigarette and led them inside.  “Have a seat.  So what do you want to know about my husband?”  The living room was lavishly decorated.  The couch and love seat were both leather, both end tables a dark cherry wood, and twin marble lamps stood on the end tables.

            “Do you know if he had any enemies who could have done this to him?” asked Jessica as she sat down.

            “I’d say so.”

            “Do you know who they might be?”

            “No, not really.”

            “Do you know what he was doing at the restaurant at that time?”

            “Yet again, no.”

            Seeing that Jessica was getting no where, George decided to give it a try.  “Is there any way he could have been meeting someone?”

            “Well,” she started as she smiled sweetly at George, “he could have been meeting someone but he didn’t tell me about it.”

            Seeing that they still weren’t getting anywhere they both decided to leave. 

            When they reached the car George turned to Jessica and said, “Well, that was a waste of time.”

            “I truly don’t think she knew who he was meeting because you asked the question and she seemed inclined to answer all of yours.”

            At this George started to laugh.  “I believe you’re right.”           


George parked the car at the far end of the quaint little lake side town so they could walk around and find a restaurant.  They ended up at Fisherman’s Bluff, which was right on the lake.  Jessica opted for ordering a perch dinner while George ordered a hamburger.

            “Dessert?” the young waitress asked as she made her way to their table. 

            “Oh why not, what do you have?” he asked the waitress. 

            “We have ice cream, sherbet, chocolate cake, rice pudding, cheesecake, and brownie sundaes.” 

            “I think I’ll go with cheesecake. Jess?” 

            “I wasn’t planning on having dessert but I think I’ll have to try the rice pudding.” 

            “Very well, would you like me to bring the check with your desserts or not?” 

            “With dessert would be fine,” replied George.  As the waitress walked away the conversation changed to the recent murder.  “So do you even have an idea on who could have murdered Jack Richards?” 

            “No, I don’t even know anyone that truly has a motive that doesn’t have an alibi.  And unless we figure out who the murderer is or remove the cloud of suspicion around Elizabeth they probably won’t let her go home with you.” 

            “I know.”  Just then their waitress arrived with their desserts and check.   On the way back to the inn they chatted about their dinner and everything but the recent murder until George felt a sneeze coming on. 


            “Here you go,” she said as she handed George a Kleenex from her purse.  Then she froze. 

            “That’s it.” 

            “What’s it?  What are you talking about?” 

            “I just figured out who the murderer is,” she said when she came back from her trance.  “The only problem is I don’t know how I would prove it.  I don’t even know what the motive is.”  At that moment George pulled the car into the parking lot of the bed and breakfast.

            “Let’s go inside and you can tell me who it is.” 

            As they both entered Jessica’s room she proceeded to tell George her thoughts on the murder.  When she finished, George went to his room while she made a phone call.  

            “Lieutenant I believe I know who the murderer is but I’m going to need your help…”

Twenty minutes later after Jessica finished planning the next day with the Lieutenant she went to George’s room and climbed into his bed. 

            When Jessica climbed into the bed George gazed deeply into her big blue eyes, then bent his head down and kissed her tenderly on the lips.  Jessica kissed him right back and they shared yet another passionate night together.


            The next morning Jessica and George walked up the steps to the front door of the Hollinsworths and rang the bell.

            “Mrs. Fletcher, Mr. Sutherland - back so soon?”

            “Do you mind if we come in, Andrea, there’s something I’d like to ask you,” Jessica said as she gazed at the young woman standing before her.


Andrea took a seat on the couch while Jessica and George both remained standing.

“Why did you murder Jack Richards?”

Andrea was little taken back by Jessica’s blunt question but quickly regained her composure.

            “I have no idea what you mean, Mrs. Fletcher!”

            “Oh but I think you do.  Remember when I picked up the kleenex that fell out of your purse and you said, ‘Oh thanks, I’m always doing that.  You’d think after living with allergies all my life I would have learned by now.’  Well the Lieutenant found a kleenex without any prints on it lying next to the body.”

            “Is that it!  Oh my God!  Mrs. Fletcher, no judge on earth would even hear you out.”

            “You’re right, but there is more.”

            “Go on, then.”

            “You also said how half the people who worked for him wanted to stick that knife in his chest.  How did you know he was murdered with a knife?”

            “I don’t remember.  I either heard it from the Lieutenant or the newspaper.”

            “The Lieutenant never told anyone how he was murdered and it wasn’t in the newspaper.  The only other people who knew about the knife were the murderer, and Elizabeth - and she only told George and myself.  Why did you murder him?”

            “I begged and pleaded with my brother not to get a job with that bastard Jack Richards but he wouldn’t listen.  Connor had everything.  He could have done anything he wanted.  He had the brains, enough money to get him through college and a smart, gorgeous fiancé.  He was happy at the Texas Roadhouse for about two months but then things seemed to go south.  He worked all the time and hardly ever got paid what he deserved.  He had signed a contract that he would work for Jack for a period of two years minimum.”  When Jessica looked into this poor woman's eyes she noticed extreme animosity and utter despair.

            “I advised Connor not to sign it but yet again he didn’t listen to me.  If Connor did anything wrong Jack would either withhold his paycheck for a while or deduct money.  Since Connor had no free time anymore his fiancé left him.  He hated how Jack was treating him but whenever he went to complain things just got worse.  Jack wasn’t in breech of the contract and according to a friend who’s a lawyer it would take forever and a huge legal fee to break the contract.  Jack knew we didn’t have the money to challenge the contract so he came to me with an alternative idea.”

            “He said if I would do some favors for him that he would see what he could do for Connor.  So five days ago I called Jack and told him to meet me at the restaurant at 10:30 and we would discuss his proposition.  I always get a half an hour break at 10:30 that no one marks so I knew I wouldn’t be missed.  When I got to the restaurant Jack was already there with a sickening grin thinking he had won his little game.  He wasn’t quite as happy though when I stuck that knife in his chest.”

            “After I wiped my prints off the door knob and the knife I heard a car pulling into the parking lot. I ran into the freezer, called the police and booked it out of there.  It was almost perfect.  Now, however, I have to get rid of the two of you,” she said as she pulled a revolver out of the end table next to her and pointed it at Jessica.

            “It just had to be your niece who found the body, didn’t it,” she said, waving the gun in George’s direction.  “Oh well.”

            At that moment the front door swung open.  “Drop the gun Miss. Hollinsworth!” said the Lieutenant with his own gun drawn.  “I’m placing you under arrest for the murder of Jack Richards.  You have the right to…” Jessica heard the Lieutenant as he led a disheartened Andrea willingly out to the waiting police car.

            “Jess, are you all right?” asked George as he walked over to her and rested his hand on her shoulder.

            “I’m just fine,” she said, looking into up into his eyes with a smile forming on her lips.  “Let’s go find Elizabeth and tell her the good news.”


“Let’s go celebrate!  Lunch is on me,” said George after he had told Elizabeth who really murdered Jack Richards.            

            “Who else would be paying?  I’m not going to and you wouldn’t let Jessica anyway,” Elizabeth said as George playfully punched her in the arm.  Jessica looked on at the playful banter with a smile forming on her face.


            Later at the restaurant while they were waiting for their food to arrive Elizabeth stated, “Okay, you guys have to tell me everything.”

When Jessica and George finished telling Elizabeth the events that she missed over the last five days pertaining to the murder she sat back and smiled wickedly at them.

“You forgot to mention something.”

            “Oh really.  What?” asked Jessica with confusion written all over her face.

            “The new level in your relationship.”

            Jessica’s confusion changed to a bemused smile as she said, “Whatever are you talking about, my dear?”

            Both women just sat there and smiled at each other until the waitress interrupted their thoughts with their dinner.


The End