Valentine's Day

 By: C.Hayward and Amanda Phillips

copywritten aug 2002

New York was not the most pleasant place to be spending February,
Jessica decided, as a yellow taxi shot past through a large puddle
and sent droplets of muddy water all over her skirt. She wrestled her
umbrella into submission and battled through the crowds on to the
other side of the avenue.
     Especially February 14th.
     As well as being swamped with dirty rainwater, Manhattan was also
awash with tacky red love-hearts, Valentine's cards in the thousands,
and cellophane wrapped long stemmed red roses - mostly artificial.
Cuddly toys adorned with red hearts and soppy messages lined every
shop window. Huge pink notices were to be seen in every door,
enticing people to buy their Valentine's cards there.
     By the time that she reached the apartment block, Jessica was rather
sick of the whole idea of Valentine's Day. Even if she did her best
not to notice, it was hard not to. In Cabot Cove, there wasn't too
much to remind her, but here in New York they really went to town,
more so every year.
     And the whole lot of the commercialised paraphernalia had been around
since the middle of January.
     She tried not to let it affect her, of course, but still it only
served to remind her that she didn't have Frank to share Valentine's
with. It was as bad as Christmas and birthdays. In fact, in some ways
it was worse, because she didn't have anyone at all to share it with.
     She'd sent George a card. He'd given her one on previous years, but
nothing had arrived this year. At first she tried not to notice,
then, failing that, tried not to be upset. It was a silly commercial
idea anyway. Maybe he wanted her to recognize that he just thought of
her as a friend now. Or maybe he did send her something but the post
was late. Or maybe he forgot.
     After dumping the groceries in the kitchen, Jessica made herself a
cup of tea and sat down to seriously address herself to her writing.
She was behind with this book - George Sutherland's fault, of course,
for dragging her away on vacation to Lanzarote. Bother, must stop
thinking about him.
     Tomorrow, there was a meeting with her publisher, to look at the
chapters she had written so far and talk about the changes he wanted
to make. And he was expecting her to take the next three chapters
with her. Must get it finished. Concentrate.
     An hour later, she had dealt with two telephone calls from friends
wanting to chat, and got in about twenty minutes' worth of work in
between. She spent another five minutes writing, then someone knocked
on the door.
     "Just a minute," Jessica called, realizing too late that the
irritation she felt could be heard in her voice. She saved her work,
got up, and strode in slight annoyance to the door.
     He was standing in the corridor, the picture of calm, that
distinguished, sexy smile on his face and a single long stemmed red
rose -a real one- in his hand. Jessica gave a small gasp of surprise,
then cried out his name and flung her arms around his neck.
     "Jessie," he murmured, wrapping his strong arms around her waist and
lifting her off the floor for a moment.
     "Oh, heavens, George!" she said, as he put her down. "This is such as
surprise! Come in."
     He placed the rose in her hands, and brought his suitcase into the
apartment, setting it down near the door.
     "Sit down," Jessica said, gesturing to the couch. "Would you like a
     "In a minute," he said, holding out his hand. "Just come and talk to
me for a moment."
     Jessica seated herself by his side. "George, it's wonderful to see
you. But why?"
Why what am I doing here?" he finished for her. "I wanted to see
you, of course. And these things are best delivered by hand." He took
a red envelope out of his jacket pocket and handed it to her.
     Jessica smiled at the picture of a sweet fluffy kitten and blushed a
little at his flattering message inside.
     "Thank you, George." She leaned over and lightly kissed him. "I sent
you one, you know."
     "Yes, I know. You're so efficient -I got it two days early. I have it
here," he said, patting his pocket. “Now then, could I trouble you
for a cup of tea?"
     "Of course." She got up, and crossed the room to the kitchenette.
     "Mm?" she looked up to see that George had got to his feet and was
watching her with some concern. "What is it?"
     He came over to her. "Look at you - I thought you felt light. You're
so slim! Too slim."
     She glanced down at herself in some surprise. George placed both his
large hands on her sides and gave her a gentle squeeze. "Oh,
Jessie ... have you even been eating?"
     Jessica stared at the wall and tried to think. True she'd forgotten
one or two meals, maybe more -
     "You haven't, have you?" George concluded, watching her face. "You've
chained yourself to that bloody computer and completely forgotten to
look after yourself."
     She smiled guiltily at him. "I've had a lot of writing to do, George.
I still haven't caught up on the work I missed over the New Year. I
suppose I've been a little preoccupied with it recently."
     "Aye, well, you've got someone to look after you now," he
smiled. "And the first thing I'm going to do is take you out for a
Valentine's Day dinner. Favourite restaurant?"
     She told him, and added, "but I insist on paying for this. Let me
treat you for once."
     "I'm not going to argue about that," he smiled, "I just want to make
sure that you eat!"
     Jessica smiled and touched his arm.
     "You know, I haven't seen your apartment before," George remarked,
glancing around the room.
     "Good gracious, you're right." Jessica filled up the teapot and put
it aside. "Come on," she said, grabbing his hand, "I'll give you a
     She quickly showed him around.
     "This is my bedroom," she finished, pushing open the door.
     George hesitated, then entered the room. He glanced around and
smiled. If everything else -including Jessica herself- was New York
style here, she'd retained a piece of Maine in her bedroom. Plenty of
pictures, embroidered cushions, a quilt on the bed.

     "A double bed, Mrs. Fletcher?" he asked, facing her with a quirky grin.
     "I got used to having plenty of room," she replied crisply, and
seated herself on her bed.
     "I believe you," he said, sitting beside her. "No one else would."
     She gave him a light swat on the arm. George took a moment to study
the photographs on her bedside table. One of her and Frank, of
Grady and Donna, and little Frank Jr. And one of him. He
picked it up and remembered the moment instantly. Jessica had taken
it herself, two years ago. Shortly after New Year's Eve.
     Jessica was watching him. "I keep that with me, George. All of these
go with me when I go back home, and when I come here. It stays by my
bed at home too."
     "I never noticed."
     "I know, I always moved it before."
     He glanced at her, puzzled. "Why?"
     "I don't know, I suppose it was a little embarrassing to let you know
I have a photo of you by my bed."
     "Oh. Jessie!" he smiled, "I have a photo of you by my bed. A rather
sexy one, actually.
You were wearing a very flattering dress when I
took it."
     She smiled. "Come on, I think the tea will be ready to pour."
     He followed her into the living room. She poured the tea and handed
him a cup.
     "So," Jessica said, as they sat down on the couch again, "how long
are you here for?"
     "As long as you can put up with me," George replied. "I have an extra
month's leave, and I've been told to take it. I'm coming up for
retirement, you know."
     "Oh, I can't imagine you leaving Scotland Yard," Jessica said,
sipping her tea. "But a month's leave is wonderful. Can you spend it
with me? You could come back to Cabot Cove with me next week."
     "Are you sure you want me around for a whole month?"
     She put her cup down and took his hand. "Yes! If you would like to

     George looked into her shining eyes and felt his heart swell a
little. Jessica Fletcher truly wanted him to share her life for a
month, at least. “Yes," he whispered. "I would like to stay very much."
     They finished the tea, then George got up. "Well, if we're going out
this evening, I'm afraid I'll have to get a nap. I’m not sure what
time my body clock is on, but I'm pretty sure I missed a night's
sleep somewhere along the line."
     “That's a good idea, George. I simply have to get on with my
writing." Jessica took the teacups to the sink and started rinsing
them out. "You can sleep in my room," she said, then added, "Now, I
mean. Not tonight. Tonight you get the couch."
     He gave her one of his silly grins and disappeared into her room.
     It was early evening when George awoke. He lay still for a moment and
stared at the ceiling, feeling very content and rather pleased with
himself. It had all worked out for the best. To think that he'd
actually forgotten to send the love of his life a Valentine's card.

Thank goodness for last-minute flights!
     Jessica was still glued to her computer screen. George watched her
for a moment, then glanced at his watch. 7pm New York time.
     "Jessica, are you going to get ready to go out?" he asked.
     She carried on typing. "In a minute."
     "It's seven o'clock. Don't you want to go out?"
     "In a minute," she repeated automatically.
     George sighed. "No, Jessica. Now."
     When she didn't respond, he moved to stand behind her, and slid his
arms around her, pulling her hands away from the keyboard. He
efficiently held her to the chair with one arm, and saved her work
and turned the computer off with his free hand.
     "But George, I still have half a chapter to write before tomorrow!"
Jessica protested.
     "You need to eat," he said firmly. "Have you had lunch? No, I didn't
think so. Go on, get ready. The computer will still be here when we
get back."
     Despite her protests, Jessica found herself ushered into her bedroom
to get changed. With a smile to herself, she opened her closet and
selected one of her favourite evening dresses, then set about re-
applying her make-up.
     George was waiting for her when she emerged half an hour later. He
had changed into a suit and tie, and offered his arm. "Wow," he said,
admiring her blue velvet dress. "I haven't seen this one before. You
look beautiful."
     "Thank you." She led him out of the apartment and turned to lock the

* * *

     "I am sorry, sir. We do not have any tables available this evening,"
the head waiter informed George as they stood in the entrance of
Jessica's chosen restaurant.
     George glanced over the waiter's shoulder and saw at least two spare
     "Really? I believe I can see one over there," he said, gesturing at a
table in the corner and discreetly slipping a bill to the waiter.
     "Oh yes, sir. Please follow me." The waiter led them to the table and
pulled out a chair for Jessica.
     "What did you give him?" Jessica whispered, when they were left
     "Enough, obviously," George grinned. "I am convinced they keep a
couple of tables free on special occasions, just in case anyone is
willing to provide an extra few quid. Or bucks, I suppose you say."
     Jessica smiled and studied the menu. "The lobster looks good," she
decided. "Flown in from Maine, so we know they're the best."
     George pulled a face. "How can a classy lady like you stand to pull a
creature apart with your bare hands?"
     "It's very upper class meal in New York," Jessica retorted.
     "I know. It's always puzzled me," George replied. "Well, if you're
going to sit there and dismantle a lobster, so am I." He signaled a
waitress over and ordered two lobster dinners. "Would you like to
choose a wine, Jessica?"
     "Oh, gracious," Jessica glanced down the extensive wine list. "I've
no idea what we want."
     "May I recommend our special Rosé?" the waitress said. "It's half
price for Valentine's Day."
     Jessica glanced at George. He nodded. "Yes, that sounds
fine," Jessica decided.
     "Any starters?"
     "Yes, two bowls of chowder," George said. "We'll decide on the
desserts after dinner."
     Jessica was watching him with amusement. "You're really determined to
feed me up, aren't you?" she asked, after the waitress had gone.
     "Definitely," George replied.

* * *

     "I don't think I could eat another thing," Jessica declared, leaning
back in her chair and taking a sip of wine. A moment later, the
waitress swept past with a very large glass bowl of chocolate ice
cream, whipped cream and cherries. Jessica looked up with interest.
     "Are you sure?" George asked, amused. "Would you like one of those?"
     "I don't think I could. It looks highly calorific."
     "Well that's all right, that's what you need," George laughed.
     Jessica considered. "I still couldn't "I would never be able to eat
all that."
     "Could you eat half?"
     "You mean we could share one? Well!" she gave in to temptation, "all

* * *

     "I haven't had anything so sinful since - since the last time I was
with you," said Jessica, delicately scraping a spoonful of chocolate
ice cream from the top of the glass. "And that seven course dinner in
Lanzarote was a set menu."
     "I remember that," George replied, "those little cakes were very
     "Not as nice as this, though," she said, between mouthfuls of creamy
chocolate ice cream. "This is really naughty!"
     "There's an interesting thought," George said, working with
dedication down his side of the bowl. "Why is pleasure considered
sinful? And have you tried these little chocolate things at the
bottom yet?"
     "No, I haven't got that far yet. I suppose it's human nature to
enjoy things more if they're forbidden."
     "Here, try this," said George, holding out one of the little
chocolates on his spoon. She allowed him to place it in her mouth.
     "Mm, that's nice. Very nice."
Cherry cream, I think," said George. "Do you enjoy things more if
they're forbidden, Jessica? Or things that you won't allow yourself
to have?"
     "I don't know, I've never really given it much thought. Perhaps I do."
     "Don't you think," George said thoughtfully, concentrating on the ice
cream, "that it's okay to follow your desires sometimes, to let
yourself have those things you told yourself you shouldn't?"
     Jessica smiled and wondered when they had stopped talking about the
ice cream. "Perhaps, George. But most rules are made for a reason."
     He looked up at her and grinned, then reached out and wiped away a
spot of ice cream from the side of her mouth. “I know that, Jess. But
we only live once you know - and it is Valentines Day after all."
     Jessica started to reply - she knew where George was leading with
this conversation - but stopped abruptly as a man just two tables
away stood up with a jolt, hands at his temples. He staggered for a
moment, then fell to the floor, bringing a plate of food and several
pieces of cutlery with him. His dinner companions, a woman in her mid
or late forties - his wife?- and a pretty twenty-something girl, both
got to their feet and stood in shock and horror staring down at him.
     One of the waitresses screamed and dropped a tray of desserts. People
started to crowd around the unconscious man. One man with a briefcase
was there almost immediately. "Stand back, I am a doctor," he
announced, proceeding to examine the man.
     Jessica and George looked at each other, then silently rose and
joined the back of the crowd of people, observing the scene with a
morbid fascination.
     "Somebody call an ambulance." The older woman said, trying to refrain
from panic.


     Jessica sat at her computer, desperately trying to finish the chapter
before turning in for the night but the words would not come. The
surprise of seeing George at her doorstep and the incident at the
restaurant saw to that. She knew that Ted Hartley would forgive her
almost anything but she had already stretched this deadline to the
limit. She smiled as she glanced over at George who had fallen asleep
on the couch and was beginning to make soft snoring sounds. "What a
dear man," she thought. Jessica decided to admit defeat. She turned
off the computer, headed towards the closet and took out a large
blanket. Jessica went to cover George with it. As she was wrapping
the blanket around him he suddenly reached out and pulled her close
planting a deep, passionate kiss on her lips.
     "I wondered how long it would take you to quit for the evening,"
George said smiling. Jessica laughed as she sat up beside him and
straightened her hair, giving George a playful push. "I thought you
were asleep," she said with a smile.
     "Well, I couldn't let Valentines Day pass without a proper kiss could
I?" He asked. Jessica looked into George's eyes and found herself
drawn into another deep kiss. This time she responded as George
pressed his lips to hers and held her tight.
     "Happy Valentines day George," Jessica whispered, drawing back a
little and looking up into George's eyes.
     "Happy Valentines day Jessica," George smiled back, as Jessica
snuggled close to him.
     After a moment, she stood up from the couch but held on to George's
hand. "I'll see you in the morning George," Jessica said a bit
awkwardly, her voice full of meaning.
     "Yes," George responded, squeezing her hand. He lifted Jessica's hand
to his lips and kissed it tenderly before releasing it. "I'll see you
in the morning, sleep tight Jessica."
     As Jessica slipped beneath the covers she was suddenly very aware of
the vacant space beside her and how cold it seemed. She turned her
head and looked at the bedside table and the pictures that sat upon
it. Her eyes rested on the picture of George, and then on the picture
of Frank. "Rules are made for a reason," she gently reminded
herself . As she drifted off to sleep she thought of what had
occurred that day and suddenly realized that she had a craving for
chocolate ice cream.

* * *

     The smell of coffee and a light rap at her bedroom door roused
Jessica the next morning.
     She managed to sit up and run a hand through her hair before George
entered, dressed and clean-shaven - very handsome indeed - with a
breakfast tray in his hands.
     "Good morning Dear Lady," George said with a smile. He came to her
side and bent to give her a light kiss on the cheek.
     "Good morning George," Jessica said as she stretched. George set the
tray down on the bedside table and took a seat on the end of the bed
where Jessica had made a space.
     "You know, you are lucky we aren't in Cabot Cove," Jessica said with
a quirky smile. "Coming in to a lady’s bedroom would cause quite an
uproar in local gossip circles," she laughed .
     "My intentions are highly honorable, I assure you," George responded
taking her hand and looking into her large blue eyes. For a moment
they simply stared at each other, somewhat awkwardly, until George
recovered . "Besides, I wanted to make sure that I got you to eat
breakfast before you run off," he said looking at her, "And I thought
that you would want to see this." George handed her the morning
newspaper, the headline read:
     Prominent Local Man: Poisoned.
     Jessica looked up at George, "You mean that man at the restaurant?"
Jessica questioned.
     "Apparently so" George answered shaking his head.
     Jessica took a sip of coffee as she read the rest of the article.
     "It says here that his name was Michael Fleming,” Jessica said
looking up, AI know that name from somewhere......Ah that's it," she
said as she studied the article. "He was a member of the Manhattan
Literacy Committee, my agent, Carrie Shaw, is also a member and she
often speaks of Mr. Fleming - he was a very well respected man. It
also says that he was at the restaurant with his wife and daughter
and that an investigation by Manhattan Officials, headed by
Lieutenant Artie Gelver, is pending." With that Jessica pulled off
her reading glasses and looked at George, determination spread across
her face.
     “George, I know Lieutenant Gelber. I think you and I need to get
down to the police station right away. That is after I find a way to
cancel my meeting this morning and make myself presentable," she said
with a glance in the mirror on the wall.
     George simply laughed, "Jessie," he said almost in protest but then
stopped when he caught her eyes, "all right," he continued, "If you
are determined to play Sherlock Holmes again, well, count me in as
your Dr. Watson .At least that way I can keep an eye on you."

* * *

     “I am sorry Ted, but I promise I'll have the next three chapters for
you next week and we can meet then, all right?" Jessica explained
over the phone, a note of persuasion in her voice. "Thank You Ted,
and give my love to your wife," Jessica breathed a sigh of relief as
she replaced the receiver in it's cradle.
     "That took some convincing," George said as he put on his sports
coat. "Are we all set to go?"
     "Thank goodness Ted is so understanding," Jessica explained, "Yes,
lets be on our way," she said replacing her earring and collecting
her purse.
     Twenty minutes later they walked into Lieutenant Gelber's office.
     "Jessica, this is a surprise," he said eyeing George. "Are you doing
some research for a new book?"
     "Unfortunately not, Artie," Jessica said. "We came down here because
we read about the death of that local man, Michael Fleming, in the
paper this morning." Jessica explained with concern.
     Lieutenant Gelber looked at Jessica with a hesitant expression on his
face. "Jessica," he finally said, "you know that I appreciate the
help you have given me now and again, but you can't just insinuate
yourself into police business like this." This caused George to look
at Jessica with an expression that said he fully agreed with the
     "Artie," Jessica began with a touch of frustration in her voice, "I
am not meddling! We were THERE last night and we saw everything. When
we left the restaurant the paramedics had come and it seemed as if
things were well under control. That's why it was so surprising to
hear that he had died through the night," she explained.
     Artie looked wide-eyed at Jessica "You and Mr. ....Uh …"
     "Oh, how terribly forgetful of me," Jessica blushed. "Artie, this is
my dear friend Inspector George Sutherland of Scotland Yard."
     "Oh, sure!" Artie exclaimed shaking George's hand, "It is nice to
finally meet you Inspector. Jessica talks about you all the time."
     George looked at Jessica with his eyebrows raised and a smile on his
face. Jessica colored slightly and tried in vain to contain her smile
as she avoided his eyes.
     "It is wonderful to meet you as well Lieutenant. Please call me
George," he said.
     "All right Jessica, George," Artie began, "You were at the restaurant
last night when the victim was poisoned. In that case I do want to
talk to you. As of now you are the only witnesses to come forward in
this case. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" Artie asked,
slipping behind his desk and taking out a pad of paper from the
drawer. He motioned for them to have a seat in the two chairs that
sat before the desk.
     "Of course not Artie," Jessica said as she sat down.
     "We really don't have much that will be of use lieutenant," George
explained. "Most of what we know came from this morning's paper."
     Jessica nodded. "There was nothing that seemed strange or out of
place at the restaurant, of course we don't know what happened in the
kitchen. The way he was holding his hands to his temples, it looked
like it could have been a cerebral hemorrhage of some kind."
     George and Artie looked at Jessica with amazement in their eyes.
     "That is what the coroner's report confirmed" Artie said, "but please
Jessica, don't tell anyone about the cause of death."
     "Jessica you never cease to amaze me," said George shaking his head,
     "There is one thing Artie," Jessica explained. "I had heard of this
gentleman before from my agent Carrie Shaw, although I had never met
him. She may be able to provide us with some insight into this."
     "Thank you Jessica," Artie said rubbing his temples, "that will at
least give me a place to start." A rap at the door caused them all to
look up.
     "Excuse me lieutenant but Mrs. Sandra Fleming and her daughter Alexis
are here to speak to you," an officer announced.
     Jessica and George got up. "Artie you know where to find us if you
need to speak to us," Jessica said.
     Artie nodded "Mr. Sutherland are you planning to stay in New York for
a while?" he questioned tentatively.
     "Yes I am Lieutenant," George responded enthusiastically. "Jessica
had been nice enough to put me up while I am here."
     "In my spare bedroom," Jessica added with a warning glance.
     As Jessica and George turned to leave Sandra and Alexis Fleming
approached the office. The older woman was impeccably dressed in a
black suit, her brown hair neatly cropped. Her daughter's small frame
followed after her.
     Artie greeted the two women with a warm handshake, "How are you both
doing today?" Artie asked.
     "As well as can be expected I suppose," Sandra responded eyeing
Jessica and George skeptically.
     Artie followed her gaze. "Mrs. Fleming, this is a good friend of mine
Jessica Fletcher and her friend George Sutherland. They were at the
restaurant last night when your husband was murdered."
     “I am sorry for your loss Mrs. Fleming, I know what it is to loose a
husband," Jessica said extending a hand.
     "Thank you Mrs. Fletcher," Sandra responded with a nod. “It was a
terrible shock."
     "We'll be on our way Artie," Jessica said taking George's hand, "Call
us if you need us." With that Jessica and George left the office.


     Carrie Shaw walked into Ted Hartley's office dressed in a navy skirt
and jacket. Her blond hair tied loosely into a ponytail at the base
of her neck.
     "Ted," she said urgently, "Where is Jessica? I thought we had a
meeting this morning."
     "Jessica called and cancelled it," The middle aged publisher
explained. “Carrie," he said with concern, "have you seen the paper
this morning?"
     "No," Carrie responded with a bit of agitation, “I was too busy
preparing for this meeting. This isn't like Jessica to cancel with no
     "She had her reasons Carrie," Ted Hartley began walking towards her,
his tall frame dwarfing hers. "Apparently an acquaintance of yours -
Michael Fleming - was killed last night and Jessica was a witness of
sorts. You know that she can get rather determined when it comes to
these sorts of matters," Ted smiled and handed the newspaper article
to Carrie.
     "My God," Carrie said with shock. "I spoke to Michael yesterday, we
had some great upcoming plans for the literacy campaign. You say that
Jessica was there when Michael was killed?"
     "Yes, apparently she and a friend were having dinner and this
happened a few tables away," Ted explained. Carrie suddenly turned
     "Ted, I - I think that I should be getting home, this means that I have
dozens of phone calls to make." She stammered. "By the way, did
Jessica mention anything else to you?"
     Ted Hartley shook his head. "Just that she thought that she should
speak to the police and could we reschedule the meeting."
     Carrie Shaw nodded and turned to leave. "Carrie," Ted called after
her, "I know that you had worked with Michael for a long time, I am
sorry for your loss."
     "Thank you Ted," Carrie responded and smiled weakly.
     Out on the street Carrie's mind was working a mile a minute. How much
did Jessica know? What had she seen? And more importantly how long
would it be before she discovered the truth?
     "Damn you, Jessica," Carrie muttered under her breath. "Why did you,
of all people, have to be there last night!"


     Half an hour after leaving Lieutenant Gelber's office, Jessica and
George pulled in front of the trendy Manhattan Restaurant "Trio" that
had been the scene of last the previous night's excitement.
     "Jessica you know that this is a murder scene and the investigators
are not at all likely to let us in," George said.
     "Well, I thought we might as well give it a try, we may learn
something that will help Artie," Jessica responded. "I would really
like to get into that Kitchen," she said as she walked up to the
door. George said nothing but fell into step beside her. There were
many members of the NYPD mingling about. Jessica looked around and
saw Lieutenant Gelber's partner, Detective Henderson, among them.
     "Mrs. Fletcher," the detective said as he saw Jessica approach, "What
a surprise to see you here."
     “Hello Detective," Jessica said with a smile. “This is my friend
Inspector George Sutherland. We were here last night during all of
the excitement." George and the Detective shook hands. "We were just
to see Artie, and figured we would come over and see how things were
progressing at the scene." Jessica stood on her toes and looked past
the police barricade, straining to see what she could.
     Detective Henderson's chocolate face erupted into a large
smile. "There is not much here to see Mrs. Fletcher," he
explained. "I am sure that you understand that I am not able to let
you or the Inspector inside."
     "Of course Detective, I understand," Jessica said looking at
George. "I just want to help in any way that I can." As Jessica said
this, Trio's head chef approached the restaurant. He was a stout man
who fit the stereotypical chef perfectly. Small french-style mustache
and all.

     "What the hell is going on here?" he demanded. “I come to report to
work and there are NYPD cops all over the place!"
     "There was a murder here last night sir," Detective Henderson
responded. “I am Detective Henderson. Who are you?"
     "I'm the head chef Drake Clarkson!" he said with a bite in his voice.
     "We have been looking for you Mr. Clarkson," Henderson responded. “I
have some questions for you."
     Clarkson sighed, "all right."
     "We'll let you get to work Detective," Jessica responded taking
George's arm and turning to leave. Suddenly an officer called to
detective Henderson.
     "Detective, we've found something in the kitchen!" he said as he
walked towards Detective Henderson with a plastic evidence bag in his
hands. "It looks like a pill capsule," the officer explained. Jessica
looked at George her eyes wide.
     "It was nice to meet you all," George said taking Jessica's arm and
gently leading her away.


     "I want to do some research," Jessica told George matter-of-factly
when they had gotten into the cab. "I want to find out what could
have been in that pill capsule."
     George shook his head. "Jessica you are the most determined woman
that I know! - no wonder I have feelings for you," he said with a
light laugh. "I really should put in a call to the Yard and make
sure that things are running smoothly - especially if I am going to
be away for the whole month," he explained.
     Jessica smiled. "I hope that you can manage to spend the entire
month with me," she said with sincerity. "We'll have the cab drop you
off at my apartment and you can use my phone or computer - whatever
you need. I am going to the University Library to look up some
poisons. I'll meet you later at home" Jessica said rummaging through
her purse for her key.
     After a very productive afternoon Jessica had a list of half a dozen
poisons that could have caused the hemorrhage that killed Michael
Fleming. None of them were common, but she guessed that it would be
possible to purchase them through Manhattan's considerable black
market. Jessica entered the building and headed up to her apartment.
As she opened the door her hand went involuntarily to her mouth, as
the scene in her apartment unfolded before her.
     "Oh my God, George!" she finally said when she was able to speak. It
took her what seemed like ages to reach George's tall frame which was
lying motionless on her floor. Fighting back tears, she knelt beside
him and took his pulse. There was still time. Jessica dashed towards
the telephone and dialed 911.
     "Please hurry, there is a man hurt at The Penfield apartments on
64th street," she said in a choked voice. Jessica wiped a tear that
was rolling down her cheek, hung up the phone and headed back to
George. For the first time she noticed the papers on her desk strewn
across the floor and that the drawers had been opened, but she didn't
have time to think about that now, she was more concerned about
getting help for George. Suddenly she began to feel dizzy, and she
instantly knew the cause of George's condition - carbon monoxide. She
had to get George, and herself, out of there before things got any
     Jessica was able, with some difficulty, to drag George out into the
hall. She checked his pulse and breathing again. His vital signs were
weak but he was hanging in. In the moments that followed there were
so many things that went through Jessica's mind as she held George in
her arms. Thoughts of her last moments with Frank - she had held him
too while waiting for Seth to show up at her house, but by then it
was too late. She couldn't bear to loose another man whom she cared
about. Jessica pondered how different her life would be without
George. She also wondered if she had done the right thing by not
pursuing a romantic relationship with him. Jessica cast her tearful
eyes heavenward and silently prayed that it was not too late.
     Within minutes the paramedics were making their way up the stairs to
the third floor. Jessica lifted her head and brushed away the tears
that were rolling down her cheeks.
     "What happened here ma'am?" One of the paramedics asked Jessica as
two others assessed George's condition.
     “I really don't know," she said keeping an eye on George. “I was out
for most of the afternoon and when I came home I found him like
this." Jessica explained. "His name is George Sutherland. He is a
houseguest of mine.... and a ..a very dear friend," Jessica paused
for a moment, considering the last statement, "and I am Jessica
     "Thank you Ms. Fletcher," he said pleasantly. "Are you all right?"
     Jessica smiled weakly. "Other than being deathly worried about a dear
friend, I am fine," she said. "Although I was a bit dizzy in the
apartment, that's why I brought George out here," she explained.
     "I'm sure that the police will want to have a look at the apartment
Ms. Fletcher," the paramedic said, "it looks like we are ready to get
your friend to the hospital," he said. "If you'll excuse me."
     "May I come with you?" Jessica asked, a sense of urgency in her voice.



     "Mrs. Fletcher," one of the nurses said as she touched Jessica on the
shoulder, “Mr. Sutherland is awake and asking for you," she said
smiling. Jessica smiled back and fairly jumped out of her seat. It
seemed to her as if she had been in the waiting room at the hospital
for hours. Ample time for her writer’s imagination to kick into high-
gear, thinking the worst.
Jessica breathed a sigh of relief as she
walked into the room and saw George, a little pale but awake. The
doctor gave George a reassuring pat on the shoulder, "All you need
now is rest," the doctor said. He noticed Jessica standing at the
     "You must be Mrs. Fletcher," he said. Jessica nodded. "Mr.
Sutherland has had acute exposure to carbon monoxide. There is no
question that he will make a full recovery. In the meantime I have
notified the police and I believe that they are investigating as we
     "Thank you for your help, doctor," Jessica said shaking his large hand.
     "Not at all, Mrs. Fletcher," he said as he left the room, closing the
door with a click behind him. In an instant Jessica was at George’s
bedside and had taken his hand.
     "Oh, Jessie," he said.
     "Hello, George," Jessica said smiling. "The doctor says that you'll
make a full recovery," Jessica told him as she looked into his kind,
green eyes.
     "Jessica," George said with concern, "I would be dead right now if it
wasn't for you. How can I ever thank you?"

     Jessica looked at the floor and tried to get rid of the lump in her throat.
     "You would have done the same for me," Jessica said in a small
voice. "When I saw you just lying there…" Jessica trailed off.
     George drew Jessica into his arms and tightly embraced her, wanting
very much to take the anxiety she felt away from her.
     "Shhh..It's all right Jessie," George whispered as he held her.
     "Did the doctor tell you what happened?" Jessica asked as she parted
from his strong embrace. George shook his head. "It was carbon
monoxide George," Jessica said with concern. "I felt dizzy myself
after being in the apartment for only a short time."
     "That's strange," George said. "If there was a leak, the whole
building should have been affected, not just your apartment."

     Jessica nodded in agreement.
     "I had the same thought," she said, "It must have been deliberate."
     "In which case you may still be in danger Jessica," George reminded
     Jessica shook her head in agreement. "It could have been meant for
me," she said. "I've been told that Artie and his investigative crew
are at the apartment right now. We probably won't hear anything until
morning," Jessica said with disappointment.
     Jessica looked at George, as she sat down again on the bed. George
allowed himself to study Jessica. The tears in her eyes made them
shine even brighter. George concluded that he had never seen Jessica
look so beautiful as she did at that moment.
     A long pause passed between them. Jessica looked into George's
eyes. "I was so worried about you," she finally said with deep
sincerity. "Thank God you are going to be all right." George reached
up and dried the tear that was falling down Jessica's cheek.
     "I'm a stubborn Scotsman, Jessica. It takes more than this to get rid
of me." George said with a faint smile.


     The investigation at Jessica's apartment had wrapped up in the early
hours of the morning, allowing her a few short hours of labored rest.
Her telephone rang at 8am jolting her back to the present.
     "Hello?" Jessica said, trying not to sound too groggy.
     "Jessica, It's Artie Gelber," the lieutenant said .
     "Oh, good morning Artie," Jessica said stifling a yawn.
     "Jessica," Artie began, "I thought you would want to know that we
have some more information as to what happened at your apartment last
     "I'll be down there as soon as I can Artie," Jessica said. "I want to
stop by the hospital first. They told me last night that they may be
releasing George this morning."
     "That is good news Jessica," Artie exclaimed. "Come down as soon as
you can."
     Within a few minutes Jessica found herself in the basement of her
apartment building. She hadn't intended to snoop about, but she did
need answers to the dozens of questions that had been circulating in
her head for the past 12 hours. The first thing that she noticed was
the police tape petitioning off a section of the basement - A good
place to start looking Jessica reasoned. Letting herself behind the
yellow police tape, Jessica saw a collection of hoses and tanks. Most
of them had been dismantled and were awaiting shipment to the police
precinct, where they would be stored as evidence. Surely enough, it
appeared that they had, at one point been hooked into the air ducts
that led up to her apartment.
Jessica froze as she heard footsteps-
two pairs- coming down the steps. She quickly ducked behind some
boxes. She was soon able to see that the footsteps belonged to two
rather young officers, who had been posted there overnight. Jessica
came out from behind the boxes and causing the two officers to jump.
     "All right Lady, who are you and what one earth are you doing down
here? This is part of a crime scene you know," The one officer said.
     Jessica put on her most innocent expression . "Oh, I didn't think you
boys would mind," she said with a smile, "I just brought a box full
of junk down here. It's better to have it here than it taking up room
in the apartment," Jessica forced a light laugh. She hated not being
forthcoming with the police but, on the other hand, she didn't even
want to think about what Artie's reaction would be if he knew what
was up to. Instead she excused herself and headed back up the
steps. Checking her watch she saw that it was time to get to the
hospital to see George.
     With a light rap at the door Jessica entered George's hospital room.
George was sitting in one of the chairs in the room and got up as
soon as he saw that it was Jessica.
     "You look much better this morning," Jessica sighed smiling at him.
She walked across the room and gave him a light kiss on the cheek.
     "I am feeling much better today, - maybe not tip top but much better,
thank you Jessica," George responded. "At any rate I am not about to
sit here and allow you to sort this out on your own. The doctors say
that I am free to leave this morning,"
     "That is wonderful news George" Jessica gushed, " but I want you to
take it easy for a while,"
     "I'll have none of your worrying Mrs. Fletcher," George said with
affection as he took her hand, "you, quite possibly, are still in
danger, my Dear Lady."
     Jessica was flattered. Even though he was just being released from
the hospital George's first thoughts were of her and her safety. She
knew that arguing the need for rest would be fruitless. "Shall we be
on our way?" she questioned.
     George smiled, "Yes we'll show whoever is responsible that Mrs.
Jessica Fletcher and Mr. George Sutherland are not so easily
disuaded." Jessica took George's outstretched arm and smiled as they
walked out of the room.


     As Jessica and George walked into Lieutenant Gelber's office they
noticed Carrie Shaw being led away by a uniformed officer. Jessica
was shocked. George sensed Jessica's tension and squeezed her hand to
bring her back to the present
     "What is it, Jess?" he asked with concern.
     "That woman is my agent, Carrie Shaw," Jessica responded in
surprise, "and it looks like they have her in custody!"
     "I'm sure that Lieutenant Gelber will be able to explain everything,"
George said leading her towards the office.
     As Jessica and George entered Artie Gelber’s office, they saw that
there were a large number of people already there; Sandra and Alexis
Fleming, as well as Drake Clarkson.
     Lieutenant Gelber stood up as Jessica and George entered the room,
which had grown deathly quiet.
     "Mrs. Fletcher, Mr. Sutherland." Artie exclaimed.
     Jessica looked around the room, "Artie, what on earth is happening
here?" she finally asked. "What do Carrie Shaw and al of these people
have to do with the incident at my apartment last night?"
     "That's precisely what I want to figure out, Jessica," He
explained. "For the moment I have enough evidence to build a case
against your agent Carrie Shaw."
     "Well, if that is the case lieutenant, why are we here?" Sandra
Fleming asked impatiently motioning to herself, her daughter and Mr
     "I brought you all here because I think that what happened at Mrs.
Fletcher's apartment has a lot to do with the death of your husband,
Mrs. Fleming," Artie explained.
     Jessica looked wide eyed, "Artie, you mean you think that she
murdered Mr. Fleming?" She shot a concerned look at George.
     "We don't know for sure Mrs. Fletcher," Artie said. "At least not yet."
     Sandra guffawed, "You found her prints on the pill capsule didn't you
Lieutenant Gelber? What more proof do you need?"
     "You know, mother, if you weren't so wrapped up in yourself you might
see that Carrie really is a wonderful woman. I don't believe for a
minute that she killed my father or had anything to do with what
happened to Mr. Sutherland," Alexis bravely said. Jessica realized
that it was the first time that she had heard the young woman speak.
     Both Drake Clarkson and Sandra Fleming turned to look at Alexis.
     "How dare you speak to your mother that way, Alexis," Drake commented.
     Alexis guffawed.
     "You don't waste much time, do you, Mr. Clarkson?" she commented. "My
father has been dead for less than two days and you are already
falling all over my mother, not that daddy being alive ever stopped
you in the first place," she said shooting icy cold glares at her
mother and Drake.
     Jessica turned away, not eager to become involved in a family
She looked at George who simply shook his head.
     "Arite" Jessica questioned, "you mentioned that Carries fingerprints
were on the pill capsule your men retrieved from the murder scene,.
Were her prints also on the hoses and tanks found in the basement of
my apartment building?"
     Arite shook his head. "No, those were clean Jessica," he replied.
     "Well then how can you be certain that it was Carrie who was
responsible for the gas in my apartment last night?" Jessica asked.
     Artie looked around the room. Alexis, Sandra and Drake Clarkson were
still squabbling amongst themselves. He turned to Jessica and George.
“I think that you and Mr. Sutherland should pay a visit to Ms. Shaw.
She gave me a lot of interesting information regarding the death of
Michael Fleming.”
     "Maybe another time Artie," Jessica said looking at George. "I think
that I should get George home so that he can rest."
     George looked annoyed. "Jessica I am perfectly fine," he said taking
her hand and squeezing it. He turned to face Artie. "Lieutenant
Gelber, never mind Jessica's protective instincts.
I would like to
see Ms. Carrie Shaw now."
     The visitation blocks at the precinct were small and dimly lit.
Jessica hardly recognized Carrie as she was led in by a uniformed
officer. She froze momentarily as she saw Jessica sitting on the
other side of the glass pane.
     "Carrie," Jessica began, "Lieutenant Gelber has let us in to speak to
you. Please tell us what happened," Jessica said motioning to herself
and George.
     "Who is he?" Carrie asked warily as she studied George.
     "This is my friend George Sutherland. He was in my apartment
yesterday when someone tried to poison me with carbon monoxide."
Jessica explained. "He was just released from hospital."
     Carrie's face drained of all color and she turned away, unable to
look at her visitors.
     "My God, I NEVER meant for this to happen. I didn't want anyone to
get hurt! You have to believe me Jessica," Carrie sobbed.
     "Carrie, YOU did this?" Jessica asked is surprise.
     Carrie shook her head and kept her eyes focused on the tiled floor as
she wept.
     "I...I wanted to frighten you Mrs. Fletcher, not hurt you, or your
     "Why did you want to frighten us, Carrie?" Jessica asked tenderly.
     "Because you were at the restaurant that night, you saw everything.
When you started to `investigate' I was sure you would have found out
that I was there that night, and...." Carrie paused and took a deep
breath, "...I knew that it wouldn't be long before you found out
about my romantic involvement with Michael Fleming."
     Jessica looked at Carrie with shock.
     Carrie saw Jessica's puzzled expression.
     "Don't be surprised Jessica," she said. "I knew I wasn't the only
one. I just thought that ....well, that I was different, that I
really meant something to him."
     "We aren't here to pass judgments Ms. Shaw," George explained. "We
just want to know what happened, and possibly help you. The police do
have a rather strong case against you in the murder of Michael
Fleming. Your fingerprints were found on a pill capsule that was in
one of the kitchen dustbins."
     Carrie sighed. "I knew that Michael had started an affair with one of
his new interns. Oh God...I cared about him so much. I couldn't stand
the thought of being tossed out of his life." She bit her lip as she
struggled to find the words to continue. "I knew where he was taking
his wife and daughter for valentines day dinner. It wasn't hard to
slip into the kitchen and put a bit of Phenobarbital in his order.
The dose must have been too large. I meant to make him sick, not cause
a heart attack and kill him! I just wanted to see him suffer..."
Carrie broke down completely.
     Jessica took a moment to consider what had been said. "I believe you
Carrie." She said with sincerity.
     "That's twenty minutes," one of the officers called out.
     Carrie got up and was escorted out of the room.
     Jessica and George walked out of the station in silence, each
allowing the other to process the information that had come to light.
     "I really do feel sorry for her, you know," George began. "She was so
blinded by love she didn't rightly know what she was up to."
     Jessica held George's hand. "I know, but I still can't help but
feeling that she didn't kill Michael Fleming."
     "I hope you are right about that Jess, "George said simply. "Let’s put
all of this behind us. Tonight you and I are going to have a quiet,
home-cooked meal. I think it would do both of us good." George
     Jessica stopped in her tracks. "George Sutherland you must have read
my mind," she said with a smile. She gave him a glance and quickly
added "I'm cooking, by the way, You've just gotten out of hospital!"
     George smiled and took Jessica's arm. "I couldn't ask for a better
nurse," he said. Jessica laughed.
     "Come on then," George said "let’s eat."


     A few hours later, Jessica and George were busily clearing up after a
wonderful meal. Jessica was elbows deep in a sink of dishes while
George wiped the dishes dry.
     "You know I rather like this, you and I doing simple things
together," George told Jessica.
     Jessica nodded, "I like it too, George," she smiled.
     With the clearing up accomplished, Jessica and George decided to sit
back and enjoy a television movie together. They were showing one of
Jessica's favorite classic movies, but she found it even better
having George there to share it with. Jessica felt herself beginning
to drift off to sleep, her head on George's shoulder, a blanket
them both, feeling totally content.

     At 11pm the local news broke in with a bulletin. Both Jessica and George were instantly alert when the anchor mentioned the arrest of Carrie Shaw for the
murder of Michael Fleming. The commanding voice of Drake Clarkson was
soon heard on the television.
     "I don't know how she expected to get away with it," he stated. "The
fact that she slipped into MY kitchen to deliver the lethal dose of
poison to cause a cerebral hemorrhage... well, it's certainly
     With that George got up and turned off the television. He sat back
down beside Jessica.
     "We don't need to hear about that," he said shaking his head. "It's
enough to give a man a bloody headache!"
     Jessica looked at George, her eyes wide.
     "What have I said now Jessie?" he asked. "That look means you've come
up with something..."
     "I think I may have George," she said still lost in thought.


     Even though it was late when Jessica and George pulled up in front of
the restaurant, There was plenty of room for patrons. It seemed as if
the news of the murder had unsettled the general public enough that
they were steering clear of the establishment. Drake Clarkson, had
seen them arrive and went to greet them.
     "Mrs. Fletcher, Mr. Sutherland how nice to see you again," Clarkson
beamed, flashing a dazzling white smile.
     "Thank you so much, Mr. Clarkson," George responded. Jessica simply
nodded and smiled.
     "What can I get for you both tonight?" Clarkson asked. "We have
plenty of things suitable for sharing," he winked.
     Jessica and George looked at each other a little awkwardly. Jessica
shifted in her seat.
     "Uh, thank you Mr. Clarkson, but we've already eaten." Jessica
said. "We were hoping that you'd have a few moments to talk about the
murder of Michael Fleming. We saw you on the news tonight - you
looked very good by the way," Jessica commented, thinking that
flattery might just get them somewhere with Mr. Drake Clarkson.
Jessica winked at George, who quickly understood.
     "Yes very distinguished indeed," George added.
     Drake's face took on a very proud expression. "Thank you very much,"
he said. He scanned the room. "I guess I can spare a few minutes for
you both." He led Jessica and George to a back office.
     "Now what did you want to ask me?" Drake asked matter-of factly.
     Jessica took a step forward. "I wanted to ask you how you managed to
become so good at lying," Jessica said with an authoritative voice.
     Drake's head shot up and his eyes locked on Jessica.
     "What on earth do you mean Mrs. Fletcher?" Drake said with a nervous
     "You know perfectly well what we mean," George said calmly.
     "I was completely fooled until tonight," Jessica explained. "The T.V.
interview proved that you killed Michael Fleming."
     "Mrs. Fletcher I think you're letting your writers imagination get
the best of you," Drake said twisting his hands nervously, "Ms.
Shaw's fingerprints were on the capsule that contained the poison
used to murder Michael Fleming."
     "That's true," Jessica agreed. "Carrie's fingerprints were found on a
capsule containing Phenobarbital - she admits to that, but that would
have caused his heart to slow down, or even stop. It couldn't have
caused the massive cerebral hemorrhages that killed Mr. Fleming. You
slipped another drug into the meal that would accomplish that,"
Jessica looked sternly at the chef.
     "You and your Scottish boyfriend have no proof of that," Clarkson
snapped back.
     "I'm afraid that YOU gave us all the proof we need, Mr. Clarkson,"
George said.
     Jessica nodded. "Tonight, in your interview, you mentioned that the

cause of death was a cerebral haemorrhage. That information was known

only to the investigating officers, and us," Jessica motioned to herself and
George. "Lieutenant Gelber was adamant that the cause of Mr.
Flemming's death not become public knowledge. The only way you could
have known is if you were the one to administer the poison, and knew
its effects."
     Drake Clarkson paced around the room, nervously.
     "You're both too damn smart," he began, "I did slip the poison into
Michael Fleming's meal. It wasn't hard to do. His wife was unhappy
with him and so I figured that I'd `help' the situation. You see we
had been having an affair for a number of months. She did it mostly
to get back at her husband, but I do care for her. With Michael out
of the way she could marry me and still be entitled to the estate.
I've gotta hand it to you, I never thought I'd be outsmarted by
Sherlock Holmes and his girlfriend." This was very amusing to Clarkson
who laughed heartily. Jessica and George just stood in silence.
     "You realize that I can't let you go to the police with this."
Clarkson said seriously.
     "It's rather too late for that," George said. "They're already here."

     Right on cue, Lieutenant Gelber and Detective Henderson walked
through the door, accompanied by a few lower ranking officers. The
officers handcuffed Drake Clarkson and led him out of the room. "We
heard everything, great idea to call us on your cell phone so that we
could use it as a listening device, George," Artie said.
     "Thank you lieutenant," George said, "I hate the bloody things but
they can come in handy."
     Jessica laughed.
     "Jessica, I must thank you as well," Artie exclaimed. "We'll
definitely be able to build a case against him now. I would have
never caught his slip on the news tonight. It's a good thing you are
so perceptive."
     "Aye..I'll second that," George said taking Jessica's arm.


     After what seemed like an eternally long and drawn out evening,
Jessica sat in front of her fireplace, staring into the flames, lost
in thought. George watched her from the kitchenette as he prepared
them each a cup of tea.
     "Are you glad it's over?" George asked, bringing Jessica back to the
present, and handing her the cup of tea.
     Jessica shook her head.
     "Yes, I am relieved that we were able to get to the bottom of this."
she said quietly, as she clasped the warm teacup in her chilled hands.
     "I think your Miss Shaw has a good chance of a minimal sentence for
her part in all of this," George commented, taking a seat beside
Jessica on the sofa.
     "I think you're right George," Jessica said, looking into the flames
that danced in the fireplace.
     "Jessica," George called taking her hands, "what are you thinking
about that has you so preoccupied?"
     Jessica turned to face George, and looked into his eyes.
     "I was thinking about what happened to you," Jessica explained
hesitantly, "and what I would have done if.....if things had turned
out differently."
    George smiled. "Come here," he said, drawing her into his arms. "I
love you. I am here with you now, and I'm not going to leave you. You
and I have plenty more to look forward to."
     Jessica reached up and touched his face, keeping eye contact with
     "I love you too." she said softly. George bent and gave her a tender
kiss on the lips. Jessica rested her head on his chest.
     "Jessie," George called, after a few minutes of silence "Does what
has happened change your feelings for me?" he asked sheepishly, "What
I mean is..."
     Jessica put a finger on his lips.
     "Shh... I know exactly what you mean, George," Jessica
began. "Believe me when I say that I love you - and I want you to
share in my life. I'm just not.... sure…about anything else."
     George hugged Jessica tighter. "That's all I ask for Jess. I know you
give me what you can."
     "You are a wonderful man George," Jessica said smiling. She pulled
him closer and kissed his lips deeply. "I am so glad that we are
leaving for Cabot Cove tomorrow," Jessica said.
     "I am happy that you have invited me to come along," George
exclaimed. "A few weeks in pleasant Cabot Cove, time with you... and
no murders."
     Jessica laughed. "No, you and I have had our fill of murder for a
while. I'll gladly settle for some quiet time at home with you as my
houseguest...and my best friend!"
     George smiled. "Yes, my best friend Jessica Fletcher."
     After a few moments George looked down at Jessica. She had fallen
asleep in his arms. Carefully he reached up and turned out the lamp
that was beside the sofa. Content to sit there as Jessica slept, her
head rested on his chest.