Jessica held George a bit tighter as his lips left hers, his green eyes staring down at her. “I don’t want you to leave,” she sighed.
Caressing her cheek, George smiled. “I don’t want to leave ye, either, Lass. It’s going to be a long three months until we see each other again for the holidays.”
“Thanksgiving in Cabot Cove, Christmas in Wick.” Jessica smiled. “I’m looking forward to seeing Wick again.”
“Wick is looking forward to your visit,” he whispered as he pulled her close. “I need to go, Lass.”
“Are you sure this is how you want it? I don’t like not going with you to the airport.”
“I’m sure. If you went with me, I couldn’t kiss you or hold you like I want to. This way I get to hold you when you’ve nothing on but your robe and remember the love making we shared just an hour ago. Remembering you like this, and everything we’ve shared these past two days, is what will get me through the next three months. I don’t want to add a half goodbye in a crowd to those memories.”
Reaching up to cup his face, she brought his lips down to hers, kissing him with all the passion and love she had before breaking away. “Take that with you and go safely home.”
“I’ll be waiting,” she whispered, watching as he picked up his carryon bag.
George, his hand on the doorknob, took one last look at his love. “I love ye, Lass.”
“I love you,” she returned the sentiment just before the door closed behind him. Sitting down on the sofa, the tears that always came after they parted made their way down her cheeks. Jumping at the sound of her ringing telephone, she hastily wiped at her eyes and cleared her throat before picking up.
“Hello?” she answered, startled when the voice of her brother greeted her. “Yes, I can meet you. I’ll be there.” Hanging up, she sighed. Brunch with Marshall. Just what she didn’t really want to do.
“This should be interesting,” she mumbled as she got up to go and get ready.
Interesting had been an understatement Jessica realized as she walked into the restaurant and was greeted by both of her brothers.
“You called Martin?” she questioned Marshall with a glare.
“Well, you always did listen to him more than me.” Marshall defended.
Jessica shook her head. “Oh this is ridiculous. I’m going home.”
“Now, Jessie,” Martin grabbed her hand. “Don’t be hasty. Just come have brunch with us, and tell me about this Scotland Yard Inspector.”
“I won’t be scolded for my choices.”
“I won’t scold, I promise.”
Jessica narrowed her eyes, studying her brother. After a few moments, she gave in. “Alright. But one word that sounds like I’m being scolded, and I leave.”
Jessica followed her brothers to the booth they’d asked to be seated in. She noticed it was off in a corner away from the main crowd filling the dining area. As she carefully slid around the table, she also noticed that her brothers split and sat on either side of her. “Pinning me in?”
“No, Jessie.” Martin smiled and patted her hand. “I promise, if you want to leave, I’ll let you out.”
Giving the waitress their drink orders, they waited for her to leave before settling further back in the seat.
“So, tell Martin about George.” Marshall prodded.
“Marshall, don’t push.” Martin frowned across at his brother then looked at Jessica. “Where did you meet your Inspector?”
“In London. I was a suspect in a murder.”
Martin and Marshall both raised their eyebrows.
“You were a suspect in a murder he was investigating?” Marshall asked with an incredulous tone to his voice. “And you’re sleeping with him?” he questioned in a whisper.
Jessica rolled her eyes. “Oh for Heaven’s sake,” she hissed and grabbed her purse. “Let me out, Martin. This is ridiculous. He’s already starting his nonsense and we haven’t even had brunch.”
“Marshall, calm down. Give her a chance to explain. Remember, I promised not to scold. That goes for you, too.”
“Put your purse down, Jessie, and finish telling me the story.”
Doing as her brother asked, Jessica sighed before starting from the beginning of the story. “I was visiting my friend Marjorie Ainsworth, before giving a speech at the International Society of Mystery Writers conference in London. While I was at Ainsworth manor, Marjorie was murdered. I was the one who found her. The local Inspector found my gold locket, the one that Frank bought me in London, lying under Marjorie’s bed. The fact that with Marjorie’s death, I had been catapulted to the position of the so called, Queen of Murder Mysteries, didn’t help my case. When Scotland Yard became involved, George was the Inspector assigned the case.”
“Cause when they met…it was murder.” Martin commented, quoting an old TV series.
“Martin,” Jessica laughed. “we are not Jonathan and Jennifer Hart.”
“Oh for hell’s sake.” Marshall hissed. “Get on with the story. Like how you went from being his prime suspect to being his prime squeeze as the kids of today would say.”
“Marshall, stop it.” Martin growled at the man. “Remember who the oldest brother is.”
“Why don’t we order our meals before I continue?” Jessica suggested, hoping to have some time to gather her thoughts before continuing with her story.
An hour later, and a few more threats to Marshall by Martin, Jessica was finishing her story. “And now we’ve gotten into a routine. He visits me in Cabot Cove twice a year, Independence Day and Thanksgiving, and I go and spend most of December with him in Wick. I leave in time to be home for the New Year. The only time this changes is when an important case comes up that he can’t get away from. Other than those times, we meet in London how many ever times I happen to be going there during a book tour. Occasionally George’s work brings him to New York and he always makes sure there is enough time to spend at least a couple of days with me.”
“And that’s what was going on when I stopped by, one of your…meetings.”
Jessica rolled her eyes. “Marshall, I don’t understand what your problem is.”
“I told you what my problem is.”
“I know, I know. My reputation.”
Martin frowned. “Her reputation? Marshall, have you gone completely mad?”
“What do you mean? Of course I haven’t gone mad. You know as well as I do what people think of our sister.”
“Yes, I do. I also know that she’s a grown woman who can make her own decisions. I’m guessing if you don’t stop this nonsense, you’ll get the same response from this man as you did Frank when you pulled your over protective act with him.”
Jessica looked at her brother with a raised eyebrow. “What about Frank?”
“You mean he never told you?” Martin asked, clearly surprised that his late brother-in-law hadn’t ever said a word about the incident.
“No. Frank never said anything about any kind of confrontation.”
“Oh, I believe it was more than a confrontation. Marshall was knocked flat on his butt. Frank didn’t like what he was insinuating.”
“What in the world were you insinuating? Frank never lost his temper like that without a very good reason.” Jessica asked, turning her attention to Marshall.
“Shall I tell her?” Martin asked their suddenly quiet brother.
“I caught the two of you kissing. I wanted to make sure he wasn’t pressuring you into doing something you shouldn’t have been doing.”
Jessica dropped her head, shaking it back and forth as she sighed, “I remember you catching us. The look on your face embarrassed me because I knew what you were thinking. I also remember why we were kissing as we were in the middle of the living room. Frank had just told me that he’d found a house that he thought I’d love. He was describing the town it was in, the people, the job that he’d found there. I was excited that things were coming together so smoothly. My dreams were coming true, and the man in front of me was the reason. So,” she shrugged. “I stood on tiptoes and kissed him. A few seconds later, you were clearing your throat. So see, you were acting on assumption instead of knowing all the facts. Just like you were the other day.”
Martin grabbed her hand and squeezed. “Are you happy, Jessie?”
“I love him and when we’re together, yes, I’m happy. I’m not as content with the way things are as I have been in the past, but for now that’s how it has to be. Our lives are too busy, and we’re both too set in our ways, to change things so drastically. I won’t leave Cabot Cove. He won’t leave London or Wick. But we both love each other too much to end things, so this is what we’ve agreed on.”
“Then I’m happy for you. I’d like to meet this man some time.”
Jessica smiled and squeezed her brother’s hand. “I’d like for you to meet him. He’s coming to Cabot Cove for Thanksgiving. He’ll be there the weekend before if you’d like to come visit.”
“I’ll bring Helen. Maybe we’ll even stay for Thanksgiving. It’s been a long time since we’ve been together for the holidays.”
“I’d like that, very much.” Jessica whispered then turned her attention to Marshall. “I’d like for you to come, as well. Stop being over protective and remember that I can take care of myself. Give George a chance. He really is a wonderful man. Believe me, if he wasn’t, Seth wouldn’t have become friends with him. Mort wouldn’t like him. And most importantly, I wouldn’t be involved with him.” She reached across and placed her hand over Marshall’s. “I don’t need a protector anymore, Marshall. I just need a brother.”
Marshall looked down at her hand then up at her. “I’ll come and stay for Thanksgiving. Maybe your Inspector will give me a chance to get to know him.”
“I’m positive he’d enjoy the chance. After all, the two of you are the only ones that can tell him about the young Jessie Macgill.”
George smiled at the sound of her voice. “Hello, Lass.”
“Hello,” she answered, a smile tugging at her lips. “You made it.”
“Yes, I did. It was a very uneventful flight. No crying babies, no snoring old men in the seat beside me. No turbulence.”
“You left one out,” she informed him with a slight chuckle. “I take it there were plenty of flirting women.”
“Now, Lass. You know I don’t pay attention to that.” George laughed as he settled further against the soft pillows behind him.
“In bed?” Jessica asked, knowing that he was as it was his custom to settle in for a couple of hours sleep after returning to his own time zone, especially at such an early hour.
“Yes. I’ll be going to sleep for a wee nap as soon as we finish, but I’m in no hurry.”
“You’ll never guess what happened today.”
“Marshall called and invited me to brunch.”
“Oh? How did that go?”
“He double teamed me.”
“What? Double teamed?”
Jessica chuckled. “He called in our older brother Martin.”
“Oh. And did he react like Marshall did?”
“No. He kept Marshall under control and wanted me to tell him all about how we met, fell in love, all of the story. He’s happy for me, George.”
“I’m glad, Jessie. So how did Marshall react to that?”
“He had his moments, but he finally listened to me and is willing to try again. Martin wants to meet you, so he’s bringing his wife to Cabot Cove for Thanksgiving. Marshall is coming along to meet you properly and try to get to know you.”
“I’m happy for that. I don’t want your brothers angry with me over their sister.”
“Well, according to Martin, you aren’t the only one to have had a taste of Marshall’s attitude.”
“You mean he acted like that with Frank? You didn’t know?”
“I had no idea. According to Martin, Frank punched Marshall and sent him sprawling,” she chuckled. “I guess Marshall confronted Frank after catching us kissing.”
“Let me guess, he thought Frank was pressuring you into doing something you shouldn’t have been doing.” George gave his own low chuckle.
“That’s exactly what he did.” Jessica sighed as she looked out the window. “I miss you,” she whispered, changing the subject.
George shivered at the sound of the want in her voice. “I miss ye, Lass. It’s a lonely lad I’ll be when I go to sleep.”
“My pillow,” she told him. “It’s a poor substitute, but that’s what I do when I’m missing you and can’t sleep because my arms are empty. I usually hold your pillow the first two nights after we’ve been together and parted.”
“Your pillow,” he smiled. “You think of the pillow you sleep on while you’re here as your pillow?”
“Of course I do.”
“It’s going to be a very long three months.”
“Yes, it is. Maybe I can manage a trip to London some time in the next month and a half.”
“That would be lovely, but don’t mess anything up. We’ll make it as we always do.”
After a few moments of silence, where they just listened to the other breathing, Jessica sighed, “George?”
“I’m tired of these long separations.”
George sat up a bit. “Jessie? What are you saying?”
“I’m saying that I’m tired of all of this. I’m saying that I think we need to have a very long talk the next time we see each other.”
“Are you going to leave me?”
“I don’t know, George. I don’t know.”