By Jessica Fletcher
“I can’t even try to be blasé about this,” I said to George as I straightened his bow tie.
“I hope I told you how beautiful you look this evening.”
“You did and I thank you, sir. You’re looking especially well yourself.”
George was wearing a Prince Charlie fitted jacket over a kilt in the Sutherland dress tartan, a black-and-white plaid with narrow red stripes running through it. I wore a pale blue gown—George said it matched my eyes—with a beaded top. All around us the finery rivaled any red-carpet event I’d ever seen on television.
“Mrs. Jessica Fletcher and Chief Inspector George Sutherland.”
George and I stepped up to greet our hosts. A photographer moved in to snap our picture.
The earl was handsome in his tuxedo, pearl gray waistcoat, and white gloves. “Thank you for coming,” he said, shaking my hand and then George’s.
The countess was a picture of elegant simplicity in a column of white satin accented by a red sash that ran across her shoulders and tied behind her back. For jewelry, she wore only ruby earrings and a large domed ring with a fleur-de-lis pattern in diamonds that was fitted over her long white kid gloves....
After greeting the other family members in the reception line, we stepped inside the great ballroom, together with some one hundred forty close friends and relations of Lord and Lady Norrance. The spacious room sparkled like a fairyland with crystal chandeliers and sconces. In the corners, tall Christmas trees, reaching nearly to the ceiling, were decorated in gold and white, with their delicate lace snowflakes and sparkling glass ornaments hanging from branches that were also host to flickering crystal birds....
“I see Norrance is doing well,” I overheard a guest say to his companion. “This bit of décor must’ve cost a pretty penny.”
“Word is the high-end hotel chains are queued up to woo him,” she replied. “They must be lining his pockets.”
“Did you see the sapphire ring Kip’s wife is wearing?” a young woman asked her escort. “Poppy is flaunting her jewelry like she’s already the countess. I’m sure Marielle doesn’t appreciate it. She hates to be outshone.”
“Wanna bet the dowager passed down one of her baubles just to annoy her daughter-in-law? My father says the elder Lady Norrance never liked the earl’s choice in wives.”
“I must say this champagne is not the highest quality,” a matronly woman told her escort. She took a full glass and placed her empty one on the tray held by a waiter whose back was to us.
“Probably saving the good stuff for themselves,” the gentleman muttered.
The waiter, who turned out to be Archer Estwich, pivoted and extended the tray of tall glasses. “Would you and the inspector like some champagne?”
George shook his head, smiling.
“I thought it was pretty good quality myself when I sampled it in the kitchen.” Archer winked at me.
“I’m all set for now,” I said, laughing, “but we’ll look for you a little later.”
Jessica and George spent their New Year's Eve at a ball, but we like to spend ours at home with the fireplace going, soft music playing, and delicious goodies we only treat ourselves to once a year. What's your favorite way to spend New Year's Eve?