Several weeks later
"So you're sure you didn't find anything?" James checked again in a low voice, watching a piece of paper Chas Jarvis was giving back to him.
"No. I looked for him on the computer but there's nothing. Not a single fine." Chas didn't know if this was good news or not, James was frowning. "You were expecting something?"
"No, no..." James sighed. "I'm not even sure he's got his driving licence."
It was Chas' turn to frown. "You mean he's driving without one?"
"No! I just... I thought..." James grimaced. "Forget it!"
Unnoticed by the two men, a beautiful blonde woman wearing a black satin dress arrived at their level. "What are you two doing in a corner?" she enquired with a smile, then she held out a glass to the superintendant. "Champagne?"
"Thank you." Chas took the glass, glancing at the paper James was now trying to conceal in a pocket. He took the hint and didn't say more, but Harry was shrewd enough to notice the glance and grabbed the paper from her husband's hand. "What's that you're hiding?"
James opened his mouth but it was too late. Harry was looking at him with a severe expression. "Don't tell me you asked Chas..." she demanded, her hands on her hips.
"Well..." James ran a hand in his hair.
"James!" she admonished.
"We don't know anything about this guy! She met him what?... two days ago!"
"It's been more than a month now!" she corrected.
He looked at her sheepishly. "At least now we know he's clean."
The woman shook her head and turned to Chas who was clearly not understanding a word. "Charlie is Jessica's boyfriend." she enlightened him. "James has been looking for every reason to criticise him. And now he's up to make him a gangster or something!"
"Not a gangster, but... You never know!" he finished sulkily. His eyes had fallen on his daughter some feet from them, laughing, hand in hand with this Charlie boy. Sure, he was glad that his daughter had finally overcome Maggie's death, but he would have preferred her to find a new best friend, or even adopt a puppy. This boy hanging around his little girl was clearly not for his liking!
Harry was shaking her head disbelievingly. "Charlie is a very nice boy and I like him."
James snorted before following her back to their guests.
It was a beautiful sunny July afternoon and the sun shone over Winfield Hall gardens. Marquees had been set on the lawn and a soft music was playing. Dodging around some tables and chairs, James reached the corner of one marquee and leaned on the pole.
Throwing away the paper with Charlie's name, he scrutinized the garden. Harry was now talking cheerfully with Chas and his wife near the buffet; he didn't really feel like joining them. His son was joking with some friends in the shade of an old tree enjoying the beginning of summer holidays. He smiled thinking of his son's good A-levels results which had decided them to throw this little party. But soon, the smile was wiped off his face as his eyes fell on Jessie, kissing this young hooligan! What on earth could she see in this boy? Ok, maybe he was smart, kind of handsome and well-mannered but apart from that... and anyway, Jessie was still a little baby, she shouldn't be hanging around with any boy...
"Not always easy to let them grow up!" the voice took him out of his musings.
"Hey! Watson!" Dempsey cheered. "When did you get here?"
"I just arrived!"
"Well it's good to see you again! You look fine." James said, clapping him on the back.
"Yeah, I'm as fit as a fiddle, don't worry!" Watson laughed.
"Good, good." He scratched his head. "I never got the occasion to thank you properly for everything you did. We really appreciated you know and..."
"Don't mention it please!" Watson interrupted him. "I was happy to help you." He said truthfully then added "I'm going to say hello to Harry."
"Yeah, you do that!" James nodded and he ran his hand in his hair again, sighing.
"Your hair are going to be a real mess, mummy's not gonna be happy!" His daughter was standing next to him, grinning.
He watched her with half a smile. "So you finally unglued yourself?"
Jessica chuckled. "If only you tried to meet him."
"I've met him! He's always inviting himself." He grumbled.
The girl shook her head, grinning. "I invited him. Just like you and Tommy invited your friends."
"Tommy passed his exams and that was the least we could do after what Chas and Watson did for us!" James justified the presence of other people.
Jessica scanned the garden, looking for someone. "And what about that other guy? The sergeant who solved the case with you?"
"Thompson? Oh, well... he's working on a case at the moment, but Chas says he's fine." James had never really appreciated the sergeant and was clearly not bothered that this one didn't come.
"Well anyway, this is a party, there's music, so I was supposed to have a date!" Seeing her father's face, Jessica surmised another word. "A partner?"
"Let's say a guest." James settled for.
Jessica chuckled again. "Come on, you wouldn't want me to dance with this little insect!" she nodded towards her brother. "I thought I was worthier?"
"Well I'm not sure Charlie is!"
"Dad!" Jessica scolded so James rolled his eyes and kissed his daughter on the forehead.
"Just promise me you'll always be my little princess, alright?"
"I promise." She kissed her father and ran to meet Charlie again.
As he watched his daughter talking animatedly with her boyfriend, two arms slid slowly around his waist and he felt his wife's chin settling on his shoulder. "Trust me, he's a nice boy."
"Yea, yea... I know!" he admitted grudgingly.
Harry smiled. "This little party was a good idea. I've spent a wonderful afternoon."
"I've spent twenty wonderful years with you." He whispered back.
Harry bit her lip; he was still able to make her flush with unexpected nice words. James cupped her face, their eyes locked and they kissed each other lovingly.
Thanks to everyone for reading my story, I hope you enjoyed it.