Christmas in London

By: Mary Manaugh








“So, Jessica, when do you want me to pick you up tomorrow to drive you to Portland?” Seth asked. They were at Jessica's house on a Friday evening eating dinner for the first time since Jessica had come home from New York during the Christmas holidays.

“Well, my flight leaves at one so we should probably leave at 9:00 in the morning in order to give me plenty of time to get to the airport, check in, go through airport security and get settled. You know how busy the airport can be at Christmas time.”  

Yes I do, Seth thought, and I wish Jessica was staying home this Christmas instead of spending it with George!  He didn’t say that out loud, of course, because he knew how much George meant to her and he would do nothing to spoil her holidays for her.


Meanwhile, after spending all day at the store with his sisters, George had finally got his flat decorated and was on his way to the airport to pick up Jessica. And I can’t wait to see her again, it has been way too long!  

The last time he had seen her was when he had gone to go visit her in New York and surprised her on her Birthday, on March 31st by showing up at her apartment without telling her! (Of course, he had called Sheriff Metzger to make sure she was going to be there first.) Unfortunately, he didn’t get to stay for more than 2 days because there had been a bombing at the subway (or tube station, as they called it back home) and he had had to go home early to investigate it. They had talked on the phone and agreed that she would come visit him at his flat in London for Christmas and stay in his spare bedroom.  He just hoped he didn’t wind up working while she was here, but, knowing her track record of someone always getting murdered whenever she was around, he probably would. Oh well, no need to worry about that now; he was on his way to the airport to begin the best Christmas holiday he had in a very long time.


Finally, after being in the air almost all day, Jessica finally arrived at Heathrow at 9:00 am London time. After picking up her bags and going through customs, she went to find George.

"Jessica, over here!” George shouted.

She looked over and saw him. They smiled and she practically ran over to him before dropping her suit cases and hugging him.

“George, it's is so good to see you!”

“It’s good to see you too, Elf,” he said and then he bent her over and kissed her passionately and to his pleasant surprise, she kissed him back.

“I’ve got the flat all ready to go thanks to my sisters. Did you bring that red dress I sent you for your birthday?”

“Yes, I did. Why?”

“Because I have been invited to the Scotland Yard’s version of the policeman's Christmas ball, and I’d like to invite you to come with me!?”

“Well, what else is there to say - of course I’ll come!”

“Fantastic!” said George.


45 minutes later, they had arrived at George's flat. George let them in and Jessica went to the guest room to unpack.

"It is so good to have you here Jess, this is going to be a great Christmas!” A Christmas you will definitely  never forget, George thought.

"Now, I have some things to clear up at the office and you’re probably exhausted from your trip, so, I’m going to drop you off at my flat so you can settle in and catch a nap. Here’s a spare key for you to use. I shouldn’t be more than an hour or two. Have a good sleep, Jess! I’ll be back as soon as I can. I love you!”

“Love you too, George,” Jessica said. They kissed and then he drove off.


“Are you crazy, Alistair? We can’t kidnap the inspector’s girlfriend and demand 100,000 pounds, we’ll get caught and wind up in the bogs forever!”

“We have to, Lionel, otherwise, we’ll never get the money to pay off those gambling debts we owe to Big Daddy! He said if we don’t pay him by midnight on Christmas Eve, it’s going to be our heads!”


"Jessica, I’m back!" George called when he got back to his flat two hours later. He could already smell dinner cooking. Pot roast, mashed potatoes and gravy. Green beans and Sinfully Delicious for dessert, all his favorite’s. Of course, anything Jessica cooks is your favorite and you know it.

“Here I am George,” Jessica said and she came out the guest bedroom dressed in pants, turtleneck and the Christmas sweatshirt he’d bought her last year.

Wow, she looks so sexy in that outfit! He thought. Now if only I could get her to marry me I would be the happiest man in the world.

“Ah, Jessica,” he said, picking her up and giving her a big bear hug, “it is so good to have you here. I have missed you so much!”

 “I’ve missed you too, George. I’m sorry I couldn’t come sooner, but, I had to finish the final draft of my book Blades of Glory and get it off to my publisher!”

“What’s this one about?” asked George.

"Well, you’ll have to wait and see," she said. ‘Course, you won’t have to wait til January 31st like everybody else, she thought, because you’re getting an advance autographed copy for Christmas along with some Scottish pipe tobacco and a new pipe.


“So, what’s the plan for tomorrow, Lionel?” asked Alistair.

“We wait  until we know the inspector’s working but out of the office, then we call his house and tell that Fletcher woman that he’s been hurt and that someone from the Yard will come and pick her up to take her to the hospital to see him."

“You sure that’s going to work, Lionel?” asked Alistair. “I mean, we’re talking about J.B. Fletcher here. You know what kind of reputation she has, she’s always in the news helping to solve murder cases all the time. She’s not stupid you know.”

“It’ll work,” Lionel said. “It has to work!” Because if it doesn’t, we won’t live long enough to ring in the New Year.


    After dinner and dessert, George and Jessica cleaned up the kitchen together and then took their cups of coffee and cozied up by the fireplace in the living room. Then, George turned on some classical Christmas music and they just sat there in companionable silence listening to the music and just enjoying being together.          

I haven’t been this happy in a long time, Jessica thought, and I don’t want it to ever end.

“Oh, Jessica, before I forget, Anna called. All of my sisters and I have been invited to Christmas dinner at her house and, of course, she extended the invitation to you as well. I told her, however, that I was leaving the decision entirely up to you about whether we go or not.”  

 “Well, of course I want to go,” Jessica said. I love visiting with your sisters, you know that. Just don’t abandon me to take your nephew driving like you did the last time she teased.

I’m glad she agreed because I’ve got the biggest surprise in store for her for a Christmas she’ll never forget, he thought.


The next morning, Jessica woke up about 7:00 and could hear George already rambling around in the kitchen making breakfast.  What a sweet guy he is to make breakfast for us, he is so thoughtful. No wonder I love him, he has so many great qualities. So why am I so hesitant about marrying him?she thought.

Then George knocked on her door. “Jessica, are you up? Breakfast is ready!”

"Coming!" she said.

She put on her robe and went out to the kitchen. "Good morning love," he said, and kissed her on the forehead. "How are you doing this morning?"

“Oh, I’m fine, how are you?” 

“I’m fine. I made your favorite breakfast, French toast, scrambled eggs, bacon, orange juice and coffee. I figured you needed a good hearty meal because it looks like you haven’t been eating much lately. You haven’t, have you?”

"No," she admitted, I’ve been so busy the last couple of months trying to finish my book before I came to visit you and I guess I lost track of time and missed a couple meals.”

Looks like you’ve missed more than a couple of meals, Jess, he thought, because you are way to skinny. "Well, now you’ve got somebody to watch over you and I’m going to make sure you eat properly!”

Suddenly, his phone rang, That had better not be the office unless it’s an emergency, he thought, because everybody knows I’m on leave for the Christmas holidays.

He went into the den and picked up the extension. "Sutherland here," he said.

“Hello, Inspector, my name is Constable Henry Pitts. The chief wishes to speak to you, could you hang on for a minute please while I connect you?"

“Yes, of course.” This had bloody well be important, he thought bitterly.

The chief came on the line. “Inspector Sutherland, This is Chief Inspector Reynolds, how are you this fine morning?”

“I’m pretty well,” he said, “how are you?”

“Pretty well. Sutherland, I’m afraid I have some bad news,” he said.

Great, he thought, I’m going to have to work on some minor car accident where no body actually got physically hurt when I’m supposed to be on holiday!

“I’m afraid that your girlfriend Jessica is in danger,” the chief said.

P Suddenly, his>George’s senses were on alert,>. “Chief, what are you talking about?”

 “I’ve uncovered a conspiracy by Constables Lionel Fisher and Alistair Deacon to kidnap Jessica and demand 100,000 pounds from you for her safe return.”

“What?!” he said. "Are you sure?"

 “No,” Reynolds admitted, “I’m not 100% certain, but I though you should know anyway so that you can make sure you keep an extra special eye on Jessica.”

“Of course. Thank you, Chief, and have a happy Christmas,” George said.

“You too, Inspector,” he said and hung up.


“Okay, Fisher and Deacon, where’s the 50,000 pounds a piece that you owe me?”   Big Daddy asked. Big Daddy was a big mobster they had borrowed money from when they had nearly gotten kicked out of the flat that they shared because they had  some expenses come up and hadn't had the money to pay the rent. Naturally, Big Daddy had charged a very high interest rate. Now they were meeting at his office in the business district were he ran a legitimate escort service along with making loans to people on the side.

“Well, we don’t have it right now, but, if you’ll be please be patient just a little while longer, we’ll have it to you by Christmas Eve, we promise,” Lionel and Alistair said.

“Well, how can you guarantee that?” said Big Daddy.

“Our boss at the Yard, Inspector Sutherland, is dating that famous American mystery writer Jessica Fletcher. We’re going to kidnap her, demand 100,000 pounds for her return. You get your money and it’s all over,” Alistair said.

“Well, you'd better hope this works,” Big Daddy said, “or this is going to be your last Christmas.”


Great, George thought, how am I going to tell Jessica her life might be in danger? Maybe it would be safer If I were to put her on the first plane back home. No, I’m not going to do that, I’ve been waiting for this holiday for too long and I’m not going to let two common thugs spoil it now.

“Who was that on the phone, George?” Jessica asked. She had finished cleaning up the kitchen and brought him some coffee in the den.

"That was the chief. Jess, look, I need to talk to you.”

“What about?” Jessica asked..

Well, here goes nothing, George thought. "Darling, the chief has uncovered some evidence that there might be a conspiracy to kidnap you and demand 100,000 pounds from me for your safe return,” he said.

"What?!" Jessica said, are you sure?"

“No,” George said, “we’re not 100% certain, but, the chief thought we should know anyway so I can keep a close eye on you.” Although I would do that anyway, love, considering your track record, he thought.

“Well, since I know you’ll be around to protect me I’m not going to let it worry me and spoil my beautiful Christmas holiday.”

"My sentiments exactly, Elf." He kissed her gently on the lips. “You are the most important person in the world to me and I’m not going to let anything happen to you.

Now, I have some old pictures of Constables Deacon and Fisher to show you, and if anyone comes to you and says that I sent him, call me right away. I don't want anything happening to you.”

"I will, I promise" Jessica said

"So, when is the Christmas ball anyway?” Jessica asked.

“Tomorrow night. I’ve already taken your dress and my tuxedo to the cleaners to be ironed and freshened up and they’ll be ready at 9:00 tomorrow morning.”

“Splendid,” Jessica said. “You always were efficient, George, but that’s just one of the things I love most about you. So, what time do we need to be at your sister’s on Christmas Day?”

“1:00 in the afternoon. We’re going to exchange presents first, so I’ll take you shopping later if you want to pick up some gifts for my sisters and my nephew.”

“Well, of course I want to go shopping for something for them for Christmas, but you’re going to have to help me because I don’t know what kind of stuff your sisters and nephew like.”

“I'm sure they'll like whatever you bring, all that matters is that you’re there.”

"Well, I’ll go get in the shower and get dressed and then we’ll go shopping for Christmas presents for your family.”


“So, Alistair, how long do you think it will take before people start to miss Mrs. Fletcher?” asked Lionel.

"Considering that the Fletcher woman's dating a top inspector at the Yard, probably not long. But, don’t worry, because by the time people start looking for her, we’ll be half way to Jamaica.”


Later, after a successful shopping trip and wrapping up the Christmas presents, George and Jessica went to the local sandwich shop for lunch. George ordered a toasted roast beef sandwich with cheese on rye bread and Jessica ordered a turkey and cheese on wheat bread. They each ordered iced tea.

“So, how much danger do you think I’m really in, George?” Jessica asked.

"Well, as long as I’m with you, probably not to much."

"Oh, George," Jessica said, “before I forget, my agent Carol Simmons called. She says that the B.B.C. called and wants to do an interview on my new book that’s coming out at the end of next month. I tried to get out of it but she wouldn’t take no for an answer. The interview is this afternoon. I hope you don’t mind?"

"Of course I don’t mind, I understand you have a job to do.” That doesn’t mean I have to like it, George thought. "Besides, the office called while you were in the shower. I have to go investigate a two car accident; I shouldn’t be more than a couple hours. I’ll drop you off at the tv station and then by the time you’re done with the interview, I should be all finished with my investigation, or at least far enough along that I can leave for the day. Then I’ll come pick you up."

"That’s fine," Jessica said. They finished their sandwiches and tea and then took off for the tv station.

“I’ll see you later, love. Be careful.”

“Bye, George," she said. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Elf,” he said, and then they kissed and he drove off.


Two hours later the interview was over and Jessica was sitting in the waiting room watching for George. Suddenly, someone from the police department came up, showed her his badge and said,

“Mrs. Fletcher, my name is Constable Deacon. I’m sorry to inform you that Inspector Sutherland has been hurt in the line of duty. I have been sent here to pick you up to see him at the hospital.”

Jessica wanted to believe him, but something was going off in her brain saying, Warning, call George first, it said. “Well, let me call George first, he should still have his cell phone with him...” But, she never got the chance, because suddenly they knocked her out and dragged her away.


Meanwhile, George was at the office thinking about Jessica,>. He couldn’t wait until the ball the next night, and he definitely loved how she looked in that sexy red dress.  I can’t wait to see her in it tomorrow night, he thought. No, get Jessica out of your mind - you have to finish your paperwork.

Suddenly, George had a bad feeling. Something’s wrong with Jessica, he thought. The last time he had felt this way, Jessica was nearly murdered with an arrow. I have to get to Jessica, he thought. I can’t almost lose her again.



“Where are we,” Jessica asked, “and where is George?” They were now at their hideout over near the old boat docks.

“Don’t worry,” Lionel said, “George will be fine as soon  as he comes up with the ransom money. Of course, that doesn’t help you because now that you’ve seen us, we can’t let you out of here. So, we’re going to have to kill you.”

Please George, please get here before it’s too late, she prayed.


"Inspector Sutherland,” Constable Henry Pitts called. “A message was just delivered for you.”

"Put it on my desk, I’ll look at it later."

“Sir, no offense but, I think you might want to look at it right now.

George took the note and opened it up.





Oh my word, thought George, what am I going to do? I have to get to Jessica, she is the love of my life, I’ve already lost one person in my life that I loved this much, I can’t lose Jessica. I can’t go through that again.

“Constable, get me the chief, now!”

 “Yes sir!” the constable said.  Constable Pitts went to go look for the chief. "Sir, the chief has already left for the day."

“Well, than call his emergency pager! And constable, you’re coming with me!”

“To where sir?”

“To save Jessica," George said.

"Sir, I just remembered, don't Deacon and Fisher have an old ice fishing cabin over by the docks?" Pitts asked

Yes they do, George thought, they inherited that place from their grandfather at the start of last summer.

George got in his car, turned on the siren, and beat it out of there like he was on fire.


Meanwhile, Jessica was sitting in the cabin and literally freezing to death. Oh George, please, please, get here in time, she prayed. She knew she loved him but she didn't know if she wanted to remarry. She knew that Frank approved of George, he had told her so when that arrow in her heart nearly killed her last year. He’d had told her that all he wanted was for her to be happy.

"Jessica, Jessica where are you? George called out.  He had found the fishing cabin thanks to some friends of theirs (George's and Constable Pitts’) who did a quick search in the land deeds to find the address.

“George, George I’m right here.”

“Oh, Jessie, thank god you’re safe. I never thought I’d see you again,” he said as he kissed her deeply.

“But George, what about the kidnappers?”

“They're in custody. You’ll have to testify against them in court, of course, but, they're going to be going away for a long time.”



It was now Christmas Day and they were all over at Anna’s house.

Thanks for The book on cars, Mrs.Fletcher!” Quinn said.

“You’re welcome, Quinn.”

It was a beautiful scene: they had exchanged presents, eaten dinner and now they were sitting in the living room, drinking hot chocolate and talking with classical Christmas music playing in the background.

"Jessica, I still have one more surprise for you,” George said.

“Oh really, and what would that be?”

He got down on one knee. “Jessica, darling, I know you’ve said no before because you didn’t want to give up your current life and independence, but, I promise you, I will never stand in your way, whatever you want to do is fine with me because all I want is for you to be happy." He reached in his pocket and pulled out a box and opened the lid. In it was a turquoise diamond engagement ring. "Jessica, will you marry me, please?"

Jessica stared at him for a full beat. I'd feel like I’d be betraying Frank if I got married again, she thought, but, on the hand, Frank did say it was okay with him, that all he wanted was for me to be happy.

“Yes George, I will marry you.”

That’s all he needed to hear. He picked her up and swung her around the room and then he kissed her deeply.

"Jessie,” he murmured, "I will love you for the rest of my life, you’ll see. You’ve made me the happiest man on earth right now. I love you. We can have any kind of wedding you want, money is no object."

"All I want is a simple wedding at my home in Cabot Cove with my friends and family.”

“It’s a deal,” he said, and they kissed.

Now I just have to figure out how to tell Seth, she thought.