Jessica Fletcher wrapped her parka coat tighter around her chest as she braced against the chill of the winter air. Her great niece Bella was late to pick her up, and knowing how clumsy she could be Jessica was worried she might have gotten herself into some trouble. The sun was starting to set over Washington, making it ever colder. Luckily sanctuary was in sight as the headlights of Bella’s beat up old truck cut through the dusk. Bella got out to greet her aunt, hugging her.
“Hello dear,” Jessica greeted her, “I was starting to worry.”
“Sorry, aunt Jessica, I had trouble starting the engine,” the pale seventeen year old explained.
“It’s no trouble, really.” It had been over a decade since the two had seen each other in person; since that was when Bella’s parents had divorced so she no longer lived with Charlie, her father and Jessica’s nephew; so another hour meant very little in the grand scheme of things. “Why this truck is older than you are, it’s no wonder you had trouble!”
“Yeah, my dad gave it to me when I moved back in with him, it’s his old one. I like it even though it’s temperamental.”
“An old truck is better than no truck,” agreed Jessica as Bella took her suitcase for her.
“So how long are you in town for?” Bella asked as they hit the road.
“I’m not sure, but likely no more than a few days. I just wanted to get away from Cabot Cove to see if a change of scenery might help me get over this writer’s block.”
“Maybe you should try to shake things up with a different genre, like horror,” suggested Bella.
“You mean monsters and things like that? Well, Bella, I’d have to say it’s a little outside of my comfort zone. I’m better at writing what’s real.”
“Who’s to say it’s not?” She replied ominously, staring fixedly at the unlit stretch of road ahead. Jessica did not reply, and instead looked out of her window. It was too dark to make out much, but she knew this road well enough to know that if it were lighter she’d see nothing but dense thicket. It was only a short drive, but long enough to make the older woman tired. The plane from Maine to Washington had really taken it out of her, a fact she only noticed now as trees danced like jumping sheep past her window. She had all but nodded off by the time they reached Forks.
Charlie’s police cruiser was parked in the driveway, behind which Bella pulled in, the old break of her truck creaking with effort as they came to a less than gentle stop. It woke Jessica up at least, and she and Bella got out of the car to fetch her things. It wasn’t a fancy house by any means, but it was nice enough. “You’ll be bunking in my room, Jessica,” explained Bella as she tugged the suitcase to the front door, which she struggled to unlock, dropping her keys in typical Bella fashion. Once they got inside, Charlie called from the living room.
“Charlie!” Jessica greeted her nephew with enthusiasm and embraced him as soon as he was within hugging distance.
“Can I get you anything? A beer, some food?”
“Oh no, dear, I’m quite alright. All I need is a good night’s sleep,” she yawned.
“Sorry you couldn’t get here earlier, Bella was having quite the time trying to start that old thing out there,” he gestured in the vague direction of the truck outside.
“It can’t be helped. I’ll be up bright and early tomorrow morning to catch up with you.”
“I can’t wait. I’ll let Bella show you to your room, as it’s usually hers she knows better where everything is.”
“Thank you, Charlie.”
Bella led Jessica down the hallway to her room. However, Bella quickly rushed in to close her laptop, which she had left open on her desk. Unfortunately, not quick enough for Jessica not to see the page it was left open on- a page titled “cold ones” with a scary looking fanged creature underneath. A vampire. Jessica realised that this sudden fascination with the occult could be why Bella had suggested she switch genres earlier in the car, but she also realised that this was likely just an adolescent phase. She didn’t think much more of it, instead putting her suitcase in front of her so she could find her toothbrush and her pyjamas while Bella closed the window, which had been left slightly ajar, causing a cold breeze to creep its way into the otherwise warm room. She knew that it would be a lot cosier now.
“You remember where the bathroom is?” Bella asked, tugging her sleeve over her hand as she tried to shake the last of the cold that had crept into the room from her bones.
“Yes, don’t worry about me. I’ll see you in the morning, dear.”
“Bright and early,” she said, backing out of the room.
Jessica went to brush her teeth, and by the time she got back the room had warmed up a treat. She read a little of her book but soon the words blurred together as she grew weary. She drifted easily to sleep.