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Virtual Season Eight - Episode Eight

All I Want for Christmas

Act I
Scene One - One Week Before Christmas, Late Morning, Bert in a seedy section of Downtown Los Angeles

He climbs out of his car and looks up at the rundown brick building he is about to enter. There are heavy bars on the windows and front door, which has a vintage sign above it announcing the place to be Martini’s Fine Jewelry.  Garbage litters the gutter and graffiti mars some of the surrounding buildings.  Bert takes a deep breath and walks in purposefully.

A subtle bell tinkles as he walks in. The store is empty except for a young man replacing a tray of watches into a display case.  He is tall and lanky, dark-haired, wearing a red V-neck sweater over a white T-shirt and regular cut blue jeans that are baggy on his skinny frame.  With his curly black hair and quick smile of straight white teeth, he could be handsome were it not for the fact that he has no chin.  He recognizes Bert immediately and greets him warmly.  “Hey Bert!  Long time no see.  Don’t tell me you’re here to buy your lady a Christmas gift.  This could be serious.”

“It is serious, George.” Bert swallows hard.

“You still at the detective place?”

“Yep.  I’m still there.”

“Never had you pegged for that kind of work.  I always thought you’d go back to your family business.  Like I did.”

“But I don’t like garlic.  Detective work is much more exciting.  And of course, that’s where I met Agnes.”

“Glad to hear you’re still with Agnes.  She’s a very interesting woman.  So I guess that’s who you are shopping for, right?”

“Yes,” he says decisively—as his voice cracks.

“Hmmm.  This does sound serious.  Maybe I should get Granddad.”

“I don’t want to bother Uncle Angelo if he’s busy—“

“No bother.  He’d love to see you.”  George goes through a doorway at the back of the store and comes out momentarily followed by a frail old man looking to be at least eighty.  A brown wool sweater drapes over his thin, sunken shoulders.  His small gray egg of a head has a few tufts of white hair at the temples, age spots everywhere else.  Shiny brown eyes—merry eyes—take them both in and he chuckles as he puts his arms out to Bert.  In a thick Italian accent, he beams, “Sparky, my boy!  How are you?  How is the family?”

“Great, Uncle Angelo.  Everyone’s doing great.  And please don’t call me Sparky.”  Bert returns the old man’s hug hesitantly.  Then he looks down at the display cases filled with diamond pendants, bracelets and rings.  His eyes dart around nervously.

His eyes twinkling, Uncle Angelo seems to know the reason behind Bert’s obvious case of nerves.  He’s seen it many times before.  “Now tell me, Bert.  Your lovely girl, how is she?”

Bert stammers, “Well…she’s...”

The old man’s deep-set eyes darken.  “Yes.  So it’s time.”

“Time?  Time for what?”

“Ring, of course.”  The first word rolls off his tongue with great flourish.  “The minute I saw you two together I knew she was the one.  I’m glad you finally figured it too.”  The old man looks over at George and winks.  “I have sixth sense for these things, you know.”

The old man makes his way slowly over to a particular locked display case.  As Bert watches in amazement, he unlocks it quickly with dexterous fingers and pulls out a tray of glittering diamond rings.  “Let’s start with these.”  Bert moves up close, holding his hand over his stomach.  His eyes are huge as he looks over the rings like he’s afraid to touch them.  “Wow,” is all he can manage to say.

“These all very lovely, have very good color and priced right for a young man’s pocket book.”

“Wow,” Bert says again.  “They are all so…beautiful.  I’m not going to be able to decide. This is an important decision.  There’s so much to consider: carat weight, color, clarity…SHAPE!  That’s really critical.”  He is now nearly hyperventilating.  “Does she want a round, a marquise, emerald cut, square cut, a solitaire, baguettes?  I thought I had this all figured out.  But now that I see all these choices right here, in front of me, it’s all becoming…so…so...”

“What’s wrong, my boy?  If they are too expensive, we can work it out.  After all, you are family.”

“Thanks Uncle Angelo, but money is not the problem.  I’ve been saving for years.” Bert pats his breast pocket and feels his fat wallet. 

He starts looking over the trays of rings again and it’s not too long before he’s in overdrive once again.  “I just can’t decide.  Agnes is so…special, so different from anyone I’ve ever known.  I want to make sure that I do this right.  What if I pick the wrong one?  What if she hates it?  What if I lose it?  And what if I can’t get it sized before Christmas?”

The old man snaps his fingers and shuffles to the back room to bring out something else. George reassures him, “Don’t worry about a thing, Bert. Granddad will take care of everything.  He always does.” 

Momentarily, the old man comes back through the swinging door and places another tray in front of Bert.  Proudly, he announces, “These are my own designs.  I cut the stones and set them all myself.  They are totally unique.”

“Wow… I feel honored,” Bert whispers reverently.  He studies them for awhile, then becomes concerned.  “Uncle Angelo, what about this one?  It looks just like the one in here.”  He shows Uncle Angelo a dog-eared page from a big name jewelry store catalog he has been studying for weeks.

Uncle Angelo’s smile begins to droop until his entire face is crinkled with frown lines.  He picks up the catalog and holds it away from him, then pulls it close and looks at the picture under his jeweler’s loop.  He studies it carefully and his agitation grows with each page he turns.

“Uncle Angelo?  Is everything all right?”  Bert asks him.

Angelo puts down the catalog and looks off into the distance.  His voice quivering with anger, he says, “She stole my designs.”

“Who did?” George asks.

Uncle Angelo’s voice rises ominously as he turns on his grandson.  “You know who!”  He wipes the catalog off the counter with a sweep of his hand like it’s a fly on a picnic table.  “I told you that woman was not for you.”

Defensively, George picks up the catalog and says, “Granddad, your sixth sense can be wrong sometimes, you know.   Christa and I have very strong feelings for each other.  And besides, she would never steal from you.  She’s too smart to do that.”

“Aha!  Notice he didn’t say she’s too honest!”  Uncle Angelo rants at Bert.  The color is suddenly gone from the old man’s cheeks.  His eyes are dull and flat.   Bert looks at him with worry as his rant continues.  “She’s smart enough to know what’s good when she sees it!  How else would my designs get in there?”  He points at the crumpled catalog lying on the floor.

With no quick explanation at hand, George stares at his Grandfather.  Bert looks from the old man and back to George.  Uncle Angelo swipes the air with his hand angrily and shuffles out of the room.

As he’s putting the tray of rings into a safe, George turns to Bert.  “Hey, Bert.  I’m really sorry about this.”

“I’m sorry I upset him.”

“It’s not your fault.  He would have seen it sooner or later.”  He closes the safe carefully.  “I was wondering.  I mean if you have the time…”

“Sure, what is it George?”

“I hate to ask this of you.  I hate to be thinking what I’m thinking.  But do you think you could check her out for me?  Christa?  I mean, you’re a professional investigator and all.”

Bert puffs out his chest proudly.  “I’d be happy to help you in any capacity I can, George.  Let me just see if I can clear my schedule, maybe enlist another operative…Can I use your phone?”

George looks suitably impressed as he hands Bert the phone.

Scene Two - Blue Moon Investigations Outer Office

The crew at Blue Moon is busting out all over with Christmas cheer.  Evergreen garland loops around the room.  A fat spruce tree in the front window sparkles with bright lights and ornaments.  Jami and Inez are wrapping presents in one corner.  Jergenson and O’Neill are sitting at their desks talking on the phone.  MacGillicuddy walks up to the reception desk to taste-test the eggnog, and gets his hand slapped by Agnes for his trouble.  The phone rings, and Agnes answers it through gritting teeth:

“‘Tis the week before Christmas
And all through Blue Moon
Every creature is stirring
Except for the MEN

WE shop and plunder,
THEY sit or nap
And I’ll lay a wager
We’re all getting cr—


Go to Split Screen of Agnes and Bert:

“Oh, hi Bert.  Where the hell are you, anyway?  You’re supposed to be here helping with the decorations.”

“I have more important things to do, Agnes—I mean Bunnycakes.  Is Mr. Addison in?”

“I guess he’s in his office.  He’s not helping either.  AND he’s not helping Ms. Hayes with the year end books.  You men…”

“I know.  We’re all scum.”

“Sometimes you’re the scum that scum slides over.”

He turns his back on George and whispers into the phone, “That’s not a nice thing to say about your big, loving man, honey.  What’s up?  Is it that time of the month or what?”

Bert holds the phone away from his ear as Agnes screams, “What’s up?  What’s up?  I’ll tell you what’s up, Mister.  I’m sick and tired of being the one who does everything at Christmas.  I do all the baking, all the cooking, all the decorating, all the wrapping; I even buy my own presents!  You don’t put an ounce of thought or time or energy into any of it.  And what do I get for all my trouble?  Whatever happens to be the last blue light special at Kmart right before they close on Christmas Eve.”

“But you’re so good at all this Christmas action; I’ve always just assumed you love doing all that stuff.”

“Well, assume no more, Herbert.  I’ve been talking to the girls in the office and their boyfriends don’t treat them this way.  I’m not lifting another finger for you.  You are taking me OUT for Christmas dinner this year AND you are going to buy me something.”  She looks over to the girls for encouragement.  They all give her the thumbs up.  “Something NICE.  Not last minute.  Something you’ve thought about.  Not like that case of beer from the 7-11 last year.  THAT was the last straw.  Got it?”

 “I’ve got it sweetie face.  Nice gift, not last minute, lots of thought.  I promise.  Now, may I please speak to Mr. Addison?”  Bert smiles.

Scene Three – Blue Moon’s Outer Office, A little Later in the Day

Two sets of eyes poke through the huge wreath covering the office door and scan the place.  Presently the door opens and in walks:

“Mr. and Mrs. Hayes!  What are you doing here?  You’re early, aren’t you?  Oh yeah—Merry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!”  Agnes drops the phone as Maddie’s parents greet her and quietly check out her appearance: fuzzy Santa hat, flashing Christmas bulbs in her ears, bells around her neck.  She comes around the desk and they hear bells tinkling on her shoes.  Mr. Hayes looks her up and down a little uncertainly.

“Hi Agnes.  You certainly seem in the Christmas spirit.  We wanted to surprise Maddie.  Is she in?  Are we interrupting anything important?” Mrs. Hayes asks as she receives an unexpected hug.

Agnes shakes her head.  “Thanks. She’s in.  Not really.  I’m sure she’ll love the interruption.  We’ve barely seen her for days.  She’s been working so hard on the year end books…”

Cut to    Maddie’s office:

Maddie sits behind her desk, her fingers covered in black ink, her hair a mess, impatiently turning the pages of a Sharper Image catalog.  Her desk is piled high with newspaper ads and more catalogs, all arranged alphabetically, of course. She makes a frustrated moan, throws the catalog over her shoulder and begins sifting through the pile, searching for another one. 

“Best Buy, Brooks Brothers, Bose, Eddie Bauer, Hammacher Schlemmer, KB Toys, Tower Records, Victoria’s Secret…Victoria’s Secret?  How’d THAT get in there?”  She pulls it out of the pile to toss it away, then starts leafing through the pages.  “Hmmm…” There is a knock at her door.  She immediately sweeps everything off the top of her desk and shoves it all underneath the kneehole.  “Come in!” she yells at the door.

Her parents walk tentatively into the room, smiling.  Maddie jumps up from her chair as shock gives way to happiness at seeing them.  “Mom!  Daddy!  You’re early!  What are you doing here?  I was going to pick you up this afternoon.”

“We got an earlier flight to surprise you.  Surprise!”  her mother says faintly, knowing that some surprises don’t register too well with her daughter.

Maddie comes from behind her desk, stumbling over all the debris she has swept underfoot.  She hugs both her parents and guides them to the sofa, talking the entire time.  “I’m so happy to see you.  It’s been too long.  I wish you’d stay through Christmas.”

They get settled on the sofa as Maddie sits down across from them.  Virginia Hayes tells her, “Well, it seems we’re making Christmas in Hawaii an annual event, dear.  Maybe next year you and David could come with us.”

“This is actually a pretty difficult time of year for us to get away for more than a few days because it’s year-end.  Gotta balance the books.”  She looks over at her spotless desk.  “I mean—“

“I understand perfectly Honey.  It’s hard to get away when you have a thriving business to run,” her father says knowingly.

“And by the looks of you, thriving is the right word.  You look tense, Dear.”  Her mother wipes at an ink smudge on her face.

“Of course, she’s tense.  All those so-called employees,” he says this last word with disdain, “sitting out there decorating the office while she’s in here slaving away.  Where’s David?”

“In his office.”

“You need to learn to delegate, Maddie,” Alex says sternly.

Virginia flashes Maddie a quick look that implores her to keep the peace rather than start a debate with her father about her business practices. Maddie quickly changes the subject and takes her mother’s hand.  “So…how was your flight?”
“Pretty unspectacular.  Sat next to a lawyer the whole time,” her father says casually.

“The most boring young man.  All he talked about were living trusts, wills and estates,” her mother adds.

Maddie’s eyes widen.  “Really!  That’s such a coincidence.”

“It is?”

“Yes.  That’s one of the things I wanted to talk to you about this trip.”

Virginia is suddenly worried.  “Your estate?  Maddie…everything’s all right with you, isn’t it?  Your health?”

“Mom, everything’s fine.”  She squeezes her mother’s hand and asks her father, “Why is it when someone brings up this stuff, other people assume they’re dying.”

Her mother balks.  “I didn’t say that, for God’s sake!  But you did just have a health scare.”

“Maybe she’s just being practical, Ginny.  Right Maddie?”

“Right, Daddy.  My lawyer called me a few weeks ago.  You know, just an end of the year tune up, making sure I had no changes to make with my professional or personal affairs.  And I got to thinking…maybe some changes ARE in order.  I’ve been thinking about where…and to whom…in case…you know, just in case.”

She stops to collect her thoughts as both her parents look at her intently. “Now you know that David and I are full partners together in the business now.”

He father interrupts.  “And you should be partners in life.  When is that man going to stop pussyfooting around and make an honest woman of you?”


He looks from his wife to his daughter impatiently.  “Oh Virginia, Maddie knows I’m kidding, don’t you?”

“ANYWAY,”  Maddie continues, her irritation level rising, “our personal relationship IS progressing to a point—“

Her father interrupts.  “Hmmm, you look like you could use a break and this sounds like a conversation we should be having over a long lunch.  Can you get away?”

“Oh…sure.  I can get away.  But this isn’t critical.  It’s just something I’m thinking about.”

He parents sit and look at her intently.

She smiles at them uneasily.  “Let me just have Agnes call in a reservation.”

“Will David be joining us?”  her mother asks.

“I think he’s working on something.”

Her father stands up.  “Well, I’m starving.  There’s a rare steak out there calling my name.”  Virginia clears her throat.  “What is it Virginia?”

Maddie walks over to her phone to talk to Agnes as her parents begin having a quiet, but heated, discussion on the sofa.

“Well, damnit!  I hate salad.  I’m sick of salad.  All I ever eat any more is SALAD!”

“With the dressing on the side.  Lo-cal Italian. I’m not going to let you ignore your diet.”

“I am not a rabbit.  And you know, Virginia, I am on vacation.  I wish you’d allow me to relax.”

“Relax?  This is relaxed? It’s bad enough that you’ve scheduled business meetings while we’re here seeing the kids.  You need to make more time for your family and you need to watch your stress level.  Look at the example you’ve set for Maddie.”  She points her finger at her husband.

Alex Hayes heaves a frustrated sigh, tightens his lips and looks from his wife to his daughter as Maddie rejoins them.  “Daddy, when are you going to slow down and retire?”

“Me?  Retire?  I’d rather be dead.”

“Don’t say that!”  Maddie and Mrs. Hayes say in unison.

“You both worry too much.  Let’s eat!”  he laughs them off.

“Well…Oh!  David.  I need to let him know we’re leaving.”

She jumps up; feeling scattered, and crosses over to her phone again.  She buzzes David’s office phone.

Go to split screen of Maddie and David.

David eyes are closed as he picks up.  “Santa’s Spa, where stressed-out shoppers go for…satisfaction,” he answers.

She rolls her eyes. “Hi.”

“Hi yourself,” he sits up and smiles.

“You sound tired.”

“That’s because I AM tired.  Attending to all your needs is wearing me out Ms. Hayes.”

“Yeah right.  That’ll be the day.  David, my parents are here.  They came in early to surprise us.  Isn’t that wonderful?”  She looks over at them and smiles.

“Peachy keen.  They’re here?  In the office?  Does that mean you’ll be giving your poor nose a reprieve from the grindstone?  Pretty soon you won’t have any nose left.  You’ll be the Michael Jackson of Blue Moon Investigations.”

“Very funny.  One of us needs to be responsible around here.  And I don’t see you busting a hump to get any of this done.”

“I beg your pardon, Ms. Hayes.  I seem to recall a hump being busted last—

“Knock it off!”  She says irritably and a little louder than intended.  “Sorry David, I have a headache.” She looks over at her parents and smiles miserably.  “And if you don’t mind I’d like to take them out to a late lunch and shopping.  The four of us can get together at home tonight.  Would you mind?”

“Not at all.  The more shopping you do, the more stuff I get under the tree.  So shop away.”

“You’re so understanding…Ok, I’ll see you at home later?”

“Yep.  Have fun.  Pop your head in before you leave so I can say hi.  And put in a good word for me with your dad.”

She whispers into the phone.  “What do you mean by that?”

“I don’t think he approves of our living arrangement.  The last few phone calls have been a little weird—”

She turns her back on her parents.  “That’s silly, David.”

“Yeah, whatever.  Just make sure you tell him what a great guy I am and how I’m totally pulling my weight around here and at home, doing laundry, cooking, cleaning…sleeping in the guest room.”

“How stupid do you think they are?”  she chuckles.  “Look David, we’d better get going.  I’ll see you later.  Ok?”

“Ok…Oh! And Goldilocks.  I was admiring a Rolex at the mall the other day—“

He hears a resounding click, grins and leans back in his chair again.

Scene Four – David’s Office, a Short Time Later

There is a muffled, hesitant knock at his door.  Through a yawn and a stretch he yells, “Go away!  I’m on a conference call with the North Pole.”

Bert’s head pokes through a crack in the door.  “Mr. Addison?  Can I speak to you for a moment?”  David gives him a get lost look.  “Have you given any more thought to…” Bert looks over his shoulder and whispers, “the case, sir?”

David whispers back.  “A bit.  Why are we whispering?”

“Can I come in sir?”

“Oh all right, Bert.  I’ll put the elves on hold.  Come on in.”  Bert walks in, closes the door and turns back around slowly. He keeps whispering.  “I don’t want Agnes to hear what we’re discussing.”

“About your jewelry store case?”  David whispers back.

He proceeds to the sofa in front of David’s desk.  “Yes, sir.  You know she has radar.  And I don’t want her to know that I was at a jewelry store today.  If she finds out it’ll ruin the surprise.”

“What surprise might that be, Mr. Viola?  What you’re getting a certain receptionist for Christmas?”  David smiles but notes the sweat beading on Bert’s forehead.  David frowns at him.  “You ok, Mr. Viola?  You look like you could use a little CPR.”  Then he backs away from his desk.  “You’re not contagious, are you?”

“No sir.  This is not contagious.  I think I’m having an anxiety attack.  I get them sometimes.”  He adds an aside that David picks up on: “mortgages, kids, wills…”

David looks at him uncertainly.   “Are you sure you’re ok, Bert?”

“Physically, yes.  Mentally, emotionally, possibly not.”  There’s a momentary silence, then he says, “I’m about to make a important decision…a life altering decision…”  He looks back over his shoulder toward the outer office.

“Really.”  David scoots forward again and leans in.  “Take a deep breath and spill your guts, Mr. Viola.”

“Yes sir.  It’s not that I don’t know what I’m getting her for Christmas.  I know what it is.  In fact I have it right here.”  He taps his suit coat pocket.  “I’m just undecided on…on some of the particulars surrounding it.”

David’s eyes close and he smiles.  “Such as?”

“Like where to hide it so she won’t find it.”

“That shouldn’t be too hard.  It looks pretty small to me.”  He grins at Bert.  “So what is it?  Something old?  Something new?  Something borrowed?  Something blue?”

“How did you know sir?”

“First off, you have been a little preoccupied around here lately.  Second, you called me from a JEWELRY store this morning.  And third, it’s just an instinct I have, Bert.  I’m like a cat in the wild.  And right now I sense I’m downwind of a dying warthog and the vultures are circling overhead.”

“Is that how you see marriage, sir?  Death?”

“No, no, no, not necessarily.  Take you, for instance.  You need someone to keep your feet warm at night, Bert.  Darn your socks, cook your meals, shave your back.”

Bert begins to relax and get into the guy talk.  He grins and leans forward.  “I don’t think Agnes knows how to darn socks, Mr. Addison.  But the things she DOES know sure keep my feet warm at night.”

“Hold it there, Mr. Viola.  You’re entering dangerous territory...the mountains of Too Much Information.”

“Sorry, sir.  So, will you help me?”

“Help you what?”

“Hide the ring from my beloved, sir. I just hope she says yes.  She’s pretty mad at me right now for some reason.”  He stands up and starts to pace.  “And I just hope I got the ring she wants. I don’t want her to open that little black velvet box on Christmas night and see something she’ll hate to look at for the rest of her life.”  He looks back at the door nervously.

“Why didn’t you just ask her what she wants?  Or better yet, let her pick it out.”

“Can’t do that, Mr. Addison.”  Bert shakes his head vehemently.  “Ever since I was a little boy I’ve dreamed about what that moment would be like.  When I looked into the eyes of the woman I loved and asked her to be my wife.”

David’s top lip curls in disbelief.  “You did?”

“Yes, sir.  I’ve put considerable thought into it.  Sure, the faces have changed over the years…Farrah Fawcett, Erlinda Garfinkle, my ninth grade girlfriend, Princess Leia…”

David mouths Princess Leia?

“…But the one thing that’s always remained constant is that I want to do it in a certain way.”  He starts acting out a little pantomime.  “I’ll bring out the ring box from a hiding place.   It’s tied with a small red bow.  We’re all alone together, in front of the fire, happy and spent after hours of lovemaking—“

“Hold it right there, Bert.  Ok, so I get you want to surprise her.  But my part has me somewhat stumped. You want ME to hide it for you?”

“Yes, sir.  If I hide it at home, she’ll find it.”

“That pesky radar thing again?”

“Yes, sir.  And if I hide it in my desk, MacGillicuddy might find it when he’s looking for something to sabotage.”

“How about the safe in Maddie’s office?”

“She’s always going in the safe for one thing or another.  So that leaves your office.”

Bert pulls some sweaty catalogs out of his suit coat and lays them in front of David.  “And I need you to hide these too.”

“Come on, Bert.  This is a little ridiculous.”  He throws the catalogs into the trashcan.  Bert immediately fishes them out.

“She empties the trash every night.  Can you please take them home and dispose of them there?”

“This is more complicated than Watergate.  Wait.  Don’t you need one of these as evidence for this case of yours?”

“I left that catalog at Uncle Angelo’s store, Mr. Addison.”

“I didn’t know he was your uncle.”

“Well, he’s not really. He and my dad bonded in the army and stayed in close touch over the years.  As soon as I came out to LA, I looked him up and you know he treated me just like I was family.  He’s a great guy.  He’s been like my guardian angel.”

“Well, then, we definitely have to take this case.”

“Thank you sir.  I really appreciate this.  But let me reiterate my point.  We can’t let Agnes catch wind of any of this.  She puts two and two together faster than a kindergarten teacher with a Master’s degree.”  He places the jewelry catalogs in front of David.  David pushes them away.  “Wait a minute.  I’ve been on the receiving end of Agnes and her radar myself so I understand why you’re being so hush hush.  But I don’t want to give Maddie the wrong idea.”

“She seems pretty busy lately sir.  Somewhat…unapproachable.”

David looks at Bert in mock disbelief.  “Maddie?  Unapproachable?  Naaaah.”

“She’s been locked in her office for days doing all the year-end paper work and now her parents are here.  I bet she’ll never even notice a few extra papers in the trash at home.”

David raises his eyebrows.  “Ok, but if she finds them I’ll make it crystal clear that they’re from YOU.”  He grins.  “Wouldn’t want her to get her hopes up.”

“Thank you, sir,” Bert smiles with exaggerated relief.  “Mr. Addison?”

“I won’t propose for you Bert.”

“No sir.  Where are we going to hide this thing?”  Bert holds the black box out in front of him.

David scans his office, opens and closes some desk drawers, gets up and walks around.  He lifts a cushion on the leather sofa and looks over at Bert, who is shaking his head.  “What if a heavy person sits on it?”

David sighs with frustration.  Bert pops up off the couch with an idea.  “Your refrigerator!  No one would dare look in there.”

They smile a conspiratorial smile at each other.  David places the box in the small fridge next to an expired carton of chocolate milk and a moldy plastic bag.  Bert wrinkles his nose as David repositions the box behind the moldy piece of whatever it was.  Noticing this look, David explains, “Ice in the ice box.  Somewhat cliché, unless it’s camouflaged by last week’s—or was it last month’s— lunch.”

Satisfied, Bert asks, “Would you like to come by the store and interview Uncle Angelo now, sir?”

“Sure.  Maybe I’ll kill two birds with one stone.  Find a trinket for Maddie while I’m there.”

Wide-eyed, Bert asks, “You mean you haven’t bought her Christmas gift yet, sir?  You better hurry.  All the good stuff will be picked over.”

Unconcerned, he says, “Oh…I don’t know.  She’s pretty hard to shop for.  She has tons of stuff she never uses.  And she’s not wild about my taste in music or clothes or cars or lingerie—especially lingerie— or well… anything.  Look, I’ll pick her up something from your uncle’s store.”

Bert looks at him warily but David appears confident.  “Don’t worry about it Bert.  She’s got all the stuff she needs.  Besides, what do you get for the woman who has…me?”  He grins smugly.

Bert nods.  “Yes, sir.  But if she’s like any woman I’ve ever known she’ll be disappointed if she opens up ‘something you just picked up’ on Christmas day.  Believe me, I know.  You better put some thought into it.  Women are crazed about how much thought goes into a gift.  They don’t care what it is, what it cost, as long as it’s something you’ve racked your brains about for months.  I’m just warning you, sir…and I wouldn’t want to get on her bad side.”

David shrugs off his warning.  “Ahh, Maddie doesn’t have a bad side.”  He grabs his coat and they walk out the door.

Scene Five - A Beverly Hills Restaurant

“You started talking about your relationship with David.  Something about it progressing, I believe?” Virginia is asking Maddie.

“Yes.  Well, you know…with David and I living together now... I’m very—well mostly very— contented with things as they are.  I’ve been thinking that since we live together, and work together…”

“And are happy together…Yes?”

“Yes.”  She smiles at her mother.  “I’ve been thinking I might make David my beneficiary.”

She looks from one parent to the other, expecting at least an argument from her father.  But both her parents sit at the table, sipping ice water, looking perfectly calm.

“Are you ok with that?  I mean, I know YOU two have always been my…well, you ARE…my next of kin so…”

“I think it’s a great idea, honey,” her mother smiles.

“You do?  You don’t think I’m being rash?  I mean since we’re not married and don’t plan to be.”  She looks pointedly at her father.

Maddie’s father huffs and hides behind his menu.

“It’s just that thanks to Daddy and his workaholic ways, you two are basically set for life.  You have everything you need. David, on the other hand...”

“I think it’s a lovely gesture dear.  And I for one,” Virginia looks sharply at Alex, “am all for it.  You’re sure you’re not keeping something from us?”

“No mom, really.  Everything’s fine.  And it’s no big deal.  I just think it makes sense.”  Maddie slides out of the booth,  “I need to make a phone call.  I’ll be right back.”

Maddie’s father puts down his menu and watches Maddie walk away.  “It only makes sense if the man is willing to do the same.”  He receives a confused look from his wife.  “What about his estate?” he asks, seemingly amazed that Virginia hasn’t thought of this herself.

She considers this question for a moment, then says, “I don’t think David has a will.  I don’t think he has much in the way of material possessions.”

“Doesn’t have one?”

“Well, knowing him, probably not.  Besides, Alex, this is none of our business.  And Maddie would be upset if she found out we were overly concerned with her personal life.  I want this to be a quiet visit if you don’t mind.  I’d prefer no arguments, no door slamming, no yelling, and to that end—no meddling in our daughter’s affairs.”

“I’m not meddling, Virginia, just looking out for her interests.  The man has half her business!  They are in a supposedly committed relationship now.  I feel that someone should talk to him about this.”

“And that someone should be Maddie.  Oh no…You’re not going to ask him what his intentions are?”  Virginia looks horrified.

“I just want to find out if he’s in over his head.  Look, Ginny.  I know you love that boy like a son.  I’m very fond of him too.  And he and Maddie finally seem to be on an even keel.  But he has a history of, let’s say, erratic behavior.”

“She’s a grown woman, Alex.  This is HER decision, not ours.  And I feel good about it.  I feel this is a strong sign they are moving forward.  If you start treating her like a child—”

“She IS my child…”

She gives him an exasperated look.  “You are the world’s most stubborn man, do you know that?”

“And you wouldn’t want me any other way,” he smiles at his wife and kisses her hand.  Virginia shakes her head and sighs as Maddie approaches the table.

“Am I interrupting?”  she smiles, observing her parents’ public display of affection.

Her father smiles at her.  “Not at all, sweetheart.  We were just talking about what a great trip this is going to be…”

Cut to:  Martini’s Fine Jewelry

David looks around the neighborhood a little nervously.  “Oh, don’t worry, sir.  This is one of the finest jewelry stores in LA”

“In this neighborhood?  This ain’t exactly Rodeo Drive.  In fact, I’m glad we’re in YOUR car and not in mine.  I just hope you’re not carrying too much moola.  This looks like major gang territory to me.”

“Uncle Angelo has had this location for close to forty years.  He’d never move his business.  He’s a master craftsman.  People come from all over the world to this store.”

They enter through the barred door, the bell tinkles and George peeks over a countertop.  The store is still deserted.  David gazes around the place and notes an expensive alarm system.

“George, this is my employer, David Addison.  Mr. Addison, this is George Martini, Uncle Angelo’s grandson.  He manages the place.”  Just then the old man enters slowly through the swinging back door.  Although he appears tired and drawn, his eyes light up when he spies Bert.  “Ah, Sparky!  George tells me what you are doing for us.  I am very grateful.”

“Sparky?” David murmurs.

“A nickname my dad gave me that I’ve been trying to outgrow for twenty years.”

“Well, I guess if you haven’t outgrown it by now, it ain’t gonna happen.  Hello, Mr. Martini.  I’m David Addison.”

“My Boss and half owner of Blue Moon Investigations,” Bert announces proudly.

“Please call me Uncle Angelo.”  Uncle Angelo enthusiastically shakes David’s hand.  “Everyone does.  We’re so proud of our Sparky.  He’s the first professional detective in the family.”

“And he’s a natural.  Actually, Mr. Viola here is doing such a great job we couldn’t run the place without him.”  Bert gives David a shocked but admiring look.  “Merry Christmas, Bert,” David whispers to him then smiles.  “And it’s Dave, Uncle Angelo.”  David feels an instant fondness toward the old man.  He can understand Bert’s attachment to him.

David looks down and whistles.  “You got some gorgeous rocks here, Uncle Angelo.”

“Thank you.  Most of them are my own, unique creations.  Although no one would know it now…” his voice trails off.

“We’ll try to find out what happened with those designs.  Do you have any dated papers, pictures that would prove you had them first?”  Bert asks.

“I always make drawings.”  He moves over to a small, cluttered desk in a back corner and shuffles around in an accordion file.  He pulls out a handful of papers, all detailed sketches of unusual and beautiful wedding rings.  “Everything is here.”

George says, “Well then, how do you think the designs were stolen if Uncle Angelo still has the drawings?”

David is looking through the drawings, noting that each one is marked with a date and a notarized signature.  “Any copies of these lying around, Mr.—Uncle Angelo?” 

“No, no copies.”

“Then these are great evidence.  Very smart of you to notarize these,” Bert smiles at Angelo.

“Yeah, now all we have to do is find out how they were stolen from this elaborately alarmed store that doesn’t look like it was robbed, find the stolen copies of the drawings and arrest the perpetrators.  Piece of cake.” David states cynically.

“Easy job, right?”  Uncle Angelo says to Bert hopefully.

“No, Uncle.  Not so easy.  You see, if someone stole copies of these, they may have destroyed them by now, simply because they ARE such good evidence.  And if they still have them in their possession, they will surely have them under lock and key somewhere safe.  This will not be easy.” 

“But you will find evidence, Sparky.  You are good detective.  Mr. Addison say so himself.”  He swipes at the air, like he’s shooing away all his worries.  “Now, enough of this business talk.  Your boss here needs to find his lady friend a gift.”

Bert and David look at each other then at Uncle Angelo uncertainly.  The twinkle back in his eye, Uncle Angelo moves toward another counter.  They follow him.

“Now tell me Mr. Dave.  What kind of jewelry does your lady friend wear?”

“Uh, well, she’s not much into jewelry.  I spent an arm and a leg on pearls for her once and she never even wears them.”

“Maybe she prefers diamonds,” the old man says with great authority.

“Don’t they all?”  David laughs and starts singing:  “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend...”

The old man snaps his fingers like he’s just had a great idea.  He picks up a tray of jewels and lays them out before David, who stops singing as he is presented with a brilliant array of light blue stones set in bracelets, pendants and earrings.  He picks up a particularly stunning tennis bracelet and looks at it closely.  “What are these?  I’ve never seen anything like them.”

“They’re blue diamonds.  Exquisite, close to flawless and exceedingly rare.”  He sets his eyes on David and whispers decisively, “Like true love.”

“And they’re cursed.”  Bert pipes in.

“Huh?”  David asks, still staring at the magnificent tennis bracelet.

“The Hope Diamond?  Remember that one?  The biggest, most extraordinarily perfect stone in history and everyone who ever owned it came to a grizzly, untimely end.”

“How could anything this precious be cursed?”  the old man counters. He shoos Bert’s comment away with a swipe of his hand.   “Natural stones in this color are very unusual.  They are a wonderful compliment to a woman of unusual beauty.  So…what do you think, Mr. Addison?  Splendid, aren’t they?  And the same cornflower blue as her eyes.”  He stares intensely at David.

David puts down the bracelet and looks hard at Uncle Angelo.  Uncle Angelo shrugs.  “Just a lucky guess.”  Then he smiles and David smiles back at him. 
“I don’t know.  I think this thing would look gorgeous on her, but it’s a little rich for my blood.” 

He puts down the bracelet reluctantly thinking: She hates MY taste.  Better go with something…boring.  “How about diamond earrings?”  Angelo points to another tray and picks out a pair of one-carat total weight studs.  David looks them over and says, “Yeah, Maddie will like these.  They’re…”

“Certainly not boring.  They are beautiful, timeless and classic.”

David stares at the old man in wonder.  “Something like that…yeah.”

Uncle Angelo shrugs.  “No problem.  We change them from pierced to clips and you are set to go.”

“Ok, then.  Let’s wrap ‘em up.  Wait a minute, how did you—”

“I’ll deliver them before Christmas Eve.  And you will deliver me, how you say again?  Perpetrator.”  He looks at George who shakes his head.

“We’ll certainly do our best.  At least we know where to start.”  Bert holds up the store catalog. 

“Thank you…I am…eternally…” Uncle Angelo’s smile disappears suddenly.  The old man’s eyes widen; his mouth begins to work like a fish out of water.  David and Bert’s shocked expressions turn to alarm as they watch the blood drain from Uncle Angelo’s pale, twisting face.  The old man’s shoulders crumple, and he reaches for George, who stands dumbfounded about ten feet away. His breath hitches and his hand reaches up to his heaving chest.  His eyes go blank and before they reach him, he sinks to the floor.

Cut to:

An ambulance pulling away from the curb, sirens blaring.  George, Bert and David look after it worriedly. 

“This is all my fault,” George says sadly.

“He’ll be fine and it’s the fault of whoever stole his work.  You’d never do anything to hurt your grandfather,” Bert reassures him, reaching up to put an arm around his shoulder.

“I’m afraid I did something…  I showed them to Christa…I let her try them on…”

“George, what the hell are you talking about?”

George shakes Bert’s hand away.  “I showed the designs to her.  I was so proud of Granddad’s artistry.  I guess I was showing off to her.  But I never thought she’d steal from Uncle Angelo.  I still don’t believe it.  There just has to be another explanation.  She’d have to have a photographic memory to be able to steal his designs after seeing them only once…all the drawings is still here.  Some thief must have broken in here at night.”  He looks back at all the bars on the building and the elaborate alarm system, shakes his head and snickers sadly.  “Yeah, right.”

Bert looks up at David and simply says, “Mr. Addison?”

David can still hear the siren in the distance.  He thinks about the old man and his twinkling eyes.  “Top priority, Bert.  Everything else gets put on hold.”

“Thank you both so much.  I’ll be at the hospital if you find out anything.”  He proceeds to set the alarm and lock up in preparation for leaving.  “You know the name of the store.  You’ll know her by her long legs, long black hair and high heels,” he says wistfully.  “Oh—and by the big rhinestone pin she always wears on her lapel.”

“We’ll be in touch.  Give our best to Uncle Angelo,” Bert calls out as he climbs into his car.

Act II
Scene One - Maddie and David’s Bedroom, That Night

David lies on the bed, waiting for Maddie to finish dressing for dinner with her parents.  He’s dressed in T-shirt and jeans, ready to go downstairs when Maddie’s parents return with take-out.  To keep himself occupied, he’s singing his version of a Christmas classic.

“It’s the most craziest time of the year.
With merchants all selling
And everyone yelling to get all their gear…”

Maddie exits the bathroom in an ivory silk camisole and wet hair.  He glances over at the clock, rolls his eyes behind her back and sings,

“And my love won’t be dressed ‘til next year!”

“I just need a couple more minutes, David.  Why don’t you go downstairs and watch some sporting event on TV.”

“I’d rather watch you.”

“Then, please stop singing.  And stop rolling your eyes.”

“I’m not,” he grins up at her.  As she’s walking back to her dressing area, he grabs her wrist and slowly pulls her to him on the bed.   She smiles at him slyly and says, “I knew I was taking a risk coming out here dressed like this.” 

“UNdressed, you mean.”  He kisses her palm, keeping a tight grip on her hand.

“I thought you were in a rush, David.”

“I’ve always got time to attend to your needs, Ms. Hayes.”  He pulls her closer.

“Oh right…my needs again.” He moves in for a kiss.  She pulls back and says, “My parents should be back with dinner any minute.”

“Then I guess we better hurry.”  He rolls her onto the bed on top of the suit he was wearing earlier and begins planting kisses around her neck.  She sighs, reaches to toss the jacket away and Bert’s catalogs fall out and land all around them.  Distractedly, she brushes them off her, rolls back onto David’s chest, and starts tugging at his T-shirt.  She stops when she finally registers what she’s seeing.  She looks at him uncertainly. “What are these for?”

He sits up anxious to explain.   “They’re Bert’s.”  She continues to stare.  “Really…Ok, you have to promise not to breathe a word of this to Agnes but you know how our boy Viola has been mooning around the office like he’s two boards shy of a floor lately—“

“I hadn’t really noticed anything different about him,” she says sarcastically.

“He’s proposing to Agnes.”

Maddie’s face lights up.  “Really?  That’s wonderful.”  She looks at the catalogs then back up at David suspiciously.  “But why do you have these?”

“Because Bert wanted me to toss them away here.  He didn’t want her to come across them at home or at the office.  He’s really got this thing about surprising her.”

Maddie starts leafing through one.  “So, what does the ring look like?”  She pulls herself to a cross-legged position in front of him.

“I don’t know. He didn’t show me.  Knowing Viola, it looks like that.”  He points to a one-carat diamond solitaire with a thin gold band.  “Remember, this is the guy that bought her the Winnie the Pooh polyester nightshirt for her birthday.”

“What’s wrong with that one?  I like it.”

“You WOULD like that one,” he teases her.

“What’s wrong with it?”

“Pretty boring, don’t you think?”

“No.  As a matter of fact, I think it’s beautiful, timeless and classic.”

“What did you say?”  he asks with disbelief.

“You heard me.”  He shakes his head like he’s clearing away some cobwebs, then lies back on the bed and looks up at the ceiling.  She frowns at him uncertainly.  “David?  Are you alright?”

He grins at her.  “I’m fine.”  She looks down at him, unsure of his expression, then brushes her hand along his hairline.  They both hear the front door slam downstairs.  “Well…I’d better get dressed.”  She begins to get up and go back into the dressing area, but he grabs her left hand and pulls her next to him on the bed.  He moves her damp hair away from her face and looks at her intently.  Her expression softens.  “You like cold Chinese, David?”

“I like you.”  He kisses her softly.  “I like this bed.”  Another kiss.  “What I don’t like is cold sheets.  Maybe we should warm them up before we eat.”  He kisses her more intensely this time.

“David...this feels a little weird.  With my parents right downstairs.”

“Really?  You don’t think they know we—“

“Of course they know!  And I don’t care that they know.  It’s just weird with them being right downstairs, or worse, what if they come up here?  They’re right next door in the guest room.”

“Yeah, kinda kinky,” David mumbles as he lifts her spaghetti strap and lets it fall off her shoulder. 

She cups her hand over his gently.  “And my dad wasn’t himself today.”

“Really?  Who was he?” he says distractedly.

“I don’t want to irritate him any more than he already is.”

David pulls back from her, uncertainty now in HIS face.  “Great.  I told you he doesn’t approve of our living arrangement.”

“Since when do you care what anyone thinks of our living arrangement? David, my parents adore you.”

“Yeah, he thinks I’m a slime ball for shacking up with you.”

“My father certainly doesn’t think you’re a slime ball.”

“Not just a slime ball.  A slime ball who’s sleeping with his daughter.  Without benefit of clergy.”

“I’m sure you’re jumping to conclusions.  And I’m way too old for my father to tell me how to live my life—” He starts to speak and she puts her finger to his lips.  “Uh uh!  No cracks about my age, Addison.”

Expecting some scurrilous remark she’s taken aback by his intense, serious expression.  Her smile begins to waver.  “You know how much I love you, Maddie…”

“I don’t doubt it,” she says casually.

“You know I’d—“

She cuts him off with a long, deep kiss.

He pulls away and breathlessly reminds her, “Maddie, your parents are downstairs,” she’s kissing his chest, “…. waiting for us.” 

She looks up at him seductively.  “Guess we better hurry…”

Scene Two – Early the next morning, the Addison/Hayes kitchen

David shuffles into the kitchen, scratching and yawning, his hair pointing in twenty different directions.  He stops scratching suddenly when he sees Alex Hayes sitting at the table in front of him.

“You’re up early, sir.”

“It’s a habit after all these years of getting up for work.  Can’t even sleep in when I’m on vacation.  Coffee?” He offers David a cup.

“Uh, sure,” David replies uncertainly.  “I just got up to let the dog out, but what the hell.”  Then he adds a little white lie.  “I don’t like to sleep late either.”  Alex’s surly reply confirms David’s reservations about this visit.  “No son.  Late is what you were to dinner last night.”

David’s Adam’s apple bobs up and down as he swallows a gulp of hot coffee, scalding his throat as it goes down.  “You know what I’m in the mood for?”  Maddie’s dad asks, with an otherworldly expression.  “Eggs Benedict.”

David chuckles.  “Not much chance of getting that here.  But we can take you out for breakfast.  Maddie knows all the restaurants that make great Eggs Benedict.”

“Well, not with my warden around.”  Then he adds in a mocking voice, “And with the sauce on the side.”  He explains to David, “Just be happy that Virginia won’t be at your house on Christmas Eve.  Instead of milk and cookies, she’d leave Santa a salad and a note explaining that he could stand to lose a few pounds.”

David relaxes a bit and laughs easily until Alex fixes his eyes on him again.  He takes a gulp of hot coffee and scalds his tongue this time.  Putting the cup down, spilling half of it, frustrated he says, “Mr. Hayes—“

Alex interrupts, “David, will you please stop calling me ‘Mr. Hayes’ and ‘sir’ all the time.  Please start calling me by my first name.”  David gives him that open-mouthed gape of his.  “You DO know it…”

“Yes sir.”  David laughs at himself and sighs.  “Yeah, of course…Alex.  I guess you’ve got me a bit nervous this visit.  I think you have more on your mind besides the two of us being on a first name basis.”

“Well, I think we should be.  We are practically family after all,” he says matter-of-factly as he takes a sip of coffee.

“We are?”

“Yes…” he fixes that stare on David once again.  “That is unless you and my daughter are planning extended separate vacations again.”

“No sir, uh Alex.  I don’t think we’ll do that again.”

“Good.  So tell me David,” Alex begins.

Here it comes, David thinks.

“I was just wondering, do you have a will?”

David hesitates for a moment, thinking he heard the man wrong.  “Excuse me?”

“A will.  You know, last will and testament—“

“I know what you mean.”  He mumbles to himself, “God, is everyone around me on a mortality binge lately?”

“So do you have one?”

His mind goes back to a scene he played with Maddie a few years back, where he gave her a bogus will filled with lewd suggestions for his last wishes.  “What?  You want me to die with a smile on my face, don’t you?” he had asked as she stormed out the door.  He smiles privately then clears his throat.  “Uh, no, not really.”

“Huh.  Don’t you think you should have one?”  David stares at him, confused.  “I mean in this risky business of yours—“

“Mr.—Alex, the business is doing great.  A few, well ok—a lot— of weird clients, especially last episode— but they mostly pay their bills.“

“I’m not talking about financial risk.  I’m talking about physical danger.”

David chuckles.  “What we do really isn’t all that dangerous.”

“Really.  How interesting.  You two moving in together…didn’t that crop up because of some old client carrying a grudge and burning down your place?  You don’t call that dangerous?”

“That was…an exception to the rule.  Besides I wasn’t in any danger, not really.”

“Uh huh.  What about Maddie’s BMW?  How did that get totaled again?”

Not wanting to rehash hitmen, the FBI and the Anselmo case, David says, “Alright, you’ve made your point.  I guess I need a will.”

“Good.  I’m sure you can use Maddie’s attorney.  He’s a good man, very competent.”  Alex takes another sip of coffee. Thinking out loud, he blurts out, “Maybe he’ll even give you a discount since—” Alex stops talking abruptly.

“Since what?”

“Since…you and Maddie are partners,” Alex says quickly.

David looks sharply at Maddie’s father.  “Is Maddie changing her will?  What for?”

“Damn! I think she’s excited to surprise you with the news.”

David looks perplexed.  He mumbles, “Yeah, that’s pretty exciting news.”

“You know Maddie.  It’s very important for her to have her life in order.   And I think YOU might be surprised when you find out who she wants to make her beneficiary.”  David’s cup stops halfway to his mouth and he looks at Alex Hayes pointedly. 

David puts down his cup and stares at Alex.  “That’s a big deal to her.”

Alex looks at David in a concerned, fatherly manner.  “You catch on fast, young man…You know, David, maybe I shouldn’t say this, but you may be coming to a time in your life when you need think twice before taking any unnecessary risks.   If something happened to you, other people could get hurt now.  You’re not on your own anymore.”

David stares ahead, deep in thought.  Alex takes this as a cue to continue.  “David…all I’m saying is Maddie loves you very much.  That’s why she’s doing this.”

“I just hate thinking about this stuff.”

“Everyone does.  But it’s a necessary step toward becoming a responsible…person.  And knowing that you feel the same way about it would be the best gift you could ever give her.  It will make her very happy.”

“That’s all I want.  To make her happy.”

Alex smiles at David, satisfied that he’s put things right.  “I’m glad to hear that…”

Scene Three - Late Morning, The Big Name Jewelry Store, an Upscale Shopping Destination

David and Bert saunter casually into a very busy and bright setting full of happy salespeople helping customers who are looking for last minute gifts.

“Wow, this place must do a booming business, sir.  Look at all their stock.  And I count one, two, three, four, five…no six sales clerks.”

“Bert when you stop practicing your numbers, make sure the recorder is on.”

“It’s on, Mr. Addison.”

A stunning tall woman with long dark hair approaches them.  As David looks for the rhinestone pin he sees she’s wearing a nametag which reads ‘Christa’.  He mumbles, “I guess telling us she wears a nametag would have been too easy.”

“May I help you gentlemen?” she smiles.

“Yes, you may.  We are looking for wedding bands,” David says.

“Right this way.  We have a very large selection.  Do you know what style you have in mind?”

“I guess we should look at them all,” Bert adds.

She walks them over to a counter with women’s rings where they spy one of Uncle Angelo’s designs right off.  “This one is very unusual.  Is this design unique to your store?” David asks, trying to get a reaction.  Bert steps in close to her, a little too close by her uneasy expression, to get her response on tape.

“Our store is part of a large chain so we have our own designers and access to a large inventory.  I believe this is one of our copyrighted designs.”  He eyes dart unconsciously over to a desk toward the back of the store.

Bert and David exchange a look.  “Copyrighted, boy I didn’t realize that jewelry stores did that.”

“Oh yes.  This is a very competitive business.  Our buyers are always on the look out for new innovative styles.  And when we find them we want to make sure they are exclusive.”

“Well this one is certainly innovative, don’t you think, Mr. Viola?”

“Definitely innovative.  All these in this case are VERY innovative.”

Christa looks at them strangely.  “Well…do you see anything that interests you?”

“Can you tell me who designed these?”

“Um…are you looking for a specific artist’s design or style?”

Just then a sleek black dog with a brown muzzle appears at her side.  Startled David and Bert both back up a step.  She smiles, pats her thigh and the dog leans into her to be scratched.

“Is he here to close the sale?”  David asks only half kidding.

“He’s our store security,”  Christa laughs, continuing to scratch the dog that stands with his tongue lolling out, looking up at her adoringly.  “Maybe you read about him in the newspaper.  He actually caught a robber in the act of a smash and grab. We find that Ammo here is the best deterrent to crime we’ve got.  Of course we have a safe and alarm system, but really.  Who needs complicated security systems with him around? And all we need to do is walk him and feed him twice a day.  Pretty low overhead if you ask me.”

David murmurs,  “A Doberman security guard.  How innovative…”

Cut to – Same Day and Time, Maddie’s office

Maddie sits behind her desk, staring into space.  Soft seasonal music plays in the background, in the hopes it will inspire her to come up with an innovative gift for David. 

The snow is snowing
The wind is blowing
But I can weather the storm
What do I care
How much it may storm
I’ve got my love to keep me warm…

She puts her head in her hands.  “Why is this so hard?  Come on, Maddie.  You’re a creative person.  THINK!”  Agnes knocks on her door and peaks inside.  “Ms. Hayes?  Do you have a minute?”

“Sure, Agnes.  Come in,”  Maddie sighs.  “We can go over those accounts now if you want.  Nothing else to do.”

Agnes sits down in front of her and gives her a long, hard look.  Maddie, feeling a little self-conscious, says, “These year-end reports are murder.  I guess this is the downside to the business doing so well this year.” 

Agnes isn’t buying it.  “Uh huh.  So…have you finished all your Christmas shopping?”

“Me?  Well…no not really.  What about you?”

“Oh yeah.  Months ago.  I’m always finished shopping by July so I can concentrate on baking and decorating and volunteering my time around the holidays.”

Maddie’s eyes widen.  “I’m impressed.  Actually I am finished too except for one impossible person.”

“One impossible Mr. Addison person?”

“Yep.  What do you get for the man who has…not a hell of a lot actually.  But he doesn’t seem to need anything either.  Maybe I’ll get him sheepskin seat covers for his new car.”

Agnes makes a face.  “What else is on your list?”

“Well, I don’t know.  He’s a terrible person to shop for,”  Maddie says, exasperated that her best idea made Agnes turn up her nose.  “I’ve been kicking around a few other ideas…like, well, at home we have this great stereo system.  I thought maybe one of those Greatest Hits compilation sets from some performer or group he really likes.  The only problem with that idea is that I’d have to listen to it too.  AND I’d have to listen to him singing to it in the shower every morning.”

Agnes leans forward and replies firmly, “I’m not crazy about that one either.”  Then she sits back and waits for Maddie’s next idea.

Frustrated, Maddie throws her arms up.  “Oh…I don’t know.”  She tries another one on her.  “Maybe something electronic.  You know how men love gadgets.  A camera!”

“He’s got two.”

“Oh yeah.  An…electric razor?”  she asks without much hope.

She continues to receive a blank stare until Agnes says,  “So, you haven’t gotten him anything huh?”

On the defensive, Maddie asks, “What did you get Mr. Viola?”


“If it’s too personal, forget it.”

“No, no, it’s not too personal.”  Agnes giggles.  “I’m just not sure he’s going to like it.  I mean it’s something he needs…something spiritual, soothing, but at the same time energizing and very disciplined, you know?”

“No…and maybe I don’t want to know,”  Maddie says uneasily.

“I enrolled him in my Kundalini Yoga class.”

Picturing Herbert Viola in a leotard getting into all those impossible positions, Maddie smiles.  “A yoga class, huh.  Well, that’s certainly something different.”

Agnes giggles again.  “Yeah, I put a lot of thought into it.  I think he’ll enjoy it once he opens his mind to the idea.  It’s done wonders for my psyche.  Not to mention my chakras.”

“Of course,”  Maddie nods, amused.

“And of course, there’s that whole tantric sex thing,”  Agnes adds nonchalantly.

“I beg your pardon?”

Agnes smiles an enigmatic smile.  “Well, I’d better get back to my desk.  No one else likes to answer the phones.”

“Agnes?  Did you come in here for something?”

“Oh yeah!  The bank called.  They need that key back.  You know to the safety deposit box you closed?  They said Mr. Addison said he’d bring it in yesterday.”  She shrugs.  “But he never showed.  They’re getting a little cranky about it.  Do you know where it is?”

“Me? No…”  she starts rifling through her desk drawers.  “I don’t have any keys.”

“Well, they were pretty insistent that they get it back ASAP.  Should we search his office?”

“I don’t feel really comfortable doing that Agnes.”

“Yeah, me either.  Not really.  It seems every time we’ve done that in the past we’ve found something we didn’t want to find.”  Agnes wrinkles her nose disgustedly.

Maddie agrees.  “That’s for sure.  But…then again… I’d hate to see him get in trouble with the bank.  Have to pay a fine or something.”

“That’s true too.”  Agnes nods slowly.
They look at each other for a few moments, seemingly communicating without words.  They both get up simultaneously.  “I guess it’s ok,” Maddie says. 

“I’m sure he won’t mind.”  Agnes adds. 

The next thing we see is Maddie opening David’s office door tentatively and the both of them walking inside.  They look around.  They go over to the desk and open some drawers.  Maddie pulls out a magnifying glass, holds it up repugnantly but finds no questionable reading material along with it.  Agnes giggles as she pulls out a Victoria’s Secret catalog from another drawer.  Maddie looks at her knowingly, then finds the same Sharper Image catalog she had in her office. 

“I guess he’s been catalog shopping,” Agnes says.  Maddie rolls her eyes as Agnes gets up and crosses the room toward the bookcases.  She doesn’t take much notice of Agnes as she pulls out the center drawer and comes up with a lone key.  “Agnes!  I think I found it.”  No response.  “Agnes?”  She looks up and sees Agnes standing across the room in front of David’s open refrigerator door, her hand holding out a small black box, opened to reveal a diamond solitaire ring in a thin gold band.

She looks at Agnes, who looks dumbfounded.  She says, “No!  That’s not mine.  That’s for—“  she stops herself from ruining Bert’s surprise then realizes the ring is the same one she picked out of the catalog.  She shakes her head in disbelief.  “No…David wouldn’t…”

Agnes runs over to her and grabs Maddie in a death grip.  “Oh Ms. Hayes!  I’m so happy for you!”

Scene Four – David’s Office, Sometime Later

Maddie and Agnes sit next to each other on David’s leather couch.  Agnes is grinning broadly; Maddie is staring straight ahead, a blank expression on her face.  Agnes starts babbling.  “I put it back exactly where I found it.  He’ll never know.”

“Uh huh,”  Maddie responds.

“I’m so jealous.”  She heaves a heavy sigh.  “I’m dying for Herbert to prove to me that he’s more than an overgrown adolescent with no romance in his soul...I bet he asks you Christmas night.”

“And what will I say?”  Maddie mumbles to herself.

“You mean you wouldn’t say yes?” Agnes asks, stunned.

“I’m…just…I’m happy with things as they are, that’s all.”  Then she snaps out of her stupor.  “Why can’t that man ever just leave well-enough alone?”  She answers her own question.  “Because he’s David Addison, that’s why.  He can never just leave well-enough alone.”  Still staring straight ahead, her eyes narrow,  “I wonder if my father had something to do with this…”

Cut to:

Bert and David sitting outside the Big Name Jewelry store in Bert’s car.  It appears they have been sitting for some time.  Bert’s five o’clock shadow is becoming evident and he’s fidgeting like a bored child.  David stares intently at the store across the street.  “Why can’t we leave well-enough alone sir?  Isn’t it obvious after five hours of casing this joint that she’s going to be in there ‘til closing time?  Which is…” he puts a pair of binoculars to his eyes, “Nine o’clock! Christmas hours.  I hate that.”

“Cool your jets, Bert. You want to help Angelo, right?”

“Yes sir, but they’re having a Christmas party or something in there.  They had a catering truck show up and everything.  I think we should call it a day.”

“Maybe you’re right, Bert.”

“I am?”

“Yeah…maybe we should come back after they close.  I’ve got to get a look in that desk she kept staring at.”

“Sir?  Are you talking about breaking and entering?”

“We don’t call it breaking and entering Mr. Viola.  We call it a fact-gathering mission.”

“I’d prefer to do my fact-gathering during business hours, Mr. Addison, without having to worry about alarms and watch dogs—and the cops!”

“Don’t worry Bert.  I have a foolproof plan.  So, speaking of plans, got any tonight that can’t be changed?”

“The Grinch is on, Mr. Addison,” Bert protests.  Seeing David’s serious expression he says, “Oh, all right…I guess I can have Agnes tape it.”

“Good.  Now we just have to stop by the office for a change of clothes.  Remember we’re doing this for Uncle Angelo.”

Unconvinced, Bert mutters, “Yes sir.”
Cut to:

Late Afternoon, David’s office.

David walks in and drops a small silver gift bag on top of his desk.  He has a satisfied smile on his face as he opens the box and looks at the earrings. 

Bert enters after calling the hospital.  He looks gravely at David.  “Still no change, sir.  He’s still in a coma.”

David shakes his head.  “Too bad.  I really like that old guy.  There’s something about him…”

Still trying to weasel out of the night’s plan, Bert says, “Maybe we can get the police to issue a warrant for her bank account.  If—“

“No way.  She’s not even close to warrant material.  Not even with MY excellent connections.  And unfortunately in America we can’t have people arrested because they LOOK guilty.”

There’s a knock at his door and Agnes pokes her head inside happily.  “Hey…there you are.  What are you cooking up in here?”

“Not a thing, Ms. DiPesto.”  David quietly slips Maddie’s gift into his desk drawer.

“Really.”  She dawdles in the doorway.  “So…how was your day?”


“What did you do all day?”

“Oh…we got some stuff done.  Your—Mr. Viola and I are working on a new case.”

“Uh huh.  That’s good.  Especially this time of year…a lot of expenses.”  She looks at David and smiles mysteriously.  “Ms. Hayes had to go do something.  She wanted me to remind you that you have a date tonight.”  David looks at her blankly.  “The Nutcracker?  With her parents?“
Bert sits up hopefully.

David grimaces. “Oh yeah.  Ugh…Agnes?”

 “Something suddenly came up, Mr. Addison?”  Agnes asks.  Bert sinks back down.

“Yeah.  And Agnes?”

“Yes, Mr. Addison?”

“Could you call Maddie’s attorney in the morning and get me an appointment with him?”

“Ok…sure.  She also wants you to call your brother and invite him to the Christmas party.”

“Ah, do I have to?  He doesn’t work here.  Why would he want to come to our company Christmas party?”

“She says, and I quote:  ‘He’s all alone this year.  Amy’s not coming home.  I feel sorry for him and I don’t want to see him spending Christmas all alone.’  Unquote.”

“He’ll spend the whole party moping.  He’ll ruin all the fun.  Although with Maddie planning the party there probably won’t be much fun to ruin.”  Agnes gives him a disapproving frown.  “Oh, I’m kidding. Especially if she took my advice and booked the band I suggested.  You know, The Screaming Balloon Puppies.”

Agnes deadpans, “Yeah, that could happen.”

“Oh, and Agnes?  I hope you don’t mind if I steal your fi—Bert tonight.  We have stake out duty.”

She holds up her hand to Bert.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll tape the Grinch.”

“Hope Maddie’s not too unhappy that I’ll be missing the Nutcracker.”

“She doesn’t know what she is,”  Agnes says cryptically.  She scrutinizes them both, then leaves.

David leans back in his chair with a wince of pain.  “I wish you had more comfortable car seats, Bert.”  Bert nods.  “Boy, Agnes is acting weird.”

“Yeah, yesterday, she hated me, today she—SHE KNOWS!  Oh man, how did she find out?”  Bert stands up and opens the refrigerator.  “Well, it doesn’t look like it’s been touched.  Maybe it’s ok.  Maybe she doesn’t know.  Maybe I’m being paranoid.”

“Maybe we better forget about it for now and focus on our case.  Go change into something black…”

Scene One - Total darkness…

Only the whomping sound of something heavy moving along metal sheeting.  A match is struck and we see David’s face illuminated in the tight square of an airshaft.  “This scene feels vaguely familiar to me…”   He stops suddenly and looks around.  “Ow,” Bert whispers as his nose meets the sole of David’s shoe.  “Watch where you’re going back there,”  David whispers back.

“I can’t watch anything, sir.  It’s pitch black in here.  Aren’t we there yet?”

“Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  No treats for you on the ride home, Viola,” David snaps back irritably.  “We must be getting close.  I think I hear that dog growling at us.”  A few more twists and he reaches the end of the tunnel, pushes out the grate and is greeted by the same docile dog from this afternoon, only now it is barking, jumping and looking eager to bite.

“Are you sure the sleeping pills will work, Mr. Addison?”

“They worked on me a few episodes ago and I weigh twice as much as that dog.”  David throws down a raw meatball with a pill in the middle.  He watches the Doberman hungrily gobble it up.  “Can you believe a place like this, all these jewels laying around and they don’t even have a decent alarm system?  We disarmed that thing in what?  Five minutes?”

“Well, I’m sure all the jewels are securely put away in a safe, sir. Plus she said the dog was very  effective...  And I’m afraid I believe her,” Bert says from behind.

“I know what she said, but I still can’t believe they don’t even have a security guard.  This should be a piece of cake once Ammo starts chasing rabbits.  Then we’ll have the whole night to search this joint.”

“Yes sir…”  Bert from behind again, still not convinced.

David looks up at a clock on the wall.  We see the hands revolve quickly as an hour passes.  David still sits in the air shaft opening, his chin in his hand.  Bert snores behind him.  David looks down at the dog for perhaps the hundredth time and sees its eyes are finally closed.  He perks up and calls down, “Ammo!  Hey, Ammo.  Bert’s got a  big meaty thigh right up here…” No response from the dog.   He then whispers over his shoulder.  “Bert!  It’s time!  Bert!  Wake up Bert.”  He kicks him.  “Ow!  Sir, that was totally unnecessary!”

“Come on.  The dog’s asleep but I don’t know for how long.”  He turns on a flashlight and shines it on the dog and around the room.  “Let’s head for the desk.”  Excitedly, he jumps down onto the floor and as soon as he does, alarms blare and ruby/sapphire lights flash all over the store.  He stands there, stupefied.  Bert, suddenly very awake, starts wriggling backwards.

“Two alarm systems…God, I hate it when they do that.”

Cut to: Same Evening, At the Ballet

Maddie sits next to her mother in a dark theater.  Onstage, Clara dances with the Nutcracker Prince.  Maddie, dressed in a simple black crepe suit, looks elegant and rapt in the performance.  In reality her mind is reeling.  She squirms in her seat, suddenly uncomfortable and perspiring, her clothing chafing.  He lied when he said those were Mr. Viola’s catalogs.  He was just trying to see what ring I liked.  What a sneaky—she shifts uncomfortably in her seat.  Why does he have to complicate things…she fidgets some more.  She removes a handkerchief from her evening bag and dabs at her neck and forehead.

Marrying David…It’s not exactly a new concept…and I could do worse…She recalls a night spent dancing in a Laundromat.  This makes her smile and relax until another memory squeezes that one out: David, severely hung over, hanging off the hook on her office door.  She sighs loudly.  And I could definitely do BETTER…She frowns, twists in her chair again.

Her mother softly touches her arm, making her jump. “Are you feeling alright, dear?”

“I’m fine, Mom.”  She makes a concerted attempt to sit still and concentrate on the performance in front of her, but her mind continues to drift.  Her expression solemn as she stares straight ahead, she nods without realizing.  But…that’s ancient history.

Another round of random thoughts hits her.  The relief that washed over her the first time she saw him after his apartment fire…the way he can make her feel and react just with a look, a touch…Or that stupid smirk of his…She smiles a small, very private smile.  Yes, Maddie.  You could certainly do worse…

A satisfied, resigned look crosses her face.  She sighs and carefully dabs at her eyes.  She feels her mother’s soft touch again.  “Maddie?”

She whispers, “I think I have an eyelash in my eye.  I’m going to the ladies room.”  As she rises up from her chair an usher shines a small flashlight in her eyes.  “Ma’am?  Would you come with me please?  There’s a message for you…”

Cut to: The L.A. County Jail Lock-up.

Maddie walks down a row of cells in her evening attire, receiving the clamorous vocal attention of every male in the place.  She ignores the catcalls, a stern expression on her face, looking for we know whom.  She stops when she sees him sitting at the back of a crowded cell, dressed all in black, looking like he wants to disappear.

She is getting ready to yell over to him when her view is blocked by a huge, burly biker type, his fat cheeks stuffed through the bars.  He smiles at her with big, ugly teeth.  “Hey mama, when I make bail, want a ride on my hog?”

“As lovely as that sounds, I’m here to bail out Johnny Cash over there.”  She yells to the back of the cell, “Addison!”  David sheepishly walks up to her, Bert close on his heels.

He taps the biker on the shoulder and says, “Excuse me but the cast of Road Warrior is meeting over there.  This is MY mama.”  The dude snarls at him, then at Bert and walks away.

“I see tonight’s headache is coming in a matched set of idiots.”

“Hey mama.”

“Don’t mama me.”

“Look Maddie.  I can explain.  You see there’s this sweet old man, and I don’t know, there’s just something about him.”

“He’s really sweet, Ms. Hayes,”  Bert presses his face against the bars.

“What the hell were you two thinking David?  And what the hell were you doing trying to rob a jewelry store?”

Bert says,  “We weren’t robbing it Ms. Hayes.  We were uh…on a fact-gathering mission.”

“Don’t help, Bert,” David shushes him.

She looks from one to the other.  “So this is about your new case?  How could you take such a foolish risk?”  She crosses her arms in front of her.  “A good investigator doesn’t have to stoop to illegal activities to solve a case, David.”

“Since when?” he shoots back, a little annoyed by her holier-than-thou attitude.  “You’ve committed a few ‘illegal activities’ in your day, Ms. Hayes, in the name of solving a case.”

She continues to glare at him, waiting for further explanation. Receiving none, she says, “And you’re doing a bang-up job, I might add.”

“Looks like we’ve earned a trip to the principal’s office, Bert.”

“Your glib attitude is not helping things either David.  Whatever is going on here, you had better handle it and handle it fast.  The next trip to jail you make, I may just leave you both here to rot.  Do you have any idea how humiliated I am?  I had to get up and leave the performance in the middle of the first act to go bail my PARTNER out of jail.  I can’t believe you did this.”

“Seems like old times, eh, Maddie?”

She makes an exasperated sound, turns around and blows out of the jail, almost knocking over the officer who is trying to let David and Bert out.  The inmates whistle and yell as she leaves.

As the officer shakes his head and opens the cell door for them, Bert says in amazement, “I didn’t think Ms. Hayes knew gestures like that, Mr. Addison.”  David quips, “Oh well.  If we’re convicted I hear those new inmate jumpsuits are very slimming…”

Cut to:  The Hayes/Addison home.

Maddie storms through the front door, leaving it wide-open, throws off her jacket and proceeds to stomp up the stairs.  David walks in slowly behind her, closes the door gently and places the keys on a table by the door.  He yells up to her, “Come on, Maddie.  Hasn’t this silent treatment gone on long enough?”

“Not even close!”  she yells down from the bedroom followed by the slam of the door.  He flinches then mumbles, “Well, that’s progress.  At least she’s talking to me.” 

He hears a door open and looks up the stairs, hopeful that Maddie has reconsidered.  But the shadow outlined in the darkness is not Maddie.  “About tonight, Alex. I don’t know what I was thinking.  You see there’s this little old guy…” he begins.

The man huffs, turns and walks back into his bedroom.  David looks down at Miss Me wagging her tail and looking up at him like he can do no wrong.  “Looks like it’s you and me tonight, girl.  How soft is that bed of yours anyway, ‘cause my back ain’t what it used to be…”

Scene Two – Martini’s Fine Jewelry, Late Morning, Christmas Eve

Bert and David stand at a counter talking to George.  “Thanks for all your hard work on this.  Sorry about all the trouble you’re in.  I’ll talk to the cops and tell them what happened.”  George tells them appreciatively.

“Don’t bother.  Unless you can get the store to drop the charges you can talk ‘til 1999 and it won’t help.  I just wish we’d been able to find something incriminating.”

“And I wish we hadn’t got caught,”  Bert adds.

“Goes without saying, Mr. V.”

The bell at the front door tinkles.  The three men turn around to see Christa standing in the doorway.  “I came by to see how you’re doing George.  How’s Angelo?”

David and Bert turn away and pretend to be looking in the jewelry cases.  George says nervously, “Um, still no improvement.”

“I’m so sorry.  I hate the idea of this happening right around Christmas.  I hope he’s going to be… alright.”  She glances over at David and Bert.  “I just wanted…to invite you…to the Christmas— hey wait a minute…You guys…yeah, you—turn around.”

Bert and David turn around slowly and her face lights up with recognition.  “These are the guys who tried to rob my store!  What are you doing here?  Casing another place?  I’m calling the cops, George.”

“No wait, Christa.  They work for me.”

“George, these men are thieves.  They came into my store to—what do you mean they work for you?”

“They’re detectives.  I hired them to well, to try to find out…”

“To try and find out how you stole all of Angelo’s designs,” David concludes.

“That’s ridiculous.  I didn’t steal anything from Angelo.  Why would I?”

“Let’s see…eau du cash?  Does it every time.”

She turns to George, incredulous.  “I can’t believe you would suspect me, George.  After everything we’ve meant to each other.  All the long romantic dinners, the walks on the beach…”

“…That never went anywhere else.  Especially not the bedroom.”  George’s epiphany comes about the same time David has one of his own.

“Nice pin.”  David points to the gaudy piece of jewelry on her lapel.

George’s voice rises.  “You totally used me!  You just wanted to check out the competition, but you sure as hell didn’t want me.”

“Yeah, not exactly my taste, but a very nice pin.”

“George, we’ve discussed this before.  I just don’t believe in premarital sex.”

“Wow, lady.  What are you doing living in LA?  You should be in Omaha.”  This from Bert.

Christa tries to ignore the both of them and concentrate on her beau.  “George, this is silly.  How—“

David turns to George.  “Does she always wear that pin when she comes in here?”

“Yes.  It’s her signature piece.  She wears it all the time.”

“She wasn’t wearing it the day we went into HER store,” Bert says.

“Of course I was.  I wear it every day.”  She rolls her eyes.

“No…that day it was some freeform thing.  Lots of twists and turns, no stones,” Bert says.

“Excellent observation skills, Mr. Viola.”

“Thank you, Mr. Addison.”

Totally exasperated, Christa stomps her foot and yells at David, “Why are you so interested in my jewelry anyway?  And why are you out of jail?”

“I have a vested interest in lady’s jewelry these days.  And we were bailed out,”  David tells her matter-of-factly.

“Well, there’s no justice in this world.  I’m serious, George, I’m calling the police.”

“Go ahead,” David shrugs indifferently.


“I said, go ahead.  You call the police, we’ll all wait right here and then I’ll show them that the pin you’re wearing is a camera.”

“A what?  Have you been drinking?”

“Eggnog.  Love the stuff.  But back to your pin.”  He pulls George over to get a closer look.  “See right there?”  He points to a large rhinestone in the middle of the piece.  “That’s actually a little camera lens.  All she has to do is touch it somewhere and pop goes the Polaroid.”

“I am such a fool,” George murmurs.

“Hey, don’t be so hard on yourself.  Being a fool for love is practically a national pastime,” David tells him, nudging Bert.

“Well, I’ll be damned, sir.  How did you know that?” Bert asks, awed by his boss as always.

“Sharper Image sells one in their catalog.  I guess it’s supposed to make people feel like James Bond.  But it must work great for a little industrial espionage every now and then.”

“This is the most ludicrous accusation I’ve ever heard.  I’m leaving, George.”

David steps in front of her to block her path.  “Not so fast.  We haven’t given you your Christmas gift yet.  Solid gold handcuffs.”

“I’m calling the police.”  George goes for the phone.

Scene Three – Maddie’s Office, late afternoon, still Christmas Eve

Maddie sits behind her desk, finally getting to the year-end paperwork that she has supposedly been working on for the last week.  There is a knock at her door.  “Come in,” she yells impatiently.

David saunters in wearing a smirk and a Santa hat.  “The halls are decked.  The chestnuts are roasting.  The merry gentlemen are resting.  And everyone is dreaming of a white Christmas.  But this is LA, so dreaming is about as far as it will go.  So…since it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—”

“Please stop!”

“I’ll stop when you, you beautiful ice queen you, forgive me and melt into my arms.”  He holds up a sprig of mistletoe.

She favors him with a small smile and a sly look.  “Come here, Santa.”  She stands up as he reaches her chair.  They stand nose to nose, neither one moving in any further.  Maddie looks up over her head.  He moves the mistletoe over the space between them.  Only then do her lips part and her eyes close.  She wraps her arms around his neck and plants a long, deep, passionate kiss on his mouth, which he returns happily.  He holds her and whispers in her ear, “I think you’re all thawed out, Ms. Hayes.”

“There’s more where that came from.  Much more…if you can manage to stay out of jail long enough.”  She leans back to look in his face.  “I got a call from a Mr. George Martini a while ago.  He explained a few things to me.  Told me you solved his case.  Told me how wonderful he thinks you and our Mr. Viola are for putting it all on the line for his grandfather.”

“Uncle Angelo.  You gotta meet this guy, Maddie.  He’s got this uncanny ability to, uh, oh never mind, you wouldn’t believe it.”

She looks at him lovingly for the first time in two days, making him lose his train of thought.  “He said something…about the color of your eyes…”

“Did he mention my father’s eyes?  He was still seeing red as they were boarding the plane this morning.”

“Oh God.  Your dad. I guess I didn’t make any points with him this visit.”

“Probably not.  But my mother loves you.  She’ll smooth things over.  Besides, my dad likes you too.  There’s just that whole ‘sleeping with his daughter’ thing.” 

He looks deeply into her eyes as he runs a finger down her face. “I’ll try to remember that when your parents are here it’s the wrong time to commit a felony.”

“David, my father is the least of your worries.   You and Mr. Viola are in serious legal trouble.”

“Maddie, the charges have been dropped.  I told the cops I was working undercover for the SPCA to check on the welfare of a poor defenseless animal.”  She shoots him a look like yeah right.  “AND our client made a few legal threats of his own about patents (a kiss on her throat), and theft (another kiss) and bad publicity.  So your jailbird is now a free bird again.”

“Are you ever planning on telling me the whole story behind this?”

“Yes, especially about—“

“The sweet old guy?”

“Well, yeah.  But not now.  Right now I’m taking you to the dull, boring Christmas party you planned.”

“Is it time already?” she looks at her watch then realizes the full content of what he just said.  “Hey…after last year’s fiasco that YOU planned, I think the employees will welcome a subdued, elegant affair.”  There is a cheer from outside her door.  “See?” she grins.

They rush to her door just in time to see Herbert Viola going down on one knee in front of Agnes’ desk.  All the employees are circled around him.  “Oh my God,”  David moans.

Agnes has her hand up to her mouth, looking down at Bert.  “My dear, sweet Agnes, you hold the key to my heart.  You are the love of my life, the light in my soul, my reason for being…”

David grumbles, “He’s going to burst into song, I just know it.”
“Shhhhhhh”  Maddie hushes him.

“…Please do me the honor of becoming my wife, my partner in spirit, my eternal co-worker so we can journey together where ever life takes us…”

Agnes tries to interrupt him.  “I—“

“I promise to never place you in a subservient role coerced by unrealistic conceptions of femininity.”  He stands up and spreads his arms wide.  “And I swear that all who enter our orbit—“


“Will know and understand that we are one being, one essence, one mind—“


He stops suddenly, startled, “Yes, my love?”

“Ok, I’ll marry you.  Just shut up already.”

There is another collective cheer as Bert takes out the ring and slips it on her finger.  She holds it out in front of her and smiles.  

Agnes runs up to Maddie holding out her hand.  “Oh, Ms. Hayes, the ring was for me.  Mr. Addison, look!  Isn’t it beautiful?”

They look down at her hand and admire her simple one-carat diamond solitaire in a thin gold band.  David kisses Agnes on the cheek and says, “It’s beautiful, timeless and classic.  Just like you, Agnes.”  They share a three-way hug until all the other women start grabbing her hand to get a better look.

David pulls Bert aside and shakes his hand.  “Congratulations, Mr. Viola.  You got a great girl, there.”

“Yes sir.”

“But what happened to the roaring fire, just the two of you, yada yada.”

“I don’t know…It was kinda spontaneous, sir.”

“Spontaneous, eh?” David looks around the room for Maddie and can’t find her.


“What is it, Bert?  Want a do-over on the proposal?”

“No sir.”  Bert looks down at his shoes.  “I got a phone call a few minutes ago.  I guess it’s what prompted me not to wait…you just never know…”

David suddenly looks worried.  “Uncle Angelo?”

Bert nods.  “Uncle Angelo passed away this morning, peacefully in his sleep.”

“Jeez, I’m sorry Bert.  I know how you felt about him.  I only met him that one time…but I thought he was a great guy too.”  He puts his arm around Bert.  “I’m really sorry.”

“Yeah, me too.”
As Bert is spirited away by Agnes, David looks out the window sadly.  He looks around for Maddie again and realizes she must be back in her office.  He walks in there quietly and shuts the door, hears her talking on the phone, her back to him.

“Wally really said that?  Oh Walter, I hope you wrote that down…How’s Terry feeling?”  She turns toward the window and looks down at her lap.  She smiles knowingly and continues with a hint of sadness in her voice.  “Yes, it’s pretty horrible at first, but it gets better…Well, give her my love, or MY-lanta, whatever works.”  She giggles at her little pun and sees David standing against the door, attempting not to eavesdrop.  She beckons him in while she continues to talk.  “Me?  All I want for Christmas is a few days of peace and quiet…They’re on a plane to Hawaii as we speak, thank God…”  She smiles at David.  “Ok, Walter. Let’s get together soon…Merry Christmas to you too…Bye.”

“Hey Goldilocks.  Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Sure.  But we’re going to be late to the restaurant so make it fast.”

“Nice ring, huh.”

“Nice.  And just like the one I picked, if you recall,”  she gives him a smug smile.

“I recall…She looks happy, huh.”

“Yes, very happy.”

“You don’t look so happy…Maddie, are you upset about something?  Look, I swear, the gift I bought you is NOT something crotchless.” 

She shoots him a disgusted look.  “Upset?  About what?”

“I’m just saying…Agnes got an engagement ring in her stocking…”

“Yes, she did.  And I’m happy for her.  Would you make your point please?”

“Well, I’m just wondering…are you a little—maybe just a little—upset that you…”

“Is that what you think?  You think I wanted an engagement ring?  Me?  From you?”

“Well, did ya?”

“Of course not.  I’m very happy with our relationship as it stands, David.”

“You sure?”

“Sure I’m sure.  Now could we please round everyone up so we can head over to the restaurant?”

“Sure.  But I just want you to know—“

“I know, David.  I know.”

She takes his arm and leads him outside.

Scene Four- In Front of the Addison/Hayes Home, Inside Maddie’s Lexus

David and Maddie have just pulled in the driveway after the Christmas party.  David shakes his head and chuckles.  “Somebody should have warned Agnes about geeks bearing gifts.  That Viola, what a fruitcake.  Couldn’t even wait to pop the question until they were alone.  What if she’d said no?”

“He must have been pretty confident what her answer would be.  And I thought he was cute.”

He turns to look at her.  “Cute?”

“Asking her to marry him in front of everyone like that.  It’s like we were all a part of the beginning of their new life.  It was just sentimental and romantic.”  She shrugs.  “I liked it.   And the look on her face…she was so surprised.  She thought that ring was for—”  She grabs the car door handle and climbs out of the car, heading for the house.

“For what?  She knew about the ring?”  he runs after her.

“She found it.”

“Damn, that girl really does have radar.  Remind me to take home those movies we made…”  He winces as she pokes him in the stomach.  “Hey wait.  Who did she think the ring was for?”


“Ohhh.  And what would you have said if I’d proposed to you in front of the whole staff?”

“I would have asked for a Breathalyzer test.”

He plugs in the Christmas tree and sits on the sofa. She walks over to the stereo, turns on some soft music then joins him, putting her head on his shoulder as they both gaze at the lights.

This time of year
I’d like to remember
The gifts of cheer
To put under the tree
Sharing the things
That make a December
Here is my list for you just from me

All I want for Christmas
Are friends that sparkle
And snow that’s light on the ground
Children with frost in their hair
Presents around everywhere
I hope you don’t think that I’m square
Just because I’ve seen Santa…

“Hey, really, are you upset about something?” he asks her after a few silent minutes.

She looks at her watch.  “It’s after midnight. Feel like opening a present?”

“Only one?  Ah come on, Mom.  I promise I’ll go to bed if you let me open them all…as long as you come with me.”

“I’ll ignore the fact that you called me mom and asked me to go to bed with you in the same sentence and let you open…let’s see.  Here it is.”

He takes a long thin box from her and shakes it violently.  “Hey!  Don’t break it!”  she scolds.

“So…it’s breakable.  A big clue.”  He puts the box up to his ear and shakes it some more.

“Is this going to take awhile?  Because if it is I’m going to take the dog for a walk.”

“Ok, ok.”  He rips off the wrapping paper; pulls out something wrapped in tissue paper.  He unwraps that and comes up with a large, ornate, antique looking magnifying glass.  David looks at it puzzled, not knowing what to say for once in his life.

Maddie tries to explain.  “I’ve seen one of these rattling around in your drawers—“

“I love it when you rattle around in my drawers Ms. Hayes.  But…I’m sorry.  I don’t get it.”

“It’s an old movie prop.  From the Thin Man movies.  Remember?  William Powell, Myrna Loy?  Nick and Nora Charles?”  He continues to give her a blank stare.  “I thought you’d get the parallel…between you and me being detectives, Nick and Nora?  Oh never mind.  It was a dumb gift.”

“No it wasn’t.  I’ve just never seen those movies.  We’ll have to watch them together.  I think it’s really sweet, Maddie, and you obviously gave it a lot of thought.  I love it; thank you,” he says graciously and kisses her cheek.  As he puts it back in the box gingerly he says, “Hey those movies aren’t in black and white are they?”

Maddie rolls her eyes.  He grins at her, then suddenly panics.  “Your gift!  I left it in my desk!  All I have for you is the one…well, it was your dad’s idea.  When he was still speaking to me.”  He hands her a scrolled piece of paper tied with a ribbon.  Her expression changes to excitement as she starts thinking, Ooh! Plane tickets?  A Hawaiian vacation?  She rolls the ribbon off and opens up the scroll. He’s grinning like a little kid.  She reads aloud:  “Last Will and Testament…David?  You got me a will for Christmas?”

“It’s pretty short and sweet.  I bequeath all my worldly goods such as they are to a certain blonde with… cornflower!  That’s the color of your eyes.  Thanks Uncle Angelo.”  He looks up at the ceiling.

“David, I don’t know what to say.  Thank you?” 

He reads her disappointment.  “Your dad told me you were changing your will.  He said—

“My father…  David, I was only THINKING of changing it.  It wasn’t that big of a deal.  Boy, I’m going to have to have a talk with him…”

“I guess your dad doesn’t know you as well as he thinks he does.   Well, we’re two for two, Blondie.  Wanna try for a home run?”

She answers him with a kiss; a long languid kiss that seems to go on forever as they roll back onto the sofa cushions.  Maddie hears something crunch beneath her.  She moves her hand under her and comes up with a small silver gift bag.  “What the?  How did that get there?”  David whispers in amazement.  Maddie gives him a sly smile.  “Left it in your desk, huh?”

He looks around nervously stammering, “I thought…maybe I…”

“Oh David…” he hears her gasp.  As he turns he sees Maddie holding up a blue diamond tennis bracelet.  She looks like she might cry.  “This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

David looks around the room uncertainly, like he’s expecting to see the ghost of Christmas past.  “So…uh, you like it?  You’re not disappointed?”

“David, how could I be disappointed with THIS?  It’s incredible, much better than what the girls at the office were thinking.”  She wrinkles her nose.  “Earrings… but this.  Oh David…”

“You said that already.”

“I’ve got an idea.  Why don’t you go upstairs and get comfortable.  I’ll let the dog out.  Then we can sit by the fire, drink some champagne and look at this magnificent thing all night.”

He takes her face in his hands.  “Hey, just remember, this is not the most magnificent thing in the room.  That title always belongs to you.”

He kisses her softly, gets up off the sofa. She watches him walk upstairs.


David walks back downstairs a few minutes later, dressed comfortably in a black holey T-shirt and gray sweats.  All the lights are off in the living room.  “Hey Maddie…”  he squints into the darkness.  “Maddie?”  He walks toward the sofa, steps on something and picks it up.  It’s Maddie blouse.  He raises an eyebrow and looks toward the kitchen.  Just inside that door is the skirt she was wearing a few minutes before.  He finds a bra draped over the door to the outside.  He continues to follow a trail of clothing to a secluded part of the patio in the backyard.  There he finds Maddie relaxing in a Jacuzzi spa, her head back, eyes closed, arms spread wide along the rim, wearing only her new bracelet.  She lifts her head and tells him, “Merry Christmas, Nick.”

“Hey Nora, which one is my present?  You or the tub?”


“Hot damn.”  He peels off his sweats in record time and climbs in, facing her.  “You know, this would be an excellent advertising tool.  Beautiful woman free with tub.”  He starts nibbling her neck, but she pushes him away gently.

“You know what people do in these things, right, Maddie?” he asks.

“It’s therapeutic, stupid.  For your back.”  She turns him around so he can feel the jets on the small of his back.

“Mmmm, it sure is.”  Before he gets too relaxed, she is inching toward him.

She moves onto his lap and pulls his face close to hers. 

“I love my present, David.  I love you too.  I couldn’t be happier.”

“Me either.  And this tub…”  he utters a very satisfied moan, “You’re always so good at attending to my needs.”

“Wait 'til I give you your stocking stuffer,”  she says in a husky voice.  He grins an evil grin.  “Merry Christmas, David.”

“Merry Christmas, David, is right…”

…All I want for Christmas
Are people smiling
And love to go all around
And if I might insist
I’d like to make one wish
May I share this Christmas with you…

I think we better fade to black now ... well red and green.
Have Yourselves a Merry Blue Moon Christmas!


I Have My Love to Keep Me Warm        Billy Ekstein and Sarah Vaughn
All I Want for Christmas                           Ray Charles
I want to thank Lizzie and Diane for not disowning me…yet.  And as always, for their support and inspiration. 

We’re taking a little holiday break, but we’ll be back!

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