Mart Belden cringed before his
“I don’t care what it takes, Mart!”
Brian raged. “I don’t care what you have to do! Just fix this!”
“I will,” Mart promised. “I swear,
I will!” With that he turned and fled out the door of his on-campus
Honey Wheeler glanced around at the
friends left in the room. “Were we too hard on him?”
“Oh hell no!” cried Diana
Lynch, Mart’s girlfriend. “Do you want to have to live with Trixie
if she and Jim break up over this?”
Honey didn’t even have to consider
her response. “No! No, I don’t.”
“And I don’t want to have to live
with Jim if they break up,” Brian said fervently. “Mart and his
damned April Fools pranks have just gone too far this time.”
Dan Mangan sat quietly in his
favorite chair in the living room of the apartment he shared with
Mart. “Guys, there is something we have to consider. If Jim and
Trixie could break up over something like this, maybe their
relationship isn’t as strong as it should be.”
Brian sighed and ran a frustrated
hand through his dark, wavy hair. “I agree. But I also think
friends and family should be nudging them in directions that
strengthen their relationship, rather than ripping it apart at the
Honey nodded, agreeing with her
boyfriend. “They’re both insecure. They don’t see how much they
love each other. That’s no reason to put a wedge between them.”
Di frowned. “Actually, I’d like to
see them get past this obstacle all on their own. But Mart deserves
to grovel and squirm, and he certainly owes them both a huge
“I’ll drink to that,” Dan said,
getting up and going to the fridge. “Anyone else want something?”
Trixie Belden sat at the window of
the dorm suite she shared with her two best friends, Honey and Di.
She was glad neither girl was home right now, because she preferred
to wallow in her misery alone.
She had made such a fool of herself
in front of her boyfriend, Jim Frayne. She had been chatting with
her friend Steve, a guy Jim had repeatedly warned her was too
interested in her, in the school cafeteria. Jim had walked into the
room, and was immediately greeted with a big hug and kiss by Dawn, a
Barbie-doll type who had been after Jim for years. Trixie had
looked up to see Dawn’s greeting, just as Steve wrapped his arm
around her shoulder and leaned over to kiss her.
Trixie and Jim, both victims of
volatile, hot-heated tempers, had each flown into a jealous rage.
The vicious scene that had proceeded to play out in front of the
whole school was one Trixie wished she could forget.
The worst part was that, when she
had calmed down and was replaying the scene over and over in her
mind, it was just too easy to see what had really happened. While
she and Jim had been raging, and Dawn and Steve had looked guilty,
and their many friends had looked shocked, her stupid brother had
had a smug smirk on his face.
Mart and his stupid April Fools
jokes. He had victimized her so many times in her life, she should
have known better. Nothing should be taken at face value on April 1st
if her brother was anywhere nearby.
But no, she hadn’t stopped to
think. She had simply flown off the handle and acted like a
Jim must surely hate her by now.
How was she ever going to make this up to him? Had she finally lost
the best thing that had ever happened to her?
When the knock on the door came,
she was still deep in her brooding. She barely roused herself
enough to cross the room, let alone stop to wonder who would be
knocking on her door at this hour. Especially since most of the
dorm residents were at a mixer in the nearby Rathskeller.
She paid no attention to her
surroundings or her footsteps as she crossed the room to open the
And no one was around to hear her
The four Bob-Whites looked up in
surprise when they heard Mart pounding on the door to his own
“Dan, open up! I don’t have my
keys!” Mart yelled, sounding frantic.
Dan let his roommate in with a
questioning look. “Dude, what gives?”
Mart rushed over to Brian. “Brian,
you’ve got to come quick! Something’s happened to Trixie!”
Brian glared at his brother.
“Yeah, you messed with her!”
“No, not that!” Mart cried in
frustration. He scrambled to rein his vast powers of speech into
coherent patterns. “She’s gone, and her dorm is covered in blood!”
“Are you sure?” Di asked in
“If you don’t believe me, come see
for yourself!” Mart retorted.
The group made their way across
campus to the girls’ dorm suite. Just as Mart had said, upon
entering the living room they found toppled furniture and pools of
blood. Honey and Di gasped in horror.
“See?” Mart said. “Something awful
has happened to her!”
Dan glared at Mart. “If this is
the next stage of your April Fools plan, you’re a dead man.”
“It’s not!” Mart cried. “I swear!”
Brian and Honey were examining the
mess. “Actually, it’s not as bad as it looks,” Honey said. “The
lamp and table are knocked over, like someone fell against them.
The glass lamp is broken, but that’s the worst of the damage.”
Brian agreed. “The blood is
concentrated around the lamp. It looks to me like someone got cut
pretty badly on the broken lamp.”
“You know,” Di said thoughtfully,
“if I were here alone and fell and cut myself on a broken lamp, I’d
just find someone to take me to the emergency room.”
“Dollars to doughnuts,” Dan
contributed, “Trixie-the-klutz tripped and hurt herself, and she’s
just at the ER getting stitched up.”
Mart stared at them all in shock.
“You guys are kidding, right? As logical as your argument sounds,
we’re talking about Troublesome Trixie here! How many times has
that girl been kidnapped? How can you not be worried?”
Di looked around at the blood.
“Actually, I’m more grossed out than worried.”
Dan nodded. “Why don’t we give the
girls a hand cleaning this up before we go crazy searching for
Mart growled in frustration. He
stood by, unbelieving, as the others went about cleaning up the
broken glass and blood. They righted the furniture, swept and
vacuumed, and scrubbed the blood stains from the rug. He eventually
helped out just to speed them along, but it was still two hours
later before the room was done to the girls’ satisfaction.
Brian casually checked his watch.
“Okay, now let’s go find Trixie.”
“Finally!” Mart huffed and stormed
out into the hall.
Brian, Honey, Di and Dan looked at
each other, trying hard to smother their wicked laughter. “We are
sooo bad,” Dan said with an evil grin.
“Yeah, but he deserved it,” Brian
Just as Trixie opened the door to
her suite, her foot got caught in the electrical cord to the ugly
glass table lamp Mart had given her as a “housewarming” gift when
she’d moved into the dorms nearly two years before. Her foot pulled
at the lamp, which tumbled off the table. Trixie’s surprise at
seeing Jim negatively impacted her reaction time, so her attempt to
catch the falling lamp turned into a tumble onto the crashing lamp.
She screamed in pain as the broken glass cut into her skin in a
couple dozen places.
Jim rushed to her side. “Trixie,
are you alright?”
She moaned and tried to roll over,
but all that did was cut her in more places.
“Stop moving!” Jim commanded. He
lifted her carefully out of the pile of broken glass, trying not to
think about the pool of blood which had already formed. He then
carried her over to the nearest chair. “Stay there while I get
something to clean you up.”
Trixie didn’t need to be told
twice. She tried pulling a particularly large piece of glass out of
her arm, but the resulting spurt of blood convinced her to wait for
help. Jim returned with a few towels, one of them soaked in water.
He rested her arm on the towel and tried to swab at the cuts, but
one good look told him not to try first aid on his own. He tried to
apply pressure to the spots that were bleeding worst, but he was
afraid of pushing the glass in more deeply.
“We’re going to have to get you to
the emergency room,” he told her, his expression grim. Trixie
merely nodded and let him help her to his car.
As they drove through the campus
and out to the town nearby, Trixie stared uncomfortably out the
window and tried to ignore the pain. She finally broke the
silence. “Not how you expected to spend your evening, huh?”
Jim glanced at her. “Taking you to
the ER? No. But I was hoping to spend it with you.”
“Really?” Trixie turned to him in
surprise. She studied his profile while he concentrated on the
road. Nervously, she asked, “You do know we were set up, right?”
Jim nodded, and anger flashed on
his face. “I may not be the detective, but even I was able to
figure that out once I calmed down. And yes, I have every intention
of kicking Mart’s ass.”
“We shouldn’t be surprised,” Trixie
mused. “But I guess the real question is: why did we fall for it so
Stopping for a red light, Jim
looked into her deep blue eyes. “Trixie, do you really think
I would ever cheat on you?”
Smiling sadly, Trixie sighed. “No,
not Mr. Honorable. It’s just that… I wonder every day how long it
will be before you find Miss Right and leave me behind.”
The light turned green and he drove
on, ruefully making a sound somewhere between a snort and a
chuckle. “You can’t be serious. You mean the way I wonder each day
if today’s the day you meet the guy who won’t lecture you, drive you
crazy with his fears and paranoia, and will actually support you in
Trixie’s jaw dropped. She gaped at
him, stunned. As he turned into the hospital parking lot, she said,
“Jim… I already know guys like that. But I love you.”
Jim whipped the car into the
nearest spot and turned to her. Had he heard her right? One look
into her eyes, though, and he knew he had. He leaned over and
kissed her, a soft, feather-light kiss. He really had meant to stop
there, but when she kissed him back he just couldn’t. The kisses
grew deeper and deeper, burning into his soul.
They might have gone on all night,
but when he gathered her in his arms, she winced. Suddenly
remembering where they were and why, Jim pulled back. “I’m so
She clung to him. “Please, don’t
He smiled tenderly, and caressed
her cheek. “I don’t intend to, my love. Not ever. But I think we
should pause long enough to get you stitched up.”
She smiled and nodded, feeling
lighter than air. Despite the pain in her arm, she’d never felt
better in all her life. Until she walked into the emergency room,
The receptionist, Meg, looked up
and grinned. “Well, well, well. You managed to make it nearly
eight weeks this time, Trixie. I think that’s a record.”
“Gee, thanks, Meg,” Trixie
“You picked a good night, Trix,”
Meg continued. “It’s really slow for a change. And since I
practically have your info memorized, the only thing I need to ask
is, what did you do this time?”
Wordlessly, Trixie turned and
removed the towel so Meg could see her arm. Meg’s eyebrows shot
skyward. “Ouch! Come right on into triage, sweetie.”
As Trixie sat at the triage
station, her favorite nurse, Susan, greeted her. “Eight weeks,
Trixie. You’re improving.”
Trixie rolled her eyes and looked
at Jim. “I swear, I feel like Tim Taylor.”
Jim chuckled, and Susan grinned.
“Don’t you know every ER has their own Tim Taylor? In fact…”
Susan’s grin became wider and
slightly more wicked while she took Trixie’s temperature, pulse and
blood pressure. “Several of us went to a seminar for ER personnel.
We were swapping stories with a bunch of other people, when one of
the docs commented that he’d been relieved when his own personal Tim
Taylor had gone away to college. Want to guess where he was from?”
Groaning, Trixie’s shoulders
slumped. “Please don’t say it.”
“Yep. Sleepyside General.” Susan
laughed. “Your reputation is everywhere.”
She lifted the towel to survey the
damage. “What a mess you made!”
Trixie snorted. “You should see my
room. It looks like a murder took place. I feel bad for anyone who
walks in and finds it.”
Without thinking, Jim commented,
“It would serve him right if it were Mart.”
Suddenly, Jim and Trixie’s eyes
locked in malicious delight. “That would be horrible,” Trixie said
Jim stroked his chin. “You know, I
really should call Brian and let him know where we are… and have him
warn the girls about the mess.”
Eyes twinkling, Trixie agreed.
“You really should.”
“Don’t go away,” Jim said. “Be
Brian led the way across the quad,
heading for his and Jim’s off-campus apartment. He had told Mart
that they could take his car to find Trixie, but when they arrived
at the parking lot for the building, Jim’s car was back in its
“Jim and Trixie are home. We
should go see how her arm is,” Brian said.
Honey, Di and Dan headed for the
door to the building, but Mart stopped in his tracks. “Her arm?
How do you know it’s her arm?”
Brian turned and grinned. “Revenge
is sweet, and paybacks are hell. She got you good this time, Bro.”