The forest walks are wide and spacious


Friday, March 19, 1999

New York, New York


The man was a world-renowned businessman with a massive fortune and extreme amounts of power, but even such men as he were not immune to the need for sleep.  As Matthew Wheeler slid into the back seat of his limousine, he heaved a sigh of exhaustion.  He couldn’t wait until the limo returned him to his home; he hated business trips.

Once upon a time, he had traveled extensively for his business.  Back then, his wife Madeleine had usually traveled with him.  Maddie had loved to travel, visit exotic places, see new sights, and meet new people.  She had also been a master scheduler.  Whenever they had traveled together, there had been specific time allotted for business; there had also been time that was dedicated to other purposes.  They had spent time on socializing, shopping, museum hopping, and resting.  Matt had considered it absurd to schedule time for resting, but he had also worried a great deal about his wife.  She had been very ill early in their marriage, and he had never wanted her to go through such trials again.  Therefore, if Maddie said she was tired, Matt made sure she rested.

It was many years before Matt caught on to the fact that Maddie was using his concern for her as a tool to enable her to take care of him.  By the time Matt had figured it out, he was at a point in life where he didn’t mind the trick his wife had played on him.  Instead, he just enjoyed the fact that they always had plenty of time together.

He was thankful now that he had spent so much time with his wife.  When he had promised to love her until death did them part, he had never imagined they would be parted so soon.  He still hadn’t adjusted fully to life without her.

One of the many adjustments he’d had trouble making was to traveling alone.  For one thing, without his wife to commandeer his attention, he focused completely on business.  Without his wife to request they go to a social event or see a play, he didn’t bother with entertainment.  Without his wife needing to rest, he didn’t bother to sleep.  Without his wife to point out to him the roses along the road, he didn’t stop to smell them.

Instead, he packed as much as he possibly could into as short of a trip as he could possibly manage, and returned as soon as he could to his own apartment, irritable and exhausted.  Once there, his faithful assistant would browbeat him into resting, into eating when he should, and into taking care of himself.  If she didn’t, it was because she was not doing well herself and needed tending.  He would take the time to rest, because he would force her to do so.

Maybe if I just took Trixie with me, we’d both be better off, he thought wryly.

He hesitated to admit he was worried about what he’d find when he returned home.  This was the first trip he’d taken since Christmas.  Even as he’d begun to see an improvement in Trixie’s well-being, he’d become more and more aware of how fragile she was.  He had become afraid to leave her alone, much as he’d been afraid to leave Maddie when they were young.  This trip had become necessary, and Trixie had encouraged him to take it.  Matt had started to wonder if she was pushing him for the sake of his business, or to get him out of town because he was starting to smother her.  So he decided to give her some breathing room, and take the trip.

Once on the road, things had gone haywire.  Complications had arisen, and what had been planned as a three-day trip had turned into two long and grueling weeks.  His business was better for it; he felt like he’d done six months’ work in the last fortnight.  But at what price?  The last couple of telephone conversations he’d had with Trixie worried him.  He could hear in her voice that her careful mask of control was starting to crack.  Without his shoulder to lean upon, she was not holding up well under the pressure of her full-time education and her high-powered job.  Without him there to rein her in, she had likely been putting in twenty-two-hour days.  Matt knew he needed to get home to her, so they both could take a rest.

The nervous expectations of trouble had almost reached a boiling point by the time the limo pulled to the curb in front of the exclusive high-rise apartment building in which he resided on New York’s Park Avenue.  He leapt from the car, leaving his driver and doorman to deal with his luggage.  Moving through the lobby as quickly as dignity would allow, he was relieved to have an elevator car to himself.  The ride up to the penthouse apartment was interminable, as he waited impatiently for his journey to end.

Upon entering the apartment, Matt was greeted with the sound of a loud scream and an explosion of shattering glass.  He rushed down the hall toward the sound, which had emanated from Trixie’s bedroom.  He found her staring at shards of glass all around the room, with a hairbrush sticking wildly out of disheveled hair.  It appeared to him that she had gotten so frustrated with her tangled hair that she had picked up a nearby glass jewelry box and thrown it with all her might at the full-length mirror across the room.

Seeing that the broken glass was far enough away from her that she was unlikely to have been hurt, Matt breathed a sigh of relief.  He swiftly crossed the room and whisked her up into his arms.  As he carried her away from the scene of the crime, she leaned her head against his shoulder.

“Why are you being nice to me?  Just look at the mess I made!”  Although her words were full of protest and reproach, her voice trembled from exhaustion and weariness of heart.

“Yes, you did make a mess.  But it’s not as bad as the mess would become if you walked across that room in your bare feet.  I have shoes on, and I’m just getting you away from there.”  His soothing words eased her agitation as he carried her into the living room and placed her gently on the couch. 

Trixie just sat with her head in her hands, while Matt proceeded to remove his overcoat and hang it up, then take off his coat and tie, and kick off his shoes.  He then set about lighting a fire in the fireplace, turning on the stereo, and opening a bottle of wine.  When he had poured them each a glass, he sat down beside her on the couch.  While she gratefully took a sip of the fragrant beverage, he put the afghan on the floor in front of him and pushed her down onto it.  He then began to work methodically at extracting the brush from her hair.

He had removed the offending item and begun to use it to work through the tangled tresses before either of them spoke.  “You could get a hair cut, you know.  She wouldn’t hold it against you.”

“Yeah, and you could stop wearing your wedding ring.”

Matt glanced at the reflections of the flickering flames from the fireplace in the gold band on the third finger of his left hand.  “It’s not the same.”

Trixie snorted.  “You don’t have an attachment to jewelry.  You made a promise to Maddie.”

“I think a wedding vow is a bit more sacred than a promise not to cut your hair,” Matt argued.

“Depends on the promise,” Trixie said, turning her head to the side so he could keep brushing.  “You promised her ‘until death do you part’.  Unfortunately, Matt, you’ve been parted.  I promised not to cut my hair until we could do it together.  By my reckoning, that’ll never happen.”

Contrary to appearances, Matt Wheeler had a wickedly morbid sense of humor.  He couldn’t help himself, and expressed the crude thought that popped into his head.  “I don’t know.  I’ve heard that corpses can grow hair; shall we dig her up so you two can both get your hair cut?”

Trixie whipped her head around and stared up at him, jaw agape.  The gleam in his eyes caught her breath.  He had been a man of great humor, with a ready smile and a hearty laugh… in the time before.  He used to tease her and her friends all the time, and he'd had a generally happy demeanor.  But that was before.  After Maddie’s death he had rarely smiled.  Even recently, as he’d been recovering, reconnecting, and beginning to live again, his smiles were usually tainted with sorrow.  At this moment, however, he looked… like he was having fun.  Genuinely having fun.

A bubble of joy welled up in her heart.  It almost reached her face.  She narrowed her eyes in a pretend glare, while nearly managing a glimmer of a smile.  “You’re a sick sonuvabitch, you know that?”

He grinned widely.  “Yup!”

She savored the moment a little before becoming serious again.  Focusing on his wedding band, she reached out and stroked it with a finger.  “If marriage were really like a business contract, yours would be over and done and you’d be working on the next one.  But it’s not.  It took you a long time to be able to let go at all, and your heart isn’t capable of letting go all at once.  You'll wear that ring until you’re ready to take it off, and that’s okay.”

Big blue eyes looked up to meet his gaze, pleading for understanding.  “I’m just not ready to cut my hair yet.”

A gentle look of understanding settled on his features.  “And that’s okay.”

He picked the hairbrush back up and ran his big freckled hands through her hair.  “I remember you would spend hours letting Maddie brush your hair.  You used to talk a lot.”

Trixie turned to stare at the fire, lost in memories.  Matt went back to brushing while she talked.  “When she asked me not to cut my hair, I almost wanted to say no.  I’ve never been good with my hair, and I didn’t want to spend time on it.  I especially felt awkward around Maddie, because she had always liked playing with her own hair, and she didn’t have any left to deal with.”

“She loved playing with your hair,” Matt said.  “It made her feel like she could do something for you, while you were busy doing so much for her.”

“I know,” Trixie said.  “It was kind of… empowering for her.  When I realized that, I worked very hard at sitting still to let her do it.”

Matt smiled at the image of Trixie trying not to fidget.

“It taught me patience.”  For several minutes the only sound was the rhythmic scrape of the bristles through her hair.  “It taught me trust.”

“Trust?” Matt paused to ask.

Trixie nodded.  “I never knew what she was going to do to my hair.  We never decided, ‘today let’s try a French twist’.  She just styled it according to her mood.  It usually surprised me, and it always looked good.”

Matt pondered that.  “You never looked in a mirror while she was working, did you?”


“You handed control of the situation over to her,” he mused.

“She had control over so little else; it was the least I could do.”

Somehow, Matt never ceased to be amazed by the depths of Trixie’s caring.  He shook his head, thinking he should know better by now, as he began to separate the long strands of hair into three sections.

“It made us friends,” she added.

“How do you figure that?”  Matt began plaiting her tresses.

“I guess…” Trixie shrugged.  “It’s just that, most of the time I was asking her what I could do, or telling her to take her medicine, or discussing what she needed.  That’s not real conversation.  When I sat there, we talked about everything from the weather to what her favorite piece of art in the Louvre was.  I learned more about who she was as a person during those hair sessions than I could ever have imagined.  And I told her things I’d never dreamt of sharing with her.

“Being willing to clean up after her when she got sick wasn’t what made us friends.  It was those long talks.”

Matt finished his project in contemplative silence.  When he was done, he draped the long braid over her shoulder.  “You know, we’ve talked more tonight about Maddie than we ever have since she died.”

Trixie laid her head back into his lap and looked up at his face suspiciously.  “You tricked me.”

Feeling slightly awkward, Matt shook his head.  “I didn’t mean to.  Your therapist says you need to talk, but you never seem to feel comfortable doing it.  When I picked up the brush, I remember how much you two used to gab.  I just thought…”

She reached for his hand and gave it an affectionate squeeze.  “Thank you.”  Their eyes met, and they held each other’s gaze for a long moment. 

Reluctantly extricating himself from the moment, Matt stood.  “Right now, I’m going to go clean up the glass before you decide to do it in your bare feet.”

Clearing her throat with a loud, “Ahem,” Trixie smirked.  “You do remember kicking off your shoes, right?”

Nonplussed, Matt stopped and looked down at his stocking feet.

Rising from her seat on the floor, Trixie snickered.  “I’m just going to go fetch the vacuum cleaner.”

She’d almost laughed, he was sure of it.  His embarrassment was completely worth it, if that would make her smile.  He was definitely glad to be home.









Saturday, March 20, 1999

New York, New York


When Trixie awoke, she felt better than she had in days.  Having Matt home made a difference; her life was so lonely without him.  She talked to her brother Mart on the phone, and sometimes even Dan or Di, but it wasn’t the same.  She had struggled to get to the point where she actually wanted to be with people sometimes, and it was good to have someone around.

She puttered around the kitchen fixing coffee, and then sat on the sofa to watch the sunrise.  She really loved the view of New York out the large, eastern-facing window, and the best part of the day was watching the morning light peeking above the horizon.  She blamed Matt completely for this obsession.

When he stumbled sleepily to the living room and plopped down beside her, she wordlessly handed him a steaming mug of coffee fixed just the way he liked it.  After he’d taken his first sip, he settled with his arm comfortably around her shoulders.  She rested her head on his shoulder while they greeted the day together in silence.

Twenty minutes later, Matt was the first to speak.  “Let’s do something fun today.”

Trixie looked up at him as if he’d grown three heads.  “Fun?  Like what?”

He shrugged.  “I have no idea.  I just don’t want to work, or think, or anything.”

“You’ve been on the run for two weeks.  How about just resting?”

“I’m more mentally fried than I am physically tired.  I want to recharge, not just sleep.”  He looked around the room, searching for inspiration, both to explain his feelings and to suggest a solution.  His eyes came to rest on a framed photograph of Jim on Jupiter.  He smiled and turned to his companion.  “Let’s go riding!”

“Um…” her eyes widened in surprise.  Neither of them had been to Sleepyside in two years.  Although he could have been suggesting renting horses in Central Park, Trixie knew him better than that.  Matt didn’t want to be around strangers, and the kind of recharging he was talking about was something they both used to seek in the Preserve around Manor House.

The idea clearly excited Matt.  He had a glow in his green eyes and a smile on his face.  His entire body quivered in anticipation.  “Come on, Trix.  What do you say?”

She could have told him to go on without her, but she knew he wouldn’t.  If she refused, he would worry about her and insist on staying with her.  Although a part of her was terrified by the idea, another part longed for the healing magic of the Preserve.  Most importantly, though, she could see how much he really needed this.  Reluctantly, she agreed.  “Okay.”

He could see the fear in her eyes, but he could also see the small glimmer of desire behind it.  He knew that she needed this every bit as much as he did, and it would do them both some good.  He grinned.  “Go get dressed.  I’ll call Steven and Regan to make the arrangements.”

Forty-five minutes later they were safely ensconced in the limo enroute to Sleepyside.  When Matt noticed the way Trixie was wringing her hands, he reached over and grabbed one of them in his.  “There’s nothing to be afraid of, you know.”

She squeezed his hand hard, holding on for dear life.  “There shouldn’t be, I know.  But… nothing’s the same as it used to be.”

“I know it’s not,” he said.  He stared off into space.  “When I bought that house, my whole life was such a mess.  My family was falling apart.  Moving there was the starting point of so many changes for the better.  I guess I feel like being ready to go there can only lead to something good.”

“My life changed so much the day you came to Sleepyside,” she mused.  “And it’s just a couple of hours, right?”

Matt turned back to her.  “However long you can handle.  If you want to rush right back, we will.  If you want to stay longer, we will.  But you can at least pass out some apples and sugar cubes to the horses, can’t you?”

“I can manage that.”

They passed the rest of the journey without much conversation, each lost in their own thoughts and memories.  It seemed no time at all before the car pulled up in front of Manor House Stables.  When Matt helped Trixie from the car, Bill Regan came out to greet them.  He greeted Matt with a friendly handshake and then turned to Trixie.  She held back warily.  It surprised Regan greatly that his mind likened her stance to Dan’s the first time they met.

He smiled gently.  “Hello there, Miss Fidget.  Welcome home.”  Then he wrapped her in a big bear hug.

Despite the fact that they were standing outside in the chilly March air, Trixie felt warm all over.  She had no idea what she’d been expecting, but the warm acceptance wasn’t it.  Suddenly, it was easy to head into the stables and greet the horses just like old times.

Regan had two horses saddled up and ready for them.  He gave them recommendations about which trails were in good shape, based on recent weather conditions and the like.  When Trixie swung herself up into the saddle, she closed her eyes and took a moment to savor the old, comfortable feeling.  Seeing the look of contentment settling over her face, Matt and Regan exchanged conspiratorial grins.  Matt mounted his own horse, and they moved out onto the trail.  Breathing deeply of the crisp, pine air, he could feel it seep into his soul.

Once the riders were out of sight, Tom and Celia burst out of Regan’s office.  “Well?  Do you think he’ll stay?”

Regan turned to answer Celia’s question.  “I don’t know about today, but they’ll definitely be back.  And the more often they come back, the more likely he’ll open the big house back up.”

“Oh, I can’t wait!” Celia bubbled enthusiastically.

“Back off a little, honey,” Tom admonished his wife.  “It’s taken a long time to get this far.  Don’t push.”

“From what I hear, the key is getting Trixie to want to be here,” Regan said.

“Really?”  Celia grew thoughtful.  “As much as I’d love to twist their arms into eating up at the big house, maybe I should just call Helen.”

“Didn’t I just say not to push?” Tom asked with a mixture of frustration and amusement.

“I’m not pushing, I’m nudging.  There’s a difference.”  Celia turned on her heel, huffing, and headed down the hill to the farmhouse in the hollow.

Tom turned to Regan.  “Do you think it’ll work?”

Running a large, freckled hand through his red hair, Regan sighed.  “I hope so.  Those two need to stop hiding in the cold high rises of New York and get back home.”





The two lost souls wandered through the woods for hours, stopping to rest the horses occasionally.  Once, upon reaching a large meadow, they let them run.  As she crouched low over her steed, wind flying through her hair, Trixie actually smiled.  Matt could have sworn that the sun suddenly shone brighter.  By the time they returned to the stables, they both had a pleasant flush to their cheeks and a healthy glow about them.

Wisely, Regan remained in his office when they returned.  They groomed their mounts and cleaned their tack without speaking, but it was a comfortable silence.  When they were done, Regan popped his head out of his office.  “Matt, Tom wanted to see you for a few minutes.  He’s over in the garage right now.”

“Sure thing, Regan.”  Matt turned to his companion.  “Come with me.  I’m sure Tom would like to say hi to you, too.”

Trixie nodded and they headed toward the garage.  Matt swung his arm around her shoulders and leaned down to say something to her.  She looked up at him to answer, her body leaning in to him slightly as they walked.

Regan watched them thoughtfully as they went.  He knew what he seemed to see, and wondered if either one of them had any clue.  He’d wager they didn’t.




Up in the garage, Matt and Trixie found Tom talking to Peter Belden.  When she spotted her father, Trixie halted in her tracks.  Matt gave her shoulder a quick rub before shoving her ahead of him as he called out a greeting to Tom.  Peter turned and caught sight of his daughter.

A wide grin split his face.  The nervous apprehension on her face could not diminish his elation over the fact that she was in Sleepyside.  “Trixie!  What a sight for sore eyes!”  He swooped over and caught her up in a huge hug.

Trixie returned his hug, although less enthusiastically.  A battle was being waged in her heart between the joy of knowing her father’s love, and the intense feeling of failure battering her soul.  The rift amongst the Bob-Whites and, more importantly, between her and Brian, had to be painful to her parents.  After the way they had raised their children to be warm and open, and to love unconditionally, Trixie’s actions since Maddie’s illness must have disappointed her parents horribly.  She couldn’t even look her father in the eye.

Matt watched the way she greeted Peter.  Despite how closed she had become, he was getting better and better at reading her face.  He was surprised by what he saw there, but on second thought, realized that he shouldn’t have been.  As he stepped forward to greet his friend with a warm handshake, he decided he should force Trixie to spend a little more time with her dad.

“Pete, it’s been ages.  What are you and Helen doing for dinner?” he asked.  “Can we take you out?”

Peter managed to keep the shock off his face.  While his mind tried to decide if he was more surprised by the invitation or the use of the word “we”, his mouth managed to form the words of a counter-offer.  “Actually, we’re having the Lynches over for dinner.  I was just trying to convince Tom and Celia to come on over, and then I was going to work on Regan.  Why don’t you both just join us?”

“That sounds great!” Matt enthused, fighting not to physically dodge the daggers shooting from Trixie’s eyes.  Instead, he offered what she would understand was a compromise.  “I have a breakfast meeting tomorrow, so we can’t stay late, but I would love the chance to visit.  Thank you.”

Although no one was fooled by Trixie’s stiff smile and rigid back, they all accepted her agreement at face value.  Tom took his leave to inform Celia of their plans, and Peter went to corral Regan.  Matt placed a call to Steven, who was spending the day in White Plains, to push back their departure time.  Trixie walked away, purposely not heading in the direction of Crabapple Farm.

Matt gave her a head start while he finished his call.  He caught up with her as she reached the edge of the Preserve.  “So, we’re taking the long route to give you time to bitch me out, right?”

“I can’t believe you did that to me,” she ground out as she stomped along the trail.  “I wasn’t even sure I wanted to come here today, but I enjoyed the ride.  Now you’ve ruined a perfectly good day!”

“I beg to differ,” he said.  “You’ll feel better after dinner.”

“I won’t be able to eat a thing.  I feel like throwing up already.”

“Oh, calm down,” Matt chuckled.  “You wouldn’t want to waste Helen’s fantastic cooking.”

“This isn’t funny, Matt.”  Trixie’s voice sounded more pained than angry.

Grabbing her arm and pulling her to a stop, Matt turned her to face him.  “No, it’s not.  Trix, your parents love you.  They hurt because you hurt.  If you could let them see that you’re doing a little better, they’ll feel better.”

She stood there, examining a nearby pine bough and refusing to meet his eyes.  Placing a finger under her chin, he nudged her face upward so he could study the swirls of fear and pain muddying the beautiful blue of her eyes.  “You are doing better, aren’t you?”

Meeting his gaze, Trixie melted at the care and concern she saw in his face.  “Some days I think I am, but right now I feel like I can’t breathe.”  A wayward tear streaked down her face.

Matt gently wiped the tear away with his thumb.  “I am happy to nudge you where you need to be nudged, but I will never hurt you.  I think you need to do this, but if you really, really don’t think you can handle it, I’ll take you home now.”

The sincerity of his offer eased the pressure in her chest.  He could see the tension in her posture ease, and offered further assurances.  “I’ll be right by your side the entire time.  If you need to leave, I’ll whisk you right out of there.”

His words brought a glimmer of a smile.  “Promise?”

His return smile was much brighter.  “I promise.”  He drew her into the safety of his arms.  “Remember what I said about magnifying the love you absorb?”  When she nodded her head against his chest, he continued, “You can’t do that if you don’t have anything to absorb.  Your parents love you, no matter what.  Go soak some of that up, okay?”

Her muffled words were barely discernible.  “They must be so disappointed in me.”

“I seriously doubt that, sweetheart.  And even if they were, that wouldn’t stop them from loving you.  Didn’t your teenaged adventures teach you that about them?”

She forced what might have been a chuckle.  “I guess.”

“Besides, they're my best friends, and I miss them.”

The way Trixie jumped back and searched his face made Matt feel guilty.  He was being honest.  He hadn’t meant to play a trump card, but if he had, he was going to use it.  If making him feel better was the only way to get Trixie to do what was best for herself, so be it.

After a moment, Trixie swallowed hard and tried to put on a brave face.  “Okay.  But let’s walk slow, so I can pull myself together.”

With a sigh of relief, Matt agreed.  And as they wound through the trail towards her parents’ home, his heart grew steadily lighter.




Dinner was a normal, raucous Belden affair.  Everyone was warm and welcoming, and within a few minutes, Matt felt right at home.  Trixie, however, was not so easily relaxed.  The minute Rob saw his sister walk in, he forgot all about all four Lynch children – much to the chagrin of Kelli Lynch.  While her brothers teased Kelli good-naturedly, Rob attached himself to Trixie’s side.

Although she’d been apprehensive of Rob’s attention at first, by the time they sat down to eat, Trixie was grateful.  With Matt seated on one side and Rob on the other, she felt like she had a protective army around her.  At first, she was bemused that the ones who most wanted her protective walls to come down would do such a good job guarding the castle.  Then she realized that their desire was for the walls to be torn down from inside, not for anyone to storm the gates.  In gratitude to her shining knights, she tried to at least open a window, anyway.

The dinner conversation was lighthearted.  Trixie was quiet, but no one questioned it.  By the time dessert was served, she felt less like an observer and more like a participant.  As much as she hated to admit how often Matt was right, he had most certainly been right about this.  By the time they got up from the table, she was beginning to remember how warm one’s heart could be at Crabapple Farm.

Matt had kept a careful eye on Trixie all night.  He was extremely pleased with how well she was handling the evening, and wished it could go on and on.  He could see, however, that she was getting tired.  Her emotional control was wont to slip when she tired.  He wanted the evening to end well, rather than going on past her ability to handle and souring.  With that in mind, when everyone else headed toward the family room he chose to make their excuses and bid their friends good night.

There was much hugging and well wishes, along with requests to come back again soon.  The most difficult moment for Trixie was when her mother embraced her.  Helen Belden held her baby girl for an endless moment, then kissed her cheek and let her go.

“Trixie, my darling, I hope you know how much I love you.  There is nothing in this world that could ever change that, no matter what.”  She stroked the long braid of hair resting on Trixie’s shoulder.  “Please don’t be afraid to come home.”

Trixie fought the tears welling in her eyes, gave Moms a quick kiss good-bye, and fled to the waiting limousine.

Watching his daughter leave, Peter Belden turned to Matt.  “Take care of my little girl.”

“She’s not your little girl any more, Pete,” Matt replied.

Quickly getting defensive, Peter asked, “What's that supposed to mean?”

Matt looked out across the night-darkened yard, seeing something much farther away.  “Your little girl was sweet and naïve, believing that all the evil in the world could be defeated by good guys like the Bob-Whites.”  Shadows of pain crossed his face.  “This young woman has had to accept the harsh fact that… it’s not always true.  Sometimes the evil wins, despite all our best efforts.  She was staggered by that knowledge, nearly crippled by it, and is trying to regain her equilibrium… but she’ll be stronger for learning that truth.”

Turning back to his old friend, Matt offered a wisp of a smile.  “She’s not your little girl anymore, but she is a young woman you can be very proud of.”

Peter nodded, grateful for a friend who wasn’t afraid to be honest with him.  It was difficult to step back and see your child as a grown-up under the best of circumstances.  The downward spiral into pain and sorrow that had marked Trixie’s entry into adulthood had made him wish for nothing more than the happy-go-lucky child she had once been.  The other man’s insight gave him hope for the woman she would be.  “Thank you, Matt.”

Matt said his farewells and joined Trixie in the limo.  In short order, they were zooming towards the Big Apple and home.  Trixie stared absently out the window.

After having allowed her a few moments of peace, Matt reached over to massage the very tense muscles in her neck.  “It wasn’t that bad.  You got through it.”

Not really wanting to talk about the feelings she couldn’t quite decipher, Trixie tried to change the subject.  “What breakfast meeting do you have?”

With a conspiratorial chuckle, Matt said, “I have an important appointment with a cup of coffee, a comfortable sofa, my favorite person, and a beautiful sunrise.”

Turning quickly and catching a smirk on his face, Trixie studied the look intently.  When she had stared so long that he was beginning to get worried, her stern expression finally gave way to a soft smile.  She scooted across the seat until she was close enough to rest her head on his shoulder.

“I can’t imagine a better weekend.  Thank you.”

And off they rode toward the dawn on the next leg of their healing journey.








Author's Notes:

Thanks to Trish and Bonnie for editing.  Also, many, many super special thanks for the return to editing of KayRenee!  Kathy, I adore you and all your smart-aleck comments.

I know I'm driving everyone crazy, but I don't mind.  This uni is intentionally off the beaten path, and not for everyone.  For those who read and still like it, thank you very much.

Photo credit:  Marcus74id at

The title is from Titus Andronicus, Act II, Scene i, line 114.