Till time beget some careful remedy.





Thursday, April 2, 1999

New York, New York


 Trixie Belden glanced at the clock in the lower right corner of her computer screen, then at the inbox on the left-hand corner of her desk, and fought the urge to roll her chair over to the wall so she could bang her head on it.  There just weren’t enough hours in the day!

She sighed, and returned to the report she was reading.  The amount of responsibility she had taken on at Wheeler International had never bothered her before.  In the darkest days it was a refuge, a place to hide from herself.  Going to school full-time, and then working full-time, left room for nothing else but exhausted sleep.  And that had been fine with her.

It hadn’t been until the first of the year, when Matt had forced her to take several weeks off, that she had come to realize how much she had taken on at work.  In fact, it wasn’t until she’d come back to work in February and found the mountains on her desk that she’d noticed.  She had tried to dive in and catch up, but at the same time, Matt had been trying to make her recover her life.  Her brother Mart had demanded as much of her time as he could from Chicago.  Since late February, Dan and Di had joined the bandwagon.

It had taken until mid-March, when Matt had taken a long business trip, for Trixie to catch up on her work.  Unfortunately, she had done so by staying at the office until well past midnight every night.  When Matt had returned home, he’d noticed her exhaustion.  When he’d returned to the office, he’d noticed the work she’d completed.  His first clue had been the piles of reports on his own desk, ready for review.  Next, he’d seen how clean her desk was.  Then he’d done the unthinkable: reviewed the building security logs to check how many hours she’d worked in order to accomplish all that she had done.

Then he’d exploded.

For the last two weeks, he had been keeping track of exactly how many hours a week she worked.  He’d started checking her briefcase when she left at night.  They had fought like cats and dogs over what work she was doing, how he was treating her, and what things needed to change.

Trixie couldn’t wait until next week.  Matt had to go out of town again, which was making him cranky.  He had made her solemnly swear not to stay at the office past seven p.m.  However, he hadn’t noticed that her school was on break next week.  He’d completely forgotten Easter was this coming weekend.  So she had agreed to leave by seven p.m, because she knew she could come in at seven a.m.  Even though she preferred to work at night when the office was quiet, working during the day would facilitate many phone calls and such.  Perhaps she could get organized and feel like her job was manageable again.

She was still feeling self-satisfied at having pulled one over on Matt, and ignoring the little whisper of guilt in the back of her head, when the phone rang.  She didn’t look before answering it, because calls didn’t come through to her direct line if she wasn’t expecting them.  That was one change she’d enjoyed over the last year; as things had changed in her job, she’d gone from being the one who fielded all the calls to being someone who had her calls screened for her.  There was something to be said for executive perks.

“Belden.”  The one word was the only greeting required for the business contacts that actually got through to her office.

“Trix, what’re you doing next week?” Diana Lynch’s voice was cheery, but the lightness seemed somehow forced.

Trixie managed to stifle the groan with which her mind responded to the unexpected personal call, but a sigh escaped her lips.

“Don’t you take that tone with me, missy,” Di scolded.  “You speak a thousand words with a little sigh.  You were planning on working, weren’t you?”

“Give it a rest, Di,” Trixie sighed again.  “When you work full-time and go to school full-time, having a week where you only do one is a vacation.”

“Oh, I have no doubt that you feel that way, sweetie,” Di said.  “I just wanna hear you sell that one to Matt.”

Diana had taken to referring to Matthew Wheeler as “Matt” when talking to Trixie.  In her mind, “Mr. Wheeler” conjured images of her dad’s business associate and Honey’s father, whereas “Matt” was Trixie’s boss, roommate and friend.  It was an odd dichotomy, but it worked for her.  And right now, she didn’t want to think of Honey at all, not even in connection with her father.

“Di…” Trixie knew she was whining, but didn’t care.

“Look,” Di said in her most no-nonsense voice.  “My school has the same stupid schedule yours does.  Everyone else got two weeks for spring break sometime this month.  I got one, and I get next week for Easter.  I checked the online calendar; your schedule is the same.  By the way, does Matt know your school was on spring break while he was away on that business trip?  Did you take any time off?”

Trixie cringed.  Leave it to Di to zero right in on the one piece of information Matt hadn’t yet gleaned.  She’d been smart enough to work from home during school hours.  It had even been nice to sit in the apartment in her pajamas to write reports.  There was still that lingering guilt, however, that she’d lied to Matt.  And was trying to get away with doing it again.  Damn Diana Lynch, anyway!

“What’s your point, Di?” Trixie asked, her deep aggravation easy to hear.

“My point is that I want to do something next week… just the two of us.”

Trixie stopped thinking about work and focused on Diana.  She was trying to sound cheerful, upbeat, and big-sister-ish, but there was an underlying tension in her voice.  In fact, she really sounded stressed, and a little desperate.  Trixie pushed herself away from her desk, leaned back in her chair, and closed her eyes so she could listen, really listen, while she dug for more information.

“So… since Dan doesn’t have off from school, I’m your fall-back position?”

“No!” Di nearly shrieked.  She took a deep breath and tried to contain her frazzled nerves.  More calmly, she replied, “I’m spending this weekend in Chicago, with Dan.  We’re going to make Easter our holiday.  He offered to have me stay the whole week, but I got the feeling he would have trouble concentrating on school if I was there.  He’s got a lot of important deadlines coming up, papers due, and whatnot.  I know he’s worried about graduation, and I don’t want to be a burden.”

Trixie allowed herself a small, half-smile.  “You’ll never be a burden to him, and you both know it.  You’d both love the time together.  But you want to give him space, and you don’t know how to do it without looking like you don’t want to spend time with him.”

Damn Trixie Belden, anyway, Diana thought, unconsciously mirroring her friend’s thoughts of a few moments earlier.  For someone who’s so wrapped up in her own life, she sure can figure me out pretty quickly.

“That pretty much sums up the problem with Dan, Trix,” Di conceded.  “Unfortunately, I made the mistake of venting to Honey…”

There was a long, drawn out silence.  Di was unsure how much more to share, based on the separation between Trixie and Honey.  And Trixie was having trouble asking, because she wasn’t quite ready to deal with the matter of her shattered friendship with Honey Wheeler.

When she could stand the silence no longer, Di plunged ahead nervously.  “Anyway, Honey decided I should spend the week in New Hampshire, helping to plan a wedding shower for a sorority sister of hers.”

Shoving thoughts of Honey aside, Trixie focused again on Diana, and the timber of her voice.  With her eyes still closed, she visualized Di’s expressive face.  “Do you know this particular sorority sister?”

“I’ve met her.”

“But you don’t like her.”

“I wouldn’t say that.  It’s just that…,” Di hedged, then she blurted out, “Actually, I can’t stand her.  And I don’t understand why Honey is throwing the shower when this twit is marrying Honey’s ex-boyfriend.”

Trixie searched her memory for the name of the last guy she had heard about Honey dating.  “David?”

“No, no,” Di waved away the thought.  “She’s still dating David, although I fail to see why.  No, this is the guy she was dating at the beginning of college.  His name’s Brian.”

Trixie had a flashback to a long-ago conversation with Maddie.


“I’m telling you, Trixie, he’s all wrong for her.”

“You’ve only met him once.”

“His name is Brian, and he looks a lot like your brother.  I’m convinced she’s dating him in order to hold onto some childhood fantasy.”

“Maybe he’s the real version of that fantasy.”

“Right.  With a personality more like Ben’s?”

“Okay, okay.  Forget I said anything!  You’re obviously right.”

“Of course I’m right.  I’m her mother.”

“So what’s her Prince Charming really like?”

“Believe it or not…”



Trixie shook herself out of her memories.  “What ever happened between her and this Brian guy, anyway?”

Di shrugged, even though Trixie couldn’t see her.  “I don’t know.  It happened right before Mrs. Wheeler died, though.  I think it just compounded the problem for her.”

“Hmm.”  Trixie’s response was noncommittal.  “So you don’t want to help Honey torture herself with this shower, and you don’t want to hang around and watch Dan get closer to graduation.”

“I never said that!”

“Go ahead.  Tell me you’re excited about his graduation.”

Diana’s silence spoke volumes.

Trixie swiveled in her chair and put her feet up on the window ledge.  Matt poked his head into her office, and was astounded by her relaxed posture.  When he heard the gentleness of her voice with her next words, he retreated before she could notice him.

“Di, you know Dan loves you, right?”

“Oh, I know that, Trixie!  It’s just that every time we’ve had to deal with a major transition, it’s been so hard.  I have no doubt we can make it through.  I guess I’m just dreading the struggle.”

Changing tactics, Trixie said, “Mangan’s a good Irish name.”

“So?” Di frowned in confusion.  “So’s Lynch.”

“The Boston PD has a reputation for being full of good Irishmen.”

Again, Diana’s silence told Trixie far more than her words could have.  Eventually, she sighed.  “He’s always dreamed of being a New York cop.”

“Wrong.  He’s always dreamed of being a cop.  Personally, I think New York City is the last place he should be.”

“What?  Why?”

“Think about why he wants to be a cop, Di,” Trixie said gently.  “Some part of him is still trying to atone for the mistakes of his past.  Going to the scenes of the crimes, literally, isn’t going to help him.  The possibility of running into people who might remember him won’t help, either.  He wants to do some good in the world.  To protect and serve, instead of harming and causing trouble.  That’s great; he’s a great guy who’ll do great things.

“But if he runs into the shadows of his past, everything he does will be tainted.  People will be judging him, and he’ll always be afraid he won’t measure up.”

Di drew a shaky breath.  “I’ve been thinking that for a while.  I keep hoping he’ll want to go back to Sleepyside.”

Trixie opened her eyes and gazed out her office window.  When she was in the mood to notice, she had to admit to having a spectacular view.  The corporate offices of Wheeler International were situated in a towering skyscraper on Broad Street in Lower Manhattan.  As owner, Matt Wheeler had, naturally, chosen a sprawling corner office on one of the top floors.  Trixie’s office was directly next to his.  Though much smaller, it still possessed a large plate glass window.  Trixie could not see the Statue of Liberty from her office, as Matt could, but she could look out upon the spectacular sight of the World Trade Center with the Hudson River meandering lazily in the background, arriving in the big bustle of New York City after passing the quiet little village of Sleepyside-on-Hudson.

“Di, he’s not ready to think small town.  It’s easier to get into the police academy in a big city, for one thing.  And you’re going to be in Boston for at least another year.  He could train in Boston, get the feel of a being a big city cop, maybe even think he’s training himself for New York.  The two of you enjoy life in Boston, close but not living with your large and loving family.  And maybe, someday, you end up in Sleepyside.  After you’ve both lived a little and are ready for small town life.”

“I like the dreams you build, Trixie.”  Di sighed.  “Can you tell me more stories?”

Trixie chuckled.  “About what?”

“About a whole weeks’ worth!” Di grinned.

Trixie rolled her eyes.  After another glance at Manhattan, she turned back towards her desk and viewed the piles.  She chewed on her lip for a second.  “Tell you what.  Call me back tomorrow.  I’ll see what I can do.”

“Yes!” Di shouted through the phone.  “I can’t wait!”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Trixie said.  “Call me tomorrow.”  She placed the receiver back on its base and stared off into space.  She had no idea how long she had been sitting there before she heard a soft knock on the connecting door between her office and Matt’s.

The handsome redhead nudged open the door and leaned casually against the frame, hands in his pockets.  His tie was missing, the top button of his collar was undone, and he looked tired.  “Can we just go home?”

Trixie looked him over carefully.  “You sound like you want to run away from something you really ought to finish.”

Matt shrugged.  “It’s not due until Monday.  I know I could finish it tonight, if I wanted to stay until midnight.  I just don’t feel like staying.”

The clock read 6:23 p.m.  For them, that was really early.  Trixie scanned the piles on her desk, then glanced back at Matt.  She smiled softly and began to shut down her computer.  “It’ll all still be here tomorrow.”

Matt raised his eyebrows in surprise and grinned.  “Yeah?”

She nodded.  “Yeah.”

He walked over to her and reached for her hand.  She took his and let him pull her to her feet.  “Don’t think I didn’t hear you poke your head in earlier,” she scolded.

“You were talking to Diana, but you don’t look tense and upset,” Matt observed.  “In fact, you look more relaxed than I’ve seen you in ages.”  His bright green eyes studied her intently, trying to imagine what was going on in her head.

“I’ll tell you about it later,” Trixie said with another smile.  “We can talk over dinner at home.”

“Sounds like a plan.”




Upon arrival at their apartment, Matt headed straight for the freezer.  He pushed a couple of things aside until he found the package he sought.  Pulling it out of its frozen home, he read the label and turned to set the oven.

Trixie followed him into the kitchen.  “What are you doing?”

Satisfied that the oven was preheating properly, Matt tilted the package so she could see it.  “This came a couple of days ago.  Your mother sent lasagna.”

Eyebrows shooting skyward, Trixie scurried over to verify his claim.  “Really?  Moms’ lasagna?”

“Better than eating out, huh?”

“Oh, God, yes!”  Trixie immediately began unwrapping the protective layers of foil until just the top cover remained, and dug out a cookie sheet to place under the disposable aluminum pan.

Matt, meanwhile, was looking through the refrigerator.  He stood and closed the door with a self-satisfied smirk before turning back to his companion.  “I know it takes a while to heat, but I figured tonight was a good night, since we’re home so much earlier than usual.”

“It’s perfect, Matt,” Trixie smiled over her shoulder.  She slid the tray into the oven and set the timer.  “I’ll check for salad ingredients.  I may have to run to the store, but…”

“I have a better plan.”  Matt leaned against the fridge door so she couldn’t open it.  “I want to get out of this damned suit, and I’m sure you would rather change into something more comfortable.  So we go do that, take our time, and then have dessert first.”

Trixie frowned.  “Dessert first?”

“Chocolate chip cheesecake from Caffe Palermo.”

She felt instantaneous drool.  “That’s… you’re just lucky I’m not a diet freak.”

“Is it a deal, then?” he asked.  “Dessert in the living room in one hour?”


They each headed for their respective bedroom suites.  Trixie closed her door behind her and removed the jacket to her business suit.  As she dropped it in her dry cleaning basket, she noted how full it was.  Thinking Matt’s had to be just as bad, she made a mental note to make a drop-off the next day.  Stowing her shoes in the three-tiered shoe cabinet in her walk-in closet, she wondered how she could possibly take an hour to change her clothes.  Then a thought occurred to her.

She meandered into the large, full bathroom and stared at the deep whirlpool tub.  It was luxurious, the perfect place to soak away the tensions of life, and she rarely took the time to use it.  Most days she ran in and out of the walk-in shower as quickly as she could while still managing to get clean.  Impulsively, she stepped over to the tub and turned on the water.

Once her decision had been made, she set about preparations as methodically as she did everything else in her life.  She adjusted the temperature, added bubble bath, and set out towels.  Then she went back to her closet and gathered comfortable clothes, which she laid out on her bed.  Returning to the bathroom, she began to mechanically unpin and unbraid the full length of her hair.  By the time she was ready to enter the tub, it was full of steaming water and fluffy white bubbles.

As she sank into the bath, the scents of vanilla and peach wafted her way.  Inhaling deeply, she allowed the favored smells to add to the relaxation.  It was decadent to sit in a tub and do nothing, but if felt so good.  Why did some part of her feel guilty about it?

Guilt was an emotion.  Business decisions were based on rational logic.  Deciding to employ business criteria to her actions, Trixie became analytical.  The reason employed for allotment of vacation days to valued employees involved preventing burnout, and allowing time to rest and recharge, in order to get better productivity during the working days.  By those criteria, she was due for some serious resting and recharging.

Taking time to do anything for herself went against the grain for Trixie.  On the other hand, she had to admit that there were times when it made a difference.  She couldn’t count the time she’d taken off after Christmas, because she hadn’t been resting or recharging.  Technically, that time had been charged to her sick leave balance, not her vacation time. 

A couple of weeks earlier, however, when she and Matt had spent the day in Sleepyside, riding horses and then visiting her parents, she had felt energized.  The following week had been the most productive she’d had in ages.

If she were looking at someone else, she would tell them they needed to take a few days off.  Hell, if it were Matt she’d slap him down and demand he take some time off.  So why did she think it was wrong for her to take any time for herself?

What was she afraid of, anyway?  Was she afraid that a few days of girl time with Diana would make her feel human again?  That it would feel good to giggle and gab?  That was it, really.  Part of her still believed that she had no right to feel good.

Coming to that conclusion, and knowing that going on the trip was the rational thing to do, didn’t help.  All it did was bring her face-to-face with her own insecurities.  She needed to talk to Matt.

The water had grown tepid, so she arose from the tub and pulled the plug.  She popped into the shower stall to rinse off the bubbles and quickly clean up.  Enjoying the hot water, she took the time to lather conditioner into her hair, not quite rinsing it out, so that a brush could actually get through the long locks without becoming hopelessly stuck.  Toweling off, she left the bathroom.  A few minutes later she arrived in the living room, casual and relaxed but with a frown on her face.

Matt turned from the bottle of wine he was uncorking to see a beautiful nymph float into the room.  Trixie was wearing an old pair of pajamas, one that predated her obsession with black clothing.  The light blue pants were a bit long for her petite frame, and appeared even longer due to the way the waist was slung low on the curve of her hips.  The thin spaghetti straps barely held the top up on her generous bosom.  The top wasn’t quite long enough to reach the bottoms, exposing a wide strip of skin across her flat stomach.  She was rubbing her hair with a towel as she walked, arms raised above her head, increasing the gap between the pieces of the pajamas.  Over the outfit, she had donned a short, white terrycloth robe, primarily as a barrier between her skin and her wet hair.  The untied robe billowed like a cape behind her as she stepped across the floor, dancing with the sway of her hips.

Desperately needing a distraction from his reaction to her appearance, Matt focused instead on the frown she wore.  “What’s wrong, Trixie?”

Trixie nearly stumbled, so startled was she by the sound of his voice.  She had been so lost in her own reverie that she hadn’t noticed he was already in the room.  She looked up at him, and suddenly her need to talk evaporated behind a wall of nerves.  She looked away, wondering if she could even discuss her thoughts with him, and knowing that if she couldn’t talk to him, she couldn’t talk to anyone.  She returned her gaze to his face, a plea for understanding in her bright blue eyes.  “I need to talk.”

Studying the nervousness tinged with fear that danced across her features, Matt sought to make her more comfortable.  The disheveled hair gave him the perfect distraction.  “Where’s your brush?”

She smiled gratefully.  It was a short, simple smile, but it was so reminiscent of the joyful person she’d once been that it took his breath away.  As she pulled the brush from the pocket of her robe and handed it to him, Matt wished for the ability to bring the smiles back to the majority of her life.  He seated himself on the couch, and she made herself comfortable on the floor in front of him, allowing her to hide behind her hair while baring her soul.

Trixie brought her knees up to her chest, crossed her arms over them, and rested her head on her arms.  The towel was set aside, and her hair fell loose.  The waist-length tresses reached to the ground, creating a veil… or a good imitation of Cousin Itt, depending upon how you looked at it.  She closed her eyes as Matt began to brush, savoring the feel of his hands as they separated the strands into manageable sections.  “Diana called.”

Knowing she needed to lighten up, Matt opted for dripping sarcasm.  “Really?  And here I was, so certain you picked up the phone and called her yourself.”

She snorted, then smacked him in the leg.  “Brat.”

Matt smiled at her good humor.  “So, what did Diana have to say?”

“She wants me to do something with her next week.”

“At school?”

“She doesn’t have school next week.”

Matt’s confusion was plain to hear in his voice.  “Why not?”

Trixie chewed on her lower lip and sighed deeply.  Deliberately turning her face further into her arms to muffle her voice, she said, “Tomorrow’s Good Friday.”

Startled into silence, Matt’s hands kept moving automatically while his mind wandered.  Where has the time gone? he wondered.  Not that he’d been in the mood to celebrate holidays, but it seemed so many had come and gone without notice in the last few years.  Returning to the conversation with an effort, he asked, “Is she coming home for Easter?”

“No.”  Trixie started to shake her head, then caught herself.  Forcing herself to remain still so as not to disturb his task, she continued, “Di’s flying to Chicago and spending Easter with Dan there.  But he has school next week and she doesn’t, so she’s kind of at loose ends.”

Matt narrowed his eyes.  He could see Diana asking Trixie to take off of work, but not to skip classes.  That meant… “You’re off school next week, too.”

Trixie cringed.  “Yeah.”

Fighting to hold his considerable temper in check, Matt said, “A fact you deliberately neglected to mention when I was planning this business trip.”

Hunching her shoulders further, Trixie admitted it.  “Yeah.”

“Your school wouldn’t give two weeks this late in the semester.  That means this year has a split break, and you had a whole week already.”  Between gritted teeth, he asked, “When was that, Trixie?”

Again, Trixie cringed.  He was so angry, as she’d known he’d be.  She didn’t like it when he was angry at her for good reason.  Arguing with him was almost fun, but having lied to him hurt them both.  In a near whisper, she answered, “When you were gone.”

Matt’s quick-fire temper was about to explode when he noticed the way Trixie was holding herself, practically cowering in fear.  It was like a giant needle, piercing the bubble of his anger and instantly deflating it.  It made Matt sick to think of her being afraid of him.  Nonetheless, he sat back and pulled the hairbrush away from her to keep himself from rapping her over the head with it in his frustration.

The remnants of his anger appeared in the bitterness of his voice.  “If you lied about it before, and were planning on lying about it next week, then why are we having this conversation?  What changed?”

Hesitantly, Trixie lifted her head off her arms.  “I started thinking about spending time with Di, just a couple of girlfriends.”

When his only response was silence, perhaps even patient silence, Trixie continued.  “I wondered what that would feel like.  I wondered…”

Matt waited for her to continue.  When she didn’t he gently prodded, “Wondered what?”

“If it would be wrong to want something so normal.”

Her voice cracked on “normal” and it broke his heart.  He moved from the couch to the floor and gathered her in his arms.  Tears ran down his face as he said, “No, sweetheart!  No, no, no, it’s not wrong!”  He kissed her forehead.  “I’d send you on a thousand trips if it would help you feel normal.”

Trixie looked up at him with tears in her eyes.  “I’ve taken off so much time lately…”

Matt became stern again.  “No.  You’ve taken sick time.  Vacation is completely different.”  Then his expression became gentle, and he stroked the side of her cheek.  “Besides, I won’t have you killing yourself for the sake of my business.”

Her eyes sought guidance.  “Should I go?”

“Absolutely!”  Matt smiled.  “You should go, and have the time of your life!”





Friday, April 3, 1999

New York, New York



Coffee in hand, Trixie headed to the living room to watch the sunrise.  Halfway across the room, something caught her eye and made her change course.  The luxury penthouse was tastefully decorated with expensive pieces of art.  Hanging in their midst, and looking quite out of place, was a simple jigsaw puzzle.  After Trixie and her friends had spent a wonderful afternoon putting it together, Matt had had the puzzle glued and framed.  Rearranging his artwork, he’d hung it on the wall in a place of honor to remind Trixie of the simple joys of friendship.

This morning the sky outside was cloudy, hinting that the sunrise would be lukewarm at best.  Instead of being drawn to the large picture window, as usual, it seemed to Trixie this morning that the puzzle was calling to her.  The prism of colors dancing in the legendary mist of the great cataract drew her in.  She stared at the familiar image with wonder and awe.

Which was exactly how Matt found her fifteen minutes later.

Walking up behind her, staring over her shoulder at the puzzle, an idea popped into his head.  Hiding a sneaky grin behind his coffee cup, Matt asked, “Have you and Diana ever taken a trip together, just the two of you?”

So captivated by the vision before her that she imagined she could hear the roar of the crashing water, Trixie merely shook her.

“Don’t I own a hotel there?” Matt asked nonchalantly.

Unconsciously, Trixie accessed information from the real estate reports she’d been compiling earlier in the week.  Shaking her head again, she answered, “No.  You have a deal on the table to purchase a hotel on the Canadian side and upgrade it.”

Staring at the beauty of the falls, Matt grunted.  “How well have I researched that hotel?  Anywhere near as well as Mead’s Mountain?”

Still thinking of the reports, it took a minute before Trixie registered Matt’s real meaning.  Startled, she turned to look at his face, glimmers of hope and excitement shining in her eyes.  “Really?”

Green eyes twinkling merrily, Matt asked, “If I make it an actual business trip, will you stop feeling guilty?”

Expertly avoiding spilling their coffees, Trixie smiled and threw her arms around him.  “Thank you, Matt!  Thank you, thank you!!”

She’d smiled at him. 

Matt returned her hug, awestruck.  Not a shadow of a smile.  Not a hint of a smile.  An honest to goodness, bright, shiny, happy smile.  He might have wept tears of joy, except he was too busy smiling himself.




There was genuine excitement to be heard in her voice when Trixie called Diana a mere two hours later.  “Di, did you have anything specific in mind when you asked about next week?”

“No, not really,” Di said.  She was hesitant to pressure Trixie.  “Just something relaxing.”

Trixie leaned back and twirled the phone cord around her finger.  “Well, Matt has this hotel he’s looking at buying, and he suggested we could review it for him like we did at Mead’s Mountain.”

Di couldn’t keep the disappointment out of her voice.  “Oh.  You want to go on a business trip.”

Wanting to build the suspense, Trixie paused, but she couldn’t contain herself.  “To Niagara Falls!”

“Oh, Trixie,” Di breathed, hearing the smile in her friend’s voice.  “REALLY?”



Seated at his desk, Matt Wheeler was one hundred percent certain he could hear a squeal across the phone lines and straight through the closed door between his office and Trixie’s.  Unless, of course, the squeal was so loud that he was hearing it straight from Boston without the aid of the telephone.

Chuckling to himself, he answered the ring of his own phone.  “Wheeler.”

Amused at the irony, Matt listened to the jolly voice on the other end of the line.  When the speaker explained his reason for calling, Matt leaned back with a happy smile.  “Funny you should ask…”








Author's Notes:

Thanks to Trish and Bonnie for editing.  Your rush job due to my last-minute insanity is very much appreciated.  And I hope Bonnie never quits, even though I only follow half of her suggestions.

This is being published in honor of my sixth Jixaversary.  I'm a nut, so I decided to post something in every uni.  Mostly, it's about being very grateful to be a member of this fantastic group of talented authors and this very supportive community.  I love it here, and I love all of you.

The title is from Titus Andronicus, Act IV, Scene iii, line 30. 


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