It Comes Back At You


Chapter 1


September, 1995


It was the beginning of a new school year.  Trixie Belden and her best friends, Honey Wheeler and Diana Lynch, were sophomores at Sleepyside Junior-Senior High School.  Her brother, Mart, and their friend, Dan Mangan, were juniors.  These friends were in a club together, the Bob-Whites of the Glen, along with two other members: Trixie’s brother Brian and Honey’s brother Jim Frayne, who had gone away to college and were freshman at Boston University.

The first week of school flew by.  Mart and Dan had several classes together, as did Honey and Di.  Trixie’s schedule was quite a mess, so she only saw the others at lunch.  At first she thought she wanted to rearrange her schedule, especially when she realized she had managed to get herself into both Spanish and French.  But after the first two chaotic days, she decided she liked things just the way they were.

At lunch on Friday, she tried to explain this to Honey.  “I thought it would be confusing, but it’s not.  Spanish 3 is a challenge, and I really want to learn it better.  But after three years of Spanish, French 1 is actually easy.  They are so similar it’s like a refresher course.  I can see how the languages are related, and suddenly a lot of the rules make so much more sense.  And when it makes sense, it’s exciting!  I’m really enjoying it.”

“But that’s what’s screwing up your schedule,” Honey lamented.  “If you would just drop French, you could switch into my Math and English Lit sections.”

“You don’t have Ms. Watkins for English Lit.  She’s just great.  I don’t want to leave her class.”  Trixie pleaded with Honey to understand.  “I like my classes.  I like my teachers.  I like school!”

Mart looked at Dan and Di.  They were all trying to figure out if they should get involved in this conversation.  Mart thought about the fact that his parents would be thrilled that Trixie was taking an interest in school.  Besides, if she had no classes with Honey and Di she couldn’t discuss mysteries or Bob-White matters during school time.  On the other hand, Honey was clearly taking this issue as an abandonment of their friendship.  How do I tactfully tell Miss Tact to butt out and leave Trixie alone?

Fortunately, Di came to his rescue.  “Honey, just think.  By having different teachers for English Lit we can compare notes and maybe help each other understand.  And really, Trixie could not handle math with Mr. Babcock.  She’s really better off in Mrs. McMahon’s section.”

Honey looked at Diana.  She realized what Di was trying to do.  She looked at Dan, then Mart.  Mart was pleading with her with his eyes.  Honey drew in a shaky breath.  “Okay, Trixie.  If this is the way you want it, that’s fine.”

Dan decided now was a good time to change the topic.  “Okay.  Now, what time are we meeting at the clubhouse tomorrow morning?”

Trixie hesitated.  “Well…”

Dan’s eyes narrowed.  “Do you have plans you need us to work around, Madame President?”

Trixie lowered her eyes.  “I have a study date at 11:00.  It’s for a group project for French class.  It will take a couple of hours.  I can meet any time before or after that.”

Dan raised an eyebrow.  The fact that Trixie would not meet his eyes was making him a little suspicious.  What did she not want them to know about this study date?  “Really?  Is it a large group?  Are you meeting at your house?”

Trixie was doodling on her napkin.  She stared at the paper and never looked up.  “No… well it’s just two of us.”  There was a long pause.  “Tad Webster and I will be studying at Mrs. Vanderpoel’s,” she finished in a rush.

There was a moment of silence.  Trixie dared to look at Mart.  He was staring across the cafeteria in Tad’s direction, eyes narrowed, and his expression indicated a clear threat.

Honey, fighting back both anger and hurt, grabbed her things and stormed out of the cafeteria.  Di looked around at the others, unsure what to do, before following Honey.

Trixie finally met Dan’s eyes.  Help!!

Dan’s expression softened.  He looked back and forth between Trixie and Mart for a moment, then sighed.  He looked at Trixie and let her know with a nod, I’ll take care of Mart.

Trixie flashed one of her most brilliant smiles at Dan, with a look of gratitude.  “I’ve got to run.  I’ll see you after school.”  Then she flew out of the cafeteria.

Dan stared after her, then looked at Mart.  This is going to be a looong year.



On her way out of the cafeteria, Trixie was stopped by Merrissa Parkman.  Merrissa was a senior and the star of the girls’ basketball team.  She was tall, 6’1”, with long, black hair she wore in a braid straight down her back.  She was thin but muscular, and she towered over the petite, curly-haired blonde.

“Trixie, I need you to do me a favor,” Merrissa said.

Trixie looked up at her curiously.  What could Merrissa Parkman possibly want from me?

Aloud she said, “How can I help you, Merrissa?”

The taller girl looked her over.  She seemed to hesitate, then nodded as if she’d made up her mind about something.  “Do you know about the informal two-on-two basketball tournament Coach Epperly is holding after school?”

The little blonde nodded.  “Sure.  He holds it every year to recruit new players.”

Merrissa took a deep breath.  “My partner from last year graduated.  I need someone to play in the tournament with me, and you can’t partner with another member of the team.”  Okay, little white lie, Merrissa thought.  She continued, “I’d like you to be my partner.  Will you meet me in the gym after school?”

Trixie’s jaw dropped.  She stared up at the older girl, searching Merrissa’s face for signs that she was mocking her.  Seeing none, she stammered, “Uh, sure, Merrissa… I guess I could… I mean, if you’re sure…”

Merrissa nodded once.  “Good.  See you there at 3:15.”  With that she turned and rushed off down the hall.

Trixie stared after her.  Then she turned and slowly walked down the hall, shaking her head.  Merrissa Parkman wouldn’t play with just anyone.  What on earth made her ask me?

Trixie’s next class was French.  As she sat down in her seat, Tad leaned over.  “Mrs. Vanderpoel said for you to bring Bobby with you tomorrow.  She wants to visit with him.”

Trixie shook her thoughts about Merrissa Parkman away so she could focus on what Tad was saying.  That brought her thoughts back to the scene in the lunchroom.  She spoke softly, “You might want to avoid Mart for a while.”

Tad looked into her deep blue eyes and saw the worry there.  He thought about her protective big brothers, and could just imagine what was going through Mart’s mind.  Touched that Trixie seemed concerned about him, he smiled reassuringly.  “Don’t worry about him.  I’ll let him know that he shouldn’t worry about you.”

Trixie snorted, “As if he’ll take your word for it.”

Just then Madame James called the class to order.  Tad and Trixie turned their attention to the teacher and began to concentrate on the class.  Halfway through class, Tad tilted his notebook toward Trixie.  Trixie stifled a giggle as she read his note, “I’m not afraid of the Big, Bad Mart.”



At the dismissal bell, Trixie headed for her locker.  Since Honey and Diana’s lockers were right nearby, all the Bob-Whites gathered there at the end of the day.  By the time she arrived, everyone else was waiting.

“Hey, Trix, look alive,” Mart called out to her.  “Does my diminutive sibling recollect our imminent assignation with the illustrious educational administrator for this fine establishment?”

Trixie gave Mart a blank look.  Then she furrowed her brow.  “Why were we meeting with Principal Stratton, again?”

Honey stared at her friend like she had grown an extra head.  “Trixie, you wanted to ask Mr. Stratton about the Bob-Whites finding some type of fundraiser for the athletic department, remember?”

Trixie had a far away look in her eyes.  She started to say something, then stopped.  She was frantically trying to process random thoughts, and nothing was coming together into a coherent sentence.

Just then Mr. Stratton came up to them.  “Well hello, kids!”

The B.W.G.s turned to greet their principal, smiling and saying, “Hello.”

Mr. Stratton looked down at Trixie.  “I guess you need to reschedule our appointment for this afternoon, heh, Trixie?” he asked.

Trixie looked up at him, startled.  Seeing the confusion in her eyes, Mr. Stratton grinned.  “Merrissa Parkman informed me that your presence will be needed in the main gym this afternoon, to help with her, uh, project for the athletic department.”  Mr. Stratton’s eyes twinkled.  “Have fun, Trixie.  Good luck.”

With a wave of his hand, he headed off down the hallway.  The rest of the Bob-Whites turned to Trixie, seeking an explanation.  Mart raised a questioning eyebrow.  “And when, pray tell, did you chance to speak with the fair Miss Parkman?”

Trixie looked at her shoes.  “She stopped me on the way out of lunch and practically ordered me to help her this afternoon.  Who says no to Merrissa Parkman?”  She looked up beseechingly, willing her friends to understand.

Honey issued a low whistle.  “You’re right.  No one says no to Merrissa Parkman.  Well, since we wanted to help the athletic department today, why don’t we all head to the gym?”

The other Bob-Whites nodded, curious as to how Trixie would be helping.  They were actually aware of the tournament, and its use as a recruiting tactic for the sports program.  Unlike Trixie, they were also aware that it was a co-ed tournament.  Mart had considered entering, but didn’t think Dan would be interested.  The gang figured Trixie had been recruited for her organizational skills, or to help scoring.

Trixie turned to her locker.  She took a deep breath before she grabbed her gym bag out of her locker and slammed the door.  She pasted a smile on her face before turning to her friends.  “Well, come on then, let’s go!”

She then took off down the hall towards the gym at full speed.

The Bob-Whites hurried after Trixie, but by the time they reached the gym she was nowhere in sight.  They climbed into the bleachers and looked around.  Honey and Di admired some of the male basketball players, while Mart and Dan sized up the field of players.  Most of the teams were made up of one boy and one girl, while several teams were two boys.

Dan nodded toward the sign-in table.  “Mart, you want to jump in?”

Mart’s eyes lit up.  He grinned at his friend and said, “Let’s go!  I’ll go sign in while you get changed.”

Honey was still looking around for Trixie.  She noticed Merrissa Parkman at the sign-in table, but couldn’t tell who her partner was.

After a few minutes, Diana nudged her.  “Look at Mart.  He looks like he’s trying not to laugh, but he also looks annoyed.  What do you think his problem is?”

Honey shrugged.  Mart had met Dan at the door to the locker room.  After a hurried conference, Mart headed inside and Dan headed over towards the girls.  Now he had a strange look on his face.

When he reached the girls, he spoke quietly.  “You are not going to believe this!  Every year this tournament is won by someone from the boys’ varsity basketball team; usually a team of two boys.  Once the star of the girls’ varsity paired with the captain of the boys’ varsity, and they won.  There has never even been a two-girl team entered in this tournament, but guess who’s starting a new trend?”

A look of horror spread over Diana’s pretty face.  She glanced across the gym at Merrissa.  “Oh, no! She wouldn’t!”

Just then Trixie, dressed to play, joined Merrissa on the sidelines.  Honey nodded vigorously.  “Oh, yes, she would!”  She smiled.  Of course her best friend had the guts to buck the status quo.

The various teams were paired up and assigned to their playing locations.  They had the courts divided in half, and were using the main gym, the auxiliary gym, and the outdoor courts.  Eight games could be held at once, and 32 teams had signed up.  Mart and Dan had to play their first game in the auxiliary gym against a senior varsity player who had paired up with his little sister.  Merrissa and Trixie were sent outdoors to play against two sophomore boys from the J.V. squad. 

As they reached the outdoor court, the boys snickered.  Merrissa gave them a piercing glare.  Trixie had been looking very nervous until that point.  Now she felt a wave of determination come over her.  Her face hardened, and her chin jutted forward.  Merrissa noticed the change, and relaxed a little.  She was beginning to believe she had chosen well.

The games lasted about 20 minutes, and as they finished, the next set of first round games started.  The losing teams either left or went to the bleachers to watch.  The winners returned to the main gym to rest up and await their next match-ups.

Dan and Mart headed over to Honey and Diana.  They were winded, and a little hot and sweat, but grinning from ear to ear.

Diana smiled and asked, “So, did you wipe the floor with them?”

Mart shook his head.  “No, it wasn’t that easy.  The varsity guy, Steve, was really good.  He expected to win hands-down.  We barely beat him.”

Dan smirked.  “That just makes the victory all the sweeter.”  The friends laughed.

Just then there was a commotion at the scoring table.  The sophomore boys that had been playing against Trixie and Merrissa were there, red-faced, and arguing with Coach Epperly, the umpire for the tournament.  Then they stormed out of the gym.  Meanwhile, Merrissa and Trixie entered and calmly walked to the water fountain.  They exuded confidence and triumph.

Mart’s jaw dropped.  Honey smiled, happy for her best friend.  She looked at Mart and said mischievously, “Hmmm, I wonder who you’ll have to beat next…”

Twenty minutes later, the rest of the first round games were over.  The scoring table was busy for several minutes, while teams were paired for their next rounds.  The new assignments were announced and the teams headed for their next games.  This time Mart and Dan went outside to play a co-ed team.  Merrissa and Trixie were again sent outside, this time to play a team made up of a boy and girl who each played varsity.

Since their friends were all playing outside this time, Honey and Di also headed outside to watch.  At first they tried to split their attention between the two games, but they gave up; it was just too fascinating to watch Trixie and Merrissa.

The two girls appeared to be so mismatched.  Merrissa was tall, thin, wiry, and very obviously built for basketball.  Trixie was short and sturdy, and so tiny that no one expected her to be able to reach the basket.  When she held the ball with both hands, it looked large, whereas the ball looked tiny when Merrissa palmed it.  Despite their differences, however, they were the perfect team.  It was as if they could read each other’s minds.  While Merrissa towered over the girl on the other team, Trixie could have run beneath the legs of the boy.  She darted quickly around and under arms and legs, flawlessly getting the ball to Merrissa so she could dunk it.  When Trixie stopped near the opposite basket to fire a shot at her own, the ball swished through the hoop.

The second round flew by.  Once again the winners gathered in the main gym to get their new assignments.  Now they were down to eight teams, so the four games could be played indoors between the two gyms.  Dan and Mart, surprised to have made it this far, were pleased to be assigned to the main gym for their next game.  Merrissa and Trixie went to the auxiliary gym.

By the time this round was over the participants were quite tired, so a break was called.  Again, all the Bob-White players had made it to the next round.

Once everyone had caught their breath, the next pairings were announced.  Down to four teams, the play had been condensed to just the main gym.  On one half would play the two favored teams, all varsity boys’ players.  On the other half, Mart and Dan would play against Merrissa and Trixie.

Honey and Diana watched intently.  “This should be interesting,” Honey muttered.  “Who are you cheering for?”

Di grinned wickedly.  “Trix, of course.  Mart needs a serious comeuppance from his baby sister.”  Both girls giggled.

Meanwhile, Merrissa was observing the situation.  She studied her partner.  Trixie was clearly nervous.  Throughout the day, and even through the last couple of years, the older girl had observed Trixie to be smart, strong, skilled, tough, determined, and able to accomplish anything to which she put her mind; however, all this was overshadowed by a serious lack of self-esteem and self-confidence.

The boys provided another interesting picture.  Mart was supremely confident, both of his own skills and of his ability to beat his sister.  He looked gleeful at the prospect of putting “the girls” in their place.  Dan, however, was wary.  He was sizing up the girls, looking for weaknesses, and trying to determine their strategy.

The warrior in Merrissa battled with her desire to nurture the younger girl.  She wanted to win this tournament, she really did, and she knew she could probably beat Mart and Dan with minimal help from Trixie.  However, if they went to the finals she would need a lot of help from the younger girl, and the little blonde pixie would need to be a lot more self-assured. 

She decided that helping Trixie would be the better path right now.  Trixie needed to be the lead, the strong player.  She needs to be the one who actually beats the pants off cocky Mart Belden.  If anyone could upset Trixie’s concentration, it would be Mart.

Her decision made, she formulated her strategy.  Antagonizing Mart should effectively throw him off balance.  He would be easy-pickings.  That would leave Dan vs. Trixie.  Dan was good, but not quite as good as Mart.  And Trixie was better than she thought.  This would be a fairly even match-up, even if Dan had a good height advantage.  He was a decent height, about 5’11”, compared to Trixie’s 5’2”.

As play began, Merrissa threw the ball to Trixie and moved off to block Mart.  She began taunting him, making comments about him being unable to be a big enough man to beat the girls.  He became distracted and missed a great opportunity to steal the ball from his sister.  As play continued, so did the pattern.  The more frustrated Mart got, the worse he played.

Dan kept his cool for a long time.  He had figured out what Merrissa was doing, and he wasn’t going to let it bother him.  He concentrated on playing against Trixie, blocking her and shooting when he got the ball.  Merrissa was calm, cool, and collected; she was letting Trixie control the game, but she was there to assist whenever needed.  If Trixie needed an extra hand, she had it.  Mart was not calm, and not being helpful at all.  Dan’s frustration grew.

Proportionately, so did Trixie’s self-confidence.  She was now several points in the lead, and really wanted to prove a point to Mart.  She grabbed a rebound off a shot Dan missed from right under the basket, turned toward her basket and, without moving a step, shot the ball clear across the court.  Nothing but net!!

That was the breaking point in the game.  Merrissa knew her partner was right where she needed to be, so she gave up taunting Mart and returned to normal play.  Mart and Dan were both too upset to play well, and Trixie was in her element.  The boys had no chance now.

When the game ended, Trixie was ecstatic.  Clobbering Mart had felt sooo good!  Merrissa enveloped Trixie in a huge bear hug.  Mart and Dan were aggravated, frustrated, and embarrassed.  They were being a little too macho to admit that they were also impressed.  Not even bothering with the customary handshake of congratulations, they slowly wandered over to the bleachers to join Honey and Di.

The final game was scheduled to begin after a brief intermission.  Merrissa and Trixie were playing against the co-captains of the boys’ varsity team, Chris Zack and Paul Andrews.  Every person in the gym was sure that Chris and Paul would win, but they felt there would be some entertainment value in the contest.

Merrissa was sure that she and Trixie would win.  All she had to do was convince Trixie.

Pulling her aside, Merrissa asked, “How do you feel?”

Trixie smiled.  “Like I could take on the world!” she exclaimed breathlessly.

This is a good sign, thought Merrissa.  She looked Trixie squarely in the eye.  “Listen, I practice with these two every week.  Chris is great, but he can’t catch a rebound.  And Paul can’t defend on the left.  And they’re tired.  Skill-wise, we actually have a real chance.  The important thing right now is to stay confident.  Do not lose that spark, Belden.  Your excitement will carry this game!”  She grinned.  “On that note, let’s go kick some varsity ass!”

Trixie grinned back at the older girl.  She was having a really great day, even if she lost this game.  She had nothing to lose, and everything to win.  Play ball!

As play began, the other Bob-Whites sat on the bleachers and kibitzed.  Mart was still sulking, and was determined not to admit how good his sister was.

"There is no way those girls are going to beat the captains of the varsity boys’ team!” he exclaimed, for the fourth time.

Honey and Di were getting a little tired of the way he sneered his way through the word “girls.”

“Come off it, Mart!” Di sputtered angrily.  “Your baby sister is going to beat the pants off the boys, and I am going to love every minute of it.  Almost as much as I loved watching her slam-dunk you!”

Mart started to say something in response, but then thought better of it.  If Diana, of all people, had loved watching him be humiliated, perhaps he needed to come down a peg or two.  Then he noticed the nasty looks others around the gym were giving his sister.  That was just unacceptable: only he could make fun of his sister like that!

Deciding that these spectators needed to be shown a thing or two, Mart changed his opinion of the game.  He would root for his sister.  She could do this.  This was Trixie, after all.

For most of the game, play stayed evenly matched, and the score was usually tied.  This surprised a lot of people who had expected the boys to pulverize the girls, despite having watched the girls play all afternoon.  All the players were starting to get tired, and Trixie was beginning to have her doubts about her team’s ability to win this contest.  Just then, the ball went out of bounds and landed in Mart’s lap.  Trixie went to retrieve it.

As Trixie grabbed the ball, Mart winked at her.  “Come on, Trix.  You can do this!” he said softly as he handed off to her.

Trixie was startled.  Mart was encouraging her?  She looked at her brother again, and he smiled at her.  She smiled back.  Thanks, Mart.  That was just what I needed!

Trixie came back on the court with a renewed burst of energy.  The little spitfire flashed in and around the other players.  She threw shot after shot, without missing.  The boys never knew what hit them.  When the game finally ended, the girls had won handily!

Merrissa grabbed Trixie in a bear hug.  “Yes!! Thank you, Trixie, thank you,” she yelled.

Chris Zack came up to Trixie to shake her hand in congratulations.  “You know, Trix, we need a fourth for our practice workouts.  Merrissa and Paul practice twice a week playing two-on-two with me, but my partner graduated last year.  Would you like to be my new partner?”

Trixie stared up at Chris.  Did he actually just ask me that? Trixie has having a little trouble breathing.  After all, this was Chris Zack!  Chris was the captain of the varsity basketball team, a star of the track team, drop-dead gorgeous, and the guy nearly every girl at Sleepyside Junior-Senior High dreamed about.  And he had just asked little Trixie Belden to become part of his inner circle!

Finally finding her voice, Trixie answered breathlessly.  “That sounds great, Chris.  I’ll be there, any time, anywhere.  Just let me know.”

Chris’ heart skipped a beat at the breathlessness in her voice.  He gazed down at the brightest blue eyes he had ever seen.  How had he missed noticing this girl before? Oh, yeah.  Because he only bothered to look at people in the sports crowd, and she hadn’t been “in” before.  He really needed to broaden his horizons.

He smiled charmingly.  “Every Tuesday and Thursday, we meet at the Community Center right after school.  We practice in the small gym while the Squirts league uses the main gym.  Didn’t I see a Belden signed up for Squirts?”

Trixie furrowed her brow.  “Oh, I remember now.  Moms said she was signing my little brother up for that league, and I have to pick him up after practice those days.”

“Perfect,” Chris smiled.  “You play with me, and when the little kids are done I'll drive you and your brother home.”

“Deal!” Trixie flashed him a disarming grin and stuck out her hand to shake.  Chris felt his heart do a flip-flop.

“I have to go, Trixie, but I will see you Tuesday.”  Chris said as he shook her hand.  He held it a little longer than perhaps he should have, then he turned and ran off toward the locker room.

Trixie was completely unaware of the affect she was having on Chris.  She only knew that her entire world had just turned upside-down.  This year was already so different from how she had expected it to be!  She headed off to the locker room to change.

Mart Belden had come down off the bleachers and had gotten close enough to hear every word of the exchange between his sister and Chris.  He had seen the way Chris had been affected by Trixie’s breathless voice, her sparkle, and her beguiling smile.  He had watched him be entranced by her eyes.  And he noticed how clueless Trixie was about the whole thing.  Mart frowned.  He saw trouble brewing.

Honey and Diana had also caught the exchange.  “Did you see that?” Honey exclaimed.  “Chris Zack just claimed Trixie’s afternoons for the entire year.  Oh, I am so jealous, but not half as jealous as every cheerleader is going to be!  Just think how much time she’ll be spending with him.  Wow!”  Di nodded her head vigorously.

Dan sighed deeply.  Just because the Bob-White boys knew how amazing Trixie was, didn’t mean they wanted the entire male population to notice.  It was beginning to look like the only way to control Big Brother Mart was going to be to lock Trixie in her room for the rest of the year.  As if that would work!

A silent figure behind the bleachers had observed every move Trixie made all day.  Now he slipped quietly away.




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