that evening, after several visitors had come and gone, only the Beldens
and the Bob-Whites remained. Trixie
found Dan sulking alone in the dining room, leaning against the picture
window, hands shoved deep into his pockets, staring out at nothing in
particular. “So, what dire
thoughts are you thinking?” she asked casually.
looked broodingly away from her piercing gaze.
“Just wondering how your life would have been different if I’d
never come here.”
easy,” she said breezily. “Bobby
would have been killed by the catamount, and I would have been killed by
Blinky, Pedro and Big Tony in New York.
cynically, Dan shook his head. “You
make it sound so easy. But
your life is in jeopardy because of me.”
snorted. “And how many
times have you people been in danger because of me?”
not the same,” Dan protested.
stood in front of him, hands on hips, staring up into his face with angry
eyes. “Why not?
What makes it okay for you he-men to risk your lives for my sake,
but not okay for me or anyone else to do the same for you?”
broke away from her angry gaze and stared at the ground for a long time.
His eyes were moist as he whispered hoarsely, “I’m not worth
brilliant blue fire blazed brighter.
“How dare you!” she spat at him.
“How dare you belittle my choice of friends like that?
How dare you dishonor the worth of a Bob-White?
If you think, even for one brief moment, that I will let anyone
talk about one of my brothers like that, you’re just plain crazy.
Get over it, Daniel! Wake
up, and realize that you are my friend, my brother; I love you; and I
would lay down my life for you. You’re
worth that much, at the very least!”
troubled former street-kid heard the words of the all-American family
girl, and they shook him to his core.
The Belden family was the ideal of troubled teens everywhere. For Trixie Belden to put him on par with her own brothers was
the greatest gift he could ever imagine.
His heart swelled.
out to hug her, he whispered in a choked voice, “So this is what it’s
like to be your brother?”
at all,” she replied, squeezing him tightly.
“If you were really my brother we’d fight more.
Instead, you get all the love without all the bitter rivalry.”
laughed, and the smile brightened his deep black eyes.
“How is it that the craziest person I know is the one who keeps
shrugged and grinned. “You
pull me down from my flights of fancy; I pull you up from your bouts of
depression,” she said lightly. “We
have a perfect balance.”
dropped a kiss on her forehead. “I
love you, Trix. I’d be lost
don’t go anywhere,” she said mock-sternly.
Softly, she added, “I hate it when people leave me.”
saw a flash of something in her eyes, but it was gone before he could
decide what it was. He
wondered if she was talking about Brian or Jim.
Before he could ask she smiled and kissed his cheek.
“Besides, I’m going to need all the help I can get.”
eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Just
what do you think you’re going to do?”
batted her eyes innocently. “Why,
wasn’t buying the innocent act at all.
“Tell me, Miss Belden,” he ordered sternly. “If you choose not to cooperate, I have ways of making you
grinned and moved away. “You
wouldn’t dare,” she challenged.
reached out to tickle her, and she dodged.
Soon they were involved in an all-out chase from one end of the
house to the other, laughing and playing like the kids they were, their
troubles momentarily forgotten.
Bob-Whites had eventually settled in the living to watch a movie, and had
fallen asleep where they lay. In
the dead of night, Dan woke with a feeling of something being terribly
wrong. He sat up and looked
around the room, searching for anything out of place.
Then he realized something important was missing.
wake up!” he called. “Trixie’s
get real. She probably just
went to the bathroom,” Di mumbled.
looked up at him from his sprawled location and said, “She’ll kill you
for being overprotective, you know.”
snorted, “I guess that must be the voice of experience speaking.”
This earned a round of laughter from the others.
is Trixie we’re talking about,” Jim sighed.
“We should probably try to find her.”
check the bathroom,” Honey groaned as she rose slowly from her chair.
minutes later, the entire house was in a state of panic.
They couldn’t find her anywhere.
pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.
“Please tell me she wouldn’t have gone off on her own to try
and hunt him down,” he moaned.
snorted, “I thought you didn’t like us to lie to you.”
up, Mart!” Brian growled.
the police. I’m going to
check the clubhouse,” Dan ordered as he hurried out the door.
alone, you’re not!” Jim called, grabbing a flashlight and rushing
were a good distance from the house before Jim caught up with Dan.
Dan scowled and muttered nearly under his breath, “I don’t need
a damned babysitter.”
frowned fiercely. “I
shouldn’t have to explain to you why you shouldn’t go out here alone.
Even Bobby could explain it to you.
You want revenge on two people, one with a penchant for getting in
trouble, one with a penchant for rescuing her.
How do you get them both in one fell swoop?
It’s a no-brainer.”
don’t care if I get hurt.”
well, we do!” Jim yelled. Glancing
sideways at his friend, he shrugged and continued, “Besides, if I let
you go out here alone and you get hurt, she’ll beat me to a bloody pulp.
I’m more afraid of Trixie than Luke.”
suddenly burst out laughing, just as Jim had intended.
He stopped and turned to the redhead, reaching out his hand.
grasped the extended forearm in a manly embrace.
“That’s what friends are for.
I thought you learned that a long time ago, but obviously you
needed a refresher course.”
so,” Dan nodded. Then he
turned and continued toward the clubhouse.
“Shamus, on the other hand, needs a good swift kick in the
grinned and followed along. “Get
in line, Danny boy, get in line.”
huddled in a dark corner of the clubhouse, pondering her next move. She had been sitting by the living room window, listening to
the sounds of the house sleeping around her, when she spotted Luke out in
her mother’s front garden. He
had been spying on the house with binoculars, and rigging up some
contraption. She had quietly
slipped out of the house and followed him.
had finished his work and headed for the clubhouse.
She had waited outside and watched while he went in.
He went in and out quickly, grabbing a backpack he had apparently
left inside, before heading off into the woods.
Rather than trying to track him through the woods in the dark,
Trixie had gone into the clubhouse to look for clues to his movements.
she had found one of their scrapbooks spread open on the table.
There was a knife stabbed through a picture of Trixie, and fake
blood dripped everywhere. The
young detective pulled a flashlight from her pocket and examined the book
more closely. She realized
the blood was carefully placed: there were drops on every picture of
Trixie and on every picture of Dan, but nowhere else.
had no idea how long she sat there, knees pulled up to her chest,
thinking. She was startled from her reverie by the sound of footsteps
outside the clubhouse. Is
he coming back?
she heard Jim whistle, bob-white, bob, bob-white.
Heaving a sigh of relief, she answered the whistle as she unfolded
herself from her huddle.
came storming in. “Are you
crazy? What if Luke had found you here?”
folded her arms across her chest and glared at him.
“First of all, I followed him here.
Second of all, he took off into the woods.
Contrary to popular opinion, I am not stupid enough to
follow him through the woods in the dead of night.”
why didn’t you just come back to the house, instead of sitting here in
the dark and scaring us half to death?” he yelled.
was standing by the table, looking at the scrapbook.
He cleared his throat. “Um,
Dan, this might answer your question.”
turned around and demanded angrily, “What will?”
gestured toward the book, and Dan moved over to examine it more closely by
the light of Jim’s flashlight.
hate to say ‘I told you so,’” Jim announced, “but I told you
stepped between them and looped an arm through each of theirs.
“Let’s go find out what he was rigging up in Moms’
groaned. “Sometimes, Trix,
you are more trouble than you are worth.”
wise guys. Just come help me
look for clues.”
shock, Dan exclaimed, “Oh, my God! Trixie wants to look for clues!
What is this world coming to?”
at his friend’s antics, Jim responded, “It’s returning to the
natural order of things, I would say.”
brightly at both boys, Trixie said, “Well, what are we waiting for?”
contraption in the flowerbed turned out to be a spring-loaded catapult
armed with a grenade. It was
set with a timer to go off at seven a.m.
Molinson was livid – not only had the night guard failed to spot
Luke, he had failed to notice Trixie leave.
And if it weren’t for Trixie, her room would have been blown up
in the morning.
staring Trixie down for a full ten minutes, Molinson huffed in
Belden, instead of yelling at you, I’m tempted to let you loose and tell
you to call me when you’ve solved this problem.
Clearly, you’re more competent than my staff.”
jaw hit the floor. Most of
the others were equally surprised. Dan
winked at Mart and turned to Molinson.
“Goodness, Sergeant. This
time you actually said it to her face.
Those compliments just keep getting easier and easier for you,
sergeant glared at him and said abruptly, “Shut up, smartass.”
laughed out loud. “We knew
you liked her!”
get some sleep, all of you!” Molinson growled.
“I’ll be back in the morning, promptly at seven, to see what he
does when his little bomb doesn’t go off.
seven o’clock, Crabapple Farm was again crawling with police and
parents. All residents of the Manor House were there, as well as Mr.
Maypenny, Mr. and Mrs. Lynch, and Mrs. Vanderpoel. Poor Mrs. Vanderpoel had needed to get away from the raging
argument between Spider and Tad over whether Tad was going to school that
Monday morning, or to the Farm to be with the Bob-Whites.
Spider was adamant that he go to school, and Tad was extremely
Belden decided to make breakfast for everyone, and was busy in the
kitchen. Trixie knew there weren’t enough eggs, and no one had been
out to gather fresh ones that morning.
With as many people as there were all over the yard and garden, it
never occurred to Trixie that the barn was a bad place to go alone.
as Trixie reached for the egg basket, she felt someone behind her.
Before she had time to react, one calloused, dirty hand clamped
down on her mouth and another pressed a gun to her temple. Luke pulled her roughly against him, and placed his unshaven
face right next to hers.
waited a long time for this,” he hissed, his hot breath blowing right in
went rigid with fear. She
couldn’t scream, she couldn’t move, she couldn’t think.
Tears welled up in her eyes. Oh,
no, she thought. There
is no way this creep is going to make me cry!
The anger that rose to the surface calmed her fear and helped her
to start thinking of a way out of this mess.
released the hand from Trixie’s mouth to grab her in a chokehold and
drag her toward the back of the barn.
Finding the seclusion of an old stall, he shoved her down roughly.
He knelt beside her and leered at her.
His black jeans and black t-shirt hugged his figure, muscles
rippling – clearly he was much stronger than she was.
He plopped down beside her and fondled her, making her skin crawl.
held the gun to Trixie’s throat, and his mouth to her ear.
“You know you’re going to pay for what you did to me, right,
know you aren’t getting out of this, right, stupid?” she replied
whacked her hard in the face with the muzzle of the gun.
Her mouth and nose were bleeding, but she refused to cry. In fact, now she was downright pissed off.
jerked her head back and shoved the gun against her windpipe.
“You will die long before I get caught, you know,” he promised
I don’t know,“ she responded, further infuriating him.
eyes blazed with a crazed fury. Luke
leaned his face closer to hers, purposely rubbing his body against hers. “I am going to have so much fun making you pay, you little
bitch,” he sneered.
this point, Trixie figured she had little to lose.
She did not want to think about what things he would do to her if
she didn’t get herself out of here.
His hands were busy grabbing her hair and holding the gun.
He was lying against her right arm and leg, but her left arm and
leg were free.
thought about her chances of actually getting away from him, and knew they
were slim to none. She
thought about letting him have his way with her, and decided she’d
simultaneously directed her knee towards his groin and her hand towards
the gun. Her knee connected
hard, and her hand went to shove the gun away from her and towards Luke.
that instant, the gun went off.