sound of the gunshot caused panic at the farm.
There were screams and shouts.
Several people identified the direction from which the sound had
come and rushed toward the barn.
got there first. Gun drawn,
he yanked open the barn door and then proceeded in cautiously.
He heard Trixie faintly call for help and headed in her direction.
By this time, Brian was right on his heels.
they reached the stall, they saw Luke sprawled on top of Trixie.
Molinson grabbed him, threw him off of her, and shoved his weapon
in Luke’s face... or what was left of it.
rushed over to Trixie. She
was covered in blood and was clutching her left hand, which had caught the
edge of the impact of the gun going off in Luke’s face.
As Brian bent over to check her out, she whimpered in pain, her
eyes rolling back in her head.
whipped out his radio and called for an ambulance.
He then holstered his gun and came over to check on Trixie.
rushed in with a couple of other cops.
He saw Luke lying there, then looked up at the sergeant, who shook
his head. Dan clenched his jaw and turned his attention to Trixie, who
had by now passed out. Molinson
knelt down beside Brian, and gently placed a hand on his shoulder.
“A lot of the blood is Luke’s,” he said quietly.
just barely acknowledged the policeman.
He was busy wrapping his shirt around his sister’s hand to stem
the bleeding. The welcomed
sound of sirens could be heard in the distance.
was a very long day, and a long night as well.
There were ambulances, police, and the coroner.
There were statements to be taken, and many people made trips back
and forth to the hospital. Trixie’s
hand was broken and bloody, and required surgery and a cast.
She had to spend the night in the hospital before being released in
Bob-Whites all spent the night at the hospital, taking turns sitting by
Trixie’s bedside. She
barely noticed, being unconscious most of the time.
She woke up once, when Mart was sitting with her.
she whispered hoarsely.
leaned over her, and tenderly brushed a curl off her forehead.
“Hey, Princess. How
do you feel?”
winced in pain. “Like an
elephant is standing on my hand.”
least you still have it,” he chuckled softly.
He sobered and looked at her very seriously.
“Another couple of inches and you wouldn’t be that lucky.”
fear and worry in his eyes tugged at Trixie’s heart.
Then another thought struck her, and she searched Mart’s face. She wasn’t sure she really wanted the answer, but she had
gazed at her sadly and just shook his head.
and horror were reflected in her eyes before she squeezed them shut
tightly, as if that could block out the reality of what had happened.
Tears slowly trailed down her cheeks.
leaned over and kissed her cheek before laying his forehead against hers,
tears falling from his own eyes. In
a choked voice, he said, “I’m just glad it wasn’t you.”
the morning, Honey and Di helped Trixie get dressed so she could leave the
hospital. Trixie went to use
the bathroom, and returned stomping her foot in frustration.
is ridiculous,” Trixie wailed. “I
can barely wipe myself with this stupid cast on.
How am I supposed to get dressed?”
why we’re here,” Di soothed. “Your
“Yeah. You might actually learn that you can’t do everything by
yourself,” Honey put in bitingly.
looked sharply at Honey, surprised by the anger and bitterness in her
face. She turned to look pleadingly at Di. The violet-eyed beauty smiled reassuringly, and went on as if
Honey had not spoken.
know this is embarrassing, Trix, but it’s just us.
Hang on to the bed rail with your good hand and lift your feet for
me. We’ll get your
underwear and pants on before we worry about trying to fit that cast
nodded and did as she was told, all the while glancing warily in Honey’s
direction. Di calmly and
efficiently helped Trixie dress, just as if she was helping one of the
twins. Honey remained silent, arms folded tightly across her chest,
her face a mask of hostility.
Di finished with her pants, Trixie went and stood in front of Honey.
“I never meant to shut you out, Hon.”
usually talk through your ideas and suspicions.
We do this together.”
The anger was fading away, and quickly being replaced by tears
welling up in the hurt, hazel eyes.
fought back her own tears. “I
know. It’s just that I
wanted to be wrong.”
you could have told me that. Instead
of sulking in your room for hours, waiting to hear back from Molinson, you
could have talked to me,” Honey ranted.
“You could have told me what you were afraid of.
You could have shared. Stop
shutting me out!”
looked as if she’d been slapped. She
thought back over the past week, searching through her own actions.
Had she been trying to exclude Honey intentionally?
walked up and put an arm around each of her best friends.
“You know, nothing’s been normal about this whole mystery. How about if we just call it an aberration in our otherwise
pretty cool lives, and move on, okay?”
and Honey looked at each other, trying to figure out where to go from
here. Trixie offered a tentative, “Honey, I’m sorry…”
cut her off. “Oh, Trixie,
I’m the one who’s sorry! I’m
being such a brat. It’s
just that… I’ve never actually been so scared before.
Even in Mississippi.”
laughed ruefully, and answered in a very shaky voice, “Well, that makes
two of us.”
snorted. “Yeah, right. You weren’t scared.”
shook her head. “Terrified,”
started to say something, but Di cut her off.
“Shut up. She’s
actually admitting it! Don’t
ruin the moment.”
three girls laughed, then shared a group hug.
After a moment, Honey pulled pack and looked at Di.
twinkling, Trixie nodded at Honey. “I
told you she’s been spending too much time with that loony brother of
returned Trixie’s nod. “I’ll
have to cure her of that, and occupy more of her time myself.”
pretended horror. “And
stick me with him? Do
you hate me that much?”
patted her good arm sympathetically.
“No, no, dear. You
just stick with us. We’ll
palm him off on poor Dan. Only
he is goony enough to be able to survive Mart.
We’ll just have a good, old-fashioned girls’ night.”
sighed dramatically in relief. “Thank
you! I’d be lost without
laughed. “Okay, you two
clowns. You set yourselves up
for this one, and I’m not letting you out of it.
Girls’ night, complete with sleepover, at my house on
wrong with Friday?” Honey wondered.
Di and Trixie chorused, before the three girls burst into loud laughter.
home, Trixie was tucked safely into bed with a heavy dose of painkillers. Bobby fussed over her, plumping her pillows.
He sat next to her and read to her from his favorite Dr. Suess
book, The Foot Book. When
he thought she was asleep, he leaned over and kissed her cheek.
love you, Trix. You’re my
hero,” he whispered. Then
he softly padded out of the room and closed the door behind him.
single tear slid down Trixie’s cheek before sleep overcame her
Trixie was settled, everyone else had been shooed away to their respective
homes. They were all
exhausted, most having spent the night at the hospital with her, and in
need of good sleep in a real bed. Nearly
everyone slept all day.
entire gang met back up at Crabapple Farm for dinner.
Helen insisted on hosting everyone, but Miss Trask and Cook
arranged most of the food, having Regan and Tom bring it down from Manor
House. They insisted Helen
needed a break.
dinner Tom would be driving Brian and Jim back to Boston, so they could
return to classes. The entire
crew had already missed two days of school, and there was no reason to
miss any more.
still slept soundly. During
dinner, Brian slipped upstairs to see his sister.
She lay on her right side, with her cast-encased left hand cradled
on a large pillow. Her curls
sprawled randomly across her pillow.
Her face was soft and peaceful, and she looked young, innocent,
cherubic. How is it that
this little bit of a thing can look so angelic, and yet get herself into so
reached out and gently brushed a curl back off her forehead.
He whispered her name, and she slowly stirred from her slumber.
Sleepy blue eyes met warm chocolate brown.
Trixie offered a small smile while she tried to clear her head and
focus her thoughts.
time is it?” she asked fuzzily.
six-thirty. Everyone is
downstairs having dinner.”
processed that for a moment, then slowly started to sit up.
“I suppose I should eat something, huh?”
helped her to sit, and arranged her pillows behind her back as well as one
on her lap to cushion her arm. Then
he sat down next to her. “Only
if you feel like it. Besides,
we can always just bring up a tray for you.
That’s not why I woke you.”
gazed at him curiously before a look of understanding crossed her
features. “How soon are you leaving for Boston?”
at the latest.”
sat in companionable silence for a while, her head resting on his
shoulder. Trixie finally
spoke. “I’m sorry,
looked at her with a question in his eyes.
“For what, exactly?”
being such a problem. I mean,
you’ve only been gone away to college for three weeks, and you’ve
already had to come running home to rescue me.”
a wry grin he responded, “I don’t think we needed to.
There were more than enough males here eager to rescue you, not to
mention that you had the police absolutely at your beck and call. Then there’s the fact that, in the end, you rescued
snorted. “Got myself shot,
out the bad guy, you mean.”
shadow passed over her face. “Killed
him, you mean,” she said quietly.
lifted her chin to look into her eyes.
“Trix, it was kill or be killed.
If you continue to walk this path of yours, this won’t be the
last time. Personally, I’d
rather you weren’t killed.”
raised an eyebrow. “That’s
it? No tirade about keeping
myself away from dangerous situations?”
sighed deeply and ran a hand through his hair.
He stared up at the ceiling in deep thought for a moment before
looking back at her. “I
wish you were never in danger. But
this time you did nothing; you did what you were told, you kept the cops
close, you were surrounded by big brothers and friends at all times, and
yet you were still in danger. You
attract it. It’s a part of you. If
you’re going to deal with it, at least do it right. Otherwise, I am going to have to lock you in a glass cage and
put you up on a shelf.”
far away look clouded her eyes. “I
once told Hallie that I felt like I was all alone in a glass box.
All the world is a parade marching by and I can’t touch anyone or
join the parade until I can melt the glass.”
stared at her, first in astonishment, then with guilt and regret.
“And I’m constantly trying to keep you in the glass, making you
feel even more alone.”
welled up in her eyes. “Let
me out, Bri. Please. The world may be dangerous, but I won’t be alone.”
pulled her into his arms and held her.
Emotion clogging his voice, he promised, “You will never
be alone, Trix. Too many people in this world love you. They love you for who you are, and for all you do for
everyone you meet. They
reflect the love you give. As
long as you are true to who you are, you will never, ever be alone.”
sat together for a long while before Trixie sighed.
“Come on, let’s get downstairs.
You need to go soon, and I have to be sociable so I can prove that
I am still alive and well.”
went downstairs together and joined the noisy crowd.
Trixie suffered through her mother’s fussing while she had
something to eat. They
chatted and visited until it was time for Brian and Jim to leave.
Jim was done with his goodbyes, Trixie stepped out on the porch with him. “Come on, College Man.
Time for your show to hit the road.”
him off, she continued, “You need the time to figure out how to
apologize to Tonya for blowing her off Sunday night.”
realizing he’d forgotten about his date, Jim uttered a sheepish,
laughed. “Make it a good
eyes stared at her intensely. “I
know one way I could tell it.”
grew serious. “You have to
go back there. And I have to
stared at each other for a long moment, lost in a battle between
responsibility and freedom, carefree hopes, flights of fancy, dreams,
desire, and all the paths in the labyrinth of the future.
and Tom came out onto the porch. “You
ready, Jim?” Tom asked.
be right there,” Jim replied, his gaze never wavering.
glanced back and forth between his best friend and his sister.
“Come on, Tom,” he said and walked to the car. Tom shrugged and followed him.
she said. It seemed lately
that every word spoken between them held layers upon layers of meaning. “You need to fly.”
call you Friday,” he whispered.
smiled softly. “Please.”
hugged her tightly, but quickly, careful to avoid her injured arm.
She returned it fiercely, then jumped back.
back to Boston, College Man. Have
nodded and hurried to the car. She
stood and watched until the car was gone before allowing a single tear to
slide down her cheek.
wiped her face and breathed deeply. The
warm September air cleansed her soul and refreshed her spirit.
She painted on her best smile and went back inside to join the