It Comes Back At You


Chapter 4


Saturday dawned bright and sunny.  The members of the Belden clan were normally early birds, but Friday had been an especially late night for all.  Everyone had been out, or at least up, until well after midnight. 

Despite the late night, Trixie woke up bright and early and started right in on her chores.  She decided that, since she had energy to burn, she would be a bit generous with her time.  She fed the chickens and did Mart’s morning chores in the coop.  Then she dusted in the living room.  When she finished that, she started making breakfast.  By the time she had finished, her parents and Mart were moving about upstairs.

When Helen arrived in the kitchen, she stopped in her tracks.  The table was set, with fresh wildflowers in a vase in the center.  There were freshly baked blueberry muffins, crisp bacon, and mountains of scrambled eggs.  The smell of coffee brewing wafted through the sunny kitchen, and pitchers of fresh juice and cold milk were set out on the table.  Trixie was standing at the sink, washing the cookware so there would be fewer dishes after breakfast.

Hearing her mother enter, Trixie turned and flashed a cheery smile.  “Hi, Moms!  I thought you deserved a break today.  Enjoy your breakfast.”

Helen moved to her place at the table, her face puzzled.  “Thank you, dear.  To what do I owe this honor?” she asked.

“Just for being you,” Trixie replied, kissing her mother’s cheek while she dried her hands on a dishtowel.

Peter and Mart entered the kitchen and took their places at the table.  Mart appeared to be sleepwalking, but that had never stopped his appetite.  He piled his plate high with food and began to shovel it into his mouth.  As Trixie sat down, Helen winked at her daughter, her twinkling eyes warning not to mention who had made breakfast.  Trixie grinned.

Many years of marriage had taught Peter to read Helen well, and he had not missed any of the exchange with Trixie.  He quirked an eyebrow at his wife.  She gave him a small smile and shrugged.  Peter decided that his head hurt too much from last night’s drinking for him to even begin to fathom what his daughter was up to now.  That would have to wait until after breakfast.

It was an unusually quiet meal for the Beldens.  With Bobby and Brian not there, Peter having a hangover, and Mart not really awake, Helen chose to enjoy the quiet.  She waited until Mart was nearly done, and his mouth was very full.  Then she spoke softly but firmly, “Mart, thank your sister for breakfast.”

Mart choked on his mouthful of food, swallowed wrong, and began coughing.  His eyes watered while he struggled to clear his throat and regain his ability to breath.  Trixie and Helen laughed out loud at this display.  Peter laughed as well, although he winced and held a palm to his temples.  The expression on Mart’s fact was priceless!

Mart looked at his mother in astonishment.  “What part did Trixie make?”

Helen smiled and said simply, “Everything.”

Mart looked at Trixie.  Her cheeks were red with embarrassment.  She was staring at her juice, while her fingers did a nervous little dance along the rim of the glass.  If he wanted to tease the heck out of her, now would be the perfect time.  He mentally reviewed his extensive vocabulary of long and annoying words.  Then, for some reason he could not explain, he changed his mind.

“Thanks, Trixie.  This is really good.”  He smiled simply, and then went back to his meal.

Trixie looked up quickly, surprised.  “Y-you’re welcome,” she stammered.

Peter and Helen had been watching the exchange carefully, especially interested in the mental battle Mart had waged before speaking.  His face was just as expressive as Trixie’s, and his thoughts had been very clear to his parents.  They exchanged a look.  And so our children move on to another new chapter in growing up.

Mart cleared his place and put his dishes in the sink.  “I’d better get out to the coop and take care of the chickens.”

“All done already,” Trixie said quietly.

Three pairs of eyes stared at her in astonishment.  She looked up and caught their stares.  Flushing brightly, she said, “What?  I was up early and had some extra energy.  I couldn’t exactly make the beds while you were still in them!”

Trixie jumped up from her place.  “Speaking of which, I’d better get that done right now.”  With that, she turned and ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time. 

After a moment of stunned silence, Mart cleared Trixie’s place.  “I guess I’ll do the breakfast dishes, then.”

Peter looked at Helen in confusion.  “Who was that, and where is my Trixie?”



After Trixie finished her chores, as well as Bobby’s, she walked over to the Lynch Estate to retrieve her little brother from his sleepover.  She walked the path through the woods, enjoying the sunlight streaming through the gaps in the trees and the clean, fresh air.  Suddenly, she got an eerie feeling that she was being watched.  The hair on the back of her neck stood on end.  She stopped and peered into the surrounding woods intently.  Seeing nothing, she shrugged and went on.

When Harrison answered the Lynches’ door for her, Diana was just entering the two-story marble front hall.  Seeing Trixie, she smiled brightly.

“Good morning, Trix.  How was your evening last night?”

Trixie thought about her night and smiled a secret smile.  For some reason she could not explain, she did not want to share with her friend how she had actually spent her evening.  “It was, um, relaxing,” was all she said.

Diana noticed the smile and knew there was more to the story.  She looked at her friend closely.  There was something different about Trixie.  If she had to pinpoint the moment of change, she would have to guess it was the day Brian and Jim had left for college.  Di had expected that things would change with the two oldest Bob-Whites gone, but would never have guessed quite the way things would be different.

With Brian and Jim away, Di had expected one of two reactions out of Trixie.  The first was that she would be out of control, because the older boys were not there to rein her in and check her impulsive nature.  The second was that Trixie would seem lost and rudderless, because she relied so heavily on Brian and Jim for support and guidance.

Instead, Trixie seemed at peace.  She was a sea of tranquility, exuding a confidence and maturity that had never been there before.  Deciding, for the time being at least, that this was a good thing, Di thought it best to let well enough alone.

“Well, I’m glad you got some rest.  You were beat when you left Wimpy’s.”  As soon as the words were out of her mouth, Diana remembered the scene in Wimpy’s parking lot the night before.  She did not want to be the one to tell Trixie about it.

Just then, Bobby came barreling down the stairs with his overnight bag over his shoulder.  Di heaved a sigh of relief.

Trixie smiled at Di and said her goodbyes.  “I’ve got to get this monster home,” she chuckled. 

Di laughed and waved as she watched them go.

As Trixie walked Bobby back along the path to Crabapple Farm, a silent figure followed along stealthily through the woods.



Mart walked through the woods, deep in thought.  He was heading out to Mr. Maypenny’s to meet Dan, and had decided to take a longer trail through the preserve.  He wanted to enjoy the warmth of the September sunshine, and to clear his head from the mental fog that had engulfed him all morning.

On the one hand, Mart had known he would miss Brian when he went away.  They were friends as well as brothers and spent a great deal of time together.  Even having his bedroom to himself seemed weird – almost lonely.

On the other hand, he had expected to feel free.  He would not have his big brother around to be sensible, tell him what to do, and protect him.  Mart had begun to feel smothered.  Although he expected Brian to be protective and bossy with Trixie, he found it annoying when Brian treated him the same way.  He wanted some breathing room.

But when Brian left, Mart had suddenly felt responsible for things, especially his sister.  Not that she’d managed to get herself in trouble in the last two weeks; actually she’d been unusually quiet.  That was worrisome in and of itself.  And Brian wasn’t here, so Mart should be the one to worry about it.  Great, I get to be the grown-up now.  Just what I wanted.

Mart suddenly understood why Brian was always so serious.  It wasn’t fair, really.  Maybe college would be good for Brian.  If he didn’t have to watch his siblings, and set a good example all the time, maybe he would loosen up a little.

Deciding he didn’t want to turn into Overprotective Brian, Mart thought about how he could attack his Trixie problem from a different angle.  He needed to be able to talk to her, without fighting.  Of course, that would be a lot easier if he didn’t tease her so much.  He thought about breakfast that morning.  It had actually felt good to just thank her instead of picking on her.  Maybe if he resisted the urge to tease more often, it would get easier.

Just then he heard Trixie’s laughter echoing through the forest.  He looked in the direction from which the sound was coming and glimpsed two blond heads bobbing along the trail as Trixie walked Bobby home from the Lynches’ house.  They were chatting and laughing, enjoying the day and each other.  Mart smiled at the way she seemed to brighten the whole area with her mere presence.

His smile quickly turned to a frown as he spied another head through the trees.  He could not see the person clearly, but it was obvious he was following Trixie at a discreet distance.  Alarm bells began ringing loudly in Mart’s head as he moved to intercept the intruder.

A twig snapped beneath Mart’s foot, and the stranger stopped.  He glanced around furtively, then began to slink back into the shadows of the deeper stand of trees off the main trail.  Mart followed as quickly as he could, being careful not to attract Trixie’s attention.

He almost lost the stranger twice, but picked up his trail again.  He finally followed him to a secluded spot on Glen Road, just as he pealed away in a non-descript small beige sedan.  Mart made careful note of every detail he could remember, including the part of the license plate that was not covered by mud.  Face etched in a grim mask, he made a beeline for Mr. Maypenny’s to discuss this development with Dan.



By the time Trixie and Bobby got home, they had just enough time to change their clothes before it was time to head to Mrs. Vanderpoel’s house.  Trixie grabbed her bookbag and they mounted their bikes to head out.  They waived to Mrs. Belden, who was watching them from the kitchen window.

The two youngest Beldens reveled in the glorious late summer day as they enjoyed their bike ride to the lovely yellow cottage Mrs. Vanderpoel called home.  Their knock at the door was answered by the owner, a short, stout Dutch woman with rosy cheeks, bright eyes, and a kind and generous heart that shone through her broad smile.  She hugged each of the children as she ushered them into the house.

“Bobby, you come and help me in the kitchen.  We need to finish baking fresh windmill cookies while we make lunch.  Old Brom will be joining us.”  Mrs. Vanderpoel grinned as Bobby whooped happily.  She turned to his sister, “Trixie, you go right on into Tad’s room.  He’s waiting for you, and you two need to get to work on your project.  We’ll call you when lunch is ready.”

Trixie thanked her neighbor and headed down the hall in the direction of Tad’s room.  When she reached the door she knocked nervously.  She had expected to be studying in the living room, not Tad’s bedroom.  Tad answered the door quickly and welcomed her with a deep, elaborate bow.

“Welcome to my humble abode, fair maiden,” he greeted her airily.  He stepped aside so she could enter the room.

Trixie giggled at his silliness.  As she walked past him, she breathed a sigh of relief.  In the middle of the room Tad had set up a card table with two chairs opposite each other.  On the table he had spread out his French books and the directions for their assignment.  The room was neat and clean, and a stereo played softly in the background.  Tad made a point of leaving the door wide open as he stepped over to the card table.

Trixie’s initial wariness dissipated.  They weren’t going to be studying on his bed or anything, and he was making every effort to make her comfortable.  She relaxed and went to sit at the table.  They quickly got down to work.

An hour later, Bobby appeared at the door.  “Mrs. V. says lunch is ready.  Come and get it!” he fairly shouted, as he took off back in the direction of the kitchen.

Trixie looked at her watch in amazement.  “I can’t believe we’ve been working for an hour already!”

Tad smiled.  “Yes, but look at how much we’ve gotten done.  This is going well.”

Trixie glanced around her at their various notes and things.  She smiled up at Tad and said, “You’re right.  We make a great team!”

As they headed toward the kitchen for lunch, her words echoed in Tad’s mind.  His thoughts headed in an entirely new direction, taking him by surprise.

After a lively luncheon, punctuated by laughter and fun, Tad and Trixie helped Mrs. Vanderpoel with the dishes.  As soon as they were done, she shooed them away.  “You kids go and finish your homework.  Brom and I will be out in the garden with Bobby if you need anything.”

The pair headed back to Tad’s room and returned to their project.  An hour later, Tad declared that they needed a break.  “We’ve done so much already, and it’s not due for two more weeks!”

“But we were on a roll,” Trixie pouted.  Then she grinned and asked, “I’m actually enjoying homework, and you want me to stop?”

Tad returned her grin.  He had suggested stopping so they had an excuse to get together again, but he didn’t really want her to leave.  “Well, maybe we can change subjects or something,” he suggested.  “I’m tired of French for today.”

Trixie wrinkled her nose.  “The only other homework I have this weekend is geometry, and I hate that.”

“Why is that?” Tad asked curiously, leaning toward her.

Trixie shrugged ruefully, “I’ve never done well in math.  I just have this mental block, I guess.”

Tad was amazed at how visible the sudden nosedive in her mood was.  The mere mention of math caused her self-esteem to crumble.  Something in her vulnerability touched him; he wanted to reach out to her, hold her, and tell her how wonderful she really was.

Instead, he suggested, “Why don’t I help you?  I did fairly well in geometry last year.”

A bright smile lit up her face.  “Really?  You wouldn’t mind?”

Tad laughed.  “Of course not!  You said it yourself, we make a great team.  Surely we can whip a few math problems into shape.”

As they worked on Trixie’s math homework, they wandered off into side conversations several times.  The song on the stereo prompted a long discussion of music.  After getting back on track for a couple of problems, they drifted off into an analysis of the previous day’s basketball tournament.  Trixie blushed at Tad’s compliments, and dove back into the math problems.

When they finally finished the problems, Trixie was amazed that she actually understood the lesson.  “Wow!  It’s like when all the pieces of a mystery come together.  It makes complete sense!”

Her excitement shone.  Her blue eyes sparkled brightly.  Her smile lit her entire face.  She radiated life, and joy, and happiness.  Tad compared this vision to her expression earlier, and was glad to have helped her with the transformation.  He realized he wanted to continue to be a part of this electricity she radiated.

Taking a deep breath, he plunged right in.  “Why don’t we make a regular habit of this?  We can work on French together, and I can help you with your math.”

Trixie studied his expression.  She had always needed help with her homework, and she had been wondering what she would do with Jim and Brian away.  She knew Dan didn’t have a lot of free time, and she really didn’t want to have to rely on Mart.  Deciding Tad seemed to genuinely want to help her, she agreed.

"That would be great, Tad.  I could really use the help.”

They compared their schedules for the week.  Tad made mental note of her basketball “dates” with Chris Zack.  They agreed to get together Wednesday evening.

After Trixie had gathered her things she went to retrieve her brother.  As they walked out to the garden, she and Tad were discussing their study plans for Wednesday.  When Mrs. Vanderpoel heard about them, she insisted that Trixie come for dinner.  Trixie was only too glad to accept.  Bobby frowned, knowing he wouldn’t be allowed to come then.

“Can’t we do this again, Trixie?” Bobby whined.  “I had lots of fun today!”

Tad jumped in quickly.  “Of course, Bobby.  We’ll do this again next Saturday, so you can come too.”

Then he realized he was making plans for others without consulting them.  He looked around sheepishly, expecting to find condemnation in their faces.  Instead, Mrs. Vanderpoel was nodding her head approvingly, a gleam in her eye.  Trixie was giving him a grateful look for having appeased Bobby.  Tad relaxed, and smiled inwardly.  Being nice to Bobby Belden was easy; if that’s all it took to get Trixie to look at him that way, it was a small price to pay.



Mart had filled Dan in on the man in the woods.  Dan had become anxious and planned to look for signs of intruders during his patrols of the preserve.  After a quick phone call to verify that he was on duty, they drove in tense silence to the police station to talk to Sergeant Molinson.

In his office, Mart relayed his entire story of the man following Trixie in the woods.  He described the beige sedan in great detail, including the year, make, model, and the partial license tag number.  Unfortunately, he had not really gotten a good look at the man.  He gave the sergeant what information he could, based on having only seen glimpses of him through the trees.

Sergeant Molinson stared at him thoughtfully.  “Your sister isn’t trying to investigate this herself?” he asked.

Mart shook his head.  “She doesn’t know anything about it.  I’m sure if she did, she would be trying to solve this one on her own, but she’s not even involved in a mystery right now.”

Molinson shook his head.  “She really is a mystery magnet, isn’t she?”

Dan chuckled ruefully, “That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you for years.  She doesn’t even look for this garbage; it finds her.”

“Any chance you can keep her from going into the woods alone for a few days?” the sergeant asked hopefully.

“Yeah, right,” Mart snorted.  “The best I can promise is to spy on her.  But isn’t that what I’m asking you to investigate?  People spying on her?”

“You know, if this were anyone else I would probably dismiss it as nothing,” Molinson sighed.  “Of course, it would probably be something, and Trixie would end up solving some major kidnapping plot for me.”   The three men laughed.

“Alright, boys.  You keep an eye on Troublesome Trixie, and I’ll investigate from this end.”  He fixed them with a stern stare before continuing, “And if you see anything at all, you let me know right away.”

Mart and Dan nodded.  They took their leave of the policeman somberly, and headed off in silence.

Both boys were lost in thought as they drove out to Glen Road.  They headed for the stables, and saddled a couple of horses.  Regan noticed they were quiet, but thought it better to ask about it later.

Once out on the trails in the preserve, Dan cleared his throat.  “So the first question is: Do we let Trixie know about this?”

Mart’s head snapped around and he fixed his friend with an intense glare.  “Absolutely not!” he declared adamantly.

Dan calmly assessed his friend.  He knew what Mart was thinking: I’ve got to keep Trixie out of trouble.  The problem was, that was always easier said than done.

“Okay, but what about Honey and Di?” Dan asked.  “On the one hand, they are more likely to tell Trixie.  On the other hand, the more eyes we have watching, the less likely we are to miss something important.”

Mart was silent for a long moment, then released his breath slowly.  His mind was churning.  “I think, for the moment, that their blabbermouths are more dangerous than their eyes are helpful.”

Dan nodded knowingly.  Okay, we’ve decided what not to do.  But what do we do?



Dinner at the Belden house was an odd affair.  Mart was deep in thought, but would occasionally study Trixie intently.  Trixie seemed quiet and content, but her thoughts were definitely elsewhere.  Bobby chattered on non-stop about his wonderful day, the stories Old Brom had told, and the wonderful things Mrs. Vanderpoel had made for lunch.

When Bobby exclaimed in joy that they were “doing this again” next Saturday, the elder Beldens looked at Trixie for confirmation.  She seemed not to hear.  She had a far away look in her eyes, and a slight smile played at the corners of her mouth.  They looked back at each other.  Helen smirked, and Peter rolled his eyes.  It took a considerable amount of willpower for Helen not to laugh out loud at her husband.

Mart had not been paying much attention to Bobby, but he had tuned in just in time to catch his last remark.  Mart observed the exchange between his parents, as well as the expression on Trixie’s face.  He scowled.

Tad was Mart’s friend.  He’d had some trouble a couple of years ago, but he’d straightened himself out.  When his older brother, Spider, had taken a job with the police force in White Plains, the Webster boys had moved from Mrs. Vanderpoel’s warm and loving home in Sleepyside to a small apartment in White Plains.  Tad had been miserable.  Over the summer Spider had decided to commute to White Plains and moved with his brother back to Mrs. Vanderpoel’s house. 

Mart had greeted his old friend with open arms.  He was actually glad Tad was back.  However, there was a big difference between being a good friend, and being good enough for your little sister.  Besides, Trixie was only fifteen!  That was too young for him to have to worry about her dating, right?

She’s three months older than Diana, dummy!  Mart’s stomach sank.  He definitely thought of Di as old enough to date.  But they were so different!  For one thing, Di was interested in boys and dating.  Trixie had never been interested in that stuff.  Has that changed, too?

After she finished eating, Trixie got up to clean up her place.  Helen was just bringing in the lemon meringue pie she had made that afternoon.  Seeing that her daughter was headed for the kitchen with her dirty dishes, Helen quirked an eyebrow.  “Not staying for dessert, Trixie?” she asked.

“Oh, Moms, thanks, but I’m just too full,” Trixie said absentmindedly.  “I’ve eaten so much today; I would really hate to pop the buttons on all my new school clothes already.”  With that she headed into the kitchen, and started to wash the dishes.

Helen’s jaw dropped.  She recovered quickly when she saw the equally stunned expressions on Peter's and Mart’s faces.  She narrowed her eyes at them both, and conveyed her message clearly:  Not one word, I swear!




The Bob-Whites gathered in the clubhouse that evening.  Honey was the last to arrive, and she rushed in breathlessly and glowing with excitement.

“Sorry I’m late,” she panted.  “I just got off the phone with Jim, and I lost track of time.”

Trixie was reading a book on the couch beneath the window.  Without looking up she asked, “Oh, really?  How did his date go last night?”

Four pairs of eyes stared at her in shock.  The silence finally caught her attention.  She looked up and glanced at them, noticing the question in their eyes.  “What?  I called Brian last night to ask him something, and Jim answered.  He had to go because he had a date.  I just wondered how it went!”  She rolled her eyes and sighed in exasperation.  “Never mind!  Forget I asked!”

Firmly turning her concentration back to her book, Trixie proceeded to ignore the others.  She felt slightly guilty, because she knew she had implied that Jim had brushed her off.  That wasn’t true at all, and she shouldn’t make it sound like he’d been rude or anything; but for some reason she couldn’t explain, she didn’t want to share her conversations of the previous evening with her friends.  They were private, and special to her.  The others wouldn’t understand that.  They would want to know everything they talked about, and Trixie’s conversation with Brian was simply not going to be fodder for a group discussion.

Of course, her friends misinterpreted her silence and assumed she was bothered that Jim had gone on a date.  It was no secret that there was a special friendship between Trixie and Jim.  Everyone had expected that sooner or later the two would end up dating.  Of course, they also assumed that Jim simply felt Trixie was too young right now, or shouldn’t be tied down when he was so far away, or some other honorable excuse.  They couldn’t understand that the truth was so much more complicated; neither Jim nor Trixie could have explained it at all, if pressed.  But they understood each other, and that was all that mattered.

Trying to bring the attention off of Trixie, Diana asked Honey what Jim had had to say.  Honey told them some of the stories of college life he had shared.  While seeming to ignore the conversation, Trixie made note that they were some of the ones he had already told her.  They also seemed to be less detailed in Honey’s version.  Knowing Honey, that did not mean she was glossing over them; she was explaining things with every minute detail her brother had given her.  It was with no small amount of satisfaction that Trixie realized Jim had been much more open with her about his college experiences than he had been with his sister.

Honey went on to say that she had talked her mother into taking her to Boston to visit Brian and Jim the following weekend.  “Of course, I didn’t have to do much talking.  She just wanted an excuse to go and check up on Jim for herself,” she grinned.

Trixie groaned inwardly.  Please, please let them leave Brian alone on Friday night!

After a few more comments about Jim, Honey finally got down to business.  “What was the point of this meeting, again?”

“You mean the meeting that hasn’t begun yet?” Dan drawled.  “If Madame President would get her nose out of her book, maybe she would call the meeting to order.”

Trixie stuck her tongue out at him, making them all laugh.  After carefully placing her bookmark, she stood and walked to her proper place at the table.  She grabbed her gavel and held it in the air.  She looked at Brian’s seat, then Jim’s, and sighed.  Then she pounded the gavel and called the meeting to order.

“Okay, as I recall, we were supposed to have been coming up with ideas to help the athletic department,” Trixie began.  “I know Coach Epperly is part of the committee that organizes the huge basketball tournament every winter, and I know last year one of the complaints was a lack of available refreshments.  I thought maybe we could talk to Coach and Mr. Stratton and see about organizing the refreshments for the tournament.  If we split the proceeds between the athletic department and some major charity, we could get a lot of support.”

When she finally paused for a breath, Mart interrupted.  “Trix, that tournament is huge.  So big, in fact, that it requires three schools to host it.  How do you propose to manage that?”

Trixie looked at Mart, and he could see the wheels turning behind her eyes.  Dan rolled his eyes.  Oh, no, here we go again.

“Well, we could offer to coordinate.  We could approach the administration at Round Point and Central to see if there are clubs there that would organize things at their site.  We could take in all the funds.  We would all be working for the same charity.  The portion that goes to the athletic department would be split between the three schools.  Everyone wins.”

Diana looked thoughtful.  “What if the support is much larger at one site than at the others?  Is it fair that we all take an equal share if we are not doing equal work?”

Honey said, “Well, we could give each school as much as they make.  But a lot of the attendance at the games depends on which schools are playing.  In order to get better attendance, the schools would fight over who got to host the better teams, which would complicate the arrangement of the tournament.  It would all go much more smoothly if we all agree ahead of time that we share equally.”

“Exactly!” Trixie crowed.  She could see the excitement building amongst her friends.  She could feel the thrill of finding a way to help others.  This was almost as good a feeling as finding a mystery.

The group proceeded to discuss their plans, brainstorm, and plot out meetings with the necessary authority figures.  They needed to bring their ideas before the school administration and the tournament committee to get approval before they could begin soliciting help from their schoolmates or the students at the other schools.

As they wrapped up for the evening, Mart concluded, “As usual, the fair Beatrix has proposed a most elaborate and convoluted method for benefiting the disadvantaged element of our society whom she currently has the aspiration to assist.  And as usual, we will end up her enthusiastic servants.  I suppose this should be a most satisfactory conclusion to our congregation for this eventide.”

Amid groans and laughter, the group straightened up the clubhouse to close it up for the evening.

Trixie approached Honey hesitantly.  “Hon, what are you doing tomorrow?”

Honey looked at her in surprise.  She was caught off-guard by her friend’s timid demeanor.  “I don’t have anything planned.  Why?”

Trixie bit her bottom lip.  “Well, it’s just that we haven’t had much chance this week to spend any time together.  I was hoping we could go riding or something.  Just the two of us.”

Honey smiled.  “That sounds great!  I would really like that, Trix.”

Trixie visibly relaxed as she smiled back; she’d been worried about how her friend would respond to her gesture.  Honey realized this with a pang of self-recrimination.  I really have been rotten to her this week, haven’t I?

She laid her hand gently on her friend’s arm and spoke softly, “Trixie, your school schedule, basketball, and study dates are not enough to ruin our friendship.  I promise.  I’m sorry I was making such a big deal out of everything.”

The little blonde smiled softly up at her honey-haired friend.  “I will always have time for you, Honey,” she promised.

They hugged each other before heading off home for the night.

As he locked the clubhouse behind the girls, Mart felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.  He glanced around nervously, then looked at Dan.  His best friend’s dark eyes stared back at him with the same worried look.

As they walked the girls home, the boys continued to scan the surrounding trees with searching eyes.  Despite their best efforts, however, neither one saw the silent shadow hovering near the rear of the clubhouse.



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