Sunday, Trixie headed up to Manor House in the late morning to meet Honey
for their ride. Mart walked
her up before heading off to meet Dan.
He didn’t want to look like he was watching her, but he really
didn’t want her walking around alone.
Going to see Dan was a convenient excuse to have to walk in that
Manor House, Celia showed Trixie into the living room and told Trixie that
Honey would be down in a minute. Madeleine
Wheeler was just finishing a song on the piano when Trixie entered.
As she finished she smiled at her daughter’s friend.
Trixie. How are you today?” she asked politely.
great, Mrs. Wheeler,” Trixie replied.
“Honey tells me you are going to visit Jim next weekend.”
to sound casual, Trixie asked, "So, when will you get there?”
noticed how nervous Trixie seemed to be, so she watched her carefully as
she responded, “We are going in to New York on Friday after school.
We plan to have dinner with some friends before heading for Boston,
so we won’t arrive until late Friday night.
We’ll go right to the hotel, and we’ll go see the boys in the
tried to hide her relief, but Maddie noticed anyway. Her curiosity was piqued, but she didn’t think asking
Trixie outright would get her anywhere.
came bursting into the room just then.
The two girls started laughing at something Honey said, and with a
wave to Maddie, they headed off to the stables.
watched them go, then headed for the phone.
I’ve just got to ask Helen about this!
next couple of days passed uneventfully.
Tuesday afternoon Trixie headed to the elementary school to pick up
Bobby, and they went to the community center together.
Bobby started his Squirts basketball league, and Trixie met up with
Chris, Merrissa and Paul.
was a little nervous at first, but the four quickly settled into a
comfortable rhythm together. They
didn’t play cutthroat; rather, they all tried to help each other
increase their game skills. Since
Trixie was new to the group, they concentrated on learning her strengths
and weaknesses, while letting her learn theirs.
they called it a day, they gathered together at the bench.
The boys grabbed water bottles and took long swigs.
Merrissa mopped her damp face with a towel.
Trixie took a sip of water, then brushed her curls back off her
watched her and said, “You know, Trixie, if you let your hair grow out
it’s easier to pull back. It
helps to stay cooler while you play.”
nodded. “I just might do
a grin Merrissa said, “Call me Riss.”
eyes widened. “I heard that
you beat people up who try that.”
and Paul burst out laughing. Merrissa
flushed in embarrassment. Then
she chuckled and said, “Yeah, well, I usually do.
Only a select few are invited to call me that, like Chris and Paul.
I hereby invite you to do so.”
placed her hand over her heart. Her
face was deadly serious, but her eyes twinkled as she said, “I am most
humbly honored. You have
bestowed upon me a great gift. I
will treat it as such.” Am
I starting to sound like Mart? No,
that’s more like something Tad would say.
all laughed together. Paul
threw his arm around Riss’ shoulder and announced, “Well, we’re
headed to Wimpy’s. Care to
looked at Trixie. “Do you
need to get your brother right home?”
flushed, and nodded. “I
promised my mother to get him home before dinner.”
She was feeling like a little kid, tagging along with the big kids
but not really being old enough to do what they did.
sensed her discomfort, and wanted to put her at ease. “No problem. I
think I told my mom I’d be home for dinner tonight.”
He turned to Riss and Paul, “We’ll take a rain check.”
they said goodbye and left, Merrissa made note of the fact that Chris had
said “we.” Interesting.
turned to Trixie. “Come on,
Blue Eyes. Let’s go grab
your brother so we can get you home,” he said as he grabbed her hand in
his and headed for the door.
heart skipped a beat. His
voice had turned the words “Blue Eyes” into a sweet, gentle caress.
His hand felt so warm and comfortable holding hers.
He only wants to play basketball with me, right?
He’s not interested in anything else, right?
But am I?
and Dan took the bus home after school and went right to the clubhouse to
study together for a quiz the next day.
They stopped short upon arriving at the door, however. There before their horrified eyes was a dead quail, a knife
thrust through its body, pinning it to the door. A bob-white quail, to be specific.
paled. Dan’s face turned
red. Fighting back his anger,
Dan said succinctly, “Stay here. I’m
going to the stable to call Molinson.”
turned on his heel and stalked off toward the stable. He stormed into Regan’s office and grabbed the phone.
Regan had seen him coming, and followed him into the office to see
what was wrong. He listened
as Dan asked for Molinson, then as he told the officer what he and Mart
had found at the clubhouse. After
promising to meet Molinson at the old gatehouse in a few minutes, Dan hung
up the phone and looked to see his uncle, hands on hips, frowning at him
cut him off. “Don’t even
ask what Trixie’s up to. The
answer is nothing. Someone is
stalking her, and she doesn’t even know it.
And I don’t want her to know.”
ran his hand through his red hair and sighed in exasperation.
“That may not be wise, Dan.
How can she be careful if she doesn’t know she’s in danger?”
gave the groom a pointed look. “And
when has danger ever caused Trixie to be careful?” he asked in
the younger man a rueful smile, Regan had to agree with that.
“Come on, let’s go meet Molinson,” he said.
He gave his nephew a clap on the back, and the two headed off to
join Mart at the clubhouse.
Molinson and one of his officers had dusted for fingerprints and collected
the quail and the knife as evidence, he sent the other officer back to the
station with the evidence. He
stayed to speak with Mart, Dan and Regan.
is Trixie now?” he asked them.
glanced at his watch and saw that it was 4:45.
“She should be home in a while.
She was playing basketball at the Community Center until about five
you need to go pick her up?” Molinson wondered.
at all,” Mart said, sounding very annoyed.
“Chris Zack will be driving her home,” he ground out.
raised an eyebrow. He
exchanged a look with Regan, and both men fought to keep their amusement
off their faces.
you seen any other signs of someone following her since Saturday?” the
sergeant asked, steering the conversation back on track.
boys shook their heads. Dan
spoke, “We’ve been watching, and she hasn’t gone much of anywhere
except school. Even when she
went riding with Honey on Sunday, we followed discreetly.”
frowned. “You were worried
about someone following her, and you let her go riding?” he asked
sighed in exasperation. “If
I tried to stop her, then she’d want to know why.
I do not want her trying to figure this out on her own!”
hesitated, carefully choosing his words.
“As much as I’d like to keep her out of this, if anything more
serious happens we’re going to have to tell her.
You know she notices things we don’t.
She may have information without realizing it.”
jaw dropped. Then he started
to laugh. “You are so lucky
I don’t have a tape recorder, Sergeant.
Ooh, the blackmail potential that would have!”
and Mart started laughing. Molinson
turned red, and grumbled good-naturedly.
Then he cleared his throat. “Oh,
I almost forgot. I haven’t
found anything out about that Buck person, except this: two Croton High
jackets were stolen from the locker room at the school last week.”
laughter abruptly ended. It
was a somber group that said their goodbyes and went their separate ways a
few minutes later.