morning Trixie was feeling the effects of her late night.
She hauled herself out of bed at eight-thirty, very late for a
Belden. Moms was in the
kitchen, just finishing the batter for fresh blueberry muffins.
She shook her head when she saw her bedraggled daughter.
have to ask Maddie if Brian looks this bad.
She was going to pick them up at nine for breakfast.”
grimaced, then her eyes twinkled. “Jim
must look worse. He wasn’t
home yet when Brian hung up.” She
took the batter from her mother and filled the muffin tins.
raised an eyebrow. “What
time did he go out?”
he left around ten-thirty,” Trixie said casually.
She moved to the oven to put the muffins in to bake.
She opened the door, then quickly slammed it shut.
Her face drained of color, and her eyes were panicked as she turned
to her mother. “Moms, did
you know there is a copperhead in there?”
blue eyes widened, and she ran a hand through her sandy curls.
Then she gave up all pretense of remaining calm and screamed,
came running. His wife never
panicked; such a scream could not be good.
“What’s wrong?” he panted.
“C-c-copperhead. I-in the o-oven,” Trixie stammered.
looked inside the oven carefully. Then
he went to the phone. When a
voice answered on the other end, he was neither calm nor polite.
Without preamble he said, “Tell Sergeant Molinson to get his ass
out to Crabapple Farm NOW!”
and Dan returned from Mr. Maypenny’s cabin a while later.
When they reached the edge of the farm and saw the police car in
the driveway, they broke into a run.
They tore into the kitchen at full speed, breathing hard.
going on?” Mart demanded.
Belden answered him shakily, “There was a copperhead in the oven.”
don’t try to convince me it crawled in there itself,” Peter
sighed. “Not in the Belden household.”
looked around for Trixie. She
was standing in a corner, staring vacantly.
He worried she was in shock. He
walked over to her and lifted her chin.
When she finally met his eyes, hers were filled with tears.
Fear and confusion raged in her face.
wish I knew, darlin’, I wish I knew.”
He wrapped his arms around her.
She buried her face in his chest, and hugged him tightly.
He could feel her trembling. He
stroked her hair and whispered softly to her while she cried quietly.
watched Dan comforting Trixie. He
felt a wave of anger overpowering him.
How dare this psycho keep torturing his sister like this!?
turned to his parents. “Where’s
father struggled to speak calmly. “He’s
still at the Lynches’ house.”
said, “I’d rather he stay there until this is taken care of.”
nodded. He turned to the sergeant.
“Will you be much longer?”
I’m just about done.” He
looked over at Trixie, still crying on Dan’s shoulder.
His gaze softened briefly, then his face hardened in anger and
determination. He looked back
at Mart. “Don’t let her
out of your sight.”
stepped back from Dan and reached for a tissue, but held onto his hand.
“I want to go get Bobby. I
need to talk to Di.”
looked at Mart, who nodded. Dan
said, “We’ll drive you. I
left the wagon up by the stables. Let
me go get it and come back for you. I’ll
just be a few minutes.” He
held Trixie’s eyes for a minute. “Everything
will be okay, I promise.”
nodded. She said softly, “Thanks, Dan.”
moved to stand next to Mart while Dan went to get the car.
He put his arm around her shoulder.
Molinson and Mr. and Mrs. Belden moved into the living room.
I’m sorry,” Mart said, planting a kiss on her forehead.
leaned her head on his shoulder. “Me
too. I know you were just
trying to take care of me.”
but I promised myself I wouldn’t turn into Brian and Jim.
Instead, I became worse.”
sighed. “How about if we just stick together?”
smiled. “I like that plan.”
the Lynch estate, Mart and Dan went into the rec room to play video games
with Larry, Terry and Bobby. They
wanted to give the girls a chance to talk alone.
Di took Trixie up to her room, where Trixie told her about the
snake. Trixie also apologized
for being so harsh with Di, and they had a good long talk.
were hugging and crying when Trixie suddenly got mad.
She swiped angrily at her tears and said, “I am so sick of
crying. I feel like that’s all I’ve done since last night.
I hate crying!”
know you do, sweetie. But why
were you crying last night?”
looked blank for a moment. What
had made her cry last night? Oh,
yeah, the intense conversation with Jim about their friendship and dating
others. There was no way in hell
she was telling Di about that. Um,
now what do I say?
I was filling Jim and Brian in on the situation…”
eyebrows shot up. “Wow!
You actually went to the Overprotective Ones with this?
And they’re not here yet?”
laughed ruefully. “They
came really close to hopping in the car and coming home last night, let me
tell you. Talking them down was difficult.
And that was last night. They
don’t even know about the copperhead.”
sighed. “I don’t want to
be the one to tell them about that, to be sure.
I bet they end up coming home yet.”
got up and went to the window. She
stood, looking out at the trees which were everywhere in their little
corner of the world. Finally she said, “Last night I was so sure that I didn’t
want them to come. I wanted
to be able to get through my first crisis without them, just to prove to
all of us that I could survive them going away without getting myself or
anyone else killed.”
up to stand by the window, Di looked carefully at her friend’s face.
The normally spunky little blonde looked tired, drawn, and
frightened. Softly, she
questioned, “And now?”
again, tears ran slowly down from the big blue eyes.
“I always feel safe with them.
Right now I'm very scared.”
Then she got angry again and stamped her foot.
“And I hate being scared!”
Di said, “Everyone gets scared. The
thing I’ve always admired about you, though, is that you don’t let
fear paralyze you. You think
through the situation, no matter how frightening, and find a plan or a
clue. You keep moving, keep
trying, and keep hoping.”
snorted derisively, “Yeah, keep hoping some big, strong, overprotective
male will come rescue me from whatever I’ve foolishly and recklessly
gone and done now.” In a voice laden with self-loathing she continued, “And
I’ll take the stupid lecture and be glad of it, because otherwise I’d
had poked his head into the room just in time to hear his sister’s last
comment. He scowled fiercely.
Diana caught his eye, and looked at him helplessly.
He shook his head as if to say, Leave it go for now.
his throat loudly, Mart said, “Trix, Moms just called.
Tad came by to get you. She
filled him in, and he’s on his way over here.”
didn’t turn from the window, but she looked at her watch and sighed.
Leaning her forehead against the cool pane, she said, “I really
don’t feel like studying.”
shrugged. “Why don’t we all go do something fun, then?”
the door behind him, Mart headed back down to the rec room.
Dan took one look at his expression and pulled him aside into the
adjoining family room. Mrs.
Lynch joined them.
did she say about Tad?” Dan asked.
that she didn’t feel like studying,” Mart replied grimly.
all?” Dan was shocked.
just stared out the window. She
wouldn’t turn to look at me, and I got the distinct impression she’s
Lynch shook her head. “Look,
she needs some cheering up. Di
is trying to help her by letting her pour her heart out, but I’m sure
that’s only causing her to focus on the negative.
Take her to Wimpy’s for lunch.”
nodded, “I did suggest we do something fun, and I don’t think she’s
eaten yet today.”
is very public, so it’s less likely that something will happen there,”
Sherry encouraged him. “It
will be filled with kids in the middle of the day on a Saturday, so Trixie
will plaster a smile on her face to make a good show.
Keep her there until she relaxes, and the smile starts to be
agreed, “That’s not a bad plan.”
Then he grinned conspiratorially.
“Besides, if something does happen, Molinson will have a shorter
got a chuckle out of Mart. “Alright,
let’s drag my sad-sack sibling out for an enjoyable repast at our
raised an eyebrow. “My
goodness, Mart, you almost sound like your old self.”
He blushed. She smiled
and said, “Let me go get the girls.
I’ll be right back.”