October 3, 1995
Trixie emerged from the lunch line, she was nudged in the back with a
come sit with us,” Riss Parkman grinned.
grinned back, “Sure.”
the girls made their way over to Riss’ special table, the boys waiting
there looked up. Noticing
Riss’ companion, they both smiled.
Chris’ smile was brighter than Paul’s, and his gray eyes lit up
upon seeing Trixie.
snickered, “Man, you’ve got it so bad.”
nonchalantly picked up a french fry from his tray and threw it at Paul’s
face. Paul laughed and thanked him for not dipping it into his
set her tray of tuna salad and potato chips next to Paul’s, kissing
him on the cheek as she sat down. “I
see you two are getting along smashingly, as usual.”
giggled as she set her cheeseburger-laden tray down and sat beside Chris. “It’s nice to know there are some constants in the
threw his arm around Riss’ shoulder and pulled her close.
“My love, you can’t leave me alone with Mr. Perfect and expect
me to behave.”
snorted. “You can’t
expect him to behave, anywhere, ever.”
laughed. She was always
amazed at how easily she seemed to fit into this tight-knit group, and how
she felt as comfortable with their bantering as she did with the
looked pointedly across the table at Trixie.
“So, Short Stuff, are you joining us for practice today?”
jaw dropped. She looked at
Paul like he was crazy, then looked down at her left arm resting on the
table. After staring at the multitude of colorful signatures on her
cast for a moment, she looked up at Chris.
“Is he kidding?” she asked him.
smiled the slow, sexy smile that had half of the females in the school
swooning. “Blue Eyes, even
with your arm in a cast, you could probably beat the pants off that
basked in the compliment and stared into his eyes.
She returned the smile with one equally as slow, and unwittingly,
equally as sexy.
you think so?” she asked in a low, sultry voice.
I know so,” he replied, practically purring.
cleared his throat loudly and theatrically.
“Um, still here, folks. Just
in case you forgot you weren’t completely alone in a cafeteria full of
roughly 200 other people.”
smacked him hard on the arm, and spoke as if he hadn’t said a word.
“Actually, that’s not a bad idea.
We’ll tie Paul’s arm behind his back and see if Trixie can beat
and Trixie were so busy staring at each other and smiling that it took a
moment for her words to register. Paul
rolled his eyes.
Trixie realized what Riss had said, and turned to look at Paul
appraisingly. “Sounds like
a plan,” she said at last. “I’ll
mop the floor with you.”
hooted. “You’re getting
too cocky, Belden. I’m
gonna enjoy putting you in your place.”
grinned at Riss. “This is
going to be a whole lot of fun to watch.”
grinned back. “Definitely.”
lunch was over, Trixie bid farewell to the group of seniors and promised
to meet them after school. Heading
in the opposite direction down the hallway, she found herself face-to-face
with Beth Fleming.
day soon, Belden, your flirting will be the death of you,” Beth taunted
coldly, before turning and heading back the way from whence she had come.
stood staring after her for a minute.
I won’t let her get to me, she told herself, forcing her
face into a mask of composure. She
took a deep breath, tried to force all thoughts of Beth Fleming from her
mind, and headed off for class.
she slid into her seat next to Tad, he looked up and smiled at her.
She smiled back, but it was stiff and forced, her mind still on
Beth's taunts. He
immediately frowned and leaned closer to her.
Resting an arm on the back of her chair, he asked her, “Is
saw the concern clouding the turquoise-blue eyes, and was warmed by it.
She relaxed, and her face softened into a gentle smile.
“Nothing’s wrong. Thank you for caring.”
studied her for a moment. He
observed how she had relaxed, and he saw the warmth in the pools of
sapphire shining back at him. Apparently
satisfied that she was okay, he nodded and smiled.
He rubbed her back for a second and said, “Just remember, I’m
always here if you need to talk or anything.”
smiled wider and said, “Thanks.”
Then they both settled back in their seats for class.
to their word, when the four practice partners arrived at the Community
Center, Riss tied Paul’s arm behind his back and handed him the ball.
She and Chris sat down to enjoy the show.
and Trixie passed the ball back and forth a few times, and practiced
dribbling. Then they started to play.
It was slow going, and they both played terribly at first.
Even as they grew more comfortable with the one-armed play, it was
still difficult. After quite
a while they had each only scored three baskets.
Then Trixie stopped where she was and took a wild shot from
half-court that swished into the basket with poetic form.
and Riss cheered, and Trixie grinned.
Paul grabbed the rebound and tossed the ball back to her.
“I dare you to do that again,” he taunted.
and Riss exchanged a knowing glance.
Trixie Belden wouldn’t back down from a challenge.
Trixie grabbed the ball and tossed it again.
And again. And again.
After she’d made the seventh straight basket, she called to Paul,
tucked the ball under his free arm and walked over to her.
“Before you made the first basket, I was all ready to quit. I was going to tell you that I can’t believe how hard it is
to work without an arm, and I give you a lot of credit for seeming to
function normally all day at school with that cast on.
Now, I may actually have to bow to your basketball prowess.”
With that he winked and bent into a deep, deep bow.
like you’re out of excuses for skipping practice, Trix,” Riss teased.
Chris piped up. “I just
can’t play without my partner anymore.”
laughed and shook her head. “You’re
all nuts! All right, fine. You want me to play, I’ll play.
Let’s get the game on!”
foursome proceeded to play a light scrimmage.
They gave some consideration to Trixie’s cast, but not much.
She didn’t really need it. By
the time they were done, she was feeling exhilarated. The high from playing and doing so well completely made up
for the exhaustion and headache the workout had caused.
rested an arm around her shoulders. “That
was great. You definitely
need me to treat you to dinner, Blue Eyes.”
laughed at him. “Oh,
I need to thank you for bringing the life back into this practice
group. It was so dull without
you.” He gave her that
smile of his.
smiled back. “Well, I do
have to get Bobby, you know.”
“So? I’ll treat Bobby, too.”
nodded. “Okay, fine. That sounds like fun.”
you guys coming to Wimpy’s?” Paul asked.
turned to him. “Yeah.
It’s about time we took you up on that raincheck.”
Riss said. “Come on, Trix. Let’s get freshened up while we let the manly-men retrieve
she was herding Trixie to the locker room, she leaned down and asked,
“So? Did you miss us?”
laughed and shook her head. “You
know, I didn’t realize how much until now.”
nodded knowingly. “See?
We’ve sucked you in. Come,
join the Dark Side…”
guys shook their heads at the laughter coming from the girls.
Paul laughed ruefully. “I
just don’t understand.”
looked at him questioningly. “Understand
have a girlfriend. I am not
at all interested in Trixie, unlike some people I know.
And yet, I can feel it happening… I’m falling under her
laughed. “See, I told you. She’s amazing.”
groaned when he saw the look on his friend’s face.
“Okay, okay, stop mooning over her.
Let’s go get ready so you can take her to dinner, complete with
the ultimate chaperone: Bobby Belden.”
stopped short and looked at Paul in amazement. “Wow.
They are complete geniuses.”
was confused. “Who?”
and Mrs. Belden. Most of the
time when she is around me outside of school, and when she’s around Tad,
too, Bobby is with her. Mart
and Brian would be way too obvious, but Bobby isn't.
thinks she’s babysitting. She’s completely fooled. The
question is, does Bobby know his real purpose?”
eyes narrowed. “I don’t
think anyone gives that boy enough credit.
He's a heck of a lot smarter than he lets on.”
nodded thoughtfully. “I
think I would be well-advised to become good friends with young Robert.
Good friends indeed.”
that case,” Paul grinned, “Wimpy’s is a good place to start.”
friends laughed, and headed off to get ready for what had suddenly become
a very important dinner.