September 22, 1995
Belden stared morosely at the leftover food she was packing away into the
refrigerator. She thought
back to the previous weekend. Although
she’d been upset and tense over her daughter’s latest trouble with
criminals, she hadn’t had any time to dwell on it.
She’d had a large houseful, with mouths to feed, dishes to wash,
ruffled feathers to sooth and lots of people to love.
She’d been in her element.
contrast with this weekend was painful.
Brian was back at school; Bobby had gone to spend the night with
the Lynch twins, like he did every Friday; and Mart had gone to Wimpy’s
with the other Bob-Whites, like he did every Friday.
Even Trixie, who preferred to stay home on Friday nights, hadn’t
been at dinner. She’d had a
horribly exhausting week and had fallen asleep as soon as she arrived home
from school. Peter had
insisted on letting her sleep, so it had been just the two of them for
loved her husband dearly. She
loved to have dinner alone with him – when he took her out for the
evening. Not at home. Not
when she’d worked at cooking a good meal for her family. A family meal was not meant to be for just the two of them.
just couldn’t understand how her house had gotten so quiet.
She had expected to feel bad about Brian going away to college;
what mother wouldn’t? But
she had three other children still at home, and Crabapple Farm was the
favorite hangout for their friends. So
how did her house get so empty?
one last swipe at her too-clean kitchen counter, she wandered into the
living room. Peter was
kneeling on the floor, reaching under the end table.
He appeared to be playing with the wires to the phone cord, an
instruction booklet opened beside him.
on the doorframe, she quirked an eyebrow at him.
“Dare I ask what you are doing?”
jumped, banging his head on the table.
“Ow! Don’t sneak
up on me like that.” He
extricated himself from the table and the wires.
“I am installing the cordless phone, if you must know.”
stared at him. “I can’t
believe you did that! Your
little princess does not need a cordless phone.”
course she does. We all do.
When you have to take a call while making dinner or doing laundry,
it will make your life easier.” He
smiled at her. “Did you
really doubt me when I said I was going to do this?”
shrugged, a look of consternation on her face.
“I guess I didn’t take you seriously.
We’ve made comments about these things in the past, but never
given in before. We have
worked really hard at not spoiling our children.”
nodded in understanding as he stood up and adjusted the phone base on the
table. “A task you consider all the more difficult because of
their circle of friends with their overly-indulgent parents.
I know. But, I also
know that children of different ages require different forms of
cordless phone is discipline?” Helen snorted.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
eyes twinkled merrily. “Of
course it is. Boyfriend
wife looked at him like he had grown another eye in the middle of his
forehead. “And how exactly is letting her take calls privately in her
room 'boyfriend discipline'?”
facilitates Friday nights.”
talks to Brian on Friday nights.”
my love, that is not the whole story,” Peter walked over to his
wife and leaned in conspiratorially.
“She spends large portions of those phone calls to Boston talking
sighed in frustration. “I
still don’t follow your logic. You
used to wish you could keep those two apart.”
chuckled. “That’s not
humanly possible. And I only
wished that because they were so young.
However, I have known since the first time I ever saw them together that
they were meant to be.”
walked across the room and sat on the couch.
Patting the seat beside him, he continued, “Right now, Jim is
safe. He is hundreds of miles away.
If they were to start dating, I would only have to worry during the
holidays. Jim is not my main
plopped into the seat next to him. “Something
tells me this explanation is going to get more and more devious.”
of course,” he said, stroking his mustache.
“The real problems here are Tad Webster and Chris Zack.
She spends a great deal of time with those boys, and I’m betting
they are both very interested in my daughter.
I’m only guessing about Chris, because I haven’t spent any time
with the two of them. But I
watched Tad all last weekend. He
adores her. He’s a good
kid, but he’s also a hormonal teen-aged boy.
His thoughts about my daughter are not entirely pure.”
how does giving her a portable phone to talk to Jim take care of them?”
simple. Even if she spends
all her time with Chris and Tad, and Jim dates every girl in Boston, they
still have a hold on each other. As
long as she spends every Friday on the phone with Jim, no other boy will
ever get too far with her. It
will be better protection than sending a brother as a chaperone.”
He placed his hands behind his head and grinned triumphantly. “Jim Frayne will always be in the way, even if she
doesn’t realize it.”
closed her eyes and shook her head. “That
is the most ridiculous theory I have ever heard.
You are just not normal.”
snorted. “Oh, and Trixie
is? Are you seriously trying
to tell me that we have an average, ordinary fifteen-year-old girl on our
in exasperation, she replied, “Obviously not, or she wouldn’t get
herself nearly killed every other week.”
She’s not normal. She’s extraordinary. Dealing
with an extraordinary child calls for extraordinary measures.
Normal tactics simply will not work.”
hope you know what you’re doing,” Helen said with resignation.
then the phone rang. Peter
looked at his watch. “Seven-thirty
on Friday. I guarantee you
that’s Jim.” He reached
over and picked up the new portable phone off its base.
Mr. Belden,” Jim’s voice replied.
looked at Helen victoriously. “Good
evening, Jim. How are you
fine, sir. Is Trixie
on while I get her.” Peter
pushed the hold button on the phone.
looked at the phone cynically. “Top-of-the-line
model, I take it.”
course. Nothing but the best
for my Princess.”
glared at him. “You
wouldn’t let me wake her for dinner, but you’re going to wake her to
talk to Jim?”
“Yup. She’s had a nice, long nap, and now
it's time to socialize. Besides,
she’s probably hungry. You
go fix her a tray and I’ll bring it up to her in a few minutes.” With that, Peter hurried up the stairs with the portable
phone in hand.
rose and went to the kitchen to fix her daughter a dinner tray, grumbling
all the way about spoiled little princesses and daddies who were wrapped
around little girls’ fingers.