Will You Dance,

If I Ask You to Dance?




Friday, October 20, 1995


As the bell rang to end French class, Tad slipped Trixie a folded piece of paper.  He winked at her, and said, “Here’s your homework for tonight.  By the time you get to my house tomorrow, you need to have translated this message, and composed a reply in French.”

Trixie groaned out loud.  “Don’t you think the teachers give me enough homework?  Do you really have to add to my burden?”  She flashed him a quick, teasing smile, and hurried off to her next class.

Tad stared after her, as he headed down the hall at a much more sedate pace.  How would she respond when she figured out what the note said?

While Trixie settled herself in her next class, she flipped open the note from Tad and read it quickly.  Then she frowned and studied it intensely.  She started to reach for her French dictionary, but was interrupted by her teacher’s voice calling for desks to be cleared.  Mrs. McMahon had decided that this Friday afternoon was a wonderful time for a pop quiz in Math.

Trixie quickly shoved the note into her pocket and tried to shove the message from her thoughts, so she could concentrate on the quiz.  She wanted to do well in this class.  She just wouldn't think about the note until later, because she would need the dictionary to translate it.  Besides, it couldn’t possibly say what she thought it said... she must have gotten several words wrong.

For the rest of the afternoon, whenever she could, she would slip out her French dictionary and look up a word quickly.  By the time the last bell rang, she had found them all.  On the way to the bus, she pulled the note out of her pocket and read it again:

Voulez-vous assister à la soirée dansante

du retour au foyer avec moi?

She reviewed the words she had searched for earlier.  Assister à meant “to attend”, as in “to go with someone to something”.  Soirée dansante meant “a dance”.  And retour au foyer meant “homecoming”.  Rough translation:

Would you like to go to

the Homecoming Dance with me?

She could not believe her eyes.  Tad wanted to take her to Homecoming!

Trixie was so absorbed in her note, that she did not see Chris Zack coming towards her.  She walked right into him - and would have fallen on her butt, had he not grabbed her.

She crumpled the note in her right hand, and looked up into the pale gray eyes that seemed to look into her soul.  Chris smiled gently.  He kept his arms around her as he asked, “Lost in thought, Blue Eyes?”

Trixie rested her arms on his.  She was enjoying the feeling of his arms around her, and she loved it when he called her Blue Eyes.  Chris caught his breath, as she smiled a slow, lazy smile. 

“Actually, I was.  I’m sorry I almost barreled you over.”

Almost? Chris thought.  You did – the day I met you.

Aloud, he said, “I was actually looking for you.  I wanted to ask you something.”

Mesmerized by the look in his eyes, Trixie couldn’t speak.  She raised an eyebrow, silently encouraging him to ask his question.

Tightening his arms ever so slightly, Chris lowered his head a little.  His soft voice was meant for her ears only.  “I was hoping you would do me the honor of allowing me to escort the most beautiful girl in the school to the Homecoming Dance.”

Trixie’s eyebrows shot up.

Before she could say a word, however, Chris stopped her.  “And don’t give me any nonsense.  I mean you.  You, Trixie Belden, are the most beautiful girl I have ever met, inside and out.”

Her heart was pounding.  The blood rushing through her veins sounded like Niagara Falls to her ears.  Her knees felt weak, but she knew she couldn’t fall; Chris’ strong arms still held her.

Trying to force the thoughts swirling around her brain into some coherent pattern, Trixie suddenly focused on the crumpled note in her hand.  She frowned. 

Chris was actually starting to understand the many and varied emotions that would dance across her face from moment to moment.  He released her and stepped back.  “Don’t tell me I’m too late,” he said.  “Did someone else already ask you?”

He questioned her intently with his eyes.  He couldn’t believe how nervous he was.  It wasn’t about finding a date; he would have no problem with that.  It was just that the only date he wanted was Trixie.

Trixie couldn’t meet his eyes.  She fumbled with the paper in her hands.  “Well…”

“Blue Eyes, look at me,” Chris said softly.

Trixie raised her eyes to meet his.  His eyes told her that all he wanted was an honest answer.  He deserves at least that, she realized.

“That’s what this note is,” she said.  “The one I was reading when I bumped into you: it’s an invitation to Homecoming.”

“So, technically, he asked first,” Chris said.  Trixie nodded.  He stared at her for a very long moment.  He moved a step closer.  “And what was your answer to him going to be?” he breathed.

“I - I don’t remember,” Trixie whispered, again mesmerized by his look.

Okay, Chris, play fair with her.  “Trixie, what are you doing tomorrow night?”

Furrowing her brow, Trixie stammered, “T-t-tomorrow?”

“Yes, tomorrow.”

“Nothing,” she said, looking at him questioningly.

“Then let’s do this:  You think about it.  You talk to Mr. Note Writer tomorrow.  Then tomorrow night, I’ll take you to the Cameo.  You can answer me then.” He gave her a small smile and looked at her hopefully.

Trixie could barely manage to nod her head yes.

“Good,” Chris said.  He clasped her hands in his and raised them to his lips.  “I’ll pick you up at seven.”  Then he hurried off, before he said anything more to try and unfairly influence her decision.

After breathlessly watching his retreating form for a brief moment, Trixie turned in the direction of the bus.  Honey was standing at the door waiting for her, and the driver was looking impatient.  It was only then that Trixie realized, with unmitigated horror, that everyone on the bus had just witnessed the entire scene with Chris.  She glanced at the bus windows and could very clearly make out the faces of the two people she least wanted to see right now:  Mart Belden and Tad Webster.  Shaking her head at Honey, she turned and walked away.

Honey hesitated.  After a moment, she signaled the driver to leave without them, and she rushed off to follow Trixie.

When she caught up with her, she asked, “Where are you going?”

Trixie was startled by the question; she hadn’t realized Honey had followed her.  She made a face and said wryly, “Home.  I just didn’t want to ride the same bus as big brother.  I thought a two-mile walk would be far more relaxing.”

Honey chuckled.  “Are you sure you want to walk?  I could call Tom and ask him to come and get us, you know.”

Trixie impulsively turned and gave her friend a quick hug.  “You’re wonderful, Honey.  And thanks for the offer.  You really didn’t have to follow me.”

“I know, but you looked like you needed a friend.  I’m always here for you.”

“Thanks, Hon."  Trixie smiled.  "Would it be okay with you if we just walked?  Two miles isn’t that far, and it’s a nice day.  I’m really not in any hurry to get home, and I could use the time to think.”  She gave Honey an imploring look.  “Please, let’s just walk.”

Honey nodded agreeably.  “If that’s what you want, that’s fine with me.”

With that, the two girls walked off in a companionable silence.







When the bus let Mart off at Crabapple Farm, he ran up the driveway at top speed.  He tore through the house, up the stairs, and to his room.  After dumping his things, he headed for the phone in the hallway.

Helen Belden was still recovering from the tornado that had just blown past her, when Mart came barreling down the stairs again.

“Moms, have you talked to Brian?” Mart yelled.  He sounded panicked.

Helen paused a moment, as if to force patience upon her son.  She answered slowly, “Yes, I have.  This afternoon, in fact.  Why?”

“I just called him, and one of his roommates said he was out of town for the weekend!”

“Yes,” she nodded.  “He called to tell me his plans.  Again, I will ask:  Why?”

Mart looked almost alarmed.  “Does Trixie know this?”

Helen raised one eyebrow.  She was beginning to understand Trixie’s impatience when she couldn’t solve a mystery.  The longer Mart dodged her question, the more her curiosity was piqued.  The advantage of maturity, however, was that she had learned better how to hide her impatience.  And she was a lot more patient with Mart than she was with Trixie, lately.

“No, Mart, Trixie doesn’t know yet,” Helen answered calmly.  “She will later.  By the way, where is she?”

Mart gave a start, just now becoming aware that his mother did not know about Trixie skipping the bus home.  “I’m not sure, but I think she walked home.  I am sure she didn’t take the bus, because I saw her walk away from it, and I’m pretty sure it was because she didn’t want to be near me, because I saw the look she gave me before she walked away.”

She tried to fight the laughter, but it was a losing battle.  Helen laughed for several minutes, before she was able to speak again.  Mart stared at her in confusion, wondering if she had completely lost her mind.

“Oh, Mart, yesterday I accused Trixie of sounding like you.  Now you sound like Trixie.  You two are acting more and more like twins every day!”  Her eyes twinkled and she giggled, as she continued, “And you two thought looking alike was bad!”

Mart threw up his hands in exasperation.  “Moms, please!  Return to the topic at hand, if you don’t mind.”

Regaining her composure, Helen concentrated on her middle son’s agitation.  “Okay, Mart, why were you rushing to call Brian?  Why are you worried about Trixie knowing his plans?  And what did you do to your sister to make her want to walk home?”

Mart sputtered, “Me? I…what do you mean me?  I didn’t do anything!”

“Then try answering my other questions.”

Mart took a deep breath.  “Okay.  Something happened this afternoon.  Nothing bad, I don’t think.  I’m not sure what happened, but I am sure Trixie didn’t want to give me an opportunity to ask any questions.”  He furrowed his brow.  “Anyway, I was trying to call Brian to give him a heads-up.  I know she’ll want to talk to him about it, and it is Friday, after all.”

As he paused for a breath, his mother interrupted, “I’m curious:  what does this being Friday have to do with anything?”

He gave her a withering glare.  “Just because Trixie wants to keep her Fridays private does not mean that I am unaware of her telephonic rendezvous with our eldest sibling.  Her detective gene has worn off on me enough that I couldn’t allow her to have a little mystery of her own.  However, when I spied on her long enough to realize what she was doing on Fridays, I decided to leave well enough alone.  She remains ignorant of my knowledge.”

Helen’s eyes widened.  “I am amazed at your self-control!"  She paused.  "Okay, you know she spends Fridays on the phone with Brian.  So what were you trying to give him the heads-up about?”

Mart sighed.  “Trixie headed for the bus after school.  Chris Zack stopped her to talk to her.  He had his arms around her the entire time they were talking.  They were looking kind of dreamy, and everyone on the bus watched the whole thing.  Plus, Tad seemed really upset about it.  After Chris left, Trixie realized Tad had been watching.  That’s when she gave me a dirty look and headed in the other direction.”

Helen frowned, deep in thought.  “You’re right.  She’s not going to talk to anyone but Brian.”  She smiled gently before continuing, “However, I wouldn’t worry about tonight, if I were you.  Brian’s Friday night class was cancelled, so he decided to come home for the weekend.  Jim was more than happy to show off that new car Matt had delivered to him at school.  They had dinner plans, and they are heading home after that.”

Mart grinned with relief.  “Trixie will be ecstatic!”

“He wants this to be a surprise,” Helen said, fixing him with a stern look.  “He asked me to tell her that he won’t be around this evening, and he will talk to her later.  You are to make sure she’s at Wimpy’s at ten.”

He started to protest that Trixie wouldn’t want to go out, but his mother cut him off.  “I don’t care what it takes, Mart.  Brian made a simple request.  Find a way.  Just make sure she’s there!”

With that, Helen returned to her housework.  Mart went to his room to change his clothes and to try to figure out how to get his sister to do the one thing she always refused to do:  go out with the gang on Friday night.  Why do I get all the hard jobs?







Trixie and Honey cut through the preserve.  It was a perfect fall day.  The leaves were a rainbow of brilliant fall colors: rich red, bright orange, golden yellow, and earthy brown.  Many had fallen already, covering the trail with a soft, natural carpet.  The empty spaces in the trees allowed for more sunlight to filter through, shimmering along the colorful canopy overhead.  The air was crisp, but not cold.  The stillness of the forest felt like a giant was holding his breath.  The occasional bird calling its mate echoed in the silence.  It was peaceful and soothing.

Trixie took a deep, cleansing breath.  She sighed heavily and closed her eyes.  When she stumbled over a tree root, she said, “Stupid!  I should know better than to wander through life without watching where I’m going.”

Honey observed her friend thoughtfully.  The short blonde girl seemed to be making a comment about life in general, rather than tree roots on the trail.  Her shoulders were slumped, and she had a dejected air about her.  “Oh, I don’t know, Trix.  It seems to me that you notice a lot of things most people miss,” she began offhandedly, waiting to see how Trixie would react.

Trixie snorted indelicately.  “Yeah, sure.  About criminals, things out of place, or suspicious behavior.  Better yet, about things I should keep my nose out of.  But notice important things about people around me?  Observe the feelings of my friends and family?  See the speeding vehicle heading right for me?  No.  I notice everything except the things I should.”

A smile curved Honey’s lips.  “Do you know when you are most likely to miss something?” she asked.  “When you are complimented by it.”

Wide blue eyes turned to stare at her.  “What on earth do you mean?”

Honey launched into a litany of examples.  “You never notice when someone thinks highly of you.  You don’t notice if someone envies you.  You don’t notice the admiring looks you get in the halls.  You don’t notice when you look particularly nice - only when you look your worst.  You always notice Mart’s teasing or Neanderthal routine, but you never notice when he looks at you with pride.

“You always seem to notice situations where you feel Diana and I outshine you in looks.  But you never seem to notice the times when your actions, words, and smarts make us seem dumb, dull, and boring when compared with you.”

Honey’s voice softened, “You are only interested in noticing the details that put you in a bad light.  You really have blinders on, Trix.  Open your eyes.”

She stopped, grabbed Trixie by the arm to stop her, and looked her best friend in the eye.  She gently told her, “If you could only see in yourself what the rest of the world sees in you, you would be amazed.  Trust me.”

Tears welled up in the pools of blue.  Arms reached out, and a silent embrace spoke of immeasurable love and support.






The girls arrived at Crabapple Farm a short while later.  They had finished their walk in companionable silence, and Trixie was still not in the mood to talk.  When they entered the kitchen, they found normal Crabapple Chaos.

Mart, Di, and Dan were seated at the kitchen table, homework spread out before them, sharing a snack of homemade cookies and cold milk.  Mrs. Belden was trying to wash a streak of mud off the face of a squirming Bobby.  Mr. Belden was trying to walk through the room, but Reddy kept walking in front of him.  Every direction he turned, so would Reddy.  Peter was struggling just to stay on his feet.  The radio was blaring, and the phone was ringing.  Trixie and Honey took in the scene around them and laughed.

Mart grabbed the phone, spoke for a brief moment, and hung up.  Mrs. Belden finished with Bobby’s face and zipped his jacket.  The Belden parents and Bobby then headed for the back door, informing Trixie they were going out to dinner.

Just before stepping outside, Helen turned to her daughter and said, “Oh, Trixie, I almost forgot.  Your date had a change of schedule for this evening.  He won’t be able to keep your plans, but he said he’d talk to you later.”

With a smirk, she turned and walked out the door.

Di, Dan, and Honey looked at Trixie with comically identical slack-jawed expressions of shock.  Mart went to the sink to rinse his glass, so that no one could see his face.

Trixie stared after her mother in dismay.  “He can’t do that to me!” she wailed.  “Not tonight, of all nights!”

She turned and ran to her room, fighting tears the whole way, and slammed her bedroom door.

Mart sighed inwardly.  I will get Brian for this!







Trixie threw herself onto her bed and buried her face in her pillow.  How could Brian do this?  I need him!

Her thoughts swirled in a tempestuous maelstrom.  She was getting a terrible headache.  She took a few deep breaths, fought back the pounding pain, closed her eyes, and willed herself to sleep.  It was either that or cry, she knew.  And Trixie Belden hated to cry.







Mart slowly turned from the sink, knowing what he would find when he did.  Three pairs of eyes were watching him intently.

“What?” he asked innocently.

Dan spoke first.  “I’m not sure which question I want to ask more.  ‘What date?’ Or ‘Why aren’t you surprised?’”

Diana piped up next.  “I know Trixie has plans every Friday.  I also know that you get upset every time a guy even looks at her.  So how exactly is it that you're calm about this date?”

Now it was Honey’s turn: “And don’t say that you’re calm because it’s cancelled.  Because you know what she does on Fridays, even though you won’t tell us.  And, if she’s been dating on Fridays, you’ve known it.  And, you would have told us if she were dating.  So don’t try to say you didn’t know.”  She closed her eyes in frustration.  “And now I’m not making any sense again.”

“Let me translate,” Di said.  “Mart, you have some ‘splaining to do!”

Mart looked at each of his friends.  He studied their expressions.  Their eyes each told a different story.  The deep, dark eyes were curious; Dan was interested in what Trixie’s secret was, and why Mart was willing to keep it.  The violet eyes were worried; Di was concerned because Mart was keeping something from her, and they were supposed to have total honesty between them.  She also worried when Trixie hid things, because that usually meant trouble.  The hazel eyes flashed from fury to hurt and back again.  Honey had been feeling hurt for weeks that Trixie wanted Friday nights to herself.  Now she was deeply wounded, because she thought Trixie had shared her secret with Mart.  Worse yet, it appeared to involve a boy - and she’d kept that a secret from Honey, as well.

Mart sighed deeply.  He chose his words carefully.  “Okay, I am going to say three things on the subject, and then it's closed.  First, you are all way off base.  You think you know what’s going on, and you don’t.  Second, Trixie doesn't know that I know, and she’d probably flip out if she did.  Third, tonight is not the night to interrogate her about this.  Drop it.  Let it be.  Tomorrow you can bring it up again.  But do not discuss it tonight.”

He headed for the refrigerator, his body language indicating very clearly that he would not say another word on the matter.  “Right now, we are going to have some sandwiches.  Then, we are going to the play at school, like we had planned.  Then, we are going to Wimpy’s for a late dinner.  And we are going to take Trixie with us, even if I have to drag her by her hair.”

The others laughed at that image.  They looked at each other, sending silent messages.  They would leave their questions for later, but it was only a brief reprieve.  This discussion was far from over.







When they were done eating, Mart went upstairs to get Trixie.  He had left her alone while they ate, because he knew she wouldn’t be hungry.  He knocked on her door, but wasn’t surprised that there was no answer.

After a minute or two, he quietly opened the door.  He was surprised to see that she was asleep.  She looked so peaceful lying there, part of him wanted to just leave her be.  However, he also knew he had to get her to go out with them.

Sitting next to Trixie on the edge of the bed, Mart reached out and brushed a curl off her face before gently shaking her shoulder.  “Princess, wake up,” he said softly.

Eyelashes fluttered for a moment, before blue eyes opened slowly.  Trixie looked up at Mart in confusion.  As sleep wore off, memory returned.  She scowled at her brother.

Before she had a chance to start a tirade, Mart held up his hand.  “Look, I’m sorry to wake you, but I promised Moms I’d make you go out with us tonight.  She didn’t want me to leave you alone.”

She sighed heavily.  “Of course not.  Why would Moms want to let me decide my evening for myself?" she said bitterly.  "Mart, I’d really rather be alone.”

“I know, Trix.  And I know all you want to do right now is talk to Brian.  And I know you don’t want to talk to me, because I’m not Brian.  Isn’t there anything I can do to help?” he asked, looking down at her with anxious blue eyes.

The oh-so similar eyes looking back at him widened in amazement.  Her jaw dropped.  She searched his face for a long moment.  “How long have you known?”

He gave her half a smile.  “Three weeks.”

“And you didn’t say anything?” she asked with wonder.

“It meant so much to you to keep it to yourself.  I can respect that.”  He looked away for a minute, focusing on some distant place.  Then he returned to meet her searching gaze.

“Look, I know I act like a jerk about other guys wanting to be around you.  I’m sorry.  But guys my age are idiots, and I worry about you getting hurt.  The gunshot wound you got last month was less hazardous than the emotional number a teenaged boy could pull on you.

“Your Fridays are different.  You aren’t doing anything dangerous.  And as for someone hurting you, you’re as safe as you can be.  Brian loves you more than anything and would kill anyone who hurt you.  If the whole gang knew that’s what you were up to on Fridays, they’d horn in.”  He shrugged.  “You deserve to have that time with Brian.  So I respect that.”

Trixie’s eyes filled with tears.  She sat up on her knees and wrapped her arms around his neck.  Squeezing him tightly, she said, “You are awesome!”

Mart hugged her back. 

After a long moment, Trixie leaned back so she could see his face.  “I have different relationships with the two of you because you’re different people.  Even though I find it easier to talk to Brian, you need to know that I love you just as much.  Thank you for being my brother.”

Mart smiled gently at first, but it slowly turned into a wide, devilish grin.  “Okay, how about we just keep this to ourselves.  Pretend I browbeat and threatened you, and that’s why you’re going out with us tonight.”

Trixie laughed.  “Okay, big brother, you’re on!”





Author's Notes



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