Will You Dance,

If I Ask You to Dance?




The Bob-Whites rushed to the school for the play, Trixie grumbling all the way about being made to be sociable.  Only Mart saw the twinkle in her eye.  She was actually enjoying keeping up appearances for him, which was a good sign.

After the play, they went to Wimpy’s.  They ate; they talked; they laughed.  Trixie was almost back to her old self, and everyone was having a good time.  They hadn’t noticed how full the place had gotten, nor how many of their school friends were there.

Trixie had just excused herself to the ladies’ room when Mart saw Brian push the front door open.  He caught his brother’s eye, before anyone else at the table noticed him, and looked at the hallway to the restrooms.  Brian caught his meaning and winked, then headed in that general direction.

Trixie came out of the ladies’ room and headed toward her table, glancing casually up at the figure walking her way.  She stopped suddenly, as she recognized him.  Brian grinned.  Trixie shrieked “Brian!” and ran at him, throwing herself into his arms.  He picked her up and swung her around.  Then he set her down, and they held each other tightly for a moment.

By this time, the rest of the B.W.G.s had heard, seen, and moved in on their friends.  As Trixie stepped back from Brian to allow the others to welcome him, another man stepped up behind her and whispered in her ear, “So what am I, chopped liver?”

Trixie whirled around to meet twinkling green eyes.  She grinned and said, “No way, College Man.  You’re beefcake!”  They laughed together, as she stepped into his warm embrace.

Honey heard this comment and turned, finally noticing Jim.  Like Trixie, she shrieked and rushed to greet her brother.  The others joined her.  After all the hugs, they headed back to their booth.  Greetings were called across the restaurant to old school friends, and Mike welcomed the boys by rushing over to the table with an order of the usual for each of them.

They settled back down, Trixie securely seated between Jim and Brian.  She was glowing.  She felt lighter than air.  Then she remembered her earlier disappointment and punched Brian in the arm.

He jumped and grabbed his arm.  “Ow!  What was that for?”

“For not telling me you were coming!” she retorted.

He grinned at her and brushed a lock of dark hair back off his forehead.  “But then I wouldn’t have gotten to see that priceless look on your face,” he smirked.

She stuck her tongue out at him and turned to Jim.  “And you allow him to torture me like this?”

He put his arm around her shoulder and gave her a squeeze.  “Come on, Trix.  You love a good surprise, and you know it.”

She smiled up at him.  “I know, I know.”

“Thank God you two showed up,” Dan remarked.  “She’s happy now.  You should have seen how miserable she was earlier when she got stood up.”

Jim’s eyebrows shot up.  “Stood up?”  He looked at his best friend and roommate.  “Brian, what kind of idiotic message did you leave for her?”

Brian looked back sheepishly and said, “Just that I couldn’t keep our plans.”

Jim rolled his eyes.  He looked down at the little blonde beside him.  She had her eyes firmly focused on the napkin she was twisting in her hands.  He lifted her chin to meet his gaze.  “Don’t ever listen to such nonsense again,” he told her.  “We would never stand you up.  Friday nights are yours, and you know it.”

Trixie smiled her thanks.

Mart raised an eyebrow.  We would never stand you up’?  Geez, Jim…

Honey finally found her voice.  “Excuse me!” she fairly shouted.  Quieting slightly, she went on, “Do you mean to tell me that the mysterious Friday night plans have been phone calls to Boston?”  She glared accusingly at Trixie.

Trixie blushed and looked back at her napkin.  Brian looked coolly at Honey.  “ Miss Wheeler, how, pray tell, do you spend every Saturday afternoon, while Trixie is studying with Tad?”

Honey narrowed her eyes at Brian.  “I spend them on the phone to Boston, something which is well known amongst the Bob-Whites.  I do not try to hide that fact.”

Diana decided it was time to lighten the situation.  She laughed and said, “Trixie, do all of your troubles these days revolve around guys?”

Everyone else laughed except Trixie.  She was too busy noticing Chris Zack approaching their table.  Neither Trixie nor Jim had realized that he still had his arm around her.  Chris had, however, and was glaring at Jim.

“Hi, guys,” Chris said, maintaining a friendly tone while still glaring at Jim.

Jim noticed the glare and purposely tightened his hold on Trixie.  Trixie’s stomach clenched into a tight knot.  She wondered if she should push Jim’s arm away.  No, I don’t want to.  Jim always made her feel safe, and right now she wanted that feeling.

Chris looked at Trixie.  “Trixie, I hope your brother’s surprise visit won’t interfere with our date for tomorrow night.  I’m still picking you up at seven, right?”

Trixie felt like the world was moving in slow motion.  In a fraction of a second, she noticed so many things.  Chris’ words seemed to have risen above the din of the crowd – it was as if everyone in Wimpy’s had heard them.  Three cheerleaders across the room, including Beth Fleming, turned to glare at her.  Two tables away, Tad whipped his head around to stare daggers at Chris.  Across the table, Mart scowled.  Honey and Di gasped.  Dan’s jaw dropped.  Next to her, Jim tensed up.  Brian looked at her closely, an eyebrow raised questioningly.

Trixie couldn’t breathe.  The pounding of her heart was so loud she was sure every person there could hear it.  She met Chris’ gaze and was surprised by the nervousness she saw there.  Finally, she found her voice.

“Uh, sure Chris.  No problem.  Seven is fine,” she squeaked.  Trixie knew she sounded stupid, but she just couldn’t help it.

Chris smiled, relief apparent in his face.  “Good.  See you then, Blue Eyes.”  He winked at her and walked off, a bounce in his step.

Before Trixie could catch her breath, she saw Tad heading her way.  She closed her eyes.  Not now.  Please God, not now!

Before Tad could reach the table, the barrage of comments started.  Dan jumped in first.  “Is that what the little scene outside the bus was today?  Chris asking you out?”

Honey said, “You didn’t tell me that!”

Di said, “I told you he was interested!”

“'Blue Eyes'?” Mart questioned.

By this time, Tad was standing beside Mart, staring at Trixie.  She wanted to crawl under the table.  Instead, she slowly opened her eyes to look at him.

“Hi, Tad,” she said, very subdued.

“Hi, Trix,” he answered.  He held her gaze for a long moment.  “Listen, it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.  Would you like me to pick you and Bobby up?”

Trixie heard the layers of meaning in his simple question.  He wanted to know if she was still studying with him, but, more importantly, did he still have any chance with her?  And, if she said no, she would be blatantly, obviously, and publicly choosing Chris over him.

“That would be great, Tad,” she said.  She offered him a small smile.  “But Bobby has a Squirts tournament tomorrow, so he won’t be joining us.”

He smiled back.  “Too bad.  I think Mrs. V. cooks just for him.”  Then he asked hopefully, “You will have your assignment done by then, right?”

Her stomach leapt to her throat, then plunged down again.  Feeling somewhat sick, she smiled weakly.  “Of course, Tad.”

“See you tomorrow, then.”

As Tad walked away, Chris caught Trixie’s eye.  He raised an eyebrow in question.  She blushed.

She turned to Brian.  Pleading with her eyes, and begging with her voice, she hissed, “Brian, get me out of here now!”

He leaned down and whispered in her ear, “Relax.  Don’t let them make you nervous.  Smile and have fun with us. We’ll talk at home later.”  He smiled at her, reassurance in his warm brown eyes.

Trixie closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  Jim moved his hand from her shoulder to the back of her neck and tried to massage away the tension.  God, that feels good.  She smiled, and Jim winked back at her.

Mart’s next question brought all the tension back.  “So, Trix, I thought Tad was supposed to be helping you with your homework.  Why do you have to have your assignment done before you go?” he asked innocently.

Trixie put her arms on the table and buried her head in them.  Then she thought of the perfect way to change the subject.  Her head popped up, and she turned to the redhead beside her.

“Jim, I thought you had a date with Shelly tonight?”

Jim blushed.  “Well, when Brian’s class got cancelled and he decided to head home for the weekend, I just decided that I’d rather join him.  Besides,” he grinned evilly, “you’ve had your cast off for two whole days.  You’re overdue for trouble.”

He was rewarded for that remark by Trixie sticking her tongue out at him.  “Okay, smarty-pants.  Did you actually let her know you were ditching her?”

“Um, yeah.  I called and left her a message that I was unexpectedly going home for the weekend.”

“Left her a message!” Trixie hooted.  “And what if she doesn’t get this message on time?”

“Oh, I’m sure she will,” Jim replied sheepishly.  “I left it with her roommate.  Tonya.”

Trixie’s eyebrows shot up.  The Tonya?  The one you stood up when I was shot?”

Dan had been watching the entire exchange with interest, but he could stay out no longer.  “First you stood Tonya up because Trixie was shot, now you stand up her roommate to go see Trixie?”  He gave Trixie an appraising look.  “Trix, you’d better cross B.U. off your list of prospective colleges.  You’re going to have one hell of a reputation there pretty soon!”

While the others laughed, Trixie shot Dan a deadly glare.

Beth Fleming chose that opportune moment to saunter up to the table.  “I see you got your cast off, Trixie.”

Trixie rolled her eyes and replied with dripping sarcasm, “Very observant, Beth.”

“I’m sure you’ve just been dying for that to happen.  Maybe now you can play basketball for real, and Merrissa can stop spotting you points,” Beth smirked.

Trixie’s temper flared, and her eyes flashed fire.  She was really sick and tired of Beth’s taunts.  Reassured by a violet-eyed wink across the table, she calmly gave Beth a cool stare and raised an eyebrow.  She looked across the room to where Merrissa Parkman was sitting in a booth with Chris Zack and her boyfriend, Paul Andrews.  Trixie leaned forward, so Beth wasn’t blocking her view of Merrissa, and raised her voice.

“Hey, Riss!  Beth says you’ve been spotting me points.  Isn’t that cheating?”

Chris choked on his drink, and Paul buried his face behind a menu to smother his laughter.  Merrissa met Trixie’s eye with a twinkle, then frowned at Beth.

“Beth called me a cheater?”  Merrissa asked indignantly.

While Beth sputtered, Trixie called back, “It sure sounded that way to me.”

“I did not!” Beth shouted while stamping her foot.  She whirled to face Brian, who was known for being scrupulously honest.  “Brian, did I say that?”

Brian was honest, but he wasn’t stupid.  He was not siding with Beth Fleming against his own sister.  He regarded Beth thoughtfully.

“Well,” he conceded, “it certainly could have been interpreted that way.”

Beth huffed and stormed out of the restaurant.  Riss grinned and winked at Trixie.  Trixie smiled triumphantly, then looked expectantly at Brian.

“Have I done enough smiling and having fun yet?”

Brian ruffled her hair and nodded.  He stood and tossed a few bills on the table, then grabbed Jim’s car keys.  “Trix and I are leaving.  See you guys later,” he called over his shoulder, and off they went.





Brian pulled into the parking area at the Bluffs Overlook.  After parking the car and shutting it off, he turned in his seat to face his sister.  “Okay, now talk,” he commanded.

Trixie’s bright blue eyes twinkled merrily.  Brian raised an amused eyebrow in question.  Trixie smiled and said, “No, seriously, Daddy, the first time I ever went parking at The Bluffs it was with Brian.”  She dissolved into a fit of the giggles, while Brian playfully swatted her arm.

When the silliness passed, Brian started again.  “Okay, so Chris asked you out in front of the whole school…”

Trixie groaned and rolled her eyes.  “Oh, Brian, it was so much worse than that,” she wailed.  She rushed to explain.  “I wasn’t watching where I was going and pulled one of my classic run-right-into-someone-and-fall-on-your-butt moves.  Only, I didn’t fall, because Chris caught me.  So we stood there talking, but he never moved his arms, so he held me in his arms for most of the conversation, which lasted several minutes.  Meanwhile, the bus is waiting for me, so everyone on the bus is watching, but I’m oblivious and don’t even notice.

“And, as for Chris asking me out, he did… to the Homecoming Dance!  The problem is, the reason I wasn’t watching where I was going is because I was reading a note Tad had written me in French and trying to translate it.  That note was also asking me to the Homecoming Dance.  So, when Chris asked me and I didn’t answer right away, I felt I had to explain, so I told him about the note.  I just didn’t tell him who wrote it.  So then he asked me my answer to the other guy, and I said I didn’t know.  He told me to think about it overnight and to answer the guy tomorrow.  Then he asked me out for tomorrow night, so he could find out my answer to him!”

Trixie had to stop to take a breath.  She had been talking so fast Brian was struggling to follow her, but he had gotten the gist.

“So Tad asked you to Homecoming, and, before you even decided your answer, Chris asked you?”

Trixie nodded vigorously.  “Now what am I supposed to do?” she wailed.

“Well, the question is, do you really want to go with either one?  I mean, you could just always ask Jim.”

She turned and glared at him.  “Stop it, Brian,” she ordered.

He crossed his arms over his chest and stuck out his chin stubbornly.  “No,” he said firmly.  “I cannot help you with Chris and Tad until you explain what’s up with you and Jim.  You’ve been dodging me on this question for two months.  Now spill – what’s going on between you and Jim?”

“Nothing!” she fairly shouted.  She took a deep breath and looked out the window, away from Brian’s piercing gaze.  After an interminable silence, she finally whispered, “I told him I couldn’t.”

Brian reached over and grabbed his sister’s hand, giving it a gentle squeeze.  “Couldn’t what?” he asked softly.

“I couldn’t deal with a long-distance relationship.  He’s there, and I’m here.  He’s in college and should enjoy the social life there.  I’m in high school and should stick to the high school dating scene.  We’re just friends.  And that’s all it will be while he’s there, and I’m here.”

Brian heaved a sigh.  “If you’ve actually had this conversation, I’m assuming that means he expressed an interest in being more than friends.”

Trixie nodded.  She stared at their joined hands and felt the tears welling up in her eyes.  “We’ve actually had this conversation a couple of times.  He,” she choked and paused for a breath.  “My first kiss…”

Brian groaned inwardly.  My best friend makes a pass at my baby sister, and I’m upset with her for shutting him down?  I must be insane…

Aloud, he said, “Trixie, you adore him.  I can’t believe you aren’t interested.”

“Brian, he’s there, and I’m here.”

“What is that, your own personal mantra?”

“I guess,” she nodded.  “It’s just that I’m only fifteen.  I’m not ready for forever.  And the only thing I can possibly imagine in this entire lifetime that would be worse than… than never being with Jim… would be being his ex.  Not to mention that his friendship means more to me than anything in the world!  I can’t afford to mess that up.  I’d just die.”

The tears were flowing freely down her face now.  Brian had to give her credit:  she had thought this through, and had made a mature decision.  It was a difficult decision to make and was causing her a lot of heartache, but she was sticking to it.  He reached across the front seat and pulled Trixie into his arms.  He held her tightly, while she sobbed her heart out.

When Trixie’s tears had subsided, Brian kissed her on the forehead and pulled back.  He pulled out his hankie and gently wiped her face.  “You amaze me, little sister,” he whispered.

“Why is that?” she queried.

“Because you’re all grown up.  You are willing to put yourself through hell just because you believe it to be the right thing for everyone involved.”

“Oh, don’t make me sound noble.  I am being selfish, too.  I don’t want to spend my time pining away for a distant boyfriend I can only see occasionally.  This is better for both of us.”

“I hope you’re right about that.”

Trixie sighed.  “Me too, Brian.”

Brian shifted in his seat, so she could more comfortably face him, but kept his arm around her.  “Okay, now that I understand that situation, let’s get back to the immediate problem.  Are you interested in Chris or Tad?”

Forcefully pushing thoughts of Jim from her mind, she replied, “Um, yeah.”


“Both, I think.”

Brian chuckled.  “I believe Mart would say:  elaborate, my dear Beatrix.”

She sighed and said, “Well, I have a great time with both of them.  I have different things in common with each of them.  With Tad, I actually feel like there’s communication there.  We talk about everything, especially music, and we laugh constantly.  And, when he helps me with math, I actually understand it.  I mean, he understands how to explain it to me in such a way that I really get it.  Neither you nor Jim ever managed that, as well as you both know me.

“And, with Chris, it’s totally different.  I mean, I know he sees me as an athlete.  Our main focus is basketball.  But, for the first time, I feel like that doesn’t make me a tomboy.  He treats me like a lady, and the way he talks to me and looks at me, I feel, well… beautiful.”

Brian watched her face as she spoke.  With Trixie, you could learn more from her expressions than from her words.  He saw a confused young girl, trying to figure out who she was.  Her different relationships with the boys in question highlighted different sides of her personality.  But she was having trouble reconciling the differences.

“Brian, is it possible to like them both?  I mean, be interested in both at the same time?  Or does that make me a…” her voice trailed off, searching for the right word.

“You can like them both,” Brian reassured her.  “And don’t let anyone else tell you differently.  I’m sure Beth would be happy to tell you that it makes you a tramp, but you should never listen to anything Beth says.  Besides, it takes one to know one.”

He paused, before going on, “I think you have different aspects of your soul that you need to explore.  And each of these guys may be able to help you explore a different part of who you are.  Maybe it’s not possible for one person to help you learn all there is to learn about yourself.”

Smiling tremulously up at her big brother, Trixie was overcome by a wave of awe.  Brian the Overprotective was treating her like an equal.  And he was being more understanding than she could have dreamed possible.  “Thank you, Brian.”

“For what?”

“For helping me to grow up, instead of treating me like a child.”

Chuckling, Brian acknowledged, “Maybe that’s just part of me growing up.”

Trixie was quiet for a minute, then sighed deeply again.  “So, we’ve established that it’s okay to like them both.  That still doesn’t tell me what to do about Homecoming.”

Brian frowned pensively for a moment.  “Well, there are a couple of factors to consider besides your own heart.”

“Like what?” Trixie asked curiously.

“High school social life.  Even though it should only be about what you want, it’s not.”  Brian searched for the right way to explain.  “If you choose Tad over Chris, Beth Fleming will eat you alive.  Even though she’ll be thrilled, she’ll also mock you for having the gall to turn down the most popular boy in school.  Not to mention that Chris, nice as he is, might have an ego problem with that.”

Trixie frowned.  “I know Chris is higher on the pecking order than Tad, but won’t choosing Chris make Tad look bad, too?”

Brian shrugged.  “Not really.  Everyone saw Chris ask you out, but no one knows about Tad, right?”

“Except Chris.”

Brian looked at her in surprise.  “I thought you said you didn’t tell Chris who wrote the note?”

“I didn’t,” she replied ruefully.  “He was observing carefully at Wimpy’s, though.  He’s not stupid, and Tad was a bit obvious.”

“Yeah, I suppose he was.”  Brian’s brow furrowed in thought.  “Still, even that can work to your advantage here.”

Trixie’s curiosity was piqued now.  “How so?”

Brian grinned.  “Chris is aware he has a rival.  Knowing you chose him for Homecoming will inflate his ego.  But knowing your study dates with Tad are as regular as your basketball dates with him will keep Chris on his toes.  As long as you continue to spend that much time with Tad, even if you don’t date him, it will help keep Chris in line and treating you right.”

Laughing, Trixie said, “Are you sure you’re not a professional matchmaker?”

“No way!” Brian hooted.  “I’m not an expert at playing the game, but I’ve certainly observed it enough.  And I am a guy.  Trust me.”

Thinking over his advice, Trixie frowned.  “It sounds to me an awful lot like Tad is being used.”

Brian shook his head.  “Only if you play him.  Be honest with him:  tell him you like him, but that you also like Chris.  And turning Chris down for Homecoming would probably kill your chances with him.  Tad will know you’re right about that.  Besides, Tad might even encourage you to go with Chris, just to piss off Beth Fleming.”

“That may be the best part of this,” Trixie chuckled.  “I would never date Chris just to irritate Beth, but it’s such a sweet bonus!”

They laughed for a minute, and then Brian sobered.  “One more thing.  In my best Big Brother opinion, you should go with Chris, because he’s the one who treats you like a lady and makes you feel beautiful.  You can have fun and laugh with Tad some other time, but, for Homecoming, you should dress up like a princess, be treated like one, and maybe even realize how beautiful you really are.”

Blinking back tears, Trixie threw her arms around Brian’s neck.  “I love you!” she whispered against his neck.

“I love you too, Sis,” he whispered back.






Brian and Trixie arrived at the Farm at two o’clock in the morning.  They figured they’d be in a heap of trouble; instead, they arrived to find the house well lit, with noise and laughter echoing from the kitchen.  Mr. and Mrs. Belden were there, having pie and ice cream with the rest of the Bob-Whites.

When Trixie and Brian entered, Peter looked at the clock.  He smirked at them and teased, “Wow, for you two this is early!”

“Well, Brian was tired after his long drive, you know,” Trixie returned impudently.

Peter grinned, and winked at her.  “Where were you two, anyway?”

With a mischievous glint in her eye, Trixie grinned slowly and evilly.  “No, seriously, Daddy, the first time…”

“DON’T YOU DARE!” Brian roared, reaching to slap a hand over her mouth.  Cackling hysterically, Trixie dodged his hand and ran away across the kitchen.  He headed around the other side of the table.  Mart, trying to return to the table with another bowl of ice cream, was caught in the middle.

Mart zigged, as Trixie tried to zag and run back the other way, but Brian grabbed her from behind.  He tickled her mercilessly, while lifting her into the air, her feet nearly kicking Dan in the head.  Mart calmly sat back down with his ice cream. Trixie screamed loudly and begged Brian to stop.  He finally stopped when she was so out of breath she couldn’t possibly talk.

Brian set her on her feet, and she sagged against him, still giggling madly.  Holding Trixie up from behind, Brian scowled down at her.  “I can’t believe you!”

With gulping breaths, Trixie giggled, “You… were… warned.”

Having viewed the entire exchange with patient amusement, Peter tried again.  “Brian, I’m still wondering where you two were.”

Trixie erupted into fresh giggles.  Brian frowned again and said, “We were talking.”


“In the car.”

The giggles continued.

Jim started laughing.  “You didn’t!”

The giggles got louder.

Dan’s eyebrows shot up.  “With your sister?  Man, that’s sick!”

Trixie was slowly sinking the floor, still giggling madly.

Thoroughly red-faced, Brian said tersely, “We were talking.”

Helen had caught on, and she frowned at her son.  “Brian, I hardly think parking at The Bluffs is an appropriate place to take your sister.”


The Bob-Whites were all laughing now.  Helen was still frowning.

Peter chuckled and moved to help Trixie up off the floor.  “Helen, she was with Brian.  What harm could there be in that?”

Trixie was still giggling, in the way that people only do when they are so tired they can’t see straight.  Peter walked her toward the stairs.  “No harm done, Helen.  Leave Brian alone.  Trixie clearly needs to go to bed now.  Say good night, Trixie.”

Trixie waved at everyone and said, “Good night, Trixie.”  With a fresh wave of giggles, she leaned on her father, as he guided her up to bed.

Helen followed Peter and Trixie with narrowed eyes.  “Apparently, the little princess won’t be joining the Bob-White slumber party,” she said tightly.  “Everyone else, bed down in the living room.  Good night.”  Lips set in a thin line, she went up the stairs.

Brian stared after her in confusion.  He turned to Mart.  “What the heck was that?”

His face carefully unreadable, Mart replied cryptically, “The tip of the iceberg.”  He headed into the living room.

Brian looked at Honey, Di, and Dan, seeking enlightenment.  They were obviously as confused as he was.  Honey shrugged.  “Trixie said she and Moms haven’t been getting along well lately, but I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Jim got up from his seat.  “Leave that mystery for tomorrow, gang.  Let’s just get this cleaned up and hit the sack.”

The subdued group proceeded to do just that.





Author's Notes



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