Will You Dance,
If I Ask You to Dance?
Refreshed after her nap, Trixie went looking for Honey. She found her best friend in the library, finishing up her homework.
Honey looked up and smiled when Trixie settled on the sofa next to her. “Hey! How are you doing?”
“Just peachy,” Trixie responded sarcastically. Then she smiled warmly and winked. “I’m all right, given today’s level of melodrama. I bet if I had a completely uneventful day, I’d be swell.”
“Hhmmm… Trixie Belden and the Uneventful Day,” Honey mused with a snicker. “I’m having a hard time picturing it.”
The girls were giggling together a few minutes later when Maddie poked her head into the room. She smiled, relieved to see them acting normally. “Ladies, would you care to join us for dinner?”
Trixie looked up quickly. “Is Tad here yet?”
Nonplussed, Maddie glanced down at her watch. “He’s not due for another half hour, but I think you should cancel.”
Trixie shook her head. “Not a chance. I need help catching up on my homework.” She stared at Maddie’s frown for a moment before continuing defensively, “We study and do homework. It’s not a make out session!”
Maddie narrowed her eyes and smothered a snort. “You’ve never taken a smooch break?”
To her credit, Trixie’s blush was only half the usual degree of red. She crossed her arms over her chest, set her jaw stubbornly, and glared at Maddie. “Do you have any idea how many times already this year I’ve fallen behind on homework?”
Behind the stubborn glare, Maddie could see the fear lurking in Trixie’s eyes. Her world had been falling apart at the seams, and there was so little she could control. Taking an initiative with her schoolwork, though it might seem out of character, was just her way of taking charge of some area of her life. Maddie knew Trixie needed that control, and she certainly didn’t want to tell Trixie not to do homework. Still, she was reluctant to let Trixie have one of her boyfriends over this particular evening.
Honey watched Trixie’s expression grow more mutinous the longer Maddie took to think. Seeing the infamous temper about to blow, she tried to think of something she could say to reduce the tension in the room. Her legendary tact failed her, however. The only thought to come to her head was a rather Mart-like, “Gee, I’m hungry. Let’s go eat!”
Flashing an amused glance her daughter’s way, Maddie smiled. “I suppose we should get started if Trixie’s going to finish before Tad arrives.”
Honey thought she could almost hear an audible POP as the bubble of Trixie’s temper instantly deflated. Instead, Trixie grinned gratefully at Maddie and then grabbed Honey’s arm and pulled her toward the dining room. Maddie trailed behind, shaking her head ruefully.
Seeing how easily Trixie had won the argument, Honey began to wonder how many boys she could get away with having over for study dates while Trixie lived at Manor House.
Tad’s fingers twitched nervously as he reached for the doorbell. Sure, he’d been invited to Manor House before, but never as the boyfriend of a resident. With how crazy things had been lately, he had no idea what to expect, and it was intimidating. Drawing a deep breath and standing stiffly at his full height, he rang the bell.
Almost instantly, the door was flung open. Startled, Tad forgot to breathe for a second. Relief flooded through him when he saw Trixie’s wide, welcoming smile and realized she must have been waiting for him. He returned her smile even as he allowed her to pull him inside. He laughed at the way she grabbed his hand and dragged him through the grand foyer and down the hallway, skipping all the way. Inside, he rejoiced at the bounce in her step and her obvious good mood. He’d been worried about her all afternoon.
The room they entered was lined with bookshelves. A cozy fire danced in the fireplace. There was a comfortable-looking sofa facing the fire, and attractive seating in conversation groupings throughout the room. In the center was a table and chairs, perfectly practical for homework. The table was stacked with textbooks and notebooks. Honey was sitting in a plush chair in a far corner of the room, reading a book.
Trixie stopped near the table, put her hands on her hips, and frowned at Honey. “I thought you finished your homework.”
Honey looked up. “Hi, Tad,” she acknowledged their guest before responding to Trixie. “I finished all my assignments for tomorrow, but I still have several chapters to read in this book by next week.”
Still frowning, Trixie grumped, “Let me guess. You’re not really trying to get ahead on your homework; you were assigned to chaperone.”
With a shrug, Honey returned her attention to her book. “I thought you’d prefer me to Dad.”
Trixie harrumphed, then pulled out a chair at the table, purposely turning her back to Honey.
Tad smiled and sat down next to her. He rested an arm on the back of her chair and leaned close. “As chaperones go, I certainly prefer Honey to her dad,” he whispered.
Giggling, Trixie’s good humor was instantly restored. She smiled gratefully at her handsome friend and pulled a heavy textbook from the stack. Waving a hand at the book, she asked, “Any chance this mumbo jumbo makes sense to you?”
With a reassuring smile, Tad replied, “Don’t worry. You’ll be speaking fluent mumbo jumbo by the time the evening’s over.”
Trixie laughed, and they settled down to work. They pushed through steadily for two hours, making a fair amount of progress, before Tad noticed that Trixie was massaging her temples. He declared that he needed a break and asked directions to the restroom. When he returned to the library, Trixie was pacing restlessly.
Coming up behind her, he began massaging the tense muscles of her neck and shoulders. Her responding moan sent his pulse racing, but it also attracted Honey’s attention. Tad reined in his wayward thoughts and pushed Trixie gently down onto the couch. He sat down next to her and put an arm around her.
“You’re awfully uptight tonight, my lady. I hear music soothes away such tensions.”
Trixie snuggled next to him. “Mmm. Perhaps you should sing to me, then.”
“As you wish,” Tad said. “Any requests?”
“I’m pretty sure I’m leaning on you right now.”
Tad smiled, and began to sing the song of her choice. By the time he finished, she was sound asleep.
Madeleine Wheeler had been standing in the doorway through the latter half of the serenade. When it was over, she entered the room and approached the sofa. At the same time, her daughter drew near from the other side. They exchanged a quick look, before turning to the young man with his arm snugly around his girlfriend. Trixie looked restful, her head nestled in the crook of his neck, and her blonde curls splayed across his chest.
“Masterfully played, Mr. Webster,” Maddie congratulated him.
Tad shrugged. “She had a headache and she was stressing. If she’d gone up to bed, she wouldn’t have slept.”
“I’d have to agree,” Maddie said. “But it’s about time for you to call it a night. What are we to do with her now?”
“She’s really out, Mom,” Honey said. “If we leave her here, she might actually sleep for a while.”
Maddie reluctantly agreed. Tad gently extracted himself from his position, while Honey arranged a pillow and blanket around her friend. Once Trixie was situated, the Wheeler women walked their guest to the door.
Tad cheerfully said goodnight. He’d had a rather satisfying evening. He might have been diligently tutoring most of the night, but there was a sweet satisfaction to serenading your girlfriend off to pleasant dreams.
Fortunately for Tad, he was unaware of the dreams which plagued Trixie. She got a couple of hours of good sleep before the dreams started. Then she tossed and turned through the nightmare for a couple more hours before she finally ripped herself out of it. When she awoke drenched in her own sweat, she looked around the room in confusion. She was still tired, so she headed up to her own room. She hoped a warm shower and the comfortable bed would enable her to go back to sleep… preferably dreamless this time.
Trixie hadn’t set her alarm when she’d finally tumbled into the bed, and she’d managed to sleep deeply. Maddie was surprised to have to wake her in the morning. The first gentle nudge had no effect. She had to shake a little harder in order to rouse her charge.
“What time is it?” Trixie mumbled sleepily from her facedown position.
“Seven o’clock,” Maddie replied.
Trixie raised her head and ran a hand through her tangled curls. “Really? I’m never gonna make the bus.”
“So you’ll get a ride,” Maddie shrugged. “Do you think I’m going to complain about you getting a little extra sleep?”
Stretching as she rolled over, Trixie grumbled, “I don’t want to be late.”
“You have one hour to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and take a limo ride to school. That’s plenty of time, Trixie,” Maddie shook her head and smiled in amusement.
Trixie frowned. “A limo?”
“Stop that,” Maddie scolded. “There have been any number of times when you’ve ridden to or from school in our limousine, or in the Lynches’ car. Why is this any different?”
“I guess it’s not,” Trixie reluctantly conceded. She slowly started to rise, feeling groggy and not yet awake, but surprisingly well rested. It gave her hope for the day.
“I’ll see you at breakfast,” Maddie said as she departed, feeling equally hopeful.
Trixie’s absence from the bus allowed freedom of communication for the others present. Honey issued instructions, which flowed out from the Bob-Whites to all the others on the bus. Upon their arrival at the school, the information spread like wildfire throughout the student body.
By the time Trixie arrived, the rumbles were quiet. Keeping her in the dark was part of the plan, after all.
The school day itself was quiet and uneventful. The homecoming spirit event of the day was a parade after dismissal. Several well-decorated cars and a couple of floats would process slowly from the school in a circuit around town, ending at town hall where the mayor would give a short speech of encouragement to the football team. Afterwards, the cars traditionally took off for an unsanctioned drive-by of Croton High School, horns honking all the way.
When the last bell rang, Chris made his way directly to Trixie’s locker. “Hey, Blue Eyes,” he greeted her with a smile designed to charm her socks off.
“Hi, Chris,” Trixie’s return smile lit her whole face and took his breath away.
“Care to join me for the parade?”
“I’d love to!”
When she closed her locker, he put his arm around her shoulder and drew her to his side. After a quick kiss, they walked out of the school arms wrapped around each other. Many heads turned, and dozens of girls turned green with envy. For once, Trixie noticed and enjoyed every minute of the attention.
They had a great time, and after the parade they headed for their own basketball practice. The foursome was starting late due to the parade, but they were determined to get in a good work out. They practiced hard, then dragged themselves off to the locker rooms pleasantly tired.
Trixie took a long time changing. She was reluctant to admit that the pounding in her skull was making her want to retch. Once she had regained her composure and could put up a good front, she joined her friends.
She and Chris followed their usual routine of collecting Bobby from his practice and driving him home. She managed to be cheerful and loving towards her brother throughout the car ride, but she thought the effort might just kill her. When they arrived at Crabapple Farm, she bid her brother goodbye, but did not get out of the vehicle. She saw Mart at the kitchen window and waved. Then, her heart breaking, she asked Chris to take her home to Manor House.
After Chris walked her to the door and kissed her goodnight, Trixie leaned heavily against the heavy oak paneling of the front hall. Rather than head to the library, where she expected Honey to be working on homework, she slowly escaped to her room. Battling waves of nausea, she crawled into bed and buried her head under the pillow. Thankfully, she fell asleep rather quickly.
When Maddie discovered her there a few minutes later, she was relieved to find Trixie fast asleep. She tiptoed quietly out of the room and left the house.
While Trixie and friends were busy with basketball practice, large sections of the student body were gathering, preparing to stage a coup. At the appointed time, they headed north of town to the school district headquarters, ready to confront the school board and let their voices be heard. By the time Trixie fell asleep, her friends, many of her schoolmates, her parents, Matt Wheeler, and a host of other parents were assembled in the board’s meeting room. Maddie joined them just as the meeting began.
The assembled Sleepyside residents were orderly and respectful, giving the board no reason to object to their presence. It was obvious that the vast assembly made the board members nervous, however. When they reached the item on their agenda for which they knew all these people had gathered to protest, they were reluctant to begin.
Finally, the superintendent brought up the sore subject. “Our next item is potential disciplinary action against Principal Patrick Stratton for his handling of a situation regarding one student, Beth Fleming. Compounding this, Stratton allowed the Sleepyside police to enter a student assembly and arrest a member of his staff in public view.”
The crowd erupted in outrage. To make matters worse, David Fleming chose that moment to enter the room. The chairman of the board rapped his gavel several times. Only when he threatened to clear the room did the assemblage settle down.
David Fleming approached the public podium. “Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the Fleming family, I wish to speak in support of Mr. Stratton. My daughter is having a very difficult time right now, and Mr. Stratton acted appropriately to the situation. And I fail to understand how Mr. Stratton can be held accountable for the actions of the entire Sleepyside police force. This is a travesty of justice. Principal Stratton has guided and inspired a generation of students, and your proposed actions tonight would rob the next generation of students of that same guiding light. I respectfully request that you drop this matter now.”
The applause was deafening. The chairman again pounded his gavel. By the time the noise had ceased, Merrissa Parkman stood at the podium. “Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the students of Sleepyside Junior-Senior High School, I respectfully request that you not only drop the threat of disciplinary action, but commend Principal Stratton for his handling of this difficult matter. Furthermore, I put you on notice. I have, in my hand, a petition signed by eighty-nine percent of our student body. If you proceed with your threatened actions, all signers of this petition will, tomorrow morning, enroll at Burnsbury Preparatory Academy.”
In contrast to previous reactions, this remark was followed by deafening silence. The superintendent stood, sputtering, before he managed to respond. “Burnsbury Prep couldn’t handle so many new students! They wouldn’t take you.”
The headmaster of Burnsbury Prep rose from the back of the crowd. “Yes, we could, sir. We will. And before you utter your next argument, several generous benefactors have offered scholarships to anyone from Sleepyside High who couldn’t afford our tuition, so money will not be an object. The only issue is whether or not you push the students to this action.”
Once again, the crowd cheered. When they quieted, the headmaster continued. “Mr. Stratton, if you find yourself out of work tomorrow, you are welcome to join my staff.”
More cheering ensued.
Throughout the proceedings, Matthew Wheeler and Peter Belden sat in the front row, side-by-side, supremely confident. The chairman of the board glanced at them now, and was met by looks of smug triumph. He may have felt justified in his desire to discipline Stratton before now, but to continue in his quest would be to create powerful enemies. Knowing better than to fight a losing battle, he decided upon a strategic retreat.
Once again, he used the gavel to bring the room to order. “Never let it be said that this elected body ignores the will of the people. Since the people have spoken loud and clear, we will abide by their will. Principal Stratton, there will be no disciplinary action against you. You handled a difficult situation admirably.”
Over the cheers of the crowd and the sigh of relief from the superintendent, the chairman continued. Banging his gavel and ignoring formal procedure, he proclaimed, “As this was the last item on the agenda, this concludes our meeting for this evening. Good night.”
Grinning broadly, Peter and Matthew stood and shook hands. “Thanks, Matt,” Peter said. “This wouldn’t have happened without the power you wield.”
“Nonsense, Pete,” Matt replied. “I’m still considered the new guy in town. If I’d tried to accomplish this without you, people would have said I was trying to use my money to push the townspeople around. This way, I was just helping one of Sleepyside’s founding families.”
“Well, then, I guess it’s a good thing we’re on the same side,” Peter said.
Growing serious, Matt said, “We are, Pete. Remember that. We’re both on Trixie’s side.”
Uncomfortable, Peter nodded. “I know. I don’t know much else right now, but I know that.”
Friday, November 3, 1995
Trixie woke early, groggy and disoriented. Knowing she’d pushed herself too hard the day before, she thought perhaps she should take it easy today. Then she mentally reviewed her schedule for the day and groaned. It was enough to make her head start throbbing already.
First of all, she’d gone straight to bed the night before without even glancing at her homework. Since she was awake early, the least she could do was go over it and see how much she could accomplish before school.
Then, school was probably going to be lively this morning. During an extended homeroom, the student body would be voting for Homecoming Queen. With Beth out of the running, Riss was heavily favored to win. Knowing Riss only liked the spotlight when there was a basketball in her hand, Trixie figured her friend was going to be spastic until the vote was over, and kick it into overdrive if she won.
Immediately after school, Trixie had an appointment with her counselor. She didn’t really enjoy her sessions, but she knew it was helping and she was tired of feeling like crap. For that reason, she knew that keeping the appointment had to be a priority.
This evening was the homecoming game. It didn’t start until seven p.m., so it would go until almost ten. Her friends usually went to Wimpy’s or out for pizza afterwards, so it would be a late night.
In the midst of that hectic schedule, Trixie was desperately trying to figure out how not to miss out on her Friday night phone call to Boston. She expected to be home from the therapist before five, and didn’t expect to leave for the game until six. If she were Honey or Di, she would need every minute of that hour to primp and preen. Being Trixie, she figured she really needed about five minutes. Although spending the rest of the hour napping was probably the smartest idea, she was completely focused on using that time to call Boston. She just hoped one or both of the Boston Bob-Whites were free then.
Attempting to slow down the whirling of her overactive mind, she headed for the shower. If she got dressed and ready, then dragged her school books down to the dining room, she could do homework all through breakfast. Deciding that was actually a pretty good plan, she cheered up and even whistled a little tune while she got ready.
Trixie was parked at the dining room table, deeply engrossed in maps of colonial Africa, when Celia breezed in to set the table. She stopped short and stared at Trixie in confusion. “A little eager for school today, are we?”
Without looking up from her studies, Trixie shrugged. “I was tired and went to bed before I finished my homework. Just thought I’d make good use of my time instead of bombing my map quiz.”
“I won’t bother you, then,” Celia promised. She moved as silently as possible, and finished her task as quickly as she could. She returned a few moments later with a pitcher of orange juice, which she set before Trixie, as well as a carafe of coffee and the morning paper, both of which were deposited at Mr. Wheeler’s place.
Trixie waited until the room had been silent a while before finally looking up from her book to pour herself a glass of juice. While she was pouring, her gaze wandered to the newspaper on the plate beside her. The headline of the Sleepyside Sun touted “Students Triumph over School Board”. Curiosity aroused, Trixie reached over and picked it up to read while she drank her juice.
When Matt Wheeler entered the room a mere five minutes later, he imagined himself walking into a blast furnace, so strong were the heated waves of fury rolling off his ward. As he cautiously moved his way around Trixie towards his chair, he caught sight of the newspaper in front of her, and its headline.
Aw, hell, he thought, and mentally prepared for battle.
He met Trixie’s vicious glare head on while he sat, leisurely unfolding his napkin and placing it on his lap. He continued to maintain eye contact while pouring his coffee and taking the first sip. After he put the cup back on the table, he folded his hands together and leaned forward before speaking.
“So, which part pisses you off? The fact that it wasn’t your idea? Or the fact that people got together and saved the day without you?”
Trixie looked like he’d slapped her in the face, and he almost felt guilty. She sat back, folded her arms over her chest, and looked away, rather sulkily. He let her stew a minute, willing to be the bad guy. She needed to get over herself quickly, or she was going to cause no end of problems at school with people who were her friends.
When she spoke, she sounded wounded. “Do you really think I’m that self-centered?”
In a much gentler voice, Matt said, “Not at all. But that’s what other people are going to think if you walk into school with that particular chip on your shoulder.”
She finally looked at him, blue eyes filled with accusation. “You hid this from me.”
Stifling a groan of frustration, Matt ran an agitated hand through his thick, red hair. “Listen, Stratton was slapped for how he handled Beth, not you. His firing would have affected all the students at Sleepyside High. The kids wanted to do something. Hell, it wasn’t even Bob-Whites who started this ball rolling.
“Did I get involved? Make a few plays of my own? Absolutely. Did I try to hide this from you?” He hesitated, trying to find the right words. “Not exactly. It’s just… you’ve had so much going on. And last night, when it was time, I was under the impression you were asleep already. The way the last week or so has gone, I’d give a lot to get you a good night’s sleep. So the way I see it, you being pissed with me this morning is a small price to pay.”
Trixie searched his face, then sat forward. She picked up her fork and became intensely interested in the ornate details of the handle. “How involved was Honey in this coup d’etat?”
“Very. Your best friend is desperate to help you somehow, someway. She can’t fix your headaches or nightmares, but she could do this.”
She gasped and looked up at him, struggling to swallow the lump in her throat, struggling to keep the tears pooling in her eyes from falling.
He covered her small hand with his big, freckled one. “Trixie, I understand how hard it is to accept help when you’re used to being the one giving it. Believe me. But right now, the biggest lesson you need to learn is acceptance.”
Trixie hesitated, then nodded once. She sniffled, and he pulled out his handkerchief and offered it to her. Trying to make light of the situation, Trixie said, “And here I thought Jim picked that habit up from his first dad.”
Matt took a moment to savor the jolt of warmth in his heart he got whenever Trixie said that. She always referred to Win as Jim’s “first” dad in Matt’s presence, never his “real” dad. She worked on the rest of the Bob-Whites to do the same. Apparently, she felt strongly that saying Win was Jim’s real dad somehow belittled Matt’s place in his son’s life. She would never disrespect Win, a man she knew only from Jim’s adoration of him. But she would never tolerate disrespect for Matt, a man she adored herself. Her loyalty always touched him deeply.
His moment taken, Matt assisted her with lightening the mood. He winked and grinned conspiratorially. “And who do you think taught that habit to Win?”
Trixie nearly choked on her bark of startled laughter. Still giggling, she jumped halfway out of her seat so she could lean over and hug Matt tightly. “Thank you, thank you, thank you… for everything.”
He hugged her back, and whispered, “You’re welcome, Little One. Always.”
Celia waited until Trixie sat back down before breezing into the dining room with the first tray of food. She checked on their beverages, then exited through the hall door. She ducked down the hall to the library and gave Maddie the high sign, then returned to the kitchen.
Without actually acknowledging Celia, Maddie wrapped up the “urgent” conversation she had pulled Honey into. She breathed a silent sigh of gratitude that Celia had headed her off at the pass earlier, feeling only slightly guilty that Matt had gotten to be the target of Trixie’s wrath. She had heeded Celia’s warning that there was a conversation underway that she did not want to interrupt, and quickly hustled Honey into the library to go over her plans for Homecoming. She admitted to herself that it had been selfish, even though she’d like to pretend it had been to protect both Honey and Trixie from a silly misunderstanding between them.
The hardest part of taking care of Trixie was going to be getting Trixie to let people take care of her. Maddie shook her head, grateful that at least Trixie wasn’t complaining about going to the therapist today. Mentally reviewing her own schedule for the day, Maddie frowned. As she sat down to breakfast next to her husband, she looked across the table and studied Trixie.
Feeling her gaze, Trixie looked up and immediately grew defensive. “What?”
Maddie shrugged nonchalantly. “Just wondering if you’ve got too much planned for today.”
“I’m fine!” Trixie declared with a roll of her eyes.
Carefully examining her face and demeanor, Maddie finally nodded. “Okay. But if you change your mind at any point, just let me know.”
With a twinkle in her eye, Trixie snorted. “And miss the homecoming game? I don’t think so.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Maddie replied.
Realizing her guardian was worried that she would hide any problems just to make sure she didn’t miss out on any fun, Trixie sobered. It was her natural m.o., after all, and exactly what she had been planning on doing. Maddie’s concern was fully justified. With a solemn nod, Trixie said, “I won’t overdo it today.”
“Good,” Maddie picked up her coffee cup and brought it to her lips. “Because if you do, you may not be able to go tomorrow night.”
Startled, Trixie focused wide blue eyes on Maddie. The casual posture with which she sipped her coffee nearly hid the steely determination in her eyes. Stealing a quick look in Matt’s direction, Trixie realized he was poised to do battle if she dared to cross his wife. With a gulp, she returned her gaze to the woman across from her. “I promise, Mére. I won’t push it.”
“I’m trusting you, Trixie.” With that, Maddie turned her attention to her breakfast and closed the matter.
Trixie nervously looked at Honey, seated next to her. Her best friend winked at her, hiding a smile with a glass of orange juice.
“Come on, Trix. We need to hurry if we’re going to catch the bus.”
Holding her breath, Trixie was afraid to respond too quickly. She wouldn’t put it past her guardians to declare that she wouldn’t be allowed to ride the bus with her friends. Fortunately, they remained silent. She started packing up her bookbag with the books she’d had out on the table. “Ready when you are.”
Honey jumped up and gave each of her parents a kiss on the cheek. Grabbing a Danish, she tossed a mumbled goodbye over her shoulder as she unobtrusively shoved her friend out the door. Neither girl dared to breathe until they’d reached the foot of the long driveway. There they burst into joyful, excited smiles, eagerly awaiting the traditional fun of homecoming day.
Tad slid into the seat beside Trixie, grateful that she’d saved that place for him. He really wanted to talk to her before the bus reached school. The bright, cheerful smile with which she greeted him made his heart skip a beat, and he couldn’t resist responding with a kiss. He couldn’t have explained if he’d tried why that should make him both more and less nervous, but it did.
“Trixie, I know I said I was okay with you going to the dance tomorrow with Chris…” Tad looked away, his fingers doing a distracted dance across the strap of his backpack.
Wary, Trixie cautiously asked, “But?”
Tad looked back at her, allowing himself to drown in her eyes, completely unaware of the effect his intense stare had on her. “Will you go to the game with me tonight?”
The tension fled from her body, and Trixie sighed in relief. Lost in his gaze, she smiled and nodded. “I’d love to.”
Barely daring to hope he’d heard her correctly, Tad had to verify. “Really?”
Her smile widened. “Yes, Tad. I’d be happy to go to the game with you tonight.”
He gently caressed her cheek and returned her smile. “Thank God,” he whispered before kissing her again.
“AHEM!” Mart cleared his throat loudly behind them. “I’m sitting right here!”
Tad pulled back. Trixie leaned toward him and raised one eyebrow in an obvious challenge, then said to her brother, “We don’t care!”
Tad grinned and kissed her again.