The Sting of the
Enigmatic Heart

Author’s Note:  Trixie BeldenŽ is the registered trademark of Random House.  This story is not for profit.

This story was the inaugural story for the Jixemitri Circle Writing Challenge #8.

The first section is borrowed from The Happy Valley Mystery.



FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS the light in front flashed.  Trixie and Jim obeyed.  Then, as the big ship sped down the runway to take off, Jim pulled a little package from his pocket.  "It's for you, Trixie," he said.  "I got it in Valley Park yesterday."

Trixie opened the box.  She stared at the dainty silver identification bracelet that nestled there.  "It has your name on it, Jim," she said and smiled shyly at him.  "Put it on for me, will you?"

"You know what it means, don't you?" Jim asked.

"Tell me," Trixie answered.

"It means that you're my special girl, Trixie," Jim said. "As if you didn't know that already."

"I do," Trixie murmured. "Oh, Jim!"

Trixie looked happily at her bracelet, then reached over and put her small, sturdy hand into Jim's. He closed his long fingers tightly over it.  With a sigh of complete happiness, Trixie settled back contentedly.



Jim hated to wake her.  Her head was resting on his shoulder and her hand was still nestled in his.  He knew if he did, the contact with her would be lost.

It had taken an hour for his heart to slow to a normal pace; an hour for him to get used to the feel of her against him, her hand in his.  Now the thought of no longer touching her caused his heart beat to quicken again. 

He had known her less than a year, but her presence in his life had touched him considerably and he had been drawn to her in a way he felt hard to explain.  The events of this trip had changed things between them and he had finally been able to express what had long been kept bottled inside of him. 

"Ladies and Gentleman, as we have commenced our descent into White Plains, can you please restore your seats to an upright position and make sure your tray tables and overhead luggage are safely stowed."

Trixie stirred and Jim regretfully watched her lift her free hand to push her tousled curls from her eyes.  She lifted her head and smiled sleepily at Jim.

"I fell asleep."

"You sure did," Jim acknowledged, gently caressing her hand with his thumb.  Trixie looked down, almost in surprise, to see the silver bracelet on her wrist and her small hand enveloped in Jim's.

Trixie blushed and glanced over to see if anyone else had noticed, but Brian and Honey were deep in conversation.

"Did you sleep?"  She asked Jim in a small voice.

"No."  He shook his head.  "I guess I wasn't as tired as you."

"You should have woken me up," Trixie told him.  "Some company I was."

"The best company I've ever had," Jim said softly, his tone meaningful.  Trixie blushed again, silently cursing herself for falling asleep.

"I never said thank you for the bracelet," Trixie murmured. "It's lovely Jim.   Thank you so much for buying it for me."

"I just wanted you to know..." he began uncertainly.  "After what nearly happened to us, I wanted you to know how much you meant to me."

Trixie's blush deepened, thrilled by his words.  She smiled.  "Did you buy one for Honey too?"

Jim reddened.  "Well, no..."

Trixie smiled.  "I was just teasing.  I know what you mean.  I feel the same way, you know that, don't you?"

Jim grinned and nodded.  "I'm really glad you do."

"I just hope I don't get in too much trouble from Moms and Dad," Trixie sighed as she looked down upon White Plains.

"What for?" Jim asked, a slight panic rising in his chest.

"For going off trying to find the sheep thieves, wrecking Ben's car and causing you and Honey and I to almost drown," Trixie answered sheepishly.  "I'm bound to be grounded for the rest of the year."

"They'll just be glad to know you're okay," Jim assured her, wondering exactly what stern words Matthew Wheeler would have to say to him.

"I hope so... oh!" Trixie cried in surprise as the plane bumped down the run way.  "I always forget that bit."

Jim squeezed her hand and she smiled happily at him.  When the plane came to a stop and the seat belt sign was turned off, both were reluctant to break that contact.

"Are you okay Trixie?" Honey asked, standing up.

"I'm fine," Trixie replied brightly as she and Jim quickly moved their hands apart.  He smiled regretfully as he stood in the aisle to let her out.

He stretched gingerly.  His long legs had been cramped during the journey but he had been afraid to move. 

"A little short on leg room too?" Brian asked and Jim nodded. 

"I think airplanes must have been designed by short men," Honey giggled, as she stretched her tall, slender frame.

"On the contrary," Mart interjected.  "They were designed by tall, smart men who crammed so many people into economy that they were able to afford the leg room in business class!"

Laughter followed as they made their way out of the plane and into the small airport.  The group were met by Helen Belden, an excited Bobby and the Wheeler's chauffeur, Tom Delanoy.

"Did you bring me presents?" Bobby cried amidst hugs from the Bob-Whites.

"I'm so glad you made it back safely," Helen cried, the lines of worry clear on her face.  "After what happened in Iowa....  well, just wait until your father and I sit you down, young lady."

Trixie reddened as her mother chastised her, and Jim stepped up to comfort Helen.

"We're all fine Mrs Belden," he assured her.  "And Trixie's not to blame, she wasn't the only one out there.  You've got me to blame for that."

"But it's not your fault Jim!"  Trixie protested.  "I was the one that-"

"Found the sheep thieves and saved her Uncle Andrew's farm," Honey finished loyally.  "I'm so sorry we worried you Mrs Belden, but really we're all fine."

Helen nodded, looking closely at her oldest boys and hugging them warmly.  "We're just glad to have you home.  Aren't we Bobby?"

"Yep!"  Bobby cried.  "I betcha bought me presents!"

"Well, let's go and get our bags and you'll find out," Brian answered, laughing.

The group headed to the baggage claim, laughing and joking.  Jim and Trixie remained close together, already missing the closeness they had shared on the plane.  Before long, Tom was helping them load the luggage into the cars.

"Now Bobby, say goodbye to Honey and Jim and Di," Helen told him.  "You'll get your present when you get home."

"Maybe later you can come over and play with Larry and Terry," Di suggested, hugging the small boy.  Bobby nodded solemnly and quickly got in the car.

The others laughed and began to say their goodbyes.

"Would you like a lift Di?" Honey offered. 

"I think I'd better," Di smiled.  "Looks like the Belden car is full."

"I told your father I'd take you home," Tom added.  "Didn't you notice I put your bag in the car?"

Di giggled, shaking her head and waving goodbye, she climbed in the car after Honey.

Jim lingered near Trixie as the others climbed in the car.

"I guess I'll see you later..." Jim murmured.  "Maybe we could..."

"Regan wanted me to remind you all that he expects you to exercise the horses this afternoon," Helen called out as she climbed into the car.

"I guess I'll see you then," Trixie smiled, a little wistfully.  Tentatively, she reached out and tugged on his jumper as if to straighten it, then just as quickly she let go and climbed into the car.

Jim watched her immediately engage in banter with her brothers and reluctantly he turned away and got into the waiting car.  This was going to be harder than he thought.




"Well, I'm done," Mart sighed, hanging up the last of the tack.  "I've forgotten what hard work riding is."

"I'm done too," Brian added.  "What about you Trix?  Moms is expecting us home to help with dinner."

"Not quite," Trixie mumbled, throwing a glance at Jim.  "You go ahead, I won't be much longer."

Brian sighed and turned towards her to offer his help, but Jim waved him away.

"You guys go and give your Mom a hand," Jim offered quickly.  "I'll help Trixie finish up here."

Brian shrugged and turned back.  "Fine with me, but don't be too long Trix.  Do you want us to walk you up to the house Honey?"

"If you're not in too much of a hurry," Honey accepted with a smile.  "Don't be late for dinner Jim."

"I won't," Jim assured her and turned back to his work.  When the echoes of their footsteps died away, he moved to join Trixie in the tack room.

"Now what seems to be taking you so long?" Jim drawled teasingly.

Trixie blushed and looked at him with a sheepish smile.  "I just wanted a chance to talk to you alone."

"Me too," Jim admitted, running a nervous hand through his red hair.  He watched her as she reached up to hang the bridle on a hook and his heart jumped as he noticed his bracelet on her wrist.

"You're still wearing it," Jim murmured, reaching up to stroke her wrist.

"Oh..." Trixie flushed.  "I know I should have taken it off for riding, but I - I didn't want to."

"I'm glad you didn't," Jim told her, taking her hand.

Trixie stared up into his clear, green eyes and felt herself tremble.  "Is it really going to be like this from now on?"

"Don't you want it to be?" Jim frowned.

"Oh no!"  Trixie cried quickly.  "It just seems so..."

"So unbelievable?" Jim finished softly and Trixie nodded.

"And a little weird."

"Weird?" Jim repeated, taking her other hand in his.

"Well, we've always been friends," Trixie murmured, looking up at him.  "Isn't this going to change things?"

"Not if we don't want it to," Jim assured her earnestly.

"But won't the other Bob-Whites think so?" Trixie asked him. 

"We're still going to be friends, Trixie," he answered, looking into her round, earnest blue eyes.  "The only thing that's going to be different is that we'll hold hands and... stuff."

"Stuff?"  Her eyes widened.

"Uh... well... like kissing... maybe," Jim stammered, watching her closely.

"You want to kiss me?"  It wasn't a question, or was it?  She wasn't sure and she couldn't believe she'd said it, but she couldn't believe she was in this moment.

Trixie watched Jim's jaw tighten and he nodded.  She waited and slowly he leaned down towards her.  Without knowing how, her mouth lifted towards his.

"Jim?  Are you still in there?"

Trixie turned her head, Jim's lips brushing her cheek.  They had been so close to his target that he groaned in disbelief.  He blinked slowly and grinned down at Trixie.

"Sorry," he whispered and she nodded slowly.  He released her hands, coughed quietly then raised his head.  "I'm here Honey.  Trixie and I have just finished up."

"You two took your time," Honey chided them as they came out of the tack room.  "Dinner is almost ready.  You'd better hurry and get cleaned up, Mother and Daddy are waiting."

"Okay slave driver," Jim grinned.  "I'll go.  See you later Trix?"

"I'd better run too," Trixie gulped.  "As if I'm not going to be in enough trouble when Dad gets home.  Thanks for your help Jim.  Bye Honey."

Trixie dashed down the driveway and Honey turned back towards the house.  She frowned a moment, wondering what the flash of silver on Trixie's wrist had been then hurried up the steps to join her family for dinner.



"We're very proud that you were able to capture the sheep thieves," Peter continued, "but you should have left it to the police.  After all, it's their job."

"I know Daddy, but..."

"I'm not finished," Peter interrupted her sternly.  "What you did was both reckless and dangerous and you put not only yourself but also your friends in grave danger.  And did you think what your brothers and friends were going through, knowing that you were lost in the storm?"

Trixie blinked back tears.  She was used scoldings in the past because of the adventures she got involved in, but they were nothing compared to this.

"Peter..." Helen murmured.  He glanced at his wife, took in her expression and shook his head.

"Can you understand that your mother and I are scared that one day you won't make it out of one of your mysteries alive, or that maybe one of the Bob-Whites won't either?" He asked in a low voice, staring at his only daughter.

"I'm so sorry Daddy," Trixie mumbled, tears spilling on to her cheeks.  "I only wanted to help, I never thought..."

"But you need to Trixie," he told her firmly.  She nodded dumbly and Helen squeezed his hand to tell him again that he had gone far enough. 

"Okay Trixie, you can go."

Trixie nodded and jumped up, disappearing up the stairs to her bedroom as quickly as she could.  She closed the door quietly and threw herself down on the bed.  She tried to stop the tears, but her shame was too great.

She curled up in a ball on the bed, shaking as the tears overcame her.  She knew everything her father had said was right, but she had never meant to endanger herself or Jim and Honey.  They meant the world to her.

Trixie stared down at her wrist and caressed the silver bracelet.  At least something good had come out of this, something wonderful...

She forced herself to think of Jim and their time in the tack room just a few hours earlier.  He had almost kissed her.  She wondered what it would have been like for his lips to have touched hers, for him to have held her close...

"Trixie?" Helen called, knocking softly on the door.  "Can I come in?"

"Okay Moms."  Trixie quickly wiped her tear-stained face and sat up.

"Are you okay?" She asked in concern, closing the door behind you.  "I know your Dad came down hard on you, but we both love you very much."

"I deserved it," Trixie mumbled.  "He was right.  Everything he said was right."

"You're still young," Helen told her softly, sitting down next to her.  "It's hard not to be impulsive, but when it gets you into such dangerous situations..."

"I know Moms," Trixie answered, ashamedly.  "I'll try to think things though in future.  I'll try not be so impulsive."

"You're growing up so fast," Helen sighed, hugging her daughter.  "I can't believe my little girl is off chasing criminals and saving the world."

"I'm not a little girl anymore," Trixie replied, with an air of maturity that made Helen look at her carefully.

"No, I guess you're not," Helen conceded.  They sat silently for a moment until Helen's eyes focused on the thing that seemed so out of place on her tomboy daughter.

"Why Trixie, you're wearing a bracelet!"  Helen exclaimed in surprise.  "Is that something Aunt Alicia sent you?"

Trixie reached for the bracelet, cradling it protectively.  "Nooooo," Trixie admitted slowly.  "Jim gave it to me."

"Jim?" Helen repeated in surprise.  After a second, she recovered.  "May I see it?"

Trixie held up her wrist for her mother to examine her bracelet.  She watched her carefully, uncertain of what her reaction would be.

"It's certainly lovely," Helen remarked slowly, fingering the engraving.  "When did he give you this?"

"On the plane today," Trixie said in a small voice.

Helen took a breath, carefully considering the situation.  She did not want to shatter her daughter's girlish dreams and she could tell by her face that this gift had had a significant affect on her.

"Maybe it's something that should be saved for special occasions," Helen suggested lightly.  "It's obviously a very special gift and I'm neither you or Jim would like it if you lost it or it was damaged."

"I know Moms," Trixie said with a small smile.  "It's really nice of him to give it to me though, isn't it?"

"You're very lucky," Helen acknowledged, kissing her daughter's forehead.  "Do you feel like some supper?"

"No thanks Moms," Trixie replied.  "I thought I might finish my new Lucy book.  I hardly got to read any of it while I was away."

"Okay, don't stay up too late though," Helen told her, standing up.

"Okay Moms," Trixie answered, reaching for her book.

Helen walked to the door and turned back to stare at her daughter, who had now commenced reading.  She felt slightly stunned and it took her a moment to regain her senses and leave the room.  She closed the door behind her.

"I know I was hard on her," Peter began as Helen entered the living room.  "Is she okay?"

"She's fine, but I don't think I am."

"What's wrong?" Peter asked in slight alarm, noting the strange expression on his wife's face.

"Peter, I think our daughter has a boyfriend."



"I've finished my chores and I'm going down to the club house," Trixie called, quickly stowing away the dusting cloth and heading for the door.

"We don't need to be there for another half hour," Mart reminded her.  "What's your hurry?"

"I thought it might need airing out and a once over," Trixie told him.  "I'll see you there."

She took off at a run, leaving her brothers to ponder the reasons for her early departure.

"What's up with her?" Mart asked Brian.  "She hates cleaning, but now she's running off to do more."

"Well, I doubt she's got her nose into another mystery," Brian replied thoughtfully.  "Not after the lecture she got last night."

"What about the lecture we got?" Mart groaned.  "And we weren't even there!"

"Dad's never been that hard on her before," Brian reminded him.  "I think it shook her up a bit.  Maybe that explains her behaviour."

"Maybe..." Mart murmured, but he wasn't convinced.

When Trixie arrived at the Clubhouse, she was disappointed to find the door still locked.  She hadn't arranged to meet Jim early, but she had hoped that he might have had the same idea as her.

Trixie unlocked the door and went quickly to the fire and set to work cleaning the grate and preparing it to be lit.  There were some small logs next to the small wood burner, but what she really needed was some kindling.

"I thought we might need some kindling," Jim announced, as he walked through the door, his arms full with small branches and split logs.  "I hoped I'd get here before you, but you beat me to it."

"I guess we're on the same wavelength," Trixie grinned, reaching up to take some kindling from his arms.

Together, they knelt down in front of the grate, arranging the kindling and lighting the fire.  They watched silently as the flames caught on and began radiating warmth.

"Brrrr...  that's better," Trixie said, holding her gloved hands in front of the fire.  "How are you anyway?"

"I'm great," Jim grinned, taking one of her hands and rubbing it between his.  "How are you?  Did your parents give you a hard time last night?"

"Worse than ever before," Trixie admitted quietly.  "Dad's never spoken to me like that before, and what was the worst, is that everything he said was true."

"I'm sorry," Jim whispered, pausing to look at her closely.

"I was the one who got us into that mess," Trixie sighed.  "Next time, can you remind me to think before I get us into these messes?"

"As if you'd listen to me!" Jim laughed.  "Though I found that kind of hard to explain to Dad."

"You got a lecture too?"

"Not quite as bad as yours," Jim admitted, thinking back to the conversation that took place after dinner last night.

"Jim, can I see you in the library for a moment?" Matthew Wheeler asked as they stood up from dinner.

Honey and Jim exchanged a knowing glance, and Jim couldn't happen but feel a little apprehensive.

"Yes, Sir."

He followed Matthew into the library and sat down in a huge leather arm chair opposite his father.

"I understand that you, Honey and Trixie found yourself in quite a dangerous situation in Iowa," Matthew began.

"Yes, Sir."

"Jim, you're a very responsible, level headed young man," Matthew continued.  "Which is why I don't understand how you found yourself in that predicament and why you allowed it to happen."

Jim groaned inwardly.  He'd asked himself the same question a thousand times while they were perched on the roof of that barn.

"I had made Trixie a promise that we would drive out near Sand Mill so she could work out where the light she had seen was coming from," Jim began slowly.  "It was nobody's fault that the bridge went out and that the water began to rise faster than we anticipated.  It was the fact that we were together that saved us all."

Matthew nodded and was silent for a moment.  "You realise that we entrust you to look out for Honey when you're with her, don't you?"

"Yes, Sir," Jim gulped.

"I expect you to take that responsibility seriously, Jim."

"I do Sir," Jim protested.  "Honey and Trixie mean the world to me.  I'll always try to protect them from harm, you have my word on that."

Matthew nodded again. "Madeleine and I have a lot to be thankful to Trixie for, but I can't help but think that your judgment is skewed when it comes to her."

"I... uh..." Jim stammered and was surprised when Matthew began to laugh.

"Those big blue eyes of hers have bewitched you, haven't they?" Matthew teased him.  "Your legs turn to jelly and you just can't say no when she looks at you a certain way?"

Jim nodded dumbly.

"Don't worry son, I've been there before too," Matthew admitted.  "I was about your age too, but she was a brunette."

Jim allowed his face to relax into a smile.

"But let's just keep that a secret between us men, okay?" Matthew told him.  "And Jim, I know you've all learnt a valuable lesson from this experience, but try to remember what I said okay?"

"Yes Sir, thank you Sir," Jim mumbled.


"I'm sorry I got you into trouble," Trixie told him earnestly.  "I don't know if I would have made it without you."

"Hush..." Jim told her, raising a gloved finger to her lips.  "It doesn't matter now."

Trixie nodded slightly, watching his face.  He raised his hand to brush her cheek and she closed her eyes.

"The others will be here soon," she murmured regretfully.

"I know," Jim whispered, taking her face in his hands.  "But I was kind of hoping we could pick up from yesterday..."

Trixie's eyes widened then she closed her eyes again and leant her forehead against his.  "Not like this," she whispered.  "Not when we could be interrupted at any moment."

"You're right," Jim murmured reluctantly, gently kissing the tip of her nose, then pulling back from her.  "We need to find the right time."

Trixie nodded, realising she had been holding her breath all this time.  She wanted his kiss more than anything, but part of her was scared on what might change when they did. 

"It's not going to be easy to find time alone," Trixie told him softly.  She looked towards the window where she could see the others approaching.

"We'll find a way," Jim promised, squeezing her hand.  He tried to look nonchalant but his insides were aching.

Trixie nodded and he slowly released her hand.  They got to their feet and shared one last glance before Jim opened the door and welcomed the others.



Honey was ahead of Jim when they climbed on the school bus the next morning, but when she stopped to say hi to a class mate, Jim slipped past her.

Casually, he sat down next to Trixie rather than joining Brian across the aisle from her.  It wasn't that unusual for them to sit together, but the surprise was clear on Honey's face as she instead sat down next to Brian.

Most of the journey to school she spent chatting to Brian, and occasionally joining in the rowdy conversation Mart, Di and Dan were having.  She noticed that Jim and Trixie's heads were close together and they seemed oblivious to what was going on around them.

Honey had noticed that since their rescue from the barn roof, the two had almost been inseparable.  Trixie and Jim had always shared a special bond, but it appeared to her that it had intensified and oddly enough, she felt slightly jealous.

You're being silly, she chided herself.  Jim is your brother and Trixie is your best friend, why should this bother you?

Because, the small voice answered her, if they became involved they might spend more time together and less time with you.

"They wouldn't let that happen," Honey mumbled to herself as the group made their way off the bus, Trixie and Jim lingering at the rear.

She waited patiently for Trixie on the pavement as she said goodbye to Jim, then the two girls headed off to their lockers together, Di already having left.

"Good morning," Honey said brightly.

"Good morning," Trixie replied, a little distractedly.  "So do you think we'll get our history essay back this morning?"

"Maybe," Honey replied.  "How do you think you did?"

"I'm not sure," Trixie sighed.  "I might have to get some help if I bomb out on this one."

The two girls reached their lockers and Honey struggled to open hers while Trixie began the process of finding what she needed.

"Gleeps!  I should have cleaned this out," she giggled.  "Moms would kill me if she saw this.  Wait, let me try."

Trixie reached over and jiggled the catch on the locker.  In a second it sprung open, but Honey didn't move.

"Hey, since when do wear a bracelet?"

"Oh!" Trixie exclaimed, withdrawing her hand and instinctively covering it with her other hand.

"Can I see it?"

Trixie reluctantly uncovered the bracelet and held her hand out for Honey to see.

"It has Jim's name on it!"  She exclaimed in surprise.  "Did he give this to you?"

Trixie nodded, trying to hide a wide smile.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Honey asked, trying to disguise her dismay.  "Does this mean he's your boyfriend?"

"I..." Trixie began, but was drowned out by the sound of the bell.  "Let's talk about this later.  We'd better get to class."

Honey nodded and they dashed off to class, the hallways emptying quickly.



"Good morning Helen, it's Madeleine Wheeler."

"Oh, good morning Madeleine," Helen replied in surprise.  "How are you?"

"I'm fine thank you.  I'm sure you must be glad to have your children home with you now?"

Helen winced.  Was this going to be a conversation about Trixie?

"I certainly am, and in one piece too, thank goodness."

"Yes," Madeleine laughed.  "I believe they had something of an adventure, but let me assure you that Matthew gave Jim a good talking to the night he returned."

"Peter had quite a few words to say to our boys too, not to mention the lecture he gave Trixie," Helen replied soberly.  "She was in tears by the end of it."

"The poor girl," Madeleine sympathised.

"She admitted she deserved it," Helen told her.  "I had a chat with her afterwards and I must admit I was surprised by how quickly my little girl is growing up."

"Really, why?"

Helen hesitated, but decided to continue.  "Did you know that Jim gave Trixie a silver ID bracelet with his name on it?"

"Why, no I didn't," Madeleine replied after a short pause.  "When did this happen?"

"I believe he bought it for her just before they left Iowa," Helen answered.  "She hasn't taken it off since she arrived home."

"So you think this means they've taken their friendship another step further?" Madeleine asked carefully.

"She didn't say so in as many words, but it was written all over her face," Helen revealed with a sigh.  "I know she's growing up, but she's only 13 and Jim is... well..."

"Older," Madeleine finished for her.

"It's not just that he's older, he's also in the same year at school as Brian," Helen continued.  "The other students could make life very difficult for them."

"I understand," Madeleine murmured.  "Helen, if you're worried that Jim would do anything inappropriate..."

"Oh, no!"  Helen cried quickly.  "I'm positive he would be a perfect gentleman, although my daughter's adventurous streak may get them both in to trouble.  They're such good friends, my only hope is that they take things slowly and not ruin their friendship."

"You're quite right," Madeleine agreed.  "I'm sure Jim had the best intentions when he gave Trixie the bracelet and I know she's very important to him, but maybe it wouldn't hurt him to consider the situation a little more seriously and take his time developing their friendship."

"That's exactly what I was thinking," Helen admitted.  "Although, how do we convince them that it's the best course of action?"

"I'll have a word with Jim tonight," Madeleine promised.  "I won't mention the bracelet, but maybe it's time for a mother and son chat."

"Thank you Madeleine, I'd appreciate that," Helen told her gratefully.  "I'd talk to him myself, but if Trixie caught wind of it..."

"I understand," Madeleine laughed.  "Anyway, I need the practice.  It's been quite an experience gaining a fifteen year old son."

"I can imagine."

"Now I was ringing to invite you and Peter to a function the Arts Club is holding at Manor House next month.  We've managed to convince this delightful child prodigy, Gaye Hunya, to perform with the symphony for a fund raiser..."



"I'll meet you in the cafeteria Honey," Trixie told her after class.  "I've just got grab something from my locker."

"I can wait for you," Honey offered.

"No, you go ahead and save a table," Trixie told her.  "I won't be long."

Trixie hurried off to her locker and was surprised to see Jim waiting for her.

"Well, hello..." she began with a smile.

"I was hoping I'd catch you alone before lunch started," Jim told her quietly.  "Where's Honey?"

"Gone to the cafeteria," Trixie replied.  "I had to come back to grab my purse from my locker.  I shoved it in here by accident this morning."

"I was just wondering if there was any chance you could escape for a while after school," Jim began.  "Maybe we could meet at the clubhouse and go for a walk or something..."

Trixie blushed and the butterflies in her stomach broke loose as Jim's hand brushed against hers.

"I'd love to, but I promised Moms I'd look after Bobby this afternoon," Trixie answered regretfully. 

"Any chance you could get Mart or Brian to keep an eye on him for a while?" Jim suggested hopefully.

"Not without a million and one questions," Trixie sighed.  "Besides, after the lecture I got the other day, I don't think it would be wise to shirk my chores at the moment."

"You're right," Jim agreed, his eyes locking on hers.  "Maybe tomorrow then?"

"I'll see what I can do," Trixie promised, her mouth growing dry and her stomach doing flip-flops at the idea of spending time alone with him.

"Come on," he said, squeezing her hand quickly.  "We'd better go and meet the others for lunch."



"You're quiet," Jim commented to Honey as they headed up the driveway together after the bus had deposited them on Glen Road.  "Did you have a rough day?"

"Are you and Trixie keeping secrets from the Bob-Whites?" Honey asked abruptly, her manner indicating she was upset.

"Secrets?" Jim repeated in surprise.  "What do you mean?"

"I saw the bracelet you gave Trixie," Honey said in a small voice.  "You never told me about it and neither did she.  Di didn't know about it either!"

"It was a present from me to Trixie," Jim replied quietly.  "I don't know why either of us had to tell the Bob-Whites about it."

"Well, it could affect us all!" Honey cried, her eyes filling with tears.

"Honey!" Jim cried in surprise, stunned by her tears.  "I don't understand why you're so upset about this."

"If you and Trixie become a couple, it could change everything!" Honey blurted, then ran in to the house without waiting for a reply.

"We wouldn't let that happen," Jim called after her.  But she was gone, and an uneasy feeling settled in his stomach.

He trudged into the kitchen moments later and was surprised to find both his mother and Miss Trask sitting at the kitchen table.  Miss Trask was looking a little harassed.

"Oh Jim!" His mother cried in welcome.  "Goodness!  Is it that time already?  Where's Honey?"

"She didn't come in here?" Jim asked flatly.  Miss Trask looked up in concern at his pale expression.

"I'm sure she's gone up to her room to change," Madeleine told him.  "Miss Trask and I have just been discussing a fund raiser my Arts Club will be holding at the house next month, but why don't you go up and get changed then meet me in the study?  I'll have cook bring us in a snack.  There's something I'd like to talk to you about."

Jim stopped short in surprise and Miss Trask observed his demeanor with interest.  His behaviour and Honey's absence was certainly out of character for both of them.

"Yes, Mother," Jim replied quietly and he turned away and left the kitchen.

"Thank you for your help Miss Trask," Madeleine told her, rising to her feet.  "Can you let me know how you get on making those arrangements and I'll let the Arts Club know that everything is in your capable hands.  Now, can you find cook and arrange a snack for Jim and I?"

"Certainly Mrs Wheeler," Miss Trask replied.  "I'll have it brought into you shortly."

A moment after Mrs Wheeler vacated the kitchen, the cook appeared from the pantry.

"Is the coast clear?" She asked Miss Trask.

"You're safe Sarah," Miss Trask smiled.  "And I've convinced Mrs Wheeler it would be much more impressive to get in caterers for her fundraiser rather than have you and Celia manage it all."

"Oh, thank you Miss Trask," Sarah replied gratefully.  "I'm sorry I hid, but I find Mrs Wheeler so intimidating."

"Quite understandable Sarah," Miss Trask told her.  "Now if you could please arrange a tray with a snack for Mrs Wheeler and Jim and take it into the study."

"Certainly Miss Trask."

"And please make up a tray for Honey and I, and I'll take it up to her room," Miss Trask added.

"Is Miss Honey ill?"

"I'm not sure," Miss Trask replied slowly.  "But seeing she hasn't come down, I thought I'd take one up to her."

"I'm sure she'll appreciate that Miss Trask," Sarah replied and busied herself organising the snacks.

A few minutes later, Miss Trask carried the tray upstairs to Honey's room.  She knocked softly on the door.

"Honey, it's Mss Trask.  May I come in?"


Honey was wiping swollen red eyes when Miss Trask entered the room, but wisely she didn't comment on them.

"I thought I'd bring you up a snack seeing you didn't come down to the kitchen."

"Thank you," Honey mumbled.  "I guess I'm not really hungry."

"Is something troubling you?" Miss Trask asked, setting the tray down on a table and sitting down next to Honey.

"I'm scared the Bob-Whites are going to break up and I'll have no friends again!"  Honey blurted fearfully, her eyes searching Miss Trask's face desperately for reassurance.

"Now why would you think that?" Miss Trask asked.  "Has there been a disagreement?"

"No," Honey admitted.  "But some of the Bob-Whites are getting very close and I'm afraid that if they do, it could change things for all of us!"

Miss Trask realised immediately that Jim must somehow be involved in this and that Honey would feel threatened if the two people closest to her formed a relationship that she couldn't be part of.

"It's natural for you to feel that way, but I'm sure none of the Bob-Whites would do anything to hurt one another," Miss Trask began.

"But they've started keeping secrets, and soon they're going to want to do things alone and they won't include me, I mean the rest of us, and I - I don't want things to change!"

Honey burst into tears and Miss Trask put her arms around her.  "It's okay Honey," she whispered consolingly.  "Don't cry, it's okay."

"I'm sorry," Honey sniffed.  "I know I'm being selfish.  Jim and Trixie are so right for each other, it's just that..."

"You don't want to lose them as your friends," Miss Trask finished for her, and Honey nodded.  "Do you really think Jim and Trixie would let that happen?  You're very important to them."

"I guess they wouldn't intentionally," Honey conceded.

"What if it were different and it was say... you and Brian that had developed a close friendship, would you still make time for your friends?" Miss Trask asked softly.

Honey blushed.  "Of course we would!"

"Then maybe you need to talk to Trixie and Jim about your concerns, and let them know how you feel," Miss Trask suggested.  "I'm sure if they're aware of your feelings they would be very careful not to let their friendship affect their friendship with you or any of the Bob-Whites."

"You're so right, Miss Trask!" Honey cried, her smile brightening.  "I know I over reacted badly, but I couldn't help it when I saw the bracelet that Jim had given Trixie."

Miss Trask raised an eyebrow and wondered if Honey's reaction had contained a little jealousy too, but kept her suspicions to herself.

"I'm glad you're feeling better," she told Honey with a smile.  "Now do you think you could manage to eat some of the snack cook made for you?"



"You wanted to see me Mother?" Jim asked, knocking on the door of the study. 

"Oh, Jim.  Yes, come in." 

Madeleine did not show it, but she was a little nervous.  She had grown very fond of Jim and had been delighted in his well-mannered behaviour, but she had never had to discipline her children or tackle any of the harder subjects with them.  She had considered asking Miss Trask to have this conversation with Jim, but her promise to Helen had made her to talk to him herself.

"Cook's made a snack for us both," she said, patting the seat next to her.

Jim sat down and offered his mother a slice of cake from the tray on the table.  Madeleine declined and Jim took a piece for himself and waited.

"How was school?" She asked brightly.

"Fine, thank you."  Jim tried not to frown.  He rarely had one-on-one conversation with his mother and he was not exactly in the mood for polite conversations about school when his mind was on Honey, and Trixie.

"Miss Trask tells me you're doing very well," Madeleine continued.

"Yes, ma'am."

"I'm pleased to hear that," she told him, wondering desperately how to address the subject with him.  "Matthew told me he talked to you about what happened in Iowa."

Jim sighed inwardly.  Was this another lecture?

"I promised him I would be more responsible and would try to ensure that Honey and Trixie stay out of danger," Jim told her earnestly.

"I'm sure you will," Madeleine smiled.  "Trixie means a lot to you, doesn't she?"

A lump formed in Jim's throat.  "Yes, ma'am.  I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for her."

"Matthew and I are well aware of that Jim, dear," Madeleine told him, patting his hand.  "I hope you don't think I'm intruding by asking this Jim, but are you and Trixie becoming more than just friends?"

Jim's face flushed hot and he put down his slice of cake and reached for his drink.  Was this going to be the dreaded SEX talk?

"I... uh... well, Trixie and I are becoming better friends as time goes on," Jim stammered nervously.

Madeleine wrung her hands nervously.  "I guess I'm not making myself clear.  I'm asking if you and Trixie are boyfriend and girlfriend?"

"Not quite..." Jim answered slowly.  "But Trixie knows how I feel about her, and I..."

"And how exactly do you feel about her Jim?" Madeleine asked directly.

Jim stared at his mother, wondering why she was asking him to lay bare the thoughts and feelings even he had not had time comprehend.

"I... um... I like her, I like being around her and it feels good to be near her, and when she smiles at me, I..."

He looked helplessly at Madeleine who sensed his discomfort.

"I understand Jim, I don't mean to intrude on your feelings for her," she assured him.  "I'm just wondering if you've considered what it would mean if you and Trixie embarked in a relationship right now."

Jim stared at her in confusion.  Had the women in this family begun speaking a different language that he wasn't aware of?  First Honey, now his mother was saying things to him that he couldn't understand.

"I'm not sure what you mean..." Jim admitted.

"You're fifteen and Trixie is only thirteen," Madeleine pointed out.  "Not only are you two years older than her, you're also three years above her at school.  Isn't that going to make things a little hard for you both?"

"I don't see how..." Jim began.

"Jim, she's still a young girl," Madeleine pointed out softly.  "It's not appropriate for a girl of Trixie's age to have a boyfriend or be given trinkets or face pressure from her school mates about having an older boyfriend."

"But it wouldn't be like that," Jim protested.  "I just want to be with her.  I want her to know that she means everything to me."

"I know," Madeleine told him sympathetically.  "But it won't be long before you'll want to hold her hand and kiss her and take her on dates like other boys your age."

Jim's face flushed red and he looked down at his hands.  "I didn't realise that was wrong."

"It's not wrong," Madeleine assured him.  "It's just that Trixie's too young.  I know she's very important to you, but just wait a year or two until she's old enough to handle that sort of relationship.  You don't want to do anything that could endanger your friendship, do you?"

"No..." Jim muttered miserably.

"I know your father thinks that your feelings for her may have clouded your judgment while you were in Iowa," Madeleine added.

Jim looked up sharply.  "No, I wouldn't do anything that would out Trixie and Honey in danger.  Mother, you have to know that!"

"Maybe not deliberately Jim," Madeleine conceded.  "But think about it, if you had said no to Trixie that day, would you have ended up risking your lives?"

Jim was silent.  He stared down at his hands.

"I didn't want to upset you Jim and I'm certainly not telling you that you can't have a relationship with Trixie," Madeleine said quickly.  "But I do want you to think about where your friendship with Trixie is heading and look at the possible repercussions."

"I understand," Jim mumbled.  "Thank you mother."

Madeleine's brow crumpled into a frown and she wondered wildly if she should have spoken to him about this at all.  But it was too late now.

"Well, that's all I wanted to talk to you about Jim," Madeleine added with false brightness.  "You can go now if you like.  I expect you have homework."

Jim nodded.  "Thank you mother."

He got up and moved slowly from the room.  He felt numb, shell-shocked by the frankness of his mother's words and his hope of a relationship with Trixie ripped to shreds.  He climbed the stairs unseeingly.

"Jim?" Honey asked, stepping out of her room.  "I wanted to apologise for my behaviour before.  I just over reacted."

"It's okay Honey," Jim mumbled.

"But Jim, I want to talk to you about you and Trixie..."

"It doesn't matter anymore," Jim muttered and disappeared into his room, closing the door behind him.

He fell heavily on to his bed, and lay still.  Could his mother be right in all that she said?  Was Trixie too young, were his feelings for her affecting his judgment?  Could a relationship between them have the potential to damage their friendship?

"How?" Jim muttered.  How could being open with Trixie about his feelings for her hurt them both?

He thought back to when he was a child and his mother and father were openly loving towards each other and towards him.  He craved to be part of that again, and to be able to share his feelings for Trixie with her and be safe in the knowledge that she felt the same way.  Why was it wrong to be with her that way?

But what if they were right?  If he had been stronger with Trixie, if he had said no the day she wanted him to drive out to Sand Mill, then they never would have been in danger. 

"But I would have disappointed her," he whispered.  "And how could I bear that look in her eyes and know that I'd caused it?"



"Where's Jim?" Trixie asked Honey as she sat down next to her on the bus.

"Well, good morning to you too," Honey laughed.  "Jim was gone when I got up.  Miss Trask said that Tom was dropping him off at school on the way to the train station with Dad."

"Oh..." Trixie murmured in disappointment.  She had been hoping to share another quiet discussion with him on the bus this morning.

"I wanted to apologise for yesterday," Honey began slowly.  "I know I was a little abrupt about your bracelet, and I'm really sorry about that.  I'm really happy that Jim gave it to you and that you two have been able develop a closer friendship."

"Thanks Honey," Trixie replied with a shy smile.  "I wanted to tell you, but it was all so new and we haven't really talked about... it yet.  I guess I just wanted to keep things to myself until I know where we stood, do you know what I mean?"

"I understand," Honey assured her warmly.  "When you're ready to talk about it, I'll be here."

"You're the best!"  Trixie grinned and hugged her friend.  Now if only the bus would finally get to school so she could see Jim!  It was getting harder and harder to spend time apart.  Why wasn't he on the bus this morning?



Trixie waited at Jim's locker between classes.  She had missed him before school, he didn't meet her at her locker at lunch and didn't go to the cafeteria at all during lunch time, although Dan assured her he was at school.  She knew she would be late for her next class, but she just had to see him.

"Well, if it isn't Trixie Belden," Larry Parker drawled as he spotted her leaning against Jim's locker.  "Little out of your depth over here, aren't you Belden?"

"Whatever you say Larry," Trixie muttered, between clenched teeth.

"Waiting for your boyfriend?  You wish Belden!" He sneered.  "As if Frayne would like twice at you when he's even got the senior girls hanging off his every word."

"Jealous are you Parker?" Trixie shot back at him.

Larry was about to respond with a loud retort when he noticed Jim standing there watching him, a somber expression on his face.

"Later Belden." He grunted, shoving his hands in his pockets and walking off.

"He must be scared of you," Trixie giggled, walking up to Jim.

"Are you okay?" He asked quietly. 

"I'm fine," Trixie assured him, touching his arm.  "I've been dealing with creeps like Larry since primary school."

"You shouldn't have to," Jim told her, opening his locker.

"Don't worry about it," Trixie replied.  "Where have you been anyway?  I've been looking all over for you."

"I've got a test this afternoon and I forgot to take my book home last night," Jim lied with downcast eyes.  "It's about to start, so I've got to go."

"Look, I've got nothing on after school," Trixie began eagerly.  "Do you want to meet at the club house?"

Jim hesitated, swallowing hard.  "Okay, I'm catching the late bus home but I'll go straight there when I get home."

"Great!"  Trixie cried, and Jim began to walk away.  "Good luck with your test!"

"What?" Jim asked with a frown.  "Oh, yeah, right.  Thanks."

The knot in his stomach tightened as he walked away from her.  After what he had just heard, he had to tell her.  He had no choice.


Trixie was both nervous and excited as she waited for Jim at the club house.  The anticipation of her first kiss filled her stomach with butterflies, but at the same time thrilled her.  It had been days since they had been alone together.

Jim, meanwhile, walked slowly to the club house as if his legs were filled with lead.  He dreaded seeing her, telling her that they could only be friends when all he really wanted to do was...  But he had to do it, because if he didn't they might never have a future.

"I thought you'd never get here," Trixie cried as he entered the club house and closed the door behind him.

"Sorry," he offered, trying to smile.

"So we're finally alone," Trixie said nervously.

"We need to talk," Jim said seriously and pulled out a chair at the table.  Trixie looked a little surprised but sat down and Jim sat down across from her.

"I've been thinking a lot about us, about what we've talked about and how hard things have been the past few days," Jim began slowly, his expression serious.  "You know how I feel about you, I meant every word of what I said when I gave you the bracelet.  But I think right now would be the wrong time for us to take our friendship any further."

"You do?" Trixie asked in a small voice.  "Why?"

"Because we're both so young and we've only known each for a while," Jim explained softly.  "And I'm worried that if we start something now, it might go wrong and we'll ruin our friendships and maybe hurt the Bob-Whites.  Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"I understand," Trixie whispered.  "I've thought all the same things myself and I've been scared, but at the same time excited.  We've gotten through so much together, why couldn't we make this work?"

Jim looked into her eyes and willed himself to be strong.  If she began to cry, he wouldn't be able to stop himself from taking her in his arms, and...

"Maybe we can make it work when we're a bit older," Jim suggested gently.  "If we wait we have a better chance of making it last forever.  Don't you think so?"

"I-I guess," Trixie murmured slowly.    "I guess it will be easier in some ways if we wait with Moms and Dad, and the Bob-Whites and school and stuff.  But you know I've never been very good at waiting."

"It will be worth the wait, I promise you Trix," Jim assured her earnestly.  "And in the meantime, our friendship will just get stronger and stronger."

"Okay," Trixie nodded in agreement.  She sighed sadly and smiled at him.  "I guess no more clandestine meetings in the club house."

"Not for now any way," Jim grinned.  "And where did you pick that word up?  From Mart?"

"No, a Lucy book!"  Trixie giggled.

It made his heart sing to see her smile, but at the same time it made him sad.  He would have to wait again now before he could be sure that smile was especially for him.

"Well, I'd better get back to the house," Trixie said reluctantly.  "I promised Moms I'll help with dinner."

"Thanks for understanding Trix," Jim murmured.  "I was so scared I'd hurt you."

"I'm fine," Trixie assured him with a bright smile that surprised even her.  "I'll see you tomorrow?"

"Bye Trix."

He wanted to hug her goodbye, but he knew it would give him away.  Instead, he watched her walk away, having believed the lies he had told her, the lies he had convinced himself were true.



Trixie tried to convince herself that it was the cold wind stinging her eyes that made them smarten with tears, but she knew it wasn't really true.  Half an hour ago she had been preparing herself for her first kiss, and now she found herself having been gently let down by the object of her affections.

Jim had overheard what Larry Parker had said to her in the hallway.  Had it made him think twice about their relationship?  Maybe it was she, herself, that was at fault.  After all, she was the one who raised the objections about how the Bob-Whites would react and it was she who was reluctant to let him kiss her in the club house. 

"No wonder he thought I was too young to be in a relationship!" Trixie muttered aloud.

"Trixie?" Honey called to her, spotting her friend on the pathway leading past Manor House.  "Are you okay?  Why, Trixie, you've been crying!"

Trixie stared around her in confusion.  She had meant to take the path that lead to Crabapple Farm but had somehow ended up at Manor House.

"I'm okay Honey," Trixie admitted with a smile, quickly wiping her face.  "I guess I kinda got lost."

"Trixie, are you feeling alright?" Honey asked in alarm.  Her friend was not making sense.

"Jim and I just broke up," Trixie blurted, half-laughing, half-crying.  "Well, not that we were really together, but if we were, we're not any more."

"What happened?" Honey asked, putting a sympathetic arm around her friend's shoulder.

"I'm not sure," Trixie replied, holding her head in her hands in despair.  "A day or so ago he didn't care what anyone thought, but now he thinks I'm too young and we should wait.  It's all my fault, I guess I am too young.  I was scared that it would change things between us, between all of us."

"Oh, Trixie!  So was I!"  Honey admitted.  "But then I talked to Miss Trask and she made me realise that you and Jim would never risk losing a friendship just because yours was closer."

"Well, I guess we won't be risking anything," Trixie mumbled, sniffling slightly.  "Not now anyway.  We just have to wait until the time is right."

"I'm so sorry," Honey murmured.  "Are you still talking to Jim?"

"Of course I am, silly," Trixie smiled, gathering her senses and putting on a brave face.  "It was the right thing to do, I know that."

"Well, that's good then I guess," Honey said uncertainly.  "Do you want me to walk you home?"

"No, I'm fine," Trixie assured her.  "Does my face look okay?  Will anyone wonder if I've been crying?"

"Not in this wind, they won't," Honey assured her.  "I'll talk to you tomorrow, okay?"

"Okay," Trixie replied, and impulsively hugged her friend.  "Thanks for everything Honey."

Trixie let go and dashed off down the hill to Crabapple Farm and Honey turned back towards the house.  She had been looking for Jim, knowing that the last bus had been a while ago, but their paths crossed as she rounded the bend towards the house.

"Are you okay?" Honey asked him softly.  "I just saw Trixie."

Jim's expression shifted to one of concern.  "Was she alright?"

"A little shook up I think, but she'll be okay," Honey revealed.  "I don't think that's what she expected when she agreed to meet you today."

"I know," Jim mumbled.

"Are you sure you did the right thing?" Honey asked gently.

No!  He wanted to scream, but he knew he couldn't.

"It's for the best," he told her.  "We just need to wait a little while until the time is right."

Honey sighed and shook her head.  "It's your call, big brother.  But just don't keep her waiting too long or you may never find that right time."

Jim looked away.  He didn't want to hear those words.  Someday they would be together, he'd make sure of that.



Trixie took off her bracelet for the first time.  She fingered it carefully for a moment, lovingly running her fingers over the engraved lettering that spelled his name.  Then she put it carefully back into the box it came in, and hid it high at the back of her closet in amongst old school books and mementos.

There it would be far away from Bobby's curious fingers and prevent the tugging at her heart she felt each time she looked at it.

After all, she told herself.  She wasn't putting it away for ever, just for a while.  Just until they were ready to have a relationship, a relationship that would last forever.

Until then she had to forget that they were, at one time, nearly more than friends.  She couldn't allow herself to dwell on that possibility.  She knew she must wait until Jim spoke again.

And so it began...

The End.


This story title and cover was created using Trix-e-tron.