Reaching Out

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

This story's title and the lyrics featured in it come from the Neil Diamond song Sweet Caroline.   Thanks to Ann who encouraged me to write shorter, more manageable stories, and to Leigh and Meagan who are always there to re-read and offer support.  Thanks so much ladies!


Margery Trask walked slowly along the path that lead from Manor House to Crabapple farm.  It was a change from her normal brisk pace, but a heavy heart weighed her down and she couldn't coax her body to move any faster.

It had only been a day since Edgar Carver had left and she had been able to think of little else.  It had been many years since she had allowed herself to dream of a life with someone special, and it had surprised her how this man had so quickly captured her heart.  But now he had gone and she could taste the familiarity of disappointment.

She took a deep breath and urged herself forwards.   The Bob-whites were returning home tomorrow, and until then she knew a visit to Helen Belden would be a welcome distraction from the thoughts that tormented her when she was alone.

"Hello Marge."  The soft and slightly strained voice surprised her and she looked up in confusion.  Unconsciously, her expression turned to a frown when she saw Thomas Lytell standing before her.

"Mr Lytell."  Miss Trask responded shortly.

"Taking an afternoon stroll?"

"Visiting Crabapple farm actually," Miss Trask replied, a little bluntly.  She resented having to explain herself to him.

"Your gentleman friend has gone home?"  There was a hint of hope in his voice.

"You don't miss much, do you?"  Miss Trask muttered under her breath.  "Yes, I'm afraid Edgar had to leave."

"He's not from around these parts is he?"  Mr Lytell persevered.

"That's quite observant of you," Miss Trask remarked.  "I'm afraid I can't chat any longer, Mrs Belden's expecting me."

"Would you be interested in a game of cards tonight?" Mr Lytell asked hopefully.  "I was planning on making that casserole you like so much."

It was his olive branch, but she wouldn't give him the satisfaction.  She was still too angry.

"That's very kind of you, but I'm afraid I'm unavailable tonight," Miss Trask replied icily.  "Now you must excuse me..."

She turned away and continued down the path to Crabapple farm, her heart a little less heavy and her step a little lighter.



"So did Matthew say if the Bob-whites got up to any mischief in St Louis?" Helen asked Miss Trask as she poured the tea.

"He was a little evasive," Miss Trask confided.  "I expect we'll hear all about it when they return."

"I expect you're glad that they were his responsibility and not yours for once," Helen smiled.

"I'll look for the grey hairs when he returns," Miss Trask joked and the two women laughed.

She felt good laughing.  It helped shake off the encounter with Mr Lytell.

"I tried to contact Edgar Carver today," Helen began.  "But the receptionist at the inn told me he left yesterday."

Miss Trask nodded, her eyes lowered.  She took a sip of tea.

"I hope he didn't have to leave for some kind of emergency," Helen commented further.

Miss Trask sighed and put down her tea.  "The restoration committee decided to meet last night and he needed to be there.  I drove him to the train station early yesterday morning."

"That's a shame," Helen murmured, watching her companion carefully.  "The children will be disappointed that he left so soon."

Miss Trask nodded slightly in agreement.

"And perhaps you are too?" Helen dared to venture.

Miss Trask sighed and shook her head.  "Only because I allowed foolish dreams to enter my head.  I...  I'd forgotten what it was like to feel this lonely."

Helen was surprised by the frank honesty of her friend's revelation.  Despite developing a close friendship since she had moved to Manor House, Helen had rarely seen this side of Miss Trask.

"You couldn't tell him?"

"There was no point," she answered flatly.  "He doesn't feel the same way.  I thought for a moment he might have, but I was wrong."

"Are you sure?" Helen asked gently.

"Did he say something to you?" Miss Trask asked with a hint of eagerness.

"He asked about your relationship with My Lytell," Helen admitted.

"Thomas."  Miss Trask spoke his name bitterly.  "He came across us on the path and was extremely rude.  What did you tell him?"

"That you were only friends," Helen assured her softly.  "But he believed that Mr Lytell's feelings for you were more than platonic."

"We've never had that kind of friendship," Miss Trask stated crossly.  She closed her eyes and sighed.  "I'm sorry Helen, I didn't mean to snap.  I've found his behaviour of late extremely irritating."

"I can see that," Helen smiled.  "But perhaps your assessment of your situation with Edgar is not quite right.  I think perhaps that he felt he was intruding on something between you and Mr Lytell, and maybe that's why he left so abruptly."

"I don't know..."  Miss Trask shook her head doubtfully.

"Why don't you call him?" Helen suggested.  "Perhaps if you make it clear that you aren't involved with Mr Lytell in any way and that you enjoy Edgar's company, it will give him to confidence to reveal the way he feels."

"Helen, I don't think I..."  Miss Trask stared at her hands.

"Yes, you can Marge," Helen told her softly, but firmly.  "What have you got to lose?"

My self-respect, my confidence, my dreams of being loved and living a normal life.  I couldn't go through all that again...

"I'll think about it," Miss Trask replied finally, in a tone that made it clear to Helen that she shouldn't pursue the topic further.

"Well..." Helen murmured.  "Did Mr Wheeler give any indication what the Bob-Whites got up to on their trip?"



"Well, look at you!"  Alex cried in amazement as Edgar Carver stepped out of the train.  "You look twenty years younger!"

"I almost feel it," Edgar grinned and hugged his friend.  "You're a sight for sore eyes, my friend."

"I'm sorry I couldn't get up to New York to see you," Alex apologised.  "I really did try to, but I just couldn't get away."

"Don't give it another thought," Edgar assured him.

"You weren't too lonely?" Alex asked him, grabbing the suitcase that Edgar pointed at.

"Not at all," Edgar told him.  "The Bob-whites came to visit me after the operation with a friend of theirs."

"Did you manage to visit your cousin?"

"As a matter of fact I did," Edgar smiled as they walked out to the car.  He was aware of Alex's eyes on him, watching the way he walked.  "I didn't get to visit with the Bob-whites as I had hoped, but their friend was gracious enough show me around and visited my cousin with me."

"Who was this friend?"  Alex demanded.  "That's the second time you've mentioned them."

"Marge Trask," Edgar replied with a wistful smile.  "She manages Manor House where Jim and Honey live.  Her sister was at the same hospital as me."

"And?" Alex asked, lifting the case into the trunk of the car.

Edgar ducked his question by getting into the car.  A moment later, Alex climbed in besides him.  He put the key in the ignition then turned to Edgar, observing him carefully.

"Yes, Alex?" Edgar asked dryly.

"Never mind," Alex grinned and started the car.  He could see the change in his friend and he knew it was more than just his ability to walk.

On the drive home to Green Trees, Alex questioned his friend about his rehabilitation and his physical therapy.

"Have you felt any pain, anything unusual?"  Alex asked.

"Everything feels unusual to me," Edgar replied with a smile.  "I've felt a shortness of breath on a couple of occasions, but I assure you that it's nothing to do with the operation."

"How can you be sure?" Alex asked in alarm.

"Because it only happens when a certain person is around," Edgar admitted reluctantly.

"I knew it!"  Alex cried triumphantly.  "Is it Marge?  So what happened?"

"Yes, it is Marge," Edgar replied.  "And nothing happened."

"What do you mean nothing happened?"  Alex demanded. 

"Nothing happened," Edgar repeated, a little impatiently.  "We spent some time together while I was in hospital and then when I went to Sleepyside.  I thought we grew quite close in that short time, but it appears that she's involved with someone else."

"It appears?" Alex repeated.  "You don't know?"

"No," Edgar squirmed miserably under his friend's gaze.  "It seemed pretty self-evident. I didn't want to hear all the details.  I couldn't bear it."

"But surely you felt that she was interested in you?"  Alex asked.

"Of course I did," Edgar almost snapped.  "That's why I'm so angry at myself.  Obviously, she was just being kind and friendly and I just saw more in it than there was."

Alex was silent for a moment.  He stared out at the road and wondered how he could help his friend.

"Edgar you're the best judge of character I know," Alex began, "I can't believe that she didn't feel the same way for you."

"When she held my hand and looked at me with her clear, blue eyes, I was positive she felt something for me..." Edgar murmured.  "But I guess my judgment was clouded by what I hoped could be."

Alex shook his head.  "From what you just told me, I find it impossible to believe that she didn't have feelings for you.  Don't let this go Edgar.  You don't want to end up regretting what might have been."

Edgar was silent and Alex wondered if he had spoken out of turn.  They had always been frank with one another, but they had rarely discussed matters of the heart.

"Perhaps it's all for the best anyway," Edgar sighed.  "Virginia is so far from New York and neither of us could leave our homes.  It's ridiculous to think we could have a long distance relationship."

"Then what about a friendship?" Alex asked.  "You're good friends with the Bob-whites and it seems likely you'll see them again given that the Lynch family bought Rosewood Hall.  You don't want to make things uncomfortable, do you?"

"No..." Edgar admitted.

"Then call her," Alex told him.  "We could always do with more friends, particularly special ones."

"I'll think about it," Edgar said finally, but he was already wondering what he would say to her.



Miss Trask sat down next to the phone, a glass of sherry in her hand.  Normally, she didn't need to look outside herself for courage, but this time it was different.  This time she needed something to calm the butterflies in her stomach.

Picking up the phone, she dialed information and obtained his phone number, writing it down neatly on the pad besides the phone.

She put down the pen and took a sip of the sherry.

Why was this so hard?  It was just a phone call.  I don't want to leave things like this...

She placed her hand on the phone and paused.  What if he didn't want to talk to her?  He had been so eager to leave...

The phone began to ring and she sprung back in surprise.  Smiling at her foolish reaction, she picked up the phone.

"Manor House."

"Marge?"  Edgar asked tentatively.

"Edgar?!" Marge gasped in surprise.  "I was... uh..."

"I...  I just wanted to let you know I arrived home safely," Edgar began feebly.

"That's very kind of you," Marge told him, still surprised.  "Are you tired from the trip?"

"A little," Edgar admitted and he squirmed as he pondered what to say next.  "How's everything with you?"

"Fine," Marge murmured and she searched desperately for something to say.  "Is everything in order for your meeting tonight?"

"I... uh, I think so..." Edgar stammered.  "They're due here soon."

"Edgar, I..."

"Marge, I wanted to..."

They both laughed nervously.  "You first," Edgar offered.

"I...  I... uh...  think you may have gotten the wrong idea about Thomas Lytell, the man we met in the game preserve," Miss Trask began nervously.  "We are and always have been just friends.  I know Thomas may have given you another impression, but it's not true, and I think this may have upset you.  I didn't want you thinking that I'd hidden something from you."

Relief washed over Edgar.  "Oh, Marge!  I...  Helen tried to tell me that it may have been one-sided, but then I thought that maybe what I felt had been one-sided too, and..."

"It's okay Edgar," Miss Trask assured him, the knot in her stomach disappearing.  "I think we both jumped to wrong conclusions, I'm just sorry you left before we had a chance to talk this through."

"Me too," Edgar sighed with a smile.  "I really did enjoy the time we spent together Marge.  It's meant a lot to me at this time in my life."

"It's meant a lot to me too, Edgar," Marge told him earnestly.  "I hope that we can continue our friendship despite the distance between us."

"I'd like that," Edgar replied.  "Perhaps you can come and visit me sometime soon.  I'd really like you to see Green Trees."

"I'd love too," Miss Trask murmured.  "I'll see when I can arrange it."

"That's wonderful!"  Edgar cried.  "In the meantime, please don't be a stranger.  I miss our talks already."

"I was just about to call you tonight," Miss Trask admitted.  "I'd missed talking to you too."

"Well, I'd better get ready for the meeting," Mr Carver said reluctantly.  "Will you call me soon and let me know when you're able to visit?"

Miss Trask experienced a small thrill that was slowly become a familiar sensation.  "I'll call you later this week."

"I'll look forward to it."

"Thank you for calling Edgar," she murmured earnestly.  "Good night."

"Good night Marge."

Miss Trask placed the phone back on the receiver with a happy sigh.  Tonight they had been able to reach out to each other and find friendship and the hope of something more.

Was in the spring
And spring became the summer
Who'd have believed you'd come along

Hands, touching hands
Reaching out...