Saturday, January 10, 1987

“I just don’t get it, Jim,” sixteen-year-old Trixie Belden said to her boyfriend. “Why would Brian go to all of the trouble of buying Honey that sapphire necklace for Christmas and take her out for a lovely New Year’s Eve celebration and then out of the blue break up with her two days later?”

The two of them were heading into Sleepyside in the Mustang convertible that Jim’s father had given him for his eighteenth birthday last year. They were going out on one last date before Jim headed back to college the next day after being home for three weeks over Christmas break.

Jim didn’t say anything, but just kept his eyes focused on his driving. His hands tightened on the steering wheel.

Oblivious to Jim’s tension, Trixie continued to rant, “I know Honey’s confused. We both knew that if we dated college men we would be spending many weekends without a date. We agreed that it was worth it, to date the two of you. We even talked about how it was nice because it made it easier to balance friendships with boyfriends. She never complains about Brian, and I don’t think they’ve ever had an argument.”

Jim still didn’t say anything and Trixie still seemed to be oblivious to Jim’s tension.

“I’m going to talk to Brian tomorrow, before you guys leave to go back to Columbia, and get some answers,” Trixie demanded.

Jim whipped his head around to Trixie, momentarily taking his eyes off the road. “No!” he shouted. “You are NOT going to talk to Brian. It isn’t your problem. It’s between Honey and Brian.” Realizing what he had done, he quickly focused his eyes back onto the road ahead of them.

Trixie snapped her head to look at him. She couldn’t remember the last time he had spoken so sharply to her.

“What do you mean?” she challenged. “Honey is your sister, and Brian is your best friend and roommate. Don’t you want to help them?” She was surprised by his reaction. She had expected him to agree with her whole-heartedly.

They were in town now. Jim pulled into a parking spot and turned off the car before he faced her.

Through clenched teeth Jim said, “That’s the point. I’m not going to get in the middle of this. I’m not going to take sides. Unless Brian has done something to abuse Honey, then I’m staying out of this.”

“But Jim…” Trixie started.

“I mean it, Trix. Stay out of this. Brian has his reasons,” Jim quickly shut his mouth realizing he had already said too much.

Trixie quickly picked up on Jim’s slip. “You know something about this,” she insisted.

Not giving in to her badgering, Jim fumed, “Leave it alone. It’s not your business.”

The two stubborn friends were at an impasse. Neither one was willing to give in to the other. Despite the heated words, the temperature in Jim’s car grew colder as their heated exchange continued.

“What has Brian said to you?” Trixie continued to push.

“Don’t go there,” Jim warned.

“Why not?” Trixie’s rigid posture and flashing blue eyes left little doubt as to her feelings about Jim’s warning. As each minute passed her anger rose.

“Because I said so,” Jim shouted.

That pushed Trixie over the edge and she laid into Jim. “Where do you get off playing God?” she shouted. “If I want to talk to Brian, I will.”

They continued to argue for several more minutes. Neither one was listening to what the other one was saying. As the argument escalated, they started slinging insults and criticisms that had nothing to do with the issues at hand. Finally, Trixie unbuckled her seatbelt, reached for the door handle and started to leave.

Jim grabbed her arm. “Where do you think you’re going?” he demanded.

Trixie pulled out of his grip, pushed open the door and defiantly said, “I’m walking home.” She slammed the door in Jim’s face.

She hadn’t gone ten feet when Jim was out of the car and standing next to her. He was valiantly trying to get his temper under control and reason logically with Trixie. “Come on, Trixie, it’s too cold for you to be thinking about walking home,” he cajoled.

“Don’t worry about me,” she said. “I’ll find my way home if I have to call someone. Brian’s not doing anything tonight. I’m sure he’d love to come and pick me up.”

Jim groaned.

Fortunately, Dan Mangan pulled up in front of them in the Bob-White station wagon. Not realizing the minefield he was walking into, he got out of the car and walked over to greet his two friends.

When Trixie glanced up and saw who was there, she announced, “Dan can take me home.”

Jim started to protest, “I picked you up and I will make sure you get home safely.”

“Dan will take me home,” Trixie insisted again.

Realizing that maybe this wasn’t a good place to be, Dan started to turn and head back to the car without saying a word.

Jim called out to Dan through clenched teeth, “Trixie and I seem to be having a disagreement that isn’t going to be resolved tonight. Would you please take her home since she refuses to go with me?”

Dan looked like that was the last thing he wanted to do. Reluctantly he said, “Sure, come on, Trix. The Mangan Limousine Company is at your service.”

Dan and Trixie headed out. Jim followed them back to Glen Road.


Friday, March 6, 1987

Trixie was miserable. In fact, she had been miserable for almost two months. She and Jim had broken up as a result of their argument. In fact, she’d only spoken with Jim once since then. It had been the day after their huge blow up. Jim stopped by Crabapple Farm on his way back to Columbia University.

“Trixie,” said Jim. “Can we talk about this, now that we’ve both calmed down?”

“I don’t know what there is to say,” Trixie said. “You don’t trust me enough to tell me what’s going on, and then you forbid me to find out for myself.”

Her parents had taken Bobby to a see the movie An American Tail. Mart had been wise to hightail it out of the house and was spending Sunday afternoon with Diana. Unfortunately for Trixie and Jim, Brian was still in the house, as he would be riding back to school with Jim.

They were sitting in the family room. Brian was upstairs finishing his last-minute packing.

Frustration washed over Jim’s face, “Can’t you see the situation I’ve been put in? My best friend has confided something to me, and my girlfriend is demanding that I break that confidence. I’m in a no-win situation.”

Trixie was still upset and confused from the way the previous evening had ended. She had convinced herself that the reason Jim hadn’t told her what was up with Brian was because he felt the same way about their relationship as Brian had with Honey. Maybe if Trixie had been able to sleep more than two hours the night before she wouldn’t have said what she said next, but she did. “Well, you won’t have to worry about that now. You don’t have a girlfriend.”

Jim stood up and without looking at Trixie, he said, “Tell Brian I’ll be in the car.” He then walked out of the house.

Both of them were stubborn and wouldn’t admit to any fault in the argument. Neither one of them would take the first step. Jim hadn’t come home once during the semester, even though Brian had taken the train home on several occasions.

Things weren’t any better between Honey and Trixie. Both were confused about what had happened in their relationships with their former boyfriends. Their one attempt to talk to each other had resulted in them getting into a tiff. Diana had refused to get into the middle of the arguments and tended to avoid the whole situation by devoting more time to Mart.

Tonight, Trixie had come home from school and went directly to her bedroom. She changed into her work jeans and hurriedly went about feeding the chickens and picking up the house. She wasn’t sure why she was in such a hurry, unless she thought it would keep her mind from wandering back to her troubles. Unfortunately, it wasn’t working.

Mart had gone over to Diana’s after school. They were having dinner with her family and then going to a movie. It was Fun Night at the elementary school so Trixie’s parents and Bobby were out for the evening as well.

After Trixie finished her chores, she headed inside. She wasn’t planning to go anywhere but she decided to take a shower. Afterwards, common sense told her to eat something, despite her lack of hunger. In fact, she hadn’t felt like eating for a long time. Her clothes were getting noticeably looser. Last weekend when Brian had been home, he had commented on it.

She made a Crabapple Special sandwich and forced herself to eat it. Despite drinking a large glass of milk with it, the sandwich seemed to stick in her throat. When she had finished, she rinsed the dishes and then decided to tackle some of the homework she had. Glancing at the clock, she groaned. It was only six thirty. It was going to be a long night.

She settled in and began her algebra assignment. She had surprised herself and others when math had started to make sense to her. Last year, with Jim and Brian gone to school, she had lost her handy and patient math tutors. Rather than having to admit to everyone else that she couldn’t handle it, she put her mind to it and figured it out on her own. She had only had to call Jim once for help. It had been more of an excuse to speak to Jim than to get help with math.

The phone rang. She got up and answered it.

“Hello,” she said.

“Hi, there,” a deep voice said. “This is Todd Roberts.” He said it like Trixie should know who he was and be honored by his call.

Trixie vaguely recognized the name but couldn’t place it. “Is there something I can help you with?” she asked.

“Is Trixie there?”

“Speaking,” she replied. “Who did you say you were?”

“This is Todd Roberts. I’m captain of the Croton-on-the-Hudson basketball team,” he bragged. When Trixie didn’t respond, he continued. “You know, our team is tied for first place in the conference. I scored twenty points last week against White Plains.”

“You probably want to talk to Mart then. He’s gone for the evening, but he should be here in morning,” Trixie volunteered.

“No, I called to speak to you. Frankly, I’m surprised I got a hold of you. I figured a good-looking doll like you would be out on a date,” Todd schmoozed.

Despite being put off by Todd’s pick-up line, Trixie was flattered. Her self-esteem had really taken a hit since she had broken it off with Jim. “No,” Trixie giggled. “The only date I have is with my algebra book.”

Todd gave a shocked gasp, “Algebra on a Friday night? There ought to be a law about that.”

Trixie found herself still giggling. “Well, if I want to get into a good college, it has to be done some time.”

For a few minutes, Todd continued to flatter Trixie. Finally, she asked, “Was there a reason you’re calling?”

Todd started to stutter as if he were nervous. “I was just wondering if you’d like to go to a movie tonight.”

Trixie bit her lip. She really hadn’t thought about dating anyone else. But maybe that was what she needed. “It’s a little late for tonight, don’t you think?” she said.

“Well,” Todd replied as if he were stalling. Then he rushed on, “I know it is, but I just got up the nerve to ask you.”

Trixie hesitated. She wanted to go out with him but there were house rules. “Fortunately, I would love to go out with you. Unfortunately, my parents are gone for the evening and they have a pretty strict rule about meeting any dates I might have.”

“Well, what about tomorrow night?” he asked. “We could go out for dinner and a movie.”

“That sounds like fun,” she said. “I’ll have to check with my parents but I don’t think it will be a problem. Why don’t you call me tomorrow around noon to confirm?”

They spoke for a few more minutes and then rang off. Trixie still couldn’t figure out why Todd Roberts had called her. She wasn’t going to think about it. The attention was flattering.

With a much lighter heart, she finished her algebra and also completed her English assignment.


Saturday, March 7, 1987

The next morning, Trixie awoke early and had her chores done by ten o’clock. She wanted to talk to her parents about her date without an audience from Mart.

“Moms,” she started her explanation, “This guy named Todd Roberts called me last night. He’s the co-captain of the Croton-on-the-Hudson basketball team and he wanted to know if he could take me out tonight for dinner and a movie.”

Moms looked up, surprised. She knew that Trixie and Jim had broken up, but she figured they would have worked things out by now. Her intuition told her time and again, that pair would someday be celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

“You know the rule. Your father and I need to meet him before you go out with him,” Moms said.

Just then, Mart walked into the kitchen. “Who are you going out with?” he asked.

“None of your concern,” Trixie replied. She started to get up and leave.

“You might as well tell me. I’ll find out one way or another,” Mart warned. He reached into the refrigerator for an apple and began eating it.

Instinctively, Trixie knew that Mart would not be happy if he knew who she had a date with. “You’ll find out soon enough.”

Mart started to push some more, but Moms interfered. “Leave her alone, Mart.”

Trixie started to leave, when her mom continued, “Don’t go too far. I want to get the guest bedroom aired out and given a thorough cleaning. Hallie will be flying in next Friday and next week is going to be a busy one. That is unless you want Hallie to sleep in your bedroom, Trixie.”

Trixie and Hallie’s relationship had improved in the past few years, but they still could push each other’s buttons. The last few times Hallie had visited, she had stayed in the guest room. That gave both of the girls some personal space. Several nights they had both slept in Trixie’s room, but when they both needed a little space, they each had a place they could retreat to.

By the time the room was freshened up, it was time for lunch. Bobby and his dad had gone to White Plains to pick up some paint for the living room, so it was just Moms, Trixie, and Mart.

Mart came into the kitchen, sat down at the table to eat and opened the book Deep Six.

“Mart, you know the rules about reading at the table,” Moms scolded.

Mart finished what he was chewing and lamely said, “I’m just trying to distract myself so I don’t interrogate my sister about her date tonight.”

“Put the book away, Mart,” his mother warned. “And I don’t want you harassing your sister about her date either.”

Trixie ignored her brother as she ate the tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich her mother had made. She tried to get excited about her upcoming date but had mixed feelings. Sure, she was the one who had broken up with Jim, but she figured he would have at least tried to make up with her before he had gone back to school. She hadn’t heard one word from him. Of course, she hadn’t tried to contact him either. Her life sucked right now. First, Brian and Honey broke up and she tried to help fix it but no one seemed to appreciate her efforts. Then she ended up breaking up with Jim because she was trying to help. “Well to heck with them,” she thought. “I’m not going to worry about them. They don’t want my help so I’m not going to worry about them anymore and just do my own thing.”

After lunch, Mart went over to Diana’s for the afternoon. Lately, he had been spending more time there. Mostly it was because he wanted to spend as much time with his girlfriend as possible, but it was also so that he didn’t have to be around Trixie and her gloominess.

Trixie tried to occupy herself while she waited for Todd to call her back to confirm their date. She started working on a research paper she had to do for her English class. She was supposed to discuss a real person or fictional character that had influenced something about her life. She had been tempted to do the paper on Lucy Radcliffe but figured her teacher would probably just laugh at her. So she had decided on Eliot Ness. On Friday afternoon, she had spent some time in the library copying articles from several magazines. She had also found a well-written biography.

To Trixie’s surprise, she got so engrossed in her research that she didn’t realize how late it was until Mart came home. She looked up at the clock and gasped when she realized it was three and Todd still hadn’t called.

Mart poked his head into Trixie’s room and said. “You better get a move on if you have a date tonight. Diana and I are going out, and I don’t want to run out of hot water.”

“If you’re so worried about that, then you take the first shower,” Trixie snapped.

Mart was still miffed that Trixie hadn’t told him who her date was. “You probably don’t have a date,” he teased. “You just made it up so that you wouldn’t look pathetic sitting home all weekend by yourself.”

“Can I help it if Honey is in England for the next two weeks?” Trixie said. She started to put her books and papers back into her backpack.

“Like that makes a difference; you two have hardly spoken to each other since Christmas. I don’t know what’s wrong. I never thought I’d see the day when you two didn’t speak to one another.”

Trixie stopped in her tracks. She knew she needed to make the first step to mending her friendship with Honey. It had been hard enough when Brian had broken up with Honey. Then when she and Jim had their argument, Trixie just couldn’t face Honey. She just didn’t know what to say, so she avoided her. She knew Honey was confused by her behavior, and she’d done nothing to correct the misunderstanding.

“You just don’t understand,” Trixie said, tears welling in her eyes.

“I understand this much. Both of you let your boyfriends get in the way of your friendship,” Mart said gently. “And even though those boyfriends were also your brothers, you should have worked it out. No boyfriend is worth losing a friendship over.”

Trixie looked up at Mart. She was surprised to hear the advice he had given. “You’re right,” she said. “There’s not much I can do now, but when she comes home I’m going to try and work things out with her.”

Just then the phone rang. Trixie raced to pick it up before Mart did. She dreaded the moment when Mart found out who her date was. She just knew he would be livid.

Fortunately, Mart headed to his bedroom to get ready for his date as Trixie went to the phone.

“Hello, Belden residence, Trixie speaking,” she said into the receiver.

“Hey, babe. It’s Todd,” he responded.

Trixie flinched at the greeting. She thought babe was the most obnoxious name to be called, especially by someone she barely knew. Despite the offensive name, Trixie decided not to call him on it. “Hi, Todd,” she said shyly.

“So, did you talk to your parents? Are we on for tonight?” he asked.

“Yes,” Trixie replied. “My parents will be here tonight, so it isn’t a problem.”

“Okay, babe,” he said. “I’ll pick you up at six thirty. We’ll go to Wimpy’s for dinner and then to a movie. I thought we could go see Platoon. I like war movies.”

“That sounds good. It was just nominated for a bunch of Academy Awards and I haven’t seen it yet,” Trixie replied. Unlike many of her classmates, she liked action movies. Suddenly, a thought occurred to her. “We might have to pick a different movie. Isn’t that one rated R? Everyone in Sleepyside knows who I am and that I’m not seventeen. As Brian Belden’s younger sister, I’ll never get in.”

“No problem, sweet cheeks,” Todd said. “Why don’t we go to the movie theatre in White Plains? I know one of the ushers there. He’ll let in anyone.”

“Well, I suppose that’s okay,” she replied. In the back of her mind, she thought it was probably a good idea. The longer she postponed Mart finding out who her date was, the better, and if luck stayed with her, he wouldn’t find out tonight.

Then she suggested, “If we’re going to the movie in White Plains, maybe we should eat there as well. That way we won’t be so rushed to get to the movie.”

In the background, Trixie could hear voices. It sounded like whoever was there was giving Todd a hard time. They finished up the phone conversation, working out the final details of their date. Just as she was about to put the receiver back in the cradle she thought she heard someone say, “He shoots, he scores.” She thought it was kind of strange, but she forgot about it.

Mart was still in the shower when Trixie got off the phone. She went back into her room and opened her closet door. She wasn’t sure what she should wear tonight. She decided on a black pair of leggings, Reebok high top tennies, and a royal blue oversized sweater with a belt. It was an outfit that she loved and to make it even better, it didn’t need to be ironed.

When Mart was finished in the bathroom, Trixie jumped in the shower. She made an extra effort and put on some make-up. She even used hair spray and mousse to gain control of her curls. While she wasn’t a big fan of the big hair look, she did like that she didn’t have to work too hard to achieve the look.

Trixie was relieved that Mart had left before Todd had arrived. She didn’t want to appear too anxious for her date. After all, she wasn’t desperate – yet. Bobby and her dad had returned from White Plains while she was getting ready. She was sitting in the family room paging through a magazine when Bobby came barreling in.

“Hey,” he said. “How come you’re all dressed up?” He stopped and jumped from one foot to the next.

“I’ve got a date,” Trixie simply said.

“Jim is home this weekend? I didn’t know that!” Bobby said excitedly. “I can’t wait to show him my tongue twister book. This one is my favorite. Six slippery snails slid slowly seaward.”

Sadness briefly washed over Trixie’s face before she responded. “No, Jim’s not home as far as I know. I’m not sure if he’ll be coming home for Spring Break. You know Honey and her parents are visiting their relatives in England.”

“So, who you going out with? Dan, Mart and Di?” Bobby asked.

Trixie replied, “No, I’ve got a date with someone from Croton-on-the-Hudson. He’ll be here any minute and I don’t want you making a big fuss.”

Bobby ran off to play in his room. Trixie glanced at her watch and realized that Todd should have been here five minutes ago. She started to get nervous. What if he stood her up? Then she would really be embarrassed. She started to pace when she heard a car in the driveway. She looked to see where Reddy was. He was sleeping in front of the fireplace and didn’t move.

Trixie was at the door before Todd had the car parked. She greeted him with a smile. She had known who he was because the newspaper often printed pictures of him from basketball games. She didn’t realize how good-looking he was.

As he rounded the car, Trixie shyly said, “Hi, Todd. I hope you don’t mind having to come in to meet my parents.”

“Not at all,” Todd replied. “If they are anything like you, it will be a pleasure.”

Trixie turned to go into the house, but Todd gently stopped her. “I brought you this,” he said as he handed her a gift bag.

Never one to pass up a gift, Trixie quickly opened the bag and began to laugh. In it were three Cadbury eggs and three Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup eggs. “How did you know these were my favorites?” she asked.

“I took a chance. I know Easter isn’t for almost two months yet, but I couldn’t resist,” Todd said.

They walked into the house. Trixie put the sack on the countertop as she called out to her parents.

As Trixie and Todd entered the kitchen, her parents came in from the living room. After making the introductions, Todd assured Mr. and Mrs. Belden that he would have Trixie home in plenty of time to make her eleven thirty curfew.

Todd was the perfect gentleman the entire date. He opened the car door for Trixie and made sure she was safely seated and buckled up before he put the car in reverse. At the restaurant, he placed their orders.

Instead of seeing Platoon, they decided to see Lethal Weapon. Since the movie had just opened the day before, the theatre was packed. Todd treated Trixie with respect. He didn’t put any moves on Trixie. In fact, about the only time they touched was when both their hands ended up in the bag of popcorn at the same time.

When the movie was over, Todd took Trixie home with plenty of time before curfew. She was relieved to see that Mart wasn’t home when they got there. Todd walked Trixie to the door.

“I really had a nice time,” he said.

“Me, too,” she said shyly.

“Would you like to go out again next Saturday night? I’d ask you out for Friday but we have our first tournament game. Maybe you’d like to come and see me play?” Todd said.

“I’d like to see you play, Todd, but I have to help sell concessions at the Sleepyside game. It’s the Drama Club’s turn to run the stand. I promised Di I’d help out. They’re trying to raise money to go see Les Miserables on Broadway. Saturday would be great. Spring Break begins that weekend and my cousin Hallie will be in town, but that won’t be a problem. She’ll probably be out with Dan.”

“That sounds good. I’ll call you later in the week.” Todd leaned down and very chastely placed a kiss on Trixie’s cheek before he left. She stood by the door watching him as he went back to his car. As she turned to go inside, she noticed Mart pulling into the driveway. She hoped that he didn’t recognize Todd.

Trixie took her coat off and hung it up. She then headed upstairs to tell her parents she was home. She was just heading into her bedroom when Mart barreled up the stairs.

“Is that who I think it was coming out of the driveway?” Mart demanded.

Trixie, trying to be nonchalant, replied, “I don’t know. Who do you think it was?”

“It looked like Todd Roberts,” Mart said through his teeth.

“Well, I guess you were right then,” she replied as she pushed past him toward her bedroom.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Mart exclaimed blocking her way. “You do know who he is, don’t you?”

“He’s a nice guy who happened to want to take me on a date,” Trixie calmly replied.

Mart stood with his hands on his hips, anger seeping through his pores. “He is not a nice guy. He’s the captain of the Croton-on-the-Hudson basketball team and the biggest womanizer this side of the Mississippi River. Even at Sleepyside High he’s known as ‘The Octopus’ and it’s not for his basketball prowess.”

Trixie’s anger started to match Mart’s. “Todd Roberts was a complete gentleman tonight. He held open the door for me, was considerate, the only time we touched in the theatre was when our hands met in the popcorn bucket. You must have the wrong person.”

Both of them turned when they heard Moms whisper, “What’s going on out there? If you wake Bobby, you will be in big trouble.”

Trixie looked Mart directly in the eye and whispered angrily, “Todd asked me out again for Saturday night and I accepted. I don’t want to hear anything more about it.” She brushed passed him and marched into her bedroom.

Mart slowly turned and went to his room shaking his head.


All week long Mart bugged Trixie about her date with Todd. Just about every time he saw her, he had one more reason why she shouldn’t date him. Trixie was surprised because it appeared that he hadn’t shared this information with Dan or Diana.

On Friday, the two of them were headed into Sleepyside for the basketball game. One more time Mart started in on Trixie. She exploded, “I’ve had enough of this. I don’t know where you get off telling me who I can and can’t see. Todd Roberts has been nothing but a gentleman to me. Is it just because I’m not dating Jim? Well, let me tell you, Jim doesn’t want to date me. If he did, I’d have heard from him since the semester started.”

For once, Mart kept his mouth shut and didn’t say another word for the rest of the ride. Trixie, not able to stay mad too long, wished Mart luck as they got out of the car. He headed to the locker room and she headed to the concession stand.

Trixie walked into the cafeteria where the concessions were sold, mumbling under her breath. She wasn’t paying attention to where she was going and ran right into Diana.

“Earth to Trixie,” she said. “What’s got you tied up in knots?”

“What hasn’t?” Trixie replied. Trixie suddenly felt like everything in her life was falling apart and had a sudden urge to cry. She fought hard not to let the tears fall down her cheeks but in the end, one slipped out.

“Come on, Trixie. I know I’m not Honey, but you know you can tell me anything,” Di encouraged. She led Trixie over to a corner where they could talk privately.

Trixie took a few minutes to collect her thoughts. When she started to talk, it was like the floodgates burst. She started telling about how confused she was when Honey and Brian broke up and the ensuing fight that she and Jim had when she tried to interfere. She told about how she and Honey couldn’t talk like they used to and how that bothered her. She paused for a few minutes trying to decide how much more she should tell Diana.

“What else is there to tell, Trixie?” Diana prodded. “You haven’t told me anything new. Something else happened.”

Trixie took another deep breath and finished the story, telling her about her date with Todd Roberts last weekend as well as the one for tomorrow night.

Diana took in a sharp breath. “Isn’t he the captain of Croton-on-the-Hudson’s basketball team?” she asked.

“Yes,” Trixie replied slowly. “Mart seems to think Todd is using me, but he’s been nothing but a perfect gentleman. He makes me feel good about myself, which is something I haven’t felt since Jim and I broke up.”

Diana hesitated, trying to decide what to say. Finally, she said, “You’re free to date whomever you want. Just remember Mart is only concerned about you. If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t have said anything.”

“I just wish he would drop it and let me make my own decisions,” Trixie replied. She wiped her eyes one last time and started toward the concession area. “Come on, we’d better get to work if we want to be ready.” She walked a few steps, then turned and gave Diana a quick hug. “Thanks for caring.”

The two girls worked the concession stand for the first half of the game. After halftime, the concession stand closed and the girls watched the end of the game. It wasn’t even close.

For most of the third quarter, Dan and Mart sat on the bench. The coach wanted to rest them and give the upcoming players some tournament experience. During the fourth quarter, the coach had put the starters back in and they ran out the clock without running up the score. They didn’t want to get cocky and let the game get away from them either.

After the game, Trixie and Diana waited in the gym for Mart and Dan. Mart was the first one back. Trixie was relieved that Mart had decided to drop the subject of Todd for now.

“Dan’s coming,” he said placing an arm around Diana’s shoulders. “He’s just taking longer to get ready. I’m not sure why he’s being so particular.”

“I heard that,” Dan said as he came out of the locker room. “If I sported a goofy haircut like you do, I’d be out of here quicker as well.” He walked up to the other three, pulling on his jacket.

“My point exactly,” Mart replied. “Not only does my stylish haircut keep the curls under control, it is much easier to maintain.” He started to remove his arm from around Diana to put on his coat. His sleeve caught on the lobster claw clasp of her necklace.

Diana winced as the necklace tugged at her neck. “Stop, Mart,” she said. “You’re caught on my necklace.” Neither one of them could work the clasp free.

Finally, Trixie volunteered to try and was able to free the two. “There,” she teased. “I was worried that Diana might have to be attached to you forever.” She laughed for the first time in a week and it felt good not to be at odds with Mart.

“Let’s get going,” Dan said. “I’m beat.”

Trixie jokingly swatted at Dan. “You’re not fooling anyone,” she said. “You just want to get back to Crabapple Farm and see if Hallie is there yet.”

Dan blushed to his ears.

The four friends headed out of the high school, joking and laughing.


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