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Chapter 5

Trixie managed to get ready in record time. She was dressed in the same outfit she wore when Jim had surprised her with a romantic bareback ride in the preserve on Lady, during his version of the twelve days of Christmas. She stood looking one last time in the mirror, wondering if she should put on additional make-up, sweep up her hair, or wear flashy jewelry. "Shamus, you look absolutely lovely...don't dress up just to impress me." It was if Jim was whispering in her ear. "Just be myself. That's who he fell in love with."

Putting another swipe of light pink gloss on her lips, Trixie left Honey's room, carrying the dark blue wool cape Jim had given her the night of their ride. As she dashed down the stairs, Miss Trask caught sight of her skipping down the final few stairs. "Trixie, you look stunning. Regan is ready for you and I believe Nick is getting a cup of coffee and will meet us in the stable." First he's getting his secret assignment from Maddie but I don't know a thing; safer that way, she thought to herself.

"Miss Trask, I know this is silly but would you mind waiting here with Sherlock? I'm feeling ridiculous and self-conscious. I know it makes no sense but I'd be more relaxed if it was as few people as possible. Do you mind?" Trixie hadn't taken a breath, wanting to get the request out as quickly as possible. Now she looked up at Miss Trask with anxiety in her blue eyes.

"As it happens, I have several letters to answer and Sherlock was just telling me she wanted to talk with me about my new bowling league. We have much to discuss. You go, remember to have fun. The pictures will be lovely." Miss Trask patted Trixie's cheek lovingly.

Taking several deep breaths, and smiling deeply so it shone in her eyes, Trixie said, "Thank you for understanding. I can't wait for Sherlock to tell me all about your league." Trixie gave a brief scratch behind the puppy's ears, put the cape around her shoulders, then opened the front door and walked around to the stables.

Regan had Lady groomed and ready to go. She was standing patiently, tied to the hitching post outside. Jupiter and Strawberry were saddled and also tethered, waiting to be off on their morning adventure. Trixie walked into the silent barn, glad to have on the warm cape. The morning air was quite chilly; she could see her breath in the air. She loved the stillness of the barn with the soft morning light coming in the open barn doors. This was one of her favorite places in the world. It would always be home.

Trixie was so engrossed in the moment that she didn't notice Nick with his camera, silently taking photos of a completely relaxed Trixie. He framed a photo of her as she greeted Susie. "Hi, Susie, girl. Sorry I'm going off without you again. I promise not to make a habit out of this." Trixie was reaching up to stroke her favorite mare, there was a sweet smile on her face, and the light was shining on her bouncy blonde curls. Trixie placed her cheek on Susie's muzzle, closing her eyes and enjoying the moment.

Nick was able to snap a dozen photos of an unsuspecting and tranquil Trixie. He hoped they were the type of pictures Mrs. Wheeler had requested. He walked all the way into the barn, slurping the coffee he had picked up from the retaining wall where he'd placed it to take the photos. He knew full well he was lucky to have caught a distracted Trixie. Had she not been relaxed and comfortable, she would have sensed he was there, and he'd never had gotten the pictures. But, he believed in fate and the gods were clearly smiling on him today. "Morning, Trixie, ready to go?" he asked nonchalantly.

"I am as ready as I'll ever be, I guess." Trixie looked around for Regan, wondering where he was. "Regan said he was going to go with us, but…"

"Here I am." The tall groom came in from the back door of the stable, coming from the kitchen carrying a red thermos and a blue thermos. "Thought we might need something to keep us warm. Ready?"

After putting the thermoses in the saddle bags and securing the equipment that Nick thought he would need, Regan helped Trixie mount Lady and they were off through the preserve to the old schoolhouse. Luckily Nick knew how to ride, and although he wasn't as accomplished as either Trixie or Regan, he was able to keep up.

They got to the old schoolhouse and Nick took in the surroundings, trying to compose the best shot in his mind. Regan was going to help Trixie down when she stopped him, "Let me just stay here a sec. My knees are knocking so badly, I'm surprised Lady's not taking off thinking I want her to canter." Trixie slipped from Lady's back and tied her to the mounting hitch next to Jupiter.

Regan reached in Jupiter's saddle bag and got a thermos; he pulled the red lid off and then twisted the cap off. He poured the steaming liquid into the lid and handed it to Trixie. "Here, drink this, it'll warm you up and hopefully calm you down a little bit." At least it should with what I added, he thought silently.

Trixie took the cup and took a sip of the hot beverage. "Mmmm, mocha? Yummy," she said as she continued to unknowingly sip the laced coffee.

He knew it was a bit dastardly but he also knew Trixie was going to over think this venture and a little liquid courage would smooth the edges. He'd make sure she didn't have too much. It was eight in the morning for heaven's sake. But as they say, it's five o'clock somewhere. Regan refilled Trixie's cup. He'd never endanger Lady or Trixie, so he was making sure to watch her reactions.

She got up to pace around the small clearing. Her steps were steady. That's good; she should still be able to ride safely. However, as she looked up to the peak on the roof where the school bell hung, she started to giggle. Check, just a little silly. "What's funny, Trix?"

"I was just thinking about the night Brian, Jim and I got snowed in here. Jim and Brian went to find wood and we used the rope from the bell to tie them together for safety. The rope broke and I wound up climbing the ladder and ringing the bell by hand so Jim could find his way back." Trixie took the last sip of her coffee and giggled again at her memory. "I never told anyone about the bird's nest that fell all over me the first time I swung the clapper. I was covered with bits of twig, straw, and feathers. It really was gross." Trixie shook her curls and let out a throaty laugh, remembering her youthful adventure. She handed Regan the now empty lid for the thermos.

Nick was walking over to join the pair when he heard Trixie's laughter. He quickly grabbed his camera and snapped several pictures of Trixie with her head thrown back in laughter. Her curls were shining in the early morning light. He zoomed in for a close-up of her face. Her eyes were sparkling, her cheeks were flushed and her full lips were parted in a gleeful smile. She is always changing. I'm going to have to stay on my toes for this shoot. "Trixie, are you ready?" he called out. "I'd like to take a few shots of you, the horse and the schoolhouse in the background."

He motioned for Regan to leave the shot and started taking pictures. Trixie was tense at first but relaxed as Nick peppered her with questions. She was distracted by the unexpected inquiries. She answered questions about Sherlock, her job, the Bob-Whites, a dozen different topics. Whenever Nick wanted a different look, he'd ask different questions. "Regan would you help Trixie mount the horse? Thanks." As the redheaded groom approached, Nick continued to take photos. You never know what's going to work, he thought to himself, waiting. He knew the shot was coming. There it was; a picture of the back of Regan. Sorry, dude, just needed the red hair in the picture, while helping Trixie settle on the now jittery Lady.

After snapping several more shots around the schoolhouse, he asked about the ride Trixie and Jim had taken the night of their date. "Did you just ride through the preserve? No riding through the big pasture?"

"Well, we rode through the pasture on the way home. Why do you ask?" Trixie answered Nick as she adjusted the cape to lay flat against Lady's flank.

Nick gave Trixie a big smile and said, "Trust me, OK? I know what we need to do. Can you give me twenty more minutes?"

"You're the professional, Nick. What do you want me to do?" Trixie asked.

Nick walked over to where Strawberry had been tied, away from the schoolhouse. He looped the camera over his head, secured it across his body and easily mounted the horse. Turning Strawberry back toward the Manor House he said, "Give me ten minutes to get to the pasture. Then I want you to ride across as you normally would. I want to catch the movement. Be prepared for me to ask you to do it a couple of times, OK?" Nick didn't wait for an answer; he just tapped Strawberry in the sides with his heels and took off at a trot.

Regan walked over and grabbed Lady's bridle to hold the antsy horse still, giving Trixie a break. "How are you doing? Want some more coffee?" Regan looped the reins on the mounting hitch and reached into the saddle bags where he had put the thermos and once again pulled out the laced coffee, pouring a cup for Trixie.

"I am a little chilly. Coffee would be nice," Trixie said, taking the lid and sipping. After a few moments of silence, she looked down at Regan. "So, what did you think of the new vet? Dr. Riley? She seemed…knowledgeable." Trixie had started giggling again. She couldn't help baiting her long-time friend.

"She's fine. Drink up, Trix, you look chilly." Regan unknowingly took the bait. He'd had a follow-up email from the new vet. 'I'd like a chance to sit down with you and Mr. Wheeler to discuss your current operation and where you would like help with development.' Like I need help with development! He'd been around professional horse racing and breeding his entire adult life. What did some blue-eyed, blonde vet know that he didn't know?

"Has it been...?" Hiccup "Oh, excuse me. Has it been ten minutes?" Trixie asked, handing Regan back the empty coffee cup.

Regan looked at his watch and then back up at Trixie, making sure she was still okay to ride. "Still feel good, Trixie?"

"I feel fine!" Trixie threw her arms out wide to her side, like she was on the bow of the Titanic. "I'm Queen of the Schoolhouse!" she announced, snickering to herself. "Can you untie Lady? I'm ready to get this show on the road."

Regan unwrapped the reins and handed them to Trixie. Still holding onto the bridle, he said, "If you're sure you feel okay, I'll ride around and head to the top of the pasture so I'm not in the pictures. Take it easy, don't rush. Nick said he wanted photos of you in the pasture, so just meander through the preserve until you get there."

"OK! I got it, walk until we get to the pasture."

Regan untied Jupiter and swung into the saddle. "Be careful." Lord, Jim will kill me if she hurts herself. That is if Peter leaves anything for Jim to pick at. He started out of the clearing.

"Hey, Regan!" Trixie shouted after him, causing him to stop. "Why don't you call that cute vet and see if she wants to come over for coffee? You make some really good coffee." Trixie picked up the reins, clicked at Lady and walked out of the clearing.

As he watched Trixie leaving, he was proud of what a horsewoman she turned out to be and also perturbed that she was needling him about the vet. "Come on, Jupe, let's get a move on. We need to make it to the top of the pasture so we can keep an eye on things. I want to make sure I didn't do anything too stupid." Regan tapped Jupiter in the sides and set off at a trot through the preserve.

Nick had made his way back to the pasture. He dismounted Strawberry and tied the horse to the upper fence. Nick unslung the camera and scoped out the pasture. He found a position that would put him uphill from the path exiting the preserve. If he was right, Trixie should exit the preserve and head uphill, across the snow-covered pasture, the sunlight should just catch her…it would be magic. Nick held his breath, waiting for horse and rider to emerge.

Then, there she was. Trixie came cantering out of the preserve and moved quickly into a gallop. Her blue wool cape caught the wind and billowed out behind her. She was sitting straight up, in total control of the horse. She reminded Nick of a female centaur. There were female centaurs in Fantasia, right? She rose and fell with the movements of the horse's powerful strides. Trixie was grinning broadly as she galloped across the pasture towards Nick.

She was laughing as she remembered the fun she and Jim had that night back in January. Trixie was having so much fun, she really was unaware of the man holding a camera. She swung around the pasture as Nick continued to take photos. She pulled Lady to a stop in front of him. "Well, Nick, what do you think? Do you have 'the photo' yet?" Trixie asked, a bit out of breath but still smiling as if she was having a wonderful time.

"Absolutely, Trix, absolutely!" Nick replied. He had it, he saw it as she was coming across the pasture: light, movement and subject had all combined to make magic. At least Nick felt he'd caught magic. He'd have to wait until he could load the photos. "Let's head back to the stables and I'll help Regan get the horses settled."

"We'll all help, Nick. If we ride, we clean. That's a hard and fast rule in Regan's world," Trixie said, remembering all the rides they'd taken as teenagers and the fun of taking care of the horses afterward. "Race you back!"

Regan watched as the two friends raced through the pasture towards the stable. He turned Jupiter in the direction of the stable, knowing that the photo shoot was obviously over. He had unsaddled Jupe and put him in his stall when Trix and Nick came laughing into the stable. "So I take it the photographs are finished?" Regan asked Nick as the groom walked over to help Trixie dismount.

"Yup, all done." Trixie jumped down from Lady before Regan could move to assist her. She led Lady towards her stall. She grabbed Lady's halter from the hook and unbuckled the throat latch of the bridle. Trixie put the halter over Lady's neck and waited for her to release the bit. When the bridle was completely removed, Trixie fixed the halter on Lady and prepared to finish up her post-riding chores.

As he was still mounted, Nick watched her and couldn't resist taking more photos as Trixie did such a basic thing as clean up after a ride. His height advantage was leading to some interesting angles for photos. The juxtaposition of a fancy dressed woman grooming a horse was worth exploring.

"OK, Ansel Adams, off the horse," Regan teased, grabbing Strawberry's halter from the hook by his stall. After Nick dismounted, Regan took Strawberry and started the grooming process.

As much as Nick had intended to help, he found himself continuing to take photos as Trixie and Regan joked back and forth while grooming the horses. Trixie had finished rubbing Lady down with the towel and was completing the job by brushing the hair flat. Trixie picked up another towel and was wiping Lady's face clean, paying special attention to her mouth and poll where the bridle had rubbed during their ride.

"Regan, I don't see a hoof pick in the tack box. I need one to clean out Lady's hooves." Trixie thought about needling the groom more about an unprepared tack box.

"I can just see you trying to clean out her hooves in that skirt." Regan grinned broadly, finishing up with Strawberry and putting him into his stall. He walked over to Lady and gestured for Trixie to move out of the way. He proceeded to lift the horse's hoof and clean it, checking for any areas of concern. "Trixie, do you mind unpacking the saddle bags I had on Jupiter?"

"No problem." Trixie walked over the bench where Regan had placed the saddlebags and started to unpack the items he had taken with them to the school. She laughed at the snake bite kit which was standard equipment for them to take on rides. She unpacked the two thermoses of coffee, a bottle of water, a length of rope, a space blanket, and a package of MREs. "Regan, were you worried we were going to get snowed in today?" Trixie asked holding up the space blanket.

"I've spent enough time in your presence to know it pays to be prepared, Trixie Belden. Just put the stuff on my desk and I'll put it all away." Regan was finishing up on Lady's left side and was moving around to her right when Trixie came back from his office, empty handed. He didn't see her open up the thermos of coffee and pour more into the lid.

Trixie had taken several deep sips, before she said, "Can I offer anyone some coffee?" Not getting an answer, she refilled her cup. Trixie sat down on the stool in the corner and propped up her Ugg-covered feet. She was daydreaming as she finished her coffee, watching Regan complete and finish off the grooming.

Regan looked over, after turning Lady into her stall, to find Trixie slumped on the stool in the corner. She was blowing the curl that fell over her forehead, staring cross-eyed at it, as if she were mesmerized by the hair. Every now and then, she would rub a finger across her nose, like she was scratching an itch. "Um, Trixie, how you doing? How much coffee did you have?"

"Ohhhh, I finished it. It was yummmy!" She was stretching out and now slightly slurring her words. "Hey! My tongue is numb!" Trixie tried to stand but wound up tripping over her feet and landing unceremoniously in a heap in the straw pile.

It was a very unladylike plop but she did manage to land face up with her skirt down. Nick couldn't resist one final photo of Trixie plopped in the middle of the pile of fresh straw. "Ah, Regan, I'm going to go now. Do you need me to do anything to help or do you have this under control?"

"Thanks Nick. I got myself into this, I'll get myself out. Who would have thought Trixie would drink the entire thermos of laced coffee? I only wanted to loosen her up. What is it they say about the best laid plans?" Regan asked rhetorically. "Hope the photos turn out, Nick."

"Bye, Trixie, I'll see you Saturday, OK?" Nick asked towards the blue-eyed blonde who was trying to extricate herself from the straw but was caught up in her cape.

"Bye, Nicky, see you Saturday." Trixie waved at him, sitting back down, giving up trying to get out of the straw on her own. "Regan, help! I can't get up; your straw has me trapped." She held her arms up waiting for the groom assistance.

Nick was chuckling to himself as he walked out of the stable and got into his car to head back to his studio. He had a lot to do before Saturday.
Regan hauled Trixie up and untwisted her cape. He unhooked it and shook it out before handing it back to her. He knew he needed to confess what he had done but wasn't sure how to go about it. Well, grab the bull by its horns, I guess. "Say, Trixie, what are your plans for the rest of the day?" That's not too bad, maybe she'll say she's working from home and I don't have to worry about it, Regan thought hopefully.

"Well-l-l, first," Trixie started to tally things on her fingers. "I've got to get changed. I can't wear this to the doctor's." She swept her hands down her dressy, straw-covered outfit. Trixie held up three fingers, "Second, I have a doctor's appointment. Then after that," she muttered and held up two fingers. "I'm going to meet Coop to discuss our case."

"Trixie, have a seat. I don't know how to tell you this but that coffee you've been drinking was laced. Sweetie, you're drunk. You can't go anywhere," Regan confessed, helping Trixie to sit on the stool. "Can you cancel your doctor's appointment and go upstairs and get some sleep instead?"

"Nooooo, it took me forever to get this appointment. I NEED to keep it," Trixie said adamantly and was nodding her head so her curls were dancing on her forehead and there were tears in her eyes.

"OK, then, I'll drive you to your appointment. I bet if you take a shower before you go and have some plain coffee, you should be OK for the office visit," Regan said thinking aloud. "What time's the appointment and where do you have to go?"

"It's in White Plains and my appointment is at eleven. I HAVE to make this appointment, Regan. It's REALLY important." Trixie started to blush as she was explaining and Regan helped her back to the house. I knew that coffee was too yummy, Trixie thought to herself.

They were heading up onto the porch when it occurred to him that he hadn't asked a key question. "Trixie, please tell me it's your eye doctor."

"Nooope!" Trixie had begun to realize what this now meant.

"Dentist?" Regan knew she wasn't that embarrassed about getting her teeth cleaned.

"Nooope!" Trixie was completely red with embarrassment.

"Podiatrist?" Regan was practically begging. He knew what was coming but he didn't want to know.

"Nooope!" Trixie said in a whisper. "I'm going to the lady doctor." Trixie had sobered rapidly, once she realized what was happening. However, she knew she was too impaired to drive and would have to let Regan take her to White Plains.

"Heaven help me. OK, Trixie, you go upstairs and get changed. I'll meet you in the garage in a half hour and we'll leave for White Plains." He turned and walked off the porch, muttering to himself. "It'll help her relax. No one will get hurt. What can happen? Heaven help me!"

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Forty-five minutes later Trixie was slumped down in the passenger seat of Regan's dark metallic blue Silverado truck with her sunglasses on, leaning her head against the window. She had a slight headache but other than feeling a little sleepy, she really was okay. "Explain to me again how I managed to get drunk at eight in the morning?"

"Well," Regan began, gripping and ungripping the steering wheel in his discomfort. "I was thinking that you tend to be very self-critical, Trixie, and I wanted you to just relax and let your natural beauty shine through. So I added a little Kahlua to the coffee. It wasn't the best idea I've ever had but you have to admit, you were relaxed."

Trixie turned her head towards Regan, pulling her sunglasses down and looking at him over the top of the lenses. "'Not the best idea.' That's putting it mildly, don't you think?" A thought occurred to her and Trixie sat straight up. "Oh my goodness, Regan, Nick got the whole thing on film!"

Regan tried to reassure her, "I wouldn't worry too much. You were fine until we got back to the stable, when you finished off the coffee."

"Seriously, you're not lying to me?" Trixie's self consciousness came back, full force.

"With the slight exception of your plopping in the straw, you were your regular charming self. And if you think about it, falling into straw is a pretty 'Trixie' thing to do," Regan teased. "Heaven knows you've done it before."

"Thanks, Regan, you sure know how to make a girl feel good," Trixie said sarcastically. Deciding she needed a bit of revenge she said, "The office for my doctor is the next complex on the right." She pointed out the next turn and smiled as Regan noticeably cringed.

Regan pulled the heavy duty truck up to the entrance of the professional building. "So, Trixie, I'm going to go hang out somewhere, find a donut shop or something. You've got my cell phone number and you can call me when you're done, or ready, or whatever."

"Sure you don't want to come up and wait inside?" Trixie giggled as she got out of the truck. "Thanks for driving me, Regan, and thanks for thinking about me."

"Never thought I'd say this to you but sorry for getting you drunk, Trix." Regan smiled wanly.

Trixie gave her friend a brilliant smile. "I was over thinking things. You were right. I'll call when I'm all done." She shut the door to the truck and walked into the building
.

Checking the directory, she found the suite for Dr. Charlotte Kisthardt. Trixie took the elevator up to the fourth floor and walked into the spacious waiting area. After filling out the required new patient forms, she sat down to wait to be called. Boredom quickly set in. Trixie had never been one to sit still for long. She tried to wait patiently but finally gave in and called work. Cooper didn't pick up, so she left a message, telling him she was going to take the whole day on sick leave after all. After that, she checked her email from her phone.

Logging on she saw she had an email from Honey and another one from Jim. She decided to open Honey's email first and save Jim's for later. Better to remain calm before her visit.

Hey, Trixie! How are you today? You had your secret photo shoot this morning, right? Well, I hope it went well. I know the pictures are going to be perfectly perfect. I can't believe Nick Roberts, artist, is now Nick Roberts, graphic artist. I can't wait to see the pictures! Is he going to give you a CD so you can send me some? hint, hint?
J

I am so ready to be done. I know law school is going to pay off in the long run for the BWDA as well as helping Jim's school. BUT, this Advocacy class is a PITA. Oh well, just a few more months and then the bar exams. Holp!

Well, I'm going to run. We need an old fashioned chat soon.

Hugs, Honey


Trixie sent a quick text message reply: H, got your email. Photos went well. More to the story. U will love. I'll call later. Be good. XOXO, T.

Moments later a nurse called out, "Beatrix? Beatrix Belden?"

"That's me. Please call me Trixie." She followed the nurse down the hallway and took a seat in a pale-colored exam room. After completing the required doctor's office standards: blood pressure, pulse, and weight, the nurse said, "The doctor will be in in a minute."

Trixie sat on the edge of the exam table, waiting patiently, looking at the reproduction watercolor pictures on the wall. A few minutes later there was a knock on the door and a short, curvy woman with straight brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, walked into the office. "Hi, I'm Dr. Charlotte Kisthardt." She shook hands and continued, "But you can call me Charlie."

"Nice to meet you, Charlie. I'm Trixie."

"Nice to meet you, too. New patients are always welcome. So, Trixie, what brings you to the office today?" the doctor asked as she sat down and opened Trixie's empty chart.

"Well, I'm recently moved back to New York and thought I should find a regular doctor. I saw my family doctor in Sleepyside before I went away but I would rather have a GP for general issues and also have an OB/GYN. Does that make sense?" Trixie explained.

"Perfect. Let me get some information then." The middle aged doctor asked Trixie the basic medical questions and made notations in the chart. "What is your current method of birth control?"

Trixie blushed slightly and took a deep breath. "Actually, that's the main reason for my visit. My current method is abstinence. But I don't know how long I'm going to last with that method. My boyfriend and I aren't…well, we haven't…"

"I think I understand. You're not sexually active, yet, but as a consenting adult, you think it is best to be prepared. Is that about right?" Charlie raised her eyebrows as she looked up from the chart and her notes.

"Yes. We haven't had sex yet but, Charlie, I don't know how much longer we can wait, you know?" Trixie huffed out a breath, fluffing her bangs.

"Understandable. Let's take care of the uncomfortable portion of this visit if you're ready." Charlie reached into the drawer of the table and pulled out a hospital gown and sheet. "You know what to do with this. Opening in front and I'll be back in a few. I'll knock first. OK?"

"OK, let's saddle up,"

"Saddle up?" Charlie asked quizzically.

"You know, stirrups, saddle up. Sorry, it's what my girlfriends and I call our trip to the lady doctor." Trixie explained.

"I love it! Saddle up, that's one I hadn't heard." Charlie left the room laughing quietly.

Trixie quickly changed in the hospital gown, folding her clothes and putting them on the chair. She sat, slightly uncomfortable, at the end of the table and waited for the doctor to knock on the door. When she heard the tapping she said, "Come in."

The doctor explained everything they would be doing during the exam. She prepared the instruments she would need and the medical supplies on the small table. Charlie referred to Trixie's file one last time before beginning the exam. "You live in Sleepyside?"

Trixie was caught off guard by the question as the doctor patted the table, gesturing for Trixie to lie back. "Yes, I've lived there all my life, except for college and a few years afterward. Why do you ask?"

As the exam continued, Charlie explained her inquiry about Trixie's hometown. "Well, a month ago I was meeting a friend at the movies; we were seeing the monthly oldies movie at the Cameo. I parked, put my money in the meter and went into the movie. Afterward, I came out and I see this man standing by my car. At first, I was worried and thought it might have been a suspicious character. Then I noticed it was a police officer and he was writing me a ticket."

"Sleepyside's finest; it's how we make all our road improvement monies. The people at the special movie night and their expired meter tickets," Trixie joked. "The police academy graduates love writing parking tickets."

"That's the kicker," the doctor continued. "You might feel a small pinch. The meter wasn't expired and it wasn't a rookie. It was the Police Chief. Can you believe that? Chief Molinari, I think?"

"Molinson, Wendell Molinson. He's the police chief." Trixie really wanted to laugh but couldn't risk it. "Chief Molinson was writing tickets?"

"It gets weirder," the doctor looked up at Trixie. "He had to borrow a ticket book from one of the other officers. I saw him hand it back to him. AND even more bizarre, my meter wasn't even expired. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that until after he had left. One more swab and we're done."

"So, let me see if I understand this. You were parked legally on an unexpired meter. Yet the Chief borrowed a ticket book, wrote you a ticket and got all your information?" Trixie sat up as the doctor told her to. "I suspect that Wendell Molinson wanted to meet you. He's been a widower for about five years. Now that we've gotten past my harum-scarum teenaged years, we get along pretty well."

"I sense there is more to this story," Charlie said, taking off her gloves and washing her hands. "I'll take these samples to the lab, let you get dressed and we'll finish up in my office. When you're ready, it's the last door on the left. I'll meet you there." Dr. Kisthardt walked out of the office carrying the samples and closed the door behind her.

Trixie quickly got dressed. After visiting the restroom, she went down the hallway and found Charlie sitting behind her desk using the computer. "Come on in. I was just updating your file. So first things first, everything looks great. All the right plumbing in all the right places." Charlie smiled at Trixie. "We should have your test results back in about ten days and will call if there is anything abnormal. If you don't hear from us, it's good news. You are, of course, welcome to call and get all your results from the nurse on duty if you'd like."

"I like the no news is good news method. It's simpler." Trixie sat back, relaxing.

"We'll get you a prescription for birth control pills. I prefer them, they're been tested for years, no added hormones or injections and when you want to decide you want to consider a family, you just stop taking them. No reversal procedures. Does that sound good for you?" The doctor was writing on a prescription pad. "So, tell me about Wendell. Sounds like you know him well and now you have me wondering how you know him? Spend much time with the police growing up?"

"Actually, yes. My friends and I got in a few scrapes growing up; trouble always seemed to find us. More than once Sergeant Molinson, well, Chief now, saved our hides. In fact, one of my friends, Dan, is a sergeant on the Sleepyside police force and I went into the FBI," Trixie admitted.

"Seriously?" Charlie was leaning on the desk, amazed with this news. "So, he's a widower?"

"Yes. I heard he'd been dating quietly for about a year. Do you want me to ask Dan what he knows?" Trixie grinned.

"Sounds so high school. Do you think he was interested in me?" Charlie asked.

"The facts stand for themselves. He went out of his way to meet you and get your information, and more importantly, give you his, so I'd say yes, I think he is interested. I'd call him if I were you. Blame it on the ticket and ask to discuss it over coffee at Wimpy's. They make the best strawberry shakes, by the way." Trixie encouraged her new doctor.

"Trixie, you've given me a lot to think about. Here's your prescription. It's written for a year's supply, so I don't need to see you again until next year. Unless, that is, I see you around Sleepyside first," Charlie said, handing the piece of paper to Trixie. "It takes a week to start being effective but best to use additional protection for the first month to be sure."

"Charlie, it was very nice meeting you. I hope you do call Chief Molinson, he's a good guy." Trixie shook hands with the doctor. As she waited to check out with the nurse, she called Regan's cell phone. "I'm done. Meet you downstairs? Yup, five minutes? OK." Trixie took care of the co-payment and went downstairs to meet Regan.

She climbed into the truck and shut the door. "Have a nice time? Did you have coffee?" she asked sarcastically.

Regan was caught off guard and started coughing. Luckily he hadn't pulled out of the driveway yet. He took a few deep breaths. "Again, I'm sorry, Trixie. How many times do I need to say it?"

"We're good; I just couldn't resist teasing you. Let's head back to Sleepyside," Trixie said.

"I thought you were going into work this afternoon?" Regan asked.

"Originally I was, but somehow I became too impaired to drive and now my vehicle is in Sleepyside, while I'm four minutes from work. So, I'd have to go back to Sleepyside and then drive all the way back here, wasting another hour of my day. And, as I have a raging headache, I took the afternoon off, too. Well, at least I did when I made the call." Trixie leaned back and put her sunglasses on. "I am however, exhausted, so let's just go home."

"Sounds like a plan. Why don't you take a nap on the way back?" Regan suggested.

"I think that's a good idea. Before we leave White Plains, do you mind if we make a quick stop?" Trixie asked, yawning. "I would like to drop off my prescription and pick it up tomorrow after work."

Regan looked over at the wilting blonde, who was almost asleep already. "Of course, we can. Is there a drug store near your building?"

"Yeah, it's right across the street. They've got one of those old-fashioned lunch counters in the back. Cooper and I eat there at once or twice a week, or at least carry out. They have great chicken noodle soup." Trixie still had the prescription clutched in her hand but her eyes were closed and she was rapidly drifting off to sleep.

Regan quickly found the little drug store and pulled into a parking place. He was about to wake Trixie up when he decided he'd let her sleep. He reached across and took the prescription. He walked into the drug store and found the prescription drop.

The druggist came over. "How can I help you, sir?"

"I'd like to drop this prescription off for pick up tomorrow," Regan said, handing the paper to the white-coated man.

"OK, have you had prescriptions filled here before?" The druggist looked down at the prescription. "Oh, you're dropping off for your wife?"

"No, I'm not married. Why?" Regan asked, clueless.

The druggist looked up at the redhead. "Sir, I don't think the birth control is yours."

"Ugh. Don't tell me anymore. It's for a friend, a platonic friend. Her name is Trixie, um Beatrix Belden," Regan quickly explained.

"Ah, Agent Belden, we know her well. She's a wonderful customer; she's in here all the time. I'll take care of this for her. Tell her it'll be ready tomorrow." The druggist took the prescription and walked away, unfazed.

Regan stood at the counter for a moment, digesting what he now knew. I never needed to know that information, never. He raked his left hand through his hair and shook his head slowly from side to side in disbelief. "What a day!"

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AUTHOR'S NOTES

We are thankful for our editors, BonnieH, Donnis, Mylee, Pam (ps9906) and WendyM. Any mistakes including typos or errors of any kind are by the Smush Sisters and not these wonderful ladies who try to help us make better stories.

To BonnieH, we want to express our love and thanks. She hosted this story when it was first written. You are awesome!

Ansel Adams is a famous photographer and painter.

MRE is meal ready to eat used by military and other people when cooking can't be done.

Ugg is a brand of footwear both stylish and warm.

Kahlua is a yummy alcoholic beverage.

Header photo is of Jo's grandma.

Background and dividers are from All Free Backgrounds.