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Chapter 7

Trixie finished getting ready for work. She fixed her hair and applied light make-up and when she came out of the bathroom, she was somewhat disappointed that Jim had, in fact, gone. She quickly dressed in her charcoal suit with a royal blue tailored shirt with a double collar. Trixie slipped her feet into blue suede heels. She knew that she and Cooper were doing interviews today so, heels would be acceptable. No chasing criminals today, hopefully.

Collecting her assorted items that had somehow gotten strewn across Honey's bedroom during her short stay, Trixie placed all her paperwork into the laptop case along with the computer. Making sure her personal items were in her duffel, Trixie unplugged her smartphone and placed it in the holster on her left side. Glancing around the room, she decided she hadn't left anything obvious behind. Finally, she opened the drawer to the bedside table and retrieved her lock box.

Placing the biometric lock box on the desk top, she placed her fingers on the keypads and waited while her fingerprints were read. As soon as the scan was completed, the top of the box popped open. Trixie took her Glock .40 pistol and extra magazine out of the box. After clearing the weapon, dropping the magazine, and checking the chamber, Trixie reloaded the sidearm. She placed the extra ammo and pistol in the holster on her waist on the right, under her jacket. After putting her laptop case on her shoulder, she picked up her duffle and turned to quietly leave the room. I'll get the daisies tonight when I come for dinner, she thought to herself as she turned the lights off.

She paused in the hallway and looked towards Jim's room. The door was slightly ajar and she couldn't resist a quick peek. Silently, she opened the door and smiled as she watched the man of her dreams sleeping on his side, snuggling a snoozing puppy. Trixie thought about the conversation she and Jim had in the pet supply store back in December. Dogs need their own bed, Trixie. She shouldn't sleep in the bed with you. "Marshmallow. Jim Frayne, you are a marshmallow. Don't even follow your own advice," she whispered. "Love you!" She quietly closed the door behind her and walked downstairs.

After putting her duffel and computer bag by the door, Trixie went into the kitchen and greeted the cook. "Good morning, Mrs. White. How are you this morning?"

"I'm doing well, Miss Bel-Trixie," the older cook stopped, correcting herself. She smiled brightly at the young woman. "How are you? What would you like this morning?"

"Just coffee today. I don't have time for a sit-down breakfast this morning. I've got to get into the office early," Trixie explained to the experienced chef.

As they were talking, the cook continued to bustle around the kitchen. She went to the oven and, using a pot holder, took a covered dish out and placed it on the counter. "Mrs. Wheeler explained that you would most likely be departing early this morning. I took the liberty of making you a 'commuter special.'" Mrs. White took a foil wrapped package out of the casserole and held it out to Trixie.

"'Commuter special'? Oh, it's a breakfast sandwich. Thank you very much, Mrs. White. You are spoiling me; I'll never want to go home," Trixie teased.

Mrs. White handed her a slip-proof coffee cup, filled with coffee. "Light cream, two sugars, just like you like it."

"You remembered?" Trixie was pleasantly surprised. "Thanks. I guess I'll see you later tonight. My parents and I are coming to dinner."

"Yes, Mrs. Wheeler informed me of that. I have something special planned," Mrs. White said, smiling at Trixie. "You drive carefully."

"I will, thanks again!" Trixie called out as she left the kitchen to get her things from the front hall. She placed the coffee and breakfast sandwich on the table by the door. She was bending down to pick up her duffel and computer case when she was grabbed from behind and powerful hands yanked her to her feet, pressing her against a firm torso. After the initial second of uneasiness, she relaxed in Jim's arms. She turned around to stand facing him. Without her heels, Trixie's head barely reached Jim's chin, but in her heels she came closer to eye to eye.

"Is that a pistol you're carrying or are you just happy to see me?" Jim teased.

"I'm always happy to see you. Why are you up? You were sleeping so peacefully when I left," Trixie asked rubbing her hands up and down his back under the Harvard sweatshirt he was now wearing. "Nice shirt."

Jim chuckled, "Smells like you. I like that." He started to sway gently back and forth, dancing in the foyer. Trixie leaned into him, resting her head on his shoulder. Jim released a deep sigh, completely comfortable. "It's so good to be home."

"But I have to leave and go to work." Trixie looked into smiling green eyes.

"Anywhere you are, Shamus, is home to me. It has been since you found me," Jim said, pressing her lips to his, caressing her mouth more than just kissing it.

Trixie quivered with the tenderness of his kiss and just melted into him. Finally breaking the kiss, she said, "I love you, now and always."

"I…love…you…now…and…always," Jim said, between each word kissing her cheeks, ears, nose, and ending on her lips. "Now, you scoot and get to work. Someone has to bring in a paycheck. Gotta keep our girl in kibble." Jim gave her one last squeeze and bent down to pick up her laptop case and duffel. He put the case on her shoulder. "Can I walk you to your car, Miss Belden?" he asked, holding onto her duffel.

"No, you don't have any shoes on. I just got you back, I don't need you sick. You turn into a big baby when you're sick," she taunted.

"Oh yeah, like you're a patient patient, HA! I remember when you had the mumps your senior year. You were insufferable." Jim noisily kissed her on the cheek. "But, I'll admit I shouldn't go out barefoot. AND speaking of catching a cold, where is your coat?"

"It's in the RAV. I promise to put it on as soon as I get to the car. Before you say anything, I promise to drive carefully, and I promise to let Cooper chase all the criminals today." She leaned in and gave him a lingering kiss. Picking up her now cooling coffee and sandwich, she added, "I'll call later, if I can. Have a good day." She looked over her shoulder as Jim stood in the doorway watching her walk to her car.

As soon as she was safely in the car and driving down the driveway, Jim closed the door and went upstairs to try and get a little more sleep. He pulled the neck of his sweatshirt up and inhaled deeply, enjoying the fresh, floral scent that was Trixie. Yeah, like you're going to sleep. Cold shower is more like it, Jim thought to himself as he reached his room. He quietly closed the door behind him and looked toward the bed.

There sprawled in the middle of the bed, with her head actually on his pillow was Sherlock, blissfully chasing imaginary rabbits in her sleep. "Move over, Sherlock, you have to at least share the bed," Jim said as he picked up the puppy and moved her to the left side of the bed. Settling back into the pillows, Jim took a few deep breaths, closed his eyes and was almost instantly asleep.

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The Friday morning interviews with bar patrons, plus neighbors and friends of Paula Anderson, provided Trixie and Cooper with several more pieces of corroborating evidence against Jeff Williams. By eleven they were ready to bring him in for another interview.

"Cooper, I need to go by Nick's to pick up Jim's photographs over lunch. Would you mind calling to get Williams in here and pick me up an Italian sub from the place around the corner when you get yours?" Trixie asked as she gathered her things to run her errand.

"Sure, not a problem, Trix," Cooper answered, waving his hand at her without looking away from his laptop.

"Thanks, Coop," Trixie laughed as she headed out the door.

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Trixie parked her SUV in front of Nick's studio at eleven-thirty. She had been shocked and excited when he had called earlier this morning to let her know everything was ready a day early. She couldn't wait to see what Nick and Lori had done with the copies and prints of Jim's family photographs.

Pulling open the studio's door, Trixie immediately noticed the slender woman with white-blond hair standing behind the counter. A friendly smile broke on the woman's beautiful face and her brown eyes sparkled as she inquired, "Are you Trixie?"

"Guilty," Trixie laughed. "You must be Lori Roberts. It is a pleasure to meet you," she said shaking hands. "Not only because you are Nick's wife but I wanted to meet the artist that took Nick's fantastic photos and turned them into a visual masterpiece," Trixie added, pointing to the 'Seasons of Ten Acres' on the wall.

Blushing in pleasure, Lori stammered, "Thanks! That was one of the first things I did when I started to work for Nick. I was really proud of it but Nick said I could do better."

"You're kidding!" Trixie exclaimed. "That is a beautiful presentation of the photos. Isn't that the original version?" she asked.

Blushing deeper, Lori said shyly, "Yes, it's the original. Nick was just teasing me but he really didn't know how to do it without being offensive." Laughing, she directed, "Come back into the workshop. I want to show you what we've done for you and Jim."

Leading the way into the back of the building, Lori indicated to Trixie to take a seat on the stool by the work table. Along the twenty-foot long table were twenty-four display easels holding frames of different sizes, each covered in a soft blue cloth.

Lori stepped behind the table to the first large frame. "We hope you like what we've done. Nick thinks the world of you, Jim and the other BWGs, I believe he called them. He wanted these..." she paused thinking. "Oh, yes, 'perfectly perfect' is what he said. Anyway, we hope this is what you wanted."

As she said the words, Lori pulled the covering off the frame. The photograph was of Win and a pregnant Katie. The matting was a soft sage green color that picked out the leaves of the flowers on Katie's sundress and Win's eyes. The oak frame complimented the wooden glider on which they sat.

Clasping her hands together in front of her mouth, Trixie's eyes filled with tears as she looked at the loving couple.

"Oh, no! Trixie, don't you like it?" Lori asked, concerned by Trixie's reaction. She grabbed a box of tissues and shoved it at Trixie. "Isn't it what you were wanting?"

Dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, Trixie gave Lori a huge, watery smile. "Lori, I'm just happy because it turned out even more lovely than I had ever dreamed," she stated. "I can't tell you how beautiful this is to me. Jim is going to just love it."

Relieved that Trixie was teary from joy, Lori moved to the next large frame removing the cover. "Let me show you the others. I tried to adjust the matting based on the size to make it more personal but I kept with shades of oak because Nick said that was your preference," Lori explained.

Once all the frames were revealed, Trixie reached out to touch several of them, smiling as she moved from one to the next. Lori then presented Trixie with two sets of DVDs marked with the recorded information. Finally, from under the counter Lori pulled four new dark brown photo albums. Each was embossed with Frayne Family and numbered one through four.

"Wow!" Trixie exclaimed, reaching out to open and flip through volume one. "I can't believe the two older albums turned into four," she commented as she turned pages looking at Jim's ancestors and the places they visited. "The copies look wonderful. And, oh my, you already have the colors restored on these. How'd you do that so quickly?" she asked, bewildered.

Lori smiled broadly at Trixie's wondering face. "Nick worked on the restoration while I did the rest. You hit a lucky time. We're slow right now. Oh, wait. There is one more thing," Lori said, jumping up to get a box off another table. The box was wrapped with the lid separate from the bottom. Lori set it in front of Trixie. "Last piece of your order," Lori said bouncing in place on the balls of her feet.

Trixie hurried to lift the lid off the box. When she pulled the paper back from the contents, Trixie gasped. Dropping her hand away, she stammered, "I never thought I could look like that. How much air brushing did Nick have to do?"

Lori touched Trixie on the shoulder and gently said, "Nick didn't have to do anything except print the photograph, Trixie. Your natural beauty was shining through. I think Jim will like his present very much."

Blinking back at the photograph of her riding Lady dressed as she had been for their Christmas ride, Trixie was surprised to see the radiant glow on her face and happiness in her eyes as she sat atop Lady. Thinking of the photo shoot yesterday, Trixie smiled as she remembered Nick encouraging her to think of Jim.

The back door of the studio opened, letting in a cold winter breeze and Nick. "Hey, sweetie. Hi, Trixie. I see you've seen all your photos and enlargements. How'd we do? Happy?" he asked nervously.

Trixie leapt up from the stool, hugging Lori with one arm and Nick with the other. "You two are absolutely amazing. I have never seen such gorgeous work," Trixie enthused, giving them each another quick hug. Turning back toward the table, she noticed the four albums. "I missed the answer. Did you have to break the two albums out into four to get everything into them?" she asked, confused.

As she grabbed book three and flipped it open to an empty page, Nick explained, "No, it was still only two books when we got done. Lori and I just wanted to provide Jim with two other albums for future family photos. He'll probably need them." Nick winked at Trixie as she blushed a rosy color.

"I just can't thank you both enough for all you have done for me and Jim in such a short time. I can't wait to show him all the photos and work you have done. He will be so happy," Trixie said solemnly. "Nick, let's settle up what I owe you. I'd appreciate help loading everything into the RAV, too."

"Sure, Trixie." Nick pulled an invoice out of a bin by the table. Grinning, he said, "Here is the itemized statement you requested. All charges present and accounted for, as you required. Please note that I gave you the BWG discount I told you I would."

Lori giggled as she said, "I had to double check every bit of material and time. Nick said you were very adamant that every single charge was included."

Trixie glanced through the invoice, quickly verifying quantities and items. Pulling out her debit card, she handed it to Nick to process then started helping Lori box up the frames and bag up the albums.

Once Nick finished the transaction, Trixie stowed her card and receipt. The trio carried the packages out to Trixie's vehicle, placing them carefully in the cargo area.

Hugging first Lori then Nick, Trixie said, "After Mart and Di see these, I'm sure they will be in touch to arrange for you to take their wedding photos. I can't say thanks enough. You both are awesome. I can't wait to show these to Jim."

As Trixie moved to get into the driver's seat, Nick requested, "Trixie, tell anyone you can. We need the business right now. After Christmas, but before prom and wedding season, is pretty slow."

"Will do. You two take care," Trixie called as she drove away back to the office.

Nick turned to his wife and said, "Are the rest of photos ready, too?"

"Almost, I have a few yet to crop that we were going to frame, but they all came out great. Mrs. Wheeler is sure to be happy," Lori said. She pulled out a blue leather-bound album, full of the additional 'secret' photos that the socialite had requested. "I called and left a message that the album would be ready today after noon."

"Fantastic!" Nick kissed his wife. "I think this is going to be the opening we needed. Mrs. Wheeler knows everyone. My dear, we are going to be up to our eyeballs in country club mamas and their extended families."

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Trixie hastily devoured her sandwich and described how beautiful the photographs turned out as a result of Nick and Lori's hard work.

Soon she and Cooper began to re-interview Jeff Williams. The man reminded Trixie of Jonesy. He was stoop-shouldered, had tobacco stained fingers, yellow teeth and he made her skin crawl. Trixie and Cooper had been working on Williams for over an hour, pressing the inconsistencies of his story and the information from witnesses that indicated he had been the last to see Paula Anderson and John Jacob Connors.

Trixie and Cooper knew the bureau chief, section lawyer and a few others were behind the glass as they questioned Williams. The partners felt that Williams had killed both the girl he met at the bar and the man who was flirting with her. They just needed to ask the right questions in the right order to trip him up or get him to confess.

"Mr. Williams," Trixie began again, "We know you got mad and raised your voice to Paula at the bar. You even admitted, and I quote, 'I wanted to lock her away where Connors would never find her' end quote." Shuffling papers in the file, Trixie glanced at Cooper before continuing. "You admitted that you shoved Connors away from Paula and she told you that she would see who she and I quote; 'damn well pleased' end quote. We have six witnesses from the bar that night who will testify that not only did you shove Connors away from Paula but that you told him that you would kill him." Looking at the papers again, Trixie paused briefly before shifting her gaze to stare Williams in the eye. Trixie stated, "The exact words we got from every single witness were, quote; 'I'll get a gun and kill her and you before I see you with her'."

Cooper stepped up to the table and said gruffly, "Williams, we have more eyewitness statements and we have the bullets from both Paula Anderson and John Jacob Connors. They are a match. We have a search warrant for your home to look for the weapon that could have committed both crimes. Here is a copy." Cooper handed the warrant to Williams. "Officers are at your home right now serving your pregnant wife with the warrant and beginning the search. Is there-?"

"No, you can't do that!" Williams cried as he stood up and tipped his chair with a crash. "My wife doesn't know anything about this. She never knew about me and Paula. You can't destroy my family like this. You can't search my home," he said panicked.

Cooper calmly ordered, "Have a seat, Williams." He waited as their suspect righted the chair and sat back down and threw his head in his hands.

Winking at Trixie out of Williams' sight, Cooper walked around the room and explained, "We have served the warrant as signed by Judge Josiah Capps to search your home, vehicles and premises for any and all weapons and evidence relating to the deaths of Paula Anderson and John Jacob Connors. Your wife was served the warrant the minute we walked into the room. FBI, New York State Police and Albany City Police are all on site to ensure that the warrant is executed under the law, all evidence follows the proper chain of custody and the entire search is documented properly." Pausing to gage Williams' reaction, Cooper saw the tension in Williams' body.

Raising his head to look at Cooper, Williams' eyes held panic and then resolution. Breaking eye contact, he muttered, "I didn't mean to do it. I loved Paula. I was planning on leaving my wife for her."

Cooper asked quietly, "Williams, are you confessing?"

Williams glared at Cooper and said harshly, "Hell, I might as well. As soon as you get to my garage you'll find the gun with my prints on it. I'm screwed anyway. Yeah, I confess."

"Trixie, get the crew in here and let's get this on record," Cooper directed.

The next three hours were spent ensuring Williams' rights were not violated, recording his statement, getting all the evidence processed and getting him booked into jail.

As they saved the last file, Trixie and Cooper stood and high-fived. Trixie boasted, "Now that is how to start a weekend!" She started happy dancing around their office. "I can't believe

"Trixie, I almost forgot, Mr. Minatoli asked me to bring you your prescription when I went by on my way back from the deli. He said you could settle up with him when you go in next." Cooper held out a plain white drugstore paper bag. "Now, don't you have someone waiting for you at home?" Cooper asked feigning an innocent look.

"Oh, yes," Trixie giggled. "I've got a really good place to be." Having all but forgotten all about the prescription, until he mentioned it, she quickly grabbed the bag, praying Cooper hadn't paid any attention to what was in it. Shouldering her bag, Trixie picked up her laptop case and waved as she ran out the door.

Cooper was laughing to himself, "Jim's not going to know what hit him."

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She got back to the Manor House just in time for dinner. After a delicious meal and dessert of Baked Alaska, the Wheelers and Beldens sat in the den along with Jim and Trixie. The conversations flowed easily around the room as the ladies talked about Helen's recent trip to see her sister and the men discussed the recent additions to the Ten Acres building project. Trixie was sitting next to Jim on the sofa, their hands clasped tightly together. Jim's thumb was absently rubbing across her knuckles. She was listening to both conversations, smiling as she realized how peaceful the commotion was to her.

Jim looked over and wondered at her smile. "What are you grinning at?"

"I was just thinking how wonderful this is. Just sitting around and having pleasant conversations. I missed this so much when I was in Virginia," Trixie said, leaning into Jim.

Jim leaned down and whispered, "I missed you when you were in Virginia." He kissed her on the cheek.

Maddie and Helen had stopped talking and smiled silently at each other, thinking the same thoughts of happiness and hoping for an engagement soon. "Trixie, don't you have something you wanted to show us?" Maddie asked.

"Oh, yes, I picked up the photos from Nick today. He got all the restorations done and I think they look great. I left them in the car. Let's go get them," she said, standing up, holding Jim's hand.

"Guess I'll help," Jim added, following her out the door.

"Like he wasn't going to in the first place? How long do you think this is going to take?" Helen asked Maddie with a smile.

Surprisingly, the two were back with the boxes of photos in a few minutes. Jim was carrying two boxes of photos and Trixie knelt on the floor and laid her box of photos on the floor. Jim sat on the sofa, Maddie sat next to him, while Matt sat in the wing chair closest to his wife and the Beldens pulled armchairs up to see better. One by one Trixie shared the various sized framed photos.

Although Jim had seen the photos many times since they had discovered them, it was if he was seeing them for the first time. The color was vibrantly restored, while the framing and matting complemented each photo beautifully.

After the first two photos showing Win and Katje and then Jim with his parents, Helen and Maddie started crying. Matt and Peter handed over their handkerchiefs to their wives. As each framed picture was displayed, the Wheelers and Beldens talked with enthusiasm about the presentation of the photographs. As the last photo of Win with a pregnant Katje was set on the table, Trixie eyes were full of unshed tears.

Jim sat quietly and reverently touched each photo and frame as he looked at his parents. Finally, he raised his head and speared Trixie with green eyes darkened with emotion. "Shamus, I want to thank you for this. Not only do I now have pictures of my parents and family but they are beautifully restored and framed," he said with a catch to his husky voice. "Thank you, sweetheart." He leaned forward and gave Trixie a sweet kiss.

Taking the handkerchief from Jim's hand, Trixie wiped her eyes and her nose. She then shared the restored photo albums after the framed pictures.

Bashfully, she presented Jim with the two blank Frayne Family albums. "Nick wanted you to have these to put future pictures in."

Maddie leaned close to Matt and whispered, "So, do you think there will be something to put in there before their engagement or after?"

Matt coughed loudly and Maddie had to pat him a few times on the back. "Would anyone like coffee?" Maddie asked.

"Coffee, I would love some coffee please," Matt said. Maddie got up and retrieved the coffee urn from the side board. Pouring some for Matt, she added the sugar and handed him the cup. "Thank you, dear."

"You're welcome, darling. Would anyone else like some?" Maddie noticed Trixie was concealing a box under the coffee table. She knew the remaining photo had to be the one Trixie had Nick take. Realizing the young blonde was probably having some anxiety about giving Jim the photo, Maddie decided a gentle nudge was needed. She said, "Trixie, is that another photo?" She sat down on the arm of Matt's chair next to the coffee table, across from Helen and Peter.

"Where? I thought we saw all the photos from Uncle James' and Aunt Nell's albums," Jim queried.

"Um, I, um, have another picture for you," Trixie said softly, picking up the box from under the table and going to sit next to Jim on the couch.

Jim quirked his eyebrow questioningly as he took the box she handed him. Trixie was biting her lower lip as she watched Jim's reaction. He took the lid off the box and pulled the tissue back. "When did you do this?" he asked, taking her hand in his.

"When you were in Colorado. Do you like it?" she asked questioningly.

"Like it? I love it. I can't believe you did this for me." Jim finally took the picture out of the box and passed it to Helen and Peter to see. Nick had captured Trixie as she rode across the pasture, covered in freshly fallen snow. The cape was billowing behind her, the sun shone on her golden curls and her smile was radiant. Her blue eyes glowed with enjoyment. She sat straight and tall on Lady, looking like a huntress from medieval days. "You are so beautiful," Jim said softly as he took her face in his hands and Trixie felt his lips touch her like a whisper.

As she watched the young lovers, Maddie ran her hand across her husband's shoulders and looked into his dark-green eyes. He smiled lovingly at his bride of thirty years and placed his hand on her knee. Waiting a brief moment, not wanting to disturb the tender interlude, Maddie got up and went to the closet. She returned and handed Jim the large white box and stepped back to sit on the arm of Matt's chair. She wanted to see Jim and Trixie's reaction to the contents. Leaning into Matt, her face softened into a loving smile and she looked at their son. The smile broadened as Matt hugged her closer toward him.

Jim glanced at Trixie before looking at the Beldens and then his parents. He crooked an eyebrow at his mother and then lifted the lid on the box to set it to one side. Spreading back the tissue paper, Jim's breath drew in as a gasping sigh. Inside the box was a framed photograph of Trixie with her head leaned against Susie. The sun was shining on her golden curls making them appear as a halo around her beautiful face. The relaxed smile of pure happiness added to her beauty.

Trixie leaned over to look inside the box. "Oh, my," she said softly before looking at Maddie. "How and when did Nick catch that?" she asked with wonder.

"I commissioned Nick to take some pictures for me as a present for Jim's graduation. I told him I wanted some casual, candid photos of you," Maddie explained.

Helen and Peter moved behind the couch to look over Jim's shoulder at the framed photo. "Oh, Trixie," Helen sighed as Peter put his arm around her.

"I don't know how he could improve on that absolutely beautiful photo but let's see what else is here," Jim said with a husky voice. Lifting the photo out and setting it on the coffee table, he pulled back another layer of tissue paper.

"Oh, Trixie, that is beautiful," Helen murmured.

"Oh, Shamus," Jim crooned. "You continue to amaze me. There are so many sides to you."

In this photo, Trixie was obviously happily laughing. Her head was tilted and the bright early sun was shining on her from behind. Trixie's golden curls were windblown and tumbling over her shoulders in a cascade of curls. Her sapphire eyes were sparkling and the smooth creamy skin of her face had a rosy blush giving way to a beautiful sweet smile.

"That was at the schoolhouse. I had just told Regan about the bird's nest falling all over me that night you, Brian, and I got caught in the blizzard with Reddy." Trixie leaned her head on Jim's shoulder, chuckling. "I can't believe it."

Jim reached into the box and pulled out a blue leather-bound album. He looked inquiringly at his mother. "Nick and Lori put the rest of the photos in an album for you two. He said some of the pictures were very editorial, whatever that means," Maddie explained. Opening the album, they looked at dozens of photos arranged chronologically.

"How did he get a picture of you with Trixie, Jim? Photoshop?" Helen Belden asked from over their shoulders as they were looking at a picture of Trixie being helped to mount Lady.

"That's Regan, Moms. That Nick is sneaky. If I didn't know, I'd think it was you, too, Jim," Trixie said shaking her head in amazement.

"I must say the photos of you in the stable grooming the horses are attention-grabbing. Such different contrasts, fancy dress and straw," Maddie said from the arm of the chair.

Reaching the last photo, Jim let out a loud laugh, "Priceless, absolutely priceless. I love it!" The photo was of Trixie sprawled in the straw pile, laughing as she tried to extricate herself. "Do I want to know how you managed that?" Jim turned to Trixie and nudged her.

"No, no, you don't," Trixie said. She leaned and whispered in his ear, "If you're good, I might tell you later, privately."

"I can't wait," Jim whispered back, kissing her on the side of her face. "Mother, these pictures are incredible. Thank you so much."

"They're for both of you, so you two have to share." Maddie gestured to the two sitting on the couch. "I also have an album for you and Peter, Helen. Your daughter is a stunning model."

"Model…" Trixie snorted. "More like intoxicated idiot," she whispered into Jim's ear.

"There is more to this story and I want to hear it tonight," Jim said softly. He was going to continue his line of questioning when Miss Trask came into the den.

"Jim, there is a phone call for you, a Mr. Reynolds. He says he's George Rainsford's partner," Miss Trask informed the group.

Trixie grasped Jim's hand excitedly. "Jim, this is it. Go talk to him."

"Come on, let's take the call in the study," Jim said pulling Trixie to her feet and out the door.

"It's really a shame that those two are having a hard time admitting their true feelings to one another," Matt said, straight-faced. He looked blandly at the others in the room, waited a beat, and smiled. The others couldn't help but laugh at his sarcastic but smoothly delivered statement.

"I wish they had a harder time showing their feelings. They went from zero to sixty in a flash. I don't know how you're dealing with it," Peter admitted gruffly.

"Oh, that's easy, she's your little girl. I'll feel the same way about Honey when she finally gets serious about someone." Matt stood, going to the bar in the corner, and poured whiskey into two cut crystal tumblers. He silently handed one to Peter and tapped his glass against it, raising a toast. "To our children, who finally came to their senses."

Peter stared at the amber liquid, and drank it down in one swallow. "Think I'm going to need another," he said, smiling at Matt and holding his empty glass up.

"Helen, would like something? I think I'll have a sherry please, darling," Maddie said.

"Sherry would be lovely, thank you," Helen said, looking sideways at her husband. "Good thing we're walking home."

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A short while later Trixie came into the room with a springy bounce. "Oh my goodness, Mr. Rainsford got our messages on ship and he called Mr. Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds has access to all of Uncle James' files. He's going to meet us here tomorrow after breakfast." She was almost glowing with excitement.

Jim walked into the room, a bit more sedately but equally excited. "Hopefully, we'll have an answer to our questions tomorrow." He stood behind Trixie and put his arms around her waist. "Oh, I see you all broke out the drinks while we were gone. Trixie, would like something?"

"Wine would be nice, we can toast to tomorrow." Trixie had her arms wrapped around herself entwined with Jim's arms. She leaned up and turned her head backwards and kissed Jim on the cheek.

Jim went over to the bar and selected a lovely merlot. He opened the wine with the ease and experience of a man brought up comfortable with the finer things in life. Selecting two wide-globed wine glasses, he poured a small amount into a glass. He swirled it around and gave a small taste. He passed the same glass to Trixie to taste.

She smiled as she took the glass, not sure if he was pretending pretentiousness, or if in fact he was serious. This was a new side to her boyfriend if he was serious. She sipped the deep red wine, looking at Jim through her lashes. She caught his wink and realized he was pulling her leg. "The wine is delicious, please," Trixie said, holding the wine glass out to Jim to fill.

After filling their glasses, Jim took Trixie's hand and they returned to sit on the sofa. "So, what do we do until tomorrow at 8:30 when Mr. Reynolds is supposed to show?"

"Well," Maddie said, "I've got a great movie we could watch."





Bonnie, Donnis, Mylee, Pam and Wendy are the bestest editors. {{hug}} Any typos or errors belong to Jo and Jenny.

Bonnie, we thank you for originally hosting this story for us. {{hug}}

Header photo is of Jo's grandma.

Glock 40 is a gun that Jenny picked out as perfectly perfect for Trixie. (Note to Jo - don't tick Jenny off in case she has a Glock).

Background and dividers are from All Free Backgrounds.