“Moms? Dad? You home? Honey and Di are dropping Bess and Tess off and then they’ll come back for me,” Trixie said, talking a mile a minute as she came into the house through the mud room off the kitchen. “I wanted to pick up that wallpaper sample book I left here for Moms to look through. Where are you guys?”
“We’re in the living room, dear.”
Trixie thought her mother’s voice sounded a bit strained and immediately thought of her seventeen year-old brother, Bobby. “What did my brother do this time?” she asked sarcastically.
“Funny you should ask that.” Peter was standing near the fireplace, facing his wife who was sitting on the couch. He slowly turned toward the doorway where Trixie leaned against the doorframe.
Straightening, she walked toward her father. “Whose baby?” she asked, not making the connection to her father’s statement. Then it hit her and she stopped, stunned. “A BABY!”
The baby had been asleep but woke up at the exclamation. “Helen, check in that contraption and see if there’s a pacifier.” Peter was swaying from side to side in an instinctive soothing motion and the baby calmed down to a fretful whimper.
Helen was digging around in a duffle bag crammed with clothing, baby supplies and formula, all the assorted flotsam that surrounds an infant. “Sorry, dear, no pacifier.”
“Ummm, Moms, Dad….whose baby?” Trixie asked again, moving closer to her father to focus her parents’ attention on her query.
“That is the thousand dollar question. In a nutshell, a strange young woman knocked on the door about ten minutes ago, asked to see your brother, ran off and left this baby,” Peter explained.
Helen continued, “The baby woke up screaming a minute after the girl jumped into the car. The poor thing’s diaper was soaked, so I changed her before we called the police.”
“Moms, I am the police. Tell me exactly what happened. Please start back at the beginning and don’t leave out anything.”
As Trixie listened to her mother recount the events of the evening, she sent a quick message to Jim.
BWGs at CF ASAP. Drop BLT @ Lynches.
Helen Belden was almost to the end of the short story when Honey and Diana came into the house through the kitchen. “Trix, we thought you were going to meet us outside? Didn’t you hear us honk?” Honey asked.
“I told you she’d get caught up talking. We could’ve been out there for hours,” Diana teased as they came into the living room. She saw Trixie perched on the edge of the couch in a serious conversation with Mrs. Belden. Mr. Belden was sitting in the easy chair holding a baby. A baby? “Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Belden, whose baby?”
“Hello, girls. Helen and Peter, please, Diana. You’re marrying into this family in a few weeks. I think you can call us by our first names,” Helen said. “We’re not really sure who the baby belongs to.”
“Another Moses Bob-White?” Honey asked in amazement.
“Not exactly,” Trixie said and began to relate the story. As she was telling the girls what happened, her phone buzzed and she looked down at a text from Jim.
On our way. Hope all is OK. Should be there in 20.
“The guys are on their way back here,” she told the group.
“Why do we need them? Can’t we just call the police?” Diana asked.
“I AM the police.” Trixie blew out an exasperated breath. “Moms, do you think you could describe the woman to Di and she could sketch her?”
“I think so,” the older woman said. “There’s a tablet of plain paper in the den, in the desk.”
“I’ll get it,” Honey offered. She had a weird vibe about this baby and the sooner they got answers, the better.
Peter stood up with the baby and crossed to Diana. “Do you mind, Di, even though we have an official officer of the law in residence, I think we should still call the station and report this.” He handed the now sleeping baby to his future daughter-in-law.
“Sure, Mr.…Peter.” She reached out and took the tiny infant.
“Why does everyone want to call the police?” Trixie muttered to herself. “I’m coming with you, Dad. I want to make sure they get all the details.”
The baby had her hand curled up next to her mouth and was making sucking motions with her rosebud mouth. “She’s getting hungry. She’s dreaming about eating.” Being the big sister to two sets of twins, Diana had seen newborns. The baby in her arms was not much larger than Bess and Tess had been at birth and they came a month early. “How old do you think she is, Helen? She’s awfully small.”
Helen looked up from the baby supplies she and Trixie had been going through. “The young woman who left her was very petite. But if I had to guess, and it’s only a guess, she’s maybe a month old, maybe. She has some baby acne which usually clears up within the first month. Brian would know better.”
Honey came back into the room carrying the unlined paper and some sharpened pencils. “Will this do, Di?”
“It’s perfect. Could you hold her so I can sketch?”
“Me? Umm, sure I can,” Honey answered hesitantly. Although she had physically recovered from her experiences with a stalker the past spring, Honey was still working on her self-confidence. She looked down at the sleeping baby. There was a sparse covering of hair, her skin was almost translucent, and her fingers were long and delicate. Honey couldn’t tell the eye color because the baby was still sleeping. She touched the tiny clenched fist and instinctively the baby’s fingers curled around hers. She sat down in the chair Peter had vacated and stared at the newborn, completely spellbound.
Diana had crossed to the sofa and was beginning to sketch the mysterious young woman as Helen described her. The angular features were coming together under Diana’s deft hand.
Trixie came back into the living room with a huge victory smile. “Ha! Chief Molinson wanted to know why we bothered him. The FBI was already on the case.” The baggage of being a teen sleuth was never far from the surface where the Sleepyside Police were concerned, but Trixie felt vindicated by the chief’s response.
“What Wendell actually said was, they were swamped right now and he’d send an officer over as soon as he could,” Peter added. Seeing his daughter about to interject again, he continued, “And he wants Trixie to go through everything and see what she can discover.”
The baby woke up with a wail; no amount of swaying comforted her tiny body. “I think she wants to eat, now!” Honey said over the crying baby.
“I’ll make her a bottle. Four ounces right?” Trixie grabbed the small, unopened can of formula and a bottle. “Sorry, but I’m going to sterilize this bottle first, Honey. It’ll take me a minute or two.”
Honey had shifted the baby to her shoulder and was rubbing her back in slow circles. “Go ahead. Myriam and I will be fine.”
“Myriam?” Di asked.
Honey smiled. “Well, we can’t call her Moses. Besides Myriam was Moses’ sister. So it makes sense to me.” The rarely seen dimple winked at the corner of her mouth and Diana had to smile at her friend.
“Myriam…I like it.”
“As that is the only can of formula, I’d better go to Lytell’s and pick up some supplies. I’ll be back soon,” Peter said, leaning down to kiss Helen.
“Thanks. Sorry about missing your ‘hooray the week is over’ pipe,” Helen said, smiling at her handsome husband.
Peter patted his shirt pocket. “I’ll just have to have a ‘hooray the week is over’ cigar with Frank instead. Be back soon.”
Trixie had just sterilized the bottle when the back door burst open and Jim and Brian came tromping into the kitchen. “Trix, what’s the emergency? Is Honey OK?” Brian asked.
Before she could even reply, the baby’s fretful cries could be heard and Brian took off into the living room. “Where are Mart and Dan?”
Jim closed the door. “Dropping the boys at the Lynches. Bobby’s going to spend the night there. Was that a baby?”
“Yes, it’s a baby,” she said matter-of-factly turning back to the counter to mix the formula. “Some girl dropped her off about an hour ago and, if I understand this correctly, she said my brother is the father.”
“What? Impossible!” Jim said, running his hands through his hair. “Brian’s been very attentive to Honey since Mead’s and, well, Mart wouldn’t cheat on Diana.”
“I agree with you. But…” Trixie said, shaking the baby bottle to mix the formula. She didn’t want to consider the alternatives.
“Bob…” Jim’s eyes widened with disbelief.
She sighed deeply. “Let’s not jump to conclusions. Come on, let’s bring Myriam her bottle.”
“I’ll let Honey explain. I need to dig through the diaper bag.”
Brian had stopped in his tracks as he reached the living room. Sitting in his father’s favorite chair was a hallucination; Honey was cradling a newborn and trying to sooth the crying infant.
“Hello, Brian. Where are the rest of the boys?” Helen asked. “Brian? I asked you a question.”
“I don’t think he heard you, Helen. He seems a bit mesmerized,” Diana said, smiling at her spellbound friend.
Brian was transfixed, rooted to the hardwood floor. Honey held the small infant on her legs, moving her toes up and down, gently bouncing the fretful baby as she supported the baby’s head in her left hand. She was muttering sweet nonsensical words to try to quiet the hungry newborn. Lacking a pacifier, she bent her pinky finger and almost magically the baby was calmed by sucking on the knuckle. The spell was broken when Honey looked up to see him there and she smiled brightly.
“Myriam must think I taste good.”
I know I think you do, he thought to himself as he crossed to the pair. “Who’s your friend?”
Watching the interaction on the other side of the living room, Diana turned to her future mother-in-law and quietly asked, “Ever get the feeling you’re superfluous?”
“Diana, dear, I fear you’ve spent too much time with Mart.” Helen laughed brightly, patting the young woman on the cheek. “Brian, sweetheart, how old would you say our young guest is?”
Before he could answer his mother, the baby grew tired of sucking on Honey’s knuckle and began wailing again.
“For someone so tiny, she sure has a set of lungs on her,” Trixie said, carrying in the bottle. Jim followed closely in her wake.
The baby was in full-on fit mode. Trixie handed the bottle to Honey and as soon as the baby latched onto the nipple, she settled down and silence filled the room.
For several minutes, everyone in the room stared at Honey and the greedily sucking infant.
Jim broke the silence by asking, “I hate to point out the elephant in the room, especially when she’s so cute, but whose baby is she?”
Helen began to tell her story for the third time that evening and Trixie crossed to go through the duffel bag. Her training and instincts had her methodically going through all the items in the bag. She separated them into clothing, accessories, toys, medical supplies, etc. She had the bag empty and was going through the piles as Helen finished her story.
“The girl said the baby was ours?” Brian asked incredulously.
Diana held up her sketch of the girl. “This girl said Helen’s son was the father. That makes the baby one third yours I guess, Brian.”
Brian crossed to look more closely at the sketch. Knowing it was impossible for the child to be his, he was curious to see the woman who could either tempt Mart or corrupt Bobby. “I’ve never seen this woman before. She doesn’t look like anyone that either of my brothers would date.”
“I suspect from Moms’ description that she may be sick or on something and her appearance could have changed drastically,” Trixie interjected. Jim had joined her on the sofa and was going through the petite clothing, one item at a time.
Turning back to Honey who now had the baby on her shoulder and was gently patting the infant’s back, Brian said, “If that’s the case the baby could be on something, too. We should get her to the hospital for a complete check-up, CBC, chem-panel, tox-screen...”
“Chief Molinson asked that we wait with the baby until he could he get out here, but I suspect you’re right, Bri,” Trixie said. “Any thoughts about Moms’ question? How old do you think the baby is?”
Before Brian could offer his thoughts the swinging door from the kitchen burst open and Mart and Dan rushed into the room. Mart asked, “What’s the big emergency? Is everyone one OK? Di, Moms, Dad??”
Instinctively, Moms, Honey and Di all shushed Mart and Dan. No one wanted to wake the now sleeping baby. Quirking his eyebrow, Mart whispered, “Why are you shushing me?”
“Please don’t wake the baby,” Honey implored, standing up to hand the baby off to Jim.
Dan and Mart moved further into the room, Mart took a seat next to Diana on the ottoman while Dan sat on the wide stone hearth of the fireplace. Quiet conversations began to stir around the room as they told the latecomers about the baby and the strange young woman who had left her.
Having heard the tale four times, Trixie was much more interested in the only remaining clue to the baby’s identity, the duffel bag. She and Jim and gone through the clothes and other items in the bag, finding nothing. She picked up the bag and checked the side pockets, empty. Just about to give up, she tried the bottom of the bag and pulled up the liner. BINGO! Hidden under the liner was a large zip-lock bag containing several papers. Opening the bag carefully, Trixie pulled out the top paper and began to read it, her face paled and her mouth hung open as her eyes flicked across the page.
Mart asked the question of the evening. “But whose baby is she?”
Trixie shocked blue eyes looked up from the birth certificate in her hand. “Well, according to this,” she stated quietly, stopping to clear her throat. “Her name is Porsche Cristal Belden, and…you’re the father.”
Authors’ Notes for Chapters 1 and 2:
We’ve been writing together for almost three years and Jix authors for two. It’s been an amazing time for us. Every day has been better than the last because we have become true sisters of the heart who love each other and we even finally met in person during Trixie Camp 2013. W00T!!!!
We need to thank our CCC “sisters” of Joycey, Donna and CarrieLynn. We you all.
Our lovely editors of Joycey, Kelly and Mylee make our stories so much better with their edits and suggestions. If there are errors left in this story, they belong to us, Jenny and Jo.
We also need to thank Pat/Amygirl and the Holiday Fortunately/Unfortunately thread for bringing us together; BonnieH for mentoring and hosting us during our first year of writing; and our pasts editors that helped us get to this place.
The SmushSisters want to especially thank everyone who takes the time to read and comment on our stories. You all ROCK!!
The boys used quotes from the following Mel Brooks’ movies (They really like their slapstick. )
Ford Focus is a zippy compact car
Background is from allfreebackgrounds.com
Header and dividers created using MS Clipart manipulated by Jo
Word count –
Chapter 1 – 1849
Chapter 2 – 2420