Trixie Belden and Jim Frayne walked hand-in-hand along the path leading from the Manor House to Ten Acres enjoying the mid-summer day. They didn’t talk but took pleasure in the comfort of being with each other on the well-worn path as their dog, Sherlock, gamboled along the path ahead of them.
As they walked into the clearing and saw the new house at Ten Acres, Trixie exclaimed, “Oh, Jim, it’s so beautiful! I haven’t been here since they put the siding on.”
The Dutch colonial home stood proudly in the center of the clearing. The classic barn-style shingled roof accented by three dormers containing double-hung windows. The window style had been created to allow more headroom on the second floor. Historically a Dutch colonial would have been created completely of stone or brick but this house was covered with white siding and stone accents. Each window not in a dormer was flanked by shutters painted deep navy blue. The exterior doors were clad in a dark forest green. A wide porch of composite material ran the width of the front of the house.
“Are you sorry that we didn’t build the house exactly like Uncle James’ Victorian? I know how much you loved it. Especially since you snooped around the old place so much,” he said with a wink and grin.
Trixie lightly punched Jim in the shoulder. “The Dutch colonial farmhouse is perfect for the space. I’m so happy that they could reuse some of the old foundation. Besides, I never snooped when your great-uncle lived here.” She then looked solemnly into Jim’s eyes. “The greatest mystery adventure I ever solved and the most valuable treasure I could ever imagine finding was you in the mansion and then at the Smith farm.” Trixie lowered her eyes and scuffed the toe of her running shoe across the ground. “I don’t know what my life would be like without you in it,” Trixie said quietly.
Jim pulled her tightly against him and leaned his forehead against hers. “Trixie, my life would have been miserable without you. You and Honey saved me, got me adopted, gave me a place to belong and renewed my purpose and hope in myself and my fellow man. I would not have been able to stand here today with all my accomplishments without having your faith in me. You are the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” he said with a soft and husky voice.
Trixie gave Jim a beautiful smile. She kissed him gently with a promise and then nuzzled her head under his chin as she looked at the house. The architect that Jim and his dad had employed took Lester Mundy’s ideas and created plans that used the space to make a nice functional home. From the front elevation the house looked like a standard Dutch colonial style with a wide paved driveway arching in front of the house and the attached four car garage.
“Why are there so many garages?” Trixie asked. “Are you planning to have a car collection?”
Jim chuckled. “So we have a place to put the kids’ cars.”
“Where’re Lester and his crew?” Trixie asked, as they entered through the front door of the quiet house. Sherlock pushed past them to explore and sniff construction smells.
“There was an emergency they had to handle,” Jim answered as he steered her toward the stairs with a hand on her back. “They’ll be back tomorrow.”
“I want to go look at the kitchen,” Trixie objected when they reached the bottom step.
Swatting her gently on the backside with a set of rolled up plans, he urged her to climb. “Lester gave me specific questions to answer so they can finish up the upstairs master bath. You want your double size Jacuzzi, don’t you?” he asked, waggling his eyebrows.
Trixie turned on the step above him to look into his emerald eyes. As they gazed into each other’s passion darkened eyes, she whispered huskily, “It’s important to conserve water, you know.”
“I know.” He leaned in to capture her lips in an unhurried kiss. Breaking away from her, he ordered, “Upstairs. I have wicked plans for you later.”
Giggling, she saluted him and then turned to quickly climb to the second floor.
“Jim, why do you need two master suites?” Trixie asked, looking around the spacious upstairs master bath as if visualizing the fixtures.
“Baby, the two suites allow us to be on either the first or second floor. When there are babies, it would be easier to be on the same floor with them,” he answered with a blush. “Once we get older, we may not like multiple trips up and down the stairs,” Jim added from behind the unrolled plans he held. “Then, we can use the second suite as a guest room.”
Stepping to a table made of two sawhorses and a piece of plywood, Jim laid the plans down to look toward the tub and shower areas.
“Lester needs to know if we want vanity or pedestal sinks, where the towel racks should go and if we want a cabinet on this wall,” Jim explained, tapping the sheetrock beside him. “It would be out of the way here but still provide extra storage for towels and stuff. What do you think, baby?”
Trixie glanced around the room with a look of contemplation on her face. A small frown furrowed the tanned skin between her brows. An old insecure feeling washed over her. I know what I’d do if this was my house but Jim hasn’t said anything definite so…
Trixie turned to face Jim, nervously playing with the leg of her shorts. “Well, it's your house, Jim. You should decide based on your likes,” she began.
As her voice dwindled away, she watched Jim straighten to his full height. He stepped in front of her in two strides. “Trixie, what kind of nonsense is this? You know just as I do that you and I will live here together. We’ll marry and you’ll move in here.” Gently grabbing her hands in his, he ran his green eyes anxiously over her beloved face. “You are planning on marrying me someday, aren’t you?” he said worriedly. “I’ll just die if you don’t,” he added, gathering her into his arms and kissing her deeply.
“Your proposal needs work, Frayne,” Trixie murmured, catching her breath against his lips. “But your kisses are perfect,” she sighed, claiming his lips once again. “Now, let’s look at those samples Lester left.”
Thirty minutes later, Trixie and Jim sat on the floor of the room over the garage they’d chosen as their upstairs bedroom, flipping through a pile of tile and counter material samples.
“I think my head is going to explode with all the choices,” Trixie cried, cradling her forehead with her hands. “There are so many of them that I like.” She sighed as she lifted her head.
“I know what you mean,” Jim concurred, rubbing a hand around the back of his neck. “Let’s try this. You write down the number of your top three choices and I’ll write down mine,” he instructed, handing her a piece of paper and a pen. “If any of them are the same, then we’ll go with it.”
“Works for me,” Trixie agreed, a smile flashing on her face. She quickly jotted down her favorite three numbers in order and folded the paper over to hide them. “Ready.”
Jim’s left hand set down the pencil and his eyes flicked to hers. “OK, trade,” he directed, sticking out his paper.
A broad smile appeared on Trixie’s face and she giggled as she read Jim’s sheet.
Jim’s chuckle joined her joyous sound. “Well, I’ll be,” he exclaimed on a laugh. “They are the exact same colors is the same order.”
“That’s because we are a perfect match for each other,” Trixie answered, leaning across the samples for a kiss. “Since you have Lester creating a walk in shower the size of my apartment’s walk-in closet, I think we should do the showers and tub surround in this tile,” she offered holding out their first choice sample. “Then we can use this for the floor and accent,” she suggested, holding out the complementary tile.
“You have a great eye for this stuff, baby,” Jim said, noting down everything in his concise handwriting for Lester. “What color do you want in here? Or do you want paper?”
“Well, I think…”
The young couple discussed the bath fixtures and tiles for several more minutes, tossing ideas back and forth before noting down the decisions.
“OK, I think that’s everything,” Jim said, snapping shut the notebook of information. “Now let’s go look at your kitchen.” He stood up, gathering the prints and notebook into one hand; he took Trixie’s hand in the other and pulled her up from the floor.
Trixie turned toward the door to the hallway while Jim moved toward the wall.
“Where are you going?” she queried with a confused look on her face.
Stopping in front of a built-in bookcase in the bedroom suite’s sitting area; Jim smiled that lop-sided grin she loved so well. “I have a surprise for you, baby.” Releasing her hand he pointed at a piece of wood trim on the bookcase that had a knot on it. “Press the knot,” he instructed.
Her eyes sparkled in anticipation and curiosity as she pressed the wood. A quiet click was heard as the bookcase silently drifted back into the wall.
Grinning, she jumped up and down in place. “A secret passage!” she squealed excitedly, throwing her arms around Jim’s neck, wrapping her legs around his waist and peppering his face with kisses. “Oh, I love you! I love you! I love you!” she told him between kisses. “You are the most wonderful man,” she concluded, kissing him long and thoroughly.
Pressing her against the frame of the passage doorway, Jim dropped the plans and notebook, then deepened the kiss.
From downstairs there was a faint bark from Sherlock.
Breaking away with a final nip at her bottom lip, Jim rasped out, “Baby, I love you so much. I’d do anything for you.” Taking her lips with his, he proceeded to take her breath away.
Gasping for air, a low groan was pulled from Jim as Trixie released her hold and slid slowly down the front of his to lean into him. “Woman, I love you,” he growled, kissing her quickly again. “We need to move or I’m going to make love to you right here in the middle of this construction dust.”
Straightening the hem of her top, Trixie giggled as she stepped toward the door. “I don’t want to get all dusty so let’s see where these stairs go,” she answered, pulling a small LED flashlight from her pocket she led the way down the hidden stairway.
The stairwell was about three foot wide and switched direction at a small landing midway down. “We’d been heading toward the outside of the house and now we’re going back toward the main rooms, right?” Trixie queried as they approached the bottom step.
“Nothing gets past my Shamus. You are absolutely correct, baby,” Jim agreed, stopping on the bottom step behind her. He pointed to a small recessed area at the edge of the door. “Press there to release the door, Trix. It’s the same as the inside of the door upstairs.”
Trixie pushed gently on the spot and heard another soft click as the door released and eased open an inch. She glanced at Jim with a wide grin on her face. “It is perfect. I really love it but not as much as I love you,” she told him, opening the door and stepping into the kitchen.
“Lester still needs to put the light fixtures into the stairs. He’ll also install wall-mount crank lanterns at the top, bottom and landing for use in case of a power outage,” Jim advised as he showed her how to close the door securely.
“It’s just amazing,” she enthused, still smiling. “I can’t wait until Honey sees it,” she added.
Jim’s cell chirped indicating the receipt of a text message. Setting the book and plan roll on a sawhorse, he pulled the phone from his pocket and chuckled when he read the screen. “Evidently, your excitement has radiated out and reached Honey,” Jim told her, a lopsided grin appearing on his face. “She says ‘Can’t wait to see house…Soon,’ in caps with two exclamations. Then, ‘dinner at the Manor House at 6:30.’”
“Oh, rats!” Trixie frowned. “I forgot to bring clothes for dinner,” she explained with a sigh. “I’ll have to run home and get something.”
Jim tugged gently on her ponytail which made her look up into his emerald green eyes. “It’s a cookout, baby. Dad is cooking hotdogs, brats and burgers on the grill we got him for Father’s Day. Cook has complained that she never gets to do anything but side dishes and breakfast anymore.”
“If you’re sure,” she hedged.
“Positive,” he answered; glancing around the kitchen, he noted Sherlock had curled up on a pile of painting tarps. Jim’s eyes flicked toward the dining room. “This space is going to be so great when we have everyone over for dinner.”
Trixie giggled. “To have everyone, we almost have to rent a hall as it is,” she replied with a smile. “What else is there for us to do here? I have a few ideas how we can spend the time between now and dinner,” she added, waggling her eyebrows and patting the oversized butcher block.
Jim snaked an arm around her back and pulled her to him. “I like the way you think, baby, but Lester had a question about the paneling in the library. Let’s go check it out and then we can pursue your idea,” he murmured as he placed soft kisses on her lips. Stepping back, he smiled at the soft and dreamy look on her face. Taking her hand, he drew her to the shut library door.
“Jim, why is this door up?” Trixie asked, touching the door as he opened it and pulled her into gently into the room.
“To hide this,” Jim said softly, turning her gently by the shoulders to look at the room.
“Oh my,” she gasped, eyes flicking around the room.
Even though the library wasn’t 100% finished, the room was perfectly clean. There were no all signs of construction to be seen. In the middle of the room on the floor was a quilt made from green striped mattress ticking and two large green pillows. On the built-in mantle was Jim’s antique shotgun and at the edge of the quilt was an open picnic basket, an emerald green vase of summer flowers and a green mop bucket with a bottle of Champagne resting on ice.
“Jim, when did you do this?” she asked, turning eyes bright with happy tears up to search his handsome face and deep emerald eyes.
Jim lovingly cupped her face with both hands as his thumb brushed away the single tear that tracked down her cheek from eyes shining like wet sapphires. "Happy anniversary of our meeting, Shamus,” he rasped out around the lump in his throat. “Twelve years ago today we met right here. It was the beginning of my new life. You gave me unconditional acceptance, hope, friendship and then a family to call my own.” He drew a deep breath into his lungs before he continued. “You gave me everything. You ARE my everything.”
“Oh, Jim, I love you so much,” she whispered in response. “Happy anniversary of the day that both our lives began, baby.”
As Jim captured her lips with his, their hands roamed each other slowly heating each other’s skin with fleeting touches and strong caresses.
Several minutes later, they broke apart to catch a breath of air. Trixie pressed closer to Jim and turned her head to cuddle into his collarbone.
“I love you, Trixie Belden.”
“I love you more, Jim Frayne,” she answered on a sigh. “How did you get all this done and in here?” she asked, opening her eyes and looking again around the room.
Jim idly stroked a hand softly over her hair. “Honey helped me,” he admitted quietly. “I asked her to make us a quilt and pillows for today. She laughed with such delight and the next thing I knew she had made it to look like an old mattress.” He chuckled and the happy noise echoed from under his head. “I asked her if she used money for the quilting or to stuff the pillows. She wouldn’t tell me. While we were upstairs, she delivered and set everything up for me. The text let me know she was gone and she’d locked the front door behind her.”
“Pretty sneaky, Frayne,” Trixie remarked, drawing circles on his chest with a finger. Lifting her head and hand from his chest, she pointed to the wall in front of her. “Is that paneling sticking out? It doesn’t look like it is flush with the others.”
“I don’t know, babe,” Jim replied, dropping his arms from around her as she pulled away from him. “Why don’t we go look.”
She reached the spot a few seconds before Jim and pushed the panel back against the frame. It immediately swung back toward Trixie creating a larger opening that exposed inset shelves.
Suddenly, a light appeared inside the space illuminating a reddish-brown leather ring box sitting open on a shelf. Sparkling inside the box was the diamond filigree ring Jim had left for her twelve years ago.
Questions flew through Trixie’s head. She turned to ask them and gasped when she found him on one knee behind her. Her eyes filled with wonder and tears as she watched him reach out to take the ring from the box and take her hand in his.
“Beatrix Belden, you are and always will be my world. My life started twelve years ago when I saw you in this spot,” he huskily admitted. “My first thought was ‘this is her’. Please make me and my heart complete. Will you marry me?” he asked, gazing at her with all the love in his heart shining from his dark green eyes.
Trixie’s heart and eyes overflowed with the happiness she felt through her soul. “Yes, James Winthrop Frayne the second, I want nothing more than to be your wife,” she whispered shakily as Jim slipped the ring onto her finger.
She stepped into his waiting arms and hugged him around the neck as her lips sought his. “Love you, always.”
“Forever, baby,” Jim murmured when as he pulled her closer still. “Come here and I’ll show you how much.”
This story is for our dear Joycey. She knows why.
We didn’t get the story finished in time to send to our editors so… any boo-boos are 100% ours.
If you would like to see a close-up of the antique ring look . The ring photos were used without permission but with deep respect for the absolute beauty of them from jewelryexpert.com
The story title is a variation of the chapter name “A Scream and a Dog” from The Secret of the Mansion where Trixie and Jim meet. It just seemed right for Jim and Trixie to come full circle back to where they met and to use a similar story name.
The header was created using cooltext.com
The dividers and header photo was created using MS Clipart.
The background is from onlinefabricstore.com.
Word count – main story is 3137 and the “egg” is 1539