Muted voices could be heard coming from the library as Trixie made her way down the Manor House stairs shortly before 6 p.m. She walked toward the room on a pair of black stiletto heels that sank into the deep pile rug. Trixie stopped just outside the room to check her appearance one last time in the mirror hanging in the hall. Her blonde curls flowed around the shoulders of the teal colored sweater knit dress she wore. The deep cowl neck of the dress provided a lovely frame for the necklace Jim gave her. Satisfied she looked her very best, she moved to the library doorway.

Trixie noticed Di first in a vintage Oriental cocktail dress in her signature purple. She stood with Mart's arm securely around her waist as she leaned into her fiancé's side. Mart looked handsome in navy slacks with a long sleeve plaid shirt. They were laughing and talking to Dan and his new girlfriend, Bonnie Martin. Dan was "Mr. Cool" himself, leaning against a bookcase in his black turtleneck shirt and gray slacks.

As she moved into the room toward the bar where Jim was pouring a glass of wine, Trixie looked curiously at Bonnie. Bonnie and Dan had only been dating a short time. Originally from Kentucky, Bonnie had moved to Sleepyside a year ago to be near her aging great-aunt, Miss Martin. Bonnie worked as supervisor for Westchester County's E911 office and had met Dan when he participated in a joint Police/Fire/E911 Board Task Force. Bonnie looked very pretty with her dark brown hair and green eyes. Her simple grey silk blouse and black wool slacks looked elegant on her slim figure.

Reaching Jim's side, Trixie slide her arms around his waist. "Hey, handsome. May I have a glass of red wine?"

A quiet wolf whistle passed Jim's lips. "Sweetheart, that sweater dress reminds me of that outfit you wore on Cobbett's Island, short black skirt with my sweater. Of course, my sweater didn't have a neckline like that," he said raising a ginger brow. "You can have anything you want." He turned to pour her wine.

Laughing at his silliness, Trixie turned toward the door as Brian and Honey entered the library arm-in-arm. Their dark and honey heads close together, Brian was looking at Honey intently as she walked with him. They make a very handsome couple. Trixie thought watching them talk. I hope once Brian completes his residency they can finally be in the same town together like Jim and me.

Once they had reached the bar and had given Jim their drink requests, Trixie said, "Honey, I love that stunning red dress." Trixie admired the way the satin was cut and how it clung to her friend's gentle curves. Trixie admired Honey's confidence wearing such a reveling dress, but on Honey it looked timeless.

"Brian, you look very handsome. I've never seen you in a dark green shirt," Trixie commented. "It looks really good on you," she paused for effect, "but, that is Jim's color." Trixie giggled as Jim gave her a squeeze.

Brian laughed and put his hands on the neck of the shirt, opening the top button. "OK, Trix. Here you go, Jim."

As the remaining Bob-Whites and guest joined in the laughter, Jim held up his hand. "No, Brian, you keep it. I don't want to start the New Year with your pasty white chest burning an image onto my retinas."

Just then, a loud throat-clearing cough was heard from the doorway. Everyone turned to see Ben Riker and Sally Wellington posing in the doorway. Ben had on a red t-shirt, washed out blue jeans with holes in the knees and cowboy boots. Sally was dressed in a skin-tight leopard print dress that looked like it had been painted on her. Jaws hanging open, no one knew what to say. Now, that is not a timeless look, Trixie thought to herself.

Ever tactful, Honey said, "Oh, good, everyone is here. Let's go into the dining room"

"You mean we really aren't going into the city?" Sally asked peevishly. Turning to Ben she complained, "Ben, I don't want to hang out here in the country like an old fogey. I want to go into the city to party and dance." Running her hand up and down Ben's chest, she finished her suggestion, "We could stay at your parents' penthouse in the Hart Building."

"Sure, Sally. I want to make you happy. Run and pack a bag." After Sally left the room, Ben turned to Honey and Jim. "Honey, I'm sorry to disappoint you about the party and bail out, but we really want to party in the new year with a real bang." Looking embarrassed, Ben said softly, "It's what Sally wants and I want to make her happy." Kissing Honey on the cheek and patting Jim's shoulder, Ben moved to the door before turning back toward the room. "Happy New Year everyone."

"Happy New Year, Ben," they all responded.

The conversation was low and of a general nature until they heard the front door close.

Dan looked around the room and said with a big grin, "Now this is my kind of party. Let's eat!"

Laughing, they trooped into the dining room to begin their party.

As the evening progressed, the BWGs got to know more about Bonnie and saw what a good match she was for Dan. Since Trixie, Dan, Honey, and Bonnie all had an interest in law they had a lively discussion about their studies and work. The rest of the group discussed their plans for the New Year. They laughed, danced, and talked with each other throughout the night.

As midnight approached, the couples gathered together in the middle of the room with champagne in hand. As the eldest, Brian always said the midnight toast. "Raise your glasses, please." He waited as they complied. Looking around the circle at family and friends, he said, "As this year starts, we each are traveling new paths. Whether a new job, home, a true love discovered," he paused to look at Trixie and Jim, "or a new love possibilities." He glanced at Dan and Bonnie then looked down and squeezed Honey. "Our families, friends, the community we live in, the love and faith we have in each other. We are truly blessed. To the New Year!" He finished right as the grandfather clock began to chime.

Each person lifted their glass to take a quick sip before turning to their date and gathering them close for that first kiss of the New Year.

As Jim pulled Trixie into his arms, he said softly, "Happy New Year, Shamus! Being with you and loving you makes this the start of the best year of my life. I love you." He covered her lips with his and kissed her deeply, telling her with his lips how much he loved her.

Trixie heard soft laughter as Jim lifted his lips from hers. "I love you so much, Jim," she said breathlessly as he placed his chin by her brow. "Happy New Year to you, my love."


"I never realized Twisted Sister made a Christmas album," Trixie said, trying to make conversation as Jim walked her upstairs after their relaxed New Year's Eve party broke up.

"What are you talking about, Trixie?" Jim asked distractedly as he rubbed his hand up and down her back as they walked up stairs.

"I was just talking about that last album Dan put on. It was Twisted…" Trixie never finished her statement as Jim pushed her against the landing wall and took her mouth in a passionate kiss. Trixie knew where this was leading, and she no longer cared. She knew it was important that she have 'the talk' with Jim that she promised Honey she would have, but his kiss was so convincing. If James Winthrop Frayne asked her to hold up a bank, she would. His kisses were a drug, she couldn't live without them. She wouldn't live without them.

Jim broke the kiss and leaned his forehead against hers. "What was that you were saying about Mart?" he asked.

"Wha?" Trixie muttered, flustered, her arms hanging limply at her side. Coming out of the clouds, she smirked, "Oh no, Romeo, I was talking about Dan before you..." Jim kissed her senseless again. Trixie wrapped her arms around him and ran her fingers through his dark red hair. "So that's how it's going to be, I mention Dan and you kiss me?" Trixie whispered when she'd finally gathered her thoughts.

"Well, it worked didn't it?" Jim asked with a wry smile, nibbling on her sensitive earlobe.

Trixie, emboldened by champagne, bravely grasped his hand. "My room is down the hall. Walk with me?" Trixie entwined her fingers with Jim's and continued up the stairs.

The young couple walked slowly down the carpeted hallway, stopping often to nibble and kiss on one another's lips, ears, and fingers. Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was in actuality five minutes, Jim pushed Trixie against the door to her room. His hands snaked over her ribs, up her sides and brushed against the gentle swell of her breasts. Trixie was mindless with passion. She had never felt this way. She had imagined it, but nothing in her imagination came close to this reality. Her body ached, throbbed, pulsed. She craved more.

Jim pressed himself against the gentle curves that he longed to explore for hours. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he heard a small voice telling him he needed to wait and give Trixie the time and respect she deserved. He was about to undress her in his parents' hallway. "Trixie, we've got to stop. I can't take much more of this," Jim explained against Trixie's neck. "I want you. But this isn't the right time. I want to spend hours exploring every inch of you." Jim reached behind Trixie, turned the doorknob and opened the door to her room.

Jim walked Trixie over the threshold and closed the door behind him with a silent click. He pulled Trixie into his arms and stood in the middle of the room hugging her closely. He leaned back and looked down into passion-filled blue eyes. Gently brushing the soft golden curls back from her face, Jim rained kisses along her hairline to her ear. "Trix, I think I should leave," Jim said huskily, "while I still can."

Trixie pulled out of his embrace. "Would you mind waiting a minute?" she asked hesitantly. Trixie walked to the bathroom and closed the door. She walked to the sink and ran water on a wash cloth to sooth her burning cheeks. We need to stop, right? But we're grown adults. I love him. What better way to show him I love him?
Trixie rationalized to herself. She quickly changed out of her sweater dress and slipped into her bathrobe. She belted it tightly and opened the door to the room.

Jim had kicked off his shoes and was reclined on the bed. His arms were behind his head and his eyes were closed. Trixie walked silently across the thick rose-colored carpet. As she approached the bed, she heard the soft snores that told her the most wonderful boy in the world was asleep. Trixie pulled the throw off the end of the bed and lovingly covered Jim with the soft fleece. She gently kissed his forehead and reached over to turn the bedside light off.

Trixie walked back into the bathroom and put on her pajamas. She quickly brushed her teeth and washed her face. When she was finished, she walked back into the room, climbed onto the other side of the bed, and crawled under the covers. Trixie turned on her side and stared at Jim as he slept. His faced was relaxed in sleep and Trixie could still see the fifteen-year-old runaway she had first met. Trixie looked upward, thought for a moment and then whispered softly, as not to wake Jim, "Rabbit, Rabbit." She knew her wish would come true.


Still in a twilight sleep, Trixie twitched as something tickled her foot. She kicked her foot to try and stop the slight annoyance. There it was again. Trixie sat up abruptly, finding Jim gently running his index finger up the arch of her left foot. She was about to protest when she remembered. "Rabbit, Rabbit," Trixie said groggily.

"Rabbit, Rabbit? You've called me lots of different things over the years but never rabbit." Jim waggled his eyebrows at her. Jim was twisted so he was now facing the foot of the bed, lying on his side, leaning up on his elbow looking at his sleep-rumpled sweetheart. "Um, baby, your toe nails are pink. Did you know that?"

Trixie pulled her foot from his grasp and tucked it back under the covers. "It's not nice to pick on someone who's sleeping. You snore," Trixie retorted.

"You kick off your covers," Jim countered with a lazy smile. "And you still haven't explained your pink toes, or calling me rabbit."

She pulled her legs under her and sat up, looking embarrassed. "Rabbit, Rabbit is something my grams taught me about. You make a wish and say it before you go to sleep on the last night of the month," she explained quietly. "When you wake up, you say 'Rabbit, Rabbit' again before you say anything else. And your wish will come true."

Jim reached up under the covers and grabbed Trixie's foot. He pulled it back toward him and gently massaged it. "What did you wish for sweetheart?"

"I can't tell you. It won't come true," Trixie said, looking down and chewing on her bottom lip. "May I have my foot back?" Jim continued to rub her foot. Trixie was trying to focus. "Umm, I have, I have to get up and, umm, get myself together. I've got to, umm, check in with work today."

"Only because you are an official officer of the law again, starting today, and I don't want you to arrest me, I'm going to give you back your foot. But I reserve the right to snatch it again." Jim let go of her left foot and sat up. He turned to face her, running a hand through his disheveled hair. "Shamus, why'd you let me sleep? You could have woken me up or kicked me out."

"You looked so relaxed. And, well, honestly Jim I want to be with you in every way possible," she continued bravely, "but I'm not sure we're there yet. There's still so much we need to do, and know, and experience. Even though I've known you almost half my life, we've only been dating three weeks. I don't want us to rush into anything," Trixie said honestly, looking directly at Jim with cautious eyes, hoping her frankness didn't scare him.

Jim kept his eyes locked on the sapphire ones he loved so dearly. "Trixie, you are too important to me to rush you into anything. When we are both ready, we'll talk about it, and make those decisions together." He had moved up the bed as he said this, and was now sitting facing Trixie. He took her face between his hands and placed gentle, soft kisses on her lips. "I love you. Happy New Year, baby. I loved waking up with you."

Trixie shifted her hips and pushed Jim over onto the bed, and leaned on top of him. She ran her fingers through his hair and kissed him deeply. "Handsome, I loved waking up with you, too. But if you tell anyone about my pink toes, I'll have to handcuff you."

Jim quirked an eyebrow at that suggestion. "Yeah, gonna have to tell Mart about your toes, it tops my list of things to do today. Are you bringing your cuffs home tonight?"

Trixie grabbed the pillow from under Jim's head and jokingly placed it over his face. She jumped up from the bed and dashed across the room. Jim removed the pillow from his face, sat up, and looked at Trixie in her flannel pajamas. "Cute jammies," he leered comically with a waggle of his brow. Jim got up and moved to follow her across the room.

Trixie stopped him in the middle of the room with a raised hand. "Hold it right there, Jim," she said as she pointed toward the hallway. "You need to scoot and get out now before Honey or, God forbid, my brothers come looking for you," Trixie reminded him with concern. Smiling sweetly at him before she went into the bathroom, she continued, "I should be home early today. I just have to make sure my supervisor has my paperwork. I'll call you later."

"You'd better. Now be quiet while I open the door and see if the coast is clear." Jim crept toward the door, opened it a crack and peered into the hallway. "All clear, I love you, Shamus." Jim walked out and shut the door behind him.

Trixie put her arms around herself and hugged. "Happy Happy New Year to me!!"


With her hands-free device activated, Honey called Trixie's cell phone, hoping to finally catch up with her. It had been two days since their party and Honey was due to head back to school soon. She wanted to see how Trixie's new office in White Plains was. Three rings, and Honey was about to disconnect, when she heard, "Hello, wait a minute." Followed by a bang and a thud that Honey recognized as Trixie tripping over something and splatting onto the floor.

"Oof! Hello?" Trixie's voice cracked. "Are you still there?"

"Trix? Are you OK?" Honey asked smiling. "What did you trip on this time?"

"My briefcase. I should have put it in my home office as soon as I got home. You don't mind if I just lay here on the floor and talk to you, do you?" Trixie groaned. "Now I ache all over. You'd think I would have outgrown my clumsy phase."

"Oh, Trix, poor thing. Focus on something positive. Tell me all about your new office in White Plains," Honey said, trying to distract her friend.

"Honey, the office and the people are great. I really like them. There are six fulltime agents in the office and three research technicians. I will be working with one of the senior agents looking at New York State cold case files. The bureau chief wants some new eyes to look at them to see if we notice anything new. I can't wait to start looking," Trixie explained, her voice gaining in excitement as she told her friend about her new office.

"That sounds terrific. I'm glad it's going to work out. You sound so much happier than you did last week. I take it you had your talk with Jim?" Honey asked.

"Well, not exactly. I mean, we've talked, but not about my silly fears. I promise I will. Last night was so relaxed, it truly slipped my mind," Trixie admitted.

Honey turned into the Manor House driveway. "What did you two do last night?"

"Jim took me to The Dairy Barn for milkshakes, 'eight maids a-milking'. Luckily, we only had the one shake. After the seven rubber duckies, I was afraid I might have to drink eight milkshakes. Just because I'm Mart's 'almost twin' doesn't mean I can do that," she laughed.

As Trixie had been talking, Honey pulled up into the garage. She got out of the car, walked over to the open stable door, and watched as Jim groomed Jupiter. She leaned against the doorway. "So, do you know what you are doing tonight? It would be 'nine ladies dancing', right?"

"Jim hasn't given me any hints, and you know I've asked. I think I've got this one figured out. I saw a brochure for the Empire Ballroom in Jim's SUV," Trixie continued, channeling her fashion minded friends. "So, I think I'll wear my swirly black skirt, the ones with the crystals stitched randomly. Do you think I should wear my silver wrap top or the cashmere sweater we bought last Christmas at Crimpers?"

"Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?" Honey joked. "Did you hit your head when you fell? You're starting to sound like Diana. I am so proud. Wear the cashmere." By this time, Jim had glanced up to notice Honey in the doorway.

He walked over to Honey and pointed to the phone. "Trixie?" he mouthed. Honey nodded yes. "Are you two plotting?" he whispered.

"Hey, Trix, I've got to go. I just pulled up. I've got to carry in all the dry cleaning and start packing to go back to school. Call me later and tell me everything. I hope you have a wonderful time dancing. Bye!" Honey disconnected from the call and looked up at her brother. "Dancing, huh? Since when have you ever willingly gone dancing?" Jim quirked an eyebrow at his younger sister, not saying a word aloud. "Oh my goodness, Jim, you planted a clue for her to find! That's evil! I love it. What are you going to do?"

"Promise not to tell?" Jim asked. Honey crossed her heart and held up her right hand as if to say, 'I swear.' "OK, we're going to go for a ride through the preserve on Jupe and Lady. Not exactly, 'nine ladies dancing', but I'm running out of ideas. Do you think it'll work?" Jim questioned nervously.

Honey pictured Trixie in her full skirt and cashmere sweater on Lady. "Bareback would be sexier," Honey stated and she walked away.


Jim paced nervously along the length of the Manor House stable. Periodically, he stopped to look out the window for any sign of the SUV Tom Delanoy drove to runs errands. He had enlisted Tom to pick up Trixie as part of his plans for their "ninth day of Christmas" date. As he made the next pass by the horses, Susie nickered and poked her head over the stall door.

Jim walked over and rubbed a hand gently on her forehead. "Susie, girl, I know you think me being nervous is funny but I can't help it." He put his forehead against her, continuing, "This is just so important to me. I need to show Trixie how much I love her and need her in my life." Straightening, Jim reached out to rub Susie's cheek. "She's the most wonderful girl in the world."

"Talking to the horses again, Jim?" Regan chuckled as he entered the stable. Stopping by the office door, the redheaded groom tilted his head to look at Jim. Crooking an eyebrow over mischievous eyes, Regan teased him, "Gee, Jim, do you think she might run off with Tom? I'm pretty sure she has a thing for redheads. Maybe I should ask her out."

Jim body visibly tensed as his eyes snapped up to look at Regan. Seeing the teasing look in Regan's eyes, Jim relaxed. Placing fists on his hips in a stance that was exactly like one of Regan's own, Jim stepped away from the stall. "Regan, if I have a redhead to worry about--," he paused giving Regan a fierce look, "I'm pretty sure it's Dad. He's rich."

Regan's eyes narrowed briefly, right before he burst out laughing along with Jim.

"Jim, if there is anything I know for a fact, Trixie Belden does not have a mercenary bone in her body," Regan smiled. As he walked to the stairs leading to his apartment, Regan said over his shoulder, "Make sure you take care of the horses when you get back, Lover-boy." Laughing heartily, he hurried up the stairs.

"You think you are so funny, Regan," Jim scoffed, running his hand around his neck. Pacing to the window again, Jim looked out the window hoping to see a black SUV.

Susie nickered.

"You can say that again, Susie," Jim agreed.


In the SUV heading to the Manor House, after exchanging pleasantries about the health of family, Trixie quizzed Tom. "Do you know why Jim asked you to pick me up, Tom?" she asked as she straightened the flowing black skirt around her legs.

Tom turned the SUV expertly onto Glen Road. Glancing at Trixie from the corner of his eye, he answered, "All I know is he was running behind and asked me to pick you up on the way back from going to the post office for Margery. He had been working at the house listing ideas for his school before meeting with the architects and engineers."

Seeing her look toward Crabapple Farm probably to see whose cars were there, Tom continued, "We'll be at the Manor House in just a minute."

Making one last turn into the drive, Tom pulled the SUV into the garage.

Trixie opened the door and hopped down on her black pumps. Looking at the other vehicles, she noticed that Jim's SUV wasn't in his usual spot. Disappointed that Jim wasn't back yet, she walked to the stable door. As she turned the handle, she told Tom, "I think I'll go see Susie for a few minutes before I come in to wait for Jim. Will you tell Celia or Ms. Trask so they can let him know in case he gets back before I come in?"

"Sure, Trixie," Tom told her with a wave as he hurried toward the house.

Turning to enter the stable, Trixie closed the door behind her. She crossed to Regan's office refrigerator and pulled out two carrots. Breaking the carrot into pieces as she walked along, she moved to each stall to pat the horses and feed them a piece. As she neared Susie's stall, Trixie noticed that Jupiter and Lady were tied to the cross-tie line. Each horse had a bridle and blanket on but no saddle.

Trixie looked around the stable with a frown. Reaching Susie she said, "Susie, where is everyone? Who is crazy enough to leave Jupiter and Lady like that? Regan will kill them." Rubbing Susie's forehead, Trixie felt more than heard someone approach.

"Good afternoon, Shamus," Jim said softly. "You look absolutely lovely." He placed his hands on her shoulder and started nibbling her neck. "I'm sorry I couldn't pick you up," he continued softly. "Are you ready to go?" As he finished speaking, he turned her in his arms and kissed her tenderly.

"Yes, love, whenever you are," Trixie replied as she snuggled into his chest. "Don't you need to change?" she asked as she rubbed his back and discovered he had on his new barn coat.

"Nope. I'm ready," Jim responded as he let her pull away slightly. His eyes bright as he thought of his surprise, Jim informed her, "Sweetie, you need to change out of your good coat and put this on." He reached over and picked a beautiful dark blue wool cape of a peg next to the stall.

Stepping back in astonishment, Trixie asked with a frown, "Jim Frayne, what are you up to?"

Moving next to Trixie, Jim laid a hand along her face. "Our date today is going to be one of romance," he said watching her face. "We are taking Jupe and Lady for a short bareback ride and a picnic. The cape is to keep you warm as we ride."

"But, Jim," Trixie objected with a scowl. "I'm not dressed for a ride. I have on a long skirt and high heels. How am I supposed to ride Lady? You have on black jeans and a flannel shirt with your boots. You'll stay warm," she advanced on him with her hands fluttering. "And you know Regan will have a fit when he finds out."

Jim grinned his heart-melting crooked smile. Working the buttons of her coat open with quick hands, Jim kissed her swiftly to stop her from talking. "Shamus, it's all cleared with Regan. We aren't going far, it's still light out and I have my cell phone with me. As for staying warm," he paused as he slipped her coat off her arms. "You will have your new cape," he slowly wrapped it around her and fastened each of the knot and loop closures.

"And you have these," he said. Kneeling down Jim reached out and pulled the black Uggs away from the stall gate. Looking adoringly at Trixie, he lifted her skirt and picked up her right foot. With a caress, Jim removed her black pump just a fairy tale prince and replaced it with the calf high boot. His eyes never left Trixie's face as he worked his magic to change the other shoe.

Rising up, Jim gathered Trixie's shoes and coat, moving to place them in the stable office.

Returning to her side, Jim smiled slowly, took her hand and walked her to where the horses were tied.

Jim and Trixie untied the horses and led them out of the stable to the mounting steps. Trixie giggled as Jim helped her mount Lady. By the time he helped her arrange her skirt and cape comfortably around her legs, they were both laughing.

Trixie took the reins and moved Lady to one side so Jim could mount Jupiter using the steps.

"Jim, you know I've never ridden like this. It seems strange," Trixie squirmed on Lady's back trying to feel secure. Lady side-stepped at the unusual weight and feel of a rider with no saddle.

"Let's get moving, babe. Maybe Lady will calm down once we are underway," Jim set Jupiter into a walk with an easy grace.

As the ride progressed, Trixie became more comfortable riding without a saddle. "Do you think we could try to trot?" she asked Jim.

"Do you feel OK enough to try it?" Jim said, watching her ride with apparent skill.

"You'll pick me up when I fall, right?" Trixie grinned and urged Lady into a trot.

"Always," Jim whispered to himself. "Take a left at the next fork, Trix," Jim directed. "We're picnicking at the old schoolhouse. I promise you no birdseed porridge," he laughed.

Trixie, laughing and riding with the golden curls, cape and skirt billowing out behind her was one of the most beautiful sights that Jim had ever seen. He smiled and let Jupiter lengthen his stride to catch up to her.

As they reached the clearing around the old school, Trixie noticed the smoke from the chimney. Turning to look over her shoulder, she admonished with a grin, "You sneak! You have a fire going in the old stove."

Jim leaned over and tugged Lady's reins to bring Trixie close. "Did you really think I'd let you get cold?" Jim asked as his lips touched hers. As he nipped at her lower lip, he whispered, "I have many ways to make you warm, my dear." Waggling his brows at her, he brought his leg over Jupiter's neck and slid to the ground.

Taking Trixie's reins, Jim moved Lady and Jupiter to a mounting hitch Mr. Maypenny had installed to tie Spartan on when he picked up feed from the school. Walking to Lady's side, Jim raised his arms to lift Trixie off the horse. Letting her drift down into his arms, Jim kissed her deeply.

Breaking apart for air, Jim pressed his forehead to Trixie's. Between breaths he said, "We'd better have our picnic. Even though Regan is OK with us being out for a short while bareback, I promised him that I wouldn't leave the horses standing for more than half an hour."

Grabbing Jim's hand and pulling him toward the school, Trixie answered, "Then we'd better get to picnicking."

As she opened the door, Trixie stopped dead in her tracks. Inside the schoolhouse was a red checked blanket on the floor. On top of the blanket was a picnic basket complete with two champagne glasses and a bottle of sparkling grape juice. Soft music was coming from the CD player leaning against the basket.

"Oh, Jim." Trixie turned to press a kiss on his welcoming lips. "This is wonderful."

Once they were inside, Jim shut the door and helped Trixie out of her cape. He hung both the cape and his coat on the pegs by the door.

Following Trixie to the blanket and sitting down beside her, Jim poured them each a glass of juice as Trixie open the basket to reveal some of her favorite foods: fried chicken, a small container of potato salad, fruit, cheese and chocolate cake.

Jim handed Trixie a glass and lifted his in toast. Looking at her beautiful face, he said, "To us and our future. I love you, my darling."

"To us. I love you so very much, Jim," Trixie replied. Clinking glasses together, they lifted them and took a sip.

"As much as I would love to sit here and take hours to nibble you and the food," Jim said with a mock leer, "I don't want to get Regan mad at us."

Sticking out her tongue at Jim, Trixie retorted, "Scaredy cat. Regan's a big pussycat. But, if you are going to be a wimp--" Before she could finish, Jim grabbed her and started tickling her at her most vulnerable spots.

"Stop! Stop! Please Jim," Trixie begged as she tried to get away from Jim.

Grabbing both of Trixie's wrists, Jim leaned over her and hovered his lips over hers. "What will you give me to stop?" he asked. He stared at her blue eyes and glanced at her lips again.

Trixie rose up and captured his lips. Jim let go of her wrists to run his hand down the side of her face. Kissing each other fiercely, his hand strayed along her side to her waist. Jim was oblivious to how long the kiss lasted. Breathlessly, he flopped onto his back and gathered her to his side.

Playing with a curl laying on her shoulder, Jim kissed her forehead and sighed. "Baby, I think we should probably finish and get the horses back to Regan. Then we can go back to your place and curl up on the couch and snuggle."

Rising up on one arm, Trixie placed her hand on Jim's face. Rubbing her nose against his for a few seconds, Trixie murmured, "I love you, Mr. Honorable. I like your plan. Let's eat." She placed a smacking kiss on his lips and sat up.

Jim chuckled as he sat up and accepted the plate of food Trixie had prepared.

The couple sat leaning close to one another, feeding each other small bits of food, fruit and cheese while talking of the challenges of riding bareback and possible plans for later in the week.

Once their cake was consumed, Trixie packed away the leftovers and trash into the basket. Jim damped down the remaining fire in the stove so it wouldn't be a hazard.

When he was done and turned to look at his special girl, she was sitting on the blanket with her legs straight out in front of her smacking her feet together.

"I love my Uggs. Thank you, Jim. They are keeping my feet toasty warm," she said with a silly grin on her face.

Walking over and taking her hands, Jim pulled her up into a hug. "Sweetheart, you are adorable," he chuckled then kissed the top of her head. "Come on, let's go,"

Donning their outerwear, they picked up the basket and blanket before heading outside.

After using the mounting hitch, the ride home was spent talking about their past rides, finding Mr. Maypenny and Trixie thinking he was a poacher.

As they neared the stable, Jim said, "Hey, Trix. Hold up." Leaning over he pulled Lady's rein to bring them in close to him and Jupe. When Trixie was close enough, he snaked out his arm and pulled her onto Jupe in front of him.

Trixie sat in front of Jim with a surprised look on her face and her jaw dropped. Jim swooped in and kissed her with fiery passion.

Raising his head, Jim urged Jupiter ahead and led Lady to the stable entrance. Trixie laughed quietly, pecked Jim on the lips and slipped off Jupiter's back to the ground.

Jim was smiling broadly when he dismounted and brought both horses into the stable. "Sweetheart, you just sit over there and talk to me while I groom the horses." Jim winked at her. "You look too pretty to be working on the horses."

Trixie giggled as she grabbed the blanket off of Lady. "Uh, Jim, I just rode a horse with just a saddle blanket." Lifting an eyebrow at Jim she continued, "I don't think that a little more horse smell is going to hurt me." With a toss of her curls, she picked up Jupiter's blanket, too. Giggling madly, she carried them to put them away.

Jim laughed heartily at his girl. Brushing down Jupiter with a curry comb, Jim started whistling 'The Dock of the Bay'.

When Trixie returned from the tack room to groom Lady, her soft whistle joined Jim's in perfect harmony.

Once the horses were groomed, Trixie returned the remaining tack to the tack room while Jim put Jupiter and Lady in their stalls.

Trixie stood leaning against an open stall gate as Jim returned the horses to their stalls and fed them each half a carrot.

As Jim moved toward Trixie, his eyes took on an ornery gleam. Backing away, Trixie said, holding her hands out in front of her, "Jim, you aren't going to do anything crazy are you?"

Suddenly, Jim gently tackled Trixie into a fresh pile of hay. Wrapping his giggling girlfriend in his arms, his devilish eyes shining, he inquired, "You did want a roll in the hay with me, right?" Kissing her with a loud smack on her lips, he kept making the smacking noise as he tickled and kissed her.

Trixie was giggling wildly and trapped in Jim's arms when a deep voice was heard. "Just what in the Sam Hill are you two doing that is scaring the horses so badly?"

Trixie peeked over Jim's shoulder at Regan who was standing in the stall doorway.

Turning his head to look over his shoulder, Jim said, "Just giving Trixie a roll in the hay." Just then he felt a small fist punch him in the shoulder.

"Jim!" Trixie exclaimed blushing furiously. Shoving Jim off of her, straightening her skirt and standing quickly, Trixie embarrassedly removed hay from her clothes. "Regan, we're sorry if we were upsetting the horses. We know better don't we, Jim?" she said, looking at him for agreement.

Jim stood and placed his arm around Trixie, giving her a gentle squeeze and looking lovingly at her. Returning his eyes to Regan he confirmed with a broad grin, "Yeah, Regan, we are sorry. We were just horsing around. Oof!" he exclaimed from an elbow to his stomach.

Rubbing his stomach he tried again. "Sorry, Regan. Sorry, Shamus." He hugged her tightly and winked at her dazzling blue eyes.

Hugging him back, Trixie smiled at Jim before turning her brilliance on Regan. "I think we'll be heading out now, Regan, so that we stop upsetting you and the horses. Thank you for letting us have our special ride today." Moving out from Jim's arm, she bestowed a quick kiss on Regan's cheek.

Regan's eyes twinkled bright green as he raised his arm and pointed to the door. "OK, you two. Get out of here. I'll take the basket in to Cook for you. Now get!"

Trixie moved quickly to the office to get her coat and shoes. Jim grabbed her hand as she came out and hurried to the door. "Thanks, Regan!" they called as they ran toward the garage.




Author's Notes

Part 2: 6,641 words

Smush Sisters notes:

Thanks to our editors, Pam, Donnis, WendyM, and BonnieH. Any typos, runs, hits or errors are all by the Smush Sisters and not these lovely ladies who try to save us from ourselves. We are comma illiterate. We apologize for ahead of time for using them incorrectly.

Extra special thanks to BonnieH for taking us in when we wrote this story.  Thanks for giving us a great start and helping us.

Story Stuff:

We have no idea if there's an ice cream parlor called The Dairy Barn in New York, but ours is imaginary and we're happy to sell the rights to it, too.

These things are fact:

Uggs are generally boots that have furry warm stuff inside.

Dock of the Bay is
a great song by Otis Redding.

Twisted Sister is a hair band, extremely popular in the 80's. They really did do a Christmas album. Dee Snyder was on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to promote it. You can't make this stuff up.

Things that inspired us, we are getting no money from them, but they nudged us and you are welcome to check them out!


     Trixie's, Honey’s and Di’s New Year's Eve dress

Background tile is from Hellas Multimedia.