Wedding of the Century

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Chapter 2

The ride home from the restaurant was full of music and giggles at the six women found a 60's station on the satellite radio system. Honey steered her mother's SUV up the driveway to a rousing chorus of Joy to the World by Three Dog Night. She marveled at the group in the vehicle. She'd never seen her mother let loose like this. If thirteen year old me could see Mother and me now, Honey thought to herself. She shook her head when she remembered how she and her mother had not had a very close relationship before they moved into the Manor House. After she pulled to a stop inside the garage, the station mentioned another Supremes song.

The mothers and daughters piled out of the SUV laughing, humming and singing quietly. As they exited the garage, they looked up to see six amused men standing in front of them on the patio. Each man had a big smile on his face as they stood in amazement observing the giggling women; their arms crossed over their chests.

"Methinks the females have imbibed too much fermented spirits," Mart said in an aside to Jim and Brian.

"What do you think they have up their collective sleeves?" Brian asked.

Maddie signaled to her companions and they formed a huddle. Loud whispering was heard from the group and periodically one of the women would raise their head to eye the men. Finally, the women assumed a line where they each stood directly opposite one of the men.

Trixie winked at Jim and blew him a kiss then set her hands on her hips like the other women.

Trixie, Honey, Di, Helen, Maddie and Carolyn began rocking from foot to foot. Maddie counted out, "One, two, three..."

Each woman raised their right hand as they broke into song. "Oooooo, baby love, my baby love. I need you, oh, how I need you. But all you do is treat me bad. Break my heart and leave me sad. Tell me what did I do wrong. To make you stay away so long. Cause baby love, my baby love. Been missing you. Miss kissing you. Instead of breakin' up. Let's have some kissin' and makin' up. Don't throw our love away. In my arms you're gonna stay. Need you, need you. Ooooh, baby love…."

As they began to sing, the women moved forward until they were each in front of their husband, fiancé, boyfriend or friend. Trixie's blue eyes were locked onto Jim's as she ran her hands slowly up Jim's chest and clasped her hands behind his neck.

Jim wrapped his arms around Trixie, pulling her close. His green eyes darkened as she murmured the last word right as their lips touched in a deep kiss.

Meanwhile, Honey stood with her hands tentatively on Brian's chest looking into his brown eyes with shyly questioning hazel ones. Her heart was beat rapidly as she moved her gaze from Brian's eyes to his lips. Glancing toward her friends and even their parents, Honey wished that it was she and Brian kissing like the others were. Returning her gaze to Brian's solemn eyes, she noticed him glance at her lips. She licked them and saw a flicker cross his eyes as he continued to stare. Thinking to herself, I can always blame the kiss on the wine from lunch, right? Honey moved closer and was just about to kiss him when her cell phone trilled out the Flight of the Bumble Bee to indicate a call.

Honey jumped, startled, and reluctantly looked away from the intensity in Brian's eyes. Pulling the phone out of her pocket, Honey glanced at the caller ID and answered, "Hello." A few seconds later, she said again, "Hello?" Once more she said, "Hello?!"

Looking at the phone, concerned, Honey snapped it shut.

"Wrong number?" Brian asked curiously; frowning at the missed opportunity to kiss Honey.

"I thought I heard a noise or breathing but no one answered when I said hello," Honey replied, still looking at her phone.

Hysterical giggling broke out from behind Honey. She turned and saw Mr. Belden pick up Mrs. Belden in a fireman's lift before striding toward the front door. Shocked, Honey's jaw dropped open as she saw her father pick up her mother and Mr. Lynch swing his wife up in his arms before heading the same way.

"Well, gents, I don't believe we should permit our paternal forbearers to vanquish us," Mart said, glancing at Jim and Brian.

"I agree," Jim announced, tossing Trixie over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and patting her on the bottom. "This is mighty convenient, Mart."

Mart swept Diana up in his arms. "James, I concur that smacking my sister to assure her acquiescence is applicable, but my fair Diana deserves better behavior," he informed with a quick kiss to her lips.

"Jim Frayne, you put me down," Trixie demanded slapping him on the butt. "Hey, Di, this is convenient, too. I get to look at his butt," Trixie crowed with a big grin.

"Let's go, woman," Jim commanded. Turning he quirked his brow at Brian and asked, "Are you joining us?" A broad smile appeared on Jim's face before laughter bubbled from him. He winked then turned to march toward the house.

Brian, not to be outdone, scooped Honey up in his arms. "Shall we?" he asked politely with a twinkle in his eyes and a chuckle.

Surprised, Honey laughed and replied, "I'd be delighted."

Smiling happily, Mart and Brian carried Di and Honey into the house.

***

Brian entered the den with Honey in his arm and where everyone else had gathered. Setting her gently onto her feet, they moved to join their families who were near the bar for drinks to be prepared by Matt and served. Everyone was laughing and talking about the ladies' performance.

As Honey reached for her glass of wine, her cell phone rang again. Answering, she glanced at the caller ID with a frown on her face, "Hello." A few seconds later, she said again gruffly, "Hello?" Once more she said, "Hello?!"

Finally, she heard a whispered voice say, "You shouldn't throw yourself at men. That's trashy behavior. You're supposed to be a lady, not a cheap tart."

Honey glanced at Trixie before turning away from the group. Trixie moved quietly up beside her and leaned in to listen to the caller. "Who are you? What right do you have to talk to me this way?"

The whispered voice said, "I'm the man for you. You need to act like it and not throw yourself at unworthy men." Click. The line went dead.

Trixie frowned at Honey as she snapped the phone closed. Lifting a brow as a signal, Trixie called across the room to her boyfriend, "Jim, Honey and I will be back in a minute. She wants to show me a case she's been working on."

"OK, Shamus, hurry back," Jim replied with a smile.

Trixie and Honey ran upstairs to Honey's bedroom where they shut the door before sitting on the bed.

"Tell me about the phone calls," Trixie ordered, grabbing the notepad from Honey's bedside table.

As Honey explained the two calls she had just received, Trixie made notes and asked clarifying questions to determine if there were any other identifying noises Honey might have heard.

"Let's see your phone," Trixie requested, holding out her hand. When Honey handed her the phone, Trixie checked the call log and detail, noting the number and call times. "Who are these other numbers?" she asked, handing the phone back to Honey. She removed the pages from the pad and put them into her pocket.

"The first number is Jared Baxter, he's my professor," Honey explained. "David Lee Roberts is the other call. He was a grad assistant in one of my classes and he works at the same law office where I'm interning part-time this semester."

Trixie turned her head to look at Honey. "Based on what you told me the caller said, I don't think the call was meant for you. I wouldn't worry about it, but to be on the safe side I'll check it out Monday at work. OK?" Trixie sat back up. "Now, let's go see what the guys are up to," Trixie said. Giggling, she grabbed Honey's hand and tugged her out the door and down the stairs, where Jim and Brian waited.

***

"We were just getting ready to come get you," Jim said, picking Trixie up off the last step and gathered her to him. "I missed you," he murmured, kissing her softly.

"Frayne, if it wasn't my sister, I'd tell you to get a room," Brian said with a laugh, taking Honey's hand as she took the last stair. "Why don't you put Trixie down and let her walk herself?" Brian asked as they moved toward the den.

Jim walked along behind them, still carrying Trixie clutched to his strong, muscled chest, her feet dangling inches above the ground. As he placed kisses along Trixie's jaw making her giggle, Jim answered, "It's much more fun to carry her."

"Damn, Jim, are you afraid she'll run away?" Mart asked from his position against the doorway to the den.

"Martin Belden, mind your language!" Helen's voice was heard coming from inside the room.

Jim gently set Trixie down on the floor but kept his arms around her. Trixie snuggled into Jim's chest and looked at Mart, sticking her tongue out. "I'll never run away. I like it right here," she sighed happily.

"I like having you here," Jim murmured, squeezing Trixie tightly as he tucked her head under his chin.

"Kids, come on and join us," Matt called out.

As they entered the den, they each picked up their drinks from the bar where Matt was still standing. Jim pulled Trixie down beside him on the loveseat, as everyone settled in their seats around the room.

"How was everyone's day?" Matthew asked as he walked out from behind the bar and handed Peter a fresh beer.

"Well," Trixie started with a giggle, kicking off her shoes before tucking her feet under her. "I think that Maddie should describe the bridesmaid dresses." She looked over at Moms and winked, as all the other women started laughing.

Maddie playfully glared at Trixie before saying, "The taste displayed today by the bride and her mother was all in their mouths. They picked the most awful dress that I have ever seen. Honey has to wear this glow-in-the-dark green mermaid dress with yellow beads all over the front. I've never seen anything like it in my entire life."

"I agree it's horrid," Carolyn confirmed with a snicker. "I'm just grateful that Diana has dark hair."

"What does Diana's hair have to do with anything? Why just Honey? What are you talking about?" Matt asked confused, sharing a befuddled look with the other men.

Honey pouted and then stuck her tongue out at Trixie and Diana. "It's like this, Daddy," Honey explained. "Sally only wants blonde bridesmaids. She wants them to all to wear their hair in a chignon and wear this bright green dress that is truly terrible." Shifting on the couch to move a little closer to Brian, Honey added, "As Mother described it, I'll look like a glow-in-the-dark mermaid that has been swimming in a toxic waste dump."

"But I still don't understand," Jim said with a frown. "Why isn't Trixie a bridesmaid? She has beautiful blonde hair." He tugged on his curl with a smile, and then glanced around the room.

Trixie broke out in giggles again. "Sally feels like my hair is too unruly and would never go into the Stepford wives chignon that she wants all the bridesmaids to wear for the wedding. She feels like I should just be an 'honored guest'," Trixie announced with a roll of her eyes.

"What!!" Jim exclaimed; his face reddening. "Baby, you have beautiful soft hair. What is that goofy woman talking about?" Jim ranted.

"Oh, Jim," Trixie soothed, as she ran her hand along his arm. "I'm not upset or insulted at all. I don't have to wear that extremely ugly dress so that makes me very, very happy." Leaning up she kissed Jim softly on the cheek. "Diana has been drafted to be in charge of the guest book. That leaves Honey as the only BWG female still in the wedding party and she couldn't actually pass because she is the groom's cousin."

The men sat stunned for a minute before all of them started talking at once.

"You mean that I have to dress up and be in this thing without you?" Jim growled.

"Fair lady, please don't tell me I have to don a monkey suit for these people and you won't be across the aisle from me," Mart groused.

"Well, at least I have my favorite lady Bob-White across the aisle," Brian smiled at Honey as he patted her leg. Blushing, Honey smiled sweetly back at Brian.

"I perceive great injustice," Mart said fiercely. "Brian and I have to dress up in a monkey suit and only Dan, Jim and Honey will have to dress formally with us." Placing his hand on Diana's shoulder he announced, "This just sucks!"

Everyone looked at him with their mouths open before breaking out in laughter.

"I don't think this is funny," Mart growled with a twinkle in his blue eyes. "You just . . . quit . . .stop laughing this instant," he stuttered, before cracking up himself.

Once the laughter died down, Trixie took Jim's hand and said, "I was hoping Ben would chicken out but he did ask and you guys agreed to be a part of the wedding party today?"

"Yes," Brian responded. "He asked all of us to be in it. Even Dan. So there are the five of us in the wedding party. We're supposed to meet Monday afternoon at the tailor shop for our fittings."

"Well, in that case," Trixie said slowly, waiting for all attention to be on her. "Sally has decided the colors that the groom and groomsmen are wearing." She paused to squeeze Jim's hand and looked apologetically at the rest of the men. "The groom will wear an 80's era short jacket tuxedo with a white ruffled shirt. Ben will have a yellow cummerbund and his bow tie will match the color of the bridesmaid dresses." After she looked around the room again to gauge the reaction to Ben's attire, Trixie softly finished, "The groomsmen will wear the same type of tux with a yellow satin shirt and the green tie with a green cummerbund." She looked at Jim and her brothers to see the shock and disgust on their faces.

"You have got to be kidding me," Jim said gruffly, running his hand through his thick auburn red hair. "There is no way I can wear those colors. I'll look like a clown with my red hair."

"Sweetie, it was actually worse until we spoke up," Trixie said with a frown on her face. "Sally actually wanted anyone who wasn't a blonde to bleach their hair. I told her that you were not bleaching a hair on your head, at least not while I was your girlfriend. She then had the audacity to tell me that one of her bridesmaids would be happy to take my place."

"What!" Jim roared. "I have absolutely no desire to participate in this fiasco!" Standing, Jim paced around the loveseat muttering.

Maddie stood and placed a hand on Jim's shoulder. "Jim, dear, please don't work yourself up over this. You don't have to participate and neither does Honey. You both have the choice to just sit in the pews and watch the wedding from there. Ben will understand," Maddie said with conviction.

"But, Mother, I've already told Ben that I'd do it. Luckily, I'm just a groomsman. One of his frat buddies is the best man," Jim said grumpily.

"I think you guys should just take a regular suit and change into it for the reception," Honey advised. "That's my plan. I'm taking a dress to wear." Looking at Di and Trixie, Honey rolled her eyes and said sarcastically, "I don't think I'm going to be able to walk down the aisle anyway. I'll probably just fall over and roll down it."

"I think all of you should all bring your own clothes to wear to the reception," Helen agreed. Quirking an eye at Maddie, she added, "I can't wait to see what they have in store for us at the rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception."

"Oh, no!" Maddie exclaimed, drawing gasps and shocked looks from everyone in the room. "I forgot about the damn dog," she dropped her head into her hands. She started making sobbing noises while her shoulders shook.

Matt rushed to his wife's side, as the rest of the women started laughing. Jim stared at the women as they laughed callously at his mother's tears. "Trixie, what's so funny? Mother is obviously upset and crying. That's just mean," Jim looked at her with questioning eyes.

Wiping away the tears streaming down her face from laughing, Trixie took Jim's hand and explained, "I don't think your mom is crying. I think she's laughing. Look," Trixie advised nodding her head toward Jim's mother.

Maddie's head came up and she was laughing. She was crying from laughing so hard. Matt handed her a handkerchief as he patted her on the back.

"What in the world are you all laughing about?" Mart asked looking at his fiancée and the others around the room. "What is this about a dog?"

As Diana explained about Shi-Shi the flower dog, everyone joined into the laughter.

When the laughter subsided, Jim looked at Honey with a slight smile and a shrug. "I guess you and us guys will just have to get through the wedding any way we can, then get into our own clothes."

Honey sighed heavily just as her eyes grew round in her face. "Oh, no, Jim! We'll have to pose for pictures of the bridal party," Honey moaned.

Maddie and Helen exchanged determined looks. Helen urged, "No, you will change into your own clothes the minute the wedding is over. You won't be needed for the receiving line."

Maddie picked up the idea and ordered, "You'll just tell everyone that you misunderstood what was expected of you."

"I agree one-hundred percent," Matt said, wandering over to fill Maddie's and Carolyn's empty wine glasses.

"Speaking of Dan," Honey looked around the room. "Where is he?" she asked.

"He had to work second shift today. He went into work at three," Mart explained. "He traded shifts with another sergeant so he could have the same days off as Bonnie," he added.

Celia popped her head around the edge of the den door and announced, "Dinner is ready for you and your guests, Mrs. Wheeler. Cook put together a buffet with salads, vegetables and honey-ham."

"Wonderful, Celia. Thank you," Maddie beamed, rising from the chair. "If anyone would like to freshen up, you know where all the powder rooms are located."

As the room emptied, Jim pulled Trixie into his lap and gathered her tight. "I really missed you today," Jim murmured as he nuzzled her neck. "Why do you have to be away from me?" he asked as he nibbled her collarbone.

"Hmmmm," Trixie moaned softly. "You know I never want to be away from you but it can't be helped sometimes." As Jim placed soft, nibbling kisses below Trixie's collar, she advised, "You better stop and not go any lower, Jim, before my dad comes back in here and thunks you on the head."

"I thought we were going to try and go away, just the two of us." Jim complained, still nuzzling Trixie's neck.

From the doorway, Mart said, "Can you two ever keep your hands off each other?"

Peeking at the door over Jim's shoulder, Trixie saw Mart with Di wrapped in his arms. "Soon, baby, soon," she whispered. Grinning at her brother, she retorted, "We are no more affectionate than you and Di, Mart."

"Yes, my dear sister, but the fair Diana and I are betrothed in marriage," Mart said with a satisfied smile as he squeezed Diana gently.

Jim nudged Trixie off his lap to a standing position and rose beside her. Taking Trixie's hand, Jim led her to the doorway. "All in good time my dear, Martin. All in good time," Jim grinned as he urged Trixie toward the dining room.

Trixie looked like a deer caught in the headlights as she was led from the room. Wonder what that means? She thought to herself.

***

When Trixie arrived at work Monday morning, she performed her bi-weekly ritual of checking to see if anyone she had put behind bars had made parole or had any change of status. Satisfied that all was normal, Trixie keyed in the cell phone number for the calls Honey had received on Saturday. The database responded with 'Information unavailable. Cell is disposable model. Purchased 02/14/2006.'

Well, that doesn't help, Trixie thought with disgust, sitting back in her chair. Let's see what the names show. Moving back toward her computer, Trixie input 'Jared Baxter, Ithaca, NY'. As the computer searched for information on Professor Baxter, Trixie checked her e-mail and voice mail for new messages. Noting down information from a call she needed to return, Trixie suddenly felt warm all over as a husky voice came over the phone line. "Good morning, love, I wish I could have seen you this morning and kissed you goodbye with a wish for a good day. Unfortunately, I need to meet with the architects at 9:30 about the fifty-percent complete designs for the school and get their drafts for the house," Jim's deep voice explained. "I sure would love to take my special girl to lunch if she can make it. I'll be there at 11:30. We'll eat early since I need to meet the groomsmen at the tailor by one. If you can't make it, call and let me know. I love you, Trix."

"I love you, too, Jim," Trixie said aloud.

"Talking to yourself again, Belden?" Cooper teased from the doorway.

Deleting the message from Jim and hanging up the phone, Trixie rolled her eyes at her partner as he moved to sit at his desk. "No, smarty, I was talking back to a voice mail from Jim," she explained. "He's coming to take me to lunch."

"Like that's some big surprise," Cooper retorted.

Glancing at her computer screen, Trixie noticed the search results were complete.

        Name Baxter, Jared Michael
        DOB 01/19/40
        Mar Status Married
        Military USMC 03/03/62-03/04/82
        Education      BS Business/Pre-law NYU 12/20/61
                              Harvard Law 05/22/86
        Employment  Piggly-Wiggly 1955-1962
                              US Govt USMC 1962-1982
                              Rainsford, Reynolds and Baxter Attorneys, LLC 1982-2002
                              Cornell University 2002-present, adjunct professor of criminal studies
        Wants/Warrants/Arrests None

"No wonder his name sounded familiar," Trixie commented quietly. "He was a partner at Mr. Rainsford's firm."

Cooper rolled over to look at her screen. "I don't remember that name from any of the cases we've reviewed so far," Cooper remarked, glancing at the results. "This guy is so clean he squeaks. What are we looking at him for?" he questioned, stretching back in his chair taking a drink of his coffee.

As she typed in the second name and information for David Roberts, Trixie filled Cooper in on the strange calls that Honey had received and the feeling in her gut that something wasn't right.

She filled her coffee cup from the pot in the corner of the office, returning to her desk as she completed the explanation.

"It may just have been a wrong number, Trixie," Cooper said evenly. "The guy was probably just pissed off at his girlfriend for flirting with another guy or something."

Trixie smiled weakly at Cooper's earnest face. "I hope so, Coop. It makes me crazy when I can't explain something that happens. Especially if it is to someone I love, like Honey."

Cooper pointed beside Trixie toward her computer and advised, "Results are up."

Turning, Trixie scanned the results.

        Name Roberts, David Lee
        DOB 10/20/83
        Mar Status Single
        Military None
        Education         BS Business/Pre-law NYU 05/28/05
                                 Cornell Law currently enrolled
        Employment     MoviePlex 1998-2001
                                 Wal-Mart 2001-present
        Wants/Warrants/Arrests         Juvenile/expunged
                                 None

"Looks like the kid must have done something to have a sealed and expunged record," Cooper said with a low whistle.

"Hmmm, I wonder," Trixie mused worriedly. "There isn't anything that screams 'PERP' but I don't like it." Glancing at Cooper, she admitted with a grin, "If I were to look up Dan, I'd see the same thing. I'd trust Dan with my life and I have on more than one occasion." She sighed, "Let's get to work. I have a hot lunch date."

***

Later that morning, Trixie was stacking papers together to return them into a file when a hand brushed the hair away from her neck and lips nibbled on the side of her neck.

"I'm giving you to the count of three to cease assaulting a federal officer," she murmured, tilting her head to give her assailant better access. "Nine-ninety-nine, nine-ninety-eight, nine-ninety-seven," she started on a soft moan.

Spinning her chair around, Jim pressed a deep kiss on her barely open lips. "Good morning, Shamus," Jim sighed between nibbling kisses. "If I saw you before you left for work each morning, I would be able say good morning properly." Still holding the arms of her chair, he leaned back to look into her dazed eyes with a smug smile. "Ready for lunch, baby?" he asked, green eyes twinkling as he watched her eyes returned to focus.

"Yes, if you're through assaulting me, we can get going," Trixie giggled, grabbing her coat, shoulder bag and Jim's hand. "Where are we going?" Trixie asked.

"You'll see," Jim said, tugging her along toward the stairwell.

When they reached the lobby, Jim led Trixie outside to a sunny March Monday. Walking her to his SUV, he helped her in before getting in and driving to a nearby park.

"What are we doing here?" Trixie asked, confused. She looked around the park but didn't see anything but a small frosty lake.

"Be patient," Jim said with a wink, helping her down. "It's all a part of my plan. Come on." Opening the hatchback on the SUV, Jim pulled out a picnic basket and blanket that he handed to Trixie. Next he grabbed a medium size nylon bag and a small propane heater. Placing his arm around her shoulders, Jim walked her toward the small lake.

They stopped at a level spot where Jim set down the heater. Removing a pop-up tent from the nylon bag, he tossed it to watch it expand and set itself up automatically. Unzipping the flap, Jim placed the heater inside before taking the basket from Trixie and setting it inside as well.

Holding the flap back, Jim bowed with a flourish and said, "After you, my lady."

"Thank you, kind sir," Trixie giggled with a small curtsy. She bent over to enter the tent and spread out the blanket before sitting down out of Jim's way.

Jim entered the tent and lit the propane heater. "I'm glad you wore slacks today," Jim said with a look of embarrassment. "At least you won't totally freeze before the heater gets warm. As it is, we'll have to turn it off just as it attains the maximum temperature, so it will be cool enough for me to take it home. I thought if we couldn't get away together right away, we could at least have a pretend camp out."

Taking Jim's hand, Trixie leaned in to kiss his cheek. "I think it's a sweet gesture," she affirmed. "If the heat goes away too quickly, you'll just have to keep me warm," she added with a wink.

"Oh, I'll be more than happy to do that," Jim responded with a grin.

Trixie grabbed the picnic basket and opened the lid. "Let's see what you have here. I'm starved," she commented, pulling plates and a thermos out of the basket.

"When she found out it was for you, Cook made us a special lunch," Jim bragged. "Chicken salad sandwiches, potato chips, brownies and iced tea to drink."

"Oh, I love Cook's cooking almost as much as Moms'," Trixie said placing food on the plates. "How was your morning?" she asked, handing Jim his plate, and then taking a bite of her sandwich.

"Awesome!" he replied. "The architects have taken all the ideas we gave them and created a perfect campus that is functional but not sterile looking. They have interconnected buildings for administration, dormitories, classrooms, athletics and a large combination gymnasium and theater room all around a central courtyard. There is a separate stable and workshop. I can't wait to show you the plans tonight."

"Jim, that's wonderful. I'm so excited for you. How did your house plans look?" Trixie asked, looking down at her plate.

Jim glanced at her in time to see her eyes flash with some unknown thought. "They've included everything we talked about in the plans," Jim said, watching her closely. "I had a few ideas that I wanted to talk over with you about the layout of the master bath and the floor plan in general. I thought the Jacuzzi tub should be by the window so we can look at the sky while we soak and relax."

When Trixie just nodded, Jim continued watching her as he added, "I have a list of questions they asked me to cover with you. They need answers about a few things."

Trixie looked at Jim from the corner of her eye. "Jim, I'll be happy to help but I'm sure your mother or Honey would have some good ideas. They both have excellent taste."

"Baby, you'll be the one living there so your opinion is the most important," Jim remarked before giving her a quick kiss. "Now let's eat up so we can make out for a while before I have to take you back to work," he suggested with a waggle of his ginger eyebrows.

***

After Jim dropped her back at the office, Trixie checked her messages before calling Honey at the law office where she worked. She hated calling Honey at the office because they had an automatic-attendant that used voice recognition to route the calls. For whatever reason, the system had a difficult time recognizing Trixie's voice. She usually had to say Honey's name at least four times before she got through. Today was a good day; she only had to say it twice before Honey answered.

"This is Honey Wheeler. How may I help you?"

"First, you can bump off Annie the auto-attendant," Trixie snorted. "She hates me."

"Trixie, you know perfectly well that the auto-attendant is a computer generated router. It has no feelings so it can't hate you," Honey replied with a giggle. "Why are you calling Annie to get to me anyway? I just got back to my desk from lunch. What's up?" she asked.

Trixie sat forward in her chair and pulled the saved queries up on her computer. "I ran a query on the two people we discussed in relation to your mysterious phone calls. Nothing special jumps out at me," Trixie said, playing with the phone cord. "Did you know that Professor Baxter used to work with Mr. Rainsford's law office?"

"Yes, now that you mention it, I do remember him talking about Mr. R. around the holidays," Honey mused. "They get together two or three times a year."

Trixie sat fidgeting in her chair. "Well, if he worked with Mr. R. and they're still friends, I can't see him doing anything like your phone calls." Trixie flipped to the other file. "David Roberts has a sealed juvie record that is flagged as expunged. Do you have any idea what that's about?" she asked. Silence followed for several seconds. "Honey?" she prompted.

"No," Honey said quietly. "That's hard to say right now. The parties involved in that action are available for hearing."

"Is he with you?" Trixie questioned her friend. "Can he hear me?"

"Yes, I said they are available, but the hearing is not happening," Honey answered, hoping Trixie understood.

"OK, so he is in your office but not close enough to hear," Trixie confirmed. "His juvie issue could be something like Dan's. I don't want to make a big deal out of it for now. You just keep an eye on him. I don't want you alone with him outside of the office," Trixie instructed. "OK?"

"Oh yes, that's just fine. I'm in full agreement," Honey replied. "What else is new?" she inquired.

Trixie relaxed back into her desk chair with a satisfied smile. "Your brother took me on a picnic at the park for lunch," she responded dreamily. "He met with the architects this morning about the school and his house. There are design questions he wants me to help him with but I told him you and Maddie would have better answers," she admitted softly.

"Trixie, you know that Jim asked for your opinion because you will live there, too," Honey argued. "He knows Mother and I would do it but it's you that really counts."

"Jim keeps talking about me living with him, Honey, but he hasn't ever mentioned marriage," Trixie explained. "Call me old-fashioned but I can't just live with him."

Honey sighed with annoyance. "Trixie Belden, you and I both know that my brother is beyond honorable," she scolded. "You should have absolutely no doubt that Jim loves you and wants to marry you. It is all he has dreamed of for years. I know that for a fact."

"What do you mean?" Trixie asked doubtfully. "How would you know? We've only been dating since December."

"I know because that first year that Jim lived with us, he used to have terrible nightmares about Jonesy," Honey explained quietly. "He'd yell for Jonesy to leave you alone because he loved you." Honey sniffled. "It was the saddest and sweetest thing I ever heard," she added. "In fact Trix, once when we were in college and I came home for a long weekend, I overheard him having the nightmare again. But this time, he was telling Jonesy to leave his wife alone, that 'Trixie is my world'."

Trixie's face showed the awe she felt on hearing Honey's revelation. "Why didn't you ever tell me this before?" she sputtered.

"You know I used to have horrible nightmares myself," Honey acknowledged. "Miss Trask would help me through them. They were so personal and left me and my feelings so bare that I never spoke of them. For me, knowing about Jim's and speaking of them would have been like breaking a confidence." There was silence on the line before Honey spoke again. "Do you understand, Trix? I couldn't expose him like that."

"Oh, Honey!" Trixie cried. "You're a wonderful sister and best-friend."

"Trixie Belden, you mark my words, someday my big brother is going to ask you to marry him," Honey vowed with conviction.

"I hope so, Honey," Trixie said. "I love him so much."

"I have to go, Trix," Honey announced. "I have a meeting. I'll call you later in the week."

"OK, Honey, talk to you later," Trixie sputtered. "Bye."

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AUTHOR'S NOTES

We couldn't write without our team of editors. Missy (Mylee), Clo (Grandma Cindy), Joyce (bundysbaby) and Kelly (Kellykath). Grammar, spelling, enthusiastic suggestions and support. They do it all!! {{hug}} Any typos or errors of any kind are the responsibility of the Smush Sisters.

Thank you to BonnieH for all you did for us. {{HUG}}

Also…….

For all the 'real' ones. We have a great deal of respect for your company and products.

     Escalade is a Cadillac SUV. Expensive and very Maddie.

     "Baby Love" is a 1964 song recorded by the girl-group, The Supremes.

     "Joy to the World" is a 1970 song recorded by Three Dog Night.

     "Flight of the Bumblebee" is an orchestral interlude written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakova in 1899.

     US Govt USMC is a branch of the United States military. These honorable men and women fight daily defending our rights

     and freedoms. We salute and honor them. Semper Fi

     We made up Rainsford, Reynolds and Baxter Attorneys, LLC. If there is one somewhere, we mean no harm.

     Harvard Law, Cornell University and NYU are all widely recognized as excellent schools of higher education.

     We made up MoviePlex. If there is one somewhere, we mean no disrespect.


     Piggly-Wiggly and Wal-Mart are stores that we have frequented. We use without permission but with respect.

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