***This is a slightly revised version of the previously released story. ***

 

The contents of Dan’s mysterious email are finally revealed. To understand what I’m talking about you’ll need to read my first attempt at fan-fiction.

 

The following is my second attempt at fan-fiction.

 

The first week of college life for Trixie and Honey yields new friends, new experiences, and a maybe even a mystery.

 

New Friends New Beginnings & New Experiences

 

 

 

 

Trixie took one final look around her bedroom.  She smiled and sighed when she saw how bare the room looked.  Most of her possessions were sitting in the living room.  Her clothes and smaller items had been placed in Rubbermaid tubs, while the larger items were in boxes donated by Mr. Lytell.

 

The unmistakable sound of tires crunching on the gravel that lined Crabapple Farm’s long driveway drew her attention. She turned her head quickly at the direction of the noise.    In a flash she was down the stairs and out the kitchen’s screen door.

 

“Did any one else just feel a breeze?” Mart joked as Trixie hurried past the kitchen table.  He took one last bite of his pancakes, then he and the rest of the Belden family rose from the table and joined Trixie on the porch.

 

The vehicle stopped, and the driver exited.  He had walked no more than ten feet from the cab when Trixie launched herself off the porch and leapt into his arms.

 

“I can’t believe it!”  She gushed with excitement.  “I’m actually going to college.”

 

She kissed him on the cheek just before he released her.  He gave an embarrassed wave to the family and motioned to the truck.  “We put the camper shell on it yesterday.  We should be able to get everything inside now.”

 

Trixie looked up, beaming, and thanked him.  “You don’t know how much this means to me, Dan.”

 

“I don’t think there’s a thing left in her room but furniture,” Mart teased, as he strained to pick up one of the larger boxes.  He sat it on the tailgate of the truck and slid it in.  He stepped back in confusion. “Why is this empty?  Where’s your stuff?  Aren’t you moving today too?”

 

Dan reached for another box and explained, “Uncle Bill and I took my things yesterday.  We pulled my motorcycle on his flat-bed trailer and left it there.”  After handing the box off to Mart, he approached Peter.  “I’ll still have the truck there once we unload.  I was hoping that when you and the Wheelers come up for open house next weekend, one of you could drive the truck back..”

 

Peter laughed at the thought of Matt Wheeler driving a pickup.  “We had planned on traveling together.  They are supposed to follow in Honey’s car.  I don’t mind driving Regan’s truck back.”  

 

Helen nodded in agreement.  She then threw up her hands.  “Where are my manners?  Daniel, have you had breakfast?  We have plenty left.” She gave a questioning glance to Mart, who rolled his eyes and affirmed her statement.

 

Dan thanked her but waved off the offer.  “Mr. Maypenny filled me up with biscuits and gravy this morning.  I’m stuffed.”

 

One by one they loaded the boxes and tubs into the back of the truck. In no time they had Trixie’s belongings neatly stacked.  Brian furrowed his brow in worry.   “I hope Honey is able to get all her things in here.  When I left last night, her pile of boxes looked even bigger than yours.” 

 

“We can make it fit,” Dan assured him. “Besides, you and Jim have already claimed dibs on the travel trailer.”

 

“’That’s true,” Brian sighed. “I’m sure our folks can take anything that doesn’t with them when they visit next weekend.”

 

Peter grimaced and faced Helen.  “I guess now isn’t a good time to reveal our surprise?”

 

“Surprise?” questioned Trixie.

 

“Go get it.”  Helen instructed Bobby.  Moments later Bobby came out of the house carrying a box.

 

Trixie beamed, “A microwave!”  She ran to hug her parents.

 

“Yes and the Wheelers are supposed to surprise Honey with a mini-refrigerator,” Peter explained.

 

“It will be much cheaper than renting from the college,” Brian informed her.

 

Mart added, “You can keep it loaded with food and snacks, just in case the cafeteria food’s not that great.”

 

Dan smiled, “That’s one thing she won’t have to worry about.  The food there is excellent.”

 

“Well,” Trixie gave a nervous smile, “I guess this is it.”  She bit her lower lip, and hurried to embrace her parents.

 

Pulling back, she wiped a tear from her cheek. “I’ll see you next weekend.”

 

Peter answered, “We’ll be there with the Wheelers.”  He assured Dan, “Don’t worry.  I don’t mind returning Regan’s truck.”

 

Trixie went to each of her brothers, giving and returning a hug from each.

 

As she hugged Mart, she reminded him, “Watch out for Di.  She doesn’t even know who her roommates are yet.”

 

“I’ll keep a close eye on her.” He promised, as he waggled his eyebrows and gave her a wink.

 

Trixie poked him in the stomach. “Oh, I’m sure you will.”

 

Brian put his arm around her.  “I’ll finish my goodbyes at the Wheelers.  I want to be there to see Honey off as well.” 

 

“Dan, do you mind if I ride over there with you?” he asked.  “I need to help Jim with the trailer.”

 

“No problem,” Dan responded, as he twirled the keys on the end of his finger.

 

“Oh, Bobby,” Trixie stooped and hugged the youngest Belden.

 

“Take it easy sis,” he protested.  “I’ll see you in a week.”  He pretended to be annoyed with her display of affection; however, it was obvious that he was holding back some tears.

 

A “Woof” came from the porch. Reddy stood at the top of the steps, contemplating descending them in spite of his arthritis.

 

Trixie climbed the porch and reached out, gently stroking the Irish Setter.  “Don’t worry old boy. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks,” she promised.  She knelt down and gave Reddy a hug.  He placed a paw on her shoulder, as if he were hugging back.

 

Dan entered the truck and Trixie slid in beside him.  Brian sat in the passenger seat and shut the door.

 

“Here we go.  Next stop Manor House,” announced Dan as he pulled away from Crabapple Farm.

 

During the short drive to Honey’s no one spoke.  Trixie quietly grabbed the hands of the two gentlemen she was seated between and gave them a gentle squeeze. As they approached the mansion, Trixie finally spoke. “Gleeps, I hope Honey is ready.” 

 

Dan circled the truck and backed up to the service portico.  “Looks like Honey’s getting an even bigger send off than you,” teased Dan.

 

Assembled across the porch were Cook, Ms. Trask, Tom, Celia, Regan, Mr. Maypenny, Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler, and a slightly disheveled Jim.  As Trixie and Brian exited the truck and met the group Honey came out the doors.

 

“Sorry,” she apologized, “I had to go back for my box of bathroom stuff.  Her face suddenly broke out in a wide grin. “Brian!”

 

Brian quickly stepped over and took the box from his girlfriend.  Dan and the others took this as their cue to begin loading Honey’s possessions into the back of the truck.

 

Trixie, however, went directly to Jim.  Noticing his appearance she teased, “Did you just roll out of bed?”

 

Jim began smoothing his messy hair and acknowledged, “I spent most of the night packing my things and going through my check list.”   He walked over and peered through the window of the camper shell. “Did you make sure you packed all your stuff?” he questioned.

 

Trixie nodded absentmindedly. As Jim lent a hand with the loading, her mind began to wander.  She had flashbacks of the past few weeks.  Since their trip that past May their relationship had progressed.  In some ways it progressed more than they would like to admit.  However, there were still certain things that had never really gotten off the ground and had somewhat stagnated. Visions of the past few weeks flitted through her mind.  A warm, pleasant feeling washed over her.  At the same time she got a feeling of anxiety.  They would soon be separated for weeks at a time.

 

“Trixie,” Honey’s voice had snapped her out of the daydream, “I think we have it all.”

 

Trixie looked around and noticed that Honey’s belongings had been placed in the truck.  It appeared time to say their goodbyes.  She apologized for her momentary lapse from reality.  “I must of I stayed up a bit late too.” 

 

Jim put his arm loosely around Trixie’s shoulders and reminded her, “Don’t forget.  We both have unlimited nights and weekends on our cell phones.  Let’s make sure that we take advantage of that.”  He gave her a hug and a quick peck on the lips.

 

Trixie hid her disappointment that their goodbye wasn’t as personal as she would like.  We ARE in front of his family and friends, she reminded herself.  Besides, we did say our goodbyes a little better last night.

 

Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler drew both girls into a tight, group hug.  “We’ll see you next weekend,” Mr. Wheeler assured them.

 

“We shall see at that time if you young ladies need anything else for your dorm room,” Mrs. Wheeler sniffed. 

 

Trixie had to stifle a giggle.  Convincing Mrs. Wheeler that it was okay for them to live in a dorm room, and not a condominium off campus, was a major feat in itself.  But both girls were looking forward to experiencing all of college life that they could.

 

One by one each person said their goodbyes, giving the girls hugs and making them promise to phone, write a letter, or send an email.  At the sound of the word “email” Trixie suddenly remembered an incident in the Clubhouse just days before.  As if on cue she and Dan locked eyes.  An almost telepathic message was conveyed between the two.  “Later,” Dan mouthed to her. 

 

Trixie smiled and gave a quick nod to show she understood his message. I can’t believe I didn’t ask him about Amber’s email before now, she berated herself. What a friend I turned out to be.

 

Finally the family and friends stood back and allowed the two couples a few moments to say their final farewells.

 

Honey and Brian embraced and were in a very passionate kiss, when Mr. Wheeler cleared his throat causing the two to pull apart.

 

Meanwhile, Jim stood silently staring at Trixie.  He ran his fingers through her curls. “Um,” he began “let’s not forget to call.”

 

“I won’t,’ Trixie agreed.

 

Finally, Trixie got what she had been anticipating.  Jim slid his arm around her waist and pulled her into a kiss.

 

When they broke apart, Jim exhaled and breathed, “Miss you.”

 

“Miss you too,” Trixie responded.  She turned and walked slowly to the truck, pausing for a moment to wave at the rest of the well wishers.

 

Jim watched as Dan positioned himself behind the driver’s seat. “Take care of them.” Jim requested.  However, the tone of his request almost sounded like an order.

Dan glanced to his right, watching as girls climbed into the cab. All three had to sit in the front seat, as the remainder of Honey’s belongings had been placed in the truck’s extended cab. 

He looked back at Jim, held his left hand up and promised, “I’ll make sure they stay out of trouble.”  He paused, remembering the knack the girls had for finding themselves in certain situations and made an addendum.  “I’ll do my best to make sure they stay out of trouble.”

 

As Dan maneuvered the truck down the Wheeler’s long driveway, a pair of green eyes followed.  When the pickup was no longer visible a voice came from behind.

 

“Don’t worry; Dan will keep an eye on them,” Brian comforted his friend.

 

Jim grimaced and nodded slowly.  “For some reason, that’s not very reassuring.”  He muttered under his breath.

 

As they traveled along Glen Road, Dan began explaining their plans.  Since his suitemate was the assistant head resident, he would be able to pre-check the girls in a day earlier than the other dorm residents.  There would be other students in the dorm early as well.  Most of the sports teams and music students had to report in early for their own orientations.  The RA’s or Resident Assistants would also be there. “We’ll get your keys from Greg when we arrive. We can unload, and you will have the rest of the afternoon to set up your room.  If you would like, we can go out for dinner tonight.  The cafeteria won’t be open until tomorrow.  The other early birds will have to scrounge for food as well.”

 

*******

 

The trip to the Jr. College took less than three hours.  As they approached the outskirts of town Honey suggested, “Why don’t we grab a quick bite to eat now?”

 

Trixie admitted she was also hungry.  “I didn’t feel much like eating this morning,”

 

Dan obediently slowed and turned into a small diner.  “This place has the best hamburgers and shakes next to Wimpy’s.”

 

After eating a meal of hamburgers, shakes and a very large family order of onion rings, they left the diner and within minutes were pulling onto the campus.

 

The girls had become fairly familiar with the campus’ layout.  They had visited the Jr. College several times before deciding to attend.  When they pre-registered, they were able to locate each of their class buildings as well as their dormitory.  Although its population and size rivaled that of some four-year universities, the collage’s board of directors chose to keep its Jr. College status to maintain a family atmosphere and small college feel.  For some students, it was less intimidating than a full blown university.

 

The girls sat very straight as Dan approached their dorm.  “Here it is,” he announced, “Wingo Hall.”

 

After backing the truck to the side doors, Dan took his keys and allowed the girls to follow him inside.

 

“What floor are you on?” asked Honey.

 

“Greg and I are on the fifth floor. The head resident is on the first.  They station the assistant on the top floor.  I guess with that arrangement they have the building covered. There will be two resident assistants on each floor.  That way the entire dorm has some type of monitor to keep order and be available if someone needs help.”

 

“They get paid for that, don’t they?”  Trixie wondered aloud.

 

“Yep, that’s part of the work study program.  They have to be on duty so many hours a day, so many days a week and they spilt the weekends.”

 

As they entered Dan’s dorm room, the girls were impressed with the neatness and organization.  Honey noticed a uniform hanging on the outside of closet door.  “Oh, you’re doing work study too, aren’t you?”

 

Dan picked at some imaginary fluff on the dark blue uniform.  “I’m working with campus security.  Last year I walked around and issued parking tickets.  This year I’ll get to patrol some.”  He huffed, “They still won’t let me carry a gun.  Only the certified officers can do that.”

 

A flash of worry went across Honey’s face, “You don’t really need guns, do you?” 

 

“The campus is very safe,” he assured her. “About the worst that has happened is some minor theft.”

 

There was a knock on the opened door. “I thought I heard voices over here.”  A very tall, blond stood in opening.  “Dan, are you going to introduce me?”

 

“Honey, Trixie, meet my next door neighbor and the assistant head resident, Greg.  He’s also the guy that’s nice enough to do me the favor and let you move in a day early.”  The girls extended their hands and thanked the young man for his kindness.

 

“I would imagine that you two want to get into your room?” He reached into his pocket and held out two keys.  “You girls are on the second floor, at the end of the hall.   It should be fairly quiet there.”  He handed each a key.  “Do you need an extra hand in carrying in your stuff?”

 

Dan excelled a very loud sigh of relief.  “Thanks! I was dreading all those trips up the stairs.  It should go much quicker now.”

 

After several trips and some struggle with the heavier items, the girls had all their belongings in their room.

 

Trixie surveyed the boxes and announced, “I think Honey and I can take it from here.  We really appreciate your help.”

 

“After we’re finished here, we’ll look you two up.  Maybe we can get together?”  Honey suggested.

 

Greg wiped the sweat from his forehead.  “Thanks, but I have a meeting with the RA’s and Head Resident this afternoon.  We’re going over your orientation activities.”  He stopped just outside the girls’ door, “I’ll take you up on it some other time.  It was nice to meet you.”

 

Dan lingered for a moment, before crossing his arms and asking, “I waited until now before I brought this up. But, are your parents aware that this is a CO-ED dorm?”

 

Honey blinked innocently, “I think that MAY have come up in a conversation.  Trixie?”

 

“Hmmm, I’m not too sure.  They did come up here on a tour.  I don’t know…” Trixie scratched her chin.

 

“In other words, your families have no idea that you will be in a dorm with members of the opposite sex,” Dan concluded.  “Speaking of opposite sex, I think it is more important to ask, are Jim and Brian aware of your living arrangements?”

 

Trixie and Honey glanced at each other and said nothing for several moments.  “Um,” Honey wrinkled her nose.  “We may have forgotten to mention it to them too.”

 

Dan raised his hands in surrender.  “I don’t want to be around when your folks find out.  And I certainly don’t want to be around when Jim and Brian are let in on your little secret.” 

 

It was evident that both girls had not thought out the repercussions of withholding the information.  Their guilty expressions spoke volumes.

 

Dan’s expression changed, and a smile slowly formed.  “Then again, it might be fun to watch.  Mr. Honorable and Mr. Boring find out that their sweeties are in the same dorm with several dozen eligible men.”  Dan backed out of the room to dodge the pillow that Trixie had thrown. “When you’re finished here, come on up to my room.  We can decide what we want to do for the remainder of the afternoon.”

 

Trixie retrieved the pillow from the hall.  Hugging it she begged Honey, “Please tell me our brothers aren’t going to over-react when we tell them.”

 

Honey forced a smile.  “I’m sure they’ll be upset at first, but they will get over it, eventually.  Besides, this is a much better dorm than the others.  I’m glad that Dan was able to pull a few strings to get us in here.  Come on, we need to start putting our things away.  We can work on what we plan to tell the guys later.”

 

After deciding who would get which side of the room, the girls began putting away their things.  Lucky for them Dan had carried the refrigerator and microwave since they were too heavy for the girls to handle alone. With little trouble, they were able to set up their computer system. The web cam was the only component that gave them any problems. Honey was putting the finishing touches on her side of the room when Trixie announced, “I think I’m going to check on Dan.”

 

Trixie bounded up the three flights of stairs. As she neared Dan’s room she noticed the door was a jar.  She knocked softly before entering.  Dan was seated at his computer.  “Come on in.”

 

As she neared the monitor, Trixie’s curiosity prodded her to glace at the screen. Dan apparently was checking his email.  As he swiveled in his chair Trixie noticed several emails from an AmberChick@arkansas-internet.net.  None of the emails had been opened.

 

So, are you two finished with your room already?”

 

“Oh,” Trixie tore her eyes away from the list. “We have a few things left to do. We need to go to Wal-Mart or Target and get a few extra supplies we didn’t think of.” She rolled her eyes.  “We should have taken Jim’s list idea more seriously.”

 

Dan jumped when his email sounded, and he received another message.  Trixie noticed the sender.  It was Amber.  She could use this as an opportunity to bring up the mysterious email he partially read from in the Clubhouse just days before.  As Dan turned to the screen, his face showed a flash of emotion at reading the sender’s name.  He quickly exited the program.

 

Trixie cleared her throat.  “Dan, this may not be a good time to bring this up.”

 

Dan snapped at her.  “Then please don’t.”  His voice softened as he apologized, “I’m sorry.  I know you mean well.”

 

She placed a supportive hand on his shoulder.  “If you’re not ready to talk now, I’ll be here when you are.”

 

There were several seconds of silence as they stared at each other. 

 

Dan grabbed her hand and gave it a squeeze.  “Later, I promise.  When I’m ready”

 

Trixie furrowed her brow in worry. Whatever she said to him must have really ripped his heart out.  I didn’t think they had gotten that serious.

 

“How about Friday night?”

 

“Friday?”  Trixie was a bit confused.

 

Dan clarified, “We can go to Elineta’s Friday night.  It’s their ‘Fajita Friday’.  They serve all you can eat fajitas on Friday night.  I’ll…um… let you read the email then.  Maybe you can give me your take on it.”

 

“Oh,” Trixie smiled.  “I’ll be looking forward to it.  You know how much I love fajitas.”  Her voice took a serious tone.  “I love helping my friends even more.”

 

At that last comment, Dan stood to hug her.  “Thanks.”

 

“Come on.” He reached and took his keys off the hook.  “Let’s see if Honey is ready to take a break.”

 

They didn’t get very far when they met her in the stairwell.  “There you are.”

 

“We were just coming to look for you,” explained Dan.  “How would you two like a personal tour of the campus and the city?”

 

Honey hooked her arm through Dan’s.  “Lead on.”

 

*******

 

As Dan drove around the college he pointed out several of the school’s buildings and showed them the building where security was located.  “That’s where I’ll put in my ten hours a week.”

 

The girls noticed the pride in his voice.  They knew that he had been given a scholarship and was eligible for financial aid.  The work-study job with campus security was more of an internship for Dan.  He would be able to apply practical application for his major of Law Enforcement and Criminology.

 

After visiting Wal-Mart for the girls’ supplies, they stopped at the local pizza restaurant to celebrate their first day of college.

 

“Guido’s has absolutely the best pizza,” Dan promised them.  “It’s kind of high compared to the chains, but it is worth it.”

 

Once the pizza arrived, Trixie and Honey were able to judge for themselves Dan’s claim. They agreed that it was the best pizza that they had ever eaten.

 

Dan took a sip of his drink and asked, “Honey, are your parents going to let you have your car while you’re here?”

 

Honey finished her bite and swallowed.  “I was hoping that they would bring my car to me when they and the Beldens come up next weekend.  However, I have a sneaking suspicion that they won’t just to make sure that I come home the next weekend to retrieve it then.”

 

“She has the parking permit and a slot reserved,” commented Trixie

 

 “The problem is getting back home to get the car.  I don’t suppose your motorcycle will hold three?”  Honey teased.

 

 “No, I’m sorry two is all it will handle.”

 

“I can only hope that someone drives it down here when our folks visit next weekend,” she wished.

 

After settling the bill, the threesome headed back to their new home.   The dorm was dark, except for a handful of windows that had light emanating from them.

 

Dan walked the two to their door and promised to check on them the next morning.  “Let me know how your first night in the dorm went.  This will probably be the quietest it will be all year.  It will get noisy once all the residents are checked in.”

 

After the girls entered the room and shut the door, reality set in.  They looked around their new home for the next several months.

 

“Oh, my gosh,” worried Honey, “What have we gotten ourselves into?”  She sat on the edge of her bed and hugged her stuffed Snoopy.  “Are we ready for all of this?  Can we ‘do’ college’?”

 

Trixie leaned against her dresser, her arms folded.   “We can do anything we set our minds to.  Look at all that we’ve been through together already. This is something we’ve been planning for years.”  She sat on her bed, facing Honey.  “I’ll admit I’m nervous too.  But we have each other to lean on.”  She gestured to the ceiling.  “We also have Dan just a few floors above.  That’s 3/7 of the Bob-Whites.  That’s almost half.”

 

Honey giggled, “Since when did you get so good at math?”  Her face took on a serious tone.   “I guess I’m having flashbacks of all those years in boarding school,” she explained.   “I’m glad this time I’m not alone.”

 

There was a knock at the door and Trixie rose to open it.  A bespectacled, dark headed lady, slightly older than the girls, stood in the hall. “Howdy, I’m Annette, your RA for this wing.”  She stuck out her hand to shake.

 

“Oh, come on in,” invited Trixie.

 

“Sorry I wasn’t here to greet you when you arrived.  Did you girls get moved in ok?”  The RA asked.

 

Honey offered the young lady a chair.  “Greg gave us our keys and helped us move in.”

 

“He and Dan,” corrected Trixie.

 

Annette gave a soft chuckle, “Dan,” she smiled.  “Oh, where was I?”

 

She handed Trixie a sheet of paper.  “Here’s a list of do’s and don’ts.  I’m not sure if Greg gave you one of these.  It has quiet times, and the rules of conduct.  Some folks would think living in a co-ed dorm would be a free for all, but we try to keep a tight lid on things.  That’s why the guys and gals have their own floors.”

 

Trixie turned and stuck the list to the bulletin board between their desks.  “We’re pretty quite,” she motioned to Honey.  “I don’t think you’ll have to worry too much about us.”

 

“Great!” Annette exclaimed.  “Just watch out for the trolls.”

 

“Trolls?”  Honey quizzed.


”Guys that will lurk around the girls’ floors in search of ‘companionship’,” she explained.  “You’re allowed on each other’s floors, but you’re advised to have an escort. It cuts down on accusations and complaints.   That’s all explained on the sheet.”

 

She stood to leave.  “Well, I have a long day tomorrow.  I’ll be registering and handing out room assignments for the rest of this wing.  Speaking of, do you know who your suitemates are yet?”

 

The girls shook their heads.

 

“You’ll get to meet them tomorrow.  I’m sure that everything will work out fine.”  She walked to the door.  “Just let me know if you need anything or have any problems.  That’s what I’m here for.”

 

After she left, Trixie and Honey once again gazed around their room.  “It’s been a long day.  Do you think it’s time we turned in,” Trixie suggested.  But before they could begin getting undressed a soft knock came from their door.

 

“Who could that be?”  Honey wondered. She went to the door and asked, “Who is it.”

 

“It’s me.   Sorry it’s so late, but I forgot to ask you girls something earlier,” the voice on the other side answered.

 

Honey swung the door open and pointed.  “You know it’s not safe for you to be here without an escort,” she said in mock chastisement.

 

Dan held up a hand, “Sorry, but I wanted to invite you girls to breakfast.  The cafeteria is still closed until tomorrow night.”

 

Before either roommate could say anything Trixie’s cell phone chirped.  “Oh, a phone call,” she announced as she hurried to answer it.  “It’s from your brother.”

 

Trixie spent the next several minutes detailing to Jim their arrival and subsequent moving into their dorm.   While she spoke, Dan helped Honey log the computer on to the dorm’s wireless connection.  They looked up just as she was finishing.

 

“Yes, I’ll call you back as soon as I can.”  She paused for a moment. “Miss you too.”

 

Honey rolled her eyes at the last remark. “Those two…” was all she managed to whisper to Dan before Trixie came over to join them.

 

Dan chuckled to himself.  It’s not as if we would say anything to embarrass her.

 

After setting up their accounts and selecting passwords, Dan let both practice logging on and off of the system.  “Just make sure that your firewall is turned up,” he warned.  “That will help deter most intrusions. Of course if someone really wanted to hack into your system, they’d find a way.   Oh, and don’t forget to keep your virus protection up to date,” He pointed at their web cam. “I’m sure this will come in handy once the others come on line with theirs.”

 

“At least we will be able to see each other, even if we can’t be there in person,” said Honey wistfully.

 

Saying goodnight for a final time, Dan left the girls’ room, promising to take them to breakfast the next morning.

 

Finally, they were in their beds and the lights were out.  Trixie’s mind began to race.  I was strong in front of Honey.  I couldn’t admit it to her, but I’m just as overwhelmed as she is and classes haven’t even started yet. She turned to look at the picture she had placed on her desk.   It was the one of she and Jim at the Bob-Whites’ Fourth of July picnic.  It was too dark to actually see it, but she knew where it was just the same. 

 

She rolled over and allowed her mind to wander, remembering the events of that day. … The picnic…swimming…blanket…fireworks…  Reliving those very fond memories, she soon fell into a comfortable sleep.

 

*******

 

Loud music woke Trixie with a start.  She reached her arm out to hit the snooze button on the alarm, only to strike the wall instead.  She quickly began regaining her bearings.  She wasn’t in her room at Crabapple Farm, and her hand smarted from trying to hit the snooze. The alarm was on the opposite side of her bed now.

 

Honey sat up to see what the commotion was.

 

Trixie apologized, “Sorry, I forgot where I was for a moment.” She shook her hand to get the feeling back in it.  “How’d you sleep?”

 

Honey attempted to smooth her mussed up hair.  “Not too bad.  This mattress will take some getting used to.” 

 

Trixie agreed, “I think mine has seen better days too.”  Motioning to the clock she added, “We need to get ready to meet Dan for breakfast.  He’ll be here before we know it.”

 

In a matter of minutes they were showered and dressed, just in time for Dan to come to their door.

 

****

 

Once they were seated at the restaurant, the girls giggled at Dan’s IHOP order of the ‘Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity’ special.

 

They took their time eating and spent a good deal of the meal talking and discussing their classes.  Dan had already taken many of the classes that the girls would be taking.  He would be a valuable resource for insight and study help. 

 

“It’s too bad you couldn’t get all your classes together,” he mused.

 

“Well, we have most of them,” said Honey.   “We registered at the same time, just after each other.  But they told us sometimes the scheduling program would randomly place a student in a class that needs the enrolment numbers. Lucky me,” she rolled her eyes.

 

Trixie pulled out her schedule from her back pocket.  “The only ones we don’t have together are biology and psychology.”

 

Honey scrunched her face, “I’ve got that psychology professor that’s supposed to be a bit of a bear.  The biology teacher is new to the staff.”

 

“I know the teacher for your self-defense class,” Dan informed the girls.  “He’s the captain of the campus security department.”

 

“We have that on Monday night.” Trixie flattened her schedule and pointed at the time slot.

 

“Remind me NOT to attack you on Monday nights,” quipped Dan.

 

 “I hope we never have to use what we learn,” Trixie announced, as she tossed her napkin in her plate.

 

*****

 

Once Dan pulled up to the dorm, it was obvious the other students had begun arriving.  It was a mad house. Cars and trucks were parked at various angles around the dorm.  Students and their families were carrying boxes, furniture and appliances, often bumping into one another. 

 

Upon entering the dorm, the lobby was chaotic.  The RA’s were stationed at tables checking room assignments and handing out room keys.  There appeared to be fellow students assisting them, showing the new residents to their rooms.  Each wore a bright orange shirt, khaki shorts and a nametag.

 

“I am so glad we were able to check in yesterday,” Honey whispered.

 

Trixie pointed at the students with the matching clothes and name tags. “Who are they?”

 

“That’s the dorm council.  It’s kind of like student council when we were in high school,” answered Dan.

 

They began the ascent to girl’s floor, walking up the flight of stairs and weaving their way around the harried newcomers.

 

He continued, “Each dorm has a president, vice president, secretary and floor representatives.  They all meet with the other dorms’ leaders and form the Residence Hall Association.  From that they select officers. These are the representatives from last year.  They will hold their office until the new council is elected.”

 

“But what do they do?” Honey asked, confused.

 

Dan resumed his explanation, “The Dorm Council plans activities, listens to grievances and tries to help the other residents to get to know each other better.  The campus group, the Residence Hall Association, plans campus wide activities like field days, casino and movie nights, and dances.  They work to make the campus a better place to live by addressing campus-wide problems as well as pulling the campus together as a community.”

 

“Sounds like fun.  Kind of like the Bob-Whites, but on a much larger scale.” Trixie observed.

 

“Freshmen or first year students are eligible to run for floor representative.” Dan informed them. “You two ought to consider running.  There’s not a lot of time involved and it is a great way to meet people.”

 

“Is that what you did last year?” wondered Honey.

 

“No, unfortunately I had to work.  But my roommate last year was a member of the council.  He seemed to really enjoy it.”

 

They had reached girl’s room.  Just as Honey began turning the lock, the door to the room next to them opened and two heads popped out. It was their suitemates.  At last, they would get to meet their neighbors, with whom they would share a common bathroom.

 

The shorter of the two stepped forward and introduced herself first, “Hi, my name is Patti.”  Honey stifled a giggle.  With her build, hair style and glasses, she reminded her of Velma of the Scooby Doo fame.  “My friends call me ‘Patio’.” 

 

The second roommate introduced herself next. Trixie noticed that, with her dark hair and eyes, she appeared to be Asian.  “Hi, my name is Nancy.” Taking the lead from her roommate, “I don’t have a nickname.  Just please don’t call me Nancy Drew.”

 

Nancy who?” Trixie asked confused.

 

“Never mind,” the girl waved it off.

 

The remaining introductions were made.

 

Dan took this as his opportunity to slip off.  As he walked away, Nancy looked at Honey and complimented her, “You have a nice looking boyfriend.”

 

Honey shook her head, “He’s not my boyfriend.”

 

“Oh?” Nancy turned to Trixie.  “Then, you have a nice looking boyfriend.”

 

“Nope, he’s not mine either,” Trixie smiled.

 

“Well now…”  Nancy raised her eyebrows,” Does he have a girlfriend?”  She scrunched up her forehead.  “He doesn’t have a boyfriend, does he?”

 

Both girls began laughing.  Honey answered.  “No, he wouldn’t have a boyfriend, and I don’t think he has a girlfriend.”  Remembering Amber, his friend he met that summer during their trip to Arkansas, she was unsure about their relationship.  She looked at Trixie for help.

 

“I’m not sure if he’s serious with anyone right now,” finished Trixie.

 

Both sets of roommates showed their neighbors their respective rooms.  While they were in Trixie and Honey’s room, Nancy noticed the picture of Jim.  “Who does he belong to?”

 

“He’s my brother,” Honey answered

 

Trixie waited for a couple of seconds before adding, “And he’s my boyfriend.”

 

Patti wondered aloud, pointing at Honey,   “I guess the guy in the other picture is your boyfriend?” 

 

Honey beamed, “Yes, and he’s also Trixie’s older brother.”

 

“You’re dating each other’s brother?” Patti asked with amusement.  “How does that work out?”

 

“We have a standing rule to NOT discuss our relationships with each other’s sibling,” Honey explained.

 

After making promises to do something as a group later in the week, the suitemates departed, exiting via the bathroom that the two rooms shared.

 

“What do we do now?” wondered Honey.

 

Trixie suggested, “Why don’t we explore the dorm?  We can meet the others that are checking in, maybe wander onto the upper floors.”

 

“Trixie!”  Honey feigned shock.  “That’s the guys’ floors.  Why would we want to go there?”  After a few moments thought, Honey added,   “It wouldn’t hurt to be friendly.  Brian and Jim would want us to meet people.  It’s not like we’re going ‘trolling’ as Annette put it.”

 

“That’s the Bob-White spirit,” Trixie congratulated her friend. “Besides, I don’t think we’ll need an escort today.  It should be safe.”

 

The girls exited their room and began their “investigation” of the dorm.  They were once again thankful that they had taken care of the headache of moving in the day before.

 

They stopped and extended their greetings to several rooms of residents on the girl floors.  Then they headed to the stairs that would take them to the guy floors, and they hesitated.

 

“Here goes,” Trixie announced.

 

The scenes on the men’s floor were similar to those they saw on the girls’.  Residents moving in, parents and siblings helping, boxes sitting everywhere, moms insisting that they put the sheets on the bed at that time and reminding their sons to change the sheets regularly. 

 

As they walked down the corridor of the top floor, they passed Dan’s room. Honey touched the door.   “Should we knock?”

 

Trixie thought for a moment.  “No, I’m sure he’s had enough of us for today.  We can always buzz him later and see if he wants to meet for dinner.  The cafeteria will be open then.” 

 

They spent the remainder of the afternoon walking the grounds of the college ending back at their own dorm room.

 

“Let’s see if Dan’s ready for dinner,” Trixie said as she picked up the intercom phone.  Each room on campus was equipped with a telephone.  With this they could call any dorm room or campus building. They would be able to make local phone calls as well.  “He doesn’t answer.” 

 

Honey winked, “Maybe he has a date.  You know we can’t monopolize all his time.”

 

“Yeah,” was all that Trixie would respond. Inwardly she was wondering.   I hope that he would be on a date.  I’m dreading reading that email.  I guess I’ll find out Friday.

 

After freshening up, they grabbed the Student ID cards they were issued when they pre-registered. 

 

During their walk to the cafeteria, they noticed that they weren’t the only ones who had the same idea.  There was a mass exodus to the cafeteria.  As they neared the building they also could see tables, large grills, and serving carts loaded with food.

 

“It looks like a picnic,” Honey noted. 

 

Their identification cards were scanned at the entrance.  Then, they proceeded through the food line, selecting from the various side items, ending up at the entrée cart.  They had their choice of smoked pork, ribs, brisket, chicken or sausages. At each table there was a sampling of sauces to choose from.

 

“If we eat like this all year, we’re going to get fat,” said Trixie.

 

*****

 

Once back at the dorm, they noted the poster reminding the residents about their floor meetings that night. 

 

They had been in their room for less than a minute when a loud knocking came from their door.  Honey cautiously opened it and peered out.

 

Standing in the hall were four ladies, all dressed in athletic gear.

 

“Hi,” said the nearest one.  “We’re your neighbors from across the hall.”

 

Honey opened the door wider, “Please, come in.”

 

The four ladies entered the room.  “We wanted to meet our neighbors while we had a chance,” the tallest of the four explained.

 

“We’re on the basketball team, so you might not see that much of us,” the blonde continued.

 

Honey held out her hand, “I’m Honey and this is Trixie.”

 

One by one the four newcomers introduced themselves.   Delmonica, Shemeka, Natalie, and Terri seemed to be a lively group.  Both Trixie and Honey took an immediate liking to them.

 

“It sounds like you four are going to be spending a lot of weekends on campus. We have got to rent movies some Friday night,” insisted Honey.

 

Shemeka smiled, “We’d love to. Our curfew is much later on Friday.  Coach Sutherland has us assigned shooting drills on Saturday and that’s after lunch.”

 

“Terrific,” Trixie beamed.  “We’ll be looking forward to it.”

 

Honey agreed, “It would be perfectly, perfect.”

 

Delmonica turned and opened the door to leave, when she ran into a surprised looking Greg.  Trixie was amazed that Delmonica was actually taller than the assistant head resident.  There were a couple of awkward moments as the two stood face to face.  At first, Delmonica smirked. Then she broke into a huge grin and gave him a wink as she excused herself.  Her three teammates followed her to their suite.

 

“Wow,” Greg chuckled. “I’m six-four.  It’s not often I find people my height, especially a woman and especially one that’s taller than me.”

 

“They’re on the basketball team,” Honey informed him.

 

“Yeah, I went to some games last year.  They are really good.  You just met four of the starting five ‘Sugar Bears’.”  He motioned behind him with his thumb.

 

“’Sugar Bears’?” Honey questioned.

 

Greg explained, “That’s what our ladies’ sports teams are called.  The guys are called the ‘Bears.’ The girls are called the ‘Sugar Bears’.”

 

Honey giggled, “I should have known that, I guess.”

 

He held up his wrist and looked at his watch.  “The reason why I came by is to ask if you’ve seen Dan.  I think he had a meeting at security, but I’m not sure. He didn’t take his cell phone, and I can hear it ringing from my side of the suite.”

 

The sound of a throat clearing interrupted his next sentence.  Dan had appeared and was standing in the hall.

 

“I’ve been riding.” Dan came into the room, motorcycle helmet in hand.  “It was a nice day.  So I thought I would take a ride. Sorry about the cell phone ringing.  I don’t normally take it with my on my bike.  I can’t hear it ring, and it’s hard to use one while you’re on a motorcycle.”

 

“You’re right about that,” Greg nodded.

 

Dan excused himself, “I suppose I should go to my room and see who’s been trying to get in touch with me.”   Before he left, he Trixie a sideways glace.

 

From his look, she caught his meaning.  He thinks it’s Amber.

 

After Dan and Greg left, Honey pulled their orientation itinerary off of the cork board.

 

“All we have tonight is the floor meeting.”  She began reading from the notice.  “Tomorrow they have workshops on “How Not to Flunk Out of College Your First Year.” That’s in the morning and “Things to do on the Weekend that are Free and Legal” in the afternoon.” After a moment of confusion from the last title, Honey continued. “There’s a get acquainted dance and social tomorrow night on the Common’s lawn.”

 

Trixie listened, but her mind was wandering again.  She was wondering what Moms was doing, if Mart and Di had gotten settled in and how soon Brian and Jim would be able to come for a visit. If she could survive until Friday before she would know what else Amber said in the email, what the point would be to go to a dance, if she didn’t have anyone to go with, if Bobby was surviving being the only Belden child at home, if Reddy …  Her mind focused back on Honey’s recitation.

 

Honey continued to skim the page, “Tuesday, area businesses will hold a fair and give out discount coupons, samples and free merchandise in the student center.  There will also be drawings for more expensive items.  There’s also a health fair too.  The college’s health and nursing center is offering free health screenings.   In the afternoon there’s an outdoor music festival with three different groups performing in the amphitheater until 10:00pm.  Wednesday, there’s something called Survivor Day that ends in the afternoon.  That night there’s going to be a special program in the concert hall.  It’s a motivational speaker/comedian.” Honey stuck the paper back on the board.  “Wow, it looks like they’re going to keep us busy until classes start on Thursday.”

 

They took turns checking their email.  Trixie was excited that she had received an e-card from Jim.  Honey replied to an email from Brian.

 

“I hope Di is happy with her roommates.” Trixie worried.

 

Honey raised an eyebrow and gave a mischievous smile. “I don’t think she cares, as long as Mart is around.  And I don’t think she’ll spend too much time in her own dorm room anyway.”

 

Trixie blushed, “I wish you wouldn’t bring that up.”

 

Honey smiled at her friend’s embarrassment.  She was relieved when Trixie and Jim had finally become a couple. She had yet been able to determine if the two were just close friends or intimately involved.  With their standing “no disclosure” rule, she was afraid she would never know for sure.

 

Trixie immediately changed the subject.  “I think it’s close to time for our floor meeting.  Why don’t we go find a seat in the commons?”  Each floor had a common room for watching television, studying, or playing board games.  Tonight, they would use it as a meeting room. 

 

Honey waved at Nancy and Patti who invited them to join them on one of the large, overstuffed couches.  By 10:00 the room was packed and had become very noisy.  Annette stood up to get their attention.  At first, she was ignored.  She motioned to her fellow RA who immediately reacted by placing her fingers in her ears.  Next, Annette put her fingers to her mouth and whistled.

 

It was a very loud, shrill whistle, and it did the job.  The room became so quiet you could hear a pin drop. “Thanks,” she said sheepishly.

 

During the meeting the RA that Honey and Trixie hadn’t met was introduced.  Laurie would be the RA for the other wing on their floor.  The two took turns going over the dorm rules, quiet hours, the recommended procedure for male visitation and their visitation of the men’s floor, and the fire, hurricane and tornado evacuation routes.

 

Next, two residents stood up and introduced themselves.  Carla and Connie had been on the dorm council the year before.  Connie passed out flyers, and they began to explain what dorm council was and the duties of the officers.  Carla waved her flyer.  “It’s all on here.  We do hope you plan on running for a position.  Only upperclassmen are eligible for the officers.  That vote is taken from the entire dorm, all floors, guys and gals.  But we will need two representatives from our floor, one from each wing.  We will vote on that Friday when we have the vote for the dorm officers.  Just see me if you want your name on the ballot for representative.”

 

“We will announce the winners next Monday, when everyone is back on campus,” Carla added.

 

Annette finished by holding up a poster and a signup sheet.  She explained that the dorms would hold competitions against each other on Wednesday for Survivor Day.  Each floor from their dorm would have a team, who in turn would compete against teams from other dorms.  The finals would be held at 2:00 for the girls’ teams and 3:00 for the guys. 

 

Laurie outlined the types of skills needed for competition.  The activities would be similar to what is seen on the Survivor television show.  For fairness the actual events for the competitions would not be revealed, but everyone was encouraged to participate.  “They don’t want people having an unfair advantage by practicing an actual task before Wednesday,” Laurie explained.

 

Annette pointed out, “Even a non-athlete like me can participate.”  She made a face, “I can tell you that last year a raw oyster eating contest was part of the games.”

 

Annette held up the poster and sign up sheet.  “You have until Tuesday before 6:00 to sign up.  Then, Laurie and I can start drawing lots to coordinate the team.”

 

As the meeting broke up, several girls made a break for the Survivor Day sign up sheet, while others stopped to talk to Carla and Connie.

 

*****

 

As they settled in their room Trixie asked, “Are you thinking about running for floor representative?”

 

Honey thought for a moment.  “I am, but I’m not too sure that I can commit.  What about you?”

 

“No,” Trixie shook her head.  “But I am interested in Survivor Day.”

 

 “I might sign up too.” Honey shuddered, “as long as I don’t have to touch a spider or a snake, I’ll be ok.  You’ll be awesome if they have a basketball shooting contest.”

 

Trixie picked up her cell phone and rolled her eyes at Honey’s remark. “I’m not too sure about that.”  She pushed the speed-dial function and waited.

 

Honey leaned against her pillow as she listened. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who Trixie was talking to.  As the conversation wound down, Honey grabbed her own cell phone.  She would call Brian as soon as Trixie finished her call.  Her finger was poised over the keypad when she heard Trixie’s “miss you.” 

 

There she goes again. Honey was curious as to why they were so secretive about their relationship. Those two are just going to have to get over it and come out into the open.  Maybe I should talk to her and tell her she doesn’t have to censor her conversations around me. 

 

******

 

The next morning, after a quick breakfast, the roommates found seats in Ida Walden Auditorium.  They perused the information packet handed to them as they came in.  As advertised the morning’s session was titled “How Not to Flunk Out of College Your First Year.” As the program began, they were introduced to the Director of Campus Life, Dr. Cagle.  He outlined the day’s programs and introduced the presenters.  For the next three hours the freshmen were entertained and enlightened on the keys to a successful first year of college.  There were various skits and video segments emphasizing the main points.

 

After lunch they went back to the auditorium for the afternoon session on “Things to do on the Weekend That Are Free and Legal.”  Leading that session was Captain Sellers of Campus Security along with a representative of the local police department.  Among the topics discussed were safety while on campus, reporting a crime or seeking assistance from a security officer, a reminder of parking and driving regulations, and what NOT to possess on campus.  The city police officer reiterated the attendees of the high expectations from the students when they left the campus and entered the city.

 

At one point Trixie whispered to Honey, “This is like living at home all over gain, so many rules.”

 

Without turning her head Honey responded, “They just want to make sure that we are safe and don’t do anything stupid.  Can you imagine our parents having to come bail us out of jail over something silly?”  She added, “The captain is our self defense instructor on Monday nights. He seems like a very no-nonsense type.”

 

Finishing the day’s presentation Dr. Cagle came on stage and went through a list of activities and clubs that met on the weekend; enough to keep a bored college student busy and away from any trouble.

 

“All right!”  Trixie exclaimed.  “Finally, they tell us what we can do for fun.”

 

As they left the auditorium, they picked up brochures from several of the clubs and organizations that the girls were interested in signing up for.  Included was a backpackers group that both were interested in. 

 

******

They stopped off at their dorm room to drop off the information packets and handouts from the day’s workshops.  They paused long enough to sign up for the “Survivor” game.  It was no surprise that their neighbors across the hall had signed up.  In fact it looked like over half of the floor was willing to participate.  Trixie and Honey took the last two spots on the registration poster.

 

“Just as long as I don’t have to touch anything slimy or multi-legged,” reminded Honey.

 

Trixie groaned, “Knowing my luck, I’ll have to cook or sew.”

 

Honey laughed at her comment.  “I doubt they will have a competition based on those.”

 

******

 

They managed to get through the cafeteria line before the rush.  “Let’s remind ourselves to get here early from now on,” Honey remarked. 

 

As they sat down, three young men approached their table.  “Are you ladies saving these seats?”

 

Honey smiled and gestured to the empty spots, “Go ahead.  You’re welcome to sit here.”

 

As the men sat, the spokesmen introduced his companions.

 

“I’m CW.  That’s my roommate Jimmy and this is Robert.”  Each extended their hand to shake.

 

Trixie took their lead.  “This is my roommate and best friend, Honey.  I’m Trixie.”

 

“Trixie… is that short for something?” CW inquired.

 

“Yes,” Trixie scowled.  “It’s short for Beatrix.”

 

CW nodded his head, “I know now you feel.  My first name is actually Carl.  I much prefer my first two initials, CW.”

 

“You better get used to being called Beatrix for the next few days,” Jimmy warned her.  “The professors will refer to you by that, until you tell them otherwise. My given name is James.  I respectfully request that I be allowed to go by Jimmy.”

 

As the meal progressed, Honey mentioned to Jimmy. “I have a brother named James.  He prefers Jim. He also happens to be Trixie’s boyfriend.”

 

At the word ‘boyfriend’ Trixie bit her lower lip.  Honey made a mental note on how uncomfortable Trixie seemed after her comment. 

 

Not aware of Trixie’s embarrassment, CW began to brag on his roommate.  “Jimmy is in the national guard.  It’s helping pay for part of his tuition.”

 

“That’s admirable,” praised Honey.  “I noticed the crew cut.”

 

“Thanks,” Jimmy responded.  “I keep it this way most of the time.  They’ll just shave it off again if they think it’s too long for their standards.”

 

They were returning to their seats with their desserts when Robert remarked, “If you girls are free some night, you’re more than welcome to visit.  We try to have a Risk game at least once a month on the weekends.  We’re on the fifth floor of Wingo Hall.  I’m next door to them. We share a bathroom.”

 

“Where’s your roommate?”  Honey asked.

 

“I lucked out.  I don’t have a roommate.”  He added, “Besides, I like my privacy.”

 

“Coming from a family with three brothers, I can understand wanting some privacy,” agreed Trixie.

 

Jimmy repeated the offer, “We’re serious.  We can always use more people to play.”

 

Trixie answered, “We’re on the second floor of Wingo.  I’m sure we can try to make it sometime; it sounds like fun.”

 

Honey agreed. “I don’t think I’ve ever played it before, but I’m sure I can learn.”

 

“One game can last for hours.  We usually have snacks or send out for pizza,” Jimmy informed.

 

The five left the cafeteria together heading to their dorm.  As they started up the steps, they ran into Dan.  He was in his Campus Security uniform.  He greeted the girls’ new friends.  “I see you’ve met my friends from home.”

 

“You know these ladies?”  Robert asked.  “Here I felt sorry for you, because you weren’t dating anyone.  Who knew you had these two beauties to go home to?”

 

Dan forced a smile at Robert’s teasing.  “No, they aren’t mine, but they are my friends.” He puffed out his chest and gave Robert a warning stare. “I’m also looking out for them while they are here.”

 

Robert caught the meaning behind Dan’s last line.  Enjoying the reaction he had gotten, he replied. “I can see why you would be so protective.  I’ll help you keep an eye on them.”  He added with a sneer.

 

Dan started to take a step forward, but caught himself.  Turning to Trixie and Honey, “I have duty tonight.  I’m going to be helping to patrol at the dance. I guess I’ll see you two there?”

 

Trixie smiled and shook her head.  “I doubt I’ll go.  I don’t have a date, and I’m not too sure that I want to go alone.”

 

“Oh Trixie,” Honey scolded, “What do you mean you’re not going?  I assumed we were.  I doubt anyone will notice if we go stag, besides how else are we going to meet people and make more friends?”

 

Trixie gave a reluctant shrug, “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to show up for a few minutes.”

 

Robert took this as an opportunity to make a move.  He positioned himself between Trixie and Honey, placing an arm around each of their shoulders.  “It’s official then.  You girls will be going to the dance.  And if you need an escort I’m available.” 

 

Honey turned to the others.  “Were you two going?”

 

CW thought for a few moments.  “I hate the idea of going alone too.”

 

“We can go as a group,” suggested Jimmy.

 

During this time Dan’s body had tensed.  He began clinching his teeth.  There was something about Robert he didn’t like, something about him he didn’t trust.  It seems like he had heard a rumor, or something, about him.  What was it?

 

Dan reluctantly checked his watch.  “Sorry guys, I really need to go.  I’ll see you at the dance.”

 

The girls waved as Dan walked away.  “We’ll save a dance just for you, if you’re allowed to, that is,” Honey called after him.

 

The group started up the stairs, pausing at the second floor landing.  The girls promised to meet their new friend in the lobby at 6:00.  They would wander over to the social, then the dance.

 

Once they reached their room, Honey closed the door and cocked her head.  “Did you notice Dan’s reaction when we met him?  He didn’t seem very comfortable around the guys.”

 

“I saw that,” agreed Trixie.  “I wonder if there’s a history between him and the others.”

 

“I don’t think it’s that at all,” Honey frowned.  “He didn’t seem very comfortable around them, and he wasn’t as friendly with us as he normally is.  It really makes me wonder…”  Her voice trailed off.

 

“Hopefully, we’ll see him at the dance.  Maybe by then he’ll be in a better mood.  If not, we can always ask what’s bothering him,” Trixie suggested.

 

************

 

They met Robert in the lobby.  He was alone.  “The others will be along later,” he explained in a rush.

 

He escorted the girls out of the dorm and to the area where the social was being held.  For the next several minutes he stayed close to the two.  As they neared the snacks table, CW and Jimmy appeared.

 

“What happened to you?”  CW cornered Robert. “We knocked on your door, but you weren’t there?  We waited for a bit before going to the lobby. I thought we were going to meet with the girls together?”

 

Robert said in surprise, “Oh?  Really?  I guess I heard wrong.  I could swear you said that you’d meet us here.  I’m sorry about the confusion.”

 

With wide eyes, Trixie looked at her roommate and gave her a silent,   What’s up with that?

 

Honey quirked an eyebrow and cocked her head in response, as if she was thinking the same thing.

 

Jimmy broke the tension, “It looks like we’re all here now.  Why don’t we head over to the dance?”

 

The five arrived at the dance.  It appeared to be in full swing.  The next two hours Trixie and Honey took turns dancing with their new friends, trading out partners randomly.  They shared some dances with other students that approached them as well.

 

As Trixie went to the concessions area, she crossed paths with Robert.  He held two drinks in his hands.  “Here you go,” he offered.  “I got an extra one.  You’re welcome to have it.”

 

Trixie took the drink from his hand, however, the condensation on the sides caused the cup to become very slippery and it passed through her hands, crashing to the ground.

 

Robert let out a soft curse.  When he noticed the surprised look on Trixie’s face he apologized, “I’m sorry.  I’ll go get you another one, my bad.”

 

He hurried off to retrieve another drink when Trixie felt two hands on her shoulders.  “You shouldn’t be taking drinks from strangers, you know,” a familiar male voice reminded her.

 

Trixie turned to see the blue uniformed chest of Dan.  “He’s not a stranger, he’s a friend,” She defended herself.

 

“Still,” Dan continued.  “You can never be too careful.”

 

Trixie harrumphed and responded mockingly, “Yes, Daddy.” 

 

Robert reappeared with a fresh drink.  He acknowledged Dan, pausing before handing it to Trixie.  “You might want to check this, first, Trixie,” he warned.  “My punch didn’t taste quite right.”

 

Trixie took a sip and made a face.  “It definitely has an off taste to it.”  She tossed it into a nearby trashcan.

 

“Follow me, you two,” Dan motioned.  “I know where there’s a drink machine.  There’s no way anyone can mess up a bottled drink.”

 

Once at the machine Trixie gave a little yelp.  “Strawberry pop, my favorite.”

 

“I thought you’d like the selections here,” chuckled Dan.

 

“Thanks, Dan,” Robert took out a bill from his wallet.  “I’ll take it from here.”

 

Dan gave a slight shrug, “Glad I could be of help.  I need to get back to the dance anyway.”  He walked back towards the rest of the crow, not before giving a backward glace in Robert’s direction.

 

The dance came to an end and the five met in the courtyard of their dorm.  The girls paused as Jimmy held the door open for them to the lobby.   They nodded their thanks as they passed through.

 

“That was fun,” Honey announced. “I’m glad we decided to go after all.  I had a very good time.”

 

Trixie nodded,   “I had a good time too.”

 

“Do you mind if we walk you to your room?” CW offered.

 

“Sure, why not.”  Trixie motioned to the stairs.

 

Standing outside the girls’ dorm room, Honey fumbled for her key.  She unlocked the door and informed their escorts, “We’d invite you in, but we have a couple of phone calls to make.  It’s kind of late too.”

 

CW nodded in agreement. “We’ll head upstairs.  We need to do this again sometime.”

 

“Don’t forget our offer to join us one of these nights,” Jimmy added.

 

Trixie turned to go into the room, but she was stopped by Robert.  He stuck his hand out to shake while placing his free hand on her shoulder.

 

“I’d like to see you again,” he confessed. His grip tightened on both her shoulder and hand.  He was so close; she could see the pupils of his eyes constrict. 

 

Before Trixie could respond, he turned and walked away.

 

Once in the room, Honey was already on the phone with Brian.  Trixie sat on her bed and leaned against the headboard.

 

As Honey detailed the day’s activities, Trixie began to wonder if or how much she should tell Jim about the dance.  She didn’t have very long to come to decision when her cell phone chirped.  She looked at the caller ID display and answered.

 

“Hello?” 

 

“Hey, how was your first full day of college?”  Jim asked.

 

“Oh, fine,” she said in a strangled voice.

 

“Is there something the matter?  Your voice sounds funny.” 

“Oh, sorry, we just got back from a...” she paused, “a dance.  “We went with some folks from our dorm.” Since Jim doesn’t know about the co-ed dorm situation, he would assume that they went with other females.  She didn’t want to lie, but she also knew how overprotective he could be.

Jim laughed, “It sounds like you’re enjoying yourself so far.  Just don’t have too much fun, you shouldn’t forget about your classes,” he cautioned.  “So, what else has been happening?”

Trixie glossed over the day’s events, the workshops, the social and the dance.  She even included running into Dan at the event.  The entire conversation she carefully avoided mentioning that she and Honey had been in the company of men that night.

 

As she said her “miss you” and clicked off, she noticed that Honey was staring at her, curiously, from the other side of the room.

 

“You didn’t mention the guys?”  Honey observed.  “Why not?  I told Brian we met some nice gentlemen.”  She crossed the room to sit opposite of Trixie on her bed.  “Are you afraid that he’ll get jealous?”

 

Trixie drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly.  “I don’t know why I did that.” She began to worry.  “As soon as he talks to Brian, he’ll know the truth.”

 

“Brain was still at the library, working on a paper.  He was assigned an essay the first day.  I can’t guarantee what he might let slip later.”

 

“I suppose it wouldn’t matter if he found out that we’ve made friends with guys.  After all, we’re friends with Dan, and he’s a guy.” 

 

Honey giggled.  “Yes he is.”  She paused as if in reflection.  “Do you remember earlier today?  Did you notice what Robert said about him?  About his not dating?  I thought he would have had a string of girls while he was here last year.”

 

“He may have been too busy. Between his work-study hours and coming home practically every weekend to help Mr. Maypenny, it would make sense that he didn’t have the time,” Trixie speculated.  “Although he did seem to always have time to spend with us.”

 

Honey remembered, “He was also saving up for our trip this past summer.”  She sat upright.  “Speaking of trip, did you ever find out what happened between him and Amber?   I noticed he doesn’t mention her anymore.  There was more to that email, the one he read to us in the clubhouse, wasn’t there?”

 

Trixie nodded glumly, “I’m afraid so.  He’s supposed to tell me what was in it this Friday night.  I don’t think its good news at all.”

 

“I’m just glad that he has someone to confide in.  Mart’s too wrapped up in Di to be as close a friend to him as they were in high school.” 

 

Trixie leaned back on her bed, her head on her pillow.  “He’s been there for me several times, that’s for sure.” Her mind went back to the incident at the Buffalo River when Dan comforted her after Jim’s teasing. 

 

Honey stood and stretched.  “He’s a good friend.  I hope whatever happened between him and Amber doesn’t hold him back for too long.  I hope Friday night goes well and he’s able to let you in on the big secret.” She yawned, “We need to get to sleep.” 

 

Honey looked at Trixie for a response; however, Trixie was fast asleep. “Goodnight,” she whispered, “and good luck Friday.”

 

********

 

“I thought you set the alarm?” Trixie’s annoyance was showing.  They had overslept and arrived to a very busy cafeteria. 

 

Honey surveyed the scene.  “I’m sorry.  I guess we were both too exhausted to remember to set it.” 

 

As they meandered through the cafeteria they found a table that had two openings, one on either side of a male figure.  From the back, all they could tell about him was that he had a crew cut.  As they sat on either side, they both gave a huge smile of recognition.

 

Their new friend, Jimmy, welcomed the girls.  “It’s good to see you two this morning.  Are you two going to check out the business fair?”

 

“We meant to get up earlier, but we overslept,” Trixie explained.  Any blame for the alarm was quickly forgotten.  “Is the cafeteria usually this crowded?”

 

Jimmy shook his head. “It’s like this the first couple of weeks.  Practically everyone is in here for breakfast.  As the year wears on, you’ll see less and less, especially when the weather is bad or its cold.”

 

He stood. “I hate to run off, but I need to go to the ROTC building.  I have to meet with the other cadet leader before the freshmen report in.”  He gave a curt nod to the girls.  “Have fun at the fair.”

 

“He’s nice,” Honey commented as he walked away.  “In fact, I think all the people we have met since we’ve been here are wonderful.”

 

They ate hurriedly and put away their trays.

 

Honey checked her watch she gave a start.  “If we are going to take advantage of all the free stuff, we better get moving.”

 

**********

 

Once in the student center the girls wove their way from display to display.  At each one they stopped to take a brochure or other freebie and drop it in the large plastic bag they were given at the start of the line.  Their bags were quickly becoming full of cups, pens, pencils, and calendars.  They stopped to fill in information cards for drawings on things that interested them: free year’s membership to an area spa, free pizza for a year, free phone card, and trip for two to Branson, Mo.

 

As they left the area designated for the businesses, they entered the section for the health fair.  Here, they continued the procedure, putting items in their almost full bag. This time they were given samples of a variety of health products: cold medicine, deodorant, razors, and Band-Aids.  They were given pamphlets on staying healthy and eating right. 

 

As Trixie was seated to have her blood pressure tested, she lost sight of Honey.  Once the test was over with she began searching for her roommate.  She couldn’t be too far away. Trixie told herself. There she is….Trixie froze in her tracks.  Please tell me that is NOT what Honey is getting information on.

 

As Honey turned to leave, she saw Trixie and the look on her face.  She could tell her best friend was not going to be comfortable with the information she just received from the nurse.

 

*******

 

They left the center.  The awkwardness of what just transpired silenced the two during the walk back to their dorm. In their continued silence they unceremoniously dumped the contents of their bags on their beds. Finally, Honey broke the mood.

 

“I’m sure you want to know why I was at that particular booth,” she began.  “Brian…” Her face began to redden.  She cleared her throat.  “Brian and I… we…” 

 

Trixie held up her hand to stop Honey from continuing.  “Honey, I realize that you two are more than friends.  You don’t have to explain anything or apologize.”  It was Trixie’s face that began to redden now.  “Believe me.  This is not an easy subject to discuss with you, especially since it’s my brother you are involved with.  I realize we have our agreement about ‘don’t kiss and tell’, but if you really need someone to confide in, I’m here.”

 

Honey smiled sweetly, “I appreciate the offer.  And yes, it is something difficult to discuss with you.  I think I would have a hard time discussing it even if Brian wasn’t your brother.”  She nervously played with her hair.  She began to choose her words carefully.  “I’m just not ready to be that open about ‘it’ just now.  I do know that I need certain ‘information’.  Brian has always been prepared, but I wanted to make sure.”  She covered her face with her hands.  “I think I need to shut up now.”

 

Trixie hugged her embarrassed friend.  “Whenever you are ready, let me know.  Just give me a little warning first.  I need to prepare myself for the ‘ick’.”

 

“Thanks.” Honey gave a sigh of relieve. “And you do know if you really need someone to talk to about you and Jim, I’m here.”

 

Trixie snorted and rolled her eyes, “There’s nothing to tell about me and Jim.”

 

Honey wrinkled her forehead.  “NOTHING?  You mean you two?… you aren’t?...you haven’t...”  She saw the sober look on Trixie’s face.  “I think I need to shut up again.”

 

“It’s nothing really,” Trixie pursed her lips. “We’re just taking things slow, for now” 

 

Honey tactfully backed off.  She’ll open up, eventually. I hope.

 

Glancing at the clock, Trixie noticed that it was nearing lunch time.  “Why don’t we go back to the fair?  There’s supposed to be booths set up outside offering samples from the area restaurants.  I noticed they were setting up on our way back here.”

 

“That sounds yummy.” Honey grabbed her purse and keys.

 

********

 

The food booths were very busy.  Many of the restaurants were either offering free samples or smaller portions from their menu at a reduced rate.  The girls went from business to business filling their tray with many appetizing selections.

 

As they ate, they noticed CW and Robert near by.  The boys waved and motioned as if to ask if it were ok to join them.  Honey invited them over.

 

CW took the empty seat next to Honey.  “This is way better than last year.  I think practically every restaurant is here this year.”

 

“If I remember correctly, the only ones that showed up last year were the pizza restaurants and the barbeque place off the highway.”  Robert reached across the table, in front of Trixie for the salt and pepper.

 

Trixie froze. She became keenly aware that Robert was pressing his leg against hers.  She moved away slightly.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry.  Was I crowding you?” he apologized.

 

Trixie smiled and accepted his apology.  She looked across the table to see Honey’s reaction, but she was laughing at something that CW had just said.

 

It was just my imagination, Trixie convinced herself.  The chairs are very close together.

 

“All this food is so delicious,” Honey commented as she finished off her dessert. “I’ll be glad when I get my car here.  The cafeteria food isn’t too bad, but it will be nice to go out every once in a while.”

 

“You are welcome to join us anytime we leave campus,” CW offered. 

 

Robert stood and picked up his tray.  “Ladies, allow me. Give me your trays, and you can meet me at the exit area.”  He collected their trays and met the others.

 

Honey thanked him and announced, “I think I’m ready for a nap.  Trixie?”

 

“Me too,” she answered.  “We’ve have some extra time before the concerts start.”  She placed a hand on her stomach. “I don’t even want to think about dinner.”

 

Honey nodded in agreement.

 

CW grinned, “I guess you’ll be seeing me tonight then.”  He explained, “I’m in a band.  We are one of the groups that will be performing.  We specialize in country-western type music.”

 

“Oh, our friend Di would love that.  It’s too bad she’s at a different college,” Honey commented.

 

CW excused himself.  “I need to meet up with my buddies.  We have to get our equipment ready to set up.”

 

“I can walk you ladies back to the dorm, if that’s ok,” offered Robert.

 

“Sure, you’re going to the same place anyway,” Honey smiled appreciatively.

 

As they walked, Robert put a hand on both girls’ shoulders.  Trixie stiffened uncomfortably and then relaxed.  Why do I always have to be so suspicious?  She chided herself.

 

He bid the girls goodbye at their landing.

 

As they entered their room Honey commented, “We are so lucky.  I was so afraid that we would attract the wrong type of guys.  It’s nice to have some male friends that aren’t pushy.”

 

Trixie thought for a moment.  “I was thinking the same thing.  But, I’m not too sure about Robert.”  

 

But before she could voice her suspicions, Honey interrupted. “Oh, I know he’s a little overly friendly.  He seems harmless.  If Dan knows him, he must be alright,”

 

“Yeah, if Dan knows him…” Trixie let her voice trial off as she checked her email.

 

********

 

After a refreshing nap, they left for the concert.  They ran into Dan in the lobby.  “Are you on your way to the concert?”  He asked.  “I don’t have to work tonight.  I was planning on going for part of it.  I guess I’ll see you there?”

 

“We are on our way now. CW’s band is playing tonight,’ answered Honey.  “We’ll try to save a seat for you.”

 

Dan made a face.  “Good luck.  It is supposed to be crowded.  I’ll probably end up in the standing room only section.”

 

********

 

The crowd at the amphitheater was heavy, but the girls managed to find seats along the aisle.  The first group to play received a smattering of applause from the crowd.  “It looks like the people here aren’t much into jazz,” Trixie said.

 

“I think they were good. It’s just not everyone’s cup of tea,” declared Honey.

 

The next group to perform was CW’s band.  The crowed seemed to appreciate the music much more.  As lead singer, CW alternated between playing keyboards and guitar.  He thanked the audience for their enthusiasm when they demanded an encore.

 

The last group was very loud.  The girls had to plug their ears to not jeopardize their hearing.  Ten minutes into the set, Honey nudged Trixie and motioned, “I’m going back to the room,” she shouted.  “I’m getting hungry anyway.  We did skip dinner.”

 

Trixie nodded in agreement.  They pushed their way through the crowd before she finally could be heard.  “I really liked CW’s band.  That last group, I never could figure out what they were saying.”

 

Honey laughed, “I was thinking the same thing.  Everyone else seemed to like it okay though.”

 

********

 

Once in their room, Trixie looked at their pantry shelf and sighed.  “I feel like something more substantial than micro-wave popcorn or chips.”

 

“Me too,” agreed Honey.  “I know we just had it not too long ago, but how about we order a pizza?  We can use one of the discount cards we got today.   I’ll pay.”

 

“That sounds great. I heard that pizza is the staple food for the college age group,” quoted Trixie. “I’ll call it in and meet the delivery person in the lobby.”

 

Trixie hung up the phone.  “It will be here in thirty minutes,” she announced.

 

Honey waved at her from the computer.  “I left some money on my dresser.  There should be enough there for the pizza and a tip.”

 

Trixie pocketed the cash and grabbed her keys.  She closed their door behind her, checking to make sure it was locked.  You can never be too careful.  She remembered being told in their floor meeting.

 

 

******

 

She sat on one of the couches in the lobby.  Checking her watch, she noticed that she would have several minutes to wait.  I wish I had brought a book or something to read.  Just as the thought crossed her mind, Dan walked through the lobby doors.

 

“I didn’t see you at the concert.  Did you two left early?” 

 

“It got a little too loud for us, and we got hungry.  I’m waiting on a pizza.” 

 

 “Pizza sounds good right now.  Maybe I ought to order one too.  Who did you order from?”

 

Trixie told him the name of the pizza parlor, while Dan took out his cell phone to call in his order.  As he closed his phone he informed her, “I think they are going to deliver ours together.  The person that took my order said they had a pizza to deliver to this dorm already.”

 

As they sat and waited for their orders, Trixie recounted her day. She used some of best-friend’s tact and skipped over the discussion with Honey and the information she had been gathering.  She started to mention the uneasiness about Robert, when her suitemates, Nancy and Patti, walked in.  Patti was talking very loudly.  “I still think the second group was much better,’ she shouted.

 

Nancy shook her head and pointed at Patti’s ears and shouted, “You’re talking too loud.  Take those ear plugs out so you can hear.  You don’t need them anymore.”

 

Patti made a face and took out the foam ear plugs, “I thought I had lost my hearing from that loud racket.  I forgot I had those in.”

 

The roommates now noticed they had an audience.  “Hey you two,” Nancy greeted them. 

 

“Are you waiting one someone?”  Patti asked.

 

“Just a pizza delivery,” responded Dan.

 

As if on cue, the pizza delivery person appeared.  As Dan and Trixie got up to pay, Nancy and Patti bid their goodbye and disappeared up the stairs.

 

“I would invite you to join us, but I don’t know if Honey’s decent,” apologized Trixie.

 

Dan smiled. “No problem.  We can do pizza some other time.”

 

They had made it halfway up the stairs when Trixie turned back.  “I almost forgot. I’m out of strawberry pop.  Enjoy your pizza.”

 

She was standing in front of the lobby’s drink machine, when a voice came from behind, startling her.  “You’re not going to eat that entire pizza by yourself, are you?”

 

Trixie turned to the voice.  It was Robert.  “Here, let me hold that for you,” he insisted.  “You can’t buy your drink and hold the pizza at the same time anyway.”

 

“Thanks,” Trixie mumbled.  “I guess I can use the help.”  She put the change into the machine and made her selection.  “The pizza is for me and Honey,” she added.

 

“I didn’t think a little thing like you could eat an entire pizza,” he teased.  “You wouldn’t be able to keep your nice figure.”

 

Trixie stepped away from the drink machine; however she had to alter her path.  Robert was partially blocking her way to the lobby.  “Thanks again,” she squeaked.  “I think I can carry the pizza now.”  She reached for the box.

 

He insisted, “I don’t mind carrying it for you,”

 

“Ok,” Trixie gave in.  “You can carry it to my door.  But Honey’s not expecting anyone else.  You’ll have to leave from there.”

 

“Oh, I would never presume to invite myself,” Robert assured her.  He wordlessly followed her to her room. 

 

She unlocked the door and waited.  As promised he handed her the pizza.  As she took the box from this hand, he held onto it a moment longer and wished her a   “Goodnight.” 

 

Trixie managed a weak smile.  She waited until he walked away before she opened the door, closing it quickly.  She made sure to reach behind and lock it. 

 

Honey came out of the bathroom, “Great, the pizza’s here.”  She cocked her head to one side, “Are you okay?  Did you have enough money?”

 

Trixie realized that the expression on her face must have given away what had just transpired.  Since she was sure her suspicions were unfounded, she decided to pass off Robert’s over-friendliness as that, friendliness. Trixie’s face brightened.  “No, I had enough cash.  I ran into Dan downstairs and he ordered one too.”

 

They devoured the pizza down to the last crust. Trixie’s strawberry pop didn’t last through the fist two slices. She was forced to drink Pepsi.

 

As she leaned back in her chair Honey announced, “I can’t believe we just ate a large pizza between the two of us.”

 

Trixie burped, “Dan ordered a large too, but I bet he can finish his off by himself.”  She added, “Robert followed me to the door.  I kind of think he was hoping I’d ask him to join us.” 

 

“I suppose it would have been okay to invite him,” Honey said.   She pointed her finger to the ceiling “The person you really should have invited was Dan.  You know he’s all alone up there.”

 

Trixie closed the empty pizza box.  “He did mention we would have to have a pizza night sometime.”  She then proceeded to tell Honey about seeing Nancy and Patti in the lobby.

 

“We need to have a pizza night for all of us.” Honey surmised.  “I wonder if the ladies across the hall would be interested.”

 

Trixie thought for a moment. “They did say they had a late curfew on Friday nights.”  She added.  “Oh, and we have the Risk game night we’ve been invited to several times by the guys from Dan’s floor.”

 

Honey smiled and sighed, “We are certainly not going to be bored, are we?”

 

Together they cleared off their small table and put away their trash.  This time both girls made certain that the alarm was set.

 

Just before drifting off the sleep Honey mumbled.  “I can’t wait until Survivor Day tomorrow.  I just hope it doesn’t involve spiders or snakes.”

 

By the sound of her regular breathing, Trixie could tell Honey had fallen asleep. She looked her direction and remembered what had happened earlier that day. The fact that her best friend was seeking information about birth control, she could accept.  The fact that someone dating one of her brothers needed the information made her feel uncomfortable.  Just as she started drifting into and out of conscience she had a thought.  They had met so many new people.  She was looking forward to getting to know them better and making more friends.    When she thought about Robert she mentally kicked herself.  Here I was, jumping to conclusions, making assumptions.  It’s a good thing Mart’s not here.  He would have had a field day with me over this.  She drifted off to sleep.

 

**********

The next morning the song Eye of the Tiger, from Rocky III, woke them up

 

Trixie laughed as she turned off the alarm and Honey quipped, “I hope that’s an omen for today.  I would hate to make a fool of myself.”

 

“I think we need to eat a good breakfast,” Trixie noted as she got out of bed.  “We are supposed to meet in our commons at 8:30 for our assignments.”

 

They quickly ate breakfast and waited in their floor’s commons for the rest of the residents.  Soon the room was buzzing with excitement.  Annette held up a set of envelopes and announced, “You have all been placed in an event based on a lottery.  Your name was placed in a drawing and you were randomly placed in an event.  Each winning team will receive a certain amount of points according to how they place.   Some events are single competitor only.  Their points are awarded the same value as team points.   Each of those points will be added to the total.  The two floors with the highest points will play in the final event at the end of the day.”  She pointed at a poster and a stack of papers.  The papers have a map to each event.  The poster has the names of the team members listed per event, along with the location and time.”  She held up an envelope.  “Ready?”

 

To make it more dramatic, rather than allowing the girls to simply look at the poster, she read the names of the team members listed on the outside of the envelopes.  Inside each envelope was which event they were in, where it would be held, and a list of rules. 

 

Trixie heard her name called and Delmonica’s.  They stood, along with three girls from the other wing.  Annette looked at the five and cleared her throat.  “You girls are playing basketball.”  Delmonica walked over and gave each her roommates a high five.  “You will be wearing inflatable Japanese Sumo Wrestler Suits.”  The cheers died down.  “Delmonica’s mouth flew open.  She then rolled her eyes and quipped, “As long as I don’t have to eat any raw fish, I’ll wear a Geisha Girl outfit.”

 

Annette read through the next several events.  Finally, she was down to two.  So far, much to Honey’s relief, nothing included multi-legged or legless creatures.  Finally, Honey’s name was called.

 

Annette unfolded the paper.  “This group will put together a tent…. blindfolded.  Three members will put the tent together, while the fourth member reads the directions and acts as the eyes for the others.”

 

“That doesn’t sound too difficult,” Honey breathed a sigh of relief.  She began giggling, when she remembered the image of Brian and Mart trying to raise the tent that summer.  “I’ve got to remember to not get embarrassed if I mess up. Especially after the way I laughed at your brothers this summer,” she vowed to Trixie.

 

**********

 

Each team began reporting to their event’s location.  Since the starting times were staggered, students were able to cheer on their members.  Honey’s event was one of the first ones.  They arrived near the site of the tent construction contest just in time to see the ending of the boiled egg eating contest.  A very ill looking Patti was among the leaders.  Just as she shoved her last egg in, they called time.  She barely managed to swallow before the judge checked her mouth.  She was declared to come in third place.  Honey congratulated her just before stepping away to report in for her own event.

 

Trixie stayed long enough for the beginning of the guys’ round before departing for Honey’s competition.  She and the other spectators hooted when one of the competitors didn’t realize that the eggs were already shelled and spent the first few seconds attempting to “un-shell” his.

 

She made it to Honey’s competition to see the teams on stand-by, ready to start.  Honey had been selected to call out the instructions.  At the sound of the whistle the teams began.  Honey’s calm voice could barely be heard above the din; however, her team was pulling ahead for a large lead.  If they were making a mistake, she would stay unruffled under the pressure and gently correct them.  When the tent was together, she was able to step down from her platform and join the others.  The only thing left was guiding them into the tent and zipping it closed.

 

The team had won by such a very large margin that one of the judges came to their tent and invited them to step out and watch their competition. Honey went over to Trixie and through her laughter was able to say, “This is even funnier than watching your brothers put up that tent this summer.”

 

Since the last competition was Trixie’s Sumo/basketball game, she and Honey visited each venue.  Apparently their floor wasn’t doing as well at the other games.  They came in last place in the horse-shoe pitching, where they used toilet seats, instead of horseshoes.  They placed fourth in both the greased tug-of-war in the mud pit and the cardboard boat race.  They did win the “needle in the haystack” competition.  Nancy discovered that by taking off her shoes, she could find the three foot long, wooden “needle” much quicker.  The other events were a wash for their floor.

 

The only competition left before the basketball game was the jigsaw puzzle.  Each team was given the same jigsaw puzzle. Whichever one assembled it the shortest amount of time OR has the fewest pieces left when time was called won.  The other places would be determined by number of pieces left.  The whistle was blown and the teams began.  One group toppled their table and made a mad dash to find all their pieces.  Soon, attention fell to one table.  All the members had stepped aside save for one.  She was busy matching the pieces and was quickly finding its mate.  Trixie was close enough to one of the team members and overheard her gripe, “She just told us to flip them over, and she would do the rest.”  The informant made a sour face, “She wouldn’t even let us touch the edge pieces.” 

 

After she fit the last piece into place, the puzzle expert brushed her hands together and time was called. The other teams weren’t even close.  Shemeka came away from her table muttering, “Just let me put a ball through a hoop.  That’s more my style.”  She stopped in front on Trixie and shook her finger.  “I hope you can shoot a ball.”

 

“I hope I can too,” Trixie gulped.  She was beginning to feel nervous.

 

Delmonica prodded Trixie, “Come on.  We need to put those suits on and play some ball.”

 

Trixie and Delmonica helped each other to zip their suit and fill it with air.  Their other teammates did the same.  Trixie waddled over to Honey and pleaded, “Remind me what I look like in this the next time we eat an entire pizza.”  She added, “I am so glad that I decided to wear shorts today.  I’m going to burn up in this thing.”

 

As the game started, the teams seemed evenly matched.  In spite the fact that Trixie’s team had Delmonica’s height advantage, both teams were hindered by the suits.  At one point, Delmonica attempted a lay-up, but she ended up landing on her back.  The referee had to help her up.

 

Trixie managed to score one basket to Delmonica’s two.  The other team, however, was able to come out on top at the buzzer.

 

At the end of the game the crowd’s noise, as had it been throughout the entire ballgame, was a mixture of cheers and laughter.  Trixie bounded over to Honey and asked for help in getting out of the suit.

 

“I think you did very well, considering,” Honey praised her roommate.

 

Trixie snorted, “Oh yeah, real well.  We scored a whole six points.”

 

“But the other team only scored eight,” Honey reminded her.  “Besides, you all looked so cute out there.  It’s too bad we didn’t video it.”

 

“Thank goodness for that,” Trixie began toweling the sweat off her face and limbs.

 

Somewhere, out of the site of the crowd, a camera was recording.  The operator stopped and checked the timer.  There was over an hour of images, total.  That ought to be enough, for now.  They backed away slowly and left their hiding place.

 

Annette met with the contestants as they assembled outside the dorm. She broke the news to them, “Good job, but we came in fourth place. Our girls from the third floor are in the finals.  They will play Bernard Hall’s second floor.  Our guys on the fourth floor also made the finals.  They’ll play State Hall’s third floor. There will be one event, an obstacle course.”

 

*******

 

After a quick shower, they stopped off at the student center to check their mail before heading over to the field where the finals were held.  Just as they were leaving they caught up with Dan.

 

“Why didn’t you compete for your floor?” asked Honey.  “I bet you would have been a big asset.”

 

“I had to report to the station this morning for training.  They are always changing something, in an effort to improve our services.  This time, it’s the radio system.  I had to prove to them I could use one before they would issue it to me.”

 

When they reached the stadium, they took a seat near the middle of the stands.

 

The field was a maze of rope courses, towers, platforms, poles, rock walls, rope ladders, and other physically challenging apparatus.  Each team would have a turn through the course.   To narrow down the team members, lots were drawn to reduce the size.  Each team had seven team members.  Each member had to complete the course.  If they fell off, they had to start again.  Again, the team with the fastest time would win.

 

“That looks like something they have in a police academy or boot camp,” Dan pointed out.

 

The ladies’ teams were first to square off.  Both teams seemed evenly matched.  The final contestant for both squads determined the outcome.  The last member of Wingo Hall’s team crossed the finish line just ahead of the Bernard Hall competitor.  The contest was over.  Wingo’s team had won.

 

The men’s teams approached the course. Although their time was much better than the girls’, the victory was also determined by the last two players. This time, State Hall’s representatives came out on top.

 

Dan held his hands out to help both girls up.  “Are you two ready for dinner?  We can walk together to the cafeteria.”

 

“That would be nice.  We haven’t seen as much of you the last day or so,” Honey chastised him.

 

While they were in the cafeteria Dan reminded them, “Don’t forget about the speaker tonight.  He was here last year.  He’s really funny.”

 

Trixie asked, “Aren’t you going?”

 

Dan yawned, “I have got to get some sleep.  I’ve got an early class tomorrow.  I can’t afford to be late the first day.”

 

“Oh yeah, classes,” Honey giggled.  “I almost forgot we had those.”

 

“We keep saying that, hoping they’ll go away,” Trixie informed him.

 

“Who do you want to go away?” CW asked as he sat beside her.  He, Jimmy and Robert joined them at their table.

 

Jimmy feigned hurt, “I hope it’s not me?”

 

“No silly,” Trixie assured him. “We’re just not quite ready for classes to start.”

 

“At least Trixie and I have most of our classes together,” Honey added.  She checked her watch.  “I suppose if we are going to the program tonight, we need to do some laundry first. We have a couple of hours until it starts.”

 

“Ugh, laundry,” Trixie made a face.  “We do need clean towels.”

 

Robert announced, “I need to run along too. I’d like to go to that tonight myself.”  He excused himself and quickly left the table.

 

Poor guy, I don’t think he touched a thing on his plate, noticed Honey.

 

 

***********

 

Once in the room, the girls began to separate their laundry.  Trixie volunteered to man the machines.  In preparation for college life, Mrs. Trask had ‘trained’ Honey in the fine art of washing clothes.  Trixie promised her roommate that she didn’t mind.  “Besides, we can always take turns.  You can have laundry duty next time.”

 

Trixie began making several trips to their floor’s laundry room.  She was returning to place the clothes in the dryer.  The only dryers available were the ones on the top row.  Just as she reached, up, to turn the handle, she caught a reflection of someone in the glass of the dryer’s window.  A hand reached around her and grasped the knob.

 

“Allow me.” The voice was familiar.  The hand brushed past hers and twisted the knob until the machine started.

 

She froze, unable to move.  She could feel his breath on the back of her neck.  But just as suddenly as he stepped behind her, he backed off.

 

Trixie turned and thanked him, her voice a little shaky.  “Oh, you startled me.  Thanks for the help.”  She wondered aloud, “Why are you on our floor?”

 

Robert seemed anxious as he explained,   “I was here to visit someone and happened to pass by.  I saw you straining to reach the starter switch.  I apologize if I made you feel uncomfortable.  I was only trying to help a damsel in distress.”

 

Trixie relaxed. “I appreciate your help.  You’ve been so nice the past few days.”  She added sheepishly, “I have a bad habit of being too suspicious sometimes.  I need to learn to relax and not jump to conclusions.”

 

“No problem.  I suppose I’ve been coming on too strong.  He bowed his head and looked downward, “I’ve had problems with… making friends in the past.”

 

The sound of a throat clearing broke the tension in the room.  Natalie stood in the doorway, a laundry basket in her arms.

 

“Excuse me.  I’ve got to get my clothes out of the dryer.”  Natalie crossed between the two. “The only thing I had that was clean was this,” motioning to her jersey, “and coach doesn’t like us to wear these out of the gymnasium.”

 

“Honey and I were hurting for towels,” Trixie informed the basketball player.  She glanced in Robert’s direction and noticed that he had vanished. He definitely has problems making friends, Trixie decided.

 

*************

The program that night was wonderful.  The speaker delivered a presentation that was not only inspirational and motivational, and he used humor to punctuate his points.  It ended promptly, at 9:00.  Then Dr. Cagle addressed the crowd at the conclusion, reminding the students to apply what the presenter had discussed and to get a good night’s sleep for the start of classes the next day.

 

“Sleep?”  Honey repeated as they strolled back to their dorm, among the throng of attendees, “I’m afraid that I’m going to be too excited to sleep.”

 

Trixie agreed, “It’s going to take me a while to wind down.”  She was about to make another comment, when she suddenly got a sense of uneasiness.  She quickly forgot about it as they entered their dorm.

 

**************

 

As they collapsed on their beds, Honey suddenly sat up.  “Do you know what we forgot to do?”

“What?”  Trixie sat up and looked around the room. The door was locked and they had already laid out their clothes for the next day.  “What is it?

Honey grabbed her cell phone.  “When was the last time we called our boyfriends?”

 

Trixie checked the clock.  “It has been a day or two.  It shouldn’t be too late to call now.”  She giggled, “Moms told me that she can remember when people actually wrote letters and mailed them.”

 

Honey half listened to Trixie’s conversation as she looked at a magazine.  Brian didn’t answer, and he had left a voice mail informing her that he had an early lab the next morning. He would be turning off the ringer on his phone in order to get some much-needed sleep. 

 

Honey noticed that Trixie was now more open with Jim about their new friends, mentioning them by name.  Good, it doesn’t need to look like she’s trying to hide anything from him.  Telling him and Brian about the dorm, that’s going to take a lot of tact from both of us.  She knew the conversation was finished when Trixie mentioned her standard sign-off, ‘Miss you’ but before hanging up, she added,   “I almost forgot, Honey and I did laundry today and the funniest thing happened.  When we started sorting our clothes, we were both missing some things.”  She began laughing while trying to describe what the thief took.

 

Honey added from across the room, “Tell him that I hope that they are happy with what they ended up with.  I doubt any of your things will fit them, and they only took one of my shirts.”

 

Trixie disconnected, “He suggested that one of us stay with the laundry next time.  He said we could take a book or do our homework while we are waiting.”

 

“I would much rather find a machine that locks, so we don’t lose anymore clothing.”  Honey snorted, “I can’t imagine that we have an underwear thief in the dorm.”

 

Trixie began laughing, “I’ve heard of panty raids before, but I thought they came into your room and took them from your dresser or begged for them below the window.”  She sobered, “I’m sure that I probably dropped them between the machines, or I might have accidentally left them in one of the dryers.  I did have a hard time seeing into them. They were too high for me to get a good view.”

 

********

 

Day one of classes started very smoothly for the two.  Their first class, American History I, was second period.  The professor entered the room, very stern and cold face.  He then broke into a smile that resembled the smile the Grinch had in the famous Christmas cartoon.  Dr. Corcoran turned to the board and began writing an outline.  He would pause, occasionally, to scan the room with that same grin.  When finished, he turned and started lecturing.  At the conclusion, he announced the test schedule and passed out the class syllabus. 

 

As they left the building, Trixie commented.  “I thought they took it easy on you the first day.  I haven’t written so much, so fast, ever.”

 

“I may need to get a voice recorder, if I’m to keep up,” Honey decided.  She stopped walking.  “It looks like this is where we depart.  I have psychology next and you’ll have Biology later.”

 

Trixie sighed, “It’s still a shame we couldn’t get all our classes together.  We can blame the computer for splitting us up.”

 

After an early lunch, Trixie trudged up the hill to the science center.  According to the clock in the hall, she could tell that she was a few minutes early.  Good, I need to make sure that I get a seat close to the front, she reminded herself.  I had a hard time seeing the board in that History class.

 

She entered the almost empty lecture hall and selected a seat on the front row, near the center of the room.  Just as she settled down and took out her book and binder, the room began to fill rapidly.  Thank goodness I got here early.

 

A door opened off to the side, and an older, kindly looking gentleman in a lab coat entered.  He handed a clipboard and pen to one of the students on the end of the row.  “I hope you like where you are sitting today.  I’m passing around a seating chart.  Please make sure that you fill in your name in the position that you are sitting in now.”

 

A few groans went up from the class.  “I’m sorry,” he apologized.  “I’ve got to have a method for taking roll. A seating chart will help.  When you attend your lab class, you will have been assigned your lab table.”  He smiled.  “Are we ready to get started?”  He pointed at his ID tag.  “I’m Dr. Kirkwood, welcome to Biology.”

 

Trixie was thankful that her Biology class didn’t last the entire time slot.  Dr. Kirkwood used the first day to describe his course, the expectations, and the days that they would be taking field trips, with optional, overnight studies.

 

When she arrived at the room Honey was already there, busily typing on the computer.  She made a face, “That psychology professor that I was warned about? He’s already assigned homework.”  Honey resumed typing, “I thought I would start this before I head over to my Biology class.”  She stopped typing again and put her hands to her face.  “Oh Trixie, I’m sorry.  I guess I let myself be flustered by ‘Dr. Freeze’.” 

 

“Dr. Freeze?”  Trixie looked at Honey’s schedule that was posted on the cork board.

 

“That’s what students call him behind his back,” Honey explained.  “It’s actually Dr. Feese.  I can’t believe that I, Miss Tact, Miss Nice, have stooped to calling people names, but this professor is simply horrible.” She stifled a giggle, “They call him something else, but this is the nicer of the two.”

 

“What did he do?”  Trixie encouraged her to continue.

 

“He came in, told the class to ‘shut up’ so he could call roll.  Then, he cursed about the bookstore being out of his required textbook. After that, he jumped immediately into his lecture.  He even went over by a couple of minutes and informed us that we are not to leave until he is finished.” 

 

Trixie was aghast, “How are people going to make it on time to their next class if he does that?” 

 

Honey shrugged and continued, pointing at the monitor. “I’m writing a paper right now that he assigned.  He wants everything emailed to him.  He said something about not wanting to handle ‘dirty, germ infested papers’.”

 

“It sounds like he has a few problems himself.  Maybe he should see one of his fellow psychology professors.”  Trixie gulped, “I hope my instructor isn’t as strange as yours.”

 

Honey picked up her book bag.  “I hope so too.  Well, I’m off to Biology.  Do you want to meet in the cafeteria when I get out?”

 

Trixie agreed and began going over the notes and syllabuses from the day’s classes.  When she noticed the clock, it was nearing time to meet Honey for dinner.  Just as she was about to leave, there was a knock on the door.  She opened it without asking who it was.

 

Dan was standing on the other side. “I was hoping that you would be ready to go to the cafeteria,”

 

Trixie smiled, “You’re just in time.  I was just leaving to meet Honey.”

 

Dan held out the crook of his arm.  “Well then, let me escort you.”

 

They continued walking arm in arm as they walked down the hall.  They stopped at the stairwell to make way for a group coming up.  They said hello to Trixie’s neighbors.  The ‘Sugar Bears’ had apparently just left one of their drills.

 

“How’d your first day of classes go?”  Shemeka asked.  The foursome stopped to hear Trixie’s answer.

 

“Terrific, I’ve only been to two classes so far,” she replied.   “Honey had three today.  We’re on our way to meet her for dinner.” 

 

“I’m too tired to eat right now,” Terri swabbed her forehead with a towel.  “We’ll go just before they shut down.”  She pushed the others down the hall.  “We need to clean up anyway.  See you later.” 

 

As the girls walked away, Trixie remembered the incident in the laundry room.  “Dan, how often do people have their clothes stolen or lost in the laundry?”

 

Dan scratched his head, “I think it happens more than people report.  Unless it’s something expensive, like a jacket, most people don’t worry about it.”  His voice took a serious tone, “Did you girls have something stolen?”

 

Trixie rolled her eyes.  “It’s nothing.  Like you said, nothing missing was expensive, and I’m not too sure that I didn’t drop them or leave them behind myself.”

 

“Always double check the machines,” Dan advised her.

 

Trixie admitted, “I was in a hurry.”  She added, “Jim suggested that we read or do homework while we wait.”

 

Dan agreed, “That’ll also work.”

 

**********

 

Honey reported that Biology went much better than her Psychology class.  “My lab is on Wednesday, at 11:00.  When’s yours Trixie?”

 

“Mine is after lunch on Friday,” she answered between bites of salad.

 

Dan stabbed at a cherry tomato, chasing it across the plate with his fork.  “It sounds like your classes are going ok, so far?”

 

“I think the only class that I’m going to have trouble with is my Psychology, at least that’s the only one at this point,” Honey responded.

 

Trixie reflected for a moment.  My classes have been so far, so good.   “Tomorrow we’ll have English together, first thing.  Later, I’ll have the Biology lab and finish up with psychology in the afternoon.”

 

Dan reached out and touched Trixie on the arm.  “Speaking of tomorrow, are we still on for tomorrow night?”

 

“Definitely,” Trixie assured him, “I’m looking forward to it.”

 

“I hope you don’t mind walking?”  Dan asked hesitantly. “The restaurant isn’t too far.”

 

“Gleeps no,” Trixie declared.  “I need to exercise anyway.”

 

Dan excused himself from the table.  “If I’m to have tomorrow night off, I need to report in now.  They are really open to letting us schedule our shift times around our classes and ‘social’ schedule.  As long as we put our hours in or are willing to help out with crowd control at the games and special events, they’ll work with us.”

 

*******

 

Honey phoned Brian the minute they returned to the room.  His classes were now in full swing.  Jim had a late class but had left word with Brian that he would call Trixie when it was over.

 

As Honey clicked off, she remembered, “Oh, I almost forgot.  I spoke to Mother and Daddy today.  They’ll be here after lunch on Saturday.  They’ll be coming in my car, and Mother will ride back with your parents.  Father is going to follow them back in Regan’s truck,” She giggled.  “Mother declined the offer to ride with him.  She said that your Mom and she would need time to discuss what necessities we need for our dorm room.  She assumes we are living so primitively here.”

 

Trixie slapped her forehead.  “I almost forgot they were going to be here Saturday.  I guess they’ll find about our co-ed living arrangements soon enough.”

 

“I’m sure that they won’t like it at first,” Honey guaranteed.  “I’m just still dreading telling Brian and Jim.”

 

For the next several minutes they went over the notes from their History class.  Then, they split off and organized their own notes from their other courses.  Trixie wanted to make certain that she started off on the right foot. 

 

Honey answered a knock on their door just as Trixie’s cell phone began ringing.

 

“I’ll leave you to talk in private,” she whispered.  “Nancy and Patti have invited me to go with them to the store.”

 

Trixie nodded her goodbye, waving at their suitemates, as they stood in the doorway.  For the next hour she and Jim discussed their classes.  Trixie described her first day, adding that Honey’s first day didn’t go as smoothly.

 

Before hanging up, Jim fell silent.  Finally, he spoke, “I guess I’ll talk to you tomorrow night.  What time were you planning on calling?”  Trixie remembered that she and Dan had their meeting planned.  “I guess…” she thought for a moment, “I can call you just after 8:00.”

 

“Why so late?”  Jim teased. “You don’t have a date that you’re not telling me about, do you?”

 

“No, I don’t have a date.  I’m just going to eat with Dan.  He invited me at the beginning of the week,” she said in a rush.

 

“You mean Honey’s not going?”  Jim asked.  There was a hint of suspicion in his voice.

 

Trixie held her breath.  She wasn’t trying to hide anything from Jim, but she was sure that Dan wouldn’t want his personal business shared with just anyone. “I don’t think Honey was around when we discussed going out to eat.  Besides,” she assured him, “it’s just Dan.”

 

“Ok,” he responded tersely.  Trixie was sure that he wasn’t convinced that she was telling the entire truth. “I’ll call you tomorrow at 8:00. Don’t forget to leave your phone on this time.”  Just before hanging up his voice softened, “I miss you.”

 

“Miss you too,” Trixie repeated, just as Honey walked in the door.

 

“Let me guess,” Honey put her hands on her hips.  “You were talking to my brother.”

 

“You’re going to make a terrific detective,” predicted Trixie.  “How’d you ever figure it out?”

 

Honey rolled her eyes, “Who else would you be talking to.  Besides, you were talking to him before I left, remember?”

 

***************

 

They watched the local weather before selecting the clothes to wear the next day.  Just before setting their alarm, Honey snapped her fingers.  “I almost forgot.  The girls invited me to go out tomorrow night.  I hope Dan will let me borrow the truck, they said we will need it.  Julie and Lisa from down the hall are going too.  I hope we can get five in the cab of Regan’s truck.” 

 

Trixie stretched and yawned, “There are three seat belts in the front and three in the back.  You all will fit.”  She cocked her head, “Say, where are you going?”

 

Honey shook her head.  “I don’t know where exactly that we are going after we eat, but Julie said that I need to get the truck, first.  Then, we can decide what we’ll do from there.”

 

“I’m sure Dan will loan it to you.  Beside, he said we’ll walk to the restaurant tomorrow.”

 

*********

 

Their first class on Friday was English Composition.  This was another class that they shared.  The instructor did as most instructors do on the first day.  He went over his course description and expectations.

 

As the class was dismissed, Honey buffed her fingernails on her shirt and inspected them.  “Well, I’m done for the day.  Beatrix?  What are your plans?”

 

Trixie cringed. Dr. Hudson had called roll and before she could stop him, he called her Beatrix.  She did request that he refer to her by her nickname, but he smiled and reminded her that she shared her name with a famous author, Beatrix Potter.  “I hope I don’t have to go through that with every professor.  Yesterday no one called me by that name,” Trixie frowned.

 

After stopping off at the dorm to drop off Honey’s books and vote for dorm counsel, they decided to check their mailbox at the student center.  Honey spotted Robert in the post office and waved at him.  He came over to join them.  “Did you ladies get mail from home?”

 

“Actually yes,” Trixie showed him.  “My little brother has written me.” 

 

Robert took the envelope from her hand and turned it at several angles. “His handwriting… is he practicing to become a doctor?” he jested.

 

“No, that would be my oldest brother,” Trixie answered taking the letter back.  “I’m sure that he didn’t take his time when he was writing.  They’re coming up tomorrow anyway.  I guess he misses his big sister.”

 

“I assume tomorrow’s going to be a busy day then?” he asked. 

 

“This visit we’re not dreading as much as the one from our boyfriends,” Honey announced. 

 

“Oh?”  Robert quizzed, his interest piqued.

 

“No one back home is aware that we live in a co-ed dorm.  I think our parents will be ok with it, once they realize how safe it is.  Our boyfriends, however, are a different story.” 

 

Trixie finished, “We’re not too sure how they will react.”

“Oh, I can’t imagine they’d be mad at you,” he grinned.  “Or you,” he added, turning to Honey. 

Honey patted him on the arm.  “You’re so sweet to say that. I think we were going to eat lunch now.  Would you like to join us?”

 

Robert took a step back, as if contemplating their offer.  “Thanks for inviting me.  I would like to, but I need to get back to my room.”

                                                                                                                                                                                          

As he hurried away, Honey shook her head.  “You’re right; he can be a little strange.  He doesn’t seem all that comfortable around us.  At least there are times when he’s not. Other times he’s very personable.” 

 

Trixie didn’t hear her. She was reading Bobby’s letter.  Apparently he had been grounded from the computer.  From what he described, he wandered onto some web sites that weren’t suitable for his young eyes.  He tried to convince Moms that he was researching information on ‘organisms’ for his science class.  Apparently, he typed it in wrong and the computer was flooded with adult web sites.  He mentioned that Moms didn’t speak to Dad for two days because, “it sure took him a long time to get the bad windows closed.”

 

After eating a light lunch, Trixie headed for her Biology lab.  As she entered the room, she noticed a chart on the wall.  As promised, the lab tables had been assigned.  She breathed a sigh of relief when she noticed that they were listed by last name first, then first initial. At least I won’t hear Beatrix called out.

 

She found her station and noticed that there was already someone there. As she took a seat, he looked up from the paper he was looking at and motioned to the stack in the middle of the table.  “It’s the lab rules,” he informed her. 

 

She took one of the packets and before she could finish reading it, the other two partners joined them.  Both girls quickly took the packets.  All four quietly scanned the rules and procedures while waiting for the class to begin.  A twenty-something man in a ball cap entered the room and took position at the front, near the demonstration table.

 

“I’m Mr. Rippy,” he introduced himself.  “I’ll be coordinating this lab for Dr. Kirkwood.” He explained how the lab was weighted to equal twenty-five percent of their total grade.  “Theoretically, you can fail the lecture part of the class and make an “A” in here and still pass the course,” he explained.  “Since we really have nothing to have a lab over today, I’m going to let you go early.  I will remind you that if you do need extra credit, there are the optional overnight research trips that can really pull your grade out of the danger zone.”

 

Trixie exhaled and looked at the three at her table.  “I hope I won’t need that much extra help.  It’s math that I struggle with.”  The others smiled politely.

 

One of the latecomers pulled away from the table. “I’m out of here, you coming?” The other girl responded with just a nod. 

 

As the class filed out, Trixie’s male partner held out his hand and introduced himself.  “I’m Mike.  I would have introduced myself earlier, but those other two arrived and then class started.  I think I remember you from the lecture class. You sit a couple of rows in front of me.  I see we both like to sit towards the front.”

 

Trixie admitted to his assumption. “I’m so short.   I’ve got to make sure that I can see the board.”  She jumped off the lab stool.  “See?” She demonstrated her lack of height.

 

“I can understand totally,” he declared.  As he slid off his stool, Trixie observed that he appeared to be not much taller than she.

 

Trixie giggled in surprise. “It appears we have more in common than Biology class.”

 

As they left the room, he started up the conversation again.  “I noticed that you got a little tense when he was calling row.  Is there something wrong with your last name?”

 

“No,” she admitted.  “It’s my first name that I hate.  I prefer to go by my nickname.”

 

“I’m the same way, sort of.”   He stopped and held the door for her as they walked into the warm September afternoon.

 

“Oh?”  Trixie looked amused, as they walked down the hill, away from the building.

 

“I prefer my given name, Michael or Mike.  I hate my nickname I had growing up.”

 

Trixie stopped, “What could be that bad?”

 

Her new friend made a face, “Growing up, my family called me Mikey.  Look at me,” He gestured at himself.  “As shrimpy as I am, I don’t need any reminders.”

 

Trixie held up her hand.  “I can do you one better.  My real name is Beatrix.  I prefer to be called Trixie.”

 

“Beatrix?”  Mike thought for a moment.  “It sounds like an,” he paused

 

 “An old maid’s name, yes,” she finished.

 

As they approached the student center Mike asked, “If you don’t have anything to do for the next few minutes, would you care for a frozen coffee or a cold drink?”

 

Trixie looked at her schedule.  “We did get out of lab early, and my next class isn’t until 3:00.”  She smiled at the young man, “Sure I’ll join you.”

 

They found a table and he soon returned with two frozen coffees. “I hope you like mocha,” he apologized.  “I forgot to ask what you wanted.”

 

“No problem,” Trixie assured him.

 

For the next several minutes they introduced themselves.  Trixie learned that Mike was on an athletic scholarship and was hoping to get an offer from a larger, four year university.  He explained that his scholarship didn’t cover all of his expenses. “This past summer, I worked for a country club. I did the landscaping and mowed the area around the clubhouse and practice greens.  Because my hours were so irregular, I was able to use the facilities during closing hours.”

 

“Just what were your summer hours?”  Trixie asked politely.

 

“I would go in at 5:00am and use the weight room or swim laps.  By the time the club opened, I was finished with my workout and could start my landscaping or mowing. The grass was dry enough by then.   I was able to leave by noon to practice.  Then, I returned in the evening to finish any lawn work.  I could also complete my workout or concentrate on a target area once they had closed, or providing that there were no members around.”

 

“Practice?”  Trixie looked at the young man as if trying to guess.  “Ok, I have got to know.  What sport are you on scholarship for?”

 

The young man blushed slightly.  “I’m on the wrestling team.”

 

“Wrestling?”  Trixie blurted.  Her thoughts immediately went to Ms Trask’s fascination of professional wrestling.

 

“Before you go there,” he held up a hand.  “This is not WWE.  The type of wrestling I do is the style you see in the Olympics.  Not ‘professional’ wrestling.”

 

Trixie began to study the young man.  He was very tanned.  No doubt from all that time in the sun.  His short cropped, spiked hair was obviously bleached blond.  Again, thanks to the sun” The shadow on his face revealed that his natural hair color to be a bit darker. She then noticed his arms.  Gleeps, you can see the veins on his upper arms.  He must work out a lot.

 

“So, tell me about yourself,” he insisted.

 

Trixie told him about her family, her friends, and fellow Bob-Whites.  She then explained how she and Honey had plans to become detectives and open their own agency.  “But I messed up royally on our college hours,” she confessed.

 

“How so?” 

 

“I didn’t take into account that we would need an associate’s degree to continue our education at a university.  I was only looking at the hours necessary to get a certificate in Criminology or Small Business Management.  It’s going to take a lot longer for us to get our degrees.  I was just being my impetuous self when I figured our hours.”  She buried her head in her hands. “I tend to do that a lot.  I jump the gun or make rash decisions without thinking.”

 

He consoled her, “I think we all do that from time to time. Most people at Junior colleges take a lot longer than two years to get their degrees or certificates.   I’m going to have to stretch out my scholarship and hours too.  I’ll have to attend summer classes to work around my wrestling season’s schedule.”

 

“Schedule?”  Trixie jumped up.  “How late is it?  I’ve got another class.” 

 

Mike cleaned off their area.  “I’ve got one too.” He tossed their trash into a nearby bin. 

 

He once again held the door open for her as they left the building.  “We can finish our conversation as we walk, if you don’t mind the company.   Where’s your next class?”

 

“The Human Research and Development building,” Trixie glanced at her agenda. 

 

He slowed his stride.  “My next class is in the same building.”  He picked up his pace.  “Come on.”

 

As they walked, he shared more about his background.  He was an only child.  His parents were older when they had them.  Like the Beldens they didn’t have a lot of money but lived comfortably.  He was also very good at math.  “I had to use it all the time for my landscaping.  It was mostly applying what I learned in geometry.”

 

“I stink at math,” she informed him.

 

“I’m here if you need a tutor,” he offered.  “I did okay in Algebra and Trigonometry.”

 

Once they were inside the building, the approached the same room.

 

“Don’t tell me,” he chortled “We have the same psychology class?”

 

“Oh my gosh, I guess we do.”

 

The introduction to Psychology was very brief.  The Professor Morrow introduced himself and advised the students to make certain that they had the correct text book.  “Apparently, students are buying the wrong text and one of my colleagues is very miffed at the fact that his chosen text is disappearing from the selves.”  Before dismissing he also issued a warning.  “I realize that this is the last class for most of you leading into the weekend.  Please make every effort to attend.”

 

“Boy, that was the fastest class ever,” declared Trixie.

 

Mike agreed, “I’ll say.  I hope all his classes are that brief.”

 

“One good thing,” Trixie noticed “I now have someone I know in all my classes.  My roommate, Honey, and I have all our other classes together.”

 

“Well, if you need help studying,” he held his hand to his heart, “I’m here.”

 

As Trixie headed toward her dorm, she and Mike discussed the overnight trips planned for their biology class.  “I hope I can go,” he confessed. “I don’t have a car.  Unless they provide transportation, I’ll have to bow out.”

 

“Surely they’ll do that,” Trixie assured him.  “If not, I’m certain Honey wouldn’t mind driving us.”

 

“Um, do you know where we’re going?”  He inquired sheepishly.

 

“I’m heading back to my dorm, and I suppose you’re following me,” Trixie guessed.

 

“That too, but I think we’ve run out of path.”  He pointed at the fact that the path they were on had ended.  Before them was a drop off, leading to the sidewalk below.

 

Trixie noticed the distance, “Oh great. Now we’ll have to turn back.”

 

“Wait,” Mike said has he leapt off the edge of the hill onto the ground below. “It’s not that bad,” he announced.  He held his arms up, “Here, I’ll catch you.”

 

Trixie hesitated for a few moments. “Sure, why not.”  She jumped into his waiting arms.

 

As he caught her gently around the waist, she placed her hands on his shoulders for balance.  They were now just inches apart.  She froze in position as she noticed more things about her new friend.

 

Golly, he’s REALLY not much taller than me.  And, oh my, his upper arms and shoulders, they are rock hard, solid. He has dimples. When he smiles, he has dimples.  His eyes.  In the sunlight his eyes took on an altogether new hue.  His eyes are gold!  They look like a kaleidoscope.  There are flecks of green, blue and aqua.

 

“Trixie, what’s wrong.  Did you land on your ankle?”  He bent down to check.

 

“No, I’m ok.” She covered herself, “It’s just… that was some jump,” 

 

He straightened up and glanced around, “Where to now?” 

 

Trixie pointed in the direction of her dorm, “I live in Wingo Hall”

 

Mike seemed impressed, “Wow, that’s a nice dorm.  I ended up in State Hall. It’s older than yours, and we have communal showers, but our rooms are supposed to be bigger.”

 

“Maybe if we decide to study together, we can visit each other’s dorm.  We can compare then,” she suggested.

 

“Sure, we’ll have to see how badly we need each other’s help.  May I walk you to your dorm this time?”  He offered.

 

 “Of course, it’s not too far from here.”

 

As they approached the building, Trixie noticed a group had gathered in the courtyard, sitting on the patio furniture. Among the group was Nancy, Patti, Delmonica, Shemeka, and two girls that she didn’t recognize.  In the center of the group was Honey.  The conversation dwindled as she and Mike approached. 

 

“Hi,” Trixie waved.  “We got out early from our Psychology class.”

 

The group had taken a keen interest in her companion, Honey in particular.

 

She introduced him, “Everybody, this is Mike. He and I have a couple of classes together.”  She introduced each person, allowing the two girls she didn’t know to introduce themselves.  She found out that the two were Julie and Lisa.

 

At the end of introductions Honey addressed Trixie, “Trixie, don’t you have somewhere you need to be tonight?”

 

Trixie apologized to Mike, “I’m sorry.  I’m supposed to go to dinner with a friend.  I guess I’ll see you Monday.”

 

“In Psychology,” he added.  “I need to take off anyway.  I have to report in to coach for my practice schedule.”

 

“Coach? Practice?”  Delmonica quizzed.

 

“He’s on the wresting team,” Trixie explained.  “He’s on scholarship.”

 

The attention had caused Mike to blush slightly. “It was nice meeting everyone.”  He gave a smile and wished a goodbye as he exited the courtyard.

 

As he walked off, Shemeka commented.  “Wrestling?  He can pin me to a mat anytime.”

 

Delmonica pulled down her sunglasses and clicked her tongue.  “Sorry, too short.” 

 

“You know what they say about dynamite.” reminded Nancy.

 

At that last comment, Honey stood and reminded Trixie once more, “Trixie, I think you need to get ready, now.”

 

Confused by Honey’s abrupt behavior, Trixie mumbled under her breath, “Yeah, sure thing, whatever”

 

They crossed the lobby in silence. As they ascended the stairs Trixie finally asked, “What’s wrong?”

 

Honey stopped to apologize, “I’m sorry.  When you walked up with that, that, hunky guy, my imagination suddenly wondered if you had forgotten about Jim.”

 

Trixie repeated, “Hunky?  I confess, he is nice looking, but I just met him.  We have a couple of classes together. He’s just a friend.”

 

Honey apologized again.  “You’re right.  And here I’ve been going on and on about how nice everyone is.  I’m just so relieved that I don’t have to relive my boarding school days and how unfriendly some of the girls were then. I know it doesn’t matter what sex a friend is. I guess I’m just worried about you and Jim.”

 

Trixie accepted her best friend’s apology, choosing to ignore the subject of her relationship with Jim.

 

They continued up the stairs and started down their hall.

 

Honey pointed at the figure, “I think someone is waiting on you.”

 

Leaning against the wall, outside their door, was Dan.

 

“Forgive me,” Trixie begged. “I have a late class on Friday.”

 

“I just got here.  I knew you would be along any minute.  Are you ready?”  He asked.

 

“Just let me put away my book-bag, and I’ll be ready in a jiff.”  She unlocked the door and all three entered the room.

 

As Trixie combed her hair, Honey approached Dan and asked, “Do you mind if I borrow Regan’s truck tonight?  Some of the other girls and I are going out to eat and my car isn’t here yet.”

 

Dan dug into his pants and took the key off his key ring, “No problem.”

 

Honey kissed Dan on the cheek as she took the key, “Don’t worry.  I’ll have it back in one piece.”

 

“Do you know where you’re going tonight?”  Dan asked just before she ran out of the room.

 

“Well,” explained Honey.  “First, we’re going to eat.  Then, we’re going to collect donations of milk crates.  They are supposed to make nifty storage bins.  Julie said they leave them out behind the stores at night for people to pick up.  Otherwise, they just pile up and get into the way.”  With that said, she took off.

 

Dan nodded absentmindedly.  Then, his head gave a sudden lurch. 

 

“What’s wrong?” Trixie notice the distressed look on his face.

 

“They aren’t going to collect donations of milk crates.  They are… Oh boy, I hope they don’t get caught.” 

 

Trixie looked out the door and into an empty hall.  “What’s going on?”

 

Dan explained, “They aren’t collecting unwanted milk crates.  They are going to be stealing.  I suppose I should have tried to stop her, but it didn’t dawn on me what she was saying until she took off.”

 

Trixie sat on her bed and began laughing, “I hope so too.  I’d hate for the Wheelers to show up tomorrow and have to bail Honey out of jail first thing.”

 

“I’d hate to call Uncle Bill and tell him his truck has been impounded because it was used for pilfering milk crates,” Dan added with a smirk.

 

Trixie motioned towards the door, “Are you ready?”

 

 Dan sighed in affirmation.  “I guess we should head out.”

 

“Do you have the email?”  She asked him pointedly.

 

He patted the right back pocket of his jeans. “I’ve got it.  You can read it later, after we eat.”

 

Trixie nodded understandably and shut the door behind making sure that it was locked.

 

**********

Elineta’s Fajita Friday was apparently a popular selection.  Dan motioned to the hostess that he preferred a private booth.  She nodded and placed them in a sparsely populated area, far from the crowd. 

 

“I don’t think she speaks much English,” he explained.  “But I think she understood that we wanted to be alone.”

 

They settled into their corner booth, in an empty station, separate from the other diners.  A young waitress appeared with a selection of salsas and chips.  They ordered their drinks and the waitress disappeared to fill them.

 

Dan pointed to each bowl to help Trixie decide which one she should choose. “They serve everything from very mild, to habañero hot, to a green salsa.” 

 

Trixie braved her taste buds and tried the hot. Their drinks had arrived. “I’ll just make sure that I have plenty to drink,” she announced between gulps.

 

As they ate their fajitas, they engaged in small talk. Trixie admitted that she felt overwhelmed with: the start of college, being away from her family, having so much independence, the uneasy feeling that she had been receiving when she was around certain new friends and how happy she was that she and Honey seemed to fit in with their neighbors in the dorm.  She told him about meeting Mike and discovering that they had two classes and a lab together.  She finished with her and Honey’s anticipation of their self-defense class that wouldn’t meet until Monday night.

 

Dan smiled politely. His mind was obviously somewhere else.  Trixie noticed his far away look.  “So, when are you going to share that email with me?”

 

“Oh,” he responded off guard.  “Sorry, I guess my mind is somewhere else.”

 

“It wouldn’t be in Arkansas, would it?” she prodded.

 

Dan looked around at their surroundings. “Um, would you mind if we put this off right now?”

 

Trixie’s jaw set, he eyes bore a hole straight them him. “Daniel, I thought we agreed.  Tonight would be the night.”

 

“I’m not comfortable with sharing here.  There are too many people around,” he explained.  “Can we go somewhere a little more private?”

 

She saw his look of desperation and her heart softened.  “Sure, where would you like to go?”

 

His face reddened.  “We can go back to the dorm, to my room.”

 

“As long as you’re not backing out, then let’s go.”

 

Dan smiled at her direct approach and took out his wallet, leaving enough money on the table for their bill and a nice tip.

 

********

 

As Dan opened the door to his room, he allowed Trixie to enter first.  She in turn arranged his chairs so that they faced each other.  It was obvious she expected for the two of them to talk.  There was no backing out now.

 

He took a seat in the nearest chair, reached into his back pocket and warned her, “I’m not sure that I haven’t blown all this out of proportion.  I could be jumping to conclusions.  I only hope that I’m wrong.”

 

“You probably could have already found the answer to your questions if you had read all those emails.” She motioned to the computer.  “Or if you had answered your phone.”

 

Dan closed his eyes.  It was obvious he was fighting his emotions.  He sighed, “If I’m right and its bad news, I don’t want to know.”

 

Trixie held out her hand, “Let me be the judge.”

 

He handed her the well worn sheet of paper.

 

Trixie skimmed through most of the email.  She read through the first half.  It was as Dan announced in the clubhouse.

 

Amber, Dexton and Andrea were camping at Rush and that’s when Dex had caught the canoe thieves.  She laughed at the image of quiet, reserved Dexton pointing a rifle at the would-be crooks insisting that they come to him to be arrested.

 

Then, she came to a section of the email that was new to her.

 

Amber shared her excitement with Dan that one of her oldest friends was home from the Persian Gulf….

 

“Guess what!  One of my best friends is home!  He’s been in the Persian Gulf the last several months.  Justin is my pastor’s son.  He’s a member of the Arkansas National Guard.  It’s actually his ministry that Dex has been filling in for all this time. Anyway, he’s home now and he’s even going to start classes this fall at UCA.  He, Andrea and I have talked about sharing an apartment together.  Too bad we can’t sway Dex away from Tech.

 

Oh, and Justin wants the four of us to plan a get away before classes start. He said he would like to go to Branson.  Since he hasn’t been able to spend any money the last few months, he’s complaining that he has some extra cash that he would like to spend on his friends.  So, it looks like I may get to take that trip to Branson you and your friends took a while back.

 

I’m so excited that he’s home.  He and I have a lot to talk about.  I know you would like him.  He’s my best friend, next to Dex, of course.

 

I hope to hear from you soon.  I’ll let you know if and how our Branson trip goes.  I better run now.  I have to report in at the café in a few minutes.  

 

Type at you later!

 

Amber”

 

Trixie folded the email.

 

“Ok,” she bit her lip, “one of her friends is home now.  I don’t see why this would be so upsetting.” She was trying her best to be tactful, it wasn’t working. Oh where was Honey when she needed her?

 

Dan took the email, unfolded it peered at the contents before refolding it and tossing it on his desk.  “I wish you were right,” he finally responded.  “In the past, all of her other emails ended with “Love ya, Amber.” 

 

“She was in a hurry,” Trixie reasoned.  “I can understand that being a red flag, but it would help if you read her new emails, the ones that she’s been sending since that one.” Trixie pointed at the computer.

 

Dan nodded and without saying a word, reached over and booted the computer.  “What if it’s bad news?  What if it’s something that I don’t want to hear?”

 

“Just how close did you two get?” Trixie questioned him.  “Were you getting serious?”

 

Dan ran a hand through his hair, avoiding eye contact.  “No, not really I guess.  It’s just that I thought we could have something, eventually.”

 

The monitor now displayed that he could log onto his email account.  As Dan shifted his seating position to face the desk, he began the process of opening his email.  Trixie watched from over his shoulder.  She crossed her fingers in anticipation as he clicked on the “AmberChick” folder.  At least two dozen emails showed up, all unopened.

 

“This may take a while,” he announced.

 

Trixie smiled and patted him on the back.  She picked up a catalog nearby and settled in to read it; however, looking at a catalog was the furthest thing on her mind.  She had to force herself to peer at the pages of the “Sportsman’s Guide” and not let her curiosity get the best of her.  He needs his privacy while reading those messages.

 

After several minutes, Dan turned to her.  A slight smile was on his face.  “Apparently, someone’s getting married.” 

 

“Oh,” Trixie whispered.  “So…”  She was at a loss for words.  How was she going to console him?  “I’m so sorry, Dan.”  She walked over and hugged him.  “I didn’t mean to put you through this.  I was hoping that it would be good news.”

 

She pulled away and Dan’s smile got bigger.  “Justin is getting married.”  He could no longer hold it in.  His face broke out into a smile.  “He’s marrying someone he met while on duty in Afghanistan.”

 

At first, Trixie started clapping. “That’s terrific, so he and Amber aren’t serious?” She then realized what he just put her through.  She began playfully slapping him on the shoulder.  “Oh, you.  Why did you do that to me?  You had me really worried.”

 

Dan grabbed her hands and held them.  “Sorry about that, I couldn’t resist.”  He then looked sheepishly at the computer screen.  “It looks like I have some apologies that need to go out to Arkansas too.”

 

She released his hands.  “I think its time for a phone call, not an email.”

 

He agreed and flipped open his cell phone.  She started to leave, but he motioned that he wanted her to stay. 

 

For the next several minutes Dan apologized profusely for not answering her emails.  He admitted that he had been jealous and was afraid of a “Dear John” message.  He promised that he would always trust her and give her more credit than he had. “I’m so sorry that I doubted you,” he admitted.  Looking Trixie’s way he explained, “I want to call you back, later tonight.  It sounds like you have plans with Andrea right now.”  He promised that he would call her much later in the evening.  “I still have all those unlimited minutes, you know,” he reminded her.

 

After signing off, he explained.  “She’s so understanding.  She said she assumed that I might have gotten the wrong impression about Justin.  That’s what all those emails were trying to explain.  Oh, and all those phone calls too.”  He sighed, “It was my fault for not having faith and communicating with her.”

 

Trixie agreed, “When you’re in a relationship, you’ve got to communicate.  I can see how an email can be misconstrued.  You really don’t know the feelings behind them, not like you can when you are actually talking to someone.”  She gave a start.  “Speaking of talking, I think I need to go, Jim is supposed to call about now.”

 

Before she could leave, her cell phone chirped. She gave up the notion to go back to her room, and sat back down to answer it. 

 

As Dan spent the next several minutes composing an email to Amber, he half listened to Trixie’s conversation.  I’ve got to quit eavesdropping on her.  He fussed at himself.

 

She ended her conversation with the standard “miss you”.  He noticed it and decided, Now’s my chance to be the one to ‘butt into’ a relationship.

 

“So,” he began, “you and Jim.  Why all this, this act?”

 

“What act?”  Trixie was confused.

 

“You know,” Dan answered,   “you two, you’ve been together for weeks.  Yet, you both act like there’s nothing going on.  You don’t have to pretend around us or at least around me.”  He noticed the look of confusion on her face, so he tried to elaborate. “You know all this ‘miss you’ business.  You can say the ‘other phrase’ to him in front of me.”

 

As tears welled up in her eyes, Dan immediately realized that he had made a mistake. 

 

She pursed her lips together in an obvious attempt not to cry. “We’ve decided to put some things on hold.” 

 

Dan didn’t know what to do next, the last time she was emotional like this, they had kissed.   He hesitated.  Then, he scooted his chair close to hers.  Placing his arm around her he asked. “Are you trying to tell me that you two aren’t serious?  I mean, you two aren’t …”

 

Trixie sniffled.  “Yes, we’re holding off getting too emotionally involved.” She held up her fingers to form quotation marks.  “‘We’ think it’s for the best, since we are attending separate colleges and won’t get to see each other as much as we have in the past.”  She set her jaw.  “I suppose it’s more my fault.  I could have attended classes where he is, but I chose to stick with mine and Honey’s plans and come here.”

 

He handed her a tissue and let what she just said soak in.  “Ok, then I guess that’s a good move, maybe?” Wanting to clarify he asked, “Are you happy with this arrangement?”

 

“I suppose I have to be,” Trixie deadpanned.  “I don’t have much of a choice.”

 

Dan squeezed her shoulder.  “You know, if you need someone to talk to, I’m always here.  I realize how hard it would be to talk to Honey about this.”

 

“Thanks.” Trixie smiled.  “Don’t worry.  Jim and I are going to work this out.”  Her face began to brighten as if she just had a revelation.  “We’re going to have to work this out, just like you have to work out your relationship with Amber,” she reminded him.

 

“You know your right.  We do share similar relationship problems,” he admitted. 

 

“By the way,” she wondered.  “You don’t suppose that our dorm friend, Jimmy and Arkansas Justin know each other, do you.  They are both in the National Guard.”

 

“No, I don’t think Jimmy has ever been to any guard activity outside of New York. It is a neat a coincidence, two people we know of, both in their state’s National Guard.”

 

“Come on,” he helped her up, “let’s go to your room and wait for Honey to get back with Uncle Bill’s truck.”

 

Trixie snickered, “Or, a phone call from the police to bail her out of jail for stealing milk crates you mean.”

 

Before leaving the room Dan pulled her into a hug and kissed her on the forehead.  “Thanks for being my friend,” they said almost simultaneously.  They laughed at the like mindedness of their comment. Both were relieved that there was someone in a like relationship that they confide in when the need arose.

 

They left his room and walked arm in arm to Trixie’s.  “I can’t wait to hear about the ‘milk crate caper’,” Trixie quipped. 

 

“It should be interesting, if not entertaining,” chuckled Dan.

 

They disappeared into the stairwell, unaware of the pair of eyes that was watching. 

 

 

*****************************************************************************************************************

 

 

 

 

 

Credits, Acknowledgments, Thank Yous and Etc.

 

I can’t believe I made another attempt at writing. 

 

I need to thank some terrific people who edited for me. 

 

By the way, this part is un-edited.  I am too lazy to bug anyone else to edit for me. I look at this as more along the lines of my personal notes.

 

Andrea I appreciate you editing this monstrosity. I know you have a lot going on in your life.  It means so much more that you took the time to do this.  Yes, not all of your comments were negative.  I appreciate that. 

 

Amber thanks for being the “third set of eyes”.  I am grateful that you caught those glitches and typos that escaped.  I value your comments as well.

 

To the rest of my regular IMing buddies (Lindsay, April and Leslie) thanks for the encouragement. 

 

I don’t own the rights to any of the Trixie Belden characters.  I’m using them without permission.  I would appreciate not getting sued.

 

Many of the “new” characters I introduced are based on people that I knew from my college days at the University of Central Arkansas.  Practically every student mentioned is based on my friends from those years.  Robert is “fiction”.  He is actually a composite of some of the lecherous jerks that I had the misfortune of going out with.

 

The “Sugar Bears” are a tribute to four of Arkansas’ greatest women college basketball players.  Two of the “Sugar Bears” were actual UCA “Sugar Bears” from when I attended there in the 1980s.  The other two are former Arkansas “Lady Razorbacks” (one of which currently plays in the WNBA).  I’ll let you take the time to research who is who.  The coach mentioned is a former Lady ‘Back coach that I respected very much.

 

“Mike” is the only one that I actually invented.  His “body” is based on a guy I had a history class with. I assumed he was involved with athletics.  His entire wardrobe had “UCA Athletic Department” written all over it.  As with his character, he was short (like me) and had a very muscular body.  He was nice to look at, especially when he was walking out of the room.  I never knew his name or the sport he may have been involved in.  For some reason when I started thinking about my days at UCA he popped in my mind. 

 

The professors mentioned are a tip of the hat to some of my instructors at UCA.  There is/was a “Dr. Feese”.  I never had him thank goodness.  Yes, he was that bad. I had a roommate that suffered through his course. She used to tell me horror stories.  The other professors mentioned were some of the ones whose classes I enjoyed.

 

There is a brief nod to my HS biology teacher (the lab assistant).  The man refused to teach “Chapter 13”.  It was the chapter about reproduction.  He told us we could read “that chapter” on our own.

 

There is a real Wingo Hall.  It is located at UCA.  I think they are using it as offices now.  I loved that dorm.

 

I will admit that I did participate in “collecting milk crates.”  Of all the crates that we borrowed I have only one left.  Ditto (our beloved and departed dog) used it as her toy box.

 

There were a lot of other silly things (mostly pranks) that we did.  I didn’t party and neither did my friends.  We did seem to be able to find something to keep us occupied/entertained.  Most of the time it involved me driving very fast, hoping that the police weren’t called and searching for a black Dodge Charger. I started making a list of the things we did.  I wonder now how we managed to never get caught.  The list of stunts and pranks we pulled is long. I got kind of embarrassed after compiling it.  I decided to not list them after all.

 

If you are still reading this I’m sure you are wondering about certain holes that I left.  I did manage to answer the “mystery of the mysterious email”.  It looks like I may have left a few things in this one un-answered.

 

*******************************************************************************************************

 

FYI the above sequel (minus the credits) is a little less than 25,000 words.  I just thought I would throw that in.  J