Note to the reader.

The following is a squeal to “Risk”, occurring approximately seven years later.  This has an adult rating for one word of profanity.  The “word” is contextually appropriate.  I tried to leave it out, but the situation in which it is used would call for such an utterance.  I offer my apologies in advance if you are offended. - Teresa

 

Revenge of a little RISK

(Part one)

 

Regret * Remorse * Reconciliation * Revenge

 

 

If only the appeal had gone her way.  But it didn’t.  Neither did what happened after the proceedings. Although there had been over two weeks to smooth matters over between them, today was the final straw.  Trixie pulled into the driveway, her temper still flaring.  The tires of the Outback skidded on the gravel as it came to an abrupt stop, small pebbles being thrown in the wake. The long drive through the Friday afternoon traffic to her home outside the city had not cooled her anger. 

 

She stomped up the porch steps, unlocked and flung open the door.  Taking off her coat, she hung it with such force the hall tree almost fell over.  She looped her purse with equal gusto.  Reaching to her hip, she unclipped her holster.  She would forgo her ritual of placing the firearm in its hiding place.  No, she was too livid.  That would have to be taken care of later. Instead she firmly attached the holster to her purse strap.

 

“ARRRRGH,” she yelled into the darkened living room.  “Why can’t he trust me to make my own decisions?”  She stomped her foot for emphasis.

 

A soft “woof” answered her outburst. 

 

“Oh, Gracie, I’m sorry.  Mommy’s not mad at you.” Her voice softened as she apologized to the Border Collie.   She crouched down and called the dog to her.  The canine’s nails clicked on the foyer’s wood floor. She had been a housewarming present from Honey.  Honey worried that Trixie would be lonely moving so far out in the country and hoped that she would appreciate the company. Grace’s namesake seemed flattered to have the furry friend named after her.  

 

Taking Grace’s head into both her hands she began to explain.  “Do you remember when Mommy was sad a couple of weeks ago?  Mommy had been to an appeals hearing for a bad-man that tried to hurt Mommy when she was in college.  Unfortunately for Mommy, they decided that he should be released from prison.”

 

Trixie lead her companion to the living room’s couch and motioned for her to climb up.  She continued as she soothingly stroked the canine’s head.  “The bad-man’s lawyer convinced them that he should be set free.  He even apologized to me for his behavior seven years ago.” Trixie shivered at the memory of those same cold, steel grey eyes staring a hole in her as he recited his well-rehearsed apology, his lawyer sitting smugly at the table, encouraging her client.  “He promised he was a changed man and that I misunderstood his intentions.”  Trixie vainly fought back tears.  “None of the other ladies he hurt were there.  I wasn’t allowed to say anything.  The chairman said he was ‘more interested in his recent behavior, not the alleged mistakes he had made in the past.’”  She said the last phrase with a scowl as she reached for a Kleenex and dried her tears.  “And to top it all off, they apologized to him, and he was supposedly released after the hearing.”

 

She rose from the couch and knelt in front of the fireplace, stirring the ashes in an attempt to rekindle the fire.  Reaching into the nearby wood-box, she took out a few small pieces of kindling. She turned the knob on the gas fireplace lighter and pushed the ignite button.  The kindling burst into flame.  “Your uncle Jim was there.  As soon as they announced their decision I left the room.  I didn’t care to stay and hear the provisions of his release.”  After adding additional logs, the fire took off.  She turned the handle and shut off the fuel.  So much for Mr. Boy Scout, chastising me for cheating with a gas igniter, she huffed.

 

As if mesmerized by the flames she continued. “Jim followed me to my car.  He just couldn’t resist.” She made a sour face. “From the moment we left the building, he started lecturing me.  He pressed me to file a protest over the decision.  He told me that I needed to file a restraining order. He pestered me to hire someone for protection, and said that I needed a home security system for the house.”  She rose to a standing position and gazed at the wedding photos of her fellow Bob-Whites displayed on the mantle and sighed.  The way things are going, I’ll be the only single Bob-White female for a very long time.

 

She reclaimed her place beside the canine with a plop.  Grace had been very attentive and seemed to be hanging on every word. Her head was cocked and her eyebrows were raised unevenly.  “Sorry about that last comment.  He doesn’t know what a wonderful watchdog you are,” she explained.  Trixie leaned down to the dog’s ear.  In a false whisper she added, “Do you want to know a secret?  Mommy had already planned on arranging all of that.  She just doesn’t like to be lectured or told what to do. It’s so belittling.”

 

Grabbing another Kleenex she sniffed. “Anyway, he called today to make sure that I had followed through and filed for the order and arranged for protection.  We had a fight.”  She blew noisily.  “I know.  I shouldn’t let it get to me.  I am just so tired of his lectures.  I’m a mature adult.  I know how to take care of myself.”  She gave Grace a guilty look.  “I meant to call about all of those things the next day.  I just got kind of busy at the office.  I’m calling and arranging for the restraining order first thing Monday,” she decided as she gave the dog a reassuring hug. “In the mean time, I can call the county sheriff and request that a deputy drive by occasionally, just in case.” 

 

She started to pick up the phone to make the call, when she noticed several messages had been left on her answering machine.  She pushed the play button.  The first was a hang-up call. The next was from her mother. Two last two were from Jim, apologizing. She rolled her eyes at the calls from Jim.  She made metal notes for the other calls.  I’ll call Moms tomorrow.  I also need to call the phone company and see how soon I can get Caller ID.  Who knew moving to the boonies would be such a disadvantage?

 

Determined not to dwell on her misery, Trixie left the couch and went into the kitchen.  “I need to do something to take my mind off of this.”  Grace followed and took position in her favorite spot where she could see her master from any angle in the room. 

 

“I know what I’ll do.  I’ll make…cookies.” 

 

At the sound of the word ‘cookies’ Grace gave a “bwoof” in agreement. 

 

Trixie paused in front of the hutch and pressed the play button on the portable stereo.  “Your aunt Di burned this CD for me.  I think she did it as a joke.  The songs are all icky, sicky love songs.”  Her hand was on the bottom door of the hutch when she remembered.  She had so much on her mind while on the way home that she forgot to stop at the convenience store. Oh well, I’ll be ok for tonight.

 

She surveyed the pantry and grabbed a ready mix.  “Don’t tell Mawmaw Belden.  I’m going to cheat and use a mix. They’re sugar cookies.  There’s no chocolate, so you can have one.”  Grace’s tail began thumping.

 

Before washing her hands, Trixie remembered to take off her jewelry as not to get dough on them.  She reached for the ring finger on her left hand.  Sarcastically lecturing herself, she muttered, “Can’t dare let anything happen to this ring. She had been reminded, several times, to not treat the engagement ring haphazardly.

 

She worked in silence, half listening to the music. She had the dough mixed when she was struck with an idea.  “How about some shaped cookies?”   Grace’s ears perked at the sound of the question.  “Since they are sugar cookies, I may as well roll them out and cut them into shapes.”  A smirk twitched at her lips.  “And I know just what shape to make them.” 

 

She formed the dough into a ball and rolled it flat to prepare it for the cookie cutter.  She had just picked up the shaped cutter when she noticed that song that was playing.  James Ingram’s voice began filtering through the kitchen.

 

I did my best
But I guess my best wasn't good enough
'Cause here we are back where we were before
Seems nothing ever changes
We're back to being strangers
Wondering if we oughta stay
Or head on out the door

 

“NO! No, no, no,” she protested.  She emphasized each ‘no’ with a very firm punch through the flattened cookie dough.  Wishing she could stop the offending sound, she looked at her sticky hands.  She knew the annoying song would practically be over with by the time she had them washed and dried.

 

Just once can't we figure out what we keep doing wrong?
Why we never last for very long
What are we doing wrong?
Just once can't we find a way to finally make it right?
Make the magic last for more than just one night
If we could just get to it
I know we could break through it

 

She continued her work, now much quicker and with added determination.  She was becoming more irritated.  “I don’t need that drivel.  Not tonight.”  Not wanting to waste any of the dough, she gathered the scraps and rapidly formed another ball. Taking the rolling pin, she began flattening the dough for a second round of cutting.  She finished each roll with a flourish.

 

I gave my all
But I think my all may have been too much
'Cause Lord knows we're not getting anywhere
Seems we're always blowing whatever we've got going
And seems at times with all we've got
We haven't got a prayer

 

“Why did I have to buy the family size bag?” she cried.  “Gracie, be a good girl and turn off that blasted song!”  Grace, however, just stared at her, as if to ask just how she was to do what her human mommy requested.

 

Just once I want to understand
Why it always comes back to good-bye
Why can't we get ourselves in hand?
And admit to one another
That we're no good with out the other
Take the best and make it better
Find a way to stay together

Just once can't we find a way to finally make it right?
Make the magic last for more than just one night
I know we can break through it
If we could just get to it

 

Just once
If we could get to it

Just Once...

 

 

The song faded and moved to the next.  Trixie finished cutting the last shape. Grabbing up the last few scraps of leftover dough, she tossed it to Grace, who quickly snatched it in mid air.  She devoured it in one quick swallow.

 

“Now to bake our little treats,” Trixie giggled as she put the first pan into the oven.

 

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

 

The cookies came out perfect.  There was no more irritating music coming from the player.  I didn’t need any reminders, not tonight.  Doubt had infiltrated her mind, to the point where it almost turned to regret.

 

She had eaten several cookies, making sure that Grace got her share, when a knock came to her door.  Trixie froze.  Glancing at the clock on the oven, she said aloud, “I’m not expecting anyone.”  A scowl crossed her face, and her eyes narrowed.  “That better not be who I think it is.”

 

She brushed the crumbs from her hands, and wiped what was left on the apron she was wearing.  Quickly removing the covering, she tossed it onto the kitchen table.

 

She approached the door with caution and gave herself a head slap.  She had forgotten to turn off the porch light.  Grace had followed her to the foyer in anticipation of their visitor.  “I hope that’s not someone selling something either.” Standing on her tip toes she was able to peer through the peephole.  A wide grin spread across her lips. She immediately grasped the doorknob and opened the door wide.

 

“Danny!  What brings you out here?  How did you know where I lived?  I’m so happy to see you. How have you been? What’s going on?”

 

Dan set down the package he was holding and laughed as he gave her a hug and planted a kiss on her forehead.  “Let’s see…  I came to visit you and see your new place.  I Googled your name and found your address.  I’m happy to see you too.  I’m doing okay.”  He rattled off as he attempted to answer her barrage of questions.

 

After several seconds of awkward silence, Dan asked, “Don’t you think it would be a good idea if we went inside?  I think it would be a little warmer.”

 

“I suppose that would be a good idea,” she giggled.  She peered into the portion of the yard illuminated by the light.  “Is it snowing?”

 

“It is more sleet than snow,” Dan informed her.  “It’s not very heavy. It’s just barely spitting. I don’t think it will affect the roads, not much anyway.  It is still a bit too warm for it to stick.”

 

As they stepped into the foyer, Trixie shut off the outside light and offered to take Dan’s coat.

 

He already had it off and was adding it to her hall tree.  “Um, Trix…interesting decoration you have here, but shouldn’t you have your handgun in a secure place?”

 

“I was preoccupied when I got home,” she quickly explained.  “I’ll take care of that right now.”  She took the SIG-Sauer P232 and proceeded to place the weapon in its hiding place.

 

A nudge on Dan’s leg announced Grace’s presence.  She had been patiently waiting for an introduction.  She decided to take matters into her own paw and introduce herself.

 

“Well hello.  I heard that Trixie had a roommate.”

 

Trixie chuckled at Dan’s comment as she introduced the two. “It’s been nice to have her around.  I’ll have to admit, it’s been kind of lonesome around here.  She’s a good dog, and smart, too.”

 

They proceeded into the living room.  Dan paused to look around.  “Nice place.”

 

Trixie’s eyes lit up with pride. “I got an unbelievable deal on it.  The owners were being relocated.  They were willing to let it go, cheap. It has three bedrooms. I use one as my home-office.  Thank goodness for DSL or my computer would be dead in the water.  There are two baths and an eat-in kitchen.  The closets are bigger than some dorm rooms I lived in.  Oh, and I absolutely fell in love with the master bedroom.  That’s what sold me on it.  It’s huge and has a killer bath.  There’s a corner Jacuzzi to melt away those stress-filled days.”  Dan smiled at Trixie’s exuberant description of her new home.

 

She led the way to the kitchen.  Grace opted to stay behind and enjoy the warmth of the fire.  

 

As they entered, Trixie pulled a stool out from the bar, inviting Dan to sit.  She motioned to the platter of cookies and offered Dan to help himself.  She proceeded to the refrigerator and asked, “Milk?”

 

“Sure,” Dan answered absentmindedly.  He was inspecting the stack of cookies.  “I know this is a weird question, but why are the heads broken off of these cookies?”  He held one up as an example.  At one time it had been in the shape of a man.  “Not only are most of the heads are broken off, but some are missing arms and legs as well.”

 

“Oh?”  Trixie blinked innocently.  She sobered when she noticed Dan’s expression.  She knew she couldn’t pretend around him.  He could always sense when something was wrong. “I guess I was taking out some frustration.  The cookies seemed safer than the real thing.”

 

Dan wanted to ask her to clarify, but he decided that he would do that later.  She didn’t seem to want to go into detail, besides; he had his own heartache that he was dealing with.  Coming over to Trixie’s was supposed to be a way to take his mind off of things.

 

He reached for another cookie when Trixie suddenly gasped.  She grabbed his left hand.  “Daniel, where’s your wedding band?”  She covered her face with her hands.  “Oh no, I forgot.  I’m so sorry.”

 

He squeezed her shoulder.  “It’s ok. I didn’t exactly advertise my troubles.  Other than Uncle Bill, you’re the only one here that I’ve told.  I hope you didn’t air my marital difficulties with the rest of the gang?” 

 

Trixie assured him that she had told no one. “When was it final?”

 

He grimaced and then answered his voice heavy with remorse.   “I signed the papers the day I left.  She didn’t bother to show up.  Her lawyer was there.  Since neither one of us were going to argue the point, an uncontested divorce was almost too easy.  The house will be sold, and we will divide the profit.  I got what little furniture that I wanted.”  He paused before adding with bitterness, “I let her keep the bedroom set.”

 

“I’m so sorry,” Trixie whispered.  She knew very little of the particulars of the divorce.  What she did know broke her heart.  Dan arrived home during his graveyard shift as a state policeman.  He had forgotten his logbook and ran in to retrieve it during his dinner break.  What he walked in on changed his marriage forever.  He found his wife of three years with, what was then, one of his best friends, a fellow law enforcement agent.

 

“I gave her what she wanted.  I had suspected that something wasn’t right.  I knew they had a history, I just didn’t know that they were still carrying on.”  He noticed Trixie’s pained expression.  “Hey, I know you two are...”

 

“That’s ok,” Trixie patted him on the shoulder, “I’m sure she and I will be ‘friends’ again, some day.”

 

“Enough of this!  I didn’t come over here for a pity party.  I wanted to see your new digs and give you a housewarming present.  I may be a couple of months late, but...be right back.”  His voiced trailed off as he left the room.  He opened the front door and searched the porch.  When he couldn’t find what he was looking for, he turned on the light.  He reached down and retrieved the bag that he had set down earlier.  He glanced out into the night and noticed that the wintry mix continued to just barely fall.   He switched off the light and secured the door.

 

Trixie sat in anticipation and curiosity as he walked back into the room and announced, “I brought two of these just in case.” Grinning, he pulled one of the objects out of the sack and displayed it in front of her on his open palm.  “Champagne?” he asked with a very bad French accent.

 

“Definitely!  I need this tonight,” she clapped in gratitude.  She proceeded place the second bottle in the refrigerator and retrieved two glasses from the cupboard.      

 

“So, is there anything you want to talk about?”  Dan asked.  Earlier, he had sensed something was wrong. He hoped now would be the time to ask.

 

Motioning to the living room she answered, “Later.  Let’s open it in there.”

 

She piled the pillows from the couch and loveseat into a heap.  They would be able to sit on the floor with their backs against the couch and face the fireplace.  As Dan removed the foil from the bottle, Trixie added another log to the fire.  Grabbing the remote, she turned on the television and stereo.  “I live so far from civilization.  I need a satellite to pick up any television stations.  How about some music?”  She scrolled through the digital music channels before she finally settled on an easy listening station.  “There, something nice and mellow to fit my mood.”

 

The cork flew off with a loud pop.  Grace had been lying nearby, quietly observing.  At the sound of the cork’s release she gave a “ruff.”  The couple chuckled as she investigated the cork.  It had landed less than a yard from her spot.  She rose, took it into her mouth and spat it out almost immediately.  Giving it a good sniff, she decided it was better just to watch the object, rather than attempt to ingest it.

 

Trixie held out both glasses allowing Dan to fill each.  “What, none of the pink stuff?” 

 

Recalling the trip to Arkansas they had made years before, Dan faked a scowl.  “No, no girly pink champagne for me.  I’ll leave that stuff to your brothers.”

 

They clinked glasses.  Dan’s eyes widened at the site of Trixie draining her glass in one motion.  She held it out for a refill.  He shook his head as he poured.

 

“So, are you ready to talk about it?”

 

She threw her head back and held her glass aloft. “Not yet.  Wait until I’ve had a couple more of these.” 

 

Dan took a few sips and began to wonder what had her so upset.  He had never known her to be much of a drinker, especially at the rate she appeared to be going at that moment.  I wonder how long this has been going on.

 

They sat in silence as they watched the fire, the music playing unnoticed in the background.  Although she had slowed her rate of consumption, the bottle was soon empty.  She nudged his shoulder. “Do you want to get the other bottle, or shall I?”

 

“Um, Trixie…I hate to pry, or gosh help me, nag.  I mean this with the world’s best intentions, but don’t you think that you need to slow down?  You’re putting this stuff away awful fast.”

 

Trixie rolled her eyes.  “Don’t worry.  I’m no alcoholic.  Besides, I seem to remember that I am not the only one who occasionally ties one on.  Now that we’ve mentioned it, I seem to recall a night at Buffalo Point, when someone very dear to me got drunk while feeling sorry for himself.”

 

Dan winced, embarrassed at the memory. 

 

And don’t forget the Christmas we were stranded at Uncle Andrew’s fishing lodge during the ice storm.  I think we all had a little that night.”

 

The happy ending of the winter storm and the attempted saboteur didn’t apply to everyone.  The recollection taunted Dan with painful memories.   

 

It was ironic how things worked out.  For that moment in time, at least, it was unfortunate that Amber’s trip to Mexico conflicted with their visit.  In the end, however, it turned out to be even more unfortunate for Linnie to have been there.  Dan shook off the ill feelings that came as a result of that one night.  At least Hallie came through, for once.      

 

“I’m just concerned,” he explained.

 

“I’m okay, Danny. Tonight is a special occasion.  This is exactly what I needed.  Besides, you’re the one that brought the booze.  You obviously intended to drown your sorrows. It appears we both need to unwind and relax.”

 

Not completely satisfied with her excuse, Dan decided to relent.  He was now more curious than ever to find out what was eating at her. “I’ll go,” he sighed.  “When I get back, promise me you’ll tell me what’s going on.”

 

She held up her right hand, “I promise.”  The smile on her face gave evidence to the fact that the alcohol was starting to have an effect.

 

Grace followed Dan into the kitchen, exiting through the doggie door to the outside.  His eyes followed as she passed through.  He clicked his tongue when he noticed the back door was unlatched.  “That girl,” he mumbled under his breath.  He locked both the door and the deadbolt, and then attempted to peer through the door’s glass into the backyard. It’s pitch black, can’t see a thing.

 

He went to the refrigerator and grabbed the bottle, not before noticing how bare it was of food. Among the various takeout boxes were a few condiment bottles, a gallon of milk, and three cartons of pineapple-orange juice. He had just shut the refrigerator’s door when he noticed the doggie dog swinging open.

 

Grace had returned, shaking a slight accumulation of wintry precipitation that had formed on her coat.  The frozen, white particles contrasted with her mostly black hair. 

 

Dan grabbed the plate of cookies and headed into the living room with Grace close behind.

 

Trixie greeted him with a smile.  “Good idea.”  She took the platter as he made himself comfortable. 

 

He pointed the end of the bottle away from his body as he worked the cork.  As with the first, it let out a pop.  This time, Grace did not respond to the report.  She did, however, retrieve the stopper and placed it beside the first.  She nosed both corks and snuffled them before sneezing her displeasure at their smell.

 

After filling both glasses and handing her one, Dan leaned over and prodded.  “Well, spill it.  What’s up?”

 

Trixie turned to place the cookies on the end of the couch in an attempt to look away, but he took her head in his free hand and turned it face him.  Finally, she gave in.

 

“Jim,” was all she managed to say before being interrupted.

 

Dan gave a “phfft”.  It was apparent that he too was becoming a bit tipsy.  “What else is new?”  He grasped her hand and held it up in the air.  “Speaking of rings, where is that honking big engagement ring he gave you?”  When he noticed the tears, he quickly apologized.  “I’m sorry.  It’s just that you two have been on that same merry-go-round for years.” More like a Tilt-a-Whirl, he added to himself.

 

“No, I’m the one that should apologize. I shouldn’t let him get to me like that,” she said as she attempted to sound indifferent.  She would have explained that she had merely taken it off to make the cookies.  However, the truth was she had rarely worn the symbol of betrothal.  Aside from the dread that something might happen to it, she was having trouble feeling fully at ease with the idea of getting married.  She wore it primarily to stave off questions from Honey and to keep from hurting Jim’s feelings.

 

She took a deep breath and exhaled, “Guess who is out of prison.  His conviction was overturned.”

 

Dan thought for a few moments. It could be any number of criminals she’s help put behind bars.   He admitted defeat.   He was clueless.  

 

Trixie closed her eyes tightly in an attempt to block the unwanted tears that were trying to form.  “I’ll give you a hint.  Mike got accused of trying to tear his head off.”

 

Dan’s heart almost stopped beating when he realized who she was talking about. He was silent for several moments until he found his voice.  Then, he vainly attempted to keep it calm.  “ Robert!  How?”  He demanded to know.  “He should have been locked up for life.  He should be under the prison.  What idiot decided he should be set free?  Why didn’t you tell me?  I would have been first in line to tell them that he has no business being let out.”

 

He took her gently by the shoulder.  “How are you taking it?  Is that what you and Jim are into it about?”

 

Trixie smiled to herself, appreciating his concern.  For some reason his protectiveness didn’t grate on her as Jim’s.  He’s not condescending, she reasoned.

 

She took a deep breath and attempted to answer his questions.  “It’s been a couple of weeks. I don’t think I would have known about the appeal had it not been for an alert friend in the state prosecutor’s office.  Do you remember Nancy, our suite-mate at the JuCo?”  Dan had begun to relax.  He nodded and encouraged her to continue.  “She works as a paralegal in the state prosecutor’s office.  She was preparing paperwork.  It was for the upcoming appeals hearings when one of the names jumped out at her.  She called me immediately.”

 

Dan sat dumbfounded.  He was having trouble believing what he was hearing. “Were you able to be present during the proceedings?”

 

“Jim and I both were able to attend.  I was the only former victim.  Two decided that they didn’t want to dredge up the memories.  The others sent written testimonies, but they were not introduced.  I wasn’t allowed to comment.  Supposedly only evidence previously submitted could be examined.  However, they broke protocol when they accepted the written statements concerning his behavior since he’s been in prison. The fact that he was able to get his degree in electronics is supposed to prove that he is ready to be a ‘contributing member of society,’” she quoted, mocking the words of his caseworker. 

 

 “Why did they wait until now?  If he was going to appeal, that should have been taken care of years ago.  It sounds like they bent more than a few rules to accommodate him.”

 

Trixie sighed. “Apparently his family made a friend in Albany, someone with a lot of influence. They were able to secure new legal counsel, claiming the original was ineffective. If you recall, his previous lawyer, the public defender, didn’t challenge any of the evidence.  When the few objections he did make were over-ruled by the judge, he accepted it meekly.”

 

“The appeal hearing was a debacle. The new lawyer was able to convince the panel to go against precedence and allow Robert to be present during the proceedings.  I guess she thought if they could see him that might help sway a more favorable decision.” Trixie shuddered at the memory of Robert being led into the room in street clothes.  A chill had run down her spine when he looked across the room, locking eyes with her.  It was the smirk that almost gave her a panic attack.  It had been years since she had felt that emotion. It was as if he knew what the decision was going to be even before the proceedings had begun.

 

“His lawyer challenged the record of the original trial. She pointed out that there was never any proof, no concrete evidence, that Robert had put the drug in the pop himself.  She argued that it was all circumstantial. She presented the argument that it could have been a case of product tampering.”

 

“Since I couldn’t remember if it was him or me that had opened the one with the Rohypnol in it, she suggested that it lead to reasonable doubt.”  Trixie began rubbing her temples.  “After all this time, it’s still like a dream or nightmare.  I can vaguely remember opening the first two.  It’s that last one that I am not sure of.  I do remember Robert handing me something.  Since I wasn’t one-hundred percent certain, she wanted that thrown out.”

 

“Then, then…”  Trixie fought back a flood of tears.  “She brought up the fact that I had willingly gone to the room and that I had sent mixed signals to Robert.  By being alone, in a room with the door shut, I had allowed myself to be in a compromising position.  Therefore, it was not entirely his fault if he assumed that I was wanting ‘more’ than friendship.”

 

Dan let out a curse and crossed his arms tightly against his chest.

 

“We wondered why the deputy-prosecutor even bothered to show up. We have no idea what he wrote in his brief. He didn’t offer a rebuttal to one argument Robert’s defense presented.  He allowed her submit facts that should never had been brought up in an appeals hearing. There were so many anomalies allowed that day we wondered if he was even conscious. When they introduced the evidence that was pivotal to his conviction in the original trial, his lawyer was able to pick it apart to where it even made me start to doubt.”

 

Dan started to speak, but she held up a hand to silence his comment.  “Oh, that’s not all.  Are you ready for their primary defense?  Since there was no actual,” she paused to regain her composure, “sexual contact, his original sentence should not have been so severe.  He did admit to touching me, which is when you and Mike came in.  He’s not denying that. He also admitted to the actual stalking, and taking the photos and articles of clothing. And he confessed to hacking the web cam and reading our emails, mostly mine. With all of that, they used the defense that he was infatuated to the point that it clouded his judgment.  He was portrayed as a Voyeur, an over-exuberant, modern day Pepping Tom.”

 

Dan had his eyes closed tightly and his lips were drawn into a thin line.  He was fighting an outburst.  Trixie continued her description of the proceedings.

 

“She gave a similar argument in the other ladies’ cases as well.  The idea that they went to the authorities after the fact was the biggest plus for his defense.  They had no physical evidence, only what they thought had happened, and who they thought it had happened with.  They didn’t go to the hospital for a date rape kit, which would have helped to collect DNA. They were too ashamed.” Her voiced trailed off to a whisper at the last phrase.

 

Dan slammed his fist into the floor.  “That perverted bastard!  I can’t believe he’s out.  I would have given anything to have been there.”

 

“It wouldn’t have done any good.  Remember, I was a victim, and I wasn’t allowed to say anything. Between the statements from the sympathetic prison officials and the questionable validity of the evidence, with the supposed ineptitude of his original counselor, and the protested length of the sentencing, the prosecution accepted his guilty plea to the lesser charges and agreed to accept his sentencing as time served.”

 

“Who ever their friend is in Albany obviously has a lot of influence.  They must be pretty powerful.  The fact that his new lawyer was female would have helped sway some.  What female would come to the aid of a convicted sexual predator?”  Dan added with disgust.

 

Trixie nodded in agreement and continued. “Dad and Moms wanted me to see what other legal recourse I could follow, and Jim insisted that I have Mr. Wheeler’s attorneys file some sort of protest about the decision.  I told them to just drop it.  I don’t want to keep dragging it out.  I can’t put myself through all of that again.  I just want it to go away and be a bad memory.” A tear trickled down her cheek.

 

He hugged her tightly.  “I’m sorry I didn’t know about it.  He was struck with a thought.  “Does Mike know he’s been released?”

 

“Yeah, he had a prior obligation that he couldn’t get out of or he would have been there too. Besides, they have hands full with the twins. He was wondering if they were going to subpoena him.  He did have those charges filed for the alleged assault.  It was never brought up.”

 

Dan drained his glass and the bottle as he filled their glasses for the final time. Normally he wouldn’t exceed his two drink limit.  Tonight was supposed to be a special occasion, and he had planned to relax the self-imposed rule.  With the news he was just given, he now needed it to numb the shock.  “He was lucky the charges were dropped.  He would have lost his scholarship.  Go on. What did Jim do to upset you?”

 

“What else?  Lecturing, lecturing, and oh yes, lecturing.” She finished with a snigger.  She had obviously had too much to drink.  

 

Realizing that he, himself, was becoming inebriated; he stifled a laugh at Trixie’s condition.  To divert his train of thought he motioned to the bouquet of roses on the end table.  “I assume those are from Jim?”  From his position he could see the card.  The unsigned message was turned out, facing the room.  Dan could barely read it in the light provided by the fire.  I’m sorry.  Please forgive me.  I want to make it up to you.

 

“Peace offering,” she snorted.  “He just couldn’t give it a rest and let me handle things on my own time, my own way.  I’m working on getting the restraining order, and I’m going to have the sheriff’s office to cruise by here and keep an eye on things. What more can I do?”

 

Dan’s eyes narrowed.  “Working on?  Going to?  Well, at least you have your handgun.”

 

“I’ve been busy at the office.  Honey and I have been swamped with background checks and surveillance.  As far as the SIG is concerned, I would hope that I never have to use it.” 

 

Before he could continue, she took their glasses and set them beside the floral arrangement. She rejoined him on the floor.

  

Dan recognized from her tone that she obviously didn’t care to address any more of his concerns.  He respectfully backed off, for the time being. 

 

In spite of the fact that he wasn’t going to voice it, Dan was starting to become more than a little worried.  He put an arm around her.  It was more of a move to comfort himself than Trixie.  She relaxed and leaned into him.  They were now sitting side by side, against the couch. Grace, jealous for attention, wedged herself between the two, lying so that they could stroke her head and ears. Neither said a word for several seconds.

 

“It sounds like you know what you’re doing,” Dan admitted, unconvinced. “Let me know if I can help.  I wish I hadn’t been spending the past two weeks moving halfway across the country.”

 

“So, you’re moving back to New York?  Sleepyside?”

 

Dan shrugged.  New York?  Yes.  Sleepyside?  I don’t know yet.  I’ll need to get a job first.  For now my stuff is being stored in Maypenny’s shed.  I’m going to stay there until I get my ducks in a row.”

 

Trixie buried herself further into Dan’s shoulder.  “Let me know if I can do anything.”

 

While the music played softly, Dan reflected on their conversation--his failed marriage, the appeals decision, Trixie and Jim’s continued difficulties.  He softly chuckled when he realized that she had fallen asleep.  I’ll move her to the couch in a bit.  In the mean time he noticed the song that was playing.  He had missed the first few bars, but the song was unmistakable. The song held a multitude of mixed emotions and memories.

 

Oh crap, any song but that one.

 

He tried to block out Dan Hill’s lyrics, but they still came through.  She has someone.  He kept telling himself.  And you can’t hold on to what you have when you do.

 

As if mocking him, the end of the song seemed louder than the rest.

 

At times I understand you
And I see how hard you've tried
I've watched while love commands you
And I've watched love pass you by

At times I think we're drifters
Still searching for a friend
A brother or a sister
But then the passion flares again

 

He took a deep, cleansing breath and let it out, grateful the song was ending

 

And sometimes when we touch
The honesty's too much
And I have to close my eyes and hide
I wanna hold you til I die
Til we both break down and cry
I wanna hold you till the fear in me subsides

 

“If Jim doesn’t come to his senses, he’s going to lose you, and I don’t know if I can stand by and continue to pretend that---”

 

“Hmmm?”  Trixie responded.

 

Dan froze.  He didn’t realize that he had been speaking out loud. “Sorry, I guess I was talking in my sleep.  It must be the champagne,” he fibbed.

 

Trixie nodded slightly and drifted back off.

 

That was close. Hopefully, this time, she will be the one that will have trouble remembering in the morning. Why do I always have to run my mouth when I’m drinking?  He looked at Grace, her head on his thigh.  She was staring at him knowingly.  “You,” he whispered.  “You can’t repeat what you just heard.”  He reached out his hand, and the dog extended her paw to shake on it.

 

To seal their agreement, Dan handed her a cookie.  “There, we have a deal.”  Sitting against the couch with Trixie asleep against his side reminded Dan of another night just a handful of years ago.  I thought we were going to be blown away in that shack that night.  That was the worst tornado I have ever been in.  Thank goodness we had dropped the horses off before we ran into the storm.

 

Grace took the cookie and reflected.  He’s nice.  He gives me cookies.  I’d rather have a treat like I got from that nice man that was here today.  He even played with me and let me follow him around the house while he worked. I hope he comes back soon.  He said he would.  She wagged her tail.  He said he would have an extra special present for me, next time.

 

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

 

 

At that same moment…

 

 

Almost there, Jim told himself.  Maybe I should call first?  No.  It wouldn’t do any good.  She won’t answer her phone. I would just end up leaving another message.  She refuses to talk to me.  I knew should have sent flowers, he berated himself. He hit the windshield wiper lever again in an effort the clean the wintry mixture that was slowly accumulating.  He moved his hand to the stereo’s volume control and smiled when he heard the song playing.  I wonder if there’s a way I can send this to her voicemail, or maybe her email.

 

As he debated ways to send the song with its heartfelt message, Sergio’s chorus began to play.

 

I'm never gonna let you go
I'm gonna hold you in my arms forever
Gonna try and make up for all the times
I hurt you so
Gonna hold your body close to mine
From this day on we're gonna be together
Oh, I swear this time
I'm never gonna let you go

 

He smiled at the thought of holding her.

 

Looking back now it seems so clear
I had it all when you were here
Oh, you gave it all and I took it for granted
But if there's some feeling left in you
Some flicker of love that still shines through
Let's talk it out
Let's talk about second chances

 

I hope she’ll give me another chance, even if it is the umpteenth time.  He mentally kicked himself again for his stubbornness. I’ve got to let go and trust her.

 

Wait and see
It's gonna be sweeter than it was before
I gave some then but now I intend
To dedicate myself to giving more
This time you can be sure

I’ll give her anything she wants.  I’ll do anything.  I’ve just got to get her to talk to me first.  Whatever she wants, what ever it takes to reconcile our problems.


I'm never gonna let you go
I'm gonna hold you in my arms forever
Gonna try and make up for all the times
I hurt you so
Gonna hold your body close to mine
From this day on we're gonna be together
Oh, I swear this time
I'm never gonna let you go

 

He muted the volume and continued in silence.

 

He turned off the road and onto the driveway.  The SUV’s headlights swept across the front of the house as he completed the turn.  He was happy to see her Subaru parked in its usual spot.  Thank goodness, she’s home. What he saw near it caused him to come to a stop in the middle of the drive.

 

What the?  He saw another vehicle parked beside hers, a pickup.  When he noticed the out-of-state tags, he breathed a sigh of relief.  Even better, maybe he’ll talk some sense into her.  His smile slowly faded and his brow knitted in confusion.  There were no lights on.  He checked the clock on the dash.  It’s not that late.

 

He studied the house.  I know the living room is in the back of the house, but…  He quickly dismissed the thoughts he was having.  He’s married, and she’s engaged to me.  I shouldn’t jump to conclusions. I’ll call tomorrow, if she will take my call.  Dan, my friend, I hope you’re on my side. 

 

Shifting the Range Rover into reverse, he slowly backed and turned around to leave.  His high-beams illuminated the wooded field across the road before he drove onto the county road in the direction of town.

 

 

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

 

As Jim’s tail-lights faded from site, a lone figure rose from its hiding place.  He took off the night vision goggles, cursing Jim’s headlights.  Two? In one night?  It figures. He spat. I wonder what Mangan got off the porch. He let out another curse.  They both practically blinded me with those lights.  He began to gather his equipment.  I’ve got to be careful.  She almost caught me hiding that last booster antenna.   When I get back to the camper, I’ll see if they helped the signal. I should have a clear picture with sound.  Earlier in the day he had visited Trixie’s home, not without calling first, though.  He met Grace and made friends with her.  I should have a view of every room.  She’ll never notice them, unless she knows they are there. He began to worry. But he quickly dismissed his doubts. No, she’s clueless.  She’s not afraid.  She even kept my flowers. I think she’s looking forward to my visit.

 

He finished securing the gear to the back of the four-wheeler.  It was at that time that he became aware that it was sleeting. He had been so intent on watching the house that he failed to notice the drop in temperature as well as the thin layer of ice that had formed on the gas tank of the vehicle.

 

After starting the engine, he made sure that it was idling low. He attached the night-vision goggles and climbed on. It’s amazing what all you can order on-line, he thought as he adjusted the optical device. And thank goodness for old friends and small favors.

 

He continued his cautiousness by not turning on the headlights and muffling the sound from the engine. I can’t do anything to attract attention.  He guided the ATV at a crawl along the newly worn path, retreating to his small, well hidden camper.  He maneuvered around a tree as he pledged to himself, this time, I’ll take my time…and wait.  I’ve had seven years.  What’re a few more days for a little revenge?  And this time… no will interrupt us. 

 

Glancing back at the direction of home he sneered, Mangan!  Did you know the red-head was coming over tonight?  What’s his name?  Oh yeah, Jim. He remembered in disgust.  The idea of Trixie with other men turned his stomach. Since I obviously can’t be her first, he shifted to neutral to creep downward into the gully, “I will be her last,” Robert vowed out loud.  The ATV slowly continued its trek disappearing into the night.

 

 

 

**************** Please read. ******************

Thank you and end credits.

 

The biggest thanks goes to my editor RYL/Cheryl.  She caught my mention of needing an editor in a post at Jix.  She is awesome.  THANK YOU!!!!!

 

Cheryl, your edits, suggestions and comments were wonderfully terrific.

 

Amber thanks so much for doing the last edits.  You are super at catching those little things that everyone else misses.  Your insight is much appreciated

 

Big thanks, also to… Lindsay, Andrea, Leslie, Apriliz and Amber… they cheered me along the way as I fine-tuned the story.  They are terrific friends and great encouragers.

 

Lindsay… big thanks for those few places I was not happy with at all.  Thanks a heap for help with the title.

 

Leslie/Greyfort, thanks for the suggestions. They helped a BUNCH.   They took the story in an entirely different direction.

 

I know.  I left some things unexplained.  I was vague on some parts and may have left some questions unanswered.  Sorry, I’m hoping that it might prompt me to write “Revenge” part two.

 

If you are totally confused, I recommend that you go back and skim through my previous attempts at writing fan-fiction.  You may need to refer to my first one.  It may/may not have some hints.  You never know. (VEG)

 

In watching the season finale Veronica Mars (and a couple of other television shows) I noticed a slight similarity in events that happened and/or were revealed in it and ideas that have been running through my mind for the past several weeks.  These plot ideas will mainly come into fruition when/if part two ever gets written.  I assure you any like scenarios are coincidental 

 

I do not own the rights to Trixie Belden or any of her friends.  Please do not sue me if you do.  I’m a poor Arkansas teacher and my husband is a maintenance worker at a church.  You wouldn’t get much out of us anyway.

 

The character of Grace is based on my own precious Ditto.  We lost her January 12, 2006.  Many of Grace’s mannerisms were very much like our Ditto’s.  She loved to be in the kitchen when her Mommy was cooking.  She also couldn’t stand it if we were hugging and not paying any attention to her.  I miss her.  We both do.

 

When I was in the middle of writing this someone asked, “Why those three songs?”  Whenever I hear them I am torn between whether to cry or smile over the same memories that they dredge up.  Let’s just leave it at that.

 

By the way, I know nothing about divorce and divorce laws, other than the fact when one of my best friends divorced the gold digging hussy that he was married to; she didn’t have to show up in court either.

 

 In addition the above, I am ignorant of appeals.  I attempted to research.  Indulge me on that part of the plot.

 

Finally, if you noticed a reference to an ice-storm, Christmas in the Ozarks with perhaps other vague references to the past and are confused…. I don’t blame you.  While IMing with Moon-Spinner, I suddenly got the idea of the BWs returning to the Ozarks with families and the BWs getting stranded at Uncle Andrew’s fishing lodge.  Yes, there is also a small mystery involved too.  I had to go back and revise my first story in order for it (whenever it gets written) to work.

 

Finally…There may be a couple or three other hints for some additional future stories as well.

 

Give me a few months, and we will see what happens.