A/N: Here's the end of this part of the story. I will be writing more eventually in this universe. My mystery that I'm formulating is related to this story. Thanks to everyone for their support. *grin*
Trixie's mind was reeling from the information it was trying to absorb. Jim had been in love with her for almost five years. How was that possible? How can you hide feelings like that for so long? Then she thought back over the course of their friendship and started putting together the clues. They were present at almost every turn, from the first orchid he sent her to the bracelet to the way he reacted when the boys has found her after her run-in with Blinky, Pedro and Big Tony. That thought led her to thinking about the first hansom cab ride she had taken and how she ended up with skinned knees. Jim had taken care of her with Brian even then. Then a prevailing question bombarded her mind.
"Trixie, penny for your thoughts?" Jim asked quietly.
She turned to look him in the eye. "Well, I'm trying to reconcile the notion that you love me with the way that you've acted over the years. But one question keeps coming to the forefront- Why now? Why are you telling me all this now? How is our situation now any different than what it was four years ago? I mean, I'm still going to be a freshman and you'll be a senior."
He reached out with his far hand and stroked her cheek. "There were two reasons why I chose today as the start of my campaign to win your heart. One, it's your eighteenth birthday, which means you are now legally an adult and able to make decisions for yourself. Two, I knew that you would be leaving for college soon. I had hoped that you would come to a school near mine, but you did one better by actually coming to my school."
"But Jim, you're only there for one more year, just like high school. How is this any different?" Trixie couldn't wrap her head around the thoughts tumbling about in her brain.
Jim wrapped his arm around her shoulder and tugged her closer to him. He kissed her hair quickly before saying, "Do you honestly think I would move away from where it is you are? You had to stay in Sleepyside before, because that's where your parents lived and you had to finish high school. I just couldn't find a college close enough by. Now though, I'm staying here in New York until at least you finish your degree." He picked up her closest hand with his far one. "Trixie, don't you understand? If I had found out that you were going to attend college in say Arizona, I would have followed you there. These last three years were desolate without you. The only times I felt whole and peaceful were when I was with you." He pulled her hand to his lips, gently kissing it before returning it to his thigh.
She gazed into his green eyes, taking in the sparkle that told her that he was completely serious and content. That particular sparkle had only appeared in his eyes a handful of times before. Allowing herself to get lost in his eyes for a few minutes, she barely registered the carriage stopping; that is, until Jim stood beside her to alight from the carriage. He refused to let go of her hand to the point that he simply switched hers to his other hand as he stepped down. As much as she was independent, she was very glad that Jim was there to assist her as she didn't particularly care to end up in a heap at his feet from tripping over her dress. When she took her last step down, her heel caught the edge of her dress, causing her to stumble straight into Jim's arms.
"If you wanted my arms around you, you didn't have to go to such extreme measures," Jim murmured in her ear. Her body, much like her face was aflame, albeit for different reasons. While she was embarrassed by her almost fall, her body had erupted with tingles as his arms had wrapped around her, pulling her close to him.
Instead of responding to his teasing, she concentrated on the flames that licked at her body, starting at her thighs all the way up to her chest, all of which were pressed solidly against Jim. Under her hands, she could feel the play of his biceps as he lifted her to make sure her dress was not caught under her heel.
"Thanks," she murmured. Dusk started to fall around them while they were lost in each others' gaze. The air around them seemed to crackle with electricity. Jim lowered his head slowly toward hers. She just knew he was going to kiss her.
Lights illuminated the sky behind him, causing both of them to jump apart. Trixie peered around Jim to see where the lights were coming from. She was stunned to see a carousel lit up with lights like a Christmas tree, its calliope's music becoming audible the closer Jim escorted her toward it.
"What? What is this?" Trixie asked Jim, her head tilted looking at her suitor.
"What part of campaign for your heart did you not get, Shamus?" Jim replied. "I'll use any knowledge I have of you to win you over. I know how much you love horses, but in your present attire, I know that we can't exactly have a true ride. So instead we're going to ride the carousel."
She just looked at him, wide-eyed before following him and allowing him to help her sit side-saddle on a brown mare that looked amazingly like Susie, her mare back in Sleepyside. He then climbed up on a horse beside her before signaling to the operator to start the ride. Trixie held tight to the pole as the horse went up and down as the ride went round and round. Laughter welled within her and burst forth. She noticed that Jim seemed unable to tear his eyes from her. Turning away and smiling, she was left unaware that he caught sight of that smile in the mirrors that lined the inner sanctum of the carousel.
Before long, the ride came to a stop. Jim immediately jumped down and carefully helped Trixie dismount.
"You know I think I much prefer Western to side-saddle. Still…" She looked up at him. "Thank you," she said softly. "I know you've probably wondered if I'll ever really respond to what you've told me tonight. I know I told you already that I've waited for so long for you to tell me that you love me. I've been second guessing myself so much about what I've suspected and what I've thought about you, about us, about guys in general." She shrugged. "I honestly wondered if I would ever find what Honey and Di have with Brian and Mart. I thought that since you hadn't really been home this year that you were avoiding me or worse you were seeing someone and just didn't want to let the Bob-Whites know. That's why your confession…" She waggled her eyebrows. "Shocked me. I've had feelings for you just as long as you've had them for me. It's the reason I've never been on a real date or even been kissed." At this, she ducked her head. "I didn't think I could do anything like that with anyone else but you. I guess in a way, you ruined me for any other guys. They just couldn't measure up."
Jim reached down and pulled her chin up with his forefinger so he could look her in the eye. "As much as I would like to say I'm sorry, I can't and be truthful. I'm happy to know that no one else has touched these lips." He ran his fingers across them. "You can't possibly know how often I've dreamt of kissing you."
"So what's stopping you?" Trixie asked.
Jim looked at her, taking her face in his hands. He gently lowered his head and brushed his lips against hers. Gaining confidence, she wove her fingers into his hair and gently pulled his lips back to hers. Their lips clung, parted and returned with greater ardor. The sensations that ran through her at the feel of his lips against hers made her long for more. When she finally needed to breathe once more, she reluctantly pulled her lips from his.
"So what do you say, Trix? Will you be my special girl?" he asked her.
"I always have been, Jim, always. I love you."