The Wheelers didn't get to leave the hospital until nearly midnight. The doctor had cautioned Jim that he was probably going to want to spend the day resting, as he was going to hurt a lot worse in the morning. He had planned to go to the college and career fair with Brian, Dan, and Mart, and he hated to give up something so important. In the end, he had finally convinced the Wheelers to allow him to go. Matthew's opinion on the matter cemented just how much he genuinely liked his adoptive family. Matthew had said that if he could manage to get out of bed, get dressed, and ambulate under his own power, then he wouldn't stop him from attending. Jim knew that no matter how rotten he felt the next morning, that he'd had worse, much worse, and worked through it. Being hit by a car was not about to stop James Winthrop Frayne III, not when his education was on the line!
He hadn't counted on how much crap he would feel like the next morning. Granted, he had had worse, but it had been a long time since he had to haul himself out of bed with every muscle on fire. Come on, Frayne, walk it off! He made himself get out of bed, shower, get dressed, and walk downstairs for breakfast. Honey was already buttering and jelly-ing his toast for him. It was even orange marmalade, his favorite.
He took the plate from her with a smile. "Thanks, sis."
Honey eyed him studiously. "About the least I could do after you got hit by a car, don't you think? Are you feeling all right?"
Jim felt a wave of gratitude, then a wave of pain as he moved too quickly to reach for the milk. "Ow. I don't suppose you'd be willing to pour me glass of milk, would you? It's ... heavy."
She made a face at him, then giggled. "Of course. I can't believe you're still going to the college thingy after last night!"
He started to shrug and then thought better of it. "Time stops for no man. Admissions offices really, really don't. I want to go to school somewhere good that isn't a million miles away from here."
Her face broke into a grin, and relief was apparent in her expressive hazel eyes. "I'd hug you so hard if you weren't hurt! You can't possibly know how worried I was that - that you were going to go to - to some prestigious academy for boy geniuses somewhere in the heart of New Guinea! I feel like I just got used to having a brother, and all of this college stuff - well, it - it sucks!"
Honey's confession threatened to set loose all of the worries he had himself about leaving, and sent warm little tendrils of happiness through his very being. He chortled out loud at Honey's use of the word, "sucks." He could hear Dan's influence in his sister's vocabulary and it was among the funnier things he'd heard in a good while.
"I have to tell Trixie you want to go to college near here - she was just about beside herself when Brian started talking about the college fair and had fliers from some school in California - " Honey stopped abruptly, her eyes going wide. "Don't tell her I told you that! Oh, gleeps! Trixie would die if she knew I told you that!"
Jim was somewhere between ecstatic and just shy of leaping over the moon at the idea that Trixie would miss him that much, but he hastily promised Honey that he would not mention it.
At that moment, their parents entered the dining room. If Matthew Wheeler was surprised that Jim was up and ready to go, he didn't say so. Madeleine hovered a bit, anxious about his head and how he felt. Jim answered honestly that he felt pretty banged up, but more than able to attend. As if on cue, Brian pulled up in the BWG station wagon and tapped the horn. Jim stuffed the last half of his toast into his mouth and excused himself with a wave.
At Crabapple Farm, Trixie was pacing like a caged tigress. She was absolutely dying to get back to the scene of the incident and do something to figure out what kind of a sorry excuse for a human being would hit Jim with a car, but her mother insisted that she not go, lest she annoy or pester the police. The fact that her brothers and Jim were going to a college fair didn't help. She was beyond worried about what her life would be like without them, worried that if Jim went to college he'd meet some Dot Murray-level vision of perfection and forget all about her. A flush spread across her nose and cheeks. She was always so embarrassed when she caught herself thinking about Jim like that!
"Trixie! Hey, Trixie!"
The blur of excitement that banged right through the screen door without knocking was Honey, and Trixie smiled to herself at how Honey had changed from the pale, shy girl she had been when the Wheelers had first moved into the Manor House.
"Guess what? I just talked to Jim about college and - and the reason he's so determined to go today is that he said he wants to go to school near here! He doesn't want to go to some crazy, far-off place after all!"
Trixie's relief was immense. She stopped pacing and directed Honey to sit down at the kitchen table. She poured two glasses of fresh lemonade and sat down across from her friend.
"Is he okay? I mean, after the car thing ... Dad said he was pretty banged up."
Honey nodded. "He's going to be fine. Mother and Daddy are going to the police station this afternoon to talk to Sergeant Molinson about the investigation." Honey dropped her voice to a scandalized whisper, "Apparently, there's a possibility that drugs were involved! A - a piece of paraphrenalia was found at the scene!"
Trixie wrinkled her nose in distaste. "I wonder if that's what Dan was embarrassed about last night ..."
"Embarrassed? What do you mean?"
"Last night, when my dad caught us investigating. You and I went back to the car, but Dan hung back to talk to my dad. I think he knew what the smell was but didn't want to say it in front of us. You know how he gets when things remind him of his old life. Remember how he was in New York City?"
"He didn't go to Sleepyside Junior-Senior High School for freshman year, so Dan has no way of knowing that we covered drug education in Health and Safety class," Honey sighed. "We need to have a talk with him. I won't have him getting all protective and weird just because Brian and Jim are off to college soon. It's ingrained in those two, but there's hope for Danny-boy if we catch him while he's still young!"
At that moment, Helen Belden entered the kitchen. Seeing the pitcher of lemonade, she sat down to have a glass herself.
"Honey, it's always nice to see you! How is your brother? I hear he went ahead to the college fair?"
Always tactful, Honey summarized everything the girls had just been discussing in four sentences. "Jim is doing well, Mrs. Belden. Daddy said he could go today if he could get up and get ready under his own power, and he did! Trixie and I were just discussing what Jim told me this morning about wanting to find a school that isn't terribly far away, and then we started wondering about the car incident and how Dan is exhibiting some early symptoms of overprotectiveness we may want to nip in the bud!" Honey flushed. "Drug reference not intended, Mrs. Belden!"
Helen laughed. "Peter told me about Dan smelling a bit of pot smoke last night, and being embarrassed to admit it in front of you girls. I think young Daniel's heart was in the right place, but we've never been the sort of parents to hide things from our children."
Trixie groaned. "Moms and Dad gave me the drugs, boys, and drinking talk right before I turned thirteen. I think they must have covered every single name for marijuana, and every possible awful line a boy might use to get me to act against my better judgment." She mock-shuddered. "Talk about embarrassing!"
Shaking her head, Honey grinned. "I've got you beaten, Trixie. I had to hear about such things from Miss Lefferts!" Honey went into her best Miss Lefferts impression, "Now, my dear. Some dastardly young men will try to kiss you or press advantage should you find yourself unchaparoned. When you return to boarding school in the fall and camp this summer, you will notice some ... er, changes in your classmates. Some boys will have deeper voices. Young ladies will develop a need for ... the brassiere." The way Honey said the word "brassiere" in a hushed, scandalized tone sent both Trixie and her mother into a fit of giggles.
"Oh," Trixie gasped, trying to regain her composure, "I've never even seen Miss Lefferts, and yet I know that if I ever did, I'd know it was her immediately!"
Helen daubed at her eyes with a corner of paper towel, her blue eyes twinkling merrily. "Honey Wheeler! You are a delightfully funny young woman these days!" She stood up at the sound of the clothes dryer buzzing. "Well, laundry is done. Come with me girls, and we'll get everything folded and put away three times as fast!" She leaned closer to the girls, her hand cupped to her mouth as if she was about to tell a secret. "There are several of ... the brassieres in that load. We'd best get them out of sight before anyone knows we use them!"