A/N: Last summer, I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at NaNoWriMo. That was all well and good, except that when November rolled around, I'd forgotten all about it. Brilliant! Last week I discovered Camp NaNoWriMo and this time I'm determined to participate, writing a Trixie Belden novel I've had swimming around in my head for a long time now. I've already done my outlines, so now I'm just waiting for July to get here. Meanwhile, I got the idea to write some "missing scenes" from my story. Yes. I'm writing missing scenes from a book that hasn't even been written yet. Just go with it. I definitely need the practice (and feedback, pretty please?) before I start on the book.
In warning: This is NOT a Jim and Trixie story, which I'm sure you gathered from the summary, but I figured it was worth reiterating. Also, there are probably many things that go against canon here. Some are accidental; I've not read all the books in the series and it's been a few years since I read the ones I do have. Some are deliberate. I believe they work within the universe I'm creating, and shouldn't be totally incomprehensible. This story may leave you with a lot of questions, but hopefully those will all be answered in the book.
Rated T for a mild swear word and the fact that the book will be for teens and up.
The Cold Lake Murders: Interlude – The Reception
A deep purple carpet ran the length of the walk from the curb edge to the glass front doors of the country club. Twinkling yellow lights decorated a series of potted Japanese maples that flanked the walkway in an elegant, unpretentious design. The lights gave the scene a magical and romantic mood suitable for an evening wedding reception, Trixie thought as she watched some of the guests laugh and chat as they made their way into the building. There were over a dozen cars still waiting to unload passengers in the shelter of the white and gold awning, as the valets raced back and forth parking each vehicle as quickly as possible. Although the worst of the storm seemed to have passed, a steady drizzle fell, threatening to ruin both highly polished shoes and elaborately done hairstyles.
It was another five minutes before Mart pulled his Fusion to the front of the line. He put the vehicle in park and Trixie managed to open her door before any of the valets reached her. She was half-way to standing when one appeared at her side, holding out a gloved hand in assistance. She accepted his help with a brief smile, waiting for Mart and Nick to join her.
"You still okay?" Nick asked softly as Mart collected a claims ticket.
"Yes," she said truthfully. "I am." She brushed her hands down the sides of her midnight blue gown, smoothing out a few wrinkles, and hoped she looked more like an elegant and sophisticated young woman than a silly little girl playing dress-up in her mother's evening clothes.
"Good." He gave her a cocky wink as he took her arm, slipping it under his. They walked into the country club together and Trixie was unsurprised to see the hundreds of attendees milling around. Though the families had kept the wedding ceremony itself comparably small, here it seemed the entire town of Sleepyside and then some had turned out in their finest outfits for the reception honoring the marriage of James Winthrop Frayne III and McKayla Aneira Collins.
The receiving line moved forward slowly. Trixie murmured a polite compliment to McKayla's parents, and then found herself face to face with Jim's new wife. There was a small, uncomfortable pause before McKayla spoke. "Thank you for coming." Her words were even, absent of the malice Trixie had come to expect from the other woman.
Perhaps, Trixie thought, now that the wedding had actually taken place, McKayla was finally secure in the knowledge that she was Jim's choice. There was no longer any reason to treat Trixie as a rival. Not that there ever really had been.
Trixie let out a breath she didn't realize she was holding. "Thank you for inviting me. It was a lovely ceremony," she replied, amazed to hear both the steadiness and sincerity in her voice. She turned to Jim to find him regarding her searchingly. She returned his look calmly and leaned forward to place a quick kiss on his cheek.
"Be happy," she whispered.
"Thanks, Trix. That means a lot."
And then she was moving on, offering her congratulations to the Wheelers, and wondering if her relief was as highly evident to everyone as she suspected it might be. The one moment she'd been dreading most for weeks was over and done without any drama or incident.
"Bully for you," Nick said as he walked her over to the buffet line, leaving Mart to talk with Ben Riker. "You're my hero tonight, Chief."
"Because I managed to walk across a room in four-inch spiked heels and not trip?" she asked, pretending to misunderstand him.
"Oh... I dunno if that's worth all that much," he mused playfully. "I think I could manage that myself if I tried. I think I'd make an awesome cross-dresser. Don't you?"
"Oh, boy. Nick, don't take this the wrong way, but you would be one very ugly woman!"
Nick snorted with laughter, unable to put on an offended air at her words. "All right. You got me there."
They filled their plates with food and then searched for their seats. Trixie was placed with the rest of her immediate family, barring best man Brian, who sat with Honey at the long wedding party table. She sent her brother and friend a small finger wave as she pulled out her chair. As Bobby wandered up, holding a plate so heavy with food it took both hands to keep it steady, Nick left her to find his own place, telling her to expect him to find her for a dance later in the evening.
"Hey, Sis," Bobby said casually as he yanked his seat back and dropped down into it with a low grunt.
"Having fun yet, Bro?" she asked knowingly.
"Bored out of my ever loving mind," he returned caustically. "And this suit couldn't possibly be more uncomfortable. Any chance you could dream up some reason to arrest me and we could both get the heck out of here?"
"Moms and Dad would pitch a fit," she replied, grinning. "You only just graduated high school. Let's try to keep your adult record clean for at least a few years, yeah?"
Bobby adopted a pained look and slumped back in his seat. "What good is you being chief of police if you won't take advantage of it when you can?" he muttered darkly.
"Acting chief of police," she corrected automatically.
"Technicality," Bobby said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "It means the same thing."
"It means that I'm only serving as police chief for a short period of time until the town council can decide who should have the position permanently."
"You do know that's gonna be you, right?"
"No, it won't be. I don't know why Chief Molinson browbeat the council into naming me as his successor, but there are several other officers on the force with more experience and seniority than I have. The council will choose one of them."
Bobby shook his head and grabbed a dinner roll from his plate. "It'll be you, Sis. I think everybody but you has figured that out by now."
They were joined at that moment by their parents, and Trixie decided to let the matter slide.
"Bobby!" Helen Belden exclaimed, watching her youngest son take a large bite from his roll. "I know you know you should wait until everyone is at the table before you start eating!"
Bobby cut his eyes to his sister. "Any chance this is an arrestable offense?" he asked plainly.
The reception was, Trixie reflected fifteen minutes later, an unusual combination of formal and informal, but somehow it worked. The Collins family had gone with a buffet dinner with no set start or end time, yet included assigned seating. There was a string quartet playing classical music while most of the guests were enjoying their dinners, but Trixie could see a band, complete with electric and bass guitars, setting up for what she supposed would be an eventual switch from dining to dancing.
True to his word, Nick Roberts turned up as the band launched into its first cover song, tapping her on the shoulder and holding out his hand expectantly. Trixie rose from her seat and joined him on the dance floor. For the next half hour, she found herself going from partner to partner, until she finally somewhat breathlessly excused herself from accepting another dance with Dan to escape to the restroom. She spent several minutes hiding out, touching up her make-up and combing her hair, only to give herself something to do other than lock herself in a stall. She stared at her reflection and decided she'd acquitted herself fairly enough. Her curls weren't completely wild and the deep red lipstick and black eyeliner gave her a glamorous look very unlike her typical, tomboy-next-store appearance. There was a color to her cheeks, a result no doubt of her physical activities, that seemed to bring out the blue of her eyes even more.
She slipped from the bathroom, making a beeline for the bar area. She definitely needed something to drink. The dancing had left her thoroughly parched. Once she had the bartender's attention, she quietly requested a glass of white wine. The champagne was certainly flowing freely, but she'd never acquired a taste for the fizzy drink.
"May I have this dance, Trix?" a voice asked from behind.
She turned, frowning. "Oh, come on!" she exclaimed. "Enough already!"
"I'm sorry?" Regan said uncertainly, hands held up in a conciliatory gesture. He regarded her quizzically, his head tilted slightly to one side.
She blinked up at him for a moment, blushing. "No. I'm sorry. That came out far ruder than I'd meant. I just... really. I'm fine, okay? I mean I wasn't entirely sure I would be this morning, but this hasn't been nearly as hard as I thought it would be."
"Right. So you guys can all stop with the sympathy dances, yeah? What did you do? Sign some secret pact agreeing to make sure I was never alone for more than five minutes?" She shook her head, laughing ruefully. "Not that I don't appreciate the effort to show you all care, but -"
"Trixie, I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about," Regan cut in. "I was just hoping to get a dance with you before someone else came along and claimed you again. I think you've danced with every man here tonight except me and Mr. Crimper."
"Ma'am?" the bartender asked politely. "Do you still want your wine?"
Trixie winced, biting down on her lower lip. "Oh, crap, Regan. I'm sorry. Can we start this conversation over?" She glanced over her shoulder and sent the bartender a self-deprecating smile. "If I'm going to keep making a fool out of myself tonight, maybe I should go ahead and switch to something stronger so I can at least blame the alcohol?"
Laughing softly, Regan stepped to her side and leaned against the bar. "How about a compromise?"
"Stick with the wine and enjoy your glass, then have a dance with me after. I would appreciate it if you didn't go for anything harder, though. I prefer my dance partners to be relatively sober. Especially ones tottering around on heels as high as yours."
"Ah. Deal. Do you want anything yourself?"
"Just a water," he said, as much to the bartender as in answer to her question.
Trixie grinned engagingly at him. "As acting chief of police, I feel confident enough in telling you I'm reasonably sure there's no law against drinking and riding." She made a show of leaning over to look behind him. "I'm curious, though. Where'd you park the horse?"
"Cute. I did actually drive here this evening, I'll have you know."
Trixie eyed him with mock-suspicion. "And do you actually have a valid driver's license?" She accepted the wine glass from the bartender and took a sip.
"That didn't expire sometime in the last decade or so?" She held out her hand. "C'mon. Let's see it."
"You want me to show you my driver's license?"
"Uh, huh. Perk of the job."
Regan slowly reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He flipped it open and handed it to her.
"Oh, dear," she murmured as she studied it. "We could have a problem here."
"What?" Regan grabbed his wallet from her hand and looked closely at his license, wondering if it had expired without his notice. That would certainly be awkward. Would it be favoritism to ask her to look the other way and not give him a ticket when he drove home later that night?
"Seriously. No one is supposed to look that good in a driver's license photo," she said, fighting another grin. "I might have to charge you with something for making the rest of us look particularly bad by comparison."
Regan's jaw fell open at her words, and Trixie couldn't hold back her laughter any longer. "Now that look would be something I'd expect to see on a driver's license!"
"You may be all grown up and acting chief of police," Regan said dryly, "but you are still as looney as you've always been. I don't even know if you're teasing me or flirting with me."
"Hmmm... I suppose a little bit of both. Although I'd better stop with the flirting, huh? That must be rather disturbing for you."
"What makes you say that?"
Trixie laughed again, tossing her head in a way that sent her curls tumbling about her shoulders. "Miss Fidget? Flirting with you? Admit it. Part of you is positively horrified." She lifted her glass and drained the last of her wine.
Regan reached out and took her hand. "If I found something as simple as the idea of you flirting with me horrifying, Trix, I never would've asked you to dance."
She glanced at him doubtfully as she allowed him to lead her out onto the dance floor. Regan turned and pulled her close, sliding one arm around her waist. "Unless you really are asking me to dance because Dan or somebody else put you up to it," she pointed out. "Then you could still be mentally skwigging out even while dutifully following orders."
"Sometimes, Trixie, you think too much," he replied easily. "Relax, huh? No one 'put me up' to dancing with you. And, for the record, 'skwigging' is not a word."
"It is so," she protested with a chuckle. "As are snapdoodle and churtle."
"So sayeth the acting chief. Maybe you could issue your own dictionary, just so the rest of us have some chance of understanding you? Do I even want to know what a snapdoodle or a churtle is supposed to be?"
"Search me. I just made 'em both up."
"Of course you did." He smiled warmly down at her. "Did I mention the looney thing yet?"
"Well, look at it this way. At least I'm not boring, yeah?"
"No, Trixie. You are many things, but boring is definitely not one of them."
It wasn't until a few hours later when she was home in bed, listening to the soft patter of rain against her window, that Trixie allowed herself to shed a few tears. She'd let him go. Months ago, really, but it was only today, as she watched him pledge himself in marriage to McKayla that she'd closed off that last bit of her heart where Jim Frayne still resided. She curled up against her pillow feeling small and unsure of herself, so far from the confident woman she tried to be every day as she got up and went to work, Sleepyside's youngest-ever police chief. She sighed and wiped impatiently at the moisture on her cheeks.
When she finally fell asleep, she dreamed of dancing with a tall, handsome redhead with amazing green eyes. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she was troubled by the thought that this was the wrong redhead. He was older. He was not Jim.
She awoke at 7:00am to the sound of her alarm clock blaring its nerve-wracking electronic screeching. The noise scraped across her brain like sandpaper, dragging her from her restless sleep. She stumbled out of bed and headed for her bathroom, hoping a shower would force the kinks from her muscles and fog from her head.
She remembered nothing of her dreams.