A/N: And we're back to a missing scene from a missing prequel from a (for now) missing book. This one takes place during Trixie's sophomore year at college. If you happen to land on this story before reading any others in the series: This is NOT a Jim & Trixie story. Fair warning: It is a bit Trixie & Regan shippy-ish. And I probably should've mentioned this from the start, but I don't have a Beta reader, so all my mistakes and errors belong solely to me. (I hug them and pet them and name them "George.") Thanks very much to all reviewers!

The Cold Lake Murders: Interlude 8 – A Few Moments of Indecision

"So... what do you think?" Trixie asked, grinning up at her former boss. She held her waffle cone up and licked at the trail of shocking blue ice cream that was running down the side.

Regan watched as three teenage boys trotted past, one waving a sign that read, "Vote for Anybody!" He smiled slightly. "I think you should consider a career in politics," he told her. "Then you could be mayor of this crazy town."

"Ha! Are you saying I fit right in?"

"If you didn't look so much like your mother, I'd believe you were adopted and a direct descendent of some family that's been here since before the Revolutionary War."

Trixie laughed at his response. "Well, you know, Indecision isn't that far from Sleepyside," she pointed out. "It's entirely possible I have some Indecision natives somewhere in my family tree. C'mon. I told Dan to meet us by the town hall. Hopefully, he's found a place to park by now."

Before they could move, a middle-aged woman with blonde hair cropped short on one side of her head and long, dyed pink locks on the other rushed up to them. She held up a black, patent leather handbag and a red, crocheted purse. "Black or red?" she demanded. "Black or red? I can't decide!"

"Green," Trixie replied calmly.

"Green? Green! Oh, no!" The woman gave a dramatic wail and hurried off. "Green!" she shouted at an elderly man crossing the street.

Trixie hip checked Regan as she took another bite of her snack. "Welcome to the Indecision Festival or Fair, 2008," she said. "I can't believe you've never been to one of these before."

"A festival-"

"Or fair," Trixie interjected. "Remember, they can't decide which."

"A festival or fair that happens once a year, but no one knows when until a week before?" Regan shook his head, taking in the growing crowd of people walking along both sides of the village's main drag. They were all more or less heading for the fairgrounds about four blocks east of the town square, though some were stopping in at various stores and establishments along the way. "How do people even know to show up when the time comes?"

"It's all part of the fun," Trixie explained, "even if it does make your poor OCD head want to explode. We know Indecision will hold a fair-"

"Or festival," Regan cut in dryly.

"Exactly! See, you're getting it. We know it's gonna happen at some point in the year; we just have to wait for the town's council to publicly announce it. They do all the planning and keep everything a closely guarded secret until the last minute. As far as I know, they've never had one in January or February, probably because of weather concerns. Oh, but back when I was in middle school, they did have a holiday-themed one in December. Instead of just celebrating Christmas and Chanukah, they celebrated every holiday anyone could think of. Townspeople kept handing us Easter eggs all day. It was pretty awesome."

They had come to an intersection, and they stopped along with a few others to wait for a tractor pulling a flat-bed trailer to rumble past. Four young girls, all dressed in wildly mismatched outfits and identical Miss Indecision 2008 sashes stood on the trailer, waving and throwing candy to the onlookers. Regan caught a piece of taffy that sailed over the heads of the shorter people in front of him and held it out to Trixie.

"No, thanks. Don't know how well it would go with this," she said, with a small nod toward her ice cream. "The blue is definitely pistachio, but I'm still not totally sure on the lavender. I think maybe... white chocolate? But you should try that. Long before Harry Potter and his Every Flavor Beans, the good people of Indecision, New York were making their Mystery Taffy. One time, Mart got a piece that none of us could identify, but we think might've actually been meatloaf."

Regan snorted and pocketed the candy. "Maybe later," he said.

"Suit yourself, Captain Grumpy Pants. Where's your sense of adventure? You passed up on the ice cream, too."

"It's only 10:20 in the morning, Trix," he pointed out as they stepped off the curb and continued on their way.

"Oh? So, your sense of adventure is a late sleeper?" she asked pertly. "Besides, rainbow ice cream in unidentified flavors! It's a tradition for the Indecision Fair."

"Or Festival."

Chuckling, Trixie nodded again. "Or Festival. See that building over there?" she asked.

"The Way-Out-West Saloon?"

"Yep. Inside? It looks like a jazz, speak-easy nightclub, but they play Disco music and pop hits from the 80s, with some random opera pieces thrown in. They make a yummy Tequila Sunrise, which of course I only know by word-of-mouth because I'm not old enough to drink alcohol and I never came here on a Saturday night with a bunch of friends from school." She finished her remarks with a wide-eyed, innocent look.

"I'll pretend I believe you on that one. At least your birthday isn't too far away," he said, regarding her knowingly. "And then you can ditch the fake ID and use your actual driver's license."

"Mmmm, hmmmm." She wrinkled her nose at him. "I don't really have a fake ID, you know. Honest! I can get in because they don't card at the door."

"Or the bar?"

"Well... maybe possibly sometimes some people might order drinks for friends..." She took a bite from her cone and chewed and swallowed it before speaking again. "In all seriousness, Regan, I promise I'm not going crazy and getting drunk all the time. I only had the one drink at a birthday party for a girl in one of Di's classes."

"Trixie, I'm not going to lecture you," he told her.

She flashed him a wide smile. "'Cause you rock."

"And you may be totally nuts, but you aren't stupid. I know you aren't going to do anything really dumb."

"Thank you!"

A man in a purple blazer, clown hat, and worn jeans stepped in front of them, blocking their way. "Hello!"

"Hello!" Trixie returned cheerfully.

"I'm Honorary Mayor-for-the Day Whittlebottom. Have you taken our Visitor's Pledge yet?"

"Nope! Not this year."

"Ah. Then hold up your right hand. Or left," the mayor began.

Trixie held up both.

"Wonderful!" the mayor cried, beaming at her. "Repeat after me. I may or may not solemnly swear to behave with proper decorum or reckless abandon while visiting the great village of Indecision."

Trixie repeated the words and the mayor handed her a rosette pin with a long ribbon that read, "I can't decide - 2008!" She thanked him politely and asked Regan to hold the remains of her cone long enough for her to pin her prize to her sweater. "This will go along with my collection of others from over the years," she told him as the mayor moved on to talk with a young couple with two small boys. "Moms thinks it's pretty hysterical. No one else we know always gets stopped to say the pledge like I do."

"Probably your obvious enthusiasm for the festival-"

"Or fair."

"-attracts enough attention from the locals that they choose you out of the crowd."

"It's more likely because your girlfriend is such a doll," a passing older woman said, smiling warmly at them both. "Beautiful and so bubbly. I'll bet she brightens your day every time you see her."

"She does," Regan agreed. "Like a ray of sunshine."

The woman nodded and kept walking.

"Like a ray of sunshine?" Trixie said, shaking with quiet laughter. "Did you seriously just say that?"

"I seriously did."

"Uh, huh. And apparently you're my boyfriend again. Just so you know, though, I'm not calling you 'Jimmy' this time around." She made a face, then turned away from him, pausing in their stroll to toss her sticky, ice cream-covered napkins into a black metal garbage can. She drew in a deep breath. Today, she was not going to think about Jim or the girl he was now dating. Today, she was going to have fun with two of her closest friends.

Regan said nothing to that. Instead, he reached out and took her hand in his, lacing their fingers together. They walked along in silence for several minutes until they reached the town square.

"Do you see Dan anywhere?" Trixie asked, rising on her toes to look around. "Sheesh! There're a lot of people here."

"No," Regan said slowly. "I don't think he's here yet."

"Oh, geeze. How far out do you think he had to park?"

"Way out, I'm guessing."

Trixie pulled her cell phone from her pocket and selected Dan from her contact list. He answered on the second ring. "Hey. Where are you? We've made it to Town Hall. Are you around here somewhere?"

"Sorry, Freckles. Not yet. I ended up parking in an overflow lot out at the new high school's football field, which I'm pretty sure means I was halfway back to Harrisonville. I should be there in another ten minutes, though."

"You're in the army! Run, soldier! Double time!"

"I'm on leave. I'm enjoying my leisurely walk, thank you very much."

"Oh, fine," Trixie pretended to pout. "Have it your way. Listen, it looks like the museum's open. Since this is Regan's first visit to Indecision, why don't you meet us in there? He can learn all about the history of the village while we wait for you."

The small museum and historical society building was painted in a variety of shades that seemed to be randomly applied to the siding, shutters, and door. There were curtains in the two front windows, maroon velvet on one side and blue and white checkered gingham on the other.

"This used to be a school house," Trixie explained as they walked through the door. "It was converted to a museum for the village back in the 1930s. Indecision was originally founded in the 1740s. The first farmers couldn't make up their minds what to call their new village, and after days of arguing, a preacher named Josiah Welles declared it 'Indecision' and that was that. As you've gathered from the festivities outside, the townsfolk took the concept and totally ran with it."

"Someone knows her history!"

They turned to see an elderly woman in a wheel chair rolling herself toward them.

"We're from Sleepyside," Trixie said. "But I did a paper on Indecision when I was in high school. Plus, I come to the Fair or Festival almost every year."

The woman peered up at her. "Well, isn't that nice. You're welcome to take your young man and show him around. If you have any questions, let me know. I'll just be right over there. I'm putting the finishing touches on my costume for tonight's ball."

"What are you wearing?" Trixie asked, grinning.

"Ah. I'll be a race car driver-hippie-nun-astronaut."

"Excellent! I hope you win first place in the contest, ma'am."

"Thank you, dear. Are you two planning to attend the ball?"

"No, ma'am. We'll be heading home before then."

"Oh, you should come! Dancing is really for young people like you, not us old geezers! Come and enjoy yourselves." The woman offered Trixie an exaggerated wink. "I'm sure your fella would love the opportunity to wrap you all up in those strong arms of his."

"Ah..." Trixie choked back a snicker. "Yeah. We'll see how the day goes. We're actually meeting someone else here, too. He probably won't want to stay that late."

"Hmmm. Well, whatever you decide, you have a good time today, dear."

"Thanks, ma'am. We will."

Trixie led Regan over to a display box that held a copy of the original town charter and a few other documents. "This is something you should find interesting. It's a ledger from a horse auction that took place," she said. "Some of the horse names were just as wacky two hundred years ago as they are today. My favorite is Stubborn as a Mule. Surprisingly, she sold for a fairly decent price at the time."

When Dan arrived a few minutes later, they thanked the museum's curator and walked back out into the mid-morning sunshine, making their way toward the fairgrounds. "Let's go through the Haunted House of Love first," Trixie suggested. "That's always a scream. Pun absolutely intended."

"Does that mean there's also a Tunnel of Terror?" Regan asked.

"Of course not, silly man. It's the Carousel of Terror."

"Oh. Of course."

"Got something for you, Freckles," Dan said, reaching into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a small, white paper bag.

"Oh, yea!" Trixie exclaimed. "Mystery Taffy. Your uncle is too chicken to try it." She selected a piece from the bag and unwrapped it. It was a light peach color. She bit off a corner and sucked on it for a moment. "Mmmm. Coconut!"

"You always get the good pieces," Dan said, chuckling. "How does that work? I had one when I bought the bag that I think was supposed to be fresh-cut grass."

"Poor baby," Trixie replied with a definite smirk. "Here. You can finish this piece and I'll pick something else."

It was almost 6:00 before they decided they'd had enough for the day. Dan offered to fetch Regan's truck again, but Trixie insisted it was only fair that they all make the trek out to the temporary parking lot, even as tired as she was.

As they drove north along County Road 10, Trixie had to fight off several big yawns. "If you guys are still hungry even after all the junk food we had today, there's a great pizza place real near my apartment," she said. "We could have dinner before you drop me off."

"Sounds good," Dan said agreeably. "Assuming you can stay awake long enough."

"Of course I can," Trixie declared.

She was asleep with her head on Regan's shoulder less than ten minutes later.

Smiling softly, Dan glanced at his uncle. "That's what I believe is known as a 'sugar crash,'" he murmured. "Guess we'll do the pizza thing another time."