“We’ve got to keep running!” she told Rebekah and Billy as they both clasped her hands. “We’ve got to get inside!”
“I’m scared!” Bekah wailed, tears mixing with the rain streaming down her face. “He’s gonna eat us!”
“No, he won’t, Bekah!” Trixie answered with a certainty she didn’t feel. “He won’t even catch us if we keep running! Come on, Billy!”
The little boy was paralyzed with terror as the thunderstorm grew worse. “Can’t, Mommy!” he yelled.
“You’ve got to, son! We’re almost there!”
“Pick me up!” he demanded. “Pick me up!”
“I can’t carry you, Billy!” she replied, fear and desperation making her yell at the child. “You’ve got to run!”
Suddenly, lightening lit up the sky, striking the building that was their goal. As flames began to devour the structure, she glanced over her shoulder only to see that their pursuer was gaining on them. Fruitlessly, Trixie scanned the horizon for some other means of escape.
Within seconds, the giant gorilla was upon them. He grabbed Rebekah in a gigantic paw, and walked towards the huge skyscraper that had suddenly materialized in front of them. “NO!!!” Trixie screamed. “Bekah!!”
“Regan!” she screeched, watching in horror as the monster began to climb up the side of the building, her tiny daughter still in its clutches. “Where are you?”
“I’m right here, sweetie,” Regan gently shook his wife awake. “I’m right here.”
“Bekah,” Trixie gasped, sitting straight up in their bed, trembling as her husband wrapped her in his arms. “It got Bekah!”
“Shh, calm down, sweetie. It was only a dream,” he spoke soothingly. “You were having another nightmare.”
“Not another one,” she corrected him, still sobbing on his shoulder. “It was the same one again.”
“The one with King Kong?” he asked softly.
“Yeah,” she whispered. “Only this time it got Rebekah instead of me.”
Regan kissed her forehead. “Will you feel better seeing that she’s safe and sound?”
She nodded gratefully. “Come with me?”
“Of course,” he answered, as she swung her legs off the side of the bed. His arms never left her shoulders as he moved with her, her hands clutching him for support. Together, they walked down the hall, quietly entering the little girl’s room.
With a final squeeze of Regan’s arm, Trixie gently sat down on the edge of the bed, smiling as Rebekah continued to sleep soundly. With the lightest of touches, she stroked her cheek, reassuring herself that she was all right. Satisfied, and not wanting to wake her, she held out her hand for Regan to help her up.
He didn’t let go of her hand when she was up, but instead pulled her into his arms. Neither spoke as they stood there holding on to one another, and Trixie finally wiped her tears. “Let me check on Billy and Bobby,” she whispered.
Once she was certain that they were all safe, she and Regan returned to bed. She was still shaking slightly, and he again pulled her into his arms. “Trixie, sweetie, do you want to talk about it?”
“No,” she shook her head, her tears wetting his bare shoulder. “I’m scared, Regan. I can’t explain it, I know they’re just dreams, but it’s like I’ve got a feeling that something bad’s about to happen.”
He tightened his hold on her. “What do you think is going to happen?”
“I don’t know,” she sobbed. “I know it doesn’t make sense, but I’m scared!”
“Shh,” he whispered, stroking her hair, murmuring reassurances until she fell into a restless, albeit mercifully dreamless, sleep.
Trixie awoke before the alarm went off the next morning, surprised to find Regan already awake and watching her with worry in his green eyes. “Morning,” she said softly, rubbing her eyes. “Did you ever get back to sleep?”
He kissed her softly, avoiding answering her question. “How are you feeling, sweetie?”
“Awful?” she half-heartedly smiled. “Sweetheart, I’m sorry I woke you up again.”
“It’s okay,” he assured her. “I’m just worried about you.”
“I know you are,” she said, laying her head on his shoulder. “I just wish I could get rid of this feeling I have.”
“Sweetie, do you want me to stay home today? I can call and see if Dan will see to the horses this morning.”
“No, don’t bother him,” Trixie answered. “I think he’s at work, anyway, because Hallie’s planning to come over after breakfast. We were going to take Bekah and Billy to the park this morning.”
Regan looked at her sharply, but spoke tenderly. “Why don’t you stick a little closer to home this morning, Trixie? I’ll come home early, and we can all go to the park then.”
“Maybe you’re right,” she agreed slowly, not missing the worry still in his eyes. “She’s been promising to show me how to make that Coca-Cola cake you liked so much that day we went over there, so maybe we’ll do that instead. I think I actually have all the ingredients for it.”
“So I can expect cake for lunch?” he chuckled. “Speaking of food, what do you want for breakfast?”
“I’m not sure,” she answered. “I’d planned to cook sausage and pancakes, but if we do bake that cake, I’m not sure how much flour I’ll need.”
“Trixie, I didn’t ask what you were making. I asked what you wanted,” he told her, kissing the top of her head. “I’m making breakfast this morning.”
“Regan, you don’t have to do that!” she protested. “I think I slept more than you did!”
“Sweetie, you need the rest, and I want to do it.” He paused for a brief moment before adding, “But I do want you to tell Dr. Ferris about these nightmares.”
“I’m planning to, sweetheart,” she sighed. “I was hoping to wait until my six-month check next week, but if I have another night like this one, I’m going to see if he can see me early.”
“Please?” he replied softly. “Getting this upset can’t be good for you or for the baby.”
“I know,” she nodded. “I just don’t understand why it’s happening now. I mean, it seems like everything is finally going so well, and now I’m scared to go to sleep.”
He gently hugged her, then went to get dressed. She lay there thinking as she heard the water in the shower, trying futilely to figure out the source of her ill ease. She had almost dozed off when Regan came out of the bathroom, and she got up as she heard him calling for Bobby to wake up.
She entered the kitchen with Rebekah and Billy some moments later, amused in spite of herself to find Regan watching skeptically as Bobby expertly made French toast. “Hey, I thought you were making breakfast this morning,” she chuckled.
“I did, too, but he talked me into letting him do it,” Regan laughed, stooping to pick up Rebekah.
“Daddy!” she squealed, giggling as he pretended to throw her up in the air.
Trixie smiled to hide a sudden feeling of dread. “Nothing’s going to happen to them,” she sternly told herself before turning to Bobby, forcing herself to sound cheerful as she asked, “Bobby, when did you learn to cook? I wasn’t aware you were interested.”
“Uh, well,” he stammered, flushing. “It’s fun, sometimes.”
As tired as she was, she didn’t miss the expression on his face, and she remembered that he had once told her that their mother had practically stopped cooking unless Brian and Mart were home. Setting the syrup bottle on the table, she patted his shoulder. “Well, it looks good!”
“Yummy, Mommy!” Rebekah chirped a few minutes later, making a mess as she used her fingers to pick up one of the bite-sized pieces Trixie had cut for her and stuff it into her mouth.
“Yeah, ‘ummy!” Billy repeated, copying his sister.
“You’d think they’d never had any before,” Trixie said with a wry grin, wringing out a wash cloth to wipe their syrup-smeared faces. “It looks like I may have some competition.”
Bobby grinned. “Don’t count on it!”
“Sweetie, I hate to leave you, but I do need to get to the stables. Are you sure you’re going to be all right?” Regan asked, setting his plate in the sink.
“I’ll be fine!” she insisted. “I know I’m just making a mountain of a molehill.”
“Trixie? Want me to stay home today?” Bobby asked hopefully as soon as Regan left. “I’ll be glad to, you know.”
She raised an eyebrow at the teenager, even as she caught a glimpse of his bus out the window. “I’ll be okay, but I seem to remember that you have a math test today.”
“I don’t mind missing it, honest!” he protested, attempting to look sincere instead of hopeful.
She laughed. “Nice try, Bobby. Now hurry before you miss your bus.”
“Aw, Trixie!” he laughed, resignedly putting on his coat. He opened the door, nearly running into Hallie on his way to the waiting bus. “Oops! Sorry, Hallie!”
“Where’s the fire?” she called after him, laughingly accepting his quick apology.
“Come on in, Hallie.” Trixie greeted her. “Are you hungry? Bobby made breakfast this morning.”
“Bobby did?” Hallie repeated. “And no, thanks. I ate when Dan did this morning. I think I’m finally getting used to the concept of a full meal first thing in the morning.” She chuckled. “Maybe I should say right before his shift starts. I was cooking at three o’clock this morning!”
Trixie looked surprised. “You mean Dan expects you to get up to cook his breakfast that early?”
“No,” Hallie laughed. “But I expect me to. Besides, if I didn’t, it would take me all day to clean up his mess!” She tossed her purse onto the couch, following Trixie through the house. “Are we still taking Bekah and Billy sledding this morning?”
“No,” she shook her head. “You know Regan when he’s worried, and well, I didn’t sleep again last night. ”
“You’re still having those nightmares?” Hallie asked in concern. “What did Dr. Ferris say?”
“Well,” Trixie hedged. “I’m supposed to see him next week, but I promised Regan that I’d call his office in the morning if I don’t sleep tonight.”
“Trixie, call him now. You didn’t have nightmares with Bekah and Billy, did you?”
“Not like this,” she admitted. “I had a couple right before they were born, but they were nothing like this.”
“Call him,” Hallie urged. “See if he can take you this morning, and I’ll go along to watch Bekah and Billy. Dan won’t get home until two or after, so I’m not in a hurry to get home.”
Trixie glanced at the clock, resignation on her face. “It’s still too early for anyone to be in his office. Come on in the kitchen, and we’ll gab while I clean up the breakfast dishes.”
Hallie grinned. “Only if we can giggle while we’re gabbing!”
“It’s a deal!” Trixie laughed. “Speaking of kitchens, did you happen to bring that recipe I asked for?”
“Yup!” she answered, following her cousin into the kitchen. “It’s right here in my purse.”
“Get it out, please, and if Dr. Ferris can’t see me this morning, we’ll make one.”
“Sounds good,” Hallie answered, sitting down at the table. She started digging through her handbag as she asked, “Have you heard anything else from Uncle Andrew?”
“He called last night. He sounded like he’s enjoying his trip.”
“I’ll say!” Hallie snorted. “I tried to call him a couple of days ago, and his housekeeper told me he was out on a date!”
“A date?” Trixie asked in shock. “Our Uncle Andrew?”
“I’m glad to see you’re as shocked as I was,” she drawled, grinning. “I tried to get her to give me more details, but all she would say is that it wasn’t her place to tell me. So then I kept calling until I caught him at home.” She paused and laughed softly. “I’m hoping Dan won’t see the phone bill! Not that I’m planning to keep it a secret that I called, but jeeps, long distance is expensive!”
“Yeah, but you know full well Dan won’t say a word when he does see it.” Trixie shook her head impatiently. “But what did Uncle Andrew finally say? It’s not like him to keep secrets at all!”
“At least not his own,” Hallie amended. “He’s good at keeping everyone else’s. But anyway, all he would tell me was that she’s originally from there, but she moved out here to work, and they met on the flight out there.”
“It’s about time he met someone nice! Do you think she is? Who is she? Did he tell you?”
“Yeah,” Hallie admitted, answering only the last question as she suddenly showed great interest in the copper tea kettle sitting on the stove. “But I didn’t recognize the name, and Dan came in right after that, and um, distracted me.”
“Hallie!” Trixie looked at her in feigned shock. “How could you forget her name?”
“Don’t ask, Trixie,” she answered, a mischievous look in her dark eyes as she looked straight at her cousin. “Let’s just say I had other things on my mind.”
“Never mind! Just forget I asked!” she groaned, then shook her head. “I can’t help but wonder why he’s making such a big deal about keeping this a secret, though. I mean, even if you had remembered her name, what are the chances of either of us knowing her? I mean, it’s not like I got to really know any of the people his age when we were out there several years ago, and I don’t think you did either when you went.”
“No, not really. Just a few of the younger people, but wait a minute!” Hallie suddenly laughed. “What do you mean by ‘people his age’? He’s not that much older than your husband!”
“Seven years,” Trixie admitted ruefully. “But it’s the whole generation thing, I think. I mean, he’s our uncle, so he seems as old as our parents.”
“I know what you mean,” she answered, her black eyes twinkling. “But Bobby’s Bekah and Billy’s uncle, and you’re raising him as their brother.”
“Gleeps, Hallie, when did our family get so confusing?” Trixie joked. “Didn’t we used to have a nice, normal family tree?”
“Are you kidding?” Hallie raised her eyebrows. “With you and Mart in it? The human dictionary and the mystery magnet?”
Trixie giggled. “Like you and Cap are any saner?”
“Nope! Not one bit,” she proclaimed proudly, her chuckling interrupted by the ringing telephone.
“Could you get that for me?” Trixie asked, briefly lifting her soapy hands from the dishwater.
Hallie nodded and reached for the receiver. “Hello?”
“Hello?” she repeated, hanging up the phone. “It must have been a wrong number; whoever it was never said anything.”
“That’s odd. We’ve been getting a lot of those lately.”
“It happens. People dial the wrong number, then get embarrassed and hang up when they realize what they’ve done.”
“I’m probably just overreacting,” Trixie admitted while she dried her hands. “Did you find that recipe?”
“No!” Hallie exclaimed in frustration. “I could have sworn I put it right here in my wallet, but it’s missing!”
Trixie grinned. “Nice to know overreacting is also a family trait.”
Looking around to make sure Rebekah and Billy weren’t watching, Hallie promptly stuck out her tongue.
“I really wish I could help you, but there’s nothing I can give you that will be safe for the baby but still be effective,” Dr. Ferris told her sympathetically late that afternoon when she finally told him about her nightmares.
“I really don’t want to depend on sleeping pills, anyway,” she answered him. “I just wish I knew where they’re coming from.”
He smiled at her kindly. “I think I can help you with that. Many women experience nightmares when they’re expecting, and everyone is susceptible to them, especially after traumatic experiences.”
“But I never had them like this with Bekah and Billy,” she protested.
“No,” he told her, “but think about everything you’ve been through since you were held as a hostage last summer. You really never had a chance to recover from the shock of that, given that your mother came into the hospital only hours after you did, and that’s not even to mention the most traumatic of all.” His eyes twinkled as he continued, “Don’t even try to tell me it was easy suddenly becoming the parent of a thirteen-year old boy!”
Trixie laughed. “At least with the others, I did have several months to get used to the idea first! But are you sure the baby’s okay?”
“Absolutely,” he assured her. “But Trixie, you need to try to get more rest. I was teasing you about Bobby a minute ago, but you have been under a great deal of emotional strain, and now, your body is under an intense physical strain, too.”
“I know,” she admitted. “But it’s hard to rest when I’m running after Bekah and Billy all day, but am still too scared to go to sleep at night. Regan and Bobby really help me, but….”
As Trixie trailed off, Dr. Ferris sat down in the chair beside the small desk he kept in the examining room. “That’s another thing. At some point in the next couple of months before the baby’s born, I’d like to sit down with you and your husband to discuss family planning. The fact that this is your third pregnancy in four years is one reason that this one is so difficult for you.”
She realized he spoke out of concern for her, just as he had when he made the same offer shortly before Billy’s birth. Their decision not to use birth control had been made while they were still dating, and it was one they did not regret, even though it meant their family kept expanding. She could feel herself blush as she shook her head. “Thank you, but no. We both want a large family.”
“The offer stands, Trixie, if you change your mind.” He smiled warmly as he stood to take his leave. “In the meantime, see if you can’t get some rest.”
“I will,” she assured him. She thought of something, and called out to him before he shut the door. “Uh, Dr. Ferris? I do have one more question.”
“Yes?” The physician stepped back into the room.
“This is kind of embarrassing,” she told him.
He shook his head. “I’m a doctor, Trixie. I’m here to answer any questions you have.”
She flushed in spite of herself as she looked up at the aging doctor. “Could you help me down?”
The laugh she remembered from her childhood visits to this same office rang out as he gave her a hand. She gingerly stepped off of the high table, thankful to have her feet firmly on the floor. She thanked him, waiting only until he closed the door behind him to get dressed.
Regan was waiting for her in the waiting room, and immediately jumped up to greet her as she came through the door. “What did he say? Are you all right? Is the baby?”
“The baby’s fine,” she answered, taking his hand. “He did say I need to try to rest, but there’s nothing he can give me for the nightmares.”
Regan shook his head. “Did he say that they’re normal?”
“Considering everything that’s happened the past few months, yeah,” she said softly, looking into his worried green eyes. “We’ll be all right, I promise.”
“That’s good to know,” he teased, lightly kissing the top of her head as they walked out of the bright yellow room. “Do you think we need to call Hallie to let her know we’re on our way home?”
“No,” Trixie shook her head, “I don’t think so. I’m just glad she was able to come back over. I mean, I know Bobby’s old enough to stay with them, but I just feel better having her there too.”
Regan gave her a squeeze. “He really is good with them, and they love having him live with us.”
“I do, too,” she laughed. “I think he’s kinda glad, too.”
“I know he is,” Regan chuckled. Hand in hand, they walked across the parking lot, stopping short as Regan caught sight of their station wagon. Trixie looked to see what he was staring at, soon realizing that all four of the tires were inexplicably flat.
Puzzled, she moved forward for a closer look, barely stifling a scream when she saw that the rubber had been slashed into ribbons and broken glass from the headlights littered the pavement. She froze as she saw a yellow paper stuck under the windshield wiper blade. “I, I can’t look,” she whispered.
“Shh,” Regan attempted to soothe her, putting his arms around her. She buried her face in his chest. “Sweetie, it’s just an advertisement for an auction. See, it’s nothing to worry about.”
She glanced at the paper, trying to convince herself that it really was just random vandalism. “We’ve got to call home, Regan. I’ve got to know they’re all right.”
He nodded, leading her back inside the building. “I’m sure they’re fine, Trixie, but we’ll call and let them know we’ll be late.”
Insistent on making the call herself, Trixie was relieved when Bobby answered the phone on the first ring. “Bobby?” She forced herself to speak calmly. “Regan and I are going to be home later than we expected. Is everything all right at home?”
“Yeah,” he answered cheerily. “Everything’s fine. Hey, Trixie, since Hallie’s here, is it okay if I go over to Terry and Larry’s? I’ll be back by dinnertime.”
“I don’t know, Bobby,” she answered slowly, trying to will away the warning feeling in the pit of her stomach. “Don’t you have homework?”
“I’ve already finished it,” he assured her. “Can I?”
“Why don’t you ask Hallie if she’d mind if they came over, instead? Then we’ll be home as quick as we can.”
“I’ll see if they can.”
Trixie could hear the resignation and disappointment in his voice, and told herself that nothing would happen if he was allowed to go visiting, but she still couldn’t bring herself to let him go. Instead, she told him that he could go over there next time, and reminded him to let Hallie know that she and Regan were delayed, before hanging up and relinquishing the telephone to her husband.
Glancing apologetically at the receptionist while Regan dialed Dan’s number, she sank down in a chair, burying her face in her hands. It wasn’t long before she gave way to tears.
Sergeant Molinson arrived within minutes and somberly surveyed the damage. After asking questions and making notes, he said, “Trixie?”
“Yes, Sergeant?” She looked at him tearfully.
“I know it’s been a while, but do I need to remind you to leave the investigating to us?” he asked gruffly.
“No, sir,” she said meekly, suddenly smiling at him. She had caught the twinkle in his eyes and remembered how this conversation had almost become a game with them by the time she had finished high school. “But I still think that flyer is a clue.”
He groaned. “It’s an advertisement, Trixie. They’ll be all over town tomorrow.”
Her momentary relief at the familiar routine vanished. “I don’t know, Sergeant. I’ve just got a feeling that it’s important.”
“We’ll look into it,” he promised her. “Regan, do you two need a ride home?”
He shook his head. “No, Dan’s on his way to get us. It’s all right if he changes the tires, isn’t it?”
“Don’t you need them for evidence?” Trixie objected.
The policeman wearily rubbed his forehead. “I’ll send someone out to make a few pictures, Trixie. Since you won’t be able to get any new tires this late, anyway, you can have it fixed in the morning.”
Dan arrived just a few minutes later and, even though he was soon deep in conversation with the Sergeant, it wasn’t long before they were on their way home. For reasons Trixie couldn’t explain, the sense of dread that had faintly dissipated once she had talked to Bobby became stronger than ever as they turned onto Old Telegraph Road.
When Dan pulled into the driveway, she waited impatiently for Regan to help her out of the car and quickly rushed to the porch. Astonished to find the door standing open in the twenty degree weather, she ran inside, calling out for Hallie.
There was no answer, but hearing a radio playing in the kitchen, she tried to convince herself that Hallie must not have heard her yelling. Without even thinking about what she was doing, she took off her coat to hang in the hall closet, stopping suddenly as she realized the door didn’t want to open.
“What’s wrong, Trixie?” Regan asked softly, coming up behind her.
“This stupid door won’t open,” she muttered, feeling as if there were butterflies in her stomach.
“Here, let me try,” he told her, his green eyes twinkling. “This ‘stupid door’ as you put it does have a tendency to stick when it’s damp. Like when it’s snowing and Bobby forgets to close the front door.”
“But Bobby has never forgotten to close that door,” she reminded him, her sense of foreboding growing stronger. “Don’t you remember he was just complaining yesterday that I’m keeping the house too cold as it is?”
“Well, sweetie,” Regan smiled gently at her. “You do seem to stay rather warm lately.”
Wrinkling her nose at him, she forced herself to answer lightly. “I do have to admit that it’s much easier being pregnant in the winter than it is in the summertime!”
“No,” he chuckled, bending his head to hers. “At least in the summer, you’re not trying to freeze the rest of us.”
“Want me to warm you up later on?” she whispered, feeling warmth replace some of the ice water running through her veins as she looked into his eyes.
“Um-hmm,” Regan murmured. He claimed her lips with his own.
“Whoa! Nephew in the room!” Dan joked as he walked up behind them, laughing as Trixie flushed.
“Don’t think I won’t remember this,” Regan chuckled. “They say revenge is very sweet.”
Dan pretended to cower, but Trixie shivered. “Radio or no radio, Hallie should have heard us by now. And where’re the kids?”
“Probably still watching Mister Rogers,” Dan answered with a glance at the clock. “It doesn’t go off until 5:30.”
“I’m not even going to ask how you knew that,” Trixie grinned. “Please open that door, Regan! I’m burning up in here, and I want to go find my kids!”
Laughing softly, Regan yanked on the door, moving aside so Trixie could hang up her coat. She hurriedly draped it on a hanger, and headed straight for the kitchen, Regan and Dan right behind her.
They reached the kitchen together, stopping abruptly as they saw the mess on the table that bore witness to the fact that that Hallie had suddenly left whatever she had been cooking. Regan quickly turned the radio off, and in the utter silence that only an empty house can produce, Dan gasped as he saw a bright pink paper lying beside a white mixing bowl.
Continue to Part Two