Vengeance: Honey

“I’ll see your two and raise you two,” Brian said with another peek at the cards he held. “Mart?”

“I’m out,” Mart replied. “It’s too rich for my blood!”

“That’s only four,” Honey laughed. “Look how many you have in your pile!”

Mart grinned as he looked at her. “I know, but I am saving up for my marriage, you know.”

Di giggled. “Yeah, but Mart? We’re playing with popsicle sticks, not money! What on earth are you planning to do with them?”

“You’ll see, my doubting Diana,” he sniffed airily. “Maybe I’ll plant a popsicle bush in our back yard.”

Honey snorted as Brian rolled his eyes. “It’s scary to think that he’s actually engaged.”

“What about me?” Di asked, her violet eyes twinkling merrily. “I’m the one who’s going to have to live with him day in and day out for the rest of my life.”

“I’m crushed!” Mart said, pretending to be hurt. “Maybe we should just call off the wedding.”

“I don’t think so!” Di spoke so quickly that the rest laughed. “I’ve been waiting for this for far too long, Martin Belden!”

He reached across the table and took her hand. All joking was gone from his face when he whispered, “Not as long as I have, Diana Lynch.”

Honey caught Brian’s eye and, in an unspoken agreement, they slipped away from the card table and into the kitchen of the small apartment the girls had shared for the almost three years they had been in college. “They seem so happy,” she told him wistfully.

Brian took her in his arms. “Just one more year, Honey, then it’ll be our turn.”

“I know.” She settled comfortably against his chest. “I can’t believe how long that year suddenly seems.”

“Me, either.” He shook his head, then tilted her face up to meet his. “Honey, if it was up to me, we would have been married a long time ago.”

“I know,” she repeated. “But you’ve got to finish medical school first.”

“And you’ve got to finish your degree,” he reminded her.

“Remind me again why we chose goals that take so long to reach?”

“We didn’t.” He chuckled softly. “I think they chose us.”

She nodded her agreement. “Mine certainly did. I just never thought I’d be reaching it alone.”

“But you’re not…” Brian started to say, but then stopped as he realized what she meant. While official plans still called for there to one day be a Belden-Wheeler Detective agency, unofficially, everyone realized that Honey would be opening it on her own. He pulled her closer to him. “Alone at work, maybe, but you’ll never be alone in life.”

“I know,” she said again, a hint of sparkle in her eyes. “I love you so much, Brian.”

“I love you, too, Honey,” he replied, gently kissing her soft lips.

Honey tightened her arms around him as their kiss deepened, groaning as they were interrupted by the ringing of the telephone. Her lips still pressed against Brian’s, she felt more than heard him murmur, “Think they’ll get it?”

She reluctantly pulled away, shaking her head. “I wouldn’t bet on it.” She grabbed the receiver on the third ring. “Lynch and Wheeler residence.” After a moment of silence on the other end, she added, “Hello?”

The look on her face was somewhere between irritation and worry when she hung up the phone. “I’m starting not to like this, Brian. That was the fifth hang-up call in two days.”

“They never say anything?” he asked in concern.

She shook her head. “All we hear is breathing, and then whoever it is slams down the phone. We assumed they were just wrong numbers, or some child playing with the telephone, but we’ve never had this many. I wonder if the operator could trace the call for me.”

“It’s worth a try,” Brian assured her. “I’m sure it was just a mistake or some kid playing with the phone, but it never hurts to be sure.”

Without hesitation, she again picked up the receiver and quickly dialed zero for the operator. “Yes, can you please tell me the name or address of the party that just called me? I’m at 555-2947.”

She listened for a moment, shaking her head in irritation. “I assure you that it’s vital that I know,” she said in her most persuasive voice. Seconds later, her hazel eyes flashed as she hung up the phone.

“They won’t tell you?”

Honey’s shoulders slumped. “They only tell the police.”

“Why don’t you ask them to do it for you?”

“Because I’m sure it’s probably just a prank call. The last thing I need is for Chief Brodie to stop taking me seriously.”

Brian smiled reassuringly. “As much as you’ve helped him this year, I’m sure he will believe you.”

Honey rolled her eyes. “Yeah, and the sky is pink, Brian. How many cases did Trixie and I solve for Sergeant Molinson?”

“Call him, Honey.” His voice was firm. “I know you, and I trust your instincts. If you’re worried, you need to investigate. Even if it’s a false alarm, detectives don’t always know what’s happening at the very beginning of the case. Sometimes it takes following wrong leads in order to find the right ones.”

“You’re right,” she admitted reluctantly. “But I’ve just worked too hard to risk losing my credibility over what will more than likely turn out to be nothing!”

“But what if it isn’t?” he asked, looking straight into her eyes as he held tightly to her hands. “I don’t want anything to happen to you, Honey Wheeler.”

She felt herself flush in the intensity of his gaze. “Nothing will happen to me, Brian Belden.”

“See that it doesn’t,” he whispered, forcefully covering her lips with his own.

Within seconds, the door swung open and Mart came in, theatrically throwing a hand over his eyes. “Gleeps, you two are worse than Di and me!”

“Not hardly,” Honey retorted, her cheeks pink as she slightly stepped away from Brian.

“No one could be that bad, little brother,” Brian teased. “Of course, since you are getting married pretty soon, I guess we can let you get away with it.”

Mart’s cheeks and ears turned red. “Not to change the subject, uh, yeah, to change the subject, have you happened to glance at the clock? We need to be going since we both have early classes in the morning.”

“Yeah, we do,” Brian reluctantly admitted. “Give me five minutes.”

He turned back to Honey as soon as Mart had disappeared back through the swinging door. “Are you sure you’re going to be all right here?”

She nodded emphatically. “I’m sure, Brian.” Her tone softened as she said, “But I still wish you didn’t have to go.”

“Me, too,” he replied with a wistful smile. “Honey?”


“I’ve been thinking about something ever since Mart and Di became engaged, and I know this probably isn’t the best time to discuss this, but given what we were talking about earlier, well…,” he trailed off.

With the exception of the first time he had told that he loved her, Honey had never seen Brian so talkative and yet so hesitant to speak. “What is it, Brian? Mart can wait a while.”

“Well, I really want you to think about this before you decide, anyway, and I don’t want you to decide based on what you think I want. I want you to decide based on what you want and what’s best for you. Understood?”

“All right.”

“I know we’ve said we can’t get married until we both finish school, and I know that we need to wait, but I want you to think about maybe, possibly, considering moving in with me next year.”

Whatever she had been expecting, it wasn’t this. A jumble of thoughts immediately ran through her mind, but one thought in particular immediately crossed her lips. “Is this because of the phone call?”

“No.” He shook his head, the earnestness on his face convincing her of his sincerity. “Honey, I really don’t want to wait another year to be together, and,” he paused, flushing slightly as he whispered the rest in her ear, “it’s not like we’re not together anyway.”

“I know,” she replied. She looked up into his dark brown eyes. “I’m glad we didn’t wait.”

“Then you’ll consider it?” he asked hopefully.

She nodded and smiled. “Definitely.”


“Honey, did you ever go to sleep last night?” Diana asked from the breakfast table the following morning.

Sheepishly, Honey looked up from the toast she was spreading with preserves. “Not really, but I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“You didn’t,” she assured her, grabbing a slice of pecan pie from the refrigerator. “I woke up once or twice and noticed your light was still on.”

“I was trying to read, since I couldn’t sleep, but I finally just gave up around two.” Honey explained, shuddering slightly as she pointedly looked at Diana’s plate. “Di, only you would eat pecan pie for breakfast!”

Di giggled. “Just how is it different from the pecan rolls you ate yesterday morning?”

“It just is!” Honey laughed. She sobered quickly, suddenly wondering just how different it would be to share a breakfast table with Brian every morning.

“Honey? What’s wrong?” Diana asked softly. “You know you can tell me.”

“I know,” Honey admitted, looking her friend in the eye. “Di, Brian wants me to move in with him next year!”

“What?” Diana gasped. “Are you going to?”

She shrugged helplessly. “Last night when he asked me, it seemed like a really good idea, but all night, I kept thinking of what everyone’s going to say….”

Di was silent for a long moment, then suddenly began to laugh. She shook her head at Honey’s glare. “No, it’s just that I really don’t think you’re going to have a problem with people saying anything. At least, no one back home, anyway. Trust me, none of them will say a word.”

Honey raised her eyebrows. “Yeah, right.”

“They won’t,” Diana repeated, still giggling. “They’ll all be stunned speechless!”

In spite of herself, Honey chuckled. “Is it that out of character?”

“Well, not to me, but then again, I’ve seen the ways both of you have changed since we started college. Well, I know it started before then, because we all grew up a lot when Trixie got pregnant with Bekah, but people in Sleepyside, not just our parents, but even Trixie and Dan, haven’t been with us here. I’d say even Jim would be surprised at the ways you’ve changed, well, grown-up, just since he graduated.” Di nodded her emphasis, but then shook her head. “But I still don’t understand why you two just don’t get married already. I mean, you both keep saying you want to, and it’s not like you can’t marry and still finish school.”

Honey frowned, realizing that if they went through with it, Diana wouldn’t be the only person asking that question. “It’s not that simple, Di,” she began to try to explain, hoping she wouldn’t somehow sound condescending about her friend’s own decision to drop out of school to marry Mart. “I mean, one day, yeah, we do plan to get married, and as far as I’m concerned, I know I’m going to spend the rest of my life with him. But I don’t want to lose myself in the process.”

“Hold it,” Diana interrupted, her gaze incredulous. “What do you mean by losing yourself in the process?”

“Look,” she spoke softly. “I know that Brian and I can share an apartment and see each other all the time, but the minute that that piece of paper is signed that makes it legal, well, from that point on, I’ll no longer be Honey Wheeler. And it’s more than just the name, Di. It’s the whole concept. Brian’s going to be a doctor. I’m going to be a detective. And as much as we want to get married, we both know that if we do, neither one of us will turn those dreams into a reality.”

“But what’s going to stop you? I mean, I know it could happen if you were to get pregnant, but….” She trailed off, flushing slightly as she looked her friend straight in the eye. “That’s already a possibility, isn’t it?”

“No.” Honey didn’t even flinch as she shook her head. “That’s one thing we’ve both made certain of!”

In spite of her serious mood, Di giggled at the emphasis behind Honey’s statement, but then she sighed, unconsciously mimicking the other woman. “That’s one thing we can’t wait for.”

Honey smiled. “That’s why we all have to do what’s best for us, Di, and not what’s best for anyone else. Trust me, the minute we both graduate, Brian and I will start making wedding plans. It’s just that we’ve promised ourselves that we would wait until we were where we wanted to be in life. But marriage and children is where you want to be, which means that you’re doing what’s best for you.”

“You’re really going through with it, aren’t you?”

“Yeah.” Although her voice was a whisper, there was a new certainty present as she repeated herself. “Yeah, I am.”

Diana was slow to smile, but reached over to hug her friend. “Then know that I’m behind you one hundred percent.”


“I might as well not even be here today,” Honey reflected late that afternoon as she realized she hadn’t heard a single word spoken in either of the two classes she had attended that day. Another phone call as she had been leaving the apartment that morning had convinced her to drop by the police station, and between worrying about what she would find out and imagining how it would be to actually live with Brian the following year, her mind had been no where near the lectures that had been given. When the class was finally dismissed, she was pleased to find Brian waiting for her. “Hi!”

He gave her a quick hug. “I’ve missed you today, Honey.”

“I missed you, too,” she replied with a peck on his cheek. “Think we can go somewhere and talk after dinner?”

He looked at her searchingly, then grinned. “Only if I’m going to like what we talk about!”

“Oh, I think you will,” she teased. “I just thought we might like to be alone when we’re discussing how I’m going to move in with you this summer.”

“Definitely,” he agreed. “What do you want for dinner?”

She stopped and stared at him. “Did you hear what I just said?”

“Yeah, you want to be alone when we talk about moving in….” He stopped abruptly, the look on his face priceless as he realized what he had just said. He whispered, “You’re saying yes?”

“Uh-huh.” Honey nodded, only to be swallowed up in a swift joyful embrace. Two minutes later, feeling slightly dizzy from being spun around in Brian’s exuberance, she managed, “You can put me down now!”

“But I don’t want to,” he complained, but gently set her back on her feet. “How about we go someplace really special tonight for a celebration?”

Her eyes sparkled. “Sounds good to me!” Then she sighed, her expression serious as she looked at Brian. “But I want to stop at the police station on the way back to my apartment.”

He returned her serious gaze. “Did you get another one of those calls?”

“Yeah,” she admitted softly. “I actually stopped to talk to Chief Brodie on my way in this morning, and he told me to stop back by this afternoon.”

“Don’t think I don’t know how hard that was for you,” he told her, squeezing her hand. “But I’m glad you talked to him.”

She nodded.. “At least now I’ll be able to relax and not worry about it.”

“That’s right,” he grinned suddenly. “Then you can think about how we’re going to break the news to your family that you’re moving in with me.”

“Oh, great,” she sighed. “I think I’d rather worry about a possible stalker.”

“Oh, come on, Honey, I wasn’t serious,” Brian laughed. “I really don’t think it will be that bad; I mean, look at how great they were when Trixie and Regan first got married.”

“Yeah, but Brian?” Honey raised her eyebrows. “There’s a slight difference there.”

“You mean because you’re not pregnant and we’re not getting married?”

“No, I mean because I’m their daughter!”

He bent down to kiss the top of her head. “I still don’t think they’ll take it too hard.”

“I hope you’re right,” she sighed. “But don’t count on it.”

Hand in hand, they walked to the police station, where a receptionist waved them on to an office in the back. “Ah, Miss Wheeler,” a burly policeman greeted her before nodding in Brian’s general direction. “Would you believe I managed to get this only moments ago?”

She smiled politely, knowing that that was, in reality, quite typical. “Thank you, Chief Brodie. I really do appreciate this.”

“No problem at all,” he assured her. “I’m happy to be of help.”

The telephone on his desk rang, and Honey and Brian excused themselves. “Why am I suddenly so afraid to open this?” she asked softly.

He smiled gently at her. “At least you’ll know for certain once you do.”

“I don’t think I want to know,” she muttered, deciding to wait until they were safely in her apartment. Once there, she sat down in the living room while Brian wandered into the kitchen in search of a soft drink. The first page caused her to laugh out loud in spite of herself, and she called out to him, “Why does it not surprise me that most of these calls are from you and Mart?”

“Why does it?” Mart replied. “You know how we Belden men are enamoured of the pulchritudinous ladies dwelling in the Lynch and Wheeler abode.”

Startled, she looked up to see Mart and Diana coming in the door. “Mart! You scared me!”

“I really didn’t mean to.” He apologized with a smile. “You were just too caught up in whatever you’re reading to notice our entrance.”

“True,” she admitted, accepting the stack of mail Diana handed to her. “Thanks, Di.”

“You’re welcome. Are those the records from the phone company?”

“Yeah. I’ve just started to look through them.” She set her mail on the end table and turned her attention once again to the typewritten pages.

Suddenly a feeling of intense trepidation caused her to look up at her friends. “Why am I so worried about this? We know they’re just pranks, right?”

Brian put his hand on her shoulder, gently taking the sheets from her hands. “Honey, why don’t you let me see it? It looks like you got a letter from home.”

Knowing he was trying to make it easier for her, she reluctantly gave in. “Thanks, Brian.”

Trying not to stare too hard as Brian sat down beside her, she forced herself to pick out the actual letter nestled between a newspaper and several sales circulars. She had just removed a bright pink paper from the dingy white envelope when she heard Brian’s sharp intake of breath. “What is it? What does it say?”

He looked her in the eye. “You’ve had ten calls in the past three days from a payphone on Hawthorne Street.”

Diana gasped and clutched Mart’s hand. “Hawthorne Street? In Sleepyside?”

Brian nodded slowly, even as Honey automatically glanced down at the paper that had fallen to her lap. In letters that appeared to have been written with a large black magic marker were the words: YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT THE MISER ALONE.


Go on to Part Three