Prologue – Saturday, January 6, 1973

Diana Lynch and her six-year-old twin sisters hurried up the walk to the entrance of the Dance Academy of White Plains. The three sisters took dance lessons each Saturday, and today a special class was to be announced. Hurrying to the changing room, the girls quickly shed their outer garments until they were clad only in leotards and soft dance slippers.

“Hold still, Margie, while I do your ponytail.” Diana pulled one little girl’s hair into a ponytail and then turned to the other.

“Di-di, do you know what the special class is going to be?” Barbie Lynch was fidgeting so that it was hard for Diana to capture enough hair to make her ponytail.

“No, I don’t. I only know that Miss Rhonda said it would be a wonderful class and we are lucky to be getting the teacher. She’s only going to be here for six months.” Quickly, Diana pulled her own hair back and twisted an elastic band around it, then shooed the two younger girls ahead of her into the studio. They entered the practice area along with a dozen other girls ranging in age from five to eighteen. Another twenty or so girls were already in the room. The sisters separated, Diana joining the older group and the twins hurrying the front of the room to sit cross-legged on the floor with the other beginners.

A slender young woman in a black leotard, hair pulled into a severe bun, raised her hands and clapped for silence. The buzz of conversation stopped and she began to speak.

“It is my great privilege to introduce our new teacher, Miss Hali’a. Miss Hali’a is from Hawaii, and she will be with us until June. She will teach a class in hula dancing, and the hula students will present a program at our Spring recital. The hula class enrollment will be open for one week, and if any of you have friends who would like to participate, please let me know. Miss Hali’a can take no more than twenty students. Unfortunately, students taking advanced classes in ballet or tap will not be able to take the hula class.”

A disappointed groan came from one corner of the room, where the advanced students congregated. Diana felt thankful that she wasn’t advanced enough in anything to be excluded from participation in hula. She enjoyed dancing but hadn’t been taking classes long enough to be proficient.

Diana watched as another young woman stood up next to Miss Rhonda. This must be Miss Hali’a! Graceful in a flowing, brightly flowered dress, she had long, dark hair which waved over her shoulders, and a sun-warmed complexion which made Diana think of hot summer days at her friend Honey Wheeler’s lake.

“Aloha! My name is Hali’a Kinney. I am a student at Westchester Community College, but my home is in Honolulu, Hawaii. I am very happy to be able to offer a class in hula, the traditional dance of Hawaii. Hula uses movement to tell a story. It has been performed in Hawaii for hundreds of years, and the traditional hula costume is a grassskirt and lei – the lei is a necklace of flowers. However, in modern times, hula has adopted different costumes including the mu’u mu’u, like the one I am wearing. Any long, flowing dress will work.”

“Are there any questions?”

A hand waved frantically in the air. Diana, standing in the back of the room, could not tell whose hand it was, but she suspected that it belonged to one her sisters.


“Miss Holly, can I take hula with you? And my sister?” It was definitely Barbie Lynch.

“Miss Rhonda is taking signups today and all of next week. I will accept a few younger students. You called me Miss Holly, and my name does sound kind of like Holly – but it’s not. It is pronounced ‘Ha-LEE-ah’. Hali’a is a Hawaiian which means "remembrance of a loved one." In hula class we will also learn some history and traditions of Hawaii.”

Miss Rhonda stood again and clapped for silence once more. “That’s all for now, students. Please move on to your classes. Signup sheets and parental permission slips for the hula class will be available in my office; please stop by before you leave if you would like to take one home. Remember that signups will only be taken until next Saturday.”

The assembly of girls broke into smaller groups, each with a teacher in a separate section of the large practice studio. Diana was excited; she could hardly wait to call her two closest friends and invite them to sign up for hula class with her. Honey and Trixie would love hula; I’m sure they would. It would be great to learn more about Hawaii before we take our trip there with the Wheelers next summer.

Thursday, February 8, 1973

“Ugh! I hate, hate, HATE February!” Trixie Belden burst out as she sat down at the cafeteria table with her friends Honey Wheeler and Diana Lynch. The three girls were 11th graders at Sleepyside Junior-Senior High school.

Honey was quick to agree with her best friend. “I know just what you mean! The long, dark, cold, dreary days... the rain... the hockey team. I’m sick of hearing about the hockey season! I’m so proud of Jim and Brian for taking the youth hockey team to coach for their community service project, but...”

“It’s selfish to complain about them helping kids who really need the help, but the team seems to take up all of their free time. I hate to admit it, but I was hoping they would get knocked out of the tournament so that Mart and Dan could be free to go to the Sweethearts Dance at school this weekend.” Pretty, black-haired Diana Lynch was pouting now, too. “Mart and I had planned to go with Dan and Cheryl. Now he and Dan both will be tied up for the whole weekend.”

“I like to dance as much as anyone, but that’s not why I’m frustrated.” Trixie tossed her sandy curls. “Ever since Mart read The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe, to Bobby, my baby brother has been quoting it night and day. I can hardly get that horrible poem out of my head. Nevermore!”

“Oooh, I know what you mean! When we were in seventh grade, Trix, remember how we had to memorize a Poe poem?” Diana shuddered. “I had The Bells, and it still gives me nightmares to think of the “tintinnabulation of the bells, bells, bells, bells, bells.”

“Ugh! Let’s change the subject.” Honey covered her ears and intoned, “No more about hockey or horrible poems that get stuck in your head. Have you two thought any more about our costumes for the hula recital?”

“Gleeps, Honey, I’ve told you two a million times, I’m NOT going to dance in any hula recital. You talked me into the class and if you think for five minutes I’m going to wear a grass skirt and halter top in front of everyone...” Trixie’s face reddened at the very thought.

“Trixie, don’t you remember that Hali’a said we could wear mu’u mu’us or even a long, floaty, sleeveless dress?” Diana glanced at Honey in concern. Unlike Trixie, she enjoyed dressing up, and as long as she did not have to recite lines of dialog, she enjoyed performing onstage. She and Honey had talked and decided to work on Trixie slowly and surely. Honey had been certain that if Trixie knew they could wear mu’u mu’us it would go a long way toward convincing her.

“That’s exactly why we should start looking for fabric now,” Honey exclaimed. “It will take time to find just the right color and design of fabric, and the right pattern for the effect we want to create. It won’t be easy finding something that looks good on all three of us.”

“That’s what I mean! It will be a piece of cake for the two of you, without me. Honey, you’re tall and slim enough to be a model. Di, you’re so pretty and with your black hair, you’ll look exotic enough to really be a Hawaiian dancer. I’m the one who’ll stick out like a sore thumb--short, stubby, blonde, and freckled!” Trixie wailed.

“Don’t be silly, Trix,” Honey chided her friend. “You know that Hali’a said there are some very talented and popular hula dancers who are Caucasian. Besides, you’re not stubby-looking at all. You have a strong, athletic body and you’re great at sports. I wish I had the... um... shape you have.” Honey cast a disparaging glance at her own rather flat chest.

“The color we choose will be really important. There have been studies that show color can completely change the mood of a person who is seeing it.” Diana had taken several art classes and now she spoke up with enthusiasm. “If we choose the right colors, Trixie, no one will be looking at our hair or faces.”

“Do you mean we can use color to influence the audience? How will that work?” Trixie was intrigued, in spite of her determination not to dance onstage.

“Sure, we can use color. You know, that can be a very powerful tool. Just think about how you feel when you see a painting. The colors can make you feel happy or sad. It’s the same when you wear certain colors. How do you feel when you wear yellow, Trixie?”

“Yikes! I feel like a giant yellow daffodil and I’m afraid I’m going to trip over my skirt and fall right off the stage.” Trixie glared at her oldest friend. “I hope you don’t want us to wear yellow for the hula recital!”

“No, no, no!” Diana unsuccessfully tried to suppress a giggle, and in a moment was convulsed with laughter. “I remember that performance! I nearly lost my skirt, too. But that’s just my point. It wasn’t the yellow that made you trip. It was the fact that you lost your skirt. Mu’u mu’us don’t have a skirt– so you couldn’t lose it, Trixie. If you wore a mu’u mu’u with the right color and design you would look great, and that will give you confidence and make you dance better. I’ll bet Jim would like to see you dance in the recital.”

“Hmph! I still say we’ll be much better off if I wear a Hawaiian shirt, sit in a chair, and pretend to play my dad’s ukulele while you two dance to the music.” Trixie continued to glare, although she felt a twinge of excitement at the idea of dancing for Jim Frayne, Honey’s redheaded adopted brother.

At least she’s thinking about appearing onstage with us, Diana thought. And she’s really a good dancer. I know Jim would like to see herand maybe I’ll just drop a bug in his ear...

“So, why don’t we plan a trip to the fabric store in White Plains this Saturday after dance class, to look for fabric and patterns? I’d love to make our costumes, and Hali’a said anything we choose should be very simple.” Honey’s huge hazel eyes glowed. Although her family was very wealthy, she enjoyed sewing and mending. She had recently completed a new bedspread and curtains for her room, and regularly earned money by keeping up with the mending that Trixie’s family provided. In addition to creating new clothing and decorative items, Honey loved the challenge of repairing a garment so that one would have to look hard to see the repair.

“That sounds like fun! In fact, why don’t we plan a girls’ weekend, with a sleepover Saturday after the shopping trip? Maureen and Patty are staying all week since Mummy and Daddy are both out of town, so the twins won’t need me.” Diana was getting excited. Like Honey’s family, the Lynches were wealthy and employed two part-time nannies, but Diana spent several hours each week caring for her two sets of twin siblings – boys who were less than a year younger than Bobby Belden and girls who were six and a half. She truly enjoyed spending time with the younger children, and had declared that she hoped to have several children herself some day.

“I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to have a sleepover at my house this weekend. Moms and Dad are going out to the new restaurant, La Taberna, for Valentine’s Day, and I promised to watch Bobby. Brian and Mart will be gone until... I don’t know when, with the stupid tournament.”

“I’ll call Mummy tonight and see if Bobby can stay at our house for the weekend. I’m sure she won’t mind.” Bobby was a great friend of the two Lynch boys, and took pride in being the oldest for a change.

“Miss Trask will probably be happy to take us shopping after dance class. She may have some errands to run, too.” Honey dearly loved her former governess, who now managed the Wheeler estate. Miss Trask had been a math teacher at the boarding school Honey attended before moving to Sleepyside. She was very fond of Honey’s friends and spent many hours chaperoning their activities when Honey’s parents were out of town. Since the Wheelers traveled frequently on international business trips, Honey often saw more of Miss Trask than she did of her mother.

“Is your mom having a good time at the spa? When I talked to Mother last night, she was raving about her facial and massage. She’s been there before, though. She wants to get in some shopping in the city before they come back home, too.” Honey’s and Diana’s fathers had given their wives an early Valentine’s Day gift of a week at the exclusive Red Door Salon in San Francisco.

“Mummy said she was terrified when the plane took off and when it landed,” replied Diana. “I think she actually got Dr. Ferris to give her some medicine to take because she was so scared. She never has gotten used to flying, and it makes her a nervous wreck. If your mom hadn’t been going with her, I’m sure she wouldn’t have gone. But she’s having a great time. The only thing she complained about was that the meals are so small – but she’s happy because she’s lost three pounds since she’s been there.”

“When Mother found out that Daddy had planned a hunting trip out west for the Valentine’s Day weekend, she was so mad! I mean, steam was coming out of her ears, almost – especially when Daddy said he needed to go now while it was still hunting season for mountain lions!” Honey smiled. “But when Daddy told her about the spa trip, she came around. She would have moped while he was gone if she had to be here by herself. Not that I wouldn’t have been here... but we’ve spent a lot of time together lately, and well, Valentine’s Day!”

“I know just what you mean! When Daddy told Mummy he would be in Dallas for a week, she was almost in tears. I think he even called your dad, Honey, to get some ideas for making it up to her.”

“I have to say, Moms was thrilled with Dad’s announcement that they were going out to dinner,” Trixie chimed in. “The restaurant even has a band that will be performing Saturday, so she bought a new dress for dancing. And – Dad told me that he was having a dozen roses and a corsage delivered Saturday afternoon. I only hope that if I ever get married, my husband will be half as romantic as my dad. Only... I hope he doesn’t expect me to wear dresses!” Trixie tossed her sandy curls.

“What visions of loveliness have we here? Oh, and Trixie.” The speaker was a wiry blond youth with a short crew cut and bright blue eyes. He carried a tray with the maximum allowable portions of lunch piled high on it. Behind him followed a black-haired, dark-eyed young man similarly loaded down.

“Mart, my man, I’d definitely say that Trixie is a vision of loveliness, as well as the fair Misses Lynch and Wheeler. Just because you don’t appreciate your sister doesn’t mean no one else can.” The dark young man smiled at each of the three girls in turn. The two boys sat down next to Diana, who was seated across from Trixie and Honey.

“Dan, don’t be ridic!” Trixie’s face reddened again. “Anyway, gleeps! It’s time for us to get to class! Come on, Honey and Di. We’ll have to finish our plans this afternoon on the bus.”

By the time Trixie and Honey stepped off the school bus at the foot of Honey’s drive, they had decided that the sleepover would be best at Honey’s home, the Manor House. “That way, we can stay up late and watch a movie without disturbing anyone. I’m sure Miss Trask won’t mind. I’ll call you after supper.” Honey’s eyes glowed. She loved hosting get-togethers for her friends; it was such a contrast to the lonely life she had led before moving to Sleepyside and meeting Trixie.

“Trix, if you hope to have permission to spend the night at Honey’s on Saturday, it’s my cogitation that you should endeavor to inveigle our maternal parent’s acquiescence by speedily performing all of your domestic tasks and supervising Bobby’s nightly ablutions.”

Trixie stuck out her tongue at her brother. Only eleven months older, Mart loved to tease his sister and he loved to use big words, although he had outgrown his habit of using them upon every occasion.

“I’ll have you know, Mister English Professor, that I’ve done more domestic tasks and Bobby-sitting in the past week than you have done all winter,” she retorted.

“Ah, yes, but I’ve been occupied with helping our fair-haired sibling with his community service project. And I mean fair-haired in a rhetorical sense only. Give me your books, sis, so you can walk faster. The sooner you reach home, the sooner you can begin your campaign.” Mart grinned and reached for Trixie’s textbooks.

“Thanks, almost-twin. Even though you can be pretty annoying, you’re OK.” With this high praise Trixie scampered after Honey, separating from her at the point where a well-worn path led down to the Belden’s comfortable farmhouse. Mart followed her at a slower pace, whistling.

Trixie amazed her mother by refusing a snack and going immediately upstairs to change from her school clothes into jeans. When she appeared downstairs again with a dustcloth and furniture polish, Helen Belden was even more surprised. Trixie dusted vigorously for the next hour, and then set the table without being asked. Again without prompting, she made sure Bobby washed his hands and helped her mother bring the food into the dining room.

“Trixie, dear, what is going on?” Mrs. Belden’s pretty face wore a quizzical expression.

“Oh, Moms, Honey had the best idea today! You know our hula class is supposed to perform in the Spring dance recital. She thinks we should go ahead and find the material and pattern for our, I mean their, dresses so she can start sewing them. So we girls want to go shopping right after dance class and have a sleepover at Honey’s on Saturday. Of course it all depends on whether Miss Trask agrees, and if the Lynches will let Bobby stay at their house Saturday. I haven’t forgotten about watching him for you.”

Trixie’s mother was even more surprised at the reason for her daughter’s sudden industry. Shopping for a dress was quite far down on Trixie’s list of fun things to do.

“Sweetie, I thought the Lynches were gone this week. How can Bobby stay with them?”

“Mr. and Mrs. Lynch are gone, Moms, but both of the nannies will be there. Di is going to ask them as well as her mother for permission. You know Bobby always behaves well at their house, and he loves to go.”

“Well... if the Lynches give permission for Bobby to stay there, I suppose it will be all right. I’m happy to see you taking an interest in your hula costume. What kind of dress will you look for?”

“Well, um, that is, Honey and Di are going to dance and I’ll probably sit in a beach chair and pretend like I’m playing Dad’s ukulele. I think I could just wear a Hawaiian shirt that matches their dresses, and some shorts.”

“Trixie, we discussed this before you signed up for the hula class. Miss Hali’a was very clear that every student was to dance in the recital. I know the three of you are the only ones in your age group. Did she ask you to sit in a beach chair during the performance?” Mrs. Belden frowned.

“Oh, Moms! I’m such a klutz, you know I am! It’ll be a replay of third grade when I lost my skirt and fell off the stage. I’d just die of embarrassment!” Trixie twisted a blond curl in her agitation.

“Sweetheart, I understand you are nervous, but it would be letting your friends down, as well as Miss Hali’a, if you back out. You’ve been taking the class for two weeks now, and there may have been someone who wanted to take it and didn’t get in because you signed up first. By signing up for the class, you made a commitment, and I expect you to honor that commitment.”

Trixie sighed. “Moms, I know you’re right... as usual. I just hope I don’t ruin the whole dance for everyone.”

Mrs. Belden gave her daughter a quick hug. “I have confidence in you! And I know Jim will be proud of you for dancing in spite of being nervous about performing.”

Jim! He’s the main reason I’m nervous! Trixie thought of Jim’s lopsided grin... and of his soft lips kissing her after she danced. She made a vow to herself to practice until she had the moves down pat, and smiled at her mother. “Okay, Moms. I’ll do my best.”

After dinner, while Mart took care of cleaning up the supper dishes, Trixie received two phone calls from her friends. Miss Trask had agreed to the sleepover at the Manor House, and the Lynches had agreed that Bobby could spend the night with Diana’s twin brothers. Happy that the sleepover details were now ironed out, Trixie was able to concentrate on her homework.

That night, however, she dreamed of a line of hula dancers in grass skirts with yellow halter tops – led by a petite, curly-haired blonde - falling off the stage one by one, as “Lovely Hula Hands” played.

Saturday, February 10, 1973

As they left the Dance Academy, Honey and Trixie watched Diana shepherd her little sisters to the curb where the Lynch station wagon waited.

“Bye-bye, Di-di!” Margie and Barbie Lynch hugged their big sister before climbing inside with their brothers and Bobby Belden.

“Bye-bye, twinnies!” Diana blew kisses to her younger siblings as the car pulled away from the curb with Maureen Delanoy driving. Maureen was one of the two nannies for the Lynch brood, along with her friend Patty Barton.

“Are you girls ready for some shopping now, or do you want to eat lunch first?” Brisk, efficient Margery Trask looked at each of the three friends in turn. All of them were flushed with the exercise of the past hour.

“Let’s shop first,” suggested Diana. “If we haven’t found something in an hour, we can stop and eat, and then shop some more.”

“Ugh! I hope it doesn’t take an hour to find something we can all agree on.” Trixie wrinkled her nose.

“I’m sure we’ll be able to find something that is perfectly perfect at Carolana’s Fabrics. They carry a huge selection of fabrics and three different lines of patterns,” Honey assured her friends. “The spring and summer lines should be just arriving, so we’ll have first pick of what’s available.”

“Load up, then. The sooner we start the torture, the sooner it will be over.” Trixie grimaced. Opening the rear door of Miss Trask’s Volvo, she slid inside.

“Trixie, I thought we agreed on this, and you were getting excited about it yesterday.” Honey twisted around to look at Trixie, who sat in the back seat with Diana. “What’s different today?”

“Gleeps, Honey, I’m sorry! It’s just that every time I think about dancing on a stage, wearing a dress, I feel kind of sick. But Moms told me it wouldn’t be fair to not dance, when there might be someone who didn’t get the chance because I signed up first. I’ll try not to complain any more.”

She does look sorry, Honey decided. “We’ll just have to ask Hali’a to give us the name of the music we’re going to use, so we can buy a recording of it. Then we’ll just practice our dance so many times at home that we could all do it in our sleep.”

“Well, I hope you and Di are prepared to have a lot of sleepovers, because I do not want to practice dancing with my brothers around to comment on our skill – or lack of it.”

“Here we are.” Miss Trask pulled smoothly into a parking space in front of the White Plains Plaza. “Honey, if you girls don’t mind, I’m going to be in the secondhand bookstore at the other end of the shopping center. Sometimes they have a good selection of mysteries. I’m looking for an obscure title, “Cold Night, Warm Corpse.” I’ll be back here in an hour if you haven’t come to the bookstore first.”

“Oh, Miss Trask, that sounds so gory! I’d be awake all night if I had to read about something like a warm corpse!” Diana shuddered.

“It’s not as gory as it sounds.” Miss Trask’s bright blue eyes twinkled as she carefully dropped her car keys into her handbag. “It’s one of a series of mysteries by Clive Duncan. His detective, Rupert Crosbie, is a mathematics instructor at a British boys’ school.”

“Scotland Yard is always calling on him for help when they are stumped by a case. I’ve read a few of the stories myself,” Honey explained. “Good luck with your shopping!”

As Miss Trask walked briskly toward the second-hand bookstore, Honey whispered to her friends, “We’ve solved one mystery today!”

“What mystery is that?” Trixie looked puzzled.

“The mystery of what to get Miss Trask for Christmas!” Honey giggled. “Now if only I can remember that for the next ten months! For today, let’s solve the mystery of what our hula costumes will look like.”

Carolana’s Fabrics occupied one end of the strip of retail stores. The three girls went inside, only to stop dead in their tracks at the aisles full of bolts of fabrics in many different colors and textures. Honey strode confidently ahead to a display right in front of the expanse of glass window midway between the entrance and exit.

“Come on! I’m not choosing material by myself!” Honey laughed at the openmouthed faces of her friends.

“I’ve never been in the same room with so many kinds of fabric – I don’t think I even realized there were so many kinds.” Diana was staring from one display to another, trying to take it all in.

“Me either! Oh, I’ve been with Moms when she’s gone to the fabric counter at Crimper’s, but that’s nothing compared to this!” Trixie was equally awed.

“Here are some Hawaiian-looking prints, and some large flowered prints that would work.” After examining the tags at the end of a few bolts, Honey pointed to one table. “This group is rayon, which has a soft hand and will move beautifully when we sway with the dance movements.” She pointed to another display. “Let’s try some colors next to our faces first.”

In a short time, the girls determined that a turquoise rayon fabric with a medium-size print of white plumeria blossoms would be flattering to each one’s skin tone. Diana took the bolt to the cutting counter and asked the saleslady to hold it until they found a pattern. Trixie and Honey had already begun leafing through a pattern catalog, and Diana joined them, choosing a different pattern book.

“I don’t like a traditional mu’u mu’u with the elbow-length sleeves and ruffles. It looks too much like my grandmother’s housecoat. I’m sorry, but it does.” Diana wrinkled her nose as she expressed her opinion.

“I agree. And a sarong, like this one, doesn’t seem like it would have enough movement in the skirt.” Trixie pointed to another page.

“Here is a sleeveless long dress that flares out at the bottom; it has a narrow ruffle around the armhole and a wide flounce at the bottom, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s grandmother’s housecoat. And there’s lots of material to swish around at the bottom. What do you think?” Honey pointed to a pattern in the book she held open on the counter.

“I love it! Nothing old-ladyish about it!” Diana was enthusiastic.

“I like it, too. It looks comfortable.” Trixie was more subdued, but Honey could see that she was smiling.

“Good! Now, do both of you know your measurements? We don’t want to get the wrong sizes.” Honey opened a drawer under the counter and thumbed through the rows of patterns until she found the one they had selected. “Here’s mine,” she announced after a quick look at the back of the envelope.

“I know mine. How do we tell which size we wear?” Diana asked.

Honey showed her the size chart and Diana pulled her pattern from the drawer after a moment’s search.

“I don’t think I know my measurements. Will I have to come back again?” Trixie looked panicked at the thought of needing to return to the fabric store.

“I’ll bet the saleslady has a measuring tape we can use.” Honey suited her action to her words and in no time she returned with a length of string and a yardstick. “I’ll measure you with this string, then compare it to the yardstick.”

Once Trixie’s size was determined, the girls took their patterns to the counter, had their fabric cut, and chose thread to match. They met Miss Trask just as they were exiting the store.

“Everyone is smiling,” Miss Trask noted. “I assume that means the shopping trip was successful.”

“Yes, it was perfectly perfect!” Honey twirled around, swinging her bag in her excitement.

“Maybe this material will help me forget the dream I've had the last two nights. It was more like a horror movie – all of us falling off the stage while we danced the hula in grass skirts and yellow halter tops.” Trixie shuddered elaborately.

All during the drive back to Sleepyside, the three girls chattered, discussing their plans for the evening.

“Since Mother, Daddy, and Tom are out of town, Cook and Celia made plans to go the Cameo to see a movie tonight. Cook said she’d have a pot of her famous homemade vegetable soup and a pan of cornbread muffins for our supper. She told me she was making a special dessert, but she wouldn’t say what it was,” Honey informed her friends.

“Yummy-yum!” Trixie exclaimed. “I love your Cook’s vegetable soup. Is that the recipe she got from Moms?”

“Actually, I think it’s the one she got from the Lynches’ cook, which I think means it’s really Mrs. Lynch’s recipe... unless your mom got it from Mrs. Belden, right, Di?”

“Um, right... I think!” Diana giggled. “But what I’m really interested in is the mysterious dessert!”

“As Mart would probably say, we can’t wait to solve the secret of the mysterious confection,” Trixie said, chuckling. “What are we going to do besides eat, Honey? I’m sure you have some fun planned for us.”

“We’ll have a little time to spend outside before it gets too dark. We need to exercise Starlight, Susie, and Lady. Regan told me he would ride Jupiter and Strawberry himself this morning. After that, we can change for supper, eat, and sit around in the upstairs TV room. There’s a great Cary Grant movie on tonight – An Affair to Remember. We can fix hot chocolate and popcorn if we want snacks later. And maybe we can go sledding in the moonlight on the hill behind the house. There’s still plenty of snow.” Honey’s eyes sparkled as she described the activities she had planned.

“Oooh, I’ve never seen that Cary Grant movie,” Diana squealed.

“Moonlight sledding! That will be fantastic.” Trixie grinned. “It will be even more fun without our brothers to throw snowballs at us while we drag the sleds up the hill.”

“Mmmm, you’re right about that. Even though we’ll miss them... and of course, Dan.” Honey preferred to have all of the Bob-Whites together, but there was an undeniable appeal to doing girl-stuff without the guys--sometimes.

“Well, if we miss them too much, we can always spend time making valentines for them. Don’t you have a stash of construction paper, colored markers, and glue for when Bobby and the twins come to your house, Honey?”

“Oh, yes! We can make construction-paper and lace doily valentines, just like kids do. For the boys, and Bobby, and the twins, and our parents. Maybe I’ll even make a Valentine box for my parents.” Normally ladylike Honey was almost bouncing on the seat.

“I’ll never forget the first valentine I got from Mart. He was in the first grade, and he hadn’t decided girls were yucky yet. It was a red heart glued onto a doily, and little candy hearts glued all around the edge of the heart. Inside the candy heart border, he wrote ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. Candy is sweet, and so are you.’” Diana smiled at the memory. “I can still see him, with his big blue eyes and blond curls, and two front teeth missing.”

“I can remember you giving him a kiss, right there outside the classroom door.” Trixie made a gagging sound.

Miss Trask stopped the car to check the Wheeler’s mailbox. She handed a sheaf of envelopes, catalogs, and magazines to Honey, who rifled through the items to cull the important mail from the advertising and credit card solicitations. “Oh, no, I can’t believe I forgot about that book!” Honey exclaimed. “It’s an overdue book notice from the library.”

“Here we are, girls.” Miss Trask stopped on the circular drive in front of the Manor House, and the three teens climbed out of the car with their shopping bags and Trixie’s and Diana’s overnight bags. “Thank you, Miss Trask,” they chorused. The older woman smiled and pulled away to park the car in the Wheelers’ large detached garage.

The girls ran up the front steps and into the house and inside. Honey was thoughtful. “You know, Miss Trask is so good to us. I want to make a valentine for her, too. And Regan, and Celia, and Tom, and Cook... oh, wow! That’s a lot.”

“I know what you mean,” Diana agreed. “I need to make some for Harrison, for Maureen and Patty, for our chauffeur, Jack, and for Mrs. Bruger, our cleaning lady.”

“And I’ll make valentines for Mr. Maypenny, Mrs. Vanderpoel, Spider Webster, and even... Sergeant Molinson.” Trixie looked surprised at her own idea.

“There are a lot of people who have helped us. I think that’s a great idea! I just hope I have enough red construction paper and doilies for that many valentines. Let’s go see about that, then we’ll change clothes and go ride,” Honey suggested.

By the time they had exercised and groomed the three horses and cleaned the tack, it was time for supper, and afterward they all agreed that they were too tired for sledding. Comfortably sprawled over the plump sofa and overstuffed club chair in the Wheelers’ upstairs TV room with plates of Cook’s no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies and glasses of milk, they watched as the opening credits of An Affair to Remember scrolled down the screen. Trixie looked out for a moment at the fluffy flakes of snow that had begun to fall.

“I’m glad we’re inside,” she commented. “It’s supposed to go down to fifteen degrees tonight.”

“Mmm-mmm, Cary sure is fine!” Honey sighed. “Tall, dark, and handsome... with that dreamy accent!”

Just as Terry, played by Deborah Kerr, was struck by a car while running to meet Nickie, played by Cary Grant, the girls heard a loud crack outside, and the TV screen went black.

“Oh, no!” Diana cried. “Just when they were about to meet again!”

Honey sped to the doorway of the room, noticing that there were no interior lights on. Groping her way for several steps, she called out to Miss Trask, whose rooms were at the opposite end of the hallway from the Wheeler family bedrooms. “Miss Trask! Are you all right?” she called. “The electricity seems to be out.”

“Yes, dear, I’m fine.” Carrying a flashlight, Miss Trask appeared, looking as crisp and unruffled as if nothing was amiss. “I heard something that sounded like a branch breaking outside. It must have knocked down the line that feeds the power supply to the house. I’m going to ask Regan to check the stables and notify the power company. But this house is heated by gas, and we should have heat even without electricity.”

“Is there anything we can do?” Honey was concerned.

“No, just don’t open the refrigerator unless you absolutely must. There are some extra flashlights in the kitchen and I’ll bring them up when I come back.” Miss Trask began to descend the stairs, and Honey went back into the TV room with her friends.

“Well, since we can’t finish watching the movie, I vote for making our valentines,” Trixie suggested.

Diana was dubious. “Do you think it will be light enough to work on them?”

“Actually, I have several candles in my room, and if we light them and use the flashlights, I think we can get a lot done. It will be just like a hundred years ago – well, except for the flashlights,” Honey replied. “Let’s go back to my room and get our supplies. That’s where all of my paper and markers are, anyway.”

Honey’s room boasted a round table where she and her friends could play games or do homework together, so the girls assembled their valentine-making materials and Honey’s candles, and began to work in the flickering light. The addition of three flashlights when Miss Trask returned made the work a little easier. An hour later, they had a respectable stack of valentines and had covered a shoebox with red and pink paper and decorated it with lacy doilies and Cupid die cuts.

“I vote to finish this project in the morning when it’s light outside,” Diana said with a yawn. “We should have a couple of hours before Maureen comes to pick me up for church.”

Honey held her watch close to a candle to check the time. “I agree. I’m so sleepy I can hardly write a single word in between yawns. I’m for crawling under the covers now, but it has been a lot of fun. I’ve missed our girls’ nights since we’ve been so busy. Especially since some of us have started dating.” She directed a pointed stare at Trixie.

“Yes, I know,” Trixie agreed. “We can’t take our friendship for granted, no matter how wonderful a guy is. Even if he’s the most wonderful guy in the world … or one of my brothers.” She winked at Diana.

“Let’s make a vow to have one girls’ night every month, no matter what.” Honey put out her hand. Diana covered Honey’s hand with her own, and Trixie placed her hand over Diana’s. Then each girl repeated the motion.

“Girlfriends forever!” they vowed.

Thirty minutes later, the only sound in the moonlit room was the soft breathing of three girls who dreamed of dancing a hula in the snow, while four boys kept a hockey puck in motion on the Wheelers’ frozen lake, and a raven flew overhead, croaking “Nevermore”.


Author’s Notes

6704 words

First, thank you to Cathy for the gift of Jixemitri. The mention of Jim's lopsided grin is made in tribute to her Jim.   I never would have dreamed an internet community could be so caring. The great Trixie fanfic brought me here, and the great community keeps me.

Thank you to the admins and moderators who do so much to keep Jix fresh and special! You’re the best!

Thank you to Trish B, my lovely editor and friend, who has encouraged (and sometimes dragged) me every step of the way to applying for Jix author status. Without you, I never would have taken this step.

Thank you to Trish, Ryl, and Ronda, my intrepid and helpful editors! The story is so much better thanks to their eagle eyes and storytelling guidance! Improvements are theirs, any mistakes are mine!

Thank you, finally, to my beautiful and gracious web hostess, Vivian! Her generosity in allowing me to use space on her site, and her assistance with every step of posting this (and all) of my stories is appreciated more than I can say.

Hali’a Kinney’s last name is in honor of Ray Kinney (1900-1972), a Hawaiian singer, composer, recording artist, troubadour, radio and stage performer, orchestra leader and emcee. He performed for 57 years, and the impact of his popularization of Hawaiian music, particularly on the U.S. mainland, was immeasurable. You can learn more about him here.

More information about hula, its traditions, and its history, may be found here.

References to Trixie falling off the stage in her yellow daffodil costume are from an event recounted in The Mystery in Arizona.

Maureen Delanoy is the sister of Tom Delanoy, the Wheelers’ chauffeur. She is introduced in my story, The Life of Our Dreams.

There are three characters named in honor of my lovely editors. I’m sure you won’t have any trouble picking them out. All characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House, and I am making no profit from their use. They are used without permission, but with great respect.

Information for the movie, An Affair to Remember, came from this site.

Photo of plumeria from

The pattern chosen by the girls for their hula costume is from the Victoria Jones Collection and looks like this: muumuu pic

This story is an UN-Holiday CWP. The elements are:

  • Long, dark, cold dreary days – Trixie complains about them
  • Hunting season – Matthew Wheeler and Tom Delanoy have gone on a hunting trip to Wyoming
  • Hockey – the boys are coaching a youth hockey team
  • Cary Grant, in any context – the girls watch a Cary Grant movie
  • A book/work of Edgar Allen Poe – the girls discuss The Bells and The Raven
  • A warm corpse – title of the book Miss Trask wants
  • If your story takes place BEFORE the 1990s, you can say simply, "You know, that can be a very powerful tool" – Diana’s statement about color
  • Holly/Holly berries – Diana’s little sister calls Hali’a “Holly”
  • An UNwanted piece of mail. Use your imagination! – Honey’s overdue book notice
  • A hula recital – the girls will be performing a hula in the Spring dance recital
  • A misunderstood word, spoken or written. – Hali’a misunderstood as “Holly”
  • Tag – Honey examines the tags on the bolts of fabric

Carryover elements:

  • A Valentine from a crush – Diana tells about her first Valentine from Mart
  • A kid's Valentine craft project – the girls make Valentines and a Valentine box

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