"Did you see that?" Trixie Belden asked, her eyes fixed on the dark sky above them.

"Shooting star," Daniel Mangan agreed, continuing to watch the ball of flame as it arced through the night sky. "Did you make a wish?" he asked idly, manoeuvring so that the contoured bed of the pick up truck didn't dig into his back quite so much.

"No. I save my wishes for Rabbit Rabbit. Shooting stars are just for enjoying," she explained, her blonde curls swirling and somehow coming to rest on Dan's shoulder. The sharp aroma of smoke from the bonfire filled his nostrils, but coming from Trixie's wild curls, it actually smelled kind of nice, he decided.

"I like that," he said thoughtfully. "No superstition. Just appreciation."

They stayed silent for several minutes, watching the diamonds sparkle against the black velvet of night. Dan wasn't entirely certain why Trixie was being so quiet, but he was enjoying it. Not that he didn't enjoy her endless chatter. But somehow, it was comforting to simply be for a short while. His suspicion that the quiet wouldn't last long was proven when she broke the silence, eyes still trained on the heavens.

"Do you think Shane and Darla saw the shooting star?" she asked softly.

He closed his eyes and swore internally. "They might have," he said cautiously.

He felt her turn to face him, but he held still, his heart rate rising despite his best attempts to keep himself calm. To his relief, though, she didn't seem too upset.

"Really?" she asked. "You think they stopped sucking face long enough to look out a window?"

"Sucking face?" he repeated, laughing. He still didn't turn his head, but he did try to look at her out of the corner of his eye.

"Well, what would you call it? Kissing implies romance. That was just..." she wrinkled her pert nose, "sucking face. Literally. Dan, I heard slurping," she finished with a grimace.

He couldn't help it. Laughing long and loud, he turned to her and tugged a curl. "Sucking face has its place," he informed her, watching her cheeks redden. "But you're right. I don't think there was any romance involved whatsoever."

"I still can't figure it out," she said, frowning. "I mean, Shane came with me, and you brought Darla. How did they end up leaving together?" She shifted again so that she was no longer looking at him. "Was it because I didn't sit in his lap?"

Dan scowled. "Did you want to?"

"No!" she exclaimed. "Why would I? And he didn't even ask—he just tried to pull me down and onto him."

"Shane's an idiot," Dan said shortly. "Some girls like that sort of thing. And there's nothing wrong with that. But you have to be able to figure out who's interested and who isn't. Shane's ego tells him that every girl wants him."

"Well, Darla certainly did," she retorted sourly. After a pause she asked, "Is it weird that I didn't? Want him, that is. I mean, he is popular, and most girls think he's good-looking, and..."

"Most girls?" Dan asked, surprised by her wording. "You don't?"

She shrugged, her shoulder brushing against his. "I used to think he was okay. Now he's just icky."

They were silent for a few minutes longer, and Dan wondered if Trixie was aware that her thigh was brushing against his every time she swung her legs, which were dangling over the truck's gate. Most likely she was completely oblivious.

"Do you always know which girls are interested in you?" she asked curiously.

He shrugged. "Not always. But I can usually tell who's receptive to an arm around the her shoulder or a kiss."

Trixie rolled her eyes and elbowed him in the ribs. "Duh. Every girl at the bonfire was receptive to you!"

He hoped the dark hid his smirk.

"So why did you agree to go with Shane?" Dan asked, circling back to the notion that Trixie hadn't been particularly attracted to the football tight end.

She shrugged. "Moms wanted me to have a social life this year. I promised her I'd say yes if anyone asked me out, so long as I didn't hate him."

She shivered, and Dan realized that the summer night had grown considerably cooler in the thirty minutes they'd been staring up at the stars from the back of his clunker of a truck. Without thinking, he drew her closer and tucked her into his side. She yawned and allowed her cheek to rest against his chest.

"Plus," she said drowsily, "I knew you'd be there, so the evening wouldn't be a complete waste."

He watched as her eyes drifted closed, and then popped open again. "Hey, I'm sorry about Darla. I hope you weren't, like, in love with her or something."

He swallowed before answering. "Nope."

"Well. That's good, then. Maybe she and Shane will hit it off." She yawned again, and Dan knew that he should get her home. It had to be getting close to curfew, anyway.

"You know what the best part of the night was?" she asked suddenly several heartbeats later, startling him.

"No, what?"

"Seeing a shooting star with you." She smiled up at him, completely happy and relaxed. "And I love this truck."

Dan smiled back at her. "It's a pretty good truck," he agreed, giving the vintage vehicle a solid pat. And if the truck happened to give him more chances to watch shooting stars with Trixie Belden, he could most certainly live with that.

Author’s Notes

This is a submission for CWE #3, inspired by Picture #24.

Thanks to MaryN (Dianafan) for editing and graphicing.

Disclaimer: Characters from the Trixie Belden series are the property of Random House. They are used without permission, although with a great deal of affection and respect. Story copyright by Ryl, August 2012. Graphics copyright 2012 by Mary N.

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