"We're going ice skating," she announced grimly. The message wasn't really meant for Autumn and Peter, but they were the only ones around.
"Oh goodie!" Autumn exclaimed, her voice laden with sarcasm. "I love being told what I want to do! And especially coming from my favorite person." Autumn made no bones about the fact that she didn't like Carey. Carey didn't like her much, either.
"Where are the guys?" Carey asked.
"We'll get them," Peter volunteered. While he normally trusted everybody, he had definite misgivings about Carey.
Carey took a seat at the kitchen table. She wouldn't have a very good view of the show from there, but Carey didn't care.
Peter got up from the chaise and took Autumn's hands, both wearing mischievous grins. Autumn stood and allowed Peter to lead her toward the downstairs bedroom. Peter opened the door to the bedroom.
The faint sound of the door closing created a small stir. In the upstairs bedroom, the palpable tension dissolved as Mike, Micky and Davy backed away from their vantage point—the barely open door.
"Well," said Mike, "who woulda thought that they would ever really. . . ."
"Yeah," agreed Davy. "And at this hour."
"A-ha!" Micky exclaimed, holding aloft his loot. "Found the stethoscopes!"
The stethoscopes were distributed, and clothing on the floor was kicked out of the way as the three men hunkered down to spy on their friends.
Downstairs, Carey quietly groaned with disgust. She knew she couldn't trust them with any job, no matter how small. They were too immature to handle positions of power. Which did pose an interesting question about their current status that Carey wouldn't bother to voice.
"Ready?" Peter whispered. Autumn nodded, smiling. They began the silent countdown.
Five . . . four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . zero. "HI GUYS!!!!!" the two yelled.
Upstairs, Mike, Micky and Davy jumped to their feet. They quickly hid the stethoscopes, and hurried downstairs.
"Now, you two," Micky began, "that wasn't very—oh, hi, Carey." Carey tried to convert her irritated sneer to a seductive smile, but it didn't work very well. "Hi, Micky. Are you ready?"
"To go ice skating."
"Were we going ice skating?"
"Okay, let's get ready!"
Through the general clamor that ensued, no one heard Carey say, "'Let's'? I meant just you and me." But it was too late. Almost everyone was ready to go in five minutes, except for Mike, who took six minutes.
It took them two hours to find and get to the ice skating rink. It wasn't the one that Carey wanted to go to, but no one cared.
Micky was the only witness to the actual accident. Mike was skating along just like everyone else, and suddenly he wasn't.
Mike had noticed an ice shaving on the ice. He kicked at it. Unfortunately, it wasn't just a small ice shaving—it was an ice shaving that was frozen to the rest of the ice. In the second that he touched his left skate to the ice shaving, and his right skate continued forward, Mike pitched backwards. If Micky saw this, he'd never let Mike hear the end of it. Mike put his hands out to catch himself, but he was falling faster than he'd thought. His hands slid along the ice, not even slowing him down. This will hurt, Mike thought, and then he thought nothing else.
When Mike went down, Micky skated over. Grinning eagerly, Micky was ready to tease Mike to no end. But Micky's eagerness faded when Mike didn't get up. If Mike really had hurt himself, the teasing could wait until they were home.
Micky's smile died completely when Mike didn't move at all. "Mike!" he called. Micky was standing above Mike, but Mike didn't respond. He didn't open his eyes. His eyelids didn't even flutter.
"Okay, that's not funny anymore." Mike still didn't move. Micky dropped to his knees beside his friend and prodded him gently. "C'mon, Mike, get up. You got me."
Mike didn't get up. In fact, Micky noticed a dark, growing pool around Mike's head.
"Help!" Micky yelled. A bystander was standing behind Micky when he yelled. The poor girl jumped at the sudden volume change and fell over, knocking Carey down, too.
Autumn, Peter and Davy were at the other side of the rink when Micky called. They figured that Micky was just joking around again. But when they did look, they saw three people down on the ice. One was Mike. That was enough for all of them, and they hurried over there. Autumn tripped and skidded the last few feet on her knees, slamming into Mike's shoulder. In horrified awe, Autumn reached out with both hands and touched the puddle of blood around Mike's head. She recoiled at the lukewarm temperature.
"What's wrong?" Peter asked.
"Mike," Micky said, pointing.
Autumn covered her face with her hands in her gesture of "I can't cope with this today!" She smeared blood all over her face and through her hair.
"We gotta do something!" Davy exclaimed.
"Help!" Micky and Autumn yelled. The bystander who'd fallen earlier had righted herself, and again she startled and fell down, taking Carey with her.
Four rink attendants rushed out onto the ice. One of them gave Micky everyone's shoes and cleared the rink. The other three checked on Mike.
"Is he okay?" Micky asked one of the attendants.
"I'm sure he'll be fine."
"But you don't know for sure?" Davy said.
"Well . . . an ambulance is on the way."
"What is that supposed to mean?" Autumn asked.
"I'm sure that the doctors at the hospital will take good care of him. Are you alright, miss?"
"Of course I'm alright—he's the one we're worried about!"
Carey remained apathetic as the paramedics loaded Mike onto the ambulance.
"Come on," Autumn said, taking charge. "Who's got the car keys?"
Micky slapped his forehead. "Mike!"
"Don't you guys have other keys?"
"Not with us."
Micky snapped his fingers. "Carey brought her car!"
"Let's get going!"
"Going where?" Carey said.
"The hospital, of course."
"In my car? Not a chance!"
"We have to, Carey," Micky begged.
Autumn couldn't stop herself from asking Carey, "Why are you such a—?"
"I don't think so—what about you, Micky, sweetie? Do you think I'm a pain?"
"I think we should get going." With that, they did.
"Are you fellas the monkeys?" asked the rather young doctor approaching them where they sat in the waiting room.
"No—Monkees," Micky replied.
"Oh. Okay. Well, your friend will be okay, but we do have to give him stitches."
"Will you have to cut his hair?"
"We'll try not to."
"Thanks. He'll appreciate it," Autumn said.
"I'm sure he will," replied the doctor, winking at Autumn, and then Carey, before walking away.
"Oh, yeah, I trust him now," Carey said sarcastically.
"For once, I have to agree," Autumn . . . well, agreed.
"Autumn, you look terrible," Micky said, sounding shocked.
Autumn looked offended. "You're not looking so hot yourself."
"Huh? Oh, I meant the blood and everything," Micky said, waving a hand in front of his face.
Autumn nodded in understanding.
"Carey," Davy began, "why don't you take Autumn and Peter over to her house?"
"Yeah," said Micky. "And then don't bother coming back."
"I know, I should get some sleep, too."
"Carey!" Micky snapped. "Stop it! I'm not interested!"
"Oh, come on, Micky, you're just stressed out."
"If I ever see you again, it will be too soon!"
"Look, I don't need to put up with you and your immature little 'friends'—"
"Then don't." With that, Micky got up and walked away.
"Say, Davy, wanna go out some time?"
Davy rolled his eyes and followed Micky's lead.
"Well," Carey said, turning to Peter and Autumn, "there is no way I'm chauffuerring you two around."
"That's fine," said Autumn, standing up with Peter. "We'll just take your car."
"How are you going to do that?" Carey asked sarcastically.
"I'd thought I'd use the keys," she said calmly, holding a set of keys.
"You wouldn't! How did you get those?"
"Simple slight of hand."
"Fine! I'll take you home."
Carey dropped Autumn and Peter off at her house and quickly sped off.
"How did you get her keys?"
"She left them on the table in the waiting room."
Peter laughed. "Let's get inside."
Autumn let them in.
"What a day," she sighed. Peter silently agreed.
"Hey," Peter exclaimed, just realizing something, "how am I getting home?"
Autumn considered his question. "I really don't know—wait!"
"Okay." Peter held very still.
"I have keys to the Monkeemobile—."
"Still. We can walk to the ice skating rink and you can drive to the hospital from there. Y'know, you guys could stay here if you need to—it's not like we'd be crowded or anything."
"I think we'll want to stay at the hospital."
"Good—that's where I was going to be, anyway. I'll get the keys." She grabbed the keys off a rack above the mail table and led Peter out the door.
They arrived at the skating rink within ten minutes. Autumn unlocked the car and handed Peter the keys. Autumn started around the car.
"Autumn, wait," Peter called. Even though she knew she'd see him in three seconds in the car, Autumn stopped and turned back.
Peter pulled her into a tight hug, and Autumn returned it as much as she could. Peter gave her a kiss on the forehead, and then one on the lips.
"Is that all you wanted?" she asked sweetly.
"Well . . . I . . . I just want to say . . . I. . . ."
"What is it, Peter?"
"Autumn, I. . . ."
Autumn patiently blinked as the silence continued.
"I love you," he finally blurted out.
Autumn stared at him. She looked as if he'd kicked her. "Oh," she said after a long pause. "Thank you."
"Is that all you're going to say?"
"I have to go home now." She gave him a quick kiss and walked away, leaving Peter behind, mystified.
The sequel to "Skating on Thin Ice," "The Thinker"