DISCLAIMER: I don't own Nancy Drew. She was created once upon a time by Carolyn Keene and lots of other people who aren't me. No copyright infringement is implied/meant/deliberate in any way, shape or form, and no money is changing hands/no profit is being made, etc.
CHALLENGE: Submitted for the 5th Anniversary Challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Nancy Drew and the Mystery of the
By Del Robertson
"Do you really think this will work?" George asked her cousin, Bess Marvin.
"Of course it will," Bess answered, placing the large sheet cake on the table. "Don't be such a worry-wart."
"She's right, George. You guys planned this out to the very last detail," reassured Helen Corning. "Gosh, I can't wait to see Nancy's face when she walks through the front door."
"If everything goes according to plan," worried George. "I hope we didn't forget something. You know, one little slip-up and the whole party will be ruined."
"That does raise an interesting question, ladies." Carson Drew was manning a helium tank in the center of the room, rapidly filling colorful balloons and passing them to Helen to be tied with multi-colored ribbons and strategically placed throughout the room. "Just how does someone go about throwing a surprise party for Nancy Drew?"
"Given your daughter's history of spoiling surprises, it wasn't an easy task, Mr. Drew."
"That's true," laughed Carson. "You know, ever since the sudden tragic death of her mother when she was only three, Hannah Greun, the kindly housekeeper, and I have done our best to raise her. But, despite our best efforts, she's been in and out of mysteries since she was old enough to walk. I still remember when she turned five and I arranged a birthday party for her, complete with a rented clown. Did you know, ten minutes into the party, she walked up to the clown, climbed up on a chair so she was eye-level with him, and told him that she knew he was really Tommy Brown's dad?"
"Yeah, well I still remember the time mom let me go with George and Nancy to the department store to sit on Santa's lap. I was next in line," declared Bess, "But, Nancy Drew insisted on pushing her way in front of me."
"I waited in line for over two hours with my list, rehearsing exactly what I was going to ask for, only to have Nancy climb up in his lap and expose him as the man who worked part-time in the shoe department?"
"That's my Nancy," beamed Mr. Drew. "So, tell me girls, I've seen you scheming and planning for weeks now. Exactly how do you plan on luring my daughter here?"
"With a mystery, of course, Mr. Drew," began George, "I purchased a disposable cell phone on my trip into New York with my parents two months ago. Paid cash for it so there'd be no credit card statement laying around for Nancy to nonchalantly browse through. And, I hid the phone in the bottom of an old department store bag and folded it up and hid it in a shoebox and put the shoebox in a hat box and hid it in Helen's attic."
"Right," continued Helen. "And, just to make sure Nancy didn't get a wild-hair to snoop in my attic and play dress-up, I carefully collected mouse droppings from the pet store I work at and sprinkled them around and on top of the hat box. Knowing Nancy's habit for safety-first, I was quite confident that she wouldn't open the box without proper protective gear."
George picked up the story from there. "I retrieved the phone from Helen's house during a prearranged slumber party last week during a carefully choreographed game of hide-and-seek. While Nancy was blindfolded, I was able to get the phone and hide it in the bottom of my overnight bag. Two days later, I called the cake shop and the party shop and arranged for all of the supplies we were going to need. I even bought the napkins and plastic cutlery. I didn't want to risk Nancy realizing that there were missing utensils from any of our houses. And, I used an alias so that no one could leak to Nancy that I was throwing a party. Next, I called a distant cousin that lives two states away and arranged for him to drive into town to pick up the supplies. Naturally, he wore a disguise so that no one would recognize him from the trip he made down here six summers ago. And, I tossed the prepaid phone from the bridge over the bay under cover of a dark, moonless night so no one could casually mention to Nancy that they saw light reflecting off a metal object as it was tossed into the water. I habitually checked the weather for three days solid until I was satisfied there was no possible way the phone could be washed ashore to be found by some unsuspecting, but well-meaning good samaritan later."
"Golly." Carson let out a low whistle. "That all sounds very cloak-and-dagger, George."
"It is, Mr. Drew," chimed in Bess. "And, believe me, with your daughter, it's all so very necessary. Anyway, I talked a pen-pal friend of mine who also happens to be a drama coach to visit River Heights this week. He agreed to rent this secluded cabin in the woods, too."
"Awfully considerate fellow," Carson decided.
"While Bess was setting that up, I casually mentioned to Nan that Bess had been corresponding with this guy and things were getting hot and heavy and I was concerned about her because I thought he was a little creepy and things were moving too fast. Then, I shooed off the entire conversation, saying there was probably nothing to worry about and we should respect Bess' choices and not pry into her life. Then, I told her she shouldn't say anything to Bess about it at all."
"Which, if I know my daughter, that just made her more determined to look into things on her own."
"Exactly. And, when we left the diner where they served the most amazing apple pie I've ever had, we stepped right into a path of a man who was dressed in a trench coat and a hat and who was in an awful hurry. Of course, Nancy apologized, stating that she didn't see him coming."
"Let me guess; Bess' young friend?" asked Mr. Drew. "And, he was rude to her, wasn't he?"
"Well, you know Nancy's theory about crooks having no manners at all," reasoned George. "We just knew that would get her detective-radar going full speed. Add that to our innocent afternoon visit to Bess' house - "
" - where I accidentally left a decidedly threatening letter from my pen-pal out in plain view on the coffee table. And, when Nancy questioned me about it, I burst into tears and confessed the whole sordid story to her about how I was feeling down because I've packed on a few extra pounds and I felt like I wasn't pretty enough to get a man in person based on just my looks and I really wanted someone to talk to who wouldn't judge me based on appearances. And, I really had no idea that he would take things so far, stating that he was coming after me."
George rolled her eyes at her cousin's dramatic over-acting as she retold her part of the tale. "So, naturally, Nancy decided she would find this guy and put a stop to his shenanigans before something dreadful happened. And, of course, she turned to me, her trusty sidekick, for help. She didn't waste a minute, immediately dragging me out with her to look for clues."
"That's when my friend came to the house in his blue rented van and we loaded all the supplies into the back. And, we made to sure to make it look like I'd been kidnapped from the house, going so far as to have Tom carry me out blindfolded and gagged in case nosy Ms. Dempsey from across the street was looking out the window. Then, we drove to a secluded rest area three-point-eight miles from the outskirts of town and met everyone who was invited to attend the party. We left all the cars there and rode together in the van so there wouldn't be a chance Nancy would see extra vehicles parked around when she tracked us to the cabin in the woods later on tonight."
"After coming back to Bess' and realizing what had happened, I became so distraught that Nancy insisted she drive me home so I could lay down to rest. Once I was sure she was gone, I jumped in my car and high-tailed it out here. Parking behind the cabin, I erased my tire tracks with the brush from a large branch. Then, I covered my car in limbs, foliage and dirt to camouflage it."
"Sounds pretty ingenious, George," marveled Mr. Drew. "Are you certain Nancy will be able to find us?"
"Oh, definitely, Mr. Drew." George moved about the cabin, extinguishing the lights, signaling for everyone to hide. She lowered her voice to a whisper. "As a matter of fact, if I know your daughter, she should be picking the lock with a trusty bobby pin and coming through the back door - "
"Now!" George yelled as the back door opened, moonlight revealing the super-sleuth's silhouette carrying a penlight and creeping into the darkened cabin.
"SURPRISE!" a chorus of voices shouted as family and friends leapt at Nancy from various hiding places. Nancy appeared to be genuinely shocked as she was engulfed by well-wishers. Stunned, she allowed herself to be led over to the table filled with food. In the center was a large sheet cake, elaborately decorated, proclaiming in pink icing 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NANCY'. A slice was quickly cut and passed to Nancy, a forkful helpfully - and hurriedly - shoved into her mouth.
"So, tell the truth, were you really surprised, Nancy?" asked George.
"Oh, most definitely, George," confirmed Nancy, swallowing briskly. "Especially since my birthday isn't for another two months."
"And, that," George winked at Nancy's father, "Is how you throw a surprise party for Nancy Drew."
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