Authors: Carolyn Keene
Suddenly, the elevator opened on our floor. Right away, I could tell something was wrong. I was the last one out when we left this morning, and I'd closed the door. Now it was hanging open by a few inches.
I put my finger to my lips and pointed to the door. George and Bess went silent, and we crept slowly forward. Bess took her cell phone out of her pocket and started dialingâhotel security, I was certain. George slipped off one shoe and held it above her head like a club.
I mouthed to the girlsâ¦
â¦we all took a breath.
I swung open the door and my mouth gaped open at the sight in front of me.
#1 Without a Trace
#2 A Race Against Time
#3 False Notes
#4 High Risk
#5 Lights, Cameraâ¦
#7 The Stolen Relic
#8 The Scarlet Macaw Scandal
#9 Secret of the Spa
#10 Uncivil Acts
#11 Riverboat Ruse
#12 Stop the Clock
#13 Trade Wind Danger
#14 Bad Times, Big Crimes
#16 Dangerous Plays
#17 En Garde
#18 Pit of Vipers
#19 Orchid Thief
#20 Getting Burned
#21 Close Encounters
#22 Dressed to Steal
#23 Troubled Waters
#24 Murder on the Set
#1 Extreme Danger
#2 Running on Fumes
#3 Boardwalk Bust
#4 Thrill Ride
#5 Rocky Road
#7 Operation: Survival
#8 Top Ten Ways to Die
#9 Martial Law
#10 Blown Away
#11 Hurricane Joe
#12 Trouble in Paradise
#13 The Mummy's Curse
#15 Death and Diamonds
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the authors' imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
An imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
Copyright Â© 2009 by Simon & Schuster, Inc.
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.
NANCY DREW, NANCY DREW: GIRL DETECTIVE, THE HARDY BOYS, THE HARDY BOYS MYSTERY STORIES, HARDY BOYS UNDERCOVER BROTHERS, ALADDIN,
and related logo are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
Library of Congress Control Number 2008941897
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“No!” George said. It looked like she was about to run. I stepped between her and the door, while Bess snuck up behind her. She wasn't going to get away that easily. We were doing this for her own good. She needed a new bathing suit, no matter what she said. Her old one was falling apart. When she realized we had her surrounded, George slumped her shoulders and let Bess march her back into the changing room, with a stack of swimwear in hand. I stood outside and waited.
George Fayne and Bess Martin were my two best friends. They're cousins, and in some ways, they are a lot alike. They're both smart and fearless and loyal and handy. George is great with computers, and Bess has never met a machine she can't take apart and put
back together in five minutes flat. But when it comes to clothes, they couldn't be more different.
George is all about function, and would happily have worn jeans and a T-shirt every day of the week. Bess lives for fashion, and though her favorite thing to do is to cut up and resew an old outfit into something new, she wouldn't turn down an excuse to go shoppingâlike our upcoming all-expenses-paid trip to the Wetlands, the exclusive, environmentally friendly resort in the Florida Everglades. It was supposed to be one of the most exciting new eco-resorts, promoting “green” tourism.
My dad, Carson Drew, is a lawyer in River Heights, which is pretty far from Florida. But Jack Thorton, the owner of the Wetlands, is an old friend of his. Dad had done some legal work for Mr. Thorton, and in return, Mr. Thorton had offered us a free week's vacation. Dad had a big case coming up, so he couldn't make it, but he said I could goâso long as I promised to stay out of trouble, and to bring Bess and George to look after me. I've got a bit of a reputation for solving mysteries. Unfortunately, to solve them, I have to get caught in the middle, and I've had more than a few close calls. But this vacation was going to be all about sun, sand, and swimming.
Which was why we were at the River Heights Mall, trying on the latest swimsuits at Paradise Found, the new beach store that had just opened up for the season. I'd
already picked out a one-piece bathing suit and matching hat in sky blue, my favorite color. Now Bess and I were attempting to wrangle George into trying some things on. We'd tricked her into the store by pointing out their display of high-performance waterproof sandals. Ever since she'd heard about the trip, George had been wild to explore the swamps around the resort.
“Did you know there are more than ten thousand tiny islands that make up the Everglades? And that tons of different plants and animals live there, from orchids to alligators to manatees?” George had spent the last week constantly reading us facts off Wikipedia. In fact, she'd even been using her phone's web browser to look things up while we were at the mall, which was why she didn't notice Bess picking out bathing suits for her until it was too late to get away.
Bess and George eventually emerged from the changing room. George's short brown hair was spiky and tousled, and with the brown-and-blue-microfiber deep-sea bathing suit she had on, it was easy to imagine her exploring the swamp or kayaking in the ocean. Bess, with her flowing blond hair and pink floral bikini, looked as though she had just stepped out of a swimsuit catalog. In fact, Bess almost always looks like she's just been modeling in a photo shoot. Sometimes it's hard being a mere mortal around her, but Bess was so sweet that it's impossible to be jealous of her.
“Look!” said George excitedly. “My suit has two hidden waterproof compartments to hold a map and compass.” She pulled on the fabric of the suit to show the concealed pockets sewn into the lining.
was how Bess had sold her on the suit! I gave Bess a knowing wink as I inspected George's pockets. George loves any sort of techie gadget, or anything that allows her to carry gadgets and tools with her at all times.
“And the best part is that both suits are on sale. Two for the price of one,” Bess chimed in. This was our last stop at the mall before heading back home, and we'd done pretty well. Bess and George changed back into their regular clothes, and we headed to the cashier, excited to be that much closer to our dream vacation.
“I can't believe we leave in two days,” Bess said as we loaded our shopping bags into the trunk of my car. We'd stocked up on everythingâsuntan lotion, books, magazines, towels, sunglasses.
“I know,” I said. “It's going to be great. I can't wait to relax on the beach.”
Bess picked our sunglasses from the trunk and handed them out. We'd each gotten oversize round glasses with plastic frames. Mine were blue, Bess's were pink, and George's were a dark green. Bess assured us they were very
right now, even though I thought we looked a little silly.
“Hey, did you know the Everglades are really just one very slow-moving river?” George called out, looking at her phone.
“Can you look up the Wetlands Resort, George?” I asked as we all piled into the car. Dad had given me a brochure full of beautiful photos of the resort and the surrounding area, but I wanted to find out as much as I could about the hotel before we showed up. I liked to be prepared.
“Sure thing,” George answered. I heard some rapid-fire tapping from the backseat. “Well, they opened about a year ago, and it seems everyone is raving about them. They're doing great things for both the Everglades and the local economy. They're the first big luxury resort to be carbon neutral.”
“Carbon neutral?” Bess said. I noticed she was twirling a lock of her hair around her finger, a sign that she was thinking about anything. She gets nervous when I drive, and for no real reason. I haven't even come close to hitting something in days. Weeks, even. But you back up into one parking meter, and no one ever lets you forget it.
“That means they prevent as much carbon dioxide pollution as they cause. Apparently, they use all kinds of solar panels and easily recyclable materials,” George answered.
“That's awesome,” I said. Now I was even more excited to go.
Back at the house, Hannah Gruen and my dad were just sitting down to lunch. Hannah is our housekeeper, cook, and general miracle worker. I'm a lot like my dadâwhen we get caught up in a case, we both forget to do anything else, even eat. Hannah keeps us alive.
“Just in time,” Hannah said as we came through the door with all our bags. “Sit down and have a bite to eat.”
“Thanks, Hannah!” Bess and George said in unison. Hannah's a great cook, so Bess and George never miss a chance to eat at my house. We all took our places at the long dining room table. There was a big bowl in the middle, filled with dark green arugula, bright red cherry tomatoes, slices of carrot, and tons and tons of grilled chicken. My mouth watered just looking at it.
“How did the shopping go, girls?” Dad looked up from the newspaper he was reading. I knew he was sad that he wouldn't get to go down to the Wetlands, but he was still excited for us.
“Great,” Bess said. “We even managed to get George into a new swimsuit!”
“It's made from a deep-sea microfiber!” George said. “And it has pockets!” Bess laughed and stuck her tongue out at George.
“Bess, Georgeâyou'll make sure Nancy eats properly while you're down there, right?” Hannah chimed in. “And that she puts on her sunscreen. Even when it's
cloudy. I saw on the television last week that you can still get sunburned on a cloudy day. My cousin once got sunburned so badly, she couldn't sit down for a week. And that's the truth.”
I laughed. Hannah's family seemed to be the most accident-prone people on the planet. She always has a story about some terrible injury someone got by doing just what you're about to doâand by ignoring her advice, of course. But what would I do without her to take care of me?
“Nancy, I want you let me know when you get down there safely,” Dad said. “And make sure to let Jack know that I'm sorry I couldn't make it. Tell him to come up and visit us in River Heights sometime.”
I promised that I would. We finished lunch, talking excitedly about our trip the entire time. Bess and George left to go home and finish packing. I hadn't even started yet. I needed to get on that, tonight. All I had ready was my purse, which always has in it everything I needed for doing a little detective workâflashlight, safety pins, evidence container, latex gloves. It pays to be prepared.
After lunch, Hannah went out food shopping. I washed the dishes in the kitchen while Dad dried them. I liked when we got to spend time together, just the two of us. It didn't happen often enough.
“Nancy?” Dad's voice was serious now.
“Yes?” I was pretty sure I knew what he was about to say.
“Promise me you'll be careful down there. No looking for trouble, no mysteries, no danger.”
“Okay, okay. I won't go looking for trouble, I promise. And I'll call you as soon as we get down to the hotel.”
Dad smiled at me and went back to doing the dishes. I was happy I could make him feel better. I knew he worried about me a lot. But this trip was pure vacation. I had no plans to go looking for trouble. I didn't need to.
Trouble always came looking for me.