Author's Note:

Well, this is it! Finally got out the end of this story. I hope that you all enjoyed it and that you continue on with the next story, once I get it going. With kids, job, home life, etc, who knows when I'll be able to get the next one out! Anyway, thanks to max2013 for the review and to all the newest followers who joined our journey. Happy new year, everyone and please, don't forget to write a review and tell me what you think of it! Until next time!


A half hour after being released from jail, Ned sat on the private jet, mindlessly thumbing his way through a magazine. He didn't fully understand why they left in such a hurry. What he really wanted to do was to find Nancy and talk some sense into her. Her rejection of him wasn't sitting well with Ned and he wanted nothing more than to explain. He still loved her even though it was mostly in a more familial way. Their romantic relationship ended long before he actually proposed to her and he pursued other women in the process behind her back just to get the intimacy he craved. Nancy just never realized that he had no real intention of being with her in that way. Ned was more angry at her rejection than anything else. They were together for so long that people were expecting them to get married even though it was obvious there was no real love between them. Well, obvious to him at least. Besides, Ned's boss wanted the couple to be together for purposes that Ned still had trouble grasping. Weeks before, he had to make sure that he got Nancy to sign some paperwork, lying to her about what they were about. Ned was really lucky that she didn't get her father involved, that she took his word about what the papers were about.

Sighing out of boredom and anger, Ned threw the magazine down and looked over at his companions who were flying with him. One was his lawyer, a weasel-like man, short in stature but sleazy in nature. The man sweet-talked the judge into dropping all charges against Ned, making the sheriff look like an idiot. But then again she deserved it according to him. The lawyer was currently lounging in his seat, the back down all the way. His snores echoed through the cabin, annoying the other passenger whom Ned was now eyeing with desire. The woman sitting across from him was his boss' personal assistant who knew just about everything that was going on. She sniffed, a look of sheer disgust as she rolled her eyes. Her attention was set on the papers before her, obviously ignoring Ned who was sitting directly across from her. Ned smirked as he looked her up and down, stopping at all the right places. Her long legs were crossed in front of her, her foot bouncing just slightly to the turbulence of the plane. Ned thought of Nancy in this moment and compared her to the other woman. Nancy was a beautiful woman in her own right but this one was sexy beautiful.

"Quit undressing me with your eyes, Mr. Nickerson," the woman replied from behind her papers. "I have no interest in you other than being forced to be here by Mr. Preston."

"I'm just admiring the view," Ned continued to smirk. "Am I not allowed to look?"

"You can look all you want," her brown eyes looked up at him for a brief moment. Ned could tell she was annoyed. "But if you even put a finger on me, I'll break it."

"Okay, okay," Ned held his hands up in protest and leaned back in his seat. "I'll stop. Why did we leave so quickly, anyway?"

The woman sighed and put down her papers on the table next to her. She looked at Ned with her intense brown eyes, her lips pursed. "I have already explained this to you, Mr. Nickerson."

"Please, call me Ned," he smiled his best smile. "We've known each other for a long time."

"Mr. Nickerson," she reiterated, "I have no intention of giving into any advances by the likes of you so you need to stop your childish game of attempted flirtation. As for us leaving quickly, the judge did not know about the warrant for your arrest in Chicago. Mr. Preston was not happy when he found out you were using your mother's charge account in order to pay for your duty with Ms. Shaw, especially since he gave you an extensive credit limit for the job."

"I told you, that was to make sure that Nancy didn't find out about my time with Callie," Ned huffed. He folded his arms in defeat as he continued. "You know how she is. If she were to be suspicious about me, she would not have thought to look up my mother's name instead of my own."

"And she still found out because you got careless!" the woman shook her head. "Plus you didn't do what you were supposed to do while in New York three weeks ago."

"Who says I didn't?"

"We assumed that since you did not report directly to us when we told you where Ms. Drew was, you did not get what was needed."

"Oh, I did," Ned smiled broadly. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a flash drive, tossing it to the woman. "After our little 'break-up,' I came back to the hotel room and got a few things while she was in the bath tub. She never heard me slip in or out or the fact that I turned on her computer that she brought with her. I got all the information Mr. Preston wanted but what I don't understand is why you didn't tell me she was Frank Hardy's girlfriend."

"That was the real reason why we wanted you to infiltrate Ms. Shaw," the woman explained. "We are playing a game of chess and she was just a pawn to smoke out the right players."

"What about the information? Did I risk that for nothing?"

"Oh, no. There was definitely something we needed from her but we needed her to get to the Hardys."

"Is there something I should know?" Ned looked confused.

"All in good time, Mr. Nickerson. As for the warrant in Chicago, it is being taken care of as we speak, along with any loose ends."

"And what of my mother?"

"She's a loose end."

"Good. The old sow needs to go anyway. What kind of mother turns in their own kid? To my fiancee's father, no less."

"The same kind of woman who raised an inconsiderate prick who uses women like toilet paper."

"Excuse me?"

"You heard me," the woman glared at him. "The only reason why I'm here is because Mr. Preston requested me to come. He wanted me to get information out of you and let you know of the situation in Chicago. Otherwise, I wouldn't have touched you or come near you with a 10-foot pole. Now, back to business, since we have Nancy's signature on file, we won't be needing her right away. Mr. Preston asked me to tell you to lay off of her a while. There will be another time and place for you to approach her in the near future. Are we clear?"

"Crystal," Ned muttered, rolling his eyes. He was still angry with the fact that Nancy humiliated him yet again, only this time it was in front of the two people he hated more than his own mother. He wanted nothing more than to pound Frank Hardy into the ground but when Carson Drew arrived, he knew he had to leave. One of these days….

"Are you even listening to me?" the woman's voice was shrilled. Ned never even knew he was starting at her chest until she slapped him across the face then lifted the file folder in front of her. "Pig," she muttered under her breath, tucking a strand of brown hair behind her ear.

Ned glared at her as he rubbed his burning cheek. He wanted to do the worst things to this woman who wanted nothing to do with him, even though he'd known her for as long as he knew Nancy. Nobody rejected him before, including Nancy and now he was rejected by two women in a matter of hours. Ned knew though that Mr. Preston would be furious if he did something to his assistant. He sighed and turned his gaze to the window next to him. The clouds puffed by and his thoughts drifted as the shrew in front of him became quiet. He shook his head to get the cobwebs out when she addressed him once more.

"Mr. Nickerson, I'm curious about your relationship with Ms. Drew. I understand that Mr. Preston has plans for her. You seem to sleep with anything that has nice legs and no brain yet you still profess your love to her. Why do you stoop so low to Nancy Drew?"

"I'm not lowering myself to her," Ned replied, angrily. "I was told to stay with her no matter what and I intend to do just that, until now, that is. You know that. Besides, I've been with her forever and we should be together because of our past. The only problem is that she kept getting doe-eyed on a certain person every chance she got even though she never did anything to indulge it, as far as I know. She owes me. The other girls were just for sport that Nancy never knew about and I intend to keep it that way."

"Hence the reason why I detest men like you," she answered, disdained. She sighed. "At least the man she has 'doe-eyes' for is more of a man than you. As I said before, Mr. Preston insists that you stay away from her until the moment is right. We will discuss her and the Hardy brothers at another time."

"What do those two idiots have to do with anything?"

"You will see, Mr. Nickerson, but not right now." The woman yawned and stretched, placing the file folder back into her briefcase and locking it. She grabbed a hold of a blanket and pillow and lowered her seat back to get comfortable. Although the flight was to be short, the woman seemed to quickly fell asleep, leaving Ned to ponder what she meant about the Hardys. What did they have to do with Mr. Preston, his boss? He knew of her own past with Nancy but not so much with the Hardys. He eyed the briefcase and licked his lips. He shifted slightly, inching his way toward the briefcase until a voice stopped him.

"Don't even think about it."

Ned's hand was in mid-air as he looked up to see the woman glaring at him, her hardcore stare stopping him short of his goal. He nodded and settled back into his chair as the woman snuggled into the blanket once more, her hand draped over the arm, hanging inches from the briefcase.

Ned stared out the window, a flock of geese flapped by but he looked past them as if they were not there. He thought about everything that had gone on the past few days, wishing that the outcome was different. Nancy was going to pay for what she did and so will the Hardys. He grimaced at the mere thought of the three of them together, especially Nancy and Frank. Ned knew they were together now, probably laughing at how Ned reacted to the breakup. She had it all planned from the time she called the brothers to her. Ned knew she wanted Frank even if she never said it. Just one more humiliation for Ned to live with. At that moment, he didn't care about what Mr. Preston wanted of Nancy or even the Hardys. He was going to make sure they all suffered before adding the final blow of what Preston had in store for them in the end.

He looked over at the woman sleeping across from him. He knew her from before Mr. Preston. She was a staple in the River Heights community though she eventually left because she felt the same way Ned did: she needed to get out of the small town and make something of herself. Her father's business wasn't doing that and she left to find her real purpose. If only her parents knew what she was really doing. Her jealousy of Nancy and her friends became very noticeable once again after she reluctantly approached Ned with the proposition from Mr. Preston. Their boss obviously sent her because of her previous relationship with him but she was still reluctant to address him other than Mr. Nickerson.

Ned hated his life sometimes. He wanted something more than just being with Nancy and living in a small town near her goodie-good father, just like the woman across from him. Her parents were the same as Carson. She knew Nancy for a long time and hated being in her shadow every time something big came along in River Heights. With her new job, she was able to not only get a better lifestyle but she changed her whole appearance. No one would ever know who she was even though she still went by her real name: Brenda Carlton.