Nancy and Helen waited with bated breath as Jane laughed.
"Why, Mr. Gomber, what are you so concerned about? There are always people at the Inn, someone must have just heard some good news." She tsked. "My goodness, how many times do I have to keep reminding you that?" Nancy and Helen glanced at each other. She had reminded him of that before? This guy really was on edge. At least on edge around Lilac Inn. Elsewhere, he seemed to be able to hide it well. Nancy wondered why that was. Was Gomber anxious because she and her father were making things harder for him to achieve his goals? What were those goals, in fact? A guy wanting both Lilac Inn and Twin Elms at low prices certainly suggested some nefarious plan, but Nancy had no clue as to what that was, though the Hardys seemed sure that the railroad had something to do with it. She agreed, they had a point, but what exactly did Gomber plan to do with the two properties? She sucked in a soft breath. If she hadn't found Josiah's will and not only saved Lilac Inn from financial ruin but also from Marion Aborn and her family, Gomber might have well been the new owner of it by now. She pressed her lips into a thin line. She has practically been a thorn in his side for a while now, without even knowing about it.
"Oh, fine," grumbled Gomber. "Has anyone been in my room?"
"No, no one's been in your room," replied Jane. Nancy closed her eyes and let out a very soft breath of relief. She was glad now that she didn't go in. Sure, she would have found the entry to the secret tunnels and probably some clues to her father's whereabouts as well as to Gomber's real plans for the two lots, but right now would have caused Gomber to get rid of all of those clues as well as try something drastic to get away. And if he had found them in the room? Things could have gone downhill real fast, she and Helen might have been captured too, and that would make things really hard to save her father. No, it would be best to wait for Ida and Izzy to come back with their traps and get set up. But Gomber basically confirmed it for Nancy that the most findable entrance to the secret tunnels was in his room.
"Good," he mumbled.
"Was there anything else you needed?"
"No," he mumbled. Nancy and Helen heard him stomping up the stairs.
"Alright, well, goodbye! See you at supper!" Jane called after him.
"That woman deserves an award for being so nice to such characters like Gomber," whispered Helen.
"Keep it down," whispered Nancy. "But I do agree with you." The girls waited a few minutes before Jane opened the door.
"Alright, he's gone now."
"Thank you," said Nancy as the two walked out.
"But he'll be back down for dinner, so you should get out of here soon."
"And we do need to get home and get something to eat," said Helen. She glanced at Nancy, and Nancy understood she had left out a part. They also had to find out what the ghost had been up to and figure out some way to fortify their room while they slept. It was going to be the two of them without anyone else. Nancy pursed her lips. Unless she got Chief McGinnis to send an officer again. That might have to be the way to go.
She merely nodded. "Yes, we should. But first." She turned to Jane. "You still have my number?"
Jane smiled. "Of course!"
"Great! If you, Edna, and Mary could watch Nathan Gomber and see if he has a schedule he keeps to, maybe we could find an opening for us to look at his room, even a quick one, that would be great. Just send me a text with the times when he's usually out for the longest."
Jane nodded. "That we can do. Mary and Edna might be able to help you more with that, but I'll see what we observe and keep you posted."
Nancy smiled. "Thanks. Talk to you later!"
"Thank you! And send Emily my love when you see her!"
"We will! Bye!" chorused Nancy and Helen. They waved and quickly walked out of the Inn.
Helen let out a breath as soon as the car doors were closed. "Um, Nancy?"
"Do you think Chief McGinnia would be able to send an officer over to watch the house?"
Nancy smiled as she pulled out her phone. "I was just thinking the same thing."
Helen sighed with relief. "Oh thank goodness, great minds do think alike."
"Speaking of great minds, how about you contact the rest of the gang and see if any of them can come with us. If I know how Chief McGinnis thinks, he's going to want us out of the house."
"On it," said Helen, pulling out her own phone.
"Thank you," said Nancy before dialing Chief McGinnis's office. The phone rang a few times before McGinnis picked up.
"Nancy! Where are you? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Chief," said Nancy slowly, wondering what the heck was going on. "I'm sitting outside Lilac Inn in my car with Helen Corning. Can I ask you to send another man to the house, please?"
"Where is everyone else?" Nancy explained the situation, including her suspicions of Nathan Gomber in Carson's kidnapping, and that it would be just her and Helen spending the night. "Nancy, I want you to go home."
"Please go home. I promised your father that I would make sure you are safe. And since he has been kidnapped by whom you consider your prime suspect in your own case, it would be wise for you to spend the night away from Twin Elms where it's already been established that there are tunnels between that and Lilac Inn. I will still send an officer over there, but I want you and Helen out of the house. At least for tonight, please, Nancy, just tonight. Your friends will definitely be back tomorrow?"
Nancy sighed. "Yes, they will."
"Alright, wil that work for you, then? Just tonight, Nancy, that's all I'm asking, just for tonight."
Nancy placed her hand over the mouth piece and turned to Helen. "Any body?" she whispered.
Helen pursed her lips and shook her head. "No one can come tonight."
Nancy sighed. "Alright." She took her hand off the moutpiece. "Fine, just for tonight."
She could hear the immense relief in McGinnis's sigh. "Thank you Nancy. If you'd like, I can come over and give you what we've found on your father's disappearance."
Nancy bit her lip. "Oh, alright Chief."
"Alright, I'll be at your place at eight. That should give you enough time to get your things together and get to your house."
"Alright, we'll see you at eight."
"Thank you Nancy. See you at eight." He hung up the phone.
Nancy sighed as she too hung up the phone. "We're going to get our things and go to my house, just for tonight. But the Chief will send an officer to watch the house all night long."
Helen patted her shoulder. "Chief McGinis is just looking out for your well-being. He did promise your dad to look after you. And I think a little break from the house is a good thing, for the both of us."
Nancy sighed as she started the car. "I hope so." The two got to Twin Elms and quickly went about packing their things. They straightened everything up and put Ida's, Izzy's and Emily's clothes in the closets. Nancy and Helen also went around taking pictures of everything. If anything was out of place in their absense, they would know. The officer showed up right as they were walking out the door with their bags.
"Oh, Officer Patrick!" said Nancy.
Tom Patrick tipped his hat. "Hello Miss Drew, I am a bit early, but I was thinking that I would get the key to the house from you so I can make the rounds in the house."
"Oh, that is a good idea." Nancy turned to Helen. "Do you have an extra key?"
Helen shook her head. "No, I don't." She pulled out the key she had. "But I will give you this. If you could return this to me tomorrow morning?"
Tom took it with a grin. "Get here early enough tomorrow morning and I will hand it back personally."
"Aww, you're sweet," said Helen. "But you're a little too old for us."
Tom laughed. "Duly noted." He turned to Nancy. "And the Chief gave me your number, Miss Drew, I will text you with reports."
"Thank you Officer Patrick," said Nancy. "And when you do make your rounds inside, could you look for any possible openings? Maybe a fresh pair of eyes is what we really need."
"I can do that for you. You two get a good night's rest tonight. I will see you in the morning."
"Thank you!" the girls chorused.
He tipped his hat. "You're welcome." The girls got into Nancy's car and they went to Nancy's house.
Hannah and Togo were practically at the door, waiting for them when they arrived. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here!" exclaimed Hannah as she pulled Nancy into a big hug. Togo raced around and between their feet, excited to see his mistress. "Chief McGinnis told me he was coming by later this evening, after you had gotten here, with some information regarding your father's disappearance."
Nancy nodded. "Yes, that's what he told me too."
"Well then, let's get your things in your room. I fixed a little something for you to eat."
"Oh Hannah, you're the best," said Nancy, giving her a big hug. With Hannah's help, the two quickly moved their bags into Nancy's room. They came back down stairs and the two saw that Hannah had basically cooked up a feast. The three ate in silence for the most part, and Nancy kept glancing at her father's chair.
After helping Hannah clean up the kitchen, the three went into the living room to wait for Chief McGinnis's arrival. All of them grabbed a book to read, but as before, Nancy kept looking to her father's chair, and then the door.
Hannah scooted closer to Nancy. "Nancy?"
"I keep, I keep thinking that he's going to come through that door any minute now and say he found something big on Gomber but . . . but . . ."
"Oh Nancy." Hannah pulled her close as the tears fell from Nancy's eyes. Helen scooted closer as well and rubbed her back. Togo whimpered, trying to figure out what was making her so sad, wanting her to cheer up. All four went silent as the doorbell chimed. Hannah gently pushed Nancy closer to Helen so she could get up and get the door. Chief McGinnis walked in.
"Hello everyone." He shot Nancy a sad smile. "You were hoping it was your dad, huh?"
A few more tears trickled down her face as Nancy nodded. "Yeah."
"I'm sorry Nancy, but it is true, your dad has gone missing." He sighed as he proceeded to sit down in one of the chairs. "We talked with the railroad company he was representing, and their stories collaborate, he was supposed to call them last night and only called this afternoon because they had thought he had gotten in late or something." He let out a breath. "And, we did find your dad's car."
Nancy sat up straight, her eyes wide. "Where?"
"It's still sitting in the hotel parking lot. So are his clothes."
Nancy's eyes widened even more. "Wh-what?"
"The police there have talked with the hotel staff and have looked into the surveillance cameras. They didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Well, except for his final moment on the camera. He went back in, and didn't come out."
Nancy paled. "What, what does that mean?"
"Someone could have knocked him out in his own room. There weren't any signs of a scuffle, there is no body, and there's definitely no blood. He was on the bottom floor, so I can see how that made that easier for the kidnappers. If Gomber is indeed behind this, it's obvious he wants your father alive." He leaned closer to Nancy. "Now, you're positive Gomber didn't mention holding your father hostage when he spoke to you this morning?"
Nancy shook her head. "Nothing of that sort, just told me we would regret crossing his path and that we might get hurt. Nothing about him holding Dad."
McGinnis tapped his chin and glanced at the clock. "It's getting late, but I think your friends might be on to something with the railroad aspect. I'd like to stop by tomorrow and get all the information I can from your father's case files."
Nancy nodded. "Of course!"
"Good then," said McGinnis. He stood up. "Well then, I will see you in the morning. Maybe we might have more information by tomorrow. No guarantees though. Please get some rest Nancy, I think you're going to need every ounce of energy you've got to crack this case."
Nancy stood up as well, determination set in her eyes. "I will."
McGinnis smiled. "Good. Well, good night. I'll see you in the morning."
"Good night Chief!" they chorused. Hannah saw him to the door.
Helen turned to Nancy. "He didn't even leave his hotel room? How is that possible?"
"I-I guess the cameras aren't facing the windows and the kidnappers got in and got him out that way. But I fear the longer we wait, the worse things are going to get for Dad. As soon as Ida and Izzy get back, we ned to get those traps set up." Nancy pulled out her phone. "As a matter of fact, it probably would be best to do the rest of our planning here. We'll go by Twin Elms in the morning to get the key and check on the house. But then we head back here and get to work planning." She sent a text to Ida and Izzy. "We have got to have a breakthrough soon, we just have to! Otherwise, we will tear that house apart. My Dad's life could depend on it!" Nancy clenched her teeth as her hand curled tight around her phone. "And Nathan Gomber is going to wish he had never messed with us, much less met us!"
(Author's Note: Yup, that fiery spirit and temper is rising up now, Gomber better be beware! He hasn't had to deal with Nancy's mom, so he's got no clue what he's in for. But the finding of the secret tunnel will be happening soon . . . once we've done some moving in of our own, lol. We're supposed to be getting at least water and gas tomorrow, not sure yet when we're getting electricity and internet, but hopefully it's by the end of the week. I'm still taking next week off because I need it. That, and it's getting time to start looking for a new job. I'm going to hold out until August, but I do need to start looking. My mom has already told me there's a few openings at the hospital she works at and my aunt, who I saw on Sunday at a family reunion, is already telling me beggars can't be choosers because I was hesitant about applying for any of them, mainly because I like working at schools and we're not sure they'll open up again this year. So, yeah, there's a lot to think about. But hopefully when I come back in two weeks, I'll have some really good news. If you want to read something else while you wait, I do have several other stories you can check out! ALso, please check out the stories of Elizabeth Joan-hbndgirl and Drumboy101! They're awesome! Until then, be safe out there and have a wonderful week! God bless!)