Helen let out a scream as the guy closed the shutters. Nancy gunned the car and quickly parked in the driveway. She turned off her engine, pulled the key out, and was racing towards the front door. Helen had her key out and was unlocking it quickly.
"Izzy! Ida!" Nancy shouted. "He was in the sitting room!" Two pairs of feet came rushing down the stairs. The twins met up with Nancy and Helen at the doorway to the sitting room.
"What's this you said about him being in here?" asked Ida, a little breathless from their dash.
"He, he was!" exclaimed Helen. She pointed to the window. "He was just there!"
"What?" exclaimed the twins.
Nancy nodded. "He was there, glaring at us from the window."
"Yes, not more than five minues ago!" Helen glanced around the room. "I hate this, I hate this!"
Nancy put an arm around her friend's shoulder. "Helen, calm down. He just made the biggest mistake."
The three glanced at her. "He did?"
"Yes he did," said Nancy with a nod. She turned to the room and shouted into it. "You hear me? You just made the biggest mistake!"
"Nancy, I don't think that was a good idea," whispered Helen.
"You may be right," muttered Nancy, "but I'm done with all of this. I'm done with them trying to scare you and your grandmother out of this house that has been in your family for generations now, and I'm done with them threatening me and my father!" A tear fell down her cheek. She clenched and unclenched her fists a few times while taking a few deep breaths. She glanced around the room. "And now we know there's got to be a secret entrance in here. Just, where is it?"
"Maybe there's a similar one at Lilac Inn!" exclaimed Ida.
"But we need to find this one first," said Nancy firmly. "Everyone, take a side and go over every corner carefully."
"Nancy, this could put your father in more danger!" said Helen.
"Or it could save him. We've just got to try!"
"Any chance we have at saving him is better than no chance," remarked Izzy, placing a reassuring hand on Nancy's shoulder. The others agreed and the four went about searching the room as if with a fine-tooth comb. But nothing turned up or happened.
Nancy was feeling particularly frustrated and felt the need to leave the room. She wanted to scream, she wanted to throw things, she wanted to kick down the walls, but she knew that would make her worse than her adversaries. She opened the front door and walked out onto the porch.. She took in a few deep breaths of air. What was she missing? How was she going about this the wrong way? Something must be missing, otherwise, she would have found it by now. The Caldwells didn't want anyone else to find it except their heirs using the poems Jim Caldwell wrote. But, since she didn't have that book, she literally had no clue how to find it or even what to look for. She just had definite ideas of the rooms where the secret doors were hidden, just not which part of the room exactly to find them in. She clenched her fists. They had to get into Gomber's room at Lilac Inn somehow, some way. But she knew he wouldn't let her, not without kidnapping her to use her to get her father to do whatever he wanted. She took another deep breath and squeezed her eyes shut. There had to be another way. They had kept looking in both houses, Twin Elms three times now, and nothing showed up. What was she missing? If only she had the book of poems!
"Nancy dear, are you alright?" Nancy blinked. Emily and Rosemary were helping Flora to the front door.
"Why Aunt Flora, Aunt Rosemary! Should you even be here?"
Flora waved her hand. "I can finish healing here just fine, dear." Her eyebrows furrowed. "But you seem to be in distress. What happened?"
"Oh, Grandma!" Helen and the twins came out to welcome the three back and in hushed tones, everything was revealed and the plan explained.
"Wait, you really think the ghost will fall into one of the traps?" asked Emily.
"I'm hoping so," replied Nancy, "and I'm planning on having the police nearby to catch him."
"But how do you know this will work?" asked Rosemary, shooting a concerned glance at the house. "We can't know when he'll show up or where he is now, as he just proved to you."
Nancy sighed. "I know, I know, but I'm hoping to find at least one secret door at Lilac Inn and push him into trying to escape here."
"And hoping to catch Gomber and find your father all the same time?" asked Rosemary.
Nancy shot her a sheepish grin. "Kinda?" She sighed. "I'm just, I'm just done with all of this. I want my Dad to come home."
Rosemary pulled her into a hug. "He will darling, he will, and we'll do whatever we can to help you get him back. But I'm not quite sure this plan will work."
"I know," said Nancy as she wiped a few stray tears falling down her face, "but it's the only idea we've got and I'm desperate. I don't know what they're doing to him."
"Which is why I think we should bounce ideas off each other," said Flora.
"But how can we do that without the ghost listening in on us?" asked Emily.
"Well, we could go back to Nancy's house," said Izzy with a shrug. "It's where we went to plan this out."
"Yes, we could, but I don't want to leave your traps exposed," said Nancy. "And I don't know if we'll have much time."
"If Gomber hasn't threatened you with your father's life, I think it's safe to say nothing will be done to him just yet," siad Rosemary. "But Helen said it was confirmed that your father was kidnapped the other night and Gomber confronted you yesterday. Why didn't he mention it?" asked Rosemary.
"Oh!" said Helen. "That's because we've figured out a few more things since then! Come on, we should head to Nancy's house. We can relax a bit there and tell you everything, and not just about the traps."
Izzy tapped her chin. "Well, if you could give me and Ida a quick moment, we can have the trap set up in Aunt Flora's room real quick. At least we'll have one set up while we're gone."
Nancy nodded. "That might be the best thing to do. Would you like some help?"
"Just keep an eye out for that ghost if he should try to come back," said Ida with a wave of her hand. "We'll make it quick."
Izzy scoffed. "We'd better, that guy could come back any minute." The twins raced back into the house and up the stairs.
"We'll meet you at your house," said Rosemary before she and Emily helped Flora turn and walked back to the car.
"Sounds good!" said Nancy before dashing into the house.
"Alright, see you soon, Grandma!" said Helen with a wave before she followed Nancy in. They stayed near the sitting room, keeping an eye on that and the stairs, keeping an ear out should the twins call for them. But in a matter of minutes, the twins came back down the stairs.
"We're set!" said Ida with a cheeky grin.
"Let's go!" said Izzy before the two were out the front door. Nancy and Helen followed, Helen quickly locking up before joining Nancy in her car. The two cars took off, meeting back at Nancy's house in a matter of minutes. When they got in, they found that Hannah was already fussing over Flora and making her feel quite comfortable. Meanwhile, Rosemary looked like she was finally relaxing ever since this whole thing started. Hannah greeted the girls upon noticing that they had arrived and asked them if they wanted to eat something.
"And I'm so glad you're here, Nancy, Chief McGinnis is going to be here in a few minutes."
Nancy gasped and smacked her forehead. "Oh, that's right! I completely forgot he was supposed to be coming over today!"
"Well then, guess it's a good thing we came over," said Rosemary. She took a sip of the tea Hannah served them. "But this should give us enough time to come up with a few plans."
Izzy raised her hand. "Um, would it be bad if I suggested we use Nancy as bait?"
The others blinked. "Why would you want to use Nancy as bait?" asked Rosemary.
Ida's eyes widened. "Oh! If they're trying to capture her, then she is perfect for bait!" She grinned at her twin. "That's brilliant!"
"No." Everyone jumped at the stern voice and turned as one. Chief McGinnis glanced at them from the doorway of the living room, Hannah standing behind him. "If you're planning any sort of traps, you had better let me and my men handle it."
"But Chief McGinnis!" began Nancy.
McGinnis laid a firm hand on her shoulder. "I promised your father I would keep you safe. I would not be keeping that promise if I let you put yourself in harm's way to save him. Besides, it would do more harm than good."
Nancy stood up. "Only if they capture me, which won't happen because we will have traps set up."
"And if they do capture you? What then?"
"But they won't."
"Nancy, there's still a chance they will. You need to think about that. We can't let Gomber have any chances of winning."
"He won't, that's why we're planning this."
He grabbed her shoulders. "Nancy, stop and think about this."
"I have," she replied in a low voice.
"No, you have to look at this from all angles, not just one. Your father's life is at risk, you can't just take risks just because you want this over with. You have to think about this." He sighed. "And until you do, I'm taking you off the case."
Nancy gasped. "You can't do that! This is my case!"
"Have you ever heard of the term 'emotionally-compromised'? Because you're it, right now. This case has gotten too personal for you, it's hit too close to home. I think it's time we took over." He pointed to her father's office. "Besides, you haven't exactly followed up on the railroad part of it, have you?"
"No," Nancy mumbled as she crossed her arms.
"You see? You aren't trying to figure out what it is that Gomber wants exactly, you're just so focused on trying to find the way into the secret tunnels that you're not paying attention to anything else. The best way to capture your crook is to know him."
"How can she do that?" asked Helen. "He's a crook!"
"Does he like to plan things out?" asked McGinnis. "Does he act like he's still in control when he's cornered or does he turn into a vicious animal?" He glanced at Nancy. "What exactly is his motive? Capturing Nancy might simply be a way of helping him to achieve his goal. And while yes, most criminals are attempting to keep their motives and work a secret, it's not something they can keep secret for long. They will be found out." McGinnis pointed at Carson's office again. "So, shall we find out exactly what the deal is with the railroad?"
Nancy sighed. "Fine, as long as I can go to Lilac Inn later."
"There was one room I wanted to check, the sitting room. We definitely wouldn't be able to look into Gomber's room without a warrant."
McGinnis smiled. "Maybe you're not so emotionally-compromised, but I still want you to take tonight off as well. After you've checked out the sitting room at Lilac Inn, of course."
"Will we be able to go back to our house for tonight?" asked Flora.
"With my men there, I don't see why not," said McGinnis with a shrug. "But allow us to look through those files, and we will discuss particulars afterwards."
Flora nodded. "Sounds good."
McGinnis and Nancy walked into Carson's office and the two looked through Carson's notes and files on the railroad case. Even though Nancy had looked through her father's files on numerous occasions without him present, this time was different, and odd. But with McGinnis there with her, poring through all the papers alongside her, helped a bit. They returned to the group and reported their findings.
Apparently the railroad company was positive the railroad would boom in River Heights and was willing to pay loads of money to get the land they needed to begin work on it. As a matter of fact, several plots of land that had been owned privately had brought in a lot of money to their previous owners and they were sitting quite pretty. Twin Elms and Lilac Inn had been on the list of properties the railroad company was looking at purchasing, but had been crossed off. Flora, Rosemary, and Emily confirmed that the company had approached them about purchasing the properties, but didn't press further when their offers were declined. Carson's last note was that he needed to look for two more properties for the railroad to connect to the rest of the tracks. And now McGinnis was satisfied that they had Gomber's motivation. He wanted the money from the sale, and Twin Elms and Lilac Inn were two he knew the company had been eyeing specifically.
"So he stoops to trying to scare Grandma and Aunt Flora out of their house so he could get it dirt cheap and get more profit?" asked Helen.
McGinnis nodded. "It definitely looks that way."
"And it would ruin a perfectly good piece of the history of River Heights," said Flora with a shake of her head.
"I think we should get Twin Elms and Lilac Inn registered as historic landmarks so this sort of thing can't happen again," said Rosemary firmly.
"Why isn't it?" asked Hannah.
Flora chuckled. "Because we're a couple of stubborn old ladies and we didn't want to at first. But now, this might be a way to save Twin Elms for future generations." She patted Helen's hand. "Even though right now Helen's to inherit it once we're gone."
"Well I'd better get going and make my report before handing out instructions to men," said McGinnis as he got ready to leave.
"Oh, won't you stay for dinner?" asked Hannah.
McGinnis thought for a moment. "Sure, why not. It will be easier to think on a full stomach." With everyone's help, Hannah prepared a nice meal. With the comfort of the food and the company, they talked of many things, leaving out the haunting and Carson's disappearance. McGinnis asked them to wait until nine before heading over to Twin Elms, and as soon as dinner was over, he had left. Nancy and Helen left not soon afterwards to head to Lilac Inn. Helen had been tasked to make sure Nancy didn't do anything rash.
When they got to Lilac Inn, they had to wait a little while for the guests to finish clearing out of the main floor. It was almost eight when they finally had a chance to get into the sitting room. Jane and the Turnballs were in the kitchen, cleaning things up, but had promised to come running if Nancy and Helen needed anything.
Nancy and Helen got to work straight away, looking at and touching everything they could. But nothing opened. Nancy sank into a chair, dejected.
Helen placed a hand on Nancy's shoulder. "Hey, we'll figure this out, we'll catch them and get your dad back. I do think you need a break, like Chief McGinnis said."
"But I was so sure there was one here," whispered Nancy, fighting back the tears. "I just want a break in this mystery, just for once for something to give and we can solve it!"
"Maybe something will once you've had a good night's rest. Come on, there's nothing more we can do now."
Nancy sniffled, but she nodded and rose from her chair. She paused at the doorway and took one final look around. Helen turned off the light and was already walking towards the kitchen, but Nancy had paused. Noticing that Nancy hadn't followed her, Helen rejoined her friend.
"Nancy? What is it?"
Nancy pointed. "That, that beam of moonlight." A sliver of moonlight was coming through a tiny hole in the wall and was touching a spot on the wall just above the sofa.
"What about it? That's always been there. There's even one similar to it at Twin Elms." Helen shrugged. "Hits the same place on the wall too."
"Oh how could I have been so stupid," whispered Nancy as she walked towards the sofa. She touched the wall where the moonlight was hitting it. A tiny gold heart was embedded in the wood. "No way. How did I miss this?"
"Nancy? What are you talking about?"
Nancy pressed the heart with her fingernail. Helen covered her mouth as her eyes widened and a soft gasp left her lips. The seat of the sofa had sprung up noiselessly and the two were staring at stairs descending into an earthy hall.
(Author's Note: AAAHH! She found it! Yeah, I wanted this to be different from the books, also obviously because I'm bringing in elements from the games. But I had also wanted it to be a specific thing. I mean, the clues are in a book of poems written by Jim Caldwell, romantic poetry mostly. So let the moonlight lead the way. That being said . . . AAAHHHAAAHH! We're almost done with this book! I'm kinda dragging my feet because I don't want it to end, but I also want to keep going because there's this scene I really want to get to. Ugh, it's one of those things. And like with the Hardys, I'm going to take a break from this series. I only had the first three books planned and I want to plan out the next three books before writing the third book so I can drop hints to the next mystery if it fits. It totally did in this book! XD That being said, I hope you check out Secret of the Sprite Society and Mystery of the Monoplane's Mission as it's kinda following the same thing, but with characters going to college and dealing with supernatural creatures. Yes CW Nancy Drew, I'm going to rub it in your face. I hate to do it because I saw potential but was sorely let down and am angry enough to be determined to write something I would want to watch/read that doesn't treat me like I don't know these characters I grew up with as well as I thought just because the show-runners just did a skim. Anyways, yes, please check out those upcoming mysteries when they come out. I know I get more reads on my Nancy Drew and Hardy boys books, but I hope you'll check out my other books and I hope you'll find something you like! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day! God bless!)