"Woohoo! Way to go Nancy Drew!" Joe's voice cheered over the speaker.
Frank chuckled. "I told you you would find him, and the tunnels."
"And you did it all without Jim Caldwell's poems. You rock!"
"Speaking of, did you find the book?"
"Oh yes," said Nancy with a nod, "we went back in yesterday and got everything they stole from one of the side tunnels. We were able to find the mechanisms that opened the doors in the attics and the sofa seat at Twin Elms. The people who own both places know where everything is now."
"Aw sweet! You know, they could turn that into quite the Halloween attraction!"
Nancy gasped. "Joseph Fenton Hardy, that is a brilliant idea!"
"Yeah!" Joe paused. "Wait, why did you use my full name?"
"Sorry, it just rolled off the tongue naturally."
"Uh-huh," said Joe.
"You know, she can tell Bess now," quipped Frank.
"No!" Joe paused. "On second thought, go ahead, as long as you tell me her middle name."
"Only with her permission," said Nancy with a snicker.
"Then don't tell her without my permission!"
Nancy laughed. "I'll try not to."
"I don't like the sound of that," mumbled Joe.
Frank chuckled. "Well, I'm glad to hear everyone has a happy ending."
"Same with you! I'm so glad that Ken is with his real uncle and not that criminal. And it sounds like you're absolutely spoiling the poor boy."
"No we're not," said Joe, "we're just showing him around Bayport, that's all. It keeps us busy too until we get another mystery."
"You haven't found one yet?"
"No, but now it seems like we're even, two for two."
"And I bet we'll get started on our next mystery first," quipped Joe.
Nancy laughed. "It's possible, but you never know, I could start on my next one before you two."
Joe scoffed. "Yeah right."
"Yeah, well, Dad's going to have a new one here soon. Some guy's coming tomorrow, I think it was. And that's all he's told us so far. He might let us help him on this one, but by the sounds of it, I think he wanted to tackle this himself. We'll see."
"In the meantime, I'm hoping we'll get a good one of our own," said Joe. "Ooh, maybe we'll even find our own set of underground tunnels!"
"Don't count on it, Joe," said Frank.
"What? I can still wish, can't I?"
"Nancy! It's almost time!"
"Oh, my dad's calling me. I gotta go. But it was great to catch up! And I really do appreciate all the support."
"You're welcome," said Frank.
"Hey, that's what friends are for," said Joe. "But we'd better let you go. Have a great weekend!"
"Thanks! You too!"
"Bye!" they chorused before hanging up the phone. Nancy smoothed out her blue and yellow party dress before turning to the mirror and double checking to make sure she looked alright. She grabbed her purse and rushed downstairs where her father and Hannah were waiting.
"Ready?" asked Carson.
Nancy smiled. "Yup."
He held out his arm. "Then let's be off." Giving his other arm to Hannah, the three waved goodbye to Togo and left the house. Carson got behind the wheel of the car, and they drove to Lilac Inn.
"All hail the conquering hero!" sang Helen as soon as they walked into the dining room. The other guests in the room sent up a lively cheer. Nancy blushed and waved away the praise.
"Oh, please, I had loads of help! And it was Emily and the twins who figured out the mechanism to Aunt Flora's room!" A cheer went up for the Topham twins and Emily as well.
A gentleman rose from a table, a representative for the railroad company. "And three cheers for Carson Drew for finding the last of the properties needed to build River Heights's first train station!"
"Hip hip hooray!" came the chant. Once the applause died down, the Drews and Hannah joined their friends. The stories of how everything went down, especially of how Will Wharton was caught, went around several times to the amusement of everyone. McGinnis came in with new information that the two crooks finally revealed in the past couple of days.
Nathan Gomber overheard about the railroad buying property from one of it's workers at a bar in Chicago. Thinking he could make some easy money, he looked into the property values of River Heights and which places would be the ideal locations for the railroad. When he did his research on Lilac Inn and Twin Elms, he found out about the secret tunnels, also that no one had found them, making some think they were nonexistent. That's when he also found out about the problems Lilac Inn was having and figured now was his chance to at least get one of the properties. He checked in about a week before Emily hired Nancy to find Josiah's will, and was about to purchase the inn had Nancy not found the will in time. Then he turned his sights on to Twin Elms. He had found the secret tunnel by then, quite by accident too, as he had pushed his clothes all the way back into the closet and found the knot of wood. That's when he realized he could go between the houses and try to scare the sisters into selling to him. That's where Will Wharton came in, after he and Gomber made a deal to split the money. Wharton's property was close to Twin Elms and Lilac Inn, meaning his own property would be purchased as well. And Wharton did admit to harming Flora so Nancy could stop looking for the secret passages in Lilac Inn. He could hear the majority of their conversations when he was standing behind the secret doors. Also, that one time that he had been outside and disappeared, he had used the closest elm tree and the attic entrance to get in and out quickly.
With that information out of the way, Nancy brought up Joe's suggestion of using the tunnels as a Halloween feature for Lilac Inn.
Emily clapped her hands. "That would be perfect!"
Ida and Izzy raised their hands. "We want to be in charge of that!"
"With the way your trap went in capturing Wharton, this should be fun!" said Officer Patrick with a huge grin.
The twins grinned before turning to Jane and Emily and saying in unison, "May we?"
Jane glanced at Richard. "Well, we'll think about it. It's only June right now, we've got time to plan for this."
"But it does sound like fun," said Richard with a grin.
A loud ringing interrupted the conversation.
Jane quickly stood up. "Oh, that must be our new guests! Excuse me for a second."
"I'll go with her to see if they need any help with their luggage," said Emily as she too left the table. While they were taking care of the guests, the Turner sisters got some music going for dancing. Nancy saw Don making a beeline for her, but Richard got to her first and asked her for a dance. She agreed and they danced around the room.
"I wanted to thank you for all your help on this case," said Nancy as they twirled around the dance floor.
"I'm happy to have been there when you needed me," said Richard with a smile. "And happy this is all over. I hope you don't mind if I asked a favor of you."
Nancy blinked, though she was becoming excited. "Uh, sure. What is it?"
Richard chuckled. "What else? A mystery. I will have to double check with my mom and see if it's OK if you take this case. It's very personal and must be kept secret. If Mom agrees, you'll soon learn why it must be kept a secret."
Nancy grinned. "If your mom says yes, I'd be happy to solve it for you."
"Thanks Nancy. It would really put my mind at ease."
"Always happy to help." Nancy's focus on the dance kept her from squealing and jumping up and down in excitement. Another mystery, and so soon! She was going to be ahead of the Hardys for the first time! She couldn't wait to get started. Provided, of course, that Nadia Matthews said yes. Nancy hoped she would.
Don then stepped in and got Nancy for the next dance.
"What were you talking about?" he asked.
"Business, apparently he has a mystery he would like for me to solve." She beamed. "And I can't wait!"
Don chuckled. "Glad to hear it." There was a moment's pause. "You're still sure about us, you know, not working out?"
"Are you sure about us working out?" she asked.
"No, not really. I think I'm beginning to understand why you didn't want to go out with me." He chuckled. "I always thought that I wasn't good enough, or, maybe even not handsome enough to catch some girl's eye."
"I'm sorry, I never meant for you to take it like that."
"I know that now, and I'm so sorry for taking so long for realizing it. I now know the real reason why you didn't want to go out with me, it's because we have different goals, goals that wouldn't work well together. I don't know if I can handle dealing with mysteries on a constant basis, while you will actively look them out if you go too long without it."
Nancy chuckled. "That is very true. And, to be honest, I really should have up and told you this all as well, but I guess I didn't quite know how to explain it at the time. Now I do, and you couldn't have said it better."
Don shrugged. "Oh well, guess we'll just have to learn from our mistakes. But, um, may I ask that we continue to prefer each other over the others? Just until we get through prom at least."
The music ended and they stopped dancing. "I'll think about it," replied Nancy before heading back to her table.
Emily came back and sank into her chair out of breath. "Phew."
"A lot of luggage?" asked Ida.
Emily nodded. "She's a wealthy woman, her maid's staying with her."
"Whoa," chorused the other girls.
Helen's phone dinged. She quickly reached into her purse and pulled out her phone. "Oh yes! Katherine says that they'll need three rooms." She glanced at Nancy with a grin. "And I've managed to convince them to stay until after Nancy's birthday."
"Oh wonderful! Then she'll get to meet Bess and George too!" said Nancy.
"Nancy's birthday, Bess and George returning home, and making plans for a spectacular Halloween display in the tunnels," said Izzy.
Ida lifted a finger. "Plus a healthy sprinkling of mysteries in between."
"Sounds like we've got a busy summer ahead of us," said Emily.
Helen chuckled. "It definitely does sound like it."
Nancy laughed. "And when Bess and George get here, they'll get to join in all the fun!"
"Oh Bess is not going to like that," said Helen. She grinned. "But George definitely will."
Izzy laughed. "And I can't wait to meet them!"
"Same!" said Ida.
Nancy grinned. "I can't wait for you to meet them either! I'm sure you'll all be great friends!" Though they were celebrating her triumph in this recent mystery, deep down inside she was counting down the days not only to when her friends would get back from the beach, but also to her next mystery. She hoped Nadia would say yes, that she would get to solve Richard's mystery. Though she was right, her next mystery was just around the corner. It just wouldn't be quite what she expected. But she would sleep well that night, knowing her friends and family were safe, and that another mystery was just on the horizon.
(Author's Note: And we are officially done, my rosy readers! Yay! This chapter ended up being shorter than I had wanted, but I couldn't find any fillers to stuff in there, so, it is what it is, lol. Thank you all so so much for reading, and reviewing, and sticking around! A very special thank you to Elizabeth Joan-hbndgirl and angelicalkiss for constantly reviewing! I really appreciate it! If you could, please read my other stories to get you through until the next book in the series is published, I'm hoping December/January. I will let you know for sure in my author's notes in Mystery of the Monoplane's Mission and Secret of the Sprite Society, if you want to read those. If not, definitely check back here around the end of December to see if I've started. Thanks again for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful week! God bless!)