Several months later…
"The captain has turned on the seatbelt light," the flight attendant announced. "We will be arriving in Chicago O'Hare in about fifteen minutes so please put your tray tables up and your seats back into an upright position."
Nancy stared out the window of the airplane as the flight attendant continued. She was flying home from her latest case and though the case was still hot from being solved, it wasn't what was on her mind at the moment. It had been several months since the events that took place in Milford Point and subsequent breakup with Parker Hawkley. Nancy knew she was over it, the breakup itself a mutual decision. But it was what happened afterwards that was on her mind along with a certain brown-eyed friend.
When Frank had taken her to the airport, she didn't know what would happen or what to expect. The two decided to grab a bite to eat in the city but the lunch turned into a four hour conversation that made her miss her initial flight home. Nancy smiled remembering how nervous Frank was as they sat at their table together, fidgeting with his fingers in front of him as if he had a lot on his mind.
"You're doing it again," replied a voice next to her interrupting Nancy's thoughts. She looked over to see Bess with a goofy grin stretched across her face.
"Doing what?" Nancy asked innocently.
"You're thinking about him," Bess said, batting her eyelashes. "You get that look on your face whenever Frank Hardy is on your mind."
"Oh, I do not," she denied.
"You do too! Ah, is that a blush?" her friend giggled. "You really have fallen hard, haven't you? And it's only been what? A couple of days since you last talked to him?"
"I knew it!" Bess squealed in delight causing several other passengers on the flight to look over at the two girls. She lowered her voice as she continued. "What did he say when he took you to the airport after the Renaissance faire, Nan? Come on! You have to tell me something!"
"I haven't told anyone, Bess," Nancy replied putting her tray table up. "And I'm not about to start so stop asking!"
"You're about as bad as he is!" her friend pouted leaning back in her seat. "Joe said that Frank has kept his mouth shut too. What is with you two anyway? Are you dating or not? You sure seemed cozy during the last case you had with them."
"That's because we had to, remember?" she quipped. "We were all posing as couples to find a black mailer going after people attending a couples retreat. I was just playing the part."
"Right and so was Frank, huh? If memory serves me correctly, you two disappeared for two hours after the case was closed. Where did you go?"
"Bess, Frank and I are just friends," Nancy said slowly, looking back out the window. She could see lights from the ground looking like grids on a map. "We barely know each other."
"That didn't stop you from dating Parker."
"Yeah and look how that turned out, Bess," she shook her head. "Parker and I were moving too quickly and it took falling off a horse to realize we weren't meant to be. Even he was fine with our breakup. I'm surprised I haven't heard anything from him in a while though. We usually talk at least once a week."
"Are you sure there's not still something there, Nan?" Bess looked at her skeptically.
"There's nothing, Bess, I assure you," Nancy replied firmly. "Same thing with Frank. We talk as friends. That's it."
Her friend rolled her eyes. "You are so incorrigible. And you still haven't answered my question as to where you and Frank ran off to after the case."
"And I am not going to answer it either," she said pointedly.
A few minutes later, the plane landed and the two girls waited in line to disembark to the terminal. It wasn't until they were well on their way to the baggage claim that Bess continued their conversation.
"You are so denying it!"
"You've had how many cases with the Hardys now? Six? Seven? And you say you're still getting to know him? Yeah, right." Bess made a noise and waved her hand dismissively. "I know love when I see it. I have a psychic ability when it comes to anything relationship wise."
"Then why don't you use that same 'psychic ability' on your own relationships?" Nancy retorted.
"It doesn't seem to work on me," Bess pouted. "But that's not the point! My prediction is that you and Frank are going to be together by the time your next case together is over! Mark my words, I know what I'm talking about. Just like I figured with Parker and Candace."
"Yeah, but even I saw that one coming before I left Milford Point last year," she replied. "I think everyone saw that coming. I remember getting the vibe from Parker after only being with him for a few hours that day."
"I'm surprised you remember anything from the faire, Nan," her friend pointed out. "Didn't you also have a feeling you were flying with Frank? Are you sure that wasn't some dream you had imagining he was Superman or something?"
"No, I think that was real, Bess." Nancy paused to think about it for a moment. "At least I think so. I did get back a lot of my memories but not all of them. That one seems to be a mystery as to where it came from. I didn't even tell Frank about it so it's no big deal."
"Why wouldn't you? I'm sure he'd like to know how you really feel about him."
"I'm serious! He's rescued you how many times now?" Bess smirked, her eyebrows waggling. "Admit it. You really like him even if it's not love just yet."
"I've rescued him too, you know," Nancy pouted. "I...I consider us even."
"Frank pulled a bullet from you on a moving boat while trying to escape a mad man," her friend smirked. "I don't think you can consider anything 'even' after that unless you saved his life from a burning building…oh, wait, that was him too!"
"Okay, you're right. We're not exactly even," she conceded.
Nancy sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose. She didn't want to admit it but Bess was right. Her feelings for Frank had grown since the faire. Every case they've worked on together since, she'd been able to get to know both the Hardy brothers. While Joe was the charming, outgoing type, Frank was more reserved and thoughtful, thinking things through before carrying out plans. It was something that she did a lot when she was on her own for cases. Even during their most recent case, she and Frank seemed to be constantly bouncing ideas off of each other while Joe and Bess were quiet, not knowing what to think. Although the two brothers were an amazing team, when Nancy came into the picture, the three of them together were formidable.
As she thought about it some more, Nancy knew she wanted to go slower with Frank than she did with Parker. It was the one thing that was holding her back from expressing her feelings in full. When she spoke with Frank months before in New York, she thought wanted to start their relationship but he held back just as much as she did and the two decided the time wasn't right for them to be a couple. They wanted to get to know each other first and that was understandable. Nancy just wished that their friends and family would lay off for a while.
"Earth to Nancy?"
"Oh, will you just give in and admit it?" Bess cried. "You know it and I know it. So now you can't deny it. I wish that you both would finally just get on with it!"
"Bess!" Nancy's mouth dropped in shock though her face turned pink.
"I don't mean that!" she laughed. "I meant dating. You two should be together! Geez, and you tell me I'm the one with a dirty mind!" Bess sighed exasperated. "You've been telling me about Frank since we were kids! You said it yourself you never really dated much except for here and there because of the kid who was so kind to you when your mother died."
"Yeah, but I didn't know it was Frank until last year."
"And you talked about him ever since!" Bess said pointedly. "Even when you were dating Parker, you wondered why Frank never called you all those months."
"It was because of the emails he was getting from Melody."
"Really? That's no excuse!"
"You heard how crazy Melody is!" Nancy defended. "I read them too. They were creepy. Dad said she passed her notes on to someone so they could send the emails to him. It's why they knew she wasn't doing it while she was in the institution."
"And she's still there, right?"
"As far as I know, she'll be there for a while," she nodded. "As for Frank, he was just trying to protect me."
"That may be somewhat true, Nan," her friend replied, "but is that what he told you?"
"No, he didn't say why he didn't call," she shrugged. "He calls me now though. I guess he's making up for lost times."
"I'm telling you, he'll ask you out after your next case with him," Bess said knowingly.
"Bess, you don't have a psychic ability."
"Oh, ye of little faith. I'll have you know that I have predicted numerous couples, breakups, and babies all around River Heights and the celebrity world. Look how I was able to predict the royal family outcome."
"Bess, everyone saw that one coming," Nancy rolled her eyes.
"Yes, but I predicted Deirdre running off with that rich guy right after high school," Bess nodded smartly.
"Who knocked her up and dumped her. Did you see that coming?"
"Absolutely! And what about Mrs. Peabody's affair with the garbage man?"
"It was hardly an affair if neither one of them was married at the time, Bess."
"Oh, will you stop?" Bess cried. "I predicted them and they are still together and it's been five years! Now I'm predicting yours, Nan. You'll see after your next case. I guarantee it!"
"Uh huh." Nancy looked at her friend skeptically though she saw that Bess felt what she said was true. Sighing, Nancy walked away toward the baggage claim area and waited for their luggage to come. Although Bess followed her, she didn't say anything more as Nancy stared at the screen above them, a newscast running about a serial killer on the loose though she didn't really pay attention. Somewhere out there was someone who was thinking of her just as much as she was thinking of him. It was only a matter of time though before her true feelings were put to the test.
Frank sat at his desk after the office had closed. His father and brother already left but he wanted to finish a few more things before going home for the weekend. That and a phone call that he wanted to make in private without the prying ears of his younger brother. He thought he was the only one left until he felt a hand on his shoulder causing him to jump.
"Oh! I'm so sorry, Frank!" cried Charlie Stanton. "I just wanted to let you know that I was leaving."
"It's okay, Charlie," he replied though his heart was still racing. "I didn't realize that you were still here. I thought you left a while back."
"I was just finishing up the filing your dad asked me to do yesterday," the young man smiled. "I didn't want to leave it for Monday."
"I know the feeling," Frank laughed. He clicked out the file he was working on and turned to face Charlie. "You have any plans for the weekend?"
"Yeah, I actually do," Charlie said sheepishly. "I…I met a girl yesterday and I'm taking her out tonight. I'm really excited about it."
"That's great," he smiled thinking of his own love life. "What's her name?"
"Lily. She's from here in Bayport. It's actually part of the reason why I stayed later. She doesn't get off work until 6."
"No harm in wanting to finish a job, Charlie." Frank eyed the young man, seeing both Joe and himself in the way the kid handled things. "You really like being here, don't you?"
"Yeah, I do," Charlie admitted. "I didn't at first. I wanted nothing to do with what you guys did for a living. I thought I deserved better but after that time when your dad asked for some help on a case a few months ago, I realized that you do a lot more than just solve crimes. You help people and I think that your dad wanted me to see things differently when he took me on months ago."
"Well, you have changed a lot since you walked in here, Charlie," he said. "You've become an asset and more like family than anything else. I'm glad you're staying. I think it'll help you decide what you want to do now that you've graduated high school."
"Yeah," the young man nodded excitedly. "I actually have. I'm thinking about going into criminal justice in college in the fall. I mean, I'll still be back to work when I can but I think it's what I want to do. Mr. Hardy and Mr. Ridley really showed me my potential. Who knows? Maybe I'll be a cop once I'm ready."
"Oh, I'm sure Chief Durham would love to have you or anybody for that matter."
"I'm sure he would but I've already given him half of his gray hairs anyway," Charlie smirked. "What's one more? My mom is really proud of me though. She says that she would support me with whatever I decide to do. Dad too. He's coming around after Parker Hawkley helped him out with our finances and Mr. Drew located Dad's old accountant who stole most of the family's money."
"Really?" Frank was surprised to hear that Mr. Drew had stepped in to help. "Well, I'm happy for you and we're happy to have you on no matter how long you decide to stay with us. I'm very glad to hear that your family is starting to turn a corner."
"You could say that," the kid nodded. "Mom is still mad at Dad about not telling her about the money going missing and they have been separated since then but I think they're trying to work it out which will be good. I don't think my sister will ever get it though."
"Why's that? What did Nancy suggest anyway for Whitney?"
Charlie chuckled. "That she get a job and work for a living. Mom has been trying to help her keep the jobs but Whitney is horrible at customer service. She really needs a job where she doesn't interact with anyone. About a month after the faire, Mom helped her find a place to live in the city though she had to pay for it herself. It's been rough on Whitney but I think she'll eventually come around. The only thing Dad didn't squander was our trust funds. Just don't tell Whitney that or she'll quit the job she has now." He sighed and looked at the clock. "I'd better head out. Mom knows I'm going to be out tonight but I think I should call her before my date. Hope you get everything done soon, Frank. You shouldn't be here. It's Friday night...the summer. Go out and enjoy yourself."
"Thanks for the advice, Charlie," Frank laughed. "I'll see what I can do. Have a good weekend."
Moments later, Frank was alone once more but he waited several minutes before he pulled out his phone and stared at it. He knew he had to wait until later because of Nancy's flight home from her most recent case but he missed hearing her voice even though he had spoken to her only three days before. Still Frank was going to call and ask her how the case went and how she was doing among other things. When he noted the time, he dialed the number then waited for Nancy to answer as he impatiently drummed his fingers on the desk.
Martin Davenport grinned when he saw a familiar face enter his room. The man was dressed in white similar to an orderly but the patient knew that he was no orderly. The moment the doctor and police officer entered his room though, his smile instantly vanished and his cool demeanor returned.
"You're being transferred, Davenport," replied the officer. "The orders finally came through for you to be remanded into the custody of the Federal Corrections Officers and transported to a secure facility in Kentucky. Do you have anything to say before we leave?"
"Yeah, I thought I wasn't leaving Florida," spat Davenport. "My lawyer made sure of that. I need to be near my daughter."
"The United States Attorney in charge of your case has issued the order," he answered. "Upon hearing your doctor's clearance for travel, he put in a request for your transfer. Your lawyer was notified this morning."
The orderly walked over to Davenport as the officer handcuffed the handicapped man. Before long the trio along with two more guards were moving down the hall at a slow pace. A van was waiting outside for them with two guards standing at the side door of the vehicle. The orderly stopped Davenport's wheelchair over the lift gate then waited the few minutes it took for the lift to bring the prisoner to the level of the van. After making sure he was secure, the orderly left the van and waited until the transaction was complete before pulling out the gun he had hidden in his clothes. The two guards with the van pulled out similar guns and shot the officers, the doctor, and anyone else who tried to stop them before they piled into the van.
Tires squealed as the van rushed through the gate where no one stopped them, the guards having already been taken out. The fake orderly removed Davenport's restraints then sat down next to his boss.
"Is everything in place?" Martin Davenport asked, rubbing his wrists.
"Yes, sir," he nodded. "But we can't get your children out yet. Your daughter is in a maximum security mental institution while your son is in federal prison for kidnapping and attempted murder. We will have to make major plans on how to get them out without failing."
"It's fine," the man waved dismissively. "We'll get them out in due time. I want to concentrate on my body first. I don't care how long it takes but when the time is right and my children are with me again, I will have my revenge starting with the one who put me in this chair."
Over a thousand miles away, a phone rang in the middle of the night. Carson Drew rolled over in his bed, a bleary eye opening to look at the time on his bedside clock. It read a little after two in the morning and he groaned as the phone rang again.
"Hello?" he growled into the phone irritated.
"I'm sorry to wake you, Carson," replied a man on the other line.
"Jim?" The lawyer sat up and turned on the light. "It's two in the morning. What the hell?"
"It's Martin Davenport, Carson," Agent Jim Taylor said grimly. "He escaped from federal custody about two hours ago."
Thank you so much for the awesome support on this story! I am sorry to see it end but it moves us closer to another story and a new twist! We will see most of these characters in the near future though Davenport does not appear again for a while. Charlie Stanton though will continue to grow and be a part of the group but I'm not sure if he will be in the next story or not. It's still up in the air for him. The next story is going to be one that is necessary for the series though it has nothing to do with the Davenport plot. Again, Parker and Candace will not make an appearance until later though they will be mentioned briefly in the next one. I am still thinking as to who will be with our heroes this time but I'm leaning mainly toward Bess or George but we still might see Vanessa and Charlie as well. I'm still working on it. Depends on what I'm feeling as the plot progresses. I am taking a little breather to get this story started and developed but don't be alarmed. I hope to have it ready no later than August 1st but it could be earlier (or later). You never know! I have a lot of training to do over the course of the next few weeks to get ready for the school year so a lot of time will be used for that as well plus I still have my 7yo to keep occupied until school starts. Her birthday is next month and she's been thinking about it since March so there's that too. August is always busy in our house (anniversary, birthday, school). Anyway, thanks to everyone who read the story and a special thanks to everyone who left a review throughout this journey even if you only left one or two. I could not have gotten through this without all of you! I hope that you enjoyed the epilogue and if you will, please leave one final review to let me know what you think! I pray that everyone enjoyed their Fourth of July festivities and that you all have a wonderful week. God bless and be well, my friends!