Disclaimer: I do not own the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew and I do not make any money from this story. In my stories the characters are older - Frank and Nancy are thirty-one, Joe is thirty, and Vanessa is twenty-six. The two couples are married and live in River Heights, Illinois where the brothers and Nancy own and operate a detective agency. Vanessa works for her aunt and uncle at a Farmers' Insurance Agency that is located next door to The Endeavor Detective Agency.

Chapter One

Jasmine pulled on the tight tank top and adjusted it over her ample bosom. She looked in the mirror, fluffed her long, raven black hair and dabbed a finger at the corner of her painted lips to correct a smudge of lipstick. She stepped back and turned side to side to admire herself. Skintight jeans showed off a spectacular derriere.

Jasmine knew she was pretty and wasn't above using her looks to get what she wanted. At thirty-something, she had a Playboy pin-up body, a good complexion, and large electric blue eyes. Those eyes would skitter around a room – usually a bar – until they found something interesting to land on.

Jasmine liked hard rock music, dancing till dawn, and tequila shots. She liked fast cars and even faster men. Jasmine lived life in the fast lane. Always had and always would. Full throttle all the time. Go big or go home was her motto.

Today she was going to rob a bank. It wouldn't be the first bank she'd robbed, and if she had her way, it wouldn't be the last.

# # # #

Frank Hardy stood in the lobby of the First National Bank in Oren, Illinois. He was dressed in a bank guard's uniform. He scanned customers as they came and went, looking for anything out of the ordinary.

Outside the building, his brother Joe, leaned against the stone façade and soaked up the late afternoon sun. It was mid-September and gorgeous fall weather. Joe was dressed in jeans, a Chicago Cubs baseball cap, and a long sleeve t-shirt. The t-shirt sleeves were pushed up to his elbows and exposed muscular forearms. One hand was in the pocket of his jeans. The other hand reached up and adjusted his sunglasses.

Joe surveyed the sidewalk then thumbed the mic on the police radio he'd been given. He talked to an officer in an unmarked car. "What's the word? Got anything yet?"

"Yeah, she just left her house. Looks like she's heading for town. We're tailing her."

"Okay." Joe pictured the overweight officer with a peanut shaped head. Every time Joe had seen the guy he'd been puffing on a cigarette. Joe thought of the officer as a smoking Mr. Peanut without the monocle.

# # # #

Jasmine drove her car to the mall to meet her sister Gigi and their friend Koby. A ripple of fear prickled Jasmine's spine. Normal. She always felt some trepidation before a job. She thought about the Glock tucked in her purse. Small and light and, boy, did it ever feel great in her hand. She wanted to hold it, run her hand over it, and fondle it. Having it in her hand always bolstered her confidence, something she needed right now.

Jasmine was a good shot. She and her brother, Jimbo, had practiced at mama's house every chance they got. Jimbo liked to make fun of Jasmine at those practice sessions, but underneath the jokes and harsh tone was love, an all abiding love for his little sister.

Jimbo and Jasmine were close. Always had been. He was fourteen months older, but had been held back in the first grade. Therefore, they had wound up in the same grade and in the same class year after year. Mama had wanted it that way, liked it that way. Jasmine and Jimbo together. Soon, Jasmine and Jimbo were treated like twins. Maybe because they were always together. Whatever one did, the other did. Wherever one went, the other went.

As they got older they shared misadventures and friends. Jasmine partied, drank, and did drugs with Jimbo's buddies. Then took them to bed. Jimbo did likewise with Jasmine's girlfriends.

The day they hauled Jimbo off to prison had been a brutal blow to Jasmine. It was as if someone had rammed a stake through her heart. Her brother, her friend, her soulmate, was gone. She spent days crying her eyes out, screaming and raging to anyone who would listen.

She told people they took Jimbo away on trumped up charges. Cops said he'd been at a shooting of one of his friends. Jimbo hadn't been anywhere near that shooting. Jasmine had told the cops that, sworn it under oath. Didn't make a damn bit of difference, the cops had their minds made up and Jimbo was sent upstate to the pen. He'd been there about a year now. However, things were looking up, his new lawyer promised to have Jimbo out by Christmas.

We'll see, Jasmine thought. We'll see.

She didn't put any stock in lawyers or cops.

# # # #

The peanut-headed officer radioed Joe. "She's at the mall, pulling up next to a van – some ole' rusted thing. She's out. Now she's gettin' in the van."

"Sounds like this is going down." Joe pushed off the wall and looked up and down the street.

"Oh, it's going down," Peanut-head said. "It's going down all right."

Joe hoped so. A little action would be nice after a week of staking out Oren's two banks. So far, all he, Frank, and Nancy had to show for their time in Oren was a lot of waiting and watching. Not that he, Frank, nor Nancy were going to complain. A job was a job. When the mayor of Oren called their detective agency a week ago and asked for help, all three detectives had felt honored. The detectives' good work in solving tough cases in River Heights and Healy, Illinois had gotten them noticed. Gotten them the attention they deserved.

A string of bank robberies in the small town of Oren didn't seem that difficult to solve, Joe had thought when the mayor told them the case. Of course, time would tell.

# # # #

Gigi Nettles was a hard, dark haired woman with blue eyes that peered out from under thick black lashes and arched black eyebrows. Jasmine and Jimbo had gotten the looks in the family. Gigi had gotten the anger, the spit, and the fire. Full throttle all the way was her motto. Her lips rarely strayed from the permanent scowl etched on her face. She fixed her icy blue eyes on Jasmine as she climbed into the back of the van.

"You ready?" Gigi asked.

"Of course." Jasmine tossed her purse and a Wal-Mart bag on the seat between her and her sister.

Koby, a friend of theirs since elementary school, sat at the wheel of the van. He nodded at Jasmine and eyed her with more than casual interest. He had a fleshy face, pale skin, and a mop of mud-colored hair. He'd never had the pleasure of Jasmine in his bed, but every time he saw her a twitter of hope stirred in his loins.

"Hey, Jasmine," he said it like they were meeting for lunch and not planning to rob a bank.

"Hey, Koby." Jasmine hardly glanced at him. She kept her attention on her sister sitting beside her.

Gigi shifted her glare to Koby. "Put the van in gear. Let's get going."

Koby didn't hesitate, not with Gigi staring him down. He fired up the engine.

# # # #

"They're moving," Peanut-head told Joe.

Joe wondered what the chances were that they would hit the bank he and Frank were stationed at. Slim to none, he figured. The robbers would probably hit the bank where Nancy was.

# # # #

"We're almost there," Koby said, his voice trembling a little. This was his first job with the sisters and he didn't want to screw it up. If he did this right he figured he stood a good chance of getting Jasmine between the sheets.

Oh yeah. He pictured that bodacious body in his bed – naked, oily, and glistening with sweat.

Couldn't blame a guy for dreaming.

Gigi snapped Koby right out of those dreams. "Remember what I said, Koby. Jasmine goes in first, scopes out the place, reports back, then me and her will go in. We'll only be in there four minutes. Got it? Four minutes." She leaned forward. Got close to Koby's ear. Her hot breath scorched his neck as she ran a fingernail down his cheek. "If you do anything stupid, like driving away and leaving us, you'll have Mama and us to answer to. There won't be anywhere for you to hide. One of us, or one of our kin, will hunt you down like an animal and kill you. Your guts will be spread over half the county. You understand me?"

"Yeah, yeah. I understand." He ran a hand down the cheek she'd scratched. It hurt, but no blood. "You don't have to worry, Gi. I'm here. I'm part of this." Dammit, didn't she get it? If he was caught he was in just as much trouble as they were. He was a co-conspirator, accessory to a robbery, aiding and abetting, the whole nine yards.

"Koby's okay," Jasmine said rekindling his dreams. "He'd never leave us high and dry. I trust him." In the rearview mirror he watched Jasmine bat her lashes and give him a shy little grin. Damn. He'd do anything for her. Absolutely anything.

# # # #

"They made a turn. They're heading your way, Hardy. This is it. This is it!" Peanut-head spat out the words in a rush and his breath came in short, fast little puffs.

Six months of hard work – investigations, surveillance, reviewing video tapes, interviewing informants. It was all coming together for the Oren Police Department.

"We're ready," Joe said, his adrenaline surging. He thumbed the mic and radioed Frank. "It's our lucky day, bro. They're headed here."

Frank touched the gun on his hip and nodded at the plainclothes policeman standing on the other side of the bank next to a large, leafy, potted plant. The potted plant was among an array of plants all surrounding an enormous fake palm tree.

"I'm ready," Frank said into his mic.

# # # #

Koby parked the van a block from the bank.

Jasmine looked at Koby in the rearview mirror and smiled. "I'll only be a couple a minutes. Wish me luck."

Koby got all moon-eyed and started to say something, but the scowl on Gigi's face stopped him cold.

"Get going," Gigi snapped at her sister.

Jasmine walked into the bank, looked around, and spotted the guard. A tall guy in the corner. Dark-haired, broad shouldered, and muscular. Not your average bank guard. Not the type Jasmine was accustomed to seeing anyway. He turned in her direction.

Good looking, Jasmine thought and gave him the shy grin. He had dark, piercing eyes and he was looking at her, checking her out. Jasmine got in line behind a fat woman with a walker. The woman smelled. Jasmine wrinkled her nose and backed up a step.

The bank had about a half a dozen people in it, not counting the three tellers and the guard. Jasmine glanced over her shoulder at the guard again. Still checking her out she saw. She didn't hold with cops or law enforcement of any kind, but this guy looked good. Bet he smelled good, too. Maybe she could make an exception in his case.

Yeah, if given the chance, she'd do him. Totally. Then cut him. Next to shooting she liked cutting. Had an ex-boyfriend with the scars to prove it.

She tossed her head and pushed a strand of luscious black hair over her shoulder. She opened her purse and felt around a second then looked up. "Oh, damn. Forgot my wallet."

The fat woman turned her head and gave Jasmine a look of contempt. It clearly said Jasmine wasn't the brightest crayon in the box. The fat woman thought better of her reaction, though, dipped her head and pushed her walker forward. The line was moving and she didn't have time for the likes of Jasmine, someone dumb enough to forget her wallet and who was so scantily clad. That neon green tank top literally screamed, Come and get it.

Jasmine made sure the guard was watching as she sashayed her way out of the bank.

The minute she exited, Frank radioed Peanut-head and Joe. "Suspect just left. How are we playing this? Take them down outside or in?"

Peanut-head answered, "Inside. Have to catch 'em in the act. Don't want 'em getting off on a technicality. Let'em do the job then take'em down before they leave."

"Roger that," Frank said.

Peanut-head said, "Joe, back-up is on the way, but until they get here the get-away driver is yours. Take him down if he tries to run."

"Got it." Joe watched Jasmine walk across the street.

# # # #

Jasmine slid into the van looking entirely too pleased with herself. The only time she looked like that was when she was getting ready to mate or to kill. Gigi hoped it was the latter. "Well?" she growled.

Jasmine crossed her legs. "One guard. Cute."

Cute? Gigi's face twisted into an angry frown. Good Lord, what was going on in Jasmine's pea sized brain today? First goo-goo eyes at Koby and now a guard.

Gigi didn't like the feel of this. Something was wrong. Very wrong. Jasmine's head wasn't in the game. Maybe they'd better call this thing off.

"Cute?" Gigi hissed in disgust.

Startled, Jasmine jerked, uncrossed her legs, and stared at her sister. Gigi was ready to pull the plug, she could see it. "Nothing," Jasmine said defensively. She lifted a shoulder and tried to shrug it off. "He was kinda cute, that's all. Let's get going."

Up front, Koby had sad puppy dog eyes. He wasn't cute, not even close.

Gigi was tense, unsure, but nobody usurped her authority. "We go when I say we go."

Jasmine waited a beat before saying, "We need the money. We gotta pay the lawyer. We're doing this for Jimbo. Remember?"

Gigi sneered and the lines around her mouth grew deeper. "I know that. Just give me a minute to think. Gotta think this thing through."

Jasmine knew from long, hard experience it was best to let her older sister think, come to her own conclusions. Jasmine played it cool, checked her glossy red fingernails, and sat calmly like she didn't care. She ran her tongue over her top lip and waited.

Koby watched from the front, still with the sad eyes, but the tongue was giving him ideas.

Gigi said, "I'm popping the guard the minute we walk through the door."

"Fine." Jasmine shrugged like it was of no consequence. He wouldn't be the first guard they'd killed. Probably wouldn't be the last one either.

Gigi had shot and killed a guard at the second bank they'd robbed. The guard had tried to be a hero. Fool. Gigi hadn't hesitated. When she saw him go for his gun she'd pulled the trigger on her Ruger semiautomatic. One shot, right in the heart. The old fool had laid on the cold, white floor bleeding. Some hero he'd been.

"With the guard down everyone will cower," Gigi said. "They'll know we mean business."

Jasmine nodded. People had cowered and cried and whimpered when Gigi shot the guard, but no one had stood up to them, not after the guard was down. And not since that robbery. They'd pulled off four more jobs, all successful.

Jasmine took two ski masks out of the Wal-Mart bag on the seat. The sisters pulled the masks over their heads. Gigi took her Ruger, a big, black, bulky thing out of her purse and motioned with it. "Okay, Koby. Roll."

# # # #

The women went in big and loud. A frenzy of motion and guns. They wore the ski masks and big black jackets over bullet-proof vests.

The fat woman was still there, just making her way to the door to leave when Gigi pushed it open. Gigi elbowed the woman in the ribs and knocked her down. The woman landed hard and cried out. Her walker fell with her, clattering on the marble floor.

Jasmine came in behind Gigi and swung her gun into the woman's frightened face. "Stay down and don't make a sound," Jasmine hissed.

The woman looked like a fish opening and closing her mouth, but no sound came out.

Gigi barked orders, "Everybody down! Everybody on the floor!"

Terrified people slumped to their knees and onto the floor.

Gigi held the Ruger two-fisted. She shifted left to right looking for the guard.

No guard.

Where the hell was the guard? Left to right again. No guard.

Forget the guard. Focus on the people.

Gigi screamed at the people on the floor, "On your bellies. Facedown. Hands on your heads." People obeyed. "Anyone moves, they're dead."

Jasmine swept the lobby with her gun looking for the guard. Where was he?

Where. Was. The cute guard?

Dread crept up her spine. He knew. He knew they were coming. This was a set-up.

Gigi was waiting for Jasmine to get to a teller and get the money. The sisters made eye-contact. Uncertainty passed between them like an electrical current.

"Hostage," Gigi said and pointed her gun at a brown haired woman on the floor. "You. Up."

Gigi was a big, powerful woman. She grabbed the brown-haired woman by the shoulder of her shirt and yanked her up. Then Gigi wrapped an arm around the woman, pulled her close, and thrust the Ruger into the side of her neck.

The woman, forty something, whimpered and prayed she'd live through this. She had two kids at home, teenagers.

Gigi yelled, "Where's the guard? We want the guard."

Nobody moved. Dead silence in the bank. Eerie silence.

Gigi yelled louder, "I want the guard, dammit. Or I start shooting people. Starting with this woman."

Frank stepped from a side hallway wearing a bullet-proof vest. He came out with his Beretta aimed at Gigi, his head and shoulders hunched over the gun, sighting down the barrel.

"Let her go." His voice was calm and steady.

"I give the orders," Gigi said and gripped the woman tighter. "Toss your gun or I shoot her."

"Me for her." Frank eased forward, keeping the barrel of his Beretta trained on Gigi's face. A head shot was the only way to stop her. Her bulletproof vest protected her chest.

"Toss your gun or I shoot." Gigi pressed the Ruger harder against the woman's neck. The woman squeezed her eyes shut and her face wrinkled in fear and terror.

Frank edged closer. Fifteen feet between them. "You fire. I fire. We both go down. Nobody wins." Peripherally, he checked on Jasmine. She was to his right, her Glock shifting between him and the hostage. Jasmine was a wild card, no telling what she'd do. Back to Gigi.

"Let her go." Frank's voice was firm yet calm.

"No. Toss your gun or I shoot her. I swear, I'll shoot her." Gigi's index finger tightened on the trigger.

Over Gigi's right shoulder Frank saw Underhill, the plainclothes officer. The barrel of his rifle poked through the leaves of one of the big leafy plants. Neither sister had noticed him. Underhill was young, twenty-four, and was said to be one of the best sniper's in the state. He'd been brought in specifically for this job.

Frank recalled the conversation he'd had with Underhill that morning. "Ever shoot anyone?" Frank had asked.

Underhill had grinned. "Not yet, but if the situation arises I won't hesitate. They say hesitation kills a lot of cops." His pale green eyes had held confidence and a strong belief in what he said.

"What if there's a hostage situation? Say they have a gun to someone's head? What then?" Frank had been running scenarios in his head.

Underhill just smiled. "Well, if the shooter's got the hammer down I can take them. The hostage will be okay. If the hammer's cocked … Well then, not so good. Wouldn't be the time to make the shot. I'd need the shooter to ease off the trigger, or shift position, or something. I'd need something to give me one millionth of a second to pull my trigger."

Frank had lifted an eyebrow. "One millionth of a second? You're that good?"

"Yep, I'm that good." Another big smile. "I use Black Talon bullets that won't go through the shooter's head and ricochet around and hit somebody else. All the bullet's energy gets deposited inside the shooter's head. Their head swells up like a pumpkin and explodes. Boom." Underhill had spread his hands out dramatically to demonstrate.

Well, he'd better be that good, Frank thought because Frank's and the hostage's lives now depended on it.

"Me for her," Frank said again to Gigi. He searched for a way to give Underhill that one millionth of a second he needed. "You'll still have a hostage. Me."

Trying to be a hero Gigi thought. Trying to be a gawddamn hero. She yanked the gun away from the woman's neck and aimed it at Frank's face.

Underhill, peering through his Leupold scope, saw Gigi shift. Saw the gun come away from the hostage's throat. That was all he needed. He pulled the trigger.

The bullet sped toward Gigi. She never knew it was coming. Never sensed death speeding up behind her. Her head exploded and she dropped like a sack of potatoes.

Frank had ducked to the right and down when he saw the muzzle flash of Underhill's rifle.

The hostage let out a long, piercing scream. She was covered in Gigi's blood, flesh, and bone. The hostage thought she'd been hit and couldn't understand why she was still standing.

Jasmine, momentarily stunned, stood rigid, eyes wild. Then she saw Gigi on the floor, not moving, a bloody mess where her head had been. "Nooooooooo!" An animal cry of rage. Primal and gut wrenching. Jasmine swung her gun toward Frank.

He was on a knee, his Beretta aimed at her face. He pulled the trigger just as her head exploded.