I'm back! I thought I was going to get this started a few days ago but I suddenly had a different viewpoint on it. I thought it needed to change. Turns out, I didn't need to change anything. It was good in its own right and I feel that it's ready for the world (yay!). The prologue is a little shorter than what I usually produce but I really wanted it to be that way. I almost didn't have one but I think I needed to introduce our villain…sort of. Plus also set up the beginning a little. Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. The story is a continuation of the Beginnings Saga and we will be returning to Parker and Candace to see how they are doing. I have a good portion of it hand-written, unchanged by my sudden change in thoughts, and notes on most of the rest of the story. The end is in my head along with everything in between but I think this will be pretty decent.
Here are a few things to bring you up to speed: Nancy and Frank are still dating as are Joe and Vanessa. Bess is dating Daniel and I think he will appear later on but you will have to see what's going on there. This story takes place six or seven months after the events at Wyvern Manor. Our heroes are currently around the ages of 21-23. I know it seems like Parker and Candace are moving fast but they really aren't. I really wanted Nancy and the Hardys to be a certain age to bring us to the next story which centers around the Drews but that is where I will leave that for now. Hopefully that story will come quicker than this one did though I have a feeling that it will since I have already begun the ideas and writing on it.
Anyway, throughout the month of September, I spent some time with my family; wrote a little here, a little there; went back to work (which I love my new position); and even took a trip to Washington D.C. for an amazing time walking from the Lincoln Memorial (my personal favorite) to the Capital Building. Plus I got to hear my favorite Christian singer sing in person for the first time in my life (bucket list!). Too bad I couldn't seem him from where I was standing but it was still an experience that I will never forget. All-in-all, it's been a pretty good month considering. I'm ready for October and the holidays to appear and hopefully a better new year.
As for the actual story itself, I'm really excited for this story but nervous at the same time as to how it will be received (normal for any author). I hope that you are excited about it too! It should be a thrill ride. Remember, keep tabs on everything. There's always a tidbit I add that might come up later or it might mean absolutely nothing. This includes any characters that are new (or old!). Are you ready? Got your thinking caps ready? Because here we go…
"Are you ready for tonight?" Bess Marvin asked excitedly flipping her hair over her shoulder. Nancy Drew sat across from her, taking a bite out of her salad. They were sitting outside a quaint restaurant in downtown Milford Point with Candace Miller and Vanessa Bender. The four had just been on shopping spree to find dresses for their evening out that night for Candace's bachelorette party.
"Of course I am, Bess," her friend replied with a nonchalant shrug. "This is going to be so much fun!"
"Fun?" Candace cried. "It'll be epic! I can't wait and then tomorrow I finally walk down the aisle! OMG! I'm so nervous!"
"You'll do fine, Candace," Nancy assured her patting her arm. "And we'll all be right there with you the entire time."
"Oh, I'm so happy you guys are going to be in the wedding with me," she looked at Vanessa and Nancy. "And you too, Bess! You may not be in the wedding but you've been a great friend!"
"Anything to help you out, Candace," Bess beamed. "Now, let's see that ring again!"
Candace reached out and let Bess drool over the large diamond engagement ring while Vanessa and Nancy shook their heads. The girls continued to laugh and talk for another half hour before getting the check to leave. Candace held up her hand when she saw the others reaching for their purses.
"Nope," she said. "Parker insisted that he pay for everything today so the meal is on him."
"Really?" Nancy asked. "I don't want to sound like a freeloader of something."
"Nancy, you are the furthest thing from a freeloader," Candace giggled handing the credit card to the waitress. "I figured that out a long time ago when I first met you. Besides, you know Parker. He won't take no for an answer."
"Nan, I think this is the moment you give it up," Bess laughed. The girls all burst out laughing before the waitress returned. As the girls left, Bess hooked arms with Nancy watching Vanessa and Candace walk in front of them, the two talking energetically. Bess lowered her voice to speak only to her friend. "So, what's on your mind?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, you seem like you're occupied with something else," her friend said calmly eyeing her. "Is there something bothering you?"
"Well, I don't know," Nancy shrugged. "I just have this feeling about tonight, that's all."
"Don't tell me that you think the Bridal Killer is going to come after Candace!" Bess said shrilly. Nancy shushed her, glancing at Vanessa and Candace in front of them. When Bess spoke again, she lowered her voice. "I thought you were all set for this."
"I am, Bess," she sighed. "It's just that…you know when you have a feeling, whether it be good or bad, and you have to seize on it? That's the feeling I'm getting."
"And I know your feelings, Nan," her friend stated darkly. "Should we still go through with going to the club?"
"I don't want to ruin it for Candace," Nancy shook her head. "This is her day and I want to make it the best I can make it for her. I'm not going to not cancel her bachelorette party over a theory."
"Then what's the problem?" Bess waited but when Nancy didn't respond she continued. "Look, the Bridal Killer hasn't been active in months, not since that poor woman was found back in December. Maybe he stopped for some reason and he won't be coming back."
"Or maybe he's biding his time, Bess," Nancy pointed out. "Candace and Parker's wedding has been the talk of the papers for months now. What if he wants to make a bigger splash than he's already done?"
"Nancy, you're being paranoid," her friend replied stopping in front of a store. "Have you discussed this with Parker or even Frank?"
"No, I wasn't sure how they would react or even how to approach the subject. Everyone has been so busy getting ready for the wedding tomorrow I didn't want to ruin the moment."
"I think you need to say something if it's really bothering you," Bess replied. "If not, then let the evening go on as planned and have fun. I take it that you're not planning on drinking much tonight?"
"No, I'm not," Nancy answered. "I promised Parker I wouldn't so I could stay close to Candace and I intend to keep that promise. Maybe you're right. I'm probably just overreacting about this whole thing."
"Hey, what are you two doing back there?" Vanessa asked turning around.
"You're not scheming something are you?" Candace raised an eyebrow.
"Oh, no," Bess smiled coyly glancing at Nancy. "We're just talking boys."
Noting her friend's quick thinking, Nancy nodded with a smile though she immediately regretted it.
"Oh, really?" the young bride eyed Nancy. "Any particular boy you're thinking of, Nancy?"
"You know me, Candy," she smirked. Candace took a hold of Nancy's other arm and the four girls walked in step as they headed down the sidewalk.
"Frank is handsome and all," Candace replied. "Not like Parker, of course, but he is still a catch. You're not having second thoughts about him, are you?"
"Why would you think that?" Nancy asked startled. She was a little nervous about the direction the conversation was going.
"I don't know," she shrugged. "I just get vibes from people every so often and you have a strange one. You like him but you're still not sure about him. Is that it?"
"How can you not be sure about Frank after what happened at Wyvern Manor?" cried Bess a little shocked.
"Why do you guys think that I'm having trouble with Frank?" Nancy asked. "We don't fight and we're not exactly 'quiet' about our relationship."
"No!" her friend cried, her hand to her mouth. "You didn't!"
"Uh, no," Nancy said quickly blushing. "I didn't mean that. I meant we're pretty vocal about what we do together. We just want people to lay off so being transparent about things makes it easier."
"Uh, huh," Vanessa looked at her skeptically. "And that time you two disappeared overnight in Cancun?"
"We…we were on a stakeout," she stammered. "It was a case, remember?"
"Yeah, I remember that," Bess piped up, smirking. "That was when Daniel came on the trip with us. He mentioned something about Frank hair being a little disheveled when he got back."
"We slept in the car!"
"Right," she nodded. "And the car just magically turned your shirt backwards."
Candace and Vanessa's mouths dropped open and the two looked at her in shock. Nancy's face turned a deep shade of red and she looked away.
"Well, if it isn't Candace Miller and her lowly band of misfits," replied a voice from behind them. Nancy was slightly relieved that the person interjected into their conversation but her relief soon turned to grief when she saw who spoke. Whitney Stanton stood a few feet away, a smirk etched on her polished face.
"Hello, Whitney," Candace said as nice as possible. "What brings you here?"
"Oh, nothing," the young woman answered. "I was just shopping and saw you guys talking. I was also wondering if Parker realized his mistake in being with you."
"Still shallow and callous as ever, I see, Whitney," Nancy stated.
"Why, Nancy," Whitney replied in mock shock, "I didn't even see you there. I'm honestly surprised that you would come around again after your first visit here. In fact, I was just telling my new boyfriend about you falling off that horse at the Renaissance Faire a couple of years ago. We both got a pretty good laugh about it."
"And I'm sure he feels so lucky to be your boyfriend," Vanessa quipped, "if that is what he really is."
"Good to see you too, Vanessa," the young woman eyed the tall blonde. "Aren't you dating one of those cutie pies from Bayport? What I wouldn't do to get a hold of one of those two."
"Yeah, that ain't gonna happen," Bess shook her head instantly not liking the woman. "They're both taken."
"Too bad," Whitney pouted. "But then again, so am I. So, what are you guys up to this evening? I heard something about a bachelorette party. Sounds exciting."
"And you're not invited, Whitney," Vanessa stated firmly.
"Like I really would want to go with you guys," she scoffed. "Just thought I'd say something. You know, Club Rex is very exclusive and I'm surprised that you were able to get in."
"How do you know where we're going?" Nancy asked surprised.
"I have my ways, Nancy," Whitney said smugly. "Besides, this town knows more than you think when it comes to one of its councilmen. Rumors fly all the time. Well, maybe I'll see you all there."
"There you are, Whitney!" cried a man's voice. The girls all turned to see a handsome young man of about 30 strolling toward them. He had blonde hair that was spiked and deep eyes that bored into the girls one by one. Vanessa's and Bess' mouths both dropped open in shock, a reaction that didn't go unnoticed by the young socialite.
"Jasper!" Whitney said ecstatically, snaking her arm into the crook of his. He gave her a strange look. "I am so glad to see you! I was just catching up with a couple of girlfriends here and we were just talking about you!"
"Why, yes," she purred, smiling a phony smile. "I was just telling them about our relationship and that we would be going to Club Rex tonight like you wanted to. Remember?"
"Uh, yeah," Jasper said awkwardly. He expertly moved Whitney's arm out of his then gave the girls a sparkling smile putting all of them off guard. When he spoke again, Nancy noticed the southern drawl and wondered how Whitney dated such a charming man. "It's nice to meet some of Whitney's friends. I'm Jasper Wilkes from Alabama. I'm just up here for a few days before going back home. Where y'all from?"
"Oh, it doesn't matter, sweetie," Whitney smiled. "We were just leaving."
"But I would like to get to know some of the local residents, Whitney," the young man said waving her off. "I wouldn't want to be rude to these lovely ladies."
Whitney's smiled disintegrated the moment the compliment was uttered but composed herself quickly. "Oh, I'm sorry, Jasper," she pouted, "but we have to be somewhere in a few minutes. I wouldn't want us to be late."
"Oh, right, Whitney," Jasper nodded. He looked back at the girls with a sympathetic expression. "I do apologize, ladies. I forgot we had a previous engagement that we can't be late for. I would love to get to know y'all but I guess it will have to wait. It was nice meeting everyone."
With that, Whitney snaked her arm again into his then guided him away. She turned back and smirked at the girls gleefully before disappearing into the sidewalk shoppers.
"Man, that is one nasty woman," Bess muttered. "That's the one you were telling me about, Nancy?"
"Unfortunately, yes, Bess," Nancy nodded. "When we encountered her at the faire years ago, she was pretty adamant that I was after Parker's money when it was really her. Then I found out that she was the one who pushed me into the ditch after I fell off the horse. She's vindictive and uncaring. Obviously her punishment didn't change her like it did her brother."
"How is Charlie anyway?" Candace asked. "I've been wondering about him for a while. I heard he's doing pretty good in school and is working with the Hardys."
"Yeah," Nancy said enthusiastically. She led the way down the sidewalk toward the hotel they were staying at. "He's doing really well. Who knew he'd turn out to be a computer whiz for them! And since he's off from school, he's helping the Hardys again over the summer. It's hard to believe that he only has one more year before he graduates."
"Well, we should thank Mr. Hardy for taking him under his wing," Vanessa stated. "Being away from his awful parents and sister really changed him and he's doing well."
"Oh, my gosh!" cried Candace looking at her watch in shock. "It's almost three! We have to be at the church in an hour and I wanted to change before we went over!"
"Then let's get moving!" Bess suggested quickening her pace. "I don't want to miss out on anything!"
The red light of the small room gave an eerie feeling as the man developed the pictures he had taken. Features suddenly came into being as he shifted the paper around in the solution. The photos were black and white but one could still make out the people featured.
Several young women came into focus as he hung the wet paper from the rope draped across the dark room. He smiled as he oogled at the photos, delicately hanging each one when they were done developing. His dark eyes settled on two women in a photo and he looked at them longingly. The two seemed happy, unknowing that they had been photographed at the time. One was his current target while the other turned out to be a small part of his plan though an unyielding adversary for the Bridal Killer. She was the one he had to watch for along with the two brothers whom she was friends with. The three were more than likely going to be a thorn in his side but they would be taken care of if need be. He was assured of that.
The night had finally come where his plan would go into motion. There were just a few loose ends he had to clear up before his plans fully fell into place. One of them stared at him from a photo.
For six months, the man had planned meticulously, watching his prey from a distance. Then he got close to them with no one realizing who he really was or what he was doing. The man hated how happy the couple was and how happy their friends were for them. All that happiness was about to go away and he would be the one to do it.
The smiles shined at him like beacons. He felt betrayed by them every time he saw a woman smile. It reminded him too much of the pain and embarrassment he felt on his wedding day all those years before. He vowed then that a woman would never hurt him again or any other man. To him, women held secrets from the ones they profess their love to, secrets that hurt and destroy. Even the women he was following now had secrets they kept from their significant others. At least that is what he thought.
The man put on a pair of gloves then removed a photo from its drying spot on the rope. He turned off the red light and left the room. The temporary house he was in had been conveniently vacated by its previous occupants just weeks before. It was also handy that the house was a former mortuary complete with a full basement filled with items that he could use during his time with his victims. He longed for a new woman to torture but he held his breath for six months, waiting patiently for this wedding in particular to finally come. All to throw off the police and those he preyed upon.
He sat down at a table and picked up a Sharpie that was lying in wait. The man looked at the two smiling faces staring back at him. He crossed off one then circled the other. He lifted up the photo and smiled. This night was going to go well for him but the ladies would not be so fortunate.