Authors: Carolyn Keene
in October? George, we
be out of our minds!” Laughing, Nancy Drew turned to her friend and held up a blue-and-white top. “Do you think this top and these shorts will be right for tonight?”
George Fayne shook her head in mock dismay as she eyed Nancy's lightweight clothes. “I know tonight's dance at the club has a beach theme, but I'm wearing a heavy coat.”
“Good idea,” Nancy agreed. The entirety of Nancy's summer wardrobe was strewn across her bedroom. She pulled the gauzy blue-and-white midriff blouse over her head and slipped into a
pair of denim cutoffs. George was already wearing her outfit for the evening, a cute white tennis dress with a flared skirt. “I can't wait to see what Bess will be wearing for her debut at the Razor's Edge,” Nancy continued. “She's been keeping me in suspense all week.”
The Razor's Edge was a popular teen dance club in River Heights. Nancy's friend and George's cousin, Bess Marvin, was going to start a new job there that night.
“Speaking of suspense,” George said as she smoothed the pleats on her skirt, “I don't know what kind of job Bess has at the club. She's been very mysterious about the whole thing.”
“Well, I can solve that mystery. She's a theme hostess, which means she organizes and dresses up in costumes for special theme parties. Like tonight's beach night,” Nancy explained. She dropped onto a little padded stool in front of her dressing table and ran a brush through her thick strawberry blond hair. “She must have come up with quite an outfit, to keep it a secret all week.”
“They're actually paying her to stand around in a costume all night?” George sounded disbelieving. “Only Bess could land a job like that,” she added with a mischievous grin. “How did she land that job, anyway?”
“I think she answered an ad in the paper.”
Nancy glanced at her watch. “Oops, it's almost eight o'clock. We'd better get going.”
The two friends left Nancy's bedroom and headed downstairs. In the front hall they met Hannah Gruen, the Drews' housekeeper. “ââBye, Hannah.” Nancy gave Hannah a quick hug. “Just pretend you don't see how messy my room isâI'll pick it up when I come home!”
“I'll put blinders on till you get back,” Hannah joked. The cheerful housekeeper had been with the Drew family for years, ever since Nancy's mother had died when Nancy was very young. Hannah shook her head at the skimpy outfits that Nancy and George were wearing. “Party or no party, I'm afraid you two will catch your death of cold,” she fretted.
Nancy pulled a heavy coat out of the closet as George slipped into hers. “Don't worry, Hannah,” Nancy said, “we'll be warm as toast in these.”
After waving goodbye to Hannah, Nancy and George stepped outside and decided to take Nancy's car, a blue Mustang. Fifteen minutes later Nancy turned the car onto a downtown street. “I think the Razor's Edge is somewhere around here,” Nancy said, peering through the windshield. “I don't know why we haven't tried it out before now.”
“I don't think it's been open too long,” George commented. “Dance clubs seem to open and close quickly.”
By this time in the evening, most of the shops and businesses were closed, their windows dark and still. As Nancy guided the car around another corner, she and George could see lights and people spilling onto the street in front of them. “That must be it,” Nancy said, nosing the Mustang into a space beside the curb. “I didn't realize there'd be such a big crowdâBess was certainly right about this place being popular!”
Wedged between two taller buildings, the Razor's Edge had a sleek facade of granite and glass. A crowd of teens all wearing summer clothes underneath jackets were lined up in front of a tall, burly doorman who was blocking the entrance. The doorman sported a curly black beard and seemed to be in his early thirties.
“Why isn't he letting people in?” George asked. “Isn't it time for the dance party to start?”
“Bess said the doors would open at eight forty-five, and not a moment sooner,” Nancy explained. “I think the managers like to build up anticipation in the crowd before anyone goes inside.”
Nancy and George joined the line. “I can't wait to get in,” Nancy overheard a young lady
saying excitedly to a friend. “I'm such a fan of that French DJ they've got. Etienne Girard. He really
By now the crowd had doubled. A stocky, curly haired guy who was holding a camera lost his balance and tripped over one of the velvet ropes that was separating the club-goers from the entrance. He wore glasses and seemed about twenty years old.
“Get back, you!” the doorman snapped, seizing him roughly by the shoulder and shoving. The guy's face reddened, and he quickly straightened up and slid back into line.
George's dark brown eyes flashed with anger. “That was uncalled for, shoving that guy that way,” she muttered to Nancy.
“You're right, George,” Nancy replied. The doorman was obviously carried away with his job, Nancy decided. She glanced at the curly haired guy to make sure he was okay. He had lowered his head to hide his embarrassment, but he seemed to be unhurt. Just then the double entrance doors were thrown open, and the teens began streaming inside.
Once inside, everyone stood in another line in the front lobby to drop off coats and jackets with a young woman who was wearing a striped bikini and a welcoming smile. Nancy and George then
followed the crowd onto the floor, where they were instantly surrounded by dancers.
The air itself seemed to vibrate with the driving music. Nancy looked around. Real palm trees in planters and man-made Styrofoam boulders were scattered about the edges of a large multileveled dance floor. Here and there throughout the room there were metal steps leading to raised dance platforms, where couples could show off their best dance moves.
The beam of a roving spotlight swept across the room. Those who weren't dancing had picked up creamy tropical drinks and were moving to tables that were jammed against the far wall, directly across from the main entrance. A beach scene from some old surfing movie was being projected onto the wall behind the tables. The entire space had the look of a fun day at the beach.
Nancy nodded toward a set of metal stairs that led up to one of the dance platforms. “Let's climb up there and look around,” she said. She and George went up the steps. After dodging the sharp elbows of a guy who was dancing with wild abandon, Nancy and George pushed over to the railing and leaned against it to survey the crowd below.
“Send that guy back to dancing school,” George muttered under her breath as the wild dancer fell against her during an off-center spin.
Nancy grinned. “He must have been born with two left feet,” she replied.
A tall boy, whom Nancy recognized from her high school class, materialized at her side. “Want to dance?” he asked.
Nancy smiled. “Maybe later, okay? Right now I have to find somebody.” She eased away and descended the steps with George. “Let's find Bess,” she shouted to George so she could be heard above the music. “I haven't spotted her yet.”
Maneuvering across the crowded floor toward the far wall, Nancy spotted a glass-enclosed booth that housed a complicated-looking control panel. Inside the booth was a cool guy, about twenty-one years old. He had a shaved head, a single dangling earring, and wore a wild, orchid-colored shirt. Weaving and bopping to the music, he was holding one end of a set of headphones to his ear while he pressed some blinking lights on the panel.
That must be Etienne, the DJ the girl had mentioned in line, Nancy thought. He was certainly doing a great job that evening. The floor
was crammed with dancers swaying and writhing to the music, which was a driving mix of technopop and snippets of old sixties songs. The effect was a compelling mixture of sound unlike anything that Nancy had heard before. She felt her feet itching to dance, and she began to regret turning down the guy who had asked her earlier.
George tapped Nancy's arm to get her attention. “There's Bess, over there by that door,” she said, pointing toward a side exit to their left. “And
what she's wearing!”
Nancy turned her head to focus on where George was pointing. “Wow!” she exclaimed.
Bess was sitting high atop one of the larger Styrofoam boulders. She was dressed in a glittering silver mermaid outfit over a flesh-colored body stocking. Tiny seashells and flowers were artfully woven into her long blond hair, which was plaited in a single braid.
Nancy and George threaded their way across the crowded dance floor to speak with Bess.
“Hi, you guys!” Bess enthusiastically waved a tail fin at Nancy and George as they approached. “Isn't the music awesome?”
“Bess, you look absolutely incredible,” Nancy said, smiling. “That outfit is terrific.”
There was a soft, popping sound to Nancy's
right. Bess's welcoming smile froze into a startled expression as a camera flash illuminated her face for a moment.
“Thanks for the picture, Bess,” a male voice broke in. Nancy turned and recognized the curly haired guy who had tripped over the velvet rope while standing in line earlier that evening. “I'm just taking some shots for my photo album,” he explained with a shy smile.
“Sure thing,” Bess replied, blinking slightly from the flash. He gazed at Bess for a second, then disappeared into the crowd.
“You know that guy?” Nancy asked curiously.
Bess shrugged. “His name's Tom something. Tom Kragen, I think. He's just a goofy guy from my riding club who's asked me out a couple of times. I've tried to discourage him without hurting his feelings.”
“Another candidate for your fan club, Bess?” George asked with a sly grin.
Ugh! No way!” Bess sputtered.
A tall, olive-skinned man wearing a red silk shirt and gray tinted glasses approached the girls. He appeared to be in his late twenties. “How's your first night going, Bess?” he asked in greeting.
“Just great,” Bess replied. She turned to her
friends. “Nancy, Georgeâthis is Lonnie Cavello. He owns the
âthat's what the in crowd calls the Edge.”
Lonnie shook hands with Nancy and George. “Bess is our star of the evening,” Lonnie said in a friendly fashion. “Because what's a beach party without a mermaid?” He glanced at his watch. “I guess I'd better check with our doorman, Lucas, to find out how big this crowd is getting. We don't want any trouble with the fire marshal tonight.” He waved and headed for the front lobby.
“Fire marshal?” Nancy asked. “What's that all about?”
“Lonnie told me there's a maximum number of people the club can hold, or else the fire department can come in and shut the club down,” Bess explained. “The city is pretty strict about its fire regulations.”
The guy who had asked Nancy to dance earlier that evening reappeared with a friend, and soon Nancy and George were hitting the dance floor, relaxing, and having a good time.
The DJ had just begun a new music set when Nancy caught a whiff of something that smelled medicinal and vaguely sweet. She briefly wondered where the odor might be coming from.
Just then the music died abruptly, and the
dance floor was plunged into darkness. Several dancers let out excited cries.
Then Nancy heard another, more alarming soundâthe sound of a dull thud, followed by a frightened scream for help. Nancy's stomach contracted with fearâthe cry for help sounded as if it was coming from Bess!