Read Nobody's Business Online

Authors: Carolyn Keene

Nobody's Business

Chapter

One

W
OULD YOU
take a look at this place?” Bess Marvin exclaimed. “It's so romantic!”

Nancy Drew steered her blue Mustang into the parking lot of the Lakeside Inn and parked. “You think everything's romantic,” she teased, turning to grin at her best friend. “Inns, movies, can openers, rutabagas . . .”

Giggling, Bess zipped up her fuchsia jacket and pulled her matching hat down over her long blond hair. “In this case you have to admit I'm right,” she insisted, getting out of the car.

Nancy climbed out of the driver's side and stretched her long legs, which were stiff from the hour-long drive from the girls' hometown of
River Heights, in the Midwest. The cold January wind whipped through Nancy's reddish blond hair and numbed her cheeks and hands.

“The inn
is
beautiful,” she agreed, her blue eyes gazing at the rambling old stone building nestled in a dense thicket of trees at the edge of a lake.

Two stories tall, the Lakeside Inn had turrets and gables and chimneys poking up from the sloping red clay roof, and stone terraces outside each window. To the right of the inn Nancy spotted a gazebo, a boathouse, and a pier that extended into the frozen silver lake.

“I can't wait to see the inside,” Bess said. “Ned told you Andrew has already totally gutted it, right?”

Just hearing the name of her longtime boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, made Nancy want to see him. She'd seen him only once since he'd been home on winter break from Emerson College. Ned had been spending most of his time helping to renovate the Lakeside Inn. Andrew Lock-wood, a friend of Ned's who had recently graduated from Emerson, was doing the renovation for his father, who owned the inn.

“I'm glad you suggested we pitch in and help with the renovation,” Nancy told Bess, pulling up the hood of her kelly green parka. “This way Andrew gets two extra pairs of hands, I get to spend three whole weeks with Ned . . .”

“And I get to meet Andrew,” Bess finished.
“George is going to be sorry she missed out.” George Fayne, Bess's cousin and Nancy's friend, was on a ski trip in Colorado with her parents.

Laughing, Nancy locked the car, and the two girls walked across the lot toward the inn. There were only a few cars besides Nancy's, as well as a beat-up red school bus with “TeenWorks” painted along the side. Up ahead a semicircular driveway led to the inn's front entrance, which consisted of broad granite steps and a pair of fifteen-foot-high wooden doors.

“There you are!” a deep, familiar male voice called a moment later. “What took you so long?”

Despite the cold, Nancy felt warm all over as she looked up to see her tall boyfriend, wearing jeans and a flannel shirt, standing in the inn's doorway. With his brown eyes and wavy brown hair, he looked more handsome than ever. Nancy broke into a run, her long legs speeding her up the curved driveway and into Ned's outstretched arms.

“I missed you,” she whispered into his ear as he held her close. Then she tilted back her head, and their lips met in a lingering kiss.

“That was definitely a greeting worth waiting for,” Ned said, his brown eyes sparkling down at her. “Hi, Bess,” he added, giving her a kiss on the cheek. “Come on in and meet Andrew, you guys. He's been dying to meet my girlfriend, the world-famous detective.”

Nancy blushed slightly. She had solved dozens
of cases, but she was still embarrassed by the attention she sometimes received. “For the next few days don't think of me as a detective,” she said quickly. “Think of me as a pair of helping hands. You're not the only one on break, Ned.”

“Sorry we're late,” Bess added. “I had to run some errands for my mother.”

Nancy and Bess followed Ned into the large high-ceilinged lobby. The floor was covered with sawdust, but Nancy could still see how elegant the decor had once been. On either side of the lobby an elegant staircase with a mahogany banister curved gracefully up to the second floor. An open doorway framed by marble columns led to a long hallway that ran from left to right.

Ned showed Nancy and Bess a metal rack in the lobby where they could leave their jackets. “I'll give you a complete tour later,” he told them. “Basically all the rooms facing the front are offices, and the rooms facing the lake are for guests. There's going to be a kitchen, a dining room, a ballroom, and a library, too.”

“Sounds pretty grand,” Nancy said, feeling her nose start to itch from all the sawdust. She searched in her jeans pocket for a tissue and found one just before she had to sneeze.

Bess nodded toward the curved stairways and asked, “What's upstairs?”

“Twenty bedrooms, each with a private bathroom,” Ned told her.

“Sounds like a lot of work,” Nancy commented.

Ned let out a long breath. “Tell me about it. The framework for the walls is already up, though, and we're almost finished with the electrical work,” he explained. “We've just started the plumbing. Then we plasterboard the walls.”

With a worried look at Ned, Bess said, “I hope you don't expect me to know exactly what I'm doing.”

“Andrew's got a great foreman,” Ned told her. “He'll tell you exactly what to do. Come on, let's go meet him. Andrew and some of the others are in the ballroom.”

He led them through the marble columns and made a left down the hall, which was lit only by work lights hanging from overhead beams. The corridor ran the length of the inn. Its walls were made of stone, Nancy saw, with wooden framework built against them. Electrical cables were laced through the framework.

“Wow, this place is huge,” Bess said, pausing as they went through a wide doorway. Nancy stopped next to her and looked around.

The ballroom was fifty feet long and had a vaulted ceiling that stretched the full height of the inn's two stories. An old chandelier still hung from the ceiling, but it didn't seem to be working. The room was lit by freestanding work lights. A large overhanging balcony jutted out of the left
wall, about fifteen feet up. The ballroom floor was covered with large drop cloths, but a folded corner revealed a marble floor underneath. Loud, funky music blasted from somewhere overhead.

Half a dozen teenagers on ladders were scattered around the room, attaching electrical cable to wooden frameworks like the ones Nancy had seen in the hall. A few other teens sawed copper pipes over wooden sawhorses. Several more people stood in the middle of the room, talking and looking at an unscrolled blueprint set up on a table made of two wooden sawhorses and a few sheets of plywood.

“Andrew!” Ned called over the music. “Nancy and Bess are here.”

A tall young man stepped away from the group around the blueprint and walked toward Nancy, Ned, and Bess. His straight black hair hung over his high forehead, and his hazel eyes were magnified by a pair of round, wire-rimmed glasses. He wore jeans and a black sweatshirt with white lettering that read Melborne Community Theater.

“Andrew Lockwood, meet my girlfriend, Nancy Drew,” Ned said, putting his arm around Nancy. “And this is her friend Bess Marvin.”

Andrew gave the girls a warm smile. “It's really nice of you to pitch in with the renovation,” he told them. “At the rate we're going, I can use all the help I can get.” He sighed, and several worry lines appeared on his forehead.

“What do you mean?” Nancy asked. “Aren't things going well?”

Andrew looked over his shoulder, as if to make sure no one else was near enough to overhear. “These renovations are taking a lot longer than I expected,” he confided, frowning. “They're costing a lot more, too.”

“I'm sorry to hear that,” Nancy told him.

“I wish we'd come earlier,” Bess added. “I think working here will be a lot of fun. This inn is definitely going to be great.”

From the dazzling smile Bess gave Andrew, Nancy could tell that getting to know Andrew was what Bess was really looking forward to.

Andrew didn't seem to notice her interest, however. He merely shrugged and said, “I hope so. My father will kill me if I don't come through on this within the budget he gave me.”

His last words were drowned out as the music switched to a new song with a catchy rhythm.

“Great music,” Nancy told Andrew. She nodded toward a teenage girl with waist-length blond hair who moved to the beat as she worked on her ladder. “I see it helps keep your workers going.”

“They're so young,” Bess added. “They look like they're our age.”

Andrew nodded. “They are,” he said. “My dad gave me a very limited budget for the renovation, so to save money, I'm using Teen Works. It's a vocational program for local teens, run by the county. The kids learn skills like plumbing, electrical
work, carpentry . . . and they earn money at the same time. Though, of course, they don't earn as much as union workers.”

“Don't they go to school?” Bess asked.

“This
is
school, some of the time,” Andrew said. “They have classroom training, too, but a lot of their education is on the job.”

“And that's where they
really
learn, of course,” said a voice from behind Nancy's shoulder.

Turning, Nancy saw an attractive woman who looked to be in her early thirties and had shoulder-length red hair and a light dusting of freckles on her nose. She wore a green silk blouse that brought out the green of her eyes, faded blue jeans that showed her slim figure, and shiny black lizard-skin cowboy boots.

“Nancy, Bess, this is Colleen Morgan,” Andrew said. “She's the coordinator for TeenWorks.”

Colleen laughed. “What Andrew really means is that I'm a bored housewife looking for a way to kill time,” she said, “so I volunteer.”

Raising his eyebrows skeptically, Andrew said, “ ‘Bored housewife' is hardly the term I'd use. Colleen is selflessly devoting her time to this project even though she could be jetting around the world,” he explained to Nancy and Bess. “You see, she's married to Frederick Morgan—of Morgan Lumber, Morgan Steel, Morgan Financial Services—”

“Enough!” Colleen shushed Andrew, waving a
well-manicured hand that was heavy with rings. “You're giving away my dirty secret. Well, right now I need to be jetting around this building. I want to see how the rest of the gang is doing upstairs.” With another wave of her hand, she headed for the archway leading out of the ballroom.

Nancy was impressed that this wealthy woman cared about helping others. She couldn't help thinking it would have made more sense if Colleen wore a sweatshirt and sneakers rather than her expensive outfit. Then again, maybe they
were
her casual clothes.

“Yo, Andrew,” a wiry teenage boy spoke up as he entered the ballroom and sauntered toward them. He had razor-cut platinum blond hair and wore a baggy, untucked shirt, black jeans, and a pair of purple hightop sneakers.

“I hate to bother you,” the boy said, “but it's sort of important.”

“Sure, Blaster,” Andrew said. “I want you to meet my friends, anyway.”

“Blaster?” Bess asked, looking perplexed. “Is that really your name?”

The boy flashed Bess a cocky grin and said, “It's Master Blaster, the music meister.”

“Blaster's our deejay,” Andrew explained. “He keeps music playing on his tape player while we're working.”

“The hottest mix in town,” Master Blaster added, winking at Bess. “I'm wired for sound—
when I'm not doing the electrical wiring for the inn.”

Bess's cheeks turned pink, and Nancy had to smile. It looked as if Bess had actually met a guy who was even more of a flirt than she was!

“Blaster's the assistant to the master electrician,” Andrew informed them. “He graduated from Teen Works in June, and now he's on staff.” Turning back to Blaster, he said, “So what's up? Don't tell me there's another problem.”

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