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Authors: Carolyn Keene

Flirting with Danger

BOOK: Flirting with Danger
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Chapter

One

T
HIS IS THE LIFE
,” Nancy Drew whispered to Ned Nickerson as he took a breakfast croissant from the tray held out by the uniformed maid.

Ned grinned and shrugged as he took a cheese danish from the same tray. “What can I say?” he whispered back. “I know how to pick my friends.”

Nancy and Ned had arrived at the Beverly Hills home of Josh Kline, Ned's friend and college classmate, the night before. Josh, who was majoring in filmmaking at Emerson College, had landed a summer internship at a
famous Hollywood movie studio and had moved back home for the summer. He'd invited Nancy and Ned to visit, and they were both looking forward to an exciting vacation in Southern California.

“I can't believe you're ready to graduate from high school, Rachel,” Karen Kline, Josh's mother, remarked from the end of the table. There was a rueful expression on her pretty, tan face. “It seems like yesterday that we brought you home from the hospital. Doesn't it, Allen?” she asked her husband, a lean, gray-haired man seated at her right.

Nancy looked on as Allen Kline beamed at his daughter. “We're really proud of you, Rachel.”

Rachel Kline brushed a long lock of sun-streaked blond hair away from her face and gazed straight at her father. “I know,” she said. “You've only mentioned it about fifteen times in the past week.”

There was irritation in the girl's voice, Nancy thought. Karen Kline sighed, and Allen Kline reached out for his wife's hand. Nancy exchanged a look with Ned, who gave a slight shrug. There was a short silence as Rachel stared out through the French doors of the dining room at the aquamarine waters of the
swimming pool with a distracted expression in her pretty brown eyes.

“I know I'm looking forward to going to your graduation,” Nancy put in, trying to ease the tension.

“Me, too,” Ned said. “After everything Josh has told me about Ocean Highlands High, I can't wait to see the place.”

“It is pretty amazing,” Josh said, glancing at his sister.

Rachel didn't meet his eye. Instead, she got up from the table. “If it's okay with you, I'm going to change.”

Allen Kline cleared his throat and pushed back his chair. “That's fine, Rachel. I have to get going, too.”

After Rachel and her parents had gone upstairs, Nancy and Ned lingered at the breakfast table, talking to Josh and making plans for the next few days.

“I can't wait to see the studio,” Nancy told Josh excitedly.

“What else should we do?” Ned asked his friend.

“Let's see.” Josh counted his fingers. “There's Malibu, and the tour of the stars' homes. Grauman's Chinese Theater. And you really should go up into the hills. You get a
great view of L.A. from there, especially at night. It's totally romantic.”

Ned gave Nancy a wry grin. “Now, there's an idea,” he said.

Nancy felt herself blushing but was secretly glad. Since Ned was away at school, they didn't get to spend too much time alone.

“We'll have to check it out,” she said, giving him a light kiss on the cheek. “But right now, I think I have a couple of things to do.”

She excused herself to go upstairs. After she left the spacious dining room for the entryway, Nancy glanced up at the huge crystal chandelier overhead. Like the rest of the house, it was spectacular.

Passing a mirror as she started up the elegant, curving staircase, Nancy smiled at her reflection. Her blue eyes were bright, and she'd pulled her shoulder-length, reddish blond hair back into a French braid. In a few days, she hoped, she would have a golden tan to take back to River Heights as a souvenir.

She just wished she could show this place to her best friends, Bess Marvin and George Fayne. It was as good as any of the sets on the TV soap operas.

Reaching the top of the stairs, Nancy turned left, heading toward her room. It was really more a suite than a room, with its own whirlpool
bath and a view of the tennis court and swimming pool. Her sandaled feet sank into the thick blue carpeting.

She paused outside Rachel's room to say hello because the girl's door was open.

“Dennis, I can't do that!” came Rachel's voice, her tone hushed and serious. “You don't know how my parents are counting on this. I can't let them down!”

Just then Rachel turned and saw Nancy standing in the hallway, peering into her room. Her brown eyes widened with alarm, but in a flash she recovered and managed a shaky smile.

“Listen, I've got to go. I'll talk to you later,” she said. Without another word she hung up the phone and turned to Nancy with a perfect smile. “One of my friends is a little nervous about the ceremony,” she explained lightly. “He has to make a speech.”

It occurred to Nancy that Rachel might be hiding something. She seemed too quick to explain away her conversation. Maybe it was nothing, but Nancy didn't think she had mistaken the troubled look in the girl's eyes.

Rachel went to her closet and took out a beautiful white dress with a pink satin sash. “I'll be wearing this to the graduation party,” she said. “What do you think?”

“It's great,” Nancy answered. Then she lifted one hand in a wave. “I'll let you go now. I'm sure you have a lot to do.”

Rachel nodded. “I've got to go over to the school and pick up my cap and gown, for one thing,” she said, sounding rushed and jittery. “And then there's my hair. . . .”

Nancy grinned. She could remember how nervous she'd been for her high school graduation. Maybe it was just edginess that was making Rachel act a little weird. She headed on to her own room, where she chose a turquoise sundress for the afternoon graduation ceremony. Then she flopped down on the bed to write postcards to her dad and George and Bess back home in River Heights. The girls would love to know what it was like to be a guest in a Beverly Hills mansion.

As she wrote Nancy kept pausing to think. She was sure she'd heard a note of desperation and fear in Rachel's voice while she was talking to her friend Dennis on the phone. Just what was it that Rachel couldn't do?

• • •

Several hours later the gym at Ocean Highlands High School was crowded with well-dressed, tanned people who all seemed to be talking at once. Nancy, standing beside Ned, craned her neck, trying to find Rachel among
the eager seniors. The ceremony was going to begin in a few minutes, and there was no sign of her.

Ned took Nancy's arm and pulled her aside by the doors, which opened onto a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean. In the dazzling June sunshine, the sea looked as turquoise as Nancy's dress.

“Okay, Drew,” he said, his eyes dancing with amusement, “what's bugging you?”

Nancy didn't even try to sidestep the question. Ned knew her too well for that. “I was looking for Rachel just now because I was worried about her. When I was passing her room this morning, I overheard her talking on the phone. She was really upset, Ned.”

Ned frowned. “About what?”

“I don't know,” Nancy said. “It was more her tone of voice than what she said. She sounded really scared.”

“What did she say?”

“Something like, I can't do that—you don't know how much this means to my parents.' ” Just then Nancy spotted Mr. and Mrs. Kline in the group of parents, guests, and graduates. They appeared to be anxious and a little worried as they approached Nancy and Ned.

“Have either of you seen Rachel?” Karen Kline asked them.

“No,” Ned answered, trying to smile reassuringly. “She's got to be around here somewhere. After all, this is her big day.”

“We'll help look, if you like,” Nancy volunteered.

Mrs. Kline nodded gratefully. “That would be wonderful, Nancy,” she responded. “Thank you.”

“You go this way,” Nancy told Ned, pointing to her right, “and I'll head over there. By the time we meet at the other end of the gym, we'll have found Rachel.”

“Okay,” Ned agreed, and he took off after the missing graduate.

Rachel was nowhere. Nancy even checked the girls' bathroom and backstage in the auditorium, where the ceremony would be held.

Nancy was really getting worried by the time she returned to the gym and found Ned. He hadn't had any better luck. Josh was with Ned, but he didn't share everyone else's concern.

“Don't worry about it, Nancy,” Josh said. “Rachel likes being center stage too much to miss her own graduation. When her name is called, she'll be there to get her diploma.”

Josh seemed pretty confident his sister would show up. “I hope you're right,” Nancy said as Ned took her hand and led her into the auditorium after the Klines.

As soon as the crowd was seated the principal of Ocean Highlands High, Mr. Jeffries, greeted them. Then he introduced the valedictorian, who made the first speech. After several more speeches and award presentations, it was time for the graduates to get their diplomas.

The Klines and Ned and Nancy waited eagerly for Rachel's name to be announced.

“Rachel Kline!” Mr. Jeffries finally called out.

None of the students seated in front of the small stage stood up.

“Rachel Kline,” the principal repeated, and still there was no response. There was a buzz in the audience, though.

Ned and Nancy exchanged a look. Josh bit his lower lip and glanced over at his father. Karen Kline sat up in her chair, her eyes desperately scanning the group of students in their caps and gowns.

“Rachel Kline!” the principal tried one last time, but the pretty blond girl didn't appear.

“Something terrible has happened, I just know it,” Mrs. Kline whispered, her lips trembling. “Rachel's gone!”

Chapter

Two

A
LLEN
K
LINE
looked at his wife with a confused expression on his face. “There has to be a reasonable explanation, Karen,” he whispered. “Maybe she got sick—”

“She probably thought she had time to go for a soda,” Josh said, trying to comfort his mother.

“I'm sure she's okay,” Nancy said. Inside, though, she wondered. Could this have something to do with the conversation she'd overheard earlier?

Around them, the graduation was continuing.
“Come on,” Nancy said to Ned. “Let's go out with the Klines.”

Ned nodded, and they stood up to follow Allen Kline as he steered his wife out of the auditorium. Josh followed.

Outside in the hall, Karen Kline's face was pale beneath her carefully applied makeup. She reached out for her husband's hand. “I just know something terrible has happened—she'd
never
miss her own graduation!”

Ned spoke up. “Listen, Josh, I think your parents should go home and wait there to see if your sister calls. We can look for her.”

“Great idea, Ned,” Nancy said. “There's no point in your hanging around hete,” she told the Klines reassuringly.

BOOK: Flirting with Danger
7.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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