Disclaimer:  Character contained within belong to the Stratemeyer Syndication and Simon & Schuster.  No copyright infringement is intended. 

Authors Notes:  I spent many hours in my early teen years soaking up the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Super Mysteries.  And now, I'm trying my hand at the genre.  I've never written a crime/mystery story before…most of my fan fiction is romance…so I'm eager for feedback. Thanks for taking the time out of your day.  I hope you enjoy!

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Bay of Peril

By Kristen Elizabeth

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Although it was late June, the gust of wind coming off the water was cold enough to make Nancy Drew shiver, despite her wool pants and knit sweater. 

"I know we're in San Francisco," she said to the slender, dark-haired girl sitting across from her.  "But it's still supposed to be our summer vacation."

George Fayne scooped up a spoonful of creamy clam chowder from a golden sourdough bread bowl and smiled at her best friend.  "Nan, you're the only person in the world who thinks getting involved in a mystery is a vacation." 

She had to return the smile.  It was true.  It didn't matter what time of the year it was, Nancy Drew simply couldn't resist the lure of a potential investigation.  At only twenty-one, she had already made a name for herself in the business of solving crimes.  And with the degrees she'd soon have in Criminology and Psychology, it wouldn't be long before she was a professional, rather than amateur, sleuth. 

It was because of her insatiable curiosity, and inability to turn away from a friend in need, that she found herself in San Francisco during her precious summer break with only George to keep her company.  She tore a piece out of her own bread bowl and looked around at their surroundings.  Fisherman's Wharf was bustling at lunch time, with both tourists and natives all chowing down on the city's delicious seafood delights.  They hadn't been in town long, but it had quickly become both girls' favorite place to meet for a quick meal. 

"Anything new on the case today?" George asked, watching Nancy roll the little piece of bread between her fingertips as though there was something preoccupying her mind. 

Nancy wanted to say yes, but the truth was, since arriving in town to go undercover as Nancy Freeman, apprentice chef at the hottest restaurant in town, she hadn't quite lived up to her reputation.  Although, she consoled herself, the case was a tough one. 

Victoria Lott was an old girlfriend of her dear father, Carson Drew.  After living in the Cayman Islands for several years as head chef in an expensive resort's restaurant, she'd decided to move home to America and try her hand at opening her own Caribbean fusion café in San Francisco.  With several awards for her food and several more for the restaurant itself, it seemed like Victoria had made it with the opening of Curacao. 

And that was when the incidents had started.  At first it hadn't been anything more than a copy of the restaurant's review in the local paper arriving in pieces in an unmarked envelope.  Things had gotten worse when the plug had been pulled on the kitchen's main walk-in fridge and much of the food stores had spoiled overnight. 

But when Victoria's silent business partner, Jonathan Brumby had disappeared without a trace, she'd called her old friend, Carson, and asked for help. 

Now, Nancy found herself in the middle of a mystery without many clues.  She had no ideas yet about who could want to sabotage Curacao, but whoever it was seemed to be laying low for the moment. 

"Nothing," she replied with a sigh.  "But I'll tell you one thing.  By the time I do get a lead, I'll have mastered the special sauce for the grilled shrimp and beef kebobs." 

"It's a good thing I came instead of Bess," George snickered.  "She'd ruin her diet just hanging out with you." 

The wind was pulling long strands of Nancy's strawberry hair out of her high ponytail; she pushed them off her cheeks as she laughed.  "I think even Bess would give up really good food in favor of a filming a national commercial in L.A." 

"What is she hawking again?"

"Suntan lotion."  Nancy arched an eyebrow.  "Did she tell you about the costume she has to wear for it?"

"She mentioned that she'd seen more material in a spool of thread."  George finished off her soup.  "As long as it's what she wants to do, I suppose.  Personally, I can't imagine getting in front of a camera in a thong." 

George's athletically toned body didn't have the luscious curves with which Bess was blessed, but she certainly wouldn't look bad in the costume.  Nancy just nodded her agreement.  She preferred one-piece bathing suits where everything stayed in place and covered what the world didn't need to see. 

"At least she's somewhere warm."  Nancy stretched her arms over her head, giving up the battle to keep her hair in some semblance of order.  "Her and Ned." 

A moment passed.  "Did you talk to him last night?" 

Nancy lowered her arms.  "Only for a moment.  He had to get up early this morning, and the time difference…"  She trailed off.  "George.  I think I'm losing him." 

After taking a breath, George dared to ask the question Nancy had been turning over and over in her mind for two years, ever since Ned had graduated from college and gone into law school.  "Would that be the end of the world, Nan?" 

She stared at the choppy bay for a long time.  When had it happened?  When had she and Ned Nickerson begun to grow apart?  She couldn't entirely blame him.  At the same time he'd become busy with law school, she'd immersed herself in her own classes, not to mention her amateur sleuthing adventures in between quarters and during holidays.  Their relationship might have matured in some ways, but in others, it had withered away.  She still loved him, she was sure of that.  He was more than just her boyfriend, he was her friend, her long-time support system and as of recently, her lover. 

But was she still in love with him?

Nancy looked back at George.  "I can't even imagine my life without him in it." 

"He'll always be in your life.  But relationships change over time."  She tilted her head to one side and studied her red-haired friend.  "There is no rule that says you have to spend the rest of your life with your high school sweetheart."

"I know that."  After taking a sip of her diet soda, Nancy continued, "But it's not like I could just jump into another relationship.  Ned and I have been together forever, but I'm not that needy." 

George gave her an exasperated look.  "There's nothing wrong with dating.  You're twenty-one, after all." 

"So, you're saying…cool things off with Ned…" 

"And see what else is out there." 

Back at the line of seafood venders where they'd purchased their lunch, a noise caught Nancy's attention and she craned her neck to identify it.  "I don't know if I'm ready to…"  She stopped short.  George watched as her expression went from worried to delighted.  "Oh my god!"  She jumped to her feet.  "I don't believe it!" 

George stood, frowning.  "What is it, Nan?"

"Look over there."  Nancy's eyes sparkled more than the shimmering bay waters. 

Following her line of sight, George's gaze landed on a pair of men buying crab cakes.  Both tall, one had a head of dark brown hair while the other had closely cropped blond curls.  Nancy waited until the older one turned slightly, offering them a view of his handsome profile, to continue, "It's Frank Hardy!  And Joe, of course," she quickly added.

Smiling to herself, George could only comment, "What an interesting coincidence." 

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To Be Continued