Muscular 18-year-old Frank Hardy smiled to himself as he flipped through a catalogue. 'Callie would like this one,' he thought as he looked at the picture. Then he saw the price, $6,700.
"Whoa!" he said with a whistle. His 17-year old brother, Joe, looked up from watching television.
"Hey are you looking at the swimsuit catalogue?" Joe asked hopefully as he was very bored at the moment because everything was re-runs.
"No," Frank replied slipping the catalogue further behind his calculus book.
"What are you looking at then?" Joe asked, his mischievous blue eyes twinkling.
"None of your business. Go away!" Frank demanded firmly.
Joe looked at his brother thoughtfully then a light glistened in his eyes. He walked over to the sofa and sat beside his brother.
"It's about Callie isn't it?" Joe asked slyly.
Worry flickered across Frank's face. "No it's not," he lied. Joe noticed Frank's reaction and pushed on.
"You're getting her a present," Joe announced in a sing-song voice. Frank grimaced. Sometimes Joe could be very annoying! Trying to ignore his little brother, Frank started gathering his books.
Joe reached over before Frank could stop him and grabbed the book hiding the magazine.
"Nobody is THAT interested in calculus on a Saturday afternoon when they have a date they think is really hot that night," Joe defiantly told Frank as he riffled through the book's pages.
Suddenly, the catalogue fell to the floor. Both boys scrambled to reach it first. Frank gave a sigh of relief as he held the smooth pages in his hand. But, his joy was short lived. The catalogue was torn away from his fingers. A triumphant Joe held it over his head. His deep blue eyes sparkled with anticipation. Then, he bolted from the room, with Frank hot on his heals.
"Give it back!" Frank yelled. Joe only shook his head and raced into the kitchen, straight into their father, Fenton Hardy. Fenton abruptly snatched the catalogue away from Joe.
Frank felt his heart drop to his feet. 'Just great,' he thought. 'Now everyone will know.'
"What's going on?" Laura panted breathlessly running in the backdoor. She pulled her garden gloves off and laid them on the counter. "It sounded like someone was being murdered," she exclaimed.
Joe's face turned red, and he began to explain what happened. "But it's Franks fault," he concluded. "If he'd just told me what he was looking at…" Joe left off.
"Joseph Michael Hardy!" Joe winced. His mother only used his entire name when he was in BIG trouble. "You're too old to act like that."
Fenton just shook his head and sighed. 'Would Joe ever grow up and act his age?' he wondered as Laura continued to scold Joe. Fenton casually glanced at the magazine that had begun all this trouble. He expected it to be about cars or girls. He read the title and squinted. Then he reread it just to be sure: Bayport's finest engagement and wedding rings. Shocked, he looked up at his oldest son.
Frank had been waiting for his father's reaction. He met Fenton's gaze with a determined stare, waiting for him to ask the unavoidable question.
"Frank? Why are you looking at engagement rings?" Fenton didn't know why he asked the question. He already knew the answer from Frank's steady glare.
Frank glanced at his mother and Joe who stood frozen with shock. He took a deep breath and answered. "I'm going to ask Callie to marry me," he announced.
"No!" Fenton proclaimed. "I will not have my only son getting married right after graduation. What about your college? And joining the detective agency?"
"We'll be engaged for awhile and I'll have my scholarship. There's no reason why I can't marry Callie. I still want to work with you. I…" as Frank continued his argument, Joe watched in amazed silence.
Suddenly, Fenton's words sank in. Joe felt his heart skip a beat. His knees were weak but his voice was strong and firm as he looked directly into his father's eyes. "What do you mean ONLY son!"
Frank stopped talking. His eyes grew larger by the second. Laura looked crushed as she sank into a nearby chair.
Joe stared at his mother. His face was full of hurt and confusion. His ice blue eyes were so intense it was impossible to look at them. Laura turned her head away. Joe turned to Fenton, clutching his fists so tight that the knuckles were turning white and the veins were bulging.
Fenton stood looking helpless and defeated as he realized what he had said. Not knowing what to say he remained silent.
Realizing his father wasn't going to give him any answers, Joe again faced his mother. "What's going on? Why did Dad call Frank his only son? Why is everyone acting so weird?" he pleaded.
Laura's breath caught in her chest. This was the one thing that she never wanted to have to answer. Butterflies rose in her stomach. She looked past Joe at her husband, silently asking him what to do. Fenton shrugged his shoulders and nodded his head. Laura then looked at Joe. She knew it would hurt him. She said a silent prayer then dropped the bomb, "Joe dear," she paused trying to find a better way to put this.
Joe's heart was thumping madly. What was she going to say? During all his many life and death experiences he'd never felt more fear than what he felt at this moment. Sweat gathered on his fore head as he watched Laura struggling to find what ever it was she was looking for. Finally, he couldn't stand the suspense anymore. "JUST TELL ME!" he exploded, his face turning red from anger and frustration.
Laura gulped and gave Fenton a frustrated stare. Then she turned to Joe. "Joe you were adopted."