Author Note: Here is the seventh chapter. Well, it is a little bit sooner and longer so I hope that you enjoy that. Also, a bit more of the mystery begins to become unraveled. I would love to hear anything that you think about the characters, mystery, or guesses of what might happen next. Anyway I don't own Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. I hope that you enjoy this chapter!
"So why are we going back to Copper Gorge again? I'm sure the mine isn't there." Sinking down into one of the dining room chairs, Nancy gazed questioningly at Frank.
"Yeah, sometimes your ideas make no sense. That little town doesn't even have a decent food joint. How is it going to hold any more clues?" The other boy scoffed in agreement, plopping down in the seat beside her. Sucking in her breath, the excited girl refused to let her eyes drift over to him despite her joy at him being near.
"Joe, a charming, old-fashioned, homey restaurant bets a McDonalds any day." Sighing with exasperation, the older brother also sank into a padded chair. "The reason for returning is that Lori will be able to contact her father's hospital and learn about his present condition. Our cell phones don't work out here, not even the high-tech ones from ATAC so don't even bother to try."
"Wow. I hate to say this but you're good. You answered that question before it even came out of my mouth." Nodding admiringly, Joe punched his elder sibling. "Nice work, Bro! Maybe you'll have more luck with the ladies with that little mindreading thing you have going on. Think you could teach me?"
"It's not mindreading," Grimacing, the serious man rolled his eyes although his red face betrayed his embarrassment. "It's called knowing-every-word-that-will–come-out-of-your-little-brother's-mouth-because-he-doesn't-think-first."
"So what should we do on the trip back to Copper Gorge though? We have to continue to try to solve this mystery." Interrupting before an argument started, Nancy scooted in close to the table so that the brothers could no longer see each other.
"There isn't anything that we can do." Grumbling loudly, the blond swung his feet up onto the chair next to him. "We left the mine - or at least the clues to it - back in Blue Moon Canyon."
"Yes, but there are still things that we can solve on the train." Hopeful, the eager girl turned to Frank for support. Although she loved Joe Hardy, sometimes she relied on his older brother for help. However one day that would change when they were a team, a duo, the perfect pair working together to create a better world with less crime, sorrow, rage, and misery. But until that day, Nancy would just have to be patient and wait.
"There certainly are important things for us to do here." Interrupting the sleuth's daydreams, the practical boy began jotting down notes on his pad that he carried everywhere. "First, we need to speak with both Lori and Tino about what happened yesterday. Secondly, the train didn't start off automatically. Someone gave orders to the engineer or he left us of his own will. Figuring out whose idea it was to take off is important so we should question all of the passengers. Perhaps we have an unknown enemy onboard. Thirdly, we should search for anything that has to do with the "JH" on the cliff. Obviously, it stands for Jake Hurley but there might be something still uncovered on this train. Finally, we need to make a plan about how to deal with Lori's situation. Taking care of her is more important than finding the mine right now."
"I agree that we should be kind to her," Cutting off Frank's list, the girl detective licked her lips as she hesitantly began to offer her opinion. "However, solving this mystery would not only be satisfying for us but also help uncover history, give recognition to an amazing man, and help any descendants or distant relatives. Just because Lori is going through a difficult time doesn't mean that we are going to drop everything that we have been working so hard for the past week."
"Frank is right." To the great shock of the other two, the younger Hardy sided with his brother. "We need to be very tactful and caring with Lori. After all, we wouldn't be here if she hadn't invited us."
"I suppose that makes sense." Blinking rapidly, the mortified girl twisted her mouth into a smile like a well-rung dishrag. Why was her crush suddenly disagreeing with her in such a cold way? What had she said wrong?
"Thank you for your support, Joe." Gazing questioningly at his brother for a few seconds, the dark-haired man scrunched his eyebrows in thought. After a moment, realization flooded his eyes and with a darting glance at Nancy, he sank back into his seat with a sad smirk. "Well, I suppose we should then each start to inspect different train cars and interrogate the suspects in them. Before that though, Joe, you never did get a chance to tell us what you found on the rock under the initials. Lori and Tino's argument distracted us. Was there a clue to the mine's entrance?"
"Oh yeah, thanks for the reminder!" Snapping his fingers, the energetic man jolted upward in his chair. "Although I did not have much time to investigate it, strange symbols were etched into the stone over an odd shaped hole."
"Can you describe the indent or writing at all?" Eyes gleaming with anticipation, the eager sleuth forced her doubts and fears out of her mind. Right now the case trumped not only Lori but also any romantic relationship troubles or dreams.
"Well, I can't tell you anything about the scrawling because I didn't get a good look at them." Drumming his fingers on the table, Joe gazed up at the ceiling intently before smirking at the others triumphantly. "But the hole did have a very distinct star shape. In fact, it reminded me of something that I saw you carrying around earlier, Nancy."
"I have the key to opening it then!" Joyfully, the woman jumped out of her chair to engulf the younger Hardy in an impulsive hug. "We just need to decode the writing above which will probably tell me what colors to choose so that we can uncover our next clue."
"What would we do without you, Miss Drew?" Joked Joe, squeezing her back.
"Great, we can solve that as soon as we go back." Bringing the exuberant young adults back into the present, the calm boy stood up and stretched. "How about now we divide and conquer questioning suspects?"
A bit sheepish, Nancy untangled herself from the blond and got to her feet also. "How about you take Tino, Frank, since you are the best at keeping a cool head? Joe, you will easily be able to charm Charleena into talking. That leaves me with John Grey who I am very intrigued by. I wonder if he honestly believes in ghosts or is faking this whole thing for publicity. Anyway, does that sound ok to you two?"
"Sounds like a plan." With a warm smile, the older boy nodded appreciatively.
"Let's do this thing." Joe flexed his arms with a confident grin before marching out of the room.