Making Waves, page 1
WOW! A cruise on a sailboat,” Bess Marvin said to her friend Nancy Drew. “That’s my idea of a perfect spring vacation!” She spoke loudly to be heard above the wind and tried to keep her blond hair from flying everywhere by holding it in a ponytail with one hand.
The two girls were in the backseat of a white Cadillac convertible with the top down. In front, Bess’s new boyfriend, Parker Wright, and Nancy’s longtime boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, were talking to Parker’s cousin Andy Devereux, who was driving.
Andy and his parents had invited Parker, Bess, Nancy, and Ned to stay with them in Annapolis, Maryland, over the boys’ spring break from Emerson College. As the Cadillac sped down the Baltimore-Washington Highway on the way from the airport, Nancy couldn’t help feeling excited. Not only were they on vacation, but they were going to help Andy sail his new boat, the Skipper’s Surprise, in an upcoming regatta, the first sailboat race of the Annapolis Spring Series.
“It’s not exactly a cruise, Bess,” Nancy said. The wind had whipped Nancy’s reddish gold hair into tangles, but the salty air felt invigorating. “If we’re going to help crew Andy’s boat for the race, that means ‘trimming the mainsail’ and ‘grinding the jib.’ ”
Bess made a face. “You can trim and grind all you want. I’m going to put on my new bikini and get a tan.”
Nancy laughed. She knew Bess had spent days picking out the perfect bathing suit, even though Nancy had warned her that Maryland spring weather would be too chilly for sunbathing.
“When we race, I’ll mainly need you guys for ballast,” Andy called over his shoulder. In his midtwenties, Andy had the same reddish hair and athletic build as his cousin Parker.
“Ballast?” Bess repeated, arching an eyebrow. “Is that something I can do while I’m sunbathing?”
Parker grinned and turned around to look at Bess. “Ballast is something heavy to help steady the boat and keep it balanced,” he explained.
Bess tapped him on the shoulder, a look of mock anger in her blue eyes. “Parker! Are you calling me heavy?”
“No way! You’re perfect, Bess Marvin, and you know it.” Parker’s green eyes twinkled as he ran a hand through his thick hair. He and Bess had been dating only a short while, but Nancy could tell they really liked each other.
“Nancy and I both have some sailing experience,” Ned reassured Andy. The wind had ruffled his brown hair into waves. Nancy was glad the two of them were finally getting to spend some time together. Her last case had been grueling for all four of them—Parker had been falsely accused of murdering a teaching assistant at Emerson College in a case Nancy called Power of Suggestion. Nancy was glad for the chance to really relax now.
Andy nodded. “Good. Nick Lazlo, my partner, is the skipper of the Skipper’s Surprise. He’ll be happy to have experienced sailors to crew. After a while, family and friends get sick of racing.”
“You and Nick have a sailboat-building business, right?” Nancy asked, leaning forward in the back seat. Parker had told them a little about Andy’s business during the flight to Maryland from the Midwest.
“Right. It’s called Lazlo Designs,” Andy replied. “Nick’s the designer. I handle the sales and business end. Nick’s got some great ideas that we’re trying out on the Skipper’s Surprise. In fact, the Surprise is our prototype for a new line of boats we’re calling the Niean Forty. If she performs as well as we hope in Sunday’s race, we’ll start manufacturing the boats this summer.”
“And make a fortune,” Parker finished for his cousin. “I’ve seen the plans for the Nican Forty. She’s going to be comfortable, fast, and beautiful.”
“I get it!” Bess exclaimed. “Nican. You took the first three letters of Nick’s name and the first two of yours, Andy, right?”
“Not only is she cute, but smart, too!” Parker said, shooting Bess a teasing smile.
Andy chuckled. “This is the Severn River,” he announced, steering the Cadillac onto a bridge.
Nancy glanced down at the wide expanse of calm brown water. After crossing the river, Andy turned onto a road that ran near the river. Fifteen minutes later, he was steering down a long drive flanked with azaleas, rhododendrons, and holly trees.
“Aunt Julie and Uncle Robert are happy to have all of us stay at their place,” Parker told Ned, Nancy, and Bess. “They get lonely with Andy working all the time.”
“They’re not going to be lonely today,” Andy said. “I forgot to tell you guys—they’re throwing a big preregatta party later this afternoon at the house.”
“Sounds great!” Nancy said. A moment later, she straightened as the Devereux’ house came into view. The stately three-story white brick mansion was set back from the road. A huge expanse of sweeping lawn led up to the house. Andy pulled around the circular drive and stopped in front of marble stairs that led to a pillared porch.
“Wow,” Bess gasped. “I feel as if I died and woke up as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind!”
Laughing, Nancy climbed out after her friend. Ned was already helping Andy and Parker unload the suitcases from the trunk.
“Parker, why don’t you take Ned around to the guest house where you’ll be staying?” Andy suggested. “Bess, you and Nancy will be in the south wing here at the house. That way you’ll be able to look out over the river.”
The four teens made plans to meet up in the house before the party. Then Nancy and Bess followed Andy up the porch steps.
When they stepped inside, Nancy stopped short, exchanging an amazed glance with Bess. The marble-tiled foyer was about the size of her entire living room back in River Heights, Nancy thought. A crystal chandelier sparkled over her head, and ornate gilt mirrors surrounded her on two sides. In front of her, a mahogany stairway spiraled to the second floor.
Before the girls could comment, an attractive middle-aged woman with stylish silver-streaked blond hair came walking into the foyer from a hallway beyond the stairs. She was wearing a casual skirt and blouse and deck shoes. “You made it,” the woman said, giving the girls a welcoming smile as she approached them. “I’m so pleased you could come.”
“Aunt Julie, meet Bess and Nancy, friends of Parker’s,” Andy introduced the girls.
Nancy shook the older woman’s hand. “We’re glad to be here, Mrs. Devereux. Your house is beautiful!”
“Thank you.” The older woman beamed at the compliment. “Sorry my husband isn’t here to greet you, but he’s out supervising the caterers. The party starts in an hour, so you might want to settle in before the guests start arriving.”
Bess and Nancy thanked her, then Andy led the girls up the curved staircase. An Oriental runner stretched the length of the upstairs hallway. Andy stopped at the second door, opened it, and waved the girls inside.
“Wow! Is this a room or a museum?” Bess exclaimed.
Andy laughed as he set down Bess’s suitcase. “Both. My parents collect antiques.”
“It’s really beautiful,” Nancy said, looking around. There was a mahogany bed on each side of the room. In the middle was a sitting area of four wing chairs, all flanking a marble fireplace. Ornate mirrors hung on the walls, and double doors led to a balcony overlooking the back lawn.
“Don’t forget, the party starts in an hour,” Andy reminded them. “I’ll see you then.”
After he left, Nancy walked over to the balcony doors. She pushed them open and stepped outside. A large striped tent had been raised on the lawn below, and a band was setting up on a patio by the pool. Several white-coated men and women were running around with chairs, glasses, and trays. A short man with steel gray hair wearing a cardigan and white slacks seemed to be directing the workers. Nancy guessed he must be Parker’s uncle Robert.
Beyond the tents, t
“Pinch me, so I’ll know if I’m dreaming,” Bess said as she came out to stand beside Nancy.
“You’re not,” Nancy assured her friend.
“Then I’d better find something to wear to the party,” Bess said, surveying the activity on the lawn. “From the look of it, this is going to be some blow-out!”
• • •
“That afternoon the wind was blowing so hard and the rain was coming down so heavily that I couldn’t see or hear a thing! It’s a wonder we didn’t run aground.”
Nancy sat forward in her poolside chair, fascinated by the sailing story that Nick Lazlo was telling her, Bess, Parker, and Ned. Nick was already there when the teens had gone out to the lawn an hour earlier. After Nancy, Bess, and Ned had met Andy’s father, they’d been introduced to Nick Lazlo. Since then, they hadn’t stopped talking to him.
Nancy thought Nick looked every bit the sailor. Tall, lean, and handsome, he already had a dark tan, and squint lines surrounded his light blue eyes. He was dressed in white denims, a long-sleeved blue denim shirt, and deck shoes.
“So what did you do?” Bess asked breathlessly. She leaned forward, smoothing the skirt of her pink minidress.
Nick shrugged. “We pulled down the spinnaker, reefed the mainsail, and won the race! But only because most of the other boats got lost or quit,” he added with a chuckle.
“Uh, are you girls ready for lobster and crab cakes yet?” Parker interrupted. He and Ned were standing behind Nancy and Bess, holding plastic cups of punch.
Nancy jumped up from the lounge chair she’d been sitting on. “Oh, sorry. I’d almost forgotten about food.”
“Me, too, if you can believe it.” Bess added. “But now that you mention lobster . . .
“You guys better sample the Devereux’ great food, then,” Nick suggested. “I’m glad I’ll have you along to crew on Sunday,” he added. “Hey, maybe we should take the Skipper’s Surprise out for a trial run tomorrow. We can pack a picnic and make a day of it.”
“Sounds like fun,” Bess and Nancy chorused.
Nick crossed his arms over his chest and glanced around. “Now I’ve got to find some rival skippers so I can razz them about how I’m going to win the regatta.” He strode off in the direction of the tent.
“He’s got some wild stories,” Parker said. “It’s no wonder, though. Nick and Andy have both been sailing since they were kids.”
“Mmm,” Ned said distractedly, glancing toward the buffet tables. “Let’s get something to eat and then enjoy the band.”
“Good idea,” Nancy agreed. “How about if I get some drink refills?” She started to gather her friends’ empty cups. “I’ll meet you at the buffet.”
“I’ll help,” Ned offered.
As they started toward the tent-covered bar area, Ned took two of the cups so he could hold her hand. “Ah, alone at last,” he whispered.
Nancy stood on tiptoe to press a quick kiss to his lips. “Sorry if I got preoccupied by all those racing stories. The people here seem really serious about Sunday’s race.”
“Mm-hmm,” Ned agreed. “Maybe we’re not expert enough to crew for Andy and Nick. After all, it isn’t just the race they want to win, they also want the publicity and recognition for their boat.”
“I was thinking the same thing.” Nancy said as they approached the bar. When she handed the glasses to the bartender, a loud voice behind the tent caught her attention.
“The Surprise is going to be so far ahead, you won’t be able to catch her,” Nick Lazlo was boasting. Nancy put a hand on Ned’s arm. When he turned to look at her, she held a finger to her lips and nodded toward the back of the tent.
“Oh yeah, Lazlo? Just wait,” another voice growled. “Your Nican Forty’s no big deal.”
Nancy’s eyes widened at the person’s angry tone. “I’m sick of listening to you boast that you’re going to beat everyone, Lazlo. In fact, I’ll do anything to make sure you don’t win. Anything!”
NANCY STOOD STILL, waiting to hear more. What did the angry person mean when he said he’d do anything to keep Lazlo from winning? And who was the person?
“What’s going on?” Ned whispered.
Nancy gave a bewildered shrug, then picked up two cups of punch. By now the voices had fallen silent. Curious, she walked toward the end of the tent to see if she could catch a glimpse of Lazlo and the person arguing with him.
As she rounded the edge of the bartender’s table, Nick Lazlo barreled from the other side of the tent and crashed into Nancy. Punch flew everywhere, splashing on her denim skirt and bare legs. With a terse apology, Nick pushed past her, then disappeared in the crowd.
What’s going on? Nancy wondered. She stepped over the spilled cups and quickly walked to the back of the tent, followed by Ned. No one was there. Whoever had been arguing with Lazlo had done a disappearing act, too.
“Are you all right?” Ned asked. “Nick almost ran you down.”
“I’m fine,” Nancy replied. “But I don’t think Nick is. Did you hear what that guy said to him? He told Nick he’d do anything to keep him from winning.”
“They must have been talking about Sunday’s race,” Ned said. “Maybe we should mention it to Andy. But right now we’d better get more punch. Parker and Bess are probably wondering what happened to us.”
• • •
Ten minutes later Nancy and Ned were sitting with Bess and Parker around a poolside table. The band was playing oldies as the setting sun cast golden shadows over the pool.
“Wow. That argument does sound a little more heated than the usual sailing talk,” Parker said after Ned and Nancy told him about the exchange they’d overheard. With a shrug, Parker added, “But who knows. Lazlo’s always been single-minded about winning.”
Nancy picked up a stuffed mushroom from the platter of food on their table. “We noticed. In fact, Ned and I were worried that since this race is so important to Andy and Nick, maybe we shouldn’t crew for them. After all, we’re not that experienced.”
Parker waved a toothpick with a meatball on the end of it. “Don’t worry about that. Both Andy and Nick are fantastic sailors. They could almost race alone. You guys will mostly be along for encouragement and—”
“Ballast?” Bess joked.
Bess punched his arm, then dipped a forkful of lobster into butter. “Ah, this is the life.”
Ned finished eating a crab cake and scanned the partygoers. “Where’s Andy, anyway? I haven’t seen him since he dropped us off this afternoon.”
“Good question,” Parker replied.
“Are you guys talking about me?” a voice asked.
Turning in her seat, Nancy saw Andy standing behind her. Beside him, holding tightly to his arm, was a tall woman wearing a clingy red minidress. She was a thin woman in her midtwenties, with short, spiky streaked brown hair, model-like cheekbones, and eyes that were an unusual gold color. Her lips glistened with bright red lipstick. Despite her flashy appearance, Nancy thought that the woman was strikingly beautiful.
“I’d like you guys to meet Annabel Lazlo,” Andy said as he introduced them one by one. “Annabel: is Nick’s wife.”
Nick’s wife? Nancy thought. For a married woman, she seemed awfully interested in Andy Devereux. From the surprised looks on her friends’ faces, Nancy guessed that they were thinking the same thing.
“Where is Nick, anyway?” Andy continued. He looked a little embarrassed at the close way Annabel held his arm.
“He got in an argument. We think he left,” Parker told his cousin.
Annabel snorted. “That sounds like Nick. He’s been itching for an argument all day.” Her voice was husky. Squeezing Andy’s arm, she nodded toward the bar table. “Andy, why don’t you be a dea
“Sure thing. Refills for anyone else?” Andy looked around, but they all shook their heads. When he left, Annabel slipped into an extra chair.
“How have you been, Parker?” Annabel asked.
“Fine,” Parker answered.
There was a moment of awkward silence, which Nancy finally broke. “So, Annabel,” she said. “What do you think of the Skipper’s Surprise?”
Slowly Annabel swiveled her head toward Nancy. “I don’t think about sailboats at all,” she replied disdainfully. She looked up as Andy reappeared, holding two plastic cups. “Ah, there you are.” She gave him a bright smile as she took one of the cups.
Andy pulled over a chair from another table and sat down. “Nick could’ve gotten in an argument with half the people at the party,” he said. “Sailors are like bulldogs when it comes to their boats.”
“Nick did say something earlier about razzing some of the other skippers,” Nancy recalled.
“Actually, I wouldn’t mind getting a look at this boat Nick’s been boasting about,” Ned said.
Andy jumped up, a look of excitement lighting his face. “Do you really want to see her?”
“Sure!” Bess pushed away her plate and stood up. Soon only Annabel was still seated.
“I’ll wait here,” Annabel said, sighing deeply. “Don’t be too long, Andrew,” she added coyly.
Andy flushed. He definitely seemed uncomfortable with Annabel’s behavior. “Maybe Nick will be back by then,” he said to her. Then he led the way through the crowd and down to the river.
Nancy reached for Ned’s hand as they walked beside Parker and Bess. With a light tug, Ned held her back a little. A smiling sliver of a moon was coming up in the evening sky. As Ned pressed his lips to hers in a lingering kiss, Nancy felt a familiar thrill pass through her.
When they reached the dock, Andy was waiting next to the sailboat, grinning proudly. Nancy had to admit that the Skipper’s Surprise was a beauty. It was forty feet of gleaming white fiberglass trimmed with polished teak, brass, and chrome. Her two masts stretched upward toward the night sky.
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