I Dare You

Early Company

Hannah stood in Nancy's open doorway, smiling. She had prepared pancakes for the morning meal for the girls and herself. Now that she saw them all sleeping so peacefully, she couldn't bear to wake them. Oh, she thought, how precious. Silently, she closed the door. They'll do her good, she thought of Bess and George, they're sweet girls, all of them.

Hannah had been a part of the Drew family since the Mr. and Mrs. were married. She had been their housekeeper and friend from the beginning. When Nancy's mother had died, fifteen years ago, Hannah had taken it upon herself to help Carson bring up the child. In doing so, Hannah and Nancy had developed a special relationship; the two were very close.

George and Bess had been friends with Nancy ever since they were in diapers. The Drews had always considered them as family and vice versa. The three families were also very close.

As Hannah made her way downstairs, she glanced at her watch. It was nearly nine o' clock. She pondered what to do with all of the breakfast that she'd prepared. She couldn't eat it all. She had prepared an extra abundance of pancakes that morning, for she knew that the girls would be very hungry after their long night. Yes, she knew that they had been awake nearly all night, as she too had once been young.

I know, she reflected with hands on her hips, I'll take it to Mr. and Mrs. Marvin and Fayne. They should enjoy it. I'll bring along the syrup, she thought again, as she had left the cakes bare for the girls to syrup themselves. Just as she turned to get something to cover the large plate of freshly cooked food, the doorbell rang.

"Coming," Hannah went to answer the door and was surprised to see Fenton Hardy's sons, "Joe…Frank…What on earth are you doing here?" She smiled, pleasantly. "Oh, come in, come in," she invited, "What a wonderful surprise!"

"Hello, Hannah!" Joe looked to the table, his nose in the air, "Oh, you've been cooking." His hints were not unnoticed. Hannah chuckled.

"Hannah," Frank tipped his head in greeting, "How are you?"

"I'm wonderful, and you?" she ushered the boys to the table and set out some plates and the syrup.

"Oh, we couldn't-" the eldest of the sons protested.

"Frank," the younger, blonde boy hissed, elbowing his dark-haired brother, still smiling at Mrs. Gruen.

"I insist!" she grinned at Joe, who's stomach had begun to grumble in anticipation. Both boys had eaten the woman's cooking before, and even Frank had a hard time passing up the offer. "In fact," she said, "I'll join you. I consider it a rare privilege to eat with such fine company. Now tell me, what business have you in these parts?"

"Ohhh!" Joe rolled his eyes back into his head. With his mouth stuffed he said, "Hannah, you are heaven sent. Frank," he gobbled down another bite, "You've got to try these. Mm!"

"Don't drool too much, brother, I'll make you clean it up," Frank laughed. Joe was too absorbed in eating to remark back. Frank turned to Hannah, "Thank you for breakfast. We didn't have time to eat this morning, not that we were expecting you to feed us."

"Oh, you're more than welcome, my boy," she grinned, "Are you here on business?"

"Oh no, ma'am," he answered after swallowing, "This is good." He wiped his mouth, "No, we're here on Spring Break. Our parents planned a trip for themselves, and we thought that we'd come and visit you all, if it's not too much trouble…" He glanced at his hostess.

"Of course not," she said, "You and your family are always welcome here. Oh, Nancy will be surprised."

"Huh?" Joe's fingers were covered in syrup, "I thought you called her last night?" He turned to his eighteen-year-old brother, confusion evident on his seventeen-year-old face.

"I did," Frank defended. He looked to Hannah, "It was sort of late, but I phoned Nancy and surprised her with the news that we were in Chicago. Did she not tell you?"

"Oh, no, I went to bed early last night, though."

"I see," Frank put another bite of cake into his mouth, "We actually weren't supposed to be here for another few hours, but we woke early and had nothing else to do. So, we're early."

"Eat as much as you want," Hannah looked at Joe, smiling, "for there is no one else to eat them up."

"Yes ma'am! I'll make sure it doesn't go bad," he greedily reached for seconds.

Frank finished off his first helping and also filled his plate a second time, "I love the blueberries. Mother likes to put chunks of peaches in hers sometimes."

"Yes, I quite enjoy that, too." Hannah was still on her first helping.

Frank chewed slowly, a thought crossing his mind, "Hannah?"

"Yes, dear?"

"When I talked to Nancy last nigh, she seemed…" he searched for the right word. It was possible that Nancy had hidden her trouble from Hannah as well, although he doubted that. "upset," he finished, "Do you know what could have been troubling her?"

The boy's concern touched the woman, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I know exactly what was troubling her; however," she stood, clearing her plate, "I am not at liberty to say as much."

"Yes, I see, but could you tell me if everything is alright?" he pressed on.

"There is no need to worry for her," she replied, "Time heals all wounds."

"Hmmph," Joe interrupted, "Well, I'm full!" He stretched and put his hands on the back of his head.

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