"Nancy!" the River Heights Chief of Police, Chief McGinnis, yelled after the eighteen-year-old redhead. "Nancy! Nancy!" he cupped his hands around his mouth to amplify his shout. She must not be able to hear me, he thought to himself. "Oh well, I'll call her later," he muttered, turning back toward the station.
The girl across the street from the River Heights Police Station kept walking, completely oblivious to the calls behind her.
"Okay, Hannah, I won't forget, promise!" Nancy yelled over her shoulder on her way out. The door shut behind her with an audible click. The Drew's housekeeper—and very good friend—Hannah Gruen, walked over to the kitchen table to pick up the keys to Nancy's car. Just as Hannah turned to face the door, it swung open and Nancy popped her head in sheepishly.
"Thanks, Hannah. You're the best!" she grabbed the keys to her blue Mustang convertible and headed out the door once again.
"Anytime, Sweet." Hannah replied, and she began preparing supper. She had sent Nancy to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dessert. Nancy's father, Carson Drew, was working on a case, as usual, and he had been in his study nearly all day. Hannah wanted to have supper ready before Carson emerged from his study. Tonight she was preparing lemon pepper chicken breasts with mashed potatoes and lima beans. For dessert, Hannah was going to make a fruit pizza, and the only ingredients she lacked were the fresh strawberries, kiwi, and Rice Krispies cereal. Nancy had been bored, so she had offered to drive downtown and purchase the necessary items from River Groceries.
Several minutes later, the doorbell rang. Hannah quickly washed her hands and went to answer it. A look of uncertainty crossed her face as she received Nancy at the kitchen-front door.
"Nancy?" she stepped out of the way to allow the girl inside. "That was quick…Nancy, why didn't you just use the garage door and why ring the bell?" she paused for a moment, and then cautiously continued, "Where are the groceries?" Hannah looked Nancy up and down, not sure what to make of her behavior, and suddenly noticing her appearance. She pointed to Nancy, "Were you wearing those clothes earlier? And where did you get that bag?" Nancy glanced down at her old shoulder bag, and then looked back to Hannah with a very confused expression. She didn't step into the house.
"I'm sorry. You must be mistaken…My name isn't Nancy." the girl replied.
"Nancy…" Hannah smiled hesitantly, "Is this some type of practical joke?"
"No. I'm very sorry, but my name is Misty. I was wondering if I might speak with you a moment…if you aren't too busy."
The girl at the door had the same red-blonde hair as Nancy; it was the same length too, but upon closer inspection, Hannah noticed that the style was just slightly different. She was the same height. She was skinny, but healthily so, and clearly in shape as well. She looked exactly like Nancy! Hannah was stunned for a moment before she remembered her manners, "Oh, dear me, come in…come in." The girl stepped into the house, visibly uncomfortable.
"Thank you. I'm terribly sorry for the confusion. It seems to be happening a lot around here. Who is Nancy?"
"That's incredible," Hannah mused to herself.
"Oh, you just…You look exactly like…"
"Nancy?" Misty finished, "Yes well, everyone seems to think so. They keep saying that I should find the Drew house, but I got lost a few times. This is the Drew household, isn't it? Oh dear, I'm lost again."
"Oh no, Sweet, this is the Drew household." Hannah replied.
"Thank goodness." She looked around the kitchen. Noting that the oven was on and that the counters were covered in spices and cooking utensils, her eyes rounded, "Ooh, you are busy. I should come another time-"
"Oh nonsense, child, I've just begun to prepare for supper. The oven needs to finish preheating before I do anything else. We have time, and I'm very curious by now. How can I help you, dear?" she sat at the table and despite her gesture that Misty should do the same, the strange girl politely refused.
"I think I would prefer to stand, thank you. Um…well, my name is Misty -as I've already said," she smiled nervously and looked down at her feet. Both her hands were tightly clutching the black strap of her blue bag. The bag, strap slung across her right shoulder, hung at her left hip. Taking a deep breath, Misty began her story, "Since before I can remember, I've lived in The McGraver's Home for Children in Tennessee." She smiled a brief, sad smile. Looking up at Hannah, her words started rushing out, "I'm actually looking for a Dr. Ruaz. Do you know him? After doing some research, I discovered that he was from RiverHeights. So, as soon as I was able to leave McGraver's I headed here. I was hoping that he might still practice or live here. When I arrived, I just started knocking on doors. Everyone I met mistook me for this girl called Nancy. After I told my story they all directed me here. I was keen on getting here because I thought that you might be able to assist me."
The timer for the oven preheat sounded, startling both girls. Hannah got up from her chair and walked silently to the refrigerator to pull out a bowl of boneless chicken.
"Are you sure I shouldn't just come back tomorrow?" Misty asked in a concerned tone, "I really feel like I'm intruding on you."
"No, I wouldn't hear of it," Hannah insisted, "Now let's see about that doctor you asked about…What did you say her name was?"
"Dr. Ruaz, Ma'am, and he supposedly lived here fifteen years ago. Do you know if he still practices here or not?"
"You know, that name does sound familiar, but I just cannot place it. I'd wager that Mr. Drew could help you, besides he'd be quite interested in meeting you. Why don't you stay for supper?"
"Oh, I really shouldn't.""Oh, but I insist, my dear."
"I couldn't impose. I-"
"Now then, you must. Have you any other plans?"
"Well, no…I don't." Misty admitted truthfully.
"That settles it then- you're staying. There's plenty of food. Did you say that you had a story to tell?"
"Yes, but I don't think you really want to hear-"
She was cut off by a voice coming from the hallway. "Nancy, I have some more information that I'd like your opinion on. We can talk over supper. By the way, Hannah, it smells superb in here." Mr. Drew walked into the kitchen. "Nancy," he looked up again from the file in his hand, "Where did you get that shirt? I like it; it's a good color on you."
"Why thank you, Sir," Misty looked down at the forest green t-shirt that she was wearing, "But my na-"
"May I introduce you to Misty?" Hannah interrupted quickly.
"I don't understand," Mr. Drew returned, his eyebrows bent together and his eyes seemed to take immediate interest. Hannah tried to explain to Mr. Drew what she had learned. As she finished, she said that Misty was looking for a doctor and that perhaps he could give her some information. "Wow, that's…" He blew out an astonished breath and ran his fingers through his hair. "It's incredible," he looked at Misty, "You look exactly like…"
"Nancy." she stated flatly, "So I've heard."
"What an odd coincidence; us meeting that is. Um…" Carson puffed out a breath that he hadn't known he was holding. Something was certainly off with this girl. It was practically impossible that she would look so much like his daughter, and he didn't exactly believe in doppelgangers. "Well, how can I help you? I'll do all that I am able, of course."
"Thank you, Sir. The doctor I'm searching for use to live and work here. His name is Dr. Ruaz. I was told that you might know where he is now."
"Dr. Ruaz…" Mr. Drew paused, his mind racing, "And why would you be looking for him?"
Misty took a deep breath and stood up straighter, "For as long as I can remember I've lived in Tennessee in a place called McGraver's Home for Children. My parents abandoned me at birth and, well…I just wanted to find out who they are, naturally. So…I did some research and found that the man who left me at the McGraver's Home was named Dr. Ruaz. I discovered that nearly fifteen years ago he practiced here in RiverHeights. I planned to track him down to ask him how he is related to me. I will use his answer to plan my next step to finding my parents. Hopefully, he knows who they are. For all I know he is my father." Throughout her speech, Mr. Drew had become paler and paler. By now, he looked almost as if he would lose all of his strength and fall over. Hannah quickly ran to his side. She pulled him to a chair and he sat down.
"Are you all right?" she asked in a worried tone. He didn't answer. Hannah ran to the sink and drenched a washcloth, rung it out, and carefully laid it across the back of Carson's neck. Just at that moment, the garage door opened and Nancy came into the kitchen carrying a large brown paper sack in one arm and her keys in the other hand. She shut the door with her foot and quickly set the bag on the counter, heaving a small sigh.
"That's heavier than it looks," Nancy said, turning toward the others, "I went ahead and decided to get a few more…" She looked up, and the moment her eyes rested upon their visitor, she gasped and her keys fell to the floor. She was speechless.
Misty stared at Nancy in shock and her jaw dropped open wide. The room became reverently silent. The girls took one step toward each other. Nancy's hair was down while Misty's was up in a ponytail. An expression of understanding crossed Misty's face. "You must be Nancy," she murmured, unable to take her eyes off of her.
"We…we could be twins!" Nancy wondered aloud, "Who are you?" Mr. Drew stood quickly causing his chair to fall backward. He tried to walk backward the two steps it took to get to the stairs, but he tripped over his fallen chair. He caught himself on the wall that split the living room from the stairs.
"How old are you?" he asked in a shaking voice, leaning on the small segment of wall for support.
"Fifteen, Sir." Misty tore her gaze from Nancy. She saw how pale Mr. Drew had become and immediately became worried, "Are you -" She gasped as Mr. Drew collapsed to the floor, grasping his heart.
"Dad!" Nancy called, running to his side.
Hannah ran to the phone in the hallway, "I'm calling an ambulance!"
Mr. Drew seemed to be in a trance. All he could do was repeat over and over in a low whisper, "Misty…Misty…Misty…" Tears began to stream down his cheeks. He suddenly stopped chanting the girl's name and mumbled something inaudible. Nancy gently asked him to repeat it.
"Elizabeth!" He nearly shouted. His response startled Nancy so much that she jumped up and yelled out.
Just then Hannah re-entered the room. "An ambulance is on the way." she stated in a rather shaken voice.
Just as Nancy began to understand exactly what her father had bellowed, her head suddenly began to spin. She slowly sat on the floor and looked up at Misty. Confusion spread from one side of her face to the other. "I don't understand," she whispered. Misty had become very confused during Mr. Drew's spell. She took an unsure step backward.
Meanwhile, Mr. Drew had become unusually quiet. He looked straight at Misty. His eyes had glazed over, and the words he spoke chilled Misty to the bone, "You're…you're dead!"