Horror At Harvard Cont....

***


“Dorm building five, dorm building five,” Bella muttered to herself over and over. The girls had spent over ten minutes trying to locate where Paige lived on the campus. She flipped her phone open. It was 6:42, and they had to get there early so they could find Paige’s car. After all, she was planning to meet her roommate, Abbi, at her car at seven, so they had to hurry.
“Right here, guys,” JJ said, jogging up to dorm building five. “Now, lets search the parking lot. Look for license plates that relate to the name Paige, I guess,” suggested Bella. “There is really no way we can be sure about her car. We should have brought up a casual conversation about cars. Like, yah, JJ crashed my family’s Honda Oddesey when she was test- driving it. I had to get a Toyota Camry so my parents could get a smaller car and not have to worry about me. What kind of car do you have?”
“That would have been perfect, Bellsies! I just wish that you‘d thought of it so we could locate her car. And you didn’t have to make me the one to crash your family’s vehicle either,” JJ said.
“Well, she didn’t think of it then, so we’re stuck,” pouted Natalie grumpily. I was so excited about my lead, and even smugger when I found out that Bella and JJ hadn’t found out anything at all. I didn’t think at all about HOW we were going to find Paige’s car in time to hear her conversation with Abbi. Stupid me, she thought.
“Well, we just have to look for license plates that seem like they might belong to Paige,” JJ said matter-of-factly as she and her friends strolled through the large driveway in front of Paige’s dorm building, scanning the cars for obvious Paige license plates. “Like this,” Natalie said slyly, instantly brightening. JJ and Bella stopped next to Natalie, confused. “Look at the license plate on this Chevy Malibu,” she demanded. JJ looked and so did Bella, their mouths opening with shock at their amount of luck. Natalie smiled wryly. “That’s right, I know you love me. Paige11. Now, who else could it be?”
Bella’s eyes sparkled as she hugged Natalie. “Nat, you are the best. I’m beginning to feel jealous because I’M usually the one that gets the leads in cases, but I haven’t gotten one!” Natalie laughed and pulled away. “So, JJ, what’s that surprise you were talking about?” JJ smiled.
“Time to put my plan into action,” she muttered. She pulled a rolled up fleece blanket and a box of Cheerios out of her purse. Nat and Bella looked at each other. “That’s it?” they said in disbelief. “No, it’s not. Did you guys ever think about HOW we will watch them talk without getting caught, I didn’t think so,” said JJ, without pausing to hear their answers. She spread the fleece blanket out under a large SUV parked next to Paige’s car. “We get under this car and lay on the blanket. I brought a box of Cheerios to eat while we’re waiting,” smiled JJ.
Bella and Natalie reluctantly climbed under the large SUV and onto the fleece blanket. They all lay across it on their stomachs. “Hey, guys, its only six forty-five, we’re right on time, and we have time to chat before Paige and Abbi arrive,” JJ said, looking at her watch. They munched on Cheerios and talked quietly. “I thought Nick was really cute, but I don’t want to dump Michael back home, and…” “Shh, someone’s coming,” warned JJ in a hushed whisper. She grabbed a handful of Cheerios. Bella shook her head. “Too noisy,” she mouthed silently.
They held their breath as they waited for Paige to start talking. They saw two pairs of feet from under the car and they stopped at Paige’s Chevy Malibu. “I’m glad you came, Abbi. I honestly thought that you weren’t going to come,” Paige scoffed. “Now, about these new girls. My uncle Jerry told me that they would be coming, but I honestly don’t know who they are.”
JJ gasped in surprise. Jerry was their agent. There were many people named Jerry in the world, but JJ had a sinking feeling the Jerry Paige was talking about was their agent. They had heard him mention a niece named Paige dozens of times. Bella gasped too. But it was too late. “What was that noise?” Paige asked, irritated. “IDK,” Abbi replied nervously. “What if someone is listening?”
Paige grunted and looked around. Bella gritted her teeth. What if Paige and Abbi look under here? she wondered. And, she was right. Paige squatted and looked underneath the large SUV. Her eyes widened with shock, and then her face was distorted with anger. “Gabriella, Tara-B, Bella?” An angry expression took over her face. “What are you doing here? Were you eavesdropping on a private conversation? I haven’t known you too long, but I never thought that a Harvard student would stoop that low.” She shook her head.
“No, it’s not what it looks like,” Janae said, thinking frantically and quickly. “You see, we are in dorm building one, but we couldn’t find a parking space, so we brought this car over here to keep instead.” “I don’t believe you,” Paige accused. “Why? We’re telling the truth,” Natalie babbled. “This SUV has a license plate that says Camoboy,” Paige responded smugly. “You see, Tara-B’s car is at the shop back home, so we had to take her brother’s SUV down here. Tara-B drove the SUV with Natalie, and I took my car, which is a Toyota Camry. And, honestly Paige, I thought that you would be nicer to new students,” Bella covered quickly. “Why would you accuse us of something like that?”
“Well, why were you under the car with a blanket?” Paige questioned. There was silence. Paige sighed impatiently and examined her manicure. “Well, we had to come down here because Tara-B dropped a ring that her boyfriend gave her. So, we came down here to look for it. Gabriella and I used to camp under this car all of the time when we were kids, so we figured that we would do it again, just for fun. You know traditions; we wanted to do it again. We hadn’t camped under this SUV for years.”
Paige eyed them suspiciously and then pointed at Janae accusingly. “If this is your brother’s SUV,” she said, “then drive it.”

Chapter 8: Close Calls


JJ looked at Bella in horror. I can’t drive! She wailed to herself. “Girls!” JJ turned. She heard a familiar voice and sighed with relief. There had never been a better time for Mr. Duncan to show up. “Why are you over here? I wanted to talk to you in your dorm room,” he said, nodding a greeting to Paige and Abbi.
“We needed to look for Tara-B’s ring out here by our SUV,” Bella told him. He looked confused and was about to say something, but Bella gave him a look that signaled not to talk.
“Oh, right,” he said quickly. “I forgot about that. Well, we can look for it tomorrow, let me walk you back.” The girls waved goodbye to Paige and Abbi, and took off with Mr. Duncan. Only Abbi waved back.










***


Once they were safely back at the dorm room and the door was locked, Mr. Duncan sat on the couch and turned to the girls. “What was going on over there?” he questioned.
They explained about everything that had happened to them that day and how Paige had heard them at the stakeout and accused them of listening in on a private conversation. “But, honest, Mr. Duncan, I think that our agent, Jerry, clued Paige in that we were coming to Harvard. I don’t think she knows that WE are the spies, but she knows that there is some lurking nearby. Jerry used to talk about his niece named Paige all of the time. Do you think that Paige is the murderer?” Natalie asked.
Mr. Duncan thought for a minute and then shook his head. “No, I really don’t. Paige is a nice girl, and she, in fact, was the one that informed me about the murder.” “Well, she didn’t seem nice in the parking lot,” Natalie muttered under her breath.
“Excuse me, Mr. Duncan, but who really did get murdered?” asked Bella. “We’ve been so busy with the stakeout that we don’t really know who the victim was, or HOW they were murdered.” Mr. Duncan dug into the pocket of his dress pants. “I was thinking about that, also,” he admitted. “Here is a phone number that I need you to call,” he said, handing Natalie a scrap of paper. This is her cousin, Zoey’s number. Arrange a meeting with her, and you guys can talk more about Brooklyn, the murder victim.” Natalie nodded. “Sounds good Mr. Duncan thanks.” She dug into the refrigerator and scooped some ice cream into three bowls.
“I have to go to a meeting today, but I’ll check up with you after your 5th class tomorrow,” Mr. Duncan said, glancing at his watch and backing out the door. The girls waved and he shut the dorm door firmly behind him.
“Paige was awful to us. I have a feeling that just like Jordan, Paige also has a follower, which is Abbi,” Natalie said. “We don’t really have any suspects yet, but I think Paige is definitely one of them.”
“I don’t know. Remember, she was the one that told Mr. Duncan about Brooklyn’s murder,” replied Bella, unsure. “But, she could have just done that so we wouldn’t suspect her and to hide the fact that she did it. We can’t jump to any conclusions yet, until we meet more suspects and find out a possible motive for Paige if she did commit the crime. Meanwhile, lets type Paige in as a suspect in our Harvard files,” Bella said. They did so and then JJ flicked on the TV and surfed to her favorite channel.
“Yes, America’s Next Top Model!” she screamed, pumping her fist in the air. She got situated on the couch next to Natalie, and her eyes were glued to the TV and her mouth to the Cookies n’ Cream snack. Bella finished her ice cream and sighed, putting her bowl on the ground next to her feet. They were never going to get the case going if Natalie and JJ were distracted all of the time. Bella vowed to herself that she would try to get the next big lead by tomorrow night. She slipped into pajamas and slippers.
“Guys, I’m heading out for awhile. I’ll be back in about twenty minutes. Call me on my cell if the show gets really good,” she warned to Natalie and JJ.
“K,” they said in unison and then pointed to each other. “Jinx!” Bella chuckled and grabbed her notebook, slipping out of the door. She took a look around in the hallway. She saw lots of other students talking, or in their PJs with pizza. Many were sitting outside their dorms for a late night of studying.
She trudged to the cafeteria, where more students were sitting silently and studying with a can of Coke in one hand and a book in the other. They didn’t even look up from their books and notes, so intent on their work. One girl was typing scary fast with only one hand on her laptop, the other wrapped carefully in a cast. Bella passed a table where a student with spiky brown hair held hands with his girlfriend, working on his laptop on a report and scribbling notes in his massive notebook.
Bella suddenly felt not as studious as everyone else. She walked up to a counter and pulled out three crumpled dollar bills, looking at the snack menu. She swiped her forged student ID that Mr. Duncan had provided her with and continued looking at the lengthy snack list.
A plump woman in her late fifties with a twinkle in her brown eyes and a smile on her face stood behind the counter, waiting patiently for Bella to order. She had red hair, but it was clear that the color was not natural. Just as Bella was about to order, the woman interrupted. “Excuse me,” she said in a loud whisper, trying to lower her voice. “Are you Bella Swift, here to investigate?”
Bella looked around, unsure of what her answer should be. None of the students seemed to be paying attention to anything except their studies, which worked in Bella’s favor tremendously. Bella turned back to the stocky lady and gave a slight nod. The woman’s smile widened. “Ahh,” she said. “Brad Duncan told me about the work your doing, and I think it is just fantastic!” Bella smiled weakly, not sure what to make of the friendly woman, but trying to be polite. “Thanks,” she said. “I’m Flo,” the woman introduced, holding out a chubby hand. Bella shook it and smiled warmly.
She certainly is very friendly and bubby, Bella thought. “Here, take a pack of Skittles and a can of Sprite,” Flo offered. “It’s on the house.” “Thanks,” replied Bella sincerely, trying to glue a smile onto her face for Flo. She turned around and ran smack dab into an average sized girl with shoulder length, straight, brown hair, the lightest of brown eyes, and a slight pig nose, but Bella wasn’t one to judge on appearance.
“I am so sorry,” she blabbed, bending down to help the girl pick up her books. She smiled. “It’s really alright. Are you new here?” the girl asked. “Yah, I just joined Harvard,” Bella explained nervously, afraid she would reveal what she was REALLY there for. “I’m Bella Swift and I’m sharing a dorm room with my friends, Tara-B, and Gabriella, who also got in this week,” she finished. The girl nodded. “I’m Libby Carper, and it’s so nice to meet you. I can hardly find friends and keep them for more than a week in this huge school. I can never find them again!” Bella laughed at the joke, a real laugh. “Do you want to study together?” Libby asked. “Sure,” answered Bella eagerly, and they chose a vacant table except for Becca, Jordan’s follower, studying at the other end.
“Do you know that girl?” asked Bella, tilting her head towards Becca. Libby shook her head. “Not really, I mean, she’s in one of my classes, but I never really got to know her that well. How can you in this gigantic college?” Bella nodded in agreement. “Do you know anyone I might know? I mean, even though I just came to Harvard?” Libby thought for a minute. “Well, I have a pretty awesome roommate, Gwen Cramer. She’s gorgeous, even more so than the queen of the school, Jordan Latife, in my opinion. Or maybe they’re tied.
But, guys tend to lean towards Gwen when picking over her and Jordan, because she’s easier to get and not stuck up like her opponent. She has glossy black hair, perfect skin, and huge brown eyes. She makes me feel like a fat little pony next to a shining stallion,” said Libby, giggling at her out of the blue analogy.
“Who is she dating, then, if every guy is going for her?” asked Bella curiously. “Well, he’s exceptionally cute, I guess,” Libby admitted. “His name is Nick Larson.” “Oh him?” asked Bella, surprised. “I met him today and went out to eat with him and his friends, and he was practically drooling over Gwen.”
“Yah, their pretty much crazy about each other, and she spends a lot of her spare time with him. They weren’t able to rig the class schedule so they could have classes together, but James said he would try to get Mr. Duncan to pull a few strings. That guy pretty much rocks, you know.” “Yah, I know he does,” Bella agreed. “He showed Tara-B, Gabriella, and I around when we first got here this morning.”
Libby and Bella ended up talking the whole time, sharing Skittles, and laughing like they had been friends for a lifetime. They glanced down at their notes once in awhile, whenever they got a stern look from a fellow student for being too loud, or when a professor passed by to get a snack. Some Bella recognized from her classes, but some looked completely new to her. They didn’t pay any attention to the students surrounding them, probably knowing from experience not to bother them.
“Well, I better go,” Bella said finally in a reluctant tone. Tara-B and Gabriella “need” me to come back to watch America’s Next Top Model with them.”
“Ditto,” said Libby. “Gwen will probably be sending me a stupid text in a few minutes and ask me to get my butt over to the room to place my bet on who will get kicked off. So far it’s been all me, but she could win tonight. I think I will only place ten on it tonight. I just have this feeling, you know? Like she’s gonna win the bet tonight.”
Bella laughed. “Well, tell me how it turns out.” “I will,” responded Libby. They exchanged phone numbers, after promising to call each other, and went their separate ways.
The next morning, Natalie got up and rubbed her eyes. She kicked JJ’s butt hard, and she groaned. “Ouch!” she moaned, and put her pillow up over her head. “Get up!” urged Natalie from the pull out couch and looked over at Bella, spread across her double bed. Bella, being her nerdy self, had set an alarm and it went off with a blaring noise. Bella sighed, yawned, and went back to sleep for a few minutes before turning off her alarm and joining Natalie in the bathroom. They stuffed muffins in their mouth, and pulled on some clothes, not excited at all about the second day of school. As they applied face makeup and did every thing they needed to do, JJ folded the couch back in. They grabbed their equipment and started down the hall.
“I just can’t believe that we’re at Harvard, I mean…” “Shh.” Bella cut Natalie off. “Did you hear those voices?” JJ nodded. “I think I did. And they came from that doorway.”
Janae pointed at a door on the left side of the hallway. It looked like it was dark inside the room except for a dim lamp in one of the corners. Bella nodded in agreement. “I agree Janae,” she said, still hearing the faint voices float out to them from under the door. “Maybe we can spy,” suggested Natalie slyly. “IDK about you, but I’m not too eager to eavesdrop on anyone else after the Paige/Abbi incident,” Bella put in seriously.”
“Ditto, I don’t want to get caught again,” JJ said. “Oh, come on; don’t be worried, we could just say that we needed to grab some papers in there if they find us outside the door. It’s easy to make up, “I forgot my laptop in this room” excuses in a college,” Natalie said. “Fine,” Bella gave in. JJ rolled her eyes. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you if anything really creepy happens to us, or we get caught,” she muttered, following her two friends to the doorway.
“This is so much fun, I mean, we’re spies, real time spies,” whispered Natalie excitedly, her eyes twinkling. “Yah, real fun spying on suspicious and creepy freaks in a huge college where a murder was just committed, yah, I agree that it’s really fun Natalie,” said Janae sarcastically. “Stop right there, and don’t say anything to make her mad,” warned Bella, and put her ear to the door. Natalie followed suit. “Fine,” JJ muttered, and did the same.
“Listen, I saw these girls looking at us yesterday,” said a voice that sounded like it belonged to a male student. Bella looked through the door window on tiptoe and was shocked to recognize the two men in black that JJ had suspected earlier. They must be referring to the suspicious looks we gave them yesterday, figured Bella. “It’s the men in black,” she whispered, going back down on flat feet. JJ’s eyes widened. “Then they’re talking about how we were giving them weird looks earlier,” she realized. Bella frowned at her. “Duh.”
“I just don’t want to get caught that’s all,” said the same man. “What if someone finds out what we’ve been up to?” “Then we could be in serious trouble,” the other man responded. “I wasn’t looking for an answer,” the first person said, obviously irritated. “I’m well aware that we are in danger if people find out. What will they think?”
“I don’t know Joe, but just calm down. No one suspects a thing. Just keep your cool, and act as though you’ve never heard of Brooklyn, or didn’t know that she was murdered,” advised the second man. “I guess you’re right,” admitted Joe.
The three spies/friends stared at each other in shock. They were all thinking the same thing. What if Joe and his friend were worried that someone found out that they were the murderers? They had to be talking about the murder. “Let’s just act like you’ve never heard of Brooklyn,” Bella remembered the second pupil saying.
What if they were talking about trying to cover up Brooklyn’s murder? They certainly needed to make an appointment with Zoey, Brooklyn’s cousin, and find out more about this murder victim. Whatever the men in black were talking about, it certainly was mysterious.
Suddenly, JJ heard footsteps come towards the door. “Quick, hide in here!” she ordered, thrusting the door of a cleaning supplies closet open and crawling inside. Natalie heaved herself inside of the cramped quarters after JJ, and then Bella followed by throwing herself inside and slamming the door shut. Suddenly, they were in pitch-black quarters.
“Doggone it! I spilled my Squirt walking over to the door!” Joe cried. Natalie heard the click of the door as he unlocked it and Joe and his friend stepped outside of the room. “Here, let me just get some paper towels from this cleaning closet,” Joe suggested. The girls froze in terror. Of course, they couldn’t see each other in the utter blackness, but they could read each other’s thoughts like a book.
What if Joe and his friend in black discovered them in the closet and found out that they were listening to the talk? They certainly did not want a repeat of the Abbi and Paige stakeout the night before. The footsteps of James and the other person in black were getting closer. What were they going to do?

Chapter 9: Investigations and Interviews


“Quick, just trust me!” Bella said, “Put on these cleaning lady coats. JJ furrowed her brow in confusion but she threw her arms through the sleeves and struggled to put on the coat. Bella and Natalie did the same. Bella quickly turned on the light of the closet.
“There it is!” she said in a shrill voice. “I was looking for the light! Now, Bessie, do you know where the Clorox bleach is? And we have to find some stuff to clean up the mess in one of the labs. “Right here!” said Natalie, catching on. “Good, now I need some All detergent to wash some of the professors’ clothes in the laundry room.”
Joe thrust the door open. “Hey, guys, are you the cleaning ladies?” he asked. “We sure are,” said Janae cheerfully. “My name is Moe.” “Well, we were looking for some paper towels to clean up some spilled soda in room 1439. Could you by chance lend us a roll?”
“Not a prob,” Bella said, using an unusual abbreviation for problem. “Here.” She handed Joe and his companion a roll of paper towels to clean up the mess. “Take care now,” she said, and turned her back to them. “I have to find the Windex now,” she explained, rummaging around the shelf.
“Okay,” the second man said. “Thanks.” “Yep,” “Moe” said. “Anytime you need us, we’ll be around.” “Thanks,” the second man in black said again, and left.
“Bella, you were brilliant,” whispered JJ. They thought we were the cleaning ladies! That was a perfect idea so they wouldn’t suspect us of eavesdropping.” “Thanks, thanks, but we have no time for flattery. We only have five minutes to get to class!” said Bella, shrugging out of the long cleaning lady coat. The others did the same and they separated themselves for class.










***

Natalie walked nervously into her first class, not sure if she was late or not. She quickly slipped into a seat and opened her laptop only moments before the bell rang. She sighed with relief. She was okay.
That was close, she thought. The professor started the lesson. Natalie looked over at Paige, who was sitting on the far side of the room. Paige didn’t see Natalie, but Natalie wondered if she had gotten over the notion that they were spies eavesdropping under an SUV. Hopefully she had forgotten about all of that.
The professor droned on and on, and Natalie felt as if the class would go on forever. Luckily, she wasn’t called on, because she wasn’t paying one bit of attention to the lecture, but going over her Harvard file, editing, and adding more information about Joe and his fellow companion. She wondered what they were up to.
When the class was over, and the bell had rung, as Natalie was gathering up her things, Paige walked over to her. Here we go, Natalie thought frantically. “Listen, Paige, I’m sorry about the stakeout thing, but honest, we would never do anything to hurt you.” “I know,” Paige nodded. “Abbi’s in another class, but I think she has come to a decision too. I’m not here to yell at you. We were kind of grumpy and we’re sorry for jumping to conclusions. I shouldn’t have accused you that soon. What you were doing just seemed a little strange. I know you weren’t really spying. I’m sorry,” Paige said sincerely.
“That’s okay, I understand,” replied Natalie gently. She felt a twinge of guilt. I wish I could tell Paige that we really were spying, AND tell her the reason, Natalie said silently.
“Friends?” Paige asked, holding out her hand. Natalie tried to smile. “Friends,” she repeated, shaking the hand Paige held out. “Good,” Paige said, and took a deep breath. No matter how nice Paige was now, Natalie couldn’t help but realize that no one really liked her for her bossiness and mean behavior towards Abbi. She wasn’t very nice to her, but it seemed that Abbi didn’t have a choice.
Paige walked away, and Natalie saw that she had dropped a scrap of paper. This is weird, twice in a row, the same class, thought Natalie. Maybe Paige is trying to write notes like these to lead us on. Then she can see for sure if we are the spies if we show up at every place that she wants Abbi to meet her at. Suddenly, Natalie knew that was it. This was just a trick, to see if she and JJ and Bella were the spies. That’s why Paige had acted so strange at the SUV. She knew that Natalie had read the note and was wondering if Nat was a spy. Creepy, Natalie thought.
Natalie sighed and picked up the note. A~ I think I know which girls are the new ones. Meet me at my dorm at 8:00 tonight to discuss this. Thanks ~P. I’m not going, thought Natalie. She’s just going to catch us again. I don’t think she’s even planning to really have a conversation with Abbi. She already knows that we are the spies. She just wrote this note and dropped it right in front of me to be sure that I was really the spy. She’ll know for sure if we go and eavesdrop again that we were the ones that were hired to catch the murderer.
Natalie was proud of her logic. They had already decided not to meet each other at the dorm until after the day’s classes were over. She decided to keep the note. Bella would find something to do with it.
Classes were soon over, and a frustrated Bella hadn’t found out anything. She trudged back to the dorm with JJ. In the one class together, Natalie had quickly told Bella about the new note. Bella was assured that there was a curse keeping her from figuring out anything. Why was Natalie the one getting all the leads, and getting secret notes dropped right in front of her face? It just wasn’t fair. She got back to the dorm room with Janae before Natalie.
Look, Bella, I don’t know why I keep getting leads, maybe its just because Paige is in every class that I have,” said Natalie, coming in through the door and slamming it behind her. She handed Bella the note. “Keep this. You’ll find some use for it, I’m sure,” she assured. Bella smiled. “It’s really not your fault, Natalie. It’s just that I am so frustrated that I am not finding anything out!”
“Well, you did give us a big break when you thought up the cleaning lady thing,” encouraged JJ. “Yah, totally. That was so good,” Natalie agreed. Bella smiled. “Have you guys met Flo?” she asked. “Yes,” JJ replied. “Natalie and I were so hungry in the middle of the night that we went down for a snack. Flo was still behind the counter and there were still kids up studying, though not as many, believe it or not. Flo already knew who we were and gave us free candy. She’s quite the character.”
“Yes, yes, she is,” Bella said with a grin. “Listen,” she continued. “I think we should set up our appointment tonight with Zoey. I’m dying to know about this Brooklyn girl.” “Yah, but shouldn’t we check out Paige and Abbi’s conversation. “That note is a decoy, it’s just a trap,” Natalie explained again. “They just want to see if we follow them and then they will know for sure if we were hired to investigate.”
“Yah, but I sure would like to go anyway, just in case they say something crucial,” JJ decided. “Well, suit yourself,” said Natalie, handing Janae a piece of paper with Paige’s dorm number on it. “Thanks.” JJ beamed. I’m glad you guys trust me with such an important job.”
“Shut up JJ. Just go out and get the job done,” Bella joked good-naturedly. “K,” said JJ, and she skipped out the door, obviously very excited about her assignment.
Natalie and Bella looked at each other and laughed. She was so eager. They called Zoey and she said she’d be right over. Meanwhile, they talked about the girl that Tyra Banks had kicked off of America’s Next Top Model the night before. “I still think that one girl was way worse than the one that got butted off the show,” retorted Bella. “Bella, your perspective is all wrong. The only reason you think that is because the girl who got kicked off was named Bella. You know that the other one was a way better model, just admit it.” Bella wasn’t willing to, so they sat, backs to each other, and waited for Zoey to arrive.
Soon, they heard a knock on the door, and Natalie jumped up to answer it. They introduced themselves as their real selves, for they knew that Zoey had been clued in on the spies investigating her cousin’s death.
Zoey was very pretty in a bizarre sort of way. She had long black hair, with tints of red highlights and round coal black eyes. It wasn’t often that you saw someone like that. She had thin, pale lips and obviously liked to go heavy on the eye makeup. She had on a short jeaned mini skirt and a black and red top. She had a thick red headband placed perfectly in her hair. They hadn’t seen any students so far that dressed like her. Besides Jordan, Becca, and Zoey, every other student, even the fun ones like Libby, James, Nick, Gwen, and Melissa all dressed in drab law suits, though you could tell they would be more comfortable if they could wear jeans and a t-shirt. She was heavy on the gothic style, maybe she would be a perfect match for Joe and his gothic companion that was so mysterious. She opened her mouth in a smile, flashing a set of perfectly white teeth.
The only flaw was a slight, almost unnoticeable gap between Zoe’s two front teeth. “So,” she said, opening a lime green planner stuffed with photos and notes, just so you know for further reference, I love lime green. I mean, I don’t like wearing it, I just, well, LOVE IT!! What do you want to know?”
“Well, first, start at the beginning,” laughed Bella, and Zoey and Natalie joined in. “I might as well show you pictures of my sister and Brooklyn,” Zoey suggested, her voice dropping in a sad whisper when she said Brooklyn’s name. There was a lump in her throat that she struggled to swallow. Natalie put an arm around Zoey’s small shoulders. “We’re here to help, don’t you worry,” she sympathized sincerely. Zoey wiped away a few stray tears, took a deep breath, and sniffled once. “Sorry,” she said quickly, smiling without humor. “No need to apologize,” Bella comforted.
“Okay, I think I can handle it now.” Zoey pulled a small photo out of the cramped, lime green leather planner. “This is my sister, Yolanda,” she said. “We’re actually twins, but definitely not identical.” She smiled a bit as she saw Bella and Natalie’s eyes widen. They really didn’t look anything like each other. They got their looks from different sides of the family entirely. The only thing that made them resemble each other was their smile, and their very thin lips that pulled up over dazzling white teeth.
Yolanda had shoulder length layered brown hair with drastic blonde highlights distributed throughout. She had large brown eyes, and a small button nose, and unlike Zoey, she wore lawsuits that fit her personality perfectly.
Then Zoey showed a picture of Brooklyn. When Zoey held up the next picture, a happy and fun loving face stared at Bella and Natalie with a gleaming smile, unaware of what lay ahead of her. She had hazel eyes and chin -length black hair that hung in what looked like limp noodles and framed her round face.
Bella and Natalie found themselves feeling sad, even though they had never met Brooklyn Bates.
Zoey sighed. “You see, it’s all sort of complicated. Megan Barlow used to be roommates with my cousin Brooklyn Bates. Megan’s this really skinny girl that doesn’t talk anymore.” Bella nodded. “Yah, we met her. But, what do you mean she doesn’t talk anymore? Did she used to be social or something?” “I’m getting there, hold your horses,” Zoey laughed. “So anyway, Megan Barlow and Brooklyn Bates, a cousin of mine from the Bates side, shared a room. They were like the best of friends. I was right across the hallway and a few dorms down from them, sharing a dorm with Jordan Latife, the queen of Harvard, as I’m sure you’ve already figured out. Jordan used to have to share a dorm room with me, believe it or not, until Brooklyn’s disappearance. But…”
“Wait,” interrupted Bella, “Did you say disappearance?” “Yah, well we don’t really know if she was murdered or is just a stowaway. But, I’m getting to that too,” she chuckled. “Yah, so Jordan Latife and I shared a dorm room. I hated every minute of it, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices to go to such a nice college. Also, a few hallways away, my sister, Yolanda Bates, and her roommate Suzy Yank shared a dorm.”
Zoey distributed a picture of a girl with a bob of short frizzy black hair, large green eyes, small frameless glasses, and full lips that dazzled with only the smallest tint of gloss applied. She looked very sophisticated…and smart like everyone else. “This is Suzy Yank, Yolanda’s roommate,” explained Zoey. She tucked the picture back safely into the planner.
“But,” she continued, “As soon as Brooklyn’s death, Jordan’s father insisted that she have her own dorm, because she was grieving for the loss of Brooklyn and needed to be alone. She never even talked to the girl, but she got her wish, and her own dorm room. Since Brooklyn disappeared, Megan had no one to go to, so I shared a dorm with her. It was clear she did not like me, so she moved in temporarily with Becca and Melissa.
“I didn’t want to be by myself, and so I decided to temporarily share a dorm with Suzy and Yolanda and be packed in like a sardine. Megan isn’t talking to anyone anymore, like she used to. She was never that much fun to hang around, but she still smiled and came to parties and stuff. I guess Brooklyn’s death was really hard on her. But, yah, she preferred to live with Becca and Melissa, but she doesn’t even talk to them.” Zoey shook her head. “It’s messed up,” she said. “Mr. Duncan said that once Megan recovers from her depression, I can either move back in with her, or move back in with Jordan, when she recovers. I think I’ll take Plan A and go with Megan. I’ve had enough of Jordan for the rest of my life!”
Natalie nodded sympathetically. “Yah, Melissa told us that Megan and Becca were her roommates, but she didn’t tell us that Megan was only there temporarily, so we really did not know the whole roommate situation.”
“Well, I better tell you a bit about Brooklyn, her enemies, friends, personality, learning style, and the day she disappeared right?” Bella and Natalie looked at each other in shock. Zoey laughed. “Yah, I learn a lot by watching Without a Trace,” she told them.
“Brooklyn was the best friend anyone could ever have. The only person she really disliked was Jordan, big surprise. Jordan never liked Brooklyn, and always picked on her. Becca wasn’t a big deal; she only did it because Jordan did, so Brooklyn didn’t blame her. She had an awesome guy friend who was always there, almost wishing for a relationship I think. Matt Smith. They were just friends, but the way he looked at her gave everyone the idea that he wanted more than that. Yolanda and I were her best friends, besides Matt and Megan. She was nice to everyone, even Jordan, and even when she didn’t feel like it. She was smart, a great student, and a great friend,” Zoey finished sadly.
By the end of the description, she had tears streaming down her face. “You know?” she sobbed. “I never thought that I would miss her this much, but I even saw Becca’s eyes watering. We all loved her, guys. She was a great friend.” Zoey was sobbing uncontrollably. She wailed and hunched her back, heaving and shaking with tears. All Bella and Natalie could do was comfort their new friend and vow that they would find the killer.











***


JJ was frightened. She was alone, and she had no idea if Paige and Abbi would find her this time or not. She glanced down at the piece of paper with Paige’s dorm room on it. She veered her way to Paige’s parking lot and found the door to the correct dorm. She crouched down in some bushes. Her palms were sweaty and her heart was beating so loud that she was sure that her mother could hear it back home. She took a deep breath and prepared herself for more waiting.
It seemed like an eternity before she heard voices. “But, seriously Abs, I think that Gabriella girl is the spy, and her little friends Tara-B and Bella are helping her out,” Paige said, stepping out onto her porch with Abbi following. “Don’t you think?” “Yah, totally,” said Abbi nervously, eager to please, or maybe, afraid not to please.
She peered over the bushes that held JJ. Janae held her breath until Abbi’s gaze turned to Paige. “I don’t know, P, I don’t see them. Maybe you just misunderstood all of this, don’t you think? I mean, they aren’t here,” she reasoned. “No I do not think that I misunderstood,” hissed Paige through gritted teeth. Suddenly her voice turned into a yell.
“Who bailed you out of quarantine for supposed drug use and let you come live with her, even if she got a bad reputation for it and she was sure that the drugs were planted in your bag by someone other than you?” Paige demanded angrily. “You did,” Abbi whispered softly, looking at her toes. “That’s right. And who is paying for all of your meals cause you don’t have enough stinking money?”
“You are, P, but it’s just Happy Meals or food from the campus. I told you that as soon as I get my month’s paycheck from my cashier job at Cato I will pay you back, honest.”
“I don’t care, I need the money now,” Paige said heartlessly. But, never the less, don’t you think I would know best if I did all those things for you?” “Yes, your theory is probably correct,” admitted Abbi. “Alright then,” Paige said. “They probably didn’t come tonight just to throw us off. They will come next time. All it will take is another note in Gabriella’s face and she will follow for sure, or one of her sidekicks. Come on in, your chicken is getting cold.”
Abbi nodded and followed her drill sergeant inside. As soon as they were inside, JJ sneaked out of the bushes, excited at the fact of telling her friends what happened. She knew three things for sure.
Number 1: Paige and Abbi knew that they were the spies, even if they may not be sure why JJ and her friends were spying.
Number 2: They purposely dropped the notes to see if JJ and her friends would come to investigate.
Number 3: Janae needed to give Bella a case to get her spirits up. Such as, who planted the drugs in Abbi’s bag, and why?

Chapter 10: Questions


“Mr. Duncan is coming soon,” Bella told Natalie and Janae in their dorm room. It was the next morning, and Mr. Duncan had given them permission to skip classes that day to work on the case. He was supposed to be meeting them in their dorm room to discuss it in a few minutes.
Soon they heard a knock on the door. As JJ went to answer it, Bella and Natalie hurried to straighten up their mess in the dorm. Bella, Natalie, and JJ told Mr. Duncan everything they had learned since they had last spoken, which wasn’t much.
“And, we have given Bella the job of finding out the story about the drugs planted in Abbi’s bag, and why our agent told Paige and Abbi we were here. It doesn’t make sense.” JJ shook her head. Bella nodded her head in agreement. “Your right, it doesn’t.” “Mr. Duncan, is there anything we need to know about Brooklyn that Zoey has not told us yet?” Mr. Duncan thought for a moment. “Well, her family was very well off. A few million, I think. Her father made very generous donations to Harvard every month,” Mr. Duncan informed them.
“Brooklyn had a ton of money stashed somewhere in her dorm, but no one ever stole it, or knew where it was.” The three friends looked at each other and raised their eyebrows. That would be a perfect reason to kill or kidnap Brooklyn, to get her stash of money. “Thanks, Mr. Duncan that is a vital piece of information. We will certainly look into that,” Natalie said. Mr. Duncan nodded in approval. “I’m sure you will.”
“Just curious, did Mr. Bates ever donate money to any other companies or colleges?” asked Bella. “Yes, in fact,” Mr. Duncan responded. “He donated, of course, to Harvard, but also to a handful of local restaurants that we not doing so well, and to a few other companies. He owned an insurance company. There was one other insurance company in town, and they were bitter rivals, always trying to steal each other’s clients. That was the one thing that was not so good about Mr. Bob Bates, Brooklyn Bates’ father.” Mr. Duncan finished his lengthy explanation with a sigh.
Then he looked up with a start, as if he had just remembered something that they had not previously discussed. “I have some newspaper articles about Mr. Bates in my office if you would like to look at them,” he offered.
“Yes please!” Bella said eagerly, and she, Natalie, and JJ followed Mr. Duncan to his office. “It will be good to get some answers, I feel like we have an excess of questions,” Bella stated. “I am hungry for some crucial info, and newspaper articles are the perfect places to look.”
Mr. Duncan opened the swinging glass door to his office and held it open as the girls stepped inside. It was wide and spacious, and had thin, gray carpet. It smelled like leather. Mr. Duncan’s desk was covered in neat piles of important looking documents. The girls eyed them with disbelief. How could someone have time for all of that?
Mr. Duncan walked them to one of his many file cabinets. He opened up a drawer, rummaged around, and finally stopped at an olive green hanging file labeled: Bates. He carefully took the hanging file out of the drawer and handed it to Bella.
She took it eagerly, eying the information inside. “Let’s see here,” she muttered. “Mr. Duncan, when was the last time that he donated to the school?” Natalie asked, grabbing a newspaper clipping from the folder Bella was holding.
“That’s the funny thing,” Mr. Duncan said, rubbing his temples and sitting down in the leather swivel chair that sat in front of his computer. “He hasn’t donated to the school yet this month, and he made a pledge to. He hasn’t missed a month since he made the promise six years ago, so I don’t know what has gotten in to him.” “Okay…” Bella said hesitantly. “What do you suggest we do to do better at the case? I was thinking making a list of everyone we know…and then we could look them up to see if they are actual students at Harvard…or if they snuck in to commit the murder. For that, though, we would have to have your permission to snoop in some confidential files. Our agent, Jerry, the one that we will probably fire because he clued Paige Davis in, told us that we should never be afraid to look at secret stuff on a case, as long as it’s for a good cause.”
“I think that’s a wonderful idea, Bella. Why don’t you, Natalie, and Janae start out with making your list? I have some bills to attend to for the new textbooks we purchased. Tell me when you’re ready and we’ll get started. The girls made themselves comfortable. Bella had a pen and paper ready when Natalie started ticking off the names of their acquaintances on her fingers.

Bella Swift’s notes
Melissa Cartridge
James Boller
Paige Davis
Abbi Daniyell
Jordan Latife
Megan Barlow
Becca Sanchez
Nick Larson
Gwen Cramer
Libby Carper
Suzy Yank
Zoey Bates
Yolanda Bates
Matt Smith (Brooklyn Bates’ best friend)
Flo Grotewold
Joe…and his gothic friend

Bella finished listing the names in bullet form and ripped the page out of her notebook. “Okay, we have a list of all the people we have met so far at Harvard. Now, we have to look them all up…even if they are friends…and check to see if they are fakes…or actually belong here,” she concluded. Natalie nodded and put her hand in the middle of the tight circle they had formed. “Let’s do this!” Bella put her hand on top of Natalie’s and Janae put hers on top of Bella’s and on the count of three…they raised their hands to the word Mystery.
Bella Swift was swift on the computer, so she took the swivel chair from Mr. Duncan. He had set up a special format where all she had to do was type in the name and some choices came up. If the people were fakes, then their names would not appear on Mr. Duncan’s computer screen. Bella started out with Melissa Cartridge, honestly hoping that her name would pop up. She really liked Melissa, James, and Nick, and didn’t want to have built up their trust and made friends for no reason.
If they were the murderers, or were involved in it, then they obviously couldn’t be friends. This random check would not conclude for sure if someone did it, because of course, the person that committed the crime could be a student, but they could be a fake also. They had no way of knowing. But, if someone didn’t pop up, then they had a pretty good idea that maybe they needed to check that person out.
Bella sighed with relief when Melissa’s name popped up. Of course, this did not prove anything, but at least Melissa was out of the way for now. She went down the list. James, Paige, Abbi, Jordan…all of their names popped up. She continued down the line. She typed in Matt Smith, the name of the best friend of Brooklyn Bates, who, according to Zoey Bates, also had a crush on Brooklyn. When Bella looked at the results, there was no Matt Smith. Bella frowned, typed the name again, and waited. No results there either. She typed the name one more time, just to make sure she had not made any typos or mistakes the first two times. The name did not come up, but instead, there were names like, Micheal Smithens, Matthias Smith, Noah Smith, and so on. Bella scanned the list with her eyes several times, but she did not see Matt Smith’s name. She shook her head and scrawled down on her paper: Matt Smith…check him out. No results on Mr. Duncan’s computer. She continued to search for each student’s records. Everyone had a file. But then she got down to Joe. She did not know his last name. Debating on what to type in, she decided on just plain Joe. She did this, but all the people that showed up on the computer had last names of Joe, not first names. She shook her head again, made a mental note to find out Joe’s last name, and took her paper over to Natalie and JJ, who were looking at the newspaper clippings about Bob Bates and his insurance company. Suddenly, JJ’s eyes got very wide and she popped up from her seat. “Hey, look at this article!” she said, picking up the paper and pursing her lips before reading it aloud.







Two Insurance Companies in Town Butt Horns







Two insurance companies are found in the neighborhood nearby Harvard
Law School. The two insurance companies have tried to steal each other’s clients since the first day that the second insurance company, Barlow’s Insurance opened, almost putting The Bates Co. out of business. This situation ended in absolute chaos. The Bates Co. was robbed of $200,000 in June of ’04. Bob Bates, the owner of The Bates Co. insurance company immediately blamed Barlow’s Insurance for the robbery. No one really knows the real burglar behind this theft, but police have almost given up. This only added more anger to spread between the two companies. The two men, Nolan Barlow and Bob Bates have been bitter enemies ever since. Bob Bates retired in May of ’07, and his son, Johnny Bates, took over. The recent disappearance of Johnny Bates’ sister, Brooklyn Bates (see A7) has put him on the edge of his seat. With his sister gone, and the steaming insurance feud between the two companies, he is very distraught. “I don’t know what to do anymore, but I don’t want to blame Nolan Barlow for all of this trouble,” Bates said yesterday. Keep reading for more information about the disappearance of Brooklyn Bates, and the Barlow/Bates feud.

Janae finished reading the article, and by the time she was done she was wide eyed. “Do you realize what this means?” she asked, shocked. Bella and Natalie slowly shook their heads. “Brooklyn Bates could have been kidnapped by Nolan Barlow to get revenge on The Bates Co,” JJ explained. “Maybe Megan Barlow has something to do with this.” “I doubt it,” Natalie said. “She seems too timid. And why would she be worried about her family’s business?” “IDK, but it’s time to find out,” Bella said. “We can start working on this more tomorrow, and I also need to get cracking on the case of who planted drugs in Abbi’s bag. JJ nodded. “Yah,” she put in. “Paige almost seemed more upset about it than Abbi was.”
“Mr. Duncan, do you have any old things about Bob Bates, Nolan Barlow, or their companies that may help?” Bella asked. Mr. Duncan stopped but then looked up in surprise. “As a matter of fact…” he started, but quickly got up from the seat and handed Bella her list before he even finished his thought. The girls hurriedly followed him out of the office and up a flight of stairs to a dusty attic.
“So, what is this place Mr. Duncan?” Bella asked, choking on the dust and tripping over a loose floorboard. She coughed. It sure is dusty up here, she thought. And I think I skinned my knee and shin on that stupid floor. They need to fix the floorboard. Suddenly they heard a clatter in the room attached to the main hallway they had entered. They ran down the hall with Mr. Duncan in the lead and JJ trailing behind. When he entered the room he gasped. Bella and Natalie skidded to a stop at the doorway with JJ right at their heels. They gaped for a long moment. Their intruder was frozen with surprise, an important document in her hand that was torn at the edges and yellowed with age. Bella stared in disbelief. “Becca Sanchez?”

Chapter 11: More Work, and More Questions


“Uhh…” Becca stuttered. “It’s not what it looks like.” She quickly hid the document behind her back. Her face was flushed a bright red, and her dark, boiling green eyes sparkled with bad mischief. Her red hair, normally straight against her head and silky, was rumpled and matted, as if she just had gotten out of bed.
Mr. Duncan’s eyebrows furrowed together and his forehead crinkled. He strode up to her angrily and ripped the document out of her hidden hands. “It better not be what it looks like,” he said coldly. “Miss Sanchez, it looks like you have been skipping your morning classes, and snooping in private property. Why don’t you come with me?” Becca reluctantly followed Mr. Duncan, JJ, Natalie, and Bella out of the small room and into the rickety hallway. “Mr. Duncan?” Bella asked timidly. “Could Tara-B, Gabriella, and I stay here? We need to get that paper that we came up here for. One of the professors needs it.” Mr. Duncan caught on at once.
“Sure, I don’t think I need to escort you. Come to my office when you’re done, and I’ll write you passes to your next class. So long girls!” He took Becca’s wrist roughly in his left hand and led her down the hallway and back downstairs.
“How do you always do that? You always remember to use the fake names, and you make up the best and most believable stories!” said Natalie in disbelief when Mr. Duncan and Becca were out of earshot. “I would’ve screwed the whole thing up big time.” Bella laughed. “Yah, but we need to figure out why Becca was up here, and what she was holding. She was being rather careless. The light was on and everything.”
“Yah, but why would she be up here without Jordan Latife? She does everything with that snob. Maybe she’s behind Brooklyn’s disappearance. Why else would she be snooping around in insurance papers about the rival companies?” JJ asked. “Good thinking,” Bella complemented. “Let’s go.”
The girls entered the room and stared at the mess. “Well, it looks like she’s not one for organization,” concluded Natalie, stooping down to pick up the tattered document that Mr. Duncan had ripped out of Becca Sanchez’s hands.
She glanced at it and tossed it to Bella. “Too complicated for me to read,” she stated. “Why don’t you read it silently while JJ and I look through these boxes and old papers and photographs?” Bella nodded and they got to work. While she was reading the advanced looking document, Natalie and JJ were carefully riffling through papers, souvenirs, and boxes. “Hey, look at this!” whispered Janae to Natalie. “It’s an old photograph.”
Natalie took the photo from JJ and flipped it over. “It says Barlow extended family!” she said excitedly. “That means, that if Megan is really related to Nolan Barlow, then she will be in this picture and we will be sure that she really is related to him! Possibly even a grandchild of Nolan.
JJ and Natalie scanned the many people in the picture and finally came across a six-year old version of Megan Barlow. She was as donut lacking as she was now. She had a sweet smile on her face and two missing front teeth.
“That’s her,” Natalie breathed. Her hair was pulled back in a ponytail in the picture, and she had on a Tweety Bird shirt, some jeans, and a pair of sneakers.
“This must be a really old picture!” JJ put in, examining the old photo. She tucked it into the pocket of her sweatshirt and continued rummaging through the contents of the cardboard boxes.
Bella, meanwhile, was still looking over the official looking document that she held gently in her hands. Suddenly she raised her eyebrows, then furrowed them, then raised them again in concentration. She furrowed them one more time, then straightened them out and tucked her short, wispy hair behind her ears and pursed her lips. “Well, it looks like this is just a complaint from the Bates’ Co. They were planning on suing Barlow’s Insurance the amount of money that was stolen. It looks like it never made it to court though.” Bella folded the paper in half twice and handed it to Janae, who tucked it away with the ancient photograph of Megan and her extended Barlow family.











***

The next day, the girls decided to go to class. They figured they would learn a lot about jury’s, suing, laws, and about every other court term, but not the information that they needed to know.
The night before, they had gone over their Harvard files, editing and adding, and discussed all the previous knowledge they had collected about this unusual case. “Well, we actually don’t know too much, when you put it together,” Bella had admitted, and Natalie nodded with agreement.
“We do know that Brooklyn Bates was a friendly Harvard sophomore, and seemed like any other ordinary, smart law student. But, apparently, she had made some enemies, including Jordan Latife and Becca Sanchez. Megan Barlow, Matt Smith, (her wannabe honey pie) and her twin cousins Zoey Bates and Yolanda Bates were her best friends.
There was a big roommate situation so complicated that Zoey Bates ended up in a room with Yolanda and her roommate Suzy Yank. Jordan got a room to herself, and Megan Barlow moved in with Melissa Cartridge and Becca Sanchez.
So, of course Brooklyn Bates’ murderers could have been Jordan Latife, with Becca Sanchez as her helper, or vise versa, simply out of pure hate, we can’t be sure.” “It could have been anyone, but we did see Becca snooping around in an off-limits room,” Natalie put in. JJ nodded. “That’s right,” Bella agreed. “And Joe and his friend were acting suspicious when we heard them talking that one morning.” She shook her head. With tears in her eyes, she plopped down on the couch.
Here she wanted to be the smart one, and she hadn’t figured out anything to help her friends with this mysterious murder case. JJ and Natalie immediately walked over and put their arms around her. “B, it’s ok, I got a case for ya,” Janae encouraged. Bella looked up at her friend curiously through her tears. Natalie was just as surprised, and settled in for the story.


“Ok,” JJ began. “That time you had me go snoop on Paige and Abbi is when I found out that someone planted drugs in Abbi’s bag and she was quarantined and kept under supervision for weeks, until Paige bailed her out. They don’t know who did it, and I think Abbi would appreciate it if you looked into it, Bella. Plus, it might connect to our case somehow.” Bella brightened. “I’ll find out what I can,” she said. JJ and Natalie smiled at each other and got to bed.

The next morning classes went on as usual. The girls were worried. It was towards the middle of the week and they only had a few more days left to solve this case. Of course, Mr. Duncan would give them up to five days of extra excused absence if they needed it, but they didn’t particularly want to stay in Cambridge, and would rather be home on time to see their family and friends from school.

The professors droned on and on, and it seemed like forever before the last bell rang and JJ, Bella, and Natalie raced back to their dorm to scheme and plot their plans. Each girl had their own idea of what they could do to urge the case on and find out some real information.

When they got back together they assigned parts. Bella was looking into Matt Smith, and the planted drugs in Abbi’s bag. Janae was assigned doing research on Joe and his companion, and search the secret room for more crucial articles about Bates and Barlow insurance companies. Natalie had perhaps the hardest job of all. She was assigned to investigate why Becca Sanchez had been snooping in the secret room, look into how Paige and Abbi knew they were the spies and developed the note strategy, and how Jerry, their agent, connected with the case, and Paige.
They planned on working together to find Brooklyn, if she was still alive, and finding the hidden money in her dorm. The three girls separated to investigate, prepared for a late night of detective work.
Chapter 12: Getting Somewhere


Janae strolled along the hallways. She saw some people she didn’t really know, and suddenly saw Abbi walking into Mr. Duncan’s office. She felt horrible for snooping, but it could have something to do with Bella’s case, which involved the planted drugs in Abbi’s sports bag. JJ wondered what sport Abbi played. She hoped she could find something out for Bella. She had been quite gloomy lately. She looked both ways, dodged a donut cart, and sprinted across the hallway.

She skidded to a stop in front of Mr. Duncan’s door. She pressed her ear to the hard, thick door and strained to hear what was being said between the two on the other side. She couldn’t make out the conversation, but she heard a third voice, a rather familiar one. It was Joe, but she didn’t hear his companion. Maybe she could dig up some dirt on Joe for herself, too, since her assignment was to get info on him. Double luck, she muttered under her breath, and pressed her ear to the door once more.

“I honestly didn’t put those drugs there, Mr. D! I was on my way to tennis lessons,” JJ heard Abbi complain faintly. “I’m sorry, Abbi, but unless I can find out a way to prove you innocent, you cannot continue to stay at Harvard, or play tennis here. I wish I could help.”

“Wait a minute,” Joe exclaimed. “This isn’t fair Mr. Duncan.”
“Joe, it’s all I can do for now,” Mr. Duncan answered sharply. JJ heard footsteps coming towards the door. She ducked and pretending to be studying the map outside of Mr. Duncan’s office.
When Joe and Abbi emerged, Abbi looked depressed. Joe put an arm around her. “It’s okay, Abs, we’ll get to the bottom of this thing in no time.” He departed and Abbi sat along the wall, with her head in her hands. JJ slowly tiptoed up to Abbi and sat down next to her.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked casually, as if she hadn’t been standing there eavesdropping. Abbi looked up and Janae saw tears in her eyes. “Um, just something came up,” she explained. JJ looked at her face, washed with salty tears.
“Okay, Abbi, I was the one eavesdropping on you when you were talking about your bag and the drugs planted. My friend Bella knows about it as well, and we are here to help you. Bella will be working with you on how to find the person responsible. I just “happened” to hear you talking with Joe.”
Abbi smiled. “I appreciate your help.” JJ smiled a warm smile. “No prob,” she said. “Let me go get Bella and you can tell her your story. Don’t go anywhere.”
JJ jumped up, and ran back to the dorm to tell Bella, while Abbi waited outside Mr. Duncan’s office wearing a smile.

In a minute, Janae was back with Bella, who was eager to learn about Abbi’s story.
“Hey Abbi, would you want to come to our dorm for awhile?” asked Bella kindly. Abbi nodded shyly and followed JJ and Bella to their dorm room, where Natalie was trying to raid the fridge and put on eyeliner at the same time. “Nat, we have a guest,” JJ hinted. Natalie waved over her shoulder. They heard rummaging and then a “crap” as Natalie stabbed herself in the eye with the eyeliner pencil. She dabbed at it, settled for a bag of goldfish, and closed the fridge.
“Hi,” she said finally, twirling around. “Sit down, and have some goldfish,” Natalie offered. Abbi and JJ giggled, and they all sat down on the couch.
“I play tennis,” started Abbi. “The only other girls on my tennis team that you would know, and that I know really well are Paige and Gwen. Paige is…not so good, but Gwen is amazing at tennis. The next day, Mr. Duncan sent an officer down for a random check they do periodically every other week. It’s this thing where they check every third athlete’s gym bag before we depart for tennis, basketball, swimming, ect. It just so happens, that someone on my tennis team had access to the exact dates the officers were coming, and planted some drug in my bag. I “by chance” happened to be the third tennis player that walked by. The drugs were found. My fellow players were very sympathetic, but a girl that was close by must have made sure I was third in line, so it must be one of my fellow tennis players.”
Natalie nodded. “Good detective work,” she said picking at her eye. “Sorry, continue.”
“Well, the officer alerted Mr. Duncan. I don’t blam





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