Over The Edge – First Chapter

Chapter 1

“Nancy, watch where you’re going!” With a shudder, Bess Marvin glanced at the waves dashing against the rocks below the cliff road and squeezed her eyes shut. “You’re going to get us killed.”

Nancy Drew, hands competently gripping the wheel of the rented jeep, shot a quick look at her friend. “Calm down, Bess,” she called into the sea breeze that was blowing her hair back from her face into a red-gold halo. “I’m in complete control.”

“Yeah, come on, Bess,” George Fayne said from the backseat. “Relax.” Leaning forward, she touched her cousin Bess’s arm. “Open your eyes. The Oregon coast is one of the most beautiful in the world, and you’re missing it.”

Bess just shook her head and yanked her floppy khaki hat down over her eyes. She slid even lower in her seat. “If we’re going to die, I don’t want to watch it happening.”

“Sometimes I don’t understand you,” George said, shaking her head. “Only a couple of hours ago we were in a plane that was five miles up in the air. You weren’t scared then. But now you’re terrified because we happen to be a few hundred feet above the ocean waves.”

“And rocks — don’t forget the rocks,” Nancy teased.

“Stop it, you two,” Bess wailed. “You’re not being fair. Anyway, a plane’s different. You’re closed in, in a nice comfy seat, with someone bringing you food — ” She paused to sigh, a smile on her face. “That cabin attendant was adorable, wasn’t he?”

“Now, that’s the Bess I know and love.” George grinned.

George caught Nancy’s eye in the rearview mirror, and they exchanged knowing smiles. Bess could be on an arctic iceberg and still manage to find a cute guy.

George and Bess were cousins as well as best friends, but they were complete opposites. George had short, curly dark hair, dark eyes, and the long, toned body of an athlete. Bess was blond with a short, curvy body and a two-track mind — boys and food.

“Okay, I’ll admit this is a fairly gorgeous place,” Bess said, forgetting her fears long enough to raise the brim of her hat and peer around. “But I’ll still be glad to get off this road. How much farther to Club High Adventure?” Then she added with a low mutter, “As if we need more adventure after this!”

“Not too far,” Nancy assured her.

“Hey,” George said, “for a few minutes there I almost forgot we’re here on a case.” She made a sweeping motion toward the pine- and alder-covered hills that rose sharply to the left of their jeep. “I was only thinking about getting on my hiking boots and tackling these mountains.”

Bess glanced at Nancy with a small, worried frown. “Do you think it’s going to be a dangerous case?”

“It doesn’t sound all that serious. And it’ll probably take only a day or two to clear up.” Then she laughed. “But how many times have I said that, and then it’s turned out to be just the opposite?”

At the age of eighteen, Nancy had established herself as a world-class detective. As the daughter of a well-known criminal attorney, Carson Drew, Nancy received many cases through her father. This one at Club High Adventure was no exception.

Marva Phillips, the daughter of an old college friend of Mr. Drew, had called him about the problems she was having with the club she had inherited at her father’s death three years ago. Mr. Drew suggested that Nancy was just the person to help find a solution to the death threats Marva’s guests had been receiving.

Although no real attempt had been made against anyone, Marva was afraid that her business would be ruined. On the phone she pointed out to Nancy that there wasn’t a guest in the world who would voluntarily visit a resort where there was the possibility of being killed.

Nancy had agreed that the sooner she got to Oregon, the better. So after some hurried packing, Nancy, Bess, and George had boarded a plane to Portland, Oregon.

“Well, I sure hope we can find out who’s sending the threats and fast,” George said. “That way we’ll have time to enjoy ourselves. Just looking at that brochure Marva sent you makes me drool. A resort totally devoted to wilderness sports, like rock climbing and kayaking and spelunking — ” She closed her eyes and leaned back. “Now, that’s my idea of heaven.”

“I’ll tell you what activity I think sounds like heaven,” Bess piped up, checking her wind blown hair with the aid of a pocket mirror. “The evening barbecues with dancing under the stars.” She cocked her head to one side. “Do you suppose they have a cute dancing instructor?” She shook her head at her own question. “Never mind. I’ll find someone. Maybe a personal trainer. I’m glad I brought my new striped leotard — “

“I don’t mean to interrupt,” Nancy said, laughing. “But do either of you see a sign?” Nancy had downshifted and slowed the jeep to almost a crawl. The high hills to their left had fallen off into a thickly wooded ravine. “Marva said there’d be a sign to mark the entrance. But I don’t see a space even wide enough to be called a driveway.”

As they rounded the next bend, Bess pointed excitedly. The sign read: “Entrance to Club High Adventure.” Nancy smiled and turned the jeep onto a narrow lane.

The gravel road climbed through a series of tight turns. Lush walls of overhanging trees on either side almost blocked out the sunlight. At ground level and nearly choking the road, light green ferns mixed with rich, dark rhododendrons, whose branches were almost solid with huge pink flowers. Nancy had to shift the jeep down to first.

“Talk about a wilderness getaway,” Bess commented. “I almost expect to see Big Foot jump out from behind a rhododendron.”

“You never know,” George said. “This is the northwest. And if there really is a Big Foot, this is his stomping ground.”

“Thanks. I really needed that.” Bess groaned at George’s joke. “How much farther, Nan?”

“Not too far, I hope. I’m glad we went for the four-wheel drive,” Nancy said as their jeep bumped along the narrow gravel road.

“Yeah,” George said. “We’d never make it if we’d listened to Bess and rented that red sports — ” She broke off as they took the last steep turn. Suddenly they were out of the woods and at the top of the cliff.

Ahead of them lay a gentle sloping meadow, in the middle of which sat a cluster of buildings. Rising behind these were steps of increasingly taller hills, which finally led up to the high coastal mountains.

“That must be the main lodge,” Nancy said, stopping the jeep long enough to take in her surroundings. She was pointing to a long, low contemporary structure of redwood and glass that sat at the edge of a sparkling crater lake. There were three small sailboats on the water, tacking into the breeze.

“Hmmm — that looks great,” George said, watching the boats. “And it’s one sport where I don’t need lessons.”

“Yeah,” said Bess with a snort. “Along with karate, deep-sea diving, bicycling — Hey, check that out,” she exclaimed. She was pointing almost directly overhead. “What kind of kite is that? It’s huge.”

Nancy stopped the jeep. The three girls hopped out and looked up to see a large yellow kite like object floating above them. “It isn’t a kite, Bess,” George said when she got a good look. “It’s a hang glider. See, there’s the pilot.”

The glider had circled so that now they could see a white-helmeted figure hanging be low the glider’s sail. The pilot was holding onto a bar similar to that on a trapeze.

“That’s the control bar,” George explained, pointing.

“Now, that’s something I’d really like to learn how to do,” Nancy said with enthusiasm.

“Definitely,” George agreed.

“What’s definite,” Bess said with a shudder, “is that you two are insane if you want to try anything that dangerous.”

“Aw, come on, Bess,” George coaxed. “Nothing could be better than flying on your own steam.”

“You know what my idea of fun is,” Bess retorted. “A pool, a bronzed hunk, and — Hey, that’s pretty weird, the way that guy’s flying that thing. What’s he doing, anyway?”

“I don’t know. Maybe some new kind of maneuver.”

George was frowning.The glider had stopped making its wide, lazy circles, and was instead stuttering with short jerks in midair. All at once, the yellow material began to ripple and then flap in the wind, as the glider rocked back and forth.”Nancy!” George grabbed her friend’s arm.

“Doesn’t it look like that guy’s in trouble?” As she spoke they watched the pilot frantically maneuvering the control bar, first pushing, then — apparently realizing that was the wrong move — pulling it back against himself. As he did, the glider’s nose dipped, the flapping stopped, and he appeared to be in control again.

“Whew,” George said. “He’s okay. Boy, that was scary. For a second I thought he was going to cr — ” She stopped talking, mouth open.

The glider had once more come to a shuddering stop. This time, though, before the pilot could do anything, it started to fall, spinning toward the ground just in front of them.

“He is crashing!” Bess screamed.

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