“Watch it, babe!”
Nancy Drew jumped sideways as two beefy delivery men pushed past her, carrying 1950s-style chrome soda-fountain stools up the stairs to the porch of the Kappa sorority house.
What is all this? Nancy wondered. Another one of Kappa’s pledge pranks? It looks like they’re opening a restaurant.
“Coming through!” called one of the men. “Someone open the door!”
Nancy’s close friend Bess Marvin threw open the door.
“Oh, wow! They look even better than when I saw them at the rental place.” Bess motioned to the delivery men. “This way. Bring them into the back,” she said excitedly, her blue eyes sparkling.
From the porch Nancy waved, catching Bess’s attention. “Hi, Nan,” Bess said distractedly, then turned to watch the progress of the stool delivery. “No, not back there. That way,” she called, pointing to the dining room.
Nancy laughed as she ducked inside the Kappa house after the men. She was immediately flattened against the wall as several of Bess’s sorority sisters raced through the hall with boxes loaded with straws and napkins.
“It’s a danger zone around here,” Nancy said.
“Don’t mind them. C’mon, follow that chrome,” Bess said, leading Nancy toward the dining room.
“Soda fountain stools?” Nancy asked, shaking her head. “I know Kappas really go all out for their parties, but decorations from a restaurant supply store? Pretty crazy!”
“Crazy is exactly what we’re going for: 1950s crazy. We’re doing a theme here for the opening night party tomorrow night,” Bess said.
“Of course! Grease! is set in the 1950s,” Nancy replied, smacking her forehead.
Bess grinned and pushed up the sleeves of her Wilder University sweatshirt. Then she consulted the clipboard she was carrying. “The stools are going to be seating for the party,” she told Nancy. “They’re cool, huh?”
Nancy nodded. “They’re exactly right.”
Kappa sorority was hosting the opening night party of Wilder University’s Drama Department production of the musical Grease! Since Kappa was the house most noted for its involvement in the arts, it was the natural choice to put on the event.
Bess walked over to a counter that had been decorated to look like one in a 1950s soda fountain. “Set them down here,” she said to the delivery men, indicating the area in front of the soda fountain.
Nancy examined the shiny metal napkin dispensers and old-fashioned condiment racks set on the counter.
“Everything looks great, doesn’t it?” Bess asked. She plunked herself down on a seat and swiveled around.
Nancy smiled at her friend’s enthusiasm and took a seat on another stool by the soda dispenser. She scanned the old-fashioned posters of cheeseburgers and malteds and thought how much this all reminded her of some of the old hangouts where she and Bess sometimes went in their hometown of River Heights.
“I just stopped by to say hi, but it looks like you guys could use some help,” Nancy said.
Bess nodded as the men brought in another set of stools. “After we get these seats arranged, I could use some help with hanging old records from the ceiling. I don’t have much time before rehearsal.”
Moments later she and Nancy were sitting on the floor of the Kappa living room, combing through boxes of old records. Nancy dusted them off and handed them to Bess, who threaded fishing line through them. Around the room, several Kappa women were chatting and securing hooks into the ceiling.
“Boy, did you see those Sigma guys earlier today?” asked one girl with short dark hair.
“That’s Devon.” Bess laughed. In a louder voice she said, “Biggest flirt in our pledge class.” The woman turned and gave Bess a mock scowl.
“That honor didn’t go to you?” Nancy teased her friend.
Bess grinned. “Surprise, huh?” She tied an elaborate knot in the fishing line. “Okay, after we’re finished putting string on these records, we’ll hang them from the hooks in the ceiling.”
Nancy glanced around. “I can’t get over how you’ve transformed this whole place. I like the pennants you’ve hung everywhere, too,” she said. “Talk about atmosphere. You’ve completely out done yourselves.”
“I hope so,” another pledge said. “We don’t need the upper-class sisters giving us a hard time.”
Nancy turned to Bess. “Oh, come on. Would they really do that? You’ve all worked so hard.”
“You’d be surprised,” Bess murmured.
Just then a couple of upper-class sisters strode in casually, but Nancy could tell they were inspecting everything.”We’re going to hold the skit up there on that platform,” Bess said, lowering her voice and jerking her chin toward the front of the room by the bay window.
“Skit?” Nancy looked puzzled.
Bess nodded. “Every year, the pledges have to perform a skit during a Kappa party.”
One of the upper class women looked over at Bess. “So what’s the skit about, Bess?” she cajoled. “You can tell us.”
“Not a chance,” Bess replied, and whispered to Nancy, “Just my luck. This year they picked the opening night party to make us perform the skit. Here I am with a part in Grease! and I have to perform in a goofy pledge skit during my own opening night party.” Bess sighed.
Nancy laughed. “I can’t wait,” she said. “I bet the skit will be the highlight of the party.”
“Well, I hope it’ll be good,” Bess replied. “Come on, Nancy, I think they’re ready for us to string these babies up.”
Soon Nancy and Bess were perched on ladders, hanging records. As she worked, Nancy allowed her mind to wander to the next night’s event, when she’d be back here with Jake Collins. Nancy shivered with anticipation.
Although she’d had lots of dates before, not to mention a longtime boyfriend, somehow Jake was different. He was a very cute junior who worked with her on the Wilder Times, the campus newspaper. This wasn’t major romance material or anything yet. After her recent breakup with longtime boyfriend, Ned Nickerson, and a rocky romance with a guy named Peter Goodwin that never really got going, Nancy knew better than to jump feet first into another relationship. Still, she couldn’t help noticing the way her stomach got fluttery whenever she thought of Jake. She closed her eyes and pictured herself dancing with him, her cheek resting lightly on his shoulder….
“I can tell you’ve got Jake on the brain,” Bess said.
“Oh, you think so?” Nancy replied, wondering if she really were that transparent.
“Yeah, I do,” Bess said. “I’ve known you practically all my life, and I think I can tell when you’ve got a guy on your mind. It’s this look you get.”
“Hmmm,” Nancy said.
Suddenly she saw that Bess had stopped stringing and let a record drop to the floor. “Oh, no,” she said, glancing at her watch. “I’m late for rehearsal!”
“And I forgot I’ve got to meet George at the Student Union,” Nancy added, carefully descending her ladder while holding the remaining records. “We’ve got some important shopping to do.”
Bess was already off her ladder. “Say hi to my dear old cousin,” she said. “And tell her I’ll see her tomorrow night.”
Nancy and Bess bolted from the Kappa house into the late afternoon sunshine, each headed in a different direction.