Jake, over here!” Nancy Drew cried, waving at her boyfriend, Jake Collins. After breaking through the crowd of Wilder University students gathered on the field of Houston Stadium, Jake reached out and pulled Nancy into his arms.
“Hi, Nan,” Jake said, looking flushed and happy.
“Hi, yourself.” Nancy smiled. “It’s about time you got here. The entire student body is at this pep rally. You wouldn’t want to be the only one on campus to miss it, would you?”
“Of course not,” Jake answered. “Especially not if it means missing out on seeing you.” The crowd roared, and Nancy stood on tiptoe to watch the Wilder University football squad race out from under the goalpost at one end of the huge stadium. As the team members were each introduced, she and Jake cheered for them with everyone else.
This was the biggest pep rally of the year. In less than eighteen hours, the Wilder U. Norsemen would be kicking off against their arch-rivals, Goldwater State. The cheerleaders formed a pyramid in the middle of the field as the marching band followed them onto the field.
Paul Cody walked up behind Nancy and Jake. “Hey, I know you two. You’re just here for the free coffee, right?”
Nancy laughed. “You bet. Where do we get it?” She playfully hooked one of her arms through Paul’s and pretended to drag him off the field. Nancy knew Paul was probably missing his girlfriend, one of Nancy’s best friends, Bess Marvin. Bess had had to pass on the pep rally because of a rehearsal for a series of one-act plays the Wilder Drama Department was putting on.
Before Nancy could say anything more to Paul, she heard a familiar laugh close by and turned to see her other best friend, George Fayne, with George’s roommate, Pam Miller. Both had on heavy sweatshirts and winter running tights.
“Come on, it’s not that cold,” George was saying to Pam. “Anyway, here come the guys with hot coffee,” George added as her boyfriend, Will Blackfeather, and Pam’s boyfriend, Jamal Lewis, joined them. “Now that should get your blood flowing.”
Nancy scanned the packed field. Wilder University sweatshirts and heads in woolly hats were everywhere. She spotted Reva Ross, one of her suitemates from Thayer Hall, weaving across the field through mobs of students.
“Hi, guys,” Reva called out as she and her boyfriend, Andy Rodriguez, joined them. “Anyone seen Eileen?”
“Nope. But she told me she was meeting Emmet here,” Nancy said. “Maybe they met and took off somewhere.”
“Wishful thinking.” Shaking her head, Reva nodded toward the knot of football players and their girlfriends standing nearby. Emmet Lehman was with them, but Eileen O’Connor was no where in sight.
Nancy noticed that Emmet was searching the crowd, too. “Looks like he’s still waiting.”
“Eileen’s nervous about seeing him again,” Reva confided.
“I know,” Nancy said.
Emmet was Paul Cody’s roommate in Zeta House, and he and Eileen had been set up by their friends on a blind date. Nancy knew that they had gotten off to a pretty rocky start on their first date. Eileen told her suitemates that she was definitely attracted to him, but that she was worried about whether they were too different to get along. Emmet was totally into sports, and even though Eileen was on the crew team, she was mainly into painting and sculpture.
Oh well, Nancy thought, if they’re meant to be a couple, they’ll work it out. She turned to Jake and planted a kiss on his cheek.
“What was that for?” he asked, startled. “Not that I’m complaining, mind you.”
“Because I’m so excited for you. When are you going to spill the beans to the rest of your friends?” Nancy stood back, staring into his eyes. “If you don’t say something soon, I’ll do it myself.”
Will eyed him curiously. “What’s up?”
Nancy grinned. “Jake’s got fantastic news. Come on, tell them.”
“Okay, okay,” Jake said. “Remember that article I wrote for the Wilder Times about the white supremacist group on campus?”
“Ugh, even the mention of those racist creeps makes me feel queasy,” Pam said. A number of African-American students, including Pam and Jamal, had been hassled by a group of local racist skinheads whose organization had appeared on campus a few weeks earlier. Jake had written an exposé on the group.
“Sorry,” Pam said. “What about the article?”
“It’s been picked up by the Chicago Daily Herald.” Jake grinned shyly.
“The Herald! That’s a national newspaper!” George cried.
Will clapped him on the back. “You’re famous, man!”
“I guess it is pretty great,” Jake admitted.
“He’s not just Wilder’s star reporter anymore,” Nancy teased. She beamed as she watched Jake accept congratulations from their friends.
Jake was the crack reporter for the campus newspaper, the Wilder Times, and Nancy knew he had dreams of writing for a major city newspaper. She felt sure that he’d fullill them.
“Hey, you guys, they’re building a bonfire.” Pam pointed to the far end of the field. “Let’s get down there.”
Nancy hung back as Jake and the others started moving down the field. She pulled George and Will aside. “Listen,” she said, lowering her voice and talking quickly. “I was thinking of throwing Jake a surprise celebration party next week.”
Will was nodding his head. “Great idea.”
“Wednesday would be perfect,” Nancy continued excitedly. “Everyone will be done with exams by then.”
“Wait a minute, Nan,” George cut in. “Didn’t you just tell me how much work you have in the next few days?”
“I know,” Nancy admitted. “But it’s just a Western Civ paper and a couple of exams. Not every teacher is giving them.”
“But the ones you will have are only twenty-five percent of your entire grade,” George reminded her.
“Well, this is too exciting not to celebrate,” Nancy said. “Jake deserves it, and I’m going to pull it off — exams or no exams!”