The date with Olive was set for that evening. Frank and Joe went to talk with the Hamptons about the explosions at the Riviera. Craig and Monica didn’t want to speak with the Hardys, citing the fact that they were ashamed of what they had done. Con told Frank and Joe that he was sure, just as they had thought, that the Hamptons had never intended for anyone to get hurt. And also like the Hardys, he didn’t feel like the Hamptons were totally innocent.
“It was stupid to try an insurance scam,” Con said.
“I still think they would have set up the explosives after all of the customers were out of the restaurant. After they had closed up,” Joe reiterated.
“Did you ask them about the dude I saw there?” Frank asked.
“Yeah. They wouldn’t talk, but they looked scared,” Con said. He was concerned about the Hardys facing the homicidal maniac responsible for nearly murdering all of the restaurant patrons. “Be careful, guys.”
The evening of Frank’s second date with Olive soon arrived. And he was there at her house promptly.
“Aw, you aren’t wearing your tux,” Olive teased as he once again got her door.
Frank smiled. “Not back from the cleaners yet.”
On the way to the movies, Olive asked, “So, Frank, what was it that made you want to go out with me again? Besides to make up for how obnoxious your brother was.”
“I said I wanted to take you out as a way to apologize for what my brother said,” Frank stated firmly.
“And our first date got interrupted,” Olive said.
“That’s putting it mildly,” Frank remarked. That was pretty much the last thing Frank got to say all the way to Bayport’s largest theater. Olive talked about the romantic comedy they were going to see.
Once there, after getting some snacks to take in with them, they were soon settled in their seats. Right before it started, Frank excused himself to go to the restroom.
Olive tapped her finger nails impatiently on the arm of her seat in the darkened theater until she looked up minutes later. “I was afraid you were going to miss the first part of the movie, Frank! Good thing they showed all of those previews first.”
“Shhhhh!” came the irritated shushing from one of the other movie-goers.
The movie began and Olive watched it at first, but her attention was focused on her date. As she glanced over at him, she was thinking, Can’t he see what a better match I would be than Callie? I know him so much better and love him so much more.
Right before intermission, Olive heard him quietly apologize and once again leave. She sighed and headed out for the restroom herself.
After she had gone by, one movie-goer in the lobby paused from eating a large bucket of popcorn and called someone on the phone. Chet announced to Frank, “She’s on the move.”
“Good,” came the reply.
When the movie started up again, Olive returned to her seat first and wondered if the soda really went through Frank that fast. He probably shouldn’t have gotten the extra-large super-duper size.
Partway through the movie, Olive leaned over, her perfume wafting over her poor date who tried not to cough. “Frank, I’m sorry. I realize I need to make a call. Will you excuse me?” She could see the dark-headed nod in the dark theater. “Be back as soon as possible.”
In the lobby she hurried outside, brushing by Phil as he looked at the movie posters. Seeing her in his peripheral, he called Frank on his cell. “It’s a go.”
“Now the real show can start,” Frank said.
After Olive returned, and as the credits ran on the huge screen in front of them, she looked over at Frank. “This was sensational, don’t you think?”
He grinned. “Do you want me to answer that?”
“If you want sensational, come with me,” he said mysteriously, standing up and offering her his arm.
A smug look on her face, Olive placed her arm through his, and they headed for the lobby.
“Where are we going?” she asked, curiously.
They got to Frank’s car and were soon on the road. Olive didn’t know that the car in front of them belonged to Tony Prito. She did recognize that they were heading to her house. She looked over at the handsome man in the driver’s seat.
“We’re going to my house?”
True to his word, they stopped at Olive’s and Frank got out and opened the door for her.
“Do you do that for Callie, too?” Olive asked.
“Every time I have the chance,” he replied.
Olive didn’t like that, but at least Frank was opening the door for her not Callie at that moment.
He offered her his arm, and they walked up to the front door. Olive started to get her key out, but stopped in surprise when Frank proceeded to ring the doorbell.
“Why are you ringing the doorbell? I’m right here.”
“Yes, but your sisters are in there,” Frank replied with a raised brow.
Olive’s mouth started to fall open, wondering if Frank had figured out everything. “You mean, my sister. I never said she was here.”
“I mean your sisters.” Frank looked at her evenly. “As in your two sisters who look exactly like you.”
The oldest, by a minute, of the Olive triplets hurried out of the back door. And ran right into a tall, dark, handsome man. In the dark light, she almost mistook him for Frank.
She looked at him in shock. “You’re not Frank.”
“No, my name’s Ned. Frank doesn’t purposely go out with three women at one time, so he asked for some help.” Ned smiled. “The first part of the movie was funny, but I guess neither one of us knows what happened next.”
“When the movie started that was you who was there sitting next to me?”
“That’s right,” Ned stated then said with assurance, “And your other sister is still in the house.”
Olive’s eyes widened. “How do you know that?”
“Let’s go and find out, shall we?” He opened the door back up for her and they went into the house.
Already standing in the living room were Frank and the first Olive he’d met. A knock on the door sounded and Frank went over to answer it. Tony was standing there.
“Is this where the party of the year is?” he grinned. Frank smiled and nodded.
“I don’t understand,” Olive said. “What makes you think there are three of us and that we’re identical?”
“I think they’ve figured it out,” her sister said from the doorway, with Ned standing next to her. They stepped into the living room.
“But how?” she wailed.
“I’d like to know the why myself,” Frank said. “Why did all three of you try to trick me?”
“Oh, we did trick you!” Olive snapped. “And who says there are three of us?”
“We can count,” a voice came from the doorway. Joe stood there, with the third Olive. “This one was trying to leave by car.”
“When did you figure it out?” asked the Olive standing next to Frank. “How?”
“Well, there were a few different things. You three look a lot alike, but one of you had different perfume on at the Riviera. I thought then that you had just added it, but later thinking about it, didn’t seem like a mixture, more like an entirely different perfume.” Frank looked at each of the sisters. “You purposely tried to talk the same.”
“You were the ones who took the box!” accused one of the Olives. “You broke into our house!”
Frank slipped the box out of his pocket and handed it to the one next to him. “No, the door wasn’t closed all the way.”
“Wait,” one of the triplets held up her hand. “I still don’t know how you knew where we were.”
Frank smiled. “We had friends all over the theater, ready to put a tracker on each of you, usually in your pocket, after you went to switch places with one of your sisters. Like you did at the Riviera. Tony had the signals and tracked you to your house. That’s why we came here.”
“I want to know – what’s in the box?” asked Tony.
“Their actual ID’s with their real names along with some more aliases,” Joe told him. “But my brother figured it out before we found the box. That just confirmed what was suspected.”
“Joe was the one who saw one of you bump into a chair with the arm that was supposed to be injured and not react at all,” Frank said. “So why were you girls trying to trick me by all of you going on the date?”
The Olive next to him sighed and after glancing at her sisters, explained, “We wanted to trick the great Frank Hardy.” Then she looked up at him. “And wanted to go out with you.”
Seeing the moment of honesty in her eyes, Frank’s expression softened and he wasn’t sure what to say. Joe, on the other hand, had something to say.
“Well, that’s not criminal, but-,” Joe was about to continue when there was a ruckus at the back door. Chet and Biff burst in, holding an angry looking individual firmly by the arms.
“This dude had been busy setting up explosives when we first got here, before you two arrived,” Chet told Frank and Olive. “He took off, but we caught up with him and tackled him. The explosives hadn’t been activated yet.”
Frank recognized him as the suspicious guy he’d seen at the Riviera the night of the fire. “You were trying to kill Olive.”
The murderer didn’t say anything, just sneered.
“Yeah, we saw him at the fire when we were trying to get out of the restaurant. All three of us were there. He was dressed up as a firefighter. Probably coming to make sure he finished the job,” said Olive from next to Frank.
“I know why he was trying to kill them. They took money that the person who hired him for the hit considered his,” Joe stated. He held up a laptop. “She had this in her bag. Has some interesting files on it.”
“Why do you say that?” asked Olive, wondering how he knew.
“That’s a secret.” Joe said maddeningly and grinned.
“So do you know the name of who you’ve been taking money from?” Frank asked Olive.
“Yeah.” She didn’t look at him. Then she exclaimed, “He stole the money from others!”
“Ah, so you three are Robin Hoodettes,” Joe said. The Olive next to him loved that and smiled up at him.
Looking fiercely at the fixer, Biff asked, “So where’s the dude who hired you?”
The fixer refused to talk.
“We could lock him in a room with the never-stops-talking Olive and she could talk to him until he tells her who he’s working for,” Joe suggested. The truth serum had totally worn off by now.
The obnoxious Olive, who had annoyed Frank the most, glared, but the sister standing next to Joe laughed.
“You do talk about nothing sometimes,” she told her sister, still laughing. She looked over at Joe, again thinking, He’s cute, too!
“Nah, I guess not. That would probably fall under cruel and unusual,” Joe said.
The fixer almost looked relieved to hear that.
“We could get him to talk,” Olive said. She looked at her sisters and they nodded.
The Olive triplets did get the information from the fixer, after he’d been given a concoction to loosen his tongue. He told them the name of his boss and how to contact him. Also, that the insurance scam arson had been a cover-up to murder Olive, whom he’d found out was in Bayport. Before he had been able to find her blocked address he was actually hired by the Hamptons to burn their restaurant down.
He knew Olive would be there on a date and decided to make some extra money from the Hamptons at the same time. He set up the owners to take the fall, even for murder. He had hacked into their credit card accounts and added the items to build the explosives.
The Riviera owners had made it easy on him, since they really did want the insurance money and couldn’t afford the extravagant restaurant. He had threatened them to never speak of his part in it, and they had no intention of crossing him. He had called the owners away from the restaurant so they wouldn’t be there for the explosions and could take the blame. Some of the explosives didn’t go off as planned and had only ignited when the fire reached them.
The Bayport Police came to arrest the fixer and the Olives. Frank and Joe made sure to include in their statements that the Olive sisters had helped with the case and the money they had absconded with had first been illegally obtained by someone else.
As they were being hauled away, the triplets looked back to see Callie standing next to Frank, Nancy next to Ned, and Iola next to Joe. The girlfriends looked at the Olive Charltons and stated, “He’s mine,” referring to their respective boyfriends, who had their arms around them.
Much later, after statements and taking their girlfriends home, Frank drove back to the Hardy home. He glanced over at his brother in the passenger seat. “That was great work getting the information from the laptop.”
“That’s going to drive Olive nuts trying to figure that out,” laughed Joe. After he had seen Olive going for her car, he had blocked her while Nancy grabbed the laptop and gave it to Phil to check out. The information he’d gleaned was then sent to Fenton Hardy who had been working on the case in Chicago. Fenton had actually just found out on his own that very information. He arrested the CEO who had called the hit out on Olive and had nearly killed his sons as well.
Both criminals that the Hardys were after and Nancy and her dad were after held positions at Manifest Corporation, but were separate.
Frank had another question on his mind that he kept meaning to ask his brother. “So where did you place on the ‘Bayport’s Favorite Bachelor’ poll?”
Joe shrugged and grinned. “My name was on there at first, but then mysteriously disappeared. We’ll never know whether you or I would have gotten more votes.”
“I’m glad you didn’t use the word ‘won’. With a date like Olive and her sisters, I wouldn’t call that a win by any stretch of the imagination.”
As soon as they could, the Hardys, their girlfriends, and friends had a big party, which included cakes from Morton’s Dessert Kitchen, to celebrate life and love.
Never the end!