HARDYS INN DANGER by Ann
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
“This place is really booked up,” Nancy said. “We got here just after midnight and even though we weren’t late, they had already given away our rooms!”
“You’re kidding,” I said. “Where are Bess, George, and your dad?”
“They’re here. The management ‘found’ two more rooms, upgrades even, when Dad mentioned he’s a lawyer,” Nancy explained. “We had reserved rooms months ago for the second day of the show and on since we knew we wouldn’t be able to make it here for the first day.”
“So who are these two thugs?” I asked gesturing toward the still-unconscious dudes on the floor. Nancy had just called the police. While she did that, I borrowed Ned’s phone to call Joe. I was waiting for my brother to answer. Soon. As in right now.
“I have no idea,” Nancy answered.
“They just showed up and attacked us,” Ned stated. “Maybe they’re angry we got the last rooms.”
“That’s possible.” I had immediately checked for ID right before Nancy called the police and neither of the attackers had any on them. I had a feeling this wasn’t random, but why attack guests who had just arrived? Maybe they were specifically waiting for Nancy and her crew. Not a very good welcome to Bayport for our friends from Illinois.
My phone, which Joe had, was on vibrate so it wouldn’t give away my brother and Tony’s location if any suspects were nearby. I had shown Joe how to answer it so he should be doing that any minute. I started walking toward the elevator.
“Stealing my phone, Hardy?” Ned asked with a friendly grin.
“You didn’t give me a time limit or any roaming stipulations when you let me borrow it,” I replied dryly.
I had already told them that Joe and Tony were checking out a lead not far from here. I didn’t want to give too much information out loud in case either of the thugs were waking up.
Ned and Nancy laughed and she said, “Talk like that around my Dad and he’s going to try to get you to become a lawyer.” Then she was serious. “Hope Joe and Tony are okay.”
I nodded. Me, too. “You two got this?” I asked referring to the unconscious thugs as the elevator doors slid open.
“Yes. Call if you need help,” Ned answered.
Another nod from me then with one stride I was in the elevator. Hitting the button to close the doors and go to the ground level, I gave a quick wave to Nancy and Ned.
It felt like it took at least forever to get there. The jerk behind the desk looked over as I exited the elevator. He demanded to know what I was still doing there. Ignoring him, I walked at a pace that looked casual, but with long strides, which got me to the outside doors very quickly. I wasn’t going to waste any time answering some self-important moron.
My eyes readjusted to the darker lighting of the parking lot. Continuing to walk briskly, I moved quietly toward the area where the truck was parked. I was thankful to see it still there. No sign of my brother and Tony, though. They would be hidden, so that didn’t mean anything had gone wrong.
I looked around, trying to spot the pssssst-er in the brush near the truck. Moving through the foliage, I got to the clearing. Joe was helping Tony stand up.
“You guys okay?” I asked in a low tone as I moved to help steady Tony.
“Yeah,” Tony muttered, shaking his head to clear it. “Good thing Joe showed up when he did. Thanks, buddy.”
“That’s okay,” Joe said with a modest shrug. “They were just about to take off anyway. That siren going off down the road helped clear them out of here.”
“So what happened?” I asked curiously.
“Well, I just barely had time to check the contents of one of the crates and get it closed back when several guys showed up to – get this – rip off the truck!” Tony said, rubbing his left shoulder.
“You’re kidding,” I responded.
“I think they really did want to steal it,” Joe said. “I would have thought it was a plan to leave the truck and it be unloaded and carted off in another truck. But the conversation Tony overheard made it sound like they weren’t with the other gang who had loaded up this truck.”
“Hmmm,” I thought that over. “Did they see either of you?”
“I’m afraid they saw me,” Tony said with a chagrined expression. He went on to explain. “I didn’t have time to get out of the truck, so I hid. Not too many places to hide, let me tell you. They hauled me out of there and we were fighting when Joe came up to help me.”
“Sorry I wasn’t there to help, too,” I said, patting Tony on the back.
“No problem,” Tony assured me.
“So what was in the crates?” I asked.
“Bottles.” Tony looked amazed. “Brand new glass bottles.”
Joe nodded in understanding. “For bootlegging.”
Tony raised a brow and looked at Joe. “Did you say ‘bootlegging’?”
“Yes, one of Notting’s crimes is illegal alcohol,” Joe explained with such seriousness that Tony looked at me.
“Uh, we should be getting back,” I said. I held up Ned’s phone. “Nancy and Ned had a run-in with some thugs and the police are going to be arriving any second. I’ve got to get Ned’s phone back to him.”
“All kinds of things happening, huh?” Tony remarked.
“Yep,” I agreed. “Either of you need hospital attention?”
It was pretty dark out so I wasn’t sure about their injuries. We didn’t really want to draw attention to where we were since a car had pulled in to the inn’s parking lot.
“Nope,” Tony answered. “I’m good.”
“No hospital,” came my brother’s classic reply.
Once Joe and Tony were in the car, I called Nancy to see how to unobtrusively return Ned’s phone. Bess and George came down to the lobby then stepped outside to meet me. They greeted me with smiles and a quick hug each.
“Joe and Tony okay?” George asked.
“As much as ever,” I replied with a grin handing Ned’s phone to her. “We’ll catch up with you guys tomorrow.”
“Sounds good,” Bess said with a grin. “Can’t wait to dress up in the 1920s clothes!”
“It’s been a pretty successful and fun event so far,” I commented.
“First we need to get some sleep,” George said emphatically.
“We need to find out why those two attacked Nancy and Ned.” I frowned and looked up at the inn. Was this place turning into a haven for gangsters? Sure seemed like it. “All of you guys be careful, okay?”
I saw Carson Drew through the glass doors of the inn and waved as I opened the door in honor of Bess and George. They entered the lobby after saying thank you to me. Nancy’s dad waved back as he waited for the desk clerk to look something up.
After leaving the inn, I drove back to where Tony had left his car at the wharf. Joe and I both asked him to make sure he was up to driving. He assured us he was.
Finally driving home, my brother and I discussed the mysteries that were surrounding the car and air show. Sometimes the answers to the present and future can be found in the past.