Read This Side of Evil Online

Authors: Carolyn Keene

This Side of Evil

BOOK: This Side of Evil
6.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Carolyn Keene

This Side of Evil

Chapter One


H
EY, THIS ISN’T
bad!” George Fayne exclaimed, looking around the nicely furnished apartment. “Not bad at all.” She sat down on the floor in front of the stereo and began to fiddle with the knobs, tuning in a rock music station. “Look—there’s even a VCR,” she added. “If we get bored, we can always rent a movie.”

Nancy Drew shrugged out of her black linen jacket and walked into the bedroom. Twin beds—room for both her and George. Ned Nickerson, Nancy’s longtime boyfriend, could sleep on the living room sofa. “You’re right,” she agreed happily as she walked back into the living room. “Pretty neat. There’s even a kitchen, so we can fix our own meals if we want to.”

The apartment where they were to stay during their trip to Montreal, Canada, was small. It was on the sixth floor, though, and had a terrific view of the Saint Lawrence River. Nancy went to the window and looked out across the wide and gray river, which was crowded with ships. In the distance was a green island, dotted with oddly shaped buildings.

“That’s Sainte-Hélene’s Island,” Ned said, coming up behind Nancy. “Where Expo Sixty-seven was held.” He slipped his arm around Nancy’s shoulders affectionately. “Maybe the world-famous detective could take a couple of hours off work to go sightseeing over there,” he suggested.

Nancy returned his hug. “I hope so,” she murmured, leaning against him. It was great to have Ned with her on this case. They’d been apart so often in the past few months that just being with him was like being on vacation—even if she
did
have to work. She thought back to her last case,
Wings of Fear
, which had taken Bess and her to Seattle, without Ned.

Nancy was in Montreal at the request of Ashley Amberton, executive secretary at Cherbourg Industries, to investigate a blackmailing operation within the company. It shouldn’t be a big job, Ashley Amberton had told her, and it should leave some time for fun.

First, only George was going to accompany Nancy. But since Ned was on a break from Emerson College, he decided to come along as well to give Nancy a hand and—he said—to make sure she took some time off. This couldn’t have made Nancy happier; it was spring, and spring in Montreal was beautiful and could be very romantic.

“Can you see Olympic Stadium?” George asked eagerly, coming to the window. She ran her fingers through her short, curly dark hair. “I can’t wait to go running there.”

“According to the map, the stadium’s over that way.” Nancy pointed upriver. “But I told you, George, I don’t think there’s a track in Olympic Stadium any longer. I’ve seen the Montreal Expos playing baseball on TV there, and I’ve never seen a track.”

“There’s got to be a track in there somewhere,” George argued. “I mean, you don’t just
destroy
a place like that.” She laughed, her dark eyes sparkling. “The case of the missing track—I guess that’s the first mystery we have to solve.”

Nancy tossed her shoulder-length reddish gold hair. “That’s
your
mystery,” she told George, glancing at her watch. “I’ve got my own to solve. I’d better get going.”

“Let me get my camera, and I’ll walk with you part of the way,” Ned said, picking up his tan windbreaker. “I’m going sightseeing.”

 

Cherbourg Industries Ltd. occupied a tall chrome-and-glass building on Saint-Antoine Street in downtown Montreal, only a short walk from their apartment. Nancy took the elevator to Ashley Amberton’s office on the fifteenth floor.

The office was wonderfully luxurious. Ms. Amberton must be a powerful person at Cherbourg Industries, Nancy thought, looking around. There was a balcony overlooking the river, velvety carpet on the floor, even a television set. A large telescope stood beside the window. Curious, Nancy bent over to peer through it. All she could see, though, was a large gray cargo ship with
Cherbourg
on the side. It was docked beside a mountain of crates on the wharf. Not a very inspiring view.

“And have you deduced the purpose of the telescope, Nancy Drew?” a woman asked coolly, her clipped speech emphasizing her air of efficient authority. The woman who had come into the room was tall and attractive in a tailored navy suit. Her black hair was pulled back into a French braid. Behind her black-rimmed glasses, her eyes were a pale, icy blue. She appeared to be around thirty.

Nancy straightened up. It was definitely the woman she had spoken to on the telephone, Ashley Amberton. “I suppose,” Nancy said with a smile, “that you’re checking out the Cherbourg dockings.”

“Exactly,” Ms. Amberton said, sitting down in the black leather chair behind the massive desk. “I report the exact time of each ship’s arrival directly to Mr. Cherbourg.” She gave Nancy a measuring look. “I must say I’m surprised. From all I’ve read about you and your successes, I expected someone older.”

Nancy grinned and took the chair in front of the desk. It was a comment she was used to hearing from her clients. “Youth doesn’t necessarily mean inexperience, does it?” she replied meaningfully as she glanced around the elegant office. Ashley Amberton had obviously come a long way in a short time herself.

Ms. Amberton raised her thinly plucked eyebrows and gave a crisp nod. “I trust you’re getting settled into the suite—you and your friends,” she said. “You
did
bring your friends?”

Nancy nodded. “Ned’s gone sightseeing, and George is trying to find out what they’ve done with the track in Olympic Stadium. She wants to run there.”

“Good. I hope they find Montreal interesting for the short while you’re here,” Ms. Amberton said with a smile. “I mean, this should be a very easy case for a detective of your spectacular talents, Ms. Drew. I’m sure you’ll wrap it up in no time.”

“I hope so.” Nancy took out her notebook. “Why don’t you tell me what you know about these blackmail schemes?”

“Very well. There are three cases, so far as I know,” Ms. Amberton said, leaning back in her chair and removing her glasses. “The first involves my secretary, Monique Levere.” She nodded toward a glass window. Nancy could see a secretary at work in the adjacent office. “Monique usually sits there, but she’s at home with the flu today.”

Nancy raised her pencil. “Would it be possible for me to interview her at home this afternoon?”

“Of course. I’ll have Cynthia phone and tell her to expect you.” Ms. Amberton picked up the telephone and spoke into it briefly. She sounded like someone who was used to being obeyed. In the outer office, the secretary hung up the phone and made a note on her pad.

“The second victim,” Ms. Amberton continued, looking back at Nancy, “is one of our file clerks, Becky Evans. She works down at the end of the hall.”

“And the third?”

“The third,” Ms. Amberton said, “is Mr. Cherbourg’s chauffeur, Jacques Olivier. I will arrange for you to interview both of them.” She leaned forward and put her glasses back on, speaking in clipped syllables. “Even though this is a minor matter, Ms. Drew—nothing similar to the major crimes you are used to dealing with—it must be cleared up immediately. Mr. Cherbourg is concerned about his employees. He’s also worried that if people find out about this, it may reflect badly on the company. That’s why we haven’t called the police. It’s a matter of the company’s reputation.”

“Of course,” Nancy said soothingly. “I understand how important it is to get to the bottom of this quickly.”

“And there’s one more thing,” Ms. Amberton added. “It’s imperative that I know everything you discover, no matter how inconsequential, so that I can keep Mr. Cherbourg informed.” She tapped her long, red-polished nails against the desk. “Is that clear?”

“Yes, of course,” Nancy said with an inward sigh. It was always better to have free rein on a case, but she could understand that Ms. Amberton needed to be on top of things. “Now, can you tell me how you learned about the blackmail? Did the victims come and tell you about it voluntarily?” Nancy couldn’t imagine wanting to tell her troubles to anyone with such cold eyes.

Ms. Amberton lifted her chin. “Of course not,” she said. “I found a blackmail letter in Monique’s desk drawer. When I confronted her with it, she told me that it was the third one she’d received.”

“What about the other two?”

“A few days later I found Becky in tears in the washroom. When I pressed her, she confessed that she was also being threatened. I noticed Jacques acting strangely that same day, and he finally told me what was going on. Like Monique, they both received letters demanding money or their crimes would be revealed.”

“How much were the payments?”

“Small amounts—fifty or a hundred dollars at a time. Of course, none of the victims have much money to spare.”

Nancy looked at her. Ms. Amberton’s stare was chilly. “And their crimes?”

The woman shrugged. “Petty, of course, little things out of their pasts that they don’t want anyone to know about. A few years ago, Monique forged a check. She paid the money back, and the case was dismissed since it was her first offense. The file clerk stole some jewelry and was sent to jail for six months. And Jacques, the chauffeur—well, his crime was a good deal more serious. In fact, I haven’t even told Mr. Cherbourg about it for fear that he would dismiss Jacques.”

Nancy frowned. “What is it?”

“The man was involved with drugs, I’m afraid.” Ms. Amberton tapped her fingers briskly on the desk. “Mr. Cherbourg is adamant about not employing drug users.”

Nancy closed her notebook and stood up. “I’d like to see both the file clerk and the chauffeur, please. And could you give me Monique Levere’s home address?”

At that moment the door opened and a young woman stumbled in, looking dazed. It was the same woman who had been sitting at Monique’s desk.

“Oh, Ms. Amberton,” she gasped. “The most
awful
thing has happened!” She began to cry.

“Stop that sniffling, Cynthia,” Ms. Amberton snapped. “And speak up. What is it?”

The young woman gulped back a sob. “It’s Monique! She tried to commit suicide this morning, and her roommate, who answered the phone in her apartment, said she will probably die!”

Chapter Two

M
ONIQUE HAD BEEN
taken to the hospital in an ambulance, Nancy learned after Cynthia quieted a little. Ms. Amberton arranged for Mr. Cherbourg’s chauffeur to drive Nancy to the hospital, and he was waiting downstairs when she hurried out.

“Bonjour, mademoiselle,” he said, opening the door of the long black limousine.

“Bonjour,” Nancy said, climbing into the backseat. She remembered that in Montreal most people spoke French. “Could I ask you a few questions?” she began as they rushed toward the hospital. In French, Nancy asked the chauffeur about the blackmail demands he had received, but he couldn’t tell her much more than she already knew.

“Oui,” he said. “There were letters, two of them. They wanted money, more money than I have.”

“But you paid?” Nancy asked.

He nodded, looking straight ahead. “When Ms. Amberton found out that I was in trouble, she lent me the money. I cannot pay her back, but at least I am no longer afraid of losing my job because I cannot meet the demands of the blackmailer.”

Nancy frowned. She’d almost rather risk the wrath of a blackmailer than borrow money from someone like Ashley Amberton. “Did you save the blackmail letters?”

He pulled some papers out of his uniform pocket and handed them to her. “Here they are,” he said, with what sounded like relief. “I hope you catch this crook. It is a horrible thing to be blackmailed. I live in fear every day of losing my job.”

“I understand,” Nancy told him. “I can’t promise you anything, but I’ll do my best to get this straightened out as soon as possible.”

She got out of the limousine in front of the hospital. Hurrying up the steps, she glanced quickly at the two letters the chauffeur had handed her. The message, typed in French, was identical in each one: “Put $2,000 in a red plastic bag and drop it into the trash can at Nelson’s Column on Monday at noon. If you don’t, your employer will learn about the drugs.”

 

Monique Levere was alive, Nancy discovered, but pale and groggy after her narrow escape from an overdose of sleeping pills. There was a frightened look in her eyes as she lay in the hospital bed.

Nancy introduced herself and asked Monique what had happened. In a small voice the young woman told Nancy that she’d been sick for a few days. She had taken a sleeping pill in the middle of the night, and the next thing she knew, she was in the emergency room having her stomach pumped.

“I told the police a million times that I took only one pill, to help me sleep,” Monique said. “They don’t believe me, though. They say I got sleepy and took the whole bottle by mistake—or that I tried to kill myself!”

“Did you keep the bottle beside your bed?” Nancy asked calmly.

Monique nodded, obviously fighting hysteria. “I think somebody put something into that pill! I think somebody tried to kill me!”

Nancy sat down beside the bed. “Can you think of a reason why someone might want to kill you?” she asked.

BOOK: This Side of Evil
6.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Kidnapping Keela by Cathy McAllister
Warriors of the Night by Kerry Newcomb
Graced by Sophia Sharp
Rescue Me Please by Nichole Matthews
Ships of My Fathers by Thompson, Dan
Drowning in Her Eyes by Patrick Ford
Protecting His Forever by LeAnn Ashers
The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt