Last Lemonade Standing
“I don’t get it,” eight-year-old Nancy Drew said. “Doesn’t anyone want lemonade?”
Nancy sat with her two best friends behind their lemonade stand. The table holding a pitcher of lemonade and paper cups was set up in the Drews’ front yard.
“Maybe it’s too hot,” Bess Marvin suggested.
“We’re selling ice-cold lemonade, Bess,” George Fayne groaned. “Not hot cocoa!”
Nancy counted the few quarters and dimes in a glass jar. She then wrote the total on her favorite writing pad with the ladybug design.
“At the rate we’re going,” Nancy said with a sigh, “we’ll never earn enough money to buy Katy Sloan tickets.”
Bess and George sighed too. Katy Sloan was their favorite singer. When they had heard that Katy’s next concert would be at the River Heights Amusement Park, they knew they had to go. But Nancy, Bess, and George had already gone to the amusement park twice that summer to ride the rides. Both times their parents had paid for the tickets. So they would have to buy these tickets with their own money.
That’s when Nancy had the idea for a lemonade stand. They even taped a picture of Katy to the table to make them work harder! Bess had written the date of the concert right on it.
“We’ve been selling lemonade for two whole days,” Nancy said.
“And I know our lemonade is good enough,” Bess insisted. “I got the recipe from my Pixie Scout cookbook!”
“Maybe that’s the problem, Bess,” George said. “Sometimes good enough isn’t enough.”
Nancy glanced over her shoulder at her house.
“If only Hannah would give us her top-secret recipe for pink-strawberry lemonade,” Nancy said. “It’s awesome!”
“Top secret?” Bess said, her blue eyes wide.
“Even from you?” George asked Nancy. “Hannah has been your housekeeper since you were four years old.”
“Three years old!” Nancy corrected. “And Hannah is more than a housekeeper—she’s like a mother to me.”
“Then why won’t she give you her recipe?” Bess asked.
“I told you, it’s top secret!” Nancy said. She flashed a little smile. “Even from detectives like us!”
When Nancy, Bess, and George weren’t selling lemonade they were part of a detective club called the Clue Crew. Nancy even had a special Clue Book so she could write down clues and suspects.
“Speaking of detective stuff,” George said with a smile. “I joined the Spy Girl Gadget of the Month Club.”
“You joined a club without us?” Bess gasped. “But Nancy is your best friend—and I’m your best cousin!”
“Are you sure you two are cousins?” Nancy joked.
Bess and George were cousins, but totally different.
Bess had blond hair, blue eyes, and a closet full of fashion-forward clothes. George had dark hair and eyes and liked her nickname better than her real name, Georgia. George’s closet was full too—with electronic gadgets!
“The Spy Girl Gadget of the Month Club isn’t really a club, Bess,” George explained. “I just get a new spy gadget in the mail once a month.”
George held up a purple pen and said, “The first gadget came yesterday. It’s called a Presto Pen.”
“What does it do?” Nancy asked.
“I don’t know,” George admitted. “I think my little brother, Scott, took the instructions—just like he takes everything else that belongs to me—”
“You guys, look!” Bess interrupted.
Nancy turned to see where Bess was pointing. Walking toward their lemonade stand were Andrea Wu, Bobby Wozniak, and Ben Washington from their third-grade class at school.
“Customers!” Nancy said. She smoothed her reddish-blond hair with her hands and whispered, “Everybody, smile!”
The kids approached, each wearing a ready, set, cook! T-shirt.
“ ‘Ready, set, cook,’ ” Nancy read out loud. “Isn’t that the kids’ cooking show on TV?”
“Exactly!” Andrea said proudly. “You’re looking at one of the next teams on the show—Team Lollipop!”
“Neat!” Bess said. “What are you going to cook?”
“Our challenge is to put together a picnic basket,” Ben explained. “We’re making chicken salad on rolls, potato salad, crunchy coleslaw, and pecan bars.”
Nancy was surprised to see Bobby on the team. Bobby’s nickname was Buggy because he loved bugs!
“You like to cook, Buggy?” Nancy asked.
“Not really,” Bobby said. “My mom made me join the cooking show so I’d stop thinking about bugs this summer.”
“How about some lemonade?” Bess asked.
“I’d rather have bug juice!” Buggy sighed.
“I’ll have a cup, please,” Ben said with a smile.
“One cup coming up!” George said. She picked up the pitcher and carefully poured lemonade into a paper cup. Ben drank it in one gulp.
“Not bad,” Ben said, smacking his lips. “I taste lemons, sugar, water, and a small dash of vanilla extract.”
“You tasted all that?” Nancy exclaimed.
“I can taste anything and name each ingredient!” Ben said proudly. “Superheroes have X-ray vision, but I have X-ray taste buds.”
“Wow!” George said. She offered Andrea a cup, but she shook her head.
“No, thanks,” Andrea said. “I just had a cup at Lily Ramos’s lemonade stand.”
Nancy, Bess, and George knew Lily from school. They also knew that Lily’s Aunt Maria owned a chain of famous coffee-and-tea cafés called Beans and Bags.
“What’s Lily’s lemonade like?” Nancy asked.
“Pretty sour,” Andrea said, scrunching her nose. “But her lemonade stand rocks!”
The girls traded surprised looks as Team Lollipop walked away.
“What could be so special about Lily’s lemonade stand?” Bess wondered.
“There’s only one way to find out,” Nancy said. “Let’s go over to Lily’s house and check it out.”
Nancy wrote BE RIGHT BACK on her ladybug pad. After putting the lemonade pitcher in the kitchen fridge, the girls made their way to Lily Ramos’s house two blocks away.
Nancy, Bess, and George each had the same rule: They could walk anywhere as long as it wasn’t more than five blocks away and as long as they were together. They didn’t mind. Being together was more fun anyway!
“Whoa!” George gasped when they reached the Ramoses’ front yard.
Behind Lily’s lemonade stand were cushy chairs and a rolling book cart for customers. There were board games on tiny tables and a FREE WI-FI sign.
When Lily saw Nancy, Bess, and George, she smiled.
“This is your lemonade stand, Lily?” Nancy asked.
“I like to call it a lemonade experience!” Lily said. “My aunt Maria told me exactly what to do.”
As Lily gave the girls a tour of her yard, she said, “It’s also pet friendly . . . and for your sipping pleasure, my cousin Carlos will play his recorder!”
Nancy watched as Lily’s six-year-old cousin strolled by, playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” She then noticed something else. The prices of the lemonade, cupcakes, and cookies were written on the same ladybug paper she owned.
“Andrea was right,” Nancy whispered to Bess and George. “Lily’s lemonade stand really does rock.”
But when they tried Lily’s lemonade, their faces puckered up. Andrea was right about something else—Lily’s lemonade was too sour!
“Don’t you like it?” Lily asked.
“Um . . . it just needs a little something,” Nancy said nicely.
“Like magic!” George joked.
“It’s just that we have a lemonade stand too, Lily!” Bess said quickly.
“And your lemonade is better than mine?” Lily cried.
“Not better,” Nancy said slowly. “Just . . . different.”
Lily was still frowning as she left to help a customer. But as the girls walked out of Lily’s yard, they were frowning too.
“No wonder we have no customers,” Nancy said. “All the kids in River Heights are going to Lily’s lemonade stand.”
“You mean lemonade experience,” George said. “Nobody seems to care that the lemonade tastes like swamp water.”
“How are we going to sell enough lemonade for Katy Sloan tickets,” Bess asked, “when everyone is buying from Lily?”
Nancy gave it some thought. There was only one way to bring customers to their lemonade stand.
“We need the most awesome lemonade in the whole world, that’s how!” Nancy announced.
“Where are we going to find that?” Bess wondered.
“By asking Hannah,” Nancy said with a smile, “for her top-secret recipe for pink-strawberry lemonade!”