Chapter 3: Party fun, but the excitement has just begun.
The next morning was Charlotte's Birthday. Mama and Daddy gave her a Toy Detective Kit.(Little did Charlotte know that this fun present would come in handy a little later on.) Paige had made her a card and a bracelet. Aunt Olivia had already given her her gift the day she came. Breakfast was Porridge, Bacon, and orange juice, Charlotte's favorite. Soon, it was time for her birthday party. The party was Mermaid themed of course, because her party was at the pool. Charlotte put on her favorite sparkly turquoise bathing suit on, and put her doll in a little pink flower print bikini. Finally everyone was ready to go. Mama and Daddy had gotten tickets for Florida last night. They would leave the next day.
Charlotte had a great time at her party. She and her friends had swimming races, did underwater handstands, went down water slides, and went off the high-dive about a million times. For lunch they had pizza. Then everyone sang happy birthday, Charlotte made a secret wish, and they all ate the super yummy cupcakes on a paper mermaid plate. Charlotte took a sip of fruit punch and asked, "Can we go back into the pool now Mama?" "Yes, for a little bit longer. But why don't you open your presents first?" Mama replied. "Ooo, yes-yes!! Open them! Open them!!" The girls cried. Charlotte grinned happily and she did. She loved all her gifts, especially the silver heart shaped locket necklace that her best friend Lizzie gave her. Then they all dived back into the water again.
"Paige, where is my hot pink vest??!" Charlotte asked. It was after dinner, and everyone was packing for the trip. "Vest?" Paige laughed. " We are going to florida remember? I hardly think you will need it." "But it might get cold at night and I want it please. So do you know where it is?" Charlotte answered. "It's hanging on your purse rack." Paige zipped up her suitcase and set it on the floor. "Girls! Do you need some help? It's almost time for bed." Mama walked into the bedroom the sisters shared. "Bed!? What do you mean? it's only 7:30." Charlotte exclaimed. "I know, but we have to get up early tomorrow and you need to get some sleep." "Can we read for a little while first?" Paige wanted to know. "Yes you can read a chapter each. Goodnight!" "Night!" The girls replied.
"Wake up!!" Paige insisted. "It's time to go." Charlotte sighed and sat up, rubbing her eyes. Then she climbed down the ladder of her bunk bed, clutching her Bear under her arm. When she reached the floor, she stuffed Cuddles in the front pocket of her suitcase and put on the outfit that she had picked out last night. There were scones and eggs to-go downstairs. As they all started to walk out the door, Paige suddenly laughed and told Charlotte to look at her feet. She did, and as soon as she saw what she had done she burst out laughing too. She still had her slippers on. She took them off, put on flip-flops, and walked towards the car carrying her slippers and suitcase.
"Oh look, look! It's Florida!" Charlotte and Paige said at the same time. The Buttercup Family was in the airplane and very close to Florida. "Ahem, attention please. Please note that we will be landing shortly, so put those seat belts on, and please put away any electronics, or other devices you have brought on the plane." The man on the microphone said. Charlotte quickly put her book, Bumble Bar wrapper, and sticker book in her lime green backpack. Soon the plane landed, and they were all on their way to the house in aunt Olivia's car. "I can't wait for you to meet Elizabeth and Flora. Flora is just my age, and Elizabeth is only one year younger." Aunt Olivia was saying. Finally they reached the house, and the Buttercup family Oooed and Awwed. It was a little stone cottage with a pool and flower garden in the back yard. They all got out their suitcases and bags, and walked up to the bright red door.
Soon, a lady with brown hair, a long green skirt, and pretty white blouse opened the door. Her face was tearstained. "Flora! What is the matter?" Aunt Olivia asked the girl. "Elizabeth's missing!" Flora sobbed. "What!? What do you mean??!!" Everyone said at the same time. "Come inside and I'll explain." Flora responded. So they all walked into the living room and sat on the couch. "I was making dinner for me and Elizabeth last night, and when the dessert was in the oven, I went to my room and started writing a letter to my niece, who just won an award in horse back riding class." Flora said. "Then I went back to the kitchen to see how the pie was doing, when I noticed the time. It was about 5:30 and I realized that Elizabeth should have been back by that time. But I thought that she would be back soon. But she wasn't. I must have fallen asleep, and when I woke up, Elizabeth was still missing." She finished. "Well….." Aunt Olivia began.
Just then there was a loud slamming sound, and a girl rushed into the room. "Elizabeth!!!" Aunt Olivia and Flora exclaimed. "What happened??!!" "Oh I'm so sorry!!!" Elizabeth cried. "I'll tell you everything!!!!" And then she told what had happened. "I was teaching surfing class just as I told you I would Flora, and I was just getting ready to go when a yellow lab dog came up to me, with a little blue capsule on its collar. I couldn't possibly help being curious about it, so I looked at it. And do you know what I saw??!! Written on the capsule was my whole name!!!" Mama gasped. "So of course I opened it up, and just guess what I saw?! A hand-written message in secret code!" "What?" Now it was Charlotte's turn to gasp."But you still haven't told us why you didn't come back last night." "Right. I'll tell you. Now I know I should have called you Flora, but I had forgotten everything else. All I could think about was finding out what the note meant. So I went to the library and looked up books on secret codes. Soon the library was closing up and I still hadn't found out what it meant. But then I fell asleep, and spent the whole night at the library. And then in the morning I hurried back as soon as I could. And nobody knew what I had done." "Whooa. That's a LOT of stuff." Charlotte breathed. "I totally agree." Flora answered.
Just then Charlotte realized something. "Elizabeth," She said slowly. "Did you ever find out what the message meant?" "No." Elizabeth replied. "Then there is a …………MYSTERY!" Charlotte cried.