I cannot explain how good it felt to get a shower. I don't particularly mind not getting one for a day, but two or more and I'll just feel awful. I slide into one of the complimentary robes and pull a dollar out of Phineas' pocket. He's so tired that he doesn't notice. I grab the extra key and head out into the hallway. The cool thing about these fancy hotels is that there's a washing machine every few floors. Lucky for me, there's one on this floor. I get the dollar changed to four quarters, throw my clothes in the laundry, and start the machine. It kinda creeps me out to wait out here, so I go back into the room. I'll come back in a few minutes. When I go back into the room, Phineas is still asleep. I get to thinking, and I notice that Phineas has been a little friendlier towards me the past couple of days. But he can't possibly like me, right? Sure he's my best friend, so I know he cares about me. But, in what sense? Does he care about me as much as a guy can care about his best friend? Or does he care about me as more than a friend? Or is it somewhere in between? I can't figure him out. And, will I ever get the courage to tell him how I feel about him? I've loved him since I've known him, but I can't quite seem to get the message across to him. I wonder if he'll understand one day. I look at the clock and realize that I've been lost in my thoughts for the past forty minutes. I head back out to put my clothes in the dryer. When I return to the room again, Phineas is awake. He sees me in the robe and starts to say something, but I cut him off and explain, "I'm washing my clothes."
This seems to satisfy him, because he doesn't question me anymore. "Maybe I'll get a shower too," he says, "I probably need it more than anyone." He goes into the bathroom, leaving me alone with my thoughts again. But I'm too tired to think about Phineas anymore, so I just decide to see how my clothes are doing. Since they were the only things in the laundry, they were dry enough to wear. I make my way back to the room and put my clothes on, since Phineas is in the bathroom. Now I don't feel nearly as disgusting! This is awesome!
In a few minutes, Phineas comes out of the bathroom, wearing his same clothes. "You were right, Izzy," he says, "A shower did feel good."
A wave of exhaustion crashes over me, but I can't go to sleep with wet hair. I go into the bathroom, and the complimentary hair dryers here are nice. That being said, it only took about ten minutes to dry my hair. I don't even bother putting the bow back in it, because I just plan on crashing anyways. I flop on my bed, for the second time today. New Orleans will really wear you out! It's only 6 PM, but I'm already incredibly exhausted. "Phineas," I say, "I'm really tired, I think I'm gonna go to sleep for the night. Sorry."
"It's all right, I'm gonna turn in too," he responds.
"Good night, Isabella," he says.
"Night Phin!" I respond before beginning what could possibly be the best sleep of my life.
I wake up before Isabella again. I can't believe that only 24 hours ago that we were in Charlotte, and now we're waking up in the New Orleans Sheraton. Since it's 9 in the morning already, we really need to get going if we want to find our dads before our time in the hotel is up. I don't have money for another night or two! I go over to Isabella and gently shake her. "Come on Izzy! Get up please!"
But she just swats me off and continues sleeping. I genuinely hate to do this, but I have to scream at her. "IZZY! GET UP! I'M SERIOUS!" I roar.
She squeals and sits up in bed. She throws me an angry look. "PHINEAS! YOU SCARED THE CRAP OUTTA ME!" she screams back.
"You know I didn't want to do that, but look at what time it is!"
She looks at the clock. "Oh crap, I'm sorry," she says, looking somewhat guilty.
I hate to see her like that. "Don't be, we just need to get a move on," She heads into the bathroom to brush her teeth or something. God she's beautiful. And the best part is she doesn't even know it! Wait a second, what am I thinking? We're here to find our dads!
She comes back out of the bathroom. "Okay Phineas, let's go!" The first thing we do is ask the ticket lady for names, to see if they sound familiar or if they have stayed at this hotel recently.
"Excuse me miss, could we ask you something?" I ask.
"Sure," the receptionist responds.
Isabella speaks up. "We're looking for a Campbell Flynn and a Manuel Garcia. Could you tell us if those names sound familiar, or if either of them has been here recently?"
The receptionist ponders this. "I could have sworn I heard of a Campbell Flynn…" she trails off.
I go ballistic at this on the inside, but on the outside I simply ask, "What about Manuel?"
"Phineas!" Isabella says. "If she has heard of your dad, ask for some details!" I was just trying to be courteous.
"Do you remember where you saw him?" I press.
"Let me look at the list of guests in the past month. Maybe that will give me a hint," the receptionist says. She accesses a list on the computer and types in, "Campbell Flynn."
"Oh wow!" she says. I can't control myself anymore.
"WHAT IS IT?!" I scream.
"He's-he's currently checked in. Room 1606." I run to the other side of the counter and hug the lady.
"Thankyouthankyouthankyou!" I scream.
"Now maybe I can find my dad!"
"Happy I could help!" the receptionist says. I hand her a $10 bill from my pocket.
"You deserve this," I say. "Not everyone would help like that." She looks overjoyed.
"You are too kind. Let me know if you find him! If you don't see me, ask whoever's here for Valerie. I really want to know how it goes."
"Will do!" I scream. I grab Isabella's hand and we run towards the elevator. She types in 16 and we get in.
On our way up I say, "I'm sorry we couldn't find out anything about Manuel…" I start, but Isabella won't let me finish.
"Phineas, I'm just glad we got any info, at all. Don't be sorry, I'm happy for you." The elevator opens and we run out.
We reach room 1606. I knock on the door. "Who is it?" a gruff voice responds. "I don't want to be bothered."
Would he even recognize my name? I wonder. "Ummm.." I say, "I'm Phineas Flynn. Are you Campbell?" I ask.
The voice on the other end won't talk for a second. "Yes, yes I am. And if you are who I think you are, how did you find me?"
"If you let me come in, I can explain," I say. After a minute or so of silence, the door opens to reveal a man who's much taller than me. He has an unkempt look about him; unshaven face, wife beater and loose jeans as clothing, and unclipped toenails. But I can tell I resemble him. Red hair, pointed nose, bright blue eyes. This man is definitely my father.
We just stare at each other for who knows how long. Then, I feel my eyes tear up. "Dad," I whisper and I throw myself onto him. He hugs me tightly, and I can hear that he's crying too.
"Phineas, my son," he says. "I thought I'd never see you again! But how did you find me? And who is this girl with you?" I start to tell him, but he says, "This isn't Isabella, is it? Isabella Garcia-Shapiro? The same Isabella I couldn't get you away from for two minutes?"
Isabella nods her head. "The very same," she responds.
"Phineas, you found yourself a girlfriend?" Campbell, or should I say Dad, asked me. I feel my face get hot.
"Not exactly," I manage to respond. "She's here because we're trying to find her dad too," I explain. Isabella is apparently not shy, and joins us in a group hug.
"Glad we found you, Mr. Flynn," she says.
"Now you have some explaining to do," Dad says.
I can't believe it! We found Mr. Flynn! But now, we should probably explain to him how we found him. Maybe, just maybe, he knows something about Manuel. But now, I'm only thinking about Phineas, and how happy he must be. "Well," Phineas starts, "I heard Mom and Dad- I mean my stepdad- saying that they were considering telling me about you. They said I was old enough to know. But I was angry that they kept that secret from me for so long, which was when Isabella entered the picture. I told her what I was thinking about, and she didn't know anything about her dad either. Then and there, we decided to go find you guys." "I was afraid Mom wouldn't tell me anything, so I went to Candace, who gave me a name and an idea of where you might be. Then we went to Isabella's mom, who gave her a name and told her that her dad, Manuel, is a spy. Last she had heard, he was here as well. So, we gathered up what money we had, $800 total, and headed out on a bus from Danville to Charlotte. From there, we realized we had enough money to fly here, which was what we did. Yesterday, we just toured the Quarter, because I've always wanted to come here with Isabella and Ferb. When we woke up this morning, we asked the receptionist if she had seen either you or Manuel. She thought your name sounded familiar and looked in the computer to see if you were here. You were, so she gave us a room number and here we are," Phineas finishes.
"Wow! I always knew you had my initiative, even when you were so small. A couple of questions, though. Who is Ferb?"
"Oh, my stepbrother, but he's more like my best friend. Well, outside of Isabella, who's more like a sister," Phineas responds.
"Another question, does your mom know you're here?"
"No, no she doesn't. She even has an ad on TV looking for us, although Isabella's mom is on board with our plan. I made Candace and Ferb swear not to tell her, because Mom would've just tried to stop me from finding you. Otherwise, she would have told me about you earlier and taken me to see you. Why doesn't she want me to know about you?" Phineas asks.
"I was rude to her when you were young. I said I never wanted to see any of you again. But as time passed, I really wanted to see you and Candace."
"Then why didn't you TRY?!" Phineas explodes.
"I did. I called your mom, begging to let me see you, but she wouldn't have any of it. I'm still surprised you managed to find me."
"I need to go to the bathroom," I say. I don't really, but I want Phineas to be able to be with his dad.
Once I close the door, I hear Mr. Flynn say, "Okay Phineas, time to give you the father-son talk I never got the chance to give you. No girl would be crazy enough to go on this cross-country trip with someone else unless she loved you."
"Isabella? But Dad, we're looking for Manuel too," Phineas says, but he gets cut off by Mr. Flynn.
"No, I think she likes you. And I think you like her too," he says. I can't help it, I have to keep listening.
"Dad, the thing is Ferb and I are always so busy building things that I never really stopped to think about it. But during this journey, I've come to realize that I do like her,"
Phineas says. "Yes!" I whisper to myself. "I can't tell her, though," he continues.
"And why not? Phineas, I can tell she likes you." Am I that obvious? He just met me and he already knows.
"But how would I tell her? I don't know anything about romance!" Phineas shouts.
"Just tell her. I think she'll understand," his dad advises. At this point I decide I'm "done using the bathroom" so I go back into the room.
"Did I miss anything?" I ask, pretending I heard nothing. I catch Phineas' eye, and he blushes. His dad nudges him, but Phineas still doesn't say anything.
"Do you know anything about Manuel?" I ask Mr. Flynn in my sweet voice, the same tone of voice I use when I ask Phineas what he's doing.
"I'm not entirely sure of his whereabouts, I'm sorry Isabella."
"That's okay," I say, though I am really upset at this. Phineas must've noticed this, because he says,
"Are you sure, Dad? Are you sure you're not keeping anything from us? Isabella really wants to find her dad, as much as I wanted to find you! I would hate for her to come this far and not find him," Phineas interrogates. Mr. Flynn scratches the back of his neck, the same thing Phineas does when he's caught in a lie.
"Okay, so I happen to know that he's in the city and that he's on a case that involves the owner of Harrah's casino," he tells. "But you kids can't get in there. You know casinos are for people age 21 and over, and they ID there."
I process what Dad just told me. Isabella's dad is most likely at Harrah's casino? And then it hits me. "Dad! You could go find him!" I shout.
"But how would I know what he looks like?" Dad says.
"He's Mexican, for one," I continue, "and he'll be trying to investigate the owner. Out of curiosity, do you happen to know why?"
"He's investigating because the owner has a system set up to throw off people who count cards, or people who are just on a winning streak. People will spill drinks or something like that on the winner, and the dealer will switch card machines, cheating the winner out of money. So, Manuel's mission is to bust the dealer, discreetly. I know it isn't what you expect from a spy, but you never know what the government needs you for."
"Thank you so much Dad!" I shout.
"So you'll help us?"
"After you came all this way, risking huge trouble with your mom, so Isabella could see him? Of course I will. Tonight, I will head out there."
I notice Isabella tearing up. "What's wrong, Izzy?" I say.
I notice Dad winking at me as if to say I told you so, but I just give him an angry face and turn my attention back to Isabella. "I'm not sad, Phineas," she says through a few tears. "You two are just so wonderful. I guess I'm crying because I'm happy."
I wrap her in a hug. "That's what I'm-I mean we're-here for, Izzy. To make sure you're happy." I let her go.
"Thank you Phineas. And you too, Mr. Flynn. What would I have done without either of you?"
"I have some work to do here in the city. But when I come back, we will go out to lunch. My treat," Dad says. "Phineas, could I have your cell phone number? When I am back, I will text," I send him my number, and I get his in my phone. "Also, here's a key to my room, in case you need it," Dad continues. I take the key and hand him a key to our room as well. "You kids should go back up to your room and just relax. I won't be long, I promise." Dad wraps us both in a hug and says, "I'm glad you found me," he says.
Then, he leaves. "Let's go back upstairs, Izzy," I say to her.
We get back to our room and Isabella says, "I can't believe we found your dad! This is a miracle! And now we know where mine is!"
"I know! Isn't it wonderful?" I respond. I look at her, and realize that maybe, just maybe, Dad didn't have any work to do and wanted to get me some alone time with Isabella. I have to remember to ask him about it later. So now what do I do? I have no clue how I'm gonna tell her!
I get butterflies in my stomach, and my heart is beating so fast I feel like I'm gonna explode. "Are you okay, Phineas?" Isabella asks. "You don't look too good." She puts the back of her hand to my forehead.
"God, you're burning up. Are you sure you're alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine. I promise. I just need to tell you something. Something I've wanted to tell you for a while." My mind goes blank. I decide the only way I'm gonna get this out is if I just say it.
"Yes Phineas? What is it?" Izzy asks me.
I look her square in the eye and blurt, "I really like you, Isabella."
"You mean, like as a friend?" she asks.
"No. I think I LIKE you. I'm not entirely sure. All I know is, I've never liked another girl the way I've liked you. Whenever you're around, I feel so happy, and I don't want you to go." She takes this in.
"Isabella, are you okay? I just told you I liked you, and you're not reacting." She chuckles. "What's so funny?" I ask, a little offended that she'd laugh at me.
"You have no clue how long I've been waiting to hear that."
"What do you mean?" I ask.
"Phineas, I've liked- no, I've loved- you since the day we met. When I was a little girl, I always just assumed I would marry you. But when I got older, I realized that you probably didn't feel the same. And so, to save myself from heartbreak, I decided I wouldn't say anything about it unless you did. But I never stopped liking you."
"You really mean it?" I ask her.
"Of course. I can't lie to you."
"So now what? I don't exactly know what happens after you tell a girl you like her," I say.
"Phineas, you are so naïve," she says. "You either ask her to be your girlfriend, kiss her, or both."
"Okay then," I say, slightly embarrassed that Isabella had to explain that to me. "You wanna be my girlfriend? Not sure I'm ready for the second one, at least not right now."
"Of course Phineas," she tells me, and kisses me on the cheek.
Right at that very second, Dad texts. "R u ready 4 lunch?" it reads. "Of course. Meet u @ ur room." I grab Isabella's hand, and we head down to Dad's room.