Race With Danger
Run for Your Life Trilogy Book 1
by Pamela Beason
Genre: YA Suspense, Action, Adventure
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I have to win.
A life depends on it.
I swim my hand around the giant fishbowl, trying desperately to feel magic. Maybe I should have sanded my fingertips to make them more sensitive. Please God-If-There-Is-One, give me a little zing when I touch the name of the right partner. Give me a sign.
The slips of paper, rolled into tight little cylinders and tied with red ribbons, all feel exactly the same. No zing. As the seconds tick past, the matching blond Barbie Doll attendants standing guard at each end of the table start to shoot sideways glances at me. Their camera smiles stiffen into grimaces.
Magic, magic, magic, I chant in my head. I finally pull one slip out and hand it to the emcee, whose features beneath his dripping makeup are so perfect and bland that he looks like he came here directly from an Intense Botox workshop.
With a practiced flourish, he unties the bow and unfurls the note. He scans it for a second. Then he faces the camera, flashes his uber-white teeth and shouts, “Sebastian Callendro!”
My heart does an immediate crash dive. It lands on the hard ground in front of my toes and shatters into a dozen pieces. I want to fall to my knees, shake my fists at the relentless sun overhead, and scream, “No fair!”
Instead, I smile and walk a few steps forward to meet my new teammate halfway. Every camera in the place focuses on us. Callendro and I shake hands as we size each other up.
Although he’s thousands of miles away right now, I can feel waves of jealousy radiating across the airwaves from Private Emilio Santos. I know he will watch this if he can. Emilio is tall, with hair like a river of ink, eyes like bittersweet chocolate, and a swagger that everyone notices even when he’s standing still. His blue-black sheen of whiskers makes him look older and more dangerous than his nineteen years, and he likes that. His almost-beard is one reason I nicknamed him Shadow, and he likes that, too.
But here, on Verde Island in the blazing sunlight of early morning, nothing is shadowy. Sebastian Callendro is maybe three inches taller than I am. I’m wearing my trademark gold tee shirt with the galloping stallion logo of my sponsor, Dark Horse Networks, on the back. Callendro’s blue tee has three emblems across his chest, like a row of military medals. There’s a jet zooming through a circle, then a sports car logo, then what looks like a couple of crossed test tubes, maybe an insignia for one of those monster pharma companies like the one my mom worked for. No doubt there are more designs all across his back. Holy guacamole, there’s even a row of logos marching down each side of his black running shorts. Does he have decals on his butt? It’s the only space left.
I guess it makes sense. Now that the word is out, Sebastian Callendro has so many sponsors that all their names won’t fit on his shirt. He probably flew to Verde Island on a private jet with a real bed and real food, too.
But right now, we both have identical drips of sweat streaming down our temples. Sebastian’s hair is scraped back in a ponytail, like mine, but his is a rich walnut brown, while mine is ebony with only the tiniest hints of red. The skin on the back of his extended hand tends more toward the copper spectrum than my own caramel shade. His green eyes, too light under such thick black lashes, stare into my hazel ones. His gaze is laser-intense, and just a little creepy, like he’s trying to see under my skin.
Of course I’ve seen Sebastian Callendro before, but never so close that I can count his eyebrow hairs. He’s more than a year older than I am, which makes him eighteen or maybe even nineteen. Together, we make up the youngest team in this contest—could that be an advantage?
Catie Cole is the other seventeen-year-old runner. She’s the favorite golden girl—literally, because she has long blond hair and that evenly sun-kissed skin that comes from a tanning bed. She has a zillion sponsors and a modeling contract. But unfortunately, she’s not just a pretty face; she’s six feet tall and she runs like the wind. She’s real competition.
So is Madelyn Hatt. Predictably, all the reporters call her “The Mad Hatter,” although “The Mean Hatter” would probably be more accurate. Madelyn has been accused, but never convicted, of dirty tricks like putting laxatives—or was it sedatives?—in her rivals’ food. She just turned nineteen. Her parents made a really big deal of it, holding a pre-birthday party before the last race we were both in. They scowled at me when I refused to wear the stupid pointy hat for the camera.
Except for Marco Senai, a perpetually emaciated runner from Kenya whom I was hoping to land as my partner, I don’t know much about the men in this race. Maybe my new partner can at least contribute some usable intelligence about that. And I sure as hell hope he can keep up. Sebastian Callendro often places near the top of the men’s division, but he’s not a champion like me.
“I hope I don’t have to drag you,” I whisper, too softly for the microphones to pick up.
“And I’m not carrying you,” he hisses. His smile does not extend to his eyes.
The Barbie Dolls drape numbered medallions strung on red, white, and blue ribbons around our necks. We are Team Seven. Holding up our joined hands for the camera, we step forward.
Behind us, at least two men are also stepping forward. They’ll be wearing identical suits and mirrored sunglasses, and they’ll have communication sets on their wrists and listening devices in their ears. Their hands will hover near the pistols holstered on their belts.
I didn’t feel the magic, but I definitely got zinged with my choice.
Sebastian Callendro is The President’s Son.
Race to Truth
Run For Your Life Trilogy Book 2
When Tana receives an invitation to compete in an extreme version of the Ski to Sea relay in her home town, she decides to use the race as a cover to gather information about who killed her mother and father, and what became of her then-nine-year-old brother.
Tana soon discovers clues that hint of something terribly wrong in the company her mother helped to create, Quarrel Tayson Laboratories. Worse, her sleuthing attracts the attention of a very frightening man in Bellingham, who knew both her parents. It now seems more a matter of “when” than “if” she will be the next to be killed. Can she turn the tables and reveal who was behind the death of her parents before she becomes their next victim?
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My right buttock cheek plops down on an energy gel pack and as we back away from the bank, I take a second to squeeze some gel (cherry) into my mouth, followed by a squirt of water from the bottle at my feet.
Then I drop everything and paddle hard. We pass by the trees overhanging the river and zigzag between a couple of rocks and branches that I don’t remember from two days ago. The river is moving just as swiftly as it was then. The weather yesterday was warm and the snow has been melting in the mountains, so maybe the current is even faster.
“Strainer ahead!” JJ yells from the back of the boat.
At least now I know to look for a log jam. It might be my imagination, but I think the damn thing is even bigger than it was during our practice run. It is a colossal obstacle that reaches halfway across the stream, and the Nooksack is swiftly sweeping us toward it.
We nearly upset the canoe as we frantically paddle on the same side to pass the log jam. But just as I think we’ll make it, our back end starts swinging in the direction of the strainer like a nail pulled toward a magnet.
“Damn it, Zany, paddle like you mean it!” JJ shouts.
What the hell does he think I’ve been doing? I want to yell back that I ran ten miles and then I biked forty-two miles before I even got into this canoe, but what good would that do? So I switch sides and dig in, but the current has us in its clutches, and we slam broadside into the logjam of debris. I swear that this farrago has tripled in size since I last saw it. It’s a gigantic dam of branches.
“No, no, no!” JJ bellows as we hit. And then we both lean right to dig our paddles into the water.
It’s a fatal mistake. The canoe tips sideways and the current pushes the icy water inside.
Jason goes into the river first, and although I try to hang onto the upward side of the boat, I get only a second more of air before I’m sucked under the surface, too.
“Zany!” Jason yells as I climb over the top. I hope it’s only my imagination that he sounds desperate.
I forgive him for his second relapse. I can barely remember my own name right now.
“Getting the canoe!” I bellow back over my shoulder.
The boat is half full of water and one paddle is still inside. I manage to dump out most of the water as I crouch unsteadily on the bouncing log jam and haul the canoe upside down out of the river. Amazingly, I find the other paddle among the branches of the strainer. I toss both into the canoe.
“Way to wipe out, Way2Go!” Two men wearing Iron Men tees and orange race bibs flash past in their canoe, not even close to this damn log jam. I stick out my tongue at their backs.
“Tana!” Jason shouts from the other side. At least he remembered to use the right name. He must be recovering.
I stand up on the biggest log, teetering a little because the footing is nowhere close to steady, and then I lean back and use all the strength and leverage I can muster to haul the canoe, bow first, up over the top of the strainer. A flash of light stabs my eyes. At first I think it’s sunlight reflecting off our canoe’s metal trim, but the angle isn’t right, and then I realize the flash is related to the buzzing I hear, which is not river water in my ear canals. A drone is hovering only a couple of yards away. The sun glances off its metal skin as it zips around, filming our disaster in living color.
Wonderful. I’m so glad JJ and I both still have clothes on. At least we won’t look like naked idiots.
“Grab the canoe!” I yell to my partner as the bow of our boat slides down into the water.
Thankfully, Jason manages to grab the edge of the canoe as it slides past him. My plan is to jump in as the canoe moves past, like a cowboy leaping onto a moving horse. But instead I end up barely catching onto the stern as the boat and I simultaneously fall off the log jam into the water.
I have to do a fast hand-over-hand maneuver to the side opposite Jason so we won’t flip the damn canoe over again. The current pushes us out into the main channel. Soon we’ll be completely out of control once more. When my hands are even with my partner’s on the other side, I yell, “Hold on as tight as you can.”
When I see Jason’s knuckles whiten as they grip the side of the canoe, I kick hard and pull myself up. The canoe tilts scarily toward the water. But Jason probably weighs a few pounds more than I do. He manages to anchor the boat, and I belly-flop inside.
Now that I’m upright, I see we’re headed directly for the big gravestone rock, so I snatch the paddle from the bottom and stroke hard to get our canoe back into the center of the flow. Then it’s time to pull my partner into the canoe.
Right. I try to plant my butt on the opposite side for counterbalance, but Jason can’t kick hard enough to get up, and every time I lean over to pull him, the canoe tilts toward him and we threaten to flip again. He’s shivering. His teeth are chattering. He won’t be able to hold on much longer. We’re both still wearing our PFDs, so he’s not likely to drown, but our race is over.
I am about to stroke toward shore when I spy a rescue kayak headed our way. To my surprise, the man with the paddle is Mr. QTL, Gray Suit, Maxine’s neighbor. I guess I misjudged him. He’s a good guy after all, coming to help.
But as he nears, his face doesn’t show concern or reassurance. Am I reading him right? His eyes are cold. His lips are set in a determined line. He exudes pure malice.
The other competitors are gone; there’s nobody else in sight. I’m making myself dizzy glancing back and forth, trying to keep an eye on Jason, the river hazards, and Mr. QTL. As he brings his kayak alongside our canoe, he raises his paddle toward me. He’s going to knock me out of this boat, and there’s not a lot I can do about it.
Race For Justice
Run For Your Life Trilogy Book 3
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Two women are doing laundry at the edge, and several items of clothing are strewn across the bushes and rocks nearby. How they can possibly get clothes clean in such dirty water? Not far away, three young boys shout and laugh and toss rocks into the water. What is it with boys and throwing stones in water? It was one of Aaron’s favorite activities when we were growing up. I could never stop thinking about all the innocent fish and tadpoles that were probably concussed by his projectiles.
“Jambo,” I say to the women, although I suspect that may be Swahili.
Bash sticks to “Hello.”
“Mhoro,” one says.
Maybe that means hello. When I repeat it back, I earn a smile. Then another lady points to the race bib on my back.
“Eight,” I say, for lack of anything more intelligent to utter.
“Aaate,” she repeats, stretching out the word.
A moment of international bonding? Who knows?
We wade into the stream. The ladies gasp and chatter in their native language, and we hear the word “President” in their conversation.
Bash rolls his eyes at me. “Will I ever get my own life back?”
About halfway across, the water is up to my knees, and I’m taking care with each step to feel a safe footing between the rocks, not wanting to injure an ankle on the first day of the race. The kids are shouting louder now, so I glance their way. And then I spot what they were throwing those rocks at.
Eyes. Nostrils. A scaly tail swishes through the brown water. Sharing the river with us is … a crocodile. It’s big and it’s about thirty feet away, which is a distance that a hungry croc could cross in seconds.
Pam is the author of eleven full-length fiction works: RACE WITH DANGER, RACE TO TRUTH, and RACE FOR JUSTICE in the Run for Your Life YA suspense trilogy, THE ONLY WITNESS, THE ONLY CLUE, and THE ONLY ONE LEFT in the Neema mysteries, ENDANGERED, BEAR BAIT, UNDERCURRENTS, and BACKCOUNTRY in the Summer "Sam" Westin series, and the romantic suspense novel SHAKEN. She's also the author of the romantic adventure novella CALL OF THE JAGUAR, and nonfiction titles SAVE YOUR MONEY, YOUR SANITY, AND OUR PLANET and SO YOU WANT TO BE A PI? She is currently working on a sequel to SHAKEN and the next Sam Westin novel.
As an avid nature and animal lover, Pam challenges the human assumption that we are the superior species. Each of her titles takes readers on an adventure while reminding us that drifting through life is not enough; you have to live it.
Pam writes and tweets about writing, animals of all sorts, outdoor adventures, and the value of being present in the moment. She looks forward to connecting with readers on her website, Twitter, or BookBub.
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from Author Pamela Beason
Q: What inspired you to write this trilogy?
Pam: All the fearless young women athletes we see in sports these days inspired me to create my protagonist, Tanzania Grey. How can anyone not be amazed and inspired by the gutsy female skiers, snowboarders, triathletes, and all the rest? Each year, my town sponsors an incredible relay race called Ski to Sea, with seven different “legs”: cross-country ski, downhill ski or snowboard, run, road bike, canoe, mountain bike, and kayak sections, and I see thousands of athletes of all ages train for and compete in this unique event. (I featured an extreme version of Ski to Sea in the second book of the Run for Your Life trilogy, Race to Truth.) Extreme multi-day races like The Patagonia 500 Challenge fascinate me. As a former private investigator, I also have a soft spot for the teenagers I’ve met who have hard lives but indomitable spirits. I adored the Hunger Games books and movies for that reason, too. And I’m basically a mystery writer, so of course I had to have a background mystery, too. All these elements came together in the Run for Your Life trilogy.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in the Run for Your Life trilogy?
Pam: The main character is Tanzania “Tana” Grey, whom readers soon discover is also Amelia Robinson. Amelia was forced to create a false identity after escaping from her parents’ killers, who may still be looking for her. The murders happened when she was only 14. Now, she’s older and taller and looks different as 17-year-old competitor Tana than she did as 14-year-old Amelia. In Race with Danger, Tana is appalled when she draws the name of Sebastian Callendro as her partner. She’s trying to live under the radar and Sebastian has recently been “outed” as the U.S. President’s “love child” with his Cuban housekeeper. This was unwelcome news to Sebastian, too. So now both Tana and Sebastian are pursued by paparazzi and accompanied all too often by Secret Service agents. The situation is uncomfortable, to say the least, and made more awkward by Tana’s jealous boyfriend, Emilio Santos, who is overseas in the army but checks in with Tana whenever he can. There’s a wide variety of international characters among the competitors in each race. And throughout the trilogy, readers will get to know Tana’s adopted family, who helped her survive from age 14 through 17.
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing this trilogy?
Pam: The fast pace made the stories exciting to write, and so did the gutsy characters and the extreme situations. Writing in first person present tense was new for me, but it makes every situation seem immediate and important, and that point of view makes it easier for readers to see the world through Tana’s eyes and feel her anxiety and fear as well as her moments of joy and triumph.
Q: What can we expect from you in the future?
Pam: Oh, you never know. Very soon I’ll publish Again, which is my second romantic suspense novel, a companion book to my novel Shaken. I’m currently working on my fifth Sam Westin novel. There’s always a new book in the works.
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