Home > Partner Games (Games #6)

Partner Games (Games #6)
Author: Jessica Clare

Chapter One

“I’ve uh, actually never left the States. Wait, I’ve been to Canada. Does Canada count?” — Swift, The One Percenters Team, Pre-Game Interview, The World Races

As we waited to have our casting photos taken, my sister turned to me and brushed a lock of hair back into one of my brown, shoulder-length braids. “I don’t know if I said thank you for doing this, Clemmy, but thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank me, Georgie,” I said, feeling a little flustered at her words. “That’s what sisters are for. It’s not like I was doing anything else, right?”

“Yeah, but I know the camera stuff makes you nervous.” She gave me another hug. “And that university was stupid for passing you up.”

Nervous was an understatement. Then again, so was the university ‘passing me up’. Understatements all over the place. My beautiful twin Georgie was the social, gregarious one. I was the shy, retiring one that froze up when it came to public speaking and looked like a deer in headlights in every photo. As for the university, I’d explained to Georgie a hundred times that the university hadn’t really ‘passed me up’. It was just that universities could only hire so many paleontologists and the university of my choice was completely full at the moment. Someone would have to quit, retire, or die before I’d get a university job. So I had my shiny PhD in invertebrate paleontology and an impressive amount of field time as an intern…and no job. I’d applied around, but there were more paleontologists than jobs at the moment, and my hopes weren’t high.

Georgie hugged me again, brimming with excitement. “Isn’t this exciting? I love traveling.” My sister’s eyes were shining and she looked livelier than she had since I’d returned to California to meet her.

“Backpacks on,” someone in production called out, and Georgie and I separated, shrugging on our bright red backpacks. We wore our team shirts (also red) and a pair of matching black track pants with a red stripe down the side. Our names were emblazoned across the breast of each item of clothing we carried in our bags (per game rules) and while Georgie’s name was bold across her chest, my name – Clementine – was significantly longer and the font had been shrunk to fit it all.

I supposed if I had a bigger chest maybe they’d have had more room. But there was one thing the Price girls didn’t have, it was enormous tracts of land. Georgie and I were both tall and lanky.

“Next team is up,” the production assistant said, and someone waved us forward.

Georgie grabbed my sweating hand and charged ahead, dragging me reluctantly behind her. This was the part she was good at. I’d let her take the lead. I trailed behind, mentally cringing when we stepped into a staged area full of tropical plants and surrounded by a dozen cameras. There was a taped X on the grass and someone pointed for us to stand there.

We moved forward together, and when we stood on the X, Georgie put her arms around my waist and smiled for the camera.

“What team is this?” Someone asked. Next to the man with the camera, a woman flipped through paperwork on a clipboard. “Model and sister, right?” She looked up. “Which one of you’s the famous one?”

“Really?” I murmured sarcastically.

Georgie just pinched me.

It was a ridiculous question. You could tell which one of us was the dino-nerd and which one was the supermodel just by looking at us. Despite the fact that we were twins (fraternal twins), Georgie and I shared nothing but a common height. My hair was a boring brown, and I wore it in two dorky braids to keep it out of the way. I wore a little makeup today (only because Georgie made me) and had big, square glasses perched on my nose. Georgie, meanwhile, was the picture of glamour. Her hair was a bleached platinum-blonde that somehow managed to fall perfectly, her makeup was immaculate, and even our uniform looked better on her lithe frame than mine. Probably because I was fifteen pounds heavier than her and liked to eat things other than lettuce.

Even so, she gave the camera-man a wink and a friendly smile. “That’s me. Georgie Price.”

“Georgie Price? Shit, I didn’t realize.” The photographer’s face broke into a smile and I wanted to roll my eyes. Like my famous sister couldn’t be recognized because she’d accessorized with a dork. “You’re on The World Races this season?”

“I am.” She pulled me tighter against her. “With my sister. We’re the red team.”

“Great,” he said, peering into his camera and adjusting the lens. “Let’s move you in front of her, then.”

I obediently let go of my sister and took a step backward. I was used to this sort of thing. Everyone wanted Georgie’s picture. Nobody wanted mine.

But Georgie, bless her heart, frowned at this and pulled me forward again. “We’re a team of sisters. There’s no reason to have her standing behind me.”

“It’s only for promo,” he began.

Georgie’s lean little jaw set. “No.”

“People are going to be less interested in seeing your partner than they are you—“

“I don’t care,” she said in a firm voice. “Do I need to call my agent and raise a stink because you won’t photograph me standing next to my partner?”

“Georgie, really, it’s all right,” I whispered.

“No,” she said again. “We’re a team or we’re not doing this at all.” There was a slightly desperate note in her voice that alarmed me. This was more than just polite stubbornness. I could tell by the look in her eye and the way she clung to me as she pulled me forward again.

“Let’s just do this,” the production lady said, gesturing for us to keep rolling. “We have a schedule to keep and we’re running behind as it is.”

Georgie’s arm tightened around my waist like a vise. She gave everyone her most brilliant, sultry smile. “We’re ready.”

And I stood awkwardly next to my beautiful, famous twin and smiled for the camera.


~~ * * * ~~


After cast photos were taken, Georgie and I were hustled along to our pre-game interviews. I wanted to sit and have a minute with my sister, to ask her what was bothering her. Georgie was my opposite in so many ways, and that included being easygoing where I was uptight and nervous. Something was clearly bothering her, but there was no time to talk.

As we headed to the next station, I was relieved to see that there were two stools for us to sit down. That was good, because all these people milling around and staring at us was making me feel a little weak in the knees. I plopped gratefully on my stool as we were encouraged to come forward. Georgie sat with utter grace, of course.

“All right, ladies,” a man in a baseball cap said. He went to a camera tripod and fiddled with the knobs, and then a red light flicked on. “This is the ‘get to know you’ segment. We’re going to ask you some questions so the audience can get a feel for who you are. Try to be entertaining.”

Somehow, I felt like that was aimed at me.

“So,” he said. “What’s the name of your team?”

Georgie looked over at me. “We’re calling ourselves the Wonder Twins.”

I smiled nervously at that little red light on the camera, feeling like an idiot.

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