Partner Games (Games #6)(4) read online by Jessica Clare
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Partner Games (Games #6)(4)
Author: Jessica Clare

She nodded and shoved it over the bags, and then we rushed into the pie fest (okay, I more ‘waddled forward’ than rushed, considering I was carrying both bags). The challenge area was pure chaos. Backpack-laden players rushed back and forth, scrambling for pies. Ahead, Jen pegged Alicia in the face, and both of them hooted with laughter. I received side-splatter from another team and cringed, pulling off my glasses and tucking them into my bra so they wouldn’t get wrecked.

“Just grab a pie, Clemmy,” Georgia called at me. “I don’t know that it matters what kind.”

I headed to the nearest table, spotting a promising looking pie. As soon as I headed for it, though, someone swiped it off of the table ahead of me. I rushed further down, watching pies disappear as quick as teams could grab them. Jesus, this challenge was a mess. My sneakers slipped and skidded on whip cream covering the floor.

Finally, I ran to a table a few paces down from the main crowd, grabbed two pies, and rushed back to my partner –

Only to be splatted in the face.

“That one’s chocolate cream,” Georgie squealed. “Gross!”

I awkwardly wiped at my eyes with my arm (since my hands were full) and when I could see, I tossed my pie in Georgie’s perfectly made-up face. Lemon. She squealed again and danced in place, clearly grossed out as she mopped her face clean with her fingers. As she did, I smacked another pie in her face, eliciting another bellow.

Okay, this was fun.

I checked the tins, my eyes stinging. Both of mine said ‘Try again’ at the bottom. So did Georgie’s.

“Got one,” someone cried out, and all heads turned to them. One of the married teams – teal – was splattered heavily but waving a pie tin in the air. They raced out of the tent, away from the others, and I watched as another team – the green hot guys – cut out quietly behind them and followed, a pie tin in hand.

“We need to work faster, Georgie,” I told my twin, racing back to another table. “Let’s do this. Get two pies. We’ll double up.”

We both grabbed more pies, and as quickly as I turned around, Georgie was shoving another in my face. I had lemon meringue in my nostrils. Georgie got another pie in the face for that.

“Gross! Coconut!”

On the fourth pie, Georgie grabbed her tin and swept aside the chocolate pudding and crust. “I think this says something!”

I hushed her and pulled her aside, and both of us used our fingers to clean the bottom of the tin. Instead of the big ‘Try Again’ that was normally written at the bottom, this one had a lot of tiny type and the World Races logo. I squinted at it, and realized my glasses were still in my shirt, so I handed it to Georgie. “You read, but whisper.”

She leaned in and began to read in a low voice. “You and your partner are going to Cusco, Peru. Take a taxi to LAX and get on one of the designated flights to Lima, Peru. From there, you will take one of two charter flights to the city of Cusco. Look for Pa-Pa-,” she frowned and struggled over the word. “—Pachacutec. There you will receive your next clue.” She looked over at me, glee written on her whip-cream smeared face. “I’ve been there,” she said. “They’re sending us to Machu Picchu. I had a shoot there two years ago.”

“Let’s go to the airport, then,” I said, clawing at my back to reach the towel. I grabbed it, shook it free of the worst splatters, and then flipped it over to the clean side and wiped my face, then handed it to Georgie. “Come on, let’s go get a taxi.”

She nodded, wiping her face, and I dragged my glasses out of my shirt and put them back on, peering at the big top as we ran toward the exit. There were still five teams there, and I noticed the bikers, the pink team, and the two girl BFFs still smacking each other in the face with pies and guffawing loudly.

We weren’t last. Things were off to a good start.

 

~~ * * * ~~

 

We made it to the airport and got in line behind the green team, the two guys. I read their names on the backs of their shirts — Drew and Foster.

Foster turned around and smiled at us. “Hey, ladies. Nice to meet you.” He gave us a winning smile but I noticed his gaze centered firmly on my twin, who was wiping at her face with a wet-knap and still managed to look beautiful despite the sticky mess. I was pretty sure I looked like hell.

“Hi,” Georgie said cheerfully. “What do you guys do? You bodybuilders?”

I held back my snort. Already, Georgie was working the men. I could practically see them preen under her compliment. “We’re cops.”

“Oh wow,” Georgie said, her eyes going wide with pleased (fake) surprise. “That’s awesome. This is my sister Clementine.” She put an arm around my shoulders before I could shrink away. “She’s running this race with me.”

I gave them an awkward smile as the second cop turned to look over at me. “Hi.”

“You guys find a good flight?” Georgie asked. “We haven’t researched yet, just ran straight to the airport.” And I was pretty sure she batted her lashes at them.

I wanted to glare at Georgie. Why would you tell another team we didn’t know what we were looking for? But the bigger cop, Foster, puffed up even bigger. He leaned towards Georgie. “I’m going to let you in on a little secret,” he said. “We found a flight that gets to Cusco at 5 pm. That’s the earliest.”

“Oooh, what airline?”

Clever Georgie.

We got the airline information from the cops, and I wrote everything down at the bottom of our clue. Georgie continued to laugh and flirt while I waited silently, watching the airport for other arriving teams. Sure enough, the black team came in through the airport gates as I gazed in that direction. One of them pointed at me and they both trotted in this direction.

“Here comes another team,” I murmured to Georgie as we stepped up to the ticket counter.”

“Keep it secret,” Foster warned us. “We don’t want more teams on the flight.”

“We promise,” I said, and Georgie pretended to zip her lips and throw away the key.

“How exactly are we going to keep that promise when they can just overhear us?” I asked my twin as we stepped forward.

She shrugged. “We’ll figure something out.” She beamed at the counter attendant. “We need two more on the flight they just got, please?”

The attendant typed away, and then said, “There are only two seats left on this flight, and they’re not together.”

Georgie looked over at me, uncertain. She knew I wasn’t a big traveler.

“That’s fine, we’ll take them,” I told her even as the black team stepped in line behind us.

“Hi, ladies,” one of them said. Georgie was talking to the ticket lady so I figured I should reply.

I turned around and it was the pretty biker guy. Oh lordy. I stared at his pie-spattered shirt to get his name. Swift. Right. “The flight’s full,” I blurted. “You can’t get on.”

He looked at me in surprise.

Ugh. Why did I say that? Why couldn’t I keep my big stupid mouth shut? I wished the ground would swallow me whole. A hot guy showed up to talk to me and I shut him down before he could say a word.

Clearly, I was an idiot.

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