Read A Race Against Time Online

Authors: Carolyn Keene

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Mysteries & Detective Stories, #General, #Girls & Women, #Action & Adventure

A Race Against Time (14 page)

“Hey,” Thad answered her. “That medallion is important to me. It was a gift from a special friend.”

“I don’t care,” Deirdre snarled. “The plan from the very beginning was a few competitive pranks with the bikes during the race. Punctured tubes, oiled gravel, destabilized steering—all approved, all effective. I even said rattle them a little with Ned’s bike the night before.”

“And we did,” Thad said with pride. “Right there on campus in open daylight. One of us stands guard, the other snips the chain.”

“Keep your voice down,” Deirdre hissed. “But I told you then and I’m telling you now—rolling that car into the creek was a mistake. That was going too far.”

“We couldn’t resist,” Thad said, his voice lower.
“When we drove back to town, there was his car just sitting there. It was too easy. And we
didn’t
roll the car into the creek. I just released the emergency brake. It rolled in on its own.”

“Not funny,” Deirdre said. “I’m warning you. Forget the stupid medallion and keep your mouth shut. And tell your brother and Malcolm to do the same.”

Deirdre turned and headed back toward the finish line. She passed so close to the shrubbery that concealed me that I clamped my hand over my mouth and nose, so she wouldn’t hear me breathe. I waited until Thad followed after her. Then I circled back around the crowd and into the bank.

Inside, Mrs. Mahoney, Chief McGinnis, Mr. Holman, and my team of friends waited for me.

I told them everything that had happened since lunch the previous day. Then I handed over the money.

The initial reaction was a celebration. Everyone congratulated me and asked a lot of questions.

“I’m shocked that Officer Rainey would do such a thing,” Mrs. Mahoney said.

“He had access as the guard, and must have made the money-newspaper switch when no one was looking,” I pointed out. “When he found out his car was out of commission, he got his bike back from his brother, and put the cash in a set of panniers. What better camouflage could there be for slipping out
of town on racing day than to be just another biker cycling down the street?”

Mrs. Mahoney and Mr. Holman were thrilled to get the money back of course. Mr. Holman pumped my arm in a powerful handshake. Mrs. Mahoney wrapped me in a hug scented with luxurious perfume.

Chief McGinnis held back, but gave me a grudging nod. I could tell I’d better smooth his feathers a little. I didn’t want to lose him as an information source.

“Chief, you’ll want to talk to Jasper Rainey,” I said. “I don’t think he was involved in the theft with his brother, but you’re such an ace interrogator, I’m sure you can get the truth out of him.”

Chief McGinnis nodded again and flashed me one of his rare smiles. “I’ve already done that, Nancy. He has an airtight alibi.”

“My team sacrificed a lot in order to enable me to get the money back where it belonged,” I reminded the officials. “They definitely deserve part of the credit.”

“I think they deserve more than that,” Mr. Holman said. “Technically you came across the line first, Nancy. I would be willing to declare your team to be the winner. I’m sure everyone would agree with me when they hear the full story.”

“Everyone but Deirdre Shannon,” George grumbled. “If you had any idea of—”

“George,” I interrupted, “let’s have a team conference.”

I led George, Bess, and Ned over to a corner of the bank, while Mr. Holman and Mrs. Mahoney locked the money safely away. I could hear Chief McGinnis phoning his colleagues in the capital and advising them to pick up Officer Rainey. Through the window I could see the other four teams pedaling across the finish line.

“Nancy, we have to tell them what she did,” Bess said. “It’s not fair otherwise. I’m not saying we have to win, but Deirdre’s team shouldn’t either. Not after two days of dirty tricks and sabotage—even if we can’t prove it.”

I told my friends the exchange I’d overheard in the park between Deirdre and Thad.

“That’s it,” George said with a tone of disgust. “I understand that we can’t rightfully be the winners. Nancy wasn’t even in the race anymore. But maybe we could suggest that the team that came in
after
Deirdre’s be declared the winner.”

“Wait a minute,” I said. “What’s the whole point of the race?”

“To collect money for the Open Your Heart Fund,” Bess answered.

“Exactly,” I agreed. “Mr. Shannon pledged to add a thousand dollars to the total if his daughter won. So
we can either let her take the Golden Anvil and ensure that there’s a thousand more dollars available for the cause, or we can—”

“Okay, okay,” George conceded. “You’re right. It
is
called ‘Open Your Heart’ after all.” She put out her arm, and we clasped hands and shot them up into the air one last time for this year’s Biking for Bucks.

Then we told Mrs. Mahoney our decision.

“A
wonderful
solution,” Mrs. Mahoney said. “Thank you so much!”

“I see Mr. Holman is out of jail,” I said. “Is everything okay on that front?”

“Of course,” Mrs. Mahoney said. “He won’t be charged with anything. He’s been completely cleared.” She smiled warmly at me and my team.

“What would we have done without you, Nancy?” she said. “Because of you and your friends, everyone wins!”

“Except Officer Rainey,” Ned said. “He loses, big-time.”

“As well he should,” Mrs. Mahoney said. “My only regret is that I won’t see his face when he opens his panniers.”

We all walked back out to the crowded celebration on Main Street.

“Oh, well,” I said, “he’ll have plenty of time to read all those newspapers. In prison!”

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