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The city is Asheville, North Carolina, and the year is 2066. As renowned mathematician Alexandra Martin travels in her self-driving car to assassinate the love of her life, she reminisces about how they met and fell in love fifty years earlier in middle school when she was a thirteen year old poor math whiz and he a wealthy teenager. Alex recounts her struggles to be admitted to the best private school in the county, her happy teenage years running track, and her close relationship with three handsome and charming boys: Xavier, the intellectual; Andrew, the golden boy; and Vitali, the suave foreigner. One by one, she visits the three boys of her youth, now successful professionals
13-14 Girls 200m Race, Raleigh, North Carolina
2016 State Championships
I turn for home and here I am, behind the KK twins again, like a piece of bologna in a sandwich. Katosha is two meters ahead to my right, and Kashandra is half a step behind her to my left. I don’t notice any of the other runners; I figure they are all eating our dust.
My heart sinks. I prepared so hard for this moment, eating the right foods, controlling my weight, forcing myself to train every day, giving up all sweets, even my favorite raspberry-filled chocolates, and for what? I’m going to lose.
My stride slows, caused by my despair, and the KK twins gain a little more on me. My dad’s voice booms inside my head. ‘Keep those legs pumping, Alexandra! Don’t decelerate. You’re still in the race!’ My dad only calls me Alexandra when he’s angry with me. His words give me a new surge of energy, and I pick up maybe a foot on the twins. We are about ninety meters from the end. People in the stands are waving and screaming. The sun is a ball of fire overhead, and the temperature is close to one hundred degrees in Raleigh, but I don’t care. The three of us are breathing hard. Katosha sounds like a tractor, full of energy and power.
My father’s voice screams inside my head again. ‘Stride length and turnover rate, Alex. Your stride is good. Your turnover rate is not. Move those legs faster!’
I make a superhuman effort and try to move my legs faster. Kashandra and Katosha do the same. I can hear the click-click-click of our spikes beating on the steaming orange track like machine gun fire.
Down we go: click-click-click. The finish line looms ahead. I can’t lose this race. I will not lose this race. My immediate future depends on me crossing the finish line ahead of everyone else, and that means Katosha and Kashandra, my arch-enemies. They are also competing for the same prize I am.
Seventy meters, sixty-five meters, sixty meters, the click-clickclick is even.
My thighs are numb. I can’t move my legs any faster. I’ve reached my limit. I have a stitch on my side, and my ribcage hurts…
David Pereda is the award-winning author of nine novels, including Havana Blues and However Long the Night, as well as the Havana Series of thrillers featuring the dashing Doctor Raymond Peters and the beautiful but deadly Cuban assassin Marcela. He has traveled to more than thirty countries and speaks four languages. Before devoting his time solely to writing and teaching, David had a successful international consulting career with global giant Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked with the governments of Mexico, Venezuela, Peru and Qatar, among others.
A member of MENSA, David earned his MBA from Pepperdine University in California. He earned bachelor degrees in English literature and mathematics at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
He lives in artistic Asheville, North Carolina, with his youngest daughter Sophia, where he teaches mathematics and English at the Asheville-Buncombe Community College. He loves sports and is an accomplished competitor in track and show-jumping equestrian events.
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