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Carolyn Keene

Nancy Drew Diaries

Carolyn Keene Nancy Drew Diaries Mystery Of The Midnight Rider
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Series:

Nancy Drew Diaries

Excerpt from book:


CHAPTER ONE



Riding High

“IS THAT HER?” I ASKED, SHADING MY EYES against the glare of the afternoon sun. “The one in the beige breeches and tall boots?”

Ned grinned. “You’ll have to be more specific, Nancy. Just about everyone out there is wearing beige breeches and tall boots.”

The two of us were leaning on the rail of a large riding ring at the local fairgrounds. At the moment it was crowded with horses and riders warming up for their next class. All of them—male and female, teenagers and adults—were dressed almost exactly alike.

“You have a point,” I said with a laugh. “So how are we supposed to know who to cheer for once the class starts?”

Just then one of the horses separated from the others and trotted toward us. “Ned Nickerson? Is that you?” the rider called.

Ned waved. “Hi, Payton! It’s good to see you again.”

“You too.” Payton halted her horse in front of us and smiled shyly. She was about sixteen, with a slender build and delicate features that made her look tiny atop her horse, an enormous bay with a splash of white on its forehead.

“Payton, this is my girlfriend, Nancy Drew,” Ned said. “Nancy, this is Payton Evans.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said. “Your horse is beautiful.”

“Thanks.” Payton leaned forward to give the horse a pat on its gleaming neck. “He’s actually not mine, though. I’m riding him for my trainer—he’s one of her sale horses. He’s still a little green, but he’s coming along.”

“Green?” Ned raised an eyebrow. “Looks kind of reddish brown to me.”

I rolled my eyes at the lame joke. “Green just means he’s not fully trained yet,” I explained.

“That’s right.” Payton smiled at me. “Are you a rider, Nancy?”

“Not really,” I replied. “But I took some lessons when I was a kid. And I never miss coming out to watch this show.” I returned her smile. “Even when I’m not acquainted with one of the star riders.”

I glanced around, taking in the hustle and bustle surrounding me. The annual River Heights Horse Show was a prestigious competition, attracting top hunter-jumper riders from all over the country.

Payton’s smile faded slightly. “I’m not the star,” she said, her voice so soft I could barely hear it over the thud of hoofbeats and chatter of riders and spectators. “The horses are the stars. I’m just along for the ride.”

“You don’t have to be modest,” I told her with a chuckle. “Ned’s told me all about you. He says you’ve been riding since you were practically in diapers, you’ve had all kinds of success on the A circuit, and you’re super talented and hardworking.”

Payton shrugged, playing with the tiny braids of her mount’s mane. When she responded, her voice was even quieter. “It’s easy to work hard at something you love.”

As an experienced amateur detective, I’m pretty good at picking up clues. But it didn’t take a supersleuth to tell that Payton wasn’t comfortable with our current line of conversation. Time for a change of subject.

“Anyway,” I said, “Ned also tells me your mom and his mom were college roommates.”

“That’s right.” Payton stroked her mount as he snorted at a leaf blowing past. “When Mrs. Nickerson heard I was coming to this show, she was nice enough to offer to let me stay with them so I don’t have to stay in a hotel.”

“She’s thrilled to have you here, and she can’t wait to see you tonight,” Ned assured Payton. “I’m supposed to tell you not to eat too much today, since she and Dad are planning a big welcome barbecue for you tonight.”

I chuckled. “That sounds like your parents,” I told Ned. “So are Payton’s parents going to be staying with you too?”

“No,” Payton answered before Ned could say anything. A sad look flitted across her face. “They have to stay inSome equestrians are up to more than horseplay in this third book of the Nancy Drew Diaries, a fresh approach to a classic series.

At the prestigious—and competitive—River Heights Horse Show, the prizes, which range from money to possible placement on the Olympic Team, are so highly coveted that anyone from the riders to the owners will do anything to win…even drug the horses! Who’s up to no good? Nancy, Bess and George are on the case!


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