Elizabeth, Alexis, Bailey, Sydney, Kate, and McKenzie come from different parts of the country and different backgrounds. But when they meet at Camp Discovery, they learn they all share one thing: an aptitude for intrigue! Soon they’re embroiled in a search for lost jewels…and that’s only the beginning! Whether it’s foiling terrorist plots or finding missing millionaires or rescuing sea lions, you’ll love joining the adventure with these precocious preteens, as they pitch in their personal skills to solve the mysteries and save the day! The perfect blend of mystery and mayhem—just for you!
About the Author
Renae Brumbaugh lives in Texas with her two noisy children and two dogs. She’s authored four books in Barbour’s Camp Club Girls series, Morning Coffee with James (Chalice Press), and has contributed to several anthologies. Her humor column and articles have appeared in publications across the country.
Read an Excerpt
Elizabeth's San Antonio Sleuthing
By Renae Brumbaugh, Jeanette Littleton
Barbour Publishing, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.
All rights reserved.
Trouble on the River
Splash! Fourteen-year-old Elizabeth gasped as cold water covered her face and clothes. She stood and shook the liquid from her blond hair and tried to wipe it from her clothes before it soaked through.
"Please remain in your seat at all times," the riverboat captain reminded her.
Didn't he see what just happened? Elizabeth's mother took her hand and gently pulled her back into her seat, helping Elizabeth brush the water off.
"What happened?" Elizabeth whispered, not wanting to interrupt the captain's tour speech. No one else seemed to notice her.
"It looks like a water balloon. I didn't see where it came from. We'll deal with it when the boat stops," her mother said. Elizabeth spied the small red piece of broken balloon at her feet.
"But who? Where?" Elizabeth looked at the tourists on the sidewalks. Surely no one would be brazen enough to throw a water balloon right out in the open. The bridge!
She looked behind her at the bridge they'd just passed. Empty.
Puzzled, she took the tissue her mother held out to her. Elizabeth's dad and brother were seated in front of her, and never even turned around. Apparently, no one else knew what had just happened.
Once again, she looked back at the bridge. This time, she saw three teenagers leaning over the other side. One was wearing a red cap and a plaid shirt. They were pointing and laughing at another riverboat making its way toward them.
Suspicious. Well, Mr. Red-cap. You haven't seen the last of me.
Elizabeth kept her eyes behind her, on the group of two boys and one girl, until a curve in the river blocked her view. Finally, she leaned back and tried to enjoy the rest of the ride.
When the riverboat pulled to the edge and the passengers were instructed to get off the boat, Robert Anderson turned and smiled at his daughter and wife. "I never get tired of San Antonio. As many times as I've ridden this riverboat and heard the same historical facts and the same corny jokes, I love it every time. Hey, what happened to you?" he asked Elizabeth, noticing her soaked hair.
"Some prankster dropped a water balloon on her," Sue Anderson spoke for her daughter. "It seemed to come out of nowhere."
"I saw who did it," said Elizabeth. "Or at least, who I think did it. Some teenagers were leaning over one of the bridges right after it happened."
Robert Anderson placed his hand on his daughter's shoulder and grinned. "I'm sorry, baby. That was a mean thing for someone to do. But if they were aiming for a pretty girl, I have to give them credit. Their aim was right on target."
Elizabeth crossed her arms. She didn't see the humor.
"Let's not jump to conclusions," said her dad as he helped her off the boat. "We'll go right now and talk to the captain. But just because you saw some kids on the bridge doesn't necessarily mean they're guilty."
Elizabeth nodded, but she wasn't convinced. She was going to be on the watch for that red ball cap and plaid shirt. She was so caught up in her thoughts, she wasn't even aware that the captain was talking to her. Suddenly, she realized he was asking her a question.
"Your parents just told me what happened, young lady. Did you see anything strange or suspicious?" the man repeated his question.
"Well, not really. Not right away. But when we got down the river a piece, I looked back to where it happened, and a group of teenagers was standing on the bridge. One of them was wearing a—"
"Did you see them with a water balloon?" the man interrupted her.
The man shook his head. "I'm sorry, miss. Truly, I am. I had no idea. Sometimes people pull pranks on the tourists. But unless someone actually catches them in the act, we can't do much."
"I understand," Elizabeth told him. But that wasn't exactly true. She didn't understand why the man didn't tell local authorities and the sheriff's department and the CIA and the FBI and go on an all-out manhunt until those hoodlums were found, handcuffed, and thrown in the slammer.
Okay, maybe that's a little extreme, she thought. But only a little.
"Come on. Let's head back to the hotel and get you into some dry clothes. Or better yet, put on your swimsuit and we'll spend some time at the pool," said Mrs. Anderson, sensing her daughter's mood. "This time tomorrow, your friend Kate will be here."
Elizabeth brightened. "I can't wait! Kate is so cool—you'll love her. And she's bringing Biscuit, too. I'm glad Uncle Dan arranged for Biscuit to stay in the room with us."
She smiled at the thought of the scruffy little dog she and her sleuthing friends, the five other Camp Club Girls, had rescued at camp. "And I bet she'll bring tons of nifty little gadgets with her." And maybe one of those gadgets will help me catch Mr. Red-cap and his friends.
* * *
Later, Elizabeth lounged by the pool, sipping lemonade from a large cup. She didn't appear to have a care in the world. But her mind was racing with thoughts of water balloons and red ball caps. Her cell phone startled her, beeping to indicate she had a new message.
It was Kate: Just arrived @ Little Rock. Where are You?
Elizabeth tried to think of where Little Rock was. Oh, Arkansas! she realized. Only two states away!
The phone beeped again.
Kate: You THERE?
Elizabeth smiled. She carefully texted back: RELAXING BY POOL IN SAN ANTONIO.
After a moment, Kate's reply came: Don't have too much fun. Wait for me. We'll arrive in our van at 3 tomorrow.
Elizabeth smiled. Less than twenty-four hours and she'll be here, in the flesh! She typed in: Can't Wait!
A shadow covered her, and she looked up to find her mother. Taking the lounge chair beside her, Mrs. Anderson shook her head and laughed. "I'll never understand you kids and those text things. You have free long distance on that phone. Why don't you just make a phone call?"
Elizabeth laughed, too. "I guess that would make more sense. But texting is fun. Kind of like reading code."
Mrs. Anderson leaned back in her chair and flipped open a magazine. "To each her own," she said. "By the way, there's a puppet show this evening at the Fiesta Noche del Rio. Your father and I are taking James to it. You're welcome to come, but since Uncle Dan will be on duty, you can stay here if you want."
"Thanks, Mom. I'll think about it," Elizabeth said, reaching for her lemonade. She sipped the cool drink then leaned back and closed her eyes. She was almost asleep when she gasped, covered in cold water for the second time that day.
James giggled and continued splashing her from the pool. "Come in the water with me, Betty-boo!" he taunted.
"I told you to stop calling me that!" she demanded. A moment later, she was in the pool with her little brother, splashing and laughing at his antics.
"Cannonball!" Mr. Anderson yelled out just before hitting the water with a gigantic splash.
"Oh Robert! You got me all wet!" cried Mrs. Anderson. "I guess I'll have to climb in there, too, just to protect myself."
The Andersons spent the rest of the afternoon splashing in the pool. When they left the pool for dinner, they were famished.
* * *
Elizabeth pushed back from the table at the riverside café and eyed the pile of corn husks on her plate. "Those were the best tamales I've ever tasted," she said.
"You say that every time we eat here," Mr. Anderson reminded his daughter, his eyes twinkling.
"It's true. I'm glad we come to San Antonio often.
Maybe someday we can convince the chef to give us the recipe," she replied.
Mrs. Anderson laughed. "Oh, I think it will take more than the recipe to duplicate those tamales. It takes years of practice to learn to cook like that."
"Well, I'm young. I can learn. I'll practice as much as it takes, if it means I can have these tamales anytime I want them," Elizabeth said.
"Here, Beth. You can have the rest of mine. I'm full," said James.
Elizabeth groaned. She was stuffed, too. But she couldn't turn down more tamales.
Mrs. Anderson watched her daughter take another bite and laughed. "Well, at least I know how to make you eat. Normally, you don't eat enough to feed a bird."
Elizabeth put down her fork. "I can't do it. I love these things, but I just don't have room for another bite," she said. "If you don't mind, I think I'll skip the puppet show. I'm going back to the hotel to lie down. Maybe watch television."
"Okay," her father said. "Just be sure to check in with Uncle Dan. If you need anything, you know he'll be at the front desk. We'll be there in about an hour."
"Yes, sir," Elizabeth replied, and stood to her feet. "I'll see you in a little while."
Ambling back to the hotel, she watched for signs of that red ball cap. She saw tourists of all shapes, sizes, and ages,
but no gangs of laughing teenagers.
Oh well, she thought. There's always tomorrow. And tomorrow, Kate will be here to help me.
"Howdy, Elizabeth," called Uncle Dan when she stepped into the lobby.
"Hi," she said, walking over and leaning against the desk.
"Where is the rest of the Anderson clan?" he asked, rolling his wheelchair so he could look directly at her.
"They're going to see a puppet show. I'm headed upstairs to chill out for a while."
"Okay. Have fun. You know where I am if you need me," he said.
With a wave, Elizabeth walked to the glass-walled elevator and pushed the button. One side of the elevator offered a view of the Riverwalk, and Elizabeth enjoyed looking out on her way to the fourth floor.
Maybe I'll just ride up and down the elevator for a while, she thought.
She pushed the button for the top floor, even though her room was on the fourth. She pressed her nose against the glass as she rode to the highest point of the hotel. The elevator stopped and opened its doors, waiting for her to exit.
Instead, she stood, still looking out the glass at the view of tourists and riverboats, restaurants and mariachi bands. To her left, she saw the Fiesta Noche del Rio, and after a few moments, identified her parents and brother. James was bouncing up and down, clapping for the puppets. Elizabeth smiled. He wasn't bad, as far as brothers were concerned.
Shifting her gaze to the right, she counted the little stone bridges up and down the Riverwalk. These bridges were located at different places along the Riverwalk so people could easily cross the narrow man-made river. Restaurants and souvenir shops lined both sides of the river. Elizabeth watched a family pose for a picture on the steps of one of the bridges.
She looked on to the next bridge, still counting. Three, four, five ...what's going on there? She noticed a commotion on one of the bridges. Why are those people ducking down on the bridge? Are they trying to hide from the people below? And was that—It was! A plaid shirt! But no ball cap.
Wait! There it was. The boy in the middle, who was about the size of an ant from her vantage point, pulled something red out of his back pocket and placed it on his head.
The group of two boys and one girl stood up. Mr. Redcap pointed at a riverboat in the distance, and the others appeared to be laughing.
That's them! she thought. Those are the ones who dropped the water balloon on my head! Well, they're not going to get away with it.
She whipped around and pressed the button for the ground floor. Keeping her eyes on the group of teenagers, she went down, down, down and waited for the doors to open.
When the elevator stopped on the ground floor, Elizabeth pressed against the doors, willing them to open. Funny, she hadn't noticed the doors being this slow before. When the doors opened, she took off running through the lobby.
"Whoa! Beth! Where's the fire?" asked Uncle Dan as she whizzed past the front desk.
"Can't talk now. I'll explain when I get back," she called, and continued through the ornate doors to the Riverwalk.
Outside, she looked around to get her bearings. The bridge where she saw the teenagers was ... this way. She dodged tourists as she dashed to the bridge. She took the steps two at a time, but when she reached the top, no one was there.
Where did they go?
Looking this way and that, she only saw a sea of tourists. To one side, a mariachi band played an upbeat song, and people clapped in time to the music. Scanning the crowds, she looked for that red cap. If he wasn't wearing it, she had no hope of finding the group.
Finally, she saw them seated at a riverside café table, munching on tortilla chips.
The nerve! she thought. They're just sitting there enjoying the Riverwalk, as innocent as lambs! Well, they won't get away with this.
Elizabeth walked down the stone steps and in the direction of the little group. She smiled sweetly at the waiter and sat at a table a few feet from the threesome. She pretended to study her menu, while straining to hear their conversation.
"One of these days, you'll get caught, you know," said the girl.
Red-cap Boy, whose cap was now hanging out of his back pocket, stretched his legs out from under the table and smiled. "Aww, we're not hurting anybody. People should expect to get a little wet at the Riverwalk."
The girl shook her head. "Well, from now on, when you pull your little stunts, I'm leaving. I don't want to get grouped in with you and your shenanigans."
Red-cap Boy laughed and said something in Spanish.
The girl said, "What do you mean, you won't get caught? You don't know that."
Elizabeth peeked out from behind her menu and saw Red-cap smiling. His white teeth, framed by two deep dimples, stood out against his creamy brown skin. "Even if we do get caught, what will they do to us? We're not breaking any laws. Besides, who would convict this face?" He gave the girl a cocky smile.
Why, that conceited little criminal! thought Elizabeth. You really think you're something special, don't you? Well, Mr. Red-cap, you just wait. We'll see who's smiling when your gig is up. And trust me, your gig will be up very soon.
The threesome pushed back from the table and began to leave just as Elizabeth's waiter returned to take her order. "What can I get for you, miss?" he asked.
Thinking quickly, she said, "You know, I don't think I'll eat right now after all. Sorry to have troubled you." She excused herself and followed the group at a distance.
Through the crowds she went, keeping her eyes glued to that red cap. She almost didn't see the rolling hot dog cart until it was too late. Scooting aside at the last moment, she said, "Oh, excuse me, sir."
The old man smiled. "No problem, miss. Would you care for a hot dog?"
"No, thank you," she said politely and moved forward. But it was too late. The red cap was nowhere in sight.
Elizabeth turned and made her way back to the hotel. You may have escaped me today, buddy, but just wait until tomorrow....CHAPTER 2
Mr. Anderson woke up his family bright and early, and they spent the better part of the morning at the Tower of the Americas, a 750-foot-tall tower with a revolving restaurant at the top. As they left the tower, he said, "I love the view from the top! Too bad the restaurant wasn't open yet. Let's take another riverboat ride, then get some lunch. I never get tired of riding those little boats!"
Now, as Elizabeth sat in a River City Cruise boat watching the bridges and sidewalks for any signs of the boy with the red cap, she heard a strange noise.
Pu–pu–pu–put, puput, pu–pu ... rrrrrr ... rrrrrr ... pu ... put ... pu. The engine of the small riverboat groaned and sputtered. Then it died, as concerned tourists looked at each other in confusion.
"That's nice. I fork out ten bucks to ride this heap of junk, and now we're stranded," called a tall, thin, middle-aged man from the back of the boat.
"I'm very sorry for the inconvenience, folks," replied the frustrated boat captain. "All of your money will be refunded, as soon as I push this boat to shore. Just report to the ticket office and tell them what happened."
Elizabeth felt sorry for the captain. The crowd gasped in surprise as he suddenly jumped overboard! Their surprise turned to laughter, however, as he stood up. The water of the famous San Antonio Riverwalk only came to the man's waist.
Another riverboat passed but didn't stop to help. Its captain looked long and hard at the stranded group. The man leaned forward, one foot propped on the boat's railing, and the sun glinted off his polished shoe.
Is he smiling? thought Elizabeth. Why doesn't he offer to help us? She noticed the competing company's logo on the side of the boat—Santa Anna Tours. Maybe they have rules about helping the competition or something....
Excerpted from Elizabeth's San Antonio Sleuthing by Renae Brumbaugh, Jeanette Littleton. Copyright © 2011 Barbour Publishing, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Barbour Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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