School is out, and Cody is trying to stay in shape for the statewide 'ultimate athlete' competition at the end of the summer. But his new stepmother is about to give birth, and all the attention on the coming baby makes Cody feel ignored in his own home...and now his best friend is moving away, too. Cody just wants his old life back! With all of these changes looming, will anything ever be the same?
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www.zonderkidz.com Ultimate Challenge Copyright 2005 by Todd Hafer Requests for information should be addressed to Zonderkidz, 5300 Patterson Ave., Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Hafer, Todd.
Ultimate challenge / by Todd Hafer.
p. cm. -- (The spirit of the game ; bk.8)
Summary: During the summer before his sophomore year in high school,
Cody competes in a statewide multisport challenge, relying on his Christian faith to guide him both on and off the playing field.
ISBN-10: 0-310-70797-8 (softcover)
[1. Christian life---Fiction. 2. Sportsmanship---Fiction. 3. Conduct of life---
Fiction. 4. Sports---Fiction. 5. High schools---Fiction 6. Schools---Fiction.] I.
All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version (NIV). Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.
Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means---electronic,
mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other---except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Zonderkidz is a trademark of Zondervan.
Interior design: Susan Ambs Cover design: Alan Close Art direction: Laura Maitner--Mason Photos:Synergy Photographic Special thanks to Zeeland Schwinn, Zeeland, Michigan.
Printed in the United States of America
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Cody knew the girl who stood, alternately screaming and crying, in front of Pet Planet.
She was Jasmine Adams, the seventh-grade sister of Jessica Adams, one of the best athletes in the Grant High School freshman class.
Stealing a sevvy's purse? Cody thought, as he sprinted after the punk responsible for Jasmine's despair, that is low. If I can get the purse back from this dude, I bet Jessica will give me a huge bear hug---
for having her little sister's back. That might be kinda cool, but then again, it might make Robyn jealous.
But maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Cody smiled grimly as he saw the thief jump-stop,
then dash down one of Cedar Heights Mall's long hallways. Okay, Martin, he scolded himself, focus.
Quit thinking about girl stuff and get your head into the game. . .except this is no game.
He arrived at the hallway and paused for a moment.
He studied a sign hanging from the corridor's low ceiling. RESTROOMS, read the sign's top line, with an arrow pointing left. The second line noted ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES, with an arrow pointing right.
'No exit,' Cody panted. 'Dude, I got you now. You are so busted.'
He jogged down the hallway. He veered right and tested the doorknob of the administrative offices.
Locked. He smiled grimly and turned toward the restrooms. He walked past the ladies' room and was just about to push open the door to the men's facilities when a six-foot-tall, wide-eyed girl with a multiwrapped ponytail burst from the ladies' room. 'Dude!'
she whispered, so loudly that she sounded like an angry cobra hissing, 'there is, like, a guy in our bathroom.
I'm sooooo gonna go tell security!'
Cody nodded. 'Good idea,' he said.
With that, the girl wheeled around and marched purposefully away, her yard-long ponytail swinging jauntily from side to side.
Cody waited until Ponytail Girl was out of sight before he cautiously pushed open the ladies' room door. I doubt any other females are left in there, he reasoned, but I'm not taking any chances. I don't want anyone screaming at me or thinkin' I'm some kinda weirdo.
He poked his head inside, scanning the room carefully.
No one was in sight. He slid into the room.
Whoa, he thought, crinkling his nose. It smells pretty good in here, especially for a bathroom. It smells like pine trees or something. This is a whole other world from guys' bathrooms. And, check this out, they've even got a couch in here! Not sure why anyone would want to lounge around near a buncha toilets, but,
still, it's kinda cool.
He studied the four stalls to his right. The doors of the first three hung open. The last one was closed. He swallowed hard and positioned himself six feet in front of the door. In slow motion, he lowered himself into a baseball catcher's crouch. Then he tilted his head to the left, hoping to get a good low-angle view.
He saw two size-eleven sneakers pointing at him.
Okay, he told himself, there's no female with feet that huge, except for maybe Big Foot's wife. I've found my thief. He stood and tilted his head toward the ceiling. Father God, he prayed, please help me get that little sevvy's purse back---preferably without any bloodshed or broken bones, especially not mine.
He stepped to the door. Using his right fist like a hammer, he pounded emphatically. Then he stopped and spoke, striving to make his fifteen-year-old voice sound like that of a thirty-something drill sergeant---
a 250-pound drill sergeant. 'Slide the purse under the door, man. Security's on the way, probably the police too. C'mon, dude. Give it up. You're caught.'
Cody almost lurched back from the resulting wave of profanities that hit him.
Among the insults and threats of severe bodily harm, he heard a warning to flush all of Jasmine's purse contents down the toilet.
Well, he thought, smiling grimly. I guess I'll take that as a no. He studied the stall door, sizing it up like an opponent in football, calculating how much effort it would take to blast it open. Kung fu kick or shoulder block? he asked himself, taking two long steps backward.
In his mind, he heard a snap count, and he rushed the door, just as he had done playing wide receiver,
exploding off the line of scrimmage to lay a fierce block on an opposing cornerback. He clenched his teeth and hurled his left shoulder into the door.
The door exploded inward. He felt it give under the force of his block then strike the thief. He wasn't sure about the point of impact---maybe the head,
maybe the torso---but whatever the case, the thief was knocked backward, landing awkwardly on the toilet seat.
Cody studied the scene in front of him. The purse snatcher was sprawled across the commode seat, legs akimbo, eyes filled with terror and surprise, a pink Hello Kitty purse dangling from his right hand.
Where's a digital camera when you need one?
Cody chuckled to himself.
The thief looked older, maybe sixteen or seventeen,
but he appeared to be about Cody's size, maybe even smaller. Given his current position, it was hard to tell. One thing was obvious---the dude was stunned and scared.
'The purse,' Cody commanded, holding out his hand.
The thief blinked a few times, then let the purse plop to the floor. Eyeing his opponent warily, Cody collected the purse and stepped back out of the stall.
'Don't forget to flush,' he said.
He almost collided with a stocky security guard as he exited the ladies' room. Jasmine and her friend trailed behind the guard.
'He's in there,' Cody said to the guard, nodding toward the ladies' room door. 'And,' he added, turning to Jasmine and smiling, 'I think this is yours.'
'Thank you,' Jasmine said, as if she'd just received an Academy Award.
'No problem,' Cody shrugged. 'Hey, you probably don't know me, but I know---'
'Oh, I totally know you, Cody Martin,' Jasmine gushed, adjusting the straps of her plum-colored tank top. 'Jess talks about you a lot. She says you're a stud.'
Cody laughed sheepishly. 'Oh,' he said.
Jasmine looked at her friend, and they exchanged self-conscious giggles.
'Uh, if you don't mind,' the security guard said,
providing a welcome change of direction in the conversation,
'I'm gonna need you girls to confirm that the subject in the lavatory is indeed the perpetrator.'
Jasmine shook her head furiously. 'Nuh-uh!' she proclaimed. 'I don't want to have to see that dude ever again! What
Table of ContentsContents Foreword...7
1. To Catch a Thief...9
2. Up to the Challenge?...17
3. The Emergency Room...33
4. Good-byes and a Surprise...48
5. The Ultimate Pain...56
6. Ten Battles, One War...64
7. Whoa, Baby!...108