In The Ghost Runner, Kat is still in Lithia, trying not to see Roman's face everywhere she looks. It's not easy, but she tries to move on: She starts taking classes at the local college, keeps up with her job at the running store, and is beginning a relationship with Alex. Yet Kat's past is never far behind, and as old ghosts begin to catch up with her, she finds herself fighting to defend the things she believes in, from the hope of a new family to the deeply wooded forests that she has begun to call home. As her relationship with Alex begins to crumble, a new secret from her past emerges, and she is once again torn between those she loves as she struggles to reconcile her dark past with her hopes for a brighter future.
The Ghost Runner, continuing Kat's adventures in Out of Breath, brings us further into the mysterious town of Lithia, where the old traditions of logging and gold mining-and the new traditions of development-collide with conservation. Meanwhile, the spirits of the town keep watch over everything-and occasionally find it necessary to intervene.
The Lithia Trilogy, which blends adventure and the paranormal with environmental awareness and Shakespeare, offers an exciting new series in young adult fiction.
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The Ghost Runner
By Blair Richmond
Ashland Creek PressCopyright © 2012Ashland Creek Press
All rights reserved.
In a small town, you're always bumping into people you know. Normally, that's a good thing: It's nice to walk down Main Street and see friendly faces, share a few pleasantries, maybe even exchange the latest gossip.
But what if there's someone you'd rather not see, someone you're hoping to avoid?
Someone you never want to see again?
In a small town like Lithia, the more you try to avoid someone, the more likely you are to see that person everywhere you turn.
I see him everywhere.
I see him browsing in the bookstore, sitting at outdoor cafes, walking through the town square with his fellow actors. I see him driving through town in his black BMW, its windows tinted so I can never tell whether he's looking at me or at the road.
And though I can't prove it, sometimes I sense that he's watching me, studying me from a distance. I never actually catch him in the act, which makes me feel as though it's all in my head. I worry that what I had first wished for months ago—his absence from my life—has instead fueled an obsession. That, by trying not to see him all over town, I end up seeing him even where he is not. Every day, I find myself glancing over my shoulder at people I think might be Roman, only to make eye contact with strangers.
The other day, as I worked the register at Lithia Runners, I saw Roman standing out on the sidewalk, staring in through the windows. For once, it was actually him, and I thought he was looking at me. I waited for him to enter the store—to say something, anything, even though I'd told him never to speak to me again. I turned away for a moment, to hand a receipt to a customer, and when I looked back, he was gone.
In a small town, just because a guy never speaks to you again doesn't mean you won't ever see him again. And again. And again.
Even on the days I don't see Roman—not in the flesh, that is—I still see his face. He appears on dozens of posters advertising the Lithia Theater Company's new season of plays: his perfectly sculpted face, eyes of deep sapphire, an expression that doesn't need to smile to attract attention, including mine. As the theater's star performer, Roman gazes out at us—at me—from storefront windows and from banners on light posts. I am surrounded by images of him.
And, in a sense, I am tortured by him.
It didn't used to be that way.
Eight months ago, before I won Cloudline—that brutal trail race to the top of Mount Lithia—I thought I was in love with Roman. I was a runaway who had been fortunate enough to land in this town, to find ajob at Lithia Runners and a cottage to rent behind my boss's house, all thanks to my boss's fiancee, Stacey. She took pity on me, talked David into hiring me, gave me an opportunity to build a life here. And before I knew it, I'd not only started a new life but fallen in love. Or so I thought.
Nothing in Lithia is what it seems. The two men I thought I loved have one similarity—they are both vampires—but otherwise they couldn't be more different. Roman is dark and stoic, an actor who carries more than a century of pain on his broad shoulders and who hides himself within his latest role, whatever it may be. And Alex is bright and optimistic; he has given up on violence, on drinking blood, instead thriving on the sap of trees and nuts and berries—a vegan, like me, a vampire who is, ironically, more like me than most humans I meet.
But even as I turned my back on Roman for Alex—I wanted to surround myself with good, and Alex was all things good— my heart was still pulled toward Roman. I can't explain it, even to myself: Maybe it was my desire to convert him, to lead him on the path toward a nonviolent life. Or maybe it was his darkly handsome presence, his mansion up on the hill. I wasn't the first to be drawn in by his good looks and mysterious past.
The day I ran Cloudline changed everything. I was determined to win that day, running in memory of Stacey, who couldn't run the race herself. She'd introduced me to the running trails, taken me to my first Shakespeare play, given me a new pair of running shoes. She was supposed to have been running with me, to have been planning her wedding to David. But one day, when she and I were high above Lithia, running on the Lost Mine Trail in training for Cloudline, a bear took her life.
At least, that's what everyone believed.
Well, almost everyone.
By the time I crossed the finish line at the top of Mount Lithia, the pleasure of winning the race for Stacey came with the terrifying realization that it had not been a bear who killed her after all. It had been Roman.
I confronted him, and he confessed. He said he was sorry, and I believed him. I did. He asked me to forgive him—but I couldn't. That I could not do.
I also realized something else during that time: My mother, who died when I was a girl—also believed to have been attacked by a bear—had been killed by Roman, too. He denied it, but how could I believe him? Whatever trust we'd had between us, if we ever did, was gone.
There was nothing I could do to punish Roman—he was beyond the law, even if I could find someone who believed me. I wanted him to suffer as I'd suffered all those years, growing up without a mother, with a father who didn't want me. But Roman was untouchable—except for one thing.
Me. He still loved me.
And the only way I knew how to hurt him was never to see him again.
And so that was my plan.
Unfortunately, in this town, that's easier said than done.
During the cold and rainy winter months after Cloudline, the theater was closed, the streets empty—and it was easy to avoid Roman. It helped that I turned my attention to Alex. We jogged together in the evenings. We shared lunches at the Lithia Food Co-Op during our work breaks. I felt safe with him as we wandered through the foggy forests in the dying light of evening, and I felt connected to him as we shopped for groceries together. Alex and I have too much in common not to be together.
It wasn't until a couple of months ago that I noticed how much time had passed without any bear attacks in the hills, without any tourists or passersby going missing. I knew Roman's friend Victor was gone, and for a while I thought perhaps Roman was, too. Entire days would pass when I could forget that there were vampires in Lithia, that my boyfriend was one of them, that there were dangers in the hills far worse than any bear or cougar could deliver. In other words, my life started to feel normal again.
The envelope arrives on a midsummer day at the store. It's July, and the town is bustling with tourists, most of them visiting for the theater. In addition to the two indoor stages, a large outdoor stage is now open nightly, seating more than a thousand eager fans. Others come to Lithia for the hiking, the river rafting, the smells and sounds of the forests that surround us.
The warm weather seems to cheer everyone, particularly the locals, who have endured a long, gloomy winter and spring. But I've had trouble smiling ever since the posters started going up around town, reminding me of Roman. Every time I see his face, I find myself reliving the painful mistakes I've made, not only here in Lithia but long before that.
It's David who gives me the envelope. I think he can tell something's been bothering me lately, but he doesn't ask, which is fine with me. I'm used to dealing with things on my own, and quietly, and this is one of the reasons I enjoy working for David. He gives me my space, and I give him h
Excerpted from The Ghost Runner by Blair Richmond. Copyright © 2012 by Ashland Creek Press. Excerpted by permission of Ashland Creek Press.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Katherine's life is improving. Months ago, she was homeless, well, after she ran away from home. When she met David and Stacey in Lithia, they gave her life back. It seemed like everything is back to normal, not only she was given basic needs, she's also been given an opportunity to go back in college. However, she misses Stacey so much. She felt "homeless" again after Stacey's death. According to some people in the community, Stacey died in a bear attack. Katherine knows it wasn't a bear but she cannot divulge what she knows because David and the police wouldn't believe her - that a vampire is responsible for Stacey's death. And the worst thing is knowing Stacey was killed by someone special to her. And Katherine's father is looking for her. She was beyond shocked when her father showed up in her school. That can't happen, his father should have not been able to visit her because the father she knows is dead and Katherine is sure because she's the one who killed him. Who is this man and why is he following Katherine? The Ghost Runner is the follow-up book to Out of Breath, book 1 to the Lithia Trilogy. This time, the story focuses on Katherine's family. This book has "wowed" me a few times because of the twists. The revelations were kind of surprising for me, except how Katherine's mother died. I knew who killed her mother, actually even before knowing about Stacey's killer. Katherine.... I really like her but I often get annoyed when she's mad at either Alex or Roman. I think she's changed. In this book, it's like she can't decide what's best for her. I hate it when a character is indecisive, especially with boys. It is alright to feel uncertain at times but throughout the story? Please just choose one! There was one question in the first book that I was looking forward to be answered in the second book. What is Roman's relationship with Stacey and why did he kill her?? I thought there would be an explanation at some point but there was none. I was intrigued because Katherine felt the tension between Stacey and Roman whenever they're close to each other. Anyway, I enjoyed The Ghost Runner because I see Alex more here. He's such a very charming guy, I love how he takes care of Katherine. He's very gentle, romantic and selfless. If I have to choose between Alex and Roman, it would be Alex. Wish the author would write more about Alex in the next book. I loved The Ghost Runner as much as I loved the first book, Out of Breath. Can't wait to read book #3!
So much better then the last one! Kat's not the scared little homeless girl that was lucky enough to find a job. She has a job, she's going to school and she's even in a school play! That's pretty amazing from where she had been not too long ago. She's become a strong young lady, still a bit too trustful. Enter someone from her past (I'm not going to tell you who) but my goodness when they betrayed her I just knew that's what they were going to do all along! The bum! Come on, Ket! When you have more then one person warning you about this person and you know how they were maybe you should be a tiny bit more wary! *shakes her head* A few surprises in The Ghost Runner, I'll give you a few: a ghost runner, someone from her past coming to find her, and inheritance. Those are only a few of the amazing surprises in store for you! Normally I don't like surprises but these added so much to the book and made to great that I'll let it slide...this one time :D Loved how it flowed. Likes water. smooth and at a great pace. No rushing and no slow pokes in this one! In book one she's herself situated in her new life but in The Ghost Runner she's out to help save the beautiful land of Lithia. She's makes one mistake but she's out full force trying to rectify this mistake. I applaud her for this. She could have given up but no. She's literally running to save it. Two thumbs up, Kat! I love all the things she's dealing with in this book. Most I can relate to (not the vampires though) and some I can sympathize with. I can definitely picture myself in her running shoes. I'm still in college and have to juggle all these things in my life and she is no different. Very happy that they didn't change her too much and made her even more relatable then before and not "oh she's perfect now". Overall, yes! Read it! You'll love the surprises! Especially the end! By the way, when is book 3 going to come out? This cliffhanger is making me anxious!!