Blurb: An African business trip for Kes Madrid turns out to be a lot more exciting when she and her sexy-but-engaged boss fall into the Zambezi river after their raft tips over. Landing on the Zimbabwe side has Kes terrified. She wants to go home, but her boss has other plans, putting them smack-dab in the middle of a coup. The nation's rebels and the CIA are ready to take the country away from the dictatorial leader and give it to the people. In the meantime, Kes' life will be put on the line as the most wanted in the nation, which is definitely not on her 'bucket list.'
Certain I was about to die, I imagined the eulogist's speech at my funeral. "Kes Madrid was a wonderful employee, willing to go the extra mile to make her newspaper the best in all of Denver. A daring adventurist, who was somewhat insane if we're being honest, she met her final spirited demise while traveling on a white-water raft down the Zambezi River in Africa. Everyone knows the Zambezi is a death trap, but it's too late to warn her now. It's so typical of a redhead to do something stupid like that, but with her green eyes, it was inevitable for her to want the thrill of a ride."
Dressed in a black suit and a black top hat, the man clears his throat while my parents sob. "Oh, Edsel," my mother says. "You're so right about Kes. She was insane."
The man looks like an Edsel, kind of a dinosaur of a man.
He shakes his head, grimacing slightly as he speaks. "What a loss. We all knew and loved Kes for her laughter, her loving forgiveness of all who wronged her, and her love of fruitcake, keeping our church bake sale going for many years. All donations will be given to send the mummified fruitcakes to charities in the future."
The man in my head was crazy. I hated fruitcake and revenge was my middle name—not forgiveness. And Mom was the one who was nuts, not me.
I couldn't die now, thinking my eulogy might be wrong and doom my name to mummified fruitcake heaven.
No, this couldn't be the end of my life. This had to be just another chapter. Little did I know, not only was it a chapter, it was actually the beginning of my new life, one that would actually make me proud.
Popping back to the present, I faced the Zambezi River ahead, terror filling my brain at what I saw. "I don't like this. I want out!" The small gray raft crashed against the huge wave raging around us while I grabbed as many backpacks as I could, getting soaked in the meantime.
Why my boss insisted on all these backpacks was beyond me. I had only one, for one change of clothing and my cameras.
"What's the matter?" Mr. Hamilton, my blue-eyed, brown haired boss, faced me with his back to the upcoming waves, looking like this was a normal day at the office. His slight British accent didn't waiver one bit, so I wasn't sure if he was as terrified as I was. "This is a great adventure and you can write about it for weeks."
Maybe, but I wouldn't be the one writing it. It would be written for my funeral, from Edsel, the crazy eulogist with a sick fondness for fruitcake donations.
I had to raise my voice to be heard over the loud fierce white water. "I don't like adventures. I also don't like death or fruitcake. Make sure they know that at my funeral."
He shot me a confused look, but I ignored him. Instead, I eyed the land to my right, seeing no nasty African animal waiting to eat me. "Can't we just move over to the side and get out? I wonder if cabs come this far out to save people? I'd even tip the guy extra. If he does, I'll even treat for pizza later, but no fruitcake. I hate fruitcake and don't ever forget it."
"I don't think I'll forget that, but it's an odd request. Are you sure you're not on drugs or something?"
"No. I just want a nice funeral."
I rocked the raft to move toward the side, but Mr. Hamilton kept it solid, still shooting me a strange look. So I hated fruitcake. Sue me, buddy.
"Chicken," he said. "I thought you were tougher than that. You told me, over the past two weeks, you could get any article in this place and make my newspaper shine. What did you say again? 'It would be a 'must read' for everyone in the world.'"
"So I over-exaggerated a bit. I don't want to do this anymore. I really just want to live." Tears of fear teased my eyes. "Can't you see this is more than we can handle?"
An evil smirk covered his face. "Now you're scared? It's just the Zambezi River. I promise we won't die."
Just the Zambezi? Was he nuts? It was a huge deadly torrent of water with mean, dastardly animals just waiting to eat me.
I shot him a confused look, hoping he'd get it, but knew he wouldn't. I still had to try to convince him that death wasn't on my agenda. "No, you won't die. I'm lighter and could just be thrown overboard. Then I'd be eaten by who-knows-what." I let go of the raft tether on the side, and slapped a bug on my arm. "I'm probably going to die of mosquito bites anyway."
Thrown a bit to the left, I grabbed the tether as I lost my balance. Letting go was just a stupid move. Adding it to crazy Edsel's speech, I then knew I was officially becoming insane. Maybe I had malaria?
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