Race With Danger
Run for Your Life Trilogy Book 1
by Pamela Beason
Genre: YA Suspense, Action, Adventure
Champion runner Tanzania Grey, 17, has to win the Verde Island Endurance Race’s million-dollar prize to save the life of her friend Bailey. The treacherous five-day race traverses a remote volcanic island that’s home to beasts that slither, fly, swim, and slink through the jungle. But the wildlife turns out to be the least of Tana’s problems when she draws the name of Sebastian Callendro as her partner. Sebastian’s personal life has put him in the national spotlight, and his nosy followers are the kind Tana can’t afford. Her name isn’t really Tanzania, and everything else in her biography is invented, too. She’s been running for three years─from the men who murdered her parents. If her cover is blown, she could be next.
The cameras swivel in my direction. As I approach the glittering bowl, I take a deep breath and pray for inner calm and fantastic luck. I’m not usually a team player, so this partner element makes me sweat even more than usual. But this is the biggest race of the year with a grand prize of a million dollars, and I will win this even if I have to drag my partner up every hill and through every river on this steamy tropical island.
I have to win.
A life depends on it.
I swim my hand around the giant fishbowl, trying desperately to feel magic. Maybe I should have sanded my fingertips to make them more sensitive. Please God-If-There-Is-One, give me a little zing when I touch the name of the right partner. Give me a sign.
The slips of paper, rolled into tight little cylinders and tied with red ribbons, all feel exactly the same. No zing. As the seconds tick past, the matching blond Barbie Doll attendants standing guard at each end of the table start to shoot sideways glances at me. Their camera smiles stiffen into grimaces.
Magic, magic, magic, I chant in my head. I finally pull one slip out and hand it to the emcee, whose features beneath his dripping makeup are so perfect and bland that he looks like he came here directly from an Intense Botox workshop.
With a practiced flourish, he unties the bow and unfurls the note. He scans it for a second. Then he faces the camera, flashes his uber-white teeth and shouts, “Sebastian Callendro!”
My heart does an immediate crash dive. It lands on the hard ground in front of my toes and shatters into a dozen pieces. I want to fall to my knees, shake my fists at the relentless sun overhead, and scream, “No fair!”
Instead, I smile and walk a few steps forward to meet my new teammate halfway. Every camera in the place focuses on us. Callendro and I shake hands as we size each other up.
Although he’s thousands of miles away right now, I can feel waves of jealousy radiating across the airwaves from Private Emilio Santos. I know he will watch this if he can. Emilio is tall, with hair like a river of ink, eyes like bittersweet chocolate, and a swagger that everyone notices even when he’s standing still. His blue-black sheen of whiskers makes him look older and more dangerous than his nineteen years, and he likes that. His almost-beard is one reason I nicknamed him Shadow, and he likes that, too.
But here, on Verde Island in the blazing sunlight of early morning, nothing is shadowy. Sebastian Callendro is maybe three inches taller than I am. I’m wearing my trademark gold tee shirt with the galloping stallion logo of my sponsor, Dark Horse Networks, on the back. Callendro’s blue tee has three emblems across his chest, like a row of military medals. There’s a jet zooming through a circle, then a sports car logo, then what looks like a couple of crossed test tubes, maybe an insignia for one of those monster pharma companies like the one my mom worked for. No doubt there are more designs all across his back. Holy guacamole, there’s even a row of logos marching down each side of his black running shorts. Does he have decals on his butt? It’s the only space left.
I guess it makes sense. Now that the word is out, Sebastian Callendro has so many sponsors that all their names won’t fit on his shirt. He probably flew to Verde Island on a private jet with a real bed and real food, too.
But right now, we both have identical drips of sweat streaming down our temples. Sebastian’s hair is scraped back in a ponytail, like mine, but his is a rich walnut brown, while mine is ebony with only the tiniest hints of red. The skin on the back of his extended hand tends more toward the copper spectrum than my own caramel shade. His green eyes, too light under such thick black lashes, stare into my hazel ones. His gaze is laser-intense, and just a little creepy, like he’s trying to see under my skin.
Of course I’ve seen Sebastian Callendro before, but never so close that I can count his eyebrow hairs. He’s more than a year older than I am, which makes him eighteen or maybe even nineteen. Together, we make up the youngest team in this contest—could that be an advantage?
Catie Cole is the other seventeen-year-old runner. She’s the favorite golden girl—literally, because she has long blond hair and that evenly sun-kissed skin that comes from a tanning bed. She has a zillion sponsors and a modeling contract. But unfortunately, she’s not just a pretty face; she’s six feet tall and she runs like the wind. She’s real competition.
So is Madelyn Hatt. Predictably, all the reporters call her “The Mad Hatter,” although “The Mean Hatter” would probably be more accurate. Madelyn has been accused, but never convicted, of dirty tricks like putting laxatives—or was it sedatives?—in her rivals’ food. She just turned nineteen. Her parents made a really big deal of it, holding a pre-birthday party before the last race we were both in. They scowled at me when I refused to wear the stupid pointy hat for the camera.
Except for Marco Senai, a perpetually emaciated runner from Kenya whom I was hoping to land as my partner, I don’t know much about the men in this race. Maybe my new partner can at least contribute some usable intelligence about that. And I sure as hell hope he can keep up. Sebastian Callendro often places near the top of the men’s division, but he’s not a champion like me.
“I hope I don’t have to drag you,” I whisper, too softly for the microphones to pick up.
“And I’m not carrying you,” he hisses. His smile does not extend to his eyes.
The Barbie Dolls drape numbered medallions strung on red, white, and blue ribbons around our necks. We are Team Seven. Holding up our joined hands for the camera, we step forward.
Behind us, at least two men are also stepping forward. They’ll be wearing identical suits and mirrored sunglasses, and they’ll have communication sets on their wrists and listening devices in their ears. Their hands will hover near the pistols holstered on their belts.
I didn’t feel the magic, but I definitely got zinged with my choice.
Sebastian Callendro is The President’s Son.
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Race to Truth
Run For Your Life Trilogy Book 2
Champion endurance racer Tanzania Grey, now 18, is haunted by disturbing email messages from the mysterious P.A. Patterson, who seems to suspect her real identity as Amelia Robinson. Four years earlier, she was the only one to escape when the Robinson family was professionally “eradicated” in Bellingham, Washington.
When Tana receives an invitation to compete in an extreme version of the Ski to Sea relay in her home town, she decides to use the race as a cover to gather information about who killed her mother and father, and what became of her then-nine-year-old brother.
Tana soon discovers clues that hint of something terribly wrong in the company her mother helped to create, Quarrel Tayson Laboratories. Worse, her sleuthing attracts the attention of a very frightening man in Bellingham, who knew both her parents. It now seems more a matter of “when” than “if” she will be the next to be killed. Can she turn the tables and reveal who was behind the death of her parents before she becomes their next victim?
“Zany!” Jason yells as I climb over the top. I hope it’s only my imagination that he sounds desperate.
I forgive him for his second relapse. I can barely remember my own name right now.
“Getting the canoe!” I bellow back over my shoulder.
The boat is half full of water and one paddle is still inside. I manage to dump out most of the water as I crouch unsteadily on the bouncing log jam and haul the canoe upside down out of the river. Amazingly, I find the other paddle among the branches of the strainer. I toss both into the canoe.
“Way to wipe out, Way2Go!” Two men wearing Iron Men tees and orange race bibs flash past in their canoe, not even close to this damn log jam. I stick out my tongue at their backs.
“Tana!” Jason shouts from the other side. At least he remembered to use the right name. He must be recovering.
I stand up on the biggest log, teetering a little because the footing is nowhere close to steady, and then I lean back and use all the strength and leverage I can muster to haul the canoe, bow first, up over the top of the strainer. A flash of light stabs my eyes. At first I think it’s sunlight reflecting off our canoe’s metal trim, but the angle isn’t right, and then I realize the flash is related to the buzzing I hear, which is not river water in my ear canals. A drone is hovering only a couple of yards away. The sun glances off its metal skin as it zips around, filming our disaster in living color.
Wonderful. I’m so glad JJ and I both still have clothes on. At least we won’t look like naked idiots.
“Grab the canoe!” I yell to my partner as the bow of our boat slides down into the water.
Thankfully, Jason manages to grab the edge of the canoe as it slides past him. My plan is to jump in as the canoe moves past, like a cowboy leaping onto a moving horse. But instead I end up barely catching onto the stern as the boat and I simultaneously fall off the log jam into the water.
I have to do a fast hand-over-hand maneuver to the side opposite Jason so we won’t flip the damn canoe over again. The current pushes us out into the main channel. Soon we’ll be completely out of control once more. When my hands are even with my partner’s on the other side, I yell, “Hold on as tight as you can.”
When I see Jason’s knuckles whiten as they grip the side of the canoe, I kick hard and pull myself up. The canoe tilts scarily toward the water. But Jason probably weighs a few pounds more than I do. He manages to anchor the boat, and I belly-flop inside.
Now that I’m upright, I see we’re headed directly for the big gravestone rock, so I snatch the paddle from the bottom and stroke hard to get our canoe back into the center of the flow. Then it’s time to pull my partner into the canoe.
Right. I try to plant my butt on the opposite side for counterbalance, but Jason can’t kick hard enough to get up, and every time I lean over to pull him, the canoe tilts toward him and we threaten to flip again. He’s shivering. His teeth are chattering. He won’t be able to hold on much longer. We’re both still wearing our PFDs, so he’s not likely to drown, but our race is over.
I am about to stroke toward shore when I spy a rescue kayak headed our way. To my surprise, the man with the paddle is Mr. QTL, Gray Suit, Maxine’s neighbor. I guess I misjudged him. He’s a good guy after all, coming to help.
But as he nears, his face doesn’t show concern or reassurance. Am I reading him right? His eyes are cold. His lips are set in a determined line. He exudes pure malice.
The other competitors are gone; there’s nobody else in sight. I’m making myself dizzy glancing back and forth, trying to keep an eye on Jason, the river hazards, and Mr. QTL. As he brings his kayak alongside our canoe, he raises his paddle toward me. He’s going to knock me out of this boat, and there’s not a lot I can do about it.
I lean over to kiss Emilio’s cheek again. “I’m sorry I didn’t bring anything for you, Shadow,” I whisper.
“You brought the most important gift of all.” He touches my lips with a gentle finger. “You.”
We promise to come back the next day. On the way out of the hospital, Marisela pulls me to a stop by the nurses’ station to ask about Emilio’s condition.
A dark-skinned nurse looks up his records online. “He has a lot of injuries, but none are critical. It will take a while to adjust to living with only one eye, but he should be home in a few days. We can arrange for physical therapy and in-home nurse visits.”
Only one eye? Marisela sobs all the way out to the parking lot, so I have to suck it up and drive us the nearly two hours back to my place in her old rattletrap Ford, all the while thinking Emilio will be home in a couple of days to learn how to live as a one-eyed man.
As if that weren’t awful enough, I know that he doesn’t really have a home. He usually sleeps on Marisela’s couch when he’s in country, but right now she and the twins are sharing a one-bedroom shack with minimal facilities.
“He can stay with you, yes?” Her face is red, her eyes are shiny with tears.
She knows that my house has three bedrooms. I borrowed a cot for her and set it up in the spare room, which usually holds all sorts of junk.
The idea of Emilio living at my house terrifies me. I lived with him at Marisela’s for two years, but we were rarely alone. I was sixteen when he left for the Army. I haven’t seen him in person for more than a few hours for the last two years. I am not ready for twenty-four/seven togetherness.
But I owe Marisela so much. She took me in when I was homeless; she taught me how to avoid the scrutiny of the authorities. She showed me where I could find work. She made me into a survivor. She never had much, but she shared it all with me.
I owe her nephew Emilio, too. He held me when I cried, without ever asking me the details of my past. He helped me dream about butterflies and happy days to come in the future. He encouraged me to train to be a racer. And he loves me, or at least what he knows of me.
I’ve never been a caretaker for a human being. I don’t cook; I nuke. I am focused on my own problems. I consistently forget to even ask other people how they are.
I have to work, and half the time I have to commute there on my bike. At home, I have all these animals to care for.
How will Sabrina take the news that an invalid is moving in with us? I can’t ask her to pitch in to nurse my boyfriend, can I? That’s not in the housemate contract.
And then there’s the whole I’m-not-who-you-think-I-am-and-ninjas-could-break-in-at-any-moment-and-kill-us-all problem.
Race For Justice
Run For Your Life Trilogy Book 3
When champion runner Tanzania “Tana” Grey receives a mysterious invitation to the Extreme Africa Endurance Challenge, she fears it might be a trap. The multi-day race is in Zimbabwe, the violence-prone homeland of her brilliant biochemist mother, who was murdered along with Tana’s father. The killers, never apprehended, seem to suspect that Tanzania Grey is actually Amelia Robinson, the girl who escaped their deadly grasp. But when Tana sees a Mom Lookalike in the promotional video for the race, she can’t say no. She doesn’t know whether to be alarmed or delighted when her former race partner Bash Callendro, the “love child” of the U.S. President, arranges to run with her. Tana’s determined to find any remaining family in Africa, and expose the secrets that led to her parents’ deaths. As the clues pile up, Tana realizes that her quest for the truth could destroy not only her and Bash, but will also endanger the lives of everyone she cares about back home.
The email message includes a link to a website. When I click and go there, I am bombarded with advertising about wonderful accommodations for racers and media and fans—exotic game lodges and luxury hotels. There’s even a video. I click the play button and watch a trio of lean dark-skinned runners lope along an exotic course. Zebras graze in the distance. As the runners pass a checkpoint, the camera zooms in on the smiles of enthusiastic fans clustered together behind a barrier tape. Among them is a woman photographer with curly chestnut hair pulled up into a ponytail. With her eye pressed to a camera, she turns with the crowd, tracking the racers. The crowd then disperses, leaving the photographer, who lowers her camera and looks directly at whoever is filming this vid. It feels like she’s staring into my eyes.
My heart stops. My whole body throbs with a sudden longing to throw myself into that woman’s arms. I play the vid over and over again, stopping it every few frames to stare at her straight nose, her curly brown hair. When she looks up, she’s smiling, just a little with her lips closed, like my mother did when she had a secret.
Could it be? I found my brother last year, after four years of believing he was most likely murdered along with my mom and dad.
I saw my parents’ bodies lying in a pool of blood on our living room floor. Could it be possible that my mother didn’t die that night? Could she really be alive?
The woman turns away, following the crowd, and I’m not sure. Her hair is longer and several shades lighter than my mother’s. She’s wearing a khaki uniform that implies she’s working there.
I know it’s too much to hope for. Maybe I no longer remember what Mom looked like. The only picture I have is small and grainy, a photo of her with her colleagues at work.
Videos can be altered. If my enemies suspect I’m Amelia Robinson, then they know I have a personal connection to Africa. This P.A. Patterson could be luring me to Zimbabwe, where I’ll be eaten by a lion or ambushed by armed thugs, and die an easily explained death. This might be a setup by the black-clad ninja invaders I escaped from four years ago.
I know this might be a trap designed especially for me.
But I also know that my next race will be in Zimbabwe.
Pamela Beason, a former private investigator, lives in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not hard at work on another book, she explores the natural world on foot, on cross-country skis or snowshoes, in her kayak, or underwater scuba diving.
Pam is the author of eleven full-length fiction works: RACE WITH DANGER, RACE TO TRUTH, and RACE FOR JUSTICE in the Run for Your Life YA suspense trilogy, THE ONLY WITNESS, THE ONLY CLUE, and THE ONLY ONE LEFT in the Neema mysteries, ENDANGERED, BEAR BAIT, UNDERCURRENTS, and BACKCOUNTRY in the Summer “Sam” Westin series, and the romantic suspense novel SHAKEN. She’s also the author of the romantic adventure novella CALL OF THE JAGUAR, and nonfiction titles SAVE YOUR MONEY, YOUR SANITY, AND OUR PLANET and SO YOU WANT TO BE A PI? She is currently working on a sequel to SHAKEN and the next Sam Westin novel.
As an avid nature and animal lover, Pam challenges the human assumption that we are the superior species. Each of her titles takes readers on an adventure while reminding us that drifting through life is not enough; you have to live it.
Pam writes and tweets about writing, animals of all sorts, outdoor adventures, and the value of being present in the moment. She looks forward to connecting with readers on her website, Twitter, or BookBub.
What are you passionate about these days?
Right now, I’m passionate about the same things I’ve always been passionate about: animals and the environment.
Every day, animals put a smile on my face and wonder and appreciation in my soul. As I write this, it’s spring here in the Pacific Northwest, which means sticky seed pods and bud wraps litter the ground in my backyard as leaves and blossoms burst forth on the trees overhead. Each morning, my three cats take turns jumping into my lap, rubbing against me and asking for their sticky-stuff-laden fur to be combed into sleekness again. Their behavior reminds me of the big fish I’ve seen at cleaning stations while scuba diving, parking themselves and letting the tiny cleaning fish go to work. It’s as if both these fish and my cats are saying, “My turn! Clean me now!”
My town is blessed with trails and green space everywhere, and I walk and bike a lot. I never use headphones because when I’m outdoors, I’m dedicated to staying unplugged and present. I’ve seen barred owls dive into a local creek for crayfish (unusual behavior for owls), and ospreys sitting on branches waiting for a big fish to swim by. I take great delight in watching all the water birds and butterflies. I marvel at the moths whose camouflage is so perfect that it’s hard to spy them against tree bark. My favorite music is tree frogs singing at night.
During my travels, I’ve wrestled a Colobus monkey for possession of a spoon, held a tarantula in my hand, changed a tire among a herd of Cape Buffalo, and once had to wait for an elephant to finish his breakfast before I could walk to the lodge to get my own.
At home, I hike and snowshoe in the Cascades, and I’ve observed mountain goats, elk, deer, bears, ravens, ptarmigans, foxes… I could go on and on. While kayaking, I see eagles, seals and sea lions, otters and harbor porpoises. From larger boats and from shore, I’ve marveled at orcas and humpback whales. And don’t even get me started on the amazing creatures I’ve seen while scuba diving. The most common discussion after surfacing goes something like this: “Did you see that translucent creature with red eyes and blue feelers sitting on that anemone? What was that?” Each dive is like a trip to another planet.
But all these wonderful animals are on this planet, our planet, and Earth is such an incredible place with all its astounding variety of life. So I’m passionate about preserving the environment and the intact ecosystems that animals need. Every one of my books contains animals. In the Run for Your Life trilogy, Tana races through all sorts of exotic areas filled with a variety of wildlife. And Tana has unusual pets at home, too. My Sam Westin mysteries feature wildlife throughout the American West and the Galapagos Islands. And my Neema mysteries feature a gorilla who has been taught sign language.
So, obviously, you could say that I’m passionate about animals.
I will always be.
$20 Amazon, Choice of Print Book from the trilogy
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