The cold snap in the Spanish Pyrenees was a surprise. My
sleeping bag had only been rated for forty degrees and it
was already thirty, if not lower.
I shifted in the bag, hoping to share a little body heat with my
boyfriend. The space beside me was empty, so I stretched my arms
and reached across the length of his sleeping bag, thinking maybe he’d
shimmied over to the side of the tent in his sleep.
“Scott?” I murmured.
When no answer came, I pried an eye open and scanned the dark
tent. “Scott?” I said, bolting upright. My head rubbed against the
microfiber of the tent, making my hair stand on end.
Where was he?
Perhaps nature called.
I sighed, shivering as the low temperature caught up with my
brain. My back ached, too, and I realized I must have been sleeping
directly on a rock. What in the world was I doing tent-camping? How
had I gotten myself into this mess?
Oh yeah. Becca.
After our stint on the breakout show Love or Money, where Scott
and I had met, we’d agreed to appear on the reality TV show Expedi‐
tion Improbable. The show was a series of races and competitions.
Whichever team came in last in each leg would either be penalized or
There were five teams of two people. Scott and I were up against
an NFL player and his manager, two girls trying to break into the
Nashville scene, a mother-son team, and a brother-sister team.
How or why I had agreed to be on the show was still a bit fuzzy—
except that the prize money we’d won on Love or Money had seemed to
evaporate into thin air.
First off, there was the issue of taxes, and then the matter of the
medical bills Scott still owed for his deceased wife’s care. Finally, the
drought in California had made the cost of water astronomical, so
much so that my dad had nearly lost his farm. Scott and I had agreed
that we’d loan him the money he needed to buy water from the state.
That pretty much accounted for the prize money. And being that my
recent resume lacked any marketable skills, I was hard-pressed to
land a job. Not that I’d ever find a job as a cop again after starring on
I guess you could say, “When reality TV comes to an end, reality
Grabbing my phone from the end of my sleeping bag, I clicked on
the flashlight app. I unzipped the tent and poked my head out. The
frigid air snapped through my hair, leaving me feeling cold and
exposed. My vision adjusted to the darkness and I could make out the
other tents scattered across the campsite.
The ten contestant teams were all camped out here along with a
skeleton crew who looked out for us. This was our first camp.
Tomorrow we would be given the first quest to locate something—
like a scavenger hunt—and we were warned it would include an
extreme sport. God knows what the producers would cook up for us.
The rest of the crew was staying at what was considered “base
camp,” a bed-and-breakfast in a nearby town. In short, they got to
sleep in warm beds, drink sangria, and gorge on tapas, while we poor
slobs froze. My best friend, Becca, the show’s producer, was probably
out flamenco dancing at this very moment.
I shrugged on the down jacket the crew had provided me with
earlier and zipped it up, shoved my feet into cold-weather boots, and
put on a knit cap. All bundled up, I’m sure I wasn’t the epitome of
sexy, but hey, at least I wasn’t shivering out a samba beat with my
I left the tent and took the dirt trail toward the outhouse. Scott
had probably just taken a quick trip and hadn’t wanted to wake me. I
watched my breath float out around me as I hiked toward the
“Georgia!” A deep voice called out.
I whipped around and came face-to-face with Parker, one of the
contestants who’d come on the show with his sister, Victoria.
I lowered the flashlight, so as not to blind him. “Hey, Parker. You
can’t sleep, either?”
He shook his head. We wore matching gear: down jacket, black
boots, and knit caps. We probably looked like stalkers. “Something
woke me. Did you hear it?”
“Hear what?” I asked.
I hadn’t actually heard anything—but why had I awoken in the
“Something like a roar. Do you have bear spray on you? We prob‐
ably shouldn’t be walking around unarmed.”
A chill edged up my spine and the hairs on the back of my neck
I was unarmed, save for the pitiful cell phone I wielded in my hand.
We all were unarmed and, come to think of it, it made no sense. Who
camped in the mountains completely vulnerable to nature?
Goodness, I hate the reality TV show business.
Parker stepped closer to me. “Do you have a weapon?”
I shook my head before questioning the stupidity of admitting I
was unarmed to a relative stranger in the dark woods miles away
from civilization. “Do you?”
His eyes flickered to the left, shifty-like. “No.”
I remembered earlier in the day Parker had seemed overly inter‐
ested in Scott and me and I’d found it odd. My former cop instincts
took over. and I subtly moved away from him.
Where was Scott?
Why was Parker walking around the campground? If there had
really been a roar why wasn’t everyone else clamoring around to see
what it was?
Parker took a step toward me, but I was faster. I swept his knee
with my booted foot, pitching him forward. He tripped over himself
and fell to the ground, letting out a wail before dropping his light in
an effort to break his fall. I dove on top of him, my knee pressing on
his throat. I shined my flashlight at him. His eyes were wide and there
was a look of dumb confusion on his face.
Had I just made a mistake?
No. Something was off about Parker and after my last experience
with murder on the show, I needed to stay on my toes.
His hands faltered against my leg, the stupid fish look still on his
I suddenly felt bad. I eased up on his throat, enough to let him
“Georgia,” he squawked out. “What are you doing?”
“What the hell are you doing?” I hissed. “Wandering around camp
in the pitch dark and asking me if I’m armed.”
He swallowed, his throat constricting under my knee. “I heard the
“Liar! There was no roar.”
Anger flashed across his face and he found his strength, pitching
his hands against my shoulders and toppling me to the side. He
slipped out from under my grasp and pinned my arms to the ground.
My phone dropped, skittering away; blackness engulfed us.
The cold earth clawed at my back; the freezing ground stealing
warmth from my body. That would show me. How many times did I
have to learn the same lesson over again? I had to be smarter.
Tougher, not lenient just because he looked pitiful. His grip on my
wrist let up a bit and he said, “I couldn’t sleep, okay? I woke up and
wanted to take a walk.”
I wiggled out from under him and he let me go.
He backed off and I got up from the ground. When he let his guard
down, I shoved him hard. “Don’t you ever tackle me again, you creep.
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