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The Great Migration Crossing in East Africa is rated one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders. Every year over a million wildebeest, zebra and antelope migrate from Tanzania, across the open plains of the Serengeti National Park, and into Kenyaâ€™s Maasai Mara game reserve. Chasing the rains, the herds cover over 150 000 square miles of African wilderness. Once they arrive at the western Serengeti, the animals are forced to cross the rain-swollen, crocodile infested rivers of the Grumeti Reserve. And it was here, in this wild and open country, where I was lucky enough to witness nature at its most magical and most terrible.
Our guide was Sandra, a highly skilled Kenyan female ranger. When we climbed into the game-vehicle for our first afternoon drive, I noticed most of the men getting tense. A lady ranger! Gak! Our first drive was short, aimed at offering us a teeny-tiny taste of what we could expect in the days to come. Sandra drove us out onto the plains, and thirty minutes later stopped in the middle of the savanna.
I could barely breathe. A dazzling amount of wildlife was spread out as far as I could see. Buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, elephantâ€¦it was endless. I was so overcome I didnâ€™t have the wherewithal to take out my camera. Of course, the impatient guests on our vehicle wanted to move on. â€˜We want to see a crossing!â€™ they demanded. By this, they meant they wanted to see a herd of wildebeest crossing a river. I smiled inwardly when Sandra ignored their demands with good humor, and slowly made her way back to the lodge. Oh yes! I liked this lady ranger.
From the many documentaries viewed about the Great Migration, itâ€™s not surprising many believe that river crossings are easy to view. They are not. There may be numerous crossings that occur daily, but they are spread out over different sections of the river, some more accessible than others. Also, the animals are unpredictable. They can amass at a riverbank for hours, and then for no obvious reason, decide not to cross. In addition, the crossing locations are miles apart, and with the challenging terrain, it can take a long time to reach a particular crossing location. The rangers use radios to communicate with each other, but this doesnâ€™t always mean victory. By the time a ranger arrives at the destination after a tip-off, the animals have often either wandered off or have already crossed.
The next morning we found ourselves alone in Sandraâ€™s vehicle. The others had opted for a more gung-ho ranger or wanted to return to the lodge for lunch and a siesta. We chose to stay out all day with a picnic basket. I was elated. I had a feeling our drive was going to be spectacular. And I wasnâ€™t wrong!
Barely fifteen minutes later we came across a group of lions feasting on a zebra. Sandra explained that the famous Serengeti lions follow the herds. Also in pursuit, hoping for an easy snack, are leopards, cheetahs, and hungry hyena clans.
Towards lunchtime we arrived at a riverbank where a line of SUVâ€™s were gathered. A crossing was expected. Sandra reversed into a spot but our sightline wasnâ€™t good. I was doubtful. Instead of a large herd gathered on the opposite bank, there were only a few scattered antelope nosing about a thick clump of trees. We sat for over an hour. Some vehicles headed back to their lodges for lunch. Time passed. The sun beat down. Nothing happened. Suddenly the radios crackled. Engines started. And in a matter of seconds a giant cloud of dust rose into the air as over thirty game vehicles roared off. Theyâ€™d received a tip of another crossing.
Instead of following, Sandra moved our land cruiser under a tree. â€œLetâ€™s eat lunch,â€ she said calmly.
My faith in her wavered. â€œShouldnâ€™t we follow the others?â€
â€œI donâ€™t think so. The location theyâ€™ve gone to is far away. And Iâ€™ve got a good feeling about this place.â€ She opened our picnic box and passed out meat-laden rolls.
I took a slow breath and remembered what sheâ€™d explained the day before. â€˜You can wait hours to see a crossing, and when it happens it is phenomenal. But it happens quickly. Within minutes, thousands of animals have crossed. So, if you are late, you miss everything.â€™
Yep. Africa is about patience. I bit into my roll and did my best to relax.
A little later, Sandra repositioned us alongside the river where we had a prime-viewing site. Another thirty minutes passed, and then we bared witness to the most breathtaking event Iâ€™ve ever seenâ€”a river crossing.
It started with several zebras moseying down to the water to drink. A small herd of wildebeest joined them to idle at the waterâ€™s edge, peering into the opaque river. Did they know death stared back at them? Monster Nile crocodiles. Strong currents that could drown them in seconds. But instinct proved more powerful than fear, and like theyâ€™d heard a communal action command, the zebras leaped into the water and began to swim. The wildebeest followed. And then hundreds of animals began to pour from the trees. This time I had my camera ready. I clicked away and didnâ€™t stop for the next ten minutes.
Many drowned in the relentless currents. And as their carcasses got caught up in the rocks, crocodiles circled. But the majority reached the other side, and headed for the green grasses that would fatten them up and make them strong again for the return journey.
And meâ€”I learned an important lesson. Be patient, and trust in lady rangersâ€¦and a picnic lunch. Then Iâ€™d get to experience one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders of the African Plains.
My debut novel, Lukeâ€™s Redemption was released in November. I am over the moon that it has already received several five-star reviews.
Lukeâ€™s Redemption is a contemporary romantic suspense (steamy!!).
Red-hot sex. Searing betrayal. A passionate and elusive loveâ€¦
Chased by her criminal-kingpin father, Katya Dalca runs to New Orleans and straight into the arms of Luke Hunter. Sucked into the carnal world of the French Quarter, she succumbs to Lukeâ€™s potent sexuality. He not only steals her breath, he steals her heart, and the only leverage she has against her father. Sheâ€™s left with no choice but to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life alone.
Undercover DEA agent Luke Hunter thought his newest assignment was like any other. But his target brings him to his knees. After one taste of her intoxicating beauty, he’s in too deep. Doing his job means walking away with nothing but a promise to reunite. It’s a promise he can’t keep.
When Katya’s past reaches out and her world unravels, her only hope is the man she is most vulnerable toâ€”Luke.
Luke and I drove alone. Lily insisted she was traveling with Gray and Tane, and clambered into their SUV before anybody could stop her. I didnâ€™t want to argue with Lily. She was still processing the scare of seeing Dani unconscious, and Gray was a safe distraction for her. My distraction was my confrontation with Anna. I asked Luke about the beautifulâ€”but skankyâ€”Russian. All he would say was she worked with Nicu when he was undercover. A tense silence filled the vehicle and for the rest of our drive I mulled over how Anna fitted into the picture.
There had been a weird vibe between Luke and Anna that I couldnâ€™t let go of.
Had he used Anna the same way he used me?
What could she have had that he needed?
Maybe he just liked her!
We pulled into the underground parking at King Security and Luke parked the SUV in line with several other huge black Ford Expeditions. It appeared King Security had its own fleet.
Unable to stop myself, I blurted out. â€œYou were with Anna when you were undercover with my father, werenâ€™t you?â€
Luke pulled the keys from the ignition. In the deafening silence I didnâ€™t think he was going to answer. Then he turned to me and bit out. â€œYes!â€
Wow! I didnâ€™t expect him to be so honest. I sat back and folded my arms, tight. Damn, his answer hurt me. â€œSo you make a habit of lying to your women? Being with them while youâ€™re pretending to be someone youâ€™re not? Is that your thing?â€
â€œShe wasnâ€™t my woman,â€ Luke growled. â€œShe was just a woman. She was there, I was there. It was never deep and it sure as hell wasnâ€™t forever. Then it was over, and I made certain she was clear of the investigation. That was it.â€ He leaned towards me and said impatiently, â€œThat tell you what you want to know?â€
â€œNot even close. You made love to her didnâ€™t you?â€
â€œHell no!â€ Luke snarled. â€œI fucked her. Like I have all the other women in my life. Thereâ€™s only one woman I ever made love to Katya. And that was you.â€
I went rigid, stunned into silence. Luke turned to open his car door. â€œYou didnâ€™t make love to me, Michael did,â€ I whispered.
He quickly turned back and leaned in close, right up to my face. His breath smelled lightly of coffee. I stopped breathing when his inky gaze drifted from my eyes to my mouth then back again. I felt cornered but also strangely alive. Then in his rough, oh so sexy voice, he replied, â€œYou can wish that as hard as you want, sweetheart, but it was me, Luke, sliding through your innocence, taking everything you had to give. And it was my cock driving you to come, baby. Over and over again!â€ He stared at me a moment longer, then climbed out of the car, slamming the door closed.
A BIT ABOUT ANNI FIFE
Anni Fife left a successful career in television to fulfill her lifelong passion, writing. In the space of one month, she shut her business, packed up her city life, and moved to a small seaside village to begin her new lifeâ€¦as an author. LUKEâ€™s Redemption is Anniâ€™s debut novel. Anni loves spending hours on the beach searching for pansy shells, more hours drinking red wine with her gals, and the most hours writing steamy romance novels filled with hot alpha men, and the sassy intelligent women they canâ€™t live without. She is currently working on her second novel, GRAYâ€™s Promise.
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