In honor of reaching my weekend goal of 60,000 words in the novel I'm currently working on, I'd like to share Chapter 2 of BENEATH THE WAVES in its entirety. Since this is an unfinished novel, it has not been edited. I shared Chapter 1 when I reached 20,000 words a few months ago. (That excerpt can be found on my Facebook author page: Kristen Jackson Author.)
The story begins with the introduction of several separate characters, so in this chapter you will meet completely new characters. I hope you enjoy it!
Nauset Beach, Orleans, Massachusetts
Maggie Lee Johnson walked at a leisurely pace, bare feet leaving footprints in their wake on the sand. She loved the feel of the cool, damp sand against her feet, and stopped to push her painted pink toes deeper into the gritty softness. Wiggling them, she reveled in the feel of it. Face raised to the sea breeze, the wind tickled her skin, and she sighed contentedly. After a few moments, she wandered on.
Shielding her eyes, she looked out over the churning waters as a feeling of utter peacefulness washed over her. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be right now.
In the hush of sunrise, her husband of 28 years lay sleeping in the homey cottage they had rented for the week. Maggie had always been an early riser, and since this was the last day of their much anticipated vacation, she did not want to miss a thing. She breathed deep of the salty air, and continued on her stroll.
As she ambled along, she once again gazed out across the horizon, and watched in pure amazement as a dolphin leaped out of the water. She stopped and clapped her hands, unthinkingly mimicking a child-like reaction that one of her students might have. A giggle escaped her, and she immediately searched for her camera without taking her eyes off the place she had spotted the animal.
Oh no! I forgot my camera. Again.
She sighed and shook her head. She always forgot her camera, and she had left her phone back in the cottage as well. Her husband, Mike, would never believe her without pictures to prove the sighting, or at least that’s what he would say … Maggie Lee smiled as she predicted his anticipated teasing.
“Did you see that? A dolphin!” Pointing, Maggie Lee jumped up and down as the words tumbled out of her mouth in excitement.
A couple walking hand in hand stopped to look out to sea in the direction she had indicated, shading their eyes from the rising sun glaring off the water.
“Are you sure? Sometimes the waves look a lot like sea creatures.” The man shrugged his shoulders, and they continued on their way.
“Wait! Right there … keep watching that spot. They usually travel in pods, so there can’t be just one…there!” Maggie Lee clapped again as another fin broke the surface of the water.
She couldn’t wait to share this experience with her students back home in Brockton, MA, after school resumed in, let’s see, exactly 36 days. It will fit perfectly with my unit on mammals.
She loved having summers off, but she was always ready to begin a new school year after a summer away. After so many days off, boredom inevitably set in and she was eager for the challenges that came with a new school year. Maggie Lee was a person of action. Laziness was not in her blood.
Though she was 55 years old, she did not look forward to retirement as most people her age did. On the contrary, she dreaded it. Maggie Lee was a teacher. Her job defined her. She had not been blessed with children of her own, and she did not know what direction her life would take when she no longer had her students to dedicate her life to.
Snapping herself back to the present, oblivious to how long she stood in that spot, she watched the dolphin pod traveling parallel to the beach until they disappeared from view. Even then she continued to watch the horizon, just in case they decided to return. Once again, she lifted her face to the ocean breeze as it ruffled her shoulder-length, curly, once natural but now dyed-blond hair, and the feel of the sand under her bare feet.
“There you are.” Mike’s arms wound around her midsection from behind, as he kissed her cheek and rested his head on top of hers, whiskers catching her hair.
A laugh escaped. “You’re awake.” Her eyes sparkled up at him.
Nodding, he paused to look out and ponder the ocean waves as his wife did. To Maggie, his arms personified his inner strength and his total acceptance of her for who she was, and she sighed and leaned back into him.
Reaching down to place her arms on top of his, she gave a gentle squeeze. Loving the feel of him against her, she told him about the dolphin pod, blue eyes glowing with excitement as she shared the news.
“They were beautiful, Mike. I wish you could have seen them with me.”
As she’d known he would, he joked, “Are you sure it wasn’t a sea gull, or a piece of driftwood floating on the waves? Or even a cardboard box? There’s a lot of litter in the ocean these days.”
She playfully punched him in the arm. “I know what I saw. It was a pod of dolphins frolicking in the waves.”
“Hey, I saw a sign about a Whale and Dolphin tour at the marina. How about we go book that tour before we leave? Then we’ll be sure to see real dolphins today. Maybe some whales, too. The brochure boasts this is one of the best places to view whales in the world.” He looked down to wink at her. “What do you think?” Her heart picked up its beat when he smiled, even after all these years.
“I love that idea! Sounds like a plan. I just want to walk a bit further to see if I can find more seashells for school. Walk with me?”
“Coffee. I need coffee. I’ll go back and sit on the balcony with my coffee while you finish your walk, and I’ll call the marina to book our tour.” Reaching out, he placed her cell phone in her hand. “You forgot this. Enjoy your walk.” Giving her another peck on the cheek, he stumbled back in the direction of the rented house.
“I’ll meet you there in 30 minutes.” She smiled as the sun glinted off Mike’s smooth head.
For a moment she saw him as he’d been when they had first met, with a full head of curly, strawberry blond hair. Though she’d loved his curls, she thought he was even more handsome now.
Like all marraiges, theirs had had its ups and downs, but they’d always survived life’s many challenges together. The biggest of which was their childlessness. They had never blamed each other, and eventually had accepted that they were just not meant to be parents.
Heaven knew, she couldn’t live without him. She thanked God for bringing Mike into her life every day. If teaching defined her, Mike completed her. He was her true other half. The corners of her mouth lifted. Hopeless romantic.
Dreamily walking along, she spied a huge slipper shell up ahead. She hoped it was intact. This would be an amazing discovery! I’ll take it to school to show my students, and then I’ll take it home. I know just where I can put it … on the end table in the living room, right next to my pottery class vase. Picking up her pace, she practically jogged to reach the shell.
As she bent to remove the shell from the seaweed surrounding it, something mometarily blinded her. She held up her hand to sheild her eyes from the bright glint of the sun reflecting off of something to the left of the shell.
Slipper momentarily forgotten, she picked up the small object in wonder. She ran her thumb over the cool surface in awe, and knew she had stumbled right into some kind of mystery. She had never seen anything like the shiny trinket she now held in the palm of her hand. It looked …otherworldly.
She looked around to see if an early morning beach walker like herself had dropped it, but saw no one nearby.
I’ll take it back to the cottage and ask around.
Forgetting the slipper shell completely, she turned back the way she’d come and began walking at a brisk pace, clutching her discovery in her hand as if she would never let it go.
Kristen Jackson is the author of KEEPER OF THE WATCH, Release date 2/1/18, which is available for pre-order now through:
You can find me on:
Good Reads: Kristen Jackson
Tumblr: Kristen Jackson Author