Sneak Peek, Chapter One: Beneath the Waves!

My new novel, BENEATH THE WAVES, is set to release to the public on July 1st, 2020, but I'm too excited to wait!


Soooo...


I plan to share a chapter each week on my blog until release day!


In the beginning of the story, you will be introduced to different characters with each new chapter. For that reason, I'd like to introduce them to you one at a time since each one of them is like family to me.


I hope you enjoy meeting each one of them! In this chapter you will meet Dr. Sofiana Stone, marine biologist. (Oh, and of course a giant great white shark she is tracking off the coast of Cape Cod.)


Please enjoy chapter one below.






 

Beneath the Waves

by

Kristen L. Jackson



 



Chapter 1

Off the Coast of Chatham, Massachusetts, Near Monomoy Island

The great white glided gracefully above her, close enough for her to clearly make out the jagged anchor shaped scar that ran along the massive creature’s underbelly. Her heart beat a furious rhythm and she sucked oxygen in quick bursts. Eyes gleaming through the foggy plastic face mask, the corners of her mouth lifted in an awkward smile around her mouthpiece.


Sofiana Marigold Stone concentrated on her underwater breathing.


Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.


Not too fast. Not too slow. Though she had done this possibly hundreds of times, she sometimes forgot to breathe when she became immersed in the moment as she was now.


From her vantage point on the ocean floor her eyes tracked the creature as it moved effortlessly through the swirling waters just below the surface, spotlighted by bursts of sunbeams breaking ethereally through the waves above. Its massive body coasted along as graceful as a ballerina in pirouette. Sofiana felt no fear of the enormous beast, rather the opposite was true. As she continued her vigil, a wave of respect, awe, and even a bone-deep gratitude brought tears to her eyes and fogged her mask.


Planting her flippers as firmly as possible on the sandy ocean floor, she precariously balanced on their tips as she waited and watched, almost forgetting in her fascination to snap the pictures she had come here to take. She peeked at the gauge on her tank and silently calculated how much time she had left. Knowing she would need to surface soon, she blew out a breath. Glancing toward the sunlight still streaking through the surface, she made a decision.


Just a little longer.


In her opinion, sharks were massively misunderstood by the majority of the public. As if they were murderers searching out the next tasty human to chomp on. Frowning behind her mask, fingers tightening on the camera, her eyes never left the shark.


She had been tracking this particular shark for months now and had playfully named her Baby. Judging by the visible bulge around the beast’s belly she suspected that the 25-foot-long Baby was expecting a litter of her own pups.


Sofiana had given up much to follow this path. In her twelve years as a professional in the field of marine biology, she had yet to find a man who would stick around and wait for her to return from the sea. In this line of business, she spent more time on, or in, the churning ocean waters than on land. And so here she was, 34-years-old, single, and…happy that way. A name fleetingly popped into her head, unwanted.


Grayson.


She quickly pushed the thought, just as she’d pushed the man, aside.


The ocean and all the miraculous creatures within were her soul mate, her best friend, her lover. She would not give this up for any man, and so she had given up on dating instead. Unbidden, the name invaded once more. Grayson. A memory of legs entangled in urgent need flashed through her mind like lightning before she could banish it. Sofiana shook her head. No. He’s not part of my life anymore.


She mentally snapped herself back to the present, and Baby. The sun gently kissed the dull gray of the fish’s skin, lending a deceptively smooth appearance. She knew if she ran her fingers over the dermal scales in the wrong direction, the tiny teeth-like denticles would rub through her own skin creating a brushburn-like bruise similar to that of a child skinning his knee after falling from his bike onto unforgiving concrete.


Impatiently brushing back her dark brown hair as it floated in front of her camera lens, she watched Baby continue her serene trek through the water. Sofie could stay here all day, if not for the need of oxygen, and would never get bored.


The peacefulness of the moment was shattered in an instant. Her breath was forced out in a surprised whoosh when something as solid as a brick wall rammed into her back. In her peripheral vision, an enormous blur disappeared before she could focus through the fog inside her mask. Pain shot up her spine, temporarily blinding her. This second beast, if that’s what it was, had knocked her sideways.


Her breathing was labored as she began a surprisingly graceful fall through the churning waters into the sand below, kicking up clouds of sand into the water. What was that thing? Another shark? Since she’d had Baby in her sights at the time of the collision, she knew it wasn’t her.


Her camera dropped as if in slow motion to the ocean floor, snapping one final burst of pictures in its descent.



***



Sofiana did not panic.


Disoriented, she found herself lying horizontally on the ocean floor, hands sinking into the sand as she tried to right herself while simultaneously trying to get her bearings.


The tank weighed heavily on her back in this awkward position as she struggled to her feet. Looking up, she still had Baby in her sight, but the shark that had rammed her—or whatever it was—was nowhere in view. Her impulse was to surface as quickly as possible, but she was well versed in the dangers of doing just that.


Breathe in. Breathe out.


She had no wish to suffer decompression sickness—better known as the bends—by ascending too fast while swimming alone with two sharks…possibly more. She had to think quickly.


Her eyes focused on the oxygen gauge once more.Time to go. She would have to begin surfacing, sharks or no sharks. Pushing off, she kicked upward.


My camera!


The dive would be for nothing if she didn’t take those pictures with her. An image of Grayson flashed through her mind, standing with his arm outstretched, that cocky smile of his flashing those dimples. A memory of him handing her the camera adorned with a shiny scarlet bow on their last Christmas together. She quickly pushed the thought aside.


As if in slow motion she awkwardly changed direction, kicking back down toward the cherry-red camera. She would not surface without it.


As Sofiana descended, Baby suddenly darted away in a flash of bubbles. Puzzled, Sofiana looked around to see what might have spooked the massive shark. Spinning in a slow circle, heart racing, she saw nothing. Her breathing came in rapid gulps and her head whipped from side to side. She reached out for the camera, grabbing it as she kicked toward the surface. During the methodically slow ascent, her eyes continuously darted back and forth looking for any sign of movement.


A shiver travelled down her back, her breath quickening to tiny pants. She was known for her fearlessness in the field, and knew her colleagues would be shocked to learn of her sudden agitation in her current near-panic state.


Tossing off the feeling, she continued her agonizingly slow trek to the surface. But she couldn't help the prickles of gooseflesh that rose under her wet suit. As if she were being watched. An icy cold sensation gripped her, making her shake.


That's ridiculous.


Breathe in. Breathe out.


Don’t think.


Just Breathe.


 

Thanks for reading chapter one of Beneath the Waves, set to release on July 1st, 2020. I'll publish chapter two on my blog next week!





BENEATH THE WAVES

Amazon Link:

https://www.amazon.com/BENEATH-WAVES-Kristen-L-Jackson-ebook/dp/B089G6FPR7

eBook Available for Pre-Order NOW, official release date 7/1/20!



Kristen L. Jackson,

Author of the KEEPER OF THE WATCH Series,

children's picture book JOCELYN'S BOX OF SOCKS and

New Release BENEATH THE WAVES

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