My new novel, BENEATH THE WAVES, is set to release to the public (in one week!) on July 1st, 2020, but I'm too excited to wait!
I've been sharing a chapter each week on my blog until release day, and this is the last installment! (*You can find chapters one and two on my blog...but it's not necessary to read the first two chapters before reading chapter three below.)
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 of them is like family to me.
I hope you enjoy meeting each one of them! In this chapter you are introduced to 22-year-old gamer, Jace Calhoun, and his very special dog, Crash. (I had such a blast writing the two canine characters in the book. I hope you grow to love them as much as I do!)
Please enjoy this sneak peek at chapter three below.
Beneath the Waves
Kristen L. Jackson
Barnstable, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Jace’s breath came in short bursts as he ran through the city, shooting aliens. They swarmed the streets, running at him from behind buildings, crashing through windows, even dropping from the sky. He whipped his body from one side to the other, aiming the weapon and pulling the trigger over and over again. His ammunition supply was dwindling. If he didn’t think fast, they would surround him in minutes. Every bullet had to count now.
Bang-bang-bang, shoot to kill.
He was a perfect shot, and each creature died with an explosion of green blood and gore that covered everything.
Eyes totally focused on the screen, hands working the controller with an expertise born out of years of practice, Jace pumped his fist in the air as he expertly advanced to the next level of the game, barely noticing the dog’s teeth pulling on his pants leg.
As he began the next round, his pup became more insistent, alternating between pulling on Jace’s pants leg, laying his head on his master’s lap, and whining.
“Just one more round, Crash, and then I promise I’ll take you out.”
Crash huffed and flopped himself into a corner, eyes intensely focused on his master for a sign he was finished. Jace tuned him out and once again entered his second home—the world of gaming.
Bang-bang-bang, shoot to kill.
If he could find a way to make it his first home, he would.
At twenty-two, Jace Calhoun was currently employed by the local farmer’s market, which just barely paid the rent of his two-room apartment. It was a temporary situation. His goal was to turn his gaming abilities into an income by the time he was twenty-five. If his dream of becoming a professional gamer came to fruition, he would have reached the goal he had set for himself at age twelve, while simultaneously proving everyone in his family wrong.
When the level was complete, Jace reluctantly removed his headset, put down the controller, and stood. Stretching his arms toward the ceiling with a cracking of bones, he groaned. He squinted at the clock, and his red-rimmed eyes widened.
Three hours? Whoa.
He would have guessed he’d been at it for less than one hour.
Time flies when you’re saving the world from alien scum.
Jace chuckled under his breath.
At the first sign of movement from his master, Crash immediately jumped to his feet and ran, body wiggling, to the door. He looked back over his shoulder with a canine grin, tail making a thumping sound as it hit the wall repeatedly in his excitement.
Snapping on the leash, no easy feat with the dog in constant motion, they left through the front door and descended the stairs. Crash urgently pulled ahead to reach the small patch of grass located in front of the apartment complex, assuming a squatting position as soon as he arrived.
“You really did need to go. Sorry dude, you know how I lose track of time when I’m playing.”
Jace shook his head. Do all people talk to their dogs? He wondered but didn’t really care. It was just the two of them, after all, and though like most gamers Jace was content with his solitary existence, he was awfully happy to have Crash to talk to.
When Crash finished his ‘business’, he took off, straining at the leash to pull Jace down the block.
“Okay, okay dude, take it easy. I get it; you want to take a walk. Fine, let’s go.” Jace rolled his eyes—as if it were up to him. Both human and canine knew who was really in charge in this relationship. Besides, it was hard to deny the dog when he was so clearly excited. After all, the poor mutt spent his entire day in the box that was his apartment just waiting on his boy’s return home. The reward? Potty breaks to spring him from his confinement and bowls of dry dog food. Jace smiled. Despite that, the animal’s happy-go-lucky attitude never faltererd, his euphoria raining down on his master with sloppy wet kisses brought on by even the smallest kernel of attention.
Jace knew where Crash was heading. It was the same direction he always went. They lived mere blocks away from the local beach, and his dog loved to swim. He wasn’t sure what breed of dog his mutt was. Jace remembered the first time he had seen him at the shelter, all scraggly, hair in knots, and in desperate need of medical attention…and more than that, a friend. Jace filled out the adoption papers on the spot, and they’d been together ever since. These days, though Jace had never been able to afford a groomer, the dog’s coat was clean, if unevenly cut by his own amateur hand, and his belly never rumbled with true pangs of hunger. In return, Crash greeted Jace at the door every time he walked in as if he’d won the biggest prize at the summer carnival’s water-shooting contest—even if he was gone for mere minutes instead of hours. They were bonded the way some would never understand a human and canine could be. As he plodded along, his sneakers thumping on the sidewalk, his thoughts were interrupted by a voice.
“Excuse me? I’m sorry if this is rude, but I have to ask. Has anyone ever told you that you look like your dog? Or is it that your dog looks like you?” A woman walking past paused to ask with a friendly smile, reaching down to pat Crash on the head.
“Yeah. I get that all the time.” He smiled back before his eyes darted down to his Nikes, and continued on.
It was a constant source of merriment when people saw them together. He couldn’t deny it. They both had the same shade of black hair, and the cowlick above Jace’s forehead made his hair stand up, similar to the way Crash’s hair stood out over his eyes. The similarities didn’t end there. Jace’s long face, combined with his narrow pointed nose was strikingly comparable to Crash’s narrow, pointy snout. Jace saw the humor in their matching appearances, and didn’t take offense. He smiled to himself. His mutt was extremely handsome, after all.
They continued on their walk. Jace looked down at the taut leash and his outstretched arm as his dog pulled him along.
Walk. He rolled his eyes. More like drag.
“Stop pulling, Crash. We’re almost there.”
Crash looked back over his shoulder with a canine grin, but kept up his pace. If anything, he pulled harder.
“Crazy dog.” Jace grumbled.
When they reached the walkway through the dunes, Crash strained at the end of the leash, going up on his hind legs, front legs paddling in the air. His breathing came out with a strangled H-rrssh, HHH-rrrsshh, HHH-rrsshh.
“Crash! Jeez, hold on,” Jace’s head darted from side to side as he spoke, checking for people. This was a ‘Dogs Must Be Leashed’ beach, but despite the posted signs, he and Crash often came here for a swim. They hadn’t been caught…yet. He undid the leash and rubbed his sore hand.
In a blur of fur and legs, Crash took off in the direction of the water. Jace found a spot in the sand and sat down. It wouldn’t take long for his mutt to exhaust himself, he knew. A chuckle escaped as he watched Crash pick up a tangle of seaweed and growl as he shook it back and forth in his mouth, just as he did at home with his toys. A killer instinct that was reduced to decimating stuffed toys, twigs, and rope toys in this domesticated breed of the species. And now, apparently, seaweed.
“Oh no.” Jace leaped to his feet when he saw the drenched dog heading in his direction still carrying the tangle of seaweed, which trailed on the ground as he ran. The salty, mildewed smell reached him just before the dog did.
Crash dropped the seaweed at his master’s feet, and shook his entire body. The shake seemed to start at his head and travel the length of his body, ending with happy little tremors at the tip of his tail, water spewing in every direction.
“Hey! Stop! D-u-ude!” Holding his splayed hands in front of him, Jace looked down at his wet pants and shook his head. “Crash, that’s bad! Bad dog,” He mumbled. The dog dropped down into the sand, and rolled onto his back. Tongue hanging sideways, tail twitching, he looked backward at Jace as if to say: ‘I’m Sorry’.
“Crazy dog,” Jace barked out a reluctant laugh. “I’m still triggered. I should take you back to the pound, that’s what I should do.” As he reached down to ruffle the soggy, sand-encrusted hair on his dog’s head, a glint of light from inside the seaweed forced him to shield his eyes.
“Whoa,” he said, moving in to take a closer look. “What’s that you got there, buddy?”
Jace’s eyes widened as he bent to examine Crash’s find. The dog, now standing with his chest puffed out and head held high, seemed very proud of his discovery. He leaned closer, his nose twitching before he looked up at Jace, tail whipping a circular pattern in the air.
Jace glance at him before his eyes were drawn back to the object in the sand. “Whoa,” he repeated.
Thanks for reading this Sneak Peek of BENEATH THE WAVES, releasing in ONE WEEK! Spread the word!
eBook Available for Pre-Order NOW, official release date ONE WEEK FROM TODAY - 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 (7/1/20) BENEATH THE WAVES
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