Blog Tour: Breathless by Jessica Bayliss
Tagline: I’m seventy feet below the Caribbean Sea, and I’m out of air.
A brush with death brings Leah closer to the ghosts she longs to find and throws her into the arms of the troubled scuba instructor who saves her.
Dale, an Operation Enduring Freedom Veteran, is haunted by his own restless spirits. He's on a hunt for forgiveness, and the Caribbean Sea is his hunting ground.
The peace they search for lies in the bond they never suspected they shared.
BREATHLESS BUY LINKS:
I exhale and watch bubbles float off into the churning blue above me. I draw another breath, except this time, there is no air. My lungs, in all their twenty-seven years of finding no resistance to their whims, of drawing in sweet gulps, huffs, and puffs, meet a wall of stainless steel. With the next try, that wall slams into my diaphragm.
My left hand grasps the air pressure gauge as it bobs and snakes down by my hip. The dial’s needle hovers at a thick black line highlighted in red. Zero pounds per square inch.
I’m seventy feet below the Caribbean Sea, and I’m out of air.
Heavy nausea grabs hold of my gut and throat. I almost spit out the regulator mouthpiece, but reason kicks in. I stop myself just in time.
Don’t panic. Stay calm.
But it’s so hard to follow my own instructions. The warm water cradling my body has no mercy for this tiny, helpless human, and it turns to ice around me, needling my skin with cold until I’m numb. I hold my final breath. Everything in me screams out the wrongness of this. The world on the other side of my mask fuzzes out. My mind will soon follow if I don’t do something. Now.
Remember the training. Just find another diver.
Thank God, one of the instructors is less than ten yards away. My finned feet power me to Dale’s side with five hard kicks. He’s tucking something into a waist bag, and when I thrust my air pressure gauge into his face, at first he jerks away from it. Then his eyes widen as realization hits.
I expect him to immediately reach for his spare regulator, the savior of rubber and metal, my sole hope if I want any fate other than drowning. Instead, he brings his large, strong hands to my face. The honey-gold flecks within his irises glint and flash in what filmy light breaches the yards of water between the surface and my airless lungs. There’s no warmth down here, and I’m out of time.
Dale is my only hope.
I let him capture my face between his palms and hold me with his anchor eyes. My heart beats a fluttery, jerky rhythm, and I count—One. Two-three. Four. Five-six-seven—and wait as though I’m not moments from my death.
As though I have all the time in the world.
But whatever he’s doing, it’s working. I’m calmer. For the first time since I found nothing behind my inhale, my heart beats steady and true. He gives me a firm nod, and I return the gesture.
It’s then, only then, that he unhooks the spare regulator from his dive vest. His other hand comes to the mouthpiece I still clench in my teeth. He brushes his fingers against my lips as he pulls the device free, and I give it up reluctantly even though it’s totally useless. A small, salty flow of water hits my tongue, and I swallow it down—the first of what could turn out to be a whole ocean’s worth if we mess up this maneuver.
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They say write what you know, so Jessica Bayliss did. Her story, BREATHLESS, was inspired by her own experience running out of air on a scuba dive—except without all the steamy romance and eerie paranormal happenings. Alas, real life. Obviously, she survived. Her genre-bending fiction holds a little something for everyone. A lover of ghost tales and horror since her days scanning VHS rental shelves—admittedly with eyes half-averted from the gory covers—a touch of the mysterious always finds a home in Jessica’s work. Romance with a dash of supernatural. Horror with a bit of humor. You get the gist. Jessica also writes across age groups and is a firm believer in the motto: there is a new reader born every day, whether young or not-so-young.
Look for her upcoming releases: TEN PAST CLOSING, a YA contemporary thriller (Sky Pony Press, Spring 2018), and BROKEN CHORDS, a YA horror novella (Leap Books, October 2017). You can find her story “Care of the Undead Dog” in ZOMBIE CHUNKS, which came out earlier this year. Read about all of Jessica’s books and stories here.
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