Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ghostly Treasure (Bandit Creek Sweet) by Suzanne Stengl Excerpt

Ghostly Treasure (Bandit Creek Sweet) by Suzanne Stengl
$2.99 or FREE for Prime Members

When Christie McFee reads about the gold hidden at the bottom of Lost Lake, she decides to put some adventure in her life by diving for treasure. But when she meets Gaven St. Michel, the Divemaster on La Bonne Aventure, she starts to think that treasure can be whatever you want it to be.

If only Christie could figure out how to deal with the two ghosts who are haunting her—one of them wants her help, and the other wants her dead.

(A 34,000 word novella - New Adult, Sweet Romance, Light Paranormal)


Then the engine cut and the boat stopped traveling, and started bobbing in the water . . . in a nauseating rocking motion.
The younger man, the Divemaster, was talking. “Check your buddy’s equipment. Make sure you have enough air in your BCD for the surface. Charlie will help you.” The group paired off, each going through what looked like a standard checklist.
“Christie and I will go first,” the Divemaster said. “When we’re all in the water, give me the Okay signal. Then we’ll descend together.”
“Hey, Gaven,” one of the teenagers called out. “Is it all right if Terrence and I lead the way into the Old Town?”
“You can lead,” Gaven said. “But don’t get too far ahead.” He continued with his instructions. “We’ll be at an average depth of forty-eight feet for about forty minutes. Stay close to your buddy and keep everyone in sight. None of you are qualified as wreck divers so don’t go inside the buildings.”
“Yeah, the ghosts hate it when you do that. A couple of weeks ago, there was a guy out here who―”
“That’s enough, Ripley.” Gaven cut off the story.
She hadn’t read anything about a diving accident. And she didn’t want to know.
“All set?” Gaven asked, speaking just to her.
Her heartbeat pounded in her ears. “I think so,” she said, still sitting on the bench, trying to focus on the horizon, trying to stop the nausea she felt with the pitching boat.
He clamped an air tank to a vest—the BCD—that’s what Charlie had called it. “Stand up.”
She did, holding the back of the bench with one hand, balancing herself as the boat swayed.
Gaven slipped a yellow weight belt around her waist. “Right hand release, remember?” He bent his head to look in her eyes. She turned away. She didn’t want him to see how scared she was.
There was so much to remember. She felt him take her hand, her right hand, and gently place it over the weight belt buckle.
“Try it.”
She did and the heavy weight belt released easily. It would have fallen on her toes if he hadn’t been holding it.
He refastened it. Then he lifted the air tank and clunked it on the bench. “Sit here,” he said, guiding her into position in front of the tank.
He was helping her with the vest—the BCD—adjusting buckles, tightening straps. Doing all the things she should have known how to do. Maybe it would have been better to take a course first, but she hadn’t wanted to waste the time, since she’d never do this again.
She heard a hiss of air as he pressed the valve on her BCD, slightly inflating her vest.
“You really want to dive?”
“I do,” she answered, looking at the deck. She heard his sigh, and knew he had doubts about taking her into the water.
He waited for a long moment, like he was deciding something. And then he said, “Did you have any trouble equalizing in the pool?”
“You mean my ears?” She glanced up briefly, and then averted her eyes.
Yesterday, she’d managed to get to the bottom of the pool when Charlie was teaching her. Nine feet . . . and she was standing up, so not really nine feet. Her ears had hurt the whole time. How was she ever going to go down to forty-eight feet?
“My ears hurt a little,” she lied, speaking to the deck of the boat, still not looking at him.
“Charlie probably told you to equalize every three feet but you’ll do it more often.” The tone of his voice had changed, slightly. “Every foot, or even every half foot. Signal me if your ears hurt.” He paused. “You know how to make a Something-is-Wrong signal?”
It was a signal she definitely knew. She showed him.
“All right. You’re ready. Stand up.”
She did, bracing her legs in a wide stance, trying to balance on the rocking boat. Why did the equipment have to be so heavy?
“Once we’re in the water, you’ll hold on to me,” Gaven said.
Something about his voice reassured her. He sounded calm, and in charge, and . . . kind. Maybe everything would be all right.
“I’ll release all the air in your BCD and I’ll control our descent. Got that?”
“Okay,” he said. “Put on your mask.”
She did, feeling the seal tighten around her face. Then she could feel his fingers touch her face as he adjusted the mask.
“Pinch your nose,” he said, putting her hand in place. “And blow.”
It was the easy way to equalize, apparently . . . if it worked. Charlie had said something about yawning, and swallowing, and various other ways of clearing her ears. But, in the short time she’d experimented, she hadn’t been able to do anything that would relieve the pressure.
“You have to look at me,” Gaven said.
And now besides being calm and kind and reassuring, there was a touch of humor in his voice. Or, maybe she imagined it.
“Watch my eyes.”
She did. Trying to project an image of confidence. Noticing, for the first time, the deep brown of his eyes. The dark fringe of lashes. And, was that . . . concern?
“Every time I nod, you pinch your nose and blow. Got that?”
“Yes. You nod, I pinch and blow.”
“Keep watching me,” he said. “All the way down.”
The boat bounced and tilted. She reached out and held on to his forearm. He stood solid and strong, and completely unaffected by the movement. But she felt the nausea from the motion, and the weakness from the heat, and the tight claustrophobia of the wet suit. The mask was even worse, trapping her, forcing her to breathe through her mouth.
“Slow down your breathing.” He put the regulator in her mouth and she felt like she was suffocating.
“Breathe in slowly,” he said, waiting for her to do that. “And now breathe out, completely. Count if that helps.”
She heard the flow of the air as she breathed in . . . and out . . . testing the regulator before she was underwater.
But she wanted to rip out the regulator and rip off her mask, and her hood. And every piece of equipment she was wearing. She wanted to forget about diving. She wanted to give up.
“Don’t worry about running out of air. I’ll keep an eye on your gauges.”
Right. The gauges. She was supposed to keep an eye on her gauges, and remember to breathe. And remember to breathe slowly. And search for treasure. And not suffocate.
Gaven guided her to the platform. In her peripheral vision she noticed Charlie setting an air tank and BCD on the floor of the platform.
Gaven’s equipment. Charlie had set it up for him. And then Gaven was quickly donning his own BCD and air tank.
“Lift your foot, girl,” Charlie said. He slipped a fin over her neoprene boot, and then the other. “Okay, you’re ready.”
She wasn’t ready. She focused on breathing, on getting her air from a tank strapped to her back, and she felt panic. Then she heard Gaven’s voice, as he stood beside her.
“Put your hand over your mask and regulator. Like this,” he said, moving her hand into position.
Good idea. Otherwise she’d probably dislodge her mask or regulator, or both, when she splashed down.
“You’re going to take a big step out and that’s it. I’ll see you in the water. Ready?”
She stood on the platform that floated about four feet above the lake’s surface, and she heard her heart thudding in her ears. She listened to the sound of her breaths coming through the regulator.
“On three, you step out,” Gaven said. “One . . . two . . . three.”
She tried not to think about it. Clamping her hand over her mask and regulator, she took a giant stride. As she dropped into the water, she prayed she would survive this experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...