Authors: Kendall Grey
Tags: #Romance, #Australia, #Whales, #Elementals, #Dreams, #Urban Fantasy, #cookie429, #Kat, #Extratorrents
Praise for Kendall Grey and
, Book 1 in the Just Breathe Trilogy
is rich and intricate, but not overly complicated. The story is woven in such a magnificent manner, with little pieces coming back together in ways that I never expected. The story stole my attention, and my emotions.”
The Bookish Babe
“This is the type of book you read to escape in. The world-building was awesome and blew me away. I think the way the author wove in elementals with whales and a dream world was just fabulous. For me, the level of creativity in this book sets the bar for any other books I will read this year.”
“…But beyond the larger than life characters, the fascinating world-building, the do or die plot, what really shines is Kendall’s writing. She has a talent for completely immersing you in a strange and vibrant world.”
“This book was like a super awesome roller coaster ride! I want to get in line and ride it again and again. Not only was the main story great, but I loved the secondary characters too! This book is the total package. I need the next book right now! 5 out of 5 stars!”
Book Loving Mom
took me on a thrilling ride and left me breathless after reading it…I can absolutely say this is one of the most unique books I’ve read…This is a unique, and very beautifully woven story, with a kickass heroine and swoon-worthy male.”
Between the Lines
“Kendall’s writing is evocative and intriguing, forcing one to feel what the characters feel, ensuring that your breath catches when one of the characters’ does. The imagery in her story telling is so thorough and clean, I felt as if I was right there with Zoe and Gavin.”
The Boyish Booklover
A Just Breathe Novel
Copyright © 2012 by Kendall Grey
Howling Mad Press, LLC
P.O. Box 660
Bethlehem, GA 30620
All rights reserved as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior permission of the Author. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Edited by Heather Howland
Cover design by Claudia McKinney at
Photography by Jemma Milanovic
Cover model: Kern Johnston
Additional art by Renee Coffey
ISBN 13: 978-0-9848878-3-5
Manufactured in the United States of America
First E-book Edition: June 2012
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the word marks mentioned in this work of fiction.
Many people helped me shape this book into something far better than I ever dreamed it could be. Special thanks to these awesome readers and critique partners for their feedback and support: Carissa Andrews, Renee Coffey, Gina Lamm, Kara Malinczak, Noelle Pierce, and Lynn Rush.
Gratitude also goes to all the readers and reviewers who spread the word about INHALE, the first book in this series. Without them, there wouldn’t be an EXHALE.
High fives to my publishing “Dream Team”: my fantastic editor, Heather Howland; cover designer extraordinaire, Claudia McKinney at Phat Puppy Art; photographer, Jemma Milanovic; cover model, Kern Johnston; and graphic designer, Renee Coffey.
Big hugs and sloppy kisses to my family, amazing friends, fellow authors, and countless Twitter and Facebook buddies who’ve supported and pimped me on my journey. I love you, dudes and dudettes!
EXHALE is dedicated to my Resident Geek. Your quiet, Earthy strength grounds me, your Airy intelligence keeps me pointed in the right direction, your Fiery creativity sparks my writing, and your Watery love keeps me afloat when I feel like I’m drowning. I love you!
Though this book is a work of fiction, I made every effort to depict the science within the fantasy as realistically as possible. Descriptions of whales, behaviors, and research techniques are based on personal observations, discussions with scientists and naturalists, and in-depth research. The digital tags used by characters are actual devices employed by cetacean researchers in the field. For the sake of the story, I took some liberties with the DTAG retrieval methods described.
I also conducted extensive research on Triple X Syndrome in order to depict Zoe’s condition accurately. Many women go their entire lives without ever knowing they have Triple X.
A glossary of whale and world-building terms is located at the end of this book.
All profits from sales of the JUST BREATHE Trilogy will be donated to programs that educate people about whales and the challenges they face.
Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia
He’d been stood up.
Gavin Cassidy checked his watch and swiveled on the barstool to face The Whale & Whistle’s door. The woman of his dreams was an hour late.
He shouldn’t have gotten his hopes up. Should have known finding Dr. Zoe Morgan in the waking world of Realis would be much harder than keeping track of her in the Dreaming.
Head sagging and heart aching, Gavin left the pub and shuffled down the sidewalk under the fading purplish wisps of dusk. The smell of the ocean rolling in from the harbor reminded him of her. Goddamn
He scrubbed his face. What should he do? The Fyre Elementals knew where she lived. If they—Scarlet especially—got to Zoe before he did, she wouldn’t stand a chance against them, here or in the Dreaming.
to find her.
He paused on the trek to his car and reached into his leather jacket pocket for his cigarettes. Empty. Damn it. He’d picked a great time to quit smoking. Half-heartedly scanning the intersection ahead for signs of Zoe, he continued onward.
It hadn’t been just the protection issue that lured him out of the Dreaming and into Realis to look for her. As that bastard Fyre Elemental, Sinnder, had so kindly pointed out, Gavin was in love with her. Which brought his true motivation for finding her to a totally different level, didn’t it? Upgraded from routine Sentinel responsibility to hardcore, hands-on
He had to warn her she was in danger. Maybe he should—
His Dreamsense rattled to life at the sound of his muse’s familiar song, broadcast on a dream frequency beyond human hearing. The tune was as haunting as the songs of the whales he knew she loved.
He snapped his head up.
“Hey. You forget something?” a female voice with an American accent called from behind him.
He turned around.
It was her. His muse. In the flesh.
Familiar blond-streaked hair poured down the sleeves of a tight red button-up shirt. She looked five or six years older than him—maybe thirty—and hotter than sex during a summertime thunderstorm. Worth every bump, bruise, and scrape he’d endured to find her. His heart broke into a balls-out run. Along with the rest of him.
“Zoe?” He skidded to a halt a few feet in front of her. Tried to catch his breath.
She tilted her head to the right and smiled. Hell, yes. She recognized him.
Zoe tossed him the little wooden falcon he’d left on the bar inside The Whale & Whistle. Too captivated by the blue of her wide eyes to bother glancing away, he caught it without looking. His childhood toy-turned-good-luck-charm vibrated in his palm as if pleased with itself, and he slid it in his jacket pocket.
“I waited for you.” Obvious, but he was a little tongue-tied. He stretched his grin wider.
“I got lost.” Her voice had a little rasp to it. She was breathless too, though whether from chasing him down the street or for reasons similar to his own, he had no idea.
God, right here, right now. Zoe Morgan. He stepped closer. Dreamsense checked the area for Fyre Elementals. All clear.
After everything they’d been through together in the Dreaming, meeting her for real wasn’t just a pleasure. It was an honor. She’d sacrificed her Elemental Water and nearly died to defend the Dreaming from the Fyres. She’d saved thousands—maybe even millions—of human dreamers from death. And she’d done it all for him and a whale named Lily.
She was his heroine.
With his tongue, he flicked the silver ring jabbed through his bottom lip. Her eyes narrowed.
At your service.
He grabbed her by the arms and pulled her close. She gasped but didn’t resist—more fell into him, which was fine. He liked the idea of keeping her steady.
Elemental Water bubbled deep within his chest, proof of the heavy emotions practically denting the inside of his rib cage with their attempts at escape. So, his Water wanted to show its arse now? Fine.
He lowered his head and kissed her.
She stole what little remained of his breath. Thanks to the dreams they’d shared, he knew her lips as well as he knew his own. Could have picked them out blindfolded from a police kissing lineup.
But as his mouth settled into a rhythm and took the lead in their dance, Air energy blew through the empty space between his ears, reminding him he’d only just met Zoe in this world, and kissing her might be a wee bit forward. He drew away. Her cheeks reddened, and she inhaled sharply.
“Pleased to meet you.” He grinned and held out his right hand.
Lips parted, she took it. The blue in her aura deepened. “Zoe Morgan. I’m pleased to meet you too.”
Coolness flowed from her trembling palm into his. Their Water merged, ebbing and flowing across the boundaries of flesh. Christ, it felt good. Familiar. Safe. She pumped his hand twice, then her grip slackened.
Though he didn’t want to let go, the break in contact helped him wrangle his scattered wits back into a manageable ball. He and Zoe were in the open, exposed. Gavin swept the street again with his Dreamsense. As far as he could tell, no Fyre Elementals had snuck up while his brain evacuated its cranial real estate in favor of warmer southern climes in Hardwood Heights.
he warned the tent itching for a pitching under his jeans.
“Can I buy you a beer?” Heart on an adrenaline drip, he gestured to the neon sign displaying the words ‘The Whale & Whistle’ several windows behind her. “We have a lot to talk about.” He leaned forward, barely able to resist the lure of another go with those pouty pink lips.
Raising an eyebrow, Zoe gave him a quick once-over. Her breasts strained against her shirt. She flipped a length of hair over her shoulder and glanced around the street. “Yeah. Okay. One beer.”
He walked her back to the pub, held open the door, and followed her inside. A couple of gray-haired blokes looked up from their drinks, probably cursing the younger generation’s invasion into their old folks’ hideaway.
Spine ramrod straight and shoulders squared, Zoe navigated the maze of empty tables toward a deserted corner away from the dozen other patrons in the pub. Gavin took in her backside with lazy appreciation. The subtle curves of her waist, her swaying hips, the contours of her arse through the black pants—even her tanned, sandal-covered feet with their unpainted toenails had him scrambling to adjust the heat dial on his body’s furnace.
His balls tightened at the memory of the sex they’d had in the Dreaming.
Mind on business. The Fyres
, he told himself.
Gavin pulled out a chair for Zoe. “I’ll grab the beers. Is VB okay?”