No Time to Breathe

Listen to a narrated excerpt of No Time to Breathe.

This week we’re heading out to do a little kickboxing. That’s right, kickboxing. Lori Duffy Foster brings us No Time to Breathe featuring Lisa Jamison, journalist. Okay, so maybe you don’t kickbox, but it might be fun, that is, if you don’t discover any bodies.

About the Book

Journalist Lisa Jamison wants to blow off some steam after an argument with her boyfriend, so she heads to her friend Ricky’s kickboxing studio for an early morning workout. She expects to find Ricky alone, setting up for his first class of the day, but someone was there before Lisa, uninvited. Ricky is dead, shot only moments before she arrived, and now Lisa is a suspect in his murder. Lisa wants two things: to clear her name and seek justice for Ricky. But the deeper she digs, the more the danger mounts. Can she find Ricky’s killer before the killer eliminates the last obstacle, silencing Lisa for good?


Chapter 1
Ricky’s Jeep was in the lot this morning, parked as far away as possible from the new coffee shop two doors down that attracted a steady stream of vehicles driven by hurried customers who didn’t always stop when they nicked paint or dented fenders. Lisa dodged a sedan as she crossed the pavement, thankful she knew enough to be on the lookout. The car swerved more than necessary, and driver’s eyes were wide when she looked at Lisa, like someone who had been texting and only now realized the consequences. But Lisa wasn’t ready for the delivery truck driver who crossed the lot diagonally, moving too fast, to find her in his path. He slammed on the brakes when he saw her and reached his arm out the window, raising a middle finger in her direction. Lisa was too surprised to even glare in return. The peace she’d found during her run had dissipated, and she was anxious to retrieve it. She slowed to a walk and took a few deep breaths, inhaling the damp morning air and the aromas of coffee and pastries. It was helping, but a jab or two to the bag with that guy’s image in her head would be even more therapeutic.
She found the studio door unlocked when she arrived. The main room was dim, illuminated only by the morning sun that seeped through gaps in the blinds that covered the store-front windows. A shaft of artificial light came through a crack in Ricky’s office door in the back of the building. Lisa flipped on the lights, knowing his clients would start arriving in about fifteen minutes. He was probably catching up on paperwork, his only chance in what would be a busy day. Ricky’s studio was always full, attracting a good mix of cardio lovers who were happy doing the moves to music in large groups, along with the die-hard kickboxers who sparred at tournaments. Lisa fell somewhere in the middle. She preferred to train like the die-hards, but she’d never been interested in stepping into a ring. Not a real ring anyway. She sparred once a week or so as part of a self-defense class, but no one ever followed through with the hits. Instead, they earned points for speed, accuracy, and the choices they made.
“Ricky,” she called out. “It’s just me. Lisa. Don’t bother stopping whatever you’re doing. I’m in a bit of hurry today anyway.”
No one answered, so Lisa threw her jacket into a corner, adjusted her ponytail, and found a pair of wraps she knew belonged to Ricky. Since she was already warmed up, she could get right to it. Her kickboxing shoes were in her locker, but she didn’t have time for all that today, so she’d have to go easy on the kicks. She didn’t want to sprain an ankle again, kickboxing in running shoes. She hooked the string loop over her thumb on her left hand and was wrapping the cloth around her fingers and palm when she heard a faint sound that didn’t belong in the studio, like someone was gargling.
“Ricky? You in there?”
The two small locker rooms with their showers and bathrooms were close by. She listened more intently, but the sound wasn’t coming from there. It grew louder as she moved toward Ricky’s office. Lisa sprinted across the remainder of the room, leaping over the warm-up mats that awaited the morning’s clients, remembering now a conversation when Ricky described a seizure he’d had out of nowhere. He wasn’t epileptic, and he hadn’t had one since. But the doctor warned him it could happen any time, despite the meds they’d put him on. If he was seizing, he could be choking on something.
She pushed on the office door, which was ajar, but something stopped it from opening all the way. Then she smelled it. A familiar odor, metallic but with a sickly sweetness to it. For a moment, she froze. Her heart, her voice, her limbs—nothing seemed to work. She didn’t want to see what was behind that door, but then she heard the sound again—louder, more desperate—and she pushed harder. The scene entered her consciousness like a snapshot, and she studied it from a mental distance, as if she were sifting through photos from a court case. And then, without warning, a scream emerged so violently that it seemed to rip through her chest, breaking her ribs and tearing her flesh as it escaped into the room. This couldn’t be happening. This couldn’t be Ricky, splayed out on the floor, bleeding from his throat and his chest, struggling to call out as he drowned in his own blood.
Lisa leaned over his convulsing body and grabbed the phone from his desk with shaking hands. She punched in 911, not sure what she was saying and not hearing a word the dispatcher said in return. With the phone still in her hand, she squatted and reached to put pressure on his throat in hopes of slowing the bleeding. But as her palm touched the thick flow of dark blood, the gurgling stopped, and his eyes quit searching the room. They remained wide open, seeing nothing. The dispatcher was still talking, but Lisa dropped the phone and stood. Two women had just entered the studio, and she could hear their light chatter. They would call out for Ricky soon. She closed the office door and locked herself in. He shouldn’t be alone, but he shouldn’t be a spectacle either. She would stay with him until the police came. She curled up in a corner, clutching her stomach, with her eyes closed to the mess in front of her, hoping that when she opened them again, she would find it was all a bad dream.

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About the Author

Lori Duffy Foster is a former crime reporter writing from the hills of Northern Pennsylvania and the Agatha and Shamus award-nominated author of the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series. NEVER LET GO, her debut thriller, released in December from Level Best Books and NO TIME TO BREATHE, book 3 in her series, released in April. Lori is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, The Historical Novel Society, International Thriller Writers, and Pennwriters.

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