Title: In Her Wake
Author: K.A. Tucker
Series: Ten Tiny Breaths #0.5
Cole Reynolds had it all. And then one night he makes a bad choice… and loses everything.
When a drunken night out at a Michigan State college party results in the death of six people, Cole must come to terms with his part in the tragedy. Normally, he’d be able to lean on his best friends. The best friends that have been in his life since he could barely walk. Only, they’re gone. Worse, there’s the shattered body of a sixteen-year-old girl lying somewhere in a hospital bed, her entire life ripped from her because of a case of beer and a set of keys.
Everyone assures him that they know it wasn’t intentional and yet he can’t ignore the weight of their gazes, the whispers behind his back. The all-consuming guilt he feels every time he thinks of that girl who won’t so much as allow him near her hospital room to apologize. As the months go by and the shame and loneliness festers, Cole begins to lose his grip of what once was important-college, his girlfriend, his future. His life. It’s not until Cole hits rock-bottom that he can begin to see another way out of his personal hell: forgiveness.
And there’s only one person who can give that to him…
When I joined their journey in Ten Tiny Breaths, I fell in love with Kacey Cleary and Trent Emerson. These two beautifully broken souls had a story to tell and I loved every heartbreaking minute of it. The raw emotions and honest tragedy of their story took up residence in my heart and has never left. By the time I was done reading, I felt like I knew Kacey, like I understood her and connected with her. Trent remained a little bit of a mystery. Despite the explanation for his actions, I wondered about what was going through his mind. How had he found himself in such a precarious situation, willing to risk everything to know the fiery redhead whose life was irreparably tied to his own? In Her Wake is the final piece of that puzzle. In Her Wake is Trent’s story and K.A. Tucker could not have done a better job revealing the pain behind this stunning character.
“I destroyed her life and then got caught in her wake. And I realized now that it’s exactly where I’m meant to be.”
I adored the character growth we see with Cole/Trent over the course of this story. This novella shows us “Trent” being born from “Cole” and it only serves to deepen my understanding of him. His change from carefree college student to devastated victim of circumstance to determined and sure young man was unforgettable. His personal journey shapes him in such a genuine way that you can’t help but feel every bit of his pain and sadness. Getting a glimpse of his emotional state following the accident and his time with Dr. Stayner really solidified my love for the man we met in Ten Tiny Breaths. His personality comes full circle and his actions become strikingly clear. I’m also glad we got to see Kacey spiraling out of control during her time of self-destruction. It gave me a greater appreciation for the person she became in TTB and the things she’d overcome to live again.
“Sasha’s absence in our lives is like a gaping fissure in the middle of a bridge. How the hell do you cross to get to the other side when you’ve run out of concrete? I guess you can slap on some wood to patch it up, to help you move on. But the bridge will never be quite right – never as strong – again.”
As devastating as it was, seeing the events leading up to and following the accident that forever altered Cole, Kacey, and Livie’s lives felt right. It broke my heart to watch this tragedy unfold and it was even harder to see how much it destroyed Cole and everyone around him. Seeing the dissolution of his former life, his world, and his family really tore at my heart. His happily ever after became just as necessary to my contentment with the story as Kacey’s had. Whether you read In Her Wake before or after TTB, you will leave feeling whole. I can’t imagine how challenging it must have been to get into Cole’s head and pull out the truth of what happened that night and in the days after. Everything about this novella is incredible. I loved the storyline, the character development, the pacing, and the emotional connection forged with the reader. K.A. Tucker effortlessly unravels Cole’s heart and soul, bringing a sense of completeness to an already beautiful story.
That’s how I spot her.
There’s no doubt that it’s her; I’ve memorized her face.
Leaning against a wall on the opposite side, her lips wrapped around a clear bottle filled with clear liquor, her fiery red hair a wild mane against the stark white wall, a tight black T-shirt showing off toned arms. She’s in no rush to part with that bottle, guzzling back a good portion before she hands it off to someone, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand.
Her eyes at half-mast.
My heart starts racing. What the hell is Kacey Cleary doing here? By my calculation, she’s probably finishing her last year of high school, having lost at least half a year while recovering.
I tug my cap down even farther, though I doubt she can see two feet in front of her.
Shit. What if she does recognize me? How would she react? Does she know my real name? What I look like? I can’t say for sure that my face wasn’t printed in a newspaper somewhere. She could have Googled my name and found a dozen game shots with me in them. I have my helmet on in most of them, but you can find a profile picture of me easily enough if you’re looking.
I don’t know that she was, though. I wonder if Kacey Cleary gives a fuck about anything anymore. Her Facebook account is inactive. She hasn’t posted a single word and the well-wishes have dwindled, as everyone moves on.
I do know that she shouldn’t be at a party in this state. I’ve heard of bad things happening when girls get that drunk. Especially when they don’t care.
But what do I do?
A blonde stumbles into my chest with two beers in hand. “Hey, do you go here? What’s your name?” She’s tipping her head back way farther than necessary to look up at me, telling me she’s trying to flirt but is too drunk to do it right.
I smile down at her anyway. She’s a good cover. I can stand right here and watch Kacey. “I’m Trent, and I used to go here.”
“Really? When’d you graduate?”
From the corner of my eye, I see Kacey shift from the wall and begin climbing the stairs, her arm hooked around the railing to help her. Two guys following her.
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Don’t miss the rest of the Ten Tiny Breaths series:
TEN TINY BREATHS (#1)
ONE TINY LIE (#2)
FOUR SECONDS TO LOSE (#3)
FIVE WAYS TO FALL (#4)
K.A. Tucker is the author of He Will Be My Ruin and the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series. She currently resides outside of Toronto with her husband, two beautiful girls, and a Chug.