Before you knew him as Trent in Ten Tiny Breaths, he was Cole Reynolds—and he had it all. Until one night when he makes a fatal, wrong decision...and loses everything. Discover his side of the story in this novella from the beloved nationally bestselling author, K.A. Tucker.
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 ones who 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. Nor can he shake 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 on 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…
About the Author
K.A. Tucker writes captivating stories with an edge. She is the bestselling author of the Ten Tiny Breaths and Burying Water series and the novels He Will Be My Ruin, Until It Fades, Keep Her Safe, and The Simple Wild. She currently resides in a quaint town outside Toronto with her husband and two beautiful girls.
Read an Excerpt
In Her Wake
April 26, 2008
“Last one and then we’re heading out.”
“You’re kidding me, right?” Derek’s deep voice carries over the steady thrum of house music. He hands off an empty beer bottle to a passing buddy in exchange for two full ones, tossing one to me. “It’s what,” he glances at his watch, “only twelve. And we drove an hour to get here!”
Twisting the cap off, I suck back a big gulp, the fresh, cold liquid like icy relief on a scorching day. Even though it’s April in Michigan and barely tipping the freezing mark outside, it’s sweltering hot in here. “I warned you that I wanted an early night. I’m hitting the books first thing tomorrow morning or I’m screwed.” Four finals in three days. I’m screwed either way. That’s probably why the Millers are going down so damn fast tonight. I’m definitely more relaxed than I was when we first arrived.
“You’ll be home by tomorrow morning. Until then . . .” He gives his cousin’s living room—jam-packed with a blend of college kids and locals—a once-over, stalling on two blonds who look like they could still be in high school.
“If we don’t head out soon, I’ll be a write-off and you know it.” It’s no surprise that Derek’s busting my balls to stay. He’s never been one to miss a party. Normally we have to pry him off the keg. But I only agreed to watching the hockey game—the Red Wings are in the play-offs, after all—and somehow it turned into this. If it weren’t my last Friday night in Michigan, I would have said no in the first place. “Don’t you have finals to worry about, too?”
Derek shrugs, taking another long drag of his beer and then settling his eyes on the brunette tucked into the tight space beside me on the couch. Michelle, I think she said her name was. She’s pretty and sweet, and she’s casually nudged her thigh against mine enough times for me to know she’s into me. But, even though it’s been six weeks since Madison came to visit me and I’m dying to get laid, I’m not about to cheat on my girlfriend. Especially not for a one-nighter.
I ignore Derek’s dumb smirk. “Where’s Sasha?”
He dips his head to the left. I follow his lead to where our friend stands toe-to-toe with a brawny guy wearing a blue Wolverines T-shirt, their lips moving fast and tight. If I had to guess, their little “chat” has something to do with our bowl game against the other Michigan college football team three months ago—which we won—and things are about to heat up. It doesn’t help that Sasha wore his “Spartans rule, Wolverines drool” shirt tonight, knowing we were heading into U of M territory.
“Great,” I mutter, dragging my six-foot-three-inch frame off the couch. The room sways and I stumble slightly, my foot bumping the tidy line of empties on the floor.
I’ve had way more than I planned on having in the last four hours.
I’m the DD tonight.
I guess that means we’re stuck here for a while. And I’ve probably just fucked myself over for finals.
Wandering over to Sasha, I drop my hand on his shoulder, getting a good grip in case I have to pull him back. Sasha’s no runt, only an inch short of matching my height and, thanks to an intense off-season practice schedule, just as built. He can handle his own. I should know; we’ve been roughhousing together since we were in diapers.
“We all good here?” I eye the guy in front of him, an olive-skinned Latino with a unibrow and an intimidating scowl. I don’t recognize his face from the field. Then again, we all wear helmets and I don’t waste my time on anything but which number I need to take out.
Sasha thrusts a hand through his shaggy brown hair—almost identical to mine in color—but doesn’t answer me, eyes locked on the other guy. I’ve seen him like this before. It almost always ends up in a fight.
“Sash? Finals start next week,” I remind him. They’ll be hard enough without swollen eyes and split lips. Plus, I can’t be getting into a fight with my healing shoulder.
“Yeah.” The word drags on Sasha’s tongue and then he smirks. “We’re good. Just sharing some helpful tips. You know, the basics. Like how to throw a fucking ball to your receiver.”
I step in between them to serve as a barrier just as the other guy leans in.
Thankfully, Derek’s cousin, Rich—a big guy himself—strolls out from the kitchen then. “Take it outside. I don’t want my place trashed.”
Sasha’s hands lift, palms out, in an act of surrender. “Nothing to take outside. We’re good.” Slapping Rich’s hand in a friendly way, he leads me away. But not before tossing a wink over his shoulder at Unibrow.
I shake my head but I’m chuckling. “You’re a dick. You know that?” When you’ve lived next to a guy for eighteen years, shared hockey pucks and bloody noses and secrets about rounding bases with girls in school, you can say that without repercussions.
Sasha’s the brother I never had.
His smug smile hasn’t faded. “I know. And we probably need to get the fuck out of here now because I just gave that asshole the gears. He’s gonna pummel me soon, no doubt. I’d hit me if I were him.”
“Sorry, man. We’re stuck here for a bit. I lost track of the beers.” This sucks. I really just want to get home. Maybe Rich knows of a sober girl here that Sash can hit up. Maybe—
“I’ll drive,” Sasha offers.
“Seriously? You good?” That would make things easier.
“Yeah. I’ve been chugging water for the past hour. I’ve got finals to worry about, too.”
My body sags with relief.
“Come on.” He jerks his head toward the door and holds his hand out. “Let’s go.”
“All right.” I slide the keys of my Suburban out of my jeans pocket. It’s actually my dad’s SUV. We swapped cars over spring break so I can haul back the essentials when I head home for the summer.
I toss them to Sasha.
He has to dive to catch them, taking a few quick steps to regain his balance as he stands upright. “Forgotten how to throw already?” he mutters with a grin.
¦ ¦ ¦
“Stay for summer classes!” Sasha drops the SUV into fourth gear as the quiet, dark road opens up into a long stretch toward Lansing and our apartment near the Michigan State campus. He’s still pissed that I’m going back to Rochester until July. When I told him, he didn’t talk to me for two days.
We’ve never had a choice but to stay in Lansing, what with the football summer training schedule. But then I tore my rotator cuff in the last bowl game and had to have surgery to repair it over spring break, so I’m out for the time being. Maybe for good.
Secretly, I’m happy to be going home for a while. I’m even happier that I won’t be pushing sleds uphill and running hundred-yard sprints every day at six a.m. As good as I am at the game—and I’m good, otherwise I would never have made a team like the Spartans in the first place—I never held any ambitions to go beyond college ball.
Still, Sasha and I have never been apart for more than a week.
“Nah . . . Madison would kill me if I changed my mind now.” I let my spinning head fall back against my headrest and close my eyes. I could pass out right here. Maybe I’ll get a half-decent night’s sleep tonight after all.
“She can come visit,” Sasha grumbles.
Derek’s loud bark of laughter erupts from the backseat. “You actually wanna listen to Cole givin’ it to your little sister in the room next to you?”
“Shut the fuck up, Maynard.” I crack an eye to see Sasha’s knuckles white against the steering wheel. It took Sasha the better part of a year to come to terms with me dating Madison. Four years later, he still gets uptight with any conversation that even hints at his sister getting laid.
“It’s just for a few months, bro. I’ll be back at the apartment before you know it,” I say, trying to ease Sasha’s ire.
“Well, I for one am happier than a pig in shit that you’ll be gone,” Derek announces. When I let the guys know, Derek immediately jumped on the chance to take my room. He lives with his parents in a small house just outside Lansing and, though his folks are nice, I don’t blame him for wanting some space.
I’ve known Derek for almost as long as I’ve known Sasha. Derek’s family lived with his grandparents three doors down from my parents for a few years while Derek’s dad struggled to keep a job in the failing IT industry. Apparently my mom went to welcome them—an apple pie in hand and me clinging to her leg—and Derek greeted us in a pink polka-dot dress. By choice. I don’t remember it, but Sasha and I sure as hell have teased him enough about it over the years. I’m kind of surprised he kept in touch with us after they moved to Lansing.
I chuckle. “Have at ’er. Just leave it clean.”
“Are you sure you want to agree to that, Cole?” Sasha chuckles. “You’ve seen what he picks up.”
“Hey now . . .” Derek’s warning tone only spurns Sasha on.
“What was the last one’s name? Tia? Ria?”
“Sia,” Sasha echoes. “That chick was—”
¦ ¦ ¦
Hi, my name is Tara. I’m a paramedic. Can you hear me? You were in an accident. We’re going to help you.
Hi, my name is Tara. I’m a paramedic. Can you hear me? You were in an accident. We’re going to help you.
“Hi, my name is Tara. I’m a—”
“What?” The single word scratches my throat. I open my eyes to the dark sky hanging over me, flashes of red and blue light pulsing rhythmically within my peripherals. Wailing sirens assault my ears, both distant and approaching.
So many sirens.
A woman leans over me. She locks eyes with me and speaks in a calm voice. “Hi, I’m Tara. I’m a paramedic. You were in an accident. Everything is going to be okay. Can you tell me your name?”
I pause, struggling to process her words. “Cole.” It hurts to swallow.
Someone else is crouched beside me. I try to turn my head to see who it is, to figure out what’s going on.
But I can’t turn my head.
“Just hold still, Cole,” Tara says as something tightens across my chin. It’s then that I notice the stiff brace wrapped around my neck.
“You were in a car accident, but don’t worry. We’re going to get you to a hospital real soon.” An ambulance’s ear-piercing wail abruptly cuts off behind me as brakes squeak.
“How bad is it?” Besides the pain in my neck, I can’t feel much of anything else.
“We just need to finish securing your neck as a precaution,” she explains, not answering my question, as the other person tightens a strap over my forehead.
I was in the car.
Who was I in the . . .
“Where are they?” My eyes strain, first to the left and then to the right, but I can’t see anything. “Where are my friends?”
“Everyone is being taken care of, Cole. Do you know what month it is?”
I have finals next week. Yes. I need to get back for finals. “April.”
“Good. Who is the president of our country, Cole?”
“And how old are you, Cole?”
She keeps using my name. Why does she keep doing that? “Twenty. Twenty-one in December.”
The other paramedic finishes working on the straps. Hands that I didn’t realize were holding my head in place disappear as Tara offers me a sad smile. “Do you remember where you were tonight?”
“A party. At Rich’s house.” I pause. “Where’s Derek? Sasha?”
“There are several paramedics on-site. Everyone is being taken care of.” She calls out to someone unseen, “Can we get him out of here?”
A gruff “yes” answers and suddenly I’m moving. Low voices and competing emergency lights surround me from all angles. I search with my eyes—the only part of my head that I can move besides my mouth—to catch a glimpse of something. Anything. But the straps pin me down tight.
“They’ll bring my friends to the same hospital, right?”
“They’ll get the best care possible,” Tara says, climbing into the back. Again, not really answering my question.
Just as the ambulance doors are closing, a voice crackles over a police radio nearby.
All I catch is “D.O.A.” before the locks click shut.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Most of you that have read TEN TINY BREATHS know what a doll Trent is. But you also know how messed up he was too. This is where we see him just before the accident and after; with him trying to recover from it. We see where his obsession with Kacey started and how he set out to make everything right again. We see Cole become Trent. We see Trent walk away from it all for one girl. I guess I wasn't expecting this to be so emotional. I think I had it in my head that it would be a rather light read. Why? No idea. I should have known that Tucker was gonna sock it to us and dive deep into Trent's depths. And man did she do an amazing job. I was blown away by this little read and all that Trent went through before Kacey. Yes, I absolutely loved this book and hope that you will pick it up and give it a go too. If you loved TEN TINY BREATHS, I can guarantee you are going to want to see what Trent has to say in this one. You are going to want to see how it all started and how it all fell apart for him...before his secret was even blown to Kacey. 5 Powerful Stars!
This book was so tragic and hard to read at times because of the emotions it brought out. I could not put it down but at the same time ached through the whole thing. You MUST MUST MUST read this. It was very well written. I want to go back and read the first one in the series now.
This is the prequel to the Ten Tiny Breaths series. However, it is recommended that you read this after (at least) the first book. You can see my reviews for the books in the series on my blog. While we know what happened to Kacey before Ten Tiny Breaths, we don't know the entire story of what happened with Trent... until now. In Her Wake tells the heartbreaking story of how one simple mistake can change so many lives. That being said, I was surprised at how many encounters Trent and Kacey had with one another after the accident and before the first book in the series. I think it's safe to say that Trent's grief and desire to make amends with Kacey lead him down a stalkerish path. I was also surprised that Kacey seemed completely oblivious to all of these "chance" meetings with Trent. I suppose that it's easy to explain them away as she was in a period of deep grief. I guess I just wasn't aware of how crafted their meeting in Ten Tiny Breaths actually was. As always, I absolutely loved Tucker's writing. In Her Wake was the perfect ending to Trent and Kacey's story. You can read all of my reviews on my blog, KDH Reviews.
Trent's story before Ten Tiny Breaths...
This was such a difficult novella to read. Having read Kacey's heartbreaking story in Ten Tiny Breaths, I knew that this wouldn't be an easy, light-hearted book. I fell in love with Trent instantaneously in Ten Tiny Breaths. Some people called him a stalker and it really infuriated me because that's not what it was about. We especially see that in this book. Instead, we have a very broken man who does not feel he can move forward with his life after a tragic accident took the lives of his best friends as well as a car full of innocent lives just going to get pizza. He feels survivors guilt and is constantly wondering about the young girl who lay battered and broken in a hospital bed. He feels the enormous weight of responsibility, as he was the one who was supposed to be the DD for the night. It is his father's car that does the damage and he has to live with that for every day of the rest of his life. My heart ached for him. He doesn't know how to cope and ends up withdrawing from the world and the people he loves most in it. He sees his parent's marriage falling apart in front of him as the weight of grief for their son, as well as their financial stability get to be too much to handle. Watching him spiral into darkness was incredibly difficult to read and while people think his obsessive behavior towards making sure Kacey is okay is stalkerish, it's not meant to be. He doesn't know how to deal. He can't leave this girl alone. He is desperate to make amends. He doesn't want her to spiral into her own darkness that she can't crawl up from. Sure, he doesn't necessarily go about all of this in the sanest of ways, but he is driven. He literally feels like he has nothing left and he wants nothing more than to earn forgiveness, as well as see this beautiful girl smile like she used to in old Facebook pictures. He wants to protect her from the darkness and from herself. If appointing himself as her own personal guardian is what he needs to do in order to make sure she doesn't do something that she will regret for eternity, then I say more power to him. Upon her release from the hospital, Kacey is a mess. She drinks, does drugs, and drowns herself in a world where she no longer has to feel. Her younger sister is depending on her and needs her older sister to be there for her. I loved getting Trent's story, as heartbreaking and difficult as it was to read. However, I just love him even more after reading it and I'm so glad K.A. felt strongly enough for him to write his novella
In her wake is a novella that completes the Ten Tiny Breaths novel. We get Trent/Cole’s story. We learn about him before the terrible tragedy, how he coped, how he came to meet Kacey. I knew going in that this story was not going to be easy. With the way Ten Tiny Breaths affected me, I was sure this was going to be even more heartbreaking. K.A. Tucker really knows how to evoke emotions from her readers. Watching Trent downward spiral was haunting. I don’t want to say too much that may spoil Ten Tiny Breaths for others. Although this novella takes place before TTB, it’s best read after. It was a fantastic read and I will forever be touched by both these stories.
IN HER WAKE was an emotional addition to the Ten Tiny Breaths series. I am so thankful that Tucker decided to give us this little glimpse into Trent's past. It was absolutely fascinating to see what he went through and to experience the guilt that he heaped upon himself. When I read TEN TINY BREATHS, I remember being pissed off at Trent when I found out how profoundly he had altered Kacey's world. I kept thinking that there was really no way she could or even should forgive him. IN HER WAKE totally obliterated those feelings. It gave me a whole new perspective. I could feel the hope that Trent was clinging to and it made his actions in TEN TINY BREATHS seems much more real and logical to me. Even though it is a short novella, IN HER WAKE packs a powerful punch of emotions. I recommend it to anyone who has read TEN TINY BREATHS. And for those of you that haven't read TTB yet, I suggest you get started on reading it immediately.
Days after finishing it, I’m still in absolute awe over In Her Wake. I knew Trent’s story would be painful, but I really didn’t expect it to be as hard to read as it was at times. I love Trent. I have since he first appeared in Ten Tiny Breaths as Kacey’s sexy neighbor and I stuck with him after the upsetting revelations during the book. My heart ached for him, nearly literally, as I read this book. If you’ve read Ten Tiny Breaths, you know the basics of the story. (If you’ve not read Ten Tiny Breaths, stop reading this review immediately. Pick up a copy of Ten Tiny Breaths instead.) Kacey loses her best friend, boyfriend and parents in a tragic car accident caused by a drunk driver. Trent (real name Cole) wasn’t driving, but he was in the other car. His two best friends died that night, too. One mistake responsible for the lives of six people – and irreparable damage to at least another two lives. It was tragic and heartbreaking. It broke Kacey. After reading TTB, we knew she hasn’t been the same since. We never knew just what all Trent went through, however. Trent’s story tore me apart. (Seriously, I’m getting teary-eyed just thinking about it as I write this review.) The guilt he felt. The pain. The loss. It gutted me. This was no easy read, trust me. It was a quick one, but it was rather dark at times. Trent’s head wasn’t an easy place to be in, but I never even once thought of setting this book down. The Trent we met in TTB is so far from this Trent that it’s difficult to believe they’re the same person. Old Trent was a little creepy in his determination to make things right with Kacey. Do I blame him? No, not really. He lost nearly as much as she did that night. I can’t really fault him for trying to make things right. Or, as right as they can possibly be. The only thing that disappointed me about this book, being perfectly honest, is that I didn’t get any more of Kacey and Trent together. Had this book delved into their meeting, but from Trent’s POV, I would have loved it that much more. But, I guess we already know Kacey and Trent’s story. In Her Wake wasn’t meant to retell it. It was meant to give us insight into what led Cole to become Trent and seek out Kacey. It was his story and his pain. It wasn’t pretty, but it was real and unflinchingly honest. It was full of angst, but also hopeful in the end. In Her Wake was a great addition to the Ten Tiny Breaths series. When you go into this one, be prepared to feel all the feels – good, bad and everything in between. This series was incredible from start to finish. I can’t believe it’s really over now. *sad sigh* I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Emotional. Heartbreaking. Raw. In Her Wake was much more of a rocky ride than I was expecting. Yes, I knew Trent’s story would be sad and emotional, but man, I wasn’t expecting to sob like a child while reading a majority of this book. Yes, it was seriously THAT sad. Though In Her Wake is technically #0.5 in the Ten Tiny Breaths series, I would strongly recommend reading Ten Tiny Breaths first. This story does take place prior to the time period of Ten Tiny Breaths, but it’s much more appreciated and further understood if you read TTB first. This story is told through Trent’s point of view. The source of all the feels, you ask? Well, hearing what Trent went through, why he made the decisions he did, and the impact it had on him tore my heart in two. I liked him in TTB, so seeing the horrificness he experienced prior to then really stole my heart. Since this is a novella and on the shorter side, I’ll keep this review on the shorter side as well. I’ll just leave you with this: This entire series is absolutely amazing. It remains at the top of the charts for my list of favorite series. Though I constantly say I’m not a series girl, and I hardly ever read them, this is one series that I didn’t want to see end. Though I wouldn’t suggest starting with this book, I think it’s definitely worth reading AFTER reading Ten Tiny Breaths. I’m confident in saying you won’t be disappointed.
4.5 Stars In her wake is a prequel novel for book one in the Ten Tiny Breaths series, but should be read after reading Ten Tiny Breaths to really appreciate the full impact of what you are reading. The book is Trent's story, revolving around the events that occurred prior to the beginning of Ten Tiny Breaths, and it gives you so much more insight and appreciation for him and his character. By the end of Ten Tiny Breaths you understand and appreciate where Trent was coming from, but In Her Wake gives you a level of depth and insight that makes you really connect with him and understand him, his story, and his and Kacey's relationship on a much greater level. It is a novella, so it's not very long, but it is beautifully written and I thoroughly enjoyed each and every moment while reading it. It really adds a level of completion to the story that started it all and I most definitely recommend reading it.
I fell in love with Kacey and Livie in Ten Tiny Breaths. I watched Kacey come back into the world of the living and I watched Trent play a crucial role in her transformation. When Trent's truth was revealed, I was heartbroken, both for Kacey and Trent. The magnitude of pain they and I were feeling seemed to be too much to overcome, but I was wrong. With In Her Wake, K.A. Tucker has given us a look through Trent's eyes into all that happened. You'd think having read the book that follows this novella would have prepared me for the devastation I knew was coming, but I was wrong. All I could do was experience it all over again through Trent's eyes. Seeing his transformation from Cole to Trent was difficult, but I understood why he had to do it. Just as I understood why he did the things he did. Life on its own is not easy, but having to live with our choices and the mistakes we make is even harder. This wasn't a story with much laughter. It was fraught with tension, sorrow, grief, and helplessness, emotions we all experience. I broke down and cried in more than one scene, just because experiencing this story hurt. Then again, I felt as if Cole's losses and Kacey's losses were my own and therefore, their pain was my own too. In Her Wake is fitting way to end this series, although I do hope it's not for good. I'm always open to cameos, just so I know some of my favorite characters are doing well. K.A. Tucker has done a phenomenal job with this story and series. It's soul stirring, emotional, and very hard to put down and let go of.