Cleave is the third book in the Cutting Cords Series. It follows right after Vessel (wherein the big break-up occurred) and Cole's father has just died. Now we deal with the aftermath of his machinations.
Here's a preview.
We headed toward the cluster of people near the open casket. I averted my eyes because I had no desire to look at Ken in death. I was still angry at him for manipulating Cole and destroying our relationship. Now it was too late to call him a conniving son of a bitch, and I refused to give him more than a passing glance. I was here for only one reason. Cole was facing his dad but turned toward me the instant he felt my presence.
“I’m here,” I said, reaching for his hand. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Cole’s stoic façade fell apart as soon as he heard my voice. He could barely croak out the words of acknowledgment. It broke my heart to see him in such pain, and every protective instinct was immediately resurrected. I enfolded him in my arms and held him tightly against my chest.
“There’s a small room over there,” my dad said, motioning toward a door marked Private. “Why don’t you guys see if it’s unoccupied?”
I held Cole’s hand and gave Freddie, his guide dog, the signal to stay. Fortunately, Freddie still recognized me and obeyed. We headed toward the room, and when we stepped into the privacy of the small office, Cole broke down completely. I knew how strong the bond was between him and his father, and there was nothing I could say to make this any easier. All I could do was support him and let him grieve. My tears fell in sympathy as I listened to him sob. Finally, he broke away and apologized for falling apart. I noticed a few new streaks of silver weaving through his dark hair and a frown line that hadn’t been there before. He was only thirty-four, but today, he looked closer to forty.
“I’m sorry,” Cole mumbled, wiping tears away with the back of his hand. The gesture was so childlike it resonated, tugging on my inherent need to protect him. I drew him back into my arms and held the trembling body that felt much thinner than I remembered. Everything about Cole seemed different today except for my feelings, which arose like a phoenix.
“You’ll be okay,” I said, whispering words of encouragement.
“I didn’t want you to see me like this,” Cole said, sniffling against my shirt, “but I’ve missed you so much. You have no idea.”
DSP Link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/cleave-by-