This week, I published the 14th book in my Firsts and Forever Series. It’s called All I Ever Wanted, and it’s River and Cole’s story. This is the first time I’ve written a second chance romance, and I loved getting to bring these two into the spotlight! They’ve been a part of the series since the beginning, but always just as background characters. Now we’re finally getting to know them as we follow their journey to happily ever after.
River and Cole were a couple earlier in the series, but then they had a painful break-up, including a very public argument in front of all their friends. I’ve had a couple readers message me to say, “I don’t remember the big fight that’s referred to in the new book. When did that happen?” So, I thought it’d be a good idea to take a look at that in this week’s Throwback Thursday blog post.
River and Cole broke up in The Distance, #11 in the Firsts and Forever series (Jessie’s book). Their relationship had already begun to unravel, and Cole had been sleeping on a friend’s couch before he and River had a big, public blow-up during a masquerade ball and art exhibit. But that fight actually happened off-page, which is why some readers might feel like they’re having a hard time recalling it.
Not going into the details of that fight was a deliberate decision. I chose to go that route because I believe it doesn’t matter what was said. River and Cole were both hurt, and they said things out of anger. I think many of us have said things in the heat of the moment that we didn’t mean and later regretted. That was the case with this fight, so it didn't feel right to focus on the gory details.
We did see the aftermath of that painful argument in The Distance, and the following scene is part of that. This is told from Jessie’s perspective. It’s the night of a big masquerade ball fundraiser, which also includes an exhibition of Skye’s artwork. It takes place at a warehouse on San Francisco’s Embarcadero. Skye and River are brothers, and all their friends are at this event:
When we returned to the Embarcadero, I hopped out of the limo full of energy and optimism, but then I murmured, “Oh no.”
“What’s wrong?” Kai asked, coming around to my side of the vehicle.
“That looks like my friend Cole over in the far corner of the parking lot. By the way his shoulders are shaking, I think he’s crying. That means I messed up.”
“I gave him a ticket to the masquerade ball, knowing his boyfriend River would be here. I was hoping they’d reconcile, but it doesn’t look like things went according to plan.” I locked the limo door as I said, “I’m oh-for-two. I tried to fix up Zachary and Six tonight too, and that also backfired. I suck as a matchmaker.”
“It’s sweet that you tried, though.”
“I’ll meet you inside in a minute, okay? I’m going to go see if he’s alright.” Kai kissed my forehead before heading to the warehouse.
Cole’s back was to me, and he wasn’t just crying, he was sobbing. “Hey,” I said softly as I walked up to him. He jumped a bit at the sound of my voice and spun around, then quickly wiped his face with the sleeve of his black dress shirt. “I guess it didn’t go well. I’m so sorry for setting this up.”
He took a couple shaky breaths as he pulled off his glasses and ran a hand over his swollen eyes. His voice was raspy when he said, “Don’t apologize. I knew he’d be here since his brother’s sculptures are in the show, and I came anyway. I guess I needed to know if it really was over, and I sure as hell have my answer now.”
“Did you talk to him?”
“I tried, and it just turned into a huge fight. I’m so embarrassed. The last thing I wanted was to start screaming at him in front of a crowd. But see, that’s why we never brought up anything serious the whole time we were together, because we both knew it’d turn into a yelling match.”
He took a couple more ragged, deep breaths, and I said, “Why don’t you come back to the warehouse and get a drink of water?”
But he shook his head. “River’s still inside with his brother and a lot of their friends. I’m just going to go home to Miranda’s apartment. Shit. I really need to find my own place.”
Jamie and Dmitri came up to us just then, and Jamie asked, “Are you alright, Cole?”
“Oh great, so that also happened in front of my employers.” Cole put a hand over his face. “I didn’t know you guys were in there.”
“Hey, shit happens,” Jamie said. “You have no reason to be embarrassed.”
“I really do,” Cole muttered.
“We’re heading home because my sister’s babysitting and can’t stay late,” Dmitri said. “Why don’t you come with us and crash at our apartment tonight? I’ll drive your car for you if you want, since you seem pretty shaken up.”
“You don’t have to take care of me,” Cole mumbled as his hands dropped to his sides.
“You’re our friend, Cole, and we want to help. Come with us,” Jamie said. “As an added incentive, the bar is right downstairs. That might be a really good thing tonight.” Cole had to agree. He put his glasses back on and gave Dmitri his keys.
In the new book, Cole and River have spent the last year apart, and that fight is part of the reason they’ve been afraid to talk to each other, let alone try to reconcile. They’re both hurt, and they’re also ashamed it got so ugly. But even though they both messed up, they’ve never stopped loving each other. In All I Ever Wanted, they’re fighting their way back.