One Breath After Another (The After Another Trilogy, #2) by Bethany-Kris



by Bethany-Kris
Cover Credits: London Miller
The After Another Trilogy, book #2
Publication Date: October 5, 2020
Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Crime Thriller, Organized Crime


They say you can’t go back but …

Penny Dunsworth was broken.

Before she became the white ghost, she was already unrecognizable. A troubled teenage girl with monsters that couldn’t be slain, and an irrational crush on the only man she considered a friend. Her one crime was daring to think she might finally be free.

Luca Puzza was only trying to figure things out.

His days are balanced between his duty and worth. He can’t seem to make it all work, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. Somethings are just more important—like the girl with the haunted eyes who seems to trust him. He only ever wanted to help.

The past never stays where it belongs—why would it?

It’s the only thing left to warn about the future.


NOTE: One Breath After Another is book 2 in the After Another trilogy. It follows the same couple – Luca and Penny – from present to past, and back again. The books must be read in order. Be warned, the trilogy discusses a subject that may be triggering.


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He found Penny in the entry hall sitting on the stairs. With her back to the white railing, she wasn’t even pretending to be busy while she picked at her fingernails and avoided his stare as he leaned against the wall. That was fine—he didn’t mind that she wanted to ignore him. It wouldn’t stop him from saying what he was there to say.

“They care, you know?” Luca shrugged when Penny dared to glance upward at him. “That’s why my mom tries to start a conversation with you or why my dad forces himself to talk even though he’s not the type. They’ve already let you in—in the family sense. You wouldn’t be here otherwise. But now they’re trying to get you in, too.”

Penny didn’t reply.

Luca continued, anyway. “I think you’ve been around long enough now to know that we’re not the type of people who allow outsiders in. We just … can’t afford to, Penny. But they do with you because again, they care.”

“Well, they shouldn’t.”

Finally, a response.

Not that it was one he liked.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

“I’m not worth that,” Penny muttered after a moment. “I’m not worth very much at all.”


Luca knew that feeling all too well. He was still trying to deal with it, but that didn’t change the fact that feeling worthless wasn’t the same as actually being worthless to the people who loved him. Maybe that was the biggest difference between him and Penny. His self-doubt was created in his own mind while hers had been taught. He didn’t think they could unlearn it in the same ways, either.

“Not that you need me to say it, because I’m sure everybody else points it out more than enough,” Luca said, folding his arms over his chest while he eyed the family portrait hanging opposite to the stairwell, “but you know that isn’t true.”

“Feels like it.”

“Rough week?”

Penny scoffed.


“Rough life,” she mumbled.

Yeah, he bet.

Penny went back to fidgeting with her fingernails and then the sleeves of her sweater. She made a great effort to keep every inch of her skin covered, but she tugged at the wrist band of the sleeve just enough for him to notice the patchwork of scars that started there and seemed to keep going beneath the gray fabric where he couldn’t see.

Luca should look away.

He didn’t.

Naz mentioned she was a cutter but hadn’t gone into details. The respect of the matter, really, and Luca understood. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder how far those scars went … how many did she have? Had she stopped cutting yet?

Eventually, she noticed his staring.

“Stop it,” Penny told him.

Luca raised a brow. “Why? I’m just looking.”

Penny quickly fixed the sleeve of her sweater, hiding the scars in a flash. “Don’t pity me.”

“I don’t.” Then just as fast, he corrected himself with, “I don’t anymore. I did at first. And it’s not that I think you don’t deserve my pity, but more that I don’t think you want it. Why pity someone who doesn’t want it when that won’t help, right?”

She met his stare.

Luca only smiled back.

What else could he do?

What could any of them do for her other than smile and keep saying shit would get better? It was easier said than done, but it also wasn’t a lie.

“And stop that, too,” she whispered.

Luca arched a brow. “What?”

“The staring.”


“You don’t look at me the same way everyone else does. Like they’re scared of me—or the idea of me. I like that.”

Luca blinked, unsure of what she was saying. “You like that people are scared of you or that I don’t see you the same way they do?”

Penny stood up from the stairs quick enough that he had to move when she passed him at the bottom of the stairs. It wasn’t fast enough that he hadn’t been able to see the pink tint coloring her cheeks even though she wouldn’t meet his gaze on the way by.

He still managed to hear her say, “You. I like you. And I don’t know what to do about that.”

Then, she was gone around the corner.

Luca was left confused.

He heard what she said.

Perfectly clear.

And he could still see the blush staining her cheeks even though she was long gone from his presence.


I like you.

Did she mean …

It didn’t matter.

Luca couldn’t entertain that thought.

He wouldn’t.


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One Breath After Another by Bethany-Kris
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, listen, I’m the worst blogger/reviewer ever because I honestly do not want to review this book. Not even today, 5 days after release, but I must because you deserve something, it’s just *sigh* I want to burn the world down for this chic. There’s a moment in this past part of the trilogy that shook me to my core. I cried for a very long time. I’m not going to tell you what but I’ll tell you it was at 79% and right now, right this minute, it is the only thing on a loop in my head. So yeah, I’ll repeat what I said in the first book … these types of trilogies are impossible to review sometimes and when the story sucks your soul out then it’s just a nightmare. But this is the past and we already know the present so I know there’s hope.

I don’t want to scare anyone into not reading this story because it is beautifully written and so far, the vile dark aspect of Penny’s journey is not actually on the page, yet. This part of the trilogy gave us the foundation of the overall story arc. Imagine, if you will, the building of a house. First you have the plans or schematics, then the foundation/structure is built, then the inside is finished and decorated. That’s the crude basics. Those crude basics are exactly the way this story is being told, imo that is. No two people read the same book as they say, so your experience with this story may be completely different but facts are facts. The real story of Penny is now going to begin. We now know the bones of the why, some of the who, enough of the what as far as I’m concerned but there is a lot more coming I am sure, and we know there is hope and trust and triumph and love in the future. I know it. I feel it. And I cannot wait to read about it!

Sidebar: Baby Crossgaaaaaaaaaawd 🙂 ILY

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Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.

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