A White Picket Fence — Deleted Scenes

Lina finding out about Steamboat in the original version of WPF — this was deleted and changed in the final…

“Logan should be home any minute,” Lina told Phil when he came down freshly showered and in his dark lounge pants and a T-shirt 30 minutes later.  She was on the family room couch watching an evening news program while she sipped from her second glass of wine.

“Let’s go outside,” he said turning towards the door that led out to the deck.  “I’ll start a fire.”

“Do you want a drink?”

“Scotch.”

A few minutes later Lina stepped out on the deck and handed him his drink before sitting kitty corner to him in a cushioned chair, her bare feet pulled up beneath her.  “Am I going to get upset?”

“Probably,” he answered.  He brought his glass to his lips and took a swallow before setting the glass on the small table between their chairs.  “But she is holding it over my head, so,” he shrugged, “I don’t trust she won’t tell you.”

“What is it?”  

“Lina, I’m sorry for–.”

“Just tell me Phil,” she interrupted.  “I don’t care that you’re sorry.  I just want the drama to end, so tell me everything she is threatening to tell me.”

He was silent for at least half a minute before he began to speak.  “Do you remember when I had the conference in Colorado? When I flew into Hayden because of weather?” 

Lina’s eyes flew to his. “Yes.” Her heart had begun thumping harder in her chest.

“I wasn’t alone.”

“You took her to our home?”

“Nothing happened. I swear to you­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­—”

“You let her in my house,” Lina cried as she came to her feet. “How could you?”

“It was a mistake.” He stood up. “She slept in Megan’s room. I didn’t touch her. I swear on the kid’s lives that­—”

Lina slapped him hard across the face. “Sell it.” She stepped around him and went into the house, her hand stinging.

 “Hey Mom.” Logan came through the front door just as she entered the foyer.

“Logan,” She tried to smile.

“What’s wrong?” he asked his brows pulled together in a frown.  “Did something happen?”

“No.”  She shook her head, but she couldn’t stop the tears that began to fall from her eyes.  “I’m sorry,” she whispered.  “It’s fine.” She gripped his hand, hating the concern she saw on his face.  “I just had a fight with Dad.”

“About what?  Katie?”

“No – just adult stuff.  I’m fine.”  She squeezed his hand.  “I just need to be alone for a little while, okay?”

“Why are you crying?”

“It’s fine. I’m just a little sad.” Before she could walk away, he wrapped his arms around her.

“Oh Logan,” she whispered, taking comfort in her fourteen-year-old son’s embrace. “I love you.” She brushed her lips over his cheek.

 “Do you feel better?”

Lina felt an ache in her heart at the concern she saw in his eyes.  He wasn’t used to seeing his mother upset and she could see it was deeply affecting him.  “Yes.” She wiped at the tears that wouldn’t stop falling

“I’ve never seen you cry before,” he said, his own eyes looking clouded.

“I cry sometimes,” she touched the side of his cheek, “I just usually make it to my room first.”

“What did Dad do?”

Lina shook her head.  “Don’t worry about it sweetie.  We just had a fight – it’s not a big deal.”

He nodded, but his eyes were full of doubt.  “Where is he?”

“On the deck – I’m going to go take a shower, okay?”

“Okay.”

She gave him another hug.  “You are going to make some girl very lucky one day.”

She took a long shower as her mind played and replayed the events of the evening.  The one sided phone calls she overheard, the confession on the deck, all of it brought her to the realization that he wasn’t completely honest when he first told her about Kim.  It wasn’t just a “fuck” as he so eloquently put it.  No, he had a full blown affair with the woman.  He’d spent time with her outside of a bedroom.  And the entire time Lina was home taking care of their children, worrying about Katie and assuming her husband was off on a business trip. And what about this other woman?  Why would she want to continue to hurt her after having an affair with her husband?  Hadn’t she done enough damage? 

She heard the door to the bathroom open and Phil entered.  She turned her face into the spray of the shower, not wanting to look at him.   

“I need you to look at my face,” he said deeply.  “Lina?”

She turned then and saw that the left side of his face was covered in blood.  All thoughts of Kim and the affair fled from her mind as she quickly turned off the water and stepped out of the shower, absently grabbing a towel.  “What happened?” She wiped at the water on her face and hair as she stopped before him, her eyes moving to the inch long gash beneath his eyes.

“Your ring must have cut me.”  The ring he had given her for their 25 year anniversary had sliced open his face.

“Oh my God.” She dabbed at the pool of blood, trying to get a better look at the cut, completely unconscious to the fact she was naked.  “You need stitches.”

“You can’t give me a butterfly bandage or something?”

“No,” she shook her head, her eyes continuing to peer at the cut.  “It’s too long.  We’ll have to request a plastic surgeon.  I don’t want an emergency room doctor stitching your face.”  She moved to the sink and wet a wash cloth.  “Hold this against it,” she said moments later.  “I’ll drive you.”  She turned and walked out of the bathroom.

“Lina?” he followed her out into the bedroom.  “I can take myself.”

“No,” she said simply as she rummaged through her drawer for clothes.

It was after 2 am when Lina preceded Phil into the darkened house.  The plastic surgeon managed to glue his face and no stitches were required.  “I’ll make sure everything is locked up,” he said sliding his hand over her back.

“Okay,” Lina nodded.  She ascended the stairs and checked on each of the children and found them all asleep.  As she looked at Katie’s sleeping form she realized she never got a chance to discuss how the appointment went with Dr. Drayton.  God was that just today?  It felt like a week ago.

She was just climbing into bed when Phil came into the room, quietly pulling the door closed.  He had a bandage below his left eye and she felt disgusted with herself for actually resorting to physical violence.  “I’m sorry I hit you,” she said for the first time.

“I deserved it.”  He pulled his t-shirt carefully over his head, revealing his muscled chest and torso, before crossing into the bathroom.

When he emerged several minute later, he was naked and Lina rolled away from him and over onto her side.  Moments later she felt the mattress give as he lowered himself down beside her.  “How bad is this?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” she answered honestly, her back to him. 

“If it would help you can hit me again.”

“That isn’t funny.”   

“I wasn’t trying to be.” He ran his hand over her bare shoulder and down her arm. 

She closed her eyes, hating the reaction her traitorous body had to his touch.  How easy it would be to let him make her forget everything she learned this evening.  “It’s late,” she said instead.  “I want to go to sleep.”

When she awoke the following morning the events of the previous evening came flooding back and her gaze moved to Phil who was sound asleep beside her.  One of his arms was curled above his head and the other was lying across his stomach, his head tilted slightly towards her and his lips slightly parted.  It had only been 24 hours since he last shaved, but he was already heavily shadowed.  He was beautiful she thought as her eyes left his face and traveled down his bare chest and stomach, a beautiful stranger.  The Phil she knew would never have taken another woman to their family vacation home.  They had spent several Christmases there.  Their children learned to ski while they were vacationing in that house.  What could he have been thinking?  It was inconceivable to her that he would take another woman there and yet that is exactly what he had done.  He soiled all of the beautiful memories they had in that house.

Her eyes moved to the bandage beneath his eye.  She struck him with her hand.  She hadn’t known she was capable of physical violence.  Last night she regretted it.  Today she wanted to hit him again.  He told Logan the same thing he told the hospital staff, which was he was picking something up from beneath the table and caught his cheek on a sharp edge on the way back up.  They seemed to believe him which wasn’t a huge surprise. Why would they assume she had hit him?

            Until a couple of weeks ago, she would swear she knew him as well as she knew herself.  How could he do this to them?  He was supposed to put her before everyone else, not hurt her.  She thought of how cold he had been to Kim during the phone calls and felt a smidgen of satisfaction at the pain he inflicted on the other woman.  She deserved everything she was getting.  The only person that seemed to be unscathed in all of this was Phil.  He was sleeping soundly in bed with his wife while she dealt with the painful truth of his infidelity and his pregnant ex-mistress pined away for him. 

As if feeling her stare, he opened his eyes.  “Hey,” he said deeply, stretching his arms up over his head.  “How long have you been up?”

“Long enough to remember why I hit you last night.”

He slowly breathed in and out. “I told you last night, you could do it again.”

“You know,” she began propping herself on her elbow as she met his eyes.  “I really hate you right now.”

She saw a flash of pain cross his face before he concealed it.  “No you don’t.”

“Yes,” she nodded, “I really do.  You brought her into our home, Phil.”  She brought her eyebrows together, “What were you thinking?”

“I wasn’t,” he answered.   

“I’m having a very hard time wrapping my head around it.  I just,” she shook her head “I can’t believe you would do that to me.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, his eyes continuing to meet hers. 

“It’s not enough.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to not have done it.”

“Baby, I–.”

“Don’t,” she held up her hand when he began to reach out towards her.  “Don’t call me that and don’t touch me.”  She turned her back to him and then moved off the bed.  “I can’t stand the sight of you, right now.”  She crossed the room and went into the bathroom, pulling the door firmly closed behind her.

Less than a minute passed before she was back out in the room.  “Just tell me one thing,” she said approaching the bed.  Phillip who was lying on his back, turned his head meeting her eyes.  “Did I ever come into your mind? Did you consider how it would make me feel?”

“I don’t know what you want me to say.”

“You know you ruined it for me,” she said her hands on her hips as hurt eyes met his.  “That was one of my favorite places.  I imagined our grandchildren coming there and now because of your selfishness, I can never go back.”  She started to walk away and then she turned back.  “It’s never going to be the same, you know – I’m never going to think of you the same again. “

When Lina came out of the bathroom 30 minutes later, Phillip was gone and when she made it down to the kitchen a short time later Logan informed her he had gone out for a run.  “He said to tell you he’d be back in an hour.”

She nodded, but made no other comment as she poured herself a cup of coffee.  “Don’t you have that lacrosse thing today?”  He had been invited to try out for an All Star team that chose the best high school aged players in the state.

“Yeah, it’s at 2pm in Bethesda.”  He was seated at the table by himself eating eggs and toast.  Of her three children, he was the only one who would cook for himself. 

“Do you want more to eat?” She asked as she sat down across from him.  “I could make pancakes.”

“No,” he shook his head.  “I’m good.”  He took a bite of toast and then a swallow of milk, his eyes on his mother. 

“Is something wrong?”

“No,” he shook his head, “I just,” he hesitated for a moment and then continued, “Do you think you could take me instead of Dad?”

“To the tryout?”

“Yeah – I just – I don’t want him watching.  It’ll make me nervous.”

“Sure,” she nodded.  “I’ll take you.”  She took a swallow of coffee. 

“Do you think he’ll be upset?”

“No,” Lina answered, wanting Logan to relax and not worry about Phil’s reaction.  “I’ll talk to him.  It’ll be fine.”

“He wasn’t in a good mood when he came down,” Logan told her.  “He wouldn’t let Megan run with him.”

“Why?  What did he say?”  She couldn’t recall him ever not letting Megan join him.

“He said he needed to run fast and she would mess up his pace.”  He pushed some eggs onto his fork with his thumb and then brought his thumb to his mouth, sucking off the remnants of food.

“Don’t do that,” Lina said automatically. 

“Sorry.”

“Where is Megan?”

“She went running on her own.  Are you still fighting with him?  Is that why he was in a bad mood?”

“His face probably hurts,” Lina answered, avoiding a direct answer.  “So,” she glanced down at her watch, “It’s 10:15, we need to leave at what, one?”

“Dad said it would take an hour to get there, so probably 12:30 – just in case of traffic and I don’t know exactly where the field is.”

“Okay, make sure you hydrate.  It supposed to get warm today.”

“What were you and Dad fighting about last night?”

She sighed, her eyes dropping to her coffee mug before lifting back to his.  “Nothing you should concern yourself with.”

“I’ve never seen you like that,” he said lightly.  “You guys aren’t getting a divorce or something are you?”

“No,” Lina said quickly, shaking her head.  “Of course not, why would you say that?”

He shrugged.  “I don’t know it just seems like that’s what everybody’s parents are doing.”

“Well we’re not everybody.”

            Lina was in the front yard watering some potted plants when Phil returned from his run, his hands on his hips, his body covered in sweat as he walked towards her from the driveway.  She wondered if it was okay for his repaired skin to be covered in salty sweat, but she decided not to ask.  “I’m taking Logan to his tryout,” she told him, not looking directly at him as she continued to water.

            “What?” he frowned as he stopped several feet away from her.

            “He asked me to.” 

            “Why?” He lifted the bottom of his shirt, baring his flat stomach, and wiped at the sweat on his face.

            She turned off the nozzle to the hose and turned to him.  “He said you make him nervous.  Please don’t say anything to him,” she said when she saw his frown.  “He is worried you’re going to be mad.”

            “I am mad,” he said, his hands back on his hips as he breathed in and out deeply, his body not yet recovered from the run.  “I know more about lacrosse than the people judging him today.  Why wouldn’t he want me there?”

            “Because he’s already nervous and he doesn’t want to worry about what you’re thinking, too.  He’s going to be fine.”

            He shook his head.  “This is bullshit.”

            “Phil, just let it go.  He is already wound up about this tryout – the last thing he needs is to feel like he’s disappointing you.”

            “Fine,” he sighed. “Since I suddenly have a free afternoon, I’m going for a long ride on the bike.”

            “What about your face?” Lina couldn’t stop herself from asking.  “Is it okay for the bandage to get wet?”

            “I don’t give a fuck,” he said shortly before turning and walking away.

Original version of Lina and Phil attending wedding of an associate…

Their flight to Portland was scheduled to depart from Baltimore Washington International Airport at 4 pm, so instead of having Phil back track home to pick her up Lina had Megan drop her at the airport.  Phil arrived a few minutes earlier than they did and had the back of Megan’s SUV open as soon as she stopped at the curb.  

            “She’s here,” Phil said as soon as Megan pulled away.

            “Here as in – at the airport?”  They were standing on the sidewalk in front of the terminal, their luggage beside them.

            “Yes and on our flight.  Several people from the office are and she is one of them.”

            Lina saw the concern in his eyes.  “It’s fine.  It was only a matter of time.  I’m fine,” she continued when he continued to look at her.  “Really, I’m fine.”

            “I love you.” He said leaning towards her and briefly meeting her lips.  “And I upgraded us to first class.”  He picked up their bags and she preceded him into the airport.

            “How many people from your office are on our flight?” Lina asked after they came through security.  They were walking towards the gate and he had a firm grip on her hand.  As the distance between them and the gate evaporated she felt a knot of apprehension forming in her stomach.

            “Five, six, maybe more.”  He met her eyes.  “Are you okay?”

She nodded. “But a drink might help.  Is there time for us to stop?” She inclined her head towards the bar.

He glanced at his watch.  “Sure.”

Moments later Lina was sitting at a small table watching Phil who was standing at the bar ordering drinks.  He was wearing a dark suit, his hair freshly trimmed and he was smiling at something the bartender said to him.  She was flirting with him, Lina was sure, women were always flirting with him and it no longer fazed her after 25 years.  And it really wasn’t his fault.  Lina had witnessed it enough times to know that Phil did nothing to encourage the attention he constantly received from the opposite sex.

“There’s a 30 minute delay.”  Lina heard a man tell Phil as he moved up beside him at the bar.  He was followed by two more men and two women, all of whom Lina did not recognize. “She’s right here,” she heard Phil say and she reluctantly pulled her attention away from her perusal of the other woman when she realized he was speaking about her.  “Lina,” all eyes turned in her direction as Phil held out his hand.  “There are some people I want you to meet.”

Lina rose from her chair taking the hand Phil offered and letting him pull her against his side as he introduced her to the four associates and one girl friend.  He went through the names quickly and all Lina heard was Kim and as she met the eyes of the other woman, she was at first taken aback by the defiance she saw in them and then she recovered and coldly held her gaze until she looked away.  She couldn’t believe the audacity of the other woman, looking at her as if she had done something wrong.

Phil handed her a drink and moved his arm around her and she thankfully leaned into his side as she forced herself to relax and talk to his associates.  After the initial stare down she completely ignored Kim, who silently sipped at her soda observing but not partaking in the conversation.   

She felt almost normal as she conversed with his associates who clearly respected Phil and enjoyed having a chance to socialize with him outside of the office.  For his part, Phil seemed somewhat relaxed but Lina knew he was concerned with how she was feeling.  He never stopped touching her, his arm either around her or his hand moving up and down her back as he interacted with the others.

Lina had skipped lunch, so one drink was enough to settle her nerves and as the group left the bar and headed towards the gate she let her eyes drift back to Kim who was several yards ahead.  She was wearing three inch heels with her jeans and her hips swayed as she walked, bringing attention to her well defined butt and hips.  Where Lina was classy and pretty, Kim was sultry and sexy and Lina hated the thought of her with Phil, hated that the name now had a face and she could actually imagine the two of them together.  Phil may have been naïve enough to believe it was just a one night stand that took a life of its own, but Lina knew better.  This woman had seen him, wanted him and set out to seduce him, which is exactly what she had done.  And then when he was unwilling to leave his wife, she had gotten pregnant hoping that would get him to leave.  She hadn’t even considered Lina or Phil’s three children, no this woman only thought about herself and what she wanted. 

“You okay?” Phil’s deep voice penetrated into her thoughts as he stopped and let the rest of the group go ahead.

“I don’t like her,” Lina said meeting his eyes.  “The thought of the two of you together makes me sick.”

“Not here,” He lifted her hand to his mouth, kissing the inside of her wrist as his eyes looked into hers.  “That’s exactly what she wants – to see a rift between us.”

            She nodded, knowing he was right.   

            Minutes later she found herself in the comfort of First Class, Phil beside her his hand lying on her upper thigh.  “She’ll have a Tanquery and tonic and I’ll have an Absolute and ice,” he told the flight attendant.  “And can you do something about the temperature in here?  It’s like a Goddamn sauna.”  He pulled at the knot of his tie.

            “Phil,” Lina scolded, knowing he was taking his frustrations out on the flight attendant.

            “What?”  He pulled his tie off.  “It’s hot as hell in here.” He folded his tie and placed it in his pocket.  “They need to turn on the air conditioning.”

            “It’s not that hot.”  She covered the hand that was resting on her thigh, her thumb moving back and forth over his knuckles.  “How long is the flight?”

            “About an hour and a half.” He sighed as he leaned back in his seat.   

            She noticed Kim and the others entering the plane at the same moment the flight attendant placed her drink in front of her.  She could see Kim’s eyes focus in on Phil and she openly stared at him until she passed their chairs.    

            “Did it have to be her?” Lina asked.  “She doesn’t even have enough class to be embarrassed with me here.  Did you see her staring at you?”

            “She’s trying to create problems between us.”  He squeezed her thigh.  “Try to ignore her.”

            “And since when are you into breasts?”

            “Jesus Lina,” he leaned forward and turned towards her, his eyebrows pulled together in a frown.  “You really want to get into this here?” 

            “No.”  She shook her head.   

            He leaned back into his seat and picked up his drink, taking a long swallow. 

“Sir?” The flight attendant stopped beside their seats.  “The pilot has increased the flow of air.  It should be cooling off quickly.  May I get you anything else right now?”

“Yeah a new life.”

“Excuse me?”

“Nothing.  I’m kidding – thank you, I’m fine.”

 “Did I tell you I talked to Nicholas Drayton yesterday?” Lina asked after the flight attendant walked away.

Phil raised his eyebrows.  “You know you didn’t.”

“Well I did.  He recommended a new doctor for Katie.  He said he would discuss it with her at your next appointment.”

“He called you?”

“Yes, yesterday afternoon.  I would have mentioned it last night, but it was so late when you got in.”  He had a late dinner with clients and didn’t arrive home until almost 11 pm.

“Good – now you can start taking her again.”

“You don’t want to take her?”   

“No.”  He lifted his glass to his mouth and took a swallow.  “You know how I feel about this.”

She decided not to push it.  She enjoyed taking Katie and participating in the sessions and didn’t really want Phil to take her place. 

“He didn’t only call about Katie.  He called to invite Logan to the beach for the weekend.”

Phil lifted his hand from hers and brought it to his forehead kneading his skin.  “We’re not going to be able to get away from him are we?”

Lina couldn’t stop the laugh that escaped her.  “I don’t think so, so maybe you’re going to have to trust me a little.”

“It’s nice you think this is so funny.  First the guy has Katie as an excuse to see and talk to you and when that method dries up, his son conveniently wants to be best friends with Logan.”

“Maybe if you gave him a chance, the two of you could be friends.  You have a lot in common.”

“We like the same woman.  That doesn’t bode well for a friendship.”

She rolled her eyes, knowing when he got this way there was no use trying to change his mind. She reached out and reclaimed his hand, pulling it to rest with hers on her thigh.  “You’ve got to be the most stubborn person alive.”

“Just protecting what’s mine,” he said deeply squeezing her leg.

Lina didn’t see Kim again until Saturday morning.  Phil went out for a run with one of his partners and she was walking back to her room after a workout in the hotel gym.  Kim was walking towards her in exercise gear, her hair up in a ponytail.  They were the only two in the hall way and Lina had every intention of ignoring her when Kim moved into her path and spoke. 

“You can look down your nose all you want at me, but you have to know he was more than a willing participant.” 

Lina met the other woman’s eyes as she came to a stop before her.  “What I know or don’t know is none of your business,” she said coolly.  “And I have absolutely no desire to talk to you.”

“Because you’re afraid of the truth.”

“No,” Lina shook her head, “because you’re insignificant.”  She was surprised at how calm and composed she sounded when she was feeling anything but inside.  “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get ready to have breakfast with my husband.”  She stepped around her and continued down the hall.

“Did he tell you he took me to Steamboat?” Kim called after her.

Lina stopped and turned back to her, retracing her steps and stopping before her.  “Yes.” She coldly met her eyes.  “We’ve been together 25 years.  We have three children – you’re irrelevant to our relationship.  Your child will be irrelevant,” she said, taking no pleasure in the blush that came to Kim’s face.  “So get rid of this illusion that you have some importance in our life – because you don’t.”

“Did he tell you that he fucked me five times a day?  That we barely skied because he couldn’t get enough of me.”

“No,” Lina said still completely in control, “because you’re irrelevant.  And regardless of how many times he may have fucked you, you remain irrelevant.”

As soon as she returned to her room she stripped off her clothes and got in the shower and then she lost her composure, angry tears mixed with the water as she stood under the shower head replaying the conversation.  She took a long shower and by the time Phil arrived back in the room she was feeling a degree better as she stood before the vanity mirror wearing one of the thick white terry cloth robes that came with the suite and applying moisturizer to her face. 

“What’s wrong?” He asked, his eyes meeting hers in the mirror.

“Nothing.” She broke eye contact as she continued to apply the moisturizer.

“What’s wrong?”  He gently turned her to face him, a hand gripping both of her arms.  He was still sweating from his run, his arms gleaming with perspiration.

“I saw Kim,” Lina said.   

“She came to talk to you?” His jaw instantly clenched and the pressure on her upper arms increased.

“I ran into her in the hallway.  She told me you fucked her five times a day in Steamboat.  That you couldn’t get enough of her.”

He turned and headed for the door.

“Phil – no!” Lina was behind him gripping his arm.   

“She’s lying and I’m not letting her harass you.”  He continued toward the door.

 “No,” she moved in front of him, her hands on his sweat drenched chest. “This is what she wants – to set you off.  It will just encourage her.”

She could see his internal struggle for control and then he was breathing in and out deeply, his eyes meeting hers.  “She’s lying to you.”

“Okay.” Her hands remained on his chest, her eyes locked with his.  “Okay.”  She had never seen his so angry.  “I believe you.”

“I could kill her.”

“No,” Lina shook her head.  “She isn’t worth this energy.  This is exactly what she wants.”  She moved her hands to the sides of his face.  “She’s in the past.  I’m done letting her affect us.  I should never have repeated what she said.” 

“She’s lying.”

“I know,” Lina nodded, believing him.  “Just forget I said it – I don’t want it to ruin our weekend.”

He continued to meet her eyes and she could feel the anger leaving him and then he closed his eyes, shaking his head as if to clear it.  “Okay.”  He opened his eyes.

The sound of a knock at the door had him tensing.  “It’s room service,” Lina said.  “I thought it would be nice to eat on the balcony.” 

Deleted scene of Lina saying goodbye to Nick…

Lina stood from a bench as soon as she saw Nick’s Porsche pulling into the spot beside her car in the small parking lot at The Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, MD. She never actually went in the chapel or shrine, but instead sometimes explored the trails through the woods open to the public.

            She watched him climb out of his car in dark slacks, a gray sweater and camel colored leather jacket, a pair of aviator sunglasses concealing his eyes. She felt a rush of feelings and to her dismay tears gathered in her eyes. She seemed to have lost all ability to control her emotions over the past few months.

            “You’re not taking me to church are you?”

            “No.” She returned his smile and then he was giving her a brief hug and brushing his lips against her cheek.  

            “You look well,” he said as he stepped back from her.

            “So do you.” He looked more handsome every time she saw him and as the thought took root in her mind, she felt a stab of guilt. Her feelings for him were confusing at best.

            “Should we sit or walk?” he asked. 

            “Sit I think. You’re not dressed for a walk in the woods. The paths aren’t paved.”

            “I don’t mind,” he assured her.

            “No, let’s just sit.” She preceded him to the bench she vacated moments earlier and they sat down.

            “What’s on your mind?” he asked stretching his arm along the back of the bench as he turned towards her.

            “You always get right to the point, don’t you?” She’d texted him as soon as Phil left for work and he’d suggested they meet for dinner or during his lunch break and she chose the latter.

             “I do.”

            “Phil asked me to stop talking to you.”

            With his sunglasses concealing his eyes, she saw no visible reaction. “And is that what you want?” he asked. “To stop talking to me?”

            “No,” she answered honestly. “But, I think I need to.”

            “Okay.”

            “Would you take off your sunglasses? I can’t tell what you’re thinking.”

           He reached up with his left hand and removed his sunglasses and then his green eyes were meeting hers. “It doesn’t matter what I think.”

            “It does to me.”

            “No, Lina.” He shook his head. “Not if you’re working it out with Phil.”

            “I love him,” she whispered.

            “I know.”

            “And I’m confused about what I feel for you – I thought you were just a friend, but the thought of not talking to you makes me feel almost panicked inside.”  

            “This is my fault,” he said. “Not yours.”

            “I’m the one who came into your room.”

            “Lina,” he began and then he paused as he looked up briefly. “You’ve been hurt and you’re vulnerable – I’ve let my feelings for you cloud my judgement. But the feeling you have for me – they probably aren’t real – you’re transferring your feeling for Phil to me.”

            “No.” She shook her head. “That isn’t true.”

            “I think it may be,” he insisted. “An emotional bond formed between us – and I shouldn’t have let it happen.”

            “You’re my friend.”

            “That wasn’t the role I was paid to play.”

            She knew he was right. She knew Phil was right. But knowing it didn’t make the decision any less painful. “You’re wrong about the transference thing – I always liked talking to you. It had nothing to do with Phil.”

            “Maybe.”

            “You really think I’m a mental case, don’t you? First you accuse me of having a codependent relationship with Phil and now you’re telling me I don’t know my own feelings. Maybe you should step out of your textbooks for a minute.”

            “I don’t think you’re a mental case. You know how I feel about you. And as far as the labeling goes – it’s how I think – I’ve been doing this too long not to.”

            “But can you admit you may be wrong – that I may not fit into any of your models?”

            “Yes,” he sighed. He looked away from her and Lina’s eyes drifted over his profile.  

            “I should go,” he finally said turning back to her.

            She saw something between longing and sadness in his warm eyes and she wanted to tell him to forget everything she said. She didn’t want to sever communication with him, but then she thought of Phil and knew she didn’t have a choice.

            “Find your passion, Lina. You’re so much more than his wife.”

            “Being his wife is enough for me. It always has been.”

            “I don’t believe that.” He slipped his glasses back over his eyes. “I’m going to leave now,” he said putting his hands on his thighs and slowly coming to his feet. “I hope it works out for you, Lina. You deserve to be happy.”

            “Are you going to talk to me if you see me at Gilman?” she asked, a lump forming in her throat.

            “That’s entirely up to you – I’ll always want to talk to you.”

            “I’m going to miss you,” she whispered, tears clouding her eyes.

           “Don’t think about me. You’re making the right decision.” He turned then and walked back to his car. Moments later she heard the engine come to life and watched the car until it disappeared around a bend in the road.

Deleted scene — a couple of weeks after Lina kicked Phil out…

“Where are you going?” she asked Logan and Katie as she climbed out of the BMW a week later. It was a few minutes past 6:00 p.m. and she’d run out to pick up a pizza for dinner.
“We’re having dinner with Dad,” Katie said. “It’s Thursday.”
“Thursday?” she repeated frowning. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
“He wants to have dinner with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Logan said.
Lina blinked back tears, hating the thought of being alone. “Why didn’t you tell me? I wouldn’t have gone out to pick up a pizza.”
“I thought you knew,” Logan said.
“Where are you going?”
“We’re meeting him at Season’s 52,” Katie said naming a restaurant at their local mall.
“Do you want me to stay with you?” Logan asked, frowning as he looked at her.
“No, of course not. You should see your dad.” She forced herself to smile as she touched his arm. “And if you’re still hungry when you get home, you can have pizza.”
She watched them drive off and then her eyes focused on Phil’s BMW, well now her BMW. It smelled like him, woodsy and masculine and she hated driving it, just like she hated sleeping in their bed by herself. She hadn’t heard from his since his terse response to her text a week prior and she felt completely abandoned by him. It was as if the past twenty-five meant nothing to him and he was seamlessly transitioning to a life without her, while she could barely function for longer than a couple of hours without breaking down.
She missed him desperately. She felt like part of her was gone. She could barely eat and could only sleep if she took a pill. And he didn’t care. She couldn’t stop the images of him and Kim from flashing through her mind. And she was starting to believe they were already together.

She was curled up on the couch watching television and drinking a glass of wine when Logan and Katie returned home. “Hi,” she said smiling as Logan came into the room. “How was your dinner?”
“Fine,” he said with a shrug. “Their servings are too small.” He flopped down on the couch beside her, his eyes moving to the television. “I had two desserts.”
“You can change it if you want,” she said holding out the remote. “I’m not really watching.”
He took the remote and began flipping through the channels.
“How’s your father?” she asked after a few minutes of silence.
“Good.”
“How’s his hand?”
“It’s covered in a cast. You can only see the tips of his fingers – it looks pretty cool.”
“Has he found somewhere to live?”
“He didn’t say,” he answered and then remained silent, his focus on a sitcom.
After five minutes of staring unfocused at the television, Lina went up to her room with her cellphone and then she was calling Phil. He didn’t answer and moments later she received a text.
“What do you need, Lina?”
“Are you with Kim?”
“No.”
“Are you with someone else?”
“I won’t be with anyone until our divorce is final. I expect you to show me the same courtesy.”
She felt tears come to her eyes at the mention of a divorce. “Are you going to be with her?”
“No and I’m not sure how I can make that word any more definitive.”
“Who took care of you after your surgery?”
“What do you want, Lina?”
She felt tears rolling down her cheeks. “Nothing.”
“Then why are you texting me?”
“Because I’m stupid and I still love you. I won’t bother you anymore.” She turned off her phone and curled into the fetal position, giving into the tears she’d been suppressing all evening.

She heard the house phone ringing several minutes later and then Logan was coming into her darkened room. “Mom?”
“Please leave, Logan,” she whispered her voice breaking. “I just need to be alone right now.”
“Dad’s on the phone. He wants to talk to you.”
“I can’t,” she whispered and then she was crying. “I can’t.” She rolled away from him and turned her face into her pillow.
“Mom?” Worry was evident in his voice.
“I’m just really sad right now,” she managed. “I’ll be okay tomorrow.”
He left the room for a minute and then he was returning. “Dad really wants to talk to you – could you just talk to him?”
She shook her head. “I can’t.” She was crying again. “Just go,” she whispered pushing away the phone he was trying to put to her ear. “Please.” She heard his steps fading as he left the room and then she was pulling the comforter over her head. She debated taking one of the pills Nick gave her, but didn’t want to feel the numbness it brought on, instead she just gave in to her sorrow.

She was crying softly when she heard her bedroom door opening sometime later. “I just – I just need to be alone,” she whispered into the darkness. She heard the pad of footsteps and then the mattress shifting as someone sat down on the edge of the bed beside her.
“Lina?” Phil’s deep voice preceded the feel of the comforter being pulled down from around her head. “Baby, don’t cry.” He pushed her hair back from her face.
“You’re the reason I’m crying,” she whispered her voice catching.
“Lina –.”
“You’re so cold to me. You broke my heart and now you’re stomping on it.”
“No.” He shook his head. “No.” He pushed his forehead against hers. “Don’t cry.”
“You treat me like I never mattered to you,” she sobbed. “I’m dying inside. Don’t you know that? I’m dying.”
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. He kicked off his shoes and then he was pulling back the comforter and stretching out on the bed beside her. “I love you. How could you not know that?”
She turned to him, gripping the material of his sweater as she breathed in his familiar scent. “You won’t even talk to me,” she whispered. “You just accept that we’re over. And I don’t have anything because I’m nothing without you.”
“That’s not true. Nothing you’ve said is true.” He held her against him as she cried into his chest. “I love you – I love you more than anything in this world.”
“You told the kids we were getting divorced,” she continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “You don’t think I’m worth fighting for.”
“That’s not true.” He kissed the top of her head. “You’re so wrong.”
“How could you have looked at her like that?”
“Like what? What are you talking about?” He looked down at her. “Lina? Who did I look at?”
“Kim.” She shook her head into his chest, hating the memory of the image. “In the picture – you were looking at her like you look at me, like you loved her.”
“No,” he said firmly. “No, Lina.” He reached out and turned on the bedside lamp and then he was cupping her shoulder and pushing her back slightly. “Look at me, Lina.” When she lifted her tear-filled eyes to his he continued. “I never loved her. The look you saw wasn’t love.”
She stared into his blue eyes, eyes she had been looking into her whole life. She reached out and ran her fingers over the line of his jaw and then she was touching his full lips. She’d always loved his lips. “You kissed her with these.”
“Don’t.” He shook his head.
“You were with her while I was home waiting for you.”
“No.”
“Yes, you were.”
His eyes narrowed and he shook his head. “No.”
“How can you say that?”
“Because it’s true.” He rolled away from her and got off the bed.
“Where are you going?” she cried. “Don’t leave.”
“I’m not.” He ran his good hand back through his hair. “Let’s move to the couch. I can’t have this conversation with you in bed.”
“I don’t want to talk. I want you to lay with me, so I can sleep. I haven’t slept in days.”
“I need to talk first,” he said.
Moments later they were sitting side by side on the couch, each turned so they were facing the other. “Do you remember the night of our anniversary?”
She nodded, her fingers trailing over the back of his hand as it rested on his thigh, her eyes following the movement.
“That night after Katie left you asked me to go upstairs with you. That was the first time in ten months you initiated sex with me.”
Her eyes moved to his, her eye brows pulled together. “No.”
“Yes. And at that moment it was over with Kim. I was supposed to meet her the next morning to run. I was scheduled to fly to New York with her Sunday – I cancelled and I never touched her again, because the moment you wanted me again I could never be with another woman.”
“I never stopped wanting you,” she whispered gripping his hand.
“Yes, you did. That’s no excuse for what I did, but I want you to understand what was going on in my head. She wanted me. And you didn’t.”
She closed her eyes momentarily as she felt a stab of pain in her heart. “That’s not true.”
“Drayton slowly poisoned you against me.”
“No.” She shook her head.
“You started seeing him in May of last year. That summer is when you started pulling away from me – he was in your ear and you stopped talking to me.”
“We were fighting about how to parent Katie,” Lina said.
“It was more than that – you stopped talking to me. You stopped touching me – you stopped wanting me.”
“That isn’t true,” she insisted.
“It is.”
“You’re actually blaming your affair on him?”
“Indirectly, yes, absolutely,” he said. “It would never have happened if he hadn’t come into your life, but it did happen – and that’s on me.”
“Phil –.”
“He undermined our relationship, Lina. He encouraged you to speak to him instead of me. At some point it went beyond Katie – he was working on you.”
“No,” she whispered, but she felt an uneasy feeling inside.
“You felt comfortable enough with you daughter’s psychiatrist to spend the night at his house. Does that sound normal to you? He crossed professional boundaries. He fell in love with you.”
“He’s just a friend.”
“He’s not my friend,” he said his voice suddenly intense. “And he doesn’t have our best interest in mind. If you want us to have any chance of working this out you will stop talking to him.”
“I’m having a hard time with everything. He just listens to me.”
“I’m having a hard time, too, but I’m not talking to another woman – that’s emotional cheating, Lina. It may not be physical, but it is destructive to our relationship! I’m your husband,” he said poking his chest with his fingers. “I’m the one you talk to.”
“But you won’t,” she whispered dropping her face into her hands. “You don’t answer when I call you. You just text me. You’ve been so cold to me.”
“I thought you were with him,” he shocked her by saying.
“What?” She lifted her gaze to his. “No.” She shook her head. “How could you think that?” She closed the distance separating them and crawled into his lap, her hands moving over his shoulders. “I don’t want him. I want you.”
“You chose him.”
“No.” She shook her head. “I would never choose him.” She saw tears in his eyes and felt like her heart was breaking. “Phil, you can’t believe that.” She cupped his face in her hands. “I only love you – I could never love anyone else.”
“You left me – you went into his house.” His voice was raw with emotion.
“I was angry and hurt, but I was never choosing him. I needed separation from you. It was only about that – it was never about him,” she whispered her voice breaking. “I love you.” She kissed his eyes. “So much,” she whispered and then she was running her lips and nose down his cheek and over the rough stubble of his jaw, breathing him in. “I love you,” she said again before putting her lips over his.

When Lina awoke the following morning it took less than three seconds for the memories from the evening before to come flooding into her mind. She rolled onto her side, her eyes moving to Phil who was still asleep beside her. He was lying on his stomach, his face turned in her direction, and his lips slightly parted, his breathing deep. She noticed the dark circles beneath his eyes and the hollow of his cheeks. He’d lost weight. She’d realized it the night before when they were making love. She recalled the look in his eyes when he told her he thought she was with Nick and felt a twist in her stomach. She’d never seen that look in the twenty-five years they’d been together. She wished she could erase the image from her mind. She wanted to touch him, but instead she slipped out of bed, careful not to disturb him.
Minutes later, she found Logan in the kitchen dressed in his school uniform of khaki pants and a light blue oxford and dark tie. He looked up from a bowl of cereal when she entered the room and she saw the concern in his eyes.
“I’m okay,” she said as she ran her hand over his back. “I’m sorry you had to see me like that.”
“Why were you crying?”
“I was just sad about your dad.” She squeezed his shoulder. “I’m feeling better now.”
“Did he spend the night?” he asked, his eyebrows pulled together in a frown.
“Yes.” She left him to walk towards the coffee pot. “He’s still sleeping.”
“Are you getting back together?” He pushed his bowl of half eaten cereal away from him. “He cheated on you! He’s the reason you were crying last night.”
“Logan?”
“He’s why you were so sad this summer.”
“Honey, nothing has been decided. And you’re too young to understand.”
“No, I’m not. I know what cheating is.” He pushed back his chair and came to his feet.
“Logan,” she paused as she turned to him. “People make mistakes – even your dad.”
He shook his head, his lips turned down. “He was with another woman! You shouldn’t forgive him,” he said.
“Logan this is my decision—mine and your fathers,” she said leaning back against the counter. “I know you’re confused and upset, but I’m emotionally exhausted. I’m operating on fumes.”
“I don’t want him to move back in!”
She let out a breath as she watched him storm from the room.

His mood didn’t improve during the drive to his bus stop, only responding to the few attempts she made at conversation with one syllable words. When she returned home thirty minutes after leaving the house, Katie’s car was gone but the SUV was still in the garage.
When she stepped into the kitchen Phil was standing beside the kitchen island with a mug of coffee in his hand. “Oh my God,” she whispered when she looked at him. “How much weight have you lost?” He was back in his jeans and dark sweater from the night before, the jeans hanging low on his hips.
“I have no idea.”
She closed the distance separating them and wrapped her arms around his middle, dropping her face into the crook of his neck. “I hate this,” she whispered.
He set down his coffee before putting his arms around her. “Me too.” He kissed the side of her head. “ I fucked everything up.”
She felt her whole body responding to his closeness as if there was a flow of energy connecting them. “I think I’m too dependent on you.”
“You’re supposed to be dependent on me. I’m your husband.”
“But it may be too much. I feel like I’m lost without you.”
“Did Drayton say that – did he tell you you’re too dependent on me?”
She didn’t want to think about Nick. There were too many thoughts flowing through her head after Phil’s words the night before.
“Did he?” he asked. “Did that bastard tell you you’re too dependent on me?”
“Yes,” she admitted.
The arms around her tightened. “Oh, Lina,” he breathed. “How can you not see how destructive he is to us? He’s in your head.”
“But I do feel lost without you.”
“I feel lost without you, too.”
She lifted her head, her eyes meeting his. “You do?”
“Of course,” he began his eyebrows pulled together in a frown, “being apart from you is against every instinct I have. It’s not natural – don’t you know that?”
She nodded, tears coming to her eyes. “I hate it.”
“Let me come home, baby. We belong together.”
“It’s too soon. I need time to think. My mind is everywhere.”
He dropped his forehead against hers and took another deep breath. “I know I don’t deserve you,” he said, “but you – you alone will always come first for me. I’ll never let anyone come between us again.”

Scene with Phil, Lina and Katie…

“Where is it?” Katie asked after bursting into Lina and Phil’s bedroom several hours later.

            “What in the hell?” Phil asked sitting up in the bed and turning on his bedside light, the comforter falling down around his waist and exposing his bare chest and stomach.

            “My bible,” Katie cried. “Where is it?”

            “It’s the middle of the God damn night!”

            Lina gripped the comforter against her chest as her mind slowly processed what was happening. “Katie,” she began.

            “You ruined everything,” she screamed glaring down at Lina. “Where is it?”

            “Honey –.”

            “Where is it?” she shrieked loudly.

            “What in the hell is going on?” Phil’s eyes darted from Katie to Lina.

            “She took my bible,” Katie cried not taking her gaze from Lina. “And I want it back.”

            “It’s in my bottom drawer on the left,” Lina said pointing towards her dresser, not prepared to have this discussion in the middle of the night or with Phil in the room.

            Katie spun around and stomped towards the dresser before bending down and roughly pulling the drawer open. She threw a few pieces of Lina’s exercise clothes over her shoulder and then she was removing the books.

            “Katie,” Lina began, “I’m sorry, but –.”

            “You ruined it!” Katie yelled. “I hate you so much!” She ran from the room, pulling the door closed with a loud bang.

            “What was that?” Phil asked turning to Lina. “What in the hell is going on?”

            “You don’t want to know,” she sighed.

            “Since when does she read the bible?”

            Lina covered her eyes. “I don’t want to do this in the middle of the night. Can we discuss it tomorrow?”

            “I was just woken from a dead sleep in the middle of the night – I want to know why.”

            Lina lowered her hands and looked up at him. He had rolled onto his side and was propped up on one elbow looking down at her. “I’ll tell you, but you have to promise not to do anything tonight. You can’t go confront her.”

            “I’m not promising anything — tell me.”

            She shook her head. “Not until you promise.”

            “How can I promise something when I don’t have any information?”

            “It’s the middle of the night. Nothing good will come of another confrontation at this hour. Promise me you will stay in this bed and I will tell you.”

            He breathed out a stream of air. “Fine, now tell me.”

            “You didn’t promise.”

            “Jesus Christ.” He shook his head. “I promise.”

            “She was using the bible to do some type of spell. I found it in the freezer and then I found some witchcraft books in her bedroom.”

            He began to get off the bed and Lina lunged towards him, wrapping her arms around him from behind. “You promised,” she cried as he untangled her arms from around his neck. “Phil,” she cried as he crossed to his wardrobe. “You promised.” She was off the bed, padding across the room after him.

            “Is it my bible? My family bible?” he asked as he stepped into a pair of cotton lounge pants.

            “You promised,” she said again as she stood in the door to his wardrobe.

            “She’s probably in her room right now, doing spells against us.” He gripped her arms and gently set her aside so he could pass her.

            “So what?” Lina cried, again putting herself in his path. “Now you believe in that stuff? You think she could actually put a spell on us. You’re being ridiculous!” She laid her hands on his bare chest and shifted to the left and then right as he tried to step around her.

            “I have no idea what’s involved. What if she needs the blood of some animal and kills the Baxter’s dog?” he asked referring to their neighbor’s golden retriever. “I’m getting the books.” His hands were on her naked waist as he again shifted her out of his path.

            “No you’re not! You are going to get back in bed! If your word means anything, you will get back in bed!”

            “Lina,” he began, pausing with his hand on the door handle. “I –.”

            “I mean it Phil!” she interrupted, her hands on her hips as she stood, completely naked, glaring at him.

            “My mom entrusted that bible to me. It’s been in my family since the eighteen hundreds.”

            “The bible is fine,” she assured him, her voice calmer. “I will get it back first thing tomorrow morning.”

            “I don’t want her to have it,” he said, still holding the door handle.

            “You told me earlier tonight my needs will always come first. I need you to get back in bed and keep your promise to me.” She turned then and went back to their bed, pulling back the comforter and laying back down.

            After several seconds, Phil followed. He sat down on the mattress beside her and then he was leaning over her, one arm on either side of her. “I meant what I said earlier – every word, but putting your needs first doesn’t mean you have carte blanche to determine what’s best for our children.”

            “I didn’t think it did and all I asked was for you not to confront her in the middle of the night – that’s all I asked and you agreed.”

            “But I didn’t know what I was agreeing to.”

            She stared up into is handsome face and thought, not for the first time, he could be the most infuriating person on earth. “Then you shouldn’t have agreed.”

            “I needed to know what was going on with Katie,” he said. “You should have told me when I asked. Hell you should have told me as soon as you knew this was going on.”

            “I just found out today and I was handling it – I took the books, didn’t I? I would have discussed it with you, but I didn’t want to do it in the middle of the night. Would you have talked it over with me or would you be in her room right now if I told you when you asked?”

            He took a deep breath. “This is your mother isn’t it?”

            “Yes. Can we please deal with it tomorrow? It’s almost 1:00 a.m.”

            “I want to move in with Grandma,” Katie announced the following morning as she entered the kitchen dressed all in black, dark makeup and piercings on display.

            “That’s not an option,” Lina said as she paused with a piece of toast at her mouth.

            “Yes it is,” she said as she crossed to the coffee pot. “I already asked her.”

            “Good morning.” Lina smiled at Megan as she entered the kitchen. “You’re up early.”

            “Why were you crying last night?”

            “I wasn’t crying,” Katie said.

            “I wasn’t talking to you,” Megan said as she continued to look at Lina. “Are you and dad getting a divorce or something?”

            “No,” Lina said quickly.

            “Because that would really be selfish,” she said her hands on her hips. “I’m going away to college and I shouldn’t have to worry about what’s going on at home. I need to be focused.”

            “We’re not getting divorced,” Lina insisted.

            “I know kids that became complete drug addicts after their parents got divorced.”

            “Megan,” Lina began, wondering how this could be the same person she thought so mature three days earlier, “we are not getting a divorce!”

            “Then why were you crying again? That was like the third time this month. Logan said you were crying the day Dad cut his cheek.”

            “I’m just feeling emotional lately,” Lina said. “I think it’s hormonal.”

            “Are you in menopause?”

            “Probably,” Lina lied.

            “You’re too young to be in menopause,” Katie said.

            Lina’s gaze shifted to Katie, surprised she was interested enough to follow their conversation let alone comment. “It could be early onset,” she again lied. “Are you going somewhere?”

            “Grandma’s picking me up.”

            “Since when? Didn’t you go to Annapolis with her yesterday?”

            “Since I called her,” Katie said as she poured crème into her coffee. “I’m going to live with her.”

            “What?” Megan laughed as she turned from the refrigerator. “Why couldn’t you have done this a year ago?”

            “No one’s going anywhere,” Lina said. “What time will she be here?” As if on cue, there was a knock on the front door.

            “Hello?” Alice’s voice called out.

            “I’m talking to Grandma alone,” Lina told Katie as she left the room. “We need to talk,” she said as she approached Alice. “Privately.”

            “Well hello to you, too,” Alice said. She was dressed in one of her signature long flowing skirts and a royal blue rayon sleeveless top.

            Lina avoided looking at her, afraid she might lose it before they even stepped outside, but as soon as the door closed behind them she rounded on her mother. “What were you thinking?” she cried. “You have no right to tell her she can move in with you!”

            “Stop!” Alice said holding up both hands. “I did not tell Katie she could move in with me.”

            The adrenaline pumping through Lina’s veins began to dissipate. “You didn’t?”

            “Of course not. She called me upset this morning and told me she wanted to live with me. I told her I would come over so we could talk. That was the extent of the conversation.”

            Lina released her breath as she walked a few steps to a cushioned couch on the large front porch. “Sorry.”

            “Oh you don’t have to apologize,” Alice said as she sat down beside her, “we both know this isn’t about me.”

            “Why did you give her those witchcraft books?”

            “I didn’t. I took her to Crystal Fox and she picked them out herself.”

            “Crystal Fox?” Lina frowned.

            “It’s a cute little store in Laurel. Katie loves it. They sell crystal and incense and tarot cards– anything you can think of.”

            “Anything to do with the occult you mean. Why did you let her get those books?”

            “Let her?” Alice raised her eyebrows. “Have you heard of the first amendment?”

            “This is our home – a Catholic home, I might add,” Lina said. “And we have a right – a responsibility to censor what our children read. Should I let Logan bring pornography into the house?”

            Alice inclined her head. “Well–.”

            “That was a rhetorical question!”

            “What is going on with you?” Alice asked running her hand down Lina’s arm. “I am feeling so much heavy energy. I’m going to have to go somewhere and cleanse this negativity away when I leave.”

            “I just wish you had discussed this with me. I found Phil’s family bible in the freezer. Katie was using it as part of a spell to make some boy like her – at least that was my conclusion.”

            “That’s it?” Alice opened her eyes wider. “Really, Lina, is that something to get upset about? It’s harmless fun. You don’t actually believe in it do you?”

            “No, of course not, but that doesn’t mean Katie doesn’t. She was hysterical last night because I took the bible out of the freezer – she said I ruined everything – meaning the spell, which I think means she believes in it.”

            “She’s having fun with it. You girls used to do the same thing. You got bored with it and so will she just like she got bored with palm reading.”

            “Palm reading?”

            “Yes, palm reading. Six months ago that was all she talked about and then poof,” she threw up her hands. “It was done.”

            Lina sighed as she leaned back against the couch cushions. “Why can’t you be a normal grandmother?”

            “Excuse me?”

            “Phil is going to lose it, Mom, absolutely lose it. He hates this stuff. He isn’t going to want Katie around you.”

            She threw back her head and laughed, her shoulders shaking. “As if he could keep one of my grandchildren from me.”

            Lina usually found her mother’s all-consuming laugh contagious, but not today. “Mom, I’m serious.”

“So am I. I dare him to try. No one could keep one of them from me.”

Lina crossed her arms over her chest and stared out across the front lawn. “You need to make her stop.”

“Make her stop?” Alice pulled her head back. “Haven’t the two of you learned anything from the thousands of dollars you’ve spent on therapy in the past year? Let the poor girl be, Lina. She isn’t hurting anyone, especially not herself. And that’s what’s important isn’t it?” She gripped Lina’s knee and leaned towards her so their faces were only inches apart. “She’s happy again,” she said as she shook her leg. “Can’t you see that?”

“Happy?” Lina raised her eyebrows. “I’d go with not sad.”

“Well I see happy,” Alice insisted. “I have my granddaughter back and I don’t want to lose her again.”

“But Phil –.”

            “No,” Alice began, gripping Lina’s knee again as she shook her head, “No but Phil’s – instead of crawling into his conservative shell with him, you need to pull him out.”

            Lina sighed as she leaned back in the cushions of the couch. “You don’t understand. This is a religious thing.”

            “No.” Alice shook her head. “It’s a control thing.”

And the next scene…

Lina spent the better part of the day tending to her flowerbeds, the conversation with Nick Drayton the evening before never far from her mind. The thought of not being able to seek his advice or simply talk to him brought on an overwhelming feeling of loss.

            By 2 p.m. she realized gardening wasn’t going to have its normal therapeutic effect, so she sought out the luxury of her air conditioned house. The unseasonably cool temperatures from the day before had been replaced by all-consuming late July heat and humidity.

            She knew she should eat, but the thought of food was unappetizing so she instead contented herself with a large glass of ice water. She sat at the kitchen island sipping from her glass and looking through her old text message conversation with Nick Drayton a lump forming in her throat.

            Before she allowed herself to change her mind, she quickly typed out a message to him. “Hi – are all subjects off limits? If not, I’d like your advice about Katie. tx Lina”

            Forty minutes and two glasses of ice water later, she received his response. “No subjects are off limits. I said you shouldn’t text me, not couldn’t. What’s going on?”

            Katie is practicing witchcraft and I want to take the books. Is that a bad idea?”

            “YES – BAD IDEA!!!”

            She couldn’t help but smile at his reply as an image of his warm eyes flashed in her mind. “We’re Catholic – I think the church frowns upon this kind of thing.

            “She’s a teenager, Lina. Let her experiment. Stop rejecting her. If you take the books, she will feel rejected, unaccepted etc. She’s a smart girl – this diversion won’t last long.

            Lina felt a stab of guilt as she read his response. It was already too late she realized. The damage had been done. “Thanks

            “You already took them away, didn’t you?”

            She breathed in deeply at his response and wondered how he knew her so well. “I did, but I gave them backL

            “Do you still have the book I gave you the first time you came into my office?”

            He had given her a parenting book and it was sitting in the top drawer of her night stand. “Yes.

            “Read it again, Lina. I have to go – I have a patient waiting.”

            She felt her face heat up as she read his words. She hated the thought of him thinking of her so negatively.

            She was in the family room curled up on the corner of the couch reading the parenting book when Phil arrived from work a few minutes past 7 p.m.

            “Hi.” She looked up from her book as he stepped into the room. “How was your day?”

            “Long,” he sighed. “I’m beat. I never fell back to sleep last night.” He leaned his shoulder against the wall. “Where are the girls?”

            “Megan went to a movie and Katie is with my mom.” She uncurled her legs, set down the book and slowly came to her feet

            “Your mom?” He raised his eyebrows. “Weren’t we supposed to talk to her tonight?”

            “I thought it would be better if we could discuss it on our own first,” she said as she walked past him into the kitchen. “Make sure we’re in agreement.” 

            “What’s going on Lina?” he asked as he pushed off the wall. “I thought we were in agreement last night that the books have to go.”

            “What do you want to drink?” she asked as she opened the refrigerator. “I made a big salad. It felt too hot to cook.”

            “I want you to answer my question,” he said as he stepped up behind her. “Are we no longer in agreement?”

            She turned from the refrigerator. “My mom made some good points.”

            “Your mom?” He placed his hands on the sides of her face, slipping his fingers in her hair as he tilted her head back slightly. “Your crazy mom? Your crazy mom who gave her the books in the first place made some good points?”

            “Yes,” Lina said placing her hands in the center of his chest and pushing him back until he lowered his hands. “And I talked to the psychiatrist today, too. He agreed.” She didn’t say which psychiatrist so she decided it wasn’t a lie.

            He breathed in deeply. “Why? Why did you need second opinions? You found the books and took them – that was your first instinct. Why did you feel the need to consult outsiders when you know I was an agreement with that decision?”

            “Because we aren’t dealing with Megan or Logan. We are dealing with Katie and the way we instinctively parent her, doesn’t work. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t know if that was my first instinct. When I found the bible, I thought of you and how you would react – everything that followed was based on keeping you from flipping out.”

            He watched her, his expression unreadable. “We can talk all you want, but those books will not remain in this house. They’re blasphemous. I’m going to go change” he said before turning and leaving the room.

            Lina slid into one of the high-back chairs in front of the island and ran her hands back through her hair.

            “Would you do me a favor?” Lina asked Phil hours later. She was leaned into his side, his arm curved around her shoulder as he watched a crime drama on the television.

            “What’s that?” he asked, not looking away from the television.

            “Would you read this book?” She tapped the parenting book she was holding against his thigh.

            “I’m not going to change my mind about this, Lina.” They hadn’t spoken about the books or Katie since he left the kitchen. “This has nothing to do with parenting. This is devil worship and I won’t allow it in my house.”

            “It isn’t devil worship.”

            “Well whatever it is, it isn’t happening in this house. I find it offensive and frankly I’m a little floored you would consider condoning it. You always thanked me for getting you away from your mother’s crazy house. What’s changed? Are you planning to go back to your roots?”

            “I don’t want to lose her, Phil.”

            “Lose her?” He cupped her shoulder and gently pushed her back until she was sitting up and their eyes were meeting. “What are you talking about?”

            “She wants to live with my mom,” she said lightly. “She told me this morning.”

            “She isn’t going to live with your mom.”

            “I know, but the fact that she said it. And when I talked to my mom she mentioned how happy Katie is – I don’t see that. We don’t see the happy Katie. She isn’t happy with us.”

            “Baby, she’s manipulating you.”

            “No,” she said shaking her head. “She isn’t – my mom said she laughs all the time when they’re together. When was the last time you saw her laugh?”

            “You’re mom doesn’t have any rules. Of course she likes it there.”

            “It’s more than that – she feels comfortable with her. She isn’t comfortable with us. She doesn’t feel accepted.”

            “Lina –.”

            “Would you please just read this book? I think it would help.”

            “I’ve been to therapy. Isn’t that enough?”

            “No, it isn’t. I really want you to read this book,” she said as she again tapped it against his thigh. “You read faster than anyone I know. It’ll take you two hours tops. I want to be able to discuss it with you.”

            “Baby –.”

            “Please. As a favor to me?” She tilted her head to the side. “Please.”

            “I’m not going to change my mind. Those books cannot remain in this house.”

            “They’re already gone. I took the bible back and made her take the other books to my mother’s.”

            “I thought we were going to get rid of the books.”

            “Please just read the book and then we’ll discuss it again.”

He sighed as he laid his hand over the book. “Okay. I’ll read it.”

Lina and Adele…(Lina was mad at her for telling everyone in the family about Phil’s affair)

Two days later, Lina finally gave in and called Adele. The two met for a late lunch which felt surprisingly normal to Lina. “I still think you should leave the asshole,” Adele said after apologizing again for breaking Lina’s confidence.

            “So you would give it all up if you were me?” Lina asked. They were sitting on the enclosed outdoor patio of a popular vegan café.

            “Without a second thought. Some things are unforgivable and that’s one of them. I have too much pride.”

            “I have pride,” Lina insisted frowning across the table at her sister. “You have no idea what this feels like.”

            “I don’t?” Adele’s eyes opened wider. “I have one word for you,” she said leaning forward in her chair, “Keith.” Keith was Adele’s ex who had an affair after two years of marriage.

            “You can’t compare the two,” Lina said. “You knew him for less than three years. We’ve been together twenty-five years. He screwed up for four months. I’m not letting my pride ruin the rest of my life. I still love him.”

            Adele shook her head. “He doesn’t deserve you.”

            “You sound like Nick,” Lina said as she speared a piece of asparagus with her fork.

            “Nick?” Adele’s eyebrows rose.

            “Katie’s psychiatrist, Nick Drayton.”

            “You call her psychiatrist by his first name?”

            She shrugged. “Ex psychiatrist. His son and Logan are friends, so we’ve kind of shifted into more of a friend realm.”

            “And he actually told you Phil doesn’t deserve you? That doesn’t sound very psychiatrist like.”

            “I’m probably putting words in his mouth,” Lina said, realizing she had already shared too much.    

            “I didn’t realize the kids knew.”

            “They don’t.”

            “But you told her psychiatrist?” Adele frowned.

            “I needed someone to talk to and he’s a professional, so yeah,” she shrugged, “I told him and I think he let his professional wall down for a moment and said something to the effect that Phil didn’t deserve me. It was just said in passing. It wasn’t a big deal.”

            “Sounds like a brilliant man,” Adele said lifting her wine glass. “Cheers to him.”

Lina and Phil discussing parenting…

Friday evening was surprisingly pleasant with all the kids home and in relatively good spirits. Phil grilled shrimp and steak on the barbecue and then Logan and Megan went for a late night swim, while Katie, Lina and Phil watched a sitcom. Lina talked to Alice earlier in the day and she agreed, although not before sharing how ridiculous she thought it was, to keep the witchcraft books at her house.

“Did you finish the book?” Lina asked as they were preparing to turn in a little after 11 p.m.

            “I did,” he answered as he walked out of his wardrobe completely naked and crossed to the bed.

            “And?” Lina slipped off her silk robe and pulled back the comforter before slipping under the covers.

            “That’s a Drayton book, isn’t it?”

            “He recommended it, yes.” She rolled onto her side so she was facing him.

            “It’s fortunate for his son and probably society he doesn’t have custody of him. I don’t understand this laissez faire approach to parenting. Do you actually believe our only role is to provide our children with food and shelter – the rest we leave up to them? It’s insanity.”

            “That’s not what it says,” Lina argued propping herself up on her elbow as she looked down at him. “It says we need to give them enough freedom to learn for themselves. We shouldn’t be telling them what to think.”

            “Someone’s going to,” Phil said. “Do you want television and their friends to tell them what to think? Isn’t whoever wrote that Witchcraft book telling Katie what to think? It’s our job to protect these kids from negative influences like that one. She isn’t old enough or wise enough to decipher through the bullshit.”

            “You’re taking it too far,” Lina said, forcing down the annoyance she could feel building in her chest. “It isn’t saying we shouldn’t guide them. It’s saying we shouldn’t control them to the point where they lose their own inner direction.”

            “You want her to follow her own inner direction? Left on own she has mutilated her body with piercings, chosen clothes more suitable for a freak show than proper society, willingly left one of the best high school in the area, and now wants to be a Goddamn witch. I think her own inner direction is warped and as her parents it’s our responsibility to bring her back in line. Jesus Christ, Lina, what kind of adult to you think she’s going to be if we don’t intervene? At this rate, she’ll make your mother and sisters look normal.”

            Lina fell onto her back and pulled the comforter over her head. “You’re impossible to talk to. You twist everything to fit your argument.”

            “No,” Phil began as he rolled onto his side. “You just don’t like what I have to say.” He pulled the comforter down from her face. “You want me to agree with you.”

            “That’s not true. I want you to see the validity to some of the points in the book. You don’t agree with one part, so you discount the whole thing.”

            “Do you know why you like this book so much?” When after several seconds she didn’t answer he continued. “Because it strikes a nostalgic cord in you – this is your mother’s parenting style and look how well that turned out.”

            “First of all, that isn’t true. That book talks extensively about setting boundaries and having rules, which we both know my childhood lacked – and secondly, stop attacking my family.”

            “Hey,” he said lightly propping himself up on his elbow as he looked down at her. “Don’t get angry. You asked me to read the book and I did. It isn’t fair for you to get upset with me for not agreeing with the author.”

            “I just want you to see there are other philosophies on child rearing and just because your parents raised you a certain way it doesn’t mean it’s right or the only way.”

            “I’m well aware of that – but to be fair, look how my siblings turned out compared to yours. They have successful careers and families. The same can’t be said about your sisters. We both know who was given the better foundation.”

            “You spent more time at my house than your own the last two years of high school,” Lina said frowning up at him. “You couldn’t stand to be in you stifling home. Is that the kind of environment you want here?”

            “No.” He shook his head. “I think between the two of us we’ve found the right balance and it’s worked very well for two of our three children. And I’m not willing to throw out our game plan and adapt to someone else’s because Katie is more challenging. She doesn’t make the rules here, we do.”

            “Maybe she needs her own manual. She’s different.”

            Phil watched the movement of his fingers as he gently pushed her hair back from her forehead. “I realize that,” he said breathing in deeply. “And I’ve accepted it, but we still need to prepare her for the world – this world, not some make believe world.”

            “My mom lives in the real world and so do my sisters and I think we may have to face the fact that Katie may be more like them than she is us.”

            “What are you saying, Lina?”

            “I think we should let her dabble in the occult, if that’s what she wants. She isn’t breaking any laws or physically hurting herself.”

            “I don’t agree.”

            “It’s what the psychiatrist says. She’ll be seventeen. I don’t want to lose her. A Katie with strange beliefs is better than no Katie isn’t it?”

            “I don’t know.”

            “Don’t say that. You love my mom and sisters, don’t you?”

            He shook his head. “I think your mom is insane.”

            “But you love her.”

            “I’ve already lost, haven’t I? You’ve decided with the help of your mother and the damn psychiatrist – what I say doesn’t matter.”

            “That isn’t true.” She reached out and cupped the side of his jaw. “I’m discussing it with you. But at her age I don’t think we can control what she reads and what she believes. It’s too late.”

            “I don’t want any of it in this house – none of the books or any of it. It’s all staying at your mom’s. And I’m going to talk to her and tell her what I think.”

            “You need to make sure she knows you love her, regardless of what she does.”

            “I do love her regardless of what she does.”

            “But if you’re going to criticize what she does it’s important she knows you aren’t rejecting her.”

            “Got it,” he said turning from her and reaching for his light. “I’m tired. Good night.” He pulled the comforter up over his shoulder.

            “Phil?” She rolled towards him. “Don’t be mad.”

            “You’ve got what you want. Isn’t that enough?”

            “It’s not what I want. It’s what she wants.” She ran her hand over his shoulder. “I want the same thing you do. I don’t like the occult either, but we can’t sensor everything she does – she isn’t a child anymore.”

“Goodnight, Lina.”

            They hadn’t made love since Tuesday night and she had no desire to tonight, but she had been down this road before and she promised herself she wouldn’t let outside interferences come between them. She curled her body against the back of his, her hand moving around his waist to his stomach and then still lower. “I need you,” she whispered.

Phil after being scratched after the office and family scenes…

“Are you finished?” Phil asked hours later as the family sat at the kitchen table having dinner.

            Lina nodded. “Yes.”

            “You two clean up,” he said eliciting a moan from Katie and Megan as he pushed back his chair. “Your mom is taking a walk with me.”

            “Should I change?” She was wearing linen pants and a sleeveless silk top, sandals on her feet.

            “You’re fine. It’s not for exercise.” He led her outside and then down the stairs to the pool deck below. “Let’s go to the pond,” he said as he took her hand. “I don’t want to be overheard.”

            He seemed preoccupied during dinner and Lina became concerned something serious was wrong. “What’s going on?” she asked as she stopped about twenty yards from the pond, the sound of frogs permeating the air.

            “We’re almost there.”

            “I want to know what’s going on,” she said. “Tell me.”

            “Kim attacked me today.”

            “Attacked you,” she repeated her eyes narrowing. “What do you mean?”

He undid the knot of his tie before unbuttoning the first several buttons of his shirt and then he was opening it to reveal three scratches starting at his collar bone and running several inches down his chest. 

“Oh my God,” she whispered stepping towards him, her fingers lightly touching the wounded skin. “I can’t believe she did that.”

“Believe it.”

“How did she do this through your shirt?”

“She didn’t. She practically ripped my shirt off me. There isn’t an employee at the firm that doesn’t know something inappropriate occurred between the two of us. Those that missed Saturday night definitely didn’t miss today. ”

“She did this in front of people?” She continued to run her fingers over his skin.

“She was in my office, but she was loud and the door was open.”

“Why? Why was she so angry?”

He lifted his eyebrows as he rocked back on his feet. “You hit her, Lina. You called her a whore in front of two hundred people.”

“We were in the middle of the dance floor. Barely anyone was watching.”

“Barely anyone was enough. Everyone and I mean everyone at that wedding knew what happened.” He stepped around her and continued to the pond.

“I’m sorry for that part,” Lina said following. “I wish I hadn’t done it in front of people.”

“I wish you hadn’t done it at all,” he said his hands pushed into his pockets as he stared out over the pond. “She wants to hurt you back now.”

“Hurt me back? She doesn’t think being pregnant with my husband’s baby hurts enough?”

            “Apparently not.” He continued to stare into the water. “She was escorted out of the office. She won’t be back. From this point forward we will communicate through attorneys. If she tries to contact you, I want you to hang up the phone. If you receive a package, don’t open them.”

            “What would she send me?”

            “Pictures,” he said turning to face her. “She’s threatened to send you pictures.”

            “What are the pictures of?”

            “Us, I suppose. I don’t know.” 

            “You don’t know,” she repeated. “If you don’t know, how can there be pictures?”

            “She claims she has pictures. Candid shots of us together.”

            “Taken by who?” Lina asked, crossing her arms over her chest. “Who would have taken these pictures?”

            “I don’t know. Why is this important?”

            “Because it is. Who took them?”

            “I haven’t seen them. She’s probably bluffing.”

            “Are they sex pictures?” She suddenly had an image of them together.

            “No! Absolutely not!”

            She watched him struggling to maintain his temper and realized she was playing right into Kim’s hands. Kim wanted them to fight and that’s exactly what she was letting happen. “I won’t look at them.” 

            He exhaled deeply and his whole body appeared to relax. 

            “Just tell me if I know everything?”

            “You do. I’ve told you everything.”

            “What are we going to tell the kids about those?” she asked nodding towards his scratches.

            “I don’t know.” He pulled open his shirt and looked down at his chest. “What does it look like?”

            She tilted her head as she examined the scratches. “It looks like you’ve been scratched by a woman with nails.” She felt a rush of anger at the nerve of the woman. “We’ll tell them I did it.”

            “That you scratched me?” He pulled his eyebrows together.

            “Do you have a better idea?”

            “No, but I’m not going to let them believe you scratched me.”

            “We have to say something. Unless you plan to wear your shirt buttoned up your neck for the rest of the summer, they’re impossible to miss.” 

            “No.” He shook his head.

            “Phil, we have to say something.”

            “I’m not going to let them believe you got violent with me.”

            “But I did get violent with you,” she pointed out her eyes moving to the pink scar below his eye. “I scarred you. I scarred you and then a week later I hit Kim and now Kim has scarred you.” She shook her head. “Who are we?”

            “It’s my fault.”

            “I’m a mother and I’m resorting to physical violence. Nick Drayton is right, I should be on medication.” She realized her error as soon as the words left her mouth.

            “You told him? You told him you hit me?” The muscles in his face tightened, his jaw clenched.

            “I saw him at the tryout the next day. I was upset – he’s a doctor.” 

            “Did you tell him about Kim?” he asked his eyes boring into hers. “Did you?” 

            “I needed to talk to someone. I–.”

            “Jesus Christ, Lina!” He pushed his hands back through his hair and squeezed his head. “What in the fuck were you thinking?”

            “I wasn’t. I was hurt.”

            “Of all the Goddamn people you could have told, it had to be him!” He threw his arms to his side. “We’re done with him. Professionally and personally.” He turned on his heel and headed back towards the house.

            “What does that mean?” Lina asked running to catch up to him. 

“It means Katie isn’t going to see him again. It means Logan isn’t going to see him again – that’s what it means.”

            “Phil, stop!” Lina said gripping his arms. “We need to finish this conversation.”

            “It’s finished,” he snarled, pulling his arm from hers and continuing towards the house. “The moment you let him into our personal relationship, his interactions with our children ceased.”

            “We can’t just rip Katie away from him,” she said jogging to keep up. “We’re going to transition to the new doctor, but she still needs to –.”

            “No,” he interrupted. “It’s done.” He roughly began to button his shirt, not slowing his stride. “Either you cancel or I will, but it’s going to be canceled.”

            “Think about Katie.”

            “I’m thinking about this family,” he bit out. “And he isn’t good for this family.”

            She followed him through the yard and then into the garage, struggling to keep up with his longer strides. 

            “I’m going for a run,” he said as soon as they entered the house. Megan who was standing at the sink scrubbing a pot and Logan who was leaned back against the counter beside her looked from Phil to Lina.

            “Can I go?” Megan asked.

            “No,” Phil said not slowing his stride.

            Lina crossed  to the sink. “I’ll take over. You guys have done enough thank you.” She touched Megan’s arm. “I’ve got it.”

             “What’s wrong with Dad?” Megan asked stepping back from the sink. “Are you guys fighting again?”

            “No,” Lina said.

            “Then why’s he upset?”

            “Just don’t worry about it.”

            They were still in the kitchen when Phil entered the room several minutes later in shorts, running shoes and a t-shirt. “Who scratched you?” Megan asked.

            Lina turned from the sink, her eyes immediately focusing on the nail marks clearly visible on Phil’s collar bone. “I–.”

            “Someone at work,” Phil interrupted. “I fired her today and she attacked me.”

            “Oh my God.” Megan was in front of him pulling down his shirt so she could see the entire length of the scratches. “She must be crazy.”

            “She was angry,” he said removing her hand from his chest as he stepped around her. “I’ll be back.” He left through the mudroom door.

            “Someone scratched him?” Logan turned to Lina. “That’s not normal is it?”

            “Of course not,” Lina said as she scrubbed the pot.

            “What did he do to her?”

            “He fired her. She was upset and she lost control.”

            “No, I mean what did he do after she attacked him? What if she comes back with a gun?” Logan asked. “That’s what happened last week in California. That guy had lost his job so he came back and killed people.”

            “Women don’t do that,” Megan said. “Only men show up with guns.”

            “You don’t know that,” Logan insisted. “Just because it hasn’t happened yet, doesn’t –.”

            “No one is showing up with a gun,” Lina snapped, slamming the pot into the sink. “Please just drop it!” She turned off the water and left the room, Megan and Logan staring after her.

Twenty minutes later she sunk down into the oval tub in her bathroom, the warm water providing the comfort she craved. She couldn’t believe she slipped and told Phil about Nicholas  Drayton. He would never get past it. He would never agree to let Katie see him again. And yet she knew it wasn’t fair or wise to pull Katie away from him without a transition. Katie trusted him. He had connected with her and brought her back. She shivered at the memory of the scars on her butt. Nicholas Drayton had saved Katie and instead of being grateful Phil couldn’t see past his insane delusions.

  She pictured the scratches on Phil’s chest, another reminder of Kim. She knew she should regret hitting her, but she couldn’t. She had never felt such hate for another person. She couldn’t recall ever actually feeling hate before. She didn’t know how she would ever face his colleagues again. 

“Mom?” Logan’s voice preceded a light knock on the bathroom door.

“I’m in the bathtub, honey.”

“Are you okay?” he asked, the door between them muffling his voice.

“I’m fine,” she called back. “Just tired.”

“Sorry, I upset you.”

“You didn’t upset me. I was just upset someone scratched Dad.” At least that was true. “I love you. Thanks for checking on me.”

“I love you, too,” he called out and then he was gone.

            “How did Logan get home today?”

            Lina opened her eyes to find Phil standing beside the tub, his hands on his hips, his breathing heavy, the material of his t-shirt clinging to his chest, sweat running down the sides of his face. “You’ve already asked Logan, haven’t you?”

            “I want to hear your answer?” He wiped the back of his hand over the sweat dripping down his cheek.

            Lina leaned towards the edge of the tub and blew out the few candles she’d lit. “I picked him up.”

            “At Drayton’s house.” It wasn’t a question and when she didn’t answer he continued, “He lives ten minutes from my office.”

            “I know.” She came to her feet. “I was there, remember?” She stepped out of the tub and reached around him for a towel.

            “How long were you there?”

            She shrugged. “Not long. Maybe fifteen minutes.” She began to run the towel over her wet body.

            “Were you alone with him?”

            Lina’s eyes focused on his chest as she continued to towel herself off. “You came home with a claw mark down your chest from a woman we both know you fucked and you’re questioning me?” She shook her head. “You’re unbelievable.” She tried to step around him, but his hand snaked out and took her wrist.

            “Answer me.”

            “No, I’m not going to answer you. You’re being ridiculous. And why are you gripping me like that?” Her eyes focused on the hand firmly holding her wrist.

He released his hold on her. “I didn’t want you walking away.”

“If I want to walk away I should be able to walk away without you forcibly preventing it.” She wrapped the towel around her body, securing it above her breasts.

“I’m sorry.” He ran his hands back through his already disheveled hair, the material of his t-shirt stretching across his broad chest. “I don’t want you around him.”

“I know you don’t, but someone had to pick up him and considering your feelings for Dr. Drayton, I thought I was the better choice.”

“What did you talk about?”

She shook her head. “We’re not doing this. I’m allowed to have a conversation with Katie’s doctor or the father of Logan’s friend or anyone else I like without being questioned, because I am loyal to you.” She tapped him on the chest. “So put the green monster away.” She left the bathroom and moments later felt his presence behind her. “I’m serious, Phil.”

“He’s in love with you, Lina. And now that he knows what I did, he probably feels justified in pursuing you.”

She sighed as she turned to face him. “First of all, you’re wrong. But second and more importantly, for some strange reason, I can’t stop loving you, so,” she paused as she shrugged, “it’s a moot point.”

“Don’t cancel Friday’s appointment.”

“Why not?” She knew him well enough to know he wasn’t going to change his mind about Katie seeing him.

“Because, I want to talk to him.”

“That’s a terrible idea. This is a person we are going to run into often over the next four years.”

“And that’s exactly why I want to talk to him.” Without waiting for a reply he turned and went back into the bathroom. Moments later she heard the spray of the shower.

            She was going to have to warn Nicholas she realized, because there was no way she was going to be able to change Phil’s mind.

            Lina was already in bed when Phil came into the bedroom a little after 11 p.m. She’d been down earlier, more for Logan’s benefit than anything else. She knew she upset him earlier and wanted to make sure he knew she was okay. After watching one sitcom she made her way back to the bedroom, leaving Phil with Megan and Logan.

            She felt the mattress dip down as Phil stretched out beside her. She was curled on her side facing away from him.  

            “Are you awake?” His deep voice penetrated the silence.

            “Yes.” She rolled onto her back and then she was looking up at him.

            “I know you think I’m being paranoid when it comes to Drayton, but you’re going to have to trust me.”

            The moonlight from the window illuminated half his face and she ran her fingers down the shadowed side. “I don’t want him,” she whispered. 

            “Lina –.”

            “Shh,” she interrupted, sliding her hand around to the back of his neck. “Stop talking.” 

            As she sat at the kitchen table sipping her coffee the following morning her thoughts went to Nicholas Drayton. She needed to call him. She needed to tell him what happened with Phil and apologize in advance for whatever was going to happen on Friday. She also needed to find out what to do about transitioning Katie to a new doctor. She would be honest with him and let him decide what was best for Katie. She knew he only had Katie’s best interest in mind and regardless of Phil’s desire she would following the doctor’s advice.

            She looked up as Katie came into the room. “Good morning,” she said forcing herself to sound more cheerful than she felt. “You’re up early.” She was wearing all black and her piercings, but only a light amount of makeup.

            “Grandma’s picking me up at 8:30 a.m.,” she said as she made a beeline for the coffee.

            “8:30?” Lina repeated, surprised. Alice wasn’t normally a morning person.  “Why so early?” 

            “We’re going to a meeting in Annapolis. It’s a breakfast meeting.”

            Lina frowned. “You’re going to her astrology meeting?” Alice was a member of as astrological group that met in Annapolis.

            “Not the one she normally goes to. This is one especially for me.” She finished pouring her coffee and turned with a cup in her hand. “I’m going to learn to be an astrologer.”

            Lina sat back in her chair. “Since when?”  

            She shrugged. “A while. She had me read some books and I finished, so now I’m going to start my lessons.”

            “Why is this the first I’m hearing about it?” She struggled to keep her voice calm.

            “It’s my first meeting.” She sat down in one of the chairs perpendicular to Lina’s. “It’s a six month program. We’ll meet every Tuesday. Once school starts we’ll do it on Saturdays.”

            For the first time in months Lina could hear enthusiasm in her voice and as much as she knew she needed to she couldn’t bring herself to burst Katie’s bubble. But she knew there was no way Phil was going to allow her to go to astrology lessons. And if she was being honest with herself, she knew she didn’t want her to go either. As far as she was concerned, the occult brought nothing but unhappiness to the Rayburn family. It drove their father away and it certainly hadn’t helped her sister’s lives. Neither Shilo nor Adele could make a decision without calling their mother to find out the astrological implications. And now Shilo was quitting a good job to become a full-time psychic.

            Alice was the only person Katie didn’t withdraw from during what Lina now thought of as the Katie’s dark period – the time she wouldn’t come out of her room and interact with friends or family. Lina encouraged the relationship with her grandmother knowing how important it was for Katie to have someone she could confide in. She wondered now if she made an error. She had allowed her mother to fill Katie’s mind with her unconventional beliefs. She couldn’t imagine Phil’s reaction.

            “Grandma said if you’re good you can do it as a profession,” Katie was saying when Lina brought her mind to the present. “That’s what I want to do.”

            “I was wondering if you were still alive,” Alice said several hours later as she stopped beside Lina who was cutting flowers from a hydrangea bush.

            “Hi, Mom.” She wiped her hands on her jean shorts as she stood up.

            “I tried to call you three times yesterday. Did you get my messages?” She was dressed in a long flowing rainbow colored tie-dyed skirt and a red sleeveless blouse, her sunglasses pushed back on her head.

            “I wasn’t in the mood to talk,” Lina answered. She looked towards the house. “Where’s Katie.”

            “Inside, well out of hearing range. I hear the other woman took her claws to Phil yesterday.”

            Lina’s eyes flew to her mother. “Who told you that?”

            “You didn’t expect me to believe the disgruntled employee story did you?” She threw one her hands up in the air. “Only a woman who feels spurned by a lover would resort to such a thing.”

            “I don’t want to talk about this with you,” Lina said turning back to the bushes. “I told Adele in confidence – clearly that was a mistake.”

            “Don’t be so hard on her. She was extremely upset and she couldn’t hold it in.”

            “Oh?” Lina turned back to her mother. “She was extremely upset? I’m sure it’s very hard on her, knowing my husband is having a baby with another woman.”

            “Sarcasm doesn’t suit you.”

            “Sorry, it’s either that or cry.”

            “I know this is hard on you, but you’ll get through it. And you’ll be stronger as a result. It’s just one of those little bumps in the road.”

            Lina raised her eyebrows as she stared at her mother. “Bumps in the road? That’s what you call this? A little bump in the road? Another woman is having his baby. I think that qualifies as more than a bump in the road.”

            “You’re being melodramatic. You’ve always been melodramatic. Another woman is having his baby, so what? He isn’t leaving you. He’s still your husband. He’s still going to be your children’s father. No one’s dying.”

            She shook her head. “You are the only person on earth who would downplay something like this.”

            “If you were Muslim and living in the Middle East no one would raise an eyebrow.”

            “I don’t know if that’s true, but it hardly applies.”

            “My point is that you’re making it bigger than it is. You’re giving it too much of your energy.”

            “This is bad, Mom. This is really bad.”

            “It’s only bad if you say it is.”

            “Well, I say it is,” she said crossing her arms over her chest. “And I’m sure ninety-nine percent of the women in this country would agree with me.”

            “Maybe that’s why we have such a high divorce rate – all these ridiculous expectations we hold people to.”

            “I don’t think expecting my husband not to impregnate another woman is a ridiculous expectation,” Lina fumed. “I can’t believe I’m even arguing with you about this. Your thinking is completely warped.” She turned back to the flowers and began cutting them and tossing them into a basket on the ground.

            “Lina, come sit with me. I want to tell you something.”

            Lina closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Mom, I know you mean well but I can’t talk about this with you.”

            “Just humor me,” she said touching Lina’s arm. “Please.” She walked over to a wrought iron bench placed beside a large oak tree several yards away.

            Lina thought about refusing but then found herself setting down her gardening scissors and joining her mother on the bench. “Please don’t say this isn’t a big deal, because to me it really is,” she said meeting her mother’s eyes. “My heart is broken.”  

            “I know.” Alice took her hand and squeezed it. “I know.” They sat their together in silence for a few minutes before Alice spoke again. “I don’t think I ever told you about the first time I met Phil, did I?”

            Lina lifted her eyes. “I don’t remember.”

            “The first time you brought him home,” she said, pausing as she shook her head, “I’ll never forget it. You introduced us and then disappeared upstairs to get something. He looked me straight in the eyes with those blue eyes of his – they sparkled then just like they do today. Anyway, he looked me in the eyes and told me he was going marry you one day.”

            “Really?” Lina smiled.

            “He did. You can ask him. I’m sure he remembers.” She squeezed Lina’s hand. “He was sixteen years old, had known you less than a week, but he knew.”

            Lina nodded a lump forming in her throat.

“And the sex. The two of you were like bunnies.”

“Mom!” Lina cried.

“I stopped using an alarm because he was there at the same time every morning,” she continued ignoring Lina’s protests, “and for some reason I never thought to oil your bed frame, so the squeaking woke me every morning. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. I swear that sound is etched in my memory.” She laughed.

            “Oh, God,” Lina covered her face. “Please tell me you made that up.” She couldn’t recall the bed squeaking.

            “Oh it’s true. Ask your sisters. I’m sure they remember.”

            “No, I’ll take your word for it.”

            “When I said this is just a bump in the road, I wasn’t trying to belittle what you’re feeling right now. I know you’re hurting, but I also know how insignificant this other person is in the totality of your relationship with him. The two of you are so much bigger than this. I’ve never seen two charts more in tune than yours and Phil’s. Everything just fits for the two of you. The compatibility, the attraction – it’s beyond compare. You couldn’t stay away from each other if you tried – you’ll always be pulled back. The attraction is too strong.”

            Lina stared out across the yard, her mother’s words ringing true in her head, not because she believed what she said about their charts, but because deep inside she too believed they were meant to be together.

“You need to forgive him. That’s the most important thing to putting this behind you.”

“It’s hard,” Lina whispered. “One minute I feel like I’ve forgiven him and then something happens and I’m angry all over again.”

“Anger and bitterness just fester and eat away at a relationship. He made a mistake. I’m sure he regrets it as much as you do.”

“He does,” Lina agreed.        

            “Frankly, I’m surprised he hasn’t strayed before now,” Alice said.

            “Excuse me?” She frowned at her mother.

            “He’s a man and a very virile man at that. I’m sure women are constantly offering themselves to him. And let’s face it – monogamy is not natural. Why we hold ourselves to such a ridiculous standard is beyond me.”

            “Maybe, because we’re not animals.”

            “Oh, nonsense.” Alice waved her hand forward. “We have so many rules and ideals. You can’t breathe without offending someone.”

            “I happen to agree with some of the rules.”

            “You were always so conservative,” Alice said patting her hand. “You must have got that from your father.”

            “I doubt that.”

            “And you need to forgive, Adele. She’s very upset. She’s afraid you’re never going to speak to her again.”

            “I’m not,” Lina said stubbornly. “Not about anything of substance. She betrayed my trust – it isn’t okay.”

            “She was upset. He is your husband, but your sisters think of him more as a brother. As crazy as it sounds to you, she feels let down, too.”

            “I’m sorry, but that doesn’t change the fact she intentionally shared something I specifically told her not to. I can’t trust her anymore.”  

            “Do you think keeping it secret will make it not true?”  

            “Of course not, but I need to protect my children. I don’t want them to find out from one of their cousins. Who else knows?”

            “Just your father.”

            “My father?” Lina shook her head. “Because he has a right to know something so personal about me.”

            “There’s the sarcasm again.”

            “I’m sorry, but do you really think he has a right to know? I don’t even know him. I don’t even want to know him.”

            Alice tilted her head slightly. “What are you afraid of?”

            “I’m not afraid of anything,” Lina said. “But regardless of what you decide, I have no interest in having a relationship with him.”

            “That’s unfortunate. You’re children really seemed to like him.”

            “Are you really planning to marry him again? After everything he did?” As crazy as her mom was at times, she couldn’t believe it was true.

            “What exactly do you think he did?” Alice asked her expression contemplative.

            “What do I think he did?” Lina repeated. “There’s no thinking. He left you to raise the three of us on your own. He may have sent money, but emotionally he abandoned us.”

            “He wasn’t mature enough to handle the separation,” Alice said. “I think you’d be pleased with the person he’s become.”

            “I don’t care who he’s become. Are you going to answer my question?”

            “What question was that?” She took the sunglasses from their perch over her head and placed them over her eyes.

            “Are you going to marry him?” Lina asked, frustration creeping into her voice.

            Alice shrugged. “I don’t know. The sex is very good – not like you and Phil of course, but very good.”

            “Please don’t talk about my sex life,” Lina said. “First of all it’s inappropriate and secondly you have no idea.”

            “I’ve looked at your charts, dear. I’ve been around the two of you for a quarter century. Your sexual chemistry is obvious. It’s always right there simmering under the surface for all to see. I’m sure your explosive together in the bedroom.”

            Lina closed her eyes. “Please, I beg you to stop.”

            “You really should get to know your father. You’re more alike than you realize. You’re both a bit prudish.”

            “So you’re not going to marry him?”

            “I didn’t say that – I’m still deciding. He doesn’t believe in astrology,” she admitted with a sigh. “I don’t know how you can actively not believe in something, but he does. He won’t even say there’s a possibility it’s true. He is so pig headed sometimes. I don’t know if I could be around someone on a daily basis that doesn’t believe in my life’s work.”

            “I don’t believe in it,” Lina said.

            “That isn’t true. You don’t want to believe in it, you don’t actively follow it, but you’re open minded enough to know there’s a possibility, however remote, it may be true. There’s a difference.”

            Lina contemplated her mother’s words. “You’re right.”

            “I need something to drink,” Alice said coming to her feet. “My throat is parched.”

            “Could we talk about Katie briefly first?”

            Alice resumed her seat. “What about her? I thought she was doing better. There haven’t been any more outbursts have there?”

            “No she’s better,” Lina sighed. “But you shouldn’t have organized this class you’re taking her to without discussing it with me first.”

            “Don’t make this bigger than it is. It’s just a hobby.”

            “It’s not a hobby Phil will let her pursue and now she’s all excited about it.”

            Alice shook her head. “There is no harm in her dabbling in the occult.”

            “That’s not your call to make,” Lina said. “And now we’re going to have to be the bad guys and stop her from doing it. Our relationship with her is already on very shaky ground.”

“Well then the solution is easy,” Alice said coming to her feet. “Don’t do it. I don’t need to remind you how bad off she was a year ago. I introduced her to this as a diversion and she’s having fun with it.”

“She said she wants to be a professional astrologer,” Lina said as she came to her feet. “That’s what she told me this morning.”

“And maybe she will be, but most likely not. For most of us, it’s just a hobby. I really need something to drink unless you want me to faint.”

“Sorry.” Lina gathered her basket of flowers and followed her mother towards the house.

“I know Phil thinks this is sacrilegious or some such nonsense, but that just isn’t true. You’ve been to the Vatican. Did you happen to notice all the astrological references when you were going through?”

“Yes,” Lina answered because she had. She’d even pointed them out to Phil. “He isn’t going to change his mind. I’m just going to have to figure out how to deal with this.”

“This rigid belief system the two of you share is stifling to someone creative like Katie. Why don’t you ask her psychiatrist what he thinks?”

Lina didn’t believe she had a rigid belief system, but she wasn’t going to argue with her mother. “We’ll continue you this later,” she said instead as they reached the pool.  

Alice was still visiting when Phil arrived home a few minutes past 6:00 p.m. “Hi,” his eyes went from Alice who was sitting at the kitchen island to Lina who was at the sink peeling shrimp.

“Hello, Phillip,” Alice said.

“Alice.” He nodded and then crossed to Lina. “Nice shorts,” he said, running his hand over the back of her upper thigh as he met her lips for a brief kiss.

Lina pushed his hand away, conscious of Alice’s peering eyes. “I was gardening earlier and didn’t have a chance to change.”

“I’m not complaining.” He attempted to touch her again, but she intercepted his hand.

“Stop,” she hissed under her breath.

 “Do I have time to swim before dinner?”

“You have an hour.”

“Who turned the temperature of the water up?” Phil bit out when he entered the kitchen forty-five minutes later. He was in dark bathing trunks with a towel draped loosely around his neck, two of the three scratch marks visible, his hair wet against his head. “Did you?” His eyes focused on Logan who was sitting beside Katie at the kitchen table.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?” Phil crossed to him. “Why don’t you know?”

“I don’t remember.” Logan dropped his eyes.

“Hey.” Phil tapped his under his chin. “Look at me when I’m talking to you.” He waited for Logan to lift his gaze to continue. “I turned the temperature down on Sunday evening. That was two days ago. Did you turn the temperature up yesterday or today?”

“No.” Logan shook his head.

Phil lifted his eyebrows. “So, Megan did it?”

“Yeah, I guess. She was in it earlier.”

“Well she ruined my swim,” he said before leaving the room.

“How come that was my fault?” Logan asked several seconds later. “Why does he always automatically blame me?”

“He was just upset because it messed up his swim,” Lina said.  

“It isn’t fair,” Logan mumbled pushing back his chair.

“Where are you going?” Lina asked.

“To watch TV.”

“Why is he so hard on him?” Alice asked as soon as Logan was out of the room. “Did you see his face? He’s afraid of him. He shouldn’t be afraid of his own father.”

“He isn’t afraid of him.”

“Yes he is,” Katie said. “He cries sometimes after Dad yells at him.”

“That’s because he’s upset. He isn’t afraid of him,” Lina insisted.  

“You’re too hard on him,” Lina said later that evening as she dabbed crème under her eyes.

“Too hard on who?” Phil asked with a mouth full of toothpaste.

“Logan – he’s sensitive.”

Phil spit his toothpaste into the sink and then rinsed out his mouth. “I’m not too hard on him. If anything, I’m too easy on him and you’re definitely too easy on him.” He wiped his mouth with a towel and tossed it back on the counter. “Stop listening to your mother. She has no clue what she’s talking about.” He turned to leave the room.

“Phil?”

He stopped in the doorway and turned back to her. “I’m not too hard on him.”

“Did you tell my mother you were going to marry me the first time you met her?”

The corners of his lips turned up. “I forgot about that. She remembered?”

“She did. She also has a memory of a squeaky bed. Do you?”

He smiled, his dimples cracking through on both side of his face. “That I’ve never forgotten. Your bed was very loud.”

She closed her eyes briefly, even after twenty-five years embarrassed at the thought. He came over every morning before school and she never realized anyone else knew. “How come I never realized it?”

He leaned against the doorsill. “Because you were busy making your own noises.”

“That isn’t true.”

“The hell it isn’t.”

“That isn’t true,” she insisted.

“Come here.” He held out his hand. “I’ll prove it.”

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400 comments on “A White Picket Fence — Deleted Scenes
  1. Laura says:

    Happy Easter 🙂 – to those of us who celebrate it! I just added a few scenes to to the blog!

    Janet — I don’t think there are any more scenes with Kim, but I’ll keep looking. I have many versions of WPF

    • Ann says:

      Laura, thank you for that last scene. I can’t get enough of Phil and Lina.
      It does seem like Phil is harder on Logan. Katie and Alice both felt that Logan was afraid of his Dad.
      I liked the part where Alice tells Lina how teenager Phil said he was going to marry Lina after knowing her one week. Phil does have a soft side at times. I would love to hear a psychologist’s take on Phil. Lol. What makes Phil tick? He is such a strong personality.

      • janet says:

        Ann, he certainly is a strong personality! messing with the water temperature comment made him sound like a big baby throwing a tantrum. I’m sure those claw marks are still throbbing. arggghhhh

    • janet says:

      How come I find Megan so funny? “She must be crazy.” So matter of fact. LOL. She is missing her empathy bone but lot of teenagers are this way no?
      “In the Middle East, no one would raise an eyebrow.” bahaha. FUNNY.
      Phil IS taking it out on Logan. Because he’s a boy? Katie is fragile and he dotes on Megan? Or because he was the one sitting there? And he keeps on saying Why is this important? I noticed this in WPF and SN too. Doesn’t he know Tracie and I wondered for months who took those pictures?? Lord!

      Do you guys think Alice ever did a chart with Kim and Phil? How was THEIR chemistry?

      Thank you Laura!!! We were supposed to have a bday party for my nephew yesterday but my mom made us cancel saying there is no way we can have a party on the day Jesus died on the cross(the party was planned 3 weeks ago). Cake was picked up, food was paid for etc. Instead, we will have it tomorrow when Jesus rose from the dead. Happy Easter!

  2. Tracie says:

    Good Morning Laura…I have a random question…In Chapter 7 of SN, when they were going over the pictures, Phil said he didn’t need to see the last picture of Steamboat. However, he would of deleted that picture right? Then I thought Lina might have deleted before the church scene she was at peace….

    • Laura says:

      Good afternoon! I think Lina deleted the picture that day — she wouldn’t want it on her phone anymore.

      As far as the Logan question — Phil and Logan had a couple of run-ins — they occurred before Lina kicked Phil out and they weren’t pleasant. Phil was in a bad mood because of everything that was going on with Lina and he wasn’t as patient as he should have been — I’m a little hesitant to share those scenes because he was an asshole. The editor did not cut them — I did — they just didn’t fit the final version of Phil’s personality.

      • Tracie says:

        Don’t share them then I trust you with my emotional well being Lol…. You know how I feel about my Logan….Hope all is well with you Laura…Has our Wilderness Girl come back from her hike yet? I remember you saying your friend would be back soon.

        • janet says:

          Good question Tracie! I don’t need the scene either. It’ll be sure to rile Tara and Hinata up. Laura are there any additional Phil- Kim, Lina- Kim scenes that you can share with us?🙂

          Miri, let us know if we can afford your stuff and if you have an online store! What a cool job you have!

          • Ann says:

            I would always welcome more scenes. However, I do not want to see a harsher Phil. Laura I think you gave him balance in your final books.

          • Tracie says:

            That scene tearing Kim up on the phone wanting him to go to prenatal stuff, Wow she was living in a dream world..I can see him doing that with our sweet Lina though….

            Laura is there a deleted scene where she took Phil back before Christmas? Kim would of had Liam at that time too!

        • Laura says:

          My friend had been back for a couple of months, but she disappeared again to do a shorter hike. LOL

          • Tracie says:

            Damn she must have legs like tree trunks to do that much hiking…I really hope her ex is finding her adventures LOL…You know I have that little bit of revenge girl in me….

          • Tracie says:

            Funding not finding…Lol

      • Tara says:

        Laura, if you’re hesitant, they must be bad, yikes! And, I love Logan, some of the scenes in SN were tough enough.

        Ladies, If I don’t get on before tomorrow, have a Blessed Easter!

  3. Tracie says:

    Hi Girls, it looks like you have been busy today….Katie I agree with what you said about my Phil he’s an alpha give him reign and if need be pull back on the reigns just a little to slow him down…I would take him in a minute…Lol…

    Laura I loved both books just the way they are…but do enjoy these deleted scenes…Was there a scene when Lina let Phil come home where Logan and Phil had a moment?

  4. Ann says:

    Good afternoon ladies!

    Laura, I’ve got a question. Between WPF and SN, which book had the most original scenes deleted. I’m just curious.
    I know while you were writing SN, this blog was up and running and all of us fans were trying to put our two cents in, which wasn’t the case with WPF.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Ann — I don’t think I deleted any scenes from SN — I added scenes after the first draft.

      WPF — I basically rewrote the entire book. Most of the scenes were new. In the original Phil was more controlling and much harder on Logan, Lina was more bitter (lots of crying scenes) and Katie was Gothic with piercings. We only had Lina’s POV so we didn’t see Katie’s relationship with Matt — all of that was new. Megan was worse. Logan, Alice and Adele were the same.

      • Ann says:

        Even though I love the deleted scenes, it takes nothing away from your final masterpiece. I can’t imagine Phil more controlling. I still love that man! Flaws and all!

  5. Hinata says:

    Laura I’m sorry..sometimes I may really annoy you’ll by always making hate comments on Phil … you know I’m the eldest daughter in our home,my father is exactly like Phil in bossing around his children..even though he gave us great advice and supported us financially…their was no much freedom in my house…I always infuriated him a lot..we fought almost everyday
    So usually I relate myself to Phil’s children and react…I don’t mean to hurt anyone…

    • Miri says:

      I grew up in much the same kind of household, except I’m the middle child lol…oh and before I forget, to anyone celebrating a holiday this weekend, have a healthy safe and happy holiday!! 😊❤️🎈

      • janet says:

        Are you an appraiser? I saw on goodreads you went to GIA. My first job out of college was at Bonhams & butterfield in the jewelry dept.

        Hinata, that was a sweet post. Thanks for sharing

        • Hinata says:

          Thankyou Janet 😃

        • Miri says:

          Hi Janet! Yes I studied gemology, jewelry arts and design at GIA…I used to do appraisals (one of my first jobs in the industry) but for many years now I just design…I used to go up to LA a lot when I lived in Carlsbad…did you grow up in that area?

          Hinata — 😘!

      • Hinata says:

        Thankyou miri😊

    • Laura says:

      Hinata — it sounds like we had the same father LOL. Only there is NO way any of us would have fought with him — his word was final.

  6. Katie says:

    Ok I think I’m caught up on the scenes. I love Phil. I get him. You can’t take anything he says too seriously. Let him believe he’s in control and everything is OK.
    I’ve been lost in a book the last few days- Swan Lake LB Alexander. SO.good. Highly recommend!

  7. Hinata says:

    Beyond the Breakup: Understanding Your Ex-Boyfriend from The Male Perspective
    Anyone read this book?found pretty good review s on it..

  8. Hinata says:

    “…A Katie with strange beliefs is better than no Katie isn’t it?”
    “I don’t know.”

    How could he say that…😡😡
    Doesn’t he miss his child if she were totally lost..does that question even require a thought..he is so selfish and even manipulative in some scenes … that’s why i couldn’t come to like Phil that much..
    I love Katie so much…💞
    Why can’t he just let her be..eventhough he finally gave in…

    • Laura says:

      He didn’t say that — it’s a deleted scene and it was deleted for a reason.

      • Tara says:

        I was just going to say… “Hinata, honey, take a deep breathe, the scene was deleted, it’s all good.” 🙂

        I’m enjoying the deleted scenes. In some ways it gives greater insight into the characters and in other ways you can see why they were deleted.

      • Hinata says:

        Oops!I almost forgot that😅😅😅
        I too am enjoying these scenes a lot..

        From now onwards I’ll definitely take deep breaths after reading the deleted scene…thanks Tara😁😂😂

  9. Tracie says:

    Laura we’ve said it from the start Phil is Phil…I love these deleted scenes and it just proves our man is consistent in all things…Thank you sweetie for giving us more insight into the Hunter’s…It’s always AWESOME…….

    • janet says:

      Hi! I’m posting Miri’s question here. I loved Katie’s version of Tony on Pinterest so maybe I can see JKF jr. as his son? I think Jr. was a bit too soft spoken for me and in my head Jackie O, then Carolyn(his wife) were the alphas in his life. LOL. He also failed the NY bar 3x! So, I can’t for Tony. I’m sorry! But nobody likes my choices so you are probably right. My fantasy man since I was 16 is Tommy Lee Jones so don’t mind me. haha. I think young Clive Owen, or Ciaran Hinds work too. uh what do I know.

      Also, Tara, you won’t like The Mister. I liked it but the MC has this weird inner dialogue thats very girly. Definitely off putting for alpha lovers. I’m going to check out Katie’s rec. Swan Lake and Tracie’s Unbreak My Heart this weekend.

      • Tara says:

        Ugh!!

        I hate bad inner monologues! Alphas with weak inner monologues, they’re not real alphas, what would you call them?? The only thing worse when alphas have girly sharing moments with other alphas? What is that?

        You’re left wondering if the writer even knows an alpha or is it their weird fantasy of what an alpha is.

        Just remember Shane is going to piss you off for the first 10 or 11 chapters of Unbreak My Heart.

        • Laura says:

          Any inner dialogue from a male written by a female is the writer’s fantasy — I don’t like inner dialogue period. Readers wanted Phil’s POV but I didn’t enjoy writing it. Men don’t think like women. Writing his thoughts didn’t feel authentic to me. Having said that a wimpy H in a novel is a huge pass for me!

          • Tara says:

            Laura, you did an amazing job telling SN from Phil’s POV, I never considered how difficult it might be for a woman to tell a story from a male POV and vice versa. I think I’ll have a new appreciation for this going forward.

            I totally get that the inner dialogue would be fantasy, but I think there needs to be consistency between the inner and outer dialogue or at least a balance otherwise the writer risks having the characters appear wispy washy or weak.

            I’m not talking about self doubt and inner conflict, because I think everyone has this, I don’t expect an alpha man to sound like an introverted girl in an inner monologue.

          • Laura says:

            thanks Tara. I observe men all the time and Phil is a composite of many men I know — how they think, however, is a mystery to me. I know they don’t think like women — at all. Did you ever read the book Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus — I don’t know if it’s really possible to understand someone that is so different than we are.

          • Tara says:

            You must know some complex men as Phil is certainly interesting and complex!

            I have not read Mars/Venus. I probably should as maybe I might not have had a screaming match with my OTT alpha husband over the phone this morning. We’ll get over it LOL 😆

      • Miri says:

        ooooh Janet, yes, I love Clive Owen 😍

  10. Laura says:

    I just added some more scenes — nothing too exciting 😘

    • Miri says:

      Thank you Laura, can’t wait to read them!! 😀❤️

      • Miri says:

        Alice is so awesome, and Phil is so stodgy! Lolll …thank you so much for the extra scenes Laura, always so exciting to read more about the Hunters! 🙏❤️

    • Tara says:

      As always these scenes give further insight to the characters.

      Thank you.

    • Ann says:

      Wow Laura! These deleted scenes are so good. I just can’t get enough of Phil. He won’t bend. He is so stubborn!
      I can see both sides. Phil is the drill sergeant with the strict rules while Lina will try anything to get Katie back.

    • janet says:

      These scenes were so good Laura. Their interaction was fantastic. I could see both sides and OMG, I agreed with Phil. The topic of military school comes up once in awhile between my husband and son so I wondered…Anyway all these deleted scenes made me realize something. You shouldn’t listen to the editor nor your readers! You write from your gut or instinct or what have you and since the characters write themselves mostly that’s what I want. Your undiluted unswayed written word! The scenes were delicious!!😘

  11. Laura says:

    Hello Ladies!
    I’m going to answer several questions here —

    Terry — As far as Phil saying, sorry but… I don’t think he can win. Lina and readers want an explanation for his behavior — isn’t that an excuse? Simply saying sorry which he did countless times in WPF wasn’t enough. When he adds a reason, he’s accused of making excuses. What is he supposed to say? He did it and can’t undo it.

    Tara — interesting that you read the book out of order. I never even considered that. I think if the scene in the bedroom had been included in WPF there may not have been a reason for the sequel — except to see how they cope with Liam. I never planned to write a sequel but I think it was necessary because after the edits there were too many questions.

    Janet — LOL no I don’t think Phil ever considered military school for Katie — I can’t even imagine.

    Miri — When Alice said you’ll come back and do it all again if you don’t learn a lesson — I think the lesson is that you don’t give up on your marriage — you just work it out — don’t run away. I had actually never really thought about it — that scene kind of wrote itself and that’s how my mom always talked to me.

    And someone asked how I write — and yes in the first draft I’m just in it like the rest of you. The story unfolds before me. I have a general idea where I’m going but what the characters say and do is always a surprise to me. After the draft I go back through and fill in any holes and sometimes add some foreshadowing.

    • Tara says:

      It may seem strange, but I never completely DNF a book. I’ll either skim, skip forward, or go to the end. If I read the end and it seems promising, I’ll either go back to where I’d stopped or skip backwards.

      WPF was the first of Laura’s books that I read. Immediately I loved her writing voice and style, but everything about Phil pissed me off… the affair and it’s length, the pregnant ex, the apologies that he seemed to simply expect to be accepted. Cheating books are hard, as a reader you have to believe the forgiveness is possible, and I didn’t think I’d get past it. And then I read the last few chapter and those crazy Hunters hooked me.

      • Hinata says:

        I exactly do the same thing as you Tara..I skim the book..only if I find it interesting while reading in between I read the entire book
        ..

    • Terry says:

      Thank you, Laura for the new scenes. All I have to say is “Thank you Sweet baby Jesus” for Swimming Naked. Phil is redeemed and I don’t want to punch him in the face. We had to have WPF in order to see his whole journey, I suppose. That is some good writing to evoke these type of emotions! BTW, I thought of Tony as
      an older Henry Cavil. Have a great evening, ladies!

  12. Hinata says:

    I love Katie soo much…I couldn’t stop laughing when she enterd Lina and Phil’s bedroom and disturbed their slumber😂😂😂😂
    Katie rocks..!!\m/
    Alice is such a cool grandma..
    Loved the scene Laura..thankyou so much😁

    • Ann says:

      Hinata, I agree with you!! I think Alice loves to stir up Phil. She knows how much he loves to control his family and she’s this grandma hippie chick. Lol
      Katie is a great character too.

    • Miri says:

      Omg ladies!!! I’m a the LCBO (the liquor stores in Toronto) and I literally just saw Phil Hunter pay for his haul!!! Aaaaaa!!! He saw me staring so I couldn’t take his picture like a crazed fan!!! I wanted to somehow post it on here 😩and he was GORGEOUS and SEXY!!!!! (But dressed a bit odd for Phil I must say) 🤣😂….so anyway what’s he doing in Toronto??

      • Laura says:

        LOL — I saw him running at the beach last summer! This is the first spotting since!

      • janet says:

        I wanna see Miri!! I can never visualize Phil to my satisfaction. I love Jason stathem but he’s not Phil in looks. And every actor I like Katie and Laura dislike. Too bad phil was in Toronto and not in LA. ha

        • Miri says:

          Janet — gonna stalk that particular location in case he shows up again, and I’ll have my phone camera ready — I swear it was him! Hot damn! hahaha

          • Miri says:

            Oh and another thing, the whole time I was reading a Sense of Belonging, I kept picturing the late John F. Kennedy Jr. as Tony…the way he looked in the mid to late 90’s..what do you ladies think?

  13. Laura says:

    Just added a new scene to the end of the deleted scene post — it’s with Katie…

    • Tracie says:

      Okay I would be freaked to if my kid came screaming into my room at 1am about a bible….But Lina was right in stopping Phil from confronting Katie…That would of of made her launch at Phil and it would of been a bad situation…I love Alice and wholeheartedly agree with her explanation and advice to Lina it’s just a phase…

      • Tracie says:

        Laura for the record, the comment Phil made about the Baxter’s dog made me laugh really loud….LOL I can so see him saying something like that…..It just killed me…

    • Ann says:

      Loved it Laura.

      I see in this version Katie is wearing all black. Megan is her typical self-centered person. Alice is always refreshing to read. She’s never let Phil walk over her.
      I love how you bring some humor in your scenes. Lina trying to get Phil to promise not to go after Katie at 1:00 in the morning.

      I love these scenes.

    • janet says:

      I loved it too! I like Megan. Everything that comes out her mouth is funny. I don’t really take her seriously so that could be the reason. She reminds me tiny bit of my somewhat self absorbed son. Thanks for that scene Laura. Do you think Phil ever thought of military school to get Katie out of her depression/funk instead of a therapist?

      • Ann says:

        Janet, and you know what is crazy, Katie is the grounded Hunter child in SN. She accepts Liam immediately where the other two both have issues with Phil’s other child.

        • janet says:

          You are right Ann. She has Alice in her blood and sees Liam as just Liam and not as Phil’s betrayal. And all said and done Nick did help her heal. She loves him for that. Even gave Rumi to Liam.

          • Tracie says:

            I love Katie too! It was hilarious when she informed Phil and Megan in SN that she wouldn’t voluntarily spend time with either one of them! That was when Megan and Phil were goIng to go running and invited her…

    • Tara says:

      All of that was OTT and completely entertaining!

      Katie’s full of drama, Phil and the dog comment funny (though I think it borders on unintentional), Megan has no filter (she really is Phil’s Mini-me), Alice is practical and Lina seems to be holding on by a thread.

    • Terry says:

      Laura, I am happy the scene where Phil comes home after Lina refuses to talk to him, was deleted from WPF. It sounds to me that he is trying to put the blame on Lina, no matter what he says! It’s like he’s saying “Sorry, but…”. Anything after sorry negates the apology. Thank goodness Phil redeemed himself in SN, I think…

      One of your comments had me laughing so hard. When you said “I was there when…”. I forgot what scene you were writing about. Is that how your stories come to you, like you are witnessing something in a film? Just curious about your process. WPF would have been a tough book for me with some of those deleted scenes. I still get very emotional to reading WPF. Not going to lie, after the SB scene I went to the last chapter. I just kept thinking, how in the world can this end well for Lina? Great writing, albeit stressful for the reader!!! I still don’t like Megan…

      • Tara says:

        Terry, I felt the same way about the deleted scene, relieved it wasn’t in either book. You’re right it felt like “sorry, but…”. I did like they communicating.

        I’ve read WPF several times, but the first was out of order, you made it further than me, at the text scene I jumped to the last 3 chapters. I didn’t think I’d finish it, but the writing is so good, I started jumping backwards, until I’d read the whole book, but out of order. Then I went back and read start to finish.

        And, honestly, if a scene had included him somehow explaining it like he did in the cut scene, I probably would have thought it was a decent, well written story, but too typical a cheating story to hunt down Laura’s blog and wait impatiently for the sequel.

        Who am I kidding? I still would have hunted this blog down and demanded answers. Poor Laura, she puts up with so much overthinking from all of us!

    • Miri says:

      Hi Laura, thank you for all the new scenes!! So awesome reading them!!

      Question…Just rereading WPF these past few days…I’m chapter 12 when Lina and Alice are discussing Phil’s affair, Alice says to Lina “you and Phil have chosen this path. Don’t forget that…..””..if the two of you don’t learn the lesson in this lifetime you’ll just come back in the next and do it all again”….what lesson is she referring to?

    • Miri says:

      thank you for all the new scenes Laura, they were awesome to read!!

      Question, just rereading WPF again..in chapter 12 when Lina and Alice are discussing Phil’s affair, Alice says to Lina “you and Phil have chosen this path, don’t forget that..if you two don’t leave the lesson in this lifetime you’ll just come back in the next and do it all again”…what lesson is she referring to? Does she mean that if Lina doesn’t take him back and accept the baby then the same thing will happen in their next lifetime together?

      • Miri says:

        Oh, i thought my first try didn’t get posted, sorry!!

        • Ann says:

          Hi Miri, I think Alice means if phil and lina can’t work out these problems in this life, they will just be reincarnated into the next life to try and work it out again. Alice says they are soul mates. This is just my take on it.

          • Miri says:

            Yes Ann, Laura said much the same thing above…hopefully their next lifetime together will have no baby mama drama! Lol

  14. janet says:

    Laura I knew Phil pieced it together when he met Nick and that line where he says it has been 10 months since Lina initiated told me a lot. Also I think if nick pushed that night Lina spent the night not sure if she would have said no.

    Hinata, I’m posting your question here. I’m half way through The Mister by EL James. It’s not a bdsm and I like her writing except for the males inner dialogue here and there.

    • Tara says:

      Hinata has other posts further down, I wonder if we should bring them to the top.

      I refused to read FSOG–I refused to simply because everyone and their brother or sister was reading it and insisting it was AMAZING, but am curious about The Mister, I’m waiting for your review.

    • Hinata says:

      Thanks again Janet I’ll check it out😊

      • janet says:

        Hi Hinata, do you read rocker romances? The back up series by AM madden I thought was really good and underrated. The hero is a manwhore at first(descriptive sex scenes) but not after he meets the heroine. Hold off on EL James. It’s $10 and the guy sounds a bit girly with his snarky inner dialogue.

  15. Laura says:

    Your girl are missing something — Phil didn’t think Lina was emotionally cheating until he looked back and thought about it. It was in retrospect — once he saw Nick Drayton he realized Lina started pulling away after Katie starting counseling.
    The apt. Phil referred to was his firms corporate apt located in the same blg as his law office

    • Tracie says:

      Janet I think Lina would of said no that night. She had the opportunity when he came on strong in the marina parking lot and said no. I also like the way Adele explained to Lina why Phil didn’t like Nick in SN. Adele is the one that pointed out how Phil felt during that time. Lina had somewhat fooled herself in believe that she wasn’t emotionally cheating on Phil, when he fact he was. Lina’s anger was fueled against Phil by going against Nick’s recommendations. Plus, Phil was aggravated at himself, because he let not only another women come between them, but another man.

    • Tara says:

      I felt like he may have been trying to justify his behavior, it’s kind of a chicken/egg thing. Did she stop reaching out to him because of Nick or because of how upset she was about Katie?

      I’m kind of relieved this didn’t make it into WPF or SN.

    • Hinata says:

      Ok..
      Omg!why did he do it in the firm😅
      Thanks Laura for answering..😊

      • janet says:

        It’s better than going to a hotel and have Phil pay for a room or worse everyday in Kim’s apartment. That would have made me insane. The firms apartment was convenient sex for Phil so that was a better option for me. 😖

  16. Ann says:

    Good morning ladies.

    I know I’m behind, but just read those last deleted scenes. OMG the one where Lina bought the pizza and kids went to dinner with Phil – that scene of Lina crying in bed and Phil came into the bedroom was so powerful. He explains in more detail what drove him to Kim. I had tears. I know Phil was wrong, but the way he loves Lina is off the charts. That’s what makes this story so good. You can’t believe he could have done something like cheat. I know Lina confided in Nick too.
    Laura that was awesome!!

  17. Tracie says:

    Where is the scene with Nick?

  18. Laura says:

    Tracie — the scene with Phil and Logan discussing Liam wasn’t in the original WPF.

    • janet says:

      God I love him so hard!! He is so sexy and classy and sophisticated and smart and sexy and so hot and smart and sexy and hot hot hot. I love him!!!

      “Find your passion, Lina. You’re so much more than his wife.”

      “Being his wife is enough for me. It always has been.”

      These lines are my favorite ever!! More so than your favorite line in chapter 47. Gawwwwd

    • janet says:

      It was beautiful!!!!! Waaaaahhhhhh. Laura, I really hope you think hard about Liam ending up with Nicks daughter. He is just good people. I still don’t see any of what he did with Lina being wrong. I don’t view it as manipulating like Phil said. I don’t!

      • Laura says:

        Nick is a generally nice guy. He didn’t intend to fall for Lina. And he thought Phil was a first-class asshole so it was hard to just walk away. Phil was right that Lina was confiding in Nick instead of himself but that wasn’t Nick’s fault, that was Lina’s.
        He is hot.

        • janet says:

          They were never meant to be. I can see this clearly. Nick is too logical. He just says OK when Lina says she loves Phil. He never fought for her and he never truly pursued her. Phil would have never given up if he knew Lina would give him a second chance. I hope he is obsessed with her for the rest of his life.

        • Tara says:

          He is hot! I’m wondering if Janet is breathing 😜

          On one level I feel bad for him, he falls for Lina while she still confiding in daughter’s doctor who becomes a friend, but should he have allowed it to get that far? Oh, so many questions, such many compelling and complex characters!

      • Miri says:

        Janet I have a real soft spot for Nick as well…he was there for Lina when she needed him, and that means everything…I also think he could’ve manipulated her and the situation to his advantage a lot more but he didn’t, he was as restrained a he possibly could be — did he want Lina for himself? Sure, but he could’ve been way more aggressive in his pursuit while she was vulnerable but he wasn’t..during his fight with Phil he said to Phil “your wife is an emotional wreck right now, I’m not going to take advantage of her in this state”..something along those lines…he is definitely good people

        • janet says:

          I agree Miri! I knew Lina didn’t belong with Nick but Laura should have made him less desirable to us. Lol. That line You aren’t going to take me to church are you? He has a self deprecating humor too! Lord whatever.
          What should we ask Laura to gift us tomorrow? I’m more than satisfied today but I always want more of Phil being mean to Kim.

          • Miri says:

            Janet Nick is a GOD! He needs his HEA!!

            Today’s scenes oh-so-hit-the-spot for me too!! Anything new Laura gives us is a gift! As for me I always want more of Phil being sad and tortured and desperately regretful and missing Lina (what is UP with me?!? LOL)…oooh and also more of young Phil and Lina (their first official date? (after they met at the dance), first kiss? Wedding day? yessss)

          • janet says:

            Ooh I love torture and desperate too. All that sounds great.

            Nick does have HEA. I don’t need to read his book. The rest of the gang wouldn’t want Laura to waste time with Nick. Today was awesome! I wonder if Laura had a male editor. Today’s scenes were 24k. It made Tara cry!!

          • Tara says:

            Anyone that knows me knows I cry fairly easily, old Kodak, Hallmark and Verizon commercials could trigger tearing up—LOL. And yet, I can’t remotely stomach Lifetime or Hallmark movies and hate the Hallmark channel in general. I’m such an idiot. 🙂

          • janet says:

            I would have never guessed you are a crier! I agree! I hate lifetime and hallmark movies too. They are so cringey and trite to me. I rather watch straight up soap opera at that point. Until the college admission scandal I didn’t know Aunt Becky was still acting.

          • Tara says:

            It’s strange combo, the snark and tears!

            ASPCA and St Jude commercial can trigger them too, but it takes a lot in a book or movie, and honest to God, I work with a woman who angry cries, and the last place I’d ever cry is work, and yet the news coverage of Notre Dame burning yesterday had me tearing up at work.

          • janet says:

            Yes, that was devastating.

  19. Laura says:

    In answer to Miri — Lina and Phil never had an in depth discussion about Kim’s pregnancy — Lina refused to discuss it until the baby was actually a reality.

    • janet says:

      Laura!!!! Nick’s outfit alone made my mouth slack with drool. Dark slacks,sweater(cashmere fisherman?) with camel leather jacket and aviator glasses? And a convertible? Holy moly cannoli!!!!! Lord he is sooooo gorgeous. Ok, let me go read the rest. Thank you for this description!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Miri says:

        “Laura I think that is one of the most powerful scenes that I’ve read….I absolutely felt and saw their connection and it was so intimate and heartfelt…Just Wow” — 100% agreed!! This communication here in this scene really underscored just how deep their connection is and why they can’t let each other go…I really needed this scene…after his fight with Nick, Phil was so cold to Lina which pissed me off, but his unadulterated sorrow here made me see him in a better light…I guess I just really needed more proof that he was anguished and suffering! (why am i so evil??) hahaha!!

      • Hinata says:

        Is Laura writing a new book on Nick and his hea??
        Janet what are you reading..?

    • Miri says:

      Thanks Laura!

  20. janet says:

    I think I’m missing a few comments but I can’t find them. Is it too much trouble to ask everyone to start posting at the top like Hinata did this morning if you are addressing an older post? I don’t want to miss any.
    I agree with Terry’s latest comment. Disclosure and more disclosure.

  21. Laura says:

    All — I added the most recent deleted scene to the post that these comments are attached to. I also added a new scene — Lina telling Nick goodbye

    • Miri says:

      Love my little Logan, so protective of his mom sweet boy!

      In the original version of WPF, did Phil and Lina have any in depth conversations about the ramifications/logistics of Kim’s pregnancy? Did they ever discuss how things would change once the baby came? I think in SN Lina didn’t really want to talk about it when Adele asked her…was she more proactive in the original version?

  22. Laura says:

    another deleted scene. This is after they were separated for a while…

    “Where are you going?” she asked Logan and Katie as she climbed out of the BMW a week later. It was a few minutes past 6:00 p.m. and she’d run out to pick up a pizza for dinner.
    “We’re having dinner with Dad,” Katie said. “It’s Thursday.”
    “Thursday?” she repeated frowning. “Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
    “He wants to have dinner with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” Logan said.
    Lina blinked back tears, hating the thought of being alone. “Why didn’t you tell me? I wouldn’t have gone out to pick up a pizza.”
    “I thought you knew,” Logan said.
    “Where are you going?”
    “We’re meeting him at Season’s 52,” Katie said naming a restaurant at their local mall.
    “Do you want me to stay with you?” Logan asked, frowning as he looked at her.
    “No, of course not. You should see your dad.” She forced herself to smile as she touched his arm. “And if you’re still hungry when you get home, you can have pizza.”
    She watched them drive off and then her eyes focused on Phil’s BMW, well now her BMW. It smelled like him, woodsy and masculine and she hated driving it, just like she hated sleeping in their bed by herself. She hadn’t heard from his since his terse response to her text a week prior and she felt completely abandoned by him. It was as if the past twenty-five meant nothing to him and he was seamlessly transitioning to a life without her, while she could barely function for longer than a couple of hours without breaking down.
    She missed him desperately. She felt like part of her was gone. She could barely eat and could only sleep if she took a pill. And he didn’t care. She couldn’t stop the images of him and Kim from flashing through her mind. And she was starting to believe they were already together.

    She was curled up on the couch watching television and drinking a glass of wine when Logan and Katie returned home. “Hi,” she said smiling as Logan came into the room. “How was your dinner?”
    “Fine,” he said with a shrug. “Their servings are too small.” He flopped down on the couch beside her, his eyes moving to the television. “I had two desserts.”
    “You can change it if you want,” she said holding out the remote. “I’m not really watching.”
    He took the remote and began flipping through the channels.
    “How’s your father?” she asked after a few minutes of silence.
    “Good.”
    “How’s his hand?”
    “It’s covered in a cast. You can only see the tips of his fingers – it looks pretty cool.”
    “Has he found somewhere to live?”
    “He didn’t say,” he answered and then remained silent, his focus on a sitcom.
    After five minutes of staring unfocused at the television, Lina went up to her room with her cellphone and then she was calling Phil. He didn’t answer and moments later she received a text.
    “What do you need, Lina?”
    “Are you with Kim?”
    “No.”
    “Are you with someone else?”
    “I won’t be with anyone until our divorce is final. I expect you to show me the same courtesy.”
    She felt tears come to her eyes at the mention of a divorce. “Are you going to be with her?”
    “No and I’m not sure how I can make that word any more definitive.”
    “Who took care of you after your surgery?”
    “What do you want, Lina?”
    She felt tears rolling down her cheeks. “Nothing.”
    “Then why are you texting me?”
    “Because I’m stupid and I still love you. I won’t bother you anymore.” She turned off her phone and curled into the fetal position, giving into the tears she’d been suppressing all evening.

    She heard the house phone ringing several minutes later and then Logan was coming into her darkened room. “Mom?”
    “Please leave, Logan,” she whispered her voice breaking. “I just need to be alone right now.”
    “Dad’s on the phone. He wants to talk to you.”
    “I can’t,” she whispered and then she was crying. “I can’t.” She rolled away from him and turned her face into her pillow.
    “Mom?” Worry was evident in his voice.
    “I’m just really sad right now,” she managed. “I’ll be okay tomorrow.”
    He left the room for a minute and then he was returning. “Dad really wants to talk to you – could you just talk to him?”
    She shook her head. “I can’t.” She was crying again. “Just go,” she whispered pushing away the phone he was trying to put to her ear. “Please.” She heard his steps fading as he left the room and then she was pulling the comforter over her head. She debated taking one of the pills Nick gave her, but didn’t want to feel the numbness it brought on, instead she just gave in to her sorrow.

    She was crying softly when she heard her bedroom door opening sometime later. “I just – I just need to be alone,” she whispered into the darkness. She heard the pad of footsteps and then the mattress shifting as someone sat down on the edge of the bed beside her.
    “Lina?” Phil’s deep voice preceded the feel of the comforter being pulled down from around her head. “Baby, don’t cry.” He pushed her hair back from her face.
    “You’re the reason I’m crying,” she whispered her voice catching.
    “Lina –.”
    “You’re so cold to me. You broke my heart and now you’re stomping on it.”
    “No.” He shook his head. “No.” He pushed his forehead against hers. “Don’t cry.”
    “You treat me like I never mattered to you,” she sobbed. “I’m dying inside. Don’t you know that? I’m dying.”
    “I’m sorry,” he whispered. He kicked off his shoes and then he was pulling back the comforter and stretching out on the bed beside her. “I love you. How could you not know that?”
    She turned to him, gripping the material of his sweater as she breathed in his familiar scent. “You won’t even talk to me,” she whispered. “You just accept that we’re over. And I don’t have anything because I’m nothing without you.”
    “That’s not true. Nothing you’ve said is true.” He held her against him as she cried into his chest. “I love you – I love you more than anything in this world.”
    “You told the kids we were getting divorced,” she continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “You don’t think I’m worth fighting for.”
    “That’s not true.” He kissed the top of her head. “You’re so wrong.”
    “How could you have looked at her like that?”
    “Like what? What are you talking about?” He looked down at her. “Lina? Who did I look at?”
    “Kim.” She shook her head into his chest, hating the memory of the image. “In the picture – you were looking at her like you look at me, like you loved her.”
    “No,” he said firmly. “No, Lina.” He reached out and turned on the bedside lamp and then he was cupping her shoulder and pushing her back slightly. “Look at me, Lina.” When she lifted her tear-filled eyes to his he continued. “I never loved her. The look you saw wasn’t love.”
    She stared into his blue eyes, eyes she had been looking into her whole life. She reached out and ran her fingers over the line of his jaw and then she was touching his full lips. She’d always loved his lips. “You kissed her with these.”
    “Don’t.” He shook his head.
    “You were with her while I was home waiting for you.”
    “No.”
    “Yes, you were.”
    His eyes narrowed and he shook his head. “No.”
    “How can you say that?”
    “Because it’s true.” He rolled away from her and got off the bed.
    “Where are you going?” she cried. “Don’t leave.”
    “I’m not.” He ran his good hand back through his hair. “Let’s move to the couch. I can’t have this conversation with you in bed.”
    “I don’t want to talk. I want you to lay with me, so I can sleep. I haven’t slept in days.”
    “I need to talk first,” he said.
    Moments later they were sitting side by side on the couch, each turned so they were facing the other. “Do you remember the night of our anniversary?”
    She nodded, her fingers trailing over the back of his hand as it rested on his thigh, her eyes following the movement.
    “That night after Katie left you asked me to go upstairs with you. That was the first time in ten months you initiated sex with me.”
    Her eyes moved to his, her eye brows pulled together. “No.”
    “Yes. And at that moment it was over with Kim. I was supposed to meet her the next morning to run. I was scheduled to fly to New York with her Sunday – I cancelled and I never touched her again, because the moment you wanted me again I could never be with another woman.”
    “I never stopped wanting you,” she whispered gripping his hand.
    “Yes, you did. That’s no excuse for what I did, but I want you to understand what was going on in my head. She wanted me. And you didn’t.”
    She closed her eyes momentarily as she felt a stab of pain in her heart. “That’s not true.”
    “Drayton slowly poisoned you against me.”
    “No.” She shook her head.
    “You started seeing him in May of last year. That summer is when you started pulling away from me – he was in your ear and you stopped talking to me.”
    “We were fighting about how to parent Katie,” Lina said.
    “It was more than that – you stopped talking to me. You stopped touching me – you stopped wanting me.”
    “That isn’t true,” she insisted.
    “It is.”
    “You’re actually blaming your affair on him?”
    “Indirectly, yes, absolutely,” he said. “It would never have happened if he hadn’t come into your life, but it did happen – and that’s on me.”
    “Phil –.”
    “He undermined our relationship, Lina. He encouraged you to speak to him instead of me. At some point it went beyond Katie – he was working on you.”
    “No,” she whispered, but she felt an uneasy feeling inside.
    “You felt comfortable enough with you daughter’s psychiatrist to spend the night at his house. Does that sound normal to you? He crossed professional boundaries. He fell in love with you.”
    “He’s just a friend.”
    “He’s not my friend,” he said his voice suddenly intense. “And he doesn’t have our best interest in mind. If you want us to have any chance of working this out you will stop talking to him.”
    “I’m having a hard time with everything. He just listens to me.”
    “I’m having a hard time, too, but I’m not talking to another woman – that’s emotional cheating, Lina. It may not be physical, but it is destructive to our relationship! I’m your husband,” he said poking his chest with his fingers. “I’m the one you talk to.”
    “But you won’t,” she whispered dropping her face into her hands. “You don’t answer when I call you. You just text me. You’ve been so cold to me.”
    “I thought you were with him,” he shocked her by saying.
    “What?” She lifted her gaze to his. “No.” She shook her head. “How could you think that?” She closed the distance separating them and crawled into his lap, her hands moving over his shoulders. “I don’t want him. I want you.”
    “You chose him.”
    “No.” She shook her head. “I would never choose him.” She saw tears in his eyes and felt like her heart was breaking. “Phil, you can’t believe that.” She cupped his face in her hands. “I only love you – I could never love anyone else.”
    “You left me – you went into his house.” His voice was raw with emotion.
    “I was angry and hurt, but I was never choosing him. I needed separation from you. It was only about that – it was never about him,” she whispered her voice breaking. “I love you.” She kissed his eyes. “So much,” she whispered and then she was running her lips and nose down his cheek and over the rough stubble of his jaw, breathing him in. “I love you,” she said again before putting her lips over his.

    When Lina awoke the following morning it took less than three seconds for the memories from the evening before to come flooding into her mind. She rolled onto her side, her eyes moving to Phil who was still asleep beside her. He was lying on his stomach, his face turned in her direction, and his lips slightly parted, his breathing deep. She noticed the dark circles beneath his eyes and the hollow of his cheeks. He’d lost weight. She’d realized it the night before when they were making love. She recalled the look in his eyes when he told her he thought she was with Nick and felt a twist in her stomach. She’d never seen that look in the twenty-five years they’d been together. She wished she could erase the image from her mind. She wanted to touch him, but instead she slipped out of bed, careful not to disturb him.
    Minutes later, she found Logan in the kitchen dressed in his school uniform of khaki pants and a light blue oxford and dark tie. He looked up from a bowl of cereal when she entered the room and she saw the concern in his eyes.
    “I’m okay,” she said as she ran her hand over his back. “I’m sorry you had to see me like that.”
    “Why were you crying?”
    “I was just sad about your dad.” She squeezed his shoulder. “I’m feeling better now.”
    “Did he spend the night?” he asked, his eyebrows pulled together in a frown.
    “Yes.” She left him to walk towards the coffee pot. “He’s still sleeping.”
    “Are you getting back together?” He pushed his bowl of half eaten cereal away from him. “He cheated on you! He’s the reason you were crying last night.”
    “Logan?”
    “He’s why you were so sad this summer.”
    “Honey, nothing has been decided. And you’re too young to understand.”
    “No, I’m not. I know what cheating is.” He pushed back his chair and came to his feet.
    “Logan,” she paused as she turned to him. “People make mistakes – even your dad.”
    He shook his head, his lips turned down. “He was with another woman! You shouldn’t forgive him,” he said.
    “Logan this is my decision—mine and your fathers,” she said leaning back against the counter. “I know you’re confused and upset, but I’m emotionally exhausted. I’m operating on fumes.”
    “I don’t want him to move back in!”
    She let out a breath as she watched him storm from the room.

    His mood didn’t improve during the drive to his bus stop, only responding to the few attempts she made at conversation with one syllable words. When she returned home thirty minutes after leaving the house, Katie’s car was gone but the SUV was still in the garage.
    When she stepped into the kitchen Phil was standing beside the kitchen island with a mug of coffee in his hand. “Oh my God,” she whispered when she looked at him. “How much weight have you lost?” He was back in his jeans and dark sweater from the night before, the jeans hanging low on his hips.
    “I have no idea.”
    She closed the distance separating them and wrapped her arms around his middle, dropping her face into the crook of his neck. “I hate this,” she whispered.
    He set down his coffee before putting his arms around her. “Me too.” He kissed the side of her head. “ I fucked everything up.”
    She felt her whole body responding to his closeness as if there was a flow of energy connecting them. “I think I’m too dependent on you.”
    “You’re supposed to be dependent on me. I’m your husband.”
    “But it may be too much. I feel like I’m lost without you.”
    “Did Drayton say that – did he tell you you’re too dependent on me?”
    She didn’t want to think about Nick. There were too many thoughts flowing through her head after Phil’s words the night before.
    “Did he?” he asked. “Did that bastard tell you you’re too dependent on me?”
    “Yes,” she admitted.
    The arms around her tightened. “Oh, Lina,” he breathed. “How can you not see how destructive he is to us? He’s in your head.”
    “But I do feel lost without you.”
    “I feel lost without you, too.”
    She lifted her head, her eyes meeting his. “You do?”
    “Of course,” he began his eyebrows pulled together in a frown, “being apart from you is against every instinct I have. It’s not natural – don’t you know that?”
    She nodded, tears coming to her eyes. “I hate it.”
    “Let me come home, baby. We belong together.”
    “It’s too soon. I need time to think. My mind is everywhere.”
    He dropped his forehead against hers and took another deep breath. “I know I don’t deserve you,” he said, “but you – you alone will always come first for me. I’ll never let anyone come between us again.”

    • Tara says:

      Wow!! That made me cry! I might not have loved everything they were saying, but LOVED that they were communicating!

      Laura, thank you for sharing!

    • Miri says:

      Wow. Thank you Laura. That was amazing, so satisfying because they both said so much of what needed to be said…the reassurances that both needed to hear…my question is, did that take place before or after their thanksgiving apart? Was it right before he came home for Christmas to spend the holiday with Lina and the kids? Or was it right after the altercation between Phil and Nick at Nick’s house? How far along into the separation was it?

      • Laura says:

        Christmas and Thanksgiving weren’t in the original. This happened a few weeks after he left — soon after his hand was operated on.

        • Miri says:

          Oh ok, I see…so soon after the fight at Nick’s

          • Miri says:

            I guess I assumed that throughout their 6 month separation they weren’t in much contact except about the kids…did they have more of these kinds of convos during the separation? I’m gonna reread WPF tonight lol

          • Miri says:

            Oh! And after their convo on the couch, how did they end the evening? Hugs? Kisses? Something more? The deets!! Loll

          • Laura says:

            Phil gave her space hoping she’d come back. Logan was having a hard time too. He didn’t want Lina to forgive Phil. There were scenes with Lina getting upset and then scenes where she missed Phil. It was like one step forward two steps back — too much of the same thing according to the editor

          • Tara says:

            So, Logan’s issues were consistent between the 2 versions. I love that he’s so protective of his mom, never loved his taking longer to accept Liam, but it felt so realistic in SN!

            And, the two steps forward one back probably would have been frustrating but maybe realistic?

            I’m flipping between the blog and SN. Megan just got home at Thanksgiving, Katie’s mimicking “Dad” is the best! LOL

          • Laura says:

            Oh and the Megan in the original version was worse. I toned her down.

          • Tara says:

            Love Logan’s, it’s so black and white so realistic to how a teenage boy thinks!

            And LOL!! Megan’s worse? I can’t even explain why I think that’s hysterical, she’s like a mini Phil! I just read the part where he tells Megan to knock off demeaning her mother in SN!

            Totally enjoying these clips! Thanks so much!

        • Miri says:

          Laura you have the patience of a Saint 🙏🙏🙏 thank you so much for answering my incessant questions…and personally I think the back and forth stuff would have been very realistic, I think that’s how most people feel after a betrayal, angry but also missing the person…any chance for more deleted scenes In the future? (Ok now I’m just being super greedy lolll)

      • Miri says:

        When she said “you were with her when I was home waiting for you” and he said no, why did he deny it? Via the texts we saw that he would leave home to spend the night with Kim, wasn’t that kind of the same thing? Or did he really not see it that way?

    • Tara says:

      Laura,

      You may have mentioned this somewhere, but I missed it, in the original manuscript how long was their separation?

      In what you posted there’s no indication as to when she forgave him and he came home, but their conversation clears up her non “relationship” with Nick.

      I find Phil’s double standard ironic, he starts an affair that results in a child because of their lack of communication while trying to deal with Katie’s issues, and yet gets mad at Lina for going Nick. And then accusing her of emotional cheating??

      • Laura says:

        In the original manuscript the separation ended before Christmas. I think he upset that she stopped talking to him and instead confided in another man. Double standard — yes, of course, but our poor man child felt rejected.

    • janet says:

      Wow. That was FANTASTIC! There was so much more communication between them here. Personally, I loved seeing Phil with dark circles and weight loss. Could the look he gave Kim something other than lust? Phil was so stoked from winning the case maybe his expression was one of joy? glee? Could he have given the same look if Wayne was standing in front of him instead of Kim? 😲

    • Tracie says:

      Laura I think that is one of the most powerful scenes that I’ve read….I absolutely felt and saw their connection and it was so intimate and heartfelt…Just Wow…. My poor Logan..

      Laura was there an extended version of Phil and Logan’s scene in Chapter 38 of WPF? Where Phil was describing Logan’s birth to him and what it meant to him.

      Thank you for sharing these scenes Laura….

      • Miri says:

        “Laura I think that is one of the most powerful scenes that I’ve read….I absolutely felt and saw their connection and it was so intimate and heartfelt…Just Wow” — 100% agreed!! This communication here in this scene really underscored just how deep their connection is and why they can’t let each other go…I really needed this scene…after his fight with Nick, Phil was so cold to Lina which pissed me off, but his unadulterated sorrow here made me see him in a better light…I guess I just really needed more proof that he was anguished and suffering! (why am i so evil??) hahaha!!

    • Hinata says:

      Soo satisfying
      Thank you so much Laura
      for uploading this scene
      Finally I got to see a glimpse of Phil who looked really lost without Lina

    • Hinata says:

      And what is it with Phil
      Always blaming Lina for every wrong thing he does
      Emotionally cheating my face…he didn’t even know how the guy looked before until he saw him in Meghan’s graduation
      If Lina was cheating emotionally which she didn’t do until she found out Phil was cheating on her he thought it was good to cheat physically..😑

      • janet says:

        Hi there. I never thought of that but you make a good point. Phil was surprised nick was so young and good looking when they met at Megan’s graduation. Maybe he thought Lina was cheating with an old man. And if Nick was old is that still cheating because she’s still airing out private family matters to a stranger.

        • Tara says:

          Here’s the thing, she may have over shared, but this is the man counseling and treating their daughter, their overall family life has to come into play with her treatment.

          So, the question becomes, was he manipulating Lina in the hopes of stealing her from a man he doesn’t think deserves her?

          I always felt the cheating was subconsciously caused by Phil’s anger at her for taking the Nick’s advice over his and also Phil’s guilt over his discipline triggering Katie’s depression and cutting. Neither of which can remotely justify his behavior.

          Ultimately, I think it’s a good thing that his blaming Lina doesn’t make it into WPF & SN.

          • Hinata says:

            Yes Tara I agree with you..
            Phil’s cheating would have definitely been a discussion of Katie’s therapy sessions..if Lina wouldn’t say about it Katie would have told I think…but again she changed the therapist know?I don’t remember exactly when but she changed I think..😅

        • Hinata says:

          Hi Janet
          LOL..
          Why would Lina cheat on him with an old guy
          But honestly she just thought Nick was handsome but she never had any inappropriate thoughts about Nick I guess…

    • Hinata says:

      “…She wanted me. And you didn’t.”
      How could he come to such conclusion

  23. janet says:

    Good morning everyone! I started EL james’s the Mister last night. Only 25 percent into it but it’s good so far.

    Laura I’ve been wondering about this ever since you posted bonus scenes from the Affair. Oh oh. I know 40k words were edited/ wiped out. Can you tell us if there were new details that wasn’t in the original? For instance even though we never saw Kim being introduced to Lina, it happened on the way to the wedding that was in WPF and the mean phone call in Affair was an extended version of WPF. Chapter 15. A new scene for all of us was Phil giving Lina the sapphire ring. My question is was there an extended version of the texts (22) in the Affair? Does Lina find out about the running group through Emily or does Kim tell her? So basically I’m asking if there are new things Kim did to torture Lina that we haven’t seen. Thank you!

    • Tracie says:

      Can you imagine the conversation Phil had with Kim after she sent Lina those text messages….I bet his blood veins were bulging on that conversation.

      • Tara says:

        Or the conversation after she sent the pictures??

      • janet says:

        Yes I remember Phil leaving the room with running shoes. Maybe he went out to the deck to make another scathing phone call.

        And Tara, since nick was a minor character in the original version, where did Lina go after the pictures. The SB incident was already revealed so maybe she just kicked Phil out?

        • Tara says:

          Good question, right?

          To be honest, in WPF I saw Lina as a wronged wife and almost always thought her reactions to what was going on around her seemed realistic. When she went to Nick I kept thinking, mistake, mistake, mistake, go to Adele, go to Diane, DON’T go to another man… She saw him as her confidant and counselor, but he wanted more–so not fair to him.

      • Hinata says:

        Yes..I really want to know what were there in those 24 other messages that Kim sent to lina

        • Tara says:

          I think it’s just more of the same, not that I’m a defender of Phil, but it really seems like it’s all about scheduling sex, not having a meaningful relationship–just my thoughts.

    • Laura says:

      This was the original text message scene (it was longer)
      Lina felt happy, truly happy for the first time in weeks as she took her new purchases up to her bedroom. She and Megan were going to be fine, maybe even close one day. Her thoughts again drifted to Adele and she decided it was time to mend the rift.
      She reached into her purse and took out her phone with the intention of calling her, when she saw unread text messages filling the display. She frowned as she looked at her phone. The texts were from the same number, a number she didn’t recognize.
      She sat down on the edge of her bed and opened the first text, her eyebrows pulled together in confusion as she realized they weren’t actual texts, but pictures of a text conversation. She saw the name Phil Hunter on the top of the screen. They were conversations between Phil and whoever had sent her the messages. Her throat constricted at the realization it was a conversation between Phil and Kim. She read the first message, which was dated March 18th. Phil’s text appeared gray and Kim’s followed in blue:

      Phil — On my way – we’ll spend the night at your place and leave for New York on the 8 a.m.
      Kim – I might be in the shower. If I am, join me…

      She opened the next text:

      March 22 4:30 p.m.
      Phil – Can you meet me in the apt at 5 p.m.? I have an hour.
      Kim – Of course

      March 23 11:00 a.m.
      Phil – Lunch?
      Kim – Yes, where?
      Phil – Apt at noon

      March 24 10:30 a.m.
      Phil – I can come by at noon for a couple of hours. Good?
      Kim – You can have me for lunch

      April 5 8:52 p.m.
      Phil – I’ll be at your place at 7:30 tomorrow morning – first meeting isn’t until 10 a.m.
      Kim – I’ll be in bed. Let yourself in and wake me up with your tongue.

      Lina read one text after the other, tears falling from her eyes, as she read about one clandestine meeting after another, sometimes two on the same day. There were twenty-four texts in all, twenty-four texts where Phil requested to rendezvous with Kim. She felt sick.
      She didn’t know how long she lay in her bed, but when Phil came into the room sometime later she was no longer crying.
      “What are you doing in bed?” he asked as he walked towards his wardrobe, his shoes clicking against the hardwood floor. “Are you sick?”
      Lina rolled on to her side and curled into the fetal position, closing her eyes and turning her face into her pillow.
      She heard him cross to the bed and then the mattress was shifting as he sat down beside her, his hand sliding up her back. “Are you okay?”
      “No, I’m not okay,” she said her voice muffled by the pillow.
      “What’s wrong? Lina?” He gripped her shoulder and attempted to turn her over, but she shrugged off his hand.
      “Don’t touch me!”
      “What happened?”
      “Just leave me alone, Phil.”
      He came to his feet and looked around the room and then he was walking to her dresser and picking up her purse. “Tell me what she did?” he said as he riffled through her purse. “Tell me!”
      “Look at my phone,” she said. “Just look at my phone.” She stared unfocused towards the sitting room.
      She heard the sound of her cellphone sliding over the wood of the dresser and then silence. After several seconds she turned over and watched as he flicked his thumb over her phone display, his eyebrows pulled together, his lips pulled into a thin line, the side of his jaw clenching and unclenching. His eyes shifted back and forth over the display as he read the texts. When he finished, he clicked the side of the phone, darkening the display.
      “You pretended to leave for New York on Sunday nights, so you could spend the night with her. You were sleeping in another woman’s bed thirty minutes away while I was alone in this one.”
      “There’s nothing in those messages you didn’t already know.”
      “I didn’t know you lied about going out of town and instead went to her apartment.”
      “What’s the difference, Lina? Whether I was with her here or in New York?”
      “There’s a difference – I imagined you in an airplane and instead you’re down the road fucking someone.”
      “I’m sorry.”
      “I didn’t know you left the house early so you could go to her apartment before work,” she said pushing herself up on her elbows as she glared at him.
      “We’re not doing this.” He turned and went into wardrobe.
      “Where are you going with my phone?” she called out. “Give me my phone back.”
      “I’ll give it back after I copy the messages and then delete them from your phone,” he said over his shoulder.
      “You’re not deleting them,” she said as she climbed out of bed. “They’re my messages.” She followed him into his wardbrobe and held her hand out. “Give me my phone.”
      He took off his suit jacket and hung it up before reaching for the knot of his tie. “You promised me you wouldn’t look at anything she sent,” he reminded her as pulled the tie from around his neck. “You shouldn’t have read them.”
      “But I did and now I want to read them again.”
      “Why?” He began to unbutton his shirt, their bodies less than a foot and a half apart. “It’s was sent to hurt you. Haven’t you been hurt enough?”
      “More than enough, but reading those texts made me hate you and I want to keep hating you.”
      “Tough.” He shrugged out of his shirt.
      “Give me my phone.” She tried to slip her hand into his pants’ pocket, but he gripped her wrist.
      He took the phone from his pocket with his free hand and then he was turning his back on her, blocking her with his body as he began tapping on her display.
      “What are you doing?” She screamed, pulling on his arm. “It’s my phone. You have no –.”
      “Here.” He turned around gripped the back of her hand and placed her phone against her palm.
      She stepped out of the closet and looked down at the phone, quickly opening the texting icon. “You deleted them! You had no right to delete them.”
      “You’re letting her win,” he said as he undid his belt. “This is what she wants. This is exactly what she wants.”
      “I hate you,” she whispered as she turned from him. “I really hate you.”
      She crossed back to the bed and pulled back the comforter before lying back down. She listened to drawers opening and closing as he changed clothes and then the sound of the bathroom door closing. She knew she was letting Kim win, knew the other woman sent the messages to create conflict between her and Phil, but knowing it didn’t prevent it and she couldn’t stop the feeling of deep betrayal gnawing at her from the inside.
      The sound of the bathroom door opening preceded the sound of Phil’s footsteps as he crossed back to the bed. “Do you want me to order in?”
      “I don’t care what you do. I’m not hungry.”
      “You have to eat.”
      “No, I don’t. Just leave me alone, Phil.”
      He released a deep breath. “I’m sorry you had to see those.”
      “I know. Please just leave. I don’t want to be around you right now.”
      Moments later she heard the sound of the bedroom door opening. She rolled onto her back and lifted the cellphone she still gripped in her hand. He had deleted the messages, but she could still see them in her mind. She brought up her contacts and then looked at the blocked caller list. As she suspected, Kim’s number was now blocked. She considered unblocking it. She also considered sending her a text, but did neither.
      She thought of Adele, but knew she couldn’t call her. A tear fell from her eye at the realization she was completely alone. And then she was scanning her contact list and stopping on “ND”, the abbreviation she had entered for Nicholas Drayton.
      Without giving it more than a moment’s consideration, she quickly typed out a text.
      “I hate him.”
      Less than thirty seconds passed before he replied. “New information revealed?”
      “She sent me copies of their texts.”
      “I’m sorry –You really should consider talking to someone. This is a lot for you to process. I could recommend a few colleagues.”
      She felt a rush of embarrassment as she read his words. Tears of humiliation came to her eyes. She reread his message and then typed a new one. “No thanks. I’m sorry to bother you. It was just a weak moment. Please go back to your evening and pretend I never contacted you.”
      Only seconds passed before he responded. “Lina?”
      She stared at the message, but didn’t reply. A few minutes passed and then she received another text. “Are you still there?”
      She felt so humiliated. She quickly typed another text. “I’m fine. Please don’t worry about me. I’m fine and just a little embarrassed that I interrupted your evening.” She pushed the send button and then turned on her side.
      “Can you talk?” he texted back.
      “No. I’m sorry I bothered you. Please just enjoy your evening.” She sent the text and then turned off her phone and tossed it across the bed.

      The sound of the bedroom door closing jarred her awake the following morning and she sat up in the bed, her eyes finding Phil who had just walked in. “Sorry,” he whispered. He was dressed for work in a dark suit and tie, his face freshly shaven and his hair still slightly damp from a shower.
      “What time is it?” She fell back against her pillow, closing her eyes.
      “Almost 7:00 a.m.”
      She felt the mattress shift beside her and opened her eyes. He was sitting on the edge of the mattress beside her. “Are you leaving?”
      “In a minute. I have court this morning.” He ran his hand down her bare arm. “We need to talk.”
      The memory of the text messages from the day before flooded back into her head. “I don’t want to talk.” She had fallen asleep before he came to bed the night before and had only a vague memory of him joining her.
      “I need you to do me a favor.”
      “What?” she sighed.
      “I need you to promise me you won’t open anything else.”
      “You blocked her from my phone.”
      “She could send you a package or use someone else’s phone.”
      Lina was completely awake. “I want this to stop. What if one of the girls had opened my text yesterday? They do that sometimes.”
      “I am going to stop it.”
      “I can’t deal with someone like this. I’m not letting her take over my life and that’s what it feels like right now.”
      “I’m going to take care of this – but, I need you to promise you won’t open anything else.”
      “I’m not promising anything,” she said rolling away from him. “I may as well know all the facts instead of sticking my head in the sand and pretending it didn’t happen.”
      “I’m begging you, Lina.”
      “Why? What am I going to find? Pictures of you having her for lunch?”
      “There are no sex pictures!” He came to his feet and glanced at his watch. “I have to go.” He walked to the door, but paused with his hand on the knob. “She’s trying to destroy us, Lina. Don’t let her,” he said before leaving.

      For the next twenty minutes she tried unsuccessfully to fall back to sleep and finally climbed out of bed and slipped on jean shorts and a t-shirt. She considered taking a run, but decided to wait for traffic to die down and instead washed her face, brushed her teeth and headed downstairs.
      As she sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee her thoughts went to Nicholas Drayton. She shook her head as she felt a wave of embarrassment all over again. She had misconstrued his politeness as friendship, she realized. She should never have texted him. She wasn’t going to dwell on it. She would just put it from her mind.
      She picked up her cell phone and realized it was still off. She turned it on and went to refill her coffee. It was just 7:30 a.m., so she didn’t expect to see the girls for at least another hour and probably another two in Megan’s case. As she returned to her seat with a fresh cup of coffee her phone completed its turn-on cycle and beeped twice, indicating new messages. She felt a twist in her stomach, fearing another message from Kim. Regardless of what she told Phil, she didn’t want to see anything else. She used one finger to slowly drag the phone towards her and then glanced at the display, relief coursing through her when she saw the sender was Nicholas Drayton and the texts were from the previous evening.
      She opened the first, “Bothering me??? You couldn’t be further from the truth.” Five minutes later, he had sent a second, “I’m free tomorrow after 3 pm. We should talk.” She reread the messages, not sure exactly how to interpret their meaning. She wasn’t sure if he was saying he wanted to talk to her or if he was implying she could call him if she wanted to talk. Regardless of what he meant, she felt a little less humiliated after reading his words.

      • Tracie says:

        Kim pulled a fast one on the Birthday card.:.Lina didn’t know who sent it until those pictures hit the floor….Phil was behind the scenes trying to do damage control, but Kim was out of control. I liked that he copied the text messages, he was probably building his case for harassment.

      • Tara says:

        “Why? What am I going to find? Pictures of you having her for lunch?”
        “There are no sex pictures!” He came to his feet and glanced at his watch. “I have to go.” He walked to the door, but paused with his hand on the knob. “She’s trying to destroy us, Lina. Don’t let her,” he said before leaving.

        Great foreshadowing!!

        The rest isn’t really that shocking or different.

      • janet says:

        That was most awesome and brutal at the same time. Lina and Phil talking before going to work was precious. I wonder how he was going to stop Kim. He couldn’t…. Poor everyone. Thanks Laura!!

        • Tracie says:

          Phil is an awesome lawyer and he would of crushed her career if she would of continued to harass Lina. Phil was able to stand between the two in SN, Kim was desperate in WPF, she thought get rid of Lina she gets Phil.. Kim didn’t count on their love surviving. Jokes on her!

          Thank you Laura for always answering our questions. You are much appreciated.

          • Tara says:

            I wonder at what point Kim truly decided she wasn’t going to trap Phil in a permanent relationship. I’m thinking it was in the beginning of SN when he announced he was back with Lina and she was so shocked.

            Could she really have been so clueless to think he’d turn to her if Lina truly ended their marriage??

          • Tracie says:

            I really think Kim realized it in the scene, where he told her he wasn’t there to interact with her, just change the F..ing diaper so he could leave…Remember how she put Liam’s coat on him and silently handed him to Phil…I think that was when she decided he was out of reach…I don’t think it was at the beginning of SN. Lina pushed Phil out once over Kim and she thought moving into their neighborhood, the Victoria Secret receipt, etc might push Lina over the edge again, but it didn’t.

          • janet says:

            Didn’t she tear twice? When Phil pulled Kim inside her office and said you think it was you? I think that was her first indication that she meant nothing to Phil. Then when he made her cry and she said sometimes I think I really hate you. Then went jogging and left Liam alone crying with her sister. She gave up once and for all then I think.

          • Tracie says:

            Remember though she tried that last time with the cute video to get him to talk and not be so hostile…and then everything went downhill from there Christmas, etc….When she handed Liam to Phil in that scene without a word…I just knew she was done….Lina was brilliant in telling Phil at the first of SN not to be in the house when Kim was home at the point she lost the one on one time with Phil.

          • Tara says:

            I thought she was just being a bitch at that point. I can’t imagine anyone’s ego being so big, that she’d keep coming back for more abuse–he said some of the really horrible things to get her to back off–not necessarily undeserved. I keep thinking she’s not stupid, so she’s either delusional or being a button pushing bitch.

            But you may be right 🙂

      • Miri says:

        Hi Laura, Thank you for this new scene!

        ““I didn’t know you left the house early so you could go to her apartment before work,” she said pushing herself up on her elbows as she glared at him.
        “We’re not doing this.” He turned and went into wardrobe.”

        Someone close to me found out her husband cheated on her (long term) with and old ex (they had found each other again on facebook)…she (the wife) chose to stay with him because they had young kids at the time…he was contrite and agreed to end the affair, but whenever she tried to talk to him about it, to get it all out so that she felt she could move forward, he would behave similar to Phil and not want to talk about it, would leave the room…I think if your cheated-on wife wants to talk about it, however many times it takes for her to get closure, her cheating husband owes her that much at least!

        • Miri says:

          I think he didn’t want to talk about it because of the guilt and embarassment he felt, so he would just shut her down

          • Laura says:

            in the first draft Lina was constantly going back and forth on whether or not she wanted details. And the details ultimately caused pain. Phil, right or wrong, didn’t want her to feel more pain. He had an affair. He was sorry. He regreted it but he couldn’t undo it. He was afraid he details would cause Lina to leave him, that they would make it worse. He was trying to protect their marriage – that’s it

          • Tara says:

            I’m the last person to defend Phil, but I think he is feeling guilty, but not trying to shut her down, rather his in avoidance mode. He couldn’t possibly want to deal with this. He knows she’s devastated and more details aren’t going to help this. And yet, she’s vacillating part of her wants details but also doesn’t.

            It all feels very realistic to me.

        • Terry says:

          Miri, you are so right. With my girlfriend, her marriage counselor said that full disclosure is the best if possible. Her husband would tell her the “truth”, but then she would find out a new detail, and it would be like ripping off a scab, reopening the wound. Makes sense. Phil’s anger/ defensiveness comes from having to deal with the fall out from his affair. Everyone else said this so concise. Thanks again for the scene, Laura.

      • Hinata says:

        Thanks for the scene laura…

      • Hinata says:

        I have a doubt Laura
        Did Phil rent an apartment for them or was it Kim’s apartment he was mentioning..??
        Because he asked her to meet in apt in his messages

  24. Ann says:

    Good morning ladies! My replies always end up in the wrong place too.
    Since rereading SN I’m back with obsessing over Phil and Lina.

    Just had a furniture delivery and they brought me the wrong bed. All the other furniture was correct. Ugh

    • janet says:

      Hi Ann! I hate that! From where? I’m always interested in new furniture places. I ordered my dining room table and coffee table from a random company out in North Carolina and they had to do this twice because they sent me a wrong table the first time.

      • Ann says:

        Hi Janet. This was from Havertys Furniture. They have a few stores in Maryland but I’m not sure if they are in other states.
        I was able to get pictures hung and dressers filled so far.

  25. Hinata says:

    LOL..yeah!!

    • Hinata says:

      Sorry😅
      This comment is posted in the wrong place
      It should have been somewhere down below
      Please ignore it
      😅😅

  26. Tracie says:

    People can say what they want about Phil…but he is the best H ever!!! Tony a very close second…Phil took his challenges head on and said several times I put myself here….Everything people find negative about Phil, makes him more appealing to me…..

    Laura wouldn’t Phil think it was hot if he came home and Lina told him she needed to talk to him and followed him upstairs while he changed. Told Katie and Logan to watch Liam for a minute. When they got to their room and he turned to her and said “Whats wrong?” Lina looked at him and said “I need you to finish what you started this morning before Liam woke up and proceeded to jump him… That is a smoking swoon…..

  27. Laura says:

    Different strokes for different folks, but Phil is super hot. And he’s awesome in bed.

    • Terry McElroy says:

      Laura, thank you for the welcome! I wanted to address Janet’s question about Nick,is he an alpha? Compared to Phil, it is hard for anyone to be alpha! Frankly, it’s skeevy (to me) that he would make a move on his patient’s mom! Having said that, I liked that he helped Lina feel wanted, attractive, and desired.He is powerful because of that.I get hostile when I think about what Phil has put his family through. The way that Laura has written Lina makes everything better! Phil is the love of her life, and I don’t think that Lina could let him go. It was actually written so she didn’t have to! Thank goodness for SN. Phil had a chance to redeem himself, barely. I actually had a close friend get cheated on by her husband and her “friend”. The couple are still together, through much hard work. Of course, he did not have a child with the OW. So marriages do survive. The friend has been ostracized from all activities.

      Last question. Is it just me, or does anyone else get mad when you read Megan’s comments? Just want to slap her to next week! That’s what your writing does, Laura! So excited to see all your comments.

      • Miri says:

        Terry, yesss!! When Megan tried to make Lina feel bad for separating from Phil I got soo mad, I think it was very mature of Lina to not go on a tirade against Phil and defend herself to Megan, but lord knows I would have given her a piece of my mind…so hurtful that she would play favorites and pick the parent that cheated!

        • Miri says:

          and yes, Laura made these characters to alive and believable, there’s a spark to them that most fictional characters just don’t have!

      • janet says:

        Hi Terry! You are so right. How can anyone else be an alpha with Phil standing in front of us? Haha. Just one little point on Nick- he did tell Phil Lina isn’t his patient – so I don’t think it was any skeevier than a partner having a full blown affair with an associate. Other than that, I agree Phil is the one and only for Lina.

        Thanks for sharing your story. So the OW is ostracized? Is she still around?

        I went to CPK for lunch with my kids today and something weird was going on with a couple across from me. It was a man and a woman(late 30s- mid 40s) and clearly coworkers because they were talking about some work stuff in the beginning. I didn’t pay much attention at first because this is a popular joint where a lot of finance people come for lunch and you see couples often. Then the girl says you know you like it (I heard this clearly) and that’s when I looked over. The guy just laughed and said no, blah blah. I started paying attention after that and they were definitely flirting. It’s not so much what they said but lots of chuckling and laughing(she didn’t giggle) and the TONE of the convo. When the food came she asked if he wanted some of her bbq chopped salad and he asked if she wanted some of his chicken! I think Ive done this with male coworkers before I got married but this couple rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe because they were older. I didn’t see a ring on the girl but the guy is married and I’m positive they are not married to each other. Anyway, you can see who I thought of watching this play out in front of me! Thoughts? Is it ok for men and women to go out for work lunch/dinner? Personally I’m fine with it but I don’t approve of this food sharing thing

        • Laura says:

          Interesting Janet. Food sharing is personal — I can’t say I haven’t done it with male coworkers — I would never initiate it. Terry’s right — long hours and shared time with office mates ugh. You have to trust your spouse. If there is an attraction, someone needs to step away. I have seen sooo many affairs in the work space. I’ve never worked somewhere where someone wasn’t cheating on a spouse. It’s sad.

          • Laura says:

            A wise male coworker once told me that all it took to destroy a healthy marriage is another person. I hate the book Eat, Pray, Love — she meets some hot guy and suddenly she isn’t happy with her husband anymore? They see something new and exciting and suddenly they forget everything they love about their spouse — I hate the rationalization involved in cheating — that book is full of it!

          • janet says:

            I feel the same about that book. Why couldn’t she do all that self discovery before she got married? All I cared about was trying that pizza

          • Laura says:

            Exactly! It could have been a great story. It should have been about a single woman and food!

          • Tara says:

            Didn’t she then leave the new guy and start a relationship with a woman?

        • Terry says:

          Janet, I have to say, my husband and I have been more guarded with our marriage after we learned of our friend’s situation. The woman her husband cheated with was another mom, the mom of their son’s best friend. Come to find out, she has done this before. So maybe lunch is fine. When you start looking forward to seeing the other person? Not a great idea. I have to to tell you, the men she cheated with are people I NEVER would have thought could cheat on their wife. I think the weird natural response is to blame the woman. But the man had to make a decision to cheat at some point. When it happens to someone close to you, it makes you look at your own relationship.I don’t think I would feel comfortable with my husband having lunch with another colleague. Not after this.I know, it makes me sound paranoid. Watching the recovery process of this couple was heartbreaking. It took a couple of years for them to get back from this. Maybe that’s why Laura’s books have hit so close to home for me. I actually feel the same pain that Lina is feeling because I have witnessed it. Sorry to go on.

          • janet says:

            That is heartbreaking. I hope their marriage stronger than before like the Hunters.

          • Tara says:

            I don’t think it makes you look paranoid. You’re protecting something precious to you.

            A good friend’s brother had an affair, the aftermath played out on Facebook. The wife chose to stay and with counseling they made the marriage work. The OW wasn’t giving up basically started stalking and harassing the wife via Facebook—it got beyond ugly.

    • Tracie says:

      Amen Sister…He is smoking hot….Lina is good in bed too…Phil said they had be satisfying each other for 25 years… Just his characters persona is why I can’t get enough of the Hunters….

    • Tracie says:

      I keep hitting the wrong reply button again….LOL

    • Miri says:

      Laura I hope that all of our nitpicking isn’t hindering your writing process?? I think our intense reactions and preoccupations with your characters just let you know how utterly amazing your writing is!!

    • Ann says:

      and that’s why we love him! He’s the best male character in my book world. lol

  28. kay says:

    Would someone please tell me what this is a reference to:

    Miri says:
    April 14, 2019 at 1:44 pm
    ….In yesterday’s post, on the airplane when Lina mentions Kim’s breasts, that would’ve salted my earth, feeling like the OW was sexier than me and my husband went for that….

    What yesterday’s post? What have I missed?

    • Tara says:

      It’s buried in the next blog post down (455 comments)…

      Lina had skipped lunch, so one drink was enough to settle her nerves and as the group left the bar and headed towards the gate she let her eyes drift back to Kim who was several yards ahead. She was wearing three inch heels with her jeans and her hips swayed as she walked, bringing attention to her well defined butt and hips. Where Lina was classy and pretty, Kim was sultry and sexy and Lina hated the thought of her with Phil, hated that the name now had a face and she could actually imagine the two of them together. Phil may have been naïve enough to believe it was just a one night stand that took a life of its own, but Lina knew better. This woman had seen him, wanted him and set out to seduce him, which is exactly what she had done. And then when he was unwilling to leave his wife, she had gotten pregnant hoping that would get him to leave. She hadn’t even considered Lina or Phil’s three children, no this woman only thought about herself and what she wanted…

      “Did it have to be her?” Lina asked. “She doesn’t even have enough class to be embarrassed with me here. Did you see her staring at you?”
      “She’s trying to create problems between us.” He squeezed her thigh. “Try to ignore her.”
      “And since when are you into breasts?”
      “Jesus Lina,” he leaned forward and turned towards her, his eyebrows pulled together in a frown. “You really want to get into this here?”

      • kay says:

        Is this from a deleted scene? Is this the whole scene?
        I can’t figure out the context. Was a whole group from the office flying somewhere?

        Thanks so much for your quick response and the information!

      • Tara says:

        And, a one night stand that turned into more?? What? Phil can’t say no? Phil naive? Was Lina actually justifying his behavior, the evil seductress wouldn’t let him go? Not to defend Kim, but really?

        There’s a reason why these scenes were cut!

        Deep cleansing breathe!

        • janet says:

          You are not allowed to read cut scenes anymore!! I want/need more of those scenes from Laura. 😆 Did you not love Phil being mean to Kim over the phone conversation and Lina showing sass? Of course Phil could have said no but he didn’t want to. Argggh. If I have to live with the 4 months then you can suck it up too.

          • Tara says:

            I know! I can’t read these scenes without getting pissed off all over again with Phil! And yet, they’re so darned compelling! I don’t know how Laura can stand us pulling apart all these scenes! 😜😂😝

    • Tara says:

      This right here aggravates me to no end…

      “Jesus Lina,” he leaned forward and turned towards her, his eyebrows pulled together in a frown. “You really want to get into this here?”

      I would have been “Yeah, I would like to get into it here…”

      I probably would have been removed from the plane.

      • janet says:

        I think all the women here would have said yes I want to get into it right here right now you ***** But I can’t see Lina doing that. 😑

      • Ann says:

        Tara, this is how Phil can make your blood pressure spike!! He caused all the damage and then gets frustrated with Lina when she wants to discuss his cheating and OW.
        I just can’t understand why I love Phil. Does that make me sick? Of course, we all have covered many of Phil’s positive points.

        This is a couple that you can discuss and dissect forever!! lol

        • Tara says:

          Ann, just reading your comment about him causing the damage and getting frustrated when she wants to discuss it annoys me. LOL.

          I was a reluctant Team Phil after WPF, only because he was Lina’s choice. With these scenes I get more anti Phil, which I really don’t want to do.

    • kay says:

      Sorry, I just realized I could look that up and I will!

    • Terry McElroy says:

      Laura, thank you for the welcome! I wanted to address Janet’s question about Nick,is he an alpha? Compared to Phil, it is hard for anyone to be alpha! Frankly, it’s skeevy (to me) that he would make a move on his patient’s mom! Having said that, I liked that he helped Lina feel wanted, attractive, and desired.He is powerful because of that.I get hostile when I think about what Phil has put his family through. The way that Laura has written Lina makes everything better! Phil is the love of her life, and I don’t think that Lina could let him go. It was actually written so she didn’t have to! Thank goodness for SN. Phil had a chance to redeem himself, barely. I actually had a close friend get cheated on by her husband and her “friend”. The couple are still together, through much hard work. Of course, he did not have a child with the OW. So marriages do survive. The friend has been ostracized from all activities.

      Last question. Is it just me, or does anyone else get mad when you read Megan’s comments? Just want to slap her to next week! That’s what your writing does, Laura! So excited to see all your comments.

      • Ann says:

        Hi Terry, I wanted to slap her too. She got better in SN but I did not like the conversation she had with her mom (lina) regarding Phil’s will. She actually thought her mother didn’t deserve half of their estate and then she wanted to know if Liam was going to be left anything.

  29. Laura says:

    I just read the sample of The Ever After — it looks goooood. I may have to spend $12 on this — has anyone besides Terry read it?

    • janet says:

      Laura I read it. If possible can you borrow it for your library? It was just so so. More emotional cheating with a make out session involved. It didn’t really stir me up. Lol

      • janet says:

        If anything it reminds me of if Mike every cheated on his wife Jen?

        I like Elizabeth Finn books or Saffron A Kent. Both are intenseeee writers. In Unrequited, the girl falls in love with her married professor so maybe Katie would like that.

        • Ann says:

          Janet, I read alot of Elizabeth Finn’s books too and the one from Saffron Kent about the girl in love with her professor.

          I put myself on a waiting list with library for The Ever After. So far it hasn’t become available.

          • janet says:

            Crap. Ok. Maybe you will like it. It starts off strong but after a few chapters it started dragging for me. Also the guy is a beta. Nothing wrong with that but I didn’t love it. Something was missing.

          • Tracie says:

            Okay I know Janet has probably been waiting on this…Nick could be an Alpha if he was with the right woman. Compared to a Supreme Alpha like Phil or Tony, he is lacking. Phil would of took Nick if he had him on the ground, people who know karate, etc will tell you don’t let them get you on the ground, if they can’t use their feet, a good boxer can take them out. That’s why the octagon is a mixture of both. Phil was on an emotional mess and had a broke hand. If he wouldn’t have broke his hand, you think he would of stopped? The answer to that would be no….Nick could never have made Lina happy or beat Phil’s ass in the long game….just saying…

        • Laura says:

          I need the H to be an alpha. Do you think Nick was an alpha?

          • Hinata says:

            Yes Laura I got that alpha vibes from Nick

          • janet says:

            I am not the one to answer this one obviously but yes of course he’s an alpha. Not OTT alpha like Phil but preppy brainy alpha. I think Nick could go head to head with Phil and win both verbally and physically unless Phil sat on him. He reminds me of a sleek panther. The difference in the two men is while Phil told lina right away that he was going to marry her at first meet, even if Nick felt the same he would have only asked her out on a date that night and asked to go “steady” a month after. Nick’s more cautious and Phil’s more veni vidi vici. I would love to hear what Terry thinks of Nick.

          • janet says:

            Thank you Hinata I agree! Did you like him more than Phil?

          • Miri says:

            Omg Laura did you see what Nick did to HeMan Phil when He tried to punch him?! Of course Nick is an alpha!! just a more quiet one, you gotta be careful of the quiet ones they’re the dangerous ones, they don’t go around beating their chests announcing their intentions…ok so I watch a lot of nature documentaries loll and Phil is a gorilla (which are magnificent), but Nick is a lion (lions are super stealthy when they hunt, you don’t know they’re anywhere near you right until the moment your throat is in their jaws)…Sexy Nick needs his HEA!! Woot woot! :)))

          • Laura says:

            I was actually was there watching the scene unfold when Nick schooled Phil. Yes, Nick is definitely an alpha. There were times while I was writing that I thought about having Lina end up with him but of course that would have defeated the entire reason for the novel LOL Lina belonged with Phil. Nick is a little more intellectual, not smarter necessarily, just more cerebral.

          • janet says:

            Miri LOL!! I once called Phil a Viking and Laura wasn’t happy with the name calling. I think I see Phil as the Lion instead of Nick. Protective, aggressive, and territorial. He does give off a vibe of being a Tarzan now and then but 🦍? They are so ugly no? You made me laugh.

          • Tara says:

            Laura,

            Totally thought of him as an alpha, and cerebral alphas are very attractive 😁😁

            But, I vacillate on Nick (sorry Janet). I would have totally followed you to an ending with Nick, but I kind of agree with Phil. There are issues with his interest in her, and some questionable behavior.

            But, Phil was involved with an associate and wow, isn’t that a pot/kettle problem. Hypocrite!!

            Too much to think about, while I’m still aggravated at Phil in those cut scenes.

          • Miri says:

            Laura, I would’ve been totally happy with a Lina/ Nick HEA, but Phil would’ve lost his damn mind!! Loll

            Janet,vikings are hot! (well at least the ones on A&E are — Travis Fimmel is yummy!!) 😉

          • Katie says:

            Whatever Nick was, wasn’t working for me.

          • Hinata says:

            Yes Janet I liked him a bit more than Phil when he kept his emotions in check when Lina spent a night at his home
            But all that was gone when he lost his control and ended up kissing her in chapter 37 or 38 of SN
            It made me realise that all men are same
            😅😂😂😂

        • Katie says:

          I read unrequited and thought it was kind of weird to be honest. I couldn’t connect with the author’s writing style. It was almost poetic, which I know many love, but I found myself having to reread paragraphs to try to figure out what the hell they were saying. I’m reading another like that right now. Maybe I have a low IQ.

          • Tara says:

            Katie, Saffron Kent’s voice doesn’t work for me either, it’s a little quirky in structure. I recently read Medicine Man, another age gap story between a patient in a psychiatric hospital and her doctor, she likes taboo subjects 😜

          • janet says:

            Yes weird and quirky sounds right. I like the air of brooding intensity in her stories. Ok. Next!

          • Tara says:

            Janet, I think you’re right it does have an air of brooding. Maybe even a little gothic.

          • Katie says:

            Yes. Weird, gothic…she writes in riddles. But she writes the kind of stories I like. 🤪
            I’m reading Worship by Trilina Pucci- she writes in riddles as well, but I’m liking it anyway. Age gap, married man…I’m not super far in but I think it has some mafia and bdsm type stuff coming.

          • Terry says:

            Tara, I had mentioned in another post how inappropriate I thought Nick’s actions were. Just noticed your comment about Phil’s affair being with a colleague. Lawyers and doctors have the highest rates of infidelity of professionals! My husband works in a law office, and he told me that it happens more than yoy think. I think part of this has to do with their work schedules. When you spend so much time at the office, you can start friendships with people that can become a slippery slope to an affair. I think where Phil took his wrong turn was when he turned to Kim the night of his and Lina’s fight. When you start questioning your spouse’s behavior, that opens the door for a predator like Kim. The OW doesn’t ask for the hubby to pick his socks up. The OW doesn’t “nag” him to come to his kids’ events. It is a perfect relationship. Just my 2 cents! It is a cultural epidemic!

      • Terry McElroy says:

        Janet, it was a book to cover the hangover from WPF! What I found fascinating, was what the wife did to piece together what happened.The husband understands that he needs to work for his marriage. Also, I thought it addressed what so many people go through when their children are young. Marriages get put on the back burner. Now we call it child centric family. My grandma used to say that you need to take care of your spouse as much as the kids, because that’s who will be with you at the wnd of the day. Tough to do. Sorry for the commentary. I never was into cheating books before. I like to see how the couple does or doesn’t work it out. That’s the real story.

    • Tara says:

      I’ve got this marked as read and have zero memory of it, that’s a big yikes for me!

  30. Laura says:

    Good morning! Thanks for all the book recommendations! And welcome Terry who is new to the blog and left a message somewhere down on the thread — always looking for new books. And thank you everyone for the words of support!

  31. Hinata says:

    If at all if I were a kid to Lina and Phil I would be a mix of Logan and Katie(the one before she went to Dr.Nick,the Katie which took treatment was cool with Phill,so that’s why(😛)..I always felt that Katie is an interesting character…I want to know more about her before this disaster took place in the Hunters family😅😅)
    I want to infuriate Phill like Katie does and hate him like Logan does after learning that he has a step-brother

  32. janet says:

    Also, this one. My sister sent me this few weeks ago telling me it went viral and that Chrissy Teigan whatches it when she’s down. It made me laugh so hard. Comic relief for today for those who haven’t seen it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0e-he_dU58

    • Miri says:

      Janet — just picked up a “cheating” book and I think you might like it…’Allegiance’ by Mary Flinn…so far so good!

      • janet says:

        I have that! But keep them coming. Thank you!

        • Miri says:

          Update..(spoiler alert lol) I’m nearing the end and a bit confused…so no actual cheating?? Lol..will finish it tonight…and oh! I just downloaded a whole bunch of samples of family drama/cheating books..I’ll post a list here in a bit…should get us through while we wait for Laura’s next book! 🙂

        • Miri says:

          ok,here is the list I’ve come up with…all of these authors are new to me, so I can’t say if they’re any good, but I’ll give em a shot…Laura, I hope it’s ok that I’m posting other works? These are just to get us through until your next masterpiece gets released! 🙂

          Covet – Tracey Garvis Graves
          Broken Together – KL Gilchrist
          Meant to be kept – Amelia Foster
          One shot – BJ Harvey/Lauren Clarke
          Her husband’s mistake – Sheila O’Flanagan (coming out in May)
          The story of our life – Shari Low
          With or without you – Shari Low
          A year of finding happiness – Lisa Hobman
          A village affair – Julie Houston
          What becomes of the broken hearted – Lisa Hobman
          Summer in cornish cove – Kate Ryder
          What happened to us? – Faith hogan
          The memory of you – Jamie Beck
          The pieces of you and me – Rachel Burton
          Misconception – Christy Hayes
          Frayed silk – Ella fields
          Love, interrupted -Kat Black
          The things we need to say – Rachel Burton
          Gravity – LD Cedergreen
          Solace – Nikola Cruz
          Just Sex – Susan Kay Law
          The other woman – Joy Fielding
          Ethan frome – Edith Wharton (she wrote The Age of Innocence)
          Bird in hand – Christina baker Kline
          Scorned – SL Scott
          Mine would be you – Danielle Jamie
          Whisky lullaby – Dawn Martens, Emily Minton
          The marriage truce – Sara Craven
          Torn – Melody Anne
          Indiscretion – Charles Dubow
          This broken beautiful thing – Sophie Summers
          Devotion – Marianne Evans
          8 Weeks – Bethany Lopez
          Unbroken – Melody Grace
          The pilot’s wife – Anita Shreve
          The other woman – Eric Jerome Dickey
          Letting go – Jennifer Foor
          The story of us – Lesley Jones
          A modern love story – Jolyn Palliata
          Bait – M Mabie
          Up in flames – Nicole Williams
          My husband’s girlfriend – Cydney Rax
          Husband and wife – Leah Stewart
          The good husband – Gail Godwin
          Between husbands and friends – Nancy Thayer
          The first husband – Laura Dave
          My husband’s sweethearts – bridget Asher
          The state we’re in – Adele Parks
          Playing away – Adele Parks
          Young wives’ tales – Adele Parks
          Happiness sold seperately – Lolly Winston
          The good woman – Jane Porter
          Whatever it takes – L Maretta
          Living in glass houses – Zoe McKnight
          The naked husband – Colin Falconer
          Not to us -Katherine Owen
          The perfect husband – Buffy Andrews

          • janet says:

            Omg! I recognize some but never heard of most on your list. LOL Ethan Frome! Ok, Bait was angsty but it’s the girl who cheats. Forget solace by nikola cruz. I just read that and it was horrible writing. Literally just read it but can’t remember anything.

            I think Tara and Katie have this on their TBR pile but there’s an upcoming cheating novel Shame by Ainsley Booth that sounds promising(angsty). She keeps pushing the date back but I’m so curious how she wrote this book. Check it out! You should put it on your want to list pile too.

            I’m sure you finished allegiance by now. Can you believe all that angst because she thought he cheated?

          • Tara says:

            Allegiance… a bunch of nothing with bad communication. 😜

          • Hinata says:

            Thank you so much Miri!!

          • Katie says:

            Wow! Awesome, Miri.

          • Hinata says:

            I loved frayed silk hero so much
            It’s a good read

          • Terry McElroy says:

            Ladies, this is the first time I have written into a blog. Like you all, I have devoured both WPF books. I don’t know why these books have such a power over me. I am always checking in for new scenes and all your comments! I also wanted to suggest some other books to get you through the drought until Laura writes her next book! (No pressure, Laura).You have given such great suggestions.

            The Fourth Child / CJ Carmichael

            Where Hope Begins/Catherine West

            The Ever After/ Sarah Pekkanen.

            Just an FYI, the Ever After is 12.00!! It is good, but not sure if it would be worth the price for some.

            Thank you for keeping the Hunter Family alive and well.And thank YOU Laura for sharing your gift with us. After WPF, I purchased all of your books. The WPF books are just something special. Can’t wait to see what happens next…

          • Miri says:

            Thank you for the suggestions Terry!!

      • Miri says:

        You’re welcome ladies! And yes! All that angst over a simple misunderstanding?! (In Allegiance)…couldn’t they have just cleared it up before he went overseas?! Lol

    • Laura says:

      That was LOL funny!

  33. janet says:

    did you guys watch this last night? Emma’s so funny!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HVH_I04ZrM&t=29s

  34. Tracie says:

    Janet I think Kim would have had to be Lina’s polar opposite, because he would of thought to much of Lina if they were comparable in looks… Also, BJ’s and sex from behind was probably his preferred method with her so he wouldn’t have to look her in the eyes…She was a hole and nothing else…

  35. Ann says:

    Good afternoon ladies!
    Just came onto the blog and can’t believe how much I’ve missed today. Laura, thank you for these deleted scenes, we just love them. Took me a while to read everything from the bottom up and in between. lol.

    First off, after reading about Phil in these scenes my blood pressure goes through the roof, again! You know I really love him, BUT, he can be the biggest jerk sometimes. I like how Lina was a little more forward with the slap, etc. but it still doesn’t take anything away from the original book.
    What I love about this family is the emotion. I found myself a little teary eyed while reading some of these scenes, basically because these are real people with real problems and real flaws. I love when an author can pull out all the feels. That’s talent, so thanks Laura.
    I’ve always gone back and forth on Phil, but I love flawed Phil too. He can be a jerk, but I know he loves his family more than anything. After reading these scenes with Kim harassing him I can feel somewhat sorry for him even though he’s at fault. Kim is a sick bitch. Really twisted in her mind. I think what’s always been hard for me is the 4 months with Kim. I’ve said this all along.

    Laura, thanks again for the Hunters.

  36. Tracie says:

    Laura was there a deleted scene where Kim actually came to the Hunter home to confront Phil?

    • Laura says:

      no, she never came to the house.

      • Tracie says:

        I think she knew that would have have pushed Phil way past his limit!

      • Miri says:

        Hi Laura, this is a little off topic, but I wanted to ask you yesterday but forgot…after what happened that night with Shiloh when they were teens, did Shiloh feel like Lina abandoned her by going to live with Phil and his family? I’m assuming that Shiloh also felt unsafe after that night like Lina did, and then when Lina left she was more alone…did she ever resent Lina for leaving instead of sticking around to help support Shiloh? After all they were there that night together, nobody could have understood what Shiloh was going through as much as Lina, I think…I have a big sis and I know there’s no way she’d leave me behind to deal with that kind of crisis by myself (love my big sis!! lol)

        • Laura says:

          That’s actually something I thought about when writing the book. The truth is Lina wasn’t capable of protecting Shiloh and knew it. I’m sure she felt guilty and that’s why she was always so worried about her.

          • Miri says:

            Thanks Laura, I always wondered about how Shiloh felt about that…I love Lina very much, I think she is a beautiful person inside and out, but I felt it was a bit selfish of her to leave when Shiloh needed her most…maybe Lina couldn’t physically protect her but she could have been there as just a stable and nurturing, supportive presence for Shiloh

          • Miri says:

            But nobody is perfect and I really do love Lina!! 😊❤️

          • Laura says:

            She was sixteen and completely traumatized, probably every bit as traumatized as Shiloh witnessing what happened. She couldn’t sleep through the night without having a panic attack without Phil. She would have been useless to Shiloh.

  37. Katie says:

    Well HAPPY Sunday, all! Jesus.
    While these scenes are very real, they’re too much info for me. I thought WPF was perfect as it was. The more talking, groveling, explaining, etc. there is, the more it sounds like excuses. I don’t think Phil is any more asshole in these scenes than I imagined him being. He acts very typical of an alpha who fucked up, is angry with himself, and just wants to move on. I get him. And this Lina is very feisty…not sure if I like her more this way or not.
    I personally wouldn’t want to know details. I would like hearing it was just a fuck and then I’d fill in the details myself. There are certain things I’d expect happened in an affair, and I wouldn’t need to hear it. I’m probably in the minority with all that I’m saying here. People hate Phil in WPF…but regardless of him being an asshole and supposedly not groveling enough, he’s the only Hero in a cheating book I’ve believed wouldn’t cheat again. In the end, if you’ll forgive an affair, THAT is what matters- the future, not the past.

    And honestly, as far as details go, men are clueless and could care less, much unlike women. So many times there will be some smut from my husband’s work or his family and I’ll ask so many questions, but all I get is, “I don’t know, I didn’t ask.” Grrrrrr.

    • Tracie says:

      I agree with you Kbabe and my husband use to say when I asked about the smut…I don’t know and even if I did how would it enrich your life by telling you LOL….

  38. Laura says:

    Tara — don’t you think berating yourself is a form of feeling sorry for yourself? Phil accepted responsibility — but he can’t undo the affair. His actions resulted in permanent damage to his family — I want to see him fix it, not feel sorry for himself. I hate when people call themselves names — one of my pet peeves lol

    • janet says:

      Huh? What did I call Phil? I’m sure I did but don’t remember.
      I just watched the trailer. I love Minnie driver but I don’t know if I can watch this movie.

      • Laura says:

        oops — I meant Tara. I corrected it. The movie is so well done, I enjoyed it. The affair aspect was interesting. The husband and wife wrote it together. Obviously the marriage survives

        • janet says:

          So they both seek comfort outside of their marriage?

          Also I just read the comment where you said you won’t publish because it was a completely a different book. It’s still HEA correct? I hate that you say flayed for it. Hate that. You have such a gift with words. Tara has a hard time with Phil because she told us she is married to one and to her credit she never asked for the details nor the bonus scenes. I just think of it as Phil exists because he cheated and we wouldn’t have the duet otherwise.

    • Tara says:

      I need to go back and read what I’ve posted…

      But, no, I actually don’t see it as feeling sorry for himself. I see it as part of the process of acknowledging and thus healing and moving forward. He knows what he’s done is wrong and hurtful and to a certain extent he has to realize that yes, Lina is the love of his life and his soul mate, but it shouldn’t be a given that she’s going to forgive him.

      At this point in their relationship how can he assume she’d trust him again, so no, I wouldn’t have a problem with him beating himself up. He actually does this in SN when he realizes what a hit Lina took to her self esteem.

      • Laura says:

        Okay — I understand what you mean. And I think his anger, which was obviously misdirected, was the result of realizing what a colossal mistake he made.

      • Tara says:

        I can’t find where I said berate, but I probably did. Berate is probably a strong word and I get why it could make someone think it’s a way to feel sorry, I see it more as a little bit of self flagellation.

  39. Laura says:

    And it was the pictures that brought everything home to Lina — seeing her husband touching another woman. There is no unseeing that. And the friends I have that have have dealt with infidelity — they didn’t want details, knowing he was with another woman was enough. Even the ones who stayed. And that was also the case in the movie I mentioned yesterday. It’s based on a true story — the details of the affair were insignificant. He had one. No matter what they say or how they grovel, it’s still there.

    • Tara says:

      I think the pictures bring everything into a greater context, in some ways Lina can try to ignore the affair and try to move forward, but pictures make it too real.

      I have an uncle that has lived out of the country for years, he has end stage cancer and my mother asked his wife to send pictures, she felt the need to see him near the end, yet my aunt won’t look at them as she won’t be able to unsee them.

      • janet says:

        What a great point you make here Tara. I’m sad to read this.

      • Laura says:

        Yep — I totally get that. Some of my siblings didn’t want to visit my grandmother in the hospital for the same reason.

        • Tracie says:

          The details will not eradicate Lina’s pain. They would only fuel her imagination…She said in SN those pictures destroyed her and her imagination did spin stories around them…Let’s survive the aftermath, the affair happened no government by back…

          • Tracie says:

            No going no back…where did government come from…I swear Big Brother is everywhere…LOL

          • janet says:

            I see fault in what you and Katie said Tracie. wanting to know the details about a dinner and your husband saying I don’t know I didn’t ask is a typical guy’s response. I agree. However it depends on the person about wanting to know the details of the affair. Lina not knowing the facts about the pictures did fuel her imagination and rightfully so. It wasn’t till SN and Phil explained those said pictures that Lina was finally able to let go once and for all. Why did she save the pictures for 1.5 yrs otherwise? Didn’t the picture Diane sent trigger “that look Phil only gives to Lina?” For me it was a powerful aha moment when Phil compares the two dancing pictures and points out the difference. Also, Laura has told us before if it weren’t for those damned pictures detail, Lina would have never left Phil. And she needed to do this right? Didn’t Lina become stronger for it? I’m one of those who need the past in order to know or predict the future. Yes, focus on the future but get your facts straight so you know what you are signing up for. Of course Phil redeemed himself. The last part is just me projecting

          • Katie says:

            I get what you’re saying Janet. But she didn’t want to know details until the pictures were put in her face. Of course she’d want an explanation after seeing the photos. There’s not usually a crazy ex-mistress sending pictures in these situations though making the wife ask for details.

          • Katie says:

            Janet, what you’re saying means that one or two details could make or break your decision? I’d want to know- why? What’s the affair indicative of in our relationship? How can fix it? Is it over, and would he do it again? The details don’t matter so much. To me anyway.

          • Tracie says:

            The details of the pictures, weighed on her mind because she saw them…Yes her imagination was off the charts with those photos, she even tells us she spun stories around them and needed Phil to clarify them for her, I get that and Loved Chapter 7 of SN. But I wouldn’t want to know about every conversation, text message, etc…For me that would be fueling the fire and clouding my ability to forgive him. Why keep heaping coals when I need to work with him in saving our marriage and not continually throwing up roadblocks that precludes us from moving forward…Now after he’s back and we are trying to work it out, then yes full disclosure because she is only stirring the pot out this point and not having sex with my husband. I see why you want the details…Was I the second choice and is he coming back because he’s in love with me or because I’m convenient…Like Laura said deeds and actions will prove that rather than details…

          • janet says:

            True Katie regarding Lina and other ladies too in real life. But how am I supposed to believe my husbands words that he will never do it again if I don’t know what happened? If he said I only slept with her and I say ok I believe you let’s move on and I forgive him, wouldn’t certain things come up later on where I’m questioning him all the time? Like if he wore a tie his mistress gave him I would later ask did she give you anything else? Did you? If he wants to try a new position for sex I would ask why, did you learn this somewhere else? If he freaking orders something other than salmon for crying out loud I would say why are you deviating from your normal order? You are a creature of habit and I don’t recognize these things! I’m making all this up but do you see how I am the gnawing type? So everything would matter to me and certain things would indeed make or break the marriage. Having said all that, what is true is that my husband travels a lot. He’s gone more than he’s with us and we have couple of places in Asia. I have heard from so many people that I need be with him but I trust my husband(i guess like Lina did). I think he’s work and his phone is the OW and like Lina I wouldn’t want to know if he were ever to cheat but if I found out the idiot did something bad I would want the facts

          • Miri says:

            Janet — “If he wants to try a new position for sex I would ask why, did you learn this somewhere else? If he freaking orders something other than salmon for crying out loud I would say why are you deviating from your normal order?”…” I am the gnawing type? So everything would matter to me and certain things would indeed make or break the marriage”… — This is so totally me also!! I think in my mind I would be trying to determine just how deep it all went, trying to get the whole picture…I would need to be convinced (with details) that it really was meaningless…because if I could believe that it was indeed meaningless then maybe I could get over it more easily

        • Katie says:

          Right. I totally get it J. These conversations stop being about Lina and Phil and become more about how we personally feel about affairs and what should happen on both sides. I’ve loved these convos, actually, because I know myself better re: this topic. And maybe I loved WPF without complaint because that’s how I’d see it going down, for myself, for my parents, etc.
          Of course things would come up- like if my husband suddenly wanted to try new things in bed- that would be very hurtful, and I would have to ask questions. Of course! But my personality would let it go much faster than most- just based on how I’m wired and my experiences. For example, in the steamboat scene in SN, I didn’t need to know about the “she woke me up giving me a blowjob; that’s all!” And some would want to know how long she did it for, if it was better than when the wife did it, etc. etc. Just different personalities. It’s all good. 😘😘

          • janet says:

            Ding ding- become more about how we personally view affairs. So true Kbabe. 👩‍❤️‍👩💗

          • Miri says:

            Katie — “But my personality would let it go much faster than most- just based on how I’m wired and my experiences.” — I WISH I was more like this, I stew and it takes me forever to get over some things and the person I drive the most crazy in the process is myself! lol

          • Hinata says:

            I’m exactly like you Miri..
            Overthinking and overanalyzing everything..

    • Hinata says:

      Yes true
      I think before moving on ..the person cheating should put it all out ..their should be no secrets between a married couple of they want to stay that way even after the disaster

      It leaves the other person in the dark if the better half won’t tell anything about their cheating deeds..and it’s not fair beacuse the faithful one is always faithful,hoping the same from their partner and it just makes them insecure even if they don’t acknowledge it openly

      And it’s a kind of relief even if it’s painful..

      • Miri says:

        Hinata — “it just makes them insecure even if they don’t acknowledge it openly” — at one point in SW Phil reflects to himself that his affair damaged Lina’s confidence..that part made me so sad for her

        • Hinata says:

          Yes me too… whenever I read a cheating novel theirs always this insecurity in heroine regarding her appearance…everytime I read those lines my heart breaks for them..
          I get soo mad as to what wrong have they done to have self doubt and feel inferior…

  40. Tara says:

    I like this Lina, but not Phil!!

    She’s showing strength and a feistiness that maybe took longer in WPF. But, Phil, he’s too much.

    Angry? Frustrated? Expects to just move forward? “I don’t know what you want me to say”?? Really? How about “I’m an asshole that doesn’t deserve you and I’m sorry.” He could start with that!

    And, this is exactly why I don’t need all the nitty, gritty details. Phil frustrated me in WPF, this Phil probably would have had me throwing my iPad against a wall! Deep breathe, it’s all good 🙃

    • Laura says:

      Yes, the editor said the only person who could love this guy is his mother.

      • Tara says:

        I just literally laughed out loud!

      • Tracie says:

        I don’t know if Susan was all the crazy about him when she heard what he had done…

      • Miri says:

        Laura, Thank you SO SO much…it’s like Christmas morning every time you post new scenes, I get so freakin excited,..I simply cannot get enough of this couple, whether they’re fighting or loving…you are the BEST :))) Please consider putting out an e-book for us super fans of all the deleted material, editors be damned! lol

      • Hinata says:

        So true!!😂😂😂

        I guess his mother was also a bit heart broken after what he did to Lina whom she knew from a very young age and treated like her own daughter

    • janet says:

      But how do you come back from an affair and heal without this type of detail? I don’t need the sex was better with Kim type of details but unless we take Phil’s words it was just a F at value, I think this type of explanation is necessary in a cheating novel. Shouldn’t the woman know everything before she decides whether to stay in the relationship or let go?

      • Laura says:

        A lot of women don’t want to know the details — they just want it to go away. They know he had an affair and they want to put it behind them. This is actually more normal in my experience

        • janet says:

          I don’t know. I would have inferiority complex without fully knowing about the husbands extracurricular activity and always wonder. I realize that’s just me. I can see other women not wanting to know if they want to salvage the marriage.
          Either way all the scenes were gape worthy and I know
          I would have loved the Affair. Maybe Tara and Tracie not as much.

          • Tara says:

            If Phil Idid enough groveling, I probably would have like the Affair. At this point, from what we’re seeing, I’m not sure how much I would liked him, not that I need to like a character to enjoy the story.

          • Tracie says:

            You are right Janet the affair would of probably ate at me….It was even hard for me to read the deleted scene about the 25th anniversary…

        • Miri says:

          Laura, I need to know, was there any sweet/dirty talk between Phil and Kim throughout their encounters? They couldn’t have just done it for 4 months in silence…was there any “I want you” “you make me so hot” “I love it when you…” etc etc…did he call her ‘baby’ when he was all in the moment? I’m sorry I keep torturing you! I just need to know HOW BAD Phil was when he was being bad…plus he seems like he’s be dominant in bed (yowza!) lolll

          • Laura says:

            Oh God — LOL. Good question. Lots of BJs. Lots of sex from behind. Lots of F-ing and like he told Lina — she’s the only one he made love to. Probably the most romantic thing he would say to her is something a long the lines of “I want to F you or Fu– you give great head.”

          • janet says:

            Omg I love this answer!! Miri is asking the same questions I did. Lol. Miri, Phil never gave Kim any presents either. I asked Laura did he ever stare into Kim’s eyes when they were doing it and she said no way. Omg lots of bj. 🤮😳😱🤗🤗🤗😈.
            Who am I today with all these emojis. I’m 50 this year! I need a life. Laura you are a brave Author to tackle this subject matter.

          • Miri says:

            “Oh God — LOL. Good question. Lots of BJs. Lots of sex from behind. Lots of F-ing and like he told Lina — she’s the only one he made love to. Probably the most romantic thing he would say to her is something a long the lines of “I want to F you or Fu– you give great head.””

            Ok, I guess I can live with that. (lolllll!!) (actually this quite mollifies me)

            Laura have I mentioned already that you’re THE BEST?!?! KISSESS!!!

          • Tara says:

            Now you see, that was TMI for me, yuck!

          • Miri says:

            Janet! I’m so glad you said that (he never stared into her eyes), I hadn’t even thought of that!! haha…and we DO have lives!! We’re just putting them on hold right now, lolll!!!

          • Tracie says:

            I need to also clarify that he didn’t cuddle with her either like he does Lina…Phil wouldn’t have had that connection with Kim. She was his pounding bag, dirty girl, no respect sex…But I guarantee Lina wasn’t a prude with Phil and he probably did her from behind but with feeling not just for release…Lina is his Girl! He even tells her in SN that he wanted to F her but Liam wouldn’t hush! Laura am I right?

          • Hinata says:

            LOL Miri

            If at all if Laura said yes to any of those “I want you..”s or ‘you make me so hot..’s etc..

            I would be 1000 times furious with Phil and never would have returned to read any deleted scenes anymore…because it is messing with my head so bad already..
            Thanks Laura you saved by saying that
            😂😂😂

      • Miri says:

        100% with you on this Janet, I would want to know EVERYTHING before deciding what to do

        • Miri says:

          And YES, Tara, need more groveling! Either way I’d love to read a “the Affair” novella so I could get more of Phil’s perspective while he was doing what he was doing for 4 months

        • janet says:

          Miri I just know it would eat me up inside otherwise.

          • Miri says:

            Same here Janet, I would want to see every text message, I’d want to know dates, times, places, HOW MANY TIMES per day, everything! In yesterday’s post, on the airplane when Lina mentions Kim’s breasts, that would’ve salted my earth, feeling like the OW was sexier than me and my husband went for that…If I knew enough of those details, I could determine how serious it was overall, and whether or not I could move forward with him (but a baby with the OW is something I would not be able to get past)

          • janet says:

            Miri! Me too about what you said. I said same things before. Phil is a very charismatic character to me and this couple shared 25 yrs of history so I understand Lina being happier with Phil than without him. Let’s just leave it at that but keep grilling Lina for our details. Lol. Hopefully we can break her down and get the affair out of her. Please!!👩‍❤️‍👩🥰😘🙋‍♀️

    • Miri says:

      “It wasn’t just a “fuck” as he so eloquently put it. No, he had a full blown affair with the woman. He’d spent time with her outside of a bedroom.” …SO PAINFUL

      “The only person that seemed to be unscathed in all of this was Phil. He was sleeping soundly in bed with his wife while she dealt with the painful truth of his infidelity and his pregnant ex-mistress pined away for him.” …why does he get to sleep so well after all the destruction he’s wrought? I wish he was full of anxiety, desperation, and angst, not so composed and self contained, like “well what’s done is done, and I apologized”…

      Sorry Laura, I know I keep harping on the same things over and over…I guess I just wish he would’ve groveled more…but that’s not our Phil lol

      • janet says:

        I don’t think guys are wired this way. I totally know what you mean. Whenever my husband and I have fights he has no problems eating and snoring away while I sit there and stew. Maybe this is tmi but long long time ago we had a huge fight when the kids were little and I didn’t eat for 5 days straight. If you know how much I love carbs and sugar you know it’s a big deal for me not to crave food but I just couldn’t eat or sleep. However my husband has no such problem. This goes for my dad and my brother too so I know I’m not alone dealing with obtuse guys! Lina should have yanked Phil’s hair so he wakes up from a nice sleep like I did to husband

        • Miri says:

          “Lina should have yanked Phil’s hair so he wakes up from a nice sleep like I did to husband”….I think that’s perfect! haha! Will definitely try that the next time a guy makes me mad then falls asleep on me…if I’m awake, he’d better be too! lolll

          • janet says:

            Bless your petty vindictive soul Miri!

            I’m curious, other than our Laura, who is your favorite author? Do you read any other genres besides romance?

          • Tara says:

            OMG! Miri and Janet, you have me laughing out loud. I’ve been known to go to extremes to get my husband’s attention, half gallon of Newman’s Own Lemonade in the back of the head! Who knew you could throw lemonade like a football?

        • Miri says:

          Tara — Newman’s Own Lemonade?? Ouch!! loll!!

      • Miri says:

        Janet, yes! lol…I can’t pretend to be otherwise haha..I can put up with a lot when I love someone and be infinitely patient and compassionate, but cheating would hurt me like nothing else, it would take forever for me to get over it…when I love it’s with major devotion and passion, so my reaction to disloyalty is just as keenly felt lol

        I love reading ‘dark romance’ (Addison Cain (Born to be Bound, The Golden Line), Hold by Claire Kent, Gallow’s Pole by Eris Adderly, The Eighth House by Eris Addelrly (a retelling of the Persephone/Hades myth) quite a few books by AJ Adams (Helpless, The Bonus), Island Captive by Jane Henry, Monster Stepbrother by Harlow Grace, The Aquisition series by Celia Aaron, Daddy’s Home by Zoe Blake, The Comfort series by Annabel Joseph (if you’re ok with elements of bdsm), The Dominator series and the Beautiful Biker series by DD Prince, The McCloud Brothers series by Shannon McKenna, Tillie Cole (It Ain’t Me Babe), Madeline Sheehan’s biker MC series…the third one (?) (or is it the 4th?) is about the consequences of cheating, the Submission series by CD Reiss, also her The Edge series…oh my gosh, there are so many I love, but that’s a start..
        for lighter fare I like anything by Mariana Zapata, Penny Reid, Sally Thorne, RS Grey, Tara Sivec…for mysteries I like Michael Connelly and Denis Lehane…when I was younger I loved chick lit (Rachel’s holiday, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, by Maraian Keyes, Mr Perfect by Jane Green, Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin) but then I got into dark/sexy romance…I came across Laura’s books randomly and read her first two (a sense of belonging and when I first saw you…went crazy over them so I went ahead and read WPF..and then SN..and now I’m fully obssessed and see no end in sight lolll)

        • janet says:

          Thank you so much Miri! I took a snapshot and will go through the list tonight. I have Born to be Bound but haven’t read it yet. I love Mariana Zapata too. Did she write Lingus? That was so good.

  41. Laura says:

    a little while later…

    She was thinking about how to respond when the bedroom door opened and Phil entered. “I need you to change the bandage.” He walked past her and into the bathroom.
    Lina set down her phone and followed him into the large master bath. He was seated in front of her vanity, his face expressionless, obviously still upset from her recent words. She moved between his legs and placed one hand on his shoulder as peeled back the bandage with the other and peered at the fresh scar, feeling remorse once again for hitting him. The surgeon had done a nice job, but there was going to be a permanent scar. She gently touched the skin around the wound. It was a slightly pink and a little swollen, but the doctor said to expect that. She reached around him and picked up the cotton ball and cleaning solution and lightly ran it over his skin.
    “Does it hurt?”
    “No.” He breathed in and out deeply.
    When she finished cleaning it she slowly applied a medicated ointment and then she recovered it with a fresh bandage. “I’m done,” she said lightly as she ran her finger along the tape on the edge of his cheek. She made no move to step back as she continued to run her finger over the sealed tape, her other hand still resting on his shoulder.
    “Lina?” He asked when she continued to linger. “What are you doing?” His hands were spread out on each of his thighs and he hadn’t touched her since entering the bathroom.
    “I don’t know.” She moved her finger to his lower lip, tracing the outline. “I’m sorry I hit you,” she whispered.
    “I know you are,” he said deeply, his eyes meeting hers, “but if you don’t want me to touch you are going to have to stop touching me.”
    She felt tears come to her eyes and couldn’t believe how often she cried lately. “My mind is a mess. One minute I hate you and the next I love you.”
    “Oh baby,” he moved his hands off his thighs and gripped her hips. “I’m sorry.” He propelled her forward and she dropped her face into the crook of his neck. “I’m going to make this up to you,” he promised wrapping his arms around her. “Don’t cry – please don’t cry.”
    She didn’t know what it was – the fact that she had permanently scarred him or that he had permanently scarred their relationship, but she couldn’t stop the tears that fell unabated from her eyes as her body was wracked by sobs. At some point he pulled her onto his lap and just held her, her face buried in his neck, his arms wrapped around her until she was completely cried out.
    “I’m sorry,” she whispered as she lifted her head. “I just can’t seem to control myself.”
    “No,” he shook his head, his own eyes full of regret. “I’m the one who is sorry, Lina. You haven’t done anything wrong.”
    “I did that,” she said, her eyes dropping to the bandage.
    “No,” he shook his head. “I’m responsible for that too.” He moved his hands down her back and then to her hips. “Come on,” he said pushing her gently off his lap. “The grill is more than warmed up and the tuna has been out of the refrigerator long enough.”

    • Tara says:

      This scene made the up for the first one, now the deep breathe is working! LOL.

    • Tracie says:

      Oh my gosh..Poor Lina…how she hurt..Knowing what their family is goIng to go through, I honestly believe Phil when he says he’ll never forgive himself in SN and how he could absolutely hate Kim…Some commented Phil was to harsh to Kim and she was made out to be the bad guy to make Phil look better…No Kim deserved everything she got! The scene you did with Liam hollering for Lina and snuggling with Logan shows they are becoming a cohesive family, I needed that and wouldn’t mind a few more. Love how you pull from heart!

    • Hinata says:

      Why the hell did this discussion between them change from Phil taking kim to steamboat to Lina scarring Phil’s face though he deserved it

      This is soo unfair

      One minute I read Lina is making some sense the other minute everything is gone inti something ridiculous pufff..!shit!

      I’m so angry right now

      And why the is it Lina feeling sorry

      Everytime it’s Phil who makes rock size mistakes and Lina makes stone size mistakes..but Lina is the one to apologise
      and Phil acts as if he is the right one..shit!I’m sick of this

      Ugh…

      Anyway thanks Laura for this scene

      • Miri says:

        “Everytime it’s Phil who makes rock size mistakes and Lina makes stone size mistakes..but Lina is the one to apologise
        and Phil acts as if he is the right one..” I agree Hinata, he is maddening!!! lol

  42. Tracie says:

    Like father Like son…His reaction to the tryouts reminds me of Logan when he was mad over the D in history and lashed out at Phil. That scene is sad for Lina, but she is right Phil is getting to live his life like nothing happened when her world is crumbling..He was losing control in this scene and it’s got him turning toward anger….Lina turning from him and now Logan a lot to handle…

    • janet says:

      Lord have mercy on Phil. I’m glad Lina slapped him and cut him. He deserved it and I think most women would react this way.
      Also, Laura I noticed Lina saying all the cold phone calls between Phil and Kim she overheard? Was it better than I’ll never marry you phone convo? I was more sad reading the part when Lina realized it was more than a f. That made my heart hurt.

      • Laura says:

        When Lina returned to the kitchen Phillip was still not in the house, so she went outside in search of him. As she left the garage she heard his voice coming from the right of the driveway and as she walked through the grass towards his voice she realized he was on the deck. He was arguing with whoever was on the other end of the line and she felt her heart rate quicken as a feeling of trepidation gripped her. It was Kim, she thought. Why else would he be standing on the deck instead of coming into the house? And who else would he be quarreling with at 8:15 on a Friday evening.
        She slowly approached the stairs that led up to the deck, her arms folded across her chest, chilled slightly by the cool evening temperatures. “Calm the fuck down,” he was saying when she came close enough to hear, “Calm down…..Did I ever say that?…..No – no, you listen. Kim, listen damn it. Did I ever tell you I was going to leave my wife? Did I? No, you answer the fucking question….answer the question Kim. Did I ever tell you I was going to leave my wife? That’s right, because I never had any intention of leaving her…..Jesus Christ – you knew I was married. You knew I had three kids. Did you really think I was going to leave my family for you?….then you were living in a fucking fantasy world!”
        Lina sat down on the wooden steps, out of sight of Phil, continuing to listen to one side of the conversation. “Listen very carefully – okay. Just shut the fuck up and listen to me! I am going to make this very clear….Are you listening? Are you listening? Shut up and listen to me! I will meet my legal obligation and that’s it! If you think for a minute I’m going to be part of any of this prenatal stuff you are delusional.” There was a long pause as he listened to whatever Kim was saying and then he was speaking again, “You have got to be the most frustrating person I’ve had the misfortune of knowing my entire life……Look, this is your decision and you are on your own! Do you understand me?…Fuck! Are you black mailing me, now?……Well, that’s what it sounds like…..You leave her the fuck out of this! Do you understand me? You fucking leave her alone!” He was livid Lina realized. “Are you listening to yourself – you need help. You sound like a fucking nut. Did I ever tell you I loved you?…………Did I ever tell you I loved you?……….Bull shit! That’s bullshit and you know it! ……….I DON’T WANT YOU! I AM NEVER GOING TO WANT YOU!” Another long pause and then he was speaking again, “It has nothing to do with her. She could leave me and I still wouldn’t want you! You are just a woman I fucked. That’s the fucking truth, so stop romanticizing this.”
        Lina stood and walked slowly back to the house, having heard more than enough. She didn’t even know the Phil who was talking on the phone with his vulgar language and harsh words. She supposed part of her should be pleased that he was so cold to the other women, seeing it as confirmation she meant nothing to him, but she couldn’t take any comfort in witnessing such a nasty display from the man she loved her entire adult life.

        She was in the process of heating his dinner when he entered the kitchen 10 minutes later. “Sorry,” he said as he opened the refrigerator, “I had a work call.” He pulled out a bottle of beer and twisted the lid off with his hand.
        “Really?” She had her back to him as she stood at the stove stirring the chicken stir fry. “Is that what she is?”
        He took a long swallow from the bottle before responding. “What is that supposed to mean?” He was leaned back against the counter, his free hand pulling at the knot in his tie.
        She turned off the stove and poured the contents of the pan onto a plate filled with rice before turning to face him, the plate in her hand, “First define what a work call is and then I will tell you what I mean.”
        He took another swallow from his bottle, his eyes following her movement as she walked to the table and set down his dinner. “I don’t like word games.”
        “And I don’t like being lied to,” she returned turning to face him. “I heard you Phil. I came outside looking for you and heard your conversation.”
        “I didn’t see a point in telling you,” he said, pushing away from the counter. “It was nothing.”
        “Nothing? It didn’t sound like nothing to me. And you didn’t have to lie. I didn’t ask why you were held up.” She pointed out.
        He sighed. “I don’t need a lecture. Between the appointment and that call, I’ve about reached my limit for one night.” He pulled out a chair and sat down.
        “I don’t think asking my husband not to lie to me is a lecture.”
        “You’ve called me a bastard, asshole and liar tonight. Do you think you could cut me a little slack?” He picked up his fork. “Or at least wait until I’m done eating.”
        “I’m not in the wrong here. You lied to me. I’m not going to feel guilty about calling you out on it.” Lina retrieved her wine glass and the wine bottle from the counter before joining him at the table.
        “I’m sorry,” he said, pausing with the fork at his mouth. “Can we let this go?”
        “Phil,” she whispered intensely, not wanting Katie to overhear. “I just overheard a pretty nasty conversation. I don’t think wanting to talk about for a minute is unreasonable.”
        “Fuck,” he shook his head. “Can we do this in a place where there isn’t a chance we’ll be overheard?”
        She sighed, knowing he was right and then stayed silent for a few minutes while she watched him eat. “How did the appointment go?”
        He finished the food in his mouth before answering. “Is Katie still home?”
        “She’s upstairs getting ready. She’s going to a movie with Matt.”
        “We’re not supposed to talk in open areas, remember?” He raised his eyebrows, his eyes meeting hers. Lina picked up her wineglass, feeling appropriately chastised. He was right, of course. They weren’t supposed to discuss anything to do with Katie within earshot of the kids.
        As if on cue, Katie entered the room. “Bye,” she said loud enough to be heard for a change.
        “Be home by midnight,” Phil said. “Katie?”
        “I will,” she said before leaving.
        “So how did it go?” Lina asked.
        The sound of Phil’s cellphone ring had him setting down his fork and reaching into his pocket. “Fuck,” he said when he saw the number of the incoming caller and then he was muting the sound and tossing the phone on the table.
        “Kim?” Lina asked, surprised at how easy her name came off her lips.
        “Yeah,” He nodded, his jaw clenched. He picked up is fork and continued to eat. Moments later his phone went off again and he reached out with his free hand and turned it off.
        “What does she want Phil?”
        He shook his head as he leaned back in his chair, setting down his fork. “I don’t know.”
        “Is this our new reality – having another person in our life?”
        He wiped his mouth with a napkin and tossed it on his half eaten food. “I’m trying to protect you from this.”
        “It’s too late for that,” she said lightly.
        The sound of their home phone ringing had them both pushing back their chairs. “Let me get it,” Phil said walking around the table towards the phone on the wall. He glanced at the caller id. “Jesus Christ,” he said shortly, his eyes finding Lina. “Who else is home?”
        “No one.” Both Logan and Megan had gone out after dinner.
        “I told you not to call my house,” Phil said into the receiver. “No….Don’t threaten – don’t threaten me!” His back was to Lina and he had one hand flat on the wall as he listened to whatever Kim was saying. “And I will slap you with a restraining order! What in the fuck do you want from me?” He laughed without humor. “And this is your method of accomplishing that?” Lina watched him, wondering what the woman on the end of the line was saying. “Do what you have to do,” he said, his voice sounding tired but calmer. “Clearly, I have no power here……fine……fine…..Then stop pressuring me – stop making demands of me….This isn’t my choice Kim….I realize that, but you can’t make me participate. I will send whatever support the court demands and that’s it….No….I don’t give a fuck. You are the one who is choosing to bring this kid into the world without a father….Yeah, that’s right and I will sleep fine at night….fine – do what you have to do, but if you step on my property, I’m slapping you with a restraining order and you can kiss your career goodbye….no, that’s a promise….and the same goes for the phone calls – stop harassing me, because that’s what this is….You have no right to call me…from this point on we will talk through attorneys. And if you value your job, you will leave me alone – because I’m not putting up with this harassment another minute.” He slammed down the receiver.
        Lina watched him in silence as he dropped his head forward into the wall and stood there without moving for several seconds before slowly pushing back off the wall. “I’m going to take a shower,” he said finally not looking at her. “And then we need to talk.” He left the room before calling a final instruction over his shoulder, “Don’t answer the phone if it rings.”

        • janet says:

          Holy shitzzzzzzzz. That’s what I’m talking about. What a hateful witch. She is a horrible character and such a good villain. I loved it. Why do I like this version so much better than WPF chapter 15? I loveeeed it Laura. Holy moly. That was insane.

          • Laura says:

            and in defense of Phil, this is what he was dealing with with Lina…

            “I know this is hard and I know it’s my fault,” be began his face serious as his eyes met hers, “but you are sending me very mixed signals. One minute you want every detail about a insignificant conversation I have with her and the next you’re telling me,” he squeezed her arm gently when she began to interrupt him, “please let me finish. The next you’re telling you don’t want to hear anything. You need to decide which of those you want because I can’t do both – you don’t have to decide right now,” he said when she again looked like she was going to interrupt him, “just think about it and we can discuss it more tonight.”
            He was right, she didn’t know what she wanted. No, she did know what she wanted. She wanted the impossible. She wanted to wake up and realize this was all just a bad dream.

          • janet says:

            I think Lina wanting to know one minute then telling him not to tell her the next is normal no? It’s OK for Phil because he knows in his heart Kim meant nothing to him but to a wife who is older, doesn’t have the same level of education, and has a flat chest, how can I blame her for her indecisiveness? It’s almost as if she has to know for reassurance but when the details are revealed she hated asking for them. And I know Phil probably wishes Lina could see inside his head so she knows once and for all. I gotta say though I wish phil had picked another slim brunette to cheat with instead of Linas polar opposite. Argggh!!

          • Tara says:

            I actually think it makes sense that Lina would be all over the place, one minute wanting details and then it becoming too much and wanting to know less. This really is ugly and sad!

        • Tara says:

          Yowza!!

          I don’t feel remotely sorry for Kim, she chased after and had an affair with a married man. I guess she thought she could manipulate everything to her favor. But, there isn’t much I like about Phil either. He chose to escape life at home by having an affair. He can’t have it both ways, these are his consequences, not Lina’s and whether he likes it or not, Kim thinks they had a relationship.

          Consequences for both Phil and Kim are UGLY!

          • janet says:

            Yes but when will we ever like a cheater? They are not your everyday hero in romance novels. We just root for the guy he was before the affair and see if the author can redeem him in the end right?

          • Laura says:

            What does groveling do exactly? It’s just words, right? It’s so easy to apologize and promise never to do something again — actions — years of action — putting Lina first, treasuring her and the family — those are the only things can redeem Phil.

          • Tara says:

            Janet, I agree, cheaters aren’t likeable, but who they become as they move forward and heal their relationship should be, these glimpses of Phil aren’t about healing. It would be interesting to see how redeemable he would have been in this version.

          • Tara says:

            Laura, for me, groveling is two fold: words and deeds. As a reader I want the words, particularly if we don’t have the cheaters POV. But, ultimately, it’s the behavior going forward that heals a relationship.

          • janet says:

            Laura, I think the groveling is for us more than for Lina. My husband is not an alpha like Phil as you know but he will never get down on his knees and grovel. It’s not reality. Actually he becomes a scary whole when we fight so maybe he becomes an alpha in those moments. I agree with you. Groveling is just words but it pacifies us.
            I like the part when Lina shows sass by saying oh is that what she is? When Phil says it was work. And loved the all caps I don’t want you. I will never want you. Sigh Phil.

          • Laura says:

            It’s only deed for me. I may have to delete this message because it probably has too much personal information, but I am well versed on cheating husbands and the better the groveler the more likely they cheat again — actions — that’s what I tell Jordan to look for and judge by.

          • Tara says:

            Janet, I think you’re right, as readers we need the apology, contrition needs to be part of the forgiveness process. Laura’s also right in that an apology is just words, if nothing backs it up, it means nothing!

          • Laura says:

            I think the reason this novel and Phil resonated so much with readers is because he’s real. He isn’t a typical H from a novel. He’s complex and flawed. But he will never cheat again — and he will live with the knowledge that he disappointed and hurt everyone he cares about.

          • Tracie says:

            That scene was crazy…Phil had a woman on his ass that wouldnt take no for an answer and Kim was probably wondering what the hell am I going to do with a kid that was nothing but a prop in sealing the deal with Phil and now she probably felt a little stuck her self as we see in SN. Lina alternating between wanting and not wanting to know all things is a way to protect her heart…Me and Janet talked about this extensively in earlier threads, wondering how much could Lina actually take and when would the lines Phil crossed stop multiplying….But I’ll fight anyone tooth and nail that says Phil didn’t suffer consequences. I’m surprised he didn’t drop dead of an heart attack from the stress of it all, plus beating himself up because he betrayed Lina….He knows he got himself into this mess and it damn sure wasn’t worth it. But like he said in SN, I can’t go back now and not have done it…Phil goes into damage control mode and in my opinion put Lina first….

          • Tracie says:

            I so agree with you Laura…my ex could spin a tail and grovel like no other…My final straw was when he had a hickey on his neck and tried to convince me that I did it..After that, I shipped his ass off faster than the North Atlantic Fleet can leave port…Just saying…

          • Tara says:

            Laura, absolutely, these books work amazingly because he is a complex and flawed and Lina is loving and forgiving.

            Tracie, Phil does suffer consequences, justified consequences. He should be beating himself up as Lina is not only dealing with the consequences but the betrayal too.

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