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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?”


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?”


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. 


“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.”


            “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.”


            “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.
“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?”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.


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.”

784 Comments on “A White Picket Fence — Deleted Scenes

  1. HI Ladies — I started a new thread. I published the original scene where Phil comes home — I’ll give you something better soon. I’m still not done with The Bronze Horseman and I can’t concentrate on anything else.
    Miri — If I can’t find one of those scenes I’ll write a new one. And Tracie — I will give you a touching scene that includes something with Logan and Liam.

  2. Hi Everyone!

    I’ve been lost in the Bronze Horseman all weekend — I’m almost done! When I finish I’ll write the promised scene — sorry I’m taking so long. If you haven’t read the Bronze Horseman, I HIGHLY recommend it! The third book has been my favorite but I loved them all.

    • Hi Laura! I’m glad you’re enjoying it, it’s on my TBR list! I love weekends where I lose myself in books, but then Monday morning I’m always a bit disoriented loll..I’m so glad you enjoyed your weekend! You must have needed it after a long work week!
      Don’t rush!! We are always here, we’re not going anywhere! Lol
      One teensy request..if you come across any old scenes of a young Lina and Phil (in their teens, twenties, thirties..you had mentioned some “flashback” scenes), can you please share them with us? I seriously swoon over those hehe…Thank you!! Hugs and kisses from Toronto! ????

  3. Laura I’m still having the vertigo. My first Physical Therapy appointment is tomorrow. I do have my fingers crossed it works. Thanks for asking doll….

      • Janet I’m sorry, I still can’t figure out how to start a new comment, so I’m piggy-backing onto yours lol

        Oooh I have a juicy angsty question for all the ladies here, whoever wants to chime in…Let’s say, in Lina’s distress and confusion over the affair/saparation from Phil, she goes ahead and sleeps with Nick (hehe), maybe even has a relationship with him for a few months..and Phil finds out..do you think think Phil would still reconcile with Lina in the end, if she asked him to? Or would he be too angry and jealous to do that? what do you girls think??

    • My fingers are crossed for you too, Tracie. I know so many people who have experienced symptoms like yours — in all cases, it did go away.

    • Laura can we start a new feed this weekend? I’m starting to get lost….LOL. You knowit is not hard for me..

      I’m still at 70 percent on the first BH…I will finish though!

      Miri I love watching you on what I call the Hunter High! I think about them like they are real as well…Their story just grips you and you want more…I’m hoping Laura can find time to write a new scene. What would you like to see…I’m all about the Logan and Liam bonding or a steamy with Phil and Lina…Yes…

      • Thanks girls for crossing those fingers for me…The therapy should start working in 3 to 4 weeks…I have a weakness in my left ear that has to be strengthened and the SCM muscle in my neck has to be stretched and is also fueling the vertigo. I have daily exercises and hope that does the trick…

        Laura I hope your new drop is starting to level out for you and you have found your groove….I would love working with you!

        If you haven’t seen it on the news Oklahoma is flooding…We had two huge barges break their tether at the Port of Muskogee and the current is so fast they couldn’t be stopped…They floated down the Arkansas River and hit the dam by Webber Falls and sunk like the Titanic when they hit…It was unreal….You can probably see it on YouTube. Webber Falls was evacuated because the entire town is almost underwater and some people were refusing to leave, so they told them to write their names on their forearms with permanent markers so they could identify their bodies… I would of looked like the dude on that movie The Matrix getting of that town…I’m talking a blur is all you would of saw of me….

      • Hi Tracie! Yes, still on that Hunters high! Lolll…Laura I’m so excited to read a new scene! Anything will do!! Maybe one of the deleted scenes of them in the “past” when they were younger? And Phil was being his sexy dominant self? I LOVED their first meeting scene at the dance…”I’m going to marry you one day”…SWOON!!!!

  4. Hey girls!!
    I’ve been off the grid for a while since my little chihuahua passed. I love all you guys and I thank Laura for bringing us all together.
    Phil and Lina are my favorite couple!!! I can’t get enough of Phil. I’ve read those books at least 3 or more times.
    For Janet, I’m 30% into The Summer Garden (Bronze Horse Trilogy). It’s taking me forever to finish these 3 books but I absolutely love them! Thanks for turning me onto them. I don’t mean to discuss them on Laura’s blog.
    Laura I hope your new position is going well!
    Oh, and Tracie, congratulations on your upcoming retirement.

    • Ann — you can talk all you want about the Bronze Horse books — I just wanted to be warned because I’m reading them. I just finished the first one — wow, what a long book. I started the second one this evening. I can definitely see similarities between Phil and Alexander. I hope you’re feeling better.

    • Hi Ann! I hope you are doing well, or at least getting there…it sounds like you were/are the best dog momma…I know your baby lived a beautiful life because of you 🙂

      I can’t get enough of Phil and Lina either…I KNOW they’re fictional characters, but they’re just so real to me, I find myself thinking about them regularly, like I know them personally and I wonder how they’re getting along now, what they’re up to, etc…

      Have a great evening ladies, I love chatting with you all; and Laura, I hope everything is going great at your new job, they’re lucky to have you!

    • Horse!

      Hi Ann!!! I hope you are doing better. Summer garden is the 3rd book I think. Are you done with the “mother of all battles” scene yet?(between A and T)

    • Ann glad you are feeling better sugar and thank you. I’ve been in interviews all morning with possible candidates for my job. I remember when I first started my career, I use to look at people close to retirement and couldn’t wait until they did, so I could move up the ladder. Those interviews today made me realize times haven’t changed. Those eager faces looking back at me were thinking the very exact same thing I was.

      • Tracie, I am doing better. I received the sweetest letter from my veterinarian. She’s the best and she made me feel better.
        Janet I am 50% in the third book in Bronze Horseman trilogy. So good!
        Laura I’m going down to Ocean pines tomorrow and I think white picket fence will be read again!!! Lol.

        • I am 30 percent into the second Horse book and looking forward to reading over the long weekend. I hope Alexander finds her soon — it’s driving me crazy. Ann enjoy the beach — it’s nice that you can get down there before the crowd tomorrow. I spent last weekend in Rehobeth Beach — Chandlers first time in the ocean — he loved it!

  5. Hi all!!!

    Laura, how’s work? Stressful? Who takes care of chandler when you are at work? I miss you posting everyday. Lol. We are so selfish!!

    Tracie, I hate that you aren’t 100 percent. I almost tripped over a tree stump while I was on a walk last week and my heart dropped to my privates. Omg tmi but I felt like one of those osteo commercial ads. I just knew if I fell I might not be able to get up and it made me so depressed. I hope therapy is working for you.

    Miri, you are a treasure!! Go find Phil! Stake out that liquor store!! Do you date? I know so many people who got married through dating apps(including my sister), I say you have nothing to lose if you haven’t given it a try. My only advice to add is have separate bathrooms! I swear by this.

    I just finished a cheating duet. Ironically it’s titled The Affair and has 3 POVs- wife, husband, and the mistress. The writing was OK but couldn’t sympathize with any of them. Laura wrote the best one.
    Also, Circe was surprisingly good. Little bleak and a lot like a K drama angst fest but I definitely recommend it.

    • Hi Janet!! Thank you! I went back to the store this weekend but my Toronto Phil wasn’t there! Sigh… loll I was so disappointed :(((
      I tried online dating several times, I also know people who met their partners online and are happy…BUT!! my luck has been pretty brutal on there lol, mainly guys asking for me for naked photos or wanting to send me their naked photos (I’m talking grown ass men, not 20 year olds), and a few guys who, after chatting for a bit, remember to mention that they’re married and is that a problem…I wrote on my profile very clearly that I’m looking for a serious and long term relationship, but is it a problem that they’re married?!?! GROSSSSSS…I’m like, BLOCK!! I truly feel for the women these guys are married to, and their kids :((( anyway I’m taking a break from online dating and just going out a lot instead…now that it’s warming up here (finally!!) there’s a lot to do…I’m not giving up though! As my Mother always says to me, every pot has its lid loll…How is everything with you? I had started reading The Affair a while back but couldn’t really get into it, I think because the husband was just not someone I could root for, you know? Our Phil was a bad boy, but I still rooted for him and Lina (Thanks a lot Laura, you have ruined me! Now my standards are too high!! You need to take it down a notch and write less fabulously lolll)…I did re-read A Sense of Belonging though…Tony Prossi…sigh…And Janet, I ONE HUNDRED PERCENT agree with you on the bathroom situation! A girl needs her privacy! haha…

      • Hi Miri — I know so many people that met their spouses online, but I think the process was sometimes depressing and brutal. My nephew’s wife told me that she forced herself to meet one guy a week for coffee. It took 32 weeks! And this was after doing it on and off for several years.
        Personally, I can’t do the online stuff. It takes me a while to warm up. I also over think, so… it’s a nonstarter.
        Why do guys think girls want to see their naked pictures? haha They can be so gross!

        • I asked a male friend once about why guys are so eager to send dick pics to girls, and he said think of it like this, just as male peacocks spread and display their feathers to attract a mate, guys are doing it with their dicks…I almost fell out of my chair laughing lolll

          • LOL — I’ve asked the same question. The answer I received was similar — they love that part of themselves so much, they assume it will be your favorite part as well

        • I started reading an interesting book called Mating in Captivity by a psychologist, Esther Perel…I watched her Ted talk on youtube and found her pretty interesting…she talks a lot about infidelity and relationships…it’s made me think of Lina and Phil (of course lol)…

      • I agree on at least separate sinks, although I still monopolize “his” mirror because it’s the better side to go after strays in my eyebrows and blackheads, and that annoys him, so maybe separate would be better.
        Online dating is so so common. Nothing wrong with it at all. Think of how many people you meet daily (walking around town, at the store, work, etc.) that you immediately dismiss as a candidate just based on appearance, lack of magnetic pull, etc. Online dating is no different- it just takes a lot of tries to find good ones, no matter the method.
        Now, as far as naked pix…aren’t you just a little bit curious? I mean how lucky to know what you’re getting before it’s too late. Just saying. Although dick pic guy probably isn’t a take-home-to-mom guy. ??‍♀️

      • I am naive. I didn’t realize married men were contacting you asking if it’s ok they are married on a dating site. Lord have mercy.
        Katie makes me laugh ?.

        • Guys crack me up….A dick pic is useless…It doesn’t matter how long the well rope is, if the idiot doesn’t know how to dip the bucket!!!! I’m just saying…..

          • Omggggggg. Bahahahahahahahaha. Love you guys. All is well if we are discussing curious about ropes.

          • I mean if we are curious about ropes.

            Tracie, you are working? I couldn’t get through 5 percent of Unbreak My heart. It’s worth it to push through?

          • I am working…I finished Unbreak my Heart because it pissed me off and I had to see how it ended….I liked it, especially when she got a little bit of spine…

        • Oh Janet, you don’t know the half of it lol…sometimes when my sister complains about her husband, I tell her about my latest dating misadventures and she’s like, you’re right, I shouldn’t complain! lol..

          • I have a few male friends who are currently doing the online thing — they date so many women at the same time (and have sex with them all). These are nice guys too — at least nice as a friend. I’m just not in to that scene. They are looking for long term relationships — they just haven’t found them yet.

    • Janet — I feel like I never stopped working. My mind shifted back into that role — I’m shocked by how quickly. Having said that, I still think about characters — I still haven’t let go of the Hunters. Work is a bit stressful, but that’s more because there are so many new processes to learn.

      Tracie — I hope you’re doing better. Ugh — I’m not a good patient.

    • Oh I have a dog walker that comes and walks Chandler every day. I take him to the park for a half hour in the morning before work and then she comes midday. He’s spoiled.

      • Laura did you tell you dog walker about Chandler and the birds? If not, their knees could be in serious danger…LOL!

        That’s what is great about the Hunter’s, they help relieve some of my job stress and so does this blog. You girls are all precious to me…..

  6. Laura I know it’s a work day for you, but I had a question. I was reading Chapter 32 of SN, when Phil and Logan are coming back from Drew and Alice’s home from blowing the snow, Kim calls and Logan notices. Logan tells Phil she’s calling you….Phil asks who? Phil notices Logan turn to look out the window and Phil responds he’ll let the call go to voicemail. You are going to think I’m ridiculous, but when I read the part about letting the call go to voicemail, I lower my voice in my head, because I’m wondering when Phil makes that statement if he is feeling a bit uncomfortable with Kim calling while Logan is in the car.

    Now, I’m wondering what his thoughts were at that moment, especially when Logan turned to look out the window. I felt Logan’s hurt and also wondered if Phil thought Logan was disappointed in him, since Logan turned his head away from Phil as Kim’s call went to voicemail.

    Also, didn’t you write a scene between Phil and his Dad for SN? I thought I remembered that you wrote one, but it didn’t fit the way you wanted it too and left it out. I’m like you Laura..I’ve wrote so much on the blog, I can’t remember if I already asked this question. But if you did write the scene, that would be awesome to read….I can’t imagine Phil being on the receiving end as the son verses the father. In the Ravens scene, when he said his father could barely speak when he told them about cheating on Lina, I always wondered what he spoke…..

    I can hear Phil’s dad in my head: silence and then “I never thought I would say this Phil, but I’m so disappointed in you right now, to the point, I don’t even know who you are.” “I need to go now, your mother is beside herself. I can only hope for your sake, that your family can find it in their hearts to forgive you and you haven’t destroyed everything good in your life.” Wow…That was gut wrenching for me and Phil….

  7. I read both Lina and Phil books. and spent an equal amount time reading the comments. Anyone know why Phil would have unprotected sex with Kim. Did Lina ever discuss this with him and why did she not get tested. Phil talked to Logan about having protected sex so I was a bit in the dark about why Phil had unprotected sex.

    • As far as Logan, it’s classic, “do as I say, not as I do.”

      I’m not surprised at all that Phil had unprotected sex. He clearly wasn’t thinking of his family, so why would he be consciously trying to protect them. I’m sure Kim swore up and down she was clean. And it would make the affair far too real for Phil and Lina to go the doctor for an STD panel. All of these elements of the story were very realistic, in my opinion.

      • Of course Lina would have gotten tested. There are only so many pages in a novel. I suppose I could have put a line in one of the scenes having her say it — I kind of thought that went without saying. And if Phil had used protection — there would have been no reason for the story because Liam wouldn’t have happened.

        • Also, on the baseball scene Phil texted Kim and said “I thought you said you were on the pill?” She fed him a line and took a chance, which almost cost him his marriage…I’ll defend Phil to the end, he was selfish, but he atoned and tried to do right by everyone….Also, why wouldn’t Phil tell Logan to wear condoms? I want my kids to learn from my mistakes…Phil changed the trajectory of his life by not wearing one and he wanted better for Logan…

          • Hi Tracie, as much as I loathe cheaters and cheating, there is a big difference between serial cheaters and one-time cheaters..I think Phil is a good example of the latter..he truly was remorseful and I don’t believe he will ever be tempted to cheat again..Phil is one of the very very few cheating heroes that I think deserved a reconciliation with the woman he loved (the only other one I can think of is from “the woman he married”)

        • Thank you Laura, since I have read each book like 4 times,for purely selfish reasons, I want more Lina and Phil. So the more pages, the better:). I will take any additional deleted scenes tucked away too.

          • Seriously, what IS it about this couple that we’re so obssessed with them? It’s been THREE MONTHS since I read the books and I still think about them! lol! Ooooh Laura, more scenes? woot woot! Thank you!!

            And Holley, I totally get it, I wanted Lina to ask about the condom thing just to see Phil squirm…like really, he and Lina were still sleeping together during his affair, he should have protected her better (but then we wouldn’t have Liam and their story..sigh…oh Phil, I’m nuts about you but I sometimes wanna smack you upside the head lol)

  8. Hi my sisters….been crazy busy…I did it…I officially got my retirement package mailed off…I thought I would be nervous but I wasn’t at all…LOL. December the 19th is my official last day at work! Can’t believe how fast this year is flying….

    I had to go back to work when my daughter was 6 weeks old…Hardest thing I ever had to do…I was so fortunate and blessed to have two nurturing older ladies that took care of her until she was 12…She loved them both so much…I once told my mom that I felt so guilty because I felt like I raised her by phone…but she turned out to be a great kid and a loving mother…

    The girls are right don’t rush a relationship when Mr. Right strolls by you will know he’s the one…wait on him…

    Now my Hunter’s Laura I loved the tidbit about Liam being so much like Phil that there would probably be more conflict between them in his teenage years…I can just see it now…Liam’s confidence and stubborn personality will have Phil on edge at times…Where Logan would lower his eyes in a face off with Phil, Liam probably wouldn’t….Poor Lina…Liam will be calling Logan and saying “How in the hell did you survive dad?” Lol

    • Hi Tracie, congratulations on your upcoming retirement!! Hope you’ve got a crazy party planned!! ???? lolll…thank you for your advice ?? and yes, poor Lina might get stuck in between a few testosterone laden arguments between the two when Liam gets to be a teen lol…Hopefully we’ll catch a glimpse in Laura’s next Hunters book (I’m hoping for Logan’s or Liam’s story, myself)…??

      • Thank you Miri…I’m so use to working I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself…But I’m going to figure it out…Probably take Jordan’s advice and stay on this blog and continue to motivate Laura to finish her 5 books she has started…Lol. Poor Laura!! I’m hoping it Liam’s story with a lot of Logan in the book. I thought about how Logan really got the best of Phil’s younger years…Even though Phil is in great shape he will still be 60 when Liam graduates HS and on the downhill to Medicare when he graduates college…So his fun go to guy would probably be Logan. Logan will be the one playing Lacrosse in the backyard with Liam, while Phil is flipping those lunch burgers on the grill…I also wonder if Phil will mellow with age, but I doubt it….

        Laura would Megan have ever showed her jealousy about Liam, like she did to Lina in SN…I also wonder if she would of showed my attention to Logan than Liam…Like when her and Logan went to get Chinese so she could catch up with her little brother…I see Megan as being territorial and would probably not be as warm with Liam as she is with Logan…

        • I think Phil will mellow some with age but he will still be Phil. I don’t think Megan will have a strong bond to Liam. Definitely not like Logan and Katie. For one, she’s innately selfish. Also she was out if the house so never really lived with him

        • I’ve had a rough time with the vertigo the last few days..we’ve had big storms here and I’m wondering if the change in the barometric pressure could have something to do with it….

          Logan and Liam would have a special bond…That’s why your flash forward scene with Liam climbing into Logan’s bed was so good…I loved it…I can see so many scenes….Liam crying because Logan was 16 and leaving on date; Logan flying Liam through the house like an airplane and Phil and Lina telling him to be careful; Logan playing with him in the pool or Liam wanting Logan to put him to bed….of course I need Phil to be in awe of how his two sons are bonding LOL….it goes on and on…The Hunter’s will always be alive and well with me…

    • I like that Tracie. I think Logan and Liam will have a special bond – knowing what it feels like to be raised by their father. I’m sure Liam would complain to Logan

    • December 18th wow! Where will you direct all your energy? How are you feeling. Is the vertigo better?

    • Good evening ?

      Laura & Tracie – Congratulations & Best wishes on your new chapter in life!

      Ladies, again a really random question:
      Do you happen to have a pic of M Prossi?
      What does Michael Prossi look like as there are only pictures of Tony & Casey ?

      Thank you

      • Hi Ania it’s so good to hear from you and thank you…I’m excited about the life changes I’m fixing to experience…can’t wait…

        • Hi Tracie! Do you plan to do any traveling? If so, can I tempt you to come see a bit of Canada? I would love to show you around Toronto! ?? that goes for all you you lovely ladies here ??? let me know if you’re ever in the area!!

  9. Hi girls, interesting exchange between Terry and Laura. I think women can have it all, just not all at once. I worked for about 6 months after having my daughter, and that was too much, and I cried all the time. I’ve been off for 4 years now with my daughter, and I also finished graduate school during that time. When I add work, which I intend to, I know I will have to make sacrifices in certain areas (e.g. my home, experimenting in the kitchen).
    Terry, your neighbor sounds evil. I can’t believe women like that really exist.
    Miri, I don’t doubt you’ll find your one. When you do, it’ll be easy. That was my experience at least, how I knew he was it. Also, sex and food pretty much make all men happy and can help you avoid some drama. My husband is only grumpy when he’s not getting enough of one of those. ?

    • Hi Katie, your post made me laugh!! Food and sex, ok I think I can manage that haha! I like drama in my books, not in my life, and try to avoid it when ever possible ??? Also, I thought of you a few times this week when I was majorly craving some in’n’out food..their fries are the best!! .you are so lucky to be living in Cali! Do you have one of them nearby? ???

    • Hi Katie, I just replied to your post but it didn’t go through! ? ?? if it doesn’t I will try to remember what I wrote and resend it! Something about sex and in’n’out burgers ???❤️

      • Kbabe is exactly right, my mama use to say all men are controlled by things that can’t walk or talk….that pretty much sums up food and sex……LOL

  10. Hello everyone! Still recovering from the volleyball weekend, and I didn’t even play! Laura, so happy to hear that you got your new job. I have to tell you, the job market is funny for women. I work in healthcare, in an area where it is predominately women. I thought that would make it easier when I had my kids. Every rehab company I interviewed with said they “were soooo flexible around family schedules”…NOT!
    I finally got into home health, where I actually could schedule around my family. Did you work when Jordan was younger, because it sucks! I don’t think we can have it all. Don’t hate me ladies. Who was stupid enough to think we could have it all. I am happy with what I have, and it is most definitely not all!

    I am so happy you are not giving up on writing. Your books have brought my great joy, and this forum has been a lovely spot to talk about our favorite family!

    By the way, my daughter is 5’8”, which is small for a hitter, but she does well. As she gets older, it is tougher. In general the girls who play her position are TALL, like 6 feet tall. She still loves volleyball, but we are taking a break from year round play for the first time in 3 years. Your books saved me many times while sitting around all day at a tournament!! Ladies, please tell me we can keep the blog going. You are my new obsession, and you keep me out of trouble!!

    Speaking of trouble, remember the mom I told you about? The one who is famous in our neighborhood for sleeping with other dads? I saw her last Tuesday, and she had the BALLS to smile at me, like she doesn’t know that I think she is a pig. I just glared, and she finally looked away. I know that the men made the decision to sleep with her, but damn! How does a person conscientiously make the decision to go after a married man? Her husband is FINALLY divorcing her. Kim is not nearly that farfetched as a character to me.

    I hope everyone is having a good week. It is raining here in Northern California, but I love it! Laura, I hope the new job is going well, and you are getting enough rest.

    • Thanks Terry! That means a lot to me. Women – ugh. I get feedback that my book isn’t realistic and degrades women and yet it’s women that degrade women or allow men to degrade them. I think Lina is a very realistic character – and women may not like that but it’s true – at least in my experience.

      And some women don’t want to leave their children – I have a friend who is a family psychologist- happy mothers make the best moms – whether that means a stay at home or working – studies show happiness is what counts.

      As far as I’m concerned – I took off three years after she was born. The first job after the break was hard to find but once I was working again it was easy. Funny I have always worked in male dominated companies – the only female in an executive position in the last two – They were always very accommodating to me. I was a single mother from practically the beginning. I have been very lucky.

      • It’s crazy, Laura. I loved most of my jobs, rehab, SNF, pediatrics. Home health is a great alternative for health care people with families.

        I agree with you. Happy parents have happy kids. I was so surprised when I had my girls. I had day care planned when I was 4 months pregnant with my first. When she arrived, I almost had a melt down when I thought of going back to work! Luckily, I was able to be off work until my second daughter was 1. It’s hard financially, so I got lucky for 3 years. I loved the scene in WPF ( I think), where Lina tells Phil that all she wants is his babies, in a big house, with a WPF!

        I hope you continue to write about the Hunters. I read WPF AGAIN, this weekend. My thoughts are that in this day and age, people throw their relationships away for less than what Lina and Phil went through. My girlfriends and I have had interesting conversations because of your books. All of us thought, when we were younger, that if our husbands ever cheated, that would be IT! In fact, during pre marriage counseling, both my husband and I said that would be the deal breaker. I don’t know if I would get rid of our 20 year marriage for an indiscretion like Phil had. I just don’t know. My girlfriend whose marriage was almost lost due to the home wrecker, told me their marriage counselor said to wait for 3 months before making big decisions. Did you know, they have emergency counselors for things like that?

        While she kicked her husband out, she did what was recommended, and they are still together. It was HARD WORK! And we had to see the affair partner at school. They are stronger, but as I mentioned in an earlier post, ALL of us now guard our partners and relationships. That’s why my husband is ok with me saying that it makes me uncomfortable for him to have lunch with a female co-worker. He feels the same way if he doesn’t know the person. He also says that no matter where he goes, people already know him, because I always talk about him. Sometimes it doesn’t matter, because if someone wants your partner, even a wedding ring won’t stop them from trying. Sorry to be so chatty, but after seeing Julie (the home wrecker), and rereading WPF, I am on fire!

        Thank you for having a forum to talk about these things that people might shy away from!

        • Terry — thanks for sharing. I know exactly what you mean. I never planned to have kids — it was never on my radar. When I got pregnant my plan was to take six weeks and go back to work. Having a baby changed me. I interviewed a ton of day care providers and couldn’t find one I was willing to leave Jordan with — I thought if I didn’t want to hang out with someone, I can’t leave my child with them. It set me back in my career for sure — it took me several years to recover, but it all worked out.

          I’m not Lina. I’ve always been career oriented but I know many Lina’s and I respect them so much. I think being a stay-at-home mom is honorable and much harder than going to work every day.

          It sounds like you have a strong partnership with your husband and you both keep your eyes wide open — exactly as you need to.

    • Hi Ladies, vey interesting exchange between Terry and Laura…because I’ve never been married, my romantic woes tend to be those of a single gal lol…but reading about “real life” marriages is pretty eye opening yet fascinating…I am sincerely looking for my “one”, and I guess I always had this assumption that after you get married everything just falls into place lol…now I’m like, do I even want to get married? Will I be able to survive the nearly inevitable drama and heartache? Lol…anyway I always enjoy reading your updates ladies, hope you’re all doing well, and Laura I hope you’re enjoying your new job! ??
      oh, and Laura, one of the girls mentioned on here that you have a novel that’s almost complete, is it the Lucas Roe book? Will it be published anytime soon? Thank you!!

      • Laura, I’m still thinking about the Hunters, of course, and I totally understand if you don’t have time/don’t wish to discuss it to death anymore lol…but! In case you’re still ok with taking questions about them, here goes…I’m wondering about the logistics of raising Liam once he came to live with the Hunters full time. Since Lina was now as busy as Phil when it came to her career, was Liam with a nanny for most of the week? And after Logan moved iut for college, what was the dynamic like in the Hunter house? Two parents working full time and raising a young child…did they ever need time away for just the two of them? Did they have disagreements about liam’s Upbringing (like they did with Katie, and Logan too to some extent)…did Lina have legal parental rights to Liam? I’m so curious about all these kettle details…anyway, thanks for always checking in and keeping in touch! ??❤️

      • Hi Miri — I think finding a partner is the “natural desire” for all of us. You’ll find “your person” and there will be the “inevitable drama”, but not necessarily “heartache”. A successful marriage has to be nurtured — communication is key. Not that I’m an expert — mine wasn’t successful, but I’ve witnessed so many that have been and continue to be life long partnerships.
        Lucas Roe is about 65 percent written but I wasn’t completely happy with it — I have to love it to share it. I’ve set it aside and will go back to it eventually. Sometimes it is good and I’m just too critical at a particular moment — hopefully that’s the case.

        As far as the Hunter’s — I’m always happy to discuss them. Lina would continue to work from home a couple of days a week, but they would definitely have a baby sitter come to the house. I think I mentioned in the epilogue that Alice watched him on weekends occasionally so Lina and Phil could go away together. Also I think Adele and Damian would be around with their child — and of course Katie remains in the area. Liam’s upbringing would be different than Lina and Phil’s other children but still loving. And Lina and Phil would have their inevitable disagreements over parenting style. I think Liam will be more like Phil than Logan — which means the teenage years might have some conflict as Liam tries to gain some independence. And no Lina doesn’t have “legal rights” to Liam. I don’t think Phil would want to chance taking Kim back to court — he wouldn’t want to do anything to rock the boat.

        • Hi Laura, thanks for your advice ?? I think I’m a pretty good communicator but my sister is like nah, you just talk peoples ears off lol…listen more talk less she always says! Lolll

          Yes, that’s how I see it all going down with the Hunters as well…I feel like Kim doesn’t really care to be Liam’s legal guardian (instead of Lina) but that she’s would never give that to Lina, simply out of resentment…do you think Kim calls Liam often throughout the year to catch up? Or basically just on birthdays and holidays? It seems like he represents a “failure” she doesn’t like to be reminded of (her failure to win Phil)…is she interested in his schooling, since she was a top student herself?
          As always, thank your for replying to my mission q’s and your input…I know it may take some time but I am so looking forward to your next book! I hope one day you do some author signing, I will come see you wherever, my kindle and glitter pen in hand! Lol ???

          Hi Terry! your neighbor sounds a bit off in the head to be honest…why would she smile at you if she knows you don’t like her, after what she did to your friend? She should just keep her distance (or move to another neighbourhood!!)…I am happy to read about your marriage though, because it sounds like a really good, solid one ? love me some happily ever after!! Lol ??

          • Miri, next time I am in Toronto I will sign your kindle! I have a good friend who is from Toronto and I have been there many times. I love it a little more in the summer lol

          • Haha Miri! Happily ever after requires couples therapy, learning when to listen (hard to do), and lots of wine available!

  11. Hi Ladies, I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day.

    It was a crazy, busy weekend. I need to read through everyone’s comments.

    I did see Laura has a new job! Congrats!!

    Tracie, feel better, my sister has vertigo issues, I know it’s very frustrating.

    Ann, I’m reading an interesting book set in Germany during WW II, The Ragged Edge of Night by Olivia Hawker.

    Love to all ?❤️?

  12. Laura thank you for sharing the story of your mothers dream to write….getting to know you over the last year and remembering Jordan’s sweet post about her mother, tells me you mirror your mothers sweet spirit…especially since we now know Alice! Love us some Alice! So happy that this opportunity was presented to you and we will wait patiently to see what you give us next…

    So I have a church story today girls…Every year on Mothers Day we give out flowers to the oldest/youngest mom, mom with most kids there and mom that had their child come the furthest to be with them, etc. Well even though Hailee lives 10 miles from me she was at a graduation in Arkansas and drove in this morning to go to church with me so she thought she would be a sure win for driving the furthest to get me the flowers…So when the kid at the front started to take the flowers past our pew, my kid (mirroring her mother) piped up and said “Clint (preacher) I drove 2.5 hours to get here this morning and I know nobody came from that far so what’s up?” He said Hailee I don’t think Arkansas is as far as Canada! She said Canada your lying! The 90 year old woman in the back wasn’t a regular to our church and in fact her son had come from Canada to be with her…Hailee said I’m sorry I didn’t know it was international day at church or I would of brought my passport! Hailee was raised in that church and the entire congregation was laughing to include the Canadians…Especially when the Canadian said you put a sock in your mouth…Hailee said that would be my foot! It was funny and then Clint told a few other stories on Hailee and all she said was” aren’t you suppose to be sharing God’s word not my most embarrassing moments! I know somebody in this church is going to have burnt roast if you don’t get started”….?

  13. Hi Ladies and happy Mother’s Day.
    I want to thank all of you for your warm condolences regarding my little dog Chino. I’m doing better each day. I’ve always had pets whether it be cats or dogs but this one just kicked my ass! So thank you all so much.
    Laura congratulations on your new position. It sounds like you were ready to get back into the rat race. I’m happy for you. I will miss your new books big time.
    Tracie, I hope you get your vertigo under control. My Dad had that from an inner ear problem. That has got to be an awful feeling.
    Janet I am about 30% into the second book of Tatiana and Alexander. I am really enjoying it.
    Tara I see that you read all 3 books. Awesome.
    Terry, enjoy the tournament with your daughter.
    Love you all!!

  14. Happy Mother’s Day, friends!

    Of course I knew Laura decided to accept the great job offer. My heart hurt for a minute- but honestly, working helps us make better use of the free time we have; I know that’s true for me at least. I stopped working when H was one and plan to go back when she’s in 1st grade. I’m hoping to get into something at her school. (I’m sure it’ll be something I’m grossly over-qualified for, ha!). I’m still reading 44 Chapters BB Easton. Funny! Sorry I can’t bring myself to read Bronze Horseman…

    • Hi All!
      Laura I am so excited for you! It sounds like a great new chapter in your career and life! I’m somewhat devastated for myself of course, as you won’t be writing as much, but hopefully you won’t abandon it completely ? lolll…I wish you the very best of luck at your new position, I know you will rock it!!!

      So wait—Lina didn’t know Phil had a tracker on her phone? Or she had just totally forgotten about it? In future (after the affair) do you think she would have checked up on his whereabouts occasionally? ?

      • Sorry if I’ve said this before — I’ve written so much on this blog, I may be repeating myself. Writing will always be my first love (besides Jordan :)). I wrote When I Saw You and the first draft of WPF while I was working full time. They weren’t ready for publication so I set them aside (like I always did with my fiction). My mom’s death in late 2014 hit me kind of hard (obviously). She had always said she was going to write a book, but never did. I decided I didn’t want any regrets and shocked everyone, including myself, by quitting my job and leaving my career. I wasn’t sure at the time if I would ever go back, but I knew I had to try writing full time. I did. It’s been hugely rewarding — I love love love writing. I always have. After publishing Swimming Naked, I began thinking about my old life. Within a couple of weeks, I received a call from an old colleague asking if I’d consider coming back to work. It was my field, a big position and ten minutes from home — it just felt meant to be. I guess the reason I’m rambling on here is to say, I’m not going to stop writing. At the moment I’m taking a short break because I’m learning a new company. Once I settle in, I’ll start writing again. It won’t take long — it’s part of me.

        • Yes, Lina knew there was a tracker but never looked at it. Phil put it on their phones. And yes, after they got back together I think she would occasionally look at the tracker.

          • Laura, yes, that’s just what I thought..after everything that happened, Lina was unfortunately a bit more wary and curious and would occasionally look at the tracker

        • Laura, this is my first time reading this (you must have written about it befor I joined you all here?)…wow, what a story…I am so happy for you that you got to, in a way, fulfill your Mother’s dream..how beautiful Ian that ❤️ I am also thrilled that you will keep writing, but the way that it all turned out (you thinking about it, then the call you received) definitely makes it seems like fate, like you are needed there…I wish you so much greatness…I also hope all the ladies here will keep in touch on here, it’s a blast chatting with you all and I’ve grown very attached to you all ?❤️?

  15. Happy Saturday and an early happy mother’s day to the mothers on this blog. Sorry for being out of touch lately. I’m actually working again – my phone rang and I was presented with an opportunity I just couldn’t say no to — so after a four year sabbatical, I’m back in the rat race. Once everything settles down, I’ll start writing on the side again.

    Tracie — I’m so sorry for your friend. She’s lucky to have you.

    Terry — I hope your daughter does well in her tournament. That’s exciting. How tall is she?

    Lina — she wouldn’t have tracked Phil. I’m guessing she didn’t even know how. Remember when she was at Nick’s and he said that Phil probably tracked her? She had never considered the possibility — not something on her radar

    • Happy Mother’s Day! Laura, do you like the work so far? I can’t believe you went back to 9-5!

      • Thanks Janet!

        I can’t believe it either LOL. I didn’t think I would, but I missed the energy I get from working. I’m the director of operations – it’s fast paced and interesting. It’s conpletely different than the writing world, but I’m enjoying the challenge. I was at the point where I had to decide whether I really wanted to step away from the business world forever. I wasn’t quite ready. This will be my last hoorah.

        • That is exciting and you are lucky to have this opportunity! I tried going back to work part time 10 years ago and they all wanted younger people and full time only. So I think its great and yes of course you can write on the side. I mean you have 5 novels mostly done anyway. So which field do you work in? HR? Medical field? We never talked about it!

          • I’ve spent my career working in the high tech field – wireless communications, radars etc —- cutting-edge stuff – I tried to negotiate part time at first, but it’s just wasn’t feasible with the work load. My office is only ten minutes from my house, which is awesome. It was a perfect fit that just fell in my lap so it felt meant to be.

          • 10 min!! So meant to be Laura. I’m happy for you. Now I understand why you only allow 1 hr to read. I hope you don’t have to bring your work home…My husband is kinda in that field. You know that samsung foldable phone that cracked? That was his baby project for the last 3 years. Oh well. It hasn’t released yet so hopefully they can recover. I have no idea why they would release their products without fully reviewing them? Did they not learn from the explosion?

            My degree has nothing to do with anything. Art history and Italian studies. so lame. lol. I worked briefly in the art world then went and got my masters in counseling. I was able to skip the teaching track and go straight to counseling at an inner city high school. I stopped working a year before I got pregnant.

          • I’d love to study art history — it’s so interesting. My undergrad was in journalism – not interesting lol. Companies are all about meeting deadlines. They assume everything will work (until it doesn’t).

          • Happy Mother’s Day Girls! Laura I’m happy for you sister…You stepped back into the rat race and I’m fixing to step out…I honestly can’t imagine myself not working, but I’m willing to give it a try… LOL…Being a director means you probably supervise employees, if you do I hope you have a great team that backs you path forward for your division…when you start your rewriting just throw us something and we’ll help LOL…I will have plenty of time once I’m retired to make up fun scenario’s…

          • I meant writing not rewriting….

            Here’s one for you two…I started falling and stumbling around like a drunk and had various test run MRI, etc…My MRI was normal but my Dizzy Test called a VNG came back as the crystals in my left ear are out of configuration and I have to have physical therapy to get the vertigo to correct….Did you know you had crystals in your ear? I swear only me….Lol.

          • Yes, I have a great people. Oh Tracie — I’m sorry to hear that — I’ve known several people who had to deal the vertigo issue — I hope you recover quickly. The physical therapy does work.

            I haven’t gone longer than six months without writing since I was a teenager, so I’m sure I’ll be writing scenes again soon. I’m just trying to come up to speed before the current VP leaves — there is a lot to learn

          • Only you!!! So you don’t have vertigo? I had a friend who suffered from that after a cruise. She literally couldn’t get out of bed for 6 months. Horrible. Why crystals in your ear?

            Laura can write a character based on guy from work! There’s gotta be one Phil, Tony, or Joseph around somewhere. Don’t bury your head in your work Laura. Be on the lookout.

          • Every interaction I have is filed away somewhere in my brain — I have to be out living to write interesting characters. It’s all good!

          • So glad to hear the PT works on the vertigo, I’ve taken enough motion sickness meds for an entire cruise ship…Laura glad to know your team is good….That is the hardest thing about retiring is leaving my team….The announcement for my position closed last Tuesday…Command to wants to have a 6 month overlap for me to train…I’m hoping Adele Jr gets the job…Fingers crossed

            Janet I would of hired you for my team in a minute sweetie….

  16. Hey girls! Ann, I sent you a FB message too- I’m so sorry about your pup.

    I’m reading a really good book right now. 44 Chapters about 4 Men by BB Reid. It’s hilarious. It’s about a woman who writes a journal that includes stories about former boyfriends; her husband starts reading it, so the woman starts embellishing her stories to get her husband to up his game.

    Very different from what I usually read. Check it out.

  17. Hi girls..I’ve been out of the loop and missed you girls. As Laura says the real world has to pull us in everyone once in a while. My friend Adele Jr’s mom passed away from a battle with cancer, so I’ve been wrapped around my friend these past few days. My sweet friend is so heartbroken…

    Ann: So sorry about your bestie…I get so attached to my babies too and I know how bad this has hurt you…you are in my thoughts sweetie.

    Janet/Miri: Miri I agree with Janet on the tracker, Lina trusted Phil and had no reason to track him, but if she had of, could you girls imagine Phil’s face if Lina knocked at Kim’s door……Kim would have lapped that up like a cat to sweet cream….Plus, they used the corporate apartment most of the time and his phone would of showed him at work.

    Okay…HORSE: Killing me to get through this book. I’m at 70 percent and wore out; however, I have got through all three of the books Katie and Laura are reading regarding the coach and gymnast. That tells me the guilty pleasure side of me far out weighs the historian side. Laura I can’t compare Alexander to Phil, because Phil would of just said “Cut the shit Tatianna love me or don’t.” Phil would be know ones dirt little secret…Hell who would want him to be…Love my Phil…Still praying for a Novella of the Hunter’s when Liam moves into the house…..We can call it “From Court to Christmas”. Love you girls….

    • Tracie, I’m sorry to hear about your friends mom. So sad.

      I’ve read all 3 books in The Bronze Horseman series. I had no problem with Tatiana, she’s a young 17 in a horrendous situation. The first 2 books are are an epic love story, not romance. Book 3 reads more like a typical romance, but covers decades, so I guess I’d call it more of an epic romance.

    • Oh no. I am sad for Adele Jr. I was writing a reply to you and it disappeared. Anyway, I’m glad you are wrapped around her. I listen to Pastor Rick Warren and he said you need to surround yourself with loved ones when there’s death in the family and not be alone. Its been a bleak week for you all and the country too. So sad.

      Don’t worry if you need to abort bronze. Because both of the characters are so young in the first book, you won’t truly see the similarities between the men till Alexander is older.

      Hang in there Ladies. I’m sending you much love from cloudy LA

  18. Hello lovelies. Ann, I am so sorry for your loss. I have always had dogs and cats in my family. Their loss gets considerably worse as I get older. I always say, “No more pets!”. Current situation? 2 dogs and 2 cats! I know there is nothing that will make it easier. Just know, your fur baby was lucky to have you.

    Janet, have you ever tried to order a book on Amazon, only to find out you already own said book? That is what happened when I went to order You, Me, and Other People. Even though the husband was a douchebag, what a heartbreaking story. The ending had to be that way, but GAAAHHHHHH! Thank you for the recommendation.

    I reread books alot, especially Laura’s. I haven’t found any recent good family dramas. I had not read A Sense of Belonging in a bit,and forgot what a great story it was. Did I miss a thread where we convince Laura, in the nicest way possible, to catch up with the Prossis? Just saying…

    Hope everyone is having a good week. Wish me luck. I am headed to Reno for a gigantic volleyball qualifier for my daughter. Nothing like spending Mother’s day with 129 courts of volleyball girls. But hey, since she contributed to the fact I became a mother, I can let it go!!

    • Good luck Terry!!
      I recently read “the woman he married”, a cheating/family drama..it was pretty good!

      I just had a thought…since Phil had a tracker on Lina’s phone, why didn’t she have one on his? If she had, she may have found out sooner that when he was supposedly in NY overnight, he was actually still in Baltimore (in Kim’s apt)…even if she wasn’t suspicious, just out of boredom she may have checked it occasionally…also, if he know she had access to his whereabouts, maybe he wouldn’t have been bold enough to leave her overnight and spend the nights with Kim? What do you ladies think?

      • Hi Miri. I meant to comment about Julie ford’s book then forgot. I did read it and remember it being good. And the OW was a bitch.

        So my thoughts on tracking. My son does this as well as my husband. I don’t. I’m thinking it was a way for Phil to control/ track where Lina is and for Lina she never thought she needed to track Phil. She was clueless about the affair until She saw that pink tie. In ch 28 when she runs to nicks house and Phil comes chasing her nick had to be the one to tell her that Phil must hve tracked her through the phone. Since she didn’t suspect Phil of cheating she wouldn’t have thought to track him. I wish she did though.

        Laura , do we have any overnight stays scenes with Phil and Kim you deleted?

        • Nope, don’t need those scenes. I do not want to read about Phil and Kim actually having sex. And since that’s the only reason he’s there, I don’t need it, yuck!

          Sorry, Janet ?

          • Oh I meant how he acted when he came back. Not the scenes with him alone because we don’t see his POV. Sometimes I type too fast and don’t proof what I wrote. Sorry. I don’t need that either. Never mind then.

        • Ooooh yes!! Overnight scenes between them!!!

          You’re totally right Janet, she probably wouldn’t have checked, even out of boredom…BUT maybe Phil would’ve been more cautious, knowing that she potentially could?

          I really liked ‘the woman he married’, I found it pretty satisfying, because the h was totally hard on the cheating H and he really took it hard, HA!!! Love it when they cry (I’m soooo evil!!) lollll

    • Volleyball!!! Coooolio! That made me laugh- nothing like spending mother’s day with 129 courts. Lord.

      I agree Terry! It happens to me too. I go to amazon and it shows I bought it years ago. Go figure. The ending is as it should but I felt bad bad bad. Did you read wrecking ball by bN toler? That was pretty good. I hve to go through my read list to remember. I forget so much. Your rec of Catherine West is on my TBR.

  19. I’m slowly reading TBH — I try to picture Alexander as a young Phil. I can tell this is going to be an emotional roller coaster.
    Ann — I saw our Phil at Bethany last summer. Miri saw him in Toronto — he’s on the move

  20. Hi my dear ladies.
    I just lost my best friend yesterday. My little chihuahua of 16 years passed yesterday morning. My husband and I are heartbroken but we knew it was coming. It’s tough.
    Consequently I haven’t been reading the last 2 days. I am getting ready to start second book in TBH trilogy.
    Over this past weekend I saw a young man that could be Phil in his thirties. My God he was handsome. Thanks again Laura for giving us the Hunters.

    • Damn it! I’m so sorry Ann. You have talked about your best friend here a few times. I’m so sad for you.

    • Ann, I am so so very sorry for your loss ??? I can only imagine how devastated you must be right now. My bestie is little Sookie, a malshi who is the sweetest friend I’ve ever had. even though they don’t get to live forever (though they should), I truly believe that we do get to be with them again at some point, in one way or another, over the rainbow bridge. My heart goes out to you and your husband ❤️❤️❤️

    • Ann, I am so sorry for your loss, our pets are part of our families and it’s so hard to lose them.

      I finished book 3 of TBH series this morning, massive book hangover! The series was epic, brutal and overwhelming!

      I’m likely to do a SN reread as I need something comforting to read next.

      Love to all…

      • Tara, Miri, Thanks ladies for the kind thoughts. All of us animal lovers know what this feels like. It’s awful.

        I’m behind on my reading, but I’m getting back to it today. Need to occupy myself.

        I was thinking the same thing, I am going to do a reread of WPF and SN. I need me some Phil. lol

      • Tara, I hate book hangovers. If you haven’t read something in the way series by Jessica Hawkins try that. It has bronze like angst. Iran one of Katies favorites.

    • Ann — I hurt for you. I think I’ve said before that A Sense of Belonging was written after the death of my Boston Terrier, Joey. I was so sad and I just escaped into that story. I’m so sorry for you loss.

      • Thanks Laura. Well after your Joey passed you needed to write and you sure did. You were able to channel your sorrow into your books.
        I was busy yesterday running errands and walked into our Giant store and as soon as I came by the pet isle I broke down. Had my sunglasses on and haven’t worn any makeup since Sunday.

  21. Hi ladies,

    I bounced back from my The Bronze Horseman book hangover with a nice little cheating hero book…

    I Can’t Let Go by Cheryl Barton it’s a quick, easy read.

    • Woohoo!!!!! So fast! Hate book hangover.

      I tried a sample of that last week and hated. Did we read the same book? He’s such a baller. Lol

      • For the most part I liked it. He’s faithful for an extended period of time waiting to get his wife back. She had some guilt and regret after the divorce, the regret I got, the guilt not so much.

        I’m about half way through book 3 of The Bronze Horseman series, book 2 was soooo emotional!

    • Hi All! Last night I read a really awesome cheating book (is that an oxymoron?)…it’s called The Woman He Married, by Julie N Ford…have any of you read it? If yes, what did you think??

      Katie, thanks for the recommendation, I will check it out!

  22. SN question…Chapter 36 when Lina grabs Phil’s arm and tears are in her eyes, because Logan has finally interacted with Liam (begrudgingly but he did)…Laura what would Phil’s reaction be? Looking at Lina seeing the relief in her eyes, would he feel the same? Would Tiffany and Logan pop down to eat with the family Liam on Tiffany’s hip? Would Phil have smiled down at Lina put his arm around her and headed back down the stairs? I’m stuck on that scene…go figure

    • This is random question but bothers me a bit after the ring deleted scene liars gifted us so I will ask the gang here. Do you think Phil and Lina told each other i love yous during the four months? Bc I do remember Phil being distant with Lina in the first chapter of WPF.

      • When he was leaving on trips I think he may have said “I’ll see you Friday, Love you with a peck kiss…Remember in Chapter 1 of WPF when he came out of the shower he gave her a peck on the mouth….

          • Yes. I think he said it at that point out of habit when he left for work or before traveling

        • I remember that scene at WPF beginning, I think that Lina realized she missed her husband since she had been so preoccupied with Katie drama. Phil always loved Lina he just felt shut out by her and then went onto Kim.
          I miss the Hunters. I really do.
          Phil is one of a kind!!!

          • Laura what would Phil have done on my question above? I straddled the fence on that scene with him…

          • I say straddled the fence because Phil’s eyes narrowed and I wondered if he was expecting a fight with Logan over Liam.

          • I think Phil felt relief. I think at first Phil didn’t know what to expect. Lina and Phil would have quietly gone down stair and Liam would have followed with Tiffany and Logan later.

          • I was hoping that’s what you thought Lol…I didn’t want Tiffany and Logan to eat upstairs either…

  23. Good morning ladies. Hope you all are doing well.

    Janet, I finished The Bronze Horseman! I loved it. I’ve downloaded the second book. I can’t believe what those two went through.

    • Ann, I think we can discuss here since Tara read it too and Tracie will most likely finish tomorrow. What do you think? There’s really no giveaways… the second book they are mostly apart

      • I loved it. First half with her family was just heartbreaking. I hated Dimitri. I love how Alexander roughed him up big time near the end.
        Tatiana was such a strong character too.
        Alexander is a true alpha too! Wow!
        This could make a great movie.
        Tracie if you’re 15% in you must be about 150 pages or so. Lol
        Janet regarding the spam— hell yes I think spam would be a banquet as opposed to eating the damn wallpaper.
        Some scenes made me tear up. How about you?
        Tara, how did you like it?

        • Hi Girls – I’m 30 percent in. Please put Horse as the first word before commenting so I know it’s a bout the book. Thanks!

          • Oh sorry Laura. You are absolutely right. With all of these discussions about different books it could get confusing when discussing Bronze Horseman.

        • HORSE but no spoilers. Question for Ann and Tara.

          Don’t skip 2nd. You can see the alpha’s prowess. Lol

          God I hate Dimitri!
          I did get mad at Alexander every time he went into the bedroom with the sister(forgot her name). Ugh. Why?? Why couldn’t he put her off? Deter her? Was it partly to blame Tatiana for not fighting for him? And afterwards, the longing glances between A and T drove me up the wall. I’ve analyzed these parts but I still fully don’t understand his actions. Angst upon angst upon angst. Just overall heart wrenching and yes lord the tears came for me too. I’ve read books on famine during wars but Paulina’s description was devastating. She did an interview on the trilogy. It’s on YouTube.

          • Hey Janet,
            HORSE – her sister was Dasha. I hated that he was with her too, but he started out with her before he met T.
            Paullina did a great description of their living arrangements (if you can even call it living). What a depressing era. I think it was probably bad in Soviet even before war started. All their damn rations for food. It makes you appreciate what we have.

          • Tracie yes!

            Ann, true about Dasha but she was after all just a hook up to Alexander. She became important because of Tatiana. I kept asking myself are they really doing it in that box they call it a room and Tatiana heard it through the walls. Omg my palms were sweating.
            And the rations-wasn’t there rubber and sawdust in the food? I agree. Such a depressing era.

  24. Hi Girls my luck continues to hold true to form….I decided I’d take my grandson to the Oklahoma Aquarium today. Being a Friday I thought “hey it will be a quite day everyone at work.” Well that is what I get for thinking! It’s like school field trip day and there are more achool buses out front than a Grey Hound Bus Terminal…Needless to say there was a bazillion screaming kids on the inside…I got hit from behind at the feed the stingray exhibition, sneezed on at the snapping turtle display and by the time I got to the shark tunnel I was looking for a way to climb in….I’m going to go home have a glass of wine and start the Bronze Horseman…That adventure could have possibly given me PTSD!

      • I know right…I remember how you felt at the end of last summer, when you thought school would never start…It’s coming for you again Salt! Our kids are out of school the second week of May….

  25. Ann, you read the Tarryn Fischer series that starts with The Opportunist, right? I abandoned the series awhile back, and I don’t remember why. It’s good? I’m thinking I’ll try again.

    • Hi Katie. Yes I read it a few years ago. For some reason I held off reading it because it was a 3 book series and you have to read all 3. But I did enjoy it once I got into it.

      I just read Unconditional last week. Big age difference between the main couple. He’s 16 years older.

      • Haha I thought you were renaming me K-spectacular.

        I skipped Leah. Might go back. But I’m really liking Thief.

        • Yes you are k- spectacular. Did you finish? Will you read Leah? I’m such a sucker for a good villain but I also felt bad for her.

          • I finished. The illness at the end threw me. Ugh! They (Olivia and Caleb) weren’t right for each other in a lot of ways, yet destined to be I think. So many misunderstandings! Double ugh! What a freakin maze that story was- I’m seriously impressed the author kept things straight going in and out and past and present through 3 books.

  26. Hi Everyone —

    I forgot to answer Ania’s (Hi Ania — always great to hear from you) question about the print copy of Sense of Belonging — it isn’t currently available because I have to change the font — I should do that in the next month or so. I’ll let you know when it’s available again.
    Jordan is staying in New York for medical school — so she’s not moving back to Maryland anytime soon, if ever.

    Really enjoying the Bronze Horseman — Janet said she didn’t want it to end, so I plan to take my time.

    It feels like summer in Maryland today — humid and 86 degrees

    • Just got back from an author signing…Heather Morris who wrote the Tattopost of Auschwitz…got a signed copy, it’s got amazing reviews…the author was extremely engaging and really lovely…it is a love story (with a happy ending, I understand)…gonna read it next ???

      • Omg Miri, I downloaded this book a few weeks ago and it’s on my TBR list. I’m so glad you think it’s good. I plan to read it once I finish Bronze Horseman books.
        You got a signed copy, that’s awesome.

        • Hi Ann, yes, I love it when authors drop by for book signings (I live in Toronto, Canada, so they don’t always make it up here)…it’s got a ton of great reviews on GR, so I’m gonna start it this weekend ? Bronze H is on my TBR list as well!

        • Thank Laura! ? forget movie stars and athletes..writers are the real rock stars! Lol…always thrilling to meet them ??. Hope your weekend is off to a great start, you and all the ladies here! ?

          • Totally- writers are the rock stars! Cool!! My cousin dragged me to a Tom Colicchio’s signing once and I thought he was the hottest thing ever. LOL

          • Janet, I had too google him, I didn’t know who he was! Lol…nice eyes and kind of rugged, I see the appeal hehe ???

  27. Good morning ladies.

    Laura, nice to see you back on the blog. Have a wonderful visit with Jordan. Sounds like you’ve been busy.

    FYI Janet, I’ve got about 200 pages left in TBH! Reading over customer reviews for this, people either love it or think it’s too long and boring. I’m loving it.

    We’re heading down to Ocean Pines to check on our place this weekend. I’m hoping my husband can find something to do while I read, read, read! I’m horrible. lol

    • I honestly couldn’t sleep at nights till I finished the whole series and even then I didn’t want it to end. I could read about this couple forever just like we want to read about Lina and Phil forevaaa. I did check out Simons one other book but it was so different and not great.
      Ocean Pines sounds beautiful. Have a great time. My husbands in Cape Town and he sent us a video of penguins on the beach last night. It was incredibly cute! I definitely want to visit there one day.

      • Hi Janet. Cape Town sounds beautiful.
        I think I’m enjoying TBH also because of the history. I love WW2. I read the Knightengale which takes place in Nazi occupied France. Two sisters and their struggles. Very good, not a romance but great story.

        • I envy all you girls, I’m stuck in a metal building working on this damn computer and it is beautiful here as well….Taking my grandson to the aquarium tomorrow and it is suppose to rain all day….Ugh!

          Also, remember me talking about the Cafe and BQ nights, etc….A dang tornado tore through and took the roof off…That is like J-Girl’s toaster oven being on the fritz…..Don’t mean to be negative just venting…I’m starting the horse book tomorrow night….

          • I know Ann I miss my Hunter’s….Hoping this bronze horseman comes close to my strutting stud Phil!

          • Is this OK talk? What??! This is your buffet place and now the roof is gone? OMG

          • I know right…That’s where I eat every Thursday night…Tornado went through the little town Tuesday night and pretty much destroyed everything on the left side of the road…

  28. Hi girls…I’ve been swamped too! Got the Bronze Horseman but haven’t started reading yet….but I will…

    Laura tell Jordan we all said hello! Has she picked her medical school yet?

  29. Hi girls!
    I’m still alive, just busy with a course I’m taking — not book related. When I have the time I’ll find more deleted scenes — I’ve just been very busy and Jordan’s coming home this weekend. I’ve started the Bronze Horseman — can’t believe I waited this long — I’m loving it. It’s going to take me awhile because I only allow myself an hour a day.

    • You are so disciplined Laura! Have a great weekend with Jordan. Wish her all the best.

      Katie, what is Release? Is it good?

      • It’s a series by Lucia Franco that I’m making her read. It’s ultra ultra forbidden, taboo. Underage gymnast and her coach. Yes, cheating. He’s cheating on his longtime girlfriend. It’s in the gymnast’s POV. You know I love my age gaps; I said I’d never read about a girl under 18, yet here I am. It’s SO wrong on so many levels, yet so right, which means the author is talented. Release is book 3 of 5 that just came out.

        • This is one of those guilty pleasure books — in my mind the h has to be older than 16. I picture her like 20. These books are really well written but definitely taboo — the writer doesn’t follow the romance rules. That’s probably what I like about them

  30. Hi All!

    So I read a book while back called Heartstrings by Kate Vale. I don’t review books so I rated it 3 stars just so I can keep track of the ones I read. Today, the author messaged me through goodreads thanking me for the 3 stars(waahhh) and to check out her other books if I have time. Heartstrings starts out with a cheating husband who has a one night stand with his ex at a veterinarian conference and gets caught by the wife the next day when she comes to surprise him. He had scratches all over his back from his night with the ex. The wife is pregnant at age 45 and falls into depression and the book deals with her illness and the couple working out their marital issues. I think you guys might like it so check it out. I don’t know why I gave it 3 stars so I raised it to 4 and will write a short review.

    Ann, are you on the second book?

    • Janet. I’m up to page 370 which is 45% on my kindle. I am really liking it. I’m at the part where they’re starving, it’s winter, and they are still in Leningrad. I just got back home from lunch with an old coworker so I’ll try to read more.

          • Bahahaha! That made me laugh hard Tracie. I should have! It stunk up the whole house. Hated that grease smell but my son loved it. I can’t wait for you to start the horseman trilogy. I bet you will get some spam after too.

          • I’m going to start this weekend…You and Ann both seem to really like it, so I’m sure I will too Salt!

    • Thanks for suggesting another book janet..I finished reading you,me and other people..I was satisfied that the heroine made the right decision in the end thanks a lot for recommending!?

  31. Hi Ladies.
    Terry I have never read Catherine West but I loved the Fourth Child.

    I just started The Bronze Horseman! I’m only 13% in because the damn book is close to 900 pages. So far it’s holding my interest. I never realized it’s a trilogy until dear Janet mentioned it. Lol. I was able to get this monster through the public library through my kindle.
    Locked In is a good book about a young married couple where the husband goes astray but really loves his wife.

    • The Bronze Horseman is going on my TBR pile, hoping to get to it in the next few weeks.

      Locked In is good, but have you read it’s sequel, Locked Out. I think it’s much better—one of my favorite books from last year.

          • Hi Laura and ladies! I still can’t figure out how to post a new question without replying, so I hope you see this! Laura, I remember at one point you said that in your original version of WPF, there were a lot of flashbacks (which your editor vetoed, if I remember correctly)…one of them was of how Lina and Phil met, which you posted (Thank you!!)…are there any other flashbacks that you would be willing to post? Just wondering!
            Thanks!! :)))

      • I was just about to ask if the second book is about the pregnant OW. Thank GOD, different characters! This looks good!

    • I’m so glad you started Ann!! Just FYI, in the second book, Alexander and Tatiana are more apart than together but I didn’t mind it I swear! You get to see how Alexander was before he met T. Hopefully you can get the whole series from the library. Stick it out!!

      • Janet. Now I can’t put it down. I’ve read 225 pages so far. I love the historical background of WW2 also. Not sure this book is for everyone but I like it so far.

        • Oh you made good headway Ann. Have you had a good cry yet? It’s a slow burn but not a slow read right? Yes I loved seeing Russia through Simons eyes. It was gripping. Also why is A having sex with sister with T nearby? Why couldn’t he put her off?

          • Hey Janet.

            I like Alexander. He does have a very strong personality. Loved the part where he wipes off Tatania’s lipstick because he doesn’t like it. Sounds kinda like our Phil. lol

            She has a horrible family. They’re so mean to her.

          • Ann! Oh wait till you get to book 3. You will die. We will just have to discuss it here without the rest of the gang. Lol. Better get on it guys.

            Katie, I’m reading Giana darlings MC novel. She’s an English teacher age 26 and the guy is a 18 year old pres’s son. So far so good.
            Locked in was Ok I thought.

    • Hi Ladies, I haven’t had a chance to check in these past few days, but thank you all for the recommendations!!

    • Hello Laura & Ladies! I hope you all having a good day and Laura you have a blast writing our new favourite novel ?✍️
      I just want to say how grateful I am for the deleted scenes, which helped me to move towards inner peace with our Phil ?

      I don’t know how but Laura should be awarded for it ? Any ideas Ladies?

      2 Really Random questions ?
      1) Is it possible to buy A Sense of Belonging (Paperback) copy as this is my love at first sight and all books are sold out on Amazon?
      2) Since you all ladies know everything could you please kindly point out all restaurants in Maryland where Phil and his family were dining?

      Much appreciated & Lots of love Ania

      • Hi Ania,

        I’m sure Laura will answer you, but I have been to Clyde’s Restaurant in Columbia where the Hunters frequented.

        It gave me goosebumps while reading SN and found out the Hunters had been there.

      • Hi sweet Ania! I have nothing to add for MD but I’m happy to see you at the blog and I too love the deleted scenes for my peace of mind. We do “need our inner peace with our Phil.” Hope you are well in Poland. You take care!!

        • Hello my Lovely Janet❤️? thank you for your warm welcome. Sending you huge gentle bear hugs across the ocean x

  32. Hi ladies! I offered up 2 books to tide you over. I wrote it in a reply, so it may have been missed.

    Where Hope Begins/Catherine West *Heads up, this deals with a family after losing a child.

    The Fourth Child / CJ Carmichael

    I don’t think any of the men are as alpha as Phil. But really, who is? There is actually no physical infidelity in The Fourth Child, but the angst is still felt.

    I also mentioned The Ever After/ Sarah Pekkanen. The price is 12 dollars, which I think was kind of steep but I had to fill in the gaps between the WPF novels.

    Anything else new? I think between all of your recommendations, we’ve pretty much cornered the market on marriage drama/ cheating novels!

    • Hi everybody. Tanks for the recs Terry. I’ll add another one. This came up on goodreads feed. Read it while back and NOT HEA but it was good- about cheating husband. You, Me and Other people by Fionnuala Kearney.

      Hey I just discovered Chris Stapleton. Like 5 years too late but my God his voice! Talk about whiskey and scotch!

      Tracie, bahahahahahaha. Ti chiero.

  33. Okay girls this how you know when you have to many irons in the fire and stressed out…I just asked my daughter: “When is Cinco de Mayo?” Her Response was Bahahaha how about May 5th…I’m blaming it on too much sun on my Lilly white ass!!! I knew that why would I ask?? Geez!

  34. Happy Saturday everyone!

    Katie hope you had a great birthday!
    Janet, Tracie and Laura, happy anniversary and so glad you ladies gave this blog a life! It’s been great being part of the Hunters.
    Laura you asked what my daughter does in the Summer. She works at Pickles Pub across from the stadium in Baltimore. She’s a high school teacher during the year, for you newer bloggers.

    Has anyone ever come across another book character close to Phil? If so, please share.

    • Hi Ann! Bronze Horseman by Paulina Simmons. We talked about it before I think when Cindy mentioned it. You do need to invest about a week’s time but you won’t regret it. I recently read the last one again and the MC did remind me of Phil. The hero sort of cheats here and when the wife finds out there’s smacking, slapping, kicking, and screaming all around on both sides. It made my heart sing. Lol. It spans more than 50 years do you get to see the couple at 15/17 (WWII) -current time when they are in their 70s. The hero cheats in his mid 40s when the wife puts her work before the family. It really is an epic love story. Check out the reviews.

        • Yes! Please read it and we can discuss about Phil and Alexander here. I’m dying to hear what you think.

          I’ve been eating rice porridge and banana for a week. I was so hungry couple days ago I caved and ate some pasta with chicken and my stomach revolted. For now as long as I’m on the BRAT diet I’m fine. Anyway we were supposed to go to a tournament at UCLA today but it was canceled due to outbreak or measles at the school. Can you believe it?

          • I know! We’ve had some cases here in Maryland too! It’s crazy.
            I’m going back to the no carbohydrate diet. I have gained so much weight. I was always thin growing up. Once I hit my fifties it was a struggle and then I found out I have an under active thyroid. Still no excuse.

    • Hello!
      Yes, I’m going to read the Horseman book too. It’s length has been putting me off, but I’ll dive in.

      Tracie — I think you asked me a while back if Phil and Logan healed. The answer is yes — definitely. That doesn’t mean his affair and Logan’s difficultly handling won’t impact him later in life.

      • I’ve put off the Bronze Horseman for the same reason, but it’s being recommended by too many people not to try.

        Janet, I hope you start feeling better and can get off the BRAT diet. The measles are a problem in NY too.

        Belated happy birthday, Katie, and anniversaries… ???

        • I know Tara. It’s 916 pages!! I am going to start it eventually.
          If Alexander is a jerky asshole, I will probably like it. lol l

          • The cheating doesn’t happen till book 3 so like 3000 pages after. OMG But I know you will all love it. Tara you too. For surrrre.

          • I’m going to read it too Salt…I know I will like it if you’re that hyped about it…

            Ann I’m with you on the weight…being down with my hip for all those months has expanded my hips…this baby has back!

            Laura thanks for answering my question. Once Liam pretty much turned to Lina, I figured Logan and Phil grew closer because of the standoff they had for almost a year…Plus, if Logan was heavily recruited for Lacrosse that meant that his talent in HS Lacrosse made Phil really proud and Logan probably got one of the coveted starting positions…GO LOLO….

  35. Hi girls…Happy Birthday Katie…Happy Anniversary Laura and Janet…Can’t believe I’ve had the pleasure of you girls in my life for an awesome year….Enjoy all you girls so much..

    Janet glad you are feeling better, but go back to the toaster oven LOL…it’s been safe!

    Kbabe we are still working on the farmhouse…got my antique white cabinets ready to go…You’ll have to post some pics when you get your renovation done….

    Laura I saw where you updated on you dad so glad he is doing well…What did he think about Logan’s attitude? I remember you saying he was going to read those scenes and that he said Logan would be hard on Phil! How’s our crazy Chandler??

    • I will (post pix)!!
      Has anyone read the Evolution of Sin series by Giana Darling. It’s different than we usually read; it’s all the OW perspective.

      • Did you like it? That’s sounds interesting….you know in some stories the OW isn’t a happy person, most are being used period, just like Kim..

        • I’m just starting it…
          It’s 3 books but they aren’t long each. He’s cheating on a long-term girlfriend.

          • Did you finish? What did you think?

            I reread your post regarding your house. I hope you renovate it to your dream farm house. It’s trending now- I just went to see one last week

          • No farm house but farm touches here and there. My taste is actually super eclectic- industrial, modern, farm, traditional, coastal. We are just kind of doing a facelift and touching every room in some way. And built-ins in all of the closets and garage. We have a great room that needs the most attention. So we are getting new furniture in the living room (finally being delivered this week), moving our dining table into the great room between the kitchen and living, and making the formal dining a kids’ room (closed off by barn doors). And unless I want to gut the kitchen totally…so I’m just doing a tile backsplash and new sink/faucet. The house came with nice upgrades…not my style, but I’m making it work. Sorry for that long-winded response. I’ll be super happy when it’s all done. Especially this main part, because it’s just a chaotic mess right now

          • Oh, and I’m almost done with book 1. I think it’s hot. And the H is sweet. I’m glad he’s at least conflicted about cheating. I hope I hate his girlfriend.

          • Sounds gorgeous!! Make sure you post pics as each room gets finished.

            Im sure you will hate her. I guess I just never saw the heroine as the OW. Kim was such a vibrant witch. This one is an insipid cold bitch you wonder what the hero ever saw in her to fall in love? Also, this author wrote a good MC novel. I forget the title but i remember liking that too.

    • Happy Birthday Katie? !! I hope you are having a special dinner now with your family!

      And Happy anniversary my Sweet! We’ve all been through a lot together on this blog ladies. I’m so happy to have met you all here??.

      Kbabe, I’m sorry I didn’t love the swan lake. I liked the beginning where it had a bit of otherworldly feel to it (little like saffron kent) then it reminded me a bit of Gabriel’s Inferno but then went downhill for me at 50%. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for bdsm and all the characters were so overblown I just couldn’t get into it. And what was up with people winking in this book?

      Ok, I loved the evolution of Sin trilogy. The OW is the nice one here. Lol. Tracie, I think you will like it!

      • I’m liking it!
        Can’t win ‘em all. I got the saffron Kent vibe too, but I actually liked it here. And bdsm is just whatever to me, but it totally made sense to me for this couple- the need to control and be controlled. I didn’t notice the winking thing. If I reread that’ll drive me nuts!

        Did you like Arranged by RK Lilley?

        • I’m a huge fan of RK Lilley and I liked Arranged but didn’t love it. The guy was really mean. I skimmed some parts so I could read swan lake first. I’ll go back and read those parts tonight. RK’s Up In the Air series(bdsm) to me was the best in that genre. BDSM doesn’t bother me one of or the other as long as the writing is good. I think I’ve read all her books except for the The Other Woman.( younger man , older woman)

        • Also, why did Ellen go into the office and yell at wolf? I didn’t catch this. Did it have to do with Emilie who died? I got confused.

    • Hello ladies!! It’s been a crazy week, haven’t had much time to visit on here… hope everyone is doing great! Happy anniversary Laura and Janet!! ????

  36. Happy Birthday, Katie!

    Happy one year anniversary, Janet and Tracie!

    Happy Friday everyone!

    Three novels that have romance but aren’t romance I’ve read recently and loved….

    Where The Desert Meets The Sea – Werner Sonne

    Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

    The Winemaker – Noah Gordon

    Also the Swan Lake – which is romance

  37. Hi girls. I’m sorry I don’t comment enough. I read everything though! We are doing some work on our house. The best part of house renovations is when they are done. And they are not. And I’m overwhelmed.

    But anyway, Janet, boiled oysters, that sounds like the worst thing to have food poisoning from in the history of all the things that can cause food poisoning.

    I just finished Kulti by Mariana Zapata, and I loved it. It’s a few years old…

    What’s everyone reading?

    • Hi all. I’m an idiot! Who eats canned shellfish? Lord. I feel much better today.
      Katie girl, I feel for you. Having to live in a section of your house while remodeling is hard. How long will it last?

      I’m reading your recommendation Swan Lake. So far so good but I don’t know where it’s headed. Reminds me a bit of this author and that but it’s all good. Always up for finding new authors! I love Mariana Z! She wrote a porn star novel Lingus! One of my favorites. Lol. Her dear Aaron and Winnipeg all v good!
      TGIF everyone.

      • Janet, what does Swan Lake remind you of?

        I think we’ll be done with the house in like a year. Not even exaggerating. It’s slow.

    • Hi Katie,
      I’ve never read Kulti but I have read Wall of Winnipeg and Me, and Under Locke. I liked both of them, especially Winnipeg. I couldn’t put them down.

      I’ll have to try Kulti.

      I just finished reading Eleanor & Grey by Brittainy Cherry; The Hardest Route by AS Teague; and The Memory of you by Jamie Beck. These were all pretty good.

      I always welcome recommendations!!!

      • I just finished Eleanor and Grey Ann it was pretty good! Brittany Cherry has a lot of inner dialogue the other girls don’t really like…but I can get through her stories because of the angst and what the hell moments…Lol

  38. I know that Phil put his family first and never worried about what others thought about him after he cheated on Lina and had a kid…
    But I have a doubt here Laura..did HE ever overhear anyone speaking badly about his deeds and what he has done to his family? and how others thought of his family for accepting him…like in one scene Logan says to Lina that he overheard his friend’s mother saying she would never take her husband back if she found that her husband had done something like Phil …here Logan has heard it and I don’t know whether he told to Phil or not…but
    Did Phil directly hear someone talking poorly about his family or badly about him while he was in audible range of hearing the gossip??If he heard what did he feel …did he regret..and..was he devastated for causing the members of his family such humiliation??

  39. Hi Laura thanks for the new scene between Lina Logan and Phil
    It was tough to understand Phil as usual

    I find these lines a bit opposite to the character of actual Phil that we read …thank god these scenes are not there…
    Lina says
    “We’re not animals.”

    “The hell we’re not,” he said.

    And these lines from WPF Chapter 30
    Katie’s gaze shifted to Phil. “Grandma said men always cheat—that they’re not made for monogamy. I thought she was wrong because of you. I guess she was right.”

    “That’s not true,” he said, his voice firm. “We’re not animals. I know plenty of men who have never cheated.”
    He was atleast a human?

    And Phil saying these lines
    “…And I,” he paused as he brought his hand up and touched his chest, “have to show him in the only way he is going to innately understand that I am the alpha in this house. If I don’t rein him in now, he will eventually build up the courage to carry out the threat glaring at me from his eyes.
    He speaking as if he is the leader of the pack of wolves???
    Coming to the point he seems to make the situation under control long and manipulating it into something where Logan should be feared by him.. making his future secure by not taking hits from his son after Logan comes to know what Phil has done(about his affair and baby)
    I hate Phil so manipulative and strategiesing

    Lucky are those who had fathers who treated there children in a friendly manner, supported them and gave them freedom in a good way..

      • Situation under control by manipulating it into something where Logan should be ***
        I’m sorry I make soo many mistakes ..I can’t type properly and I want to say so much all at a time ..I forget to check my sentences..

    • Hinata — you’re right! You seem to have a better handle on the dialog than I do at this point LOL. The version of Phil is that deleted scene doesn’t fit — there were glimpses of him, but it wasn’t classic Phil as I stated.
      I don’t know if Phil is parenting out of creating fear as much as wanting the respect of his children. He feels he deserves it as their father. Nick would say he needs to earn it.

      • It’s so curious you mention being due respect versus earning it. I read a line in another book recently where the child is 18 or 19 and he pointed out to his father that as a child you could expect my respect, but as an adult you need to earn it. It’s a rather powerful perspective and one I agree with.

        It might be something Phil and Logan will have to deal with in the future!?!

      • LOL no..I just felt that way..afterall you are the creator of Phil’s character Laura..??

        “..as a child you could expect my respect, but as an adult you need to earn it. “???

        I too agree with the lines Tara ..awesome?well said..!

  40. Hi Everyone!
    I hope I haven’t neglected to answer any questions — I’ve been up to my eyeballs in real life. Plus our weather on the East Coast has been perfect for days! Miss everyone — Laura

    • Hi Laura. Yes our weather has been beautiful. I’ve been busy with the house. Doing some redecorating.
      I miss the Hunters!
      How is your Dad and Jordan doing?

      • Hate real life problems! Hope all will be resolved soon.

        Warning. TMI. I got food poisoning from canned boiled oysters. I know. Who eats canned oysters and boiled at that? First time trying and got them at Whole Foods. Meant to get smoked and grabbed 2 wrong cans and tried them anyway and now I’m sick! Read amazon reviews and one guy grinds them up for his dogs for zinc deficiency. Gagged reading that review. Poor me.

      • Hi Ann!
        He’s doing great — thanks for asking. Has your daughter settled into her new place? What does she do in the summers when school is out?

    • Laura, you’re back! Yay!!! I miss you and the ladies on here!

      I miss the Hunters too Ann!!

      Laura I asked a question a couple of days ago — let me paste it here…I think it was too low down to see…

      I wrote:

      “Thank you Laura!! great scene! I think Logan got the best of both Phil and Lina…he’s gonna make an amazing book hero!!

      Just wondering…I know in SN, Logan and Phil come to an understanding and Logan goes on to accept Liam as his brother, but do you think that down the road in the future, maybe even many years later, the subject of Phil’s affair and/or Liam’s parentage (ie Kim) will ever come up again? Does Logan go on to completely and wholeheartedly forgive Phil (as Lina did)? Or will Logan always have a bit of hard feelings toward Phil for all of that?”

      What do you think?

      Thank you!! :)))

      • Hi Miri!
        I think Logan will never fully get over what Phil did. I’m sure he will think about it at different stages throughout his life — he could even have trust issues with women later. The hurt was too big to disappear.

        • Laura he many not ever fully get over it, but don’t you think him and Phil will still maintain a good relationship? I think Logan will have to learn to trust Phil again.

    • Hi Laura…Real life can be a bummer…Lol…Started going through stuff in my office cleaning out files etc..:It won’t be long now girls…

      It’s been beautiful here too, in the mid high 70’s….

      • That’s so exciting Tracie! You so deserve this!! Didn’t Adele Jr retire few months ago? Will you still wake up at 4am?

        • Thank you girls! It is exciting, but I felt a little sentimental as well…Going through old paperwork, training certificates etc..35 years of my life I’m fixing to shelve and move on to something different…

  41. Moments later she was knocking lightly on Logan’s door. “Hi,” she said poking her head into his room. “May I come in?”

    He was lying on his bed staring up at the ceiling, tossing a lacrosse ball up in the air. “I hate him.”

    “No, you don’t.” She came into his room and pulled the door closed behind her. “Don’t say that. You’re just upset.”

    “I wanted to hit him,” he said his voice breaking.

    “Oh, honey.” She sat on the edge of his bed and ran her hand down his arm. “He was just in a bad mood and he took it out on you.”

    “If he ever hits me I’m going to hit him back.”

    “He’s never going to hit you,” Lina said as she rubbed his arm. She knew he would never hit Phil and was trying to save face after feeling humiliated by the earlier altercation. “Has he ever hit you?”

    His tear-filled eyes met hers. “I’m a lot stronger than he thinks I am.”

    “Logan you are not going to get in a fight with your father.” Her heart broke as he turned his face away in an obvious attempt to conceal the tears slipping from his eyes.

    “I can’t wait to leave,” he said.

    “Leave?” Lina repeated, taking his hand. “Honey, what you mean?”

    “To camp. Five days without him is going to be great.”

    “He isn’t that bad,” Lina said lightly as she again began to run her hand up and down his arm. “You like him most of the time.”

    “No, I don’t.”

    Lina knew his words were said in anger. He still sought out and spent more time with Phil than even Megan. “Your father has a temper – you know that. He was upset because his swim was ruined.” And I had just told him we needed to tell the children about the affair.

    “Do you think I’m a disappointment to him?” he shocked her by asking.

    “No, of course not! Why would you say that?”

    “I don’t know,” he said lightly and she knew he was crying again.

    She stretched out beside him on the bed and wrapped her arms around him. “Honey, he’s very proud of you. We both are.” She felt a wave of anger at Phil for making their wonderful son feel so awful.

    “How do you know?”

    “Because we talk about you kids all the time. He’s very proud of you – how could he not be? You’re wonderful.” She kissed the back of his head.

    He was silent for almost a minute before speaking again. “I don’t think I’m as good as he was at my age.”

    “You shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone. You’re perfect just the way you are?”

    “You just think that because you’re my mom.”

    “That’s not true,” she said, continuing to hold him. “You’re a very special person and I don’t want you to ever doubt that. When I met your father he was only sixteen months older than you are right now. And let me tell you – at sixteen he couldn’t have held a candle to the person you already are. He was a hothead and opinionated and didn’t have nearly the depth you have.”

    “But, you liked him,” Logan said. “You always told us you fell in love with him the first day you met.”

    Lina pushed her forehead against the back of his head. “That’s true but that’s because I saw his potential. I knew there was someone special underneath that tough exterior of his. The problem with your dad when it comes to you is he assumes you have that tough exterior, too. He doesn’t see or understand the sensitive side of you because he doesn’t have it. You got that from me, so I do see it and I do understand it.”

    “I don’t like it. I don’t want to be sensitive. I want to be more like him.”

    “You want to push your son against the wall one day, too,” she said and instantly regretted it, knowing how disloyal she was being to Phil. But she hated hearing him say disparaging remarks about himself. “You’re not your father and you’re not supposed to be. You’re your own unique person and you’re going to be an incredible man one day.”

    “I guess,” he said lightly.

    “Don’t let anyone make you feel bad about yourself. You shouldn’t give anyone that power, not even Dad.”

    He sighed deeply and rolled onto his back, his head turning so he could meet her eyes. “It’s just hard sometimes. I mean I want to make him proud, but I know I disappoint him a lot.”

    “You never disappoint me,” Lina said softly. “And I really think you’re wrong about your dad. He’s hard on you because his father was hard on him and he thinks that’s how he is supposed to be. It doesn’t mean he’s disappointed in you. He’s treating you the way he thinks a father should treat a son.”

    Logan was silent for several seconds as he processed her words. “Grandpa was hard on him?”

    Lina nodded. “I think you father was pushed against many walls by your grandpa.”

    “I’m not going to do that to my son,” Logan vowed.

    “Good.” Lina smiled lightly as she touched the side of his face. “Maybe you can stop the silly tradition.” Her eyes traveled over his face and she was relieved to see his tears had dried up. “Do you feel better?”

    He nodded. “Yeah.”

    As Lina came out of Logan’s room, a freshly showered Phil, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, had just stepped out of the master bedroom. “I was just checking on him,” she explained.

    “You treat him like a baby,” he said shortly, his mood from earlier not improved.

    “No, I treat him like I’m his mother.”

    “Have you ever heard the term mommy’s boy?” he asked as he stopped at the top of the stairs.

    “Don’t push me,” she said as she approached him. “I’m very angry with you right now.”

    “Yeah?” He raised his eyebrows. “Well I’m angry with you, too.”

    “You have nothing to be angry about,” she said crossing her arms over her chest. “You took our discussion by the pool out on him?”

    “There is only one thing the great doctor said that I agree with and that is that we shouldn’t talk about the kids in a place we can be overheard.” He waited for Lina to precede him to their bedroom before continuing. “Are we on the same team?”

    “Of course.”

    “Are you sure because it certainly isn’t feeling like it from my end?”

    “You expect me to just stand there while you manhandle him?” she whispered.

    “I don’t want to play bad cop, while you play good cop. I’m trying to turn him into a man. It isn’t okay for him to mock me after I leave the room. And the fact he felt comfortable doing it in front of you.” He raised his eyebrows. “That says a lot.”

    “He wasn’t mocking you.”

    “Call it anything you like, but what he was saying was disrespectful.”

    She knew he was right. “I didn’t think about it like that.”

    “I don’t want you undermining my authority with these kids, especially him,” he said pointing in the direction of Logan’s room.

    “I don’t like you touching him.”

    “I would never physically harm him.”

    “Why do you have to touch him at all? Why can’t you just talk to him?”

    “Have you ever watched animal disciplining their young – dogs, lions, bears?”

    “We’re not animals.”

    “The hell we’re not,” he said. “I’m a man and he,” he paused as he pointed in the direction of Logan’s room again, “is going to be a man. And as much as you like to see him as this sensitive, fragile boy, I am telling you, he has the same blood pumping through his veins that I do. He’s a male and you have no idea what that feels like, so even if he isn’t my carbon copy he is much more like me than you realize. He’s fourteen years old and twice in the last month he’s looked at me like he wants to hit me. The first time when you were upset and I was holding you on the deck and the second tonight. And I,” he paused as he brought his hand up and touched his chest, “have to show him in the only way he is going to innately understand that I am the alpha in this house. If I don’t rein him in now, he will eventually build up the courage to carry out the threat glaring at me from his eyes. It would probably take him a couple of years, but he’d be taller and heavier and I really don’t think you want to see what happens when he takes a swing at me.”

    “He would never do that,” Lina insisted

    “He’s testing his boundaries. It’s natural. And I know you think I was out of control with him tonight, but you’re wrong. Every word I said was well thought out.”

    “I don’t like you manhandling him,” Lina repeated.

    “You don’t have to,” he said as looked into her eyes. “And you don’t have to understand,” he continued. “But you can’t intervene, because I know exactly what I’m doing.” He opened the bedroom door. “Have you eaten?”

    She shook her head. “No.” Her mind felt numb as she processed his words.

    He held his hand out to her. When she laid her hand in his he curled his fingers around hers and they walked towards the stairs. “You’ve lost five pounds,” he said. “And that was five pounds you didn’t need to lose.”

    Lina stopped. “How do you do that? You always know exactly how much I weigh.” She weighed herself that morning, realizing her clothes were getting looser, and she had indeed lost five pounds.

    He curved his hand around her waist and brought his mouth to her ear, “I’m intimately acquainted with this,” he whispered his hand moving over her butt and squeezing. “And it’s the first place you lose and gain.”

    “That’s not true,” she said pushing his hand away.

    “Come on.” He took her hand again. “Let’s go put those pounds back.”

    • What Phil says is true…I knew Logan wanted to defy Phil in the scene with the History grade, by not breaking eye contact with his dad. My dad use to tell my brother, there wasn’t room for two roosters in the hen house. My dad was the Big Rooster and he made that very clear to my brother on several occasions. I hate Logan feels like he is a disappointment, when in fact Logan will be one of Phil’s greatest accomplishments. Liam would be in for the same style of parenting when he gets older…Liam just isn’t old enough to rebel at this point or do anything to make Phil mad.

      Thank you Laura for another great scene!!!!

      • Thank you Laura!! great scene! I think Logan got the best of both Phil and Lina…he’s gonna make an amazing book hero!!

        Just wondering…I know in SN, Logan and Phil come to an understanding and Logan goes on to accept Liam as his brother, but do you think that down the road in the future, maybe even many years later, the subject of Phil’s affair and/or Liam’s parentage (ie Kim) will ever come up again? Does Logan go on to completely and wholeheartedly forgive Phil (as Lina did)?

    • Good Lord! This one was hard and I’m hesitant to say this.. but for the very first time I’m glad you cut the scene out Laura. Phil had to be right when Logan wanted to hit him defending his mom? And the second time Logan wanted to hit him was when Phil held him against the wall because of the change in water temperature? Is he serious? Logan you should have hit your dad! Man Phil got me riled up. I totally see how he thinks this way. I can hear him saying this. But what an immature hothead! He needs to read more of the Bible he took away from Katie! Focus on the book of Proverbs, Peter, Colassians, James on and on and on! Man he’s so alpha Im going to pop a blood vessel. I felt like I was reading a werewolf shapeshifter book.

      • Sorry I couldn’t type fast enough. I was talking about humility and being humble. I understand he’s angry and his life is spiraling out of his control. So without meaning to he takes his anger out on others. But poor Logan.

      • LOL — so Logan left the temp up again and Phil told him he couldn’t use the pool for five days. When he left the room Logan laughed and said “that’s perfect, I’ll be at camp all week” — Phil had come back in the room unbeknownst to Logan and heard him. Moments before all this, Phil found out Nick Drayton knew about the affair — a perfect storm.

        • Oh Yes totally sheds light. And Tracie’s right. No room for 2 roosters. But I swear if this was a shapeshifter book Phil would have changed after his speech with Lina. Logan must be pushing Phil’s buttons.

          • Janet I think after the affair Logan wanted to push his buttons…I see Phil in Logan. He is stubborn and has a temper. I think because of Lina, Logan can control it much better, than Phil did at his age.

          • I think when Logan found out about the affair he wanted to push those buttons. Phil is right about his blood flowing through Logan’s veins. I can definitely see Phil in Logan. His stubbornness, he didn’t care what his dad thought at the moment in that pool scene and he has a temper…

      • Janet, your shapeshifter analogy was spot on ?. You’d be proud of me, I read that scene from a very zen POV, knowing it was cut. Annoyed by Phil, but didn’t want to throat punch him. ???

        The odd thing is as much as it sounded like Phil it kind of didn’t.

        • You are so right. It did sound like Phil and it kind of didn’t. I thought the same and for the first time I’m glad it didn’t make it to WPF. I know we all worried about your reaction Tara. Happy to hear you read from a zen form. LOL

          • I’m waiting for Hinata’s reaction. She pretty much is my WPF emotional twin! Thank you for graciously sharing all these scenes,Laura. Happy this one did not make the cut. I still don’t know how you wrote the character of Phil without losing your mind, but I am glad you could and did.

            I would like to see Logan get the upper hand at least once!

            Also, how can I post a new question, not just a reply? Happy Monday everyone!

          • Terry go to the end of the thread and post the question..It will appear at the top of the thread and Laura can reply and we can comment…

          • Haha Terry!
            I reacted to the scene ..it’s at the top ..

            I guess Laura was more observant of her surroundings whichade it possible for her to create such a tough character which is almost realistic…but this character messes with my head a lot ?
            But I’m thankful I got to read something soo real..

    • Laura, Your writing is the absolute best girl!! I never realized that Phil’s Dad was hard on him. That being said, makes it easier to understand Phil’s parenting style as well as his controlling personality. Phil never waivers on his decisions either.
      I like Lina’s description of Phil at 16 as a hot head and opinionated but she did see that he had promising qualities underneath.
      I like the discussion that Lina had with Logan about his Dad. She explained Phil’s behavior on his upbringing etc. and tried to make Logan feel better.

      • Girls I’ve missed our dialogue..Werewolf book that cracked me up….I laughed till I coughed…Lol…Yes I wondered about Phil’s dad too Ann…In the Ravens scene one SN, when Phil said his dad could barely talk when he told his parents about cheating on Lina, I wondered what his dad had said many times. Laura didn’t you have a deleted scene in SN with Phil’s dad talking to him? I thought you did and it didn’t make the cut. Phil is in the ringer and his temper is on high alert, because he has a shark circling he can’t control. Talk about consequences, it’s just a shame his family has to take a brunt of that anger…But as we all know he improves immensely….

        • Phil’s dad must have mellowed a bit with age. From the small glimpse Laura gave us of Phil’s parents I didn’t see it. Maybe because they let Lina stay with Phil in the same room after the attack. I like seeing Phil being mean to Kim and wish he could take all his anger out on her. LOL.

          • I know you do J-Girl..Me too! I love the deleted scenes because we get more insight into what a real viper Kim really was…Phil didn’t have a choice but to go lethal with her. Remember, we knew in one line that she was going to be a vicious villain!

          • Do you ever wonder if Phil’s dad in that phone call he made, told Phil he was disappointed…I think his dad saying that to him, would of devastated Phil…I may be wrong, but I don’t think so….

          • I deleted that scene because it no longer fit. Phil’s father didn’t hold him against a wall. Phil could probably have been driven to that but not so easily. He was tough on Logan but the Phil you read about in that scene doesn’t exist

          • Yes that was OTT even for Phil. I didn’t like it even if I understood it. Now, if Phils holding Kim against a wall wanting to choke her I have no problems! I view her as a subhuman so it has nothing to do with man using his physical power against a weaker sex. More like please do us all a favor Phil.

          • LOL Janet that killed me…Do us a favor, don’t breathe Kim…Laura I love our published version of Phil…He shines in the scene in Kim’s office where he tells her she was easy….Cool, Controlled and Lerhal…

          • Really Laura?the Phil in his room with Lina is a classic Phil??
            I thought in WPF while he mentioned about his affair to Logan and Katie ,he said to Katie that men are not animals..I posted the exact lines in the top of all the comments…
            I felt this Phil more manipulative and aggressive..

          • Laura I can definitely see the differences in the two versions of Phil…He is much more in control to me in the finished product you published. My Phil is the one in Kim’s office telling her she was easy…Cool, controlled and lethal..:Wowza

  42. Happy Easter!

    Your story about the bday made me LOL Janet — sounds like parents I know.
    Why is Phil so much harder on Logan? That is my experience — I see it time and time again. The father I’ve experienced, particularly the alpha type, are harder on their sons. I’ve also noticed mothers being easier and harder on their first born daughters — not always but often.
    I’ll publish a sad scene with Logan tomorrow (don’t want to bring anyone down on Easter) — he’s talking to Lina. Phil is too hard on him, but he started understanding him better by the end of SN

    • I think you’re very on target about alpha’s and sons and mothers with oldest daughter.

      For a very long time I stepped in between my husband and son. I ramped it down once my son started to stand up for himself. For the last year my son has been performing an old Cat Stevens song, Father and Son, when my husband realized it was mimicking their relationship he took a big step back, realizing he was trying to be way too controlling.

      I’m an oldest daughter, my backbone comes from dealing with my mom. I love her beyond belief, but she was definitely a different mother to me and my siblings, high expectations!

      Logan is one of my favorite characters, As much as I’ve been enjoying the deleted scenes, not sure how I’ll feel about a sad one. Logan reminds me so much of my son.

      • I think we will be fine Tara…Logan is also my favorite character…I stressed ? out about him all through Laura writing SN…Laura, Jordan and all the blog girls told me he would be fine and he was…I just loved the after scene where Liam crawled into bed with Logan…Be still my heart…Laura sure gifted us with that scene…it was awesome..I use to think through SN that Logan stubbornness had him missing out on quality time with Phil…Phil set alone several times in SN when Lina was working and Liam was asleep where Logan and Phil could of been playing video games or watching a movie…He thought Logan disappearing was juvenile; however, in the walk scene when he told him he wasn’t disappearing on the weekends anymore and wasn’t losing him anymore than he had to, I felt it was because Phil truly missed his son…Phil always wanted his family unit whole and complete..he is a good man!

  43. Happy Easter, friends!
    Do you think Phil dressed up as the Easter bunny for his kids when they were young? ??

    • Hi Katie. I guess laura will have the best response since she created Phil. I’m leaning towards no. I don’t think he would have dressed up as the Easter bunny. Just my opinion.

      Enjoy the day with your family!

      • Hi Laura, as always thank you for the new scene!! Always want to read more, especially Lina and Phil together—it’s like their chemistry together jumps off the screen!
        In your original version(s) of WPF, I know they still stayed together, but was the ending a bit different? In the published version, the ending occurred at her parents’ wedding in the dance floor (where it all began for them)..also, before the epilogue, Lina and Phil were home from visiting Shilo at the hospital and she asked him to come home..in the original, were there any scenes between that and the epilogue?

        This was really my first cheating book..I never gave any other one a chance until now…you really challenged me to expand my ideas about relationships, marriage, soul mates, etc,…I think that’s one of the reasons readers are so enthralled by this story, because it challenges some of our long held beliefs (of what constitutes a good marriage, a happily ever after, forgiveness, etc)….but I think that’s what books are supposed to do..open up your mind and your world and help you look at things differently than you would otherwise…thank you for that Laura!!

        • Thanks, Miri!

          I never thought about what readers would think and was frankly shocked when I started receiving messages about it. It means a lot to me, knowing the story resonated with people.

          The epilogue at the Alice’s wedding was the same in both versions. In the original version, Lina and Phil were back together much quicker — it ended soon after the scene I published where Phil came to Lina when she was in bed crying. I’ll look for it. I keep finding different versions of the same scenes LOL

          • Hi Laura, thank you, can’t get enough!! Lol
            I’m really glad that they waited a bit longer before getting back together.. I think six months of separation as opposed to maybe one or two, felt like there was more time for Lina and Phil to grow individually and then come back together in a meaningful way..it felt more satisfying and realistic to me..after all it was a lot for Lina to process (the cheating, new baby, photos, etc), and Phil needed to contemplate and come to terms with what he had done,while being on his own, and to experience life without Lina for a bit in (which was miserable and painful!)

    • How about big ? ears? Haha. Tracie said cotton tail and I say bunny ears. Sorry I couldn’t help it.

      Miri! I would love to see your collection. I think Zales is totally underrated. I don’t like paying retail for jewelry but some of their designs are beautiful! When I used to take my babies to Gymboree, I would sometimes leave them with the nanny so I could window shop. I bought a necklace at Zales and still love it to this day. I also scour the fine jewelry dept at Ross and TJ Maxx too. That is my secret.

      Terry, I’ll go and look for Superman. You made me laugh!

  44. There isn’t a person alive who could not see the bond Lina and Phil have, except for Kim…That’s how I knew in WPF that Lina would not end up with Nick, her and Phil were one team one fight…Nick was sensitive and Lina could relate more at the time to his persona because she could see that Katie was getting better…

    Laura and Janet both can tell you from day one I worried about Phil and Logan…Lol ..However, Phil loves his son. He’s hard on him because he wants him to be a man’s man, most men do…I remember in SN where Katie is mad because Phil treats Logan differently than he treats her Lol….

    Laura if you get in the mood to write another after SN scene…I hope it’s one with Phil, Logan and Liam…Phil maybe thinking what a fine young man Logan is turning out to be. Logan could have Liam in the pool playing with him….Those scenes are just awwww…

    • Hi Tracie. Happy Easter. For me, I was never Team Nick. I always wanted Lina with Phil even though he could be a jerk. Like we always say, Phil is Phil. Lol. Phil is hard on Logan, no doubt about it. Might be because he always thinks Lina baby’s him.
      I loved the scene in SN when Phil saw Logan carrying Liam the first time. Phil was so touched.

  45. Phil should have been a bit considerate about Logan’s feelings..and accepted him as a sensitive kid
    “Maybe his new son will be as good as him.”
    This line from WPF made me cry

  46. Thanks for adding the new deleted scene Laura?
    Alice is so cool?she acts as if she is from another planet and entirely different species???
    I thought someone who believed in astrology were very conservative but Alice proved me totally wrong or I was wrong in my judgement ?

  47. 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

    • 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.

      • 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

        • Hi Janet! To your question below, I work for a jewelry manufacturing company, we sell directly to stores, so no public website..mainly mid level mass production (think Zales and a bit higher end)..I’m currently working on my own line of demi-fine, plan to launch that over the summer (still working on website for that)…thank you for asking! ??

          • Thanks Laura! Will let you know when it’s up and running…and yes, as much as I enjoy my regular design job and it pays the bills, developing my own line is much more satisfying creatively…it’s not as commercial but then it won’t be for everyone

        • Janet I thought that bordered on emotional abuse…ruined his swim?? Relax buddy!! Lol
          Thank you Laura for that amazing new scene, cannot get enough of Lina and Phil together, even when they argue!! (especially then! You just knooow they’re gonna have hot makeup sex! Haha)

    • 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!

    • Thank you!

      “The two of you are so much bigger than this.”.

      * Sigh….adrenaline levels lower*. Happy ?

  48. 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….

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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!

          • 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.

          • 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!

          • 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….

      • 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!

  49. 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?

  50. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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!

  51. 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…

    • 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!! ?❤️?

      • 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

        • 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 — 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.

  52. 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!

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

  54. “…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…

      • 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.

      • 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???

  55. 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…….

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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!

          • 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.

          • 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.

          • 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 ?

      • 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! ?❤️

    • 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.

    • 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!!?

  56. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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

    • 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!

  57. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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??

      • 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

        • 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

          • 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?

        • Janet,

          H E N R Y C A V I L…

          As I mentioned to Miri, age him up, age him down, give him tats, put him in a suit. Everything works. It may just be me though.

    • 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…

      • 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…

        • The was so damn funny about the dog. Loved the last line by Alice, “it’s a control thing”. Poor Phil.

    • 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.

    • 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?

      • 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.

        • 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.

          • 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…

    • 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.

    • 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…

      • 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!