After Swimming Naked…

“Come in.” Phil said in response to the knock on his door sill, continuing to look at his computer monitor as he drafted a response to an email.

“Unless you have something else for me, I’d like to leave a little early today,” his secretary said. “I still have to get candy for the trick-or-treaters.”

“Halloween.” He remembered it was Halloween for the first time since leaving the house that morning. He’d promised Lina he’d try to be home early. “Of course. Have a nice evening.”

“I’m supposed to remind you that’s it’s Halloween too.”

Phil shifted his gaze from the computer, his eyebrows pulled together in confusion.

“Your wife called. She said not to interrupt you, but to make sure you left by 6 p.m., so this is me telling you to leave by 6.”

After his secretary left, Phil looked down at his cell phone which he’d forgotten to switch off silence after a client meeting. There was a missed call from Lina and a text telling him to come home early.

“I have a deposition in the morning,” he said as soon as Lina answered. “I need another two hours.”

“It’s Halloween. You promised. You need to come to see the kids in their outfits.”

“Please tell me Logan isn’t going trick or treating. He’s over six-foot and—”

“He’s going to a party with Tiffany and Katie and Matt are going out too. Everyone is coming over pizza beforehand. I want you to see them before they leave. Come on. I don’t know why you’re being so cranky. You always used to come home early on Halloween.”

“That’s because I had kids that I had to take trick or treating and I’m not being cranky. I have a mountain of work on my desk.”  He leaned back in his chair.

“It’s our first Halloween with Liam.”

Phil chuckled. “He’s one. He doesn’t even understand—”

“He’s almost two and he does understand. And even if he doesn’t there are going to be pictures and I want you in them.”

His eyes focused on the pile of papers on his desk. He sighed. “How long do I have?”

* * *

“Dad’s home,” Katie yelled when Phil came through the mudroom door into the kitchen.

He set his briefcase just inside the door. His eyes narrowed as he took in Katie’s costume. She was wearing a brown pencil skirt, oxford shoes, a pink shirt and a pink beret. “Did you have a job interview or something?” he teased.

“You’re not funny,” she said. “You have to guess.”

“Someone in the 50s.”

Katie rolled her eyes. “Mom got it on the first try.”

“Are you a specific person or…” he trailed off when Matt appeared from the family room wearing a black suit with a wide brown and white striped necktie and a brown fedora hat. “Bonnie and Clyde.”

“It’s about time.” She looked toward the front of the house at the sound of the doorbell. “That’s the pizza. I need money.”

“I can get it.” Phil reached into his suit jacket as he took a couple of steps toward the front of the house.

“No.” Katie stepped in front of him, blocking his path. “You’ll ruin the surprise. You have to stay in the kitchen.”

“What surprise?”

“Just give me eighty dollars and don’t leave the room.”

“Eighty?” Phil raised his eyebrows. “That sounds a little steep for pizza.”

“Seventy then.” She held out her hand.

Phil extracted seventy dollars from his wallet, but handed it to Matt instead of Katie. “Give them a ten-dollar tip and me any change.”

“You don’t trust your own daughter?” Katie asked as soon as Matt walked away.

“Not when it comes to money.” Phil crossed to the refrigerator and pulled out a beer. “Where is everyone?”

“They’re coming.”

Matt returned a minute later, followed by Logan who was dressed as a vampire. He was in all black with a red-lined cape with his dark hair combed straight back. His skin was paler than normal and the skin under his eyes looked bruised. Small dribs of fake blood ran from the sides of his mouth down his chin.

“Again?” Phil raised his eyebrows. It was the third year in a row Logan had dressed as a vampire.

Last year I was a zombie. I’m a vampire.”

“You look exactly the same. Where’s Mom?”

“She’s coming,” Tiffany, wearing a black dress, and make up similar to Logan’s came into the kitchen.

“Mrs. Dracula, I presume,” Phil said.

“You’re so sexist,” Katie said. “What year do you think it is? Taking the guy’s name is outdated.”

“It is?” Matt asked.

“I’m going to take my husband’s name,” Tiffany said, smiling at Logan.

“I’m never even getting married,” Katie continued.

“We’re not?” Matt dropped down into a chair, not looking concerned.

“We don’t the government to sanction our love.”

“Logan and Tiffany,” Lina called out, “we’re ready for you.”

Seconds later Lina appeared, smiling at Phil. “Hi.”

“Hey there.” Phil wrapped his arm around her waist as he brushed his lips over hers. “I thought the surprise was going to be you in a French maid costume,” he whispered into her ear.

“Be good,” she whispered back.

“I’ll be good. I’ll be very good.” He stroked his hand down to her butt.

“Stop,” Katie groaned. “Hurry up Logan! Dad won’t stop groping Mom!”

Logan retuned to the kitchen with one arm around Tiffany and the other around Liam who was hiding beneath his cape.

“Has anyone seen our little vampire?” Tiffany asked. “We’ve looked everywhere and we can’t find him.”

“Oh no!” Lina cried. “Is there a loose vampire in the house?”

Liam pounced out from beneath Logan’s cape, throwing his arms up in the air. “Grrrrrr! Grrrrrr!”

“Vampires don’t growl,” Logan laughed. “Don’t say anything.”

“Grrrrrr!” Liam cried.

It took Phil a moment to absorb the scene. Liam looked identical to Logan with his hair combed back, unnaturally white face, bruised circles under his eyes and fake blood dribbled down his chin. It was like he was Logan’s ‘little me’. With the exception of his blue eyes, they were an older and younger version of the same person. A knot formed in his throat at the demonstration of the obvious bond between them.

“Grrrrrr!” Liam stood before him. “Grrrrr, Daddy.”

“Aren’t you scared, Daddy?” Lina whispered.

“Oh. Right.” Phil stepped backward. “Don’t hurt me, vampire.”

Liam continued to come at him.  Phil clasped him under his arms and lifted him in the air. “What happened to Liam? What have you done with Liam?”

“I Lee. I Lee, Daddy.”

Phil chuckled at the serious expression on Liam’s face. “Oh, there you are.” Phil smiled at him. “You scared, Daddy.”

““I Lee. I Lee,” Liam shouted. “I Lee, Daddy.” He smiled in delight.

Phil kissed him on the top of his head before setting him back on his feet. “Now we just have to find Logan.”

Liam immediately ran to Logan, throwing his arms around his legs. “Lo Lo, Daddy,” he laughed.

Phil smiled, taking in the sight of the two of them. “Are you sure that’s Logan? He looks like a vampire to me.”

“Lo Lo,” Liam repeated.

“Look over here Liam,” Katie said as she took a picture with her cellphone. “Okay now try to look scary.”

Phil participated in the photo-taking for a few minutes and then followed Lina to the boxes of pizza stacked on the kitchen island. “Was that your idea—Liam’s outfit?”

“Actually it was Tiffany’s,” she whispered. “Much to Katie’s chagrin. She wanted him to be rock star.”

“I didn’t realize how much they looked alike.”

“You didn’t?” Lina’s eyes widened. “They both look like you. How could they not look alike?”

“Do they?”

“Yes.” She framed his face between her hands. “Have you seriously not noticed?”

“Not really.” 

“You aren’t very observant.”

He curved his arm around her waist before she could step back from him. “I notice how fucking beautiful you are.”

Lina wrapped her arms  around his neck. “Even without a French maid costume?”

His gaze shifted between her eyes and lips. “That would just take things to a new level.”

“Maybe you could dress up for me?”

“What do you have in mind?”

“Oh I don’t know. Maybe a pool boy?”

Phil laughed aloud.

“What’s so funny?” Logan asked, shuffling up beside them.

“Nothing,” Lina answered. “We were just—why don’t you set the table so we can eat.”

Forty-five minutes later, Liam’s cries filled the kitchen. “Lo Lo!”

“That’s enough Liam,” Phil said. He’d been crying since the teenagers left to go to their parties a few minutes earlier.

“He’s just tired.” Lina continued to jiggle him against her side. “He didn’t get a nap today.”

 “Vampires don’t cry, Liam,” Phil said. “Come here.” He tried to take him from Lina.

“No!” Liam clung to Lina’s neck. 

“You’re acting like a baby.”

“No Daddy!” Liam stopped crying to glare at his father. “No!”

Phil laughed at the sight of the glaring little vampire.

“No!” Liam yelled.

“Don’t tease him,” Lina scolded. “Let’s go find a book. Do you want Mommy to read you a book?”

“Book,” Liam agreed.

“I’m going to change into my pool boy outfit,” Phil said to Lina’s departing back.

Phil took a shower before changing into lounge pants and a T-shirt. It was 8:45, well past Liam’s 8 p.m. bedtime, so Phil made his way to his room. He leaned against the door sill when he saw Lina sleeping beside Liam and his single bed. He wasn’t surprised. It was a common occurrence, Lina falling asleep as she read Liam a bed time story. Working and taking care of all of them was more than a full-time job. He’d suggested they ask the nanny to also cook for the family, but Lina had insisted she didn’t want help in the kitchen. His eyes shifted from Lina to Liam who was curled into her side. The makeup was gone from his face, but he was still dressed in the costume. Phil pushed himself off the wall and made his way to the bed. He carefully removed Liam’s cape, knowing Lina wouldn’t want him sleeping in it, and then lifted Lina into his arms.

“Phil?” She opened her eyes. “What are you doing? I can walk.”

“I’d rather carry you.” He turned Liam’s light off and shifted Lina slightly so he could pull the door clothes.

“He can’t sleep in the cape. He could choke—”

“I already took it off him.”

“I need to clean the kitchen. It’s—”

“It can wait until tomorrow.” He carried her into the master bedroom, using his foot to close the door. “We’re going to bed. You’re exhausted.”

“It’s not even nine.”

“Stop arguing with me.” He pressed his knee into the mattress as he laid her down.

“I need to brush my teeth and wash my face.”

Phil removed her shoes, tossing them toward the wardrobe. “Later.” He pulled off his T-shirt and stepped out of his lounge pants.

“I thought you wanted me to go to sleep.” Lina lifted her arms as he tugged off her blouse.

“I didn’t say anything about sleeping.” He reached beneath her to unzip her skirt.

Lina lifted her hips so he could remove it. “Did you lock the door?”

“No, but he’s dead to the world.” He dropped his mouth to her neck as he positioned himself between her thighs.

 “You feel so good.” She wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Yeah?” He nipped her earlobe with his teeth. “Are you pretending I’m the pool boy?”

“Yes.”

“Liar,” he growled before thrusting into her.

Phil got up briefly to set the alarm and lock up the house. It was after 1 a.m. and Logan and Katie were in their beds asleep. He was turning off the kitchen light when he noticed his cell phone on the counter. He picked it up and headed up stair, flicking through his emails. He stopped his forward moment, one hand on the banister when he saw an email from Kim.

How is Liam? I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately. I’ll be in the area a week from Thursday and would like to see him. I’ll reach out on Tuesday or Wednesday to firm up plans. Kim

************************************************************************************************************************************************

“Fuck!” All it took was one paragraph from Kim to ruin his mood. When she’d moved to New York six months prior, he’d figured she’d keep in touch, but when the months passed with no word from her, he’d started to believe she was permanently gone from their lives.

“Daddy?”

He lifted his gaze from his phone to find Liam standing at the top of the stairs, his hair stuck up in all directions and his eyes puffy form sleep. The memory of the bite marks on Liam’s back the Christmas prior flashed in his mind. He was gripped by a surge of protectiveness. “What are you doing up?”

“Bottle.”

“You don’t have a bottle anymore.” Lina had weaned him of the bottle the week before. It had been a few nights of hell as Liam got used to the sippy cup.

“Want bottle.”

Phil met him at the top of the stairs and lifted him into his arms. “We’ll get you something to drink.” Phil kissed his head.

“Bottle.” Liam rested his head in the crook of Phil’s neck. “Peeze.”

*             *             *

“No.” Liam pushed the sippy cup away with his hand. “Bottle, Daddy.”

“You’re a big boy. Big boys don’t get bottles, remember?”

“No, Lee baby,” he said.

Phil smiled at the sudden reversal. Liam had been insisting he wasn’t a baby for weeks.  “I thought you wanted to be a big boy like Logan.”

Liam shook his head. “Lee baby.”

Phil pressed his lips against his forehead. He fought the urge to give him a bottle. Lina would kill him. “Mommy gave all your bottles to a new baby.”

“No!” Liam frowned up at Phil, his lower beginning to tremble.

“How about if we read you Guess How Much I Love You?” According to Lina it was his new favorite book.

Liam nodded.

Lina wasn’t surprised to find Phil’s side of the bed empty the following morning, but she was surprised to find the bathroom empty with no evidence he’d used the sink or shower.  Before she could give it too much thought, the bedroom door opened.

 “I fell asleep with Liam.” He dragged his hand down his face. “He was up in the middle of the night.”

“You actually laid down with him?” He usually read to him in a chair and then put him to bed.

“I did.” He clasped her shoulder as he brushed his lips over her cheek. “I’m taking a shower.”

She was in the kitchen with Liam when Phil came downstairs, dressed for work in a dark suit.

“Daddy!” Liam smiled.

He paused beside Liam to kiss top of his head. “Daddy has to go to work.”

“Already? It’s barely seven.”

“I know.” He joined her at the counter beside a pot of brewed coffee. “Someone made me come home early last night.” He reached around her for a ‘to go’ mug. “Shouldn’t Logan be up?”

“They don’t have school today. I’m taking off too.” She watched him make his coffee. “Don’t forget we have dinner with Adele and William.” She frowned when he sighed. “What was that? You like William.”

“I do. I just have a lot going on.” He leaned in and brushed his lips over hers. “I’ll see you tonight.”

She clasped his free hand before he could walk away. “Do you want me to cancel?”

“No. I don’t know.” He shook his head.

“Is everything okay?” She suddenly noticed the circles beneath his eyes.

He released a deep sigh. “I don’t have time to get into this right now, but I uh—Kim emailed me. She wants to see him.”
Lina’s stomach dropped. “When?”

“Late next week.”

“Not overnight.”

“I don’t know.”
“She can’t have him overnight, Phil.”

“Okay.”

“He may not even remember her. She can’t just expect to take him for the weekend.”

“I said okay.” His eyes narrowed. “We’re in agreement.”

“You just said you didn’t know.”

“I don’t know what she wants. What her plan is. All I have is an email with very little information.”

Annoyance bubbled in her chest. “How long have you known?”

“Less than six hours. I’m not the enemy, Lina. We’re on the same side here.”

“Mommy!” Liam began banging his fists on the high chair tray.

“I’m coming,” she called, not looking away from Phil. “I’m not going to let her hurt him again. I don’t care how much money it costs us. I—”

“Calm down.” Phil squeezed her hand. “We don’t have any information. This may just be a breeze in and breeze out. Let’s not get upset until we have to.”

*  *  *

Does she have unlimited rights?” William asked later that evening.

Lina and Phil along with William and Adele were at the Woodmont Grill in Bethesda for a late dinner. The first drink had barely been served before the conversation turned to Kim’s visit. Lina had been tied up in knots all day at the thought of Kim being around Liam. She’d naively assumed Kim was gone from their lives and had let herself relax, believing she would be Liam’s only mother. Now she didn’t know what to think.

“I wouldn’t say unlimited,” Phil answered. “But she does have rights.”

“She disappeared from his life without a backwards glance,” Adele said. “Wouldn’t a court frown upon that?”

“Maybe.” Phil paused to take a swallow of Scotch. “It’s too soon to claim abandonment. I talked to my lawyer today. She could claim she was under stress with the decision to let us have him. No judge is going to pull her rights away after six months.”

Lina looked down into her wine glass. She and Phil had discussed what the lawyer said on the drive over. Hearing it again only served to raise her blood pressure. They had no choice but to let Kim waltz back into Liam’s life. That was the reality.

“It’s fucking insane,” Adele fumed. “She walked away from him. She shouldn’t have any rights.”

“I agree,” Lina said. “But apparently we’re in the minority”

“I didn’t say I agreed that it was right,” Phil said.

“You didn’t say you didn’t.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake. Do you really think I want her anywhere near him? I’m just trying to be realistic. I don’t want to throw a ton of money at a case we can’t win.”

She lifted her glass to her lips and took a sip. She knew she was being unfair to him, but at the moment she was upset and fairness wasn’t at the forefront of her mind. “She’s not coming into our house.”

“Of course, she isn’t.” Adele glared at Phil.

“No one said she was coming to our home,” Phil said, his words clipped. “I would never allow that.”

“I don’t want her near our house or Ellicott City,” Lina clarified. “Logan is finally back to normal and I don’t want some insensitive gossip to see the three of you and—.”

“Fine,” Phil said, cutting her off. “Do we really have to do this right now?” The side of his jaw had begun to clench and unclench.

“Maybe Lina needs backup,” Adele said.

“Adele,” both William and Lina said at the same time.

“Please stop,” Lina said to Adele.  “I don’t need backup. Let’s just talk about something else.”

 *  *  *

A few glasses of wine took the edge off Lina’s anxiety, allowing her to push thoughts of Liam to the back of her mind and enjoy the evening. Phil was quiet, but with Adele carrying the conversation it wasn’t completely unusual. When he didn’t say anything for the first ten minutes of their drive home, she knew something was wrong.

“I’m not mad at you,” she finally said after another ten minutes.

“That’s not what it feels like from where I’m sitting.” He gripped the steering wheel.

“It’s just hard, you know?”

“I know.” He reached out and took her hand, dragging it to rest on his thigh. “I’m sorry. I wish she’d stayed away too.”

Lina looked out the window. A knot had lodged in her throat and she didn’t trust herself to talk without choking up.

“Hey.” He squeezed her hand. “We’ll get through this. It could just be a one-time thing.”

“Or it could be more,” she whispered, her stomach twisting. “She could decide that she wants regular visitation.” Just saying it aloud caused a pain in her chest.

“She isn’t going to—.”

“You don’t know that,” Lina cried, swinging her gaze from the window to him. “You have no idea what she wants!”

“Baby, calm down.”

“No!” She shook her head as tears came to her eyes. “He’s my son. It’s as if someone is trying to take my baby from me. She has the right to take him!” She covered her eyes as she was overwhelmed by emotion. She felt the car slowing and then Phil was pulling her into his arms.

“No, Lina. That’s never going to happen,” he said as he stroked his hand up and down her back. “I swear to you. That will never happen.”

“But she has rights. And I don’t have any. In the eyes of the law, she’s his mother not me. Do you know how that feels?”

“No. You’re his mother. You’re the one who gets up with him and takes care of him. You’re the one who loves him every day. He thinks you’re his mommy because you are.”

“What if something happened to you, Phil? Would he be mine?”

“Nothing is going to happen to me.”

“But what if it did?” She pulled back to meet his eyes. “She could take him from me. I just can’t bare the thought of it. We have to make this legal Phil. She has to let me be his mom.”

************************************************************************

“I don’t want the kids to know.”

The sound of Lina’s voice woke Phil from his semi-sleep state. He focused on the alarm clock on the night stand. It was 1:20. They’d been in bed for half an hour.

“Unless they have to,” she continued. “There’s no reason to upset them. Like you said, it may be an isolated event. She could just disappear again.”

“I agree.”

“When do you think you’ll hear from her again? Maybe you should just ask when she wants to see him and for how long.”

“I thought we agreed to wait, to not let her think we’re not making a big deal about it.” They had discussed it at length on the way to dinner. Lina insisted the lack of information in Kim’s email was intentional, that she was trying to increase their anxiety by not letting them know her plan.

“I know, but now I don’t know. How can we formulate a response if we don’t know what she wants? She may think she can sweep in and take him for the weekend.”

“Or she may just want to see him for a few hours on Friday.”

“Which would require you to take a day off work.”

“I have court next Friday. If she wants to see him Friday, Teresa can meet her.”

“No!” Lina sat up and turned on the light. “He isn’t going without you. That’s a terrible idea. What if he gets upset?”

“Alright. Bad idea. I wasn’t thinking. Would you turn off the light?” He squinted up at her.

“This is why you need to find out her plan,” Lina continued, ignoring or not hearing his request. “What if she thinks she’s going to see him Friday. Do you think she’s going to be fine with you saying ‘no’?”

“I’ll email her tomorrow.”

“No. Wait until Monday. I don’t want her to think she’s ruining our weekend.”

“Monday then,” he agreed, not pointing out that Kim was, in fact, ruining their weekend. “Would you turn off the light now and go to sleep.”

She turned off the light before laying back down beside him, resting her cheek against his chest as he wrapped his arm around her. “I hate this,” she whispered.

“I know.” He pressed his lips against the top of her head. “I hate it too.”

*  *  *

“Fuck.” Phil looked at his cellphone. It was almost four on Monday afternoon and there was a message from Lina on his phone, asking if Kim had responded. He’d been avoiding contacting her, hoping she’d go away, but he’d promised Lina.

He quickly drafted an email, keeping it as brief as possible:

When do you want to see him?

***

“Well?” Lina asked as soon as he arrived home.

“Is that how you greet me?” He cupped the side of her face as he brushed his lips over hers. “Hi.” He kissed her again.

“Daddy!” Liam bounded into the room and directly into his father’s legs, wrapping his arms around him.

“I haven’t heard,” he told Lina before turning his attention to Liam. “Hey buddy.” He scooped him up into his arms.

“What does that mean?” Lina asked. “Why wouldn’t she answer?”

“Maybe she’s busy. She could have been in court all day.” He smiled down at Liam. “Do you want to come up stairs with me while I change?”  

Liam nodded.

 “Do I have time for a run before dinner?” he asked Lina.

“Yes.” She sighed.

“Hey.” He paused beside her. “Don’t read anything into this. She probably receives a hundred emails a day. She’ll respond.”

***

Kim responded later that evening. Phil was beside Lina on the couch watching a SITCOM when he checked his email on his phone.

I should be done with my meetings by 4 on Thursday. I can be at you house by 5, traffic depending. I’ll have a few hours before my train back to New York

He felt relief flood through him that she wasn’t asking to keep Liam overnight. He held the phone out to Lina.

Her eye’s widened as she read the response. “She thinks she’s coming here? She actually thinks I’m going to let her in my house?”

“It doesn’t matter what she thinks,” Phil said.

“Tell her she isn’t welcome in our home—EVER.” She glared at him.

“I plan to, but this is good news. Three hours is all she wants.”

“There’s no good news—just less bad news.”  

***

“Promise me you won’t let him out of your site,” Lina said. It was Thursday morning and she’d just joined him in the bathroom.

Phil paused with the razor under his bottom lip. “Even if he’s okay?”

“I don’t trust her.” Lina began to brush her hair, the strokes more vigorous than usual. “She could take him.”

She wasn’t going to take him, but Phil decided not to argue the point. Lina was agitated enough. He just wanted the day to be over. “I won’t let him out of my site.”

“I hate this.”

“I know.” He met her eyes in the mirror. “I’m sorry.”

“Are you going to ask about adoption—letting me adopt him?”

His stomach sunk. He didn’t want to give her false hope. He couldn’t fathom Kim signing over all rights. “I’ll feel her out.”

“What if you paid her? We could give her money to go away.”

“No.” He shook his head. “It wouldn’t stand up in court. You can’t buy parental rights. She could take our money, spend it and come back for more.”

“But if she signed something—”

“She could say it was under duress. We can’t pay her Lina.” He hated the worry and fear in her eyes. “I’ll do my best.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

“Have you decided what we’re going to tell Katie and Logan.”

“We don’t have to tell them anything. Katie is staying in College Park with friends tonight and Logan has Talent Practice. He won’t be home before nine. They won’t even know.”

*  * *

Phil carried Liam into Solid State Book on H street in D.C. at 4:50 on Thursday. Meeting at a book store had been Lina’s idea. She wanted Liam to be as comfortable as possible and decided the children’s section of a book store would be a perfect neutral location.

Liam had slept the entire drive over and was still a little groggy. As soon as he saw the stuffed animals, pillows and small tables and chairs indicating they had reached the “kiddie corner” he perked up. “Down, Daddy,” he demanded. As soon as his feet touched the floor, he ran off to join another boy who was running a train car along a track.

Phil glanced down at his phone. There was a new text from Lina.

Call me as soon as you’re done

I just arrived. I will call you as soon as we’re headed home. I love you

Another text arrived, this time from Kim. I’m running about 20 minutes late

Normally he would have been annoyed to be kept waiting, but in this case he was relieved. Twenty minutes less time with Kim was a plus. He shot off a quick text to Lina, telling her Kim’s latest status before shrugging off his suit jacket. He folded it in half and laid it on one of the small tables. He loosened his tie, regretting not taking the time to change out of his suit. He’d been late getting home and didn’t want to chance getting caught in traffic. He looked at one of the small chairs surrounding the table. He doubted it could support him. Instead he opted for a large pillow.  He wasn’t going to stand for two hours.

He absently watched Liam watching a boy of about three push a toy train along a plastic track. After a minute the boy stepped back and indicated that Liam could take a turn. Liam immediately took the train and began to imitate what the other boy had done seconds earlier, only he chanted ‘choo choo’ as he maneuvered the toy around the track.

Another time, Phil would have enjoyed watching his son exercise his social skills. But his thoughts were with Lina. He hated what he was putting her through. She had been a nervous wreck since finding out Kim’s text an entire week earlier. He had no idea how he could ease her mind.

He knew the moment Kim arrived. Liam dropped the train in his hand, his eyes widening as he focused on something behind Phil. He hesitated only a moment before running to Phil.

“Daddy,” he said, climbing into his lap.

“It’s okay,” Phil whispered into his ear, stroking his hand down his son’s back. “Daddy isn’t going anywhere.”

“HI,” Kim said from directly behind Phil.

Liam fisted the material of Phil’s shirt, his eyes focused on Kim.

“Oh my God,” she breathed. “He’s grown so much.” She stepped in front of Phil. “Hi, Liam.” Dressed in a custom-tailored dark suit with a crème colored silk blouse and three-inch black pumps, she looked the part of a business executive or lawyer. “You remember me, don’t you?”

Liam pressed his body into Phil’s as if he was trying to be part of him.

“What’s wrong with him?” she asked.

“Nothing’s wrong with him,” Phil answered, annoyance creeping into his voice. “He hasn’t seen you in six months.”

“Don’t you remember me?” She set down her briefcase before lowering herself into one of the small chairs.

Liam’s grip on Phil’s shirt tightened.

“May I hold you?” She held out her arms.

“No!” Liam shook his head.

“Give him a minute to get used to you,” Phil said.

“I’m your mommy,” Kim said. “Don’t you remember me?”

Liam turned his face into Phil’s neck.

“It’s okay,” Phil assured him, rubbing his back.

“I can’t believe how much he’s grown,” she said. “He’s so big.” When Phil didn’t comment she continued. “How is he?”

“He’s great,” Phil answered. “Happy.”

She nodded, her gaze returning to Liam who was once again watching her, a serious expression on his face. “You look just like your daddy.”

Liam turned in Phil’s lap so he was facing Kim, his back pressed against his father’s chest.

“Do you remember me?” she asked.

Liam nodded.

“Do you want to show her the train?” Phil asked. He couldn’t bring himself to refer to her as ‘mommy’. She wasn’t his mother, Lina was. “Why don’t you show her the train?” Phil repeated.

“Daddy come too?” Liam arched his head back to look at his father.

“No. Daddy is going to stay right here. I’ll watch you from here.”

“Will you show me the train, Liam?” Kim asked. “I love trains.”

Liam looked at Phil.

“It’s okay,” Phil reassured him. “You can show her the train.”

After a few more seconds, Liam scampered off Phil’s lap. He waited for Kim to stand before making his way back to the train.

Liam glanced back at Phil a few times, but eventually he began to relax, smiling shyly at Kim as he showed her how to run the train around the track.

*****************************************************************

As ten minutes turned in to thirty, the little hope Phil harbored that Kim would relinquish all claims to Liam diminished to practically nothing. He still planned to broach the subject. He’d promised Lina he would, but there was an unmistakable bond between them. Liam hadn’t even looked back at him in twenty minutes. Phil plowed his fingers back though his hair as he watched Liam pull her to a pillow and insist she sit down. Moment later he was bringing her a book and crawling into her lap. Phil was glad Lina wasn’t witnessing the two of them together. He came to his feet.

“I’m going to grab a drink,” he told them, pausing beside their spot.

“No!” Liam eye’s widened with fear. He frantically slid off Kim. “Me go, Daddy!” He threw himself against his Phil’s legs, wrapping his arms around them.

“I’m just getting a drink.” He stroked his hand over Liam’s head. “I’ll be right over there.” He nodded toward the café on the other side of the store. “You can stay here and finish your book. I’ll–“

“No!” Liam’s bottom lip began to quiver. “I come Daddy.” He tightened his arms around Phil’s leg.

“Why don’t we all go?” Kim suggested. “I could use a coffee.” She gracefully came to her feet. “Do you want us to all go Liam?”

Liam’s arms remained clamped around Phil’s legs as he nodded at Kim.

“Do you want me to carry you?” She held out her hand.

“No! Daddy.” He looked up at Phil.

Phil leaned down and lifted Liam up, settling him into his side. He gathered the diaper bag and his jacket before making his way to the small café. Kim wordlessly trailed after them. Annoyance bubbled in his chest at the obvious terror Liam experienced at the thought of being left alone with Kim.  

“I can’t believe it’s been six months. I don’t know where the time went,” she said.

“Cookie,” Liam pointed at a plate of cookies behind a glass display in the café. “Want cookie, Daddy.”

“I’ll get you one, but you can’t have it until after you’ve eaten.”

“Should we take him somewhere to eat?” Kim came to stand beside him.

“I have his dinner with me.” At Lina’s request, the nanny had packed him food.

“Cookie!” Liam began to bounce against Phil’s side. “Want cookie.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to take him somewhere?”

“Positive. He’ll do better here.” Phil’s gaze shifted to the barista. “We’ll have a peanut butter and chocolate cookie, a bottle of water and,” he paused as he pulled Liam’s sippy cup from the diaper bag. “Would you fill this will whole milk please.”

“Of course, anything else?”

“Whatever she wants,” Phil answered, not looking at Kim. 

“I’ll have a skimmed late.”

“Cookie!” Liam smiled.

“For after you eat,” Phil reminded him.

Phil set Liam up at a small table with his dinner of a cut-up peanut butter and jelly sandwich, strawberries, and yogurt, but when he tried to leave him with Kim, Liam protested. 

“Daddy, stay,” Liam demanded.

“I’ll be right there.” Phil nodded at a nearby table. “You can have some of the cookie when you’re done.” 

“No, Daddy stay.” Liam frowned up at him.  

“Do you want me to read you the book?” Kim held up the book Liam had picked out earlier.

“Daddy.” Liam tossed his hand toward the chair beside him.

“It’s cute how close he is to you,” Kim said.

Phil reluctantly sat down. He was across from Kim and perpendicular to Liam.

Liam relaxed, clearly no longer afraid of being left, and returned his attention to Kim who opened the book.

It was a book about farm animals, featuring a different animal on every page. As Kim showed Liam the first page, he shouted out ‘pig’ and then began to oink.

“Very good.” She smiled at him.

“Cow. Mooo,” he said when she turned the page.

“Wow.” She seemed genuinely surprised as she flipped from page to page. When she came to the last page her attention shifted back to Phil. “He’s really smart, isn’t he?”

“Yes, he’s smart,” Phil agreed.

“I never thought about that, how smart he would probably be.” She returned her attention to Liam. “Can you count? One, two–“

“Free, four, five, six, even, eight, nine, ten!”

“Very good.” Kim rewarded him with a smile and Liam beamed back at her. “You’re smart like your mommy and daddy aren’t you?”

A wave of annoyance shifted through Phil. He looked away from them. 

“I don’t know why I’m so surprised. We’re his parents. Of course he’s going to be smart.” She smiled at him again. “And handsome. You’re very handsome.”

“Piece?” Liam held out a slice of grape.

“No. That’s for you.”

“Piece.” Liam continued to hold it toward her.

She reluctantly took it from him, holding it between her index finger and thumb. “Thank you.”

“Eat.” Liam lifted his eyebrows.

“I think I’ll save it for later.” She set it on a napkin.

Liam put another piece into his mouth before turning to Phil. “Cookie.”

“Not until you finish your sandwich.”

“Please tell me that’s almond butter,” Kim said. “She doesn’t give him peanut butter does she?”

“Excuse me?” Phil frowned.

“Almond butter has more vitamins and minerals.”

Phil shook his head. “Noted.”

“I’m serious. I just read an article that–“

“You’re here to interact with him, not with me.”

“It’s about him,” Kim said, but returned her attention to Liam.

Phil caught up on his email, only half listening to Kim and Liam’s interactions. Liam finished all his food and a cookie before he got tired of sitting, insisting Kim take him out of his highchair. Moments later he was running around the café.

“Liam,” Phil warned. “No running inside.”

“No, Daddy!” Liam stopped to frown at him. “No.”

“It looks like he inherited your temper,” Kim said. 

“Do you want to go back to the books?” Phil asked Liam.

“Books.” Liam trotted off toward the Kid’s Corner.

“It’s only been two hours and I’m exhausted.” 

Phil was once again stretched out on an oversized pillow. He lifted his gaze as Kim sat down at the table beside him. Liam was interacting with another boy near the train. “I want you to sign over all rights.”

Her eye’s widened. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me.” He’d thought about bringing it up in a less direct way, but knew she’d understand what he was getting at, so decided not to play games. “Nothing will change. You can still see him, but I want him protected.”

“Protected from what exactly?”

“If something were to happen to me, I want him to remain where he is.”

“With Lina.”

“And his siblings.”

Kim looked away from him, shaking her head. “You’re unbelievable.”

“I’m unbelievable? Why? Because I want to protect him.”

“No.” Her gaze returned to his. “Because you’re trying to pretend that she’s his mother.”

Phil paused, trying to keep his temper in check. “You haven’t seen him in six months. 

 “And you barely saw him for the first six months of his life, so don’t lecture me. And it isn’t like I left him with a stranger. You’re his father.”

“I just want what’s best for Liam.”

“And you’ve decided cutting his mother out of his life is what’s best for him?”

“I didn’t say anything about cutting you out of his life.”

“Then what are you saying exactly?”

“I’m saying I want a stable life for him.”

“He has one, doesn’t he?”

“Yes, and I want to ensure that continues in the unlikely event something happens to me.”

“Well in that unlikely event, I, as the person who brought him in to this world, will determine what’s best for him. You seem to have forgotten I’ve done that once already. I decided he was temporarily better off with you. That’s the only reason he’s living with you right now.”

“Temporarily?” Phil repeated, his jaw clenching. “What in the fuck are you talking about? You walked away from him. You haven’t even checked on him.”

“He’s a baby. You’ve raised three others. I figured he was in good hands.”

“Nothing will change. I won’t keep him from you.”

“I know you won’t because I’m his mother. I’m not Lina, Phil. You can’t manipulate me. Regardless of what you want, I’m not signing away my right to him.”

“I am trying to protect him.”

She laughed. “Protect him? No. You’re trying to erase me from your life. You are trying to give my son to her.

“He isn’t an object. He’s a person. And she is the constant in his life. She treats him like her own son. She loves him like he’s her own son.”

“That’s sweet, but he’s not.”

“You are so fucking selfish,” he growled.

“Nice language.” Kim looked knowing at a woman and little girl within hearing distance.

Phil dragged his hands down his face. There was no reasoning with her. Her thinking was completely warped.

After a minute he tried again. “She is mothering him. She, not you, gets up with him in the middle of the night. She’s the one that consoles him when he’s upset.”

“I could hire a nanny to do that,” Kim said dismissively.

He clenched his fists together. He had to get away from her before he lost it. “I think we’re done.”

 “They only reason, I agreed to let you have him was because I’m trying to make partner. I work over 80 hours a week. I thought a family would be better for him. Plus, I don’t think I’m that great with babies. But he isn’t always going to be a baby. One day, I’ll have more time for him. Teenage years can be hard. Who knows, he may ask to live with me one day.”

“You live in a fantasy world.” Phil came to his feet. “Liam, time to go,” he called out.

Liam bounded back to them. “Cookie?” He curved his arm around Phil’s leg.

“When we get to the car. Say goodbye to Kim,” Phil said, emphasizing her name.

“Bye, bye.” Liam waved at her.

“How about a hug.” She held out her arms. “Mommy loves you,” she told him as she hugged him. “I’ll see you soon.”

As soon as she released Liam, Phil scooped him up. He left the store without a backward glance.

*******************************************

Lina read Phil’s message for what felt like the hundredth time.

On our way. We should be home in about 45

She’d considered calling him when she first received the message thirty minutes earlier, but ultimately decided not to, knowing if he’d had good news to share, he would have called. Kim hadn’t agreed to sign over rights or he hadn’t asked. She topped off her wine before crossing to the kitchen table.

 A mixture of anxiety and annoyance swirled in her chest. She’d been consumed with thoughts of Kim and Liam for a week. She needed to pull herself together. It was beginning to affect her life and job. She’d been so distracted at work earlier that day, she’d forgotten to call in for a conference call with their New York site.  

She hated the thought of Liam with Kim, hated the thought of her touching him. She’d given up her rights that day in the courtroom. She didn’t deserve him.

The sound of the garage door opening had her setting down her glass and coming to her feet.  As soon as she saw the firm set of Phil’s jaw, she knew it hadn’t gone well. Liam was asleep in his arms, his body cradled against Phil’s chest.

“I’ll take him,” Lina said quietly.

 “He’ll wake up,” Phil said. “Let me just take him up. If he wakes up now, he could—”

“I want to hold him.” She needed to hold him.

Phil hesitated only a moment before carefully handing Liam over. “Hey,” he said as Lina turned to walk away. He leaned in, brushing his lips over hers. “This isn’t over.”

A familiar lump formed in her throat. She looked away from him. “There’s a plate for you in the oven. I assume you haven’t eaten.”

“I swear to you, she is never taking him from us.”

“I’m going to take him up. We can talk later.”

Liam was clearly exhausted, continuing to sleep as Lina changed his diaper and slipped him into his pajamas. She laid in bed with him for over an hour, simply watching him sleep.  

When Lina returned to the kitchen Logan was sitting at the kitchen island bent over a bowl of cereal. “Are you hungry? I could make you a grilled cheese or—”

“I’m good,” he said over a mouth full of cheerios.

“How was rehearsal?”

“Good. We’re the last act of the night, so it’s okay if you aren’t on time.”

His talent show was the following evening and Lina had a late meeting in Northern Virginia. “Where’s your dad?”

“I don’t know.” He shrugged. “I haven’t seen him. Are you okay?” His eyes narrowed in concern.

“Of course. I’m fine.” She forced a smile.

“Did something happen? You look sad.”

“I’m fine, sweetie.” Lina wrapped her arm around him and kissed the side of his head. “I’m just tired. It’s been a long week.”

***

She found Phil in the master bedroom. He was on the couch in the sitting-room, his knees spread wide with his elbows resting on his thighs. A glass of scotch sat on the coffee table. He was still dressed in his suit, the knot of his tie slightly loosened. He sat up as Lina approached.

“Did you eat?” she asked.

“No. I’m not hungry.”

He was always hungry. “You should eat.”

“I had a late lunch.” He reached out his hand. “Come here.”  

Lina let him pull her between his thighs, resting her chin on top of his head as he wrapped his arms around her. They stayed that way for over a minute before Lina broke the silence. “Did he recognize her?”

Phil pulled back slightly and met her eyes. “I think so, but he wouldn’t let me out of his sight.”

“I told you not to leave him alone with her.” Annoyance bubbled in her chest. “Did you try to leave him?”

“Lina. Relax.” He squeezed her hand. “I just wanted to get a water.”

“I told you I didn’t want him upset.”

“It was a second. He never cried. He was fine.”

She could feel the anger flow from her body. “Tell me what she said.” She sat down beside him on the couch, curling her legs up under her. “How did she act? Did she say anything about seeing him again?”

“No. She just sat with him. Read him a book. Watched him play with another boy.”

Lina crossed her arms over her chest. “Did you talk to her about custody?”

“I did.” He leaned back beside her on the couch and stretched his arm along the cushion behind her. “She wasn’t receptive to giving away any of her rights.”

“So that’s it? There’s nothing we can do?”

“She’s not going to take him. She has no desire to be his mother.”

“Then why won’t she let me adopt him? If she has no desire to be his mother, why won’t she let me?”

“Because she’s selfish and she wants to put a wedge between us. This is all about power.”

“If something were to happen to you.”

“Nothing is going to happen to me,” he said intensely.

“You can’t say that. You aren’t God, Phil. We don’t know the future. But if something happened to you, she would take him from me. I would lose him. You have to do something. We have to get in front of a judge and prove how unfit she is.”

“Baby, stop. Stop doing this to yourself.” He cupped her shoulder. “Nothing is going to happen to me.”

“If you know that so emphatically, then why do we have insurance? Why did you insist on insuring yourself, Phil? It’s because you don’t know. You don’t know!”

“Look, there is nothing we can do right now. It’s too soon. In a couple of years after—”

“A couple of years?” Lina repeated. “That’s your plan? To do nothing for a couple of years?”

“We don’t have a choice, Lina. No court will strip her of her rights.”

*  * *

It was ten after seven when Lina arrived at Gilman the following evening. She’d expected to be late, but traffic had been unusually light for a Friday. She was making her way toward the auditorium when she heard a familiar voice calling out her name. She turned to find Nick approaching from behind.

She stopped to wait for him to catch up, smiling in greeting. In dark slack and a tan suede jacket, his hair on the longish side, he looked as handsome as ever.

He returned her smile. “How are you?” They shared a brief hug.

Lina sighed. “You don’t want to know.”

“I wouldn’t have asked, if I didn’t want to know.” He tilted his slightly to the side. “What’s going on?”

It couldn’t have been a coincidence that she’d run into Nick Drayton at this moment. She couldn’t not confide in the child psychologist about what was happening with Liam and Kim. As briefly as possible she explained the happenings of the last week.

“I’m sure you’ve testified in cases of custody,” Lina said. “Don’t you think it’s worth a try?”

“Lina, don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t have a right to cut her out of his life.”

Heat rushed to Lina’s cheeks. “You have no idea what she’s like.”

“Please don’t get upset. You know how highly I think of you. You’re a wonderful mother. No one could say otherwise, but this isn’t about you.”

“How can you say that?” she cried.

“Because it isn’t. Regardless of how difficult it is to accept, regardless of how awful you believe her to be, she is his biological mother and you don’t want to be the person responsible for cutting her out of his life.”

“She doesn’t care about him.”

“If that’s true, he’ll come to that conclusion himself. You can’t come to it for him. You need to let him see her for who she is without your interference, or Phil’s, for that matter.”

“So we should just what? Let her neglect him and hurt him and—”

“No.” He shook his head. “That is not what I’m saying. Obviously if there was abuse, you would protect him.”

“She hasn’t so much as called to check on him for six months. That’s not abuse?”

“No. It’s not. One day that little boy is going to be a man and when that day comes, he’ll decide on his own what he thinks of her. You don’t want to confuse him by putting your thoughts into his head. Just love him Lina, love him, mother him—”

“But not protect him,” Lina interrupted. “If something were to happen to Phil—”

“If something were to happen to Phil, you would go to court and fight for him. That’s not what we are discussing here. You don’t need to fight for him right now, you have him. You are his mother.”

“I’m his mother? How can you say that? As long as she’s in the picture, I have no rights.”

“You want what’s best for Liam, right? I’m telling you as a professional that what’s best for Liam is for his relationship with his biological mother to evolve on its own without your interference. She may not have your capacity for love, but in her own way, I’m sure she loves him.”

“I’m not.”

“I’ll tell you what — In the unlikely event that something happens to Phil, I will do everything in my power to help you keep your boy, okay?”

Tears sprang to Lina’s eyes. “Thank you.”

*  * *

Lina joined Phil in the auditorium, slipping down into the seat beside him.

“Hey.” He met her lips for a brief kiss. When he lifted his head, she could see the concern in his eyes. “How are you?”

“I’m okay.” She took his hand and squeezed it. “But if you die before Liam is out of the house, I’ll never forgive you.”

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473 comments on “After Swimming Naked…
  1. Tracie says:

    Laura I hope a new family is coming to you….I’m in bored bookville……Hope you girls are having a great day….💕

    • Katie says:

      Penelope Douglas has a new one called Credence. No idea if it’s good, but I had planned to read it soon.

      • janet says:

        Katie,
        Holy Cow re P Douglas! Did you start yet? I read every single book she wrote and this is a huge departure from all of them. I did not see this coming at all. I think she’s a phenomenal writer but I couldn’t finish this one. It’s TRIPLE taboo and more of an erotica than romance. Let me know your thoughts if you read it.

        • Katie says:

          I’ll start it tonight. I love sluts!

          What do you think is going on with these authors? Just pushing the envelope? Or are readers so desensitized that the themes have to get crazier and crazier to keep our attention?

          Birthday Girl is one of my favorites, because it’s taboo but not disgusting. Sounds like she went disgusting. I’ll try it though!

          • janet says:

            LOL.

            So, I don’t think Penelope was trying to please or garner attention from readers nor are we so desensitized that we need the shock factor to entertain us. But she totally let her characters be the drivers with this one and in turn completely pushed the envelope. I hated where they took me. PD did something tiny bit similar with the Devil’s Nights and it bothered me but I let it go because it went with her darker theme. With Credence, I did read the ending and the girl ended up with the right guy. But I need to erase the things the heroine did before she ended with the guy. Gawd. I’m still bothered and even though I COULD NOT FINISH, I put 4 hours in to it last night. I hope she is done exploring whatever genre this was and goes back to what she writes best. NA! It’s not like bday girl but I hope you like it.

  2. Tara says:

    Tracie, I read Return to Sender this week, I couldn’t stand the heroine! OMG, put on your big girl panties, move on from your crappy childhood and stop sabotaging your life. Normally, I like Jennifer Peel, but this one? Ugh! And, yes, I’ll probably read the next one in the series! 😂🙄😂

  3. Tara says:

    Admission of Guilt, Roxanne Winkler… finished it in the wee hours of the morning, readable, but with the affair, including sex, on page from his perspective isn’t going to make him all that redeemable. I felt like circumstances held them together until their “reconciled” and the ending is a little too perfect.

    • janet says:

      That was fast Tara! I hear you. I didn’t like the fact that the guy was with the mistress few days before then the next time she tells him of her condition, he is repulsed by her. It was so abrupt. Still, it did get my heart pumping so I thought it was a good enough cheating book. I put Release on hold and now reading a random MC novel. Raunchy. The guy has a wife, club”girl”, and the heroine and all have kids with the hero. It’s Lol

      • Tara says:

        Raunchy MC–title please LOL–that’s hero material 🙂

        It’s a decent cheating story–but the husband, yikes, I think in my Goodreads review I said something about not being redeemable. I liked the wife, but I wasn’t sure he was worth staying with.

        • janet says:

          Sweet Whiskey Dreams by Vera Quinn. I just never remember the titles or authors if I only read one book by them. Please don’t judge me for liking these books. I just need them in my life once in awhile. LOLOL

          Onto another subject- unsolicited protein bar rec. from moi. By Truwomen. They are addicting! By far the best pretein bars I’ve tried and Ive tried A LOT. My favs are Daydreaming About Donuts and Oh Oh Cookie Dough. I’ve been replacing them for breakfast and dinner and I don’t mind that.

          • Tara says:

            Judgment free zone!! The darned thing is KU, like I always say, it’s not costing me anything and it’s going back either way 😛

    • Katie says:

      Your review makes me curious. I like the husband perspective. When I downloaded it, it showed me being at 40% (I’m assuming I DNF), but I honestly don’t remember it at all. I’ll give it a go.

      • Tara says:

        Katie, skim read it. The only on page sex scene is with the OW, the hottest sex he ever had, he might “love” his wife, but the sex was better with the mistress. But, when push comes to shove and he has to tell his wife the OW is having his baby, he’s really sorry and he knows he’s a moral failure, blah, blah, blah. The reader’s belief in he’s redemption would be better without the details of the physical relationship with the OW.

        • janet says:

          Wait, on page sex is only with OW and he said best with OW? I don’t remember that. I remember liking the mistress’s husband. Will reread this weekend. Lemme check out return to sender. I finished MC-Whiskey Dreams. I’m going to check out her second one.

  4. Tracie says:

    Patriots are out….Go Raven’s beat those Titans! I will be all over it for you Maryland Girls!

  5. Katie says:

    Ok Forget Me Not- I can’t finish it but I want to know how it turns out. They reconcile and have a baby?

    I dunno- I’m with Janet on this one. I guess this author didn’t make me believe their marriage was in turmoil (unlike All Your Perfects), so I didn’t really get the cheating. I have 40% left…should I push through?

    • Tracie says:

      No they reconcile and have a 👶. Did you read the part where he talks about regret and what he sees when he looks in the mirror? I know we’ve moved on 😢, but it would have been how Phil felt regarding his affair…I think it would be the same feelings for any man that truly loves their wife and regretted their actions.

    • janet says:

      Hi All, I started Release by Aly Martinez. You know I loove men in prison. LOL

      I heavily skimmed TJReid’s Daisy Six and hated it. I honestly didn’t see the point of that book. Aimless, pointless, and stupid. Did anyone read it? Last time I’m reading Reese W’s book recs. She did this to me with Wild few years ago and I hated that as well. I did learn a lot about hiking gear so there’s that.

      I think whether you like Coleen or not, she’s a fantastic writer. QB Tyler isn’t. Once the heroine said, “am i the first black girl you dated?” How old are you that you are asking a guy this? I was over it. The author goes on and on about her long beautiful hair. I kept thinking that weave/wig is going to fall out if the hero pulls on it. Lastly, why does a couple who are in their 30s talk like they are18 year olds with limited vocabulary?! Omg…it was baaad.

      • janet says:

        Did anyone think it was a lot like an episode of Million Dollar Listing New York?

        • Katie says:

          I checked her out and read After I Do after I read that Daisy Six is being made into a movie- that one doesn’t interest me at all.

          • janet says:

            It’s Admissions of Guilt by Roxanne Winkler. We talked about it on and off for awhile. Horrible grammar but the content is better than qB Tyler.

          • Katie says:

            I remember the mention of this one. Not sure if I read it. It’s on KU, so I’ll check it out. Thanks, J.

      • Tara says:

        Janet, I read the Daisy/six book. I liked it but didn’t love it. One giant train wreck. I did like her shorter work, Evidence of the Affair.

    • Tara says:

      Katie, I think you need to reach the point where you see why their marriage was breaking down. For me the initial cheating made sense, long term not so much.

      Janet, I agree their very immature, which is probably why the cheating works. They were playing at being adults, but weren’t actually adults.

      I also agree that she’s not as good a writer as Colleen Hoover, but other than Verity (which is more a mystery than romance/woman’s fiction), I have not liked one CH book—wasted angst on unlikable characters.

      • Katie says:

        Yes immature. And I felt like the author relied too heavily on the sexual chemistry between them. I should read the whole thing to really judge…I guess I can see after a year or two of infertility, depression l, etc. how cheating wouldn’t be unfathomable. I did believe he was remorseful. I think this author just said more than showed. I felt like I knew the ending without finishing it.
        Anyway.
        Has anyone read any of these…?
        Meet Me Halfway, Amber Smith
        Every Wrong Reason, Rachel Higginson
        The Other Side of Someday, TK Leigh
        Amazon recommended them to me.

        • Tracie says:

          I’m reading the Other Side of Someday now. Just started it Katie.

        • Tara says:

          I’ve read Meet Me Halfway. It’s not memorable, so I can’t give you a synopsis. I like Every Wrong Reason, but the heroine is not all that likable. They’re already separated and he definitely needed to grow up, but she’s got the judgmental bitch thing going on.

          • janet says:

            I dnf Every Wrong Reason. Haven’t heard of the other two.

            Katie, did you read the cheating book that Tracie I read while back? The OW has a baby(Down syndrome) and is married. That was pretty good I thought. Tracie, do you remember the title?

          • Tracie says:

            Hi Girls…Janet I don’t remember that book, with the down syndrome child??? I didn’t like the Other side of someday….It was just about a woman trying to find herself after she settled for a humdrum life. Kind of bored me…Now I did read two by Jennifer Peel I liked. More Trouble in Loveland and Return to Sender…I love angst books that have the terrible ex’s and both H’s in these books are single dads.

          • Katie says:

            I thought that one was boring too. I stopped at 40%. Did she end up with the producer?

          • Tracie says:

            Yea she did…

  6. Katie says:

    Perfectly Adequate was so cute!!

    • janet says:

      I don’t mind being me. Nobody else can do it better. 😭😭😭💕💕

      What did you think of the boss bitch?

      • Katie says:

        I felt bad for her a bit- the undiagnosed mental illness and too little too late, but ultimately I thought she was extremely selfish, and I wasn’t rooting for her. Omg, as I was reading I noticed a lot of similarities in myself to Dorothy. Maybe I’m on the spectrum too?! 😂😂 I loved her though.

      • Katie says:

        I hold women, especially mothers, to a higher standard than men. I know that’s wrong. But I usually hate a cheating wife or woman who leaves as a heroine.

        • Tracie says:

          I agree sister I don’t like cheating h’s….

          • Katie says:

            I find stories where the h is cheating with a married man interesting though. I find that perspective thought-provoking. But a married woman with a child- nope nope nope.

  7. Tracie says:

    Happy 2020 girls! I just read a book by Tiffany Patterson called Jacob’Song. I think 🤔 it’s my first one by her and I liked the book. Katie talk about flawed characters. I also read the book Forget Me Not, by QB Tyler it was decent as well.

    • janet says:

      Happy New Year Tracie! I never heard of this author. I will put it in my tbr pile. Does he have an ex wife/gf?
      I didn’t like QB Tyler at all. The book was more like much ado about nothing😖.

      Try Perfectly Adequate by Jewel E Ann. The hero is more Nick than Phil so may not be alpha enough(for some) but the heroine really stood out. I loved her character.

      • Tracie says:

        Janet he was a tortured soul. Strong h really liked her.

        Katie sorry you were so sick sweetie.

        Will check out the books you girls recommended.

        • janet says:

          Omg Katie! You have walking pneumonia? Both of my kids had that 3 years ago and my son still needs an inhaler occasionally. Horrible! Get better soon.

          Tracie, tortured soul- two magic words in a romance novel. I’m bumping the book up. Reading dawn Martin now. It’s cheating but the wife leaves the husband I think. The writing isn’t that good so I can’t recommend.

          • Tracie says:

            Janet I read the Jewel Ann book and really liked it…

          • Katie says:

            Thanks girls. 7th time with pneumonia. First time was when I was 9/10…it has been about 5 years since the last time. I’ll be fine.

            I’m going to read the Jewel E Ann one. Looks cute!

      • Laura says:

        looks good. I love Jewel E Ann.

        • janet says:

          Reminded me of Kiss Quotient with Nick this time. So Jewels book was better. Lol

          I bought The Wives by Tarryn Fisher for 9.99. It better be good.

      • Tara says:

        I clickity clicked the Tiffany Patterson–it’s KU, I’m willing to check out the tortured hero. I read the QB Tyler and liked it.

        I have Perfectly Adequate on my TBR list, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

        Katie–feel better!!!! Pneumonia is very scary.

    • Katie says:

      Hey girls. Happy New Years! I’m over her fighting off pneumonia. Booooo. But I’m happy at least to have an explanation for why I was so effing tired at Christmas.

      I’ll check out these books. I just read After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Loved it!

  8. Laura says:

    Happy New Year! I hope 2020 is an exciting (in a good way) year for all of us!

  9. Tara says:

    Ladies… wishing everyone a Happy, Healthy and Safe New Year! 🎊🎆🎉🥳

  10. Tracie says:

    Hi girls…OU playing LSU today in the Peach Bowl. Three of our main players got sidelined for smoking dope…the big IGMO’s…..Love you girls…😘

  11. BeeSA says:

    Thanks for the new scene 🙂

    It was boiling hot in KZN, SA on Christmas day, so we had a cold meat and salad day. I also drank almost half a bottle of gin which was fabulous :p

    Hope everyone had an awesome Christmas.

  12. Laura says:

    Good Morning, Ladies — I love you all! Thank you for being part of my life. I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.

    • Tracie says:

      We love you too Laura. Merry Christmas to you and yours….I had to read Chapter 2 of SN last night. Love when he steps out of the shower…I’m having to ween myself Lol

      • Laura says:

        LOL — Tracie, besides me, I think you will miss the Hunters the most. I just reread Chapter 2. I barely remembered it. I’m having to ween myself too.

        • Tracie says:

          I’m thinking about your character Noah the doctor….That was a really good scene too. I’m excited to see where your creative mind is off to. You’re such an excellent writer with a knack of keeping me in a swoon swirl! 😘

    • Katie says:

      Love you more! Merry Christmas everyone.

    • Tracie says:

      Merry Christmas sweet girls….

      • Laura says:

        Merry Christmas, Tracie 😘

      • janet says:

        Merrrry Christmas guys!🎄🥰We celebrated last night because my sister will be traveling and I have to admit I’m glad it’s over. I’m actually sick of eating so much! Getting ready for Xmas service and will be taking it easy today(with a book!!). I wish you all joy, peace, and happiness in 2020!

        • Tracie says:

          I’m cleaning out my garage. We had Christmas Monday since my son was on shift….It’s 72 degrees here…

        • Katie says:

          Merry Christmas girls!
          I’m ready for Christmas to be over too. We have one more family engagement tonight. Next year I want to go somewhere- no gifts, no cleaning, maybe even no eating…just family time. This Christmas has been my busiest ever- too much. I’m tired, full, irritable. I hate feeling that way- we are so blessed. But, I’m human, and I’m over it.
          Anyway- I hope everyone has a great day.

          Tracie- I’m on my 4th Colleen Hoover- Ugly Love. This will me by last for awhile though- she packs a lot of tragedy into her stories. Tell me if you find something- I’ll buddy read with you! 😘😘 to all of you.

          • Tracie says:

            Will do Katie…This right here is why we have to stay in touch….I need reading guidance, life lesson advice and just good old chit chat. We may have retired the Hunters but there are more families for us to creep on and analyze. Laura keep us entertained sweet girl and we’ll try to do the same for you. Can’t wait to see what 2020 has for us all!

          • janet says:

            I’m over it too Katie. My sister and I planned to be away this Xmas but at the last min my son refused when I was purchasing tickets. He wouldn’t budge so I punished him by signing them up for boot camp. Waaaahh. My husbands like I took 2 weeks off for nothing?

            I just started Mia Knight. Supposed to be a cruel hero. I’ll let you know.

    • Tara says:

      Merry Christmas, Ladies! I hope everyone survived their merriment!

  13. Laura says:

    As much as it pains me to say it, I think the Hunter story is done for now. There is nothing else to write. Lina will slowly open her arms to Liam’s grandparents, because that’s the type of person she is. Logan will be going away to college, so he won’t be around as much. If Lina isn’t upset about Liam’s grandparents, Logan won’t be either.

    As far as Liam is concerned, I think Kim will add a spice to his life. He has his secure home base, but he will be curious about his biological mother. I’m sure a few trips to New York City will be in his teenage future — Kim is so different than Lina, there would be no need for comparison. She’ll be like an aunt to him — a sophisticated, cosmopolitan aunt. I can see her letting him have alcohol before he’s legal and treating him more like an adult than his parents — that would be appealing to him.

    Kim will take credit for the awesome person he is. He’ll be like a trophy to her. He’ll be smart and handsome and that will stroke her already inflated ego.

    Of course, it will hurt Lina when Liam talks about Kim, but being the selfless person, she is, she won’t say anything. And ultimately, Lina will be the mother he loves and cherishes.

    • Tracie says:

      Laura we had a good run with the Hunters. Love that their unconditional love held strong and the way you presented them to us and told their story was marvelous. Hope you continue to write and have a new adventure for us in your sights.

      • Laura says:

        Tracie — I think letting the Hunters go is the only way to unlock a new story/family for me. I’d love to write Liam’s story, but he’s still a toddler in my mind and I don’t want to make him grow up too soon. Yes, I will continue to write. I can feel a new one coming 😊

      • Laura says:

        I am considering writing the beginning of their story — the teenage Phil and Lina. I think it would make everyone understand why Lina would forgive him.

        • janet says:

          You did have a wonderful run with this couple! I got a glimpse of Nick and he is in a good place as well. Closing here is bittersweet and feels right. We had a great 2 years with this family. 🙏 Gracias Laura!

    • Tara says:

      Its a good spot to close and I’m looking forward to what comes next!

      • Tracie says:

        Laura would you mind starting a new thread so we can keep in touch and discuss books we are reading and what you have coming next…tempting us with scenes from different stories you are writing? I just don’t want to give you girls up!

        • Laura says:

          The thought of losing you girls makes me very sad. I hope everyone continues to talk. I’ll start a new conversation in the next couple of days. I want to give everyone a chance to read this one

          • Tracie says:

            Don’t be sad sweet lady. We will continue to talk and we promised Jordan at this time last year that we would continue to support you and get you to finish the 5 books you had started. As you have said many time “A promise is a promise.”

    • Katie says:

      This was a great closing scene!
      Nick will always be my favorite not hot dancing hero to hate.
      I hope everyone sticks around. I really love sharing mediocre books with you all and trying to convince everyone they’re better than they are. And, Laura, that means you need to keep writing, just to save us all from the mediocrity out there.

      • Tracie says:

        Katie I get my good books from you girls here on this blog. love discussing them with you girls and sharing our lives. You girls are the best virtual friends anyone could ask for…..plus now that I’m retired I’m sure I’ll have numerous stories to share now that I have more time on my hands. My ass is always in trouble LOL….I have already found insight to why things aren’t done around here and plan on implementing corrective actions. When I pointed this out to my husband, he leaned back in the dining room chair and said…”Can you just go ahead and layout for me how your retirement is going to effect my life.” My reply “Piddle is no longer in your vocabulary.” LoL!

  14. Laura says:

    New Scene has been posted!

    • Tracie says:

      Janet is going to be so excited that Nick made an appearance. Awesome Laura. Have you decided how you are going to introduce Kim’s parents? Poor Phil, I know his heart is breaking for Lina.

    • Janet says:

      Gawd!!!!!! Nick saved the day again. He’s like a superhero. LOL. How come Kathy wasn’t with him at Gilman? Was she home with 24/7 morning sickness??! 😃😋😉 Thank you Laura. I think Lina is accepting her reality and all is well for now in the Hunter household.

      • Tara says:

        Interesting impromptu counseling session. How would Phil feel about Lina hearing and accepting advice from Nick? No matter how much she loves Liam and considers herself “mommy”, she’s his step-mother, Nick gave her good advice.

        • janet says:

          Nick is as wise as Yoda, the Jedi master. 😂🥰. Omg, longish hair with suede jacket. He is so fine! Bahaha

          • Tara says:

            OMG, Janet, you’re hysterical!!

            Laura, I never doubted Lina will be and is Liam’s mom. Their relationship is very organic and will grow. She got herself all worked up wanting Kim completely gone, Kim would never let that happen.

          • Laura says:

            Tara — I agree. Kim signing over rights would be completely out of character. Of course, Phil and Lina wanted her out of the picture, but is that really what’s best for Liam — Feeling like his birth mother had no desire to know him. I think any love she can provide makes Liam a more secure man.

        • Laura says:

          In Liam’s eyes Lina will be his mother — just like any mother who adopts a child as a baby. The law may not recognize her as his mother, but he will. His situation is unique. Kim will be there as well, fluttering in and out of the picture. I’m sure that relationship will be complicated and Liam will always feel a bit different than his siblings, but I have no doubt he will love Lina as much as Logan does.

      • Laura says:

        Janet — I thought about including Kathy, but that would have made a conversation with Lina difficult. I didn’t want him leaving Kathy alone so he could talk to Lina — that would send the wrong message – ie he’s still pinging away for her. Of course, he isn’t pining away for Lina. He will always have a fondness for her, but his life and heart are with Kathy now. And regardless of what Katie thinks, Nick is pretty hot.

        • janet says:

          I understand. I think Lina needed to hear it from someone other than Phil or family member that it’ll be Ok. Nick can be a ballerina and he’ll still be hot to me.

          • Tracie says:

            Laura was Phil feeling that he had failed Lina again by not getting Kim to sign over her rights? I can still feel his anguish in the bedroom scene. Phil strikes me as the type that would of watched Lina, while she watched Liam sleep.

          • Laura says:

            You know Phil, Tracie. He likes to be in control and he wants to protect his family. Unfortunately, Kim is part of his son’s family. It’s an impossible situation for him. It does tear him up, knowing Lina is hurt, but there is nothing he can do. Like Lina, he is going to accept it.

          • Laura says:

            Yep. Lina values Nicks advice and counsel. Phil would hate that she talked to him, but ultimately Nick’s advice helps the family.

          • janet says:

            Tracie, I read it completely different. I didn’t get anguish at all. I got fed up Phil, resigned Phil, annoyed Phil and little of remaining guilt Phil. But the scene wasn’t that heavy for me. I hope Phil is scared that Lina will follow through with she says at the end. Lol. It was a bit of uplifting, let’s leave it here for now, scene to me.

          • Laura says:

            Janet — yes, exactly. This is over for now. There is nothing they can do.

          • janet says:

            Ohh, you are talking about the scotch scene. Ok. We associate Phil’s splash of scotch with anguish. You are right. He felt bad.

          • Tara says:

            1. I agree Lina needed to hear this from someone else, I like that it came from Nick, a weird sense of closure.

            2. I think Lina and Phil needed a bit of a reality check. They want Kim not to exist, it makes it easier for them to move forward. Moving forward is important but this is their reality, Kim exists and when she wants attention, won’t be ignored.

            3. Liam needs some sort of connection with his birth mother, no one would want him to feel unlovable due to some sort of abandonment issues.

            4. Male ballet dancers can be very hot 😜😂🙄

    • M.Cherish says:

      Nick scene with Lina was powerful. He is right, no matter how unfair it is that Lina is a mother to Liam but have no legal right. Ultimately Liam has to see Kim for what she truly is. Thank you!

      • Tracie says:

        I agree..Lina has to let go and just love him like Nick said. Unfortunately, Lina has absolutely no control or rights. I can’t imagine Phil’s inner turmoil and I don’t know how to put into words the guilt I know he is feelings. Maybe what I’m trying to say is he has no control in protecting Lina from a situation he put her in to begin with. His love for her, especially now has to be almost desperate in trying to ensure she has no worries or heartache….I don’t know if that makes since or not!

        • M.Cherish says:

          Tracie That definitely make sense to me. It’s heartbreaking to read it but this is something that has to happen. Phil and Lina will get through this and grow even stronger. But man Kim gets on my nerves.

          • Tracie says:

            There is one sentence that sticks out in my mind where Kim said to Phil “You are trying to erase me from your life.” He is and it would be easy to just raise Liam with Lina and move on, but Kim does like the power way to much. She can’t stand Lina. Liam will be the equalizer some day. Laura even though Phil and Logan are good again, does he have sense how Logan worries and watches Lina’s moods?

    • Holley says:

      Thank you for the new scene Laura. I love the way it ended too. Lina’s capacity for love and forgiveness is just amazing. She loves Liam so deeply and Logan so loves his mom. He is still protective of Lina. Phil is still dealing with his guilt for what Lina is going through. That scene in their bedroom where he is drinking scotch had guilt written all over it. Nick is still a good friend to her and I am so glad. Love the Hunters.

  15. Tracie says:

    Katie I’m reading regretting you. If circumstances were different, there would be hell to pay. I hope you know what I mean. I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t read it.

    • Katie says:

      I knowww! Can you imagine?! Betrayal to the 100th degree. Stick in there!
      I just read It Ends With Us by CH. Another winner for me. I like her majorly flawed characters.

      • Tracie says:

        I finished Regretting You…I wanted to know what was in the letters. I found myself channeling Janet, when, how why, etc….How long do you think? I think a very long time. I feel Morgan was his comfy place and Jenny was his fantasy experience fun girl! But what they did to Jonah was horrible….

        • Katie says:

          Of course I wanted to know too, but I understood why she didn’t read them (for the plot). I don’t think the douche ever intended to leave Morgan…I’m thinking the affair started when they were teenagers (both couples got it wrong). I loved Jonah. What they did, and did to Jonah, is unforgiveable. Karma got them back though. I loved the whole prom thing at the end too.

  16. Laura says:

    Hi Girls!

    Sorry for doing this, but it is going to be tomorrow before I’m done. I turned on the computer this morning and I lost everything I’d written since the last scene 😢. I’ve rewritten most of it, but the scene isn’t done. Tomorrow — promise 😊

    • Tracie says:

      I just typed a comment but had an error in my email ugh! Just delete it Laura….Can’t wait until tomorrow then…..Hate that your computer malfunctioned though. Have a good evening doll.

  17. Terry says:

    Hi everyone! It’s always so great to see all the comments and NEW SCENES! Thank you, Laura. Getting ready for a hip replacement the day after
    Christmas! Have read all your recommendations, and am truly grateful. Any recommendations you can give me for during recovery would be great. So glad to hear everyone is doing well.Have a great holiday Branchfollowers!

  18. Laura says:

    New scene Saturday.

  19. Katie says:

    Tracie- did you like Regretting You? I just read All Your Perfects.
    Geez, she sure knows how to obliterate your heart and put it back together. I really liked Graham- they were having a really hard time…felt bad for both of them…I hardly considered what he did an affair, but I understood his explanation. I like Colleen Hoover’s glass half-full messages and forgiveness themes. Are any of her other ones any good?

    • janet says:

      Tracie, 😭😭😭💗💗💗💗😀😀😀🎁🎁.

      Enjoy your vacation in Tx! Your hip is good as new.

      Katie, I liked Hoover’s Maybe and Slammed series. Not sure I can re read them but she’s easy to get into. Everybody’s so damaged and tortured so it can get old but good writing. I think Deighj and Tara read her. Another writer you may like is M Robinson. I like her earlier works.

      • Tracie says:

        Janet I didn’t make it to Texas we had so much work to do and our daughter needed us to babysit. But I did tell my little Hailee to start making backup plans, I wanted to travel a bit. 🤗

      • Tara says:

        Janet–I hate to admit, I’m not a Coleen Hoover fan. I don’t read YA and her adult novels are a little OTT with the damaged and tortured souls–everyone overthinking their lives, creates some really self absorbed characters. That might not be the case in all her books but in the ones I’ve read, it’s too much.

    • Tracie says:

      I have it downloaded Katie, but haven’t read yet. Plan on it this weekend. Graham was a great guy. Quinn got so far in her head she lost sight of what was important…

    • Tara says:

      Ugh, can I just say I really disliked Quinn, I know she had depression etc… but she was so clueless.

      Tracie–I just realized your b’day is 12/17. It’s also my mom and my MIL’s birthdays!! Good day 😀

      • Katie says:

        Usually I think people feel sorry for themselves too much. So, I definitely see not liking Quinn. For whatever reason I really felt for her. I haven’t experienced infertility, but I can imagine feeling like she did. Feeling like you’re holding your husband back from fatherhood. Feeling like sex is just a means to an end. In the 3 months it took us to get pregnant with H I definitely got mad at my husband for having to work on ovulating days, and I might as well have whipped him because we were quite simply a bull and bull-rider that three months. 😂😂 It was full baby-making craziness. Not romantic. Anyway, as usual TMI. So, I liked Quinn, but I get it, and Graham was a saint- we can all agree. 👌

        • Tara says:

          It took me 3 years to conceive, so I sympathize with anyone with fertility issues. Quinn’s self absorption was intolerable for me. We all come at it from a different perspective.

  20. Laura says:

    Happy Birthday Tracie!
    I may be a day off, but I hope you had a wonderful day!
    I’ll have your next scene up sometime Saturday 😘

  21. Katie says:

    Janet- did you or your son ever read that novel by Andre acimen? The sequel, Find Me, looks really good, but I guess that means I’d have to read the first one.

    • janet says:

      Hi Katie, my daughter wanted to read it but I didn’t let her because of the sexual content. However, my cousin is a huge fan of the book and the movie and she HATED the sequel. Like detest hate. She said it’s mostly about Elio’s father (timothee C’s character) going through midlife crisis and having an affair with a younger woman and finding his soulmate at age 60 or whatever. But not much about Elio and Oliver. Hmmm, maybe we should read it. Lol

      I finished Karina Halle’s The Younger Man. It was really good.

      • Katie says:

        Ooh! I’m reading Regretting You by Colleen Hoover. I think it’s YA, but it hooked me, so I’m committed.

        • Katie says:

          Ok this CH one was great. I stayed up until 3am finishing it, even shed a few tears…I haven’t done that in a very long time.

          • Tracie says:

            I will be downloading that one today…You, Janet and Laura are usually spot on with books I will and will not like…Rainy and cold here today….Need me some sunshine!

          • Katie says:

            It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming.

            I’m going to read Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane now. Anyone read it?

          • janet says:

            Can’t wait to read that one. I have a feeling it’s not going to be on KU for long so I think DL now even if you don’t get to it right away. I forget the title but the one she wrote just before this dealt with cheating. Good!

            I have Ask Again in hardcover. My daughter loved it. Me, it was Ok. it has a bit of everything but also depressing. Not really a romance, more of a journey between families.

            What’s on everyone’s Xmas list? I’m beeeeehiiindddd and stuff my kids want are out of stock.

            Tracie, it’s your birthday today?!

          • Katie says:

            J, All Your Perfects? I haven’t read that one yet. I should. I really loved Regretting You. Seriously, you’d think I like to cry or something.

            I wanted a rumba and new sunglasses for Christmas. All of my gifts for others have been bought for a few weeks now. 👌

          • janet says:

            Yes that’s the one. I think Tracie and Tara read it already. I thought the husband’s explanation of why he did what he did was good. I remember quoting it here but that was before Laura finished SN.

            I don’t have anything on my list other than marine collagen for hair and skin!😁

          • Katie says:

            Haha! I wanted an exact replacement of some ray ban aviators I already have. I always tell my husband I don’t want anything- I get everything I want all the time. But he doesn’t listen. My H wanted a Barbie dream house. I told her Santa might comply if she donates 5 toys, and she did! What is sold out?

          • janet says:

            Katie, remember the Nothing Bundt Lemon cake? I got one today. OMG. Totally worth the rash I got. You all need to get some in your area. Best cream cheese frosting ever.

            New AirPods are sold out. They restock them couple times a week so I will go back this week. I remember those doll houses. She will love it. I got my daughter a BTS V Barbie too this year. Bahaha.

          • Katie says:

            I definitely had to look up that doll. Awesome! 😂
            Omg nothing bundt cakes. Best evaaaaa. We have them down here. I ran out of eggs when I made a box cake recently. I substituted plain, whole milk yogurt. The texture came out like the NBC. Try it!

            AirPods aren’t on amazon? Can’t you buy organ replacements on amazon now… It seems like nothing ever sells out anymore.

          • Tracie says:

            Close Janet it was yesterday. Thank you girls for remembering. Today is a year since I had my hip replacement though.

  22. Tracie says:

    Laura you watching those Ravens tonight? Miss talking to you girls.. I’m really thinking I’m going to like this retirement gig!

  23. BeeSA says:

    When they switch your power / electricity off for 2 hours. Each area falls under different grid. Everything switches off from traffic robots, electric fence, malls etc

    Frustrating and already had to throw food out. Sometimes there’s power failure when the power does come back on. Last week i was off for 5 hours straight.

    Best is when the power comes back on at 2am and everyone’s house alarms goes off then all the dogs in the neighborhood start howling.

  24. Tracie says:

    It will be hard on Lina to resign herself. Only time will ease her fears and Phil will hate seeing Lina struggle, especially knowing she is doing all the work.

  25. BeeSA says:

    Hello 🙂

    Loved the new scene. Glad to see Phil barely entertained her and cut her short when she tried to moan about Lina.

    Kim thinks Liam clever because they his birth parents! Grrr. Kim may be clever but she’s immature and petty.

    Although looks like Kim no longer holding onto false hope with Phil. She didn’t even show a slight interest in him after not seeing him in months.

    Hope everyone well. Slowly counting down the days till my leave starts. End of the year school year in SA – kids on a 6 weeks holiday. Majority of SA take leave, unless you work in retail or holiday industry.

    We’ve been loadshedding in SA and i swear i have the worst loadshedding time. Its either 6pm to 8pm or 8pm to 10pm at night.

    Hope all is well with everyone.

  26. Tracie says:

    Hi girls, Katie I need an angst cheating book. What are you girls reading? I rely on you girls that keep up with goodreads! I’m about to work myself out of something to do. I feel like I’m on vacation…The whole I’m free thing hasn’t kicked in yet.

    Laura how is Lina taking the news that Phil is breaking?

  27. Tracie says:

    Good Morning Girls, I was wondering after Kim’s statement about living with her when Liams a teenager and knowing Phil’s parenting style, do you think Liam would ever play Kim and Phil against each other or would Phil be more flexible with Liam because he had an alternate living arrangement if he wanted it? I think Logan would be the voice of reason with Liam when he’s a teenager. Logan being so much older and their bond being strong.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Tracie — no way will Phil be easier on Liam as a teenager. It’s just not in him. If Liam played the “I want to live with Kim card”, Phil would call his bluff.

  28. Aida says:

    What do you think about how Kim treats Liam? I hate how she only used two fingers and spread the others to take the grape from Liam. Like she is disgusted by him. Kids are messy, Kim. It won’t kill you to touch a bit of his saliva. Offering his food is how Liam shows that he likes you and wants to be close to you. My heart goes out for him. Thank God he’s little and doesn’t really realize how much Kim doesn’t want him.

      • Tracie says:

        I thought when I read that part, that even Logan took the watermelon from Liam. Kim acted like that grape needed to go in a red hazmat bag….

        Laura after reading your comment on the two year limit for abandonment, Lina and Phil are out of luck and the only one that will eventually put Kim in her place is Liam.

        Do you girls think that Lina ever compares herself to Liam, in that her dad abandoned her too? I also wonder if Lina has in the back of her mind, we had to take Drew back, will Liam have to take Kim back. Circumstances are a little different since Alice married him again and we know Phil wouldn’t even think about touching Kim….It was just a thought.

        • Katie says:

          I never got the feeling Lina felt abandoned- more like just an acceptance that her dad was who he was-selfish. If Lina is anything like Alice, she will pass on the same thought process to Liam, I think. What do you think?

          Based on the situation I’m familiar with, our country is 100% for birth mother rights. My (step) nephew-in-law has been raised by his grandparents for 10 years now. He sees his mom ranging from every few months to every few years. Even after 10 years, if she could pass a drug test, show permanent residence, and hold a job, she could get her son back, regardless of the damage that has been done or that he would be taken from the home he knows. Very very sad. Kim could get Liam back- she’s not that bad of a mother in the law’s eyes.

          • Tracie says:

            It is sad Katie…Children need routine and loads of love. My son still has issues from his mom tossing him out and never looking back. Breaks my heart. I remind him that she is the one with the problem not him, so it’s not his burden to carry, but hers..I just love him through it.

            Laura where is Phil? Is he in the car on his way home talking to Lina or comforting her in a steamy situation😜

          • janet says:

            I agree with Katie 100%. Kim is also paying half for Liam’s expenses. She will have to give him up willingly.

          • Laura says:

            At the end of SN Kim said she’d give Phil custody if he waived child support, so Kim isn’t paying any expenses. It’s irrelevant to the custody issue — she still has rights.

          • Laura says:

            Tracie — We are back with Lina. Phil is on his way home.

          • Tara says:

            Comforting her in a steamy situation or sidetracking her away from the reality of Kim never willingly giving up custody?

            My question… legally where do the go, or do they go? It seems to me, let sleeping dogs lie. She’s not even saying she’ll want him as a teenager, she’s simply pointing out he might prefer that. It doesn’t appear she actually wants to be a parent, she wants them to remember, Lina isn’t his birth mother.

            So, is naming one of their other children Liam’s guardian if something happens to Phil a possibility?

          • janet says:

            Hi T, I also wonder the same thing. Who will be Liam’s guardian if something happens to Phil and Kim? Of course nothing will happen to Phil but when will they prepare a will for Liam? Is it too fast forward? I see why Laura wanted to explore Liams story now(even though Logan is still my fav). It’s bc Kim is here to stay and mess with Liams head. I would love to read about her in the trilogy Laura!! 👍😉😋

  29. Katie says:

    Hi,

    I agree with Janet that parents don’t fully acknowledge their kids’ shortcomings. I’m sure Kim’s parents think Phil is a real chump and somehow duped their daughter, at least initially. No one wants to admit if they raised a slutty, conniving, home-wrecking narcissist. Just saying.

    Tracie, I’m so happy for you!! I think it’s hard sometimes to go from labor for pay to retirement, (not that I know). I imagine it’s kind of like when I stopped working to stay home with H- that feeling like my “unpaid” efforts at home or volunteering were somehow less than income-producing work. And just all of the sudden down-time is an adjustment.
    My mom is a year or two from retiring. She has been in a high-stress management role for too long. She’s 65 next year.
    Honestly, I’m not sure all of her synapses are firing anymore (she agrees, I’m not being mean!). She can’t wait!
    She always talks about getting a part-time job teaching sewing lessons after she retires. She went to college for it actually (design/pattern-making, seamstressing). She’ll finally have time for it again.

    J, I found 1100 thread count sheets for $25 and a $600 Roomba for $299. Woot woot. All of that savings will be going toward kitchen repairs from our dishwasher that apparently has been leaking for weeks and caused water damage to the drywall and cabinetry. Woohoo!

    • janet says:

      If we lived closer I would love to take lessons from your mom! She should definitely do that. One of my aunts has a degree in Home Ec from Ohio State and Parsons. We used to make fun of her as kids because of her major but she has SKILLS. I’m certainly not laughing now since I have none.

      Score on those sheets. Where? I hate roombas. It destroyed my furniture. Lots of dings. Hopefully it’s improved since my last one.

      I have the fake tree up. It’s beautiful. Lol.

      Hi Bee and Hinata! I hope you guys had a chance to read the new scenes.

      • Katie says:

        Kohl’s for the sheets. Killer deal.

        Omg my parents have so many skills. They could build a house and make all of the furniture and linens with their combined skills. My dad owned a kitchen/bathroom remodeling business and made wood furniture as a hobby. Before that he was a draftsman. Before my mom’s life was taken over by work, she made all of the curtains, duvets, etc. etc. for our house that I grew up in. I have some skills, and I certainly have vision, but really I’m over-educated with only a few useful skills. Isn’t that the epidemic with people now?

        What a bummer on the roomba! I actually like dings on my furniture. And I hate polished furniture by the way. H got rainbow sharpies all over our heirloom dining table, and I think it looks great! I’m getting ready to let her paint a stool for me. I want it to look like it’s super old, with paint splatter all over. I figured I’ll just put some tarps down and she can go after it.

        Anyway, I’m rambling and putting off laundry. 😘

        • janet says:

          Omg. Are you sure you grew up in OC?! I mean..

          Did you say you were in marketing before? Also I went to Phil bbq in SD couple weeks back. Have you been there? I thought about you guys. Thought it was overrated. Little like your Phil. Bahaha.

          • Katie says:

            Phil’s bbq is just ok. I agree.

            Yes, I grew up in OC, but I’m a free spirit, old soul. My parents are the same. My dad is hilarious, totally out there. My mom is the sweetest lady ever.
            They live on a nice horse property (no horses, lol) down here, and of course Hubs and I are down here also. Sometimes I don’t think I fit in where we are either, in our little box by the sea, but it’s a much better fit than OC. We talk often about moving to Idaho or Montana and living the rest of our days like the rednecks we are. But we like the ocean too much.

            Sometimes I’ll catch myself thinking, “Wow, Phil cheated and got the chick pregnant. What a fucker.” I kind of forget I hate him because I like him. 🤷🏼‍♀️

            How are you doing? You said you were juggling a lot, are things settling down?

          • Katie says:

            I meant to add- my dad lives on his nice, big lot, and tells me often how much he “likes not having to talk to or see anyone.” We all need to move, clearly. Housing prices are up here too! 😂

          • Katie says:

            Sorry, I get going on my stupid stories and don’t answer the questions. I didn’t work in marketing. I was a field researcher for an environmental consulting company. When the recession hit, I also started working in accounting there, so I got my MBA (started while I was working, then finished when H was a baby). I’d like to go into marketing.

      • Laura says:

        Janet – the vacuum scraped up all my furniture too! So annoying!

    • Laura says:

      I don’t think Kim would ever get Liam back, even if it went to court. Fathers have equal rights. My brother won full custody of his kids. She would definitely be granted visitation.

  30. Miri says:

    Hi ladies! I’ve been out of the loop for a bit but I hope everyone is doing amazing!! I’ve miised you all!!

    Laura thank you so much for these latest scenes, omg they are so frikken gooood! But now I have so many questions!!!

    Ok, is this going to become a regular thing, Kim visiting Liam? Partly because she’d like to see him and partly because she knows Phil and Lina don’t like it?

    She’s working hard to make partner, but once that happens (if it happens), will she decide she wants Liam to spend time with her in NYC? Or maybe have him over the summers or holidays and such (that would devastate Lina, particularly if Liam spends Christmas with Kim)…again, partly because she wants to see Liam but also to irk the Hunters…

    In the last scene, Kim tells Liam she’s his mommy…as a guileless child, will Liam ever innocently mention his other “mommy” that lives in NYC, which would totally hurt Lina?

    Will Kim ever grow enough to be able to appreceiate all that Lina does for Liam, and maybe give her some parental rights?

    These scenes have opened up a whole pandora’s box of issues for the Hunters to deal with!! Thank you Laura!!

    • Miri says:

      Ok, I’m starting to read through the comments, and Laura you mention that Kim will never give away parental rights…

      • Tracie says:

        Hi Miri missed you doll. Did you also catch where Kim said “You’ve raised three other babies.” Did she not realize at the point where his other kids were babies he was also trying to make partner so it was Lina that had the load of raising those babies…It was kind of like she made Phil the wet nurse at that point LOL. Also, how she made reference to how smart Liam was because of his parents. I bet it would blow Kim’s mind if she knew Linas dad had over 150 IQ…Kim’s the one that’s unbelievable!

        • Miri says:

          Hi Tracie, missed you too! How are things? Have you officially retired yet? I remember that was coming up soon for you 🙂

          Kim got so lucky with lina…if Lina hadn’t agreed to take Liam full time, Kim would have had to take him to NYC with her, which she wasn’t keen on…I know she won’t admit that to Phil (about Lina), but she should at least admit it to herslef

          • Tracie says:

            Miri today is my first day of leave I have to take, prior to retirement. Yesterday was my last official day at work. I go back on the 18th for my retirement ceremony, then I’m done. It has been a great day today, I even had a tear or two. I’m not going to miss the responsibility, but I am going to miss my team. You learn real quick as a manager that there is no “I” in leader. They are a great group of people and I care for them and will miss them much.😢

            Kim will never realize how good Lina is, nor admit it even to herself. I’m anxious to see the dynamics between Lina nd Kim’s parents…That will be interesting…Kim’s mom was put out with Phil on having an affair. Lina might be there super hero. I wonder if Kim’s dad would ever say after meeting Lina, how could you have cheated on such a lovely lady Phil? Laura what would Phil do? I know Tom insinuated it, but actually being confronted with someone saying it….wowza

          • Miri says:

            Oh Tracie, you’ll still be able to visit them and keep in touch with them, and also now you’ll have all the time in the world to travel :)..but yes I’m sure the first little while will be an adjustment

            I’m sure Kim’s parents know exactly who she is, and are probably secretly relieved that Lina is caring for Liam and not Kim. They will probably love Lina more than they do Phil lol

          • Laura says:

            Congratulations, Tracie! I’m sure it will be an adjustment but it’s nice to be free!

            I don’t think Kim’s parents would ever ask Phil how he could cheat on Lina — very few people would have the guts to voice that — I’m sure they’ll wonder.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Miri! Nice to hear from you!

      In the epilogue from SN, we learn that Kim has only seen Liam twice since she left town — this means only one more time between the scene I just wrote and his kindergarten graduation. No, Kim will never grow enough to thank Lina for anything — remember when Lina called her a whore in WPF? I don’t think Kim will ever forget that comment.

      • Tracie says:

        Or the slap to the face in front of 200 people.

      • Aida says:

        Can they claim abandonment at some point? After 1 year of Kim not visiting Liam, they could, right?

        • Laura says:

          They could, but the courts favor biological parents in this country. In Maryland you can seek abandonment after two years, but you have to prove neglect. If Kim had a compelling reason, she’d most likely win in court and then what? She’d probably know that she had to spend more time with him. It would be very risky for Phil to take her to court. Plus, Kim knows the law. She won’t go over two years without a visit.

    • janet says:

      Hi Miri! I can see Liam calling Kim Mommy and Lina Mama. He’s little so he can’t call Kim Ms or Kim. Maybe when he’s an adult he will call her Kim.

      Tracie, you can sleep in till 5am now! That alone is worth the retirement!

      Laura, you know I loved that wedding scene! Chapter 15. Do you think Kim’s parents know the true Kim? I feel like parents are oblivious to their kids’ “shortcomings” and they lay the blame on Phil’s feet.

      K, even though I agree with Tracie, I totally get your BF tradition with your mom! Did you find anything good? I have to return most of my BF online stuff. Cyber Monday is way cheaper.

      • Laura says:

        Janet,

        No, I don’t think Kim’s parents know the true Kim. I’m sure they don’t think very highly of Phil, at least initially. Over the years, I’m sure they will warm up to him. He will have to make an effort too. I’m sure initially it will be more Lina.

        • Tracie says:

          Phil will be very protective with Lina when she firsts meets Kim’s parents. I think he will be very hands on, watch all eye contact and listen intently to every word. They will like Lina.

  31. Tracie says:

    Laura I’m watching Alpine skiing and was wondering if the Hunters would ever go on a family ski trip? It has been 2.5 years since the Steamboat incident and undoubtedly they loved to ski, so I was wondering if Phil and Lina might avoid family ski trips like the plague. Especially Phil wondering if it would upset Lina.

  32. Katie says:

    Hi friends, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! My husband was home- an unexpected occurrence on big holidays. And my SIL did the hosting. So, it was a wonderful, relaxing time around here. My mom and I (and H) went Black Friday shopping. We’ve been doing the BF thing for 30 years…not sure why anymore…but it’s always nice to spend time with my mama.
    Thanks for the scene, Laura. I’m thankful that Kim isn’t a real person in my life. 🙏🙏
    😘😘 to you all.

    • Tracie says:

      Katie I don’t know how you do BF! I’d rather run around my house naked singing Yankee Doodle Dandy, than fight the BF crazy!

  33. Tracie says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Girls….I’m grateful to have such strong, talented and sweet ladies in my life….Enjoy your families today!

    • janet says:

      Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃🍁🍽. I’m thankful for the spirited and tenacious Ladies on the blog. Have a great weekend!

      • Laura says:

        I’m thankful to all of you as well.
        My thoughts on Kim. I didn’t know where that scene was going when I started it, but she channeled through me loud and clear. She’s done obsessing about Phil, so she doesn’t filter what she says to him. This is the real Kim we are witnessing. Janet is right, she’d take him back in a second, but we all know that isn’t going to happen.
        She sees Liam as a possession, something she created. She isn’t thinking of Liam separate from her. She only thinks of him as he relates to her because she is narcissistic. She would never give her rights away. Like Janet said, she is proud of Liam. She doesn’t see anything wrong with letting Phil raise him because that’s convenient for her.

        • Tracie says:

          Now we have to see what Lina is going to say through you and how Phil is going to tell her. I feel this will be almost as hard for him as telling her he had an affair. I may be wrong but I feel that Phil will internalize this as more hurt he has to inflict on Lina as result of his actions. Her parents still have to be introduced and we are coming up on the holidays…Megan will be home…Lol

        • M.Cherish says:

          Laura! Your books are amazing, I can’t wait for the next one. As for Kim, it’s unfortunate that she thinks of Liam as a possession and being okay with Phil raising him which technically Lina is also raising him. Such a narcissistic person to not recognize Lina as a real true mother. Logically I would hope that Phil and Lina would fight for Her to obtain rights to Liam. It goes back to what happen if something does happen to Phil down the road, Kim would rip Liam from his family and all he knows. Laura your mind works wonder and keep being awesome with your writing. Looking for more books from you.

          • Tracie says:

            Liam will come into his own as he gets older and will have the same realization as Phil that Kim lives in a fantasy world. Lina will be his mother.

        • Clare says:

          Can’t wait to see how Lina will react to this and what it will mean for Phil and Lina and family <3

  34. Laura says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! I just published the new scene at the end of the others — Kim — ugh.

    • M.Cherish says:

      Wow Kim is sooo selfish! I wish Lina can confront her. Heck I wish Lina was there to show Kim that Liam sees her as Mommy not Kim. Omg please make another book about the Hunters.

    • janet says:

      Happy Thanksgiving peeps!

      Kim is funny. ‘Of course he’s smart. We are his parents.’ That made me LOL and reminded me of the Phil jr remark in SN. She wasn’t hateful here. Selfish and shrewd for sure but not evil.

      I want to ask Kim, have you tried sunflower spread? It beats almond butter biaatch.

      Thank you for the scene Laura!!

    • Tara says:

      Happy Thanksgiving, 🦃🍽🍁Ladies!

      Kim maybe selfish, but she’s smart. Laura, thanks for the scene.

    • Tracie says:

      Happy Thanksgiving from the International Space Station, because that’s where I ended up after I launched from reading that scene…Kim since you aren’t slathering his bread with nothing but BS…shut the hell up you ass munch! J-Girl do you think she was insinuating Lina wasn’t smart? Also, I’m not Lina Phil, you can’t manipulate me…does Kim think Lina is a terrified house cat that feels lucky to get a little nip every once in awhile… Kim let Phil know she would NOT be erased from his life…I bet Phil says nothing to Lina in regards to her temporary comment….What’s he going to say to Lina, what are his thoughts…Oh my….

      • Tracie says:

        Laura I’m absolutely loving the scene by scene and the cliffhangers with each one…So Fun….Thank you so much for writing them. Hi Jordan! Hope all is well with you doll! Scene was awesome…Kim is still Janet’s perfect villain….

      • janet says:

        Hi Tracie. We know Kim always dismissed Lina and it seems like that still holds true. Maybe that will be her downfall later down the road. Not sure but it’s never a good thing to dismiss your opponents. You know I always loved hating Kim but her character has evolved since WPF don’t you think? She was the perfect villain in WPF, in SN she was the selfish evil Mom who shed a tear or two from Phil’s verbal attacks but here, she sounds selfish but sane to me. She even played with Liam- Omg! Phil says sign over all your rights. She said no and rightfully so I thought. I don’t see Kim giving Liam up. No way.

        • Tracie says:

          I knew she wouldn’t give Liam up to Janet. Kim has evolved, but she’s still so selfish. When she made the nanny comment, it’s like she still doesn’t want to give of herself and Phil nailed it when he said that Liam wasn’t an object. Referring to Lina as “her” and saying “how sweet”, Kim still wants to demean Lina, Rude! Aida Phil did take up for Lina, by establishing with Kim Lina’s role in Liam’s life. Kim just refused to acknowledge it. Phil doesn’t want to go off on Kim in front of Liam. Kim showed her lawyer skill by volleying with Phil on her rights…

          • janet says:

            Well, there’s no reasoning with this woman. From the sound of it, Kim is proud of her “object” and would take Phil back in a heartbeat. She wants to make partner and is working 80 hrs a week and I believe her. She hasn’t found another Phil yet. What’s the point of constantly putting Lina down? Nitpicking on peanut butter vs Almond butter? Linas her threat. Phil should just settle on joint custody with a clause for Lina and be done with her. Ugh.

          • Tracie says:

            I think Kim wants to nitpick on Lina to remind Phil he settled for second best when he stayed with Lina. I wonder how Kim felt when Phil left and didn’t even acknowledge her when he left? I wonder if she was smug thinking she crushed Linas hopes for adoption?

          • janet says:

            You are right. Kim doesn’t think of Lina as her threat. That was me thinking Like you said Phil settled in Kim’s mind. So Kim will dismiss and demean Lina foreva. It will bother Phil more than Lina. I’m thinking Linas brain will cancel Kim’s words out sooner than later. Lol

          • Tracie says:

            You’re right J-Girl, Lina knows how a mother’s heart is suppose to beat and Kim’s disinterest in Liam will eventually soothe Lina’s nerves. Phil will always look over his shoulder wondering when the grim reaper will rear her head. Phil’s guilt will always plague him.

    • Aida says:

      Kim, you should be grateful for Lina. Not a lot of woman can love the child her husband has with his ex-lover that much. Stop demeaning Lina! Ugh. Phil needs to stand up for Lina and put a stop at Kim’s nasty mouth when it comes to Lina. She doesn’t realize Lina has 10x the grace and class she does not have. She’s the one who gets sick satisfaction from being with another woman’s man, who’s the insecure, manipulated person here? I would love to see Phil making her realize this. He should demand her to respect his wife, not just listen to all the insults Kim say to him about her. I understand tho, he wants to be in her best side so she would cave to his request. This is a great scene, Laura. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  35. Tracie says:

    Morning Girls…Everybody got big plans for Thanksgiving? Katie our Gym-nasty book didn’t come out on the 20th…What’s up with that….🤔

    Hi Laura is Phil still lounging on the book pillow or has he gone into “What’s Up Kim” mode?

    Have a great day girls!

    • Katie says:

      It did! I’m reading it- at about 80%. Twist- Lucia Franco.

      No big plans for Thanksgiving. But I’m not hosting, so it’s already great!

      • Tracie says:

        Katie, I just finished Twisted. Lucia is dragging this out a little much to me, but when does Book 5 come out. I figure it will be in February.

        • Katie says:

          I have no idea. A few months I’d guess. Yes I’m kind of over it- just want to know the ending at this point. I was just telling Laura I think the sex scenes have become a tad unrealistic as well.

          • Tracie says:

            It was wearing me out there at the last. I also thought her dad got her biological mother pregnant when she had just turned 18 and he’s calling Kova a perv??? Then acted like he worshiped his daughter but probably just put her in the hospital…..Come on Lucia…..

            Girls, I have four days left to work. I’m getting crazy excited now. I’ve never not been on a schedule. We bought a TAG camper, its a teardrop camper. Tom had it tricked out for me and its painted navy blue and lime green. So Cool….We are taking our first trip to Fredricksberg, TX next week. They have a lot of attractions and decorate the town like an old Christmas scene. You would love it Katie…Antique stores, flea markets, etc…..It’s a couple of hours from San Antonio and the weather should be in the 60’s….Happy! Happy! Happy!

            Can’t wait to Holiday with you girls and the Hunter’s.

          • janet says:

            Hey Tracie! Just looked up your spiffy camper. So cute! Congratulations on your next phase of life. Sounds awesome!

          • Tara says:

            Congratulations!! Safe travels–have lots and lots of fun!!!

          • Tracie says:

            Thanks J-Girl I can’t wait!

          • Tracie says:

            Thanks Tara!

          • Katie says:

            Agree about Lucia…
            Your camper and trip sound so cute and fun!!
            Congratulations to you!

    • Laura says:

      Hi Tracie – Phil has progressed to the cafe — I’ll finish the scene between now and Wednesday. Jordan arrives at noon Wednesday — we have a lunch at my father’s and then a dinner at my sister’s and dessert at a friend’s. Busy day, but I’m looking forward to it.

      • Tracie says:

        Thanks Laura, be sure and tell Jordan Hi! We are having our Thanksgiving on Tuesday, my son is on shift. But love getting together any time with my kids.

        What do you mean Phil’s at the cafe? Can’t wait….

  36. Katie says:

    Tracie- do you listen to Kacey Musgraves? She has a song on the Frozen II soundtrack (All is Found, which I love), then when I looked her up, I realized I’ve heard and like many of her songs. Butterflies- such a beautiful song. I love her voice.

  37. BeeSA says:

    Katie – i read ‘Destination Wedding’ and it was ‘meh’. I wasn’t emotionally connected to the characters. I think i needed more drama, either when the husband was ending it and what was going through his mind, since if i’m not mistaken, he hated himself at the time when he had to tell her he’s met someone else.

    Or what went through hismind when he first realised he made a HUGE mistake and it was too late to do anything but suck it up and try make his marriage work.

    I needed more drama.

    Janet – *wink*

  38. Tracie says:

    I believe Kim does like the power and would literally thrive on it if she knew Lina wanted to adopt Liam. Kim wanted Phil and I have no doubt that she blames Lina for not backing out gracefully when she found out about the affair, Liam, and Steamboat. I agree Katie that Kim does feel that Lina is pathetic and has no sense of self worth, I said a long time ago that Kim probably looks at Lina like a wet nurse or the help so to speak. I think that is another reason Phil is so protective over Lina when Kim is nearby, because he has the same perception, even though Lina can stand on her own.

    • Tracie says:

      When I say Phil has the same perception, I’m implying that he also thinks Kim’s perception of Lina is that she is weak and expendable.

      • Katie says:

        I agree Tracie. Although I’m not sure she blames Lina. Lina is nobody to her.

        Funny thing- I look for converted barn homes in the US on Zillow periodically. Today I looked in Oklahoma. I couldn’t find one past sold or for sale. There are dozens in the western states, but not so many as you head East. You know why? I bet because you guys actually use barns for their intended purpose. We’re (I am) just a bunch of wannabes. 😂😂

        • janet says:

          Who does Kim blame do you think?

          I think Kim will give up Liam for selfish reasons. I remember reading about her disorder and it is incurable. And one thing I do notice is people with narcissistic tendencies don’t learn from their mistakes. So it’s not in her nature to be a nurturer but if it benefits Kim she will give Liam up. You talked about winning but does Kim think she won that day in court? I think it was more like her son wasn’t worth fighting for and she wanted to go back to the City. Kim moved “ heaven and earth” to be with Phil and I can see her doing this again. Depending on who she ends up with, her husband may not want to deal with her baggage. I do hope I am wrong, Kim marries a saint, and they can work something out for Liams sake.

          • Katie says:

            Hey J, I think she blames Phil. She probably thinks he’s only staying in his marriage for his kids or his pathetic homemaker wife, or whatever…and she was the ride of his life. Who knows.

            That day in court I think she was like, “Woohoo! That pathetic wife wants this kid! Awesome!”
            In her eyes that was a win.
            I agree with you that she might give up Liam 100% for a new love interest. What kind of man would want a woman who discards her child like that? A match made in hell.

        • Tracie says:

          Barnes here do house hay and animals…😘

    • Aida says:

      I agree, Tracie. I think she would revel in the fact that she holds Lina’s peace of mind in her hands and could crush it in-between her clawy fingers. However, after being rejected by Liam, I wouldn’t put it past Kim to think: “Oh, you don’t want me? Fine, I don’t want you either.” It doesn’t matter that Liam is a child, I don’t think she could see him as her child anymore if he continues to reject or be afraid of her. It offends her too much.

      Do you think Kim would dare talk badly about Lina to Phil? Would Lina ever confront Kim about the adoption?

      • Tracie says:

        I don’t think Lina would confront Kim about the adoption; however if the situation presented itself, I don’t think Kim would bat an eye at running Lina down to Phil. She could care less about Lina

    • BeeSA says:

      Tracie – Remember Kim was aware that Lina kicked Phil out after the photos and Phil never made any contact with Kim until Liam was born, even then Phil barely spoke / acknowledge Kim. Can Kim really blame Lina for not landing up with Phil in the end?

      • Tracie says:

        Bee me, Laura and Janet hit on this once. They both convinced me that Kim didn’t want to physically hurt Lina (I was going all Lifetime Movie at that time…LOL), she just wanted her out of the way so she could move forward with Phil. So I think Kim could blame Lina, because if she would of just moved she could of had Phil.

  39. M.Cherish says:

    Omg my heart hurts for Lina!!! Liam is her baby and I would hope that adoption can be push more from Phil. It’s not fair that Lina is taking care of Kim’s baby because Kim is too selfish but is expected to allow Kim to see Liam and (my opinion) is pushing Liam to recognize her (Kim) as Mommy, which I kind feel that is sooo wrong in every way as a Parent.

  40. Tracie says:

    Good Morning Girls, Loved reading all your comments this morning. J-Girl sorry you haven’t been yourself doll. I must have to have an emotional connection to have sex too…My mother once told me, why in the Hell do you have to marry them just because you have sex with them??? You girls would of loved her!!!

    We’ve determined Kim is more than likely done with Phil, what about Lina? Does she still envy her? Will she be able to put herself aside and let Lina adopt Liam? Did it feel to any of you, that she stepped into that book store like it had been 6 days verses 6 months. When she asked Phil “What is wrong with him?” It was like she expected Liam to fall into her arms, because she gave birth to him. The old Kim still simmers underneath the surface. Kim strikes me as the type that doesn’t admit failure, so she just ignores it.

    • Katie says:

      I don’t see Kim envying Lina. Envy requires humility, and Kim doesn’t have that. I don’t see her giving up Liam either. Giving him up would be selfless, and she’s not that. Giving him up would make her look bad too.

      Ok, back to this emotional sex thing. So, even within a marriage, there are times you make love and times when it’s just straight screwing. No? Maybe I’m more like a man about this then.

      • Tracie says:

        I agree with your analogy Katie…it goes both ways with me too Kbabe.

        I’m wondering about Lina’s initial reaction when Phil drops the bomb that her parents want to be a part of Liam’s life? Lina won’t trust her parents until she gets to know them. The next scene will tell Kim’s intentions and mood. If Kim doesn’t allow Lina to adopt Liam, Phil’s guilt will be ever present knowing Lina is living in fear of loosing him. I can feel so much for Lina, knowing she has all the responsibility of being his mother, but none of the rights. Lina will always have to be the one that has to compromise. No wonder Phil’s thoughts are never far from Lina.

        • Katie says:

          Do you think Kim likes having that power? I think she does- even if it’s not even a conscious thing.

          I couldn’t imagine being in Lina’s position. Loving Liam as her own but not having any legal rights. Ugh.

          There is a child in our family…An accidental pregnancy- my step-SIL (a drug addict). When the family was trying to figure out who would/could take him when he was an infant, my husband and I said we would only if she gave up her rights. She wouldn’t. We didn’t. The grandparents are raising him. She has been in and out of his life now for 10 years, each time doing more damage than the last. She’s a narcissist as well, never thinking of her son, and she would never give up her rights. She loves to talk about him and post about him on Facebook. Everything that has happened is someone else’s fault, according to her. I can see Kim being a little like that.

      • janet says:

        I do see Kim envying Lina. Not jealous of Lina but envying what she has- Phil. She might be in denial but if Phil asked Kim for a second chance she would take him back. Even now. I see Kim possessing all of the seven deadly sins. My mom used to tell us all the time humility is a virtue every time one of us would lose at competitions. And envy is a vice. These traits go against each other not hand in hand. Believe me, my whole life is a struggle between having pride and trying to stay humble. So I don’t believe envy requires humility.

        • Katie says:

          Your explanation was beautiful, Janet. It really made me reassess what I said. I think to envy you have to see yourself lacking something- there’s an inherent vulnerability there. I still don’t think Kim envies Lina- Lina is too far beneath her in her head.
          I don’t know what’s in Kim’s head though. I see her thinking Phil is why she doesn’t have Phil (he’s an idiot, etc.)…not thinking Lina is why she doesn’t have Phil. I see her thinking Lina is pathetic for staying with Phil, for raising her child. Kim still thinks she won.
          I’m very forgiving as we know. But I also know a few Kims in real life. I want to feel bad for her that maybe she feels Phil duped her, made her a single mother, and now she’s in an impossible situation/mess with her baby daddy and his family, maybe having felt pressured to give Liam up. But she’s not a nice enough person to give that much credit to her. I did sense wonder when she saw Liam, like you said. And maybe that makes her human, at least. But I mostly feel bad for her that she’s not a better person. Some tears would’ve shown that vulnerability that could allow for envy.

          • Aida says:

            Hi Katie,

            In some ways, she did show some vulnerability in SN when she cried and said how she fell in love with Phil but that she might hate him now, but she is still far from getting better. Kim has a lot of insecurities, and that makes her envious. It wasn’t enough for her that she had a man, she wanted that extra victory of getting another woman’s husband as well. A lot of times, people think they are in love when what they actually feel is just admiration. Phil is who Kim strives to be, and by being with him, she thought she could get some of that shine into her. Thankfully Phil is smart enough to understand that Kim doesn’t know him enough to love him and fall for her obsession. Unlike Kim, Phil is not a narcissists who “falls for” the first person pursuing him. A lot of men fall for it. I do believe she will be a better person far down the road. As far as we know, she didn’t come from a bad family. Her parents seem to have values and respect for the Hunters, and her sister seems perceptive. I just hope, once Liam is older and is ready to talk to her, she is already capable of giving Liam the closure that he needs.

          • Katie says:

            You’re absolutely right about the vulnerability in SN. I forgot about that. I also liked what you said higher up about how Liam “offends” her, even though he’s a baby. I see her the same way.

  41. Tracie says:

    Katie I read both Destination Wedding and Dressing Myself…Rooted for Heck too! But I can see why the wife did what she did. Destination Vacation was an Ok read, liked Dressing Myself better.

    • Katie says:

      Better writing for sure!

    • Katie says:

      Great scene, Laura. I thought I’d posted that already.

      Tracie, Heck was just too sweet, but he’d always be the rebound guy. She never moved on from her hubby, even though she really tried.

    • janet says:

      Hey All! Wowza Laura! That was intense!! Like Tracie, I think the bookstore idea was very clever. I was thinking more like Chucky Cheese Pizza type of environment so bookstore was a treat.
      Lina’s apprehension was palpable. It’s exactly how I would behave if I was threatened and I felt Lina’s utter panic and like Holly said, her anguish.
      Also, as much as I dislike Kim, I felt for her too. When she says aloud how much Liam has grown, even though it was Kim’s own doing, I felt for her. I detected a bit of wonder in her tone and the way she followed Liam to play rather than stay with Phil told me a lot. I don’t know which way you want to take this character but for Liam’s sake I hope they can work something out. I think deep down Liam knows Kim is important to him in some way, good or bad.

      Tracie, It looks like Kim is over Phil, no? When she gave up in court, I think that was her way of saying Sayonara to him. I know some selfish people and their egos are huge. I think once Kim is done she is done.

      Katie, Phil is nothing like the guy is Destination Wedding. Ewwww. That dude was a beta douche. He said sorry so many times, I wanted to give him something to be sorry about. Argggh.

      • Katie says:

        Lol!
        I thought you disappeared, Janet. I’m happy you’re back.

        The way he was described or something he said reminded me of Phil more than a few times. But obviously not really comparable. He was kind of charming with all of that smiling and winking…?

        Try Dressing Myself. I think you girls would like it.

        • janet says:

          Hey there. I didn’t disappear but I have a lot on my plate and I’m feeling a bit moody and down so I didn’t want to take it out on Phil. LOL

          I believe you about Dressing Myself but I read the summary and I can’t read a book where the hero or the heroine have the best sex of their lives with OW/OM. That always sours the book for me. I’m very old school that way.

          • Katie says:

            Oh, who said that? I don’t remember that in the book or a summary I read. Maybe in a review?

          • Katie says:

            You know, it doesn’t really matter. I’d hope a person wouldn’t be stupid enough to tell his/her partner that an affair was “the best sex ever” especially if trying to reconcile. That would certainly be painful to hear.
            But I guess the realistic part of me expects that extramarital sex is, by its nature, good. Excitement, enthusiasm? (…that can be lost in marriages as years go by…). Even for the betrayed wife- to have rebound sex and release all of that hurt and anger. It’s sure to be good.

          • Laura says:

            Personally, I need a strong mental connection with a person — I’ve actually had this discussion with several male friends. The best sex they’ve had was with someone they cared deeply for — that’s not to say they haven’t had wild meaningless sex, but the best sex had some emotional connection too

          • janet says:

            I agree with you K. But I can’t read about it. that probably does happen in real life but since I read romance novels to escape I don’t want to read that a huge part of a relationship didn’t happen with the person you were meant to be with. In fiction I don’t care but in romance novels I wouldn’t be able to digest it. That’s why I stopped reading romance novels written by men. I consider it smut at that point.

          • Katie says:

            I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not surprised when the cheater says the sex was great. Of course it was. I expect it was- doesn’t ruin a story for me.
            Now, as far using an extreme statement such as “best in my life”…

            Eh.

            You could think a piece of cheesecake is the best in your life because you forgot the cheesecake you ate in France 20 years ago. Isn’t that was happens so often? People cheat and are so overcome by the passion…the excitement of something new, the lust, thinking it’s the best ever, thinking it’s love…only to realize they were confused, crisising, missing the early days with their spouse?

            It’s hard for me to separate physical and emotional connection because I haven’t been in a relationship without both in a long time. But I do know that good sex isn’t always emotional. Sometimes your jeans have been rubbing the right spot all day, or you’re seriously turned on because of hormones, or for no reason at all. And it’s not love or appreciation or another emotion making the sex great- it just is.
            I don’t know what I’m saying, but no way am I deleting *this* essay now. 🥴

          • Laura says:

            nice analogy, Katie.

        • Tara says:

          Janet, I agree, my hope is Kim is done with Phil and they act like adults in their interaction about Liam. I’d hate to see her try flirting, only to have him verbally slap her down.

          Katie, not a fan of the husband from Destination Wedding, too charming and his apologies seemed about as shallow as he did. I’ve already downloaded Dressing Myself.

          • janet says:

            Hey T, I have a feeling you will like the OM more. Let me know pls. I downloaded LJ Shen’s new one but not sure when I will get to it. I can’t concentrate on anything for long these days.
            Too nice could be boring in a book but it’s never a bad trait in real life.

          • Katie says:

            I liked the OM. He’s very sweet. Not too sweet (didn’t mean it that way).
            And I agree, I think Kim is done. I did pick up on some things in the scene that make her seem less like a monster. That’s good I guess. Still a c**t.

      • BeeSA says:

        Love the new scene and love Phil in this scene. Glad to see he’s more understanding towards Lina feelings and not all hot headed and defensive.

        Janet – I also think once Kim is done, she’s done. Do you think maybe she lost her way just like Phil?

        She saw Phil in court and admired him and wanted to be just like him as a laywer but landed up going by it the wrong way. She in a way also “lost her way” and threw a good job to chase after a married man who she knew wouldn’t leave his wife. She even made herself pregnant and i bet a year before that she never saw being a mother in her future.

        • janet says:

          Hi Bee, I would agree with you if Kim was anyone else but I don’t believe Kim thinks like us and isn’t able to view herself as someone who lost her way. I think she believes there’s something wrong with Phil. LOL.

          I like Dylan Mc. I would totally marry him 30 years ago! But he’s not Phil to me. Dylan’s too boyish and sheepish looking to me. For Phil, I just stick to a vague Marlboro man type with Jason Statham attitude.

          • Tara says:

            Janet and Bee… I have absolutely no visual of Phil, but then I rarely relate characters to actors, but I’d agree with Janet, Dylan McDermott would be too boyish and maybe not big enough, Phil’s a big guy.

  42. Tracie says:

    Good Morning Girls, This is a good Janet question…do you think Kim would wonder how having full custody of Liam has impacted Phil and Lina’s marriage?

    Also, Liam did recognize Kim, he nodded when she asked him if he remembered her. Not in a good way either, noted by the way Liam tried to absorb Phil like a sponge.

    I’m looking forward to Phil and Kim’s conversation after she is through playing with Liam. Will Kim acknowledge how hot Phil looks? Will she talk about her parents seeing Liam? Laura in Maryland, how long does she have to be gone before Phil can ask that her parental rights be terminated? I think that would be the only way Lina could adopt Liam. I just love this scene by scene suspense….

  43. Laura says:

    It’s not quite done, but a promise is a promise. I’ve posted the new scene. I’ll finish it in the next few days…

    • Tracie says:

      The book store was brilliant…..He does recognize her or maybe it’s just a feeling of unease with her. What’s the matter with him? I would be annoyed if I were Phil too! I wondered from the car scene where Lina got emotional if Phil realizes how the affair still affected Lina through Liam. I agree with Phil, I can’t see Kim giving up her parental rights. Loved it Laura…take your time we appreciate you do this for us and know you are a busy with work. Thank you so much for these scenes doll.

    • Holley says:

      Thank you Laura for this scene. Lina’s anguish is so palpable it makes me ache for her. It makes me wonder how she deals with all of this without killing or lashing out at Phil. It’s a miracle she does not have some sort of issue like overeating, shopping addiction, drinking, etc.
      I will say that I like this super caring and thoughtful Phil. His concern about Lina at Kim’s reappearance is clear and deep. They are all still experiencing moments of pain because of what Phil did. I love how Liam is so attached to Phil and Lina. I can’t be sad that he does not want to interact with Kim. I wish all those who hated Phil and gave negative reviews on WPF could read this and see how truly sorry Phil is and just how strong Lina is. She is their glue. Love it – thank you so much Laura.

  44. BeeSA says:

    Katie – I watched your “Phil” in the Ben Affleck movie called “Town”. Mizz weather today in KZN, SA. So spent the day watching old movie on Netflex.

    • Tracie says:

      Bee did the weather calm down your way?

      • BeeSA says:

        Tracie – Saturday turned out to be a nice day. Manage to do my washing ;p
        Sunday was mizzz and had a late thunderstorm. Kwa-Zula Nata like the UK this time of the year till about December – rains a lot. Least no drama. Now they just need to fix the highway along the beach front near my mother place – mud slide and a chunk of the road collapsed.

    • Katie says:

      Haha! He works for me as Phil in some photos. He’s actually Laura’s Phil, but I do think he looks pretty hot sometimes.
      I read another one- it was also a fast read. Well-written. I actually cheered for the rebound guy in this one. The cover is awful- the reason I took so long to read it.
      Dressing Myself. Rosalind Burgess.

      • BeeSA says:

        Katie – not a fan of his chin and mouth. Also has that goofball look to him. He was hot in some of the scene in the movie when he was all serious but his chin just doesn’t do it for me.

        I always picture Phil having that grumpy look to him, except when he’s around the people he loves. Dylan mcdermott works for me. Take a look at him in The Politician – not the first scene where he’s playing tennis – he’s wearing too much white. Ick.

        Second scene when he’s on the couch with his wife after a night out.

  45. Laura says:

    I’m not quite done and don’t want to break up this scene. I’ll finish it after the game. It will be up tonight!

    • Tracie says:

      Tell me I wasn’t on it…Lol…Hope the Ravens take those Texans! Did you see where OU came back 25 points yesterday and beat Baylor by 3 points? It was awesome!

      Talk to you tonight!

      😘

  46. Laura says:

    Sorry it’s taken so long, but I will post the new scene before the Raven’s game on Sunday!

  47. Katie says:

    Have any of you read Act of a Treachery by Ann Widdecombe?

    • Tracie says:

      Katie I haven’t read it. I looked it up today and don’t know if I would like it or not.

      • Katie says:

        I like WWII as a backdrop in books and film. It looked interesting to me. I actually found it as an older man romance, but it’s also an affair. I know you don’t like when the h is the mistress.

        • BeeSA says:

          Katie – it looked interesting but then i read a spoiler and put me off. Nothing to do with the affair or the age difference though. Would make a good movie to watch though. Love war type of movies.

          Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. Been a crazy week in SA. We’ve had floods, a minor tornado on Tuesday and another one yesterday – all close to where i live. Now light snow has been reported. Here i was hoping for bum tanning weather this weekend 🙁

        • Laura says:

          Katie — remind me why you haven’t read the The Bronze Horseman — it’s all about WWII

      • Katie says:

        I’m reading one I like right now. Destination Wedding by Deanna Lynn Sletten. It’s a quick read- 200 pages. About a man who leaves his wife for a younger woman; fast forward 4 years and he knows he messed up. Something about him reminds me of Phil. The physical description and his personality a little bit. Well, if Phil was a worse man, that is. It’s good so far.

  48. Tracie says:

    Good Morning Girls, remember me telling you about the new legal show I like Bluf City Law? It reminds me of our book.. The lead attorney was a serial cheater in his day with a wonderful wife like Lina and now that she is dead he regrets so much about his life…Well he was on a case out of town and was in a hotel bar and watched as a man saddled up in a booth to hookup for a one night stand. His client said do you know him and he said “No, he reminds me of a guy I use to know.” Case is over and he is back at the law firm having a late drink with his friend and partner and tells her about what he saw in the bar, he said “How did I compartmentalize doing that?” Does that sound familiar. He had no remorse or guilt at the time, because he kept it away from his family. Goes right along with Laura’s research. Men just art not emotional when it come to physical acts, unless they are the ones being cheated on.

    • BeeSA says:

      Hope all is well. Hasn’t stopped raining in KZN, SA. Hopefully won’t flood again. Already been hit hard at the beginning of the year.

      Otherwise, hope you all had a great weekend.

    • Terry says:

      Thanks Tracie! I am now addicted to Bluff City Law! How is everyone doing? I haven’t seen any posts from Miri! Hope everyone is doing well. Love the newest scenes,Laura!

      • Tracie says:

        I love it Terry…it reminds me of the Hunters a little. Only the wife is dead. But I do have a question for the group.

        In the show, the daughter was adopted as a baby by her father. It’s the Lina and Liam situation. Now the daughter has some insecurities regarding her fathers illegitimate son. Her dad ask her about them and she says “He has your smile.” It immediately registers with the father why she is heartbroken and he starts to reassure her that she is his daughter in all ways and how much he loves her. Now question…

        Would Liam being a male have those same insecurities about Logan? Would he ever tell Lina, but he has your eyes? I wondered that when I saw that scene in the show….

        • Laura says:

          Tracie — I say no. I don’t think boys think about things like that, not the ones I’m familiar with anyway. That would be more of a girl thing.

          • BeeSA says:

            Laura – yep, that what i did last week when i met my two aunts for the first time and cousin. I was trying to see if there was any similarities in our features, especially since my mom and sister look so much alike and I’m the complete opposite with my dark eyes and thick black eyebrows and eyelashes. I always said i had my dad’s dark eyes.

            The one sister also mentioned she was looking at my dad’s eyes and apparently he has the same eyes like their mother.

            Even my ma was trying to see if my dad look like any of his sisters or mother.

            Definitely a chick thing to do.

  49. Tracie says:

    Laura what is Kim doing????

    • Laura says:

      Hi, Tracie!

      Kim is stagnate at the moment. I’ve been really busy at work. I hope to finish the scene this weekend!

      I hope all is well. How many more days?

      • Tracie says:

        Hi Laura, I have 12 more work days. It’s so surreal winding down my career. My last day of work is December the 18th, the one year anniversary of my hip replacement and the day after my 56th BD. I can’t wait!

        Hope all is well with you too!

        • Tracie says:

          I’m taking my excess leave in December so I only work two days…Lol…I figured the 12 days wouldn’t make sense if I didn’t explain that. You know how I am about timelines…😊

        • Laura says:

          Wow — that’s incredible. What will you do with yourself? More time with the grand kids?

  50. janet says:

    This is from Ainsley Booth’s post on FB 10/24. I remembered Katie saying Shame was still in the works so I just googled her. The heroine’s name was Grace, and maybe her name’s been changed to Gemma? Copying and posting for all the cheater lovers. Hope it’s Ok to do so here Laura. I know you were interested.

    I get emails about Shame almost every single week. I’m still working on it!!! But I want to get this book right, and part of that has been a ton of research in recovering from infidelity. I adore Terry Real’s books for getting to the heart of this breaking point in relationships–and how to recover properly, wholly, to find a new relationship that truly makes the betrayed partner happy and fulfilled. I want that for Gemma, and when I figure out exactly how to write it, Shame will be done and yours to read.

    • Katie says:

      Cool, thanks Janet.

      Tracie, Laura forwarded me those photos. So Beautiful!
      I have a dream to convert an old barn or garage into a residence. You got any of those around you?

    • Tracie says:

      I’m glad you liked them and thank you Laura for forwarding them to Katie. There is one that just got done. I can send you pics of the outside. I haven’t seen the inside, but maybe Adele Jr has…..I’ll check…

  51. Tracie says:

    Good Morning Laura, thought about you yesterday. We were on the Talimena Drive yesterday. Lots of mountains and fall foliage with hiking and equestrian trails. It was crisp and 60 degrees. You could see for miles at the turn arounds. I think you would of loved it….

    I was wondering if you have started tangling with Kim yet or if your still dealing with getting Lina ready for the visit.

    • Laura says:

      Hi Tracie,

      I would love it! And yes, I’m tangling with Kim.

      • Tracie says:

        Whoop her…Lol. These scenes are such a joy to me….Can’t wait to see where she takes you….I’m thinking maybe her parents had her reach out…I don’t see this Tin Man getting a heart…

  52. BeeSA says:

    Janet – I’m flying to Cape Town on Wednesday. I’ll wave at Table Mountain on your hubby behalf. Flying for a work meeting, only there for a day and a half. Although made plans to meet my dad biological sister.

    Rugby final! South Africa vs England.

    GO BOKKE!!!

    Have a great weekend all!

  53. Katie says:

    Janet or anyone who has read the After Series by Anna Todd…can you summarize how it ends? I just cannot read 600 more pages of this story, but I want to know the end. HEA with marriage and babies?
    Thanks, friends.

    • janet says:

      If I remember correctly they get married and have a child or children. I think they have 2 but don’t quote me on that. HEA in their 20s with the bully/Harry worshiping the heroine. I can’t remember anything specific other than HEA. So many ups and downs but they end up together in the end.

    • Veronica says:

      I loved the Halloween scene! I really liked how involved Tiffany is. If I am right she and Logan break up, do you ever think they would reunite? Would you write a book for them?

  54. Tara says:

    Laura: Congrats on your NATS!!!

  55. BeeSA says:

    Really interested to see how Kim visit plays out.

    Maybe at a kids restaurant and Lina and Phil goes with. Only Phil hangs near Kim till Liam settled.

    I can see Liam being upset when he sees Kim. Wouldn’t be surprised he freaks out when he just glance at her.

    • Tracie says:

      Bee, Phil having to get through a dinner with her would be brutal for him. He would be lucky to have molars left when the dessert menu arrived…Phil would be furious with her, no contact for six months, Lina upset…I can’t wait to see how this all plays out. Maybe she is meeting up with him, because her parents told her to reach out, because they want to see their grandson. This may not be about her at all.

      • BeeSA says:

        Tracie – not dinner but a kids restaurant where they have a playroom area. Where Phil can sit aside and observe at a distance. This will allow Liam to not feel abandoned by Phil and left with Kim.

        Although can’t trust Kim but i can see her cutting the meeting short. Little boys are exhausting at 2ish upwards. I have a nephew who is 4 and he’s still very busy! He’s a wild one though – started riding his bicycle at 3 with no training wheels. Everything must happen at full speed. He’s already had two sets of stitches on his head due to him running and not looking. I love him to bits but he’s my contraceptive when it comes to me thinking of having kids. Think I’ll just purchase a gold fish instead :p

        I can see Phil threatening to cut the meeting short if Kim tried to interact more with Phil and not give Liam attention and play with him in the playroom.

        Maybe they meet at a park. I just know Phil will have to be there during the visit. If i was Lina, i personally would like to be there. Motherly instinct would kick in.

  56. Tracie says:

    Good Morning Girls, Katie there is not a hole to dig yourself out of IMO. You gave an analogy based on a life experience and I can understand yours and Janet’s train of thoughts and respect them both. Love you sweet ladies….

    Now, Phil does have life long consequences based on his affair. I’m interested in how he is going to make good on his promises to Lina and get what she wants from Kim, which is parental rights. Phil feels her pain to the absolute root of his soul, and probably kicks his own ass everyday. But like Phil told Logan, “I can’t go back and not have done it.” Lina chose to forgive Phil, she accepted those consequences that came with Phil’s actions. She had the choice and Phil gave her the room to make it. Forgiveness is just that forgiveness….Lina can’t forgive and then not forgive. That is not the way she is geared. Can she still get mad and emotional over the affair, why yes. Does Lina deserve Kim, why no…. But it is what it is and she loves Phil more than herself. So lets see where Laura’s characters take us and come back together to discuss and ponder upon where we go next or where we think we are going next. Lol Game 7…Hip Hip Hooray! Have a great day girls….

  57. janet says:

    Laura, I did think of this. Remember I freaked out when I found out Phil having full custody didn’t mean Kim relinquishing her claim to Liam? I thought if Kim has a say in what happens to Liam how will they ever lead a normal life? I don’t mean she’s going to jump out of the bushes here and there but she won’t want to give Lina the power simply because she hates Lina. That’s why I thought the scene was realistic and real. You didn’t champion Phil. It wasn’t about that. It was what do they do when this happens? And it does happen! So people need to get off my back. I’m not the enemy either!

    • Katie says:

      Oh boy. No one is attacking or bickering. This is all because I said I feel bad for poor Phil and you and Tara said you don’t. Phil will suffer lifelong consequences (in his own head and heart mostly), of course, but he doesn’t deserve the added turmoil that Kim creates, whether she’s around or not. I don’t care that he cheated- no one deserves that. And I don’t think Kim was unaware that she was being used- she just thought she could make Phil leave his family by getting pregnant. He didn’t deserve that.
      Let’s say a girl underage drinks/gets high and gets raped while incapacitated. Does she deserve to get sick? Yes. Does she deserve to get some wieners sharpied on her face? Sure. Does she deserve to have her parents take her phone and car away? Yup. She was stupid. There are consequences. Does she deserve to be raped? No.

      • Tara says:

        Wait, that is a really poor analogy, you can not compare a girl being date raped to Phil having to deal with the consequences of his affair. That’s wrong on way too many levels!!!

        • Katie says:

          I have first hand experience with this exact scenario, so I’m in no way making light of date rape. What I was saying is there are consequences for actions, but some go beyond the “crime.” Makes perfect sense in my head.

          • Tara says:

            I’m sorry but I find the comparing the consequences of behavior resulting in a rape can not compare to the consequences from an affair. I’m beyond shocked by the comparison. I’m done.

          • Katie says:

            I never said they were equivalents. I just see one very general parallel- getting more than one asked for by doing something stupid. Maybe I’m desensitized by my experiences, but I honestly can’t think of another comparison that explains what I was trying to say. Of course, I didn’t mean to make anyone uncomfortable.

          • Tara says:

            Katie—I’m truly sorry that you have been victimized, that’s heartbreaking and tragic. Equally tragic is your feeling desensitized. I see the parallels you were trying to make and find it incredibly offensive for rape victims that are not desensitized. I’m not uncomfortable, I’m saddened you chose the comparison.

          • Katie says:

            Don’t worry about me. I’m good.
            I’ve been trying to see your POV, and I don’t see what is so offensive about what I said. We talk about a very sensitive topic (adultery) in here, we read about rape and murder (often glamorized) in books, in here, so I’m not sure why this particular comment raised hackles. I never want anyone to be saddened on my account though, so I’m sorry for that.

          • Tara says:

            Katie–it is the comparison of the consequences of a rape victim vs. the consequences of an affair that I find offensive–not the actual discussion of rape. I get that that your comparing unfairness of consequences, but there is incredible difference between the “victims”.

          • Katie says:

            Ok I get you. I didn’t mean to inadvertently compare the magnitude of victimization. I’m 17 years removed from considering myself a victim, so I apologize for appearing insensitive. I don’t consider Phil a victim either, by the way. I just think he did something really stupid and is living consequences that are harsher than he deserves. I’ve said that too many times now, so I’ll move on.

      • janet says:

        Katie -Phil isn’t a helpless underaged girl. You dont see my point at all. At all. That hypothetical girl doesn’t deserve to get sick nor get her phone taken away. A girl comes home drunk and high she will get a lecture from her parents till the cows come home. That’s it. Phil comes home with a baby in another woman’s belly and he gets more than a lecture. He gets Kim. She’s not some comic book villain. She is in a word -Bitch. A grade A bitch but she is not a rapist. Your point to me is don’t live in the past and don’t give lip service when we forgave him. I get that!
        Laura gave us another great controversial scene.

        • Katie says:

          I see/saw your point. I just didn’t agree. He got Kim, and I feel bad for him, because, while he’s a cheating bastard, he didn’t deserve that (her). Maybe Tracie will chime in and help me dig myself out of this hole I’ve made for myself today.

          • janet says:

            just forget about it. I see your point and if you see mine then we are good here and we can leave it at that bc we will never see eye to eye about this. I don’t know what you went through and I’m very sorry if you experienced something horrible.

    • BeeSA says:

      Janet – I don’t feel sorry for Phil at all. He chose to have an affair and trust a woman he barely knew to take her pill correctly. I can’t view him as a victim of what happened. End of the day it was his decision. He also needs to learn to allow Lina to express her emotions without him being snappy, especially in the very beginning when it comes to new issues. It was his F up and he said Lina will always come first, so he must deal if she’s not thinking rationally at first and want to throw her toys out the cot. Far as I’m concerned, he must let her express her anger, sadness etc and he must shut up and just be there for her.

      Although must suck to be reminded of what he did and still causing pain to his family.

      He was calm until the dinner. Think maybe he felt ganged up at dinner?

    • Laura says:

      Yes, Janet, I remember. I guess Lina and I didn’t face what that meant long term until now. It’s a problem and one that can’t be resolved without the agreement of a rather selfish, narcissistic person. I can’t see it happening.

  58. Tara says:

    Here are my thoughts…

    1. It’s complicated, the situation isn’t just about forgiving and moving on. Just because they have custody their lives aren’t all hearts and rainbows. They’re going to have to deal with Kim for a long time, that alone is complicated.

    2. I don’t hate Phil nor do I want Phil to suffer. I’m not comparing what he’s done to a horrible crime. That’s like comparing apples and oranges. But, Liam adds additional issues to “he just had an affair.”

    3. I don’t think Liam will suffer gossip, but I can certainly hear someone saying… “Lina Hunter is a saint, I wouldn’t have put up with that…”. Or since Logan looks just like Phil… how about someone meeting Logan as an adult… “I used to be in a running club with a Phil Hunter, you look just like him… is he still with Kim…”. Are these horrible? No. Will they want to deal with it?

  59. Tracie says:

    Phil knows how Lina feels when she is overcome by emotion in the car. That’s exactly how he felt in the church in SN, when Kim was taking Liam to NYC.

    • janet says:

      Lord, I can’t get off this train! You guys see it as a mistake but it’s so much bigger/complicated than that and we saw it in yesterday’s blow up. The mistake can heal in cases like Phil and Lina’s but I’ve also witnessed first hand when it can get really ugly. I think most of us have. It’s not capital punishment but I’ve seen broken families and severed relationships and thats huge. One mom friend who is French said after her divorce, “I’m broken. I’m going back to my country.” I mean, for goodness sake this woman is French and most French men cheat IMHO! To me, having an affair is a betrayal that can be cruel as a death in the family so I will have my ups and downs with Phil. I know the point of your posts mean don’t live in the past but I also don’t have to feel bad about Phil dealing with the aftermath. SN was about Phil feeling remorse and dealing with his affair and that is what Phil is continuing to do. Moving forward after a betrayal to me means pain and brutal honesty coupled with happy moments. Not about what Phil deserves or doesn’t deserve.

      • Tracie says:

        It wasn’t a mistake J-Girl it was a devastating betrayal. Phil will always have to live with those consequences and so will his family…Phil is blessed that he not only has a remorseful soul, but has a wife that has a forgiving heart.

  60. BeeSA says:

    Love the scene.

    I couldnt help but roll my eyes when Phil said he wouldn’t bring her to their house. All i could think of was Steamboat. Only that part i wanted to punch Phil. I understand Lina getting emotionally upset and Phil thinking like a lawyer at first.

    I love Adele though. She definitely plays the big protective role.

    Although kim visiting Liam at their house may be a good idea. Liam is still very young and Kim visiting Liam in his room where he’s in his comfortable surrounds will be easier for Lism. Also gives off some sense of control for Lina. Harder to think of Phil, Kim and Liam somewhere else playing “family”. Kids can be so clingy during the age of 2. Phil won’t be able to dump and run. Liam already hated being dumped with Kim when Phil used to drop him with Kim before he had full custody.

    Although i think only the early years will be hard. Plus sounds like Liam will have a good relationship with Kim parents. So it will make the visits easier.

    I don’t think Liam will be subject to gossip when he’s at school regarding his conception. It will be old news and kids his age won’t even know.

    If i was Phil and Lina, i would just tell Liam he was conceived when they were separated. May be half lies but they were both emotionally separated for months before the affair happened. I’m sure we all know or heard of families who parents live together but no longer emotionally “together” .

    I had 3 set of grandparents when i was born. My mother dad was remarried to a younger lady before i was even born. Not uncommon.

    • BeeSA says:

      *Liam’s room where he’s comfortable with his surroundings.

    • janet says:

      Exactly Bee! Having 3 sets of grandparents are not uncommon and I can’t see Liam being subject to gossip either. It’s Logan who “needs to get over” like Katie said.

      • janet says:

        isn’t uncommon.

        Also, I want to reiterate that I don’t have beef with Phil. Struggling and suffering is part of being human was what I was pointing out.

  61. Katie says:

    Posting this on top so it’s easy to find.
    Janet-
    It kind of sounds like you want him to live a life sentence for what he did, maybe just without the jail cell. I think forgiveness is lip service without appropriate action. Lina truly forgave Phil. She doesn’t want him to suffer the consequences any longer. Liam shouldn’t always be “a reminder of what Phil did.” And honestly, at some point, I’d say to Logan that he needs to get over it and move on. There are so much worse things a person can do than cheat. That’s why I added physical abuse to that list of offenses, because hitting your wife or children, to me, is much worse than cheating. I think Phil has suffered enough.

    But it always goes back to our personal experiences, value systems, personalities. I understand what you and Tara are saying, not that I totally agree. But I love you!

    • janet says:

      I’m not here to bicker. That’s silly. Phil did not commit heinous crimes like the ones you listed! All i’m saying is Phil made his bed and now he has to lie in it. You pointed out the reality of adultery scene. That’s it. That’s Phil’s reality until Kim sees reason. How is that a life long sentence?

      • Katie says:

        Lol. I wouldn’t call it bickering. Not my intention. You and Tara don’t feel bad for him. I do. His mistake was having an affair, but he didn’t deserve for his mistress to get pregnant on purpose and be a generally awful person, which will haunt him his whole life. He didn’t deserve that.
        😘😘

        • Tracie says:

          I like those thoughts Katie and agree. Phil signed up for meaningless sex, not a life of pain for his family. Which he said he would spend his life making it up to Lina and I believe his words.

        • Tara says:

          I’m not going to feel bad for him, I feel for Lina and Liam.

          He obviously didn’t foresee consequences when it started—it was escapism through sex. We assume she hoped to trap him. She had no clue he was using her. They were using each other, with different expectations.

          Liam isn’t even 2, he’s only been with them 6 months. These are growing pains, the reality that Lina has very little rights, even though she’s Mommy. Maybe Kim is hoping the family is falling apart, it will make them stronger, but right now realities are setting in, Kim will always be his birth mother.

          I don’t want him to suffer, I just think there will be repercussions, they won’t be everyday, and hopefully they will eventually be able to work with Kim, but who knows.

  62. Katie says:

    OMGoodness, this scene. I’m sad now. I mean I’m happy that Lina loves Liam so much, but ultimately, I’m sad. I feel like this is a true “reality of adultery” scene. I always thought Kim being evil was best for the story. So everyone could move on. But her being evil is not best for Liam. And there would be a constant state of worry over what evil thing she was planning next. Ugh!
    I totally understand Phil. He’s gets defensive and acts like an asshole because he knows this is all his fault. Every bump in the road is ultimately the result of his actions. Tara, this is his penance, like you say.
    I do feel bad for Phil though. Yeah he messed up and cheated and didn’t use protection and blah blah, but he didn’t deserve the lies and manipulation that are Kim.

    • janet says:

      So true K! This is the reality of adultery scene. I too wanted Kim evil so Lina could have Liam and it was easier for me to forgive Phil if the OW was evil but…….

      I think Phil deserves it and can take care of himself but the rest of the family doesn’t.

    • Tara says:

      Katie–exactly, this is the sad reality of his cheating and there will be bumps in the road throughout their lives. It’s a sad consequence.

      Janet–I agree, I don’t feel sorry for Phil, these are his consequences and he can take care of himself, but the rest of the family, particularly Lina and Liam will suffer too–which isn’t fair, but I guess that will be a sad part of their lives.

      I think Logan will continue to have a hard time with this, if he sees Lina or Liam suffering, he’s going to ultimately feel it’s Phil’s fault. This will make for an interesting relationship going forward.

      • Katie says:

        You two are so funny. I feel like I need back-up from Tracie right now. Tracie, where you at? There are only a handful of sins I think warrant life-long consequences (Adultery isn’t one of them). Poor Phil (and of course, Poor Liam, Lina, Logan, etc.).

        • Tracie says:

          Lina even says I took him back and forgave him knowing all about Kim….I said exactly what you said Kbabe a few messages down doll. Been defending him since our new scene hit the press…Lol

        • janet says:

          Phil is a hard headed mule. he doesn’t give a fig what two middle aged women say about him. Lina forgave him knowing about Kim and I believe their marriage is stronger after the affair. But given his personality, I wonder if you and Katie would love him as much if he looked like Dwight from the Office! He’s a control freak who is arrogant(I don’t mind this) and selfish(this I mind) to the core. I appreciate his multi-faceted character. I truly do but he is not my karate Dancer!

          Also, other than murder what are the sins that warrant life long consequences? Because Phil had an affair with an unreasonable witch, he doesn’t have a choice but to deal with her forever no? If Kim was a normal woman who can talk it out with Lina like Max mentioned then Phil wouldn’t have to protect nor deal with Lina freaking out like this.

          Laura, am I wrong to think that you didn’t realize Lina would take it this hard? This scene was intense. Did you know going in it would escalate like this?

          • Katie says:

            Actions that deserve lifelong consequences: first-degree murder, rape, sexual abuse of a child, physical abuse. I think a man beating a woman is unforgivable, and lifelong consequences (such as losing his wife/family) are 100% justified.

          • Katie says:

            And my opinions have nothing to do with Phil’s appearance. I dare to say this but I like his personality. 😬

          • janet says:

            Those sins are incomparable to Phil’s. You are talking about monsters vs a man who cheated. I’m not saying lock up Phil. What I’m saying is in the grand scheme of things Phil’s comeuppance is unavoidable. Struggling and suffering is part of everyone’s life and Phil doesn’t get a pass nor is he asking for one. That’s all Tara and I are saying.

          • janet says:

            I like your answer Katie! That’s what I wanted to hear.

          • Laura says:

            Janet, you were right. I was totally surprised by Lina’s reaction, but she channeled through me. Can you imagine how it would feel — knowing if something happen to Phil that Kim would have the legal grounds to take your son away. I think it hit her/and me for the first time. Phil should be as worried about that as Lina, considering Liam’s well being is at stake.

        • Tara says:

          I completely agree with the forgiveness piece, and it’s sad that there will/might be life long consequences, and as time goes on those should be easier to deal with, it’s not everyday–it might not even be every year, all I’m saying they’re going to be blindsided at times and when that happens, Phil will have to go into damage control, again.

          • Tracie says:

            Phil is fortunate, even though Lina is emotional right now, she will be Phil’s wingwoman with all things Kim. They will be a solid front. As Liam grows those petty gossips will be no match for mama bear Lina!

            Megan would be like let him go…Lol

            Kim, Liam and her parents are a package deal. Phil and Lina have to figure out how to ensure the deal has clear boundaries so they can all function without drama:

  63. Tara says:

    Laura, Good luck to the Nats tonight–Yankee fans are pulling for them. The hate for the Astros is almost as strong as the hate for the Red Sox 😛

  64. Laura says:

    Okay — I added a new scene after the last one. Since it continues, I wanted to keep it together. As usual, it’s not going as planned, the characters are taking it in a slightly different direction…

    • Tracie says:

      Oh Laura I love this…Lina is wanting to have parental rights…I love this direction. Lina is throwing her true feelings out about wanting to be his mom…Phil will think about something happening to him and what would happen to Liam…Also, I think you meant William, not Julian…Right? Logan is going to freak too! Awesome Scene Laura this is so thrilling…Hope it isn’t interfering with your work…Love ya

      • janet says:

        I thought Phil likes Julian? Lol

        Finally, I can say I’ve eaten at a restaurant Lina and Phil have! If this grill was here 10 yrs ago, I’ve been there! I have friends who live in Bethesda. That was the exciting part.

        This scene was angsty so I loved it but I’m not liking Phil too much here. It’s hard for me not to cast all the blame on him again. I loved it when Lina said Kim isn’t setting a foot in Ellicot City. Lord, I visualized a neighbor seeing Phil, Kim, and Liam together at a restaurant and got so mad! And thank you for addressing the ongoing issue Logan may have internally and with his friends. I have always thought Logan was the more damaged character than Liam because the event happened during his teenage/vulnerable years and that will leave a mark. Ugh. Can’t wait to see his reaction. This was my favorite bonus scene so far.

        • Tracie says:

          Logan is going to be as pissed as Lina. I can just hear him telling Phil that part of the Big Brother job description is protecting his little brother. Phil has to play it cool with Kim. He’s a seasoned lawyer, he could play the game about if something happened to him, would she want to raise him? if not, Lina does and would. She’s needs parental rights, etc..Explaining he would give her and her parents visiting rights. I bet Kim would still crawfish on Phil. Lina adopting Liam would also help with possible legitimacy issues in the future…Laura does Maryland have some type of shared parental rights that Lina could have in case of an emergency? Maybe Phil is out of town and she has to take him to the hospital, etc….

          • Tracie says:

            J-Girl why would you be mad at Phil? He has no control over that bag of no integrity….He’s mad because his hands are tied and he would do anything to give Lina what she wants. He’s between a rock and hard place.

          • Tara says:

            Kim’s a lawyer too, she could play legal games just to mess with them. I can see her not being willing to give up full parental rights just to piss them off.

          • janet says:

            I’m mad at him because his way of dealing with problems is to take offense. Lina says you have to do this and do it this way and he could have diffused it by saying you are right. Let’s work as a team. Instead he narrows his eyes and says He’s not the enemy. That’s Phil’s personality so I totally get it but I have a fundamental problem with his personality as you know. It has to get ugly before we see the rainbow because this will happen each time Kim comes to visit Liam. And I’m mad bc as Lina said she has no power! Kim has the upper hand because she gave birth to Liam and she can lord it over them until she doesn’t feel like it.

          • Laura says:

            Yes, I’m sure Lina has the rights to deal with an emergency just like a babysitter does — not that she’s a babysitter, but she would have legal permission.

          • Tara says:

            …Lina has no power! That has to be frightening to her and then by extension to their other children, as the come to accept and love their brother. Phil opened them up to all of this!

        • Laura says:

          Yes, that’s the restaurant Janet. It’s been there forever — at least 25 yrs!

          • janet says:

            I have missed your contentious scenes!! I loved all the back and forth dialogue between them. I missed getting mad at Phil(LOL) and I missed Lina talking back to Phil. I can’t wait till you write Logan’s scene. Thank you Laura!

          • Tara says:

            Janet, this! Just this 😁🙄😁

      • Laura says:

        Good catch, Tracie. Yes, I meant William LOL

    • Tara says:

      This is good, just the right level and of angst and anxiety. We feel Lina’s stress, see Phil’ stress through his frustration. Logan’s reaction should be interesting, he had the hardest time dealing with the cheating, how will he react to Kim being back? He’s at a tough age, but will always want to protect Lina.

      • janet says:

        I agree! It gave me anxiety as well. And Phil dealing with his frustration is classic Phil but he makes me want to pull my hair out.

        Lina is totally freaking out and that will make Logan freak out and Liam will sense the tension. Maybe logan will say he wants to see Kim with Liam but Phil won’t let him. I don’t know. I would think Phil would have to be there with Liam and Kim. How could he not? More anxiety!

        • Tara says:

          Classic Phil… exactly, on the angry edge of blowing up, but now being careful not to direct it at Lina. This is his train wreck, and he’s dragged his whole family into it!

          • Tracie says:

            Phil pulled the car over and took Lina in his arms…He still feels deep regret, because Kim can still cause Lina pain through Liam. Phil wants to protect her from all pain, but Lina herself had to know agreeing to raise Liam would include Kim..Phil and Lina both were hoping that after 6 months Kimwas just dust in the wind…..Surprise

          • Tracie says:

            Also, I don’t think Lina or the kids see it as what Phil has dragged them into. I think they would see it as fighting for one of their own. Phil’s been forgiven by his family. Now I would like to see Logan drop the F bomb in front of Phil over this…not mad at Phil, but spun up over the situation….

          • janet says:

            I know it’s a cliche but forgiving and forgetting are two separate issues. I believe Lina forgave and mostly forgot in order to move forward but Logan is a different story. Did he forgive Phil? He likes and loves Liam now but what about Phil? He used to idolize his dad. Does he still? I know he loves him but did he forget what he did to his mother? Not likely. Therefore, I can see him getting mad at Phil for putting his mom and brother in this situation. To me that’s classic Logan too.
            I mean, look at me! I’m 50 and I’m blaming Phil for something that’s out of his control so how can a 16 year old not resent the situation initially?

          • Tara says:

            An affair that resulting in a child dragged them into this.

            Forgiving doesn’t mean moving forward is easy, there would have to be growing pains, they have a new normal and really, there’s no forgetting, Liam is a wonderful, adorable little boy, he’s all Hunter and they all love him, but he will always be, on some level, a reminder of what Phil did, it’s not a judgment against Liam, it’s all on Phil.

            Phil has worked hard for forgiveness, but Forgive and Forget are not synonymous.

          • Tracie says:

            I agree girls that the family will never forget Phil’s affair and the consequences that they as a family have had to bare from his actions; however, you can’t continue to beat a dead horse (Phil). Phil’s having to go into damage control now. I can see him trying to shift the situation in his and Lina’s favor by using Kim’s own selfish tendencies to get what he wants. If her meeting is in Washington, I see Phil meeting her there with Liam.

            Even though Logan is going to be mad, I see a bonding moment for him and Phil. Maybe this will be the time where Logan can explain to Phil how he really felt. I think Logan telling Phil that he felt like he could judge him, because of the fact, he was the example he was trying to live up to and then Phil pulled that rug out from under him. I would hope that Logan could tell Phil he has forgiven him, without crying. However, Phil’s eyes could fill on that one…. I can see a scene with Logan going down in so many ways.

          • Tara says:

            I don’t really see it as beating a dead horse–Phil will be in damage control mode whenever they need to deal with Kim or something comes up to remind them that even though Lina is day to day mommy, she’s not Liam’s birth mother–that’s not going to change. Obviously, it’s not everyday–most days their lives will be normal, but it’s always there in the background waiting–that’s part of Phil’s consequences–ugly, but there it is. Forgiving, redemption, moving on and even trying forget doesn’t change this.

            How much harder would it have been week to week dealing with Kim, if she hadn’t walked away??

    • Max says:

      I kind of feel like Lina needs to confront Kim and get some closure in order to move forward with raising Liam. I feel like it’s a long awaited but much needed talk with Kim. According to the book Kim “Loved” Phil but now that she realized it was never going to moved forward and I hope she would see that it was more lust than Love. Also being a single mother to a baby and the father hates hates your guts, that’s a hard pill to swallow. I hope that Lina and Kim would come to some understanding and move forward in a positive way That would benefit Liam. I hope that Lina would be able to adopt Liam as her legal son.

      • Tara says:

        Max, I love this concept, coming together to benefit Liam! I hope at some point this is a possibility.

      • Laura says:

        Max,

        It would be nice, but I’m not sure if Kim or Lina are in a place where a one-on-one would be constructive. Six months is that long — I’m hoping Kim has grown, now that she’s in a different space, but I’m not sure she’s ready to respect Lina. We shall see…

        • Tracie says:

          I can’t see that happening between Lina and Kim. There is to much water under the bridge. I see Lina working with her parents for the benefit of Liam and maybe Kim maintaining a relationship with Liam through their connection with Phil and Lina. Plus, Phil will not want Lina anywhere near Kim.

        • Max says:

          Laura, I hope you can write a third book! I feel like there is so much more with Lina and Phil’s story.

      • janet says:

        How do you confront and have a woman to woman convo with a person who doesn’t acknowledge you? It could be a long road ahead before Lina gets what she wants. Specifically until Kim gets married and it’s “beneficial” to her to let Liam go.

        I wonder what Phil can do if kim wants Liam for the weekend. Liam would scream the house/ hotel down till Phil picks him up.

        • Tracie says:

          I think if the was a visitation schedule that Was adhered to would be easier for Lina, than a dine and dash type arrangement where Kim just popped up her and there disrupting their lives. But Kim isn’t going to adhere to any type of permanent arrangement that would potentially interfere with her social schedule. Phil just has to figure out how to play that card to his advantage and get Lina what she wants. It won’t be easy though. Kim won’t rollover easy to benefit Lina in anyway shape or form. I feel like Kim sees Lina as a sappy wet nurse that has no business being on the same playing field with her.

          • janet says:

            Yup! I agree there Tracie. To use Laura’s word(even if it wasn’t intended that way), to Kim, Lina is a glorified babysitter. She won’t want to talk to her. Yet anyway. I think she is just as smart as Phil it not smarter and whole lot more cunning than Phil.
            Also, I can see Logan going off on Phil. They’ll have to make up again but Logan would definitely blame Phil for putting them in this situation. He will need therapy later from NICK! Bahahaha

          • Tracie says:

            Gotta let Nick go Salt! He’s all up in the arts now and I mean that literally LOL! I think Phil would let Julian counsel Logan before Nick!

            I see Logan’s relationship transitioning with Phil at this stage of his life. I remember my son and his dad having more man type conversations with his dad at 16. Don’t get me wrong, he still needed guidance, but it was if they were more manly type conversations. In Logan’s case, taking some of the sensitive out of his demeanor. I see that more in my own 16 year old grandson…It would be funny to hear Lina tell Logan that Liam is sensitive with Phil present and Logan says “no he’s not! Don’t say that, he’s a boy!” Phil would chuckle and say “Told you, he has the same blood pumping through his veins as me.” Lol.

  65. Laura says:

    Sorry everyone, but the scene won’t be done until tomorrow. I wanted Kim in it and haven’t reached her yet. Plus the Nationals are playing tonight

  66. BeeSA says:

    Won’t he think Kim is the woman who gave birth to him but Lina as his mother?

    I remember a lot from the age of of 4ish to about 6. Parents had a messy marriage leading up to the divorce. I barely remember stuff from early teens though.

    I wonder if he will remember Kim barely being in his life while he was young and Lina always being there when he was sick, scraped his knee, cheering him on at sport game etc

  67. Laura says:

    Happy Weekend!
    It’s kind of dreary here in the east. I’ll have the next installment up late tomorrow 🙂

    • Aida says:

      So fastttt, you are spoiling usssss. 😄

    • Tracie says:

      Laura I don’t know if you can slip it in or not, but maybe Logan calling Liam his little brother in front of Phil for the first time would be awesome. Phil was so caught up reminding Logan of DNA and he is your brother and Logan saying he’s not my brother…It would be an awwww moment for me and Phil….Phil has seen photo evidence and bonding with the Halloween scene, now let’s let him hear it!

  68. Aida says:

    Hi everyone,

    I have a question. I don’t know much about early child development. At 1.5 years old, after 6 months of living with Lina, can he already register that he has two moms? Or does his brain just kinda erase his attachment to Kim and forgot that he has had another mom? Because if the latter is the case, does that mean that he will grow up thinking he is Lina’s biological son? If so, what would happen later when he finds out that he has a different biological mom? Laura, I know you said that, as he grown older, he sees Kim as a distant aunt, so when does he stop remembering her as his mom? Thank you.

    • Tracie says:

      I think he will consider Lina as his mother. Because Lina is much more nurturing than Kim was and he has bonded with her. After six months He prefers Lina over Phil and he has been a constant in Liam’s life. Plus, over the six months he has become older and more settled in his routine. I don’t know if he will realize he has two mothers so young….

    • Tara says:

      I’d say he’s too young to remember Kim, at his age Lina would be “mom”.

    • Laura says:

      I’ve actually been reading about this for a couple of days. Some babies would remember, some wouldn’t — there is no right answer. I guess we shall see 🙂

      I do think at this point he identifies Lina as him mother. That’s not to say he wouldn’t recognize Kim.

    • Katie says:

      Good question Aida. I’ll have memories from infancy- like I remember this one room- the crib, curtains, lighting. The memory brings back a feeling of fondness. And my mom is amazed- it’s a memory from a babysitter I had at 3-6 months old. I think some children do remember people, things, feelings. Liam might not remember Kim as a mother figure, but he might have flashbacks of soiled diapers and the traumatic events from that one horrific babysitter. Who knows, maybe he’ll even have a few good memories, or just an unexplainable emotion (good or bad) about her. I don’t think we go through any traumatic situation unscathed though.

      • Tracie says:

        What do you girls think Kim’s reaction would be if Liam clings to Lina’s neck not wanting to go with Kim?

        • Aida says:

          I think her pride would be wounded, not so much her heart. She’ll be mad, not sad, and will probably take it out on Lina and Phil.

      • Laura says:

        A child of five remembers lots of things from the ages of one and two. By adulthood we have very few memories of from under the age of five.

        • Tracie says:

          He’ll definitely choose Lina then, but we all know there is no choice. Kim doesn’t want Liam, but that doesn’t mean she won’t make Phil and Lina think she might…The Bitch! I just made my own self mad!

          • Katie says:

            I don’t think she’ll care if Liam clings to Lina. She’s awful. If that little feeling called guilt tries to infiltrate her mind, I think she’ll just use Liam wanting Lina as a way to soothe it. “Oh, well, I’m off the hook, he (Liam) doesn’t want me anyway.”

    • Aida says:

      Thank you for the replies, everyone. Phil is right, Liam’s liam is not gonna be as easy as their other children. No matter what, he is gonna deal with the fact that he is different from the rest of his family and that his biological mom doesn’t want him. I’m glad he has Lina.

      • Aida says:

        ooops* Liam’s life

      • Tracie says:

        Aida I’ve always thought that too. Liam will have a great life with Phil and Lina as his mother, but there will always be the knowledge he doesn’t have the same background as their three other children with them having Lina as their biological mother. The scene in WPF where Lina as a teenager is reading Phil’s palm and hers is the same, the both have three lines together and then off a little is the fourth child, faint but there… Phil also says in the Epilogue of SN that Liam is on the only one at the graduation with 3 sets of grandparents….The Hunters won’t even think or notice what people say or care what they think, but Liam will know….

        • Aida says:

          I know right. It’s sad. As a kid, how would he perceive Kim’s parents? All children know is that grandparents are your mommy’s parents and your daddy’s parents, so how do Phil and and Lina explain Kim’s parents to him?

  69. Tracie says:

    Would Kim maintain a relationship with Liam through her parents? I can see them wanting him in NYC with them for visits as well. Lina is going to be concerned with Liam being away from her at such a young age with Kim’s parents. I think that would be a way for Kim to see Liam throughout his life without her having to deal with Phil.

    Laura would Lina say in front of Phil now, what she said in the Christmas scene “If only Kim never happened and I was his mama.” I can see her saying that with her struggle of letting Liam go for a visit. I can also see defiant Logan making an appearance about letting Liam go as well. Phil will feel torn knowing he has to let Liam go, so that Kim won’t upset the apple cart long term.

    Where is your mind running with this Laura girl…..I can’t wait to see…….

    • janet says:

      That sounds like resentment to me Tracie. Isn’t she beating Phil up by saying that?

      • Tracie says:

        I don’t know about resentment, I was thinking more along the lines that she wished Kim didn’t exist and Lina wouldn’t have to give Liam up to her at all if she was the mom. That’s why I asked Laura if she would say that in front of Phil. I can see your villain taking a pot shot at Lina like in the Mexican restaurant and Phil laying in to her about Lina being the mom, putting him to bed, etc….Also, Megan would be home around the holidays her opinion should be priceless…Lol

    • Laura says:

      Hi! I don’t think Lina would say that to Phil. She’s grown and moved past Kim. She no longer sees her as a threat. Lina’s concern will be for Liam who she thinks of as her own son. She doesn’t trust Kim and will be concerned for Liam’s emotional well being

      • Aida says:

        Hi Laura,

        Phil said to Lina once in SN that he wishes that Liam was hers. Do you think Phil is actually grateful that Kim is terrible and barely wants to see Liam? Also, what does he tell Liam about Kim’s parents? That they are his other mommy’s parents? I really love this scene, Laura!

  70. BeeSA says:

    I see Kim sent an email instead of a sms. No longer trying to interrupt him at home. She probably thought he’d only see the email at work. Maybe she’s finally over him but then again, old feelings may surface when she sees him face to face…

    • janet says:

      No longer trying to interrupt him? You don’t think it’s a deliberate tactic used to intimidate(if that’s possible) Phil? A text would have been more casual and less threatening but by using email, she’s all business, I wanna see Liam or else. I think Kim still wants Phil but hates him now.

    • Aida says:

      I agree with you, Bee. I think she knows any personal or “friendly” interaction she initiates would be rebuffed by Phil, so she wanted to beat him to the punch and be the cold one first. Perhaps she thinks, in email, Phil would be more formal than rude. Also, I find it very weird that she said she “has been thinking about him a lot lately”, like, lately? I really believe Kim sees Liam like a toy she can play with and abandon when she’s bored, hence the twice in 4 years reunion thing.

  71. Terry says:

    Hi gang! Sorry to be out of comission for awhile! So happy to come back and see these new added stories! Thank you so much, Laura!!

  72. Laura says:

    We already know from the epilogue that Kim only sees Liam twice in four years, so for a short time they don’t have to deal with her too much. Tracie is right on the timeline. They’ve had him six month when this scene happens – this is the first time Kim has bothered to check on him. Her parents are a regular part of Liam’s life, so that must start soon. I guess we will see 😊

  73. Katie says:

    Pool boy. Love it.
    I hate Kim.

    Hey Tara, do you have Bach To Rock Music School where you are? My daughter just started lessons there…I thought of your son, and how that would be a cool job for a musician in college. All of the instructors are young, super talented, multi-instrumentalists.

    • Tara says:

      We don’t, he takes his private lessons at a local music school, it’s not a chain. What is your daughter taking?

      • Katie says:

        Ukulele 😊

        • Tara says:

          That’s so fun, we went to an open mic night recently and there was a young girl playing one, it was adorable! I used to do bookkeeping for a private school, they had a fantastic music teacher and all the pre-K and kindergartens were taught to play, it was fantastic!

          • Katie says:

            Oh that’s amazing! She’s in public Kinder. We live in a great area with great public schools, but the schools are seriously lacking in the arts department.
            She wanted to take lessons after our trip this summer. There was live music every night at our hotel and, of course, the ukulele was a common instrument.
            I hope she takes to it. It would be a good activity for her. The discipline, and creativity, of playing an instrument.
            She’s a very interesting child- she thinks most things are “dumb,” including school. It’s like she can already cut through life’s bullshit. Lol. It’s hard as a parent though. What I’m saying is hopefully music lessons don’t become dumb to her.

          • Tara says:

            Unfortunately, the arts suffer in a lot of schools, public and private. It’s the first thing chopped when there are budget issues. My son didn’t discover music until he was a sophomore in HS, the music program in his elementary school was horrible. Private lessons are a great way to cultivate interest. We tried piano lessons when he was your daughter’s age, he had zero interest—now he’s regretting that! If the ukulele doesn’t pan out, maybe something else will catch her interest.

        • janet says:

          So cute! I hope she likes it too.

    • janet says:

      Don’t you guys love the drama? “I’ve been thinking a lot about Liam.” Hmmm. Why Kim? To the point and not even a hello. Does she want to screw with Phil’s head or is she curious? Sorry, but I missed her.

      Tara, here’s your consequence. They have to deal with her forever.

      • Tara says:

        Janet! Let’s be honest, dealing with her while Liam is growing up is realistic consequence—the Catholic in me sees it as one really long penance, Phil should appreciate that (maybe not in a good way).

        • janet says:

          I was against this in SN because I didn’t want Lina nor Logan for that matter, to suffer anymore but you are right. Realistically speaking, unless she is dead or relinquish all her rights to Liam, Kim will be in their lives until Liam is an adult. If she mellows out with age Lina will appreciate that. Phil, never. He will always hate her no matter what.

          • Tara says:

            It’s a curious scenario, I wonder how this plays out in real life. For some reason it feels more realistic for the mom to be a single mom, but obviously that doesn’t mean the scenario in SN doesn’t happen.

            I know we love Lina being Liam’s “mom”, but it would have been interesting to see how the dynamic would have played out long term if they’d shared custody with Kim being in their lives week in and week out. How hard would this have been on everyone’s relationships?

  74. Tara says:

    A cliffhanger! That was fun! Thanks 🧛🏻‍♂️

  75. Tracie says:

    Laura I wish you could him me squeal…..I loved it…..Everything from Liam crying over LoLo leaving to Phil noticing his sons looks…My steamy and how well Katie is doing…Loved the matching costumes too….You are awesome sweet lady..can’t wait for the Kim interaction…Thank you dear friend for keeping our Hunters alive….Once again BRAVO 👏😘

    • janet says:

      Ooooh! That was a mother of a cliffhanger! I can’t wait till Kim sees Liam. Loved her curt email. LOL. Thanks Laura for our treat!! Is the pool boy cute btw?!

      • Tracie says:

        Laura is playing this perfect. It’s 🎃 so Lina and Phil have had Liam for 6 months. Thanksgiving, his BD and Christmas is coming up and what a way to work the parents in to Liam’s life. Maybe the parents will want Liam for the new year or attend his BD party. Lina meeting Kim’s parents awkward…..So many avenues Laura could take….

        • janet says:

          How do you remember the dates? I thought they had him for a year. Ok!

          • Tracie says:

            I’m a nut about timelines. I like to see how many months, etc it takes for emotions to evolve, relationships to change, etc…I hate books that give me unrealistic timelines. Laura’s are always spot on.

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