A White Picket Fence — Bonus scene
This scene begins on the same day Lina is on the boat with Nick…
Phil noted that Lina’s car wasn’t in the garage as he followed Katie into the house. “Where’s your mom?”
“I don’t know.” Katie frowned. “I was with you.”
“Did you get the car?” Logan joined them in the kitchen, his attention focused on Katie.
Katie held up the keys to her new car.
“Where’s Mom?” Phil asked.
“I don’t know.” Logan shrugged.
“She just left without saying anything?” Phil asked.
“She said she’d be back tonight. I’m going to look at Katie’s car.” Logan headed out to the garage followed by Katie.
Phil sighed as he opened the refrigerator which, unlike the one at the Farside house, was stocked with food. He pulled out a beer, one of only two left, and opened it as he headed to the family room. He wondered if Lina would buy more of his beer.
He glanced at his watch. It was just after two. Mike would be there within the hour to help him move the rest of things. The thought of returning to his empty rental brought a physical pain to his chest. He hated the place. It didn’t matter how nice the property was — it wasn’t his home. He dropped down on the couch, spreading his legs wide as he leaned back into the cushions. His eyes focused on a family photo displayed on the end table to his right. His chest expanded as his gaze zeroed in on Lina – his Lina. A surge of pain rocked through him. It was unfathomable, the thought of a life without her. He shook his head. He wasn’t letting his thoughts go there.
He reached for the remote and turned on a college football game, staring unfocused at the television.
He heard Logan’s voice in the kitchen a few minutes later and called out for him to join him. “Sit down and watch the game with me.”
“I have a lot of homework,” Logan mumbled, avoiding his eyes.
“I’m only going to be here another half hour or so. I’d like to spend some time with you.”
“We’re going to the Raven’s game tomorrow.”
“Fine.” Logan dropped down on the couch.
He wondered how long Logan’s anger would last. He took a swallow of his beer. “I’m surprised you weren’t watching.”
Logan shrugged, noncommittally.
“What did you do last night?”
“Nothing. Just hung out with Brian.”
Phil’s grip tightened on the beer as his thought quickly shifted to Nick Prossi. “Where?”
“Here–he went home this morning.”
Phil forced his thoughts away from Drayton. “How’s Mom? Logan?” he pressed when Logan didn’t answer.
“What?” Logan frowned at him.
“I asked you how your mom was?”
“I thought you wanted to watch the game.”
“Hey—I asked you a question.”
“She’s fine.” Logan crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back into the couch. “I don’t want to talk about her with you.”
Phil took a breath, striving to maintain his temper. He wasn’t used to this defiant Logan. “I love her, Logan. Nothing is ever going to change that.”
“She’s fine,” Logan repeated. “You don’t have to worry about her. I’ll take care of her.”
“You’ll take care of her?”
“I mean, I’ll make sure she’s safe.” Logan’s face heated. “I’m the one here.”
Phil felt a twist in his gut at the realization that Logan was the only male presence in the house. If there was an intruder it would be Logan, not himself, protecting the family.
The sound of the doorbell had Phil looking toward the front of the house. “It’s your uncle Mike. He’s going to help me get a few things.” He came to his feet, but hesitated before leaving. “If anything ever comes up, you know to call me, right? Anything at all”
“Yeah, Dad, I know.”
“Thanks for coming,” Phil said as soon as Mike stepped into the foyer. “You can start with the boxes in my stud. The rest is upstairs.”
“Hi, Uncle Mike,” Logan said joining them.
“Hey Buddy.” Mike dropped an arm around Logan’s shoulder and pulled him into his side. “You look like you’ve grown another few inches. You’re going to pass your father soon.”
“Do you need any help?”
“No,” Phil answered. There was no way he was going to let Logan have a memory of moving him out. “You can finish your homework.”
Logan’s gaze shifted to Phil’s bandaged arm, but he didn’t argue, instead walking off down the hall.
Phil nodded toward the study. “The boxes are behind my desk. I’ll be upstairs.”
As soon as Phil entered the master suite he was assailed with Lina’s familiar smell. He paused just inside the room. It had only been two weeks since he left, but he felt like he’d already lived an eternity without her, not that what he’d been doing was living. At best, he’d been existing.
His throat constricted when his gaze settled on their bed, her bed now. The thought of never lying beside her again was almost too much to bear. He sat down on the edge of the mattress and gripped his forehead with his good hand. He didn’t want to do this. He didn’t want to remove his things from the room. It was too final.
The sound of a clearing throat had Phil springing to his feet. He turned his back to Mike as he quickly swiped at few stray tears. “Everything is in the wardrobe.”
“Are you okay?” Mike’s voice was full of concern.
“No. I’m not okay Mike. I lost my fucking wife.”
“Don’t say anything. There’s nothing you can say.” He proceeded Mike into the closet.
“Here let me do it,” Mike said, reaching around Phil to remove several hanging suits. “I can do it faster myself.”
Phil scooped up a pile of lounge pants with his good arm. “I’m helping.” He just wanted it to be over.
An hour later, Mike delivered the last of Phil’s clothes to the closet in the Farside house. “Well, that’s everything.”
“It’s a nice place,” Mike said.
“Yeah,” Phil agreed.
“Why don’t you come over for dinner. Jeanie’s—”
“No thanks.” Phil followed him down the stairs and to the front door. “I’ve got some work to do.”
“You can’t keep going on like this,” Mike said. “You look like shit. When was the last time you eat?”
“Thanks for your help. You can leave now.”
“Jesus, Phil.” Mike tried to clasp his shoulders, but Phil backed away from him.
“Don’t.” Phil’s eyes widened as he looked at his brother. “You can’t make this better okay? So, just go.”
“I’m just worried about you.”
“Don’t be.” He hated the look of pity in Mike’s eyes.
“Anything you need, just call. Day or night.”
“I’m not going to fucking kill myself if that’s what your worried about.”
“I’m not. But you’re my brother and no matter how much you fucked up, I still love you.” Mike put his arms around Phil and gave him a firm hug. “You don’t have to pretend around me. I’ll know how devastated you are. I know how much she means to you.”
Phil pushed back from his brother, holding on to his composure by a thread. “I just need to be alone,” he said. “Please.”
Mike clasped his arm. “Call me anytime.”
As soon as Mike left, Phil leaned his forehead into the closed door. He breathed in and out, trying to maintain control. He’d put himself here. He wasn’t going to feel sorry for himself. He pushed off the door and made his way to the kitchen and the bottle of scotch he’d left on the counter.
He poured himself a glass and sat down at the kitchen island. He took a long swallow, savorig the burning sensation as it went down his throat. He’d been drinking too much. He knew it and yet it was the only way he could numb the pain.
Phil woke with a start. It took him a moment to orient himself. He was in the family room of the Farside house. He looked at his watch. It was almost eleven which meant he’d been asleep for four hours. He dragged his hand down his face. He felt like shit. He picked up his phone and tapped the display, bringing up the tracking ap. Lina was home. Logan was home. Katie was home. They were all safe. He leaned back into the couch.
He didn’t bother to go to bed, instead he watched television most of the night, flipping through the myriad of channels, searching for anything that would distract his thoughts. He drifted off to sleep for a couple of hours between five and seven and then he got up to get ready for church.
When Phil was halfway up the driveway he spotted Lina. She was wearing yoga pants and one of his Georgetown Law sweatshirts, the hem falling half way down her thighs. Her hair was pulled up in a messy bun. It was a scene he’d seen a thousand times. His Lina —the words played again and again in his mind.
“What are you doing here? It’s barely nine.” She continued to stare forward.
“I’m picking them up for church. They didn’t tell you?”
“No.” She continued to avoid his eyes.
He noticed Knight as he saddled up beside him, pressing a ball against his thigh. Phil took the ball and launched it across the yard. “You’re welcome to join us.” He stepped closer toward her, trying without success to make eye contact.
“No.” She turned back toward the house.
“Why haven’t you looked at me since I arrived?” he asked. “What are you feeling so guilty about?”
When he noticed her cheeks heat, he knew she was lying to him. She’d been with Drayton. He felt a wave of nausea at the thought.
“Dad?” Katie called from the house, “Can I just go to a later service? I—”
“Don’t argue with me. Get your brother and let’s go.” He felt rocked with devastation at the thought of Drayton touching her. “I’ll have the separation agreement drawn up this week. Try to refrain from seeing him until it’s signed.”
“I’m not,” she insisted, even as her blush deepened.
“Don’t bother lying to me. The truth is all over your face.” He strode away from her and toward his car.
“As your lawyer, I have to counsel you against this.”
Phil frowned at the family law attorney sitting across from him. “I don’t want your counsel. I just want you to put what is on that sheet into the separation agreement.”
“But it’s insanity. You’re giving her more than—”
“I’m giving her what she deserves,” Phil interrupted. “I don’t care what you think, okay? She’s my wife and this is what she deserves.”
“What if she’s someone else’s wife? Would she still deserve this? Because the reality is she will probably remarry and when that happens another man is going to benefit from your life’s work.”
Phil looked away from the attorney as a wave of pain swirled in his chest. The thought of Lina married to someone besides him was unnatural. “If that happens that’s my penance.”
“Fuck, Phil. What are you Catholic or something? You need to take some time and think about this. You didn’t work this hard to give it all away.”
“I worked this hard for her. To take care of Lina and my kids,” he said his voice breaking. “That’s all that matters, so write up the fucking agreement or I’ll find someone else to do it.”
“Okay.” The attorney held up his hand. “Okay.”
It was close to nine before Phil left his office, in no hurry to go back to the Farside house and his new reality. He was almost to his car when he saw Kim getting out of the car parked beside his. It was the first time he’d seen her since the wedding. She was noticeably pregnant. His gaze rested momentarily on her rounded stomach before his eyes lifted to hers. “Call my lawyer,” he said coldly. “We have nothing to discuss.”
“Considering we are going to share a child,” she began running her hand over her baby bump, “I think the least we can be is civil with one another.”
“Civil?” His eyes narrowed. “Was that card to my wife civil?”
“I don’t know how many times you expect me to apologize.”
“You could apologize for the rest of your fucking life and I wouldn’t forgive you. Now get the fuck away from me.” He brushed past her.
“Phil.” She clasped his arm. “I—”
“Don’t,” he snarled, pulling his arm from her grasp. “I have nothing to say to you.”
“We are going to be in each other’s orbits. You can’t just ignore me. It isn’t healthy for the baby.”
“Fuck you!” He growled, pointing his finger in her face. “You went out of your way to hurt the only woman I will ever love — a woman who is pure and decent and good and did nothing to deserve it. And you…” he shook his head. “You are the woman I will regret for the rest of my fucking life.” He yanked open his car door. “Stay the fuck away from me.”