Logan and Jay at the Park

It killed me to get rid of this part, as it was the only one in the book with anyone interacting with Jay. It’s a short scene when Logan and Jay take the kids to the park while Paige’s family stage their little “intervention.”

I’m pushing Elliott in his lightweight stroller down the sidewalk toward the little neighborhood park with Jay sauntering next to me and my daughters prancing and skipping a few steps ahead of us.

“All right,” I say to Jay in a low tone so the girls won’t hear. “What’s going on?”

My brother-in-law’s mouth parts slightly, and I see his eyes flicker behind the dark lenses of his sunglasses. “Dude.”

“No, come on,” I say, having no mercy for him. As the only other non-Waters family member here, he needs to show some solidarity, god dammit. “Level with me. They basically kicked us out of there.”

As we turn follow the curving of the road, Jay heaves a sigh, his lips flattening. “They have…concerns.”

I fucking knew it. “About me?”

“Yeah? I guess?” He shrugs. “Sorry. I’m just trying to stay out of it.”

Well, I already guessed that. Up ahead, Abi and Freya veer off the sidewalk toward the small, blue play set, and when we reach the park bench, I bend down to unstrap and lift Elliott out of the stroller. As soon as I let go, he takes off after his sisters.

Jay and I throw ourselves down on the bench, watching the kids climbing and sliding on the play set. I don’t bother pushing him to say more. I’ve known him for years, longer than he and Mia have been a couple, because the two of them became friends in college, but it took them way more time than everybody else to figure out that they had a thing for each other. Then all of a sudden they were obviously more than just friends, surprising exactly no one.

Jay’s not the talkative type, though. He’s more of a thinks-before-he-speaks kind of guy—levelheaded, easygoing, and dependable—all good traits to have when you’re an ER physician, I’m sure.

I actually had serious doubts how long his relationship with Mia would last. My sister-in-law is…special? That’s a nice way of putting it. She marches to her own tune, says and does whatever the hell she wants and hang the consequences. She’d drive me nuts if she were mine, and I’m pretty sure she does Jay, too. Somehow they’ve made it work, though. Guess they complement each other.

“They’re having some sort of family meeting, is all I know,” Jay offers at length, reluctantly.

“Mia didn’t tell you anything else.” Not sure why I say it as a statement rather than a question. Maybe because I don’t want to admit how much I’m dying to know what’s happening back at the house right now.

“Well,” he says, hesitating, probably conflicted in his loyalties. On one hand, there’s us—both guys, both outsiders of a sort in the Waters family. On the other, there’s his wife, who I’m sure is everything to him. As mine is to me.

Rubbing the back of his neck and grimacing, he finally goes on. “She—and Gwen especially—complain a lot about how Paige refuses to tell them anything. You know, about you guys. Your relationship. So I’m guessing they’ve had enough and are going to confront her about it.”

My heart sinks into my stomach. “Fucking great.”

“Yup,” Jay says slowly.

As if Paige’s week hasn’t been shitty enough already. I shoot up from the bench, pace a few steps, and then stop with my hand braced on my hips, staring at the quiet, idyllic, neighborhood street that leads back to the house. This is such crap. I need to go back and put a stop to it.

“Better to stay out of it,” Jay comments behind me, as if he can read my mind. “Paige can take care of herself.”

Well, yeah. That’s absolutely true, but still. Sounds like her family’s planning on ganging up on her, and the need to have her back, to be with her in her corner, is like an ache in my bones.

She probably wouldn’t appreciate it, though. No, if I went back and barged in on a family meeting, it’s more likely she’d get annoyed that I thought she needed my help. I’d probably find her in the middle of successfully ganging up on them, all by herself.

With the skinny comfort of that thought, I turn back and head toward the play set. Because I might as well enjoy this unscheduled time with my kids.

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