‘Dad did you and mum love each other?’ Brodie is having dinner with his father tonight, just the two of them. Thomas has seen the hullaballoo surrounding his son’s love life, and of course, witnessed the debacle at his wedding in the autumn. He really liked Blu, she is the first woman to have made Brodie fall out of step with that closed persona; his last born son is the guarded one of the family; it is hard to read Brodie sometimes, the only ones who seem able are his siblings, until Blu came along, with her sass, smarts, and everything else, to throw him off kilter. He’d liked getting to know her, loved her for his son and adored their coupling. He and Leila did something right, five things specifically; their children. Did they love each other?

‘What kind of a question is that?’

‘A simple one dad.’

Brodie dishes out the noodles onto plates; his father is an avid cook, loves the precision and he often compared it to surgeries. On the rare occasion he was home, when they were younger, he would play a cooking game with them in the kitchen assigning them different tasks as they got dinner ready. Those were good times, fun times growing up. Brodie cannot remember his parents ever having fun together and things only got worse after the divorce.

His father met someone, another surgeon, got married in a small ceremony in Marylebone, which all the children attended- much to the chagrin of their mother- and they seem happy. They live in a world far removed from the world of Leila Sterling. Thomas Phillips found the love that eluded him for thirty-five years married to a woman he came to understand would never love him. Things with Leila were not bad, they just were never good; they were not around each other long enough for things to be good between them. She had the children because it was expected of her, sometimes it felt like she was over compensating for something that wasn’t there but three weeks after the birth of each child, she went right back to work and the children were raised by a team of nannies and child care experts. He was no better at parenting, he too had a demanding career which he was exceedingly good at and respected for, so their children turning out alright was to neither of their credits, but their army of helpers. He loved Leila, at one point in his life he would have done anything for her, but thirty-five years and the only thing to show for their union is five children and not a lot of love, despite living a life the world thought was charmed…it was time to move on. Apart.

Their loveliest moments were tied to the births of their children, outside of that they had nothing. Still, Leila blew the roof when he told her he was getting married, she didn’t even fight the divorce when he served her papers, but him moving on with another woman threw her off. She took swipes at them in the press, made life even more difficult for Andi, his wife. They stayed civil for the sake of the grandchildren whom they both adore to pieces but even that was an uphill battle of competition. She wanted to be the favourite, the most loved, damn near forbade Andi to be around them if it wasn’t for their children who stepped in and set her straight. He’d taken to doing things to please her in hopes that she would stop with the attacks in the press but all that got him was grief from Andi, and she has a point.

Thomas saw the pictures of Brodie and Lana, he knew it bothered his son that the press was in his life, he loathed their intrusion into their lives; it is one of the reasons he moved away to New York. He managed to live under the radar, as much as they would allow, and maintained the close circle of friends he has. Against his mother’s wishes he invited Andi to the wedding; his son and his ex-wife’s relationship was often on tenterhooks, with one defying and the other annoyed at said defiance. To make matters worse, Blu and Andi got on like a house on fire.

‘So how are things with you and your girlfriend?’

Brodie smiles, his father would rather not answer the question. They sit opposite each other at the small round table in the kitchen. ‘Where Andi tonight?’ he doesn’t answer his father’s question either.

‘She’s on call, left early.’

‘How are things between the two of you?’

‘Good. Better.’

‘I heard mum was causing some problems.’

Thomas shrugs, ‘she’s your mother Brodie, she’s dealing with a lot.’

‘Hm.’

‘What?’

‘Nothing.’

Thomas laughs a little, ‘I’m sorry about the press brouhaha with you and your lady friend.’

‘Her name is Lana dad, and no she is not my lady friend or any kind of friend for that matter. Mum tried to set us up over lunch, I told her it wouldn’t go anywhere and the press saw us coming out of the restaurant afterwards and that’s that. I haven’t spoken to her since.’

Thomas knows that tone, irritation, Brodie is skittish and likely wants this left alone. ‘Have you spoken to Blu?’

‘No, she’s changed her number and we only communicate through our friends, if you can call that communicating.’ This thing with Blu irks him, he feels stuck; he didn’t come back for her or so he keeps telling himself, work was also a good excuse, but they need to talk and move them on.

‘So you had no idea what was or is going on with her?’

‘Nope.’

Thomas sighs, ‘Brodie my boy, I’m really sorry about everything.’

‘So you don’t hate her?’

‘Why would I? I’m disappointed in her for how she hurt you, but we don’t know the facts, you are the only two people in your relationship, despite outside interference. What I know about her I liked, or like. She was good for you, you were good for each other. She loved you, so…’ Another sigh. ‘Do you want me to hate her?’

‘No, I just… mum had a different reaction that’s all.’

‘Your mother and I are two different people son, so that’s understandable.’

‘There was a moment when everything was happening, after Blu took off, and everyone was shocked as to what to do, you were going to go after her, I think Andi was already on her feet, but mum just sat there. She didn’t move, didn’t react…’

‘I didn’t notice anything, it was all, as you say, chaotic. Why is this coming up?’

‘I was surprised by mum’s reaction. Still am to be honest.’

‘I’m sure it was nothing.’

Brodie wasn’t so sure it was nothing. He clears up the table and loads the dishwasher before joining his old man in the garden of his home in the suburbs of St John’s Wood.

‘I loved your mother Brodie, but love simply wasn’t enough. Don’t hold that against her.’ Thomas looks sideways at his son. ‘Now, what are you going to do about you and Blu?’