Bonus: Deleted chapter from Playing At Love

This is a chapter I cut from Playing At Love for reasons of space. But I still love it and want to give it a home here. It would have been late in the book, after Conor has returned home to Dublin and while Felicity is visiting her ex-husband.

Knocking twice, Conor let himself into his parents’ home. It was the house he had grown up in, with the back garden where Rogue had made its first stabs at creating something meaningful as a band. Tidy and middle-class, the home had been well-maintained over the years. The improvements his parents had only recently, grudgingly allowed Conor to pay for included new furniture and a kitchen renovation, along with fresh paint and carpeting to bring the space into modernity. Despite the passage of time and the changes, he always felt a sense of relief and ease when he walked in the front door.

He heard the television coming from the living area and his mother and father bickering in their familiar, playful way about whose turn it was to make the next cup of tea.

“Your favorite son is here,” Conor called out.

In fact, he was their only child. After years of trying, his parents had given up hope of conceiving and he was a “surprise” to them in their late thirties. Now they were nearing their seventies but age hadn’t slowed them down.

“How do you like these, Ma?” Conor asked, holding up the bouquet of fragrant tuberose flowers he had brought with him. He had started years ago bringing his mother flowers whenever he visited. At first it was as an apology for not visiting often enough, then it became a habit.

“They’re lovely, sweetheart,” Meara Quinn said, accepting both the flowers and a kiss on her pillowy cheek.

“I’ll get a vase,” Gerard Quinn said, clicking off the TV. He pushed out of his easy chair with a spring in his step Conor knew was owed to his visit.

It was such a simple thing to make his parents happy. A quick visit or even a call. Every time he saw them he vowed to visit more often. But then he let life and his own interests take hold and before he knew it a month had gone by without seeing them.

“Sit with me,” Meara urged, and the two sat on the floral patterned sofa together. “So, how’s my boy?” Her smile was eager as she pushed her reading glasses into her mostly gray hair and examined him.

“Fine, good. Just back from the States.”

“Here we are,” Gerard said as he returned to the room with the vase. He handed it to his wife and then squeezed Conor’s shoulder warmly. “Nice of you to pop by, son.”

“I know I should stop in more often.”

“Ah, we understand, Conor. Lord knows you’ve got your obligations.”

“Oh yes, Felicity told us a bit about the tour plans,” Meara said. She busied herself with arranging the flowers she had dropped into the vase and placed on the coffee table before them.

“What do you mean? She came to see you?”

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