Wait. There's more.
At her husband's funeral, Kate discovers that her deceased husband had been sleeping with a colleague, Joy Stuart, one of Kate's oldest friends and the wife of a really great guy. Ben Stuart was best friends with Kate's late husband, and has always been there for her.
In this excerpt from Wrongfully Accused, Ben comes upon Joy and Kate in the deceased congressman's study, where Joy has spent the past several minutes berating Kate for being a bad wife who "didn't deserve" her husband.
The door to the study opened and Ben Stuart stuck his head inside. “There you are,” he said to his wife. “What are you doing in here all alone?”
“She’s not alone,” Kate rasped around vocal cords that felt frozen. Joy couldn’t have hurt her more if she’d taken a stick and beaten her with it.
He stepped further into the room. “Oh. Sorry, Kate. I didn’t see you. I’ll, uh, leave you two to talk.”
“Oh, believe me, we’re done,” Joy said. She brushed by her husband on her way out.
Ben seemed momentarily startled, then moved toward Kate. She was struck, as always, by the calm he carried with him. Ben was a handsome, athletic man who seemed oblivious to his looks and appeal. His green eyes studied her from behind tortoiseshell glasses as though she were one of his heart patients.
“Are you okay?” he asked, squeezing her hand.
“I will be,” she managed. Once she recovered from Joy’s pummeling.
“What a terrible day this must be for you.”
Terrible didn’t begin to cover it. “It’s hard,” she said.
“So much harder when someone is torn away from you suddenly, the way Drew was.” He shook his head in that concerned way of his that she found so endearing. “And dealing with all these people. My God, Kate. There must be a hundred guests here.”
“It’s important to bring everyone together.” She gazed down at her black high heels, unsure what to say next. “I think you should take Joy home. She’s had too much to drink and...she’s grieving. She needs you now.”
He was silent for a moment, and Kate mentally kicked herself for saying too much. Even if Joy and Drew had been sleeping together, she wouldn’t want that knowledge to hurt Ben.
“What about you?” Ben asked. “Who’s going to take care of you?”
That's Ben—unfailingly kind and thoughtful, unlike the other people in Kate's life, including the hero (at least at this point in the book). When I was writing this scene I actually considered changing the story to make Ben the hero. He's handsome, intelligent and compassionate and he cares about Kate. Later on in the story he repeatedly has Kate's back. Definitely hero material. But she and Gabe had a passionate, if painful, history and it was their story after all. Still, I always felt that Ben deserved better than a cheating wife. At the end of the book...well, that would be giving it away.
So now I'm writing Ben's story. It takes place in Scotland, where he's gone on a leave of absence from his cardiology practice to decide what to do about his life, and whether to give his marriage a second chance. It's nighttime, and he's in a camper at the summit of the highest, most treacherous road in the highlands. A fierce storm has blown in from Iceland and a frantic young woman is banging on his door. It seems there's been a terrible accident...