The bedroom was lit only by the soft glow of moonlight streaming in from the open patio doors and the low flickering candlelight. Kristin Westphalen sighed and once more lifted her hand to look at the ring on her finger. The candlelight glinted off the diamond making it sparkle. She rolled over and snuggled closer to the man next to her. His arms automatically folded around her and pulled her close to his side Kristin shifted her body until she was stretched out over him and looked down into his eyes. "Yes." she supplied with a soft smile as she brushed her lips in a feather light caress over his.
"Yes, what?" Nathan responded with a smile.
"Yes I'll marry you." Kristin finished softly.
Kristin could see the smile that lit his eyes as his hands rose, fingers threading through the heavy curtain of her hair and he pushed it back off her face. He studied her face as though committing each curve and hollow to memory.
"Nathan there's something...." she began but never got a chance to finish as he bent his elbows to draw her lips down to his. His kiss drove all thoughts of what she was going to say from her mind and they were once again lost in sweet arousal.
It was early when Kristin awoke with Nathan's arms locked tight around her. She smiled and, not wanting to wake him, slipped carefully from his arms. Kristin pulled on her robe and leaned down to press a gentle kiss to his bare shoulder before slipping quietly from the bedroom.
Kristin was just carrying her tea to the dining room table when the doorbell rang. She glanced at the clock on the wall and frowned. "Who the hell could that be so early on a Saturday morning?" she grumbled as she turned and headed for the front door.
The teacup fell from Kristin's nerveless fingers and shattered on the ceramic tile floor, hot tea splashing up over her legs. "Oh God." she gasped.
"Hello." the woman said and stepped past Kristin into the house. "I don't believe we've met. I'm Carol... Nathan's wife."
"Uhm...yes." Kristin started, slowly regaining her composure. "But.."
"But what?" Carol Bridger stated flashing Kristin a winning smile.
"Uhm nothing." Kristin replied.
"I don't mean to be rude but could you tell my *husband* I'm here."
"Yes..yes..of course." Kristin said and stepped away. She didn't see the look of pure triumph Carol Bridger shot her as she opened the bedroom door and stepped inside.
Kristin closed the door behind her and leaned back against it. *Oh God this can't be happening * Kristin thought and was unable to stop her tears. Yesterday they had been so happy had made so many plans....and so many dreams and now those dreams were shattered in one swift fell swoop.
Taking a deep breath and brushing the tears from her cheeks Kristin crossed to the bed and sat down beside Nathan. Her hand trembled as she reached out to shake him gently. "Nathan?" she called out quietly. "Nathan wake up."
The man stirred rolling onto his back and opened his eyes. "Good morning." he smiled and raised up on his elbows to give her a kiss. Kristin turned her head away before his lips could complete their journey.
"Kristin, what is it? What's wrong?" Nathan questioned with a disturbed frown.
"There's someone here to see you. They're waiting in the living room." she told him in a voice she hoped was devoid of emotion.
"Who is it?" Nathan questioned but Kristin did not answer him. She merely got up from the bed and crossed to the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
Nathan's frown and worry grew as he got out of bed and pulled on his robe.
Kristin leaned back against the bathroom door and listened as Nathan opened the door and stepped out into the living room. She winced and closed her eyes against her tears when she heard his shocked outburst. "Carol.....Oh My God, Carol."
Kristin quickly pulled on her clothes then grabbed her car keys and purse from the dresser. She moved swiftly towards the front door keeping her eyes averted from the living room. Her hand paused on the door handle and she closed her eyes when she heard Nathan call after her.
"Kristin...wait... please Kristin.. Don't go."
"Let her go, Nathan." Carol's voice followed. "We need to talk."
Yanking open the door, Kristin stepped outside letting the door slam behind her and ran to her car.
Tires squealed as she backed out of the driveway and pulled away from Nathan's condo. By the time Kristin reached her own condo, just up the road she was sobbing. She stopped in front and looked up at her home. After a moment she turned her head and looked back over her shoulder in the direction of Nathan's house.
She couldn't stay here. She couldn't live this close and see him...see *them* every day. Turning around Kristin drove to UEO Headquarters, not even looking at Nathan's house as she drove past.
Secretary General William Noyce picked up the phone as it rang for attention. "Yes Marie? Oh yes show her in." Noyce finished and hung up the phone. He got up from his desk, moving around it just as his office door opened.
"Kristin." he smiled but that smile quickly faded when he saw that her eyes were red from crying. "God, Kristin what is it? What's wrong? Did something happen to Nathan?"
"Nathan." Kristin whispered softly and Noyce could see her tears start again. "I guess you could say that." Kristin began to explain. "Carol is alive." she paused at Bill's sharp gasp. "She showed up at Nathan's house this morning."
"Ah hell, Kristin I'm sorry." Bill stated softly, solicitously. "So what are you going to do?"
"What can I do she's....she's his wife." Kristin choked then paused a moment to get her emotions under control. "Bill I can't stay here. I can't work here and see him every day and know that he's going home to her. I'd like a transfer."
Noyce wasn't surprised. "All right Kristin. It just so happens that we have an opening in our Hawaii facility. The head of Marine Biology just quit....."
"I'll take it."
"When would you like to start?"
"Right away. Tell them I'll be there in the morning. I'll let my solicitor worry about packing and selling the condo."
"All right." Bill nodded. "Is there anything else?" he inquired softly.
"Just one thing. Please don't tell Nathan about this. Don't tell him where I am."
"All right. I'm sorry Kristin, truly sorry. I know how much you love him. How much he loves you."
"Yes well he's not mine to love anymore." Kristin stated softly "And I'm sure he'll get over me soon enough. Uhm tell Janet I'll give her a call just as soon as I am settled."
"I will." Noyce said
"Thank you Bill." Kristin said and held out her hand.
Bill took it and quickly pulled her into a comforting hug. "Janet and I are always here if you need us. Just remember that." Bill stated softly.
"I know." Kristin replied as she choked back her tears and stepped away.
Bill watched, his heart filled with compassion as she turned and slipped from the room.
When Kristin arrived home she saw that there was a message waiting for her. She instinctively knew that it was from Nathan and she knew that she couldn't look at it. She couldn't see his face again and do what she had to. Her hand trembled as she reached out and hit the delete key then she took a deep breath before calling her solicitor.
"I want this taken care of by the end of the day." she told him. "I have a ticket out on the 6:30 flight to Honolulu."
"All right Kristin I'll take care of it. Are you sure I can't change your mind?" the man asked quietly.
"No. This is the way it has to be."
"And you expect me to believe that you've had amnesia all this time?" Nathan asked incredulously.
"Yes, because it's the truth. I woke up in that hospital bed with no memory. I didn't even know myself let alone that I had a husband." Carol stated.
Nathan looked at her with a frown.
"You do believe me, don't you?"
"I guess I don't have a choice." Nathan said as he got up and headed for the bedroom.
"Where are you going?"
Nathan turned around to face her. "Carol you can't come barging in here... drop this all on me and not give me time to process all this. I've had a life for the last two years.... and I need time. I just need time." he finished as he stepped into the bedroom and closed the door.
Dread and fear filled Nathan as he saw the moving van in Kristin's driveway. He stopped his car and got out moving towards the house just as a man he recognized as Kristin's solicitor stepped outside.
"What's going on? Where's Kristin?" Nathan demanded.
"I'm sorry Nathan but she's gone and she's not coming back.. She did leave this for you." he said and held out a pale lavender envelope.
Nathan took the envelope wordlessly. "I'm sorry." the solicitor said quietly as he turned and headed back inside.
Nathan moved listlessly back to his car and slid behind the wheel. He apathetically started the engine and turned his car around. As he pulled away he didn't see Kristin watching him from her car just up the road.
A short distance down the road Nathan pulled over to the side and opened the envelope.
He instantly recognized the delicate flowing script on the soft lavender paper.
My Darling Nathan,
I want you to know that this is perhaps the hardest thing that I have ever done in my life. I never knew it would be so hard, letting you go.. Oh God this hurts so much! But I have no choice, that was taken away from me the moment your wife walked through that door. You belong to her, just as you always have.
It was a wonderful, beautiful dream while it lasted. But know this, my love, I will always love you. I will always think of you and you will always be in my heart. I wish you all the happiness in the world. That's all I've ever wanted for you.
Please don't try to search for me. It will be too hard to see you again. I could not look at you, hear your voice and keep my courage. This is the way it has to be. You're not mine to love anymore.
Just know that I am well and while I may not truly be happy I will be fine. I love you Nathan and that love is strong enough that I have the courage to let you go.
I love you and will love you until I take my last breath.
Lucas Wolenczak moved purposefully down the hallway to Secretary General Noyces' office. It had been nearly 5 months since Kristin had left and he was a teen on a mission. Minutes later he entered the office and Noyce greeted him with a smile.
"What can I do for you Lucas?"
"I know you know where Dr. Westphalen is?"
"And I want you to tell me. I need to see her."
"I'm not sure I can do that, Lucas. When she left she specifically ..."
"Please." the teen asked quietly. "Things just haven't been the same since the Doc left and she came back."
"I take it you don't care for Carol Bridger?" Noyce questioned.
"The bitch!" Lucas swore then realized who he was talking to. "Sorry, but I can't help what I feel. The Captain...well he's just not the same person. And I need to see the Doc. I *have* to know she's okay."
"I understand Lucas. " Noyce said. "I've seen the change in Nathan too and Carol, well she's just not the same Carol I knew. There's something different about her. All right I'll tell you where Kristin is but you have to promise me that you won't tell Nathan. I gave Kristin my word."
"Okay." Noyce moved back to his desk and wrote on a slip of paper. He folded it and came back to Lucas. "Here you are." he said as he held it out.
"Thanks." Lucas said as he took the slip of paper.
"You're welcome. Tell Kristin I said hello."
"I will." Lucas finished as he turned and slipped from the room.
Lucas stepped off the plane and slung his knapsack over his shoulder. He moved through the airport and stepped outside into the sunshine. After securing a taxi, Lucas settled back in the seat.
"Where to?" the driver asked.
"Uhm," Lucas stated then fished the paper from his pocket. "79-1257 Ala Moana."
"Right." the driver responded and pulled out into traffic.
It was nearly a half hour later when the taxi stopped in front of a beach house. "Here we are."
"Thanks." Lucas replied as he got out and moved to pay the driver. As the taxi pulled away Lucas paused to look at the house. He took a deep breath before moving up the driveway to the door. He rang the bell and waited for an answer. It didn't come. There was a car in the driveway so he knew that someone was home. Besides he had called the UEO and they had told him that the Doc was working at home today. Lucas moved off the front step and walked around the back of the house.
He was about to climb up the stairs to the deck when he saw the familiar figure standing down at the ocean's edge. She had her back to him but Lucas knew it was her.
"Doc?" he called out and she turned instantly at the call.
"Woah!" Lucas breathed when she turned around.
The soft ocean breeze played with the edges of her sun dress and molded the cotton to her bare legs and the soft gentle curves of her pregnant abdomen.
"Lucas." Kristin smiled. "My God it's really you." she added cheerfully as she moved towards him.
Lucas met her partway and they shared a warm hug.
"What are you doing here?" Kristin questioned when they'd pulled apart.
"I was concerned about you and made the Secretary General tell me where you were."
"I see. Did you tell Nathan?" Kristin asked softly.
"No, but....you are going to tell him about the baby. Aren't you?"
"Why not? He has a right to know."
"Yes he does but if I tell him he will leave Carol and come to me. I have to know he makes that choice because it's me he wants and not out of some obligation to the baby."
"The Cap would never do that."
"Perhaps not, but that is the way it has to be."
"You haven't seen him the last few months since she came back. He's not happy.. he rarely smiles anymore. He's not the same person. She's changed him and not for the better."Lucas snarled.
"And how do you think this has been for me?" Kristin stated softly, tears in her eyes. "You know the first time I felt the baby move I was so excited and went directly to the vid phone to call him.. Then I remembered...." her voice trailed off.
"Its gonna be okay." Lucas stated quietly. "Would it be all right if I stayed with you for awhile?"
"Of course Lucas, you can stay for as long as you like and I'd be grateful for the company.
Carol Bridger released a frustrated sigh as she lay curled on her side in bed. It had been 6 months since she had returned and even though they shared the same bed, Nathan had yet to make love to her. Oh she had tried, plenty of times but he always had some excuse not too.
She felt Nathan shift in bed next to her and smiled when he rolled over and snuggled close to her. He pressed himself close and she could feel the heat of his erection pressed tantalizingly in the curve of her buttocks. She wiggled back against him and was rewarded by his low moan. He slipped an arm around her and breathed in her ear. "Kristin..."
Carol pulled away from him as though she was burned. She stood beside the bed and looked down at him. He had curled up in the warm space her body had left and was still asleep.
She glared down at him. "We've had a ghost between us for too long now Nathan, but no longer. No longer." she vowed softly.
Bill Noyce looked up when his door opened and smiled when Nathan stepped into the room. "Well Nathan. How are you doing?"
"Fine Bill, just fine." Nathan replied with a smile, but Noyce could see that the smile did not reach his eyes.
They moved over to the sofa and sat down chatting lightly for a moment then Nathan asked quietly "How is Kristin doing?"
"What makes you think I keep in touch with her?"
"If you don't I know that Janet does."
Bill nodded. "She's....fine. Lucas is with her right now."
"God," Nathan sighed as he hid his head in his hands. "Have I been so wrapped up in my own sorrows that I haven't even considered Lucas."
"It's okay. Lucas was worried about Kristin. He's been with her for the last month. He's also worried about you."
"Are you? Come on Nathan, I've been your friend since we went through the Academy together. That's almost 40 years. What are you not telling me?"
"I'm not sure how I'm doing Bill. In that first year she was gone I prayed every day to have Carol back. I wanted her back with me so badly and then...."
"You met Kristin."
"Yes. I didn't want to love her Bill, but she just has a way about her." Nathan told his friend, a soft smile touched his lips. "And I fell hard and fast. When I realized I was in love with Kristin I knew I loved her more than I had ever loved Carol. Now that Carol is back and Kristin is gone. It's Kristin's face I see when I sleep. It's Kristin I wish were beside me in bed. It's Kristin I want to make love to. She's the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. I realize that while I may still love Carol I am no longer in love with her. What we had was wonderful but I moved on and I find that all the laughter, all the color and passion in my life is gone. Kristin took that with her when she left."
"So I take it you're not going to stay with Carol."
"No. I want to go back to Kristin. If she'll have me."
"I know she will." Bill smiled. "I know this wasn't an easy decision to make. I know it's not one I would want to make. When are you going to tell Carol?"
"Tonight. There's no sense in prolonging the inevitable. Then I'm going back to Kristin. That is if you will tell me where she is."
"Of course I will." Noyce smiled.
Carol was standing outside of Noyce's office and heard the whole conversation. She fought down her fury as she moved away and headed outside. It was now time to take action, drastic action.
"Nathan before you go there is something else I need to speak with you about." Bill said.
"Well since we've been discussing Carol... Nathan we have a problem and I didn't want to say anything until we were sure."
"Sure about what?"
"Well there's been a leak in the UEO for the last 6 months. It started just after Carol came back."
"And you think Carol is this leak?"
"I'm fairly certain she is. Several highly classified documents. Documents from projects that only you and I and a few other high security personnel have had access to, including the seaQuest, have suddenly appeared on the open market. For sale to the highest bidder. I know I didn't leak that information and I know you didn't do it. We've ruled out every one else involved as well. The only thing left is, you've taken those documents home with you and..."
"Carol would have had the opportunity to copy them." Nathan supplied softly.
"That's our theory, yes. But right now it's only a theory. We need to catch her red handed so to speak."
"I just don't understand why? Why would she do something like this?"
"Nathan she's been out of your life for two years. She's not the same person you knew."
"What would you like to do?"
"Set up surveillance equipment in your house."
"All right. Carol should be out of the house for the next few hours. She told me she was going shopping."
"Good. I'll get a team right over there."
Carol stood before the vidphone and waited for the call to connect.
"What is it? Is there a problem?" the man asked as soon as he appeared on the screen.
"No but if you want me to continue in my assignment I need a favor."
"What is it?"
"I need you get rid of someone for me."
"All right who is it?"
"Kristin Westphalen. She's assigned to the UEO facility in Hawaii."
"Consider it done."
Once the man had ended the call Carol smiled. She picked up her purse and left the house. She had told Nathan she was going shopping and had to at least have something to show for her supposed whole day of shopping.
It was a few hours later when the security crews had finished installing the surveillance equipment. Nathan followed them out of the house and into the van, waiting until Carol came home.
The man Carol had spoken to sat quietly in a car just outside the beach house at 79-1257 Ala Moana. Minutes later the door opened and two people stepped out. He recognized the woman as his target and lifted the rifle to his shoulder. He had her in his sites and as his finger squeezed the trigger she moved slightly so the heart shot he had aimed for went wild. He saw through the scope her mouth open and release a surprised cry as crimson blossomed on her chest. He didn't wait to see if she was dead but drove away in a screech of tires.
It was nearly and hour after they had finished installing the equipment when Carol returned home. Nathan and Bill watched through the monitors as she entered the house and called out for Nathan. When there was no reply she set her shopping bags down on the couch and moved over to Nathan's desk in the corner of the living room. She opened his briefcase and rifled through the files until she found what she was looking for. She pulled several folders out and photographed to contents of each.
"That's it, we've got her." the security officer in front of the monitors stated.
"Not yet. Just wait." Noyce said quietly.
They all watched as Carol moved to the vidphone. It took several seconds for her call to go through. "Well is it done? Did you kill her?"
The man paused for a moment and debated whether or not he should tell her the truth. He decided a lie was better than facing her wrath. "You know how good a shot I am. Of course the Westphalen woman is dead." he chuckled evilly.
As Carol's laughter filled the small van so did Nathan's cry of grief.
"Kristin...Oh My God NO!!" he sobbed.
"We've seen enough." Noyce told the security guard as he put a comforting arm around Nathan's shoulders. "Arrest her.
Nathan let Bill lead him from the van and stood watching as security led a handcuffed Carol from the house.
She saw him and called out. "Nathan, Nathan you can't let them take me. I'm your wife."
"Not for much longer." Nathan stated coldly. "I can't believe that I thought I knew you. I can't believe that I actually loved you. Was it a lie, our whole life together?"
"As a matter of fact....yes. I was working for them even then. You only saw the Carol you wanted to see." she said with a sneer. "Sweet loving Carol. The perfect wife , the perfect mother...the perfect mole."
"Why, why Kristin? She was no threat to you."
"But of course she was. She had your heart darling and I couldn't allow that. I couldn't allow her memory to come between us."
"And what about Bobby..." Nathan let the question hang in the air.
Carol looked like she wasn't going to respond and then she flashed him a smile. "You want to know if I was responsible for his death?"
Nathan's only reply was to nod his head.
"I suppose I will tell you. Yes....I gave the ship that torpedoed his the coordinates. Kill two birds with one stone so to speak." she added with a laugh
Bill saw a look enter Nathan's eyes that he had never seen before and he prayed he never would again. He honestly thought that if he got the chance Nathan would have strangled her on the spot. Only his restraining hand on Nathan's shoulder held the other man back.
"She's not worth it Nathan." he spoke softly. Nathan turned his head to look at Bill and the other man saw the light go out of his eyes. Bill knew then that he would never again see the man he called friend. That man had died with Kristin, had died with Carol's betrayal.
"Get her out of my sight." Bill stated quietly. There was no emotion on Nathan's face as Carol was led over to a car and put inside.
As the car pulled away the security officer still inside the van leaned out. "Sir, I have an urgent call for Captain Bridger. It's a Lucas Wolenczak."
At this Nathan moved from Bill's side and climbed back in the van. He sat down in front of the monitor and met the teen's grief stricken gaze with one of his own.
"Lucas, I" Nathan began and couldn't stop the tears. "I know she's dead."
"But she's not." Lucas began.
"What? What did you say?"
"The Doc's not dead. She's in surgery. The doctors say that it doesn't look good but she's still alive."
"Where are you? I'm on my way."
"The hospital on Ala Moana."
"Hang on Lucas" Nathan finished and as soon as the call ended Noyce took over and called the UEO to arrange for a jet to be waiting to take Nathan to Hawaii.
Minutes later the van pulled up on the tarmac just in front of the jet that waited.
"Good Luck Nathan." Bill said quietly as Nathan got out of the van. "Janet and I will keep Kristin in our prayers."
As soon as the plane touched down, Nathan was on his way to the hospital. He entered and found Lucas in the waiting room.
"Lucas?" he called out and the young man lifted his head.
"Captain." he said as he moved towards him and they shared a hug.
"What's happening? How is she?" Nathan questioned as they moved to sit on the chairs.
"A nurse came out a little while ago to say that she had made it through the surgery and was in recovery. That was the last thing they told me." Lucas finished then paused a moment before resuming. "Captain there is something else you have to know."
"What is it?"
"Well, the Doc wanted to tell you herself but she waited because she said you had to leave your wife and come to her of your own free will and not because of..."
"Because of what?"
"What?" Nathan breathed in a stunned whisper.
"Please don't be angry with her. She didn't want you to choose her just because of the baby. She wanted you to come back to her because you love her."
"I'm not angry Lucas." Nathan said quietly "Not at all." he said as slipped an arm around Lucas' shoulders. "I'm just afraid, very, very afraid." Nathan admitted softly.
Several minutes passed and then Nathan looked up to see a doctor coming down the hall.
"I'm looking for Kristin Westphalen's family." he said quietly as he stopped and looked around.
Nathan got up, fighting down his dread as he approached. "I'm Nathan Bridger, her fiance."
"I'm Doctor Stevenson. I've been treating her since she arrived."
"How is she Doctor?"
"Well she's holding her own. Frankly, given the extent and severity of the gunshot wound when she arrived I didn't expect her to make it this far but your woman is a fighter. The bullet nicked her aorta and narrowly missed her spinal column. All in all she's a very lucky woman but I'm afraid she's not out of the woods yet. The next 24 hours will tell."
"And the baby?"
"Well, at first I was worried that the shock to Kristin's body would cause the baby to go into fetal distress but so far that hasn't happened. I did an ultrasound and have the baby on a fetal monitor. Right now the life signs are strong and healthy."
"That's good." Nathan smiled. "Can I see her?"
"All right." the doctor agreed.
Nathan paused in the doorway of the dimly lit ICU room and looked in at Kristin. He took a deep breath and crossed to her bed. He shuddered when he saw her so pale and still, hooked up to equipment that breathed for her and monitored her life signs. Nathan reached out to rest a hand on the gentle curve of her abdomen. "Hang on little one." he murmured softly before moving to the head of the bed. He leaned over and pressed his lips to Kristin's forehead.
"Hiya Kris." he murmured softly. "I'm here Baby. You have to fight this. You have to come back to me because ....I love you and we have a wedding to plan."
Nathan sat at Kristin's bedside, never moving, throughout the night. The silence of the room was disturbed only by the nurses who came into the room every half hour to check the equipment that monitored both Kristin and the baby.
Nathan was just about to nod off when he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder.
Nathan looked up to see a nurse standing beside him. "What is it? Is something wrong with Kristin?" he questioned fearfully as his eyes darted to Kristin.
"No she's fine, sir. There's a call for you, from the UEO. Secretary General Noyce."
"Thank you." Nathan replied and scrubbed his hands over his face as though to rub away the tiredness. Nathan got up and leaned down to brush his lips over Kristin's forehead. "Back in a minute Sweetheart." he murmured softly then stepped away and followed the nurse from the room.
"You look like hell?" Bill Noyce stated when Nathan appeared on the vidscreen
"Thank you so much, and hello to you too." Nathan grumbled.
Noyce flashed him a tolerant and concerned smile. "How's Kristin?"
"Holding on. She's still unconscious and the doctors say the baby will be fine." Nathan added absently.
"Come again? Baby?"
"Oh, I guess you don't know. Kristin is pregnant." Nathan supplied with a half smile.
"Well I guess congratulations are in order and when Kristin is better Janet and I are gonna throw you both the biggest damned party you ever saw. "Noyce replied with a grin then "Give Kristin our love."
"I will. Now was there another reason you called?"
"Yes as a matter of fact. I thought you'd like to know that they found Carol dead in her cell about two hours ago. They suspect her accomplice did it to keep her from talking." Noyce said and paused, gauging Nathan's reaction.
"I see." he replied quietly.
"That's all you can say? "
"What, you expect me to feel sorry she's dead? I'm sorry to disappoint you Bill. Carol's been dead for me for the last two years. The last 6 months haven't changed that. She destroyed our life together and then she tried to destroy the life I've built the last two years. I'm sorry it had to end this way but any residual feelings I had for her she effectively killed when she showed me what she really was."
"I understand." Noyce said quietly. "There is something else. While going through Carol's things we found some journals. They go back to long before she met you and detail everything she did. Uhm she says that she never knew her accomplice by name., just a contact number. So there's not much we can go on in trying to find him. I might let Lucas try his hand at this and see what he can do to find him. Anyway Carol says she left two years ago because...well when you left the military you were no longer a source for the secrets she was seeking. She stayed for awhile and then faked her death. She's been seeking and selling secrets for the last two years. When she heard that you had returned to active duty she knew you'd be a useful source again and reappeared. She also says that she arranged for Robert....well he found her journals and when he found out who and what she was he told her he was going to tell you. I guess he never got the chance. I guess..."
"Please Bill, but I don't I want to hear anymore." Nathan said quietly as he closed his eyes and released a sigh. " I just want to put this all behind me. Try to forget and move on. Rebuild the life she tried to destroy."
"I think that's wise Nathan." Noyce agreed "I know it's not going to be easy."
"No it's not but as long as Kristin and the baby are all right then I can move on. If they're not well...." Nathan let the statement hang. "Look Bill I really have to get back to Kristin. I'll call you just as soon as I have any news."
"Okay. Take care Nathan." Noyce finished
The black haze of unconsciousness slowly lifted from her mind. Kristin panicked when she felt the strong push of air being forced into her lungs. Logic soon overrode that panic when she realized she was on a respirator. She relaxed and let the machine do it's work. Several seconds later she opened her eyes. The room around her was dimly lit and quiet except for the soft hum of monitoring equipment.
*Oh God, my baby* she thought and the panic rose again until she turned her head and saw the readout on the fetal monitor. The life signs were normal. If she could have sighed, she would have. Kristin turned her eyes away and saw Lucas curled up asleep on a cot at the foot of her bed.
Turning her head to the other side Kristin couldn't stop her tears when she saw Nathan sleeping with his head on her bed. Because she couldn't speak Kristin lifted her hand and rested it gently on his head, fingers stroking his hair tenderly.
Nathan awoke immediately at the soft gentle touch and Kristin moved her hand as he lifted his head to look at her. "Kristin.." he breathed softly, almost as though he couldn't quite believe she was awake and looking up at him. Then she saw the tears enter his eyes. "Oh God you're all right." he added in a soft whisper as he stood up and leaned over her. He pressed his lips to her forehead, tears falling to dampen her skin as he murmured. "God, I thought I'd lost you."
Lucas smiled and slipped quietly from the room, leaving them to their reunion. There was time enough for him to speak to Kristin later. He moved down the hall and after a quick search found Kristin's doctor.
"She's awake." he told Doctor Stevenson and the man smiled.
"That's good." he added and followed Lucas down the hall.
"Well it's about time you woke up." Stevenson smiled as he stepped into the room and crossed to the bed. He paused a Kristin's bedside and looked down at her. "I guess you're ready to come off this respirator." he stated and Kristin blinked in response. "Okay." Stevenson said and turned to shut off the machine. He turned back to Kristin and removed the tape that held the tube in her mouth. "Okay Kristin I need you to exhale as I start to remove the endotrach tube then cough once it's out."
Once the tube was removed Dr. Stevenson gave Kristin a sip of water. "Now your throat will be sore for the next day or two." he explained quietly.
"My baby?" Kristin croaked hoarsely and squeezed Nathan's hand.
"Well as I told your fiance. I was worried when you first came in that the shock to your system would put the fetus into distress but that hasn't happened so far. We've been closely monitoring the life signs and they are strong and stable. I was also careful to use drugs that are known not to pass the placental barrier. I've taken every precaution to make sure your little one stays strong and healthy.' he smiled
"Thank you." Kristin whispered with a smile.
"You're welcome. Now as for you. If you continue healing as you are I suspect you will be up and around in a few days. "
"My pleasure." Stevenson smiled then turned and slipped from the room.
"I'm glad you're okay." Lucas stated with a teary smile.
"Thanks to you." Kristin replied and pulled him into a hug.
Once they separated he gave her another smile. "Well now that I know you're gonna be okay I think I'll go back to the beach house and get some sleep." Lucas leaned down and gave Kristin a quick kiss on the cheek.
"I'll walk you out." Nathan offered and gave Kristin's hand a squeeze as he stepped away. "I'll be right back." he told her then followed Lucas from the room.
Nathan walked Lucas outside and they paused in the early morning sunshine. "Thank you Lucas. For everything. I don't want to think what would have happened if you hadn't been here when..."
"It's okay." Lucas said quietly. "I was here."
Nathan pulled Lucas into a tight hug. "See you later." he offered when they'd pulled apart.
Lucas nodded and Nathan watched as he moved to the parking lot where he had left Kristin's car hours earlier.
Nathan smiled as he stepped back into Kristin's room and resumed his seat in the chair beside her bed. She smiled and held out her hand. He took it drawing it to his lips to brush a kiss across the back before holding it close to his chest.
"I'm sorry Nathan." Kristin said softly.
"Hey what have you got to be sorry for?"
"For leaving like I did. For not seeing you one last time but mostly for not telling you about the baby."
"Lucas told me why you didn't and I understand your reasoning. There's no need to apologize for that. If anything I should be the one to apologize to you."
"For everything that's happened. I should have made Bill tell me where you had gone and come after you right away. If I had then you probably wouldn't be here."
"So why are you here? What about Carol?" Kristin was surprised at the hate that entered his eyes momentarily before it disappeared. Nathan sighed and slowly began to tell her everything.
"I just can't believe I was so blind that I didn't see her for what she really was. If I had..."
"Nathan don't you go blaming yourself. This wasn't your fault. Carol made her own choices. They were her decisions, not yours. I don't want you blaming yourself for something that isn't your fault."
Nathan looked at her and gave her a smile. "What would I do without you." he asked softly then frowned as Kristin winced. "What is it? Are you in pain."
"No," Kristin replied as a smile crossed her features. "I just got kicked in the ribs. This little one is very active right now." She added then took Nathan's hand and interlaced their fingers. She drew it beneath the covers and under her hospital gown to rest against the warm skin of her abdomen. "Right here." she added softly as she stopped their linked hands over the spot where the baby was kicking.
Kristin turned her head to watched Nathan and smiled softly at the emotions that chased across his features. When he turned back to look at her there were tears in his eyes.
"Oh God, I love you so much." he murmured softly before leaning down to kiss her tenderly.
"I've been thinking." he stated much later. "I'm going to sell the condo. I can't go back there not after what happened. I thought that we could find a house together, that is if you still want to marry me?"
"Of course I want to marry you. That's never changed." Kristin said softly.
"So you'll come back to New Cape Quest with me?"
"Of course. Although I don't know how Bill will react when I tell him I want another transfer."
"He'll be thrilled."
"Oh I'm sure he will be." Kristin quipped dryly.
"He and Janet send their love by the way."
Kristin smiled then she paused. "Nathan I've been thinking too."
"About what?" he said as he gently kissed her fingers.
"Well lying here has made me realize just how fleeting everything can be. And I realize that we shouldn't waste another precious moment. What would you say if I told you I don't want to wait to get married. I want to get married here in Hawaii."
"I think that's the best idea you've ever had." Nathan finished as he leaned forward and they sealed the promise with a gentle kiss.
One week later Bill and Janet Noyce stood with Lucas on the beach at sunset and watched as the UEO chaplain married Nathan and Kristin.
Three weeks after returning to New Cape Quest and settling into their new home, Kristin went into labor and at 8am on a beautiful sunny morning, baby girl Bridger made her noisy entrance into the world.
Nathan stood in the doorway of the bedroom and looked in on Kristin as she sat cross-legged on the bed, nursing their newborn daughter. If he died tomorrow Nathan knew this was the image he wanted to take with him. His family was complete again. As if she sensed his warm perusal Kristin looked up and smiled. She held out her hand and Nathan crossed the room. He moved onto the bed and settled back beside her, slipping his arm around her shoulders and pulled Kristin closer to his side. Nathan reached out to brush a tender hand across the top of the baby's soft russet head.
"She looks like you." Nathan observed quietly as he watched the baby greedily consume her dinner.
"Heaven help her." Kristin muttered dryly as her fingers brushed over the tiny fist resting on the curve of her breast.
"I think in a few years I'm going to have to beat the young men off with a stick." Nathan chuckled as he continued to caress the baby's head. "She's going to be as beautiful as you are." Nathan finished and turned his eyes to study Kristin.
"You're such a sweet talker." Kristin murmured and saw the smile in his eyes as he leaned down and kissed her lightly.
"I just can't believe she's really here. After everything that happened I just..." Nathan admitted softly.
Kristin pressed silencing fingers to his lips. "Let's not talk about the past. What matter's is now.... you and me and Faith." Kristin said as she glanced down at the baby. "The past is over and the future can't be seen. And sometimes, my darling, well sometimes you just have to jump off that bridge and build your wings on the way down."