Christina rubbed her face wearily as she looked back at her reflection. She pulled on the ends of her now sleek and straight hair, cursing her decision. She could do this, all she had to do was work and make it out of the hospital alive and go.

Christina set her eyes on the dress she was going to wear tonight. It was the last dress she had bought before…

She looked down at her watch; "CAMILLE, HURRY UP! WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE!"

It was only a quarter to six in the morning and already she could hear her daughter singing some rock song loudly in her room.

'Way too early for this'

She rolled her eyes as Camille finally came down the stairs, looking quite preppy in skinny jeans and blue camisole, her hair the complete opposite of her mothers. She looked happy, to happy for a person who had to go to school at six.

"What on earth are you listening to now?" Christina asked irritably, catching the small white ear buds in her daughter's ears.


Her mother gave her a look.

"Hey, it's not my fault that Mr. Butler decided to rehearse before school started. Besides, you won't allow me to drink coffee and I need a way to get prepped." Camille explained as Christina pushed her towards the door.

"Yeah, yeah. Just don't play that thing so loudly. I do not need you to bust your ear drums."

Camille smirked, "Don't pretend you don't like rock music. Who was it I heard singing Pink Floyd in the shower last night?"

Christina slowly turned to face her daughter after locking the house. She was so sure that Camille was asleep last night when she decided to sing. She forced herself not to turn pink.

"Not now, Camille."

Camille smiled smugly and let her mother walk past her; she noticed the dress bag and her mother's straight hair.


Christina hesitated to lie; she saw Camille's eyes follow the dress as she put it in the back of the car.

"Not exactly." She slid into the car, praying that her daughter wouldn't figure it out. The last thing she needed was a fight this early in the morning.


Unfortunately, Camille was able to figure it out. The young girl laid her head back and sighed, "No. Mom you cannot do this."

"Oh, when was it that I need your permission to do something?"

Camille allowed her voice to soften; she knew her mom was touchy on this subject. As touchy as she was.

"Are you sure you want to go there? I mean, you and dad went before he died. Isn't that enough?"

It was only one week ago when she, Camille, and Amada drove to Virginia Beach to scatter Michael's ashes. It was something long overdue, but in the end felt right.

It should have been enough.

The damn US Capitol building, twenty years exactly, was where Christina and Michael first saw and met each other.

It was a school field trip; she remembered looking around bored to death. She had seen the Capitol a billion times; she only lived a few minutes away.

She remembered begging her mom for her to stay home, it was such a ridiculous school trip.

She almost didn't go…

The room was cold, which was such a relief because outside was hot and humid. Christina pulled her skirt lower, not really paying any attention to the tour guide. She wasn't in any sort of mood to listen.

"Now if you will all follow me to the hall, there are quite a few amazing art pieces, then to the chambers."

Christina rolled her eyes and suppressed a smirk. The guide was way too perky about her job. She hung back as her class continued to walk out without her.

She knew her way back to the buses.

She looked at the rotunda. The art was so intricate; the gold contradicted the white pillars beautifully. The fresco painted in the middle made the rotunda even more interesting look at.

Maybe this trip wasn't so bad. She took her camera out, wanting a picture for her mother.

She craned her neck up, but still couldn't get a good view.

"It helps if you lay down." Suggested a male voice behind her.

She spun around and looked up. He was tall, really tall and looked a bit older than her, maybe a year or so. He had short black hair and light brown eyes.

"Excuse me?"

The guy smirked and pointed at her camera, "It helps if lay down, that way you get a better angle."

Christina looked at him for a second and then at the rotunda.

"Do you honestly think I'm gonna lay down on this nasty floor for a picture?"

She suddenly felt defensive; her guards were up and high. Why did she feel nervous all of a sudden?

"You're taking a picture, not eating off it. Besides there's no one here." He waved his hands around to prove his point; they were the only ones in the room.

That didn't mean she was going to do it.

The guy could sense her apprehensiveness.

"Trust me."

Oddly enough, she did.

She laid down on her back. Surprisingly, he was right. She snapped a few picture and got up quickly, wiping off the dust from her skit.

"See, that wasn't so bad." The guy grinned, he stuck out his hand. "My name's Michael Hawthorne."

Christina could only imagine what her face looked like as she looked down at his big hand. She was never this nervous with guys; she could feel the heat creep up her face.

"This is the part where you shake my hand and tell me your name." Michael joked easily.

Christina shook her head and smiled back, her small hand become enclosed in his. It felt warm and smooth.

She liked it.


Michael's grin grew wider, "That's a real pretty name." He let go her hand and her mood instantly plummeted.

"This maybe a little too forward, but do wanna grab a bite or something?" He pointed his thumb towards the hall.

"Yeah," she smiled "I'll like that."


Camille jutted her into reality.

"I," Christina struggled with the truth, forcing her tears down. "I'm fine."

Camille didn't look convinced one bit.

"You can come if you want." They finally arrived at the high school, Christina waited patiently as Camille slowly gathered her belongings.

"I don't think so."

She figured as much. Maybe the beach was Camille's final goodbye. But for some reason she couldn't shake off the feeling that she wasn't fully done with Michael yet.

"I love you." Christina called out; getting a half hearted wave in return. "Love you too, mom" she mumbled underneath her breath as she pulled away from the school.

The hospital was pretty quiet when Christina walked in. She didn't feel like lugging her backpack and dress bag to her office just yet.

"Hey," Bobbi clapped her clipboard on her shoulder, she seemed happy this morning. Christina was sure she was with Nick last night.

Bobbie nodded at the heavy bag that Christina was holding tightly too. "Wicked witch of the west gave you more paper work to do?"

"What do you think?"

Bobbi shook her head, "I don't get, I thought everything was fine between the two of you. What happened last week?"

Christina set the bag down on the floor with a loud thud. "Nothing. You know Amanda. She just wants everything up to date. With Candy gone, she wants to make sure we have enough nurses."

"You already hired two new nurses." Bobbie picked the bag up, making a face when she realized it was heavier than thought. "What the hell does this woman want from you anyway?"

Christina slowly took the back from her friend's hand, "To do my job."
"Okay." Bobbie shook her head, not believing her for a second. "You're full of it." She said grinning. She pointed at Christina's hair, her eyes now dark. "What's with the hair?"

"Can't a person do a little something different?"

Bobbie eyes turned to slits, she noticed that Christina was planning to walk away and blocked her before she could. "Yeah…but this isn't something you usually do. Not even on a good day."

Now it was Christina's turn to get angry, "Drop it, Bobbie."

Of course Bobbie didn't drop it. She never did. Instead she grabbed Christina's arm when she started to walk away.

"You're going, aren't you."

Bobbie knew well enough not to ask and knew Christina too well to know that she was going.

"For God's sake, why do you keep putting yourself through this drama?"

Christina exhaled slowly; she knew Bobbie was just trying to watch out for her. The few weeks after Michael died; it was Bobbie who pushed her to come to work. She was like an anchor through thick and thin.

"It's just something I have to do."

Bobbie's eyes soften when she heard how morose sounding Christina was. "Do you want me to come with you?"

Christina shook her head, "No," Bobbie looked at her incredulously, "Really, you don't have too."

Before Bobbie could reply the ER doors opened. Bobbie sighed and looked back at her friend.

"Duty calls."

Bobbie cursed, "You're telling me."

"What do we got boys?" Christina yelled out.

Nick pulled the gurney next to the bed. Strapped tightly to it was a fifty-ish year old man, African-American, gray thinning hair, and large glasses. His head looked swollen, and he had a nasty gash on his head and chin. Christina hissed, his legs looked mangled.

"What the hell happened to him?"

Wally looked just as disturbed at the sight. "According to witnesses, lost control, swerved and hit these two." He pointed to a couple coming in.

They looked pretty young, early to mid-twenties. The guy didn't look to be in bad shape, but the girl was clutching her arm.

"Is he going to be okay?" the girl asked them.

Bobbie went over to her, "Let us worry about him. Let's see what going on with your arm." She pulled the curtain around. "What's your name?"


"Well, Halley, that looks bad." Bobbie cringed; she could tell the arm was dislocated. She turned to the nurse next to her, "Better call ortho." She rested the patient medical form next to Halley. "Fill this out in the mean time, okay?"

The guy, her boyfriend, cleared his throat. Bobbie smiled, already assuming the worse. "Do you need to be checked over?"

The guy rolled up his sleeves, "Nothing."

"Yeah, but there could always be a something. You're going to have to be check out. Just in case."

"Yeah, sure. But can you help her out? She hasn't been feeling so good for the past two months."

Halley gave him a seething look. "Justin." She looked at Bobbie with a reassuring smile. "I'm fine. I've just been having back pain for the past couple of weeks."

Justin rolled his eyes, "Yeah, and headaches, fevers, and she lost ten pounds within a week while eating massive amounts of junk food."

Bobbie frowned, "That true?"

Halley gave her a meek grin. "Maybe?"


"Hey, Kelly, you found anything?" Christian asked, after calling ortho for the man's legs.

Kelly was looking a bit green, "Yeah." She held up the man's ID. "Mr. Ahmed Raheed." She handed the card to Christina.

"Wow, all the way from Baltimore?" she looked down at the man again. She shook her head in pity, "I'll get one of the techs to call his family."

Kelly looked over at her with confusion, "You're not staying with us again?" she sounded a bit hurt.

"I wish. But not today."

The young nurse pouted, "This is like your fifth day or something. Is Amanda at it again?"

Christina frowned; apparently word of her battle with Amanda was spreading around the hospital.

Christina sighed, feigning positivity, "She just wants me to do my job. It's not personal, just business."

Even that sounded fake to her.

Kelly gave her a small smile. "Well, good luck then."

Christina thanked her and grabbed her bag and dress from behind the desk. Unfortunately for her she couldn't make it to the elevators on time.

It had to happen sooner or later.

She was just hoping it would be later…much much later.

"Christina." She usually never cringed at Tom's voice, even when he yelled at her. But this time…

She slowly turned around and pasted the most happiest and prepped up smile she could muster. Behind Tom were a bunch of new interns, eager and curious looking than the last bunch.

"Yes, Dr. Wakefield?"

"I'm glad I bumped into you today." He was frowning, Christina was sure that he was looking at her hair and by the way he had stressed the last word, he wasn't so "glad". She had been avoiding him for the last couple of days. At least she had a reasonable excuse, to bad it wasn't the truth.

"These are our new interns." He turned to them. "Everybody this is Richmond Trinity's Chief Nursing Officer, Christina Hawthorne."

The interns didn't look so impressed; to them a nurse was just that, a nurse.

Tom, noticing the unenthused response, cleared his throat awkwardly. "Anything you would like to share or advise, Christina?"

She looked at Tom and then at the interns. There were four girls and three guys. The girls seemed dolled up for people who knew they were going to be interning at a hospital. Christina was sure that the guys had sprayed cologne or some type of after shave before leaving to come here.

Some part of her knew that no one took medical ethic classes seriously.

"Sure." She clapped her hands together; the words were already forming in her mind. "How many of you watch those drama filled medical shows?" she watched their expressions. None spoke up or raised their hands. "You know what I'm talking about right? Those shows were the doctors make out in the closets or have sex in the stair well, or date their superiors."

The girls were slowly raising their hands now, along with two of the tree guys. Christina looked at the third guy and raised her brow. "Like you don't watch." The man blushed.

"Look here are the rules. No making out what so ever, I don't care what you outside, but here, you will get written up. No sex in stair wells, and no, you all aren't allowed to sleep in the beds, those are for senior surgeons only. If we see you, we will terminate you." She pointed at them, "And don't think that the elevators are safe either, the guards will put any embarrassing videos on the internet."

The interns gave a look of disbelief.

"Hey if you don't believe me, ask Dr. Collins why we call "Dr. Hotpants." "

Tom coughed, "Christina."

"I'm almost done."

He shook his head, he really didn't want to stop her. He made a mental note to warn Collins.

"Please, no nicknames for the doctors. No Mc-anything." The girls looked a bit disappointed, Christina smiled at them. "If I hear anyone call Dr. Wakefield McSexy, there will consequences."

"Christina!" Tom cheeks were red as the female interns looked him over with interested.

"And one more thing, you all are interns, I don't want any of you playing the "holier than thou" card on any one of my nurses. Got that?" Her voice was filled with malice, and she looked a lot more dangerous than anytime Tom had seen her.

The interns looked surprised and a bit scared. "Yes, Nurse Hawthorne." They answered in unison.

Tom looked between them and Christina now confused and slightly impressed.

"That's all." Christina smiled cheerfully, waving good at them before walking away.

Tom smirked, "And with that note, welcome to Richmond Trinity." He couldn't help but laugh a bit at the still shock faces on the interns. "Find your assigned doctors, class dismissed." He watched them scurry away before he rushed after Christina.

"Hey, Christina, wait up." She was only three feet away from the elevators when he called her again. She could feel her face cringe again. Why couldn't he just take the hint?

"Yes, Dr. Wakefield?"

He frowned at her; she could tell he was still looking at her hair. "Are you okay?"

He was being nice again…

She lifted her bag higher on her shoulder again. "I'm great." She lied. "Now if excuse me." She was so close to pushing the up button, but he grabbed her wrist.

"No you're not." He pulled away from the elevators. "You've been avoiding me for the past few days now. What's wrong?"

So he had noticed.

She forbid herself from looking down at his hand which were still holding her wrist. His hand felt warm against her skin. She cursed her decision to wear a short sleeve jacket and camisole. She knew her heart was beating ten times faster than usual. Hopefully, she wasn't turning red.

"It's nothing; I got a lot of paper work." She lifted her bag to prove her point. "See."

His hold on her loosed, she was half thankful and half disappointed in that.

"This doesn't have anything to do with what happen at the beach, does it?" Tom could see her face darken a bit. He couldn't understand why Amanda was passing on so much paper work on her now. He was sure that it had to with the fight the two had at the beach.

"No, nothing to do with that." Christina answered quickly.

Tom knew she was lying. He had seen the fight, he couldn't hear it, but he sure damn well saw it. From what he could see it looked like a full out war.

Christina could see his mind reeling, he was really worried about her. "I'm fine, Tom." She assured him "Amanda and the board just want me to get this done. Besides I was going to have to do it anyway. Sooner or later."

"I know." He rubbed his face, "Do you want me to come by your office and help out?"

"No!" She was sure she shouted that and by the expression Tom had, she did. She cleared her throat, "You have a packed schedule, besides new patient over in the ER. His legs and head is a mess."

Tom sighed; he could tell that she was avoiding him again. He looked at her, trying to figure out what exactly she was hiding from him. He was sure that he didn't do anything wrong to hurt her.

Almost sure…

There was no way she could still be upset about David and Dr. Cohen.

Tom would play along, for now, but he was going to find out. He didn't like it when she put him in the dark.

He didn't like the fact she was avoiding him. And that she made up excuses after excuses to avoid talking to him. And that she straighten her curls. She always looked beautiful with hair out in curls.

He could have been somewhat thankful, at least now he didn't have the urge to run his fingers through her hair like he usually did.

He gulped after admitting that to himself. 'I need help.'

Without knowing, he tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear. "Okay, we'll talk later than."

Christina wordlessly shook her head and pushed the up button. She could still feel his touch on her wrist and now on her face.

The elevator doors opened, a few occupants walked out as she stepped in.


She gave Tom a small smile, "Later."

The elevator's door closed, leaving Tom even more confused and hurt.

Christina closed her eyes; she had never been so thankful to get away from him and never hated her mother-in-law more.

Virginia Beach…

Christina watched as her ring spun on the table at Amanda's beach house. She wasn't so sure what to do with it next. Part of her still wanted to wear it, the other part wanted to chuck it over the pier. She looked out the window to see Tom and Camille hanging out on the beach.

She smiled. They weren't talking, but just sitting. She was sure Tom had one of his lollipops in his mouth.

He wanted to come after she told him their plans for scattering Michael's ashes. He came late, but at least he came.

She was touched that he made the trip to be with them…with her.

"I' still surprised he came all this way. With all those surgeries and everything, how does one find the time?" Amanda's cool voice asked from behind Christina.

She looked regal in a dark gray cashmere sweater and black slacks. Christina eyed her for a bit, noticing the edge in her tone.

"He was Michael's doctor. He thought it would impolite if he didn't come." She replied with the same cool tone, paraphrasing what Tom had said to her when he asked to come.

"Did he ask to come here, or did you invite him?" Amanda asked accusingly as she slid into one of the dining room chair tables.

Christina sat up straight. So this was the reason for her frosty attitude. Amanda had always been sure that there was something going on between Tom and her when Michael was alive. Christina was sure, at some point in their marriage, that Amanda was telling her son that there was an affair between the two.

She picked up her ring and slid it on her finger, just to prove a point. "He asked to come."

Amanda sniffed in indignation, it wasn't the answer she was looking for, nor was it the type of answer she could use to incriminate Christina with.

"Well, you two did look quite cozy on that pier yesterday."

Only Amanda Hawthorne would find something dirty about walking on the beach with the opposite sex.

Christian arched her brow, she could already feel her defenses going up. "Oh, really?"

"Yes, really." Amanda folded her arms over her chest, "Do you really think it's appropriate for a widow to be walking arm in arm with another man in front of her daughter?"

Christina pursed her lips, how dare she brings Camille into this? "Tom is just a friend. And Camille knows that."

"Are you trying to assure Camille, me or yourself?"

"What the hell does that mean?"

Amanda face darkened, "It means we all hear the rumors about you and Tom, dear. Don't think I haven't seen the way the two of look at each other."

Christina laid her hands flat on the table, that way she wouldn't feel the need to strangle her mother-in-law.

"There is," she made sure to look straight into Amanda's cold eyes, "nothing between Tom and me. Nor has there been."

She looked up when she heard Camille laugh; Tom was now playing volleyball with her. He had sand in his hair, and his shirt was stained. She remembered him saying that he liked hockey. Maybe volleyball just wasn't his sport.

Amanda turned around to see what she was looking at and scoffed. "I knew it." She slapped her hands on the table.

"Knew what?" Christina asked confused and angrily. The woman had no evidence what so ever, except her twisted imagination and the dumb rumor mill at the hospital.

"I knew you were cheating on my son with him."

Christina clenched her hands into fist and stood up from her chair, knocking it back.

"Excuse me?"


Christina's office provided little to no comfort. It was too quiet, she needed trauma and chaos to distract her from her thoughts and anger and hatred.

The only thing she could look forward to today was going to the U.S Capitol. In some ways though, she knew that it would only make her feel worse.

She pulled her bag and emptied the files onto her desk. Everything was supposed to be finished by Friday.

Today was Wednesday.

Christina combed her hair back and she flipped through the files and organized them by priority.

"Update the new codes, run through the nurse's evaluations, check on nursing maltreats and neglecting complaints, check on complaints made by the nurses about doctors, check on budget, and so on…" She clapped her hands together and sighed.

This was Amanda's little revenge, her last laugh before Christina would retaliate.

That was a bad idea, she shouldn't retaliate, she should tell Amanda the truth.

That Michael wanted a divorce.

She could already imagine Amanda grinning with satisfaction and saying "I knew my boy was too good for you." Or something just as spiteful.

There was a soft knock at the door. Christina looked up, praying to God that it wasn't Tom.

"Come in."

The door opened. Christina silently cursed; she wished it were Tom standing in front of her instead of Amanda.

"Hello dear," she pulled out a chair and sat down, eyeing the stacks of files on Christina's desk with pleasure, while crossing her legs. "Have time to talk?"

Christina tapped her fingernails against her desk. She could feel it, that small word, two little letters.

No. Hell no.

But of course she wasn't in any sort of position to deny Amanda.