Twist of Fate
Saturday, November 1, 1941---- Hawaii
It was a beautiful morning, the sun just beginning to rise, painted the sky and the ocean in brilliant hues of orange and magenta.
Kristin Westphalen strolled barefoot in the surf, watching the sunrise and enjoying the peaceful quiet of the early morning. She'd only been in America for 6 months and had fallen in love with this beautiful island paradise the moment she'd arrived.
It was an exquisite place, calm, peaceful and full of exotic wonders. A world away from the horrors of war afflicting the land of her birth. England was a beautiful country in its own right and it had broken her heart to see its splendor marred by war. With a sigh she reversed her course and headed back towards her house.
When she arrived, she found her house-mate already up and the smell of fresh coffee permeated the small bungalow. She made her way through the house to the kitchen. "Morning." she drawled as she entered.
Katie Hitchcock turned and smiled. The young woman, a navy nurse, worked at the same hospital as Kristin. They'd met on her first day and had become fast friends.
"Morning… The hospital called. They need you as soon as you can get there."
"Okay. Did you want to ride in with me?"
"Oh that's all right." the young woman smiled. "Ben is picking me up."
Kristin nodded and turned away.
"Kristin? Some of us are going out to the Officers' Club tonight. Why don't you come with us?"
"Katherine, I'm a civilian."
"That's all right, you'd be my guest. Come on it will be fun and you never know, you just might meet some hunky Captain," she ended with a wink.
"That's all I need." Kristin quipped dryly.
"Oh, all right." she relented.
"Wonderful. Sally will pick us up at 8:00."
"I'll be ready." Kristin smiled as she turned away.
The Officers' Club was busy when they arrived but Katie was quickly able to find them a table.
After being there for a little more than an hour, Kristin was ready to go home. She had never been one to frequent pubs and felt a little out of place. Deciding to have one last drink she moved through the sea of bodies to the bar.
"What can I get you ma'am?" the bartender asked politely.
"A white wine please."
The bartender nodded and moved away, returning moments later. As she reached into the handbag to retrieve the money to pay for her drink a man slipped into the space beside her.
"Let me get that for you, Little Lady." He offered with a slow Texas drawl and an equally slow smile.
Kristin glanced up at the young man in a Navy Lieutenant's uniform. "No thank you. I've got it." she said and slipped the money to the bartender.
"Well then would you do the honor of having a dance with me?"
"Thank you for the offer, but no." Kristin declined politely and started to move away.
The Lieutenant's hand shot out to grasp her arm. "I'd really like to get to know you better." he persisted, the slight slur to his voice telling Kristin he was well on his way to being drunk.
"And I said no. Now kindly remove your hand."
"Wassa matter, doncha like men?" he sneered, tightening his grip.
"I like men just fine, thank you. It's you I don't like."
"You got a smart mouth for a bitch! I bet you can do more with that mouth than just back talk."
"Probably, but you'll never find out." Kristin said cooly. "Now let me go!"
"You heard the Lady, Lieutenant!" a voice boomed suddenly from behind Kristin. "Release her now or I'll see you in the brig!"
The Lieutenant looked at the man behind her and the color drained from his face.
"Sir, yes Captain, sir!" he barked as he released Kristin and snapped to attention.
"I think you've had more than enough for one night don't you Lieutenant?" the Captain continued as he moved around Kristin to stare down the young man.
"Then I suggest you head back to your berth Sailor or we'll be speaking again. Is that clear!?"
The Lieutenant saluted sharply then spun on his heel and slunk away. Once he was gone the Captain turned to face Kristin.
As their gazes met, Kristin noticed how intensely blue his eyes were and she felt the stirrings of something she hadn't felt for a very long time.
"I'm sorry he bothered you Miss."
"It's Doctor, actually. Doctor Kristin Westphalen."
"It's a pleasure, Doctor." he smiled. "I'm Captain Nathan Bridger, assigned to the Rear Admiral's staff. Now, can I see you to your table?"
"Actually, I've had enough 'fun' for one night, I think I'll just go home." she smiled and returned her untouched wine to the bartop.
"Then would you do me the honor of letting me see you home?"
"It's not necessary."
"Perhaps not but it would be my pleasure."
"Oh very well then, just give me a moment." she said and when he nodded she made her way back to the table where Katie and the others sat.
"Are you all right?" Katie asked with concern.
"I'm fine but I'm going to go home now."
"I'll go with you."
"Don't be silly. Stay and have fun. Besides, the Captain has offered to see me home." Kristin supplied.
Katie looked over to see Nathan still standing at the bar. She turned back to Kristin with a grin. "See…Told you, you'd meet a hunky Captain. Have fun."
"Katherine, he's just walking me home."
"If you say so." Katie grinned. "See you tomorrow."
Kristin shook her head with a smile as she headed back to where Nathan waited.
"Ready?" he asked and when she nodded he rested a hand gently in the small of her back and led her outside.
"My car is just over here." Nathan indicated with a pointed finger.
"Would you mind if we walked? I don't live far and it's a lovely night."
"All right," Nathan smiled and fell into step beside her.
"So tell me," Nathan asked as they walked. "What made you decide to be a doctor?"
"My father... he was a doctor and my earliest memories are of him taking me to the hospital every day and letting me watch while he worked. From that moment on I was hooked. When I was old enough I entered Cambridge University. I was the only woman in a class of 40."
"Wow. I bet that was tough."
"Oh yes. They didn't make it easy that's for sure but I was determined not to let anyone stop me."
"So what did you do after graduation?"
"Worked with my father at the hospital. Things were wonderful until the war and that was like a baptism of fire. The hospitals were inundated with civilian wounded from the air raids. God it was horrible, especially after the Blitz in 1940. It was an endless non-stop stream of dirt, blood, death." she said in an almost haunted whisper.
"What made you leave England and come here?"
"Besides not being able to see my beautiful country destroyed before my eyes.... My brother James was a pilot in the RAF. Nine months ago he was home on leave and got caught in one of the raids…" her voice trailed off and Nathan could hear the slight catch in it as she continued a moment later. "I was on duty when he was brought in to the hospital. My brother died while I was trying to save his life."
"God, I'm so sorry." Nathan said softly.
"And as if that wasn't enough," her voice faltered for a moment. "My daughter Cynthia worked in Coventry... she was there when the Germans bombed it. She was killed instantly. After that… well I just couldn't do it anymore. One of my father's friends lives here on Oahu and offered me a position. I jumped at the chance. I've been here for 6 months now and don't regret my decision at all. If I never see another wounded soldier again it will be too soon," Kristin finished with a sigh. "God, I must sound terribly maudlin."
"Not at all," Nathan smiled.
"You're not just saying that to be a gentleman, are you?"
Kristin gave him a smile then, realizing she was home, turned to face him. "Well, this is my place."
"Can I see you to the door?"
They moved up the walk and Kristin opened the door, reaching inside to turn on the entry hall light.
"Well, Captain, thank you for all your help."
"It was my pleasure." he began. "I hope this doesn't sound too forward, but I'd like to see you again."
"I'd like that." Kristin smiled.
"Tomorrow for lunch?"
"I'm not sure when I can get away but call for me at the hospital and I'll try."
"All right." he smiled "I'll say goodnight then."
"Good night." Kristin replied with a smile, watching as he turned and strode back up the walk. He paused at the end, turning back to give her a parting smile and a wave. She returned the gestures, remaining on the porch until he was out of sight.
When he was gone, she headed inside and closed the door behind her. As she prepared for bed her thoughts lingered on Nathan and as she drifted off to sleep she knew that she could very easily come to love him.
They met for lunch the next day, and the next and the next and from that time forward they were nearly inseparable.