Title: A Pearl of Destiny
Classification: Nathan and Kristin romance
Archive: NK archives and tay’s site – sometime in the near of distant future
Disclaimer: They belong to Amblin. I’m just borrowing them for a while.
Summary: My answer to the Pearl Harbor challenge
Notes: I tried to be as historically correct as I could so please forgive any poetic license. The USS Dolphin was a real submarine stationed out of Pearl Harbor. She was in port on December 7th, 1941 and did fire on enemy aircraft. The dates and destination of the sub match those of the real Dolphin based on the records I could find. I also tried to be accurate with the timing of the actual attack.
December 2nd, 1941 – Pearl Harbor Naval Station
The sleek lines of the USS Dolphin knifed through the shallow water to slice through the surface as it entered Pearl Harbor, returning to homeport for a routine maintenance check and refit. The crew gave a cheer as they flung open the top hatch and gathered on the top of the sub, enjoying the warm sun and fresh air beating down on them. A screech of metal on metal, the sound of clattering chains and the submarine was secured to its dock. Her crew scurried below to gather their gear or to return to their duty stations because a glance down the dock had shown them that some very important brass was headed their way.
“Admiral on deck sir!” The seaman’s voice rang out.
Captain Nathan Bridger moved to stand at the base of the ladder as his men were called to attention. Nathan fought to keep the grin off his face as a rather large backend began to descend into his bridge. As soon as the Admiral’s feet hit the deck Nathan shot him a smart salute, which Admiral Noyce returned as, his face broke into a smile.
“Nathan, you old seadog, you look fantastic! Carol can’t wait to see you. It’s about time you brought this old rust bucket in. You are a month late!”
“We had some engine trouble off the coast of the Philippines and had to make repairs so we could get home for you to make repairs. I’ve arranged a rotating shore leave schedule for the men and I am going home to see my wife.” Nathan saw the look flit across Bill’s face. “What? Don’t tell me we can’t go home?”
“Well, you can. Actually you are going to be required to. But your crew… We have visiting politicos who want a tour of all the vessels that come through here, a Senator John McCallister and his entourage. Your tour is scheduled for the fifth. Meanwhile, you are required to attend a list of functions to be held in honor of the Senator and his wife.”
“Damn it, Bill! I don’t DO functions. I am a sailor not a diplomat. That’s why you’re the admiral and I’m just the captain.” Very few men could have spoken to Admiral William Noyce in that tone of voice and gotten away with it and no one who was beneath him in rank, no one except Nathan Bridger. The two men had been friends since the Naval Academy when senior Noyce took the skinny gawky freshman Bridger under his wing. Nathan’s first assignment had been on board the ship where Noyce served as second in command. Bridger had stood as Noyce’s best man and vice versa. Noyce was godfather to Bridger’s son, Robert, and Bridger was godfather to one of Noyce’s two daughters. They knew each other as well as themselves and Noyce knew that Nathan was angry.
“Look, Nathan. I know you don’t want to be away from the ship while your men are still on duty but this is a real opportunity for us. McCallister sits on some very important committees and we could use the extra funding. You’re not really on leave, you’ll still have to be here during the day getting the boat ready for inspection, you just have to attend a few parties. You get to go home at night, sleep in your own bed. Besides, McCallister’s wife is a real looker.”
Nathan rolled his eyes. He was the most monogamous man on the face of the planet and Noyce knew that better than anyone. Nathan had never met a woman who could tempt him away from hearth and home. Only the ocean had the power to do that.
Nathan’s vehement refusal was seconds away from spewing out of his mouth when Noyce played his trump card. “Oh, did I mention that the Arizona is in port? Bobby has a few days leave and I thought you might enjoy spending some time with your son.”
Nathan’s upper body shook with laughter. “You son of a bitch. Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place? I’d brave any number of stupid politicians to see my kid.”
you first would have been too easy. You
wouldn’t want to deprive me of all my fun would you?”
December 3rd, 1941
“I can’t believe we have to wear uniforms to a beach party.” Nathan grumbled. “What if I spill barbecue sauce on it? I’ll have to come home and wash it before I can report tomorrow.”
Carol Bridger slid up behind her grumbling husband and wrapped her arms around his waist, stopping his hands from buttoning his shirt. “Like you don’t have ten sets of khakis in the closet and another five in your quarters on board. Be grateful you don’t have to wear your dress uniform.” She patted his flat stomach. “Besides, you don’t have anything to catch sauce on.” Carol moved away to slip on her sandals as Nathan finished dressing.
“We could be spending the evening with Bobby. Instead we have to go to this stupid party and be nice to people that I don’t even know.”
“We will be spending the evening with Bobby. He’s a member of the Arizona contingent. I like beach parties. I was also there when the Senator’s party arrived and met some very nice people. His wife seems like a lovely person and his daughter is very pretty. She’s sixteen I think. She’ll be turning sailors heads tonight.”
Nathan started to say that according to Bill the wife would be the one turning heads but thought better of it. “Maybe we can sneak out early.”
Carol just laughed.
The party was in full swing by the time Nathan and Carol arrived. They were greeted at the entrance by Lieutenant Robert Hale Bridger, twenty-two and very handsome, if his female following was any judge. Bobby had graduated from the Naval Academy and been posted immediately to the USS Arizona. Nathan was proud of his son but missed him terribly; not that he’d been around very often but he still expected Bobby to run greet him whenever he walked through the door. Carol, on the other hand, was not so pleased at Bobby’s choice of career. Although in public she was the perfect navy wife she was deeply resentful of Nathan’s long absences and had not wanted their only child to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Bobby gave his mother a small hug and his father a respectful salute followed by a handshake.
“I see Janet Noyce. I need to speak to her about a luncheon we are hosting tomorrow. I’ll catch up with you guys later.” Carol disappeared into the crowd.
“Wanna grab a brew or are you allowed to drink?” Nathan asked his son as they made their way toward the bar.
“I don’t think they’ll bust me for one or two.” Bobby laughed then stopped and pointed. “There is the Senator and his family, isn’t his daughter beautiful. Too bad she’s only sixteen.”
Nathan glanced over in the direction Bobby was pointed and felt his heart stop beating and his lungs stop breathing as blue eyes met brown. The connection between them was instantaneous. She wore an emerald green dress that accented the creamy richness of her skin. Shoulder length red hair was caught back at the nape of her neck, a few wisps escaping to frame her beautiful face and large sable eyes. Her legs were long and graceful inviting the eye to follow the lines of her perfect figure. Her breasts were large and firm. Nathan felt his palms itch with the desire to cup them. The woman’s tongue darted out to lick her lips, an expression of nervousness but enticing nonetheless. He felt like he would explode if he couldn’t kiss her and knew he would explode if he did. Nathan knew everyone must be staring at them but he couldn’t move, couldn’t blink lest he break the link with her.
“Dad, Dad…Are you okay?” Bobby moved in front of him. Nathan wanted to scream at him for interrupting his view, push him out of the way but he swallowed and forced himself to answer.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” A quick glance around showed that no one else had noticed anything out of the ordinary. Thank God that Carol had business elsewhere.
Kristin McCallister cast another surreptitious glance at the naval officer she’d made such intense eye contact with moments before. He wasn’t handsome, not in the classical sense, but there was something about him that drew her. His hair was dark and flecked with gray. He was tall and lean and his face was tanned and housed a nose that her medical training told her had been broken at least one. But his eyes were his most remarkable feature. She been captured by them, felt as if she were staring deep into his soul and seeing her own reflected back. No one had ever elicited a response like this in her. Another glance found him looking casually back her way. Kristin quickly averted her eyes. Jack would be sure to notice if their gazes locked again and Kristin knew she would never hear the end of it. Her daughter, Cynthia, who was standing just beside her, pulled her from her thoughts by a tug on her arm.
“Mum, look at that officer standing over there. Isn’t he fabulous looking?”
Kristin breathed a sigh of relief that Cynthia was pointing to the young man standing next to the object of her interest. The two men looked enough alike that it was obvious they were related in spite of the young man’s light hair.
“Yes, darling. He is very handsome.”
Senator McCallister’s head jerked around as he heard his wife’s comment. “What?”
“Cynthia was commenting on how handsome that young man is. I just agreed with her.”
McCallister’s eyes narrowed. “A bit old for you, kitten, don’t you think?”
Cynthia laughed. “Daddy, I’m not a baby anymore. I’m sixteen years old.”
“Your father is right. You are a bit too young for this crowd.”
“It doesn’t hurt to look!”
Jack McCallister smiled indulgently at his daughter. “Just as long as that’s all you do. Maybe you could have a dance or two as well, but that’s as far as it goes.”
“Thank you, Daddy, thank you so much! Can I go talk to Ginny? She is just over there with her mother.” During the week the McCallisters had been in Hawaii, Cynthia had become fast friends with Ginny Noyce.
“Go ahead, but straight there.”
“I’ll go with you, Cyn…”
Jack placed a restraining hand on her arm. To the casual onlooker the move would look like a caress but Kristin felt the power behind it. “Now darling, you know I like for you to stay with me until we’ve been introduced to all the important people.”
“Of course,” Kristin nodded and returned to her place at his side. The moment she had been dreading came quickly. Admiral Noyce appeared at Jack’s side with the handsome officer in tow.
“Senator, I’d like for you to meet one of my best men. This is Captain Nathan Bridger of the submarine USS Dolphin.”
Jack shook the man’s hand. “I’m very glad to meet you, Captain Bridger. I’ve heard a lot of great things about you and your sub. Oh,” he added, obviously as an afterthought, “this is my wife Kristin.” Jack practically put Nathan’s hand in Kristin’s as he turned back to Bill.
They felt the heat shoot between them as they touched. “How very nice to meet you, Captain Bridger.” Kristin said with her lilting British accent. God, she hoped she wasn’t stuttering!
Nathan bent low over the hand he held and brushed a light kiss just above the surface. “Charmed, my lady.”
Kristin laughed self-consciously. “How gallant!”
“Constant and rigorous training by my English grandmother.” Nathan turned to Bill and Jack. “Who knew I’d ever have a chance to use it?” The three men laughed but somehow Kristin sensed that Nathan knew just the right thing to say to save her from Jack’s anger later.
Nathan moved surreptitiously toward the torches lighting the outer boundary of the party. Bill had put him on parade for the Senator and his party and Nathan desperately needed a break. He almost made good his escape when a gentle hand on his arm stopped him. “Damn,” he muttered more to himself than anyone around.
“Watch your language, Nathan.” He turned to face the gentle blue eyes of his wife. Carol was smiling at him with understanding. “Can’t stand it anymore? I can’t complain. I’m surprised you made it this long. I saw you talking with Senator McCallister. He seemed very interested in you. He could help your career, Nathan. You should play that up.”
“Dear, I’m nobody’s lap dog. Besides…” Nathan’s voice trailed off. He couldn’t tell Carol that he’d disliked the senator on sight. No, that wasn’t the right word but there was something. “…I just need a few minutes of quiet. I’ll be right back, I promise.”
Carol Bridger shook her head as she watched her husband disappear around a bend in the beach and into the night. She had tried for twenty-three years to turn him into a social animal and failed miserably.
Kristin McCallister stared out into the black ocean along the path of moonlight as it lay across the surface, reveling in the peace and quiet it offered. Thank God the introductions had been completed and Jack was well on his way towards intoxication. She dreaded what his state would bring later but at least she was free for a few moments. Kristin slipped her sandals off and dug her toes into the sand, feeling the grains slide between them as she thought once again about Nathan Bridger. The reaction she’d felt to his gaze was like nothing she had ever experienced. Kristin had met Carol Bridger when they arrived and knew she was Nathan’s wife but just for a moment she allowed her mind to wander to what being touched by Nathan would be like. The hand that had gripped hers had been strong and beautifully shaped. The gentle clearing of a deep voice brought her back to the present and found her confronted with the object of her thoughts.
“I’m sorry to interrupt. I didn’t expect to find anyone else out here.”
Kristin smiled nervously. “I just needed…a little break from the party. Meeting so many people can be a bit overwhelming. Jack didn’t send you to look for me, did he?”
Nathan snorted. “To be honest I doubt the Senator has realized you are missing. He was enjoying himself a great deal.”
“Yes, I noticed.” Several silent moments passed between them before Nathan broke the quiet again. “Are you enjoying your trip to the islands?”
“The scenery is quite nice. Cynthia is enjoying being out of Washington in December.”
“What about the base? It’s pretty awesome don’t you think?”
“I’m sorry, Captain but spending day and in day out touring military bases isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. All this effort should be put toward scientific research instead of finding more efficient ways for the military to kill people.”
Nathan saw her eyes flash in the moonlight as her voice rose. “Now wait just one damn minute, lady. If it weren’t for the British military you and yours would be speaking German now!”
Kristin turned on him, shoulders squared and eyes alive with fire. “Don’t you DARE speak to me about the British military. You all sit here in your safe little nests on the opposite side of the world debating about Europe. My family is there. Can you even begin to imagine how it feels to jump at the ringing of the telephone, cringe at the sound of the doorbell because you are afraid of the news on the other side? The home two doors down from my mother was destroyed during a night raid. I can’t go home because of that damned little housepainter and his Nazi gibberish. My brother gave his life defending Britain!”
Nathan held his hands out in front of him in a calming motion. The lady had a lot of passion beneath her placid surface. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. You are the one who made negative comments about the military.”
Kristin’s body seemed to go limp as the fire within died. “I understand the necessity for the military, especially with the world falling apart. But I’m a doctor. I’m trained to preserve life not take it. I loathe any situation where lives are lost.”
“I didn’t know you were a doctor, the Senator didn’t say anything about you having a medical degree.”
Kristin laughed derisively. “Of course not. If he did that, someone might assume I had a purpose in life other than decorating his arm.” It was obvious that she regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth but she didn’t take them back.
“You don’t practice at the moment?”
“Jack doesn’t think it’s seemly for me to work. I haven’t really worked since we got married ten years ago.”
“Ten years…but Cynthia?”
“My first husband, Cynthia’s father, died when she was two. Alex was a biochemist and he encouraged me to get my medical degree. He was always very proud of me. I practiced until Jack and I married and he adopted Cynthia but he thought I should be a traditional mother, stay at home and take care of the babies.”
“You have other children?”
“No. The babies never came. Then he was elected Senator.”
Nathan didn’t know what to say. He knew that in just a few words she’d revealed herself to him more than any other person. He’d felt desire for her the moment he’d first laid eyes on her but something else was stirring deep beneath the surface. Kristin wouldn’t want pity so he told her what was in his heart at that moment. “I think that Senator John McCallister is a damn fool!”
The moonlight played its silver threads across her auburn hair as she smiled up at him. “Thank you, Captain.”
They walked side-by-side back toward the party both trying to keep the conversation casual, careful never to touch. Just beyond the periphery of the lights they stopped. Kristin looked uncomfortable but Nathan came to her rescue. “I think I see Janet Noyce just ahead on the right. Why don’t you go join her? I’m going to enjoy a few more minutes of solitude before I jump back into the fray.”
Kristin was a bit unnerved that this man seemed to read her thoughts so easily but she rewarded him with a grateful smile before she carefully slipped back into the light.
December 4, 1941
The sun was low in the sky by the time Nathan pulled up in front of the Noyce’s home. Carol was going to kill him. She had expected him around 3pm but there had been too many little details to take care of on the sub for him to leave. Nathan might not like Senator McCallister but not one bolt would be out of place for the tour tomorrow. Carol and Janet had hosted an officer’s wives luncheon for Kristin and Cynthia. Their planning had led to an invitation for the Bridgers to join the Noyces for a relaxing afternoon and evening. Bobby had managed to get the afternoon off and Nathan hated missing the opportunity to see him. There just never seemed to be enough time.
He parked the car and walked around the house, knowing he’d find everyone gathered on the large back porch. As he turned the corner instinct took over and he grabbed the brown spherical object hurtling towards him. The force behind the football almost took him off his feet and he scanned the back yard to find the quarterback with the great arm. Nathan guessed that Bobby or Bill was the culprit or perhaps Bobby’s friend, Ben Krieg who was also playing, but none of them looked guilty. Ginny and Cynthia McCallister were playing but surely neither one of them had the strength to throw with such force.
“Okay, who’s the wise guy?”
Nathan could have been pushed over with a feather when Kristin McCallister emerged from behind Bill and tentatively stuck her hand up. “Sorry, the ball got away from me.”
“I want to be on her team!”
“Come on guys, take a break. We’ve got lemonade on the porch!” Janet called out as she and Carol appeared with pitchers and trays.
Nathan grabbed a glass and moved to the side of the porch, trying not to notice the way Kristin’s sweat soaked tee shirt clung to her body. ‘Damn it man, your wife is ten feet away’ he thought to himself to try to dampen his reaction. “Who is winning?” He asked as Bill moved to join him.
“The girls are up by six. That woman has got an arm on her and Bobby and Ben are useless when one of the girls smile at them.”
“ I expect Mrs. McCallister has many hidden talents. Did you know she is a medical doctor?”
“I had no idea. Do you think she’d like a tour of the medical facilities? The senator didn’t say anything but I’m sure I can arrange it.”
“I don’t know Bill. I get the idea that the Senator doesn’t care to do anything that doesn’t revolve around him. Speaking of the pompous politico, where is he?”
“He’s probably still locked up with Admiral Kimmel. We had an afternoon meeting and then they were going on some tour. I had a meeting I couldn’t reschedule so I escaped. The kids were playing football when I got home and I joined in. Hey, Bobby looks fantastic. I think life on the Arizona agrees with him. I also think he is quite taken with the Senator’s daughter.”
“Come on, Bill. She’s a child. Bobby is just being nice. He’s probably been listening to his mother about how the Senator could help his career.”
“Carol’s on that track again?”
“I know she doesn’t like the long absences but she knew I was a navy man when she married me. I need the ocean…”
“Come on, Admiral. We’ve got a game to finish. We can’t let these women beat us.” Bobby was waving Bill back to the game. “Wanna play, Dad?”
“You can have my spot.” Kristin offered.
“Oh, no.” Bill Noyce interjected. “Men versus women that was the deal. Nathan doesn’t meet all the criteria for your team.”
“What do you mean all?” Before anyone could move, Nathan had Bill in a headlock and the two men were tussling on the grass.
“Don’t mind them.” Janet told Kristin. “I’ve known them almost thirty years and they have always been this way. Knock it off you two. Nathan you can play with the guys and I’ll join the women.”
Nathan was as slippery as an eel and before anyone realized it the score was tied. The women had possession of the ball just yards away from their goal line when Carol called out from the porch. “By my time clock you have about a minute left. Let’s make it good girls!”
“Hey, you’re supposed to be impartial!” Nathan and Bobby yelled at the same time. Carol just shrugged her shoulders and grinned. Janet snapped the ball to Kristin who tossed it over to Ginny. She made it half the distance to the goal before Bobby stopped her with a staggering ‘touch’ to the back. The women quickly went into a huddle to make their final plans while the guys stood back and admired the view, confident in their ability to defend.
Once again they lined up on the lawn with Nathan taking the end position. He stared Kristin in the eye. “You are going down.” He told her. She stuck her tongue out at him, which caused him to laugh, just as she received the ball from Janet. As she backed up to throw, Nathan counted off then charged toward her. Just as the ball left her fingers he lunged to tag her back and slipped. They both hit the ground hard, breath knocked out of lungs. Nathan found himself lying flush on top of Kristin, her soft breasts pressing into his chest, a knee pressed between her thighs. He buried his face in the ground beside her shoulder; embarrassed because he had gone rock hard in seconds and there was no way that she could miss his erection pressing into her stomach.
Cheering came from the end zone. Nathan rolled to a sitting position and doubled over, trying to calm his desire before anyone noticed. Kristin stayed on the ground her hand on her diaphragm desperately trying to draw air into her lungs.
“Mum, we won! Mummy are you okay?” Cynthia fell to her knees beside her mother and helped her sit up. Kristin immediately reached over and punched Nathan in the arm.
“I thought…we…were…playing...TOUCH!” she gasped out.
Nathan’s shoulders shook as he began to laugh. This woman was amazing to him. Carol would have given him the silent treatment for a week but Kristin was trying to make him laugh.
“Hey, Bridger?” Janet and Cynthia had managed to get Kristin to her feet and her breathing was recovering. He looked up at her with repentant eyes.
“I slipped I swear. I didn’t mean to tackle you.”
“Just remember, pay backs are hell!”
Nathan watched the slim figure silhouetted in the sinking sun from the crest of the beach. He was loath to interrupt her but Janet had sent him to check on her noted guest so he approached her quietly. Nathan was just a few feet away from Kristin when a gust of wind blew across the beach. Kristin flung her arms open wide and arched her back into the breeze, her russet hair dancing around her delicate features. Desire welled up in Nathan again, for to him she looked like some mythological sea nymph. He simply stood and stared at her until she began to twirl in the breeze.
Kristin caught site of the handsome man gazing at her and instantly stopped her self-consciousness evident.
“You look as if you belong to the water, like a siren or a Lorelei.”
Kristin blushed prettily. “I’ve always loved the ocean. When I was a little girl we lived on the coast of Cornwall. I had to go to the sea everyday no matter what the weather. It has always fascinated me.”
“I feel the same. The ocean calms me and yet it excites me as nothing else does. I’ve felt that way since the very first time I saw it.”
“When was that?” Kristin’s soft accent sent a shiver down Nathan’s spine.
“I must have been about seven. My dad loaded all of us kids up in the old tin lizzie and drove us to the Jersey shore. It took two days but it was worth it. You are lucky that you grew up on a beach.”
“The beach below my parents home was an old smuggler’s cove. The path down was steep and rocky, very mysterious and there was a natural cave in the cliff face that my brother and I played in. I always got to be the pirate king.”
“A bit mercenary were we?”
“Oh, Yes! The pirate king always won the sword fights. I was a better fighter than James.” Kristin smiled at the memory. “From the time I was a little girl I always wanted to be a doctor but I secretly always wanted to study the ocean as well.”
“Why don’t you?”
Kristin laughed out loud. “I’d have to go back to university. I can see me bringing that idea up to Jack.” A dark cloud seemed to pass over her face momentarily but she quickly hid it as she stared into the blue waters. “The ocean brings me peace. I think that perhaps it does the same for you Nathan”
“You are very perceptive Kristin.” Their eyes locked and the same electric current they had experienced the first time they saw each other happened again. Nathan took a step toward Kristin and she responded in kind. One more step by either of them and they would have been in each other’s arms. A voice broke through their focus and they turned to see Robert and Cynthia standing on the bluff.
“Come on you guys!” Robert waved his arm towards the house. Nathan gave an exaggerated nod and waved back.
“I was sent to bring you back to the house for dinner.” He bowed gallantly and held his arm out to Kristin.
“You learned your lessons very well kind sir.” Kristin told him as she placed her arm in his and allowed him to lead her from the beach.
John McCallister appeared to collect his family just as darkness fell. He was easily persuaded to stay for dinner but then insisted that he and Kristin retire early. “After all, Captain, I’ve got an important submarine tour tomorrow.”
“All will be well, Senator. I’ve got the best crew in the US Navy.” Nathan’s statement brought protest from Bobby and Ben who both served on the Arizona.
“You just wait until our tour on Sunday! We’ll see who had the best crew, Dad.”
Carol rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I wonder which one is the father and which one is the son.” Nathan leaned over her shoulder and whispered something in her ear, which caused her to blush. “Watch it fella or you might not be crawling into bed with me tonight.” This evoked a round of laughter from all the adults but Nathan could tell that Kristin’s laugh was a bit put on. He realized then that the best thing he could do for himself and this woman was to keep as much distance as possible between them. He didn’t understand what was happening between them but he couldn’t risk it going any further.
December 6th, 1941
Saturday night on a naval base was always a social time and tonight was no exception. Senator McCallister and his family were leaving after attending special services and touring the Arizona on Sunday so the formal ball was viewed as a good-bye send off.
Janet and Carol, along with the decorations committee, had done a fantastic job turning the social hall into a tropical paradise. Potted palms and exotic flowers covered every available inch of wall space and a fabulous orchestra played in the corner. Nathan looked out over the dance floor and saw that Bobby was dancing with Cynthia McCallister for the fourth time this evening. Bobby seemed very taken with the young lady in spite of her youth. Nathan was a bit concerned but she would be gone in twenty-four hours and the likelihood of them ever seeing each other again seemed very remote. ‘Just like I’ll never see her mother again’ he thought, his heart saddening even though he knew it was for the best. Nathan looked around for Carol and found her with the Senator and Kristin. She’d been very angry with him for the last few days because he refused to cozy up to the Senator to advance his career. Carol couldn’t understand that Nathan was happy at sea. He didn’t want to be tied to a desk in an office.
Jack McCallister caught Nathan looking his way and beckoned him over. He sensed that Bridger didn’t like him and was curious as to why. Surely no one had said anything to Bridger. Nathan joined them grudgingly.
“Great party wouldn’t you say, Captain? Your wife certainly did a fantastic job with the decorations.” Nathan’s eyes narrowed as the Senator caressed Carol’s arm. Was he just trying to get a reaction?
“My wife is very gifted in many areas, as is Janet Noyce.”
“Would you mind terribly if I danced with your lovely lady? I promise to behave myself.”
Nathan lifted an eyebrow at Carol and waited for her slight nod before replying. “Of course you can dance with Carol…” he felt gentle pressure on his foot and saw Carol incline her head slightly towards Kristin, “as long as you return the favor.”
“You want to dance with Kristin? She’s not really much of a dancer but please feel free.” Jack took Carol’s hand and led her to the dance floor leaving Nathan alone with Kristin.
“You’re dress uniform suits you well, Captain.”
“You look lovely tonight.” Nathan told her quietly and it was true. The long black dress she wore was simply made but stunning. Her auburn hair was piled at the top of her head; gentle tendrils curling down to kiss the sides of her face. She wore no jewelry other than her wedding band but she didn’t need any. Suddenly Nathan wanted nothing else but to hold her in his arms. “Would you care to dance with me?”
“Are you sure you’re willing to put life and limb at risk?” She asked bitterly, her eyes narrowed in the direction Jack and Carol had taken.
“I think of you as grace personified. I suspect you must be a marvelous dancer and I’d like very much to dance with you.” Nathan led her to an uncrowded corner of the dance floor as far away from Jack and Carol as he could get and took her in his arms. Kristin fit against him perfectly as they danced to 'Moonlight Serenade’.
“How do you do it?” She asked him.
“What do I do?”
“You see through Jack. He can charm the birds out of the trees but you see him exactly for what he is.”
“So do you.”
“No, I had to learn from experience. You saw from the beginning. I could tell. He knows you don’t care for him. He just doesn’t understand why.”
Nathan started to tell her but thought better of it. They danced silently for a few moments before Kristin inclined her head. “They move very well together don’t they, Jack and your Carol. She’s been very kind to me during my stay here. She talks about you all the time. She obviously loves and misses you very much.”
Nathan groaned under his breath. Not only had Carol been working on the Senator but on his wife as well. “I’m sorry if she’s been…well…Carol doesn’t like living on Oahu. She’s can’t stand the ocean and her fondest dream is to see me posted to some boring administrative job somewhere landlocked.”
Kristin’s sable eyes bore into his blue. “You’d hate that. I can’t imagine you anywhere without the ocean.”
‘How can she know me so well, better than my own wife?’ Nathan thought to himself. “I can’t really imagine myself without the ocean.” They changed tempo slightly as the band moved into ‘A String of Pearls’. “You are a marvelous dancer.”
Kristin smiled at his praise, but then her smile faltered. “Jack is looking this way. We’ve probably danced long enough.” She tried to move away but Nathan held onto her.
“Why do you always do what he wants? What about what you want? Let’s go out on the balcony then he can’t see what you’re doing. You go and I’ll join you in a few minutes.” He saw the indecision in her eyes. “Please?”
Kristin backed out of his arms and thanked him graciously for the dance before moving away. Nathan melted back into the crowd and saw her accept a glass of champagne from a waiter before slipping through the open doors onto the balcony. Nathan stopped to speak with Admiral Kimmel until he was sure he’d been seen then made excuses and moving surreptitiously outdoors.
Couples were scattered around the balcony but it was by no means crowded. Nathan spotted Kristin waiting in the shadows of the balcony far away from the light. ‘She really doesn’t want him to know where she is’ he thought. Nathan couldn’t imagine living like that. His relationship with Carol had always been so open. He joined her in the shadows.
“Why don’t you leave him?”
Kristin sighed. “I did, once. Going back was the biggest mistake I ever made. Now, I don’t have anywhere to go. Cynthia loves him as if he was her father and I don’t doubt that he loves her. So I stay.”
“He is smothering you. You have so much to give. I bet you are a fantastic doctor.”
“Why did you want me to meet you out here? You’ve been avoiding me for the past two days. Do you really think that I believed that nonsense about having a woman on your submarine being bad luck?”
“It is a well-known superstition.”
“You didn’t want me there. You avoided the dinner last night. Why? I thought we were friends. I enjoyed having someone to talk to about the ocean…about everything. I felt like I could tell you anything.”
She looked at him pleadingly and he realized that she feared his rejection. “Kristin, I am your friend but…I love my wife. I am madly passionately in love with my wife.”
“I know that, Nathan.” He heard bewilderment in her voice. “I haven’t asked for anything more. I’d never be unfaithful to my marriage vows and I know you wouldn’t either. Are you upset because of your reaction during the football game? That was just a physiological response to the excitement of the game. Men can get very stimulated during sporting events. I know that it didn’t have anything to do with me.”
Nathan couldn’t believe his ears. Didn’t she have any idea how exciting she was? “Then how come it happens every single time I see you or I hear your voice. Hell, Bill or Janet mention your name and I’m hard as a rock!” He gave Kristin no time to react to his statement but took her in his arms pulling her fully against him so she could once again feel him. He heard her gasp. “No one I’ve ever met has had this effect on me, not even my wife. Do you understand now why I have to stay away? I love my wife but I’m falling in love with you too, Kristin.” He kissed her then, pouring all of his passion into the touch. Her mouth opened to him and tongues mingled tasting of champagne and each other as her hands caressed the back of his neck. The kiss was ended as quickly as it had begun both of them knowing that to continue was madness.
“You feel it too, don’t you?” Nathan whispered.
Kristin didn’t answer but confirmed his question with a small nod as she turned her face away.
Nathan brushed his fingertips across her cheek then turned and left while he still could. Kristin left a few moments later, brushing small tears from her eyes as she did so. As she disappeared the deep shadows stirred and a couple emerged. The woman looked at her man and shook her head. He nodded in agreement then they both moved back into the crowd of people.
Robert Hale Bridger was in love. He couldn’t believe the object of his affection was only sixteen years old but that didn’t matter. Cynthia seemed so much older.
Her father had watched her like a hawk all week but Ginny had helped them spend time together. The Senator had given him permission to escort Cynthia to the dance perhaps thinking that Robert would be a shield against other young men. Robert still expected to be watched and he had been for the first few hours but in the last hour they hadn’t seen either of Cynthia’s parents. He wanted to take her out to the balcony for a moment of privacy but knew that if the Senator caught them he might never see her again. They were sharing yet another dance when Kristin McCallister appeared at the edge of the floor beckoning to her daughter.
“Mummy, you look flushed. Do you have a fever?”
“I’m not feeling very well, darling, so I’m going to go back to the house. I can’t find your father but I’ve spoken with Janet Noyce. She’s agreed to keep an eye on you until your father returns if you’d like to stay for a while longer.”
“Thank you, Mummy, I’d like that very much. Are you sure you don’t need me to go home with you?” Cynthia felt Robert’s hand tighten on her arm but she had to ask.
“No thank you. I have a bit of a headache so I’m going to go straight to bed. Robert, I’m trusting you to be on your best behavior with my little girl.” Kristin had sensed the undercurrent between the two and sought to subtly remind the young man of her daughter’s age. “Have a good time and I’ll see you in the morning.”
Nathan saw Kristin gather her things and leave the party alone. He hadn’t meant to drive her away but her nearness and the darkness had pushed him into giving in to his baser instincts. He knew he would have to apologize. He couldn’t bear for her to go away without seeing her one more time. He’d take care of it tomorrow on the Arizona. With so many people around, there would be no chance for them to be alone but he could manage an apology she would understand. Nathan was surprised that Jack had allowed her to leave but as he looked around the ballroom he couldn’t locate the Senator. Curiosity got the better of him and he went into search mode.
Nathan worked his way through the ballroom without finding any trace of Jack McCallister so he decided to check the back offices. Luck paid off and he had time to dive into a dark alcove when he heard a door begin to open. A glance down the hall showed Jack emerging, his shift half buttoned and his tie loose around his neck. He repaired his appearance as he moved down the hall past Nathan. When the hallway was empty Nathan moved to the door McCallister had just closed and opened it. Someone was going to get a big surprise on Monday morning. All of the paperwork on the desk had been swept to the floor and left there. The smell of sex hung strongly in the air. “You son of a bitch!” Nathan muttered to himself as he noticed a woman’s scarf on the floor. He picked it up absently, his mind racing. He wondered if Kristin knew about her husband’s infidelity. For some reason Nathan knew that this wasn’t the first time it had happened and realized that Kristin must know. This was the reason she was so unhappy.
December 7th, 1941
Lifting a single eyelid told Nathan that the sun hadn’t risen. He sat up with a groan and stared at his wife through the bathroom door. “It’s barely 6am and it’s Sunday. What are you doing up?”
“I am getting ready to go to the Arizona to help set up for the Senator’s tour and special services. You just go back to sleep. I’m sorry I disturbed you.”
Nathan’s head began to ache dully. An argument between he and Carol was rare but last night’s had been a doozy. She was angry at Nathan’s refusal to play up to the Senator to advance his career but furious at his refusal to try and help Bobby in the same way. She didn’t understand why Nathan felt Bobby needed to advance without help from his father any more than she understood Nathan’s need to be at sea. Nathan had apologized profusely and Carol accepted but when they’d turned the lights out and he’d tried to kiss her she had turned away from him. Nathan had actually been relieved because he knew he had acted, at least in part, out of guilt over kissing Kristin.
“Carol, in just a few hours Senator John McCallister and his family will be on their way back stateside. Can’t we just put all of this behind us? I’ll talk to Bobby and if he wants my help I’ll put in a word with some people and ask Bill to do the same.”
The hard line of Carol’s back softened slightly. “I hear the rumors, Nathan. I know that it is just a matter of time before we are dragged into this war in Europe. There have been rumors flying around the base all week about the Japanese increasing their activity. I don’t want my son in the middle of all that. I don’t want you in the middle of it. I just want you both safe with me. I am willing to do anything that I have to so that it happens.”
Nathan accepted her motives as the basis for an easy truce. He swung his legs out of bed. “Why don’t I get dressed and drive you down to the harbor. I can get some work done on the sub while you are setting up. Once this is all over with maybe we can take Bobby out to dinner. I suspect he is going to be devastated when that little girl leaves.”
“They are quite taken with each other. I know she’s a bit young now but in a few years they will make a very handsome couple. I’m sure Jack would advance his son-in-law.”
Nathan’s mouth dropped in disbelief. “You just don’t get it do you?” He stalked into the bathroom and slammed the door.
Nathan stopped the car so that Carol could get out then continued his drive towards the submarine docks without saying a word. The entire trip had been made in silence. As Nathan passed the transport bay he noticed lights on and decided to see if Manilow Crocker was on duty. He and Gator had served on their first tour together and Nathan always tried to get in a visit when he was in port. Sure enough Gator was behind his desk when Nathan came through the door.
“Cap, good to see you. I heard you were in port. I guess you’ve been tied up with all the big wigs in town.”
The two men had settled down for coffee and memories when Gator’s phone rang again. He rolled his eyes. “Nobody’s working but everyone has somewhere to go. All of my duty drivers are picking up for that show at the Arizona this morning.” He scooped the phone to his ear. “Transport Bay, uh huh, yes ma’am. I’ll get on it right now. I’ll send a driver as soon as I have one.”
Gator slammed the phone back into its bay with an expletive. “Case in point, right there. I’ve already sent a car to take the Senator to the Arizona. My driver probably left his quarters two minutes ago and now the Senator’s wife needs a driver. Even if she wasn’t going to the show she could have gone in the same car then directed the driver on. Now I’ve got to find somebody to go pick her up.”
“Where does she want to go, Gator?”
“She didn’t say, just said she needed to leave the base for a while and could she have a car. Now I’ve got to get on the horn and find another driver. She’ll complain to her husband about having to wait and he’ll complain to Kimmel and my butt will be on the line.”
“I’ll tell you what. I’m feeling generous today. I’m not due anywhere for a while so I’ll go get the lady and take her where she wants to go. I’ll even use my own car.”
“I owe you big time for this one, Cap.”
Nathan stopped the car in front of the home that the McCallisters had been assigned, his cap pulled low over his face. He suspected that Kristin might not be happy to see him but at least he wouldn’t have to deal with Jack. Kristin must have been watching for the car lights because she came flying out of the house as soon as the car stopped. The sun hadn’t appeared above the horizon. She was dressed completely in black – shoes, skirt, and blouse. Nathan realized that he’d never seen her hair loose as it was now. She climbed into the back of the car.
Nathan changed the pitch of his voice in hope that she wouldn’t recognize him. “Where to, Ma’am?”
“Just get me off this base. I don’t care where.” Her voice was tense and Nathan knew that she and Jack must have argued. Could someone have seen them on the balcony? He didn’t think so but he couldn’t let Kristin suffer for his mistake. He put the car in gear and pointed it east around the coast and then up into the hills, heading to one of his favorite places on the island. Throughout the ride he listened to her gentle sobbing and watched her dab her tears in the rear view mirror.
Her head came up as the car came to a stop and he parked. “Why are we stopping?”
Nathan pulled his cap from his head and turned around. “Because I want to show you something, someplace special.”
“Oh, Nathan. Why did you do this? You were right about us staying away from each other. Take me back, please.”
Nathan climbed out of the car and opened the back door extending his hand to her. “Come with me. It won’t take long, I promise.” He led her up the path shining a flashlight to guide their way until they came to a small clearing. Kristin heard the sound of water but couldn’t see it. Nathan turned the flashlight off and they stood in total darkness, never touching but painfully aware of each other. Gradually the sun began to appear on the eastern horizon. As it filtered over to them Kristin realized she was standing on a rock ledge bordering a lush green clearing. Just in front of them was the edge of a dramatic drop off into the ocean. A small but gorgeous waterfall ran down the volcanic rock beside them. They stood in silence watching the sky change from gray to red, orange and yellow, at peace with nature and each other.
“Thank you. I shall never forget my last sunrise in Hawaii.”
“Kris, I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry about last night. I shouldn’t have kissed you. It wasn’t fair of me…I just…”
Kristin laid a hand on his arm. “I understand, Nathan. Actually, you’ve shown me that I have to make some very important decisions about my life. I thank you for that. I was blessed to find your friendship and I shall never forget you. I think that your wife is a very lucky woman.”
Kristin moved to step off the rock ledge just as Nathan reached to help her down. His hand gripped her waist to steady her and he felt her sharp intake of breath. He dropped them away as a cry escaped her lips and she fell to her knees.
“Nothing, I…twisted my ankle when I stepped. I’ll be fine in a moment.”
Nathan bent down and gripped Kristin’s waist to help her up, intending to carry her if he had to. Once again he heard a muffled gasp as his hands took hold of her waist. “You are not fine. What the hell is wrong?”
Nathan dropped to his knees beside her and grabbed the back of her blouse. Kristin realized too late what he intended to do and pulled sharply away when she felt his hand. “NO!” but Nathan wouldn’t be dissuaded. He reached around to the front of her blouse and pulled. The buttons flew from the delicate fabric as it ripped and the blouse slid down her arms.
Kristin closed her eyes and covered her naked breasts with her hands as Nathan perused her upper body. “Oh my God” she heard him mutter. She flinched as his finger lightly touched one of the many bruises that covered her torso. Kristin staggered to her feet and tried to move away but Nathan refused to let her go. His hand brushed a bruise at her waistband before moving to the zipper of her skirt. She stood wordlessly as the garment slid to the ground revealing her almost completely to his gaze, the only barrier her cotton panties.
“He beat you, the bastard hit you!” It was a statement but she answered it nonetheless. “Yes”
Nathan’s eyes fell to the bruises covering her inner thighs. “He…forced you?”
Kristin’s silence spoke volumes.
“I’ll kill him.” Kristin was amazed that anyone could make that statement with such calmness in their voice but she had no doubt that Nathan meant it. He lifted her skirt back up to her waist and gently pulled the zipper up to anchor it back in place.
“That won’t be necessary. I’m going to leave him when we get back to Washington. This is the last time I let him do this to me.”
“He’s done this before? You won’t have to leave him once I’m through with him. Oh, God, this is my fault. He found out I kissed you last night and he did this to you.”
Tears came to Kristin’s eyes. “It isn’t your fault Nathan, it’s mine. At least in his eyes.”
Kristin found herself sitting in Nathan’s lap, sobbing in his embrace. “Tell me. Please?” he asked.
“Jack wants a son, a house full of sons. I was an established breeder with a good pedigree so he married me. Stupid me thought that he loved me. Maybe he did in the beginning. I don’t know anymore. He became very frustrated when I didn’t get pregnant. Eventually he hit me, just once and he felt so guilty. He cried and pleaded with me to forgive him. It didn’t happen again for over a year.”
“That’s when you left him.”
She nodded. “I went home to England, worked in the village I grew up in and tried to raise Cynthia by myself. She didn’t understand. She had already lost one father and couldn’t deal with losing another. A year later Jack begged me to come back. He said that he had dealt with his anger and swore he’d never hurt me again. In reality he had decided to run for the Senate. I went back for Cynthia’s sake. Things went very well for several months but…I didn’t conceive. The beatings became worse and more frequent, every time my monthly cycle began, the older I got. My body stopped behaving normally. He’s afraid to hit me if I haven’t had my period for fear it might damage a nonexistent child so when the cycles do come the beatings are very bad. I had one this week, which I tried to hide from him. He had to be careful her because Cynthia was sleeping in the next room instead of on another floor but last night she slept over with Ginny Noyce.”
“How could he hurt you? You’re so beautiful. He should be grateful that you married him but instead he beats you up and cheats on you.” Nathan tried to stop the words but couldn’t. He felt her tense in his arms.
“I didn’t mention that so you must have another source. I understand that he’s known around Washington as the Capitol Hill Stud. But I’m not going to be his punching bag anymore.”
“God I wish things were different!”
Kristin cupped Nathan’s cheek in the palm of her hand. “No you don’t. You love your wife. I know you wouldn’t wish her away. I’ll be gone in a few hours and your life will get back to normal. You’ll forget all about the pushy English broad.”
“I’ll never ever forget you, Sweetheart.” Nathan closed the distance between their faces, meeting her mouth with an intensity that startled them both. She responded in kind. Their kisses went from gentle to passionate and back again, rejoicing in the one intimacy they would allow themselves just this once. Eventually they broke apart, breaths coming in staccato bursts, resting their foreheads against each other with eyes closed. When their breathing had returned to normal they found themselves gazing at each other in wonder. Both of them were imbued with a strong sense of honor and neither would betray their marriage vows but they recognized that the bond between them was something special.
Kristin found the strength to break the moment, reminding them both of their obligations. “We have to go back. You’re due on the Arizona at 9am and it’s almost 8 now.”
Nathan reluctantly agreed and moved to help her stand. “What about you? Does the jack ass expect you?”
“No, I’m going to be busy packing for our return home. He can’t take a chance on anyone seeing my bruises or commenting on my choice of clothing. Or lack of…” she smiled as she tried to pull her blouse back on but the garment was ruined. “I’ll make a run for the door. Maybe no one will see me.”
Nathan unbuttoned the shirt of his khaki uniform to reveal a heavy white tee shirt beneath. He shrugged the shirt off and offered it to her. “This will cover you a little bit better. I’ll stop by the sub and pick up another one on the way.”
Kristin accepted the shirt with a smile and he helped her pull it to her shoulders. She was buttoning it up when she noticed Nathan cock his head toward the sky. “What’s wrong?”
He brought his fingers to her lips and she heard the sound as well, the hum of an airplane engine, more than one. One airplane appeared overhead, then another. Suddenly the sky seemed to be full of them. Nathan swore and grabbed her hand. “Come on. We have to get back to base now!” He began dragging her down the path. She stumbled on a rock and he caught her as she fell. “I’m sorry, Sweetheart, but we have to hurry.”
“What’s wrong, Nathan. I don’t understand. Is it some sort of exercise? Are they putting on a show for Jack?”
“I think your Mr. Churchill just got his birthday wish. Those were Japanese war planes and they are headed straight for Pearl.” The sound of an explosion in the background punctuated his words.
“Cynthia!” Nathan barely heard Kristin’s whisper but he felt the emotion behind it. Explosions roared like thunder as they raced back to the car.
Nathan took a little used back entrance into the base but travel was still slow. Smoke limited visibility and debris pelted the car. Kristin sat beside him pale and silent until he pulled the car to the side of the road. “We’re going to have to walk from here. Most of the action seems to be near the harbor but I don’t want take any chances. I’ll get you to Janet and then go on.”
“But what if they’d already left for the Arizona? We have to go there!”
Nathan pulled Kristin out of the car. “You have to listen to me and do what I say. Do you understand?”
Kristin nodded and took Nathan’s hand. He led her between homes and through gardens until she was completely turned around but in a few minutes they stepped out into the Noyce’s back garden and ran for the house. Kristin ran through the door screaming for Cynthia but no one answered. She was becoming hysterical when Nathan grabbed her and shook her gently. “Janet’s car is still in the drive.” He led Kristin into the kitchen and stopped by a narrow door Kristin hadn’t noticed while visiting. She could see that steps led down into the dark. Nathan moved to the first step and yelled. “Janet, are you here? It’s Nathan!”
They heard movement and Janet face appeared. Nathan pulled her through the door and closed it behind her. They embraced. “The girls?” Nathan asked as he nodded toward the door.
“I told them to stay safe- Ginny and Cynthia.”
“Thank you God.” Kristin whispered and burst into tears. Janet immediately wrapped her arms around Kristin, not noticing her flinch.
“Where is Bill?”
“I don’t know. He left early to run by the office before going to the Arizona. I had a headache so he was going to send a car back for the girls. I haven’t heard anything else. What’s happening, Nathan?”
“The planes are Japanese. You take Kristin and go back to the cellar. I’m going to try to get to the harbor and find out what is happening. I’ll send word as soon as I know anything.”
Nathan turned to Kristin. “I’ve got to try and find Carol and Bobby. You’ll be safe here. Janet will look after you.”
Kristin nodded wordlessly and Nathan was afraid she was going into shock. He placed a kiss on the top of her head then moved away, catching Janet’s eye so that she would follow him.
When they were alone in the hall Nathan started to speak but Janet stopped him. “You don’t owe me any explanation Nathan.”
“Nothing happened between us Janet, I swear. She needed a friend. That bastard raped her and beat her up. She’s black and blue. I’m afraid she may be hurt worse than she will admit. Will you help her?”
After giving her word and seeing Nathan off into the haze, Janet stood at the door for a few moments staring into the fiery sky. She whispered a silent prayer for her husband’s safety before moving back into the kitchen. Kristin was still huddled by the door, one hand picking at the sleeve of the top she wore. Nathan’s uniform top, Janet realized. She picked up a blouse from the laundry area and offered it to Kristin. “Maybe you want to change before you see Cyn?”
Kristin automatically went through the motions of removing the shirt. A cry slipped from Janet’s lips when she saw the extent of Kristin’s injuries. What kind of monster could have done that?
“I assume that Nathan told you what happened?” Kristin’s eyes were wary.
“He told me that Jack hurt you. I don’t need to know any more than that. I’m your friend and I’m going to help you any way I can.” A loud explosion shook the kitchen. “That was closer. Let’s get below with the girls before they get scared and come after me.” Janet glanced at the clock as she closed the door.
The time was 0855.
Nathan fought his way through the haze towards the fiery inferno ahead. He thought that the intensity of the attack might have dropped off a bit but he couldn’t be sure. His ears picked up the sound of anti aircraft fire. ‘Thank God we’re fighting back’. He finally made his way to the docks and stumbled in the direction of the Arizona. His Captain’s instinct told him to report to the Dolphin but he knew the Arizona was closer and love of family won out. He couldn’t believe the carnage he saw all around him and prayed that the Dolphin and her crew were unhurt.
Time passed in slow motion as he searched but chaos reigned all around him and he couldn’t pinpoint his location. Bombs began to burst in the sky and he realized that the attack was once again intensifying. He reached the spot where he thought the battleship should be but all he saw was a ball of fire. ‘This has to be the wrong spot.’ He thought to himself but he knew it wasn’t. Someone grabbed him from behind and Nathan began to fight. “Let me go. I’ve got to get out there. I’ve got to get to my wife and kid!” He fought like a madman until a solid right hook knocked him unconscious.
A glass of cold water in the face brought Nathan back to consciousness. He sputtered and jumped up, anxious to continue the fight but was disoriented by his surroundings. “Nathan!” Bill Noyce’s voice reached through the haze and he realized that he was in the Admiral’s office.
“What happened? Please tell me it was a dream!” Nathan heard the bombs falling even as he spoke.
“The Japanese are attacking us, started about one and a half hours ago. We had a lull and were able to mobilize some defense strategies but they caught us with our britches down.”
“How did I get here? I remember being at your house and then trying to get to the harbor.”
“You’ve seen Janet? She’s okay…and Ginny?”
Nathan nodded. “They’re in the basement with Kristin and Cynthia. How did I get here, Bill?”
Bill Noyce had aged ten years in the last hour and it showed in his face. Somehow he had to give his best friend the worst possible news. “Lieutenant Kreig brought you here. He found you at the dock trying to fight your way onto the Arizona.”
“The Arizona…Carol and Bobby are there. I’ve got to find them.”
Bill gripped Nathan’s arm and faced him, compassion in his eyes. “The Arizona is gone, Nathan. We think she took direct hits in the first wave. She exploded and went down. We don’t know if anyone got off.”
Nathan’s mind was grasping; refusing to accept what Bill was telling him. “Ben got off. He wouldn’t have left Bobby and Bobby wouldn’t have left Carol.”
“Ben wasn’t on the ship when the attack started. He had gone ashore to perform an errand for Senator McCallister, who was also on the ship.”
“McCallister was there? Damn it! How can I kill him if…”
Bill Noyce was taken back. He’d never heard Nathan Bridger threaten anyone, much less a United States Senator. “You’re in shock, Nathan. Stay here until we get this under control. I promise you we will do every thing we can to find them.”
The women had slowly emerged from the shallow basement, Janet and Kristin first and, after their mothers were sure the danger was passed Ginny and Cynthia. The electricity was off and the phone was out. They all wanted to find out what had happened but Janet insisted that everyone stay inside the house until word came from Bill or Nathan. That word finally appeared in the form of Lieutenant Benjamin Kreig. The young man knocked quietly on the door half hoping that no one would answer and he would be spared the task ahead of him. His face fell even further when Janet opened the door.
“Hello, Mrs. Noyce. The Admiral sent me to bring you word.”
A single tear formed in Janet’s eye as she slipped through the door and closed it behind her. “Bill is okay?”
“Yes, ma’am. Admiral Noyce had gone to his office before the assault began. He is fine, although he doesn’t know when he will be home. Things are crazy.”
“Of course, Lieutenant. What is wrong with your arm? Are you hurt?”
“I’m not sure, ma’am. I’ll report to the hospital after I finish my duties.”
“What could be so important that you can’t go now?”
“I have to find Mrs. McCallister and Cynthia. I have to tell them…”
“Tell me what, Ben?” Kristin had slipped through the front door without either of them noticing. “Did you find Nathan? Is he hurt? What about Carol and Bobby?”
Ben was surprised that Kristin asked about the Bridger family instead of her husband but he didn’t show it.
“Captain Bridger is with Admiral Noyce. He is unhurt, at least physically. In fact he’s the one who got my arm.” Both women were shocked. Kristin instantly began a medical examination of Ben’s left arm, which hung limply at his side.
“It is not broken but strained badly. You need to have this seen to immediately. I’ll immobilize it until you can get to the hospital. Why did Nathan hurt you?”
“I was attempting to stop him from boarding the Arizona, or trying to at least. There was nothing left to board.”
A small cry escaped Janet’s mouth. “Did…”
“No, ma’am. From what we can gather she was hit hard and exploded. She went down almost immediately. We…we haven’t found any survivors.”
“None? Carol? Bobby? Both gone?”
“And Jack. He was there too.” Kristin’s voice was flat, emotionless.
“Yes, Mrs. McCallister. We know that the Senator was on board below deck when the Arizona exploded. We’ve found no survivors who were below deck.”
Janet moved to Kristin’s side. “I’m so sorry.”
“How do I tell Cynthia? She has already lost one father.” Kristin had gone very pale yet her cheeks were flushed. Janet moved a hand to her forehead and found that Kristin had a temperature.
“You need to go to the hospital. Are the roads clear, Ben? I’ll drive you both.”
Kristin shook her head. “I’d like to go to the hospital. I’m sure they need help, but I’ve got to talk to Cyn first.” She moved back to the door with Janet and Ben reluctantly following her. Cynthia stood when they entered the parlor, knowing by her mother’s face that something was wrong. In halting words, Kristin gently told her daughter what had happened and that her father was missing, along with Carol and Bobby Bridger. Cynthia took the news as badly as Kristin feared she would, bursting into tears and throwing her arms around her mother in a desperate embrace. Kristin returned the embrace but Janet could see her biting her bottom lip and noticed the sheen of perspiration on her forehead.
She motioned to Ginny and gently disengaged Cynthia, transferring her to Ginny’s embrace but it was too late. No sooner had Cynthia released her mother, than Kristin slid to the floor in a dead faint.
December 8, 1941
Bill parked the car and rested his forehead on the wheel for a few moments before opening the door. Midnight had long gone and still they had searched with no success. Nathan sat motionless beside him in a state of shock. The sun would be up in a few hours and Bill would be back in the midst of things trying to make order out of chaos but he had to see his family and Nathan had to have rest. With a deep sigh he climbed out of the car and pulled Nathan out after him. “We’re home. Come on inside. You’ll stay with Janet and I, no arguments.” Nathan followed Bill inside. Janet was waiting at the door, greeting Bill with a wordless embrace and a long kiss.
“You should be in bed.”
“I couldn’t sleep. I got a quick nap earlier. I’ve got coffee and some sandwiches waiting.”
Bill nodded, not remembering the last time he’d eaten. He ate ravenously and after some gently prodding from Janet, Nathan did as well. The food seemed to help Nathan, making him more aware of his surroundings. Unfortunately his awareness brought his tears. Janet held him as he cried gently. “We can’t find any trace of them, Janet. They are gone, both of them. I never got a chance…Carol and I had a fight this morning. We didn’t even say good-bye. While they were being attacked I was…”
“Nathan, don’t do this to yourself. Carol and Bobby knew you loved them. Everything that has happened in the last twenty-four hours seems like a nightmare. I wish we could wake up and find out that’s exactly what it was but that isn’t going to happen. You helped someone who desperately needed help. You did nothing wrong. Do you understand me?”
Nathan nodded although it was clear he didn’t believe her.
Bill looked puzzled, not understanding a great deal of the conversation. “Nathan said Kristin was here with you this morning. Is she still here? We’ve notified the president about the senator’s death. He’s making special arrangements for her transport out of here.”
Janet licked her lips nervously. “You need to put a stop to that, Bill, at least for the moment. Kristin and Cynthia will be staying with us for a while. Neither one is in any fit shape to travel. Cynthia is in shock and Kristin…well…”
“What’s wrong? Has she seen a doctor?” Nathan interjected.
“Kristin collapsed. I sent Ben to the hospital and Dr. Levin was able to come over here for a few minutes. She’s resting in the spare room upstairs. He doesn’t think she should be moved for several days.” Janet glanced at Bill, knowing he was lost. She’d never kept secrets from him and wasn’t about to start now. “She has three broken ribs and Joshua thinks there may have been some internal bleeding but it’s stopped now. She’s running a fever. The trauma on top of the shock…” Janet stopped speaking as Nathan stood up and left the room without speaking a word.
“Would you like to tell me what is going on?” Bill asked.
“Sit down, sweetheart. This could take a few minutes.”
A sharp knock at the door woke Nathan from a deep but troubled sleep. He still sat in a chair next to the bed where Kristin slept. When he’d left the parlor that night he’d come straight to her side, not waking her but needing to know that she was okay, that someone he cared about had come out alive in this crazy mess. The knock sounded again and Nathan moved to answer the door.
Bill stood in the doorway with a tray of food and coffee. Nathan stood aside to allow him to enter and he sat the tray on a small table.
“Janet thought you might like something…Sweet Jesus!” Bill was shocked at the dark bruises visible on Kristin’s arms and shoulders. “Janet told me but I had no idea!”
“She’s bruised from neck to ankle. The bastard is lucky they got him first. If I’d gotten to him earlier, Carol and Bobby would probably have been visiting me in the brig instead of being on that boat.”
“If you’d gotten there earlier you might have been on the boat as well. Why don’t you have something to eat? Janet’s got our room fixed up for you to get some sleep today.”
“You’re going back?”
Bill nodded. “We’ve got to recover, get ready for the next fight. President Roosevelt will be making a declaration of war today.”
“I’m going with you. I need to get to the Dolphin, find out how she fared, how my crew is. We’ll have to get her seaworthy quickly.”
“Nathan, you don’t have to do this. No one expects you to do this now. Take a few days to recover.”
“And do what, Bill? The Japanese killed my family, attacked my country. I’m a US naval officer. I know my duty. Just give me a few minutes to get cleaned up.”
Once again Bill nodded. Perhaps keeping busy was the best thing for Nathan right now. “Janet sent Ginny over to pick up some clean clothes for you. I’ll wait downstairs.”
Bill left the room and Nathan returned to the bedside to stare at Kristin. “I have to go.” He whispered. “I’m sorry but I have to do this.”
Nathan left the room without noticing the small tears that escaped from Kristin’s eyes.
December 19th, 1941
Captain Nathan Bridger looked as if he were carved of stone as he stood at attention while the bugler played taps in honor of his lost son. The navy chaplain spoke a few more words, said a prayer and the private memorial service was over. Janet had done a wonderful job arranging the service, knowing that Nathan needed some sense of closure.
The Dolphin had sustained little damage in the attack and even managed to return fire, possibly even bringing down a Japanese plane. Nathan was proud of the way his crew had performed in his absence. Two days after the attack on the sub, with Nathan at the helm they had left Pearl to help search for Japanese submarines in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands. They’d only returned the previous day and were scheduled to depart on full patrol in the Pacific in five days time. By the time Nathan returned they had all known that no more survivors of the Arizona would be found. His mind had accepted that his family was gone but his heart refused to do so.
Nathan turned to greet the small group of people waiting to speak to him – the Noyce family, Benjamin Kreig, Manilow Crocker, and Kristin and Cynthia McCallister. He acknowledged their words of comfort without really hearing them. Janet pulled gently on Bill’s jacket and motioned him toward the door. “Leave him alone. He has to find his own way to grieve. I’m sure he will come to the house later.”
Once he was alone in the chapel, Nathan turned to the two pictures at the front, Bobby in full dress uniform and Carol sitting on the beach. Pictures, all that was left of his family. Nathan’s shoulders began to shake but he made no sound. He started when he felt a pair of soft arms surround his shoulders but quickly gave way to his grief, his silent sobs now vocal as he returned the embrace, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Kristin held the grieving man until no more tears would come and his shaking body became still within her arms. Finally Nathan pulled back.
“For what, Nathan? For being human? For hurting? That isn’t anything to be sorry for. I was worried about you because you haven’t cried, at least not since that first night.”
“Have you cried?”
Kristin eyed Nathan shrewdly before answering. “Some, in private. Mostly for Cynthia’s hurt and also for you. Have I cried for John McCallister? Not a tear. Perhaps that makes me a horrible person but I mourned the loss of the man I married a long time ago and I’ll not shed a single tear for the loss of the monster that he became.”
Nathan tightened his arms again, pulling Kristin back into his embrace. “I don’t have any idea what to do now.”
“I told you once that the ocean brings me peace and I think it does the same for you. Go to sea. Do your duty, not for some misguided sense of revenge but because you are a US naval officer and you know your job. I think that you will find whatever you need there.”
Nathan nodded then slowly lowered his head to Kristin’s, their mouths meeting in a tender kiss, not of passion but of comfort. They broke apart with a smile at each other.
“Come on, Sailor. Janet is expecting you back at the house.” She linked her arms through his as they left the church.
December 24th, 1941
The sleek lines of the USS Dolphin sliced through the shallow water as she circled left around the island of Oahu in search of deeper water on her way to patrol duty in the Marshall Islands. Her Captain stood on deck watching the water part before them, the wind on his face and the spray on his skin making him feel more alive than he had in the past three weeks.
‘Perhaps Kristin was right. Maybe the sea can heal my heart.’ Nathan felt a small pang as he thought of Kristin. He had his work to occupy his time but he wondered how she was going to cope now that she no longer had to play the Senator’s wife. He hadn’t seen her since the afternoon of the memorial service but Janet told him that Kristin had already begun helping out at the base hospital. Nathan sincerely hoped that once Kristin got back to Washington she would be able to find meaningful work to keep her mind occupied. Then perhaps one day…
Nathan cut the thought off quickly. He knew that he and Kristin shared strong feelings but he loved his wife and her death hadn’t changed that.
“Look, sir.” Communications officer Tim O’Neill’s voice cut through Nathan’s musing. “Isn’t that ‘your’ spot?” Nathan’s officers had sailed with him enough to recognize the overlook that Nathan always tried to pass on the outbound voyage.
“Indeed it is, Mr. O’Neill. Thank you.” Nathan stared at the outcrop in the distance for a long moment before turning and calling for binoculars. A pair was quickly produced and he trained them back towards the island.
Nathan’s breath caught in his throat as he observed the woman standing on the rock ledge.
Kristin smiled as she watched the submarine in the distance. Although it was too far away for her to recognize any particular person she knew that Nathan would be on deck and she sensed that he was watching her as well.
Nathan saw Kristin’s lips move and heard her words in his heart. ‘Be safe, Nathan Bridger, until we meet again.’ She pulled her hand back then forward and Nathan smiled as the lei flew across the cliff into the churning waters at the base of the waterfall. He watched, and she watched, until the submarine disappeared over the horizon.