Natalie Vega sat on the edge of the bed, frowning as
she watched Cristian finish dressing. Her husband
had made it clear he wanted to go the therapy
appointment alone but Natalie has never been a person
to back down from anything she wanted, and right now
she wanted to be completely in the loop with Cristian
and his doctor regarding his treatment.
"Cristian, let me go with you for your first
appointment with Dr. Barnes. He may want to ask me
some questions too."
Cristian’s back visibly stiffened and his hands paused
in the task buttoning his shirt as he suppressed an
outburst. He had been mistaken in believing that
agreeing to undergo psychiatric treatment would get
his wife to stop pressuring him. At moments like
these he thought it had been a mistake for him to
return to Llanview, but his love for Natalie left him
few options. If only she would give him more time to
adjust to being back home, Cristian was sure he would
be able to make it work between them again. However
more than anything he wanted to escape the pressure of
being "like Cristian again" and just figure out who he
was now. Sighing, he said, "Natalie, I'm not a child
where my guardian has to be with me for a doctor’s
appointment. I'm going to the psychiatrist to try and
figure out what's wrong with me. I'm not going to
skip out on the appointment and not go, if that's what
"It would just be easier for you if I went with you,
for support," Natalie explained, persisting in hope
that Cristian would relent and let her accompany him.
"I just want to help you in any way I can so we can
get back to the life we had before you went away."
Cristian walked to the bed and pulled Natalie to her
feet, and held her in an embrace as he continued
talking. "That may not happen for a long time, if
ever. You are not the same person I married more than
a year ago and even after seeing a doctor I won’t be
the old Cristian. Those people are gone Natalie and
you need begin to accept it. I'm seeing this doctor
because it will make you happy and also because I want
to go forward with my life, our life together."
"I want that too Cristian. I love you so much."
"Then just be patient with me as I work through this,"
he pleaded. "It will take more than one or two
doctor’s appointments to fix things. Are you willing
to give us time and not to expect overnight changes or
"You know I will Cristian. I've waited more than a
year for you to come back to me so I can certainly
wait a bit longer to regain what we've left behind."
Cristian’s stomach tightened in a knot upon hearing
Natalie’s last words. Why was she so fixated on
things being like they were before he left? Just the
pressure of meeting her expectations had a suffocating
effect on him. Leaving to go to the psychiatrist
appointment would be a relief from the constant
pressure. Upon giving Natalie a quick kiss on the
forehead, Cristian made his exit.
The sharp, rapid clicks of the Dolce and Gabbana shoes
on the hospital floor prompted Michael McBain to lift
his eyes from the paperwork at the nurses’ station. A
wide grin was on his face as he watched Evangeline
walk towards him. From her typically impeccable
business attire he knew she was at the hospital for
business reasons, but he couldn't resist greeting his
friend with a teasing remark.
"You're too good and expensive a lawyer to be
ambulance chasing. What brings you to the hospital?"
Laughing, Evangeline explained, "I'm here to get a
deposition from a hospital patient who's unable appear
in court, for your information. Ambulance chasing
Having arrived early for the deposition, Evangeline
exchanged some lighthearted verbal spars with Michael.
She was happy to hear that he was making headway in
his relationship with Marcie and proceeded to try and
arrange an upcoming dinner date with Marcie and
Michael. As he was on the verge of replying, Michael
noticed John exiting the elevator and approach them.
John placed his index finger to his lips signaling
Michael not to alert Evangeline of his presence.
While Evangeline continued to throw out possible times
for a foursome date, John smoothly encircled his arms
around the lovely attorney’s waist and nuzzled his
nose in her hair.
"John." Evangeline released a sigh when she realized
John was there and covered his hands with hers.
"Hey," John said using his standard greeting. "I've
been missing you."
"Hmmm," Evangeline murmured, echoing the sentiment as
she settled in his embrace. "It is a sure sign we have
to make time for each other when we only cross paths
during the days as we're on our way to meetings."
"Well, let's arrange a private meeting tonight for the
two of us at the Palace restaurant." More than
anything John wanted some serious downtime with
Evangeline tonight. He had planned to call her later
in the afternoon but this chance meeting at the
hospital allowed him to see his lady and make the date
at the same time.
"I was in the process of organizing a double date with
Michael and Marcie. Maybe we all can meet tonight,"
Evangeline's back was to John and she couldn't see
John silently mouthed the words, "Not a chance; no way
tonight." Fighting a burst of laughter, Michael took
pity on his older brother and suggested another
evening for the foursome get-together.
Evangeline glanced at the wall clock and said,
"Listen, you two work it out. I should get going to my
meeting. Turning to John she smiled and said, "I'll
see you later tonight." At that moment Cristian Vega
walked towards to nurses’ station. His pace slowed
considerably once he recognized John and then abruptly
he began walking swiftly and passed the trio without
saying a word. John and Evangeline kissed and she
headed down the corridor. Within a minute she caught
up with Cristian who was looking at the floorplan on
the wall that illustrated the office locations on that
particular hospital floor. From the puzzled look on
his face it was obvious he was looking for an office
and not being very successful in doing it.
"This wing of the hospital is especially confusing,"
Evangeline commented. "I'm not trying to be nosy but
do you need any help in finding something?"
"I'm looking for office 480."
"Here it is on the map. Actually it is almost around
the corner from the patient’s room I'm going to now,
room 492." Evangeline pointed out the location on the
Cristian observed that Evangeline didn't make the
obvious suggestion that they’d walk together.
Considering how brisk he'd been with her recently, her
reticence really didn't surprise him. For some reason
he had an impulsive desire to see her smile so he
smiled shyly himself and offered, "Well, maybe we can
walk together so neither one of us will get lost."
Instead of a smile, Cristian was rewarded with
Evangeline’s slightly startled expression. He quickly
faked a cough and raised his hand to his mouth to hide
the grin he couldn't suppress. Murmuring her
agreement to his unexpected suggestion, Evangeline
started walking along side Cris down the hallway.
Preferring to talk rather than walk in silence, partly
to take his mind off the upcoming session with the
psychiatrist, Cristian challenged Evangeline by
asking, "You know, for a lawyer you don't ask a lot of
"Why do you say that?" Evangeline responded, tilting
her head as she gave Cris a sidewards glance.
"You've mentioned why you're here at the hospital but
you haven’t asked me why I was here or whom I'm going
to see," Cristian said in a matter-of-fact tone of
"I assume you’re here to talk to someone about your
adjustment back here in Llanview but it's really none
of my business. You made that very clear to me the
day at your art exhibit when I offered to help you
Upon being reminded of his hostile behavior towards a
woman who had been sympathetic to his plight, Cristian
offered a long overdue apology. "I'm sorry. I
remember that night and the pressure I was under, but
it was no excuse for how I acted with you. I'm
surprised that you're even speaking with me or at the
very least that you didn't mention it to McBain. You
didn't mention it, did you? Otherwise he would have
been in my face about it."
Evangeline slowly replied, "No, I didn't tell John. I
don't know you well but I can only imagine what you've
been through and how hard your adjustment is now.
People with much less intense issues seek help and
it's a good thing that you’re finally doing it now."
Cristian conveyed some of his apprehension by stating,
"I've never been to a psychiatrist in my life."
Being careful to stare straight ahead and not gaze
directly at her walking companion, Evangeline spoke
softly saying, "It isn't that bad. And quite often it
really can be helpful."
Cristian stopped walking, forcing Evangeline to stop
also and turn to look at him. "If I didn't know better
it almost sounds as if you’re speaking from personal
Nodding ever so slightly, Evangeline confessed, "I
am." Never in a million years could Evangeline
imagine sharing such personal information with someone
whom she barely knew, but thinking her experience
would aid Cristian, she decided to let him briefly
enter past the perfect image she consciously presents
"In college I had a hard time adjusting to being away
from home, meeting the expectations of my family, and
dealing with an abusive boyfriend who was certain to
become a wife beater," Evangeline paused, and watched
as an expression of amazement spread across Cristian's
face. "It only took about six months for me to talk
to someone professionally and get my life back on
track. The important thing is to pick someone who's
good and whom you can trust and to stick with it as
long as it takes." Lightly touching his hand,
Evangeline froze for a few seconds, surprised to feel
a physical and emotional connection with the
temperamental young man who had listened to her so
Cristian used his other hand to sandwich Evangeline's
hand between his own and remarked, "Thanks for the
advice. I really mean it." He recognized right away
that Evangeline was going far outside her comfort zone
to help him deal with his problems, and the generous
gesture affected him deeply. She wasn't doing it to
feel good about herself or to get a certain reaction
from him; she was simply doing something to help him.
The approaching footsteps of a doctor made them aware
of their surroundings again and they continued walking
toward their destination. A somewhat awkward silence
between them remained until they reached room 480, Dr.
Upon giving Cristian a last word of encouragement,
Evangeline turned and started walking away. After
several seconds she glanced over her shoulder and
fully expected to see that Cristian was gone. Instead
he was still standing at the office door, not moving.
Her heart really did go out to him at that moment.
Evangeline couldn't begin to imagine the experiences
that Cristian was fearful of revisiting; she too would
have been afraid to enter that office. Not
hesitating, she joined him again at the office door.
"Hey," she said as she made an invitation, "my meeting
shouldn't last more than an hour and then I'm heading
for lunch. Would you like to join me?"
"You’re putting yourself out there quite a lot for me
today, aren't you?" Cristian saw Evangeline’s face
flush. He hadn't meant to embarrass her with his
observation and he quickly said, "Yes, I would like
that very much."
"O.K. If I finish first I will come back here and
will wait for you. If you finish first come to room
"I'll look forward to it." Finally placing his hand
on the door knob, Cristian opened the door and entered
the psychiatrist's office.