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Chapter 1

It was 7:05 AM and Eve was getting off at Waterloo Station and heading to Westminster Bridge Road. It was getting colder in London and Eve, as always, had on a signature maroon beanie, grey scarf, and a large black coat. Holding her second steaming coffee of the morning, she knew she was going to need another. And soon.


St. Thomas Hospital was only an 8-minute walk from the station, but the early mornings never got easier, despite how many times Eve has made this exact walk. She knew it like the back of her hand, which was quite helpful in this case, as she was definitely not fully awake yet. 


She had to wake up especially early today as Carolyn Martens, the Chief Surgeon, had called a mandatory meeting for all the consultants and (some of) the registrars in the conference room. 


The consultants all had their favorite registrars that they relied on for work and controlling the interns so these registrars were brought along pretty much everywhere. 


Eve’s favorite was Elena. Eve didn’t like to brag, but Elena did and she frequently said that they were an unstoppable team. And, she wasn’t wrong. They first met 3 years ago when Elena started her training at St. Thomas. They got on instantly and have been inseparable ever since. It wasn’t uncommon for consultants and registrars to be friends, but Eve and Elena were joined at the hip. 


Eve loved Elena like a little sister, despite their obvious differences. Eve wasn’t quiet, but she often got stuck in her head, primarily when it came to work. Elena, on the other hand, had very little filter. She said just about whatever she was thinking, never failing to keep Eve entertained -- and just as embarrassed. But, they loved each other no matter how different they were as people.


Elena supported Eve when she went through her divorce with Niko, which was only official 6 months ago, but the agony of going through it all lasted a whole year. It took a toll on Eve, more than she cares to admit. 


Niko wasn’t the nicest husband. He made Eve feel awful about her choice in her career and constantly belittled her and her accomplishments -- which were very impressive. 


So, when he brought up divorce, just over a year ago, Eve agreed. They cared for each other but there was no love or passion anymore. 


Elena stuck by Eve the whole time. Letting her crash on her couch for weeks, before pushing Eve to find a place of her own (in a supportive friend way). 


Now, Eve was better. Not fully recovered from the end of her 12-year marriage, but better. She hadn’t been with anyone since Niko, and she was fine with that. But, Elena was not. 


She constantly asked Eve to go out to clubs with her, always talking about her having a one-night stand with some hot guy. Eve refused every time, but Elena continued to be more persistent, a trait Eve thought was great in her profession but not so much in her personal life. 


Eve got to Westminster Bridge Road and walked through the pedestrian entrance of the hospital. Many of her coworkers had cars, bikes, motorcycles -- any other form of transportation that was not the train. And while Eve loved her own company, she enjoyed the train and the walk to the hospital. Mostly because as soon as she walked into the building, she had her choice of three different coffee stands. Three. 


She knew all the baristas quite well, so she alternated between the three stands throughout the week, and sometimes even throughout the day. 


She walked through glass automated doors and picked the closest coffee stand to the elevator, as she was already running late to the meeting. 


She smiled at the barista, him already knowing Eve’s order. When she picked up her Americano, she handed him a few banknotes, quickly shoving the change in the plastic tip jar.


As she made her way to the elevator, she heard a familiar voice coming from behind her. 


“Hugo, I do not care about the girl you shagged last night. I literally couldn’t care less!” The voice half-yelled in the public hallway.


Oh, Elena.


Eve smiled and turned around, coming face to face with Elena and Hugo. Hugo was Jess’s favorite registrar -- Jess being the consultant of pediatric surgery. For some reason, Hugo was actually good with children. Maybe because he was one himself, who knows. 


Elena and Hugo were about the same age and were both registrars of the same year so they were around each other quite a lot. Kenny too. He was Konstantin’s (the consultant of cardiothoracic surgery) favorite registrar despite being Carolyn’s son. Eve always giggled to herself whenever she thought of this. Carolyn’s son not being her favorite registrar.


When Elena and Hugo approached, Eve saw Kenny behind them, on his phone doing God knows what. 


“Morning, Eve!” Elena said, a smile spread across her face and her hand behind her back. Eve eyed her curiously.


“Tell me you got a croissant... please” Eve finally pleaded.


As soon as she finished her sentence, Elena brought her hand from behind her back up to her face, holding a small white paper bag.


“Oh.. you mean this?” Elena smirked.


Eve quickly grabbed the bag out of her hands and turned on her heel, heading for the elevator.


She pressed the elevator button and could hear Elena, Hugo, and Kenny following behind her.


“You’re welcome." Elena muttered as the door swiftly opened, revealing an empty elevator.


“Thank you, now come on, we are all late.” Eve said, holding the door open for the registrars as they entered.


“Aren’t you a sweetheart, doctor.” Hugo said, with his signature grin.


“Surgeon.” Eve said as she bit into the croissant.


Just as the door was closing, a hand from outside held it open, kicking in the elevator’s sensors and the doors started to open again.


Eve couldn’t help but roll her eyes and check her watch, she hated being late.


Especially since she knew Carolyn would give her a hard time about it. 


She expected it to be some intern or even Konstantin -- who was always late but Carolyn never cared. Eve always wondered why she got a hard time when she was late but Konstantin didn’t.


Except, it was neither an intern nor Konstantin. It was a woman. A beautiful woman. 


Someone Eve had never seen before because she definitely would’ve remembered. 


She had hazel eyes -- cat-like but in the most gorgeous way. She had impeccable skin with beautiful long honey-blonde hair. Eve knew it was long despite it being pulled into a low bun. Her face was… for lack of a better word, perfect. 


Eve instantly wondered why she was here -- in a hospital. She must be a model, was she here for plastic surgery perhaps? An idea that she may think will further her career? She couldn’t be, she looked too young and too pretty. If she was here for plastic surgery, she hoped that Jamie (the plastic surgery consultant) would choose not to touch her face and send her away. If he even thought about it doing an operation on her, Eve knew she would tell him off herself, despite not even knowing him that well. 


Amidst her thoughts, it took Eve a moment to register that this woman was coming into the elevator with them and Eve was standing right in the middle of it. It was obviously a delayed reaction but Eve moved to the side eventually to give both of them a socially-acceptable amount of space within the small elevator. 


Still, the woman smirked at Eve as she walked in, looking so confident in an expensive-looking beige trenchcoat -- which Eve couldn’t help but be entranced by. 


It took Eve even longer, about three floors of being in the elevator, that this woman looked briefly at the buttons, seeing the pressed button -- number 8 -- the conference room. But the woman didn’t move. She didn’t press another floor. She was going to the 8th floor too.


She noticed Elena, Hugo, and now Kenny eyeing Eve suspiciously after her delayed reaction and Eve’s not-so-subtle staring at this mystery woman. Luckily, the woman was on her phone, not caring for the other passengers of the elevator. 


Eve looked at Elena, who was looking at her, and Eve very subtly gestured at the woman by nodding in her direction. Elena shrugged, obviously not knowing who she was either. 


When they finally got to the 8th floor, which, to Eve, felt like a much longer ride than the last time she took it, they all got off. Awkwardly, the mystery woman turned left which was the direction to Carolyn’s office and Eve with the registrars turned right, heading for the conference room.


“Do you know who that is?” Eve whispered to Elena and the boys as they walked.


“No idea.” They all whispered in unison.


While walking, Eve turned her head back to perhaps catch another glimpse of the beautiful woman. To her surprise, the woman was also looking back to her, smiling, as she opened the door to Carolyn’s office and walked in.


When Eve and the registrars walked into the conference room, they were greeted by Konstantin, Jess, Jaime, Bill, and Frank. 


Bill is the General surgery consultant. Eve has known him for so many years, as they did their training together. Eve thinks that Bill knows her better than she knows herself, and that was probably true. They hadn’t talked that much recently as he is a new father and has been extraordinarily busy, but they always seem to make time for each other somehow.  He also had a favorite registrar -- Nadia. 


She was about Elena’s age but Nadia didn’t seem to hang out much with the other registrars. Eve didn’t really know much about her. On a night out a few months ago, she asked Bill about her. He just said that she was Russian.


Eve didn’t ask about her after that.  She could see Bill liked her enough and she seemed fine at her work so Eve pretty much forgot about her, especially since she didn’t see much of her in the OR. 


Frank was some sort of administrative worker -- not a surgeon. Eve barely knew what his job was and her, along with the rest of her coworkers, barely paid attention to him. Eve greeted Konstantin, Jamie, and Jess, sitting down across from them, next to Elena.


Eve noticed Carolyn wasn’t here. Carolyn was always on time. But as if some higher force heard her thoughts, the door opened, Carolyn coming into view with someone behind her.


As if she wasn’t already thinking about the beautiful woman from the elevator, she was now looking right at her. Again with the confident smile, looking right at her or through her -- Eve couldn’t tell. 


“Right, morning everyone, let’s get down to business.” Carolyn said, not looking at anyone and taking a seat at the head of the table, the mystery woman following her but sitting to her right.


No one said anything, everyone knew better than to interrupt Carolyn, but it was also 7:30 AM on a Monday, so no one could even if they wanted to. 


“I asked everyone to come today so I could introduce our new registrar, joining us from Broadgreen hospital in Liverpool.” Carolyn started, hands joined in front of her.


Eve gulped, she knew what was coming. And for some reason, she was nervous. A Trauma Surgeon -- a very successful one at that -- was nervous.


“This is Villanelle Astankova.” Carolyn gestured with her right hand at the mystery woman who, even knowing her name now, was still just as mysterious.

“Hi everyone, nice to meet all of you.” Villanelle said in a Russian accent, looking briefly at everyone but her eyes landed and stayed on Eve.