Cameron Dunn has inherited a good mix of personality traits from his parents. He is hardworking, clever and fundamentally kind, like both of them. He is proud and bit arrogant, isn’t afraid to speak up, and is confident in his abilities, just like his mother. He is also easily hurt, takes things too personally, but is respectful and loving, just like his father.
Many have remarked that he is a mini Bernie at work and a mini Marcus at home. He likes that. He admires his mother greatly, is immensely proud of her achievements and wants to emulate her at work as much as possible.
But he can’t deny that she could have handled her home life better. He’s a little sad and hurt that she thought she couldn’t be honest with him. He understands she felt trapped, that she’s from a different generation, but his parents had always been so into honesty, that he feels a little cheated on too.
He regrets the letter. Charlotte does too. It was juvenile and written in the heat of the moment, and he’s very very sorry. His mother is a good one, in the grand scheme of things. She’s supportive, fiercely protective, wants the best for him. She gives good hugs when he lets her. Calls him often and tries not to nag too much. Always remembers his birthday and always gives poorly wrapped presents.
The love he has for her has evolved from the burning affection he had as a child, when she was the light of his world, a hero, a perfect vision. Now it’s a mix of fondness, embarrassment and fierce love and protectiveness. He wants her to be truly happy, to have someone who will make her laugh that ridiculous honk of hers.
In walks Serena.
Cameron likes her a lot. She’s intelligent, a good mentor, keen to get him to like her but not desperate. She’s pretty, in a mom way, and best of all, seems to have been bewitched by his mother.
She is perfect.
The problem is, his mother is incredibly inept in matters of the heart. She confides in him one night after a dinner of takeaway and wine, that they’ve decided to remain friends, and once Cameron has recovered from being a confidant, he realises his mother has misread the situation completely and is being pretty stupid. He tries to tell her, but she is adamant Serena just wants to be friends, and that’s the end of that.
So he hatches a plan.
Cameron is the sum of his parents but he’s also his own self. He’s cheeky, a little devious, and likes to bend the rules. He enlists the help of Morven, and she is more than happy to lend a hand. Things have been a little tense around the ward lately, with Fletch’s injury and the co-leads’ skittishness around each other.
Stage one is simple: buy a card, a sappy one. Write a saccharine message. Leave it in full view on Serena’s desk. Wait and see.
Monday is Valentine’s Day. Cameron watches as Serena enters the office, takes off her coat, puts down her coffee cup. She spies the card; her eyebrow goes up in surprise. She opens the envelop and her mouth hangs open, much to Cameron’s delight. Serena looks around, her brow furrowed, and Cameron looks down with his nose in a file, tries to look busy.
Stage two. Bernie walks in five minutes later. Cameron, poorly-hidden behind an IV line, sees her take her coat off and point at the card. He smiles when Serena visibly asks if the card is from his mother, but her smiles fades when Bernie shakes her head.
He snickers and goes back to work, happy to let events unfold. Surely his mother will figure it out. She just needs a little kick in the right direction.
Bernie is furious, and what’s worse is, she has no right to be. She’s the one who put a stop to things, however noble she might think it was. And now here she is, her eyes dark and stormy, watching Serena get anonymous Valentine’s Day cards. The one Serena is holding has a teddy bear holding a heart. It’s disgustingly sweet, not something Bernie would be caught dead buying, if she’d remembered the date. Bernie doesn’t do Valentine’s Day, never has. Marcus used to buy her flowers if she wasn’t on tour, and she would accept them gracefully but secretly think it was idiotic.
Now, seeing Serena’s surprised but pleased smile, she curses herself. Of course Serena would enjoy nice cards and flowers and gifts. She deserves them. She’s perfect and naturally has tons of secret admirers begging for her time. And that’s fine by Bernie. It’s got nothing to do with her. They’re just friends. Serena freaked out after their kiss, so she should just be happy for Serena and stop being silly.
Instead, she punches a wall in the locker room.
Serena is a grown woman. She has an important and stressful job, a demanding but lovely nephew, and so she shouldn’t be this pleased at receiving tacky cards. She is though. It’s nice to know someone likes her, even though it’s not Bernie. Bernie who wants to stay friends. She knows she should’ve said something, but Bernie sounded so sure, and she does value their friendship immensely, and Bernie is the most experienced party. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy the thrill of seeing Bernie’s eyes darken when she spots the card.
The thrill dampens when she realises how disappointed she is that it didn’t come from Bernie. For one happy second she’d thought… but no matter, plenty of fish in the sea who seem eager for her company.
She looks at the card again after Bernie leaves without a word, and reads the message once more.
“Dearest Serena, on this the most romantic day of the year, a short missive to laud your beauty and your mind. Meet me tonight on the roof? Your secret admirer.”
Serena smiles and rolls her eyes slightly. What is she, twelve? But it is sweet and flattering. She wonders who it could be. She hasn’t spent much time with anyone recently apart from Bernie, and she’s not interested in anyone either. Maybe she shouldn’t go. It wouldn’t be fair on this person.
“Cameron are you sure about this? Maybe you should just let them figure it out on their own,” Morven says worryingly.
Cameron shakes his head, his eyes following his mother as she talks through the ward, her mouth set in a tight line. She looks pretty pissed.
“I’m telling you, my mother is an idiot. She needs help. It’ll be fine, you’ll see.”
Morven makes an unconvinced sound. They watch as Bernie snaps at an F1, sending the poor bloke scrambling for a missing piece of equipment.
“I hope so, because I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes when they find out what you’ve done,” Morven says darkly.
Bernie huffs and holds her hand out impatiently for the bandages the F1 returns with. Her jaw is tense, and Cameron is reminded of the times he screwed up as a kid. The jaw thing meant trouble. He sighs and crosses his fingers.
What a day. Truly one for the books, way up there with getting blown up, having her affair revealed to the entire hospital and getting divorce papers served at work. Serena’s been smiling like the Cheshire Cat all morning, and every time Bernie sees her she feels her heart squeeze painfully.
She knows she’s reacting irrationally, but just the thought of Serena kissing someone else makes her want to scream. When she reads the message in the card, pretending to read a file in the deserted office, she vows to be right there on the roof after her shift. She isn’t going to to let some creep make a move on Serena.
The happy buzz from the card lasts until her first surgery of the day, an emergency laparotomy with Bernie. Normally they work together perfectly, totally in synch. But today, Bernie snaps at the nurses, curses under her breath when she can’t find a perforation, and scoffs at everything Serena suggests. It’s the longest hour Serena has spent in theatre in a while, and when they clean up in the scrub room, Serena can’t help but ask Bernie what’s wrong.
“Nothing. I’m fine,” Bernie replies tensely.
“I beg to differ. You’ve been acting like a bear with a sore paw all day,” Serena insists.
“I thought you liked bears,” Bernie says, and then she leaves without looking back.
Serena’s mouth opens in surprise. The cheek of that woman! If Bernie wants to be her friend, she’d better start acting like it!
“Infuriating, confusing, contradictory little…I can’t believe the nerve,” Serena mumbles darkly as she walks into the ward.
She is definitely going up on that roof.
By mid-afternoon, Cameron is feeling far less confident. Serena and his mother are very obviously not talking to each other. They had their lunch separately, and now they are on opposite sides of the ward, the air tense and their body language frosty.
“You are in so much trouble,” Morven says at the nurses’ station.
Cameron groans. He can just picture Serena’s face when she finds out about his scheme. And his mother’s face…he shivers. This is bad.
Bernie huffs when Serena picks up the card for what seems like the millionth time. Her mouth is set in a disapproving pout and her hands are clenched in her lap.
“Oh, all right, you think it’s naff, I get it!” Serena says loudly after a loaded second.
Bernie scoffs. She’s practically vibrating with misplaced anger.
“It’s a bear, Serena. With a heart. It’s ridiculous,” she says a little viciously.
She can’t help it, she’s all out of sorts, feels off kilter, and the jealousy is choking her. She sees the hurt in Serena’s eyes, and her stomach churns with guilt.
“Well, I’m sorry my card offends you. Heaven forfend someone finds me attractive!” Serena says with her hands in the air.
Bernie feels the words like a punch to the gut.
“And anyway, what do you care?” Serena adds before Bernie can respond. Her eyes are narrow and flashing and her lips are curled into a snarl.
Bernie tries not to let show how devastatingly sexy she finds the sight of Serena angry.
“Oh, I don’t. I don’t at all,” she says instead.
“Well, fine then!” Serena shouts back, her hands clenched into fists.
“Fine!” Bernie replies, purely to have the last word.
Serena rolls her eyes so far back she can probably see the back of her head, and slams the door on her way out. Bernie closes her eyes and groans, swivels in her chair and puts her head in her hands.
“You stupid, stupid idiot,” she mutters.
Serena grabs a random file and does rounds, her mouth forming the words she would love to say to Berenice bloody Wolfe. Words along the lines of “How dare you?” and “Some friend you are!” and most of all “You have no right to be jealous.” Because Serena isn’t stupid. The look in Bernie’s eyes is the same she must have every time Bernie spends time with someone else.
Well, tough luck, she thinks as she washes her hands. Tough bloody luck.
So, Morven might have a point, Cameron thinks a little hysterically when he sees Serena storming out of the office. Maybe there’s still time to join Doctors without Borders. He hears Somalia is lovely this time of year.
He sees his mother’s face buried in her hands and wants to scream in frustration. What is it with her and feelings? Why can’t she just be honest with herself?
Morven looks at him from across the ward and swipes her index finger along her throat.
It’s the end of her shift. She hasn’t seen Serena in hours. Raf tells her she went up to Keller for a consultation, but Bernie thinks she’s probably hiding. Bernie doesn’t hold it against her, she would too, in Serena’s shoes.
She sighs, tries to tidy her desk, gives up after spotting an old banana. The ward is transitioning into the night shift and she doesn’t want to get in the way of her relief. As she grabs her coat, she notices Serena’s is gone. With a jolt, she understands that Serena must be on the roof meeting her secret admirer. Her blood boils. She isn’t going to let Serena meet up with a complete stranger in the dark.
She puts on her coat and all but runs out of the office. She dimly hears Cameron whoop, wants to stop to tell him to behave more appropriately, but time is running out.
It’s bloody cold on the roof. Serena rubs her hands together. Holby almost looks pretty from up high. She can see the lights of her local church and tries to figure out where her house is, but a pigeon interrupts her careful counting of roofs.
She feels a bit ridiculous now. If Bernie could see her, she would probably have a right laugh. The whole thing was probably a joke anyway. Some F1 who thought it would be hilarious to prank the old, tyrannical consultant. She feels tears prickling her eyes. The past weeks are catching up with her, all the emotions coming to bubble up at the surface. The pigeon coos softly.
“Are you my secret admirer, then?” She says quietly.
The pigeon tilts its head and struts along the banister.
“Never mind me, I’m just an old fool,” she continues with her head down.
“No, you’re not.”
Serena’s head whips around and there is Bernie, cheeks flushed and panting. She must have run up the stairs.
“Come to gloat, have you?” Serena asks, hurt and angry.
Bernie’s eyes widen. She shakes her head, but Serena is too upset to care.
“So why are you here, Bernie?” She asks, her voice loud enough to startle the pigeon.
Bernie walks towards her slowly, her coat billowing in the wind, her hair a golden halo in the light streaming in from the open door. She’s so beautiful Serena forgets to breathe for a second.
“You obviously don’t care, so leave me alone,” Serena says, her voice shaky now.
She feels humiliated and wants to hide away.
“Of course I care,” Bernie replies softly as she steps in front of Serena.
“But, you said…”
“I lied. To save my blushes,” Bernie says with a little smile, her eyes shy.
Serena breathes out, a cloud floating in front of her, her cheeks reddening at the familiar words.
“Why? Why did you lie?”
Bernie looks down and shuffles her feet, looks to Serena’s left and blinks a lot.
“Why Bernie?” Serena asks again, her voice louder.
“Because I love you,” Bernie replies, her voice strangled but sure.
Serena’s heart stops. Her mouth hangs open in a perfect O.
“I’m in love with you,” Bernie repeats more forcefully, awfully close to Serena now.
Serena starts shaking and the tears that had been pooling in her eyes now fall freely. She feels Bernie’s hands on her face, her thumbs catching the tears as they roll down her cheeks.
“So very much in love,” Bernie whispers.
She leans and they’re kissing, first just a mere brushing of lips. Serena’s mind is all muddled, but then her brain catches up and she launches herself into Bernie, their mouths crashing together.
She hears a moan, doesn’t know who made it, but she doesn’t care because Bernie’s tongue is in her mouth and Serena gasps at the sensation. Bernie’s hands are suddenly everywhere, under her coat, kneading her sides, under her top, pressing Serena against her. She slides her hands into Bernie’s hair and answers a long held question, it is as soft as it looks. It slips through Serena’s fingers like silk.
They are standing there, all but devouring each other, so close one wouldn’t know where the other starts, when they get interrupted by the pigeon. It flies in near their heads and they separate, startled, breathless and giddy. The pigeon wisely keeps its distance. Bernie’s eyes are wide and dark.
“Where did you learn to kiss like that?” Serena asks, panting, her hands clutching Bernie’s shoulders.
“Uh, just now, I think,” Bernie replies, obviously dazed.
Serena laughs, head thrown back, and Bernie presses kisses on her neck. The laugh turns into a breathless moan, Bernie’s kisses like fire on her sensitive skin. She feels teeth grazing her pulse point and she cries out.
“Jesus, Bernie, what took you so long?”
“I was an idiot,” Serene hears against her skin.
She laughs again, thinks her heart has never felt this full, as if it wants to fly away. She pushes lightly and there is Bernie, lips swollen and hair all over the place, looking like her dreams come true.
“I love you too,” she says seriously.
Bernie smiles. It lights up her entire face. They grin at each other like the fools they’ve both been.
“Let’s get out of here, I’m about to lose my fingers to frostbite,” Serena says.
Bernie takes both her hands in hers to warm them up.
“What about your secret admirer?” Bernie asks a little shyly, her eyes hidden by her fringe.
Serena smiles, lifts the golden strands of hair and caresses Bernie’s cheek.
“I have but one admirer, and they are not so secret,” she says with a smile.
Cameron is ready to stab himself with a scalpel to end his misery. His mother disappeared 30 minutes ago. He thinks of all the terrible things that could have happened, and he’s about to hyperventilate right there in the car park, wanting to leave but unable to, because he might have ruined his mother’s life.
He’s pacing by the hospital entrance, his teeth worrying the skin of his thumb, when he hears a familiar laugh. He ducks behind a column and almost cries in relief when he sees his mother and Serena step out into the night.
To his delight, they look very chummy. They are pressed against each other and Cameron squirms when he sees the look in his mother’s eyes. No child should be a witness to that, but he does a fist pump and watches as they get into his mother’s car.
Mission accomplished. Morven owes him about a thousand drinks.
Serena opens her front door with trembling hands, having dropped her keys once and cursed her shaky fingers. Bernie is not helping by nuzzling into her neck, her body pressed hotly against her back.
She thanks the gods above that Jason is at a Valentine’s Day mixer with Alan and won’t be back until the morning.
As soon as the door closes, Bernie pushes her against her against the wall in the hall, dips her head, puts her hands on either side of Serena’s face, and kisses her. Serena feels the kiss all the way to her toes. She takes Bernie’s coat off and her hands slide under Bernie’s shirt at her waist, and Bernie is so soft there. She gasps when Bernie mewls into her mouth, the sound awakening something wild deep in her belly. She hasn’t felt this kind of hunger in so long, if ever. She wants Bernie to come undone, wants to make her scream, to give her such pleasure she’ll forget her own name.
“Come upstairs with me,” she whispers against Bernie’s lips.
Bernie looks at her like she’s the second coming of Christ and nods. Serena takes her hand, smiles at her, leads her up the stairs, making sure her hips sway. She smirks when Bernie makes a strangled sound in her throat and she finds herself spun around and kissed hungrily on the dark landing. She moans at the feel of Bernie’s tongue, still so startlingly new, pushes the door open and suddenly they are on her bed, Bernie on top of her.
The weight feels familiar, yet it’s so different. Bernie is soft and has curves in places that are new. Serena puts her hands on Bernie’s hips, gasping when she feels a strong thigh between her legs.
“Is this okay?” Bernie asks.
“Oh, yes. I want this, you, very much,” Serena replies truthfully.
“Me too. You are so beautiful, Serena,” Bernie says with something like reverence in her voice.
She sounds so happy and stunned to be in Serena’s bed, that Serena has to smile. She feels the same.
She reaches up for a kiss and gets lost in Bernie’s mouth for a while, eager to elicit more sounds from her usually reserved Major. Her hands fumble at the buttons of Bernie’s shirt, a little frantic now.
Bernie smiles and sits up, slowly undresses herself and Serena feels herself flush. She understands now why lovers have enjoyed this in the past. The action is so erotic. Her eyes take in every inch of newly revealed skin as the shirt disappears, from Bernie’s shoulders to her belly. She leans forward to press her mouth against Bernie’s scar, smiles when Bernie gasps and holds her head against her chest. The scar is a terrifying reminder that they could have never met, and it still feels fresh, but Serena is soon distracted by Bernie’s breasts. They are warm and soft and when Serena takes a nipple in her mouth, Bernie falls forward against her, a cry escaping her lips.
Serena experiments with licks and bites and soon Bernie is writhing on top of her, her arms cradling Serena’s head on the pillow. Serena revels in every sound Bernie makes, every moan, every whimper, every sigh going straight between her legs.
They manage to undress each other in record time, Bernie’s jeans ending up somewhere that causes a crash. Serena almost loses it the first time they slide against each other naked. She can feel how wet Bernie is on her thigh, and the thought makes her heart skip. Instinctively she slips a hand between their bodies, draws her thigh up and moans loudly at the silky heat she finds.
“Oh, god, Serena, yes,” Bernie gasps, her back arching like a bow.
Serena watches carefully as she slips in a finger, then another, and finds a rhythm that has Bernie mewling again. It’s the most amazing sight, Bernie with her head thrown back, showing off miles and miles of glorious skin, completely open and trusting, her hands clutching the sheets. She feels like she’s been given a rare and precious gift, one that Bernie rarely gives.
She learns to curl her fingers just so, watches as Bernie grinds down, her face distorted with pleasure and joyful surprise. Bernie cries out and Serena can feel her fluttering against her fingers, and forget tricky surgery, this is the mother of all rushes, being the cause of this woman’s pleasure. She catches Bernie as she slumps on her and they end up in a messy, sweaty tangle of limbs.
“Jesus Christ, Serena. How…what…” Bernie manages to say after a while.
Serena preens, feeling pretty smug that she’s made Bernie forget words, and she is so full of love that her chest aches. Bernie looks at her, her eyes amazed and dark. Serena gulps.
“You are full of surprises, Ms Campbell,” Bernie says, her voice low, as she slides back on top.
“Got to keep you on your toes, Major,” Serena replies a little breathlessly, because Bernie is caressing her breasts with a hungry look in her eyes.
She watches as Bernie takes a nipple between her teeth and she hisses, wonders how Bernie could possibly know she likes it a little rough. But Bernie seems to be able to read her like a book, so she can only hang on and offer herself up, her moans enough to tell Bernie when to speed up or slow down. Bernie makes sure every inch of her body is attended to, her breasts, her sides, her belly, and when she slides down to settle between Serena’s legs, Serena whines and bucks, desperate now and shaking with need. All she can do is slip her hands in Bernie’s hair and try not to choke on her own breath. In one smooth move, Bernie puts one of her thighs over her shoulder, bites the inside of the other, and looks up with a smouldering smirk.
At the feel of Bernie’s tongue, Serena wails, her heart thundering in her chest, her hands tightening on Bernie’s head.
She looks down after what seems like hours, sees Bernie looking right back and it’s the sight of Bernie’s dark eyes that sends her hurtling over the edge, her hips flying off the bed. She feels pleasure bursting from the bottom of her spine to envelop her entire body, and her vision blurs for a second, her mouth open in a soundless scream.
When she comes to, she is in the safe cocoon of Bernie’s arms. Bernie is whispering sweet nothings in her ear and as she turns towards her, she catches words that make her laugh joyously.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Fraulein,” Bernie says with a cheeky smile.
“Next year you better have flowers. And a card. And a bear,” Serena smiles after a lazy kiss.
Bernie laughs, her eyes sparkling.
“You will have it all.”