"Hey," said the voice of his wife. It was the first time Sandy had heard her voice in a whole three days. He missed her. That phrase didn't even come close.

"Hi," he said softly. "How're you doing, Kirsten? Everyone treating you okay?"

"Yeah…yeah. Everything's fine. I miss you."

"I miss you, too, baby. It's good to hear your voice."

"I know. I've been wanting to hear yours too." Silence. She thought they'd gotten over their awkward period, or was that just wishful thinking?

"How's everything at home?" Horrible. Ryan's brother's dead, and Marissa was the one who shot him. Sure, they'd gotten her off—a fist fight between brothers, they were going to kill each other, and he tried to rape her, after all—but she'd been sent to rehab, too, only psychological rehab. Clearly, her old therapy hadn't work, and it was time to admit that Marissa Cooper had real scars that had never healed. But Kirsten didn't need to hear that, not right now, when she was dealing with her own problems and there was nothing she could do.

"Okay," said Sandy. "Jimmy and Julie are giving it another shot."

"They never should've broken up," said Kirsten with a wistful smile. "There's a reason they had to fly to the Dominican Republic to get such a quick divorce so she could marry my dad."

"Yeah. It's a good thing. Katelyn's coming home, too. Julie's decided that she doesn't want her far away anymore."

"Well, Marissa's going to college next year. I guess empty nest syndrome will hit Julie hard."

"What about us? Is it going to be hard living without Seth and Ryan next year?"

"We'll manage," she said, and Sandy could tell she was smiling. It was so nice to have her happy again; if only she could be near him…

"How's the clinic?" he asked again. Kirsten paused a moment.

"It's nice," she said. "But it's not home. I definitely won't miss it when I leave."

"How are you doing?"

"I'm…good. It's hard," she admitted. "I never realized how much I drank even when I thought I was sober. I probably should've done this years ago."

"Don't beat yourself up about it," Sandy admonished her. "It's okay. You're getting better. Just let me know when you're coming home, so I can get rid of all the liquor in this house."

"Don't bother, not on my account. I'm a lady of Newport Beach; I'm going to have to get used to people drinking around me."

"Yeah, but I love you more than my beer. And like you said, the boys are going away."

"Well, we don't exactly keep alcohol in the house for the boys."

"Naw, it was mostly for you. It's fine. I don't need any of it." Silence again. Kirsten wished she were with him, standing next to him, putting her arm around him, maybe kissing him, maybe…

"I got you a new wedding ring."


"Yeah, it's nice. Yellow gold, this time, though. It's just looks…warmer…to me. If you'd rather have platinum, I can take it back."

"No, that sounds nice. Thanks, honey."

"We could do a vow renewal when you get back, if you like."

"No…I've kind of gone off big, public parties," admitted Kirsten. "If we can just be together, do things, talk…that's good enough for me."

"Whatever you want, baby. I miss you," Sandy repeated. "I got you a new diamond, too."

"Really? What kind?"

"I'm not going to tell you," he teased. "Give you some more initiative to get better so you can come back home."

"I don't need any more initiative," she told him. "Anyway…I gotta go. I'll call you soon, okay?"

"I love you, baby."

"I love you too."