Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Due to a death in Hope's family, she will not post Wishing on Stars this week. Posts will resume next week when she returns from the funeral. Please keep Hope and her family in your prayers.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Delayed post

Hey Guys - I know you have been looking for the new post. Hope has had a family emergency and is unable to post at this time. Our plan is to post this Friday but circumstances will dictate if that happens or not. I will let you guys know when I hear something. For now, keep Hope and her family in your prayers.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Chapter Nineteen

Due to the holiday next week there will be no chapter of Wishing on Stars on Friday, November 26.  I will post as usual on December 3.  Thanks so much for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Chapter Nineteen

Give a little bit

The next couple of days flew past, which helped to keep Cassie’s mind off of the situation with Georgio. The lived in the suite like two people who were scared to come to close to one another, which they were.

Sarah’s parents and Lissa had come to Italy and Sarah had gotten them rooms in the hotel, along with everyone else. Since she was out of the hospital she and Cassie had been busy making arrangements for everyone, including decorations of the hotel suite for Christmas. Adam was being released today and Cassie and Georgio were taking Sarah to the hospital to pick him up.

Georgio knocked on the door to Sarah and Adam’s suite and he smiled as she opened the door. “Are you ready Sarah?” he asked.

She nodded and the three of them made their way to the hospital. It was a delightful and scenic trip and Cassie had come to enjoy all the bustle of the Italian streets. There were people walking everywhere and busses zooming by as well. Vicenza, the city they were in was a beautiful and ancient city; Cassie understood why Sarah loved it here so much.

Georgio handled the car well as they traveled to the hospital; he had told her it was much the same as driving in Greece, crowded streets that twisted and turned constantly. They passed through the ancient walls of the old city of Vicenza and Cassie acknowledged the history of it all. She and Georgio had done a bit of sightseeing while they had been here, one spot in particular she had always wanted to go to was the Teatro Olympico, a theater in the downtown area. It was very unusual; it was filled with statues everywhere. They were made of papier mache, which you would never guess when you looked at them. In the early 1800’s Napoleon and Josephine had used the theater as their palace. When told that the statues were not marble, he ran his sword through the knee of one just to see for himself. Cassie would have liked to see he reaction when he found out that they really weren’t marble. The stage was the most fascinating thing about the theater to Cassie though; it was set up like a city street, with small lanes going back stage and little ‘shops’ along the way which were actually dressing rooms. The ceiling over head was painted sky blue with white billowy cloud to complete the effect of a small town. She had never seen anything quite like it.

Sarah was quiet on the way to the hospital; Cassie knew that she was anxious to have Adam home with her. Krista would have to stay in the hospital a while longer so she and Adam would be staying until Krista could travel. Cassie and Georgio were leaving two days after Christmas, heading to Greece. While Cassie was enjoying the time with Sarah, she couldn’t wait to get to the Greek island which was their next destination.

In the parking lot the left the car and made their way to the hospital entrance. Georgio watched Cassie as she walked along and realized that she was no longer walking delicately; she was moving pain free and that was exactly what he had been waiting to see. He knew that in the next day or so they would have their chance and he couldn’t wait. He hadn’t mentioned it to Cassie yet because she had been so busy helping Sarah but he was pretty sure she would be okay with it. That’s the understatement of the year!

Cassie and Georgio waited outside the room as Sarah went in although they didn’t have long to wait. Adam was as anxious to get out of the hospital as Sarah was to get him out of there.

They stopped briefly to see Krista in her room. Adam felt almost guilty, leaving her here and made promises to see her soon. She was doing much better but was still in a great deal of pain and couldn’t move around much.

When Adam mentioned to Krista that he hated to leave her here she laughed and reminded him that Ryan would be back that evening and she was hardly alone. That remark was punctuated by a nurse’s aide entering the room to check on her. Krista was picking up a lot of Italian from the staff here and she was teaching many of them English. It provided her a great deal of entertainment. The phrase of ‘What do you call that?’ was spoken often.

As Cassie looked from Adam to Krista she thought they were all blind when they first met her at Thanksgiving; she and Adam looked so much alike it was astounding. Same eyes, same generous mouth and dark hair Krista was a true beauty.

As they walked out of the hospital Georgio noticed that Adam leaned heavily on the cane and offered to go and bring the car up so he wouldn’t have as far to walk.

“Yes Adam, I think that’s a good idea,” Sarah said.

“Nonsense. I can walk there just fine. It will be good for me,” Adam said, but Cassie noticed how pale he was just after the short walk through the halls.

“Hey Georgio, Adam may not need the car but I do. Honey, my back is bothering me a bit so why don’t you go ahead and get it please? For me?” she said and she didn’t miss the grateful look that Sarah threw her.

“Certainly. I’ll be right back.”

As they waited Cassie had to keep her head down, afraid that Adam might catch the smirk on her face. There was more than one way to handle a man she thought with a laugh!

She really would have laughed if she knew that Sarah was thinking the very same thing; but it wouldn’t have surprised her a bit.


When they got back to the hotel the paparazzi were waiting, camera’s ready. Cassie grimaced as flash after flash hit her eyes; temporarily blinding her. She supposed she would see herself on some magazine cover, in the background of course and it made her giggle. Georgio looked at her questioningly and she only shrugged and grinned a bit more.

At the hotel everyone had gathered to welcome Adam home, or to the hotel at least. Sarah had booked the banquet room for them all and there were many people to be sure.

Cassie chatted with all the family easily and she was enchanted with Adam’s sons; they were very well behaved, even in this situation. She had thought so at Thanksgiving but here it was a different situation entirely. They were totally out of their element, but you would never know it.

After a couple of hours Cassie decided she had had enough and told Georgio, “Let’s get out of here and leave the families be. How about taking a drive?”

“Sure. You have a destination?” It was early afternoon and it was a beautiful day with warm temperatures and a clear cerulean blue sky.

“Yes, I want to go and find Monte Berico! I’ve been hearing about it for over twenty years and it’s my turn to stand there now! C’mon, let’s go!”

They stopped by their suite and grabbed jackets and the camera before heading out. In the car Georgio programmed their destination into the GPS and they were off, driving along the Italian streets again. When they got to the turn off to Monte Berico, Cassie grabbed the camera and started taking pictures of the arches that lined the walk way up the lane. It was stunning.

At the top they parked the car and got and looked around. Across the street was the convent and Cassie could see the nuns walking from building to building in their smart brown habits. These habits had short skirts and were close fitting even; nothing sexy about them, just not the billowy black habits that you often saw on nuns. They made the short walk across the road and were on the lookout point of Monte Berico.

Cassie caught her breath as she looked around. The view was magnificent and she took it all in; the city below and the mountains in the distance. Even for a December day it was quite warm, with little wind and she raised her face to the sun, blinking in the brightness of it. The loveliness of it all brought tears to her eyes.

She heard a ‘click’ and realized Georgio had snapped a picture of her. “Hey, not me, the scenery!” she laughed.

“You are far more beautiful than the scenery,” he told her and Cassie could tell that he believed those words. She suddenly felt lighter and yes, beautiful and her face lit up with a wide smile that was only for him.

They walked hand-in-hand to the north balustrade and stood admiring the Dolomite mountains in the distance. “This is where Sarah met Adam, in September; did I tell you that?”

“No, you didn’t. This view certainly inspires romance, don’t you think?” he asked her, wrapping his arms around her and leaning his head next to hers. He could smell the fragrance she was wearing, something light with a floral hint to it and it stirred his senses. He inhaled deeply and felt himself start to become aroused.

Cassie felt him pressed against her and realized what was happening; it brought an immediate echo response in her. She turned in his arms and said, “Hurry and snap some pictures so we can get out of here Georgio.”

He didn’t waste any time and captured views from the different angles. He knew he was hurrying, but he also knew he didn’t care. He only had one thing on his mind and that wasn’t going to happen here.

“I guess we can always come back here if we miss anything, huh?” she asked as she waited for him. This was certainly not how she pictured this, her first visit to this magical place. She had seen so many pictures of Sarah’s over the years and had hoped that some day she would get to see it and here she was, at Monte Berico and all she wanted was to leave.

“Whatever you would like love. I’ll bring you back every day if you like.” He told her as he snapped one final picture; Cassie, looking at him with love and passion in her eyes. To him that photo would be a masterpiece.

He took her hand and they all but ran across the road to the car. As he tucked her in and slid in behind the steering wheel and felt like a teenager; his heart was racing and he could hardly sit still because of the tightness in his slacks. It had been a long time for him; what if he screwed it all up? What he didn’t know was that Cassie was experiencing similar emotions.

She swallowed hard and then let out a long, slow breath in an effort to calm down a bit. She knew what was ahead and she couldn’t wait, but on the other hand, she was going to finally be with the man she loved with all her heart and she was scared silly.

What if she wasn’t any good at it? It had been a long time since she had been with someone and well, maybe she was a bit rusty at it. What if he was right and she wasn’t physically ready? Would he be doing this if he wasn’t sure? She was sure he wouldn’t, but then she had been pushing him a lot and maybe he just wanted to get it over with so she would leave him alone about it.

She stared out the window of the car and tried to enjoy the drive in order to get her mind off of what comes next.

Georgio watched her with some concern. Something was wrong, but he didn’t know what. Maybe her back was still hurting and she didn’t want him to know. That was a big possibility and he was going to have to make sure before they went any further. As soon as they were in the hotel room it was time to ask some very real questions. In the meantime her reached over and took her hand in his; it felt chilled and he gently squeezed it, running his thumb lightly over her fingers.

She smiled and seemed to relax a bit and eventually smiled at him. Before they knew it they were at the hotel. Georgio parked the car and leaned over to her and raised her head up a bit and softly kissed her. “I love you Cassie,” he told her.

His words elicited a smile from her and she sighed and said, “I love you too Georgio.”

He got out of the car and then opened her door, helping her step out. As they walked to the hotel he lagged behind her a step or two to see how she was walking, but she seemed at ease and relaxed. If the problem wasn’t physical, then what was it?

In the elevator Cassie was almost breathless, with fear that was. She was going to screw this up, she just knew it. She was good at that, messing things up. A tear threatened to make its way down her cheek and she blinked rapidly in hopes that it would go away. Instead, it rolled down her cheek and she swiped it away quickly, hoping that he hadn’t noticed.

Why is she crying he wondered? Oh God, what is wrong? Have I done something? Questions ricocheted around his mind like a ping pong ball gone wild. When the elevator dinged at their floor they both jumped.

“Um, we’re here love,” he said, stepping out of the elevator and waiting while she did the same. She looked up at him and nodded before walking with him down the hall to their suite.

Inside they took off their jackets and stood looking at one another, wordless. This wasn’t at all as either one of them pictured. It was supposed to be natural, spontaneous and instead it was awkward as hell.

Georgio moved to the couch and said “Cassie, sit down please.”

She sat beside him, waiting for the axe to fall. She had done something wrong, but she didn’t know what. Or he just doesn’t want me any longer. She sighed and said, “I guess we need to talk, huh?”

“Yes, we do. Are you hurting love? Is your back bothering you?” There, he had asked the question and he waited with a heavy heart for her response.

“Wh-what? My back? No, it’s fine Georgio. Why?”

“Really? Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m positive. I don’t think it’s ever felt better actually. Georgio, what have I done?”

He looked at her, perplexed when he heard her words. “You haven’t done anything love. I’m just concerned because you became so quiet in the car. What’s wrong Cassie?”

It all started to click into place for her; he had misinterpreted her thoughts in the car to be something different than they actually were. She smiled at him then and laughed a bit. He watched her, clearly puzzled.

“Georgio, I’m just nervous. I haven’t done this in a really long time and I can’t help but wonder it I’ll be any good at it!” She started giggling as soon as she said the words and realized she felt much better.

He laughed then too and shook his head. “God Cassie, I keep wondering the same thing. I kept thinking, what if I screw it all up?” He leaned over and pulled her into his arms and held her close before kissing her, his lips moving slowly against hers in a sensual dance.

When she was breathless she pulled away and laid her head against his shoulder. Both of them took a much needed breath and enjoyed the feeling of holding the other. A few more kisses and Georgio stood up with her in his arms and strode to the bedroom doors.

“Which room love?” he asked, waiting for her to choose.

She giggled and said, “which ever one is closest Georgio.” She nodded to the closest doorway and he walked though it, kicking the door closed behind him.

Neither one noticed the firm click as the door closed behind them.

Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge

All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without the authors permission.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chapter Eighteen

Patience is a Virtue

Cassie had said goodbye to Sarah a week ago as she and Adam had left to head back to Italy to reshoot some of the scenes from his movie. The scenes had to be done over since Rachel, one of the stars of the movie had been murdered in Texas. They hadn’t found the killer yet and frankly, Cassie had worried about it all. She had heard the whole story from Sarah over Thanksgiving and it was downright scary.

Now, it was past the point of being scary – it had affected Sarah and Adam and now she and Georgio were on their way to Italy to help Sarah through it all. Her mom and dad didn’t have passports, even though the State Department was trying to push them through. Derek was already on his way there, courtesy of the US Army and Cassie was thankful for that.

She shifted in her seat; thank goodness they were in first class and she had some room to move around a bit. Georgio was right about one thing, her back wasn’t quite ready for this journey, but it was too bad, it was going to have to be ok.

Cassie looked down over the night sky and saw yellow-gold lights far down below. There were clusters of them and then a sort of connect-the-dots outline. It was all quite beautiful she thought. She looked at Georgio next to her, seat reclined and sleeping peacefully; she wished she could do that. She never slept on flights and she supposed that the worry over Sarah didn’t help either.

A flight attendant walked by just then and Cassie said, “Excuse me!”

They flight attendant said, “Yes? Can I get you something?”

“I was wondering what I’m looking at, um, down there,” Cassie said, pointing out the window.

“Hm, that must be Ireland actually. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she asked gazing out the window. “Can I get you anything, since you aren’t sleeping?”

“No. I’m just not a very good flyer; I can never relax.” Cassie stared again at the lights far below and added, “It really is beautiful. Thanks.”

The flight attendant moved on and Cassie laid her head back against the head rest and closed her eyes. The past 24 hours had been terrible; first the call from Derek and then Lissa, both panicked about their mom. Cassie and Georgio made some hasty decisions about the trip and Cassie let the kids both know what they were going to do.

Cassie and Georgio had been planning to head to Greece right after Christmas; that plan was now changed. They would fly to Italy, stay there as long as necessary and then go on to Greece, which was fine with Cassie. For years she had listened to Sarah talk about Italy and she would finally have the chance to see it, or at least some of herself. Georgio was going along with it all but he had concerns about Cassie’s ability to physically handle it all; he kept those doubts to himself; mostly because he knew that no matter what he said Cassie was going, so therefore, so was he.

Cassie was a wreck though; she even admitted it as they traveled. It had been a very trying day, with more still to come. 4 more hours to Venice, then pick up the rental car and make the 40 mile trip to Vicenza. Cassie admitted to herself that she was already worn out and she wasn’t quite sure how she was going to make it the rest of the way.

She managed to cat nap a bit and eventually they made it to Venice and got the car to get on the road to Vicenza. It was auto strada (Interstate) all the way and it went amazingly quick. It was 5:00 am local time when they got checked into the hotel. Cassie sank down on the bed with a sigh as Georgio brought her luggage in. He headed back out and she heard him moving around in the other room and so she finally got up to see what was going on. That’s when she saw him moving his bags into another bedroom.

A suite? He had booked a suite? She was dumbstruck. How far would he go to avoid her, or rather making love with her? She stood there, pain showing clearly on her face and watched him, too stunned to even speak. She went back into her room and closed the door; she had nothing to say, nothing at all.

Georgio watched her retreat into her room and close the door. He knew she was hurt and he also acknowledged that he should have talked to her about what he did, but it was so hard. He wanted her so badly, but he had seen how difficult this journey was for her; it showed in the way she walked and stood that she was just wiped out. Cassie needed to rest and he knew that if he shared that bed with her she wouldn’t. He had to give her a couple of days to bounce back a bit, but that was all. This trip would begin a new part of their relationship and he couldn’t wait!


Cassie slept for eight hours straight and when she got up she found Georgio on the phone with Derek, getting an update on Sarah and Adam. From the frown on Georgio’s face Cassie anticipated the worst; thoughts of a conversation with Georgio about all this went right out of her head.

“What’s going on?” she asked, sitting on the sofa with Georgio. She waited while he finished his conversation with Derek, telling him they would be at the hospital soon and then he leaned over and kissed Cassie.

“Hi love, did you rest well?”

“Yes, now what is going on with Sarah? Please Georgio, I have to know!”

“She is still unconscious but she will be fine. Nothing is broken, but she is bruised badly and has several deep cuts that required stitches. Adam is much worse off; he was shot twice. One bullet damaged his liver and the other his leg. He has had surgery and he is awake and calling for Sarah.” Georgio picked up Cassie’s hand and kissed it before adding, “Now, why don’t you grab a quick shower and we’ll head to the hospital? It’s about 10 minutes away.”

Cass nodded and leaned in for another kiss. She looked Georgio in the eyes and then rubbed her nose lightly against his. He kissed her again and said, “I love you Cassie.”

“Yeah, I love you too. Give me 20 minutes and I’ll be ready!”

She made it in 15.


Cassie was sitting in a chair next to Sarah’s bed when she opened her eyes to sunlight that was streaming in through open blinds. Georgio and Derek were there in the room as well and Sarah’s eyes welled up as she looked around the room.

Cassie stood up and walked slowly over to the bed to sit on the side of it. “Well, Sleeping Beauty, we weren’t sure you were ever going to wake up. I gotta tell you, every time you get yourself thrown into a hospital you use it as an excuse to sleep around the clock. Lazy, you were always a lazy girl!” and then she leaned down and kissed Sarah’s forehead and touched her cheek with her warm fingers. “Welcome back Sarah!”

Cassie watched as Sarah tried moving her body and everything seemed to be functioning, although it was pretty stiff. She grimaced as she flexed her legs, feeling stitches pulling at the tender flesh of her leg.

Georgio stepped up to the bed and asked, “Is everything moving properly?” and then he smiled at Sarah. He had a dazzling smile and she suddenly understood Cassie’s interest in him. What a bedside manner!

“Yeah, but it all hurts!”

“Well, that’s what happens when you fall 22’ off of a castle wall you know. If you think you are hurting you should see the bush that broke your fall. Gone, completely destroyed!” Cassie laughed.

Sarah couldn’t laugh; the memory was still too painful. Derek was sitting on the other side of her bed and he looked so tired. Sarah wondered how long he had been here and how he had gotten here so quickly.

“Uh, how long have I been in here?” Sarah asked.

“Not quite two days Mom. Really, you are going to be fine. Nothing is broken, but you have several really nasty gashes along your legs from the bush and lots of stitches; but it was good you landed on it, it really broke your fall.”

“When did you all get here?” she asked.

“I got here 9 hours after it happened Mom. Ryan called us all immediately and since I’m the only one of the family that has a passport, I’m the one that got to come. The Red Cross got me transport on a military flight direct to Aviano and then I caught the bus down here. I’m staying at the casern, so it’s all okay. Yesterday when you woke up I had only been here a couple of hours.”

“And Georgio and I got here very early this morning. He’s been driving the Italian doctors crazy asking for updates and he has been over here constantly looking at all these machine readings. It’s one of his more endearing qualities,” she said and her face showed so much love and pride that Sarah immediately felt happy for her.

“Can we sit this bed up a bit do you think Georgio, or should I call you Dr. Gorman here?”

“No, Georgio will do fine; I have no privileges here at this hospital. I do think it will be okay to raise the bed, but if it starts to hurt, you will have to stop it, okay?” Sarah loved Georgio’s voice, it was soft and soothing, and the timbre was calming to your senses; it just inspired confidence.

Sarah nodded and pushed the button and the head of the bed started to rise slowly. She laid back and let it go until she was nearly fully upright and then stopped it, not because anything hurt, it was just enough. “Seems to feel fine. And I’m thirsty too. I’m in an Italian hospital, think they’ll let me have some wine?” she tried to joke.

And then serious thought took over and she asked about Adam and Krista again, waiting breathlessly to hear how they were. That they were both still alive.

Georgio stood with his hands resting on Cassie’s shoulders and when neither Derek nor Cassie started to speak, he took that as his cue. “Adam is doing better Sarah. He was shot twice by Sunni, once in the liver and once in the leg. The bullet to his leg passed through with no problems, but the one that hit his liver has been a major concern. They had to do surgery to remove that bullet and they also had to remove part of his liver.” At Sarah’s gasp of in-drawn breath he held up his hand and then continued. “People can very easily live like that. In fact the liver is one of the organs that can sometimes regenerate to a certain degree in a healthy body and Adam is very healthy. Right now his major problem is an infection and they have him on intravenous antibiotics to make him better. He is still unconscious a lot of the time though. And he is extremely worried about you when he is awake so as soon as you are able we are getting you up there to see him! That will be the very best medicine for him I think.”

Sarah let out a long breath out and smiled. Cassie saw a tear trickle down her cheek and she hastily wiped it away. She was ready to go now and told them so.

“Not so fast Sarah. They have to remove your catheter and get you walking a bit, okay? Now Krista is a little bit different. The bullet entered her neck, very close to the jugular vein, but it did miss it. A fraction of an inch closer and she would have bled out almost immediately. The fall did the most damage really. It shattered several ribs, which in turn punctured her left lung and seriously bruised her heart. Her pelvis is also shattered, into 7 pieces in fact. She will have to wear a cast for a long time. They did surgery on her pelvis and reinforced it with, uh basically a plastic appliance, very similar to a joint replacement. She will never be able to have children naturally; it will only be by c-section. That replacement will not give as bone would. And it has to remain very still to heal properly, hence the cast in order for it to set into place correctly. They also had to do surgery on her broken ribs. The damage to her lung was repaired and the damage to her heart will likely heal itself in time. She is also fighting infection around her heart but that is to be expected. She is very lucky, Sarah.”

There was a light knock on the door and Tamara and Mark walked in. As soon as they saw that Sarah was sitting up they both broke into smiles and tears started to seep from Tamara’s eyes. Derek got up so that Tamara could sit down next to her.

“Sarah, how do you feel?” she asked, digging through her purse for a Kleenex. Mark reached out and lightly touched Sarah’s arm as if afraid he might hurt her.

“I’m feeling remarkably well, really. Are the boys here?”

“No, they are staying with Aidan and Sylvia while we are here. But they send you their love and can’t wait to talk to you on the phone!”

“When did you get here?”

“Very late last night. We’re checked into the hotel where you and Adam are staying.”

Sarah nodded, thinking about that. “Have you seen him?”

“Yes, we have. He is going to be okay; he certainly looks a little ragged but not too much worse for the wear, I must admit. Definitely not the glamorous movie star right now though. He calls for you a lot, about as much as you have been calling for him I hear.”

“You heard about Krista?” Sarah asked wondering how they would feel about it. The boys had a big sister now, besides Lissa and Pam.

“Yes, we have. We are very happy about it and so are the boys. They can’t wait to meet her. And by the way, Vivian, Gerald and Angelica will be here in two days. They are all anxious not only to see Adam but to meet Krista as well. One of the very nicest things about the Richland family is that they are so supportive and caring Sarah. Oh, the Red Cross is trying to get a special visa clearance, uh, emergency status for your parents and Lissa to come over here. The American consul is working on it too.”

A man who turned out to be Sarah’s doctor came in and tsk – tsk’d over so many people in my room and shooed them all out so he could examine her. She asked that Georgio be allowed to stay and the doctor agreed. He spoke a little English thankfully and Georgio turned out to speak Italian fluently.

Cassie and Tamara came back into the room a few minutes later, after the doctor was done with his examination. Sarah was excited because she was going to get to go see Adam soon.

“Don’t let anyone tell him I’m coming, okay? Please?” she asked. Tamara nodded and went out to speak to the men.

“Cass, I can’t believe you and Georgio came over here. Are you doing alright? It hasn’t been too much for you has it?”

“Naw. I mean, I get tired but Georgio is the cutest watchdog I’ve ever had. It’s not exactly the way I pictured seeing Italy, but at least I’m here. I finally will get to see some of these places you have always talked about, do you realize that?” Sarah saw her eyes sparkle brightly at that prospect and couldn’t wait to hear what she thought about it all.

“Yeah. Oh Cass, I can’t wait for you to see it all. And, it’s pretty good for boosting romance a bit too!” she teased.

Cassie blushed brightly and commented under her breath, “We uh, haven’t done that yet Sarah. He seems to think we need to wait, until, I’m uh, better. But geez, I don’t know how much longer I can hold out Sarah, it’s like I have a perpetual fever around him, you know?”

“I do indeed Cassie!” and just then a nurse came in pulling a cart with her. “Yeah!” Sarah exclaimed; they were going to remove the catheter.

“Do you want me to leave Sarah?” Cass asked.

“Hell no, stay and help me celebrate! Okay,” she told the nurse as then lay back on the bed, “Pull it out!”

“Si signora. Now take a deep breath for me and then blow it out hard when I tell you.”

And just like that it was done and it felt so good to have it gone! The nurse helped her clean up and bit and put a clean gown and robe on and then she was ready to go see Adam.


Sarah had a crowd waiting out in the hallway as she came out of Adam’s room; Derek, Mark, Tamara, Cass, Georgio and Ryan. Ryan came over to me and kissed her on the cheek and smiled. “Hey Sarah, how are you? Better now, hm?”

“Yeah, so much better. How is Krista? Can I see her too?” she asked.

“Yes, if you feel like it I guess. Come on, she’s just down the hall. This is the surgical recovery floor,” he informed her as we walked the short distance to her room. Cassie was behind her nagging Sarah and reminding her that she was supposed to be in the wheelchair. Georgio had gone back into Adam’s room to retrieve it and Cassie was standing next to it expectantly.

“God Cass, you are worse than Mom!” Sarah said, annoyed with her.

“Okay, all I’m saying is when you are worse later because you over-did it, don’t complain to me. That’s all I’m saying!”

“Cassandra Elaine!”

“Sarah Denise!”

And that was all it took to break the tension and everyone laughed. It would be okay.


Later that night Georgio and Cassie entered their hotel suite. ; They had decided to just order in room service because Cassie was very tired and Georgio was too. Jet lag could be miserable they both declared.

Cassie changed into some lounging pajamas and tied a robe around her securely, but she wondered why she bothered because it probably wouldn’t make a difference to Georgio, he was determined to keep his distance. Still, they needed to talk about it and Cassie intended to do just that. She’d had enough of the evasion about a physical relationship between them.

Georgio had ordered dinner and changed into pajamas and a robe himself. He looked quite sexy and Cassie let her eyes roam over him hungrily. He caught her eye as she raked over his body and he smiled.

“C’mere,” he said, patting his lap.

Cassie was stunned. Had he relented she wondered. Then she wasted no time doing exactly what he asked. He held her tightly for a moment and then kissed her, his mouth ravaging hers hungrily. She felt herself becoming aroused and kissed him back with everything she had.

Finally he broke the kiss and caught his breath; this was the hardest thing he had ever done. And speaking of hard things he tried to squirm a bit to get comfortable. It was useless though, he was fully aroused and she was very aware of it.

She went to kiss him again and he pulled his head back and said, “Cassie, my love we have to talk, okay? Okay?” he repeated as he felt her body begin to tense at his words. “Please, just hear me out?”

Cassie bit her lower lip, trying really hard not to cry, but she was so frustrated; over the situation and at the halt in what she perceived as a natural step for them. She finally nodded and slid off his lap so that she could look at him as he spoke.

“I know what you want and I think you know that I want that too; it’s rather obvious.” He paused for a moment, planning his next words carefully. “That is going to happen Cassie and soon, I promise, but I think you need a day or two in which to recover from the flight.” She started to open her mouth to protest and he shook his head and continued on. “I see how you are moving; you are stiff and it’s painful for you, you can’t deny it Cassie, I’m trained to see those things. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want you or that we are going to wait much longer. It will be just long enough for you to rest a bit. That’s why I got us a suite to stay in. Love, I can’t sleep in the same bed with you right now and keep my hands off of you. Please Cassie, you have to understand that. It’s going to be hard enough knowing you are 20 feet away from me!”

“Really?” she asked, her lower lip trembling as she whispered that word. “You aren’t just trying to hold me off because you don’t want me?”

“Oh Cassie, I want you so badly. I ache for you love, I need you. Please, let’s just get through the next day or two, okay?”

Cassie sniffed once, realizing she needed a tissue. She knew he was being honest though and she knew that the next day or two would seem like a year. She crawled back into his lap and felt his desire, still rampaging for her and she sighed as she kissed him again. The kiss went on and on until they heard the knock on the door with their dinner.

“Well, I guess I could say ‘saved by the bell’,” she teased. “But I gotta tell you Georgio, this better be the best damn Italian meal I’ve ever had because I’m a woman who needs some satisfaction right now!”

Her only answer was the crooked grin he tossed at her as he opened the door.

Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge

All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without the writer's permission.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chapter Seventeen

Steal your heart away…

Thanksgiving was fast approaching and Cassie was really excited. Georgio’s parents were going to his sister’s house in Florida and while sometimes he went with them, this year he was staying in Wichita. , Not only because of Cassie but also because he had two patients that had just had surgery and he needed to be close here to monitor their progress. Georgio was taking a break at the hospital after a surgery, drinking a cup of coffee as he thought about the red-headed waif that had stolen his heart.

He was okay with it all; he found that he enjoyed the company of Ed and Alice Banks. They were down-to-earth people and easy to feel comfortable with. They would all have dinner at their house and then later go to Sarah’s house for dessert, a long-standing tradition for the two families. Georgio planned on watching Cassie carefully to make sure she didn’t over-do it.

Cassie continued her physical therapy after she came home and she was doing very well. She still occasionally used the cane (if it were up to Georgio she would use it all the time) but walking seemed much easier for her now. She tired easily, true, but that was to be expected and he explained to her (more than once) that she needed to expect that for awhile longer. All-in-all, she had recovered well.

Which lead to another problem – the physical side of their relationship. It wasn’t that Georgio wasn’t ready for it, he was. More than ready, but the doctor side of him cautioned him to take it slow, for Cassie’s sake. In truth, he was scared to death he would hurt her, no matter how much care they took and so whenever things started to get a bit too close for them he backed away. It was upsetting to Cassie when that happened and he got that, he really did; he promised her (and himself) that it wouldn’t be for too much longer.

She was still staying with her parents which helped, but she was planning on going to her own house by Christmas. The only reason she hadn’t done that already was that she lived in a split level house which had stairs going up and down and she wasn’t up to them yet. She did willingly admit that, but he could tell those stairs weren’t going to stop her much longer.

The truth was that Georgio ached for her; he loved everything about her. The sultry perfume she wore, the sassy red hair and her tiny stature that belied a diminutive personality. Her ironic sense of humor often had him laughing until tears ran down his face and yet there was such a naive innocence about her that he wanted to protect her from the world. Cass always said exactly what she meant and always meant exactly what she said. There were no games with her, no trying to figure out what she wanted; she was straight up about it.

Georgio struggled often to be open with her as well. For years now he had hidden his own emotions away; partly because he didn’t have anyone to share them with and partly because it was easier that way. Now, with Cassie in his life he was finding that she often took his silence the wrong way which led to misunderstandings. She had told him more than once, “I won’t ever expect you to read my mind if you won’t expect me to read yours” but sometimes it seemed that was exactly what he expected. But he was working on it, trying really hard.

Now that Cassie was moving around a lot more she was asking him to take her to his house so that she could ‘visit his world’ as she put it. More likely she wanted to ‘visit his bed’. He was no dummy and could read her really well. So, for now, he kept finding excuses to avoid the visit but he knew he couldn’t do that much longer.

She had met several of his brother’s and sister’s at his parents’ house now and she fit right in with the boisterous and noisy lot of them. He often sat back and watched as she joked with his sisters as she sat at the table chopping vegetables and such. It’s like she was born to be in the family and he knew that she was the darling of the Gorman clan. Eleni often called her just to chat and had come to visit her at her parents’ house as she recovered and while she was a little more outgoing than Alice and Ed, they liked her very much and the feeling was mutual.

News that he had received today was going to change things, for both of them and he had to talk to Cassie about it. It was exciting news and he hoped that Cassie would share that opinion. He was going to approach her about it all soon and frankly, he couldn’t wait to see how she reacted.

He took another sip of the now cold coffee and grimaced before getting up and pouring it into the sink. So much the better down the drain anyway, it was lousy coffee.


Cassie sat on the couch at her parents’ house painting her toenails a bright, vivid red. Sinful Red the bottle read and she chuckled as she applied the first coat. Not too bad, she decided as she stuck her foot out to admire her handiwork. She pulled her leg back to put another coat on and Cinder decided to jump up on the couch and investigate the strange smell. Her tiny wet nose sniffed delicately at Cassie’s foot and then a pink tongue snuck out to take a taste of the strange smelling appendage.

It was dry enough that it didn’t get on her tongue but she still stuck her tongue out and shook her head, sneezing as she did so. She looked at Cassie with accusing eyes, as if to say, “What are you doing and why doesn’t that taste good?” Cassie laughed, which only made matters worse because the princess of the house definitely did not like being laughed at. She cocked her head to one side and Cassie knew that if that dog could cuss she would definitely be getting an earful right about now.

“Eeerrrrffff,” Cinder said, indignant.

“Woof, yourself, young lady! That will teach you to poke your nose and tongue where they don’t belong,” Cassie laughed.

Max, hearing the commotion jumped down from Ed’s lap and came to investigate; afraid he’d miss something good – in other words a treat.

“What do you want fat boy?” Max certainly hadn’t been missing any meals since he had stayed with her mom and dad Cassie thought wryly.

Max sniffed her hand, hoping to uncover a bite of something. Cassie held her hand out, palm up and said, “See Maxie, nothing there. Sorry!”

Max only stared at it, finally nuzzling against it with his cold nose. He looked up at her with sad eyes and cocked his head to the side, much like Cinder had done earlier.

“Oh no you don’t! You are not going to bribe me with that adorable, pitiful look of yours. Huh uh, no way!”

Max raised a paw and laid it on Cassie’s hand. She swore she saw his lower lip pooch out in a pout. At that point Cinder decided to get in on the action and scooted across the couch and laid her chin on Cassie’s leg.

“You too, Cinder? Dad, what the heck have you been teaching these two?” Cassie asked, trying not to look at the two scamps who were trying to get her to go and get them both a treat.

“Hey kiddo, you’re on your own here; you mom has spoiled them rotten. If I were you I’d just give in now and go and get them a t-r-e-a-t.”

“What you have to spell it now? You can’t just say treat?”

As she spoke the magic word both dogs again cocked their heads and let out tiny little pleas for a treat.

“Ooouuummmph,” Cinder said, again cocking her head to the side.

“Awwwolllfff,” Max added.

Oh for heaven’s sake!” Cassie said, getting up off the couch and heading into the kitchen. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she muttered as she came into the room where her mom was putting a chicken into the oven.

Alice turned around and smiled as first Cassie, then the two experts in sustenance negotiations made their way into the kitchen. Cassie stood in the door way, looking around the room for the box of treats she knew her mom kept.

Max and Cinder stood there looking at Cassie, waiting…

“You got some carrots there, Mom? That’ll teach ‘em!” Cassie laughed.

Max and Cinder stared at her, not delighted with that idea at all.

“Oh, like you understand me! No bacon treats for you!” With that word Max and Cinder both started barking excitedly. Cassie only looked at her mother and said, “I should be pissed at this. You’ve totally spoiled them!”

“They’re just dogs Cassie. Get them a treat!” Alice said. This time, at the word treat both Cinder and Max started barking rapidly, as if to say “Treat, treat, treat!”

Alice opened the cabinet and got each dog a bacon treat, which they quickly devoured. Max cocked his head and whimpered, clearly wanting more.

“No, you little scam artist. NO MORE! Go on now, lay down!”

Realizing they had gotten as much as they could at this particular time both dogs headed out of the kitchen, to recline in comfort on the sofa. Ed watched them curl up together and fall asleep and chuckled. He’d never admit it but he kind of liked ‘em!


Cassie’s phone rang at 9 that night and she grabbed it with a smile knowing that it would be Georgio.

“Hey tall, dark and oh so sexy,” she purred into the phone.

“Uh, well, I’m not really tall or dark, but I kind of hope I’m sexy,” a laughing voice on the other end said.

“Sarah!” Cassie exclaimed, excited to talk to her best friend. “How are you? Are you home yet?”

“No, we’ll be back in two days. How are you?”

“Good, ready for the annual feast! I can taste your mom’s Pumpkin Cake Roll already!”

“Yeah, me too! Is Georgio going to be coming with you?”

“Yep, he is. His parents are going his sister Alexandra’s house, so Georgio will be eating with us.”

“Doesn’t Alexandra live in Wichita?” Sarah asked, wondering why Georgio wouldn’t be eating with them.

“No, she lives in Florida and the Wichita group are already down there. I sure hope Alexandra has a big house!”

“So, you’ll get Georgio all to yourself then, huh? Whatever will you do, Dahling?” Sarah said in her best southern belle accent.

“Well, apparently NOT what I would like to be doing, but that’s another story. You’re going to have a houseful too; sure you got room for all of us?”

“What’s four more? The circus is always better when all the clowns are there,” Sarah quipped.

“Clowns huh? Yeah, I guess that’s as good a way as anything to describe us. So, I’m finally going to get to meet Tamara?”

“Yes, she and Mark and the boys will fly in on Tuesday. The boys are really excited to come to Wichita. To them it seems exotic I guess,” she laughed.

“Wow Sarah, this is all real, isn’t it?” Cassie’s voice suddenly took on a serious note as she thought about all that was happening in their lives.

“Yes, it is Cass. Isn’t it all so exciting?”

“Yeah, and wonderful, Sarah. I can’t wait to see you!”

“Me too Cass. I’ll call when we get into town, ‘kay?”

“Okay. I really miss you.”

“Don’t even start Cassandra Elaine! I don’t want to start crying!”

“I –I won’t. Gotta go, okay? Bye.”

“Bye.” Sarah replaced the receiver and realized how much she missed Cassie. She couldn’t wait to get home!


Thanksgiving Day dawned bright and clear. It was chilly, but it was Wichita in late November and that was to be expected. Cassie awoke to the smells of turkey roasting in the oven and something spicy, probably pumpkin pies. She lay in bed and stretched, luxuriating for a moment under the covers. She felt great today and hopped out of the bed and headed into the bathroom for a shower.

Clean and scrubbed a half hour later she was debating what to wear when there was a knock on the door. Figuring it was her mom she called out, “Come on in!”

When the door opened Cassie stared in shock at Georgio. He stared back at her as all she was wearing was a skimpy towel. For a moment he imagined pulling it off of her and exploring the damp skin that it concealed. He shut his eyes to block the image out but found that it didn’t help because he had a really good imagination.

Cassie recovered really quickly and ran to him and threw her arms around his neck, standing on tip-toe to plant a sultry kiss on his mouth.

He kissed her back and pulled her to him, running his hands up and down her back before he realized what he was doing. Suddenly, there was two feet between them and Cassie stood looking at him, part coquette and part innocent, as she wondered how he had moved away so fast.

He was uncomfortably aware of the tightness of his jeans and swallowed hard, trying to think of something, anything but how sexy she looked right at this moment. He finally turned away and said, “Cassie, put some clothes on!”

Cassie let the towel drop and said, “Okay, I will.” She walked to the dresser, which was right in front of him and started digging through it for undies. She was humming lightly and fully aware of his discomfort and had to stifle a giggle as she held up a pair of red satin and lace bikinis for her contemplation. “What do you think Georgio? The red, or maybe the black?” she asked, pulling an even skimpier black thong out of the drawer.

“Cassie, for God’s sake, what are you doing?” Georgio almost groaned the words. A fine sheen of sweat now appeared on his brow and he wiped it away. However, he did not turn away from her.

“Georgio, sooner or later we’re going to have to deal with this!” she declared, standing in front of him and not looking away. “We want each other, you might as well get over it!”

Georgio swallowed – hard and then did it again. He had a picture in his head of a cartoon he had once seen that had Icabod Crane in it, swallowing over and over, his Adams Apple bobbing furiously. He opened his mouth to speak and then just as quickly closed it again. What did he say? That he wanted her? It was true; he ached for her, needed her, and constantly fantasized about her, being with her. But for heaven’s sake, they were right here in her parents’ house! He took in the sight of her beautiful body and groaned.

“Cassie, your parents are about 20 feet away from us right now; we can’t do this here!”

“Yeah, I know,” she said with a shrug and pulled on the red panties and dug into the drawer to find the matching bra. She slipped her arms into it and turned her back to him and said, “Could you help me please? It’s kind of hard on my back to try and reach back there and fasten this darn thing!”

Georgio sighed, but helped her anyway. He knew a scam when he heard it, but it was better to just go with it. After the bra was fastened Cassie walked into the closet and started pulling clothes out of it so she could dress. She was almost irritated that he had so smoothly evaded her, but he did have a point about the parents. She mentally decided to redouble her efforts to visit his house – and soon!

“Cassie, I wanted to talk to you, uh, about something.” He looked around the room for someplace to sit; either the bed or the vanity chair. He opted for the chair and took a breath before continuing. “I’ve received an offer, for a 6 week teaching fellowship at the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Health Sciences, for next January. It’s a wonderful opportunity Cassie, to teach some of the newer surgical techniques that are being done here in the states. I’d like to accept it.”

She stared at him for a minute, taking it all in. Six weeks? She felt like that was forever. How would she survive without him for 6 whole weeks? Still, it was obviously important to him and she wouldn’t stop him. She took a deep breath to compose herself and tried really hard not to let her disappointment show on her face as she said, “Well, it sounds like a great opportunity Georgio. Um, yeah and 6 weeks will go really fast and then you’ll be home again.” As she said the last a tear slipped down her face and she hurriedly wiped it away.

It suddenly occurred to Georgio that Cassie thought he was going alone and he smiled; a huge broad smile that was quickly followed by a laugh. Cassie watched for a moment and quickly turned around as more tears came to her. The next moment she felt Georgio’s strong arms around her and he said into her ear, “Cassie love, I want you to go with me.”

She turned around and her smile lit up the whole room for a moment and then she said, “You know what? Why didn’t you say that in the first place?” Her foot impatiently stamped down on the floor which made him laugh again and soon she joined him. “Remember that thing about reading minds, Georgio? We still gotta work on that!”

His response was to kiss her – and he did, until she was breathless!

Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge

All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without permission by the author.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Next Chapter

Will be delayed for a few days!  So sorry, but I'm so behind since G-man and I got back from vacation.  Not only dealing with catching up at work but also with his back injury. 

It won't be too long though, I promise.  I'll have the post up next week.  Thanks so much for your patience everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chapter Sixteen

Hi Everyone!  I am posting this a day early because I am leaving on vacation tomorrow.  I will be gone next week so there will be no post.  I will resume regular posts on Friday, October 29!

Playing with Fate…

Zeus had been pondering the problem of Pandora for weeks; why wouldn’t that silly girl just open the damn jar and prove him right! The girl was exemplifying the trustworthiness of womankind and Zeus knew better; women couldn’t be trusted. Even his darling Hera, as much as he hated to admit it would look out for herself first. And curious; she wrote the tablets on curiosity, always pushing for answers.

Hera was right about one thing though, what was called for was a bit of motivation on Pandora’s part; yes just the right incentive to prompt her into action. But what was that he wondered. In truth he didn’t know.

He sat tapping his fingers on the ornate arm rest of his mighty throne, lost in thought and oblivious to all around him. He had sent Dionysus, his light-hearted son who favored wine and forever frolicking with his friends the Satyrs to try and tempt Pandora with a bit of extra-marital activities, but alas, that failed. Dionysus was totally enchanted by the lovely and delightful Pandora but the woman was totally devoted to Epimetheus and would not be tempted. It seemed she had no Achilles heel that would provide the opening that Zeus needed.

Zeus banged his hand loudly on the arm rest and thunder rumbled across Olympus. Far below the people ran for cover, seeking shelter from what would surely be a fearful storm. Zeus laughed and tossed a few lightning bolts around too, just to provide further amusement. Finally Hera came to him to see what was bothering her wayward husband this time.

And wayward he was indeed. Just this morning she had caught him trying to get Heracles, his bastard son by a mere mortal woman, to suckle at her breast in an attempt to nourish the infant. She had thrust the child away, causing her breast milk to spill into the heaven’s creating the Milky Way. Served him right she decided as she watched as he scrambled to protect his progeny.

Zeus was a rascal and a philanderer, immoral and depraved but may the Gods help her, she loved him. She often watched from on high as he chased various women to spread his seed amongst the mortal and Gods alike. Hera didn’t have enough fingers and toes to count the numerous offspring of his infidelities. But she loved him still, her heart refusing to let go of him.

Pandora was vexing him greatly. Secretly, Hera was proud of the young woman who steadfastly refused to be tempted into opening the jar that she had been told NOT to open. But each day Zeus became more and more obsessed with the problem and Hera feared that they must find a solution soon, least he destroy all humankind.

Yes, they must soon find a solution…


Cassie enjoyed her meal that Georgio and his parents had brought her. As she tasted various bites of this and that she asked questions and complimented Eleni on the beautiful marriage of flavor of the dishes.

Georgio sat back and relaxed finally, watching the interaction between his mother and Cassie; he saw his father watching as well. His papi caught his eye and nodded approvingly. Georgio returned the nod and grinned broadly.

Cassie and his mother were getting along really well and Georgio let out a huge sigh of relief. Belinda and his mother had gotten along, but they were never close. Belinda had never quite fit in with the loud and noisy Gorman family. She had been a very quiet person and while passionate and outspoken about her causes she felt like a fish out of water with the Gorman’s. She went about her life in a calm manner, about as different from Georgio’s family as someone could be.

Cassie on the other hand was a person in motion, literally and figuratively. She was curious and inquisitive, always looking for answers. The sparkle in her eyes illustrated her love of life and made being around her so much fun. The one thing he had learned from her was that she seldom pulled her punches though; if she thought it she usually said it. She was however very sensitive to others and at least used some thought and tact before saying too much.

He loved and admired her passionate nature and couldn’t wait to discover the other side of Cassie, as a lover and a partner. That day could not come soon enough for him.

“Georgie?” He realized his mother had spoken to him and looked up to see all three of them watching him.

“Yes, I’m sorry; just uh, wool-gathering I guess. What did I miss?”

“You didn’t hear Cassie’s news?” his mom said, looking dismayed.

“I – I no, I didn’t. Cassie, please, what is your news?”

She grinned at him in sympathy, as if she had been reading his thoughts. “I just told your parents that I am being released on Monday Georgio.” She watched him as her words sank in.

“WHAT? When did you find out?” he asked as he jumped to his feet and then leant down to kiss her. He didn’t care if his parents were in the room, he was ecstatic. “You’re going home? Cassie darling, that is wonderful!”

She laughed, her eyes sparking merrily. “I just found out a couple of hours ago. I wanted to tell you in person, so I didn’t call. Monday morning I will be leaving this place. I’ll be going to stay with my parents,” she said, almost apologetically.

A brief moment of disappointment flitted across his face, but he hid it quickly. He knew that was how it needed to be for awhile, until she could comfortably and easily get around. And, it would possibly be a good obstacle to keep them apart, physically for a bit longer. He hated to admit that, but he knew it was true.

“That will be good for you. Your house has stairs Cassie and that would be too much for you to deal with for awhile. It won’t be forever,” he added as he saw a bit of sadness in her eyes because she realized as he did that it would keep them apart a bit longer. Still, they would have private time together and neither one could wait for that.

“Yes, such a good thing to be with family,” Eleni added. “And get some home cooking! My goodness you are practically wasted away to nothing here in this hospital!”

“El – Mama, I hate to tell you this but this is pretty natural for me. I’m one of those annoying people who just never gain any weight. But I’m sure going to enjoy better food, that’s for sure. And I hope lot’s more Greek cuisine!” she added.

“Of course my dear. I teach you how to cook Greek, real Greek food! You have to cook for my Yios!”

“Oh, I would love that Mama! It would make me very happy to learn.” She reached across the table top and laid her hand on top of Eleni’s, giving her hand a warm squeeze.

It brought tears to Eleni’s eyes; such a dear girl and she obviously made Georgio so happy. Yes, this was perfect for her yios! Suddenly she remembered the shawl she had brought to give to Cassie and reached for the bag that was sitting next to her on the floor. She handed the bag to Cassie with a smile and said, “For you!”

Cassie accepted the bag and looked at Georgio quizzically, as if to say, “For me?” and he nodded, a warm smile on his face. She opened the bag and took out a beautiful lace shawl. As she held it up she realized it wasn’t exactly lace, it was tatted, an old fashioned way of making lace. This was old, she could tell and she was over-whelmed by this beautiful gift.

“I love it. Thank you so much, but are you sure you want me to have it? I – I can tell that it is very old and I think it is tatted. It must have some type of significance to you.”

“Yes, it does and you have a very good eye Cassie. My mother made it; she loved to tat and she never sat idle, without her tatting in her lap. We all, the women in this family have shawls that she made; this one is for you.” She was sincere as she spoke and Cassie caught tears in her eyes.

This was significant; this woman was welcoming her into this family and Cassie felt awed by her generosity and caring. Cass felt a huge lump rise in her throat and swallowed a couple of times in an effort to push it back down so she could speak. Tears sprang to her eyes and finally found their way down her cheeks. She wiped them away with a fingertip and smiled at Eleni and Ronald who were both watching her. Georgio was holding her hand and lightly ran his thumb over the soft skin of her palm in an effort to help her compose her thoughts.

“I, um, I can’t tell you how much this means to me, to be given the special gift. I promise that I will cherish it and always hold it dear to me Mama. I don’t believe I’ve ever received something so special and personal from someone. Thank you.”

Eleni smiled through her own tears and kissed Cassie on the cheek again before standing. “Ronnie, I think it’s time we left these two to talk of private things. Georgie, you call your Mama soon okay? And bring Cassie to dinner very soon!”

Cassie and Georgio sat quietly as his parents left and the door closed. Georgio leaned back in his chair and held out his hand to Cassie. She came to him and he gently pulled her down onto his lap and held her close. For a few minutes they just held one another, each afraid to break the spell of the evening and the happiness and joy that they felt. Finally Georgio kissed her, a long and tender kiss full of passion and promises of the future. Cassie returned the kiss, giving herself to the moment and man she loved.


Monday dawned slowly, as far as Cassie was concerned anyway. She was ready to go by six, dressed and packed even though her parents weren’t due until nine. Georgio had a surgery scheduled that morning, but he called her to talk to her for a few minutes before he went in.

“Hi darling. Are you excited?” he asked.

Cassie could hear the sounds on the hospital in the background; someone speaking over an intercom and others talking around him. It was a sound she was getting very familiar with and she was perfectly okay with that. It was comforting to her to hear those sounds because it meant that Georgio was working and that someone else would get better because of that.

“Yes, I am so excited. I can’t wait to get out of here, you know? To just be at home, well, mom and dad’s but still home to me.”

“I know Cassie. And I can’t wait to see you tonight. Are you sure your parents don’t mind that I’m coming over this evening?” He didn’t want to seem too pushy but he needed to see her. He felt a tap on his should and one of his surgical nurses said, “Dr. Gorman, we’re ready.”

Cassie heard her words and said, “Hey, you need to go, I know. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

“Yes, you will. I’ll call you this afternoon Cassie. Bye…”

Cass smiled and pushed the ‘end’ key on her phone. She sat back in the chair and put her feet up; there was nothing to do now but wait, impatiently.


Cassie looked out the car window on the short trip to her parent’s house, the house she had grown up in. They passed Sarah’s old house on the way, a block away and Cassie saw that the pin oaks were still holding on their leaves. Sarah and Cassie both loved the old pin oak trees; they were always the last to lose their leaves with it often being past Christmas before they were completely shed of their colorful cloaks. Sarah and Cass would rake those leaves up into huge piles and then dive in, scattering them to the four winds, laughing until they were practically senseless.

At her parents’ house she had three steps to climb to get into the house and it was really easy. Cassie couldn’t help but to be a bit relieved about that. Her parents house was a large rambling 1930’s bungalow that just felt like home to her. She waited while her dad unlocked the front door and she smiled as she heard Max, her Shih Tzu who was barking excitedly. But what was that she wondered? Was there another dog in there too?

The door opened and Max rushed straight to her and she bent over and picked him up, scratching him behind his ears and smelling his fur; he’d had a bath just for this occasion. She heard a low growl and looked down to see a black and white Shih Tzu at her feet, acting none too pleased.

She knelt down and put Max on the floor and said, “Well hi there! Who are you?”

Her mom scooped the other dog up and said, “This is Cinder, short for Cinderella. Max seemed lonely so I thought he needed a companion.”

Cassie’s dad snorted and held back a laugh with a cough. “Read that as, she is worried about when Max goes home because she has come to like having the little guy around. So, she got HIM a companion!”

Cassie held out her hand so that Cinder could sniff it and talked soothingly to her. “Hi there Cinder, aren’t you the pretty girl? I’ll bet you are the little princess around here aren’t you?”

Cinder cocked her head to one side and decided that Cassie might not be too bad; after all she did recognize and acknowledge that she was a princess. She gave Cassie’s hand a brief lick of acceptance and then struggled to get down on the floor with Max.

They both ran to the couch and hopped up on it, curling up together in a familiar manner and were soon asleep. Cassie’s dad muttered, “That’s all they ever do, sleep and eat and”

“ED!” Cassie’s mom said, stopping him before he finished the last word of a sentence she heard way too often. “They’re just dogs, they do those things but we don’t need to hear about it all the time!”

Cass smiled at the familiarity of it all and pulled her coat off. Ed Banks took it and hung it up in the closet along with his and Alice’s’ as well. Cassie sat down on the couch and both dogs looked up at her since she had disturbed their slumber. She sat on the opposite end from them and Max immediately got up and moved next to her. She started stroking his back and he sighed and snuggled closer to her. Cinder had raised her head and stared at her friend who had left her. Cassie smiled at her and patted the couch next to Max, who was already snoring. Cinder debated for a moment and finally curiosity won out; that and a need for the warmth provided by Max’s body. Soon, she was settled next to him and snoring as well.

As Cassie’s mom brought her a cup of coffee and a piece of one of Cassie’s favorite coffee cakes and she looked around her and smiled, content.

It was good to be home!

Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge

All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without permission by the author.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Chapter Fifteen

Mother knows best…

“Georgie,” he heard his mother say on the other end of the phone. “It’s time you came for dinner again, with your papi and I this weekend. You come Saturday night, okay?”

No ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’, just right to the point - come to dinner. It was true he hadn’t been over for a few weeks, but he had been really busy with work and when he wasn’t at work he was with Cassie. He’d spend every moment with her if he could and he had wanted to see her Saturday evening, maybe bring her something special for dinner and they could just spend some quiet time together. It didn’t matter what they did, he just wanted to see her. He sighed and then smiled, knowing that he couldn’t disappoint his mother.

“Alright Mom, I’ll be there. But could we sort of make it an early evening?”

“Is something the matter Georgie? What’s wrong, Yios?”

Georgio sighed; no matter how old he was he would always be her ‘little boy’. Sometimes that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but right now it was pushing it. He was tired; he’d been in surgery for 14 hours today and hadn’t had a chance to see Cassie. He was going to hit the shower and then call her before crawling into what he had come to think of as a very lonely bed.

“Just tired Mama, just tired. It’s been a very long day!”

He could hear her clicking her tongue, a sure sign of displeasure. “You be a good boy and go to bed Georgie! You need your rest! We’ll see you Saturday, okay?”

“Okay, I’ll be there.” He heard the phone click on the other end and then the dial tone before he hung up the receiver. As he made his way to the bathroom his clothes came off, piece by piece and he was so tired he didn’t even bother with them. He was normally pretty neat, but tonight it just didn’t matter.

After a practically scalding shower he began to feel a bit better; aching muscles became flexible again and he thought he might just survive. It was only 10 p.m. , maybe he should run out to see Cassie instead of calling. Her smiling face always made him feel better. He decided to give her a call first just in case she was asleep. If she was he could just go and peek in on her; it certainly wouldn’t be the first time he had just stood and watched her sleep. He did that a few times while she was in the hospital and he loved watching her, so serene while she slept. She often made soft little sighs and he hoped that meant that she was having a happy dream. It made her seem so much more vulnerable and more than once he had had to fight himself to keep from going to her and gathering her up in his arms and holding her close.

Georgio sat down in the den and put his feet up and waited impatiently for his call to Cassie to go through. He was calling her cell phone because the desk at the rehab cut off incoming phone calls to the rooms at 10:00 o’clock. Just when he thought the call would go to voice mail she answered. He heard her mutter ‘damn’ as she tried to turn the sound on the television down.

“Hi! Are you just getting home?” she asked, suddenly feeling like a teenager. She licked her lips and pushed her hair back from her face. It was starting to grow out and she decided to let it and see if she liked it long.

“Yep. Fourteen hours of surgery today. I’m sorry I didn’t make it by to see you!”

“Hey, that’s okay Georgio, I understand. Truthfully, I’m kind of tired myself. I had a hard day at the workout barn today!” She laughed, but it was a wry laugh because her words were very true. It had been grueling. One the other hand though all the upper body strength training was making her boobs a bit perkier and that never hurt anything!

He laughed when he heard her say ‘workout barn’, which was what she always called the physical therapy room. It was huge and rather like a barn he supposed, but leave it to Cassie to coin such a ridiculous phrase for it.

“So, are you all tucked into bed?” The image of that made him groan; what he wouldn’t give to be tucked into bed with her.

For several heartbeats she was silent and he knew that she was thinking the same thing. Their need for one another was growing stronger every single day. It was two weeks before Thanksgiving now and he had hopes that she would be out of the rehab before too much longer. She was growing stronger every single day and walking farther distances each day on the track. Yes, he hoped she would be going home soon. Not that it would change things on a physical level for them, but just to have some private time, to sit next to her and hold her close would be such a blessing.

“Why don’t you come and see for yourself? I’m wearing this sexy little red lace number; I think you’ll like it!” she teased. She looked down at the flannel pajamas she was actually wearing and a crooked grin spread across her face.

Oh, if only it were the red lace!

“Red lace huh? Tell me about it?” he teased right back. He knew that she wasn’t wearing any such thing but he had absolutely no problem imagining it. He felt himself start to grow hard with that thought and he added, “Okay, so maybe you’d better not!”

They were both silent for a moment and finally Georgio said, “Hey, I’m going to my parents for early dinner on Saturday. Would you like me to bring you a plate of food when I leave there?”

“Well, you don’t have to go out of your way Georgio,” she said.

“I’m going to come and see you anyway so you might as well reap the benefits of my mom’s cooking while you’re at it!”

“Okay, it sounds great.” She yawned and tried to muffle the sound with her hand, but Georgio heard it anyway.

“Hey, I think you need to get some rest. I know that they are pushing you really hard so you can get out of there. So sleep well Cassie. I’ll see you tomorrow, I promise!”

Another, louder yawn slipped out and she laughed before saying reluctantly, “Okay. I’m sorry I’m so tired. Tomorrow then?”

“Yes, tomorrow Cassie.”

I love you…

“Goodnight Georgio.”

I love you…

They both hung up their phones, the words left unsaid between them. But they both knew and they both felt a bit happier because of it.


Every muscle in Georgio’s body protested when he got out of the chair to head to bed. On the way he did manage to scoop up his discarded clothes that he had left lying around and he threw them into the hamper in the bathroom. He yanked the comforter and sheet down and sat down on the edge of the bed while he set the alarm for the next morning.

After he settled into the bed his thoughts returned to Cassie. Honestly, he felt like he was some kind of horny teenager where she was concerned; he couldn’t get her out of his head. He imagined her in some kind of sexy red lace nightie and it drove him positively wild with desire. He was hard and aching for her no matter which way he laid in the bed he couldn’t get comfortable. He wouldn’t have felt any comfort to know that 4 miles away in her hospital bed Cassie was having the same problem.

Sleep took awhile to claim them both that night.


Georgio had Saturday rounds to make at the hospital before he headed off to his parents house. He hoped that his mom had meant it when she said it was just him and Mom and Dad. He wanted a quiet dinner before he went to Cassie’s. He adored the nieces and nephews, but tonight he just wasn’t up for it.

As soon as he walked through the door at his parents’ house he smelled the aromas of home and the past. Eleni had made Souvlaki, Georgio’s childhood favorite and poached pears in a sugared wine sauce. The fragrance of the spices immediately set his taste buds on overdrive.

“Mama, Papi, I’m here!” he called out. He took his coat off and hung it in the closet by the front door.

“In here, Yios!” he heard his mother say. He made his way into the kitchen and saw his mother at the stove, stirring the sauce for the pears. His dad was setting at the table reading a medical journal.

Georgio kissed his mother’s soft cheek and smelled the Chanel No 5 that she had worn ever since he could remember. That and the face powder she favored as well. It was intrinsically her ‘smell’ and he loved it. It meant that all was right with the world.

“Sit down, Georgie. Ronnie, get your hard working son a glass of retsina!”

When Ronald Gorman started to rise Georgio laid a gentle hand on his shoulder and said, “Mama, I got it. Sit down Papi!”

He poured a small glass and took it to the table to sit and chat with his dad. He was reading an article about advances in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and Ronald shook his head and said “It’s such a shame some of this treatment is just coming out now; it really could have helped your yia yia.”

“I know Papi. But there is a least hope for the future, you know? For others, that is.”

His mom started to set the dinner dishes out and Georgio got up to help her set the table while she dished up the food. It looked even better than it smelled and he couldn’t wait to eat.

As they chatted through dinner Georgio said, “Is there going to be some leftovers Mama?”

Eleni looked at him as if he had lost his mind and said, “What, you think I don’t feed you enough? Why wouldn’t I make enough for leftovers? Look at you, you’re practically skin and bones ,Yios!”

He laughed and said, “No, it’s not for me. I thought I’d take a plate to a friend of mine; she loves Greek food.”

“She? Your friend is a ‘she’?” she asked, on the alert.

Oh God, what have I done? Stupid Georgio, really stupid...

“Um, yes, yes she is.”

“Well, why didn’t you bring her to dinner with you? What’s the matter with you? Didn’t I teach you any manners?” Eleni looked ashamed for a moment before she started to speak again. “We always have plenty. Why wouldn’t you bring her to meet us? Are you ashamed of us?”

Georgio mentally shook his head. His mom always went for the guilt approach and made him feel like crap. “No Mama, that’s not it – she’s in the hospital.”

“The hospital,” his dad said, jumping into the conversation. “What’s wrong with her?”

“Well, it’s actually the rehab hospital now, but she was in an accident a few months ago and had an incomplete spinal injury. No surgery, but I treated her while she was at the hospital. Now she’s, um, just a friend.”

“A friend? I can most certainly see that she is not ‘just a friend’ Georgio!”

Uh oh, she used Georgio instead of Georgie. She was now pissed…

“Well?” she asked, waiting for an explanation. “Who is she? Is she Greek?”

He smiled then and shook his head. “No Mama, she is not Greek. Her name is Cassie Banks.”

Eleni’s eyebrows raised a half an inch at his admission. It was not really of importance, but still she could hope. The point was that Georgio was interested in this woman and that was a good thing – the best thing actually. “So you are going to take her a plate of my food? Well good. If she’s in the hospital I’m sure she is fairly starving. I’ve tasted the food they serve there; it’s not fit for people to eat! You should have mentioned this before and I would have made sure she had decent food!”

“It’s okay Mama, I’ve brought her plates of your food before and I bring her other things as well, so do her parents and other friends. She owns a catering business here and she knows good food. She thinks yours is outstanding!” Butter her up a bit, Georgio decided.

“Well, I’m going to get her a plate ready to go and then we are going to take it to her! I must meet this young woman, Georgie.”

Oh God, NOT what he had intended! So not what he had wanted…

“No Mama, that’s not necessary. I’ll take it to her, it’s chilly out and I know how the cold bother’s your arthritis.” Try a tactical defense…

“Nonsense! Ronnie, help me get these dishes into the dishwasher. No, wait, Georgie, you help your papi and I will get the plate ready for Cassie. Come on, hurry up.”

Ronald Gorman looked at his son with pity in his eyes and a grin on his face. He shrugged as if to say, “What will be will be, Son – go with it!”

Georgio wondered if he could drag out loading the dishwasher but one look at his mother’s determined face told him she wasn’t going to put up with any nonsense or delaying tactics. Better to just get it over. Still, it pissed him off each time he heard his father chuckle as he rinsed a dish.

The chore done they were ready to go. His mother had packed a huge plate full of food for Cassie and also one of her prize shawls that her mother had made. She wrapped that up as well and they went outside to get into the car. Georgio said, “Mama, Papi, you might want to take your own car; I’ll probably stay much later than you will, so I can talk with Cassie.”

Ronald nodded and pushed the button to raise the garage door. Eleni stood for a moment, debating whether or not to just get in Georgio’s car. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust him, but she didn’t want to let him out of her sight. He had a woman in his life and she wasn’t going to let it go!

She finally climbed into the front seat of his car and held the bag that contained Cassie’s dinner on her lap. Georgio sighed, he had wanted to call Cassie on the way to the hospital to warn her they were coming; she might have been able to desert ship and save herself.

The ride to the hospital was fairly quiet; Eleni asked a few more questions about Cassie, all of which Georgio answered. At the rehab hospital they all walked in and Georgio’s heart started to beat a bit faster. Partly because he was going to see Cassie and partly because he was going to see Cassie with his parents!

At her door he knocked softly and heard her say come in. He opened the door, an apologetic look on his face and was greeted with the most beautiful sight; his love dressed in sexy black lounging pajama’s, her hair pinned up and make up on. She looked breath-taking!

“Cassie, you look beautiful.”

Her face lit up, glowing with pleasure at his words. Then she saw the people following behind him and looked puzzled. She thought they must have the wrong room, but Georgio sort of shook his head and so she waited to see who they were.

“Cassie, may I present my mother and father, Eleni and Ronald Gorman. Mama, Papi, this is Cassandra Banks. We call her Cassie.”

Eleni all but threw the bag with dinner and the shawl in it at Ronald and made a dash for Cassie. She bent to kiss her, once, twice on each cheek and she smiled her joy at meeting Cassie.

Cassie immediately recognized that smile; it was plastered on Georgio’s handsome face. She didn’t know what was happening, but it was okay. She instinctively liked his parents; how could she not when they raised such a wonderful man. Ronald set the bag down and greeted her as well, sans the kisses. He was a handsome man and she thought she could see exactly what Georgio would look like thirty years from now.

“Um, please, sit down. Here, at the table. Georgio, maybe you could get another chair from down the hall, please?” she asked. She could smell the delectable aroma coming from the bag and she couldn’t wait to dig in, even if she did have company.

“Here Cassie, please sit down and let me get your dinner out for you. My goodness you are tiny little thing aren’t you? Shame on Georgie for not telling me about you sooner! You need good food, not like the cardboard stuff they must feed you here. You no worry, I will make sure you have plenty of good food from now on, okay?”

“I – I thank you so much Mrs. Gorman. I love your cooking!”

“No Mrs. Gorman, you can call me Mama, okay?”

Georgio walked back into the room just in time to hear this last phrase. He wanted to turn around and run out of the room but Cassie caught his eye and winked.

It was going to be alright!

Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge

All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without the permission of the author.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chapter Fourteen

Catching Up…

Sarah knocked on the door to Cassie’s room and pushed it open when she heard Cassie’s “Come in!”

“Oooh,” Cassie exclaimed, her eyes bright and sparkling as she eyed the take out bag from Bangkok. “What do we have?”

“The appetizer platter of course, spicy fried rice, shrimp panang and the spicy beef stir fry you like! Think I have enough food here?” Sarah laughed, setting it all out on her tray table which was pulled up to a chair where she was sitting. Sarah pulled up another chair opposite of it and dug through the bag for looking chopsticks and napkins.

“Hey, where’s your mom?” Cassie asked, taking her first mouthful of spring roll and making a blissful face. “Mm!”

“She went to get her hair done. Actually, I think she just wanted to give us some time alone, which was cool I thought. How was therapy this morning? Yesterday you looked wiped-out!”

“It was better this morning, but I’ll be tired like that after this afternoon’s therapy. They have me on the parallel bars walking, and that just zaps my energy. That’s why I’ve got some time to rest today, before they have me do that again.”

“Um, I’m sure that is tiring,” Sarah answered, taking a bite of the shrimp panang, mixed with a little of the spicy fried rice.

“Yeah, you know you don’t think about things like that—getting tired just by walking a few steps I mean. I never had any idea it would be like this. We walk around all our lives, so who would think that being flat on your back for just a few weeks would make your body totally lose its strength and muscle control. It just amazes me really.”

“I’m just so grateful that you are recovering so quickly, Cassie. I know that’s not always the case with spinal cord injuries…” Sarah trailed off. She thought about people who never recovered and offered yet another hasty prayer of thanks to God for Cassie’s ability to recover.

“Yeah, it really could have been totally different.” She was thoughtful for a minute while she took a bite of the beef, which made her tongue tingle from the heat. “Whoa mama! This is hot! But very, very good,” she grinned, wiping fake sweat off of her brow.

Sarah giggled and then asked, “So, how is Dr. Gorgeous?”

Cassie gave a muffled snort and then grinned wickedly. “Well, he’s hotter than this beef!”

“Cassie!” Sarah exclaimed, “What have you been doing?” She tried to sound indignant or outraged, but it didn’t come off well and Cass called her on it.

“You better let Adam do the acting, okay, because you really stink at it!” she laughed.

“Okay, okay I’m not an actress. I get the point. But…back to the point which was Dr. Gorgeous! C’mon on Cass, spit it out!” Her laughing abruptly stopped and Sarah realized that there was something serious about Cass and Dr. Gorman and whatever it was, she hoped she didn’t get hurt.

“He’s, uh, I’m – uh, I’ve never known anyone like him. He is so dedicated to what he does, but every once in a while he breaks out of the doctor mode and just talks, like, like a normal guy. I don’t have a crush on the doctor part of him, really I don’t. I mean, people say that often time’s patients develop crushes like that. He helped me so much as a doctor, and I am so very grateful, but my feelings are different than that,” she told Sarah, utterly serious.

“How different Cassie? Tell me,” Sarah urged.

“We talk about things that don’t have anything to do with my injury or recovery. Like when he comes to see me now, I mean he always asks how I feel or what I’ve done, but he really isn’t my doctor any longer, those are just questions that get him here I think. Mostly we talk about who we are, what we do, our families. I love hearing about his – his dad was in WW II and was in Greece, where he met Eleni, Georgio’s mother. They had a whirlwind romance and he married her. Then it took almost 2 years to get her into the states, but they finally succeeded when she was pregnant with their first child. Georgio is the youngest of 10 kids!”

“So, his given name is Georgio then? And he’s single?”

“Yes, his name is Georgio and he was married, but she died almost 7 years ago. They didn’t have any children; she had ovarian cancer, before she died from it. It sounds very sad, doesn’t it?”

“Yes. I would imagine that something like that is all the more frustrating when you are a doctor and can’t really do anything. So what else do you know about him?” Sarah prodded.

“Well, he’s 44 and as I said, the baby of the family. His oldest brother is almost 61. Both his parents are still living and spend about half of the year in Greece and half here. He has 5 brothers and 4 sisters and dozens of nieces and nephews and he dotes on all of them,” she said as she was finishing her meal. “His mother and sisters are fabulous cooks. He’s brought me food a couple of times. Delish!” She leaned back in the chair and laid her hand on her tummy, which even though she has been lying around for weeks, was as flat as ever. But then again, Cass never gains any weight Sarah thought. If you see her from behind, you would think she is a high school girl she is so lithe and petite.

“So, you seem to know him pretty well?” Sarah asked, but she already knew the answer.

“Yes Sarah, worry wart! Since I’m here in the rehab hospital, I am no longer his patient” she said, a smile spreading across her face.

“Hm,” Sarah said, digesting this information. “So, if you are no longer a patient, you are a ….?”

“I, am, well, we’re getting to know each other and we’ll see, okay? We have kissed though!”

“Oh my, I guess this is just all such a surprise Cass,” Sarah tried to keep a smile on her face, but it was hard for her; concern for Cassie was vividly entrenching itself in her head. Cassie got caught up so easily in romance and got hurt so often. She opened her heart and invariably some jerk trampled all over it; Sarah prayed this was different.

It wasn’t exactly that Cassie fell in love all the time; in fact Sarah wondered if it ever had come to that after Walt. She just tried to fall in love, thinking that would make everything better. There was something about all this though that made Sarah think that it had actually happened and while she could see very well how Cass felt it told her nothing about the good doctor. What did he think?

“Sarah, I see how concerned you are; I don’t blame you really, given my past history. But he is different; he feels the same as I do. We have months to figure it all out; we’re not rushing anything especially while I’m in here.”

“Yeah, isn’t there some rule about doctors and patients?”

“I think so but you have to understand that I am not his patient any longer and nothing was discussed about this until that was a fact. Although I knew how I felt before that and so did he I think.” She reached across the table and said, “One day at a time Sarah, I promise.”

Sarah nodded and tried to relax; she could only pray for the best for Cassie. She decided to switch gears and said, “SO, would you like to hear about California?”

“Absolutely! Tell me all about everything!”

“It was fantastic Cass! I was so scared to meet them all; I was afraid Tamara would be some glamorous Hollywood type and she wasn’t at all! I mean, she sort of looks like it, but she’s not.”

“What does she look like?”

“Tall, thin, a beautiful olive complexion and long, dark hair. Really graceful and lovely, but she is so down to earth and nice. So are his parents; his father looks just like Adam, only older so it is easy to see how he will look in 20 years of so! His mom looks just like Julie Andrews, I kid you not! I felt so at home with them all.”

“Wow, Tamara sounds really intimidating.”

“Yeah, but you know what? She was nervous to meet me!”

Both of Cassie’s eyebrows arched upwards in surprise, but her words made Sarah laugh. “And so she should be! Aren’t brunettes always jealous of stunning blondes?”

Sarah kind of looked down at herself and shook her head. “I don’t know about that. But we got on really well. She’s funny and really put me at ease. You’ll actually like her whenever you have a chance to meet her. The best part of the trip was the boys though!”

Cassie watched Sarah’s face light up at the mention of the boys; she was enchanted Cass could tell.

“If Gerald is the older version of Adam the boys are the younger, dark curly hair and dimples. They are both very sweet and they adore their father. Geoff is the younger and he took pity on me and sort of showed me the California ropes, so to speak. He is adorable and they are both really accepting of their parents relationships with other partners. Can you guess who Tamara is living with?”

“Nope, no idea. Tell me! Someone famous?”

“Yes! Mark Bonner!”

Cassie thought for a moment, trying to place the name. Then it hit her! “Mark Bonner, the director?”

“Yes. He is really nice as well. These people totally blew my image of Hollywood. Tamara is a set designer, does the sets for many famous movies including River of Doubt.”

“So do they live in a mansion? I know you said Adam doesn’t.”

“No, they don’t either.” She laughed and added, “It was totally surprising,. The surprise birthday party was wonderful and so was the day at the beach, the next day.”

“Oh God, I forgot about that. Tell me - were you kind to Adam when you guys played softball?”

“Sure. We played girls against boys. We only beat them by a dozen runs or so!” She laughed long and hard over that because the look on Adam’s face was so precious. Of course, when he made her ‘pay’ later on, well, that was pretty good too!

“Cassie, Adam’s house sets right on the beach and the view is spectacular! It is three levels and is built into the side of the cliff. You come in on the ground level which is actually the top level of the house. The next level down is where the bedrooms are and then the lower level is the kitchen, dining room, patio room, that kind of stuff. The patio room leads out to the patio of course. He has a pool even and an outside hot tub and a kitchen to die for. It turns out Adam is somewhat of a gourmet chef.”

“No kidding? He can cook too?” Cassie grinned thinking she might actually have something in common with him after all. And since Sarah hardly cooked this was a lucky break for her.

“He is an amazing cook. He made scrambled eggs here one morning that were the best I’d ever had. When I asked him about them he said they were his mother’s recipe and that if he told me he’d have to kill me, so I’d have to ask her. Well, I did and you know what the ‘special’ ingredient turned out to be? Guess! Just take a guess!”

Cassie laughed out loud and said, “I have no idea! What is the ‘special’ ingredient?”

“Wine, white fizzy wine to be exact!”

“Whose smuggling wine in here?” a new voice asked. Georgio strolled into the room with vase of more of the deep pink roses. They had had to throw out the first ones the day before and Cassie had felt so bummed about it. He was also grinning broadly when he saw that Cassie was apparently enjoying her visitor.

He sat the vase down and turned to Sarah, offering his hand. “Sarah, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she answered watching him as he bent down and quickly kissed Cassie. His eyes drank her in and Sarah unconsciously let out a breath that she had been emotionally holding. He really did care about Cass; things suddenly seemed so much clearer. “Dr. Gorman, how are you?”

“Please Sarah, call me Georgio! And I’m much better now that I’m here.” He pulled a second chair up to join them and said to Cassie, “How are you today? How did your aqua therapy go this morning?” He held her hand and lightly stroked it with his thumb.

“Alright, Georgio then.” She took in the sight of the two of them, how connected they were. It was amazing to Sarah to watch; she had never seen Cassie connect with a man like this. It made Sarah miss Adam so much more.

Georgio looked at Sarah then and they stared at one another for a moment; something unspoken flowed between them. Perhaps a promise of devotion for the woman who sat there watching them both curiously. At any rate, it was enough for both of them and Georgio said, “Is your friend Adam with you today?”

“No, he is actually in Dallas right now working on a movie. The same movie he was working on in Italy when we met.”

“Cassie mentioned that and that you’ve been in California for a week or so. You seem to have healed well, I might add. Good for you.”

“Yes, I am doing fine actually. Not really even sore any longer. We had a nice visit in California; I met Adam’s kids and family.”

“He seemed like a nice guy; he was visiting Cassie one day in the hospital with your daughter and we chatted briefly. Didn’t seem like what I imagined a famous actor would be like!”

Sarah gave a brief laugh and said, “I know. It’s amazing; he’s just sort of a normal guy who happens to be famous. It still sort of boggles my mind.”

“Well, I’m sure the press exaggerate everything actors do; they have to have something to write about and report, I suppose!” he chuckled.

“That seems to be true, from what I can tell. Adam is pretty much just ignores it all.” Just then Sarah’s cell phone rang and she looked at it and added, “This is Mom, Cassie. I am supposed to meet her downstairs so I have to go now.” She leaned over the table and kissed Cassie on the cheek and nodded to Georgio. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

“Yeah. Sarah, thanks for lunch, it was great!”

“You’re welcome. Bye!” and just like that she was gone.

“Did you have a nice visit?” Georgio asked.

“It was great. We got caught up on all sorts of things!”

“Hm, like me?” His eyes twinkled with merriment as he watched the inevitable blush spread across her face.

“You? Why would we talk about YOU?” she teased.

“Oh, that wasn’t nice! I’m just going to have to kiss you until you shut up!”

“Promise?” she said sweetly and sighed when he did just that.

Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge

All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without permission by the author.