Zeus strode around the room, his frustration brimming over. Hera watched him through narrowed eyes, a slight smile turning up the corners of her mouth. She turned her focus back to the task at hand, toying with the mortals below.
She stood over a diorama that depicted the blue-green Aegean Sea. On the tableau small craft bobbed in the mostly placid waters, scurrying to and fro on one business task or another. Hera leaned down and gently blew on the waters, making the deceptively smooth surface ripple slightly. The small craft bobbed a bit harder as deck hands grasped for something to hold onto. She smiled a wide, generous grin that transformed her normally placid face. A faint tinkle of laughter escaped her lips and she sighed at how easily she could amuse herself.
“By the Ancient One’s Hera, pay attention! Pandora has not yet opened the jar!” Zeus bellowed.
“But dearest, you instructed her NOT to! She is only doing as she was told!” Hera watched as the boats on the surface settled back down before she leaned down and blew on the surface again, much harder this time. The boats dipped and swayed wildly in the water and Hera listened to the frightened cries of the humans below as they clung to the ropes and rails to keep from being tossed overboard.
“Hera, you know as well as I do that she is a human female; she cannot resist the temptation to open the jar. Her curiosity cannot be denied!”
“And yet she stubbornly refuses to do what she has been told NOT to do. Imagine that!” Hera teased. “So what do you plan next my love? She appears to be a woman of integrity and not easily swayed by earthly desires like curiosity.”
“INTEGRITY?” Zeus roared! “Who ever heard of such a thing where humans are concerned? They are all mindless rats, hurrying about and seeking only their own pleasures or to fill their bellies. They haven’t the brains to guide themselves in their pathetic lives, more or less make decisions. It is ridiculous! I command her to open the jar!” With that Zeus pounded his fist down hard on the diorama, his anger causing thunder to roll over it as the impact sent tidal waves surging over large and small craft alike, capsizing most and tossing the humans into the sea willy-nilly. A satisfied grimace covered his face and he nodded.
“A little behind the scenes finagling, that’s what this situation calls for!” He winked at Hera and strode from the room, leaving her alone to laugh mercilessly at the desperate plight of the humans in the water below.
After Cassie was settled into her room and the strange bed she looked around, as much as she could. This room was going to be her home for awhile and so she had better get used to it. She also promised herself that she would follow Dr. Gorman’s orders to the letter so that she could get the hell out of Dodge as soon as possible.
A thought occurred to her while she was waiting on her parents to come in: Sarah had told her that she was supposed to call Adam when she got home. That obviously wasn’t going to happen now and Cass wondered how Adam would handle that? He might actually see it as a stroke of luck; you never know but from what Sarah had told her Cassie doubted that.
Maybe I should have a talk with Lissa, just in case!
Just then her parents came into the room followed quickly by Dr. Gorman. Cassie smiled inwardly as she saw him and privately dubbed him ‘Dr. Gorgeous’! He really was a handsome man, it wouldn’t hurt her a bit to have to see him every day, no indeed!
“Well Ms. Banks, how are you feeling now?” he asked her as he looked at the machines that were monitoring her.
“I think that me and this catheter are getting a bit too friendly!” she laughed and then continued. “This is quite a unique set up here; feels weird, my knees being slung up over this thing.” She was talking about the A-shaped form where her knees fit. It lifted her back slightly to keep pressure off of it.
“I’m positive you’ll get used to it, in time anyway. It is a bit strange I know but it will help your back tremendously I promise. Otherwise, things are okay?” He totally ignored the remark about the catheter, which was an all too common complaint.
“Sure, I love having such a great view of the ceiling and aren’t I the lucky girl? I seem to have ample time to count all the little holes in the tiles!” As soon as she said the words she realized how childish they sounded and she blushed brightly with her embarrassment.
Georgio noticed and secretly thought it made her look really cute. He wanted to laugh, not at her, but at the exasperated tone in her voice. He knew how he would feel if it was him in that position. Actually she was taking it all really well – most patients were yelling or crying at this point.
“I guess we have a goal then Ms. Banks, to get you off of your back as soon as possible! I’ll do my part; will you do yours?” His smile lit up his face again, which strangely brought another blush to her face.
Cassie knew that she would do anything to keep him happy!
Cassie could hardly keep her eyes open after the doctor left and her mother and father both noticed and soon decided to go themselves so Cassie could rest. They both kissed her goodbye and waved as they pulled the door closed behind them. Cass let out a satisfied sigh and closed her eyes in anticipation of some well-deserved sleep.
A couple of hours later her slumber was disturbed by a nurse coming in to check on her and take her vitals. She begrudgingly opened first one eye and then the other as she watched the nurse look at the machines and jot down information. She turned to Cass and smiled, fussing with the bed covers.
“How are you? Oh, by the way, my name is Deidra; you were sleeping when I came on shift. I’ll be taking care of you tonight.” She looked closely at Cassie’s face and said, “Your lips look dry. Have you had anything to drink? We don’t have an IV line in you for fluids.”
“Yeah, actually I am thirsty, hungry too. Nobody fed me tonight,” Cass said, licking her lips in anticipation of food and water. “How on earth am I supposed to eat or drink though, being flat on my back like this?”
“Oh, it’s all pretty high-tech you know – space wafers. They don’t taste like much but nutritionally they’re tops!” She laughed and then frowned as she saw Cassie’s face turn to a look of despair. “Oh God, I’m sorry, I’m just teasing. That’s why they have me on the night shift – I never know when to shut my mouth!”
Cassie giggled as she got it then and commented, “You and I are going to get along just fine Deidra; keep it up!”
The nurse nodded, still feeling a bit embarrassed over the thoughtless comment and then said, “Well, I’ll go and raid the fridge and see what I can find for you to eat. How about a sandwich and some pudding?”
“Oh, that sounds wonderful,” and they both laughed when Cassie’s stomach growled in agreement. “Hey, what time is it anyway?”
Deidra looked at her watch and responded, “It’s about half past 2. Now, hold on while I go and get you some food!”
She had only been gone for a moment when the door opened again. Cassie couldn’t see who was there and it was really frustrating for her. Soon though two familiar faces were looking at her and tears sprang to her eyes; Lissa was back and so was Derek, her brother.
They took turns bending down and giving her a kiss on the cheek and then Derek grabbed her hand and lightly squeezed it.
“Oh, I’m sorry Cassie, did I hurt you? They told us you were paralyzed – uh, temporarily anyway. I don’t want to hurt you,” he said as he watched her face for reaction. He felt sort of uncomfortable, he wasn’t sure what to say or do. All he knew was that Cassie was just like a second mother and he was worried about her.
Cassie laughed and said, “No Derek, I’m fine. How is your mom doing? Is she awake yet?”
Lissa shook her head and told Cassie, “No, not yet. The swelling is pretty bad Cassie; it could be a day or two.”
Cassie frowned as she digested that news, could it be that Sarah’s injury was worse than they were telling her?
As if reading her mind, Lissa told her that it was pretty normal for head injuries like that and not to worry; Sarah would wake up when the swelling was down.
The nurse came back in then with a tray for Cassie and said, “Oh, you have company! Are you her kids?”
Both Lissa and Derek looked at her and hesitated to answer. They were afraid that if they said no they would be asked to leave. Finally Lissa said, “No, but we are family. I’m also a doctor. Is it okay that we are here?”
“Sure! If it doesn’t bother her it’s fine with me; visits are great for patients. Maybe you would like to help her have a bit of dinner?”
Derek reached for the tray and set it on the tray table at the foot of the bed. “Sure,” he said, “we’ll take care of her.”
Deidra nodded and then smiled as she left the room. When the door closed Cassie asked what was on the tray.
“Hmm, looks like a ham and cheese sandwich, some chocolate pudding and a banana. Oh, and a carafe of water,” Derek answered. “Hey Tigger, how’s she supposed to eat like that?”
Lissa laughed as he called her by the old childhood nickname and said, “She gets to be fed! We’ll hold it and she’ll bite it, hopefully the food and not us!”
Cassie said, “Yeah, well I’d watch your finger’s if I were you, I’m starving!” From the first bite to the last, it was delicious and she enjoyed every bit of it. When she was finally done she let out a satisfied sigh and a burp! “Oops, your mom would be yelling at me right about now!”
“Well, she’d get over it! Remember when we learned to burp the alphabet? She nearly killed us – ALL of us!” Derek laughed.
They chatted for a few more moments and Cassie thought about Adam and their mother. She needed to tell them what went on, just in case he called.
“Hey, did you guys get your mom’s purse? Her cell phone actually?”
“No, they couldn’t find it at the accident site. I’m going to cancel her credit cards and stuff tomorrow, just in case,” Lissa informed her.
“Well, there’s one more thing you might need to take care of. Your uh, um, your mom met someone over there in Italy. They became pretty close and uh, they were going to spend some time together back here.”
“Someone? A man?” Derek asked, a frown creasing his brow.
“Yes, a man. His name is Adam Richland.”
“Adam – Adam Richland? Like the movie star?” Lissa asked.
“Yes. But not like the movie star, he is, I mean it IS the movie star!”
“You’re kidding us, right?”
“Uh, no. Not unless your mom was kidding me and I’m positive she wasn’t. She told me about him on the ride from the airport, before the crash.”
“Holy cow! My mom and a movie star?” Lissa’s face showed her disbelief.
Derek groaned and rolled his eyes. “I don’t believe it!”
“Well, you had better believe it. He’s probably tried to call her, so you better be prepared for a message on the machine at her house since you don’t have the cell. Have you been there yet?”
“No, haven’t had time. Well, this is certainly something to think about. Something indeed…”
Cassie fell back asleep and rested fitfully for the rest of the night. She was scared, she finally admitted that to herself in the wee hours of the morning and she hated being scared. So many times in her life she had just simply banned the word ‘scared’ from her vocabulary. Like when Walt defected in their marriage.
Actually, he had defected and checked out almost as soon as they had gotten married; it just took her 16 years to realize it. Then one day he just walked in and came clean about his life, his hidden life that is, the one that he lived outside of Cassie’s world. The worst part of it all was that she had no clue about him, about the person he really was.
How could she have lived with a man, shared her life, her hopes and her dreams with someone whom she knew so little about. It was like they actually lived in two separate worlds; in truth they actually did. He had told her of his constant stream of affairs; women that came and went in his world and it was as if he was talking about a movie he had seen, he was totally detached from it all. But the worst thing of all was that he told her he had gotten a vasectomy right after they were married. Cassie has wished and prayed constantly for a child all through her marriage; she couldn’t count the times her heart had swelled with excitement when she thought she might be pregnant, only to be dashed when she realized she wasn’t.
Then there were the visits to the fertility specialist; yes, she was perfectly able to conceive a child, the issue was with her husband. How cool he had been about it all! How sorry he was to break her heart like that; he just wasn’t sure whether he could accept adopting a child. He was sorry, yes he was sorry.
A sorry bastard she later realized but at the time all she knew was that her heart was broken, but she loved him and accepted his feelings. That was what you did, you stood by your spouse; the vows said for better or for worse didn’t they? So she stayed in the marriage and a few years later the final scene in it played out in Technicolor, blazing right before her eyes as he told of his infidelities with a careless shrug. Yes, he was addicted to other women he told her, but it was just who he was and no, he didn’t want counseling, he only wanted out of the marriage so he wouldn’t be inconvenienced any longer with having to make up stories and business trips to cover his tracks.
Cassie felt a waterfall’s worth of emotions hit her that day; pain, betrayal, anger, rage even, but she refused to be scared. Truthfully no one would have blamed her for that one the way no one blamed her for the others. It was her due they said; every single emotion that flowed through her she had earned. How do you go on when you have been living in a cocoon for 16 years she had wondered?
She hadn’t worked since their marriage. Walt was CEO of a very large financial institution; the largest in the mid-west in fact. He needed her to be his hostess for entertaining and to take care of the carefully contrived fairy tale life he had created for them. And it was truly a fairy tale she realized. But still, she didn’t know how to make a living on her own; she had studied business in college which is where she had met Walt, but that was years ago and she had no practical experience at it.
Walt settled $1.2 million dollars on her in the divorce. It was a shock and an outrage at the same time. She had no idea that they had that much money put away. He willingly gave it to her, she never asked for a dime from him. She even tried to turn it down because the less she had from him the better she would feel. The worst part was that it wasn’t even given out of guilt because he felt none; it was just a business transaction to him; she had been his partner for all those years and he looked at it as a buyout of property.
Sarah and her parents eventually talked her into keeping the money, so that she could build something for herself. She sold their home, which he had turned over to her as well and she sold it for another million and put the money in the bank – a different bank than the one he headed. She found a small house to buy and started building her new life; alone but not scared, determined but not bitter.
It took time to heal, but she fought like a tigress to do it, to make something of her new life. She regarded it like a second chance, an opportunity to create a world where she was one in charge. Even though the money seemed like a lot sitting in the bank she knew that it wasn’t really and that she needed to find a way to support herself and ensure a happy future. One night, over dinner with Sarah it occurred to them; that stroke of genius that would provide Cassie with her independence. That night they had set on the couch, listening to music as they talked; she still remembered the song that had made her see that she could do anything.
For too long I was weak
too weak to find my feet.
I tried to hold it all inside
so you’d never realize
for too long I believed
that you were good for me,
I closed my mind to other possibilities.
You tried to out my fire
maybe I was just too scared
and maybe what you’re looking for is gone
‘cause baby I, well people say I’ve changed
yes I don’t feel the same,
they say I have a glow
it’s all because you’re gone.
It’s Independence Day…
They had shared a bottle of wine that evening and while they both were maybe a tiny bit tipsy, they both new that the idea was perfect for her and certainly something she had been training for during her marriage to Walt. What Cassie had been doing for years was being the ultimate, tasteful hostess; she could design beautiful tablescapes and menus to match, regardless of what type of gathering was needed.
That was how An Affair to Remember was created, combining her deftness at designing the perfect party and social venues to fit a business or individuals needs. Her business caught on quickly and within a year she was the leading event planner and organizer in the Wichita area. An Affair to Remember grew and soon Cassie had a full staff of designers and expanded the business to include a catering facility as well so that she could ensure the quality and details of her menus.
As she laid there in the bed in the hospital room that night she knew that she wouldn’t have to worry about her business; Janine was more that capable of running it while she was gone, however long that might be. She had the best staff anyone could ever desire and that was a huge relief for Cassie. She knew that her mom would take care of Max, her Shih Tzu, whom Cassie regarded as her baby so that wasn’t something she needed to worry about either.
No, what she had to worry about was herself, but she was very much afraid of the complication that had arisen, namely Dr. Gorgeous. How could she concentrate on working to get better when all she could think of were his beautiful hazel eyes with the long sooty lashes that no man should be lucky enough to be blessed with?
His face was the last thing on her mind as she fell back asleep.
Words and Music to Gabrielle's Independence Day by Bobb, Louisa, Sharp and J. No copyright infringement intended.
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.