Friday, June 25, 2010

Chapter Six

Someday we’ll know…

Cassie was still thinking about the question that she had asked him; the one he hadn’t answered. Actually, it wasn’t really a question, only a comment but he hadn’t responded to it and that was driving her crazy. Outside of just coming straight out and asking point blank though she didn’t know how to get an answer and while she really wanted to know it probably wasn’t proper for her to ask him something so personal anyway.

Georgio, in turn was also thinking about what she had said about his wife. He knew that the prudent thing to do was to stay away from the subject but he didn’t really want to. He also couldn’t think of a single, non-personal way to bring it up again so he mentally shrugged it aside.

“So, you are a fan of N & J Caf…” he began.

“Have you ever been to N & J?” Cassie asked at the same moment.

They both laughed and started to speak again, which prompted more laughter. Georgio held his hand up and said, “You first!”

“Okay! You’re sure now?” she teased, watching his hazel eyes light up with mirth. At his silence she continued, “So, have you ever been to N & J?”

“Actually yes. It’s pretty good I think. But I’ve got an even better place I go to frequently.” He watched puzzlement glide across her face which was followed by a slight frown.

“Well, I love Byblos too and Bella Luna as well. Any place that serves Middle Eastern or Mediterranean food. So which place do you like best?”

“It’s called ‘Mom’s’,” he told her, watching her confused face as she tried to think of where that could be.

“I don’t know where that one is. Is it new?”

“No, it’s been around for many, many years! Okay Cassie, I’m teasing you, it’s literally my Mom’s house. She’s Greek!”

“Really?” Cassie asked excitedly. “Like really from Greece or just Greek heritage?”

“Really Greek; she was born there. She met my Dad during WWII and they got married. I’m the 10th of a long line of Greek Americans that they spawned!” he laughed.

“Spawned? That’s not a nice way to say it,” she said, slightly appalled.

He chuckled again and said, “You wouldn’t say that if you knew my family; it was like the salmon returning home every year, here would come another baby! Well, maybe not every single year but there sure are a lot of us and when you count grandkids too, well, you can tell they and my brothers and sisters have all been busy!”

“Wow, 10 kids! How many grandkids?” She wanted to ask him how many kids he had but refrained from the question.

“I don’t know if I should actually tell you! It’s completely embarrassing, my brothers and sisters are very prolific and twins run in the family too. But here goes, I have 37 nieces and nephews!”

“37? Holy cow! And how many did you add to the Greek/American gene pool?” As soon as the question was out of her lips she regretted it and wanted to sink under the covers. She hadn’t thought, sometimes things just tumbled out of her mouth that she had no intention of saying.

Georgio was quiet for a moment before answering; a quick flash of sadness washed over his face and Cassie felt even worse. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked that, it’s okay if you don’t answer,” she told him.

“No, its okay,” he told her, looking into her eyes. “I’m the black sheep of the family I guess; no kids. Which in some ways makes my Mom happy because I’m not married either. Her sturdy Greek philosophy wouldn’t know how to handle that, me with kids and no wife!”

“Uh, I’m uh, not sure what to say. I didn’t mean to pry,” she told him.

He closed his eyes for a moment, as if trying to gather his thoughts. Cassie watched as something fleeting passed across his face – pain, regret? She wasn’t sure but she knew that it was because of her big mouth and she felt terrible.

“I’m - well my wife died a few years ago. We never had kids; you know, you always think there will be time.”

“I spent 16 years wanting to have kids; my ex had a vasectomy right after we were married and didn’t bother to tell me until the divorce. I would have given anything to have had kids, you know?” A tear ran down her cheek, quickly followed by another. Georgio grabbed a tissue and gently wiped them away. She sniffed and then added, “Sarah’s kids, Lissa and Derek are the closest thing I’ve got and they are wonderful to me.”

“Is Lissa the young doctor to be?” he asked. They had seemed really close.

“Yes, she is. Her mother and I were in the accident together. We’ve been best friends for, well too many years – since kindergarten actually. I wouldn’t know what to do without her. She is going to be okay isn’t she?”

“I haven’t really checked on her, but I’ll be glad to for you okay? If it will help you to relax, I’ll be more than happy to actually.”

Cassie nodded and sniffled again but managed a smile. When he saw it Georgio’s heart missed a beat or two. He knew he would do whatever he needed to so that Cassie would smile for him.

“Thank you so much, I would really appreciate it; anything you can find out for me. She hasn’t regained consciousness yet and that worries me,” she told him.

“Is her daughter worried about it?” he asked.

“No, and that’s a good sign I guess.”

Just then there was a knock on the door and Derek poked his head in. “Hey Cassie, you still awake?” he asked and then backed away for a moment when he saw her doctor in the room with her.

“No Derek, come in. This is my doctor, Dr. Gorman. This is Sarah’s son Derek.”

The men shook hands and Derek said, “I don’t know if I feel sorry for you or not; she can be a handful!”

“I think I’m beginning to learn that. If she doesn’t behave though we’ll just tie her to the bed!”

“Ha ha,” Cassie quipped. “Hey, how’s your mom?”

“About the same. They took her down for another CT so we’ll find out how much the swelling is down. Adam is a mess though; geez Cassie, what the hell is he doing here anyway?”

Cassie laughed, a laugh that sounded more like a snort.

God, will I ever stop embarrassing myself in front of this man!

Georgio grinned at the sound, it was so funny hearing that loud sound out of such a small body and it delighted him. He also decided that perhaps Cassie and Derek needed a bit of time to chat about her mother so he made his excuses to leave and told Cassie he would see her in the morning.

“Going off to your bed down the hall?” she teased.

“Something like that,” he said with a laugh and a wave. “You behave, alright?” The smile that he wore on his face as he left the room wasn’t totally because she was doing so well – he had just found out that Adam Richland was involved with Sarah. It made him ridiculously happy.


The door closed behind him and Derek settled down into a chair to chat for a bit. He looked about 16 Cassie thought, all scrunched down in the chair with his shoulders slumped forward. She wanted to tell him to sit up straight but decided to refrain from that comment; there was no point in irritating him more that he would be after their talk.

“So you don’t like Adam, huh?” she asked. “Why?”

“I – I don’t know. The guy just rubs me the wrong way.”

“Okay,” she said slowly. “What in particular rubs you the wrong way?”

Derek recognized the tone in her voice; it was the tone she had used when he and Lissa were kids and she was trying to coax something out of them. That irritated him too, he was an adult and it was okay to have his own opinion. He shrugged and finally said, “I don’t know, he just came riding in here like the hero of the day. It just irritated me.”

“You mean he came here acting like a big shot movie star and tried to take over?” she prompted.

“Well, no. I mean he never did that. He just, uh, acted like it was okay for him to be here. What gave him the right?”

“Maybe the fact that he loves your mom and she loves him too?”

“Love, how the hell would they know? They just met two weeks ago!”

“Hm, let me see. I seem to recall a certain young man telling me he had just met the woman he was going to marry one summer at the baseball diamond. Took all of five minutes, maybe? Wouldn’t that be about right?” Cassie held out her hand to Derek and he took it and rubbed it softly for a moment. She watched his lips purse slightly as he thought about what she said.

“Cassie, that was different! That was just teenage hormones for heaven’s sake.”

“Do you still love Pam with all your heart?”

Derek nodded.

“And would it be fair to say that it really was love, even then?”

“Yeah, but I don’t know – this is my MOM I’m thinking about here. It should just be different, that’s all I’m saying.”

Cassie shook her head sadly for a moment at the notions of youth. Everyone thinks that love is only for the young, that a mature heart can’t possibly understand the desires and yearnings that the human heart and soul ache for. She knew that for a fact because she had felt that way exactly when she was his age. She would look at her parents sometimes and grimace as they shared a look or a caress in front of her. No one ever wants to believe that their parents had sexual feelings and desires, no way! And yeah, we were all found under cabbage leaves too! She laughed out loud at that thought.

“Derek, young or old, human beings still feel love, desire and a need for connection with someone else. Your mom is no different. When she and Adam met, they were lucky enough to feel that spark and so they began a friendship that turned into more. Kiddo, that just doesn’t happen that often at any age. You should be happy for your mom and you damn well better be supportive or Lissa and I will kick your ass! And I only say Lissa and I because I obviously need some help right now, but I won’t always so don’t forget it!”

“So the fact that he’s some famous movie star doesn’t make you wonder what he is up to? Honestly?”

“Do I find it strange that a gorgeous man finds your mother gorgeous? Hell no, she’s beautiful, intelligent and funny Derek. The only thing I would wonder about was if he didn’t!”

Derek was silent for a moment as he digested Cassie’s words. “I’ll try Cassie, but honestly I it just doesn’t seem, I don’t know, right I guess.”

“Are you afraid he’s going to take her away?”

“No, not exactly. But will he change her?”

“Does love change anybody Derek? Are you the same person you were before Pam came along?”

“No, I guess not. You don’t suppose she’ll go all Hollywood do you?” He made a face when he said those words and Cassie laughed again. If nothing else, this was an entertaining chat.

“God I hope so! I’d love to visit Hollywood and live like the stars!” She watched Derek blanch at her words and quickly added, “C’mon Derek, I’m teasing!”

He finally laughed and she knew that she had him; he would eventually be okay about it all. Derek would think about it and it would be okay, he was just like Sarah in that; they both needed time to digest something new.

“Okay then! Now get the heck out of here Grover, I need some sleep!”

Derek got up and kissed her cheek and said, “Thanks Cassie. For everything…”

“Yeah, yeah. I know. See you later, okay?”

A minute later the door closed and Cassie closed her eyes. She had forgotten to ask Derek to shut the light off but she didn’t doubt for a moment that a nurse would soon be along to torture her in some way so she just laid there and listened to the hospital sounds outside her door.

It was really fairly quiet, for a hospital she thought. A few years ago her uncle had had a heart attack and was in the CCU. It was terribly noisy in there she thought, so many sounds; people and machines can make quite a racket she discovered.

Her nose started itching and though she knew she wasn’t supposed to lift her arm to scratch it, instinct took over and before she knew it she had scratched the offending itch. It was the most she had moved in days and she felt like a kid, sneaking a peek at her Christmas presents when no one was around!

This was the first time that she had been able to think about the new feelings in her legs. It’s amazing how we take our bodies for granted she thought. A week ago she would never have imagined how happy she could feel just because she felt a bit of pressure on her knee. Cassie had always been active, ever since she was a kid. She and Sarah had played ball together as teenagers and she had been the assistant coach of Lissa’s team with Sarah.

A couple of years ago they had taken an early morning exercise class. Each morning they would do a different exercise like Jazzercise one morning and resistance training the next. One day the instructor had everyone in the class grab one of the large exercise balls to work out with. Sarah had been so paranoid that when she sat on it she would make it burst. The ball had held out and a few days later when they were going to do the balls again Cassie noticed Sarah looking at them carefully before choosing one.

“What’s up?” Cassie had asked as she watched Sarah.

“I’m making sure I don’t get the same ball as last time!”


“Because I’m scared I weakened it too much the other day. I saw a piece on a news magazine the other day about how these things get weak and blow out!”

Cassie giggled and handed Sarah a yellow ball. “Here, the one you had the other day was red, so take it! But honestly Sarah, that’s not going to happen!”

Sarah was always so self-conscious about her weight, which Cass found ridiculous. Sarah was beautiful but she always worried that her size 14 body was ugly and undesirable. Quite the opposite was true actually, she looked wonderful but she never thought so.

Cassie was a size 2 and no matter what she never gained any weight. She knew that Sarah compared the two of them and Cass hated that. They were each unique and there was absolutely no reason for comparison. But sometimes human nature didn’t pay attention to those kinds of things Cassie thought sadly.

Cassie couldn’t wait to see Sarah and Adam together. She knew they would make a beautiful couple. He had really seemed like a nice guy Cassie thought; she sincerely hoped that things went well for them.

She was still thinking about that when the night shift nurse came into check on her.

“How you doing sweetie?” she asked. “Do you need anything? Water or a snack?” She noticed the box of Cero’s chocolates on the tray table and grinned. “I guess you have the snacks covered!”

“A little bit of water would be nice, thanks. Oh, and would you mind putting a CD in for me please? A little music would help me to get to sleep!”

“Sure, be glad to.” She started looking through Cassie’s collection of CD’s and remarked, “Nickleback? Tim McGraw? Vivaldi? That’s quite an eclectic selection. Any preference?”

“Hm,” Cassie pondered. “How about one of the old Motown ones? Or, I know! The Drifters! Put that on please!”

“You got it!” She popped the CD into the player and adjusted the sound for Cassie. “How’s that? It is good?”

Cassie nodded her head and smiled. The strains of Under the Boardwalk serenaded her pleasantly; she knew that it would help to lull her to sleep.

“Oh, one more thing? Can you please turn the light off?”

“Sure. Now, you just call if you need anything else, okay?”

How about a gorgeous doctor to come and make me laugh again? Oh well…

“Okay, I’ll let you know. Good night!”

The door closed quietly and Cassie settled down to sleep. She wondered what tomorrow would bring.

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, June 11, 2010

Chapter Five

Baby Steps...

Adam, Lissa and Cassie continued their visit until Dr. Gorman came in on his afternoon rounds. Lissa watched with interest as Cassie’s face first lit up with excitement when she saw him; it was quickly followed by a slow flush and she tried to turn her head slightly to hide it.

Very curious Lissa thought. She watched Dr. Gorman carefully to see how he handled it and was amused by his reaction to Cassie. For a half of a moment his face lit up as well, but it was quickly composed as he made himself busy looking at the chart and the monitors. His manner was totally professional, not even a hint of personal interest; however Lissa was sure of what she saw.

Dr. Gorman and Adam were introduced and if Georgio recognized him he gave no indication of it. For Lissa’s part, this was all turning out to be pretty interesting; her mother and a movie star, Cassie and her doctor. Yes, Lissa decided, very interesting indeed.

Dr. Gorman did a couple of tactile tests on Cassie’s legs and it broke Lissa’s heart to see no reaction when the doctor got no response to a reflexivity test. Granted it was only two days after the accident but Lissa could still hope that there would be some reaction by now. She sighed – like her mother this situation would just take time.

Not seeming discouraged at all Dr. Gorman made notes in Cassie’s chart and left the room. Cassie followed him as far as she could with her eyes and when her green eyes met Lissa’s hazel ones she ducked her head in embarrassment, ashamed to have been caught.

Lissa only smiled at Cassie; in one respect she didn’t blame her at all. Dr. Gorman was a very fine looking man and he had an awesome reputation; Lissa knew that Cassie’s doctor was the very best. Hero-worship was not uncommon in these situations; they were warned about it often in class, she could only hope that Cassie would be okay.

Cassie was uncharacteristically quiet when Dr. Gorman left; Lissa decided to try and cheer her up a bit and started telling her about her grandparent’s reaction to Adam, which made them all smile. Adam seriously did have the most charming dimples and he also knew very well how to use them to disarm people. Still Cassie and Lissa both watched him and realized that with them there was nothing phony going on, he was just Adam, a guy who was obviously crazy about Sarah. That was a comforting thought to both of the women.


As Georgio left Cassie’s room he wondered about Adam Richland being there. Yes, he had recognized him immediately and even for half a moment, if he were to be honest with himself, well, he would have to admit to a tiny pang of jealousy.

How on earth did she know him, he wondered? She seemed relaxed with him there, which could only denote a comfortable relationship. So, she knew him somehow and maybe they were dating? Georgio wouldn’t blame Adam a bit, Cassie was beautiful, funny, smart and he’d bet the farm that she was grace itself when she moved. It was his business to know these things about patients, how they moved and he could always tell when someone had a natural grace.

See Georgio, another reason to just be her doctor, you can’t possibly compete with Adam Richland.

Not that he was ever even thinking of being anything but her doctor he acknowledged, but this just made it even clearer. A tiny part of him wondered if Adam could possibly be a family member or something like that, but that seemed unlikely and he dismissed it as soon as he thought of it. No, he was obviously not a family member so he must be interested in her.

Lucky guy…

He hoped for, wished that would bring him some comfort because he knew that caring support increased someone’s chances of recovery by almost double. So that was what was best for Cassie. Now if only he could accept it.


Later, when Lissa and Adam had left her room, after Lissa had made a promise of smuggling in more ‘contraband’ later, Cassie settled in to rest for a bit. Lissa had put a CD into the machine and Cassie listened to the soothing sounds of the soundtrack to the movie Moll Flanders. She closed her eyes and was swept away by the beauty of the music; graceful and dramatic, much like a certain doctor she knew.

Had Cassie had any idea of the thoughts that Georgio was having about Adam she would have been amused and probably a whole lot more hopeful. Her instinct told her that even though he was hiding it well, he was interested in her, the same as she was in him. She still needed to remind herself that there were barriers, for very good reasons but she also knew that there wouldn’t always be. It was only a matter of time, and time had a tendency of slipping past very quickly.

She turned her thoughts to Adam Richland and she realized that she liked him a lot. He was perfect for Sarah, even if she didn’t realize it yet and knowing Sarah even if she did she wouldn’t easily admit it. Yes, she had told Cass that she thought she loved him, but it was a scared and reluctant admission and that was a far cry from truly accepting him into her life. Adam seemed a bit like an immovable object though; his love and devotion to Sarah were very clear, Cassie only hoped that he had stamina as well because he was surely going to need it!

After a short nap she was awakened by her parents and her dinner tray. She was happy to see her mom and dad, not so much about the tray. She sniffed the air, trying to find something delectable or even encouraging in the steam rising from the food but sadly, there were none.

Baked chicken, roasted potatoes, green beans and custard were on the menu and Cass did her very best to eat it all. Actually, the custard wasn’t too bad; really none of it was terrible, but mostly just bland and uninspiring.

Cassie’s business often times catered large affairs; she knew what it took to make food not only a feast for the eyes, but for the mouth as well. This food was purely utilitarian, made to nourish a body through recovery but it did nothing for the soul.

Cassie’s mom carefully brushed her hair for her; Cassie wanted it washed but there wasn’t anything they could do about that yet. Still, her mom swept the brush through it lovingly and it felt good, relaxing. Next she washed Cassie’s face and neck with a warm washcloth and then applied moisturizer liberally all over them. Cassie could feel her skin drinking in the cream and she relished the feeling of her skin not feeling quite so tight.

“Shortcake, would you like me to do your arms and legs too?” Alice asked and at Cassie’s nod she went to work, gently massaging in the lotion.

When Alice was working on Cassie’s legs she thought for a moment she felt a bit of pressure as Alice’s hands glided over her knees. She closed her eyes for a moment and held her breath; yes, she was positive she felt something!

“Mom, I can feel your hands – well, sort of anyway, on, on my knees. Really,” she said when she noticed the skeptical look her mother wore.

“What do you feel Cassie?” he dad asked, wanting to hope but almost afraid to.

“I, like, um, pressure I guess. I can’t feel anything specific, just that something is touching them. Weird…”

Ed Banks’ heart leapt in his chest and he reached to call the nurse in. This was good, this was better than good and he wanted to shout it down the hallway. After an eternity that actually only lasted 2 minutes the nurse finally answered the call.

“Yes, I uh, I can feel pressure on my legs,” Cassie said into the speaker that was built into the side of the bed. She had tears running down her cheeks and her mom reached over and dabbed them away with a tissue; then she wiped away her own.

“Hold on, we’ll be right there,” the nurse told her.

A minute later her nurse and the attending physician came into the room, ready to question Cassie and see for themselves what was going on.

Her nurse this night was Paula, a middle-aged grandmotherly type and she was wearing a smile a mile wide as she lightly touched Cassie’s hand.

The doctor was a young female who introduced herself as Dr. Karlen, who was covering the floor this evening. “So, Ms. Banks, tell me what you felt?” she asked as she prepared to make notes in the chart.

“Well, my mom was rubbing lotion onto my arms and legs and I realized I could feel, uh, pressure I guess is the best way to describe it. Not like I could feel fingers exactly, but more like something just being on my knees. It was weird.”

Dr. Karlen smiled and nodded her head. “That’s a great start, just what we want to hear. Paula, please page Dr. Gorman and let him know while I examine her,” she instructed.

“Alright now Ms. Banks, let’s see what you can feel. I want you to close your eyes and tell me when you can feel something, okay?”

“Okay, but there is a condition; please, just call me Cassie. I’d be so much more comfortable,” she said.

“Okay Cassie. Now, close those eyes!”

Dr. Karlen lightly touched Cassie’s thigh and got no reaction so she pressed a bit harder and Cassie broke into a smile and practically yelled, “Yes, I feel something!” Her eyes popped open and she grinned, again blinking back tears.

“Terrific Cassie, but we’re not done. Close your eyes again.”

This time she used a probe and stroked it down Cassie’s leg with a light, but firm pressure and Cassie let out a sob and said, “Yes, yes! I feel it, like a, uh, I don’t know like a pencil or something running down my leg!”

“Good girl! You are doing wonderfully well Cassie. This is very quick, just keep on following orders and you’ll be moving around soon.”

“Dr. Gorman is on his way up. He had an emergency surgery earlier and was still in the hospital. He should be here in a minute or so,” Paula told them.

Cassie wanted to yell yippee, but whether because she could feel something or the fact that Dr. Gorman was coming in she didn’t know and she wasn’t going to analyze; she was just happy. A moment later he strode into her room, his face wearing an excited smile.

The first thing he did was to touch her hand and give it a gentle squeeze; he then self-consciously let it go since there were so many other people in the room. He then took the chart and looked it over and questioned Dr. Karlen. As if he wasn’t satisfied without testing her himself he did the tests all over again and he felt his heart leap with joy at the results. He made a few more notes on the chart before turning his attention back to Cassie.

“This is wonderful Ms. Banks; you are experiencing tactile reaction much sooner than I expected. This is very exciting!”

“You’re telling me something I didn’t know?” she teased and watched his face light up at her words.

Both doctor’s explained what this meant to Cassie and her mom and dad, how this was the first step, and an important one in her recovery. Each step would be a victory and both doctors were sure that she would make a full recovery. The medical staff left a short while later and so did Cassie’s parents; Cassie was glad really, she wanted to think about what had happened and revel in it. She was also pretty tired and knew she would fall asleep easily since for the first time she was feeling like she truly would recover.

Right before she fell asleep Lissa stopped by with a treat, some chocolates from Cero’s Candies. Lissa popped a maple crème chocolate into Cassie’s mouth and she chewed slowly, savoring every single second.

“Ah heavens, this is fabulous Lissa, thanks so much! A perfect ending to an exciting evening. What else you got there?”

Lissa looked over the box and picked out a chocolate caramel and held it up for Cass to take a bite of. “So, what has been so exciting this evening?” she asked.

“I can feel some sensation on my legs Lissa! Mom was rubbing lotion on them and I could feel it, well, pressure anyway. Lissa, I’m going to be okay,” she said and the tears started flowing again.

“Oh My God! Cassie, that is the best news!” She gave Cassie the other part of the caramel and said, “Wow, you are moving along really quickly, this is great.”

Cassie swallowed the last bit of candy down and agreed, “Yes it is. It’s only a bit of pressure right now, but hopefully soon it will be more!”

“But it’s a start, and that is what is important. What does your doctor say? Does he know?”

“Yes, he certainly does,” Georgio said as he entered the room and heard the last few words. “It is a wonderful beginning!”

Cassie again blushed as he came towards the bed, but she managed to quip, “Do you actually live here or something? I mean, you are always here at this hospital Dr. Gorman. Your wife must feel neglected!”

Georgio took in the teasing sparkle in Cassie’s eyes and responded, “Yes, I actually have a room, just down the hall! I have to keep my eye on you, you know!”

Cassie swallowed hard at those words; they made her feel oddly comforted and safe even though she knew that they weren’t true. She wondered if he had a wife; he didn’t wear a ring, but he didn’t say he didn’t have one when she teased him. She frowned for a moment, really starting to wonder. Frankly, it hadn’t occurred to her before that he might actually be married; it was a sobering thought.

Georgio watched a sudden frown sweep across his patients face and wondered what brought that about. He looked around the room, a bit uncomfortable and spied the small box of Cero’s chocolates on the tray table. A gift from Adam Richland he wondered?

“So you have a sweet tooth, huh?” he said, trying to hide his feelings with the question. “And Cero’s – your gift giver certainly has good taste!”

“Yes, she does! And again Lissa, thank you so much. If I had to exist only on the food they serve here I’d be a goner!”

So the candy wasn’t from Richland Georgio thought with satisfaction. He mentally nodded his approval at that. He felt ridiculously relieved and that disturbed him too.

Lissa bent over and kissed Cassie on the forehead, in preparation to leave. “Hey, I spend enough time in hospitals to understand about the food Cass. What would you like tomorrow?”

Georgio’s ears perked up at Lissa’s words and he had to ask, “Do you work in a hospital?”

“Well, in a manner of speaking. I’m a med student at KU. So hopefully one day I’ll have my own bed in the hospital too!”

Georgio laughed and nodded as Cassie said, “Hm, tomorrow I’d like some hummus and pita from N & J please! Lots of it!”

“Okay, N & J it is! I’ll see you tomorrow Cassie. Bye”

Silence fell over the room and the two occupants and Georgio cleared his throat, tying to think of something to say. Well, that wasn’t strictly true, he had lots to say but he was looking for a safe subject to discuss because he didn’t really want to leave just yet.

“So, you like Mediterranean food?” he asked.

“Love it. And now I have something else to look forward to tomorrow!”

“What else will you look forward to?” he asked and found that he waited expectantly for her answer.

For you, for you to walk into my room with that smile! What she actually said was, “Waking up, being another day closer to walking again.”

He liked her answer, but his heart also sunk for a moment. Every day she grows better was one less day that I will have her in my life. What he actually said was, “That’s a great perspective Ms. Banks.”

“Dr. Gorman, I uh, have a request.”

“What is that Ms. Banks?”

“Well, it’s the ‘Ms. Banks’ thing. Can you possibly call me Cassie? It would help me to relax a bit. Right now it all seems so, I don’t know, formal and restrained. Really, it would help me.”

Georgio’s heart stopped for a moment and then beat wildly the next. He drew in a sharp breath; these were words he had ached to hear, had dreaded to hear.

He took her hand again and looked her in the eyes and said, “Of course Cassie. Whatever will help you.”

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, June 4, 2010

Chapter Four


At 6:45 Cassie heard the door to her room open and footsteps heading over to her bed. She groaned and mumbled, “Oh God, don’t you people ever let a person just rest?”

“No. That’s another course from med school, ‘Waking Patients, 101’. I got an ‘A’ in it, maybe I should leave the room and try it again, see if I can get it right?” Georgio teased.

Cassie opened one eye and saw Dr. Gorman standing next to her holding her chart. He was dressed in the green scrubs again and she felt a momentary tingle, well in a spot that didn’t do her any good right now. She quickly closed her eye and wished for some sand that she could bury her head in.

God, I must look horrible!

The thought swept through her mind spreading panic as she realized that there was not one single thing she could do to help herself right now.

“Ms. Banks?” Dr. Gorman said, frowning. “Ms. Banks, I need you to wake up now so I can examine you.”

Cassie reluctantly opened her eyes and tried to smile, hoping he would take her embarrassment as early morning grogginess.

“Good morning Dr. Gorman,” she managed.

“How did you rest last night? Get any sleep?”

Deidra came in then and apologized for being detained. “How are you feeling Cassie?” she asked, fussing with the blankets that were covering Cassie. She lifted them away to check the catheter bag and commented that they needed to change it soon. Cassie wanted to melt into the bed at that comment. It was bad enough to be trapped in this bed but to have to deal with the indignity of that bag was just about too much. It couldn’t get much worse she decided.

“I’m sure you’d like a nice sponge bath too, wouldn’t you?” Deidra asked, in a soft voice like you would use for a child.

Cassie then realized that it had indeed gotten worse. She bit her lip to try to hold back the tears of humiliation she felt stinging her eyes, as rapid blush swept up over her face. She opened her mouth to answer and found that nothing would come out, not a single word.

Georgio saw her embarrassment and quickly turned away, to give her a moment to recover her composure. He understood how difficult this situation was, he’d seen it so many times, but seeing this woman struggle like this really bothered him. He eyed her chart again and took in the readouts on the monitors in the room. All in all, Ms. Banks was doing remarkably well.

“Ms. Banks, you are doing really well; your vital signs couldn’t be better and I have to tell you, you’ve done a great job of following orders so far.” He gently touched her hand for a moment and told her, “You are going to be just fine, just hang in here with me.”

For a moment her warm finger’s curled slightly as she felt his hand touch hers. She wanted so badly to curl them around his own, but she knew she couldn’t, shouldn’t. A lump rose in her throat as his words sank in, whether it was because he was reassuring her that she would be okay or whether it was because she knew that she would hang anywhere he was she didn’t know and tried to not analyze, but she was here now so these were the cards she had to play.

Cassie knew there had to be some sort of rule about doctors and patients; she even hoped there were really, but it didn’t stop her from wishing for something beyond her reach. She would just have to protect herself and her heart the best that she could.

Dr. Gorman and Deidra prepared to leave her room after finishing the exam. Deidra told her that another nurse would be coming on duty soon and would bring her some breakfast. Cassie nodded solemnly and watched her leave. Dr. Gorman stood for a moment longer, watching his patient, just out of her range of sight; he saw her bite her lower lip, a determined look on her face and wondered for a moment what it was about. If it were possible, he would give her his own strength to help her heal as fast as possible; it might be the only way either one of them survived this.


After Cassie finished her breakfast, which was brought in by Elsie the new nurse she was given a bath. Yes, it was humiliating, but it still felt really great to be clean again. She watched with as much detachment as she could muster as the removed the wedge that her legs rested on to ease the pressure on her back. She told herself that she could feel their hands on her, feel her legs being lifted down off of the wedge and laid down on the bed, but her heart knew that wasn’t so. She told herself that it was only a matter of time before she did feel it and knew that she would look forward to this time every single day as a measure of where her recovery was. It would be like a game she played with herself; she could place bets to see when she really did feel it she decided. She knew that one day, hopefully soon, she would feel it because she trusted Dr. Gorgeous and he had told her she would be fine.

She managed to sleep for another hour before her parents came back to see her. They brought a few things from her home, hoping that they would help Cassie to feel more comfortable here. They brought some of her personal night clothes, not knowing for sure if she could use them yet and a few DVD’s that she could watch in the player that was built into the TV. They also brought her flowers and her boom box and CD’s. Granted, someone would have to put them in for her, but she was grateful all the same. They stayed for an hour or so and left when they saw that she was fighting to stay awake, telling her they had to run some errands and would be back later.

Cassie yawned and joked, “They seem to have a thing about letting you sleep in hospitals. I swear, every time I dropped off during the night they came in to see how I was!”

“Well, rest now shortcake and we’ll see you later. Is there anything else you can think of that you would like us to bring you?” her mom asked, kissing Cassie on the forehead.

“Um, a margarita? Don’t forget lots of salt on the rim!”

Her mom looked shocked for a moment but her dad only laughed. As long as she could still joke he knew she would be fine.


Her next visitor came just before one. Cass had managed to sleep for a couple of hours undisturbed and felt so much better. She didn’t even grumble much when they brought in her lunch, although she was finding it very tedious eating while she was flat on her back. Still, she was hungry and so she ate because if she ate she would build her strength and that would be good for her recovery.

Lissa came in quietly, checking to see if Cassie was awake. Her face broke into a grin when she saw Cassie watching her.

“Hey Cassie, got any room left after your gourmet lunch for some contraband?” Lissa pulled a pint of ice cream out of her bag and held it up where Cassie could see it.

“Ooh, is that Chocolate Mint Chip I see you have there? Gimme, gimme, GIMME!”

“You’re sure you really want it? I mean, I could just put it away if you don’t,” Lissa laughed as she tugged the lid off of the cardboard container. She quickly produced a spoon and dug it into the ice cream and brought it to Cassie’s waiting mouth.

“Oh my God, that is the best! Thanks Lissa, just what I needed!” She licked her lips and then waited expectantly for the next creamy mouthful. “Um, how is your mom? Is she awake yet?”

“No, not yet, the swelling isn’t down enough yet. Hopefully soon,” Lissa told her.

Cassie nodded slightly and then grimaced, remembering she wasn’t supposed to move. “She is going to be okay, right?”

Lissa nodded and smiled, “Yeah, she is. She has a 3 and ½ inch fractured skull; it’s going to take a couple of days.”

“I guess her head isn’t as hard as we always said it was, huh?” Cassie mumbled as she took another bite.

Lissa laughed at the way Cassie’s eyes were sparkling as she said that, it had long been a joke in the family about how overly stubborn Sarah could be. “I guess not! Oh, and speaking of guesses I’ll give you 3 to guess who left several messages on mom’s answering machine!”

Cassie sputtered in mid-swallow and coughed for a moment, tears leaking out of the corner of her eye. “No kidding? He really called? What did he say?”

Lissa wiped at the tears before saying “Yep, he did. First call just said that he was afraid he had missed her call and that he hoped that she was okay and to call him back. The second call came this morning and was more concerned. He said, well he wasn’t exactly freaking out, but he said he wanted her to call him, even if she didn’t want to see him anymore, just call and let him know she was okay.”

“Did you talk to him?”

“No, I was in the shower and Derek was already here. What should I do?”

“I hate to alarm him, but I also hate to make him worry. I guess see if he calls back and then just talk to him, okay?”

“He sounded really worried Cassie. What did mom say about him? Do you think she loves him? I mean, this is mom we’re talking about here, she never gets so, so involved I guess is the right word.”

“I think she might. She was really shook up about him in the trip from the airport. Now it sounds like he is crazy about her too.” Cassie smiled and closed her eyes for a moment, thinking about the conversation in the car before continuing. “She told me she thought maybe she loved him, that he knew all about her and her issues and he still cared about her. A lot happened over there Lissa, a LOT!”

She nodded as she digested Cassie’s words, her teeth worrying her bottom lip, a habit she had had from childhood. “Well, at least we know that he didn’t plan on ditching her, that’s something. But seriously Cassie, what does a movie star like Adam Richland do with a Kansas girl? I mean, mom is wonderful, beautiful and smart and funny, but get real. Her life revolves around her job and family, not some Hollywood lifestyle that is spread across the pages of every trashy scandal rag that is out there. How could this possibly have any interest for him?”

“Don’t know kiddo, but I sincerely hope he won’t let her down.”


The rest of Cassie’s day was spent quietly. More family visits (she counted Sarah’s family as he own) and more time to rest which of course gave her too much time to think – mainly about Dr. Gorgeous.

Since her divorce Cassie had felt the need to love someone, and be loved in return. She hungered for it, ached for it but it never quite happened. With each relationship she had been in and there had been a few, she tried to convince herself that she loved them. Sometimes it was almost an internal mantra that repeated incessantly through her brain, ‘I love him, I love him, I love him’, and yet she never did really. Was it a trust issue or was it just that they weren’t the right one? She didn’t know but it never happened.

The psychologists said you had to be open to love for it to come your way; Cassie felt like that was a load of crap. How much more open could she be? She’d welcome it, usher it in with open arms if it would only happen; that mystery spark that sings through your soul. She did want it, was ready for it so where had it been?

Now she worried that the one she might actually be able to fall for was the one that she never could have. She must be an idiot, a fool that the Gods toyed with, to bring such a man into her life in these circumstances! She tried to put him out of her mind, focus on something else, anything else but his face, his eyes, his smile that haunted her. She wanted to run away, but the Gods had made sure that wasn’t an option.


Georgio had managed to get through his day fairly well, with only the occasional thought of Cassie. Ms. Banks he told himself, over and over again. But those lovely green eyes seemed to scream to him that she was Cassie, not Ms. Banks.

It was almost like he knew her, that some part of him had recognized her and yet he knew perfectly well that they had never met before. He would certainly have remembered her, he knew. Georgio was very grounded man; he didn’t believe in fate or chance, he believed in reality. We make our own destiny by thought and careful contemplation of circumstances, through action, not by sitting around and waiting for something to happen, he knew that to be the truth, or at least his truth.

Yet, it was fate that had brought Cassie into his life but it was also fate that would keep them apart. He took his oath as a physician very seriously, to do no harm and there was no way he could get involved with a patient and do no harm. Patients were often very vulnerable and feelings can easily be misinterpreted. It is easy to somehow see your doctor as a kind of hero, but those weren’t real or lasting feelings; when the patient recovers those feelings just melt away. If he were to enter into a relationship with a patient he could easily cause them more pain by becoming emotionally involved with them, not to mention that those feelings could cloud his judgment and that would certainly be detrimental to recovery. So he had to keep a distance, a buffer zone around himself and Cassie – Ms. Banks. He simply had to.


The next morning in Sarah’s room Lissa and Derek were watching their mother as she lay pale and unconscious on the bed. Derek was very worried about her, convinced she should be awake by now, but Lissa was more complacent about it; she knew her mom would wake up when the swelling went down enough. The latest tests showed that it was going down, just not quickly enough for Derek’s or his grandparents wishes.

There was a knock on the door and then it softly opened. The man standing there looked unsure of his welcome but he entered the room anyway and Lissa could see the tears that sprang to his eyes when he caught sight of Sarah lying in the bed. That was all Lissa needed to see; the love he felt for her mother was very clear and she got up and went to him, welcoming him into the room.


Two hours later Lissa and Adam walked the halls towards Cassie’s room. Adam was anxious to meet her since he had heard so much about her from Sarah. “Are you sure she won’t mind me coming to meet her?” he asked Lissa.

Lissa laughed and said, “She’d shoot us if we didn’t bring you to meet her Adam. Cassie likes to be, um, involved!”

Adam smiled and despite his tiredness it spread across his whole face. And he was tired, weary in fact. Things had gone much better with Sarah’s children than he had thought they would, mostly due to this woman he was going to meet. Cassie had told Lissa and Derek about him and Sarah and that had saved a lot of anticipated explanations.

It had scared him to death when he couldn’t reach Sarah after she got home. At first he had been outraged, thinking that she was going to just walk away from him, despite her promises. As he thought about it though the more convinced he became that something was wrong; his gut was twisted with worry and all his internal alarms went off after he had landed in Los Angeles and she still hadn’t contacted him.

Sunni had eventually come to his rescue by providing details on the accident and he wasted no time in getting here, to be with Sarah. His heart almost stopped when he saw her lying there in that hospital bed, so pale and all bandaged up. At that moment nothing or no one could have kept him away from her and thank heavens no one had tried.

They stopped at a door in a long sterile hallway that had many other identical doors. Lissa softly knocked and then pushed the door open to peek in. When she saw that Cassie was alone she called out to her and told her she had a visitor.

“Well for goodness sakes Lissa, bring them in! Do you think I have nothing better to do than to lay around her all da…” and her mouth fell open as she saw who Lissa had with her.

“Holy cow! You are real!” she said, the words rushing out of her astonished mouth.

“I should hope so, wouldn’t want to be a figment of anyone’s imagination! How do you do Cassie, I’m Adam Richland.” He smiled at her, brown eyes twinkling merrily and two wonderful dimples adding to his appeal.

Lissa stood there, looking from Adam to Cassie and giggled. She knew how Cassie felt. If someone thought that Adam was good looking on the movie screen it was nothing like his pure magnetism in real life. Lissa watched Cassie swallow hard, twice and then lick her lips. Lissa knew she was trying to think of an answer to Adam, but she was apparently speechless.

“Adam,” she said, coming to Cassie’s rescue. “This is Cassie Banks, mom’s life-long friend.”

Adam touched Cassie’s hand briefly before saying, “Cassie, it is my pleasure to meet you. I must admit I feel quite as if I already know you because Sarah talked about you a great deal.”

“Um, yeah, she talked about you too, but I must admit I’m still speechless. I’m also glad you are here Adam. I would have hated to have to send a hit man out after you if you hadn’t shown up.” She grinned wickedly as she spoke; she was joking to a certain degree but still she was glad that he hadn’t let Sarah down.

Adam loved the way her grass-green eyes sparkled when she talked and the impish grin that warmed her face. She was exactly the way Sarah described her and Adam knew that they were going to get along well.

“You know Cassie, I played a hit man in a movie once…” and they all laughed.

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.

***So sorry for the delay everyone.  I've been gone and usually I have the stories set up and scheduled to post but in my anxiousness to get the heck out of dodge I over-looked the fact that I hadn't set them up properly.  I apologize and thank you for your patience!