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!