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?”
“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.