Thursday, July 29, 2010

This Weeks Post

So sorry everyone!  Having technical difficulties with my computer due to a storm!  G man is on the job and I should have the computer back this weekend, but this weeks post will not be posted until then.  So sorry for the problem!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chapter Ten

The light at the end of the tunnel…

Georgio left the hospital feeling exhilarated that night; it had been a good day – the best of days in fact. He had performed two very successful surgeries today and then there was the even happier news that Cassie was healing better than expected. She had sat up in the bed today and it was almost a week earlier than Georgio had thought possible. This was fantastic for Cassie; she tried so hard to do exactly as she was instructed, following even the most exacting orders when it was clearly so difficult for her. She was an active person in her normal life; lying in a bed inactive for so long tries anyone’s patience, but she handled it with grace and often time’s humor.

He was trying so hard to keep focused on the positive effects for Cassie but if he were to be honest with himself he knew that on a personal note, he was thrilled. The sooner she got to go to the rehab hospital for physical therapy the sooner he could officially withdraw as her doctor; the sooner he could see what was between them. He didn’t doubt that there was something there. He knew without a doubt that there was. . Georgio had excellent instincts; he had to have to be the intuitive doctor that he was and his instinct told him that Cassie was supposed to be in his life and not just as a patient.

As he started his car the ‘80’s station he listened to was playing Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf. He immediately started singing along with it, laughing out loud when the song was done. He remembered the video to that song; the boys in the band running through the jungle. Man, those were good times he remembered; school and friends, so many good times. Yeah, he had studied hard, but he did occasionally bust loose and just hang out. Now, even all these years later he couldn’t shake the 80’s music; it was forever woven into his life and was what he listened to most of the time.

After the commercials and a couple minutes of talk by the DJ the next song came on and it almost stopped him in his tracks.  He listerned as Steve Perry sang:

I need a love that’s strong
I’m so tired of being alone,
But will my lonely heart,
Play the part
of the fool again,
Before I begin?

Foolish heart
Hear my callin’
Stop before
I start fallin’

Foolish heart
Heed my warning
You’ve been wrong before
Don’t be wrong anymore

The song was still playing when he pulled into his driveway and then the garage. He shut the car off and listened, his head resting against the headrest. Was it a message? He didn’t know; what he did know was that it was too late. His heart was already falling.


As Patty, the night nurse finished taking Cassie’s vitals they chatted for a moment about Cassie’s day. She was still so excited, but she was also worn out. She asked Patty if she would turn on the radio that was built into the CD player.

Patty went to it, looking at it for a moment to figure it out. Cassie said to her, “You see that button on the top far right?” Patty nodded and Cass continued, “If you just press that down the music will play for an hour and then stop. That should get me to sleep.”

“Sure Cassie. Is that all you need?”

Cass nodded and smiled, closing her eyes as she listened to a commercial for a local restaurant. She waved at Patty, who left, turning the light out and shutting the door behind her.

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea Cassie thought, all this is doing was making her hungry! Hell, she was permanently hungry, for anything but this hospital food, she laughed.

The first few notes of the next song started playing and Cassie smiled as memories flooded back over her. Steve Perry started singing Foolish Heart and as she listened she also sang along. It was one of her favorites; it had always been in fact. This time though the thoughts it inspired had little to do with the past as she sang; they were about a certain doctor and while she knew it wasn’t safe to let herself get to carried away with the fantasy she couldn’t help herself. She was falling for him, she knew it.


Georgio went into his house and tossed his keys on the table in the kitchen as he loosened his tie. He enjoyed teaching med students, but he hated having to do it in a suit and he really didn’t see the point. But, the hospital required it and so he did it but he couldn’t get out of it quickly enough.

The jacket came off next, then the slacks. He laid them both over the chair since they would have to go to the cleaners. At the last moment he remembered to empty his pockets, he might actually need his wallet tomorrow he decided. Shoes in the closet, the rest in the laundry basket in the dressing room. After a quick shower, he dried off, pulled on some sweats and padded into the kitchen to find something to eat. When he opened the fridge he spied a covered plate waiting for him and he grinned; his mother had been here. He pulled it out and lifted the plastic and saw a plate of moussaka waiting for him to heat. He popped it into the microwave and then pushed a button on the answering machine to listen to his messages.

“Georgie, this is your mother.” He smiled as he heard her voice; she never believed that he would recognize her voice so she always identified herself. He listened as she continued. “I left you some moussaka to eat in the refrigerator. You need to heat it for 2 minutes, not 2 and ½ half, that will be too long and you’ll burn your mouth.” She took a breath and continued, “You must come to dinner on Saturday night, your sister Reni is here from Athens so we will have a family dinner. Come as early as you can. Call me, I never hear from you!”

The microwave chimed just as the message was ending and he pulled the plate out and inhaled the aroma of one of his favorite dishes. After he had set it on the bar counter he debated for a minute about whether to pour a glass of wine or just grab a bottle of water; the water won out, five in the morning came awfully early and he had rounds and then surgery scheduled. It was pretty much the same, every day. When had he let it all take over his life so that he felt guilty about having a glass of wine with dinner or spending time away from the hospital?

Right now he admitted that he would stay at the hospital 24/7 with the smallest bit of encouragement, but he wisely told himself that even he needed a break. My God, it was already after 9, so it wasn’t like he had left early or anything anyway. He picked up his fork and speared a piece of the moussaka, blowing on it carefully before taking the bite.

Mm, this is so good he thought as he savored the bite. His mom was a wonderful cook and this was one of her specialties, made the old fashioned ‘Greek’ way. No shortcuts for Eleni Gorman, Georgio thought with a satisfied smile. He finished his meal and rinsed his plate before putting it into the dishwasher. He glanced at the pile of mail that was sitting on the counter and sat back down to go through it all, tossing out the junk and putting the bills in a pile to pay later this weekend. There was one strange thing in the pile though and it puzzled him; it was a post card with a picture of Pandora on it. It was the famous Waterhouse painting and Georgio smiled as he gazed at it before turning it over to see which of his sister’s had sent it. What puzzled him was that there was no name on it, only the word ‘Secrets’. It had to be an Athena thing, she liked to be mysterious and so he stuck it up on the fridge so he could admire it later.

By the time he was done it was after 10. He yawned and stretched and realized how tired he was. No late show for him this evening, it was bed, straight away. He went through the house checking doors and making sure the alarm was set before heading into the bedroom and pulling down the sheet and comforter on the bed. It was chilly tonight and he decided to just sleep in his sweats and he welcomed the warmth of the bedcovers as he settled in. At the last moment he remembered to set his alarm and it was the last thing he did before falling into a deep sleep. If he dreamt that night, he didn’t remember it.


Five in the morning did come early but Georgio hit the ‘off’ button on the alarm when it went off. He sat on the edge of the bed for a moment as he stretched, ready to get going. Georgio was a morning person, he enjoyed this time of the day actually although he liked it much better in the summer when the sun was just beginning to poke over the horizon. But still, it was a new day and he welcomed it by hopping into a quick shower and getting ready for work. Traffic was light today for which he was thankful as he stopped into Starbucks for a cup of coffee on the way in. He’d grab some breakfast after rounds, but this would do for now.

When he got to Cassie’s room she was just getting her breakfast. She pushed the button to raise the head of the bed up so that she could see what was on her tray. She grimaced as she saw the rubbery, over-cooked scrambled eggs but mentally shrugged acknowledging that at least it wasn’t oatmeal. She grinned as Georgio came into the room and said, “Gee, want some?” as she held a forkful of eggs up to him.

“No, I, uh will pass on those. They look distinctly like the ones from about 4 years ago!”

“Yeah, well they taste like it too, but at least they’re hot.” She took a sip of her coffee and made a ‘yuck’ face and Georgio laughed out loud.

“Don’t laugh – have you ever tasted this stuff? Honestly, how do they make it taste like varnish? I mean, its coffee, not rocket science!”

“Hm, now I know what I could use to water-proof my deck, huh?” he teased.

“I wouldn’t, it’ll eat right through the wood.” She added a packet of sugar and then was irritated when she couldn’t find another to add.

Georgio ignored her as she moved things around on her tray looking for more sugar. He peered at her latest vitals and laughed. Nothing new going on there, for which he was thankful. He bet that if they took her blood pressure right now though that it would be elevated.

“And you’re laughing at what?” she demanded.This made him laugh again at her annoyance. It was a side of her he hadn’t seen before. He quickly tried to check himself and stop the laughter, but his obvious humor was showing in his eyes and she spotted it and started giggling herself.

“Yeah, okay. I’m a beast this morning, I know. Mornings aren’t really my thing.”

“A night owl? You people are scary!”

“No, what’s scary are you people who are perky first thing in the morning! My assistant Janine is like that – it always makes me suspicious!”

“Ah, an impasse I see!” He grinned at her and shook his head. “I guess we’ll just have to appreciate our own different times in the day then.”

“So, no true meeting of the minds on this one then?” she asked.

“Guess not. Our minds will have to meet on other levels.” As soon as the words were said he realized how they sounded and he dipped his head to hide his embarrassment.

He scribbled something totally illegible on the chart and then scratched it out to busy himself for a moment. When he looked up at her she was still watching him and he knew that he hadn’t fooled her for a moment. His mind scrambled for something to say and finally came up with something he had been thinking about since last night.

“Hey, how would you like some more Greek food for dinner tomorrow night? I’m going to a family thing and my mom and sisters will be cooking. I could drop a plate off for you here if you’d like?”

Her face immediately lit up with pleasure. “Ooh, I’d love it. But I have to wait until tomorrow?” She made a pouty look with her face, but her eyes were sparkling brightly as she teased him.

“Yes, you’ll just have to wait. But then I do too and I’m really looking forward to it. My sister Athena is here from Athens and I haven’t seen her in a year!”

“Athena? Wow, you really are Greek, huh? How many siblings do you have?”

“Nine! Four brothers and five sisters. I told you, big Greek family – BIG, HUGE!”

“Your parents were frisky, weren’t they? Way to go!”

“Not exactly my sentiments, but they are happy, I’ll say that for them.” He felt his pager go off, vibrating gently against his side. He pulled it up to look at and said, “I’ve got to head out of here, but I’ll see you later, okay?”

She nodded yes and watched him leave. He moved like a cat, long lazy strides that made him almost glide across the floor. She had a brief wicked thought as she tried to picture him naked and how that would look. She sincerely hoped she would find out.


As soon as Georgio stepped through the door at his parents’ house the aromas hit him; roasting lamb, cinnamon, garlic, lemons; his mouth started watering in anticipation. The next thing he knew he was being bowled over by hugs from various nephews and nieces and it made him feel so good, so close to them. These family get togethers were sort of a renewal of spirit for him; necessary to his lonely heart and soul. But there was a bright light on his horizon and he couldn’t wait to see where it would lead him.

After prying several kids off of him he made his way to the kitchen, which was in its usual uproar. His mother, 3 sister’s and 2 sister-in-laws were busy in the large kitchen chopping, stirring and all talking at once. It brought an immediate smile to his face and he called out, “Hey Tina, home at last?”

His sister Athena, aka Tina, dropped the spoon she was getting ready to stir a pot of sauce with and rushed to him and grabbed him into a fierce hug. She pulled back and looked him up and down and nodded her approval. “Baby brother, you look good!”

“So do you Tina, so do you!” He pulled her into another quick hug and asked, “What’s cooking?” He made his way to the stove, hoping to get a taste of something.

His mother kissed him on the cheek and then shook her spoon at him and said, “No! You go on and find the men and let us cook!”

He gave her his best lop-sided grin and headed into the den where the men were discussing the favorite subject of Greek men – women. He was greeted by various brother’s and his dad, who was lecturing his brother Adonis on the evils of being single and why he needed to marry again, a good Greek girl of course, to make his mother happy.

Donnie rolled his eyes when he caught Georgio’s grin and said, “Here’s the one you need to lecture Dad, this one here!” Donnie gave him a ‘you’re caught’ look and Georgio laughed. He was used to this conversation.

One hour and two glasses of ouzo later the men were called into dinner. The table for the adults was over-flowing with food and place settings and so was the children’s table in the kitchen. After everyone was seated Ron Gorman stood and raised his glass of Retsina to make a toast:

“To family and our love for one another. We are blessed to be here. Enjoy everyone! Opa!”

Everyone chanted ‘Opa!’ and lifted their glasses to drink. The meal was a feast for the eyes as well as the senses and Georgio enjoyed every moment of it. He sat next to Athena and she told him of a strange thing that had happened back home in Athens.

“We were in Gratnea when Yia Yia’s house was broken into. It was frightening,” she told him.

Yia Yia meant grandmother in Greek. Athena and her husband Stavros lived in their grandmother’s home in Athens, a home that had been in the family for several centuries. It was a large, rambling home of cool marble halls and rooms and there was something intimidating about it to Georgio. As a child, he had nightmares about that house and always hated having to stay there. Still, what Athena told him was shocking.

“What did they take?” he asked, full of concern for his sister and her family.

“That is what is so funny, they took nothing! It was like they searched through everything, cupboards, closets, they even broke through the walls in several places. But nothing was missing, not even the paintings or Yia Yia’s Faberge egg. It was very puzzling.”

His brother heard the comment and they all discussed it then as they finished the meal and while the table was cleared. Georgio used that distraction to make a plate to take to Cassie; he had plenty of left over’s to chose from and he picked out things he hoped she would enjoy.

His mom came in and noticed what he was doing and smiled encouragingly. “Yes, take more Georgie, you are too skinny!”

So he grabbed another plate and took more for himself as well. He didn’t tell his mother that one plate was for a friend; he didn’t want to have to explain. After they were wrapped and in a bag he said his goodbyes, anxious to get to the hospital to see Cassie. First he made arrangements to see his sister again for lunch on Monday before kissing her goodbye. It would be quiet at lunch and they could catch up.

He couldn’t wait to get to the hospital and see Cassie’s face and the heaping plate of food. Hell, he couldn’t wait to see Cassie!

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, July 16, 2010

Chapter Nine

Sit a spell…

The day began as most others for Cassie; she woke up with various twitches and itches in her legs, letting her know that they are still there. She was anxious for activity, any activity; her patience was wearing a bit thinner with each passing day.

Sarah and Adam would be coming to see her today and she was really looking forward to that. It was their last visit before they left for California for a week so it would be bittersweet. Cassie was amazed at the change in Sarah; the change that Adam had made in her friend. Sarah glowed with happiness and while Cassie was thrilled for her friend she let her own heart wish for just a moment that she could find that too.

There was a brief knock on the door and Cassie’s heart skipped a beat for a half second and then settled down – it wasn’t Georgio’s knock. His was a bit softer always, or so she imagined. She always thought of him as Georgio in her head now, in fact she had a hard time remembering to refer to him as ‘Dr. Gorman’ when he was here in the room.

Karen, her nurse came into the room to check on her. Cassie grinned when she saw Karen, she liked her a lot. Karen was young and cheeky with a wicked sense of humor, just like Cassie.

“Well, good morning there Cassie! Still lying around here I see!”

“Ha ha! I figure I need to give you something to do, you know? Don’t want you to get lazy!”

“Yeah, because I ain’t got anything better to do, let me tell you! Keeping a husband on track and chasing 2 year old twins around is a breeze!” she laughed as she opened the curtains in the room so that the morning sun could shine into the dark room. “How’s that?”

“Um good. Looks like there are some clouds heading our way.”

“Yeah, well it is October, bound to be some storms sooner or later. We could use a good rain though; everything is so dry and dusty out.”

Another knock sounded on the door and this time Cassie smiled; it was Georgio. He didn’t wait for an invitation, just pushed the door open and came into the room. He smiled as he saw that Karen had opened the curtains because it showed a huge smile on Cassie’s face. He could only hope that part to the reason for her smile was seeing him.

“So, how are you this morning? Any complaints?”

Cassie giggled and opened her mouth, prepared to list a few dozen random complaints but he saw what was about to happen and held up his hand in a ‘stop’ gesture. “Okay, let me ask this another way otherwise I’ll never get out of here! So, any leg related complaints?” He returned her grin, his eyes flashing brightly with humor.

“Same old, same old. I thought I’d be dancing by now. What’s the deal?”

“We’re getting there Cassie.” He focused for a moment on her right leg, turning it a bit to test her flexibility. He repeated the motion with her left leg and nodded, apparently satisfied. He placed both his palms flat against the bottom of her feet and asked her to push a bit against his hands.

Cassie was shocked; it was the first time he had asked her to try to move them and she stared at him, dumbfounded for a moment. “Really?” she asked.

“Um hm. C’mon, give it your best shot!”

So Cassie pushed – hard. And it didn’t hurt at all.

“Whoa! That’s good, no, that’s great,” he said and made a note on her chart. “Small, but powerful,” he quipped to Karen, whose eyes were sparking with delight over it all.

“Yeah, I’ll bet she’s got a hell of a kick,” Karen replied. “Remind me to stay out of her way when she’s up and running!”

“Okay, this is good. Cassie, we’re going to send you down for an MRI this morning to check on your back, okay?” he said as he made another note in the chart. To Karen he said, “See if you can get imaging up her in the next hour or so?”

“I’ll call the orders in right away Dr. Gorman. Anything else?”

“Yes, I hope you have a good pair of running shoes because this one,” he said, pointing his pen at Cassie,” is going to be up and running before we know it!”

Karen’s laugh could be heard as the room door closed behind her. Cassie swallowed hard, replaying what Georgio had just said through her brain. “Are you serious? I mean, I am getting better?” she asked.

Georgio hear a vulnerable tremble in her voice and it made him want so badly to hold her close and tell her that it was true. Instead he could only nod and gently touch her hand. “Yes Cassie, I do mean it. You are doing better than I ever expected.”

Her breath caught in her throat for a moment as she stared at him. She didn’t trust herself to speak for a minute; she could only stare into his beautiful eyes and try to blink back the tears that threatened to spill down her cheeks.

The spell was broken just then when the nurse’s aide came in with her breakfast. She stopped in her tracks for a moment as she stared at Cassie and Georgio, knowing that she had interrupted something.

“I’m sorry – I was just dropping off your tray Cassie. I, uh, didn’t mean to interrupt. I can come back in a few minutes!” She made to leave the room in a hurry; she thought that Cassie had just received bad news because Cassie had tears in her eyes, which broke her heart. Everyone loved Cassie and they were all pulling for her.

“No, no Beverly, come back! Ge…Dr. Gorman just told me that I’m getting better, that I’ll be walking, well, maybe not soon, exactly, but I will be walking!” Her words came out in a rush, all jumbled together in her excitement.

“Cassie!” Beverly squealed, her excitement clearly showing. “That’s fantastic! The BEST news!”

Georgio took this moment to say his goodbyes, telling Cassie that he’d see her later in the day. Cassie watched him go raising her hand in a gesture he didn’t see and one he probably wouldn’t have approved of if he did.

Every time you go away,
You take a piece of me with you…

Hall and Oates was playing in her head again. Sheesh Cass, you should be paying them royalties she thought with a wry grin.

Beverly had missed all that; she was busy pulling the cover off of Cassie’s breakfast so that she could feed her. “Ugh!” she said, “It’s oatmeal this morning. I’m sorry!”

Cassie hated the oatmeal, it was like mushy cardboard but this morning she didn’t care. She just didn’t care…


Marcus from imaging was up to get her within the hour, just as Georgio had wanted. She was used to it all now and 45 minutes later she was back on her way to her room. Her mom and dad were waiting for her and they bore gifts, some banana muffins that her mom had baked that morning. Her mom broke one apart and fed it to her and she savored each bite.

“Um, Mom, that is so good! Thanks so much; I had oatmeal for breakfast this morning. Well, they call it oatmeal but really it’s more of a facsimile of ground up wet cardboard – I can’t figure out how they do that to oatmeal, you know? I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make oatmeal…”

“You know, the army cooks couldn’t make oatmeal either,” her dad said, reminiscing about the ‘good old days’. “We used to wonder if they went to school to learn how to make food taste so bad!”

“Yes, we know honey,” Alice interjected, afraid he was going to go off on a tangent. “Cassie, Max misses you so much! I always tell him we’re coming to see you and you should see him; he just sort of cocks his little head as if he understands. And when we come home he always sniffs us over and then just lies down, so dejected. Poor little guy!”

Cassie missed Max too and it broke her heart not to see him. He was her ‘baby’, her only child and she adored him. Sarah always called him the ‘yappy little dog’ but she said it with affection and would spoil him just as badly as Cassie herself did. He often stayed with Sarah when Cassie made overnight business trips to set up events and they both seemed to enjoy it. Sarah always said she had ‘allergies’ but Cassie never noticed her sneezing around Max, she thought with a smile.

“Hopefully when I get transferred I might have a chance to see him, at least once. Dr. Gorman said I was doing really well this morning, that I’ll be walking before too long! Isn’t that exciting?”

“Oh honey, that’s wonderful,” both of her parents chorused together. “The very best news! Cassie, we are so very proud of you, of how hard you have worked to do what they told you to, even though it is so hard for you. We know that you will be walking soon, we believe it!” her mom finished.

They chatted for a while longer and then her parents left, after putting a CD in the player for her. Hall and Oates…Cassie laughed because she might as well listen to it; it was running wildly through her brain anyway.

Early in the afternoon Georgio came in, Karen trailing behind him. Both of them were wearing cat-that-ate-the-canary smiles and Cassie was immediately on edge. Something was up and while she couldn’t wait to find out, she was also scared.

Karen immediately began removing the wedge from under her legs. Cassie sighed with pleasure because it felt so good to have her legs out straight. Before she realized what she was doing started flexing her toes and she smiled, until she saw Georgio watching her.

“Oops, sorry,” she said sheepishly. “It uh, just feels so good.” She gave an apologetic shrug and grinned.

“It does, does it? Karen, why don’t you throw that thing away?” he said, throwing a wink at Karen.

She grabbed it and set it aside and smiled herself. Cassie looked from one to the other, bewildered.

“What is going on?” she asked, her heart in her throat.

“You’re done with that, no more wedge Cassie.” He gave her a moment for it all to sink in and watched confusion play across her beautiful face.

“Why? What does this mean?” She held her breath, waiting expectantly for his next words.

“It means that your spinal cord looks great; it has mended well and the swelling is gone. We are going to slowly start you on some movement.”


“S-L-O-W-L-Y Cassie, okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, okay. Slowly, I can do that! So no more wedge, really?”

“No more wedge, I promise!”

“Can I kick the crap out of it? Stomp on it, tear it to bits? Pretty please?” she asked, grinning like a fool.

“I’d love to tell you yes but that is actually a very expensive piece of hospital equipment,” he laughed. “But I do understand!”

“You have NO idea, I promise you!”

“Okay. Now, we’re going to try something new. We’re going to raise your head up a few inches. Let me know if you feel any discomfort, okay?”

She nodded and felt the bed start to go up. One, two, maybe 10 inches. It felt heavenly. “No pain!” she told them in an excited voice. “No pain,” she repeated more quietly.

She was grinning when there was a soft knock on the door and it opened a few inches. She saw Sarah’s head poke around the edge of the door and called out for her to come in.

“How does that feel Cassie?” he asked her, watching her face for signs of pain or stress.

She was breathing slow and deeply, trying to adjust to the movement. After a minute or so she said, “It feels okay. I don’t know how long I can handle it, but it doesn’t hurt.”

Dr. Gorman made a note in her chart and then closed it with a crisp click. “Okay then, no more than 30 minutes at this height. You can go back down to the first level and stay like that as long as you want, okay? We’ll leave now, but Karen will come back in a half hour to move the bed down again. If it gets too uncomfortable before then, let her know, okay?”

Cassie nodded at him and smiled. It totally lit her face up and Sarah realized how much she missed that smile. Dr. Gorman nodded his head at Adam and Sarah as he and the nurse left the room and closed the door.

“Well, well, look at you, Mr. Hollywood,” Cassie chided good-naturedly. “I almost didn’t recognize you, except that since you arrived with this one,” she said, pointing her thumb at Sarah, “I knew it had to be you!”

Adam took his sunglasses off, but left the hat on, before pulling a couple of chairs around to the side of the bed so we could sit down. He put a chair very close to the tray table so that Sarah could help Cass dig through a huge basket of goodies before bestowing on her his very best dimple smile.

Cassie exuded happiness at that smile and Sarah knew she had already figured out the differences of Adam’s smiles and she was delighted about that. Sarah bent over and kissed Cassie on the cheek and her eyes were sparkling brightly.

She looked over at the basket of goodies and Sarah saw excitement renewed in those grass green eyes. Sarah felt like Santa Claus and couldn’t wait to help Cassie go through the basket.

“I’ll have you know Cass, that I built muscles carrying this up to you. Sarah was adamant about the fact that you needed all of this,” Adam told her, grinning from ear to ear.

At Cassie’s delighted “Ohh”, Sarah pushed the tray table as near to her as I could so she could get a good idea of what all was in there. She poked around and moved things until she had seen most of what was in there, and then started to pull things out to sniff.

“Oh Sarah,” she said, excitement bubbling over, “Thank you so much. I’ll finally smell good again and I can’t wait to actually take a real bath and wash my hair. And lotion, my skin is so dry, that is the best part!”

She pulled a bottle of Magnolia scented lotion out of the basket and opened it, deeply inhaling its fragrance. “Oh, this is heavenly.” she said, pouring some into her palm. She rubbed the lotion onto her hands and arms, massaging it in with a sigh of pleasure.

“Sarah and Adam, thank you so much! This means so much to me!” She found a tube of lip balm and opened it and sniffed the vanilla fragrance before spreading it over her lips. “Oh yes, yes! This is almost better than sex!” she laughed. “At least, right now!”

One of the items in the basket was a large hand mirror, which Cassie picked up with some trepidation. “Do I want to look?” she asked me, a look of dread on her face.

Sarah grabbed her hand and squeezed it for a moment before speaking. Cassie’s face had grown thinner and her grass green eyes were a bit shadowed but Sarah said, “Cass, you look fine. A little bedraggled maybe, but that’s to be expected. And nothing that a long hot shower won’t cure…”

She slowly held the mirror up, but kept her eyes closed for a moment, as if dreading what she would see. She opened her eyes slowly and looked into the mirror, staring into it solemnly. Huge green eyes looked into Sarah’s and blinked back tears.

“I can’t believe that I look so…normal, I guess. I don’t really look much different, do I?”

“No you don’t,” Sarah told her, smiling at her in reassurance.

“I feel so different Sarah, like I’m not the same person at all anymore, you know? I don’t know if that’s good or bad, you know?”

“In some ways you aren’t ,Cass. Neither of us are. You’ve been through a life-altering situation, how could you NOT be different?” Sarah paused for a moment, thinking over what to say to her, how to say it. “Cassie, I think that what we, especially you, have been through has made us stronger, better people. A bit more compassionate and caring and for me, patient, maybe,” Sarah said, shrugging her shoulders while wearing a grin plastered on her face. “The point is I guess, what I’m trying to say, and not very well, is that it’s our choice what we take away from all this. We can choose to use the new attributes to our benefit or we can just think about how bad it has been. This whole experience has brought me a greater understanding of myself and what I want,” Sarah told her, smiling at Adam as she said that. “I might not have been so willing to take a chance, you know? Of course you know, me I mean. It scared me, on an emotional level. It showed me what and who is most important in my life, worth fighting for, you know?”

“I feel like that too Sarah, but I still feel unable to take charge of anything and that is so frustrating to me. I hate only being allowed these small steps. I want to run, not walk and yet it’s my own body that is betraying me. I lie here in this damn bed and think about everything in my life that is on hold, just sitting there collecting dust.”

Sarah nodded, sympathy tugging at her. She did know exactly how Cassie felt. Except she had been hurt so much worse, her struggle to regain her quality of life was far more difficult than Sarah’s had been.

“You know what Cass? I decided to look at it as a new start to things; maybe that’s how you need to think about it too. You can’t change what is happening except to be determined to be the winner, and I know you have already done that. So focus on one day at a time, one step at a time. You will get through it, I promise you. I’ll help you every step of the way. It’s going to be tough, but you are far tougher Cassie!” Sarah told her, taking her hand and rubbing it gently.

“I believe it was three musketeers, not two. Unless you two don’t want a third?” Adam told them, taking both of their hands into his. Sarah looked at him, and what she saw in his eyes was genuine empathy for Cassie and caring. She realized that Cassie saw that too. Cass nodded, almost imperceptibly and said, “Deal!” Adam and Sarah both repeated that, and each knew that the bargain was struck.

Karen came back in and lowered Cassie’s bed and Sarah could tell that she was tired. It had been an exciting day for her, but it had been a wonderful day and Sarah felt fortunate to have been able to share in her happiness. They stayed awhile longer, but Cass was fighting yawns so they decided it was time to leave; although that was reluctant on Sarah’s part. She knew it would be a week before she would see her again and she tried to focus on all the wonderful new things that would be happening in her life by then.

Sarah hugged her, as best she could and kissed Cassie soundly on the cheek. They both were crying; inherently they both knew what the week apart would bring. Adam hugged her too and kissed her on the forehead again and it was so touching to see them interacting. “Hey, maybe you can get your doctor to move that basket for you! You can see if he has any muscles!” Adam quipped.

Sarah stood in the doorway of Cassie’s room and blew her a kiss before waving goodbye. Adam pulled the door shut behind them Cassie closed her eyes for a moment. She felt good, better than good. She would miss Sarah and Adam too she realized but good things were happening and she realized that she couldn’t wait!

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, July 9, 2010

Chapter Eight

Brand new day…

Cassie woke with a renewed excitement; on one hand she didn’t have a muscle cramp but on the other, her foot itched!

I never thought I would be so happy for these bodily annoyances!

She had to fight really hard to keep from trying to wiggle her foot in an effort to somehow appease the itch Gods. She knew she wasn’t allowed to move, but what if she could? What if she did and then it all went away because she screwed her recovery up?

She mentally shook her head and gave up on the idea and was just getting ready to hit the ‘call nurse’ button when the door opened and the nurse walked in.

“Providence!” Cassie declared.

“What?” Charles, her nurse asked.

Cassie giggled and said, “My foot itches, I need help!”

“Well, how about that, huh? Which one?”

“The left one, right on the arch. It’s driving me crazy. I know I shouldn’t complain, but it’s frustrating not being able to scratch the darn thing!” She sighed with pleasure as she felt Charles scratch the offending itch.

“There, is that better?” he asked, watching the cat-like satisfied smile creep across her face.

“Oh yeah…better than, er, chocolate?” she chuckled.

“What is better than chocolate? Surely nothing can be better than chocolate?” Georgio asked, coming into the room. Dr. Miller was with him again this morning, looking very serious and very, very young Cassie decided.

“Having an itchy foot scratched! Yeah, right now it is definitely better than chocolate. But ask me later when nothing itches and I’ll tell you a different tale,” she promised.

“Nothing, hm?” Georgio murmured quietly. He quirked an eyebrow up as his head was bent but Cassie caught the whole thing since she was down so low. Georgio spied her watching him and realized that she had saw and heard his comment and mentally chastised himself for not being a bit more circumspect.

He cleared his throat, hoping that it would clear his mind at the same time and said, “How are you feeling this morning Cassie?”

“Great. Thought I might take a stroll later!” She then looked at Georgio sincerely and said, “Like down to Sarah’s room, please? This bed does move you know!”

“Well Cassie, it does move but it isn’t meant to be portable, like a wheel chair, you know. I’m afraid that isn’t a possibility right now.” He saw her eyes quickly fill with tears and hated that he had had to tell her no. “But maybe she’ll be able to come and see you.”

Cassie nodded, trying hard to blink away the stinging tears. She did understand, but she wanted, needed to see for herself that Sarah was alright. She swallowed a huge lump and felt the pain that made her throat ache. She needed to think of something else to change her focus so she said, “So, is the itch this morning another part of my recovery?”

Georgio nodded, glad to move on to another subject. “Yes it is. It demonstrated nerve recovery. I hate to say it but you can probably expect more of that type of reaction.”

“It’s going to drive me crazy isn’t it?” she asked.

He smiled and sort of shrugged his broad shoulders, which looked fantastic in his scrubs Cass thought.

Focus girl, focus!

“Will it be painful?”

“Not so painful as intense at times, possibly. Like, well you know how it feels when your legs go to sleep and then you stand up? Sort of like that at times, but you should remember that everyone is different Cassie. You may feel that to some greater or lesser extent.”

“But it’s a good thing, right?”

“It’s a great thing. It means you’re healing!”

“I think I need a margarita!” she told him, only half joking.

“Maybe Lissa will smuggle one in for you?” he teased, making notes on her chart.

“Really? She could?” Cass asked hopefully.

“NO! I’m joking, no tequila.” He saw her face fall and he quickly added, “For now, okay?”

“You just wait until I blow this Popsicle stand. Tequila here I come! Gallons of it! You can watch!”

He shook his head, laughing as he made one final note in the chart and handed it to Charles, who had been watching this whole exchange with interest.

“I think I would be picking you up off of the floor, if there really is going to be gallons of it!”

“It’s a date!” Cassie exclaimed and then turned bright red as she realized what she had just said. She heard Charles clear his throat in the background, which only made it all worse.

“Uh, Dr. Gorman, if you are through in here I need to get to 613 to check on the patient there,” Charles said, looking from Cassie to Georgio.

Great, he thinks there is something going on here, Georgio thought.

Dr. Miller hadn’t said a thing in this exchange and was slightly amused to see his mentor so disconcerted. It wasn’t like him at all. Dr. Miller didn’t necessarily think it was a bad thing either; Dr. Ice seems to have met his match he thought with a grin .

“Well, Cassie,” Georgio said, ready to flee the room, “do you have any other questions this morning?”

Cassie couldn’t quite meet his eyes and so she just shook her head and murmured “No!”

“Okay then. If you need anything be sure and let us know. We’ll see you later today.”

Cassie watched as all three of them left the room and she let out a sigh of relief.

Way to go Cassie, you made a fool out of yourself!


The rest of the morning took its usual course – breakfast, a bath and a visit from her parents. Her dad had checked in with Janine at An Affair to Remember and things were going well there, nothing for Cassie to worry about he had reported. Janine was planning on visiting her soon with an update on new projects and Cassie eagerly looked forward to it; it would help take her mind off of things.

After lunch Cassie was bored to death and trying to decide if she wanted to watch a DVD or take a nap. There was a knock on the door and she looked up expectantly, eager for a visitor.

“Holy shit, look who you got to push you around? Just your luck, Sarah! Totally inexperienced, but I guess he was the best you could get on short notice, huh?”

Cassie wore a smile a mile wide but Sarah noticed tears gathering in the corners of her eyes and asked Adam to push her over close to Cassie so she could hold her hand.

Sarah clasped Cassie’s hand, afraid it might hurt her and they both started crying in earnest then, talking at the same time.

“Sarah, I’m so sorry I got us into this!”

“Cass, I’m so sorry you have been so badly hurt because of me!”

They looked at each other, surprised at what they had each said and simultaneously said, “Huh?”

“Cassie, you didn’t get us into this, you were only driving me home in the horrible storm. We should have waited it out!”

“But I was driving, Sarah. If I had been paying better attention, maybe we wouldn’t have crashed!”

Adam had disappeared into the bathroom and came out carrying a handful of tissues and gave each of the women several.

“He’s handy too?”

“Yes, he is,” Sarah answered, smiling at Cassie and then looking at Adam, who was leaning back against the wall, arms and feet crossed, watching them both. He was giving them his dimple grin and Sarah looked at Cassie and saw that she was responding to it, knowing that you can’t help it there was no way to resist it. That grin is infectious! Her face was full of excitement and orneriness!

“You better hang onto him you know,” she said, a very serious look in her eye. She looked at Adam and he was still smiling. Sarah was happy because she knew that this is the smile that he only gives to people he cares about. The public never sees this one and she was thankful for that.

“So you two met already, huh?” Sarah said, completely happy about that fact.

“Yes, Lissa brought me up here yesterday. I had to meet her; had it not been for you Cassie, well, my reception might not have gone quite so smoothly.”

“You mean that Derek might have tried to kick your ass?” Cassie said, an impish grin on her face.

Adam laughed out loud and remarked, “He may still! It’s going to take a while to uh, win him over, I’m afraid!” He pulled up another chair and sat down, looking very much at ease.

Cassie watched how Sarah watched Adam as he talked; she was completely taken with him; she did love him Cassie knew. But Adam was still going to have a hard time going the distance, if Cassie knew Sarah at all.

“Adam, Sarah told me that you live in California and have a couple of boys. How old are they?”

“Geoff is 6 and Tristan is 5. They are great boys and I miss them a good deal. I hope to take Sarah to California to meet them as soon as she is recovered enough.”

Cassie saw Sarah catch her breath when Adam said that, but she didn’t say anything.

Oh boy Adam, you better take these things slow for our girl so she doesn’t panic!

They chatted for a short while longer and then there was a brief knock on the door. At Cassie’s “Come in”, Georgio walked in. He was wearing a pristine white coat over an azure blue shirt, which exactly matched the color of his eyes. Eyes that Sarah thought wore the most beautiful long and luxurious lashes she had ever seen outside of a Revlon mascara ad. He had short, thick dark hair that was graying beautifully. He looked very dignified, in a totally cute way. This had to be Dr. Gorgeous, Sarah thought.

Cassie was amazed to see Georgio in anything other than his usual scrubs. She liked seeing him in the scrubs, they showed off his body quite well and they always sent a tingle up her arms to see him. But as she admired him in the deep blue shirt she realized that maybe it wasn’t the scrubs that caused the tingles so much, it was just him.

Big surprise there she thought. She found herself licking her lips before introducing him to Sarah.

“They haven’t smuggled in anything I should know about have they?” Georgio teased and he watched with pleasure as a beautiful pink blush colored Cassie’s face.

“Search me!” she said, batting her eyes in an exaggerating way.

Sarah could see that she was crazy about this guy. He was teasing her and she adored every minute of it. A minute or so later, some young doctors came in and they prepared to examine Cassie.

Sarah grabbed Cassie’s hand and gave it a light squeeze before bending to kiss her cheek. She and Adam told her goodbye and left then. Sarah didn’t even think she realized it; she was so involved with her doctor!

As the door closed Georgio said, “Cassie, this is my team of interns that I teach. They are here to observe today, is that okay?”

“Sure.” Cassie looked at them all and tried not to be nervous. She was determined to behave and not embarrass Georgio in front of them.

She lay there quietly while Georgio filled them in on the facts about her case and shared the amazing results they were having with her treatment. The doctors seemed to have many questions for Georgio and he answered them all patiently.

They looked at Cassie’s legs and moved them around a bit, examining her reactions. It occurred to her to ask how they liked her hairy legs, but she kept her mouth shut for once. Inside she was giggling; why did she think of these stupid things?

Five minutes later they were heading out the door to the next patient and Georgio paused briefly at the door, smiling at Cassie. Then he was gone and the door closed behind him.

Cassie thought briefly of one of her favorite songs, Every Time You Go Away, by Hall and Oates.

Every time you go away,
You take a piece of me with you…

She groaned and rolled her eyes at her thoughts!

Chocolate! I need chocolate…


The next week flew past quickly. Sarah went home from the hospital with her dashing movie star staying with her in Wichita, for the time being. They came to visit several times until Sarah was well enough to travel and then they shared their plans that Sarah was going to go to California with him. Cassie couldn’t have been happier for her, but she knew she would miss Sarah so much. But it was only for a brief visit, Sarah would be home soon and Adam would be going to Dallas to finish work on the movie he was making.

Each day Cassie grew a little better, felt stronger. Georgio told her that they were going to remove the wedge in a week’s time and that she would be able to start sitting up for brief periods of time. Cassie couldn’t wait for this development and everything she did was with a mind toward that goal. She ate tasteless hospital food to regain her strength, she endured cramping muscles and itches and sheer boredom with as much grace as she could because of her goal.

Georgio watched her everyday and admired her sheer stubborn determination to follow orders and get better. Rarely had he had a patient this determined in fact. And with each examination and each conversation with her he fell a little bit more in love with this amazing woman.

Georgio had taken to bringing Cassie small treats occasionally now that Lissa was back in Lawrence. He had checked with a friend of his up at the med school and found out that Melissa Marcus was doing great and was on the track to being an excellent doctor.

He found out that Cassie loved anything chocolate and usually his treats involved small bits of chocolate that he bought for her from various specialty shops around town. He would never admit to himself or anyone else that the reason he was suddenly interested in high quality Swiss chocolate was because of Cassie, but together they tried many varieties, of Swiss, German, Dutch and even Italian chocolate. Some they liked and some they didn’t but the one thing they both loved were those few minutes of connection while they shared the treat.

Their conversation never strayed very far into personal territory, but they did share various bits of information about their lives. She told him about her business and he laughed, understanding so much better her aversion to the hospital food that she usually had to eat. One day he brought her a plate of Greek specialties that his mom had made and she almost cried with excitement. She also swore that she needed to hire his mother!

Yes, their relationship managed to stay on an impersonal level but grow at the same time. Georgio knew that would be changing soon, when she moved to a rehabilitation hospital and he couldn’t wait.

He wouldn’t be her doctor then and everything would change.

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, July 2, 2010

Chapter Seven

One Step Closer…

The night before Cassie had wondered what this day would bring. Well, what it brought was pain, first thing in the morning.

Cassie woke up with pain, in her leg actually. A muscle cramp! She didn’t know whether to cry or laugh. It hurt like hell, but on the other hand she was feeling!

Hooray! Oh God, make it stop!

She immediately pushed the button for the nurse. It was only around 6 am so the floor was pretty quiet and she answered quickly. It was Rose, the nurse from last night, still on duty.

“Yes Ms. Banks?” she said, her voice sounding tinny and scratchy over the speaker.

“I’m having a muscle cramp in my leg! It hurts…” Cassie practically yelled.

“Be right there!” she said and true to her word she was.

“Let’s take a look,” she said as she pulled the covers down and lifted the gown up so she could look. Cassie tilted her head up for a moment to see for herself and she could see the muscles in her leg knotting and moving. No wonder it hurt so badly!

Rose saw Cassie lift her head and so she laid her hand on Cassie’s forehead and gently pushed it back down flat on the bed. “None of that now. I’d better call the doctor, but let me assure you that this is normal.” She punched some buttons on her phone and looked at Cassie’s face; it was blanched totally white from the pain. “I know it hurts, we’re going to get something for you okay? I promise.”

Rose took Cassie’s hand and gently rubbed it. Cassie knew that Rose felt bad for her but right now that just wasn’t cutting it! “Do something!” she demanded.

The resident doctor came into the room at a trot. He was a young, good looking man with sparkling blue eyes and sandy blond hair. He reminded Cassie a lot of Derek but she didn’t have time to think about that right now. If she could have writhed on the bed she would have the pain was so intense.

“I’m Dr. Miller,” he said as he inspected her leg. “Wow, look at that. No wonder you are in pain!”

Cassie looked at him, wishing a plague of locusts would come and pluck his eyes out. Or was that birds? She didn’t know and didn’t really care.

Dr. Miller watched as one of her beautiful brows arched sharply upward and she opened her mouth to speak. He was young, he knew but he was sympathetic to her. He knew that muscle was causing her a good deal of pain. He was one of Dr. Gorman’s protégés and knew his job well.

“Okay Ms. Banks, we’re going to get you a muscle relaxer, right away okay?” He told Rose what he wanted and she ran to get it. “Now, I’m going to remove the wedge from under your legs and we’ll try a bit of muscle massage to see if that helps okay?”

When he had her legs flat she thought for a moment that it had done the trick and she took a deep breath. But it was only momentary because the muscle protested wildly at the new position and it renewed its knotting and twisting, with an increased vigor.

Tears were running down Cassie’s face when Rose got back into the room. Dr. Miller was gently manipulating the muscle in Cassie’s leg as Rose gave her the shot of the muscle relaxer.

It literally only took a few moments for the relaxer to start working and Cassie sighed with relief as the pain ebbed away. Rose took over the muscle massage while Dr. Miller asked her some questions.

“How long ago did this start?”

“It is what woke me up,” Cassie said. Her head felt a bit fuzzy, a not totally unpleasant feeling. “I don’t know when exactly, but it was when I called the nurse.”

He nodded and made a note in her chart. He then moved around to the other side of the bed and examined her other leg, testing the muscular reflex on the left side as well. “Any pain in this leg?”

“No, it’s okay. I think anyway. Who could tell? What did you give me anyway? Is there tequila or something in that shot?” She blinked her eyes a couple of times; she felt ‘floaty’ and it was weird.

“No, just a muscle relaxer,” he murmured as he poked her leg with the probe thingy again. He ran it down her bare foot and she laughed, it actually tickled!

“Well, that’s a great feeling, isn’t it Ms. Banks!”

Just then the door opened and Dr. Gorman walked in. “She hates to be called ‘Ms. Banks’ Robert. Call her Cassie!” He stopped at her bed and smiled at her, nodding his head. “And it is a really good thing, huh?”

“You really do live here, don’t you?” Cassie mumbled. She took a deep breath and she wasn’t altogether sure she liked the ‘floaty’ feeling. No, take that back, she knew she didn’t like it. It was like being drunk, but more intense. Cassie didn’t like not feeling in control and that was definitely the case now. “I don’t like this feeling,” she told them.

“No I don’t and what did you give her?” Georgio looked at the chart and nodded, knowing it was an appropriate drug. “Cassie, you’re just feeling the effects of the muscle relaxer. We gave you a fairly strong dose of medication to ease your discomfort, the light-headedness will pass.”

“That wasn’t discomfort; it was excrum – uh, emcrux…ah, it hurt like hell!” she told him, unable to say the word excruciating.

“I know,” Georgio said. “Is it better now?”

She nodded sleepily; the drug had made her feel like a nap. “I want to sleep now,” she said, trying to shoo them away. “Go asway - way.”

Georgio smiled, but Cassie didn’t notice. Rose was taking Cassie’s vitals and Dr. Miller stood waiting for Georgio. He was making rounds with him this morning. A moment later Cassie was softly snoring.

Georgio watched her for a moment, his eyes softening slightly. She looked about 16 just then and he grinned. “Well, doesn’t take much to put her out does it?”

“So I see. I wondered if I was giving her enough actually. That muscle was really knotting hard. At least she isn’t in pain any longer. Should we put the wedge back under her legs?” Dr. Miller asked.

“No, let’s leave it off for a few hours; give those muscles a chance to recoup. Rose, put in her chart that I’ll want the wedge back in place at, hm,” he said, looking at his watch, “at 9:00 am. Hopefully that will prevent any more cramps this morning.”

“Okay Dr. Gorman, will do,” Rose said. The doctors left the room as Rose was covering Cassie’s legs back up. Such a tiny little thing Rose thought. Cassie let out a huge snore just then and stirred slightly in her sleep. Rose laughed and thought, tiny but mighty!


Cassie woke up when they were putting the wedge back under her knees and she felt them settling her legs on it; really felt it. She knew, KNEW that it was going to be okay from then on. And even better news arrived a few minutes later when Lissa and Derek came to her room.

“Guess what? Mom’s awake!” they both said, excitement rippling through their words.

“Oh my gosh! I want to see her. These beds are moveable aren’t they? Roll me down there NOW!” Cassie said, tears streaking her face.

“Cassie, you aren’t quite that mobile; we’ll bring mom up in a wheelchair as soon as they say she can come, okay?” Lissa promised.

“Why aren’t you two with her?” Cassie questioned.

A dark flush swept over Derek’s face and ears, turning them beet red. “Because Lissa,” he pointed at his sister with his finger, “Thought that she and Adam needed a few minutes alone!” The thought was clearly not a happy one for Derek.

Cassie tried to hold back a smile and said, “I thought we discussed this last night?”

Derek looked down and sort of shuffled his feet; it was a gesture Cass was well acquainted with as it was an effort to hide his discomfort. “I know; I am trying to get used to it.” He looked Cassie directly in the eye and added, “Honestly”.

Cassie nodded and said quietly, “Good enough!”.

“How are you doing today?”

Cassie smiled at Lissa’s ‘doctor’s’ tone of voice. “I’m great! Guess what?”

“I don’t know, what?” they both asked.

“I woke up really early this morning with a leg cramp! It hurt like hell!” She started laughing and then Lissa joined in as well. Derek stared at both of them like they were crazy.

“I don’t see how that’s funny, leg cramps are miserable!” And then it hit him – “You’re getting feeling back, huh?”

“Yeah Einstein, I am!”

“Alright – alright,” Derek said, grinning like an idiot. “You’re getting better!”

“I know!” She was quiet for a moment, knowing that she still had a long way to go, but she was getting better. “It’s just so hard, lying here all the time and not being able to get up.”

“Cassie, I know you don’t realize this but you are really lucky; they way you were tossed around inside the car – it’s amazing you didn’t actually break your back. Really, really lucky,” Lissa said.

“I know, it’s just my impatience talking here, ignore it. So tell me about your mom!”

“She’s pretty good; said she has a little headache, which is to be expected. Otherwise, cranky and yelling about getting her catheter out. Oh, and she wants to see you too!”

“What did she say when she saw Adam there? Was she happy?”

“He was actually down the hall when she woke up, calling his kids I think. But then the door opened and he walked in and Mom’s face just lit up. It was amazing…” Lissa said, tears in her eyes. “She really does care about him Cassie; you were so right!”

Cassie nodded and swallowed hard, fighting back her own tears. “Good. Good for her and Adam. She so deserves a man who adores her.”

“I agree.” Lissa looked at Derek and spoke directly to him, “Derek, you’ll think so too, eventually.”

“I know. I just don’t want her to get hurt, especially by some Hollywood hot shot.”

“He didn’t strike me as being like that at all Derek,” Cassie said.

“Me either, Grover. Lighten up a bit. Let’s just see what happens, okay?”

Derek blew out a long, slow breath and nodded. “Okay, let’s see!”

After the kids left the day shift nurse came in and asked if Cassie would like a bath. Cassie immediately brightened up and said yes so the nurse said she would send a nurse’s aide in to take care of that. Cassie couldn’t wait; even though she wasn’t doing anything to exert herself she felt grimy and smelly; a bath would certainly help even if it was a real one.

After her bath was done her lunch tray arrived and so did her parents. Her mom fed her the offerings on the tray, inwardly shaking her head at how unappetizing it looked and smelled. After she had eaten about half of it Cassie shook her head and said, “No more, please! Lissa is going to bring me some N & J later, I’ll fill up on that!”

“Can’t say I blame you Shortcake. I’m not even altogether sure what that is – was!” her mom told her. Alice poked at the remainder of the food on the plate and sighed, still confused.

“I think they told me it was supposed to be a Mexican casserole.” She shrugged and grinned, what else could she do?

‘I sure wish I could smuggle Max in to see you,” her dad said. “He smells you on us and then he sits and cries for you for an hour after we get home. He knows something is wrong and he misses you terribly. Although I must admit that your mother is spoiling him rotten!”

“Well, he’s a nice little dog and I enjoy having him around!”

“She’s even gotten a recipe for dog biscuits! She’s going to make him his own dog biscuits! And she took him to the dog hair parlor and they fluffed him and put some smelly stuff on him too. They wanted to paint his nails, but she told them NO to that. Can you believe that?”

Secretly Cassie was thrilled that Max was being so well cared for, but she had to tease her mom a bit. “Did you have them put the little blue bows on him? He likes those mom!”

Alice looked stricken at the thought of missing something to please Max. “Oh dear, I’ll have to take him back I guess!”

“Mom, I’m teasing okay? He just pulls those stupid ribbons out and eats them! He hates them, I promise. I’m sure he’ll like the dog biscuits though; the little guy is a pig!”

‘Oh! Okay then. It’s terrible of you to tease me like that Cassandra! I’m only trying to take good care of him after all.”

“Um hm, I know Mom. And I’m sure he’ll never be the same again!”

Cassie’s next guest came late that afternoon; it was Lissa bearing the promised food from N & J. Cassie’s mouth watered as she smelled the Chicken Swarma, wrapped in a fresh pita. Cassie took a bite and slowly chewed savoring the flavors that danced on her tongue.

“Oh, this is heavenly Lissa, thanks so much!”

Lissa scooped up a gob of hummus on a pita chip and held it out for Cassie, who eagerly took it. “No problem. I couldn’t stand to only eat the hospital food!”

Cassie chewed the bite and then asked how Sarah was.

“She’s sleeping again right now; Derek and Adam are with her. After I’m done here Adam and I are going to mom’s house. Derek will stay the night here because he has to leave first thing tomorrow morning.”

“Mm. Have your grandparents met Adam yet?”

“Um hm. They really like him, especially grandpa. They’ve been talking sports stuff. I think grandma is a bit taken with him actually!”

Cassie laughed, “I can see that! And what’s not to be taken with?”

“Not much, let me tell you! He is charming, that’s for sure. But you know what? He’s also very nice. Not just polite nice, but deep-down nice.”

There was a short knock on the door and then Dr. Gorman stepped in. “A hah! I thought I smelled swarma!”

“I’ll share!” Cassie declared. Lissa couldn’t help but noticed the pleased smile that spread across Dr. Gorman’s handsome face, followed just as quickly by a blush!

Wonder what that was about?

“Did Cassie tell you her good news today?” he asked, trying to focus on something else besides watching Cassie eat the hummus; her small, pink tongue licking along the corners of her mouth. It was impossible for him to watch and not want to feel those lips against his own.

“Yes she did. It’s exciting.”

“I just heard that your mother woke up this afternoon as well. All around it’s been a good day!”

Both Cassie and Lissa nodded, “It’s been a GREAT day!” Cassie stated.

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.