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?
Hear my callin’
I start fallin’
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
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