“The girl is impossible!” Zeus declared to Hera
Bellowed was more like it, she decided. Pandora really seemed to bring out the beast in that man. Zeus liked to be the conductor of the orchestra, with all the instruments playing exactly as he directed. In this case, his plans weren’t working out so well. Hera smiled secretly to herself at the thought; it was good for him that someone didn’t jump when he ordered. Unfortunately, it was Hera herself that was catching the grief over it and she didn’t like that one little bit. No, they must find a solution to the problem! And soon, it had to be soon!
“Zeus my love, you told her that she could not open the jar. In fact, you promised her death if she ever dared to look inside. What do you expect of the poor girl? You’ve scared her half to death with your bellowing and threats. She probably doesn’t even gaze at it; much less contemplate opening it!”
“She’s a woman! What woman could ever resist what she was forbidden?” He pounded the table, causing an earthquake to hit the mountainous regions of the Roman held lands. He laughed as the humans shrieked and scrambled below his narrowed gaze, looking for safety.
Hera rolled her eyes and tried to distract her enraged mate. “Zeus, you need to provide her with a bit of an incentive to open the jar. Stir not her curiosity but rather her compassion and intellect. Entice her with her love of humanity and the possibility of help for the masses of the miserable humans. Cures for sickness, aid for the hopeless and such. How could she resist, hmm?” Hera smiled and ran a gentle finger-tip softly across Zeus’ lips before leaning up to kiss him. “Now my love, can we possibly occupy our time with something a trifle more fulfilling?” She turned to walk away from him and cast a teasing look over her shoulder to make sure he was following him. She needn’t have worried. He only had one thing on his mind right now!
Lucky for her!
Gentle rain was making the roads a bit slick Georgio noticed as he pulled out of his parent’s driveway. Well, it was that time of year now, more of this to come he knew. At least it was too early to freeze yet; he was thankful of that.
The fragrance of the covered dishes in the seat beside him made him smile as he thought about Cassie. His mom and sister’s had outdone themselves tonight; the meal truly had been a feast for the gods and he was sure Cassie would love the offerings he was bringing her. Her plate was heaped full of all sorts of delicacies that he had picked especially for her.
He had news for her tonight; she was going to be released into a rehabilitation center in three days. Her progress was remarkable and Georgio was so proud of how hard she had worked, how well she had followed his instructions to get better. So many patients with her type of injury only saw the worst of it; Cassie pushed through that and embraced recovery, even the parts that weren’t so great. Her patience for what was happening to her body was incredible; she rarely showed her fear or annoyance at what was happening to her. Occasionally though he had caught a bit of embarrassment over something and he thought it was a delightful treat to see her green eyes darken and the rosy blush sweep over her beautiful face.
He sat at the stoplight grinning like an idiot until someone behind him honked their horn, reminding him to pay attention. He was eager to get to the hospital to see her, couldn’t wait in fact. He gripped the steering wheel a bit tighter and pulled his attention back to the street when his tires spun a bit as he took off from a stop light.
Snap out of it Georgio!
He could see the hospital up ahead; the lights in the room of the buildings glowing in the darkness like a beacon, guiding him in. He pulled into the spot with his name on it in the doctor’s parking area and grabbed one of the plates of food to take up to Cassie. It was raining all out now and he wished he had an umbrella in the car but decided to just make a run for it after he pushed the button to lock the doors. He dashed across the walking area between the garage and hospital, careful not to drop the plate. It was covered with foil so he knew the food was protected although the same couldn’t be said for him. He smiled ruefully as he shook raindrops out of his hair and swiped a hand down his face to get as much off as he could.
“Good evening Dr. Gorman!”
Georgio looked up to see Eula Bright sitting at the information desk. She was one of the Red Cross volunteers who manned the desk to help visitors find their way around the confusing maze of hospital hallways and buildings.
"Good evening Eula. How are you this evening?”
“Dryer than you, apparently. Can I get you some paper towels to dry off a bit with?” she asked, smiling as raindrops trickled down his jacket and dripped onto the carpet.
“No, I’ll be fine.” He looked down at the floor and grinned before he laughed as he added, “the floor is pretty wet though. But it will get wetter as more folks come in this evening I’m sure! See you later.” He waved as he headed to the elevator bank and punched the up arrow button.
“Yes, I’m sure that’s true,” she murmured as he disappeared into the sliding doors.
Cassie had been restless all afternoon and evening. She shifted in the bed, thrilling to the fact as she watched her legs slide along under the covers. Even though she was stiff and her muscles ached like crazy, it was worth it just to be able to move them around a bit.
She adjusted the level of the bed again, sitting it up farther so that she could see outside her window. It was dark outside, but she heard rain coming down and listened to the toneless musical interlude the raindrops hitting the window made. She couldn’t see it, but she still smiled. It was fall in Kansas, her favorite time of year.
Cassie loved the trees as they wore their autumn cloaks; scarlet and yellow, brown and orange, the colors blending in the trees as the wind stirred them until they lost their tenacious grip and floated to the ground, or wherever the four winds took them. When they were kids she and Sarah would spend hours raking them into huge piles and then diving into them, coming up covered in bits of leaves and laughing like idiots.
Autumn meant hayrack rides and bonfires; toasted hot dogs and marshmallows, long walks in the park and cool, crisp air. How she loved snuggling in front of the fire, a cup of hot chocolate in hand listening to music and relaxing.
This autumn would be a bit different though she knew; this fall meant basically learning how to walk all over again and climbing stairs, doing all the ordinary things that we take for granted. She thought to herself that it was probably a good thing that toddlers learned how to do it when they were so young because worrying about it could drive a person crazy. Not that she felt like it was a long stretch for her.
She definitely felt crazy; crazy about a certain doctor that is. She was like some silly teenager, or might as well have been as often as she thought about him. All day long, each day she wondered when he would come in to see her; how she looked, if she had made any more progress for him to check out. She yearned to see him as he smiled at her, happy that she had passed another milestone. As long as he was her doctor she knew she could do anything – he was the best motivation in the world she decided.
Just then she heard a soft knock on the door and sat up a bit straighter, hoping it was Georgio. She was disappointed when Christine, the night nurse stepped into the room rolling the cart with her that held the charts and computer terminal.
“Hey there, Cassie!” Christine chirped, obviously in a good mood. “How are you doing tonight?”
“Hi Christine,” Cassie said, dipping her head down in the hopes that Christine wouldn’t notice the look of disappointment that streaked across her face. “I’m great, fine as frog hair, as a friend of my dad’s always says!”
“Fine as frog hair?” Christine laughed. “That’s one I’ve never heard before.” She grabbed the blood pressure cuff behind the bed and wrapped it around Cassie’s arm and started pumping the bulb up to inflate it.
Cassie lay still as the nurse took her blood pressure and waited while the notation was made in her chart. She was answering a few questions when there was another knock on the door and Georgio walked in.
He grinned as he saw Cassie sitting up in bed, patiently answering Christine’s questions. He held up the covered plate so that Cassie could see it and waited as Christine made a few more notations before asking her how Cassie was doing.
“She’s fine as frog hair doctor,” she quoted and grinned at his confused look. She shrugged and added, “Ask her!”
Cassie laughed out loud as Christine wheeled the cart towards the door. “Cassie, do you need anything else?” She looked at the plate of food that Georgio was unwrapping and inhaled deeply. “Ooh, smells like you are in for a treat! Just holler if you want something, okay?” She pulled the door closed behind her, leaving Cassie and Georgio alone in the room.
Georgio raised a quizzical eyebrow and said, “I’m almost afraid to ask, but what did she mean by that?” He grinned as he tilted the plate so that Cass could see the goodies that awaited her.
“Ooh, that looks and smells so good! I can’t wait!” She reached for the fork that Georgio was holding and he pulled it away, teasing her.
“Uh uh, not until you tell me the joke!” He watched her lower lip stick out in a slight pout and was shocked to realize that it made her look about 10 years old; shocked even more to realize that he wanted to kiss her, so bad in fact his mouth practically watered.
His eyes were sparkling as he teased her and one corner of his mouth was turned up slightly in a grin. She could see a bit of his beautiful white teeth and leaned forward a tiny bit, only stopping herself before she puckered up for a kiss! Geez Cass. She laid back down and eye-balled the fork and the plate sitting on the table. This guy was seriously trying to keep her from that delicious feast that was only 11 inches from her? Get real! She resisted the urge to growl.
His eyes went to the plate of food, then darted back to her face playfully. He tilted his head a bit and said, “Uh uh,” and waved a finger at her. “The joke?”
Cassie rolled her eyes in surrender; she knew she couldn’t grab the plate before he could so she said, “No joke really. It’s just a phrase a friend of my dad’s used to say.” She shrugged nonchalantly. “NOW, may I please have my fork?” She batted her eyes at him and grinned.
“Hm, sounds fishy to me, but okay.” He scooped a bit of hummus onto a piece of fresh pita bread and held it out to her. She leant forward and opened her mouth and as he popped the bite into her mouth his finger inadvertently brushed her lip.
Cassie jerked her head back feeling as if a bit of electricity had nipped at her. She closed her mouth and felt the tingle still on her lip. For a moment she couldn’t even chew, so lost in the sensation she felt.
Georgio likewise was feeling a few tingles of his own. His first impulse was to stick that lucky finger into his mouth because her mouth had touched it. He stared at it, not even noticing Cassie’s reaction. He brought it half-way to his mouth before stopping himself and a blush rose up his face. He wasn’t sure he had ever had a reaction quite like that before. He looked up at Cassie only to catch her eyeing his finger as well.
Cassie blinked and suddenly realized that he was staring at her. She began to chew the bite of food, but couldn’t have told him what it was; it might as well have been cardboard. Finally she swallowed and licked her lips.
Which almost was Georgio’s undoing, unbeknownst to Cass. The sight of that pink tongue on her full coral-colored lips made sitting down suddenly a bit uncomfortable. He almost stood up and then realized that would be worse so he just hoped she didn’t look down at his lap.
Who would have thought watching her eat could be such a sensual experience?
He realized that he was still holding the fork and he hastily laid it down on the tray table where she could reach it. “Shall, uh, would you like a coke or something to go with your dinner?” he asked to distract her.
She grabbed the fork, staring at it for a moment before answering. “No, I have water here, if I need it.” She took a bite of the spanakopita and chewed slowly, relishing the flavor of the spinach and cheese pie. “Um, this is fabulous! I don’t suppose your mother would like to come and work for me in my business would she?”
A slow grin spread across his face as he had a visual of his mother working for Cassie. The word ‘anarchy’ rose in his mind and he laughed and then had to explain why.
“SO, you’re telling me that she would take over the whole shebang huh?” she said with a grin as she scooped up some mousaka. The flavors were delicately balanced; fresh and delicious. She had never had any better.
“In no time at all, I promise you! But I’ll tell her you enjoyed her cooking. She’ll love your forever!”
“That’s awesome but will she spill her secret recipes?” she asked impudently.
“Maybe after we’ve been married for a few years!” As soon as he said it he realized what he had just said and wanted to crawl under the bed.
Great Georgio, way to scare her to death!
Cassie almost choked on her bite of keftedes, a type of Greek meatball. She hastily swallowed and grabbed her glass of water, bending her head to drink from the straw which also helped to hide how red her face was.
Married? He sees us married someday? The thought made her stomach do flip-flops, happy flip-flops.
They both choose to ignore the remark and Cassie took another bite of the mousaka. Georgio thought frantically of something, anything to change the subject. Anything…
“What’s this?” Cassie asked, pointing to something on her plate.
Georgio smiles, delighted with the distraction. “That is patatopita. It is a type of potato, um pie I guess is the word. It was my Yia Yia’s specialty.”
Cass popped a forkful into her mouth and savored the heavenly flavor. “Mm, it’s delicious. And a Yia Yia is?” she prompted, taking another bite.
“Grandmother. A Yia Yia is a grandmother. She died almost 15 years ago.” He said it sadly and Cassie could tell that he loved her a great deal.
“Tell me about her?” she asked. She listened to Georgio talk while she ate the remainder of her meal, finishing with baklava. She was a sticky mess after eating the flaky pastry layers with nuts and honey, but it was worth it.
Georgio smiled, noticing her trying to wipe her hands on a tissue. He went to the bathroom and wet a washcloth and brought it back to her. When she reached for it he shook his head and used it to gently wipe her mouth and then took her hand in his and softly wiped each one, slowly stroking each finger until it was free of the honey.
They were both mesmerized by the warmth of each other’s hands, the tingles that quickly spread up their arms. This time Georgio didn’t pull away. He took a deep breath and said, “You know Cassie, I have some really good news for you!”
“You do? What?” she asked, excited to hear whatever it was.
“Well, in three days you are going to be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital. You’ll start physical therapy to get you back on your feet. It will be exciting for you, I promise. Of course, it will also be tiring, but the end of your dependence on other people taking care of you will come quicker than you can imagine.”
Am I a burden to him, being his patient? Is he tired of having to take care of me like this?
Humiliation spread through her like wildfire. She had done the very best she could, honestly she had. She had improved so much quicker than everyone said she would, but was it still not quick enough for him? She wanted to pull the covers up over her head and cry.
“And, one more thing and this is the best part – you’ll no longer be my patient Cassie!” He grinned like an idiot as he said it. He would finally be free to be more than her doctor, he would be a friend and hopefully a lover sometime soon. He couldn’t wait for that time, although he knew that it was likely to be many months before she was ready for that part of the relationship. That was even saying that she wanted that.
He looked at her face then and saw it had blanched white and her lower lip was trembling. Huge tears started slipping down her small face, streaking her cheeks the way the rain had streaked his own earlier.
My God, what is wrong? Does she dislike me so much that she doesn’t want to see me anymore?
Georgio’s heart sunk with grief.
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.