Friday, October 29, 2010

The Next Chapter

Will be delayed for a few days!  So sorry, but I'm so behind since G-man and I got back from vacation.  Not only dealing with catching up at work but also with his back injury. 

It won't be too long though, I promise.  I'll have the post up next week.  Thanks so much for your patience everyone!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chapter Sixteen

Hi Everyone!  I am posting this a day early because I am leaving on vacation tomorrow.  I will be gone next week so there will be no post.  I will resume regular posts on Friday, October 29!

Playing with Fate…

Zeus had been pondering the problem of Pandora for weeks; why wouldn’t that silly girl just open the damn jar and prove him right! The girl was exemplifying the trustworthiness of womankind and Zeus knew better; women couldn’t be trusted. Even his darling Hera, as much as he hated to admit it would look out for herself first. And curious; she wrote the tablets on curiosity, always pushing for answers.

Hera was right about one thing though, what was called for was a bit of motivation on Pandora’s part; yes just the right incentive to prompt her into action. But what was that he wondered. In truth he didn’t know.

He sat tapping his fingers on the ornate arm rest of his mighty throne, lost in thought and oblivious to all around him. He had sent Dionysus, his light-hearted son who favored wine and forever frolicking with his friends the Satyrs to try and tempt Pandora with a bit of extra-marital activities, but alas, that failed. Dionysus was totally enchanted by the lovely and delightful Pandora but the woman was totally devoted to Epimetheus and would not be tempted. It seemed she had no Achilles heel that would provide the opening that Zeus needed.

Zeus banged his hand loudly on the arm rest and thunder rumbled across Olympus. Far below the people ran for cover, seeking shelter from what would surely be a fearful storm. Zeus laughed and tossed a few lightning bolts around too, just to provide further amusement. Finally Hera came to him to see what was bothering her wayward husband this time.

And wayward he was indeed. Just this morning she had caught him trying to get Heracles, his bastard son by a mere mortal woman, to suckle at her breast in an attempt to nourish the infant. She had thrust the child away, causing her breast milk to spill into the heaven’s creating the Milky Way. Served him right she decided as she watched as he scrambled to protect his progeny.

Zeus was a rascal and a philanderer, immoral and depraved but may the Gods help her, she loved him. She often watched from on high as he chased various women to spread his seed amongst the mortal and Gods alike. Hera didn’t have enough fingers and toes to count the numerous offspring of his infidelities. But she loved him still, her heart refusing to let go of him.

Pandora was vexing him greatly. Secretly, Hera was proud of the young woman who steadfastly refused to be tempted into opening the jar that she had been told NOT to open. But each day Zeus became more and more obsessed with the problem and Hera feared that they must find a solution soon, least he destroy all humankind.

Yes, they must soon find a solution…


Cassie enjoyed her meal that Georgio and his parents had brought her. As she tasted various bites of this and that she asked questions and complimented Eleni on the beautiful marriage of flavor of the dishes.

Georgio sat back and relaxed finally, watching the interaction between his mother and Cassie; he saw his father watching as well. His papi caught his eye and nodded approvingly. Georgio returned the nod and grinned broadly.

Cassie and his mother were getting along really well and Georgio let out a huge sigh of relief. Belinda and his mother had gotten along, but they were never close. Belinda had never quite fit in with the loud and noisy Gorman family. She had been a very quiet person and while passionate and outspoken about her causes she felt like a fish out of water with the Gorman’s. She went about her life in a calm manner, about as different from Georgio’s family as someone could be.

Cassie on the other hand was a person in motion, literally and figuratively. She was curious and inquisitive, always looking for answers. The sparkle in her eyes illustrated her love of life and made being around her so much fun. The one thing he had learned from her was that she seldom pulled her punches though; if she thought it she usually said it. She was however very sensitive to others and at least used some thought and tact before saying too much.

He loved and admired her passionate nature and couldn’t wait to discover the other side of Cassie, as a lover and a partner. That day could not come soon enough for him.

“Georgie?” He realized his mother had spoken to him and looked up to see all three of them watching him.

“Yes, I’m sorry; just uh, wool-gathering I guess. What did I miss?”

“You didn’t hear Cassie’s news?” his mom said, looking dismayed.

“I – I no, I didn’t. Cassie, please, what is your news?”

She grinned at him in sympathy, as if she had been reading his thoughts. “I just told your parents that I am being released on Monday Georgio.” She watched him as her words sank in.

“WHAT? When did you find out?” he asked as he jumped to his feet and then leant down to kiss her. He didn’t care if his parents were in the room, he was ecstatic. “You’re going home? Cassie darling, that is wonderful!”

She laughed, her eyes sparking merrily. “I just found out a couple of hours ago. I wanted to tell you in person, so I didn’t call. Monday morning I will be leaving this place. I’ll be going to stay with my parents,” she said, almost apologetically.

A brief moment of disappointment flitted across his face, but he hid it quickly. He knew that was how it needed to be for awhile, until she could comfortably and easily get around. And, it would possibly be a good obstacle to keep them apart, physically for a bit longer. He hated to admit that, but he knew it was true.

“That will be good for you. Your house has stairs Cassie and that would be too much for you to deal with for awhile. It won’t be forever,” he added as he saw a bit of sadness in her eyes because she realized as he did that it would keep them apart a bit longer. Still, they would have private time together and neither one could wait for that.

“Yes, such a good thing to be with family,” Eleni added. “And get some home cooking! My goodness you are practically wasted away to nothing here in this hospital!”

“El – Mama, I hate to tell you this but this is pretty natural for me. I’m one of those annoying people who just never gain any weight. But I’m sure going to enjoy better food, that’s for sure. And I hope lot’s more Greek cuisine!” she added.

“Of course my dear. I teach you how to cook Greek, real Greek food! You have to cook for my Yios!”

“Oh, I would love that Mama! It would make me very happy to learn.” She reached across the table top and laid her hand on top of Eleni’s, giving her hand a warm squeeze.

It brought tears to Eleni’s eyes; such a dear girl and she obviously made Georgio so happy. Yes, this was perfect for her yios! Suddenly she remembered the shawl she had brought to give to Cassie and reached for the bag that was sitting next to her on the floor. She handed the bag to Cassie with a smile and said, “For you!”

Cassie accepted the bag and looked at Georgio quizzically, as if to say, “For me?” and he nodded, a warm smile on his face. She opened the bag and took out a beautiful lace shawl. As she held it up she realized it wasn’t exactly lace, it was tatted, an old fashioned way of making lace. This was old, she could tell and she was over-whelmed by this beautiful gift.

“I love it. Thank you so much, but are you sure you want me to have it? I – I can tell that it is very old and I think it is tatted. It must have some type of significance to you.”

“Yes, it does and you have a very good eye Cassie. My mother made it; she loved to tat and she never sat idle, without her tatting in her lap. We all, the women in this family have shawls that she made; this one is for you.” She was sincere as she spoke and Cassie caught tears in her eyes.

This was significant; this woman was welcoming her into this family and Cassie felt awed by her generosity and caring. Cass felt a huge lump rise in her throat and swallowed a couple of times in an effort to push it back down so she could speak. Tears sprang to her eyes and finally found their way down her cheeks. She wiped them away with a fingertip and smiled at Eleni and Ronald who were both watching her. Georgio was holding her hand and lightly ran his thumb over the soft skin of her palm in an effort to help her compose her thoughts.

“I, um, I can’t tell you how much this means to me, to be given the special gift. I promise that I will cherish it and always hold it dear to me Mama. I don’t believe I’ve ever received something so special and personal from someone. Thank you.”

Eleni smiled through her own tears and kissed Cassie on the cheek again before standing. “Ronnie, I think it’s time we left these two to talk of private things. Georgie, you call your Mama soon okay? And bring Cassie to dinner very soon!”

Cassie and Georgio sat quietly as his parents left and the door closed. Georgio leaned back in his chair and held out his hand to Cassie. She came to him and he gently pulled her down onto his lap and held her close. For a few minutes they just held one another, each afraid to break the spell of the evening and the happiness and joy that they felt. Finally Georgio kissed her, a long and tender kiss full of passion and promises of the future. Cassie returned the kiss, giving herself to the moment and man she loved.


Monday dawned slowly, as far as Cassie was concerned anyway. She was ready to go by six, dressed and packed even though her parents weren’t due until nine. Georgio had a surgery scheduled that morning, but he called her to talk to her for a few minutes before he went in.

“Hi darling. Are you excited?” he asked.

Cassie could hear the sounds on the hospital in the background; someone speaking over an intercom and others talking around him. It was a sound she was getting very familiar with and she was perfectly okay with that. It was comforting to her to hear those sounds because it meant that Georgio was working and that someone else would get better because of that.

“Yes, I am so excited. I can’t wait to get out of here, you know? To just be at home, well, mom and dad’s but still home to me.”

“I know Cassie. And I can’t wait to see you tonight. Are you sure your parents don’t mind that I’m coming over this evening?” He didn’t want to seem too pushy but he needed to see her. He felt a tap on his should and one of his surgical nurses said, “Dr. Gorman, we’re ready.”

Cassie heard her words and said, “Hey, you need to go, I know. I’ll talk to you later, okay?”

“Yes, you will. I’ll call you this afternoon Cassie. Bye…”

Cass smiled and pushed the ‘end’ key on her phone. She sat back in the chair and put her feet up; there was nothing to do now but wait, impatiently.


Cassie looked out the car window on the short trip to her parent’s house, the house she had grown up in. They passed Sarah’s old house on the way, a block away and Cassie saw that the pin oaks were still holding on their leaves. Sarah and Cassie both loved the old pin oak trees; they were always the last to lose their leaves with it often being past Christmas before they were completely shed of their colorful cloaks. Sarah and Cass would rake those leaves up into huge piles and then dive in, scattering them to the four winds, laughing until they were practically senseless.

At her parents’ house she had three steps to climb to get into the house and it was really easy. Cassie couldn’t help but to be a bit relieved about that. Her parents house was a large rambling 1930’s bungalow that just felt like home to her. She waited while her dad unlocked the front door and she smiled as she heard Max, her Shih Tzu who was barking excitedly. But what was that she wondered? Was there another dog in there too?

The door opened and Max rushed straight to her and she bent over and picked him up, scratching him behind his ears and smelling his fur; he’d had a bath just for this occasion. She heard a low growl and looked down to see a black and white Shih Tzu at her feet, acting none too pleased.

She knelt down and put Max on the floor and said, “Well hi there! Who are you?”

Her mom scooped the other dog up and said, “This is Cinder, short for Cinderella. Max seemed lonely so I thought he needed a companion.”

Cassie’s dad snorted and held back a laugh with a cough. “Read that as, she is worried about when Max goes home because she has come to like having the little guy around. So, she got HIM a companion!”

Cassie held out her hand so that Cinder could sniff it and talked soothingly to her. “Hi there Cinder, aren’t you the pretty girl? I’ll bet you are the little princess around here aren’t you?”

Cinder cocked her head to one side and decided that Cassie might not be too bad; after all she did recognize and acknowledge that she was a princess. She gave Cassie’s hand a brief lick of acceptance and then struggled to get down on the floor with Max.

They both ran to the couch and hopped up on it, curling up together in a familiar manner and were soon asleep. Cassie’s dad muttered, “That’s all they ever do, sleep and eat and”

“ED!” Cassie’s mom said, stopping him before he finished the last word of a sentence she heard way too often. “They’re just dogs, they do those things but we don’t need to hear about it all the time!”

Cass smiled at the familiarity of it all and pulled her coat off. Ed Banks took it and hung it up in the closet along with his and Alice’s’ as well. Cassie sat down on the couch and both dogs looked up at her since she had disturbed their slumber. She sat on the opposite end from them and Max immediately got up and moved next to her. She started stroking his back and he sighed and snuggled closer to her. Cinder had raised her head and stared at her friend who had left her. Cassie smiled at her and patted the couch next to Max, who was already snoring. Cinder debated for a moment and finally curiosity won out; that and a need for the warmth provided by Max’s body. Soon, she was settled next to him and snoring as well.

As Cassie’s mom brought her a cup of coffee and a piece of one of Cassie’s favorite coffee cakes and she looked around her and smiled, content.

It was good to be home!

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, October 8, 2010

Chapter Fifteen

Mother knows best…

“Georgie,” he heard his mother say on the other end of the phone. “It’s time you came for dinner again, with your papi and I this weekend. You come Saturday night, okay?”

No ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’, just right to the point - come to dinner. It was true he hadn’t been over for a few weeks, but he had been really busy with work and when he wasn’t at work he was with Cassie. He’d spend every moment with her if he could and he had wanted to see her Saturday evening, maybe bring her something special for dinner and they could just spend some quiet time together. It didn’t matter what they did, he just wanted to see her. He sighed and then smiled, knowing that he couldn’t disappoint his mother.

“Alright Mom, I’ll be there. But could we sort of make it an early evening?”

“Is something the matter Georgie? What’s wrong, Yios?”

Georgio sighed; no matter how old he was he would always be her ‘little boy’. Sometimes that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but right now it was pushing it. He was tired; he’d been in surgery for 14 hours today and hadn’t had a chance to see Cassie. He was going to hit the shower and then call her before crawling into what he had come to think of as a very lonely bed.

“Just tired Mama, just tired. It’s been a very long day!”

He could hear her clicking her tongue, a sure sign of displeasure. “You be a good boy and go to bed Georgie! You need your rest! We’ll see you Saturday, okay?”

“Okay, I’ll be there.” He heard the phone click on the other end and then the dial tone before he hung up the receiver. As he made his way to the bathroom his clothes came off, piece by piece and he was so tired he didn’t even bother with them. He was normally pretty neat, but tonight it just didn’t matter.

After a practically scalding shower he began to feel a bit better; aching muscles became flexible again and he thought he might just survive. It was only 10 p.m. , maybe he should run out to see Cassie instead of calling. Her smiling face always made him feel better. He decided to give her a call first just in case she was asleep. If she was he could just go and peek in on her; it certainly wouldn’t be the first time he had just stood and watched her sleep. He did that a few times while she was in the hospital and he loved watching her, so serene while she slept. She often made soft little sighs and he hoped that meant that she was having a happy dream. It made her seem so much more vulnerable and more than once he had had to fight himself to keep from going to her and gathering her up in his arms and holding her close.

Georgio sat down in the den and put his feet up and waited impatiently for his call to Cassie to go through. He was calling her cell phone because the desk at the rehab cut off incoming phone calls to the rooms at 10:00 o’clock. Just when he thought the call would go to voice mail she answered. He heard her mutter ‘damn’ as she tried to turn the sound on the television down.

“Hi! Are you just getting home?” she asked, suddenly feeling like a teenager. She licked her lips and pushed her hair back from her face. It was starting to grow out and she decided to let it and see if she liked it long.

“Yep. Fourteen hours of surgery today. I’m sorry I didn’t make it by to see you!”

“Hey, that’s okay Georgio, I understand. Truthfully, I’m kind of tired myself. I had a hard day at the workout barn today!” She laughed, but it was a wry laugh because her words were very true. It had been grueling. One the other hand though all the upper body strength training was making her boobs a bit perkier and that never hurt anything!

He laughed when he heard her say ‘workout barn’, which was what she always called the physical therapy room. It was huge and rather like a barn he supposed, but leave it to Cassie to coin such a ridiculous phrase for it.

“So, are you all tucked into bed?” The image of that made him groan; what he wouldn’t give to be tucked into bed with her.

For several heartbeats she was silent and he knew that she was thinking the same thing. Their need for one another was growing stronger every single day. It was two weeks before Thanksgiving now and he had hopes that she would be out of the rehab before too much longer. She was growing stronger every single day and walking farther distances each day on the track. Yes, he hoped she would be going home soon. Not that it would change things on a physical level for them, but just to have some private time, to sit next to her and hold her close would be such a blessing.

“Why don’t you come and see for yourself? I’m wearing this sexy little red lace number; I think you’ll like it!” she teased. She looked down at the flannel pajamas she was actually wearing and a crooked grin spread across her face.

Oh, if only it were the red lace!

“Red lace huh? Tell me about it?” he teased right back. He knew that she wasn’t wearing any such thing but he had absolutely no problem imagining it. He felt himself start to grow hard with that thought and he added, “Okay, so maybe you’d better not!”

They were both silent for a moment and finally Georgio said, “Hey, I’m going to my parents for early dinner on Saturday. Would you like me to bring you a plate of food when I leave there?”

“Well, you don’t have to go out of your way Georgio,” she said.

“I’m going to come and see you anyway so you might as well reap the benefits of my mom’s cooking while you’re at it!”

“Okay, it sounds great.” She yawned and tried to muffle the sound with her hand, but Georgio heard it anyway.

“Hey, I think you need to get some rest. I know that they are pushing you really hard so you can get out of there. So sleep well Cassie. I’ll see you tomorrow, I promise!”

Another, louder yawn slipped out and she laughed before saying reluctantly, “Okay. I’m sorry I’m so tired. Tomorrow then?”

“Yes, tomorrow Cassie.”

I love you…

“Goodnight Georgio.”

I love you…

They both hung up their phones, the words left unsaid between them. But they both knew and they both felt a bit happier because of it.


Every muscle in Georgio’s body protested when he got out of the chair to head to bed. On the way he did manage to scoop up his discarded clothes that he had left lying around and he threw them into the hamper in the bathroom. He yanked the comforter and sheet down and sat down on the edge of the bed while he set the alarm for the next morning.

After he settled into the bed his thoughts returned to Cassie. Honestly, he felt like he was some kind of horny teenager where she was concerned; he couldn’t get her out of his head. He imagined her in some kind of sexy red lace nightie and it drove him positively wild with desire. He was hard and aching for her no matter which way he laid in the bed he couldn’t get comfortable. He wouldn’t have felt any comfort to know that 4 miles away in her hospital bed Cassie was having the same problem.

Sleep took awhile to claim them both that night.


Georgio had Saturday rounds to make at the hospital before he headed off to his parents house. He hoped that his mom had meant it when she said it was just him and Mom and Dad. He wanted a quiet dinner before he went to Cassie’s. He adored the nieces and nephews, but tonight he just wasn’t up for it.

As soon as he walked through the door at his parents’ house he smelled the aromas of home and the past. Eleni had made Souvlaki, Georgio’s childhood favorite and poached pears in a sugared wine sauce. The fragrance of the spices immediately set his taste buds on overdrive.

“Mama, Papi, I’m here!” he called out. He took his coat off and hung it in the closet by the front door.

“In here, Yios!” he heard his mother say. He made his way into the kitchen and saw his mother at the stove, stirring the sauce for the pears. His dad was setting at the table reading a medical journal.

Georgio kissed his mother’s soft cheek and smelled the Chanel No 5 that she had worn ever since he could remember. That and the face powder she favored as well. It was intrinsically her ‘smell’ and he loved it. It meant that all was right with the world.

“Sit down, Georgie. Ronnie, get your hard working son a glass of retsina!”

When Ronald Gorman started to rise Georgio laid a gentle hand on his shoulder and said, “Mama, I got it. Sit down Papi!”

He poured a small glass and took it to the table to sit and chat with his dad. He was reading an article about advances in the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease and Ronald shook his head and said “It’s such a shame some of this treatment is just coming out now; it really could have helped your yia yia.”

“I know Papi. But there is a least hope for the future, you know? For others, that is.”

His mom started to set the dinner dishes out and Georgio got up to help her set the table while she dished up the food. It looked even better than it smelled and he couldn’t wait to eat.

As they chatted through dinner Georgio said, “Is there going to be some leftovers Mama?”

Eleni looked at him as if he had lost his mind and said, “What, you think I don’t feed you enough? Why wouldn’t I make enough for leftovers? Look at you, you’re practically skin and bones ,Yios!”

He laughed and said, “No, it’s not for me. I thought I’d take a plate to a friend of mine; she loves Greek food.”

“She? Your friend is a ‘she’?” she asked, on the alert.

Oh God, what have I done? Stupid Georgio, really stupid...

“Um, yes, yes she is.”

“Well, why didn’t you bring her to dinner with you? What’s the matter with you? Didn’t I teach you any manners?” Eleni looked ashamed for a moment before she started to speak again. “We always have plenty. Why wouldn’t you bring her to meet us? Are you ashamed of us?”

Georgio mentally shook his head. His mom always went for the guilt approach and made him feel like crap. “No Mama, that’s not it – she’s in the hospital.”

“The hospital,” his dad said, jumping into the conversation. “What’s wrong with her?”

“Well, it’s actually the rehab hospital now, but she was in an accident a few months ago and had an incomplete spinal injury. No surgery, but I treated her while she was at the hospital. Now she’s, um, just a friend.”

“A friend? I can most certainly see that she is not ‘just a friend’ Georgio!”

Uh oh, she used Georgio instead of Georgie. She was now pissed…

“Well?” she asked, waiting for an explanation. “Who is she? Is she Greek?”

He smiled then and shook his head. “No Mama, she is not Greek. Her name is Cassie Banks.”

Eleni’s eyebrows raised a half an inch at his admission. It was not really of importance, but still she could hope. The point was that Georgio was interested in this woman and that was a good thing – the best thing actually. “So you are going to take her a plate of my food? Well good. If she’s in the hospital I’m sure she is fairly starving. I’ve tasted the food they serve there; it’s not fit for people to eat! You should have mentioned this before and I would have made sure she had decent food!”

“It’s okay Mama, I’ve brought her plates of your food before and I bring her other things as well, so do her parents and other friends. She owns a catering business here and she knows good food. She thinks yours is outstanding!” Butter her up a bit, Georgio decided.

“Well, I’m going to get her a plate ready to go and then we are going to take it to her! I must meet this young woman, Georgie.”

Oh God, NOT what he had intended! So not what he had wanted…

“No Mama, that’s not necessary. I’ll take it to her, it’s chilly out and I know how the cold bother’s your arthritis.” Try a tactical defense…

“Nonsense! Ronnie, help me get these dishes into the dishwasher. No, wait, Georgie, you help your papi and I will get the plate ready for Cassie. Come on, hurry up.”

Ronald Gorman looked at his son with pity in his eyes and a grin on his face. He shrugged as if to say, “What will be will be, Son – go with it!”

Georgio wondered if he could drag out loading the dishwasher but one look at his mother’s determined face told him she wasn’t going to put up with any nonsense or delaying tactics. Better to just get it over. Still, it pissed him off each time he heard his father chuckle as he rinsed a dish.

The chore done they were ready to go. His mother had packed a huge plate full of food for Cassie and also one of her prize shawls that her mother had made. She wrapped that up as well and they went outside to get into the car. Georgio said, “Mama, Papi, you might want to take your own car; I’ll probably stay much later than you will, so I can talk with Cassie.”

Ronald nodded and pushed the button to raise the garage door. Eleni stood for a moment, debating whether or not to just get in Georgio’s car. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust him, but she didn’t want to let him out of her sight. He had a woman in his life and she wasn’t going to let it go!

She finally climbed into the front seat of his car and held the bag that contained Cassie’s dinner on her lap. Georgio sighed, he had wanted to call Cassie on the way to the hospital to warn her they were coming; she might have been able to desert ship and save herself.

The ride to the hospital was fairly quiet; Eleni asked a few more questions about Cassie, all of which Georgio answered. At the rehab hospital they all walked in and Georgio’s heart started to beat a bit faster. Partly because he was going to see Cassie and partly because he was going to see Cassie with his parents!

At her door he knocked softly and heard her say come in. He opened the door, an apologetic look on his face and was greeted with the most beautiful sight; his love dressed in sexy black lounging pajama’s, her hair pinned up and make up on. She looked breath-taking!

“Cassie, you look beautiful.”

Her face lit up, glowing with pleasure at his words. Then she saw the people following behind him and looked puzzled. She thought they must have the wrong room, but Georgio sort of shook his head and so she waited to see who they were.

“Cassie, may I present my mother and father, Eleni and Ronald Gorman. Mama, Papi, this is Cassandra Banks. We call her Cassie.”

Eleni all but threw the bag with dinner and the shawl in it at Ronald and made a dash for Cassie. She bent to kiss her, once, twice on each cheek and she smiled her joy at meeting Cassie.

Cassie immediately recognized that smile; it was plastered on Georgio’s handsome face. She didn’t know what was happening, but it was okay. She instinctively liked his parents; how could she not when they raised such a wonderful man. Ronald set the bag down and greeted her as well, sans the kisses. He was a handsome man and she thought she could see exactly what Georgio would look like thirty years from now.

“Um, please, sit down. Here, at the table. Georgio, maybe you could get another chair from down the hall, please?” she asked. She could smell the delectable aroma coming from the bag and she couldn’t wait to dig in, even if she did have company.

“Here Cassie, please sit down and let me get your dinner out for you. My goodness you are tiny little thing aren’t you? Shame on Georgie for not telling me about you sooner! You need good food, not like the cardboard stuff they must feed you here. You no worry, I will make sure you have plenty of good food from now on, okay?”

“I – I thank you so much Mrs. Gorman. I love your cooking!”

“No Mrs. Gorman, you can call me Mama, okay?”

Georgio walked back into the room just in time to hear this last phrase. He wanted to turn around and run out of the room but Cassie caught his eye and winked.

It was going to be alright!

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 the permission of the author.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Chapter Fourteen

Catching Up…

Sarah knocked on the door to Cassie’s room and pushed it open when she heard Cassie’s “Come in!”

“Oooh,” Cassie exclaimed, her eyes bright and sparkling as she eyed the take out bag from Bangkok. “What do we have?”

“The appetizer platter of course, spicy fried rice, shrimp panang and the spicy beef stir fry you like! Think I have enough food here?” Sarah laughed, setting it all out on her tray table which was pulled up to a chair where she was sitting. Sarah pulled up another chair opposite of it and dug through the bag for looking chopsticks and napkins.

“Hey, where’s your mom?” Cassie asked, taking her first mouthful of spring roll and making a blissful face. “Mm!”

“She went to get her hair done. Actually, I think she just wanted to give us some time alone, which was cool I thought. How was therapy this morning? Yesterday you looked wiped-out!”

“It was better this morning, but I’ll be tired like that after this afternoon’s therapy. They have me on the parallel bars walking, and that just zaps my energy. That’s why I’ve got some time to rest today, before they have me do that again.”

“Um, I’m sure that is tiring,” Sarah answered, taking a bite of the shrimp panang, mixed with a little of the spicy fried rice.

“Yeah, you know you don’t think about things like that—getting tired just by walking a few steps I mean. I never had any idea it would be like this. We walk around all our lives, so who would think that being flat on your back for just a few weeks would make your body totally lose its strength and muscle control. It just amazes me really.”

“I’m just so grateful that you are recovering so quickly, Cassie. I know that’s not always the case with spinal cord injuries…” Sarah trailed off. She thought about people who never recovered and offered yet another hasty prayer of thanks to God for Cassie’s ability to recover.

“Yeah, it really could have been totally different.” She was thoughtful for a minute while she took a bite of the beef, which made her tongue tingle from the heat. “Whoa mama! This is hot! But very, very good,” she grinned, wiping fake sweat off of her brow.

Sarah giggled and then asked, “So, how is Dr. Gorgeous?”

Cassie gave a muffled snort and then grinned wickedly. “Well, he’s hotter than this beef!”

“Cassie!” Sarah exclaimed, “What have you been doing?” She tried to sound indignant or outraged, but it didn’t come off well and Cass called her on it.

“You better let Adam do the acting, okay, because you really stink at it!” she laughed.

“Okay, okay I’m not an actress. I get the point. But…back to the point which was Dr. Gorgeous! C’mon on Cass, spit it out!” Her laughing abruptly stopped and Sarah realized that there was something serious about Cass and Dr. Gorman and whatever it was, she hoped she didn’t get hurt.

“He’s, uh, I’m – uh, I’ve never known anyone like him. He is so dedicated to what he does, but every once in a while he breaks out of the doctor mode and just talks, like, like a normal guy. I don’t have a crush on the doctor part of him, really I don’t. I mean, people say that often time’s patients develop crushes like that. He helped me so much as a doctor, and I am so very grateful, but my feelings are different than that,” she told Sarah, utterly serious.

“How different Cassie? Tell me,” Sarah urged.

“We talk about things that don’t have anything to do with my injury or recovery. Like when he comes to see me now, I mean he always asks how I feel or what I’ve done, but he really isn’t my doctor any longer, those are just questions that get him here I think. Mostly we talk about who we are, what we do, our families. I love hearing about his – his dad was in WW II and was in Greece, where he met Eleni, Georgio’s mother. They had a whirlwind romance and he married her. Then it took almost 2 years to get her into the states, but they finally succeeded when she was pregnant with their first child. Georgio is the youngest of 10 kids!”

“So, his given name is Georgio then? And he’s single?”

“Yes, his name is Georgio and he was married, but she died almost 7 years ago. They didn’t have any children; she had ovarian cancer, before she died from it. It sounds very sad, doesn’t it?”

“Yes. I would imagine that something like that is all the more frustrating when you are a doctor and can’t really do anything. So what else do you know about him?” Sarah prodded.

“Well, he’s 44 and as I said, the baby of the family. His oldest brother is almost 61. Both his parents are still living and spend about half of the year in Greece and half here. He has 5 brothers and 4 sisters and dozens of nieces and nephews and he dotes on all of them,” she said as she was finishing her meal. “His mother and sisters are fabulous cooks. He’s brought me food a couple of times. Delish!” She leaned back in the chair and laid her hand on her tummy, which even though she has been lying around for weeks, was as flat as ever. But then again, Cass never gains any weight Sarah thought. If you see her from behind, you would think she is a high school girl she is so lithe and petite.

“So, you seem to know him pretty well?” Sarah asked, but she already knew the answer.

“Yes Sarah, worry wart! Since I’m here in the rehab hospital, I am no longer his patient” she said, a smile spreading across her face.

“Hm,” Sarah said, digesting this information. “So, if you are no longer a patient, you are a ….?”

“I, am, well, we’re getting to know each other and we’ll see, okay? We have kissed though!”

“Oh my, I guess this is just all such a surprise Cass,” Sarah tried to keep a smile on her face, but it was hard for her; concern for Cassie was vividly entrenching itself in her head. Cassie got caught up so easily in romance and got hurt so often. She opened her heart and invariably some jerk trampled all over it; Sarah prayed this was different.

It wasn’t exactly that Cassie fell in love all the time; in fact Sarah wondered if it ever had come to that after Walt. She just tried to fall in love, thinking that would make everything better. There was something about all this though that made Sarah think that it had actually happened and while she could see very well how Cass felt it told her nothing about the good doctor. What did he think?

“Sarah, I see how concerned you are; I don’t blame you really, given my past history. But he is different; he feels the same as I do. We have months to figure it all out; we’re not rushing anything especially while I’m in here.”

“Yeah, isn’t there some rule about doctors and patients?”

“I think so but you have to understand that I am not his patient any longer and nothing was discussed about this until that was a fact. Although I knew how I felt before that and so did he I think.” She reached across the table and said, “One day at a time Sarah, I promise.”

Sarah nodded and tried to relax; she could only pray for the best for Cassie. She decided to switch gears and said, “SO, would you like to hear about California?”

“Absolutely! Tell me all about everything!”

“It was fantastic Cass! I was so scared to meet them all; I was afraid Tamara would be some glamorous Hollywood type and she wasn’t at all! I mean, she sort of looks like it, but she’s not.”

“What does she look like?”

“Tall, thin, a beautiful olive complexion and long, dark hair. Really graceful and lovely, but she is so down to earth and nice. So are his parents; his father looks just like Adam, only older so it is easy to see how he will look in 20 years of so! His mom looks just like Julie Andrews, I kid you not! I felt so at home with them all.”

“Wow, Tamara sounds really intimidating.”

“Yeah, but you know what? She was nervous to meet me!”

Both of Cassie’s eyebrows arched upwards in surprise, but her words made Sarah laugh. “And so she should be! Aren’t brunettes always jealous of stunning blondes?”

Sarah kind of looked down at herself and shook her head. “I don’t know about that. But we got on really well. She’s funny and really put me at ease. You’ll actually like her whenever you have a chance to meet her. The best part of the trip was the boys though!”

Cassie watched Sarah’s face light up at the mention of the boys; she was enchanted Cass could tell.

“If Gerald is the older version of Adam the boys are the younger, dark curly hair and dimples. They are both very sweet and they adore their father. Geoff is the younger and he took pity on me and sort of showed me the California ropes, so to speak. He is adorable and they are both really accepting of their parents relationships with other partners. Can you guess who Tamara is living with?”

“Nope, no idea. Tell me! Someone famous?”

“Yes! Mark Bonner!”

Cassie thought for a moment, trying to place the name. Then it hit her! “Mark Bonner, the director?”

“Yes. He is really nice as well. These people totally blew my image of Hollywood. Tamara is a set designer, does the sets for many famous movies including River of Doubt.”

“So do they live in a mansion? I know you said Adam doesn’t.”

“No, they don’t either.” She laughed and added, “It was totally surprising,. The surprise birthday party was wonderful and so was the day at the beach, the next day.”

“Oh God, I forgot about that. Tell me - were you kind to Adam when you guys played softball?”

“Sure. We played girls against boys. We only beat them by a dozen runs or so!” She laughed long and hard over that because the look on Adam’s face was so precious. Of course, when he made her ‘pay’ later on, well, that was pretty good too!

“Cassie, Adam’s house sets right on the beach and the view is spectacular! It is three levels and is built into the side of the cliff. You come in on the ground level which is actually the top level of the house. The next level down is where the bedrooms are and then the lower level is the kitchen, dining room, patio room, that kind of stuff. The patio room leads out to the patio of course. He has a pool even and an outside hot tub and a kitchen to die for. It turns out Adam is somewhat of a gourmet chef.”

“No kidding? He can cook too?” Cassie grinned thinking she might actually have something in common with him after all. And since Sarah hardly cooked this was a lucky break for her.

“He is an amazing cook. He made scrambled eggs here one morning that were the best I’d ever had. When I asked him about them he said they were his mother’s recipe and that if he told me he’d have to kill me, so I’d have to ask her. Well, I did and you know what the ‘special’ ingredient turned out to be? Guess! Just take a guess!”

Cassie laughed out loud and said, “I have no idea! What is the ‘special’ ingredient?”

“Wine, white fizzy wine to be exact!”

“Whose smuggling wine in here?” a new voice asked. Georgio strolled into the room with vase of more of the deep pink roses. They had had to throw out the first ones the day before and Cassie had felt so bummed about it. He was also grinning broadly when he saw that Cassie was apparently enjoying her visitor.

He sat the vase down and turned to Sarah, offering his hand. “Sarah, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she answered watching him as he bent down and quickly kissed Cassie. His eyes drank her in and Sarah unconsciously let out a breath that she had been emotionally holding. He really did care about Cass; things suddenly seemed so much clearer. “Dr. Gorman, how are you?”

“Please Sarah, call me Georgio! And I’m much better now that I’m here.” He pulled a second chair up to join them and said to Cassie, “How are you today? How did your aqua therapy go this morning?” He held her hand and lightly stroked it with his thumb.

“Alright, Georgio then.” She took in the sight of the two of them, how connected they were. It was amazing to Sarah to watch; she had never seen Cassie connect with a man like this. It made Sarah miss Adam so much more.

Georgio looked at Sarah then and they stared at one another for a moment; something unspoken flowed between them. Perhaps a promise of devotion for the woman who sat there watching them both curiously. At any rate, it was enough for both of them and Georgio said, “Is your friend Adam with you today?”

“No, he is actually in Dallas right now working on a movie. The same movie he was working on in Italy when we met.”

“Cassie mentioned that and that you’ve been in California for a week or so. You seem to have healed well, I might add. Good for you.”

“Yes, I am doing fine actually. Not really even sore any longer. We had a nice visit in California; I met Adam’s kids and family.”

“He seemed like a nice guy; he was visiting Cassie one day in the hospital with your daughter and we chatted briefly. Didn’t seem like what I imagined a famous actor would be like!”

Sarah gave a brief laugh and said, “I know. It’s amazing; he’s just sort of a normal guy who happens to be famous. It still sort of boggles my mind.”

“Well, I’m sure the press exaggerate everything actors do; they have to have something to write about and report, I suppose!” he chuckled.

“That seems to be true, from what I can tell. Adam is pretty much just ignores it all.” Just then Sarah’s cell phone rang and she looked at it and added, “This is Mom, Cassie. I am supposed to meet her downstairs so I have to go now.” She leaned over the table and kissed Cassie on the cheek and nodded to Georgio. “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

“Yeah. Sarah, thanks for lunch, it was great!”

“You’re welcome. Bye!” and just like that she was gone.

“Did you have a nice visit?” Georgio asked.

“It was great. We got caught up on all sorts of things!”

“Hm, like me?” His eyes twinkled with merriment as he watched the inevitable blush spread across her face.

“You? Why would we talk about YOU?” she teased.

“Oh, that wasn’t nice! I’m just going to have to kiss you until you shut up!”

“Promise?” she said sweetly and sighed when he did just that.

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.