“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…
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.