Friday, November 19, 2010

Chapter Nineteen

Due to the holiday next week there will be no chapter of Wishing on Stars on Friday, November 26.  I will post as usual on December 3.  Thanks so much for reading and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday!

Chapter Nineteen

Give a little bit

The next couple of days flew past, which helped to keep Cassie’s mind off of the situation with Georgio. The lived in the suite like two people who were scared to come to close to one another, which they were.

Sarah’s parents and Lissa had come to Italy and Sarah had gotten them rooms in the hotel, along with everyone else. Since she was out of the hospital she and Cassie had been busy making arrangements for everyone, including decorations of the hotel suite for Christmas. Adam was being released today and Cassie and Georgio were taking Sarah to the hospital to pick him up.

Georgio knocked on the door to Sarah and Adam’s suite and he smiled as she opened the door. “Are you ready Sarah?” he asked.

She nodded and the three of them made their way to the hospital. It was a delightful and scenic trip and Cassie had come to enjoy all the bustle of the Italian streets. There were people walking everywhere and busses zooming by as well. Vicenza, the city they were in was a beautiful and ancient city; Cassie understood why Sarah loved it here so much.

Georgio handled the car well as they traveled to the hospital; he had told her it was much the same as driving in Greece, crowded streets that twisted and turned constantly. They passed through the ancient walls of the old city of Vicenza and Cassie acknowledged the history of it all. She and Georgio had done a bit of sightseeing while they had been here, one spot in particular she had always wanted to go to was the Teatro Olympico, a theater in the downtown area. It was very unusual; it was filled with statues everywhere. They were made of papier mache, which you would never guess when you looked at them. In the early 1800’s Napoleon and Josephine had used the theater as their palace. When told that the statues were not marble, he ran his sword through the knee of one just to see for himself. Cassie would have liked to see he reaction when he found out that they really weren’t marble. The stage was the most fascinating thing about the theater to Cassie though; it was set up like a city street, with small lanes going back stage and little ‘shops’ along the way which were actually dressing rooms. The ceiling over head was painted sky blue with white billowy cloud to complete the effect of a small town. She had never seen anything quite like it.

Sarah was quiet on the way to the hospital; Cassie knew that she was anxious to have Adam home with her. Krista would have to stay in the hospital a while longer so she and Adam would be staying until Krista could travel. Cassie and Georgio were leaving two days after Christmas, heading to Greece. While Cassie was enjoying the time with Sarah, she couldn’t wait to get to the Greek island which was their next destination.

In the parking lot the left the car and made their way to the hospital entrance. Georgio watched Cassie as she walked along and realized that she was no longer walking delicately; she was moving pain free and that was exactly what he had been waiting to see. He knew that in the next day or so they would have their chance and he couldn’t wait. He hadn’t mentioned it to Cassie yet because she had been so busy helping Sarah but he was pretty sure she would be okay with it. That’s the understatement of the year!

Cassie and Georgio waited outside the room as Sarah went in although they didn’t have long to wait. Adam was as anxious to get out of the hospital as Sarah was to get him out of there.

They stopped briefly to see Krista in her room. Adam felt almost guilty, leaving her here and made promises to see her soon. She was doing much better but was still in a great deal of pain and couldn’t move around much.

When Adam mentioned to Krista that he hated to leave her here she laughed and reminded him that Ryan would be back that evening and she was hardly alone. That remark was punctuated by a nurse’s aide entering the room to check on her. Krista was picking up a lot of Italian from the staff here and she was teaching many of them English. It provided her a great deal of entertainment. The phrase of ‘What do you call that?’ was spoken often.

As Cassie looked from Adam to Krista she thought they were all blind when they first met her at Thanksgiving; she and Adam looked so much alike it was astounding. Same eyes, same generous mouth and dark hair Krista was a true beauty.

As they walked out of the hospital Georgio noticed that Adam leaned heavily on the cane and offered to go and bring the car up so he wouldn’t have as far to walk.

“Yes Adam, I think that’s a good idea,” Sarah said.

“Nonsense. I can walk there just fine. It will be good for me,” Adam said, but Cassie noticed how pale he was just after the short walk through the halls.

“Hey Georgio, Adam may not need the car but I do. Honey, my back is bothering me a bit so why don’t you go ahead and get it please? For me?” she said and she didn’t miss the grateful look that Sarah threw her.

“Certainly. I’ll be right back.”

As they waited Cassie had to keep her head down, afraid that Adam might catch the smirk on her face. There was more than one way to handle a man she thought with a laugh!

She really would have laughed if she knew that Sarah was thinking the very same thing; but it wouldn’t have surprised her a bit.


When they got back to the hotel the paparazzi were waiting, camera’s ready. Cassie grimaced as flash after flash hit her eyes; temporarily blinding her. She supposed she would see herself on some magazine cover, in the background of course and it made her giggle. Georgio looked at her questioningly and she only shrugged and grinned a bit more.

At the hotel everyone had gathered to welcome Adam home, or to the hotel at least. Sarah had booked the banquet room for them all and there were many people to be sure.

Cassie chatted with all the family easily and she was enchanted with Adam’s sons; they were very well behaved, even in this situation. She had thought so at Thanksgiving but here it was a different situation entirely. They were totally out of their element, but you would never know it.

After a couple of hours Cassie decided she had had enough and told Georgio, “Let’s get out of here and leave the families be. How about taking a drive?”

“Sure. You have a destination?” It was early afternoon and it was a beautiful day with warm temperatures and a clear cerulean blue sky.

“Yes, I want to go and find Monte Berico! I’ve been hearing about it for over twenty years and it’s my turn to stand there now! C’mon, let’s go!”

They stopped by their suite and grabbed jackets and the camera before heading out. In the car Georgio programmed their destination into the GPS and they were off, driving along the Italian streets again. When they got to the turn off to Monte Berico, Cassie grabbed the camera and started taking pictures of the arches that lined the walk way up the lane. It was stunning.

At the top they parked the car and got and looked around. Across the street was the convent and Cassie could see the nuns walking from building to building in their smart brown habits. These habits had short skirts and were close fitting even; nothing sexy about them, just not the billowy black habits that you often saw on nuns. They made the short walk across the road and were on the lookout point of Monte Berico.

Cassie caught her breath as she looked around. The view was magnificent and she took it all in; the city below and the mountains in the distance. Even for a December day it was quite warm, with little wind and she raised her face to the sun, blinking in the brightness of it. The loveliness of it all brought tears to her eyes.

She heard a ‘click’ and realized Georgio had snapped a picture of her. “Hey, not me, the scenery!” she laughed.

“You are far more beautiful than the scenery,” he told her and Cassie could tell that he believed those words. She suddenly felt lighter and yes, beautiful and her face lit up with a wide smile that was only for him.

They walked hand-in-hand to the north balustrade and stood admiring the Dolomite mountains in the distance. “This is where Sarah met Adam, in September; did I tell you that?”

“No, you didn’t. This view certainly inspires romance, don’t you think?” he asked her, wrapping his arms around her and leaning his head next to hers. He could smell the fragrance she was wearing, something light with a floral hint to it and it stirred his senses. He inhaled deeply and felt himself start to become aroused.

Cassie felt him pressed against her and realized what was happening; it brought an immediate echo response in her. She turned in his arms and said, “Hurry and snap some pictures so we can get out of here Georgio.”

He didn’t waste any time and captured views from the different angles. He knew he was hurrying, but he also knew he didn’t care. He only had one thing on his mind and that wasn’t going to happen here.

“I guess we can always come back here if we miss anything, huh?” she asked as she waited for him. This was certainly not how she pictured this, her first visit to this magical place. She had seen so many pictures of Sarah’s over the years and had hoped that some day she would get to see it and here she was, at Monte Berico and all she wanted was to leave.

“Whatever you would like love. I’ll bring you back every day if you like.” He told her as he snapped one final picture; Cassie, looking at him with love and passion in her eyes. To him that photo would be a masterpiece.

He took her hand and they all but ran across the road to the car. As he tucked her in and slid in behind the steering wheel and felt like a teenager; his heart was racing and he could hardly sit still because of the tightness in his slacks. It had been a long time for him; what if he screwed it all up? What he didn’t know was that Cassie was experiencing similar emotions.

She swallowed hard and then let out a long, slow breath in an effort to calm down a bit. She knew what was ahead and she couldn’t wait, but on the other hand, she was going to finally be with the man she loved with all her heart and she was scared silly.

What if she wasn’t any good at it? It had been a long time since she had been with someone and well, maybe she was a bit rusty at it. What if he was right and she wasn’t physically ready? Would he be doing this if he wasn’t sure? She was sure he wouldn’t, but then she had been pushing him a lot and maybe he just wanted to get it over with so she would leave him alone about it.

She stared out the window of the car and tried to enjoy the drive in order to get her mind off of what comes next.

Georgio watched her with some concern. Something was wrong, but he didn’t know what. Maybe her back was still hurting and she didn’t want him to know. That was a big possibility and he was going to have to make sure before they went any further. As soon as they were in the hotel room it was time to ask some very real questions. In the meantime her reached over and took her hand in his; it felt chilled and he gently squeezed it, running his thumb lightly over her fingers.

She smiled and seemed to relax a bit and eventually smiled at him. Before they knew it they were at the hotel. Georgio parked the car and leaned over to her and raised her head up a bit and softly kissed her. “I love you Cassie,” he told her.

His words elicited a smile from her and she sighed and said, “I love you too Georgio.”

He got out of the car and then opened her door, helping her step out. As they walked to the hotel he lagged behind her a step or two to see how she was walking, but she seemed at ease and relaxed. If the problem wasn’t physical, then what was it?

In the elevator Cassie was almost breathless, with fear that was. She was going to screw this up, she just knew it. She was good at that, messing things up. A tear threatened to make its way down her cheek and she blinked rapidly in hopes that it would go away. Instead, it rolled down her cheek and she swiped it away quickly, hoping that he hadn’t noticed.

Why is she crying he wondered? Oh God, what is wrong? Have I done something? Questions ricocheted around his mind like a ping pong ball gone wild. When the elevator dinged at their floor they both jumped.

“Um, we’re here love,” he said, stepping out of the elevator and waiting while she did the same. She looked up at him and nodded before walking with him down the hall to their suite.

Inside they took off their jackets and stood looking at one another, wordless. This wasn’t at all as either one of them pictured. It was supposed to be natural, spontaneous and instead it was awkward as hell.

Georgio moved to the couch and said “Cassie, sit down please.”

She sat beside him, waiting for the axe to fall. She had done something wrong, but she didn’t know what. Or he just doesn’t want me any longer. She sighed and said, “I guess we need to talk, huh?”

“Yes, we do. Are you hurting love? Is your back bothering you?” There, he had asked the question and he waited with a heavy heart for her response.

“Wh-what? My back? No, it’s fine Georgio. Why?”

“Really? Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m positive. I don’t think it’s ever felt better actually. Georgio, what have I done?”

He looked at her, perplexed when he heard her words. “You haven’t done anything love. I’m just concerned because you became so quiet in the car. What’s wrong Cassie?”

It all started to click into place for her; he had misinterpreted her thoughts in the car to be something different than they actually were. She smiled at him then and laughed a bit. He watched her, clearly puzzled.

“Georgio, I’m just nervous. I haven’t done this in a really long time and I can’t help but wonder it I’ll be any good at it!” She started giggling as soon as she said the words and realized she felt much better.

He laughed then too and shook his head. “God Cassie, I keep wondering the same thing. I kept thinking, what if I screw it all up?” He leaned over and pulled her into his arms and held her close before kissing her, his lips moving slowly against hers in a sensual dance.

When she was breathless she pulled away and laid her head against his shoulder. Both of them took a much needed breath and enjoyed the feeling of holding the other. A few more kisses and Georgio stood up with her in his arms and strode to the bedroom doors.

“Which room love?” he asked, waiting for her to choose.

She giggled and said, “which ever one is closest Georgio.” She nodded to the closest doorway and he walked though it, kicking the door closed behind him.

Neither one noticed the firm click as the door closed behind them.

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 authors permission.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chapter Eighteen

Patience is a Virtue

Cassie had said goodbye to Sarah a week ago as she and Adam had left to head back to Italy to reshoot some of the scenes from his movie. The scenes had to be done over since Rachel, one of the stars of the movie had been murdered in Texas. They hadn’t found the killer yet and frankly, Cassie had worried about it all. She had heard the whole story from Sarah over Thanksgiving and it was downright scary.

Now, it was past the point of being scary – it had affected Sarah and Adam and now she and Georgio were on their way to Italy to help Sarah through it all. Her mom and dad didn’t have passports, even though the State Department was trying to push them through. Derek was already on his way there, courtesy of the US Army and Cassie was thankful for that.

She shifted in her seat; thank goodness they were in first class and she had some room to move around a bit. Georgio was right about one thing, her back wasn’t quite ready for this journey, but it was too bad, it was going to have to be ok.

Cassie looked down over the night sky and saw yellow-gold lights far down below. There were clusters of them and then a sort of connect-the-dots outline. It was all quite beautiful she thought. She looked at Georgio next to her, seat reclined and sleeping peacefully; she wished she could do that. She never slept on flights and she supposed that the worry over Sarah didn’t help either.

A flight attendant walked by just then and Cassie said, “Excuse me!”

They flight attendant said, “Yes? Can I get you something?”

“I was wondering what I’m looking at, um, down there,” Cassie said, pointing out the window.

“Hm, that must be Ireland actually. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she asked gazing out the window. “Can I get you anything, since you aren’t sleeping?”

“No. I’m just not a very good flyer; I can never relax.” Cassie stared again at the lights far below and added, “It really is beautiful. Thanks.”

The flight attendant moved on and Cassie laid her head back against the head rest and closed her eyes. The past 24 hours had been terrible; first the call from Derek and then Lissa, both panicked about their mom. Cassie and Georgio made some hasty decisions about the trip and Cassie let the kids both know what they were going to do.

Cassie and Georgio had been planning to head to Greece right after Christmas; that plan was now changed. They would fly to Italy, stay there as long as necessary and then go on to Greece, which was fine with Cassie. For years she had listened to Sarah talk about Italy and she would finally have the chance to see it, or at least some of herself. Georgio was going along with it all but he had concerns about Cassie’s ability to physically handle it all; he kept those doubts to himself; mostly because he knew that no matter what he said Cassie was going, so therefore, so was he.

Cassie was a wreck though; she even admitted it as they traveled. It had been a very trying day, with more still to come. 4 more hours to Venice, then pick up the rental car and make the 40 mile trip to Vicenza. Cassie admitted to herself that she was already worn out and she wasn’t quite sure how she was going to make it the rest of the way.

She managed to cat nap a bit and eventually they made it to Venice and got the car to get on the road to Vicenza. It was auto strada (Interstate) all the way and it went amazingly quick. It was 5:00 am local time when they got checked into the hotel. Cassie sank down on the bed with a sigh as Georgio brought her luggage in. He headed back out and she heard him moving around in the other room and so she finally got up to see what was going on. That’s when she saw him moving his bags into another bedroom.

A suite? He had booked a suite? She was dumbstruck. How far would he go to avoid her, or rather making love with her? She stood there, pain showing clearly on her face and watched him, too stunned to even speak. She went back into her room and closed the door; she had nothing to say, nothing at all.

Georgio watched her retreat into her room and close the door. He knew she was hurt and he also acknowledged that he should have talked to her about what he did, but it was so hard. He wanted her so badly, but he had seen how difficult this journey was for her; it showed in the way she walked and stood that she was just wiped out. Cassie needed to rest and he knew that if he shared that bed with her she wouldn’t. He had to give her a couple of days to bounce back a bit, but that was all. This trip would begin a new part of their relationship and he couldn’t wait!


Cassie slept for eight hours straight and when she got up she found Georgio on the phone with Derek, getting an update on Sarah and Adam. From the frown on Georgio’s face Cassie anticipated the worst; thoughts of a conversation with Georgio about all this went right out of her head.

“What’s going on?” she asked, sitting on the sofa with Georgio. She waited while he finished his conversation with Derek, telling him they would be at the hospital soon and then he leaned over and kissed Cassie.

“Hi love, did you rest well?”

“Yes, now what is going on with Sarah? Please Georgio, I have to know!”

“She is still unconscious but she will be fine. Nothing is broken, but she is bruised badly and has several deep cuts that required stitches. Adam is much worse off; he was shot twice. One bullet damaged his liver and the other his leg. He has had surgery and he is awake and calling for Sarah.” Georgio picked up Cassie’s hand and kissed it before adding, “Now, why don’t you grab a quick shower and we’ll head to the hospital? It’s about 10 minutes away.”

Cass nodded and leaned in for another kiss. She looked Georgio in the eyes and then rubbed her nose lightly against his. He kissed her again and said, “I love you Cassie.”

“Yeah, I love you too. Give me 20 minutes and I’ll be ready!”

She made it in 15.


Cassie was sitting in a chair next to Sarah’s bed when she opened her eyes to sunlight that was streaming in through open blinds. Georgio and Derek were there in the room as well and Sarah’s eyes welled up as she looked around the room.

Cassie stood up and walked slowly over to the bed to sit on the side of it. “Well, Sleeping Beauty, we weren’t sure you were ever going to wake up. I gotta tell you, every time you get yourself thrown into a hospital you use it as an excuse to sleep around the clock. Lazy, you were always a lazy girl!” and then she leaned down and kissed Sarah’s forehead and touched her cheek with her warm fingers. “Welcome back Sarah!”

Cassie watched as Sarah tried moving her body and everything seemed to be functioning, although it was pretty stiff. She grimaced as she flexed her legs, feeling stitches pulling at the tender flesh of her leg.

Georgio stepped up to the bed and asked, “Is everything moving properly?” and then he smiled at Sarah. He had a dazzling smile and she suddenly understood Cassie’s interest in him. What a bedside manner!

“Yeah, but it all hurts!”

“Well, that’s what happens when you fall 22’ off of a castle wall you know. If you think you are hurting you should see the bush that broke your fall. Gone, completely destroyed!” Cassie laughed.

Sarah couldn’t laugh; the memory was still too painful. Derek was sitting on the other side of her bed and he looked so tired. Sarah wondered how long he had been here and how he had gotten here so quickly.

“Uh, how long have I been in here?” Sarah asked.

“Not quite two days Mom. Really, you are going to be fine. Nothing is broken, but you have several really nasty gashes along your legs from the bush and lots of stitches; but it was good you landed on it, it really broke your fall.”

“When did you all get here?” she asked.

“I got here 9 hours after it happened Mom. Ryan called us all immediately and since I’m the only one of the family that has a passport, I’m the one that got to come. The Red Cross got me transport on a military flight direct to Aviano and then I caught the bus down here. I’m staying at the casern, so it’s all okay. Yesterday when you woke up I had only been here a couple of hours.”

“And Georgio and I got here very early this morning. He’s been driving the Italian doctors crazy asking for updates and he has been over here constantly looking at all these machine readings. It’s one of his more endearing qualities,” she said and her face showed so much love and pride that Sarah immediately felt happy for her.

“Can we sit this bed up a bit do you think Georgio, or should I call you Dr. Gorman here?”

“No, Georgio will do fine; I have no privileges here at this hospital. I do think it will be okay to raise the bed, but if it starts to hurt, you will have to stop it, okay?” Sarah loved Georgio’s voice, it was soft and soothing, and the timbre was calming to your senses; it just inspired confidence.

Sarah nodded and pushed the button and the head of the bed started to rise slowly. She laid back and let it go until she was nearly fully upright and then stopped it, not because anything hurt, it was just enough. “Seems to feel fine. And I’m thirsty too. I’m in an Italian hospital, think they’ll let me have some wine?” she tried to joke.

And then serious thought took over and she asked about Adam and Krista again, waiting breathlessly to hear how they were. That they were both still alive.

Georgio stood with his hands resting on Cassie’s shoulders and when neither Derek nor Cassie started to speak, he took that as his cue. “Adam is doing better Sarah. He was shot twice by Sunni, once in the liver and once in the leg. The bullet to his leg passed through with no problems, but the one that hit his liver has been a major concern. They had to do surgery to remove that bullet and they also had to remove part of his liver.” At Sarah’s gasp of in-drawn breath he held up his hand and then continued. “People can very easily live like that. In fact the liver is one of the organs that can sometimes regenerate to a certain degree in a healthy body and Adam is very healthy. Right now his major problem is an infection and they have him on intravenous antibiotics to make him better. He is still unconscious a lot of the time though. And he is extremely worried about you when he is awake so as soon as you are able we are getting you up there to see him! That will be the very best medicine for him I think.”

Sarah let out a long breath out and smiled. Cassie saw a tear trickle down her cheek and she hastily wiped it away. She was ready to go now and told them so.

“Not so fast Sarah. They have to remove your catheter and get you walking a bit, okay? Now Krista is a little bit different. The bullet entered her neck, very close to the jugular vein, but it did miss it. A fraction of an inch closer and she would have bled out almost immediately. The fall did the most damage really. It shattered several ribs, which in turn punctured her left lung and seriously bruised her heart. Her pelvis is also shattered, into 7 pieces in fact. She will have to wear a cast for a long time. They did surgery on her pelvis and reinforced it with, uh basically a plastic appliance, very similar to a joint replacement. She will never be able to have children naturally; it will only be by c-section. That replacement will not give as bone would. And it has to remain very still to heal properly, hence the cast in order for it to set into place correctly. They also had to do surgery on her broken ribs. The damage to her lung was repaired and the damage to her heart will likely heal itself in time. She is also fighting infection around her heart but that is to be expected. She is very lucky, Sarah.”

There was a light knock on the door and Tamara and Mark walked in. As soon as they saw that Sarah was sitting up they both broke into smiles and tears started to seep from Tamara’s eyes. Derek got up so that Tamara could sit down next to her.

“Sarah, how do you feel?” she asked, digging through her purse for a Kleenex. Mark reached out and lightly touched Sarah’s arm as if afraid he might hurt her.

“I’m feeling remarkably well, really. Are the boys here?”

“No, they are staying with Aidan and Sylvia while we are here. But they send you their love and can’t wait to talk to you on the phone!”

“When did you get here?”

“Very late last night. We’re checked into the hotel where you and Adam are staying.”

Sarah nodded, thinking about that. “Have you seen him?”

“Yes, we have. He is going to be okay; he certainly looks a little ragged but not too much worse for the wear, I must admit. Definitely not the glamorous movie star right now though. He calls for you a lot, about as much as you have been calling for him I hear.”

“You heard about Krista?” Sarah asked wondering how they would feel about it. The boys had a big sister now, besides Lissa and Pam.

“Yes, we have. We are very happy about it and so are the boys. They can’t wait to meet her. And by the way, Vivian, Gerald and Angelica will be here in two days. They are all anxious not only to see Adam but to meet Krista as well. One of the very nicest things about the Richland family is that they are so supportive and caring Sarah. Oh, the Red Cross is trying to get a special visa clearance, uh, emergency status for your parents and Lissa to come over here. The American consul is working on it too.”

A man who turned out to be Sarah’s doctor came in and tsk – tsk’d over so many people in my room and shooed them all out so he could examine her. She asked that Georgio be allowed to stay and the doctor agreed. He spoke a little English thankfully and Georgio turned out to speak Italian fluently.

Cassie and Tamara came back into the room a few minutes later, after the doctor was done with his examination. Sarah was excited because she was going to get to go see Adam soon.

“Don’t let anyone tell him I’m coming, okay? Please?” she asked. Tamara nodded and went out to speak to the men.

“Cass, I can’t believe you and Georgio came over here. Are you doing alright? It hasn’t been too much for you has it?”

“Naw. I mean, I get tired but Georgio is the cutest watchdog I’ve ever had. It’s not exactly the way I pictured seeing Italy, but at least I’m here. I finally will get to see some of these places you have always talked about, do you realize that?” Sarah saw her eyes sparkle brightly at that prospect and couldn’t wait to hear what she thought about it all.

“Yeah. Oh Cass, I can’t wait for you to see it all. And, it’s pretty good for boosting romance a bit too!” she teased.

Cassie blushed brightly and commented under her breath, “We uh, haven’t done that yet Sarah. He seems to think we need to wait, until, I’m uh, better. But geez, I don’t know how much longer I can hold out Sarah, it’s like I have a perpetual fever around him, you know?”

“I do indeed Cassie!” and just then a nurse came in pulling a cart with her. “Yeah!” Sarah exclaimed; they were going to remove the catheter.

“Do you want me to leave Sarah?” Cass asked.

“Hell no, stay and help me celebrate! Okay,” she told the nurse as then lay back on the bed, “Pull it out!”

“Si signora. Now take a deep breath for me and then blow it out hard when I tell you.”

And just like that it was done and it felt so good to have it gone! The nurse helped her clean up and bit and put a clean gown and robe on and then she was ready to go see Adam.


Sarah had a crowd waiting out in the hallway as she came out of Adam’s room; Derek, Mark, Tamara, Cass, Georgio and Ryan. Ryan came over to me and kissed her on the cheek and smiled. “Hey Sarah, how are you? Better now, hm?”

“Yeah, so much better. How is Krista? Can I see her too?” she asked.

“Yes, if you feel like it I guess. Come on, she’s just down the hall. This is the surgical recovery floor,” he informed her as we walked the short distance to her room. Cassie was behind her nagging Sarah and reminding her that she was supposed to be in the wheelchair. Georgio had gone back into Adam’s room to retrieve it and Cassie was standing next to it expectantly.

“God Cass, you are worse than Mom!” Sarah said, annoyed with her.

“Okay, all I’m saying is when you are worse later because you over-did it, don’t complain to me. That’s all I’m saying!”

“Cassandra Elaine!”

“Sarah Denise!”

And that was all it took to break the tension and everyone laughed. It would be okay.


Later that night Georgio and Cassie entered their hotel suite. ; They had decided to just order in room service because Cassie was very tired and Georgio was too. Jet lag could be miserable they both declared.

Cassie changed into some lounging pajamas and tied a robe around her securely, but she wondered why she bothered because it probably wouldn’t make a difference to Georgio, he was determined to keep his distance. Still, they needed to talk about it and Cassie intended to do just that. She’d had enough of the evasion about a physical relationship between them.

Georgio had ordered dinner and changed into pajamas and a robe himself. He looked quite sexy and Cassie let her eyes roam over him hungrily. He caught her eye as she raked over his body and he smiled.

“C’mere,” he said, patting his lap.

Cassie was stunned. Had he relented she wondered. Then she wasted no time doing exactly what he asked. He held her tightly for a moment and then kissed her, his mouth ravaging hers hungrily. She felt herself becoming aroused and kissed him back with everything she had.

Finally he broke the kiss and caught his breath; this was the hardest thing he had ever done. And speaking of hard things he tried to squirm a bit to get comfortable. It was useless though, he was fully aroused and she was very aware of it.

She went to kiss him again and he pulled his head back and said, “Cassie, my love we have to talk, okay? Okay?” he repeated as he felt her body begin to tense at his words. “Please, just hear me out?”

Cassie bit her lower lip, trying really hard not to cry, but she was so frustrated; over the situation and at the halt in what she perceived as a natural step for them. She finally nodded and slid off his lap so that she could look at him as he spoke.

“I know what you want and I think you know that I want that too; it’s rather obvious.” He paused for a moment, planning his next words carefully. “That is going to happen Cassie and soon, I promise, but I think you need a day or two in which to recover from the flight.” She started to open her mouth to protest and he shook his head and continued on. “I see how you are moving; you are stiff and it’s painful for you, you can’t deny it Cassie, I’m trained to see those things. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want you or that we are going to wait much longer. It will be just long enough for you to rest a bit. That’s why I got us a suite to stay in. Love, I can’t sleep in the same bed with you right now and keep my hands off of you. Please Cassie, you have to understand that. It’s going to be hard enough knowing you are 20 feet away from me!”

“Really?” she asked, her lower lip trembling as she whispered that word. “You aren’t just trying to hold me off because you don’t want me?”

“Oh Cassie, I want you so badly. I ache for you love, I need you. Please, let’s just get through the next day or two, okay?”

Cassie sniffed once, realizing she needed a tissue. She knew he was being honest though and she knew that the next day or two would seem like a year. She crawled back into his lap and felt his desire, still rampaging for her and she sighed as she kissed him again. The kiss went on and on until they heard the knock on the door with their dinner.

“Well, I guess I could say ‘saved by the bell’,” she teased. “But I gotta tell you Georgio, this better be the best damn Italian meal I’ve ever had because I’m a woman who needs some satisfaction right now!”

Her only answer was the crooked grin he tossed at her as he opened the door.

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 writer's permission.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Chapter Seventeen

Steal your heart away…

Thanksgiving was fast approaching and Cassie was really excited. Georgio’s parents were going to his sister’s house in Florida and while sometimes he went with them, this year he was staying in Wichita. , Not only because of Cassie but also because he had two patients that had just had surgery and he needed to be close here to monitor their progress. Georgio was taking a break at the hospital after a surgery, drinking a cup of coffee as he thought about the red-headed waif that had stolen his heart.

He was okay with it all; he found that he enjoyed the company of Ed and Alice Banks. They were down-to-earth people and easy to feel comfortable with. They would all have dinner at their house and then later go to Sarah’s house for dessert, a long-standing tradition for the two families. Georgio planned on watching Cassie carefully to make sure she didn’t over-do it.

Cassie continued her physical therapy after she came home and she was doing very well. She still occasionally used the cane (if it were up to Georgio she would use it all the time) but walking seemed much easier for her now. She tired easily, true, but that was to be expected and he explained to her (more than once) that she needed to expect that for awhile longer. All-in-all, she had recovered well.

Which lead to another problem – the physical side of their relationship. It wasn’t that Georgio wasn’t ready for it, he was. More than ready, but the doctor side of him cautioned him to take it slow, for Cassie’s sake. In truth, he was scared to death he would hurt her, no matter how much care they took and so whenever things started to get a bit too close for them he backed away. It was upsetting to Cassie when that happened and he got that, he really did; he promised her (and himself) that it wouldn’t be for too much longer.

She was still staying with her parents which helped, but she was planning on going to her own house by Christmas. The only reason she hadn’t done that already was that she lived in a split level house which had stairs going up and down and she wasn’t up to them yet. She did willingly admit that, but he could tell those stairs weren’t going to stop her much longer.

The truth was that Georgio ached for her; he loved everything about her. The sultry perfume she wore, the sassy red hair and her tiny stature that belied a diminutive personality. Her ironic sense of humor often had him laughing until tears ran down his face and yet there was such a naive innocence about her that he wanted to protect her from the world. Cass always said exactly what she meant and always meant exactly what she said. There were no games with her, no trying to figure out what she wanted; she was straight up about it.

Georgio struggled often to be open with her as well. For years now he had hidden his own emotions away; partly because he didn’t have anyone to share them with and partly because it was easier that way. Now, with Cassie in his life he was finding that she often took his silence the wrong way which led to misunderstandings. She had told him more than once, “I won’t ever expect you to read my mind if you won’t expect me to read yours” but sometimes it seemed that was exactly what he expected. But he was working on it, trying really hard.

Now that Cassie was moving around a lot more she was asking him to take her to his house so that she could ‘visit his world’ as she put it. More likely she wanted to ‘visit his bed’. He was no dummy and could read her really well. So, for now, he kept finding excuses to avoid the visit but he knew he couldn’t do that much longer.

She had met several of his brother’s and sister’s at his parents’ house now and she fit right in with the boisterous and noisy lot of them. He often sat back and watched as she joked with his sisters as she sat at the table chopping vegetables and such. It’s like she was born to be in the family and he knew that she was the darling of the Gorman clan. Eleni often called her just to chat and had come to visit her at her parents’ house as she recovered and while she was a little more outgoing than Alice and Ed, they liked her very much and the feeling was mutual.

News that he had received today was going to change things, for both of them and he had to talk to Cassie about it. It was exciting news and he hoped that Cassie would share that opinion. He was going to approach her about it all soon and frankly, he couldn’t wait to see how she reacted.

He took another sip of the now cold coffee and grimaced before getting up and pouring it into the sink. So much the better down the drain anyway, it was lousy coffee.


Cassie sat on the couch at her parents’ house painting her toenails a bright, vivid red. Sinful Red the bottle read and she chuckled as she applied the first coat. Not too bad, she decided as she stuck her foot out to admire her handiwork. She pulled her leg back to put another coat on and Cinder decided to jump up on the couch and investigate the strange smell. Her tiny wet nose sniffed delicately at Cassie’s foot and then a pink tongue snuck out to take a taste of the strange smelling appendage.

It was dry enough that it didn’t get on her tongue but she still stuck her tongue out and shook her head, sneezing as she did so. She looked at Cassie with accusing eyes, as if to say, “What are you doing and why doesn’t that taste good?” Cassie laughed, which only made matters worse because the princess of the house definitely did not like being laughed at. She cocked her head to one side and Cassie knew that if that dog could cuss she would definitely be getting an earful right about now.

“Eeerrrrffff,” Cinder said, indignant.

“Woof, yourself, young lady! That will teach you to poke your nose and tongue where they don’t belong,” Cassie laughed.

Max, hearing the commotion jumped down from Ed’s lap and came to investigate; afraid he’d miss something good – in other words a treat.

“What do you want fat boy?” Max certainly hadn’t been missing any meals since he had stayed with her mom and dad Cassie thought wryly.

Max sniffed her hand, hoping to uncover a bite of something. Cassie held her hand out, palm up and said, “See Maxie, nothing there. Sorry!”

Max only stared at it, finally nuzzling against it with his cold nose. He looked up at her with sad eyes and cocked his head to the side, much like Cinder had done earlier.

“Oh no you don’t! You are not going to bribe me with that adorable, pitiful look of yours. Huh uh, no way!”

Max raised a paw and laid it on Cassie’s hand. She swore she saw his lower lip pooch out in a pout. At that point Cinder decided to get in on the action and scooted across the couch and laid her chin on Cassie’s leg.

“You too, Cinder? Dad, what the heck have you been teaching these two?” Cassie asked, trying not to look at the two scamps who were trying to get her to go and get them both a treat.

“Hey kiddo, you’re on your own here; you mom has spoiled them rotten. If I were you I’d just give in now and go and get them a t-r-e-a-t.”

“What you have to spell it now? You can’t just say treat?”

As she spoke the magic word both dogs again cocked their heads and let out tiny little pleas for a treat.

“Ooouuummmph,” Cinder said, again cocking her head to the side.

“Awwwolllfff,” Max added.

Oh for heaven’s sake!” Cassie said, getting up off the couch and heading into the kitchen. “I can’t believe I’m doing this,” she muttered as she came into the room where her mom was putting a chicken into the oven.

Alice turned around and smiled as first Cassie, then the two experts in sustenance negotiations made their way into the kitchen. Cassie stood in the door way, looking around the room for the box of treats she knew her mom kept.

Max and Cinder stood there looking at Cassie, waiting…

“You got some carrots there, Mom? That’ll teach ‘em!” Cassie laughed.

Max and Cinder stared at her, not delighted with that idea at all.

“Oh, like you understand me! No bacon treats for you!” With that word Max and Cinder both started barking excitedly. Cassie only looked at her mother and said, “I should be pissed at this. You’ve totally spoiled them!”

“They’re just dogs Cassie. Get them a treat!” Alice said. This time, at the word treat both Cinder and Max started barking rapidly, as if to say “Treat, treat, treat!”

Alice opened the cabinet and got each dog a bacon treat, which they quickly devoured. Max cocked his head and whimpered, clearly wanting more.

“No, you little scam artist. NO MORE! Go on now, lay down!”

Realizing they had gotten as much as they could at this particular time both dogs headed out of the kitchen, to recline in comfort on the sofa. Ed watched them curl up together and fall asleep and chuckled. He’d never admit it but he kind of liked ‘em!


Cassie’s phone rang at 9 that night and she grabbed it with a smile knowing that it would be Georgio.

“Hey tall, dark and oh so sexy,” she purred into the phone.

“Uh, well, I’m not really tall or dark, but I kind of hope I’m sexy,” a laughing voice on the other end said.

“Sarah!” Cassie exclaimed, excited to talk to her best friend. “How are you? Are you home yet?”

“No, we’ll be back in two days. How are you?”

“Good, ready for the annual feast! I can taste your mom’s Pumpkin Cake Roll already!”

“Yeah, me too! Is Georgio going to be coming with you?”

“Yep, he is. His parents are going his sister Alexandra’s house, so Georgio will be eating with us.”

“Doesn’t Alexandra live in Wichita?” Sarah asked, wondering why Georgio wouldn’t be eating with them.

“No, she lives in Florida and the Wichita group are already down there. I sure hope Alexandra has a big house!”

“So, you’ll get Georgio all to yourself then, huh? Whatever will you do, Dahling?” Sarah said in her best southern belle accent.

“Well, apparently NOT what I would like to be doing, but that’s another story. You’re going to have a houseful too; sure you got room for all of us?”

“What’s four more? The circus is always better when all the clowns are there,” Sarah quipped.

“Clowns huh? Yeah, I guess that’s as good a way as anything to describe us. So, I’m finally going to get to meet Tamara?”

“Yes, she and Mark and the boys will fly in on Tuesday. The boys are really excited to come to Wichita. To them it seems exotic I guess,” she laughed.

“Wow Sarah, this is all real, isn’t it?” Cassie’s voice suddenly took on a serious note as she thought about all that was happening in their lives.

“Yes, it is Cass. Isn’t it all so exciting?”

“Yeah, and wonderful, Sarah. I can’t wait to see you!”

“Me too Cass. I’ll call when we get into town, ‘kay?”

“Okay. I really miss you.”

“Don’t even start Cassandra Elaine! I don’t want to start crying!”

“I –I won’t. Gotta go, okay? Bye.”

“Bye.” Sarah replaced the receiver and realized how much she missed Cassie. She couldn’t wait to get home!


Thanksgiving Day dawned bright and clear. It was chilly, but it was Wichita in late November and that was to be expected. Cassie awoke to the smells of turkey roasting in the oven and something spicy, probably pumpkin pies. She lay in bed and stretched, luxuriating for a moment under the covers. She felt great today and hopped out of the bed and headed into the bathroom for a shower.

Clean and scrubbed a half hour later she was debating what to wear when there was a knock on the door. Figuring it was her mom she called out, “Come on in!”

When the door opened Cassie stared in shock at Georgio. He stared back at her as all she was wearing was a skimpy towel. For a moment he imagined pulling it off of her and exploring the damp skin that it concealed. He shut his eyes to block the image out but found that it didn’t help because he had a really good imagination.

Cassie recovered really quickly and ran to him and threw her arms around his neck, standing on tip-toe to plant a sultry kiss on his mouth.

He kissed her back and pulled her to him, running his hands up and down her back before he realized what he was doing. Suddenly, there was two feet between them and Cassie stood looking at him, part coquette and part innocent, as she wondered how he had moved away so fast.

He was uncomfortably aware of the tightness of his jeans and swallowed hard, trying to think of something, anything but how sexy she looked right at this moment. He finally turned away and said, “Cassie, put some clothes on!”

Cassie let the towel drop and said, “Okay, I will.” She walked to the dresser, which was right in front of him and started digging through it for undies. She was humming lightly and fully aware of his discomfort and had to stifle a giggle as she held up a pair of red satin and lace bikinis for her contemplation. “What do you think Georgio? The red, or maybe the black?” she asked, pulling an even skimpier black thong out of the drawer.

“Cassie, for God’s sake, what are you doing?” Georgio almost groaned the words. A fine sheen of sweat now appeared on his brow and he wiped it away. However, he did not turn away from her.

“Georgio, sooner or later we’re going to have to deal with this!” she declared, standing in front of him and not looking away. “We want each other, you might as well get over it!”

Georgio swallowed – hard and then did it again. He had a picture in his head of a cartoon he had once seen that had Icabod Crane in it, swallowing over and over, his Adams Apple bobbing furiously. He opened his mouth to speak and then just as quickly closed it again. What did he say? That he wanted her? It was true; he ached for her, needed her, and constantly fantasized about her, being with her. But for heaven’s sake, they were right here in her parents’ house! He took in the sight of her beautiful body and groaned.

“Cassie, your parents are about 20 feet away from us right now; we can’t do this here!”

“Yeah, I know,” she said with a shrug and pulled on the red panties and dug into the drawer to find the matching bra. She slipped her arms into it and turned her back to him and said, “Could you help me please? It’s kind of hard on my back to try and reach back there and fasten this darn thing!”

Georgio sighed, but helped her anyway. He knew a scam when he heard it, but it was better to just go with it. After the bra was fastened Cassie walked into the closet and started pulling clothes out of it so she could dress. She was almost irritated that he had so smoothly evaded her, but he did have a point about the parents. She mentally decided to redouble her efforts to visit his house – and soon!

“Cassie, I wanted to talk to you, uh, about something.” He looked around the room for someplace to sit; either the bed or the vanity chair. He opted for the chair and took a breath before continuing. “I’ve received an offer, for a 6 week teaching fellowship at the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Health Sciences, for next January. It’s a wonderful opportunity Cassie, to teach some of the newer surgical techniques that are being done here in the states. I’d like to accept it.”

She stared at him for a minute, taking it all in. Six weeks? She felt like that was forever. How would she survive without him for 6 whole weeks? Still, it was obviously important to him and she wouldn’t stop him. She took a deep breath to compose herself and tried really hard not to let her disappointment show on her face as she said, “Well, it sounds like a great opportunity Georgio. Um, yeah and 6 weeks will go really fast and then you’ll be home again.” As she said the last a tear slipped down her face and she hurriedly wiped it away.

It suddenly occurred to Georgio that Cassie thought he was going alone and he smiled; a huge broad smile that was quickly followed by a laugh. Cassie watched for a moment and quickly turned around as more tears came to her. The next moment she felt Georgio’s strong arms around her and he said into her ear, “Cassie love, I want you to go with me.”

She turned around and her smile lit up the whole room for a moment and then she said, “You know what? Why didn’t you say that in the first place?” Her foot impatiently stamped down on the floor which made him laugh again and soon she joined him. “Remember that thing about reading minds, Georgio? We still gotta work on that!”

His response was to kiss her – and he did, until she was breathless!

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.