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!”
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.