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.