Friday, January 21, 2011

Chapter Twenty One


Cassie and Georgio’s flight wasn’t a long one but Cassie enjoyed every moment of it. The sun was just beginning to set over the Adriatic when they took off and it looked incredible from the air; so blue it was unbelievable.

As night fell she could see lights below them, small spots of golden yellow light here and there and it was beautiful to see. At one point she looked down and it was like the lights were out lining something below and Cassie stopped the flight attendant as she walked by and asked what it was.

“Hm, I believe that is Patras, on the peninsula. You’ll be able to see Athens very soon. We’ll land in about ½ an hour.” She smiled and moved on down the aisle. Cassie continued to stare out the window as the lights passed out of sight and new ones appeared. Soon they could see the lights of Athens and it caused Cassie to draw in a sharp breath.

“Oh, it’s so big; I didn’t realize Georgio!” she said excitedly.

“There are over 3 million people there Cassie,” he told her, smiling at her fascination.

“I guess I didn’t realize that it was quite that big. It seems to sprawl all over everywhere.”

“Yes, that it does.”

“Where does your sister live? I know you said in Karystos, but where is that?”

“It is east of Athens, about 25 miles east of it. Karystos is considered a suburb of Athens. Much like Italy you will find that there is very little open space there so it seems like one continuous city.”

They were banking right on their approach to Athens International Airport and as they got closer Cassie saw the lights of the Parthenon. Cassie drew in a deep breath and let it out in a rush. “Georgio, look, it’s the Parthenon! Wow, it’s beautiful!”

Georgio leaned over her to take a look; no matter how many times he saw the Parthenon, especially at night it was always breath-taking. He watched Cassie as she focused on it, her attention held firmly on the sight below. She was worrying her lower lip, small, white teeth peeking out and he grinned as he watched her.

Georgio had been to Greece many times and as with anything or place, when you see it often enough you fail to appreciate it. This time, seeing Athens through Cassie’s curious eyes would be a treat for him. He loved her excitement and enthusiasm for new experiences and suddenly his mind was filled with all the places her wanted to take her so that her memories of Greece would be perfect.

There was a slight ‘bump’ sound as the landing gear came down and soon they had touched down and were taxiing down the runway and coming to a rest at the terminal. After they gathered their carryon luggage they made their way down the gang plank and headed to the main terminal where they would be met by Tena.

“It’s quite a walk Cassie; shall I get us a cart?”

The very thought humiliated Cassie and she vehemently shook her head no. “Not a chance. We’ve been sitting for awhile and it will feel good to walk!” she declared.

Georgio smiled and knew that even if she was very tired she wouldn’t admit it. The Athens airport was very large and he would have to keep his eye on her he decided. Right now though she was moving lightly along the corridor and he knew she was fine.

Cassie looked around her with curiosity; she heard several languages being spoken but mostly what she thought was Greek. Still, here and there she caught snippets of French and German, something that was possibly Arabic and even a bit of English. Outside the large windows that lined the concourse she could see jets departing or arriving and lots of lights, but little else.

As they walked past several kiosks and restaurants Cassie realized she was hungry; her stomach rumbled in protest at being denied a taste of the wonderful foods she could smell. She finally giggled as the rumbling grew louder and Georgio asked what was so funny.

“All this wonderful smelling food has reminded me that we haven’t eaten in hours! I’m hungry; when can we eat, I’m starving!”

Georgio laughed with her and said, “I am too. Let’s see what Tena has planned for us, shall we?”

Soon after they stepped out into the main terminal and Georgio spotted his sister waiting for them with a cart to carry their luggage. She waved and smiled at them and Georgio saw the strain that showed on her face. When they got to her he pulled her to him tightly and held her tightly for a moment and kissed her cheek. He felt her body shake a bit as she wiped away a tear.

“Tena, it’s alright; you’re not alone now. How is Dimitri?” he asked while Tena hugged Cassie.

“He is still in serious condition; he has not woken up yet. Cassie, you look lovely today, but tired. It is wonderful to see you again though. Are you hungry? I have been cooking this afternoon; it gave me something to occupy myself.”

Cassie hugged her back and laughed as she said, “It’s wonderful to see you too Tena and I’m starving!”

“Well then let’s get your luggage and head for home.”

By the time they had gotten their luggage and walked to the car Cassie admitted to herself that she was pooped. Georgio saw the fatigue wash over her face and whispered in her ear, “Almost to the car love.”

She flashed him a grateful smile and willingly crawled into the backseat of a limo, which she had not expected. Was Tena rich? Those were the only people that she knew that had limos. She enjoyed it though; the butter soft pale gray seats were very comfortable and she sat back and listened as Tena filled them in on what had been happening.

“It is all very frightening and puzzling Georgio; first the break in a few months ago where they left holes in the walls and now this time, almost the same thing, except that they hurt poor Dimitri so badly. The doctors are worried because he hasn’t come out of his coma yet.”

“What does Damon think of all of this?” Georgio asked. Damon Mereculas was high ranking officer in the Department of Foreign Ministry and International Relations. Cassie decided that was probably explained the limousine.

“He is as perplexed as I am, as the police are. They are looking for something, but we have no idea what. Georgio, we have no money or jewels or anything hidden away. My goodness, the house is ancient and if they are digging in the walls and floors they must think that whatever they are looking for has been there a very long time.” Tena shrugged and bit her ruby-red bottom lip as she took a deep breath. “The police want to know if we have any reason to believe that some of our ancestors might have hidden something away, but that is ridiculous! Wouldn’t we know of it if that were true?”

Georgio’s eyebrows lifted a bit as he listened and a frown creased his forehead. “I’ve never heard anything Tena. Have you talked to Mom? The house was built by her ancestors; if anyone would know I’d say it would be her.”

“I haven’t really. I don’t want to worry her, you know how she is. She would be here on the next plane and ripping out the walls herself to find something that probably isn’t there anyway!”

Both Georgio and Tena laughed at that and Cassie realized that she could definitely see Eleni Gorman doing just that. Woe be to the wall that refused to share its secrets with her.

Tena sighed and said, “Damon will be home tomorrow night and we’ll try to figure more out. Hopefully Dimitri will come out of his coma and can tell us something about the people who did this.”

“Tena, do you think it could have something – anything to do with Damon’s job? I mean, he deals with a lot of sensitive information in the diplomatic channels doesn’t he? Perhaps someone thinks he has something important hidden.”

Tena considered his words for a moment and licked her lips before she spoke. “I don’t think so Georgio; he does deal with sensitive information sometimes but it is usually about travel conditions and such. He doesn’t bring that sort of thing home with him. In fact he never brings such things home.”

“Maybe whoever is doing this doesn’t know that,” he said, more puzzled than ever. “Did they attack Dimitri just because he was there and saw them or were they looking specifically for someone to attack?” Georgio was beginning to think that perhaps he and Cassie and Tena should all stay at a hotel until they could get to the bottom of this.

“We do not know,” Tena said.

Cassie loved watching Tena speak because her expressions were lovely and she talked with her hands as well; long graceful fingers fluidly expressed what her words sometimes didn’t.

Cassie looked out the window of the limo and realized they were climbing steadily up into the hills beyond Athens. She looked back at the city and saw it spread out before her, a golden panorama that was a delight to the senses. She wondered what it would look like during daylight. As she mulled that over the car slowed down and pulled into a road that led to the right. It twisted and turned for a half mile or so before the limo pulled up in front of a huge house that had lights on everywhere. There were two other cars parked in front of the house as well and Cassie heard Tena tell Georgio that they were security provided by the government.

The driver opened the door and they each crawled out of the limo, one by one and Cassie stared in fascination at the house, no, make that mansion that stood before her. A palace maybe? She didn’t know but it was huge and very Greek looking. She could imagine that the Greek Gods once lived in palaces such as this she thought with a giggle.

Made of some kind of white stone, probably marble she guessed, it was made even whiter by the lights that shone on it. A colonnade of white pillars lined the front of the house with graceful archways in between. It looked to be 3 stories tall

Magnificent Cassie thought as she sighed. People were already carrying in their bags and Cassie followed Georgio and Tena up the shallow steps that led to the colonnade and through an archway so that they could enter a massive double door that lead into a foyer that was larger than Cassie’s whole house. She swallowed as she looked around, first at the curving stairway up to the next floor and the intricate chandelier that hung from the ceiling. It was at least five feet across with a myriad of crystals and lights hanging from it. She was immediately thankful that she did not have to clean it.

“Would you like to go to your room first or eat? Whichever you choose is fine,” Tena said. She stifled a small laugh as Cassie said she wanted to eat.

“Eat, now please. It smells wonderful in here!”

Georgio laughed and put his arm around Cassie’s shoulder to lead her down several hallways to the kitchen area. “You will find Tena that she fits in so well - the girl loves to eat!”

“You don’t have to say it quite like that Georgio! For goodness sake, just because I’m hungry!” Cassie teased.

“You are almost always hungry my love!”

“Yeah, well if you didn’t half starve me…”

Georgio leaned down and kissed her on the forehead and murmured “I wouldn’t think of starving you my love; anything you ever want I shall endeavor to provide.”

Cassie was going to pop off with some snarky comment and stopped as she realized just how serious Georgio was. She just smiled and felt about 16 years old as she fairly floated into the kitchen.

Tena had set a small table for three in an alcove which was surrounded on three sides by tall windows. Outside Cassie could see lighted statuary and what looked like a fountain. There was so much to explore here and she couldn’t wait to start.

Tena sat plates down with salad on them and Cassie’s mouth immediately started watering. Fresh greens with huge kalamata olives, ripe red tomatoes and cucumbers in a light olive and lemon dressing sprinkled with goat cheese.

“Oh yum, this looks delicious!” Cassie declared as she picked up her napkin and laid it on her lap. Tena sat down a pitcher of iced tea on the table and finally sat down too.

“The tea was made with bottled water Cassie, you shouldn’t have any problems with it,” Tena said as she poured them all some to drink. She offered Cassie fresh cut lemons for her tea before grabbing a few for her own glass. “Iced tea is not usual for Greeks, but old American habits die hard,” she laughed as she squeezed the lemon into her tea.

After the salad they ate roasted chicken with fresh oregano and thyme and stuffed with almond flavored rice and grilled asparagus. It was all delicious and Cassie sat back happily in the chair, full and satisfied.

“That was wonderful Tena, so fresh and delicious,” Cassie affirmed. “I am so full it will be a wonder if I can walk up the stairs.”

“Oh Cassie, it is not done yet! We have fresh strawberry ice to finish with, very light I promise you. And then, if you can’t make it up the stairs Georgio will just have to carry you!”

Contrary to what Cassie believed, she ate her dessert and managed to walk up the stairs to the suite of rooms that she and Georgio would share.

Her eyes opened in surprised pleasure as she saw them; the rooms were done is rich royal blues with softer blue accents. A bedroom with a massive mahogany bed stood in the middle of the bedroom and it looked very inviting. The suite also had a sitting room, bathroom and large dressing room. All in all, they were welcoming and comfortable and all she could think about was a quick shower and then crawling into the bed.

Their bags had been unpacked while they ate dinner and Cassie gathered what she would need in the bathroom and headed in. The shower stall took up one whole end of the bathroom with a bench in it. The marble in the bathroom was a creamy gold and the fixtures were all brass. It was sumptuous and decadent and Cassie loved it.

She hurriedly finished her shower and dressed in a lovely night gown made of the softest emerald green satin. She remembered that earlier that day she and Georgio were interrupted when they were going to make love so she hoped that the nightie might bring back and inspire more of those thoughts.

Georgio was reading an email on his phone when she came out of the bathroom. She looked stunning and he went to her and captured her lips in a searing kiss. His hands traveled down her back, caressing the soft skin of her back and then sliding over the satin of the nightgown. Gentle hands pulled her hips to him and she felt his desire for her pressed tightly against her. She moaned slightly against his mouth and pulled away to say, “You need to go and take your shower – NOW!”

He nodded and headed into the bathroom immediately. He cast a longing look over his shoulder at her as he entered the bathroom; he couldn’t wait to make love to her, very thoroughly he decided.

Cassie heard the shower come on and decided to pull the covers back on the bed while she waited. She was positive that he wouldn’t take too long and she wanted to be ready when he was done.

The sheets on the bed were a very soft cream-colored Egyptian cotton and Cassie sighed as she felt their inviting texture. She crawled in between them and settled back among the pillows and laid her head back for a moment, relaxing and feeling at peace for the first time in days. Italy had been wonderful but everything had been so rushed and hectic; first with the worry over Sarah and then trying to pull together a Christmas party for the family. Here it was quiet and she was thankful for that. She and Georgio would have time for themselves, to explore their relationship as well as this beautiful country.

It was her last thought as she fell asleep, nestled amongst the pillows. When Georgio came out of the bathroom a few minutes later that was how her found her. She looked almost like a child, so small amidst the huge bed and he had to stifle a laugh. Instead, he turned the light off and sank into the bed next to her and pulled her down under the covers with him. He placed a light kiss on her lips and wrapped his arms around her, holding her close.

To him, it was heaven.

Copyright 2010 by Cynthia Hope Hodge

All rights reserved. You may not reproduce, or retransmit by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying, recording or by any other means without permission by the author.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chapter Twenty

Thank you all for your patience during the hiatus of my blogs. December was a very tough month for my family. Two deaths within 10 days of one another, a family member emergency and a fire at my apartment all made it a very difficult month to get through.

But, it's January now and time to get back on schedule. All blogs will begin posting again on a regular schedule. Happy Reading!!!

Chapter 20

The Games Begin…

“Zeus my love, you’re planning something; I recognize the wicked glitter to your eyes!” Hera smiled at her husband and chuckled, wondering what was going on.

“I’m merely taking your advice, my sweet wife – about Pandora that is!” he declared, the corners of his mouth turning up with the pleasure of his plan.

“Well Zeus, what have you decided?” she asked, walking around him and fixing him with an interested stare. “Tell me my love!”

“Pandora refuses to open the jar so I will send it to someone who will open it!” Zeus laughed out loud and the resonance of it rumbled through the mountains below them. The humans below scattered as they felt the earth rumble and shake.

Hera clapped her hands excitedly which caused thunder to stream from the heavens, further terrorizing the humans below. It never ceased to amuse her, the way they all scattered and ran for cover when a little bit of weather interrupted their dreary day. You would think they would welcome the diversion, but alas! They did not seem to.

“Who will do such a thing Zeus?” she asked, pleased that Zeus now had devised a a solution to the problem that had been vexing him greatly.

“I am sending it to the monks at St. Athos. Lukas will handle it for me and keep my secret well.”

“The monks usually only undertake other-worldly pursuits Zeus. How did you convince them to do your bidding?”

“Lukas owes me much and I’ve promised there shall be no earthquakes or floods in St. Athos for a year hence. If I keep my promise then at the end of the annum they shall open the jar. I shall be delighted to keep my promise if they do what I ask.”

“A whole year Zeus? Seems a high price to pay for services such as this!” Hera declared, shocked at Zeus’ bargain. They drew much amusement trifling with the weather in human world. This situation had caused him much more angst than she had ever imagined.

“Yes, only a year. ‘Twill go by quickly, I promise.” He leaned down and gave his wife a quick peck on the cheek and turned to walk away.

Hera watched him with great interest. A year would be a great deal longer than he desired; she was positive of that!


“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.”


Cassie only vaguely noticed that they were in her bedroom. Her heart was pounding, a little bit excitement and a little bit anxiety. There had been a whole lot of build up surrounding this moment, mostly in her own mind she admitted. When Georgio kissed her, the breathlessness was real, yet she couldn’t wait for more.

For months she had waited and desired this moment to happen. She had fantasized and imagined it; in dreams, both awake and asleep. Now she was afraid she would blow it by worrying too much about it.

Georgio laid Cassie down gently on the bed and lay down next to her, pulling her against him for a moment to give her the chance to calm down a bit. He felt her whole body trembling and while he would like to think it was pure passion, he knew better.

She was nervous, but so was he.

For months he had dreamt of getting her naked and making love to her, and now he felt like an inexperienced teenager, not sure of his next move. He leaned down and kissed her dusky pink lips and then trailed a finger over them gently. The next kiss was placed on the very tip of her nose as his fingers stroked her jaw. He felt her body begin to relax a bit and he smiled, partly in relief and partly in anticipation.

“They say this is just like riding a bike, that you don’t forget, but I’m not so sure about that,” she said, letting out a deep breath. “I think I forgot how to do it!”

Georgio placed another tender kiss on her lips and murmured, “I think you’ll catch on soon Cassie.” He kissed her again and let his mouth slip down over her jaw to her play against the satiny skin of her neck. She arched her neck to allow him more access and thrilled as she felt his tongue licking her lightly, soft strokes that were driving her wild. With each moment and each kiss she felt herself relaxing more and soon her quick breaths were from desire, not nerves.

“I think there are a few too many clothing items between us,” she told him with an impish grin. “What are we gonna do about that?”

“Well, I suppose we could remove a few of them. But I have to tell ya lady; I’ve already seen all your parts so there’s not much surprise for me!”

Cassie laughed and hit him with a pillow, a tasseled affair that was the closest one that she could reach. “That is so not fair,” she giggled. “Now, stand up and take it off buddy, I want a show!”

He leaned over her to kiss her again before getting out of the bed and they both felt something vibrating between them.

“Wow Georgio, you really are good! I feel a tingle already!” she joked. She watched as he reached into his pocket and pulled his cell out.

“It’s my sister, Athena. I’m sorry love, but I’d better take it.”

Cassie nodded and watched as he flipped the phone open and answered it. He listened for a few moments and then he asked, “You are okay Tena?”

The more he listened, the deeper his brow furrowed and he was grimacing by the time he said, “Okay, we’ll do that. Can you arrange the flight?” Cassie knew that something had happened and they obviously would be going to Greece, sooner than they had planned.

Georgio opened his suitcase and wrote some information down and then said, “Okay, I got it. We’ll see you in a few hours okay? I love you Tena and it will be okay!”

He pushed the ‘end’ key on the phone and folded it back up as he sat down on the edge of the bed. He gave Cassie a wry smile and said, “There has been another break in at my sister’s in Karystos. Their caretaker Dimitri was attacked and is in the hospital. Damon is in Paris and can’t get away until tomorrow. She has asked if we could come right away – she’s even booked our flight already. Do you mind Cassie?” he reached for her hand as he spoke and stroked his thumb over her hand.

“Georgio, that’s fine, really. When do we leave?” she lifted his hand up to her lips and kissed it softly.

“The flight leaves from Marco Polo in um, 5 hours,” he said, checking his watch. “I’m going to hire a car to take us to the airport in Venice; it will be quicker than catching a train, even a locale. Do you want to call Sarah and let her know what is going on?”

Cassie nodded as she sat up in bed. Georgio grabbed her phone off of the dresser and handed it to her. “Good thing I got those international minutes,” Cassie joked as she dialed Sarah’s number. When she answered she explained the situation and Sarah told her she would be down in a couple of minutes to help them get packed.

In the meantime Georgio had called the front desk and asked for their bill to be readied and then called for a car to take them to Venice, to the airport. It was a 40 mile trip to Venice and even on the Autostrada it would take close to an hour when you take into consideration all the traffic around the air port.

It was all happening so fast; Cassie hardly had a chance to catch her breath. One moment she and Georgio were about to actually have sex, and then they were off to Venice. They had planned to have a trip down there in two days, before coming back here for Christmas and then making the journey to Greece.

There was a knock on the door and Georgio answered it, letting in Sarah and Adam. The greeted one another with a handshake and pat on the back; Sarah wrapped her arms around Cassie and hugged her tight.

“Hey, you’re going to wrinkle me,” Cassie joked at the fierceness of Sarah’s hug.

“You were wrinkled long before I got here,” Sarah teased. “What do we need to do?”

“Nothing, actually. It’s all done. The car will be here in an hour and then we’ll be leaving.”

Georgio was carried their bags into the living area part of the suite and set them by the door. “Would anyone like a drink?” he asked.

“Some wine, please,” Cassie and Sarah both answered.

Adam couldn’t have alcohol because of the pain medication he was on, but he asked for a glass of Pellegrino and Georgio opened a bottle and poured it into a glass for him.

Sarah grimaced when she saw what he was drinking and said, “UGH! I don’t know how you can drink that stuff – it tastes ‘oily’ to me. So gross!”

Adam laughed and took a sip from the glass. “Just a matter of perspective bella!”

Sarah shuddered in distaste and sipped her wine. She was curious why Cassie and Georgio were leaving so abruptly, but didn’t want to ask.

Georgio poured his own glass of wine and sat down next to Cassie on the couch. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and let his fingers play along the skin of her arm. Their arms locked and Cassie blushed, the warm pink infusing her neck and face. She nervously took a sip of her wine to have something to do.

Sarah watched all this with great interest. If she wasn’t mistaken the relationship between the two had taken a new step and she was thrilled for her best friend. She had waited so long for a man like Georgio; one who would cherish her and love her for the wonderful person that she was. Georgio had no idea how lucky he was.

Georgio crossed his legs and said, “My sister Athena lives in Karystos, a suburb of Athens. Last night someone broke into their home and injured the caretaker when he tried to call the police. Damon, Tena’s husband is in Paris on business and can’t get home until tomorrow; Tena is understandably unsettled by it all so we’re going to go and stay with her. This is the second time the house has been broken into in the last few months.”

“Oh my goodness, that’s terrible Georgio. She’s okay, your sister?” Sarah inquired.

“Yes, she wasn’t home at the time. The house is actually a family home and very old. It was built in the 16th century and rambles all over the place. It was amazing that Dimitri even heard the intruders.”

“Did they take anything?” Adam asked, concerned for Cassie and Georgio. Everything that had happened in his and Sarah’s lives lately was still too fresh in his mind.

“Tena doesn’t think so. Last time they seemed to be looking for something; they cut holes in some of the walls, as if they were looking for something inside the walls. It is very strange.”

Adam nodded and took another sip of his water. Sarah noticed that he looked pale and decided that they needed to get back up to their room. Since Adam had been released 2 days ago and lot had been going on and she knew he needed to rest. She finished her glass of wine and got up to set it on the bar counter. “Adam, I really think we need to get back to the room; your parents will be there shortly.”

He nodded and struggled to get to his feet, using the cane as a sort of crutch. Cassie knew that his injuries had been critical and she felt concern for him because she remembered all too well how it felt. She stood up as did Georgio and went to Sarah, hugging her again and then stood on tip toes to kiss Adam on the cheek.

“You’ll call us, won’t you?” Sarah asked, blinking back tears in her eyes.

Cassie didn’t even try to blink hers back; they flowed unchecked but she smiled through them. “Of course we will. And are you both still planning on coming to the island in March to meet us?”

“Sure, we wouldn’t miss it,” Adam said. “I am looking forward to it a lot!”

Cassie nodded and said, “We are too. Sunshine on an island in the Aegean Sea, what’s not to look forward to?”

At the door the men again shook hands and Sarah squeezed Cassie’s hand tightly. “Okay, we’ll expect to hear from you soon. Merry Christmas to both of you.” Sarah said. She joined Adam at the elevator and waited as it arrived and the doors swept open. She stepped in and waved goodbye and then the doors closed and she leaned against Adam and sighed.

“I’m going to miss her so much Adam.”

“I know bella, but the time will pass quickly. Before you know it we’ll be in Greece with them.”

Sarah could only nod and hoped that it was so.


As the elevator doors swished shut Cassie and Georgio went back into the room and closed the door. “How long until the car get’s here?” she asked, looking out the window.

“About ½ an hour. Come and sit with me Cassie,” he answered as he sat down on the couch.

Cassie turned with a smile and when she went to sit down Georgio pulled her on to his lap and proceeded to kiss her, very thoroughly. “Mm, that’s nice,” she told him, running her fingers through his dark hair.

“Well, it can’t make up for earlier, but it is a promise of more to come later. Is that okay?”

“Absolutely. I’m fine with that. I was so nervous that who knows what would have happened anyway?” she joked.

They sat together, kissing occasionally until the car arrived and it was time to go. Each one thought about how lucky they felt to have found the other; someone to share their lives with.

It was good. No, Cassie wouldn’t trade it for anything. Now, bring on the adventure she decided. She was ready!

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.