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.