"Dinner is served!" Cassie called out as she set a platter of crab enchiladas on the table.
Michael, Marella, String and Dominic all came into the small dining area of Dominic's apartment and gathered around the table.
As Michael strode in he sniffed the aroma in the air and exclaimed, "That smells terrific."
"Thank you, Michael." Cassie replied, "Though this is only a small contribution of my gratitude towards all that you have done for me."
Michael pulled out a chair for Cassie to sit in.
"You better watch out, Michael." String said, as he sat down to the table. "Dominic has put on a couple of pounds, thanks to Cassie's gratitude."
"I have to admit, I have eaten well this last month," Dom chuckled. "Cassie is a good cook."
Cassie bowed her head as she blushed. "Some how I needed to pay Dom back for all his kindness," she explained, "And the only options I had to offer were cooking and cleaning."
After everyone had filled his or her plates and began eating, String commented that it was too bad there wasn't any brandy to offer a toast with.
Cassie turned to glare at String just in time to see his stone poker face break into a smile. He raised his cup of punch and said, "To Cassie's full recovery." All the others around the table raised their own cups in unison and Said, "Here, here!"
Cassie then stood and raised her cup of punch and said, "To good friends. Thank you one and all." This too was followed with full approval.
After sitting back down, Cassie turned and looked a String and asked, "Do you remember when I told you that I would trade places with you in an instant?"
Strings face turned back to stone and he replied, "Yes."
"Well I think I may have spoke in haste," she chided him.
String looked around the table until his eyes came to rest on Dominic and he asked, "While you have been staying with Dom, you decided that he isn't such a great blessing?"
"Hey!" Dom cried out.
"No!" Cassie responded, "Dom has already told me that he would be glad to be my surrogate father." Then she paused and wrinkled her nose at String. "Does that make you my surrogate big brother?" Everyone laughed.
"So why did you deicide that trading places with me was not a good Idea?" String asked.
"It's the flying," she announced. "You and Dom can keep that part of your life to yourselves." That brought another round of laughter from everyone.
Then Michael inquired, "Is that why we are eating here and not out at the cabin?"
"Yeah," Dom chuckled. "While she was still in the hospital, she made me promise that I would never make her fly in a helicopter again." There was yet another round of laughter, as Cassie blushed and ducked her head again.
Michael asked, "So Cassie what are your plans for the future?"
"I'm thinking about being a nanny again," Cassie said thoughtfully, then added, "that is if, I can find a family that isn't going to get me into more trouble."
"Maybe you should ask Michael to help you with that," String suggested. "He's very good at checking into people's backgrounds."
"Actually," Michael spoke up. "I do know of some families that would love to have a good nanny."
"That won't get me into trouble?" Cassie asked.
"I think we can find a place where both you and the family could be happy," Michael confirmed.
"Thank you, Michael," Cassie said with respect for this man whom she knew little about. "I would appreciate any help you could give me."
"When you're ready, just come to my office," Michael said.
"Oh, that reminds me," Cassie said, as she got up from the table and ran into the living room. She came back in with her hands behind her back and walked over to Marella, and pulled from behind her back a replica of the grannies quilt square that she had given to Hawke. "This is for you." she said as she handed it to Marella.
"I couldn't," Marella protested.
"I thought that because Michael would like dinner better then crafts, that I would give it to you instead." She again offered it to Marella. Marella still hesitated taking it, but when Michael piped up and said, "I'll take it, it would look nice in my office." she quickly reached out at took the craft and offered a sincere, "Thank you."
Cassie turned to Michael, and said "I'll make another for you if you are truly interested. But I think you would appreciate the Indian Starburst pattern better. You could use more color in your life." Both String and Dominic agreed with this statement as everyone chuckled.
"Thank you, but it is not necessary," Michael responded.
Cassie just winked at him and returned back to her seat.
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Later that evening, String and Cassie were sitting out on the steps of Dominic's apartment building. Cassie looked up at the ski and commented, "I do miss the view of the stars from your cabin."
"You have to fly to get there," String pointed out.
"True," Cassie agreed.
There was silence for a few more minutes, then Cassie said, "String, I want to apologize for that night at your cabin. I shouldn't be telling you how you should be feeling."
"Don't be," String said, "Thanks to you, I realized I was taking Dominic for granted."
After a brief pause Cassie's said, "String I want you to know, that I would consider it an honor to think of you as my brother."
"I don't know if I can handle that," String teased Cassie in return.
She smiled and said, "I also want you to know that all this has taught me that I can't pretend that my parents can still be there when I really need them." Cassie said. "It's time I buried my Mom and Dad and moved on."
Then Cassie called to String to get his attention, and when he was looking at her she said, "I'll promise to fly in a helicopter to visit you from time to time." She took a deep breath and continued, "But I want you to promise me something."
"And that is?" he inquired a slight smile on his face.
Keeping direct eye contact, she said, "Please remember that there is more to life then death." Then, to make sure that he understood what she was trying to tell him she added, "Take the time to count your blessing and stop dwelling on your losses. I know you will be a happier person if you do."
String looked back up to the stars and promised that he would try.
Authors note: OK now you have made it all the way through the story, it would be nice to hear what you think. Please leave at least one feedback. Thank you.