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In addition to these, Author Monica_Ann currently completed Dance with the Devil that takes place in Port Charles and has also shared her next book, The Devil You Know, also taking place in Port Charles. Enjoying her next project, Brothers, currently in progress!

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Failings of the Fathers: 31

"Come on, Dad," Sam started to pull Todd's arm.  It was Sunday morning, and from the position of the sun in the sky, Todd knew it was an ungodly hour.

"Sam, what's up, what's the matter?"  he was barely awake.


"You said guy stuff.  Remember?"


"That's Saturday mornings, Sam.  It's Sunday," he whispered, trying not to wake Blair.


"But you promised."


Todd stopped, and opened his eyes.  "Yeah, I did kind of promise.  That was because I meant to, yesterday, but then things went a different way."


"I guess," he was disappointed.


Todd remedied the situation, "But that's not to say that it can't be today, just this once."


Sam smiled, and Todd got out of bed, lifting the boy over his shoulder.  He swung him around, pretending to look for his pants.  "Now, where did I put those?  Hmm, I wonder."


Sam giggled and hung over Todd's shoulder.  "They're on you."


"On me?  Oh, yeah, I guess they are," he said, bringing him out to the hall and toward the stairs.


Blair, who had been watching quietly, smiled to herself.  She loved watching Todd with his kids, and always had.  She turned over, and checked on her littlest one.  She was sleeping, soundly, her little back rising and falling with short, baby breaths.  


What can be better than this?  


She turned and thought over the last few days.  It had been rough, but it seemed to be smoother sailing ahead.  Todd was in a very good place, better than she had seen him since his return.  The kids were all healthy and happy.  She had her new baby girl, and the world was right.  And Bitsy, even with her problems, was at least in a place where she could get help.  She closed her eyes again, relishing the quiet and the extra bit of rest she could get.  It would be feeding time in an hour or so. 


"Mommy, up!"  A little voice said from next to the bed.  "Mommy, play."


She kept her eyes closed.  "No, Ray.  Not right now.  Mommy's tired."


"Mommy up!"  he insisted.


Todd appeared in the doorway, "Hey, Little Man, you gotta come hang with us men.  It's guy stuff this morning."  He hoisted his youngest son and leaned down and kissed her.


She said, "I love this, Todd, thank you.  I'm a little tired from everything."


"You worked hard a few days back there pushing this little one out into the world.  Let me get The Road Runner out of your hair for a bit.  Love you," he called to her, going back down stairs.


She closed her eyes again.


In the kitchen, Todd was cooking pancakes for the boys.  Ray, in his high chair, was banging with his spoon.  Todd did what he saw Bitsy do, and Ray stopped.  "Okay, guys, how many?"


"I'll have like four or five, Dad," Jack said.


"Okay.  Sam?"


"Two."


"Ray?"


"Panacake."


"All right, that solves that."  Within a few minutes, he had a platter of pancakes ready, and had heated microwave bacon as well.  The boys ate with their father, and the conversation went from casual things about school to Jack's girlfriend.  The conversation lulled, and Sam said, "Dad?  What happened to Grandma Bitsy?"


Ray said, "Gamma, Gamma Bitty."


Todd swallowed his bite of food, and then said, "She's getting some help.  She's living where Sister Rebecca Katherine lives.  And she's getting to spend time with Ray Martino.  Remember him?"


"Yeah.  He talked to me about you getting cut up.  I remember,"  Sam said.


Todd grimaced a little.  It didn't seem right that Sam had these kinds of things to be concerned with.  Ray was right.  It was going to affect him, and his mother needed care he couldn't give.  He said, "Well, she's there.  She has all her sketch pads and pencils.  She will get well."


"Like Grandma Addie?"


"Yes, sort of like that."


Jack watched as his father expertly fielded questions from his brother, but this time, he was not worried about his father.  His father seemed lighter, smiled more.  The dark circles were almost faded under his eyes. He seemed - and Jack was almost afraid to think it - happy.


"Will I see her again?"  Sam asked.


"Of course.  Soon."


Jack knew the word "soon" was relative.  But Sam seemed to accept it, and went back to his breakfast.  Jack said, "So, what guy stuff are we doing?"


"I'm still thinking about that," Todd said.


"Play?  Play, Daddy?"  Ray said.


"Eat your pancake, Ray."


Ray had pancake in between his fingers and was trying to get it out with his tongue.  Jack reached over without thinking much and cleaned his hands with some paper towels.  Todd watched him.  "Got that down, don't you?"


"I guess," Jack said, tossing the paper toweling into the trashcan.  He made it in, without fail.  


"What if we go into town and go to the arcade?"  Todd said.


"What's Ray going to do in there?"  Jack asked.


"Oh, right.  Chuck E Cheese?"  Todd asked.


"Dad, really?"


"Oh, okay."


"We should stay here and built a fort in the family room and make the fire, and then we can cook all our food in the fireplace and camp out and watch shows and play around inside the tent."  Sam said.


Todd gave Sam the side-eye.  "I like that one.  Jack?"


"Yeah I like that.  We can cook hotdogs on sticks."


"We can go out into the woods and get the sticks first," Todd said.  "We can hike."


"Yeah!"  Sam said, excitedly.


"Let's get dressed, then," Jack said, almost unable to hide his excitement.  


Todd said, "You're not really complaining."


"Why should I complain, it's Guy Stuff Day?" he said, clearing his plate and Sam's.


***


"Let me have a try, at least," the nun said, standing outside Bea's door.  The room she had this time was not quite as expansive and beautiful as the first, but it was somehow warmer.  The view was still lovely, and the nurses had parked Bea's desk and chair looking out.  She sat, slumped down, staring straight ahead.  She made no motion to move or acknowledge the clergywoman on her way in.  Sister Rebecca Katherine covered Bea's hand with her own and said, "Hello, Bea.  It's been a while since I've seen ya."


Bea did not move.  She did not blink.  She seemed to be off somewhere beyond the lake in her mind.


"I came to see ya right away.  So glad that y'ar back, so we can spend time together, like we did at St. Anne's.  Remember?"


Again, nothing.


The nun pulled up a chair and sat beside her.  "I know y'ar afraid.  Whatever it is, it will be all right.  Ya don't have to hide from us, we will help ya.  When y'ar ready, ya just ask and we will help."


Bea didn't move, and the nun gently squeezed her hand to see if she would get a response and didn't.  


She said, "I'm leaving your pad right here, and a pen.  If ya need us, just write something to the nurse.  I live right upstairs from ya, almost the same room up one level."  She wrote on the pad, "654."


She looked into Bea's eyes, and nothing in them showed any recognition.  She welled up with tears and said, "Dear Bea.  Such a lovely woman and a dear person.  I'll be here for ya when ya need me."


She exited the room.


***


Todd had Ray sitting on his shoulders.  Ray took fistfuls of Todd's hair as a way to hold on.  At times, Todd would wince at the hair pulls, but in general, the little hands just held on as not to topple off.  Sam, for some reason, was smacking Todd's back end with sticks.  He said, "Um, you sure you want to put our cooking sticks near my butt?"


"Eeew," Jack said, and Sam continued.  


"This is an extra one," he said, still smacking Todd with it.


"You know what happens to little boys who beat their fathers?"


"No!"  Sam said, smiling and still slapping away.


"This," he said, leaning Ray toward Jack, who took him, and tackling Sam and tossing him around like a big ball.


Ray said, "Me, too!"  Jack dumped Ray on top of Todd as well, and both little boys started trying to beat him up, while he manhandled them gently, ticking and tossing them.  Jack stood watching with his arms folded, smiling.


Sam was laughing very loudly, so much so it carried up to the slightly open skylight where Blair was nursing Jewel, and she could hear Ray and his happy screeches.  She'd opened the window for a little fresh air, because it was one of the warmest winter days of the season.  She could hear them, laughing and playing in the yard.  Jewel finished nursing and fell sleep against Blair's breast, and she gently covered her daughter and put her down.  Removing her nightie, she decided to get dressed and at least act like she was doing more than lounging.


The men came inside on the lower level, and Todd started to whittle the tips of the sticks to points.  He cleaned them off carefully, and defrosted some hot dogs.  He went to the cabinet to retrieve marshmallows, and there were none.  He told Williams to bring the car around, and he said, "We're going into town for supplies, men."


"Cool!" Sam said.  


"And, I think I'm going to see if your mother wants a break."  Todd said.


"From what?"  Jack asked, puzzled.


"Well, from things that, well from the things that, well, from things."


"She's not doing much," Jack said.


"I heard that," Blair said, coming down the stairs.


"Oh no, now you've gone and done it.  You woke the sleeping Amazon Woman!"  Todd said.  "No please, don't hurt me!"


She slapped him on the shoulder and said, "I am sort of bored."


"Then come with us!"  Sam said.


"Should I?"  Blair looked at all of her boys.


"Yeah!"  Sam answered.


"Mommy, Mommy!" Ray said.


"Can we invite Mommy and Jewel to the camp out, please Dad?"  Sam said.


"Well, part of guy stuff is girls, so sure," he winked at her.


Blair was a little nervous bundling up Jewel when she was only four days old, but she did it, and put her into her carrier against her chest.  Todd said, "Uh, huh.  I get that, you get her all the time," and took the harness off his wife and put it on himself.  "Sheesh, feels like I'm wearing a scarf."


"She's very tiny," Blair agreed and slipped her arm in his.


The Mannings all traipsed out of the house into the car and had Williams drive them into town.  The baby slept soundly against her father, but he had to move her to the car seat.  He couldn't help but put his hand on her little head every once in a while.  He looked around him, at his family, and then said, "Hey, Williams, hit Dick's Sporting Goods, will ya?  I have an idea."


Blair smiled and then rolled her eyes, "Todd Manning, I'm really not sure what to expect."


"Expect the unexpected," he said, looking down at his new daughter as she yawned softly.


*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

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