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All readers should know that books by our author Cloud should, for best reading, start with Book 1, The Way Back, followed by The Shadows Fall, Battle the Dark, and the fourth book, The Fourth Life. They do build on each other. The Way Back is the initial book in the series, and begins with The Vickerman Premier from OLTL (of course, written with this author's point of view.) Cloud has also completed her 5th Book, The End of Blame, her 6th novel, Diamond in the Rough and her 7th book in the series, Hope from the Ocean. The 8th in the series, Failings of the Fathers, has just reached it's ending. Cloud usually updates very Thursday and Sunday, so look for Book 9, Chasing the Monsters, to start showing up each week. There are also more to come after this!

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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.

Maria, one of our newer authors, just completed Spidey Sam, where Todd, Sam, and Jack have adventures that don't necessarily warrant approval from Blair.

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chasing the Monsters: 30

Ray looked at his notes regarding Bea.  She was sitting, across from him, her hands folded in her lap, waiting.  She said, "Are you trying to figure out where we left off?"

He smiled, "I guess you might say that, Bea."


"Well, I know that you said that soon, I might be able to leave here.  To go live with Todd and the children."


"Yes, I mentioned that.  It may be time for you to spend a whole weekend with them."

She brightened.  "Really?  I'd love to!"


"Well, yes.  Really.  But Bea, something has been on my mind, to ask you about."


Her face darkened as if clouds were overhead.  "No," she began.  "No, Dr. Martino, I mean, Ray."


"No?"


"No, I don't want to talk about Todd and the sparrows.  I don't."


"I see," he said, jotting a note.  "Can you, at least, tell me why you don't want to talk about it?"


She hesitated, getting up and going to the window.  "Because it's too hard."


"All right.  Then, we can talk about something else."


"Mitch Laurence."


"I guess so if you want to."


"Not really."  She turned to him, and something in her eyes was different.  "Truth is, I'm tired of going over all of it.  Tired of everything that has to do with Peter Manning and Mitch, and what happened to me, and to my son.  I just want to be."  She wrung her hands in frustration.  Then she said, "I . . . is this going to stop me from going to see my family?"


He shook his head, "No, it's not.  You're angry, and you're healing.  That's what that's about."


She froze a moment, and her face changed.  Half-smiling, she said, "Then can you call my son?"


He picked up the phone.  "We'll have him come tomorrow, and get you, is that all right?  Make a weekend of it?"


"Yes!" she jumped up and down, slightly, "Yes, that's more than all right!" 


***

"Mom!  Dad!"  Sam said, taking two stairs at a time.


Jack said, "Wait, Squirt," but it was too late to stop his little brother from barreling up the stairs and to their door.  "Hopefully, he'll remember to knock.  Come on, Jewel, let's go look into the backyard and see the birdies."


"Da, da," the baby said, and Ray, already running around the living room, picked up his favorite toy truck and brought it into the kitchen with them.  


Jack perched Jewel on his hip, and she touched his nose before cooing and laughing.  He said, "Look, it's pretty outside.  There're the birdies, see?"  She looked for a moment where he pointed, then back to his face.  "You find me more interesting, huh?  All right, go ahead, play with my nose, but not too hard."


Ray said, "Going to find Sam," and started for the foyer, when Sam came around the corner, a little dejected.  


"The door's closed," Sam said.  "Sheesh, is that all they do?"


"You might want to calm that kind of talk down, Shrimp."  Jack said.


"What?  They sleep too much.  I hate going to bed.  They're always napping."


Jack looked back to the yard.  "Yeah, that.  Always napping.  They're a little lazy, especially after a flight.  Let them get their rest.  You'll see them soon enough."


"Why do you like to look in that dumb old yard anyway?"  Sam asked.


"Yeah, dumb old yawd," Ray repeated.


"Da," Jewel said, in a way that sounded as if she agreed.  Four of the Manning children stood (or were held) facing the large, sprawling backyard, looking out through the glass sliders.  


Sam, whose face was not pleased, turned away first.  "It's not all that nice out there," he said, walking away and toward the family room.


Jack followed, with Jewel, and Ray came behind.  "Why not?  Dad built this place as a gift for Mom.  Ray and Jewel are growing up here.  Heck, Jewel was born here.  It's not all about us, or you."


"I didn't say it was.  I just . . . don't like it that much out there anymore," Sam pouted.  "I just don't."


"It's just a memory, Sam.  The place has a lot of them.  We've had great times here.  What about your adoption thing?  And Christmas, when Grandpa Timothy fell and you laughed so hard?  And Mom, having Jewel here, and the camp-outs.  Come on."

"And the bad man."


"Yeah, the bad man.  But he's gone, Squirt.  Come on.  He's never coming back.  How many times are we going to talk about this?"


"Why not?  People come back all the time.  Dad came back, we thought he was dead.  And he was gone before that, and another time, Mom said."


"But he wasn't dead, Sam.  Trust me, Peter's not coming back,"  Jack explained.


"Sam," Todd said, quietly entering the room, "Come here, Buddy."


The boy walked close to Todd and said, "Dad!  I'm glad you're home," and hugged his father's neck as he was lifted off the ground.  Blair was already attending to both Ray and Jewel, who had walked two steps toward her from Jack's extended hands.  Todd said, "I told you not to worry, Buddy.  Peter cannot come back.  He's gone, for real this time."


"For real this time?"


"Yep.  
Sam, I don't want you to worry about this.  I mean it.  Do you trust me?"

Sam nodded.


"Then you have to believe me.  He's not ever going to bother us again."


"I wish Daddy would put Sam down so I can get a hug from my big man."  Todd heard Blair say.


He obliged.  Sam hugged his mother and then she took his hand, "You're helping me with dinner, Mister," she said and took him into the kitchen.  


Todd hugged Jack and then his other two children, holding Jewel in one arm, and Ray in the other.  He said to his oldest son, "So, what's new?"


"Nothing much.  Anything with you?"


He hesitated, "No.  Nothing new."  They heard the clanging of pans and dishes in the kitchen.  Jewel was fighting sleep against Todd's chest.  Ray was running around the couch in circles.  


Jack said, "Don't go back there, then."


"Huh?"


"I could tell by your answer . . . whatever it is, Dad, it's too hard.  Just don't go back anymore."


Todd finally felt Jewel's head drop to his shoulder, and he looked at his almost-grown son.  The contrast between them did not deaden the love he felt.  "You're probably right."


"You tell Sam Peter's dead, then let him stay there," Jack said, getting up and going to the kitchen.  


Todd turned his attention to Ray, who was now panting, lying on his back, staring up, with a Spiderman figure in his hand.  He was pretending to make it crawl on the ceiling, and as Jewel let out a small sleepy sigh, Todd swallowed the emotion rising in his throat, and touched the back of her head.


***


"Y'ar so excited, Dear.  What's going on?"  the nun said.


"Sister, help me, will you?  Can you?  I have to pack.  I'm going to my son's!"


"Oh, Bea, ya must be so excited."  The nun hugged her.


"Oh I am, I am.  I wanted to get a chance to know Jack, Sam, Ray and Jewel more, and here's my chance.  I also want to help Sam.  The way we talked about."


"Well, this is wonderful, Bea.  Are ya staying overnight?"


"I get to spend the whole weekend!"


"I can tell y'ar happy, and that's a good thing.  Todd and Blair are just getting back and it will be fun for everyone to have ya around."


"Getting back?"


"They had to go and help Timothy, Dear Heart.  They should be arriving home, soon, if they're not there already."


"I'm so happy, Sister.  Things are . . . I'm just so happy."


"Well, that's good, isn't it.  I am glad to hear it.  I am hoping that ya have a wonderful weekend with the babbies, and with Todd and Blair."


"Sister, how did you meet my son?"


"Oh, it's a long story, Dear.  It was before ya came to St. Anne's.  He was dressed as a nun, ya see, and . . . Dear, this sounds fishy, doesn't it?"


She laughed, "Yes, but my son is always up to something."


"Well, he and Blair were playing nuns, to protect their niece, Jessica, ya might say, and then, well, Blair's water broke."


"A pregnant nun?"


"Yes, well, it was quite humorous, now that I think back on it.  That was Little Ray's birthday."


"Well, then something beautiful came of it."


"Indeed.  Well, Dear, I'll have ya know that when Todd was waiting to see the baby and Blair, he and I connected, and talked.  He was unsure he deserved them, and I set him straight."


"I am sure you did, Sister."  She paused.  "Thank you for taking care of my boy.  He needed you and you were there."


"Y'ar welcome.  It was my pleasure.  I've grown to love him a great deal, and his family."


"Well, they're partially your family, too, now that Timothy has adopted Todd."


"Yes, that's true.  Well, Dearest, let's get those bags packed.  Tomorrow will be here before ya know it."


***


Blair came around the corner.  "Dinner's almost ready.  Is she out?"


"She's out, yeah,"  Todd said, softly.


"Well, we're going to have to wake her.  She has to eat."


"I will.  In a minute."


She smiled and watched him relishing his time with his daughter.  "She loves you.  She feels safe."


"I love her, too," he said.  They both noticed how taken with his own play Ray was, and then Todd said, "You know, Carlo Hesser and Mitch Laurence used to be the big bad demons in my life, remember?"


"Yeah, I remember."


"But the real villain all along was my own so-called father."


"Yes."


"How do I . . .you know, make sure that . . . his poison doesn't infect them . . ."


She interrupted, "Don't even question  it, Todd.  You're nothing like that man.  You love your children, they love you.  Wake Jewel, My Love, it's time for food."  She leaned down and kissed his cheek, and went back to the kitchen.


He sighed, and then gently patted his daughter until she woke.  She didn't complain, in fact, she was smiling when she saw his face looking into hers.  He said, "Time to eat."


She pulled his nose.


Ray said, "Eat, Daddy?  Time for dinner?"


"Yep, let's go, Bud.  Time to eat."


He put out his hand, standing over Ray, with Jewel against one hip.  Ray stood up and took his hand, and Todd led him to the foyer before they crossed into the kitchen.  Right at the threshold before the kitchen area, Ray announced, "Mommy, Daddy's bringing us to eat."


"I see that."


"He wants us to be big and stwong wike him."


"I see that, too."


Ray looked up at his father, who still had his hand, "I wuv you, Dad."


"I love you too, Ray," Todd said, putting Jewel into her high chair.  Then, putting the booster seat on another chair, he lifted Ray under the arms and sat him down.  Pulling his own chair back from the table, he patted Sam's head and took Jack's cell phone out of his hand as he texted at the table, and placed it down near his own plate.  "Family time, Bro."


At first, Jack seemed indignant, but hearing his father, he smiled and shook his head.  "Bro?  Okay, Dad, okay."


Todd glanced up to Blair, who was bringing the food over to the table, and as she placed the tray down, she folded her arms and looked at him, as if to say, "See?"


He said, "Let's go, Mommy.  Time to eat something here.  Sam, you start us off with the high of your day."


"Seeing you guys come home," he said, without hesitation.


"Okay.  Mine too," he said, "seeing you guys.  Now, let's eat before it gets cold."


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

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