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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The End of Blame: Chapter 38

The phone rang, startling Blair and Todd out of their sleep.  She sat up, and he reached across the bed.  "Hello?" he said into the receiver, while she looked at the clock.  It was almost noon.  "We overslept," she said aloud.


"All right, we'll be there," he said, hanging up.  Then, he got a very far away look on his face and stared off.


Blair said, "Todd, what is it?"


"The surgery is over.  He's . . . something must have happened."


"What do you mean?"


"He didn't make it.  He's on life support."


"What?" she gasped, and Todd just sat, seemingly numb.  She cried, "No," and hugged around his neck.


Todd was barely able to move.  He brought one hand up to the middle of her back as she embraced him.  He said, "It was Sister Rebecca Katherine.  Seems she's on the mend already.  He didn't. . .he just stopped breathing."


Blair attempted to keep her tears to a minimum and could not help but think how difficult this was going to be for Todd.  After all of the curves thrown his way, this surely would be devastating.  He continued, "We just . . . I don't know.  I finally forgive the guy, and this."


"Be grateful, " she said, "at least he knew."


He nodded.  "We have to go.  We have to support Sister."


"Yes, we do."


He jumped up and got out of bed, heading to the shower.  She said, "Are you all right, Todd?"


"Yeah, I'm all right.  Let's get going."


The rest of the morning was difficult; Blair was concerned at how distant and uncannily calm Todd was in light of the call from Sister Rebecca Katherine.  He was robotic in his movements as he readied for the day, and dressed silently.  Her concern turned to outright worry when he became silent throughout the entire journey to the hospital.  He held her hand, meshing his fingers with hers, and covering it with the other hand across his lap, but never uttered a word.  She feared he was not ready for letting go or dealing with the emotion of the day.


When they arrived, the couple went directly to Sister Rebecca Katherine's bedside.  She was peaceful, composed and reticent, and explained how she had found out, quite accidentally from the nurse, about the events that passed.  "I was just waking, and she was fixing my blanket.  I said something, I was sort of out of it, still coming out of the anethesia, and I heard her say something about the fact that the man that got part of my liver did not survive and was on life support.  I became very upset, of course, and the doctor finally came in and confirmed it.  During the end of the surgery, my dear brother's heart arrested, and in restarting it, they found he could not breathe on his own."


Blair sat on the edge of the woman's bed, and held her hand.  Todd was at the window.  The nun said, "Todd, dear, ya mustn't go to any of those places ya go in your head when life hands us something terrible."


He didn't turn to her, but said, "I'm not.  I'm okay."


Blair said, "What can we do for you, Sister?"


"Oh, nothing my dear.  Just be here, Bridgette, when I have to make the choice to let him go."


Todd squeezed his eyes shut.  He'd once again lost his chance to have a father: to see him get well, listen to his speeches of advice; to argue politics with and discuss men stuff; to watch him play with his grandchildren and great grandchildren in the make-shift family Todd was trying so desperately to put and keep together as the grounding center of his life.  Suddenly resigned to the fact that he was never meant to have loving parents, especially a father, he pulled himself together and turned to the women.  He said, "We'll be here for you, whatever you need."


"I know it's not perfect, but at least he was able to repent for his mistakes and ask forgiveness in his heart.  It pains me that he never verbally accepted the Lord, but only He can know what was in his heart."  The nun said.


"That's true," Blair said.


"He was all right with himself," Todd said, abruptly.  Both women turned.  "Our conversation about that made me feel that he was all right with himself."


"That's good.  I want him to be ready.  I'll be praying most of the day, while I'm not cursing these staples of mine.  As soon as I am up and at 'em, I'll go and see him and say my goodbyes.  As hard as it is, I don't believe in keeping the man hovering between this world and the next.  No one deserves that."


Todd swallowed and Blair leaned over and kissed the nun on the cheek.  "You're such a dear," she said to the older woman.  "He is lucky to have you and so are we."


Todd walked to the bed, and took his index finger, tracing along the woman's nose.  "We are.  Thank you, Sister, for everything."


"Oh you're welcome, my boy.  I won't belabor this or draw it out for a long time.  I know what must be done and I am going to struggle to do so.  He would want me to let him go and to be strong."  She fell into tears, "I am just not sure how to go about it."


Todd moved from where he stood and sat, taking her into his arms.  "It's all right, you can let it out with us.  We know it's hard."


Blair was so proud of him, as she usually was.  He was so much more strong that anyone gave him credit for, even herself.  She put her hand on his shoulder as Sister Rebecca Katherine pulled out of his embrace and gently said, "Such a fine man, ya are.  So proud to know ya.  Don't worry, I won't be doing this today, and the both of ya should go and spend time out in the living world.  No need to ruminate here with the dead and dying."


He nodded once, affirmatively.  Taking Blair's hand, they stood to take their leave.  Blair said, "You take care, all right?"


Todd said, "Sister, we want to be here for the last few minutes, so when you decide you're ready, call us please."


"I will do just that, my boy.  Thank ya," she said, and settled down a bit deeper into her bedding.  "I'm going to take some rest now.  Love ya both."


As they walked out, arm in arm, Blair said, "What should we do?"


"I don't know," he answered, "but can we go and see him first?"


"Yes, of course.  Then  we'll decide what to do with the rest of the day."


Timothy was in the bed, with a breathing tube, lying flat in an unnatural way.  It wasn't how most hospital patients were kept.  Todd felt a chill on his back and then said, "I want to know if he can still hear us."


"I don't know.  I think he can, I mean, they say he can."


"Old man, if you're in there and just waiting for the chance to come out, just do it.  We're here."


Nothing.


"Todd, I don't think he's able to.  He's on a ventillator.  Doesn't that mean . . ."


"I don't care what it means.  This is Timothy.  And I'm Todd Manning, damn it.  Nothing goes the way it does in other people's lives in mine."


She blew out her breath in response and smiled, weakly, "No one can argue there."


Todd continued, "We need you around, I thought I made that clear?  And besides, what about Sam?  Come on, Timothy.  Five hundred gallons of bourbon hasn't done you in, why this?"


Blair could hear the strain and sadness in his voice through his snark.  She said, "Todd, tell him you love him.  Then we should go."


"Yeah, Old One, I love you.  You heard her, I know you did.  You always did have an eye for the pretty ones."  Then he paused for a bit.  "You don't need this machine.  You have so many things to get done.  Get back here and do them and keep your promises."


Blair was choked up, and wiped a tear from under her eye.  He stood and took her hand, leading her out.  She said, "Well, that's done.  But can it be, Todd, that this could happen?  That we could finally put ourselves together and get him the liver and then this?"


"Yes.  It can be.  But like I said, nothing goes the way it's supposed to go in my life.  So, I guess in that case, there must be hope."


***


The rest of the day, and into the evening, Todd and Blair spent shopping unenthusiastically for gifts for the kids, and thinking of how they would explain to Jack, Sam and Starr the loss of Timothy, and the original "finding" of him again that lead them astray from Greece in the first place.


Greece.  Todd now realized it was just a memory and a momentary stop along the way, but a small part of him missed the serenity of the turquoise ocean and the quiet, breezy days.  Though he had no desire to return there, his mind wandered back, to hours in the hot tub on the roof of Melian.  With this, came flashes of memory and pain, that immediately and strangely resounded physically oh his palm, where the huge burns were from the candle flame.  Though everything he'd been through during the last summer months, he would relive it all again if it would take away this moment, when he sat waiting for Sister Rebecca Katherine to call and tell them it was time to say good-bye.  He stood outside the dress shop, waiting for Blair to return.  In her possession, she had matching dresses for Starr and Hope.  He smiled, "You think they'll wear them?"


"I know they'll wear them." she said.  "I can't wait to see them in them.  Todd, I miss home so much."


"I do too, Babe, I even miss Greece, and that's saying a lot."


"I know.  It's because. . .well, you know why, I don't have to tell you."


They headed back to the hotel.  Todd had a feeling there would be one more night before their lives and the life of Sister Rebecca Katherine changed forever.


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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The End of Blame: Chapter 37

The following week was a mishmash of traveling between the hotel and the hospital and visiting between Timothy's room and Sister Rebecca Katherine's, who also had to be put into the hospital, to regulate her system and ready her for the surgery.  Todd and Blair laughed about it, occasionally thinking how funny it would have been to see them in the same room next to each other, but of course, the hospital was not even considering that.  They would wake up, go to the hospital, see one of them together, see the other together, eat dinner and return to the hotel.  In the evenings, they called the boys, called Starr, and spent time loving each other.


Todd was best when he was immersed in someone else's problems.  He was a steadfast force to the nun, and to Timothy.  But when darkness fell, he still dealt with nightmares, though not as often, and now with increasing memory flashes.  Blair, in her dedication to being there for him, spent time listening to his fears, holding him when he needed her and sharing her body with him as a manner of comfort and escape.


Soon, the afternoon before the procedure arrived.  Timothy, though in excellent spirits, had a difficult time with good-bye.  He said, "I appreciate all these visits and the time you've spent, my children.  It's been wonderful."


Blair said, "Well, tomorrow, when you wake up, we'll be here again to bother you.  Todd will have time to get a few one-liners going."


"Yeah, I'll have some time while you're out cold to get some good ones."  Todd said.


"Yes, my boy, I know you'll enjoy that.  And be sure to send my love to that little penguin of mine."


"You can say it yourself, you craggy old man, I'm right here,"  Sister Rebecca Katherine was out of breath.


Todd said, "Here comes Mother Superior now."


She said, "And she's not worse for the wear, I'll say.  I just had a match with that young orderly, and he needs to work on his left.  How are ya, brother?"


"I'm fine, sister.  Creena, are ya sure ya want to do this?  I wanted the doctor's promise that nothing poorly will happen to ya, and he could not give me any guarantees."  Timothy said.  "It's a risk ya might want to think about."


She swatted at him, "You've been saying that for days.  I'll be fine.  These doctors are mostly out to protect their collective behinds.  I'm strong as an ox."


"I can attest to this, she beats up my son all the time," Todd said.


Blair said, "Speaking of that, Todd, we're expecting that call from the boys.  It's in an hour.  We'd better get going, I don't want to miss it."


"All right," Todd said, leaning toward Timothy, "Listen, you'd better make certain you come through this, because you owe me about forty years of Dadness."


"I plan on it, my boy.  And you know, I love ya."  He patted Todd's cheek with his hand.  "You are worthy of it, regardless of what the world has taught ya, Todd."


Todd's eyes brimmed, regardless of how he attempted to stop it from happening.  He said, "And you, old man, you're worthy of living.  Remember that."


He pulled back, heading to outside the door to wait for Blair, who turned to Timothy, bent and kissed him.  "Dad," she began, "is it all right I called you that?"


The older man was crying now.  He also found no shame in it.  He said, "Yes, it is music to my ears, my girl.  Bridgette, I will be glad to wake and see ya."


"I will be glad to be there when you do," she said.  She kissed his cheek again, and hugged him briefly.  As she stood, she said, "We need you around, so rest up and be strong.  We love you."  She exited the room.  She put her hand on Todd's shoulder and said, "He will make it, Todd.  He's got the will to live.  You did that."  He looked at her, emotions at the forefront, "You brought him that, by forgiving him."


Todd answered, "I'm . . . let's just say I'm grateful that I did.  In case anything goes wrong, at least he heard me say it."


"Yes," she said, putting her chin on top of his shoulder, and tipping her head against his, "That's it.  You're a good man, Todd.  You are, in there.  You are the only one of us who doesn't know it."


Back in the room, the nun took a seat by her brother's bed.  He said, "Are you supposed to be out and about?  You're supposed to be well rested for tomorrow."


"I am.  I ate the dinner they gave me, early.  We have to fast after 7 pm."


"Yes, I know."


"So, let me get a blanket, here, off the foot of the bed."  She put it over her lap and settled in.


He said, "Creena, what are ya doing?  It's getting later.  Ya should be going back to your room to rest."


"I am staying right here.  I'm going to spend the evening with ya, until it's bedtime."


"Ya don't have to do this, dear one."


"I know.  But tell me, where else would I be, Brother?"


***


Blair pushed the door to the hotel open excitedly and heard the phone ringing inside the bedroom.  She raced to it, picking it up.  "Hi Sam!"  Todd heard her exclaim.  "Darlin,' what's wrong?"  Todd stopped short in the doorway.  Blair continued to speak to her youngest, "Sam?  What's the matter?  Put Grandma or Jack on the phone."


Todd came closer and sat on the bed.  He heard Blair say, "Jack, what's going on?"  She signaled Todd to go and pick up the other line in the sitting area.  He did, and both of them listened.


Jack said, "Sam's being strange.  He's crying all the time.  He keeps having bad dreams."


Todd swallowed.  He just wanted to scoop his little boy up and hug him.  Blair was beside herself.  She said, "Why, Jack?  What is it?"


"He's got it in his head that he did something to hurt you, and that's why you're staying away.  I don't really get it, Mom."


"Oh the poor thing," she said.


Todd spoke, "Hey, Jack."


"Hey, Dad.  It's really weird with Sam right now.  Today, the teacher called Shaun to pick him up from school, because he cried himself sick."


Blair said, "Put him back on the phone, Jack, please."  He did.  She said, "Sam, we miss you."


Todd added, "Sam, it's Dad.  You okay, Buddy?"


Sam's voice was tear-stained.  "Hi, Dad," he said, miserably.


"Hey.  What's going on, Bud?"


"I'm sad because you and Mommy are away.  I think you don't want to come home because of me."


Blair said, "Sam, no, why would you think that?"


"Dad started having the bad dreams when I showed him the camera.  And then, you started crying a lot and we couldn't sleep in the same room with you and Dad anymore.  And it was because of me," he broke down, crying.  "I didn't mean to do something bad, I want you to come home."


Todd caught Blair's eye across the room, and signaled her to stay quiet.  He said, "No way, Sam.  I was having the bad dreams before you showed me that camera.  Way before that."


"What if Mommy doesn't love me anymore, and she only loves Ray.  And I made her mad and sad, and you"  he cried.


Todd's heart broke in half, listening to the little boy sob.  "Sam, that's not true.  Listen, I'm your best friend, aren't I?"


Sam didn't answer.  He sniffled.  "I guess."


"You guess?  You're my very best buddy ever, and I'm your best friend, your partner in fighting crime, you said that."


"Okay."


"Well, I can tell you, both Mommy and I are sorry that we haven't been there for you.  We're helping Grandpa Timothy and Sister Rebecca Katherine."


"I know, Jack said.  But it's all my fault.  I should have helped Mommy better.  I heard you yelling at her.  I heard her crying about it."


Todd felt sick.  "It's not your fault, Sam, none of this is your fault.  I'm having bad dreams because of things that someone mean did to me.  Nothing that you did could ever make me sad.  And as for Mommy, she's crying right now, listening to you, she loves you so much."


He said, "Mom, do you?"


"Yes, Sam, of course I do.  I love you so much, Baby Boy.  Please don't feel badly."


Todd repeated, "You did nothing wrong.  It's not your job to protect Mommy.  That's my job.  I wasn't yelling at her, I was scared.  I had a bad dream, the one about the Green Goblin taking you away.  She was just trying to help me.  Let the grown ups protect each other and you, Sam.  You could never make us stay away.  In fact, we're going to be home very soon."


"You are?"  He excitedly answered.


"Yes, we are.  And Sam, you're my best buddy, I love you."


Blair said, "And Mommy loves you Sam, so much."


"She cries every day missing you."  Todd said.


"She does?"  Sam asked.  Todd could picture his seeing-Santa expression.


"She does.  She loves you, and I love you.  And we love each other.  I'm sorry about my dreams, little guy, but it's not because of you.  Do you understand?"


"Jack!"  Sam yelled, "The dreams are not because of me.  Dad loves me and Mommy does."


"Told you, ya bonehead."  They heard Jack in the background.  "You're lucky your my brother and I love you, or I'd have to tickle you to death later."


Sam came back to the phone.  He said, excitedly, "Mom and Dad, my teacher gave me a sticker.  She said I'm the best speller."


"That's great," Todd said, but he was suddenly overcome with emotion.


Blair picked up on it, and took over. "Sam, I knew you could spell wonderfully.  Remember?  You did great at spelling last year."  She said, "I think we have to go, Sam.  Say bye, and we'll talk to you tomorrow, okay?"


"Okay!  Bye Mom, Bye Dad!"  Sam hung up.


Blair put the phone down, and went to Todd.  She rubbed his back, and said, "Hey."


"Hi, Blair," he said.


"Hi."


"He thought it was his fault.  The poor little guy," Todd sniffed.


"Yeah, he did, but it's not."  Blair said.


She put her arms around his shoulders, "What is it, Babe?"  She asked.


"Just thinking how . . ." he stopped, unable to go on.


"Want me to tell you?  Because I really think I know."


He didn't respond.  Instead, he just leaned against her.  Flash, but I can't see it.  What was it?  

She said, "You were thinking how no one ever told you the things you tell your kids.  And how you wished someone told you it was not your job to protect your mother.  Isn't that it?"


He quietly said, "Yeah, I guess that's it."


"You are a good father," she said, her voice cracking.  "You're the kind of father those boys deserve.  You're the kind of father that Starr has learned to adore, and has shared with her daughter."


"I hope you're right."


"I am," she hugged his shoulders tighter.  "What else, my love?"


"I don't like that he thinks it's his fault, that he didn't do right by us.  That's not right."


"I know.  It's not fair, is it?  He's just a little boy.  There's no way he's responsible." she paused, and then said, "Just like you weren't."


He lifted his head and looked into her eyes.  "I stood there, and I watched, Blair.  I could have called someone.  I should have done something."


"You were a child, probably Sam's age.  And you need to let this go.  Just like Sam.  And since you don't have a Mom, or a Dad, telling you, I'll do it.  It was not your fault.  You couldn't save her.  You were just a little boy."


He closed his eyes, and with his head still on her shoulder, he took her hand.  Their fingers interlocked, and she played with his hand before taking it to her chest and placing it over her heart.  


***


It was dark.  The sound of the machines around her beeped, and a green glow from the monitor reflected off her brother's face.  She had said her good-byes and good lucks to him, and now, after ten, he was sleeping soundly, and she was still beside him in the guest chair.  Smoothing the hair off his forehead, she said, "Brother, you're all I have left in this world that's of my blood.  You mustn't go from me," and kissed him, walking out silently.


*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
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Monday, October 29, 2012

The End of Blame: Chapter 36 (adult)


At the end of dinner, Sister Rebecca Katherine pushed back her chair a bit.  "My goodness, I don't think I've eaten so much in my life, Todd.  What a meal, dear.  Ya spared no expense."


"No reason to, Mum."  Todd teased her.


"Tell me, how is the sleeping going?  Have you been able to sleep more, now?  Any more dreams?"


"It seems to be calming down, thanks."  He remembered the flashes he'd been having, that flickered through his mind in milliseconds, but glossed over it.


"I am glad of that.  Ya look tired, though darlin.'  I'm praying for ya."


"Thank you.  Now what was that big conversation about with you and Timothy when we got there?"


"Forgiveness.  He needed mine, I gave it.  I didn't want to wait until it was too late."


"He'll make it.  Now that you're a match, he'll make it."


"We are both a little bit gray around the edges, Todd.  This kind of surgery is a challenge to survive.  And then, the liver has to take.  We both know it's risky.  But if it weren't for you, we wouldn't have the choice.  He could never afford it."


"Well, I'm glad I could help, then."


"And Son, there's someone else waiting to be forgiven, and that's yourself."


He looked at Blair, "You put her up to this?"


She shrugged, "No, I didn't."


She continued, "If ya do, you'll see things change.  I know it's not just magic words, ya need to feel  it and mean it, both.  It's going to be a hard task for ya, but somehow, you're going to have to try.  Otherwise, you'll go on pining for your mistakes forever."


He ate his dessert quietly.  Blair took his hand under the table and rubbed his knuckle with her thumb.  "She's right."  Then she looked to the nun, "I've told him this many times, Sister.  He's having trouble doing it.  I think he knows it's part of the answer. But getting there is the problem."


"I see.  Not an easy fix.  But ya can.  It will hit ya."


He wasn't sure how she could believe it when he didn't.  He had done so much wrong, to so many.  He wondered what, if anything, could start to ease the guilt that came with those things.  He said, "Yeah, like a ton of feathers."


"A ton is still a ton.  It may take longer to get a ton of feathers, but it's still a ton after all.  You will get there,"  the nun said.  "I hate to eat and run, but I am so tired today, that flight must have taken the wind out of me."


He ate the last bite of his brownie sundae, and said, "No problem.  You ready, Blair?"


"Yep."


He paid the bill, leaving a generous tip.  The three of them went out to the taxi, the little nun in front, and he and Blair, tall and statuesque, behind, arm in arm.  In the cab, quiet set in.  The nun sat beside the driver, and instead of her usual incessant small talk, he could see her doze in the mirror.  Blair was against him in the back, her head lightly lolling against his shoulder.  He, starkly awake, looked around the city of Dublin.  He thought how all cities looked the same at night with the lights glittering and the traffic moving.


It was barely dark, but the day had been full, especially for Sister Rebecca Katherine.  He looked at Blair, who was now sleeping on his shoulder.  She was so beautiful to him, and always had been.  Even though years had passed, and they had created three children together and took in a fourth, she looked so much the same to him every time he looked at her, as she did the first time he spoke to her in Rodi's.  Time was good to her.  She moved, nestling closer to him and slid her hand across his chest.  He loved her touch.  It made him feel so good, so living.


The car slowed.  He got out, gently waking Blair, and then went to the nun's side of the car.  Opening the door, he helped her out onto the pavement in front of the Arlington.  He said, "Watch it there, George Foreman."


"Ah, you make fun, but if I really whalloped ya. . ."


"I know," and then he mocked, "ya'd be flyin' for a loop, me boy."


He put out his arm and she took it, and he helped her along as Blair took her other arm and they flanked her on either side.  Getting her to her room took a few minutes, and when she said goodnight, kissing both of them on the cheek, Blair looked at him and said, "Well.  Not a bad day, if I say so myself.  How do you feel?"


"I feel good.  I paid those bills, she's a match.  He's going to get the surgery, come home with us.  Sam has his 'grandpa' back, all's well that ends well."


"What about you Todd?  How do you feel?"


"I feel . . . lucky.  I feel good that you're with me.  I feel . . . tired."


"Well that's good, then.  I feel lucky, and good and tired, too."


"Why are you lucky?"


"You know why," she said, leaning her head onto his upper arm as they walked to the elevator, "because you're back with us.  It was hard living without you.  I have to admit now that I can, losing you has never been easy, Todd.  Not since the first time.  I figured I never deserved us to be happy, because of how it began.  I was a liar and a gold-digger."


He laughed, "Yeah, you were, weren't you?"


"I was," she laughed also, then "when you 'died' in Ireland when I was pregnant with Starr, I thought I'd die.  If I didn't have her inside me, I would have.  I blamed myself every day.  Why did I argue with you?  Why didn't I go with you?  Why did I lie to you about the first baby?  I felt like I was getting what came to me, because of what I did."


"You didn't know.  And nothing you did caused that shooting.  You know who's fault that was." He said.


"Yeah, I do.  Kind of like the death of Sommer.  You know who caused that, right?"  She looked up with both of her deep green eyes and waited.

He said, "I see where you're going with this.  You think I'm stupid?"


"No, but I think you're hard-headed sometimes.  Let's talk about that for one minute.  I could blame myself easily for her death.  You didn't want me in the courtroom.  I could have listened.  I could have put myself inside the aisle instead of needing to stretch out.  We could have been earlier and got a different seat.  We could have been later and got a seat in the back.  We could have skipped it altogether.  It didn't matter.  The truth was, Mac Hennessey killed her, motivated by an order from Carlo.  That's it."


"I don't blame myself for her death anymore, Blair."


"Well, I should hope not.  But you do blame yourself for other things," she said, turning the key in the hotel room door.


"I blame myself for stuff I did, yeah.  Of course.  I'm right up there with Peter, Carlo and Leona."


"See?  That's what I mean.  You're nothing like those men.  But, you carry guilt around like it's gold and you're a miser."


He undid his shirt collar, and she finished the buttons, still talking.  "Remember Max?"


"Of course, how could I forget the empty-headed himbo."


"I shot him.  In cold blood.  Right in the back.  You kept telling me not to feel guilty.  But I was.  It took me a while to forgive myself for it.  But you helped me do that," she moved the shirt off his shoulders, revealing his a-shirt over his broad chest.  Slipping out of her shoes, she kissed his neck from a lower vantage point.  She saw him close his eyes and relish the touch of her lips.  She whispered, "So, what's the worst thing I've ever done?"


"Probably walk away when Asa was dying."


"All right, yes, that was terrible.  He never even forgave me for it.  But I can't keep going over and over it.  It's done with.  I can only try and change how I live now.  But, I'm not going to blame myself for Asa being who he was, or the things that came after.  That's just not something I could ever control."


"I get it.  But no matter how you say it, and how much it makes sense, it just has to come from in me.  And I have trouble doing it, that's all.  You've never done something like the things I have, not really."


"I know," she said, undoing his belt, "I just wanted to tell you, once more, what I think about it.  Mostly because I want you to be okay."


"I know, I want me to be okay, too."  Flash.  Fast, unreadable, just a flash of something.


"Are you getting tired?"


"Not really.  Not yet anyway."


"What will it take?"  she stood on the tips of her toes, and put her lips to his, gently touching his tongue with hers.


He said, "Probably more of that, and a few other things."  He wanted her so much.  He wanted to forget and be with her, inside her, all over her.


"You don't have to wait, you know."  She said, softly, and he surprised her by springing into kissing her, wildly, and taking her shirt off over her head with one hand.  He undid her bra and let her breasts fall soft against him.  She could hear her own gasps as he moved his hands over her, as if for the first time.  She pulled apart from him and took his hand, leading him back toward the bed, which had become both his enemy and dearest friend throughout everything he'd endured.


She sat in front of him, demurely opening his pants.  He stood, caressing her head and face.  She said, "Have to get you good and tired, then," and a thrill went through him, one of anticipation and deep want, as he watched her emerald eyes remain focused on his while her mouth started to work his abdomen and lower, where he waited, pointing toward her, hard and eager.  She tapped the side of his leg, as if to tell him to step out of his pants and boxers, which he did.  He didn't care about being naked in front of her anymore.  He wanted to show her everything he was, to let her know she was always the one.  She ran her beautiful, long fingers across his bottom, and pulled him to her, taking him full in her mouth, and his knees buckled.  He took her head with his hands, and after a few delicious strokes, moved her gently away.  "It's too good. I'll come, and I don't want to.  Not yet.  I want to be inside you.  Just want to. . . Oh, hell, I want to fuck you, so much right now."  His voice was gravelly: a whisper.


He'd talked this only one or two times in their lives.  He was always shy about it, reserved and treating it like something forbidden, but for her, this talk tore through her like flame, and she longed to hear it again.  She felt herself flush and moisten, and her desire gave way to her moving toward him, opening her legs wide and pressing her warm wetness against his leg.   Her need to feel him, pushing inside her mouth, was driving her, and his size and hardness made her lick her lips.  He was beautiful, hard and hers.  Her lower half twitched, and he felt her pulsing against his thigh.  "Oh, you will, you can," she said, moving her mouth back toward him.  He smiled, then pushed her back, seductively teasing her, removing her body from contact with him.  


His voice, deeper than his usual speaking tone, said, "Now."  


She felt her heart race.  He was not asking for permission.  He was never forceful or demanding, and never had been.  At the same time, she could admit to herself, the few times he'd ordered her, or even physically guided her, she'd felt a pang of desire so strong, it could have made her climax.  This was one of those times.  When she heard him say he wanted her, so full of need, a tinging went through her center and she ached for release.  She simply leaned back from him, her breasts pointing slightly upward, breathing heavily and as if she could wait, said, "All right.  What are you waiting for, then?"


To her surprise, he pushed her backward onto the bed, toppling her a bit.  Nothing he did was ever crude or could make her feel anything but beautiful and his.  This was no different.  She watched as he brought his hand to touch the little forehead spot between her eyes, then ran his fingers down over her mouth, down more between her breasts, over her belly and between her legs, and rubbed, gently opening her legs with his other hand.  Careful not to say much because she knew what her words could do (and she didn't want it to end - no, not yet, not to stop the exquisite pleasure and want), she fixed her eyes on his, and watched him circle against her with his fingers, until she could not keep silent any longer and begged him for more.  


She caught the smile that flashed across his face when he realized how she was squealing at his touch, and looked at him, bigger than life, waiting to get lost in her.  Just as she was reaching her peak, he moved between her legs and shoved himself deep inside her, and taking long, firm strokes, he made her come, his name on her lips.  He was not far behind her, closing his eyes and finding her mouth with his, when she whispered, "I love you," and with a tug on his earlobe by her lips, he was done for.


She felt his sweat, tears, or both on her neck, and he rolled, whisking her to lie on top of him.  He held the back of her head with his hand and closed his eyes again.  She slipped herself to the side of him, and put her head under his chin.  It only took minutes before he was breathing, rhythmically against her, and she recognized the sound of his sleep with relief. 


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The Devil You Know: Chapter 12


When Jack and Molly got into town, he said to her, “You showed me around Port Charles, now let me show you Llanview.  First stop, dinner at the Buenos Dias.”  They walked into a diner and Jack waved at the waitress.  “Okay if I order for you?”  When Molly nodded, he gave their order. 

“So, this is kind of like Kelly’s,” Molly observed as she looked around.

“Yeah, kind of the place to hang out in town…” Jack said as his voice trailed off.  He noticed Shane Morasco walk in with his parents.  Their eyes locked for a minute and Jack turned away.

Molly looked up to where Jack’s attention was then back to Jack.  “What’s wrong?” she asked as the other boy walked over.

“Though you left town?” the other boy asked.

“Yeah, but I’m back for my aunt wedding…to your grandfather,” Jack retorted.

“Shane, honey, come on.  He’s not worth it,” Gigi said, pulling her son away.

When they walked off, Molly looked at Jack.  “That’s the boy you bullied,” she stated.  When Jack nodded, she asked, “Do you want to leave?”

Jack shook his head and sat up straighter.  “No, I’m not going to let Morasco scare me away.”

They continued to eat their dinner but Molly kept noticing Shane looking over at them.  When Jack had to get up from the table for a minute, the blonde teen came up to her.  “I’d advise staying away from him.  He’s a bully and a killer and he has daddy’s money to protect him.”

“I know all of that,” Molly said forcefully.  “And I know that people can change and they shouldn’t be judged for their past.”  As she finished that sentence, Jack came back and Molly stood up, walked over to him and planted a kiss on him.  Jack was taken by surprise but it was Molly who was more surprised when a familiar voice called her name.

“Molly Lansing-Davis, what are you doing here?” Nikolas Cassadine called out.

Molly spun around and was confronted by her cousin.  “Nikolas!” she called in confusion.  “What are you doing here?”

“That was my question, young lady,” Nikolas asked, putting the full force of the Cassadine Prince into his words.

“I’m here as a guest of Jack‘s,” she said, turning towards the teenage boy.  “Nikolas, this is my boyfriend, John Cramer Manning.  Jack, my cousin, Nikolas Cassadine.”

Shane and his parents melted into the background at the imposing sight of this member of Molly’s family.  “Um, hello sir,” Jack stuttered.

“Mr. Manning.  If you will excuse me, I’d like to have a word with my cousin,” Nikolas said, tugging on Molly’s arm.  They headed outside and Nikolas tuned to face her.  “Now, answer my question.  What are you doing here?”

“Did Mom send you?” she asked back.  When no answer from him was forthcoming, she replied, “Jack’s aunt is getting married on Saturday and he invited me as his guest for it, as well as Thanksgiving.”  Then she crossed her arms over her chest.  “Now, what are you doing here?”

Nikolas sighed.  “Helena will be going on trial here soon and I want to make sure she get what is coming to her.”  Nikolas looked over her shoulder into the diner.  “Manning, as the newspaper publisher?” 

At that, Molly nodded.  “He and his parents relocated to Port Charles late this summer and we became friends.”  She looked through the window before adding, “Uncle Stefan had a biography about his grandfather, Victor Lord.  Would you know why?”

“Uncle probably felt he should have it if he ever came across their family.  Little did he know that would actually happen,” he replied as he went back into the diner.  “Mr. Manning, please accept my apologies.  I never expected to find my cousin here in Llanview.”

“That’s alright.  Would you like to join us?” Jack asked, trying to be polite. 

“No, I just came in here for a cup of coffee.  I need to get back to my son at the Palace Hotel,” Nikolas declined.

“Spencer’s here?” Molly asked, elated.  “Oh, I haven’t seen him in so long!”  She turned to Jack.  “Spencer is his son,” came the explanation. 

“Would you like to come back to the hotel and see him?” Nikolas asked.

“Can Jack come with us?” When Nikolas nodded and Jack did as well, she headed to the door. 

“This gives me time to talk with you, young man,” Nikolas said, a hint of danger in his voice.

As he walked ahead of the teens to his car, Jack tugged at Molly’s sleeve.  “Why does that scare me?” he asked her.

“Oh, that’s just the Cassadine in him,” she said playfully before climbing in the car.

As they headed over to the Palace Hotel, Starr and Michael met up with CJ, Sarah and Dillon at Capricorn.  They sat down and chatted when someone caught Sarah’s eye.  She excused herself and went over to the bar.

“Cristian?” she asked and the person turned around.

“Hi Sarah,” he said, a smile quirking his lips.  “When did you get back to town?”

“This afternoon.  I’m here for Aunt Viki and Grandpa’s wedding,” she said.

“Yeah, I came back for Thanksgiving,” he said then turned back to his companion.  “Sarah, I’d like you to meet my girlfriend, Erin.  Erin, my ex, Sarah Roberts.”

The blonde woman gave her a dimpled smile.  “Cris has told me so much about his hometown and we were able to come back this year, so we figured...”

As they talked, Dillon looked over at CJ and Starr.  “Should I be jealous?” he asked nervously as he looked back to the bar.  Then he answered his own question.  “Yeah, I think I am.”  He got up and joined Sarah.  “Hey, you want anything to drink?” he asked.

Sarah smiled at him.  “No, I’m fine but I want to introduce you.  Cristian Vega, my boyfriend, Dillon Quartermaine.”

Dillon held out his hand and was taken aback by the strong handshake.  Then he noticed, even in the dimly lit club, the guy had muscles bulging out of his sleeve.  “Dillon, nice to meet you.  This is my girlfriend, Erin.”  After pleasantries were exchanged, Dillon and Sarah made their way back to the table. 

“You were jealous!” Sarah exclaimed, he eyes lighting up.

“No I was not,” Dillon defended himself as he sat back down.

“Dude, you were jealous,” Michael told him and CJ and Starr nodded in agreement.

“Fine, yes I was.  But look at that guy?  Is he a bodybuilder or something?”  Dillon moaned.  “He’s got more muscles in his hand than…”  His words were silenced by Sarah’s kiss. 

“Cris and I have been over for a long time.  And yes, it was a bad breakup, but we reconnected on MyFace and I’m happy for him.  He only had eye for Erin the whole time were we talking anyway,” Sarah told him as she looked back at the couple.  “The only thing is…CJ, doesn’t she remind you of Jess when she was younger?”

Her brother looked over.  “Maybe a little.  The lighting here isn’t great.”  He took a swig of his beer as he looked around as he looked at Erin. 

“Hey, when you were flying up today, did Uncle Todd mention anything about his and Blair’s upcoming wedding?  He had said he had some plans about it at the party after his surgery, but he hasn’t told me anything since,” Sarah asked.

“No, nothing today.  He was just telling Jack and Molly about that stunt they pulled on David Vickers all those years ago when he was first married to Dorian,” CJ informed her.

“Oh, the Marilyn Monroe seduction?” Starr asked.  With that, she and her cousins filled in Michael and Dillon in on that particular adventure and how it led into their wedding.  “That is one thing I am going to make sure of for whenever they go for act four.  They will have gold balloons falling from the ceiling.”

“We weren’t there for the reception, but your mom looked gorgeous when she walked down the aisle,” Sarah remembered.  “I think the gown was an antique or something.”

“It was someone’s in the Cramer family.  I just can’t remember whose,” Starr told them.  Then a question popped into her head.  “Do either of you know what their song was?”

CJ and Sarah looked at each other before CJ answered, “I never really saw them as the ‘our song’ type of couple.  Why?”

“Let’s just say, I’ve got a few other surprises for them on that day…whenever it happens,” Starr said, a mischievous grim playing on her face. 

As Michael was preparing to leave with CJ, Sarah and Dillon, he grinned at Starr.  “You told me once you were a mischief maker when you were a kid.  Why do I feel like your channeling that right now?”

“Because you would be right,” she said, a gleam in her eyes.  “I guess with all the talk about Aunt Viki’s wedding, I’m just getting impatient for Mom and Dad and their own wedding.  So, you may be seeing this side of me a little bit more until my parents at least start making plans.”

“I think I can live with that,” he said as he moved in for a kiss.  Then they broke apart, he asked her, “What are your plans for tomorrow?”

Starr’s eyes dimmed.  “I’m going to the cemetery,” she said and Michael understood. 

“You want me to come with you for support?” he asked.

“That’s sweet, but I need to do this on my own.  But thank you anyway,” she said as their lips met again.  A horn honking interrupted them.  “You’d better get home or you’ll have to come back to La Boulaie with me.”

“Yeah, I don’t think I want to deal with your aunt’s husband any more than I need to,” Michael grimaced.

“Are you afraid of David?” she teased.

“Actually, I think I am, even more than your father,” Michael admitted sheepishly.  With that, they had a laugh and parted.   


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Sunday, October 28, 2012

The End of Blame: Chapter 35

In the morning, Sister Rebecca Katherine was off to make her first visit to Timothy.  Having said her morning prayers, she got her habit on, and her veil, and headed out.  She would call a taxi; she did not know what kind of night Todd and Blair had, and did not want to always disrupt them in order to get around.


Standing on the corner, in her nun garb, she easily retrieved a taxi cab, and rode to the hospital alone.  When inside, she took her time, thinking what she might say to him upon seeing him the first time, knowing what she believed she knew.  She got to the cancer ward and left the elevator.  She said aloud, "Which way, Rebecca?"  Then, looking up. she saw the gray arrows that directed patrons to the correct area.  Matching the numbers that she received from Todd, she proceeded.


Timothy was asleep, and she noticed how much smaller he seemed.  Her throat caught; her brother, the one who had held her ice for her and chased away the banshees from her closet at night was dying,  She stepped close to his bed, found the chair, and sat, pulling her beads out and praying for him.


She was engaged in prayer solemnly, when he said, "Creena?  You're here?"


She said, "Yes, Timothy.  I am here."


"He called ya?"


"He did.  I am glad that you and Todd are speaking again."


"Who said we were not speaking?"  he feigned innocence.


"No one, I just had a feeling.  I know your truth, Timothy.  I know why ya left us."


"Do ya, now?"  He could not help but give in.  His sister had always had "seeings."  She knew things.  He still could not surmise how.


"Yes.  I know what ya did.  I am not happy with it, but I know."


"What are you unhappy with, Creena?  You should be glad I am at least still alive, so you can reprimand me."


She put her beads down.  "Ya killed Carlo Hesser.  That is what ya did.  Ya took a life.  Not that he had anything positive to boast about."


He didn't answer.  She said, "He is the one who murdered your wife and your son?"


"If he was, would it change anything?"


"No, but it would be a nifty fact to know."


"He is.  One and the same."


"Did he kill our brother?"


"I believe he did.  That one, I don't have proof of."


"It did not make anything ya did right.  Nothing can excuse that,"  she paused.  "Is it eating at ya, Timothy?"


"It does.  I sometimes wonder if the cancer is the guilt.  I didn't know what it would be like, to take a life, until I saw it happen.  It was not what it seems to be."


"I am sorry, for ya, brother.  And I forgive ya."


He swallowed, closing his eyes.  "Thank ya, my dear sister.  That means . . . ya cannot know what it means.  I also lied to Todd.  That is why . . ."


"I know, I determined that on my own, when it happened.  But he forgives ya, so does Blair, that is what counts.  But, ya mustn't squander their forgiveness.  Ya must get well, and heal yourself, your drinking problem, and give them the father they need.  That man, that boy that lives inside that man, he needs a father, someone to love and guide him and accept him as he is.  And, if you're given this second chance, ya must work to give him that."


He nodded.  "I have thought this, myself."


"He's very troubled."


"I know he is.  He confessed much of his darkness to me, here, last night.  I told him none of it mattered to me.  That I love him anyway.  I believe it may have helped."


She smiled, a tear forming, "I am sure it did.  He has a long road ahead, but what ya did gave him strength.  Just listening and letting him be who he is, his dark flaws and more.  That is what he needs.  I believe it is one of the reasons that Blair can get through to him so well.  She accepts him fully."


"Ah, I knew she would.  He was so afraid, Creena, to go to her and tell her everything he was fighting.  I told him to, knowing it would prove he was still worthy of her love."


"Do ya think it's odd that neither of us have ever had this kind of love in our lives?"


"I can't say neither of us.  I am not able to be sure what it would have been like with Erin.  We did not have long enough."


"No, that is true.  And for that, my dear brother, I am still sorry."  She took his hand.


Todd and Blair appeared behind them.  The nun immediately noticed how the colors of their outfits complimented each other.  She said, "What a dapper couple!"


"Thanks, Sister.  How ya feeling, Timothy?"  Todd said.


"I'm as good as can be, with my little friend here to cheer me."


"Aww, that's so sweet."  Blair added.


"Sister, we came to give you a ride, if you're ready to go?"  Todd offered.


"I am, just about."


"Good, but before we go, I have something I think you all will be interested in."


"Todd, what is it?"  Blair said.


"I gave extra money to the lab here to fast forward the tests and you're a match.  Sister, you can give part of your liver to old sleepy over there.  Might cost me an entire wing, but . . ."


She was overjoyed and clasped her hands.  Timothy nodded, and smiled.  Blair hugged Todd around the neck.  The sister said, "My God, Todd, you're quite the resourceful one!  Thank ya, thank ya so much for this."


"We're going to take you to dinner, Sister.  It's going to take some conditioning to get you ready for this surgery.  We want you to eat hardy.  There's a war on, against that cancer."  Todd said.


The nun clapped.  "Well then, let's get started.  Timothy, I'll take my leave, but remember what I've said today.  This good fortune only means that ya must pull through and then face your own demons to get well."


Todd understood fully what the nun was saying, and his eyes rested on Timothy's for a short time.  Finally, the two women walked out, chattering about the whereabouts of her special meal, and he stepped toward the bed.  "She knows?"


"She did.  I didn't have to say a word."


He laughed, slightly, and said, "That's her."


"It is."


"You promised me, old man."


"I know I did, young man."

"You promised to get well, and quit."


"And I keep my promises.  If I'm living, I will do it.  I won't let you down.  You've been let down all too much by people around you your whole life.  I'm not about to add to that."  He reached his hand out, and Todd took it.  He said, "Son, are ya all right?  That was quite a large burden ya got off ya last night."


"I'm all right.  I slept again.  Blair made sure."


"She's a prize."


"She's my prize.  I can't live without her.  I'm sure of that."


"But are ya really all right?"


Todd thought a moment.  "No.  I don't think I'm really all right.  I feel like . . . an outcast, even in my family.  I'm scared I could turn on them, like Peter did to us.  I used to be able to just go inside myself and never come out.  Sometimes, I want to be there, you know?  I want to get away from the ugliness and the pain and just be there, with her.  But that's gone.  When Leona and I fought to the death, and I almost passed on, that ended.  I went there, and she sent me out.  She told me I had to stay and fight for her.  And, well, that's what I'm doing.  I just get tired, you know.  Tired of . . . thinking. Remembering."


"Ah.  So she's there, in that place in your mind?"


"She was the place.  I used it, all the time when I was kidnapped.  I went there to escape.  Except sometimes, I couldn't come out.  But, the real her, the touch of her, the feel of her, is worth it all."


When speaking of Blair, Todd seemed wistful and longing.  Timothy said, "Now, ya have her all the time, and ya can be with her and make her happy as well, not just yourself."


"I know.  And that's the difference.  I can't leave her.  I promised not to.  But sometimes, my mind just goes there, wants to, because that being isolated and safe is so . . . intoxicating."

Timothy listened, and slowly reacted, "But touching her, hearing her, I mean really, here, out here, it's got to be different.  As if nothing compares?"


"No.  Nothing does.  Especially . . . not to get too graphic, but I can forget anything when I'm physically with her.  Sometimes, I just forget it all, like some kind of spell."


Timothy admitted to himself that what Todd said was not all that reassuring.  The allure of his disappearing inside himself seemed more powerful than Timothy liked, but at the same time, he seemed to have put it in the past.  "You'll be all right.  Ya have each other.  And after my surgery is a success, ya should go home to your boys.  Take care of yourself, so I have someone to keep me going and a family to go back to."


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