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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Todd's Saga 1: Mrs. Blair Manning

 Blair climbed out of bed.  She wasn’t feeling too great.  She stood up, and the room spun. She promptly sat down again, the spinning of the room making her queasier.  Suddenly her stomach revolted and she clamped a hand over her mouth, and stumbled to the bathroom.  A few minutes later she stood over her sink splashing water in her face.  She noted the dark circles under her eyes.  It had been another sleepless night.

Todd had been gone for thirty days. She knew because she had started counting them the minute he had flown out of Llanview.  To get through the days, she had thrown herself back into work.  It had been difficult.  When he left, Jack had taken every opportunity to rub it into her face that he had been right about his so-called father, and in order to protect him and the rest of her family, Blair had been forced to let him vent.  Everything in her wanted to sit her son down and tell him the truth about Todd, but she knew he would never believe her.  The only person other than herself who knew what had happened to Todd was Tea.  But the days when she could talk to her about the men in their lives were over.   Tea had severed their friendship when she said Todd deserved to be exiled from his family.  

Blair looked at the rings dangling from the chain around her neck.  She caught them and brought them to her lips, they were the symbol of Todd’s love for her,and until he returned, they were her little secret.   Her thoughts went back to their final night together before he left.  Todd had arranged everything.  She smiled.  He had always managed to put together their weddings at a moments notice.  It had proven to be a very handy talent this time.  Their first wedding had consisted of a Justice of the Peace, his wife and a little old man who searched for treasure on the beach.  This wedding had come full circle.  Once again Todd had a located a local Justice of the Peace, who with his wife, had come to Todd’s hotel room to perform the ceremony.  Todd then enlisted the bellhop to be the second witness, and as the sun was setting, the ceremony began.

“Do you Todd Manning take Blair to be your wife, to have and to hold, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live.”

        Before giving his answer, Todd rubbed his thumb on the inside of her palm and then  met her eyes.  She saw his love for her shining out of his eyes but when his voice caught momentarily, as he said “I do.”  her heart stopped, hearing him stutter like he had the first time he told her he loved her.  Her Todd, the one rarely seen by others, was standing in front of her declaring his love all over again.  

        For a brief moment she was back in the bedroom of the penthouse, feeling happier than she believed possible, flinging herself into his arms crying. She was brought out of her reverie when Todd squeezed her hand.  “What?” She said looking at him. 

       “The judge asked you a question.  Are you alright, Blair?”

       She could feel herself blushing as she nodded and turned to the judge.  “Could you repeat the question?”

       “Certainly my dear.”  the Judge looked over at his wife and they smiled at each other.  “I quite understand.  Love is never to be taken lightly. Take your time answering.  Do you, Blair Cramer, take Todd to be your husband, to have and to hold, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live.”

        Blair no longer hesitated.  They had been apart for far too long and now, no matter what, they would face this future as wife and husband.  “I do, with all that I am, I take you Todd Manning as my one and only husband.” she said staring into his beautiful hazel eyes.

       “Excellent, do you have any rings to exchange?” inquired the Judge.

        Blair started to shake her head no, then Todd pulled a set out of his pocket.  “When, I don’t understand?” she said bewildered.

        Todd smiled sheepishly.  “I‘ve had them for a little while.  I told you I would never stop trying to put us back together, and I meant it.”  He opened his hand and there in the palm sat two platinum bands and an engagement ring.  An emerald flanked by two diamonds were clustered on the engagement ring, and it was fashioned to interlock with the diamond atop the wedding band. Todd handed her his band and then took her left hand and placed her set on her finger. Then he smiled and offered his left hand to her.

          Her hand shook as she slid his band on his finger. Only one thing remained.

         “By the power vested in me by the State of Pennsylvania, I now pronounce you husband and wife.  You may kiss the bride.  Don’t be shy young man.  You’re married now.”

          Todd looked at Blair, and they laughed, as they recalled almost those exact same words spoken by another Justice of the Peace, years before in Key West.   This time it wasn’t a slight little kiss.  This time they clung to each other, as passion flared.  So lost in their kiss, both were startled when Todd was tapped on the shoulder by the judge.  They parted reluctantly.  Accepting the well wishes from the judge, his wife and the bellhop, Todd paid them and saw them out.  While he got rid of their witnesses, she found herself admiring her rings, watching them glint as the sun finished dropping from the sky. 

       Blair blinked as her rings flashed in her eyes.  She sighed.. “Stop this, Blair.  It’s not doing you any good. You’ve got a job to do.  You promised to hold down the fort, and you’re going to do just that.  It’s only been a month.  He said he would try and reach you as soon as he could.  You have to believe.”  Just then another wave of nausea hit her.  Blair took a quick sip of water to quiet her stomach and then paused. “Oh My God, how could I be so stupid.” She ran to the desk in her room and pulled the calendar to her.  “It can’t be.”  she rubbed her lower belly.  Of course it could be.  He’s Todd Manning after all.  The father of your children.  “Todd, please call.  I have news.”

****

        In a darkened room, a man sat alone.  He kept an eye on the monitor turned on in front of him.  He had been watching her all night.   He had snuck back into town when he was sure he was no longer being followed.  He had been concerned when she had dashed for the bathroom. Now he couldn’t help being curious by her latest movements.  “What’s got you so excited?  Damn, I should have installed microphones.  I’d give anything to hear your voice right now.   I’m here, as promised.  I’ll be in touch soon.  I love you, Mrs. Manning.”  He set a phone down on the table with a note attached and left the room, locking it up.  It wasn’t quite time yet for a face to face. 

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hope from the Ocean: 10

Jack and Jenna were in their special place for lunch.

She had her head on his shoulder, her eyes closed.  He was eating his sandwich quietly and listened to her small breaths.  She was asleep, and he was glad.  He knew she had been tormented with grief over her mother, and she had confided in him about her nightmares.  He chewed his lunch, looked into the courtyard, and saw the light snow beginning to fall.  Suddenly, she stirred, sitting up.

"Hey," she said.

"Hey."

"You done eating?  I must have fallen asleep."

"You were tired.  You're not sleeping well, right?"

"Right.  I can't believe she's gone."

"I'm sorry," he said, covering her hand with his.

She leaned her head back on his shoulder, and if it weren't for the pain he knew she was feeling, he would have been overjoyed with the closeness between them.  She said, "When your father was gone, how did you cope?"

"I was a little kid.  Really small.  I didn't know any better.  Someone else came along, took his place.  Literally."

"I don't get it."

"It's a long story.  Anyway, I never even realized he was gone.  But I can relate, because when he came back, he disappeared again, twice.  Once, he and my mother were kidnapped together.  I was really scared.  The second time, he traded himself for my mother and my baby brother.  We thought he was dead that time, and he almost died.  But I know, almost is not the same."

"I don't know if it is or not.  But dead is pretty bad.  And she was murdered, Jack."  She looked up from his shoulder, into his face.  He wanted to kiss her, but he knew it was not the right time.  

"I'm sorry.  The guy, Mitch, he was a piece of work."

"He is the one who took your family hostage."

"Yeah.  He was all crazy and stuff."

"Okay.  Do you think she felt it, Jack?  Do you think she felt pain?"

"I don't know.  Probably not."  He said it, though he didn't mean it.

"I always think of it.  Was she crying or begging for her life?  Or did she just die, fast, without knowing?"

"Maybe you shouldn't think about it right now?  Or ask McBain, he might know, if you really want to find out."

She sighed, and lowered her head back to his shoulder.  "Maybe.  It just feels so good to be here and be able to be quiet like this and talk.  Or not talk, either one.  Like you just let me sit here, and I can just be me."

"Feels good to me, too."

They interwove their fingers.  She said, "I don't want to go to class."

He said, "Let's ditch.  If we go outside during passing, we can come right back in here for the next period."

"You can get in trouble.  I don't want that.  Just let me skip by myself, I'll go to the nurse."

"No.  I want to be with you.  You're sad."

She looked at their hands, and then at his face.  "If that's what you want."

"It is."

She let her head drift to his shoulder again, and propped their hands on his knee.

***

Todd arrived at The Diamond Gallery, and waving off Williams, went in through the glass doors and stood in the lobby.  Hearing the soft bell arranged to alert them to customers, Dorian walked to the front, where Todd stood, hands in his front pants pockets, his long, black wool coat open.  He said, "Well, I have to hand it to you.  This place is stunning.  Really."

"Why, thank you, Todd, I'm glad it meets with your approval."

"So far."  It was minimal, with light and a high gloss floor, just as he'd directed.  But she had taken pains to include a splash of muted color here and there, but not to detract from the art.  The floor shone in high polish, and the walls along the whole front were glass windows to the street.  He hadn't mentioned that.  He said, "What made you do this," pointing to the glass front.

"Something just told me it would be something you would do."

She was right.  He wondered for a moment if she had talked with Blair.  Instead, he said, "It's pretty damn perfect."

She attempted not to show her elation at his words.  She'd done something right in his eyes.  That was a start.  Part of her had felt guilt every time she had let him have it at a family function or in conversation.  He'd been through Hell.  Yet, she couldn't let him bring that Hell to her family.  But in trying to stop it, she'd made herself feel worse; she'd separated herself from the ones she loved just to prove a point.  In the past, she'd thought he could help the things he'd done.  Now, she realized, they were part of him that he was fighting, and winning.  And she knew now that Peter Manning had put those things there, whether she liked them or not.

"I'm glad.  Is there anything else?  Something you think we need to pay attention to?"

"Blair."

"Blair?  What do you mean?"

"She's . . . going through something.  I want to tell you, up front, but I also want you to know that she's all right with me.  I know what to do for her, and I will take care of her."

"All right," she said, leaning on the marble greeting counter.  "I hear you."

"She's got this idea she is going to lose the baby.  She's terrified.  I can't say I blame her.  I was there for all three of the losses, and it's Hell.  It almost killed her the last time.  I've made it my business to help her, calm her and see this baby into the world."

She couldn't help but feel a twinge of admiration for him when he spoke of Blair this way.  Remembering her eavesdropping stint outside their bedroom before Christmas, she said, "I know you want the best for her.  Truthfully, I have no doubt she's in good hands, Todd.  Medically, is there a problem?"

"No.  She had a check up, everything's okay.  She's just getting irrationally afraid.  I can tell.  It's almost panic.  It can't be good for her or the baby."

"No, you're right.  It can't be."

"I'm telling you because I don't want to be accused of not doing so.  But I want you to let us handle it. Trust me with this," he said, leaning toward her more, "she is everything to me.  Nothing would mean a thing without her."

Dorian looked into his hazel eyes, and said, "I believe you."

"Good, then, back to business.  The place looks great," he started to amble around, "love what you've done.  When does their art come in?"

"You do know we've enlisted a few other painters.  The art will start arriving in three days or so.  That should be in plenty of time for the opening."

"Seems like it.  Good job, Auntie Dorian, really.  I'm headed home now.  We have a new dog to introduce.  Promised Blair I'd be home in time for that."

"A dog?"

"Mixie."

"Mixie?"

"Yes, mixed-up as he is.  He has a permanent confused look."

She smiled, "That's nice, a family dog.  Not a bad distraction, Todd."

"Well, I'd like to take credit but I can't.  It was Tina."

"Tina?"

"Long story.  I'll let Blair tell it someday.  I'm going to hit the road, and keep up the good work here."

"I will."

He turned to the glass wall, and finding the door handle, he said, "Good night, Auntie Dorian."

She said, "Todd?"

He stopped and looked at her.  "Yeah?"

"Todd, I think this is very hard to say.  I . . . wanted to tell you that I'm sorry for what you've gone through, as a child and a young man."  He wasn't sure he was hearing her correctly, so he waited, to give her pause to change her tone.  That didn't come.  Instead, he noted a tremor in her voice.  "What happened to you, and to your mother, those were terrible things.  You didn't deserve them."

"Thank you, Dorian.  But Blair didn't deserve the terrible things I did to her either.  I know that.  But I am determined to spend the rest of my life fixing that."  He went through the glass, and Dorian followed him with her eyes.  As he got into the back of the limo, running his hand through his hair, small snowflakes began to fall.

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Spidey Sam: Chapter 22


Todd had made sure that everyone was in bed, when he finally crawled into bed himself. He had a long day of taking care of everyone.  He had to make sure the kids were entertained so they wouldn't ask Blair to many questions about last night.  He had to make sure Blair was comfortable and felt safe.  He had to hire his own security detail because didn't trust the one provided to them by Bo.

The plan now was for Todd to stay in Llanview for at least the next week while Dorian was out of town with David. Blair was still refusing to let Todd or Starr call Dorian and let her know what was going on. Todd and Starr knew Dorian would be pissed when she got home at them for not calling her but, Blair didn't seem to want her around.  So they decided to respect Blair's wishes even if they didn't agree with them. It didn't really matter to Todd though he had an excuse to stick around and be with his children, he couldn't pass up that chance.

Todd was about to turn out the light and try and get some sleep when he heard a noise coming from Blair's room. He walked into the hall and stepped right up to Blair's door. He listened closely at Blair's door and could tell she was dreaming about last night. He was just about walk into Blair's room when Starr approached from behind.

"Mom, is having a bad dream Dad."

"I know Shorty, I was just about to go in, you go back to your room and be with Hope. I can handle this."  Starr walked away and looked back at her father. "Go ahead Starr, I can handle this, I promise." Todd had his hand on Blair's door knob the whole time he was talking to Starr.  He turned the knob and walked into Blair's half dark room.  He walked slowly and carefully walked closer to Blair's bed.  Blair was still thrashing around in the bed and moaning in her sleep.  Todd decided to not getting any closer to the bed but instead call out to Blair.

"Blair," he called out into the dark.  Blair sat up the second she heard Todd say her name. He could see that her night clothes were soaked in sweat.  She sat up and looked around still half asleep and he could tell that she was confused as to where she was and what was going on.

"Blair, it's me Todd.  You were dreaming."

"Todd, where I'm I?"

"Your in the in one of the beds in the suite that rented for the kids and I."

"The kids, did I wake them?"

"Just Starr, but I sent her back to bed."

"I'm sorry I woke you."

"You, know me Blair I'm not that great of a sleeper anyway, it's worse since I got back.  Do you need something Blair?"

"Turn on the light please, Todd." He walked over to the light switch and turned on the light.  Blair was sitting up in her bed.  Her hair was all matted down and her nightshirt was soaked.

"Do you want me to get you a new shirt to sleep in?" Blair looked down at the front of the shirt that Todd had given her to sleep.

"I'm sorry about your shirt."

"It's just a shirt Blair.  I can get you another one if you want?"

"No, Todd will you sit with me for a few minutes?"  Todd took at seat on the chair that was by the door. He was about as far away as he could get to the bed.

"Todd?" 

"Yes, Blair?" he said from across the room.

"I meant would you come and sit next to me on the bed." Todd gingerly walked over the bed and took a seat next to Blair. He was letting her take the lead on what would happen next.

"You know Blair, you don't have to be afraid, I hired the best security team I could find."

"I knew you would, Todd."

"I'm not going to let anything happen to you or the kids while I'm here."

"Todd, how long do you plan on staying?"

"The week, Blair, until Dorian and David come back.  I plan on leaving you and kids with the security detail though."

"Do you have to get back to Port Charles next week?"

"Do you want me to stay longer, Blair?"

"Sam feels safe when you are here.  He hasn't had one bad dream since he has been with you."

"How do you know that, Blair?"

"He told me on the phone yesterday morning."

"He still has bad dreams about that night?"

"Yes, sometimes but, apparently not when you are around."

"Blair, I can stay as long as you want me around."

"What about the paper?"

"I can run the paper from Llanview just the same as I run it from Port Charles."

"What about your life in Port Charles?"

"It will be there when I get back."

"So, you will stay longer than a week?"

"Yes, Blair, if that is what you want."

"What about Aunt Dorian?"

"I can handle your Auntie Dorian."

"She isn't going to be happy."

"She isn't the only person not happy with me.  Half of this town has one reason or another to not be happy with me, starting with my sister."

"You went to see Viki?"

"Yes, I did, yesterday morning."

"It didn't go so well?"

"You could say that."

"I'm sorry Todd."

"Why, Blair?  She has a really good reason to be mad at me.  You all do, for that matter.  Do you want to talk about what you were dreaming about?"

"No, not really, and you don't want to talk about Victor do you?"

"No, Blair, I don't."

"What about Viki?

"That would be like talking about Victor."

"Todd, will you turn out the light and stay with me until I fall asleep?" Todd walked over to the light switch and turned it off. He then took at seat in the chair by the door. "Todd, come back to bed and sit with me?"

"No, Blair."

"Why not?" 

"I have my reasons." Todd stayed up the rest of the night in the chair watching over Blair as she slept in the bed.

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Brothers: Chapter 3

She was his again.  She had just proven it to him.  Not only that, she had shown in to a room full of people.  As Todd ascended the stairs in Shelter, he felt lighter than he had in years.  He could almost taste her lips on his.

Then he saw the circuit breaker.  “SHIT!” came the guttural roar from him.  It had been no accident.

Todd’s first instinct was to run back downstairs, grab her by the hand and drag her back to Dorian’s tacky French mausoleum.  But as he hurried back there, something caught his eye.  He went to investigate it further, but whatever it was was no longer there.  Fear took hold on him and he retreated back to his hotel room.  He went in and began pacing.  Todd knew he should go immediately to the cops, but the LPD was useless and Bozo even moreso.  He knew he should tell Blair, but he doubted she would believe him.  Even he was beginning to worry about his paranoia.  He went to get a drink, but remembered the last time he’d hit the scotch in his room.  Victor may be long gone, but Todd still wouldn’t take a chance with the decanter.  Finally, he decided to go to sleep and take action tomorrow.

Todd was fully intending to talk to Blair about what he had discovered the night before, but he overheard her and Cutter talking about Dani and the near overdose.  Was he right?  Had there been something else in the pills his daughter had taken?

Todd’s paranoia was going into overdrive.  

He readily admitted that he never had much of a relationship with Dani.  When he had returned, he was quite frankly shocked that he and Tea had a daughter from their one encounter.  And then, the girl had already been through two fathers.  He didn’t feel the need to step in to be a third, especially after he thought he’d killed number two and then everything that he had done to Tea and her son just added to the lack of a relationship. 

In his heart, he heard loud and clear what Dani had told him at the hospital, how she had turned to pills to ease her many pains.  But he thought back to her, freaking out about taking it that once, that one mistake.  Had she thought of something else and he hadn’t listened?  He decided to do so now.  He pulled out his phone and called his daughter.  When they met, he didn’t think it would at a nail salon, though.  And his worst nightmare came true when Dorian had stepped in and been her usual self.  But he had gotten some information and he actually passed it on to Bo.  The police commissioner sounded like he’d do diddily squat with it, but for once, Todd would be a solid citizen.

He returned to his room with a new sense of calm. Well, calmer at least.  He sat down on the couch and looked straight ahead.  

There was another note.  It sent that sinking feeling returning to him.  He picked it up and looked around the room.  Someone had obviously been in there, but it looked like they were not there anymore.  Taking a deep breath, he opened up the envelope.  This note was merely list of names.  Dani, Jack, Starr, Sam, Blair, Viki, Tea, Natalie.  Just about his entire family.  He got what the note implied, though.  It was a target list, starting with his kids.

“Well, I know Victor didn’t write it up,” he voiced aloud, trying to take a measure of comfort in that.   

There was no way around it now.  He had to tell Blair.  If something were to happen to her…He wouldn’t even allow himself to go there.  Todd looked at his watch.  It was getting to be dinner time at Shelter and he knew she’d be there.  He made a beeline for the place.

The restaurant was hopping with business as Todd noticed Blair seating Clint and Viki.  His heart pounded in his chest, his sister’s name clear on the notecard in his jacket pocket.  He tried not to think about it as Blair made her way over to the bar after getting waylaid by Cutter.  

“Blair, I need to talk to you,” he began, but she wasn’t hearing any of it.  He pulled her into the VIP room, and managed to get through to her that he needed her now.  His business was, quite literally, life and death.  They headed outsides but once again, they got sidetracked as she headed inside for her purse.

It was then that he saw the glint of the gun metal.  Todd made a mad dash for Blair as he heard a sound and felt the searing hot bullet enter his shoulder.  Todd managed to get her to the ground though, and laid on top of her for a while.

“Todd,” Blair mumbled, incoherent at first.  Then louder, “Todd!”  He grunted a response and rolled off of her, bringing his hand to his wound.  She faced him and saw he was in pain.  She also noticed his hand was becoming bloodier by the second.  “Oh, God, you’ve been shot!”  

“Just a flesh wound,” Todd gasped.  “Need to go…”

“You need to go to a hospital.  Wait here!”  She sprinted down the steps and yelled for Cutter.  “Todd’s been shot outside!  Call an ambulance!”  She came back up, followed by Bruce.

Todd was attempting to get up, but Bruce pushed him back to the ground.  “Mr. Manning, did you see a shooter?” he asked, in full cop mode.

“Really, I’m fine…”Todd protested, but neither the security guy nor Blair were hearing anything of it.  The EMT’s came and got Todd to the hospital, Blair by his side.  She called Viki on the way to the hospital and Todd’s sister agreed to meet them there.

They moved him into a cubicle and went to work.  A nurse came out a short time later with his wallet and other personal items.  It was then that Blair noticed she was holding two envelopes.  Before she could investigate them further, Viki rushed in.

“What happened?” she cried, causing Blair to jump a bit.

“Uh, we were standing outside of Shelter and there were shots fired.  Todd pushed me to the ground and got hit in the shoulder,” Blair explained, slipping the notes into her slacks pocket.

Clint approached the two women.  “Do you want me to call La Boulaie and let Jack or Dorian know where you are?” he asked.

Blair shook her head.  Neither of them were Todd’s biggest fans.  “I don’t think it’s serious.  He was hit in the shoulder.”

As if to confirm what she said, Dr. Pepperman came out of the cubicle.  “He should be fine, but we will need to at least remove the bullet.  We’ll be taking him up to surgery in a few minutes.  If you want to visit with him…”

The two women went in.  Todd was lying on the bed.  He rolled his eyes when he saw Viki.  “Who called you?” he asked brusquely.  

“I did,” Blair answered.  

Todd turned his attention back to Viki.  “I’m fine.  You can go home.  It’s nothing,” he assured Viki.  “Look, if we were up in you kitschy cabin, Blair could have this thing out with a melon-baller.”  Viki remained unmoved.  “Or you can stand right there and give me looks.  Whatever you want.  But I need to talk to Blair in private now.”

Viki looked from Todd to Blair.  She noted a serious expression on both of their faces and didn’t think it had to do with what had just happened.  She left the room and sat outside next to Clint.

Before Todd could turn to, and on, Blair, she began, “She needed to know.  I wasn’t sure how serious it was, Todd and if anything happened…”

“You got the envelopes in my pocket?” he asked, ignoring what she had just said.  When she nodded, he said.  “Go look over them in private.  It’s what I wanted to show you tonight.”  Then an orderly came to take Todd to the OR.  

Blair and Viki watched him go.  Her heart went out to the older woman.  She had been through a strange cycle of loss and reunion with her brothers and it never seemed to end.  “Viki, do you want a cup of coffee?  I’ll go to the shop across the street if you’d like.”  Viki nodded her grateful thanks and Blair left.  Before she got to the door, Blair sat down and pulled the two envelopes out.  From the creasing of one of them, she could tell it was older.  She opened it and read the note.

VICTOR IS ALIVE
FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED…
OR ELSE.

Her mouth hung open as she tried to understand what it meant.  Then, when she opened the second one, she understood the “or else” line.  It was, very clearly, a hit list.  

And her name, and the names of her children, were on it.  

She still didn’t understand it all.  “Todd Manning, you better survive, because if you die without explaining this, I bring you back to life and kill you again!” she murmured as she put the notes away and went to finish her errand.  
As Blair, Viki and Clint sat and waited for word from Todd’s surgeon, Starr pulled up in Llanfair’s driveway.  It had been a frustrating few days.  Why was it that whenever she had to rush back to Llanview, she was redirected through Port Charles?  Starr had tried to not think of the last time it had happened, or anything she had left behind in the town, and actually breathed a sigh of relief when she crossed the state line into Pennsylvania.  When she got to town, she tried to think of where her father may be.  He wasn’t in his hotel room and figured that, with Aunt Dorian out of DC, La Boulaie would be the last place he’d go.  Llanfair was the only other place, so that was why she was at the family estate now.  She walked up to the front door and rang the bell.  She was surprised and pleased, when Nigel answered the door.  

“Miss Manning, what a pleasant surprise!  What brings you home?” the Buchanan butler asked.

“Hi Nigel,” she smiled at him, warm memories from childhood washing over her as she stepped inside.  “Is my dad here?”

Nigel took a step back.  “You must have had a long drive.  Would you like something to eat?  I could fix you a sandwich.”

Starr had known Nigel for a lot of years and knew when he was hiding something.  “What happened, Nigel?  Is it something with my dad?”

Nigel escorted Starr into the library.  “Ms. Lord and Mr. Buchanan received a call from your mother.  Your father was shot --”

Starr didn’t hear another word.  She was out the door of Llanfair and through the doors of Llanview Hospital without even knowing how she got there.  But she found her mother and her aunt sitting there in the waiting room and ran to Blair’s arms.

“He’s going to be alright.  They said it did little damage,” Blair soothed her daughter.  

As if to prove her right, the gurney containing Todd was wheeled back into a room.

“Dad!” Starr shouted, making sure her father could hear.

“Wow, these drugs are really good.  I can hear Starr all the way from the West Coast!” an obviously delirious Todd mumbled.  “Should have done this the last time, Blair!”

It took everything for Blair not to smirk at that comment.  It was good to hear Todd admit she was right, even in his current state.  As they stayed with him, it was becoming more apparent that Todd would be asleep from the painkillers.  Viki turned to Blair.  “Why don’t you take Starr back to La Boulaie.  He’s going be be asleep for the night.  I’ll stay with him and you can come back in the morning.  I’m sure you’ll want to tell Jack what happened.”

Blair and Starr were both ready to protest, but thought better of it.  They left the hospital, promising to be back first thing in the morning.  Both had a lot of talking to do with the patient.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Spidey Sam: Chapter 21

Todd was awakened by the sound of his phone vibrating on the nightstand next to him.  He sat up and realized that Sam must have climbed into bed with him after he fell asleep. He quickly reached for his phone to answer it before it woke up Sam.

"Hello"

"Todd?"

"Yes"

"It's Bo Buchanan, can you come down to lobby? I need to talk to you."

"What is this about Bo? I haven't taken the kids out of Llantano County, you can tell Dorian that."

"Its not about that Manning, I just need you to meet me in the lobby."

"If I'm not in trouble than why can't you just come up to the suite to talk to me?"

"Manning, this isn't a conversation I think you want to have in front of the kids, its about Blair."

"What about Blair!" Todd said louder than he had intended to. He looked over at Sam to make sure that he was still sleeping, he was. "Ok I will be down in a few minutes." Todd grabbed his shirt from the chair and put on his tennis shoes. The suite was quite everyone was still asleep. He walked out of the suite and boarded the elevator. The first thing that he saw when he got out of the elevator was Bo, who was waiting for him.

"Lets take a seat, Manning."

"I don't want to take a seat what is this about Blair, is she ok?"

"No, Manning she isn't ok, she was attacked last night in the parking structure of The Llanview Cinema."

"What do you mean attacked Bo?  What was she doing there?"

"I guess she was catching a movie and when she came out into the parking structure someone caught her by surprise from behind.  She has a broken arm and some bruises.  When she woke up this morning she was asking for you."

"What about Dorian?"

"Dorian is out of town with David for the next week.  Blair didn't want me to call her, she asked me to call you.  I told her that I would bring you to the hospital.  She told me not to alarm the kids, that is why I called you to come down here and meet me."

"I have to leave Starr a voicemail letting her know that I went out and that I will be back." Bo stood off to the side while Todd left Starr a voicemail. 

"You, ready to go, Manning?"

***

Todd and Bo arrived at the Llanview Hospital just a short time later. They got out Bo's Police Cruiser and walked into the hospital. Bo let the front desk know that he was back and he had Todd with him. Bo and Todd boarded the elevator to Blair's floor.

"Is Blair saying that I did this to her, Bo?"

"No, Manning if Blair was saying you had done this to her your ride in the Police Cruiser would have been in the back, in cuffs and we would be at the PD and not at the hospital." Bo and Todd stepped off the elevator when it stopped on Blair's floor. Bo led the way to Blair's room, their was a guard posted outside of it.

"Bo, is that really necessary to have a guard posted outside of her room?"

"Yes, Blair claims that she never saw her attacker."

"What do you mean claims? Don't you believe her?" Before, Bo could answer Todd's question, Blair heard them talking outside of her room and called out for Todd. Todd walked into Blair's room. She immediately reached out for him. He walked slow over to her. He was unsure but he took her in his arms because it seem to be what she wanted. Todd held Blair in his arms for a moment of two before pulling back.

"What the Hell Blair!  Who did this to you?"

"I want to go home Todd, take me home." Todd looked over at Bo for an answer to Blair's question. "She can go Manning the doctor has discharged her.  I don't think though she should be left alone.  I know you have the kids and your suite for a few more days."

"Blair, do you want to come back to the suite and be with me and the kids?"

"I don't want to upset them."

"Blair, I agree with Bo, you shouldn't be left alone."

"We can talk to the kids when we get back to the suite, they are going to find out anyway.  I suppose to bring them back in two days, you aren't going to get that cast off in two days and your bruises."

"I don't want to ruin your weekend with the kids because of something stupid I did."

"Blair, you didn't do anything wrong, you were attacked that isn't your fault." "You are coming back to the suite with me, you can rest there and I can figure out how to move something around so that I can stay the week."

"Todd, you don't have to do that."

"Yes, I do Blair, Dorian is gone for the week and it is just you and the kids here.  I'm not leaving you and them alone not after this happened."

Todd began gather Blair's things from the room. "I don't want to be a bother Todd and ruin your time with the kids."

"Blair, you are not a bother, you are the mother of my children.  You are coming with me, face it this is one fight you are going to lose."

Todd helped Blair into the wheelchair that had been brought to her by her nurse. He wheeled her out of her room and they boarded the elevator. "Thank you Bo for bringing Todd to me," Blair said as she and Todd got into the car Todd had called for while he waited for her to get dressed.

"Thank you Todd for doing this, I know it's not what you signed up for when you came back to Llanview."

"It's going to be fine Blair you will see.  I'm going to take care of you and the kids."

"I know you will, Todd." Todd and Blair rode back to the whole the rest of the way without saying a word to each other.

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Brothers: Chapter 2


Jack’s phone rang and when he looked at the number, he seriously considered hitting ignore.  But then he remembered, she’d just keep calling until he picked up.  “What?” he asked, his voice full of annoyance.

Starr had to smile.  He sounded so much like their father when he answered the phone.  But she thought better of actually voicing that opinion.  “Thank you again for calling me about Dad,” she said.  “I know you don’t really care, but he said he’s recovering from the bug he caught.”  After a pause, she said, “Jack, really, thank you for finding him and getting him to the hospital.”

“Bug he caught?  Is that the lie your precious Scarface told you?” Jack asked her nastily.  

Starr was confused.  “Dad said he had the flu or something…” she began.

“Funny, he’s running around Llanview telling everybody Dad tried to choke him to death,” Jack replied, his ire rising.

It took Starr a minute to realize Jack was talking about Victor.  She had gotten a call from her mother informing her that Victor was, in fact, alive.  To say the news was stunning was putting it mildly.  “Wait, Uncle Victor tried to kill Dad?”

“No, he DIDN’T!  That’s just what Scarface was saying.  But of course, you’d believe him over Dad,” Jack shouted at her from nearly 3000 miles away.

Starr took a deep breath, unsure of where to continue.  He was getting into that hotheadedness that tended to remind her of their father.  She thought back to her childhood and remembered how Todd was calmed in these situations.  “Jack, are really sure of that?  Why would Dad lie about Victor trying to kill him?  I mean, he did try to kill Victor himself.”

“You never understood Victor!” he cried again.  “The minute you got Scarface back, you wanted nothing to do with Dad!”

She tried to keep her tone even but was losing it.  This was what set her off at her brother.  “And you never understood Dad.”  When there was no response over the line, she continued.  “Have you ever thought of Todd Manning?  Who he is, why he is the way he is?  Jack, you need to talk to some about our father.”

“Yeah, like who?”  Jack asked.  “Mom?  She’s already cracking on him.  Tea?  She can’t stand the sight of him.”

“Go talk to Aunt Viki.  She’ll give you the most honest answers about him and Victor,” Starr insisted.

All she got was a grumbled response.  But she knew he’d do it.  Like their father, he knew Aunt Viki was the soothing element in the family.  Once the connection was ended, she went to her computer and booked herself on the next flight to Llanview.  She had some lying ass to kick.

In Llanview, the ass in question had been sitting on a table in a dark, nondescript room in the basement of the Manning Building.  There were few times he could say his heart was gladdened – dancing with Blair under a shower of gold balloons, seeing Starr for the first time in a musty attic, hold Jack and know he was his son.  And now, seeing the young man following in his footsteps, in a good way, going to see the one person Todd had always trusted, was added to those moments.  Todd just wondered what prompted it.  

He left the largest screen running in realtime as he did playback on the smaller ones.  Most of what was taped was boring.  Dorian and David.  Viki and Clint.  He had to put his hand over the screen when Dani and her roommates seemed to be in the middle of a game of strip something.  And he thought the nursery cam was a dead end.

Then he saw Victor walk in.

Todd checked the time stamp.  It was the morning after Dani had nearly ODed and Victor and Tea had kicked him out of her hospital room.  What had caught his attention was Victor wandering around the room in curiosity.  Todd had to close his eyes as he watched Tea come in.  He knew what she was saying without needing the sound.  

The moment of joy he had just felt watching Jack and Viki turned to heartbreak.  His brother may be a psycho murdering ass, but even he didn’t deserve to learn this kind of news this way and at this time.  He hung his head in shame as the scene continued to play.  He was going to end the video when Tea left the room until he saw it.  

Victor ripped the head off a stuffed giraffe.  

Todd’s hand went instinctively to his own bruised throat.  Now he understood what just may have set his brother off to try poisoning him.  

He reached into his breast pocket and grabbed the note.  He contemplated the words for what must have been a while because, when his phone rang, it was Viki.  He looked at the screen and saw his sister on the phone with him.  He smiled at her, as he answered, “What’s up sis?”

“Todd, I need to talk to you.  Can you stop by Llanfair for a bit?” Viki asked.

“Something the matter?”

“Just come by, okay?”

He feigned a put-upon sigh.  “Yeah, but not right away.  The police commissioner needs to see me about my case,” he informed her.

“Bo has some information?”

“He wouldn’t say over the phone.  Needs me there in person,” Todd said as he shut the lights and locked the door behind him.  “Maybe he’s gonna apologize for having me arrested for a murder I seem to have not committed.”

Todd could imagine the long-suffering expression on his sister’s face.  “Todd, please, don’t start anything with Bo.  He and John were doing their jobs.  Besides, remember, you did actually shoot Victor.”

Todd’s memory flashed back to a rainy night in August.  “You take my life Victor, I take yours.”  But he hadn’t, had he?  It was still all a blur and since he had received the note, only gotten worse.

“Todd, you there?” she asked.

“Um, yeah, what?” he asked in confusion.

“I said, don’t attack Bo.  Hear what he has to say and cooperate if the opportunity presents itself,” she practically begged him.

Todd rolled his eyes, but acquiesced to her pleading.  As it was, Bo did seem to have some information on his case.  What surprised Todd the most was how he managed to not give away anything when Bo showed him the picture of the tattooed arm.  It was the same symbol Victor had and that was one the note in his jacket pocket.

His day only got weirder when Tea flounced in and demanded he leave.  After a moment of stubbornness, he walked out the door, but leaned against the wall to hear Tea confirm what Todd had actually feared – Victor had indeed tried to poison him.

He was in a half-daze when he made his way over to Llanfair to be lectured by Viki for the thousandth time.  While he was glad of the confirmation to what he had seen on the monitors, he wanted to get back to check on some things.  He went back to his monitors and kept watch on his family.  Then he turned back to the note and remembered receiving it.

There wasn’t much left for him in Port Charles, he sadly realized.  And he couldn’t go back to Llanview.  There was too much at stake.  He was headed for the elevators when a woman from the front desk handed him a note before he stepped in.  He mumbled his thanks and headed to his room.  Going in, he fixed himself a drink and sat down, trying to plan his next move.  Where else was there for him to go.  Ah, he’d think about that later.  He grabbed the note from the table and opened it.  It had just a symbol on it and, for some reason, a chill ran down his spine.  He opened it up and felt the sensation again, time a hundred.

VICTOR IS ALIVE.
FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED…
OR ELSE.

Todd closed his eyes, remembering that night.  He shook his head, not believing it for a moment.  How was he alive?  And if he was alive, where had he been all this time?  Tea needed him, Jack need him, Sam needed him, Dani need…

He grabbed his phone and looked up the last number that called it.  Dani had not sounded good over the phone and it worried him.

But what could he do?  He’d left town, left his family.  It was what he had to do to protect them.  

But what if something was really wrong with Dani?  What if something happened to Viki or Jack or Sam…or Blair?

He looked back at the note.  There was more going on here.  Something was keeping him from his family.  He’d gotten off two easily for Victor’s murder.  He realized that now.  Why?  

No more.  No more running and hiding.  He was going to get answers and if he had to do it in Llanview, so be it.  He’d been away too long.  His family needed him.  If Victor was alive, he was going to find him and get answers from him if he had to beat the shit out of him to do it.  There was something much bigger at play here and he admitted he may need his twin brother.  This was all tied to the both of them, it had to be.  

He started making plans.  He got in touch with people and got the wheels turning.  Then he went to talk to Starr and see if he could convince her to comeback with him.  He’d need support and knew he always had hers, even if he didn’t deserve it.

Todd Manning was back and nothing would stand in his way.

He looked at the note one more time.  There was definitely something going on.  With Victor now on the run, that was an avenue closed to him.  He’d have to figure a way to get some help from others around him.  Tea was a no go.  Viki he would never put in harm’s way.  The kids were too young.  That left one person.  He focused on Shelter and Blair.  He smiled sadly.  She would help, but he needed a sign that he could let her in.  Someway, he’d get one out of her.  

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hope from the Ocean: 9

The knock at Mr. Basque's door was accompanied by the cacophony of dog barks in different pitches.  He rolled his eyes, and opened the door.

There stood Tina, with three dogs on leashes.  One was a large Bernese Mountain Dog, one was a medium-sized mutt, and the last was a teeny black Pomeranian.  He looked from each of them back to Tina.  All three had quieted down and were sitting patiently at her request.  "Can I come in?"

"Eh, well, go ahead.  I hope they're trained."

She went past him, and all three dogs went with her.  "It didn't quite work out," she said.

"Let me guess, they fired you."

"No, I quit.  They said I was too petite for the dog catching business and wanted me to serve them their last meals.  I couldn't!  The next thing I new, I rescued these three and had to get out of there!"

He sat down at the desk.  The three dogs sat as well.  He said, "Too bad there's not a job for a dog sitter here, you seem to have a way with these pooches."

"I know.  But, let's get to the point.  I need a job, seriously."

"Well, back to the list.  Candy dipper seems to be coming up over and over."

"No, I don't think so."

"How about librarian?"

"Huh?"


"All right, Dance Instructor?"

"No, not good enough of a dancer."

"Cosmetologist?"

"Maybe!"

"Oh, wait, says a license required."

"Oh, well then, no."

"Visual Clearance Engineer."

"What's that?"

"Window washer."

"Uh, no."

"Look, the list is exhausted for the non-skilled positions.  I'm afraid you're out of luck."

One of the dogs barked.

"I appreciate what you've tried to do, Mr. Basque."  Tina said.

"Unless you're going to dip candy, there's not going to be a job today.  Why don't you come back in a week, or two.  Or a month.  Or maybe never."

She looked at him, flatly.  "Well, all right then," she got up.  All three dogs stood.  "Goodbye," she said, offering her hand.

He shook it.  "Now get those mangy things out of here."

She walked out the door and into the hallway.  "All right, boys, what do we do now?"

***

"What else do you think we need for this opening?"  Blair said, sitting on the edge of his desk as she always had.  

He enjoyed the vantage point of being able to look at her crossed knees.  "I don't know.  We have entertainment, food, champagne.  What else do we need?"

"I love the space you got for the gallery.  It's close to here and pretty convenient."

"I put Dorian on the decorating.  Figured with an open credit account she could do some pretty gorgeous damage."

"Well, you have that right."

"I just gave her the color scheme."

"You did?"

"I did."

"Okay, well, what was it?"

"I told her to go minimal and light with high-gloss floors.  She'll handle it."

"You're putting a lot of trust in her."

"Why not?  It's the gallery, not saving my life."

"Hmf.  It's just sort of, cool that you both are actually working together."

"Anything for my wife."

She leaned forward and kissed him.  "I love you, Todd."

"I love you, too, but get off my desk, will ya?  I keep getting distracted by this."  He traced her knee with his fingers lightly.  

For her, his touch was electric, like some energy went through her whenever she felt it.  She got up, and walked across the room.  "The baby is next door with Ramon.  I'll go back and take a shift."

"Huh?  Where's Gloria, or whatever her name was?"

"Genevieve?  She'd been out sick for a week.  Then she told Ramon she had to quit because she's pregnant herself."

"Wow, okay.  We should have a back up.  Ramon's a nice guy, but not the nanny I had in mind."

"Yeah, like a substitute or something."

"Well, let me think about it.  Has to be someone we can trust.  It took a lot finding her."

The doors to the office burst open, and in walked Tina with the three dogs.  Todd raised an eyebrow, then went back to his paperwork, and Blair went to the animals and greeted them.  Then he looked up, "Tina?  What's going on?"

"It's a long story.  Anyone want a dog?"

"A dog could be good for the kids, Todd.  What do you think of this one?"  Blair was petting the Bernese.  

"I don't know, but not that little one.  It's more like a cat.  I like the mixed up one.  He's confused,"  he looked back to the papers on his desk, "He'll fit right in with this family.  Or the big one, I don't care.  Whatever you want, Babe."

"I don't know.  But, I think it's good for the kids to have a dog.  It might help us, you know, protect us?"

"Blair, it's going to be all right.  We don't need protection.  We have Shaun, alarms, and we're okay."

"Extra can't hurt."

"You're stuck on the big one, huh?"  He asked.

"He's so sweet, look at him, Todd."

"He's bigger than Sam, Blair."

"I think he is, I didn't think of that."  She went to the mixed-breed dog, who immediately chased his tail and licked her hand.  "He's trying to win me over!"

"That's good, Blair."  Todd sounded distracted, at best, while reviewing financial documents from The Diamond Gallery's set-up costs.

Tina said, "Well, if you take one, that only leaves two.  I'll probably keep Beanie."

"Beanie?"  Todd repeated.

"The little one.  He looks like a little coffee bean."

He rolled his eyes to the ceiling.  "Sure.  Beanie.  Where are you staying, Tina?"

"Viki let me move in, until I get a job and a place of my own.  I tried a few jobs already.  This last one, well, didn't work out either.  That's how I got these guys."

"Don't explain.  Viki's going to want these dogs?"  Todd asked.

"I'll ask her later," Tina said, and plopped onto the couch.  Blair was making friends with the medium-sized dog, and Beanie was in Tina's lap.  The Bernese sat at attention next to Tina. 

Todd looked at the scene and said, "You know, only my sister."

She smiled, "I guess that's true."

"Need a job, huh?"  Todd said.

"Yeah.  I want to start over, or something, but I haven't had luck.  Unless I were a candy dipper."

"That's real?"  

"I guess."

Blair said, "Oh Todd, he's so cute and friendly."

"I can spot 'em miles away," he said.  Turning back to Tina, he said, "What about a nanny?  Here at The Sun?"

Blair looked up, watching her husband.  He caught her eye and she shrugged.  Blair said, "She is really close with Ray.  They were fast friends when she helped save his life."

"What do you say, Sis?"

Tina was overcome with emotion.  "You both would trust me, with your child?"

"You saved him, already.  You took charge, and heck you helped save everyone.  Besides, you're right next door.  When he's here, we are, too."


"I'll take it!"  She stood up, collecting the dogs.

"Where you going?"  Todd asked.

"To go find these two a home, beg Viki to let me keep Beanie, and get dressed and come back for work."

"Todd, can we keep this one?"  Blair was hooked.

"You want him, Babe?"

"Yeah, he's so sweet, look at how he acts.  He's funny, too."

"He has that puzzled look on his face that will make him be a perfect member of the Mannings.  Sure, why not."

"Oh yes!  Thank you!"  She got up and skipped over to Todd to hug him, and when she did, the dog followed, his leash dragging, and watched.  He chased his tail a few times and then sat down in a coil and rested by Todd's desk.

Tina said, "Thanks, now I only have one to find a home for, if Viki lets me keep Beanie.  Hope she does,"  Tina said, as she headed out.

'What's his name?  Cain Rogan?"

"Oh, Todd, stop.  Maybe his name could be James."

"James?  What is he, a priest?"

"I don't know.  What do you think his name should be?"

"He's mixed up, that's what I think.  What about Bewildered?  He looks lost."

"No, come on.  He is sort of, well, he's got that confounded expression on his face, all the time.  He's so cute!"

"How about Clueless?"

She laughed.  "That's so mean!"

"All right.  Then we'll call him Mixie."

"Mixie.  Not bad.  Do you like that name, Mixie?  He does look mixed-up, Todd, just look at him."

Todd was back into his reports, and Blair went to the nursery to see to Ray and wait for Tina's return.  Mixie stayed right by Todd's feet, curled up as if trying to sleep.  Ramon, returning to the front, happened to look into Todd's office.  "A dog, Sir?"

"Mixie."

"Mixie.  I see."

The dog lifted its head, then put it back down, and sighed.

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