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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Failings of the Fathers: 25

"Shaun, you stay in the house with them while I'm gone.  Jack will give up his room, if you want it."

"Not necessary, Todd.  I'll be fine in the family room."


"Just stay with them until I get back.  Once I put this to rest, we can go back to the usual."


"What's this about?"


"I . . . don't want to rehash too much of it, you understand."


"Whatever you say."


"It's about my father."  He offered, having second thoughts.


"Timothy?  He okay?"


"No, not Timothy.  My first adoptive father.  Peter Manning."


The name brought a reaction to Shaun's face much like everyone else's, though he didn't know everything, he knew enough.  "What about him?"


"Checking to be certain the bastard's in the ground."


"You have doubts?"


"I'm not sure.  My mother and Sister Rebecca Katherine and I all have had dreams of him coming to get my kids.  The coincidence was a lot for us, I guess."


"I'd say so.  I get it.  You going to be okay alone?"

"Yeah, I'm fine.  I'm going to see his fiance.  The woman who was going to marry him around the time of his death.  Just to be sure."


"Well, good luck to you with this.  I . . . guess I hope you can put all this behind you."


"Thanks Shaun.  Don't leave them at all, all right?  I'll be back in a day or two.  No big deal, it won't be long," he said, zipping his overnight bag.  He went to the staircase, and looked back.  "Watch out for my mother, she's been under a lot of pressure, she's . . . not doing so good, I guess."  After he said it, he didn't like the way it sounded.


"Will do," Shaun said, going into the family room and setting up camp.


Blair turned when she heard him come into the bedroom.  She went to him and kissed him.  Jewel was on the bed in her basket, sleeping.  He said, "She sleeps a lot."


"Babies do that.  Newborns."


"Okay.  She's all right, right?"


"She's perfect, Todd, thanks to you.  I miss you so much already."


"I won't be gone long.  Just to get this crap taken care of, and then I'll be back."  He leaned in to kiss her again.  He said, "Shaun's moved in.  He'll be here."


"We're all right."


"I know or I wouldn't go."


"Todd?"


"Yeah?"


"Be careful, and if you need me, call or text.  I want to be there for you, if it gets bad."


"It won't get bad.  It's not going to be anything rough.  A conversation with this woman, and move on to the rest of living.  Either way."


"I like the sound of that.  When you get back, I will be missing you so much, I'll want to spend some quality time with you," she said kissing the side of his mouth and down his neck.


"Whoa, go slow there.  I gotta drive!"  He joked.  "Gotta concentrate in the copter."


"Okay," she smiled.  "I love you, so much, Todd."


"I love you, too."  He kissed her forehead, and went through the glass doors to the helipad.  She watched him lift off, torn between hope that he would find what he needed and fear for what he might face.


***


Timothy was sitting by Aiden's chair, watching his son sleep.  A few moments later, he watched him stir, and gently sit up.  Timothy moved closer to the bed, and said, "Hey, Son.  Are ya all right?  How do ya feel today?"


"I feel better," he said.  "I'm ready for whatever comes."


"What does that mean?"

"It means they want to increase my therapy and try to use hypnosis.  They believe it might give us answers.  I still am getting the headaches, so the scar tissue is going to have to be removed.  I guess they want to see if by any chance the pains are related to my thoughts and emotions, instead of my injury, Pappy."


"Can it be?"


"It can.  I don't know the answers, but it makes sense.  I saw my mother die, right when I was injured.  It stands to reason that it can be connected to the pains."


"It's true.  I'm hoping whatever it is, it brings ya peace and lets ya move forward."


"Me, too.  I want a life free of this."


"I know ya do.  I can tell that ya have a goal in mind, and that's always good."


"Yes." He said, and at that moment, the door opened, and Malcolm and Calvin made their way into the room.  


Timothy looked up, this time examining the men in a new light, as if for the first time.  He watched carefully as they approached his son.  Calvin, the taller older man, appeared to be disinterested, but followed behind Malcolm, who greeted Aiden with a smile.  "Mate, are you all right?"


"I'm getting there, yes," Aiden responded, and the two shook hands.


Aiden looked up.  "Calvin."


"You're living, that's a good thing."  Calvin said.  


Nothing seemed out of the ordinary with the men.  Still, Timothy watched carefully as the exchange continued.  It was nothing more than pleasantries and general talk.  Calvin was true to form, rather callous and reserved; Malcolm was more engaging and pleasant.  Nevertheless, both men peaked Timothy's interest as it was possible, if only that, that they could have been out to harm his son.


Timothy's cell phone rang, and interrupted the banter in the room.  He answered, "Hello?"


"Dad, me, Todd."


"Yes, Son," he said.


"I'm a father, again.  Blair had the baby."


"Eric will want to know, would ya like to talk to him?"


"Yeah, but make sure I get you back on before you hang up."


Aiden took the phone, "Todd, is that ya, Brotha?"


"Yeah, it's me.  Blair had the baby.  She's perfect."


"Ah, congratulations, being a father again, Matey.  Is Blair well?"


"She's fine.  It was close for a while, but . . . well, I'll tell you more about that another time."


"Ah, glad it worked out.  Give me the specs, then."  Todd told him Jewel's weight, and Aiden said, "Oh, a little bit of a thing.  But she's healthy, that is what counts."


Both Malcolm and Calvin seemed unaffected by the phone call, as they sat, waiting for Aiden to get off the call.  That was when Aiden said, "Yes, I'm well.  Trust me.  Well, Pappy, ya better go, here's ya father," and handed it back.


Timothy took the phone back, and walked away, while Aiden said to the men, "My brotha, just had another child.  A girl, this time.  She was premature - but healthy."


"A baby is a good thing, positive energy."  Malcolm said.


Calvin said nothing, and sat with his stoic expression and folded arms.  He made no reaction, just listened.


Timothy had walked to the far side of the room and said, "Yes, Son, what else?"


"I'm in Chicago."


"Why?"


"Decided to come and find out for myself about Peter."


"He's likely dead, Son."


"I know.  I've located Connie, with the help of the lawyer you found for me.  I'm plan to talk to her.  I need confirmation.  Blair does, too, and my mother."


"Ah, yes.  I see."


"You sound distant.  Something up?"


"I have my reasons.  I will talk to ya later about it.  Right now, take care of y'arself and good luck with the  search.  I have a feeling ya will be able to put this all to rest soon, and move forward.  And congratulations, Son."


"Thanks," he said, ending the call.


Timothy looked back toward his other son, and saw him entertaining the two men.  At this point, even Calvin seemed interested in his stories.  He was an animated, friendly character who had a great deal of interesting and entertaining history to share.  Timothy sat and listened as well, chuckling at the right parts of the story.


"And then, the buxom one, she turns to me and says, 'Laddy, ya better put that away before ya catch a cold,' and everyone began to laugh like mentallers."  Aiden said, and looking up, spied Tina at the door.


"Hi, should I come back?" she asked.


"No, no.  We're going.  Come on Calvin.  We're going to make a stop at Miguel's."  Malcolm said.


"Great.  The psych ward."  Calvin added, standing.


"Come on, you crab, we're out of here.  Good bye, all.  Aiden, we will see you later."  The two men exited.


Tina walked to the bed and leaned down, kissing Aiden on the lips.  "Ah, the best medicine.  Pappy, cancel all me appointments and shots."


Timothy smiled, seeing his son happy.  Tina said, "Are you feeling better?"


"I feel better now, ya came into the room, Dear Tina."


"I'm glad to see you, too."  Their hands lingered.


"Tina, ya're an aunt again.  Blair's had the baby.  She's only four pounds, the little smidgen."


"Oh, is she all right?"


"Yes, she's fine.  She's perfect."


"Good, it's about time something went right," Tina said, and sat by Aiden's bed.


***


Todd opened the door to his small motel room, and walked in.  He hadn't gotten anything extravagant; in fact, because he was alone, he chose a moderate venue on the route to Connie's sister's house.  He planned to get to her in the morning, have his talk and go.


He had to admit to himself that he was not excited about seeing her, since she hated him so much all those years back.  Most of the women did.  Any who liked him, or showed him kindness were never brought home again.  


All those women.  Had Peter abused them all?

He put his coat onto the chair, and jumped on to the creaking bed, put his hands under his head, and studied the ceiling.  He missed his baby and his wife, and his boys, so much, it almost surprised him.  He opened his phone, and there was a picture of tiny Jewel, wrapped in pink, with her cheek against Blair's.  He ran his finger over the photo on his phone, and smiled to himself, then remembered where he was and why.  "No one is going to ever hurt you," he said aloud.


Then, he flipped through his photos and took a look at Jack, handsome, smiling and strong, and Sam, with his little glasses, holding his Spelling Bee Certificate.  Next, he thumbed across to a shot of Starr holding Peanut, and his eyes moistened.  He had missed so much of Starr's life, as well as Jack's.  He would make up for that with Jewel.  She'd be Daddy's little girl for real, not half-baked like Starr had been, with him always leaving and coming back and screwing things up.  He did remember all that, as much as he wanted it gone.  Little Ray was in the next picture, playing with his truck and holding it toward the camera.  His mouth was open, and his feet seemed perched to take off at any time, and it made him smile.  He flipped backward to the first photo, of Blair and the baby, and studied it.  She didn't look any different than she did when he first met her, all those years ago, in Rodi's at the bar.  She amazed him.


He missed her.  He opened the phone and dialed.  "Hey, Mommy."


"Todd."  She sounded relieved and very sexy.


"Yep, it's me."


"You made it okay?"


"Yeah.  I'm here in one piece."


"I'm glad."


"I was just looking at this picture of you.  You're so beautiful.  You look just like you did when I first met you."


"I'm so much older, Todd."


"If that's true, I can't see it.  I miss you."


"I miss you."


"Jewel okay?"


"She's fine, she's just resting on me.  She just nursed."


"Lucky her."


She laughed.  "Are you feeling all right?  I mean, any regrets that you went out there?"


"I don't know.  This place is similar to Ireland for me.  When I get here, I sort of feel depressed the first minute.  Drags me down."


"I'm sorry.  I wish I was there with you."


"Well, you're busy.  Our daughter and the kids rate, number one, along with you."


"Be careful.  If something feels off . . ."


"It's not going to be like that.  It's going to be cut and dry.  The bastard is dead, and so are all his threats."


"I like that attitude.  Will you call me, again?"


"When?"


"Every hour."


"I could, if you want me to, or we could just stay on the phone."


"We could.  Let me put the kids down, and then I'll call you back.  Want to watch a movie together?"


"Sure, why not," he smiled, leaning over to look at the television remote.


She said, "I have an idea, you brought your tablet, right?"


"Yeah, sure I did."


"Okay, I'll call you back.  I love you."  She hung up.


He put the phone next to him and closed his eyes.  It would take her some time to get the kids in bed, and be able to call back.  Maybe he could keep her on the phone with him until morning.  Even if he had to listen to her breathe.  He loved her more than anything.


Peter is not alive.  He can't be.  He flashed on the drawing that Bitsy had just done of Peter with the bat, and winced.  He's dead.  He died in front of me, in the hospital, right down the street.  He got up and went to look out the window, and sure enough, the hospital was in view.  He closed his eyes, remembering the last things they had said to each other - how he had been so desperate for Peter's love and approval even then.  I couldn't remember a thing.  I didn't even know the half of what he did . . .  the only thing I wanted was his acceptance.


He went back to the bed, and sat down, and felt very alone.  He turned and lay back on the bed again, and closed his eyes.  


Later, he woke up to a darkened room, and the sound of his cell going off.  He scrambled out of his sleep to get to it, and saw "OTB" on the screen.  He answered, "Hello?"


"Hi."


"Hi, Blair."


"The kids are asleep.  So get the tablet, go online and check your email.  Get that link I sent you.  Click it, and then, we'll watch a movie together."


"How did you figure all this out?"


"Jack.  He has his ways."


He did as she said, and before he knew it, he was in a website chat room with a You Tube video screen, and she had found Evil Dead II.  It was just starting.  He laughed.  "You did all this?"


"Jack.  But I thought of it.  Your favorite."


They watched the movie together over the phone, chatting sometimes, and silent others.  About an hour in, she had fallen asleep.  He could hear her, softly taking in breaths, and kept the phone line open, hoping she wouldn't accidentally disconnect.  When the movie ended, everything was quiet, and he could hear her, again, only clearer, in the soft, rhythmic patterns of sleep.  He listened, turning on his back, and looking to the popcorn ceiling again, with her breathing in his ear.


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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Failings of the Fathers: 24

"Sam, this is Jewel," Blair said, holding the tiny baby in her pink blanket.  Sam's eyes widened, and his mouth opened.  

"Wow," he said, in a tone of astonishment.  "She's so little."


"She is little.  We need to be gentle with her."


Little Ray walked over to the bed, and peered up.  "Sam, up!  Want to see.  Want to see."


Todd stepped in.  "Ray, you have to be very gentle with the baby.  She's very small."  He lifted his youngest son up, kneeling him on the bed near Blair.  "See?"


Little Ray looked at Jewel quizzically, and said, "Doll?"


"No, she's a person, like you.  You were small once, too."  Blair said.  "You have to be very nice to the baby."


"Nice.  Nice to the baby.  Baby play?"


"Not yet.  But she will when she grows up more."


Ray clapped happily and laughed.


Sam said, "Can I hold her, Mom?"


She looked at Todd, and he seemed to say "why not" with his expression.  She was only four pounds.  Sam had carried more than that every day to school.  He said, "Have to always support her head with your hand or your arm."


"I can do it, I've seen lots of people hold babies before."  Sam said, taking Jewel into his arm with Todd's help.  "She's so light."  


Ray looked on, with an expression of amazement.  "I hold baby?"


"No honey, you're too little."


"Daddy, down," Ray said.  He had lost interest.


Sam was falling in love with his sister.  He studied her face and talked to her sweetly.  He looked up and said, "I love her, Mom.  She's so pretty."


"She is, isn't she?"  Blair agreed.  Jack was leaning in the door frame.  


"All right, hand her over, Puny.  I guess I have to try.  I just feel all big around her."


"Anyone is," Todd said, realizing that even Ray dwarfed his daughter.


"So, you think I'm still gonna be Puny now that she's around?"  Sam seemed almost sad to lose it.


"Of course, you're the one and only Puny and Runty there is.  She's a girl, she'll have pretty names like Gumdrop."


Blair looked at Todd.  "They're your sons," she joked, sarcastically.


Jack took the baby from Sam.  "Wow.  She's like a feather.  She's so . . . perfect."


Blair smiled, and Todd folded his arms over his chest, watching his sons dote on his daughter.  His family.  Nothing was going to take it apart.


***


"I've been meaning to talk to you," Tina said, standing right outside Aiden's room.  


Timothy approached, his hands in his pockets. "What of it, Dear?"


"Not here, too many ears."  She had a secret mission tone to her voice.  He rolled his eyes as she brought him into a supply closet.


"Dear Lady, you're not propositioning this old man?"


"No, stop!  I want to talk to you, and I'm sick of Larry, Mo and Curly always being around when I try."


"Well, go ahead then.  I want to see my son."


"Those friends of his.  Except for Miguel, who cracked up, supposedly, they are constantly around."


"So?"


"I don't know, I just get a creepy feeling."


"Martina, y'ar really going a bit daft here."


"No, no I'm not.  The other night, when we went to get a snack and they were there.  And then they sat so close that the tall old one hit me with his chair."


"This does not make for a conspiracy, Dear Girl."


"Maybe not.  But remember, Aiden is just not sick.  He was put here, by the Men of 21 and their actions, toward a little boy.  An innocent little boy, who was kept from you for years.  What is to stop the leftovers of them from coming to finish the job?  If he gets his memory back, they will be up for far more than Patrick Thornhart's kidnapping."


He stopped.  Was she right?  Could she be?  Was there any truth to it.  The possibilities. . .

She kept talking.  "What did Todd say?  They brainwashed a little six year old into forgetting? They shot his mother dead.  There are thoughts in there that they want erased.  You know first hand how dastardly they are.  You know."

He didn't respond, but somehow, he found an element of truth in her suspicions.  "Where are they from, then?"


"One is American, the big mean one.  One is English, and the other, he's either Portuguese or Spanish, but American as well."


"The one in the psych ward, eh?  This Miguel?"


"Yeah.  I suppose."


"We'll watch them."


"Then you believe I could be right?"


"I didn't say I believe it, no.  But is it possible?  Anything is, where these men are concerned.  Y'ar brother knows.  They are capable of anything."  His mind went to Todd's explanation about Greece and the reunion of Zeus and his adoptive mother.  They'd farmed them.  To be killers.  As children.  He remembered the dark under Todd's eyes from lack of sleep when he couldn't put down Cholas' journal.  He'd almost lost his mind during that time . . .


"Timothy?  Are you listening?"


"I'm sorry, Dear Tina, I was . . . thinking back.  Ya could be right, I won't rule it out.  We'll tell Todd, he'll pay for extra security for Aiden.  Does that work?"


"Yes, that works.  He'll totally get it, after everything he has been through."


"I don't know why I didn't think of it before.  They could regroup and send someone to end Aiden's life.  That's not a stretch at all, Dear Lady."


***


"Mom, can I keep her in my room?"  Jack said.  "I'll take care of her."


"Well, for a few hours, but then you have to share."


"Sure.  I'll take care of her.  Does she have a bottle?"


Blair looked down the same second Todd pointed to her chest.


Jack said, "I'll bring her back for feeding," and rolled his eyes as he left with Jewel, back in her basket.


Sam followed, "I wanna take care of her, too!"


"Me, too, me!"  Ray said, following.


Todd looked at Blair.  "Well, she's got three protectors.  All sizes."


Blair laughed.  "She does.  Todd, I'm so happy.  Are you?"


For once he did not have to think about it.  "Yeah.  Really happy."  He paused, and put his hand on her head, smoothing her hair. "No one is going to hurt them."


"I know."


"I won't let anyone hurt them."


"I know, Todd."  The room went very quiet.


The silence between them was screaming Peter.  "I'll find out.  If the bastard's alive."


"I know you'll do everything you can for your kids."


"I . . . think I should go to Chicago, Blair."


She didn't balk.  "All right, if that is what you think it will take."


"I . . . have to put this to rest.  If he's out there, wanting my kids, I . . ."


"Shhh," she said softly, "He's probably not, but it's better if we know.  Put it to rest, and then move on with our lives."


He sat down dejectedly, running his hands through his hair.  "You've been saying that since I got back.  It's never right for you, Blair."


"Stop that, all right," she whispered.  "Nothing with you is wrong for me.  Just find out, My Love, and we will do our version of normal, at last."


"Manning Monotony.  I like it."


"Me, too.  Go.  Go to Chicago, we'll be fine."


"Speaking of being fine, think Jack's okay with Jewel?"


"We'll give him three more minutes," she said.


He kissed her.  "I miss you, so much."


"I miss you, so much."


"We'll have to fix that, and soon." He got up from the bed.  


"Where you going?"


"Get the baby from those defenders of justice in there.  Who is going to get their hands on Jewel with them around?  Ray alone could run them to death."


He left and Bitsy poked her head in the door.  She had an expression that read, "Can I come in?"


"Come on in, Momma.  Good morning!"  Blair said.


She waved.  She sat by Blair and handed her a sheet of paper.  There was a drawing of Todd and Blair, right after Jewel's birth.  She said, "Oh, Momma, it's so beautiful."


She then noticed there were several sheets, not just one.  The second sheet had Bitsy's handwriting going down at least half the page.  She read it, aloud:


Blair, I love Todd so much.  I loved him as a baby, too, and I did wrong by him.  I never protected him right.  I should have let Peter kill me before touching him.  But that's in the past, and I can't change it.  

He says he forgives me.  I work on believing.

I just want to say that Peter is out there.  I don't know who else to tell.  I wanted to tell Todd Peter was dead, and I did.  When he had the bad dream, I told him to let go.  Then, I had my dream.  And more of them, almost every night.  Peter is alive.  He wants the babies.  He is evil and dark.  Blair, I don't know what to do other than to tell you.  When I try to tell Todd, he just says the same things.  He says he will kill Peter.  I can't let Todd go to jail and leave his family for what I should have done years ago.  


Please don't let Todd find Peter.  I know Peter is living, but I want him far away from the family.  He cannot be near the children. I have seen what he will do.  He is evil.  He will beat them and hurt them.  Todd will have to kill him to stop him.  He will hurt anyone.

She put the letter down, and turned to the last page.  It was a picture, drawn, of Peter in shadow, holding Todd, it seemed, up by the collar against the wall, with a small baseball bat in his other hand.  She swallowed.  "Momma, is this a dream?"


Bitsy shook her head "no."


"This happened?"


She nodded.


"Oh, I see."  Blair said, blinking back tears.  "Did this happen often?"


She nodded again, and made a motion with her hands as if it were constant.


"This is Todd?"


She nodded.  The little boy's face was shadowed in the picture, but Blair could make out the long hair around his shoulders.  His pajamas were Superman.  Suddenly, Blair got a wave of nausea throughout her body, and cast the papers down, getting up to head for the bathroom.  She splashed cold water on her face.  Bitsy came in after her and made an expression of sorrow.  Blair said, "No, it's all right, Momma.  You can talk to me.  Todd's going to get to the bottom of all of this.  I promise."


Bitsy became upset, and grabbed Blair's arm, shaking her head "no" again.


"Momma, it's okay.  Peter is dead, and if he's not, we will find out.  We'll press legal charges against him for everything he did.  Timothy will help us.  He won't get away with it, and he won't get near our children, that I can promise you."


She was frantic, trying to express herself and searching wildly for her pencil.


Blair took both her hands, "Momma, look at me, please."


Bitsy did, and her eyes were filled with terror and tears.  "Nothing will happen to the children. Peter is dead, and even if he is not, for some reason, he will pay, legally, for what he did.  Trust me, and trust Todd."


She waited a moment, and then nodded in agreement.


"All right, then.  Thank you for the beautiful drawing.  I am sorry you're having so many problems with your dreams."


She nodded, sadly, looking down.


"We'll take you to see Ray, would that help?"


She shook her head "no."


"Why, Momma?"  Blair said, pointing to the pencil that had slipped out of her pocket onto the floor.  She still wasn't feeling up to bending to get it.


Bitsy picked it up and wrote, handing Blair the little notebook.  He does not believe me either.

"Momma, I believe you are having bad dreams. I believe you are very scared about Peter.  But I promise, nothing bad will happen."


I
'm sorry, Blair, for upsetting you.  I didn't know who to talk to. You love Todd as much as me, so I tried.

"I know you love him.  And he will be all right, so will all of us."


Bitsy relented, and shook her head in agreement.  She walked out of the bathroom into the bedroom, and directly to the door.  She turned back for a moment, only to wave softly.


Blair sank to the bed grasping the letter and the drawings in her hand again.  She turned back to the one of Peter, shrouded in darkness, and Todd, being abused, and wept.


Todd came back into the room, without Jewel, and said, "She's perfectly okay with the boys. Ray is even being quiet around her . . . Blair?"  He said, as he got closer.  "Babe?"


She'd struggled to get the papers behind her before he saw them, and fell against him crying.  He took her to his chest, and held her, and rested his chin on the top of her head.  "Hey, hey, what's all this?"


She wanted to say something, but she couldn't, and instead just cried.  Over her shoulder, he saw the papers, and on top, the drawing of his past.  He swallowed, and looked to the ceiling before saying, "Momma upset you."


"Oh, Todd," she barely got out.


"Shhh, now, it's okay.  Come on.  We're happy today.   It's Jewel's birthday.  Her zero one.  Why don't we have a little family party before I take off to Chicago?"


She pulled back from him, "Todd . . " she searched his face with her eyes, and attempted to stop crying.  Her heart was breaking with the reminder of his life and experiences staring at her from a white page.


"It's okay, Blair.  I'm okay." He said, softly.


"No, Todd," she said, falling toward him again in sobs. 

"It's over, Babe.  Trust me, it's over."


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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Todd's Saga 28: Dorian's Dilemma

        “You bastard!  What did you do to Tony Butler?  Let me guess.  You and this floozy have him tied up somewhere.  Wait until Blair hears what you’ve done this time.  You used him to lure her here didn’t you?  Well the surprise is on you.  You got me instead.”  She started to reach into her purse to get her phone but Sam stripped the purse from her. “Give that back this instant!” 

Sam pulled the phone out and handed the purse back. “I’m sorry, Mrs. Vickers, but we can’t let you make any calls right now.”

Dorian looked up and saw two men walk up behind Todd.  “I get it.  Now I’m a hostage too.  You think she’ll come if I’m in trouble, too.”

Todd shook his head, the more Dorian talked the more absurd everything became.  He started laughing.  “Oh, Dorian, you have no idea.”

“Don’t laugh at me, you barbarian.  I demand you show me Tony Butler.” Dorian angrily stomped her foot. 

        Todd just roared with laughter hysterically.  He couldn’t stop, so he waved a hand down to Sam and managed to speak a few words in between the laughing. “You tell her.”   

        Sam looked at Todd sharply and realized he was at the end of his rope.  He needed to get some sleep but had been pushing through the hours waiting for Dorian to come and hopefully save Victor’s life.  “Mrs. Vickers, please calm down.  No one is holding Tony Butler prisoner.  Todd is Tony Butler.” 

        Dorian swung around to face Sam. “What did you say?”

       “I said, Todd is Tony Butler.  And we’ve been expecting you.  Todd knew you would never come to help him so he called Blair.”

       Dorian was confused.  She looked up the stairs and took a good look at Todd.   He was against the rail and she noted how pale he was.  Even his laughter sounded oddly out of control.  Only one man was standing by him now, the other had gone back down the hallway.  “You’re Tony Butler?”

       Todd found himself leaning heavily on the rail as he got his laughter under control.  He felt drained.  He nodded in answer to Dorian’s question and forced himself away from the bannister.  “Dorian, I hate to say this, but I need your help.”

       She was stunned. Dorian had never expected Todd to ask for her help.  “Why?  You don’t look so good but it’s obvious you don’t really need a doctor.  And let’s face it Todd, you and I have always hated each other.  What’s going on here?” Just then she heard a familiar voice ring out.

       “Todd, Help!”

        Todd turned and rushed down the hallway toward the sound of Viki’s voice.  He rushed into the room.  “Viki, what is it?”

      “He stopped breathing.  Help him!”

       Todd moved to his brother’s side and lowered him flat on the bed. “Come on, you son of a bitch, don’t you wimp out on me! You’re really going to let a little ole bullet do you in?” Todd got no response and didn’t really  expect any. “Damn it!”  He started breathing for his brother.

        Dorian and Sam had both hurried up the stairs at Viki’s call.  Dorian stood in the doorway assessing the picture in front of her.  Todd was trying to perform CPR on Victor and Viki was standing anxiously aside. She heard a door open to her right and out walked Clint Buchanan. She felt like she had entered the Twilight Zone.  Todd, Victor, and Clint in the same household, something was definitely going on.  

        Todd obviously was trying to save Victor which surprised Dorian to no end, but it was clear he didn’t have a lot of experience. She moved to the bed. “Todd, go to the other side and pay attention.  Put your hands like this and press down when I tell you.” She tilted Victor’s head and began to breathe into his mouth a number of times then she had Todd do the compressions. After a few minutes, she had Sam take over for her and  began checking his pulse.  “Okay we have a pulse.  It’s very weak,though.”  She took in the bandages and looked up at Todd.  “Well at least you were smart enough to stop the bleeding. How much did he lose?

      “A lot.  We did everything we could.  He was doing okay until just now.” Todd glanced at Sam and Viki and continued his compressions.  Had he made a mistake?  Should he have gotten a Doctor sooner.  

        Dorian scowled at Todd and continued to monitor Victor’s pulse.  The beat started picking up, Victor coughed and started breathing on his own again.

        “Thank God,” said Viki.

         Clint who had been watching the whole thing, walked to Viki’s side. “Viki, how did Victor get shot?  He was fine when I brought up his dinner, and how the hell did Dorian get here?”

          Viki’s eyes met Todd’s and then she turned to Clint.  “It was an accident.  Todd sent for Dorian early this morning.  She very obligingly came to help.”

         Dorian hadn’t missed the look that passed between Todd and Viki.  “More like I was hijacked really?” She mumbled under her breath.  “Okay, you got me here and I’m guessing you don’t want the authorities involved.  Even if I help you, what makes you think I won’t call them when I’m finished, or are you going to kidnap me after all?”

         Todd sank back on his legs.  He was so tired . “Dorian, I’m not going to kidnap you.  You’re right, we can’t bring the police in on this.  This is bigger than you think.  What you decide in the next few minutes will affect not only us here, but Blair and the children, too. They’re all in danger if we get found and you can include Tea, Dani and Natalie to the list too.  Listen, I promise to fill you in on everything, but we need to save Victor first.”

       “Everything?”

       “Everything.  So what do you say?  You and I both know what Victor needs and we can’t exactly take him to an emergency room to do it.”

        Dorian took a deep breath and exhaled.  As a doctor she took an oath and for some reason she didn’t understand, she believed Todd when he said Blair and the boys were in danger.  “Alright.  The most important thing now is to get some more blood into Victor.  Todd that means you have to be the donor.  Although since you went to all the trouble to get me down here, I’m sure you already figured that out.  Lie down next to Victor and let’s get this show on the road.”

        A short while later, Dorian stood looking down at the two men.  After initially hooking up Todd to his first bag, she took the trouble to check him out.

        “Hey, I gave you permission to use my blood.  I  didn’t give you permission to examine me.  Leave me alone Dorian.”

        “It looks to me like you do need my examination.  From those bruises on your neck I’d say Victor throttled you pretty good.  Did you lose consciousness?”

        “Yeah, just for a short time but I’m fine.  The neck is sore, that’s all, so leave me alone.”  Todd closed his eyes, cutting the conversation and inwardly praying that was the end of it.

        Dorian let the matter drop and waited for the first bag to fill.   She was still trying to digest everything that had occurred since her arrival.  All this time, she had thought Todd Manning was finally and irrevocably out of Blair’s life and it turned out nothing could be farther from the truth.  Why all the need for subterfuge?  Why had Todd left in the first place and then reestablished himself as Tony Butler? She glanced over to the corner of the room where Viki and Clint had ended up.  “I’ve got some questions and I might as well get some answers while we wait.  How long have you known, Viki?”

       “How long have I known what, Dorian?” Viki asked.

        “You know what.  How long have you known that Todd wasn’t dead?  Why did you keep it a secret?  Just what is going on?  Clint is supposed to be in the hospital.  What’s he doing here and where the hell did Victor come from?”

        Viki sighed.  “I’ve known about Todd for a couple of months.  And I came here yesterday when I found out Todd had rescued Clint.”

        “What do you mean rescue?  I thought Clint was in the hospital because of his breakdown on the night of the Man of the Year award.”

        Clint got up and moved toward Dorian.  “I’m not unstable, Dorian.  That she-devil Alison Perkins shot me up with something and took me out of Llanview hospital shortly after that.  Manning found me a couple of days ago and got me out of the place where they’ve been holding me.   We had to bring Victor with us, because he caught us leaving and he was working for the ones who held me.”  He rolled up his sleeve.  “Look, they kept me drugged and messed with me.  But I’m not crazy.”

        Dorian’s eyes widened and she took another look at Clint.  His arm was tracked with needle marks, but he seemed perfectly aware of what was happening around him.  Still her trained eyes saw the  perspiration beading on his forehead and the slight nervous tick around his one eye..  If he was telling the truth.  He was far from over the effects of whatever they had drugged him with.  “Could you tell me who shot Victor?”

        “I don’t know….” Clint paused and swayed a little bit. Viki rushed to him. “I… I heard scuffling and voices in the hall. Viki was pleading with Victor, then there was quiet.  When I looked out of my room, Victor had his back to me and was talking on the phone to Tea.  Viki was on the floor next to Todd who wasn’t moving.  I went and grabbed the gun we had taken off of Victor and snuck up quietly behind him.  When he saw Todd begin to move, he decided to try and make his escape and I stopped him.  I was holding the gun on him and suddenly I was hearing him tell me he was going to take me back to the compound,... words kept reverberating in my head…’the organization must be protected at all cost’...I...I...Oh God.  I pulled the trigger...I...” he turned to Viki.  “I did this, didn’t I?

         Viki had tears in her eyes.  “It wasn’t your fault.  He had been manipulating you all day.  You weren’t in your right mind.  But he’s alive.  Dorian’s here and we’re going to save him.  I think you and I will go find Sam Vance.  Maybe you can try and remember some more about the compound that will help Sam with her investigation.  Dorian, the rest of your questions will have to wait.” Viki didn’t even give Dorian a chance to say anything else.  Instead, she took Clint’s arm and herded him out the door and away from Dorian.

          Todd had been listening to everything and he started to chuckle.  Viki sure knew how to stop Dorian cold when she wanted to.  “Did you hear what you expected Dorian? I’m guessing not.  You thought I shot Victor again didn’t you?”  He lowered his arm and found Dorian glaring angrily at him.  “Take a good look at my brother.”

         Todd’s words jolted her and her eyes immediately went to Victor’s chest. What was Todd getting at? She had already checked the gunshot wounds.  Sam Vance and Todd had done a fair job of sewing Victor up.  She looked at Victor and suddenly realized something wasn’t right. Where was it?  Where was the gunshot scar from Todd?  Blair told her Victor had been shot in the heart, but there was nothing.  She looked back at Todd.  “But you shot him.  You were on trial for his murder.  I don’t understand.”

         “Join the club.  I knew I didn’t kill him but I was having hallucinations of my mother and with them came images of shooting Victor.  I can’t explain.  I think Irene tampered with my memory when we were in jail together.  It’s the only explanation I’ve got.  The organization that spirited Victor away obviously staged a very realistic scene.  So realistic,Tea thought Victor died in her arms.”

         “So you didn’t try and kill your brother, but I know you Todd.  I know what you’re capable of.  You’ve always been violent. That’s why I’ve wanted Blair to stay away from you.”

          “That was the old me.  Irene did a number on me.  I admit that, and yes, I did have Tomas kidnapped.  But, I wasn’t thinking straight and I was desperate to get Blair back.  You just can’t stand the idea that Blair is still in love with me and that she tricked you into coming here.  I’ll be honest, she was reluctant to trick you.  She loves you but I assured her I would tell you the whole story and I will.  Dorian, you have no idea what’s been going on since I arrived back in Llanview.”

          Dorian hated the idea that Todd had gotten back into Blair’s life, but she also knew how happy Blair was about the baby she was carrying.  “I swear Todd Manning, if you think you can spin some lie and expect me to just let you keep up this charade, you’ve got another think coming.  You ran out on Blair again.  I can’t understand how you got her to accept Tony Butler and why is all of this subterfuge so necessary?  Explain it, then we’ll see if I keep your secret.” she paused, checked the exchange of blood going into Victor and glanced back to Todd. 

         Todd sighed. “Very well, but listen up because I’m too tired to tell this story twice.”   



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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Failings of the Fathers: 23

It was almost dawn when Blair woke, and Todd was next to her, cradling the tiny infant in his arms.  "I can't stop looking at her," were the first words he said to Blair as she opened her eyes.

"She's so pretty," Blair said.


"Yep."


"She didn't cry, wasn't she hungry?"


"She ate."


"When?"


"When she was first born, you know that.  And during the night, she just made a few sounds of being annoyed, and I put her on your chest and the rest is history."


"I must have been half asleep."


"Yep."


"Where are the boys?"


"Sam's at Shaun's.  We have a little bit of work to do there.  Jack said he was frantic and terrified while you were in labor.  Good thing our son had the sense to get him out of the house."


"All right.  Will you go and get him soon?"


"Yep.  When it's light out, I'll do just that."


"Let me hold her, Todd."


"Of course," he said, and moved the petite little girl to her mother's arms.


"She looks like you."


"No, she doesn't.  She's beautiful.  Definitely you."


"Her hair is light.  Reminds me of Jack."


"Yep."


"She's so sweet, Todd.  But she's so small," her voice cracked.


"She's small, but she's strong and perfect.  You said so yourself."


"She can breathe, and she's all right."


"Yeah, she can and she is."


"You saved her, Todd, both of us."


"Ah, it was nothing.  Dorian is a good talker."


"She's so light.  But look, she has . . ."


"All her fingers and toes.  I counted.  She can hear us, I can tell.  She's alert.  She's breathing.  She's a perfect little person, just 'puny,' like Jack said."

"Jack saw her?"


"He was in here, when you were in and out."


"It's perfect in here." she looked around. "You cleaned all of it up?"


"Sure.  You didn't want us to be sitting in some bloody mess when the EMTs came.  Not a pretty picture of The Mannings."


"How do you do it, Todd?  How can you be this strong after . . . well, everything?"


"Pretty sure the eight years of torture set me straight.  Plus, I have a lot to lose."


Jack was at the door, "Mom, Dad, Runty's on the phone crying.  He wants to come home."  Then, "Is she awake?  Can I see her?"


Blair lifted her off her chest, and held her up to Jack.  Jewel was sleeping, and he looked into her tiny face and said, "Wow, you can be that small and be a person?"


"I guess so, she's living proof.  Want to hold her?"  Blair asked.


Jack looked confused, "Uh, can I skip it?  She's so small, I'm kinda scared.  Let me go get Sam, and maybe later."


Blair smiled, and looked at Todd.  "She's tough.  When you get back, we'll formally introduce you to her.  Thank you, Jack."


Jack left, and Todd looked at Blair.  His face was so filled with emotion, she said, "Todd," softly, "what's the matter?"


"This is my family," he said, quietly himself, with a touch of quaver in his voice.


"Yes, this is.  The family you helped make, Todd.  Nobody just gave it to you."


He put his hand over the top of his daughter's head, and realized it fit inside his palm and then some.  "I'm . . . going to forget everything.  Peter, he's nothing, he's just a memory now."


She looked at him in slight surprise.  "Okay.  That's good."


"No more wasted time on him, or the likes of him."


"I thought you were already done with it," she said, innocently looking at him.


"I . . .am.  Especially now that she's here.  There's too much good to mar it with bad."  He paused.  "Her face, Blair."


"I know.  You love your children, so much.  Everyone sees it."


"She's beautiful."  He got up, and wiping his eye with the back of his hand, went to the window.  "The snow, it's overwhelming.  Wow.  There's so much of it."


"It's pretty.  Really.  So white."


"Okay, so I meant it.  No more Peter.  He's behind us."


"All right, it sounds good.  But there's something you aren't telling me, isn't there?  I think after all this time, I know."


"Maybe."


"Maybe?  You can't even give me an answer?  I'm . . .insulted, and tired of it, Todd.  Just . . . leave me alone, will you, a while?"


He turned, surprised.  "What?"


"You heard me.  Just get out . . . just, please."


He wasn't able to think of something to say, so he walked toward the bedroom door.  "Why?" he said, turning back.


"You don't know why?  Then I have nothing to say."


He stopped and turned around.  "I'm not going anywhere."


"Oh, no?"


"No.  I'm not.  This is . . . one of the happiest days of my life.  I'm not . . .going to leave you alone.  Or leave my little girl."


"So, I have no say in the matter, then.  I see."


"What's with you, Blair?"  He was puzzled.


"You promised, that's what!" she raised her voice startling Jewel, who woke with a cry.  She calmed her, placed her in her basket and then looked away from him.


He went to the bed, and sat near the baby.  "Jewel, your mom is upset with me.  And she probably is right . . . all the time."


She didn't turn, but he could sense her armor cracking.  


I love him so much.

He continued, "So, uh, can you tell her something for me?  Tell her I'm sorry that I didn't tell her something and that I'll tell her now if she will listen.  Jewel?  What?  You want me to be like Grandma Bitsy and be quiet so you can sleep?"


Blair slightly laughed.


He saw her shoulders move, and relaxed a little.  "Jewel, I know you can't talk or write.  I'll have to tell her myself, then, right after I remind her how much I love her for bringing you to me."


She didn't turn.


"Oh and one more thing: if she will listen, I'd tell her that my fears about my father . . . they made me keep something from her.  My fear that my father would come and take all of you from me, as if he were alive.  It made me start thinking bad things and having bad feelings.  I didn't want to scare her, because she had you inside her.  So I kept it to myself.  Mostly.  I talked to my new father about it.  He tried to support me.  But he wanted me to tell her, at first, and then he agreed.  We were too worried that she might lose you.  And if she lost you, that would mean I did, too, and I couldn't live without you both . . ."


"This is why you didn't tell me?"  Blair said.  "Honestly?"


"Yeah.  I was just afraid to scare you."


"How could it scare me?  I was with you in that hell hole, remember?  If I could get through that . . ."


"Because I thought he might be alive. . .I said I didn't, but I thought he could be.  And all I could think of was killing him.  A slow, painful way."


She turned to him, and studying his face, she picked up the phone and called Jack.  "Come and get your sister for me, and bring her to Grandma Bitsy for a while, I'm sort of tired.  Thanks."


Okay, Manning, when you tell the truth, you should be more careful to not tell it so truthfully in the future. . .


Jack came into the room, and looked at both his parents.  He said, "Geesh, you guys, it's the baby's birthday," and took her out with him.


Blair's arms were folded.  "Before you start thinking that you shouldn't have told me the truth, just stop right there.  I can handle anything.  But, maybe, just maybe I understand why you didn't tell me this while I was pregnant.  Were you planning to tell me at all?"


"I thought about it.  I mean, the baby was just born.  It was tough bringing her into the world.  I wasn't quite thinking that second to bring up my child-rapist father."


She felt hollow.  "Todd, I . . . just tell me."


He got up and went to sit next to her, both of them facing the glass wall.  The snow was white and blinding with the sun on it.  She faced him, and he her, bringing their eyes to each others.'  He said, "It's bright.  I'll fix that."


He got up, and closed the draperies, so that the glare was eliminated.  Then, he sat back down across from her and said, "Okay.  I was afraid that he was alive.  I didn't want to tell you because I wanted to murder him."


"You're talking in the past.  So, you don't think he's alive now?"


"I don't care anymore.  My daughter, she . . . she's so beautiful.  You, the kids, that's all that matters.  He's dead."


"You wanted to murder him.  Not anymore?"


He gulped.  "I still do.  Yeah.  If he came in here now, I'd want to kill him.  Some terrible way.  Some way that would make him hurt, like my mother did."


She swallowed, and touched his face.  "You're still so angry, Todd.  I understand why.  I know what he did and what it meant."


"I want to let go of it, Blair.  All of it.  It's eating me up inside.  I was planning . . . I'd contacted Mr. Adams, my father's estate lawyer.  He was going to put me in touch with my father's last fiance.  I wanted to ask her, once and for all, if he were really dead.  She'd cremated him without me knowing, she was the only beneficiary.  You were there for that, Blair.  You know, I only got that key."


"I know.  I remember."


"Anyway, I was going to check into it.  It was because . . . well, Momma had that dream about him coming to take our children.  The night she had the panic attack.  And then, well, something else happened."


Her face twisted with doubt.  "Sister Rebecca Katherine.  I just realized it.  You lied to me."


"I did, because I didn't want to scare you, Blair.  Give me a break.  I've seen you lose three children, and I'll be damned if you were going to lose another because of something I told you."


She considered it.  "All right, fine.  Tell me now, Todd.  Jewel's here."


"She had a dream, too.  The same type.  She dreamed he wanted our kids.  I got freaked, I guess.  I called Timothy, he helped me find Adams.  I searched, found Connie's info.  I meant to call her, when the baby came."


"Okay."  She seemed angry.


"So, leave you alone now?"


"No."


"What, then?"


"Don't lie to me, Todd.  We've had enough of that.  We're pretty sure I won't be having another baby, so there won't be another reason."


"I know.  I won't."


"We just don't see this the same."


"Why?"


"I want you to find Connie.  I want you to make sure that fucker is dead."


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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Failings of the Fathers: 22

The next few minutes were filled with Blair's cries and Todd's prodding.  Inside, he was fearing any slight mistake he might make that could cost him his daughter or his wife, or both of them, since he knew that she would never survive the death of this baby.  Bitsy was crying continuously, without sound, and holding Blair's hand and continuing to wipe the sweat from her brow.  Finally, Blair let out a final exasperated and long cry, and fell back against the bed, breathing hard.  Bitsy got up, and went to the side, to see her grandchild.  Todd was quiet, concentrating.  And it was then that it happened.

Todd brought his hand out from under the edge of the sheet, and in it was his daughter.  Unlike Ray, she was making noise as soon as she came into the world, and her tiny cries demonstrated healthy and well-developed lungs.  She was able to breathe on her own, though she was small enough that her body rested in his palm, with her head lolling slightly on his fingertips.  Bitsy covered her mouth with her hand, and tears dropped to her chest.  


Another angel.  She's alive.  The dream.

One thing Todd remembered, somehow with crystalline sharpness, was cutting the umbilical cord for Jack, so he wrapped Jewel in a towel, and placed her on Blair's chest.  He proceeded to cut it the same way Dr. Troy had coaxed him through when Jack was born.  Blair was still lying there spent, unable to lift her head, with her hand resting on her daughter, who was crying loudly.  Between breaths, Blair cried and called his name, and thanked him repeatedly.  Bitsy was brought to sobs, and cried into her hands, as Todd double checked to be certain everything was tied off correctly, before tending to the baby and his wife.  He helped support Blair's head so she could see Jewel on her breast, crying and moving gently in the firelight.  Blair said, "Oh my God, Todd, you saved her.  She's . . . everything."


After Blair saw her and touched her face, he brought the baby into the bathroom, and instructed Bitsy to gently wash her in the sink basin.  While his mother did this, he went back to Blair, knowing soon she would deliver the after-birth, and he had to be certain she would not hemorrhage.  He looked at the clock.  It had been over and hour.  Where's the fucking ambulance?  Suddenly, fear gripped him.  What if Blair started to bleed. . .


Bitsy brought the baby back into the room, wrapped in a new white towel, and put her onto Blair's chest again.  Tired from the labor, she looked at her daughter and smiled.  "She's perfect, Momma.  She's ours."


Bitsy nodded, still crying.  Todd was working to assure Blair's safety as best he could.  Finally, seeing that everything was seemingly all right, he called Dorian back and described what had occurred, step by step.  Getting a vote of confidence, he quickly cleaned up the mess, throwing all of the towels into a plastic bag, and then, washing his hands, went back to Blair and the baby.  He sat next to them on the bed, and said, "She's just like her mother, already making noise."  Blair fumbled with the buttons on her nightie, and he reached over and undid them.  She placed the baby on her chest, so their skin met, and draped the towel over the baby to keep it warm.  Within a few moments, Jewel was quietly nursing.  


Todd said, "That was fast!" and Blair laughed.  


"She's smart, takes after her Daddy."  Even though he knew she was all right, her voice sounded so small and childlike.


He said, "Look what you did, Blair?"  At this point, his tears fell without his trying to stop them.  "Look what you gave me.  Another piece of us."  He kissed his wife on the mouth, and stroked her hair.


She said, "You're the one who made her get here okay.  She . . . could have died, Todd, and I would have.  Thank you," the last part she whispered.


"But she didn't.  She's all right, look at her?  She's so . . ." his voice broke.


Bitsy got up and went to the door.  She looked back at the two of them, wanting to memorize the picture of them holding their daughter for the first time.  She made her way to her room, stopping in Jack's.  He was up, sitting in the dark, waiting, it seemed.  She walked in, and wrote on Jack's mini whiteboard,  Your mother is fine, Jewel was born.  Your father made her okay.  She's tiny and beautiful, Jack.

"Just like you drew her."


She nodded.  


"Good," he said, "they don't need anything else bad, ever again.  And no more death."


She agreed with him.


"Thanks, Grandma.  The ambulance should be here soon."


She nodded, and went to her room.


Back in the master bedroom, Todd watched his new daughter and her mother and said, "Thank you."


"No, thank you, Todd.  When did you figure out she was turned wrong?"


"When I saw her little foot instead of her head.  She was small enough for me to kind of push back up, and then turn.  She actually turned herself after a while."


"I know, I felt it."


"She's all right now, that's what matters.  And you."


"I'm fine," she said, and the baby had fallen asleep.


"I'm going to clean you up a little.  But I need one thing, be right back."


He left the room, and Blair closed her eyes and dozed, with Jewel on her chest sleeping.  In a few moments, she was alerted by the sound of him returning.  He took a delicate pink blanket and wrapped the baby in it, similar to a burrito, the way he had read.  Then he placed her, gently, into the basket that his mother had made for her.  She fit perfectly.  Leaving her sleeping there at the foot of the bed, he cleaned Blair up with warm washcloths and redressed her.  At the end of this, the paramedics were banging on the door, and Jack, who was still awake, bounded past them to get to the stairs.  "I'll let them in, Dad."


When the EMTs returned, Jack followed them in.  He said, "Mom, you okay?"


"Yes," she said, groggy and finally slipping into a state of comfort.


Todd said, "Meet your new sister," and showed Jack the basket.


"Wow," he said, "she's really puny.  But she's so cute.  I never saw anything so . . . perfect."


The medics checked Blair and the baby.  Jewel weighed four pounds, three ounces, but she was, miraculously, perfect in every way.  Blair and Todd's new daughter were deemed well enough to remain at home, instead of facing the driving snow and the hour trek to the hospital.  They gave Blair some medication, and left Todd with instructions and the directive to get her into a doctor for a full evaluation soon.  Most of it he somehow knew.  He didn't have his tablet for nothing, or his research skills.  It was always the norm for him to investigate important topics, and the birth of his child was the most important topic he could think of.  


Since both of his girls were finally all right, he could finally breathe and soak in the reality of his world.  


It makes no sense that I should have all this.  


He took the baby's basket and set it on the bed next to her mother.  Then, he was able to climb in next to Blair and hold her gently as she slept.  


Jewel also slept, in her pink basket, with her hand under her face and splayed over her cheek.


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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Mysterious Samuel Toddman: Chapter 10

Alex entered the hotel and headed straight to the bar. She couldn't believe he was immune to her charms. Everything had started out so well with the exception of the tumble, but even that had worked in her favor. Alex caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror. She looked beautiful and she knew he had thought so too, but just as things had started to heat up, he had suddenly turned off. It was disconcerting. Strangely it was also fascinating and one of the things that had always drawn her to Todd. She had never been able to get a good read on him.

Alex sat down at the bar and ordered a drink, "I guess I should give Carlo a call, he wanted to know when I made contact, and I've done that. I hope I can get him to understand what happened . Ummph I'm not sure I understand." She pulled out Her cell phone and made the call.

Carlo looked at his phone. It was Alex. He answered,"Yes my dear, tell me you have good news."

Alex took a quick drink, then answered. "Carlo Darling, I do have some news. I made contact with your Mr. Toddman this evening. I don't understand Carlo. He looks like Todd Manning, but he didn't know me, and I know Todd is in Llanview but has a different face. What the heck is going on?"

Carlo replied, "Alex dear, you shouldn't worry your pretty head about that. Just tell me. Were you able to get him interested in you? Do you think you'll be able to get him to Llanview?"

Alex thought and took another drink.  She had to tell him something but how to spin it so Carlo would think everything was going as planned. "Well we've made a tentative date to see each other again. Tonight was just the start, he'll be following me to Llanview in no time." Carlo didn't have to know tonight had been a bust and she wasn't lying exactly, Samuel had said if he found the time they might get together.

"Excellent, Alex, Now remember you have to keep him from seeing Blair. I'm counting on you. I have a few things on my end that need to be seen to. I'll let you know when I need him in Llanview. Goodnight my dear." Carlo hung up.

Whew, she had managed that well. It gave her a little time but now she had to figure out how she was going to accomplish the impossible. She didn't even know where Samuel lived, much less how to make contact again.  Alex was exhausted, nothing else was going to happen that night.   She paid for her drink and headed for her suite. Tomorrow something would turn up and she would be able to continue Carlo's request.

Once in her suite, Alex went and started a hot bath. She needed to unwind and she needed to go back over the night. As she rested in the comforting bubbles she went back in her mind to that first shock. Looking up at that familiar yet slightly different face and hearing his voice. God, she had never expected that. He was Todd, but he wasn't. His concern and the gentleness he showed when helping her up was so not "Todd". And when he had tried to cover his scars because he didn't want to make her look at them, he'd been ashamed of his looks. She'd felt sympathy for that man, that was why she had stopped him from covering the scars.

Todd had never liked his scar, but he had always worn it as a statement that it was him and everyone who didn't like it could shove it. When Samuel had taken her hand and given that gentle kiss, it had been his way of thanking her. She looked at her hand, surprisingly, she really wanted to get to know Samuel. He was quite charming. This could be quite a nice diversion in her somewhat humdrum existence right now. Alex stepped out of the bath wrapping the towel around her. Yes, somehow she was going to make it happen. She was going to get Samuel and she might not let him go.

Carlo hung up and looked at the phone momentarily. Chuckling softly, he thought of Alex. "Something tells me you're not telling me everything my dear, but no matter, my sources are there keeping an eye on things, they'll keep me informed." He opened his desk drawer and pulled out a file. The label on the top read Samuel Toddman/Todd Manning. He opened it and began reading.

' March 2003, Cherryvale Clinic ER report of Trauma physician on duty.

Called to the Er in the early morning hours. Discovered a severe Trauma case had been brought in . Patient's brother informed us his brother had been in a severe auto accident and had just crawled free when the car had exploded. Patient has severe third degree burns on his hands, numerous broken bones all over his body, a severe laceration the right side of his face extending from his eye to his chin, and massive internal bleeding. Immediate efforts were taken to find and stop the internal bleeding, after numerous hours on the operating table and almost losing him twice, patient was stabilized. Three units of o-neg. blood was transfused to bring patient up to acceptable blood volume. Patient had yet to regain consciousness and was going to need numerous more surgeries to repair all the damage. Against medical advice patient was removed to a private facility on family's orders.'

Carlo still recalled Alex's plea for help when they discovered Manning on the side of the road. He hadn't wanted to help.  Manning had been a thorn in his side for a number of years stemming back to his interference in "The Men of Twenty-one".  He had agreed to help only if Alex would let him handle everything.

He sent Alex home and called some of this business partners and they had staged the car crash and fire.  While that was being staged, he kept an eye on Manning who was barely alive but hanging on.  As quick;y as the car blew he was on the phone calling 911.  He had instructed his men to burn Manning's hands to prevent identification, Manning had been so out of it he never felt it.  By the time the ambulance from Cherryvale arrived the car was fully engulfed and only he and his driver and his poor hurt "brother" remained.

To his surprise Manning survived. The man was really remarkable. He really was like a cat with nine lives. With his "brother " stabilized, Carlo decided to move Manning.  Cherryvale was too close to Llanview and obviously someone wanted Manning dead.  It was then that Carlo had an idea how to make all this work for him.  He sent Manning to his private clinic outside of Philadelphia and began putting his plan in motion.

Carlo decided he could use this situation to his advantage. He had promised Alex he wouldn't let Manning die. He never promised how he would let him live. Carlo and his doctors had been working for some time on a memory transference project. Manning was a captive audience and a perfect subject to test their theories on but Carlo also needed a patsy to give the memories to. That night he sent out his men to find someone of the same general height and coloring. They would also need to match his blood type, if Carlo's plan was to work, so they were told to check all blood banks for a suitable candidate. Someone down on his luck who was willing to sell his blood. Carlo's instructions, "Bring him in alive but barely."  Such a man was found that night. Although beaten severely, he was perfect for Carlo's plan. That became the Night of the two Todds.

Carlo continued to look at the file. Todd Manning had proven to be quite a challenge. It had taken the doctors quite a while to track down all of Todd's memories because they had kept coming up with blocked areas they couldn't penetrate. They gleaned all the memories concerning his wives, his children, his sister Vicki and all of his connections to the Lord Family;   Whenever they had attempted to go farther into his memories concerning his adopted father Peter Manning it was like they encountered a brick wall. No matter what they tried, from the experimental machine to deep hypnosis, they were never able to get those last memories. Carlo had made the final call that they would work with the memories they had and they had begun indoctrinating Todd 2.

Todd Manning improved slowly. The doctors put one of their own barriers around the memories they had taken from Todd and secured it with a deep hypnotic suggestion that if he tried to recall those memories he would experience excruciating pain. Then it was decided to move him to Philadelphia General for more surgeries under the name of John Doe.

Todd went through the surgeries and remained in a coma for about 3 months. The only item that had been found on Todd that night in March had been a safe deposit key, when the doctors said they could find no memory of it, Carlo again made the decision to let it go with him to the hospital. If Carlo had realized the significance of that key, he would have destroyed it.

Carlo had daily updates on Manning's condition the whole time he was in the hospital and was alerted when Manning woke up. When Manning woke up Carlo and his doctors had expected him to not remember anything; they had never expected him to remember a name. No one was prepared for the reveal that he was Samuel Toddman. Carlo remembered thinking "Who the hell is Samuel Toddman!". Although he looked into it, Carlo had never been able to figure out why Todd called himself Samuel Toddman.

It soon became apparent that although he had a name he remembered little else and every time he tried to push his memory he had severe pain. The doctors at the hospital finally convinced him that he should concentrate on getting well and that his memories would return when they were ready. Just before the doctors released Manning, a large amount of funds were delivered in his name. After paying his hospital bill Manning had disappeared. It was just by chance that Carlo's spies at the airport discovered that a Mr. Toddman had a ticket to Paris France.

Once in Paris, Samuel had again eluded his associates. It was early in 2004 that an Art dealer of Carlo's acquaintance had called to tell him of a new artist he might be interested in. Always on the lookout for good art he had made the trip to Paris only to find himself staring at a very familiar face. There on the wall in front of him that day had been a picture of one Blair Manning and he knew only one man in Paris would know that face. Mr Toddman was an artist. Who would have thought that Manning could produce such beautiful work. Although his men hadn't found out where Mr Toddman lived, they were able to find out where he banked and ate sometimes. Carlo was kept informed when a new painting would show up. It had continued that way for seven long years until three days ago when Blair Cramer had shown up looking for the artist and carrying one of Samuel's pieces.

When Tomas's assistant had called, Carlo knew it would only be a matter of time before his whole charade would start to fall apart. The experiment had definitely been a success. Todd 2 had recovered in Cherryvale and had thought he really was Todd. He had set about making plans to change his looks thanks to the deeply implanted suggestion to do so, and had found Walker Flynn and bought his face. For seven years he had been Todd Manning and lived his life,he had raised Todd's kids. There was a moment when it looked like he might even be executed. All that time he truly believed he was Todd Manning. Recently Todd 2 had been showing signs of paranoia and more quirkiness then usual. After talking to the doctors at the clinic it was believed that he was beginning to unravel. Could Samuel also be experiencing some unusual occurrences?

Carlo closed the file. it was time to pull out of everything before the plan tumbled. His anonymous association with all of Todd's companies had proven very lucrative, but before he got caught in the firestorm that was sure to happen once Toddman's memories returned; he needed to remove his shares. Then he could sit back and watch the Manning/Lord house of cards fall.



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