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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Mysterious Samuel Toddman: Chapter 39

Blair reached over and covered his hand with hers. "I'm going to find a way to make it up to you Todd. We were all fooled, but you're right I should have known he wasn't you. The only excuse I have, is that I wanted you back so bad I let myself believe it. In my defense, the first time I saw Samuel in Paris, I knew it was you. I didn't even question that Walker was you any longer, I simply knew he wasn't." She watched him, trying to read his expression, Todd could be the most inscrutable man when he wanted to be.


Todd looked at her. He saw her sincerity, but he was hit with that nagging problem he always had with her. Could he continue to trust her?  Then it felt like someone smacked him on the back of his head. Todd heard his alters yelling. "You idiot, just go with it for now." Todd found himself grinning suddenly. He squeezed her hand and pulled her down next to him on the bed. "Well now what do we do?" he asked playfully " This bed's not very big."


Blair laughed and push him away. " Oh no, you don't, you're not up to that yet." She stood up and turned to him and said. "That's going to have to wait till you get an OK from your doctor. Now, tell me about your morning with Bo."


"Well, actually Samuel covered the morning. He's the one with the memories of the time I was out. I think Bo is definitely interested since he heard Carlo might be involved. He's supposed to get in touch with Starr and get some papers later today. The doctor was in earlier and told me they might move me to a regular room. He already has me rigged out with the portable heart monitor so I could start moving around again. You need to back me up when I ask if I can go home instead. This place is getting on my last nerve and could you please bring me some fresh clothes. These gowns do nothing for me." replied Todd


"Don't you think you should take it just a little slower. If we're going after Carlo, we really need to make sure everything is airtight. I promised you earlier that if the doctors would allow you to wear the monitor that I'd try and get them to let you go home and I'll see what I can do. As for your clothes, you're not getting those until we get the doctor's ok. I know first hand, how you like to sneak out of hospitals ahead of schedule.  I don't want to be the one responsible if you collapse trying to leave too early. Do we understand each other Todd?" asked Blair


Todd's only answer was a scowl. He knew she had him over a barrel, but he didn't have to like it. What she didn't understand is that he had been inactive for so long he felt like he was crawling out of his skin. After facing his fathers in the tomb, he had finally broken free only to be trapped once again because his heart had been damaged by Mitch Lawrence. He owed that man big time and he would handle Mitch personally. As far as Carlo was concerned it was time to start digging into his finances. "Alright, Blair, if you won't bring me clothes, can you get me a laptop. I can start researching Carlo's holdings at least. I want to see just how far his reach is right now."


"What are you going to do if you find them. You'll have to be careful how you attack Carlo. If he finds out someone is making a play he could get nasty." said Blair


"Don't worry Blair, computers are one thing I'm good at. Remember the fireworks. Just get me a laptop and I'll worry about the rest. In the meantime tell me a little bit about Jack." said Todd.


Blair looked at Todd. She sat down, not quite sure where to start. She had been dreading this conversation. "Jack is a lot like you. He's headstrong and loves to play tricks on his little brother Sam.......".Blair paused. Todd didn't know about Sam. He was looking at her waiting for an explanation.


"Who's Sam, Blair?" asked Todd. Inside he was seething. "Did you have a son with Manning?"


The cat was out of the bag. Blair had no other choice than to tell Todd about Margaret and Sam and Walker. "Sam is my adopted son and Walker's son with a woman known as Margaret Cochran. And no, Walker did not step out on me. Margaret Cochran was a maniac who got an obsession for Walker. She kidnapped him, tortured him and threatened the kids and me. She wanted his baby. She raped him, Todd. And months later after he got free he found out she had gotten pregnant. Shortly before giving birth, she and Walker were in a boat out on a lake when she jumped in and disappeared. Later the bodies of a woman and child were found and Walker was convicted for their deaths. Walker was sentenced to death. It's a miracle he's alive. He was executed but in the last minute John McBain showed up with Margaret. Walker was brought back and recovered. Then we found out he had a son. After a lot of searching, and another near death experience, Walker was finally united with his son. Walker and I married in order to get custody of Sam and that is how Sam became part of my family.


Todd was stunned. One word hung in the air like an albatross. Manning had been raped. God, it didn't matter who carried the name. It was cursed. He found himself feeling sympathy for the man. It was obvious a lot had gone on with Manning. What other stories was he going to hear? "You said you married Manning, to help him get custody of Sam, but I know he's married to Tea. Why did you break up?" he asked.


“Before I tell you that, you have to promise me you'll stay calm. If you can't do that, then I'll have to wait. I refuse to send you into cardiac arrest. I mean it, your promise Todd." said Blair. Todd nodded and Blair continued. "The first thing you need to know is that Walker loves your kids the same way you do. In fact, he's a little too over-protective. When Walker found Starr and Cole in bed he went ballistic and nearly beat Cole to death. Later Starr found out that she was pregnant and she and Cole ran off. Walker tracked them down and found them in Atlantic City. In an ensuing argument, Walker accidentally pushed Starr down a flight of stairs. She almost lost the baby and Walker and I parted over his actions. Later Walker took Sam and put him in the front seat of his car and was involved in an accident. I sued for custody of the kids on the grounds he was an unfit father. We now share joint custody again." Blair had been watching Todd looking for any sign he might explode. He was too quiet. She had seen his face when he heard of Starr's fall. She was and always would be his world even over Jack. But that was only because he had had more contact with Starr. She wished she could see what the monitor was reading, any minute now she expected the nurse to come in and check on him. Then a chill went down her back. The eyes staring at her were cold as ice. She remembered one other night when Todd had been that cold. He had almost raped her that night. Oh God, Pete was out. " Ok, Blair you got to talk him down. he's not mad at you." Thank goodness he was so weak. he couldn't do much in this state.


"You let him throw her down some stairs! Where were you? Were you with some other man while he hurt my daughter? I've told him you're not worth it, but he continues to crawl back to you. If I could get out of this bed Manning wouldn't last a day and you wouldn't be far behind him. You're both the reason my daughter became pregnant by that delinquent son of Marty's." Pete stopped and his eyes closed.


Blair was heartbroken, had she lost Todd to Pete. What would happen if Pete stayed in control? God. Pete had been ruthless and implacable. He would wreak havoc for sure, and Llanview would be caught in his hellfires.


Todd had used what strength he had to rip Pete from control. Pete was putting up a fight. "You fool! Look what she's allowed! You're as worthless as your father said. I took control because you were going to let her get off. God, you used to have some fight in you. How could you just sit there? She has you so wrapped around her little finger that you've forgotten all the times she took your kids from you. Didn't you hear her, she did the same thing to Manning. She hasn't changed, you have. I'll leave for now. But you mark my words, you've just heard the tip of the iceberg. I'm willing to bet you're going to be begging my help when you hear everything that has occurred since you've been gone."


Panting from the exertion. Todd drew himself up straight and looked Pete in the eyes. "You might be strong, but I'm stronger. You have no idea, what I've faced recently, but I know you wouldn't have been able to handle it. You're as much a bully as my father Peter. When push comes to shove you'll eventually turn tail and run. I'm through running. If you attempt to come through again to hurt Blair, I'll destroy you. Brother or not. You come out when I say. Do you understand? I don't want to lose you, but I will for my sanity and her safety. Ms. Perkins, we need stronger restraints. It's obvious as I get stronger, he's getting stronger. If he takes control again, well I don't want to think of it right now. Samuel, stay close by. Warn me if he gets loose." Todd slowly opened his eyes and got his bearings. He realized they had put the oxygen back on him and he wondered how long he had been fighting with Pete. "Mr. Toddman, take it easy. You're alright you just overdid it today. Your heart is fine, but you once again had an anxiety attack and passed out because you hyperventilated. You just rest now. We'll be in later." The nurse turned to Blair and said. "You mustn't worry.  Panic attacks look worse than they are."


Blair watched the nurse leave and turned back to Todd. Please God, let it be Todd. she thought.


Todd looked at Blair. He was tired. Too tired to be angry. Pete hadn't been totally wrong. Blair and Manning had made a mess of his daughter's and son's lives. He marveled that Starr was still so resilient after everything she had been through. Pete had called him a fool for loving Blair, but that was because Pete was incapable of love. He didn't know quite what to say to Blair. She had been scared by Pete, he understood that. Pete terrified him sometimes. But Todd was afraid, not of Pete so much, as the acts that Pete perpetrated when he was getting even. Todd got angry, but Pete exploded. Blair's story had brought up so much hate. Hatred for Manning for pushing Starr. Hatred for Mitch for putting him in this bed. Hatred for Hesser for taking eight years of his life away. Even a piece of hatred for everyone who accepted Manning as him all these years. All that hatred was eating at him begging for revenge and it was feeding Pete strength. If he couldn't find a way to get past it. Pete would win. Todd would have his revenge but probably lose everyone he cared about permanently.


She hadn't said anything. He would have to make the first move.  "Blair, you can relax. It's me. I don't know if I'm going to be able to do this. There is so much anger building in me. I'm fighting to keep it contained, I hope you believe that. I know it would be easier on everybody if Samuel was in charge permanently. He's the nice guy, the stable one. I can't do it. It's my life and I want to live it. Several people have called me a monster in my life. It's true. I'm like the Hydra, if you cut off one head two grow back in its place. You never get rid of me, you just get to meet more and more heads. If you love me and can take me the way I am, we might stand a chance. I know what Pete thinks of you, I'm aware of all your faults. I'm putting myself back under the guillotine. If you betray me again, you cut off my head but you won't like what comes back in its place. So where do we go from here?"


Blair couldn't say anything. She was so relieved Todd had returned. She stood there and listened as he opened himself once more to her. Through everything he said she heard only one thing. After all the hurtful things Pete had said she had been sure Todd felt the same, but that wasn't the case. He still wanted her. He was giving her the chance to get away from him. He knew he had the power to hurt her, but he knew she had the same power to hurt him. If she couldn't accept him with all his faults he was asking her to cut the ties now before it got dangerous. Blair had made her decision the moment she had laid eyes on him in Paris. Good or bad, dangerous or not, he was Todd and she loved him. "From one Monster to another. We've got to stick together. No one else will have us." She collapsed on his chest crying. "Todd, I do love you."


Todd just let her cry. She had gotten a pretty bad scare when Pete had come out. A weight had lifted off his heart when she had told him she was in it to stay. Maybe this time they might get it right. Blair stopped crying and positioned herself next to him on the bed. She didn't say anything just nestled in closer laying her head on his shoulder. Todd wrapped his arm around her to keep her from falling out of the bed. It felt good, just to hold her. She hadn't said anything since the 'I love you' and he imagined thoughts were probably racing through her head much like his. What was he going to do with Pete?  Being out of things for eight years and realizing that Samuel had actually led a pretty good life without all of Todd's baggage, was a bit of an eye opener. It hadn't been perfect, but it at least had been trouble free. Todd's life had always been one angst-fraught moment after another. Unfortunately when the memories had started coming back Samuel had soon found himself caught up in Todd's nightmare of a life and now there was no turning back. All of them had to move forward and that included Pete.


Even as he lay there thinking of Pete, he realized there was more than one tip of the iceberg in front of him. Todd knew he had many more truths awaiting him in Llanview and he wasn't going to like some of them. He also knew there was one truth about himself he had been putting off for a very long time. He was going to have to have a final confrontation with Pete. If he couldn't face Pete and everything he embodied, then Todd was doomed. Todd looked inside himself and saw that dark place. He heard the whisper of that monster within and he knew that Pete was getting his strength from that Monster. He had to conquer Pete, otherwise he would be torn in two from the inside out. The only thing holding him together was his love for his family if he lost that, nothing would hold the monster back. Todd pulled Blair closer like a lifeline. He needed the reinforcement and strength of her love to bolster his own, with her held close he slowly drifted off into oblivion.


Blair lay there quietly. Todd hadn't said anything after her answer but when she had positioned herself closer to him and laid her head on his shoulder he had drawn her in and held her there. It was quiet, she listened to his heart beating steadily, it seemed to have a good strong beat. Her thoughts went back to those moments when she faced Pete and his angry words. As she had listened, she realized some uncomfortable truths about herself. All these years whenever anything had gone wrong, she had used the kids to get back at Todd. It didn't matter if it was Todd or Walker, she had known their weakness and used it. She had used the excuse that she was being the responsible parent that she was taking care of the children when in truth she had ripped their family apart more times than she could remember.


When everything had come down with Starr and Cole, Walker had tried to make Starr realize how young she was.  Blair realized she had sided with Starr instead of standing behind Walker and giving him some support. All she had seen was Todd over the line again. When Todd had returned from Ireland he had done some terrible things but in the end he had just wanted to get his family back. Instead of standing by her man, she had elected to side with Dorian and Patrick and once again her family was torn apart. She and Todd had never wanted to face the truths about themselves so they had used the kids as buffers and as prizes as they had tried to one-up each other. It was going to stop now. This was the man she wanted in her life.   He had been gone for far too long. Blair knew they were going to face rough times probably, but she vowed to herself that this time they would face them as a couple, united against whatever might come their way. She snuggled in closer listening to his heart beat and fell asleep held in the arms of her love.


A little while later the nurse entered the room to check on her patient. She smiled when she saw him resting comfortably and Ms. Cramer right alongside him. The sleep was good for him and he seemed to be breathing much easier. She decided to wait a little later to get his vitals and she pulled the curtain around the bed to let them both rest.
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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chasing the Monsters: 20 (adult)


By the time they got to the limo, her shoes were off, his shirt was unbuttoned, and her blouse was undone in the front.  He said, "Williams, home, okay?" and closed the window screen between the front and the back seat.

They scooted in across the back seat of the stretch, and she was immediately under him, and his mouth was on her, his tongue against hers in urgency.  She fumbled with his belt, and he pushed her skirt up to her waist.  Pulling the waistband of her panties down, his fingers found her, and she moaned.  She took a moment and whispered, "Look at us, like two kids."


He laughed a moment, which was interrupted by a rush of air from her lungs as he slid two of his fingers inside her.  She groaned and wrapped her legs around his waist.


His pants were at his knees, and he postured, ready for her, and lifted her legs from his waist, and put them both over his shoulders.  Anchoring himself by holding both her hips, he pushed into her, and they both sighed out.  In a moment, she was swept into him, like a missing part of herself, and all she wanted to do was open her mouth and her body to take more of him in.  His combination of kissing her and guiding her hips against his thrusts made her feel like she couldn't get close enough.  He moved his mouth off hers, to lick and suck on her neck, and she said, softly, "God, I love you, Todd."


"I love you," he said, breathlessly, before he stopped in mid-stroke, holding himself there, pulling back from her a little.  He looked at her face, and ran his hand along it, stopping to rest his fingers on her mouth.  He replaced his hand with his lips, and moved his fingers to her lower stomach, and then lower.  He found what he was seeking and touched her, starting to move again inside her, until she called his name into his kisses.  That was all it took for him to let go into her, and fill her ears with his voice, her heart with his love, and her body with himself.


He moved down along her until his head was resting right below her breasts, and he said, "Now that was better than Cord and coffee."


"Mmm hmm."


***


It wasn't long before Williams pulled the limo in front of Unforgettable, and Todd was still asleep on Blair's torso, with his pants at his knees.  She shook him gently.  "Todd, you have to wake up, we're home."


"Oh, Heck," he said, pulling his pants up and zipping.  


She used the intercom, "Williams, don't unlock the doors yet, in case the kids come barrelling out."


"Yes, Mrs. Manning," he said, back.  


She fixed herself as well, and then she and Todd caught eyes.  "We're funny, aren't we?"


"A little on the crazy side, but we're us, Blair," he said, putting his hand at the base of her neck in the back, "But I wouldn't have it any other way, and neither would you," he said, pulling her into a quick kiss, and buttoning his shirt quickly.  


"We have a history with limos," she said.


"I guess we do."


"Todd, remember when, well, I was Marilyn Munroe?  You were jealous then, too.  I can't believe you were jealous of Cord Roberts today."  She tugged at her skirt.  Over his shoulder she saw the door to Unforgettable open, and heard the noise of children's voices.


"I wasn't jealous.  Well, not really.  Here come the troops," he said, finally putting himself together.  He said over the intercom, "It's safe, go ahead."


The doors unlocked just as the kids approached the car.  Todd opened the door, and as he stood up he was jumped on by both Ray and Sam.  


Sam said, "Dad!  YAY!"


Ray copied, "Dad, yay!"


Jack said, "Dad, yay," in a very uninterested voice, as he held Jewel in one arm, facing out to them.


"Hey boys," he said, kissing the two younger ones' heads.


"Hi, Momma's girl," Blair said, putting her hands out to Jewel, and taking her.  "I missed you so much."


Jack said, "Uh, Dad?"


"Yeah?"


Jack pointed on his own chest as if to buttons.  Todd looked down, and his shirt was out of kilter, buttoned wrong, with one tail hanging longer than the other.  "Hmf, now how did that happen?"


Jack raised one eyebrow and said, "You're not fooling anyone.  You two are like teenagers."


"What's all that about?"  Sam asked, "Something mushy?"


"Never mind, Squirt," Jack said, rumpling Sam's hair, and then taking his glasses and running.  Sam followed Jack, and Ray followed Sam, as Jack ran them in circles around the yard, holding up Sam's glasses and saying, "Two blind mice!"


Ray was laughing, his adorable child's laugh, that starts in the gut and pours out like magic. "Two Bwind Mice!" he repeated, and laughed more.


Todd felt emotion welling in his chest as he watched, and then, Blair slipped her hand into his.  "Your daughter wants to see you," she said.


He reached over and took Jewel in one arm, resting her on his shoulder.  She was still very tiny, and light, and he patted her back gently.  "Hey, little girl.  How's my princess?"


She cooed, softly.  "Da da.  Da da da."


He looked at Blair, and she squeezed his hand.  "She loves you.  She knows who her Daddy is."


"I love her," he said, turning his eyes away from Blair to mask the moisture that was forming in them.


She said, "I know, I feel it, too," and rested her head on his shoulder, touching her baby's pink sweater.  "Look, Jack dressed her in this."


"He's . . . he's totally in love with her.  He was from the first second he saw her."


"Yes," she said.  "Should we go in?"


He sighed.  "Let's wait.  Let's just watch them, Blair, for a minute."


She knew what he wanted.  To keep that moment, as long as he could, in the photographs of his mind, before it was gone.  She just stood, next to him, holding on to his hand, her chin balanced on his muscular shoulder, her eyes fixed on his face.  From where she stood, she saw his profile, strong jaw, and his scar, lanced into his cheek; his eyes, hazel and beautiful, with dampness teetering in them; and his hand, strong, covering almost the entire back of their baby girl.  


Remembering him once holding Starr, the same way, she sighed.

***


"Bitsy, come in, and have a seat," Ray said.


"Hello, Dr. Martino.  I mean, Ray."


"It's all right, you can call me whatever you feel comfortable with.  How has your week been?"


"I've been fine, been painting.  Sister Rebecca Katherine saw."


"Saw?"


"Yes.  A particular painting I didn't want anyone to really see.  Of course, Clyde has seen it, but it wouldn't make any difference to him."


He leaned forward.  "What is this painting about?"


"A man."  She stood up and paced, heading for the window.  She moved a curtain to look out.  "It's a beautiful day, I hope the children are outside playing.  After what Peter did to them, can they ever feel happy again in that yard?"


"Sure.  Can't you feel happy again?"


"Maybe.  But not in that house, in Chicago.  Never there."


Ray scribbled some notes.  "Who is in the picture?  Do you want to tell me?"


"No."


"All right, you don't have to.  What can I do for you then, today?"


"Make it all go away.  And you can't."


"No, I can't."


"Make my son whole.  Like, really whole.  Don't let him have any of these memories in his mind."


"Again, I can't do that.  No one can.  But you know Todd has moved on.  You said so yourself, the last time we spoke."


"What about the children?" she turned to Ray, and her face showed distress.


"Have you seen them recently?"


"I saw them, yes, once."


"Since then?"


"No.  I don't want Todd to bring them here.  Last time I saw them at home, Sam cried.  He cried so much, in his sleep.  He woke me.  He was afraid."


"He is still having nightmares?"


"Yes.  At least, when I saw him he was.  I don't want him to  . . . ever want to go with the  sparrows, Dr. Martino."


"Bea, can I ask you about that?  Where did that image come from?  The Time of Dark?"


"No, not the Time of Dark.  Before that."


"Is this something you want to talk about?"


She turned, with her eyes brimming.  "Dr. Martino, do you have children?"


"No, Bea.  I've not had the blessing of that."


"Then you can't know what it's like . . . to . . ."


"Tell me, then.  What is it?"


"The sparrows come from Todd."


***


The tent was set up in the master bedroom suite, and Todd stood back and admired it.  "There.  Not bad.  Good thing the ceiling is so high in here."


"It fits in the family room," Blair said.


"True.  Just seems to fit better here."


"It's perfect," she said, wiping her hands on her thighs.  


"You're perfect.  A real camper.  You helped like an expert."


"I went camping before, you know."


"You?" he laughed, loudly.


"Yes, me!  One of the foster homes I lived in, the family used to camp all the time."  He stopped laughing and listened.   She said, "We used to go on weekends in the summer."


He folded his arms over his chest, "Yeah?  So, what happened with that family?"


She was primping pillows, and setting up materials for smores, and she kept talking, nonchalant and calmly, "They gave me back."


He swallowed.  You've been worried about yourself, and your fucked up family, and for almost twenty years now you've completely ignored her life and what she's gone through.


"Todd?  Get this, will you?  I can't quite lift it."


He walked to her side and picked up the coffee table, and moved it without her help.  She put her hands on her hips.  "Good, that's out of the way, too."


"Blair," he walked to her, and put his hands on her arms.


"Yeah?"

"I . . . never listen to you."


"What?  That's silly.  You listen to me all the time.  All my whining, complaining, my dreams, and things I'm scared of.  Things I want.  You listen to everything I say, Todd.  In fact, I've always loved that about you.  What I say matters."


"No, I mean, I . . ."


She put her finger to his lips.  "Don't, okay?" she whispered.  "It's in the past.  I don't spend much time with it."


She seemed unaffected, and for a moment, he felt out of place.  "I make such a big deal . . ."


"Todd," she was firm, "stop.  Please.  I just don't go there, Todd.  And it's not the same as you. I don't even remember most of it.  It's totally different, and not worth it.  And don't compare us.  You tried to never think of it, and it all came back anyway.  You couldn't push it down.  It doesn't make you weak, Todd.  It's just the way it is."


He stepped closer to her.  "How do you see into me like this?"


"I don't know.  How do you see into me?  It's the same."


"I don't think I've done a great job.  I've . . . never asked you much about your past, I've never given you the chance to tell me about much of it."


"Because I chose not to.  But you let me tell you everything else, all my fears, you take them away if you can.  All my dreams, you make them come true, any way you can.  That's  all, Todd."  She touched his face.  "Please."


It was a statement, not a question.  She wasn't asking.  She was telling him.


"Okay," he said, softly.


"Mom!  Mom!"  Sam ran in, "Mom, Ray found a four-leaf clover!"  Ray was behind Sam, and put his hand out.  The clover was smooshed, and crinkled, and his face saddened.  


"Broke!" he said, and Todd knelt down.  "Let me see," he said, flattening the petals as carefully as he could.  "There, see?  Four leaves."


Ray's face lit up.  "Cwover!"


"Well, that's lucky, especially to Sister Rebecca Katherine and maybe Timothy,"  Blair said.


"Because they're Irish," Sam said.


Jack came in, carting Jewel with him under one arm, and sat down on the sofa.  He held Jewel in a standing position, supporting her under her arms.  He said, "A clover's great, Ray, see, you brought good luck to us."


"Yep," Todd said, standing back up.


"Hey, Jewel's getting strong," Jack said.  He held her up, barely touching, and she balanced well almost on her own.  "Should I let go of her, Mom?"


"If you want.  She'll stand a minute, and then go to her hands and knees, probably."


He did.  She stood still on her own, and then, she almost fell sideways and went to all fours, just as her mother had said.  She crawled over to the coffee table, and worked herself to standing.  


Todd said, "Hey, that's great, Jewel, you did that on your own, Sweetie."  He crouched down.  He could reach her, from where he was, and he touched her head, lovingly, and at the same time, steadied her slightly with his hand on her tiny head. 


Blair said, "She likes to stand up.  She does that sometimes, when she wants something."


Jewel looked at her father, holding on to the coffee table for support.  He said, "You're so strong, Princess.  Good job," and let go of her head.

She smiled, and cooed, and turned toward him, letting go of the table.  She wobbled a minute, and stepped three times toward him, falling into his arms and laughing.  He picked her up, and kissed her cheek.  "You walked!  She walked, Blair!"


Blair smiled at Jewel and clapped her hands lightly.  "You did it, Little Girl!"


She was smiling, babbling a bunch of "da das" and pulling his ear.  


"Wow, this is cool.  Everyone was here the first time she walked," Sam announced.  "This calls for Smores, Mom!"


"I'll start a fire," Jack said.  


Todd put Jewel under his arm like a little package, and Blair heard her chuckle lightly.  He said, "Come on Little One, time for bed."


"No!  Jewel pway with us, Daddy, in the tent,"  Ray insisted.


"Jewel's too little," he said.


"Wittle?"


"Yes, she's too small.  It's her bedtime.  Look, she's yawning," he said, and she was.


"Night, Jewel," he said, kissing her head.  The way he said "Jewel" came out more like "Jew" and Todd always got a kick out of it.  Everyone else took a turn kissing her goodnight, and he walked out with her in his arms, her little hand hooked on his nose.


Blair said, "Your father got to see her walk," and was clearly emotional.  "He was going through so much when Ray walked.  I don't even think he was there for that.  I think we were in Europe."


Jack said, "Good.  Then he got to see it. That's good, Mom."


"Yes," she said, looking down.


"Don't cry, Mom," Sam said.


"Don't cwy, Mom," Ray repeated, handing her the clover.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chasing the Monsters: 19

"Blair, it's good to see you," Cord said, entering the foyer and seeing her standing behind Tina, with her arm through Todd's.

"Roberts," Todd said, extending a hand.


"Todd," he said, shaking it.  "I've heard a lot of things, but none of them match some of the stories of your life.  I just wanted to say, right off the bat, that I don't envy you, and that you're brave."


Blair felt a lump in her throat, and saw her husband's working.  He said, "Thank you.  I made it.  I'm still here."


"Yes, you are, and so are all of us.  Imagine this?  All these years later?"  Tina said, going to Cord's side.  


He gave her a knowing look, and said, "Okay, Girl, what are you up to?"


"She's not up to anything," Blair said, "We wanted to see you, didn't we, Todd?"


"Sure, yeah.  I . . . well, things have changed over the years, I guess. Tina's not so bad."


Blair elbowed him. "He means that they have gotten closer.  She's been through a lot, too and she's been a rock for our kids."


"Madame," Nigel interrupted, "dinner is almost ready."


"Thank you, Nigel.  Well, should we all head into the dining room?"  Tina said.


Everyone, for some reason, looked to Todd.  "Yeah, why the Hell not?  I don't turn down meals often," and Blair laughed nervously.  The four of them headed into the other room.


Viki, who had been in the library, listening, said aloud, "Tina, what exactly do you think you're going to achieve?"


***


"Jack, is it hard to babysit all us kids?"  Sam asked.


"Kinda.  But when Shaun's here, it's easier."


"Like today?"


"Yep, like today."


"Because Jewel and Ray are just babies, right?"


"Right."


"Jack?"


"Yeah, Squirt?"


"I . . . showed Dad everything."


Jack frowned a little.  "What do you mean?"


"I showed him everything.  Where I was hiding, where Starr was.  Where Mixie died.  I showed him.  From the balcony."


"You mean the other day, when you were standing up there?"


"Yeah."  
He thought about it.  "I'm scared every day."

"You don't have to be scared anymore.  Peter's gone."


"I'm scared thinking what if he wasn't?  And other stuff scares me.  What if he's not dead?"


"But he is."


"But what if he wasn't?"


"If he wasn't, Dad would protect us.  He'd make sure we were all right.  Why are you thinking about all this?"


"I always do, I just don't say anything.  Mom said I should talk about it when I am scared, so I am talking about it, I guess."


"You're scared because they're not with us, and we're alone?"


Sam nodded. 


Jack continued, "Okay, let's go get Shaun then.  You, me, Ray and Jewel will go and get Shaun.  Or, you could call him or text him.  Which one?"


"It's too hard to get those two to listen.  I'll call him, okay?"


"Sure.  Go ahead."


Jack watched as the little boy called Shaun on his cell phone, told him to come to the house and thanked him, politely.  "Okay, he's coming."


"See?  That was easy."


"Why does he have a cane?"


"He got hurt, he's still recovering.  He has some nerve damage in his foot."


"From the needle that Grandpa Peter put there."


"Peter.  Sam, Peter's not your grandfather.  Timothy is.  Right?"


"I guess."


What the heck is wrong with that kid?  Jack made a mental note to mention it to his parents, and headed down the hallway toward his younger siblings' room, as Sam went downstairs to meet Shaun.


***


"So, I guess I should offer you condolences for your loss.  You lost a brother, right?"  Cord said, taking a forkful of food after he spoke.


"Yeah, my brother Aiden.  I didn't know him long.  His father adopted me.  As an adult."


"Wow, just more twists and turns as we go," Cord said, swallowing.  "Adopted you?"  He cut his food and listened to Todd.


"Yeah, he did.  Let's face it, I could use a father figure, maybe always have.  Anyway, it was before we knew that Aiden was alive."


"I see.  So much has happened to you, Todd.  And you, Blair.  I'm sorry about the baby you lost."


"Thank you," she said, looking down, and Todd covered her hand with his.  


Cord's chewing slowed as he watched them, completely engrossed in each other, even for a fleeting moment, here and there.  He said, "Sore subject, I'm sorry."


"No, we're fine," Blair said, "we have two new children you don't know about, I believe.  That sounded so weird, like they're purchases or something.  One is Raymond, he's three, and the newest is Jewel, she's just over a year.  She's a miracle baby, after the shooting, and all."


"That's beautiful.  You guys are blessed,"  Cord said.


"Which brings me to the next thing," Todd said, looking at his sister.  "Ray was saved from death by Tina here."


Tina beamed at her brother, and Blair thought for a moment that she saw him wink.  Tina said, "Oh, Todd, it was the only thing I could do.  Ray is so sweet."


"A toddler, huh?" Cord asked with a knowing look at the parents.


"Yes, his nickname at home is 'The Road Runner.'" Todd said, and Cord lightly laughed.


"Was he the child that . . .well that . . ." Cord said, and then thought better of it, not finishing his sentence.


"Was kidnapped by Peter?  Yes.  Ray was taken.  Sam hid, and Jewel was so tiny, she was in her basket, and he never saw her."  Blair said.


"That was lucky," Cord said.


"Well, I was wishing Tina had been around for that one," Blair said, and then twisted her face when she realized how badly it sounded.  "I mean, she did wonders when we were held at La Boulaei by Mitch."


"Laurence.  He's not all there," Cord said, seriously.


"Tina saved our baby's life, and ours, too," Blair said.  "I mean, her motives may not have been stellar at first, but . . ."


"Ahem," Tina cleared her throat.


Blair made an oops face, biting her lip, and Todd said, "So, what do you do, now out there at the ranch?"


"It might seem a bit strange but I got into security work.  I know, I didn't think it fit me, either, but that's what happened."


"Security?"  Todd repeated.


"Yep.  Mostly for families.  Like body guards, home security systems, fencing, you name it."


"I'm surprised.  I thought you were into big business."


"I do that, too, this security thing is on the side.  There was a need for it at the BE headquarters out there, after a break in, so I looked into it.  A friend of mine was going under.  I bailed the company out, and got into it more."


"I'd really appreciate a favor then," Todd said, looking at Blair.  "Coincidence, Blair, isn't it?"


"What do you mean?" she said.


"Well, Cord, it would really make us rest assured if you would stick around and help with the kids.  My head of security was injured during the attack months back, and still hasn't recovered.  I feel like he could use a break, so I may just send him on vacation, and now something has come up for Blair and I.  We were going to leave the kids here, with Tina and Viki, and could really use your help.  Can you stay?  I'll make it worth your while.  We don't want to leave them home alone, because Sam is really struggling with nightmares, and it's too similar to what happened at home, and La Boulaei, well, there's the home invasion and worst of all, Dorian."


"Oh, well, I reckon that explains that," Cord said, smiling.


"Little Sam is really having a hard time."  Blair added, following Todd's lead.


"I really had to get home, honestly.  Back to the ranch,"  Cord explained.


"Well, it's only a few days, more, can you see your way through to doing this?  We trust you, and it would be so much easier than trusting strangers,"  Blair said.


Tina, miraculously, said nothing.  Her eyes followed each of the speakers back and forth with grand interest in them.


"Well, I . . ." he stopped, catching Blair's expression.  He glanced down, and saw Todd and Blair's hands intertwined, on the table, and glimpsed Todd's wrist scars.  He looked back up and said, "I guess a few days more won't hurt."


"Thank you, Cord," Blair said, with her best, more sincere whispering tone, and Todd squeezed her hand in admonishment.


"Don't mention it.  Well, we'll discuss the details over coffee," Tina said, "which I'll go and hurry along."


"I'll help you, Girl," Cord said, getting up.


After they left, Todd mocked, "I'll help you, Girl," in his best western accent.


"Todd?  Stop!"  Blair whispered.  "What's the matter with you?  You just about crushed my fingers."


"I didn't mean to, but I couldn't stand you batting your eyes at that guy another minute.  I mean, where's his ten-gallon white hat?"


She stopped, and smoothed the hand that was holding hers with her thumb.  "Todd, you're jealous."


"Me?  No."


"Yes, you.  You are.  And you should know by now, Mr. Manning, that there's no one who can ever take your place in my life."


He looked at her, still recovering from his anger.  He said, "I don't like the way he looks at you."


"Oh, stop, he's got a 30 year-old girlfriend."


"First, I haven't even seen her, and I know you're sexier, and second, my sister's flipped her lid.  He's taken?"


"Well . . ."


He looked around, as if for help.  "You both are out of your heads.  He's already involved. He lives across the country.  He's a rancher."


"And she's Tina."


He stopped, and paused.  "And she's Tina,"  he nodded.


"Now, stop this mess, you know you're the only man for me," she said, reaching under the table and lightly grazing the inside of his thigh with her hand.  Her fingertips brushed against him, and a shiver went through him that she could see and feel.


"Whoa, what are you trying to do, there, clear the dinner table the quick way?"  he said.


"No, I just want you to remember what you're getting tonight."


"Tonight?  That's a long way off."


"Then you'll be really appreciative of it when it happens."


His face took on a totally different appearance, and she knew she might have gone a little too far.  He wanted her, and right then, and she saw it, in his eyes and the way his hand tightened slightly around hers.  And more of a problem was that she wanted him, and her nipples were standing up at such attention, she was sure the whole world would see them poking against her bra and blouse.  


Their eyes locked, and they moved toward each other, and before their lips actually met, he said, "The Limo."


She said, "Right," and grabbed her purse.  


As they got to the door of Llanfair, Tina and Cord appeared behind them, with the coffee tray and some desserts.  Todd said, "Uh, we have to be going, the kids are expecting us for a family day.  Thanks, Cord, draw up the papers, whatever it costs, and send it over.  I'll sign.  The kids will be here tomorrow morning."


"Thanks Tina, for being a lovely hostess."  Blair said.


Tina said, "You're going?"  She looked as if the world had collapsed.


Todd said, "Well, our kids come first, you know that, having saved them, and all."


"Yes, well, I do, sure. Okay. Thanks for coming," Tina said.


"Thanks for the grub, Sis," Todd said, and they headed out.  


Cord and Tina stood in the lobby with the trays, and looked at each other.  "They're just the same, aren't they?" she said.  "They always were on top of the world together."


"They're not the only ones," Cord said, and he looked at her for a moment, and warmly smiled.


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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Mysterious Samuel Toddman: Chapter 38

Bo stopped at the nurses desk to get an update on Todd's condition. Todd was doing better and it looked like he might be allowed to go home in the next day or so. That was good news. It meant they could forge ahead and get plans underway without endangering Todd any further. Bo entered Todd's room to find Vicki and a lab technician already there.

"Commissioner, please come in, this should only take a moment. I understand that you personally are going to see that this DNA test is handled securely. Do you trust where it is going?" asked Samuel.

Bo was surprised at how easily he was able to tell Samuel from Todd. Samuel just came across as more dignified and well, nice. Todd had always had a chip on his shoulder. Even yesterday, Samuel came across as more reasonable, more like Sam. That was it, Samuel reminded him of Sam Rappaport. Bo answered Samuel's question. "I'm certain there will be no problem with this set of samples. I'm hand delivering them myself to the lab and I'll get the results myself and bring them to you. Is that satisfactory?"

"I believe that will do just fine, Commissioner. Now would you please help me convince Vicki that I'm on the mend and she doesn't have to hover any longer." Samuel looked over at his sister. "Really Vicki, you have your daughters to think about right now. I promise I won't overdo it."

"Vicki, I won't let him get overtaxed, but we really need to talk. I know that Brody brought Tess back. You need to try and reach your daughter and Samuel is in good hands right now. Go, I'll keep you updated." said Bo.

Vicki knew they were ganging up on her, but they were both right. Jessica's condition had to be addressed. Tess was being very stubborn and refusing to let Jessica out. Vicki wasn't sure how they were going to get Jess back. And Jess's kids were caught in the middle right now, especially Ryder. She smiled at Bo and patted Samuel's hand. "You're right, I'm needed at home. Take care of him, Bo. Thank You." then she left.

The lab technician sealed the test samples and handed the envelope to the commissioner and then exited the room.

"Have a seat Commissioner. The reason you're talking to me right now is because I was the one in charge following Todd's trauma his final night in town. I don't remember a lot of what happened, but I have had a few memories return that might shed light on what was done to Todd." Samuel paused and waited for the commissioner to get settled "Should I continue?"

"Samuel, by all means go ahead. Whatever you remember is going to be crucial if we're to figure out how you were replaced by the current Todd. Like you said, you were in charge, so I'm guessing that Todd won't be of much help at this stage." replied Bo.



"I'll start at the beginning. The first thing I recall was a knife coming towards my face and a figure standing over me saying I would always know who had carved me. He carved and said 'L for Laurence', the pain was more than I could take and I passed out. I have a vague memory of another man finding me.  I heard someone on the phone talking about a brother and an accident than I was out again. Then my memories become a little surreal. I have memories of corridors. I'm being forced down these corridors. The doorways at the end of the corridors lead to different memories. I remember that if I refuse to open the doors I received a shock like someone has zapped me with a cattle prod. This seems to go on for days. But I finally come to three doors I can't open. For some reason after several attempts when I think I can't take any more, the shocks stop. What I didn't know at the time but do now, is that with each door opened the memories were somehow recorded and then locked away from me.”

Samuel paused for a moment as a headache started to form behind his eyes.  He knew just talking about the memories was causing the pain, but he continued.  “I lingered in a gray place for a long time, then I woke up.  I was a mess.  According to the doctors, just about every bone in my body had been broken and some of them had begun to set improperly. It seems I was delivered to Philadelphia General some weeks later than my initial accident.  The worst of my injuries had been addressed at a different facility, but they hadn't treated them all. The only thing that makes any sense is that I was taken to a small clinic at first. Usually, a small clinic will handle the most dangerous injuries and make a patient stable and then they'll transfer the patient to a bigger hospital for the rest of their care. For some reason, I was taken someplace else before I was sent on to Philadelphia General." Samuel paused again and reached for some water.  He took a sip. and closed his eyes for a moment, reaching for his forehead to rub it and try and alleviate the throbbing.

Bo noticed the gesture. “Samuel, just take it easy.  Don’t push yourself.  If this is too tiring let me know.”

Samuel opened his eyes and looked at Bo.  “It’s nothing, I get headaches from time to time.  Let’s see, where was I? Oh Yes.  I awoke from a coma several weeks after arriving at Philadelphia General. The only thing I could remember was my name. Every time I tried to remember more I would have excruciating headaches. They were brutal, much worse than this current one. Finally, the doctors convinced me that I should just concentrate on getting better. When I was well enough to leave the hospital, I felt like I was being watched. I transplanted myself to Paris where I've been until recently. While in Paris there were several times I felt like someone was keeping an eye on me. I couldn't tell you who they were, but they were always there. Occasionally I would spot someone staring at me but when I caught their eye they would look away. Since all they were doing was watching. I tried to live as simple a life as possible.”

“So let me get this straight.  You decided to leave the country on a feeling.  Why Paris?”

“Why not.  I thought I had eluded my watchers in the states.  Having no knowledge of my past, all I could go on was my gut telling me to disappear.  I’m not sure how they found out where I was, but I’m guessing it was my paintings of Blair.”

“So it didn’t occur to you to go to the police when you found out you were being watched in Paris?”

“What was I supposed to tell them.  I couldn’t remember anything.  It wasn’t until recently that my memory began returning.  At first if I tried to push it, I was again hit with the headaches; but I decided that I needed the memories and I almost did myself in. That's when I called Philadelphia General and had them send me my records. A day after calling the hospital, I had a breakthrough. I remembered how I got this scar. That day I painted a picture of a woman in an alley behind a place called Rodi's. When I recalled the memory, I just about despaired, I couldn't believe I had hurt someone that way. That night I had a chance meeting with a woman named Alex.  I'm grateful to her, she brought me out of my despair. Yet even as I talked to her I suddenly had the feeling I had when I felt like I was being watched. It was like she was associated with my watchers. I took her back to her hotel and that was going to be it; then I thought maybe I could turn the table on my watchers by getting to know Alex. The next day I spent the afternoon with her, but she suddenly got cold feet as if she knew she was in over her head. Although we made plans for the next night, she ended up canceling and flying back here to the States.

The same night as my date with Alex, Blair arrived at my door.  I won't go into that except to tell you that after I dropped off Blair the next morning I made a visit to the Gallery that sold my paintings. That morning I got a list of my patrons. Two gentlemen seemed to be my staunchest supporters. They were always in a bidding war for my paintings. One name was familiar to me because he had been mentioned by Blair. His name was Todd Manning. The other gentleman's name was Carlo Hesser."

Bo thought it odd that Manning was buying portraits of Blair, but when Samuel mentioned Carlo he really took an interest. That was a name that hadn't been heard from in a while. Now Samuel's friend Alex made a little sense  Could that have been Alex Olanov?  She was someone who had more than a passing acquaintance with Carlo. Samuel was right. Very likely, if Alex Olanov was the woman, she had been sent to distract Samuel and to find out if he was getting his memory back. Why was Carlo keeping an eye on Samuel? Did he know that Samuel was Todd Manning? If Carlo was involved in this, then it had just gotten serious. "Stop Samuel, you're saying Carlo Hesser has been buying some of your paintings."

Samuel nodded. "There's more Commissioner. The day after Blair and Alex both left Paris, my records arrived from the hospital. Several days later I had a face to face chat with the doctor at Philadelphia General and we found an admitting doctor who had noticed the ambulance I arrived in. The name on the ambulance was the Kipling Neuroscience Research Facility outside of Philadelphia. I enlisted Todd's contacts and did some investigation into any projects or research and came up with two projects that were ongoing in 2003. One project was known as REMSWITCH. It was research on Memory Transference. The other Project was known as BLINDSIDE. It was a project involved in hi-tech spying using relative unknowns and making them into someone else. Through the use of Remswitch and some micro technology memories of another person were inserted into the brain of the unknown who then took on all the mannerisms and memories of the original. The two projects melded together to make the perfect mole. A mole so believable that he truly believed he was the original individual. I believe I was one of those test subjects and it is my belief that the current Todd Manning is the unknown who became me. The last piece of the puzzle is the name of one of the backers at the Kipling Facility. Yes, you guessed it. Carlo Hesser."

Bo sat back. " Do you have any proof that you were at the Facility?"

"As of yet, no. I went to the cemetery the night after the report and you know those results. I need to find someone who saw me at that facility and who might have seen Manning. I'm also trying to figure out where I might have been taken the night of the beating. I've narrowed my search down to two medical facilities between here and Philadelphia. They'll also need to be checked. If I can place Carlo with me on that night then we'll know we're on the right track." said Samuel

Samuel laid back and looked at Bo trying to gauge if he believed the story or not. There were parts of his story he really had trouble relaying to Bo. He was aware that the commissioner was all too familiar with Todd's past. Samuel, on the other hand, was still trying to wrap his head around some of the terrible things that Todd had done. He couldn't understand what had driven Todd to commit those acts. If he couldn't understand it, then how was Todd supposed to. Samuel figured it had to do with the third door in his mind. The one guarded so well by the rest of Todd's alters. He had attempted to find out what was behind that door, but Ms. Perkins said the only one with the key was Todd and he had buried the key where even he couldn't find it. There was something inside of Todd that has been eating at him for a long time. It was in the darkness that had scared Samuel in Paris. It had seemed like something evil lived in that darkness. That something was just waiting for the right opportunity to get a better foothold then it would take over and Todd would be lost forever. Samuel closed his eyes for a moment. He didn't want to think what that would mean for all of them, but he knew he didn't want it taking over him and he would do everything in his power to continue to keep it in its hole. There must be a way to trap it there so it would never threaten them again.

Bo again watched as Samuel's eyes closed and wondered if maybe they should take a break. He had the impression that Samuel wasn't as calm as he tried to appear. Samuel was having to adjust to the truth about Todd's life on the fly. There wasn't time for him to get used to the things that Todd had done, he just had to accept them and move on. Bo got up and moved to Samuel's bedside. " Samuel, do you need a break. I realized that Todd's life is essentially new to you and it's a lot to take in. Todd's also going to have a period of adjustment because both you and he have been out of the loop for eight years. Remember we're just getting started here. This mess isn't going to get cleared up in one day."

Samuel opened his eyes and said. " I'm alright, it's just that sometimes the memories come at me a little too fast and I feel the need to step back and put up a shield before they overwhelm me. I told you I had two likely places I could have been taken following the beating. One was the Cherryvale clinic and the other one was the Silver Mountain Hospital. If we know the actual day I disappeared, we can check and see if someone with my injuries was brought in." Samuel looked directly into Bo's eyes and said. "I know what Todd did a long time ago to your wife, and I tell you right now, that Todd deeply regrets those actions. He has no excuses for his actions and they eat at him. He'll never admit it, but I hope you know he respects you. I know you'll never call us friends, but maybe we could agree to be frenemies." Samuel smiled and offered his hand.

Bo stared at Samuel and then shook his hand. "Frenemies will work. You can pass that along to Todd. I think I've got enough information to get started. I'll check into the Cherryvale Clinic and Silver Mountain Hospital first. I think you’re right, if we can find out where you were taken that night, then we'll be that much closer to your not-so-good samaritan. You say you have some reports on the Kipling Facility. Is there any chance I could see those?"

"Certainly Commissioner, all you have to do is give Starr a call. She knows where I put the papers. She's staying in the Penthouse. The doctors tell me I might be able to go home tomorrow or the next day. I'm shooting for tomorrow. I've been told Todd hates hospitals and I can tell you he's not alone. I need to get out of here as much as he does." replied Samuel

“I'm going to leave and drop these DNA samples to the lab. We should have the results within a couple of days. In the meantime, we're all in agreement that a distant relative of Vicki's arrived and recently suffered some health problems. Since you went to so much trouble to make it look like you're still in Paris, I'll explain to the registration the need for anonymity and have your name removed from your records. Then you'll need to keep a low profile. If Carlo is behind this, I want to find a way to catch him with his finger still in the pot. If he discovers you're here, he won't hesitate to immediately cover his tracks. For right now I need you, Vicki, Blair and Starr to keep Todd from doing anything foolish. Todd’s biggest drawback is jumping the gun. He's going to have to find a way to be patient. I want to try and help Todd get back his family but not at the expense of that family. He has a lot to find out about the last eight years and what has been going on with regard to his family. You both need to work on getting better. You'll be back in your home soon enough. I'll see you when the results come back and Samuel, I'm the Police Commissioner, I'm right in the middle of another major case. Tell Todd, I'll help him, but I'm not his own personal police officer. Remind him we work by my rules or not at all." With those final words, he picked up the manila envelope and left.

Samuel called the nurse and asked if there was a handheld mirror handy. She brought him one from the nurses lounge and told him to ring when he was finished with it. Samuel held the Mirror in front of him and looked at Todd. "Well, it's done. The balls in his court now. Did I cover all the bases for you."

"You did fine Samuel. I can't do anything until they let us out of this hospital. With any luck, Bo is going to find out the clinic for us and more about the Kipling facility. Once we have all the information then we can go after Hesser’s bank accounts. We'll hit him where it hurts." said Todd.

Samuel laid the Mirror down. Then he pulled the table to him and grabbed the sketch pad and started drawing another picture of his sister. Whenever he had felt unsettled at home, Vicki had always comforted him. He was feeling that strange unsettling urgency. He wanted to crawl out of his skin. He worked swiftly on the sketch, the sooner he had her finished the sooner the feeling would dispel.

Hours later, Todd moved slowly across the room. He had been trying all morning to get the feel of his legs under him. The first time he sat on the edge of the bed he had almost toppled off. Only by grabbing the table in front of him, had he been able to keep from falling. The room had steadied and he had tried to stand up. What a joke. After working so hard to keep himself upright, he had undone it by trying to stand. He had gone down hard, knocking the table into a chair in the process and making so much noise the nurses had come running. That had been hilarious as they worked to get him back in the bed. They were all baffled as to how he fell out of the bed. He told them he had a bad dream and the next thing he knew he was on the floor.

Once they left, Todd sat on the edge again. This time, he put his feet down on the floor and leaned on the bed until his legs took his weight. Then he had started walking just around the bed. The whole time he was out of breath. After two strolls holding onto the bed, Todd finally let go and walked around it without holding on. He was feeling better, he just needed to get moving again. Before he could get back into bed the doctor showed up and caught him. After a brief talking too about the dangers of giving himself another heart attack, the doctor sat him on the bed and checked him out. It seemed the heart monitors agreed with Todd, so the doctor arranged for Todd to get a portable monitor and told him he could start moving around. If the heart rate remained in a reasonable range with the increase in activity, then he would probably be moved to a regular room. So here he was moving around. Todd finally got to the door and turned to make his way back to the bed. On his way to the bed, he heard the door open behind him.

"Now there's a sight that would make any heart beat faster. Those are sure some pretty legs you got there, Darlin'." Blair said laughing. "But just what are you doing?"

Todd turned to her and sat on the bed. "I'm moving around, what's it look like I'm doing? Only the special few get to see these legs, you should feel honored, Blair. "

"Oh be still my beating heart. I've been granted the honor of seeing your legs. Will wonders never cease." Blair grinned and walked over to Todd. "Seriously, should you be up this soon?"

Todd looked at her standing right in front of him. He stood and pulled her close and answered her question the only way that made sense.

Blair felt his lips take hers and his arms around her and just melted. The last time he had held her like this had been the brief moment in Paris, but she had initiated that kiss because Samuel was in charge. This was all Todd and it felt so good and so right. The kiss seemed endless and marvelous. The adage "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" was never truer. He ended the kiss and just looked at her. He was feeling a little wobbly, so he continued to hold onto her, but he would have held on no matter the reason. He thought back to that awful night so long ago, she had professed to love him but had asked him to go for the sake of the kids. She was here right now but would she stay? Did she still feel that he was a danger to their kids? No, she couldn't, she had allowed Starr and Hope to move in with him. That had to mean something.

Blair looked into his eyes, but they weren't really focused on her, she wondered where his thoughts had gone to. He was still holding her so he must be thinking about her but when was he thinking about. She took his face in her hands and said, "Todd, come back to me." she waited and his gaze connected with hers. "Where were you?" she asked.

"Blair, have I been gone long enough? Can I come home now?" he asked.

At his words, she knew where his thoughts had gone, "Oh Todd yes. Please come home and don't ever go again. I'm sorry, so sorry I ever asked you to go." She said and then kissed him and tried to let him know just how glad she was that he was back. This kiss was different, for it was asking for forgiveness and filled with remorse. With tears mingling both her's and his', two halves of a broken heart sealed back up and became one. She felt his fingers wiping away what was left of the tears. She thought how funny it was that Todd had always wiped away her tears. He had been there when things ended the first time with Max, when she had gone back and forth with Cord; he had been there when she had literally lost it and shot Max, whenever she had been low he had been there. She had been foolish to send him away, and it had cost him eight years. She was going to find a way to make this work. This time, she understood more about him and she now felt like she had an ally in Todd's camp. With Samuel's help, she was going to really get to know Todd better so she could avoid the earlier mistakes.

Todd wiped his own tears and holding on to her wrist he sat back on the bed. " I want that Blair. I need to come home. I know a lot of years have past and I know, that for you, it hasn't been as long because someone else has been me. I don't know how I feel about this other man. You know I've always hated the thought of someone else touching you and I'll be honest, it's eating at me that you thought he was me. I hurt here, Blair" he touched his heart. "It aches knowing that both you and Starr didn't know he wasn't me. I love you and Starr so much I'm really trying to get past the hurt. You have to help me because I'm afraid that ache is going to cause me to do things I'll regret and then I'll lose you again. Please, whatever you do don't push me away again. I don't think I could stand that."



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