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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who's the Real Todd? Chapter 31

Samuel sat there looking at the picture of Blair, she had been so beautiful that night. Yes he would paint the portrait but it was a bittersweet moment to remember. "Todd, are you doing okay?" Samuel inquired.

"He and Pete are letting off steam Samuel, they were pretty incensed when Carlo spoke about Tomas but when he handed you the picture and Todd saw it, it was all Tom and I to do to keep Todd coming out. Rodd was having to keep Pete contained so I suggested they go take out their frustrations. You need to stay in charge for the time being until these guys cool off." answered Ms. Perkins "Samuel I congratulate you on keeping your head it must have been almost as hard for you as for Pete and Todd."

"Ms. Perkins, you have no idea. To see the man who ordered those experiments standing here and remembering the pain, I tell you right now if we weren't recuperating I probably would have attacked also. Okay I'll hold down the fort until Todd's ready to come back." Samuel felt a cool hand on his forehead and opened his eyes to find Blair above him. He reached and took her hand and gave it a kiss and at her look of puzzlement gestured for her to take a seat. He indicated to her to remain quiet then went and got Todd's note and handed it to her. 

He quickly wrote another note and showed it to her. It simply said 'I'm Samuel'. "Darling, how's Kelly. Is she getting settled back into the office? I had intended to go down to the Sun, but I had a visitor and got waylaid. One of my patrons, a great admirer of yours stopped in and made a request that I paint another portrait of you. How could I refuse. He was kind enough to bring me information about my good friend Tomas. It seems Tomas had a very serious accident recently and is unable at this time to manage his Gallery so he is sending me the remainder of my portraits."

All the while he had been talking, Samuel had been showing Blair where the bugs were in the downstairs rooms. He had then led her upstairs and headed for his room. There he found the bugs and gathered them and took them into the spare bedroom which had been left untouched by Carlo's goons. He placed them around the room and said. "Then my patron showed me the picture he wished for me to paint. My dear, you are absolutely stunning in this photo." Samuel led her to the bed. Mouthing 'play along' he said." But come here, I think its time I gave you a proper welcome home." He took her into his arms and felt a mental tap on his shoulder. "Excuse me Samuel, I'll take over." Samuel winked at Blair and closed his eyes.

Blair watched and felt the slight difference in hold as Todd took back over and opened his eyes. He smiled and gave her the kiss that Samuel had been going to pretend. Blair wrapped her arms around his neck kissing him back. He paused and pulled her down on the bed and then continued where he had left off . After a few minutes. He held her close and whispered in her ear." Giggle and make some breathy sounds and I'll fill you in on Carlo's visit." So while Blair pretended to be in the throes of passion for the sake of their listeners, Todd told her everything Carlo had said and his implication about Tomas. Blair gasped out loud at the realization that Todd was telling her Tomas' accident was no accident. She continued to pretend as he informed her about his visit to John, throwing in an occasional "Oh yes Samuel give me some more." Todd finally couldn't help himself when she screamed "Oh my God" he captured her lips again as she was beginning to literally turn him on. They both gave into the passion and finally came up for air sometime later. After pulling themselves back together, Todd led the way to his bedroom where they could finish the conversation without the prying ears.

Later they returned downstairs and found Starr there with Hope sitting on the floor playing a game. Starr got up and gave her dad a hug and whispered in his ear that she had read the message. They all made their way to the kitchen to begin dinner and Todd got some pots and pans and sat Hope in her high chair close to the listening device and showed her how to play drums. With Hope banging away, Todd , Blair and Starr were able to converse knowing Hope would drown out most of the conversation.

Todd smiled over at Hope and then began. "Okay, this is what you need to know. For the time being, no matter what, I'm Samuel, so no Todds or dads should be spoken. I can't destroy the bugs without giving myself away to Carlo, and John is supposed to be sending someone who might be able to track the signal back to whoever is listening. If we can get any kind of trace or direction, then we might be able to find the link. Starr, there are no bugs in either your's or Hope's rooms. I did destroy those.  I don't want you to worry about them. Now on another note, Starr, we're getting married this coming Friday and then we'll leave on our honeymoon. I've decided I need some R & R.  So you'll have to hold down the fort. I expect your help with this whole thing with Jack, try and stress to him he shouldn't get too cocky because he thinks he's off the hook."

Starr looked from one parent to the other, then squealed "You're getting married Friday! Why didn't you tell me?  Mom, we've got to go shopping, that's only a couple days away. Oh my God! This is wonderful."

Todd looked from his daughter to Blair and shook his head.  He knew all serious talk was now out the window as Blair and Starr sat down and started going over the preparations for the Wedding. He sat down next to Hope and began playing with his granddaughter, showing her how to have fun making rhythms, all the while listening to his girls making plans

Todd had spent the better part of Thursday morning finishing up the final plans for the ceremony. Blair had wanted a quiet wedding in the penthouse but Todd had convinced her that he knew of a much better venue and had asked her to trust him to take care of that part of the plan. He assured her, that with Samuel's help, he could give her a wedding that she would remember for a lifetime. After Blair and Starr went in search of the perfect wedding attire, Todd contacted Ray.

"Ray, Samuel here, are you free tomorrow evening?...Great. I'm in need of my Best Man, the wedding is set for tomorrow. Say why don't you meet me for lunch and we can discuss the wedding along with other things....That will work, see you shortly." Todd hung up the phone and headed upstairs to his room. Blair's portrait had been placed on the wall opposite the bed and Todd couldn't help remembering his relief that the painting hadn't been downstairs any longer. He had no idea how long Carlo had been in the penthouse, but he was sure Carlo had taken the opportunity to look at the other pieces of artwork that were in Samuel's studio. If Blair's picture had been downstairs it would have given Carlo the information he had come looking for. The signature on the bottom of the painting would have exposed everything.

Todd walked over to the portrait and pulled it open exposing a safe in the wall behind. From it he took a small box and opened it up. Inside nestled two rings. His mother's and the ring that Blair had made for him . He sat down and thought of all that had transpired during the time when they were first getting to know each other. There were good memories and bad over the years but for the first time he felt secure in the knowledge there were no lies or secrets left uncovered. The only thing left was love. This time he and Blair knew what was ahead and they were going to face it together. He put the rings in his pocket so he could give them to Ray and left to meet him.

The young officer was still missing and his first stop before lunch was Rodi's, he needed someplace he could talk to John that wasn't bugged. When he arrived at Rodi's he went and used the phone there to call John and alerted him the fact that they had a missing officer and the Carlo had showed up in his penthouse the previous evening. John was upset that he hadn't called the night before but Todd explained he feared if the police had showed up at his penthouse last night, it would have been a dead giveaway. "John I honestly thought Carlo had just waylaid the young officer. It wasn't until this morning and he still wasn't outside my penthouse that I realized something else might have happened. I'm sorry, Blair and the girls arrived shortly after Carlo left and my main concern last night was keeping them safe and Carlo oblivious to the knowledge that I'm Todd. As easily as Carlo accessed my home, I figured by the time I got this information to you he would be long gone anyway. He's a mastermind at eluding the police so it didn't matter if you heard about him last night or now. He came to find out if I was still Samuel and Samuel satisfied him on that count. My guess is he immediately went back to wherever he's hiding."

Todd listened to John berating him and finally jumped in when there was a pause.  " I get that you're mad.  I did what I thought was best.  Listen, I can't have obvious policemen coming to the penthouse. You need to send someone to trace the bugs that isn't recognizable as a cop. I don't know if Carlo touched anything while he was there, but you might want to send someone this afternoon who could dust for prints. Again I'm sorry about the officer, I hope you find him alive. I don't want anyone else to be caught in Carlo sights I'll do without the protection.... No, I'm serious John, if the young man who was watching me turns up dead I'll never forgive myself. It will be just one more person who's gotten trapped in Carlo's web because of me. I have to go now I'm meeting a friend for lunch, I'll be careful. I should be back at the penthouse by two. Send someone then." Todd hung up and shook his head. He knew in his heart the man who had been protecting him was probably not going to be alive. It sickened him that Carlo was still wreaking havoc, Todd didn't even know the man who had been protecting him. Now that man was probably dead, he might have had a family and everything. Todd could feel the weight of his task beginning to weigh him down again. By the time he arrived at the Palace to meet Ray, his mood was pretty bleak.

Ray was waiting when Todd arrived and could tell just by looking at him that something had happened. "Samuel sit and tell me what's going on. This morning when we talked you were all upbeat but now you're down. Talk to me."

Todd sat down and looked at Ray. "Damn it Ray, no matter how hard I try, innocent people get hurt if they're associated with me. Ever since someone tried to poison me I've had an officer assigned to protect me and now he's missing. I fear he's dead and it's because of me. If I had never come home everyone here would have been better off."

"You can't know what would have happened if you stayed away. That same officer could just as easily have gotten hurt in some other way. I know from talking to Blair that she's not sorry you came home, she's ecstatic and if you left, she'd go with you rather than remain behind. You have family here that want you here. You are not responsible for the actions of Carlo Hesser. You had no control when he took you and experimented on you, you have no control now but you're trying to get your life back and I admire you for facing what has been coming at you head on. Look, you're getting married tomorrow, you should be dwelling on that. I've talked to Larry Wolek and I know what you're facing coming up. What you're feeling right now is fear that your happiness is a mistake. It's not Todd. It's a gift, take it and be happy, you only get so many gifts like this one. Your loved ones will be there to see you and Blair tie the knot. I want you happy, my friend. It's time to realize you deserve a little happiness, I for one think you've been punished enough. Now as your Best Man what do you need done for tomorrow." Ray deftly turned the conversation towards the next day and looked to see if Todd would follow.

Todd looked at his new friend and decided that Ray was right. Everything that had happened, from the moment Mitch had taken him, had been out of his control. His decision to marry Blair was in his control, as was his choice to have the implant removed. When Starr had gotten Aplastic Anemia he had felt helpless but in the end Vicki had helped him realize he could only do what was in his power to do. He had had to step up and give support to Starr and Blair and make decisions based on the information the doctors had given him. In the end by working in the system a bone marrow donor had been found and Starr had recovered. It was time he let the police handle Carlo. He was going to be happy with Blair and if the surgery proved successful, and he had to believe he was going to make it through that, then he would know the curse was no more. He sat up straighter and called the waiter over. "Bring me a bottle of Champagne and two glasses. Ray, this is the only bachelor party I'm going to have will you join me." Ray smiled and nodded.

They discussed wedding arrangements as Todd told Ray where the wedding was to take place and gave him the times of the airplane flights that were to bring in Cassie and Andrew. Ray assured him he would pick up both and make sure they were settled and ready by tomorrow evening. Then just as Ray was to leave, Todd stopped him and held out the rings to him. "Could you hold onto these for me. They're very important to me and I feel can trust them with you."

"Thank you Todd, Don't worry I'll keep them safe till tomorrow. This is what you deserve Todd. Just go with the flow." Ray shook his hand and departed.

Todd watched his new friend and Best Man leave, then took the short walk to the Sun. After Blair had fallen asleep last night, Todd had gotten on the phone with Andrew and Cassie both. He had taken the time to remove the bugs from the living room and phone long enough to make the calls. To say they had been surprised to receive a call from Blair's fiance had been an understatement, but he had told them that he had only Blair's interest at heart and knew that she would want them as part of her wedding. Cassie had agreed the easiest because she loved her cousin and had always wanted her to be happy. Todd had introduced himself to her as Samuel and told her how he and Blair had met and had subsequently fallen in love. He confessed to Cassie that he looked like Blair's ex-husband and he didn't want her to be shocked when she saw him, but he also wanted her to know the Blair was marrying him for himself not because of his looks. Although not quite convinced Cassie had agreed to make the trip and had gotten all the details for the flight from him.

Andrew had been a harder sell and finally, Todd had come clean and told Andrew the truth. Andrew had been flabbergasted and almost ready to hang up until Todd had given him details of the conversation he and Andrew had had after Todd had lost his son. Their subsequent conversation had taken quite a while as Todd caught Andrew up on what had transpired since 2003. He explained how Blair had helped him regain his memory in Paris and how they had confessed to each other that their love was unbreakable. He wanted Andrew to once more preside over his last wedding to Blair and he prayed Andrew believed him but he would understand if Andrew didn't. He had waited on pins and needles for the reverend's answer and had thanked God when Andrew had said he would do it. He had then given Andrew his plane instructions and told him Samuel's Best Man would be picking him up the next day, then they had hung up. Todd had replaced all the bugs properly and gone to bed happy knowing he was one step closer to making this wedding special for Blair.

Todd entered The Sun lobby and made his way to the executive office and arriving found Kelly busy at work. She acknowledged him with a nod and went back to the problem she was working on. He waited patiently and when she had completed her task she gave him her attention. "Samuel, to what do I owe this visit. There hasn't been a report today from our undercover reporter but he assures me he's getting more jobs that are surrounding the secret labs. He believes it's only a matter of time before he has their full trust."

"Kelly that's excellent, but promise me you'll tell him to be careful, Carlo and his partners are ruthless. If they find out about him, they'll kill him. But that's not the reason I'm here. I came to invite you to a wedding. Blair and I are getting married tomorrow evening and I would like you to be there for her. It will be a small intimate affair but I know she would want you there. What do you say?" asked Todd
      
Kelly knew the whole story and she had been witness to Todd's change when he had come to her and told her to pull the reporter because he wanted no one else hurt on his behalf. She had also had long talks with Blair and learned more about everything Todd had been going through since getting back. Todd and Blair belonged together and who was she to stand in their way. She was wanting for herself what she had seen between these two. She had seen his expression when Blair was with him and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Todd loved Blair more than anything. " Samuel, of course I'll be there. Blair deserves to be happy and you make her happy. Just tell me where and when."

"Thank you Kelly, here is what you need to know but don't tell Blair, it's a surprise." Todd handed her the directions to the house and the time to be there. He smiled and Kelly got a glimpse of the Todd Blair loved. Any man who could put his feelings behind his smile like Todd had done was a man to hang on to.

Todd left. He had one more stop to make before going back to the penthouse, to meet the forensic expert. A short time later he arrived at Llanfair.  He wasn't even sure if Vicki was home, but he knocked at the door. The door opened and Jessica stood in front of him. He didn't know who was more stunned. "Jessica?" He hadn't known Jessica was back home, but he hadn't been in the loop much with everything happening lately. He knew she was at a loss for words so he said, "May I come in."

Jessica had opened the door and then froze. It was like looking at a ghost. He looked the same but different. She was trying to take in if he was real and then he spoke. That tone and the way he said her name brought back so many memories. Funny though, she had never known him to be so polite. She stood back and he entered.

Todd walked in and look at his niece. The last time they had seen each other he had tried to kill her father and she had stopped him. It wasn't long after that Mitch had captured him and entombed him with Victor. He didn't blame his niece for her father, it just was sad that that was the last memory he had of her. " I'm sorry I didn't know you had returned home. Vicki didn't tell me when I saw her the other day in the hospital. How are you Jessica? Your mother told me a little bit about what has happened to you recently. Are you doing alright now?"

Jessica was still having trouble believing her eyes and ears. "You can't be him. I don't understand has the world turned upside down. My Uncle Todd doesn't look like you any longer. But you sound just like him. Am I going crazy?" She backed away from him terrified she was seeing things. She turned away and closed her eyes, praying when she turned back he would be gone. "Please God, I'm me not Tess, why is this happening? Mom never told me hallucinations were part of DID.  Why am I beginning to see things?"

Todd was heartbroken for her, she was so fragile she thought he wasn't real. He walked up to her and carefully put his hands on her shoulders. "Jessica, you're not going crazy. I'm a very real person and I know this is going to be hard for you to understand, but I'm the same man who once carried you up a side of the mountain to get you help. I'm the same man who left his pet parrot Moose with you, so he could take his wife away for a trip and I'm the same man you prevented from killing your father not once, but twice." He turned her around to face him. "Jessica look at me. I know you've been through some really traumatic stuff recently with your fiance and your son. I've been unable to see you because of circumstances that have required me to keep a very low profile since returning. Only a select few are even aware of my presence in this town. When your mother informed me of your problems, I was stunned and then you disappeared. I came here looking for Vicki, if my presence is disturbing or is going to endanger your sanity I understand and will leave." He let her go and backed away giving her room to flee if she chose to.

Jessica had felt his hands on her shoulders and had panicked for a moment until she heard what he was saying. As she listened, she recalled most of the events he was describing. She had been passed out when he had carried her up the mountain and gotten her to the hospital, but she remembered clear as a bell the last time she had seen him, standing holding a gun on Mitch prepared to kill him to get back all that her father had taken from them. She recalled talking him out of it because she didn't want him to end up in jail and she remembered how he had given in to her and had walked away totally dejected. She looked at the man who had now backed away afraid he was only going to cause her more pain, and she saw that same look of dejection on his face that she had seen on his face all those years ago. She walked up to him and touched the second scar. "How?"

"It was the last thing your father gave me before leaving me by the side of the road." Said Todd as he watched her face. He saw her flinch and then she did something so totally unexpected.

She kissed his cheek and said "I'm sorry. You were only trying to protect us all. I'm still unsure of so much but not about who you are. If you are you, then who has been you all this time?"

Todd smiled and said, "That's the sixty-four thousand dollar question. We're still trying to figure that out. Are you sure you're okay Jessica? I know this is a shock."

Jessica thought about that for a moment and realized she was going to be okay. Now that the initial shock of seeing him for the first time was past, she actually was glad because she had weathered it and she was still Jessica. It didn't matter that there was another man out there who claimed to be her uncle because right here, right now, the man she loved and cared about was standing in front of her. " You know what Todd, this is one shock that I think I can handle. But you came looking for Mom, she called just a few minutes before you rang the bell and said she was on her way home."

She took his arm and led him into the library where they sat down. "Feel like telling me your story? I'm dying to know how all this happened and believe me when I say I can use a diversion right now. If you know about my alter and Brody and Ryder than you can understand why I want to talk about anything but that." Todd nodded and began telling her his story. Jessica sat there totally engrossed by the tale that unfolded before her. She was horrified when she heard what her father had done, and then saddened when she found out her uncle had lost eight years of his life but as he was talking about Samuel she stopped and took a good look at her uncle. He was talking about Samuel as if he was a real person not just an identity. "Todd, you make Samuel sound so real, like the time you pretended to have alters like Mom, you really do get into your roles don't you." said Jessica

At her comment Todd looked at her and was trying to decide if she needed to know about the reality of Samuel and the others. She had a lot on her plate, was now the time to tell her that he had DID. Before he had to make that decision the baby monitor went off and Jessica jumped up. "Wait here, I have someone I want you to meet. " She ran out of the room and headed upstairs.

Todd was waiting patiently when he heard a little girl's voice coming down the stairs. Jessica entered the room with a beautiful little girl and her son in her arms. She looked so happy at that moment that Samuel made a comment to him about doing a painting of her and he found himself agreeing.

"Todd, I'd like you to meet my daughter Bree and her brother Ryder." Jessica watched with pride as Todd dropped down to eye level to greet his great niece. Bree, who was usually shy with strangers, was immediately taken by Todd's easy manner with her and before Jessica knew it, Todd had Bree laughing and telling him all about herself.

Vicki entered the house and heard laughter coming from the library. She recognized her granddaughter's laugh and walked in to see her brother down on all fours playing with Bree as Jessica sat there smiling and keeping Ryder happy.


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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Memories Unlocked #17



Noticing that Miguela had yet to arrive, Todd decided to see if the physical therapy room was empty.  He rolled into the room and didn’t see anyone and breathed a sigh of relief.  For once maybe he could try a piece of equipment without anyone’s help.  Todd moved to the weight bench.  He went and picked up several weights and put them on the bar, locking them in place.  “See Todd, you can do this on your own.  Now all you have to do is slide onto the bench and you’ll be set.”  He maneuvered his chair as close to the bench as he could get it.  Crossing his arms, he grasped the weight bar and using his arms he pulled himself out of his chair, twisting his upper body onto the bench.   He paused  to catch his breath. Todd smiled to himself. He had been practicing that move for a couple of days but it was the first time he had done it alone. “Now finish the job, Todd.”  He reached and lifted his legs one at a time until they were straight out in front of him, then laid down and started lifting the bar. Todd was on his twentieth lift when his therapist walked into the room.  


The therapist frowned and headed to stop his patient, who was clearly struggling with the last couple of lifts. “Whoa, Todd, I think you’ve had enough.“ he helped place the bar back in it’s cradle as Todd closed his eyes and let his arms drop by his side.  “What on earth possessed you to workout by yourself?  You know hospital policy says your therapist is supposed to be with you.  If you had lost your grip, you could have killed yourself.”


Todd’s eyes opened and he looked up at the man and smiled. “Hey, Joe, don’t I at least get an atta-boy for getting myself on this contraption and setting up my own weights.”


Joe’s frown deepened as he saw just how heavy the weights were that Todd had been lifting.  “You must be crazy.  That’s twice the amount you’ve been working with.  Your back muscles aren’t ready for that kind of exercise yet, even if your arms are.” He reached down and offered Todd a hand, helping him back into a sitting position and proceeded to  massage Todd’s arm muscles.  “Look I know you’re the type of guy that hates taking it so slowly, but you need to pace yourself.  What prompted this sudden desire to work out?”


“I’m leaving today.  I’ve already let the administrator know, and I figured I might as well get in one more session.  It will probably be my last for a long time.”


“I see.  Does your doctor know you’re quitting therapy?  I mean, even if you quit your job, you can still come here.”


Todd rubbed his arms and reached out for his chair. “I could, but I’m leaving Guam.  I made the decision this morning and I have a flight out this evening, thanks to Lucy’s father, the Colonel.”  Joe held the chair perfectly still so Todd could lift himself back over. Todd was just letting himself down into the chair when his right leg dropped off the weight bench. It landed with a thud. “Ahh!” Todd  exclaimed as he felt it all the way up his spine.


Joe reacted instantly. “Todd, what is it? Is it your back?” Joe immediately reached for Todd’s other leg to prevent it from falling too.


Todd could only stare at the foot resting on the floor. He had not only felt it in his back, the pain had radiated up from the heel.  He reached down rubbing the back of his leg.  “Joe, It’s not my back.  I think I felt my heel hit the ground.”


Joe lowered Todd’s other leg and then removed the shoe on the foot Todd had dropped. He pulled a small tool out of his pocket and ran its edge along the sole and sure enough the foot reacted.


Todd was excited, for the first time in months he actually felt something.  It was faint but it was there.  “I felt that, I’m not imagining it.”


Joe looked up and smiled.  “You’re not imagining it, there is a response.  Todd, I want you to try and move your toes.”


Todd looked at his foot and concentrated.  Nothing was happening. “I don’t understand.  I can feel your hand and that thing, why can’t I move anything?”


“Relax Todd, let me check your other foot.  We’ll try again after I do that.”  Joe proceeded  to take the shoe off Todd’s other foot and duplicated his previous actions.  At first there was nothing but Joe decided to try once more and sure enough the foot responded.  He put the point of the tool on the top of Todd’s foot. “Do you feel that?”


Todd frowned, he could see the tool pressing on his foot but didn’t feel it.  “No.  How come I feel my right leg and foot but not my left?”


Joe set the foot down.  “Todd, it’s not as bad as you think.  There was a small response.   It means you might get full sensation back in both legs.  The right leg seems to have a head start that’s all.  Look, it’s not going to happen overnight, but it’s still going to happen.  What we don’t know yet is how much mobility you’ll regain.  Hey, this is good news  Are you sure I can’t talk you into delaying your trip?”


Todd hesitated. To be able to walk again was something he had all but given up on.  Then he recalled his reason for leaving.  If he stayed, his family would find him for sure  He didn’t want them to see him in a chair.  Once he had realized the picture was his family he had tried a to recall their names and had kept coming up blank.  It was as infuriating as not knowing his own last name.  “Damn it!” Todd blurted out and then saw Joe’s surprised expression at the  answer to his question. “Sorry, that wasn’t meant for you.  It’s just I have a problem, and now this happened.  God, you have no idea how much this means to me.  Seriously, you think I could walk again?”


“Yes, Todd, it definitely means you could walk again.  Now try and move your toes on your right foot again.”


Todd tried again and suddenly his big toe moved. “I did it!” It was such a little movement but it meant the world to him at that moment.  His eyes teared up as he realized he was going to walk again.  Come hell or high water, he would be back on his feet.


****


Blair sat in the cab wishing it was moving faster.  The traffic was terrible and all she could do was see the time ticking away on her watch.  She couldn’t shake the feeling that Todd was going to disappear again.  If what she suspected about him was true it explained everything.  Her thoughts returned to past time in their lives when Todd had just returned from Ireland.  She had been so glad to see him but at the same time furious because he hadn’t let them know he was alive.  She remembered sitting on the floor at the end of the couch as Todd had explained.


A fisherman found me on the beach washed up.  He thought I was dead and he was only half wrong.  For days, then weeks, then months, nightmares meant that I was sleeping, pain meant that I was awake.  Lots of faces, lots of fear, hot food, hallucinations, home remedies, wild animals.  Okay, I made up the part about wild animals, but the point is, there were no credit cards, no cellular phones, not even a message in a bottle.”


She knew from his voice that day, that everything he said was true.  Now she feared that Todd’s trip on the raft had resulted into something equally horrific. There was only one thing that bothered her.  Even if he had been severely injured, Guam was not an isolated cottage on a remote Irish island.  It still didn’t make sense why he hadn’t tried to at least send a message to Starr.  The cab pulled up in front of the hospital, she paid the driver and carefully exited with Jack and waited as Starr clamored out. Eager to get inside and go to the Children’s ward. Starr took off at a run, “Starr, wait up.  We have another stop before we go to the ward.”


“But Mom, the little boy said Daddy was going to leave.  Maybe he changed his mind. Maybe he’s working.”


“Oh alright, we’ll see if he’s there.  If he’s not, the nurses might know where we can find him.”  Starr beamed. Then altogether, they entered the hospital and headed to the Children’s ward.


Blair went up to the Nurses desk.  “Excuse me, I’m looking  for Mr. Drake.  I was told he works on this ward.”


The nurse nodded.  “He works here, but I haven’t seen him yet this morning.  He usually comes in around nine o’clock to be with the children.  I’m hoping he shows up soon.  The children are still upset about losing little Lucy.  Mr. Drake knows just what to say to cheer them up.  You’re welcomed to wait or you could check with Dr. Sanchez.  She might know where to find him.”  


“I see.”  Blair tried to hide her disappointment.  She had secretly been hoping they would find him there.  Hearing Dr. Sanchez’s name reminded her of Sam Vance’s photo.  Before she could ask her next question, she heard a voice behind her.


“Um, I know you.  You’re looking for Mr. Drake aren’t you?”


Blair looked around to see a young girl about the same age as Starr.  “Why yes we are looking for him?  But I don’t understand, what did you mean when you said you know me.”  The little girl was in a robe and had the biggest brown eyes surrounded by a mass of brown curly hair.  She was obviously a patient on the Ward.


Blanca shuffled her slippered feet and looked down at the floor.  “I guess you’re why he’s leaving us.  He carries your picture around with him all the time.  I saw him looking at it once and he seemed a little sad.  Last night he told us he was going.  We told him goodbye, and then my friend died.”  She glanced at Starr,  “Are you his daughter?  You look like Lucy.”  She hugged herself. “Lucy was my best friend, but Mr. Drake showed me how Lucy is still with me.  Last night he told me just to go and look at sky at night and the first star I see is Lucy keeping an eye on me.  I’m going to miss him, but if you’re his daughter, I bet he’ll be so glad to see you.  He hasn’t had any visitors since he’s been here.”


Starr felt so sad for the little girl, she went to her and gave her a hug.  “I'm sorry you lost your friend.  We’ve been looking for my Daddy a long time, and now we’re here.  Do you know a  place he could be?”


Blanca smiled and nodded.  “You could try his room.”  She told them the number and then said goodbye.


Blair watched as the little girl joined some other children in what appeared to be an  Activity room. Her mind was in a whirl.  Todd had a picture of them all this time.  Tea was right, he had been trying to get home, but there were still some unanswered questions.


“Mommy, come on!  Let’s go check out Daddy’s room.”  Starr started pulling her mom out of the ward.


The minute they exited the ward, Blair pulled Starr to a halt. “Wait Starr, we have a room number but this isn’t a hotel. We need to find out where the room is.”  She walked over to the information desk to the volunteer working there.  It was the same woman as the day before.  “Excuse me. Do you remember us?  We were here yesterday, looking for my husband.”
The woman looked up and then smiled.  “Oh yes, you were looking for your father weren’t you, Sweetie?”  Starr nodded.


Blair brought the woman’s attention back to her.  “Well that’s just it,  We keep missing Mr. Drake and we were just told he has a room here in the hospital.  Can you tell me where to find this room?”  Blair gave her the number of the room and waited.


“Oh my, I didn’t realize Mr. Drake had a room here.  There it is.   That room number puts him on the Orthopedic Ward.  If you take that hallway over there it will take you to that Ward.  Good Luck,  I hope he’ll be able to give you the answers you are looking for regarding your dad, Sweetie.”  


Blair’s heart was beating fast.  It was no longer a  question.  The ward only confirmed her suspicions that Todd was in a wheelchair.  Just how badly had he been hurt.  They walked into the ward and followed the numbers finally arriving at the number they had been given.  The door was closed.  There was no answer when Blair knocked. so she slowly opened the door.  Her heart sunk as she looked around.  Todd wasn’t there.


“Mommy, now what are we going to do?  I want my Daddy.” Starr began to search the room. If her dad had been there he wasn’t now.  She turned towards her mother and put her fists on her hips.  “Why didn’t you believe me last night?  He’s gone and we might never find him!” Starr’s voice trembled, her eyes filling with tears.

Blair sat down in a chair, as close to tears as her daughter.  Jack started to fuss sensing her mood and she slowly patted his back. This can’t be it.  We can’t have come this far only to lose him again.   Blair straightened her back and stood back up.  “We still have one more person who might be able to help us.  If he’s not here, he couldn’t have gone very far.”  She reach into her purse and drew out her cell phone.  “Sam, change of plans.  I need you to go to the airport and see if anyone by the name of Todd Drake is on an outgoing flight.  If he is, stay there and watch for him.”  She put the phone away.  “Let’s go Starr, we have a doctor to see.”


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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Who's the Real Todd? Chapter 30

Todd was buttoning his shirt when Blair arrived. After kissing him, she put the paperwork down and took over for him. "I'm not helpless Blair," he said.


She smiled " I know but it gives me a chance to enjoy the view longer." As she buttoned the last button she asked. " Have you talked to Larry or your cardiologist yet this morning."


Todd nodded, "He said I'm out of danger for now and you know the rest, no stress, change the diet etc. I haven't talk to Larry, I'll try and reach him when I'm home. Let's get out of here."


A short time later they arrived at the penthouse and noted that power had been restored, Todd quickly went to his desk and opened his laptop he pulled up Dr McBain's information and liked what he saw. Larry was right. The young doctor had been making a name for himself in the medical community and his expertise in microsurgery had garnered respect from doctors around the world. Todd and Blair had discussed the surgery after she had returned the previous night. She had forgiven him for not telling her about the surgery and he had explained his fears about waking up with no memories once again or the possibility of not waking up at all. They knew that the surgery had to remain a secret from Carlo so they had decided the surgery would be done as part of their honeymoon. Now they waited on Larry's connections and the hope that Dr McBain could fit Todd into his very busy schedule. 

Todd picked up his phone and called the police station. "Detective McBain please. " he waited as the call was put through to John "Yes detective, Samuel Toddman here, I'm calling on behalf of my fiance to check on the status of the GiGi Morasco case. I understand Blair's son Jack was under suspicion as a possible culprit and wondered if you could tell me if the police were going to be pressing any charges..... I see, so as of right now young Jack is off the hook. Yes I agree it's an unfortunate set of circumstances. On a different subject entirely, I wonder if you could possibly meet me somewhere to discuss a security issue I'm currently looking into concerning the Sun .... Yes I believe that would work, shall we say 4:30 this afternoon. Excellent, I will see you then."


He had his meeting with John set.   He felt the need to get out of the penthouse and figured it wouldn't alert Carlo. Todd started to head up the stairs and noticed that Tea's picture was crooked on the wall, something was off. Todd's paranoid senses went off. Someone had been in the penthouse while the power had been off. He walked over to the picture, he carefully felt around the back of the frame until he felt it. He straightened the picture leaving the bug in place, for now he just needed to find out how many more uninvited guests he had. After more than an hour of searching he had found bugs in every room in the house. In anger he destroyed the bugs in Hope's and Starr's rooms, furious that Carlo had sent someone to invade his home. They would all need to be extra careful until Todd could get Bo and his team over to debug the house, one slip of the tongue would let Carlo know he had his memory back.


The phone rang and Todd realized that he had no way to alert Larry about the bugs. "Samuel Toddman here. May I ask who's calling. Ah Dr. Wolek yes my cousin told me about you... I appreciate your interest ... No, I've had no recurrences today. You say there is an operation that might improve my chances to weather another attack... Yes I would be very interested . I really would like to be able to enjoy my upcoming marriage to Ms. Cramer. Thank you so much for your interest and information. I will certainly look into it. I hope we get a chance to meet perhaps you could join my fiance and me for dinner say a couple nights from now. You're free, that would be delightful. Shall we say the Palace Restaurant? We'll see you then." Todd was amazed at how quickly Larry had realized that Todd was being overheard and had gone along with the chat. They had managed to set up a dinner where they could chat and exchange the dates and times of the upcoming surgery without letting Carlo in on the name of the doctor and the type of surgery he'd be performing.


Todd fixed himself a late lunch and sat down to write a note to leave for Starr and Blair telling them about the "Bugs" around the house and to make sure they talked about him as Samuel until they could be eradicated. Then he headed out, he had a couple of errands he needed to run before meeting John.


Todd had been thinking about it ever since Blair had dropped him off at home, the drive up there didn't take long and he wondered if his memory was accurate. He pulled the papers out from under the seat where Samuel had left them after coming back from Seattle. He pulled off the road and started down the driveway stretching out in front of him, he rolled to a stop gazing at it. His heart lurched. It was as stunning as he had imagined it would be. Before leaving the country Samuel had come across the papers in safe deposit box and had fallen in love with the plans. For some unknown reason, Samuel had set the plan in motion. He had hired the contractors and had paid for the construction trusting the work to a man who's name had been attached to the papers. Todd had designed it with Blair in mind all those years ago. Then Jack had developed Aplastic Anemia and his lie had torn them apart. He had put the plans away in the box along with Samuel's ID after returning from the island. Now he saw his vision come to life. It was to be his wedding surprise for Blair and he stopped the car to go see if everything inside was as stunning as the outside.


Todd walked to the front doors admiring the stain glass windows that flanked the carved doors. Two beautiful black dragons stood guard on either side ready to protect the inhabitants from all danger. He pulled the chain from  around his neck and used the key to open the doors. Stepping into the entrance way he was blown away by the elegance of deep rich wood and stone that greeted him. Two curving stairways arched like two halves of a heart uniting at the top framing the entrance to the heart of the home, and the room beyond was breathtaking as the view to the valley spread out in front of him as windows from floor to ceiling filled the opposite wall. Todd walked to the windows and knew this was where the ceremony would take place. It was fitting, two halves of the same heart finally united and made whole.


Todd walked out the doors admiring the grounds around his home. The wilderness blended with the strong lines and natural elements of stone and wood that comprised the exterior of the structure. Todd locked the door and walked to his car taking another look before heading back down the mountain. "Thank you Samuel. I never thought I would see it built. I figured it was just another dream of mine that would never come true. I don't know what prompted you to complete it but I'm grateful that you did,"


"I did it as much for myself as I did it for you Todd. The artist in me fell in love with your vision. I think I contracted it before I left because I too had your dream in my head and I wanted something to believe in and have waiting for me if I ever came home. It's funny that even though I had no memory of where this place was, it didn't matter, I knew it was mine and I hoped that someday I would come home to it, little did I know that one day the woman you designed this for would show up on my doorstep and do just that, bring me home." Samuel replied. " Knowing what I know now, it's obvious to me that Blair holds the other end to our heartstring and we'll always find a way back to her."
  
Todd acknowledged that and headed back into town for his meeting with John.  He pulled into the parking lot at Rodi's and made his way inside, stopping at the bar to get a drink and then he joined John at his table. "Thanks for meeting me here." he said.


John replied. "Not a problem but you were a little cryptic on the phone.  What's up?"


Todd looked at John and said. "My penthouse has a bug problem if you get my drift it happened recently so it's not safe to talk freely there at the moment. Anything you guys can do to eradicate it will be appreciated."


John's ears had perked up when he realized what Todd was telling him. "How bad is it? "


"They bugged every room in the house including my daughter's and granddaughter's but those bugs are no longer operating, I'm afraid I lost my temper when I realized those bastards had violated Starr's and Hope's rooms. I left the rest alone because I wanted to talk to you and find out if any of them could be traced back to who's listening in. Have we had any more news on Kipling's residence and if he has any house guests?" asked Todd


"It's slow going on that front, Samuel, but the activity concerning the ambulances has been noticed and we've been trying to find out where a couple of them went after leaving Kipling's house. As to your bug problem I'll call in a favor with somebody at the bureau that might be able to trace the signal then we can exterminate the problem.  I had a call from your shadow yesterday who told me you had another heart attack. How are you doing? Are you sure you're up to pursuing this thing with Hesser and Kipling?" John took a sip of his beer and checked out the man sitting opposite him. "You look like this is taking it's toll, why don't you just let us take it from here."


"I can't do that, John, there's been another development. I have proof that those guys tampered with me and very likely Manning in a new diabolical way. They inserted something into my brain. I need to get it removed before it removes me. In fact I'm hoping your brother might be able to help me on that front. Blair and I are meeting with Dr. Larry Wolek later to discuss the dates for that surgery. I'm impressed John, your brother has built up quite a reputation in such a short amount of time. Do you think he can be trusted to keep this whole thing under his hat? I need to get my hands on that implant, it's the tangible proof we need to bring these guys down." Todd sat back and took a sip of his beer letting his words sink in.


Hearing his brother being mentioned made John sit up and look intently at Todd. "If you're seeing my brother this is serious, Samuel. I'm not bragging when I say he's good but he usually takes on the difficult surgeries other surgeons wouldn't attempt. I will tell you this, if this is that serious you can count on him to tell no one. Is Blair aware of this new wrinkle and just how dangerous it is?"


At first, Todd was surprised by such a personal question coming from John and then he remembered Blair telling him she had been married to John for a short time, it was obvious that John still had feelings where Blair was concerned and he was looking out for her. "Yes, John, Blair has been fully informed of my circumstances. You are aware that we're getting married, It wouldn't be fair to marry and leave her in the dark about this. In fact Blair will become Mrs. Samuel Toddman in the near future. We'll send you an announcement." Todd was getting ready to leave, then he remembered another question he needed to ask. "Did you find out any more about Christian?"


John shook his head no then said, "He's been behaving himself but we did find out he wasn't working at Capricorn the night the two assailants were killed and we've gotten his telephone records and he did receive several calls from the Cayman Islands which is where you told me Carlo was picked up. He's now being watched as a person of interest but that's all we can do unless another attempt is made against Manning or you." John leaned forward and said "Don't lose your shadow, Samuel. He's probably the only thing that's keeping Carlo from making another try for you, He doesn't trust what he's heard that's why he ordered the bugging of your home. I'll get on that problem immediately but you, Starr, and Blair need to be extra careful to talk and act like you're Samuel until the situation is resolved. One other thing, I'm not done with Jack yet. Samuel, I know he's your son but he committed a crime. I'm going to find another way to prove his involvement in Gigi's death. I hope you and Blair don't fight me on this too."


Todd had been waiting for this conversation but he also had been avoiding it. He frowned at John's slight threat but he shook off his irritation and grimaced saying, "You probably won't believe this but I'm actually praying you do find a way to tie him into it, John. Blair and I have talked and we feel the only way to save Jack is to find a way for him to be punished for his deed. My hands are tied because legally I'm just a cousin and the man his mom is marrying. I can't claim my parental rights, but you have my support. What my son did was unintentional but still criminal and if he doesn't pay for it now, I fear I'll lose him in the future when he does something else and it is intentional."


John sat there stunned. He had heard stories of the shenanigans that Todd Manning had perpetrated over the years to stay out of jail and now he was sitting here saying he wanted his son to face up to his crime and take the punishment. This wasn't the Todd Manning he expected, in fact, so far this man had surprised him at every turn. He was actually beginning to like the guy. John remembered a time when Blair had tried to explain her attraction to Todd Manning and he had had all sorts of trouble understanding how she could be taken in constantly by the man they all called Todd Manning. But this man had a different side to him than the Manning John knew, Samuel had a conscience and he had learned from his mistakes. Manning had been executed and still had remained the same arrogant amoral bastard to this day. The two men were, in fact, very different.
  
Samuel said one more thing to John before leaving. "Jack's not a harden criminal yet and he's not the one currently pulling strings for his freedom, that's Manning. Jack is remorseful, I've seen it but he's scared, so he's going to cling to the freedom his father has bought for him. I'll do what I can to get him to come forward on his own but I can make no promises. But if you find the evidence needed to bring him down before I can do that, I'm asking for your help to keep the penalty from being too severe. I realize I'm asking something of you that you might not be able to give, but as his father I have to make the attempt."


"Samuel I can't make any promises but I will consider everything you've just told me." replied John meeting Todd's eyes directly.


Todd had always been able to read people and he knew that John was a straight arrow and he could count on John to at least think about things. "I accept that, thanks for at least considering," Todd stood up held out his hand to the man across the table. He couldn't remember the last time he had offered his handshake to anyone but he found himself wanting to shake John's hand, he felt they had come to an understanding today and he wanted John to know it.


John reached across, shaking Samuel's hand as they sealed their agreement.


Todd walked out into the sun and reached for his sunglasses. Ever since the implant had been triggered, his head constantly throbbed like a perpetual hangover. He sat in his car for a minute thinking of the conversation he had just had. He never would have thought he could actually work with a policeman, He respected Bo's integrity but there had been times when Bo's Dudley Do Right mentality had grated on every nerve Todd had.  John was the exact opposite. Like recognized like, and from the moment he had met John, Todd had known John would have his back.  He also realized John understood shades of grey and it was that fact that Todd was able identify with. John was a rogue and Todd was comfortable with rogues.


The house was quiet when he arrived back home and then Todd realized he hadn't seen his Shadow at his usual place in the hallway. He paused in the doorway and saw him standing facing Samuel's gallery. Todd recognized him instantly, but he was supposed to be Samuel so he inquired, "Pardon Me, may I help you with something. I apologize, I wasn't aware that my fiance had arranged any meetings for today. I hope you haven't been waiting too long. My name is Samuel Toddman."


"No apologies necessary Mr. Toddman. I assure you this was a totally unplanned visit. I've been an admirer of yours for some time now, but I must say the three portraits you have on your wall are magnificent. When I heard you had returned to the states after your many years abroad I was stunned that you had taken up residence in my old stomping grounds. But how remiss of me. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Carlo Hesser." Carlo turned and faced him. "I have the honor to own a number of your beautiful paintings, but alas right now I'm unable view them the way I used to. I was recently in touch with a mutual friend of ours, Monsieur Tomas sends his regards. He was telling me he has another of your portraits for sale. I believe he called it Sunset Memory. I must admit your perceptions of the lovely Blair Cramer are truly stunning."


Todd gestured to the couch and Carlo took a seat. Todd found his hand shaking a little bit as he set down the house plans and moved to take a seat opposite Hesser. As soon as he sat down he made a quick excuse. "Mr. Hesser, it is an honor to meet one of my patrons. If you'll pardon me while I catch my breath. I'm just home from the hospital. If you give me a moment. " Todd closed his eyes and immediately thought 'Samuel I need you now, Hesser is here but I swear if you don't take over I'll give us away.'


'I'm here Todd, rest and watch.'


Samuel opened his eyes and looked at the man patiently waiting and recognized the man he had seen several times with Dr. Kipling. "Like I said Mr. Hesser I can't tell you how pleased I am to make your acquaintance, but I'm curious. To what do I owe this visit? I'm also very curious how you know my beautiful fiance."


Carlo smiled and said "I've known your fiance for quite a long time. Like I said, Llanview used to be my home, in fact I used to own this penthouse.  But forgive me, I did have a reason for coming today. I heard some dreadful news regarding our friend Tomas. It seems he had a unfortunate accident one evening recently when leaving his studio. I was told it was quite serious but that Tomas is still alive. His assistant Simone informed me that he had ordered the rest of your paintings were to be delivered to you. So I've come with hat in hand to beg you to allow me to purchase the portrait that Tomas had up for sale. Barring that I was hoping to engage you to paint a portrait from a picture I had taken long ago." Carlo reached into his pocket.


Samuel held his breath, knowing at the moment he was at Carlo's mercy if he had a gun but Carlo pulled a picture from his pocket. Samuel accepted the picture and felt Todd's anger begin to surface. The picture had been taken the night Blair had confessed sleeping with Patrick and confessing her undying love to Todd only to have Carlo expose Todd as the person who had kidnapped Starr. Samuel kept a rein on the anger rolling through him knowing it was a good thing Todd wasn't out. He knew Carlo was trying to find out if he was Todd and he wouldn't give him the satisfaction. Samuel looked at the picture and remembered that night as Todd had looked down on her while she sang to him. "She is indeed lovely my fiance, perhaps you could tell me where you got this picture of her."


The disappointment in Carlo's voice could be heard as he commented. "I had the pleasure of attending an event that your fiance and her husband threw many years ago. I always liked that picture and wondered if you would consider my request and make me a portrait of it." Carlo had been certain the picture would expose Todd but Samuel had no memory of the event or what had transpired. It appeared Vega and his other spies were correct. Samuel Toddman had no idea he was the real Todd Manning. he waited to see if Samuel would agree to painting the portrait, in reality he missed his other paintings and he truly did admire Samuel's style and his subject.


Samuel hated the thought of selling even one more piece of art to Hesser but he also didn't want to spoil the plans already in the works for bringing down this man. He was very dangerous, Samuel had gotten the distinct impression that Carlo had been giving him a warning when he had mentioned Tomas's accident. Samuel knew he'd be checking on his friend the minute Carlo departed. "Mr. Hesser since you brought me the news of my friend and you've been a lover of my artwork the least I can do is paint this portrait for you. I must ask you to give me a little time to paint it as I'm getting married shortly and will be going on my honeymoon. Is there some way for me to let you know when the portrait is completed?" Samuel inquired. He really didn't hold out much hope that Carlo would give him any working address but he figured it was natural to ask.


"I'm afraid I'm currently in flux Mr.Toddman but I'll be in touch. I'll let you know where it can be delivered once I've settled someplace.  Will that be sufficient?" asked Carlo being evasive.


"Most assuredly Mr Hesser, just give me several weeks to get settled back into a routine after the wedding. I'm assuming you want this portrait in oils like the others you own.  It will take some time to dry properly so we can't rush it. Let's say you check back with me in under a month. It should be ready then." Samuel looked at Carlo trying to smile naturally but he knew the smile didn't reach his eyes, in reality there was nothing he wanted more than to let Todd or Pete have their way with this man. "Excuse me but I've been a bad host.  Could I get you a drink, Mr. Hesser." Samuel started to rise hoping Carlo would accept but pretty sure he would decline. He wasn't wrong.


Carlo arose from the couch and said. "I'm afraid I'll have to take a rain check on that Mr. Toddman. My ride is probably waiting for me as we speak but I will be in touch about the painting and please accept my congratulations on your upcoming wedding. I hope you and Ms. Cramer have a long and happy marriage. Don't get up I'll see myself out." Carlo departed and disappeared down the exit stairs before anyone saw him.

Samuel leaned back in the chair and looking at the picture said, "Mr Hesser, you'll be in hell before you ever get your hands on this particular portrait."


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