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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 13

Chapter 13

         He was walking in the park. It was muggy out. It was over and he felt so alone. He had been searching for quite a while and had given up hope Then he came upon her and it looked like she had been crying. He couldn’t believe his eyes. She was really quite beautiful all in white. “My God, You’re okay!”

         She looked up. There were tears in her eyes. “Oh, I hoped you would come. No, I’m not okay. How could you do this to me?” She swiveled on the park bench turning away from him.

        “Whoa, what did I do?” He hated when she was upset with him. He wanted to go to her. He needed to feel her close to him, but something was stopping him.

         “You went off and left me again. I don’t understand why you do that? I thought you loved me?”

           “But I do. Don’t you see, I’m not good for you. You got hurt because of me. I never wanted you to get hurt.” Why was she doing this to him? She had ended up in the line of fire because of him. Couldn’t she see that?

              He was being deliberately obtuse. She turned back to him, “Do you even hear yourself? You don’t want me to get hurt, so you leave, but that is what hurts me the most. I fell in love with you, all of you, the good and the bad. I knew what I was getting into. When are you going to realize I need you desperately? You complete me.”

             Unable to stop himself, he sat down next to her on the bench. The park was immaculate. He had never seen it so clean. It was strange and peaceful. There was something about her that always made him feel calm. He had been in such turmoil when he thought she was lost to him and now sitting next to her suddenly filled him with such joy. He looked into her eyes still sparkling with tears. “I’m not worth it, you know. I destroy everyone I love. Without me, you can be happy and find someone who’ll take care of you instead of hurt you.”

            She reached and touched his face, “It doesn’t work that way for me. I can’t love them the way I love you and it always ends. You’re the only man I want. If I can’t have you, I might as well die.”

            The alarms were going off. “We’re losing him! Raise it to 200. Clear...” the monitor showed a flat line. “Again!”

            He gripped her arms. “Don’t you ever say that. You have to keep living. If you were to die it would be all over for me. I can live with this emptiness as long as I know you’re around.” He hugged her to him, afraid she would get up and leave before he could make her understand.

           She had gotten the response she wanted and she nestled deeper into his arms. “Your life doesn’t need to be empty. Just stay with me and we’ll both be complete. I love you, Todd, totally and always. Don’t leave me. I’m here, you just need to come take me.” She put her hand over his heart and he felt a warmth spread through him. She stood up to leave but held out her hand. “Come on, it’s time to go.”

          “Put it at 250... Clear!...” Still no response.

          “I don’t understand. Go where?”

            “Don’t worry. It’s where you want to go, I promise you. You said you wanted what was best for me. Come with me.”

            He wanted that warmth, he needed it to exist. He reached for her hand and the warmth surged through him, enveloping him in her love.

            They were standing in a clearing. Their home stood beautifully bathed in a golden sunrise. “You built that for me. Can you feel the love that radiates from it? You poured your love for me into it. I felt it the first moment I saw it. It’s a strong place built by a strong man. You always underestimate your worth. You’re a survivor and I know the real man you hide from the world. You don’t have to hide from me. Love is waiting for us through those doors. Will you come home and let me prove it to you “ She smiled at him pulling him toward their home.

          He took steps to follow her, it was all he ever really wanted, her and a home.
“Raise it to 300.     Clear!....” suddenly they heard a beat. “Okay, we got him back.” The doctor checked the stats. The heartbeat was getting stronger, but they knew it was touch and go with him. “Stay with him, I’ll talk to his family.” The doctor looked at his patient. The man was a bloody miracle. By rights, he should have been dead several times over but for some reason, he refused to give up. The doctor had been sure he was going to have to finally give his family some bad news, but the man had surprised them all again.

          They were waiting anxiously as he came out the door. “We got him back. I know all of you want to go into him, but I’m going to keep it to only two at a time. His condition is still critical and we aren’t sure what brought on this latest episode.”

          The nurse was trying to make her patient more comfortable when she noticed the tears. “Mr. Lord, can you hear me?”

         Everything was so foggy. He had taken Blair’s hand and then she had disappeared. Try as he might, he couldn’t find her. Heartbroken, the tears began to fall. In the distance, he heard a voice. They seemed to be trying to reach someone. He didn’t think anyone else was around. Maybe if he could find that voice, they would help him find Blair. He headed in the direction of the voice.The monitors showed a very steady heartbeat, but his pulse was increasing, “Mr. Lord?”

         He moved his head. The nurse went to the door. “Doctor, I think he might be coming around.”

         The doctor looked over at the group. He met her eyes and said. “Come with me.” His eyes swept the rest of the group, “All of you. If he is coming around, seeing all of you might be just what he needs.”

        They followed him into the room and the Doctor went up to his patient. There were definite signs he was waking up. “Mr. Lord can you hear me? Open your eyes,” his head again moved and the doctor looked at the woman standing beside him. “Talk to him. He might respond to your voice.”

         “Hey, it’s time you woke up. I think you’ve had a long enough nap. Don’t leave me hanging here. Open your beautiful eyes.”

          The fog was lifting. Suddenly he heard it all play out in front of him. Daimler’s voice mocking him, and Blair’s declaration of love as she was taken away. He recalled getting away from Daimler and struggling to reach the gangplank knowing that John could help him rescue Blair and the rest of her family. The last thing he remembered, as the bullets ripped through him, was that Blair was gone. How could he be hearing her voice? It sounded heavenly. That had to be it. Had God actually let him into heaven? “Who are you kidding Manning? The devil is playing tricks on you. You’re dead and the devil is tormenting you.”

          “You idiot. You’re not dead.”


           “Damn straight! Do you know how long we’ve been trying to reach you? Never mind. Open your eyes, stupid. You’re keeping her waiting.”


           “Who do you think? Come on, if you don’t have the nerve, let me out.”

           "Shut up, Pete” Todd struggled to open his eyes. God, they felt so heavy. Slowly the light filtered in, he marveled at how bright it was. Then his eyes began making out some shapes but only one stood out. As he looked, the image became sharper and he saw her standing above him. Her emerald eyes were shining with tears. He reached up to make sure she was real.

           Blair’s heart soared as his eyes opened. She grabbed his hand and began kissing it and sobbing for joy at the same time.

          “Blair?” it only came out a whisper but he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He was afraid if he looked away she would disappear again.

           “It’s alright, don’t talk, save your strength. It’s me, I’m fine, we’re all fine.” She knew what was running through his mind and she wanted to put it at ease. “You’ve been gone so long. I was beginning to think you didn’t want me anymore.”

          Todd gripped her hand at those words, his eyes filling with tears again. “Never. Need you always.” He could barely get the words out. He didn’t know how she had gotten free from Daimler’s men, and it didn’t really matter. He hadn’t lost her, that was the most important thing. Holding tight to her hand, he took the chance to look away. He could see, he couldn’t believe it. There were actual colors and shapes and faces. Starr and Jack, Addie and Kym, C.J. and the kids; it was unbelievable. They were there for him.

           Vicki had tried so many times to make him feel like part of the family, but he had never been comfortable except with her and Jess. To the rest of her family, he was the black sheep they didn’t really want to acknowledge. He had been okay with that. but he had admitted to himself the envy he felt for those who were welcomed. None of that mattered anymore.

          His eyes came back Blair. “God, I love you.” His breath caught as she leaned and kissed him. He closed his eyes feeling the softness of her lips on his, his tongue escaped to part them, eagerly seeking to take all she was offering.

         “Mrs. Lord, I need to check him out.”

          His eyes flew open in a panic. “No! Don’t go!” he was almost crushing Blair’s hand.

          “Mr. Lord, you need to calm down. I won’t make her leave. I just need her to give me some room.” The doctor watched as Blair maneuvered around the head of the bed carefully, not letting go of her husband’s hand. Then he began his examination. After a few minutes, he smiled and said, “Everything is looking good. Just keep him quiet. I really would like him to have as little excitement as possible. I urge you all to keep your visit short.” The doctor and the nurse took their leave and the family moved to gather around Todd’s bed.

          They all started talking at once, and Todd just stared. He didn’t know who to answer first or even what to answer. His gaze fell on Addie and Kym. “How?”

           Blair saw who he was looking at and answered. “John, that’s how. He called for backup when you boarded the ship and then he saw Sid and his cohorts take us aboard. John and his men were ready for them when they brought us out and quickly turned the tables on them. We were watching from the dock when John yelled at you. Sid is the one who shot you. He’s dead.”

         “Gregor?” Todd looked at her, he needed to know if they caught him.

          She shook her head. “He disappeared.”

          Todd could feel a weight pressing down on him, his whole body ached. His chest felt like it had when Sid and company had gotten through with him. He couldn’t stop the wince as he moved to get a better view of everyone. Gregor was still out there somewhere and there was no telling when he might enter their lives again. But he wouldn’t worry about the man now. Starr had moved up close to the other side of him after the Doctor had left. “Hi Shorty, how’s Hope?”

         Starr smiled tremulously and touched her dad’s face. “She’s fine and misses her dragon. I’m so glad you’re finally awake. Do you think you can stay out of trouble for the rest of the year? You’re giving me gray hairs.”

        He smiled, she had always been able to wrap him around her finger. He certainly couldn’t have her turning gray before her time. “Hey, I’ll try but I’m not making promises.” He looked over at Jack who was watching him rather seriously. “Jack, are you okay?”  

        Jack gulped and nodded hastily, then ran out of the room. Todd frowned but didn’t say anything.

       “I’ll go get him, Dad,” said Starr.

        “No, let him go. I understand." he paused, catching his breath "So dry." Starr quickly got some water and held the straw as her father drank. "Thank you. You should go, too. You’ve got Hope, she needs you." he rested a moment "I’m going to be fine. Not going anywhere.”

         Starr frowned but gave him a quick kiss and promised to return with Hope.

         Todd watched her leave then looked back over at Addie and Kym. “I’m sorry, I bungled... You both got caught. I hope you’ll forgive me." he had to stop again, it was so tiring just talking. "I thought I could handle Gregor. I was wrong. I won’t underestimate him again.”

        Addie moved closer and gave him a kiss. “You did nothing wrong. Just get better, Blair needs you.” Then she walked to Blair, gave her a hug and exited the room.

       Kym joined Addy and looked at her brother-in-law. “She’s right, you know. All you’ve done since I met you, is try to help me. I was a stranger and you still came to my aid. Because of you, I’m free from Father, and I’ve met my half-sister. I’ve got a family and it’s all your doing. You take it easy and get better, I’m glad you’re back in the land of the living.”

       As Kym left, Todd wondered what was in store for all of them now. Suddenly he found himself being hugged senseless by Lily. “Oh gosh, I’m so glad you’re awake. It‘s been so long. Daddy kept telling me you would wake up but you sure took your time. We came to see you and took turns with everyone. I got a chance to have a long talk with Kym and we’re working on our issues together. Kym’s been staying at the orchard with us. It’s great. She’s discovering life on a farm is different, but she tells us she’s enjoying the adventure.” She paused to catch her breath.

         Todd smiled and said before she could start up again. “Thank you for coming and keeping watch. Thank you, too, for my kiss.”

         Lily’s eyes widened in surprise. “You felt that!’

        “I did. I’m sorry, I couldn't tell you at the time.” Lily responded to his words by giving him another quick kiss. Todd met his nephew’s eyes. “C.J. it means a lot... that you’ve been here.”

        “Best buds forever remember?” C.J. smiled at his uncle, his thoughts went to another time. “Ali, Ali out. You saved me, and you’re a hero. Best friends forever, you’ll never forget....”

        “I’ll never forget. C.J.” Todd found himself back in that room watching his little buddy leave and holding superhero. C.J. and Sarah had given him his life back, he would always owe them.

         Chase tugged at Todd’s hospital gown. “Hey, don’t forget me. I’ve been here too. I’m happy you’re back, Ali. Everyone has been pretty down because you slept so long. How did you do that? I hate staying in bed all day. You can’t have any fun if you’re asleep.”

          Todd laughed and even though it hurt he felt better. “You know what, Chase, you’re right. It’s so much easier. I think I’ll try and stay awake more....I’ve had plenty of sleep, don’t you agree?”

         “You sure have, you been asleep for over a month.”

           Todd looked in shock at Blair. “I’ve been out for a month?”

            Blair nodded.

          “Was Samuel in charge?”

           “No Todd, all of you were out. You’ve been in a coma since they brought you out of surgery. Do you remember anything about that time?”

          Todd wracked his brain. He felt a certain uneasiness because he sensed something had occurred while he was out, but whatever happened remained elusive. He wasn’t sure he wanted to search for it either. “There’s nothing I can remember, just a strange feeling." he met her eyes. God, no wonder I'm so weak. "I don’t want to go there, I awake now and I’m determined to stay awake." Todd looked back at Chase. "Chase, thank you for coming with your sister and father... hopefully I'll be up for a visit to the farm soon.”

          “You bet Ali. See you.” The boy gave Todd a thumbs up and grabbed his sister. “Come on Lily. Dad, hurry up.”

          “I’ll be right there Chase.” C.J. turned back to Todd and Blair. “You do what the doctors tell you and we’ll be back here to see you later. It’s great to see you awake. Take care of him, Blair,” and with that, he left to go after his children.

        Blair looked at Todd, he was pale from earlier but his eyes were clear and she wanted to drown in them. She sat down next to him on the bed. ”It was a shock wasn’t it, finding out how long you were gone from us. Don’t let it bother you. The doctor said you were looking good. It’s hard to imagine but just a short while ago, they were trying to restart your heart.” She put her hand on his heart, feeling it beating underneath.

         Todd covered her hand with his. Feeling her warmth radiating from her, an image of another moment flashed through his mind. She had been crying on the park bench and told him she wanted to die if he wouldn’t stay. She had touched him and he had felt such warmth, but then lost her. No! His heart lurched, no more losses. “Don’t ever leave me, Blair, I can’t . . .” his voice cracked.

         She frowned at his choice of words. “I promise to be here always. I’m through running away.” Blair stayed close and they quietly talked. She told him more about John’s rescue of her and the others.

         Her voice trailed off mid-story and Todd looked at Blair. She was staring into space. “Blair, what is it”

          She refocused on him and gave him a hug suddenly.

          "Hey what’s the matter?”

          She was laying against him clutching him tightly. “Todd, when I heard John yell, I looked up and watched those bullets hit you. Everything slowed down, it was like, a movie or something. You tumbled down the gangplank and laid there broken and bleeding. I couldn’t stop the blood. You were so pale and quiet. John kept telling me you were alive, and I could only hold you. Things became a blur of sirens and feeling you turning cold in my arms” Todd wrapped his arms around her shivering body as she recalled the night. “The doctors say you’re a miracle once again. I thank God every night because I swear you really have nine lives. You must have been a cat in your other existence. Or somebody upstairs likes you more than you realize.” she relaxed in his embrace, listening to his heartbeat.

           He hugged her in response, knowing how close he had once again come to losing it all. Maybe she was right. Someone upstairs kept giving him these second chances. How many more were they going to give him? He sure as hell wasn’t going to try to find that out anytime soon. Todd felt sleep overtaking him and although he tried to fight it, he lost and drifted off with Blair lying in his arms.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 12

Chapter 12

         A gasp went through the whole room, as all looked to see who would walk through the door. Manning had been shot down and killed only a few days earlier.  Hesser wondered if Samuel was going to walk in and claim his identity. Kipling, too, was curious if their visitor from the day before would enter.   A hush fell over the room when the newly dead Todd Manning walked into the courtroom surrounded by guards.  Pandemonium reigned for several minutes as the defense lawyers had to regroup under this new threat.  The crowd watching had started to talk and the judge quickly called the room to order.

        Jake looked around the room and spotted Tea and smiled reassuringly.   He then went up to the witness box.

         “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

           “I do”

           “State your name.”

            Jake hesitated. He looked over at Nora and she nodded. “Jacob Boudreau”

             The courtroom erupted again.

            After a few minutes with everyone talking at once, the judge brought the room under control again and turned to his prosecutor. “Counselor, would you like to explain?”

            “Yes, Your Honor.   Mr. Manning was in protective custody following the attempt on his life.   I was unaware he had petitioned the court for a legal name change.  This document just arrived Your Honor stating that Todd Manning is now legally Jacob Boudreau, but he was already on the docket to appear as Todd Manning.  With the courts’ permission, I request a change of name for my witness from Todd Manning to Jacob Boudreau.”

            “Let the document showing the official name change be entered and you may proceed with your questioning of Todd Manning now Jacob Boudreau.” The judge held up his hand silencing the defense who would have protested. “The witness stays gentlemen, only his name changed.”

            “Mr. Boudreau, for the sake of those present here, why did you petition for a name change?”

           “Because it was my real name up until 2003.  I wanted it back.”

            “Please explain.”

            “I was grabbed off the street in Philadelphia while I was there on business.  I was beaten to a pulp and found myself in a clinic when I awoke. That was when my treatments started.”

            “I see, so you couldn’t remember your name at the time you awoke?”

            “That’s just it, I told them I was Jake Boudreau, but they told me I was delusional and said the treatments would help me see the truth. They kept calling me Todd Manning and said I needed the treatments to help me regain my memories. Through a series of excruciating treatments, I began to accept that I was Todd Manning and that I had a wife and children waiting here for me to come home. I was told as long as I kept up my prescriptions and took them faithfully, I could live a relatively normal life and have no worries of a relapse.”

           “So you’re telling us, they told you, you were Todd Manning and all about his life, is that correct?  You believed you were this Manning and came here when?”

           “I arrived in town in 2003 and came into town as a man known as Walker Lawrence. I was told that would help me re-establish myself slowly back into Llanview until my wife Blair and my daughter Starr could adjust to my being alive. I then took over my life as Todd Manning.”

          “Why have you decided to change your name at this time?”

           “Because for the last eight years I’ve been living a lie. I’m not Todd Manning and never have been. I was brainwashed because of someone’s sick idea to further the cause of science and make big bucks doing it. I was a guinea pig, for lack of a better word.”

         “Do you know the man who brainwashed you?”


          “Is he here in the courtroom?”

           “That’s him sitting next to Carlo Hesser. My doctor and handler Ivan Kipling.” Jake pointed to Ivan. He got only a mild reaction from Kipling, but he hadn’t really expected any. Ivan was a cold fish and Jake could feel his anger rising. He forced himself to keep it in check.

          “Mr. Boudreau, how did you find out you had been brainwashed?”

          “The day I awoke from my coma after being shot, I met the man I had replaced.  Headaches, that had been occurring for over a year, began to get severe and I started remembering bits and pieces of my real past. The doctors discovered that I had two implants in my brain that were deteriorating.  After their removal, my real memories came flooding back including the atrocities done to me during my stay at the clinic. The first attempt on my life was their way of silencing me before I remembered. Unfortunately for the ones in charge, it, plus the most recent attempt, failed. I owe my life to the real Todd Manning.”

         “For clarity’s sake, you know that Dr. Ivan Kipling is the doctor who implanted the microchips into your brain and gave you the treatments that made you believe you were Todd Manning. Is this true?”

         “Yes, he has been my doctor for the last eight years. I went to him a little over a year ago complaining of blinding headaches and he gave me some medicine he said would take care of the pain. My wife and a doctor at the hospital discovered that what I had been taking wasn't pain pills, but some type of hallucinogenic. Those same pills put me into a coma for several months after I was shot. The memories have been returning swiftly and I remember clearly Dr. Kipling telling me the treatments were necessary for my sanity. I was told they hurt because I was trying to fight my treatments. In order to avoid the pain, I gave into the images and let them take me over. Now as memories of my real life return, I realize the damage done to so many people by the man sitting in that chair.”

        “Thank you, Mr. Boudreau, I have no further questions.”

        The defense attorney for Dr. Kilpling rose. “Mr. Boudreau, you say you recall Dr. Kipling giving you those treatments at his clinic, but then you tell us you were on mind altering drugs recently. Are you asking us to believe you have an accurate memory after your mind was tampered with? Isn’t it a fact, that your doctor’s prescription said you were taking pain pills. What makes you believe you were being given drugs instead?”

         “I believe it because I went through the withdrawal when they had to clear the drug out of my system. My pills were tested and found to be laced with a concentrated drug designed to keep one’s psyche compliant and under control but too much of it causes severe side effects. The same side effects I had begun experiencing right before I was shot. As to my mental state, I’ve been examined by several renown psychiatrists and all will attest to my sanity. There is nothing wrong with my memory about my life before I became Todd Manning. I have very clear memories of my life before, during, and after the clinic. In other words sir, I’m fine and I know who took me, who programmed me and what I’ve done these last eight years.” Jake looked directly into the eyes of the attorney and stared him down.

         The attorney knew he had made a mistake. He had tried to make Boudreau look unstable in the eyes of the jury and had only succeeded in making him look stronger. “Thank you, Mr. Boudreau. I have no more questions Your Honor”

         “You may step down Mr. Boudreau.”

          Jake got up and walked slowly back to sit down with Tea and Blair. The marshals remained standing at the back of the courtroom keeping an eye out for anyone acting suspiciously.

          Nora gathered herself. It was time for Samuel and she prayed he would hold up under cross-examination. “The prosecution calls Samuel Toddman to the stand.”

          Samuel took John’s elbow and allowed him to lead the way. He took his seat after being sworn in.

        “Mr. Toddman, what is your reason for coming here today?’

          “Carlo Hesser and Ivan Kipling experimented on a number of people to satisfy government contracts for clandestine projects. As one of their victims, I wanted to tell my story.”

          “Before we hear your story, could you tell us how you lost your sight.”

           “I was on my honeymoon when the implants in my brain flared and caused me to take a tumble while riding a horse. My doctor found the implants and removed them, but their placement resulted in my blindness. It was like adding insult to injury because I had already lost eight years of my life and my memory because of the implants. “

          “You have my sympathy. Could you tell us what you now remember? Take your time.”
          "Eight years ago I became aware, it was when Mitch Lawrence gave me this scar, after having his goons beat me near to death. My next memory was waking in extreme pain and being wheeled down a hallway. I was taken into a room and he introduced himself as my doctor and said I was to begin treatments. What ensued was horrific.” Samuel felt his pulse begin to speed up as the dull pain began to build in his head. “Todd, I’m not sure we’re going to be able to do this.” 

           “Hang in there Samuel, if the pain gets too intense, we stop. Try telling only the bare minimum maybe the implant will settle back down.”
           “Mr. Toddman, are you okay?”

           Samuel realized Nora was trying to get his attention. He took a deep breath, “I’m sorry, did you ask a question?”

           “Mr. Toddman, you stopped talking is something wrong?”

           “My apologies, I’m developing a bit of a headache. Where was I? Oh yes, the doctor. He was a cold man with silver hair and mustache, cold eyes, and his most distinguishing feature was his damn black hand. I remember feeling anxious, as well as in pain when I met him. Rather than trust him, he brought out this feeling of fear. Something I quickly learned had been spot on.” Samuel gritted his teeth as the pain once again began, he controlled his breathing trying desperately to get out the tale. “The doctor hooked me up to this machine and as I watched he pushed the lever. From that moment on the torment began.” Samuel reached for his head, no longer able to fight the pain.

           “Mr. Toddman, you are obviously in distress, can you continue?” Nora looked at Samuel worried he was going to bring on another heart attack.

           “I just need a moment,” he had broken into a sweat trying to fight the pain. "I need to get this out. The machine I was hooked up to was designed to interact with the implants they had inserted into my brain and one by one...” he gulped and again pressed his hand to his head. “It stripped me of my memories. Envision someone taking small slices of your skin and peeling it off piece by piece. That was what was going on with each treat...ahhh...” Samuel stopped once again as he dropped to his knees, the pain in his head overwhelming him.

      “Mr. Toddman!” Nora turned to the courtroom and signaled Larry to come forward. “Doctor please.”

         Larry and Michael had already gotten up and were making their way to Samuel’s side. Blair was on her feet, but Tea and Jake were keeping her back.

         Everyone in the courtroom was watching the drama unfold. Hesser and Kipling looking at each other as they realized the damage Samuel had just done to the case. Sympathy had already been given to him by half the jury members when he had taken the stand in his blind condition, this added distress was working on them even more.

        “Your honor could we have a moment while the doctors evaluate my witness.”

         “Granted counselor, but I can only allow a few minutes, if your witness is unable to continue, we will proceed without him.”

           Samuel was struggling to think, he knew there was something that would make some of the pain go away, but he couldn’t clear his thoughts. The pain was beating down on him.

           Larry quickly began checking to make sure Todd’s heart was holding up. He and Michael got Samuel back into the chair. Michael began talking quietly to Samuel who seemed oblivious to them. Michael decided to try and reach Todd. “Todd, if you can hear me, I need you to come forth. We need to know exactly what is going on. Todd!”

           Todd was as muddled as Samuel, but he heard Michael and forced his way to the surface. “Michael” he whispered. "Michael find the ring.” Todd could feel himself slipping fast.

            Realizing what Todd was trying to tell him, Michael began searching Todd‘s pockets and located the ring. He had seen the ring react with Todd’s head once before, so he carefully palmed the ring and brought it up to the back of Todd's head. Michael almost jerked his hand away as the connection between the ring and Todd’s implant sparked. Todd visibly shuddered and he took a deep breath. Larry listened to his heart as the beating returned to normal and his pulse rate slowed down.

          “Todd, you need to stop. I insist. I won’t allow you to kill yourself. You’re still recovering from your head wound, your heart is on the edge of a full-blown heart attack and the implant left inside can also take you out. Is Hesser worth your life?” Even as he asked the question, Larry knew Todd’s answer.

       “I’m staying. I’ll get through this. There isn’t much more to tell. The worst is over.” Todd raised his head and straightened his shoulders to prove he could finish his testimony.

         Larry and Michael knew the argument was over. They stood up and nodded to Nora, Michael spoke. “He wants to finish. We’ll stay here if it’s alright with the court.” He looked toward the judge, who agreed.

         Todd spoke to the courtroom. “My apologies to all, the last few months have been very trying and the attempt on my life by Christian Vega almost finished me. Samuel survived by taking off for Paris because he feared for his life even though he couldn’t figure out why. When his memory returned, he brought us home. Both he and I have struggled to get our memories of the time in the clinic straight and it is a painful process. The implants were two fold, they could extract information, but they also were designed to keep the memories hidden. If the original owner of the information attempted to remember he was incapacitated by extreme pain. The kind of pain Samuel and I just experienced. You see, it turns out not all of my implants were removed.” Todd stopped talking, he knew what was coming next.

        “Excuse me, I’m confused and I’m sure this court is too. You talk like you’re not Samuel Toddman. “

        “I’m not.”

        “You mean Samuel Toddman is the name you took when you had no memory of your real self.”

         “No, I mean Samuel is one of my alters. When I almost died at the hands of Mitch Lawrence, Samuel was born. Samuel lived for me until I recovered sufficiently to retake my life.”

          “If you’re not Samuel Toddman, then who are you?”

          “I thought that was obvious by now, I’m Todd Manning.” Todd felt relieved he could finally lay claim to his name again.

         You could have heard a pin drop at that moment. The shock factor of his announcement was palpable. Then all hell broke loose. John had just a moment to see the laser marker appear on Todd’s chest. He yelled, “Michael! Get him down.” He pulled his gun, as the shot just missed Todd, who was pushed quickly by Michael. More shots could be heard, and suddenly a woman screamed.

        Todd was being held down by Larry when the scream carried over the other sounds in the room. Tea was screaming Blair’s name. Todd’s blood ran cold. He shook loose of Larry’s hold and staggered off the stand. Silence ruled in the courtroom now except for Tea’s sobbing.

        “Blair, My God! Michael get me to her.” Todd was frantic. The crowd parted as Michael guided Todd to his wife. Larry joined them. Todd heard her moan near the floor and he dropped to his knees, he didn‘t need his sight to know it was her. Gathering her in his arms, he felt the wetness covering her blouse. “Oh god, he can’t do this to me, not again. Blair you‘ve got to hang in there. Larry’s right here.”

         “Todd, you need to let me check her. Please.” Larry was trying to get Todd to loosen his hold. With Michael and John’s help, he was able to pry Todd loose and Larry began his examination. Larry opened her blouse to get a better look at the wound. Blood was pumping out fast and Larry knew a major artery had been hit. The EMTs, on standby for Todd, came into the room and Michael and Larry went to work on Blair trying to find and clamp the bleeding, but it soon became obvious that her heart must have been nicked, too. Todd had been listening to them work and could hear Blair’s breathing getting shallower. He got still and said in a quiet voice. “Michael, give me my ring.”

          Michael had forgotten he still had it and reached into his pocket to pull it out and pressed it into Todd’s hand.

          Todd felt the stickiness of Blair’s blood on the ring from Michael’s hands. He gulped and placed the ring on his finger, then looked down at his wife as his vision cleared. His breath caught at the sight of all the blood and one look at Larry’s face told the rest of the story.

         “Todd, I’m so sorry. There’s nothing we can do.”

          Todd shook his head and gently pulled her back into his arms. “I’m sorry Blair, I should have stayed away. This is all my fault.” He struggled to cover her with her blouse and Michael handed him a towel. He draped it carefully over her, there were too many prying eyes.

          She opened her eyes and saw him looking down at her. Barely whispering, her breath getting thready, Blair spoke, “Shh, you didn’t do this.... I urged you to come home. I love you and I wanted you back in my life.“ It was a struggle to get the words out and even more of a struggle to lift her arm, but she needed to touch him one last time. “My beautiful man,” gently her fingers found his scars. “You and me, always and forever.” She closed her eyes, and her hand dropped. A surge of pain went through him as he felt her heartbeat cease. His head was pounding, and in the background, the incessant beep was getting louder. He laid her down on the floor, and through tears and rage, he looked from right to left wildly for the man responsible. With steady steps, Todd walked toward Carlo.

          Everyone was watching as Todd reached Carlo. “You did this. I warned you yesterday, I would see you pay for your crimes.” Before anyone could stop him, Todd had his hands around Carlo’s neck. The muscles in his hands spasmed and Todd’s grip became deadly. The implants that had caused everything, to begin with, were taking their own vengeance. Todd couldn’t stop his hands and didn’t want too. Pain shot through his whole body as his heart seized and he and Hesser toppled to the ground. People were yelling, but Todd was fading. He knew only one thing. Blair was dead and it looked like he would be joining her soon. He gave himself over to the pain, with nothing left to live for. He saw her moving away from him and with his dying breath, he called to her. “Blair.”

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 11

Chapter 11

        Todd stood outside the room. “You idiot!” Todd slammed his fist against the wall. He shivered. God, the man was a snake. Cold anger infused him and he envisioned putting his hands around Ivan’s neck and squeezing the life out of him. Todd hated the uneasiness the man brought out in him.  Todd’s head began to pound again, and he reached up with the ring easing the pain. Then he removed it and stowed it away. He had already had one incident with his heart and that was enough for one day. Todd began moving back toward the stairwell that would take him back to Bo’s office and a ride home.


       Todd awoke on the edge. This was it, his chance to put Carlo and Ivan away for a very long time. Pete and Samuel had both been putting in their two cents worth since he had gotten back from his visit the previous day. His anger was barely in check and Pete had been stirring the fire. It had proven to be another restless night with more images of torture bombarding him. Todd faced the mirror and saw Pete and knew he was in for another argument.

        “What’s the matter, Todd? Don’t want to admit you got a thrill yesterday? Man, you made them sweat. You were downright lethal.”

         “Shut up Pete, I don’t want to go down that path. My anger got the best of me yesterday but I’ve got it back under control, and I’ve got you there too, so back off.” Todd splashed some cold water on his face. He knew Pete was right. Damn it, get a grip, Manning. He needed to keep it under wraps today. “Samuel you need to cover this as much as possible. I realize we’ve got an impossible task ahead of us, neither one of us really wants to talk about the experiments but I think you’ll be able to let the jury have a better understanding what we went through than me.”

        “I agree, Todd, but these headaches are beginning to worry me. Is Michael going to be on hand?”

       “Samuel, no matter what happens, those implants are not going to stop me from testifying. I don’t care how bad the headaches get, I want the jury to know what Hesser and Kipling did to us. Michael and Larry both are supposed to be there, they have to testify too.”

        Blair walked in and heard Todd talking; she listened and realize he was talking to one of his own alters. It was always a little unnerving to realize he communicated with them like they were ordinary people. She moved toward the bathroom and came up behind him. She smiled and caught his eye and his expression on seeing her made her heart flutter.

        Todd met her eyes in the mirror, admiring her. She actually blushed at his gaze and he loved it. “Hi.”

        “Hi yourself, you’d better get on the ball. The cops will be here shortly to get us.”

        “What do you mean us?”

        “If you think you’re going to that trial without me, you have another think coming. I’m going to be in that courtroom giving you whatever support I can. I’m meeting Tea. We’ve already gotten permission to be there from Nora. Besides, Tea is anxious to see Jake. She’ll have just a few minutes with him before he testifies.”

         Todd started to protest as an image of Blair on Carlo’s lap with a gun to her chest popped into his head. Before he could say anything, he felt her fingers on his lips shushing him.Looking directly into her sparkling eyes he knew she wouldn’t stay away, so instead, he just drew her into a kiss.

        Blair melted into his arms, tangling her fingers into his hair, his kiss was electrifying and tingled all through her. The man radiated passion and she molded her body to his. He had been so wary of giving his heart after having it stomped on by Rebecca. Now he only gave it to people he really cared about and Blair was the lucky one. He finally released her and she felt breathless. He had gotten still and when Blair looked in his eyes she knew he had gone somewhere else again. “Todd?”

        Todd blinked coming out of his thoughts and back to Blair “I’m sorry, I’m afraid this trial is already distracting me and it hasn’t even started yet.”

        Blair nodded, “Okay get ready I’ll see you downstairs.”

        Todd watched her leave and finished what he had started. He was about ready to leave the room when Pete decided to pipe up again.

         “You can’t ignore me. You know I’m right, pansy, and if you don’t admit it, you’re doing yourself more harm than good. I’m just a piece of that anger you’ve got hidden inside you. You better start asking yourself where I came from.“

        Todd turned and walked back to the chair by the bed. He dropped into it and then took himself inside his head, enough was enough. Todd stared at Pete. “Okay, so I’m hiding from myself?”

         Todd had come to fight and Pete wasn’t sure if fighting would really get through to him. “Hell yes. Hey, I know you hate the idea. Wake up. I’m here because of something you won’t admit. You like it. The danger, the anger, it’s exciting and gets your blood pumping. Admit it. That’s the "real" you.”

        “Pete, you‘re just talking nonsense. I know I fractured because of Peter and what he did to me, but you guys are it. Why do you think there’s another me?” Todd couldn’t help himself he was getting cold just thinking about what Pete was saying.

        “Open your ears, I didn’t say another you, I said the ‘real’ you. The one who confronted Hesser and Kipling, the one who wanted to get back at Marty. You know what I’m talking about.”

       Todd bolted upright in the chair, his face ashen. “God no.” He covered his face. He had been so sure he had rid himself of it.

       "What’s the matter, Marty? We just want to party. You know you want it. Isn’t that, right? Powell locks the door.” She was beautiful and terrified. He relished the control he had over her. She was his for the taking and he intended to have her. Hell, she had thrown herself at him and then she had burned him, now he was giving her what she deserved.

        Todd uncovered his face and walked to the bathroom, his steps a little unsteady. He reached the sink and saw the reality. He couldn’t let Pete take the blame any longer for his actions. He had done it and relished it; he had terrorized Nora, too. 'That Todd' still existed. Somehow the monster had now gotten loose and if Todd didn’t find a way to trap and destroy him permanently there was no telling what 'that Todd' might be capable of. One thing was sure, his monster didn’t feel love. Todd turned from the mirror. He steeled his resolve and tried to ignore the feelings raging through him. He was scared, and he couldn’t afford the fear going into this trial. He was also petrified that the monster might make an appearance at the trial and he had to make sure that didn’t happen. The jury needed to know the harm Carlo and Kipling had done, if they even so much as caught a glimpse of 'that Todd' it could turn their sympathy toward the defendants.

         Todd made his way down to Blair and took the time to put on the vest than his jacket. When the door bell rang he was surprised to see John waiting. “Why the extra service John?”

         “Bo’s not taking any chances, We know a couple notes got out to certain parties last night after your visit. We just don’t know what was in them."

         “But you think they’re trouble for me right?”

         “We’re just not taking any chances. We need to go.”

         They got away from Dragonheart without much trouble but Todd was quiet on the drive into town. He was lost in his thoughts about his earlier talk with Pete.”

         John looked at Blair. “How’s he doing?”

         Blair shrugged, she could sense something was bothering Todd. He had been withdrawn from the moment he had descended the stairs.

         “Todd?” John waited for a response. It was obvious Todd wasn’t with them. He reached and tapped Todd “Hey Todd?”

         Todd felt the tap and registered that John was trying to get his attention. Snap out of it Todd. He focused on John. “Sorry, my mind was elsewhere. What do you need John?”

         “I wanted to tell you that Michael wants to have a quick talk with you before the trial starts. Nora insisted that one of your doctors also give you the once over too, so Larry will also be checking on you.”

        Todd frowned. “Now she’s getting ridiculous, I’m fine. Does she think I’m gonna croak on the stand or something?” Todd looked at John and Blair and saw the concern on their faces. “You all really think I’m going to have a problem. There’s no way I’m not getting up on that witness stand no matter what the doctors say. So as far as I’m concerned it’s a wasted effort to even bother checking me out.”

        “Don’t kill the messenger, Todd. I was just giving you a heads up.”

         As they pulled up to the back entrance to the courthouse Todd noticed a Prison van sitting there. Obviously, Hesser and Kipling had been brought together from the county lockup. There was a guard sitting in the van and a chill ran through Todd. He knew the face. As they started to enter the building Todd pulled John aside.

        “John, this is going to sound crazy, but I think there is a plan to break Hesser and Kipling out today.” Todd pulled John into a room and told him all about the escape attempt in his dream and the results. He told about recognizing the driver of the van from his dream and how Hesser used Blair as a shield. John listened and after delivering Todd to Michael, he left to see what he could dig up about the bailiff and the driver. If there was a chance Todd‘s dream was correct, he was going to stop it in its tracks.

         The trial started without incident and opening statements were made leading to the prosecution beginning their case. After talking to the doctors and Police officers, it was time to pull out the key witnesses against the defense.

         “Your Honor, I call Christian Vega to the stand.”

          Hesser glared as Vega took the stand, he was one of the key witnesses against him because he had put the call out to Vega to get him back under control.

          As Vega told his story of receiving a call in Paris with instructions to take out Todd Manning. He told how he waited to get Manning isolated and the opportunity arose the afternoon Manning took in a stop to talk to John McBain outside Rodi’s. “Poseidon ordered the hit. Unfortunately, McBain’s interference stopped the shot from being lethal and Manning ended up in a coma. I was ordered to bide my time and keep a watch on him. When Samuel Toddman arrived in town a couple other colleagues entered town and attempted to take out Toddman but halted when they realized Toddman wasn’t a threat. Poseidon was furious with them and ordered their hits so I obliged.”

          “Mr. Vega, you say that so nonchalantly, have you no remorse for your actions?” Nora was dismayed at the coldness Christian was displaying as he talked. and she realized he was never going to be the same man ever again.

         “I would like to say I’m sorry, but I can't. I’m having a hard time feeling anything at all. The doctors tell me it’s because of the control of the implants. If that’s sound cold there’s not much I can do about it. It’s a fact, I tried to kill Todd Manning. I feel nothing one way or the other about the act, I just did it.”

         “Mr. Vega you also attempted to kill Samuel Toddman is that correct..”


           “He’s the husband of your partner Blair Cramer, didn’t that bother you?”

           “Look, I was ordered to do a job, I did it. Blair didn’t figure into the equation.”

          “One last question Mr. Vega. Who is Poseidon?’

           “Carlo Hesser.”

          “Mr. Vega you mentioned implants.  Can you tell me where you got yours?”

          “I’ve only been able to remember a small portion of my time in Hesser’s hands following my capture by him in 2003, but I do have some memories of the Doctor who programmed me.”

          “Is he in this courtroom?”
          “Yes, He’s sitting next to Carlo Hesser. It’s the man with the black hand.”

          “Thank you, Mr. Vega.  I have no more questions, Your Honor.”

          The defense attorneys were unable to make much of a dent in Christian’s testimony because he was almost like an automaton. His answers were sharp and to the point but they couldn’t get a rise out of him. They finally gave up, they knew the jury believed him because he was so truthful. He was hiding nothing.

           Blair watched and held onto Carlotta’s hand during Christian’s whole testimony. Carlotta had started weeping quietly during the testimony because she was heartbroken. The doctors had saved Chris’s life when they had removed the implants but his soul had been destroyed. Blair prayed with every fiber of her being, that Carlo and Kipling might someday experience some of the horrors they caused. The judge took a short recess before Nora called her next witness. Blair and Carlotta were met by Marshals assigned to protect Carlotta and Blair watched as they escorted her out of the courthouse. She was going to a safe house where she would be reunited with Christian. Going down the corridor Blair went to the room where Michael, Larry, and Todd were being kept. They were deep in discussion and it appeared to be getting heated.

        “Todd, I’m just saying, it isn’t really necessary for you to go through this. Christian’s testimony was pretty damaging. Larry and I agree that you’re taking a big risk if you attempt this today. Nora informed me you almost had another heart attack yesterday just because you tried to describe some events.”

         “Nora just doesn’t want to endanger her case,” replied Todd he felt he was beginning to be ganged up on. “You both are on hand. I have confidence you won’t let me die.”

         “Todd be reasonable. If your heart acts up again we might not be able to stop the attack in time.” Larry could tell he was just wasting his words. Todd was going through with his testimony. “Blair talk some sense into your husband.”

         “I’ve long since given up trying to talk Todd into anything, Larry. This is something he needs to do, so I suggest you take all the precaution you need to make sure I don’t lose him.” Blair walked over and supported her husband giving him a quick kiss. She was rewarded with a smile. Just then, the officer guarding the room announced the court was back in session. She squeezed his hand and left to go take her place in the courtroom again.

        Larry decided to take those precautions and called the hospital and arranged for an ambulance to be sent to the courthouse, to standby, in case there was an emergency.

        Blair had just gotten settled again when Tea joined her. They looked at each other and clasped hands. The court was called back to order and Nora arose to call her next witness.

       “The prosecution calls Todd Manning to the stand.”

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Memories Unlocked #34

Chapter 34

Williams pulled up out front of the Manning building.  He exited to help Todd as Blair got in and sat down in the spacious compartment.  Todd stopped Williams and spoke to him quietly. “I need you to go back to the hospital and get the pain pills Dr. Wolek prescribed while Blair and I eat some dinner.  Remember, don’t say anything about today’s surgery to Mrs. Manning.  Get the pills and come back after you have something to eat too.” Williams nodded and pushed Todd up and in.

Todd looked across at Blair.  “So where do you want to go eat?  I’m up for anything but Chinese.  That was a favorite at the hospital.  I’m looking for something hearty.”

Blair was disappointed.  She had hoped to suggest just that and was going to try and get him to eat at the penthouse.  He had just shot that all to hell.  She wasn’t ready to take him to Rodi’s so it would have to be the Country Club.  She was frustrated.  She had been sure that The Sun would have stirred his memories but nothing had happened.  “Williams, take us to the Country Club.  They have the best steak in town.  That should satisfy your hunger for something hearty.”

Todd opened the bar.  “Would you like a drink?”  When she nodded, he pulled out the scotch and poured two glasses. Handing the glass to her, he raised his glass, “Here’s to moving ahead.”Todd drank slowly hoping the liquor would kill a little of the pain he was feeling.  He was surprised when Blair drank her’s down fast, but when she held the glass out he refilled it without saying a word.  He could tell she was still upset about his plan to move into the penthouse instead of with her and the children.

Blair murmured thanks as Todd refilled her glass and watched him take his time with his.  It wasn’t like Todd to just sip his whiskey,  He usually downed it just as fast as she did but not now.  He was absentmindedly rubbing his right leg again and his color was still off.  “Todd, maybe you shouldn’t be drinking that after all, it’s been a long time since breakfast.  I still don’t understand why Larry didn’t tell you to eat something when he was finished with his tests.  That’s the second time you’ve rubbed your leg.  Are you getting more feeling? I noticed you didn’t wear your brace today.  Is it because you feel it now?”

“I didn’t wear the brace today because I figured Dr. Wolek would want to see the leg without it.  The whole point of the visit was to see how much progress, if any, has been made.  The brace is just another crutch.  I’ll admit I’m feeling a little more in the leg, but I think it just seems sore because of all the testing, or it’s just my imagination.” Todd felt like a heel. If he told Blair the truth, she would be overjoyed and expect him to get up and walk in no time, which would mean he would begin spending more time with her and the kids.  He knew he was using the legs as an excuse to hold her off, even though he was starting to really enjoy having her around.  He was torn.  He was starting to have feelings for Blair but he wanted to have his memory back too.  Even if he could walk, he still would be incomplete without all his memories.

They arrived at the Country Club and soon found a table by the terrace. “Todd, does any of this seem familiar?” Blair had been watching Todd look around as they came in and she couldn’t help hoping the place had sparked his memory.

“Oh sure, more faces looking shocked by my appearance.” Todd was being sarcastic, but he saw Blair’s face fall at his statement. “Hey, that was a joke.  I’m sorry, you were expecting more.  It’s a nice place, Blair, but it doesn’t stir anything memory wise.  I’m guessing we’re members, right?”

Blair nodded and sighed. She glanced around and still saw patrons staring at Todd.  “I’m sorry too.  You’ve been getting a lot of those looks today.  First at the Palace and now here. You’ve always been rather notorious in this town, Todd.  It’s not just your far past either.  You are the publisher of The Sun and over the years, you’ve had your fair share of headlines  After the truth came out about Jack and the events in Hawaii, most of this town thought you were dead. They’re just shocked to see you here and with me no less.”

Todd turned his head and looked directly at the people around him and they soon dropped their eyes.  “Don’t worry, it doesn’t really bother me.  I know enough about my past to realize this wasn’t going to be a picnic.”  The waiter came up and Todd ordered some more drinks.

Blair stopped the waiter before he went to get their drinks and ordered some appetizers. She looked at Todd.  “You need to get something on that stomach before you drink some more.  You don’t need a hangover your second night in town.”

Todd laughed. “You’re right, I wouldn’t want to be caught driving while intoxicated. “He pushed away from the table and showed Blair a little wheelie in his chair.  He laughed at the outrageous looks the patrons of the restaurant gave him and rolled back to the table.  “Hmm, they’ve obviously never seen a drunk wheelchair driver.”

Blair laughed. “I guess not.  When did you learn to do that?”

“We used to have wheelchair races on the ward and every now and then I would show off my skills for the children. It’s quite a feat to perform that in the older chairs they had on the island.  I had to do something to break the monotony of just rolling from one room to the next.  You should have seen some of my initial attempts.  Blanca and Lucy were usually around and we would all laughed as they got me back upright.” At the mention of Lucy, Todd was reminded of her death.  He picked up his drink and took a big gulp.  

Blair reached across the table and covered his hand.  “Todd?”

He looked at her hand and laced her fingers with his. “I’m okay.  I knew from the start that any one of those kids could lose their fight.  It’s just that I didn’t want it to happen on my watch.  Lucy and Blanca were two bright lights in my days there. It hurts that one of them got snuffed out.”

The appetizers arrived and Todd immediately dug in.  The smell of food in front of him reminded him how hungry he was and it was a good distraction.

While they ate, Blair began recounting some of Starr’s more outrageous antics.

“You’re kidding, she really dumped horse manure in his room?” Todd grinned. Yep, he could see Starr doing that. He had seen some of Starr’s mischievous side and he knew all about her coming to find him at the hospital. His daughter had a lot of spunk that was for sure.  

“Well, she is your daughter.  You’ve been known to go overboard too.  Max told me how you clobbered him and put him in a shallow grave.  Even you have to admit that was a bit much and let’s not forget the time you showed up at St. Ann’s dressed as Sister Bernadette Peters.”

“No way.” He couldn’t believe he could do something like that but suddenly he had an image of a little nun standing in front of him staring up at him  

“Have we met? I’m Sister Michael Marie.  What is your name Child?”

“Sister Bernadette Peters.”

“What?” She said struggling to hear.”

He spoke again. “Sister Bernadette Peter.”

“What a lovely name, Bernadette at Lourdes, so blessed to see the Holy Mother and Peter the Rock.”  she laughed and asked. “ You’re a quiet one aren’t you? New here?”

He didn’t know what to answer so he just slightly smiled.

She looked at him and said. “A little shy too.  Well don’t worry, we’re a very friendly group.”  She moved closer to him and put her hand on his sleeve. “You know, I shouldn’t have this, we shouldn’t have it, but I have some depilatory cream in my room if you want a little help with that mustache.” She touched his upper lip.

Todd found himself feeling his upper lip. He blinked as he realized he had just had another memory and a strange one at that.

Blair looked across at Todd.  She had expected him to laugh and try to deny having worn a habit but he had spaced out. When he reached for his mustache she was surprised. “Todd, what is it?”

“It happened.  I remember.  I was dressed as a nun and this little nun came up to me and asked my name.  I told her Bernadette Peter.”  He grinned at Blair.  “I guess I do go overboard at times.”  For once, the memory wasn’t a hurtful one.  Two memories in one day.  Maybe he would have more.  “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome and that’s marvelous, Todd.  See. I knew if I brought you home, it would jog your memory.  It’s going to happen, Todd.  I just know it.” She couldn’t help herself, she was so happy that he had another memory that she got up, knelt beside him, and hugged him. “I just know it.”

Todd found her exuberance contagious, not even thinking about it, he took her face into his hands gently and kissed her.  Todd raised his head as he ended the kiss and for a brief moment, it felt like Deja vu.  Time stood still and he saw himself looking down at a Blair with long flowing blonde hair.  In his head, he heard “Merry Christmas”.  He couldn’t help himself, he went in for another kiss.

Blair had been stunned by the first kiss.  When he paused she wasn’t able to do anything but look up at him.  He was staring intently at her and then he kissed her again. But it wasn’t just a gentle sweet kiss. It was filled with hunger and passion and she melted into the kiss, completely forgetting they were in the restaurant.  It had been months since she and Todd had kissed like that or for that matter since he initiated it.  Whatever happened, she didn’t want it to end.

“Oh come on, Blair.  I really thought you finally came to your senses.  It looks like Bo is right. Todd has you wrapped up around his little finger and you’re believing this whole story he’s selling.”

Todd’s whole body stiffened as the words broke the moment with Blair. He released Blair and looked over his shoulder at the redhead standing behind him. “Excuse me.  Is it normal around here for people to just rudely interrupt something that has nothing to do with them?  I don’t know who you are but you owe Blair an apology.”

Blair stood and rested her hand on Todd’s shoulder. “Todd, it’s alright.  Nora is welcome to her opinions.  Don’t think anything about them.  Her judgment these days is a little warped just ask Sam and Troy.” Blair stared down Nora, who glared at her then walked quickly away.

“Hey, what about that apology?” Todd didn’t know what made him more upset.  Having the kiss with Blair interrupted or his anger that someone else who knew him tried to hurt Blair verbally.

“Todd, leave it.  Nora is always going to think the worst of you.  I’m sorry, maybe I should have given you a better heads-up about your life here in Llanview.  I just didn’t want to give you any reason to refuse to come home.”  

Todd reached across the table and took her hand.  “Blair, It was my choice,  I knew some of my past was horrific.  I might be mentally and physically challenged right now, but when you showed up in Guam, I realized I could no longer hide from my past.  As uncomfortable as this is.  I need to be here to figure out my future.”

The waiter arrived with dinner.  Digging into his steak, Todd looked across the room at the redhead and the man sitting with her.  “Okay, fill me in.  Who is Nora and who is she with?  I’ Is that the Troy you mentioned?  I know it’s not Sam.”

Blair looked over at the other table. “Yes, that’s Dr. Troy McIver.  Nora’s current boyfriend.  She moved in with him not too long ago. Sam was her previous lover and Bo was her previous husband.  Nora Hannon Gannon Buchanan is a lawyer.  She was also your defense attorney after you raped Marty.  Let’s just say there is a bad past between you two.  Nora will never be one of your cheerleaders.”

“She didn’t sound like one of your cheerleaders either.  What happened?”

“After you disappeared, Sam was having a hard time.  Nora had left him and Matthew and moved in with Troy.  I wanted to help Sam so I put some moves on Troy so that Sam could try and win Nora back, also, I was afraid you were dead.  Troy was a distraction.  I guess I wanted something to happen between me and Troy, but I couldn’t get over you.  When Sam started pushing me to get a divorce from you, Troy was the one who made me realize I still loved you.  He’s a nice guy but he doesn’t really stand a chance with Nora.  Neither does Sam.  Nora will always love Bo.” Blair chewed on her lower lip.  She hadn’t really meant to tell Todd about Troy and she waited for his reaction.

“I see.” Todd dropped his eyes to his plate and cut another piece of steak.

Blair was flabbergasted.  “Wait a minute.  That’s all you’re going to say about my dalliance with Troy.”

He smiled at her reaction. “What’s there to say?  You told me you were trying to help Sam and that nothing happened with Troy.  I believe you.”

Blair sputtered “I don’t believe it.  You’re not even a teeny bit jealous?”

Todd reached for his drink and took a sip. “Jealous? No.  You came looking for me and refused to let me stay in Guam.  That kiss we just had tells me all I need to know.  You’re mine and only mine.”  He glanced at her and watched as she turned a beautiful shade of pink.

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