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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 27

Chapter 27

       Gregor was in the middle of his discussion with Uchin when his doorbell rang. Knowing his man Frederick would get it, Gregor continued his conversation.

       “You got out of Savannah just in time, Uchin. I received word the Feds raided your establishment this morning while you were in route to here. I’m afraid the restaurant is another loss we owe to Todd Manning.”

       “Damn it, my Yakuza partners will be angry with this new turn of events but I’ve been informed by them to steer clear of any more unwanted publicity. They told me to tell you to back off your vendetta or you’ll face their wrath and it’ll be worse than anything Manning could do to you.”

       Gregor glared at his partner. “I don’t owe them any allegiance. If they want out of the partnership fine, but I will have my revenge on Manning.”

      “You’re a fool if you think you can go into business with the Yakuza and do whatever you please. The day you took their money they owned you. This isn’t a partnership you can just dissolve. I‘ve been trying to tell you for years that as long as things were profitable they would leave us alone, but now we’re bringing heat down on the whole operation and they don’t like the exposure. Back off now Gregor. I for one don’t want to lose my head.”

     Before Gregor could comment, Frederick entered. “What is it man, who was at the door?” Gregor growled, upset by the interruption.

     “Sir, it’s the police.”

     Gregor looked up startled. “What the hell do the police want?”

     Just then, two officers entered the room. “Gregor Daimler, we have an arrest warrant for you for the attempted kidnapping of Blair Cramer Toddman, Addie Cramer, Cassie Carpenter and for the attempted murder of one Thomas Lord. You’ll have to come with us, Sir."

     “But I don’t understand, who are these women? I assure you I know nothing about a Thomas Lord.” Gregor looked over at Uchin. “Find out what’s going on.” He stood helpless while the police put the cuffs on and Mirandized him.

    “Where are you taking me so I can have my lawyer meet me?”

      “Sir, you’re being remanded into the custody of the Llanview Police Department where the charges were filed.”

      As the police were removing him, Uchin replied. “I’ve got your back Gregor, I’ll call our lawyers. Is there anything else I can do?”

     “Yes, get down to Llanview as soon as you can. We still have some unfinished business to discuss, I’m sure I’ll be allowed visitors while we get this all straightened out.” Gregor was seething inside as they took him and seated him in the car like a common criminal. “Damn it, Manning. You’ve done it now. It’s no holds barred.” An hour later, they rolled up to the Llanview Police Department where John McBain was waiting to get his prisoner.

***

     Earlier that morning John had finally gotten all of his proof together to make out the arrest warrant for Daimler. The phone number Todd had provided had given them the address they needed to find Gregor, then it had been necessary to get charges drawn up. Cassie and Addie had gone to the police in Savannah, filed their charges against him for the kidnapping. Those charges had then been faxed to John and with Blair’s and Todd’s filed charges, he had gone to Nora for the warrant, which had been procured and sent to the Philadelphia police to be served. When John had received word that Gregor had been picked up, he, Todd, and Nora had been discussing just what would hold up in court. Nora was quick to point out that the only person who actually saw Gregor was Blair so her testimony would be paramount. Todd could testify to Gregor’s words, but he had been unable to see at the time so his testimony would be tainted by that fact.

       “Nora, you’re just a bundle of good news this morning aren’t you. I’m surprised you went along with us and issued the warrant.” Todd wanted to throw something. He had been hoping once they caught him it would be smooth sailing, but in his heart, he had known Gregor was probably going to find a way to beat the charges. “Are you telling me that even though I personally heard him tell me he had Cassie, Addie, Blair and Kym and what he was going to do to them; and then I heard him order his men to dispose of me, that my testimony won’t hold up in court.”

        “Let’s just say your testimony will be the one the lawyers will go after first. Blair’s testimony along with yours and the fact that she saw him is what will hold up in court. We have a lot of factors working in our favor.” Nora knew the frustration that was going through Todd and she felt it too, she hoped Todd wouldn’t do something foolish after everything he had done to turn his life around since returning. “Todd, let me do my job. You must have a lot to do before your big event tonight. Go home, we’ll take care of Gregor.”

      Todd had looked at Nora and replied. “I’m not going anywhere until I see him locked behind bars.”

      After Nora left, John had tried to talk Todd into going home but as soon as the word got there that Gregor was headed for Llanview, it had been useless. Only a bulldozer would have removed Todd at that point. He ordered Todd to remain in his office and went down to receive Gregor.

      As he stood there waiting for the car, John recalled the conversation and questions Nora had asked regarding his role in the events that had played out the morning Todd had gotten shot.

       “John I know you returned with Todd to Savannah after the Hesser trial and from some things Bo told me, I know you were instrumental in saving Blair, her mother, her cousin Cassie, and her new sister Kym. Do you want to tell me why you were down on the docks that day and how things unfolded from your viewpoint?” Nora had looked at him and Todd, trying to figure out if they had been up to something illegal.

      Todd jumped into the conversation in his usual rude fashion “Nora hold your horses, we weren’t down there for any reason you would disapprove of. John was covering my back. It was my plan to go down to the docks to try and draw out the guys I had humiliated during the raid by the Feds. They had gotten out on bail and when they couldn’t find me because I was here in Llanview, they had begun taking their anger out on the men I had worked with on the docks, while I had been covering my story. I had gone to the docks hoping they would find me and if I was lucky, I hoped they would take me to the guy I suspected of being the ringleader, namely Gregor Daimler, Blair’s and Kym’s father. I only wanted to talk to the guy and see if I could get him to release his claim to Kym and leave quietly as we had no real proof of his involvement with the slave ring. I even instructed John to stay out of sight and not interfere. Believe me, I thought that since I was blind he would realize I wasn’t going to be a real problem for him. I never expected him to kidnap Blair and the others.”

       Nora could tell Todd was telling the truth and she turned to John to hear the rest of the story. “Okay, you weren’t down there to cause trouble. So John, is that what you did? Did you lay back and just watch his back?”

       “For the most part, the only thing I did differently was going ahead and call in for some backup. When I watched the guys take Todd on the ship. I realized everything could go south quickly and shortly after the backup arrived, we saw Sid and his goons show up with Blair and the others.Then everything that morning played out in a surreal fashion. We watched as they started to bring the women back off the ship and from the way the women were struggling we knew they were being forced so we rescued them and I realized that Blair wasn’t among them. I was headed for the gangplank when I saw Sid escorting her. I yelled and distracted Sid enough for Blair to shake loose and head for the gangplank. I then fired high in order to avoid Blair, but it was enough to send Sid hiding. Just as Blair passed me on the gangplank I looked up to see Todd struggling to find his way off the ship. I watched Sid step out behind Todd, his gun aimed at Todd’s back, and yelled at Todd, Sid’s gun went off twice before my shot took out Sid. The rest you know Nora.”

       “So you never saw this Daimler guy?”

       “Nope, we searched the ship but he had disappeared and Todd was on his way to the hospital. I’ll tell you one thing, I really want to meet this guy, I have a pretty good idea what he had planned for Blair and the rest.”
John was brought out of his reverie by the sound of a car coming to rest a few feet in front of him.


***

     John strolled to the car as the young police officer exited the car, a bunch of papers in his hands. He looked nervous and John figured he was a rookie. John showed his badge thinking about the number of mistakes the young officer had just made. He glanced at the young man's partner and they nodded at each other. The kid was going to get a talking too when they headed back to Philly.

       “I’m Lieutenant John McBain, I believe you’re dropping off a prisoner for me? Did you have any trouble apprehending him?”

       “No sir, he came along quietly insisting there had to be a mistake.” The policeman handed the paperwork to be signed for the exchange and said. “If you’ll sign, he’s all yours. I must say this is all kind of out of the ordinary, usually when we pick someone up we take him to our headquarters then make the transfers, this is all strange, someone pretty high up must be pulling strings.”

       “This case involves a senator’s family. So yeah it requires special handling. Any more questions officer?” John returned the signed paperwork.

       The young officer looked at his partner, who frowned and shook his head no, and said. “Uh No, like I said, he’s all yours,” and handed the keys to his prisoner’s cuffs to John.

       John opened the back door to the car. “Mr. Daimler, we finally meet.”

***

       Todd paced John‘s office. This had all gone way too easily. When they had located Daimler, John said they should stop playing games and just go after him legally. John had been convinced they could hold him on the charges of kidnapping and attempted murder, so Todd had allowed Blair and her family to press charges. When Dorian had heard what happened she had been furious and had expedited a lot of the paperwork needed to get Gregor to Llanview, but Todd still felt like something was wrong. Todd understood Gregor and knew he must be furious. Whatever happened they had to find a way to keep him from getting bail. Todd was worried about Gregor’s retaliation concerning this humiliation. Whatever Gregor had been in the midst of planning would only be more dangerous now that Gregor was mad. Todd watched through John’s window as Gregor was brought into the station.

       Todd looked at the man for the first time. He seemed shorter and looked like he had been having a rough year; his face was thinner than it was in his picture that Todd had found on the Internet. From his demeanor, Todd could tell he was playing the part of a confused and wrongly accused man to the hilt.

        Gregor was working the cops as much as he could. He kept insisting he knew nothing of the outrageous charges against him and used his age to appear more frail and harmless. As he looked around the room he glanced through a window and saw Manning starring at him. Rage poured through him and he drew himself up to his full height and glared at his son-in-law.

      John had been watching Gregor’s act and had almost been convinced that Todd must have been wrong. No way was the guy he walked into the station, the head of a slave organization. Then he watched him transform before his eyes into a man capable of doing serious harm to anyone in his way, instead of appearing frail and too small for his clothing, Gregor now filled every bit of his expensive suit and he appeared ready to take off someone head. John looked to see what had changed Daimler’s demeanor. John followed Daimler’s eyes and saw him looking at Todd. He watched as Todd slowly smiled at Daimler. John glanced back at Daimler and could almost feel the rage rolling off him.

       When Daimler’s eyes met his, Todd watched as Daimler turned into the man he had envisioned in his head. This was the man Todd knew. He smiled at Daimler, knowing it would enrage him all the more. Daimler was a fool, he had just shown his real self to John and still wasn’t aware of it. Todd moved his eyes away from Daimler and looked at John and back again watching as the truth hit Daimler

        Gregor saw Todd’s eyes shift and look at the lieutenant, he realized he had given himself away and pulled in his anger and turned to face John. With a cool voice, he inquired. ”So what happens next, Lieutenant?”

        John looked him up and down. Gregor’s posture and whole attitude had changed to that of a man who wielded power with an iron fist and treated most people with contempt. Gregor was standing there daring him to go through with the arrest and risk the consequences. John took on the dare. “You’re going to be booked Daimler and then placed in a nice cell to await your lawyer.”

        “I believe I’m still allowed one phone call.”

        “You can make the call down in fingerprinting. Charlie, book him. Charges are kidnapping and attempted murder.” John watched as he was led away. He rejoined Todd in his office. “You were right, he’s a very dangerous man. I seriously thought you were wrong about this guy until he saw you, the change in him was striking.”

         “Yeah well, I told you so. He’s out for my blood and now we’ve made him really mad. You’re not going to be able to keep him locked up for long, he will get out on bail.”

         “We’re handling this one step at a time. I need Blair in here to identify him. She’s the only one who saw him.”

        “Damn it. After seeing his look, I wish I had never agreed to this. I wanted to keep Blair as far away from him as I could but this turn of events has put her in the thick of things.”

       “Just get her in here Todd, once she has identified him and signed a statement for Nora, her part will be finished until the trial.”

       Todd looked at John “I hope you’re right but I have this gut feeling Gregor already had something in the works before you picked him up and now I hope we don’t find out the hard way just what his plan was.”


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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 26 (Adult)


Chapter 26

       Blair guided Todd over to the bed. What had started out a gentle kiss had steadily turned into a roaring fire. Feverishly she groped at his zipper, needing him free and unencumbered. Her hands lowered the jeans until he was able to step out of them. Even as her hands caressed his tight muscles, his hands were all over her; removing her blouse and slacks, then slipping under her bra and working her nipples, as her body quivered in response. The bra slipped free and he lowered her on the bed and began removing her panties, his fingers delving lower and finding her slick and eager for him. Blair’s breath was becoming fast and uneven as she molded her body closer to him, feeling him primed and ready against her. Todd‘s mouth and tongue had found her nipples and she arched in pleasure as he nipped and wrapped his tongue around them, then shifted and worked a leg between hers. She opened eagerly as she felt him poised to enter.

      Instead of entering her, Todd lifted her hips and began to taste deep within her. The warmth of his tongue sent shivers through her. She moaned her delight, as the titillation continued. She gripped his shoulders, her nails digging in and Todd lowered her hips and entered her, feeling her immediately tighten around him and they began their dance. Her moans of pleasure as he pushed into her core set him on fire, every pulse intensifying until they both cried out in satisfaction.. He collapsed on top of her for one brief moment, then laid down beside her and began once again fondling her breasts. Blair gave a contented sigh and snuggled closer, loving the feel of his hands as they slowly caressed her. The evening sun was beginning to cast a rosy glow to the room, and he listened to her breathing as she sighed. He kissed her shoulder and worked his way up her neck as she turned her head towards him. He captured her sweet lips once more and then looked down at her. He wanted to warn her to be careful, but the mood had been so perfect he couldn’t put a shadow on her face. Instead, he said “We probably should see about getting some sort of dinner. We have a party coming up in a couple of days and you might like a little time to plan it. Best to get the food out of the way.”

       Blair’s eyes opened in surprise. “A party? What are you talking about? Time to plan....You mean we’re giving a party? Are you crazy?” She sat up in bed and looked down on him.”Todd Manning, are you telling me we’re hosting a party in a couple of days and you’re just now letting me know about it? You're kidding me, you have to be. You don’t seriously expect me to prepare a party on such short notice?”

        Todd laid there fully appreciating the picture in front of him. Was she unaware how gorgeous she looked sitting next to him? Samuel would have a field day; her breasts exposed and the nipples responding to her anxiety, her face flushed and her hair tousled. She looked well, truly satisfied and yet ready for more, but he knew to even suggest a second go around now would be suicide. Her thoughts were no longer on lovemaking but on a party, he had just sprung on her. He reached up and pulled a strand of hair off her face. “Shh, you’ll do just fine, you’re Blair Cramer Toddman Manning and you can accomplish anything you put yourself into. A party in a couple days is child’s play to you, but now, how about some food?”

        “Toddd! You have no idea what I’ve got in front of me”

         “Oh I don’t know, it’s all pretty right in front of me, right now,” he grinned, as her cheeks blushed pinker.

          “You....stop laughing. This is serious.” She smacked him with a pillow causing him to laugh even harder. “OOOh,” she slipped off the bed and grabbed her clothes. She tossed him his jeans and said. “You just get your own food, I’ve got work to do. And stop laughing.”

          “I can’t help it you just sound so southern right now.” He slipped his jeans back on and watched as she flounced into the bathroom. “God, I love you,“ he said as she shut the door.

          He headed downstairs and found Starr and Shaun serving the boys and Hope dinner. “Is there enough for me? What are you eating?”

         “Shaun made chili and yes there’s plenty for everybody,” Starr replied, breaking some crackers into Hope’s bowl.

         Todd grabbed a spoon and took a taste. “Wow, that’s tasty. Thanks for helping out, Shaun.” He dished up a bowl and sat down next to Sam, who seemed to be playing with his chili more than eating it. “What’s up, Buddy?”

         “Dad used to love Tea’s chili. He always gave me icecubes because hers was so hot!” A little tear dropped onto his face and Todd pulled him close. “It’s okay, pal. That’s a good memory, but Shaun’s going to think you don’t like his chili if you cry in it. You know, Sir Dragon loves chili as much as pizza bits because it helps the fire burn in his tummy and he can get off some really good burst of fire when he needs to attack his enemies. I’ll show you,” and he suddenly let out a huge burp.

         Everyone erupted into laughter and Sam said very wisely. “You need to eat some more chili. Your fire is out.”

        Todd laughed and said, “You know what, I think you’re right, I need to refuel. After I finish mine, can I eat yours?”

        “No, I think I’ll eat it, it isn’t as hot as Tea’s but it’s good,” and he started eating.

         “Thanks, Sam, I’m glad you like it “ Shaun looked over at Todd. “It’s going to take me a while to get used to you being Todd Manning, I had kinda gotten used to Samuel.”

          “Shaun, just call me Todd for now, if that works for you. I’ve never been too fond of being called Mr.Manning. It’s been a crazy year for everybody since I returned home. I want to thank you for staying with Blair and the others this afternoon. When we’re finished here we’ll go talk and I’ll bring you up to speed on everything.”

         “Sure thing Mr...Todd, I'll help any way I can.”

           Soon Kym, CJ, and Blair joined them, but Kym after having a quiet chat with Blair, left with her, and CJ sat down next to Jack and began telling him about some of Todd’s early escapades. When dinner was over, CJ offered to help Jack clean up. At first, it looked like Jack might refuse but then he started picking up bowls and taking them to the sink. Starr gathered Hope and Sam and took them to the playroom to watch a video and then she joined her Mom and Kym.

         Seeing everyone occupied, Todd turned to Shaun. “Let’s get a drink and go to my office” Shaun was startled, but he followed Todd to the bar and took the beer handed to him.


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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 25

Chapter 25

       After giving the information they had dug up on Gregor to John, Todd and C.J. headed to The Sun to check and make sure operations were back up to speed and no more incidences had happened. Todd showed C.J.around the paper, and then they walked the block to the Penthouse.

    Stepping off the elevator, C.J. had a thought. “This is weird, I just realized this is the place you had after you married Blair for the first time. I think this is my first time here.”
  
    “You’re right C.J., but you need to remember, you, me and Sarah were friends long before I knew your mother was my sister. She and I didn’t get along very well at first, and no offense C.J., but your mom is a little flighty.”

    “You don’t have to be that nice. Let’s face it my mom’s a ditz but she loves me and my sister. Say, you probably haven’t heard, but she and my dad got remarried while you were in a coma. I never thought they would get back together, but things change.”

    “Does she know about Kym?”

    “Hell no, when this is all cleared up then maybe I’ll take Kym and the kids and go visit, but right now, Mom’s hysterics would be too much for Kym.”

    “Knowing Tina, that’s probably for the best.” Todd opened the door and ushered C.J.in. “What do you think?”

    “Wow!” C.J. was impressed. “This is really something.” He wandered further into the room and his gaze fell on the gallery of portraits above the mantle. “So Samuel painted all of these, too. The one of Vicki is terrific and the one of Blair... well let’s just say if someone painted Kym that way I’d be waiting for him in a dark alley.”

    Todd chuckled but he knew what C.J. meant, even he had been jealous of Samuel for a short time. Sure, Samuel was just a part of him and he knew Samuel and all of his alters loved Blair in their own special ways, but he remembered how Samuel had had to reassure him a number of times that Blair loved him with all her heart. Somehow, the love she felt for his alters was sisterly only. “Don’t worry, I understand.”

    “So, Samuel was in charge for eight long years and he had no memory of any of us or your life. That must have been tough.”

    “It’s over now. Let’s talk about something else.” Todd really didn’t want to revisit what Samuel had gone through. “I want you and Kym to stay here while we’re trying to get Gregor. Security was beefed up and bulletproof glass was installed after it became evident Hesser was after me. Don’t get me wrong, we love having you and Kim at Dragonheart but man, you’re on your honeymoon. 
You’ll be safe here and also have some privacy.”

    C.J. was surprised. “You’re serious, aren’t you?”

    “Yes. Blair and I talked about it last night. Look, Starr was staying here but with everything that has been going on, I’d rather she and Hope stay with us. So for now, the penthouse is empty. What do you say?”

    “I say, sure. This would be a great place for Kym and me to finish our honeymoon. I will admit with the children just down the hallway, we’ve have been a little uneasy about making....well, you know what I mean.”

          Todd laughed, “I know exactly what you mean. I’ll let you in on a secret. The walls at Dragonheart are soundproof. I know because I designed the place. So you can relax tonight and we’ll get you guys set up here tomorrow. Now, why don’t you take a look around, I need to pick up a couple things from the office here and then we’ll head home and check on the girls and tell them about the celebration.” As C.J. headed upstairs to view the rest of the penthouse, Todd went to his safe and retrieved his gun and a few other items. Stowing the gun in his jacket, he started to rejoin C.J. when his cell phone rang.

       “Hello”

       “Aw, good. I caught you. Have you and the thief who stole my daughter finished all your little wanderings?”

      “What do you want, Gregor?”

        “Does he seriously think marrying her will keep her apart from me. She’s mine and no upstart farmer will stand a chance in the face of her love for me.”

          “You’re delusional Gregor, Kym doesn’t love you. You might have had power over her once, but she’s broken those puppet strings and found a healthier and more caring relationship with this thief than she ever envisioned.”
“Never.”

“Face it. You lost her and when I find you, you’ll lose everything else. So you sit there and hide and wait for me, I’m getting closer every day.” Todd hung up before Gregor could say anything more and quickly registered the received call number, then he called John.

“McBain. Your good friend Manning, here.”

“What do you want now?”

“Thought you might want Gregor’s current phone number, but if I’m inconveniencing you, I’ll let you go.”

“Hold it right there. You’re kidding me right?’

“Hell no, he just called me, still if I’m interrupting something important …”

“Damn it, Todd, just give me the number.”

Todd read him the number. “Now get to work John. I’m tired of this guy and his impromptu phone calls.” He hung up to find C.J. staring at him.

“What did he want?”

Todd looked innocent. “What did who want?”


“I know you just talked to Gregor, you’re all business suddenly and mad.  Remember I’ve seen you upset, sure I was just a little boy, but I could tell you didn’t like Powell, and you're reacting the same way about Gregor.”

Todd’s whole body relaxed and he took a deep breath. “You always were a perceptive kid. Gregor called to let me know he knew about your marriage to Kym, and he claimed it wouldn’t stand in the way of getting her back. I set him straight and I imagine he’s fuming right about now. Let’s get back to the matter at hand. Do you think this place will work for you while you stay here in Llanview?”

“This place is great, but right now we need to get back to Dragonheart. I know you’re anxious about the women since Gregor’s call, I am too. Besides, I don’t think you want Blair finding out about the party by reading The Sun. We need to be the ones to give them the news, they’ll be panicking when they realize it’s only a couple of days away.”

“You’ve got that right, plus you and Kym need to go by Vicki’s tonight, just be sure and take Shawn with you for added protection.”

“We’ll do that. I think he’s up to something for sure and since he knows Kym is here...it’s not good.”

A short time later they arrived back at Dragonheart, Todd hated the feeling he felt opening the door. He knew it was irrational and he hadn’t wanted to admit it to C.J., but he had been envisioning coming home to an empty house and the girls gone. “Blair are you around?” There was no answer and his heart skipped a beat. “Blair! Where are you?”

C.J. heard the panic in Todd’s voice and his own heart jumped “Oh God, you don’t really think...not this quickly.” he looked at his uncle. “Kym!” C.J. raced up the stairs and Todd began searching the rest of the house.

The lower level was empty and quiet as a tomb. Todd walked back out to the front and looked up the stairs to see C.J. shaking his head. Todd’s heart had been beating a mile a minute and he suddenly got dizzy. He grabbed the banister and lowered himself to sit down.

C.J. rushed down to check on his uncle. “Todd, take it easy. Maybe they just went out to do something. I think we’re jumping the gun, fearing the worst.” They both heard the laughter at the same time and the front door opened, as Blair entered, carrying multiple bags and laughing at something Kym was saying. Starr, too, was laughing and they all came to a halt when they saw the men looking at them.

“Todd? What’s the matter?” Before Blair could say anything else, Todd was off the stairs grabbing her.

“Damn it, Blair, I asked you to stay home. You didn’t even leave a note.” He didn’t want to let her go, she really had no idea what had been going through his mind.

“Todd, I’m sorry, we took Shaun with us. What’s going on?” She dropped her bags and put a hand on his chest. She was alarmed when she realized his heart was racing. “Todd, what has you so upset?”

He forced himself to calm down, she was safe, Todd took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. They were all looking at him waiting for his reply, but C.J. answered instead.

“He got another call from Gregor. When we got home and you weren’t here, we got worried he had done something.” CJ wrapped his arms around Kym pulling her close. “You have to understand how dangerous he is. Uncle Todd is right, you could have left a note.”

Blair looked into Todd’s eyes and saw the fear he was trying to contain. She tapped his heart and his eyes focused on her.”Hey, I promise to leave a note the next time. We’re alright, everyone is fine.” His arms tightened around her waist and she gave him a gentle kiss.

Kym looked at C.J. and also worked to reassure him.

Realizing where this all was probably going, Starr nodded to Shaun and they gathered the bags and left the couples to their own devices.





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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 24

Chapter 24

      Blair and Starr were picking up the Christmas gifts that had been opened earlier in the week. Suddenly, they heard a yell, coming from the office. “That’s it! We’ve got him!”

      Starr turned to her mother, “They’ve been working in there a long time, Mom. Sounds like something’s up.”

       In the study, Todd turned to C.J. “We’ve got him, we've nailed it down to the same area where Kipling’s house was. Now, we need to connect him fully to the saboteur.”

        “Well, don’t get too greedy, Uncle Todd. We know he’s in the area, we just don’t know exactly where. And right now, he knows right where to find Blair, and I’m sure he is looking for Kym.”

        Todd thought about this a moment. “I know, I know.  Blair’s worried, Kym’s worried.  Gotta find a way to stop that.  Blair doesn’t want me engaging with him.”

         “Boy, you got that right, Uncle Todd. Kym’s been all over me to stay out of it.”

          “Well, she’s got a point. The guy’s dangerous. She lived with him for years.  Hell, he almost killed her, and she’s his daughter, no less.”

          “I know, that’s why I thought if we got married, he wouldn’t have a leg to stand on getting her back. She’s really terrified of him. She was a basket case after he called. His hold on her, it just....it’s terrible. She reverts back to that child that he molested, molded, and abused.”

        Todd sat deep in thought for a moment at this. He fought not to get lost in his own memories.

        CJ continued, “Just hearing his voice caused Kym to get all these strange feelings, only she felt them toward me, and, well, you know. She didn’t know if they were real or not. I don’t want her like that. She’s afraid to care because of how she was trained.” CJ sat there silently, thinking of his brave, young wife.

        Todd was trying desperately to find something to say to ease C.J.’s mind. He knew the hold that Gregor had on Kym; he had experienced it himself. “It’s going to take time. But, I think you two are headed in the right direction. Maybe that’s why she wants you to keep away from Gregor. She loves you, Lily, Josh, Chase, all of you. She doesn’t want you under his shadow at all, and he’s got a big shadow, C.J.”

       C.J. looked at his uncle with respect. Todd went on. “He’s got a lot of power, and he’s been using it a long time. The thing is, he’s vulnerable, just like everyone, he has his faults. He doesn’t like being thwarted and I’ve stopped him twice now. In the eyes of his partners, he made a mess of the slave ring, and then a mess of my murder when he wanted me dead. Not to mention, I hurt him, and he’s not used to that. That’s his weakness, he doesn’t like to be hurt.”

       Just then, Starr peeked in the doorway. “Mom and I heard you, what happened?”
    
       “Nothing much,” Todd eyed his daughter, “we think we found out Gregor’s location. You girls get all the gifts put away?”

        “That’s not nothing, Dad. And yes we did.”

         Todd smiled, “Listen. C.J. and I are headed down to talk to McBain. Need to find out about the autopsy on the arsonist or even dirt on that lawyer. For my piece of mind, you girls are to stay close to home. Alarms on. This house is secure. Don’t go wandering all over Llanview. If he calls, tell your mom to record it. Got it?”

       “Dad, you really think you should go out? If we’re not safe around town, what makes you think you are?”

       “I've gotta get into The Sun.  I need to make sure it’s up and running again. The New Year is just around the corner, I want this resolved. Ready to go, C.J.?”

       C.J. looked at his uncle and the spark of admiration was definitely still there. “Let me go talk to Kym, and I’ll be ready.”

       “I’ll meet you at the front door, C.J.” Todd walked out to the living room to see Blair, who was piling Sam’s goodies into a heap. He walked up behind her and put his arms around her.

        “You know, you look beautiful when you bend over that way.”

         “Todd! Starr’s in the room!”

         “Listen,” he turned her toward him. “I need to get serious. I don’t like leaving you here alone. Why don’t you call Shaun? Tea and Dani seem to be doing okay. Gregor doesn’t have them in his sights. Maybe Shaun could come here and keep my girls company.”

         Blair sensed his fear. “You really think he’ll try something here, at the house?” She reached up, the palm of her hand touching his cheek. She loved the feel of his skin, even with the roughness of the scars. “I know you’re worried. I’ll call Shaun, but we’re going to be fine. You know I can handle a gun. You found him?”

        “We think so. I know you can handle things. But you shouldn’t have to and the kids are still out of school for the holidays, which worries me more. The kids being here makes you more vulnerable because he’ll have more leverage. Get Shaun here.”

        “I promise. Hurry back. You’re exposed out there. Both of you. By now, he has to know what Kym did.” She pulled his face to her and met his lips. His arms tightened around her. It was glorious for a moment, and he smiled.

        “We’ll be back later.” Todd turned to the foyer to see C.J. coming to the front door. “Is Kym all right?”

          “She’s fine but not happy. Let’s go.”

***
          He reached for the phone and called Uchin. “I need you up in Philadelphia. How soon can you be here?” The conversation ended with Uchin agreeing to be in town within the next thirty-six hours.

          The phone clicked into the receiver as Gregor let out a sigh of contentment pouring a taller-than-usual cognac. “All right, Mr. Manning. Mr. Todd Manning. If my daughter and that new husband of hers think they are going to get away with it and stay out of my range, they have another think coming. A little birdie has told me they are up there with you,” he gulped the last of his cognac, throwing his head back in abandon, “and I think it’s my turn again.”

         He placed the glass down and sat in his chair. “Frederick,” he said into the intercom beside him, “bring me, Kaitlin.” He waited for his young companion, staring into the fireplace.

          As she walked into the room he said, “Come to Daddy, Sweetheart, it’s time to play.”

***
          Todd and CJ strolled into John’s office as if they owned it. “Hey, McBain, did you get any information on that autopsy? Was it poison?”

          John looked up. “You really need to learn how to knock.”

          “Eh, I do what I do. So, tell me, did you get anything?”

           “Yes, you were right, he was poisoned and yes, we’re looking into the lawyer and haven’t found much yet. What about you?   I know you looked. Did you find our guy?” John stared at Todd who simply smiled.

         “Maybe. We got something. We think we know the area, at least.”

          “Well tell me, where is he?” McBain inquired.

          "You’ll be surprised. Well, maybe you won’t. He lives up close to Kipling. Near Philadelphia. Any chance I can have a chat with Carlo or Kipling? I want to know if they know him. I just have this feeling he’s one of their ‘partners’”

          “What, and tip your hand? You really think you should see Hesser or Kipling, Todd? Pretty close to home.”

         “I gotta know, John. This guy is Blair’s father. I already know he’s a pervert. Makes perfect sense he’d be involved with something with Hesser and Kipling, anything that has to do with money and his perverse desires.”

          “Okay. So you know he’s in the area, you think he’s connected to the arsonist. How are you going to prove it?”

          “I guess that’s your job, McBain. You have the autopsy report, the lawyer’s name, the badge. Get me the connection. He was served up some poisoned shit on a shingle or was that bologna? It happened here in your jail.  Don’t you want to know the killer?"

          “Sure, Manning, anything you say. So we find the guy, we find the connection, then what? You gonna let us get him, or are you stepping in?”

          “He’s after my family. You really expect me to take a back seat?”

           C.J., who had been watching the whole thing intensely, saw that his uncle was deeply fearful under the bravado. Up until that moment, he had been pretty lighthearted with McBain. Now, he was all business. John could tell that Todd was ready to move forward seriously.

           “Dammit, Manning, I mean this, you need to stay out of it. Blair doesn’t want you in it and I sure don’t. The police department can handle it. I don’t need you fanning the fire. He’s escalated to murder; we don’t want a massacre. What would my reputation be if a fine citizen like you got killed off?”

          “McBain, you don’t understand. He called and threatened Kym, he killed the guy in jail - he’s on his own rampage already. The next move is his, and he’s ready for it. I don’t know where he’s going to strike. Can you assure me, it’s not my family? If I am in the game, he’ll strike at me.”

          C.J. and John looked at each other. C.J. spoke, “Are you crazy, Uncle Todd?  After  everything you’ve been through, you want him to come after you?”

         Todd looked at his nephew and shrugged. “You KNOW it. It’s me or the girls, what would you choose? That’s why you married Kym. I don’t want him touching Blair again.”

          “All right, Manning, what’s your plan? You have one, don’t you?” John couldn't help himself, he was curious how Todd was going to draw Gregor's  attention.

           “Hell no! I was hoping the police could put a little pressure on him and maybe slip the fact that you got the information from me. I need him to come out of his snake hole. I need him to come here. I’m thinking to plan a ball, for New Year’s Eve. Todd Manning’s Return Celebration. What do you think, John? Would that bring him out from under the covers?”

          C.J. folded his arms, and John rolled his eyes. “Manning, you’re not all there, are you?”

         “Uncle Todd . . .”

          “Hey, I think it’s a great idea. Either of you got a better one?”  Todd looked at them both.

         “Well uh, Blair, Starr, and Kym might have some objections,” replied C.J.

         “Eh, buy them all new gowns, they’ll be fine with it. A celebration, they love that kind of thing. They don’t have to know it’s a trap."

          C.J. took a deep breath. “Okay, okay, it might work. But that’s putting a lot of people in danger.”

      “Not really,” Todd smiled, “if he comes, he’s going to come alone.”

        “Manning this department is not taking the fall for this one,” McBain said. “That being said, what can I do to help?”

         “Like I said, John, pressure. Just put that pressure and be there at the event. I seem to recall you love those tuxedo events.”

          John grimaced, “yeah right.”

       “Besides, John, it gives you a chance to get together with Natalie. I’d be glad to make it a double event, you know, engagement party?”

         “Manning, you’re crossing the line today.”

         “That’s what I do, McBain, that’s what I do.”


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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 23

Chapter 23

       Todd arrived home and found Blair pacing the living room. “What happened?” He asked.

       “You were right, I just got off the phone with Momma. Joshua and the kids just arrived this morning. It seems someone attempted an attack on the orchard, but the extra protection that C.J. had in place stopped them. Joshua decided to get the kids out of there while the authorities looked into the attempt. When I asked Momma about Kym, she said C.J. and Kym weren’t in Savannah. Todd, she told me not to worry about them, but I don’t like wondering where they are.”

        He opened his arms and folded her in as she turned to him for comfort. “Hey, I think you’re worrying about nothing. If something had happened to them, I’m sure Joshua would have told Addie. I’m just glad the attack on the orchard was unsuccessful. I knew the bastard couldn’t leave Kym alone for long. We’ve got to figure out where he’s hiding. I’ve got the bank records of the saboteur. With those, we should be able to find out where his money came from. Hopefully, it will lead us to Gregor.”

       “You’re right, I know I’m jumping to the worst conclusion first, but he’s barely giving us time to breathe and he already knows where we are. You don’t think he would go after Starr or the kids do you?”

        “No, I think when I injured him, it became personal between us. The only reason he’s reaching out for Kym is that he thinks she belongs to him. With Gregor, it’s all about what is his. I took Kym away from him and he can’t stand that. What I can’t believe is that he would go so far as to kill someone to keep his anonymity. I should have realized the guy was insane.” Todd stopped as soon as he said it and looked into Blair’s haunted eyes. “Blair, don't go there, you’re as sane as they come.  Hell, everyone in this town is cracked. Daimler borders on criminally insane and that makes him more unpredictable.” He cupped her chin and gently kissed her, letting her know he had no qualms about her.

       Blair wrapped her arms around his neck and deepened the kiss. She needed to taste and feel him close to her. Her deepest fear was losing her mind and the closest she had ever come was when she shot Max Holden. And, she remembered softly, Todd had been there for her. They both had scars that went deep, but they had always found their way back to each other. She nestled her face close to his and whispered. “I love you. Please don’t let him take you from me.”

         Todd’s arms tightened around her “It’ll never happen.” He looked into her tear-filled emerald eyes and saw the fear in them. She really was terrified Daimler was going to succeed. “I’m doing everything in my power to get ahead of this guy. He made a mistake and picked an arsonist that wasn’t on top of his game. This guy left a paper trail and it's going to be Daimler’s undoing.” He wiped away her tears and led her over to the couch. Before he could say anything else the doorbell rang.

        Blair looked at him in alarm, they weren’t expecting any visitors and after talking to Addie, she was little worried. “Todd, you don’t think...?”

        “Hey don’t go jumping to conclusions. I don’t think anyone Daimler sent, would announce himself by ringing the doorbell. Stay here. I’ll get it” Todd took a moment to view the front porch monitor and quickly opened the door. “Get in here you two. Blair will be so relieved to see you. She’s been worried ever since she heard about an attack at the orchard. What the hell happened and what are you doing here?”

       Todd stood back as C.J. and Kym entered the house. C.J. shook his uncle’s hand and pulled Kym close to his side, a gesture that didn’t get missed by Todd. C.J. realized his uncle was looking closely at the two of them, but before he could say something, Blair joined them in the front hall.

      “Thank God you’re both alright, I was so upset to hear about the attack. We’ve had our own share of happenings here and Addie was so mysterious about your whereabouts. Why didn’t you call?” Blair gave both a hug and kiss, then led them into the living room.

        Kym had lived in many an opulent home, but she was fascinated by the design of Dragonheart. “Blair this is a beautiful home, the design is unique.”

        Blair smiled and tucked her hand into Todd’s arm. “It was lovingly designed by Todd and the portraits were painted by his alter Samuel. C.J., I’m sure you’re not surprised by your uncle’s talent.”

        “Actually I’m stunned, I knew he could carve but paint? I’m truly amazed.” C.J. had been thinking a lot like Kym even as they had driven up to the house. His uncle really was a puzzle. He thought back to that night on the dock when Todd had eluded the men guarding the warehouse. It had been disconcerting to find out Todd had Alters like his Aunt Vicki. The fact that one of them, namely Samuel, was a known artist in his own right, really gave new meaning to the phrase leading a double life.

        Todd headed to the bar to get drinks. Handing one to C.J. he said, “Enough chit-chat, what happened at the orchard?” Seeing the look that passed between C.J. and Kym and the little hand touch by C.J., he added. “And what the hell is going on with you two?”

        C.J. gave a small smile to Kym and looked at his uncle. "Do you want the good news or the bad news first?"

        Todd had an inkling what the good news was.”Tell the bad news.”

          “Yes well, several days ago Gregor contacted Kym and said he was coming to get her. Kym was all set to leave especially after Gregor made threats to also take Lily.”

        “Why that bastard! If he were to dare to lay hands on Lily, I’d...” Todd was stopped by Blair who grabbed his hand. “Todd, relax. There’s no way C.J. and Joshua would ever let him get close to Lily.” Todd reined in his anger and forced himself to sit down next to Blair. “I’m sorry, go on with your story”

          “I understand the anger, I felt it too. Like I said, Kym wanted to leave and after some persuasion, I talked her into staying and we began to make plans to stop Gregor legally. We had just finished the ceremony when all hell broke loose at the orchard. A van had broken through the gate and was trying to shoot its way to the farmhouse. We heard the gunshots and rushed to the front porch in time to see the van stopped, completely surrounded by our farmworkers and the guards we had hired extra. The men in the van gave up and we thought the threat was over until we heard a cry come from Lily. She was being held by one man and a second had his gun trained on us.” C.J. felt Kym’s hand shake and he looked at her. ”It’s alright, it all over “ he saw the look on Todd’s face and quickly reassured him. “It really is alright Todd. The van was supposed to be a diversion while the two men came in and took Kym and Lily, unfortunately for the two guys that entered the house, someone had neglected to warn them about Bruno and Claude.”

        “Who the hell are Bruno and Claude? If they’re bodyguards they sure weren’t doing their job since the guys actually had hold of Lily. They deserve to be fired.”

          C.J. laughed “Oh they will never be fired, they’re beloved family members. You see, Bruno and Claude are family pets. They’re German Shepherd trained to attack and they went into action the minute the weapon was pulled inside the house. Bruno took down the guy who was holding Lily without even putting a scratch on Lily, although I can’t say the same for the guy who had been holding her and Claude got the guy with the gun. The guy with the gun did get one shot off and Claude received a flesh wound, but Chase made sure he got plenty of attention afterward. Joshua and I, along with some of our guests, one of which was the Police Chief of Macon tied up the in-house assailants and waited for the authorities to get them before continuing the festivities.”

         Blair had been holding her breath and let it out. “Thank goodness you’re all okay, but what were the festivities for?”

         Todd smiled and looked at her, “That’s the good news Blair, can’t you see?”

       She looked back at Todd and then over at Kym and C.J. and it finally registered. That was why Momma had said not to worry,”You’re married!” Kym beamed and nodded. Blair immediately rushed over to sit beside her and they began discussing the event, minus the last minute interruption C.J. had just told them about.

       Todd nodded at C.J. “Congratulations. Why don’t we let them talk about the happy things and you can tell me why you’re here instead of on your honeymoon? Let’s go out on the terrace.” C.J. got up and followed his uncle out.

       “You do realize you put yourself right in the crosshairs along with me don’t you C.J.? I trust you didn’t just marry Kym because you wanted to keep her from Gregor. A lot sure went on while I was in that coma.”

        “I love her if that’s what you’re asking and yes, I know Gregor’s going to be real pissed off once he finds out he can’t have her anymore. That’s why we’re here. I know you, Uncle Todd, you’re going after him and I want to help. I figure working together gives us a united front and he’ll have to be more careful. Joshua has removed the kids from Peachtree for the time being and will stay in Savannah keeping an eye on them, and Blair’s mother and cousin. He and Amos are pretty sure they can stay on top of things there because the Feds have been making inroads into the slavering ever since the raid and the corporation that Gregor worked for has put up funds to help capture anyone involved. I’ve got some information I’m sure you would love to hear. Gregor made his call to our land line in Peachtree. Big mistake. We now know where the call came from.”

        Todd couldn’t believe his ears. “C.J. this is great. With the info I got today, we should be able to find out if your location and mine are connected. With any luck, we’ll find him and then we can plan our next move. Let’s go to my office, Blair and Kym will want to talk a little longer I’m sure.”

        They reentered the living room and C.J. paused long enough to get a good look at one of Blair’s portraits. “You really painted that? “

         Todd looked up at the picture of Blair descending the stairs at the penthouse and remembered the day like it was yesterday. Samuel had also recalled it and had painted it when he wasn’t even sure who he was painting. Later he had painted the portrait on the other wall but had been reluctant to sell either one. Samuel had told him, how as soon as the second portrait was finished, he had known he had painted them for this house. “Samuel painted them, I’ve never had the chance to tell you the whole story.”

       “You don’t have to, Blair got us all caught up while you were in the coma. When you told me you had alters the night we saved Lily, I must admit I thought you might have been pulling my leg. After Blair filled us in, I’ve got to tell you I was flabbergasted. You’re something else. Samuel is one heck of an artist. Now that you have your sight back do you think Samuel might be able to paint a portrait of Kym after this is all over.”

       Todd raised an eyebrow and he grinned ”I don’t know, Samuel’s plate is pretty full right now. He was in the middle of a portrait of your Aunt Vicki when we lost our sight and his Art Dealer has been screaming for something else to sell. Samuel is in demand as an artist, I’ll have to check with him.”

        Samuel spoke up in Todd’s head, “Todd quit teasing, tell C.J. I’ll do it after this is all over, you’re going to need the rest, and you might as well let me handle things then.”

        Todd looked at C.J. and realized the man had taken him seriously and was standing there shocked.“I’m just kidding, but I have to know, do you understand that when Samuel’s in charge, I’m taking a back seat to things?”

        C.J. laughed, “You know, I guess it never really clicked in my head. Blair talked about him like he was real and separate from you, I’m sorry Todd, that was pretty insensitive of me.”

         “It’s okay pal, it does take getting used to and you haven’t really met any of them so I can see that just hearing about them would make them sound like there was more than one of me in a room. They had you fooled down on the dock, I remember you wondering why I just hadn’t let them handle everything after you found out about my heart. Now you know we’re never really apart. Hey don’t worry about it, I’ll be glad to take a back seat and let Samuel paint Kym, after all, you're my best bud right.”

        C.J. smiled and replied. “You got that right. So let‘s see if we can find Gregor and then we can enjoy some peace when this is over.”

         Several hours later Blair found them still working feverishly on the computer. “Hey, you guys need to come up for air. Starr and the boys got home and we thought Chinese sounded good for dinner. The food’s here, come and eat. That can wait.”

         Todd looked down at his watch and nodded. “Come on C.J. We’ve got it narrowed down, let’s eat and I hope you and Kym will stay with us tonight. I don’t want to hear any arguments. It’s not safe even here, so like you said, we stay united for right now.” He pulled C.J. out of his chair and they followed Blair out.


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