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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Memories Unlocked #31

Chapter 31


Blair stormed into her office. Throwing her purse down on the couch she walked to the desk and hit the call button. “Get Briggs up here!” After calling for her editor, she slumped down in her chair and tried to start working. Her mind was still on the last conversation with Todd.  
Frustrated, she pushed away from the desk and began pacing.


“Damn him! Why does he have to be such a stubborn mule?   That pride of his is the whole problem.  Sure he was willing to come home with us but now that he’s here, he thinks he can just take his sweet time.  He’s got another think coming if he expects me to keep making the effort to get him to remember us.  All I wanted to do was support him at the hospital.  But no!  He’s got to do it all on his own.”


Briggs arrived and heard Blair talking.  He knocked.


“Come in!” Blair shouted the words. She turned to see Briggs enter. “Oh sorry, didn’t mean to yell.”


“Blair, are you alright? I thought you had someone in here when I heard you talking. Is everything okay?”


Blair pushed her hair behind her ear and took a deep breath. “It’s fine.  You said on the phone that you had information about the possible mob story we talked about..  Were you able to get anything else on this O’Brien character?”


“You bet.  It seems he’s more than just the head guy here in Llanview.  Blair, he’s the head of a whole syndicate.  I think we definitely have a story.  The public needs to know a mob syndicate is setting up shop in Llanview.  The fact that O’Brien is here in town means he’s got something big planned.  If we stir up enough dust, he might rethink his plans.”


“Good, that’s what I want to do.  See what else you can find on the man.  We’ll start with him.  I’m sure he’s determined to stay behind the scenes here but we’re going to turn the spotlight on him.”  Blair went back to her desk.  “I want our best reporter on this.  Let’s start stirring that dust.”


“Will do, but we need to be careful.  Blair, you’re talking about getting up into a mob boss’ face.  It could be dangerous.”


“Good, I need something to take my mind off this situation with Todd.  Danger and controversy never stopped him and it won’t stop me either.” She turned to her computer.  “Send me everything we’ve got so far and I want to see what Bo and the LPD are doing, too.”


Briggs looked at Blair.  He wanted to ask about Todd but it was clear Blair didn’t want to talk about him.  “On it.  I’ll send it to you shortly.”


Once Briggs left, Blair reached for her phone.  She started to ring the hospital then paused.  “Don’t do it.  You know he’s fine.  Just breathe.  You know you can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do, he’s the one who has to make the next move.” She put down the phone and turned on her computer and began to work.


****


Larry was thorough, he pulled up Todd’s x-rays during the examination so he could get a clear picture of everything that had been done.  The extent of his back injuries and subsequent surgeries showed everything had healed properly, but when he ran his probe down Todd’s left leg there was still little if no response.  He could tell by Todd’s expression of disgust that he was disappointed the leg was not cooperating.  “Todd, I’m going to help you roll over.  I want to take a look at your lower spine.”


Todd laid his head on his arms.  “I’m not sure what you’re looking for Doc.  Dr. Sanchez said everything was healed and she should know since she was the one who put me back together.”


“She did an excellent job but when I looked at all your X-rays and I noticed something from an earlier injury.  I want to see if I’m right.” Larry pressed down just below the nerve bundle at the base of Todd’s spine.


Todd jerked as excruciating pain went through his back and continued down both of his legs. “Gahhhhhhhhhhh What the hell Doc?”


As soon as Todd jerked, Larry stopped pressing.  He had found what he was looking for. “Easy, Todd.  Obviously you felt that.  The pain will lessen in a couple of seconds.  I need you to just stay still, we don’t want it to move.”  Larry reached for a marker and put a mark on Todd’s back so he could find the spot again.


“Don’t worry Doc, I have no intention of moving.  Talk to me, what did you do and just what don’t you want to move?”


“I’ll explain shortly but first?” Larry ran the probe down the back of Todd’s left leg which remained quiet and he got no reaction from Todd until he hit the sole of his foot.  He smiled as the foot reacted.  “Did you feel that?’


Todd was stunned. “What just happened?”


“I’m guessing that’s a yes. Good news, Todd, I think we’re going to have you back up on both feet sooner rather than later.  I know you’re probably tired of cat scans and MRIs but if you’ll bear with me, I’d like take another scan of your back.  When that’s done, I’ll tell you what I found.  What do you say?”


“If another scan gets me on my feet, go for it.  Hell, it’s not like I can just walk out of here as I am.”  Todd laid still on the table absorbing everything that had just taken place.


An hour later, Todd was back in Larry’s office looking at the latest scan of his back.  His older scans were up on the light board next to the new ones.  “Okay, well that doesn’t tell me anything.  They both look the same to me.  But something you did has given me feeling in my left foot.  What’s going on?”


Larry reached up with a marker and circled a small white spot on the new scan. “That right there is what made the difference.  Todd, you had extensive injuries to your back that occurred when you went off the cliff in Ireland.”


Todd only had a vague memory of that fall so he just shook his head yes. “If you say so, but what does that have to do with now?”


“That white object has been putting pressure on the nerves leading down your left leg.  It’s my guess that that bit of calcium scarring from your earlier injury broke free and it’s been moving around ever so slightly since your surgery in Guam?’


“I don’t understand.  Wouldn’t it have shown up in previous MRIs or scans?”


“I guessing at first it was well hidden in the nerve bundle and as you healed and began therapy it began to move.  Not enough to be seen but enough to stop you from feeling anything below your waist.  Dr. Sanchez had removed all the bone fragments and everything appeared normal.  You have other scarring on those lower bones and there was no sign anything had changed where it was concerned.” Larry turned around and faced Todd. “What it boils down to is you need more surgery to remove it.  If we wait it could move again and possibly make you lose all feeling again or worse, it could damage the nerve bundle and that would lead to even more problems.”


Todd laughed.  “You’re kidding right?  I’ve been doing therapy and working for months without it moving.  Surely you don’t think it’s going to happen the minute I leave the hospital.  I just got out of a hospital.  I just want some normal time.”


“I’m serious, Todd.  It’s going to move again and I’d rather it moved because I was taking it out.  Answer me something.  What were you doing right before you felt your right leg for the first time?”


“Something  I shouldn’t have according to my therapist.  I was getting ready to leave the hospital and decided to try and get in a little therapy by myself.  I loaded the weights on the bar and then lifted myself to the bench.  I overdid it a little bit and my therapist told me I had put more weight on the bar than we were actually working on.  It was getting a little hard on me when he showed up and he insisted I stop.  As I was getting back into my wheelchair, my right leg slipped off the bench and landed on the floor with a jar. I felt it from the heel all the way up to my back.”


“So let me get this straight. You were weightlifting?”


“Well yes.  I’m in a wheelchair.  I needed to strengthen my arms and back.”  


Larry looked back at the scans.  “That’s it, it moved because of the different pressure you  put on your back that morning.   You felt your left foot because I manipulated that fragment, which is good but the fact that I was able to move it means nothing will stop it from moving again.  We need to do this today.  What do you say?”


Todd looked down at his legs.  If Dr. Wolek was right he might end up losing all feeling again.  He rubbed his right leg.  Everyday he was getting more and more sensations from it and even though he hated the brace, the few times he had been up and actually standing on the one leg had been monumental.  Now his left foot was tingling. Something he hadn’t felt in months.  There was no way he wanted to go back to feeling nothing at all.  “One night, huh?  Let’s do it.  It’s not like I have anything going on right now.  Can you guarantee I’ll get full usage of both legs?”


“It’s my belief that if we get rid of that fragment you will get feeling back.  Full mobility will depend on you and your commitment to therapy.  Let’s get you settled and comfortable and I’ll arrange an operating room.  Do you want to give Blair a call?  You have some time to let her know what’s happening.”


“I think not.  It will only worry her and she’s been trying to appear strong since finding me.  Things are still a little awkward between us.  You know, it’s the whole memory thing.  Since it looks like getting me on my feet might be possible, let’s do one thing at a time.  Fix my legs and then I can fix my memory.”


Larry had moved to his desk and was getting ready to make some calls and he paused at Todd’s last words. “Todd, you know we have no medical way to fix your memory, right?”


“Yeah, Doc.  I know.  Like you said earlier, maybe things will start coming to me now that I’m here.  It’s hard not being able to give Blair what she wants.  She knows me so well and although I like her a lot and I’m enjoying being around her, there’s still something missing and she’s hurting .  I don’t want to hurt her and lately that’s exactly what I’m doing.  This morning she wanted to come with me and told her no.  I don’t want to keep doing that.  I need to get back on my feet.  If I can do that, then I can concentrate on getting to know her all over again, memory or not.”


*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Thomas Lord: Cloaked Chapter 12

       Todd was leaving the prison ward when Blair saw him, something else had stressed him out and he looked like he needed a distraction. Blair tucked her arm around his and pulled him close. She smiled at him and was rewarded with one of his rare ones. That spoke volumes to Blair, Todd was really upset and his need to keep it from her made him try to hide it behind a smile. She had seen almost all of his various expressions during their tumultuous relationship, so she knew whatever he had found out from Kym was bothering him a great deal, but he wasn't ready to talk about it.

        "Alright I think it's time to get you some food, you're looking a little peaked. I'll catch you up on the follow up I was able to get you from some of the girls' families. Some of it was downright heartbreaking. There are a couple of girls who haven't been seen by anyone and they aren't telling the doctors anything. They keep saying they want to go back. Todd, it's so sad."

         Todd walked Blair down the hallway and as soon as they were alone, he turned and pulled her into his embrace burying his face in her silky hair. "The next time I start to walk out on you, you have my permission to shoot me in the leg. I don't think I want to exist anymore without you by my side. Keep me sane Blair." he shuddered and his hold tightened around her.

          Blair held him tight until he stopped shaking, as his hold loosened she tried to view his face, but it was unreadable. He really had been thrown by something and for now, that was all she was going to know. Even as she gazed at him, his look changed and he got that incredible look in his eyes that would send the chills down her back. His smoldering looks melted her heart and always made her feel like the most cherished person on the earth. He captured her lips and took away her breath but at the sound of someone coming down the hall, he quickly broke their hold, stopping just briefly to touch her cheek gently. Then he steered her toward the floor that Lily was on.

          Lily's face lit up as they entered the room and they noticed she was wearing street clothes. Todd had forgotten to remove his ring before entering so he noticed she seemed much more relaxed. Lily's sharp eyes picked up on the fact that her great uncle was able to see and she squealed with glee. "Ali! You can see!"

         Todd smiled and said "It's a little bit of magic I conjured just so I could see you. It'll only last for a limited time, but I hope it'll last long enough for me to also see your brother Chase. Is he coming with your grandfather and dad to pick you up?"

         Lily laughed, "Yes they should be coming soon." she walked up to him and touched his cheek and said. "I'm so glad you came to help all of us. I saw a few of the other girls and I know they are happy to be home with their families also. I had a chance to talk to them when we had a group session and I told them about you, and they told me to thank you too."

       They sat down and listened to her babble on, seeming so much better than just a few days before. Todd looked over at Blair and clasped her hand in his, giving a gentle squeeze. The door opened and Chase came walking in with Joshua, both were astonished by the fact that Todd could see. Todd told Chase it was a simple case of a magical spell that gave him the opportunity to see what young Chase looked like. He also told them what he had told Lily. He let them both know it was a temporary spell that he had to use sparingly, or he might lose its use altogether.

       Joshua had looked at Blair because he was baffled by Thomas's statement. If he was indeed in possession of something that allowed him to see, why was it temporary. Blair asked Joshua if he would like to get some coffee with her and he accepted, he had a feeling he would get the story from her if he went with her.

        Todd watched as Blair and Joshua left the room, he knew Blair was going to tell Joshua the full story and he really didn't want to think about how temporary his use of the implants was. The incident in Amos's conference room had scared him enough to know another surgery was in his future. He knew he was going to have to give up the use of the implants soon. Todd wandered out to the nurse's station and asked the nurse if he could have several sheets of paper and a pencil and then he returned to the room. He had Chase and Lily sit together on the bed and began sketching. They watched avidly from the bed until he showed them the finished drawing and then they clapped with joy at the picture he had made. He had perched them both on the branches of an old peach tree. Lily was sitting on a big branch with her skirt pulled up above her knees holding a basket on her lap, her legs dangling on either side of the branch. She was laughing as she watched her younger brother Chase hanging upside down from a branch above hers, beginning to drop a peach into her basket. Todd signed the picture Ali and told them to give it to their father when he arrived.
By the time Joshua and Blair arrived back at the room, Todd had finished two self-portraits of himself in genie gear, one protecting young Lily and another of himself looking mysterious and menacing for Chase.

        Joshua marveled at the man who sat in front of him. Thomas Lord was indeed a puzzle. He was a reporter and an artist, he was dangerous and kind. It was a shame some of his demons had robbed him of his eyesight. Blair had informed him the sight was only an experiment and that Tom was seeing on borrowed time. From his drawings, it would be a shame when the loss was once again permanent. Still, from what C.J. said, his blindness hadn't impaired him on the dock. The night of Lily's rescue, he had been blind and still outmaneuvered the men guarding the warehouse. Thomas Lord wasn't going to let blindness keep him from succeeding, that was for sure.

        C.J. walked in on the tableau of his uncle Todd performing as Ali and describing the adventure when he met C.J. and Sarah. He noticed right away that his uncle was sighted that day, but he expressed surprise when the children told him about it. It was then a simple matter of gathering the few things they had brought for Lily and they prepared to take her home.

       C.J. turned to Todd. "The police have asked me to stay handy and available to be a witness against Frank and his bunch and I've gotten permission to take Lily home for now. It seems they are trying hard not to use any of the children as witnesses so they are grateful for anyone who has had eyewitness proof these men were involved. They asked me if I knew the reporter who was there the night of the raid, but I told them no. It seems even his boss won't give him up to the police." C.J. winked and shook his uncle's hand and gave Blair a kiss, giving them the address for the Farm and getting a firm answer that they would be out soon to visit.

         Todd and Blair walked them out and headed to get a taxi back to Todd's hotel. As luck would have it their friend Emil picked them up and soon he was chattering away about all news concerning the children rescued on the docks. Todd evasively answered Emil's questions about Blair's and his involvement that night. He also asked that Emil keep the fact that he picked them up that night from the docks a secret between them. Todd tried to let Emil know it would be safer for him as well as them. Emil had nodded his agreement to that and dropped them off at the hotel.

         Todd and Blair made their way to the room. Blair insisted he rest before sitting down and writing, and she would order them some lunch. He tried to rest but soon found himself sitting back at the desk pulling up any more information he could find on Daimler. Blair, knowing it was futile to protest, sat down and pulled open her own notebook and began checking for any news from Vicki and Star. The knock on the door indicated the food had arrived and Todd reluctantly left the computer to join Blair for lunch. Daimler would have to wait.

****

        Gregor closed his phone and silently cursed. The Feds still hadn't released the Odyssey. He had a business to run and it looked bad to his legitimate business partners that the Feds had temporarily confiscated one of his ships. Uchen and his associates were looking into any possible leaks in the organization. Once they found the leak, whoever it was would be silenced permanently.

         The lawyers had been slowly sealing leaks among the crew picked up on the dock that night. As long as they kept their mouths shut, they would be allowed to live and possibly be cleared of all charges. Unfortunately, several people had come forward to the police about some of the men and it appeared they were going down for the crime. The men who had been guarding Kym and her charges deserved to be hung out to dry. Their ineptitude the night before the raid was unforgivable, and Gregor had been generous allowing them to help guard the children. Of course, even there they had failed to alert the guards about the assault force, and they had been captured quite easily.

         The capture of one of his best men still bothered Gregor. According to the lawyers, his head mercenary had been captured by an unknown party who had also managed to injure him in the process. That was a pretty good feat given Sid's battle record. Sid's report stated the man had been in Wilmington the day before and when he showed up at the Savannah site Sid and his men had captured him and had incapacitated him. They had also captured a cop. Somehow the two men managed to escape and the stranger got the drop on Sid. One of the other things Sid reported was that he thought he heard Kym acknowledge the man by name. It was that last bit of info that had Gregor upset.

          Who was the man and how did Kym know him. She hadn't known any men except those he allowed her to service and she knew her place. Kym couldn't have known the man but why would Sid even say it, if it hadn't happened. Gregor made another call, it was time he found out what happened to his daughter. A few calls later he had the information he needed. She was under a doctor's care and still being held because of her involvement with the children. It appeared someone claiming to be her uncle had insisted on the care and was also getting her a lawyer. Although he had lost track of Kym's mother, it didn't mean she couldn't have a brother out there. Was this uncle for real?

          Gregor felt his anger stirring. Kym was his to do with as he would and the idea that there was an uncle out there who was aiding her was sacrilege. First, he had to deal with Kym. He had obviously been a little lax lately reminding her of her place. That was going to be quickly remedied. His contacts had been ordered to find out what they could about this uncle and when the time was right, Gregor would deal with him. In the meantime, he had to see someone else.

          Addie had spent the better part of the morning arguing with Jack and struggling to get everyone packed. Starr had packed for her and Hope but was still a little unsure why they were traveling all the way to Paris. Starr hadn't liked the idea of leaving Tea and Dani alone to face life without Walker, but she had agreed that Jack and Sam needed something to take their minds off his death and a trip to Paris was at least a diversion. They needed to get back together with their mom. Addie was so grateful her granddaughter had such a good head on her shoulder. Starr had quickly gotten the boys organized and they were finally headed for the airport. Addie hadn't had a chance to tell Starr where they were really going but hopefully, it would all become clear in Paris.

          Gregor's limo followed the car as it left La Boulaie. His interest was purely subjective, both Blair's mother and daughter were too old for his taste. He was watching perhaps out of nostalgia. Addie had been a pretty young thing, the night he had taken her. He had been an exchange student back in those days and had worked part-time at a mental institute. He had discovered early on, that the night shift could get away with just about anything and he had started taking full advantage of all the young girls. So many of them had been left by their parents and forgotten and it had been easy to show just a little interest in them and they would fall all over themselves trying to keep your attention. There were many nights when he and Uchen had the place all to themselves. When they found out they both liked the young ones, they had formed a pact. Each would take their turn while the other kept watch for a stray nurse or Doctor.

        Gregor had been keeping watch for Uchen when he noticed Addie getting too curious at the noises coming from the room next to hers. Just before she entered the room he intercepted her and began to try and put some moves on her. She was a little afraid of him and Gregor realized he like the thrill it gave him, it was a feeling of power. He began to tease her and watched as she got more confused and frightened.

         He had distracted her enough that Uchen was able to slip out of the room he had been in. Gregor signaled him that he was going to take Addie. He wheedled Addie back into her room and began getting her hot and bothered. She was frightened by the feelings he was making her feel and she kept trying to tell him to stop but it only made him want it more. He finally trapped her and forced her down on the bed, Addie had never been with a man and her confusion only added to Gregor's high. He took her as she struggled, scared of what her body was doing, unable to stop herself. When he was finished with her, he patted her on the head and told her she had been a good girl. Then he told her she shouldn't tell anyone because they would think she was lying and punish her. Addie was one of the girls who didn't want to cause trouble so she promised not to tell anyone. After that night, Gregor switched to the more fragile girls working on their fears enjoying the high it gave him to dominate them.

         When Addie began showing signs of being pregnant Gregor decided he and Uchen should get lost before the big wigs got wind of who might have gotten her pregnant. Knowing Addie wouldn't point him out, he convinced Uchen to leave first. Then when the doctors discovered Addie's pregnancy they assumed she had been raped by Uchen. Gregor left shortly before the child was born, but he found out Addie had a daughter. Naturally, his daughter was obviously not Asian but by the time she was born, there had been a number of other orderlies let go, so they were unable to determine just who had impregnated Addie. Since Addie complained that she missed Gregor they decided to give his last name to the child to appease Addie.

        Gregor's phone rang, "Hello, ... What do you mean the Uncle is a ghost? If he's seeing her, the hospital should have a name. She refers to him as Uncle Tom, are you kidding me? I want to know who this guy is? If this is the best you can do, I'll find someone else. You have 24 hours. Get me his name!"

         This was getting ridiculous. Someone had disrupted his slave ring and now was sending messages through his daughter. The man was calling himself 'Uncle Tom', after a civil war book on slavery. Was that his way to announce, he knew of Gregor's involvement. The man appeared to have some knowledge of Kym's involvement, he was obviously trying to use Kym to get to him. Too bad he didn't realize that Kym was expendable. Still, Gregor was angry about the Odyssey still being held and if this Ghost had anything to do with that, than he had bitten off more than he could chew. When the car carrying Addie and the children turned into the Airport, Gregor instructed his driver to take him to his waiting Jet. Uchen was meeting him back in Savannah later that night, plans were being put into motion to reestablish the ring as soon as possible, his lawyers assured him the Feds could only hold the Odyssey another day. A number of the children were being moved this evening to a new port for delivery in several days. If the Ghost was their only problem and they could find no other leak in the organization then they could get back on track. If the latest shipment left on time they would know the leak was short lived and the small dent could be filled in. Then he could dispose of this so-called Ghost

***

        Blair had given Todd the information she gathered from the girls and their parents. She had been thorough and had gotten enough information to write several columns, but Todd chose to write two articles. The first was entitled "White Slavery - The Found", in it, he told of the joyous reunions of the children reunited with their families. But he tempered the joy by revealing the struggle all the children would have as they had to readjust to their lives back home. They were no longer the innocents they had been when taken, and as such their lives were forever changed. He touched on the parents who had searched and been rewarded with the return of their children. Their joy was also tempered by anger, as they had to cope with the changes in their daughters, and the frustration as they realized they could only help them so much.

         Blair sat reading the article and was amazed as she realized how much Todd empathized with the parents. He had started out sitting quietly as she began reading, then he had gotten restless waiting for her approval or disapproval and had started pacing. Something in the plight of these girls had struck at Todd's heart and she knew why. Todd's own past was driving him, although his rape of Marty was different, the outcome was much the same. His violent act toward Marty had changed her life permanently, Marty might have been able to make a life for herself, but she had never been free of the rape.

         The girls had all been changed by the training and actions they had been subjected to. The eight girls who had headed for the ship that night had all been subjects of rape although they had given themselves to it. They had been so indoctrinated and brainwashed that they had no free will anymore when it came to the act. They were performing as they had been taught. Now free of the slavers they would have to come to terms with the reality of what they had done.

          Even more devastating was the knowledge that several of the girls rescued had no families looking for them and instead of being happy to be free, they wanted to return to their captors. The hospital staff was in a quandary as the girls proved to be inconsolable and also continually tried to serve any male on the floor. The hospital had to make major changes in their nursing staff so that only women were on the floor where the girls were being treated. Blair had seen, first hand, one of the young girls throw herself at the father of another girl, she was like one addicted. By the time, the young girl had been sedated, all, who witnessed it, were in tears. The father whom she had approached had been mortified and later enraged as he realized his daughter was just barely holding it together herself.

          When Blair had told her story, Todd had listened impassively. He hadn't said much, but she had seen the sorrow and then anger play across his face. For one moment, she had even seen Pete staring at her and had known Todd was working hard to keep a firm grip on his alters during her story. She stopped his pacing as she said. "Todd this is excellent. I know you're feeling frustrated and angry at the moment, but you've done all you can for those girls. This story will go a long way to educating the public to the real story out there. I'm proud of you."

        Todd looked across the room at her remembering the early years just after he had found out about his real parents. They had been on top of the world, she had been expecting their child and he had decided to make something of a rag called the "Intruder". He had named the paper "The Sun" and had worked hard to make it a legitimate paper. She had been there, right alongside him, when they had faced the opposition of Kevin and the Banner. Sure he had done some cutthroat things to get the paper off the ground, but it hadn't fazed Blair. That was what was so amazing about her. When everyone in the town had reviled him she had been his friend. He had gotten past the hurt when he found out she played him for a fool, because, in the end, he loved her. She was his other half and after everything they had been through, that fact remained. They completed each other.

         She was trying to make him feel better, he heard it in her voice. She was concerned for him. She read him like a book and knew why this story was hitting home. That was just more proof how connected they really were. He was keeping part of the story from her and she deserved to know everything.
Nothing was going to make it easier, but if she was forewarned and the truth was revealed the way he feared, at least she wouldn't be blindsided. He walked back to her and sat down." Blair, I'm angry but not just at the circumstances these girls face. I'm angry at the man who might be behind this. I've been doing some investigation into the owner of the warehouse. He's a pretty big mucky muck in the business world, but he's got some shady ties to the Japanese mob. You were there the night of the raid. Three men boarded the ship, but they escaped capture. Two of them were Asian and one wasn't. I found out today after talking to Kym, the third man was Kym's master and boss. That man is the owner of the warehouse and to my horror, he's also Kym's father."

         Blair sat there for a moment, then Todd's words sank in. "My God Todd, are you telling me this man raped and enslaved his own daughter."

        "Yes," Todd recalled his own horror when Kym had succinctly told her story. "She was bought by him after being trained by the organization and performed as she was ordered, then he told her about their connection. Kym had no idea how to react and because she was so conditioned, she accepted it and loved him because that was how she had been trained. The whole time Kym talked I kept seeing Vicki being told how beautiful and dutiful she was by my father, all the while he raped her." his voice broke and he closed his eyes trying to erase the memory of Vicki's face the night she told him what Victor had done.

          Her eyes full of tears, Blair reached over and drew Todd into her embrace simply holding him, allowing him time to get his thoughts and feelings under control. She felt him take a deep breath and released him. As he slipped free of her hug she tenderly touched his cheek. "You care so deeply about things and only show a few of us this part of you. You're not like your father Victor or Peter and you never will be."

         He looked into her eyes and saw her love. Todd leaned in and captured her lips savoring the sweet taste then he withdrew and took her hand. "Blair there's a little more you need to know. This man I've been researching is named Gregor Daimler. I know you saw the name of the ship in the port. It belongs to his company. Daimler is here in the States according to Kym. He is very dangerous. I noted he had the same last name as you and I thought it curious at first, but Blair, Kym told me something else. Daimler told Kym he has another daughter, but his bio lists him as unattached and never been married. It's a complete long shot and I pray I'm wrong, but Blair, he might be your father."

         Blair's eyes widened in horror at the suggestion and she shook her head. "No! He couldn't be my father, it's not possible. You yourself said he's rich and powerful, according to the reports on my birth, the man who raped my mother was an orderly. They couldn't be the same man." Blair got up and went to the mirror she looked at herself and saw fear in her eyes. There were suddenly knots in her stomach. God, she thought, it couldn't be true. All her adult life she had harbored a fantasy that her father wasn't really all that bad. She knew he had raped her mother but she had wanted to believe that maybe her mother had really loved the man and that he had left the hospital unaware that he had fathered a child.  She had always hoped that one day she and her mother could have a chat about him. Her mother would tell her about their love and when Blair found him, he would welcome her with open arms, happy to meet the daughter he never knew about. Now that dream went up in smoke. If Todd's suspicions were true than her Father was as vile as his own.

         Todd walked over to his wife and held her, he knew the thoughts running through her head. She had always had a wild imagination and he knew he had shattered one of her fantasies. She turned in his arms and it was his turn to console as she cried. When she calmed down he drew her back to the bed, "Shh, I shouldn't have told you until I knew for certain. Blair, he might not be your dad. I wanted to talk to Addie before I told you anything but when Kym said she had a sister, my heart kind of sunk."

         "I know you're trying to protect me, but I can tell you think he really is my father, and it's not just because of what Kym told you is it? There is something else." Blair sat there and knew she was right. Todd's expression said it all. "What is it?"

          Todd walked over to the table and retrieved the picture and returned to Blair, handing it to her.

          She looked at the face of Gregor Daimler and knew without a shadow of a doubt she was looking at her father. She had seen that face just moments before staring out at her from a mirror. There was no denying the traits they shared but she also saw something of her son Jack looking back at her. The Daimler traits were definitely dominant in her family.  She squared her shoulders. Alright he was probably her father but she didn't have to know him and neither did her family. Suddenly it hit her, she had a half sister. A sister currently in the same situation as those eight girls. No wonder Todd had looked so devastated at the hospital. "We've got to get Kym away from him." Blair looked at Todd.

         Todd nodded grimly "I'm already working on it. We'll free her, Blair, and you'll get a chance to help her. She's going to need you."

          Blair held out her hand and he took it. "She's going to need us both.".

****

          Amos was just getting ready to shut things down when Lord's article came into the office. He proofread it and sent it immediately down to make the early edition. Once again, Lord had written a fine piece and Amos liked the fact that he was working on the public's sympathy to generate a backlash against the perpetrators. It was necessary to keep the plight of these children in the public eye if they were going to win some kind of satisfaction against their abductors. The first article had generated great sales and had made the public aware of the problem right in their own backyard.

Just as Lord had said, the local government had received all sorts of flack over the fact that they had allowed this to take place and hadn't moved quicker to stop it. Some of the local politicians had been making a number of angry calls to his office wanting Lord to back off the story and let it die. Amos had told them that they couldn't stop the write ups and if they tried, he would make sure the voting public would know which ones of their politicians were trying to cover things up.

        Amos recalled his conversation with Lord the previous day and knew Lord wasn't going to stop until the public outcry forced the slave traffickers to leave U.S. soil or be prosecuted. He just hoped the man was being careful. Lord was writing about some mighty powerful people.  The calls from the Feds wanting to know where Lord was getting his information was indicative of some high profile people getting involved with this story. Amos closed down shop and turned off his light, tomorrow was another day.

         Blair rolled over and slipped out of bed, Todd had had another rough night and she knew he was still struggling with his demons. Everything he had learned about Kym had just brought all his hatred for his own father to the front and with that came his own self-loathing. She knew the only thing keeping Todd from sinking was his love for her. Blair was determined to find a way to help him wade through the sickness that inhabited him. Victor Lord and Peter Manning were the bottom feeders and it looked like she could add another name to that list, Gregor Daimler.

         Blair shook her head, she didn't want to think of the man who had raped her mom. Blair sat down next to Todd, reaching to move his hair off his face. He stirred and looked up into her eyes. He had the most beautiful hazel eyes, they were windows into his soul. She knew so many people peered out of his eyes. Tom, Rodd, and Samuel had all seen the world through Todd's eyes even Ms. Perkins. Pete would say they all looked at the world through rose-colored glasses and only he and Todd saw the world with all its ugliness. She feared Pete was probably right. As a result, Todd struggled every day to find something beautiful to glimpse for even a moment, it was the only way he could find balance. She leaned over and kissed him."Good morning. We have a big day today and we're not going to think about work. Momma and the kids are arriving today." His eyes lit up at her words and he reached up and pulled her into his embrace.

      A short time later while Todd was getting ready, Blair admitted the bell boy with breakfast and opened Todd's copy of the Savannah Herald. Thomas Lord's story was on the front page. She read it once again and noted that Amos had left it intact. She felt proud that Amos thought the article needed no editing. Todd was an excellent reporter and Vicki would be so proud of him.

        Todd walked out of the bathroom and looked at Blair, she was still tousled from their morning love session and seemed very pleased with herself.
"What's got you so happy?"

         "I'm admiring my husband's article and feeling so proud of him. Todd, you should continue to write. When we finally do return to Llanview I think you should do some of your own reporting. Llanview needs to know what you're capable of. It's time they found out you're so much more than your past." she slid off the bed and came up to him buttoning the rest of his shirt. " People know that Samuel is an Artist, but they don't know you can paint too. You've always taken a back seat to your reporters and when you were starting out you were rough around the edges with your editorials and articles. But your writing has grown in leaps and bounds and I want Llanview to realize you're more than a rich man's son playing at being a newspaper publisher. They need to know you're a serious journalist."

         Todd grabbed her hands and looked into her eyes, "Blair, I don't really care if they ever find out. The first time I came here, I got the job to find out if I was capable of writing something Vicki would be proud of and I did. It didn't change me though, I went back to Llanview and made the same mistakes all over again. It's not what I can do that's going to make a difference with those people back home. I have to find a way to change the part in me that continually destroys my life. If I can conquer myself then I'll be able to prove I've changed to the citizens of Llanview." he smiled at her expression, he had actually surprised her.

         "You better finish dressing the Limo will be here to get you soon. I'm having our stuff moved to the penthouse suite upstairs so we'll be able to accommodate everyone," he shoved her toward the bathroom and sat down to eat, grabbing the paper at the same time. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched her enter the bathroom and smiled to himself. In reality, he was very happy that Blair was proud of his work, it felt good to be a voice for those girls and children. He knew he was treading on some nasty toes and he had to be careful not to tread too heavily. His main goal was to get them to back off and leave the States, but he wasn't sure he had enough power to do more than cause them some irritation. Still, he actively wanted to get Daimler. The man made a mistake coming to oversee the delivery this time and as long as he was in the States, he was fair game as far as Todd was concerned. Todd stood up and walked over to the picture he had shown Blair the night before. He was very distinguished on the outside but on the inside, the man was rotten to the core. Todd was going to get Kym free of him and then he was going to find a way to get rid of Gregor permanently.

****

          Cassie had watched the first group of decoys leave with Adriana and noticed that they indeed had someone following them, she snapped a picture of the men following them, making a note to send the photo to John McBain the first chance she got. Then she noticed another group of decoys exit the airplane and head off down the concourse looking for another plane. She was watching and sure enough, another group of men followed them she took a picture of them also. As planned, the crew exited the plane, and she watched one more group of men depart leaving the area, getting their picture as well. The three pictures would no doubt help the Feds round them up. Cassie had been standing at another gate so she wouldn't be connected to the one Addie and the kids were on. Suddenly she watched Addie and Starr and the children exit escorted by a flight attendant, she moved forward to intercept Addie.

         At the sight of Cassie, Addie became confused."But I thought Adriana was meeting us."

         "Addie, the plans changed slightly. If all of you will follow me you'll be seeing Blair in no time." She took Hope from Starr and led them to a special exit that took them down to the tarmac where their luggage was being transferred into a limo. They all entered the limo and it took them to a private airstrip where a jet was waiting for them. Both Starr and Jack groaned. Starr turned to Cassie. "Just what is going on. I thought we were going to Mom. Isn't she in Paris?"

         Cassie smiled, "I know you don't want to hear this, but we have to take another flight. Believe me, I'm as tired as you, but this is necessary to protect all of you. This private jet is much more comfortable than the commercial jet so the children should be able to sleep on this flight. It will all be explained by your mother when we see her."

          Jack grumbled all the way up the steps but when he saw the interior of the plane he shut up. The private jet had many amenities, and Jack soon was happily ensconced playing a game console that wouldn't interfere with the operations of the plane. Sam and Hope were fed and bedded down shortly after the flight took off and Cassie sat down to fill Addie and Starr in on what she knew.

         Starr was finally grateful for some explanations. From the moment they had entered the limo outside La Boulaie, things had taken a strange turn. A federal agent had informed them that there would be decoys that looked like them boarding the plane and when they had arrived at the airport they had been instructed to exchange clothing with one of the groups. Jack had been told they were taking the precautions because they might have been followed and Sam was told he was playing a game. They were escorted to the plane and boarded separately from the rest of the passengers so no one would see them arrive as a group. Then they had again been delayed from exiting until both decoy groups had left, in fact, they had been taken into the cockpit area, for the few minutes it took to empty the plane so that no one would see them. The Pilot and co-pilot had allowed Jack and Sam to sit in the flight chairs and the boys had been ecstatic. Now here they were flying someplace else. "Cassie, why are the Feds so concerned about us all of a sudden?"

          "Starr, ever since Todd's death, the Feds have been keeping tabs on you. They're pretty sure the killer or killers looking for Samuel have been watching all of you in the hopes you'll lead them to Samuel. Your mother wanted all of you out of Llanview, but she doesn't want Hesser's men to know where you are. So with the help of John McBain, and his friends in the FBI, this elaborate plan was put into play. Since Samuel appears to have disappeared it was feared someone might try and hurt one of you to get Samuel to come out of hiding."

           Addie looked at Cassie, "Well then, where is this plane taking us?"

          "We're going to my house in Savannah, that's where Blair is."

            "You're kidding, we just flew all the way to Europe only to turn around and fly back to the States." Starr was astounded. "Mom was that afraid for us?"

           "I'm not sure of all the reasoning behind the elaborate charade, Starr, but I think it may have something to do with your father."

            Starr looked at Cassie hopefully, "Has Mom found Dad?"

           Cassie smiled and nodded, "I believe she has. I haven't seen him, but the last time your mom and I talked, as we set this whole thing up, I got the distinct impression that your father is the reason your mom wants you all in Savannah."

          Starr looked over at Addie. "If it's true, then all this is worth it." She looked at her daughter sleeping peacefully. They might be seeing her dragon very soon.

          They all soon fell asleep and were awakened by the attendant telling them that they needed to buckle in for the landing. Starr was busy getting Hope together, when Sam said, "Mom's here. She's waiting for us. "

           Jack rushed to the window and sure enough, a Limo was waiting as the plane came to a stop. His mom was waving, standing alongside the car.

          As they departed the airplane, Starr noted that her mother was definitely happier than when she had last seen her. Cassie was right, her mom had found her dad. Starr couldn't help but feel butterflies that they might be seeing him shortly too.

          Blair was giving hugs to Sam and Jack, as Hope and Starr got to the car. She then hugged Starr and gave her granddaughter a kiss. After hugging her mother, she said,"Momma, I'm so glad all of you are here. I've been so worried since I heard about Walker's death. I'm sorry I couldn't be there for the funeral."

         Sam's little hand took his mom's and Blair looked down at her son and realized just how much he had lost recently, she hugged him tightly again and urged everyone to get into the car so they could go to their temporary new home.  It was as if a shadow crossed Jack's face at her mention of Walker's death and she knew he was hurting too. Both her boys were in need of some loving and now that they were with her she could give it to them. She hoped the surprise they had awaiting them would fill some of that emptiness.



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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Thomas Lord: Cloaked Chapter 11

         Todd left the Herald and headed for the Savannah police station. His conversation had taken a lot longer than he had anticipated and Kym had now spent almost two days in jail. Todd wasn't sure how he was going to get in to see Kym, but he had a story in mind and he hoped the police would believe him.

          Police stations weren't really his favorite places, he had been hauled into the one in Llanview more times than he could count. Still, he really needed to do something for Kym, she had gone so far out on a limb to get Lily out of the warehouse. He owed her. Todd walked up to the front desk and waited patiently for the officer on duty to give him some attention.

        The officer looked at the man standing suddenly in front of him. He hadn't even heard him come in. "Sir may I help you?" he said, the gentleman was looking about with mild interest and at his word the man looked back at him.

        "Well, I sincerely hope so. I was reading the paper and saw that you boys rescued a number of children recently, I realize this is a long shot, but I'm hoping against hope that maybe you rescued my niece. She went missing a number of years ago when she was a teenager and I promised my sister on her death bed that I would continue to look for her daughter. I already asked at the hospital if anyone around her age was brought in, but they informed me they had no one in their mid-twenties in their care. " Todd paused checking the face of the man listening to him, for now, the young man seemed to believe the story.

       "Sir, I know that we have a number of people in custody, I don't know if any women were brought in, but I'd be happy to check," the officer pulled up the arrest records for the night of the raid and came across four females."Our records show we have four women under arrest."

       "OH, this is dreadful. I'm afraid to ask, are any of those women in their twenties?" Todd should have gotten a little more information from John. Of course, now that he thought about it, they probably had used other women to take care of the smaller children too.

       "Yes, there is one."

         "I know I'm asking a lot but for my sister's sake is there any chance I could see this young woman. You can search me and everything, I just want to see if she could be my niece. I realize it's a long shot."

         "I don't see anything in her booking that says she can't have visitors. I guess you could see her. I'll have the guard bring her into a holding room and you can see her there, mind you, the guard will be present." the officer made a call and directed Todd to the holding room.

         Things were going well, it had only been necessary to talk to the one officer and he hadn't run into any of the men he had seen in the warehouse that night. It seemed strange to be standing, waiting to see a prisoner. Usually, he was the prisoner being seen. Todd heard the door behind him open and prayed that Kym would be the woman they brought to him. He turned and saw, with relief, it was her, but she didn't see him. Her eyes were downcast and her whole attitude was one of quiet subservience. She allowed the guard to take her to a chair and sat there silently looking at the floor.

         Kym was terrified, it had been two days since she had been arrested along with the rest of the crew holding the children. The police had been a little rough at first and Kym had found herself at one point offering herself to one of the detectives, unable to stop the urges so deeply trained into her. It was only after they had pulled her off, that they had realized she was also a victim. They had then turned her over to a female detective who had tried to get her story, but Kym had been afraid to say anything for fear her master would hear and retaliate. She knew how vulnerable she was in the jail. Her master had his spies everywhere.

        When they told her, a man had come to see her she was sure it was a representative of her master. She continued to look down knowing they expected her allegiance and silence but deep in her heart she wished her visitor could have been Tom. She had hoped he would come see her the day after the arrest, but he hadn't, and she knew it had just been wishful thinking on her part that he would care what happened to her.

        Todd walked over to the table and keeping in character exclaimed "Oh my god, is it you, Kym?"

        Kym looked up startled. It was Tom. He was looking at her and once again she wondered how he was doing that. It really didn't matter, blind or not, he was actually there and she wasn't dreaming.

        Before Kym could say anything Todd said, "Kym it's me your Uncle, dear I've been looking for you for some time. I just heard they have you under arrest but don't worry I'll see what I can do to help. I made a promise and I intend to keep it."

        Kym looked into his eyes and saw his resolve, she wasn't sure why he said he was her uncle, but if he wanted to call himself that she wouldn't complain. "Uncle...Uncle Tom is that you? I can't believe you're here. I never thought I'd see you again."

        Todd smiled and reached across the table to pat Kym's hand. She had taken his cue and that would help in the days to come. He could now continue to visit and get her a lawyer without making anyone in the police station suspicious. "It's alright Kym, I'm not going anywhere. It's not your fault and I know they must have done terrible things to you, for you to help these people."

         Kim looked at his understanding eyes and broke down crying. Once again, he had touched her heart. She sobbed, her face buried in her arms, unable to stop the flood tide that had been held back ever since they had arrested her.

         Todd gently stroked her hair letting her cry. He looked over at the guard and said. " Isn't there something you can do to help her, surely there's been someone checking her out." She was so distraught, Todd was afraid for her. "As her uncle, I insist you get her some help."

         "I'm sorry sir, I can't leave the room." replied the guard.

         "Damn it, this isn't some hardened criminal in danger of escaping, this is merely a young woman caught in a trap for many long years. Get her some help or I'll sue this police force with all the money I have. If you can't leave the room, call out the door, but get some help!" Todd had never been able to stand seeing Blair or Starr cry, and he especially hated to see kids hurt. Kym might look grown up, but she was simply a child forced to grow up much too fast. " Shh Kim it will be okay, you just need the proper help. Please, you need to calm down, you'll just make yourself sick."

         The guard, finally realized the girl was nearly hysterical, he went to the door and alerted another guard to get some medical help. When the department doctor arrived and tried to check her out, Kym flipped out and grabbed onto Todd begging him not to leave. Todd was completely knocked for a loop, it had never occurred to him how fragile mentally she was. She had been their captive for probably a decade or better and then she had agreed to help him. She was very near a breakdown because her mind was telling her two different things. One was to not talk or do anything that would harm her master and the second was wanting freedom from the awful things she had had to perform for her master. When she helped Todd, she had betrayed her Master and now she was feeling all the guilt they had drilled into her over the years. It was burying her and she was unable to process that she didn't have to feel guilty. Her master was the one in the wrong, not her.

        Todd pulled her into his arms tightly, giving her support and at the same time keeping her immobile so the doctor could give her a sedative. She never even felt the shot. Todd and the doctor laid her on the table until a stretcher could be brought to the room. Looking at the doctor, Todd said. "Will you see that she gets some help, she was as much their victim as the children were. I'll be back to check on her and the next time I'll have a lawyer with me." Todd was allowed to go with her to the jail infirmary, he was informed that she would be removed to the prison ward at the hospital that evening. Todd walked over to talk to her as she started to come around from the sedative."Kym, I want you to follow the doctor's instructions, it's important. Do you understand?"

        Kym nodded at him and a tear rolled down her cheek as she watched him leave. She had prayed he wouldn't abandon her and he hadn't. She recalled the woman she had seen in the warehouse and felt such envy. Tom was such a good man if only he could have been hers.

****

       Todd left the police station after making sure that Kym was on her way to the hospital. He cemented his position as her uncle before he left so he would be allowed visiting privileges. As he was getting ready to depart he noticed a couple of very distinguished Asian gentlemen headed in, they were obviously the lawyers, Amos' source had spoken about. He needed to find out more about the Yakuza connection. Had the lawyers been sent by them or the Daimler Corporation? It really didn't matter at this point, he knew some major money and power were behind the organization and it wasn't going to be a walk in the park to get the head of the snake.

       Todd returned to his hotel and went to the laptop he had set up. He pulled up a list of high-powered lawyers in the state of Georgia. He would need one of the best to get Kym out of trouble and away from her bosses. After making contact, he set up an appointment to meet with the attorney and discuss Kym's case. It was very important that he got Kym out from under the influence of the people who were running things.

        He reached over and looked at the file sitting next to the computer. Opening it, he looked at the picture of Gregor Daimler. Daimler was probably pretty upset about the recent turn of events that had his ship being held by the government for transporting human slaves. Todd looked at the picture and got a queasy feeling in his stomach. There was something about his eyes, that reminded Todd of Blair. It was one thing if this was the man who had raped her mother, Blair had long ago figured out she was better off not really knowing her father. Still, if she were to find out her father was behind a human slave organization, it would probably tear her up inside. He knew how he had felt when he found out what Victor was really like. Todd put the photo away, knowing he had to find out soon if Daimler was related to Blair. If he was, and Todd could prove his involvement in the slave ring, Todd would move heaven and earth to keep Blair from finding out the truth.

        Todd felt a chill run through him and realized he hadn't taken his next dose of medicine and had let himself get stressed earlier at the Herald. He grabbed the bottle and took the next dose and decided to lay down while he waited for Blair to return from Cassie's. Taking the ring off he laid it on the table next to the bed and closed his eyes giving them a chance to rest. His thoughts drifted to the story he had told Amos and slowly he fell asleep.

         He was being wheeled down that damn hallway once again. The ornate doorway appeared and Todd found himself facing Kipling standing grinning with glee. He watched as that hated black hand pushed the switch and his body arched in agony as the implants began their dissection of his memories. All he wanted to do was escape, but it was impossible, he was trapped in that chair, with a body too broken to move of its own volition.

         The scene shifted and he was in the lab, but this time he was standing over a man cowering in fear. Todd watched a small electronic device somehow crawl up Hesser's arm making it's way to the top of his head then it began burrowing into Hesser's skull and as Hesser screamed Todd began laughing, but it was with Peter's laugh. The laughter began echoing through the room in cadence with the screams coming from Hesser. Todd tried to stop the sound coming from his mouth and then he watched in horror as black ooze began coming out of Hesser spreading down from the top of his head and covering him, slowly creeping towards Todd.

        Todd began tossing and turning on the bed, caught up as the covers tangled with his body.

        Suddenly he was bound hand and foot, laying in utter darkness. He couldn't see and he heard children crying in the distance and he was trying to get to them, but he couldn't get free of his bonds. Try as he might, the more he struggled the tighter his bonds became, cutting off his air. He couldn't breathe and he knew it was only a matter of time before all was lost. Who had tied him? Why couldn't he get loose, the children needed him?  In the darkness, he suddenly heard the cry of a girl. She sounded like she was in the throes of passion, but then she would sob.

        As if someone had turned on a light, he saw a strange tableau in front of him, she was just a child but she was begging the man to hold her and take her. The man had no face, he merely reached down, grabbed her and took her savagely. He turned and left her without another thought and a second man entered the room. She crawled to the second man and once more offered herself to him. The man began laughing and Todd flinched as the man's face turned familiar and helpless to stop him, Todd watched as his father Victor took advantage of the young girl. Todd struggled once again to free himself. He couldn't allow his father to hurt any more little girls. The room began to darken again as the laughter escalated. Todd heard a strange high-pitched sound and as his vision started to fade he glimpsed it crawling up his leg, it was headed for his heart, he was getting weaker from his bonds, he screamed but heard nothing. Everything was black, he could no longer see it but he listened to it getting closer and then it began to dig in.

          Todd woke up screaming. Then he doubled over as the pain in his chest made him sick. God, this couldn't be it. He reached toward the nightstand and opened the drawer pulling out the pill bottle given to him by his heart doctor. He was struggling to get it opened when Blair came in the room. His hand was shaking so bad he watched as the bottle flew out and rolled to her feet.

         Blair realized as soon as she entered that Todd was in trouble. When the bottle landed at her feet she grabbed it up, quickly extracted the pill, and rushed to Todd's side, giving him the tablet. He fell back onto the pillows, his breathing labored. "Todd, you hang in there. It can't be time yet."

         Todd reached over and took her hand, he had no strength to do anything else. He lay there as the pain in his chest lessened. Deep down he thanked God, the pill appeared to be working. With the pain easing up, he gazed up at his wife and whispered. "You're right, it isn't time yet." She sobbed and gently kissed him.

****

      Carlo was laying in his bed reading the news from Llanview. In some ways, he was grateful to Kipling for breaking his legs. It was certainly cushier to be in the prison ward at LLanview hospital than with the general population at the county lockup. The downside was that he had to look at Kipling most of the day. Even though they now both hated each other's guts, he and Kipling had been discussing the turn of events that had brought them both to this prison ward. No matter how hard they tried neither could figure out how they had ended up in Kipling's lab. When John McBain had appeared, Carlo had known he better tell his story before Kipling had a chance. He had started talking but hadn't been able to stop, before he had known it, he had blurted out his whole scheme. Even if he had wanted to stop, he couldn't, something inside him told him to tell everything to McBain. After he had told McBain his story, Carlo had sat there stunned and listened to Kipling spill his guts too. Now they were both claiming that they had been coerced into the confessions.

        Unfortunately, neither had a leg to stand on. They had not only told McBain, every cop standing in the room that morning had heard their confessions. Word had gotten to him that his partners were in hiding, but that hits had gone out on both Samuel Toddman and Todd Manning just two days after the feds had started rounding up Carlo's crew. The prison ward was one day behind on the news and Carlo had just read about Todd Manning's death. Carlo smiled knowing that one less witness was out there.

        Still the man Carlo really wanted dead appeared to still remain elusive. As of yet according to Carlo's grapevine; Samuel Toddman, the real Todd Manning, had disappeared the same morning as their arrest. Carlo had seen the old newspaper where Vicki had put out a plea for anyone to help as they searched for Toddman. So far, even the feds had been unable to find him. Carlo wasn't surprised. Toddman had proven to be an even bigger puzzle then Carlo had first suspected. He and the original Manning had butted heads a couple of times and each had managed to inflict damage on the other. Carlo had been taken aback when he and Kipling had delivered a man named John Doe to the Philadelphia Hospital; only to have that man wake up and instead of being a blank slate, had declared he had a name. They had both wondered who the hell was Samuel Toddman.

        Toddman had left the hospital and had somehow managed to leave the country. If it hadn't been for his portrait of Blair, he would still have been unaccounted for. Carlo had been wary of the man after that and had kept an eye on him. Unfortunately, Carlo's impostor, the recently dead Manning, had started to unravel. After discussion with Kipling, they had decided to keep a more vigilant watch on their guinea pigs. Then Blair Cramer had gone looking for the artist of a portrait given to her by her late husband. That had led Blair to Paris and she had found Toddman. Carlo had thought all was well when Blair left Paris without Toddman, then he found out that Toddman had fooled them all.

        Somehow the Feds found him in his little estate in the Cayman Islands and had returned him to the states. When Carlo realized Toddman was no longer in Paris but Llanview, he had been convinced that Toddman had gotten his full memory back but when Toddman made no play to get back everything Manning owned, it had given Carlo hope the implants might still be functioning properly. After he had escaped federal custody he had decided to remain in the states to keep an eye on Toddman. He had even approached him a couple of times but each time he had found himself talking to an artist. Toddman had given no indication that he knew his real identity and so Carlo had left him alone but the more he watched the guy the more he had wondered if Toddman wasn't playing him. Carlo had finally decided to just take care of the problem and had ordered a hit on Toddman. He didn't find out the hit was unsuccessful until the morning of his arrest. To top everything else, not only had Toddman disappeared but his assassin had disappeared too.

         Carlo lay back in the bed, The doctors had told him he was going to have to have a number of surgeries to repair the crushed bones in his legs. As such he was going to be in a wheelchair for a considerable amount of time. There was also some concern he might lose his right foot because they couldn't keep the circulation flowing there. Carlo swore he would find the person who had broken his legs. Then both his assailant and Kipling would pay.

        As he lay there thinking he heard someone approaching his bed. Carlo opened his eyes to see an orderly approaching.

        "Mr. Hesser, I've been ordered to take you down for some more x-rays on your right leg." The orderly waved a hand and the officer on the ward came and helped the orderly to move Carlo to the wheelchair.

        Carlo didn't say a word, it was highly unusual to be taken for x-rays twice on the same day. Something was up. What was even more unusual was that a guard only followed them to the x-ray lab and didn't go in with him.  "Perhaps you could tell me who ordered this test?" he asked the orderly.

      "I ordered it old friend." said the man who walked from the shielded room.

       Carlo looked up in surprise at the gentleman standing in front of him. "Gregor, when did you get here?"

       "I've been in the states for a couple of months and figured it was a good time to come visit my friend. Things are a little hot at headquarters so I'm keeping a low profile." Gregor pulled a chair over and sat down facing Hesser. "I've been informed by your lawyers that with the death of Manning, they think they can get the charges dropped due to your state of mind at the time of the confessions. We're pushing to get everything thrown out because Samuel Toddman has disappeared and without him, they no longer have an eyewitness to the experiments. Your Mr. Toddman is rather good at being invisible. My people haven't managed to locate him either."

       Carlo nodded. "I'm not surprised. He eluded my men from the get go. Even though he had no memory of who he really was. The man has a steel-like resolve for survival and he's very good at hiding. Believe me, I underestimated him and now I'm here and he's managed to dismantle one very profitable venture. We need to be careful, Gregor if you find yourself on his radar and he doesn't like you, he'll find a way to wreak some more havoc. What's this about things being hot at headquarters?"

        "We've had an incident. Several shipments were intercepted by the Feds. We've sustained a million dollar loss of product and to top everything else my ship is currently in the hands of the government. Luckily they are not going to be able to keep the ship in custody much longer. We had to relocate several of our shipments to other locations rather quickly when word came to us about the raids. Our other partners are currently working on silencing any personnel who have mistakenly decided to cooperate with the police." Gregor stood up and began pacing. "It was a little too close for comfort. Two of our partners and I myself were almost caught. I'm very grateful to Uchen, he's always ready for any eventuality and an escape off the ship was engineered by his people."

        "So you're hiding low up here until things quiet down where, Gregor?"

        "I was overseeing things in Savannah recently. We got hit in both Savannah and Wilmington. It turns out a crusading reporter managed to stick his nose in our business. and he got the police to listen. At the moment he's untouchable because he's too high profile but we've got his name and if he makes any more trouble he'll be taken out."

        "So one reporter managed to take out both ports. That seems highly unlikely. My guess is someone in the organization leaked the news and this reporter ran with it after getting wind of the raid. It's been my experience that most reporters are too wrapped up in their own egos to care about social plights. You should probably be looking into our own house for the source."

        "You could be right, Carlo, I'll order an investigation into our employees to see if we can figure out the mole. Well, I'm off for now, Carlo anything you and Kipling can do to make it seem like the police were the ones who forced those confessions will be helpful to your case. I need your strong right hand to keep our Asian partners from getting the upper hand. Uchen, in particular, is chomping at the bit to get more control."

        "Before you go, Gregor, I'm dumbfounded you haven't talked about your daughter. Have you managed to see her while you've been in town?"

        "Carlo, you know I don't discuss her. I understand she's looking for her husband Toddman. You should have informed me about their marriage. Victor's son could have been an asset at one time. But he developed a conscience. Which is too bad, he had a very promising future when he started out. As it is, he's on the opposite side now and, therefore, fair game.

****

       The following morning, Todd was back to his old self, much to Blair's dismay. He wasted no time getting ready to go out to try and get additional info from Kym at the hospital, it was also his hope to talk to some of the families of the girls still at the hospital. He was hoping to get information from them on the steps taken to find their daughters and to get individual reactions. Blair tried to warn him it was a very delicate matter and she reminded him, he wasn't one to use kid gloves. That's when he came up the idea for Blair to interview family members while he chatted with Kym. At first not too keen on the idea, Todd talked her into it by pointing out she knew what it was like to have a daughter missing and she would be able to empathize with the families.

        Todd headed to the prison ward at the hospital and Blair found out where the eight girls were being treated and went to that floor. Stepping out of the elevator she soon figured out the exact location of the girls because of the reporters hanging around. It didn't take her long to realize the reporters were doing exactly what she had been afraid Todd would do. They were barraging the families with questions any time a family member left the room of a girl. Blair went and found the doctor who had treated Lily and Todd and with the doctor's help, the floor was soon clear of the reporters. Everyone was very appreciative of Blair's help and she explained that her great niece had been one of the girls taken so she understood what they were going through. Before long she was talking to them like their oldest friend.

         Todd had reached the prison ward and informed them he had permission from the police to visit his niece. He walked toward Kym's room grateful that the hospital did provide some privacy for the patients in the form of separate rooms. They had close circuit cameras keeping watch of the prisoners but no sound which was just what Todd needed.

        Kim heard the footsteps of someone nearing her room, so far no one from the organization had been to see her and she was grateful, but each set of footsteps always raised her level of anxiety. She looked up to see Tom enter her room and before she could stop herself, she ran to him and hugged him.

        Todd hadn't been prepared for her hug and found it a little uncomfortable, but he knew she needed it so he stood quietly just patting her shoulder for a few minutes, then he extricated himself. He slowly pulled out of her embrace and taking her hand, he led her back to the bed.

        Kym had realized the moment she hugged him that he was uneasy and it was with sorrow that she let him pull away. He looked a little worn and she wondered if he was alright. Remembering he was supposed to be her Uncle, she went back to the bed and waited for him to start the conversation.

       "Kym, how are you holding up? Are they treating you okay here?"

        "They've been very kind Tom, I'm seeing a doctor to help me with some of my feelings, It's hard for me, I want to please them but they tell me what I'm trying to do isn't good for me and so I'm surrounded by females to take away some of the pressure to please."

        "Have any Corporation Lawyers been to see you yet?"

        "No one so far, but I'm not sure they know I'm here. The men would be the first they would try and get out. I'm not a danger to them so I'll be the last they worry about."

        "You're more of a danger to them than they realize so I've got a lawyer coming later this afternoon to talk to you. I need to ask you some important questions and I hope you'll be able to answer them. Kym that first afternoon on the dock, I overheard you tell Frank that your boss wouldn't be happy with him if he delayed you from your errand. Was your boss in town when you said that?"

         Kym looked at Tom apprehensively, "Tom, I'm not sure if I should answer that, I'm not even sure if I can answer that. He's my master and I would be betraying him."

        Todd didn't know how far he could pressure her, but he had to know if her boss might have been one of the three gentlemen who had managed to escape that night. "Kym, you do know he can't hurt you anymore, you're free of him. Why are you protecting him?"

        Kym began to cry softly, she wanted to tell Tom, but she was afraid. Her master had many eyes and ears, she had seen how far his reach was and she didn't want Tom getting caught in the cross hairs of one of her master's assassins. "Tom, you don't understand, I'm not afraid for me, I'm afraid for you. Only two people know of your involvement the other night, Sid, and his friend. They don't know your name but if they did, I'm sure you would already be dead. My master and his partners have a lot to lose and you already cost them a bundle. I'm grateful for everything you did that night and what you've done to help me, but I won't be responsible for getting you killed."

         Todd was stunned. It had never occurred to him that she was reluctant to help catch her master because of him. There had to be some way to make her understand that if he was caught then he couldn't hurt anyone. Besides he was pretty sure they already had Thomas Lord on their enemies list."Kym if you think you're protecting me let me put your mind at ease, anything you tell me won't endanger me. Your bosses already know my name, I'm a reporter and my story is already published. For now, they'll be working on damage control but they'll keep my name.  Luckily they don't know what I look like.  As far as Sid and his friend are concerned they know me by sight but no name. They probably think I'm affiliated with the police."

        "But Tom that just makes it worse, it's hard to explain my relationship with my Master, I've been him for so long."

         "Alright don't get upset, but I have a picture I'd like to show you, maybe you could tell me if you know this gentleman." Todd reached into his pocket and pulled out the picture of Gregor he had printed out. He unfolded it and handed it to Kym.

       "Papa! It can't be, why do you have a picture of Papa?"

        "Kym, what are you saying, is this man your father?" Todd was horrified.

        Kym looked up into Tom's face, she could tell he was upset, she looked back at the picture of her master and father, he was a man she both loved and hated. How could she explain Papa to Tom? "Tom, where did you get this picture?"

         Todd gathered his thoughts. If he told Kym he suspected the man in the picture to be the one behind the slave ring, it was tantamount to accusing her father. "Kym before I answer your question, I need to know why you called that man Papa? I don't want to hurt you, I just want to help you."

         Kym nodded, Tom said he didn't want to hurt her but she was worried what he might do if he knew the truth about Papa. She had seen him with Sid and knew he was capable of great anger. If he went after Papa, someone might get killed. He hadn't killed Sid, maybe he wouldn't kill Papa."Tom, I'll tell you, but you must promise not to go after him. I'm afraid if you try, one of you will die. I don't want anything to happen to you but I can't let anything happen to him either."

         Todd's heart sank, he knew what she was going to tell him.

         "Papa is my master and also my father," Kym stated it quickly and continued with her explanation before Tom could say anything. "I was taken from my mother when I was just entering puberty. I hadn't known my father and my mother would only tell me he was someone she met at her first job. She worked for an embassy and he was an attache for his country at the time.  They had a fling and then he was sent back to Germany. She said he left for Europe before she could tell him about me." she paused watching him, but Tom merely stood and listened, not saying a word.

         "When the organization grabbed me, they shipped me to Europe where my training commenced, I learned quickly that in order to survive you did as you were instructed and soon I was following their commands to the letter, I realized I could give pleasure and if I did it well, I would be treated okay. I worked hard to be one of the girls that the men wanted. Then they informed me I had been bought and that my new master was to receive me that very night. I was very eager to meet my new master. I knew every way imaginable to please a man and I wanted to show off my new skills.  They took me to a fancy hotel and up to his room, as instructed I didn't look at my master and then my handlers left us alone. My master ordered me to strip and I obeyed without question. Then he stood in front of me and ordered me to my knees where I was instructed to please him." Kim's voice caught as she recounted all that she did to her master.

        Todd felt like he was a bit of a voyeur as he watched Kym's face light up with rapture as she told her story and then he felt such pity for her because all her pleasure with the act was a lie. A lie she had been taught to believe and accept as the only true way to enjoy sex. She had never been loved for herself, she had merely been a tool for someone else's gratification.

         Kym told how her master had finally lain with her and had told her a secret that night. "He held me in his arms and said he was proud of me that I was an excellent pupil. I thanked him and told him I was there to please him. That was when he told me, I was his daughter and I had pleased him very much. I remember being happy that he thought of me as his daughter and it wasn't until later that I realized he meant it. I was young and very impressionable and although I had just had sex with him, I was having sex with my master and didn't think that was wrong. It was only a little later that I realized that my relationship with him wasn't normal but by then I was in love with him. My father had made certain that there would never be any children produced between us. One night he let slip that I had a sister, but I don't know if that was true or not. What I did get from that statement was that she and I were the only children he had. When I reached eighteen my father began using me to keep his guests entertained and another young girl took my place in his bedroom." Kim stopped, she remembered how hurt she had been when her father had begun giving her away to his friends, of course, she had done as told because she had been trained that way. Over the last few years, she had seen her father for the beast he was, as she had been sent to begin training other young girls in the arts of seduction and teaching them how to please their masters. That was when she had started to hate him, but whenever he came to the states and sought out her company she immediately reverted to the daughter who would do anything for him as she looked for any sign of approval. Her love for him was sick, but it was love all the same.

          When Kym had stated matter-of-factly that her father had had sex with her and then informed her, he was her father, Todd had almost gotten sick. He kept having images of his father Victor taking his sister Vicki under the pretext that she was his beautiful daughter. His father had been a pedophile and it appeared Gregor Daimler had gone one better than Victor, not only was he a pedophile but he was also a rapist, a pimp, and a slave trader too. When Kym had mentioned a sister, Todd's heart had sunk because he was almost positive now, that Blair was also Daimler's daughter. He hadn't wanted it to be true. Blair had always been so strong, it would kill her to find out what her father was really like. Todd found his breathing increasing and knew he was beginning to hyperventilate. He made a quick excuse to Kym and stepped out of her room, he had to get his emotions under control everything was beginning to get a little overwhelming.

         He was leaning against the wall outside the room trying to slow his breathing when a nurse came to his rescue and recognizing the symptoms got him something to breathe into. As his breathing slowed and his color came back she offered him a drink of water and told him if he wanted to sit down for a few minutes he could, but Todd thanked her and told her he had just gotten shaken by what his niece had told him and that he appreciated everything she had just done. Feeling he could face her, he returned to talk to Kym for just a little longer.

       Kym looked up in relief when Tom reentered her room. When he had left so abruptly she had been worried he wouldn't return. She feared he had found her story so repugnant that he wanted nothing more to do with her. She took note of the fact that he looked a little pale but otherwise seemed alright.

        Going straight to Kym, Todd reached out and took the picture from the bed. He had to know if his suspicions were true, from everything she said, Todd knew Gregor was aware of the organization, hell, he had procured Kym from them. What he needed to know now was if Gregor was one of the major backers of the organization and if he was one of the three men that John had reported missing from the boat. "Kym I have to know. Was your Papa at the warehouse that night? A simple nod or a shake will suffice." He could see her hesitating and he went and stood directly in front of her and cupped her head in his hands. He looked into her eyes and said. "Kym, if he was there, then we'll at least know he's in the States. I know you feel something for him, but you have to know he needs to be stopped if he has anything at all to do with this ring. The rest of the children need your help. So will you tell me?"
   
         She couldn't help herself, the gentleness of his voice and the touch of his hands were her undoing. All she really wanted was for him to take her into his arms, but she knew that was a fantasy. Turning her head ever so slightly in his hands she gently kissed his palm and as he released her head she nodded her answer. All her life she had only loved one man and that had been so wrong. She loved her father. But having met a man who knew how to treat women like something more than property, she realized her love for her father wasn't really a good love. The love she had seen between Tom and his woman at the warehouse had been something very deep. She had been envious that night, wishing Tom had looked at her the way he had looked at the other woman.

        Todd got his answer after he had released her head. Kym's nod telling him that Gregor was in the United States. He had seen something else in her eyes that made him feel sad. Kym had fallen in love with him. Her simple kiss had said it all. He had also seen resignation to the fact that her love was one sided. A simple "I'm Sorry" seemed so inadequate at the moment, but he said it with as much feeling and understanding that he could. He prayed that one day Kym would find a love like he had with Blair. It wasn't yet time to tell Kym about Blair or visa-versa. He still needed to check with Addie to make sure his guess was correct.

       "Tom, what will you do now? "

        "I'll be giving the information to a friend I know so they can try and find him. Kym, I intend to get you free of him no matter what. Now whatever you do, don't tell the attorneys from the organization anything. The attorney working for me will be here later to discuss your case, his name is Andrew Franklyn and he's one of the best attorney's in Georgia. I believe you can trust him. Kym, I have to leave now. But I'll return soon. Listen to your doctor and Mr. Franklyn." Todd turned to leave, but Kym grabbed his arm.

         "Tom, I'll be fine, but you really must be careful, going after Papa is dangerous, his friends are powerful and mean."

          Todd was well aware of Daimler's friends and if possible he would try and stay out of their way but he wanted Daimler, and when he wanted it bad enough he usually found a way to get it. "I'll be careful Kym, I promise."


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