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Thursday, July 27, 2017

Memories Unlocked #33

Chapter 33


Todd felt a shift in Blair’s demeanor when he kissed her hand. He let it go and looked back at her.  “I’m sorry, that was a bit presumptive of me.  Here I’ve been holding you at arm’s length and then I go and do something like that.”


Blair look at him even more surprised. She rushed to reassure him.  “Todd, it’s alright.  I didn’t mind it.  It’s just that it isn’t something you would normally do.”


“Oh.”  He didn’t know what else to say. He was trying to figure out his relationship with Blair, and when he had kissed her hand, it had felt natural.  Trying to change the subject, Todd rolled to the window and looked out.  “This is quite a view.  So this is the Manning Building.  Do I own it?”


“Yes, you bought it when we were first married.  It was a gift to me.  My company Melador had a lease in this building which was owned by Asa Buchanan.”


“Let me guess?  That old man didn’t like you and was giving you grief.  Having met him, I’m glad I did it.  So was The Sun part of the deal?”


“No, The Sun is your baby.  You found out you were Victor Lord’s son and wanted to show the Lord family and everyone in this town that you could leave your past behind and make them sit up and take notice of you.  You were determined to make this paper the best paper in town, usurping The Banner.  You succeeded.  To this day, The Sun still manages to top sales in town.”


“And Melador?”


“When I lost you in Ireland, I asked my Aunt Dorian to watch over it so I could keep The Sun going.  It was your legacy and I wanted Starr to know what her father had left her.  It made me feel closer to you.  Melador just got lost with all my energy going to keep The Sun afloat and waiting for Starr to arrive.”


Todd looked at Blair, he heard the regret in her voice.  “I’m sorry.  Seems like you lost a lot for me.”


“Don’t be.  To me, the only thing that mattered was hanging onto something that you loved.”


“After what I did to you and Jack, I’m surprised you didn’t run this into the ground.”


Blair looked away, “I hated you for that, but I couldn’t let The Sun die.”  She moved up alongside him and stared out the window.  Wanting to change the painful subject she pointed across the way.  “Do you see that building over there?  That’s where the penthouse is.  I remember the day you showed it to me. You wanted to buy it and even though I hesitated because Asa’s wife owned it, you were determined.  You stood in that window and looked at this building.  You were so excited.  You pointed out that Asa had owned this building and I hadn’t minded that.  I had to admit you were right.  So we bought it from Alex.  We were so happy then.”


“I owned a penthouse?”


“You still do.”


“Hmm, I’ll have to have Williams take me there.  It would certainly be quieter than the Palace.”


“Todd, I thought you were going to come live with us.  The workmen will be arriving tomorrow to begin making the necessary changes to accommodate your situation.  The Penthouse would need work too.”


Todd shifted in his chair.  His back was beginning to hurt but he had no intentions of letting Blair know about the surgery. “Umm, about that.  Blair, I’m just not ready to make that move.”  He needed to have his own place so he could work on his therapy.  “Look, the workmen can prepare the penthouse instead.  Once they are finished, I can live there.  There is no reason you should have to worry about me and The Sun, too.”


It was as she had feared.  Todd wasn’t ready to commit to her and the children.  “I had hoped that you would come and work here with me again, like we used to.”


“I doubt I would be much help.  I can’t remember the first thing about running a newspaper.  Look, I know you wanted more.  I’m staying around.  I do want to get to know you and I would like to spend time with the kids if you’ll let me,” he reached out and took her hand again.  “Blair, this whole situation and this town, it’s all a lot to take in, and in the middle of it all is my therapy and the hope that I might regain my legs.  I need to do this my way.”  


His way.  Why did he always have to be so stubborn?  Well she could be as stubborn as he was.  He said he wanted to get to know her.  Then she was going to drive him crazy.  “Fine, we’ll do it your way. but just know I’m going to keep you to your promise.  Before I’m done, you’re are going to know me in every sense of the word.  Do you understand?”


Todd saw a glint of something in her eyes that touched a spark in him.  Deep down he knew she meant every word.  God, he had to get back on his feet.  She deserved a whole man, and he knew in that moment that he wanted it to be him.  


Blair waited for Todd to say something and when he just stared at her she got uncomfortable.  She remembered all the times he would look at her and not say a word. “Stop that.”


Todd looked surprised. “Stop what?”


“Staring at me.”


“Why?  I just like to look.  You’re beautiful, especially when you get worked up.”


Blair felt flushed and her heart fluttered. Damn the man, he always found a way to keep her off-kilter.  “Just stop, okay?  First, you say that you want to keep your distance and then you say something like that.  I…” Frustrated, Blair turned and walked back to her desk.  


“Blair, I’m,,”


“Don’t say it.  I’m fine.  Let me finish a couple of things here and then I’ll take you to the penthouse..” She looked over at Todd and saw him wince as he shifted in the chair for the second time in the last few minutes.   For the first time she realized he was also a little pale. “Todd, what’s the matter? You never did tell me what happened with Dr. Wolek “


“It’s nothing really.   The doctor wanted to run some new tests and I guess with all the poking and prodding I’m just a little sore that’s all.”  Todd sat up a little straighter to ease the surgery site and then found himself rubbing his right leg.  The pins and needles had stopped but  now he was experiencing the same dull pain he had when his arms were healing.  That discomfort along with the pain in his back was actually making him feel a little sick.


Blair could tell something was off. “You don’t look so hot.  When was the last time you ate?”


Of course. Todd, you’re an idiot. That’s why he felt so bad, he hadn’t eaten since early morning. “It’s been awhile.  With all of the tests that Dr. Wolek wanted to run, I forgot to eat.”


Blair set down the file she had picked up and walked over to Todd. “I’m surprised at you.  It’s not like you skip lunch.  Larry should have known better than to run all those test and not remind you to eat when he was finished.  Come on, let’s get you something and then we can go by the penthouse.  Who knows, maybe it will spark another memory.  Just sit back and let me do the driving.”  She wheeled him out of the office before he could protest, giving instructions to her assistant on the way. “Suzanne, tell Briggs I want the first draft of the syndicate story on my desk when I return.”


Todd looked over his shoulder at Blair. “What’s so newsworthy about a business syndicate coming into town.  I would think the Mayor would welcome more big business here.”


Blair laughed,  “She probably would, but this big business is run by a Crime Family, and they’re slowly gaining a foothold is East Llanview.  As far as I can tell,the Commissioner isn’t doing much to stop it.”


“Blair, do you think it’s wise to go after a crime syndicate?  What if they decide to retaliate?”


“Todd, I’m only doing what you would do.  The Sun made it’s reputation telling it like it is. And your first fans were the citizens of East Llanview.  They have a right to know the trouble moving into their neighborhoods.  They fought hard to break up the gangs down there and having a syndicate come in and take over would be a disaster.”  She stopped pushing him.and moved to look at him directly. “Todd, you do believe I’m right, don’t you?”


“Of course I do.  Can’t say I wouldn’t do the same, but I just don’t want you putting yourself in danger.  Just promise me you won’t attract any attention to yourself while you do this.  I...Jack and Starr would hate for anything to happen to you.”

Blair looked deep into his eyes, “Todd, I promise not to put myself in harm’s way.”  She walked behind him again and began pushing his chair.  A thrill ran through her as she realized he had started to say that he would hate anything happening to her.  For the third time that day, she felt Todd’s guard beginning to drop.  He was starting to feel something, if only his memory would return.  Even though he still had a lot of bad things to remember, she was sure his love for her would outweigh those events.  After all, Sam Vance did say that Todd got on the raft to come home to her.


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 5


       Larry knew the discussion was over, “Listen, Todd, I can only advise you at this stage. I think you need to consider all your options. But I know you, so you’re free to go home, still, you should listen to any recommendations Michael makes. If the problem is physical, Michael is your best bet.”

      Todd was waiting for Blair to say something after Larry left, but she didn’t get a chance as John walked into the room.

      “Hey man, can’t you stay out of this place?” John looked at the scene in front of him. At first glance, Todd appeared okay, but looking more closely John noticed Todd’s edginess. His hands clenching and unclenching, the way his lips were pressed together, and the sheen of sweat on his brow, all suggested distress. “Blair tells me you wanted to talk. What can I do for you?”

      “John, I know you captured Hesser and Kipling, but you should know they have partners. I need you to listen and not judge what I’m going to tell you. I know that those same partners have put out hits on both myself and Jake and in the near future they will succeed in killing Jake. I can’t tell you when but I can tell you it will be by sniper fire through the windows at the Sun.” Todd could tell John was skeptical, but he had to make him understand. “You probably think I’m nuts, but will you just remember I gave you a warning. When word comes in from Interpol in the next day or so about the hits, will you do something to protect him."

      John was at a loss. Todd was serious. There was no mistaking his sincerity, but how on earth did he know about any hits. They had just caught Hesser and although his organization was big there had been no indication that more people had been involved, yet here was Todd talking about partners. “Hold it, this is the first I've heard that there were partners. Where did you get the information? What did you mean when you said Jake was going to be shot at the Sun?”

       “Chalk it up to my sources, John, I can’t give you any more than that but it’s true. About Jake’s death, well I’m trying to stop that. I’ve told you how it’s going to happen, you‘ve got to help me prevent it, no questions asked."

        “Todd, I‘ve never been one to believe in fortune telling and you’re asking me to believe that you already know how Jake is going to die and you’re trying to stop it. What kind of game are you playing at? For that matter why would you try and stop it, you don’t like the guy. He stole your life for eight years.”

      “You’re right, he did steal my life but through no choice of his own and we’ve decided to table our differences because of the family. My kids love him and he’s married to Tea, I can’t just stand by and watch him die. I sure as hell don’t want Bo and Nora looking at me as a suspect if he’s taken out. Besides I’ve got some problems of my own to iron out and worrying about Jake is adding to them.”

       Todd didn’t elaborate, but John caught the look that passed between him and Blair. “Okay Todd, I’ll tell you what, if I get a call from Interpol I’ll give serious thought to the rest of your story. Whatever brought you in here, I hope it doesn’t keep you from testifying.”

        “John, I’ll testify against Carlo and Kipling or die trying.”
             John raised an eyebrow at that statement especially when he heard Blair’s shocked gasp. It was obvious now there was a lot more going on and hopefully, someone would bring him and Bo in on it before it was too late. He shook his head, he had been around Manning enough to know that Todd wouldn’t talk unless he was ready too, and whatever was bothering him, he preferred to keep to himself right then. John started to leave and bumped into his brother, from the look on Michael’s face this wasn’t just a visit. He turned and stared at Todd, who met his eyes but said nothing. John looked over at Blair, but her eyes were only on her husband and fear was on her face. If Michael was involved, it wasn’t a good thing, and John doubted he would get anything out of his brother because of patient-doctor confidentiality. The only way he was going to get anything else was if he did get that call from Interpol. Maybe it was time he jump-started the whole thing by making some calls of his own.

           Michael had arrived carrying copies of Todd’s latest scans and he placed them on the light board. “I’m sorry I couldn’t get here any quicker. I’m glad you’re awake Todd, I know you already know about these implants, in fact, I understand you told Larry and Ray about them. I also know you’re afraid you're going mad because of how you know about them. I here to try and ease your fears on that matter.”

       “How Michael? Are you suddenly an expert on dreams?” Todd looked skeptical.

        “No Todd, but I do know brain injuries. In the last several months, you’ve experienced two significant injuries. One was to your right temporal and occipital lobes courtesy of the implants and the other to your right frontal lobe. All of these lobes are involved with your dreams but the first two are considered the dream center area and on top of everything else, that is where your fragments are. I’m hoping that if we remove the fragments, your dream will become just that, a dream. If not, then something else is in play. I want to go ahead with surgery, but you need a little more time to recover from the other surgery. The shock to your whole system and subsequent coma from the bullet in the head needs a little longer to heal.” Michael could tell Todd didn’t want to hear he had to wait. "I know the dream is a source of anxiety for you and I’ve talked to Larry. I really want you to consider the medication to help you sleep.”

        “Michael, you don’t understand. The dream is starting to take over my waking hours too. Neither you nor Larry can guarantee I won’t dream, and every time I do, I feel like I’m going to be stuck there permanently. That place is someplace I don’t want to be. You are aware that things from the dream are starting to be found and take place here. There are things in that dream I don’t want to happen here.  If they do, my worst nightmare will come true.” Todd looked at Blair and all he could hear was her last line as Gregor took her away. It the dream was merely some kind of foretelling of the future he didn’t want it. The outcome of the foretelling was the loss of Blair. It the dream was the reality, and this was merely a dream then it was even worse because that meant he had already lost her. So he wanted this reality and he wanted the dream to stop being real. Michael said that might be accomplished by the surgery, but it was too soon for more surgery. Todd slammed his fist down on the tray his frustration getting the better of him.

        Blair jumped as Todd’s blow was totally unexpected but the minute she saw his face, she realized he was barely containing his anger and the blow was the only way for him to vent.

        Michael too recognized the frustration eating away at Todd and knew his desire to be free of the dream outweighed the risks for him. Michael couldn’t allow the surgery just yet, Todd’s overall health had to be considered. “Todd, I know this is a letdown. You were hoping to get the fragments removed immediately. I merely wish to wait a couple of weeks. We’ll get it on the schedule. With any luck, your body will have fully recuperated and it will be a walk in the park. Naturally, if you experience more symptoms then we’ll operate immediately. Todd, you need to stay positive. It could mean all the difference the day of the surgery. Blair, keep him distracted, it's probably the best medicine for him at the moment.”

      Todd looked at his wife and smiled as she blushed at Michael’s words. He had to admit the idea of being distracted by her was definitely an upper.

       “Larry and I agree there is no more reason to keep you here any longer, go home and try to get your life back on track. By the way, I would prefer you use that ring sparingly. I’m not sure what kind of effect it’s having on your body, but we don’t want to take any chances there are more negative effects than positive ones. We have no idea how it’s really working and that alarms me. Before I go could you take it off, so I can look at your eyes.”

      Todd removed the ring and Michael checked his pupils, noting the lack of movement. Todd then returned the ring to his finger again and Michael noted the small spark as the ring came into contact with Todd.

       “Does it spark like that every time you put it on?”

       Both Blair and Todd nodded.

      “Fascinating. It’s still in contact with the implants inside although I couldn’t tell you how. I’m sure a micro tech scientist would find it positively enthralling to take the implants apart and figure out how they work. You told Larry you have to keep the implants within a certain range of each other. May I ask where the second implant is.”

       Todd removed the watch and handed it to Michael, then watched as Michael moved away from him.

       “Todd if I’m correct I would guess I only have to walk out of this room and you’ll lose your sight.”

       “You’re right Michael, so I’d rather you didn’t take it from the room. If you would like to check, have Blair walk it out while you look at my eyes.”

        Michael handed the watch to Blair and checked Todd’s vision as it disappeared the minute she left the room. When he called her back in, he watched as, like magic, the eyes cleared up and functioned normally. “Okay, you made a believer out of me. I understand they found a number of implants when Kipling was captured. If we could determine exactly how they’re helping you, we might be able to enable more people to see. Of course, that depends on if they cause no more harm to you. Larry said Ray told him you were again experiencing headaches similar to those that knocked you out before. Is this true Todd?”

      Todd debated lying, then figured Michael needed to know. “It’s true, but I just figured it was a migraine, because of the surgery to repair the damage done by the bullet.”

      “Except the pain receded when the ring came in contact with the back of your head. Ray said there was a blue spark that lit up the car for a second, is that true?”

      “Yes it’s true, that’s why I informed them about the implants, I’ve already had this surgery recently in my dream. Do you really think I want to experience it again? I can tell you one thing, if my dream is a foretelling, you better be ready to perform this surgery at the drop of the hat because it will probably be necessary sooner than later.”

       Michael frowned, “Why do you think that’s going to happen, I haven’t seen anything to make me believe there is any danger to you, Todd. I know you had some muscle trouble earlier, but it was probably just a random event. Keep me informed if it gets worse.”

       “I’m just saying, don’t leave town. Michael, I would also like you close by for the trial if you don’t mind.” When Michael started to ask why, Todd’s face became inscrutable and he said, “Just humor me okay.”

       Michael nodded, now a little more concerned than when he had walked into the room. Todd was basing his request on something only he seemed to know about and he wasn’t going to elaborate any further. If there was something about the implants that was imminent Michael wasn’t sure it was a good idea to wait after all. “Todd, are you telling me everything?  You sound like the dream is giving you information I ought to have.”

       “If all of you are to be believed, my dream is just a dream and I shouldn’t place too much store in it. Let’s just say I’m taking precautions just in case there is something to the dream. Now, you said I could go home, so that‘s what I’m going to do. If anything happens between now and the surgery you’ll be the first to know.” Todd reached over and took his watch band back from Blair and put it on. The little shock had been strangely comforting but even Todd wasn’t a fool, he already knew the catch that went with the ring. He just wasn’t ready to give the sight up yet so he would hang on to it for as long as he could.

        Blair watched Michael leave and knew Todd was going to leave without the prescription. She spoke up quickly before she lost her nerve. “Todd, I know you’re trying to avoid the dream and after this morning I’m not sure I want you having the dream again either. Larry and Michael both think if you can get some good sleep, you might be able to weather the mental strain the dream is putting on you. For my sake wouldn’t you please reconsider taking the medication.”

       He could see her concern, but if he gave himself over to sleep because of the pills, he feared that would be the last he saw of her. At the same time, Todd knew they wouldn’t have suggested it if they thought it would harm him further. The doctors believed the sleep was necessary so his body could handle the surgery and he already knew, thanks to the dream, that the implants needed to be removed. Todd took a deep breath and calmed his nerves. He had to try the medication for Blair and himself even if he feared the sleep would be less beneficial than they all hoped. “Very well Blair, we’ll give it a shot. I’m already at the end of my rope. Either I let go and leave this and everybody behind or I stay and fight. I’m going to stay and fight.” Blair smiled tremulously and gave him a hug and they departed the room stopping at the desk to pick up Larry’s prescription before heading home.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 4

      She looked beautiful standing there above him. He never got tired of looking at her. “Hi. We’ve got to stop meeting like this. My wife can be jealous at times.” He reached up and moved a stray hair to the side of her face.

      Blair leaned over and kissed him, but pushed him back down on the bed when he tried to get up. “Hold it right there, Mister. You’ve run yourself into the ground since you got out of the hospital. This is the result. We need to talk. Why didn’t you tell me about the dream?”

      Todd closed his eyes, all happy thoughts out the window with that one comment. “I don’t want to talk about it.” Everything that had happened the previous day came flooding back and Todd fought the urge to curl up and disappear. He was in the hospital, and according to Blair’s comment when he woke up, he had collapsed in the parking lot. That meant Larry had had plenty of time to run his test. “Give it to me straight, the reason you’re not letting me out of this bed is that I need another operation for the damn implants, right?  When is Michael coming?”

      Blair was taken aback, Todd sounded so angry and the scary thing was he had hit the nail on the head. He knew, without Larry telling him, that the implants were inside him and he was resigned to the surgery, no questions asked. “Todd, I’m sorry. Don’t be angry, I want to help you. Michael will be in shortly, I’m still having trouble understanding how you knew before everyone else.”

     “It’s simple Blair, I knew because of the dream. I can’t stand this. There are things happening I have no explanation for but one, and I’m scared Blair. “

     Todd had always held his emotions very close to the vest and rarely allowed anyone to see his vulnerabilities. For him to admit he was scared meant that something bad was going on. “Whatever has you so spooked can be dealt with. I think you just need to get your mind back on matters in front of you. Yes, you need another operation, so we’ll get it over and you can start recovering properly. Bo called. They caught Hesser and Kipling. We’ll get you well so you can testify against them for everything they did to you, and then you can get back to your life.”

      “Damn. Blair, you need to call Tea and Jake. Warn them that Hesser’s partners have put out a hit on both of us. He should be extra careful from now, until the trial.” Todd kept hearing John tell both of them of Jake’s death by sniper fire. “I’ve got to let John know, maybe he can find a way to stop it.”

     “Todd, what are you talking about? What do you think John can stop?” Now she really was confused. Why on earth did Todd think there were hits on him and Jake? Christian had been taken care of. He wasn’t making any sense. No wonder Larry and Ray were worried.

      “Jake’s death,” Todd answered.

       Blair was stunned.  Where the hell had that come from? She looked at Todd. Was she hearing correctly? “Okay, are you sure you’re feeling alright? What did you mean Jake’s death? Why would you even say that?” Todd just looked at her and Blair felt a chill run through her. He was dead serious. Oh God, had Jake died in the dream? Todd had dropped his eyes and was fingering the ring, it was like he had forgotten she was there. “Todd, explain what you meant. Todd?” Blair waved her hand in front of his face and got no reaction. This wasn’t good.

      Todd was lost in his daymare.  He was back at the hotel with John and Blair following the raid on the warehouse. He sat there as if a ghost watching it play out again.

     “John, what’s going on? Todd gets off the phone with you and all of a sudden he’s dropping me at Cassie’s and telling me to pack. What happened?”

     Todd held out his hand.”Blair, come here. Jake was killed”


      “Oh my God, how,” Blair asked John?


     “Hesser’s partners succeeded this time. He was killed at the Sun. Bo knows I came looking for Todd. He asked me today If I found him and I let him think I hadn’t. That’s when he informed me of Jake’s death.”


      “The children, we need to get home to the children. They’ll be devastated. Todd, you should rest, I’ll pack for you.”


      “Whoa Blair, I’m sending you home with John.”


      Todd shivered in reaction as the scene changed and the vision blurred to a solid gray as he heard:

       “Todd!... Let go of me you Monster!...Todd, they broke in shortly after you and John left, they brought us all here.”

       “Leave them out of this Gregor, this is between you and me.”


       “Todd, don’t worry about us, you need to get out of here he intends to kill you. I love you. Always remember that.”


         “Manning get down!”


         Todd’s whole body suddenly seized, as his body felt the bullets impact and he fell into darkness.

         Blair had hit the call button, when she couldn’t get a response, then screamed as she saw Todd jerk suddenly and collapse back on the pillow.

        Larry had been at the nurse's station when the call light lit up. He entered the room just in time to see Todd convulse and pass out. Immediately he felt for a pulse. It wasn’t Todd’s heart, the pulse was high but not dangerously so. His examination of Todd”s eyes showed little to no response to light, even though he was wearing the ring. “Tell me what happened Blair.”

       “I’m not sure. Todd, can you hear me? I need you to give me a sign you can hear us.”

         There was nothing to indicate that Todd was aware of the things going on around him. Larry wondered if he was caught in his dream. “Blair, this is very similar to sleepwalking, are you sure he was awake.” Larry had heard of people having waking dreams, but usually, it was in the context of their actual life. Todd, on the other hand, was experiencing a life that for all purposes wasn’t real except to him. The problem was, parts of that unreal dream or life were manifesting themselves into his real life.

       Todd began to moan and then they heard him say, “I shouldn’t have let her stay but sent her home with John? This is my fault. You hear me, God? Don’t let him harm her. I can’t do this anymore. Go ahead and take me. I’m half dead now, just finish the job.”

       He fell silent and Blair looked over at Larry. “I think I know what’s going on. Ray told me that Todd’s irrational fear is losing me. He said something about Todd’s last thoughts in the dream are of someone taking me and shooting him.“ She reached over and took Todd’s hand. “I think he might be reliving that again, but that’s impossible. How can one relive a dream? Memories I understand, they really happened, but he didn’t actually live what he’s been dreaming. How can things, that he saw in a dream, be happening? It’s uncanny. Is there some way to wake him from this?”

       “Blair, talk to him. I think he might be close to waking up. If he hears your voice he might snap out of it on his own. I really don’t want to give him any more drugs.” Larry again checked Todd’s eyes and noticed a little reaction to the light. “Come on Todd, Blair’s here and safe, come back to her.”

       Blair put her hand on his cheek, stroking his beard, “Hey you, this is getting old. You need to wake up, I hate talking to myself.”

       “Yes but I love hearing your southern accent,” Todd said, his eyes focusing on her. “Sorry didn’t mean to scare you about Jake, I’m just worried.” she flung her arms around him and hugged him like she was afraid to let him go. Todd patted her shoulder awkwardly, he knew something had happened but he couldn’t quite remember what. Then it came rushing back in a flash. “Oh God, I was there! John was telling me about Jake’s death and you were refusing to come back home. Why did I ever let you talk me into staying?” he pushed her off of him so he could really look at her. “Thank God you’re alright. I was sure Gregor had taken you from me permanently.” Even as he said the words to her, he realized his mistake. He wasn’t in Savannah, he was in Llanview, and Blair had no idea what he was talking about. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Why had the whole scene seemed so real? It wasn’t just his imagination. He opened his eyes looking for Larry. “Why is this happening to me?”

       Larry dropped his eyes, he wasn’t sure how to answer Todd. There were possibly two causes for this and neither was good. One was that Todd was headed for a major breakdown and the other was the manifestations were caused by the brain damage from Christian’s bullet. “Todd, we’ll talk to Michael, he’s the one with the expertise regarding brain injuries. If it’s something physical, well, hopefully, it can be rectified.”

      “But if it’s mental, then I’m screwed.” Todd wanted to hit something. He realized he was still holding on tightly to Blair and released her. “I’m right aren’t I, you and Ray both think this is mental? I’m finally losing it for real. Well, you better figure out a way to stop this, because I’ll die before anyone puts me in St. Ann’s. I didn’t fight my way back here to end up a blithering idiot.”

      “Todd I didn’t say it was hopeless, we’re all working very hard trying to figure out how to attack this problem and all I can tell you to do, is be patient and work with us.”

      Todd looked at Blair and said, “Find Michael, I want to go home, and get John, because whether you believe me or not Jake is in danger”

      Blair looked at Larry and he nodded so she left to try and find Michael.

     When Blair left the room, Todd looked at Larry “I can’t stop it and it’s taking over my life, but it’s not just taking over my resting moments, it’s starting to intrude on this reality. Can you tell me how a dream is doing that?”

     “Todd, I wish I knew. I think whatever is happening will become clearer but we need you to stay positive. I want you to start dwelling on the good things around you. Your state of mind is part of the key to breaking this dream cycle. You also need to sleep, so I’m going to prescribe something that will put you into a deeper sleep and hopefully keep you from dreaming at all.” Larry could see Todd getting ready to protest. “ I know you’re afraid the dream won’t stop, but if you don’t take care of yourself it won’t matter, your body will shut you down anyway.”

      Todd knew Larry was right but the thought of taking sleeping pills that might bring on the dream was frightening. The whole point was to get free of the dream, not have it hang over his head like a pendulum blade ready to take him out. “I’ll consider the pills Larry, but unless you can reassure me that I’ll have dreamless nights, the answer will most likely be no.”

        Blair arrived back and said Michael was currently in surgery, but that John would be by shortly. She could tell that Todd was still upset and whatever Larry had said hadn’t dispelled his fears. She started to say something and saw Todd shake his head at her. For the time being, the topic was tabled.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Todd Manning, Enigma Chapter 3

Larry walked into the room taking in the scene. Todd looked ready to collapse and Larry found himself fit to be tied. Todd had to be the most stubborn man alive. When he had released him, it had been on the condition that he take it easy and get plenty of rest. From the looks of Todd, he had been doing the exact opposite. “So what part of, go home and take it easy, did you ‘not’ understand. You look like hell, Todd.”

“Thanks, Larry. That really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.” Todd said, then gasped suddenly when Larry began examining his hand.

“What happened?”

Todd looked over at Ray and back to Larry, “Nothing, just don’t know my own strength. I gripped the bottle too tightly and it broke. Must have been a faulty bottle.” He prayed Ray would keep quiet about the hand not cooperating earlier.

“Well, it doesn’t look like you cut it deep enough to damage it permanently. Todd, try and move your fingers.”

Todd watched as his fingers flexed and moved without any of the stiffening and lack of control from earlier. He breathed a little easier.

“Movement appears unaffected, I’ll numb it, then stitch it up. Seriously, Todd, you’re supposed to be resting. The brain injury was nothing to scoff at, and it, on top of your previous surgeries wreaked havoc on your system. I know you’re not going to like this but humor me. Let me check you out while you’re here.” Larry had noted the looks passing between Todd and Ray and it had hit him that Todd could see. “When were you going to tell me your sight had returned.”

Todd was uncomfortable, he hadn’t intended to keep it a secret. “It’s not quite what you think. In fact, I guess you could say it’s some type of miracle.”  Todd blinked and tried to block the light as Larry went to check his eyes. It was too bright and his head still felt like it had imploded.

Larry frowned at Todd’s reaction, “What else aren’t you telling me?”  Larry looked over at Ray.

Before Ray could say anything, Todd spoke up. “It’s nothing I’ve just got a migraine, it flared up shortly before we got here.”

“You should have told me that first thing. I’ll turn the light level down, but I need to look in your eyes, Todd. “ Larry dimmed his light and again looked into Todd’s eyes. Even at the lower level, Todd stilled winced when the light hit his eyes. Larry noticed that Todd’s pupils were slow to respond. Larry wrote a few things down on Todd’s paperwork. “If these headaches get worse Todd, we’re going to have to get you in for another scan. Now tell me about this miracle.” Larry sat down with Todd’s hand on a tray and went to work stitching the wound closed.

“It’s the implants, Larry. I still have some sort of connection to them. I accidentally handled one not long after getting home from Seattle and my vision cleared up.” Todd looked at Larry trying to see if he believed him. “Through some experimentation, I discovered that if I had contact with the smaller of the two implants and the bigger one remained close by, I could see.”

Todd saw skepticism on both faces so he took off the ring. Immediately his vision became a blur of blobs and colors. “Larry, as of right now, all I can see is a blob of white sitting in front of me and a blue and gray blob in the vicinity Ray was standing a moment ago. Ray if you would like to examine the ring, you’ll see the implant embedded in it.” Todd held out his hand in Ray’s direction.

Ray moved forward to take the ring from Todd’s hand, but as he started to pick it up, a tiny burst of electricity between Todd’s palm and the ring almost caused him to drop it. “What the hell was that?”

“I wish I knew.” Todd looked over trying to figure out where Ray had gone, he hadn’t realized that Larry had told the nurse to dim the lights. The darker room made finding Ray harder.

Larry had been finishing his final stitches and listening. In the darker room, he too had seen the small burst of electricity. Now he watched as Todd struggled to find out where Ray had walked to. “Todd look at me.” Todd’s eyes swung in the general direction where Larry was sitting, but it was clear that Todd could no longer focus. Larry again pulled out his flashlight and looked into Todd’s eyes but this time there was no reaction. The pupils failed to respond to the light at all. “I’ll be damned. Ray let me see the ring.” Ray proceeded to bring the ring and together, he and Larry looked it over.

There it was, a small delicate piece of machinery in the ring. Larry recognized it as the implant that Michael had taken out during the second surgery because he had seen the video of the procedures. It was the implant that had almost killed Todd. “This is fascinating, but I still don’t understand the connection. There’s nothing in you that could be connected to it any longer.”

Larry waited for some sort of response, but the silence was deafening. Then it hit him. “Todd, do you think there might still be something left inside your head?”

Todd flexed his fingers on the hand that Larry had just stitched up. No sense keeping it from Larry, he already knew the outcome. “I don’t think it, I know it.”

“I don’t understand, how could you know something like that? Nothing was found when we went in to repair the damage the bullet made. Why do you believe there are more pieces?"

Todd was still flexing his fingers when they started trembling. Todd reached with his good hand to stop the trembling, but Larry had already seen the movement. Before Todd could pull the hand away from any inspection. Larry had grabbed it.

“Hold it, Todd, how long has this been happening?” Larry began to study the trembling when the hand clenched suddenly. “Todd open your hand.”

“I can’t. I know what you’re going to say next. You think the damage from the bullet is causing this, but I can tell you it’s not from the bullet.” Todd’s hand unexpectedly opened and the trembling ceased.

“You should let me be the judge of that. Any kind of unusual muscle contractions should be checked into. This is what happened earlier that caused the broken bottle, isn’t it?” Before Larry could ask any more Todd had grabbed his hand away.

Todd had had enough of Larry’s probing. He wanted to get home to Blair, this was all beginning to come at him too fast. Holding out his hand, he said,”Could I have my ring back?" Ray handed him the ring and Todd put it on.

His vision cleared and he looked at Larry. “You believe this spasm was caused by brain damage, but I can tell you with a certainty that it was caused by the remaining implants. I know this because I already lived through a third surgery to remove them. It happened right here in this hospital. Right after I testified against Carlo and Kipling.” Todd saw Larry’s eyes widen in shock. “That’s crazy, isn’t it? Maybe, but several things have already come true. You’ll get your scan Larry, then maybe you’ll believe me. I’ve got to get out of here. Ray, let’s go.” Todd didn’t wait for any answer from Ray or Larry, instead, he walked deliberately out of the ER and headed for Ray’s car.

Once there, he leaned wearily against it. How much more of this was he supposed to endure? Why were certain things from his dream beginning to come true? Were they really parts of a dream? He looked up as he heard Ray’s footsteps. “I have to find a way to stop this Ray. It’s too unsettling. Something isn’t right, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

“Todd, get in.” Ray unlocked the door and when they were both sitting he turned to Todd. “I understand your concern and I agree there’s something going on, but it’s way too early to jump to conclusions. One thing is certain. You need to get some sleep.”

“That’s just it, I can’t.  Ray, I used to be able to sleep as long as I was with Blair, but now even that’s been taken away.”  Todd closed his eyes, leaning back in the seat and pushing his hair back. With his palms pushing at his temples trying to keep the pain from becoming too intense he continued. “I can’t get those last minutes out of my head. I had gone there to negotiate with him, thinking I could get him to just leave town and not bother his daughters any longer.”

“Had gone to see who, Todd?”

“Blair’s father.  It was scary how similar our fathers were.  The man had raped Blair’s mom in a mental hospital.  I just wanted to keep him away from Blair and her sister.   But he outsmarted me.   He had them and he took them away.  I remember getting free and trying to get away to go find them when John told me to look out but it was too late.  My last thought was knowing I wouldn’t see her again as the bullets tore into me and I fell.” Todd could see it all unfolding again. The scene never changed.

Ray listened quietly. Todd really believed the events he was recounting. “Todd, why do you think the dream is real.”

“Because it doesn’t feel like a dream, it feels like memories. If it isn’t real, how do you explain the ring and the implants? In that so called dream, Jake dies. Do you think I want that to happen but I’m afraid it’s going to? I’m not sure if I should try and warn him and Tea. How can I? I don’t know the exact day it’s going to take place, but I know how he’s going to get it.” Todd looked over at Ray, he had known that little piece of information was a doozy and Ray ‘s expression said it all. “You don’t have to say anything. I can see your face. You do think I’ve lost it.” he started to laugh it was all so absurd. Heck, he was sure he had lost it.

Todd didn’t even feel the sting in his arm. He was so distraught he never even realized Ray had given him the shot. Ray waited as it quickly took effect and Todd slumped unconscious in the seat. Larry and the orderlies had a gurney waiting and they transferred Todd to it, wheeling him back into emergency. Ray took out his phone and called Blair.

After making sure she was on her way, Ray went in to check on his friend. Right after Todd had left the ER, he and Larry had agreed they had to find a way to get Todd to sleep and the easiest was to sedate him. Ray had been waiting for the right moment when Todd had begun his tale. He hadn’t wanted to do it that way, but if he or Larry had suggested it, Todd would have balked. Todd’s health was the bigger concern and Ray would face Todd’s anger after they had him on more secure ground.

Larry came toward him and he watched Todd being wheeled down the hall. “Where’s he going?” asked Ray.

“I’ve sent him down to get scanned. We need to see what’s going on in his head. There are any number of things that could cause the tremors and muscle spasms. I’m concerned for his health but his mental state is even more alarming. We’ll keep him sedated and give his body and mind a chance to recuperate. Did he tell you how long he had been without sleep?”

“I’m guessing he hasn’t gotten more than a few hours sleep since you sent him home from the hospital,” replied Ray. “He’s convinced if he sleeps, he’ll wake back up in his dream. Just what did he say when he awoke from the coma?”

“He kept wondering about a man named Gregor and I remember he thought he was in Savannah. It took us quite a while to convince him he was here in Llanview. So you think he’s been avoiding sleep because of the dream.”

“He pretty much told me that. Larry, he’s not sure if this reality is real. The ring we just saw, was in his dream first, and you were right there when he told you there are still implants in his brain. Just before I gave him the shot, he told me that Jake Boudreau was going to die, because he died in the dream. Can you tell me beyond a shadow of a doubt that there aren’t any more implants.”

Larry frowned, “I can’t say for sure. But it’s more likely that there is a correlation between Todd’s tremors and spasms and the damage done to his brain by the bullet. The brain damage could also be affecting his perceptions right now. The scan will probably bear me out. You don’t honestly believe Todd’s seeing the future. I mean Jake’s been doing fine since his operation.”

“I guess we’ll just have to wait. Todd’s pretty convinced, and if anything else happens that matches with his dream, I’m not sure we’ll be able to find an explanation.” Ray noticed Blair hurrying towards him. He quickly spoke to ease her fears. “Blair, he’s fine but both Larry and I felt he needed to get some rest. You should have told me he wasn’t sleeping.”

“Ray, I know I should have said something but he’s done this before. When he’s anxious about something he won’t sleep. How did you get him to agree to the rest?”

“We didn’t, I sedated him but he was unaware I did it. Blair, has he talked to you about this dream of his? It appears to be paramount to anything else.”

“We talked about it when he first woke up but not since. I remember he was upset when he awoke and said something about a man named Gregor and about losing me. But he’s said nothing since then. I told you on the phone how he’s been shutting himself away in his office at home and he hasn’t told me what that’s about. Larry, where is he? You said you just sedated him. How long did you plan to keep him asleep?”

"Blair, I ordered another cat scan because he’s experiencing some problems and I want to make sure nothing new has shown up since his surgery. He’s down there now. I want him to sleep out the night so we’ll keep him under long enough for his body to recover some. I’m going to go check out those scans, perhaps you and Ray would like to come along.” Larry headed down the hall followed by Blair and Ray.

Once outside the room, Larry entered and Blair went to sit down. Ray sat down next to her. Blair was fidgeting with her purse and glancing constantly at the door. “He needed this sleep, Blair.”

She looked at Ray and pushed her hair out of her face. “I know Ray, but he’s going to be so mad. He always looks at things from a strange perspective. I know you were trying to help but he’s going to feel you betrayed his trust. Trust doesn’t come easy for him. I hope you’ll be able to make him understand why you did it.”

“I’m very aware of his trust issues, but I have to believe that he’ll be able to see the rationality behind my action when he wakes up more refreshed and able to cope with this world.” Even as he said the words to reassure Blair, Ray began doubting them himself. All he had managed to do was stave off a physical crisis. Todd’s mental state was another thing altogether. Todd’s belief in his sanity relied on Ray being able to prove to him that the dream was just a dream. Yet every time something from that dream appeared in this reality, Todd’s belief was further shaken. Ray was worried because he had a feeling deep down that other parts of Todd’s dream were going to come true. Larry came out with the scans and by the look on his face, it wasn’t good. “How bad is it Larry?”

“It’s not good. He was right Ray, there are fragments from the implant still inside. The part of his brain injured from the bullet is healing, but you can make out foreign objects scattered in a section of his brain that affects motor function. I’m about to go call Michael, Blair you can go with Todd to his room, but I’m going to order an EEG to see what’s happening while he’s sleeping.” Larry looked over at Ray, “That sedative should have put him completely out, but it’s not working. I think he’s dreaming.

Blair and Ray sat with Todd while they hooked up the EEG machine. One of the EEG technicians came in and began taking readings. After several minutes he gathered his papers and took them to be read by the sleep doctor. Ray noticed Larry outside the door talking to the sleep doctor so he excused himself and went to chat with them. While they were discussing their findings, Michael arrived. After a few words, Michael joined Blair by Todd’s bed. He explained the need for more surgery and assured Blair that it wasn’t a life threatening situation so they would hold off until Todd was made aware of it.

Larry turned to Ray, “Todd definitely has a problem. He shouldn’t be dreaming, but his beta waves are off the chart and the alpha waves are registering like he’s awake. If what you said was true, he could be reliving that dream of his as we speak. “

Ray paled at what that could mean for Todd. He had wanted a dreamless sleep for Todd and he might have just dropped Todd into his worse nightmare. He had to find a way to circumvent the dream. Blair might be his only hope since she was the one Todd was so fearful of losing. He walked back into Todd‘s room and sat down next to Blair. “I need you to talk to him. Larry and I just wanted to get him some sleep, it was supposed to be dream free but his mind has other ideas. He’s dreaming and it more than likely the very dream he‘s been trying to avoid. In that dream, he loses you. Blair you‘ve got to bring him out of that dream. “

“Ray, if you knew he was afraid of dreaming, how did you let this happen?” Blair stood up and went to Todd she grabbed his hand. “Todd, it’s alright I’ve not gone anywhere. Listen to me. I’m real, baby.” she whispered in his ear but he seemed oblivious to her.

Todd was beginning to get clearly agitated by what was happening in his dream, and the readings were all over the chart. Larry came back into the room and ordered a second dose of sedative. and the EEG readings finally leveled out, indicating he had been truly knocked out. Blair saw a tear drop down his cheek and she prayed he would wake up alright. Angry she turned to Larry and Ray. “What were you thinking.” Directing her anger at Ray, “You know why he wasn’t sleeping. Didn’t you tell Larry? When you decided to knock him out, didn’t it occur to you, he might dream. What does all this mean for Todd? What is it about that dream that has both of you worried.” Blair was furious, Todd had trusted Ray to help him. She knew she was a little over the top but Ray was truly worried about the dream and they both were keeping her in the dark.

Larry spoke up first. “Blair we didn’t expect him to dream, he shouldn’t have been able to. I can’t explain how Todd managed it, his mind just refused to shut down. The extra medication seems to have done the trick and he should now sleep without any more dreams.” Larry checked the EEG once more to keep tabs on his brain activity. “Blair, we chose to put him under because he wasn’t being rational. The lack of sleep was clearly affecting his perceptions of what was going on around him and honestly I’ll admit I thought the things he was telling us were off the wall.”

“Things he was telling you? What are you talking about?” Blair looked at them waiting for an explanation.

“Blair, Todd claimed he knew what the ring and watch looked like before you gave it to him today.” said Ray.

“But that’s impossible, I never even showed him my designs. Did he say where he had seen them? “ asked Blair.

“Yes he saw them when you gave them to him a couple days after Christian shot him.” replied Ray.

Blair looked confused, “But he was in a coma for almost two months. I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me.”

“Blair, he saw your ring and watch in his dream. Not only that but he told us about the implants too. He knew they were there because he said he already had them removed once. We were worried he was becoming delusional because of the lack of sleep. Now we’re not sure what to make of it. I can tell you this much, he’s not delusional but he’s still close to losing it. Every time something else comes true from his dream, Todd slips deeper into his irrational fear that this reality is a fake reality.”

Blair looked over at Todd sleeping. “Will getting the sleep help him Ray, or just delay what’s going on.”

“I don’t know Blair but I can assure you, I’m going to do everything I can to stop him from falling apart.”

She had spent the night at his bedside, afraid of leaving him for fear he would wake up alone. Ray had informed her about the ending of Todd’s dream and she was determined to be the first thing he saw when he awoke. She had heard from Bo that the raids against Hesser and Kipling had gone as planned and both men were now in custody. Kipling’s Lab had been quite a find, numerous other implants and case files were located, including files on Todd, Jake, and Christian. They were still going to need testimony from both Jake and Todd to tie up the case, but Bo was certain Hesser and Kipling were going away for a long time. Blair prayed Todd would be able to testify. He deserved his chance to see Hesser go down.

Todd began to stir and Blair moved closer looking down on him. She had insisted he keep his ring so that when he awoke he would be able to see her. “Hey sleepyhead, it’s about time you woke up. You just dropped out on Ray in the middle of a conversation. Ray told me to apologize for him. He never realized how boring he was until you fell asleep on him.” She looked into his eyes and saw recognition and breathed a sigh of relief.


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Friday, July 7, 2017

OLD HABITS DIE HARD Part 4

Todd stayed hidden in that closet for what seemed like forever. He hated confined spaces. He remembered how crazy he got when he got put in solitary confinement at Statesville. However, the floral scent of Blair enveloped him as he was surrounded by her coats and he felt more relaxed. He couldn’t count the number of times when just the smell of Blair’s hair put him at peace. She had that effect on him.

He could barely hear the muffled voices in his position so he pressed his ear firmly against the door to get a better listen.

John was bad-mouthing him. No surprise there. The gall of this guy to think he knew anything about his relationship with Blair. John didn’t know him. John didn’t even know Blair. He just couldn’t keep his big nose out of their business.

Shit! John just told Blair about his part in the baby swap. He could practically heart Blair’s heart breaking. He knew exactly what she was thinking. Mexico. He had thought a lot about it too. It broke his heart to think that Blair was thinking he hadn’t changed. He had! These situations were entirely different. He wanted to barge through the door right now and beg Blair to listen to him. He dealt with so much disappointment in his life. From Viki. From Sam. From Tea. But nothing was more heartbreaking to him more than Blair’s disappointment. She knew him. She knew him better than anybody.

He had to get through to her.

As soon as he heard the door close, he peeked his head out of the closet to make sure John was gone.

Blair was staring into space with her eyes red.

“Let me explain,” she said as he moved toward her.

Blair turned her eyes to him. “You got what you wanted, Todd. Now, just go.”

Blair was about to walk to the living room when Todd stopped her. He grabbed both her arms and pulled her to him.

“I’m not going anywhere. Not until you listen to me.”

“Fine. Explain.” Blair figured the quicker he “explained” himself, the quicker he would leave. Let’s just get this over with.

“I know what you’re thinking. I know…” It was hard for him to even say. “I know you’re thinking about what I did in Mexico, Blair.”

Blair really didn’t want to talk about this. She just wanted Todd to leave her alone. She tried to pull herself out of Todd’s grasp but he remained firm.

“Listen to me.” He looked her in the eyes. “I am not that person anymore. Blair, I swear… I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Isn’t it always that way, Todd? It’s never really your fault, is it?” She’s rather be anywhere but here. She didn’t want to listen to another one of his excuses.

“You really think I would have willingly done this again?” Todd pleaded with her.

Blair wavered at that. “So what? Heather put a gun to your head?”

“No…” Todd felt backed into a corner. “I just… Blair, I was lost. This whole past year… I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just…”

Blair hated herself for it but she felt for Todd. Again. She reached out and touched his face.
Todd grabbed her hand and held it to his face. He closed his eyes and just took in her touched. She was so soft. So gentle with him. No one was ever as gentle with him as she was. Why would anyone be? He was a monster. He hurt Blair more than he hurt anyone in his life but here she was trying to calm him down. Only she could calm him down…

Todd moved her hand to his lips and softly kissed her fingers.

“Todd…” Blair tingled all over. Those lips…

“I love you.” It just came out. Blair had the ability to make him spit out his feelings even when it wasn’t his strongest quality. He looked her deeply in her eyes and refused to let go of her hand. “Oh God, Blair… I love you so much.”

Blair just looked at him wide-eyed. She loved him too. Deep down, she knew she did but she wasn’t going to say. She wouldn’t dare.

This was his chance. He touched her cheek and pulled her in to kiss her. She didn’t pull back. As soon as he felt her relax against him, he opened his mouth wider and pulled her body tighter against him. He could hear her moaning in his mouth. That was a good sign.

Blair knew she should’ve pushed him away. She was planning to but… he just felt so good. She never could resist a taste. Even last summer when she was engaged to another man. Todd just dove in and she was a goner. Now, here they were, making out in the foyer of Dorian’s. Instinctively, her arms went around his head as their kisses intensified. They never had a problem when it came to this stuff. This was the easy part. It was everything else that was hard.

Speaking of hard…

Blair just felt him start to grow through his pants against her hip. She had to stop this. She pulled back and caught her breath. “This is not happening,” she murmured as she wiped her mouth.
Todd followed Blair into the living room. There was no way he was going to let her run from this.

“Blair…” What was he going to say? Blair was a tactile creature. He had to play it right. One wrong word and he’d be on his ass outside of Dorian’s again. One right word and he’d be back in her arms again. He just said what he was feeling, something he rarely did.

“Run away with me.”

Blair whipped around to him. Of all the things she was expecting him to say, that was not it. “What?”
“Run away with me,” Todd’s confidence infinitely grew with Blair’s reaction. She wasn’t yelling at him. She wasn’t pounding on his chest. She wasn’t throwing him out. She just stood there, waiting for him to explain. “I need to go. Blair, I… I need to go now.”

Blair furrowed her brow and tried to take everything in from the last 2 minutes.

Todd stepped forward and lowered his voice. “I need you. I need you with me.”

“I…” Blair was stunned. “Todd… where?”

Todd couldn’t contain his smile from that. She wanted to go with him!

“Doesn’t matter.” It really didn’t. Todd learned years ago that home was wherever Blair was.
When Blair started to shake her head, Todd grabbed her face with both hands. “I just… I need to figure things out. I need to fix this. I need you to be there with me.”

Blair realized her mouth was dry. “What about the kids?”

“Addie can watch them. Look, it’s not forever. It’s just for enough time for us to figure something out.”

“Us?” Blair said in the slightest hope.

Todd smirked. “It’s always been you and me Blair. You know that.” He said that to her the last time they were together. Really together. And he meant it as much then as he did now. There’s been no one else in his heart. “I can’t do this without you.”

Blair’s heart always betrayed her. Even after John’s warning and months of her own head’s assertions to never let Todd back into her heart, all she wanted to do in this moment was jump into his arms and go. Maybe she was weak. She was weak for him.

“I don’t want to be hurt again.” Her eyes were begging him to say what she wanted to hear even though she wasn’t sure she would believe him.

“I don’t want to hurt you, Blair. Never. I just want you.” Todd walked over to the other side of the living room and opened the patio doors. “I have a car. I have money. I have a jet. We could go 
anywhere, Blair. Just you and me.”

Todd lifted his hand and extended it to Blair. “What do you say?”

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