“I got suspended at work,” she said.
“Because of me?” he asked after taking a long, satisfying sip of his drink.
“No, because I held a gun to Javier Perez’s head in RJ Gannon’s apartment,” she said defiantly.
Angry, Todd flung the glass across the room, the amber liquid splattering on the mantle.
“Why did you wait to tell me?!” he demanded of her, knowing full well Perez was Téa’s kidnapper.
Sophia crossed her arms and glared at her secret lover, not quite expecting the reaction she got.


Todd and Sophia faced off, each suddenly pissed at the other.

“She still gets to you doesn’t she?! She’s dead and she still gets to you…!!” spat Sophia crossing her arms and giving him attitude.

Todd’s voice was controlled but his tone was cold and his words deliberate.

“I last Téa Delgado two months ago. And I was…in love…with her,” he paused stressing the words “in love”, words that didn’t come easy to him, “The night before that bastard kidnapped her…we made love. So it hurts Sophia – it hurts deeper than you could ever know. And to think that prick put his hands on her – abused her – kidnapped her – for what or who I don’t even know. I don’t even know how she knew the bastard. But I will avenge her. You get it Sophia?! I am sick and tired of piss-ants like Perez stealing shit form me. The stealing stops here and now and I’m going to take hat’s mine – including my revenge on that bastard!!”

Sophia snarled, “And the whole world revolves around you?! I put my job on the line by sticking a gun to Perez’s head and I don’t even get a “Geez, thank you, Sophia?!” I’m put on AUXILIARY duties while the commissioner investigates what I did and you know what? It doesn’t look good for me because I was going on CIRCUMSTANTIAL evidence!! I’ve got no proof the bastard kidnapped little miss goodie two-shoes, no, what I did was TRESPASS into RJ Gannon’s apartment and put a gun to Perez’s head for KICKS…!!” rambled Sophia giving Todd his attitude right back at him.

“Waitaminute…!! You found Téa’s kidnapper in Gannon’s apartment?!” interjected Todd.

“Yeah,” said Sophia caught off guard.

Todd grew even colder. His face snarled.

“Gannon. It was Gannon…” he spat realizing RJ Gannon was behind his troubles. No doubt Gannon was bitter and upset about Todd running away with Téa. But did Gannon mean for his ex-lover to be…hurt like so? Certainly he couldn’t have wanted that to happen? Could he?

“Well dollars to donuts RJ’s involved with Perez but proving his involvement is going to be a little tricker,” said Sophia. The light put off by the moonlight caught the fire in her eyes.

Finally Todd looked directly at her, catching that fire in their reflection, “I wouldn’t worry about your job.” He said softly. He wanted to reassure her that despite putting her job on the line for him, he did appreciate it. Once again, Sophia Pellegrino had proven herself to him and to his surprise, he was grateful. And it dawned on him he felt something for her, he just didn’t know what.

Sophia couldn’t believe his gall Who was he? This job was the only thing she had going for her! She couldn’t afford to lose it – financially or emotionally.

“You bastard Todd Manning! After all I’ve done for you to casually tell me not to worry?! Are you going to make my rent payments? I will not go back to the shelter or…or…to the way I used I live…! You go to hell Todd Manning!!” cried Sophia and boldly with haughty arrogance and pride, she stormed out of the den and left by Llanfair’s front doors, brushing past Viki and Ben as they walked in.

Todd was shocked. Didn’t Sophia know he would take care of her? He had the money and means to do so.

Viki and Ben got between the door and Todd. Ben got in Todd’s face.

“What did you to do to her?!” he grunted.

“Get out of my face,” hissed Todd.

“Sophia’s a good kid Manning. If you hurt her…” continued Ben while Viki looked on.

“Try this. Get the FUCK out of my face,” said Todd. He was pissed. He wanted to go after Sophia.

Ben raised his hand to strike Todd but Todd was quicker and blocked the strike, forcing Ben to stumble back.

“Stop it…!” hissed Viki.

Todd paused in front of Viki, “You’re my sis. And I appreciate what you’ve done for me Viki but I ain’t no one’s patsy. Not anymore. I am through taking shit from people who don’t have any business giving it to me. Next time tell your boy toy to think before he provokes me.”

Ben cowered next to Viki who watched her brother walk out the door.


Sophia was gone. Too much time had passed. It was late at night and to his surprise he found himself by Téa’s newly placed grave marker.

“I think I’ve figured it out. Gannon was pissed at you. Or me. Us. He found Perez who you obliviously knew and Perez kidnapped you. Threatened the people you loved. But something’s gone sour between them – don’t know what but I promise you I’ll prove Gannon’s behind what happened. I’ll get even Téa, I swear it. I’ll get Perez. I’ll get Starr back, I’ll get my paper back and my penthouse. I’m taking back what’s mine. I just wish I could take you back too.”

“Sophia Pellegrino. You know her? She’s been loyal to me Téa. Like how you were. I…I…like her. I made her mad. I don’t want her mad at me…” Todd’s voice drifted off as he looked up from the ground and blankly stared off into the distance finally interested in finding out about Sophia’s past. And as he stood there, emotional tears began to flow from his eyes.

Tomorrow he’d pay a visit to Perez as he rotted in jail.


Sophia Pellegrino got behind the wheel of her car, enflamed by Todd’s behavior. But then, seriously, what did she expect? It wasn’t love between them, oh, no, Todd Manning was still hung up on little Miss goodie two-shoes. No, Todd just fucked her to feel good, that’s all.

She stepped on the gas pedal and the car accelerated. Blue Oyster Cult’s song “Astronomy” was playing in her tape deck and she cranked up the volume, allowing the loud, rhythmic guitars which were driving the song to fuel her as well.

Why? Why did men – “bad” guys particularly– peak her interest? Why was she attracted to men who obviously just used her? Because good guys were dull and she didn’t like dull. Sweet or sincere. She liked edgy, raw, fiery, passionate guys. And Todd Manning was all that.

The car continued to speed down the country road as the driving beat of the song got faster.

Sophia bit her lip.

“C’Mere you witch! What’d I tell you?! Bring me the damn beer!!”

Sophia was eight and cringed at the sound of her father’s voice.

“Daddy, there’s no beer in the frig…”


Strong hand crushed raw cheek leaving it red and stinging. Sophia was so winded from the slap she stumbled back and looked up at her father.

“I hate him,” she thought.

“Get out of my head!!” yelled Sophia haunted by the unpleasant memory of her father, “I’m making a better life for myself. I am. Even if I have to crawl on my hands and knees to do it!”

She would beat the investigation and be put back on duty. She had too.


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