Suddenly the door flung open and a light turned on. He turned around and found himself face to face with Antonio Vega.
“Javier Perez…” hissed Antonio striking a defensive posture towards his old foe.
Javier Perez just smiled.


Todd looked up into the night’s sky. The stars were all pinpricks of light. So bright. It was as if they were giving him strength.

“Are you really dead?! Are you?! Are you one of those stars looking down at me…? Taunting me…? Teasing me, huh?!” he yelled over the din of the jukebox music filtering past his ear as he sat down beside the outside wall of the bar.

Todd spit. His foul discharge landed on dirt, making mush, reminding him of his life. Then he spit again. Enough was enough! He stood up and straightened out his shirt, continuing to look up into the starry sky. No more! He was sick and tired of hiding from his family. He was through relying on Sophia. She wasn’t all that reliable anyway. No! He was going to take back his life starting now. He was going to Viki’s. He was going to get his newspaper back and screw everyone who got in his way! He was Todd Manning! He was sick of taking lumps! Now, it was his turn to start dishing out the lumps.

He dug into his pockets, checked his cash and arrogantly walked into the bar to call a cab.

Todd still loved her but she was gone. He would use all the resources at his disposal to find her but living his life – well, that was going to start now. He wouldn’t forget her but he was going to move on. He had too. It was too painful to live his life on hold as he had. He was alive! Vital! He needed to see his daughter’s smile and hear his sister’s voice. Todd hardened his heart. After all, if he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to move on.

The cab arrived and Todd slammed the door as he got in, as if slamming the door on a chapter of his life…on the den of thieves who had stolen it.


Sophia drove in circles around Llanview, stewing in her own frustration. She let Todd Manning get to her! Damn her for letting him into her vulnerable heart. He was hot – attractive – she loved his sarcastic attitude and his silent sadness touched her soul. She admired his devotion! His determination! She wished she had that – a man so devoted to her – determined to be with her. She wanted a man like Todd Manning in her life and that damn goodie two shoes wasn’t in his life any longer! She was dead. FUCKING DEAD. Antonio said so. It was her who had taken care of him…helped him…comforted him. And damn it, Sophia was going to make Todd Manning see she was the woman for him!

She ran a yellow light and realized she was in downtown Llanview near RJ Gannon’s apartment building. Impulsively she drove by the building and to her surprise, recognized Antonio Vega’s car out front.


RJ’s Apartment…

Javier Perez and Antonio Vega had surprised each other and that surprise had stunned them both. Perez was there to see RJ as was Antonio. Each expecting to find RJ and not the person they had discovered. Both men disliked each other intensely.

Antonio was filled with fury. He allowed it to consume him as seeing Pereez only fueled his revulsion.

“You fucking bastard!!” hissed Antonio with a rugged sneer.

Perez mildly raised his eyebrow. He’d been called worse. His nonchalant, arrogant attitude pissed Antonio off to the point of mind numbing anger and Antonio rushed the man in front of him, tackling him.

Perez was surprised that his presence had caused such a quick, volatile reaction from his nemesis. They fell to the floor, struggling against each other, blindly knocking into RJ’s furniture, causing a loud ruckus. A coffee table tipped over. RJ’s bonsai’s plant crashed to the floor.

The gun Perez had in his jacket pocket fell onto the floor as they fought and it was all Perez could do to hold off the pressure of Antonio’s hands as he tried to choke him.

Neither man really knew how long they were locked in combat. Neither man really having the upper hand. Each matched not only in height but also in weight. Finally, Perez was able to pin Antonio against the wall of RJ’s destroyed apartment, his own hands finally around Antonio’s taunt neck, choking him, finding pleasure as Antonio gasped for air.


The sound of the cocking gun filled the apartment. Perez felt the pressure of the gun’s barbell alongside his head and suddenly he was scared as hell.

“Don’t move. Don’t fucking move. I’ve got my finger on the trigger and trust me – I won’t hesitate to pull it.”

Antonio and Javier grew still as Sophia confidently held the gun to Javier’s head.

Antonio prayed Sophia had called the cops before putting the gun to Perez’s head.



It was late at night but Todd didn’t hesitate. He threw open the doors to Llanfair and brazeningly strutted into the den.

“VIKI!!” he cried.

No answer.

He went to the bar and poured himself a drink. He heard banging noises, as if someone were hurriedly getting up. As Viki and Ben rushed into the den wearing their bathrobes, they found themselves confronting Todd with a wicked grin on his face as he sipped his scotch, pleased with himself.

“Who the hell are you?!” demanded Ben.

“Victor Lord’s bastard son,” said Todd arrogantly, instantly disapproving of his sister’s lover.

Viki just crossed her arms and nodded her head, actually happy to see her brother but appalled at his actions.


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