A week after New Year’s day Bo found himself walking to the pier, where The Fancy Face was once docked. That boat held a lot of memories for him and Bo missed it with a sailor’s passion. Hands in his coat pockets, Bo stared at the water, deep in thought about the two women in his life. Hope had come into his life when she was 17 and he’d known she was the one from the moment he laid eyes on her. For over five years she was thought dead and when she came back, their love managed to overcame all odds and hurdles thrown their way. Looking back at their life together, Bo was beginning to think they’ve simply outgrown each other. It was a sad thought because Bo knew he still loved her, missing her and Ciara every day.
Then he thought about Carly; about 24 years old when she first came to Salem. Even though he was irritable the night they met, he was immediately taken in by her, but reluctantly. Not only because she was beautiful but her feisty personality which enabled her stand up to him. Both qualities had lit a flame in him. It was only later he found out their first real encounter was at a café in Alamainia, where he saved her from Lawrence; she was a mere girl of 18 at the time. He’d loved her with a passion and vice versa; never imagining for a moment things could change between them. But they did and he lost her. He’d sadly thrown her engagement ring in this very river.
Carly was back from her trip but was now avoiding him. She was hardly at home and the few times he went to the hospital, was too busy to see him. Texts sent were unanswered and she didn’t return his calls. The current situation was probably getting to her but Bo was really hurt by her behavior all the same. Aside from his feelings for her, she was the only one he could really talk to. She didn’t think like Hope, assuring him he did the right thing during Ciara’s abduction. Bo found himself wondering if he would be feeling this way about her if things were alright with him and Hope when she came back. He simply couldn’t stop thinking about her. He needed to see her.
‘Why does he want to sell it?’ Carly asked.
‘It’s an inheritance from his grandfather but the countryside’s never been Alan’s scene. He was ready to dance a jig when I told him what you were looking for.’
If she was going to get any peace and stop the vicious talk about her, Carly felt it was best to avoid Bo as much as she could. It was for her own sake too, if she was going to avoid temptation as well. That would mean having a place to escape to on weekends and vacations.
‘It’s just by the lake and it’s furnished, along with appliances. He’s been paying a caretaker to look after the place so it’s in great condition. When you’re ready to, he’ll call the guy to meet you there and you can look it over. It’s three hours away from Salem but you’ll get there faster if you take the train.’
‘Thanks so much for this; I’ll check it out first chance I get.’
‘At least I’ll rest easy knowing you’re there having the peace and quiet you deserve and not in the middle of Bo and Hope’s drama. I wish you’d let me come over to have it out with them like I wanted. It’s not right you’re being treated that way.’
‘I don’t like it either but you already know how I feel. Hopefully, this arrangement of mine will work out. I’ll call you when I’m ready to go out there.’
‘It’s all good sis. Take care of yourself. Love you.’
‘I love you too.’ Carly hung up, turning round to meet the contemptuous gaze of Melanie Layton; who was nearby listening to her conversation. Carly knew what she was thinking; she thought she was talking to Bo. She’d heard from Daniel that Melanie lived with Maggie and Mickey Horton, which explained her hostility towards her. After their second encounter, Melanie hardly spoke to her unless she had to and even then, was always curt or rude. But Carly wasn’t about to explain herself to the irascible young woman. Let her think what she liked, along with the rest of the Salemites. Hence, she merely put her cell phone in her pocket and walked past her.
Bitch, thought Melanie balefully. For some reason, that woman was able to push her buttons and she was still smarting over Phillip’s warning about not getting herself fired. She wasn’t in Bo’s good books, like there was a time she was and according to Phillip, Bo wasn’t going to tolerate any more rudeness towards Carly. She obviously had him completely under his thumb and poor Hope was suffering for it. Carly Manning deserved to be run out of town for what she’s doing. And she didn’t care what Phillip said, she’ll continue to be as rude as she liked to the home wrecker. Just let her dare try to get her fired. With a scowl, she went on with her duties.
Carly made a mental note to see the cabin on her next day off. A lakeside cabin was ideal; she’ll be able to do some fishing. It belonged to a client of Frankie’s and from what he said, was more than anxious to sell it. She’ll look it over and make an offer. Feeling happier and forgetting Melanie Layton, Carly pressed a button and entered the elevator, its doors closing. But half way up, it make a curious noise and stopped. Worse still, the lights went off.
No… Lord no; Carly moaned as instant terror set in. She banged on the doors frantically with her fists. ‘Help, somebody help!’ she screamed to no avail. Gasping for air Carly slid to the floor, hugging her knees. This can’t be happening, not again. Locked in a dark, enclosed place; the walls closing in on her. The coffin… she was buried alive and locked in a coffin… Vivian’s mocking words in her ears… agonizingly hoping and praying Bo will eventually come for her…
Carly trembled, tears pouring down her cheeks; gripped by claustrophobia as the horrors of that terrible moment came back to her. Enclosed in that tight, dark place with no way of escaping, the walls closing in on her… suddenly she can’t breathe.
Crawling to the doors, she again pounded on the doors with her fists. ‘Somebody help me! Somebody get me out of here!’ she screamed hysterically.
‘I think she’s coming round.’
The oxygen mask was removed from Carly’s nose and she blinked, trying to focus. She was on her back, a hand gently rubbing her forehead. Carly blinked until everything came to focus. Several pair of eyes were staring down at her anxiously.
‘Carly, are you alright?’
‘Are you okay, Dr. Manning?’
‘What…?’ Carly whispered, trying to sit up. A pair of hands steadied her by the shoulders. ‘What happened?’
‘You got stuck in the elevator. By the time maintenance arrived, you’d fainted.’ Daniel explained. ‘Bo got you out of there.’
Carly turned to see it was Bo holding her, warm brown eyes fixed on her face. ‘How do you feel?’ he asked, one hand brushing back strands of hair from her damp face.
‘I… I’m fine now.’ Carly struggled to get up and several hands helped her to her feet. Bo kept his arms round her as she was led into an examination room; Daniel dismissing the nurses.
‘Still, you need to be checked out,’ Daniel said briskly. ‘The nurse who heard you said you sounded hysterical. Lord knows how long you were up there before she happened to walk by.’
‘I’m fine, I don’t need…’
‘Shut it, Carly.’ Bo said firmly. ‘You had a big scare so just let Daniel check you.’
Bo had run into Daniel on the way looking for Carly and was chatting with him when a nurse had hurried up to Daniel to tell him she distinctly heard banging up the elevator shaft. He’d felt his heart clench when the maintenance man’s flashlight revealed her passed out and without hesitation climbed down to get her, clasping her in his arms. He watched as she allowed Daniel check her heart and blood pressure. She was deathly pale and her eyes were red.
‘Your heart rate and blood pressure’s high, Carly.’ Daniel removed the blood pressure cuff from her arm. ‘What happened up there? Are you claustrophobic?’
‘Since when? I didn’t know you were.’
‘She was once buried alive,’ Bo replied, his voice shaking with anger.
‘What?’ Daniel exclaimed, not believing he heard correctly. ‘Buried alive? Who would do such a thing to her?’
‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ Carly moaned, covering her face with her hands.
‘It’s okay now…’ Bo soothed, hugging her against him.
‘Bo, take her home.’ Daniel said, still in shock at what Bo said but determined to know the whole story later.
Carly would’ve protested but she was still trembling so much to say anything. Daniel went to her office to get her overcoat and purse. Bo took her arm and she followed him in silence. She remained silent during the drive to the loft and after Bo led her inside. Only when she sat down on the couch that she burst into tears. Upset, Bo drew her into his arms again; stroking her hair as she clung to him. Her ordeal was something they never talked about but Bo could only imagine how it must have greatly traumatized her. Who wouldn’t be, locked for hours in a buried coffin. Silently, he again cursed Vivian Alamain for the horrible harm she inflicted on Carly.
‘It’s okay,’ he said softly, tightening his hold on her. ‘It’s okay… shh…’
Carly’s sobs subsided and she found herself trembling less. ‘You must think I’m such a weakling…’ she whispered.
‘No… never. I’ll never think that of you.’ Bo kept stroking her hair. ‘What happened to you should never have happened at all. I’ll never forgive that bitch for what she did to you.’
Carly sniffled, accepting the hanky Bo fished out of his pocket and wiped her eyes. ‘After all these years and yet… yet it seems it happened yesterday. Waking up to find myself in there, deep in the ground…’ she shivered. ‘Vivian took such delight tormenting me, trying to break me. In the elevator I could almost hear her voice, taunting me… laughing at me…’ more tears rolled down her cheeks.
‘She can never hurt you again. If she ever comes back here, I’ll protect you. No matter what.’ Bo promised.
‘I hate what she did to me, Bo. I hate what it’s done to me. I used to be able to stand on my own, confident and independent!’ Carly covered her face.
‘You’re still that same person!’ Bo insisted, pulling her hands off her face. ‘You’re strong, confident and courageous.’ He raised her chin, staring deep into her eyes. ‘You’re still the same woman I fell in love with.’
Carly stared back at him for a few seconds then lowered her eyes. ‘I’m not that woman anymore.’
‘That’s not true.’
‘It is. Don’t put me on a pedestal, Bo. I’m just not.’ Wiping her eyes, she tried to rise but Bo held on to her arm.
‘You’re still that woman; whether you think so or not. I know you more than anyone else, Carly Manning. I know why I fell in love with you.’ Bo said, emotion in his face.
Carly’s face was impassive as she stared at him. Then a sad expression appeared as she nodded. ‘And I know why I fell in love with you too. Then why exactly did things turn out wrong between us? Even before what Vivian did to me, we were always fighting and not just over Nicky. Would we still be together if Vivian hadn’t drugged me or if Hope never came back?’
Bo held on to her hand, their fingers entwined. He felt emotionally closer to her and the desire to kiss her was stronger. ‘We’re together now, princess.’ He said softly, calling Carly by his old pet name for her. ‘That’s what’s really important.’
Carly touched his face with her free hand, green eyes suddenly alive and that was his undoing. Pulling her to him, he kissed her with the passion he’d long held back. He felt her arms go round his neck and she kissed him back fiercely. Bo ran kisses all over her face then returned to her mouth; passion and longing at its peak as he kissed her deeply. She tasted the same, felt the same in his arms and he wanted to make her his. Eagerly, he caressed and explored the familiar body.
Carly clung to him, feeling his hands over her. She loved him and Lord help her, wanted him. She clung to him as he lowered her on the couch. Then she felt his hardness against her thigh and Carly found herself freezing in sheer terror. Lawrence forcing himself on her….
‘No… no…’ she frantically pushed his chest, desperately wanting him off her. Snapping out of his present state, Bo sat up; stunned as Carly leaped from the couch as though to get far away from him. ‘Princess,’ he said, getting up and walking over to her. ‘What’s wrong? Did I hurt you ? Please talk to me.’ He placed his hands on her shoulders.
Carly moved away from his touch, her heart beating fast and hands trembling.
‘We can’t, Bo.’ She covered her face with her hands again. ‘What we were about to do, we just can’t.’
‘I’m… I’m sorry for coming on to you like that. You must think I’m a jerk.’ Bo muttered, sorry she’d changed her mind.
Carly lowered her hands, struggling to control herself before he suspected the real reason why she pulled away. ‘No, you’re not.’ She said quietly, turning to face him. ‘We’re both adults. And we have a history, so somehow it makes this inevitable. But it would be wrong. It’s very easy to get carried away and make love but afterwards we’ll end up regretting it; especially you. The next time you face Hope, it has to be with a clean conscience. And I can face the people who still think I came back to steal you away from her.’
‘We both know that’s not true.’ Bo held her face with both hands.
‘They’re too busy protecting your wife to care about the truth.’ She pushed his hands away. ‘Obviously we can’t go on this way.’
‘What do you mean by that?’ Bo demanded. ‘You’re just going to keep avoiding me like you’ve been doing? Is that why you’ve been doing it, because you’ve been afraid this might happen?’
Carly turned away, her heart breaking at what she was going to say. But she had to; for both their sakes. ‘Yes. It’s bad enough that people refuse to believe we’re just friends and now, look at what just happened.’
‘Something else is bothering you,’ Bo said. ‘it can’t be just about Hope and the family. You’re still trying to get over Lawrence. Carly, he’s dead!’
‘He may be dead but you’re married.’
‘What exactly do you want from me?’ Bo snapped, wondering if Carly was asking in a veiled way if he was going to end his marriage for good.
‘I am not asking you for anything!’ Carly snapped. ‘I will mourn my husband as long as I want and you have no right to assume I’d want to be “the other woman”. In the end, this just about you wanting to fill the void Hope left behind but you’re still waiting for her to come home.’ Her cold green eyes challenged him.
Bo opened his mouth to then shut it; more confused than ever. He couldn’t deny nor confirm her statement.
‘I can’t be around you right now.’ She walked to the door, sliding it back. ‘Please leave.’
‘I never meant to upset you, Carly. I’m sorry.’
‘Just go, Bo. Before we both say or do something we’ll regret. Go.’
Frustrated and angry, Bo left ; feeling a huge sense of loneliness as the door slid shut behind him. What happened hadn’t been premeditated and now he’d succeeded in upsetting Carly. And yet she called what nearly happened inevitable, which means she’s been nursing the same feelings. But why then did she pull away? It was almost like she was… repulsed. But she’d kissed him back and with so much passion too. Was it truly because she didn’t want him to cheat on Hope and justify the family’s suspicions? Bo couldn’t shake the feeling her sudden change of heart was more than that, more than guilt she was cheating on Lawrence. In the meantime, he’ll leave her to cool off.
Carly took several breathes after washing her face, resting her hands on the sink before staring at the mirror. She was even more damaged than she thought. Classic PTSD… thanks to Lawrence’s repeated rapes. Lawrence rising from the grave and coming between her and Bo; preventing them from making love. Carly felt like weeping and screaming at the unfairness of it all. Even if Bo knew the truth about Lawrence’s death and still wanted a lasting relationship with her; how could a vibrant, passionate man like him be happy with a woman both physically and emotionally damaged like she was?
I’m not the same woman. And I’ll never be again.
Wiping her damp face, Carly got into bed. She fell asleep but the nightmare came back.
The cellar… the knife… her screams.
Rolling and kicking out, Carly woke up, gasping and shivering in fright. Her cell, lying on the table beside the bed, rang; making her jump. The caller ID told her it was Daniel. Composing herself, she answered it. ‘Hi.’
‘Hey, Carly. How do you feel, better I hope?’
‘Uh.. yes. I was actually asleep.’ Carly rubbed her throbbing head.
‘I’m sorry I woke you, I wanted to see how you were. By the way, something’s happened. Mickey Horton’s dead.’
‘Oh no!’ Carly sat up, shocked. ‘What happened?’
‘Nathan got a call from Maggie, it seems Mickey had a heart attack. And they were going out of town today, to go on a cruise.’
‘Oh, poor Maggie.’ Carly murmured. Mickey had helped her and Bo during their big trouble with Victor. He had been their lawyer and staunch friend. He’ll be greatly missed. She thought of Maggie and then Alice… this would break her heart. Alice Horton loved all her children dearly.
‘I’m planning on going over there when I can. Will you go?’
‘Yes, of course. Thanks for telling me, Daniel.’
Carly hung up and slid out of bed, walking to the closet to get a fresh blouse.
Maggie and Mickey’s living room was full of people and Carly had to scan the crowd to find Maggie. She found her quietly talking to a man in his late sixties. Carly surmised he must be Doug Williams, Hope’s father. She weaved her way through the crowd, reaching them. Ignoring Doug’s quizzical expression, Carly firmly focused on Maggie, taking her hand. ‘I’m so sorry about Mickey. So sorry, Maggie; he was such a great guy.’
Maggie nodded, squeezing Carly’s fingers, her eyes red. ‘Thank you. How did you find out?’
‘Daniel called to tell me. If there’s anything I can do for you; anything at all, just name it. But what about Alice? Does she know?’
‘Yes,’ Maggie nodded again. ‘She’s really upset, as you can imagine. She’s at her house with Julie right now.’
Carly could easily imagine the agony of a mother, particularly a woman of Mrs. Horton’s age, over the death of one of her children. She will stop by and pay her a visit. ‘Again, I’m really sorry.’
Maggie returned the hug Carly gave her. ‘The funeral’s day after tomorrow, if… if you want to come, Carly.’
Doug, who hardly knew Carly except what he was told about her, looked at her shrewdly. So this is Bo’s ex; he thought. There was no trace of guile on that beautiful face; only concern and sympathy.
‘Yes, come.’ He found himself saying. ‘We would be glad if you can.’
‘I will, Mr. Williams.’
‘Heavens Carly, it’s Doug. Doug, ’ He emphasized, shaking hands with her.
‘Of course, Doug,’ Carly nodded to him. Kissing Maggie on the cheek, she turned to take her leave. She walked towards the door, almost colliding with Justin, who was astonished to see her. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘I came to pay my respects. Is that suddenly a crime?’
‘You’ve got to be kidding. I would think you of all people would think twice than show your face where you’re not welcome. Haven’t you upset Hope enough?’
‘Exactly, how is consoling Hope’s aunt upsetting her in any way?’ Carly demanded. ‘How am I any different from everyone who knew and respected Mickey?’
‘You’re neither friend nor family, that’s the difference.’ Justin said cruelly.
‘You forfeited that right when you came back here to cause trouble.’
Carly’s heart tightened with pain as she listened to the words coming from a man who was once her friend. But she wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of watching her crumble or cause a verbal fracas in the middle of Mickey’s wake. Instead she gave him a cold, disdainful look as she side stepped him, only to face Hope who was looking absolutely furious.
‘What are you doing in my uncle’s house? You thought you would score more points with Bo this way?’ she snapped. ‘You really got some nerve coming here.’
Carly forced herself to be civil, a difficult task because she found Hope Brady utterly infuriating and unreasonable. ‘I’m not after Bo. And you’re being very unfair to him.’
‘And since when have I allowed you to tell me what’s fair and what’s not?’ Hope shouted. ‘Who do you think you are, attempting to preach to me about my husband?’
Carly glared at her, hurt and anger finally at boiling point. ‘Years ago, when I saw firsthand what your ‘death’ did to Bo, I kept having this image of a woman who must have been really amazing to be loved as deeply as he loved you. Where's that woman now exactly?’
Hope went red with mortification at the candid words, seeing it as a barely veiled insult. ‘How dare you!’ she hissed.
Justin jumped in the fray. ‘Carly, leave now.’ He ordered.
‘Shut up, messenger boy!’ Carly shouted at him, infuriated. ‘I don’t take orders from you, so back off!’ Her tone was so fierce that Justin was stunned to silence.
‘Don’t you talk to Justin like that!’
‘I’ll say what I want to him! And as for you Hope Brady, you’re going to lose Bo eventually. But I’m not going to be the reason, it’s going to be your jealousy and this… this idiotic, childish game you’re playing with him! And if your family and your so-called friends,’ darting a disgusted look at Justin, ‘don’t have the balls to tell you this, then they’re sure as hell not acting on your best interest!’ With that off her chest, Carly left, her heels clicking angrily. Infuriated and rendered speechless, Hope was suddenly aware her family, who had stood silently during their exchange of words, were watching her.
Justin hurried after Carly. ‘Carly, wait a second…’ he caught up with her, laying a hand on her arm. But Carly, still very angry, couldn’t bear to be touched. She surprised Justin with a backhand slap and walked on, leaving him rubbing his stinging cheek.
By the time Carly got back to the loft, she had such a blinding headache, she could hardly stand. Taking off her clothes, she showered, took some aspirin and crawled back into bed but couldn’t sleep. The door buzzer sounded and reluctantly, she got out of bed to see who it was; slipping on a Chinese silk robe over the old T shirt she had on. It was Bo.
‘What do you want?’ Carly asked wearily.
‘I came to see if you were okay.’ He touched her forehead. ‘You’re burning up.’
She removed his hand. ‘It’s just a headache. I’ll be fine in the morning.’
‘You’re still mad at me about before.’ Bo guessed, seeing she made no move to let him in. When he got to Maggie’s, only Nathan was willing to give a full, unbiased account of what went on between Carly and Hope. On hearing Justin’s role in the argument, Bo found him in the kitchen and gave him the long promised punch, on the jaw. On her part, Hope was far too angry and humiliated to talk to him. For once Bo didn’t care, more worried about Carly.
‘I’m not mad at you, Bo. But to be honest, this is just not working at all. Things are now worse. If your marriage stands a chance at all, you shouldn’t be hanging around me. Both your families see me as their enemy, more than ever now. And I can’t handle this unreasonable hatred everybody has for me.’
‘Carly don’t do this, please.’ Bo moved closer to her. ‘You can’t make such a decision and expect me to go with it. You’re a part of my life.’
‘I’m your past and if you have any regard for your wife, you will respect my decision. I hate what she’s doing to you but I also know how much you love her. I can take care of myself. For both our sakes, don’t come here or the hospital anymore.’
‘Carly, let’s talk about this!’
‘There’s nothing to talk about. Just leave me alone.’ She slid the door shut, locked it and went back to the bedroom to cry herself to sleep.
‘Forgive me, sailor.’ She wept. ‘Forgive me, my love. It’s best this way.’
‘Forgive me, sailor.’ She wept. ‘Forgive me, my love. It’s best this way.’