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Saturday, October 25, 2014


When the void lifted, Melanie saw several girls milling around in school uniform, books under their arms. A fancy all girls school, she noted, seeing the imposing gray building with four towers. Two girls came down the stairs, bags over their shoulders. Melanie basked in the sight of a teenage Carly, her hair pulled back in a pony tail, accompanied by...‘Jennifer!’ she exclaimed, immediately recognising the blonde girl.
‘It’s their final term.’ Isabella explained. ‘And Carly wasn’t planning on going home. She was expected to marry Lawrence the following year and she wanted no part of her father and Leopold’s arrangement.’ As she spoke, Carly and Jennifer fist bumped and then exchanged a heartfelt hug.
‘But what about Frankie? Did she tell him she was leaving?’
‘He made her promise not to give in to their parents’ order before he left home. Through letters they stayed in contact but it was several years before she saw Frankie or Jennifer again.’
The scene was suddenly enveloped by a dense fog then cleared to show a different scene. Carly was in a sparkling blue dress, accepting an amaryllis from a tall and outrageously handsome man in a tux; smiling lovingly up at him.
Melanie stared very hard at the man. He had grey eyes, glossy black hair... something oddly familiar about him...
‘No...’ she whispered as her mind flashed back to her brother. Nicholas’  resemblance to his father  was almost uncanny. ‘Lawrence Alamain!
Isabella nodded.
‘I don’t understand! She  wanted nothing to do with him, she told Henri so! What’s she doing with him?’ Melanie demanded.
‘Lawrence was a man of many talents; one of them being putting up a facade. You see, Carly thinks she’s in love with a wonderful, dashing man called James. Lawrence was determined to marry Katerina Von Leuschner, no matter what it took. So he used his means to track her and presented himself to her as the dashing James. And Katerina was a school girl full of romantic ideals, who knew very few men; she fell deeply in love with him. Or rather the man she thought he was.’
‘Did he love her that much that he would stoop so low?’ Melanie glared at Lawrence, hating him already; wishing she could fly at him and scratch his face. This was the man who ruined her mother’s life and gave her so much heartache; this was the man who had taken her from her mother’s arms. He sounded polished and cultured like Nicholas who closely resembled him, but her brother wasn’t his father, thank God. And her poor mother, openly adoring him not realising she was knee deep in his trap!
‘In his own way,’ Isabella replied. ‘But he was actually more in love with what she was; the Von Leuschner heiress- Lady Katerina. She was a prize handpicked by his father for him; the perfect woman to join the royal house of Alamain. He wasn't about to let her objections get in the way. He actually tracked her down at school to present himself to her but she made Jennifer switch with her instead. So hence, this trick.’
‘And she found out?’
‘She found out one night,’ Isabella replied. ‘And she didn't take it very well.’ The dense fog returned then cleared and Melanie found herself outside, watching Carly getting into a cab with a small bag, her face tear stained. ‘Drive!’ she ordered and the driver drove off, leaving clouds of dust behind.
‘But he tracked her down a few days later,’ Isabella went on and their surroundings changed in a flash and Melanie found herself in a trendy looking bistro. Carly looked pale, her hair in a French braid and wearing a print sweater as she sat at a table, angrily arguing with Lawrence.
Isabella pointed, ‘Here comes Bo.’
Bo was coming down the stairs; long hair tied back and dressed in tight jeans a stripped jersey.
Oh!’ Melanie gasped, trying to adjust seeing Bo as a young man, unable to stop staring at him. Lawrence was very attractive yes... in a polished, aristocratic way but Bo... Bo had the ‘bad boy’ look and the aura of sheer masculinity; more rugged, more down to earth, more... everything. No woman would look at him and not want him... or not feel safe with him.  She caught Isabella looking at her with an amused look on her face and blushed.
‘He’s very easy on the eyes isn’t he?’
‘That’s your brother you’re talking about!’ Melanie scolded, feeling herself blushing even deeper to her annoyance.  Isabella chuckled.
‘What was he doing here, this is Alamania right?’
‘Yes. Bo was sailing round the world with Hope and Shawn Douglas, this was the night they docked here but Hope chose to stay on the boat with the baby. Now watch.’
Lawrence was now pushing Carly around, his hand raised as though he was about to hit her. ‘Leave her alone, you monster!’ Melanie cried as Carly struggled to wrestle free.
‘It’s no good Melanie, you can’t interfere.’
As she spoke Bo came up to them, concern and determination on his face. ‘Hey... hey... hitting ladies is not okay, now let her go.’
‘Back off!’ Lawrence snarled at him, keeping a firm hold on Carly.
‘I said let her go!’  Bo was now angry, ‘If you want to come after somebody, come after me... leave her alone!’
 Lawrence furiously turned on Bo, taking a swing at him which Bo deflected and returned it.
Scrambling away from the two men, Carly stood aside, staring in dismay as Bo blocked Lawrence’s blows, punching him in return.
Lawrence suddenly turned round and made a dart at her, but Bo pulled him back and Carly made her escape.
 Bo punched Lawrence soundly on the jaw, which threw him on the ground. Lawrence got up and the two men were engaged in a thorough fist fight. Lawrence clearly had some martial art skills which however were no match for Bo’s street fighting abilities and soon Lawrence got the worst out of it.
‘Serves him right,’ Melanie snapped, turning to watch Bo dart up the stairs. ‘He’s going to look for her!’
‘Yes, but she was already gone.’ Isabella replied.
A thought struck Melanie as they were back in the dark void. ‘Mum didn't see Bo’s face, he didn't see hers either.’
‘No, but neither of them forgot that night. Carly wandered from place to place, staying with friends, even with a former trusted servant, to get away from Lawrence. But he always found her.’
Melanie shook her head. ‘He stalked her.’
‘Stalked her and taunted her with messages that their wedding will take place, whether she liked it or not.’ As she spoke, their surroundings cleared and they were standing on a porch of a house. Carly was reading a card, her face white, a look of fear on her face. Melanie read over her shoulder, ‘You’re cordially invited to attend the marriage of Lawrence Alamain and Katerina Von Leuschner...’ She read the note Carly had in her other hand, which was trembling. ‘It’s going to happen Katerina; nothing you do will stop it.
 Melanie felt sick, putting herself in her mother’s shoes; the feeling of finally being safe shattered by that cold, threatening message. ‘How many times did he do this?’
‘Several times, over the past few months. Carly would be settled and then a courier would arrive with that same message.’
‘My God...’ Melanie longed to hug Carly, to give her words of comfort.
‘After she got the last message while in the French country side, she ran again.’ The surroundings faded; from early afternoon to night. Carly was walking down a road with a small bag, a scarf covering her hair and wearing a long grey coat; nothing but the full moon guiding her way. There was a look of despair and worry on her face that wrung Melanie’s heart as she and Isabella followed her.
Then Carly stopped, looking at something ahead. Melanie followed her gaze to see what her mother was looking at; something was glowing in the distance. Carly hurried forward and Melanie went after her.
Finally, Carly stopped, breathing hard. Melanie now saw what it was, a lighted cross. She followed Carly through the gates, up to the oak door where she pulled an old fashioned bell pull. The door opened and a woman peered at her. A woman in a nun’s habit.
‘A convent!’ Melanie said as the woman immediately ushered Carly inside. ‘Of course, where else would she find sanctuary from Lawrence. He couldn’t possibly find her here.’
‘He didn’t.’ Isabella replied. ‘For the first time in ages, Carly felt safe from him. The sisters treated her kindly; she helped in the kitchen and in the garden. She loved their way of life.’
‘Did she...’ Melanie began.
‘Thought of joining the sisters officially? Yes.’ Isabella paused, watching Melanie keenly as though she wanted her to guess what happened instead.
‘But she didn’t...’ Melanie said slowly, ‘because she found out... she was pregnant with Nick.’
‘So where did she go next?’
‘To  a woman she trusted. The biggest mistake she made, on many counts.’ The scene changed to a  sun lit patio, where a woman was sitting on a lawn chair, her back to Melanie and Isabella, reading a magazine. A young woman in a black and white maid’s uniform came from the house, Carly at her heels.
‘Lady Katerina Von Leuschner to see you, Madame.’
The woman got up and Melanie got the shock of her life. ‘No... no, no!’
 It was Vivian Alamain, several years younger and elegant in her white suit, hurrying over to hug Carly. ‘Vivian? Are you kidding me?’
Isabella shook her head sorrowfully.
‘I’m so glad you’re home, I was afraid you might be away... I had nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to...’ Carly was sobbing as she clung to Vivian.
‘There, there dear... sit down and calm yourself.’ Vivian soothed, stroking her hair and sitting her down. ‘Now, where have you been all this while? Many people have been looking for you, including Lawrence.’
‘Don’t mention Lawrence to me!’ Carly shouted. ‘I hate Lawrence!’
‘Now, that’s not nice, or ladylike. What did he do that was so terrible?’
Carly sniffled as tears ran down her cheeks. ‘Oh Vivian... he’s really trapped me now. I’m pregnant.’
Melanie saw Vivian do a dramatic double take. ‘Oh dear.’ she took hold of Carly’s hand. ‘Does he know?’
‘No, and I don’t want him to. Please, Vivian... you cannot tell him about this or that I’m staying with you. I need to lay low until I decide what to do.’
‘Of course my dear, of course. He won’t know if you don’t want me to tell him. And you can stay as long as you like.’ she patted her arm.
The dense fog came again and then cleared to show Carly in a hospital bed. She looked very pale and  her eyes very red as though she’d been crying. Vivian and a doctor were with her, trying to console her. ‘What happened? Where’s Nick?’ Melanie turned to Isabella. ‘Why is she crying?’
‘Vivian and Carly became bitter enemies years later. Not just over Lawrence’s death either.’ Isabella wanted Melanie to work it out herself.
Melanie’s eyes widened. ‘She... no... No... She didn’t! Isabella, did Vivian tell Mum Nick was stillborn? Is that what she told Mum? And the doctor was on the take, wasn't he?’
‘Yes, to both questions. Vivian felt Carly didn't deserve to have Lawrence’s child to love after spurning him. Spurning Lawrence meant spurning the house of Alamain so Vivian decided to punish her.’
‘Christ... to trust Vivian Alamain of all people!’ Melanie shook her head, feeling ill in the pit of her stomach. It had happened twice! First Nick and then herself, both babies taken away from her! Melanie felt the shame returning, how she gave Carly such a hard time when she told her the truth... she told  Carly she hated her...
‘Now Melanie, I’m showing you all this for you to understand, not to feel guilty.’ Isabella said sternly.
Melanie gulped and managed to nod, staring down at the young girl on the bed. ‘What happened next?’ she whispered.
‘Carly moved to Tahiti, where she began her medical studies. She settled there and one day...’
The scene changed to a small doctor’s office. A young couple entered; the man limping, supported by his blonde companion who wore a beach wrap over her floral bikini. Melanie felt like laughing, it was a much younger Justin and Adrienne Kiriakis.
‘I can’t believe how stubborn you are.’ Adrienne scolded.
‘Why, just because I wouldn’t let that girl look at my foot?’ Justin retorted.
‘You didn't think she was a kid when you were gawking at her.’ Adrienne fired back, the amused look in her eyes belying her words.
‘I didn’t gawk at her.’
‘I still think you should’ve let her help.’
‘Sure, I would choose a topless beach bunny over a professional doctor.’
As he spoke, Carly entered the room. She looked healthier, more colour on her cheeks and in the height of her beauty; early twenties thereabouts and was wearing her white doctor’s jacket over a print bikini; a stethoscope hanging from her neck. Melanie didn't know whether to be amused or horrified.  
‘Will it make any difference if the beach bunny wore a white jacket?’ she asked dryly.
Justin eyed her warily. ‘You can get into big trouble borrowing that coat, missy.’
‘I’ll risk it.’ Turning to Adrienne she held out her hand, which the other young woman immediately took. ‘Hi, I’m Carly Manning. Dr. Carly Manning.’ No longer Katerina.
‘Hi.’ Adrienne smiled back.
Justin still looked sceptical. ‘A little young, aren’t you?’
‘I just finished my first year internship.’
‘You look like you just finished your first year in high school.’
Chauvinist pig; Melanie thought crossly. Carly did look young but it didn't excuse Justin’s rudeness.
 Carly merely smiled while Adrienne firmly made Justin lie on the table and Carly extracted something from his foot which made him yell in pain, before bathing it with antiseptic.
‘Now what do you say?’ Adrienne prompted.
‘Thanks, it’s the first time I’ve been treated by a doctor wearing a bikini under her white jacket.’ Justin said pertly, causing Adrienne to swat his arm.
‘You’re welcome,’ Carly laughed, putting the bottle away.
‘We could probably use someone like you back in Salem.’
Carly raised her eyebrows. ‘Salem? That’s where you’re both from?’
‘It’s a nice little town,’ Adrienne said proudly.
 ‘In the mid-west, quiet place,’ Justin added, now friendlier towards the young doctor.
‘Not too big, not too small either.’ Adrienne said. ‘And full of friendly people, you’ll love it there.’
‘Sounds like a lovely place,’ Carly said, her smile bright but her eyes thoughtful.
‘That’s how it started,’ Melanie turned to Isabella as the black void returned.  ‘She went to Salem and saw Bo again.’
‘Yes. But you have to remember, Mel; what happened at the cafe was quick and sudden, they didn't get the chance to exchange words.’
‘So... neither of them recognised each other when they met.’
Isabella shook her head. ‘But Carly found out Bo was her mysterious rescuer and vice versa.... much later.’ 
‘Where are we now ?’ Melanie asked as the fog lifted and she found herself on a kerb.
‘Salem; 1990.’ Isabella replied. ‘Come on.’
Melanie followed her, staring round in wonder. Salem looked the same yet a lot different. For one thing, the sign over a rather familiar building read Brady’s Fish Market. Fish Market?
No sign of The Java or the Internet Cafes as they walked along. People milled about, no one familiar; young people either listening to walkmans or carrying boom boxes blaring music. They turned a corner and got to the docks, walking to a crowd of people.
Carly was talking to a handsome African- American man; her hair bouncing about her neck and golden hoop earrings in her ears. Melanie saw a distinguished looking man she recognised from photos in Maggie’s house, Dr. Tom Horton, who was talking through a bullhorn in front of a crowd of people. ‘It looks like some sort of protest’s going on.’
‘Lawrence’s oil company was responsible for causing a spill, which affected several small businesses, including the family’s fish market. Carly joined in the protest. Wait and watch... you’re about to see something.’
Carly was still a beautiful woman in the present day, here she looked more like a fashion model than a doctor. Carly looked animated as she talked to the man with her. Present day Carly was more restrained and since Bo’s abandonment, more withdrawn and quiet. ‘Who’s  the guy she’s talking to?’ Melanie asked. ‘He’s cute.’
Isabella chuckled. ‘That’s Dr. Marcus Hunter. He and Steve- Kayla’s husband- grew up in the same orphanage. He took Carly under his wing after getting to know her.’ Isabella smiled, a nostalgic look on her pretty face. ‘They delivered Brady.’
Oh...’ Melanie turned to look at Carly and Marcus again. He looked dependable and he clearly liked Carly, obviously in tune with her. It was rather like seeing herself and Brady.
Carly was clapping her hands, shouting encouragement then a man walked up to her, grabbing her arm.
 ‘That’s Bo?’ Melanie said, amazed. This Bo looked like he belonged in a biker bar.  Personally she wouldn’t want to run into him in a dark alley! His long hair flowed down his back and he wore a full beard and a scowl on his face as he snapped at Carly, demanding to know what’s going on.
‘Who the hell are you anyway?’
‘I’m Dr. Carly Manning; a new intern in Salem University Hospital.’ Carly replied, tossing her head rather disdainfully. ‘Who are you?
Folding her arms, Melanie watched the heated exchange; unable to stop staring at Bo’s tight ripped jeans. Cute butt, she couldn’t help thinking.  She blushed red again at the amused look on Isabella’s face.
‘Well, it is!’ she said defensively.
‘What is going on here?’ Hurrying towards them was Caroline Brady, several years younger, with a man she’d seen countless of times in a photo hanging at the Brady Pub, Shawn Brady.
 ‘Yeesh...’ Melanie stared as Bo stormed away after more angry words, mostly about the noise. What her mother said about Bo’s temper in her diary was no exaggeration, in his younger days he wasn’t so good at keeping it!
‘Who is that guy, anyway?’ Carly demanded crossly.
‘That guy is my son, excuse me.’ Caroline went after him.
The stunned, guilty look on her mother’s face told Melanie she was already told about Bo’s recent tragedy, she had no idea he was the one they’d told her about. ‘That was Bo...’ she said, before passing a hand across her face in mortification.
As Carly was apologizing to Shawn who brushed it aside, Isabella turned Melanie. ‘Not exactly love at first sight.’
No,’ Melanie agreed. ‘But it looked like he was madder at her than at the protesters, mad that she was there at all. He couldn’t get away from her fast enough.’
Isabella nodded, pleased with Melanie’s observation. ‘He got angry by the mere sight of a beautiful young woman, what does that tell you?’
‘Something about her fascinated him right there and then, and he didn't like it... because he was mourning Hope.’
‘Very good. This meeting is less dramatic than their first one, but still dramatic.’
‘Well, I kind of prefer the first one, he saved her from Lawrence. And I wish he was able to catch up with her that night.’
‘And what would’ve happened, Mel? His wife was waiting for him at the boat.’
‘At least he wouldn’t have  been so hostile to her when they met again, just look at the way he yelled at her; he was really mean.’
‘He was in pain.’ Isabella defended her brother.
‘Okay, okay...’ Melanie was anxious to see more. ‘Go on...’
Isabella walked  along the docks, Melanie beside her. As she spoke, their surroundings changed yet again.
‘Everyone took to Carly immediately. The Bradys, the Hortons... a lot of people, including me. And she was reunited with Jennifer after several years.’
As though she was watching a montage, Jennifer saw Carly talking and smiling with Caroline, Shawn, a much younger Kayla who was holding baby Stephanie; Dr. Horton walking down the hospital lobby with her, Jennifer hugging her excitedly. Melanie also noticed a little boy holding Carly’s hand and chatting with her.
‘Is that Shawn D?’ she asked, a tinge of jealousy darting through her at the unconditional love on Carly’s face as Shawn D grinned up at her.
‘Shawn Douglas and Carly hit it off right away. Carly’s been lonely for so long and Shawn D was missing Hope. They filled the void in each other’s lives, especially after he fell into that oil shaft on Jencon’s property.’
The scene evolved to a hospital room, Bo attempting to console a bandaged Shawn D who was sobbing for his mother. But when Carly put her arms round him, the child immediately clung to her,  becoming quiet as she soothed him with soft words. With self loathing and bitterness, Melanie thought back  how Carly tried to console her after her shooting and got rebuffed. 'But it wasn't the same as having a lover,’ she said, pushing the sad memory away.
‘Exactly. And it didn't help that people began playing matchmaker.’ Isabella smiled then sobered. ‘But Carly was battling with a problem.’
‘Keeping away from Lawrence, right?’
‘Yes. She would only be free of him after her 25th birthday, which was when their betrothal was no longer binding. And Lawrence knew that, that’s why he had her hunted down.’
‘You said his oil company was the one destroying business here at the time.’ Melanie said. ‘Didn't Mum know he was behind all that?’
‘Not at first, she didn't know Jencon Oil belonged to him; not until after Shawn D’s accident and Steve’s supposed death.’
Melanie jumped on that piece of information. ‘Stephanie’s dad... Kayla’s ex?’
‘He walked into a trap meant for Bo,’ as Isabella spoke, the scene changed to the smoking debris of a boat which looked like it just exploded. Hands pressed to her mouth, Melanie saw a blond man lying on the deck; bleeding and obviously seriously injured. ‘Lawrence had his I.V tampered with at the hospital,’ Isabella went on soberly, ‘and for several years the family thought they’d lost Steve forever.’
Melanie nodded, heartsick  but was more interested in her mother and Bo’s history.
‘All because of that fight, he wanted to kill Bo?’ she whispered as the scene melted.
‘Not just that, Mel,’ Isabella replied. ‘Bo was embarking on his personal vendetta on Lawrence for Shawn D’s accident; vandalising anything that had to do with Jencon. And he put pressure on Carly by kidnapping Frankie and saying he would only give him back if she handed him Bo and the Von Leuschner estate.’
No...’ Melanie gasped.  
Isabella nodded, snapping her fingers. Melanie found herself in a room in time to see the door open and three uniformed men bodily shoving a struggling and very angry Frankie- now in his twenties- into it and slammed the door, locking it.
‘Is there anything that man didn't do to hurt Mum?’ she demanded, watching her uncle pound on the door. ‘obviously Mum couldn’t hand Bo over to him even if she could hand over the inheritance!’
‘He wasn't above anything,’ Isabella said coldly. ‘Carly did give him her inheritance; Frankie  handed his too - to free Jennifer. Jennifer went in over her head by posing as Katerina as a means of helping the real Katerina, making the marriage invalid. Lawrence married her in Alamania and forced her to consummate the marriage.’
‘Oh my God... the bastard raped Jennifer!’ Melanie exclaimed, shocked; hoping Isabella wasn't going to show her that horrible moment. She felt a huge stab of pity and compassion for her mother’s friend.
‘I’m afraid so. When she and everyone else involved was safely back in Salem, she pressed charges against him of course. He was arrested.’
‘But he must have known she wasn't Katerina!’
‘He knew all right, but he also knew Frankie and Carly would pay him anything to get him to divorce Jennifer.’
‘Of course they would do that,’ Melanie thought, feeling proud of their selflessness. ‘But, surely no one held it against Mum for keeping quiet?’
‘No, especially after they found out she was Frankie’s sister and it was all for him she had to keep quiet about her past with Lawrence and why she and Frankie assumed new identities.’
‘And Bo?’
Isabella’s smile was wry. ‘It was a while before he could get past it, but deep down he understood.’
Melanie watched the new scene revealed to her;  a party was going on and she saw Bo dancing with Caroline to a rendition of When I Fall In Love; other couples dancing. Carly stood alone, watching Bo and he was watching her, an impassive look on his face. Then he murmured a few words to his mother who nodded,  before walking up to Carly and took her arm. Melanie smiled as the couple began to dance, Frankie dancing with Jennifer a few yards away, John (or what he Roman back then?) going after Isabella. Melanie looked at the ghost, who was looking at the young version of her husband, her face wistful. Then briskly, Isabella turned to Melanie. ‘On to the next chapter now.’ 

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Part 7
 Nicholas and Abby had to use their combined strength to keep Melanie away from the room in ICU where Daniel, Karen Long and some nurses were doing their best to save Carly.
‘Don’t let her die, please God, don’t let her die!’ Melanie wept loudly, trying to wrestle herself away from the hands holding her firmly.
Jennifer was staring at the glass window, her hand on her throat; frozen with fear for Carly.
Frankie and Molly came hurrying up; Frankie white faced. ‘The head nurse told us Carly was brought up here... something about a Code Blue?’
‘I was there with her...’ Jennifer turned to them, tears flowing. ‘all of a sudden she went into cardiac arrest.’
‘Christ...’ Frankie turned to help calm his niece while Abby let go of her to go up to her mother.
‘If she dies...’
‘She won’t, Mum.’
 ‘I’ll never be able to tell her how sorry I am...’
‘She’s going to make it.’ Molly said, her manner towards Jennifer gentler and kinder than their last encounter, seeing how  genuinely upset she was, feeling certain Carly didn’t hold a grudge against her old school mate and   would willingly forgive her... when she came out of the coma.
Bo, where are you?  Carly’s life is hanging by a thread and you aren’t here! Damn you, you’re supposed to be here! Molly thought angrily, tears stinging her eyes as she and Abby tried to calm Jennifer down. Melanie  stopped struggling after stern  but well meaning words from Frankie but was still restless as she waited with her uncle and brother; Nicholas firmly holding her round the waist in case she wanted to dart into the room. She glanced at Abby and Molly through red eyes. Molly smiled reassuringly at her while Abby mouthed it’s going to be okay across to her. She looked at Nicholas. He looked tough but she saw the fear in his eyes. Her heart went out to him and Melanie, inwardly praying for Carly.
‘She’s stabilized now.’ Karen Long said when she finally came out with Daniel. ‘For a moment we thought we were going to lose her but Carly’s a real fighter.’
Frankie closed his eyes, his arms round Melanie as she sobbed quietly against his shoulder. Nicholas patted Molly’s hand resting on his arm and dabbed his teary eyes before asking quietly, ‘can we see her now?’
‘Sure, Nick.’ Daniel said sombrely, moving forward to hug Melanie tightly before she followed Nicholas and Molly. Frankie refused to make eye contact with Jennifer, ignoring her when she said his name. Jennifer sniffled, turning to Daniel who took her in his arms, pressing a kiss on her forehead, Abby rubbed her back. ‘It’s going to be okay, Mum. Stop crying... Carly’s going to wake up before we know it and you guys will be friends again. Please believe that,’ she pleaded. ‘She will get through this and you both will get past what happened.’
‘Honey, come on now,’ Daniel soothed her. ‘It’s going to be all right.’
Jennifer raised and nodded numbly, watching Carly’s family and Molly around her bed through the door’s window.
‘Hope, since the kidnapping I’ve been trying to figure out what’s going on in your head!’
‘You need that don’t you; you need that kind of harmony; just like what you have with Carly right now.’ That’s what really bugged her. It wasn’t just a physical affair... like he was trying to get back at her. This was a woman from his past, a woman he never told her about! Bo was clearly enjoying being with a woman who was probably more submissive... his perfect princess Carly. 
Bo’s brown eyes were angry. ‘So, I’m supposed to feel guilty about that? Because you couldn’t live with the status quo, I’m supposed to what... live alone for the rest of my life?’
‘How about a month?’ she shouted, stung by his words even though she knew she had no right to ask him such a question. She was the one who left, who spoke of divorce.  
‘I did try a month!’ he shouted back.
‘Oh please...!’ she scoffed.
‘And I tried to figure out what the hell was going on with you, what the hell you wanted!’
Okay... she left their house with Ciara... said some things out of anger; gave broad hints about a permanent separation. But she returned that night! She returned and found another woman asleep on their bed!

What right did she have to toy with Bo’s emotions... leaving him with the intent of divorce but immediately changing her mind, like she felt he was punished enough, punished for what? How could she have thought Bo loved her too much keep tolerating such behaviour just like before... when she left their home to be alone after Kayla’s shooting. He’d wanted them to go somewhere to heal, she chose differently and shut him out, to his frustration. What did Carly do except succumb to her love when Bo went to her for comfort? Bo was blameless, she’d known that the whole time and admitted it but insisted on blaming Carly.

‘We have a 25 year history together and my family’s become his family and they are very important to him. Now there could’ve been about 11 Hortons who could’ve come round the corner just now, who aren’t thrilled with him these days. How do you think that could’ve been played out, huh?’
Carly stared back, green eyes impassive.
‘He doesn’t want to lose them, Carly. But just think, about what you’re doing.’
‘Do you see this as condescension to him?’ Carly said at last.
‘What I see this you want this to play out as a great love story and it’s not. You say that you love Bo? Then maybe you should start thinking about what you’re doing to his life.’

Hope sighed, staring at a photo of Bo and herself, standing between Alice.
She was the one who packed her belongings and left their house with their daughter. She’d thrown the fact that she had the Hortons and Bradys, both families who were once Carly’s friends, in the woman’s face. Yet in the end Bo was able to  forgive her and they’d moved on, refusing to think of the woman they both wronged... ignored her existence. How ironic the guilt she refused to succumb for so long was now out in the open; during Bo’s absence. She wasn’t vindictive but she’d been more than glad to have Bo back and their unspoken agreement not to discuss Carly after he admitted his time with her had been a mistake. But now, it was pretty much a hollow victory. It was discovered later she and Bo weren’t legally married. He left town to put an end to Stefano DiMera’s empire for good and she had to endure months without him.
God... what am I saying? What about Carly? She was the one who had to watch them all happy after being left in the cold- no doubt hating them both- she was the one who was lying in a coma at the hospital! Was there any wonder Jennifer and Roman and probably other members of the family now felt guilty? Was there a reason for her to feel resentful Bo has another child? Hope shook her head, still staring at the photos, knowing the answers to her questions.
Now she had Aiden,  or will have him if she truly wanted him. And to be honest... she really wanted him in her life.
‘Mummy, is something wrong?’
She turned to see Ciara standing behind her. Watching her daughter, Hope couldn’t help but think how she and Zach probably wouldn’t have been born at all if Carly was the one with Bo when she’d returned to Salem years ago. ‘Nothing’s wrong sweetie.’
‘But you’re crying.’
Hope blinked, her hand moving up to her wet eyes. ‘I’m fine... really.’ She assured her. Staring at Ciara, she knew what she had to do. It was time.
‘Come sit,’ she took the girl’s hand,  drawing her to the couch and sat next to her. ‘There’s something I need to tell you.’
‘About Daddy?’ Ciara asked hopefully.
‘No, not about Daddy.’ Hope paused, quickly working out the best way to tell Ciara this piece of news.
She stifled an impatient curse when the doorbell rang and up to answer it.
Ciara rushed up to Maggie and Julie and was warmly hugged and kissed by both women.
‘We’re just from the hospital.’ Maggie said after Hope sent Ciara upstairs.
‘Oh.’ Hope sat down. ‘How’s... how’s Carly?’
‘Melanie said she coded but her doctors were able to stabilise her; thank God.’ Maggie replied, her expression grave. ‘I’m just glad Melanie’s not alone at a time like this; Daniel, Brady, Frankie and Nicholas will do all they can for her.’
Hope was aware Carly and Lawrence have a son but she frowned at the mention of Frankie. ‘Frankie’s in town?’
Maggie nodded. ‘He’s not exactly pleased with us right now and to be honest, it would be best if you don’t run into him.’
Hope was baffled. ‘Why not?’
Julie and Maggie looked uncomfortable, Julie finally saying quietly, ‘Frankie is Carly’s brother.’
‘It’s true, they were born   Katerina and François Von Leuschner; scions of a very powerful European family.'
‘I don’t understand... when Shawn and Caroline adopted Frankie his name was Donner!’ Hope couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
‘Frankie and Carly  ran away from their  parents- at different times- and changed their names.’ Julie explained further.
Hope closed her eyes, shaking her head. ‘Oh God.’
‘Yes. And he’s very angry; especially with you and Bo. He wants nothing to do with us at all.’
Frankie had shrank back when Maggie tried to hug him and looked through Julie as though she wasn’t there. Roman, who was present, was annoyed; telling Frankie not to let his anger go too far by refusing to give them a chance to make amends.
 ‘Did they care about my sister’s feelings at the time?’
‘Granted... Carly was mistreated and she didn't deserve it...’
‘But she was mistreated anyway,’ Frankie glowered. ‘All to protect her. Besides, Kayla already made it damn clear how you lot thought of Carly.’
‘Kayla doesn’t speak for all of us,’ Maggie had  corrected, wincing at the contemptuous use of you lot.
‘Whatever. But once she comes out of the coma, none of you will be able to hurt her again, because I’m going to convince her to get out this town. She can raise Starr in a whole new place and finally get some stability.’
‘Starr’s a Brady, Frankie. Mum will be crushed if she never gets to be with her.’ Roman said.
‘How convenient, given what she thought about her mother.’
‘Frankie, you really need to get past this; we’re sorry alright?’ Julie had pleaded.
Frankie’s face was scornful as he stared her down before turning back to Roman. ‘You know what’s funny, Roman? The whole time Carly told me everything, she actually made excuses for you all. She felt you were all still mad at her for leaving town with Alamain. She said Justin told her she deserved whatever Larry did to her. Is that what you all thought?’ he hurled at Maggie and Julie.
No!’ Maggie exclaimed, appalled.
‘Did you ask her? Did anyone of you care enough to ask her what happened to her all those years? I’ll tell you- after Lawrence took advantage of her amnesia and finally lured her back... he beat her, he raped her, threatening to kill me if she dared call me for help! She had to keep me away by pretending she didn't want to see me! He wrenched Melanie out of her arms and took her away. Did you ask her all this? No! You lot just believed she was out to get Bo away from Hope!  You believed she gladly gave her daughter away... don’t you touch me!’ he pulled his arm away from Julie’s touch, his eyes glinting with anger.
Melanie had been with Carly so she wasn't present but Molly was and had nothing to add, except a look of reproach.
‘I can imagine he is.’ Hope said after recovering from what she just heard. ‘What did he say about Bo and me?’
‘Honey... what does it matter?’
What did he say?’ Hope’s  tone was harsh.
Maggie and Julie looked more uncomfortable. ‘He said you and Bo caused Carly a lot of pain and if Bo tries to seek custody of Starr when he comes back, he’ll make a lot of trouble for him.’ Maggie said quietly. ‘I have a feeling Carly made Frankie Starr’s legal guardian in case anything happened to her.’
Hope said nothing. You and Bo caused Carly a lot of pain. Frankie’s anger was more than justified. And of course Carly wouldn’t want her daughter to be raised by her and Bo.
‘Hope, please...’ Julie said, seeing the broody look on her half sister’s face. ‘Don’t be hard on yourself.’
Hope raised her head. ‘What are you trying to say, that I have no reason to feel guilty?’
‘You don’t...’
‘No more pretence, Julie; enough. The three of us know the real truth. I treated Bo very badly but he forgave me and Carly was the one who really got hurt. And I was jealous of her because I finally realised what you all refused to tell me, what we wouldn’t admit... that he would’ve stayed with her when I came back. Carly was the one who really replaced me, not Billie and obviously the hurt of losing her to Alamain was too much that Bo couldn’t even talk about her. He never talked about her; none of you did. Yes, we caused her a lot of pain for something that wasn't her fault but mine. I doubt Bo would’ve gotten involved with her if things were fine between us when she came back. And it was Melanie she came to find in the first place, not him.’ Hope shrugged. ‘But then again... we’ll never know, will we?’
‘Well... we just hope that Carly will make it.’ Maggie said at last. ‘and as for Frankie, in time...’
‘He has the right to be angry, I would if it was my sister who went through what Carly did.’ Hope interrupted. ‘But... I don’t want Carly to deprive Bo of Starr either.’
‘I’m sure she won’t; Carly’s not vindictive.’ Maggie assured. ‘and since she helped raise Shawn D, I’m sure she wouldn’t object to you being around  Starr. She’s Shawn D and Ciara’s sister after all.’
‘Well, Starr will probably be more around Bo and Ciara and the rest of the family than me.’ Hope faced Julie and Maggie squarely. ‘I’ve found someone else. And I’m falling in love with him.’
Abby rubbed Nicholas’ shoulder consolingly as they sat on Carly’s couch and he  quietly talked about his relationship with Carly from the time he was told she was his mother; how at first he wanted nothing to do with her and then did his best to ruin her relationship with Bo and Shawn D. And how he wasn't there for her when Lawrence continuously abused her.
 ‘You are not like your father. I don’t believe for a minute you would ever hurt anyone.’
‘But I hurt my mother so much.’
‘Mel’s gone through this guilt trip already and she’s managed to forgive herself. Now you have to as well. Carly forgave you both a long time ago, didn't she? You two and Starr are very important to her. You made your mistakes but it wasn't you who abused her. Please Nicky, don’t beat yourself up like this.’ Abby pleaded, hating the miserable look on his face.
Nicholas nodded, dabbing at the corner of his eye. ‘I was so afraid she was going to die today.’
‘She’s going to make it, believe that.’
Nicholas nodded again, looking at Abby. ‘You’re a good friend.’ He smiled faintly. ‘And no one’s called me Nicky for a long time.’
‘I’m sorry...’
‘No, that’s okay; I don’t mind.’ He was suddenly aware of Abby Deveraux. She was a pretty girl, beautiful actually; her upturned face looking at him with compassion and warmth, a hint of shyness in her eyes. Unexpectedly his heart began to race and giving in to impulse, he leaned forward and kissed her on the mouth. Abby’s arms went round him and she kissed him back so eagerly that he pulled her in his arms and kissed her again and again with mounting passion; desire for her running through his body. Eventually they pulled apart, stunned as they stared at each other.
‘What just happened?’ Nicholas asked, trying to catch his breath.
Abby touched his sensual, trembling mouth; her heart beating fast. He’s finally noticed me... finally. ‘I...’ she stopped, not sure of what to say.
‘We’ve just met.’
‘I know, it’s crazy.’
‘But...’ Nicholas touched her warm cheek, his hand moving up to stroke her hair. ‘It’s almost .... like I’ve been searching for you my whole life. I feel so connected to you.’
Abby smiled. ‘I’ve felt the same about you since Carly introduced us. I was so sure you would never notice me.’
Nicholas kissed her again. ‘Silly girl.’
‘You’re one of the world’s eligible bachelors. You could have your pick of any society or royal chick.’
‘Spoilt debutantes.’ Nicholas said, a touch of arrogance in his voice as he put his arm round Abby, pulling her closer. ‘none of them are you.’
‘That’s so sweet,’ Abby whispered.
‘Now that we’ve found each other,’ Nicholas went on, tracing an eyebrow with his finger, ‘we’re going to take it one step at a time.’
‘I saw the look in his eyes; I didn’t even have to say out loud things have changed. They reconciled on the run just like I knew they would and why wouldn’t they? They have 25 years and three kids together; she’s his true soul mate. How could he expect me to still go home with him when it was more than obvious what’s happened? He said he loved me but it wasn't the same as the woman he’s been with for so long; no matter what she did to him. And it wasn't like she was in her right mind at the time anyway. How could he abandon her now?
It took all my courage to touch that beloved face one last time, assuring him I’ll be alright. I thanked him for helping me find Melanie, even though my heart was breaking. Part of me hoped he loved me enough to beg me to stay, but the other part reminded me... he will always belong to Hope. Jennifer was right all along.
As I walked out, I was calm but I couldn’t help thinking... the best decision isn’t always made without involving some amount of pain.

How true that is, Melanie thought sadly, thinking about when she sent Nathan away. The words on the paper were blotched; her mother’s tears as she expressed her pain in her diary. She turned as a knock sounded on the door. ‘Come in,’ she said, wiping her eyes and sat up on her bed as the door opened.
Nicholas poked his head in. ‘Uncle Frankie’s taking us all out to dinner, including Abby. Coming?’
Melanie hesitated then shook her head.
‘Melanie, come on... you have to go out sometime.’
‘I’ll fix something for myself; I really don’t feel like going out.  You guys go on... I’ll be fine.’
Nicholas didn't look pleased. ‘Are you sure?’
‘Just go, okay?’
Nicholas shrugged. ‘See you later then.’ He closed the door.
Melanie looked at Carly’s diary still on her lap, imagining Carly’s pain. Then she thought of what she heard from Molly about Carly’s past with Bo. I’ve never seen two people more in love than Bo and your Mum were back then.
If only I could see them back then, Melanie thought. And understand why their story ended in the first place.
Frustrated, she closed the diary and got out of bed. Suddenly she got the feeling someone was in the room with her, the air felt different and she felt a chill down her back. She turned sharply, shrieking in surprise at the woman standing near the door. She shrank back. ‘Who are you? How... how did you get in here?’
 ‘Don’t be frightened.’ The woman said, smiling serenely at her.
Melanie blinked, but the figure in white was still there. A ghost, God... she was seeing a ghost! She frowned, her mind going back to a framed photograph in Brady’s loft. ‘Wait... I’ve seen you before. You’re Brady’s mum; Isabella.’
‘That’s right. I was almost your aunt. But I’m glad to see that you and my son have a brother and sister bond all the same. I left this world the night Abby came into it.’
‘Oh...’ Melanie forced herself to stop trembling. Isabella Black looked anything but terrifying. ‘What do you want from me?’ she asked timidly.
‘It more like I want to give you, Melanie. Answers. You’ve been reading Carly’s diaries and you’ve learnt more about her from it and from Molly and Roman. But there’s a lot more to learn, for you to understand. Call this Carly’s’ virtual diary.’
As she spoke, the room darkened and Melanie felt she was in an endless void. ‘What’s going on?’ she exclaimed.
‘We’re going to the past; your mother’s past.’
Melanie felt she was in the middle of some weird dream but felt some excitement as well. Carly’s past. What she’d wished for... she was about to see for herself.
The void cleared and Melanie blinked at the sun rays. She looked round in wonder. Where they were looked like an opulent country estate. ‘Where’s this place?’ she asked.
‘Carly and Frankie’s childhood home; where they were born to Henri and Francesca Von Leuschner. Come.’
The house they were approaching was large, almost like a castle. Inside, Melanie’s eyes grew even wider, speechless. Compared to the interior of Victor Kiriakis’ mansion, the whole place screamed old money and aristocracy; marble floors, tasteful antiques and valuable paintings on the walls.  This was where her mother and uncle grew up? Carly only mentioned in passing that  her parents were well off but she and Frankie didn't get along with them; the reason why they eventually ran away from home.
Isabella led Melanie into a large panelled room which Melanie immediately saw was a study. And a man was talking to a little girl who looked mutinous and tearful. Melanie moved closer to the child. Green eyes... hair lighter but she immediately saw the little girl was Carly. ‘Oh my.’ She said, chuckling. She turned to look at the man. Blue black eyes in a handsome but austere face; Carly and Frankie’s father.
‘You should see this as a real honour, Katerina.’
Katerina?  Carly was Katerina back then?
‘I don’t want to marry somebody I don’t know! How can you and mother do this to me?’
‘Leopold and Philomena Alamain have chosen you for their son. And you know what this means; an alliance between the Alamains and the Von Leuschners.’
‘Please Father; I don’t want to marry him!’ Carly’s voice was shrill. ‘I don’t want an arranged marriage... I don’t want to be betrothed!’
‘Silence!’ the man barked and Melanie shook her head, aghast. What was this, the 1800s? How can any father do this to his own daughter? Carly was just a child, from the look of her not yet ten.
‘It’s your duty, Katerina and you will do your duty.’
‘Katerina!’ Melanie turned as a woman entered the study. She had blonde hair worn in an elegant chignon, Carly’s green eyes and pearls round her neck, a perfect foil for the deep blue dress she was wearing.
‘This is... my grandmother?’ she whispered to Isabella even though no one in the room could see, hear or feel them. Isabella nodded.
The woman was beautiful but like her husband, there was no warmth on her face. ‘Don’t you realise what a privilege this is? The Alamains are royalty and as a Von Leuschner...’
‘I will not marry him! Never!’ Sobbing, Carly fled the room, running down the hall. Melanie hurried after her. Carly ran through open French windows into the garden, running to sit under a tree, burying her face in her hands. Melanie felt like crying too as she watched Carly sob.  Born in this beautiful, grand old place yet it wasn't much of a home; not with parents like Henri and Francesca. And she’d addressed them as Father and Mother instead of Daddy and Mummy.
A boy ran up to Carly. Frankie... Melanie thought, grinning in spite of herself. Back then Frankie was adorably handsome; white long sleeved shirt, black shorts, white socks and leather oxfords. Carly’s hair spotted a bow, small pearl studs in her ears and her yellow dress had a lace collar; white socks and matching shoes.  The formal dressing of children born in privilege; not every day kids who wore jeans, sneakers and colourful t shirts with cartoon characters on them. A totally different world from the Bradys.
Frankie put his arms round his sister, trying to console her.
‘François, what am I going to do?’
François. Melanie was no longer surprised. Katerina and François  obviously changed their names after they ran away from home. Max told her years ago he met Frankie while on the run from Trent and both boys were taken in by the Bradys. But what about Carly?
‘Don’t cry Katerina.’ little Frankie pleaded.
‘Father and Mother don’t care about us. They just want us to marry money! I’m only eight and they’ve chosen a husband for me already. How can they do this?’
‘It’s going to be okay. Please stop crying, Katerina. I’m here.’ Frankie held on to her, both children making a sweet picture.
Melanie turned to Isabella, tears in her eyes. ‘How could they do it to her? She was just a kid, a child.’
‘It was the way of aristocratic families, Mel. To Carly’s parents, marriage was a duty, a business venture. And Carly and Frankie were more of Henri and Francesca’s assets than their children.’
‘Obviously. Poor Mum and Uncle Frank! No wonder they ran away.’
 ‘We’ve seen enough now.’ As she spoke their surroundings melted back into a dark void.