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Monday, October 12, 2015


‘This one’s from...’ Melanie checked the card carefully before handing it over to Carly, ‘Maxine.’
Carly unwrapped the box, smiling at Maxine’s gift; scented candles and small bottles of massage oil. ‘Obviously for use on the wedding night,’ the plump, motherly Head Nurse said, winking. The other women present laughed.
‘Thank you, Maxine. I love them.’ Carly assured her, exchanging a hug with her. ‘And I’ll definitely put them to good use.’
That brought a loud and knowing hoot and Melanie, struggling to overcome her giggles, passed another wrapped box to Carly. ‘Now this one’s from… Chloe.’
Chloe, now heavy, shifted her back more comfortably on the cushioned arm chair. ‘It’s totally unconventional as gifts go but I figured you might get a kick out of it.’
Very curious, Carly unwrapped it and everyone yelled with laughter at the item. ‘Unconventional is right!’ Adrienne exclaimed, almost choking on her drink.
‘Oh…my God,’ Carly shook her head, laughing; running her hand over the black and red box, labeled XXXopoly.
‘What… what’s better to spice things up with your spouse than an adult board game?’ Chloe insisted. ‘Naughty but fun.’
Carly read from the back: ‘The game box contains board, dice, game pieces, money, sexual space cards, “Hot & Heavy” cards, Erotic chest cards and Time chips. Hmm…’
‘In the course of the game there will be many erotic activities such as massaging, licking…’
‘Ahem… I should like to point out that the mother; daughter, daughter in law and the sisters of the groom are present!’ Kayla raised her hand before Chloe could go on, making the women laugh again. Caroline was already blushing red.
‘Okay, I’m done.’ Chloe pretended to zip her mouth, her intensely blue eyes gleaming with mischief.
Making a mental note to buy the board game on Amazon, Melanie picked up the next box from the high pile of gifts. She had insisted on throwing Carly a wedding shower, refusing to listen to the bride’s protests that she didn’t need one. Present beside the Brady women- which also included Marlena, Chelsea, Sami and Belle- were Maxine, Lexie, Jennifer, Chloe, Maggie and Adrienne. Melanie had hesitantly invited Maggie and Julie as well, not sure if they would want to come. But Julie had to leave town with Doug at the last minute, but she sent her present; a box of beautiful china. And Maggie, while feeling slightly guilty over Hope, came because she was genuinely happy for Carly and Alice would have wanted her to. Besides, why should Carly be held accountable for something she had no hand in? Maggie vividly remembered Carly’s warning to Hope, a warning Hope ignored; despite everyone’s urging she squared things with Bo. That and the story of Carly’s traumatic past; no one had the right to criticize her or Bo.
As Carly opened more presents, surrounded by her old and new friends, she couldn’t help but think how things were so different. She was longer the embittered, broken woman of last year and was friends with Caroline and Kayla again.  The two women were more than repentant and did all they could in many ways to make up for their past unkindness, even though she’d long forgiven them. The wedding was in a week’s time and she was excited about it. Bo  adamantly refused to have a quick wedding at City Hall or elope when she suggested it. Their wedding wasn’t going to be a secret or a quick quiet affair as if they had anything to be ashamed of; it was going to be done the way she deserved, with family and friends. When he asked her where she would like to be married, Carly immediately knew where- The Blue Pearl; the floating restaurant Bo took her on their date. It was wide and big enough to hold the ceremony in and have the reception afterwards. ‘I lived with you on a boat; I might as well marry you on one.’ She added. ‘And exchanging vows at sea will somehow make it more memorable.’
Marrying you’s going to be memorable, no matter where we do it,’ was his tender reply before kissing her.
Victor wasn’t invited, by mutual agreement. Bo was still very angry with him and Carly didn’t want to see Victor’s cold eyes watching them as they exchanged their vows, marring the happy day entirely. Carly was also disinclined to invite Justin as well, yet to forgive him. As Adrienne was separated from Justin and ashamed of him for what he tried to do to Carly, didn’t protest when Carly said she didn’t want Justin at the wedding. However after much persuasion from Carly, Bo finally forgave Caroline. 
Caroline’s gift was next and Carly was touched by it; a large Wedding Anniversary Photo Album. ‘Thank you Caroline.’
‘And I hope you’ll get to store several years’ worth of wedding anniversaries in it.’ Caroline smiled and Carly smiled back; seeing the warm sincerity in the older woman’s eyes.
Kayla’s was equally touching and Carly felt tears creep from her eyes as she held it in her hands, a leather bound illustrated first edition of Alice in Wonderland. ‘I remember Bo saying it was your favorite book when you were a little girl,’ Kayla explained, wiping her own eyes after she and Carly exchanged a tight hug. From Kimberly, Sami, Marlena, Adrienne and Lexie; lingerie made from sheer lace specially designed to appeal to a man’s sexual fantasies. Carly’s favorite was a short cream lace nightie, wondering whether to save it for the wedding night or ‘model’ it for Bo when he got back from his Stag party with the men.
From Jennifer was what she called a “Cuddle Kit”; a gift basket containing a fuzzy blue and white blanket, a bottle of expensive champagne, gourmet chocolates and an Andrea Bocelli CD. Belle got Carly a plush white robe, from Chelsea a personalized makeup bag and Melanie, the matron of honor; a pair of ornate silver photo frames. Carly thanked everyone for their generosity.
‘I would like to make a toast,’ Caroline raised her glass. ‘Carly, I hope you and Bo have many happy years together. When two people who are more than lucky enough to find each other again after so many years; one can only call it divine intervention and have no right to question it. You deserve happiness after what you went through in the past. We can’t turn back the clock, we can only move forwards. And I hope you’ll do that from now on dear. Because the future’s sunnier when we put the past firmly behind us. I’m more than proud to have you back in the family. To Bo and Carly.’
‘To Bo and Carly,’ the women raised their glasses, Carly too overwhelmed with emotion to speak.
Bo entered the loft after returning from his stag party. Wanting a clear head, he only had one glass of beer; impatient to be with his fiancée. He wasn’t fond of such parties but Roman, Steve, Abe,  Daniel, Shawn Douglas, Shane and Max insisted, as it was traditional. Hence, he had to sweat it out, mentally counting the hours before he was allowed to go home to Carly.
Carly was just finishing clearing up the last scrap of wrapping paper when he came in. ‘Hey’, she straightened. ‘How was your party?’
‘So, so. Looks like yours was a huge success.’ He indicated the large pile of presents on the couch. ‘You look pretty by the way,’ admiring the wreath of flowers encircling the top of her head.
 ‘Prettier than the strippers you probably gawked all evening? Why Commissioner Brady, I’m really flattered.’
Bo kissed Carly deeply, running his hands over her shoulders. ‘You should be, you were on my mind the whole evening. These  bachelor/ bachelorette parties are a pain.’
‘Come on, it couldn’t have been that bad for you.’
Still holding her hand, Bo sank into an armchair, pulling her onto her lap. ‘I’d rather spend the evening with you, not watching half naked women dancing around. Who happen to be half my age.’
‘You poor old thing.’ Carly murmured, pressing her face against his.
‘Seriously, how was your party; aside from the pile of presents over there?’
‘Really it was great. Caroline even made this lovely speech; she really wants us to be happy, Bo.’
‘I’m glad to hear that.’ Bo stroked her cheek. ‘It’s going to be okay like I promised, princess. I’m right where I want to be and we’re going to be together for a very long time, God Willing.’
‘God Willing.’ Carly repeated softly. ‘It was a long road for both of us.’
 Bo’s arms tightened round her. ‘Especially for you; going through all that for so long. If only I’d known…’
‘Lawrence would’ve had you killed and I wouldn’t have wanted to go on living if he did. He probably hoped at some point Frankie would go to you and you would come after me; that would’ve been his ultimate way of getting his revenge on us both.’
Bo’s face was sad. ‘I would’ve done all I could to get you out of there, regardless.’
‘I know,’ Carly whispered, her eyes bright with tears. ‘I know. But he can never hurt us again, not him; not Vivian.’
‘Vivian Alamain ever comes back here, she’s a dead woman and that’s not even an idle threat.’ Bo vowed darkly. ‘She will never get another chance to hurt you, ever. Not while I’m here to protect you.’
Carly held him close for a few minutes, feeling safe and warm in his arms; his heart beating against hers. Bo then turned her head to face him, kissing her gently at first then with eager intensity , his hand moving under her top to caress her skin, aching for her. ‘Should we go to bed?’ Carly asked softly against his lips.
‘I got something else in mind,’ he whispered back.
They took a shower together, the water playing over them; their slick, wet hands all over each other. They kissed deeply and sensually; Bo running his hands over Carly’s scarred back before gently pinning her against the tiled wall and entered her, Carly frantically kissing his neck and holding on to him  as they moved together in fiery unison until they slumped against each other, panting. The rest of the night was spent making tender passionate love, holding each other tightly afterwards.
Through the Brady Pub’s large glass window; Bo saw Frankie getting out of a car; followed closely by Nicholas Alamain. ‘Well…  look what the cat dragged in.’
Shawn Douglas turned to see, his eyebrows rising at the sight of his soon to be stepbrother. Now that he was an adult, Nicky’s  resemblance to his late father was more recognizable; all he had of Carly were her eyes, startling green like hers. And unlike Lawrence who spotted expensive business suits most of the time, Nicholas was dressed in a blazer over  a dark blue shirt and black designer jeans.
‘Big Bro.’ Frankie smiled warmly at Bo, exchanging hugs with him and Shawn Douglas.  
‘I was beginning to wonder if you would ever show up; everyone’s already here. Where’ve you been anyway, Carly said your secretary told her you were away.’
‘I had to take care of some business, us both actually.’ Frankie replied, indicating Nicholas.
 Nicholas was astute enough to detect chilliness from Bo and Shawn Douglas, even though they willingly shook hands with him. ‘Look at you, man; I hear you’re married now, with a daughter.’ He said, attempting to break the awkwardness.
‘That’s right,’ Shawn Douglas confirmed. What he really wanted to do was ask Nicky a major question: where the hell was he when Carly was abused by his father.
‘Bo, something’s come up and you need to know about it. Shawn D can stay to hear if he likes.’ Frankie said. 
Bo frowned. ‘Does it have to do with Carly?’
‘And you.’
‘What’s going on?’ Shawn Douglas demanded.
‘Whatever it is, please tell me it’s not something that’s going to upset Carly; she’s recovering from what she went through and I don’t want any nasty surprises.’
‘Bo, calm down; it’s nothing like that.’ Frankie placated. ‘Let’s all sit.’
Bo sat down, eyeing Nicholas suspiciously. ‘So, what’s this all about?’
Nicholas also sat, placing the briefcase he was holding on the table.
‘First off, I know what you and Shawn D probably think of me, that I turned a blind eye when my father abused Mum. Uncle François here thought the same thing when he came to where she was hospitalized in the South of France. But I swear, I honestly didn’t know he was doing  those things to her. He covered his tracks all too well and he completely had me fooled, you must believe me.  I knew nothing, if I did, I would’ve put a stop to it.’ Nicholas said earnestly.
‘Go on.’ Bo said quietly.
‘After Mum moved back to Salem; not only did I take over the reins, I began reading Father’s  journals.’
‘That sick bastard kept journals?’ Shawn Douglas asked, disgusted.
‘Yes and it's unsavory reading; I suppose I was trying to see it for myself, what he managed to hide from me for so many years. Every entry was detailed, talking about how he hated you and Mum for ‘betraying’ him and how leaving welts on her body and… violating her was his way of punishing you.’
Bo’s mouth tightened, feeling sick to his stomach.
‘Anyway, they were really distasteful; there were weeks I would leave off reading them but I continued. But after a while,  I noticed some journals were missing; vital ones dated after my father killed… killed… the baby Mum was expecting. The first person I could think of who might have stolen the journals was Vivian. I forbade her from setting foot into the Alamain compound but it turned out she bribed one of the maids to burglarize my study and take those specific ones. After the chit admitted it, I flew over to Paris to demand them back from her. I was using the journals as leverage because Vivian was going to tell the press it was Mum who killed Father; twisting everything to make her appear a murdering psychopath. But on the way there, I kept wondering why Vivian didn’t have the maid take all the journals, just those ones.’
‘Did you get them back?’ Bo asked.
‘Yes, right after I almost choked her.’ Nicholas’ eyes flashed angrily. ‘This woman stole me and buried Mum alive, so I was done being diplomatic. Luckily for me, I got there on time because she was planning on burning them. On reading, I realized why she stole them. It took me a while to sink in what I discovered.’
‘Which was?’
Nicholas turned to Frankie. Frankie leaned forward, his elbows resting on the table. ‘The baby... survived.’
A stunned silence.
‘No… no way!’ Shawn Douglas exclaimed at last . ‘I don’t believe it!’
More than shocked, Bo shook his head, unable to believe it either. ‘How is that possible? A baby couldn’t possibly have survived after its mother was stabbed in the stomach, more than once.’
‘That’s what the journal revealed. It seems incredible but true.’ Nicholas went on with his story. Carly was stabbed, six  times. When she started bleeding, the doctor Lawrence had on standby to clear up the mess; performed a caesarian operation, to get out the fetus and get rid of it immediately. But it turned out the baby was alive when brought out of Carly, who was unconscious the whole time. The reason, according to the doctor, whom Nicholas and Frankie spent a very long time tracking down; the baby survived because aside from Carly’s pregnancy fat protecting her vital organs, the baby was in the breech position- which had saved her life.  
Lawrence first reaction was rage and disbelief, his first instinct to finish what he started. But instead, for his own reasons; decided to let the brat live but Carly will never know the baby survived. While Carly lay very ill from the operation and loss of blood, the baby was taken away and kept under intensive care in a private hospital. Once the child was strong enough, Lawrence’s lawyer arranged a private adoption of the child, a baby girl. Lawrence’s journals didn’t indicate who the adoptive parents were in the journal, so Nicholas had carried out his own investigations, with Frankie’s help.
‘ The girl was adopted by an American couple; a Trent Becker and his girlfriend Jane.’
‘Wait a minute, Trent Becker?’ Bo exclaimed, hoping he heard right.
Shawn Douglas frowned. ‘That name sounds familiar, where have I heard it from?’
‘It’s the alias Trent Robbins used for years before moving here.’ Bo explained, his heart racing, not daring to hope. ‘Trent Robbins was Max’s father, he was murdered a few years ago. And Max’s half-sister is… Melanie Layton.’
‘You mean Nathan’s wife?’ Shawn Douglas exclaimed.  
‘Nathan’s wife, who used to date Phillip, a nurse at the same hospital Carly works and Carly’s matron of honor.’
‘‘You know this girl then!’ Nicholas exclaimed sharply. ‘Bo, this girl is your daughter, yours and Mum’s… my sister! And yours too, Shawn D!’
 Bo went speechless, unable to believe it; still shocked and amazed. If it was true, then his child with Carly had been right under his nose the whole time.. Melanie Layton Horton was his daughter, their daughter.  
 ‘It’s the truth Bo, Melanie is Carly’s daughter and yours.’ Frankie said. ‘I would call it divine providence that she ended up here in Salem and Carly coming back some time later. I wanted you to know about this first before we break it to Carly. It’s going to come as a shock to her of course, and Melanie.’
‘Papa… what do you reckon?’ Shawn Douglas asked, when Bo still didn’t say a word.
For Carly’s sake and his own, Bo wanted to believe this sudden and unexpected miracle. But he didn’t want Carly to embrace this joyous news only to be bitterly disappointed afterwards. ‘We need to be absolutely sure about this  before we tell Carly anything.’ He said at last, his tone resolute.
‘I figured you would say that and I agree.’ Frankie replied. ‘Obviously you want to  carry out a DNA test.’
‘Obviously.’ Bo said firmly. ‘Until we are positive, we don’t say a word to either of them.’
Lucky for them, obtaining DNA samples from Carly and Melanie was surprisingly easy. Returning from the bridal store; Carly, Melanie, Belle and Chelsea stopped by the Brady pub  and Carly was delighted to see Nicholas and Frankie; introducing them to Melanie. When they were ready to go home, Bo discreetly took the spoons Carly and Melanie used to eat their ice-creams and took them to the police lab, handing the lab tech a sample of his as well. ‘I want the results ASAP, understand?’
‘Yes, sir.’ The young woman replied.

Bo was on edge the rest of the day and the next morning, much to Carly’s astonishment. By evening, the results were given to him. 
He and Carly were Melanie Horton’s biological parents. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015


Carly went on with her therapy and each day, found herself slowly healing more. Losing Bo’s child was still a deep scar in her heart she wasn’t sure she’ll ever really heal from, however. And there was no possibility of ever getting pregnant again, the damage to her womb far too severe. But she cheered herself up with thoughts of Ciara, who was now a big part of her life  and Shawn D who still loved her as much as she loved him.
More than ever, Melanie attached herself to Carly, very sad over her tragedy. No longer  the young woman with a huge chip on her shoulder ever since she got to know Carly better, she and Carly shared a bond that was almost sisterly. Melanie found herself telling Carly about her miserable childhood and how her late father, Trent Robbins, had pimped her out like a common prostitute to settle some gambling debts. ‘Imagine a father doing that to his own daughter.’ She said bitterly. ‘Until Max came to Rome looking for me, I didn’t even know I had a brother. And I let what happened define me until one day I realized I was making a mess of my life. I suddenly found myself entering the nursing program.’
In turn, Carly told her about how her parents arranged her betrothal to Lawrence when she was a mere child and how she ran away from boarding school to avoid it. Melanie listened in disbelief as Carly also told her how Lawrence  tricked her and kept plaguing her life after she met Bo. And there was also the story of his evil aunt Vivian who stole her son, burying her alive, her amnesia and leaving Bo; which she’ll always regret. More so because Bo told her, after putting the ring on her finger, that he would’ve stayed with her after Hope’s return.
 ‘Fate pretty much threw us both a lot of hard knocks, you especially. But I stopped living in the past a long time ago. You should too, Carly.’ Melanie said soberly. ‘And don’t let it ruin what you now have, a future with Bo.’
‘I just hope fate’s done with me at last. What I don’t need is another twist of it or more drama.’ Carly said dryly. Marlena and the women in her support group emphasized she was a victim of circumstances and she mustn’t keep feeling she had a hand in what happened. And like Melanie reminded her, she did have a future ahead of her. Spending the rest of her life with the man she loved. She and Bo were still taking it slow and careful in the bedroom, Bo only touching her when she initiated it. They tried making love properly some nights ago, Carly longing to be joined with him. But on feeling him against her thigh, she shrank away in terror, weeping in Bo’s consoling arms afterwards.  One step at a time but how long will it be before she was back to being the passionate woman Bo remembered? If it wasn’t for his kindness and patience, Carly would go crazy.
That evening, Carly glanced at her watch. It was time to call it a day already and she contemplated getting some Chinese for Bo and herself on the way home. Just as she was taking off her white coat, Bo appeared at her door; grinning. Carly’s eyes swept over him as he was looking spruce in a dark blue suit, white shirt and dark blue tie. ‘Well…’ she said, moving to kiss him. ‘What’s the occasion then?’
‘A special date.’ He replied, his brown eyes dancing with mischief. ‘I’m taking you for a night on the town.’
‘Ah.’ Carly couldn’t help smiling back, pleased. She then noticed the garment bag slung over his arm. ‘Did you pick that from my closet?’
‘No, I stopped by a boutique and requested something fabulous for my beautiful fiancée. I hope you’ll like it.’ he said, handing it to her.
‘So where are we going?’ Carly asked, filled with anticipation.
Bo gave her the humorous exasperated look she always found endearing. ‘You know I’m not going to tell you that, that’s why it’s a surprise. Now go on and get dressed.’ Kissing her, he left the office to let her change.
Excited over a fun filled evening with Bo, Carly quickly discarded her blouse and skirt and unzipped the garment bag, her eyes widening at the deep red silk dress with  narrow straps and a rather low cleavage but to her relief, a high back; which would shield her scarred back from view.
‘Oh Bo…’ she murmured, overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness, before slipping it on and zipped it up, securing the hook. After brushing her hair, Carly applied makeup and sprayed on a little perfume.
Bo was waiting for her when she came out. Suddenly shy and feeling like 25 again, she fidgeted; blushing under his warm eyes. ‘You like?’ she asked softly as he walked up to her.
Bo smiled, loving her so much. ‘I love. And you look… absolutely perfect.’ They kissed, watched by a few nurses nearby, sighing at the romantic picture the couple painted.
‘You’re still not going to tell me where we’re going?’ Carly asked as Bo led her by the hand to the elevator.
‘No, and don’t bother guessing either.’ Bo replied as the doors closed.
‘Why not?’
‘You’ll see.’ Bo squeezed her hand, anticipating Carly’s reaction to their date he carefully arranged especially for her; one of the numerous new memories he wanted to give her. First off, he took her to a popular bar for drinks. And then on to the theater, to watch a live musical play.  To Carly’s amazement and delight, it was The Princess & The Pea. Carly was so touched she couldn’t say a word, instead hugged Bo in silence after they took their seats. Bo kept his arm round her shoulders, occasionally glancing at her during the show. She looked at him tenderly. They both remembered vividly the night at the lighthouse years ago where, to pass the time, they played the princess and the prince of the classic fairy tale.
‘The play was so great,’ Carly enthused as they left the theater after the show was over. No wonder you didn’t want to tell me… it was a wonderful surprise.’ Her arms went round Bo’s neck. ‘Thank you so much, sweetheart.’
Bo smiled, one hand brushing her cheek. ‘You don’t have to thank me, princess. Besides, the date’s not over yet.’
‘There’s more?’
Much more.’
“Much more” was a drive to the marina, where Bo led Carly to a brightly lit boat that turned out to be a floating restaurant that offered not only a buffet but live entertainment and a one hour cruise.
‘I can’t believe you did all this,’ Carly said as Bo poured wine in their glasses and made a toast.  
‘I wanted this night to be really special for you. How have I done so far?’
More than enough. I love what you did and I love you.’ Carly reached out for his hand, which he grasped immediately.
‘I love you too.’ Bo said, rubbing her hand with his thumb, focusing on Carly’s face. Her cheeks were rosy and her green eyes… so alive and happy, no longer aloof and hard. She was healing and putting the past behind her. There were a few moments of sadness but she always let him in, instead of shutting him out; of which he was grateful for. ‘You look exceptionally beautiful tonight.’
‘You make me feel beautiful.’ Carly said softly. ‘Besides, look at this lovely dress you got me.’
‘You can be dressed like a hippie and you would still look beautiful. It’s not the dress anyway, it’s you. A woman’s not beautiful when she just has a pretty face. She has to be beautiful inside; kind, brave, with a loving heart and who puts anyone before herself. That’s all you and that what makes you beautiful.’ Bo said expressively, still holding her hand. ‘And I put this all together to let you know what you mean to me.’
Carly blinked, willing herself not to cry; touched by his words.
‘I’m so lucky, to have you back in my life. And I promise you, we’re not going to screw up this second chance.’
‘No, we won’t.’ Carly whispered. ‘I don’t ever want to lose you again. I’ll never leave you again.’
‘You better not,’ Bo replied, ‘because I will never let you go.’

Bo and Carly drove home, riding up the elevator to their loft, holding hands. On entering, Carly waited for Bo to slide the door shut before walking up to him, her arms sliding up his neck. Their kiss started gentle but began stoking a burning passion within them and became hard and demanding. Instinctively, Bo’s hands went down her back to cup her hips, hungry to feel her softness against him but at the last minute curbed himself; breaking the kiss.
‘No,’ Carly protested softly, not letting go of him.
‘I don’t want to scare you, princess.’ Bo said, his arms round her waist. ‘We agreed…’
‘I know,’ Carly touched his face. ‘You’ve been so patient and understanding and I love you so much.’
‘And I love you too much to make you  afraid of me.’
‘I shouldn’t be afraid to make love with you, Bo. I want to, I want you; I want to make love with you exactly the way we used to.' 
‘You know you can’t rush it , or force yourself. PSTD takes time to overcome. It’s not like we’ve not been trying.’ He stroked her cheek, the heated look in his eyes causing her to blush.
‘I feel it’s going to be different this time. And not just because of the meetings and sessions with Marlena. It’s you and our love; a whole lot stronger than anything.’ Carly slowly peeled the jacket of his shoulders, loosening his tie. ‘Lawrence has nothing to do with us and I’m not going to let the memory of him come between us. Right now, all I see is you… not him. I need to feel you against me, really feel you…’ she kissed him and he kissed her back eagerly; holding her tightly against him. Instead of recoiling, she pressed herself even harder against him, their breathing unsteady.
Bo lifted Carly up in his arms and carried her into the bedroom. He set her down and resumed kissing her, savoring the sweet taste of her as he held her face between his hands. It was going to be different this time, he detected a new urgency coming from Carly, her eagerness matching his own. But he was going to make sure not to make a wrong move and ruin things.
Carly unbuttoned his shirt and peeled it off him but when her hands moved to the waistband of his pants to unbuckle his belt, he stopped her, gently placing her hands down. Pushing back strands of hair from her forehead, he nuzzled the side of her neck, moving to stand behind her. Slowly, he unzipped her dress, peeling it down. Carly tensed, closing her eyes; waiting for his reaction to the ugly whip scars across her back.
Bo’s fingers moved over them, anger towards Lawrence and ache at the marks of Carly’s sufferings stabbing him. Leaning down, holding her by the waist, he traced them with his lips; his warm breath caressing her skin. Carly trembled, sighing; her hand reaching up to touch him but Bo again gently lowered her arm. Turning her round slowly to face him, he kissed her again, walking her backwards until her back was pressed against the wall. ‘Bo…’ Carly whispered when he broke the kiss.
‘Hush,’ he said softly, pressing a finger against her lips before nuzzling her neck, moving down to her heaving black lace encased breasts. Kneading them, Bo kissed the soft flesh before moving further down to her scarred stomach, tracing them gently with his mouth.
Carly leaned against the wall helplessly, passion and longing surging through her as Bo sensually rained kisses and caresses all over her body  but refusing to let her touch him. He was driving her crazy with want and agonizing waiting as her knees buckled, his lips trailing her thighs.
Cupping her hips, Bo kissed his way back up, recapturing her mouth.
Carly’s hands moved up his hair roughened chest, moaning in protest when Bo again removed her hands. ‘I need to touch you…’ she pleaded.
‘Not yet,’ Bo whispered, hungry for her touch but determined to prolong the moment. Reaching behind her, he unlocked her black lace bra and Carly’s breathing grew faster, a cry of pleasure as he lowered his head to suckle her, causing the ache in her loins to reach boiling point. Bo finally took her hands and placed them on his chest and she immediately wrapped her arms round him, both groaning in the sensual feel of their chests against each other. With fingers slightly trembling, Bo tugged her panties downwards and she stepped off them, still clinging to him.
‘Make love to me, Bo.’ Carly pleaded, pressing herself against his arousal. ‘Make love to me now.’
Without a word, Bo lifted Carly, carrying her to the bed. This time, there were no more walls. Their lovemaking was passionate yet tender, Bo flooding her body with ecstasy, finally giving in to his own as they came together.

Monday, October 05, 2015


Bo woke up when the early morning sun shone against his face, making him blink. The room was filled with golden light and as sleepiness wore off, he remembered where he was; Carly’s lake house, miles away from Salem. She was asleep, her face relaxed. At the hospital she told him there were nights she couldn’t sleep because of haunting nightmares. But last night was uneventful; she’d lain in his arms peacefully. It was just like he told her over dinner; they were connected in several ways and he liked to think that she drew therapeutic strength from him. Accustomed to waking her up with kisses and caresses to arouse her when they lived on the boat; it took a bit of effort to curb himself. He had to think of her emotional well-being and not his libido. So instead, he kissed her on the forehead and gently got out of bed, wanting her to sleep longer.
A quick shower later, he dressed and went downstairs. It was quite a sunny morning and quiet except for a few birds singing and the soft splashing sound of the lake behind the house. It’s really beautiful here, Bo thought again, taking out what he forgot to bring in last night from the car. They’ll spend lots of weekends here together from now on, maybe bring Ciara along. Bo hid the items behind the kitchen door before raiding the well-stocked fridge- yet another modern appliance they didn’t have at their cabin- to fix breakfast.
Carly came down eventually in a pink bathrobe, walking to hug Bo from behind as he was busy at the stove. He turned immediately to pull her against him, kissing her deeply. ‘’Morning, Sleeping Beauty.  You looked so peaceful; I didn’t want to wake you.’
‘Good morning,’ Carly smiled faintly, looking over his shoulder at what was cooking on the stove. ‘Need a hand with that?’
‘Oh no; you sit over there and let me be your chef, go on.’ He maneuvered her to the kitchen table and in a few minutes served them both scrambled eggs and sausages. Carly was more than willing to bring Ciara along when they came over for weekends, when Bo mentioned it. ‘Of course I’d love to have her here.’
‘Are you sure it won’t be… hard for you?’
Carly immediately knew what Bo was referring to. ‘No. I really want to get to know Ciara. I won’t let the past stop me from having a relationship with her. She’s a part of you, just like Shawn Douglas is and I got to share him with you. I want it to be that way with Ciara too, if she’ll let me.’
‘She will,’ Bo assured her.
After breakfast, Carly unwrapped her present, a fishing pole. ‘The deluxe of fishing poles and I got one for myself too.’ Bo said.
‘The long awaited fishing rematch, huh?’ Carly said dryly.
‘Of course! You got that big lake behind this house and I intend to finally win.’
‘Well, don’t burn our catch this time! What’s the point of getting seven fishes and I ended up not tasting any?’
Bo gave her a mock glare as his reply.  
The caretaker, who Carly retained to look after the place when she wasn’t around, came in his truck to bring Carly an apple pie his wife made for her and was introduced to Bo. Jim nodded affably to Bo, pleased to see Carly had company for once. He and his wife long felt Carly must be very lonely at the house by herself; as the previous owner always brought his children and grandchildren along. After inviting them to a family barbecue at his ranch, he took his leave.
Later, Bo and Carly walked down the jetty to catch some fish. ‘I’d sort of miss my homemade contraption though,’ Carly teased.
Bo rolled his eyes. ‘Yeah… the instrument of my humiliation. It still beats me how you were able to catch even one with that thing.’
‘Ingenuity and good luck, my love.’ Carly said, skillfully securing her line.
It turned out not a victory for either of them but a draw; between them they caught four fairly big trout. But what they enjoyed more was each other’s company in the tranquil setting. And it was a perfect time for what Bo wanted to do. Taking Carly’s left hand, he removed the pave-diamond wedding ring he once resented and now hated with a vengeance, off her finger. ‘You don’t need to hide behind this anymore.’ With a strong arm, Bo viciously threw it into the middle of the lake. Pulling a small box from his back pocket, he opened it and Carly’s eyes filled with tears at the beautiful solitaire emerald surrounded by tiny diamonds, unable to speak. Bo took her hand and slid the ring onto her finger; before kissing her. They needed no words.
Nicholas chatted with Carly via Skype to look in on her, like he did during her recuperation at the hospital. Bo still felt rather antagonistic towards the young man, yet to really believe Nicholas truly didn’t have a clue of what went on all those years. But for Carly’s sake, he forced himself to be civil when Carly called him over to her side to say hello.
‘Congratulations Mum.’ He smiled as Carly held up her hand for him to see the ring. ‘And congratulations Bo, I’m so happy for you guys. By the way, Commissioner of Police? What do your officers say about your Harley?’
 ‘My biker/Harley days are long gone.’ Bo said dryly.
‘Yeah, right; I find that hard to believe. Mum, I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to come over but I honestly can’t get away right now. Are you sure you’re completely alright?’
‘I’m fine now, honey; really; I was treated by great doctors and Bo’s been taking great care of me.’
‘Well, I’ll be in Salem once I wrap things up here. Love you Mum. See you, Bo.’
The remaining time they spent at the lake house was idyllic. They went on hikes, had picnic lunches, did more fishing and explored the small town, where Bo got to meet some of the other residents who knew Carly. But on their last night; Carly woke up from a nightmare screaming and Bo held her in his arms, whispering soothing words to her.
‘Just breathe, concentrate on the sound of my voice princess,’ he said, rubbing her back as she sobbed against his neck.
‘I’m sorry…’ she clung to him.
‘Don’t apologize, it’s okay.’ He said, kissing her brow.
‘Will this ever end sailor?’
‘It will princess, eventually. Give it time. Time heals…so does love. And you got that, lots of it.’ Bo said softly. ‘You want me to get you anything?’
‘No… no, just hold me.’ Carly nestled closer against him. ‘I love you.’
‘I love you too, princess.’ Bo kissed her brow again. ‘Just relax and close your eyes ; go back to sleep.’
‘Talk to me… talk to me about anything.’
‘Okay,’ his arms still round her, Bo settled back against the pillows and began reminiscing about their time in Chichén Itza; especially the tender moment he proposed to her at the Mayan Ball court and when they pledged their love to each other on top of El Castillo. Carly smiled, her hand rubbing his chest. ‘Can we go there for our honeymoon?’
‘Sure, whatever you want. But we’ll have to wait a while to get married then. We’ve got work to make up for in the meantime, remember?’
Carly sighed wistfully. ‘I wish we could stay here longer.’ She rubbed his chest again, fingering the familiar old medallion. ‘It’s been heavenly; the two of us alone like this.’
‘I know what you mean, it’s like been on the boat again; just us and the sound of the water.’ Bo stroked her hair. ‘Don’t worry princess; we’re going to spend more time here whenever we can.’
 ‘What are things going to be like when we get home? It’s one thing for the family to apologize to me but us engaged now, will they accept that? I guess Roman might but what about everyone else?’
‘I guess it’s pretty poor form they changed their minds about you after hearing about what Larry did.’
‘Sort of. I want to say that I understand but it still hurts they thought about me that way, that I would actually connive to hurt you and Hope, just because Billie did.’
‘I’m really sorry about that. It wasn’t fair you of all people had to pay for what she did. But they’ve realized they were wrong and what’s really important, what we feel about each other. Hope’s already accepted the situation and taken responsibility.’
Carly raised her head. ‘And you honestly wouldn’t mind her moving on with someone else too?’
‘Come on, Carly; why would I mind? I thought we’ve long gotten past this.’
‘I’m sorry, it’s just that your life these past years were far better than mine, even with the problems you had now and then. Frankie was the one who told me about Hope coming back, while I was recovering. He wasn’t trying to make me feel bad; he just wanted to prepare me when I said I wanted to move back to Salem. The whole time I was in that nursing home, I looked back on how I allowed myself to be swept away by Lawrence again and what a fool I was. And I thought about you and what you must have thought of me, probably hated me…’
‘I never hated you, not for a second.’ Bo said vehemently. ‘I won’t lie though; it hurt me a lot when we broke up.  And I felt it was best if I just moved on instead of dwelling on the memories of us, what we weren’t able to have or what might have been. I hope you understand.’
‘I do.’ Carly touched his face. ‘Anyway… even with the changes I was determined to come back. When I saw you that night at The Java, what I knew I still felt for you all came rushing back. And I thought, just as well you were married; I won’t have to tell you what happened. It was enough just to see you sometimes and… keep loving you without you ever knowing.’
‘Damn it,’ Bo said, feeling angry and remorseful all over again. He shifted to his side, facing her. ‘I love you, Carly; you. I’m right where I want to be and there’s no way I’ll ever let you go again, ever. Don’t ever think for a second I’ll ever leave you. More than ever, I know I want to be with you for the rest of my life… because we belong together.’
Without a word, Carly kissed him, wrapping her arms round his neck. They lay nestled against each other until they fell asleep again.
For Carly’s sake, the Bradys and the Hortons all agreed with Bo and Roman not to speak of Carly’s abuse beyond their town, in case the press caught wind of it. Jennifer especially promised not to write anything about it or tell Jack; he would be adamant about making Lawrence’s abuse public. Shawn Douglas was appalled when Bo told him the whole story via Skype; shedding angry tears. Bo moved aside for Carly to talk to him and the two shared an emotional reunion, placing their hands on the screen. Like Bo, Shawn Douglas found it very hard to believe Nicholas didn’t know about his father’s abuse until the fateful day he found them in the cellar. But not wanting to argue with Carly, he congratulated her and his father on their engagement; promising to come over with Belle and Claire for the wedding after they fixed the date.
Hope found it very hard to face Carly, remorseful and embarrassed after everything she accused her of but was determined to put up a brave front. She went over to see Carly at the hospital, finding her in her office. After awkwardly but sincerely apologizing to Carly, Hope added soberly, ‘With all I was throwing at you, you were keeping such a terrible secret. I can’t imagine what you must feel about me.’
‘The only thing I ever wanted was for you to believe I didn’t come back to Salem to ruin your marriage.’ Carly said quietly.
‘I think deep down I knew you were innocent, but I guess my jealousy and paranoia as you called it refused to let me admit it. I did everything except do the right thing, accept responsibility when I should have. And you warned me but I was too angry and stubborn to listen to you, or anyone else for that matter.’ Hope replied. ‘I feel so stupid for accusing you for something that was actually my fault. I’m so sorry Carly, for everything… my attitude and my God… what that man did to you.’
‘It’s all in the past now.’
Hope saw the emerald engagement ring on Carly’s finger but couldn’t bring herself to congratulate her. Instead she swallowed painfully and said, ‘I have to go now. Take care.’
Carly watch her leave in silence.
Since she was yet to return to Salem, Marlena had scheduled sessions with Carly via Skype, with Bo present at Carly’s request. In addition, Marlena recommended an abused women support group; giving Carly the address. Sharing in front of strangers was very hard at first but as Carly kept attending the group’s meetings, she felt the burden slowly lifting from her shoulders and found herself sleeping better.
Bo, now living in the loft with her observed Carly seemed to be doing better. All the same, he kept the promise he made to her. No passionate spontaneity with her or touching her intimately when they lay against each other in bed. Not being able to make love was hard on both of them but Bo refused to let Carly feel guilty about it. Like he said, they were connected on many different levels and even though they were yet to make love, the reunited couple never felt closer. In their spare time, they went on outings, sometimes alone and sometimes with Ciara whose presence cheered up Carly considerably. The little girl brought Carly further out of her shell and Bo was very glad to see Carly smiling over his daughter, her green eyes warm and lustrous again.
One evening, as they lay together side by side, Carly turned to Bo. Having thought long and hard, she made a decision. She wasn’t going to let sheer fear or the memory of Lawrence come between her and the man she loved any longer. Bo has been more than kind and patient; the least she could do was make an effort. So she moved over, kissing him on the mouth. Bo was surprised but returned the kiss, wrapping his arms round her before pulling back, his expression inquiring.
‘Let’s try, Bo.’ Carly whispered, stroking his cheek.  
‘Princess, you’re not ready.  You don’t have to feel obligated, we have an agreement. The last thing I want is to do anything to scare you.’ Bo protested.
‘If I don’t conquer this one step at a time, I may never be ready. I really want to try.’
Bo stared at her, running his fingers through her hair. ‘If you’re sure.’
‘I am.’ Was Carly’s firm answer.
‘Okay.’ He pulled her down, exchanging a heated passionate kiss, freeing her mouth to softly kiss down her neck, before gently rolling her onto her back.
‘Could you turn off the light?’ she requested softly as he lifted the hem of her tank top. ‘Just for tonight.’
Bo guessed she didn’t want him to see her scars. He wanted to say it didn’t matter to him, which was true but to make her feel comfortable; he turned off the table lamp. Brushing her soft lower lip with his thumb Bo kissed her again, savoring her eager response; feeling her hands run down his shoulders and back. In the dark, he pulled the tank top over her head and tossed it aside. Carly wrapped her arms round him, sheer heated pleasure flowing through her as she felt the familiar hard body against hers, her hands moving down to caress his hair roughened chest.  Leaning down he gently caressed her breasts, feeling her tremble but not with fear; brushing the hardened peaks with his lips before taking them into his mouth. Carly arched against him, her hands gripping his shoulders, tiny cries coming from her.
Bo moved down her body, tracing and kissing the scars on her stomach. But when his hand moved between her thighs, he felt her stiffen but she didn’t push him away. Bo could feel her staring up at  him.
‘He’s not here,’ Bo said softly, stroking her hair. ‘It’s just you and me, princess. Just us.’
‘Okay,’ she whispered back, parting her legs. Bo greatly longed to be inside her but instinct told him she may not be ready to go that far. Instead he peeled off her panties and stroked her, bending his head into the crevice between her thighs. Carly gasped, whispering his name pleadingly as Bo sensually and ardently consumed her, her nails digging into his shoulders. Finally her release came and she shuddered, panting.
Bo kissed his way back up, cradling her trembling body against him. His own need was unsatisfied but for now, it was all her.
One step at a time