Frankie’s usually genial face was contorted with anger as he paced up and down the waiting room; very anxious about his sister and vowing all sorts of revenge if Carly lost that baby.
The head nurse, Maxine, had called the police and Hope was arrested for attacking Carly and he would dearly love to see just how she would wiggle her way out of this one. The only person he’d ever felt the intense hatred surging through him right now was for Lawrence Alamain for what he did to him, Carly and Jennifer. Now the hatred was extended to the Hortons and his ex-family, especially Bo; that bastard who toyed with his sister’s feelings and made a complete fool of her. As if leaving her pregnant wasn't bad enough, his demented bitch of a wife had put her hands on Carly and lord knows if the baby would survive after that fall. Oh, she was going to pay... all of them were going to pay for this.
‘Pacing isn't going to help... for god sake come and sit down, love!’ JJ- full name Jacqueline Jane- tall, beautiful and Black British with a broad Liverpool accent, pleaded. ‘She’s going to be alright.’
Frankie turned to her fiercely. ‘That is exactly what she said to me when I begged her to come live with us... “I’m going to be alright”, “I’m going to be alright”! What’s been alright with her since then? Darcy was attacked in their house and now she’s blind; right this minute, that baby’s life is probably hanging on the balance! What did my sister ever do to have all these terrible things happen to her... just what? I can’t believe they pardoned that bitch in the first place- she might have killed Carly and no one would’ve known!’
Nicholas was at a corner, talking to his sister on the phone and then hung up. ‘I managed to convince Darcy not to come down here- Melanie’s at the house with her and Lynn.’
‘Maybe now Carly will listen to me about getting the hell out of this town once and for all.’ Frankie said, his tone very bitter. ‘Lord knows what else might happen to her and Darcy at the hands of the creeps living here.’
‘Darcy won’t leave Salem; she’s engaged to one of the doctors here- Daniel Jonas. He asked her to marry him a few days ago.’ Nicholas said. ‘But the good news is that Mum’s handed in her resignation and she promised to move to England after the baby’s born.’
‘Let’s just hope that the baby’s still alive!’ Frankie fretted, his hands balled into fists.
JJ, who knew the whole story from beginning to end, rubbed his shoulders from behind consolingly. ‘They are both going to be alright, please try not to think the worst. And you heard what Nicholas just said, she’ll be moving away from here; no one to hurt her anymore.’
‘Although I should warn you, Uncle Frank- Vivian’s still here; lord knows why.’
‘What?’ Frankie snapped, his temper rising again. ‘Are you kidding me?’
‘All she’s been doing these days is make a bloody nuisance of herself; at least until I told her to stay away from Mum and Darcy. Besides Mum had her served a restraining order so at least we don't have to deal with her on top of the still unknown prowler and the Bradys.’
‘Yeah, one less enemy to worry about!’ his uncle snarled sarcastically, moving away from his wife’s touch to pace again.
Folding her arms, JJ walked over to Nicholas. ‘Here... don't you think you should call Bo?’ she asked in a low voice.
‘His psycho wife just attacked my mother and you want me to call him?’ Nicholas said incredulously. ‘Why would you think Mum would even want to see him?’
‘I want you to call him...’ JJ said in a calm, cool manner, ‘to tell him not to come to the hospital.’ She glanced at her husband then back to Nicholas. ‘If Bo Brady comes over, all hell will break loose as you very well know. Frankie’s angry enough to pick a fight and the last thing we want is an altercation between them here and cause more nasty talk at Carly’s expense.’
‘There will be nasty talk at her expense; altercation or not!’ Nicholas retorted. ‘Those people are going to take that psycho’s word that it was an accident.’
‘They can’t be that stupid.’
‘Oh... you’ll be surprised! That woman got away with attempted murder, what makes you think she won’t get away with what she did today and Mum’s name gets dragged into the mud once again, huh? Their very precious Hope will be the victim to them, not Mum! They could care less about her, all of them!’ As he spoke, Nicholas suddenly thought of Shawn Douglas and wondered who he would side with in this matter. He was so sweet to Carly during his visit but would he actually believe that his mother assaulted her? Talk about a very complicated dilemma. But there was Darcy’s cousin Brady Black; he was a good guy and Carly and Darcy were very fond of him- so they could count on his support.
JJ gripped his arm, her dark brown eyes hard. ‘I understand what you are saying. But right now, we have to prevent Frankie and Bo from facing each other- so for god sake, bring out the damn phone and call him!’
But Nicholas shook his head firmly. ‘I can’t talk to that man, I despise him too much; I just can’t do it. I’d rather let him get what he deserves than exchange one word with him. And I’m going to see to it that wife of his gets what she deserves.’ He turned away to pace as well.
‘I swear... I swear it was an accident!’ Hope begged yet again, her eyes damp with tears. ‘We were yelling at each other and then the next thing I knew she was on the floor... I honestly didn't mean to push her!’
Roman shook his head, his face grim. ‘Of all the stupid, idiotic things... going to Carly’s office to pick a fight with her and over what? Just because you felt threatened by her? Damn it Hope, do you honestly think that when you get to court, the judge is going to believe that you didn't mean to attack your husband’s pregnant ex-girlfriend?’
‘It was an accident...’
‘You hit her, Hope; there were witnesses who saw you! Can you actually take the stand and call that an accident?’
Hope sprang from her seat, eyes blazing. ‘Those so-called witnesses are her own family; they will say anything to destroy me! It’s not my fault Bo chose me over Carly...’
‘That’s not the issue right now!’ Roman interrupted harshly. ‘For the last time, tell me what really happened.’
‘I want to talk to Bo first; I need him.’
‘No, you can’t talk to Bo; I actually asked him not to be present during this interrogation. Besides, he’s on his way to the hospital as we speak.’
‘You can’t keep my husband from me; you have no right!’
Roman glared at her. ‘May I remind you that I’m the commissioner so I have more than enough authority to do anything and right now, you’re sliding on very thin ice! So sit your ass down right now and let’s get to the bottom of this!’
Hope silently obeyed, face pale and lips trembling. If she was afraid of losing Bo, she was terrified now. Bo will finally divorce her and be a family with Darcy, Ciara and the baby and she will wind up back in prison. And telling everybody that the baby was Bo’s would only add more fat in the fire because it would be immediately assumed that her attack on Carly was premeditated. Cringing, she covered her face with her hands.
Roman sat opposite her and turned on the tape recorder; unmoved and struggling to control his temper as his mind went back to the moment she was brought in with her hands cuffed behind her back and in hysterics; babbling over and over that she hadn’t meant to push her and the arresting officers informing him and Bo that the “her” was Carly Manning. The poor woman just managed to pick up the pieces after a terribly painful breakup and agonising humiliation, was currently dealing with a blind daughter and now Hope has created one huge mess by assaulting her and endangering her baby, after narrowly escaping a long prison term for the night muggings and attempted murder. He watched Hope silently as she gave her statement, disgust and sudden doubt adding to the anger he was feeling. Bo had risked his career and reputation to save her, had abandoned Carly for her, had given an impassioned speech to the judge on Hope’s behalf, everybody had rallied round her in support, including himself because she’d been on drugs and hadn’t known what she was doing... she’d taken the drugs in the first place to sleep and numb the pain of seeing Bo with Carly. No one, not even Bo, had stopped to think why she merely attacked and mugged the other men- him, Abe, Brady, Justin, D.A Woods and E.J DiMera but chose to burn Bo alive. With the crime she’d just committed, Roman strongly suspected that she’d nursed the desire to kill Bo the whole time; an act of vengeance of a woman scorned and not the actions of a misguided, sleepwalking woman under the influence of drugs, the drugs had only brought out that dark desire to the surface and they had all supported her; blaming and ignoring poor Carly, poor Carly!
Roman turned off the tape recorder when she was done; his sympathy towards Carly several notches higher. ‘Let me get this straight, you tried to pay her to get out of town. What the hell were you thinking?’
Hope was silent for a while, drained of energy and trying to bury the rage within her before replying her brother-in-law. Sniffing and brushing back the tears in her eyes she said slowly, ‘the whole time Bo saw Carly last year, I tried so hard not to imagine them together while I was gone years ago. I kept thinking it was the same as his time with Billie and then he’ll come back and ask me to give our marriage a chance again. Part of me thought he was dating her out of spite because I believed Aunt Maggie and Justin when they kept assuring me that Bo loved me and not her. But... when I saw Shawn D with Carly on her porch ... and the way he acted like she’s his mother and not me... the picture of the three of them as a family while I was gone came so vividly in my mind, I snapped! She took over my husband and my son... twice. I was desperate!’ she choked, covering her trembling mouth with one hand. It was easy to say that Carly lured Bo into her bed and Shawn D to support her but in her heart of hearts she knew it wasn't true. Bo was still in love with her, just like he’d loved her the first time; she wasn't like Billie or Megan Hathaway who’d done all they could to get Bo away from her. And that made Carly the biggest threat to her marriage, hence the fateful visit to her office.
‘And no thanks to your desperation; you’ve put a tight noose round your own neck, Hope Brady.’ Roman said coldly. ‘Even if Carly doesn't press charges against you, you know that with your previous record, the judge won’t listen to another plea. This time you’re going to go to jail and frankly I think you deserve it.’
Hope shrank back in her chair, shocked. ‘You don't mean that.’
‘Do I look like I’m kidding? You attacked a pregnant woman, Carly of all people! She let you have Bo back but that was not enough for you. And the fact that Shawn D loves her as much as he loves you doesn't give you the right to do what you did! If you hadn't acted like a brat in the first place, none of this mess would have happened!’
‘Sure and Bo wouldn’t have fallen in love with that woman all over again, is that it?’ Hope challenged, her voice now bitter.
‘With this persistent, paranoid attitude of yours, yeah... I think he would’ve and personally, I would have cheered him on. It takes a lot to make a marriage work and a lot to ruin it; especially lack of maturity.’
‘Go straight to hell.’ Hope sobbed, stung.
Roman got up, signalling the officer by the door to take Hope away.
The whole time Carly was examined, she prayed like she’d never prayed before ; that she wouldn’t be told that the baby was dead or there was a serious complication, promising anything to God for the life of her precious baby, after she fell she’d felt a stab of pain. But to her great relief, the obstetrician told her the baby was fine; she on the other hand had a bruised back and coccyx, severely twisted her left ankle when she fell and her bleeding nose had been immediately taken care of.
‘But you really need to stay off your feet and take it easy from now on. When are you starting your maternity leave?’ asked Dr. Shaw.
‘Next week.’ Carly decided to let Lexie tell everybody that she’d quit; so far no one except Daniel knew about it.
‘Well, I recommend you start from today. Let me know if anything else develops, okay?’
‘Okay, thank you so much Heather; it’s a real load off my mind.’ Carly said gratefully, rubbing her stomach protectively.
‘Does that mean we can take her home today?’ Nicholas asked.
‘Yes, she can go home. But lots of bed rest for the rest of the day, take your vitamins and no heavy lifting.’ Patting Carly’s shoulder, Dr. Shaw left the room.
Frankie kissed the top of her head; smiling down at her. ‘You okay there, sis?’
‘Hugely relieved. If anything had happened to this baby, I don't know what I would’ve done; the whole time I was so scared...’
‘It’s all over Mum, you’re both safe and we’ll take you home now. Darcy must be fretting herself to death. Come on, we’ll grab some Chinese on the way.’
The door opened and Daniel entered the room, his expression sober. ‘Carly, Bo’s outside... he really wants to see you.’ he said quietly.
‘That son of a bitch’s got a lot of nerve! Where is he, I’ll tell him a few things after I beat the shit out him!’ Frankie snarled, moving to the door but JJ and Nicholas immediately barred his way.
‘Frankie, don't!’ Carly snapped. She didn't think her brother would be able to take on Bo but she couldn't allow a physical altercation between them to happen either.
‘Darling, calm down; there will be no fights here!’ JJ said, firmly.
‘Like hell there won’t...!’
‘Francois, I said no! If you love me, you will not walk out that door!’ Carly shouted. ‘While you’re here, I don't want you anywhere Bo at any time.’
Frankie glared at his sister incredulously.
‘Don't look at me like that. I have no loyalty towards Bo; I just don't want any more trouble. I just want to go home, rest and put this incident behind me. No fights- understand?’
JJ looked at her husband with apprehension; wondering if he would heed his sister. Frankie looked like a man ready to commit murder and usually he was good at holding his temper; she’d never seen him like this before.
‘Fine, whatever.’ He muttered, his eyes glinting with anger.
‘Will you see him then?’ Daniel asked. He’d stationed Maxine outside to prevent Bo from barging in.
Sighing deeply, Carly shook her head. ‘I have nothing to say to him so please just tell him to leave.’
Daniel nodded; he hadn't expected otherwise. But Bo was so anxious and concerned about her that he wished he didn't have to tell him that Carly didn't want to see him; it was a huge shame this happened on top of the fight they’d had... just when were they ever going to reconcile, if at all. Closing the door behind him, he walked up to Bo. ‘She doesn't want to see you.’
Maxine snorted. ‘Like that’s a surprise.’ She said, glaring at Bo.
‘Maxine...’ Bo began.
‘Just let Carly be! You’re nothing but poison... a damned jinx! Just leave that poor woman alone and go deal with the crazy-ass wife you picked over her!’
Daniel put his hands on the Head Nurse’s shoulders, trying to placate her. ‘Maxine, I’ll handle this; thanks.’ Ruefully he watched her stride away before turning back to Bo. ‘Looks like you’re in the dog house right now, buddy.’
‘Daniel, I can’t leave without seeing Carly; I have to let her know how sorry I am, how much I love her and want to be with her!’ Bo said, his voice shaky with emotion. To hell with who the baby’s father was, he no longer cared. The child was a part of Carly and he loved Carly- all that mattered was her and the baby he was willing to give his name to and love for her sake. He was so very angry with Hope after he heard what she did that it had taken all his will power not to seize her by the neck and shake her to bits. If he ever needed a sign telling him he made a terrible mistake going back to her- this was it. He and Hope were definitely over this time.
‘I know and I understand. But Carly needs to get over this big scare; so you have to give her some time and space before you tell her anything. And remember I promised I’ll convince Darcy to help me get you guys back together. Just... leave her alone for now. Besides, her brother just got into town. He and Nick saw Hope hitting Carly so he’s out for your blood big time.’
Bo wasn't at all scared of his adopted brother but knew he more than deserved whatever Frankie had in mind for him. His major mistake had caused him Carly’s love, Frankie’s respect; and Darcy’s trust... three people he loved so much. Sighing miserably, he covered his eyes with one hand.
‘Cheer up, Bo. Everything’s going to be alright in time; you’ll get her back and all this will be way behind you both.’ Daniel hesitated, longing to tell Bo he was the father of the baby. There was a very strong possibility that Hope will go to prison for what she did so Carly no longer needed to lie. But he’d sworn he would never tell anybody; Carly and Darcy would be furious if he ever betrayed her trust. ‘Don't worry about Carly, Bo. Give her time to get over this and cool off and for god sake stay out Frankie and Nick’s way.’
Bo nodded, his mind too full of Carly to care about anything else. ‘Sure. You take care of her and Darcy; let me know everything about them- anything that comes up, you hear me?’
The two men shook hands before Bo took his leave.
Meanwhile, there was an uproar at the Brady Pub; the family very shocked and distressed about Hope.
‘Justin, just tell us please... what are her chances?’ Maggie asked, tearfully.
‘Very slim, I’m afraid. With her previous crime, even if Carly doesn't press charges; Hope might do time, without an option of a fine.’
‘Well, you might get the judge to let her pay a fine, however much it is... you can’t let her go to prison!’ Julie cried. Adrienne wasn't there, neither was Brady; as soon as they heard what happened, they’d hurried off to see Carly.
‘I’ll do my best but it’s a very tricky situation. Carly’s pregnant and the judge’s going to know that she and Bo dated- we’ll just have to hope he’ll make her pay a fine or several hours of community service.’ But Justin inwardly doubted it even as he spoke.
‘But how could Hope go over there in the first place, what on earth was she thinking?’ Doug exclaimed.
‘It’s all Carly’s fault... as usual.’ Kayla said bitterly. ‘She obviously just couldn't keep her claws off Bo; probably used that pregnancy of hers to make him feel guilty and manipulate him; who wouldn't get pushed up against the wall?’
‘But that is still no excuse! My little girl wouldn't willfully hurt anybody; she didn't even know when she was doing what she was accused of!’
‘That was before, Doug.’ Justin stressed. ‘Besides, she was sentenced because she tried to burn Bo alive while all she did was mug the rest of us; the judge felt she was acting on repressed desire, drugs or not. This time, she was not on drugs when she was caught attacking Carly.’
‘The worst thing that woman ever did was come back here.’ Julie snapped.
‘Julie, no...’ Maggie admonished, trying to be diplomatic.
‘No, Maggie; you know I’m right! Bo and Hope always managed to get through their rough patches and then Carly came back without warning; after she killed the husband she’d left for Bo in the first place. She had no right to disrupt our lives like this. She’s nothing but a selfish, manipulative bitch!
‘Exactly.’ Carrie agreed, her face hard.
‘Exactly?’ Shawn Douglas slammed the glass door behind him, his face red with anger. ‘That’s what you think about Carly? All of you actually think that of her?’
‘Honey, you weren't here. You don't know what happened.’ Caroline said quietly.
‘Oh, I know exactly what happened! What I don't understand is why you’re all acting like it’s her fault.’
‘That’s because it is; she had an affair with your father, without caring about your mother’s feelings or the fact that they are married! Your mother’s the victim here, not Carly.’ Julie said.
Shawn Douglas Brady felt he was in the middle of a twilight zone. ‘I.. I can’t believe I’m hearing this.’
‘Truth hurts, but that’s how it is.’ Doug said.
‘No, that’s so not how it is!’ his grandson shouted. ‘It definitely isn't!’
‘I guess Carly’s already given you her side of the story.’ Carrie snapped.
‘Carly didn't tell me a damn thing; I got the whole story from Brady and Melanie Layton and you just confirmed what I thought was too disgusting to be true!’ Shawn Douglas shouted back. ‘What did Carly ever do that she deserves to be treated like this? Skip that... how dare you think I would take your side?’
‘Don't you raise your voice like that, young man!’ Caroline scolded him.
‘Don’t “young man” me!’ Shawn Douglas was shaking with anger and disbelief. ‘What the hell’s the matter with everybody? How can you actually forget who Carly is, what she meant to this family, especially me? How can you think or say such a thing about her?’
‘Carly’s not your mother!’ Julie rose from her seat, her voice harsh; her grandson’s stance in the matter infuriating her. ‘Your mother’s in jail right now because of her and you don’t take sides against the woman who gave birth to you!’
‘Oh, I’m supposed to turn a blind eye to what she did to Carly, like you’re all doing right now? Ignore the fact that Mum was the one who made the decision to walk out on Dad and refused to take responsibility for her own decision? If refusing to forget all that or the fact that Carly was like a mother to me; then maybe I just don't belong in this family!’
‘I couldn’t have said it better myself, son.’ Frankie entered, Nicholas at his heels. ‘Couldn't have said it better.’ he repeated, patting him on the shoulder; his cold blue-black looking round the room. Everyone froze and Caroline’s heart sank at the sight of her adopted son... Carly’s brother.
‘Quite a Brady/Horton lynch mob.’ Frankie commented sarcastically.
‘Frankie, sweetie... calm down.’ Caroline said, slowly getting up from her chair, her expression imploring. ‘I understand what you must be feeling right now, but just hear us out.’
‘You don't have a clue of what I’m thinking right now.’
‘Frankie, just listen to me...’
‘No... No... let’s do this instead; I’ll talk while YOU LISTEN!’ Frankie snarled. No one said a word.
Frankie took a deep breath, trying to suppress his anger enough to say what he wanted to say. Shawn Douglas moved to stand next to Nicholas, folding his arms.
‘I called this family my own; I was more than proud to a part of a loving, nurturing family who took me under its wing. I regarded you as the salt of the earth. But then you treat Carly, my sister.... my flesh and blood; who would bend backwards for everyone of you, like dirt... like she never existed in your lives. I couldn't believe you would be capable of being so hateful and sanctimonious and actually regard my sister as an interloper!’
‘If you would just...’ Kayla tried to speak.
‘I’m still talking so shut the fuck up!’ Frankie snarled. ‘I don't want to know the reason why you all turned against my sister; like you even have an excuse to begin with! You obviously care only about Hope’s feelings instead of wondering if Carly’s baby is alright! You don't even feel a sense of shame that Darcy won’t be in the same room with you! I only came here to tell you what I think of you all; you’re despicable, heartless, contemptible people and I’ll never forgive you for what you did. From now on, you’re no longer my family or a part of my life; That’s all I have to say!’
Caroline and Maggie covered their trembling lips as Frankie marched out the Pub with Nicholas.
‘Shawn D, where you going?!’ cried Julie, appalled that he was following them. Shawn Douglas gave her an impassive look then without a word, walked out of the Pub; ignoring everyone’s shouts and protests.
Outside, Frankie and Nicholas stopped and turned as Shawn Douglas hailed them.
‘Shawn D, listen; I know that they are your family, so I don't expect you to actually take sides...’ Frankie began.
‘Take sides?’ Shawn Douglas repeated incredulously. ‘Are you kidding? The whole time I stood there and listened to everything they said about Carly; it was like being among cold, hard strangers. I’ve known them all my life and suddenly it was like I didn't know any one of them.’ He’d felt the same way with his mother when he went to see her in jail; he hadn't recognised the wild eyed, pale woman in the cell; her voice harsh and cold and not at all sorry for what she did. ‘Years ago, Carly was a huge part of our lives but they all deliberately chose to forget that; like she was the one who changed and not them. Even Dad and the way he treated her. I... I don't know what to think, I feel so lost!’ he choked, voice shaking. Moved, Frankie hugged him tightly, Nicholas squeezing his shoulders in sympathy. He understood how his old friend felt ; his father had been his hero until the day he found out he was actually a cold blooded monster.
‘It’s okay, son.’ Frankie said consolingly. ‘Even though I meant every word I said back there, I’m so sorry for what this is doing to you.’
Shawn Douglas sniffled, angrily brushing back a tear with his sleeve. ‘I’ll be alright. And you didn't say anything that they didn't deserve; they needed to hear the honest truth and face up to what they did. I love my Mum but I just can’t condone what she did to Carly, never. This whole thing feels like a bad dream. But what about Carly, is the baby okay... is she okay?’
‘She’s fine; she’s at home resting. You’re coming with? You can crash with us if you like.’ asked Nicholas, happy with Shawn Douglas’ support.
‘Definitely.’ Shawn Douglas followed the two men to their car.
Bo decided to let his anger go down before visiting Hope in jail. He had no idea where Shawn Douglas was but couldn't be bothered; he was a grown man who could look after himself. Ciara was spending the night with Caroline; baffled by her mother’s sudden absence. And there were several messages on his answering machine but he didn't bother to check them. Bo just wanted to be alone with his thoughts.
Leaving the lights off, except for a small table lamp; he sat down on the couch and opened the bottle of beer he’d gotten from the fridge, taking a long swallow. Despite Daniel’s assurances, his heart was very heavy; at the day’s events and how things were between him and Carly. Years back, he pushed her away for her own good and to protect his heart from being broken again- he’d scorned the idea of love which to him only brought pain and tragedy. But he’d forgotten just how the powerful the feeling was and it had led him to Carly and she; who had been hurt badly herself, had embraced it by falling in love with him. He’ll never forget the night she first said those words to him...
‘I love you, Bo.’
He winced. It was only a matter of time before that admission would come from her. He knew he loved her too; he loved her with all his heart and soul, he couldn't help it. But he couldn't set himself up to heartbreak all over again; he could very easily lose her in a flash too. He wasn't worthy of her anyway; Lady Katarina Von Leuschner... what did she see in him and just what did he have to offer her?
‘Love is the last thing on my mind; the last thing I want right now.’ he said gruffly.
‘Love is something that you feel; it just happens.’ Carly said quietly, her expression earnest. And for you and me... it’s happened, it’s there. I feel it, so do you.’
He turned away, refusing to reply that truthful statement.
‘I just told you that I loved you, aren’t you going to react to me?’
Shrugging when he stubbornly remained silent she said, ‘okay, that’s fine because I know I’m right. And every time we are together, that feeling is stronger, Bo. And sooner or later you’ll have to stop denying it. You won’t be able to help yourself.’ Staring at him for a few more seconds, she took her leave.
It had happened for them all those years ago; without warning, without manipulation or planning and it happened again when she came back with their daughter. And like a damned fool, he betrayed her and their love. Bo felt the tears well up in his eyes and he began to weep at the possible bleak future ahead if Carly never forgave him.
Carly sat up in bed when Frankie and Nicholas ushered Shawn Douglas into her bedroom. Her foster son stared at her, unable to speak. Without a word, Carly held out her arms towards him and he went to her, sat beside her on the bed and buried his head against her bosom; sobbing. And like she’d done when he was a little boy and needed comfort, Carly held Shawn Douglas in her arms, stroking his hair and wordlessly gave him all the comfort he needed.