Sunday, March 10, 2013

CARBO FAN FICTION- Return Journey Chapter 13





Chapter 13
Two weeks later...

Doug Williams was very upset about his daughter and couldn't help feeling that Hope’s  mother was reproaching him from Heaven. Addie had carried Hope to term even though she was stricken with leukaemia, refusing any form of  treatment. 



They were overjoyed when Hope was born a perfectly healthy baby but nine days later, Addie Horton Olson Williams was killed by a hit and run driver, saving Hope by pushing the stroller away in the nick of time. Grieved by Addie’s extreme sacrifice, Hope was sheltered, pampered and greatly loved by Doug and the rest of the family; more or less the favourite one. But all the love in the world hadn't shielded her from what she went through over the years and now, his daughter was in danger of going back to prison. Despite his recommendations, Hope insisted that Justin should be her lawyer; she refused to have anybody else. It was almost as if she didn't care whether she ended up in prison or not and that’s what disturbed Doug especially.
In court, he looked at Carly long and hard as she gave her testimony in a calm, clear voice. He was not living in Salem during the time Bo and Carly were together; he and Julie were divorced for the second time back then so he never met her. But during the occasional phone conversations with her whenever he wanted to know how his grandson was doing, Julie had told him about the beautiful  young doctor who was being a mother figure to Shawn D and how Bo was stubbornly denying his feelings for her. Personally, Doug felt a young woman of Carly Manning’s aristocratic background could do far better than his son-in-law but apparently like his daughter, she too was falling under his spell. He heard about her marriage to Victor which had greatly amused him because he’d sensed from Julie’s bitter and unhappy tone that she had feelings for that infamous gangster herself. Tom and Alice had spoken of her with warm affection; Tom often saying what a brilliant and talented physician she was and Shawn D’s letters were full of enthusiasm and fondness for his father’s new girlfriend. Looking at the still very beautiful woman at the witness stand, Doug didn't know what to feel for Carly Manning. His loyalty to his daughter was unshakable, she came first as always. Everybody was hell bent on blaming Carly, but even he knew from the pit of his stomach that Tom and Alice wouldn't do that if they were alive right now- their love for Hope notwithstanding. Carly Manning didn't sound like she was exaggerating; her tone neither  malicious nor accusatory, her words were simple and to the point.  
‘Does Mrs. Brady have any reason to suspect you’re presently having an affair with Detective Brady?’ asked Justin.
‘No; we broke up several months ago.’
‘She claims she saw her husband leaving your house two nights before the incident.’
Carly looked at Justin impassively. ‘Yes, he came to my house. He found out that our daughter was involved with my colleague; Dr. Daniel Jonas. He was angry I didn't tell him about it. We fought over it and then I asked him to leave.’
‘How come he didn't know?’
‘Objection, irrelevancy.’ The assistant D.A said.
‘Overruled.’ Judge Renee Harris replied. Slightly smirking, Justin repeated his question.
‘He didn't know because our daughter had been estranged from him since we broke up and I haven’t had contact with him since then, until a prowler broke into my house and attacked Darcy. Of course I had to inform him about it.’
‘So, there is no resumed affair between you and Detective Brady?’
‘Absolutely not.’
‘Who is the father of your baby, Dr. Manning?’
‘Objection; irrelevancy!’ Assistant D.A Bennet said again, glaring at Justin.
‘Sustained. Mr. Kiriakis, you will stick to pertinent questions only, do I make myself clear?’ The judge said curtly.
‘My apologies, Your Honour.’ Justin turned to Carly again. ‘Is it true that Detective Brady sent flowers to you the next morning? Yellow roses, weren't they?’ Hope had told him about the conversation she’d eavesdropped.
‘Yes. Like I said earlier, we had a fight. He wanted to apologise, from what I saw on the card.’
‘And what did the card say?’
Carly felt herself growing red. ‘It said “Forgive me, princess.”’
‘Yet you say you’re not having an affair with him.’
‘No, I’m not. “Princess”  has been his nickname for me long before we ever became a couple years ago; a private joke between us. He wanted to apologise for the fight we had.’
‘Did you accept his apology?’
‘No, I was still very angry with him. I told an orderly to throw them in the trash.’ Carly didn't look at Bo’s direction.
Justin nodded, looking visibly disappointed. ‘No further questions, Your Honour.’
Ms. Bennet asked Carly, ‘Dr. Manning; before this incident, did you ever have any form of  altercation with Mrs. Brady?’
‘An exchange of words, yes.’
‘What happened?’
‘Mrs. Brady came to the hospital when the family was visiting Darcy after her attack; I assumed that she came to visit her too. But she said Darcy had made it clear she disliked her and accused me of deliberately setting Darcy against her.’
‘And what was your response?’
‘I denied it; then she said she won’t allow me to use Darcy  come between her and Bo. That was when I told her that I was leaving Salem after I give birth.’
‘You were already planning on leaving town before the incident?’
‘Yes. My son, Nicholas suggested the idea of moving to England and after I gave it some thought I decided to just do it.’
Ms. Bennet nodded. ‘What is your opinion of Mrs. Brady, Dr. Manning?’
‘Objection, bias.’
‘Overruled.’  
‘Dr. Manning, what’s your opinion of Mrs. Brady?’ Ms. Bennet repeated. ‘Do you see her as a very possible threat to your safety or to your daughter’s?’
‘No, I don't.’ Carly replied.
‘Dr. Manning, I must remind  you  that you are under oath. You were assaulted by this woman, you could have lost your baby. And let’s not forget that she once tried to kill the father of your daughter...’
‘Objection!’ Justin barked.
‘I’m simply stating the  facts Your Honour, no bias.’
‘I will allow it. Continue.’
‘If you had suffered a miscarriage that fateful day, would you still say that Mrs. Hope Brady is not a danger to your safety and therefore does not deserve to be punished?’
All eyes were fixed on Carly who kept her green eyes on Ms. Bennet. ‘Yes, I would probably still say so. Hope was jealous of me long before her husband and I began our affair; she accused me to my face of having an ulterior motive of coming back to Salem after so many years. After she heard of my history with Bo, it was obvious she was threatened. I thought  maybe it was mostly because she and Bo were in the middle of a divorce but I later found out she heard wrong, exaggerated things about me from certain people.’ She shot tight lipped Justin a brief dirty look. She continued, ‘Hope isn't dangerous or malicious. She’s nothing but a person who allowed lingering feelings of paranoia and insecurity to overwhelm her and evolve into rage. She doesn't need punishment but much needed counselling. That’s what I honestly feel.’ Carly now looked at Hope. She looked thin in the orange prison jumpsuit and her pale face made her cold, dark eyes larger.
‘No further questions, Your Honour.’
The judge nodded. ‘You may step down, Dr. Manning.’
Carly rose on unsteady feet, her back aching her, longing to go home. Frankie rose from his seat when she reached him, slipping his arm round her shoulders. ‘Are you okay?’ he asked quietly. She nodded, fervently hoping that what she said would be taken into account. She smiled faintly at Shawn Douglas as he squeezed her hand. Nicholas, Lynn and J.J were at home with Ciara; Carly had said they didn't have to come but Darcy had insisted. And the only Brady present besides Bo was Roman; Maggie and Nathan had come with Doug and Julie- Victor too hadn't showed up.
Doug hadn't expected Carly Manning to be so unprejudiced and diplomatic; it astonished him and from the look on Julie’s face, she too was amazed by Carly’s statement.
 ‘Did you offer Dr. Manning a check of five million dollars, Mrs. Brady?’  Ms. Bennet questioned Hope after she was sworn in.
‘Yes.’ Hope’s answer was as sullen as the expression on her face.
‘And why?
‘I wanted her to leave Salem. I wanted her out of my life.’
‘How was she affecting your life?’
‘Objection!’ Justin rose. ‘Prosecution’s badgering my client.’
‘Overruled; the defendant will answer the question.’
The sentence “My husband is still in love with her” lingered on Hope’s tongue but she didn't want the bitch to feel important nor clear the path for a reconciliation between her and Bo. Carly’s statement only made Hope hate her even more; she’d painted her as some sort of loon and at the same time made everybody see her as the compassionate victim in all this. Whether she went to prison or not; she and Bo will never be together again, she knew that already. 
‘Carly’s not my husband’s only mistress. The last one he had did all she could to ruin my marriage, and I knew Carly was going to the same thing; she was just waiting for the right time to set her traps. And she also managed to turn my son against me. I had to do something so I went to her office to buy her off.... to make her leave us alone.’
Bo looked down at his clenched hands while Roman shook his head in disgust.
‘Did you hit her or push her?’
‘I hit her.’ Hope muttered.
 ‘Was it your intention to attack Dr. Manning? Or did she provoke you?’
Suddenly Hope’s rage and resentment climbed up. Who did the stupid woman think she was, asking her that question as though she wanted to see if she was crazy? ‘You know what...fuck you.’ she spat; causing everybody in court to gasp.
 ‘What the hell is she doing?’ Shawn Douglas asked, horrified to the core.
The judge banged the gavel for silence. ‘Mrs. Brady, you will cease to use profanity in my courtroom or I will find you in contempt.’
‘I don't care what you do to me. I didn't do anything wrong and I’m not crazy! Yes I hit that bitch because I hate her; if I had my gun with me that day I would’ve shot her in the neck!’ Hope snarled, turning to glare at a stricken Carly. ‘I don't need your charity, you whoring bitch... I would’ve sent you and your little bastard to hell where you both belong... and send that miserable bastard along with you later!’
‘Mrs. Brady!’ the judge barked. But Hope wasn't done. Her eyes blazed at Bo’s direction. ‘I was never enough for you! The whole time I was gone, you forgot all about me... you were up to you neck with whores! That’s why it was so easy to jump into bed with your precious princess when she came back, you filthy excuse of a husband! I should have soaked you with acid when I had the chance!’
Maggie and Julie covered their mouths with both hands, unable digest what they were hearing. Justin was frozen in shock. Bo shook his head as Roman patted him consolingly on the back. Nathan stared at his raving cousin, wishing Melanie had come along to witness this spectacle. Doug suddenly felt sick.
‘Bailiff, take this woman out of here now!’ The judge shouted. Hope was dragged out of the courtroom.
‘Ms. Bennet, Mr. Kiriakis; approach the bench.’
‘I... I don't believe she just... damn it.’
‘Bo, stop it. You just have to face it once and for all... she’s not the little girl you once knew. Now you see she really did want to kill you, it wasn't the drugs; it was her all along. And think of what she could have done to Carly. She’s not misguided, that’s a  very vengeful woman there.’ Roman pointed out.
Bo’s expression was bleak. ‘I just thought that Carly was right... that all she needed was therapy and Hope would at least admit she was wrong, for the sake of going back home to our daughter. But then we hear this!’
‘There’s nothing you can do and not in way is this damn mess your fault. We’ve seen Hope in her true colours and she’ll pay the price. It’s out of our hands.’
Julie was sobbing in Doug’s arms, Maggie was crying too but Bo made no move to get up and go over to console them; he felt so far apart from them right now.
‘Pa...’ Shawn D appeared behind them, Darcy on his arm.
Bo turned but Carly wasn't there. ‘Where’s Carly and Frank?’ he asked as his children sat down, reaching out to briefly stroke Darcy’s hair.  
‘Maman suddenly felt faint so Uncle Francois took her home.’ Darcy replied. ‘But Papa, what is going to happen to Hope now?’
‘Is there a chance that Justin might be able to convince the judge that Mum didn't know what she was saying; that she just needs help like Carly said?’ Shawn Douglas asked hopefully. ‘Mum can plead insanity.’
‘Shawn D, she was evaluated before the trial- she’s not insane.’ Roman replied.
‘But how do you explain what we just saw here?’ Shawn Douglas’ expression was troubled. ‘Did she actually mean everything she said?’
‘Looks that way, son. Your mother has  lot of pent up rage, that’s what we all saw.’ Bo replied quietly.
‘Oh God...’
‘I’m sorry son, I’m really sorry.’
‘No Dad... it’s okay. Even I sensed something was off whenever I visited her. It’s just a shock, hearing her say all those things.’
Personally, Darcy saw Hope as how she described to Melanie- a bad seed; an evil, unrepentant woman and Melanie had agreed with her, she never really believed that story about Hope not knowing what she was doing when she’d almost murdered Bo. But for Shawn D and Ciara’s sakes, she too hoped that the verdict from the judge would be psychiatric rehabilitation for Hope. Ciara needed her mother.
Nathan walked up to them. ‘The hospital just paged me, I have to take off now.’ He glanced at where Maggie, Doug and Julie sat. ‘Bo, I know you and Shawn D are  probably still mad at them because of Carly but please... they are still your family. They really need some comforting right now.’
Bo got up, his face hard. ‘I have nothing to say to them. If they truly loved Hope like they always say they do, they should have told her the truth; that she was acting like a child and being unfair to her husband when she walked out of our house, with our daughter, instead of telling her what she wanted to hear and gathering together to blame an innocent woman for the breakup of our marriage. And this is the last time you or anybody else will tell me what to do. Come on kids, we’re going home.’ He grabbed Darcy, pulling her to her feet. Shawn D got up as well.
‘I didn't mean anything, hey...’ Nathan began but Bo roughly shoved him aside, tucking Darcy’s hand under his arm.
‘You guys go. I’ll stick around to hear what Justin says.’ Roman said, leaning forward to kiss Darcy on the cheek. ‘Go.’
Bo led his children out of the courtroom; slipping his arm round his daughter’s slim waist. On his next visit in jail, he will have the divorce papers- which already had his signature- with him.
:::::::::::::::::
‘Oh my God...’ J.J was so amazed that she was momentarily speechless. ‘She actually said all that in court... right there? She’s completely barmy...mental! It’s almost as if she wants to go to prison; without even giving a thought about her daughter.’
‘I don't think I’ve ever seen such raw hatred in somebody’s eyes before, it was so horrible. And I gave her the benefit of the doubt... I actually thought that deep down she was upset and ashamed about what she did and that it was the drugs that led her to hurt Bo. Now I don't know what to think.’ Carly held the cup of herbal tea Lynn made for her with trembling hands. ‘And the biggest irony... years ago when I first met Bo, when I watched him mourn her, when he refused to talk about her at first... I had this image a woman I could never measure up to.’
‘Please... you’re worth ten of that woman.’ Lynn replied scornfully. ‘And the real irony is that Bo left you for that psychotic bitch.’
‘Some connections just aren’t meant to be broken, Lynn.’
‘Mum, stop talking like that and don't make excuses for that man.’ Nicholas said harshly. ‘He broke your heart; he left you out in the cold and renewed his vows with that woman. Now we know that she would’ve killed you! He chose a would be murderess over you!’
‘Do you suppose he’ll stick by her or divorce her this time?’ asked JJ. 
Carly sighed, sipping the tea. ‘I don't know. Whatever Bo chooses to do about his marriage... it has nothing to do with me and divorcing Hope will definitely not be in my account.  But... after Hope is sentenced, Ciara is the one who will really need comforting.’
‘Poor little girl, who will tell her? And I can’t even imagine what Shawn D is going through right now, watching his mother ranting like a maniac like that. He must have been horrified.’
Frankie shrugged. ‘Shawn D has seen Hope’s true colours and somehow Ciara will have to be told her mother is going to prison.’
‘We still don't know if that’s going to happen.’ Carly reminded her brother. ‘The judge may decide that she actually does need help like I said. And maybe somehow... Hope will be able to start over after her rehabilitation. The rehabilitation itself might give her some perspective as well.’
Frankie grunted. ‘All the same, Hope’s a dangerous woman. Whatever the judge decides to do with her, I don't care. I just don't want her back on the streets any time soon.’
They all turned as the front door opened and then closed. ‘We’re home.’ Shawn Douglas entered the living room, leading Darcy by the hand.
‘What happened?’ Carly sat up in her chair, her tone anxious.
‘Uncle Roman called Papa while we were having coffee at The Java.’ Darcy shook her head. ‘The judge is going to convict Hope.’
Carly gasped, covering her mouth. ‘Oh Shawn D, I’m so, so sorry sweetheart!’ she said, getting up to put her arms round him. ‘I tried... I did all I could...’
Shawn Douglas hugged her tightly, his face impassive. ‘I know and I love you very much for what you did. But it’s what I got to accept after what we saw in court.’ He stroked her hair. ‘What my mother has become... it’s definitely not your fault, Carly.’ 
‘I’m sorry too, man.’ Nicholas said awkwardly. He hated Hope but Shawn D was his friend and the pain was evident in his voice.
‘Me too, son. I can imagine what you must be feeling.’ Frankie squeezed his shoulder. Lynn and J.J hugged him in silence. Shawn D squeezed his eyes shut as the tears flowed down his cheeks. Carly put her arm round her daughter, wondering how on earth Bo will break the news to Ciara who was coming home from school in an hour’s time.
::::::::::::::
Ciara didn't take the news well at all. Bo came to the house later in the evening and gently told his little girl the truth. She sobbed uncontrollably and when she didn't stop crying, Shawn D and Darcy had to intervene; Darcy held her little sister tightly in her arms until she cried herself to sleep. Bo felt so sad for his children, silently thanking Carly for taking Ciara in; she needed a haven during this difficult time.
Carly was alone in the living room when he came downstairs, her face serious. ‘When will... when is the sentencing?’ she asked quietly.
Bo shrugged. ‘On Friday. Hope dug herself into a hole so the judge’s pretty much providing that hole with a lock and key. I had no idea she felt... all that rage and hate.’
 ‘I don't know what to say, except that I’m sorry. I still can’t help thinking I’m to blame for this.’
‘For god sake Carly...’
‘Hope wouldn't have felt so insecure if I had left town immediately after you and I broke up!’
‘How could you be so sure of that now, after everything she said in court? You honestly believe that Hope’s psycho rage would have stayed buried for the rest of her life as long as you weren't here?’
‘I don't know Bo. She’s your wife; you never believed she was capable of hurting anyone. You credited yourself as being the only one who knew her very well... I sure as hell don't know her as deeply as you do. Or rather, as deeply as you thought you knew her. I’m more upset over how this is affecting Shawn D and Ciara... they are hurting so much, especially Ciara.’
‘Yeah. We Bradys and Hortons have gotten our share of pain and what else and we always somehow managed to overcome it and get on with our lives.’ Bo replied, his voice quiet. ‘And whether they like it or not, the family is going to have to accept that Hope is going to prison. She’s not the Hope I fell in love with so many years ago; she hasn’t been for a long time. I guess we’re both on the same boat, Carly. We both lived with an illusion.’   
Carly looked down at her hands, unable to speak. She was suddenly terrified of what might come next; Bo asking her to give him another chance- start a rebound relationship. She couldn't bear the idea. His love for her wasn't the forever kind; he’d admitted as much the day they broke up, a day that still filled her heart with agonizing sadness whenever she remembered it.
‘Carly,’ Bo said hesitantly; unable to hold back what he was feeling any longer.
Carly braced herself. ‘Yes?’
At the last second, Bo decided not to do it; now was definitely not the time, like Darcy had pointed out to him. Instead, he moved forward to take Carly’s hand and squeeze it. ‘Thank you for being there for my children, considering what happened between us... the way I treated you.’
‘You know how much I love Shawn D especially; I’ve always regarded him as my son and I always will, regardless of everything that happened between us.’ Carly replied, not looking him in the eye as she removed her hand from his grip. ‘I’ll do all I can for Ciara while she’s still living here with us. In time, I hope she’ll be able to come to terms with her mother being away from her for a long time and just try and get on with her life. But in the meantime, you should go home and get some sleep.’
Bo nodded. ‘Yeah, it has been a long day.’ He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek but she shrank back. ‘Don't...’ she murmured, averting her eyes.
‘Right... I’m sorry.’  He muttered. ‘Good night.’ Abruptly he left the house.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::
Vivian’s body servant Gus Pascal was present during Hope’s trial; choosing a seat at the far corner and wore a disguise to avoid being recognised. Back in Vivian’s rented house, he gave a vivid account of what happened, leaving nothing out.
Vivian sighed. ‘That foolish woman... giving in to her emotions so swiftly; very stupid of her!’
‘What now, Madame?’ Gus asked.
‘Hmmm. I really can’t help feeling sorry for Hope Brady. Without a huge effort, Carly has ruined her life in one big swoop.’ Vivian rubbed her cheek with a well manicured finger. ‘I think... my dear Gus; that Hope suspected what I’ve suspected for a very long time.’
‘Which is?’ Gus was curious.
‘That Bo Brady’s the father of the baby Carly is expecting.’
‘But isn't that what most people think right now?’
Vivian shook her head. ‘I doubt it. Carly’s a very proud woman; she would never admit such a thing to the man who humiliated her so much. Besides, luring a man back to your side via a pregnancy would be a hollow victory.’
Gus nodded in agreement; Vivian had tried doing that with Victor after getting herself inseminated with Kate’s stolen embryo- the result being Phillip- but Victor had chosen Kate over her all the same, to her anger. ‘What are your plans for Dr. Manning now, Madame? Do you plan on... stealing her baby to punish her for Mr. Lawrence’s death?’
‘Carly’s little bastard is of no use to me; I stole Nicky because she didn't deserve him after dumping my nephew the way she did. And she’s now turned him against me!’ Vivian’s lips tightened. ‘And what with that damned restraining order and Victor of all people now her ally I can’t touch her... at least for now. If Carly’s baby suddenly disappears after it’s born, I will be labelled the first suspect, make no mistake. But in due time, she will get her just deserts, if it’s the last thing I do. I just need to find the perfect plan. Maybe Hope will help me out with that. If she had confided in me when she had the chance, her current predicament would have been prevented.’ She shrugged, smiling. ‘But it’s not exactly too late. In this dark time, Hope will need a shoulder to cry on and I’ll be happy to oblige. After all, we wronged women have to stick together.’

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
‘Boy, you don't waste time, do you?’ Hope said cynically. ‘You’re so desperate to rid yourself of your crazy, murderous wife that you just couldn't wait to bring me these.’
‘Cut the crap, Hope. You didn't honestly think we had anything left after all this?’ Bo asked coldly. ‘Especially now that I finally know how much you’ve really hated me all this time.’
Hope leaned forward, placing her elbows on the table. ‘This is just a lame excuse Brady; you’ve wanted to get rid of me for a long time now. At least be a man for once and admit it. You didn't ask me to move back in because you loved me, you did it because you felt some stupid sort of obligation. The whole time you were missing that whore.’
‘I admit this much; I made a mistake letting our past come between me and Carly. I mistook nostalgia for love and our eventual divorce would have ended better than this, if you hadn't let your jealousy get control of you. At least we would parted as friends for the sake of our children; instead I’ll always think of you as the woman who could’ve killed Carly. Even if you don't sign these, I don't consider you my wife anymore. Our reconciliation was a huge mistake.’
‘Falling in love with you in the first place was the biggest mistake I ever made. The whole time Dad called you trash and I defended you instead of agreeing with him.’  Was Hope’s equally cold answer as she slid the papers towards her. ‘Pen.’
In silence, Bo handed it to her. In silence, Hope briskly signed them then passed them back to him. ‘Done, I’m officially out of your life.’
Bo got up, avoiding her eyes. As he turned to go, Hope said, ‘Brady.’
‘Yeah?’ he asked, looking at her.
‘Just because you decided to end our marriage because of that woman, don't think you are ever going to have a happy ending with her. Neither of you deserve to be happy after you both hurt me so much. And you won’t be... because every night before I go to sleep I’ll be cursing you two.’ Hope rose and the guard led her out of the room. Shrugging, Bo took his leave.
:::::::::::::::::::::
Carly opened the door and blinked at the sight of Sami’s older sister Carrie, holding a bouquet of yellow roses in one hand and a pink box in the other hand. ‘Hi, Carly.’ she said quietly. ‘Can I come in?’
‘Uh, of course.’ Carly stood aside for her to pass. Carrie entered, looking round. ‘You have a very nice place.’
‘Thank you. Look at you... all grown up.’
Carrie shrugged rather shyly then held out the flowers to Carly. ‘These are for you. And this too.’ She gave her the box. ‘Chocolate covered cheese cake; you know...  pregnancy cravings.’
‘Umm... thank you. Can you stay for some iced tea?’
Carrie nodded, following Carly to the kitchen. ‘Where’s everybody?’
‘Daniel took Darcy out, Shawn D went to pick up Ciara from school and Frankie and the others went to the market.’ Carly put the cake in the fridge, bringing out a glass jug. Carrie sat at the counter, watching as Carly filled two glasses.
‘You’re surprised to see me?’
‘Surprised, yes. But I am very glad to see you. The last time I saw you, half of your face was covered in bandages. The surgeon came through from the look of things.’
Carrie shrugged again. The acid attack actually meant for Austin was far behind her. She sipped her drink while Carly put the flowers in water.
‘So... how is Austin?’ Carly asked, breaking the awkward silence.
‘He’s great. We’re doing great.’ Carrie swallowed, feeling very uncomfortable; she had thought this would be easy. ‘I... I spoke with Sami a few days ago. She told me what happened... what Lawrence did to you for years. I found it hard to believe but it seems it’s common knowledge; more than half the world knows what he did to you and what he turned into- a psychotic, abusive husband. When I first heard that you had killed him, I was shocked and very angry, you know. I mean... I once loved him very much and I was jealous of you because he clearly preferred you even though you were in love with Uncle Bo that time and would never cheat on him.’
‘I never did.’ Carly said quietly.
Carrie nodded, biting her lower lip. ‘I felt that it was unfair that you left Salem with Nicky... leaving Uncle Bo standing there and then coming back to start things up again; I resented you for that. I finally asked Uncle Bo exactly what happened between you two after I talked to Sami and he told me how Lawrence took advantage of your amnesia... everything. And all I could feel was shame for not hearing your side of the story in all this.’ Tears slid down Carrie’s cheeks. ‘I came over here to say how sorry I am... for misjudging you, for actually thinking such horrible things about you, after the many times you were there for me when I was a kid...’ Her voice breaking, she got up from the stool to hug Carly tightly, weeping. ‘I’m sorry, Carly; I’m so very sorry!’
Carly held her, stroking her blond hair. ‘Carrie, it’s okay... come on, stop crying.’ She raised the young woman’s head, wiping away her tears. ‘I have no grudge against you and I’m more than willing to continue where we left off.’
Carrie sniffled, gripping Carly’s hands. ‘You really want to do that?’
Carly nodded; her own eyes teary. ‘I do. I may have done a good job of hiding it but I miss the family and I’ve been so sad not being a part of them like before. Except for your father, Shawn D, Brady and Sami... I’ve been a stranger to all of them.’
 Carrie hugged her tightly, pressing her cheek against Carly’s. ‘We’ve all been so stupid and horrible! And all because you haven’t changed, when we should be thankful you’re still you.’ she stroked Carly’s back. ‘I’m so glad you’ve forgiven me.’
‘There’s nothing to forgive... seriously. And listen...’ Carly pulled back to look at Carrie. ‘Don't speak to anybody on my behalf, okay?’
‘Why not?’ Carrie asked, astonished. ‘It’s about time that they started making amends...’
But Carly shook her head firmly. ‘No, honey. If they want to ever make amends, it should be when they want to; not because they were told to. You can’t make them change their minds about me; they have to do so themselves. Besides...’ she shrugged, ‘these days I don't let it worry me too much. It’s one of the ways I managed to move on with my life. So please Carrie... the fact that you came here and we’re friends again, is enough for me for now.’
The two women hugged again.
::::::::::::::::::
When Darcy became blind, she nursed a secret worry that her infliction might turn Daniel off and he would find her less attractive. But their lovemaking was incredibly  and amazingly more intense than it’s ever been; probably because of the heightened touch of his hands and lips on her skin as he slowly undressed her and the even more heightened  touch and feel of his hard, glorious body under her hands. She gasped, gripping his muscular shoulders as they moved in sync, Daniel’s lips moving from her neck to her mouth, kissing her passionately. Finally, he collapsed against her with a guttural moan. ‘My God... you’re amazing.’ He whispered, his face buried against her neck. Darcy stroked his trembling back, hugging him  in tightly in silence.
‘You’re kind of quiet, honey. Anything wrong?’ Daniel asked after several minutes later as they lay cuddling.
Darcy caressed his chest, feeling his fingers play with her hair. ‘That evil woman wanted to kill my parents, she actually admitted she nursed that dark yearning to kill them. And the most frightening part is the way she appeared so normal the whole time.’
‘Hmm... it was really creepy, yeah. But it’s more or less over now; Hope can’t do anything to hurt anybody for a long time.’ Daniel assured her. ‘And now Bo can finally be free of her.’
‘I know, cher... I know. But I just hope that my father won’t be too impatient to reconcile with Maman; I don't want her to be accused of taking advantage of that evil woman’s situation... that she waited for Hope to be out of the way before moving in on Papa.’  
‘Bo’s not dumb enough to do that; he loves Carly enough to protect her from more defamation. Besides that, he can’t expect her to take him back that quick.’
‘That’s what I told him. I want her to be happy again but he has to do it properly and very carefully.’
‘Oh, he will.’ Daniel enfolded her closer in his arms. ‘I gathered from our talk at The Cheating Heart that he has a lot planned to make it up to Carly.’
Darcy smiled. ‘He does?’
‘Uh huh.’ Daniel kissed her forehead. ‘Just like I have a lot planned for us. After your surgery, we have a lot to do. Our wedding and then the honeymoon.’
Frankie initially wanted to recommend a friend in Washington who was an eye specialist but Victor had unexpectedly flown in one from New York and after thoroughly examining her eyes, Dr. Amory had said she definitely needed surgery so she was going to go to New York via Victor’s corporate jet with Daniel. Carly won’t be able to go; out of obedience of her doctor’s strict orders to rest and no travelling after her narrow escape. ‘Where would you like to go?’
‘Tahiti.’ Was Darcy’s immediate reply. ‘Maman used to live there and she’s told me a lot about the sandy beaches there.’
‘Tahiti it is. And I’m gonna spoil you rotten... besides making love to you every night...’ he growled in her ear, making her giggle.
‘Is that a promise?’
‘You bet your sweet ass, baby.’ Kissing her, he rolled over onto her back and they made love again.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Shawn Douglas took his little sister for ice cream after picking her up from school and had a long talk with her. By the time they got back to Carly’s house, she still looked sad but somewhat more prepared to accept that she wouldn't see her mother for a very long time. Carly and the others went to their way to make a fuss of her and Ciara stayed close to Carly the whole time. Carly didn't ask Shawn Douglas what he said to Ciara but she was glad it seemed to help. Ciara didn't cry, she meekly ate the food  especially prepared  for her and smiled faintly when Carly promised to put a T.V and DVD player in her room when it was ready.
‘I’ll be flying back day after tomorrow, Carly.’ Shawn Douglas told her as she was loading the dishwasher.
‘Not exactly the vacation you had expected, huh honey?’ Carly asked.
‘That’s putting it mildly.’ Shawn Douglas smiled mockingly. ‘A lot of things have happened but what are you going to do?’ he shrugged.
‘Again... I am so sorry.’
‘It’s okay, Carly.’ He took her hand. ‘My mother brought all her problems on herself. But I never suspected she’d carried so much dark resentment the whole time. And what is getting me going is my other Mum... you. You did all you could to help my Mum even though you didn't have to and I’ll never forget that. You’re the most warm hearted, kindest woman I know.’ He smiled faintly. ‘I love you so much.’
‘I love you too, honey.’ She held his face. ‘If you ever, ever feel the need to talk... I want you to call or email me any time of the day, okay?’
He nodded then rested his hand on her stomach. ‘You’ll let me know when my little brother comes?’
Carly chuckled softly. ‘You think it’s going to be a boy?’
‘Yeah, somehow I feel it’s going to be a boy. It will be like...’ he swallowed, ‘like Zack coming back to us.’ His eyes suddenly looked sad. ‘Do you know that... Zack’s liver saved Claire’s life?’
‘Your father told me.’ She squeezed his hand. ‘It was a terrible time for all of you.’
Shawn Douglas’ voice was low. ‘Belle and I never told anyone this... while we were with Claire after her surgery, we saw Zack’s ghost.’
Carly’s eyes widened. ‘No...’
‘He was right there. He smiled at us and said, “Don't be sad, I’m okay.” And then he vanished again. He was such a great kid, Carly; so unbelievably sweet.’ A tear flowed down his cheek and Carly wiped it with the back of her hand, unhappy at his sadness.
‘So many things happened to us while you were gone, Carly. I love Mum... I really do. But I can’t help but think sometimes that most of those things wouldn't have happened if you and Dad were still together... if you’d been able to marry.’ More tears flowed down his cheeks. Carly’s mouth trembled as she wiped them away again.
‘Fate doesn't always give us what we expect.’ She whispered.
‘I know.  While I was so mad at Dad for hurting you, I was so thrilled when he told me about Darcy. I thought at least one of the things I wished for when you and Dad were still engaged was granted after those turbulent years. And this baby is going to be the next thing... it  will  sort of make up for what Fate denied and took away from us. More than ever , I’m happy you came back.’
‘Oh son...’ Carly was very moved.
‘Will you now tell Dad that he’s the father?’
She shook her head. ‘I don't know, it’s complicated. Somehow... it would be like adding salt to your mother’s wound if I tell him the truth. It would be in poor form if I tell him now that she’s in prison.’
Shawn Douglas smiled cynically. ‘Please Carly... how do you know Mum didn't already suspect that it’s his? Wouldn’t that explain why she finally snapped? I think you should tell him.’
Carly turned away, folding her arms. ‘I don't know, Shawn D. It doesn't feel  right to tell him at this time. Besides, he will insist on his rights and I won’t be able to go to England.’
‘Then don't go!’ Shawn D turned her around to face him, his expression earnest. ‘Don't go, stay in Salem instead.’
‘I’m not just going to England to find some peace; I want to get away from your father.’ Carly stressed. ‘It’s so bad between us now that we can’t even be friends. And I don't think that the family...’
‘Screw the family!’ Shawn Douglas snapped impatiently. Don't allow them to write out your destiny for you; this is your home! You didn't do anything wrong and my little brother has the right to know where he comes from.’ He took her hands. ‘I know you’ve been very sad and I know you’ve been hurt. But please...  think it over Carly; please.’
With great effort, though she wasn't at all sure she would change her mind, Carly nodded in agreement.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::
After Shawn D left town, Carly’s family also said their tearful goodbyes; wishing Darcy best of luck on her surgery. Frankie left a stern instruction to Carly about calling him and J.J at least once a week to let them know how she was doing; Nicholas said the same thing.
Melanie, Maxine and Adrienne and sometimes Victor dropped by the house whenever they could to keep Carly, Darcy and Ciara company. Maxine told her that Lexie was still very ill and was on leave; the hospital staff was yet to know what was wrong with her. Carly called her on the phone but Abe gently told her that Lexie was asleep and needed lots of rest so Carly sent flowers and a Get Well card.
 And in the meantime, Bo dropped by as arranged to take Ciara out to spend time with the family and Doug and Julie who were still heartbroken at Hope’s fifteen year sentence.  Apart from Carrie, Sami and Brady; Carly still had no encounter with the family although Roman sometimes called her over the phone. And things were still so very awkward between her and Bo. Their conversations were stilted, they couldn't each other in the eye and Carly found it more and more difficult to hold her temper when he called her “princess”. She still felt he had no right to call her that and part of her resented the fact that she was still very much in love with him; it was like her emotions was  holding her hostage and keeping her trapped. She thought over what Shawn D had said  but found it difficult to decide if she would tell Bo that he was the father nor not.
Soon, it was finally time for Darcy and Daniel to go to New York. Bo came by the house with Daniel to drive them to the airport.
‘I really wish I could go with you.’ Carly fretted as she hugged her daughter.
Non Maman... remember  you have to follow doctor’s orders; I’ll be alright.’ Darcy assured her. ‘And Ciara will look after you for me, won’t you my love?’
‘I will!’ Ciara promised, holding Carly’s hand. Bo smiled down at her, raising his warm brown eyes to look at Carly intensely. It was becoming more difficult to keep his feelings to himself but Daniel and Darcy had already warned him that he had to give it some time. Screw time, he wanted Carly!
‘Come on you guys; we can’t keep the pilot waiting.’ He said, tearing his eyes away. He’ll just have to exercise patience; it was always worth it in the end.
::::::::::::
At about 12.45 a.m; Carly was awakened by the persistent ringing of her doorbell. Hoping the noise hadn't woken up Ciara, Carly carefully climbed out of bed, slipping a robe over her night gown.
‘Carly?’ Ciara hovered by her bedroom door, blinking sleepily; holding her teddy bear by the ear.  
‘Go back to bed, sweetie; I’ll see who it is. Alright... I’m coming!’ She lumbered down the stairs.
Roman rang the bell for the fifth time and finally  heard footsteps on the other side of the door. ‘Who is that?’ came Carly’s sleepy, exasperated voice.
‘Carly, it’s Roman.’
Bolts were pulled back and the door was unlocked. Carly blinked, staring up at him sleepily, her hair tousled around her face. ‘Roman, what’s going on? It’s almost one in the morning.’
Roman took her by the shoulders, his face grave. ‘Bo was shot tonight. He’s at the hospital.’
 Carly staggered slightly in Roman’s arms; feeling like her heart was just ripped from her chest. ‘Is... Is he...?’ her voice shook.
‘No, he’s not dead. But he lost a lot of blood and before he was lost consciousness, he kept calling your name; he begged me to get you.’
Carly couldn't speak; she was still in shock at the news.
‘Carly, this is a matter of life and death; my brother needs you right now. Can you come with me?’ Roman demanded.
Carly nodded; her mind in a daze. Please God, don't let my darling die! 



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