Thursday, April 25, 2013

CARBO FAN FICTION- Return Journey Chapter 16




Chapter 16

‘Hope Brady; you’ve got a visitor.’

Hope looked up from the book she was reading. ‘Who?’ she asked, wondering if it was Bo. She hadn't seen him since she’d signed the divorce papers.

‘Some guy. On your feet.’

Putting down the book, Hope got up and silently submitted to her wrists being cuffed. For the first few weeks back in prison, she’d half hoped that Bo would suddenly appear like he did before and smuggle her out; and then tell her he loved her and all was forgiven. But after two months within these walls, she’d faced stark reality. Bo was never going to come back to free her from this place; she was never going to feel his arms round her again or lie next to him in their bed. He’d chosen that home wrecker over her and she was probably gloating over her long awaited victory at last.

Quelling her inner rage, Hope wondered who her visitor was. So far, all she’d had as visitors were her father and Julie, Maggie and Justin.

The guard opened the door to the visitor’s room and she saw who it was immediately. Vivian Alamain’s goon; Gus Pascal.

‘Ten minutes.’ the guard reminded, moving away to stand by the door. Hope sat down opposite Gus. ‘What do you want?’

Gus took in the sight of Hope Brady, pale and thin in her prison jumpsuit; her hair now lank around her face. ‘I come from Ms. Alamain; she sends her regards.’

‘She can stuff her so-called regards up her ass. I don't want anything from her.’

‘She wasn't sure that you would agree to see her,’ Gus went on as if Hope hadn't spoken, ‘so she sent me over instead. She wants you to know how sorry she is about your unfair incarceration and to give you a piece of information.’

‘And what info is that?’

‘Dr. Manning gave birth to a son three weeks ago and Detective Brady has acknowledged the child as his. The whole town now knows that he is the father.’ Gus watched Hope carefully, seeing the sheer hatred in her eyes at the news; her cuffs hands balled into fists.

‘So she told him in the end...’ she murmured bitterly. ‘A son...’ she thought of Zack; ran over by Bo’s daughter- her darling, little Zack who had only been five when he was untimely killed and Bo had protected his killer... much later on had hooked up with his ex fiancée, now they have a son... yet another betrayal. Carly Manning won in the end. Swallowing painfully, Hope looked up at Gus. ‘Is that all Vivian asked you to tell me?’

‘She hopes that when she comes to see you that you will receive her; she feels that at this time of need- you wish for a loyal friend.’

‘A loyal friend,’ Hope said, sarcastically. ‘Why would I want to be friends with her? What use can she be to me?’

‘More than you know, Mrs. Brady. You both have a lot in common; a need to make Dr. Manning suffer for everything she’s taken from you both. She murdered Madam’s beloved nephew and lured Master Nicholas away from her. She wrecked your marriage and not only has she presented your former husband with a bastard child, your daughter has been living in her house these past months.’

It was as if Gus had poured ice-cold water all over her. Ciara... her precious little daughter living in that woman’s house! Bo had taken their daughter there! Hope’s lips tightened but she managed to control her temper. ‘What does Vivian have in mind?’ she said at last.

Gus smiled with satisfaction. ‘She hopes that you two will be able to come up with something to even the score once you two meet.’

Oh... I do hope so! Hope thought; her mind racing with grim anticipation. Vengeance, sweet, deadly vengeance on Bo and Carly; deny them the happy ever after she swore Bo would never have with her. She and her pal Vivian will definitely work up a plan.

‘You go back to Vivian and tell her I’ll be expecting a visit from her, very soon.’ She said. ‘I definitely will like to see her.’

Gus nodded. ‘She’ll be very happy to hear that, Mrs. Brady.’

Hope nodded back; her dark eyes flashing and he face wearing such an ugly look that none of the Hortons would have recognised her at all.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::

‘Byron Daniel Shawn Brady; I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.’ The priest sprinkled the holy water on the baby, before making the sign of the cross on his forehead. Apparently Byron found the cold water very unpleasant because he began to cry; his loud wails making everyone in church half rise from their seats in concern. When Father Matt was done he handed the baby back to Byron’s godmother- Adrienne Kiriakis, who held him, shushing him consolingly. Daniel, the appointed godfather, stroked Byron’s cheek as he quietened down. Bo couldn't help smiling; Ciara had done the same thing during her own baptism; she’d shrieked loudly as soon as the water touched her forehead. It still felt like a long wonderful dream; he and Carly having another child together, witnessing him baptised too. He’d requested for “Shawn” to be added in Byron’s birth certificate and Carly had willingly agreed; she’d been very fond of Shawn Snr., the sweet yet tough Irish man who’d been more of a father than Victor could ever be. Bo still felt that way despite Victor’s startling change of demeanour; these days he was so solicitous and protective towards Carly that Bo couldn't help being very suspicious about it. For several years Victor had hated and resented Carly for walking out on their marriage- more of a matter of a wounded ego than a broken heart- and downright nasty to her when she came back to Salem. Now he was acting so nice to her and completely enchanted with his newest grandson and Bo simply couldn't understand why. But he firmly told himself not to ponder on that on this very special day. He looked at Carly who stood beside him; lovely in the simple cream coloured suit she’d chosen to wear for their son’s baptism; her chestnut hair with blonde highlights in lush waves down her shoulders and back. The baby bump was now gone and Carly looked a lot healthier too; the pallor and the worried, preoccupied expression on her face replaced by the familiar pink, fresh complexion and look of serenity. But there was still something wrong with those beautiful green eyes... and Bo knew what it was, the persistent wariness whenever she looked at him; the ugly reminder of what he’d done coming between them like a high, brick wall. The day she’d ended their relationship because she’d sensed things were different between him and Hope; the tears in her eyes as she tried to be brave about the whole thing. If only she knew how he’d wept after she left; upset that he’d made her take the drastic step and very sad that by reconciling with Hope, he’d hurt his princess deeply. He could still remember the bitter words she’d thrown at him when he went to see her at the hospital; how pale and ill she’d looked that day- long before he’d found out she was pregnant.

I know that I was only there until you decided Hope needed you more; or you needed her more, whatever the hell it was!

The stinging guilt, the nights and days trying not to think of her and how much pain he’d inflicted on her. And the whole time, she’d probably cried herself to sleep every night hating him and worrying about the future of their child. Bo knew very well that their reconciliation will not come easy. But he loved her very much and having her back in his arms, with her complete trust, was worth fighting for, which he was more than ready to do.

‘Are you alright?’ Carly asked, suddenly.

‘What?’

‘I just said the ceremony’s over; but you look like you’re miles away. What’s wrong?’

Bo smiled down at her reassuringly, shrugging. ‘Nothing to worry about, princess; I was just thinking how this special day means to me. The two of us, having our son baptised.’

Carly smiled back, nodding. ‘Yeah, it is a special day. I wasn’t even there during Darcy’s so...this sort of makes things better.’

Bo agreed with her; however he was more interested in making things better between them. Carly stared back at him and as though she read his mind, turned away.

After they left the church; everyone drove over to Carly’s house for the small reception she’d arranged. Melanie had volunteered to stay at the house to supervise the caterers so everything was ready by the time they arrived. The guests were made up of John, Marlena and Brady; Roman, Sami, Rafe and the children as well as Sami’s twin, Eric who’d arrived in town a few days before. Then there was Victor, Daniel, Adrienne, Maxine, Nathan and one of Carly’s colleagues; Dr. Jeffery Howell who had treated Bo when he was shot. Abe and Lexie were present too, along with Theo. Lexie still looked a bit frail despite her stubborn insistence that she was much better, no one knew exactly what her illness had been but decided not to press her. She sat on the couch, holding Byron; her face alight as she cooed over him.

To Carly’s sorrow; Caroline, Kayla and Maggie refused to come though she’d sent them invitation cards. She’d also sent one to Justin, ready to tolerate him for Adrienne’s sake but he’d opted out too. Kimberly and Carrie however had called her over the phone to congratulate her, promising they would fly over for Darcy and Daniel’s wedding with Shane and Austin. Carly wondered if Caroline would decide to keep away from her granddaughter’s wedding at all. She was utterly fed up with the whole scenario, vowing not to beg for their friendship; even for Darcy and Byron’s sakes. Like Hope, they had chosen to hate her and there was nothing to do about it except simply accept things as they were. But it hurt Carly all the same.

Bo found her in the kitchen, making more coffee. ‘Need any help?’

‘No, no...I got this, thanks.’ Carly replied. Bo moved closer to her.

‘Princess; tell me, what is it?’ he asked gently, placing his hands on her shoulders from behind.

Carly sighed, shaking her head. ‘Caroline, Kayla... they didn’t show up for our son’s baptism. They hate me enough to actually miss this important day. I know Julie and Maggie love Hope very much but Julie especially was my friend, we were very close. You and I finally have children together but the family is so divided!’ Moving away from him, Carly turned to get something from the cupboard, trying her best to hide her tears. Immediately, she felt Bo’s strong arms around her waist. Sniffling, she turned and Bo hugged her close in silence, stroking her hair.

‘Everything that happened wasn’t your fault; even Mrs. H said so. She loved you, she knew the person you are. Mum, Kayla, Julie, Maggie... even that jerk Justin forced themselves to forget all because they wanted things to stay the same. They refused to accept it and it’s their big loss. The family’s divided because they decided to keep themselves apart.’

‘But it’s not right.’ Carly whispered.

‘In time, they will realize they’ve been in the wrong; I for one have no intention of making them see reason; they’re going to have to do it themselves if they want to be a huge part of our children’s lives.’ Bo raised her head and wiped away her tears, holding her face between his large hands. ‘It’s going to be okay, princess. With them and with us.’

Carly pulled away abruptly, turning her attention back to the coffee maker. Bo stared at her, rather hurt by her action. ‘Carly, we are going to discuss it; aren’t we?’

No response.

Bo waited for his frustration to die down to a minimum. ‘Carly; I know I have a lot to do to win your trust back but I need some assurance that you will give me that chance to make it up to you.’

Carly spun round. ‘Are you accusing me of stringing you along, Bo?’ she demanded.

‘Of course not, never!’ Bo walked to her again, his face earnest. ‘But I’ve got to know exactly where I stand with you. It’s either you’ve made up your mind that we can never be together again or that I still got a chance. And I sure hope it’s not the first one.’

‘So much has happened...’ Carly said quietly. ‘Too much, Bo; this isn’t exactly easy for me.’

‘I know,’ Bo said, his voice also quiet as he pushed back hair from her face. ‘But give me that chance, princess.’ He hugged her tightly, pressing his cheek against hers. Carly found herself feeling warm and tingly all over under his touch; the scent of his aftershave, his manly strength and the spiky feel of his beard against her cheek making her heart race.

‘Bo...’ she began, attempting to push him away.

‘I love you, Carly.’ Bo said huskily, caressing the back of her neck. ‘I love you.’ Turning his head, he kissed her tenderly; yet with heartfelt passion. Carly found herself kissing him back, her resistance down for the moment. She clung to him, her arms sliding up to encircle his neck; his arms tightened round her waist, sensually devouring her. The sound of the doorbell ringing broke the spell. Carly finally pulled away but more gently this time and her face was bright red. ‘Umm... I better see who that is.’ She murmured, making a fast retreat. Smiling at her faintly, Bo switched off the coffee maker.

Waving Darcy away, Carly walked up to the front door and opened it, blinking at the sight of her unexpected visitors. ‘Billie?’ she said in surprise. ‘When did you get back to town?’

‘An hour ago.’ Billie replied, kissing Carly on the cheek. ‘Bo told me everything over the phone, congratulations.’ Turning to the young, slim brunette standing next to her holding a laden basket wrapped in cellophane, she added, ‘this is my daughter, Chelsea.’

‘I’m pleased to finally meet you, Dr. Manning.’ Chelsea smiled. ‘I hope Mum and I aren’t intruding.’

‘No, not at all; you’re both more than welcome. I’m pleased to meet you too.’ Carly smiled at the young woman, shaking hands with her and accepting the basket handed to her. ‘Come in.’

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

‘So... you’re Darcy.’ Chelsea said, her eyes studying her sister with great interest. Darcy was a few inches taller than her and Chelsea rather envied the aura of elegance and grace Darcy had obviously inherited from her mother. It made Chelsea feel rather small and insignificant despite having her own share of good looks. But she had genuine admiration for her sister, especially the way she was dressed; a deep blue -obviously expensive- silk dress, with masses of gold chains. She looked more like a fashion model than an artist. After exchanging greetings with Bo, Ciara, Victor and the other guests and admiring her new baby brother, Chelsea had manoeuvred Darcy to the garden to talk to her alone. ‘You’re a lot prettier than I imagined.’

‘You flatter me.’ Darcy replied dryly.

‘I’m just telling the truth. No wonder Daniel’s so much in love with you. Congratulations on your engagement, by the way.’

Darcy raised an elegantly arched eyebrow. ‘So you don’t object?’

‘Why would I?’ Chelsea suddenly realized why Daniel’s greeting had been stilted and Melanie’s reluctance to leave Darcy alone with her. ‘I have a wonderful man in my life; Daniel and I are ancient history.’

Darcy shrugged. ‘I’ve long regarded Salem as a town of rivalry and competition, especially in matters of the heart. I am not threatened by you at all. But, Maman’s sad experience has taught me to brace myself for what to expect from...past alliances.’ The few times she’d encountered Kate DiMera in town; the older woman expressed her disapproval about her and Daniel. Darcy in turn had made it clear that she was fully aware of her fiancé’s past and it made no difference to her, he was going to be her husband and nothing and nobody was going to change that.

Chelsea stared then suddenly laughed. ‘I like you already, big sister. You’re brutally honest. But really Darcy; I’m very happy with the man I’m in love with and I want us to be very good friends.’

‘I’m positive we’ll be, Chelsea. As it should be between sisters. ’ Darcy hugged her, kissing her on both cheeks.

‘Wow, what a relief!’ the two young women turned to see Melanie walking up to them. ‘I’ve been in the house wondering if there was an eye gorging/face scratching session going on out here... ouch!’ she exclaimed as Chelsea swatted her on the arm.

‘No, my friend; nothing like that.’ Darcy smiled at Chelsea. ‘We are getting along well. Enough for me to name Chelsea my third bridesmaid.’ Her smile widened at Chelsea’s stunned look. ‘My bridal train can’t be complete without my other sister, now can it?’

‘I don't know what to say...’ Chelsea stammered. Within moments of meeting, her sister had accepted her, just like that. She figured that Darcy would have been told about her past transgressions, including her role in the accidental death of poor little Zack- something deep down she’ll forever hate herself for- and be rather standoffish, especially since she’d also once dated Daniel. ‘That’s so sweet Darcy; I’ll be honoured.’ She said, after finally finding her voice.

Laughing, Darcy hugged her again and so did Melanie. ‘Well... well... I will have to call my designer and send her your measurements.’

‘Who’s your other bridesmaid, besides Melanie I reckon?’ Chelsea asked.

‘Lynn Eddowes.’ Melanie replied. ‘She’s Darcy’s brother’s girlfriend.’ She added before Chelsea could exclaim at the well known name.

‘Oh, my gosh... for a whole day, I’m going to wear the same dress as Lynn Eddowes!’ Chelsea was overwhelmed with joy and excitement at being a part of her sister’s wedding. ‘Thanks so much for including me, Darcy. So...’ she asked curiously. ‘What’s the deal between Dad and your Mum? Are they back together?’

‘As far as I know, non.’ Darcy shook her head, looking rather sad.

‘Why not? Mum said that Dad’s crazy about her; and I can see why.’

‘I kinda thought that after Bo got shot, they became close again.’ Melanie said. ‘The way Carly stayed with him the whole time; it was obvious to me that she’s still in love with him. Maxine thought so too.’

‘You both thought right, my friend. But unfortunately, this is the case of “Once bitten; Twice shy”. As far as Maman’s concerned, love is not enough. She has lost faith in Papa and you of all people know that a relationship cannot survive if there is no trust.’

‘Oh no...’ Chelsea murmured. ‘That’s rough. And I don't think Carly will want to be with Dad, purely for Byron’s sake. That wouldn't be a real relationship and Byron will get caught in the middle.’

‘Exactly. Papa asked Daniel and I to help him but to be honest, I don't know what to do. We can’t force or convince Maman to trust Papa again; she has to do... to do... what is the right word, Mel?’

‘Soul-searching.’ Melanie said helpfully.

‘Thank you, soul-searching; Maman herself has to decide if she could ever trust him again. And Papa will have to do all he can to earn it.’

‘He’ll surely have a lot to do. He was so unfair and cruel to her all those months, flaunting that bitch about town for all to see.’ Melanie said coldly; Carly’s suffering at the time had really moved her.

‘Let’s not talk about her, okay?’ Chelsea said abruptly. After the attempt on her father’s life, the mere mention of Hope’s name brought a nasty taste in her mouth. ‘She’s behind bars and Dad’s learnt his lesson; thank goodness. And you’re right Darcy; Carly has to make that choice herself and I hope she chooses to give Dad another chance. And knowing him, I’ll bet anything that he will pull out all the stops to convince her.’

:::::::::::::::::::::::

‘For the last time, I don't want to talk about this with you.’ Carly said, an exasperated tone in her voice as she peeled off Byron’s dirty diaper.

‘I’m sorry if you think I’m prying...’ Billie began.

‘You are prying.’

Billie ignored that remark and continued, ‘believe me when I say this, Carly; I want Bo to be happy and you’re the one that can make him happy.’

‘Hmm. And there’s also a chance that he will suddenly change his mind and decide otherwise.’ Carly turned away to deposit the used diaper in the diaper genie.

‘Is that what you really think will happen?’

‘I don't know, Billie!’ Carly finally snapped, her nerves frayed. ‘I never thought that Bo would leave me to go back to Hope but he did! I don't know what to think, what to do, what to feel! I love Bo, I do but part of me hates him too. Not for what he did... for the power he still has over me. One look, one touch and I’m reminded I can never love any man as much as I love him, even after everything.’ Tears poured down her eyes and she angrily wiped them away before concentrating on her son who lay on the changing table. She flinched as she felt Billie’s hands squeezing her shoulders.

‘It’s not my place to tell you want to do and again, I’m sorry for prying and upsetting you.’ Billie soothed.

‘What does it matter to you anyway?’ Carly asked coldly, wondering why Billie was being so persistent over the situation between her and Bo. Maybe she wanted to see if Bo was fair game; in order to have him for herself.

Billie clearly read her thoughts. ‘It’s not what you think, Carly.’

‘You honestly expect me to believe that? How do I know you’re not waiting for me to say, “No, I don't want Bo,” and you go downstairs and tell him that; after which you give him some so-called comforting.’

Billie was aghast and very hurt at Carly’s words. ‘Carly!’ she exclaimed, shrinking back. But Carly only glared at her unrepentantly and turned away, fixing the fresh diaper on the baby. Billie clenched her hands into fists, struggling not to lose her temper. Carly was a wounded bird; she reminded herself, and she was saying all that based on what she’d heard from people; and from her somewhat inappropriate behaviour in the past.

‘Carly...’ she said slowly. ‘I’m sorry for what you went through, I really am. I fell in with love Bo when you guys were together years ago but I swear; I never set out to seduce him- he treated me like a friend and vice-versa the whole time you were estranged after that botched wedding. And I don't have an ulterior motive now. I long realised that when you truly love someone, you hope that they would be happy, even when it’s not with you; instead of attempting to destroy their lives. Thank God I didn't succeed. Honestly, I’m glad you came back; I’ve always thought that you were better for him; more than Hope, and far more than me. Besides... getting you two back together in any way I can...’ she shrugged. ‘It would be a form of redemption for me, you know?’

Carly looked up again at Billie and saw that there was definitely no guile on the woman’s face; noting the sincerity in her voice. ‘I’m sorry.’ she said, gruffly.

‘That’s okay.’ Billie said, quickly; studying Carly’s face.

‘I’ve already gotten advice from Darcy and Marlena.’ Carly lifted the baby off the changing table, cradling him against her chest. ‘And Marlena made me realise that I have to follow my own counsel; whether or not I want to be with Bo again, instead of allowing people to convince me. It’s something that I have to do on my own, Billie.’

‘I understand that. Which means, you have to follow your heart.’

‘Love isn't enough.’

Billie shook her head. ‘You have problem trusting Bo, yeah. But just remember Carly; your love for Bo and his love for you; that’s no ordinary love. And that kind of love is powerful enough to break boundaries.’ She moved forward to stroke Byron’s soft hair. ‘You think about that carefully.’

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Bo went upstairs some minutes later and found Carly sitting on a rocking chair in the nursery; Byron in her arms. ‘Everyone was wondering where you were.’ He said, entering the room.

‘Byron got hungry; I’m trying to get him to sleep now.’ Carly replied. Pulling a stool near her chair, Bo sat down; looking down at their son lovingly. Byron stared back, his eyelids already beginning to close sleepily. Bo held out a finger and the baby immediately encircled it with his fat, little hand; causing his parents to chuckle.

‘He’s so beautiful.’ Bo murmured.

‘Having children after Nicholas was something I’d long given up on.’ Carly replied softly. ‘I’m so grateful for him and Darcy.’

Bo nodded. He loved his daughter very much; regretting how much he’d missed, more so because she was getting married soon. But Byron was like starting over, getting back what he’d missed with Darcy. But it wouldn't be complete without Carly. He looked up at her, his warm brown eyes fixed on her vivid green ones; longing to kiss her again. She still loved him; he’d felt the passion in her returning kiss and the way she’d nestled against him. But of course, it wasn't enough.

‘Can we have dinner next week?’ he asked suddenly, deciding to execute Plan A. He continued before she could raise her objections, ‘and don't use the baby as an excuse either; Darcy and Ciara will babysit and you know it.’

‘This is a date, isn't it?’ Carly asked.

‘Yeah, it is. A way for us to get to know each other again; no distractions, no reminders. It’s something I want us to do princess, so please don't say no.’

Bo rubbed her arm. ‘Will you have dinner with me?’

Carly said nothing and for a moment, Bo thought that she would refuse. But instead, she nodded her head and gave him a faint smile.

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