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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

CARBO FAN FICTION: Return Journey Chapter 21

Chapter 21
Bo and Carly hoped to get married as soon as possible but the dark cloud came in form of a devastating phone call from Abe. Lexie’s mysterious illness, an inoperable brain tumour, had taken a turn for the worse and she wanted to say goodbye to her friends.

‘Why... why didn’t she tell any of us?’ Bo asked, his voice shaking as he embraced his old friend on getting to the house.
Abe, who looked like he’d aged ten years overnight, replied, ‘She wanted to live the time she had left without seeing any sad faces around her; it’s what she wanted and I couldn’t refuse her. Everything we’d planned on doing together as a family, we’ve managed to do it all this time.’
Carly hugged him as well, keeping her tears back with difficulty. While she and Lexie were never exactly as close as she and Isabella had been; it was like losing Isabella all over again. How could this happen to Lexie of all people; she who’d always been so vibrant and energetic all the time and a great doctor to work with. How will Abe and Theo ever cope without her?
For Bo, it was like when Mrs. H was dying and he and the rest of the family had conveyed to the house to bid her farewell. Everyone had been so sad and teary seeing the white haired old lady they’d loved so very much fading away; her smile still intact, ready to go on the new world beyond after a life well spent. But compared to Alice Horton, Lexie was still a young woman; she was leaving them way too soon. Daniel, who’d come along with Darcy, was really shaken by the news. He was fond of Lexie, having worked with her for quite a while and he couldn’t imagine her gone forever.
Lying on the well cushioned couch, Lexie looked frailer than ever but the familiar smile illuminated her thin face. She held out her arms for Byron and Bo placed him on her lap. Theo was in the garden, being entertained by Ciara and Abe.  Carly and Bo did their best to keep up a conversation but the sad look in their eyes and Daniel’s shaky voice betrayed them. But Lexie insisted on no tears, she was resigned to her fate.
‘I’ve had a long, good life. True, there were ups and downs and I made a lot of mistakes... but in the end, I spent a lot of wonderful years with Abe and our boy.’ Her face was calm but her eyes sorrowful. ‘I treasure every one of them and I’m going to take those memories with me.’
Carly shook her head. ‘Why did this have to happen to you, of all people?’
Lexie shrugged. ‘It just happened, one of the mysteries we’ll always ponder on.’
Bo shook his head, at a loss for words, while Daniel averted his face.
‘Bo, Daniel... I want to talk with Carly and Darcy alone. Could you please keep Abe and Theo company?’
‘Sure, Lex.’ Bo kissed her on the cheek, hugging her close and Daniel did the same before leaving the room.
‘I want to use this chance to apologise to you, Carly.’ Lexie said slowly. ‘For what I said to you; about siding with Hope over a battle for Bo...’
 ‘Lexie, please don't! It doesn't matter at all and I’ve forgotten about it ages ago. Please don't talk about it anymore, okay?’ Carly pleaded. ‘There’s nothing to forgive.’
Lexie shrugged, her tired dark eyes on Carly. ‘Well, I’m glad that you and Bo are back together. For a while, I thought you might never forgive him for the mistake he made.’
‘For a long time, I thought I was the mistake.’ Carly said dryly. ‘I didn’t think we could ever be together again, the way we were before that is.’
Darcy rubbed her shoulder comfortingly. ‘Love is more powerful than anything else, Maman.’
‘Darcy’s right about that. Abe and I had our own share of problems and trials and it was love that brought us back and kept us on. When he wanted us to try again, I told myself I didn’t deserve to be loved like that. I’m so grateful to him for giving me that chance, for giving me Theo.’ Lexie smiled faintly, looking down at Byron. ‘You have this beautiful boy and this lovely girl born out of love. Be grateful for what you have, Carly and never make Hope’s mistakes. Bo’s a great guy and I’ve seen that deep connection that’s still between you- that’s what led him back to you; not loneliness or rebound like we were all stupid enough to think. You’re his true soul mate and I’m so happy he got you back.’ Carly pressed the hand resting on her cheek.
Lexie turned to Darcy. ‘Never let anything or anyone stand between you and your husband, Darcy. Be happy with Daniel and live your life to the fullest; and paint whatever comes from your heart.’
Darcy nodded; her heart heavy with sorrow at Lexie’s calm words. Lexie pressed her face against Byron’s plump cheek. ‘And you little man, you will keep Theo company for me, okay? I’m so glad I was able to know you before...’ she didn’t finish the sentence. Instead, she kissed him on the forehead and cheeks, stroking his silken hair. ‘Take care, sweet baby.’ She whispered in his ear before handing him to Darcy.
That night, Bo heard from Abe that Lexie died peacefully in his arms two hours after they’d left.
Lexie Carver’s funeral was attended by her family, friends, colleagues and former patients. Stefano stood with Kate, EJ and Chad; his face a rigid mask. Abe held his bewildered little boy’s hand; his manner towards his father-in-law as frosty as ever. They never got along during Lexie’s lifetime, even with her untimely death, the enmity still remained; something Lexie wouldn’t be pleased with but Abe could never ever be friends with Stefano. Carly and Daniel gave eulogies; describing Lexie as an outstanding physician, a loving mother and a person they had been proud to work with. Bo also spoke of her time in the police force and what a good and supportive friend she had been.
 ‘We’re born and in the time we try to make a difference anyway we can and then we leave.’ She said, looking down at Lexie’s gravestone after everyone had left; Darcy and Daniel having taken the children home. ‘It’s always at the back of our minds but it’s so hard all the same, especially for those left behind. I can’t even imagine what Abe and Theo are going through right now.’
‘Abe’s accepted it and he’s doing all he can to be strong for Theo. And he believes Lexie will always be there for them, in spirit.’ Bo replied.
‘I almost feel guilty over how lucky we are,’ Carly said softly.
‘No... Don’t be.’ Bo held her by the waist from behind. ‘We had our share of trials and bumps, just like Lexie and Abe had. And like them, love won. It’s just too bad their journey ended so soon.’ He turned her round, holding her face between his large hands. ‘But life’s for the living and our own journey’s just started again. And more than ever; I’m holding on to what I have in front of me; you. You see why I wanted us to get married right away?’
‘Of course, yes; I wanted that too.’ Carly glanced back at Lexie’s grave, again thinking about how unpredictable life was then turned back to face him soberly. ‘More than anything I want to marry you but... We have to show some respect too; you know? Let’s postpone the wedding, for a week or two at least.’
Bo wasn’t happy about it but he too had loved Lexie enough to understand Carly’s request. ‘I’ll call the judge when we get home and tell her.’
With one last look at their friend’s gravestone, Bo and Carly left the cemetery arm in arm.
With Lexie’s death, the vacant position of Chief of Staff needed to be filled and the board’s top candidate was Carly. Carly however informed the board during the meeting that she wasn’t planning on going back to work any time soon as her son needed her so she couldn’t possibly accept the job. With no one else in mind, the board appointed the next choice; Daniel who at first refused, worried that Darcy wouldn’t like it. But his young wife however was more than supportive; urging him to accept the position. It wasn’t what Daniel wanted at all but he decided to take the job, secretly planning to turn it over to Carly if she ever decided to come back; she was far more suited to be Chief of Staff rather than him.
Carly took Theo under her wing; reaching out to the autistic child as best as she could. Having been used to ‘Auntie Hope’, Carly was somewhat of a stranger to Theo but he slowly responded to her care and became attached to her. Ciara of course played a huge part at cheering up her best friend and Theo found himself wanting to go to Bo and Carly’s house all the time; as Bo and Carly always made him feel welcome and he loved playing with Ciara and the baby. Darcy too did what she could for him.
Abe was very grateful to Carly for being there for his son. ‘But of course, I shouldn’t expect anything else from you, Carly; you’ve always been so great with kids.’ He held her hand between his, his eyes stark with sadness and Carly’s heart went out to him; again feeling rather guilty of her own happy future with Bo. But Abe, clearly reading her mind, urged her not to be and not delay the wedding further; reminding her of life’s unpredictable nature. ‘Lexie knew you loved her, Carly; so please don’t feel like you’ll be showing any disrespect. You and Bo deserve your happiness after all that time apart; so just go for it.’
With that in mind, Carly went to the Brady Pub, accompanied by Darcy and the baby. ‘You think she would want to talk to you?’ Darcy asked.
‘Your Dad and I are getting married and this feud has gone long enough,’ her mother replied. ‘One of us has to make the first move anyway. You stay here with Byron... I’ll let you know when you can come in.’
Darcy nodded, taking hold of the pram. Taking a deep breath, Carly pushed open the Pub’s glass door. Caroline was behind the counter, making some notes and she looked up; her expression impassive as Carly walked up to her.
‘Hello, Caroline.’ Carly said, her calm voice disguising her nervousness.
‘What are you doing here?’ Caroline Brady asked coldly; her tone definitely not encouraging. But Carly was determined to make her point.
‘Caroline, I came here to see if we can make peace and be a family again. You’ve always been like a mother to me and I miss you; now that Bo and I have children together, we should be closer.’ Carly said, her tone pleading. ‘Please... Bo and I are getting married soon and our wedding can’t be complete without you and Kayla. I’m doing this for Bo and for our kids- I don’t want us to remain strangers, please.’
Caroline regarded her silently for a while and Carly braced herself, hoping that the cold eyes will soften.
‘Have you ever really loved Bo, have you ever actually and truly cared about his feelings?’ Caroline said at last.
Carly blinked, confused by the unexpected question. ‘Of course I love Bo, I always have; you know that.’
‘No Carly, I don’t know anything of the sort.’ Caroline sneered. ‘You married his father, even though you knew from the bottom of that place you call a heart, that you didn’t love him at all. You were attracted to Victor’s power, naturally but the reason you really married him was because you wanted to hurt my son after he scorned you.’
‘That’s not true...’
‘That’s the real reason; you did it out of spite; you refused to stomach the fact he was still in love with his wife!’ Caroline spat; her words raining like bullets. ‘And when you finally got what you wanted, Victor was no longer of use to you so you left him- and you began sneaking around with Bo like a common harlot and drove Victor to jealousy, causing him to plan his own son’s murder; how ironic that you fell into the trap instead- it was more than you deserved. Then you drove Bo crazy with all those secrets you kept from him; after everything he risked for you! You’re poison and a damned jinx- he and Hope were more than happy until you came back... you used Lawrence, just like you used my son and then discarded him by killing him! You are the reason why Hope’s in jail- you drove her to madness! I will never accept you into my family; just count on that!’
Carly stood there as though made of stone, unable to speak; sheer shock rendering her speechless. Then a cold, angry voice came from behind her, ‘How dare you... how dare you talk to her like that... for shame!’
Darcy glared at Caroline, her brown eyes glinting in utter fury; looking more like her father than ever; her hands tight on the hand grip of Byron’s pram. ‘How dare you blame that evil woman’s actions on her?’
Carly finally found her voice but it sounded so shaky and faint. ‘Cricket, no...’ she began.
‘No, Maman... I will speak!’ Darcy wrestled her arm from Carly’s grip, trembling with anger. Caroline paled at the sight of her granddaughter’s anger, horrified she heard everything but said nothing, facing the young woman defiantly.
‘What does it cost you to accept my mother, blood?’ Darcy shouted. ‘She came here with the best of intentions... to make peace with you and this is what you can offer her, reject and hatred? Are you as white as snow yourself, grandmamma? Are your own sins a deep, dark secret that you think you can insult my mother like this?’ She shook Carly’s restraining hand away again. ‘So this is your attitude, you will not accept her? Well, let’s see what my father will say about this when he finds out and I hope he makes you sorry! You should be ashamed of yourself; just like I am so ashamed of you!’
How Caroline was able to keep her expression neutral, she had no idea. With her action, she’d ruined what chance of ending her estrangement with Bo any time soon and she knew Roman would be so angry when he found out about this. She was already sorry for what she said but pride forbade her from taking back her cruel words.  ‘Whatever.’ Was the tight, cold word that came from her mouth before she could stop herself; making things even worse. 
‘Come Maman... we are leaving. Let’s go.’
Carly looked pale and ill as Darcy took her by the arm, pushing the stroller with her other hand; darting another angry look at Caroline. As the pub’s doors closed behind them; Caroline turned and stared at a framed photograph of Shawn on the wall. His gentle eyes seemed to look at her with heavy reproach.
Carly was weeping in Darcy’s arms when Bo came home. Ciara too was there and she looked very upset at the sight of Carly crying; stroking her hair consolingly.
 ‘Princess!’ he exclaimed, hurrying over to her. ‘What’s the matter; what’s happened?’ 
Instead of replying, Carly disentangled herself from Darcy and fled the room. Ciara hurried after her.
‘Carly!’ Bo turned their daughter helplessly. ‘For god sake Darcy, what happened?’
Maman went to the Pub today to talk to grandma in the hope they can make peace.’ Darcy replied quietly. ‘But instead, grandma said a lot of ugly things to her; it was terrible...’
‘What exactly did she say?’ Bo demanded harshly.
Darcy gave him a detailed narration and he cringed. ‘Oh, God...’
‘Maman now feels that it’s best if she went to England after all; she cannot marry you with the family divided.’
‘That’s crazy!’
‘Well, you must try and convince her otherwise!’ Darcy held up her mother’s engagement ring. Bo took it from her, his heart sinking. No, this couldn’t be happening... no... no...
‘Where’s the baby?’ he said at last.
‘In the nursery; asleep.’
‘I’ll see to your mum sweetheart, you go on home.’
Darcy still looked anxious. ‘You will make her change her mind, yes?’
‘I’ve talked her out of tighter situations than this, haven’t I? Don’t worry about it; she’s just upset.’
‘And stubborn.’
‘I’ve outdone her in that department; trust me.’ Bo kissed Darcy on the forehead. ‘Go home, I’ll call you later.’
‘Okay, papa.’
Carly was no longer weeping but her eyes were red and her cheeks tear stained. Ciara was cuddled close to her, her eyes fixed on Carly’s face anxiously.
‘Ciara, leave the room; Carly and I have to talk.’
His younger daughter looked at him rather resentfully, as though he was the one who made Carly cry, but she slid off the bed obediently and Bo closed the door after her.
Carly turned her back to him as he leaned over her. ‘Carly, come on... you can’t make this decision just because of someone’s opinion. She’s not going to dictate our lives or ruin our plans. I can’t let you go- I love you.’
‘I love you too,’ was Carly’s quiet reply. ‘But I can’t do this- I can’t be your wife with your mother’s attitude towards me.’
‘We’ve got the right to be happy.’ Bo insisted. ‘I would marry you in a heartbeat even if your parents were around to set the dogs on me, you know that, princess. We’ve beaten so many odds to quit now, please... don’t listen to what my mother said.’
‘But she’s right...’
‘No, she’s not right!’ Bo spat, turning her to face him. ‘What happened between us was Larry’s doing; he was so obsessed with breaking us up that he stooped low enough to use your own son! And if I hadn't been so stupid and spineless; you would never have married my father- the fault was all mine, mine! And for the last time, I don't ever want to hear about that Lisanne Gardner affair! You did what you had to do to protect Nicholas, like a good mother! I did the same remember... to keep my daughter from going to prison and I would do it all over again!’
Carly shook her head. ‘Bo...’
‘You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.’ Bo stressed. ‘I’m never ever letting you go again; never again. Carly Manning... Katarina Von Leuschner; after all these years, after everything we’ve been through, nothing and nobody can stop me from marrying you. I will not lose you again, you hear me? If I have to handcuff you and drag you in front of a judge, I will!’
Carly stared at him and then sank into his arms, sobbing. Bo stroked her hair, pressing a kiss on the top of her head. ‘It’s going to be alright, princess.’ He soothed; crushing her in a fierce hug.
Carly raised her head slowly and he wiped away her tears before reaching into his pocket. ‘Here... put this back on and don't you dare take it off again.’
Carly smiled faintly, meekly allowing him to slide the ring back onto her finger. ‘I’m sorry... I guess it was the shock of hearing what Caroline thought of me.’ She sniffled. ‘I don’t want to be the reason you and her not talking, Bo.’
‘She made her choice, Carly; it’s got nothing to do with you. She wants to forget who you are for some reason, so let her. We’re getting married and we’re going to be together for the rest of our lives, whether she, Kayla or that stupid jerk Justin likes it or not.’
Bo kissed her, a long, bruising kiss as though daring her to contradict him and Carly’s eager response reassured him all was well between them again.
Ciara was hugely relieved to see Carly smiling when they came out of the room and they talked and laughed over dinner, watching Cars 2 afterwards. Carly phoned Darcy to assure her the wedding was still on while Bo locked up and turned off the lights. Taking her by the hand, they went upstairs and tucked the children in for the night; Carly attending to Byron while Bo saw to Ciara, kissing her goodnight.
Carly was waiting for Bo in their room; green eyes inviting. Bo locked the door behind him and went to her; his mouth fiercely taking possession of hers, the sense of urgency running hot in both of them. Undressing each other, they sank into the soft double bed; arms and legs and lips locked together- conscious of nothing but each other and their love. Carly’s fingers ran over Bo’s muscled body; trembling with aching delight at the heated touch of his lips and hands; the force of their lovemaking as they again became one person. Bo shuddered wildly against her and her nails dug into his back, gently biting his shoulder as intense ecstasy washed over her.
They held on to each other, panting; hearts hammering. Raining kisses on her lips and neck, Bo turned over; cradling his lover against him, his fingers stroking her tinted curls. ‘Don’t ever think of giving up on us again, princess.’ He murmured.
‘Never again.’ Carly kissed his chest. ‘We’ll swim or sink together.’

Cher, are you there? I was wondering if you would like...’ Darcy’s voice trailed off, stopping dead at the sight of her husband drawing away from Chloe Lane’s embrace.
‘Oh... hi Darcy,’ Chloe greeted, not looking the least bit embarrassed at being caught by Daniel’s wife. Daniel on the other hand looked positively livid.
‘I just got into town and of course I decided to look up on old friends,’ Chloe went on. ‘I was just congratulating Daniel on his wedding.’
‘By wrapping yourself around him like a serpent?’ Darcy asked, an ominous tone in her voice. Immediately, she was sorry for the remark; she’d long vowed never to let Chloe get to her if she ever returned to Salem and now she was sounding like a jealous shrew.
‘Oh come on now...’ Chloe began only to be interrupted by Daniel. ‘Please leave us, Chloe.’ Daniel’s voice was so vehement that Chloe winced, taken aback.
‘I... well sure, but really Darcy, I didn’t mean any harm... I have no hidden intentions or anything.’
‘Well... that remains to be seen, no?’ Darcy replied coolly.
Shrugging, Chloe left the couple alone; hiding a mischievous smile.
‘Before you say anything,’ Daniel jumped in, ‘it wasn’t what it looked like. I was pushing her away when you came in.’
‘She can come and go as she pleases, cher; but she should keep her distance where you are concerned. I trust you but I do not trust her. From her manner, I sensed that she returned to make trouble for us.’
‘I love you,’ Daniel said forcefully; drawing her into his arms. ‘Only you; she’s in the past. She can do anything but she can never, will never break us apart, do you understand me, Darcy Jonas? You’re my wife and I’ll never betray you.’
‘I know.’ Darcy touched his neck, her eyes earnest. ‘And I love you too but I don’t want conflicts of any kind.’
‘If Chloe’s here to see if she can get me back, she’s wasting her time. And I’ll make sure she knows that, before she tries pulling any stunt.’
‘Just be on your guard, okay?’
‘Okay.’ Daniel kissed her, pressing her close against him. ‘Now...’ he pushed back a long strand of hair from her forehead. ‘What did you come to see me about?’
Darcy frowned. ‘Actually, I’ve forgotten.’ She admitted.
‘Oh, no problem.’ Releasing her, he moved to lock the door of his office. ‘I have enough time...’ he flashed her a wicked grin as he lifted her bodily off her feet, ‘to help you remember.’
It was like Daniel had done the unthinkable. Chloe’s heels clicked angrily as she left the hospital, her amusement now gone. How could Daniel replace her with that French jam tart? What had been the main attraction; her virginity? And now she has taken her place as Daniel’s wife... somehow Chloe had thought that phone conversation had been a tasteless joke; a way for Daniel to hurt her. She hadn’t believed him when he said he was marrying Carly’s daughter thus her return to Salem with Parker. Daniel couldn’t possibly love that convent reject.  
It’s all Carly’s fault; she thought angrily. She was the one who pushed them together, she never liked me- that sanctimonious bitch!
As she walked on, she nearly ran into Carly who was talking a walk with Byron.
‘Chloe.’ Carly said, stunned to see her. ‘What are you doing back in town?’
‘It’s a free country, isn’t it? Like you, I can appear unexpectedly whenever I want.’ Chloe replied snidely. She bent over to peer at Byron. ‘And who is this?’
‘This is my son, Byron.’
Chloe looked hard at the gurgling baby then straightened. ‘He looks a lot like Bo.’ She said. Glancing down at Carly’s hands resting on the pram's hand grip, her eyebrows rose at the sight of Carly’s engagement ring flashing in the sun. ‘I see you were able to get Bo back, more power to you.’
‘Bo realised he was still in love with me and I forgave him; I would never use a child to land a man.’ Carly snapped.  
‘Isn’t that what you did with Darcy to get into Bo’s bed, Carly? His life was never the same again when you both came to town. And speaking of which; pushing your daughter towards my man was a real low.’
‘What do you mean by that?’
‘You obviously pushed them together after I left town; while I was still married to Daniel I could tell Darcy had feelings for him under that fake innocent smile of hers. Just like Victor and Kate, you felt I wasn’t good enough for Daniel so you set up a virgin for him. You sure outdid them at scheming, didn’t you?’
‘Darcy and Daniel fell in love; the only thing I did was give Daniel my blessing when he asked my permission.’ Was Carly’s cold response.
‘And you expect me to believe that?’
‘Do you know anything about love at all? If you did, you would have trusted Daniel completely instead of cheating on him with Phillip.’ Carly accused.
‘And I’m supposed to listen to life’s lessons from a home wrecker like you?’ Chloe fired back harshly. ‘Who are you to judge me, after sleeping with a married man and having his baby? What did you do that was any way different from what I did, huh... you tell me!’
‘I’m no saint but I’m in no way like you.’ Carly replied, refusing to rise to the bait. ‘You did what you did because you were paranoid and selfish. Daniel’s a good man and Melanie’s like a daughter to me; they didn’t deserve to be treated that way. And I hope you didn’t come back here to hurt my daughter’s marriage.’
Chloe’s intense blue eyes flashed maliciously. ‘Maybe I did and maybe I didn’t. After all, I was another man’s wife when Daniel and I met and it didn’t stop him, did it?’
Carly glared at her. ‘Don’t you dare do anything to hurt my daughter, or so help me...’
Before Chloe could reply, Brady walked up to them, frowning. ‘Chloe, when did you get back?’ he asked.
‘Yesterday, actually. Carly and I were just getting reacquainted.’ Chloe raised herself on tip toe to kiss Brady on the cheek. ‘But I can’t stop to chat, I have an appointment. We must meet sometime soon and talk properly.’ She shot Carly another malicious look. ‘See you later... Carly.’
‘Are you alright?’ Brady touched her arm. ‘It looked like you and Chloe were having an intense conversation when I saw you.’
‘Let’s just say that Chloe got a bombshell and she’s smarting over it.’
‘Oh... Daniel’s remarriage.’
‘Yeah and she more or less accused me of engineering it.’
Brady snorted. ‘Oh, don’t take any notice of her, Carly. Once she gets over her bitterness, she’ll see that Daniel didn’t need anyone talking him into marrying my cousin. Every one knows he’s crazy about her.’
‘But you used to be married to her.’ Carly pointed out. ‘What happened exactly?’ As she spoke, she wondered if Isabella would have approved of Chloe Lane as her daughter-in-law.
Brady shrugged, his face clouding. ‘She wasn’t the woman I thought she was.’ He said flatly, ‘just forget about her; you’ve got a wedding next weekend, remember?’
Carly smiled in spite of herself but she couldn’t shake off the feeling of dread Chloe had caused.
Two days to the wedding, the sound of loud wolf whistles outside made Bo look up from his computer and he smiled when Roman entered his office, one arm round Carly, the other round Darcy. ‘Look who I found trespassing and causing a disturbance in the squad room.’ He said, grinning.
‘Should we book ‘em?’ Bo asked, grinning back, as the two women moved to hug him. ‘Where are my handcuffs?’
‘You should be so lucky.’ Carly whispered, her green eyes dancing. Darcy smiled indulgently while Roman rolled his eyes in mock disgust.
‘I. See. Nothing; I. Heard. Nothing.’ Roman intoned in a very bad imitation of Hogan’s Heroes’ Sergeant Schultz; causing Darcy to giggle helplessly.
‘What are you guys doing here?’ Bo asked after Roman left the room.
‘We’re on our way to shop for a last minute item...’ Carly winked, ‘and some other stuff. So we need to borrow your car.’
‘You’ve got engine trouble?’
‘No, it’s a lot of stuff and your car’s bigger.’ Carly held out her hand. ‘Keys.’
Bo grimaced, digging into his pocket. Carly took them, handing him the keys to her Camry. ‘Don’t worry, we won’t put a scratch on it.’
Bo leaned over to kiss her goodbye. ‘Scratch it and I might scratch you where...’
‘Okay, okay... Maman, let’s go before Papa causes me to cut my own ears off!’ Darcy took hold of her mother, blowing her father a kiss as they departed.
Bo’s nightmare began that night. Carly looked rather out of sorts when she returned home from her shopping trip so he told her to go straight to bed and rest. He and Ciara had dinner and he went to check on Byron. Carly was sleeping soundly when he went to bed so he didn’t disturb her, instead he kissed her rather warm cheek and got into bed beside her.
After some hours of sleep, Bo turned over and his hand rested on an empty space.  He sat up, blinking at the lit doorway of the bathroom. The shower was running; so he settled back to wait for Carly to come back to bed. But thirty minutes passed and she didn’t come out so Bo threw on a robe and went in. ‘Carly, are you okay in there?’ he called. No answer.
Filled with alarm and dread, he opened the shower cubicle’s glass door. Carly lay on the floor, curled in the foetal position; shivering uncontrollably as the water rained on her. ‘Carly!’ he exclaimed, dashing inside to carry her out. Settling her down on the tiled floor, he grabbed a couple of towels and dried her, covering her up with the other. ‘Are you okay? What happened?’ he asked anxiously.
Carly didn’t reply; she was shaking more than ever in his arms and her skin wore a ghastly pale sheen. Bo felt her forehead. She was burning up and her eyes looked glassy.
‘Don’t worry, princess; it’s going to be okay; I’ll call Daniel and we’ll get you to the hospital and you’ll be better in no time...’ Bo soothed, trying to suppress the feeling of panic as he carried her back to the bedroom and placed her on the bed, covering her with the duvet. How on earth did she suddenly become sick, was it something she ate? He dialled Daniel’s number. ‘Daniel, so sorry for calling so late but you need to get over here right away; Carly’s very sick...’
‘So is Darcy,’ came Daniel’s trembling voice. ‘I just called an ambulance; she’s burning up real bad and coughing.’
Bo turned as Carly gave a deep, harsh cough. ‘But they seemed fine today! They came by the station on their way shopping; Carly looked very tired when she came back... what the hell is this, food poisoning?’
‘No, Bo...’ Daniel’s voice was hard. ‘I recognise the symptoms. It’s not poison, it’s obviously a virus.’
Bo’s blood ran cold.

‘Get Carly to the hospital, fast; I’ll meet you there.’  

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