Monday, March 11, 2013

CARBO FAN FICTION- Return Journey Chapter 14


Chapter 14

The female officer who had accompanied Roman remained at the house to stay with Ciara while Carly went to the hospital with Roman, nervous hands twisting on her lap in great anxiety and fear for Bo. After the ordeal he’d suffered from Rafael Torres, Bo had decided to follow Roman’s footsteps and become a cop. Roman had disapproved initially because he thought his little brother was far too much of a hot head. It hadn’t come as a big surprise to Carly but after his graduation from the police academy; she’d lived in constant terror that one day she would be visited by a police officer or receive a phone call that Bo had been felled by a bullet, which she barely managed to hide from Bo the whole time they were together.
‘What happened?’ she asked, trying to speak steadily. ‘Who shot him?’
‘We were on a stakeout; next minute there was a shoot-out.’ was Roman’s reply. ‘A drug dealer we’ve been trying to nab for months... he shot Bo three times.’
Carly bit her lips, closing her eyes. ‘Oh, my God...’
‘Carly, he needs your strength; don't break down now, please.’ Roman urged.  ‘Hang in there and believe he’s going to make it, like I do.’ Removing one hand from the wheel, he patted her shoulder.
Carly didn't reply; she far was too worried and scared to ask any more questions.
Roman went on, ‘Mum and Victor will be told about it in the morning; no sense in getting them out of bed as well. Besides, Bo only wants you right now.’ he glanced at her when she still didn't respond then sighed. ‘Honey... I know what you’re thinking. After the way you were treated and ignored but please... you’ve got to put that aside right now. We’re human, we make a lot  mistakes that we regret later. I can’t speak for Bo or for the rest of the family, but please Carly... find it in your heart to forget... and forgive.’
‘Why, because now that Hope’s locked away, I’m the most suitable replacement?’ Carly couldn't help saying very bitterly. ‘At least until Bo decides to break her out again?’
‘Come on, Carly...’ Roman glanced at her again. ‘Please, don't talk or think that way. No matter what happened, I know you still love my brother.’
‘That love was taken for granted, stepped on and tossed aside. Don't you start assuming what you don't know.’ Carly sniffled, tears pouring down her cheeks. ‘None of you know what I went through, none of you cared. You now assuming that I still love Bo, it’s an insult to me. The only reason why I’m in this car with you is because he’s the father of my daughter and my daughter’s brother is Shawn Douglas; nothing more.’
Roman drove, silent for a while. Then he replied softly, ‘Years ago, Bo pushed you into Victor’s arms when he made it look like he’ll never forget Hope; that didn't stop your love for him, did it? You forgave him then.’
‘It’s not the same thing.’ Carly muttered, pent up bitterness and hurt streaming out. ‘Back then I was not an outcast, I was not labelled a whore or a mistake. And I certainly wasn't ganged up against.’
Roman winced. ‘You’re not a mistake... more like, an unexpected surprise. None of us thought we would ever see you again and we wanted...’
Carly stared out the window, refusing to help him finish that statement.
Roman sighed. ‘I don't know how else I can say how sorry I am for everything you went through. But at the same time Carly.... you can’t resent somebody for following his heart. And that’s basically what Bo did.’
Carly still remained silent.
‘Carly...’
‘Stop. Speaking. That’s not even the issue at hand. So, just stop.’
They drove on in silence.
::::::::::::
Bo was being operated on when they got to the hospital so they had to wait for a few hours before they could see him. As a doctor, Carly has seen her share of  cases  where people were injured from accidents, beatings and stabbings but seeing the man she loved lying in the hospital bed in the Recovery room almost made her break down. He was attached by tubes to all kinds of machines and he was deathly pale.
Pulling herself together with effort, Carly turned to Dr. Howell. ‘What are his chances?’
‘He’s stable, we got all the bullets out. Bo’s in very good shape and strong; that works in his favour.’
Carly nodded, still staring down at Bo. His breathing was shallow and didn't move a muscle.
‘Carly; why don't you come back much later, considering your condition.’ Dr. Howell suggested. ‘You don't have to stay.’
‘It’s alright, Jeffery... I can wait.’ Carly moved closer to the bed, her heart filled with relief that Bo was going to make it. Roman squeezed her shoulders from behind, kissing her on top of her head.
‘It seems so strange seeing him like this.’ Carly said quietly as the doctor left them alone. ‘He has always seemed so strong, so unbreakable. All those times he would come back to the boat and I would be so glad that he survived yet another day; after a while I just believed that nothing can ever touch Bo.’ Tentatively, she reached out to touch Bo’s cold cheek. ‘Completely untouchable.’
Roman shrugged then let her go to bring over a chair for her. ‘If you’re going to stay, you need to sit down. It may be a long wait.’  
::::::::::::::::::
Carly kept vigil until 8 o’ clock in the morning then took a cab home when Maxine and Melanie urged her to go and get some rest. Ciara was frantic with worry about her father but Carly assured her that her father was being well taken care of.
‘Is Daddy going to die?’ Ciara sobbed, still not convinced.
‘No, sweetie; no...no... your daddy is not going to die. He’s getting stronger as we speak and when he’s ready; you’ll go and see him, okay?’ Carly hugged the little girl. ‘In the meantime, maybe you would like to spend some time with grandpa or Aunt Maggie today while I go and see your daddy. I’ll pick you up on my way back.’
 ‘Everything’s gone wrong... Mummy’s gone and daddy’s hurt.’
Carly stroked the child’s soft hair. ‘Everything is going to get better, sweetie. You’ll see. Try not to be sad or worried.’ She pulled back a bit to dry Ciara’s eyes. ‘Think happy, sweet thoughts and you know what... while you’re at grandpa’s; draw a nice picture to cheer daddy up. I know he will appreciate it very much.’
Ciara smiled faintly. ‘Okay.’
‘Good.’ Carly kissed her. ‘Now, let’s go grab some breakfast then we’ll go.’
Ciara unexpectedly hugged Carly again. ‘I love you, Carly. You’re so good to me.’
‘I love you too, sweetie.’ Carly smiled.
‘Can I still stay with you after Darcy gets married?’ the child asked anxiously. Carly’s home felt like a safe haven and she never wanted to leave.
Carly hesitated. ‘That is something your daddy has to decide much later, don't worry about it right now, alright sweetie? Come on and help me fix breakfast.’
Victor was  very pleased to see them both. ‘How is he?’ he asked.
‘He was still unconscious when I left but I’m sure pretty soon he’ll wake up. I’m going over there now.’
‘It doesn't look like you got much rest yourself, my dear.’ Victor pointed out, noticing the faint dark circles under her eyes.
‘I’m alright. I’m come by and pick up Ciara later; I guess you’ll come to the hospital with Maggie in the evening, right?’
Victor hesitated. ‘Actually... Maggie and I are not on speaking terms these days. We broke up.’
‘Since when?’ Carly was shocked.
‘Let’s just say we had a major disagreement and she’s still angry with me.’
‘What sort of disagreement that would be enough for you two to break up? What happened?’
Victor sighed heavily. ‘I told her exactly what I thought about her precious niece and she got angry. But I hope in time, she would come to terms to what Hope has become and we’ll start over. That’s what we’re all trying to do, isn't it, after what happened with Hope.’
‘Especially the kids.’ Carly agreed. ‘I’m so sorry about you and Maggie. I hope you guys work things out eventually.’
‘Thank you.’ Victor replied softly. ‘You run along and check on Bo and let me know when he wakes up.’
Kissing Ciara goodbye, Carly went back to the hospital. ‘You just missed Mum; I told her I’ll let her know when  Bo’s condition improves.’ Roman said as Carly entered the room. ‘She took the news pretty well.’
‘It can’t be easy for her having two sons in law enforcement. Don't you ever get tired of it?’
‘Many times, but someone’s got to do it.’ Roman got up from his chair to let Carly sit down. ‘Thank you for doing this, by the way.’ He said earnestly.
‘Roman, let’s not go into that again, okay?’ Carly squeezed his hand. ‘I was just angry; none of that is even important. Go get some rest.’
Roma kissed her then left her alone with Bo. Carly reached out to take his big, strong hand. ‘Please wake up, sailor.’ She whispered. ‘Please. There are many people who are very worried about you.’
The cell phone in her pocket suddenly rang. She brought it out and pressed answer. ‘Hello?’
‘Carly, it’s me.’
‘Oh... Daniel, hi.’ Carly said, keeping her voice now. ‘Is Darcy alright?’
‘They just wheeled her into the operating room. I called to check on you. Are you okay, you sound weird.’
‘I’m at the hospital; Bo got shot last night and I’m sitting with him right now.’
‘Oh no... is he alright?’
 ‘So far he’s still out but his doctor says that he’ll pull through.’ Carly kept her eyes fixed on Bo. ‘They were able to get all the bullets out, thank God. Don't tell Darcy anything after the surgery okay, at least not right now.’
‘Sure... okay. I’ll call you later to tell you how it went.’
‘Yeah, thanks; Daniel. Fingers crossed.’ Carly hung up and sat back in her chair, her hand still clasped in Bo’s.
A few hours later, Carly jerked awake from her doze when she felt her hand gently being squeezed and a weak voice calling her name.  Bo stared up at her, very pale but conscious. ‘Hi, princess.’
‘Oh, thank God... thank God!’ Carly sobbed, enveloping his hand in hers and kissing it frantically. ‘You scared us... thank God you’re awake! How do you feel?’
‘Like someone pushed red hot spikes through me.’ Bo muttered, smiling faintly. ‘I’m so glad to see you, princess.’
‘Let me get the doctor.’ Carly tried to extricate her hand but Bo clung to it. ‘Don't go, please.’
‘Bo... I need to get the doctor and I have to call your folks and let them know you’re awake. Let go of my hand.’
‘No.’ Bo’s weak voice was laced with firmness. His wish before succumbing to unconsciousness was realised;  seeing the woman he loved by his side and he had to finally tell her how he felt. Screw time; life was very short.
‘Bo, you should save your strength. Whatever you have to say, it can wait.’ She pleaded.
‘No, it can’t. Everything I have to say... I’ve wanted to say to you for a very long time. And I need you to hear it, please.’
Carly swallowed. ‘Don't do this.’
Bo ignored her. ‘Just listen. From the day we finally admitted how much we still loved each other, I swore I’ll never let anyone hurt you ever again. But I ended up being the one who did... in lots of ways. There was no day that I didn't think of you and how I let you down, how I let Darcy down...’
‘If you’re trying to get my forgiveness again; I forgive you, I really do!’ Carly assured him, tearfully. ‘Stop worrying about it, Bo.’
‘I love you.’
Carly stared at him, shocked. ‘What?’
‘I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time...’ Bo’s brown eyes were earnest. ‘ I love you princess... I’ve missed you.’ He squeezed her hand.
Carly shook her head, feeling sure it was the drugs taking; he was delirious. ‘I think it’s time to stop talking, Bo. I’ll get the doctor.’
‘I don't need the doctor... Carly, you have to listen to me.’ Bo stubbornly refused to let go of her hand. ‘I’m been out of my mind with guilt... with jealousy...’
‘Bo Brady, you listen to me.’ Carly’s voice shook as she removed her hand from his grip at last. ‘You’re weak, you’re very tired... no more talking. No more.’
As she spoke, the door opened and Dr. Howell entered. ‘Ah, the patient is finally awake, I see.’
‘Yes and I’ll leave you alone to check on him; I have to make some calls.’ Carly got up, avoiding Bo’s eyes.
‘Carly, please don’t go...’ Bo pleaded, upset she didn't seem to believe him.
‘I’ll be back in a few minutes.’ Carly lied. With his sudden announcement, she was suddenly afraid of being around him.
Bo lay back, weak and frustrated; inwardly fuming over Carly’s behaviour as the doctor attended to him. Okay, his declaration was very sudden and Darcy would be furious he’d opened his mouth before he was supposed to but  he was very desperate; he didn't want to be without her any longer. Carly has to finally know everything and give him another chance.
:::::::::
But Carly didn't come back. Caroline, Victor, Roman and various members of the family came. Doug and Julie didn't come but Maggie did, keeping Victor at arm’s length. Ciara was relieved her father was awake; showing him the picture she had made especially for him.
‘Rom... could you please call Carly, tell her I want to see her.’ Bo asked his brother the minute he was able to talk to him alone.
‘Carly needs her rest, little brother; she’s been with you all this time.’ Roman replied.
‘I know why she really doesn’t want to come; please let her know I want her, please.’ Bo said to his brother, his pale face firm. ‘Please do this for me, I need her.’
‘Alright man... I’ll see what I can do.’ Roman assured him.
:::::::::
It took a lot of pleading and persuasion from Roman and in the end, Carly returned to the hospital with him, extremely reluctant and uncomfortable.
‘Here she is, bro.’ Roman led her in by the hand. Bo stared at her and she stared back, unable to speak. Roman left them alone, closing the door behind him.
‘Come here.’
Carly obeyed, walking towards him to stand by the bed; her expression impassive.
‘You said you would come back... why are you avoiding me?’ he asked softly.
She sat down, unable to speak.
‘It wasn't the drugs talking, princess. I meant every word... I’m still in love with you. I want you back... to be with you.’
‘Bo, please... don't do this to me.’ she said at last. ‘I’ve moved on; it was a long, very painful process and I don't want to hear declarations being made on the rebound.’
‘This is not a rebound. I told you... I’ve been feeling this way for a long time; I... I just wanted to find the right moment to let you know. If... if Hope hadn't done what she did, I would have divorced her anyway. I was the one who lived a lie... I made a mistake... a huge mistake. I don't just want your forgiveness, I want you, princess.’
‘Bo...’
‘I know I’ve given you more than enough reasons to stop trusting me, probably despise me... but I want to believe that you still love me enough to give me another chance.’ He reached out, taking her hand.
‘It’s not that simple.’ Carly said softly. ‘You and Hope will always be connected. I dealt with that when Jennifer warned me until I saw what she really meant. You left me... you two reconnected; like you’ve done many times. This isn't twenty years ago Bo, things were relatively simple back then- even with Victor and Lawrence. If you could forgive Hope once, you can forgive her again and I will be left out in the cold; again. I’m done with dealing with heartache and pain so please... let’s just try and be friends at least; I forgive you, okay?’
‘I want my princess back in my life, that’s what I really want.’ Was Bo’s flat answer. ‘I’m not about to settle for less. I’m more connected to you than any other woman in my life. I love you, whether you believe it or not and I know you still love me.’
Tears poured down Carly’s cheeks; which distressed him. ‘Oh, princess; don't cry... you know I can’t stand that.’
 ‘Bo, I...’ she covered their clasped hands with her other hand. ‘There’s so much to process here; I’m so confused.’
‘But don't you... love me?’ he pleaded.
Carly’s lovely green eyes looked at him. ‘ I do love you, you’re the only man I’ve ever loved. That’s why what you did devastated me. And... I don't know what to do with what you’ve just told me. How can we actually start again after all this time?’
‘If the baby is one of your worries, I don't care who the father is. I love the baby because it’s a part of you- I want you both. I’ll be his father... or her father.’ He promised earnestly. ‘We can be happy... I’ll do all I can to make it up to you.’
Carly sobbed quietly.
‘Carly...’ Bo pleaded, freeing a hand to stroke her hair. ‘Please, don't cry... don't cry, princess.’
She fished out a hanky to dry her eyes. ‘I... I can’t deal with this right now, Bo. I love you, but I need time to think about this. You have to give me time.’
Bo lifted her hand to kiss it,  laying it against his chest. ‘Okay. I’ll wait. At least now you know how I feel.’
‘Thank you.’ she whispered. Now was the time to tell him he was the father of her baby; their baby. But something still held her back; doubt and fear. She needed to be sure that he was not being delusional and change his mind later.
‘I have good news; I told Roman to spread the word.’
‘What?’ he raised his eyebrows expectedly.
‘Daniel called before I left the house. Darcy’s surgery was a success. Her eyes are still very sensitive to light and she’s making out only silhouettes right now, but the doctor says her sight will be back completely in a few weeks.’
‘Oh my God...’ Bo smiled, overjoyed. ‘That is so great...’
‘She’ll be home next week, Ciara’s so excited.’ Carly smiled, glad she was able to change the subject. But she knew she had a lot of thinking to do. About whether or not she’ll tell him about the baby or if she’ll ever be ready to allow him back in her life.
There was a knock at the door. ‘Come in.’ She said, turning in her seat.
A woman entered, her fine eyes widening on seeing Carly. ‘Carly! What a surprise.’
Carly stiffened at the sight of the person she never thought she would ever see again.
‘Hey... Billie. What are you doing in town?’ Bo asked as his ex-wife walked up to them.
‘I had business to discuss with Mum and I heard about what happened to you. But she didn't tell me Carly was living here again; how are you, Carly?’ Billie Reed smiled, her eyes lightening with genuine pleasure.
‘I’m fine...’ Carly got up and Billie stared down at Carly’s enormous stomach in surprise. ‘I’ll leave you guys to talk alone; I have to pick up Ciara anyway.’
‘You don't have to leave on my account.’ Billie protested.
‘Yeah, don't go.’ Bo said.
But Carly was already at the door. ‘It’s okay; I’ll be back...promise.’ she assured him, making a hasty retreat. Billie turned to Bo, sitting on the chair.
‘So... is there something you want to tell me?’ she asked drily.
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Carly fixed Ciara some dinner then sent her up to her room to watch a DVD. The doorbell rang as she was lying down and she sighed as she got up from the couch yet again. ‘This baby can’t come soon enough,’ she muttered, rubbing her aching back as she went to answer the door.
‘Billie...’ she said in surprise, seeing her on her doorstep. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘Bo gave me your address; I came to talk to you.’
Carly closed the door behind them, following her to the living room. ‘Would you like something to drink?’
‘No, but thanks.’ Billie sank into an armchair. ‘Again; it’s great to see you.’
Carly shrugged, not exactly feeling the same way about Billie. ‘How’s Chelsea?’
‘She’s doing great. Bo told me you guys have a little girl too; Darcy. We had a very long chat.’
‘Darcy’s hardly little now.’ Carly murmured. ‘Why are you really here, Billie?’
Billie regarded Carly solemnly. ‘Like I said, Bo told me the whole story; including what you guys were discussing before I came in.’
‘And you felt like you had the right to interfere in something that does not concern you? Or give me bad advice maybe?’
Billie stared then put on a rueful expression. ‘I see that my reputation has preceded me big time. But so you know... I’m not that person anymore.’
‘Maybe not but I was the one who had to pay for it, funny enough; since I was regarded as the Second Coming of You.’ was Carly’s cold reply.
Billie bit her lip, avoiding Carly’s eyes. ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’
Carly folded her arms. ‘Just so I know Billie; when exactly were you planning on taking Bo from me when we were still together?’
Billie turned sharply, staring at her in shock. ‘What? How can you say that about me?’
Carly leaned forward. ‘Very easily. You were the one who always hovering around us, around him, whenever you had the chance. What else am I supposed to think?’
‘Now, you hold it right there.’ Billie’s voice was hard. ‘If I wanted to come between you two; I wouldn't have pulled you out of that burning car. I wouldn't have tricked that guy Ivan into telling me where Larry and Vivian were hiding Nicky; I was very sure you would get your memory back if you saw your son! I wanted you to remember Bo because he loved you!’
‘But you were in love with him the whole time.’
‘Yeah... I was.’ Billie admitted. ‘When you guys were separated after your wedding got ruined; I thought we had a chance. But Bo could never stop talking about you the whole time and after you two made up and I  saw you two so much in love, I felt like an idiot thinking I could ever compete with you. You were very beautiful, a well respected doctor and the daughter of a very wealthy family... a Lady! I was a former hooker and drug addict; raped by her own father and I never believed any man could ever love me.’ Billie blinked back angry tears, her lips trembling. ‘And you were nothing but nice to me and Austin... why would I ever do anything to hurt you even though you had who I wanted?’ She bowed her head, silent.
‘I’m sorry I spoke to you like that.’ Carly said, feeling awkward.
‘No... no... it’s okay.’ Billie raised her eyes. ‘When Bo thought you were dead, it broke his heart; I even thought he might be suicidal. I admit... I sort of threw myself at him, to make him notice me. I knew he would never have looked my way if you guys were still together. He loved me but at the back of my mind, I knew it wasn't the same way he loved you or Hope. Our daughter wasn't even conceived in love; I tricked him into bed, with a lie! And for a long time we thought Chelsea was dead but at least you knew where Darcy was and you got to see her when you could, you didn't miss out on her childhood. And you didn't have to trick Bo into anything.’
‘I would never do what you did.’ Carly snapped.
‘You wouldn't and you’d never had to! Hope had more reason to be more jealous of you than me and I know Bo wouldn't have picked her over you- even she must have known that.’
‘You don't know...’
‘I do know! Take it from a woman who watched Bo cry his eyes out before you were buried... he kept saying how he was cheated and how much he loved his princess.’ 
‘What exactly are you trying to say to me now?’
‘I came here to knock some sense into you, Carly Manning. Bo told me everything. Quit being so stupid; the man loves you very much and he’s sorry, what more do you want?’
‘It’s not that simple. So many years have passed since I left Salem; Bo and I are not the same Bo and Carly who believed nothing could ever come between us. His past with Hope did and I got hurt and publicly humiliated. I love Bo, I do... but that doesn't mean I’m willing to subject myself to more of that. You would feel the same way.’
‘No I wouldn't because Bo would never ask me for another chance. Stop wallowing in fear and self pity and grab this chance of life-long happiness. Bo loves you.’
‘This isn't self pity, it’s survival; Billie. Like I said, it’s not that simple. And life-long happiness isn't exactly a solid  assurance, not to me anyway.’
Billie sighed and reached for her purse, getting up. ‘Think about it long and hard, Carly. I’m sorry you got hurt; but now Bo wants to make it right and it’s love talking, not obligation. Say hi to Ciara for me; I’ll let myself out.’
Carly watched her as she left, more confused than ever.

::::::::::::::::::::::::
Darcy and Daniel came back to Salem the following week. As soon as she heard what happened, she immediately went to see her father at the hospital; wearing black out glasses since her eyes  were still rather sensitive to light. After Daniel looked in on him, he left them alone to talk.
‘You look like a fashion model.’ Bo joked, as she kissed him on both cheeks.
‘You look like a fallen horse.’ Was Darcy’s pert reply. ‘You had to get careless in your old age, Papa?’
Bo smiled ruefully. ‘Occupational hazard, sweetheart.’ He kissed her hand. ‘How’s your sight, can you see me?’
‘I can make out your shape but every day things get clearer. And the doctor gave me some eye drops to use.’  
‘Thank God you’re going to be able to see again.’
‘Me too. Once they’re much better, I can finally do my exhibition and then plan my wedding.’
‘I hope you’ll be able to plan my wedding to your mum much later.’ Bo hesitated. ‘I... I told your Mum how I felt. I couldn’t help it, I just had to let it out.’
‘Oh, Papa.’ Darcy sighed. ‘We agreed you would give her time! What did she say?’
‘She was pretty freaked out and refused to believe me. Then she said she needed time.’
‘Well, at least she knows now.’
‘Yeah, she does. But do me a favour; don't discuss it with her, okay? I don't want her to know you and Daniel knew all along and accuse you of ganging up against her.’
‘I won’t, don't worry. I really hope Maman will see that you’re sincere and try again.’
‘I’m sure. And I’m willing to wait as long as it takes.’ Bo promised, feeling that the future was looking less bleak now.
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
But two months rolled by and Carly still kept Bo at arm’s length. Bo remained optimistic and very hopeful; she had admitted that she still loved him and Love softened the hardest of hearts. She was less frigid whenever he came for Ciara and she accepted the flowers he brought for her. One step at the time was the next key; no rushing her or upsetting her all over again.
Darcy finally had her art show at the museum; attended by the family and friends. Caroline, Maggie and  Kayla’s manner to Carly was distant but not to spoil Darcy’s big day, Carly steadfastly ignored them. Victor bought three pieces despite Darcy’s loud protests and Ciara kept telling strangers in a proud voice that the artist was her ‘beautiful, talented sister.’
In the  middle of it all, someone tapped Carly’s shoulder. ‘Surprise.’
Carly turned and her eyes widened. ‘John! Oh... John!’ she said, hugging him tightly, very happy to see him. ‘My goodness, it’s so good to see you!’
John kissed her, smiling down at her; his handsome features older but so familiar. ‘I can say the same thing, doc. Look at you.’
Carly laughed self consciously; rubbing her stomach. ‘Yeah, it’s a pretty long story.’
‘Actually I meant how prettier you look since the last time I saw you, you look very beautiful.’
‘Hmm... better not let Marlena hear you say that mister. Where is she?’
‘Trying to tear herself away from the family. Brady told us about this shindig so we thought this was the moment to give everyone a surprise.’
Marlena emerged from the crowd, grinning. ‘Carly...’ she opened her arms to her.
‘Welcome home, old friend.’ Carly smiled, hugging her as well. ‘I was wondering when you guys would come back.’
‘Well, after John was done with his therapy, we took a little trip before coming home.’
Bo appeared, Darcy in tow. ‘Found her.’ He said. ‘Darcy, this is Brady’s father John Black and this is Marlena.’
‘God, Bo... you’re very lucky when it comes to daughters!’ John joked, pulling Darcy towards him to hug her. ‘You’re so pretty.’
Darcy blushed red, making them laugh.
‘She certainly is; we’re so glad to finally meet you and congratulations on this huge turnout.’ Marlena said. ‘Your work is amazing.’
‘Thank you, and it’s wonderful to finally meet you both too.’ Darcy replied, her sweet smile in full force. ‘Are you back in  Salem for good?’
‘Definitely, home sweet home.’ John replied. ‘No more travelling and we have a lot to catch up on.’ He looked at Carly and Bo meaningfully. ‘but in the meantime, I’ll go see if I can snap one of your brilliant pieces.’
Darcy and the men left Carly and Marlena alone. ‘Are you okay, Carly?’ Marlena asked gently, scanning her face.
‘I can’t lie to a psychologist, can I?’ Carly replied ruefully.
‘No, I can see it in your eyes; even if Brady didn't give me the full details through several emails. But of course today is not the right time.’
‘No... it’s not. But I’m very glad you’re back, Marlena. I’ve wanted to talk with you for so long and I definitely need to talk, very much.’ Carly said, her voice shaking a bit. ‘There’s a lot of stuff I’ve kept bottled up... and I’m in a very strange place right now.’
Marlena nodded sympathetically, her face grave. ‘ I can imagine. When would you like us to have a session?’
‘As soon as possible.’
‘Okay. I’ll be by your house tomorrow; at noon.’
‘Thank you, Marlena.’ Carly tucked her arm through her friend’s and they rejoined the rest of the patrons.
At the end of the evening, every single piece was sold. Daniel hugged his fiancée tightly after she received congratulations from everyone. ‘I’m so proud of you, sweetheart.’ He said, smiling; filled with love and pride for her.
 ‘Thank you; thank you all for being here.... especially you both.’ Darcy hugged her parents. ‘This has been a wonderful day.’
‘A wonderful day in every way.’ Bo agreed, smiling back at his daughter. ‘my little girl has made her debut in the art world and came out a winner.’
‘We’re all very proud of you, cricket.’ Carly agreed, smoothing her hand over Darcy’s hair.
‘And of course we have to share your moment of triumph; naturally.’ Victor said, also very proud of Darcy’s achievement. ‘And you know what, I’m going to make sure I place two of your pieces in my office; let everyone see my granddaughter’s great work. The third one I bought, it’s going to be in the living room on the mantelpiece.’
 ‘One more round of applause for the newest La Vinci!’ Melanie announced, and everyone obliged; Darcy smiling round, her beautiful eyes back to their former sparkle and clarity. She stared down at the solitaire diamond  engagement ring on her finger for the umpteenth time since her sight was restored. One wish realised, two more left. One was staring into Daniel’s eyes when they pledged their love in front of  friends and family. The other was seeing her parents back together again.
:::::::::::::::::::::
While Ciara was in school and Darcy was out; Marlena came over to Carly’s house. Over iced tea, Carly narrated everything that happened during her miserable marriage to Lawrence, what led to her fatally stabbing him and her return to Salem with Darcy. Marlena was also told about what went on after her return, the miserable months after the breakup with Bo and why she lied about the baby.
‘I managed to push down all the  anger and resentment and then move on with my life. And now Bo says he wants me back; he wants to be the father.’
‘But he is the father.’
‘Marlena... I’m yet to believe if this is the truth or just a rebound. Bo hurt me, he hurt me terribly; he turned his back on me. How can I ever believe everything he says now?’ Carly demanded.
‘Bo is not a cruel man. I think he forced himself to erase you because he had to. He reconnected with Hope but you two have a history too, a very memorable history- more memorable than the one he had with Billie. We all know how much he loved you and clearly; he was forced to choose between two women he loved the same way.’ Marlena said. ‘Hope’s always been pampered and they’ve been together for a long time so he made the choice of going back together because he felt she couldn’t stand alone without him.’
‘And I could?’ Carly asked, bitterly.
‘It’s just my professional opinion. It was an error of judgment on his part; he didn't think things through long enough. But I understand your doubts, even though I don't feel he’s being on the rebound.’
‘I can’t handle more pain, Marlena. I can’t be with him and wonder whether or not he’s thinking about Hope. I love him so much but I don't know if I can ever trust him again. And...’ Carly placed her hand on her stomach. ‘I don't know whether or not to tell him he’s the father of this baby or not.’
‘I think you should tell him.’ Marlena advised. ‘He told you himself he wants to be the father and also... he also said you wouldn't settle for casual sex and he’s right. That shows how much he still knows you, Carly.’ she squeezed her hand. ‘I think you should tell him. Before it’s too late.’
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Tell him before it’s too late...
The baby kicked and Carly wearily turned to one side; unable to sleep, thinking over Marlena’s advice. Bo wanted her back and it had nothing to do with the pregnancy he didn't even know was his. But how far could she trust him not to break her heart again? It was a Catch-22 situation.
Sighing, she got out of  bed, needing to use the bathroom. When she was done, she came out and then it happened. A strong, sharp pain; followed by another and then another.
‘Oh no...’ she clutched her stomach; gasping as yet another one came. She staggered to the door and opened it, stepping into the landing. ‘Darcy...’ she called out, walking slowly to her daughter’s room. ‘Darcy!’ she called out, raising her voice. ‘Darcy, help me; please!’
Darcy dashed out of her room. ‘Maman? Oh...’ she ran to her immediately. ‘Are you in labour?’
‘Yes... yes... we need to get to the hospital, quick!’ Carly cried, clinging to Darcy.
Darcy led her back to her room and helped her out of her nightgown and into a simple maternity dress before dashing back to her own room to change into a pair of jeans, a tank top and cardigan  before grabbing  her  car keys.  
‘Alright, Maman... lean on me... I’ll get you to the hospital, come on now...’ Darcy helped her up, slipping Carly’s arm over her shoulders. ‘It will be alright...’
‘Wait...wait...’ Carly gripped her daughter’s arm. ‘Do something first. Call your father; tell him what’s happening and tell him to meet us at the hospital.’
‘I’ll call him when we get there.’ Darcy promised.
‘No!’ Carly snapped, breathing hard. ‘Call him now, please... you’ve always obeyed me, cricket... obey me now.’
Sitting Carly down on the bed, Darcy pulled out her cell phone. Carly inhaled and exhaled like she’s supposed to, waiting.
Bo woke up at the fifth ring, glaring at the phone until he saw the caller ID. ‘Darcy, honey... what’s wrong?’ he asked anxiously.
Maman wants you to meet us at the hospital, Papa. She’s gone  into labour.’
‘Oh my God...’ Bo climbed out of bed immediately. ‘Sure... sure... I’ll be there! But I can come over now and drive you guys to the hospital myself.’
Carly suddenly jerked and Darcy looked down. ‘I don't think Maman can wait that long, her water just broke.’
‘Then get her over there now!’ Bo barked, grabbing his discarded pants. ‘But drive carefully, you hear me?’
‘I will, I promise.’ Darcy hung up. ‘He said he’ll be there, now let’s go.’
As they got out of the house, thunder rolled and lightning streaked across the night sky.
‘No, no... not rain!’ Carly moaned.
‘Don't worry, we’ll get there before it starts.’ Darcy soothed, placing her mother in the back seat and arranging the cushions she’d grabbed from the living room behind her back. Slamming the door shut, Darcy got into the driver’s seat and started the car; thankful that Ciara was staying with Doug and Julie that night. Doug had showed up at the doorstep that afternoon with flowers and a large brown and white teddy tear. After a long conversation in the living room over coffee, Darcy had seen Carly shake hands with the man and then he’d asked if Ciara could spend the weekend with him and Julie, promising to bring her back on Sunday. Ciara has been through enough without getting freaked out by a pregnant woman in labour.
Meanwhile, Bo frantically got dressed and grabbed his keys.
::::::::::::::::::::::::
The rain poured down in torrents after Darcy had been driving for fifteen minutes and she immediately switched on the window wipers. ‘How are you doing, Maman?’ she asked anxiously.
‘Between the contractions... doing my best.’ Carly gasped.
‘Hang on, my love, hang on...’ Darcy soothed and then the car made a strange noise and then came a sharp jolt. ‘What the hell?’ she exclaimed in French.
 ‘What’s happening?!’ Carly cried.
‘I don’t know!’ Darcy tried to keep the car under control, pulling the car to a sudden stop, narrowly managing not to crash into a tree but she hit her head hard on the steering.
‘Cricket... cricket; are you okay? Carly leaned over with great difficulty, touching her daughter’s shoulder anxiously. ‘Speak to me, please.’
Darcy raised her head, groaning.
‘Are you okay, are you hurt?’
‘I just hit my head... I’m alright.’ Darcy touched her throbbing temple, glancing at the blood on her fingers. ‘Are you alright, did the jolt make you move?’
‘No. What are we going to do now?’
‘Wait.’ Darcy took a torchlight from the glove compartment and went out in the rain. ‘Merde...’ she muttered as she saw the problem then stuck her head inside. ‘Two flat tires, Maman.’
Carly moaned. ‘Oh no... am I going to have this baby in the car?’
‘Not if I can help it.’
Darcy looked round desperately for a building to take shelter in and then saw something looming in the distance. ‘Come Maman... I see a place.’
She helped her mother out of the car, placing Carly’s arm over her shoulders. ‘What is that?’ Carly asked weakly.
‘I don't know; but I hope it will provide us some shelter. Hang on to me.’
The two women stumbled across the road in the pouring rain towards the building.
::::::::::::::::::::::


::::::::::::::::
Daniel had just finished a major heart surgery and was changing out of his scrubs when a nurse informed him that Bo was looking for him. Doing  the last button, Daniel hurried out to find Bo who was standing by the nurse’s station. ‘Bo, what is it?’
‘Darcy told me to meet her and Carly’s here, Carly went into labour.’
‘Really?’
‘Yeah but the nurses told me they aren’t here, they haven’t showed up!’ Bo snapped, anxiety all over his face.
‘Calm down... the storm must have delayed them. We’ll wait a bit and if they don't show, we’ll both go look for them.’
Bo couldn't calm down... terrified at the thought of Carly and Darcy out there in the rain... supposing they’d had an accident, suppose they were both  lying in the car right now injured  and hurt? Or maybe they haven’t left the house. Bo pulled out his phone.
::::::::::::::::::::::
The building was a church. It was locked but not with a padlock. After eight vicious kicks; the doors finally swung open and Darcy helped Carly inside. She fumbled for a switch by the door and the lights came on one by one. Carly stared round the chapel. ‘This place...’
‘What is it?’
‘I...’ Carly’s eyes filled with tears. ‘This is where... where your father and I almost got married. Right here...’ another contraction hit her and she gasped with pain, bending double. Darcy led her down the aisle to the carpet covered dais; placing her by the altar. She took off her cardigan but it was far too wet. ‘I’ll go and see if I can find some blankets; you need to keep warm.’
Carly nodded and Darcy darted away. A storage cupboard yielded an old cushion and two woollen blankets; she took them back and did her best to make her mother comfortable. Carly tried her best to be brave and stoic but her enormous stomach felt like it was being caught in a huge, merciless vice. She squeezed her daughter’s hand. ‘Thank you... for looking after me like this...’ she whispered.
‘Stop that nonsense, Maman; you never have to thank me for helping you.’ Let me see if I can get an ambulance.’
‘Okay, please tell them to hurry.’ Carly begged, squirming in excruciating pain.
‘Oh no... no, no!’ Darcy exclaimed in horror, staring at her mobile phone. ‘There’s no signal! It must be because of the storm, what do we do now?’
‘Don't panic cricket... maybe the signal will come back in a couple of minutes...’ Carly panted and then gasped as yet another contraction hit, her back killing her.
Darcy got up and walked to the other side of the church, trying to get a signal at all cost. Still nothing.
‘That’s it... I’ll go and look for a phone; there has to be a phone.’ She ran back to her mother. ‘Hang in there, Maman... don't move.’
‘The thought didn't occur to me... hurry please...’ Carly begged.
Darcy ran about, looking for an office; praying it will have a phone.
::::::::::::::::::
‘I’m losing my mind, where the hell are they?’ Bo was now almost hysterical with worry. He’d called Carly and then Darcy’s phone, no reply. ‘Maybe they are still at the house and they couldn't call because of the storm.’
‘If so then we’ll head out there. Let me first arrange for an ambulance.’ Daniel grabbed a passing nurse and gave her Carly’s address, instructing her to tell the paramedics to meet him there. Grabbing a jacket and his medical bag, he and Bo ran to his car. As they pulled out of the hospital grounds and driving along, Bo’s phone suddenly ran and he immediately answered it. ‘Darcy, is that you?!’ he demanded.
‘Papa, oh thank God!’ Darcy cried. ‘ I couldn't reach the hospital ... the line is so bad. My car broke down and we had to take shelter in a church.’
‘Which one?!’ Bo snapped.
‘I don't know the name; Maman says it’s the one you almost got married in! Can you please get an ambulance here? Maman can’t hold on for much longer!’
‘Daniel and I are already on the road, we’ll be there soon. Tell Carly to hang on, we’re coming!’
‘Where are they?’ Daniel asked anxiously.
‘St. Benedict’s and step on it!’
‘Shit and I sent the ambulance to Carly’s house; give me that phone...’
:::::::::::::::::::::::::
Darcy wiped Carly’s damp face with a cloth. ‘Daniel and Papa are on their way, Maman... breathe through the pain...’
Carly obeyed, fighting each pain with the little strength she had left. ‘I should have known this birth would be dramatic...’ she whispered, trying to moisten her dry mouth with her tongue. ‘Just like your cousin Brady’s...’
‘Brady was born here?’ Darcy asked, holding on to her mother’s hand.
‘On his parents’ wedding day...’ Carly swallowed, smiling faintly at the fateful day. ‘Isabella went into labour... just before she could say “I do”... the contractions got too much for them to... continue. John...’ she gasped, ‘carried her to the vestry.... and... and... my friend Marcus... he was a surgeon... he and I... delivered Brady. He was... such a beautiful baby... John and Isabella... were so proud...’
Darcy’s eyes filled with tears at the image. ‘That’s so beautiful, Maman.’
‘And it was your father and I... who came out and announced it....’ Carly closed her eyes, tears falling down her cheeks. ‘But our poor Izzy.... died three months later... cancer...’
‘Oh...’ Darcy sniffled, pressing her forehead against her mother’s hair.
‘I... never thought I would... have children... the doctors said... I had no chance after Nicky. But you were born... the most beautiful baby girl I ever laid eyes on.’ Carly went on softly. ‘It killed me... that I couldn't have you with me  every day.... every visit to the convent ... was a wonderful treat....’
‘I loved our visits.’ Darcy assured her, kissing her  hands. ‘I have no regrets... you did all you could to keep me safe from Lawrence, I love you very much for that, always.’
‘I love you too, little cricket...’ Carly smiled, through her tears. ‘You’re my joy... my pride and delight... especially those months... when I felt so alone... I couldn’t have made it...without you...’
Darcy, Carly!
Darcy turned to see her father and fiancé running down the aisle, Daniel clutching his medical case. ‘You’re here at last, thank God!’
Bo planted a hasty kiss on his daughter’s cheek, then bent over Carly while Daniel dashed off to wash his hands after giving Darcy a quick hug. ‘I’m here, princess.’ He said softly, taking her hands and kissing them.
‘Thank you... thank you for being here with me.’ Carly whispered.
‘I was planning on being there when the time came, princess; no question. I love you, you know that and this baby will be loved and spoiled... I swear it.’
‘There’s something I need to tell you...’ Carly panted and then screamed out loud as she felt an appalling burning sensation and then came an uncontrollable urge to  push. ‘Oh God... the baby is coming, it’s coming!’ she cried.
‘Daniel!’ Darcy screamed frantically and Daniel came running back, clean hands aloft. Bo raised her to rest her back against his chest while Daniel lifted her skirt; pushing her legs wide apart.
‘The baby’s crowning,’ he said abruptly. ‘ Now’s the time to push, Carly.’
Carly obeyed, screaming louder. ‘It hurts so much...’ she gasped, clutching Bo’s arms enfolding her.
‘It will be over soon, princess now come on.... push again!’ Bo ordered.
‘Come on, Maman... you can do this!’ Darcy pleaded, urging her mother along. ‘Push!’
‘Come on Carly, you’re almost there.... I can see the head and shoulders; push again!’
‘I’m tired... leave me alone...’  Carly moaned.
‘Come on... come on... push that baby out!’ Daniel snapped. ‘Almost there!’
Bo kissed Carly’s sweaty forehead. ‘Come on, princess; be brave. Let Daniel bring this baby into the world... push!’
‘One more push, Maman... one more push... push one more time!’ Darcy begged.
Carly took a deep breath and then pushed with all her strength, screaming loudly with excruciating pain. At long last, the baby emerged; crying heartily. Bo’s eyes filled with tears as he stared at the crying baby squirming in Daniel’s hands.
‘It’s a boy.’ Daniel said, deftly cutting the umbilical cord. ‘You have a son, Carly. Congratulations.’  
Carly couldn't speak, she was sobbing with intense joy and happiness at the sight of her baby boy. ‘My baby...’ she said at last.
Darcy’s cheeks were wet with tears as she took her crying little brother  from Daniel and placed him in Carly’s outstretched arms. ‘He’s so beautiful... Maman.’ She whispered. ‘So very beautiful.’
‘You were just as beautiful when you were born, cricket.’ Carly murmured, staring down at the baby in her arms. ‘Thank you, Daniel...’
Daniel shook his head, smiling as he slipped his arm round Darcy. Carly kissed her son’s forehead, then looked up at Bo. Bo caressed the child’s  soft cheek with one finger and the baby looked up at him out of tiny blue-black eyes. Frankie’s eyes, Henri Von Leuschner’s eyes. But his features... the face was exactly like his.
Bo then realised what Carly was trying to tell him when he showed up.