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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

CARBO FAN FICTION- Return Journey Chapter 15

               
           
Chapter 15
The baby was nine pounds, seven ounces and like Darcy said- all together beautiful. Carly held her new son with a new found peace and happiness; a feeling she didn't have years ago after Darcy’s birth. Lawrence had stood over her like a spectre of doom waiting for her to finish breastfeeding Darcy before summoning in his lawyer to take the baby from her arms. Even though she knew where Leo was taking Darcy, Carly had wept all day and the doctor was  forced to sedate her. It was totally different this time; no one was going to take her baby boy away and he was going home with her.  The hospital’s obstetrician said she was very lucky she was able to have a natural birth at her age; a baby her son’s size usually required a caesarean. Carly felt tired and sore but she also felt very, very happy and grateful as she breastfed him.
Darcy watched her, the cut she’d gotten when she hit her forehead on the steering wheel now covered by a band-aid. ‘I can’t get over how beautiful he is. Everything about is him is just so perfect.’
‘I know, I think so too.’ Carly said tenderly as the baby’s pink little mouth worked on her breast with innocent concentration. ‘I love you so much... my little baby.’ She turned, stretching out one hand to Darcy who took it, holding it between her own. ‘My three wonderful children are my greatest blessing; now and always.’
‘You are the most wonderful mother in the world, Maman. Nicholas and I can never trade you for any other.’ Darcy kissed her hand.
Carly smiled then her expression turned sober. ‘Where’s your father, do you know?’ The ambulance had arrived at the church and she remembered falling asleep during the ride to the hospital.
‘I think he went home to change and then sort out the mess we made at the church. I hope the priest  will very understanding.’
 ‘I think your father now knows the truth. I saw the way he looked at him in church; the baby looks exactly like him.’
Darcy nodded, remembering the reproachful look her father gave her when Carly and the baby were carried into the ambulance; the look speaking louder than words how hurt he was they’d kept the truth from him. Darcy felt a little guilty but she had more loyalty towards her mother than her father; especially after Bo’s past behaviour.
 ‘Papa’s in no position to be angry or sit in judgement of you; you did what you had to do to protect yourself and the baby. He reconciled with that evil woman, you were hurting and with the family’s unkind attitude... what else could you have done in that situation? You don't owe him any apology, he should be apologising to you for forcing you to make that painful decision.’
‘Yeah. But I think things are going to be more complicated now.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘After he got shot, he told me that he was still in love with me and was ready to be the baby’s father.’
‘He didn't know he was the father when he said that. Doesn't that show that he was being sincere?’
 ‘I just can’t believe everything he said that day; that he missed me the whole time we were apart, that he still loves me. Love should come with trust and I don't trust him anymore. I don't know if I’ll ever be able trust him again after everything he did. And the family; half of them still hate me; will they accept this child?’
‘But I’m your child too!’ Darcy protested.
‘When you were conceived, Hope was still “dead” and you’re a long lost grandchild.’ Her mother reminded her. ‘But this baby... he’s different. They resent me now, they will resent him more. I can’t even begin to imagine how Doug and Julie will react when they find out Bo’s the father after all.’
Darcy made a sound of disgust. ‘Papa has broken ties with their daughter; even if he didn't, why should you care what those people think?’
‘Julie Williams was my friend years ago.’
‘Oh... and look at what sort of a friend she turned out to be; she and your precious Jennifer! She tried to match-make you and Daniel just two weeks after you and Papa broke up. She cared more about that evil woman’s peace of mind than your broken heart.’ Darcy’s brown eyes were hard as she spoke, exactly like Bo’s whenever he got angry. Carly bit her lower lip, unable to argue with her daughter; Darcy disliked Jennifer Devereaux  as intensely as she hated Hope. Jennifer never blamed her for Bo and Hope’s estrangement but she’d made it clear she didn't approve of her relationship with Bo either. Darcy and Daniel had found the whole thing revolting and very tactless on Jennifer’s part. Considering the huge pain Carly was nursing the time; how did Jennifer expect Carly to forget Bo that soon? Darcy was livid but it was Daniel who had openly accused Jennifer of caring more about her undeserving cousin than her best friend and Carly and Jennifer had parted ways on a bad note.
‘You shouldn’t care what those people think; they are not your friends anymore. The only real friend you had among them was Madame Horton, God rest her soul.’ Darcy crossed herself, remembering the sweet old lady. Alice had warmly welcomed Carly back and fussed over Darcy so much that Darcy had fervently wished she was her grandmother.  
‘I don't care what they think of me.’ Carly stressed. ‘Doug Williams at least now realises that Hope caused most of her troubles. But I will not let this baby be the object of scorn either; that was the main reason why I decided to move to England, to protect him from all that. But that’s going to be difficult now; your father now knows the truth and naturally he’ll want to be in his son’s life.’  
‘And you don't want that?
‘Well, I can’t exactly deny him his rights now. But I don’t see myself being with him either.’ Full and satisfied, the baby fell asleep and Carly readjusted her gown; looking hard at Darcy. ‘You think I’m being too harsh, don't you?’
Non... non, of course not. What you are feeling is to be expected. I was the one who really saw you in pain all that time; I understand your doubts. But don't make the same mistake Papa did. He didn't think things through when he was supposed to and now he has an ex wife in prison and the woman he really loves is keeping him at arm’s length. And although you doubt him, Papa is telling the truth. And if you truly love someone, you forgive them and you try to believe they’ll never hurt you again. You told me how Papa understood why you didn't tell him about Nicholas; he forgave you and began trusting you again. He felt betrayed when you didn't tell him about being Katarina Von Leuschner but gradually he came to terms with it, didn't he?’
Carly nodded. ‘Yeah... he did. But I didn't do that to hurt him; I had no other choice at the time.’
‘True, you had your reasons and they were valid reasons, Maman. But now, Papa is full of regrets over his terrible decision. I don't want you to turn your back on him because you’re afraid of getting hurt again and then live with regrets for the rest of your life. I’m not saying you should say yes to him today. I’m saying that you should think it over, very thoroughly and carefully before you finally make a decision. Yes?’
Carly smiled faintly, nodding again. ‘Fine... I’ll do that.’ she touched her daughter’s hair, moving down to her chin. ‘Where did you get your maturity from, anyway?’
‘I have a very good role model.’ Darcy smiled back. ‘Môn Dieu!’ she got up suddenly. ‘Look at me sitting here and I have many calls to make!’ She would have done it earlier but exhausted from the night’s events, she’d fallen asleep on the couch in Daniel’s office; the couch barely having room for Daniel who’d taken a deserved rest with her. Right now, he was still sleeping.
‘Well I did drag you out of bed in the middle of the night; you needed the nap.’ Carly smiled.
‘I left my phone in Daniel’s office. I’ll be right back and then I’ll go over to the house to get some things for you.’
Carly nodded and Darcy went out of the room. She sat back, still cradling her baby, tracing his soft brow with the tip of her finger. ‘Do you have any idea how much I love you?’ she whispered. You and Darcy were a long time coming but I’ve got you now and no one will ever separate us...ever.’
Maxine and some of the hospital staff came to look in on her, congratulating her again and taking turns at holding the baby. Carly asked for Melanie and was told she was off duty. Darcy would have to phone her too. After everybody left, Carly dozed off; the baby sleeping peacefully in a bassinet close to her bed. She stirred when she felt someone kissing her forehead and cheek. Opening her eyes, she met Bo’s warm brown ones. ‘Hi, you.’ he said softly, stroking her hair.
‘Hey..’ she murmured. ‘Oh, they’re beautiful... thank you.’ she added, accepting the bouquet of flowers from him, sniffing them. Bo kissed her on the cheek again. After getting over the shock at the sudden discovery, all he could feel was an overwhelming sense of joy over the fact that he and Carly have another child together; witnessing the birth was a moment he would treasure forever. Before waking her, he’d stood over Carly for a few minutes; drinking in the sight of the pale but serenely beautiful face and thinking all over again how much he loved her. ‘How do you feel?’ he asked.
‘Fine... thanks.’ Carly felt herself blushing under his intense stare. Clearing her throat, she indicated the bassinet. Bo leaned over it, staring at his son and as though he sensed his father’s presence, the baby stirred then opened his tiny, little eyes slowly. Bo would have preferred Carly’s emerald green eyes but his son’s eyes were beautiful too. Black with flecks of dark blue, just like Frankie’s; the colours giving the eyes intensity. The baby made a mewling noise, looking up at Bo rather solemnly.
Without a word Bo carefully lifted the baby from  the bassinet, cradling him against his chest as he sat down. ‘He almost doesn't look real.’ He whispered, fascinated and enchanted by his son. ‘Like something from a wonderful, unbelievable dream.’ With his thumb, he traced the baby’s pink little cheeks. ‘He’s so amazing.’ 
‘How angry are you?’
Bo looked at her. ‘I’m not angry with you, princess.’
‘Really? You’re not angry with the heartless bitch that lied to your face?’
Bo smiled faintly. ‘Well, I’m the heartless bastard who broke your heart and has no right to sit in judgement of you. Believe it or not, princess; I understand. And I’m so sorry I forced you to do it.’ Reaching out, he took her hand. ‘More than ever, I need you to forgive me.’
‘You already have my forgiveness.’
Bo however wasn't fooled. ‘But not your trust; I can see it in your eyes.’
Carly studied the flowers in her hands.
‘We have our son to consider now, princess. I want to be a part of his life but I want you too. I want us to start again.’
‘You honestly think we can?’ Carly asked quietly. ‘After everything that’s happened? Consider how I felt when you renewed your vows with Hope and I was carrying our son in me; wondering what sort of future he would have and if you ever loved me at all. It was a very painful, chaotic time for me and I finally gave you up. Can we salvage a broken relationship even for the sake of our son?’
‘We can salvage it because we still love each other.’ Bo replied, quietly. ‘I’d still be saying this even if he wasn't here with us... he’s an unexpected gift; maybe he’s a sign to remind us that we’ll always be connected. I love you, Carly.’
Carly was unable to speak. She loved him and he knew it, but somehow she couldn't echo the words right back.
‘Please Carly...’ Bo pleaded. ‘I know I’ve hurt you so much but now I want to make it up to you. I’ll do anything, just don't go to England. I don't want to be without you or our son.’
For a few more minutes, Carly was silent; Darcy’s words of advice heavy on her mind. If only it were that easy to forget and believe Bo would never hurt her again. She was at a crossroads. Bo held his breath, waiting for her to say something.
 ‘I don't want to talk about this now; Bo.’ Carly said at last, her tone firm. ‘I had a long night and I’m very tired. There’s plenty of time to address that subject, so please... not now.’
 It wasn't the answer he wanted but Bo wasn't going to upset her by demanding for more. Still, he couldn't help but feel distressed and worried. He’d given her good cause to distrust him but he didn't want the bitter experience to change the Carly he fell in love with years ago. Lawrence’s brutality hadn't taken away her ability to be compassionate and loving; that was one of the reasons why he’d found himself under her spell when she came back. Especially now that they have another child together, he couldn't bear for her to change or lose her over his stupid, stupid mistake.
‘Okay...fine.’ he said at last.
‘Thank you.’ Carly replied quietly, placing the flowers on the nightstand and held out her arms as the baby began to whimper and Bo handed the baby to her; moving over to sit beside her on the bed. ‘What have you decided to call him?’ he asked, stroking her hair.
Before Carly could reply, Darcy entered the room holding a bag; stopping short at the sight of her father. He smiled reassuringly, holding out a hand to her. ‘It’s okay sweetheart; I’m not mad. And I guess you knew too, huh?’ he turned to Daniel, who’d followed Darcy into the room.
Daniel shrugged, no trace of guilt on his face. ‘It wasn’t exactly my place to tell you.’ He replied, closing the door behind them.
‘Or mine.’ Darcy said, putting the bag down.
 ‘No judgement.’ Bo slipped his arm round his daughter’s waist, turning to Carly. ‘Let’s just move on, okay? Your Mum was just about to tell me your little brother’s name.’
Oh, Maman picked the names ages ago; even I don't know them.’ Darcy said. ‘So let’s hear it, Carly.’ Daniel said, smiling down at the child.
Carly looked down at the baby, caressing his cheek. ‘Well, I wanted to name the baby after Adrienne and Maxine if it was a girl; Adrianna Maxine.’ Carly will never be able to repay her two loyal and supportive friends for being there for her all those miserable months.
‘Those are lovely names; it’s almost a pity he’s not a girl.’ Darcy chuckled and Bo laughed too.
‘So what’s this gorgeous little guy going to be, unless you’re going to name him Adrian.’ Daniel said.
‘No, that’s not his name.’ Carly had picked it after much thinking. ‘His name is going to be... Byron.’  
‘Byron... that’s such a beautiful name! Isn't it, Papa?’ Darcy asked, her eyes bright. ‘Like que poete anglais, no? That English poet?’ 
‘It sure is.’ Bo replied, doing his best not to give in to tears in front of them, knowing very well why Carly had picked that particular name.  Years ago, he’d recited “She Walks In Beauty” to Carly, a love poem by Lord Byron; likening Carly to the lady the poet described. Choosing to name their son Byron was a form of consolation that both that happy memory and their son was a huge part of him that did not belong to Hope hence, can never be taken away from her. Which further reminded him of the agonizing pain Carly had gone through. ‘I love it, princess, it’s a great name for him; Byron.’
‘Byron Daniel; actually.’ Carly smiled at Daniel.
‘I’m honoured, Carly.’ Daniel said, very touched.
‘It’s the least I could do, considering.’ She didn't look at Bo as she said it but Bo read Carly’s meaning. However he felt no resentment towards Daniel, only gratitude. But what remained now was Byron’s last name; was it going to be Manning or Brady? Darcy wanted to ask that question too but not in front of her father; sensing her mother’s tension. Instead she cleared her throat and said hastily, ‘I called my uncle, Shawn D and Nicholas; Melanie promised to come over later.’
‘Did you call Roman and Brady?’
Darcy nodded. ‘Yes, Brady said he will let Uncle John and Tante Marlena know. Uncle Roman will inform Sami and Rafe and phone Carrie. And I also called grandpa; he sounded so thrilled over the phone.’ She hesitated then continued, ‘I didn't tell grandma, Papa. I wanted to but I wasn't sure how she would take the news that Byron is a Brady after all.’
Carly sighed sadly, shaking her head while Bo’s face hardened immediately. ‘Don't worry sweetheart; I’ll tell her myself. Byron’s definitely a Brady and everybody will know about it. And anybody who tries to make snide remarks about him or your mother will definitely answer to me; big time.’  He caressed Carly’s cheek then leaned down to stroke Byron’s downy black hair. Little Byron Daniel yawned, then closed his eyes again.  
‘I don't want a huge feud, Bo.’ Carly pleaded.
‘I don't want one either.’ Darcy said. ‘Why on earth should there be any hostility at all? Maman did not do anything, why must she still be treated this way?’ Her face wore a look of anger. ‘It’s not right, it’s just not right.’
Bo walked up to Darcy, holding her face between his palms. ‘I know it’s not right. And I promise you...both of you,’ he turned to Carly. ‘I’m going to handle things a lot differently this time.’
‘And just how, Bo?’ Daniel demanded from where he sat. ‘Can you force your mother or your sister to do something they obviously have a problem doing?’
‘Easy.’ Bo smiled maliciously at Daniel before turning to look at Carly again. His eyes locked with her green ones with such intensity that Carly couldn't speak. ‘I’m not going to use force. Instead, I’m using to use something better; an ultimatum.’
:::::::::::::::::::::::
Caroline was shocked at Bo’s news while Kayla was scathing after getting over her own shock. ‘So the baby’s yours after all, how very convenient she chose to tell you after your wife goes to jail.’
‘I found out myself- Carly was going to take him away with her.’
‘Yeah right.’ his sister sneered.
‘Hold on to your  sick, crazy opinions but never, ever let me hear to trash Carly in front of me; ever.’ Bo’s voice was harsh and ominous.
‘Bo, stop it, you both stop it!’ Caroline snapped, moving to stand between them.
‘No, let him talk Ma; little brother here loves acting the big-shot protector of his mistress, don't you, Bo?’
‘Kayla, I said stop it!’ Caroline snapped. Bo glared at his sister, hands balled into fists.
‘I didn't come here to argue with you both; so I’m just gonna make this short and sweet.’ Bo said, his voice cold. ‘Byron is my son. Whether you choose to accept him into the family; that’s your own choice.’
Kayla folded her arms, her eyes defiant.
‘But should you choose to accept him, you’re going to have make peace with Carly. And if that is something that you feel you can never do; then forget about having Byron in your life.’
‘Bo!’ Caroline exclaimed in disbelief. ‘How can you...!’
‘You should know by now Ma; I’m capable of anything. You didn’t want things to change, well they are changing whether you like it or not. I’m done with Hope and I’m going to fight with everything I have to win back Carly’s love and we’re going to be together and have a wonderful life with our son. But if you can’t accept Carly, Byron will be off-limits to you; Darcy as well. Which means, you will not be invited to her wedding, you’ll never be a part of her life. And that goes for Maggie and anybody else in the family who wants to keep hating Carly.’
‘Bo, you have no right keeping my own grandchildren from me.’ Caroline protested.
‘You forced my hand!’ Bo snapped, not moved at all. ‘And in Darcy’s case, I don't even have to; you knew how she felt about the way you treated her mother but you did nothing to fix it even after she stopped visiting you; you honestly think you’re entitled to be anywhere near my son? I don't think so. You accept Carly, honestly and truthfully, or you’ll never come a yard near Byron. And I can even take it a step further by leaving town and taking Carly and the baby with me. So, ponder long and hard, Ma.’
Without another word, Bo left the Brady Pub, slamming  the glass door behind him.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Nicholas, Shawn Douglas and Frankie were overjoyed at the news of Byron’s birth. Carly spoke with them in turn over the phone, promising to email pictures of him soon. And they wouldn't have to wait too long to really see him, since they were returning to Salem in a month’s time for Darcy’s wedding. When Bo got back to the hospital; Victor, Adrienne, Brady, Sami, Roman, John and Marlena were with Carly and the room was filled with presents and more flowers. John eyed Bo, noticing the contemplative look on his face as he kept staring at Byron. Even if Bo hadn't told him, the baby’s resemblance to him was uncanny. ‘Are you okay?’ he asked, after he manoeuvred him outside to talk.
‘He’s more than I deserve.’ Bo said quietly, watching Byron being held by Victor through the door’s glass window, Victor’s usually stern face alight with pleasure. ‘I can’t stop feeling guilty about everything... the whole time I was with Hope; Carly was planning to raise him on her own because of what I did to her. I don't blame her at all for keeping the truth from me.’
John squeezed Bo’s shoulder; the pain in his cousin’s voice more than the words telling him Bo was still very much in love with Carly. ‘What does she say? Will she stay and give you the chance to put things right?’
‘She’s going to let me be a part of Byron’s life but I don't think she’s really forgiven me, even though she said she has and she sure as hell doesn't trust me. And I’m scared.’ Bo turned to John, his expression now troubled. ‘She could decide she can never trust me again and go to England in the end.’
‘You can’t expect her to give in that easy, even if she’s still in love with you.  It’s going to take a while and if I were you; I wouldn't rush her. She’s fragile and probably scared as well. Give her time. But at the same time, you’ve got a lot to do to win her over.’
Bo knew already he had a lot to do; at that moment he was making a mental list in his head. 
::::::::::::::::::
Carly found herself left alone with Marlena, who stayed behind after the others left. Darcy and Daniel carted away the various presents and flowers by family, friends and hospital staff to the house, while Bo went to pick up Ciara from school. Marlena again listened to her old friend as she admitted her lingering doubts. ‘This is not even about forgiving him; I just don't see us being the way we were before.’
‘It may not be the same; but better.’ Marlena said.  ‘Have you thought about that? Bo now realises he made a huge mistake, he’s not going to repeat it.’
‘I never expected him to do it in the first place. He knew, he knew everything I went through with Lawrence... the beatings, the rapes and how I had to hide Darcy from him. And he ended up going back to that woman after he said he loved me.’
‘Look Carly, we are all human. We do things we never expect to do; especially to the people we love. You obviously put Bo on a pedestal after your terrible experience with Lawrence; which is why what he did came as a shock to you. But he didn't do it deliberately; he’s not Lawrence. Bo made a terrible mistake and error in judgement.’ Marlena paused then went on quietly. ‘What happened between John and me the night Belle was conceived was an error of judgement. I had feelings for him but I was still in love with Roman back then. After Roman found out and filed for a divorce, I knew things could never be the same between us again. After the guilt and shame... and other issues, John and I got together but it wasn't a bed of roses over the years either; we’ve been together and apart many times. But somehow we’ve managed to hold on to our love. But it’s not the same between you and Bo; you’ve got that old, very strong connection and I feel that’s what really led him back to you.’ Marlena touched her arm. ‘Remember... El Castillo?
The Mayan symbolic wedding she and Bo had had taken place on top of the Kukulcán Pyramid, also known as El Castillo in Chichén Itzá, México. While it was not legally valid- a Mayan symbolic wedding supposedly joined two people as spiritual partners for life. Could Marlena be right? She glanced at their son, sleeping peacefully nearby.
‘It’s just so hard, Marlena. I love him... but it’s just so hard.’ Carly said quietly, tears falling down her cheeks.
In silence, Marlena fished out a Kleenex from her purse and gave it to her friend, patting her shoulder as Carly blew her nose and wiped her eyes.
‘Does that mean you don't ever want to be with Bo again?’ she asked.
Carly shrugged, still looking miserable. ‘I don't know.’ she confessed. ‘I can’t even think straight right now.’
‘Well, don't make yourself sick over it; you’ve just had a baby. And Bo can’t expect it to be that easy for you to give him another chance. But whatever you do, don't make a mistake, Carly. Don't make a decision you feel is right and end up hurting yourself. If you don't want to be with Bo; no one can force you. But be sure that's how you really feel.’ Marlena rubbed her shoulder consolingly; seeing Carly’s worried, unhappy face through her psychologist’s eyes. Carly was not trying to punish Bo; she was still hurting, her emotions were conflicted and she was afraid of what the future held. Such a shame Bo had to make such huge mistake after all those years apart from Carly; one would think that he would hold her closer than ever instead of pushing her away for Hope; Hope who had given him mostly trouble and grief over the years through her childish, unreasonable behaviour. Personally, Marlena didn't think Bo deserved Carly back but if he was truly in love with her like he insisted then he certainly had a lot to prove. Carly has been through enough and now there was little Byron to consider.
:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
Ciara cooed over Byron; overjoyed and thrilled to know that he was her baby brother. ‘I’m a big sister now!’ she declared, making them laugh.
‘Yes, you are little one.’ Carly replied. ‘And you’re going to help me look after him, alright?’
Ciara beamed, nodding enthusiastically. At moment, the door opened and Maxine entered with a clipboard. ‘Sorry to interrupt, Dr. Manning but one more detail left in Byron’s paperwork. You haven’t given us his last name.’
Carly hesitated. Bo looked at her, hiding his anxiety and anticipation; wondering what name she was going to give their son.  Finally, Carly said quietly, ‘Brady. His last name is Brady.’
Maxine wrote it down, thanked her and left. Bo slid his hand over Carly’s and squeezing it. ‘Thank you, princess.’ He said softly.
But Carly removed her hand, her face impassive. ‘Byron’s name is Brady because it is his rightful name; that’s all.’ she said, keeping her voice low so that Ciara who was leaning over the bassinet, making faces at Byron wouldn't hear. ‘It doesn't mean I’m ready to discuss us, because I’m not.’
Bo didn't argue. Time was a great healer and on top of  that, he had a lot planned to win Carly’s complete trust back. And after that...a proper future with her.