‘I know what you must think of me... of us all.’
Frankie’s soulful bluish black eyes, which once gave Jennifer butterflies in her stomach, were hard and cold. ‘Since you know that quite well, you should also know I have nothing to say to you.'
‘Frankie, please... let’s not do this. I know I wasn’t a good friend to Carly but she’s still my friend and I’m hers. You have to understand...’
‘What exactly do you want me to understand, huh? Hope made her choice yet everybody just decided to hug and comfort her and shun my sister like she was the one who wrecked her marriage in the first place; including you.’
Jennifer swallowed. ‘Don’t you accuse me of that. It’s true I didn't approve of her and Bo but that’s only because I knew Hope was still in love with Bo; I felt he should give her another chance, because they belonged together.’
‘But my sister was in the way,’ Frankie bit out. ‘Was the love they had years ago suddenly a crime? Or something dirty and disgusting just because Hope suddenly decided to end her marriage? My sister’s return reminded them of what she and Bo had years ago; it reminded you. Bo loved my sister very much and Hope’s been making him unhappy- you lot added two and two together and hated the inevitable- so Carly suddenly became the enemy and Hope the victim!’
Before Jennifer could speak, Frankie continued, his voice rising. ‘How dare you stand in front of me and call yourself Carly’s friend? What stopped you from doing the right thing? Why didn't you stick up for her and remind Hope of the choice she made by herself and have her take responsibility? Did you comfort Carly at all when she was hurting over Bo? Did you?! Did you care at all of how much Carly was suffering or were you too busy popping the champagne with the rest of the family?’
Jennifer shook her head, tears falling down her cheeks. To be accused by Melanie of being a bad friend was bad enough but from Carly’s brother and former love... she couldn’t bear it.
‘Carly shut me out... she wouldn’t let me comfort her.’ Adrienne had been the one to do it.
Frankie gave a rude, contemptuous snort. ‘Not allow a woman who obviously sided with Hope to comfort her, how shocking.’
‘You have every reason to be angry, Frankie. I don’t know what we can do or say to make up for everything Carly went through.’ Jennifer’s voice shook. ‘I don’t expect you to forgive us that easy...’
‘You got that right,’ Frankie interrupted. ‘No way am I going to ever forget this, never. Not you, not them and especially not that bastard Bo deserve to ask me for anything!’
‘Come on, Frankie- lay off her...’ Daniel, overhearing the exchange, came forward to intervene, taking Jennifer’s arm. ‘We all treated Carly badly, including me. We made our mistakes; people make mistakes. Don’t be so hard.’
Frankie merely scowled at Daniel then at Jennifer before walking away from them.
Jennifer stood in silence, biting her lower lip as Daniel hugged her tightly. A few yards away, Molly watched.
Bo is at Mrs. Horton’s funeral right now; with the rest of the family. It breaks my heart that I can’t join them in saying goodbye to her, I loved her as much as they did. I saw the grief on Bo's face the day Hope came to tell him Alice's health was failing. She had a long, happy life but the idea of her gone forever is still so hard to swallow. I’d seen her only once since I got back- the day after Mickey was buried and even in the midst of her grief over her son, she smiled and hugged me the way she used to whenever I was worried or sad back in the day. She was a woman of strength and wisdom and she’ll be really missed by all of us. At least I wasn’t treated like an outsider by her, she was always loving and warm and I wish I had taken more time off to visit her before she died. I wanted to go with Bo to see her at the house when I heard she was ill but even I knew I wouldn’t be welcomed there. And even though she was glad to see me again, deep down I was so afraid of how she would react about my resumed relationship with her granddaughter’s husband... years ago she did all she could to bring Bo and me together, but that was then.
Bo’s words gave me my answer and it gave me a great deal of comfort.
" I know how much you loved Mrs. Horton... I feel like I should see her, say something to her, share in your grief." I told Bo.
He stroked my cheek, tears in his eyes, “Mrs. H knows me better than I know myself. She never judged, especially when it came to my feelings for you.”
Oh Alice... Alice! What will we all do without you now?
As for Chloe, she's very lucky the elevator crash didn’t kill her... the elevator crash I now know was meant for me. Why else did she try all she could to stop me from getting on it... and ended up falling into her own trap? And she’s confessed already.
I have more than enough reason to denounce her. She tried to kill me, because of my ultimatum to her, tell Daniel about your affair or I will. Since I heard her arguing with Nathan about it, I suspected he was the man in question but she swears it’s not him. And she’s begging me not to expose her to Daniel, or to Bo for attempted murder. Because Bo will definitely arrest her... especially after he finds out Chloe set it up with Vivian’s help. The stupid fool actually went to Vivian Alamain of all people to get rid of me; she obviously didn't know Vivian enough to realise she would let her take the fall and deny any involvement. Victor must have told Vivian about the elevator crash he planned years ago, how else would she have thought of such a plan and sold it to Chloe.
But what good will it do? It would be Vivian’s word against Chloe’s. Chloe did drag me away at the last minute and got her punishment. And now this development, she’s pregnant. No matter who the father is, can I send a pregnant woman to jail? And Vivian’s always been good at manipulation.
Chloe’s very distraught and on edge, she has no idea who the father is and she can’t marry Daniel with a clear conscience until she finds out. Her fate’s in my hands, she will lose Daniel and her freedom, all I have to do is say the word.
Which is what I have no intention of doing. Chloe got herself into a huge mess but an innocent child’s involved now. Instead, she will tell Daniel about her affair, only if the baby turns out not to be his. She’s going to have to take a DNA test, which I can arrange for her at St. Mary’s.
Why, oh why hadn’t she allowed Carly to explain? No matter what Frankie, Brady, Molly and Daniel said, Melanie would never feel free from her guilt. And now she just found out another terrible secret... Chloe had conspired with Vivian to kill Carly, no wonder she became so chummy and humble around her! Melanie was aghast and furious... how could Carly let that bitch get away with attempted murder, baby or not? She felt tears welling up in her eyes as she stared down at her mother’s face, taking her hand. In spite of what Chloe tried to do to her, Carly had made that deal but Caroline’s interference had made them all heap blame on Carly instead. Daniel must know about this, immediately.
‘Why did it all have to happen to you?’ she whispered, tears rolling down her cheeks. ‘You... who never hurt anybody.’ She let go of Carly’s hand to touch her cheek. ‘Please wake up soon, Mum. Please... I got so much to say to you.’
‘Melanie? Can I come in?’ Abby said, hovering the door.
Melanie stared at her and nodded, closing the diary on her lap and wiping her cheeks. Abby had a vase of flowers in her hands. ‘I brought these for her.’
‘Thanks Abby, put them over there.’
Abby put the vase down, turning to look down at Carly. ‘How is she doing?’
‘Dr. Long keeps saying she’ll come out of the coma eventually. She’s just not sure when. With Eclampsia...’ she shrugged.
Abby shifted her foot. ‘Mel, I want to talk you about something. Can we go outside?’
Melanie raised her eyebrows but stood up. ‘Sure.’
Abby waited until Melanie closed the door behind them. ‘So, what’s on your mind?’
‘Listen, I realise our last conversation about Carly and Bo didn't go well. But I want you to know, I really feel bad about how she was treated. I’m on her side, Mel.’
Melanie stared hard at her, seeing the sincerity on her face. ‘Thanks, that’s good to know.’
‘And there’s something else you need to know. Bo came by to see her one day. He brought what turned out to be junk mail to her but I feel he used it as an excuse.’ She narrated what she’d overheard between them.
‘You think... Bo’s still in love with Mum?’ Melanie said at last. ‘No Abby, I don’t think so. You just don’t hurt someone you love like that.’
‘I keep going over that day in my mind Mel, and I can’t shake the feeling that he still does. And he has to know about Starr and Carly’s condition too.’
‘Abby, this is a long shot. Even if we find a way of contacting Bo, suppose things are still the same with him?’
‘Carly will at least get some closure.’ Abby replied. ‘With that and having a part of Bo Hope can never take from her, she’ll finally be able to move on with her life. Don’t you see?’
Melanie reluctantly saw that Abby had a point. 'Okay. She either gets him back or gets closure; which would help a great deal. But how will we find Bo? We don’t even know where to start.’
‘Your brother can help. He’s a very important man, isn’t he?’ Abby said, praying she wouldn’t blush at the thought of Melanie’s handsome brother. Carly introduced him to her and Jennifer after they made peace and Abby had found herself immediately taken in by Nicholas Alamain. ‘He’s bound to have a lot of connections.’
Melanie nodded thoughtfully, ‘ I guess he could do that. I’ll talk to him about it when he gets here. But don’t mention this to my uncle, he’s mad at the family right now.’
‘Can’t say that I blame him. But we do need to find Bo all the same. The sooner he gets here the better.’
Melanie suddenly found herself more willing to find Bo. Maybe Brady could help too.
Jennifer stared down at little Starr Manning through the NICU’s glass window; wishing over and over she told Bo about Carly’s pregnancy when she had the chance. The baby looked so tiny and helpless.... and so beautiful. She was doing well so far but supposing an unexpected complication came up? What about Carly, who was still in a coma and whom she was not allowed to see? How will she ever live with herself or face Bo?
She turned as someone came up to her, her eyes widening on recognising her. ‘My God... Molly.’
She reached for her but her arms dropped on realising immediately Molly made no move towards her, her expression unsmiling. ‘You know, huh?’
‘I know.’ Molly replied quietly.
Jennifer turned away. ‘Molly... Frankie’s already chewed me out, please don’t start too.’
Molly shrugged. ‘I don’t have to, Frankie said it all. And it’s not like he said anything that wasn't true.’
‘Bo never meant to hurt her, neither did I.’ Jennifer turned back to look at Molly. ‘As for the others... I won’t speak for their behaviour. I don’t know what else I can say except I wish it never happened; what Carly went through.
‘But it did, it did happen.’ Molly said, her voice still quiet but her usually gentle eyes hard. ‘I keep going back to the night I overheard you and Julie planning Carly’s wedding shower. Back then, I thought Carly was so lucky to have friends who cared so much about her. But now I see that alliances can change. I cannot even begin to tell you... how disappointed I am with all of you, especially you. You’re supposed to be her friend, but like Bo you let her down. How can you ever live with yourself, Jen? How?’
I did nothing wrong! Jennifer wanted shout, staring after Molly’s retreating back. I warned Carly Bo and Hope will always be connected; I didn't want her to get hurt!
But was that the right reason? Did I warn her for her own well being or for my cousin’s?
What stopped you from doing the right thing? Why didn't you stick up for her and remind Hope of the choice she made by herself and have her take responsibility? Frankie had accused.
He’s right, so right! Jennifer bit her trembling lip. Deep down she knew that, the reason for her fight with Hope- she’d pretty much said the same thing to her. No more sheltering and protecting her though. No more unfairness, no more pretence.
Bringing out her phone, she dialled Roman’s number. ‘Roman, it’s me. Listen, pass this round to the family. Carly’s had her baby.’