Before he even got Melanie’s forwarded email, Bo had felt a sense of dread and anxiety about Carly but assumed it was because he’d left town without seeing her. The last attempt had brought forth bottled bitterness and pain and he’d found himself unable to ever face her again. He never imagined the next time he would, she would be lying in a hospital bed.
Disbelief, shock and anger had run through him when he read Melanie’s email. Mum found out she was pregnant before you left Salem. And he’d known nothing about it. But then again why would a woman who had every reason to hate him tell him she was carrying his child. A child she would consider more of hers than theirs, given what he took from her… their second chance and her dignity. No, he couldn’t judge her for keeping the pregnancy from him.
The pregnancy caused her to develop Eclampsia and she’s been in a coma since. He’d felt something was wrong, unable to shake the sense all was not well with Carly; something that went beyond hurting over their breakup. From the moment his fears were confirmed the world stopped and shock had set in, followed by fear for Carly and agonising pain he hadn’t been there for her.
The baby’s been born via Caesarean, a baby girl.
A baby girl… at long last they have a child they could see themselves in… Carly’s greatest wish finally realised, at last! But Carly was still in a coma and Eclampsia was life threatening. Melanie didn’t have to tell him to come home, he was more than ready.
Steve told him to go. ‘She needs you and you’re about done here anyway; we’ve got more than enough Intel to bring down DiMera for good. One of our guys will take over to wrap things up. Go.’ Steve had not only been his contact but also his confidant, fully aware of the other real reason Bo left Salem in the first place hence had no objections about Bo wanting to go home.
Thus, after handing over the last remaining Intel and Steve’s superiors sending a replacement to complete the mission, Bo had taken the first flight to America. Let her live… he’d prayed silently and frantically for the first time in years. Please don’t take her away, don’t take her away!
He barely ate anything during the long flight, having no appetite and impatient to be on the ground, to see Carly and their baby girl. He barely remembered going through customs and hailing a taxi, stopping in front of the hospital, running up the steps and entering the elevator. But he clearly remembered Melanie running to him; her arms round his neck and he was jolted to reality as he hugged her back. He was home.
Bo’s stomach knotted painfully as Melanie led him into Carly’s room. Brady sprang up from his chair, amazed to see him. ‘Uncle Bo…’ he gasped.
Bo didn’t heed his nephew; his eyes only on the woman on the bed. Carly lay quiet and still; fragile, helpless, ghostly pale and attached to wires and tubes; face half hidden by the oxygen mask. Melanie and Brady could only watch silently as Bo moved closer to the bed, sat beside Carly and stared down at her intently as though willing her to open her eyes. Taking her lifeless hand, he brought it to his lips. Melanie’s mind went back to something younger Carly had said to his younger self and vice versa. How they never needed words between them and their own definition of Heaven, the place where all that is not music is silence. The sheer emotion on Bo’s face as he kissed her mother’s hand and pressed it against his cheek told Melanie more than enough, the mere silence of the room was heavy with the love emitting from the tired but alert traveller for the sick woman on the bed.
I should’ve called Roman, asked him to check on her the moment I sensed something was wrong… thought Bo, anguished. How will she ever forgive me?
‘Princess, it’s me.’ He said at last, his voice trembling. Tears gathered heavily in his eyes, rolling down his unshaven cheeks. The last time he’d wept was the day he let Carly walk out of his office, knowing what he’d done to her. More than once he’d sworn he would never let anyone ever hurt her again, but in the end the hurt she got inflicted with came from him. ‘I’m here now and… I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for everything… for making you think…’ More tears slid down his cheeks as he kissed her hand again and leaned down to stroke her hair, tracing her eyebrows with his finger. ‘You’re going to get through this Carly. You have to get through this. I need you, our little girl needs her mother. Please don’t leave us, princess. I’ve got so much to tell you, so much to explain...’ he broke off, pressing his face against her neck.
‘Bo…’ Melanie moved forward to place her hands on his heaving shoulders. ‘Don’t do this to yourself, please don’t. It’s going to be alright, come on.’
Bo raised his head, wiping his damp eyes before rising to hug Melanie tightly, a hug she willingly returned. ‘Thanks for the message, Mel.’
‘Thank Nicky, the MI6 agent who found Steve a friend of his from college. And Abby was the one who thought of Steve after Nicky figured there was a contact in the ISA you were reporting to.’ Melanie touched his cheek. ‘I’m really glad you’re here, Bo. I feel Mum will draw strength from you from now on.’
‘Is she worse?’ Bo asked her, fear in his eyes.
Melanie nodded. ‘Her blood pressure’s at an even more dangerous high. She had a cardiac arrest before; but the next one will kill her if the pressure doesn’t go down. The doctor’s put her on new medication and we just have to hope for the best.’
Bo closed his eyes, refusing to envision Carly’s death. She’s not going to die; she’s not going to be taken from me. Maybe I deserve to be punished but not this way. Turning back to Carly, he leaned over and kissed her on the forehead, stroking her cheek. ‘I want to see my daughter.’ He said to Melanie.
‘Sure, Bo.’ Melanie replied, anticipating his reaction at the sight of Starr.
Bo suddenly realised his nephew was in the room with them. ‘Hey there, Brady.’
‘It’s great to have you back, welcome home.’ Brady hugged his uncle warmly. ‘You sure sprang quite a surprise on us.’
‘I took the first flight out soon as I was able to get away. Steve understood I had to be here.’
‘We’re glad he did, Uncle Bo.’ Brady replied, nodding at Melanie. ‘I’ll stay here with Carly, sweetheart. You guys go ahead.’
‘You and Brady huh?’ Bo asked, smiling faintly as they stepped into the elevator. ‘I would say that was pretty much inevitable, you guys have always been tight so it was only a matter of time.’
Melanie smiled back, slipping her arm through his. ‘If you call us hooking up inevitable, what would you call Nick and Abby?’
Bo raised his eyebrows in mild surprise. ‘Seriously?’
‘Definitely, they’re really cute together too. I’ve never seen Abby so happy.’
Considering who his father was, Bo hoped his son would prove the exact opposite and not hurt Abby or he would bring the Horton clan’s wrath on himself. He had a feeling Jennifer was none too pleased about the alliance. He thought about Hope and Ciara. He’d missed his little girl very much. Hope… he needed to see and have a very serious talk with her.
They got to NICU where Melanie explained to the night nurses who Bo was. She and Bo were suited up with green hospital garb along with face masks, enabling them enter the sterile neonatal unit. Melanie led Bo to the incubator Starr lay in.
Bo couldn’t keep back the tears and waves of emotion running through him as he stared down at the little creature he and Carly had created. The most beautiful baby he’d ever laid eyes on since Ciara’s birth. Tiny fingers and toes. Little round head lightly covered by golden fuzz, little arms and legs. She was as beautiful as her mother. My baby… my daughter, mine and Carly’s! ‘Is she going to be okay?’ he whispered.
‘She’s actually increased in birth weight and her lungs are stronger now so in a week or so she’ll be out of here and we’ll be able to take her home.’ Melanie whispered back. ‘We were really scared for her after Mum’s operation.’
‘Did Carly choose her name before… before she got sick?’
‘Yes, she did. Her name is Starr; Starr Isabella.’
‘Starr…’ Bo shook his head as more tears fell from his eyes. Starr Isabella. Isabella, after his late beloved sister; Starr… named after their favourite star, the North Star. If it had been a son, he would definitely have been North. The North Star was a part of their history, a memory he didn’t share with Hope. He didn’t need to guess why Carly picked those specific names. Which further fuelled his guilt.
‘She’s so beautiful,’ his voice shook as he moved closer to his little girl. Tentatively, he slipped his hand through the incubator’s opening, his gloved finger lightly stroking the baby’s little cheek. His and Carly’s child, theirs. A child that was finally a reality, flesh and blood; no longer a long given up dream. ‘My beautiful little angel,’ He whispered to her through the face mask. ‘I’m your daddy. Lord knows I don’t deserve you but… I’m so happy you were given to us.’ Standing behind him, Melanie listened, deeply moved.
‘By the time Mummy wakes up, you’ll be there to greet her. And I’m going to be there for you little angel, always. I swear I’ll love and protect you; with all of me.’ He sobbed, feeling Melanie squeeze his shoulder. When they stepped out Bo hugged Melanie again, pressing a kiss on the top of her head. ‘I don’t know how I can ever thank you, Mel.’ He sniffled.
‘You don’t have to thank me for anything, Bo…. It’s okay. Everything’s going to be okay.’
Patting her shoulder, Bo moved to a seat nearby and sat down, taking off the face mask and gloves. Melanie sat next to him, seeing how weary and drained he looked, his eyes red and damp from crying. ‘You want me to get you something? Coffee or a snack?’ she asked tentatively.
‘No thanks, I’m not hungry.’ Bo replied quietly, his mind too full to feel the need for food.
‘So… Abby was right.’ Bo raised his head to look at Melanie inquiringly and she went on, ‘Abby overheard your last conversation with Mum here. You still love her, don’t you?’
Bo could only nod, his expression now self-reproaching. ‘I’ve been such a jackass.’ He whispered, covering his face with his hands.
Melanie touched his shoulder. ‘I’ve been there Bo. So I guess that makes two of us, which is why I don’t have the right to go on about what you did or what you could’ve done but I need to know what you intend to do now. If you’re willing to tell me, that is.’
How it came about Bo had no idea, but he could clearly see a marked difference in Carly’s daughter. The restless, sharp green eyes were now serene and there was a new softness in her attitude instead of the old cynicism; a more empathetic and mature Melanie. The surprise on his face must have been obvious because Melanie shrugged, smiling faintly as she read his mind. ‘I can’t say I’ve completely changed, more like getting a huge change in perspective while you were gone. Of you, of Mum… of a lot of things. How different my life would’ve been if I had you both when I was a little girl and how wrong I was. You made your mistakes with Mum but so did I and now I know everything, including what Lawrence did to Mum. But most importantly, I now know what you and Mum had all those years ago, it was something very deep.’
‘It was.’ Bo replied quietly. ‘And I know how I feel about your mother, Mel. Maybe I have 25 years with Hope but from the moment I saw your Mum again when she came back… I knew the bond we shared was still there. I just wish she didn’t get caught in the middle of what was going on with Hope and me. Part of the reason why I… why things got so complicated.’ He took the young woman’s hand, her fingers enfolding with his. ‘I ended up hurting her so much, did so many wrong things and the whole time I was away she was carrying our child. I love her Mel, I need for her to know that and find some way to forgive me.’
‘I understand.’ The look on his face when he looked down at Carly spoke what was in his heart, thus Melanie had no doubts about his love for her mother. ‘And she will recover Bo, we have to keep praying for a miracle. In the meantime why don’t you get some sleep, you’re really wiped out. You can come back in the morning after you’ve gotten some rest.’
Bo protested but realised she was right, he was really tired from the long journey, much as he wanted to sit with Carly. Hope and Ciara would be long asleep so he decided not to go to the house and wake them up at such a late hour. He would crash with Brady and spend the night in his guest room.
Ciara happened to look through the window and saw Bo walking up the path. ‘Daddy!’ she shrieked. ‘Mummy, Shawn D… Daddy’s back, he’s back!’
Flinging the door open, she ran out and Bo caught his little girl in his arms, kissing her cheeks, hugging her tightly. ‘I’ve missed you so much!’ she sobbed, her small arms around his neck.
‘I’ve missed you too little one, missed you lots.’ Bo stroked her hair, very happy to behold his precious Ciara again.
Alerted by his sister’s shout, Shawn Douglas came out; surprise and delight all over his face. ‘Papa.’ He hugged his father as well. ‘I knew you’d back soon as you got Melanie’s message.’
‘I did, flew in last night. And yeah… I’ve seen them Shane D.’ he said quietly. ‘I’ve seen them both.’
Shawn Douglas nodded soberly. ‘You got here on time, Carly’s condition’s not exactly improving.’
‘I know about that too, Melanie told me.’
‘Is Carly going to be okay?’ Ciara asked worriedly, looking from her father to her brother.
‘She’s going to be fine little one, your baby sister as well.’
Ciara beamed at the mention of Starr, whom she couldn’t stop gushing over since the day Shawn Douglas took her to the hospital to see her.
Looking over her head, Bo saw Hope standing a few yards away; staring at him as though she couldn’t believe her eyes.
‘Mummy look... Daddy’s back!’ Ciara said excitedly, sliding down from Bo’s arms.
‘Bo.’ Hope found her tongue at last. Inside she was seething with shock, disbelief and justifiable anger.
‘Hi, Fancy face.’ Hope’s face was expressionless but he could tell she was shocked by his sudden appearance and no doubt very angry with him. Well that was to be expected and he was ready to trash things out with her.
Ciara was now old enough to sense the tension between her parents. Shawn Douglas sensed it too, realising a full blown argument was about to erupt and from the cold look in his mother’s eyes as she glanced at his direction, she was angry with him too. Hastily he took action.
‘Munchkin, let’s leave Mum and Dad to talk alone, alright? We can hang out at the pub with grandma.’
‘Do we have to… I want to be with Daddy.’ Ciara protested.
‘We’ll see each other later, honey; go on with your brother now.’ Bo urged, stooping down to kiss her on the forehead and ruffled her curly hair. Ciara reluctantly went down the path with Shawn Douglas. Hope matched into the house and Bo followed her. ‘You don’t look happy to see me,’ he commented, dropping his bag by the door after closing it behind them.
‘What were you expecting, a kiss and a hug?’ Hope snapped as she turned to face him, arms folded.
‘From the look on your face, neither.’ Bo replied calmly. ‘Obviously you’re mad at me and I don’t blame you.’
‘ Mad, especially after what I heard Shawn D say to you, puts it very mildly. Melanie’s message? How was she able to find you when I couldn’t, Mr “Deep Undercover”?’ Hope’s words were fuelled by the anger and frustration she felt she’d gone past.
‘Family connections, Hope. Melanie’s brother is an Alamain; crown prince of his own country so he’s bound to have friends in high places. Melanie asked Nicholas for help and he merely took it from there.’
Hope’s face wore a very bitter, mirthless smile. It was no secret Carly’s children hated her, they must have enjoyed ganging up on her by using Nicholas’ connections to locate Bo and inform him of his new born daughter and their mother’s condition. And Shawn Douglas, her own son, knew about it the whole time and since Abby was currently dating Nicholas Alamain, she was in on it too. Betrayed by two members of her own family and made to look like a fool.
‘So after all these long months of silence, no calls, not even a letter…’
‘I sent you one.’
‘Through John and I heard nothing from you after you called to tell me you had to go deep undercover; even though I needed you, even though our daughter needed you.’ Hope spat. ‘And now I discover you didn’t come back for us, you came back for her.’
‘The woman you’re referring as her is right now lying in the hospital, in danger of dying.’ Bo’s low voice was ominous. ‘You honestly want act this way, Fancy face? You know why I left in the first place; I explained it all to you.’
‘Well now I have a feeling it was more than just bringing down, Stefano; Bo. Did living with me get so unbearable that you chose to stay away from us for so long? If it was only about Stefano, you would’ve taken me along with you, helped you with whatever you were doing. Not only do we share 25 years and children, we’ve always worked together as partners.’
‘And leave Ciara all alone?’
‘Oh, don’t you dare use our daughter as an excuse; you know damn well she’s got both our families to look after her!’
‘Okay fine, it was way more than Stefano.’ Bo replied, his tone hard. ‘And I’m really glad you figured that out so far.’
‘Oh, really?’ Hope asked, defiant.
‘Really and you should know what it feels like; leaving your spouse because you wanted time to “think”. And I was always left behind, waiting for you, hoping you will come home. And remember this, I always forgave you.’
‘So what was this, using Stefano DiMera as an excuse to get back at me?’
‘No… I needed time to think too!’ Bo snapped back. ‘In case you didn’t notice, things weren’t exactly okay with us before I left!’
‘That’s not true! We’d found each other again, we were coping with the unexpected situation between John and me.’
‘And ignoring what was looming over us the whole time, Hope. You know what I’m talking about.’
Hope flushed, swallowing. ‘We both made that decision, Bo; both of us. We couldn’t talk about her, it might have brought back the old wounds… the time we were apart. It was the best thing.’
‘Was it?’ Bo asked quietly. ‘It sure didn’t help my conscience.’
‘I have a conscience too, you weren’t the only one who felt guilty about Carly! But what was I supposed to do about it except forget it ever happened; for the sake of what we got back!’ Hope cried. ‘Why did you have to leave your family for so long instead of talking it out if you wanted to so badly?’
‘Because I knew it would’ve been very hard for you to listen, being the key player in all this.’
‘How dare you…’ Hope whispered, feeling like he’d struck her on the chest. ‘How dare you, how dare you say this to me! We both agreed to put it all behind us… to start over; it was the only thing to do. Okay, most of it was my fault but I so badly wanted to put it behind me. What were we supposed to do, apologise to Carly?’
‘I know what I said and what we agreed on,’ Bo said quietly. ‘But in the end I couldn’t do it, Hope. I couldn’t move on and pretend all was great, knowing how much I hurt Carly and I really hurt her, Hope. You’re not stupid, you must have realised at some point. I was snappy and moody at work, not to mention those nights I couldn’t sleep.’
Hope was fully aware of those but had told herself it had nothing to do with Carly, merely stress over the budget cuts after his attack at the Brady Pub. ‘Whatever your reasons Brady, you had no right staying away for so long like that. I was the one who had to explain to Ciara why you didn’t spend Christmas with us, why you had to be away. It wasn’t fair.’
‘No it wasn’t and I’m sorry about that.’ Bo said, remorse now in his voice. ‘But what I did… I had to, it was eating me alive.’
Hope bit her lower lip and turned away, her mind in turmoil. She thought she would be prepared to tell him it was over between them when he came back. But right now she was at a loss for words. Whether it was because she was beholding the man she’d loved for twenty five years again; whom she‘d lived with and bore his children or what she sensed he was about to tell her; she didn’t know. Whatever it was, she wasn’t about to give him the satisfaction of telling her, not now anyway. So bracing herself, she turned back to face Bo, face expressionless again. ‘So… Stefano?’
‘Only a matter of time before the ISA finally arrest him, I gathered more than enough evidence against him. Salem’s going to be free of him at last.’ EJ on the other hand was different story; ever since Stefano disowned him, he’d gone legit; breaking all ties with his father’s various businesses and focusing on his law practice. Bo was glad but strictly only for Johnny and Sydney’s sakes.
Hope nodded, her mind working furiously and heart hammering. Tell him about Aiden, her head told her. Why let him tell you he’s chosen to go back to Carly; tell him!
I can’t… not until I’m sure it’s really over, her heart replied. Bo was back and even in the middle of her anger, the lingering feelings reignited as soon as she laid eyes on him. 25 years was far too hard to ignore, no matter what she felt for Aiden. She needed time to process.
‘Well, I guess you’ve seen Carly and Starr at the hospital.’ She muttered, not knowing what else to say.
‘Yes I have.’
‘Ciara can’t stop talking about her ever since Shawn D took her to see her. At least she’s not angry with me anymore.’
‘Why was she angry with you before?’ Bo asked curiously.
Hope fidgeted, not meeting his eyes. ‘I… I didn’t tell her about Starr, there was never the right time to.’
Liar, thought Bo but let it pass.
‘Well, I guess you’ll need a shower and something to eat…’ she moved away.
‘Hope, we’re not finished.’
‘You just got back, Bo. We’ll talk more later.’ Hope said, forcing the desperation out her voice. She was not ready to continue what would prove an earth shattering discussion.
‘Hope…’ Bo began hotly then stopped at the sound of a mobile ringing from the back of her jeans. Filled with relief at the interruption, Hope pulled it out, her heart sinking as she looked at the caller I.D. ‘Hello?’
‘Hey sweetheart, are you okay; you sound weird. Anything wrong?’ Aiden asked.
‘Umm.. actually yes, I can come over right now.’ Hope seized the golden chance of getting away from Bo for a while. ‘I’ll see you there.’
‘Hope, what’s going on…’
She hung up, raising her head to face Bo who was staring hard at her, suspicion in his eyes. Well tough, she thought, her heart hardening. He comes back after what also turned out to be a soul searching journey and expected her to listen to his obvious decision… just like that. ‘I have to be at the station, Roman needs my input on a case we’re handling right now.’ She smiled tightly. ‘Welcome home, Brady.’ Grabbing her purse lying on the coffee table she left the house. Bo silently watched her leave before grabbing his bag and went upstairs.