If Carly had any remaining misgivings accepting the job, they vanished on her very first day. Lexie welcomed her warmly and introduced her to the other members of staff. Carly felt she was really back home when she slipped on the white coat. She was a doctor again, caring for and treating the sick. Once again, she had a purpose in life. It was what she really needed and was glad she listened to Daniel. The Head Nurse- Maxine Landis- was very friendly, she liked her already. One of the younger doctors was friendly too, Nathan Horton. On asking him, he explained he was Maggie and Mickey’s grandson. Nathan seemed a nice young man, another doctor in the Horton family. Compared to them and the Bradys, she and Frankie were the only Von Leuschners left; the relatives they had were from their mother’s side. Of course there was also Nicky and a sprinkling of Alamains. Naturally, Vivian didn’t count.
Her first day would’ve been uneventful but for two incidents. The first one was running into one of the student nurses; whom Carly immediately recognized as the spitfire she accidentally spilled coffee on. The name tag pinned to her overall read Melanie Layton. ‘Hello again,’ Carly said amiably, choosing to forget the girl’s rudeness that day.
Melanie regarded the older woman coldly. Looking back, she realized she had overacted but still felt angry towards Carly because her remarks and giving her money had made her feel small. And to a person like Melanie who was hot tempered with a huge chip on her shoulder; it wasn’t a pleasant feeling. ‘So, you’re a doctor.’ She replied, refusing to acknowledge or return the greeting. She looked at Carly’s I.D clipped to her coat, the name ringing a bell. So she was Carly Manning, Bo’s ex fiancée she heard Maggie and Mickey talking about. Her lip curled cynically. The woman was very beautiful but Bo and Hope’s love was steady despite their current estrangement so she didn’t stand a chance if it was true she was planning to get back with Bo.
‘That’s right, I used to work here years ago. It’s great to be back here and working with new people. I hope we’ll get along well, Melanie.’
‘I doubt it, not with what I know about you.’ Melanie replied, before she could stop herself. ‘Hope’s a great person, a lot of people love her. So if you’re still harboring ideas about stealing her husband just because they’re separated right now, just know a lot of people are on her side. Not in a million years are they going to side with you, got that?’
‘You’ve got the wrong idea about me,’ Carly said quietly.
‘I’m so right about you,’ Melanie replied obstinately, ‘and you can’t hold a candle to Hope Brady. She’s been with Bo for more than a decade, they have kids. You gave up your rights ages ago after you dumped him for some rich ruler…’
‘That’s enough,’ a cold angry voice came from behind, startling both women. Bo’s face was a picture of fury, his brown eyes glinting as he stared down at a now silent Melanie. ‘My marriage and my past with Carly is none of your business. You stick to your own life and butt out of stuff that’s got nothing to do with you. Get out here right now.’
As Bo was the only person Melanie was intimidated by, she didn’t dare answer back. Instead she did what she was told, albeit sulkily.
‘Would I sound spiteful if I said “thanks”?’ Carly asked dryly.
‘Of course not. That girl’s attitude problem’s no news to me.’
‘You know her well?’
Bo snorted. ‘We have a… tense history. She’s Max’s sister- long lost sister,’ he added as Carly’s eyes widened, ‘and she’s currently dating Phillip.’
Phillip Kiriakis, Bo’s younger brother; handsome like Bo but as arrogant as their father. Carly had disliked him on sight when Bo introduced him to her. A match made in heaven, she thought.
‘She had no right to talk to you like that, you should report her.’
‘Right… my first day on the job and I make a complaint. What’s the point, Bo? She’s only repeating what she heard from other people.’ Carly replied bitterly. Melanie’s harsh words had struck a nerve. You can’t hold a candle to Hope Brady. She’s been with Bo for more than a decade, they have kids.
Bo’s heart clenched at the look of pain on Carly’s face, vowing to give Melanie Layton a good talking to. ‘I’m so sorry about this,’ he said, rubbing her arm consolingly.
‘I just chose the wrong time to come back, that’s all. Don’t apologize.’ Carly blinked back the tears threatening to come. Pulling herself together with great effort, she gave him a faint smile. ‘What are you doing here anyway?’
‘I came by to see how you’re getting along. How’s it going so far?’
‘Well, other than what you just saw, pretty great. It’s a bit strange being back here though. It’s the same yet not the same. I miss Marcus and Dr. Horton.’ Carly said, wistfully thinking of her former colleague Marcus Hunter and sadly of her mentor, Tom Horton- dead for several years.
‘Cheer up,’ Bo said, his hand still on her shoulder. ‘You could hook up with Marcus one of these days, he lives in New York now. I can get you his number if you want.’
Carly nodded. ‘I would like that, thanks.’ She hesitated then asked, ‘How are things with you and Hope now? Improving?’
Bo sighed, shaking his head. Any attempt to talk with Hope ended up in a fight. ‘I’m yet to get through with her.’ To tell the truth, he had no idea what she wanted and despite his love for her, his patience was slowly starting to run thin. The number of times she left him to “think”, not allowing him in or caring how he was hurting.
‘I’m sorry. I feel she’s being unfair, taking this stance with you… about the way you handled Ciara’s case. But all the same, you’ve been together for a long time and you love her very much. If you guys can’t communicate, shouldn’t you try marriage counselling then?’ And finally get me off the hook.
‘If I thought that would help, I would’ve suggested it myself, Carly. The best thing I can hope for is that my wife’s not thinking about throwing away 25 years and we’ll finally get around having a very long talk. I think something went wrong between us after we lost Zack.’ Bo said, thinking of the son they lost far too soon.
Carly’s heart ached at the sadness in his voice. ‘I guess you two didn’t realize that until Ciara was kidnapped. That sense of wrongness was there the whole time but you didn’t see it… or rather you chose to ignore it. If that’s the case you two need to talk it out, with each other or with a counsellor. Shawn D’s a grown man but you still have Ciara to consider.’
Either way was good for him, because he was tired of living in limbo; pacing the house every night yearning for his wife and daughter. And thinking of Carly as well, the voice in his head reminded him. It wasn’t something he could help, he felt the strong urge to protect her; more so after what Victor said about her and that unknown change in Carly he was yet to put his finger on. It did his heart good seeing her taking the reins of her profession again, the white coat over her sweater and slacks; the stethoscope slung over one shoulder. Years ago she always wore her hair back when at work, now the sleek curls framed her face. She looked beautiful; though older, her face unlined. But he disliked the hardness he detected on it and the absence of the familiar luster in her eyes. It was like her eyes were dead or something; her entire face a mask. It had to be more than mourning Lawrence. Was she hiding something?
Quit being stupid Brady, what in hell would she be hiding? Bo chided himself. Mask or not, she was being supportive and he was touched by it. ‘Listen, just concentrate on this new job. Hope and I will straighten things out eventually. It wouldn’t be the first time we would hit a rough patch anyway. That’s marriage for you.’
Carly nodded, thinking his rough patches with Hope were small compared to the hell she lived in for several years. ‘I hope so too. I guess I better get back to my rounds.’
‘Right… I’ll see you later.’ As he touched her arm, warmth seeped through his body and again felt the impulse to put his arms around her. Their eyes met and for a few seconds Bo thought he saw her eyes twinkle. Instead, she nodded curtly and walked away, gripping her clipboard.
Bo stared after her retreating figure, stunned by the effect Carly had on him. He always seemed to react the same way whenever he was around her, this time more intense. He badly wanted to hold her and kiss her breathless; awaken the passionate vibrant woman he remembered. You’re so protective of your ex fiancée, I’m certain you’ll be able to control yourself and not let it go too far, Victor’s scathing words flooded back.
Victor was just bitter old man who didn’t know what he was talking about, Bo thought as he took his leave. His history with Carly was far too important to him to even think about seducing her. She was in mourning and he was married; neither of them stupid enough to jeopardize the platonic friendship they now had. Frankie- who called him a few days after Carly returned- made him promise him to look after his sister. He wasn’t going to betray Frankie’s trust either. Besides, having an affair with Carly would harm his chances with Hope and give everyone a real excuse to slander Carly. Bo scowled, remembering Melanie’s impertinence. He didn’t feel like hunting her down at the moment. Instead he’ll tell Phillip to keep that girlfriend of his in check.
Much later, Carly sat at her desk; deep in thought. It was preordained her reawakened feelings for Bo would reach its peak, having kept him in her heart all those miserable years with Lawrence. She loved him, more than ever. It was pure agony just being near him and keeping an impassive front. Even if Bo was free, they could never be together. She was far too damaged for him or any man. And she held a secret he could never know about. A secret which still gave her nightmares. These days she was too afraid to sleep, for fear of reliving that night of all nights. She could see it vividly. The knife. Dear God… the knife. No… Bo must never know; about that or her love.
Shivering, Carly pulled a file towards her, opening it. There was a folded piece of paper in it. Surprised, Carly took it and opened it. The hateful words in bold capital letters leaped at her.
NO ONE WANTS YOU HERE. GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM, BITCH.