Carly sobbed quietly and Alice’s heart ached for her; thinking how both families would immediately envelop Carly with love and sympathy if they only knew the great sadness and pain she was carrying. She thought of Bo and what his reaction would be if he found out. With the present situation between him and her granddaughter, she didn’t know if it would change things or just make it worse. Carly was adamant about not ever telling Bo about it.
‘Bo will never despise you for what you did. Not after everything Lawrence did and took from you.’
Carly sniffled, wiping her eyes with a Kleenex. ‘It will hurt him so much, Mrs. Horton. And you know him as well as I do; he’ll blame himself and it could cause more strain between him and Hope. I can’t burden him with this, I just can’t.’
‘But it has a lot to do with Bo as well.’ Alice argued. ‘I understand where you’re coming from… I do and I share your pain. Regardless, I feel he should know about this. Eventually he’s going to realize you’re hiding something and that will really hurt him too because he’s trying very hard to be your friend and he’ll feel shut out.’
‘We can’t even be with each other as friends anymore, not with what everyone thinks of me or how I feel about him. I… I told Bo it was best we stayed away from each other.’
‘Why would you do that?’
Quietly, Carly told her what happened at Mickey’s wake, including what Justin said. ‘Hope’s jealous of me.’ she added. ‘ Bo never told her about me and it’s making her unreasonable; she’s so sure I want to take Bo away from her. I don’t even know if she would be behaving like this if things were normal between them when I came back to Salem. All she's got to do is go home and work things out with Bo. I honestly don’t understand it, is this all about pride?’
‘Partly, I’m afraid. Hope’s always been stubborn and at times impulsive. This won’t be the first time she left home to “think” and Bo loves her more than enough to overlook it and forgive her afterwards. Nobody knows if she was going to ask Bo for a divorce or if it’s just a temporary separation. But she was obviously worried when you came back, an ex she never knew about. They’ve always managed to get over their rough patches; I don’t know why this is different. It hurts me to see her test Bo’s patience the way she’s been doing. Bo’s been a wonderful husband and father all these years. She should ponder on that right now. And nobody is to blame you for the situation,’ Alice said firmly. ‘From now on, it’s something that’s going to stop.’
Carly nodded. ‘Thank you, Mrs. Horton. It really means a lot to me.’
Alice stroked Carly’s damp cheek with her fingers. ‘There’s no need to thank me, Carly. You’ve always been very dear to me. You still are.’
Carly pressed the beloved hand against her cheek. Alice looked into the green eyes tenderly. She thought about Bo and Hope and again about how things happened for a reason. Deep in her bones, the matriarch of the Horton clan had the strong feeling that this “rough patch” will prove a lot different from the past ones.
Roman assured Bo that it had been the anger talking, Hope didn’t mean what she said. Before knew it, she and Ciara will be back home with him. Bo was already sick and tired of everyone’s reassurances. Just like Carly said, no one’s been talking to Hope about her present behavior towards him, merely wrapping her in cotton wool and protecting her like they always did. If Hope thought he would go down on his knees and assure her of his love and fidelity, she might as well whistle for it. His patience was running thin every day.
‘I did what I had to do to ensure our daughter’s safety; I don’t deserve all this. Why can’t things just go back to normal.’ Bo snapped, frustrated.
Roman looked at him steadily. ‘Well maybe if you saw Carly less…’ he began.
‘So help me Roman, I’ll take a swing at you if you start on her as well.’
‘Take it easy, I’m not blaming her for your problems with Hope,’ Roman explained, raising a placating hand. ‘But even you have to agree she’s a complication you don’t need right now. Carly’s a woman you almost married. She’s now widowed and you’re separated from Hope. It doesn’t take a genius to guess what might happen. The only time you let yourself look at another woman is if you’re convinced it’s over between you and Hope. You made that mistake when Billie tricked you more than once and you almost lost Hope for good.’
‘Carly will never do a thing like that to me.’
‘Of course she won’t,’ Roman agreed. ‘But she’ll end up getting hurt when you eventually reconnect with Hope. Will you be able to live with yourself if you did that to Carly, of all people? You love Hope Bo, so for God sake; try to keep your distance from Carly.’
‘You don’t have to worry about that,’ Bo said bitterly. ‘Carly’s already told me to stay away from her.’
Roma now looked uncomfortable, startled that Carly took the initiative. ‘Gosh Bo, I’m sorry.’
‘Really? After the speech you just gave, I find that hard to believe. My wife and I are living apart because she thinks I gambled with our daughter’s life and my ex doesn’t want to be seen with me anymore because of my wife’s jealousy. It’s all about Hope, my feelings don’t matter.’
‘That’s not true.’ Roman protested. ‘Of course your feelings matter.’
Bo got up, his coffee untouched. ‘No they don’t. If they did, everybody would’ve talked Hope into coming back home ages ago and not lecture me about being patient with her or questioning my relationship with Carly. Carly’s the only one who sees the situation clearly and she won’t even talk to me anymore. Thanks a lot for the sound advice, big brother. It’s of no help.’
Bo stormed out of the Brady Pub, the glass door almost breaking; ignoring Roman calling his name. If he felt he was living in limbo before, he felt knee deep in it now. He was furious with Hope toying with his emotions; making him guess whether she really wanted a divorce or not. She’d used the words maybe, almost like she was dangling a carrot in front of him, not seeming to care she was hurting him. Carly wanted nothing to do with him, believing she was acting on his best interest. She invoked strong feelings in him just by being herself and it was more than the kindness and protectiveness he’d been showing for her. Roman was right in a way, she was a complication. But all the same, he was very hurt she made such a drastic decision. She couldn’t possibly think he would accept it just like that. Bo knew firsthand how obstinate Carly Manning could be but she should’ve remembered he surpassed her in obstinacy, always.
Alice gave Carly a warm goodbye hug, urging her to think over what she told her. Alice Horton wasn’t a woman one could refuse anything but Carly doubted she would ever have the courage to reveal her secret to Bo. She simply couldn’t do it. Yet Alice’s words remained in her ears, “eventually he’s going to realize you’re hiding something and that will really hurt him too.”
Carly drove back to the hospital, running into Bo on the way in. They stared at each other in silence for a minute. ‘We have to talk,’ Bo said at last, taking her arm. Carly struggled but Bo kept a firm grip on her arm until they entered her office, closing the door behind them.
‘I thought I told you to stay away from me.’
‘You told me and I heard you loud and clear,’ Bo replied brusquely.
‘Why are you here then?’ Carly demanded.
‘Because we’re not finished, Carly.’
Carly ran her hands through her hair in agitation. ‘What exactly do you want from me?’
‘Hope and I talk and talk and achieve nothing and I don’t want the same to happen to us; I don’t want to lose you, Carly or what we have.’
‘Whatever you think we have, it’s just going to make things even worse between you and your wife. What almost happened at the apartment proved I can’t be your friend. Before you know it, we’ll end up having an affair and you’ll end up divorced. And then what do you think the town will call me then?’
Bo stared at her intently. ‘Hope thinks we should get a divorce. She feels we can’t make each other happy anymore.’
Carly was stunned. ‘Do you agree with her?’
Bo spread his hands. ‘We haven’t been happy with each other for a long time, that’s a fact.’
‘But surely you… you won’t throw away 25 years of marriage. I know you. You wouldn’t do that.’ Carly insisted, unable to believe what she was hearing.
‘Of course I wouldn’t.’ Bo replied, his voice quiet. ‘But what am I supposed to do Carly, force a woman who’s no longer happy with me to stay married to me? And it’s not like I’ve been happy either. I’ve tried, I’ve tried so hard and just end up getting stumped on.’ He moved nearer to her, brown eyes fixed on her face. ‘Do you know you’re the only one who keeps me sane? That I feel less miserable whenever we talk or hang out? I called it friendship but I was just kidding myself; it’s something more.’
Carly lowered her eyes. ‘Bo…’
‘Don’t deny it.’ Bo raised her chin, holding her face between his palms. ‘I don’t know what it is and you probably don’t either but it’s there. Let’s be together and see what it is and where it goes.’
Carly stared at the warm brown eyes, the word yes on her lips. How she wanted to say yes! But there was her terrible secret, her affliction and the fact that it was Hope Bo really loved. Instead she closed her eyes, not wanting to see his reaction when she said…'I can’t.’
She opened them again. ‘I’m sorry; I can’t.’ she shook her head. ‘You’re my ex fiancé and I care about you but I don’t want to have an affair with you. Whatever’s between us, it’s not love. And eventually, Hope could decide she doesn’t want a divorce after all. It’s best we don’t complicate things further, Bo.’ She removed his hands gently, her heart aching at the hurt and disappointment in Bo’s eyes.
‘Can’t you even consider…’ he began.
‘There’s nothing to consider.’ Carly shook her head firmly. ‘And like I said before, it would be best we stayed away from each other.’
Bo left her office without a word. Carly forced herself not to cry this time.
That night, Bo went to The Cheating Heart and got drunk. Carly found another anonymous note, folded and placed on her door mat.
Leave Salem, home wrecker. You’ve been warned.
‘Yeah, tell it to my face.’ Carly muttered angrily, already upset over Bo.
On her next day off, Carly took the train to the countryside, several miles away from Salem. The caretaker of the lake cabin she wanted to buy, a tall bluff man in his late fifties, was there waiting for her with the keys. It could hardly be described as a cabin, more like a cottage since it was bigger than she expected. It had a front and back porch, a large furnished living room and kitchen and three bedrooms upstairs. Like Frankie said, the house stood just near the crystal clear lake, stone steps on the tiny bluff leading to a short wooden jetty over the water. The view was breathtaking and Carly immediately felt entranced and refreshed by her surroundings. It was the perfect place to hide and relax.
She called Frankie on the phone on the train ride back to Salem, giving him the offering price to pass along to the owner. The following morning he got back to her. ‘He accepted, Carly.’
‘Great! Send me the papers and I’ll wire him the money and…’
‘You don’t have to do that, I bought you the house.’
‘Frankie, you didn’t!’ Carly exclaimed.
‘I did. After all those years of not being there for you, I wanted to do something for you.’
‘Frankie, it’s so sweet of you and I love you for it, but you didn’t have to. Please let me reimburse you.’
‘Don’t be silly. My share of the inheritance tripled over the years, just like yours; so this house is not exactly taking the shirt off my back. Accept this gift from me, okay?’
Carly sighed, touched by his gesture. ‘You’re the best brother in the world. Thanks love.’
‘Anytime sis. I’ll send the papers over as soon as I can.’
Carly hung up and went to her bedroom. Sitting at the dressing table, she pulled out a rosewood box from the bottom drawer. Opening it, she brought out its contents, one by one. A photograph of Bo, Shawn Douglas and herself; taken by Alice with Shawn D’s camera on Christmas Day, 1991. Bo’s jade ring. Carly ran the back her thumb over it before taking something else out; a scroll with wooden handles. The ancient Mayan story-poem, a wedding present from Marlena. Carly could clearly visualize herself back in Mexico with Bo; in the candle lit hut, taking turns in reading it. Precious relics of her time with Bo she managed to keep hidden from Lawrence for years. Running her fingers over the calligraphic writing on the parchment, Carly began to read:
This is the first entry to the story; the story of how the Mayans came to be. Always in suspense, at peace and in silence. There was not yet a man or a woman. Neither were there animals or birds, fish, trees or stones.
In this way, the heavens existed, and also the Corzon Del Cielo- the heart of Heaven; This being the name of God and this is how he is called. The word then reached here, together came two gods and the darkness in the night... And they joined their words and thought. Then it became clear that when dawn came Man should appear.
"'Now that be done thusly, they said, "let the emptiness be filled. If this water withdraw and vacate space, let the land surge up and it shall be solid.''
So they spoke: "Then let there be light. Let there be dawn in the heavens and on earth. There will be neither glory nor grandeur in our creation until a human creature exists."
And with these words of two... the world began.
Tears slid down her cheeks.