Carly showed up as promised and the first thing Bo noticed was her hair was back to its original chestnut waves, with a few needle-thin blonde highlights. ‘You look great,’ he said, leading her by the hand inside. Now that he realized what he felt for Carly, it took a lot of restraint from him not to clasp her in his arms and cover her with kisses. Carly looked round, remembering when the house was Jennifer and Jack’s and how it was the last house she visited before saying goodbye to Bo. ‘Would you like a drink?’
‘No thanks, I’m good.’ Carly pushed back some strands of hair from her forehead, more than curious to find out what Bo had to say this time. ‘So, what’s going on?’ she asked, sitting down on the couch. Bo sat next to her, wondering how to begin. Now that she was here, he suddenly found it difficult to put his feelings into words.
‘Bo, what’s wrong?’ Carly asked apprehensively.
‘Nothing’s wrong,’ Bo assured her, finding his tongue at last. He took her hand, holding it between his. ‘First off… I’m really sorry about that other day, when… when I...’
‘You have nothing to apologize for,’ began Carly but Bo shook his head firmly, squeezing her hand. ‘You do deserve an apology Carly; I had no right to ask you that, not you. You were the one who dragged me out of the dark place I was living in when you first came to Salem. You changed my life, made me whole again. You deserve better than what I asked of you.’
‘Bo… it’s really okay, I’m not upset about it at all. But if it makes you feel better, I accept your apology.’
‘You know what would really make me feel better; is if we end this stupid thing we’ve been doing and be together, permanently.’
Carly stared at him. ‘What?’
‘There’s no better way to do this so I’ll just come right out and say it… I’ve fallen in love with you, all over again.’ Bo said softly, freeing a hand to caress her neck.
‘I don’t understand,’ Carly moved away from his touch and rose to her feet, unable to believe what she was hearing.
‘I know it’s not something you expected to hear,’ Bo got up. ‘But it’s true. This time away made me realize what I’ve been feeling about you all this time. I love you and I want to be with you from now on.’
‘Oh my God…’ Carly murmured, shocked. He was serious. She wanted to burst with happiness and tell him she loved him too and kiss him breathless. You can’t do that, Carly. If he finds out what happened to you and what you did... the vicious voice in her head reminded her. Besides, there was a nagging doubt in her mind. So she backed up; folding her arms. ‘What about Hope?’ she asked, forcing her voice to be cold.
‘What about her?’ Bo demanded.
‘25 years of marriage and memories is a lot to throw away, so you can’t expect me to believe you’re willing to do that, Bo. We only had 3 years.’
‘It doesn’t mean I’m not capable of loving you again. We’re not exactly total strangers here.’
‘That’s true, we’re not. But… you’ve been with Hope forever; she’s the mother of three of your children… your soul mate. If I was still here when she came back, you probably would’ve gone back to her.’
‘How can you say that, Carly!’ Bo was appalled and angry. ‘I loved you!’
‘But our love wasn’t enough to keep us together!’ Carly cried. ‘Even before Vivian attacked me at the hospital, we were always fighting, Bo, you know that. And I saw how Hope’s “death” hurt you, I still remember the times you were so cruel. I understood your pain but it still hurt, because I loved you so much and I was human. That’s what would’ve happened, you would’ve left me for her.’
‘Neither of us know what would’ve happened then,’ Bo said harshly, moving closer to her. ‘And I don’t want to talk about that time, Carly. The day you left was the most miserable day of my life. I moved on eventually but it doesn’t mean I ever forgot you. Years ago, you came at the crucial time I thought my life was over. My marriage was on the rocks when you came back and I found myself wondering what my feelings for you were. I’m not a kid, I know what they are.’ He held her face. When Carly said nothing, Bo lowered his head to kiss her only for her to pull away, avoiding his eyes.
‘What we had… was a life time ago.’
‘And it’s still there, princess. You can’t tell me you don’t feel the same way.’
But Carly shook her head, standing her ground and hating herself for what she must do. ‘I don’t. I really do care about you Bo, but I don’t. Besides, somewhere along the line Hope will realize she wants to give her marriage another try and you will realize how much you miss her.
‘There’s no way that’s going to happen.’
‘Well I’m just going to tell her the truth then, that I’m in love with someone else, you!’ Bo snapped.
‘You say that now but later on you’re going to see I’m not the woman for you. I didn’t come back to Salem to break up your marriage and I don’t want to be the reason why you and Hope get a divorce.’
‘What are you talking about?’ Bo was now confused. ‘You didn’t break up my marriage, Hope left me and you know how much I tried reasoning with her.’
‘And suddenly along the line, I ended up being the reason you feel your marriage isn’t worth saving anymore.’
‘That’s not true, you’re simply twisting everything! I love you, I want a second chance with you, why won’t you believe that?’
Carly was about to reply when a sound came from her pocket. Bo swore as she drew her beeper out. ‘It’s the hospital. I have to go.’
‘We’re not finished.’
‘We are.’ Carly looked him in the eye. ‘And we’re not having this conversation again. Goodbye Bo.’
She turned, her face pale and drawn.
‘Years ago, you told me love’s something that happens, something you feel. The whole time we’ve been talking, you’ve avoided saying it but I know you love me as much as l love you, princess.’ Bo stared hard at her. ‘That’s why I’m not giving up on us, not ever.’
Standing at the door, he watched her walk to her car. In time, he’ll get through with her and they will have that second chance.
‘Damn you, Lawrence. Damn you and your soul to hell.’ Carly muttered as she drove back to the hospital; angry tears rolling down her cheeks.
After speaking to Hope over the phone, Bo picked up Ciara from school; the child overjoyed to see him. After taking her for ice cream, Bo took her to the house to give her what he brought home from California, a snow globe she was very pleased with. Bo’s mind was full of Carly but he managed to focus attention on his daughter.
‘Look Daddy, a bracelet.’ Ciara picked it up from the rug. ‘Is it Mummy’s?’
Bo took it from her. It was made of rose gold, with tiny diamonds. ‘It’s Carly’s,’ he said, immediately recognizing the antique piece Carly always wore on her right wrist. It once belonged to her mother; so she told him years ago. It must have slipped off her wrist when she was around earlier.
‘Oh.’ Ciara said uncertainly. Bo looked at her sharply. ‘Honey, Carly’s a very good person and I want you to get to know her. Don’t listen to what people say about her.’
Ciara nodded, suddenly remembering something. ‘Grandma and I saw her one day. And… she acted weird.’
‘What do you mean “weird”?’
‘She looked at me and then she started crying.’
Bo stared at his daughter, amazed. Crying? ‘Honey, are you sure about this?’
‘Yes, Daddy.’ Ciara said earnestly. ‘She cried like something about me made her very sad and then she just turned and walked away.’
Carly crying at the sight of Ciara. Why? And Caroline was there at the time, how could she be so heartless not to even mention it to him! Bo’s mind turned over to Carly, trying to figure out the reason behind her behavior. Was she sad because she never had another child? Carly hoped to have at least three more with him until Dr. Alvarez’s painful diagnosis, which she’d taken very hard. He’d done all he could to console her, assuring her of his love; even willing to adopt if she wanted. ‘Tell me what happened that day, exactly like it happened; whatever you remember.’ Bo instructed.
Ciara frowned thoughtfully, describing the incident bit by bit, Bo listening. From what Ciara told him they were tears of misery, not mere sadness. Bo had no idea what it was but it was obvious, Carly was hiding something. Knowing how stubborn she was, Bo knew it won’t do any good to confront her about it. It was going to take a lot of patience on his part to get her to open up to him. He loved Carly more than enough to give her that.
… I’ve fallen in love with you, all over again. Carly couldn’t get Bo’s words out of her head. She tried arguing to herself Bo was simply confused and feeling lonely and vulnerable but she’d seen the sincerity on his face. It was the look he often gave her when they were still together. He was willing to leave Hope for her, something she never thought for a second would happen, in spite of her own love for him. She should be happy, delirious with joy at the prospect of a second chance with him. Instead, Carly Manning felt herself sinking further and further in despair.
Broken, damaged…. a murderer. Carly wept, covering her face with her hands.
‘Oh boo hoo… the lady’s feeling sorry for herself,’ a taunting voice sounded at her elbow. Carly sprang to her feet, shocked at sight of the ghost of her tormentor perched on her filing cabinet. ‘“Will all the water in the ocean wash this blood from my hands?”’ Lawrence quoted the famous line from Macbeth maliciously.
‘Go to hell,’ Carly spat.
‘Oh, I’m already there, no thanks to you Katarina. But even in death, I haunt you and to my delight, standing between you and that peasant you love so much.’
‘He’s worth ten of you!’
‘So you made oh so obvious,’ Lawrence said coldly, mirth gone. ‘I gave you everything but it just wasn’t enough for you, you had to keep lusting after Bo Brady.’
‘You lured me away from him…’ Carly sobbed, ‘and then you ruined my life, you ruined me for good!’
‘I like to see it more as a punishment, a punishment you deserved. And frankly, I’m surprised Brady managed to bring himself to love you again. Much as it nauseates me to admit you love him, you held yourself apart all the same. You kept secrets and more secrets from him; he never exactly had all of you. Just like me; looks like we have something in common after all.’
‘No you don’t! He’s nothing like you, you’re a monster and he’s everything good! He still is!’
‘And yet… he still doesn’t know your secret,’ Lawrence murmured. ‘Of course he doesn’t. You want to spare him pain and make him keep thinking you’re still his golden princess.’
Carly glared at him, hating him.
‘So near and yet so far,’ Lawrence sneered. ‘You’re beyond the pale now, Katarina Von Leuschner and I’m beside myself with glee knowing you can never be with Bo Brady. I saw to that before you murdered me, didn’t I? Hence, poetic justice. Ta ta!’
The room was empty again. Carly sank to the floor, feeling sick to her stomach.