None of the Hortons made any reference to the incident but Hope felt they were all looking at her differently now, not judging her for leaving her husband but all the same taking Carly’s words to heart. She’d told the truth and it hurt. But there was Maggie and Alice to think about for the moment, hence no gentle recriminations. But Hope knew they would come eventually.
Bo found her in the kitchen on the morning of Mickey’s funeral; making coffee. She looked at him bitterly. ‘I thought you were satisfied your girlfriend did your job for you. Did you come by to dish out more?’
‘This is a sad day for all of us. Are we going to fight today of all days?’ asked Bo quietly.
Hope bit her lip and turned away, unable to find a reply. Bo walked up to her, placing his hands on her shoulders. Hope shook them off and he let out a sigh of exasperation. ‘Hope, please… I’m sick of this. If we’re going to fix our marriage we have to find some way to communicate.’
‘This is not exactly the right time for that.’ Hope muttered, taking something from the cabinet.
‘Then we should make time.’
‘When I’m ready to, I will. I’m not going to let a sanctimonious hypocrite dictate to me about our marriage.’
‘Don’t call her that. You have no reason to be threatened by her, I told you before.’ Bo did all he could not to raise his voice, out of respect for Maggie and his determination to make headway with Hope. ‘She’s the past and you’re my wife, the mother of my children. Is it that hard for you to believe that I love you?’
‘Love doesn’t always guarantee happiness and you know we haven’t been happy, even before Ciara was kidnapped. And if you loved me, you would give me some space; not trash me to your ex.’
‘I never trashed you to Carly. And as for space, how long am I expected to wait before I know what you really want from me- a divorce? Just say it once and for all, is that what you want?’
‘Oh you would love that, a chance to be with that woman…’
‘Damn it, I’m talking about us, us! Leave her out of this!’ Bo shouted, finally at the end of his rope.
‘Yes, maybe I want it!’ Hope shouted angrily, provoked. ‘Maybe it would be the best thing, for us to end it because we sure can’t make each other happy anymore!’
Bo stared at her, unable to say anything. It wasn’t a sure enough answer but it seemed final all the same. What she said about not being happy together for a long time was true but he never thought about calling it quits either, believing they could still fix their marriage.
Hope stared back, tears in her eyes. ‘My uncle is being buried today, Bo. Let’s just put our differences aside and be there for Maggie and Gram. Afterwards… maybe we’ll be able to talk this out properly.’
She walked out, leaving Bo standing there, shaken.
Feeling certain she would be an unwelcome presence, Carly decided not to go to the funeral after all but vowed to place flowers on Mickey’s grave on the way home. Thankfully she had enough patients to see to; keeping herself from thinking about Bo. Carly felt angry at the whole mess; if things were alright with him and Hope when she came back, her friendship with him wouldn’t be in question and her love for him easier to bear. She wasn’t angry Bo came on to her, obviously wanting her physically. It was understandable he would feel lonely and turn to her for comfort. And it was no use lying to herself; she would’ve made love with him and demanded nothing else. She wasn’t “good girl Carly” anymore. As long as he thought her reason for changing her mind was because of Hope, he would work all the more to get her and Ciara home. Her secrets will be safe forever and she could go on loving him from afar.
Blinking back tears, Carly focused on her patients, administering treatment and making notes.
‘Hi Dr. Manning.’ Carly turned to the nurse who had addressed her. ‘Hello.’ She replied.
‘I was the one who heard you, when you were stuck in the elevator.’
‘Oh right… Sally isn’t it?’
‘Yes. I just wanted to see if you’re okay. It must have been horrible, shut up there that long.’
Carly shuddered at the memory. ‘I’m fine now, Sally. It was a simple case of claustrophobia. But thank you for your concern.’
The girl beamed. ‘Anytime, Dr. Manning.’
Carly nodded and turned to go to her office, then saw Melanie just stepping out of the elevator. ‘Hi. How was the funeral?’ she asked, walking up to her.
Melanie nodded soberly. ‘As far as funerals go, it was okay.’
Carly was surprised; she expected a rude answer from the girl who’d made it plain she disliked her. ‘I thought you would be with Maggie today.’
‘I do have the day off; I only came to get something I forgot in my locker.’
‘Okay then.’ Carly turned to go.
‘Dr. Manning,’ Melanie followed her, her tone hesitant. ‘I’ve never found it easy to say I’m sorry for anything. But I want to apologize for the way I’ve been acting, for the stuff I said. I hope you’ll be able to forget it… can you?’
Carly marveled at the positive change in the girl’s demeanor towards her. ‘Sure, Melanie; I don’t have a grudge against you. But why this all of a sudden?’
Melanie blushed, looking at her fingers. ‘It’s because of what you said to Hope at the wake.’ She replied at last.
‘Oh no...’ Carly shook her head. ‘I insulted Hope and her family, I’m not proud of it.’
‘You told the truth and you were right.’ Melanie insisted. ‘And maybe everybody will look at the situation a lot more objectively from now on, like I have. I shouldn’t have gone by what they’ve been thinking about you. I’m really sorry, Dr. Manning.’
The girl sounded so contrite that Carly moved nearer and touched her shoulder. ‘It’s okay Melanie, I accept your apology.’
Melanie smiled and Carly couldn’t help thinking what a pretty girl she was, the smile altering her face entirely. At least there was one Salemite less who didn’t think she was a home wrecker.
‘Thanks Dr. Manning. I guess I’ll see you later.’
‘Okay.’ Carly hesitated. She wanted to ask Melanie to tell Maggie she’ll come by to see her but after what happened at the wake; Maggie may slam the door on her face. It was all very well for Melanie to assume the Hortons would look at things more objectively but she doubted it. Hope commanded too much of their love and loyalty for that to happen. But there was someone else who might agree to see her.
The housekeeper led her into the living room where Alice Horton was seated on an armchair by the window. Carly was shocked at how aged and frail Alice now looked; her hair shorter and snow white, more lines on the familiar kindly face. Dressed in black, her expression was sad and pensive.
Alice looked up, a faint smile lighting her face and she held out her arms. Carly went to her and the two women embraced.
‘Carly.’ She murmured, pulling away slightly to touch her face. ‘You’re here at last. I’m so happy to see you, dear.’
Carly smiled back, pressing a kiss on the wrinkled cheek, relieved and happy at the warm welcome. Her mother long dead and Caroline so cold towards her, Alice’s motherly regard towards her was a huge gift. ‘It’s wonderful to see you again, Mrs. Horton.’ Pulling an ottoman near Alice’s chair she sat down, commiserating with her over Mickey’s death. Alice held Carly’s hand, accepting Carly’s condolence with sad resignation.
‘But let’s talk about you now, dear. I’ve been wondering when you’ll come over to see me.’
‘I’m sorry, Mrs. Horton. I thought… I wasn’t sure you would want to see me, with what’s going on with Bo and Hope.’
‘Why wouldn’t I?’ Alice chided. ‘You have nothing to do with the trouble between them.’
‘The rest of the family don’t think so, the Bradys too.’
‘They are wrong. And I’m sorry you’re going through all this, with what you’re already going through.’
Carly stared at her. ‘What I’m already going through? I don’t understand.’
‘Come, come dear…’ Alice shook her head. ‘I may be old but I can still read you like a book. I’ve seen sadness in your eyes before. Now I see hardness in them, which means you’ve been carrying a lot of pain in your heart.’
Carly bowed her head. What she’d been hiding from Bo and the rest of the Salemites, Alice saw it in seconds. ‘I’ve never been able to hide anything from you, have I?’
‘No, never. As soon you sat near me, I saw it. Which makes me gladder you came by. Now, what’s this all about?’
Carly opened her mouth to speak then closed it, her lips trembling. How could she reveal her secrets to Alice of all people? What would she think of her when she knew? ‘Mrs. Horton, it’s too painful for me to tell and too shocking for you to hear.’ she whispered, tears forming in her eyes. ‘Please… don’t make me tell you… I can’t.’
Alice tightened her hold on Carly’s hand, peering at her. ‘Carly, you know you can confide in me. From the moment Bo told me you seemed different when you came back, I sensed something was wrong. It’s obviously something more than Lawrence’s assassination, isn’t it?’
Carly looked down at their clasped hands and nodded, the tears flowing down her cheeks.
‘Tell me, Carly.’ Alice pleaded.
‘Oh God...’ Carly pressed her trembling lips with her other hand. Fighting for courage she lowered her eyes; unable to look Alice in the face. ‘Lawrence… wasn’t assassinated by an anarchist. I… I was the one who killed him.’
She heard a sharp intake of breath and Alice raised her chin, her face now pale. ‘Was it accidental?’ she whispered.
Carly shook her head, more tears rolling down her cheeks. ‘Mrs. Horton… my life these past years has been nothing but a nightmare. It wasn’t accidental.’ Holding on to Alice’s hand, Carly slowly told her the whole story and at the end of it burst into tears; burying her head on Alice’s lap. Alice Horton’s hands stroked Carly’s hair. ‘I killed Lawrence because I had to. I had to do it… I couldn’t bear it anymore.’
‘Does Bo know about this?’ Alice asked gently.
‘I can never tell him. It will break his heart.’ Carly wept.
‘My poor Carly. Darling girl, I’m so sorry for what happened to you. I was sad when you and Bo broke up but I still hoped you were happy wherever you were.’
Carly raised her head. Alice had tears in her eyes. ‘I never thought such a thing would happen to us, Mrs. Horton. I loved Bo very much; I still don’t know how it happened.’
‘You were a victim of circumstances, that’s what happened to you both. And you came back here, to heal didn’t you?’
Carly nodded, sniffling. ‘I’m trying to but it doesn’t seem to get any better. Not just because what everyone’s been thinking but…’ she lowered her eyes again.
‘You love Bo.’
‘I love him very much,’ Carly confessed. ‘But his love for me is in the past. Which is just as well because I can’t be with him.’
‘Not even if he and Hope decide to end their marriage?’
‘Not even that.’ Carly shook her head. ‘I’m not the woman for him, Mrs. Horton. Fate’s shown me that.’
Alice sighed, at how absurdly complicated everything was and at the same time thinking how certain things happened for a reason. Why else would Carly, after years of great suffering, returned at the time Bo and Hope’s marriage was on the rocks? Was Fate weaving a new future for the three of them? She had a feeling that was exactly the case and no one’s wishes was going to change it.