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Monday, September 07, 2015


They talked far into the night; Marcus hearing every detail of Carly’s life. By the time she was done he  was shocked, angry, disgusted and very sad for her.
‘Carly, I’m so sorry,’ he whispered, stroking her hair.
‘Why… why did I leave Salem with Lawrence, leaving the man I really loved behind? How could I’ve been such a fool?’ Carly wept and  Marcus consoled her. 
‘Honey…  you had amnesia. Lawrence took advantage of the situation by putting on the same old facade, just like he did when you were a girl; he worked hard to make you see what he wanted you to see. That son of a bitch didn’t deserve to live… not after the terrible thing he did to you.’ Marcus blinked back angry tears. ‘If he was still alive right now, I would hunt him down and kill him myself. And I would kill Vivian too for making everyone think you were dead and burying… burying you alive, my God!’ he shuddered at the thought.
‘Now you see why I can’t tell Bo, Marcus.’
‘I do see. But Carly, it’s not that simple anymore. If Bo and Hope were still together, I would advise you not to ever tell him. But now the man’s  love in with you and you’ve never really been good at hiding your feelings for him.’ Marcus reminded her. ‘The more excuses you give for not wanting to be with him, the more he’s going to suspect you’re hiding something and he’ll want answers. You know how stubborn he is, he won’t rest until he does. You honestly think a guy like Bo will let you go now that he’s found you again? I think not. Two people in love share each other’s pain, Carly. And this… this is his pain too. He has to know and you have to free yourself from all this.’
Carly got up, slowly pacing the room. ‘Will I have the courage?’ she whispered.
‘You will, in time.’ Marcus insisted. ‘And what will help you to begin with, more therapy. You realize you’re still suffering from PTSD; that has to be taken care of. And if you want be to be there when you eventually tell Bo the truth, you just tell me.’
Carly nodded, gratefully. ‘Thank you, Marcus. More than ever, I’m really  glad you’re here.’
‘Don’t worry about it.’ Marcus rose to hug her again, wiping away her tears. ‘You know you’re my girl and I got your back, always.’
Bo got ready for Mrs. Horton’s funeral. He was going to be one of the pallbearers; which was the least he could do for the woman who had been a huge part of his life and will be greatly missed by all of them.
Only Alice and her husband Tom had seen the good in the brash, young biker courting their granddaughter while everybody else disapproved for a while. When Hope ‘died’ and he met the beautiful but gutsy young Dr. Carly Manning, Alice especially did all she could to bring them together; supporting them during their trouble with Victor. And Alice had urged him to follow his heart after he confessed his reawakened love for Carly, as though she knew beforehand it was going to happen. She was the only one who felt his happiness was more important. Which made Bo miss her even more.

‘ “J loves F, Juanita loves Fredrick”’ he read Carly’s message on the cupcake.
Mrs. Horton smiled indulgently. ‘She misses you terribly.’
‘I miss her too, more than I can stand.’ Bo said ruefully. All the times he could’ve been with Carly, he pushed her away… to Victor’s arms. Now until her annulment was final, he couldn’t be with her like he badly wanted.
‘But you have to, dear. Pretty soon, it will be over.’
‘One minute away from her is too long.’
‘I wish there was more I can do for you two.’
He grinned, suddenly having a wonderful idea. ‘Maybe there is something. If I can’t see her or call her… maybe you can help me let her know how much I miss her.’
A few minutes later Alice left the boat, the love letter he’d written to Carly safely tucked in the pocket of her cardigan.

Bo straightened his tie, found his car keys and left the house.
Carly didn’t have to shop for a black dress for the funeral. After killing Lawrence she had to maintain the charade of a widow in mourning, hence several black outfits in her closet. Today, she was in mourning for real. Going through them, Carly selected a simple yet expensively cut Armani with elbow sleeves.  After dressing, she put on her watch, brushed her hair and sprayed on a little perfume. She thought about Alice yet again, missing her painfully.

Taking hold of her hands, Alice pleaded, ‘Carly; I know you’ve been hurt. You’ve been hurt by people you love. But if you think accepting Victor’s proposal is going to help you get over something... or somebody, then you’re getting married for all the wrong reasons.’
‘Mrs. Horton, I appreciate everything you’re saying to me; I do. But that is not why I’m marrying Victor.’
‘It’s not?’
‘Because I care about him; and I know that he’ll make me very happy.’
‘Oh? Even though you still care about Bo? Wait a minute... now don’t tell me that you’re not and neither do you because I’m not going to believe either of you. All anyone has to do is see you look at each other and see how much in love you still are!’ Alice’s usually mild face was stern. She knows the truth all right, Carly thought. She knows I don’t love Victor. But what else can I do when the man I really love doesn’t want me?

Marcus  was waiting for her in  the living room, well-groomed in a sober black suit. ‘You look beautiful,’ he said, getting up from the  couch.
‘Thanks.’ Carly shook her head. ‘This is really hard.’
‘I know,’ Marcus replied quietly. ‘But in actual fact, we aren’t  just saying goodbye to Mrs. Horton, we’re celebrating her life. And she’ll always be with us Carly, right here.’ He pointed to his heart. ‘Come on, now. I’ll drive.’
Alice Horton’s funeral was held in St. Benedict’s; the old church filled with her family and friends, some dry eyed in a gallant effort to be brave, others openly tearful. Her casket was borne down the aisle to the altar by Bo and Roman Brady, Abe Carver, Mike, Lucas and Nathan Horton; the six men walking at a slow measured pace as the organ music played. They gently placed the casket on the flower bedecked central area of the altar before taking their seats. A large portrait of Alice Horton stood by and the sight of her smiling face drew more tears and quiet sobs. The Hortons and the Bradys occupied the front pews; Hope sitting between Doug and Julie. Bo sat on Julie’s right, Ciara immediately moving from Julie’s lap to his. Roman, Kayla, Kimberly, Shane and Carrie sat with Caroline.
Father Matt began the service, speaking about Alice’s virtues and contributions for ten minutes before Bill Horton took his place to give a eulogy. Except for a slight trembling in his voice, he was in full control of his emotions. Maggie got up to speak, then Alice and Tom’s youngest child and surviving daughter, Marie; Julie, Jennifer who sobbed midway and then Hope. Bo too gave a eulogy, emphasizing  how Alice was a mother to many people in Salem and was always eager to give advice, love and support to anyone. From where she sat, Carly watched Bo, feeling proud of the way he spoke and held himself well. The church choir sang a hymn, afterwards Father Matt led the mourners in prayer for the repose of Alice Horton’s soul. The organ music was played again and the six pallbearers rose to lift the casket, carrying it down the aisle; family and friends slowly walking behind them.
After a brief and final prayer at the cemetery, the mourners placed yellow roses on Alice’s casket and wept silently as it was lowered into the earth. Her final resting place was next to her husband, Dr. Thomas Horton; with whom she was at last reunited forever in the afterlife she always believed in. Hope, Julie and Maggie wept. Ciara pressed her face against Bo’s neck. Jennifer wiped her streaming eyes with a hanky, her brothers consoling her. Marcus held Carly’s fingers tightly.
With so many people gathered at Alice’s house, Bo didn’t get a chance to talk to Carly alone. He’d spotted her at the cemetery and immediately taken aback on seeing  Marcus Hunter with her… and holding hands with her. 
It means nothing, he assured himself. They’re close buddies, almost like brother and sister. Nothing to get worked up about.
Jennifer was delighted to see Carly after so many years. As the two women talked, Bo used the opportunity to talk to Marcus. ‘What a surprise,’ he said, warmly shaking hands with him.
‘It is, isn’t it? Just too bad it happened to be under these circumstances. It still doesn’t seem real to me, Mrs. Horton gone.’
‘I know what you mean. So how have you been and what are you doing in Salem?’
‘I’m great, I just came for a short visit. Carly and I have been catching up. A lot has changed over the years, haven’t they?’
‘In more ways than one.’
‘It must have been a huge shock to everyone when Hope turned up alive.’
‘An understatement old buddy and a very long story. But right now, we’re separated.’
‘I’m sorry to hear that.’ Marcus Hunter’s tone gave nothing away. He saw Bo glancing at Carly as she chatted with Jennifer, the burning look at her direction confirming what Carly told him. He’d seen that same look on Bo’s face many times back in the day after he finally stopped denying his love. He was about to ask Bo a question when Justin walked up to them. ‘Hi Bo. Hey… Marcus! How have you been man, what a surprise.’
To Bo’s astonishment, Marcus made no move to shake Justin’s outstretched hand, his expression hostile. ‘Excuse me, Bo.’ He said, looking Justin straight in the eye, conveying the silent message to him, I know what you did. Aside from Bo and Carly’s break up years back, Frankie also filled Marcus in about Bo and Hope’s separation and the families’ attitude towards Carly, including  Justin’s attempted sabotage. Furious on Carly’s behalf, Marcus wanted to thrash him to a pulp. He’d always thought Justin had none of his uncle’s deviousness but it seemed he did after all.
‘What was that all about?’ Bo demanded after Marcus walked away.
Justin shrugged as nonchalantly as he could, the message received loud and clear. Carly obviously told on him. Damn it, how long is she going to hold a grudge? he thought. He’d gone after Carly after her outburst at Mickey’s wake, wanting to apologize for the incident and for what he said to her but got a harsh slap on the face instead. ‘Search me, Bo.’
Bo frowned. It was not like Marcus at all to act such a way. What could Justin have done that he would be so cold?
‘I tried calling you after reading about Lawrence in the papers,’ Jennifer Horton Deveraux  was saying to Carly, ‘but your secretary told me you were in seclusion.’
‘I needed to get away from the media circus after the assassination.’
‘Of course, I understand. Jack hoped to  get an exclusive though, he was really angry when there was no trace of you. So how does it feel, living in Salem again?’
‘After being the society wife of a ruler and statesman for years, reverting back to  Dr. Carly Manning wasn’t exactly that difficult.’
‘Even with… the changes since you’ve been gone?’ Jennifer asked tentatively, watching her best friend’s face carefully. She knew how Hope felt about Carly but it seemed the rest of the Hortons now had a change of heart towards her.
‘Yes, even with the changes.’ Carly replied coolly. ‘I’m not opening the window of the past, no matter what Hope thinks.’
‘I’m not implying anything, Carly; please don’t be angry with me.’ Jennifer pleaded, squeezing her arm. ‘It’s just that I remember how it was with you and Bo… it must have been hard, coming back here and seeing him again.’
‘It wasn’t hard at all. Before coming back, I figured Bo must have long moved on and anyway, Frankie filled me in on his life since I left. No surprises, no shocks and no regrets. Does that relieve your mind, Jen? If so, you can pass it on to your cousin.’
Jennifer was upset at Carly’s cold tone. ‘Honestly, I wasn’t trying to test you or anything, don’t be that way. You’re very dear to me, if I asked it was because I care about your welfare, nothing else. Now let’s change the subject… how’s Nicky?’
Carly chuckled quietly. ‘He’s fine and after turning 15 prefers “Nicholas”, not “Nicky”. How’s Abby?’
‘She’s great. I have a son too, Jack Jnr. He’s in boarding school.  Dad… you remember Carly Manning, don’t you?’
‘I do.’ Bill Horton shook Carly’s hand,  commiserating with her over Lawrence’s death which he too read about in the papers and Carly felt like screaming out loud that she wasn’t the least bit sorry her bestial husband was dead. She spoke with Laura, whom she only saw once when she came to visit Jennifer at their boarding school and Nathan came up with his mother Melissa and Great Aunt Marie to introduce to her.
Marcus was talking with Kayla Johnson and  asking about Steve; another member of the family to miraculously return from the dead; to his joy as Steve Johnson was his best friend. ‘He’ll be so happy to hear from you,’ Kayla added after giving Marcus Steve’s number.
‘So all that time, Steve was alive.’ Marcus said, amazed after Kayla told him what really happened.
‘Yes, a real miracle for all of us.’
‘My God… how strange life is.’
Kayla’s smile dropped as she saw Carly and Jennifer walk by arm in arm, towards Kimberly and Shane.  ‘Yeah, how.’ She muttered.
 Marcus followed her glance then turned back to Kayla. ‘What do you mean by that?’
‘Look at her. She left my brother high and dry years ago and then she comes back to ruin his marriage. It’s a good thing Hope has our support.’
Marcus stared at her in disbelief and anger. ‘What?
 ‘This is not the Carly Manning you remember,’ Kayla pressed on stubbornly. ‘You should know the reason Bo and Hope’s separation stretched this long is because of her. She’s scheming to get him back but she will realize none of us are going to let her ruin Hope or my brother’s life.’
‘What the hell’s the matter with you?’ Marcus didn’t raise his voice but it was so cold and hard that Kayla shrank back, startled.
‘I know why Carly  came back to Salem and I know her, still know her. Carly Manning is the most wonderful person I know. She has never ruined anybody’s life and will never deliberately hurt anybody. How dare you talk about Carly that way, after all the times she had your back.’ Marcus was very angry, especially as he was privy to Carly’s painful secret and unable to believe Kayla would talk about Carly like that. ‘Hope caused her own problems so she should solve her own problems. You tell her that!’
He walked away, still simmering with anger, Kayla staring after him.
 In his effort to get as far away as possible from Kayla, Marcus almost collided with Justin. ‘Oh.. you again.’
Justin exhaled sharply, his expression rueful. ‘Look, Marcus… I guess Carly  told you what I did.’
‘You’re wrong, it wasn’t Carly who told me. Unlike you, she’s not underhanded.’
‘Look, it was a mistake on my part, alright? I was trying to help Hope out.’
‘Oh… so she put you up to it?’ Marcus snapped. ‘You do know what you tried to do was in fact illegal?’
Justin looked half sulky. ‘ No, Hope had no idea about it and it’s over, Carly got the job in the end, didn’t she?’
‘That is not the point, Justin. Why the hell would you plot against Carly just because Bo’s wife’s  too neurotic to fix her own marriage?’
‘That’s harsh, Marcus.’ Justin murmured.
‘But basically calling Carly a home wrecker isn’t? I should pound you for what you tried to do to Carly.’
Bo happened to walk by, Ciara holding his hand and he caught the tail end of Marcus’ sentence. ‘What… what did he try to do to Carly?’
Justin cursed inwardly.
‘Marcus, what’s going on; what did he do?’ Bo asked adamantly.
Marcus scowled at Justin who refused to meet his eyes. ‘I’d rather your cousin tell you himself, if he can. I have too much respect for Mrs. Horton to make a scene here.’
Ask him, Bo.’ Marcus left  Bo to deal with Justin. While he had no intention of violating Carly’s trust, he wasn’t about to let Justin get away with what he tried to do. And he knew Bo would tear Justin a new one, which was what he deserved.
All in all the day went well, Carly thought as she and Marcus drove back to the loft. The Hortons were cordial to her, much to her relief but Hope coldly walked away  when she tried commemorating with her. Shocked by Hope’s behavior, Maggie had apologized to her but Carly was already too used to Hope’s irrational attitude towards her to care. She was very sorry Shawn Douglas hadn’t been able to get off work in Chicago to come for the funeral, she’d been looking forward to seeing her darling ‘sailor man’ again and meet his wife and daughter. Marcus on the other hand chatted with Shane and Roman and was introduced to Brady, whom he was very delighted  to meet since he had delivered him with Carly and Kayla’s help.
Stepping off the elevator, Carly saw something on her foot mat and groaned.
‘What is it?’ Marcus asked as she bent down to pick it up. Unfolding it she read, ‘For the last time, leave Salem. You’ll be sorry you didn’t listen.’
‘What the hell is this?’ Marcus exclaimed, taking it from her.
‘It’s another anonymous note, this is about the third one.’ Carly said wearily, unlocking her door and sliding it open.
Third one?’ Marcus followed her inside. ‘How long has this been going on? Does Bo know?’
‘Carly! This is a police matter, you can’t keep something like this to yourself.’
‘The writer’s nothing but a worthless coward and I’m not going to let him scare me.’
‘Who might decide writing these isn’t enough and do something worse. Carly,  you can’t risk your life like this, not after what you survived from. Promise me you’ll take these to Bo and Roman, please.’
Carly nodded, not wishing to argue with her friend but had no intention of fulfilling her promise. If Bo knew about the letter, she won’t be able to avoid him at all; he’ll be around her constantly. She saw him looking at her at the funeral, his warm brown eyes fixed on her. She’d turned away, remembering what Marcus had said about her being bad at hiding her feelings. The aloof mask she put on when she returned to Salem hardly worked these days; the saying, Love broke all walls being  more than true.
Maggie came to the loft a few days later, holding a package. ‘Alice’s will was read yesterday. She left you this.’ She said, giving it to Carly. Inside the package was a flat, velvet-lined box and resting in it was a three strand pearl necklace and matching droplet earrings. Carly stared down at the magnificent, incandescent pearls. ‘This is obviously a family heirloom, Maggie, I can’t accept it.’
‘Alice expressively said they’re to go to you.’
‘ I don’t want to benefit from her death.’ Carly protested, closing the box and held it out to Maggie but Maggie gently pushed it back to her. ‘Alice loved you; so please don’t insult her memory by refusing this bequest she left you. They are yours, Carly. Wear them proudly.’
‘I miss her so much, Maggie.’ Carly whispered, sad all over again.
‘We all do. But life has to go on and we must all remember her at her best, it’s what she would’ve wanted.’ Maggie cleared her throat and continued, ‘you know… she talked a lot about you, after Mickey died. She spoke to Julie and me; reminding us of the time you were a big part of our lives and of course Bo and Shawn Douglas’. Alice never used harsh words to reproach us but we all felt so small as we listened to her and we knew she was right. And the rest of us thought about what you said at the wake.’
‘I’m so sorry for that.’
‘No, you were right, so was Alice and I’m really sorry for what you had to put up since you came back. And Hope’s angry and confused right now, so please don’t judge her harshly. She’s actually a loving and loyal person.’
‘I’ll bear that in mind.’ Carly replied quietly. ‘Thank you, Maggie.’
Maggie kissed her on the cheek and took her leave.
Bo entered the house in time to see Jennifer staring down at something she was holding. ‘Jennifer, those are private! How dare you?’ He shouted, hurrying up to snatch the divorce papers from her.
‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry… I was looking for a notepad and I found them, I didn’t mean to snoop, honest.’ Jennifer said hastily.
Bo glared at her. ‘Yeah… right.’
‘But Hope never mentioned she was filing for a divorce.’
‘That’s because I’m the one filing, not her.’
Jennifer was shocked. ‘Why?’
‘Are you seriously asking me that question?’ Bo asked incredulously.
‘As a matter of fact, yes… I’m asking! Bo, you love Hope and she loves you. Surely you can work things out and not take a drastic step you’re going to regret later.’
‘The hell I will. This is not a drastic step like you call it. I’m done, I want out.’
‘So … you were planning on ambushing Hope with divorce papers? At this time?’ Jennifer accused.
‘I’m not heartless, Jen, of course not.’ Bo put them back in the drawer, closing it. ‘I know it’s a difficult time for Hope so I’m going to wait a while before I talk to her about it.’
‘But Bo, she’ll be devastated, she loves you very much. Please reconsider this.’
Bo’s stern expression told her he wasn’t planning to. ‘This is wrong.’
‘It’s the best thing to do. And I don’t want you telling her.’
‘Like hell I won’t …’ Jennifer began hotly.
‘You will not.’ Bo snapped back angrily. ‘Because this is none of your business.’
Painfully, Jennifer held her peace. Hope had her faults but she loved Bo with all her heart, he was her soul mate. They belonged together and eventually Bo would realize that and change his mind. 

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