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Monday, October 05, 2015


Bo woke up when the early morning sun shone against his face, making him blink. The room was filled with golden light and as sleepiness wore off, he remembered where he was; Carly’s lake house, miles away from Salem. She was asleep, her face relaxed. At the hospital she told him there were nights she couldn’t sleep because of haunting nightmares. But last night was uneventful; she’d lain in his arms peacefully. It was just like he told her over dinner; they were connected in several ways and he liked to think that she drew therapeutic strength from him. Accustomed to waking her up with kisses and caresses to arouse her when they lived on the boat; it took a bit of effort to curb himself. He had to think of her emotional well-being and not his libido. So instead, he kissed her on the forehead and gently got out of bed, wanting her to sleep longer.
A quick shower later, he dressed and went downstairs. It was quite a sunny morning and quiet except for a few birds singing and the soft splashing sound of the lake behind the house. It’s really beautiful here, Bo thought again, taking out what he forgot to bring in last night from the car. They’ll spend lots of weekends here together from now on, maybe bring Ciara along. Bo hid the items behind the kitchen door before raiding the well-stocked fridge- yet another modern appliance they didn’t have at their cabin- to fix breakfast.
Carly came down eventually in a pink bathrobe, walking to hug Bo from behind as he was busy at the stove. He turned immediately to pull her against him, kissing her deeply. ‘’Morning, Sleeping Beauty.  You looked so peaceful; I didn’t want to wake you.’
‘Good morning,’ Carly smiled faintly, looking over his shoulder at what was cooking on the stove. ‘Need a hand with that?’
‘Oh no; you sit over there and let me be your chef, go on.’ He maneuvered her to the kitchen table and in a few minutes served them both scrambled eggs and sausages. Carly was more than willing to bring Ciara along when they came over for weekends, when Bo mentioned it. ‘Of course I’d love to have her here.’
‘Are you sure it won’t be… hard for you?’
Carly immediately knew what Bo was referring to. ‘No. I really want to get to know Ciara. I won’t let the past stop me from having a relationship with her. She’s a part of you, just like Shawn Douglas is and I got to share him with you. I want it to be that way with Ciara too, if she’ll let me.’
‘She will,’ Bo assured her.
After breakfast, Carly unwrapped her present, a fishing pole. ‘The deluxe of fishing poles and I got one for myself too.’ Bo said.
‘The long awaited fishing rematch, huh?’ Carly said dryly.
‘Of course! You got that big lake behind this house and I intend to finally win.’
‘Well, don’t burn our catch this time! What’s the point of getting seven fishes and I ended up not tasting any?’
Bo gave her a mock glare as his reply.  
The caretaker, who Carly retained to look after the place when she wasn’t around, came in his truck to bring Carly an apple pie his wife made for her and was introduced to Bo. Jim nodded affably to Bo, pleased to see Carly had company for once. He and his wife long felt Carly must be very lonely at the house by herself; as the previous owner always brought his children and grandchildren along. After inviting them to a family barbecue at his ranch, he took his leave.
Later, Bo and Carly walked down the jetty to catch some fish. ‘I’d sort of miss my homemade contraption though,’ Carly teased.
Bo rolled his eyes. ‘Yeah… the instrument of my humiliation. It still beats me how you were able to catch even one with that thing.’
‘Ingenuity and good luck, my love.’ Carly said, skillfully securing her line.
It turned out not a victory for either of them but a draw; between them they caught four fairly big trout. But what they enjoyed more was each other’s company in the tranquil setting. And it was a perfect time for what Bo wanted to do. Taking Carly’s left hand, he removed the pave-diamond wedding ring he once resented and now hated with a vengeance, off her finger. ‘You don’t need to hide behind this anymore.’ With a strong arm, Bo viciously threw it into the middle of the lake. Pulling a small box from his back pocket, he opened it and Carly’s eyes filled with tears at the beautiful solitaire emerald surrounded by tiny diamonds, unable to speak. Bo took her hand and slid the ring onto her finger; before kissing her. They needed no words.
Nicholas chatted with Carly via Skype to look in on her, like he did during her recuperation at the hospital. Bo still felt rather antagonistic towards the young man, yet to really believe Nicholas truly didn’t have a clue of what went on all those years. But for Carly’s sake, he forced himself to be civil when Carly called him over to her side to say hello.
‘Congratulations Mum.’ He smiled as Carly held up her hand for him to see the ring. ‘And congratulations Bo, I’m so happy for you guys. By the way, Commissioner of Police? What do your officers say about your Harley?’
 ‘My biker/Harley days are long gone.’ Bo said dryly.
‘Yeah, right; I find that hard to believe. Mum, I’m so sorry I wasn’t able to come over but I honestly can’t get away right now. Are you sure you’re completely alright?’
‘I’m fine now, honey; really; I was treated by great doctors and Bo’s been taking great care of me.’
‘Well, I’ll be in Salem once I wrap things up here. Love you Mum. See you, Bo.’
The remaining time they spent at the lake house was idyllic. They went on hikes, had picnic lunches, did more fishing and explored the small town, where Bo got to meet some of the other residents who knew Carly. But on their last night; Carly woke up from a nightmare screaming and Bo held her in his arms, whispering soothing words to her.
‘Just breathe, concentrate on the sound of my voice princess,’ he said, rubbing her back as she sobbed against his neck.
‘I’m sorry…’ she clung to him.
‘Don’t apologize, it’s okay.’ He said, kissing her brow.
‘Will this ever end sailor?’
‘It will princess, eventually. Give it time. Time heals…so does love. And you got that, lots of it.’ Bo said softly. ‘You want me to get you anything?’
‘No… no, just hold me.’ Carly nestled closer against him. ‘I love you.’
‘I love you too, princess.’ Bo kissed her brow again. ‘Just relax and close your eyes ; go back to sleep.’
‘Talk to me… talk to me about anything.’
‘Okay,’ his arms still round her, Bo settled back against the pillows and began reminiscing about their time in Chichén Itza; especially the tender moment he proposed to her at the Mayan Ball court and when they pledged their love to each other on top of El Castillo. Carly smiled, her hand rubbing his chest. ‘Can we go there for our honeymoon?’
‘Sure, whatever you want. But we’ll have to wait a while to get married then. We’ve got work to make up for in the meantime, remember?’
Carly sighed wistfully. ‘I wish we could stay here longer.’ She rubbed his chest again, fingering the familiar old medallion. ‘It’s been heavenly; the two of us alone like this.’
‘I know what you mean, it’s like been on the boat again; just us and the sound of the water.’ Bo stroked her hair. ‘Don’t worry princess; we’re going to spend more time here whenever we can.’
 ‘What are things going to be like when we get home? It’s one thing for the family to apologize to me but us engaged now, will they accept that? I guess Roman might but what about everyone else?’
‘I guess it’s pretty poor form they changed their minds about you after hearing about what Larry did.’
‘Sort of. I want to say that I understand but it still hurts they thought about me that way, that I would actually connive to hurt you and Hope, just because Billie did.’
‘I’m really sorry about that. It wasn’t fair you of all people had to pay for what she did. But they’ve realized they were wrong and what’s really important, what we feel about each other. Hope’s already accepted the situation and taken responsibility.’
Carly raised her head. ‘And you honestly wouldn’t mind her moving on with someone else too?’
‘Come on, Carly; why would I mind? I thought we’ve long gotten past this.’
‘I’m sorry, it’s just that your life these past years were far better than mine, even with the problems you had now and then. Frankie was the one who told me about Hope coming back, while I was recovering. He wasn’t trying to make me feel bad; he just wanted to prepare me when I said I wanted to move back to Salem. The whole time I was in that nursing home, I looked back on how I allowed myself to be swept away by Lawrence again and what a fool I was. And I thought about you and what you must have thought of me, probably hated me…’
‘I never hated you, not for a second.’ Bo said vehemently. ‘I won’t lie though; it hurt me a lot when we broke up.  And I felt it was best if I just moved on instead of dwelling on the memories of us, what we weren’t able to have or what might have been. I hope you understand.’
‘I do.’ Carly touched his face. ‘Anyway… even with the changes I was determined to come back. When I saw you that night at The Java, what I knew I still felt for you all came rushing back. And I thought, just as well you were married; I won’t have to tell you what happened. It was enough just to see you sometimes and… keep loving you without you ever knowing.’
‘Damn it,’ Bo said, feeling angry and remorseful all over again. He shifted to his side, facing her. ‘I love you, Carly; you. I’m right where I want to be and there’s no way I’ll ever let you go again, ever. Don’t ever think for a second I’ll ever leave you. More than ever, I know I want to be with you for the rest of my life… because we belong together.’
Without a word, Carly kissed him, wrapping her arms round his neck. They lay nestled against each other until they fell asleep again.
For Carly’s sake, the Bradys and the Hortons all agreed with Bo and Roman not to speak of Carly’s abuse beyond their town, in case the press caught wind of it. Jennifer especially promised not to write anything about it or tell Jack; he would be adamant about making Lawrence’s abuse public. Shawn Douglas was appalled when Bo told him the whole story via Skype; shedding angry tears. Bo moved aside for Carly to talk to him and the two shared an emotional reunion, placing their hands on the screen. Like Bo, Shawn Douglas found it very hard to believe Nicholas didn’t know about his father’s abuse until the fateful day he found them in the cellar. But not wanting to argue with Carly, he congratulated her and his father on their engagement; promising to come over with Belle and Claire for the wedding after they fixed the date.
Hope found it very hard to face Carly, remorseful and embarrassed after everything she accused her of but was determined to put up a brave front. She went over to see Carly at the hospital, finding her in her office. After awkwardly but sincerely apologizing to Carly, Hope added soberly, ‘With all I was throwing at you, you were keeping such a terrible secret. I can’t imagine what you must feel about me.’
‘The only thing I ever wanted was for you to believe I didn’t come back to Salem to ruin your marriage.’ Carly said quietly.
‘I think deep down I knew you were innocent, but I guess my jealousy and paranoia as you called it refused to let me admit it. I did everything except do the right thing, accept responsibility when I should have. And you warned me but I was too angry and stubborn to listen to you, or anyone else for that matter.’ Hope replied. ‘I feel so stupid for accusing you for something that was actually my fault. I’m so sorry Carly, for everything… my attitude and my God… what that man did to you.’
‘It’s all in the past now.’
Hope saw the emerald engagement ring on Carly’s finger but couldn’t bring herself to congratulate her. Instead she swallowed painfully and said, ‘I have to go now. Take care.’
Carly watch her leave in silence.
Since she was yet to return to Salem, Marlena had scheduled sessions with Carly via Skype, with Bo present at Carly’s request. In addition, Marlena recommended an abused women support group; giving Carly the address. Sharing in front of strangers was very hard at first but as Carly kept attending the group’s meetings, she felt the burden slowly lifting from her shoulders and found herself sleeping better.
Bo, now living in the loft with her observed Carly seemed to be doing better. All the same, he kept the promise he made to her. No passionate spontaneity with her or touching her intimately when they lay against each other in bed. Not being able to make love was hard on both of them but Bo refused to let Carly feel guilty about it. Like he said, they were connected on many different levels and even though they were yet to make love, the reunited couple never felt closer. In their spare time, they went on outings, sometimes alone and sometimes with Ciara whose presence cheered up Carly considerably. The little girl brought Carly further out of her shell and Bo was very glad to see Carly smiling over his daughter, her green eyes warm and lustrous again.
One evening, as they lay together side by side, Carly turned to Bo. Having thought long and hard, she made a decision. She wasn’t going to let sheer fear or the memory of Lawrence come between her and the man she loved any longer. Bo has been more than kind and patient; the least she could do was make an effort. So she moved over, kissing him deeply on the mouth. Bo was surprised but returned the kiss, wrapping his arms round her before pulling back, his expression inquiring.
‘Let’s try, Bo.’ Carly whispered, stroking his cheek.  
‘Princess, you’re not ready.  You don’t have to feel obligated, we have an agreement. The last thing I want is to do anything to scare you.’ Bo protested.
‘If I don’t conquer this one step at a time, I may never be ready. I really want to try.’
Bo stared at her, running his fingers through her hair. ‘If you’re sure.’
‘I am.’ Was Carly’s firm answer.
‘Okay.’ He pulled her down, exchanging a heated passionate kiss, freeing her mouth to softly kiss down her neck, before gently rolling her onto her back.
‘Could you turn off the light?’ she requested softly as he lifted the hem of her tank top. ‘Just for tonight.’
Bo guessed she didn’t want him to see her scars. He wanted to say it didn’t matter to him, which was true but to make her feel comfortable; he turned off the table lamp. Brushing her soft lower lip with his thumb Bo kissed her again, savoring her eager response; feeling her hands run down his shoulders and back. In the dark, he pulled the tank top over her head and tossed it aside. Carly wrapped her arms round him, sheer heated pleasure flowing through her as she felt the familiar hard body against hers, her hands moving down to caress his hair roughened chest.  Leaning down he gently caressed her breasts, feeling her tremble but not with fear; brushing the hardened peaks with his lips before taking them into his mouth. Carly arched against him, her hands gripping his shoulders, tiny cries coming from her.
Bo moved down her body, tracing and kissing the scars on her stomach. But when his hand moved between her thighs, he felt her stiffen but she didn’t push him away. Bo could feel her staring up at  him.
‘He’s not here,’ Bo said softly, stroking her hair. ‘It’s just you and me, princess. Just us.’
‘Okay,’ she whispered back, parting her legs. Bo greatly longed to be inside her but instinct told him she may not be ready to go that far. Instead he peeled off her panties and stroked her, bending his head into the crevice between her thighs. Carly gasped, whispering his name pleadingly as Bo sensually and ardently consumed her, her nails digging into his shoulders. Finally her release came and she shuddered, panting.
Bo kissed his way back up, cradling her trembling body against him. His own need was unsatisfied but for now, it was all her.
One step at a time

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