Monday, October 26, 2015


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

NEWSLETTER: Trick or Read! 13 haunting books to get you ready for Halloween

13 titles that are sure to get you in the mood for Halloween. Can't See the Images? View as a Webpage

Random House

Books That Go Bump in the Night

From cryptic and creepy to haunting yet hilarious, these titles are sure to get you in the mood for All Hallows’ Eve.

Read the whole list on Random House Books

Tricks & treats from Janet Evanovich

Tricky Twenty-Two

When Doug Linken is gunned down in his backyard, it’s good riddance, and the list of possible murder suspects is long. The only people who care about finding Linken’s killer are Trenton cop Joe Morelli, who has been assigned the case; security expert Ranger, who was hired to protect Linken; and Stephanie, who has her eye on a cash prize and hopefully some tricks up her sleeve. Get ready for a roller coaster of thrills, tricks, and laughs in this new Stephanie Plum novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich.

Haunted houses, psychological thrills and ghost stories from David Mitchell, Dean Koontz, Brendan Duffy, Julia Heaberlin and others!
Slade House
Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.

House of Echoes
When Ben Tierney inherits land in the village of Swannhaven, in a remote corner of upstate New York, his family believes it’s just the break they need, and they leave behind all they know to restore a sprawling estate. But as Ben uncovers Swannhaven’s chilling secrets and Charlie ventures deeper into the surrounding forest, strange things begin to happen. The Tierneys realize that their new home isn’t the fresh start they needed . . . and that the village’s haunting saga is far from over.
Final Hour (Novella)
Just by touching others, Makani Hisoka-O’Brien can see the darkest secrets they keep. The troubling talent has made the Southern California surfer wary of casual contact. But while impulsively saving a stranger from an accident, she experiences her most disturbing vision.

Black-Eyed Susans
I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories. I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans. The lucky one.

Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Bo insisted on being the one to break it to Melanie. And Melanie, like Bo rightly surmised, hit the roof; stubbornly refusing believe what he told her until she and Max were given  photocopied entries of Lawrence’s diaries, the documented statement from his lawyer and most importantly, the DNA results; which they went through carefully. When she was done, Melanie sat in her chair; looking stunned, so was Max.
‘I… I don’t know what to say. Max…’ Melanie turned to him.
‘It doesn’t make any difference to me Mel, it doesn’t!’ Max assured her, tears in his eyes. ‘You’re still family, always.’
Melanie squeezed his hand before finally stared up at Bo, as though seeing him with new eyes. Trent Robbins, the man who heartlessly pimped her out, who abused Max as a child; was not her father. Bo Brady, tough yet kind and protective; was her father and Carly Manning, the woman who practically brought her and Nathan together… her mother.  Which meant Phillip was her uncle. That was even harder to swallow, considering her past with him. And yet… it didn’t seem important. 
  ‘Bo… I mean… oh dear God,’ she covered her mouth with her hand, tears springing from her eyes she got up. Bo enveloped her in his arms, pressing his cheek against hers, his own tears creeping from his eyes as Melanie clung to him.  
Melanie pulled away slightly to touch his face tentatively, sniffling. Bo stroked her hair; for the first time realizing Melanie had Carly’s vivid green eyes. How could he not have noticed there was something familiar about the hot headed girl the whole time she was living in Salem? The hot temper was no doubt from him and her fiery independent spirit came from Carly. Their child was a living reality.
‘Dad,’ she whispered, savoring the word.
Smiling through his tears, Bo kissed her on the forehead. ‘Right now, all I can say is how glad I am you’re my daughter, sweetheart.’
‘Hothead and all?’ Melanie asked, smiling back; overwhelmed but so happy.
‘You already know from past experience I’m a lot worse.’ They laughed, hugging each other close. Max joined them and Melanie hugged him too. ‘You’re still my brother, Max. And brother-in-law, once you and Chelsea make it official.’
Max smiled faintly, subdued by the big reveal but happy for Melanie all the same. For a very long time she’d carried bitterness towards Trent for prostituting her to men, struggling to overcome her unhappy past. Now she was given this unexpected gift of parents and a large family; of which he was a part of. She may not be his flesh and blood but will always be a huge part of his life.
‘So that means Shawn D and Nicholas are my brothers, Chelsea and Ciara my sisters, Brady, my cousin.’  
‘That’s right.’
‘And… Carly’s my Mum.’ Melanie’s voice broke, ashamed of the memory of their first encounter.
‘You got to know Carly once you realized you were wrong about her, Mel.’ Max said quickly. ‘Don’t beat yourself up over what happened before.’
‘Max is right,’ Bo agreed. ‘That’s all in the past.’
Melanie shook her head in wonder. ‘Lawrence Alamain tried to kill me and this woman Vivian wanted to let Mum keep believing I was dead. Why would she do a thing like that?’
‘Because she’s a vicious old bitch.’ Bo said coldly. ‘The same reason she made Carly believe Nick was stillborn and passed him of as her adopted son; she wanted Carly to suffer. According to her years ago, Carly broke her precious Larry’s  heart when she left him and finding out I got her pregnant after she decided to go back to him was a betrayal; a betrayal that deserved to be punished.’
Melanie shuddered, biting her lower lip. ‘Carly’s everything good and decent. For anyone to deliberately cause her so much pain like that, that’s just sick and cruel. I’m glad that bastard’s dead, I hope he’s burning in hell right now for what he did to Mum, to the three of us.’
‘I’m sure he is right now.’ Bo said, Max nodding vigorously.
Max suddenly turned to Bo. ‘Does Carly know?’
‘She doesn’t. I wanted to make absolutely sure and tell you and Melanie first. Shawn Douglas knows though and probably telling Chelsea as we speak. Once we tell Carly, we’ll tell the family.’
‘Let’s go tell her now.’ Melanie pleaded, very anxious to hug Carly.
Bo gently broke the news to Carly and her reaction was disbelief then shock at the revelation their baby actually survived and who their daughter was. Melanie ran into her arms and the two women shared a heartfelt hug, crying.
‘Mum… Mum…’ Melanie kept saying in between sobs. ‘I’m so sorry for what you went through.’
‘The past’s the past,’ Carly whispered, drinking in the sight of the child she mourned for years and now held in her arms. ‘And now I have you right here with me; my daughter… my little girl. Our little girl, Bo…’ she stretched out her hand to him and Bo went to them, kissing her and then Melanie before enveloping them both in his arms in silent family communion for several minutes; more than grateful for the miracle given to them.
The Bradys and the Hortons’ reaction that Melanie was Bo and Carly’s daughter couldn’t be described. Nathan especially was shocked at the sudden revelation but more than delighted to have Carly and Bo as his parents in law.  After getting over the shock his best friend was actually his cousin, Brady joined the others in accepting her as one of their own. John couldn’t help pointing out the sheer coincidence; Shawn Douglas and Ciara were both Brady and Horton, Melanie ended up having their status by being a Brady married to a Horton. Shawn Douglas, Chelsea and Ciara too were happy to have another sibling in their midst; willingly adding Nicholas to their circle. Marcus was overjoyed at the news when Carly called him in New York to tell him.
Hope had no choice but to accept the situation but Victor found it very hard to; as Melanie almost married Phillip and he had blamed Carly for Melanie’s defection. Now it turned out to be a blessing in disguise that they never got married after all but Victor, who was never good at apologizing; kept his distance. It didn’t bother Melanie one bit; she never liked Victor. The fact he was her grandfather didn’t mean they had to be close.
On the night of the rehearsal dinner, the family; at Caroline’s request; had a Thanksgiving Mass in church.
Carly turned to smile at Bo as he joined her on the roof. ‘Tomorrow’s the big day. You should be in bed.’ he said, covering her shoulders with a plaid shawl.
‘I couldn’t sleep. I can’t stop thinking over how in a short time, our happiness got doubled. It still seems like a dream to me, Bo; our little girl alive and right here with us the whole time. For years I grieved over our baby, wondering if it was a boy or a girl and what might have been. And now… this miracle.’
Bo wrapped his arms round Carly from behind. ‘Fate’s really been kind to us this time.’
‘Before this came up, I worried sometimes Fate might pull another nasty surprise on us after we’ve been so happy. I know it’s crazy and wrong to be so negative but you understand, right?’
‘After what you went through? Of course I understand you being scared.’ Bo pressed his lips against the side of her neck. ‘But I really feel it’s going to be okay from now on, Carly. I believe it. And you should too.’
He turned round in his arms; the moon light illuminating her face as she looked up at him. ‘When we first met years ago, I was so unhappy and lost. I thought love brought so much pain and I was afraid of loving you. But you kept me from sliding further into that dark place; just by loving me. When you left, I never thought I would ever see you again. We shouldn’t question fate anymore, princess. The fact that fate brought Melanie to Salem and then you back into my life, during a very difficult time; proves that we’ll never lose each other again. We’ll never be apart again.’ Bo ran his fingers over her face. ‘Remember the night we made up after I found out the truth about Lisanne Gardner’s death? And we drove up that hill? I made you a promise.’
Carly was silent, her mind going back that night. She smiled. ‘You said, “Our love story’s never going to end.”’
‘It’s never going to end.’ Bo vowed. ‘I love you Carly, we’ll never be apart ever again.’
A passionate kiss followed, sealing his vow.
(Carly's dress)
Carly’s wedding dress was of a 1800s inspired style; short sleeves and made from lace, embroidered with sliver and floor length, molding her figure. With it, she wore the three strand pearl necklace and droplet earrings Alice Horton bequeathed to her. Her curled hair spotted a hand beaded flower wedding comb and on her wrist, a white gold bracelet.
Belle carefully applied makeup on Carly’s face; nodding her head in satisfaction when she was done. ‘You’re all set now.’ She said.
Carly looked at her reflection in the mirror, seeing a glowing, radiant bride looking back at her; more than ready to be joined in matrimony. ‘Thanks Belle.’ She said.
‘I’ll go see if the limo’s here.’ Belle left the room.
Melanie put her arms round Carly from behind. ‘You look so beautiful, Mum.’
Carly smiled, patting Melanie’s hand. ‘I’m marrying the man I’ve loved for so long and my daughter’s here to witness it. What could be more wonderful? I’m so blessed Mel. I have you; I have your father and the family… everything I thought I lost when I made such a terrible mistake.’
‘Now, now… none of that talk on your wedding day,’ Melanie said briskly, straightening up. ‘You were a victim, so was Dad. And today’s the start of your new life, new memories.’
‘You’re right.’
Belle came back into the room, followed by Frankie. ‘The limo’s downstairs. Let’s get you married.’
Carly got up from the chair and Melanie passed the wedding bouquet over to her. ‘You look beautiful, sis.’ Frankie said, carefully kissing her on the cheek so not to ruin her makeup.
‘Thank you.’ Carly touched his face. ‘Thank you so much for being there for me, you and Nicholas.’
Frankie’s smile was of deep affection. ‘What else could we do otherwise? You deserve all the happiness in the world and I’m glad I was able to do what I could. Come on now, Bo’s waiting for you.’
‘Yes, let’s go.’ Carly enthused, filled with joyful anticipation as the four of them left the loft.
The ceremony was to be held on the upper deck of The Blue Pearl. Chairs were arranged on either side of the carpeted aisle; and at the end, a flower bedecked arch. As soon as Carly arrived, the boat was to immediately put out to sea and the ceremony will begin.
Sami’s younger son, Johnny was the ring bearer and Ciara and Claire flower girls, the two looking lovely in their pink chiffon dresses, holding their baskets as they waited with Caroline and the others on the lower deck.  
‘Do I look okay?’ Bo asked anxiously, adjusting his silver grey tie for the umpteenth time. Roman sighed in exasperation and straightened it yet again.
‘If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times, you look great.  By the way, touch that damned tie one more time; I'll toss you into the ocean.’
Shawn Douglas and Nicholas, the groomsmen; laughed. ‘Chill out Papa, you’re going to be a nervous wreck before the ceremony starts.’
Bo paced, devastatingly handsome in his dark suit; a  small white gardenia boutonniere  in his lapel.  ‘I can’t help it, Shawn D; I’m so anxious to marry Carly.’
‘Yeah, we know.’ Roman rolled his eyes. ‘And in a few minutes, you’re going to so stop with the pacing and try and calm down.’
With effort, Bo did what he told. From the moment he realized he’d fallen in love with Carly again, he dreamt of this moment; when they’ll finally belong together and call her his wife. The few minutes Roman described felt like hours… where is she?
‘I understand how you feel though,’ Nicholas said as they stood waiting together, Shawn Douglas chatting with his uncle. ‘If it wasn’t for Vivian and Lawrence, you would’ve been married years ago. I’m really happy you and my mother have this day.’
Bo nodded, patting Nicholas on the shoulder. ‘Thanks, Nick. I really appreciate it.’
‘I also want to apologize again, for the way I behaved years ago… driving a wedge between you and Mum,’ Nicholas went on, ashamed. ‘Looking back, I despise myself for it; causing trouble between you and Mum like that. She so wanted to make up for the lost years and I took advantage of it. I was no better than my father.’
‘You’re nothing like your father.’ Bo corrected him. ‘You love your mother, you went out of your way to make things right and thanks to you and Frankie, we found out who our daughter is. Lawrence would only do a thing like that if he wanted something else in return. You turned out great and I thank you for what you did for us. You’re Carly’s son and from on, I regard you mine.’
Moved, Nicholas exchanged a hug with his soon to be stepfather; feeling the guilt of his past behavior fading away.
The boat suddenly began to move and people started climbing up the stairs to the upper deck to take their seats. Carly has arrived.
Flustered but eager, Bo took his place at the arch; waiting; Roman, Shawn Douglas and Nicholas with him.
After an agonizing five minutes,  Ciara and Claire appeared, walking down the aisle scattering petals from their baskets. Johnny came next, holding the large satin pillow bearing the white gold rings. Then came Melanie, closely followed by Belle; the two young women in matching cream dresses. And finally the bride and everyone rose to their feet.
The live orchestra, instead of the traditional wedding march; played (at Bo’s request) an instrumental version of a song they danced to on their date; “I’ll Be” by Ed Mcbain. The tune was soulful and beautiful and Bo felt the lyrics summed up what he felt about Carly.

The strands in your eyes that color them wonderful
Stop me and steal my breath.
And emeralds from mountains thrust towards the sky
Never revealing their depth.
Tell me that we belong together,
Dress it up with the trappings of love.
I'll be captivated,
I'll hang from your lips,
Instead of the gallows of heartache that hang from above.
And I'll be your crying shoulder,
I'll be love's suicide
I'll be better when I'm older,
I'll be the greatest fan of your life.

Carly looked like she’d stepped from the cover of a historical novel; she looked beautiful and angelic, her radiant eyes fixed only on him as she walked down the aisle on her brother’s arm. Bo smiled at her, loving her so much and grateful this day had finally arrived. Carly stared up at him, love and joy all over her face. Frankie handed her over to Bo; who immediately took her hand, squeezing it. Everyone sat down.  
The minister began, ‘Dearly beloved, we’re gathered here on this joyous occasion to witness these two people joined in holy matrimony. As we all know, marriage is a sacred institution that must not be taken lightly. Do you both have your vows?’
‘Yes, we do.’ Bo turned to face Carly. ‘Carly, there are many words I can describe  how much I love you and they still won’t be enough. Because my love for you can’t be expressed by just words. You are my everything and you complete me. I promise to always love, honor and protect you. I promise to be faithful, patient and understanding. Above all, I’ll always be by your side, through thick and thin. I love you, princess.’
The women wiped their eyes discreetly. The minister turned to Carly. ‘Carly.’
Carly hoped she would get through her vows without crying, deeply touched by Bo’s heartfelt words. ‘Like you, I don’t have enough words to express how much I love you and what you mean to me. You’re the love of my life, my protector and my best friend; oh… and you complete me too.’ Her voice shook. ‘When two people are in love like we are, they aren’t separate individuals; they are one person. I promise, above all else, to live in truth with you. I promise that I will always walk with you… hand in hand, through thick and thin.’ She sniffled, forcing the tears back. ‘I love you, sailor. So much.’
‘Now, Bo Aurelius Brady; do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?’
‘I do.’ Bo said, his eyes on Carly’s face.
‘And do you, Carly Manning; take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?’
‘I do.’
‘May we have the rings please?’
Johnny moved closer to the couple, holding the cushion up. Bo took the smaller of the rings. ‘Carly, with this ring; I take you as my wife.’ He said softly; feeling the proudest of men as he slid the ring onto her finger.
Carly took the other ring, aware her hand was trembling. ‘Bo, with this ring, I take you as my… my husband.’ Managing to hold her hand steady, she slid the ring onto his finger.
‘You both have made your declarations before God and by the powers vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may now kiss the bride.’

Everyone rose to a round of thunderous applause as Bo and Carly exchanged their first kiss as Mr. and Mrs. Brady. 

Monday, October 12, 2015


‘This one’s from...’ Melanie checked the card carefully before handing it over to Carly, ‘Maxine.’
Carly unwrapped the box, smiling at Maxine’s gift; scented candles and small bottles of massage oil. ‘Obviously for use on the wedding night,’ the plump, motherly Head Nurse said, winking. The other women present laughed.
‘Thank you, Maxine. I love them.’ Carly assured her, exchanging a hug with her. ‘And I’ll definitely put them to good use.’
That brought loud and knowing hoots and Melanie, struggling to overcome her giggles, passed another wrapped box to Carly. ‘Now this one’s from… Chloe.’
Chloe, now heavy, shifted her back more comfortably on the cushioned arm chair. ‘It’s totally unconventional as gifts go but I figured you might get a kick out of it.’
Very curious, Carly unwrapped it and everyone yelled with laughter at the item. ‘Unconventional is right!’ Adrienne exclaimed, almost choking on her drink.
‘Oh…my God,’ Carly shook her head, laughing; running her hand over the black and red box, labeled XXXopoly.
‘What… what’s better to spice things up with your spouse than an adult board game?’ Chloe insisted. ‘Naughty but fun.’
Carly read from the back: ‘The game box contains board, dice, game pieces, money, sexual space cards, “Hot & Heavy” cards, Erotic chest cards and Time chips. Hmm…’
‘In the course of the game there will be many erotic activities such as massaging, licking…’
‘Ahem… I should like to point out that the mother; daughter, daughter in law and the sisters of the groom are present!’ Kayla raised her hand before Chloe could go on, making the women laugh again. Caroline was already blushing red.
‘Okay, I’m done.’ Chloe pretended to zip her mouth, her intensely blue eyes gleaming with mischief.
Making a mental note to buy the board game on Amazon, Melanie picked up the next box from the high pile of gifts. She had insisted on throwing Carly a wedding shower, refusing to listen to the bride’s protests that she didn’t need one. Present beside the Brady women- which also included Marlena, Chelsea, Sami and Belle- were Maxine, Lexie, Jennifer, Chloe, Maggie and Adrienne. Melanie had hesitantly invited Maggie and Julie as well, not sure if they would want to come. But Julie had to leave town with Doug at the last minute, but she sent her present; a box of beautiful china. And Maggie, while feeling slightly guilty over Hope, came because she was genuinely happy for Carly and Alice would have wanted her to. Besides, why should Carly be held accountable for something she had no hand in? Maggie vividly remembered Carly’s warning to Hope, a warning Hope ignored; despite everyone’s urging she squared things with Bo. That and the story of Carly’s traumatic past; no one had the right to criticize her or Bo.
As Carly opened more presents, surrounded by her old and new friends, she couldn’t help but think how things were so different. She was longer the embittered, broken woman of last year and was friends with Caroline and Kayla again.  The two women were more than repentant and did all they could in many ways to make up for their past unkindness, even though she’d long forgiven them. The wedding was in a week’s time and she was excited about it. Bo  adamantly refused to have a quick wedding at City Hall or elope when she suggested it. Their wedding wasn’t going to be a secret or a quick quiet affair as if they had anything to be ashamed of; it was going to be done the way she deserved, with family and friends. When he asked her where she would like to be married, Carly immediately knew where- The Blue Pearl; the floating restaurant Bo took her on their date. It was wide and big enough to hold the ceremony in and have the reception afterwards. ‘I lived with you on a boat; I might as well marry you on one.’ She added. ‘And exchanging vows at sea will somehow make it more memorable.’
Marrying you’s going to be memorable, no matter where we do it,’ was his tender reply before kissing her.
Victor wasn’t invited, by mutual agreement. Bo was still very angry with him and Carly didn’t want to see Victor’s cold eyes watching them as they exchanged their vows, marring the happy day entirely. Carly was also disinclined to invite Justin as well, yet to forgive him. As Adrienne was separated from Justin and ashamed of him for what he tried to do to Carly, didn’t protest when Carly said she didn’t want Justin at the wedding. However after much persuasion from Carly, Bo finally forgave Caroline. 
Caroline’s gift was next and Carly was touched by it; a large Wedding Anniversary Photo Album. ‘Thank you Caroline.’
‘And I hope you’ll get to store several years’ worth of wedding anniversaries in it.’ Caroline smiled and Carly smiled back; seeing the warm sincerity in the older woman’s eyes.
Kayla’s was equally touching and Carly felt tears creep from her eyes as she held it in her hands, a leather bound illustrated first edition of Alice in Wonderland. ‘I remember Bo saying it was your favorite book when you were a little girl,’ Kayla explained, wiping her own eyes after she and Carly exchanged a tight hug. From Kimberly, Sami, Marlena, Adrienne and Lexie; lingerie made from sheer lace specially designed to appeal to a man’s sexual fantasies. Carly’s favorite was a short cream lace nightie, wondering whether to save it for the wedding night or ‘model’ it for Bo when he got back from his Stag party with the men.
From Jennifer was what she called a “Cuddle Kit”; a gift basket containing a fuzzy blue and white blanket, a bottle of expensive champagne, gourmet chocolates and an Andrea Bocelli CD. Belle got Carly a plush white robe, from Chelsea a personalized makeup bag and Melanie, the matron of honor; a pair of ornate silver photo frames. Carly thanked everyone for their generosity.
‘I would like to make a toast,’ Caroline raised her glass. ‘Carly, I hope you and Bo have many happy years together. When two people who are more than lucky enough to find each other again after so many years; one can only call it divine intervention and have no right to question it. You deserve happiness after what you went through in the past. We can’t turn back the clock, we can only move forwards. And I hope you’ll do that from now on dear. Because the future’s sunnier when we put the past firmly behind us. I’m more than proud to have you back in the family. To Bo and Carly.’
‘To Bo and Carly,’ the women raised their glasses, Carly too overwhelmed with emotion to speak.
Bo entered the loft after returning from his stag party. Wanting a clear head, he only had one glass of beer; impatient to be with his fiancée. He wasn’t fond of such parties but Roman, Steve, Abe,  Daniel, Shawn Douglas, Shane and Max insisted, as it was traditional. Hence, he had to sweat it out, mentally counting the hours before he was allowed to go home to Carly.
Carly was just finishing clearing up the last scrap of wrapping paper when he came in. ‘Hey’, she straightened. ‘How was your party?’
‘So, so. Looks like yours was a huge success.’ He indicated the large pile of presents on the couch. ‘You look pretty by the way,’ admiring the wreath of flowers encircling the top of her head.
 ‘Prettier than the strippers you probably gawked at all evening? Why Commissioner Brady, I’m really flattered.’
Bo kissed Carly deeply, running his hands over her shoulders. ‘You should be, you were on my mind the whole evening. These  bachelor/ bachelorette parties are a pain.’
‘Come on, it couldn’t have been that bad for you.’
Still holding her hand, Bo sank into an armchair, pulling her onto her lap. ‘I’d rather spend the evening with you, not watching half naked women dancing around. Who happen to be half my age.’
‘You poor old thing.’ Carly murmured, pressing her face against his.
‘Seriously, how was your party; aside from the pile of presents over there?’
‘Really it was great. Caroline even made this lovely speech; she really wants us to be happy, Bo.’
‘I’m glad to hear that.’ Bo stroked her cheek. ‘It’s going to be okay like I promised, princess. I’m right where I want to be and we’re going to be together for a very long time, God Willing.’
‘God Willing.’ Carly repeated softly. ‘It was a long road for both of us.’
 Bo’s arms tightened round her. ‘Especially for you; going through all that for so long. If only I’d known…’
‘Lawrence would’ve had you killed and I wouldn’t have wanted to go on living if he did. He probably hoped at some point Frankie would go to you and you would come after me; that would’ve been his ultimate way of getting his revenge on us both.’
Bo’s face was sad. ‘I would’ve done all I could to get you out of there, regardless.’
‘I know,’ Carly whispered, her eyes bright with tears. ‘I know. But he can never hurt us again, not him; not Vivian.’
‘Vivian Alamain ever comes back here, she’s a dead woman and that’s not even an idle threat.’ Bo vowed darkly. ‘She will never get another chance to hurt you, ever. Not while I’m here to protect you.’
Carly held him close for a few minutes, feeling safe and warm in his arms; his heart beating against hers. Bo then turned her head to face him, kissing her gently at first then with eager intensity , his hand moving under her top to caress her skin, aching for her. ‘Should we go to bed?’ Carly asked softly against his lips.
‘I got something else in mind,’ he whispered back.
They took a shower together, the water playing over them; their slick, wet hands all over each other. They kissed deeply and sensually; Bo running his hands over Carly’s scarred back before gently pinning her against the tiled wall, wrapped her legs round his hips and entered her, Carly frantically kissing his neck and holding on to him  as they moved together in fiery unison until they slumped against each other, panting. The rest of the night was spent making tender passionate love, holding each other tightly afterwards.
Through the Brady Pub’s large glass window; Bo saw Frankie getting out of a car; followed closely by Nicholas Alamain. ‘Well…  look what the cat dragged in.’
Shawn Douglas turned to see, his eyebrows rising at the sight of his soon to be stepbrother. Now that he was an adult, Nicky’s  resemblance to his late father was more recognizable; all he had of Carly were her eyes, startling green like hers. And unlike Lawrence who spotted expensive business suits most of the time, Nicholas was dressed in a blazer over  a dark blue shirt and black designer jeans.
‘Big Bro.’ Frankie smiled warmly at Bo, exchanging hugs with him and Shawn Douglas.  
‘I was beginning to wonder if you would ever show up; everyone’s already here. Where’ve you been anyway, Carly said your secretary told her you were away.’
‘I had to take care of some business, us both actually.’ Frankie replied, indicating Nicholas.
 Nicholas was astute enough to detect chilliness from Bo and Shawn Douglas, even though they willingly shook hands with him. ‘Look at you, man; I hear you’re married now, with a daughter.’ He said, attempting to break the awkwardness.
‘That’s right,’ Shawn Douglas confirmed. What he really wanted to do was ask Nicky a major question: where the hell was he when Carly was abused by his father.
‘Bo, something’s come up and you need to know about it. Shawn D can stay to hear if he likes.’ Frankie said. 
Bo frowned. ‘Does it have to do with Carly?’
‘And you.’
‘What’s going on?’ Shawn Douglas demanded.
‘Whatever it is, please tell me it’s not something that’s going to upset Carly; she’s recovering from what she went through and I don’t want any nasty surprises.’
‘Bo, calm down; it’s nothing like that.’ Frankie placated. ‘Let’s all sit.’
Bo sat down, eyeing Nicholas suspiciously. ‘So, what’s this all about?’
Nicholas also sat, placing the briefcase he was holding on the table.
‘First off, I know what you and Shawn D probably think of me, that I turned a blind eye when my father abused Mum. Uncle François here thought the same thing when he came to where she was hospitalized in the South of France. But I swear, I honestly didn’t know he was doing  those things to her. He covered his tracks all too well and he completely had me fooled, you must believe me.  I knew nothing, if I did, I would’ve put a stop to it.’ Nicholas said earnestly.
‘Go on.’ Bo said quietly.
‘After Mum moved back to Salem; not only did I take over the reins, I began reading Father’s  journals.’
‘That sick bastard kept journals?’ Shawn Douglas asked, disgusted.
‘Yes and it's unsavory reading; I suppose I was trying to see it for myself, what he managed to hide from me for so many years. Every entry was detailed, talking about how he hated you and Mum for ‘betraying’ him and how leaving welts on her body and… violating her was his way of punishing you.’
Bo’s mouth tightened, feeling sick to his stomach.
‘Anyway, they were really distasteful; there were weeks I would leave off reading them but I continued. But after a while,  I noticed some journals were missing; vital ones dated after my father killed the baby Mum was expecting. The first person I could think of who might have stolen the journals was Vivian. I forbade her from setting foot into the Alamain compound but it turned out she bribed one of the maids to burglarize my study and take those specific ones. After the chit admitted it, I flew over to Paris to demand them back from her. I was using the journals as leverage because Vivian was going to tell the press it was Mum who killed Father; twisting everything to make her appear a murdering psychopath. But on the way there, I kept wondering why Vivian didn’t have the maid take all the journals, just those ones.’
‘Did you get them back?’ Bo asked.
‘Yes, right after I almost choked her.’ Nicholas’ eyes flashed angrily. ‘This woman stole me and buried Mum alive, so I was done being diplomatic. Luckily for me, I got there on time because she was planning on burning them. On reading, I realized why she stole them. It took me a while to sink in what I discovered.’
‘Which was?’
Nicholas turned to Frankie. Frankie leaned forward, his elbows resting on the table. ‘The baby... survived.’
A stunned silence.
‘No… no way!’ Shawn Douglas exclaimed at last . ‘I don’t believe it!’
More than shocked, Bo shook his head, unable to believe it either. ‘How is that possible? A baby couldn’t possibly have survived after its mother was stabbed in the stomach, more than once.’
‘That’s what the journal revealed. It seems incredible but true.’ Nicholas went on with his story. Carly was stabbed, six  times. When she started bleeding, the doctor Lawrence had on standby to clear up the mess; performed a caesarian operation, to get out the fetus and get rid of it immediately. But it turned out the baby was alive when brought out of Carly, who was unconscious the whole time. The reason, according to the doctor, whom Nicholas and Frankie spent a very long time tracking down; the baby survived because aside from Carly’s pregnancy fat protecting her vital organs, the baby was in the breech position- which had saved her life.  
Lawrence first reaction was rage and disbelief, his first instinct to finish what he started. But instead, for his own reasons; decided to let the brat live but Carly will never know the baby survived. While Carly lay very ill from the operation and loss of blood, the baby was taken away and kept under intensive care in a private hospital. Once the child was strong enough, Lawrence’s lawyer arranged a private adoption of the child, a baby girl. Lawrence’s journals didn’t indicate who the adoptive parents were, so Nicholas had carried out his own investigations, with Frankie’s help.
‘ The girl was adopted by an American couple; a Trent Becker and his girlfriend Jane.’
‘Wait a minute, Trent Becker?’ Bo exclaimed, hoping he heard right.
Shawn Douglas frowned. ‘That name sounds familiar, where have I heard it from?’
‘It’s the alias Trent Robbins used for years before moving here.’ Bo explained, his heart racing, not daring to hope. ‘Trent Robbins was Max’s father, he was murdered a few years ago. And Max’s half-sister is… Melanie Layton.’
‘You mean Nathan’s wife?’ Shawn Douglas exclaimed.  
‘Nathan’s wife, who used to date Phillip, a nurse at the same hospital Carly works and Carly’s matron of honor.’ Bo confirmed, still stunned. 
‘‘You know this girl then!’ Nicholas exclaimed sharply. ‘Bo, this girl is your daughter, yours and Mum’s… my sister! And yours too, Shawn D!’
 Bo went speechless, unable to believe it; still shocked and amazed. If it was true, then his child with Carly had been right under his nose the whole time.. Melanie Layton Horton was his daughter, their daughter.  
 ‘It’s the truth Bo, Melanie is Carly’s daughter and yours.’ Frankie said. ‘I would call it divine providence that she ended up here in Salem and Carly coming back some time later. I wanted you to know about this first before we break it to Carly. It’s going to come as a shock to her of course, and Melanie.’
‘Papa… what do you reckon?’ Shawn Douglas asked, when Bo still didn’t say a word.
For Carly’s sake and his own, Bo wanted to believe this sudden and unexpected miracle. But he didn’t want Carly to embrace this joyous news only to be bitterly disappointed afterwards. ‘We need to be absolutely sure about this  before we tell Carly anything.’ He said at last, his tone resolute.
‘I figured you would say that and I agree.’ Frankie replied. ‘Obviously you want to  carry out a DNA test.’
‘Obviously.’ Bo said firmly. ‘Until we are positive, we don’t say a word to either of them.’
Lucky for them, obtaining DNA samples from Carly and Melanie was surprisingly easy. Returning from the bridal store; Carly, Melanie, Belle and Chelsea stopped by the Brady pub  and Carly was delighted to see Nicholas and Frankie; introducing them to Melanie. When they were ready to go home, Bo discreetly took the spoons Carly and Melanie used to eat their ice-creams and took them to the police lab, handing the lab tech a sample of his as well. ‘I want the results ASAP, understand?’
‘Yes, sir.’ The young woman replied.

Bo was on edge the rest of the day and the next morning, much to Carly’s astonishment. By evening, the results were given to him. 
He and Carly were Melanie Horton’s biological parents.