Two weeks before Christmas Hope and Ciara came back from their vacation; the little girl flung herself at Bo as soon as he walked through the door. ‘Daddy!’ she shrieked joyfully. Bo hugged her tightly, kissing her. ‘I missed you so much sweetheart, how was your trip?’
‘Fine!’ the child said enthusiastically. ‘We went to the beach everyday and Mummy and me went to Disney Land!’
Bo smiled grimly at the picture of them having fun without him. ‘Well, it’s good to finally have you both home. Where’s Mummy?’
‘Upstairs with Uncle Justin.’
Bo’s blood ran cold with disbelief and anger. What the hell was Justin doing in his house, with his wife? As he set Ciara down, Justin emerged, some boxes in his hands. ‘Oh hey Bo, wasn't expecting you.’
‘Why wouldn't you, this is my house after all.’ Bo said tightly. ‘What are you doing here, Justin?’
‘I asked him to come over to help me with the luggage.’ Hope replied, holding two suitcases. ‘Ciara, go wait in the car with Uncle Justin.’
The child looked at her mother and then at her father, a puzzled expression on her face. ‘But Mummy...’
‘Right now, honey; don't argue.’ Obediently Ciara followed Justin out.
‘What the hell’s going on now, Hope?’ Bo asked as calmly as a man who was on the verge of exploding in rage. ‘I thought when you came back from your trip, everything will be back to the way it was.’
‘After what happened in this living room Bo, things can’t possibly go back to the way it was. Ciara was attacked here and she witnessed her new friend shot...’
‘If you’re still upset about that; then let’s sell the house and move somewhere else, start afresh there. This is not the best solution, Hope... making us live apart.’ Bo said, really exasperated.
‘I’m concerned about our daughter’s well being.’
‘Well, I’m concerned about our marriage! What’s happening to us, Fancy face? We haven’t been able to communicate because you keep pushing me away! I love you, we can work this out together.’ Bo pleaded desperately, taking her arm.
Hope freed her arm, her face sad but stubborn as always. ‘I’m sorry. I love you too, but like you just said, we just can’t communicate. And I just can’t get past what you did... Ciara might have died, just like Zack.’
‘Hope, I loved Zack as much as you did.’ Bo said quietly.
‘Yeah you loved him... but not enough to see his killer get justice. You say you love me yet you always have to be right; when we were younger you treated me like an equal partner, now I’m just your wife who has to follow everything you say, even if it’s wrong. Well guess what Brady, the scales have fallen off my eyes. I will not play your obedient little wife any more. Ciara and I are staying at your father’s until I make permanent arrangements.’
Bo couldn't believe what he was hearing... surely she wasn't saying what he feared. ‘Permanent arrangements?’
‘We’ve been going back and forth all these years; especially after Zack’s death and I for one am tired. It’s time we called it a day.’
Bo felt as though somebody had just punched him hard on the chest. ‘Who’s idea was this, you or Justin’s?’ he spat, angry and hurt at her announcement.
‘You leave Justin out of this; I am more capable of making decisions on my own!’ Hope snapped. ‘I thought this through and it’s exactly what I want... I want out. It’s over, Brady. We’ll discuss visitation rights later.’ She picked up the cases.
‘Hope, don't do this...’
‘I am doing it because I have the right to protect my daughter and myself. I’m not going to change my mind so don't bother.’ Without another word, she walked through the door, leaving Bo to stare after her; shaken at how his life had suddenly turned upside down. His marriage was over, just like that.... after 25 long years. Pressing his hand against his aching head, he sank into an arm chair; every part of him filled with misery. He was more than ready to salvage his marriage but got kicked aside. What was the point of trying? Hope’s made her decision and no matter what she said, he had a gut feeling Justin was responsible for it... he’d long suspected that his cousin had designs for Hope since his split from Adrienne. Justin will be lucky enough not to get his head punched in the next time he saw him! Sighing, Bo took his jacket off and went upstairs to wash his face with cold water; going back downstairs to raid the fridge for a beer. He’d just settled down on the couch when the door bell rang. Placing the bottle down, he got up to answer it. Carly stood there. ‘Hi.’ She smiled.
Bo smiled back in spite of himself, very glad to see her. After two weeks of enforced rest, she’d started work the day before. She was given an office all to herself and he and Roman had formally introduced her to all the officers and detectives who already admired her for her role in catching Dean. However, the gun holster on her waist instead of the stethoscope over her shoulder still needed getting used to. ‘Hi yourself. Come in.’
She stepped inside. ‘I hope I’m not interrupting anything.’
‘Not at all. Would you like a beer?’
‘Sure, thank you.’
As Bo went to the kitchen, she took off her jacket and went to the table where framed photos were displayed. She saw a photo of Bo, Hope and Ciara, one of a handsome young man with a blonde woman and a little girl, another of a good looking little boy. Zack... she guessed, feeling sad for Bo and Hope at how their son’s life was tragically cut short. There was one more photograph, smaller than the others, of a young girl with short dark hair.
‘Who’s this?’ she asked as he came back with her drink, pointing at the photo.
‘Oh... that’s my older daughter, Chelsea.’
‘Ah...’ she looked more closely. ‘She doesn't look like you or Hope.’
‘That’s because she’s not Hope’s daughter; she’s from my second wife, Billie. Chelsea and I... well we’ve had sort of a turbulent relationship but we managed to forge a better one before she left town.’
Clarice sensed a long, complicated story but decided not to ask. ‘Where is she now?’
‘In England, with her mother. We talk on the phone now and then. Here...’
‘Thanks.’ Opening the bottle, she asked. ‘Any word from Hope?’
Bo sighed heavily, feeling depressed again. ‘She came back today, but only to tell me she was moving out permanently with Ciara.’
Her emerald-green eyes widened. ‘I don't understand... I thought the point of her trip was to forget what happened here and then start over.’
‘Exactly, exactly what I thought Clarice!’ Bo said angrily; pain and hurt at Hope’s action still stinging him. ‘But it turned out she had another game plan. She’s... asked me for a divorce.’
‘You’re not planning on giving it to her, are you?’
He walked away from her, shrugging. ‘I don't know.’
‘Don't know? What sort of answer is that?’ Clarice put the bottle down. ‘You still love her, don't you?’
Bo turned. ‘Of course I do.’
‘Then go to her wherever she is... sit her down and talk it out with her. Tell her you love her and miss her and point out many reasons why you shouldn’t get a divorce. 25 years is something you can’t allow go down the drain.’
Bo stared at her, his emotions tumbling together all over again. ‘Why do you care so much about me like this?’
To rid myself of feelings I have no right to have... which she couldn't possibly say to him. Instead, she reached out to rub his arm. ‘You’re a wonderful father and from all accounts, you’ve been a very good husband. You deserve to be happy... with your family with you. Don't let Dean Hartman have the satisfaction of ruining what you have with Hope. Go to her right now and talk it out, huh?’
Oh God... why do you have to be so unbearably sweet, princess? Bo wanted to scream out loud. Before Carly arrived he was wallowing in misery, wondering just how to get Hope back; Carly was now standing in front of him, giving him advice but he was barely listening to it. Over the past few weeks, the need to kiss her had evolved to the need to rip her clothes off... right now he was consumed with desire for Carly. He still loved Hope and Carly had meant too much to him in the past to be treated like a piece of ass; that and her memory loss. He mustn’t forget the reason why he’d kept her in Salem.
With great effort, he smiled down at her; pushing all sexual thoughts aside. ‘You’re right. I’ll go over to her and make her talk things out with me.’
‘That’s what I want to hear.’ Whatever her feelings were, she truly wanted Bo to be happy and the key was Hope, even though in her opinion Hope Brady was behaving selfishly; hurting Bo this way.
They sat together on the couch sipping beer, talking for a long while. ‘What are your plans for Christmas by the way?’ Bo asked. ‘Victor’s having a formal party at the country club’s ballroom on Christmas Eve; care to come as my guest?’
‘Roman’s already asked me to be his date.’ Carly replied.
‘He... has?’ Bo was aware how his voice sounded tight and his stomach lurched at the idea of his brother, who always referred to Carly as ‘that little girl’ back in the day, coming the party with her. Every formal engagement he attended with Carly, Bo was always the envy of every man in the room, except in the case of Lawrence who always hid his rage behind condescending disdain.
‘Yes, I hope I find the right dress. The last time I was at a ball I was undercover and the dress was uh... specially made for a quick getaway if you know what I mean.’
Bo however wasn't in the mood for an anecdote, he was bristling with illogical jealousy. ‘When did he ask you?’
‘Today, at the station. He brought me coffee and just happened to mention it. Roman’s very charming, it will be fun going with him. Hey... maybe you and Hope will make up in time to show up at the party together, right?’
‘Right.’ Bo said quietly. What the hell was wrong with him that he resented Roman asking Carly out... they were both single; he was married... that is if he’s able to talk to Hope; maybe they might even go for counselling if she was adamant about the divorce. He glanced at Carly who was calmly sipping her beer; remembering the first and only time they’d lived apart- after their wedding was ruined. She’d been more than anxious to make amends but he was too angry and hurt to listen to her for still keeping secrets from him after all they’ve been through. And once again, her action turned out to have a very good reason... after all he did the same thing several years later when Chelsea was arrested for Zack’s death; did all he could to protect his daughter just as Carly did all she could to protect Nicky, considering they missed out both children’s childhoods. If only she could remember at least something from their past right now, anything!
He touched her hand, rubbing the back with his thumb. ‘Since you got here you’ve done nothing but help me, even getting shot. Now you’re doing all you can to cheer me up.’
‘How am I doing so far?’
‘More than great.’ He smiled faintly, his hand moving up her arm to her shoulder. ‘You’re a great friend, Clarice.’
She shrugged smiling. ‘You’re a great friend too.’ She replied, her heart suddenly beating faster as his fingers touched the side of her neck. She knew she should move away but somehow she couldn't budge.
How he loved her skin... so soft and silken. Bo found his desire rising again as he leaned forward to do what he’d been longing to do since the day she was shot, kiss her breathless.
‘What are we doing?’ she whispered, her voice low and tremulous.
‘I don't know,’ he whispered back. ‘Let’s find out.’ Their faces moved closer and then the phone began ringing, breaking the spell.
Bo pressed his forehead against hers, sighing with aggravation. The phone went on ringing and letting her go, he got up to answer it. ‘Hello.’ he said.
‘Bo, what’s all this between you and your wife?’ Victor’s barking voice snapped over the line. ‘She arrived here with Ciara and her bags and told me you were calling it quits, is that true?’
‘She’s the one calling it quits, not me.’ Bo said coldly.
‘So, that’s the reason why you’re just sitting there feeling sorry for yourself instead of coming after her like a real husband should...’
Bo glanced at Carly sitting on the couch and a great wave of anger ran through him. ‘You’re the last man on earth who can talk about being a real husband, or father for that matter!’ he shouted. ‘Don't you talk to me about what I should or shouldn’t do! Instead ask Hope why she’s choosing to end our marriage or better yet ask Justin why the hell he’s so anxious to help my wife every time... that’s what you should be asking, you sanctimonious old bastard! Don't you call me dishing out orders... just go to hell!’
Clarice winced as he slammed the phone back on the cradle. ‘Bo...’ she said getting up.
‘I’m sorry... I’m sorry; Victor brings that out of me all the time.’ Bo shook his head as he paced the room, shaking with anger. ‘He just asked me to come over and pick up Hope; he doesn't even care to know the details... you screwed up, come fix it! I’m tired, damn tired!’
‘Bo... listen to me.’ she went up to him, turning him round to face her. ‘Please, calm down. You know you didn't do anything wrong, you know none of this is your fault so for God sake don't let Victor make you lose control like this.’ she pleaded. ‘Listen... go to her now.’
‘No way. I wanted to follow your advice before but now I just can’t. Hope’s done this before, many times! Every time things got rough she shut me out and leave! And Mr. Fix-it is always told to do what he can. Not anymore, Clarice... not anymore!’ he shouted, his voice trembling.
Clarice felt her eyes fill with tears at the sight of his pain. ‘It’s okay... it’s going to be okay...’ she whispered as he pulled her against him, resting her head against his shoulder. Bo stroked her hair, moving his hands down to rub her back then encircling her waist tightly; desperately drawing strength from her, forcing his anger to die down.
‘It’s going to be okay... just believe that.’
Bo kissed her forehead as she spoke, moving down to her mouth but this time she drew away. ‘I don't think that's a good idea.’ She said quietly.
‘Clarice...’ he began but she shook her head.
‘Bo, you’re a wonderful man... a special man.’ she said seriously. And I like you very much, enough not to complicate your life. You’re probably feeling vulnerable and lonely right now and it will be easy to... give in to temptation.’
‘Maybe I want to.’ He said quietly, rubbing her lower lip with his thumb.
She smiled sadly. ‘But we both know it would be wrong.’ She gently pulled away from his arms. ‘And we’re friends; we can’t ruin that... can we?’
Bo kept his hand on her shoulder, squeezing it. ‘Sure... we can’t. You probably think I’m a jerk...’
‘No... never.’ She assured him. ‘I don't think that at all. Just... try and make your peace with Hope. Not because you’re expected to, but because you deserve to be happy.’ She patted his cheek. ‘I should go now.’
Bo sighed as she turned away and picked up her jacket and purse, feeling bereft all over again and so confused by his conflicting feelings. ‘I’ll see you later... maybe I’ll drop by Mum’s later, let you know how my talk with Hope went.’
‘Actually... I’m moving out. I found an apartment, down by the docks.’
‘The Warehouse?’ Bo asked, following her to the door. The once dilapidated place was purchased ten years ago and converted to an apartment building.
She nodded. ‘It’s a loft. High ceilings... lots of space and a very nice view of the river. As soon as I saw it, I felt right at home. Though I am going to miss living with Caroline, she’s been so sweet to me the whole time I was recovering.’ She smiled. ‘And everyone in your family too... with the way they came to visit me and everything. I especially enjoyed meeting Mrs. Horton.’
‘Yeah, she’s a wonderful woman. She told me she enjoyed meeting you too.’ Actually, Alice cried when she narrated to Bo how she’d hoped being in her house might jog Carly’s memory but still nothing. He’d consoled her, urging her to be patient.
‘You too.’ Bo stood at the door, watching her as she walked down the path; wishing she’d stayed longer... and more. Closing the door, he resolved not to take her advice. He wasn't going to run after Hope like he always did... if she wanted to see him; she knew where to find him. It took two people to make a marriage work and this time they were going to do it together. The phone rang again as he picked up the empty bottles but he didn't bother answering it.
Alone, Clarice wiped her tears, sniffling. There was a lot of truth in the adage, Good guys finish last. To forget her misery, she went to buy a dress to wear for Victor Kiriakis’ party.
Hope spent a miserable night in her father-in-law’s mansion, not seeing the luxurious decor or feeling the soft comfort of the Queen’s size bed she and Ciara shared; only her own house and the bed she and Bo shared. Leaving him had broken her heart and she’d sobbed the whole time she unpacked, Ciara safely in the living room fussed over by Victor and Justin. But however painful a Band-Aid was, it had to be pulled off sometime.
Sighing, she switched on the table lamp and looked at the time; 1:15 a.m. She looked at her sleeping daughter, curled up with Tommy Bear; her breathing regular and steady. She got out of bed, taking care not to wake her and slipped her robe on before leaving the room, closing the door silently behind her.
Entering the huge kitchen, Hope looked round helplessly before raiding one of the restaurant-type fridges for milk. She jumped when she turned round to see Justin standing at the door. ‘Are you okay?’ he asked, entering. ‘I heard your door close.’ ‘I couldn’t sleep... thought I would make myself some cocoa. If I can find it that is.’
‘I’ll make it, you sit down.’ Justin took the milk from her and Hope obeyed, not having the strength to argue with him. Within minutes, a hot mug was in front of her. ‘Thank you.’ she said, taking a sip. Justin sat next to her at the kitchen table, holding his own mug between his hands. ‘Talk to me, Hope. What is it?’
Hope sighed. ‘Maybe I was too hasty... leaving like that. I should’ve talked things out like Bo wanted to.’
Justin said nothing, allowing her to talk.
‘But on the other hand he’ll just insist that he was right and make me look like a childish fool who doesn't know what she’s talking about... and I do know what I’m talking about!’ her voice was tight with anger. ‘I did this for me and Ciara... if that makes me selfish...’
Justin took her hand firmly. ‘You’re not selfish, Hope. You’re not, alright? But you still love Bo; I think you should give him another chance.’
‘I’ve run out of chances, maybe that’s what gave me the strength to leave. I’m tired... very tired and I just want some stability, not more drama.’
‘I’m not saying this because Bo’s my cousin; I’m saying it because you’re obviously not happy without Bo and you’re making yourself more miserable denying him another chance. And after what happened to Ciara, she needs both her parents. Have you considered that?’
‘I have but I also need Ciara to be safe and I need for Bo to see that I’m done being ignored in matters that concern our family. It’s easy for him to say move on and forget but I can’t.’ Hope’s pretty dark eyes met with Justin. ‘Will you help me with my divorce?’
‘Now Hope, I can’t do that.’ Justin shook his head. ‘Bo’s my cousin, he’ll never forgive me. Besides... are you sure you want to end your marriage after 25 years?’
Hope bit her lip but her face was resolute. ‘I’m sure.’
‘I still think you should reconsider...’
Justin was sorely tempted to tell Hope about Carly to see her reaction but Bo and Roman had fiercely sworn him to secrecy. It wasn't only the fact that Bo was family, since his separation from Adrienne, he’d found himself deeply attracted to Hope. Acting as her representative in a divorce wouldn't be ethical... besides, Carly was still in Salem; Bo would be free to chase her if he wanted to. It was a non win situation. Or what it? Justin thought shrewdly as he looked at Hope’s drawn face. Some other lawyer could handle the divorce and then Hope will be free... for him to claim as his own at the right time.
‘Geez... I’m going to be the envy of every man tonight!’ Roman exclaimed as Clarice let him in. ‘You look sensational kiddo, very beautiful! Merry Christmas.’
‘Thank you, kind sir, Merry Christmas to you too.’ She laughed, accepting the rose and parcel he handed to her. ‘You don't look bad yourself.’
‘To tell you the truth, I hate when I have to put on monkey suits.’ He grimaced, looking round. ‘This place is great.’
‘Thank you.’ She’d had a fellow ISA agent in New York ship some things from her apartment there; including her big screen T.V and home theatre system. The living room was decorated for Christmas, the tall Christmas tree in the middle of the room; the colourful lights over the branches.
‘I see you’ve got a lot of presents.’ He said, seeing the several boxes under the tree.
‘Yes, from the family and a lot of guys at the station. Let’s see what you got me...’ she unwrapped the parcel and smiled at the green cashmere sweater. ‘Thank you, it’s beautiful.’
‘I figured it matched your eyes.’ He grinned. ‘So, you’re set?’
‘Yeah, I’m ready.’ She picked up her purse and fur coat. The parcel from Bo was still under the tree, she will open it tomorrow. She’d sent him his the day before and Hope and Ciara’s to the Kiriakis mansion. She wondered if he and Hope had finally patched things up... for his sake she hoped yes.
Roman helped her slip into her coat, wondering how tonight will turn out. He’d noticed the way Bo’s eyes followed Carly about at the station; If he wasn't careful, things could get very, very complicated and Carly will be the one to get the brunt of it. In his own way, he was fond of Carly and didn’t want her to get hurt... Bo and Hope should simply get over their differences and stop acting like children.
Hope wore a deep blue satin dress which was a perfect foil to her raven black hair. Bo immediately went over to her as soon as she arrived with Justin but the conversation was stilted and Justin hovering near didn't help. Bo longed to place his fist on his cousin’s face but the last thing he wanted was to start a brawl; he wasn't the ‘ready- for-anything’ biker anymore.
‘You okay bro?’ asked Phillip as Bo sat next to him at the bar.
‘Sure, just peachy.’ Bo said coolly. ‘A seltzer please.’ He said to the bartender.
‘Come on Bo, you’ve got to straighten things out with Hope somehow... the two of you are behaving like strangers.’
‘Will everybody stop telling me what to do? What the hell does everybody think I’ve been doing?’ Bo snapped irritably. Any talk he’d had with Hope since she moved out had ended in disaster; more and more they were further apart.
‘Hey calm down... I didn't mean anything.’ Phillip said. ‘I was just trying to help.’
‘Hi Bo.’ Chloe Lane, Phillip’s girlfriend appeared, linking her arm through Phillip’s.
‘Hi Chloe... you look lovely.’ Bo said, without much interest as he sipped his drink. He was depressed and wished he was elsewhere. This has to be the worst Christmas of his life.
Chloe exchanged a glance with Phillip before asking tentatively, ‘Would you like to dance, Bo?’
Bo smiled at her faintly but shook his head. ‘I don't think so, but thanks.’
Phillip shook his head at him as Chloe moved to talk to someone. ‘Come on man... it’s Christmas, cheer up.’
‘Mmm... exactly what can cheer me up right now?’
Phillip opened his mouth to reply but instead he looked over Bo’s shoulder, his eyes widening. ‘Wow, check out Clarice... she looks hot!’
Bo immediately turned and did a double-take as Carly entered the room on Roman’s arm; utterly beautiful in a simple yet elegant deep ruby silk evening dress, strapless with a long matching stole, her hair beautifully arranged. He watched her exchanging kisses with Caroline and greeting Victor who, to his amazement and horror, took her hand and kissed it.
‘Man oh man... now that is what I call a beautiful lady!’ Phillip whistled, his eyes on stalks. He wasn't the only one, several men in the room were looking at her; luckily the business associates invited were not people that knew Carly back in the day or there would have been trouble.
‘You look lovely, Clarice; thanks for the presents... Ciara really loves her satin pillow.’ Hope was saying as Bo appeared. ‘it was very thoughtful.’
‘It was nothing... oh hi Bo.’ Clarice turned to him.
Roman cleared his throat, waiting for the axe to fall as Justin too appeared, taking Hope’s arm possessively. Hope stiffened at the sight of Bo, walking away.
‘Hi Clarice, you look beautiful. Hey Roman.’ Bo tried to speak casually but seeing Carly in a dress for the first time in years was just too overwhelming.
‘Hey Bo. So...’ Roman inclined his head at Hope’s direction. ‘How’s it going so far?’
‘She just walked away with Justin. What does that tell you?’ Bo said, his tone bitter.
‘Oh...’ Clarice said, distressed. ‘This can’t go on between you two, it just can’t.’
‘I’m at my wit’s end, Clarice, I don't know what to do anymore.’
‘In time Bo... don't worry too much about it.’ Roman said encouragingly. ‘Hope can’t stay mad forever. It’s Christmas, time for miracles.’
Before Bo could speak, Victor appeared again, looking distinguished in his tux. ‘May I have this dance, Clarice? You don't mind, Roman?’
‘Sorry, the lady already promised me one.’ Bo said smoothly, taking Clarice by the arm and leading her to the dance floor. Roman shrugged his shoulders in defeat and moved over to the bar while Victor watched his son and ex wife, deep suspicion on his face. If Bo planned on having an affair with Carly, amnesia or not; he will tell Hope everything- Bo was not going to get involved with Carly Manning a second time. She made her choice when she left him for Alamain and she had no rights to him now. Hope was really being stupid letting him roam free. Caroline, Mickey and Maggie, Abe and Lexie watched the couple, very worried. The younger members of the family watched, fascinated. Hope saw Bo leading Clarice to the dance floor and stood still, her eyes narrowed.
Bo found himself relaxing as he moved to the music, Carly clasped in his arms. She smelled great and she looked so beautiful... the most beautiful woman in the room. ‘Nice dress.’ He smiled down at her.
‘Thank your niece Sami, she recommended the boutique.’ She smiled back. ‘You look very handsome by the way.’
He chuckled. ‘Thanks. And thanks for the antique model ship; it’s really great. How did you know I’m into sailing?’
‘At the hospital, when you bent over me; I saw the St. Michael medal you were wearing. Patron saint of mariners... it was easy.’
He chuckled again. ‘I was in the merchant marines, a long time ago.’
‘Caroline told me; she also said you were a private eye before joining the force. Seems like you’ve always had a thirst for adventure, huh?’
‘Back then, now I’m old, boring and decrepit.’
‘You’re an idiot... like that can ever be true.’ She laughed. She caught Hope staring at them from across the room and she sobered immediately. ‘Maybe we should stop dancing...’
‘Maybe you should pretend she’s not there, we’re not doing anything wrong.’ He tightened his grip on her.
‘Maybe not but she’s still your wife. The bigger person is the one who makes the most effort Bo. I want you to be happy, please... try again with her.’
Hope watched them silently, her heart filled with sudden resentment towards Clarice Parker. Sure she owed her Ciara’s life as well as her own but the way Bo’s face was all relaxed as he danced with her made her hackles rise. What were they talking about anyway?
‘Care to dance?’ Roman asked.
‘No... I think I’ll sit this one out.’ Hope mumbled, picking at her skirt.
Roman sighed, exasperated. ‘Hope, stop pretending it doesn't bother you that Bo’s dancing with Clarice.’
‘It doesn't bother me. Clarice is a friend of the family.’
‘But nonetheless, it does bother you, I know you Hope Brady! No matter what you feel, you still love that guy over there. Are you going over there or not?’
Hope hesitated, then shook her head. ‘Not. If Bo wants to put himself out there just to make me jealous, let him. I don't care.’
‘For God sake Hope...’
‘Hope, dance?’ Justin appeared, after leading Brady’s girlfriend Madison back to him. Without hesitation, Hope took his hand and followed him to the dance floor. Roman watched his brother, bracing himself to see what would happen. Bo saw Hope in Justin’s arms but somehow the anger he felt wasn't as strong as it was earlier. Instead, he kept his eyes on Carly’s face, very glad she was with him.
After a while he reluctantly handed her over to his brother and sat at the bar, watching them. To his irritation, Victor joined him. ‘You’re playing with fire.’ He quietly remarked.
‘When I need your advice, I’ll ask for it.’ Bo growled.
‘She’s not for you, Bo. She doesn't even remember you and you and Hope have played this cat and mouse game long enough. Whether you want to believe it or not, your welfare’ s very important to me.’
Bo’s smile was grim and cynical. ‘Sure... like years ago when you tried to kill me and that woman over there almost died!’
Victor glared at him. ‘For God sake Bo...’
‘Don't you even try it. You and Larry... you both did all you could to harm Carly and me; you must’ve been so glad when I lost her. She doesn't remember me but she saved Hope and your grand daughter...yet you still hate her for loving me instead of you. Who’s the real person holding a grudge? Lay off me Victor, the only reason why I’m your son- by default- is because my mother made the biggest mistake of her life. I forbid you to discuss Carly with me and one more time... stay away from her or else.’
He stalked away to the French windows, suddenly needing some air.
Clarice found herself washing hands beside Hope in the ladies’ room. ‘Hope...’ she began. ‘About this trouble you have with Bo...’
‘I rather not talk about it with you.’ Hope replied quietly. ‘It’s a very complicated situation.’
‘It doesn't have to be if you just talk it out with him. He’s hurting, can’t you see?’ Clarice insisted. ‘And I’m sure Ciara misses her father.’
‘I’m not going to deny him access to Ciara and I’d appreciate it if you just stay out of it.’
Hope looked at her, her expression unyielding. ‘Clarice, I owe you my life... I’ll never forget that but please... butt out. It doesn't concern you, okay?’
Fool... Clarice thought angrily, her hands balled into fists as Hope swept past her. It was like talking to a brick wall! How long was she going to keep this behaviour up? Grabbing her purse she went back to the ball room, her eyes searching for Bo. He wasn't around. She glanced at Roman but he was dancing with Caroline; he won’t miss her for now. She made her way to the French windows and sure enough he was there, watching the stairs, his hands in his pocket. ‘Hi again.’
He turned and his eyes lit up. ‘Hey you.’
‘How are you holding up?’ she asked quietly, closing the window behind her.
He shrugged. ‘I feel like I’m picking my way through a fog, still trying to find the light.’
‘Bo, I’m so sorry; I even tried talking to her just now...’
‘You did?’ he asked, startled. ‘What happened?’
Clarice shrugged. ‘She more or less told me to mind my own business. The best thing you can do is just give her more time.’
‘I don't know about that, Clarice.’
‘Why not? You love her!’
‘I do. But to be honest... I’m tired. I’m tired of being kicked aside and shut out. Much as it hurts... maybe this is the only solution, that we call it quits.’
‘No...’ she whispered. ‘There has to be a way... you can’t give up just like that.’
‘This isn't giving up, more like-quoting Hope- calling it a day.’ His face was bleak.
Clarice shook her head and in spite of her resolve, she touched Bo’s face. Despite his sadness, Bo pressed his hand against hers; emotions racing yet again. ‘Come here...’ he whispered, taking her by the arms and drawing her to him. Clarice wanted to protest but the look in those brown eyes rendered her speechless and weak. Her arms went round his neck as he encircled her waist and their lips finally met.
Bo’s mouth devoured hers hotly and possessively, held back desire unleashed as he pressed her soft body against his. Clarice kissed him back, running her fingers through his hair; finally giving in to her feelings. They kissed and kissed some more.