Roman shook his head as he listened to what Bo told him over the phone. ‘I can’t believe it... after all this time, Carly resurfaces and she didn’t even recognise us. What could’ve happened?’
‘That’s what kept going through my mind the whole time she was talking... what the hell happened to her?’ Bo said angrily. ‘What the hell did that son of a bitch do to her; why the hell is she an ISA agent... Carly’s a doctor, she saves lives!’
‘Have you toyed with the possibility she might not be Carly?’
‘This woman isn't pretending to be Carly; she is Carly!’ Bo insisted. ‘She was wearing the ring I gave her for Christmas years ago, the Claddagh ring Pop helped me get.’ And what he couldn’t say out loud; the rush he’d felt when their hands touched...
‘I remember it.’ Roman replied. ‘What are you going to do now?’
‘I’m going to call Shane soon as I can to get some answers; but in the meantime, nobody says a word to Hope about Car... I mean Clarice being my ex. The last thing she needs is somebody freaking her out with questions she can’t answer and I don't want anyone else asking her anything when they see her, okay? You can tell Hope and the others some woman found Ciara and leave it like that. I’m coming over.’
‘I’ll take care of it, don't worry.’ He understood perfectly; as an ISA agent, Carly couldn't afford to get confused and bewildered by suddenly being forced to dig into a past she knew nothing about.
‘I’m on my way over now.’ After he hung up, he pondered on Carly; wondering how long she’s been suffering from amnesia. What had caused it; Trauma? Brainwashing? Larry had brainwashed her after digging her out of the grave but she’d regained her memory, it had been too late for them to salvage their relationship. Maybe Lawrence had abused her or used more extreme methods... stronger than whatever Vivian injected in her before, something that damaged her mind and changed her from Dr. Carly Manning; M.D to Agent Clarice Parker; ISA. And what was she exactly ... a spy? Or an assassin? No... Not Carly; she cared too much about human life. The family will of course respect his instruction about not pressing her. Hope knew nothing about Carly so she would be easy to deal with. Mickey Horton was trustworthy but Maggie, though a sweet, wonderful woman was Salem’s biggest gossip. Victor was a much bigger problem; he was Carly’s vindictive ex husband and a career criminal who’s wormed his way out of arrests over the years, nobody really believed he was legit like he’d claimed to be since Pop’s death. He can never know the wife who left him was ISA; he could do anything to her out of pure spite; finger her to one of his underworld associates or harm her emotionally.
‘My God...’ he whispered, anger burning his insides. ‘What did you do to her, Larry?’
Hope’s joy at seeing her darling daughter again, safe and sound, couldn't be described; she was still sobbing as she held and kissed Ciara, Maggie laughing and crying as well. Which was what was still going on when Bo arrived, Ciara enveloped by hugs and kisses from all present.
‘Hey there, Bo.’ Mickey Horton greeted warmly, shaking his hand. ‘All’s well that ends well, eh?’
‘Yeah.’ Bo agreed, opening his arms to pick up Ciara who ran up to him. ‘Where’s Clarice, Daddy?’
‘Yeah, where is this Clarice Parker?’ Hope asked. ‘I thought she’ll come with you; I wanted to thank her.’
Bo noticed that Hope made no move to hug him; her manner towards him still not softened.
‘She’s coming by the station in the morning to give a statement; she’s tired from the long drive.’
Hope nodded, touching Ciara’s hair; avoiding her husband’s face. ‘You’ll see her again tomorrow, sweetie. But we have to go the hospital now.’
‘Why?’ Ciara whined. She hated hospitals.
‘Just routine, I promise. Aunt Lexie’s going to check you out and you’ll be home in bed before you know it.’
Ciara shrugged resignedly before her eyes lit up again. ‘Can I have ice cream afterwards?’
Bo laughed, kissing her on the forehead before setting her down. ‘Lots and lots... whatever you like. First go upstairs and wash up a bit before we leave, alright?’
Hope took her hand and led her up the stairs, still not looking at Bo.
‘Is something wrong, Bo?’ Mickey asked.
‘Why don't you ask Hope, she’s the one being weird with me.’ Was Bo’s bitter reply.
‘Hope will be fine, this whole thing’s been a nightmare for her; would be for any mother. I’m talking about the way you sounded when Ciara asked about Clarice. Who is she?’
Bo looked towards the stairs to make sure Hope wasn't near enough to overhear what he was about to say. ‘It’s Carly.’
‘Carly? As in Carly Manning, your ex fiancée?’ Justin exclaimed.
‘Keep your voice down!’ Roman hissed, glaring at him.
‘What is she doing in Salem?’ Justin lowered his voice, his expression stunned. ‘And under a different name? Is she in trouble?’
‘It depends on what you define as trouble... Carly’s suffering from memory loss.’ Roman said. ‘At least that’s what we think it is.’
‘Memory loss?’ Maggie asked, incredulously.
‘She didn't recognise any of us at the station; not even Bo.’ Caroline said, looking worried and upset. ‘It was like she was just meeting us for the first time; just like with Steve when he came back.’
Justin looked at Bo. ‘What is she doing in Salem then?’
‘Listen, this can’t leave this room... you especially are not to say a word about this.’ Bo addressed Justin warningly. ‘Carly’s ISA. She was coming back from an assignment and that’s how she found Ciara on the road.’
‘I don't believe this,’ Caroline whispered, hand to her chest. ‘How is this possible Bo... Carly’s a doctor; what is she doing with the ISA? What could’ve caused her amnesia?’
‘Not what, who.’ Bo said grimly.
‘Lawrence?’ Mickey guessed.
‘Yeah. I’ll get answers from Shane in the morning. In the meantime... nobody says anything to Hope and nobody asks Carly anything. As far as she’s concerned she’s Clarice Parker, okay?’
‘No, no... Of course not.’ Maggie promised, though she was already burning with curiosity. So was Justin, who watched Bo’s face the whole time. What was Bo actually feeling about Carly’s return and what did he intend on doing about it?
Hope came downstairs with Ciara and the conversation was temporarily suspended.
As Lexie examined Ciara with Hope hovering close by, Roman took Bo aside, away from the others. ‘One thing I want to know Bo... do you think Frankie knows about Carly’s condition?’
Bo thought about it for a few minutes then shook his head. ‘I don't think so, he would’ve told me the last time he was here. Or Jennifer at least, he spent a lot of time with her. Come to think of it...’ he realised, ‘we never talked about Carly.’
‘Your choice or his?’
Bo shook his head. ‘Mine. Of course I asked after her, he said “fine” and changed the subject.’
‘Why would he do that?’
‘I don't know, I didn't think much of it at the time. I didn't... I didn't want to go down memory lane. Letting Carly go was the most painful thing I ever had to do; for years I blocked her out of my mind, Rom.’
‘I know.’ Roman squeezed his shoulder. He was the only one besides another who knew what had happened on the boat; Carly had remembered Bo but Lawrence had gotten to her emotionally, using the time she was convalescing from her ordeal to fall back in love with him. Bo had been devastated but he’d loved her too much to force back something Larry had taken away. ‘But we have a catch-22 situation right now. If Carly does have amnesia, we can’t let her go on like this; she has a right to know who she really is. On the other hand, what’s going to happen if she does remember? It’s going to complicate things with you and Hope.’
‘ I’m fully aware we can’t let Carly keep thinking she’s Clarice. Hope and I are going to be alright, she’s just upset with me right now but it doesn't mean our marriage’s on the rocks. All I want to do is help Carly get her memory back, nothing more. And when that happens, Carly will never do what Billie did to me. She’s not Clarice Parker and she doesn't belong to ISA.’ Bo couldn't bear to imagine Carly wielding a gun.
Roman nodded. ‘But how are we going to keep her here?’
Bo raised one eyebrow. ‘We?’
Roman snorted. ‘I didn't always agree with Carly’s ways of handling things but I loved her like a sister. Of course I want to help her get her life back.’
Bo smiled gratefully at his brother, very glad they were on the same wave length. ‘We’ll find a way. But right after I talk to Shane. And... I think you should call Frankie. Don't tell him she’s here, just pretend you were calling to see how he’s doing and work Carly’s name into the conversation.’
Roman nodded. ‘I’ll do that. Find all you can from Shane. This whole thing’s got me very curious.’
Clarice could still feel his hand on hers; akin to a warm flame, even after she stepped out of the shower. From the moment she’d laid eyes on Bo Brady across the room, she’d gotten full blast of the raw animal magnetism he radiated. His name had been mentioned in passing once by some fellow agents who worked with him on a few cases in the past and she hadn’t given it much thought, now that she’s seen him in the flesh at last she couldn't get him out her mind. Especially his brown eyes, piercing yet sensitive. No man has ever made her feel this way and on a first meeting too.
Pull yourself together Clarice; she told herself sternly as she towelled her hair dry. You’re not some teenage girl drooling after the high school jock; you’re a professional who’s never allowed emotions to overwhelm her. Bo Brady’s a married man, a family man... unavailable and way beyond your reach.
And it’s not like she was going to be in Salem for long. In the morning she was going over to ISA headquarters to give her report which will be transferred to the Head Office in D.C; recover from her injury for some time and it’s back to New York for her. She might even go to Connecticut where her house was for some real peace and quiet; she was for due for some time off.
Brushing her teeth and slipping on an oversize T shirt, she gratefully sank into the soft mattress, covering herself with the cool, clean sheets. She thought of Ciara, glad she was able to save that sweet little girl. But as she fell asleep, her mind shifted back to Ciara’s father. And wondered for one lazy minute why he and Mrs. Brady had called her Carly.
To Bo and Hope’s great relief; there was no sign that Ciara had been physically abused as the late Kyle had been convicted before for raping a minor. Hope insisted on seeing Dean before they left; to thank him for his efforts even though he had acted stupidly.
‘Luckily his wound’s not so serious so we’re releasing him now. I guess you’ll want to take his statement before he goes home.’ Lexie said. As she spoke, a nurse appeared, pushing Dean’s wheelchair.
Hope did all the talking; Bo was yet to forgive him for the way he had acted so he didn't say much to him. Suppose Ciara hadn’t escaped and run into Carly?
Dean grinned at Ciara. ‘You’re alright, kid? Bet you’re glad to be with Mum and Dad again.’
‘Yes.’ Ciara said quietly, holding on to Bo’s hand.
‘I’ll take Dean’s statement; you two take Ciara home.’ Roman instructed. ‘Lord knows it’s been a very long night and we all need rest.’
‘Yeah, of course.’ Hope smiled at Dean. ‘Thanks again for everything, Dean.’
‘I just did my job; Detective Brady.’
‘And then some.’ Bo said coldly.
Dean’s face went red.
‘Bo, lay off him.’ Hope scolded. ‘He’s been through enough.’
‘No, that’s okay; I... I know I didn't follow procedure but I really wanted to bring Ciara here safe and sound, sir... honestly.’
Bo just barely managed to control his temper but he nodded. ‘Roman here will take your statement and you can go home and get some sleep.’
Picking Ciara up, he and Hope said goodnight to the rest of the family and drove home; in silence. At their house, Hope gave Ciara a bath but took her to their own room, tucking her under the blankets. ‘I think it would be a good idea if she slept with me tonight.’ She said as Ciara drifted off to sleep.
Bo regarded Hope’s averted face for a minute. Me, not us. He reached out to touch her shoulder but she shrank away from his touch and went downstairs. He followed her, upset by her attitude. ‘Fancy face...’
‘You accuse Dean of not following procedure. But you... you had to go on T.V and offer a reward instead of letting me pay the ransom, you were really the one who almost got our little girl killed.’
‘We’ve been through this; it was the safest option...’
‘No Brady... It was the best option; because it was decided by you. Your methods are always the better ones and you just won’t listen to anybody.’ Hope turned to look at him, her lovely dark eyes as cold as her tone. ‘Especially me.’
‘Hope, I’ve never turned down your ideas or looked down on your methods; we’re not just Man and Wife, we’re partners.’
Hope’s face didn't soften. ‘Partners have an equal relationship; which we don't have. You should’ve let me pay the ransom instead of exposing Ciara like that.’ Her voice now rose. ‘It was obviously what they were arguing about when Dean got there... ransom turned to a reward; Ciara was this close to being killed, thanks to you! She could’ve been in that cabin when the third guy torched it... he could’ve found her in the woods before she got to the highway! All you!’
‘Hope, let’s not do this.’ Bo replied, quietly. ‘We need each other more than ever, with what’s happened. You know I’ll never do anything to harm our daughter, or any of my children.’
Hope stared him down before going to the door and locking it for the night. ‘Well I guess the reward goes to this Clarice Parker; I’ll make arrangements with Justin after I meet her.’
‘She won’t take it. She’s an ISA agent.’
Hope looked startled. ‘ISA? No... Of course she won’t take it. Well then it goes to Dean.’
‘Bo, I’m tired, way too tired and exhausted to argue about this right now. I’m going to bed, we’ll discuss it in the morning.’ She went upstairs again.
Sighing, Bo switched off the lights before going upstairs as well, to the guest room. As he got into bed, he thought over the conversation he had with Roman at the hospital. Two important things truly had to be resolved; Carly’s memory and his marriage.
Meanwhile Dean Hartman lay in bed in his apartment; his mind filled with dark thoughts. His work was still not done.
Not by a long shot... he thought as he lit a cigarette.
Click, Click, Click...