Roman laid a comforting hand on his brother’s shoulder, squeezing it. ‘She’s going to be alright Bo, you must believe that.’ he said for the umpteenth time in a low voice, as Hope was several yards away along with the rest of the family, including Victor and Justin who were summoned after Clarice was wheeled into surgery. Ciara was seated on Hope’s lap, holding on to her mother for dear life; the episode at the house had truly traumatized her. Stabbed, trapped in an elevator, buried alive, and almost beaten to death and now shot... all because she was trying to help him. He was personally going to kill Dean Hartman with his bare hands for this; he sincerely hoped Clarice had crippled him for life!
Clarice… Carly. She didn’t remember her past with him yet within hours of coming back into his life she saved Hope and Ciara and single handedly caught the mastermind behind the kidnap. Bo shook his head, still dazed at the chain of events. The kidnapper was right under their noses the whole time; a vicious, disgruntled man under the guise of a loyal, dedicated officer. And Carly… she did what she always did when they were still together; she was there for him in the true sense of the words. It was simply just too overwhelming.
Abe was right now on the phone trying to get in touch with the Director of Salem’s ISA. Roman had called Shane earlier; Carly’s heroic deed was going to earn her a lot of commendations and further seal her stay in Salem now.
‘Grandma… what are you doing here?’ Bo heard Hope say and turned round. Alice Horton was on her son’s arm, her expression anxious.
‘Mickey told me what happened, are you alright darling?’ she asked, touching Hope’s face and leaning over to kiss Ciara, nodding and smiling at everyone.
‘We’re fine, Gram, really. You didn’t have to come all the way here.’ Hope protested but glad to see her.
‘Nonsense, Hope. I had to see for myself that you and Ciara are alright… I still can’t believe such a thing happened in your home. Bo…’ letting go of Mickey, she turned to him, drawing him aside from the others, beckoning to Roman who immediately joined them. ‘Is it true… that the agent who saved Hope and Ciara is Carly?’
‘Yeah, Mrs. H. And Mickey probably told you that she has severe amnesia. She has no memory of us, or of ever living here.’
‘Help me understand this… I thought she regained her memory before she left with Lawrence and Nicky.’
Bo cringed at the memory; more than ever blaming himself. ‘She did. But everything went wrong after they left town. Larry physically abused her; he doesn’t even know she’s alive.’
‘What?’ Alice whispered. ‘How can this be, how do you know?’
‘We got the whole story from Shane.’ Roman replied. ‘And it’s really a long story, Mrs. Horton.’
‘However long, I want to hear it. You’ll both tell me everything later, leave nothing out.’ was Alice’s firm answer. ‘Is Carly badly hurt?’
‘We don't know how bad, she’s in surgery. Why don't you left Mickey drive you home, we’ll let you know...’
Alice shook her snow-white head. ‘Don't even bother, Bo. Carly was like a daughter to me before and after you got together and after what she did today; more than ever. I want to see her after her surgery. I will wait with the rest of you here.’
Both men knew better than to argue. Instead, Bo took her arm and sat her between Hope and Caroline. Stroking Ciara’s hair, he touched Hope’s cheek. ‘Hey, how are you holding up?’ he asked softly. Hope merely nodded, not meeting his eyes.
‘Daddy, is Clarice going to be okay?’ Ciara asked anxiously.
‘She’s going to be fine, little one. The hospital has the best doctors who are going to help her get better. Don't worry about her.’ he kissed her forehead and resumed pacing again. Carly, please... please be okay... he said silently.
‘Carly, is everything okay?’ he shouted as the elevator made a strange noise. His blood ran cold as she let out a scream of terror and the elevator went down with a shuddering crash.
‘Carly! Carly!’ he shouted, terrified, punching the buttons. Nothing. Forcing the doors open, he climbed down the dark shaft, stumbling to where she lay, pushing back the rubble covering her. ‘I’m here, princess, don't you worry... I’m going to get you out of here.’ Finally getting to her, he wanted to weep out loud. She was bleeding from the mouth, blood on her neck and the front of her dress. If she was dead, he might as well kill himself right now. This cannot be happening again, not again... he was not going to lose another love, not now that he was so happy again!
He touched her neck, finding a weak pulse to his great relief. 'Carly, come on talk to me...’ he pleaded. No response.
‘We’ll get you out of here real soon... Come on, princess, come on... hang in there baby... please Carly open your eyes for me...’ he held her head, tears pouring down his cheeks.
‘Come on baby, talk to me.’ His heart leapt as her eyelids fluttered and half opened. ‘There you are...’ he stroked back her hair. ‘No... Don’t...’ he begged as they slowly closed again. ‘Carly, stay with me!’
‘Bo!’ a voice from above shouted. ‘Are you alright?’
‘Get down here quick!’ he shouted back furiously. ‘Carly needs help!’
‘The paramedics are here!’
‘Well, make it fast! She’s dying!’
‘Bo... Bo.’ Bo spun round to face Dr. Lexie Carver and Dr. Bobby Scavo, everyone out of their seats, their expressions harried. ‘Well?’ he demanded.
‘The bullet got near her left kidney and pierced a loop of her small intestine. We stitched it as well as the exit wounds, Dean shot her twice. She lost a lot of blood of course so she’s going to suffer some discomfort for a while.’
‘But she’s okay, right?’ Bo asked, gripping Lexie’s arm.
‘Yes, she is. And very lucky.’
‘Oh thank God...’ Caroline sobbed, hugging Bo who blinked back his own tears. Roman hugged Hope who was sobbing as well. Abe smiled.
‘When can we see her?’ asked Sami.
‘She’s been moved to Recovery now but you’ll all have to come back tomorrow to see her. We can only allow her one visitor right now.’
‘I’ll go.’ Bo said immediately.
‘Fine but only five minutes because she’s in a lot of pain. Come on.’
Hope bit her lip, wondering if Clarice will tell Bo about her foolishness; she felt so stupid and confused right now. Victor watched Bo as he walked away with the two doctors, his eyes narrowed. Justin had told him about her new occupation... an FBI agent; he was still reeling from the shock. And with what she just did for the family, he didn't know what to think of her for now.
Clarice looked pale and fragile in the hospital bed, her chestnut hair fanned across the pillows and breathing shallowly through the respirator under her nose; her arm hooked to an IV unit. Bo moved over to the bed and sank on the chair beside it, his lips quivering as he reached out to take her hand, remembering another time he’d seen her like this. Her body had taken the severe injuries meant for him, including internal bleeding and her lung pierced by a dislodged bone. She’d almost died...
After the stabbing at the lighthouse, he never thought he would see Carly on a hospital bed again. The last time had been heartrending enough; he knew he loved her yet so terrified of loving her; not wanting to experience the terrible heartache and sense of loss he’d felt when he lost Hope. Now it was much worse... she’d walked into a trap meant for him and Victor was definitely going to pay for it. Marcus and Dr. Horton have done their best; the real healing process was up to God.
He smiled down at her, holding fast to her hand, openly loving her and proud of it. ‘You’re the reason I get up in the morning.’ He said softly, ‘to know you... to love you... to get kisses, to see those eyes.’
Carly sobbed weakly, her fingers entwined with his. ‘Don't leave me...’ she begged. ‘I know it’s doctor’s orders but don't leave me...’
‘I won’t.’ He promised. ‘You’re my doctor, order me to stay.’
‘Stay.’ She whispered, eyes fixed on his.
‘Yes ma’am. Now you listen to these orders; close those pretty eyes and go to sleep okay? I’ll be here, I promise. I’ll be here when you wake up... go to sleep...’
Bo took her hand and kissed it; so many emotions running through him. He had no idea what they were nor did he understand what was going on. He started as her fingers moved slightly under his. ‘Clarice?’ he said softly, leaning over her. ‘Clarice, can you hear me?’
No response; then her eyelids fluttered. ‘Clarice? It’s Bo.’
Carly’s emerald-green eyes half opened, gazing up at him. Bo smiled with relief, wiping his eyes with his free hand. ‘Hey you... how do you feel?’
Carly’s eyes closed then opened again, peering at him as though trying to focus.
‘Don't try to talk; you’ve just come out of surgery. I’m so glad you’re awake.’
Carly made an incoherent sound and winced, her face going even whiter.
‘No, no... Don’t try to move.’ Bo admonished gently, rubbing her shoulder. ‘Your wounds been stitched up. You need to be quiet and stay in bed. Okay?’
Carly nodded but looked anxious even in the middle of her pain. With effort, she mumbled something and Bo leaned over to hear. ‘H...Hope...’ she croaked.
‘She’s fine, she and Ciara; thanks to you.’ Bo sniffled, his heart thumping as he gazed at her face. ‘I can’t thank you enough for what you did, Clarice. You saved my family and I’ll never forget it, ever.’
Carly smiled faintly then said something else and he leaned over again. ‘Family... precious...’
‘Yes they are. Thank you, Clarice, thank you.’ He squeezed her hand, tears falling down his cheeks. Maybe she didn't remember him or her past with him and the family but inside she was still the same Carly Manning he fell in love with years ago; selfless... and so brave.
Carly sighed, closing her eyes as she drifted back to unconsciousness. Bo kissed her forehead, his eyes moving down to the rosebud mouth he’d kissed countless of times in the past. Lying there, comatose and injured, she was drawing him to her like a magnet and the connection was strong, very strong.
Your love was a long time ago, his head reminded him as he was about to give in to temptation. A lot of things have changed; Hope, the children and the life you share.
‘You rest now, Carly,’ he said softly, stroking her hair instead. ‘When you get out of here, I’m going to get you your real life back. I promise you, princess.’
It was after he closed the door behind him that he realised that he’d called her by her old pet name out loud for the first time in years.
True to his promise, Bo went to Alice’s house afterwards and she was told the whole story. She shook her head. ‘Poor girl...’ she whispered. ‘And she did this great thing for the family Bo... she saved your wife and daughter, imagine that.’
She took hold of his hand. ‘Are you going to tell Hope she’s your ex fiancée?’
Bo shrugged. ‘I mean to after some time but right now, I don't know. Hope’s still being so hostile towards me; she’s still mad that I offered a reward instead of letting her pay the ransom and with what’s just happened... I don't want her bothering Carly with questions she can’t answer. Nothing’s familiar to Carly right now and I don't want Hope or anyone else agitating her.’
‘No of course not, that won’t do at all.’ Alice fixed her eyes on his face. ‘It must have been a shock for you, seeing her again after all this time, and in this condition. It’s worse than before, isn’t it?’
‘Those damn Alamains!’ Bo gritted his teeth, his brown eyes flashing with anger. ‘They did this to her; first Vivian dosed her with drugs and buried her alive, Larry brainwashed her and lured her away from me and then went on to abuse her! I should never have...’ he covered his face with his hand. Alice was the only one other than Roman who knew what happened between him and Carly on the boat; the painful, heartrending talk that ended with her walking out of his life forever.
‘You had no choice! The damage was already done; you couldn’t tie her up and lock her away- what could you do except let her go? You did that because you loved her, you wanted her to be happy, even if it cost you a lot.’
‘But Mrs. H... Larry never loved Carly like I loved her; she was nothing but a plaque to him, how could I have let her go with him, knowing the type of man he was? I should have sat her down, warned her...’
‘After the way Lawrence made himself look good in her eyes... what good would it have done? I can see that you blame yourself for what happened to her and you have to stop this nonsense, dear. You did what you thought was best...’
‘I loved her, I should’ve fought harder!’
Alice shook her head. ‘You let her go because you loved her; you’re as selfless as she is. And she would’ve done the same thing I’m sure, if she was the one with you when Hope came back to us.’
Bo shrank away from that scenario. He’d left Billie to be with Hope because he couldn't deny his feelings for her but would he have left Carly? Billie had healed the wound of losing Carly but Carly.... Carly was different. They’d gone through so much to be together; she’d been his spiritual partner, bound to him by the symbolic Mayan wedding they had on top of El Castillo in México, a huge part of his life and Shawn Douglas’. With the way she affected him since she came back, he sincerely doubted he would’ve left her and he certainly wouldn't have allowed her to leave him. Mrs. H was right about that, Carly would have stepped aside, no matter how much it pain it would cause her.
‘That’s neither here nor there, Mrs. H. I need to help her get her memory back, after what happened today; more than ever she needs to be Carly again. The dangerous life of an ISA agent is not for her.’
‘What about Lawrence? Suppose he or Nicky come back here? What will you do then?’
‘Hopefully, that won’t happen. If it does, I’ll protect her. I’ll tell Hope about her... eventually.’ As he spoke, Bo wondered just how he’ll go about that task.
At the hospital, Clarice drifted in and out of consciousness, two-second visions flashing in her mind.
A laughing little boy holding her hand....
She lying bleeding in a dark place...
Someone making love to her... the room was lit by many candles... she couldn't see his face... there was something on his back, a tattoo...
A deep voice whispering the word “Princess...”
Clarice fell into a deep sleep as the visions faded, her mind blank again.