To Bo and Roman’s surprise; Clarice insisted on starting work on solving the case. ‘Come on... you just got here.’ Roman protested.
‘I’ve nothing else to do right now; technically I’m on leave. Besides, the sooner we catch this guy; the quicker your family can breathe easy.’ Clarice said briskly. Turning to Caroline, she smiled. ‘Thanks for the hospitality, Mrs. Brady. I haven’t eaten this much in weeks.’
‘The pleasure’s all mine... Clarice.’ Caroline smiled back but inwardly distressed. So was Sami, and Brady who now recognised Clarice as the woman he’d seen with his mother in an old photo; Bo had taken him aside to explain after he voiced his observation.
‘Please come again, you’ re always welcome here, alright?’
‘I’ll bear that in mind. And it was nice meeting you all.’ She nodded at Hope and gathered Ciara in her arms.
‘I drew a picture for you but I forgot it at home.’ Ciara said apologetically.
‘Oh that’s alright love... I’ll stop by later for it, promise.’ Clarice kissed her again, stroking her hair. Hope couldn't help but smile at the way Ciara had taken to her so soon. Bo on the other hand was struggling to quell the feeling of tenderness within him as he watched Ciara touch Clarice’s face, grinning at her. Again, it was like seeing her with Shawn Douglas. When they were a family and so happy on the boat... Carly tending to both of them and spreading love...
Focus Bo! His head sternly reminded him. That was a long time ago!
Clarice met his eyes for a second as though aware of his thoughts but then turned away, going red again. It was a long time since he saw a woman blush and it was oddly touching. Forcing his eyes away from her, he turned to Hope instead. ‘Are you coming back to the station with us or heading home?’
‘I’m going over to see Justin, to make the necessary arrangements then I’m heading over to Uncle Mickey’s.’
Clarice saw the way Bo’s face tightened but he said nothing; instead he stroked Ciara’s hair. ‘See you later, little one. Clarice, Ro... Let’s go.’
Abe was at his desk when they arrived back at the station; talking to Dean. He rose on seeing Clarice with Bo and Roman.
‘Abe... Clarice here is going to help wrap up this case. Hello Dean.’
‘Sir.’ Dean inclined his head respectfully before looking at Clarice in a way Bo didn't like at all, like he was mentally stripping her naked.
‘She is?’ Abe asked, astonished. Bo and Roman realised they’d neglected to tell Abe about Carly’s new line of work and the problem they needed to solve.
‘Dean, will you excuse us please?’
‘Sure sir.’ Giving Clarice another glance Dean left, closing the door behind him.
‘Will you mind telling me what this is about?’
‘I can explain Mayor Carver...’
‘Alright, Abe. I offered to help Salem P.D with the case; I know ISA don't normally handle this sort but since I’ve nothing to do in the meantime...’ she spread her hands. ‘If you don't mind, that is.’
Bo and Roman saw the look of sheer amazement on Abe’s face and pitied him; they were still trying to accept this new Carly. Roman cleared his throat. ‘Clarice wants to profile the third kidnapper, give us an idea who he could be and there’s a very strong possibility he’s no stranger to us.’
‘Are you serious? What made you arrive at that conclusion?’
‘Ciara told me they blocked her ears with music, obviously this third person didn't want Ciara to recognise his voice. And since he’s still out there, we have to move fast before he tries to abduct Ciara again right under our noses.’ She turned to Bo. ‘Can I see the case file, please?’
‘It’s on my desk. Go on.’
Clarice saw Dean at the water dispenser, lighting a cigarette. He nodded at her, smiling.
‘Officer Dean Hartman, at your service. Are you a transfer, Ms...?’
‘Clarice Parker and more like a temporary consultant. You’re the officer who found the hideout. Aren’t you supposed to be resting today?’ she asked, shaking his proffered hand.
‘Oh, I got sort of antsy lying in that lonely apartment. And...’ he looked pensive, ‘I felt so guilty at how I messed things up, I could’ve have gotten Ciara killed...’
‘Now, now...’ Clarice said briskly, ‘She’s safe and I’m sure Bo doesn't blame you so cheer up. Still, you need to rest that arm of yours.’
‘It’s really nothing.’ He rubbed it gingerly. ‘If there’s anything I can do to help you, let me know.’
‘I appreciate that, thanks.’ No thanks... she thought. What he did was reprehensible; it was just divine intervention that led Ciara to her in the first place otherwise things could have ended tragically last night. ‘See you later.’ She made her way to Bo’s office.
Dean crushed the lit cigarette, his smile fading. Damn it! They’ve brought in an ISA agent and the bitch’s already figured out why Ciara’s ears had been blocked. He had to get the money and skip town before they caught up on him. He already hated Clarice Parker as much as he hated Hope Brady; she must have slept her way up to the position she now held at the ISA- obviously depriving some poor bastard of it.
But she’s a lot prettier though... He thought with some regret. If he wasn't so anxious to leave town he might have asked her out, give his colleagues and the stuck up Commissioner something to think about.
Abe listened to Bo’s narrative in silence. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’
‘Join the club of disbelief.’ Roman said drily.
‘We’re still waiting for Shane to give us answers, and I for one can’t wait to hear them.’ Bo said.
‘How do you propose to help her get her memory back? Have her see a psychiatrist?’
‘Let’s first find out what caused her to lose it before we come up with a solution. In the meantime, we need a reason to keep her in Salem for a while.’
‘Does Hope know about this?’
‘No, not yet at least.’
‘It’s going to be a sticky situation Bo, you never told Hope about Carly; she’s not going to be thrilled about this.’
‘Carly has no memory of me or anyone here, not even Salem itself. You want me to just let her go and allow her live a lie for the rest of her life? Lord knows what Lawrence did to her to make her this way in the first place!’ Bo said angrily. ‘And I’m more than capable of handling my wife; even she can’t think an amnesiac will be a threat to our marriage.’
‘Calm down Bo... I wasn't trying to insinuate anything and if I did, I apologise. Of course Carly needs to get her real life back and I too would like to know what Shane has to say. So... she can’t remember anything? Nothing at all?’
‘Nothing, zilch.’ Roman replied. ‘And Frankie’s away so we can’t ask him what happened.’
Abe frowned, trying to think of possible answers. ‘Lawrence Alamain’s hardly low- profile; if Carly was involved in a terrible accident that caused her amnesia, it would’ve been reported in the news a long time ago or Frankie would’ve told you about it. I just don't understand all this.’
Abe’s words made Bo’s suspicion about Lawrence being the cause mount several notches higher.
‘In the meantime,’ Abe went on, ‘Carly can help with the case if she wants to and if there’s anything I can do to help to jog her memory; just let me know.’
‘Thanks, Abe.’ Bo said gratefully. ‘But for now, she’s Clarice, not Carly.’ As he spoke, Officer Davidson poked her head at the door.
‘Sorry to intrude sir; but you have a video call.’
The three men hurried to Bo’s office immediately.
Meanwhile, Clarice was going through the case file thoroughly at Hope’s desk. Kyle Hobbes had been convicted of sex offences but outside Salem, Bo and Hope never arrested him for any crime otherwise she would have ruled his motive for kidnapping Ciara to be revenge. The woman found burnt to a crisp with him had been his sister, Brenda and she had been a local; working as a waitress in a bar in the lower part of Salem. Hmmm... I can start from there, she thought, getting up.
‘Excuse me, where’s Commissioner Brady?’ she asked a passing uniformed officer on her way out.
‘He’s in his office with Commander Brady; but I think they’re in the middle of something important.’
‘Is there anything I can do for you, Ms. Parker?’
‘I need a car, preferably unmarked; the Commissioner gave me authority to continue with this kidnapping case. I’m heading over the other side of town.’
‘No problem ma’am, I’m sure we can get you one and if you want like one of our officers to go with you...’
‘That won’t be necessary, but thanks.’
Bo, Roman and Abe were clustered round Bo’s computer; listening closely to Shane’s report.
‘It took a long time tracing Carly’s life before she joined the NYPD but I finally found it, through some old newspaper and police reports. Some fishermen found her washed up on the beach in some town in Italy, severely beaten and almost dead; she was in a coma for weeks. All she had with her was a key, a credit card and two passports tucked in her stocking. The police found a piece of paper in one of the passports- name and address of a Mr Emil Standish.’
‘Who was he?’ asked Bo, already shaking with rage at the mental image of Carly lying critically injured and helpless in some hospital.
‘A lawyer. The police tracked him down in New York; apparently he’s an old friend of her father’s. I called him and he told me the whole story. Carly contacted him three months after she and Lawrence left Salem- Lawrence had been abusing her and she’d tried to escape him several times. She decided it was too dangerous to go back to Salem because he’d threatened to kill you and Shawn Douglas if she dared. So her other option was to go to New York and live under a new identity.’
‘Clarice Parker.’ Roman guessed.
‘That’s right, and a new identity for Nicky too; she wasn't about to leave him behind. Emil was to arrange for the necessary papers and passports for both of them and transfer her share of the money left to her and Frankie under the name Clarice Parker to various banks in the States. He registered her new name and sent her the passports and a safety deposit key.’
‘What was in the safety deposit box?’ asked Abe.
‘Most of the paperwork she needed, plus the ones she needed to access her accounts- and a key to an apartment he’d leased on her behalf; everything to start her new life. They’d arranged to meet her and Nicky at the airport but when she didn't show, he guessed something went wrong.’
‘Lawrence somehow found out what she was planning... probably caught her trying to leave with Nicky and... And attacked her.’ Bo said in a tight voice.
‘Attacked is right Bo; broken bones and a severe head injury, the doctors weren’t sure she would ever come out of the coma. Emil stayed with her the whole time and when she woke up she couldn't tell anyone who she was or what has happened to her, the doctors diagnosed severe retrograde amnesia. Emil had her go through therapy but it didn't work; the psychiatrists drove her too hard and she kept having nightmares. So Emil cancelled the therapy, told her she’d survived a terrible accident instead. Before you ask, he didn't tell her about Nicky because he was afraid she would try and get him back and end up dead for good. After she recovered, Emil took her to New York with him. A year after, she joined the NYPD, was there for five years before applying to the FBI. The rest you know.’
‘Oh my God...’ Bo whispered. Carly beaten up and left for dead... why, why did he let her go? He should’ve tried harder, convinced her to stay and mend their relationship; instead he had given her up to that monster who wasn't fit to be around decent women!
‘Thanks a lot Shane, you have no idea how we appreciate this.’ he said at last.
‘No problem. What are you going to do about her now? I asked around and she’s been a valuable asset to the agency.’
‘Maybe but she needs to remember who she is and get her life back, her real life. Is there anything else you haven’t told us?’
‘Umm, yes- Emil contacted Frankie after he brought her to New York but explained it was best he didn't have contact with her in case Lawrence found out she was still alive. Frankie wasn't happy about it but he went along with it and had Emil keep an eye on her the whole time... let him know she was okay and everything.’
‘But why didn't he ever tell me about this?’ Bo cried, furiously. ‘The last time he was here, he didn't say a word... how could he keep it to himself? I had the right to know what happened to Carly!’
Shane looked uncomfortable. ‘Well, the thing is... according to Emil; Frankie blames you for what happened to Carly. He felt if you hadn’t let Lawrence take her away, she wouldn’t have suffered all that time or be in her present situation... he was very bitter about it...’
‘That’s ridiculous!’ Abe exclaimed incredulously. ‘How can Frankie think that about Bo?’
Bo pressed his hand against his face. Frankie was within his rights to blame him because it was true... he had let her go, without much of a struggle... without making an effort!
‘Frankie can’t mean it, Bo didn't want to let her go but Lawrence confused her.’ Roman protested.
‘Just stop, Roman.’ Bo’s voice was quiet. ‘We can argue about this till we’re blue in the face. The only thing now is help Clarice become Carly again, I owe her that much.’ His face was emotional but resolute. ‘And I know just how to keep her here for a long time.’
‘Can I help you, ma’am?’ the young bartender behind the counter asked, eyeing Clarice appreciatively. Clarice held up her still valid FBI badge which served as her official cover identity and his smile faded somewhat.
‘I’m Special Agent Clarice Parker, FBI. I’m investigating one the waitresses who used to work here, Brenda Hobbes.’
‘This morning paper said she was killed in a fire.’ The young man said warily.
‘Yes. Brenda was involved in the kidnapping of a little girl and we’re still looking into it. When she was here, did she have anyone come round her to visit her?’
‘Alan, that’s the owner of this place, doesn’t like the waitresses having visitors; they won’t get on with their work, see. But there was a guy who started coming round here some months ago, would chat with her right here on the sly.’
‘You ever caught his name?’
‘Kyle. She told me he was her brother when I teased her about playing the field.’
‘Playing the field?’
‘Yeah... she already had a boyfriend... I saw him once when I dropped by her place to return her mp3 player.’
‘Do you remember how he looked like... or his name?
‘No...’ he shook his head apologetically. ‘I didn't get a good look at him; I gave her the player at the door.’
Disappointed, Clarice nodded. ‘Thanks for your time.’
‘I’m sorry I couldn't help you more, ma’am. Would you like a drink on the house?’
Clarice smiled, shaking her head. ‘Not on duty but thank you.’
She turned to go but then the bartender stopped her. ‘Hang on, Agent Parker. I just remembered... the guy was a cop.’
‘A cop?’ Clarice asked in surprise. ‘Are you sure?’
‘He was in uniform, yeah. He lifted his arm to light a cigarette and I saw Salem PD’s crest up his sleeve. His Zippo lighter wouldn’t go on; he kept opening and shutting it... I couldn't stand that damned noise.’
Brenda involved with a police officer... It proved her theory; the third captor was someone Ciara had seen before... one of Bo’s men. What will he, Roman and Hope say about this? How will they even begin to fish the culprit out?
As she walked to the car, she went over what Ciara had told her... she’d heard nothing but a clicking sound the whole time. Hang on...
He lifted his arm to light a cigarette and I saw Salem PD’s crest up his sleeve. His Zippo lighter wouldn’t go on; he kept opening and shutting it... I couldn't stand that damned noise...
A lighter? What that what Ciara heard? Clarice got into the car, thinking hard, going over it all. A weird clicking sound...
She stopped cold, gripping the steering wheel.
She’d found him outside Abe’s door, lighting a cigarette, not with a match but a lighter, and opening and shutting it rapidly; click, click, click....
He went to the kidnapper’s hideout without telling Bo... because he had wanted to get there before his accomplices could finger him... he killed them and set the place on fire after realising Ciara had escaped.
‘Dean Hartman!’ she exclaimed, her head spinning in shock. He was the third kidnapper!