Hope stared down at her clasped hands and Bo couldn’t read anything on her face. For almost an hour she had listened to him as he told the whole story, not leaving out what Shane told him, Roman and Abe. For the first twenty minutes she’d stared hard at him then lowered her gaze, letting him talk with no interruptions; which he didn’t expect. Now she was deathly calm, her face expressionless as he ended his narrative. Bo waited for her to say something and when she didn’t, reached for her hand. She immediately recoiled as though he had a contractible disease. ‘Don’t you touch me.’ She hissed, her voice trembling.
‘You’re mad and I understand. I just never imagined I would ever see her again and in this situation. The initial plan was simply help her get her memory back.’
Hope finally raised her eyes and he saw that her face now wore a look of scorn. ‘And I suppose sleeping with her was some form of therapy, huh?’
Bo bristled at the insulting words but kept his temper. ‘Before Lawrence Alamain took her away from me, Carly and I had a life; a wonderful life with Shawn D. She was there for both of us in many ways… I know it hurts you to hear that but it’s the truth. After Shane gave us his report and then she got shot saving your life and Ciara’s; more than ever I felt I owed it to her to help her get her memory back.’ He paused then continued, ‘the rest of it… it wasn’t planned. It just happened and we’re together now. You needed to hear it from me, which is why I asked you to meet me here today.’
‘How convenient for both of you. She doesn’t remember you and you found yourself falling in love with an ex fiancée who left you and our son… an ex fiancée you never told me about! Was losing her that painful that you just couldn’t tell me about her?’
‘I had moved on with my life!’ Bo snapped back defensively. ‘With everything we went through to stay together and the life we had, what was the point of bringing up Carly Manning at all? She had nothing to do with us.’
Hope was silent for a minute, her anger mounting. ‘Well, now I know who really replaced me while I was gone! I cannot believe you did this to me, Brady. I might buy that Clarice… Carly… whatever her name is, fell in love with you even in her present state but you… over two decades of us, you threw all that away in an instant.’
‘You were willing to, the night you moved out of our house, remember?’ Bo replied, his voice now cold. ‘And before you accuse me any further; remember this. I never expected to ever see Carly again. I never planned on falling in love with her all over again but it happened. She’s back in my life and she’s going to stay in my life, amnesia or not.’
‘And that’s because she’s everything I’m not, isn’t it?’ Hope asked adamantly.
‘Let’s not do this, Hope.’
‘No, you’ll answer me right now since we’re being honest here. She’s everything I’m not, right… giving you all the warmth and harmony you didn’t get from me. Is that how she was when she was Carly Manning; agreeing with you every time?’
She knew from the expression on Bo’s face that he was struggling to control his temper and braced herself for a defensive tirade. Bo longed to tell her that while Carly was at times a tad too stubborn- just like her- at least she would never have taken their child away from him or make him feel he’d failed her in anyway, like she did. But he had a 25 year old history with Hope and she was still Shawn D and Ciara’s mother; hence didn’t want to hurt her by comparing her unfavourably with Carly. At the long run, he still hoped they would be able to remain amicable friends. ‘I’m not going to dignify your question with an answer.’ He said instead. ‘I’ve told you what I feel you got the right to know. You’re mad but be mad at me, not her and I don’t want you go confronting her about a past she doesn’t remember or feel that what happened between us is her fault; you know it’s not. And don’t let Victor poison your mind against her either because he’ll try.’
The part about Victor marrying Carly and then battling Bo over her later, had appalled and disgusted Hope. ‘You can’t expect me to believe Victor tried to kill you. He’s many things but you’re his son, his flesh and blood.’
‘Victor’s not above anything and he did try to kill me.’ Bo snapped. It was a very long time ago but not something he’ll ever forget, especially since it was Carly who walked into the trap instead. ‘He even had the boat torched, imagine if Shawn D had been in there when it happened. All because he couldn’t stand the idea Carly wanted to end that sham of a marriage and be with me.’
Hope felt sick at the level of Victor’s jealousy, still finding it appalling he would do such a thing to Bo. Father and son, fighting over the same woman- both men determined to win her. She swallowed, jealousy stabbing her in the gut. No wonder Bo never told her about Carly Manning; their history was something worthy of a movie! ‘I won’t discuss her with Victor.’ She said stiffly. ‘And I guess I have to appreciate you telling me everything. But don’t expect me to carry on as if I’m okay with the situation because I’m not. I’m angry, I’m hurt and I can’t pretend! I just can’t!’ She grabbed her purse and got up.
‘Hope wait…’ Bo rose as well.
‘I need to be by myself right now so just leave me alone.’ Hope hurled at him, tears tricking the corner of her eyes. ‘Just let me be, okay?’ she left The Java, slamming the glass door behind her. Bo sighed heavily. Well, it was done. Hope knew the whole story, now he and Carly can stop sneaking around. He felt sorry for Hope; he would be upset if he were in her shoes. Just as well she left, she needed time to cool off and look at the situation more calmly. Paying the check, he went back to the station. Clarice raised her eyes from the papers she was studying and smiled at him as he entered her office. ‘Hi. Where were you?’
‘I took Hope out for coffee and… I told her about us.’
Clarice rose from her desk, her expression sober. ‘How did she take it?’ she asked, walking to him.
‘As expected, not well.’
‘Oh no.’ She shook her head.
‘Hey, hey,’ Bo said, holding her face between his palms. ‘We’ve talked about this many times, no guilt.’
‘I can’t help it, I really feel bad for her. What woman would be happy knowing the reason her marriage ended?’
‘Will you stop that already? You’re not the reason and I don’t want to ever hear you say that again.’
‘It’s just...’ Clarice paused then went on, ‘you two were married for a very long time.’
‘And she walked out on me and no matter how much I begged, all I got was rejection and then the divorce papers she had me served with. This is the same argument we had when you had doubts about us being together and what did I tell you?’
‘Pretty much what you’re telling me now.’ She replied quietly, fiddling with his tie.
‘So, no guilt because we’ve nothing to be guilty about. We love each other, that’s not wrong.’
‘No… no, it isn’t. But I still feel…’
‘Hope’s going to be okay. After thinking things through, she’ll begin to accept it. She just needs time.’
Clarice nodded. ‘I just hope you’re right.’
‘I am. Stop worrying about it.’ Stroking her hair, he held her close. Clinging to him, Clarice imagined what Hope must be feeling and how she would approach her from now on. And will Ciara remain friendly with her after Bo informed her she was now his girlfriend? Clarice didn’t want Bo having problems with his children because of her; she was yet to meet the son Bo kept talking about. From the way he spoke of him, they sounded very close and she hoped he wouldn’t resent her for being the new woman in his father’s life.
Little did she know that Bo had informed Shawn Douglas all about her via Skype. To Bo’s relief, while his son was not exactly happy about the divorce, his reaction about him dating Carly wasn’t of condemnation either. ‘Not even me, she doesn’t remember me?’ Shawn D exclaimed incredulously, barely getting over Carly’s huge change in professional status and how she’d saved his mother and sister.
‘No, she doesn’t. She saw some old photos of you at Mum’s but she felt nothing familiar. I don’t know how long it’s going to be before she gets her memory back. The few flashes I know of were of Larry beating her but she just thinks it’s a nightmare and an unexplainable premonition. I don’t know if she’s had others.’
‘Dad, this is terrible.’
‘An understatement.’ Bo replied grimly. ‘But I swore I’ll do all I can for her and I will, no matter how long it takes. Roman feels that gradually she’ll start remembering things herself but I’m going to go about digging up some stuff that might trigger something.’
Shawn Douglas had wished him luck on it and promised to come over to Salem on a visit as soon as he could.
‘By the way,’ Bo said, raising her head. ‘I’m taking Ciara out for the day on Saturday. Will you come with us?
‘Of course, I’d love to.’ Clarice’s eyes lit up at the thought of a whole day’s bonding with Ciara. Whether it was because she was Bo’s little girl or she rescued her from Dean; she felt a deep affinity towards her, a feeling she could only describe as maternal. It surprised Clarice she would feel that way, after being alone for so long but it was there, hence the great hope Ciara would still like her after Bo explained the situation.
Bo smiled, pleased to see the worried expression on her face earlier was gone. ‘You’ll see that Ciara won’t change her mind about you,’ he assured her, sensing what still lurked at the back of her mind. ‘She loves you.’
‘And I love her too, I really do.’ Clarice touched his face. ‘And I hope I get to know Shawn Douglas soon enough, I’m pretty sure I’ll like him too.’
Bo thought about how upset his son was over Clarice’s inability to remember him, he would cringe if he heard what she just said.
Hope walked on and on, lost in her thoughts until she got to the docks and stared down at the water.
Severe Retrograde Amnesia. At first, Hope wanted to believe it was an elaborate trick on Clarice’s part. But after hearing from Bo what Shane told him about her, she had to accept Clarice’s condition was genuine. And from now on, she would have to watch Bo with her. The same woman who replaced me while I was gone but doesn’t remember... how’s that for bitter irony? Hope Brady thought yet again, fresh anger and pain cruising through her. I hate her.
She sighed in frustration, her mind in turmoil. How can she bring herself to hate the woman who saved her life and Ciara’s… nearly at the cost of her own. It was no point pretending she was the reason they were divorced. Deep down, Hope knew she brought it all on herself but blaming Bo’s amnesiac girlfriend seemed a lot easier than blaming herself. The family didn’t say so, but she knew they also thought she was to blame for the divorce but will never say it to her face. Who could she talk to about it? After Clarice’s heroic act, no one had reason to speak ill against her. Hope Williams Brady felt so much alone.
She raised her head, smiling faintly at Justin who walked up to her. ‘What’s wrong? Did something happen?’
‘Bo, he… he called me today and he had quite the story to tell me.’
‘Clarice?’ Justin asked warily.
‘You mean Carly Manning, his ex fiancée. You know, a little heads up would’ve been nice.’
‘It wasn’t anyone’s place to tell you the truth; it had to come from Bo. We were just as shocked when she resurfaced right out of the blue like that.’
Hope turned away to stare back at the river. ‘Were you friends with her?’
‘Well… yeah.’ Justin said uncomfortably. ‘Adrienne and I met her on our honeymoon. We mentioned Salem to her and she was immediately interested. She was just starting her internship at the time…’
‘I’m not interested.’ Hope interrupted bitterly.
For a while Justin watched her, not knowing what to say.
‘All of a sudden he fell in love with her all over again and couldn’t wait to get rid of his bitchy, neurotic wife.’ Hope said at last, her voice trembling. ‘I would have a problem with any woman Bo dates but why does it have to be her of all women? It’s so humiliating.’ She felt Justin’s arms come round her shoulders and tried to shake them off. ‘No… don’t…’
‘Don’t be silly.’ Justin said gruffly, turning her round to hug her. ‘If there’s anyone who really needs a shoulder to cry on, it’s you. Just let it out.’
Hope’s shoulders shook as she sobbed and Justin held her tightly, soothing her with soft, consoling words.
Clarice tore her eyes away from the priceless pictures on the walls to find herself staring at Victor Kiriakis’ hard face. For the umpteenth time, she found it hard to see any resemblance between this career criminal and her lover. The few times they met, she always noticed the same thing; the rather sneering way he pronounced her name. At first it baffled her, today it annoyed her. She hoped Bo and Ciara wouldn’t be long; she didn’t want a lengthy conversation with Victor.
‘Mr. Kiriakis.’ She replied coolly, folding her arms.
‘What’s with the formality? After what you did for Hope and my granddaughter, I thought we were past that.’ Victor looked at his ex wife carefully, after all this time still trying to get used to the fact that she truly had no memory of her past life as Dr. Carly Manning. The woman who betrayed him and then left Bo later. She was the reason Bo and Hope were no longer married; if she hadn’t come back to Salem Bo would never have gone through with the divorce. In spite of her heroic act, he blamed her for that. And it infuriated him that even after so many years, despite her new identity; Bo was immediately affected enough to choose her over his wife. What did Carly ever do except keep more and more secrets from Bo and in the end left him and Shawn for Alamain and their bratty son. Now even Ciara was taken in by her.
‘Maybe I’d just rather be formal, Mr. Kiriakis.’
‘I hope you realize the damage you’ve done to an innocent woman.’
‘My daughter-in-law. How do you sleep at night knowing you destroyed her life?’ Hope had returned to the mansion with red eyes a few days ago and it didn’t take him long to guess Bo had come clean with her. She however refused to talk about it with him or about Clarice herself.
‘I am not going to bother dignifying that stupid question with an answer.’ Clarice replied, equally coldly. Her profiler training told her what Kiriakis was doing. He knew the facts about Bo’s failed marriage, as well as everyone else. But his unexplainable dislike for her was giving him the need to demean her… a petty attempt to make her feel guilt for something she had no hand in.
Victor tried to stare her down but the green eyes stared back at him; hard and unflinching. There was a time Carly feared him and he had hoped that fear would be enough to bring her back to him. But Bo, not the least bit scared of him, had urged her to go ahead with the annulment. While she was recovering from the injuries she sustained from the elevator crash, he had used veiled threats to get her to change her mind. But there he overplayed his hand, because she had lashed out at him; her fear of him gone. He could still remember her harsh, angry words.
‘You don’t scare me anymore! You don’t control me like every other woman you’ve tried to possess! You’re nothing but a fraud Victor, that’s all you ever were and what you will always be. I tell you what…why don’t you just go to Greece and retire; stay there. That way, nobody in town will know the truth about you… that you are nothing but a miserable, cowardly excuse of a human being. Now get out of here or I’ll get up and have you taken away! Consider it a final favor Victor- call it *pity*, I don’t care! Just get out!’
Looking back, Victor believed his hatred for Carly had begun from that moment. He hid it very well for appearances’ sake but deep down, the hate was there; growing when she constantly lied to Bo and then went on to break his heart later on. He didn’t believe for a moment their break up had been mutual; all he knew is that she hadn’t loved Bo enough to stay with him or enough for Bo to fight harder for her. She had played them both for fools. And now she was back, with no memory of her sins. Out of the two of them, Bo was the bigger fool, allowing her back into his life and ending his marriage. It was all her fault. ‘You’re a home wrecker and a whore.’ He said, his attempt at courtesy gone, anticipating her angry reaction. Maybe he could still wear her down and hit a nerve as they battled with words.
‘And you’re a controlling and manipulative career criminal who thinks words can break me.’ was her scornful reply. ‘You’re trying to get me mad; you’re hungry for my reaction to your insults. I’ve profiled characters like you and I study behavior so don’t think you can say anything to shock me. Bo is an adult, so’s Hope. She made her choice that night, no one made it for her. She ignored all advice, including mine. So… I have nothing to be sorry for.’
‘You’ll be a lot sorrier when I’m done with you.’
Clarice’s eyes narrowed. ‘A threat?’ She asked slowly.
Victor inwardly cursed. He’d forgotten she was now in law enforcement and Bo and Roman will fall on him like an avalanche if Carly told them what he just said.
Before he could speak, Bo and Ciara came down the stairs hand in hand. ‘Hi, Clarice!’ the child exclaimed, running into her arms.
‘Hi, sweetie. All set?’ The little girl nodded eagerly.
‘Come on, girls.’ Bo said genially, smiling as Clarice took Ciara’s hand. He turned to Victor. ‘Tell Hope I’ll have Ciara back by six.’
Victor nodded curtly, watching Clarice leave with his son and granddaughter. But the ominous look she gave him on her way out told him she wasn’t going to shrug off his words that easily. It was a stupid, impulsive mistake on his part but he couldn’t help it, she brought out the worst in him.
How to get her claws off Bo, was the nagging question.
She walks in beauty, like the night; of cloudless climes and starry skies…
And all that’s best of dark and bright…
‘Princess, are you okay?’
Clarice forced herself back to the present, meeting Bo and Ciara’s gaze. ‘I’m fine. Why?’
‘You’re not eating.’ Ciara indicated the uneaten sandwich on Carly’s plate.
‘And you seem far away. What is it?’ asked Bo.
‘It’s nothing really.’ Clarice insisted, taking a bite out the roast beef sandwich, though she wasn’t hungry like she thought. Those verses keep popping into her head, has been for some time now. It was the poem she heard being recited in her dream. Typing the first line on Google, she’d discovered they were words from Lord Byron’s She Walks in Beauty; a love poem. She wasn’t a big fan of poetry but the words just wouldn’t fade away from her mind. Not sure what Bo would make of her strange dream, she didn’t share it with him; wanting to work it out on her own.
‘Are you sure?’ Ciara placed her hand on her lap, looking at her anxiously.
‘I’m sure.’ Clarice leaned over to kiss the child on the forehead, ruffling her hair. Bo looked at her carefully, wondering if she was experiencing another memory. Back in the day they often picnicked with Shawn D at this very park. Remember something princess, he said in his heart; still watching her. In the meantime he was glad she and his daughter were getting along. It was mostly due to Clarice rescuing her and then later saving her from Dean that made Ciara hero-worship her. Contrary to Clarice’s fears, Ciara’s warm regard of her was still strong and it gladdened his heart.
‘Look daddy, Mrs. Hopkins packed us Sno’ Balls. Do you want one, Clarice?’
Bo watched, his heart beating fast as Clarice took one from Ciara; wondering if she would experience a flash of memory about the rainy night in a cabin… how he’d lit a match on a Sno’ Ball after she told him it was her birthday. The same night they fell in love. It was for that purpose that he especially asked Victor’s housekeeper to pack some.
Clarice stared down at the flaky coconut covered snack. Bo watched in anticipation, willing her to remember that night. But she shrugged then bit into it instead. He managed to hide his chagrin, exchanging a smile with her.
Clarice smiled back, pushing the nagging verses from her mind and concentrating on Bo and Ciara. It was a beautiful day; she was with two people she adored and in a lovely setting…
She stared round at her surroundings, the strange feeling of déjà vu coming over her again. Only this time it was more overwhelming.
As if I’ve been here before, She thought. I’m almost certain of it.