‘Just when it looks like she’s about to remember something, her mind goes blank again.’ Bo told Marlena via Skype. ‘And she once had a dream of Larry beating her, another time a memory of him came to her like some sort of premonition. I thought she might remember the night I gave her that Sno’ Ball, but she didn’t.’
‘How did she react to it?’ Marlena asked.
‘She kept staring at it and I assumed it might trigger something but it didn’t.’
‘Has she been having other dreams?’
‘Other than the one she told me about, I don’t know. But I was pretty sure she would at least remember the Sno’ Ball; she had a strange look on her face.’
‘Hmmm… she probably had a familiar feeling about it, not exactly a memory.’ Marlena said, going over everything Bo told her, including Clarice displaying her medical skills while tending to the woman she’d rescued. ‘To her, it’s just déjà vu; that feeling of experiencing something in the past even though it’s a first time. From what you told me, she suffered serious injuries to her head and the implanted memories her doctors carried out only made things worse. Her memories may only come to her mostly in dreams, but it’s going to take a long time before she really gets her memory back.’
‘You think she might have had other ones besides the one she told me about? Why wouldn’t she tell me about them?’
‘Because they’re probably too foggy for her to put a face on them just yet. If she saw you in her dreams, it’s definitely not something she would keep to herself.’
‘I guess not.’ Bo frowned. He faced John, who was beside Marlena. ‘What do you think?’
‘I have to agree with Doc here,’ John replied. ‘For years, I thought I was Roman and you all know how it nearly drove me insane trying to remember my past and along the way, I encountered more lies than the truth. It’s definitely going to take a while before she remembers anything. But if you want my personal opinion, I think you and Frankie and maybe Caroline should sit her down and tell her the truth.’
‘Absolutely not.’ Bo objected.
Marlena agreed. ‘Of course not, not yet anyway. You will tell her eventually, but that’s when her dreams- if she’s been having them- become clearer. Just do your best with her, be patient and encourage her to confide in you if you sense something wrong. But also be prepared for the time she will start asking questions. Put together a photo album of any old photos you still got left or anything else from her past with you. Frankie’s still keeping in touch to check on her?’
‘That’s great because he’ll have to be there when the time comes. It could be anytime so you have to be prepared.’
‘Right.’ Bo turned his head as he heard a car door slam. ‘I’ll let you know of new developments.’
‘Fine, give our love to everyone.’
‘Take great care of her, Bo; I don’t have to tell you that, anyway.’ John added.
‘No you don’t.’ Bo smiled faintly, before signing off and closing the lid of his laptop. He could now hear the click of Clarice’s heels as she walked up to the house and went to the door to open the door for her. ‘Hi, beautiful.’ Taking her hand, he drew her inside. In the middle of their picnic, she’d received a call from Salem’s ISA director.
‘Hi, I’m so sorry I had to leave like that.’ Clarice pressed her lips against Bo’s, stroking his cheek before sinking on the couch, peering at the display of treats on the table. ‘Oh wine… cheese and strawberries!’ Picking up one, she kicked off her shoes and Bo lifted her legs to place them on his lap. ‘It wasn’t word from New York about going on a mission, was it?’ he asked as he began massaging her feet.
Clarice’s silence made him look up sharply. Her expression was solemn as she nodded her head. Bo stared at her in dismay. ‘But this wasn’t what we agreed on with your superiors.’
‘We both knew there was a chance I would get called in anyway. And I can’t ignore this, Bo; it’s my job after all.’
Bo abruptly got up from the couch, anger and anxiety consuming him. The main reason why it arranged for her to be on loan in the first place was to keep her under his eye and help her get her memory back. He’s gotten so used to having her around that the sudden news was a sharp reality check, she was an ISA agent risking her life on missions. She believed herself to be Clarice Parker but she was Carly Manning M.D; the woman he wasn’t able to protect from the Alamains. Barely a day after she arrived in Salem, she got shot in his own house, the moment she was out of his sight. His fear of something happening to her was justified that day, despite Roman’s reassurances. She was a trained agent true enough but she was under his protection. Suppose something happened to her again?
Clarice stared at him, very puzzled at her boyfriend’s attitude. It was understandable he would worry about her but she had a feeling it was more than that. Getting up, she walked up to him. ‘Hey… don’t be like this.’ She said, slipping her arms round his waist from behind. Bo turned to face her and she was shocked to see his face so raw with emotion. ‘Don’t go.’
‘You heard me; I don’t want you to go. Talk to them, let them find some other agent… the ISA’s swarming with them anyway.’ Bo knew exactly how he was sounding but couldn’t help it, he couldn’t let her out his sight again. Anything could happen to her out there without him knowing. She could get captured, or shot… or run into Lawrence.
‘I’ve been doing this long before I ever met you. I can look after myself, you know.’ Clarice reminded him.
‘It doesn’t mean I can’t worry about the woman I love!’ Bo said harshly, wishing he could carry out John’s advice right there and then. ‘I worry about the people that I love and care about, that’s who I am, princess.’
‘I know that!’ Clarice exclaimed. ‘But I’ve been on several missions; I’m always careful and focused…’
‘It’s about you, not casting doubts on your capabilities; don’t you see?’
Clarice sighed, shaking her head in exasperation. ‘Bo, even if I wasn’t ISA, I still wouldn’t expect you to hold my hand every minute. I love you but you have to understand who I am too. I know you’re worried about me, but you can’t let fear keep me chained to you every second. After all, I’ve been on the field with you and Roman all this time. And I’m sure you never wrapped Hope in cotton wool either, even if you were always worried about her safety.’ Her words were mildly reproachful but it struck a nerve. Years ago, she accused him of treating her like a helpless damsel in distress and she was angry at the time. I'm not going to cower in the shadows while you play the detective; I *don’t* need a man to run things for her! How can he make her understand the danger she was in without rousing her suspicions?
He took hold of her hands. ‘I’m sorry if I’m being overprotective and weird but after you got shot, right here, I felt responsible for you and I promised myself after you began working for us that I’ll never let anything happen to you. After we fell in love, it became more than that, I got scared of anything happening to you.’
Clarice was touched. ‘Oh… honey,’ she whispered, touching his face. ‘Nothing’s going to happen to me, nothing. I’ll be safe and back in your arms before you know it.’ She pulled his head down and he kissed her fiercely, arms locked round her protectively.
‘Come,’ she said, when the kiss ended. ‘Let’s enjoy the rest of our evening.’
‘Okay,’ he said quietly, hiding his inner distress, frantically wondering how on earth he could stop her from going and finding no answer.
Victor looked up at the knock on his study door. ‘Come in.’
Hope entered, closing the door behind her. ‘We need to talk.’
‘Good… because I’ve been wanting to talk to you too.’
‘Hold it,’ Hope raised a hand before Victor could continue, ‘If it’s about Clarice, I don’t want to talk about her with you. I’ve heard enough about her already.’ Aside from what Bo told her, Justin had included some more info which reinforced her opinion that Bo would’ve found it too painful to talk about Carly. And much as she was still very sore about the present situation, she was going to keep her promise to Bo about not letting Victor influence her or let him know Clarice was ISA. So far, he still thought she was FBI and Hope wasn’t going to endanger her for anything. Victor was a career criminal and now that she knew his history with Clarice, he might throw her to the wrongs hands out of sheer spite. ‘I just wanted to let you know that Ciara and I will be moving out day after tomorrow. We’re moving in with Aunt Maggie.’ Very lonely since Mickey’s death, Maggie was more than eager to have Hope and Ciara live with her.
‘I still don’t understand why you let Bo have the house. You do realize he’ll be meeting that woman there?’
Bo was right, Hope thought, feeling a wave of anger and disgust towards Victor. The reason she let Bo have in the house in the divorce- in spite of his protests- was because of Ciara’s recurring nightmares of Dean attacking them in their own home and shooting Clarice right in front of her. ‘I told you, I don’t want to discuss Clarice with you.’
‘Believe it or not, I’m only trying to be supportive; like I’ve been since the night you moved in.’ Victor snapped. ‘I just don’t understand you, the way you paved the way for that whore, letting her steal your husband from right under your nose. If you had more sense, you would’ve taken my advice as well as everybody else’s instead of wrapping yourself with hurt pride.’
Victor’s sanctimonious airs and harsh words stung Hope so much that she couldn’t resist replying angrily, ‘Wasn’t it your own hurt pride that made you decide to do all you could to destroy Bo’s life and then setting him up to be killed? You were willing to deprive my son of his father! Bo told me everything and I mean everything, so how dare you lecture me about hurt pride!’
‘It was a moment of insanity; I didn’t know what I was doing at the time,’ was Victor’s angry mutter. ‘And it’s water under the bridge, Bo shouldn’t have told you about that.’
‘Right, just like he shouldn’t have told me how you ordered your animals to set fire on our boat,’ Hope went on relentlessly, ‘and then faking your death to frame an innocent woman!’
‘She deserved it!’ Victor snarled, losing his temper completely. ‘Bo treated her like garbage and I did all I could to make her forget him and move on but what did she do? She betrayed me and went back to him the moment he snapped his fingers! She should’ve just died in that damned elevator shaft that night! At least Bo wouldn’t have had to watch her abandon him and Shawn Douglas for Lawrence Alamain… the man she never really got over, no matter the lies she told him! She’s a snake in the green grass and obviously Lawrence realized that later!’
‘No woman deserves to be abused, Victor!’ Hope hurled back, shocked by Victor’s words. ‘And I don’t want to discuss Bo or Clarice with you anymore! Wrap yourself in your hate, I don’t care. Ciara and I will be leaving day after tomorrow and right now, I can’t wait to get away from you.’
‘Go to the devil for all I care,’ Victor snarled at her. ‘You brought this whole mess on yourself so you might as well indulge in your self-pity elsewhere!’
Hope slammed the door after her, her hands shaking. There was sheer malevolence in Victor’s eyes when he spoke about Clarice; his words laced with more hatred than anger. The woman was his sworn enemy, no doubt about it. He might even tell Lawrence Alamain she was still alive. No, surely he wouldn’t dare go that far, she thought, he wouldn’t deliberately endanger Bo… even after what he did years ago. But still, Bo needs to watch his back. I have to talk to him about it. She glanced at her watch. 9:40 p.m. Bo was probably with her right now. She sighed, feeling a stabbing ache in her chest again but it didn’t weaken her resolve to warn Bo about Victor. There was no point talking to Clarice about it; she had no memory of her marriage to Victor, besides the fact she wasn’t ready to face her just yet.
Bo and Clarice made their way through the treats and half the bottle of wine, Clarice refusing another refill when he offered her some. She lay back against the cushions as he resumed massaging her feet. She sensed he was still upset about her assignment; all through their conversation on various topics he was subdued, hardly cracking a smile. She understood he was worried about her but she hated what that fear was doing to him. He’s been in law enforcement for a very long time and has liaised with the ISA from time to time; surely he knew what the agents had to face and risk during their missions. The fact she was his lover shouldn’t make her that different from the other agents to want to shield her every minute. ‘Hey,’ she said, leaning over to rub the back of his neck, making him look up. He smiled faintly, reading the concern on her face. ‘I’m sorry, princess. I guess I wasn’t able to hide how I feel about you going away.’
‘You have nothing to apologize for.’
‘It’s just so hard for me to relax, knowing you’re going out there and wondering if you’ll be safe.’
Clarice moved her legs off his lap and moved closer to him. ‘Well, why don’t I… relax you, right now.’ she whispered before lowering her mouth on his. Bo’s arms immediately went round her, kissing her back passionately.Clarice’s hand moved down to the front of his jeans, stroking him gently. Bo abruptly ended the kiss; his eyes not leaving her face as he tugged his shirt off and stopped her from taking off her top herself by doing it for her; before lowering her on the couch. Clarice arched her back as his warm lips moved from her mouth to the side of her neck, down her breasts to her stomach; unzipped her jeans and tugged them down, off her legs and tossed them aside. Moving over her, he reclaimed her mouth, hungry fingers moving over her soft skin.
After making love on the couch, they took it upstairs and make love again on the big double bed; the first time they’ve ever done it there. Their impending temporary separation further intensified their lovemaking until they lay against each other, spent and panting. Bo cradled her in his arms until she fell asleep. When he was sure she was sleeping soundly, he gently slipped out of bed, pulled on a robe and went downstairs. Finding his cell in his discarded jeans, he dialed Abe’s number. ‘Something wrong?’ Abe asked after the quick exchange of greetings.
‘Oh, there’s something wrong, really wrong.’
Abe listened in silence as Bo explained. ‘What the hell do we do?’ he demanded.
‘Other than telling Shaw and the Director in New York the whole truth about her, what can we do? How will we begin to even explain it to them, Bo? If we tell them anything, they’ll insist Clarice be told too and she’s definitely not ready for that.’
‘No, she’s not.’ Bo ran a hand over his tousled hair in frustration.
‘We just have to risk letting her go, Bo; I don’t see how we can prevent it.’ Abe said soberly. ‘Where is she going anyway?’
‘It’s not exactly a tourist spot; the odds she might run into Alamain are very slim. And if you’re still worried about her coming back safe, remember she’s trained and skilled. I understand your worry and I share it but we just have to risk it. Or… I can call Shane to have one of the agency’s contacts out there to keep an eye on her, discreetly of course. She won’t have to know about it and will keep our minds at rest.’
Bo knew his mind wouldn’t be at rest, even with Abe’s suggestion. All the same, it would have to do. ‘Fine, arrange it with Shane and have him call me.’
‘Honey?’ Clarice said just as Bo hung up. He spun round to find her on the landing wearing one of his shirts; several sizes too big for her. She looked at him, her face flushed from sleep. ‘Who were you talking to?’
‘Abe. I didn’t want to wake you so I took it down here. Did I wake you?’ he asked, going to her.
Clarice smiled lazily, arms moving up to encircle his neck. ‘Not really,’ she replied as his arms went round her waist. ‘The bed just suddenly felt big and empty without you.’ Bo lowered his head to kiss her lingeringly and she clung to him. ‘Mmm… I love you.’ She nuzzled his neck.‘I love you too, princess.’ Bo whispered fervently, hugging her close; hoping and praying she’ll come back to him in one piece, without any shadows following her.