He looked up as Bo entered the room, accompanied by another man he recognised as his brother Roman. He tensed, seeing the nasty scowl on Bo’s face.
‘I knew you no-good Alamains would show up sooner or later. Bo growled, glaring at him.
Alamain reddened with anger, bristling. ‘I will not be spoken to like that...’
‘Save the royal theatrics for somebody who cares, Nicky.’
‘Don’t you presume to address me by that name; I’m not a little boy anymore!’ Carly’s son-now a grown man-shouted at back, outraged. ‘And I demand to speak with my mother... right now!’
‘You don’t have the right to demand anything, Nicky.’ Bo replied coldly, disgusted by his arrogance. Just like Lawrence. Although the young man had Clarice’s eyes, he was the living image of his scumbag father who beat her severely and left her to die...and left her in her present condition. ‘Your mother won’t see you. Even if she wanted to, it’s only going to be when I say so.’
‘And who do you think you are that you can keep my mother away from me, especially when she has a lot to answer for!’ He sneered derisively. ‘But then again, why am I surprised? I should have known when she suddenly decided to abandon her husband and son; she’ll end up back with her peasant lover! Nothing but a shameless slut...’
Bo’s palm viciously struck him across the face, throwing him back on the chair so hard, he fell off. Bo pulled him to his feet by grabbing him by the lapels of his jacket. ‘Don’t you ever talk about your mother like that in front of me again, ever!’
‘Let go of me.’ Nicholas hissed, green eyes flashing defiantly.
‘Bo, let him go,’ came Roman’s calm voice from behind.
Bo pushed the younger man back onto the chair, wiping his hands on his jeans derisively.
‘We can’t talk over this situation in the middle of both your tempers.’ Roman went on. ‘I managed to stop Carly from coming down here but she’s obviously going to ask questions and we have to decide on what she’ll be told.’
Nicholas’s eyes darted from him and back to Bo. ‘What she’ll be told? What do you mean by that? What in God’s name is going on here? I demand to speak with her!’
‘It won’t do you any good to talk to her right now, Nicky.’
‘I don’t give a damn what you prefer right now.’ Roman’s voice was now cold. ‘I don’t give a damn about you, I care a lot about your Mum and so do a lot of people. You need to listen to us and listen to us you will. You don’t exist in Carly’s mind right now. She doesn’t know you.’
Nicholas wondered if this was some elaborate expensive joke. ‘What?’
‘She has amnesia, you idiot.’ Bo snapped. ‘She doesn’t remember you, your father or her past. No thanks to your father who almost beat her to death.’
‘Don’t you dare slander my father! They had their problems...all married couples do, but he never laid a hand on her. She’s the one who left him, who abandoned me!’
‘Typical...making it all about you. I figured your father must have fed your enough lies to poison your mind against her.’
‘I know the true facts!’ Nicholas spat. ‘And that story about amnesia is nothing but a fabrication...I don’t believe you.’
‘Yeah well, here’s a refresher course on truth.’ Abe walked in, holding the file on Clarice. Roman looked at Bo who shook his head. ‘You tell him.’ He said, not trusting himself to do so without losing his temper again. He turned away to lean against the wall, arms folded as Roman sat opposite Nicholas Alamain and told him the truth about his mother, Abe filling in some gaps. Nicholas’ expression turned from incredulous to shocked, hands clenched on the table. Given the file, he went through it, his hands shaking as he read through every aspect of Shane’s report.
Finally he sat back, one hand covering his trembling mouth. ‘All this time,’ he whispered. ‘All this time... he told me she was dead.’ He raised his damp eyes to look at the three men. ‘I didn’t know he did this... I swear it. I thought she just left without me...’
Bo watched him carefully. ‘What really happened that night?’
Nicholas closed his eyes. He did it to her because of me. It was my fault.
‘I asked you a question, Nicky. What really happened that night?’
Nicholas managed to pull himself together. ‘Mum seemed out of sorts about two months after we left Salem. She wouldn’t tell me what was wrong and I noticed she and Dad seemed to snip at each other often but I thought they always managed to sort things out. Clearly I was wrong about that, it was all an elaborate front. Sometime later, Dad took us on a holiday in his yacht and one night...Mum came to my room. She said we were going away on a little trip, that she and Dad were unhappy and needed some space.’ Nicholas’ voice shook. ‘I yelled at her. I said I wasn’t going to leave my father and she was probably making him unhappy with her drama. She tried to calm me down but I wouldn’t listen to her. I ran away from her and...’ he couldn’t go on.
‘And what?’ Bo asked, his hands itching to strangle Nicholas as he guessed what was coming.
‘I swear, I never thought he would do such a thing to her, I didn’t!’ Tears slid down Nicholas’ cheeks. ‘I ran into Dad outside and I told him... I repeated what she said to me.’ He bowed his head in shame.
Roman raised his eyes to the ceiling, while Abe shook his head.
‘He said I shouldn’t worry about it, that he would talk to her. I went to bed. The next morning... he told me she’d packed a case and left, telling him to look after me since I wouldn’t go with her. And a week later, he told me he’d heard word that she’d drowned in a boating accident, trying to make it to the mainland. He lied to me!’
‘But you were the one who told him she was leaving him.’ Bo’s voice shook with anger.
‘I was just a boy, an angry, thoughtless little boy!’ Nicholas rose to his feet.
‘You’ve always been blind when your father or Vivian was concerned so don’t expect me to feel any sympathy for you right now. Half the time you gave that woman grief but she loved you far too much to ever see your vicious side. Before you left Salem, I really thought you’d changed. I should’ve expected far less from Larry Alamain’s spawn!’
Swallowing, Nicholas hung his head, wiping his eyes.
‘Well,’ Abe said briskly. ‘What are we going to do now? Clarice is going to demand to know who he is and why he attacked her at Bo’s place.’
‘We’ll just have to play it well for her benefit. We pretend to interrogate him, he says it’s a case of false identity; he gets a slap on a wrist and he’s out of here.’ Bo said, working it out.
‘Is there no chance at all that she would recognise me? I’m her son.’ Nicholas protested. ‘I want to help her with her memory, make it up to her.’
‘That’s partly the reason why we’re doing this, to see if she does recognise you. There’s a chance that she might, if she does; yeah, you can stay and help her get her memory back. If she doesn’t, you will leave Salem and keep your mouth shut. It’s not in her best interest Larry finds out she’s alive.’ Bo said, his tone broking no argument.
‘I may have been a thoughtless little boy but I’m not evil.’ Nicholas replied, chastened. ‘And I don’t see why I can’t stay around and be near her.’
‘That’s out of the question,’ said Abe firmly. ‘Because then your father will come here to see you and everything will be out. You can’t stay here, it’s too dangerous for her...and a lot of people.
Nicholas turned to looked at Bo. ‘She didn’t remember you on sight yet you two are in a relationship again. Am I missing something here?’
Bo didn’t deign to reply.
‘Let’s now decide what we’re going to let Carly know.’ Roman sat down again.
Rafe Hernandez was quickly briefed and told to handle the fake interrogation. Clarice arrived at the station the next morning and she and Bo with Roman watched Nicholas and Rafe talk through the one-way mirror. Nicholas stated that he had acted impulsively and it had all been a case of mistaken identity-the woman in Bo’s house had merely reminded him of someone else. Bo kept looking at her frowning face for any sign of recognition.
‘Lord knows who this woman was to set him off like that.’
‘Want to press charges?’ asked Roman.
She shook her head. ‘No. But I want to talk to him.’
‘I don’t know... I just feel this need to.’
Rafe ended the interview and left the room. Bo stood back, allowing her to enter the room. Nicholas tensed as he stared at his mother.
‘Hi.’ Clarice said.
‘Hello.’ He mumbled, anxiously wondering if she would see anything familiar about him at all, hence he would be allowed to stay and help her.
‘Nicholas, is it?’
‘Yes, but you can call me... umm...Nicky.’ he said, sensing Bo was furiously staring at him through the one-way mirror but was desperate to see if it would trigger off something in her mind. It was all still a nightmare to him, a nightmare that was partly his doing.
‘Nicky.’ Clarice repeated. ‘Doesn’t seem in keeping with you.’
He was silent.
‘Look, I’ve decided not to press charges against you. But I feel there’s more than what you told Detective Hernandez.’
‘I don’t know what else to tell you, Ms Parker. I gave my statement to your colleague and it’s the truth. And I apologise most sincerely for what happened.’
Clarice studied him. He was a handsome young man, from his accent polished and cultured, yet she sensed a troubled little boy inside. For a very strange reason, she felt like giving him a hug, which shocked her. ‘I accept your apology. But I sincerely hope you aren’t going to go around attacking other women under the guise of “mistaken identity” after your release. Because for some reason, I don’t believe you.’ She said coldly. ‘I better not see you around here again, you understand?’
She honestly doesn’t remember me...my own mother, Nicholas thought, feeling heartsick. Maybe she was drawn to Bo Brady despite her condition because her days with him in the past had been all light and sunshine while her days with Lawrence had been all darkness...and he had been a part of it. She was this way because of him, because of his betrayal.
‘Understood.’ He managed to say.
Turning her heel, she left the room. ‘Cut him loose.’ She told Bo and Roman.
Later in his hotel room, Nicholas Alamain wept for hours; wracked with guilt and despair and cursing Lawrence over and over. It had been sheer agony standing in the same room with Carly, unable to tell her the truth...seeing how she didn’t even recognise him. How could he have known it would come to this?
Calming down at last, he drifted off to sleep. And in the morning, he made an appointment with Bo, agreeing to meet him at the docks.
Bo found Nicholas staring at the tugboats going along the river, his hands thrust deep in his jacket pockets. He turned as Bo approached him.
‘I owe you yet another apology Bo. It won’t erase what happened but...I just hope you will accept it. I was a spoilt bratty boy who took advantage of my mother’s love for me. I was the master of manipulation, just like him. And I helped destroy her life. It was a miracle she survived that ordeal... a miracle she came back here, back to you. With what she’s going through right now, I’m glad she has you again.’
Nicholas shook his head sadly. ‘Is her condition permanent?’
‘We don’t know. But Roman’s ex wife...she’s a trained psychiatrist, she feels it’s best her memory comes back naturally. The doctors who tried treating her in the past only made things worse, which is why in the end her brain had to be planted with false memories. Somehow or other, she’s going to remember. We just don’t know when.’
‘I’m not going to tell my father or Vivian about it, I hope you can trust me on that. I won’t endanger Mum’s life for anything.’ He gave a harsh, mirthless laugh. ‘I had the impudence to say she had a lot to answer for when it was I the whole time!’ He dashed some angry tears away impatiently. ‘I don’t blame you for despising me, I despise me. I just hope when she finally remembers everything, she’ll find it in her heart to forgive me.’ He turned to Bo. ‘And I hope you will be able to as well.’
Bo turned away, unable to look at him.
‘I don’t need to tell you this but please... take care of her for me. When she starts to remember,’ he reached into his pocket and brought out a card from his wallet. ‘Call me by any of these numbers, and I’ll be here. Promise me you will, Bo. I beg you.’
Bo turned back and saw the stark desperation on Nicholas’ face. ‘Sure.’ He said at last, taking the card.
That night as they lay entwined in each other’s arms, Clarice jerked awake from another dream. A dream where she was in a candle lit room and she was in a man’s arms. A faceless man with a tattoo, a tattoo she now saw clearly enough to see it was the same as the one on Bo’s back.