Prologue:

July 24th, 2012

Carly was picking up the baby's toys when she heard the front door open. He's back already! She thought; astonished but very pleased and relieved. When he'd told her he was going to be involved in a major drug trafficking bust; she'd voiced out her worries about his safety but he'd laughed; assuring her that he wouldn't take any unnecessary risks.

'Don't wait up, okay? I'll be home safe and sound, I promise.' He kissed her soundly on the lips before picking up their five month old Troy. 'Take care of your Mum for me, okay little Trojan? Love you both very much.'

'And we love you too.' She smiled as he kissed their son on the forehead and handed him to her. His warm brown eyes met hers and he leaned over to kiss her again.

'I'll be back, don't worry about me. This is something I've done for years…'

'I know.'

He touched her face and stroked her hair, smiled and left.

She'd expected him to be out all night but it seemed like the bust was successful enough for him to be home this early.

'Sweetheart, is that you?' she called. 'Oh…' she said, disappointed on seeing Melanie instead but put on a cheerful tone. 'Hi, this is a surprise.'

Her daughter's expression was strained.

She frowned. 'Is something the matter?'

The three men then appeared at Melanie's elbow, with Jennifer, baffling her even more. 'What's going on, why are you here? Where's…'

Jennifer and Melanie walked up to her; Melanie holding her by the shoulders. 'Mum, you've got to be brave; okay?' her daughter's voice shook.

'What's happened?' She glared at Roman, ignoring the other two. 'Tell me, what's happened?!'

Roman glanced at his companions and seeing there was no way they could say anything; walked to stand in front of Carly, placing his hand on her arm. His eyes wore a look of misery. 'I'm sorry to tell you this, Carly; I really am.'

Carly's blood ran cold. Surely he wasn't about to tell her…

Roman gravely gave her the bad news and she shook her head, refusing to believe it. 'No, no…' she whispered, not noticing Melanie's hands tightening round her.

'He died instantly. I'm sorry Carly…'

'No, No!' Carly began to cry in pure agony, fighting the hands holding her. 'No, it can't be. He can't be dead! He can't be dead, it's not true!'

'I'm… I'm sorry Carly…'

She glared at the speaker. 'You're sorry? You hated him! Why wasn't it you? Why the hell wasn't it you?!'

She sank on the carpeted floor, weeping helplessly; soothing hands trying to console her in her terrible grief.

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'How's your Mum today?' Daniel Jonas asked, walking up to Melanie who was at the nurses' station.

'She's okay. Why?'

'Well, tomorrow's the anniversary, remember?'

'Yeah, it is.' Melanie said soberly. 'But I think she'll be better about it now, a lot better than last year. She grieved but she's tough. She had to be, especially for Troy.' She shook her head, now looking angry. 'Fate's simply too cruel. Just when she was happy all over again, that had to happen! It's just not fair, Dad!'

'I know, I know.' Daniel ruffled Melanie's red hair. 'Carly's been knocked over more than but somehow she managed to pick up the pieces and keep moving on. She's a very strong woman.'

Melanie nodded, feeling very proud of her mother; especially when she thought about all the disappointments and pain she'd had to put up with; including the ones she endured to keep her and Daniel safe from Lawrence and Vivian Alamain. Thank God Vivian was no longer in Salem since Carly was just managing to put the last tragedy that befell her one fateful night a year ago behind her. Like she told Daniel, Carly seemed much better but her eyes still wore a look of sadness whenever her dead husband's name was mentioned.

'So what does she have planned for tomorrow?'

'Nothing much. She's just going to place flowers on his grave.'

'You're going with her, right?'

'Absolutely, no way I'm going to let her go I sure hope she won't feel too lonely while Nathan and I are in Vegas.'

Daniel snorted disapprovingly. 'I still don't see why you guys can't get married here. Maggie's really disappointed about that- she wanted to throw you a huge reception.'

'At the Kiriakis mansion where Mum will be forced to put up with the Hortons and Victor.' Melanie reminded him. 'I love Maggie, I always will but I can't stand Victor- you know that. The last thing I want is for Mum to feel uncomfortable around people who still have a problem with her. I told Maggie and Mum that Nathan and I don't want a lavish do; we prefer to elope instead. Mum wasn't so disappointed since that's how she got married. She gave me her blessing and helped me pick out a dress. Speaking of which… when about you and Jennifer going to do likewise?'

'You'll be the first to know, count on that.' Daniel tweaked Melanie's nose affectionately. As he spoke, he felt guilty about his assured future with Jennifer while Carly, who had protected him and Melanie from her vindictive, psychopath of a husband, was all alone. Of course she had Melanie, Nicholas and little Troy but it wasn't the same as having a man in her life. There were many happy couples in Salem; it must be so hard for her living her days as a widow. Carly needed more than going to work and taking care of Troy but no one dared bringing up that subject. If it hadn't been for Lexie's untimely death; Carly would have left town but the hospital board had insisted on her taking Lexie's place as Chief of Staff, so she had stayed. But since the tragedy; no one has seen Carly laugh or smile, even the few smiles she gave were faint or brief and her vivid green eyes always dull. Daniel suspected it wasn't just losing the man she loved, but more like an illogical resignation that she simply wasn't destined to have a happy ending like everyone else.

:::::::

Like Melanie said, Carly was far better than she was the year before. Dressed in black, she lit a candle in church and prayed for his soul. Afterwards, Melanie followed her to the cemetery and placed flowers against the prayer and a quick dab of her eyes, before accepting a hug from Melanie.

'You okay?'

'I'm fine.' Carly's face and voice were calm. 'But it will always hurt partly.'

'I know.' Melanie hugged her again. 'He loved you. He'll always be a part of you; remember that.'

'Yeah.' Carly nodded. Placing her hand against the stone, she whispered, 'I love you. My hero, my friend, my love.'

Hand in hand, Carly and Melanie left. Thirty minutes later, someone else placed flowers against the gravestone, staring at the name on it. He had been 49 when he was gunned down; a hero to the last.

Why wasn't it you? Why the hell wasn't it you? Carly had screamed at him that fateful night; the night her life was over.

Bo Brady covered his eyes. For the past two years, he could hardly look Carly in the eye; much less talk to her about that terrible incident. How could he ever face the woman whose husband had died an untimely death... because of him?