Candy Candy Manga is written by Kyoko Mizuki, Yumiko Igarashi.
Candy Candy Manga is written by Kyoko Mizuki, Yumiko Igarashi.
Avatar is drawn by Elsa using watercolor. Thank you, Elsa. See the original with higher resolution, it's much better! The dress is longer, too.
Story starts here¡
ONCE upon a time, Candy was going to a theater to watch a play with the Cornwells brothers and their girls. Candy came with her coworker, Dr. Charles, as her date. When they arrived at the theater, they didn't find Stear and others. Charles then went inside to look for them while Candy looked for them outside.
Candy wandered to the garden to see if they were already there. She sat on their favorite bench next to a pond waiting for them. She saw an old woman, her back bent walking with a stick coming to the bench. Respectfully, Candy got up to give her seat and waited for her friends under a nearby tree.
From the back of her eye, Candy saw a man in an elegant suite came to her direction. She turned around expecting to see Archie. But it's not Archie who came.
"It's you," groaned Candy, annoyed.
"Hi stable girl!" greeted Neal not-too-nicely.
Neal, his mother, and his sister were in the theater too to watch the same play. He was waiting for his mother and sister hanging their coats and other things when he saw Candy was alone. It's a rare opportunity to meet her alone without any of her bodyguards. He then wandered outside to stir trouble.
"Ugly dress!" provoked Neal.
Candy threw her face. Refused to be provoked, she chose not to respond.
"Pony's girl trying to disguise her poor look in a fancy dress," mocked Neal. "Look cheap and ugly, can't hide the fact."
"A scum disguised in an expensive suite." Aggravated, Candy fired back. "I'd rather be a decent ugly orphan."
"An orphan with no manner. Need to teach her a lesson!" Neal grinned devilishly and spilled the wine in his glass to Candy's dress. Her light colored dress got ruined instantly, stained by the reddish color of the wine.
"Oops sorry, clumsy accident," Neal said sarcastically. "You should leave then. This place is not suitable for a poor orphan, anyway."
He pulled one ribbon from her piggy tail, used it to wipe a drop of wine that dripped on his hand.
"Give me that," said Candy angrily. She snapped the ribbon from his hand but he held it still. She kept pulling and pulling, and suddenly Neal cruelly released it. Candy lost her balance and fell to a pond behind her.
"Worthless scum," yelled Candy angrily, trying to climb up from the pond. Her dress and curly hair were totally obliterated.
Neal laughed satisfactorily and made a move to push her back to the pond.
"Stop it," suddenly they heard a voice.
Both Candy and Neal lifted their head and saw an old woman, back bent, walked with her stick to their direction. Candy recognized her as the woman whom she gave her seat to.
"Leave her alone," ordered the old woman.
"Old hag, you need to address me properly when talking to me," yelled Neal to the old woman.
"Ma'am, I'm fine¡ Don't worry. He always does this¡," said Candy. She's worried that Neal would drag the old lady to trouble too.
"Always?" roared the old woman angrily.
She smiled kindly to Candy before turned her face to Neal.
"Bad boy, you are blessed with everything many men could only hope for but you don't use it wisely. Apologize to her then I consider if I could forgive you."
"Forgive me?" laughed Neal sarcastically. "Who do you think you are?"
Neal kicked the old woman's stick. She lost her balance and fell. With difficulty the old woman struggled to rise on her feet. Candy climbed the pond hurriedly and came to support her, kindly helped her to get up. Neal laughed heartily like he just saw something really funny.
"Move farther, child," said the old woman to Candy.
Madly, the old woman turned to Neal.
"Your heart is so mean. You need to be punished."
"Punished?" yelled Neal. "Do you know who I am? I'm N..."
"Who you are won't matter soon," hissed the old woman.
She extended her arm to her stick on the ground and, to Candy and Neal's surprise, the stick flew to her hand. The woman shook the stick and a bright light shone, emanated from her. It was so bright that Candy and Neal had to close their eyes. When they opened their eyes, the light had disappeared and the old woman was gone. What remained was a beautiful fairy with a pair of gorgeous wings. Her face however, was very angry. The stick turned into her wand.
Candy was speechless, trembling in disbelief witnessing the hard-to-belief transformation, so was Neal.
"I will take everything you have," the fairy glared at Neal with distaste. "From now on, you will have nothing but yourself. You will have no more wealth and no identity. No one will know who you are!"
The fairy continued talking to Neal but this time, like magic, Candy couldn't hear what she said.
The fairy said, "You need to learn to love someone and only when the person returns your love can thus the spell be broken and you get a second chance."
The fairy shook her wand. Candy saw an intense light coming from the wand which was directed to Neal. Neal was too scared to do anything, he simply froze. In horror, Candy ran to push Neal to make him dodge the light. She didn't know why she did it, more likely due to instinct. She got illuminated by the light too before she fell and took Neal to fall with her.
"O o, silly girl, why did you run to him?" asked the fairy hopelessly after all hullabaloo was over.
"Well, the magic has been said. I can't take it back. You will be the only one who knows who he is."
The fairy moved her wand one more time. This time she directed it to Candy.
"Don't move, dear," said the fairy to Candy.
WHOSH! Just like Cinderella, Candy's dress and hair were transformed to be more gorgeous than before. The fairy smiled gently to Candy then in a puff she vanished into thin air.
"Let go of me," shouted Neal. He pushed Candy who fell on his leg brutally.
In shock he looked at himself. His black suite had disappeared, his white immaculate shirt was there no more. What remained was a piece of old rag in his body and a pair of old sandals on his feet.
Speechless, Candy examined his appearance. He's becoming nothing but a pauper!
Neal gulped, panic. From the far he spotted his mother.
"Mom, moomm¡ !" screamed Neal calling his mother.
Neal's mother and Elisa had been looking for him. Hearing someone call mom, Mrs. Leagan turned around to the direction of the voice. But as spelled by the fairy, his mother didn't recognize him. So did his sister. Fear for their own safety, they walked hurriedly into the theater. The security guards heard the noise and spotted Neal the pauper. They took him with them to throw him outside.
Candy was stunt witnessing what had happened. She followed Neal and went outside with him witnessing what seemed like magic. Neal screamed, cried, struggled, but there's no use. They simply threw him out.
"Ma'am, would you like to enter?" they said instead with full respect to Candy.
"She's an orphan, I should be the one who enter not her," Neal shouted to the guard.
Afraid his loudness would disturb others, they took Neal farther to the outermost gate. Candy followed him.
"Neal¡ ," said Candy. "Calm down¡ "
"Go away, go away, you will laugh at me," said Neal hysterically. He pushed her and ran away from her.
Candy chased to look for him. But her high heel shoes slowed her down greatly. She soon lost Neal. Couldn't find him, she ran back to the theater to look for her friends. She met her date, at the entrance.
"Charles, sorry, ¡ there's something," said Candy panting trying to catch her breath. "Are they here?"
Charles stared at Candy for a moment, somehow he felt that she looked different than just a few minutes ago. She's simply more exquisite. He couldn't help to take her hand and kiss her fingers.
"Yes, they all have entered," said Charles after a moment. He then noticed that her face was paler than usual too. "Candy, is everything alright?"
What had happened was too dazzling, Candy couldn't even believe it herself, so she decided not to tell. She simply nodded and they went inside the theater to meet Stear and others.
-To be continued-
Thanks for reading.
Chapter 2: Bent But Not Broken
When Candy woke up the following morning, the first thing that crossed her mind was the fairy incident.
Can't be true, thought Candy.
She's sure that Neal must be back to normal by now, spoiled and pampered as usual in the Leagan mansion.
Horrible boy, shrugged Candy.
To not ruin her day, she stopped thinking more of Neal. Instead, she got up and got ready to work.
Candy left her dorm, walked to the hospital just like any other work day. With blossomed heart, she's thinking about her nice dinner with Charles last night. Everything surround her becoming beautiful just like her blooming heart. She kept walking, daydreaming until her eyes caught an unusually large crowd of people at one street corner. From where she was, Candy tried to see what the fuss was about in such an early morning.
Candy saw... something. No, there's a person in the center! Someone in danger?
Her nurse instinct instantly alerted her. Candy rushed to the scene to take a closer look. She saw a beggar lay down on the road. His eyes opened, looked blank. Wait a minute, she recognized the man.
Neal? He's still a pauper!, thought Candy in disbelief.
Hurriedly she jumped into action.
"I'm a nurse, I know him, he's a friend¡ give me a way," said Candy trying to make her way in the crowd.
Candy quickly attended Neal and knelt next to him.
"Neal¡ Neal!" called Candy.
"I want mom," cried Neal tearfully.
Candy was relieved that he could talk.
"I know him. A friend," said Candy dispersing the crowd. "Everything is under control, nothing to see here¡"
"Are you alright?" asked Candy worriedly to Neal.
"I want mom," answered Neal, crying.
For whatever question she asked, that's the only answer she got. She hated him but a voice inside her heart said, a good nurse didn't abandon a person, any person for that mattered... including Neal. Finally Candy did something that she never thought she would do to that boy, she hugged to comfort him. He struggled, but Candy kept hugging him, it was long enough until the struggle disappeared and he stopped crying.
Now, his teeth were chattering, his body was shivering in cold.
"You haven't eaten, have you?" asked Candy in her gentle nurse tone.
Neal shook his head.
"Neal, you need to stay somewhere tonight."
"I want to go home," he said absently.
Hopelessly, Candy was thinking what to do with him. His mind seemed to be in a total shut down as if he wasn't aware of what happened around him. His eyes looked blank and empty. She definitely shouldn't leave him alone. She could not take him to live in a dorm with her either. Pony's home? That's too far.
We need to find a place for the night, decided Candy.
Candy took Neal to sit in the nearby bench and she went to buy him bread and milk. Modest food which he would not even look at now tasted really good for him. While he's eating, she picked a commercial newspaper to look for apartments for rent.
Throughout the day, Candy didn't go to work. She's looking for an apartment to rent with Neal followed unresponsively behind her¡ In the afternoon, finally she found one cheap apartment to rent. She just took it, although it's far away from the hospital. Since Candy just started to work as a nurse, she didn't have much saving. She used almost all of her money to pay for the deposit. That day, she also moved out from her dorm.
"Neal, my money is not enough to pay for this apartment. You have to work, too," said Candy.
"I don't know how," he answered absently again.
As a nurse, Candy understood that it took time for a shock person to go back to normal. She decided not to talk more about that with him, at least for now. From then on, she decided to think of the man not as Neal she knew and hated but as a patient.
Unfortunately, Candy's saving depleted fast. She had to pay for food, moving expenses, bought Neal clothes, and more. In a few days, she persuaded Neal to work again. Neal followed and worked in the kitchen in the Leagan mansion. He was stupefied seeing how much leftover food was in the kitchen, while he and Candy were lacking of money to buy food. After work, he took some leftover food home to cut his living cost with Candy. But at the door, Elisa found it and had it confiscated. She also had him fired...
Depressed, Neal went home empty handedly. Even more depressing, on the way home, he saw fliers that his parents posted to look for him. He was so down with his current situation and refused to look for another job .
Neal spent all day sitting looking outside the window looking so desolate and resigned, so gave up with his life. Candy big heartedly bore it all.
One weekend, Candy was getting ready to go to her regular outing with Stear and the gang. Again, she saw Neal sit alone looking outside the window. This time, she decided to drag him to go with them. She believed that happiness was the best medicine.
"Neal, I'll go to meet Archie and Stear. Come with us," said Candy gently.
"No," said Neal stoically without looking at her.
"Oh no," said Candy cheerfully. She's using her most professional nurse tone like when she's persuading stubborn patients to do something they didn't want to do. "I won't let you sit at home all day by yourself in a gorgeous day like this."
Gradually she won. Neal went with her to the outing with the Cornwells and their girls. Just like a miracle, as what the fairy had said, they too didn't know who he was.
"This is¡" Candy hesitated a bit when she introduced Neal to them. She then chose to make it simple.
"My new roommate, Neil, with an 'i'. Neil Just came from the Pony's home to look for a job in Chicago," said Candy. She added, "He came after you left, Annie."
"Do you know that Neal, our Neal with an "a", is missing?" asked Stear.
"Really?" asked Candy pretending she didn't know.
"Let him be gone forever, we have one more trouble maker to worry about," said Archie heartlessly. Stear and Archie then laughed out loud. "Take his sister with him too."
"Mommy's boy¡ Did you time how long he whined when I punched his nose?" ridiculed Archie.
Stear and Archie obliviously non stopped laughing about Neal.
Neal couldn't stand them. He almost stamped his foot and left. Luckily at that time they had already stopped laughing. In fact, with the friendliest gesture, Stear patted Neal's back.
"Neil, I just made this car. You want to try?"
Archie also with the nicest smile opened the car door for him. "Please get in, Neil."
Neal was stunt. He wouldn't be that kind to someone from the Pony's home, for sure, while his cousins treated him just like one of them. That day, Stear and Archie surprised Neal again and again by their kindness and willingness to treat him just like one of them. They talked to him kindly like good friends, made him feel special, wished him good wishes, and more.
They had a good day together. Candy was happy to see Neal look happy when they came back home. She knew she could always count on Stear and Archie to cheer people up.
That night, Candy again saw Neal sit by the window looking outside. But, this time unlike the usual melancholic look, he looked thoughtful.
"Is that what all of you did behind me? Laughing at me?" asked Neal.
"To be honest with you,¡ yes." Candy felt guilty when she saw he look sad at her honest answer.
"Why did you save me?" Neal asked.
"Ms. Pony and Sr. Lane always taught us to help those who are less fortunate," answered Candy.
"Ms. Pony and Sr. lane¡," regretted Neal. He always laughed and mocked at them. "Thank you, Candy."
"Would you take me to Pony's home one day?" asked Neal.
Candy smiled and nodded.
"You live quite far from the hospital now. When outside is dark, could l pick you up from work?" asked Neal trying to do something nice to her in exchange.
Candy nodded, accepted his kind gesture.
Neal was happy. That was the first time he did something nice to Candy. And strangely, he felt good. He promised her to take her to work too when she had a night shift.
Determined to have people stop laughing at him, the following day Neal tried to look for a job. With no one knew him and without a diploma, all he could do was to look for a low income job. He got accepted in several job openings as a dishwasher, lawn mower, housekeeper,... But alas, due to lack of experience, he didn't do his job well and got fired repeatedly.
First, it was despair which soon turned into anger and determination. Refused to give up, just like war with himself, he fought hard to get a job.
Finally, Neal got a job in the Pattersons. Better yet, they were willing to patiently train him. Mr. Patterson was a lawyer, Mrs. Patterson was a chairwoman in one charity organization. They were much less richer than the Leagans but infinitely nicer. Mrs. Patterson donated their son's used clothes to Neal, too. Their son was shorter than Neal so the clothing looked a bit ill fitted for him but yet Neal treasured them so much. He needed clothing baldy especially the winter jackets.
The Pattersons allowed Neal to take leftover food too which was so precious to him. That night, happily he presented the food to Candy. They ate the food he took home as their dinner fete every day.
Yet, too bad Neal's salary was too low and not enough for Candy and Neal to keep the apartment. But Neal looked so proud and beaming that Candy didn't have the heart to tell him the truth.
Candy was so worried about their financial situation. She could ask Annie for help, but she'd rather not. And she'd rather sleep on the street than ask money from aunt Elroy. She's thinking to ask uncle William's help. She's his legal daughter after all... But George had been looking pensive recently. She wondered if there was anything bad happening to uncle William. She hesitated to add more trouble to the kind man.
With all the complications, Candy didn't talk about her problem to anyone and just kept it to herself. She would have never thought that the problem would later be solved by the man she least expected...
-TO BE CONTINUED-
NOTE: Neal and Neil have the same pronunciation, in English¡
Thanks for reading.
Chapter 3: Steadfastly
Wipe table, rinse cloth with water, squeeze cloth, repeat¡ wipe, rinse , squeeze¡ wipe, rinse, squeeze,...
Neal was wiping tables in Mr. Patterson's home office. With full concentration he kept playing the instruction in his head to make sure he did his job to the perfection.
Five days! And not yet fired, the longest one so far. Neal was so proud of himself. Next time he met Stear and Archie, he would proudly tell them that he had his own income.
Spoiled brat? Leech? Bah! I earn real money now unlike them, thought Neal sourly.
His musing was cut by Mr. Patterson's cry of despair.
"NO! NO! OH! I'm so done... so done!" screamed Mr. Patterson panicky on the phone. "I need someone who can read and write. Now!"
Neal saw Mr. Patterson miserably slumped in his chair and covered his face in desperation murmuring hopeless sentences. Neal started to pay attention and listen to his phone conversation. Oh¡! Mr. Patterson had an urgent case to finish today but his secretary was ill.
Neal's heart danced momentarily.
An opportunity!, Neal thought excitedly. He could read and write! He's determined not to let the opportunity slip away.
In anticipation, Neal was thinking how to tell that to his boss. He should be careful so he wouldn't be accused for eavesdropping and got himself fired instead... Neal waited patiently accessing how the situation developed. Besides, the more hopeless Mr. Patterson was , the more he would appreciate his talent.
Neal saw Mr. Patterson got more and more anxious by the minute. Then he decided the time had come to strike. Timidly, he moved a few steps closer to attract his boss' attention. He put a smart but innocent look in his face.
"Mr. Patterson, I can read and write," said Neal cautiously. "I can type too."
Mr. Patterson opened his eyes wide and looked at Neal in awe. With the happiest gesture he took the cleaning cloth from Neal's hand and gave a book instead to test his writing and reading skill.
Putting the most professional air in himself like what his father had been telling him since¡ as long as he remembered, Neal executed the task the best he could.
"Perfect!" Mr. Patterson was satisfied with Neal's performance. Neal's heart fluttered with pride, jumped high to the star.
That day, Mr. Patterson took Neal to the court. He couldn't be happier when he won the case. Above all, unlike other maids, the grateful boss noticed that Neal had exception businessman air in look and manner. Mr. Patterson then took Neal to work in his law office as a public relation.
Yeah!, thought Neal after his boss told him the amount of his new salary.
In the past, he would laugh at the amount. Elisa couldn't even buy her favorite brand of shoes with that amount of money. But now it meant the whole world to him! He and Candy now had a stable combined income together!
What an unexpected turn of situation! Neal proudly stared at his little corner and humble desk in the office. It had a typewriter on top of it, pens, paper and a bottle of ink. It's nothing compared to his huge office and mahogany desk in the Leagan corporation, but to him it couldn't be more precious...
Candy, however, didn't know about Neal's recent job promotion. Unaware of his job change and promotion, Candy only noticed that Neal stopped taking dinner home. She thought he lost his job again.
On the day the apartment rent was due, Candy got overly depressed. There's no way she could pay that amount of money.
Neal picked her up at the hospital and they walked home in silence as usual. Neal had stopped provoking her and they never fought anymore, but they're not friends either. They rarely spoke to one another.
In silence, Candy was thinking about the apartment rental fee and what excuse to give to the manager for not being able to pay fully. They might be kicked out from the apartment. What a disgrace. They might need to move out to a cheaper apartment, much farther away from the hospital¡ How horrible...
"You need to pay for the rent today, don't you?" asked Neal suddenly breaking the silence.
Candy nodded absently.
Neal took his salary from his pocket and gave it all to Candy. She was stunt.
"H-Huh?" Candy stammered. The least she expected from him was to give her money.
"Got promoted," shrugged Neal shortly.
"Ah¡ !" shrieked Candy jubilantly. "Neal!"
To his surprise, Candy jumped and hugged him. She asked him to tell the story in details and showered him with glowing praises in return. She's been so worried stricken about their dire financial situation. Now, with their current combine income, they'd have no problem to retain their apartment.
Neal was so sure that he's blushing. He felt Lucky that Candy was hugging him so she couldn't see his face. He never felt more like a man than at that moment.
By now, Neal had understood how much Candy had been worried about their financial situation. He tried to contribute more concrete action in the matter. He argued that they could use half the amount of light bulbs if both of them stayed at the living room at night.
"Uh¡ Ooh?" Candy managed, trying to digest his arguments.
She didn't quite get it, but the idea seemed interesting. From then on, unless Candy went for a date or had a night shift, they always stayed in the living room together after dinner. They read, replied letters, and more in that one modest room. Candy taught him how to sew to fix his ill-fitting clothing too. Gradually, they started to chat.
The used newspaper Candy took home from the hospital was the only entertainment they had. They talked about whatever topic they read in there.
"Wow, look who's coming to Chicago," began Candy eagerly. "Terry! Do you remember him? St Paul, London."
She pointed to a big photo in the front page of the entertainment section of the newspaper.
Neal nodded. Of course he remembered. Like everyone else in St. Paul, he knew that she and Terry were a couple .
"I'll go! Who knows I can meet him!" said Candy excitedly.
"Long distance relationship sucks. Why didn't you live with him?" Neal couldn't help to comment.
"He left me suddenly in London," said Candy. "We then lost contact."
He left her?, thought Neal, stunt. Why would somebody want to do that? He caught the sentence just in time before it left his throat. He stared at her silently with mouth slightly open.
"What?" asked Candy stared at him back.
"Nothing," he quipped, stopped looking at her. "He's rich and famous! Go get him. Tell him that you want to live with him."
"You go too? Take my friend as your date," invited Candy.
Neal shook his head.
"Nope! The ticket is too expensive¡ I'll stay at home," replied Neal.
At the anticipated night, Neal took Candy to the theater. The theater was so crowded. People were screaming, shouting waiting for their favorite actor to come. Candy joined the crowd while Neal went back home.
Back at home, the usually warm and cozy living room seemed barren. Reading newspaper didn't feel as much fun anymore. Neal then took one blanket and went outside to the park. He lay flat on the grass, put his head on his folded arms. He closed his eyes, supposedly to start lamenting his life. But that night, something else passed through his mind¡ the blonde girl with green eyes who recently had been turning his head upside down.
Ever since they're in a friendly term, he noticed this unknown urge to get closer to her whenever they're together. Her smile shook his soul. He had never stared at a girl's eyes without having that unknown feeling stinging inside his chest like when staring at hers.
Staring at the night sky, he kept musing¡ thinking about Candy. Despite lacked of luxury, life was never this wonderful... Strange...
"Neal!" a familiar voice broke his muse.
Candy? Neal sat up right away. It's so unexpected. His heart jumped, flooded with a sense of relief. He hadn't expected to see her until tomorrow.
"How's Terry?" asked Neal.
"Didn't meet him," said Candy.
"Went to the hotel to look for him¡ And a girl¡ a very beautiful girl said he's sleeping."
"I saw him¡," reflected Candy. "I shouted his name, he turned his head to my direction... but, he didn't see me."
Her voice broke. Neal held her hand.
"Don't worry. You try again next time. Now, let's count the shooting star. I've got ten. When we get twenty, we go home. Come here."
Neal shared his blanket with her.
"How do you know that I'm here?" asked Neal.
"Where else?" replied Candy.
She felt much better being with a familiar company. And he felt wonderful. Undoubtedly, everything turned to be more beautiful when she's around¡
Thus, life went on. Neal started to forget about the fairy, never cried about the past anymore and got immersed, totally, in his new life.
As for Candy, unexpectedly she received a letter from Terry and both started to write to one another flourishingly. Career wise, she worked and studied hard. She passed more exams and became a higher level nurse.
Candy made more friends too in the hospital. Friday night without night shift was the most anticipated time for these young nurses. After work, Candy always saw one by one ran to the arms of their beloved who came to pick them up.
"Candy, see him ?" asked Candy's best friend, nudging her arm. "I'm thinking to let him drill me tonight." She giggled in Candy's ear. "My first time! Oh! So excited."
Candy covered her mouth with her hands and laughed. "Ohh! Where?"
"Home. My parents are out of town." Candy's friend winked. "You should do it too with Dr. Charles!"
Her friend waved and ran to her man.
"Tell me on Monday!" said Candy softly so her man couldn't hear it. Her friend understood what she said from her mouth movement. She nodded and winked. Candy saw her friend impatiently jump to her man's arms, put her head on his shoulder and they walked away arm in arm.
Candy sighed and walked gloomily to Neal who picked her up at the usual place.
"I hate long distance relationship," complained Cady. "Now is the weekend, I am walking with you. And Terry¡ who knows with whom he is with right now."
Candy shivered thinking about that beautiful woman in the hotel.
"Take Charles then¡," said Neal.
"He's adorable, but¡ argh doctors¡," said Candy. "Had enough of doctors at work, don't need one more at home."
"Move to New York!" suggested Neal. "His career is there. You know how hard it is to build a successful career from scratch."
"I don't mind to move," said Candy. "But he has to be the one makes the initiative to invite me and send me the ticket."
"Don't be too hard on him," consoled Neal. "I'll buy you the ticket. Happy?"
Candy didn't expect to hear that. She startled.
He nodded. "Yup. I'll get my next salary on Monday. I'll buy you the ticket to New York."
"Thank you," replied Candy. She lifted her head and smiled at him. For seconds their eyes met. He grinned, brown eyes blazing. At the sight, her stomach twisted achingly, somewhere deep inside felt uncomfortable.
He's so eager to have me move to New York! Why? Doesn't he like me here? thought Candy.
"Are you free tonight?" asked Neal anxiously after a long dreadful pause.
The moon looked big and round. He's imagining sitting at the lakeside watching the moon together with her. How lovely it would be.
"No, I'll go to have dinner with Larry. Why?" responded Candy.
His heart shrank instantly.
"Oh, great!" Neal said instead, lying. He tried to sound cheerful. "He's not a doctor?"
"No, someone in the administration," she smirked.
She and her men¡ there will never be enough room for me, thought Neal quietly.
At home, Candy went to her room to get ready for her dinner with Larry.
Go to New York without Neal?, Candy thought unexpectedly while brushing her hair.
Neal was different now. He could be gentle and fun to be with, too. Oh, how she adored his intelligence. She liked it when he gave her attention. He's so unlike anyone else caring, gentle but yet exciting not boring.
What am I thinking?, thought Candy , knocking her head to a table. He's not my friend, I'm helping him only temporarily.
Candy changed her dress and looked at herself in the mirror. Everything looked perfect except the scarf. She could not decide which one to use. Spontaneously, she went outside to ask Neal's opinion as usual.
"Should I wear the brown scarf or the green one?" asked Candy.
Neal examined her for a while and answered, "Green, it fits with your blouse."
With confidence, she took the green scarf instead.
"How do I look?" asked Candy brightly.
Beautiful, very beautiful, Neal said admiringly to himself. If only he could take her hand, hold her close and stare at her eyes all night long.
"Perfect," he answered, trying to look as cheerful as a contented brother to his sister.
With his approval, her confidence jumped soaring high. Unconsciously the troubling thought of moving to New York crept up again.
"What will you do after I move to New York?" asked Candy .
"Move to a smaller apartment," Neal answered with a grin.
Candy laughed but that sheer of odd discomfort in her stomach was back at the thought that she would go out without him.
Someone knocked at the door. She opened, left, and banged the front door. Bam! Then silence.
Neal drew a deep breath.
Candy, thought Neal.
He sighed thinking how much time he had spent torturing her in the past, and in return of his nastiness, she helped and cared for him. She's beautiful¡ inside out¡ It's always his goal now to see her happy but strangely he's not happy seeing her happily go out with another man.
-TO BE CONTINUED-
Thanks for reading. Thousands gratitude for coming to read the story.
Many many special thanks for the reviewers and followers. Thank you so much!
Chapter 4: Christmas Party
Neal stared at his paycheck with a withering glare. He blamed himself for suggesting an idea as absurd as buying a train ticket for Candy to go to New York. With regret, he strolled languishly to the hospital to pick her up. At the hospital, he didn't find Candy, one girl told him that she had gone home early. Neal then went home.
At the apartment's front door, Neal stood blankly staring at it, preparing himself to say something he didn't want to say. He tried to relax, put a cheerful air in his face. Exhaling deeply, he bravely opened the door.
"Candy!" he breathed. "Let's go to buy your ticket to New York," he tried to sound excited. Hearing no response, he shouted louder. "Candy! Candy! New Yok!"
Candy suddenly appeared from his room.
"Ssh!" said Candy, pressing her finger on her lips. She pulled Neal's arm to talk quietly with him in the kitchen.
"Remember last week I told you about Mr. Albert, the amnesic patient from room 0? I took him home today. He's in your room, sleeping," said Candy in a low voice. "The hospital doesn't want him."
"Oh...," said Neal, instantly wondering about New York.
"Now Albert is here, I can't go to New York," said Candy. "Would you mind to have Albert sleep in your bed tonight? He's weak and sick. I owe my life to him."
Wow, she won't go to New York?, Neal thought excitedly.
"No, I don't mind," said Neal trying to appear cool. "This is your apartment! Yes, Mr. Albert can sleep in my room." He wouldn't mind to sleep on the lawn if necessary as long as she didn't leave.
Thus, Candy and the two unknown-wealthy-heirs lived together in that tiny apartment. Stear, Archie, and the girls came to help them rearrange the apartment, moved some furniture and other things so it could fit three people.
Stear and Archie climbed the stairs, taking a huge metal object with them. It looked like a half ellipsoid with two arms and four wheels. Archie helped Stear to push the object inside the apartment.
"Let me introduce... X-bot," announced Stear proudly. "This robot will do the moving for us today."
"He wished!" jested Archie. "Of course, it won't happen."
He used a low voice but on purposely loud enough so Stear could hear it. Archie winked.
"Don't listen to him," fought Stear back.
"Want to bet?" yawned Archie. "Five? Ten? Twenty malfunctions?"
The two were trapped in a heated jest.
It's almost funny, Neal thought gleefully. He wondered why he hadn't thought about it that way in the past.
Neal noticed when his cousins saw Candy appear with Albert, they stopped arguing right away. They hugged and greeted homeless amnesic Albert cordially. Stear even came to approach Pouppe which Neal hadn't had the guts to touch yet. Pouppe had been so poorly taken care of since Albert had an amnesia. He lost so much hair, leaving patches of visible skin. It looked simply too disgusting for Neal but apparently not to his humble cousin...
"Remember me, Pouppe?" asked Stear kindly.*
Stear dag his hand into his pocket and took some nuts out. He put the nuts in his palm to attract the animal's attention. Pouppe noticed and seeing no objection from Albert, he then climbed up to Stear's palm. Stear patted and hugged the animal kindly while he's eating on his palm.
The brothers also asked about Neal's job and cheered generously when listening to his success story. There's just one word to accurately describe Neal's admiration to them, awesome.
After the chatting, cheerfully the brothers got up to help them moving furniture. The robot died many times as Archie had predicted. Stear spent a lot of time fixing it more than to actually move the furniture, according to Archie nevertheless. Archie grumpily complained that Stear could have been more useful to their moving operations without the robot helper¡
While the men were busy, Annie , Patty, and Candy were cleaning up and chatting. They chatted about various things but as usual it always came back to the topic they thought most fun to talk about with their single friend, about men. They non stopped teasing her about her two handsome roommates.
"With these two around, do you still consider your coworkers or your pen pal, Terry?" Patty giggled.
"Will you date one of them?" asked Annie.
"Albert is¡ well¡ Mr. Albert¡ He's my savior. While Neil is¡ just a roommate," Candy blushed a little. "My coworkers are fun, and Terry¡ well¡ he's an old friend. What do you think?"
The girls were looking at one another thoughtfully, taking her question seriously.
Annie started. "Albert is dashing. Blonde like you."
"Brilliant blue eyes," added Patty.
"A great match. But, I notice, unlike your coworkers, Neil makes you spark," continued Annie.
Patty nodded in agreement.
"Pick someone in Chicago, Candy. Whoever he is, it's better than a long distance relationship!" snapped Patty.
"I don't think I could live without seeing Archie more than three days," said Annie meekly.
"Me too with Stear," nodded Patty.
"Well," said Candy finally after some extended pause. "Let's join the boys."
"No, I won't. I had a fight with Archie this morning," said Annie. She twisted her lips and put an angry look on her face.
"Oh?" said Candy worriedly
"'Oh' you said?" mocked Patty. "What hot is how he'll make up to her tonight."
Annie giggled. Patty laughed.
Candy smiled. It's good to see their happy face. She'd miss them if she moved to New York. New York was simply far. And what about Ms. Pony, Sr. Lane..., her job and friends in the hospital?
Then, she saw Neal move a cabinet. All muscles in her belly crunched instantly. That man especially... It's hard to imagine life without having him around... Argh¡ her current life was simply great, couldn't imagine any other way. Her mind whirled.
Whatever, she thought. She waived all the thought and just tried to relax, enjoyed the time with her friends.
They had a good day that day. Albert cooked for dinner. His food was simply delicious, it surprised even himself. He didn't remember that he could cook! After working hard moving furniture, the men were simply hungry, they finished everything, not a crumb of bread was spared.
Candy had such a good time, it was so beautiful that she decided not to think about New York until, at least, Albert got well.
A few days later¡
"Neal, remember to come one hour later. Join me at the party," reminded Candy before he left for work.
Christmas was coming. That afternoon the hospital held the yearly dancing party for the staff.
"Ok¡," answered Neal.
"Go inside, look for me," emphasized Candy.
That evening at the party, Candy was dancing alternatively with various men who she used to think were fun. It was not anymore. She wanted to go home, but Neal had not come yet to pick her up. She blankly watched her friends who passionately danced with their dates while waiting for Neal. Clock kept ticking and he was still nowhere to be seen. In annoyance, Candy sat with a group of people just for the sake to save her face from sitting alone and pretended to chat and enjoy the party.
"I wish I had a doctor as a boyfriend," one new incoming nurse complained. "They're just¡ WOW, aren't they?"
"Take Charles. Dr. Charles. He's free," said Candy who overheard her.
"That dashing surgeon? Are you serious?" she gasped.
"Yes. Charles is all yours," said Candy.
Her friend hugged Candy appreciatively and left the table to hunt for the awesome doctor.
Bored, Candy's eyes started to wander. At some point, it hit the exit door. She saw Neal. He was standing at the doorway, staring at her. When her eyes met his, he grinned at her. That familiar face made her heart bloomed with thousand roses. As if cloud just being lifted up from him, suddenly he never looked more adorable. She laughed to herself and smiled at him at the same time. It suddenly cleared what was missing. It's so simple, just the guy next door¡
One friend saw Candy's face shone suddenly and followed her eyes. She recognized Neal.
"You dumb Dr. Charles for him?" she whispered in astonishment.
"No way! He's what? Entry level clerk?" Candy's friend persisted. "Hello Candy! You should pick a man based on his potential not just by looking at his handsome face," she waved her palm in circular motion in front of Candy's eyes. "What can he buy you?"
"He is smart, intelligent, and¡ kind," said Candy softly as if talking to herself. "Very kind¡"
Candy smiled contently. She excused herself and went jovially to Neal.
"How long have you been waiting?" asked Candy. "Why didn't you enter?"
"A while," grinned Neal. "With this shirt? They wouldn't let me in!"
"I'll tell them that you're my friend. Come, er¡ I'll introduce you to girls."
"No, no. Thank you. Trust me, no one who sees my clothes would want to dance with me," insisted Neal.
"Why not," said Candy. "Come, you have enough time for the last dance."
"No," said Neal determinedly. "You go, I wait."
"Would you like to dance with me then?" asked Candy meekly.
"You...? No. Especially not with you."
"I'm not good enough for you?" Candy asked dryly.
"I'm not good enough for you." Neal took a deep breath. "There're doctors, professionals, nice looking people in suite inside. You should dance with them not me."
There's a sense of ache passed briefly across his face which disappeared as soon as it came. He pointed to a group of people who used to treat him with the utmost respect.
"Those folks over there¡ See them? They're the foundation board of directors who channel grant to many important hospitals in Chicago. You should dance with them¡ or their sons."
"I don't want them," said Candy stubbornly. She grabbed his manly hand with her both hands and played with it lightly with her hands. "You're better than them. You're ¡ handsome, the most handsome of all. They're nothing compared to you."
Her voice was so soft, the last sentence was barely audible. She didn't know why but she suddenly wanted to dance with him and tell him that. She saw his gaze deepened and her eyes flattered under it. Looking down the floor, she saw him slowly get up and offer his arm.
"Would you dance with me, Miss Ardlay?" he invited softly.
She nodded. She put her hand in his arm and took him to pass through the security guards.
"He's my friend," said Candy. The guards who knew Candy let Neal in.
They entered just in time for the last dance. Holding the girl who invited him to dance and who meant the world to him, he made his way steadily to the dance floor, to the very center. He wanted everyone to see him dance together with the dear girl.
So, they danced.
He embraced her exactly the way she had been imagining what a perfect embrace should be. Never before she got so lost in dancing. He made her feel like a dancing goddess. It's not the music, it's not his technique, or his movement. It's his passion. She forgot to breath and anything else. All she wanted was to press her face on his shirt, cling to his arm, and never let him go.
When it's over, It took her a minute to remember where she was. He never looked more handsome to her.
"You're¡ awesome!" said Candy, breathlessly.
"Finally, you noticed," Neal said softly.
He moved a centimeter closer to touch the tip of her finger to see if she pulled away. She didn't. With heart beaming with hope, he took her hand and kissed her fingers. She still didn't pull away. He then took her whole hand in his, clasped it tightly as they walked back home. Like him, her heart was beating like mad, happiness was bursting all over her.
He unlocked the door as usual, let her enter first as always, then closed the door. Unlike usually, however, this time he stood facing her.
"What you said just now, was it true?" he asked gently.
Candy lifted her eyes briefly, blazing with tenderest affections, and looked into his.
"Yes," she whispered and hid her face under her fluffy hair to avoid his glare.
That was more than Neal could have hoped for. He pulled her closer to him, one hand on her waist and the other gently brushing her chin. He tilted her chin up to meet her eyes showing his love, revealing concealed dreams and hopes inside him. Gently cradling her face with his hands, he then lowered his lips to kiss her.
It was hypnotic. Stronger than anything else she knew that he's the one she's been looking for. Her heart was happy more than it had ever been. She wished time would stop right there so she could blissfully stay locked melting in his lips forever.
Too bad, their ears soon caught the sound of rattling keys at the front door. The door was soon flung opened and Albert entered. Candy quickly withdrew, pushed Neal, and jumped three steps away from him.
"Hello Candy. Hi Neil!" said Albert merrily. "I got a part time job as a dishwasher! Look at the three cups they let me take home! Each has our initial A, C, and N! Let's use them for dinner!"
"Oh ho¡ Albert!" squeaked Candy. "Nice cups. Can you already work?"
To hide her embarrassment, Candy paid extra long attention at the cups. She wondered if Albert could tell what she was doing with Neal.
"Absolutely¡ Can't wait to use this¡," said Albert pointing to enviable bulging muscles in his bicep. "How's the dancing, Candy? You look stunning."
-TO BE CONTINUED¡ª
* Albert and Pouppe had already met the Cornwells and their girls in London (from manga)
Thanks for reading. Your participation is highly appreciated.
Chapter 5: Too Late¡?
"I go to bed¡," said Candy excusing herself from the two men. "Early! The dancing was tiring¡," she laughed awkwardly. Her heart was beating so hard at Neal's kind gaze. "Good night."
She waved and disappeared into her room.
Yes!, whispered Candy excitedly as soon as she closed the door.
She leaned at the door, smiling thinking about the kiss. It was so easy to accept. It was beautiful and she wanted to have more. Reflecting for a while, she then went to her desk. She picked a pen and paper to write Terry a letter telling him about her decision.
Suddenly, she felt so light and free. The cloud which had been lingering in her head in the past weeks were gone, swept away by that one kiss.
Too bad there's Albert outside, she giggled. She really wanted to come to visit Neal in his room.
Well, Neal usually had breakfast much earlier than Albert. She could get up early to talk to Neal privately. A great plan! She's then planning her speech to tell him how much she liked him which she recited again and again. Engulfed with the passion of excitement, Candy dozed off, dreaming of Neal.
As planned, Candy got up early to meet Neal at breakfast. She tiptoed to the dining room to not wake up Albert. Oh! She couldn't wait to jump to Neal's chest, tell him softly about her feeling, and taste his soft warm lips once again.
But there's someone else there already.
"Oh Albert," she greeted, half surprised half dismay. "You're early today."
"First day of work, shouldn't be late," said Albert with his most enchanting smile.
Albert's presence made Candy feel unbearably uneasy with Neal. She's so nervous that Neal would come to kiss her or to hug her romantically in front of Albert without first giving Albert a proper explanation. Oh! She wouldn't want any scandal*. How would Albert interpret that? Albert always thought that she's a good girl. She was a good girl! And what if the information got leaked to the apartment manager... She had told her and all neighbors that Neal was her brother.
Nervously, whenever Neal got closer, Candy moved to the other end of the table. She didn't even dare to look at his eyes. She gabbled ceaselessly to Albert until she finished her breakfast leaving no room for Neal to speak a word or to interact with her. She hugged Albert and Albert kissed her cheek when she left to work. Ignoring Neal, Candy dashed to work without saying a word to him.
She's angry, Neal mistakenly interpreted her action.
Neal worriedly ran after her to explain about the incident last night. He caught her just in time before she entered the hospital.
"I'm sorry about last night," said Neal, holding her elbow. "I shouldn't¡"
She cut him off before he could finish his sentence.
"Are you?" asked Candy without looking at him.
"Yes," Neal said faintly. "No!" He added louder. "Uhm, it depends." He cleared his throat. "Yes, if that's make you mad. No, if you don't mind it."
Candy was happy to hear Neal's answer. Now was the time to recite everything she had planned to tell him but her tongue got numb and her feeling got loss in something that she never felt quiet as strong before. Those words which she had recited so eloquently when she's alone left her.
"Oh," was all Candy could say. She pushed Neal. "You've been hanging out with lawyers far too long! Go away!"
Without turning her head, Candy walked steadily entering the hospital. She smiled shyly and blushed heavily. But hidden by her thick curly hair, Neal didn't see her face.
She is angry, Neal thought instead disappointedly.
That day was Neal's payday. Like his other coworkers, he had already planned how to spend it. A colleague would use the money to pay their mother's medical bills, one would buy a wedding ring, one would save it for their children to go to college,... It's amazing how valuable a small amount of money could be. Neal would use his to buy Candy a roundtrip ticket to New York for her coming Christmas vacation to amend his mistake.
Full of hopes, Neal rushed to go home to tell Candy about his plan. But at home, he didn't find her.
Strange, she's supposed to come early today, Neal thought worriedly.
Neal wondered if she's still mad at him and refused to come home. It's already dark outside, he's worried so much for her safety. Hurriedly, he went outside to look for her.
At one quiet street corner, Neal heard some noise. His ear caught the sound of a woman screaming who sounded like Candy. He hurriedly came to the scene to peek. He saw Candy was surrounded by big men who tried to make indecent advancement.
Neal was scared to death. But whatever happened, he vowed to take her to safety even if that would cost his life. Trembling inside but trying to look composed and cool in the outside, Neal joined the scene.
"There's police at the corner," said Neal, bluffing. "Leave her. Now."
The men laughed.
"Don't believe me?" barked Neal. He used all his strength for his voice to sound menacing and not shaky.
Neal turned around, pretended to leave to call the police. The men looked at one another. One man made a sign with his head. Having their plan uncovered they didn't want to risk it. Grumpily, they left.
Candy hurriedly ran to Neal's arms.
"Are you okay?" Neal asked worriedly.
Candy nodded, trembling. Neal sensed it. Overcame by the dreadful thought that someone wanted to harm his beloved, he hugged her tightly, gently murmuring kind words to comfort her. His gentleness pierced her heart.
Until¡ he remembered the sad truth. He, then, released her slowly.
"I didn't mean to offend you. I apologize about last night," said Neal quietly. "Got my paycheck today. I'll buy you a round trip ticket to New York for this coming winter holiday."
"Neal, I sent Terry a letter this afternoon. I told him..." Her sentence ended with a scream.
From behind the fence, one bandit reappeared with a long knife. He had been hiding behind the tall wooden fence and heard it all.
"Money!" demanded the bandit. "Throw here, fast!"
"We have none," said Neal.
"Lie! I heard all. Give fast or die!"
"Neal, do as he asked. Give the money," whispered Candy.
Candy was so frightened. The knife looked very long and sharp.
"But that's for your train ticket," Neal responded in a low voice.
"Quiet! Quick. I count to three," demanded the bandit.
"Neal, I don't want to go to New York." Candy grabbed the money from Neal's hand and threw it to the bandit. "Take it. Now, leave us."
The bandit quickly picked the money. But instead of leaving, he faced Candy.
"I still want you, beautiful! Hehehe¡.," laughed the bandit odiously. He came to approach Candy.
Candy froze in fear.
"Come here if you want your cute date stays breathing," growled the bandit.
Suddenly everything went so quickly, the bandit jumped to grab Candy's hand. Neal jumped to cover her. Everything went chaotically. Finally Candy saw the man run away.
"He left," Candy said, relieved. But Neal didn't reply. "Neal, he left," she repeated and turned around.
"Oh God...," whispered Candy. "No ... No!"
She stiffened in terror seeing Neal lay motionlessly on the ground.
Frantically Candy ran and threw herself next to him. She saw blood, lots of blood coming from his chest.
Oh! The knife, thought Candy in terror. She pressed her hand to his chest to block the blood from coming out.
"Neal, stay awake, don't close your eyes, stay awake," Candy said nervously.
She saw his eyes stare at her gently¡ Too gently that they didn't seem to belong to this world. He held her hand, his lips parted trying to say something which looked like "sorry".
"Neal," screamed Candy, frantically. "Stay with me, don't close your eyes..."
The only response she got was his loosening grip. His hand dropped. His heart pulse diminishing.
"Wake up, Neal. We go home...," Candy whispered, face hot from fresh falling tears.
But he lay still.
"Neal! Wake up," Candy screamed, frantically shaking his motionless body.
Her mind started to wander in terror. She remembered his grin, his witty remark, his joke, his kiss... Suddenly, the memory of enduing his torture in the distant past didn't feel as horrible anymore. Anything ¡ Just not this, not seeing his body slowly turned into lifeless like this.
Candy cried. She hoped he'd soon jump up. She hoped he'd soon grin telling her that it's just a joke. But it didn't happen¡ Instead, she saw a pool of blood that kept getting larger. She tore up.
"Oh, Neal," she choked out. "Wake up¡"
She hadn't told him that she loved him¡ He would go away without knowing that she loved him! Worse yet, he would leave thinking he wronged her last night. He would never know that she liked to be kissed by him and that she wanted to be kissed by him everyday of her life.
Now, it's too late... Much too late¡ she would have no chance to tell him about her love, ever. It felt too unbearably cruel. She cried harder at the thought, regretted immensely.
No!, she determined. He had to know that she loved him. He had to!
Tearfully, wishing that somehow he still could hear her voice, Candy screamed as hard as she could, "I love you, Neal! I love you¡!"
She sobbed brokenly, tears dripping down like rain.
"Last night¡ you didn't do anything wrong¡ Don't leave me," cried Candy mournfully.
In anguish, she gently cradled his head, hand hovering over his still face. Then, sobbing, with tears gushing down her cheeks, hoping that somehow he could still feel, she bent to kiss him¡
-TO BE CONTINUED-
*Scandal: The time was around 1910's. At that time men and women didn't freely live together¡ Just like in the manga.
Thanks for reading. For all visitors, thank you so much!
Especially thanks for the reviewers and followers.
This chapter isn't quite "merry". Sorry about that¡ Regardless,
Merry Christmas 2015!
Next chapter is the last.
Chapter 6: Epilogue
Candy buried her face brokenly in his chest, sobbing hard. "Oh Neal, why did you do this? Why? Oh, why?" she wailed devastatingly.
Between her sobs, Candy heard a whisper floating softly in the wind.
"¡love someone and only when the person returns your love can thus the spell be broken and you get a second chance."
Candy saw a flash of light then she felt something warm crawling in her fingers and squeezed her hands...
Candy fell to the ground, frightened. To her marvel, when she lifted her eyes, she saw Neal's eyes were open looking tenderly at her.
"Because I love you, Candy," answered Neal who heard everything she had said.
"You're a-alive?" She marveled trying to absorb it all. "How ¡ why¡?"
"The fairy¡" He grinned.
She clapped her hand to her forehead, finally saw the connection. "Oh, the whisper¡ of course! Unbelievable!" she screamed this time with happiness.
Candy threw herself to his chest to hug him. He rolled her under him, face facing him. Then he kissed her with a kiss so passionate that she had never known such a thing was possible. She cherished the kiss more than anything. What had just happened made her realize deeper how much he meant to her. How precious it was that she could feel his hug, his touch, and his kiss. She wrapped her arms around his back to pull him even closer relishing the moment.
Unlike their first kiss, this time he pulled his lips away first. The moment their lips parted, she missed him already. Brushing her lips to give her one more peck, Neal pulled Candy and took her to sit next to him, right there at the driveway.
"I don't have anything," said Neal, holding her hand. "I promise to work hard and give all my strength to succeed. But, I can't promise I can buy you many things you want. I can't buy you a car. You won't wear a diamond ring, we won't live in a mansion... I can only promise, with your permission, you'd always have my love abundantly."
She's touched, choked hearing his kind honest words.
"I never care about wealth," said Candy. Her voice trembled with emotions. "All my life, I have been searching for love..."
She brought her hand to his face, touched it affectionally.
"You know what Neal¡ the very first time I arrived at your home - I felt happy. Within me I sensed, that this would be the home where I'd find peace and love." Candy paused. "You see, I'm right!" she smiled tenderly. "I found it in you."
She hugged him.
Neal was shaken. He realized that he had ruined the little girl's dream more than he could ever forgive himself.
"I don't deserve you. I'm very selfish for wanting you. I wish I were strong enough to leave you. But, I am not. I'm so falling in love with you, Candy." He rested his forehead on hers. "Please forgive me."
"We put the past behind us," replied Candy kindly. "The man I want to be with from now on is you. Only you and your love."
She tightened her hug, didn't want to lose her dear man again.
Neal looked steadily down into Candy's kind face. He didn't only feel overpowering love and affection towards her but the confidence of ever after.
"Candy, you show me the meaning of love. I love you more than all words can describe," said Neal. He took her hand gently into his, caressed it tenderly with his other hand. "You've been caring for me, from now on, let me care for you."
Now, this might be a little bit too quick, but he couldn't' care less. He shuddered thinking that he almost left her without ever telling her that he loved her. They wouldn't be holding each other like this without the privilege of the second chance. The last thing he wanted was to let it slip away.
Holding his breadth, he summoned all his strength to ask, "Candy dear, will you marry me?"
"Yes, Neal," replied Candy, unhesitatingly. "I want to marry you."
The thrill of hearing her answer and how resolute she was in saying it almost made him burst with happiness. Grabbing the back of her neck, he pulled her mouth into his to kiss her. As soon as their lips touched- WHOOSH¡!
Another gust of wind blew followed by a blast of bright light emanated, centered around him. The light shone so brightly that she had to cover her eyes.
When she opened back her eyes¡ Like magic, his ill-cut shirt was gone! He's now wearing a splendid elegant suite and a car miraculously appeared next to him.
"Wow¡!" exclaimed Candy. She almost fell off. She examined his appearance, her senses caught soft scent of cologne which seemed to come from him.
"A-a car?" shivering, Candy pointed to the car.
"Wow¡," marveled Neal, looking at his suite and the car. "Could it be that this is¡?" He examined the car closer and checked the license plate number.
"Yes, this is one of my cars. My favorite one," said Neal. He picked the key that was hanging at the door to examine it carefully. It had the familiar key chain with gold plated initials "N. L." on it.
"My car!" said Neal excitedly.
He also found his wallet in his suite pocket. Inside, it had his identification cards¡ and money. He glanced at the amount.
"Goodness, forget about a weekly salary. I can buy several round trip tickets to London for both of us, now." Neal grinned excitedly. Candy laughed seeing his excited face.
"Well, Candy¡ do you want to go to a nice restaurant or cook tonight?" Neal grinned. "We can pick up Albert first."
"Oops," said Candy. "Now you mentioned Albert, just now I went out to look for him. We should check if he's already home."
"Let's ride this bloody thing," said Neal excitedly with his signature wicked grin.
Under the street light, Candy could finally see him better. His notoriously clean and dapper hair cut, his trimmed to perfection suite, neatly pressed with perfectly knotted cravat¡ Neil was neat too, but this man had more. Everything about his appearance breathed style, sophistication,¡ donned to the perfection. It brought back horrible memories! Suddenly she's afraid of him, what kind of person was he now?
So when he reached out to her, she unconsciously flinched back. Her face looked scared. He sensed it.
"Candy dear, I'm still the same person who loves you with all my heart," Neal said.
His eyes looked gentle. His face looked so kind. His voice was so tender. Yes, he's the same extraordinarily handsome person just in a different outfit. After a moment, Candy threw her arms around his neck. He lifted her off her feet and kissed her. Carrying her in his arms, he brought her into the car.
Hand in hand Candy and Neal entered to their apartment. From outside, they saw light between the door gaps. Albert had come home.
"I started my part time job today as a dishwasher," said Albert, the amnesic tycoon proudly. "They paid in advance. I went for grocery and cooked for us all."
"Good timing, let's celebrate this. Albert, I just got engaged!" said Candy excitedly.
"Congratulations, with whom?" asked Albert. He curiously watched the grinning young man who's standing behind her.
"With him," pointed Candy to Neal. "This is Neal, with an 'a'. Neal Leagan."
"Congratulations on your job, Albert," said Neal genuinely. He remembered how excited he was when he got his first pay, he understood how Albert felt. "Your dish looks super!"
"Who is this little friend?" asked Neal facing Pouppe, pretending he didn't know.
"Pouppe," answered Albert. "He usually doesn't want a stranger, though, he..."
Neal gave his palm and Pouppe spontaneously jumped into it, ran along his arm and sat on his shoulder. Albert was stunt.
Secretly Neal and Candy grinned to one another.
Well, shrugged Albert. Maybe we've met but I forgot. Oh boy¡ Amnesic¡!
"Could we start eating?" asked Candy to Albert.
"We don't wait for Neil? I mean, the one with an 'i'?" asked Albert.
"No need," said Candy giving her fianc¨¦ a meaningful smile. "Neil had found what he's looking for and had moved out from this apartment."
To their amazement, unlike Pouppe, Albert really didn't know the connection between Neil and Neal.
¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡
After dinner, Neal went home directly to meet his family. Nervously, he wondered if his mother recognized him this time as well as his father and sister. He drove home and parked his car in the driveway as always. He got off from the car, took a moment to examine the Leagan mansion which suddenly looked so grand to him.
Gulped, he walked to the front door wondering if the servant recognized him and would let him in. The front door was opened almost instantaneously and a servant nodded to him with full respect.
"Master Neal, good to see you back. Mr. and Mrs. Leagan are in the main family room," the servant announced with a gracious blow.
It was a relief.
Neal walked through the long corridor and finally arrived in the main family room. The servants who stood at the door opened it automatically with a bow when they saw him coming.
Neal's heart beat faster and faster as he nervously walked inside wondering what their reaction would be. He saw his parents and sister. All his concerned were washed away as soon as his mother ran tearfully to him.
"My dear son Neal, where have you been?" sobbed his mother, hugging him tightly.
"It's a long story," answered Neal, relieved. "I'm alright, mom. How are you? Dad? Sis?"
He still couldn't decide if he should tell his hard-to-belief story in the whole truth or lie for convenience to make it easier.
"Before that¡ Mom, dad, there's this girl who I want to marry..."
¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡
Neal and Candy also visited Stear and others to share the engagement news. To their amusement, they too didn't know the connection between Neil and Neal.
"Where are others?" asked Candy who only saw Annie and Archie at the door.
"You usually came late. They're not ready yet, "answered Annie.
"Well, today I came with my punctual fianc¨¦," grinned Candy. She proudly showed them the engagement ring in her finger. "I'm engaged." She chuckled.
Annie and Archie gasped, looked suspiciously at Neal who's standing behind her.
"Oh! Ms. Pony cooked you your favorite pumpkin pie, Annie," said Candy. She gave the pie to Annie.
"We went to Pony's home to visit Ms. Pony and Sr. Lane and introduce him to them. I showed him the Pony hill, too," explained Candy.
Candy stole a coy look at her fianc¨¦ remembering the tender moment they spent together on the hill.
Archie and Annie were dumbfounded.
"Fianc¨¦? Him?" asked Archie who could speak again.
"Yes, me. Too bad, I'm back, right cus?" said Neal cynically.
He then flashed a friendly grin. In his heart, he determined to make good friends with his kind cousins who opened his eyes in many ways.
"You disappeared and came back suddenly to tell us that you're engaged to Candy?" asked Archie in disbelief.
"Magic, buddy. That's called magic," said Neal, patted his cousin's back. "Doubt it?"
Neal put his arm around his fianc¨¦'s slender waist, pulled her closer and kissed her lips with the utmost passion. He grinned proudly to Archie who witnessed it openmouthedly¡
Neal then pointed to a big box behind him.
"Ask your brother to come out quickly," said Neal to Archie. "Our engineers made a machine similar to X-bot using that. This motor was just recently developed in our lab. Stear gets to see this."
Archie almost fainted.
Neal being nice?, thought Archie, flummoxed.
"M-motor¡ X-bot¡," stammered Archie, speechless.
They had a good day that day. And yes, as expected, they didn't see the connection between Neil and Neal.
¡ ¡ ¡ ¡
Neal didn't forget his generous boss, Mr. Patterson the lawyer. As a nice gesture, he personally came to his former boss' office, waited modestly outside just like Mr. Patterson's regular client and had the staff notified his presence. Not immune to the magic spell, the lawyer also didn't know that he's Neil. Hastily Mr. Patterson ran outside to greet and apologize for making a Leagan wait.
Neal nimbly accepted his apology and invited Mr. and Mrs. Patterson to come to his wedding. And whenever the company had a need for an external lawyer, Neal always gave the project to Mr. Patterson.
So¡ Nobody other than Candy and Neal knew the relation between Neal and Neil. The secret was forever locked hidden in the fairy's magic spell. Candy felt lucky that she got some of the magic spell and went through the experience together with her beloved.
Candy and Neal got married. Their love grew stronger each day.
They lived happily ever after.
Thanks for everyone who reads and follows the story. Endless gratitude to have you all here. Thank you.
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