Title: To Get Her
Category: Anime/Manga » Candy Candy
Author: kellyelin
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Genre: Romance/Drama
Published: 07-23-16, Updated: 10-15-16
Chapters: 25, Words: 47,441

Chapter 1: The Routine

"Candy Candy" manga is written by Kyoko Mizuki, Yumiko Igarashi.

oOo

Avatar is drawn by ELSA. Drawn with water color. Thank you Elsa.

oOo

Rating: Mostly T. But there are three chapters that are M.

WARNING: This story is UNLIKE my other stories. Here, I experiment with M scenes (because I never wrote one!). Many don't like it because the scenes are simply too explicit. Check the critic reviews first before you read# or perhaps just don't read it.

oOo

CHAPTER 1: The Routine

.

The story starts just after the manga ends#

In New York

Terry was pushing Suzanna in her wheelchair from their apartment to a nearby park for their routine evening outing. At the lakeside, he stopped. Gently, he carried her from the wheelchair onto a nearby bench and sat next to her.

"Love you, Terry," said Suzanna, resting her head on Terry's shoulder.

She didn't hear any response. She turned to look at his man. His gaze was far at the horizon, his mind seemed even farther away.

"Terry#," called Suzanna softly. "Terry#" Suzanna repeated.

Terry finally heard her and immediately turned his head to meet her gaze. He felt guilty that his mind wandered to Candy. To cover it up, he quickly pulled the flask they took from home and set it down on the arm of the wheelchair.

"W-Want something to drink?" Terry stammered.

She held his hand, gently shook her head and smiled. "I said I love you," said Suzanna.

"Love you, too, dear," replied Terry, trying to sound bubbling.

Suzanna squeezed his hand. She knew he's thinking about Candy.

He looked into the gentle face of the woman with straight hair who openly worshiped him. As always, immediately he's imagining the curly blonde with freckles. His throat choked with guilt.

It takes time, Terry sighed silently. I will fulfill my words like a gentleman. If love does conquer all like it's said than this woman's love shall do just that.

In Pony's home

Albert is my prince of the hill?, thought Candy. In shocked, she stood frozen staring at Albert.

Then, as fast as her feet could carry, Candy slammed into Albert and let his arms engulfed her.

"You are my prince of the hill?" Candy cried, overcome by emotions.

"Yes, Candy. That pendant is mine. I dropped it when we first met here."

Trembling, she was overcome by male heat which she became more and more conscious when they hugged.

Why he suddenly tells me this?, Candy wondered.

Candy felt Albert slowly push her. She looked up and her eyes met his brilliant clear blue eyes. She wanted this man so much. She felt a strong spark rushed though her at the touch of his gentle warm fingers as they softly wiped tears from her face.

I love you, Albert#

Suddenly a happy thought came across her mind. Maybe he plans to propose to me? Nothing could be more romantic than to have Albert propose at the very spot when they first met when she was six!

Her gaze stopped at his lips. Beautiful lips in that perfect face. It's so close now that his head bent downward looking at her.

Oh Albert, Candy thought, thrilled. Will you kiss me now?, she felt warm everywhere with excitement.

"Candy," Albert murmured.

His hands released her and reaching out to the button of her dress.

Oh Albert#, thought Candy excitedly. The feeling of his hands on her chest sent her hormone bubbling. Holding her breath, her mind ran wild imagining what his hands would do to her buttons. Totally surrendered, she would have let him do anything he wanted to. She had longed for him to do something, oh she's begging for him to unbutton that button.

Unbutton it, Albert. Lie together with me on this soft fluffy patch of grass.

His fingers moved... slowly... Slowly, he's buttoning up her dress to her chin.

"Candy, it's kind of chilly should button your dress," said Albert fatherly or perhaps brotherly, it didn't matter as both equally sucked.

Unpleasant protest rushed through her brain, if only she had the courage to articulate them in words. If only she dared to grab his hands and pull them to her breasts.

Almost coincidentally, she heard someone clear his throat. Out of nowhere, George suddenly appeared.

"Sir William, we need to leave. Aunt Elroy would like an audience with you before you catch the ship," said George coolly before he disappeared as quickly as he came.

Candy had always known that Albert would travel again and had prepared herself for it. But now it's happening, she didn't feel ready to let him go

Don't go Albert... Not tonight. She screamed beseechingly in her mind. I want to be with you tonight. Please# don't go tonight! All emotion exploded from her heart in a scream that she hoped he could hear. He looked down at her, paused. His gaze looked very kind initially before slowly shifted to thoughtful and a he sighed.

"I really have to go," said Albert much to her dismay. "Get to work..." He smiled.

Her heart imploded. The disappointment was complete.

"Do you have to?" asked Candy, giving one last effort to make him stay.

He nodded determinedly. "When I come back, I'll visit you, okay?"

He softly kissed her temple like usual.

"W-when?" asked Candy trying to sound herself.

"In a few months," quipped Albert.

That long?, thought Candy flabbergasted.

She struggled for not seeing him in a day. She's barely alive when he disappeared for weeks. And he's telling her that he'd be gone for months? What if he met someone else?

Albert, I'll die if you're with another woman.

She saw him walk away. Never in her life she wanted so much to call someone back, to run and kneel down begging him to stay.

I should call him back. I must tell him that I love him. I am not a coward! I'll tell him. NOW.

"Albert# wait!" Candy shrieked. She could hear her voice tremble so much, it's unrecognizable.

"Yes, Candy?"

She tried to hold her gaze, but she couldn't. His sharp blue eyes shot her defense system down, sent it crumbling to pieces. I can't. Damn it. Worried cold sweat oozed everywhere. What if he said no? I'd lose face. I can't take the humiliation# ARGH! She dug her nails in her finger to vent off her frustrationㄝ

"What about Pouppe?" asked Candy reluctantly instead. Darn! I'm a coward#

"I won't take him," he smiled, that irresistible smile which mauled her heard to bleed. "I've asked someone to care for him." He waved and started to walk again.

Candy watched her prince walk father and farther away. She felt her head hot, dizzy in anger to let that happen and did absolutely nothing about it.

"We'll write letters," said Albert shortly. He waved and opened the car door.

"Have a safe trip," swallowed Candy through the deep pain in her chest

He nodded, entered to his car, and... gone.

What a big anti-climax for her lifelong search for her prince.

Candy sobbed in agony. Frustrated, she ran as fast as her feet could carry around the hill until her lung was out or air and she collapsed on the grass. Panting, she lay still on the grass regaining her breath

This is not the end yet, thought Candy, stayed positive. My prince is a busy businessman. He'll come back!

She went to a nearby creek to wipe her face. Her heart felt so heavy missing Albert. She felt so lonely and cried.

I will keep myself busy. I go back to school, Candy decided, wiping her eyes.

Then, putting a calm face, she walked back to Pony's home to meet Annie, Archie, Patty, and others.

oOooo

The following day, in the ship...

Albert took his best staff members to accompany him in the business trip. He planned to research new lines of business to merge to the existing Ardlays business lines to modernize its business practice.

As Albert, he used to carry just a backpack, wear casual outfit and use the economy class. This time, Albert traveled as Sir William. He dressed in a complete formal suit with tie and carrying only a business bag. His many luggage were all taken care of by his staffs. Albert went directly to the upper most deck greeted formally by the head of cabin crew himself. He personally took Albert to the most luxurious cabin which only a handful of people in the world could afford.

"Have a pleasant and relaxing trip, Sir William." He nudged his hat before withdrawing.

"Thanks," responded Albert.

Albert, however, planned to do just the opposite. Ignoring all the relaxation facilities, sauna, massage center, and all that, Albert walked straight to his private VIP business compartment which he would be using to conduct day-to-day business activities while in the ship.

He sank to the big leather chair behind his desk, where he saw an envelope at the center of the desk. It's from Aunt Elroy.

.

"Good luck on your first real business trip. Don't forget to get married quickly, though!

Love, Aunt Elroy."

.

Albert groaned, remembering what aunt Elroy had told him repeatedly. "You have to be married soon, William! You're already thirty! Your father was married when he was only#"

Albert tossed the note on the paper bin and leaned to his chair, reflecting.

I'm Sir William!

To know such was something he shouldn't take for granted. He shuddered thinking about the amnesia which almost robbed his true identity from his life. The fact that he could still be here and be known as Sir William was like given a second chance to live which he owed in entirely to# Candy. The image of Candy in her beautiful smile crossed his mind.

He sighed.

Abruptly, he stopped reflecting. Determined.

The time had arrived when he must work seriously and he refused to think more about other things but work. Nothing should stand on his way and distract him from accomplishing his goals, even if the woman was# Candy.

Time to work!

Albert rang a bell, a servant entered.

"Call George," said Albert.

Albert picked up one business report among the pile of folders, papers, and books and started reading.

In a few minutes someone came knocking at the half-open door.

"Come in," said Albert routinely. Expecting it's George, he didn't lift his eyes from his book.

The clicking sound of high heels thumped on the hardwood floor soon echoed throughout the room, so unlike the usual quiet footsteps of George...

Eh?, thought Albert at the anomaly.

He lifted up his head. It's not George, it's a young woman instead. She dressed sharply in a dark blazer with matching pencil skirt. Her dark long hair was hanging loose over her shoulders. Her gaze was sharp, showing confidence and intelligence. She walked surely with the determination, like a person who wouldn't recognize timid or limit in her vocabulary.

"Sir William," she greeted. "I am LeAnn. LeAnn Cenna." Her gaze was steady, her voice was sharp and professional. "Mr. George fell ill in the last minute. He tried to get a hold on you, but couldn't." She handed Albert an envelope. "He wrote you a note, Sire."

Of course he couldn't contact me, thought Albert, annoyed. Aunt Elroy was grilling him about marriage! She ordered specifically to all servants and staff not to interrupt her in the process.

Albert opened the envelope and read George's note. George fell ill in the last minute and arranged LeAnn to substitute him for the trip instead.

"#I'm sorry I can only give this letter as explanation, Sir William. LeAnn is a rising star in our company. She's the most qualified person to cover my position at this point#"

While waiting, LeAnn secretly examining her new boss. Much younger than she thought, breathtakingly handsome, perfect blond hair#

"#Her education background includes Oxford and Harvard University with full scholarship. She had worked in another company before joining us. Her performance there was sheer brilliant. It's fortunate that we could make her come to join us#" George wrote.

Impressive enough, thought Albert. He put the letter aside.

Rising to his feet, Albert straightened to his full height and offered LeAnn a handshake.

Five inches taller?, examined LeAnn quickly, comparing Albert's height with herself. Dazzling blue eyes.

"Sir William, I'm pleased to be here," LeAnn replied ceremoniously with the same impassive face she used when entering the door. All trace about her admiration in her boss' blond hair and ocean color blue eyes were concealed nicely to herself.

"Likewise, Ms. Cenna. Please, have a seat," said Albert.

-To be continued-

Thanks for reading.


Chapter 2: Adapting

Chapter 2: Adapting

In the Leagan mansion

"Where's Neal?" growled Neal's father who just came home from work. "He hasn't showed up at work for five days!"

"In his room," replied Eliza.

"In his room," replied Sarah. Her eyes were still red. Her husband knew she had been crying.

"Bring Neal here," ordered Mr. Leagan to a servant. Mr. Leagan, of course, knew what's happening. He had tried to keep quiet for days - hoping the situation to improve by itself, but it didn't. Now, he would solve his son's problem his way.

A few minutes later, the servant came back empty handedly.

"Master Neal didn't answer, sir," the servant reported.

Mr. Leagan was furious. "Eliza, go! Check if your brother is still alive!"

Eliza went to Neal's room

"Neal! Neal!" Eliza banged at Neals's door. As she had expected, no one answered. "Neal!" bellowed Eliza again a few more times. Still, no answer... just as she had expected.

Eliza pushed the door open and took a peek. Again, she witnessed the exact same scene as yesterday or the day before yesterday or a few days before it... Since his proposal to marry Candy was turned down by uncle William, her brother had been crying continuously in his bed.

Impatiently Eliza banged the door wide open and walked into the room.

"Oh, stop crying, Neal! Sheesh! Can you just forget that orphan?"

"I love Candy," sobbed Neal. "I want Candy."

"Shut up, Neal. It sounds so ridiculous, don't you know?"

Neal didn't reply. He kept on crying brokenheartedly, couldn't take the fact that it's all over... Candy wasn't his. How awful! He cried louder.

Eliza sighed furiously and went to her parents to report.

Abruptly Mr. Leagan who's having dinner stopped eating.

"He will join the army as he proposed," snarled Neal's father. Fuming, he banged his fork and knife to the dining table, hard, the vibration only was enough to knock off glasses on the table.

"No!" screamed Sarah. "He's our only son. What if he never comes back like Stear."

"Then I'd be so proud. I won't have to live with regret for raising a-good-for-nothing son."

"No! Neal... My baby..." Sarah started to cry again. The thought of losing her precious son scared her to death. "My fault to take Candy here. He shouldn't be punished for my wrong doing." Sarah sobbed. "We mustn't risk his life!"

"Haven't we been humiliated enough?" Neal's father growled. "The entire world knows that he'd join the army should he fail to be engaged to Candy!" He picked up a newspaper and pointed to the scandal headline. "I have enough of his demented behavior!"

Sarah kept crying but Mr. Leagan ignored her. Mr. Leagan called his secretary and ordered him to prepare for the trip to dumb Neal in the military barrack.

"I want Neal to leave tomorrow," said Mr. Leagan to his secretary.

"Understood, Mr. Leagan," answered the secretary. He turned around to quickly execute his boss' order.

"Stay there!" yelled Sarah. She glared sharply to her husband's secretary. "Disregard his order!"

The poor secretary got nailed on the spot. Nervously, he stared at Mr. and Mrs. Leagan alternatingly, not sure whom to obey.

Mr. Leagan dismissed his poor man. The husband and wife spent the whole night shouting and arguing what to do with their son, taking more time and effort than Mr. Leagan had intended to spend.

"Let him visit and see the barrack first to decide," Sarah said, a few hours later.

"Fine," said Mr. Leagan, exhausted. He covered his ear with a pillow and dozed off to sleep.

The following day, Mr. Leagan contacted his acquaintance in the high government office. At the time of war all activities in the barrack was considered highly classified. But because of the special connection, they allowed Neal to do a one day tour in the barrack. Together, the father and son took the precious opportunity and visited the barrack.

Neal couldn't believe what he saw.

It's mind-blowing to see how hard they trained. The food was way below his expected standard. And the bed# Heck! They didn't have a private bedroom with a bathroom. He trembled seeing the injury they sustained when the training went wrong...!

He thought life without Candy was hell. It turned out it's far less hellish than the life in the army. And this wasn't a barrack in the middle of the war yet! Neal got sober... Instantly, he changed his mind.

"Dad, I-I don't want to join the army," Neal stammered meekly to his father on the way home.

"I have been hoping nice things from you. To see how you became just because of one girl is pathetic." Neal's father rejected his son's appeal. "You have to go to war as you promised to do. Above all, learn to live far away from your mom!"

Damn it, what have I done?, thought Neal, scared. Candy, I hate you! He angrily blamed Candy for the problem he's facing.

Luckily... faith intervened. That evening the government announced the war was over.

"We send him to Florida then," said Sarah hurriedly. "No one will gossip about us in there and he'll be far away from us."

Neal clutched his hand as his eyes beseeched his father with hope. If he could get away this time, he promised to forget Candy forever.

Heaving a heavy sigh, Mr. Leagan looked at his wife's determined face and his son's beseeching look. He just didn't want to spend one more second on this matter. He's so busy at work and he had spent a week for "this trivial" thing.

"Fine. But! One more drop of tear for Candy, son, then you go straight into the barrack," Mr. Leagan threatened.

Yuppie!, Neal was so relieved. What a beautiful life. He determined to make the most of it. He would forget Candy and started to enjoy the many other blessings he had in his life.

Hence, Mr. and Mrs. Leagan sent Neal and Eliza to Florida to continue their study.

-OoOo-

In the Ship

Albert worked diligently in the ship everyday. He woke up early and started his day by reading business reports. He then met with his team of staffs to discuss various strategies to strengthen Ardlay enterprise's position as the world leading technology player. He kept in touch with his staff in Chicago with telegrams.

The night before the ship arrived at shore, Albert suddenly got nervous. The faith of hundred years of business empire was in his shoulder! Couldn't get more pressure than that. He checked at the clock... After eight in the evening. He regretted that George wasn't here. George always made himself available around the clock. A one-on-one discussion with a familiar and trustworthy person would've helped brainstorming greatly.

Albert got up from his chair and walked aimlessly on the deck to comfort his turbulent mind. The night was dark with millions sparkling stars. He used to love to lie down looking at the sky with Pouppe. How easy life was back then... Unlike now.

Suddenly he's aware there's someone else on the deck. It's LeAnn... Albert quickly changed direction to avoid her since it's already way after office hours... But, it's too late. LeAnn had already seen her boss coming and quickly welcomed him.

"Sir William...," LeAnn shoved quickly on her feet at the sight of her boss. "Are you looking for me?"

"Please, sit down," said Albert quickly. "I was just taking a walk# thinking about the meeting tomorrow."

"Actually, I was thinking about it too. I have some thought#" She stopped, adding hesitantly, "If you had the time that is, Sir." She smiled politely, glanced at her watch. It's already after 8 PM!

"Oh I'd be happy to, Ms. Cenna. Please... Want to go inside?" responded Albert.

"Sure," she answered readily.

Together, they went to a chatting pavilion and chatted until late. To Albert's surprise, LeAnn was amazingly capable. They even had Albert practice his speech for tomorrow's meeting. That night, Albert couldn't feel more confident. The following day he did his first major business presentation of his life, splendidly.

The merger negotiation went smoothly and successfully. Albert got excited and decided to stay a few more months longer to personally incorporate the new business plan to the Ardlay's existing complex business model. He could have let his staff do it. But, he felt like to get his feet wet to gain the valuable experience.

Albert who had been writing to Candy regularly told her about his new plan in his next letter.

"

Dear Candy,

How are you?

The merger acquisition was successful. It's a great news for the enterprise. I will stay here a few more months longer to study their technology and blend their business structure with ours among other things.

I got your last letter. Great toknow that you go back to school! I wish you luck in your coming exams.

Oh... You should taste the new local food I just discovered today ... ...

Yours,

Albert.

"

.

In Chicago

A few more months longer!, read Candy. She slapped her brow and sank to her chair.

Well, I work hard here, he works hard there. That's okay, I'll wait until he comes back. Candy kissed Albert's signature with love then folded the letter neatly... Gently, she put the letter inside the pinkish box she especially made to store all their correspondence.

-To be continued-

Thanks for reading.


Chapter 3: Sudden Wedding

Chapter 3: Sudden Wedding

In Florida

Mr. Leagan bought the biggest mansion in the area for the super rich for Neal and Eliza. It's a gorgeous building located at the pure white sandy beach with its own private dock and yacht - but still it's not at par to their main home in Chicago, to Eliza anyway.

"That orphan's fault," grumbled Eliza, examining her new home.

"Fuck her," Neal said bitterly. He threw a piece of shell as hard as he could down to the water to illustrate his point. "I hate her."

"A good start, Neal," said Eliza, patted her brother's back. She went inside the mansion to start making her servants work and transform the "plain" looking mansion into a luxurious home.

Neal was left alone at the dock. He sat down examining the unfamiliar surrounding... Beautiful white sandy beach... Vastness of the ocean. They felt magnificent... Fascinating... Fun!

Neal got up and strolled exploring the beach. He saw people do various activities he'd never done before. It looked exciting. He wanted to try them, too... so much. But, he knew nobody there. His mother wasn't here. Eliza wasn't interested in anything that risked sunburn. He had no relatives, no friends... No one,# except his classmates!

Neal reflected... The ocean won. Before long, Neal who never cared about his classmates was busy devising various ways to make friends with them.

He did it well...! Neal blended nicely with his new friends. Every day after class, Neal joined his friends to sail, surf, swim, dive,# and other fun beach related activities. Neal took classes too so he could keep up faster and master the skills better.

Neal spent a lot of time in the beach! He wore swimsuit more than a suit and a tie by now!

Neal who always cared about his appearance became very aware of his body image. He started to go to a gym and hire a personal trainer to supervise his work out. Every day, he trained hard to build up muscles and build an enviable body look...

Neal now had lots of friends. He's popular, busy, happy, and too occupied to think nor to care about the past. He's ready to embrace the future...

Many months later

Eliza also successfully made many new friends with the rich and famous of Florida. Her new best friend, Stella, was the only child of the richest family in Florida.

Today was Stella's birthday. Eliza was invited to her birthday party and she took Neal to come with her. At the end of the party, Neal saw his sister still deeply immerse in conversation with Stella and he decided to take off first.

"Eliza, I catch you later," said Neal, briefly interrupting his sister. "Happy birthday again, Stella." Neal waved.

Eliza nodded to her brother and turned to Stella to continue their interrupted conversation.

"Sorry for the interruption, Stella," excused Eliza. "Where were we just now?"

Stella didn't answer, her face looked blank. Her mouth opened and her eyes were nailed on something far in front, somewhere# Eliza tapped her friend's shoulder. Stella was visibly shocked - she jumped on her seat.

"Oh# Eliza," whispered Stella. She moved one hand to tap her head and the other to grip Eliza's hand intently.

"Are you alright?" asked Eliza.

"Your brother," gushed Stella. "He is... Oh... he's very... handsome." She paused, breathless. "I think I fall in love with him."

Eliza laughed. "You're not the only one who thinks so," said Eliza openly showing off her pride.

Eliza gestured toward her brother who's surrounded by beauties, some were clinging in his arms. "Look at them."

"True," responded Stella, coolly. "Except that... I am not one of them." Stella glanced intently at Eliza. "You! Will help me to win him." She smirked.

Eliza quietly raised her eyebrow.

"Daddy gave me a large share of his company stock as birthday gift. I give you 10% of my stock shares if you could get Neal bed me. 20% stock if he agreed to date me."

Wow!, thought Eliza who always liked business deals.

oOo

At home, Eliza immediately was looking for Neal. But, he didn't come home that night. In the morning, his bedroom was empty, the bed was untouched. Eliza impatiently waited until he came back from school to tell him about Stella's offer. She caught Neal in time before he met his personal trainer in the gym.

"That 10% share is guaranteed, sis." Neal grinned, at the same time he's making a gesture for his servant to lift his bag to be brought to the gym.

"Only 10%? Why not 20%?" asked Eliza.

"Dating is a bit difficult. It requires a bit more commitment," he shrugged. "I already have too many to manage."

"Just dumb a few and replace them with one Stella!"

"I'll think about that!" said Neal. He waved to his sister and went to catch his gym session.

oooOoooo

Yet many many more months later

Albert received a telegram from Candy: "Stear returned! Aunt Elroy is preparing an express wedding party for him and Patty. September 9TH. Coming?"

Jesus! Stear?, Albert stared blankly at the telegram in disbelief. Stear is back from the war?, Albert punched his fist to the air to celebrate. I must attend!

Albert immediately arranged an emergency meeting with his staffs to adjust their working time schedule. He shortened his trip and a few weeks later, he and his staffs were in the ship back to America.

In the ship

Albert felt so boosted morally. This was his first major business trip, alone. George was not even there. All decision making was the result of his own with his staff - and it was successful. For the first time in his life, he fell in love with his work and thanked his ancestors for making such a powerful enterprise for him to inherit.

Candy..., thought Albert.

Without her, he might have been dead without ever knowing how it felt like being Sir William... Candy's beautiful smile passed through his mind briefly which he quickly cut.

He'd stay focus, do his duty right, and bring the Ardlay enterprise to a new height. Until then, other matters should wait.

With resolute steps, Albert entered his private business room for the last regular morning meeting with his staff members. Tomorrow, they would arrive in New York and disperse to their corresponding office location in the vast network of Ardlay enterprise. Albert himself would visit the office in New York first before going back to the headquarter in Chicago.

"Today is our last day together in the ship," said Albert at the end of their morning brainstorming session. "Let's celebrate and have a farewell party tonight!"

His staffs cheered. Albert beamed, he's glad he could do something to make them happy.

Albert spent the afternoon replying letters including personal mails which had been accumulated and untouched for months. He smiled when reading Candy's letter about Stear and Patty's wedding preparation.

Albert replied Candy with a telegram. "Be back in time for the wedding. Could we go together? Albert."

A few stack of letters later he found one from George.

"# LeAnn is currently a director of R&D in the Urbana office. The board of directors voted to promote her as a Vice President and transfer her to join us here in the headquarter, Chicago. Would you approve?..."

Albert replied with a telegram: "I approve LeAnn's promotion and her transfer to the headquarter in Chicago. Effective immediately. Sir William."

Albert continued working until five. He then dressed up to join his staffs for dinner. The engineers staffs, in particular, looked strikingly different tonight. Usually they wore oversize engineering lab suits while tonight the men wore formal suits with tie and the women wore long evening gowns.

Including LeAnn... She's a brilliant thinker. A true gifted first right hand officer... Albert barely recognized her in the long evening dress, hair done updo...

Maintaining impassive professional manner, Albert quickly cut his gaze from her before it became too long and too noticeable.

"Everyone is here? Good!" said Albert coolly but kindly to everyone. "Let's start."

ooOoo

In Chicago

Candy and Annie were in the upscale boutique in Chicago accompanying Patty who's having the final fitting of her wedding dress.

"Do you think Stear would like this?" asked Patty hesitatingly to her two friends.

Candy and Annie in chorus voiced their agreement, convincing Patty so. And that's the truth. Patty looked beautiful just like a fairy in the white wedding dress. A big relieved smile graced Patty's face, she extended her arms to hug her two best friends.

"Well, we don't want to ruin the dress, do we?" asked Annie hesitatingly.

Candy nodded.

"Let it be ruin then," said Patty. She moved forward to hug her two best friends tightly.

Candy and Annie used the opportunity to try their bridesmaid dresses too.

"Neal will be in the wedding rehearsal, Candy," said Patty, giving a sympathy look to her friend. "I'm sorry. But Stear insisted to have him as one of his groomsmen."

"Sure, don't worry Patty," said Candy, trying to be strong. They had told her this long time ago. For her friends' sake, she would bear Neal and wouldn't be so childish that she ruined their precious wedding day.

"Have you made an appointment to do your hair and makeup yet, Candy?" asked Annie.

"Nope," Candy quipped.

Annie lifted her eyebrows. "You have to," she commanded. "Tell her so, Patty, otherwise don't allow her to be your bridesmaid."

Annie gave a commanding glare at Patty. Patty had no option but to nod meekly to Candy.

"This party will be attended by so many rich and famous. Many foreign dignitaries will come like Stear's parents' business and royal associates so do the Ardlays'," continued Annie. "Good opportunity for you to look for the perfect guy too!"

I don't need any other man. I only want Albert, thought Candy instantly.

She never told anyone about her prince of the hill. It's her sacred secret with Albert and no one else should know about it.

"You need to dress up, Candy. Man sees through what you wear," pushed Annie. "Besides you're a woman. What's wrong of looking pretty? Right, Patty?"

Patty nodded again.

Candy finally agreed. She made the appointment.

For Albert's sake, my prince, Candy thought.

She just received Albert's telegram this morning. Albert offered to go together to the wedding! In two weeks!

Candy barely could contain her excitement. It's so much like a dream! Yes, Annie's idea wasn't bad! She would make herself look the prettiest for her prince.

-To be continued-

Thanks for reading and being here with me.


Chapter 4: Getting Ready

Chapter 4: Getting Ready

A week before Patty and Stear's wedding

In Florida

Eliza was chatting with Stella when the conversation shifted to the stock market.

"Remember the stock you gave me?" Eliza successfully persuaded Neal to date Stella and Stella awarded her with stock shares as promised. "They are doing great! The value has been up." Eliza laughed.

"Yes," Stella commented blandly.

"Your father's company is remarkable, Stella," praised Eliza.

Stella didn't respond. Her face didn't shine as much as Eliza expected.

"Neal didn't disappoint you, I hope?" asked Eliza carefully.

Stella sighed. "No, he didn't." Her gaze glittered as though remembering# overcome by the memory, and wanted more.

"Steamy. Smoking... Beyond hot," continued Stella as though talking to herself, breathless. "Does he really have as many dates as it looks?"

"Nope," quipped Eliza, grinning. "He has more than it looks."

Stella sighed gloomily. Neal exceeded all she had ever wanted in a man both in bed and out. She wanted to have him all for herself.

"Help me, Eliza," pleaded Stella. "Ask Neal not to date anyone else but me."

"Well, it's hard...," Eliza said hesitatingly. "Telling whom to date is off limit between us."

"30% stock share if Neal stopped bedding other women and got engaged with me," offered Stella in desperation. "In addition, I will ask daddy to appoint you as a member of board of directors in his company - complete will full corporate benefits and recognitions."

Ay! Ay!, thought Eliza excitedly. Did she hear that right? 30%!

10% share was already a lot, even for Eliza Leagan, and Stella offered her 30%? Cool! Not to mention the coveted position as a board of director. Exciting#

Eliza hurriedly went home to look for her brother. Luckily, Neal was home. He was studying for his final exams.

"Neal, Stella is crazy for you." Without needing to add exaggerations Eliza told him the glowing praise Stella said about him.

"I am that good." Neal grinned, didn't stop writing as though accustomed to such a praise.

"How do you like Stella?" asked Eliza.

Neal only shrugged. "Girls... As long as they're obedient and submissive, all ass is the same. I'd do them."

"Then, get engaged to Stella... At the bright side, you don't need to attend any more boring matchmaking parties. Mom will soon run out of rich hotties too."

Neal grinned again. "What did she offer you this time?"

"30% of her stock shares and a board of directors position in his father's company with full benefits."

Neal whistled in awe.

"I'm not planning to be married though, sis. Probably until# say 60?" shrugged Neal carelessly. He's having too much fun now. Why married and got stuck to one ass?

"It's only engagement, Neal. Not marriage#," persuaded Eliza coolly. "Say yes first, cancel it later. It happened before with# that orphan. And wow, what a publication we got in the media."

"You think I'm that heartless?" Neal grinned wickedly.

"What's wrong with that?" Eliza pouted. "All ass is the same you said. Then, just pick the one with most perks."

Neal grinned. He was silent for a while looking thoughtful.

"Next week, we go home for Stear's wedding," he said. "We decide after we come back in two weeks. Is that alright, Eliza?"

"Why?" asked Eliza dryly looking at him suspiciously. "Is it because of...?"

"Because of# what?" He shot up his eyebrow curiously.

"You want to meet that orphan first?" asked Eliza quietly.

The calm air in his face changed abruptly remembering the terrible engagement rejection humiliation in front of everyone. His heart still deeply hurt when thinking about that.

"That orphan!" he sneered, looking disgusted. "Don't be ridiculous!" He waved his hand to emphasize how absurd her idea was. "No! No! NO way! She is history. Mistake of the past. I was young, inexperienced and happened to make a bad judgment. Believe it, I have forgotten that stable girl. Completely!"

He leaned back on his chair

"I said we should wait because...," he paused giving a mischievous grin, "the longer Stella waits, the more she wants me. Maybe... she'll increase her offer to you."

"Neal - you're brilliant," said Eliza, rubbing her hands together, satisfyingly. Her brother laughed. "Deal, in two weeks# After we come back from Chicago!"

oooOOOooo

Two nights before the wedding#

In Chicago

Today was Albert's first day in his office in Chicago after his long business trip. George greeted him in his office.

"Hello, George," greeted Albert back. It took a few seconds for his brain to adjust. For the past one year, he's been seeing LeAnn instead. "How are you?"

"Fine, Sir William. Thank you," replied George, offering a handshake. "Congratulations on the acquisition Sire!"

"Team work, George." Albert laughed. He told him everything about his business trip.

"Fantastic," praised George. Gene, George thought, examining his young boss. Just like the father, he had that business air and excitement. And how mature he became in just a bit more than a year.

"When can we start to move to our new location?" Because of the merger acquisition, Albert relocated the Ardlay's enterprise headquarter to a bigger location to accommodate the new staffs.

"We did everything as you instructed in your letters, Sir. It's ready. I could take you there now," George gave Albert the building map.

Albert glanced at the clock on the wall. 7PM. "That's alright, George. Thanks for the map, I check it out myself later."

George gave Albert a few folders, envelopes and business report. After some conversation, Albert dismissed him.

Albert stayed to take care of a few more things before he finally went to inspect the new headquarter. His brain was so occupied that he forgot to take the map. He got trapped in the labyrinth of the new large office complex. Soon, he's trapped in the dark and couldn't even find the light switches. He felt grateful when someone came to turn on the lights. Even more to see LeAnn's familiar face.

"Ms. Cenna, you're still in the building?"

"Oh hi, Sir William!" greeted LeAnn. It felt good to see the young boss again. His handsomeness spiced up the atmosphere. She didn't show it though. "Yes, I am here."

"How do you like your new office?"

"Fantastic, Sir William. Huge. Thank you," she smiled professionally. "Have you seen the new staff recreation area?"

"I'm looking for that. Do you know where it is?"

"Yes, over here, Sir William," said LeAnn, helpful a usual. Forever organized, Albert saw her carry a big map diagram in her hand.

"You always stay until this late, Ms. Cenna?" Albert started some small talk as they walked looking for the location.

"Yes, Sir William. My parents are farmers. Farmers don't take vacations#" She laughed. "So I'm used to it."

"I see," said Albert, smiling. As an animal lover, he could fully understand what she meant.

"This Sunday, I will take time off though. My brother is getting married with a neighbor," she beamed. "We will have a small gathering in dad's farm."

"Oh lovely. Congratulations," said Albert cordially. "A great wedding location, by the way. I do love animals a lot."

"Oh you do?" she paused, hesitated a bit of what to say next. "Would you like to come?" She knew she shouldn't mix personal with work. But for courtesy, she should at least mention it. He'd reject and that's fine. Just the expected routine#

"I'd love to. But I don't want to cause any inconvenience#," answered Albert, trying to decline politely. One shouldn't mix personal with work, thought Albert. No dates with staff members.

"I'll go by myself# My fianc谷 just dumped me," blurted LeAnn. "He complained my business trip is getting longer and longer."

LeAnn bit her lips. She shouldn't talk about something this personal to her boss. Mistake# Hopefully it wouldn't do any damage.

"I am sorry," said Albert.

"Don't be. Reckon I can start wearing high heels again," Le Ann joked to divert Albert's attention. She wished Albert stopped there and didn't talk further about it. He didn't.

"Well, it's partly my mistake. The last business trip went unexpectedly longer than planned# I should make it up. I go with you," offered Albert.

That's unexpected! No date with supervisors! LeAnn quickly thought a way to gracefully stir out from the awkward topic she accidentally had created.

"That's very nice of you, Sir William," said LeAnn managed to stay cool. "But, please# that's not what I meant. In addition, it's not at all your mistake. I love my job. You don't have to go."

"I insist," said Albert.

She froze, considering the most appropriate response to give next. It's so tempted to say yes, and what's wrong with that? She would be so proud to take such a tall and handsome man as her date. People always laugh at her because her date was always shorter than her especially when she's wearing high heels. It's such a torture to be a tall woman.

"Well# then. Great! Thanks, Sir William. It's a pleasure," said LeAnn managed to stay cool although her heat throbbed like crazy. Right away, she planned to use the highest heel possible. To avoid blushing, which would be very embarrassing, quickly she went back to business matter.

"Sir William, talking about wedding party#" LeAnn opened her agenda book to hide her face which felt warm. "I have confirmed with the guests you invited to attend Ms. Patricia and Mr. Alistear Cornwell's wedding reception. Most of them will show up."

The Ardlays invited many business associates to the grand party and Albert appointed LeAnn to be in charge of welcoming them.

"Good job, Ms. Canne," responded Albert, smiling. "And# Please, call me William. This is a non working hour."

"William," said Leann, smiled back. "Call me, LeAnn."

"Great# Now LeaAnn, let's see the recreational area," said Albert.

-To be continued-

Thanks for reading. Please be patient# It's kind of slow.


Chapter 5: Wedding Rehearsal

Chapter 5: Wedding Rehearsal

Candy just got off from work and ran rushing to her car. She's in a hurry to attend Stear and Patty wedding rehearsal.

Neal will come today, reflected Candy while driving remembering Patty's warning yesterday.

This would be the first time Candy met Neal again since Albert rejected his proposal. It worried her greatly. She had had a peaceful life for over a year, somehow she felt that it'd end soon. Who knew what harmful things he would cause# humiliation, sadness, anger#? She sighed, overwhelmed by fear.

Well, just stay close to Archie or Stear if he misbehaved. The wedding party will be over in just two days. Can't be that bad, Candy shrugged, stayed positive as always.

Besides, now that she's wearing high heels and kind of taller probably her towering height would intimidate that short man. Candy chuckled and parked her car.

Stopped thinking about Neal, Candy grabbed her book and started doing her homework while walking at the same time. She's busy. Not only that she's a full time nurse, she's a full time student too. On top of those, she had been actively participating in the wedding preparation, every single day.

Got quite absorbed in her reading, Candy didn't see a car stopped just a few steps away from her unloading passengers. Accidentally, she bumped into someone, someone tough and hard.

Candy took a step away and brought her book down to apologize.

"Oops, sorr-," Candy trailed off. Wow!

She couldn't believe her eyes.

A young man..., much younger than Albert she estimated, dapper in a finely tailored suit... But it's his tall, gorgeously proportioned, well-built body that made it spectacular not the expensive fine looking suit he's wearing. Effortlessly he made something as ordinary as wearing a shirt unbuttoned at collar looked sophisticated and casually elegant - never she found in others.

Who's this?, Candy gulped. She stretched her neck upward to look at his face. She didn't remember saw this man in any of the past rehearsals.

Candy was fully in love and faithful to her dear prince, Albert. But it's utterly inevitable not to admire this man's finely sculptured face. His eyes were dark brown, looking daring, hot,... dangerous. His eyebrows were full, arched in exotic curve 每 complementing his wavy dark hair which combed and cut in precise perfection. And the nose#

While admiring his nose, she saw his sexy lips parting like he wanted to say something before he blinked and closed them back.

"Watch where you're going!" Candy heard a voice snarling from inside the car. "Clumsy orphan! You okay, Neal?"

"Eh-heh," the man said, nodded.

A familiar looking woman stepped out of the car.

Eliza?, thought Candy. She instantly realized who the man was... Shit! Eliza and# Neal?!

Candy studied the man's face quickly one more time to confirm. Felt like a fool, she regretted not bumping into him harder. If she had known it was Neal, she might even throw her book to his face too.

"How're you?" Eliza greeted Candy, mockingly. "All on your own? Where's William?"

"I'm fine, thanks. How's your hiding hole in Florida?" returned Candy.

"Classic. Rude as always#," Eliza scowled. "But stable girl is wearing high heels now. Improvement."

Fully in rage, Candy chose to ignore Eliza and walked away. It's unbelievable how much anger Eliza could cause in just a few seconds of conversation.

Look could be deceiving, thought Candy annoyed. She's mad to herself for admiring Neal's look just now for a second.

"Ignore her, Neal." Candy heard Eliza say. "I go now. Bye"

"Bye," returned Neal.

Candy sensed Neal walk behind her. In an instant, cold sweat broke into her palms knowing that there's Neal in her proximity. She felt as if he'd pull her elbow at any second now to further harass her. Clutching her fist in a ready-to-hit position, Candy fastened her steps but not so fast that he might think she's panicking. She was relieved when finally she saw Stear. He's standing at the doorway greeting everyone.

"Hi Candy. Patty is inside," said Stear, friendly as usual.

Candy nodded and smiled back. Feeling safe by Stear's presence, her heartbeat slowed down to normal. Stear's gaze soon moved pass her, his face looked frozen, thinking 每 doubtless experiencing the effect of seeing Neal.

"This is#," Stear muttered. His voice wavering# sounded unsure. "No way! Neal? I don't believe this. Neal!" Stear laughed out loud. "Geez, dude. I didn't recognize you!"

From the corner of her eyes Candy saw Stear hug the taller younger man tightly. "Tall! Tall! Tall#!" Stear muttered.

"Stear!" Neal returned, with obvious upbeat in his voice. "Good to see you!" His voice was different, unrecognizably deep and#, she had to admit, manly. "I'll tell you about my few-hours-visit to the barrack."

Candy heard Stear laugh out loud as a response. She tilted her head a bit to confirm. Indeed that bass voice belonged to Neal. She shrugged.

"Archie!" yelled Stear calling his brother. "Neal is here!"

Candy walked in and greeted other bridesmaids. "Hi girls..."

"Hi Candy," they greeted back.

"Tried the dresses yet?" Candy started a conversation to them.

No girls responded. Their gaze moved passed her and the room stood still as all women turned their gaze to the new comer in the room, completely bedazzled by Neal.

The event organizer interrupted the frozen silence by inviting everyone to take photos. The girls started to move, blushing and giggling.

"Is he single?" Candy heard someone whisper.

"So what if he's not?" whispered another girl, blushing. "He wants me, I take him."

They cracked up.

The photographer then busily arranging everyone's position. At Candy's turn, the photographer accidentally positioned her in front of Neal.

"Ms., could you move a bit closer to that gentleman, please?" instructed the photographer.

Candy felt hugely uncomfortable. Holding her breath, she inched closer to Neal.

"More# more# more," the photographer said cluelessly. "Ms., could you move a bit closer to that gentleman?" The photographer started to lose patience.

The girl next to Candy playfully pushed her to Neal's direction until she felt the hair in his wrist brushed against her skin. She stopped breathing for a moment very much aware of the touch and hurriedly pulled her hand back.

Candy lifted her gaze to see Neal, expecting him to mock or badmouth her# but he didn't! Without flinching, Neal maintained steely gaze looking at somewhere else, totally unaffected by her presence.

If he can do it then I can too! Besides, I shouldn't steal the show from Patty and Stear, Candy thought, feeling challenged.

Candy put her hands in the pockets and moved closer as instructed and the photographer happily took the memorable snapshot. Candy then quickly withdrew in case Neal would pull her elbow, but Neal had withdrawn first and busily talked to whoever surrounding him. He completely ignored her.

The rest of the evening moved smoother than Candy anticipated although a spark of energy was clearly present among women, fueled by Neal's presence.

Just like when taking photo, however, Candy found that Neal treated her like an empty air. If they happened to walk approaching one another, he'd readily threw his face away, quicker than she did. He didn't harass her nor bother to give her a quick nod. Not even once, did she catch him looking into her direction.

"Candy did you bring the decoration?" yelled Annie who's busy hanging things cutting her muse.

"Ah right, it's in the car. I get it," replied Candy.

Since everyone else was already occupied with something to do, Candy went outside alone. She walked in extreme alert. Her stomach knotted nervously worried that Neal would secretly follow her outside.

But, he didn't. Neal didn't follow her at all. He stayed indoor, chatting with others.

After the practice, Stear and Patty took everyone to attend dinner together. And there, again, Neal behaved like Candy didn't exist.

Gradually Candy started to relax. By the end of the dinner, she safely and gratefully concluded that Neal seemed to have no intention to do anything with her at all. That! Was a good thing...

oOo

Stear and Patty's Wedding Day

At 9 AM sharp, Candy's servant came to announce Albert's presence.

For hours, she had had a pro do her hair and makeup. While waiting for Albert, she's constantly examining her face in the mirror, fixing each minute possible imperfection.

Taking a deep breath, Candy nervously went outside to greet Albert. She missed him greatly.

"Albert," screamed Candy as she ran to his arms.

She wished for the clock to stop so she could forever be in his hug. His hands felt so good on her back, she's dying to feel them on other parts, too.

Albert released her to start staring on her face as his breathtaking blue eyes pinched smaller. It's been more than a year. And there's only one word fitted to describe the man. Handsome. He's more handsome than ever, breathtakingly more mature. Her heart throbbed waiting to hear what he'd say.

Am I beautiful, Albert? Say it so# I did this beauty treatment for you.

"I see that you've been studying hard, haven't you?" said Albert lightly examining her face.

What?

"Why?" asked Candy, stunned at the unexpected comment. "Do I look older?"

"No, you start to have the serious look of a head nurse." He touched the tip of her nose playfully. "How's your study?"

He smiled, looking so handsome. That's good enough# That smile worth all the effort she put for looking pretty.

"Good," she answered.

"Let's go! Tell me what I miss here in Chicago."

oOo

Candy told Albert about many things as they went to the wedding location.

She took him to the huge white tent where they'd be holding the wedding party. Inside, dozens of tables were already set up. Each neatly covered with light pink tablecloths and a fresh flower bouquet in the center. Each chair surrounding the table was nicely decorated with a string of fresh flowers.

"I designed how the flowers should be put together, Albert," said Candy. Albert praised her generously and she blushed listening to his praises.

"All in all, all credits went to aunt Elroy who impressively made this happened in such a short period of time," said Candy, humbly.

Candy took Albert to see the towering wedding cake, too...

-To Be Continued 每

Thanks for reading.

.

oOo

To respond the comments in the reviews#

. Neal is popular. He has many friends (male and female), dates, and he is outgoing. But he is not necessarily a playboy.

. Eliza doesn't have a voice as whom Neal dates. He dates Stella just for his sister's sake/courtesy/fun. But he doesn't have to.

It's written (Chapter 4): "Well, it's hard...," Eliza said hesitatingly. "Telling whom to date is off limit between us."


Chapter 6: Cornwells Wedding

CHAPTER 6: Cornwells Wedding

Stear and Patty started the first dance followed by the guests. Candy swept the dance floor with Albert. She could have danced for days with him, too bad the music only allowed it for just under five minutes.

They just exited the dance floor when Albert's step suddenly came to a halt.

"Candy, excuse me," he said in a low voice. "This way."

Albert took her to walk to another direction approaching a woman.

"Ms. Canne," greeted Albert. The woman nodded politely. "Ms. Canne, Candice. LeAnn Canne - a vice president in the Ardlay enterprise, the head of the newly developed aerospace research and development division."

Holy title, dazed Candy, examining LeAnn.

If Albert had said that LeAnn were a supermodel, Candy probably would have felt less threatened. Nothing was more intimidating than the combination of beauty and brain. And LeAnn seemed to have both!

Candy sensed an indescribable pride floating in Albert's voice. Does Albert like her? But when she glanced to search Albert's face, his handsome face revealed nothing. His expression was every bit business-like, very different than the friendly air he was wearing a minute ago.

William's date? Girlfriend? LeAnn thought at the same time in horror although her face stayed impassive. Does she know that we will go to my brother's wedding tomorrow?

LeAnn extended her hand to offer Candy a professional handshake. "Ms. Candice, very pleased to meet you."

"Likewise," replied Candy trying to stay equally cool.

LeAnn then turned to Albert. "Sir William, the company guests you invited are over there," she said in a crisp professional voice.

Albert nodded.

"Candy would you excuse us? Business meeting, sort of," explained Albert.

He kissed her cheek lightly. LeAnn noticed.

Ah, 'Candy'! His step-daughter! LeAnn breathed again, relieved. She heard about "Candy" from the media.

"Please, Sir. This way," said LeAnn impassively. She expertly concealed the whole drama within herself.

"Ms. Candice." LeAnn nodded excusing herself. Candy nodded back.

Albert released Candy and went with LeAnn. Candy's stomach chilled in disappointment watching her man walk away with another woman. The only consolation was LeAnn walked several steps away from him.

Candy then mingled briefly with some people she knew. She greeted aunt Elroy, waved to George, congratulated Mr. and Mrs. Cornwells as well as Patty's relatives.

Candy also went to help Patty change dress. Patty's wedding dress was a heavy voluminous gown with a long train that had thousands of crystal bead sewn in it. For convenience, Patty would change into another chic but more appropriate gown for the rest of the afternoon.

Candy couldn't see Annie, so she just grabbed Patty's friend, another bridesmaid who she met on the way to the changing room.

While waiting for Patty changing, Candy watched Albert from the far serenaded by romantic music at the background. Handsome, dreamily she admired his face from the far. She wondered how many girls were staring at his prince at this same moment.

A blast of noise suddenly erupted breaking her attention away from Albert. It's like a mix of female giggles followed by hand claps.

"Candy, you want to see him?" she felt Patty's friend nudged her arm.

"Huh?" Candy startled. Her mind was still swirling around Albert, barely there.

"Neal Leagan, that groomsman," she giggled. "Someone said he is this year's most well dressed bachelor." Her face flushed with excitement, giggling. "You know?"

"Nope," said Candy, nor did she care. She's been busy burying her life in working and studying. She had no time to read any gossip magazine.

"I was on the way to see him when you dragged me here." She laughed. Her eyes begged earnestly. "Could I... Well..."

"You go see Neal. I stay here with Patty," said Candy, generously.

"Thanks Candy!" She hugged her and left before Candy took her next breath.

Neal! Who the hell cares, mocked Candy, shaking her head.

While waiting for Patty the giggling sound grew louder followed by some crooning. Out of curiosity, Candy took a peek. Neal surrounded by his fans! Among her hatred, she had to admit that he's dazzling and very well dressed as advertised.

"Neal is hot, eh!" Candy heard Stear's voice coming from behind, friendly, brotherly. "Regret?"

Archie had told him in detail about how Candy denied Neal's proposal and single handedly obliterated the staged engagement party.

"Not a bit," responded Candy.

"You talked to him?" asked Stear.

"Nope. Don't plan to."

"We spent a long time chatting. He came to my bachelor party and he#"

"Look Stear. Nothing he does will change my perception about him."

Stear laughed out loud. "I'll tell Patty to throw the bouquet to your direction, Candy."

Candy laughed.

Patty came out. She too heard about the noise and took a peek. But she too didn't care about Neal. Patty ran directly to her man's arms instead. After thanking Candy, both went to cut the cake and mingled with the guests thanking them for coming.

Many times, Candy secretly glanced at Albert to check what he's doing with LeAnn. They seemed to be doing business relations as Albert mentioned. It's her first time seeing Albert mingle with business crowds. Candy sighed longingly. She's so proud of him!

At the sound of loud trumpets, a horse carriage appeared, pulled by four white horses. Holding each other's hand, the bride and the groom walked together to the carriage while everyone lining up shouting best wishes words, clapping, popping champagne and throwing petal of flowers to them.

It was so beautiful and romantic, Candy felt so happy for Patty and Stear.

Before climbing to the carriage, Patty stopped at the step to throw her bouquet to the single women crowd. Candy didn't get it. She stole a look at Albert who's laughing at her from the far and she gave him a-mile-wide smile in return.

The carriage started moving. The guests didn't stop cheering until it disappeared taking the newlyweds to honeymoon in an undisclosed location.

Thus, the wedding party was formally over#

Candy saw Albert remain busy greeting people. She didn't want to stay much longer. She had a paper to submit next week. She had been very involved in preparing this wedding party and had missed quite a lot in her study.

Candy said good-bye to people she knew and ordered a valet to pick up her car. Good that she could drive. It's getting old to ask Archie to take her home; Annie must be in relieved too. The valet delivered the car and Candy drove home.

oooOOooo

While driving and admiring her diving skill, Candy noticed the sky quickly went from bright blue to dark grey followed by gushes of wind which's common for early autumn. She knew a quick downpour would follow.

No worries. Candy optimistically believed that she'd be home by then.

Candy pressed her foot down on the accelerator, adding more speed.

How time changes things, Candy reflected. Albert looked so mature, Stear was back from the war and married to Patty! Even Neal changed 每 dramatically.

Finally, he is done with me. She laughed remembering his petulance.

And now, there'll be no more Neal until, perhaps, the next wedding in the family. Annie's maybe, and Archie more likely wouldn't take him as a groomsman... Candy hadn't finished laughing when she heard a loud pang.

What's that? It didn't sound like a thunder...

Soon the car groaned loudly, fluttered and became very hard to control. Nervously Candy tried to remember what the driving manual said at this situation. She pumped the brake pedal slowly, carefully decreasing speed. She was relieved when the car finally came to full stop without hitting anything.

Whew! What happens?

She checked the fuel gauge. Full. She stared cluelessly on other gauges, not sure what they meant. Candy then stepped out off her car. Accidentally her eyes caught the tire on the front right. It's flat!

I got a flat tire#, thought Candy horrified.

Meanwhile the sky had turned black by now. It's scary.

I will replace the tire myself, thought Candy optimistically.

She saw Stear do it many times, it didn't look hard at all. Bravely, she opened the back trunk to look for the appropriate tools. She froze - completely had no idea which tool to use or how to use it.

Could LeAnn do this?, a jealous thought involuntarily tickled her brain.

She heard a loud thunder followed by water droplets pelted on her face.

It's raining!

The rain got big very quickly. Candy hurriedly slammed closed the back trunk and ran to get inside the car. She pulled the door handle down to open the door, but the door didn't open. It's locked. Candy groped into her coat pocket to get the car key. But she couldn't find it.

Where's the car key?, thought Candy.

Frantically she searched all of her pockets for the key. No use. She just couldn't find the key.

Preparing for the worst scenario, she peeked inside the window and she almost cried. She left the car key inside the car!

Oh no! I got locked out, thought Candy alarmed. She hopelessly watched her car key stick in the ignition.

She checked the other three doors# all of them were locked. Shit!

Meanwhile, the rain kept getting bigger. Heavy large droplets drenched her in seconds. Candy then ran seeking shelter underneath a tree. The wind was big and chilly. Her teeth chattered involuntarily, she felt very cold.

In the middle of hopelessness and desperation, she saw a car coming.

Someone from the party?, she thought, hopeful. I can ask for help.

Candy ran to the middle of the road to stop the incoming car. The excitement was soon subdued as soon as she saw the familiar golden letter "L" displayed prominently on the front of the car.

"The Leagans!" groaned Candy loudly to herself.

She wondered if it's the brother, the sister or the parents. Whoever the person was, she hated anyone of them just the same.

Well, the Leagans I get, the Leagans I take, thought Candy after some consideration.

She felt so cold, she would rather not stand it anymore. And she's busy! She wanted to go home so badly. She had planned to spend today's afternoon to finish and catch up her school works because tonight she had a night shift.

Swallowing all hatred, Candy went to the middle of the road to stop the car.

The car pulled over to the side road and stopped. Someone from the seat next to the driver seat came out from the car.

"Problem, Ms.?" the man asked.

"I need help# got locked out and a flat tire," said Candy.

"One moment, Ms. I let my master know."

The man went back to the car, talked with someone in the back seat then came back to talk to Candy.

"Our master said he's in a hurry. He'd rather not wait, Ms.," said the man.

"He's a Leagan? Could you tell him that I'm an Ardlay. Candice Ardlay. The Leagans... Ardlays, you know# family," Candy chuckled mildly.

The man nodded. He went back to talk with someone in the back seat and came back with an umbrella in his hand.

"I'm sorry, Ms. He said we have to go now," he said apologetically. "Our master would like to offer you this umbrella, though." He gave Candy one umbrella. Then nudging the tip of his hat, he's ready to take off.

Not good. She wanted to go home not an umbrella!

"Eh! Wait... Wait...," said Candy. "Could I# er# talk to your master?"

Without waiting for his response, Candy approached the back window and knocked.

The back window rolled down and there she saw# the familiar man with brown hair, tanned skin. Neal. He's with two hot babes on his sides. One was a blonde and the other was a brunette.

Oh Neal#!, thought Candy gratefully.

This was the first time Candy felt happy to see him. Unfortunately, the feeling wasn't mutual. She saw him deliberately throw his face away from her. His gaze was as cold as iron.

"Yes?" Neal exhaled impatiently#

-To be continued-

THANK YOU for reading.


Chapter 7: In The Rain

CHAPTER 7: In The Rain

Fuck, this is going to be difficult, thought Candy. She quickly raked her brain. Well, nothing is impossible! She giggled confidently to herself. Knowing this guy well, she had an idea what she had to do.

"Hi Neal!" started Candy pretending to be happy to see him. "What a pleasant surprise! How are you?" She paused waiting for a response.

He didn't give any. Oh, crap, thought Candy.

"I need# help! Heh#heh#," Candy cracked a friendly smile.

"Sorry, can't. Have guests with me," said Neal harshly without looking at Candy.

He's been trying so hard not to have any involvement with her. Considering the humiliation, nightmare, and hardship she had given him, the least he wanted to do would be to lend a helping hand.

Hell if she had to be stranded here all night long in a rain storm! Neal wound the window back up.

"Oh#oh... Neal." Candy held her hand out in the window ledge to stop the window from being rolled up. "Please, help me!" she pleaded. "I-it's c-cold."

A chilly wind breezed making Candy shiver.

"She must be cold," whispered the blonde chick.

"I can give her my coat," said the brunette.

Candy heard it. Putting more acting, she sneezed to gain more support and get the much needed help.

The two chicks watched Neal intently.

Not good, Neal thought. He'd get bad reputation if he didn't help and would be known as a jerk who didn't respect women.

"Wait inside your car, I'll tell# William to come and rescue you," said Neal. There's a sense of bitterness in his voice.

"I can't. Got locked out," sniffed Candy. She moved a strand of wet hair from her face. "I accidentally left my car key inside my car."

Shit, why do I have to keep bumping into her?, thought Neal. For reputation sake, he felt at least he had to go out to talk to Candy so people thought he cared.

"Excuse me," Neal said to his girls.

Neal could tell that Candy was looking. Quickly, he seized the opportunity to show off. He pulled the two chicks towards him and gave each a smooch. He's been wanting to show Candy that he didn't need her. He had plenty of others who're willing to take her place and he's not at all regretting to live his life without her. He felt so great he could finally do that.

The chicks giggled, wiggling happily in his arms. "Don't go, Neal," they said.

"I have to," Neal said extra softly but loud enough so Candy could hear. "Wait for me#"

"It's raining Neal. Be careful," said the brunette.

"You're so brave, Neal," said the blonde. "Don't get cold."

Both chicks reluctantly watched Neal leave.

All these just for going outside in the rain?, Candy rolled her eyes in disbelief witnessing the drama.

Neal got out from the car. Putting one hand in his pocket, he put an unhappy air on his face to show that he's hugely disturbed. One staff hurriedly came to open an umbrella to cover him.

"Thanks, Neal," said Candy. Her tone was sweet, vulnerable. He never before heard she talk like that to him. For a split of second, it made his heart shift, minutely.

Why that voice?, Neal wondered. She regards me as a friend now? It's so tempting to#

Argh# fuck her, he hardened back his heart.

"You're welcome," he snorted. He nodded to send his staff away and held his umbrella himself.

Candy threw her sweetest smile at him. The smile which used to make him drunk in love and lose all his senses.

It won't work to me anymore, Candy. You mean shit to me now, thought Neal determinedly.

"Show me what your problem is," Neal said.

Believing that he's immune to any insanity she's capable of doing, bravely he accepted her challenge. He lifted his face and held her gaze. Slowly, he started to examine her# carefully.

Exquisite porcelain white skin, hot red lips, lovely freckles. Her appearance was in wrecked havoc because of the storm but that only made her look even more desirable. Her curly golden hair was mussed reminding him of sex# a hot sex. Her dress was so sodden that it's sticking to her skin revealing one hell of heavenly curves.

Candy#

Perhaps he held her gaze a bit too long or a little too deeply but by now, it's too late to pull back. Her green gaze easily bored into him with mesmerizing intensity. It pulled him right at the place where he left off# No. It wasn't quite as finished as he had forced himself to believe.

She is beautiful, he swallowed. His body temperature started to rise.

"Neal...," purred Candy.

A drop of water dropped from the tip of her curly golden hair to the valley of her breast - trailing down between her breasts before finally disappeared. He gulped. In an instant, his mind was attacked by sensual fantasies imagining the naked body underneath that wet dress. He knew precisely what he wanted to do to it.

"It's very nice of you to come out," said Candy softly. It's not the gentlest, softest voice she had but it's enough to instantly make his dick* hard and big.

Candy sneezed, gazed imploringly at Neal.

Candy! Neal wiped his forehead which started to sweat although the temperature was cool and the wind was freezing. Damn it#! She still owns me.

He knew that she's deliberately staging her look just to get the desired help. It's obvious. But it didn't stop his heart from slamming like a jackhammer to his ribs.

Enemy or not, it's a sin to resist such a beauty. Fine, I'll fucking play along.

"You're cold. Use my coat," said Neal. Neal nodded to his man who scurried back to the car to pick up the coat and gave it to his master. Neal gave the coat to Candy.

"No need...," Candy declined in a tiny soft voice. "Could you just help me with my mess so I can go home?"

A wind blew and Candy shivered.

"Change," said Neal. He took her to behind the bush and turned his back facing her. "I hold the umbrella for you. Like this. I won't look."

Candy searched his face. It showed nothing but the look of naïve innocence. Another gush of arctic win came by. She's freezing cold, so tempted by the offer... She's very busy in school and work, she mustn't get sick.

"Okay...," she said slowly, considering. "Don't look. Promise?"

Neal nodded firmly. He turned his head around, holding one umbrella for Candy and one for himself.

Candy took off her wet dress. She changed it and wore Neal's dry coat instead.

"Done, Neal."

Candy lifted her eyes and caught his eyes were watching her.

She screeched. "You said you wouldn't look!"

"I didn't..." His brown eyes glittered, couldn't look more sinful. "Just a bit# Accident. Sorry." He didn't sound sorry at all.

"What did you see?" stormed Candy.

"Not much... Don't worry," he shrugged, giving one umbrella back to her. They walked back to the car. "I like your thong~, though," he said after some lengthy pause. "Try a lace one next time. It'd suite you better." He grinned.

"Fuck you, Neal!"

"Sure# Please..., fuck me," said Neal, licking his lips with his tongue. Shamelessly he stared at her from head to toe and back again.

Oh gross, thought Candy disgusted.

Suddenly she noticed red lipstick marks smearing on his white shirt collar. Her car problems seemed minuscule compared to what she's getting herself into. She shuddered.

This man is dangerous, who knows what he'd do next.

"I haven't properly greeted you," said Neal. His voice was husky. "Candice White Ardlay." He bent to take her hand and kiss it. "You are beautiful."

Candy cringed hearing the line which she always thought belonged only to her prince. No one else should say that, especially Neal. She snapped her hand just before his lips touched it.

"You've been avoiding me," said Neal. "Now we're here in the middle of nowhere you're begging to see me. Why? Got romantic ideas from the wedding and suddenly thought about# us?" His voice was hoarse, strongly emphasized the word us.

The hair on her nape stood up hearing that familiar voice. If history repeated, he'd move closer and pull her elbow next. Instinctively, she inched two steps backward, preparing to run if necessary.

"I got locked out and flat tire," Candy pouted her lips exaggeratedly, shot up her eyebrows excessively.

To him, she looked even more seducing when defiant. Only she could exert such influence. She's so animated, hot, seducing! She always caused a major turn-on and she still could do it.

Neal waved to his man and gave some instruction to him. The man picked up something like a stick from the trunk and used it to do something to Candy's car's door trough the window#

Viola, Candy's car door was now open.

"Wow! Great," admired Candy excitedly.

"How would you thank me, honey...?" Neal whispered.

Her ear pricked.

"Don't call me that," she bit off. "Thank me for not slapping you instead!"

"Fine, suite yourself," said Neal. He turned around and walked back to his car.

Oh no, thought Candy, frightened. The tire! She still had a flat tire to replace.

Seeing him leave, the only person who could help her here in the middle of nowhere, in twilight, made her shudder. She regretted so much that she's didn't follow Albert's advice to use a driver. Argh# She shivered in spite herself. Hurry hurry... Decide on something.

"Eh Neal... Wait# Wait," called Candy back. Her tone was kinder and sweeter. He turned around and grinned triumphantly.

"I invite you to come to Pony's home charity event on Monday," said Candy. "Now, would you help me with the flat tire too? Please?"

"Hm...," replied Neal, looking thoughtful. "Probably it's better if you come with me in my car. I don't want to get my suit dirty."

"Take it off then."

"You want me to take my clothes off, too?" he whispered.

"Stop the bullshit," growled Candy impatiently with a deadly glare. "We both know that it won't be you who replace the tire!"

A quick grin flickered in his tanned face. Neal then nodded to his man and the man hurriedly worked to replace Candy's flat tire. Luckily the rain had stopped by now.

While waiting, with arms crossed and without blinking, he non-stopped devouring her with his eyes. Not even for a second he took his eyes off her. Candy never felt the clock ticked so slowly in her life. She tied her coat tighter making sure no body skin left uncovered.

"Drive slowly with a spare tire," warned Neal softly, his brown eyes heated, glued at her. "I can also give you a ride."

"No thanks," snubbed Candy. She opened her car door. "Oh, you know what, Neal#," she said drily. "Try not to come to Pony's home on Monday. I'd rather not see you there!"

She entered the car and zoomed away.

"Oh she's so rude," said the chicks who over heard her. They got out of the car. One rubbed her face on Neal's shirt, the other caringly patted his chest softly.

She is, thought Neal. She is#

oOOoo

Neal pulled his arms from underneath the two girls who passed out in the sofa in his hotel room.

He had planned to have fun with them. But, now with the picture of Candy kept floating around in his mind, he totally lost all the mood. He had seen fully naked women before but nothing affected him as much as seeing only a glimpse of her skin. It's beyond anything he had experienced before.

Staring no more at the two girls, he picked up the beer bottle from the table and finished what's left.

He used to blame himself for going after her. Now, after seeing her again, he completely forgave himself. Instead, he blamed himself for giving up pursuing her. The old feeling was back, with reinforced strength.

Candy# He closed his eyes and again the image of her face assailed his mind violently unlike it had ever been. It's her that he wanted to have in his bed. No one else.

She's one hell of a challenge, though. Very difficult.

But would he back off? Not in his life. The challenge made her even more desirable! He would get her and wouldn't stop at nothing. Plain, simple. Ignoring the two girls, Neal got up, grabbed his suit and called his driver to take him home.

-To be continued-

Thanks for reading and being here with me.

*dick = penis (a slang word :)

~ thong= panties (women underwear)


Chapter 8: Lunch Auction

CHAPTER 8: Lunch Auction

Candy spent Sunday morning on working and studying.

Taking Pouppe~ with him, Albert spent Sunday morning went with LeAnn to her brother's wedding.

Although looking cordial on the outside, in the inside Albert put a wall of infinite thickness to LeAnn. Yet, he had to admit that LeAnn looked amazing compared to her usual formal look in pencil skirt with suit or the engineer slack in the lab. On top of that, she's a brilliant strategist and researcher... a fascinating woman.

Just like Albert, LeAnn equally believed that one shouldn't mix business life with private life... She stayed impassive on the outside although in the inside her heart was jumping. She was so proud showing of her tall date to her friends and family. She wore shoes with the highest heel she had and yet, for the first time, her date was still taller.

oOo

Albert was already back in Chicago in the early afternoon. In the evening, he went to Candy's apartment to have dinner with her and to discuss the Monday's fund-raising activity in Pony's home.

Albert and Candy had been discussing about the event since Albert was in the business trip through their correspondence. Albert wanted to donate some fund for Pony's home renovation and other things. Ms. Pony and Sr. Lane accepted with gratitude, but they insisted to contribute some effort too. After exchanging ideas, they all agreed to hold an open house and a lunch auction in Pony's home.

"Albert, we haven't decided who should participate in the lunch auction," said Candy starting the discussion that evening.

Sr. Lane never was interested to participate in the lunch auction, so did Annie who only wanted to have lunch with her Archie. Ms. Pony wanted Candy to go. Candy's outgoing personality fitted so well for the job but Ms. Pony hesitated if Candy should go to have lunch with some unknown person. Candy shared Ms. Pony's concern to Albert.

"Sure, you could go, Candy," encouraged Albert. "If you decided the person's manner were inappropriate, you could always decline the lunch."

Albert called his lawyers and instructed them to prepare a set of legal rules to protect Candy from abusive participants. He'd provide a bodyguard and make sure the lunch was done in a crowded restaurant picked by Albert. Hence it's decided. Candy would volunteer to participate in the auction representing the Pony's home. Albert notified George to announce that decision in the press that night.

After taking care of fund-raising issues, Albert then cooked for Candy some new recipes he learned during the business trip. It felt just like in the good old days. Even better, now there're servants to do the clean up.

Albert didn't leave for home until late. Candy felt so happy to have his company.

OooOooo

On Monday

Finally, the anticipated fund-raising day in Pony's home was here.

Albert, Archie, Annie, and many other rich and famous guests came to support the program. Purely for friendship sake, Terry came all the way from New York to lend his star power. He took a couple of his famous actor friends with him too to spark the occasion.

Candy saw Eliza try to get Terry's attention as usual. But half along the way, she fell for one of Terry's friends. Surprisingly he seemed to be smitten too by Eliza. For the rest of the day, the two were quiet - drowned to each other.

Candy didn't see Neal and she felt thankful that he listened to her demand.

How easy it is to get rid of Neal these days, Candy thought, amazed.

Albert led the fundraising event with Archie acted as his assistant. The event started with the question and answer session. Much to Ms. Pony and Sr. Lane's gratitude, Albert handled all the talking. Candy proudly watched her responsible man do his outstanding speech, professionally answering questions. Then, Albert took the visitors for a tour around the Pony's home. After that, came the highly anticipated lunch auction!

Everyone excitedly went to the main hall. Each participant registered and got a number so they could easily be identified while bidding. Albert acted as the auctioneer.

"Here we have Ms. Candice," Albert announced. He explained briefly about Candy's Pony's home background. "Ms. Candice is kindly willing to accompany the auction winner to lunch and to answer any question about Pony's home."

The audience clapped their hands.

"Without further due, let's start the bidding," declared Albert. "What if we start at, say, fifty dollars*?"

The audience clapped again and roared excitedly giving their support. Candy was excited. She would be proud if she could raise at least a thousand dollars for Pony's home.

"Let's start," Albert began. "Fifty dollars."

"Sixty." Someone quickly made an offer.

"Seventy," said another making a counter offer.

"Eighty," said yet another participant.

Wow# Candy felt excited at the participation. People rock!

Bids were buzzing in and the price leveled around one thousand dollars.

"Five thousand dollars," said Terry who started to enter the bid. Candy looked at his friend, appreciated his participation. He smiled charmingly at her.

"Six thousand dollars."

"Seven thousand dollars."

"Ten thousand dollars."

"Twenty thousand dollars," continued Terry calmly.

Candy was hoping the auction would stop here so she could eat with someone she knew, her best friend, Terry.

"Twenty thousand dollars. Going once, going twice, going#," said Albert.

Great, Candy was about to jump up on her feet and walked to Terry to celebrate when a new voice entered the bid.

"Fifty thousand dollars," said the new voice bringing the bidding back alive. The voice was soft, coming from the back of the room.

An audible gasp filled the room as everyone turned to see the new bidder, including Candy. The bidder was a man, probably in the upper forties, half bald with glasses. He held number eleven.

"Sixty thousand dollars," countered Terry.

"Seventy thousand dollars."

"Eighty thousand dollars."

"One hundred thousand dollars," said the man who's holding number eleven.

A burst of excitement buzzed from the audience.

"One hundred and fifty thousand dollars," said Terry.

At this stage, mainly Terry and the man with number eleven exchanged bids actively. The audience excitedly followed the two of them.

# # #

"Three hundred thousand dollars," offered the man number eleven a few minutes later.

"Three hundred thousand dollars and ten," said Terry. He gave a hopeless looked to Candy.

"Five hundred thousand dollars," countered the man number eleven easily.

Candy weakly sank to her chair. The excitement soon changed to disbelief - someone really wanted to pay that much? She would already happy if she could raise one thousand dollars and someone offered five hundred times as much!

"Five hundred thousand dollars,# going once, twice# Last call." Albert pounded his gravel on the rostrum. "Sold to the bidder number eleven."

Thus, the auction was over.

Applause erupted. Thus, concluded the fund-raising activity for the day. The press swarmed around the man number eleven to take his picture to be put in the news.

From the far, Terry looked at Candy with an apologetic gesture. He shook his head forming sorry with his mouth. Candy smiled back at Terry forming that's okay with her mouth, blowing a thank you kiss to her kind friend.

Archie took the rest of the crowd for lunch hosted by the Pony's home while Candy nervously walked behind Albert to meet the auction winner. The short man number eleven had a friendly face and laughing eyes. Candy felt a bit relieved seeing his agreeable kind face.

"Sir William, it's an honor to see you," said the winner number eleven. He greeted Albert with a handshake and a formal bow. "John. John Stewart."

"The pleasure is all mine," returned Albert ceremoniously. He turned around to introduce Candy. "Ms. Candice Ardlay."

"Ms. Ardlay nice meeting you." John held out his hand for a handshake.

"Nice meting you too, Mr. Stewart," replied Candy accepting his handshake. "Thank you. It's very generous of you."

He nodded with much respect to Candy.

"Is Ms. Ardlay ready to go now? My master is waiting for you in the restaurant."

"'Master'?" blurted Candy.

"I came here on behalf of my master. He had an engagement this morning which prevented him taking part in the morning section," explained John in a polished tone. "Please accept our apology."

Albert and Candy looked at one another. From what Candy understood, Albert told her that the bidder must show up in person. Clearly this was a violation of the written rule. Candy stared at her prince silently begged for a guidance.

"May we know your master's name?" asked Albert.

"He'd rather not disclose his identity at this moment, Sir William," declined John professionally. "He will reveal himself to Ms. Ardlay at lunch."

"Would you excuse us for a moment, Mr. Stewart?" asked Albert.

John bowed.

Albert took Candy to the adjacent room for a private discussion.

"This is outside the outlined rule, Candy. You're supposed to meet the person first before going out to have lunch with him. You don't have to go."

"It'd be fine, Albert," persuaded Candy. "The lunch is held in a public place, isn't it?"

She wanted to go. Half million dollars! Just for a lunch with a stranger? She would do it for Ms. Pony and Sr. Lane who had been so kind to her since she was a baby.

After some negotiation and consulting lawyers, Albert arranged to have Candy go separately in a separate car with her own driver and two body guards.

Half an hour later Candy arrived at the destination.

John had Candy seated in the middle of the crowded restaurant.

"Ms. Ardlay, I'll be back soon," said John after Candy was comfortably seated.

Candy waited quietly, impatient to have the lunch and got the money deposited into Pony's home back account.

Who says there's no such thing as free lunch?, Candy laughed to herself. She played with her fingers, feeling hopeful and happy trying to guess how the person looked like. John said it's a "he" so he's a man. Probably a kind old rich man the way she used to imagine uncle William was or Mr. McGregor+.

From the corner of her eyes, Candy sensed someone watching her# soon she saw a man in a very expensive suit coming to her direction, approaching her.

Must be him, thought Candy.

Candy lifted up her head with a megawatt smile which fell apart as soon as her eyes hit the man's face. He's not the old kind man she's been imagining. It's that familiar wicked face with that trademark grin.

"Neal!" she whispered.

With one wave, Neal dismissed John who's scurrying behind him. He then came alone approaching Candy with the arrogant look she had often seen him put on his face.

"Good afternoon, Candy," Neal began.

-To Be Continued 每

~ Pouppe=Poppi: Albert's skunk.

*I use today's currency so we could imagine the magnitude of the amount better.

+Mr. McGregor: The old man Candy, as a nurse, took care of in the manga.

Thanks for reading.


Chapter 9: Mystery Winner

Chapter 9: Mystery Winner

"What the f-," Candy was about to swear when strong scent of exotic cologne entered and tickled her nose. "A-Achoo." Candy sneezed. Her nose became unbearably itchy. "Achoo." She sneezed again and again.

"You have a cold, Candy?" asked Neal.

"No! It's your cologne... Gezz how many bottles did you use?" sneezed Candy again and again.

"Sorry," said Neal, alarmed. "The smell is kind of strong. But, I didn't know you're allergic."

"Only to a very bad smell. Achoo# Early fall, late spring. Indoor mold! Achooo."

"Fuck, my handkerchief is also scented#," swore Neal. "Indoor? Then let's move outside!"

"John!" called Neal. "We move outside."

"It's not too chilly, master Neal?" confirmed John.

It's already autumn. No one wanted to sit outside anymore. All outdoor seats had been moved inside.

"Move outside!" reiterated Neal.

John quickly made the request and hurriedly waitresses came to take seats and table from inside and moved them outdoor. After all settled, Neal nodded sending John and all the waitresses away.

Breathing clean air, Candy was back to herself, the itchiness in her nose subsided. She pushed Neal's hand which offered her more tissue.

"Coward. Why didn't you show up to show your real face to all of us."

"You asked me not to come," answered Neal calmly. He handed a large bouquet of flowers to Candy. "Would you care?"

She pressed her hand hard to prevent it from punching a blow in his annoying face.

"I don't want your flowers."

"Fine...," he shrugged, tossed the bouquet to the table and sat down. "Please sit down."

She didn't budge. He leaned making himself comfortable in his chair. She could tell that he's staring at her but she refused to stare back.

He kept examining her while she stayed still. Then, drumming his fingers on the table he broke the silence.

"Has William kissed you yet?" asked Neal.

He said the question slowly and clearly, she's so sure she didn't misinterpret what he said. It was so shocking to be asked such a personal question, blatantly. With her mouth dropped wide, she stared at him, frozen.

"Has he?" Neal reiterated the question after a long moment of silence. He examined her mouth which remained unclosed. "Not big enough, Candy. For my dick to fit, you might want to open that a bit wider."

She shut her mouth instantly. It took everything she had not to jump to attack the man and to beat the hell out of him. No one had ever annoyed her this much.

"Is that the real reason you came to the charity lunch?" she asked between her gritted teeth.

"Mostly," he answered matter-of-factly. "I want to know when you'll be done with William so I can start to have you in my bed." He grinned.

Grinned? Her breath still. How dare he? She's so infuriated. This man always had the worst way of asking for a date. It's like inviting one to hate, instead. She should've got used to it by now and just let go. But it's hard. He always proved that he could do worse each time.

"Did you see me dancing with him in the party?" growled Candy, fully provoked.

"Yes. I saw him holding you an arm away. Why? You're allergic to his cologne too?" Neal asked flatly.

"Son of the b-."

"Or is that all he can do for you?" cut Neal. "A frosty, non-existent chemistry kind of romance?" He leaned forward and clucked his tongue. "Candy, you don't know what you've been missing."

His blatancy was so unbearable. Unlike in the past, now he talked with undeterred confidence which made it very more annoying. She decided he didn't worth a second more of her time. Without giving him any answer, she turned around to leave.

"If you left, I'd drop my bid," threatened Neal without raising his voice.

"You can't. Albert has lawyers to make sure that won't happen."

"I have lawyers too."

Candy got nailed at her spot. Ms. Pony and Sr. Lane were very happy with the outcome of the auction. What if they found out that it's canceled?

But Candy refused to surrender to Neal's threat. There's always another solution. Gathering herself, she toughened her heart and kept on walking.

"Plus 20% fee. My time is not free, you know. Not to mention the difficulties, inconvenience and effort I invested to come to this lunch," added Neal.

Candy turned around. He grinned. Slowly, he lifted his wrist to glance at the very expensive looking watch he had there.

"This trip has cost me more than one hour of my precious time and yet nowhere close to be finished," said Neal in the most annoying possible tone.

Her whole body shook in rage. He's so infuriating. She's been bearing years of his awful treatments and she could try to ignore it. But if he started to caused troubles to Pony's home, she would not let him. Now she exploded.

"You're the lowest of all pond scum!" screamed Candy in disgust.

She grabbed the bouquet from the table and slammed it to his face. He caught her wrist.

"Don't hit me."

She moved her other free hand to slap him but he caught that wrist too. It used to be very easy to slap him or to push him down. Exasperated, Candy tried to kick his ball. He pushed her to the wall, pinning her body with his. She struggled but there's no use. His hard body was so impenetrable just like hard metal iron.

Candy suddenly remembered that they changed seat from indoor to outdoor. Now they're outside, alone, no one could see them. She didn't tell her bodyguards either that she changed seat. Very stupid.

"Let me go," Candy started to scream, madly. "Help! Sex offender! Help!"

She never would have expected what he'd do next.

Clutching both of her wrists in one hand, Neal used his free hand to sweep her ponytails and pull them down bringing her face up to face him. He quickly brought his mouth to hers and claimed it in a deep possessive kiss. She tried to bite him but she couldn't. He positioned his lips and tongue so expertly that she could do nothing but to let him freely invade her mouth sucking all air from her lung. When he finally lifted his mouth, all she could was grasping, filling her lung with precious air.

"One more yell, darling," said Neal, panting over her ear. "Then I carry you inside and fuck you in front of the crowd."

"Phew! Bah bah," spat Candy in disgust. Wiping her lips vigorously to her sleeve. "I hate you!"

"Still?" he asked softly. "Even after I kissed you?"

He carefully released his grip. Candy pushed him.

"But," continued Candy with noticeable lower voice. She wouldn't risk him do what he threatened to do. "I'm not afraid of you. Your sister and mother are not here. You have no skirt to hide."

A flicker of fire burned in his eyes. She knew she won today's fight.

"Take it back or I'll make you regret saying what you just said!"

"Ho ho! The truth hurts, doesn't it? You can't do shit without your mom or sister!" repeated Candy.

"You fucking piss me off."

"Why? For telling you the fact?" jeered Candy all warmed up. "I won't bow down to your demand mister. I'm leaving you!" She laughed mockingly. "Have a nice fucking life, mommy boy!"

She ran away.

Neal kicked the table in frustration. How come other women easily flocked around him but not her. He tried everything. Flowers didn't work, chocolate didn't work, kissing didn't work# anything didn't work with her. He was so mad.

Why#?, thought Neal as he blew his fist hard to the table. Why they always had to fight? Why couldn't she be a bit cooperative#

But now they're here, dignity came first. He refused to surrender. If that's what she wanted, he would do as provoked and accept her challenge.

oOoo

Candy felt some small consolation for being able to deliver that "mommy boy" punch line. But as soon as she sat down in the car, disappointment started to enter her heart. She thought she won a big money for the Pony's home. Now, all gone!

Back in Pony's home, Candy sneaked in to avoid Ms. Pony and Sr. Lane and directly went to look for Albert. He was in the office waiting for Candy.

"Albert," sobbed Candy. She ran directly to his arms. Crying and sobbing, she told him the disappointing news.

"Neal was so rude, Albert," complained Candy tearfully while Albert listened sympathetically.

"So, I canceled the lunch," sobbed Candy. "Neal was mad... He demanded us to pay 20% cancelation fee."

Albert gaped, shook his head in disbelief.

"Neal is mean... Really mean," cried Candy exasperatedly. "Poor Ms. Pony and Sr. Lane. They thought we successfully raised money for the Pony's home. But#, we ended up losing money." Candy cried. "Heartless# heartless man. How could he do such a mean thing in the name of charity!"

Candy kept crying and Albert hugged Candy kindly.

"Neal is pathetic...," said Albert gently after Candy got a bit calmer.

She nodded, kept sobbing.

"Don't worry, Candy," said Albert after some thinking. "I'll cover the cost. In return, you accompany me to lunch, how's that?"

"Oh Albert!" screamed Candy, relieved. "Thank you!" As usual her prince came to the rescue.

They went back to the restaurant where Candy met Neal to have lunch. She ate heartily. It made a huge difference who the lunch partner was.

They chatted about everything throughout the lunch. Albert told Candy about his business project, too.

"I have to go to a business trip again," said Albert.

Candy who's busying eating just nodded. She's unexpectedly hungry, must be because of the tension, anger and crying Neal had caused her.

"We're developing an aerospace division, Candy. Airplane will be the way to future intercontinental traveling. It's much faster than ships," Albert told her.

Candy didn't really follow all Albert's complex argument. She couldn't believe that LeAnn was actually in charge of all these. LeAnn must be exceptionally brainy, thought Candy.

Overall, Candy had the best day.

A few days later, Candy took Albert to a train station. She was relieved that LeAnn didn't go with him this time.

-To Be Continued 每

Thanks for reading.


Chapter 10: No Doubt

CHAPTER 10: No Doubt

A week later...

Candy just finished her class. She was putting her books in her bag and chatting with her friends when her professor called her. "Ms. Ardlay, the Associate Dean asked to see you." His face was stern.

"Oh?" Candy muttered, surprised. "When?"

"The sooner the better. Like# now."

From how her professor talked, Candy sensed there must be something serious. Candy's friend whispered good luck to her and they parted ways.

No Dean had ever asked to have an audience with her throughout her academic career. Wondering what's so urgent, Candy walked directly to the Dean's office. It seemed that the Dean had been waiting for her. When Candy told her name to the secretary, she readily took Candy to meet the Dean.

"Ms. Ardlay," the Dean began. "This is your... second year?"

"Correct, Sir."

He frowned. "Then, you should be aware by now where our university stands regarding the intellectual integrity?"

"Absolutely, Sir," answered Candy.

"That the university values intellectual integrity to the highest standard and that we don't tolerate academic dishonesty of any kind," recited the Dean. "Do we agree on this?"

"Totally."

"Ms. Ardlay, is this your handwriting?" asked the Dean. He took a piece of paper from one envelope and gave it to Candy.

"Yes," Candy examined it. "Looks like it."

"Are you aware that cheat sheet is considered as one form of academic dishonesty?"

"Cheat sheet?" wondered Candy. An idea suddenly occurred in her mind. "A-Are you accusing me of cheating, Sir?" She looked at the Dean in disbelief.

"Ms. Ardlay, we found this cheat sheet under your desk after the exam," the Dean said flatly. He watched Candy intently like a hawk hunting down its prey.

Candy stared at the Dean. First, she was shocked. Now, she felt outraged by the baseless accusation.

"We have reviewed your performance. We're aware that you've been a good student and this is your first offense of academic misconduct. Considering these facts, this time we won't expel you from the university. However, you will get zero for this assignment and if we caught you cheating again in the future, in any form, you'd be expelled immediately."

"There must be a mistake," defended Candy. She didn't seek for a lesser punishment. The acknowledgement of the truth was far more important to her. "Yes, this looks like my handwriting, but I don't think this note is written by me!"

"Ms. Ardlay, we have eye witnesses."

"Someone tries to black mail me. This is all lies!" protested Candy.

"Are you saying now that this is not your handwriting, Ms. Ardlay?" the Dean stared at her sternly.

"No# I said someone was copying my handwriting#" From how the Dean's look, Candy could tell that he didn't believe her.

She kept pressed on# But, whatever she said was useless, all her objections hit dead ends. With head drooped low, Candy left the office determined to keep digging for the truth.

Then suddenly, a scary idea crept trough her brain. Neal? She remembered their last conversation when he threatened to prove his "point"! Must be Neal!

"Damn it! Neal! Fucking dirty man!" yelled Candy angrily. But, shouldn't he be in Florida? I go and check!

Candy ran to her car and drove to the Leagan mansion. A servant there said that Neal was in the office, so Candy drove to the Leagan office headquarter.

Since Candy had no scheduled appointment, she had to go through lengthy process to enter the building.

First, Candy had to talk to the front door staff, next a security personnel checked her identity card, then she had to go to the second floor for another staff to interrogate her purpose of visit. After that, she had to meet a secretary on the third floor who took her to a higher level secretary and# Finally, after some more steps, another secretary seated her in the waiting room.

By the time Candy was allowed to meet Neal, she was nearly exploded with impatience. Once Candy knew which door Neal's office was, disregarding all the secretaries, staffs and whoever, Candy stormed into it without knocking.

Yes, Neal was there. Right here in Chicago!

"How come you're not in Florida!" fired Candy.

He grinned calmly seemingly already prepared and expected her visit. He nodded to the confused staffs who're standing at the door. They hurriedly went outside and closed the door.

"I don't have to. I finished my study and my father wants me to be here while he's in the business trip." He inhaled a deep breath, looking so proud at himself. "My mother and sister go with him." He grinned mockingly at her. "So# Am I still hiding behind their skirts?"

"How dare you blackmail me!"

"Apologize, have lunch with me, and I'll clean your name."

"Apologize shit! I'd rather be expelled from school than to eat with you!" Candy grumbled. "I hate you."

She walked towards the door to leave. She would go back to the Dean to clear her name and fight for her dignity.

"Enlighten me." Candy heard Neal respond. "Tell me exactly why you hate me."

Candy turned around and screamed, "Idiot!"

Neal frowned, slowly putting his pen down. "I'm serious. Why?"

"Because you've been a bad ass since the moment we met," burst Candy angrily. "Isn't that obvious?"

Did she know that he had all locations of her freckles memorized? As they spoke now, his heart was throbbing for being able to see her. Even all she said was hate words, it's still better than not seeing her at all# Now he understood, the past years in Florida he had been living in denial. He had tried so hard to drag on his life and force his heart to hate Candy. He faked the emptiness by proudly being with so many girls while he actually needed only one to live# Candy.

"I don't want to fight with you anymore. I want you to forget everything I did," said Neal. "We go to dinner and start over - fresh from scratch."

"What you want!" Candy shook her head in disbelief. His self-centeredness just never changed, hopelessly irreversible. "Hell I care what you want. Why don't you follow what I want instead?"

"Which is?" He lifted his eyebrows.

"I want you to never see me. Just go away, never come back!"

"Won't happen," snapped Neal. "I want you." He casually gestured to a nearby seat to offer her to sit down. She ignored him.

"I don't want you. Stop objectifying me," said Candy in disgust. "Have you ever considered that relationship is based on mutual give-and-take, understanding, and respect?"

"In this world?" He curled his bottom lip mockingly and shook his head. "There's no such thing! Unlike others though, I don't pretend. Women want status. Men want beauties. You have what I want, I have what you want." He looked so proud to himself.

She assessed his face for a moment while digesting his incredulous statement. It's hard to believe that he actually believed it. But he seemed so. He looked deadly serious not at all joking.

"And lucky you, Candy# I do actually like you," Neal added. "How-"

"Lucky jack shit!" screamed Candy, couldn't take it anymore. "A fucking narcissist, self centered, egocentric rich-spoiled-kid. Not all women are licking ass. For sure, not me! Before you talk to me again, which I pray never, go read some relationship manual. Learn how to be a better-"

"Shut up," Neal snapped. "You! Should read the manual!"

"F-"

"Answer this," cut Neal. "How many times has William said that you're beautiful?"

Albert never said it. Her heart dropped feeling torn and anguished realizing that one sad fact.

"Well, Ms. Relationship-Expert? Why are you so quite suddenly?" challenged Neal. "He never says it, doesn't he?"

Her legs went numb almost couldn't support her own weight anymore. She moved a step backward, shaken and beaten.

"I will say you are beautiful, at least, twice a day." He got up from his chair and walked to her. "At night before you sleep and in the morning when you wake up."

His face changed. His eyes started to look so gentle as he moved very close to her. It frightened her.

"Back the hell off," Candy cringed.

"I tried everything. Everything! Damn you Candy. No one shouts at me. No one rejects my lunch, no one trashes my flowers. And you do all." He was only a few inches from her now. Candy was more scared than angry now.

"I even offered you to start over!"

"No use! You're too screwed up!" Candy screamed so her voice didn't tremble. She started to be on guard to protect herself from whatever he's going to do next.

"I can only think of one more thing to do then." Neal grabbed and pulled her elbow. She held her breath. "I will make you feel me. Let the feeling explain everything I've failed to express." Gently, he stroked her arms and looked at her with flickering heat. "Candy..."

Panicked, using all her energy she had, Candy snapped her arm as hard as she could to release herself. Then she quickly ran to the door. She pulled the handle down but the door didn't move. It's locked. Trembling, she saw Neal move yet a step closer.

"Don't get closer!"

"You have no way to go, Candy," said Neal. His voice hoarse, his eyes bored deeply under her dress. "The door is locked. Obviously."

She estimated that she couldn't win with the current grown up Neal. The man is much taller than her now. His shoulder was broad, his body was hard. Panicked, she looked around and spotted one window was slightly open.

Without a second thought, she ran towards that window and slammed it wide open. She looked down through the window like making some calculations.

"No... I know you won't jump!" Neal muttered.

Candy met his gaze and scoffed. "You know nothing about me!"

To Neal horror, Candy climbed and straddled on the window ledge. She then pulled her other leg too making her both legs hanged dangerously on the ledge of the window.

"What are you doing?" asked Neal, scared. "Get back, here."

Candy waved and said, "Bye, bye!" She smirked.

"Candy!" screamed Neal, stricken. "Don't move... "

Ignoring him, she jerked herself and leapt out of the window.

"Candy!" screamed Neal, almost fainted. Jesus, she committed a suicide!

Neal ran to the window. Shuddered, he looked down expecting to see Candy's bloody body lie on the ground and other scary things.

To Neal's relief# he saw Candy hanging on a tree. Her hands were holding on to a branch as she stuck her tongue out at him. She then made some acrobatic move swinging from one branch to another and started her descent.

That's my girl..., thought Neal. He almost cried so relieved to see her alive and fine. Worriedly, he lingered a bit longer to watch her climbing down the tree. It's a tall tree. What if she missed a step and fell.

When Candy almost reached the ground, Neal stormed out of his office which prompted secretaries, staffs and so on to shove quickly on their feet. Ignoring them all, Neal ran downstairs to look for Candy. She was walking towards the gate, ready to cross the street.

"Candy, come back! We talk," Neal yelled.

"I won't listen! I am done with you." Candy lifted her hands and covered both of her ears. Let him know that she had her ears shut. Whatever he said wouldn't matter because she wouldn't hear it!

She then threw her face to the right refusing to see Neal who's coming from the left. Without looking to the left, Candy ran to cross the street. She didn't see a car heading the wrong way coming from the left.

Neal saw it.

-To Be Continued 每

Thanks for reading. Will post the next chapter ASAP.


Chapter 11: Start Over

CHAPTER 11: Start Over

"Candy! On your left," screamed Neal.

The car sped up closer, but with both ears covered and face thrown to the opposite direction, Candy could hear or saw nothing.

"Candy! Look out! Your left!" Neal started to run after her.

"Candy# YOUR LEFT!" yelled Neal again on the top of the lung. "Damnit Candy, open your ears!"

Scared to death, Neal watched the car rapidly closing its distance from Candy. His stomach dropped in chilling fright imagining the terrible impact that would crush his beloved girl at any time, now.

No! My girl must not get hit, Neal thought, determinedly.

Exceeding all limits, driven by unparalleled determination, and fueled by love, Neal started to sprint after her.

Let him go to hell, cursed Candy, completely oblivious to the danger that's looming over her.

Candy hadn't finished cursing when she felt a strong push on her shoulder sending her fall to the ground. As she's falling, she sensed some gush of wind and heard a buzzing sound passing through her.

Huh?!, Candy gasped as she crushed at the road side. Almost at the same time, she saw a car speed passing her.

She lifted her head, blinking. A c-car?, her mind was clouded still not sure what's happening when in horror she saw Neal roll on the moving car's hood. His head hit the windshield before he was thrown to the ground. Neal fell flopped on his back at the side of the hard road.

Putting the puzzles together, immediately Candy understood it all. She didn't check the road before crossing. Oh, how could she be so careless! She didn't see that car coming. And# Neal saved her! He pushed her and got himself hit instead. Oh no# Don't!

"Neal!" screamed Candy. As much as she hated this man passionately, she wouldn't want him, or anyone for that matter, to die hit by a car on her behalf.

Terrified, Candy watched Neal; waiting for him to stand back up but he didn't. Oh God! Don't let him die! Please, I'll do anything in return. Anything#

She knew she should check the license plate number of the fleeing car to report it to the police. But at this moment, she just couldn't care of anything else but the life of the man who's lying on the road.

Lord, let me die instead. Please...! Take me# Shocked and trembling - frantically Candy got up and rushed to Neal's side.

"Neal!" She dropped on her knees next to him.

"Candy... Are you okay?"

She was relieved that he could respond. But it also tore her. He just got himself hit by a car for her sake. And yet, the first question he asked was about her well being! Her throat tightened, tears welled in her eyes.

"Yes, yes... Neal. I'm okay." She choked out. His brown eyes never looked so kind.

Shaking, she reached out and gripped his hand that grappled looking for hers.

"Candy...," he murmured. He lifted his other hand and stroke her cheek so gently she wanted to cry. "I love you..."

Her heart stopped beating. 'Love' , Candy covered her mouth and burst into tears.

She would rather he blamed her for the accident, cursed her, swore at her# But among all the things he could have said, he said he loved her? Why? And# why Neal? Why not others who she's been hoping so much to give her this love word but never did it? Some men face, including Terry and Albert's, floated briefly in her mind.

Everything suddenly cleared up.

The memory of all his annoying gestures came back, how he repeatedly said he liked her, and# the engagement proposal. Those had some truth, then? She always thought that he's merely trying to humiliate her.

Shaken, she thought of something nice to say before it's too late.

"Neal#," Candy cried tearfully, her voice was breaking heavily. "Y-you said you wanted to start over. Let's do it. Let's be friends. V-very good friends."

No response.

"Neal#!" screamed Candy.

Yet, no response. She's a nurse but now she felt blank like a novice.

"Help!" burst Candy out of her suffocating chest. "Somebody! Help!"

oOo

An ambulance came and took them to the closest hospital which also the hospital where Candy worked. Since the Leagans were one of the biggest donors, they put him straight in the VIP room. Quickly, doctors and nurses swarmed to take care of him.

While waiting for the examination, Candy was crying on her desk. Her aching heart kept wishing for Neal's well being and making promises to be nice to him for the rest of her life. She blamed her carelessness for causing the terrible accident. Emotionally drained and exhausted, Candy fell asleep... She's woken up by a tap at her shoulder.

"Candy# Candy# Wake up. You can visit Mr. Leagan now," Candy heard Dr. Lisa's kind voice.

Everyone knew that the Leagans and Ardlays are close family. This was the first time Candy felt relieved to be a member of that prominent family and to work there as a nurse.

"He's been lucky," said Dr. Lisa cheerfully. "No broken bones*. Nothing serious - considering how you described the impact."

Candy felt so relieved to hear the doctor's encouraging statement.

"Great!" Candy readily got up to run to meet Neal but Dr. Lisa tugged her hand and asked her to sit back down.

"No rush, Candy." Dr. Lisa went to the counter to get a glass of water and gently asked Candy to drink. "All prognosis looks good, except...," Dr. Lisa continued grimly.

"Except?" asked Candy. Oh no# She knew doctors. She realized how serious this seemingly quick except could be.

"Candy," said Dr. Lisa gently holding Candy's hand. "Mr. Leagan lost his memory. We don't know how serious, we just need to keep examine him closely."

Amnesia?, Candy's heart rolled to the floor. For a second she's not breathing. A burst of silent tears began to flow. Poor Neal. What had he done for me? She sobbed helplessly.

"His staff said his family is not in town. So you probably are one of the closest people who knows him correct?" continued the doctor.

Candy nodded.

"Be strong, Candy# He needs you," said the doctor. "I can assign you to be Natalie's assistant. You could also take time off."

VIP patients were handled by higher level nurses which Candy was not qualified yet. She would be after she graduated, but not now.

Candy refused to take time off. She wanted to stay working. Distraction was the best medicine. She refused for the preferential treatment to be Natalie's assistant either. She's fully aware of friction among coworkers. They wouldn't be happy if Candy got special treatments. Her relationship with her coworkers had been improving greatly recently, she didn't want to ruin it.

"Could I get the formal permission to visit him at any time, instead?" asked Candy. The doctor approved.

Dr. Lisa then explained Neal's condition in details and Candy rushed to check him.

When Candy entered, she found Neal sit quietly by himself in the bed, looking downward. He looked so alone. How was he feeling now that he knew no one#? Her eyes stung with tears. Poor Neal#

Candy quickly wiped her eyes and cleared her throat to make herself ready. She then knocked at the already opened door.

"Neal," called Candy softly putting the friendliest smile she possessed on her face.

Neal lifted up his head and captured her gaze.

He didn't know this nurse. He hadn't seen her before. Unlike other nurses though, she's different. She's# breathtaking!

An angel?, Neal thought, utterly overcome by Candy's smile. Frozen, he just watched her intently, unmoved.

"Hi Neal# say something#," said Candy. She came closer and stopped inches from him, so close that he could fill his eyes with her lovely face. Neal's chest swelled.

"Goddess#," he whispered.

For the first time, Candy was not at all mad for being called that way by Neal. He could call her anything, in fact, and she wouldn't mind. At least, he talked and still possessed that word in his vocabulary. That# was a good thing.

"Anything hurts, Neal?" asked Candy.

"Sores," he answered. His eyes widened. "You're the only one who calls me Neal." He stared inquisitively. "We are...?"

"Friends," said Candy firmly, looking straight into his eyes. "Good friends." Candy pointed to her name tag. "Call me nurse Ardlay."

"Nurse Ardlay," repeated Neal.

Candy offered her hands, and both shook hands. She almost cried.

If only he knew what this handshake means#, thought Candy. Her heart ached, realizing what he's willing to do for her sake. With all her strength, she held her tears. She pretended fixing his blanket to hide her face from his confused dark eyes which kept watching her.

"You saved me from being hit by a car. Thank you. You're my hero."

"I am glad I did that," Neal murmured. She's so beautiful# I'd die for her.

"The doctor said you can go home after three days. Your staff, John, is arranging everything needed to take you home."

"I see."

Someone knocked at the door. It's another nurse who came in to ask Neal's preferences for dinner.

"Dinner#? Hm..." Neal seemed lost.

"May I?" requested Candy looking at Neal. She turned to her coworker and answered the question on Neal's behalf.

"He likes lean beef steak, well done. Pumpkin pie for dessert, not too much cream. Orange juice for drink without additional sugar. For salad, put the dressing on the side," said Candy, seamlessly with total confidence.

Neal watched Candy in awe. What kind of friends are we?

The nurse left and Candy turned back to Neal.

"How's your heart rate?" Candy asked. She seemed concerned. Her voice was soft, fit for an angel.

"They said it's okay," replied Neal.

Candy gently took his wrist and wrapped it with her soft little fingers to time his pulse.

His heart leaped at her touch. It was amazing# Only this nurse could produce such effect. Only her! No one else.

"Yes, it's good!" said Candy. She rewarded him with a warm smile# Amnesia or not, he felt so sure that was the prettiest thing he had ever seen.

He managed to return a grin.

She then pressed her hand to his forehead. "No fever," she praised. "Very good, Neal!"

He felt sorry when she withdrew her hand back. "Thanks," Neal managed.

She smiled again. Sweet. Genuine. Not only the lips but also the rest of her face,# especially her eyes. They're big and green. Captivating. Unlike others', her eyes possessed some kind of hypnotic effect which stirred his soul. It's utterly beyond his understanding.

"How do-," finally Neal could gather enough strength to ask Candy some questions. But his voice was drowned by the clattered sound of the dinner cart that Natalie pushed into the room.

"Oh, nurse Miller is here," Candy muttered. "I should go back to my own station." Candy excused herself. "Bye, Neal!" She waved.

Candy nodded to Natalie and left...

Now that she had settled her anomity with Neal, Candy felt at peace, no more hatred, even happy. She never liked to have enemies. Cheerfully she opened the door to nurse working area.

"I'm sure Candy will be picked to be Neal Leagan's private nurse." Candy heard Judy said. "She always be lucky."

"Remember he got a visit by Terrence Grandchester in the past?" added Eleanor.

"She got all the fun visitors. Remember Sir William the amnesic?" said yet another one.

They nodded.

"Whoever# I don't care. I just wish Candy would introduce me to Mr. Leagan," said Eleanor, dreamy.

They laughed.

Candy exhaled sharply and entered the room. She cleared her throat extra loudly to notify her presence. "Talking about me?" She grinned.

The girls were stunt to see Candy stand with crossing arms at the doorway.

"Ah, you heard it." They giggled, embarrassed

Candy laughed too. Unlike in the past, she and the girls were friends now.

"Another amnesic patient for you, Candy!"

"I'm sure he'll take you as his nurse!"

Candy lifted her hand commanding attention. Everyone soon was silent.

"I won't be Mr. Leagan's nurse. I am not qualified," said Candy. "Natalie and others are taking care of him now."

"Never say never, Candy."

"We have issues. NO! I won't be his nurse. Discussions closed," Candy reiterated.

They giggled and started to disperse and got to work.

-To Be Continued 每

*For the skeptics: the accident/treatment/health analysis are not entirely made up :D It's taken from similar real life experience, with some modification to make it more dramatic.

~Judy, Eleanor, Natalie: other nurses in the hospital. Manga book 7, pg 3.

Thank you


Chapter 12: New Old Friend

CHAPTER 12: New Old Friend

Two days later, Neal was ready to go home. John came to the hospital to pick him up and prepare a full time nurse to care for Neal at home.

"Master Neal, here's the list of nurses who's been attending you. Nurse Miller, Baker, Peterson#," numerated John.

Neal scanned the list. Nurse Ardlay wasn't there.

"Some more here# You haven't met them, but they have strong qualification as well." John gave Neal the second list of names complete with their expertise.

Neal perused the second list eagerly to look for nurse Ardlay. But to his disappointment, her name was not there either.

"Any specific preference, Master Neal?"

"Anyone is fine," answered Neal. He exhaled disinterestedly.

John nodded and left to make the arrangement.

Looking outside the window, Neal played again the memory of his brief encounter with nurse Ardlay. The touch of her soft hands, her sweet smile# He played her voice that sounded like singing repeatedly in his head.

Someone knocked at the door. Neal ignored it. It's getting too tiring to chat with these nurses.

"Yes, he's inside." Neal heard John spoke followed by that distinct female voice. "Neal! Could I come in?"

A blonde with the most beautiful face soon peeked at the door.

Nurse Ardlay!, thought Neal excitedly.

Out of respect to her coworkers, Candy didn't visit Neal yesterday. But, she checked closely all report about him and frequently peeked from the far to see how he's doing.

"Hi, Neal! You're going home?" Candy asked with that singing voice which made Neal's heart bloomed with thousands flowers.

"Y-yes! Hi!" His tongue was numb, frozen by excitement.

"I am on the way home, too. Could I take you home?" asked Candy. "I could show you around the mansion#" She smiled shyly to her new friend.

She planned to visit him in the mansion until he got well or until he asked her not to. She owed him that much...

Neal of course agreed. So, John took Neal back to the mansion with Candy drove behind them.

At the mansion, John re-introduced Neal to many of his personal servants.

"Master Neal, to make it simple, just call me if you need anything. I'm your chief of staff," reminded John. He gave Neal a folder with the names of the dozens personals and their job descriptions.

"Fine# thanks John," said Neal.

John nodded politely. Neal had never said thank you but now he's been saying it regularly. John secretly sighed sympathetically.

"May I take him around, John?" offered Candy.

"Go ahead, Ms. Ardlay."

Candy pushed Neal in his wheelchair and showed him the many rooms in the mansion.

"And... This is your bedroom," Candy said finally.

"You know this place pretty well," said Neal, totally in awe.

Of course! I was your maid. Candy answered silently. After some consideration, she chose not to talk about it.

Neal noticed she opened her mouth briefly, before shutting it back down and gave a little smile.

She doesn't answer. Why? Perhaps she's my# ex?, he thought in horror mixed with excitementHis gaze went from Candy to his bed wondering if she had ever been in it before.

"It's complicated. You'll know one day when you remember things again," answered Candy vaguely. "Well Neal, you are well settled now. I need to take off too. Your nurse will come this afternoon-"

Oh no, he wouldn't let her run loose. There's something special in her. He wanted to get to know her better.

"Nurse Ardlay will not be my nurse?"

"Unfortunately, I can't. I don't have the necessary qualification to be a nurse of a VIP patient."

"But I'm much better now. That rule doesn't apply to my current case," Neal argued meekly but stubbornly.

He was technically correct.

Candy stared at the man who's sitting in the wheelchair, the man who's willing to give his life for her. She didn't hate him anymore. But she's still haunted by bad memories of living in this mansion. Even until today, she still tried to forget the most traumatic ones. She simply didn't want to live here.

"I go to school every day," Candy argued. "I can't be with you around the clock. I have a night shift, group study, exams... I don't like to drive alone at night#"

"My driver can take you wherever you want," pushed Neal softly but adamantly. He waved the folder in his hand... "I have dozens of personnel and numerous servants here. They can help me when you're not around."

Candy kept making up excuses but Neal kept shooting them down, one by one#

"You# er, like to wear cologne# and I am allergic to some of them," stammered Candy started to run out of excuses.

My cologne?! "I won't wear it, then," snapped Neal.

"I know you too personally# That makes it difficult," continued Candy carefully to not break his heart. "I won't be comfortable to, well# say help you undress, clean up#"

"I can do those myself," said Neal. "I stand up just fine."

He rose to his feet and kicked his wheel chair to prove his point. Candy hurriedly brought the wheelchair back and asked him to sit back down.

"Don't get carried away, Neal," Candy said. "Even though you feel fine, the doctor said you have to use the wheel chair today."

He looked sincere# Besides if not because of him, she might even be dead by now. Good friends wouldn't abandon their friends.

Candy surrendered.

She agreed to be his nurse even at the cost of living in this dreadful mansion.

"But only until your mother comes back," said Candy. That's non-negotiable. She's not going to live with Sarah Leagan or Eliza, ever.

"Thank you, nurse Ardlay," Neal whispered softly, visibly moved. "You look like an angel and are nice just like one."

He watched her gently, deeply grateful for her cooperation. For a moment Candy felt she's blushing.

"Well, I go pick up my stuffs from home," said Candy. She quickly got up to hide her face from his clear brown eyes which never left her.

Rolling his wheel chair, Neal took her to the door. From the car she saw him grin and wave.

So here we go, back to live in the Leagan mansion!, thought candy, waving back at him.

Oooo

Unexpectedly, things flowed much smoother than Candy thought. Sarah and Eliza weren't there and this Neal was accommodating. Without she realized it one day had passed by...

The following night#

Candy just finished doing her homework. She stretched out and looked at the clock.

Only ten o'clock? Still early!

She looked around examining her new room in the Leagan mansion while thinking what to do to fill the time. She could write Albert another letter and told him about her new home. She giggled. But she just mailed a letter to him this afternoon. She shouldn't flood him with letters. He's busy.

Too bad Annie was out of town with Archie and Patty was in the honeymoon. It'd be great to gossip about Neal with them.

Candy picked up her phone book and looked at the list of names in there. No one was as interesting to gossip with. They wouldn't understand why it's a big deal that she's back to live in the Leagan mansion.

Bored, Candy tossed her phone book to her desk# Then she noticed Neal was standing at the doorway with his crutches, looking at her. Neal had stopped using the wheelchair. The doctor advised him to use crutches just for precaution measures.

"Hi Neal, not sleeping?" greeted Candy.

"Had a strange dream#" He moved to balance himself and leaned on his crutches. "I dreamed we fought a terrible fight and you left."

He often had similar dreams, but this time it felt so real. He woke up, sweating, and went to check if his nurse was still there.

Candy bit her lips. Fighting was indeed the only thing they did together in the past.

Neal searched her face until she felt uncomfortable and looked away.

"Ah, it's just a dream. Ignore it. See, I'm here," said Candy lightly. She opened her arms widely making a gesture to herself. "I will not leave without telling you. Promise!"

He grinned, feeling better. "Nurse is busy? Am I interrupting your study?"

"Not at all. Stay if you like. I'm actually done for today," invited Candy. Her brain felt stuffy, it's good to have someone to talk to.

She made a move to get up and help him. But he made a sign not to. He's limping on his crutches and threw himself to a nearby sofa.

"You always be this diligent?" Neal asked as he put his crutches next to the sofa.

"I wish, I did." She set a glass of drink for him on the nearby table. "I used to skip my study, night shift, or run away from my duties." Candy laughed. "Fannie, a fellow nurse, showed me that there's something more important in life than thinking about man."

"Man? Your date?"

"He was# he's with someone else though now." Candy told Neal the story with Terry and Suzanna in great details. It's strange. She never be this open-book to anyone before.

"I'm sorry," said Neal.

"Don't be." She blushed under his stare no matter how hard she tried not to. He saw it.

"You found someone better?" asked Neal, examining her face.

The Prince of the Hill is a secret. I shouldn't tell him. Not a bit!, vowed Candy to herself.

Candy had kept her love to Albert secret to anyone even to Annie and Patty. Albert was Sir William the patriarch! To protect Albert from gossip she had vowed not to breathe a single word to anyone about it until, hopefully, Albert proposed to her one day.

Neal rubbed his chin, observing her silence. "The new one is better, isn't he?" fished Neal. He grinned.

She just lost it. Neal's style at conversation curtailed her. It easily opened her up. Candy who had been bursting to talk about Albert with someone decided to share a tiny bit of it.

"Yes," she covered her cheeks with both hands, giggling. "Wish me luck." Candy could feel her face red hot. "He's my prince." Candy laughed.

"Prince?" His voice was crisp with magnetic effect.

Soon she found herself told Neal everything about Albert starting from the first time they met in Pony's Hill. In great details.

"He fits all my criteria," said Candy finally, blushing.

"Obviously! He's rich!" Neal quipped. "Even if he were a useless toad 每"

"No! Wrong!" Candy snorted. "His money is not even in my criteria list!"

"He's dazzling as hell?"

"Yeah. Albert is dazzling," Candy chuckled. "But, that's not why I like Albert."

"So why then?"

"We are good friends," answered Candy. "My man has to be my best friend. Someone who I can talk to about anything. Good look or money are not important to me."

She treasures kindness and friendship not status or look, memorized Neal, making a note to himself.

She couldn't believe she just told Neal everything about Albert. Neal could easily make her talk now that they stopped fighting. Why? Because a new friendship was blossoming maybe? The stirring way his clear dark eyes stared? Or because he had amnesia so she felt all information shared was safely remained anonymous? Whatever it is, she actually rather enjoyed it.

"I have another hush-hush#," continued Candy, unable to hold herself. "My secret wish..."

"May I know what that is?"

Candy looked at Neal, stunt. This Neal was so polite. She giggled silently.

"I want to be the best nurse to all my patients."

"It's happening, nurse. I have no memory for comparison. But trust me, you're awesome."

Candy laughed hearing his revelation. She had such a good time!

Neal grinned. She's so beautiful. Her smile is so addicting.

"What about# us?" asked Neal carefully. "You said you knew me."

Candy froze, looking at his curious face. She didn't like to lie. But she didn't want to tell him that they're the worst of enemies either.

Luckily, the clock chimed twice. She felt saved by the bell.

"Two o'clock in the morning#!" exclaimed Candy exaggeratedly loud. Quickly, she used the opportunity to get up and avoid answering his question. "Long story# Some other time, Neal."

"Listen to your nurse#," said Candy as soon as she saw him try to protest. "Bed time!" She gave a friendly but firm smile to her new friend.

She's avoiding the question, again, thought Neal. It's so tempting to push her to speak. Then, he remembered his dreams. They fought a lot there and at the end she always left him. Cautiously, he decided not to bring up the subject anymore tonight.

Neal let Candy take him to his bedroom. He stared at her face as she kindly held his arm and put him to bed. With a supremely attractive smile, she gently took the crutches from his hands and put them next to his bed. She gently whispered kind words as she arranged his pillows to make him comfortable.

"Good night," she said softly, carefully covering him with the bed sheet.

He wished he would never get well so he could have her every day. Hopefully, Albert would not come back from his business trip for a long time.

Candy exhaled a deep breath as she closed Neal's bedroom door behind her. She couldn't believe that she just chatted for four hours with Neal Leagan!

Neal... my new friend?, thought Candy, amazed...

-TO BE CONTINUED-

Thanks for reading


Chapter 13: The Pooch

CHAPTER 13: The Pooch

A week after the accident...

Neal had stopped using crutches. Every day with Candy they took a walk farther and farther outside the mansion.

"Today is Friday and nurse doesn't have a night shift. Let's go somewhere farther," suggested Neal.

"The lake is there and your horse stable is over there," pointed Candy. "You like to boat and ride a horse, but you shouldn't do those yet."

"I mean# perhaps we could watch a play? I read Othello is coming to town."

He'd like to go out with this nurse who's so kind and constantly making his heart tremble with joy.

"We shouldn't go that far," said Candy.

"Oh come on. It's already a week!" protested Neal. "Obviously, nothing broke and no brain damage here..." said Neal tapping his head.

Candy shot him an eerie glance.

"Fine, some amnesia#," retorted Neal. "But I will just sit when watching a play."

"Okay, but promise you'll behave exactly as I tell you."

Neal promised her. Then went to the theater.

oOo

The theater was exceptionally crowded that night. Candy was worried that someone might bump Neal or accidentally pushed him and made him fall. The last thing her patient needed was another bump in his head.

"Neal, you wait for me outside." Candy took him to a bench next to a hot-dog stand just outside the theater. "Sit here." She then went back inside to hang her coat, get tickets, and other things.

Neal watched Candy until she disappeared inside the building then busied himself by looking at things surround him.

"Shoo Shoo!" An angry shout rang out.

A hot-dog seller dashed from his stand chasing a dog with a stick in his hand.

"I said shoo! Go away!" yelled the hot-dog seller trying to beat the dog with his stick.

With its tail tucked between its legs, the dog ran into a nearby bush.

The dog waited inside the bush until the hot-dog seller left, then it slowly crawled out from its hiding place. It walked across the lawn sniffing, looking for food. Somewhere, it found a crumpled paper bag and eagerly worked to open it. After great difficulty, the dog finally found a tiny piece of something edible inside, seemingly so precious and delicious. The dog quickly devoured it. It then continued sniffing for food. This time, it found nothing.

The dog drifted its attention back to the hot dog stand, the source of the mouthwatering meat smell. Unblinking, it watched the meat displayed, hoping that a tiny piece might drop to the ground for him to snatch. Licking its mouth, it took a step toward the hot-dog stand, then another, and another one... The hot-dog seller saw the dog coming. The dog whimpered beseechingly, thumping its little white paw to the ground begging for food.

Felt provoked, the hot-dog seller picked up his stick and hit the dog. The dog ran and the seller chased it back into the bush.

Thus, the process repeated... The dog seemed lacked the experience to get food. It's unbearably frustrating for Neal to watch.

"Hi dog," called Neal when the dog passed through him.

The dog watched Neal briefly before putting its attention back to the sausages. It's a young small dog, short-hair, white with patches of black hair. It's so skinny that its rib was visible through its dull thin fur.

Neal went to the hot-dog stand to buy one sausage and went back to his seat.

"Here dog, want one?" offered Neal.

The dog watched the sausage in Neal's hand with his round black eyes but hesitated to make a move. Neal threw the sausage on the ground close to the pooch. With waving tail, it sniffed around the sausage. It tilted its head, staring at Neal. Neal nodded encouragingly.

Quickly, the dog snatched the sausage and swallowed it in one gulp.

"Want more?" asked Neal.

The dog stared at Neal, its tail was wagging so hard.

Neal went back to buy a plate of sausages and give it to the dog. The dog gobbled the meat eagerly, making cackling sound as it ate.

Neal watched the dog eating until he saw Candy.

"My nurse is back. I get to go," said Neal to the dog. "Take care!"

Neal got up instantly and met Candy.

"Neal," called Candy, waving the tickets. "We're ready!"

They just separated for a few minutes, but it seemed like ages to him. Their eyes met making his heart flutter like mad. It seemed insane, but everything only made perfect sense when she's here next to him.

I am so falling to this nurse, he thought.

They entered the building and watched Othello

oOo

Candy was in high spirit after watching the superb show. It was a beautiful night, unusually warm for autumn weather, too. She felt like spending more time in downtown. Neal happily accompanied her to stroll around the city park. They were sitting on a bench enjoying the waterfront when Neal noticed a ball of fur circling around his feet.

"Oh, it follows me."

"It?" asked Candy. "Who? What?"

Neal told her about the dog and the sausage.

"That's lovely," said Candy, touched. "I love animals# Albert does too."

"What about me?" asked Neal automatically.

"Well, you never own pets."

Neal grinned. This nurse just knew so much about him. He started to get used to it.

"I have no more food, dog," said Neal to the dog. It's already late, there's no more street vendor on the street. "You should go home."

Candy laughed and started to tell Neal stories about Pouppe, Hurly, Mina, and other animals. Neal was so lost in her company. Carefully, he offered Candy to dine in a nearby restaurant so he could be with her longer. Candy who had a great time herself, agreed. Neal was ecstatic.

They strolled looking for a place to eat. Candy chose to dine in the restaurant that offered Friday Night Live Performance.

"I love a live performance," said Candy, smiled broadly.

It's fine with him. Anything# All he cared about was he could have a candle light dinner with this nurse. The atmosphere was so romantic, he had to fight a great effort to not creep closer to her...

"NOW LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, The LAST SONG OF TODAY!" the announcer interrupted his romantic mood. "BAGPIPE DANCING!"

The performers invited audience to get into the stage and dance accompanied by the bagpipe music#

Neal noticed his nurse look frozen right away, watching dreamily at the stage. He could guess why. She must be thinking about her prince of the hill!

An idea zinged into Neal's mind. He could offer her to dance! Who knew she'd be so impressed by his dancing skill and forget Albert.

Neal got up from his seat and walked to her side. "Want to dance, nurse?" offered Neal, hopeful.

"Dance with you? No! Way!" rejected Candy curtly.

"Why not?" asked Neal, offended. "I don't remember I can dance, but I'm sure I can dance better than Albert."

"Go back to your seat, Neal!" Candy giggled. "How do you know that I was thinking about Albert?"

Neal didn't answer. He wasn't amused with her rejection.

"There'll be no dancing until the doctor says you can exercise like normal," explained Candy. She examined his face. "You look cute when you're grumpy. I like it. It's more# suitable." Candy teased him.

"Suitable?" asked Neal, stunt. He frowned. "Not fair, nurse. You know about me more than I do about you!"

"You never played it fair. Time for me to revenge." Candy laughed. Seeing her hearty laugh made him forget his anger, he laughed too together with her. They were joking and laughing as they left the restaurant completely enjoying themselves.

"Oh Neal," exclaimed Candy, suddenly. She abruptly stopped laughing. "Your dog! It's still here!"

"Oh, yes! It is!" said Neal equally impressed. He saw that same dog walk behind him.

"Hello, dear!" greeted Candy. The dog responded by wagging its tail fast. Candy readily bent to pat and rub its back. "Isn't it adorable?"

"Nurse likes it?" asked Neal.

Candy looked at the dog who's looking back at her in a cute little way. Its tongue hanging out its mouth making it looks like smiling.

"I think it's homeless. Poor thing, who will feed it tomorrow?"

"If nurse liked it, we took it home."

"Oh Neal#" Candy gasped, surprised. "Really?"

"If that made nurse happy, then yes, of course," Neal whispered. His brown eyes stared kindly at her# kinder than anyone had ever done. Abruptly, Candy broke her gaze from him and looked at the ground.

Why he has to look so kind? Her heart started to race.

Must be the wine#, thought Candy, gripping the Ardlay's medal that she wore as a necklace.

Shuddering, Candy slowly got up, releasing the dog from her hand. The dog spontaneously left her to sit next to Neal's feet. Wagging its tail, the dog lifted its head and stared affectionally at its presumed-master. It's such an amazing sight for her to witness. She never thought something would ever do that to# Neal!

Stunt, she started to wonder. Could it be that she didn't know him as much as she thought#?

It's the wine. Quickly, she dismissed any sentimental thought. What does a dog know about Neal!

"Yes, Neal. I want the dog," said Candy, back to herself. "Thank you."

She picked up the dog and they took it home#

-To be continued-

Pooch = dog

Coincidentally, this chapter is published on Aug 26TH (National Dog Day). Congratulations to all dogs around the world!

oOo

Hurly: Patty's turtle in London. (Book 3, pg 92)

Mina: Mr. McGregor's dog. (Book 6 pg 42)

oOo

Thanks for reading#.


Chapter 14: Things Happened

CHAPTER 14: Things Happened

Candy took the dog to a veterinarian for health check up and other necessary care. From the vet, Candy learned that it's a female. Candy named her Cece.

From then on, Neal and Candy had a new friend. That afternoon, curling next to Neal's feet, Cece accompanied them reading outdoor.

A staff came to give Candy a telegram.

"Neal, it's from your mother and sister," read Candy. "They are on the way here."

Sarah, Eliza and Mr. Leagan were in the ship leaving America when notified about Neal's accident. As soon as the ship arrived at the port, Sarah and Eliza took another ship back to America while Mr. Leagan continued with his urgent business trip. Mr. Leagan strongly instructed John not to let his amnesic son back in the office to handle their billion dollar company until Sarah met him and made the decision.

"I can't wait to see how my sister and mother look like," commented Neal who's reading newspaper next to her.

"What to do with Cece?" asked Candy, worriedly. "Your mother# She has a high standard for everything." She regretted she didn't consider this last night. What if Cece were thrown back to the street?

Neal frowned, looking at Cece. She just had one fulfilling lunch and now slept comfortably, completely undisturbed by noises around her. Neal rubbed her neck whose fur was now as white as the snow, thinking.

"We get her a dog trainer and a caretaker? Would that be good enough for my mother, nurse?"

Excellent solution! Candy was so impressed by this man. She nodded.

Neal called John to have him arrange a staff to care for Cece's well being.

While Neal talked to John, Candy was watching him# He's not bad at all. Responsible, kind, caring# to name a few. Neal caught her gaze before she had the time to look somewhere else. He grinned charmingly at her.

Candy's heart soared at the sight, making her feel guilty to openly admire him. She shouldn't. She belonged to Albert.

Luckily, a servant came to divert the attention. "A phone call for nurse Ardlay."

Candy went into the mansion. When she returned, Neal never saw a wider smile on her face.

"Albert is back tonight! May I take a time off tomorrow to meet Albert?"

"Yes, you may," answered Neal in dismay. Finally Albert is back.

ooo oo ooo

The following day, Neal sadly watched Candy left early in the morning. The day seemed crept slowly and quietly without her.

A servant came to drop Cece who just finished her first morning class. She quickly ran to Neal.

"Hi Cece," greeted Neal.

Cece sat on the floor and lifted one paw giving Neal a salute, the new trick she just mastered.

Neal smiled.

"Smart girl," said Neal. He scooped the dog into his arm. Cece wagged her tail contently, happy to see him again. "Only two of us today#" Neal rubbed the back of her ear. "Our nurse won't be with us#" Neal sighed longingly. In sympathy, Cece stopped wagging her tail and quietly rested her head on his hand.

In the afternoon, Neal had his usual meeting with his doctor. Good news! He's allowed to do all his daily routine like normal. He had his personal trainer meet him and start doing his workout routine.

At night, Neal couldn't miss Candy more. This used to be the time of the day when they sat together and chatted all through the night#

Lying on his bed, he stared blankly on the ceiling in the dark. The thought of she's in someone's arms in someone's bed was so disturbing that he turned the light back on and sat up. He grabbed his book to read and stop thinking about her. But, it didn't work. He could only stare blankly at the pages.

Neal turned the light off again and was back lying on his bed. His heart was pulsing heavily with some unknown feeling.

Is this love? He wondered. Is it possible that# I'm in love with her?

His muse was broken by a knocking sound at the door. Neal sat up instantly, frozen. That's how nurse Ardlay knocked. Was he dreaming?

"Hi Neal, are you sleeping?" Neal heard the voice that he had missed so much, vividly. It couldn't be a dream! He was so happy he couldn't answer.

"Neal#" knocked Candy again.

"Nurse! I-I'm awake," screamed Neal jubilantly.

He almost cried with happiness when he saw his nurse standing at the door.

She's back! She's not sleeping with Albert!

"Come in," said Neal, almost couldn't contain his excitement.

Candy who was overly excited that she just met Albert didn't pay attention to his excitement. She's so bursting to talk about Albert with someone. And the only person she could do so was Neal.

"Albert successfully developed an aircraft," said Candy with the broadest smile he had ever seen in her. "He'll take me to test one tomorrow!"

"You'll go again tomorrow?"

"Yes, but you could come! Would you? I'll show you how handsome Albert is." Candy giggled.

She's not sleeping with Albert... There's still an opportunity, thought Neal.

"I come!" said Neal without hesitation.

oOo

The following day Candy took Neal and Cece to test fly Albert's aircraft and introduce them to Albert.

"Albert,# Neal" said Candy as the two men shook hands.

Neal secretly glanced at Candy. She's beaming in the special way he hadn't seen before. It's too obvious. Feeling a bit outcast, Neal bravely shook Albert's hand

"And this must be Cece?" said Albert looking at Cece. "Hi Cece!" The pooch readily sat down, lifting her paw offering a handshake.

Albert laughed. "A smart one!"

Neal grinned proudly.

"That's how I looked when I was amnesic?" asked Albert to Candy when Neal didn't hear. Neal was securing a harness on Cece's collar for her safety. The plane engines hummed loudly, she seemed to be intimidated by it.

Candy nodded. Albert chuckled. "Amnesia and our family." He shook his head comically.

Candy laughed. She's very happy# Oh Albert is back!

Albert then went inside one airplane to do the first round of test fly. Candy's heart jolted seeing LeAnn inside and Albert sat next to her. She toughened it, though. LeAnn was the head of the aerospace project, it made sense that she had to be there.

"So that is your man," said Neal, cutting Candy's jealous mind on LeAnn.

"Handsome eh?" Candy giggled. "And he's my best friend. That means more to me than he's supermodel look."

"He's certainly very generous to invite me... and Cece here," commented Neal.

He wanted to say more. But Candy clearly wasn't paying attention. It's too obvious that she's too absorbed in Albert. So Neal didn't try to talk anymore.

They watched Albert's plane complete one loop and land successfully. Albert jumped out of the plane as Candy clapped her hands excitedly.

"It seems safe. Want to try Neal?" offered Albert generously.

"After her," answered Neal. He could tell that Candy couldn't wait to fly.

Candy got into the plane and sat next to LeAnn. It would be a lie to say that she didn't feel threatened. However, Candy managed to smile and graciously exchange courtesy words.

Neal and Albert watched the plane move.

All of a sudden# just before the plane was supposed to take off, it skidded dangerously in the runway. The plane managed to lift a few centimeters high above the ground before it fell back, hard. Immediately after the impact, the plane released thick heavy smoke followed by a big loud boom sound which almost made Neal, Albert, and Cece have a heart attack.

The plane exploded?, thought Albert in horror.

Sirens of fire truck and medic immediately roared as the rescue teams came approaching the scene. Albert and Neal ran to approach the plane too but the bodyguards held them.

"Sir William, Mr. Leagan, for security purposes, don't come closer. The plane might explode."

From the thickness of the smoke, Albert was a bit relieved to see the plane was intact. He was very anxious to know how the passengers were. Especially, that one particular woman# at the thought of her having a life-threatening danger made his stomach clench hard with worries.

To Albert's relieved, the plane side door soon opened. Coughing - choked by the smoke, the pilot, LeAnn and Candy jumped out from the plane. Firemen started to spray the plane with water to prevent fire.

"Sir William, I knew what happened#" screamed LeAnn amid the noise. "Our team have suspected this last week#"

LeAnn tried to pass Candy to run to Albert. Thinking that LeAnn had to urgently discuss the engine failure analyses with Albert, Candy stepped aside to give her the way.

"We need to change the main engine valve#, " continued LeAnn. Her voice began to tremble. "The engine valve#"

At the sight of her boss' blue eyes, LeAnn just lost it. She couldn't continue speaking, instead she wrapped her arms around Albert and hugged him tightly, very tightly and wept. "William#" She paused seemingly trying to collect herself, but failed miserably. "I-I thought I'd die without ever telling you that I# I# I love you."

Candy felt the world stopped still. That was shocking. Her eyes immediately drifted to Albert to see his reaction.

Albert stood completely unmoved. His face was blank. He didn't return her hug, but he didn't push her either.

LeAnn gradually recovered and released Albert.

"I'm sorry." She felt so trashed she'd die. The only consolation was she finally told him that she loved him. That, made everything worth doing. She had no regret, but she had to save her dignity.

LeAnn took a step backward and wiped her tears.

"Sir William, I offer my apology for my misconduct. Herewith, I'm submitting my resignation as a staff member of the Ardlay enterprise." Her voice broke. "Effective immediately." Sobbing, LeAnn turned around to leave.

Albert still hadn't responded. He was utterly stunt. Because# that exactly what he felt too.

Just now, after the smoke had thinned out and he saw the two girls, finally he understood it all. He saw love. It's different from care or sympathy or being nice to someone

In his last business trip, he had been waiting to come back to his office to discuss business procedures with her. It's her who gave him the wings to fly when he first started his role as Sir William. The unwavering support, the confidence, the encouragement# He remembered the happy trip they had together for her brother's wedding in the farm# Memorable#

"LeAnn#," called Albert. "Don't go."

Albert shuddered thinking of the accident. Time was so precious. He would have rather done this quietly in private. But now, he didn't want to waste additional second. He would tell her now.

"I love you, too." Albert opened his arms to LeAnn.

"William," screamed LeAnn emotionally. She ran to his arms and Albert welcomed her with a kiss.

In the mouth!

Candy's stomach dropped to the floor, her heart almost flew out from her widely opened mouth. LeAnn got something that she had been waiting for years... What's next she didn't quite follow. All became blurry, humming in the background.

"Sir William, we need to make sure the ladies are fine," interrupted one medic.

Albert pulled away. He looked at LeAnn tenderly then he scooped her up, lifting her and carried her to a stretcher.

Only a long time later after he made sure LeAnn was properly put in the stretcher that Albert finally turned to look at Candy. He kissed her on her cheek.

"You're alright, Candy?" asked Albert displaying his cluelessness to the highest degree.

Albert doesn't love me, thought Candy, brokenly. The shock she had been feeling slowly drifted to disappointment. He never loves me.

"Your clothes is wet Candy, I take you home," asked Albert.

"I take care of her, Albert," said Neal came to the rescue. He's been waiting in the background witnessing the drama. He decided the moment had come for him to speak up. Although he's happy that Albert was out of the competition, he could understand how broken she must be.

"Thanks Neal." Albert patted his back. Gripping LeAnn's hand in his, he left.

The medic came to take Candy for examination but Neal lifted his hand.

"One moment, please," Neal requested.

He then came to approach Candy, alone.

"Hey nurse, you okay?" asked Neal sympathetically. "Come here nurse. Let me hug you. I am happy that you are safe."

Candy watched Neal. She'd totally forgotten him. But hearing his kind words, seeing his warm chocolate eyes, she felt unexpected source of comfort oasis coming from him.

Candy just fell into Neal's arms and cried.

-To be continued-

Thanks for reading


Chapter 15: Gone

CHAPTER 15: Gone

"Albert doesn't love me," cried Candy. All shaken, her body slumped in Neal's arms.

Neal hugged her.

He wanted to kiss her and tell her that she had him and that he loved her with all his heart. But he knew she wouldn't be ready for that. So instead, like a good gentleman, he gave her a pure friendship hug.

"It s-seems# Albert likes an intelligent w-woman#," sobbed Candy. "That's why he doesn't love me!" Candy cried even louder.

"Don't say that. Nurse is the best#" Neal patted her back gently.

"You prefer intelligent woman, too, Neal?" asked Candy, un-consoled.

"Me?" asked Neal. He inhaled sharply. "I'm amnesic, nurse. But, somehow I believe I am already intelligent. Additional brain is not a requirement I particular seek to have in my household."

"AWWW# I want to die!" cried Candy, tears dropped non stopped. Her body shook in anguish and Neal hugged her harder in sympathy.

"Shh# don't cry# nurse. Don't cry," he patted her back, gently.

"I want to go home!" cried Candy. "I'll cry myself to death!"

"Sweet nurse # don't say that," persuaded Neal. He took a handkerchief from his pocket and gently patted it to her face, wiping her tears. "What if we go and watch a play? Romeo and Juliet?"

Rome and Juliet? It reminded Candy of the night Terry left her for Suzanna. Shaking her head, she buried her face in his chest and sobbed even more violently.

"Fine, let's not watch," said Neal, swallowing the instinct to bury his face in her soft fluffy hair. "Oh! The monthly street fair opened today. Nurse has been waiting for it, right?"

That's correct, thought Candy. She loved street fair!

"Great idea Neal," said Candy. Wiping her swollen teary eyes, she slowly pulled away. "I will go to stroll and bargain all night long." Candy sobbed.

"I know, nurse. That's a great plan! Let's go#"

"You? Not you, Neal. You don't like street shopping," said Candy, matter-of-factly.

"Really?" Neal rose his eyebrows. She knows me so well. I must be a dork for not dating her. What's wrong with me!

Since she never wanted to answer that question, he just swallowed it. Now, especially, wasn't a good time to discuss his issues. The girl was in need of attention tonight.

"If nurse likes it, I like it too. Let's go." His voice was so gentle. It's just what she needed to hear at this moment.

Candy nodded.

Neal gestured to call the medic who's been waiting exceedingly patiently. They came to examine Candy and quickly released her too.

Neal and Candy then went to the night street fair in the downtown. Candy bargained, bought many things including street food. Neal joined in to eat with her.

"You shouldn't eat this," said Candy. She licked her ice cream and threw a piece of meat to Cece. "You don't eat street food."

His heart was touched by how much she knew him, it made him love her even more.

"Tonight is your night," Neal answered softly. "Don't talk about me."

They sat in a street stool, ate and talked. Candy had such a good time. They didn't go home until very late at night.

"Thanks Neal," said Candy before she went to her room.

She took a shower and just collapsed in her bed without shedding anymore drop of tears#

oOo

The following day, on the way to see his doctor, Neal took Candy to school. Boosted by the fact that she's single without Albert, she looked more stunning in his eyes. His heart beat hard seeing her wide beautiful smile.

He walked her to the school gate, debating if he should hold her hand like good friends do. Purely as a token of support. Friendship, pure friendship 每 the way she treasured relationship was.

Neal was still thinking on how to articulate his thought in words when he heard a man yell, "Candy!"

"Oh! My classmate#," explained Candy to Neal briefly. "I get to go. Have a nice day, Neal!"

Candy left Neal and walked to approach the man who called her.

"Who's that?" asked Candy's classmate looking at Neal.

"A patient." Candy shrugged as if it's not an important issue.

Candy's classmate then quickly ignored Neal. "You're beautiful today, Candy," he continued.

Neal then saw the hunk slid his arm easily around her waist and kissed her cheek. That gesture completely caught Neal by surprise.

As though that's not enough, another broad shoulder guy came and kissed Candy's hand. "You're lovely today, Ms. Ardlay," he flirted.

"Good morning, Candy. I take your bag for you," said yet another man.

Soon yet another man came and in no time Candy was surrounded by men who's trying to please her.

Huh?! Neal was stunt. That many guys? Neal almost fainted witnessing how popular she was among her male friends! And now she had no Albert! 100% single!

Feeling like a fool, he realized that he's been overly careful in making advancement.

I have to act! Neal decided. Hell with friendship.

oooOooo

In the late afternoon# Candy just got back home from her classes.

Life is going to be boring, sighed Candy as she parked her car in the Leagan mansion driveway. Just study and work# No more Albert to get her brain occupied.

She got off her car and saw a jogger jog around the mansion's large front yard. It's strange. The Leagan mansion is a private mansion, how did he get there?

Who cares, Candy quickly ignored it. Let the security staff worry about that.

Candy banged the car door closed and walked to the mansion, reflecting. She still blamed herself for not telling Albert that she loved him like what LeAnn did. If she had, perhaps Albert would have been hers. Coward me.

"Hi nurse." The jogger waved his hand at her.

Candy lifted up her head, examining his face. Neal! The jogger is Neal!

He was wearing shorts and training shoes. His shirt was sweat-drenched, rolled half up revealing his tan skin that gleamed with sweat. Breathing quickly with sweat beaded on his brow, Neal ran approaching her. He didn't at all look like the Neal she knew.

"Neal?" said Candy, breathless.

He was grinning at her in a way that made her feel... disoriented.

Stop looking at his abs. Candy held her breath. Look somewhere else. But it's unavoidable. Her eyes were glued to the sex-bomb standing in front of her. Her mouth got dry.

She had been too occupied with Albert for the last few days to pay attention to her patient. But that shouldn't explain the drastic change that happened on him. He's totally like a different person!

"Y-you're running?" Candy squeaked, fanning her face with her hand.

"Yes! I have been for a few days under my personal trainer supervision," explained Neal. "I will take a walk to cool down now. Want to come?"

Candy scrambled for words.

"You're sure that you're fit enough? Let me examine your knee." Candy gulped. "Turn around, Neal."

"Why do I need to turn around if all you want to examine is my knee?" Neal whispered.

"Oh, I mean your ass~# no I mean#" Candy blushed.

A slow grin spread across his face. "What is it exactly that you want to examine, nurse?"

Her cheek colored, she knew he saw it too. He's so different. If her memory served her right, the last two weeks he had been formal and reserved. What happened to him?

Maybe he got another bump in his head?, thought Candy.

A servant came. Candy couldn't be more relieved with the distraction.

"Nurse Ardlay, Ms. Annie called. She and Mr. Archie are outside, in the lakeside."

Candy nodded.

"Could I go with you, nurse?" Neal grinned with an attractive curve in his mouth that flirted, engaging, and made Candy exceptionally aware of his dangerous attraction.

"If you want," said Candy, struggled to stay composed.

Neal went inside to change his shirt to his normal suit which helped Candy to stay focus better.

They then walked to the lake, taking Cece who just finished her afternoon class with them. Candy's heart fluttered like crazy. For the first time she thought of Neal as a man instead of a patient. It made her nervous... She never felt more aware of Neal's presence like this before

"Woof! Woof!" Suddenly Cece who's usually quiet barked like mad. She ran away from Neal and Candy.

"Cece, come back," called Neal.

"Woof!" Cece refused to come. She kept barking and stood tensely still in one spot.

"What is it, Cece?" asked Candy.

Cece whimpered, looked like trying to point at something with her nose. Neal and Candy approached her.

"Oh," exclaimed Candy. She saw a bird nest on the ground with a baby bird inside. Candy picked the nest up and looked at the tall tree over her.

"It must have fallen from the tree... Poor little bird," said Candy to Neal. "Don't worry, birdy. Candy will put you back."

Candy set to climb the tree but Neal held her arm prevented her from doing so.

"Nurse will do the climbing?" He shook his head. "I should do it."

"No," laughed Candy. "You don't want to do it."

"How could I let a goddess do all the work while all I do was watching?"

Whoa# This one was obviously a flirt. She should be mad as hell, instead she found herself chuckle enjoying it.

"You're flirting, Neal?" Candy pushed his chest playfully away.

"I haven't even started, nurse#," his voice was low and hoarse.

Giggling, Candy gave the bird nest to Neal. Rolling up his sleeves, Neal took the nest from her hand and stepped toward the tree. He attempted to climb but slipped back down. He tried again, and fell again. With great difficulty he kept figuring out to do it, but he never could get higher than a few centimeters.

Candy laughed looking at his awkward persistence.

"Not as easy as I thought." Neal laughed back. "Am I supposed to be good at this or not?"

Candy shook her head, chuckling.

"Not at all! Climbing tree is just not one of your things."

They laughed. The noise reached Archie's ear and he started to examine the two from the far.

"Watch me...," said Candy. She grabbed the bird nest from Neal's hand and in a flash she's gone among the thick leaves up high in the tree. She put the bird's nest in one branch, looked down and winked to Neal.

Neal clapped his hands and gave her a thumb up. Candy turned around to climb down. The mother bird flew around her to express her gratitude and distracted Candy. She stepped on her own dress, got stumbled, and fell.

"Ah!" she screamed.

She scrambled to hold a grip on something but could reach nothing. Falling faster and faster, she closed her eyes, surrendered to her faith.

Until# she felt strong arms caught her, wrapped her up securely.

"Gotcha," she heard a familiar voice breathed in her ear.

She opened her eyes and met Neal's gentle brown eyes that made her heart trip.

"Wow!" Candy muttered.

"Yeah#" Neal said, cradling Candy against his chest.

"You caught me, Neal," Candy whispered, barely could catch her breath.

"I will always do, nurse," he said huskily, "whenever you fall."

Their gaze connected. Those familiar brown eyes with the arrogant eyebrows were dewy with sizzling romance# She used to hate them, but now that she knew him better she saw how good he was to her and how much he's willing to be there for her. It felt so comfortable in his arms, she almost couldn't stop the instinct to lay her head against his hard athletic chest.

-To be continued-

~Ass = butt = bottom

Thanks for reading.


Chapter 16: Broke Loose

Chapter 16: Broke Loose

"Neal#," Candy murmured. Instead of asking to be put down, she wrapped her arms even tighter around his neck.

"Yes, nurse?" His voice softly caressed the last word. His amber eyes bored into her. Unblinked, he tipped her head up to bring her lips inches away beneath his.

"Put her down, Leagan," Archie barked grimly, ended it all. He couldn't take the silly scene anymore.

Hearing Archie's voice quickly Candy pushed Neal and jumped to the ground. "I'm fine, Neal. Thanks."

"You're always welcome, nurse," Neal said softly, ignoring Archie.

"He seems fine already," scowled Archie. "You should leave, Candy. I don't see why he needs a nurse for another second."

That's true. But, Candy didn't want to go now.

Silently, she walked to nearby picnic table with Annie trailing not far behind her. Together, they prepared the table to enjoy the drinks Annie had prepared from home.

"You get along quite well with Neal, Candy," whispered Annie when the men didn't hear.

"Oh!" Candy chuckled. "He saved me," Candy whispered back. "Temporary truce. Just until he gets well." She paused. "Then back to war."

Something rang in her brain. Could she really hate him again?

"How's your vacation, Annie?" Candy asked loudly.

"Great! I'll tell you later in the road. You're coming to Pony's home tonight, right?"

"Sure!" Candy nodded hurriedly. So occupied with her men problems, Candy actually forgot that tomorrow was Ms. Pony's birthday.

"Where's Albert? Why are you with Neal instead of Albert, Candy?" grumbled Archie joining the conversation.

Albert?, suddenly Candy remembered about the man. Funny, she thought she'd die losing Albert. She glanced secretly at Neal who's grinning at her. Candy blushed. She felt so embarrassed for being such a quickie and got lost in words.

"She wants to," said Neal rescuing Candy.

"I'm not talking to you!" Archie glared at Neal. What is it with him? He's answering for Candy too now?

"Albert went out with LeAnn, dear," said Annie to Archie. "Remember? We called him last night."

Some part in Candy's heart which still mourning cracked again. So, the two really were together. Feeling dumped, she bit her trembling lips to steady them.

Then, she felt a hand rested on her thigh under the table.

She stared up at Neal, completely bedazzled. He wouldn't do this, now... In front of everyone. But he did! Gently he squeezed her thigh between his thumb and forefinger. A sensation spread from the place he pressed out along her limbs, and to the lower belly awaking a woman part inside her. She almost forgot how good it felt to flirt and about the physical affection she needed. Her heart skipped a beat and she forgot entirely to mourn.

"Candy, four cubes of sugar?" asked Archie, trying to attract Candy's attention to show Neal that he too knew Candy well.

"Three," said Neal answering for Candy. "Nurse uses three cubes of sugar these days, right nurse?" He grinned at her and she smiled back at him.

Archie gave a murderous glared to Neal. Neal knew but he pretended clueless. On the way back home, Neal couldn't help to discuss the topic with Candy.

"That man with long hair likes you, doesn't he?" asked Neal while walking to the car

"He's cousin," quipped Candy. "Annie loves him and to me he's just my brother# nothing more nothing else."

Neal grinned. That's all he wanted to know.

"Neal, I'll go to Pony's home for a few days." Candy exhaled. "I could arrange another nurse to replace me." She gulped. Something inside her felt sour. She didn't feel like sharing this hot man with anyone else.

"I wait for nurse Ardlay. I don't want any other nurse."

Her heart heaved in relieved.

"Take Cece, in case you miss home," offered Neal gently.

"I will." He's very considerate, it touched deeply into her heart. "Bye Neal"

Neal gave Candy a long tight hug. She almost pulled him back when he released her.

Her chest twitched. From the car, she almost cried seeing him slowly disappear from her sight#

oOoooo

In Pony's home, time merely crept. This place was the merriest place on earth but now it seemed dull and lonely. The children merry sound of laughter failed to stop her from thinking about Neal.

What happened to me?, thought Candy.

Taking Cece with her, Candy bravely went to the Pony's hill to confront the past... She threw a stick to Cece to let her run and pick it up. Candy chuckled remembering how funny Neal was when playing this stick game with Cece. These past two weeks, she had been having fun with the man.

Neal charmed. He's fun, he's funny. He's the man who made her feel like a woman.

Decisively, Candy took the stick from Cece's mouth and started to dig a hole... Cece excitedly participated and dag with her two front legs. Candy fished her ex-prince's medal from her pocket. She found the medal there, she should return it back in there...

Candy dropped Albert's medal inside the hole and covered it with soil and grass. Thus concluded the prince of the hill chapter in her life.

"We go home tomorrow!" Candy rubbed Cece behind the ear. "Happy?"

"Woof!"

"You miss your daddy?" Candy asked Cece. "I do."

"Woof. Woof," Cece wagged her tail vigorously to show her agreement.

"We miss him!" Candy jumped to stand up. "Let's race, Cece. See who's faster!"

Together, they ran back to the Pony's home to be with others.

oOo

The following day# Annie took Candy back to the Leagan mansion.

"I can drop you off in your class, Candy," said Annie.

Candy looked at the watch. She could squeeze a few minutes to see Neal before her class. She missed him badly.

"I go home first, Annie# Need to pick up my books," said Candy, giving excuses.

Candy waved to her friend and ran inside to look for Neal. She went to their usual places. He's not there. A servant told her that he's on the verandah.

Candy quickly went to the verandah. Her heart beat ferociously thinking that she'll meet the man again. What's the best way to greet him? To run into his arms or pretend cool and just sit coolly next to him? She chuckled#

With the highest anticipation, Candy sprinted to the verandah. She saw Neal!

But he's not alone.

There's a woman,# a beauty with a face as delicate as a rose. She dressed impeccably in a lace creme dress in perfect coordination with Neal's dark creme suit. They looked perfect together which made Candy's vision hazy with jealousy.

The woman was reciting a poem# For Neal.

"Wonderful, Stella," Neal clapped his hands when she finished reciting.

"You like it?" asked Stella softly. "I wrote this poem for you, dear."

Hearing how Stella called Neal made Candy feel her blood ran cold.

Stella walked gracefully to approach Neal and hugged him. Clearly, she adored him.

"We have so many good memories together. One night, you and I went to watch the moon together and you said 每 ."

Candy swallowed to keep her stomach from flinging its content. The conversation must be of a private nature which she shouldn't hear. And she's sure as hell she didn't want to leave him with her in private. Putting an extra hard face, Candy slammed open the glass door to let her presence known. She regretted she didn't slam it harder to break the glass into pieces.

Candy instantly got the couple's attention.

"Nurse, you're back," said Neal.

Neal's guest was visibly surprised. Taken a back, Stella stared at Candy's hard face.

"She's your nurse?" Stella gasped softly. She put her beautifully manicured fingers in her neck.

"Yes."

"Oh# wow#," Stella said, examining Candy's glaring face. Stella turned back to Neal and managed a quick smile. "Perfect timing, though."

Stella hugged Neal. "Take good care of yourself, darling," she said in her velvet voice.

"I take you out," said Neal. He offered his arm which Stella instantly took. Leaning on his shoulder, she went outside with him.

When passing Candy, Neal silently made a sign for her to wait for him.

Candy was still nailed on the same spot, when Neal came back again. "You said you wouldn't come back until this evening, nurse."

"You wish!" snarled Candy. "You said you don't need a substitute nurse. Now I know why!" She felt exploding anywhere, uncontrollable. She just couldn't help it. "Who is she?"

"Her name is Stella*. Personally? I don't remember."

"How long has she been here?"

"Yesterday, suddenly she appeared. She said my sister sent here. According to Stella, my mother and sister will come tomorrow."

"You banged her+?" blurted Candy. Shit! She couldn't believe she said that, she should have more dignity than that! But she couldn't care less to apologize at this moment.

Neal lifted one eye brow.

"Why would you want to know?" he asked softly, his eyes gleamed amusedly.

"Correct! I shouldn't," said Candy coldly. "Here, your fruits. Eat them!" She threw the plate of fruit hard on the table.

Without looking at the man again, she went to her room to pick up her school bag and books. On her way out, she found Neal was leaning his shoulder on her room's doorway, blocking her way out.

"Out of my way, Neal."

"What if I don't want to eat fruits?"

"Why not?"

"Because, I want to eat something else." His voice was rasp made her knees turned weak.

Neal closed the door and walked towards her. He didn't stop until he stood so closed she could feel heat radiated from him. Slowly he took the bag from her hand and put it on a nearby table. His gaze was intense, sharp and never for a second left her.

"What do you want to eat?" she heard a trembling voice that didn't sound like hers coming from her mouth. Her heart pounded everywhere.

She took a step backward but he quietly took a step forward. She continued backing away and he kept moving forward - until her back hit the wall and she had nowhere to go.

"Oh, go away Neal." Weakly, she tried to push him.

"Go where?" he murmured, caging her to the wall with his arms. "No, nurse. I didn't bang her."

Candy felt embarrassed that she felt relieved. She knew her face must be beet red.

"None of my business," she said in a small voice. "Now, go away."

"I can't." He tilted his head sideways. He brushed her lips with his thumb. "I don't remember what I am to you. All I know is you're not my mom nor my sister. And I want to kiss you right now..."

His eyes were hot, determined. Trembling by confused feeling she leaned heavily against the wall behind her to support her weakened joins.

"Y-You could kiss my cheek," stammered Candy. She tilted her head sideways and tapped her cheek lightly with her index finger.

"Okay#," said Neal with a charming grin.

He pecked her right cheek. "And the left one?"

She nodded.

His eyes glimmered mischievously as he nudged her cheek sideway to peck the left one.

"Could I kiss your temple, too?" he said softly with a playful grin.

"Okay. Hurry up though. I need to go back to the hospital," demanded Candy. She enjoyed his playfulness but pretending anything but.

He pressed his lips softly on her temple. But he still didn't move away.

She looked up and their gaze met. All humors in his face was gone, his eyes darkened. With the back of his hand he trailed his hand along her face to her chin. Gently, he rubbed her chin with his thumb and nudged it up.

"Knowing there's you, what makes you think it's possible for me to want another woman?" he breathed against her mouth.

-to be continued-

~ Cece's daddy = Neal

* Stella: first appears in chapter 3. Eliza's friend who likes Neal.

+ You banged her = You made love with her. (a slang)

oOo THANK YOU for readingoOo


Chapter 17: Soaring High

CHAPTER 17Soaring High

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Rating: M (for explicit sexual content)

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With some hesitations, nervously Candy closed her eyes. She sensed he's bending and his soft warm lips were touching hers. His kiss was passionate, convincing, powerful. Neal was an amazing kisser. It instatly turned her on.

"You are beautiful," Neal whispered.

He deepened his kiss and this time, couldn't feel more sure, she kissed him back. The book she's holding slipped from her hand and thudded to the floor as her hands moved up roaming to his head, tangling her fingers in his curvy thick brown hair

He cupped her butt, lifted her and carried her to the bed.

"Since the first time I saw you in the hospital room, I have been thinking constantly how to convince you to let me go inside you," said Neal.

Supporting himself with one arm, he let his free hand greedily slid under her dress teasing the side of her panties. With another groan he consumed her mouth again#

She closed her eyes, lay there completely wet and so willing to let him do anything he wanted to do to her.

A knock at the door disturbingly interrupted them. "Nurse Ardlay," called John. "The driver is ready."

"Ah!" Candy gasped. Instinctively, she pulled her skirt down to cover her thigh. "Right#," she panted. "I have a class."

Fuck John and his punctuality!, swore Neal.

"Coming," yelled Candy to John. In vain, she tried to push Neal away. "Neal, this worth 40% of my final grade."

Still eating her, he growled frustratingly.

"Nurse," Neal rested his temple on hers, breathing heavily. "Be my date. Please#"

"We talk later, I'm in a hurry..." She tried to push him away again.

He lowered his head and sealed her mouth again. "Don't," he whispered. He tightened his grip so she couldn't move, not a bit. "Decide. Now#"

"Okay#," said Candy.

"Okay what?" murmured Neal.

"I want to be your date."

Neal looked at her. He grinned and released her. Blushing, Candy wiggled to escape and rolled herself to the floor. Quickly, she got up and straightened her dress.

Neal bent down to pick up the book she dropped and put it inside her bag.

"Thank you." He handed the bag to her. "I go to buy you something to celebrate." He kissed her.

She's so appalled by that very bad idea.

"Wait for me, Neal. Just two hours," said Candy worriedly. He still had amnesia. He should not roam around by himself. It's dangerous.

He kissed her. "I can't always rely on you, nurse. I'm your date." He examined her face tenderly. "I'll protect you from now on!"

She sighed and shook her head. "Wait for your nurse! Just two hours." She held up two fingers to punctuate her point and ran outside.

oOo

It turned out it took Candy almost four hours to come back home that evening. The class took longer because of some complex dissecting demonstration by a visiting professor. At home, she's looking for Neal but the servant said he's not home.

Stubborn man. Where could he possible go? He didn't remember much. He must go to the place we use to go, guessed Candy.

Candy grabbed her car key and drove to the shopping center area they often went together. Her guess was right, she saw him. He's about to enter into a jewelry store.

Candy lowered down her window and waved to attract Neal's attention. He didn't see her but she saw a few men who she didn't recognize approaching Neal. Instinctively, she felt something was not right.

"Neal!" yelled Candy to warn him.

Neal turned his head. At that instant, one man pushed Neal and gave a surprise blow on Neal's face...

Neal got hit# He saw sparkling stars. His vision went black then white, then red, then many colors at the same time...

He fell on the road side seeing many images floating in his head, a car zooming, a blonde woman screaming# Then everything stopped. When he got his vision back, he saw four big men in front of him.

"Neal," Candy screamed again. Neal turned his head and saw Candy from the far.

"Candy?" he mumbled.

His head felt squirming and cloudy. He's not sure if it's real or a dream.

In horror, Candy witnessed Neal just sit there, so defenseless, so confused, he didn't even try to escape. His face looked blank like someone who just woke up from a dream.

One man bent down. He reached out his arms to grip Neal's collar. Neal was still frozen but Cece who's on alert sensed danger. Fiercely, she jumped to bite the man's wrist really hard.

"Cece?" Neal muttered.

Suddenly, Neal realized that what he saw was real. These unknown men had bad intentions. They're dangerous people and his beloved girl was coming in. They should run#!

While the men were working to subdue Cece, Neal used the opportunity to get up. By this time, Candy already came. She's more than ready to fight like a heroine.

"Candy just run. Hurry!" yelled Neal, pulling her hand. "Cece!"

Now it's Candy's turn who's stunt. Candy? He called me Candy!

But there's no time to explain. Neal was practically dragging Candy to run with him.

One man went to kick Cece. She docked but got some of the blow still.

"Cece! Come!" called Neal again who heard her whimper. Cece released her bite and ran to follow Neal.

They kept running until they arrived in a police station.

With that familiar arrogant confidence which had disappeared for two weeks, Candy witnessed Neal enter the office and spoke to the officers.

"Neal. Neal Leagan. Yes, that Leagan. We need help."

His memory is back?, thought Candy. Candy witnessed the man in full control of himself called John, his driver, bodyguards and more.

"Take Candy home," ordered Neal to John without even looking as soon as John came. Neal briefly kissed Candy on her cheek. He thanked Cece and examined her briefly. She looked fine. Neal ordered John to have a vet give her a thorough check up at once and went back to talk to the police.

John noticed that not once did his boss say please or thank you. Gleefully, he sensed that his memory was back.

Neal stayed in the police station to take care of abducted attempt case then went home.

Oo

Back in the mansion, Neal found Candy was waiting for him in their usual evening room. Grinning, he stood in the doorway staring at her.

"Neal, " Candy instantly got up to welcome him. "How's it?"

"Some assholes wanted to take advantage of me being amnesic."

For a second they didn't move, just looked at each other awkwardly.

"My goddess nurse is you," Neal broke the silence first.

They laughed. Like good friends, they put their arms around each other and embraced.

"I was worried about you," said Candy.

"You do?"

She nodded. She lifted her head and looked into his eyes.

Silence fell. Desire took over... And the friendly embrace turned tight and passionate.

"I love you," murmured Neal, crushing her tight into his chest. He sighed. "I really do."

He kissed her, a sweet, careful kiss initially which quickly tuned into a hungry kiss that's full of lush. Just when she thought a kiss couldn't be more forceful and demanding than the one he had given her earlier, he proved to be otherwise.

No doubt he wanted her. Through her shirt, she felt his heart pounding for her. She felt needed, special,# loved. It felt really good.

"You're worried about me." He ardently nuzzled along her face and neck.

"Yes," she breathed.

He could even hear her moan. There's only one thing left to do.

"I've been a gentleman far too long# haven't I?" he murmured.

"H-huh?"

"I have been too patient." He kissed her and pushed her to his bedroom at the same time. Her blood raged with fire. She yelped when he pinched her nipple with his fingers.

"If it's okay with you, I want to get inside you and make you come* really hard! Now," said Neal.

Quickly, he snapped her dress of, threw his own to the floor, and before she knew it he was stretching on the bed on top of her. Not even once did she try to oppose. She had been thinking of him constantly and couldn't be more readier for this.

He's very good. He didn't need her direction at all. He just knew how to please her body better than she knew possible. His thrust was thick and deep. Together they climaxed, hers squeezing his and his pulsing inside hers.

"Wow, Neal#," said Candy, panting. "You're good#" She breathed. "The best."

She sat up, grappled for a sheet, spread it and snuggled underneath.

"I will sleep so well tonight," murmured Candy, throwing herself to a pillow. "Come here, Neal#" She patted the pillow next to her inviting him to join her.

He came to her side and whispered into her ear. "Sleep? Now?"

She nodded, lay comfortably.

"But who says that we're done?" He pulled back the sheet and tossed it aside.

Before she could respond, he's back touching her.

"That... was just a warming up," snapped Neal. "I'll show you the real sex."

What? "No!" protested Candy. She shut her eyes and buried her face tightly in her pillow. She was so sensitive and swollen, and he's going to touch her again?

"No! I can't# Don't# I#" Candy pushed his hand away.

But before her sentence finished, she had started to pant heavily again.

"Oh yes, you can#," he growled. He inserted his fingers inside her, checking. She moaned.

"Yup! There's at least one more in you - perhaps twice? You could rest and go for the third one later. Come for me, Candy. One more time. Promise!"

He rolled her on her stomach. Unexpectedly, when his fingers rubbed her clitoris in that maddening circular motion from behind, heat instantly escalated again. He gripped her waist and fed his big hard cock in and out vigorously.

"I'm going to come so hard... Inside you."

His gruffly voice heavily stimulated her. She wanted to feel him come hard inside her. The thought of it sent her already tightened muscles tighter as her body prepared for another orgasm.

"Neal!" Candy screamed coming harder than she ever had. He held her hips and watched her as her body shook frantically with pleasure. It spurred him.

He quicken his pace, fucking harder claiming his own explosion inside her; and then panting her name, he collapsed over her, on her back.

They stayed still like that for a while, calming down their wild heartbeats.

"Incredible," Neal murmured moments later still breathing heavily,

He rolled to the bed, pulling her damped face to his sweating neck.

"I knew it! I always know that sex with you would be rocking..." he whispered, letting out a long, satisfied sigh. "Remember one night, long time ago when you saved me from gangsters^?"

Boneless-, she only move her head as a sign she did.

"That was the first time I fell in love with you."

Candy managed to giggle.

"Obviously," Candy managed, still shaken from the intense orgasm. "It's not love in the first sight."

"The first time we met, I was just an immature boy well before puberty#"

"But after I became a man, I can only love one woman. You," he kissed her. "You're not the first woman I kiss but you'll be the last."

His love word sounded so good in his lips. It's good to feel loved. One day, when she's ready, she'd tell him that too with as much passion as he did.

"Great that you kept trying, Neal," murmured Candy, half asleep. "What would I be without you?"

"That# You will never need to find out," he answered sleepily. "No matter how many times you send me away, I come back."

They fell asleep, getting the much needed rest before continued making love again and again all through the night.

-To be continued-

^Candy saved Neal from gangsters. Book 8. Page 14

Some words I doubt translators/formal dictionary understands:

Cock = penis.

*Come = orgasm. Many "come/came" in this chapter means orgasm...

-Boneless = no more strength

oOo

Thank you so much! I completely appreciate your presence to read the story.


Chapter 18: Downhill

CHAPTER 18: Downhill

Candy just finished taking a shower, getting ready to go to work. She went to look for Neal in his room. He's there, wearing his tie getting ready to go to work too.

She stopped at the doorway, watching. Even from the back he looked gorgeous in his white shirt, his hair was still damp from the shower. She walked inside. Putting her arms around his waist, she hugged his back.

"You're hot this morning...," Candy whispered, inhaling his fresh manly smell.

"Not as hot as I could have," he grinned, knotting his tie at the same time. "I'll show you tonight when you're not in a rush."

She nodded. "How?" She smirked.

"Up to you," he whispered. He turned around to peck the tip of her nose, her both cheeks before landed a deep kiss on her lips. "Just say it."

"Your fingers." She kissed him. "I want them."

"You bet," he whispered, gripping her butt hard. "As long as you promise that you'll come hard!"

"Of course, I will#," Candy breathed. She brought her wet lips to his and sucked them hard. "Oh, I'll miss you a lot at work, Neal."

-oOo-

Neal spent the early morning working then he went to pick up his mother and sister in the train station. Worriedly, they ran to hug him. He assured them that he's fine and had regained his memory back. He took them home and told them about what happened.

"Ma, about my nurse# She's Candy," said Neal carefully. "She's the one who's been caring for me."

That's unexpected. Sarah Leagan inhaled deeply, surprised. Eliza almost got choked with anger. She could guess what his brother would say next# And, she guessed it right.

"I love Candy, ma. I want to marry her. This time-," said Neal.

"Damnit, Neal," groaned Eliza loudly. "Say that this is just a temporary glitch because of the blow in your head. Mom, he even adopted an unknown breed mongrel as his dog!"

"It's not, Eliza. I still love her," said Neal. He rubbed Cece's neck who's quietly putting her head on Neal's knee, seemingly understood that Eliza didn't like her. "Cece saves me."

"Cece saves you, Candy takes care of you... You have a problem with your circle of protectors," grumbled Eliza. "We should never leave him alone, mom."

"What does Candy think of you, Neal?" asked Sarah.

"I haven't asked."

"The hell with Candy. What about Stella?" barked Eliza annoyed.

"Let me explain#"

Eliza made an impatient gesture with her hand. Rather than listening to her brother's explanation which more likely was disgustingly sentimental, her brain moved quickly to plan something. She had an idea.

"Mom, Neal should explain it first to Stella. In person," said Eliza. She kept her voice level and calm for the sake of her plan success. "He owes her that much. She came from Florida solely to see him."

Neal nodded. "Today, I'll meet Stella at lunch and explain it to her," said Neal.

oOoo

Candy was preparing for her lunch break. Her body felt so good, her mind felt fresh, and her mood never be lighter.

Wow, what a good sex do to a woman, Candy chuckled in her heart.

She smiled thinking about Neal's promise of hot sex tonight. He was amazing last night. How he kissed, licked, caressed# her pants were all wet by just thinking of them.

Suddenly Candy heard a loud bang coming from the door. It's swung opened, apparently by a harsh slam to the wall. Candy almost jumped in surprise not by the loud noise but by the woman she saw stand at the door.

"What are you doing to Neal?" she asked. Her voice was nasty, her eyes blazed in anger.

"Eliza#"

"Yes. It's me." Eliza crossed her arms. "Stable girl, how dare you seduce my brother?"

That started her.

"My name is Candy," said Candy drily. It took all she could not to hit that annoying face of hers. But she knew to fight with Eliza would gain nothing. It'd just destroy her day badly for nothing. So she ignored her and walked away.

"Whatever hell your name is, stay there!"

Candy ignored her and kept walking away.

"Deaf orphan, you can't be with Neal."

Candy stopped walking. Holding Eliza's gaze, she responded, "I believe this is not a business of yours."

"Oh, it is. And yours too," said Eliza. Her eyes narrowed as her lips grinned mysteriously. "Come with me, I'll show you something."

Candy couldn't care less. But something in her tone made her obey. Like most women, Candy felt intrigued by gossips surrounding her boyfriend, too. So she followed.

Eliza took Candy in her car and drove to a restaurant. There, Eliza picked a table in a secluded area in the side patio. Candy followed her.

"Sit and wait," commanded Eliza.

Eliza ordered some drink which Candy refused to take.

"You want Neal?" sneered Eliza. "So do countless of other women."

Eliza threw a stack of newspaper and gossip magazines on the table for Candy to see.

"Does stable girl read at all?" Eliza pointed to the photos in the tabloid. "See all these high class girls with Neal?"

Her heart yanked seeing the photos of Neal with all these beauties. Then she remembered the women she saw with Neal after Stear's wedding*. Her blood boiled, fully provoked. She held her breath trying hard not to plunge and beat the hell of Eliza who's grinning satisfyingly.

"And now this..." Eliza continued.

She kicked Candy's foot and made a sign with her head to one direction. "They're coming. Watch." Candy followed the pointed direction and her vision went red.

Neal with Stella, the brunette who's reading a poem for him the other day. She undoubtedly was in love with the man. The way she's holding his arms# how she looked at him with her unblinking eyes.

"My brother intends to get engaged to her," Eliza said coldly. "Unlike an unknown dirty orphan like you, we can trace her family lineage all the way back to the eighteenth queen's cousin." Eliza glanced sharply at Candy. "What makes you think you can get Neal as easily as you like?"

Candy held her breath in anger.

"I suppose you're not satisfied to be known only as Sir William's beloved adopted daughter hence you are compelled to be branded with another famous family like ours?"

Undisturbed memory of the past sprang back alive# she was an alone little girl who's tormented daily by Eliza and her brother. She had tried to burry those painful memories to forget them but now everything sprang back alive like being woken up by a cruel sense of familiarity.

"Damn you, Eliza. What the fuck is it you want?" burst Candy. She hated the Leagans.

"Get the fuck away from Neal," Eliza said dryly.

Surging to her feet, Candy stormed off leaving Eliza.

"Stable girl. Do you have money for cab? I can take you back," said Eliza.

Her blood boiled. Eliza and her ability to annoy people had sharpened to the most annoying degree.

She threw her face and accelerated her pace, carefully kept her back to Eliza to conceal her eyes that were wet of angry tears. Tears meant weakness. Eliza shouldn't get the privilege to think that she's winning.

oOo

Candy planned to quickly go back to the Leagan mansion to pack her stuffs and leave without seeing Neal. Too bad, it was so hard to get a cab that afternoon. After lengthy delay, finally Candy arrived in the mansion. With wet tears mixed of anger and fond memories, she packed up and carried her stuffs to her car. But at the bottom of the stairs she met Neal who just came home.

He grinned handsomely from his car, it hurt her heart. She threw away her face and ran passed his car.

"Candy?" called Neal. She ignored him and kept walking. Neal stepped outside his car and caught her elbow.

"Go away!" screamed Candy. "You think I am just a stable girl that you could own and discard as you like." Candy turned around and swung her hand to slap his face at the same time.

"Candy#?" He was astounded more than hurt. A scary thought came to his brain. She met Eliza?

Candy twisted her arms and made a movement to slap him again but Neal caught her wrist first this time.

"Let go of me," Candy cried. She kicked him, struggled to release herself.

"I will! I will... but calm down#" He's gently releasing her wrists. "Now... Easy#"

She turned her back on him and sobbed brokenly.

He carefully approached her and hugged her. To his shock, he felt her body was shaken and trembling. It overwhelmed him and tore his heart apart. He desperately wished it would stop but it didn't. Finally, he understood the terrible effect of his and his sister's harassment to his beloved girl

"Oh Candy," Neal whispered. "Don't cry." He buried his face in her thick long hair continuously murmuring gentle comfort words emphasizing how much he loved her.

Candy felt peace. That exactly what he felt about him. But now she's too confused. She's home where she wanted to be. But, she also saw Eliza and nightmares. She didn't want to lead life like that anymore# She couldn't.

"I'm so sorry, Candy," Neal whispered, holding her shaken petite body. "Don't listen to Eliza."

"I am just an unknown orphan," Candy cried hard. "I don't have a line of ancestors retraceable for hundreds of years# Hell I don't even have one. So unlike Stella."

"You saw us, didn't you? Stella is just one of my more serious dates in Florida..."

"One of you more serious dates? How many you have?" Candy muttered. "What about me? Which category am I?"

"I was with them before we met again. I don't know how to call my relationship with them but it's not about love. You are my love. The only one. I met Stella to explain to her that I have you."

"Don't be hypocritical. You're no different than your sister," Candy wailed. "You and her# do you know how much troubles you two caused me? Christ, I might even be dead if Albert didn't interfere."

All the tears burst like turbulent river crashed to a broken damn.

"Yes, I was bad to you. Very bad," whispered Neal. Seeing how broken Eliza had made her, he felt so much pain. No words could even began to describe how regretful he was for harassing her all these years. "Poor little Candy. Hit me if that made you feel better. But don't go."

She wondered if it's anger that she felt inside or the pain of walking away while all her heart wanted was to be in his arms, pull his tie down, and kiss him.

"We should just be friends," murmured Candy.

"Friends? I can't be your friend. I want you too much for that. Candy, I want to love you."

She lifted her eyes to meet his. They begged forgiveness but she also saw Eliza in it. Without him, she didn't have to meet Eliza just now. Her heart and dignity couldn't suffer more humiliation. It's his fault.

"Then let's be enemies. We've been like that. It suits me."

"Candy, don't say that."

"Stop#," growled Candy. She pulled away and took a step back.

Being with Neal was a mistake. Must be just a lonely-phobia induced by psychological meltdown because Albert was with someone else. She should stay away from this freaking family which caused too much heartbreak.

"Candy, I won't let them hurt you anymore. Trust me."

He looked wounded. She remembered how his sister wounded her feeling this afternoon and felt a sense of gratification in making the revenge.

"Neal, we're not supposed to be together. If you loved me like you said you did, then do me a favor. Don't ever come to see me again."

Let him tell his sister that. Eliza was wrong. She didn't want to be branded with the Leagans. She just proved it by denying her freaking brother!

Felt winning, Candy proudly walked away.

oOo

-To be continued-

*chapter 6

Thanks for reading.


Chapter 19: Flapping Wings

CHAPTER 19: Flapping Wings

Neal wanted to confront Eliza, but she's not home. In the evening, after coming back from work, he went straight to Eliza's room and started banging at her door. Hearing no objection, he opened the door and burst into her room.

"Eliza!" growled Neal, exploding. "What did you - "

Ziiing

The moment he stepped into Eliza's room, an object flew closed to his head. He narrowly missed it by a few inches.

"Go away!" ordered Eliza. "I don't want to talk to you!"

"What the h-"

Eliza grabbed another object, a bottle of wine, near her and again she threw it to her brother.

Zing

Neal swung the door back closed to shield himself against things she threw, the bottle smashed at the door and broke into pieces.

"You're here for Candy! Candy! Candy! Candy! That's all you care. Leave. Me. Alone!"

"What did you do to her?" Neal growled, angrily. He again tried to step into her room but Eliza stopped him by throwing a cup to him. Neal went back to hide behind the door. "Stop throwing things at me!"

"Don't fucking tell me what to do!" snarled Eliza. "Thanks to your goddamn idiocy my board of directors position is gone! My stock shares are gone too^!" cried Eliza indignantly. "Stella left me. Tedd left me. No one wants me. My own brother also prefers that orphan over his own little sister#"

Eliza's voice broke.

Silence#

"Tedd left you?" Neal knew how much Eliza expected a ring from the man. Poor sister#

Neal peeked through the door.

Eliza darted to the door and flung it open.

"I'll be an old maid now! Happy?" screamed Eliza fiercefully. "Of course you don't give a damn because all you care about is that stable girl!"

She slammed the door closed and locked it.

"Who says that? Of course, I care. Eliza! Open the door!"

She didn't budge.

"Forget Tedd. We find someone else!"

"No one is richer than Tedd. Get the hell away!"

Neal exhaled and kicked the door. Shit!

A month later#

It's been a month that Candy sent Neal away. Ever since he left, days passed by in a haze. Mingling with friends, giving small talk or greetings were done merely to fulfill her obligation as a good citizen.

"Have a nice long weekend, nurse Ardlay," said the hospital guard as Candy passed through the hospital gate.

"Thanks, you too," said Candy, forcing her lips to spread to return the man's friendly smile.

Candy stepped on to the busy street. She had given up driving. Walking took longer. It helped to kill more time. Cars, children's laughter, baby's cries, street vendors trying to attract customers all passed in a blur. She felt wasted.

She wished she could go back to the fox hunting time. She would have made Anthony finish his story about the prince of the hill instead of chasing the fox. Anthony wouldn't have fallen from the horse and she would have been married to him by now. She wouldn't have Terry or Albert to break her heart and most of all... The hollow in her heart got so big her brain barely had the courage to spell out the name... Neal.

Tears welled in her eyes. She didn't bother to wipe it. It's already quite dark, no one could see it. She's getting too tired of wiping her own tears.

Why can't I forget Neal? Was it because of the sex, which incidentally was burning, or is there something deeper?

How to know the answer?, Candy thought miserably.

"Freckles!"

Candy felt someone tapped on her shoulder. She lifted her face to see who's tapping.

"T-terry?" she fumbled, recognizing the man instantly. "Terry! Oh Terry!"

"Freckles! I knew I could find you here!"

They hugged and laughed merrily.

"How are you?"

"Good!" said Candy giving the standard answer, although the truth was quite the opposite.

"Dinner? You have time?" asked Terry.

"Sure," replied Candy. How could she say otherwise? That wouldn't be polite, would it?

Candy took Terry to a nearby Cafe.

"How long have you been in Chicago?"

"About an hour," Terry grinned.

Candy picked her usual table at the corner and they made their order. While waiting, they were chatting.

"We'll be neighbors," said Terry, examining a plate of hot dog served in front of him which Candy especially ordered for him.

"Chicago style#," said Candy, grinning. "Try it."

Terry looked at it inquisitely.

"Just put whatever condiments you want inside it, grabbed it and bite it," explained Candy, smiling. "Like it?"

"Yeah," answered Terry. Always be a British at heart, she knew he didn't understand hot dog. Candy laughed. Good old Terry# it's good to be able to laugh again#

"I requested my next performance to be done in Chicago," said Terry, chewing.

"Oh!" exclaimed Candy. "Suzanna is here too?"

"Nope, we broke up,"

Candy's mind wandered to Neal instantly at that broke up word. Her heart ached.

"I am sorry," said Candy.

Terry shrugged. "For two years we both have given all we can. It just doesn't work. Towards the end, she just wanted me to leave the house as soon as possible." Terry laughed. "She has moved on, Freckles. Her prosthetic doctor is madly in love with her. I can tell. Finally he won her heart."

Terry told the story in details. "We're still friends though."

He looked impeccably happy and open. No more cold mask like the last time they met in New York*. Many times when they tried to reach something on the table, he didn't mind to have his hand brush with hers. While she remembered he avoided that last time they're in New York*.

"How're others?"

"Albert has a girlfriend."

"Oh? My friend Albert! Good news," Terry smiled broadly. "With whom?"

Candy told the story in great details. Surprisingly, she didn't feel hurt at all. Elatedly, she talked about the new couple which she had met a few more times after Neal left.

"Annie is engaged to Archie," added Candy as they walked outside the restaurant.

But, her tongue numbed at Neal's turn. Her heart hurt so much, she bit her lip and skipped the topic.

"A dinner again tomorrow?" invited Terry.

Terry was fun, but she'd rather be alone in her apartment doing philosophical debate with herself whether or not she's wrong to send Neal away. She knew she's being stupid. Neal might already have someone new by now. But, she just couldn't help it.

"I have a night shift Terry," said Candy politely declining.

"Lunch?"

"I have a study group," Candy said hurriedly. She didn't want to sound too be to rejecting either. "Sunday brunch?"

Brunch is harmless. It s a good way to force her to wake up instead of crying thinking about Neal all morning. It helped to make her get up earlier and study for the coming final exam.

"Fine, Sunday brunch," agreed Terry.

They met on Sunday and many times after that. Candy started to appreciate Terry's company. He's fun and helped to distract her mind from Neal. She enjoyed seeing him disguise to avoid fans. She felt important when he took her to tour around the stage. She's jumping to the sky when he invited her to watch his performance, from the VIP box! Needless to say she clapped the loudest.

They both had crazy working night schedule, but they managed to arrange some free nights to dine together. Like what happened today...

After dinner, as usual Terry took Candy back to her apartment. Along the way, they were joking as usual. She laughed till tears falling down her cheeks.

"Well, Terry#," said Candy when they arrived at the front door of her apartment. She was about to say bye when Terry cut her.

"Could I enter?" asked Terry.

His face looked soft, that familiar softness just like before he gave his first kiss in St. Paul. Candy stopped laughing right away. Her heart began to throb nervously.

"N-now?" asked Candy. It was already late at night.

"Yes," Terry replied, hoarsely.

"Uhm# well#"

"Candy, finally we have the time to be together# Isn't it great?"

"Yes, absolutely," said Candy.

She dag the front door key from her pocket and worked to put it into the keyhole. But because Terry kept standing closer and closer, her hand shook so much that it took several attempts before finally she could fit the key inside. In rush, before he got anymore closer Candy unlocked the door and pushed the door open, probably, a bit too hard. She lost balance and falling to the floor.

"Careful, Freckles," Terry extended his arm to catch her. He pulled her over and held her against him.

His head was over her as he looked at her tenderly, back to the old Terry in St. Paul not the cold New York Terry.

Oh Christ, trembled Candy. Instantly, Neal's face toying her mind again.

"Thanks # I am fine#" Candy quickly balanced herself and released herself from Terry's grip.

"Let me switch on the light first" said Candy extra loudly to cover her nervousness. She motioned to the light switch to put extra space between them. "Do you want to drink? My father, Albert that is, gives me servants and chefs now," she laughed. "Albert said I need help in the kitchen. We can have them prepare#"

"No need, thank you. I just want your company," said Terry.

Candy gulped.

"Well, I am still kind of hungry. French cuisine# the portion is too little#" She chuckled. "Let me call them." Candy moved to ring the bell to distance herself yet farther from Terry.

Terry held her hand. He brought it to his lips and kissed it.

"Candy, don't avoid me."

Holding her hand, he motioned to nearby chair pulling her to sit next to him. "Do you remember how we made love in St. Paul?" asked Terry gently. "In my dorm room, yours, in the meadow, under the tree# Wherever it was, they were all awesome. Don't you agree?"

Candy nodded.

In St. Paul, she got a private room because she's Sir William's daughter and Terry got his because he's the son of Duke Grandchester. They often visited each other secretly. In his room, she lost her virginity. How could she forget?

"Candy, I want you back."

She let out a long breath. It's like a complete loop. After those heartbreaks, tears, and depression, here he was, more than two years later, finally decided to come back. Who knew that Neal one day would come back to her again, too. If he did, she could only hope that he acted faster.

"I wanted you so badly Terry. I was shipwreck when I returned back from New York, alone."

"I was young, confused... I should not have let you go."

It's good to finally hear that confirmation from his own mouth. Finally she could feel peace. "It wasn't easy..." Candy returned generously.

"Let's start over. I take you with me wherever I go from now on. Promise."

"Terry..."

"Just say yes, Freckles..."

Terry moved forward gently, caressing her hair and kissed her...

Terry's kiss was wonderful. After all he's the biggest crush of her life, the first man she bedded! She could see why so, from that kiss.

But, like a shadow that refused to leave her, she remembered Neal. If only Terry's kiss could conveniently wipe Neal from her head, purge memories of him that's eating up her soul...

Was Neal with someone too at this moment? Her heart bled... She missed him. She'd do anything to hear his gentle voice whisper he loved her again.

Terry pulled her into his lap and pushed his tongue into her mouth. She felt even more thorn. Why? She's single. She had all the rights to move on and have a new date.

Then, Candy felt something hard protruding through his trouser against her hip... At that moment, she didn't care about whys anymore. That's enough! She pulled her mouth away and pushed Terry as strong as she could.

"Terry# I-I can't," Candy stammered. "It's too sudden. I am not used to it!"

-To Be Continued-

*Page 42 book 7: Terry was cold and distance to Candy in New York.

^ Board of director position and stock shares: Chapter 4. Stella's promise to Eliza if Neal got engaged with her.

oOo

Thanks for reading.


Chapter 20: The Earl

Chapter 20: The Earl

"Freckles, then get used to it." Terry whispered. He moved forward to pull Candy back. "Let me kiss you to make you wipe all other men you have in your head."

He did that before in St Paul# when he tried to make her forget Anthony and again when he made her give up her virginity# Unlike then, she refused to comply this time.

"Christ, Terry! You know that I am with no one," rejected Candy. "It's just# I don't plan to date anyone until I graduate!" Candy babbled some excuse. "You would not want to wait that long."

"Try me."

"My final exams are coming. We talk about this later." Candy motioned to the door. "I have to study, Terry."

"Is this the end for us?"

"What are you talking about?" Candy forced herself to smile. "Come anytime you like. This weekend, I'll go out with Annie and Archie. Coming?"

"I'll be there!" replied Terry.

Candy forced herself to smile that lasted until the door closed. Leaning at the door, she wiped her mouth and cried.

Why is it so hard to forget Neal?

oOo

That weekend, Candy took Terry to meet Archie and Annie. It reminded Candy of the great time they had in St. Paul# Of course unlike then, Stear and Patty were not here now. But to think that they're in the honeymoon made it even more special! How time flew - for the better. It was so wonderful# until Terry and Archie were laughing about Neal#

"Yup, amnesia!" laughed Archie. "He didn't know who we were!"

"Once a whim will always be a whim," laughed Terry.

"Add amnesia to it. Imagine!" added Archie.

They kept laughing at Neal and Candy's heart sank deeper and deeper. He's not a whim!

"Geezz and he wanted to marry Freckles, you said?" mocked Terry.

"What a hallucinating freak who lives in his own la la land!" added Archie.

He's not a freak, thought Candy. She felt unhappy for making people laugh at Neal. Her heart swelled with misery.

"Anyway... Archie, I bought a new car. Want to see it?"

"Sure! Show me the way!" Archie patted Terry's back. The two got up to check Terry's new car.

Candy remained seated on her seat like being nailed there. It's so unusual to her active personality. Annie noticed, worriedly she approached her friend.

"Candy, are you alright?"

"Kind of tired. Didn't sleep much last night," Candy managed to flash a brief smile.

"Well, of course! Terry is here..." Annie winked. "I suppose you'll sleep late again tonight?" Annie teased her.

Candy's chin started to tremble and unexpected to Annie, she burst into tears.

"Candy?" asked Annie, surprised.

Candy cried harder.

Gently, Annie took her friend into her arms - just like the way they used to when they comfort one another, as little girls, in Pony's home. "There's something that you hide from me, isn't there?"

Candy laid her head on Annie's shoulder, and cried and cried.

"I couldn't sleep because# Because... I miss Neal." Candy cried, letting everything out unchecked.

She felt grateful that Annie didn't laugh at her. That meant so much to her troubled heart.

Without making comments, Annie kept holding her, quietly.

"I asked Neal to leave. He left as I asked. "B-but I thought he'd come to visit me once# or twice# or more# He doesn't!" A fresh rush of tears burst again. "He forgets me just like that."

Candy sobbed uncontrollably.

"Candy..." Annie gently patted her friend's back. "Neal is back in Florida..."

"H-How do you know?" stammered Candy.

"From mom# She talked with aunt Sarah."

Florida# Back to his pool of girls!, thought Candy miserably. In a flash she thought about the pictures of Neal and his girls from the tabloids Eliza showed her. Candy felt her world collapse. There's no turning back.

"It's over... it's all over," Candy sobbed brokenly. Tearfully, she told Annie everything that she missed while she's not in town.

"We had a good time... Then, I met Eliza# well you know her# She successfully provoked me#. I vented it all to Neal# I sent him away."

Annie patiently held Candy until she stopped crying. The Leagans were not easy, she could understand the dilemma her friend was having.

"Candy# I admit# it's incredulous but you two looked great together," said Annie. Feeling deeply moved for her friend, she dropped a few drops of tears in anguish. "I can ask mom for Neal's phone number. You call him, ask him to come back."

Good idea. But what about Eliza? Ohhh it's too complicated# Candy kept crying in her friends arms in desperation.

Well, maybe it's time to move on# I made the correct decision. "No," said Candy determinedly after a while. "I'm a person of my word. I'll forget him."

"It'll get better with time, Candy." Annie squeezed her hand to show support.

Candy nodded. She should be strong. She'd be over Neal next month# she promised!

ooOoo

Meanwhile in Florida...

Eliza and Neal went back to Florida while Mrs. Sarah Leagan continued her trip to be with her husband.

Neal worked diligently to catch up what he missed due to his absence while he's having amnesia.

He just finished another business meeting and took a few minutes break before the next one. He used the time to think about Candy.

He missed her...

It's so tempted to visit her in Chicago. Yes, she asked him to leave, but she always did that...

The difference was, now that he knew her better, he chose not to visit as she requested. Not yet, at least.

He had decided... for Candy's sake, he would get his family's cooperation first before meeting her again. His heart bled remembering how shaking she was after meeting Eliza. Poor Candy. She shouldn't go through such an ordeal anymore. He had to make Eliza promise not to let that happen again!

Neal sighed.

Unfortunately, Eliza didn't make it easier. It's been a month that Eliza didn't talk to him. She found comfort only in the man's best friend, Cece the dog. Other than with Cece, she refused to meet anyone, it's -

"Peter Gallway, the Earl of Dussex is here, Mr. Leagan," announced Neal's secretary.

Earl?, thought Neal stunt, nodded at the same time.

Peter is an Earl?, thought Neal as he straightened his suit which was already supremely put. Peter was his friend from St. Paul's years. He had never heard Peter say that he's a noble.

Soon, a young man with a broad proud smile stood at the door.

"Earl? You Peter? Tsk tsk... Sounds bloody good!" Neal greeted his friend.

Peter laughed heartily, shook Neal's hand energetically. "Thanks! I didn't expect it myself!"

"Since when?"

"Suddenly inherited it from a deceased very-distant-uncle whom I had never known about." Peter smiled broadly. "I heard he's a loner without other male relatives except, who knows, me. Somehow in his will he inherited his title and estate to me."

"Awesome. Come, we go to a bar. I treat you beer!"

"Actually, that's nothing. There's something more exciting that I want to share with you." Peter smirked. He reached out to a folder in his bag. "Remember you gave me money for my start up*?"

Neal nodded.

"It went exactly just like you predicted. The business grew so well that we decided to go public+!"

"Oh! Bravo!" praised Neal, impressed.

"The decision was just finalized yesterday." Peter opened the envelope. "Once we go public, the company will worth billions of dollars. And since most investment comes from you, you'll be our major shareholder."

Peter took a piece of certificate out from the envelope. "Here's your share^ certificate, Neal# It will worth billions of dollars next month." Peter winked.

Billions of dollars?

Neal always liked to research and invest money on start-ups for side projects. Considering the risk that came with it, he always used his own money not his father's. Some were successful, some weren't. But Peter's start-up certainly was his biggest success to date! What an investment! Wait till his father knew that his son would be a billionaire of his own right soon!

Neal felt excited and laughed together with Peter. Then he remembered Candy and felt guilty that he laughed. He quickly cut it out and let it hang loose.

Peter noticed.

"It's not good enough for you?" asked Peter.

"You're kidding me!" managed Neal quickly. "Peter, this is fantastic!"

Peter laughed. "Good that I am not your competitor, Neal. We won't make this without your sharp insight," said Peter humbly.

Neal grinned.

"Let's grab some beer to celebrate!" Neal got up from his chair. Peter didn't flinch and remained seated.

"There's# er... something else, actually." Peter suddenly looked nervous. "The reason why I'm here# The thing that drives me and pushes me to keep moving forward."

Neal sat back to his chair, quietly examining his friend. Peter certainly had a plate full of things today. He was a tough man, but Neal noticed his voice suddenly shudder. Neal could even see him blushing.

"Your sister... Eliza. She's not yet married, I hope?" asked Peter, somewhat shyly.

Neal shook his head.

Peter looked visibly relieved.

"Could you help me to meet her? Would you please, Neal#? I'd be your servant to the eternity."

That's unexpected. Neal leaned back on his chair and listened#

"I have loved Eliza since I saw her in St. Paul," said Peter convincingly with all sentimentality of a young man who're in love.

The fact that she's arrogant and attractive didn't at all help the matter. Peter's family wasn't poor, but he knew Eliza categorized him as such. Now, finally he had the confidence to claim what he regarded was long overdue, to make her his!

"I promise to always love Eliza and be good to her for the rest of my life," added Peter earnestly.

An idea instantly flashed in Neal's mind...

ooooOooooo

That evening...

"Sis#!" called Neal at her door. "Could we talk?" Neal knocked Eliza's bedroom.

Silence. Only the sound of Cece who got excited was heard. She knew Neal was at the door.

"There's this guy... A noble. An Earl!" continued Neal to attract his sister's attention.

Eliza stayed silence.

"Richer than Tedd! You heard that? A billionaire not a multi millionaire!" said Neal excitedly. "A self-made billionaire!"

No sound.

"He's not double or triple your age! Only one year older than you. He seems honest. He said-"

"Liar," screamed Eliza from inside but this time her usually sharp voice wasn't as sharp. "Impossible! I've researched them all. There's no such a man!"

"Sis, I'm your brother. Why would I lie to you?"

For the first time in a month, Neal saw that door flung opened.

"Who?"

"The Earl of Dussex."

"Who's that?" asked Eliza doubtful.

"You've met him in St. Paul. Tedd is a peanut compared to him!"

"Really? Which one?!" Eliza started to be excited. "Introduce me, bro," she shook his brother's arm excitedly. "Please... I'll do anything." She screamed impatiently.

"Seriously?" asked Neal searching her eyes. "Anything?"

"Yes. I say anything means anything. When do I ever lie to you?" Eliza lifted one eyebrow. "What do you want from me?"

"A promise about something." Neal grinned. "Here're my terms#"

-To be continued-

*start-up = a new business/company. Neal contributes money for Peter to start a company.

+go public: A private company that starts issuing/selling stock shares to general public is called go public.

^share = stock. Company stock.

Thanks for reading.


Chapter 21: No Substitute

CHAPTER 21: No substitute

A month later#

RINGGG... !

Candy pumped her fist silently over her chest. Her last final exam was over!

She looked around her, all her classmates were all smiling widely. One by one the student leaped off their feet to turned in their papers to the supervisor and soon the classroom exploded into happy chatter. Before parted, they reiterated their plan to meet tonight at the pub for some celebration.

Outside, Candy was welcomed by Annie who had been waiting for her. Candy ran to her best friend's arms who never failed to be there for her in all important moments of her life.

That night, Annie, Archie, and Terry accompanied Candy to the pub to celebrate her last day of school together with her classmates. They laughed, drank, played, chatted# lots of fun.

"My turn to get beer." Candy got up, taking two empty pitchers of beer with her.

The pub was unusually crowded with celebrating students. One had to line up a long line to get their pitchers filled, so did Candy. Her mind started to wander elsewhere. She didn't pay attention on her step, got tripped by an unseen step and fell...

Folks around her readily helped her to get up. Candy thanked them and continued lining up until she got her two pitchers of beer filled. Forgetting about the mishap, Candy went back to her table to join her friends.

At the end of the party, Candy and classmates exchanged contact numbers. They made promises to keep in touch and one by one dispersed to go home...

Candy stood up ready to leave too. But unexpectedly, she felt a sharp pain around her ankle. It's so painful that she fell back to her seat.

My ankle..., thought Candy, alarmed.

She checked her ankle. It's swollen. Darn! To not make any scene and destroyed the festive atmosphere, Candy didn't tell anyone. She stayed until the last to leave. Then, bearing the pain, she slowly got up forcing herself to walk.

"You're okay Candy?" asked Terry. He noticed she's limping.

"I missed a step just now and fell," explained Candy. "It's nothing."

She forced a fake smile and tried to walk normally but the pain sharpened and by the time she got outside, she simply couldn't walk any further. She leaned on the wall, her face was pale, twitched in pain. Her ankle was excruciatingly more painful now that she forced to use it to walk.

"It hurts, isn't it?" asked Terry.

Without warning, he scooped her petite body and carried her in his arms. Her ankle was very hurtful, it's good to be carried.

"Thanks Terry," said Candy, grateful.

"Your final is over. What do you plan to do tonight, Candy?" Terry whispered softly in her ear. He pulled her close to his chest burying her face in his shirt.

Right, she promised Terry to get to know each other deeper after the final! But that's because she thought she'd forget Neal. She hadn't. Without Neal, she'd rather spend the night quietly rather than with another man.

What to do?, thought Candy, frightened.

Candy got panicked. Out of nowhere, she felt her nose suddenly become itchy and her lungs burn.

"Achoo. Terry, your cologne. Achoo," Candy sneezed, pushing Terry away, grappling for fresh air. "Put me down# Achoo#"

"Terry put Candy down. Quick! She's allergic," reiterated Annie, worriedly.

In alarm, Terry quickly put Candy down.

Her ankle was burning with pain, she felt itchy all over her face. Out of nowhere she felt nauseated. Her tolerance to alcohol wasn't that good and she had skipped dinner and had been filling her stomach with it. Her allergic reaction worsened, soon Candy was attacked by allergy sneezing fit.

"Oh no, my handkerchief is scented," said Terry.

"My handkerchief is scented too," lamented Annie frustratedly.

"So is mine," added Archie.

"Candy! Candy!?" Annie chased her friend worriedly. "How do you feel? Say something... Oh Archie, what to do?"

"Er#," responded Archie.

"Use mine. It's not scented!"

Among her sneezes, Candy heard a voice. That voice! Which had been haunting her day and night.

Neal?

With heart thundered with hopes, still sneezing, Candy lifted her head# Neal was walking steadily to her direction!

"Neal!" What is he doing here?, thought Candy among her sneezes.

Neal stopped at her side and passed his handkerchief to her. Then with his other arm he lifted her, whisked her to the open air to get fresh air.*

"Breathe, Candy... breathe...," said Neal. His voice was soft, heart-wrenchingly familiar so did the smell of the handkerchief.

Candy sneezed. "Oh, I'm fine..." she sniffled, protesting. She's not fine. But she's not used to be a patient. She felt embarrassed to get all the attention just for breathing . "I'm a nurse-" Candy sneezed again.

"Yes. One excellent nurse. But nurse needs to breathe now," Neal murmured. His fingers gently rubbed the back of her neck soothing her. "Take another deep breath. Again... No rush# Breathe again# Good#!"

Under Neal's care, gradually Candy recovered her breath back.

"Thank you," Candy whispered. Neal was not amnesic anymore but still equally kind. She almost cried hearing the way he said nurse. Those happy memories... Neal# The same Neal. For the first time in two months, she felt whole. Brave. With him here, there's nothing to worry about.

"You're fine, Candy? Thanks Neal. I take her home," cut Terry.

Neal knew that Candy never ran out of men, but he certainly didn't expect to see Terry there. He didn't care if they're a couple or not. He would resolve the case his way, and whatever happened, he would take Candy home tonight. He had determined, and there's nothing to stop him, except Candy herself.

"I take her home," Neal said threateningly calm.

"I'm taking her home," Terry bit out, giving Neal a lethal look.

"Candy, may I take you home?" asked Neal without looking at Terry.

"Don't push me Leagan," gritted Terry between his teeth.

Terry charged forward and grabbed Neal's collar.

In an instant, a growling sound of a very angry dog was heard followed by four very big men who suddenly appeared from nowhere surrounding Terry. Cece and Neal's bodyguard were in fighting mode ready to attack.

"Not tonight, actor. We can do it at some other time, but not tonight," said Neal while his eyes continued staring at Candy's.

"I can get my bodyguard too," quacked Terry.

Without making a single sound, Neal brushed off Terry's hand from his shirt with one hand. Neal secretly wished that Terry would fight back so Cece could bite him or his body guard could land a punch at his jaw as a retaliation for what he did in St. Paul.

Candy stared at Neal. From how he looked, she knew he wouldn't mind to use his facility. She shouldn't cause a brawl in a pub!

"Terry," Candy interfered quickly. "You were drinking. You shouldn't drive."

Archie wanted to move forward to confront Neal too but Annie held his arm. Annie shook her head and smiled kindly to her man. She leaned her head on Archie's shoulder to prevent him from moving forward.

"Candy, shall we?" asked Neal to Candy. His heart rate kicked up nervously waiting to hear her decision.

"I need some support. I sprained my ankle."

That means yes! Neal was relieved beyond measured. He used all his strength to appear controlled, especially from Terry and Archie's scrutinizing jealous eyes. Without looking at them, Neal lifted Candy up and began taking her to his car.

"Bodyguards, eh?" said Candy.

"Yep."

"Since when?"

"Since mom knew about the kidnapping attempt. She wants to make sure they never can succeed."

She looped her arms around his neck and laid her head on his shoulder. It felt perfect there... So comfortable. So right. This was the place where she belonged.

A driver opened the passenger-side door and he set her inside. He went to his own seat on the other side then settled in himself.

"How do you know that I am here?" asked Candy.

"It's not hard to figure out," he quipped with that brilliant air, his trademark.

She smiled. He grinned in response.

"We go to the hospital first to check your ankle?"

"No need# a little rest will do this," convinced Candy.

Silence ruled on the way home. He readied himself with a counter speech in case she asked him to leave while she's wondering the reason that brought him here. Seemingly understood the tension, Cece laid equally silent in between the two of them.

Neal had his driver to park the car in front of Candy's apartment. He went to her door side to help her out.

"I can walk actually if supported," said Candy.

"Do it tomorrow#," Neal answered softly and carried her again. He wanted to carry her. In case she asked him to leave, he wanted to use the opportunity to absorb as much of her as possible.

A servant opened the front door and Neal brought Candy inside, gently set her on a sofa. Candy nodded to her servants as a sign they're all excused. She took off her shoes and put her foot on a stool while Neal went to a nearby table fixing a glass of water for her.

"Does it hurt?" He knelt next to her ankle, giving her the water to drink.

"No if not used. Tomorrow, I 'm sure it will be better," answered Candy.

Neal motioned to the other end of the living room and sat on the farthest sofa from her. "Good job on your school, Candy."

"I'm glad I'm done with school," said Candy. She patted Cece's head who's been staring at her.

Neal grinned.

"Cece is doing great with her schoolwork too. Come on Cece. Show your new talent," said Neal. "Walk!" He clicked his fingers.

Cece at once rose on her hind legs and walked with her two back legs.

"Awesome!" praised Candy, impressed. She clapped her hands. "Very cute."

"Woof!" barked Cece boastfully.

"She looks bigger."

"She is! She just had a growth spurt." Neal grinned proudly. "According to her doctor she'll keep getting bigger, right Cece?"

"Woof!"

Neal rubbed Cece's head and told Candy more about Cece and other ordinary daily stuffs kind of things.

Candy stared at Neal. He seemed happy and unusually lingered in the most superficial possible topics. No flirting, no teasing, no wickedness, no nothing. The first time he was this bland since# gosh# this was the first time!

She greatly missed all the flirting he did in the past. She didn't think she could live if he had lost all his feeling for her and treated her only as a # friend.

oOo

-To be continued- Only half the story here# Not much. I'll post the other half soon.

* Chapter 9: Neal knows about Candy's allergic problem.

Depending on how the chapters are cut, chapter 23 most likely is the last.

Thanks for everyone who's been diligently following the story. :"O my heartfelt gratitude for your participation to read this story. Thank you! Thank you. Thanks so much.

oOo

And of course the reviewers:

ELSA: Yeah Eliza is occupied now. Ohhh regarding the reviews. Haha. Thanks for all the supporters of course, including yourself# Thanks! It's more fun to see the counter go up rather than constant.

Vialsi: Oh Yeah! Neal is the man! I like to think of him that way, in this story, anyway. He's back now and knows that Candy missed him. :D

Sabrina: Oh ! I'm bias. Haha# Kind of bias obviously against Terry and your brother in law. Haha About the lengthy honeymoon: in books I read around that time, rich people usually go for a longgg honeymoon# MONTHS# So I adopt it here. Probably because back then they used ship and train. It took weeks to reach Europe main port only :)))) But, yeah mainly because I think Stear and Patty are having a great time :D


Chapter 22: All in All

CHAPTER 22: All in All

.

RATING: *M*

.

oOo

"You look# great," Candy started.

"I can't be better," Neal grinned.

Her heart broke. He seemed to be over her. So fast# Did he know that she had been living in hell for the last two months?

"For someone who had been miserable, couldn't sleep, couldn't work, utterly broken and in a constant bottomless pit of misery ever since you left me, I am doing exceptionally well," Neal continued grimly. "How are you?"

Readily, tears welled up in her eyes.

Forgetting about her hurting ankle, Candy moved to hug the man who she had missed so much but the sharp pain stopped her, nailed her back to her seat. Neal hurriedly came and knelt next to her.

"Candy..." He pressed his fingers on her lips. "Anything... say anything# just don't ask me to leave."

"Then stay." She held his hand and pressed it to her face. "I miss you." Tears trickling down freely along her face. "Invite me to come into your arms. Hug me! Like the way you used to hug me."

Neal was utterly shocked! Among the many things he's been preparing to hear from her, this wasn't one of them.

Completely touched, he opened his arms. "Come here sweetheart. Let me hold you. Give me the pleasure to shower you with a thousand kisses."

She fell right to his chest. Clutching his shirt tightly in her small hands, she cried freely in his chest. His heart melted hearing her sobs.

"Darlin', would you be so kind to tell me how much you miss me?" asked Neal.

"A lot! Neal, I miss you so much."

Overcome, he nuzzled his face against hers, seeking for her mouth before captured it in a desperate kiss. A kiss that showed how desperate he wanted her and needed her. It left her wonder how she could even doubt him.

"I miss you every second of the day...," said Neal. He kissed her like he would never get enough of her. "Because I love you. So much... completely. Please believe me."

Candy held him tighter. The love word sounded so beautiful and fitting when it came from his lips. Oh Lord, how she wanted this man!

"I have loved you longer than you know... more than... m-more# t-than#," his voice started to flatter.

It's unbelievable. Candy was in his arms! He's kissing her. She's in tears saying she had been missing him. This was surreal. It's overwhelming!

"Oh God#" with a broken sound, like a sob, Neal abruptly released her and pulled away. He looked away but not fast enough to hide a tear that's rolling on his cheek.

"Neal#?"

Gently Candy turned his face to hers. His eyes were red, full of tears. This was not the first time she saw Neal cry. She saw him cry countless times when he was a boy. Back then she looked down on him, this time it tore her.

"I truly love you, Candy. So when you asked me to never come back... It's just so hard... I can't. I am so sorry# but I just can't!" His voice broke. He pulled a handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his tearful face.

"Oh Neal. Please don't."

He pulled her close and buried his face in her hair.

"So, I decided to disobey you and come back," continued Neal as she felt his warm tears dripping on her neck. "Candy, I talked to my parents and sister. I've made them promise to accept you, to respect you, and to honor you."

He did what? Candy's wiggling to pull back and to look into his face, but he squeezed her so tight that she couldn't move even for an inch.

"Regardless of the horrid past# Candy dear, could you try to accept me? I need you. I do. I wish, I could show you how much."

Her blood got warmed. Yes, she wanted to know how much he missed her...!

"Show me," Candy whispered breathlessly after only a brief silence. "Let me see how much you missed me."

She put her arms around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth.

He slowly loosened his grip and pulled away. Cupping her face in his hands, he kissed her once more, aggressively this time. And when he stared at her again, his face lost the heartbreak look. It looked determined.

"Where's your bed?" he rasped.

"There." Candy gestured.

Giving her a hot gaze, Neal lifted Candy from the sofa and carried her to her bedroom. He sat her down gently at the side of her bed, kissed her and went to shut the door. He then drew his suit off, hung it on a nearby seat before toeing off his shoes and knelt next to her bed.

She watched him throughout# She left him just two months ago, but yet the man looked quite different. She examined him.

"You've been working out~?" guessed Candy.

She spread his shirt collars open and pressed her palm against his chest. Yes, it looked tanner and felt harder than when he was just recovered.

"Yes."

She spread kisses on his remarkable chest and pressed her face into it. "I regretted making you leave. But, I thought it's too late to call you back#," she muttered faintly.

"I haven't had a woman since you left," Neal murmured.

Candy felt a pang of relieved to hear that. Resting her arms on his shoulders, she closed her eyes relishing the answer. "You haven't?"

"You're the only one I want, Candy# I saw you when I opened my eyes and I dreamed about you when I closed my eyes." He rubbed his mouth against her face. "I am madly in love with you#" He possessed her mouth in a burning kiss. "Because you know me so well. Because you are my friend. I never thought about relationship this way until you showed me."

He unzipped her dress and let it fall to the bed making her upper torso bare.

"And, good God, you're beautiful," he murmured. He ran his fingers around her breasts stroking them gently and buried his face in them.

"How did you convince your family?" Her breathing started to be unsteady.

"I have my way." He seized one of her breasts in his mouth, tugging on her nipple with his teeth. She moaned, bringing her hands down and unzipped his trouser. He was already so hard that his cock readily sprang out. Welcoming it in her hands, she began pumping gloriously that he growled and sucked her nipple harder.

"Neal#," she cried out, gripping his cock tighter.

Shaking, he quickly drew the rest of her clothing to make her bare.

"I want to be inside you when I come," he growled. "Candy#" Panting, he pulled his shirt over his head and dropped his pants to the ground to be as bare as her.

Her heart raced at the sight of his naked beauty which quickly subdued when she thought of the consequence that came by being with him.

"Should I first write your family a letter?" asked Candy. Her mood turned guarded instantly. "To state formally that my intention is purely-"

"Ssh Candy... Never mind about them," whispered Neal. He crawled onto the bed and pulled her up with him. "They'll know that you're an angel and will fall in love with you too. Now#," he lowered his body on top of her. "I want to love you. I miss you so much#"

He purred into her mouth and kissed her while slowly slipping one finger into her wet silky tunnel. She was so dripping wet he almost exploded right then even before they even started. He withdrew his drenched finger and rubbed her surrounding sex with the rich moisture, flawlessly tickling her clitoris with that yearning subtle motion.

"I promised you this, didn't I?"*

"Yes# Yes#," she panted. Sighing and moaning, she moved mindlessly against his fingers, begging more of him.

"I thought about this all the time# It almost drove me insane," he muttered.

He slid down one more finger inside her and began licking her clitoris until she moved frantically against it. Then, he grabbed her hands. He threaded his hands in hers and plunged into her vigorously over and over, slamming mercilessly until a fire exploded in her belly and she came violently.

"Hold me," he begged without slowing down.

All sweating and shaking with pleasure, she wrapped her arms around his back. His breath turned ragged. It sounded so erotic that pushed her desire to a fever pitch.

"Ah! Candy#" he pounded relentlessly to the end of her, so deep, so big, so powerful, sending waves of unimaginable pleasure spreading in her. "I missed you. I love you#"

Her muscles clenched at his words, with a sharp cry she came in another staggering orgasm. They climaxed together, her body squeezing him, his cock jerked spurting pulses of hot semen into her.

Breathing heavily he nibbled her ear and whispered. "I need you," before crushing over her.

She pressed her palm on his back, holding him until she could speak again.

"Don't leave tonight," she murmured, eyes already closed. "I want to hold you when I wake up."

"I won't leave." He kissed her and rolled to the bed. "Promise."

Before her next breath, she had fallen asleep.

I will never leave you, ever - if you let me. He quietly stroked her sleeping face and pulled her close.

"Do you love me, Candy?" he whispered amidst her quiet even breathing. "Would you ever?"

He exhaled.

That's such a big expectation. If only they could always be together like this, he would be content enough.

"Candy... Never leave me again," he whispered.

He kissed her again, then, he too, drifted to sleep.

.

oOooOOOoooOo

.

The following day, Candy moved in to live with Neal in one of the Leagan mansions. The couple's hearts couldn't be more blooming but not without a glitch of a little argument. Neal insisted on having Candy use his wheel chair for the weekend which she refused. They settled on her using his crutches. But using crutches was too tiring so at the end she used both of them.

On Monday, her ankle's condition was back to almost normal and she went to work as usual.

Terry came to visit Candy at lunch.

He came with a glimpse of hope. But, when their eyes met, they understood each other, no more difficult explanation was needed. Her serene but radiant face told it all. He could tell that there's nothing left in her for him except the deepest of friendship. Considering what she went through, perhaps, he should be happy for her.

"Our performance is done in Chicago next week," Terry started. "I won't renew my contract."

"You won't go back to New York?"

"I'll go to California," said Terry. "Got a movie deal as a lead actor in Hollywood#"

"Terry! Congratulations!" cried Candy. She banged her fist loudly to the table until everyone turned around to their direction. "I always know that you're the best!"

She looked genuinely happy, unpretentious - a true friend who's genuinely rooting for him.

Terry smiled.

"Let's celebrate this. I pay the lunch bill!" Candy waved to call a waitress and ordered more festive food.

Terry laughed. He's been immensely excited himself. It's good to share a new page of his life with someone who truly cared.

Terry doesn't need me to get dates!, thought Candy, smiling at him.

-To Be Continued -

working out = exercise

*chapter 16: Neal promised a hot night, but Candy had asked him to leave before that happened.

oOo

THANK YOU for reading#


Chapter 23: Heart Spoken

CHAPTER 23: Heart Spoken

.

Rating: M

.

A few weeks later#

Candy passed all her exams and got promoted to a higher level nurse. Her boyfriend couldn't be more proud. Neal who started to take Candy as his date to public engagements beamed every time he introduced his smart and beautiful-Candy to others. Candy's photos together with her photogenic famous boyfriend soon hit the newsstand like a bombshell. The news that Neal Leagan dated a new blond who's the step-daughter of the famous patriarch, Sir William, soon became gossip sensations.

On a personal level, Candy and Neal were just a new pair of love birds who enjoyed being with each other. They tried to find time and be together as much as they could among their busy professions. They even arranged to go to work or to come home together whenever schedule permitted. It didn't always work though. Like today...

From his office, Neal called Candy to tell her that he would come home late for some business engagement tonight. So, Candy went home first.

At home, following her boyfriend's good habit, Candy did some workout routine with her trainer. Then, he had dinner, took a shower and took care of her letters. To her thrill, one letter was from Patty. She's pregnant and might settle in London tentatively with her husband.

Great! Honeymoon is cool!, thought Candy dreamily.

Candy lay down on her bed imagining how happy Patty must be. Then her mind drifted to her boyfriend. Instantly the feeling of needing him came again. It's crazy considering how many times she had climaxed last night. It must be because he simply burned the bed! Incomparable.

He didn't get his reputation for nothing#, Candy sighed, admitting.

The down side was it became hard to determine if the strong feeling she had was based on love or sex. She kept thinking about her situation until her eyelid felt heavy and she crashed out.

Candy woke up sometimes later in the middle of the night. Her ear caught Neal's familiar breathing and her heart instantly was flooded with immense joy knowing that he's by her side. It was overwhelming how precious he was to her. She immediately turned sideways to wrap him with her leg and arm.

"I woke you up, Candy?" asked Neal softly.

"You just came to bed. Why didn't you wake me up?"

"You got up very early this morning and last night you barely slept." Although she couldn't see his face, she could guess that he's grinning. Indeed, they were making love incessantly the night before.

She stayed silence.

He rolled to her side. Pushing himself on his elbow, he examined her face in the dark. She's quiet.

"Bad dream?" he asked, running his fingers gently on his beloved's face.

"I dreamed we went picnic. Patty and Annie took their little ones#," said Candy, chuckled. "Adorable little kids. Dark hair, brown hair# short legs running on the grass, one wore a pair of little glasses#" She paused. "Neal, it's lovely."

Candy chocked, couldn't continue. She always loved kids. Always dreamed to be married early, who would have known that she ended up marrying the last among the three?

Candy sank so deeply in her own thought that she didn't pay attention to Neal. Without making comments, he quietly dropped himself to the bed. She didn't know how long they were trapped in their silence. By the time she realized it, she immediately turned to look at Neal.

It's Neal who she wanted to share her beautiful dream with.

Neal was perfect for her as a friend, as a boyfriend, and as the one to share the future together. It hit her how much he had showered her with love but she never quite returned it. She loved him. She knew for sure now that it's not just about pleasure but love; a passionate burning kind of love that made what her past relationships busted in comparisons. She felt so overwhelmed by that new feeling and suddenly she's bursting to share it. And she would do it. Now.

"I love you, Neal," blurted Candy. It just burst out from her mouth. Unexpectedly, she felt good saying it.

Neal was speechless...

She put her head on his chest stroking him gently with her hand. "I love you," she repeated, softly squeezing his shoulder.

"Candy#" Neal murmured.

He had longed for this moment but he never wanted to push her. He'd rather enjoy whatever she's willing to give; as long as she stayed that was all that mattered. To finally hear her say was# surreal.

Neal gently brushed her off him and rolled to on top of her. He stared at her quietly for a long moment before burying his face on her neck and hugged her.

"I love you, Neal." She brushed her palm on his back enjoying his pressing weight on top of her. "I never be happier in my life."

"My love...," he murmured, showered her with kisses. "I love you too. You know I do."

"I know." Candy kissed him. "I want you to know that I love you, too." It sounded good in her ear, it felt good to say it, it rocked in her soul. "I love youuu."

"Candy... Yes. Yes. I heard you," he murmured and hugged her tight. "Was I in your dream, too?"

"Yes," she whispered.

His hand spontaneously stroked her inner thigh, briefly entered her. "Wet. Is that for me?"

"Just for you," she breathed in his lips.

"What were we doing?"

She pushed him to the bed and crawled on top of him. By now, she knew better what made him groan calling her name in ecstasy.

"Watch," she demanded. "Don't move." Her face was smug.

She pulled her night gown off and dropped it to the floor. "I did this." She unbuttoned his pajama, and slowly moved lower. "You like it... A lot!"

oooooooOOoooOoooOOoooooooooo

.

A few days later# on one of those days when Candy got off from work at regular hour...

She was walking to the hospital gate to meet Neal. He called earlier from his office saying that he'd pick her up today. He sounded mysterious. Candy smiled to herself thinking what plan he had with her. He had made her every day pass by with excitement. And just when she thought it couldn't get any better, it got much better after she told him that she loved him. She never felt so closed and passionate to anyone before in her life.

"Candy!" she heard someone call. It's not Neal's voice.

"Dr. Richard! What a coincidence," said Candy.

"We're off duty. Call me Richard." Richard put his arm around Candy's shoulder. "You have a plan this week end? There's a new play in downtown. We could go to watch together like last time# t-then-"

Richard's voice faltered, his gaze nailed to something behind her. Candy turned and looked over her shoulder. She saw Neal.

"This is?" Richard asked inquisitely.

"You two haven't met. This is my new boyf-"

"Her fiance," cut Neal. His voice was normal but his gaze to Richard was arctic.

Richard's jaw dropped. He right away dropped his arm away from Candy. Almost gaped loudly herself, Candy faced Neal and silently mouthed "fiance" with her lips. She grimaced.

"I didn't know that you#" Richard cleared his throat looking at Candy.

Candy forced a smirk to thaw the icy awkwardness.

"Richard. Nice meeting you, Neal," Dr. Richard shook Neal's hand. "Candy, see you sometimes." He waved and left.

"Fiance eh?" muttered Candy, after Richard was out of earshot.

"Anything to draw an unwanted ass away from you," Neal grumbled. "Why? You regret that you are not with him instead? He obviously wouldn't mind your company." His face looked hurt.

Candy looked at his eyes but he didn't look back.

"Hey, I thought we're past that," said Candy.

Neal didn't respond, still looking grouchy.

"We don't announce dating news update at work and doctors don't usually follow gossip tabloids," reasoned Candy patiently to comfort her boyfriend.

His jealousy quickly dissipated after hearing her gentle explanation. Grinning, he held her hand and took her to walk to the car.

"Who's that idiot who doesn't know me?" asked Neal.

"A new doctor. I substituted his assistant once."

"You like him?"

"I love you," said Candy, leaning her head on his shoulder.

He stopped walking and pulled her to face him. His gaze was tender, filled with abundance of love that made her chest ached. By now she had often said those words, still it affected him deeply every time she said it.

"I love you, too." Neal pressed his lips softly to her. "I wish you knew how much."

He put his arm around her waist and continued their walk.

"He must have some hidden motif with you," Neal snorted. "I can make you the president of the hospital so you don't have to be any doctor's assistance anymore."

"Don't interfere with my career, Neal!"

He grinned.

"Let's go to that somewhere," said Neal mysteriously tender.

They went inside the car.

"Where?" asked Candy. She examined his impressive look to get some clue. He's always well-dressed but tonight he's exceptionally well dressed. She wondered how his staffs could work effectively with a hot man like him sitting in the same room.

"A surprise# Close your eyes. Don't peek! I kiss you until we're there." Neal grinned.

His playful tone excited her. That easily... It was totally amazing.

"How far?"

"Half an hour."

"Half an hour?" asked Candy, calculating. She then shifted her position. Propping herself up on her knees, she's straddling on his lap. "We could make love#" She whispered. "Here. Inside the car. Show me, Neal."

"Not enough time," declined Neal.

He refused?, thought Candy intrigued. Why? Something is off limit for mister bachelor! Or... he had never done this before?

"We could be quick," pushed candy, investigating.

"Let's just kiss."

"Let's do something more exciting."

"I don't bring condoms."

She grabbed both sides of his face and licked him. "What's the matter, Neal?" coaxed Candy. "Haven't you had sex in a car?"

Candy brought her hand under her skirt. She slid her finger inside her thong and slipped the delicate fabric down her legs.

"Jesus,..." breathed Neal, hard. "I don't bring condoms." From his dilated pupil she could tell that he's losing his control. She liked it even more. She then deliberately waved her panties over his face.

"Candy... Please!" Neal swallowed. "I want to be a responsible man for you. Unless# if you insist..."

She snatched her purse and pulled a package of condom from it.

"Took it from the hospital," Candy grinned smugly. "Any more excuse?"

His exquisite brown eyes narrowed. "You've been thinking of me."

He pushed her skirt up her leg to grip her butt and pulled her into him.

"All day#," she panted.

His entire body shook, taken by her continuous seductions. He brought his mouth to her ear and breathed raggedly in her ear.

"You're deliberately seducing me when all I could was helplessly watch. Tell me candy, what should I do to you now?"

"I don't know," she panted.

He unhooked his pants and lifted up slightly to slide his pants partially off. Her skin tingled and her entire body throbbed seeing him in action.

"I will make you come again and again until you beg me to stop. Then, I consider if I 'd stop or make you come some more," hissed Neal.

Candy gasped at his dark heated threat.

Neal then grabbed her hands and brought them to the back seat to give her support. Looking at her eyes, he held his rigid cock with one hand and adjusted her position to slightly slanted with his other hand. She moaned when he sank her to fill him completely. Holding her hips, he then started to move her.

Under her partly open eyelids she looked at him. Their eyes locked.

He's equally capable in the car or in the bed. But# what made her burn was not only the sex. It's about the person she had the sex with.

It's only him, just him. My love, Neal#

She's beautiful. They were almost still fully clothed packed together in the backseat but it was very satisfying. He always knew that Candy was the one. He never needed a woman in his life other than to getting physical until she accepted him. She fed his soul, filled him with love.

It's only her, just her. My love, Candy...

Then# they arrived at the secret destination.

...

-To be continued-

Thank you for reading.


Chapter 24: Home

CHAPTER 24: Home

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"Candy, wake up# we're here," murmured Neal. He was slumping in the back seat loosely holding Candy who was slumping on his lap. Both were trying to catch their breath#

Candy opened her eyes. She straightened up stretching her head to look around expecting to see something extraordinary. Surprisingly it's only the old familiar place... Home. Just home# the main Leagan mansion to be exact. They stayed there usually for the weekend. The place had been empty since Mr. and Mrs. Leagan were in Europe busy expanding the Leagan business empire.

"Home?" Candy wondered, lifting her brow. She rolled from his lap to the seat. Home? Only home!

Neal made a move to button back his shirt, tuck his shirt back inside his pants, fasten his pants and belt. Candy amusedly watched her man restoring his appearance. He then turned his attention to Candy. He picked up her bra and with skilled hooked it up for her. He also buttoned her blouse, tugged it so it fell nicely straight.

"That's fine Neal. It's only home, right?" asked Candy lazily.

He grinned. She stared at him. He's always exceptionally careful with dress code, fully entitled to hold the most well dressed man as bestowed by the tabloid.

"You're beautiful, Neal," said Candy.

He stared back at her, his face softened.

"I'm glad you like what you see."

He scooped her up and carried her to the front door. She giggled in his arms. Quite out of the ordinary, no servant came to open the front door. He set her on her feet and dug out a key from his pocket to unlock the door himself! The first time she had ever witnessed such a thing.

"No servant?"

"I told them I open the door myself tonight," said Neal. He glanced at her with a mysterious grin.

Neal opened the door, let Candy in and closed the door back. Candy stared curiously at him. Grinning mysteriously, he took her hand to walk with him into the living room.

Holding her breath, Candy walked into the living room expecting to see the surprise he's been talking about. But# It's just a living room. Nothing unusual about it.

"Living room!" said Neal suddenly with an abrupt gesture. She almost jumped in surprise.

He faced Candy and held both her hands. His gaze was deep and tender.

"Yeah. What about it?" Candy giggled.

He pulled her closer.

"Here, at this very place we first met ten years ago," Neal said softly. "I dropped a bucket of water over you from the balcony. You were standing at the spot we're standing now."

He cupped her face and kissed her.

"I love you, Candy," said Neal. His gaze deepened with infinite softness. "You don't need to only dream of babies. Make ones with me. Curly hair maybe blonds, brown hair, big green eyes or brown eyes#"

She remembered he was silent when she told him about her dream. She thought he was offended and pretended not listening. Who would have thought#?

"I-I thought you're not listening."

"When I didn't reply, I was thinking and planning this."

"Neal, I wasn't implying anything. Don't feel pressured to#"

"Not at all. I have always wanted to propose to you," he kissed her softly. "I did it once. Too bad it was a shipwreck-"

Her chest rose sharply, her legs were shaking at the word proposal. He was going to propose to her? Suddenly she felt nervous.

"The second time we met again after Stear's wedding, I knew with infinite certainty that I wouldn't let you go and that I'd make you Mrs. Leagan."

Neal gently took her hand and kissed her fingers. Shivered from head to toe, she saw him lower himself on one knee and retrieve a dark velvet box from his pocket. She gaped at the sight of the ring. He's really proposing#

"I want to lie in bed next to you and see your hair on my pillow everyday# Candice White Ardlay, I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?"

Her throat stuck. "Oh, Neal!" with one hand on her chest, she managed to whisper.

It's happening# He's proposing to marry! In that few seconds everything moved quickly in her mind starting from the first time they met. He's bullying her, he's hit by a car for her, they became friends# she fell in love... their first touch... She even laughed briefly remembering what he said about the little blonds and brown hairs they'd have together.^

# This all was great! She wanted to be with him. She loved him! Yes, she'd accept it.

"Yes! Neal, I want to marry you!"

Covering her mouth to suppress both sobs and excitements, Candy watched him take her hand and slip the ring in her finger. It's so surreal.

"Oh Neal! I love you," burst Candy jubilantly. She threw her arms around him as soon as he settled back to his feet.

They laughed, hugged and exchanged loving words to celebrate.

"Ready for dinner?" he asked after she calmed down.

"I-I don't think I can. It's t-too overwhelming."

He picked her hand to his lips and kissed the back.

"Would you give it a try?" he asked softly. "It's not about the food. It's part of the ceremony."

Holding her hand, he took her to the dining room. He rang a bell and servants marched in bringing the soup, main entree and more. He nodded to them and everyone quickly withdrew.

"Candy," said Neal gently. "These are the food served the night you came to our house." He held her hand to walk her to her chair. "Your hair was still soaked when we made you sit here..."

He pulled the chair for her to sit.

"While I sat here" said Neal. He went to his own seat.

The past memory played back in her head, the food, the position# Yes, she remembered. The boy who had now grown up was sitting in that chair. Unlike then, he loved her immensely now.

"Candy, starting tonight, could you try to build wonderful memories in this place together with me?" he asked very gently.

Candy was very happy 每 too happy, in fact, that she's so touched by his thoughtfulness. She became emotional and cried.

"Oh Neal," sobbed Candy. Fighting back her tears she added, "I have, Neal. I have regarded this place as the most beautiful place... Here is the place where I first met and fell in love with the man I love. You."

She got up to approach her fiance and sat on his lap. Her face beamed with pure happiness. "I love you#" She hugged him tightly.

He hugged her tightly back. She's truly an angel. Considering what had happened in the past, she didn't mind to start over. And now, she accepted his proposal with unconditional love. Putting her head in his shoulder, he leaned his head against hers and said, "I love you, Candy. I promised you this will be forever."

Candy nodded in silent tears. While she's wiping her eyes, she saw the ring he just put in her finger. She couldn't believe that she's engaged.

"It's beautiful Neal," she whispered. "Is this... the same ring?"

"Nope," said Neal, tucking her lose strand of hair to behind her ear. "I tossed that one as soon as I got home." He grinned. "This is much better. Second time, more experience."

She laughed which stopped right away at the chilling thought of Eliza and his parents.

"Neal, you're sure your family can accept this?" Candy asked after some silence.

"They have to. And Albert had better accepted me too this time."

Candy laughed then sighed.

"Tomorrow we sign a prenup*. I'll state that I wouldn't want anything from you if -," she choked thinking about the sad possibility. "If you left me and divorced me one day," she continued barely audible.

"Candy, what are you talking about?" asked Neal, flummoxed. He pulled her into his arms and whispered, "I disagree. No! No prenup."

"Neal, I should be considerate to your family, too. This is the least I can do."

"We know that I never leave you. If you left, just took all," he snapped. "I have used all my strength, Candy." He hugged her tight. "If you divorced me, I'd be dead anyway."

Candy wanted to protest but he buried his lips in hers to silence her. When he withdrew, he nailed his gaze sharply at her begging not to continue the topic.

"Last but not least #" said Neal. He got up to open the dining room door and whistled.

Candy heard the sound of nails click on the floor and soon Cece appeared carrying flowers in her mouth.

"These are the flowers I wanted to give you when I asked you go for lunch years ago in the hospital. You remember?~" asked Neal quietly.

Candy's mind wandered to the incident years ago# He presented her the flowers but she smashed them to the floor and on purposely stepped on them. Very sad. She looked at his eyes. He seemed to feel the same, his eyes dimmed briefly before he continued excitedly telling her about the flowers. She felt blessed that they're over those hostile periods.

She slowly nodded as a sign that she remembered.

"I designed the mix to represent the color of you," Neal continued. "Yellow cymbidium orchid - golden like your hair. The dianthus 每 green, your eyes. White giant calla lilies - you skin. Heliconia# brilliant, just like your smile." He smiled.

With her tail wagging fast, Cece gave the flowers to Candy. She seemed to understand the happy atmosphere. Her tongue was sticking out from her wide opened mouth like making a big smile.

"Neal, t-this is lovely. Thank you," said Candy overcome. "Thanks Cece."

She hugged Cece. Then, she turned to her man who made her very happy and hugged him too, three of them together.

# # #

Candy and Neal got married. He gave his bride the most lavish wedding that's broadcasted in all media channels. "I want the whole world knows that you're mine," he said.

.

-To be continued-

^ Neal hit by car for Candy: Ch. 11. Then they became friends. Little blonds and brown hairs: Ch. 23.

*prenup: arrangement on how to split wealth legally at divorce.

~Candy trashed the bouquet of flowers when Neal came to invite her for lunch in the hospital: scene from manga

Reminder: Cece is the dog Neal adopted for Candy. They met in chapter 13.

oOo

Thanks for reading!


Chapter 25: Epilogue

Ch 25: EPILOGUE

.

23 years later...

Candy just finished watching Terry's latest movie in the cinema with her coworkers. At home, to her surprise she found Eliza and her husband, Peter, were there.

Eliza and Peter just came back from Europe from a long holiday to reinstate their wedding oath. They came making a surprise visit to show the souvenirs they brought from Europe for Candy and Neal. Peter bought Neal the newest Rolls Royce directly from London and was showing it to him.

Eliza was ecstatic to see Candy finally come home.

"Talking about car is torturingly boring," complained Eliza. "Come Candy, I'll show you what we got for you."

Eliza nodded to her servant who carried two big boxes and put them on the table. Candy opened her gifts.

"These hats are the latest fashion from Paris. How do you like it?" asked Eliza.

"Lovely Eliza! Thank you!" said Candy.

...

They were chatting# had dinner and tried the new car and hats. Peter and Eliza then went back home.

After Eliza and her husband leaving, Candy wore her new hat again and looked for her husband. Putting the sweetest smile she posed in front of him. "Eliza gave me this. How do I look?"

"Beautiful," quipped Neal.

He quickly looked back at his new car, completely absorbed by it.

"This baby is amazing! Fabulous, beautiful!" said Neal. "Completely fantastic. It can accelerate to 60 mph in just under-"

Candy rolled her eyes hopelessly. Abruptly she stopped posing and sighed. She should have known and didn't even try to interrupt him. When there's a new car, he'd forget everything. But, she's in the mood to make a big deal out of it.

"Me beautiful? Liar. You didn't even look!" grumbled Candy.

"What happens? Something Eliza said?" asked Neal with his eyes still nailed to the new car.

"Yeah sure! That's the easiest isn't it? Just blame everything on her when there's a problem," barked Candy.

Neal looked at his wife instantly.

"My beautiful Candy, you look great with the blue new hat that Eliza bought you from Paris. The green lace ribbon complements nicely with your eyes color and-"

She smiled, he was looking after all.

"You and your beautiful-Candy phrase," cut Candy, laughing "Wait until my face is full of wrinkles and the skin gets discolored with uneven skin tone. See if you still call me beautiful-Candy."

She pecked his cheek. "Anyhow# I go clean up, you watch your new baby."

Candy put the hat back in the box and took it away to have her servant store it. Neal grabbed her arm and pulled her to his arms. After all these years, that's the place where she wanted to be more than anywhere else.

"Beautiful Candy# The mother of our four children# You will look even more beautiful with wrinkles and all those," said Neal. "I will love you more#"

Candy just laughed. Standard pedestrian answer. Of course he had to say that.

"Get out." She playfully pushed him.

He pressed a kiss at the top of her head. "I mean it. You know why?"

She was just being playful just now, didn't at all intent to dwell more on the subject. So she just shrugged and shook her head.

"Because each of your wrinkles will have the memory of life we've share together. Our laughter, heartbreak, joy, things we've been going trough#" His voice was so gentle, his look couldn't be more tender. "And the joy to spend those passing years with you and be loved by you."

After all these years he kept showing that he's better than her ideas of what an ideal man should be that she used to imagine when she's a young girl. He just proved it again.

She looked into his brown eyes for the longest time and said, "I love you Neal." She kissed him. "Let's try your new baby. We. I accompany you," added Candy.

"Will you?"

"Yes, I drive. You time how fast it accelerates," answered Candy. "But! Promise to ride me longer tonight!" She grinned.

Neal grinned and gave a thumb up.

They tried the car...

...

They lived happily ever after.

-THE END-

Peter: he appears in Chapter 20

Thanks everyone for reading.

Thank you!