Albert was in New York office working when George came bringing a stack of letters.
"Sir William, there's one new letter from Candy."
Albert was very happy. For a second he forgot to hide it, the split of a second beaming of his face was seen by George. He couldn't help to feel sorry to tell him the bad news.
"But, apparently there are many of your letters that didn't reach her. Many of her letters that she wrote months ago also just arrived today."
Albert looked at the letters in horror. Yes, apparently many of his letters got returned to senders and never reached her. Probably since he kept moving, some of the rejected letters took a long time to finally reach him. He felt cold sweat on his forehead. He dismissed George and sank to his private problem alone in great distress. So she never knew that I wrote to her, he thought panicked. He started reading her letters by reading the most recent one. It was short, cold and to the point. It even started with "Uncle William" instead of "Albert".
This is my second letter to you regarding this matter. I am sure you are busy, but I just want to get your permission to marry Arnold.
At this line he almost jumped with alarm, he stared at the letter in disbelief with eyes open wide. Suddenly everything looked blur to him. "Married to Arnold?," he talked to himself loudly. He checked all of her past letters that didn't reach him. It's been a few months. He could see the change in tone. The earlier ones were full of love, warm and friendly and it became shorter and shorter with much cooler and reserved tone sometimes with a hint of complain that she hadn't got his mail for sometimes. She didn't get my letters, he thought. He's so panicked. The matter was too serious to be addressed by the phone so he decided to go back home as soon as possible. He ordered George to prepare him a train ticket for that night and off he went. Of course there were many cancellation in his business schedule which his staffs tried to remind him about. But the current Albert was different than the one when he was just introduced to public. In the past, he scarified Candy many times for the sake of his business meetings, now, he regarded her more important than his business engagements. He mainly told them, "I'll be back in a few weeks. I need go to tonight." Candy is more important, he thought.
As soon as he arrived back home, he went to the hospital to look for Candy. He tried to be as low profile as profile to avoid the big fuss of his visit. He found her in the resting area with a man.
Candy saw him. The moment she saw him, she suddenly forgot all the hard feelings she had towards him and really wanted to run to his arms. Finally she could see Albert again. Gosh, how he's handsome, very handsome, how much she loved to look at him. How much she wanted to run into his strong arms. But then she remembered how long he's been ignoring her. She's not sure if this Albert was the same as the Albert who used to live with her. Her heart froze instantly with disappointment. So instead she said, "Father, how do you do?"
He stood unmoved feeling heartbroken hearing her cold greeting. In the past she used to give the brightest smile and ran into his arms. He really wanted to tell her everything about the letters but he saw a man who was standing behind her which more likely was her potential fiance so instead he answered coolly, "I am fine, Candy, thanks. How are you doing? And this is?"
"This is Arnold" and she turned to tell Arnold, "This is my father."
He's really disappointed to hear her kept calling him father. It made him sad. He shook hands politely with Arnold. They exchanged courtesy greetings briefly to each other. Arnold was looking at him thinking that he certainly looked much younger than what he thought. Probably even younger than him. Sure Sir William was famous, but he never saw him in person. And the title of "uncle" and "father" didn't really fit with the young man who's standing in front of him. He never thought that Candy's father was this young.
"Candy, could I talk to you for a minute, privately." He emphasized the word "privately". He could sense that Arnold was looking at him but he just ignored him instead kept looking straight to Candy's eyes.
"Sure" and she told Arnold to excuse them. Arnold went outside and both of them talked.
"Candy, I did write and reply to all your letters. If you never received my letters that's because your letters never reached me or my letters got returned to sender." He explained to her what happened and showed her the stack of letters in his hand. He gave all to her. "This might not matter anymore, but in case you'd like to read my responses to all your letters, they all are here."
He paused before saying. "If that makes you happy, you have all my blessing to marry him. Have a good day, Candy."
Candy almost screamed in disbelief with his explanation. She really wanted to chase him and to hug him but Arnold came. Albert nodded to him, excused himself and left.
On his way out from the hospital, Albert couldn't escape the sharp eyes of Dr. Leonard. He recognized him and invited him to come to the ball tonight in the hospital to celebrate the anniversary of the Anthony Brown hospital. Having his brain emotionally occupied, he couldn't think of anything else but to say yes and agreed to come.
Before going to the ball, Candy read Albert's letters and touched by so many things that he wrote, for example,
"I scored a big success in the meeting today. This is one of the biggest deal I have got so far"
"Today I got your letter, I right away went outside and climb a tree to read it so no one could interrupt me"
"I am busy today and very tired. In the past we used to take a walk in the park which helped to refresh my energy"
"How are you doing these days? It's been a while that I don't get your letter"
"Happy birthday Candy. I wonder what you do on the party tonight"
And so on� She almost cried touched by his care. She never knew how much he had her in his heart. She felt guilty for going out with another man. Arnold was a lovely man, he's very nice and kind, but nothing could beat her love to her prince.
At the ball, a special honor was given to Sir William as the hospital was built from the Ardlay foundation funding. Albert was the major campaigner for the fund which he provided in memory of his nephew, Anthony Brown. He came alone with no date, which Candy noticed. She could feel the shift of attention to this stunning young man as he entered the hallway especially by young women. Not only young and wealthy, but also his handsome face was a stunner which took breadth away. She wanted to run to him, too. How much she missed him. Especially after reading his letters, now she understood the problems. During the ball, he's treated with so much respect by everyone. Although he came alone, a dashing man like him of course had no difficulty to find someone to dance with. But silently he kept looking for Candy. He found her dancing with Arnold which seemed to never end. After a while, he cut him off to get his turn with Candy.
"Did you read my letters?" he asked right to the point while dancing.
"I did. Albert. I was very happy. I didn't know�" She was so speechless and almost cried. She really wanted to hug him but she knew Arnold was watching them.
Seeing her awkwardness, he said, "Shh, that's ok. You don't need to say anything. I am happy you read them." His heart was happy that things got straightened out. He rally wanted to pull her and to hug her in his arms like in the past, but again he's not sure about her situation with Arnold. Besides being the most important person in the ball, he's aware that all eyes were at him. He really didn't want to make a scandal in the hospital which he funded. So, both kept dancing in silence, staring one another with all glows of love. Her heart beat faster and faster, very happy that she's in the arms of the love of her life. His sharp blue eyes which looked tenderly delight her heart to the full. His warm hands gave so much safety and comfort. She indulged herself in the scent of his cologne which emanates the smell of love. Unconsciously, they got closer and closer to each other. They both immersed in each other deeper and deeper forgetting anything surrounds them. He almost jumped in surprise when Arnold tapped his shoulder to cut in and request to dance with Candy.
Poor Arnold of course was not stupid. He knew something was going on between Candy and her father. Candy never looked that way to him. Candy never danced like that to him. Although Albert was very courteous and didn't even hug her, he could see that their hearts were one, glued and touched to one another. He decided to seek some explanation from her when he took her home tonight.
"Candy, did your father reject our marriage?" he said.
"He didn't say that." She said. He moved closer to her, but unlike before, Candy pulled herself farther from him. He noticed that.
"Candy, there's something that you haven't told me. Who exactly is Sir William to you?" he inquired.
Then Candy told him the story about the letters and so on. "Arnold, I am sorry, but I had had interest in him before I met you. But he was silent for a long time, I thought he forgot me. I didn't know that it's because his letters never reached me. I didn't know that he never got my letters. I thought he left me, that's why I was going to a new relationship with you."
Arnold was an understanding man. He understood the problem besides who was he to compete against the hottest bachelor in the nation, he thought to himself. Candy returned his ring back to him. He looked at it sadly and thought to himself, "This ring which broke my bank will be just like a toy for him." But in a minute he regained his composure. He kissed her in the forehead and bid goodbye. "We're friends, right?"
Candy appreciated his understanding and answered, "Thank you. You are the most wonderful friend I have. You're with me trough the difficult time. Yes, we are. Thanks for your friendship." He left.
Candy was thinking about what to do next. She determined to tell Albert about her feeling. But, since the night was already very late, Candy waited until the following day to meet Albert. She fell asleep and woke up late. She hurriedly went to his office, couldn't wait to tell him the news. His secretary announced her presence. She found him working on his desk looking sharp as usual in his dark suite. Seeing her coming, he stood up right away to greet her. After closing the door behind her, Candy told him right away, "I already told Arnold, it's not him whom I love."
Albert stared at her surprised with the unexpected news. She was about to continue telling him about her feeling when the secretary knocked at the door announcing scheduled meetings he had on hands.
"Tell them I am not available right now," said Albert. "Also, I don't want to be interrupted with anything for whatever reasons right now. I'll let you know when I am available." The secretary acknowledged and left. Candy saw how different he was from the past. He seemed not only to have authority but the strength to use it. Back then, he just followed whatever George told him to do.
Candy continued. "I also returned his ring back to him." She showed him her finger which had no ring anymore in it. Albert saw it and nodded, speechless.
"Albert, I have something to tell you." She said nervously. She could hear her voice trembling. "If by saying this it might mean that I'd lose you forever, if by saying this you might turn to hate me and turn your back on me forever, I'd still say it because I can't keep this secret to myself anymore. I love you, Albert. The man whom I really love is actually you."
Candy waited for his reaction and to her relieved he opened his arms and she just ran into them.
"Candy, I love you. It's my fault that I didn't tell you earlier." He hugged her tightly. Candy noticed that although he was smiling, his face didn't look like smiling. It seemed something troubled his heart.
In fact, Albert was happy that he could tell her about his love. But what troubled him was that he wasn't sure if it's the best thing for her considering the complication that came by being with him.
"Things moved so fast since I became Sir William. I felt overwhelmed by my new responsibilities. I was confused and didn't know what to do to our relationship. I couldn't decide what's the best for us. Even though I had wanted to tell you that I love you for a long time, I still couldn't decide if I should. I wonder if you could accept the sudden change in me not to mention the duties and obligations one needs to perform by being in Sir William's close inner circle. I wish I could just be an Albert." He looked so down and Candy felt so sorry for him.
"How come you didn't tell me this?" She said. "I thought we promised to share our problems together."
"Because this problem is complicated. I can't even do as I will. I fall right into the system and I have to follow the flow regardless I want it or not. I am afraid to drag you into it. I wonder if you could be happy living like that." He said gently as though begging for her understanding.
"If this what it takes in order for me to be with you, then I am willing to take the risk. Because I know for sure that I can't live without you." She replied softly.
Albert was so touched on her total submission to him. "Do you really mean it? "
"Yes, I do." She said with confidence. "I am not a little girl anymore. Don't worry too much about me. I can face challenges."
"You don't mind being dragged by Aunt Elroy to manner and etiquette classes, countless of balls and many other boring things?" he asked her with a slight smile but serious tone.
"No. That's nothing compared to live without you." She assured him. "All I care about is to be with the man I love, I will handle the details. With your love, I am not afraid to face anything. But without your love, I won't even want to live." She held his hands firmly showing her resoluteness.
He was silent for a while as if thinking about something. Then, he went to his desk and took a box of ring. "I spent too much time thinking should I do this, or how and when to do this. I have tried to avoid telling you this until someone almost stole you from me. Now let's just do it right here right now." He knelt down on one knee and asked if she's willing to marry him. He opened the box to give her the engagement ring. It was the most exquisite diamond ring she ever saw. But more importantly, she's very happy that he proposed to her. It's him that she truly loved. Her prince since she was little. The most handsome man of all.
"Albert, I love you.I have loved you since you were poor and lost your memory. No, I have loved you since you were a boy as the prince of the hill. But I was never sure that you love me too because you never said it. Now, that you told me all this, I understand your reasons. Thanks for your concern about me. I really appreciate your love." She sobbed in tears. "But you shouldn't feel obligated to propose to me." She cried.
"I've loved you since I lost my memory. I put this ring here since long time ago wondering when the right time to propose to you or should I propose to you. It took me too much time to decide until someone proposed to you first which gave me a wake up call. Yesterday, I thought I lost you and regretted so much that I didn't propose to you earlier. I thought, If I could have redone my life, I would've discussed all my concerns with you and asked if you want to be with me. I guess I get a second chance. It's my honor to propose to you, it's not an obligation. I beg you to please accept it, Candy. I really love you."
Candy nodded with teary eyes as he put the breath-taking diamond ring in her finger. She pulled him to stand up. They looked at one another and she saw him moving closer to her. Their hearts were full of longing and uncertainty until his mouth touched hers to give his first kiss to her. It washed away all their uncertainty and worries. How much they longed for that moment, they felt free and happy immediately as if all burden was washed away from their heart. Their body and soul finally were united with the perfect match. It stretched beyond any boundary and limit. From then on they knew they would be always for one another share their problems and happiness together. They were in love before, but now it's sealed with certainty and trust.
All this was too much for Candy. She said tearfully, "I am so sorry, instead of supporting you I was out with another man. But, I honestly thought you didn't care about me anymore." She sobbed really hard regretting her behavior. She promised herself that she'd give her best to him. She would support him, his work and responsibility and wouldn't be a burden for him like what happened thus far.
"Next time we should use telephone instead of relying on letters." Albert said half joking half serious. He put his arms around her and said, "You can come with me too to my trips. Please believe me, when I am away, I really work, Candy. I don't go out to have fun and definitely not look for a date."
"I understand. This ring will give me so much assurance. It won't happen again in the future. When you are away, I will hold into it and happily wait for you to come back." She smiled happily and threw herself to his arms.
Then, they got married. Candy performed her duties as Mrs. Ardlay very well. Albert was very proud of her. They lived happily ever after.
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