Move Forward

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The continuation of Candy Candy manga story after the prince of the hill revelation. Candy and Albert saga continues...

COMMENT:

I read the manga and watched some of the anime too. But I haven't read the novels at all. I know a bit about the novels by reading the fanfictions from fans all over the world, though :) Based on what I know, this is the way I imagine the continuation of Candy Candy manga story.

It starts where the manga ends… Candy ran towards Albert's arms knowing that he's her Prince of the Hill after all!

-Story Starts Here -

Chapter 1: Prince of the Hill

COMMENT:

I read the manga and watched some of the anime too. But I haven't read the novels at all. Based on what I know, this is the way I imagine the continuation Candy Candy manga story.

It starts where the manga ends… Candy ran towards Albert's arms knowing that he's her Prince of the Hill after all!

-Story Starts Here -

Both of them hugged very tightly. Candy said, "Since when did you know it? How come you didn't tell me?"

Happy on her welcoming reaction Albert felt very relieved and responded, "Knowing how important the Prince of the Hill to you, I didn't know how to bring it up to you."

Albergt kissed Candy on her cheek and said, "Remember when I picked you up the night you were running away from the Neil and got lost? I saw the pendant which I lost years ago. You know that only the first male descendant from Ardley Family has that pendant, don't you?"

"Anthony told me, yes."

Albert continued, "I was going to ask you how you got it. But, if I asked, I am afraid you'd suspect that my memory had come back. While you're sleeping, however, I was thinking about the pendant. Then, I remembered I lost it the day I went to Pony Hill playing bag pipe. Then I remembered that was the same day I met a crying little girl on the hill. Remembering your story about the prince of the hill, I started to think about the connection and surprise surprise... I realized that your Prince of the Hill was me."

He laughed happily, felt relieved that finally he could unload this secret from his heart.

Candy laughed too very happy and still very surprised at the revelation. She couldn't help to stare and examine Albert's complexion. She compared Albert's blue eyes, blonde hair, genuine smile, caring voice to the prince's. Indeed, the handsome cute little prince had transformed to a very handsome man. How come she's so blind. She'd been with him all along. She then suddenly realized that Albert was staring at her too. She felt so shy and abruptly stopped looking and blushed.

At this point, both of them heard someone coughing. It's George.

"Good afternoon, Sir William, Miss Candice," George said. Albert nodded and George continued, "We have a meeting, Sir..."

Albert nodded and replied, "One moment George, I'll be there soon. We'll meet in the car."

Not willing to be interrupted by anyone even if it's George or any important business deals, Albert determined to finish his most important conversation in his life ever. George nodded and left.

Let the meeting wait, let them all wait, whatever they are I don't care, they all must wait, Albert said to himself full of determination.

Albert turned to Candy and continued in a more serious tone, "When you came back to visit me as Uncle William to bring up Neil's engagement issue, I actually was thinking about you. I was so happy to hear your voice. I was so happy that finally we could meet but only to find that I'd lose you again. A few days later you came to tell me that you decided to return to Pony's home. I was panicked and very much afraid to lose you for good."

Albert stopped and took Candy's hands. He held them tightly and looked her straight in the eyes saying, "I am afraid to lose, Candy. I love you. I have loved you since I was amnesic. I love you more and more every day I just can't hide or pretend anymore. I definitely can't live without you."

"Albert, ..," whispered Candy couldn't believe her ears. As though his first revelation about the prince of the hill wasn't enough, came the second surprise. It was too much for her to absorb all these, all she could do was to whisper, "Albert..."

Candy was shocked, happy and excited at the same time. It took her a while to finally respond and said," Albert, I love you too."

"Candy, would you mind visiting me in Chicago often, please?"

Candy was very happy and hugged Albert. "I will! I will," she said.

Then they shared the first kiss. "I had wanted to tell you this for so long, but I was afraid your heart belonged to someone else," said Albert implying Terry but didn't really want to mention the name.

"Albert, even before you left, I had known for sure that I love you. But I wasn't sure what you thought of me. I was very devastated when you left. You know that I didn't even stay in Rockstown or to talk to Terry. I went there because of you. I thought you were there... Finally, I was very happy to meet you again only to find that you're Uncle William. I mean, how could I tell Uncle William that I loved him. I felt so trapped. I really wanted you but on the other hand, you seemed so far away. Every time I saw you, I felt tortured and reminded what I could never have. I couldn't stand that anymore that's why finally I asked your permission to leave and go back to Pony's home."

Albert was listening attentively, he couldn't believe how much he had caused the girl whom he loved so much to suffer.

Then Candy continued with a trembling voice, "I felt so lonely when you left me the first time, but when I left you yesterday to come back alone to Pony's home I was beyond devastated. If you hadn't come here to tell me all this, I don't know what would have happened to me."

Tears started to fall on her cheeks. Albert hugged her even tighter. He was grateful that he had the courage to tell her the truth to help to end her pain.

"Candy, I will never make you feel lonely anymore. I will not let your heart suffer anymore. I am so sorry for what happened, but I am glad that we are together now."

Candy was speechless; all she could do was to nod her head.

"But Albert, I am seriously worried what your family thinks about us. I mean you are a very important person..."

"Sshhh...," replied Albert and put his finger to her lips.

"But seriously how Aunt Elroy would take this? And I am actually your daughter...," whispered Candy.

Albert smiled kindly and hugged her softly. He said, "First, never mention that I am important anymore. You are the most important person to me, without you my world falls apart. I have no direction. I can't work, focus or do anything. Second, leave all those worries to me... Remember without your care when I had amnesia, I might probably die by now. Aunt Elroy is like a mother to me. As long as I am happy, and we follow roughly the family etiquette, she will be fine. I promise. And if you don't like the rules, it's also fine you don't need to follow them. I am sure we can work something out. Remember, I am the head of the family now!" He said with a funny face.

Seeing that, Candy couldn't help to laugh. "Albert...," said Candy almost cried again, "You always have solutions to all my problems. I love you so much..."

Both of them hugged and kissed again until Candy remembered about George, "Your meeting...errr...probably it's late now"

"That's ok, let them wait. The most important meeting is this one, the one that I am having with you," he said tenderly. Both of them sat quietly and chatted a bit more.

Then Albert said, "Would you allow me to leave now, Honey?"

"Yes, but I will miss you so much," Candy almost cried thinking she'll be alone again.

"Don't cry, remember you look prettier when you smile." Both of them kissed again. They hugged then started to walk to the car hand in hand. Seeing that, George understood what just happened.

Albert gave her one more hug and said, "Remember to visit me when I come back. We'll talk more about our plan, I will send someone to pick you up on Friday afternoon, is that ok?"

"I can't wait till then," said Candy. They both said goodbye one more time and Albert left. She felt so lonely as soon as Albert left and started crying really hard to vent off all her emotions. For a while she cried and cried until she couldn't cry anymore. But, she also felt very happy. Looking at Albert's car from the far reminded her of the car he bought in the past that broke down in just a few days. She laughed at that experience and cried at the same time at the memory. A big wall in front of her seemed to collapse now that she told Albert how much she loved her. She felt happy to know that he felt likewise. She tidied her hair, wiped her tears, washed her face then started to walk home.

In the car, Albert closed his eyes, pretending sleeping to hide his feeling from George's sharp eyes. He couldn't feel happier that he finally had the courage to tell Candy the truth and got the loving response he'd so longed to hear. He couldn't help thinking about the conversation he had with aunt Elroy earlier.

"May I see Mm. Elroy?" inquired Albert to her servant.

"Yes, Sir. She's been waiting for you, please come in."

"Good morning dear Aunt," greeted Albert and kissed her on her cheek.

"Good morning, William, how do you?" replied her aunt. "I want you to meet Caroline tonight," she said abruptly.

Albert raised his eyebrows and thought, "Oh no, not again."

He really respected his aunt considering all she had done to him and the family. He especially felt guilty to cause her the complications when he went missing. He was simply too careless. His parents had repeatedly reminded him of the importance of his role. But back then, he was still too young to fully grasp the meaning. Not until he recovered from his memory loss that finally he understood. His experience to live as an "ordinary" citizen strengthened his understanding. For the Ardleys to finally reach this considerable level, it took the hard work of many generations. Starting from a very humble beginning long long time ago, for generations the Ardley family had grown slowly step by step to achieve it. He almost blew it all up when he went missing. How irresponsible, he thought. At that time, majority of the shareholders already wanted to leave the enterprise. They worried if the public knew that he's missing, the stock would suffer a big blow. Aunt Elroy remained giving a strong opposition. She steadfastly believed William would show up and did as much as she could to delay the breaking down process. Initially through excuses then her refusal to sell her shares, and finally with arguments through various strategies to delay the process. She endured those difficult and stressing moments until finally he showed up. He couldn't help to admire her aunt's intelligence, strength and above all loyalty to his father. Before he's gone, she promised to take care of William and prepared him to be at the enterprise helm. He knew all this from George who told him everything that happened when he's away. Had it not been because of her, generations of family enterprise would have been collapsed. From then on he promised himself to take his responsibility more seriously and treat her aunt better. But, hey, he just couldn't stand this matchmaking thing. Especially now he only had Candy in his heart.

Trying to remain calm to avoid heated arguments Albert simply asked, "Who is she?" He had promised himself to not have anymore fight with his aunt. In addition, she meant well and got older.

"She's the daughter of a very important developer in Florida. His father is very influential and has many connections in the government. Her mother is…" Albert stopped listening. Instead while the aunt was talking, he's thinking how to get out from this conversation without having to fight.

"I have an appointment this evening, Aunt. George had arranged it for a long time," said Albert making up some excuse.

Knowing her nephew well she disregarded his excuse, "You need to cancel it then, William. Sorry about that. But Caroline and his parents will be here and you must attend to greet them for the sake of good relationship with them. Besides, you are also interested in starting your new business in Florida, aren't you?"

"But, I think we agree that I will look for a wife by my own without your interference."

"Sure, but how come at this age you still are not married. Some people need help to find a wife, probably you are one of them," his aunt said bluntly. Albert couldn't believe what he had heard. He's trying so hard to not get irritated. He's so tired of this type of discussion and decided to use the opportunity to bring up the truth to end the discussion once for all.

He said calmly, "Actually I have someone in mind, you know her, her name is Candy."

"What? You want to marry that orphan girl? What does she have that make all my nephews fall for her? I can't believe you also are bewitched by her," she couldn't believe her ears. Then she added slowly, "Is that why you didn't allow her to marry Neil? You wanted to take her for yourself, didn't you?"

Very much trying to remain calm he disregarded her questions, "Aunt, her name is Candy. It's her decision to marry whoever she wants."

"But she's your daughter for crying out lout. What will the media say if you marry your own daughter? The Ardley family is a very respected family that shouldn't fall into this kind of gossip. And what about your future should you want to run for a public office? We shouldn't rule that out!" said Aunt Elroy slowly sharply.

"I will take care of that," Albert answered smoothly. "All I want is only your personal approval."

"You have to meet Caroline tonight. Try to see a real lady. Learn something, have I taught you enough of this? See her manner, her way of talking and more, how can you compare that with Candice? I can't believe it. First it was Anthony, the Cornwall brothers, Neil, and now you too."

Albert was so ready to hit the table in front of him and shouted to her Aunt to shut up like in the past. Back then, both of them would exchange shouts and screamed at the top of their lungs during matchmaking arguments. Their voices rang throughout the mansion for all servants to hear. The tea table in front of her had suffered numerous blows from his fist. Countless times, the door behind him had been slammed hard which echoed loudly throughout the hallways. But, he's a grown up man now, he should use a better approach instead of a blunt force. He should do better than in the past.

"But, I told you many times about how she helped me when I was sick."

"Did she agree with your proposal?" asked aunt Elroy.

"I haven't asked her."

"You want me to believe that you had not proposed to her?," asked her with an inquiring look. Albert was surprised, was it possible that his aunt had suspected his feeling towards Candy all along? But, he chose not to elaborate, he really didn't feel like discussing the "Terry" factor in details with her.

"I am sure she will agree though, all girls would want to marry you so they can be an Ardley," said she a matter-of-factly.

"Aunt, Candy is not just any typical girl," said Albert. Then he sat next to her gently said, "Aunt you are a very important person to me, you are like my mother, without your consent, how could I propose anyone peacefully."

His strategy worked, the sentence hit the mark, calmer, she replied, "Go ask her first then. We'll see what happens." Deep inside, she was grateful by Albert's words. She actually always treated Albert like her own son and grateful that he acknowledged it.

"Thank you, Aunt. So that means if she agreed..."

"But should she decide to be with you, she needs to learn all the family protocols and follow the rules to be an Ardley matriarch. That's un-negotiable."

"I will certainly work into that," Albert came to her aunt and gave her a hug.

"But tonight you need to escort Caroline and her parents. They traveled a long way from Florida to here. We need to welcome them. More importantly, the meeting had been set and it'd have had a negative effect to our Florida bid if you don't meet them. We don't want to ruin it just because of a woman. Besides, treat her as a backup in case Candice rejected you tomorrow. In addition, pay attention: see how high class women behave in case you change your mind before it's too late."

"But you need to promise me to stop this matchmaking business. This would be the last time I come to such a thing. Besides, you'll see later Candy is indeed the perfect one for me."

"Go ask her first. If you can not find a wife by yourself, then I have no option but to do it for you," she continued, unwavered and refused to promise. Albert bid his aunt good bye and left, happy that he was successful not to have any more fight with Aunt Elroy and to finally told her about Candy. Above all, he's relieved with his aunt's attitude towards the matter.

That was yesterday. Now knowing Candy returned his love made him very happy. Revealing the prince of the hill identity did have some advantage in smoothing out the process. He was smiling at that thought. Of course he remembered Candy, the little girl who cried on the hill. He genuinely thought she was cute back then, especially when she smiled. But, like most young boys would do at such a young age, he didn't think much about it. He then went to a school in London, dated some girls, including intelligent girls, gorgeous models, and adventurous nurses in Africa... But really none of them captured his heart as much as Candy. He felt grateful that he was amnesic so he could have a much more objective perspective about her.

Then he said to George, "I want to annul Candy's adoption immediately."

Understood where the situation went George replied with a quick smile,"Will be done, Sir. Should we mention she's an independent woman that has her own income as the reason?" Albert approved and felt so grateful there's a super efficient George who's always readily available.

The media covered adoption annulment for a few days. But since no one added more gossips to it, after a while it died out. In the meantime, Aunt Elroy prepared Candy to be an Ardley with training after training every day. Candy also worked part time as a nurse with Dr. Martin and spent the weekend in the Pony's home if Albert wasn't around. Albert was busy as usual. He went to business trip often, Candy tried to make her busy too so time could fly faster for Albert to come back. Candy enjoyed her new life so much, she also started to build a good relation with aunt Elroy.

- TO be continued -

Note:

In manga, Anthony saw the pendant and told Candy the significant meaning of it


Chapter 2: Pony's Home

Albert won the new business in Florida. He worked very hard for it so he felt so energized and excited. It's his first major project since he's formally known as "Sir William". He's very proud of it. Like having a second chance, after recovering from his memory loss, he's more determined than ever to be a worthy descendant of the Ardley. On one Friday morning just after the press conference for that project, he was getting ready to host a lunch meeting to officials, executives, reporters, and more. To his surprise the first person who greeted him was his cousin.

"Hello Sarah, would you care to join for lunch?" said he cordially.

"Congratulations on your engagement to Candy, William," said Sarah coldly with narrowed eyes ignoring his offer. "No wonder you objected Neil's proposal to her," she said cynically.

Refusing to talk more about personal matters Albert chose to ignore her, "The Ardleys has a new opportunity in Florida. Something that Neil might want to look at instead of going to war. He can start by going to business school and does internship in that company at the same time to see if he has a future interest."

"You want to get rid of us, uh, William?" Sarah said in a very irritating tone.

Albert stayed calmed and said coolly, "Archie will go to business school too," hinting that Neil wasn't the only nephew who would leave Chicago to study.

"I am sure you are aware that the Florida opportunity is real, right Sarah? You were there throughout the press conference," continued Albert with commanding tone looked straight at her eyes as though telling her to stop talking nonsense. "Should Neil have an interest, he can have it. The choice is yours."

Albert finished the sentence with a gesture that asked her to leave unless there's more important matter to discuss. Understood the gesture, without saying anymore words, Sarah left - much to his relieved.

Albert really hated cold wars like what he just had with Sarah. Exchanging nerve wracking comments with unreadable face really required special energy. His skill definitely improved a lot as he needed to do it again and again on daily basis, but it didn't mean something that he enjoyed to do. But as a patriarch and a prominent business man it's his responsibility to try to work together with everyone be it family, friends, or foes.

"I hope one day I'll get used to this more," sighed him and prepared to join others for lunch. He's very happy that the weekend finally arrived and that he'd see Candy soon.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Meanwhile in Pony's Home:

While Albert was in the business trip, if not attending training with Aunt Elroy, Candy often went home to the Pony's home to see her mothers. She helped to take care of the children and other things. Besides, Pony hill was such a lovely place that helped to re-energize her mentally. It's the place where she met her Prince. Ms. Pony and Sister Lane always welcomed her with big hugs.

That day, Sr. Lane and Ms. Pony looked different and gloomy. Couldn't hide her curiosity, Candy asked what happened.

"Rent price keeps going up, expenses go up, Dear. The number of adopted children this year is much lower than the number of incoming children. In addition, I and sister Lane grow older, we can't plant vegetables or raise chickens like in the past."

"A construction company offered to buy our property. But that would mean, we need to close our adoption center and move the chidren somewhere else," continued Sister Lane.

To close the center? thought Candy. Poor children. Besides, Pony's hill is such a lovely place. It's a great place for kids to grow. There's a forest, little rivers to play and far away from disturbance of big cities.

The problem seemed to be very serious. She couldn't wait to see Albert to ask for his opinion. I am sure he will have some solution and solve it easily, she thought and smiled to herself.

-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0

Back to Albert:

On that same Friday, Albert just finished his late afternoon meeting. He took and read his usual daily report when something caught his attention, "What? Land outside Chicago, where Pony Hill is, is sold?" he almost read it loudly.

When George came in, he saw Albert was reading that article and commented, "The buyer is a construction company who wants to build a commercial area in the land where Pony's home is."

This can't be,Albert thought. Candy might not like it and they have such a precious memory in Pony's Hill.

"Do you know something else, George?"

"Sir, the name sounds familiar to me, so I checked. The owner's name is Mr. Timothy Boyd. He was years younger than your father's. If I remember correctly, he and your father didn't have a good term in the past."

"Contact him, ask him if we can meet on Monday. In the meantime I want to study more about this case. Can you check if you have other information?"

"I'll check more. Please note that your father never had friendly term with them, Sir."

"I notice this won't be an easy ride. Thanks George." George nodded and left to make the appointment.

Later that evening, after finishing his work, Albert went straight to visit Candy in her apartment. Candy was excited to see him.

"How are you doing, Love?" he said as Candy ran to his arms. Candy couldn't stop telling him all the excitements of the manner classes she took. Seeing how much she enjoyed that, he couldn't help thanking aunt Elroy.

"After my parents passed away, aunt Elroy was literally the one who took care of me and Rosemary. The way I am now mostly are all due to her care. Although she seems to be stiff, she always does things for the best of the family. When my father passed away and when I was missing, it's her who made sure the family was united. She has endured so many hardship for the sake of the family."

"I can imagine that. She also seems to love her nieces and nephews a lot too. The way she was devastated when Anthony and Stear passed away really shows that."

"However, If you don't like any part of the training, you should let me know though," said Albert with an air of authority. "Regardless, I am the current head of the family," he said while smiling at Candy.

Although Albert respected her aunt, if needed he could also go against her like during the engagement party where he confronted her. Candy was fully aware of that. She's grateful on how he always made her feel important and special by his caring and support. He always made her feel so safe. She smiled and put her head on his shoulder while assured him that the training was indeed fine. She also got to know Aunt Elroy better.

"I told her our experience when you lost your memory," said Candy laughing. She told Albert how excited aunt Elroy was with the story. They were laughing about it.

Although all seemed moving along smoothly, Albert was concerned that Candy wouldn't be happy if all she did was to be a socialite puppet. Sure all was fun now because it's a new thing for her. After a while, he's afraid she would get bored, especially that he's on business trips very often. When he brought up the idea, she replied, "As usual, you always can read my mind. Albert, if it's ok with you, can I go back to school?"

"That's fantastic, I love the idea," said Albert excitedly. "In fact, I just talked to Archie. He will go to graduate school in Harvard. Neil probably will go too," said Albert without elaborating the annoying conversation he had with Sarah this morning.

"Yes, Archie told me so. Annie will not go though. She prefers to work with her parents."

"What do you want to study?"

"I plan to know more about health care program. I will go to U. Of Chicago so we can be close together."

"Thanks for putting me into your plan, Candy," said Albert touched. "I hope I don't limit your life though?" inquired him.

"Actually U. Of Chicago has one of the best program in the country. So it's a perfect match..."

The two then enjoyed the rest of the evening together. First they had dinner and then took a walk. Then they went to the mansion. Candy was anxious to bring up the Pony's home problem but was concerned that Albert had enough of his own problems for the day. But the more she tried to wait, the more she got impatient. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't suppress her emotion anymore. Sensing something was wrong, Albert asked if anything bothered her.

"Ms. Pony and Sister Lane can't pay rent, Albert," bursted Candy almost screaming with emotion like a dam that couldn't hold more water. "That means, Pony's home will be closed at anytime."

Albert startled but tried to remain calm. His blue eyes looked deeply into her eyes to know if she knew about the land ownership struggle. The land ownership information was confidential and not yet made public. Since she didn't talk about that he assumed she and the mothers didn't know.

"Don't worry," Albert said calmly. "If Ms. Pony and Sister Lane agreed, the Ardley foundation can support the Pony's home trough its charity program."

Candy couldn't hide her happiness. She hugged him and said happily,"You always be my problem solver, Albert. I knew you know what to do."

"Haha," he laughed. "Tomorrow, when you go home, we will take our proposal to them. Hopefully they agree to accept our support. If so, the rest will be easy"

Inside his heart he's determined more than ever to take care of the land problem on Monday. Although feeling a little bit guilty (remembering the sandwich agreement 1), he decided not to tell the problem to Candy until Monday meeting in order not to worry them too much. Besides, he was confident he would find a good solution for them. In addition, it's not entirely lies since it's a surprise gift for her too.I will buy her the Pony Hill, thought Albert excitedly.

"But tomorrow is Saturday," said Candy.

"We take George to do the paperwork and have it all done on Monday. I will go with you too." Albert planned to get the paperwork ready so he could take it with him on Monday to finish the negotiation. In his heart he promised himself to not do anything behind Candy's back anymore in the future.

In the car, Albert asked Candy if Pony's home problem was the one that made her agitated yesterday. Candy nodded.

"Then why didn't you tell me earlier?" he asked softly while holding her hands.

"You were already very busy and tired by your work, I didn't want to add more to it."

Albert assured her, "Remember when we shared half of the sandwich? At that time we agreed to share our problems, right? Never hesitate to bring things up to me, Love. Anything at anytime. You are the most important thing to me."

Candy promised him and hugged him thinking how happy she was to be with her kind and reliable prince thinking to herself, What would I be without him, I love him so much.

To Candy and Albert's relieved, Ms. Ponny and Sr. Lane happily accepted the proposal. While George worked on the details, Albert took a walk outside with Candy and the kids. They had such a good time. Ms. Ponny and Sr. Lane didn't stop thanking him. After the paperwork was ready, George left although everyone insisted him staying over dinner. Being a good man, he knew where his position was. He refused to stay and left to do his work right away. They cooked dinner together and had a wonderful evening... The following day, Albert and Candy went back to Chicago. After spending a day relaxing in Lakewood, Albert dropped her in her apartment and left. Both of them prepared for Monday's work.

"Sir, I have more information about Mr. Tim," said George as he entered the room with a stack of folder that Sunday night.

Albert stared at him as a sign for him that he's listening.

George continued," He and your father knew one another. Mr. Tim was years younger than your father. At that time they both competed for some big and important construction business, your father won. Tim was very devastated. The project turned out to be a very important turning point for the Ardleys business. It helped to make the enterprise bigger than it had never before. After that, Tim's fortune was surpassed easily by your father."

"Very good, George. I remember vaguely who this person is. I remember dad talked about him," said Albert trying to remember all he could about what his father told him about Tim.

"He was very upset with the loss. I don't see why he shouldn't remain that way to this day, Sir. Here is some more information about his company, if you'd like to take a look," said George handed him the folders.

"Well done George, yes I want to look at it. I will think more what to do tomorrow. That'd be it for today, George. Good night." George nodded and left. Albert was thinking some strategy for the meeting and went to bed too.

On Monday...

"Sir William, nice to meet you." Tim said coldly although he couldn't help secretly looking at him from up to down and noticing his resemblance to his father, a worthy competitor, who left too early.

"Hello Mr. Tim," replied Albert graciously.

"What bring you here?" he said ignoring his friendly gesture.

Undeterred Albert said, "I read that you bought a land outside Chicago and your plan to develop it into a commercial area. Are you are aware that there's an orphanage in that area?"

"Yes, in fact they haven't paid their rent for a few months. I will have them moved. I understand that you are aware that the land price in that area has been moving up steadily," hinting that all his after is money not charity works.

"That orphanage is under Ardley Foundation protection. What can we do to retain the orphanage?" Albert said hinting that he's willing to purchase the land at any cost.

"Well well well Sir William, are you gonna threaten me to buy the land I just purchased for your own use? You can't seem to let go and let me do business alone, can you? If it's protected by the Ardley foundation, why haven't you paid the rents for them and made me do it instead?" Albert understood his point. Still showing emotionless face and voice he continued.

"I am not interested to do any commercial in your property. All I am interested in is just 1% of your total area, the Pony hill and the surrounding area. The orphanage is a recent addition to the Ardley Foundation. We can compensate your cost by paying double the amount you paid for the land."

Tim couldn't help to admire the young man. He looked like a younger version of his past competitor, he had a good control of his emotion. His father would have been very proud to see him.

"Money is not the issue. Be it double or triple," he said slowly and sharply, unyielding. "I want the entire land to eliminate even a slight possibility from your side to interfere with my project." He answered coldly. He too was a master to emotion control. Besides, he's been in the business longer! He couldn't believe the Ardley is threatening and again trying to compete with him. Then was the father, now is the son. He wouldn't surrender, how would he know that they had no hidden plan to do something harmful to his business. To have a side by side business with the Ardley was not a fun thing to do!

Silence fell. Albert thought quickly how to solve the problem gracefully knowing that Tim must have had bad impression on him due to past hatred with his father. He knew it wouldn't easy to make Tim cooperate. He even rejected the money offer! But, Albert definitely wouldn't just surrender he quickly thought of other alternatives that might interest Tim.

"Mr. Tim, we have a new area developed on the South. I will give the project to you if you sell Pony surrounding land to us. In addition, your name will be mentioned as an important contributor to the Ardley Foundation. This is not just about money, it's for a good cause," Albert said slowly and clearly. He used the last strategy he could have thought of. He knew how much Tim wanted to do a big construction project, like the one he lost from his father.

"Will you genuinely use the land for the orphanage instead of business?" Tim reiterated one more time.

"You get my word for it, George can discuss the detail of the terms today or even right now with your team. We will not use the land for things other than Pony's Home and related charity projects and definitely not for business or commercial purposes," said Albert with his finest business tone.

His strategy worked. Tim was happy to get the big project he had been waiting for throughout his life. He stood up and shook Albert's hands, saying, "Your father would have been very proud of you, young man," said he genuinely impressed on Albert's negotiation skill.

Tim insisted on inviting Albert to lunch. Seeing his sincerity, Albert couldn't decline. Throughout the lunch, he told many things about his father that he had never heard before. He told him about their past encounters, and mentioned good things about him. Their competitions were fierce but he always respected the man. Albert was very happy to hear fresh stories about his beloved father and graciously thanked him for the kind words he had about him. In return, Albert invited him to come to his and Candy's engagement party which Tim promised to go.

Albert couldn't wait to tell Candy the good news. He had saved and indirectly bought the Pony Hill, the memorable place where they met for the first time. Like what he had expected, Candy was very excited too. She was shocked beyond words to know that Pony Hill had actually been bought by someone and if it's not because of her prince, the orphanage would have been gone forever. Albert didn't forget to apologize that he hid the story till the end. "It's a surprise gift, Love," he said trying to reason with a reasonable excuse with her. Candy accepted the excuse but she also reminded him about the sandwich agreement and asked him to promise not to hide problems from each other anymore for next time, which Albert obliged. Candy went home as soon as she's done with her Ardley training and Albert was away on his business trip again. She shared the story to her mothers who couldn't stop thanking Albert. They, too, didn't know that the problem was deeper than not paying monthly rents. The land had actually been sold and bought by someone else and the orphanage would have been closed at any day had it not been Albert's interference. They were very happy that they could continue taking care of the orphanage and the kids as before.

That night Candy was thinking of his prince. She recalled the time when she was worried about the Pony's home and now realized that actually Albert worried too but she just couldn't read that from his face. While he observed her worry and asked her what the problem was, she didn't pay him enough attention to observe his. She was so ashamed to be so self centered and promised herself to pay more attention to Albert in the future.

Poor Albert, he's always so ready to help me and solves my problems, but I never did that to him, she thought. She said good night to her prince softly and went to bed.

- To be Continued -

Note:

Sandwich agreement: In the manga, Albert took Candy out by only bringing one sandwich so they need to share it for lunch. Albert meant to tell Candy, to share whatever news she had, be it a happy one or a sad one.

1. Albert was violating the agreement, because he didn't tell Candy the problem that bothered him: the Pony's hill actually had been sold.


Chapter 3: Old Friends

All went well until the engagement party. Albert and Candy were engaged now. They couldn't be happier.

Archie was happy to see Candy all glowing with happiness. How elegant and lady like she became. Her manner, her style, her dress and everything. Aunt Elroy indeed did a great job in transforming her. It's a far outcry to when he saw her the first time. Now she's William Ardley's fiance, one of the richest and powerful men in America. When she did the first dance with Albert, he just couldn't take his eyes off her until Annie's voice startled him. Annie knew he liked Candy. Although Candy was her best friend, it couldn't stop her from feeling sad. However, she's very happy to see Candy and Albert together. How lucky she was to have someone looking at her with so much love as Albert did. How much she wanted Archie to love her too.

"You will go to Harvard tomorrow," she said.

"Yes," Archie said shortly. Speechless from the surprise that cut his thought. Somehow he just couldn't forget Candy. Now Candy was definitely taken, but he just couldn't keep himself from being disappointed.

"Would you want to dance with me?" said Archie politely. Throughout the dance, Annie tried so hard not to cry. She really wanted to tell Archie how much she loved him and that she would wait for him to come back. But, Archie didn't seem to care, his mind was too full of Candy. She remembered how much in the past they, with Stear and Anthony, all played together with joy. Too bad all ended too soon. And now the gap between her and Archie got wider by the minute. All happy times passed what remained just memory, Annie thought.

While Albert was busy entertaining his guests, Candy busied herself with friends she knew. They had made a deal not to push Candy to meet guests. The previous night Albert said, "Tomorrow, let's come to meet people with me, Honey. It is our engagement day." Candy laughed and replied, "Don't worry, love. I'd rather be with people I know rather than meeting those who I never met and pretending to enjoy it. Go, help yourself with your guests. I am sure they can't wait to meet you." "As you wish, my dear." was Albert's response, deeply understood her feeling.

During the intermission, Archie came to congratulate Candy. She couldn't help to ask, "How's Annie?" Archie tried to avoid the topic and answered, "She's doing fine. I will go to Harvard tomorrow. I heard that you will start in U. Of Chicago soon?" At this point Annie came to join the conversation. Looking at her face, Candy knew exactly what she had in mind. Archie tried to avoid the encounter excused himself and left.

"The person he loves is you, Candy not me," sighed Annie.

"But Annie, you know that's not realistic. He is never anything but a brother to me. Come on, today is even my engagement day! With Albert not him!" for a second Candy forgot to be a lady and couldn't help to raise her voice slightly.

"Everyone loves you, Candy. You have a great personality, not like me. Stear told me that he, Anthony, and Archie were so over you in the past"

"Come one, Annie," stopped Candy. "Look, in the past all I thought about was Terry. I even traveled a long way to NY to see him, while Albert, the man whom I was with everyday, the one who did everything for me, I ignored. I am sure one day, Archie will realize his mistake too." With this Candy hugged her best friend. Annie couldn't help but to smile, feeling gratitude for the encouragement and returned her hug.

"I am happy for you Candy. Too bad Archie..."

Candy gave her a hug and said, "Don't worry. One year will pass quickly, next year he will come back, also, the Christmas."

"I wonder if he still remembers me then. He's going to school and will meet lots of friends, you know what I mean..."

"You will work too, Annie. You will get to know lots of friends. I will introduce you to many gorgeous young men too, I'm sure Albert knows a lot of qualified..."

"Thanks Candy," cut Annie.

Candy said assuringly, "Don't give up my friend. There's still a long way to go."

"Done about me, congratulations again to you, Candy," Annie said and hugged Candy again. "Hey... What do you think of Patty? What if we introduce her to someone," chuckled Annie.

"Absolutely! Actually, I am thinking of Tom. We know him since we're very young and he's very good. In addition, Patty will go to school to study about agriculture. Don't you think they make a good match? Tom is a farmer, you know," answered Candy.

"This July 4th, let's arrange a barbeque in Tom's place. We all go and we take Patty with us. How's that?"

"Can't be better, Annie. We all like Tom. Let's hope Patty will too!" They both laughed happily and looked for Patty to tell them about their plan.

Archie couldn't help to be excited when he arrived in Harvard. He studied hard but being a rich young bachelor in a prestigious school, he couldn't help to have fun too with all new friends he had. He got to know so many friends, male and female and had wonderful time, partying, traveling, in addition to studying together. He really enjoyed his time there and felt over the moon with his new friends. Without long he had a string of girls dating him. With a hard feeling he went home for Christmas and summer holiday - just for the sake of family duty. Needless to say, he tried to avoid Annie.

Back in Harvard as a second year student, all what seemed very bright and fun started to wane. He was still studious if not more, but after a while, he started to feel let down by his dates. They seemed faked and were interested only in his name as one connected from the Ardley family. Soon he felt lonely. One by one his friends started to have steady relationships while he started to be disinterested to them other than for professional friendship. At the lowest moment, Annie's face started to appear in his mind. Funny, he thought, it's not Candy that he missed. Annie had been gentle, beautiful, and genuinely caring for him. "I wonder what she's doing now. I couldn't believe I didn't even visit her this past year. What have I done? What if it's too late? Should I write her a letter?" he mused. To avoid miscommunication, he decided not to write a letter instead he would visit her in the thanksgiving holiday. He couldn't wait for the day to get back to Chicago to look for Annie. He studied even harder and determined to be a successful person instead of a spoiled partying boy.

Finally, thanksgiving holiday arrived. Archie took the earliest train back to Chicago. He arrived just in time for the dinner hosted by Albert and Candy. Two of them were such an ideal hosts. Candy was beautiful and even more polished than the last time he saw her. Together, they greeted guests and family members cordially and really made everyone felt welcome.

"How is your study, Archie?" asked Albert and gave him a hug. "Fine, I am sure you saw my transcript, aren't you, Uncle William?" teased Archie.

Albert laughed and said, "That's true, congratulations on all A's for the midterms. Good nephew," teased him back. Then he added, "You are not bringing any date tonight?" and gave a meaningful gaze to Candy.

Knowing his reputation in Harvard, Candy was also surprised to see him coming alone. Archie didn't answer but just gave an inquiring gaze to Candy. Seeing that, Candy understood that he's inquiring Annie.

Candy hurriedly hugged Archie and said, "Welcome home. You look wonderful."

A string of guests came and took away Albert leaving Candy and Archie alone much to their reliefs.

Archie asked Candy directly, "Where is Annie?" Candy pointed to a direction where Annie was.

He couldn't believe what he saw, she turned to be such a beautiful woman.

How she changes, murmured him to himself. But, wait a minute, who is that next to her? Oh My Lord, am I too late? His heart almost dropped seeing a gentleman standing next to her.

"Go after her," urged Candy, "It's not too late yet."

"Who is he?" asked Archie.

"Go ask her yourself. Annie has been busy doing family business these days and meet so many new acquaintances. He might be just one of them," said Candy.

Determined to find the answer, he walked straight to Annie. Annie couldn't believe her eyes, one year more later, finally she met Archie again.

"Annie, how are you doing? Who is this lucky gentleman?"

"Hi Archie, this is Steve. Steve this is Archie."

"How are you doing Steve?" said Archie with a sharp look that could melt ice. Then finally, he said politely, " Well... I won't interrupt you two, the meal will be served soon. I go to my seat first."

Throughout the meal, Archie couldn't help stealing to see what Annie and Steve were doing together. To him, Steve seemed to be too nice to Annie. He couldn't wait for the dinner to be over so he could talk to Annie privately. But, since he hadn't been at home for a few months, there seemed to be no time to talk to Annie alone. Almost all family members came to ask how he's doing. There's Neil to greet, aunt Elroy, George, and more. Patty and Tom were there too and they looked more and more like a couple. Worse, Steve took Annie home. But, Archie didn't give up. In the morning, he went to look for Annie at her home.

The servant recognizing Archie invited him to come in which he replied, "No thank you. It's too early. I don't want to disturb aunt and uncle. Is Annie up yet?"

"She is, Mr. Archie, I'll tell Ms. Annie that you are here."

"Could you tell her that I wait for her outside then?"

"Sure, Mr. Archie. One moment."

Archie waited for Annie. While waiting, he kept repeating and practicing the lines he would tell her. He kept giving himself encouragement to boost his own confidence too. Smelling a soft perfume, he knew it's Annie, he turned his head, and found his goddess right in front of him. Suddenly, he forgot all the lines he's been memorizing.

Trying to remain cool Candy kissed her hand politely and said, "Annie... You look very beautiful."

"Thanks Archie, likewise. It's been a while, how do you do? Last year you didn't come home for the thanksgiving holiday, did you?"

Archie bit his lips knowing how a fool he was. Last year, he was partying and enjoying life with his friends. How could he even not come home at all to meet her.

Archie hurriedly answered, "Ah right! I was new at Harvard. So it was kind of fun. I wanted to explore more my new life as a student, you know, so I was reluctant to come home. What about you and your work?"

Both of them walked together amid birds singing in the background to welcome the morning day.

"I have been working with mom and dad. It was hard in the beginning, after a while it's great. I start to know people and build business relations."

Archie thought to himself, And what about Steve?

But Annie didn't talk about him, so he tried not to ask that directly yet. Instead, they keep walking and sharing what their life was for the past one year. Many times Archie secretly looked to see and admire Annie's beautiful face. Archie couldn't stop thinking how transformed she became. She's not a little girl anymore. She's much less shy, more confident, and definitely more beautiful. Her dress, make up, appearance and style really were more striking. She's a grown up woman now. But above all, he felt very happy to meet an "old friend", someone who had been sincere and genuinely nice to him. Someone that he felt he could talk to about anything. Someone who came to him not because he had a close relation with the Ardley. He felt like coming home and in peace around her.

Finally he decided to tell her the reason of his visit.

"First time I came to Harvard, all seemed to be fun. I made so many new friends. Especially MIT and Harvard are very closed, we kept coming to one school or the other to have fun or party. It was great. I studied hard too, but I also had fun partying."

His pace went slower, his tone also got softer.

"I went out every time with different dates. Many girls came to me, I thought it was fun. But soon I realized they were interested only in my status. We could only talk about superficial stuffs especially boring socialite topic, I just couldn't connect and talked freely like when we were together. After a while, I realized how a fool I was to take you for granted. I wonder if it's too late, Annie. I mean… You and Steve?"

Annie couldn't believe her ears. She stopped walking but continued looking down. Slowly she lifted her head only to meet Archie's eyes.

"Are you still available?" Archie asked. "I was blind, but now I see. I was a fool, I hope it's not too late to tell you that I love you," he whispered softly.

"When you went to Harvard and disappeared for so long, I felt very very sad, but I had done all I could to show you how much I wanted you. Steve is a very good friend, but I love no one else but you. I had been waiting for you and will keep waiting forever if needed."

With that they shared a kiss... Archie promised Annie he'd come home for Christmas. Then, Annie would visit him during the mid term holiday and Archie's graduation too in the summer.

EPILOGUE

Albert and Candy got married! They had a long and happy life together with children. Archie and Annie also got married and had children. They too had a long and happy life together.

In addition...

In 1929 all businesses went down due to world economy crisis. Albert and Candy went to England to solidify the business in Europe. Archie became Albert's second hand person and took care of the business in the USA while he and his family were in Europe. Neil led the South America's business. His residence was in Florida. Albert and family came back to the USA five years later. Albert tried various other new opportunities for the enterprise to grow more powerfully. He decided to enter technology sectors such as the aviation and early computing industry. The investment turned out to be a perfect one, the business bounced back to the new height in 1940's driven by this new line of business. Ardley research and development centers worldwide attract the brightest scientists of the generations and became worldwide leaders in the sectors. Later on, probably because it's in his blood, like some of his ancestors Albert ran for a public office, something that was predicted and prepared by dear Aunt Elroy long ago. Of course, his past with Candy was heavily mentioned in the tabloid across the country. Forever stood by him, rather than having people to speculate, Candy wrote a book about her fairy tale relationship with Albert. Needless to say, it became a best selling book.

Tom and Patty got married too and had kids. Patty graduated with a degree in agriculture. Both she and Tom pioneered one of the first modern farms in the USA.

Terry and Susanna became very well known Hollywood actors. Being his first love, Candy always held a special spot in his heart. But, like many other Hollywood actors, Terry then had a string of superstar and supermodel lovers later on. He won a couple of academy awards and many accolades. Susanna didn't let her legs slowed her down. She participated in early research for prosthetic limbs. She became a well known activist that appeared regularly in the news and tabloid. Her dates included a billionaire and a famous singer. Terry never stopped supporting her and be there for her. Both of them remained in good terms, always.

Eliza opened a business like no other Audrey did before: fashion model designer. She worked very hard to make it successful. She met Terry and Susanna often especially during academy award ceremonies and were in good terms with them. Susanna, in fact, wore many of her creations to many celebrity ceremonies.

Now that they all were grown up men and women, Eliza and Neil kept good terms with Candy. They apologized to Candy for what they did to her in the past which Candy accepted with big laugh and hugs, "Don't worry about it. We're kids and teenagers!" she said with a big heart. Other than that, they just laughed off the past incidents. Back then it hurt, but time erased the pain. Candy also wore many of Eliza's design. Eliza also personally designed Candy and Abert's daughters' wedding gowns! The success was immense. The styles were literally copied and copied by many designers after that.

Un-erasable pains that remained were Anthony and Stear's death. They passed away way too early. The memory was still too painful to everyone. Albert named after them many charity works and business done by the Ardleys. The famous ones being "Stear" for the airline model of Ardley's aviation industry and "Anthony Brown" for the hospital he donated to Dr. Martin.

Their life became more and more exciting everyday. But that's for next time story...

- THE END -

Note:

In the manga, it's illustrated how Archie still has a feeling towards Candy and Annie notices it. Because of that, I wrote some about them here.

Patty: Well, Stear is gone. It's sad she's all alone. That's why I matched her with Tom.

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