Timeless Journey

Please read here https://www.fanfiction.net/~kellyelin. It's more updated. Thank you.

"Candy Candy" Manga is written by Kyoko Mizuki, Yumiko Igarashi

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This story happened before Albert was known as Sir William. It happened after Terry left Candy for Susanna. The rest is based very loosely from the manga.

-00-Chapter 1 -- 00

Story starts here...

One day in Chicago, Spring of 1918...

"You should do a better job than this, Neal," his father said angrily to him. "This is a very important client meeting. Yesterday you forgot to attend and today you came late. It's outrageous. You gave a very bad image to this enterprise! They might withdraw their deal because of your irresponsible behavior!"

Neal was just standing silently with his head bent down very scared to face his father.

"He's still young," defended Sarah, his mother.

"Your son is young and useless," said his father. He then shouted at Neal again. "In the past, my father would have beaten me if I had behaved like this. Your mom spoiled you too much, you are so good for nothing."

"Me? What about you? Did you even bother to educate him?" his mother shouted back at her husband.

"Fine, I'll do it. I'll beat him up now," said his father and moved to hit Neal.

"Mom," said Neal. He was so scared and hid behind his mother.

"You are so hopeless. Your grandpa, Neal Leagan, built this enterprise out of nothing. Where should I hide my face if all this got ruined and destroyed by my son who's carrying his name? We name you Neal Leagan after my father hoping you become a worthy man carrying his name not to trash his name," Neal's father's face got red with anger. "Get out! I think how to deal with you later."

"You always say you are busy as an excuse. You never actually do any effort to educate him," said Neal's mother, Sarah

"He's too hopeless to deal with. It's wasting my time, even a lifetime of effort wouldn't make a noticeable improvement on him," Neal's father said angrily. He hurriedly went outside to meet his angry clients.

Irritated, Neal went outside. He hated being treated harshly. He hated clients, he believed people should serve him not the other way round. He hated people shouting at him. He felt so furious and wandered aimlessly by himself when suddenly he saw Candy. It bothered him to see her walking with a big smile on her face. It's time to make her feel equally as miserable as he was.

Candy was always a cheerful girl. She was on the way to meet Archie, Stear, and their girls. They would visit the Pony's home together to celebrate one child's birthday. She felt very happy and excited. She was thinking all these wonderful things when she felt someone pull her hair. She turned around and saw Neal.

"Are you alone, Candy? Where are others?" Neal gave a wicked smile.

"Don't come near me, what do you want? No one wants to be with you!" said Candy in disgust.

Neal sniffed. "Trying to be rude and annoying, Pony girl?"

"No one can beat you in that!" answered Candy back with a hatred smile.

Neal tried to pull her other bun and Candy slapped his arm.

"Ooh! I am scared," he said obnoxiously.

"Go away from me, you dumb."

He laughed and tried to keep pulling her hair. Candy was annoyed and decided to run to the gate to meet the boys who would come to pick her up. She wished they were already there to protect her from Neal. She knew that Neal was afraid of Archie.

Neal ran after her and started to pull her hair obnoxiously.

"Go away!" shouted Candy. She tried to run as fast as she could and started to cry worried what awful things he'd do next.

Neal was very happy to make her miserable. It's so fun to make fun of Candy. Suddenly to Candy's relief, Archie appeared. Seeing him, Neal stopped chasing her.

"Coward, if you want, face me and leave her alone!" barked Archie. Candy hid behind Archie and sticked her tongue to Neal.

Neal got scared to see Archie who came to back Candy. He avoided looking at Archie's eyes and ran away. He heard Candy laugh at him from the far.

Neal felt even more annoyed. As usual Candy got some back up. He was thinking of an even dirtier scheme. He would make sure there's no Archie or Stear around. He was thinking how to do it and got an idea. He would allure her to a middle of nowhere. He'd make her come to one of the Leagans' empty mansion and locked her there. She'd be scared and begged for his mercy. He laughed cunningly, satisfied at his dirty scheme .

I'll say that Terry wants to see her. With that actor's name, I am sure she'll fall to my trap, Neal thought.

The plan was set. Neal asked his driver, James, to pick up Candy and told her that Terry was waiting for her. One night, James came to pick up Candy from the hospital when she got off from work. James told her that he came to take her to see Terry upon his request.

Terry is here, Candy thought excitedly.

She wondered if Terry finally decided to be with her instead of Susanna. What a happy possibility! Candy entered the car with a high hope. The car moved and went deeper and deeper into the darkness. She found it weird that Terry would meet her in the middle of nowhere. Finally, to her relieved, the car stopped. She entered the empty mansion as planned by Neal. Neal was already inside waiting for her. He's ready to execute his wicked plan.

"Mr. Leagan, Ms. Candy is here," said James to notify his master about her presence. Neal dismissed him.

"Terry?" Neal heard Candy's voice.

To her surprised, she saw Neal instead of Terry. She's a bit frightened considering it's dark outside and in the middle of nowhere. This time she's really alone without Archie, Stear, or Albert around. She felt so stupid to fall to Neal's trap. Why would Terry meet her here? He's in New York. He would have told her first if he had really come to see her in Chicago.

Neal hurriedly ran to the door ready to lock it. Unexpectedly, when he was about to lock the door, he saw a very bright light and suddenly everything went dark. He felt everything around him buzzing and spinning, rotating faster and faster. Then, he felt he's falling to a hole deeper and deeper.

BBBBBBBBBBBBBBZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Finally everything stopped moving, he opened his eyes cautiously. To his surprise, he found himself on a bed in a room of a poor looking house. It's not in the empty mansion as he had been before. His conscience told him that this was his house. He slowly got up from the bed and looked around. Suddenly, the door opened and a woman entered the room. Neal almost screamed in surprise.

"Neal? Are you okay? Is your fever gone?" asked the woman examining his startling face.

"Mother?" said Neal. Although he never met her before, his conscience told him that she's his mother.

Neal saw her going back outside to call for Aaron.

Father? My father is Aaron. Again something within him telling him that.

He looked around to see where he was. It's a small wooden room with decrepit furniture. The walls were made of decaying wooden board. There's a small creaking bed on the side which was his. On the other side of the wall, there's a doorway with a piece of old cloth hanging on it as a divider to the another room. The roof was made of hay. The room was very small, there was not even enough room to swing a cat. There was no flooring. The floor was just some ground soil dirt. He then look at his clothes. Even his clothes was different, he didn't wear his usual suit instead it's some shabby clothes with some holes here and there. His hands were not as clean as they used to be.

This is me in my house! How come I am here? I am supposed to be in that empty mansion with Candy!

There's a wooden table in the center. He walked to the table and saw a newspaper. The printing looked different, the name was unrecognizable. The news looked different too. Accidentally, he saw the date. The year was 1868. He almost fainted realizing what might happen.

1868! Oh, my Lord! Could it be that I went back in time? I became grandfather Neal Leagan when he was a young man!

He remembered his grandpa's name was Neal too and his father's name was Aaron just like what he just heard. Grandpa Neal was poor when he was young. All fit and seemed to explain what happened.

When his mother entered the room again with a man which his conscience told him was his father, Neal was very scared. He leaned on the table and looked at them frozen. His father was much older than her mother. He had wrinkles and gray hair already. His mother looked about the same age as his own mother in his own world, perhaps younger. She was a very gentle and kind woman. Her face looked very kind. He wasn't afraid of her.

His conscience told him that they were his parents, but he's too stunt to accept it. This can't be true!

In confusion, Neal opened wide his mouth and eyes. He moved a few steps backward when they came to approach him.

His mother, Martha, approached him and said, " Neal, are you okay? You had a high fever last night." She took him gently to his bed.

Neal was terrified, he almost asked her to go away but her gentleness made him do what she said. He stayed in bed as she asked and used the opportunity to cool down and to avoid interacting with them. That night, he lied down in bed thinking what had happened. What weird was he knew everything in there as though he really had lived there all of his life. Was it really possible that he traveled back in time and became his grandpa Neal? He thought that could only happen in a novel. He's hoping that it's only a dream and all would be fine and went back to normal when he woke up tomorrow.

However, too bad, when Neal woke up the following day, the situation was still the same. He was still in the same house, the same parents and the same situation, he was still the young grandpa Neal.

-TO BE CONTINUED-

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Summary of this chapter: Neal went back in time to year 1868. He became his grandpa Neal when he was young. His parents now are his great grandparents Martha and Aaron. What about Candy? Please check the next chapter :D

Thank you so much for reading.

Chapter 2

Aaron was a book seller. He proudly owned a small book store, which was more of a small booth with an ample room in the back for storage. This book store was the source of income for the family.

"I'll take him to work today, he should be fine," Neal heard his father Aaron said to his mother Martha one day.

Neal felt so awful and disgusted. No more servants, no more luxury all were in total opposite of the world he knew. His father would even made him work. He needed to do house chores too which he never touched all his life in his own time. He's not used to this kind of life. He felt so cornered. He barely could eat the food served in front of him. But after a while, he got very hungry and tried some. To his surprise it was tasty. Although the appearance was far from the gourmet cook his chef always served in his own time, the taste certainly didn't fall behind.

Other than eating, Neal avoided to do anything else to help his parents.

He always said,"Let the servant do it."

He didn't want to wash dishes, didn't want to work, didn't want to help his father carrying heavy loads and more. He even complained on how ugly his clothes were. He couldn't believe he needed to wear clothes so shabby with holes.

His mother patiently said, "As soon as we have some money, we'll buy you new clothes."

He spent time reading newspaper, books, lying on his bed or took a walk outside. He came back home only to eat or to sleep.

One day, when Neal was lying lazily on his bed he heard some noise and saw a neighbor came carrying his father, Aaron. Aaron's face looked pale and so much in pain with bluish lips.

The neighbor shouted, "Marta, Martha! Aaron had a serious injury."

Neal's mother who was busy fixing a hole in her son's clothes right away jumped in panic to take her husband to his room. His father Aaron always had a back problem. Neal often saw his mother gave his father's back a massage. Apparently it got worse in time and today his back was injured really badly. The neighbor was their good friend and happened to meet Aaron in the bookstore where he came to help. The neighbor took him to see a doctor on the way home. He refused to be paid back but Martha insisted. After the neighbor left, Martha quickly attended Aaron.

Neal heard them crying from outside. After a while, he sat on his bed. He felt so scared. He never heard his own mother and father cry. He sensed something really bad was happening. He missed his own mom and was hoping so much she was there for him to run to.

Suddenly, he heard a knock at the door.

At the time where he thought the situation couldn't get any worse, he heard someone shouted rudely, "Aaron, Martha, the house rent is due today."

A big fat looking man rudely entered the house. He's the landlord asking them to pay the monthly rent. Martha quickly appeared to meet him.

"I am so sorry, but we don't have enough money today, please give us a few more days to pay," Martha said softly, she's afraid for Aaron to hear and get worried.

In her heart, Martha was worried about her sick husband and son. What if he asked them to leave, her husband was so hurting he couldn't even move. What if he took her son in exchange for the rent. In fear, she respectfully explained that they just used all money they had to see a doctor and to take care of Aaron. The landlord rudely refused to give them extension. He growled loudly demanding her to give the money now.

Neal's heart felt like being pierced by a knife. How come things could be this complicated? In the past, all he needed to do was to run to his mother. Life back then seemed to be so smooth and never be in lack of anything.

Neal saw his mother kept begging for the landlord to give them a few more days extension but the landlord bluntly refused. It hurt his heart to see someone being that rude to the kind Martha. At the end, the landlord wanted to go to confront Aaron. Martha didn't allow that, she's afraid of what it'd do for his health. But the landlord didn't care, he walked straight to Aaron's room. Martha finally knelt down holding the landlord's legs begging him tearfully not to meet her husband. The landlord still didn't care. Having no other option, Martha knelt on the floor and held his legs but the man kept waking pulling her with him. Then, she held his leg with one hand and stretched her other arm to grab one table leg.

Neal hid in his dark corner trembling in fear seeing such a depressing scene. For the first time in his life, he felt pity. He felt so sorry for his mother Martha who always be exceptionally gentle and kind to him. After a while he couldn't contain himself anymore. Without he realized it, he jumped from his bed and stood up to reason with the landlord.

"Enough, be a bit more gentle to my mother," said Neal in a wobbly voice. He couldn't believe he really said it.

The man got even angrier, Neal was so frightened. His body was trembling and his legs were shaking in fear.

"Be respectful to me or I threw you and your family out right now, at this moment," he shouted raucously. He made a move to punch Neal.

Neal was so scared. He cringed and trembled in fear so much frozen not knowing how to respond. He could have been punched easily but his mother ran to stand in front of him.

"Don't hit my son," she hugged Neal to shield his body from the landlord.

That landlord examined Neal for a while and said, "Let me take him to work with me."

The landlord grabbed Neal's arm. In shocked, Neal didn't even struggle. He got dragged sheepishly by the landlord. But his mother Martha ran between them and pushed her son to separate him from the landlord, she stood in front of the landlord and her dearest son.

"No, don't take him," Martha screamed hysterically. She continued more pleading, begging and more. Finally she said, "A few more days, that's all I ask. We're never late in paying our rent, please trust us. We promise you, just this time only." She tried trying to sound as convincing as possible.

Neal was stunt. What happened was so unexpected and just like a nightmare. Someone was about to take him as a substitute for a house rent? He never thought such a thing possible. In stunt, he just stood there mutely watching his mother Martha and the landlord made a deal. He was so paralyzed half in fear half in terror trying to absorb the events that happening in front of him.

Perhaps due to pity to Martha the landlord finally yielded, he said, "Your husband is sick, your son is an idiot. Fine, I'll be back in a few more days. Ask your useless son to work!" He shook his head and left.

Martha felt so relieved. She said thank you many many times. As soon as the landlord disappeared she hugged Neal feeling so relieved he's still there with her.

"My son... Oh, my son...," she said tearfully. She hugged him tightly clearly showing the unparalleled love she had to her precious son. She kept hugging and sobbing until she heard her husband call her, "Martha, Martha!"

Martha hurriedly released her son, wiped her tears and went to his room.

"I am sorry, Dear," Neal heard his father Aaron said to his mother Martha. "I promised you happiness on our wedding day but it seemed that I failed you." Aaron cried.

"Don't say that, Darling," his mother said. She put her head on him and cried. "Your love keeps me going. Your love never stops giving me hope and happiness. I'm satisfied to be a woman who's rich in love. "

"Love can't help you to pay rent," he said caressing her hair and tears dropped continuously on his face. " I tried, but I failed. I am so sorry to you. "

"Darling, we still have hope, we have our son," Neal heard his mother replied with a trembling broken voice.

His father closed his eyes and cried silently. Our son? He shook his head in despair. "What can he do other than to give you more burden?" he said. His heart felt so much pain like being stabbed by a dagger thinking about the never ending problem the family was facing.

While still nailed on the same spot as when the landlord left them, Neal was listening to his parents talking and trying to absorb traumatic events that happened one after another that night.

The rest of the night got worse and worse. Aaron was in so much pain. The sound of him in pain would break the hardest heart, including Neal's. Martha continued tirelessly to try all she could to ease his pain. At what seemed to be the darkest hour, Neal couldn't take it anymore and went outside to take a walk. It's dark outside, all he could was to visit their horse. He remembered Aaron always worked so hard with the horse. It made him so sad with what's happening to him. Neal stayed for a while with his closest companion and did some reflection.

His heart sunk. The situation was unthinkable. He needed to react all of them would be in trouble. But what could he do? He could just run away and ignored them. They were not his real parents anyway. But where to run? He knew no one. Above all, the poignant scene of his mother knelled on the landlord's knee kept hovering in his head. She even tried to protect him from being hit and grabbed by the landlord. That tiny woman stood bigger than a giant just now in front of him. Where did she get all the energy to push that big fat landlord? His heart melted with pity when thinking about what happened to his mother Martha who always gave him nothing but love and kindness. He didn't want that to happen again to her. But, what should he do?

Neal patted the horse one more time and went back inside hoping for a miracle to happen and his father Aaron got better. He sat listening silently on his bed holding his crossed legs in front of his chest with mind clouded by all things happening around him.

"Neal." He suddenly heard someone approaching him which cut his train of thought. It's his mother.

"Mother," whispered Neal. She looked exhausted and full of sorrow.

Neal wanted so much to help this kind woman, if only he knew how. "How's father?" he asked.

She hugged him and said tearfully, "He's sleeping finally."

That seemed to be the best news he had ever heard in his entire life.

"Neal, let me tell you a story," she sobbed. "Before we had you, I and your father wanted so much to have a child for a long time with no avail. But we never gave up hope. Finally we had a son, you, it was like a miracle. We only have you. After you, we could not have any more child either," she said with flowing tears. "I believe you are here for a purpose. I believe that you are just a young bird which not yet able to fly. When you really spread your wings later, you'll fly the highest, majestically. I truly believe you won't disappoint us." She hugged him and sobbed really hard.

His mother's words penetrated deep into his heart. Her continued unconditional love and trust in him lifted him up. Nobody trusted him that much. Everyone around him always laughed at him, mocked at him. Everyone except her always told him how useless he was. He genuinely felt sorry to this lady. For the first time in his life, he had a goal in mind. He would take the matter into his hands and took them out of the poverty.

After a while he encouraged himself to say, "Mother, I will work hard starting tomorrow. I promise I won't disappoint you." He hugged her back.

His mother Martha slowly releasing her hug. She looked at her son. Neal's heart was broken to see her extreme sadness and flowing tears. She's about the same age as his real mother, but the suffering she endured was not even comparable. But, with all the suffering she had, her love to him stayed unwavered. For each drop of tear she shed, it boosted his motivation by a hundred.

She nodded and tried to smile between her tears. "I trust you son. I always do."

That night, Neal prepared himself to face the hard truth and to conquer his first real life challenge. For the first time in his life he knew the importance of working to earn a living. For the first time in his life he learned that being frightened was a disadvantage. One needed to fight to win just like Martha to the landlord. If that petite woman could do it, he should be able to do it too. He determined to work hard for the first time in his life. It had no room for failing. He had to succeed or the whole family would sink. He promised himself he would do his best for the sake of his mother Martha.

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Although Neal's intention was noble but it was easier to be said than done. The following day he went to the store to sell books. He tried to remember everything that his own father and father Aaron taught him about being a seller. It's much easier to learn in theory than to apply in practice, of course. Regardless, he tried his best to take care of each customer hoping they'd buy and for him to earn more money. He felt so motivated when he got his first buyer. Day after day, he worked diligently to cover his father. He earned money, yet not that much. He's not satisfied with the amount of income. He thought how to improve himself when he got the idea to sell on the street.

That day, Neal woke up extra early to feed his horse, loaded his books in the horse carriage and went to look for the most crowded place in the town. He sat on the street paying attention on how other sellers did to attract customers. He imitated them. He shouted loudly to attract customers. Things moved well and much to his excitement, he earned more money. But nothing seemed to flow easily, one day, an officer came to bully him and forced him to leave. But since selling on the street generated good money, after the officer left Neal came back. The officer was annoyed to see his resistance. He called his friends and beat him up. They seized his bag. That bag had the money which he had worked so hard to get. The money which was very important for his mother and father. He couldn't lose that. Most of all he'd lose his dignity if he came back home empty handedly. With that in mind, he fought back. But he's only one person fighting against a few guards, how could he win?

Among all the chaos, suddenly a blonde girl appeared and shouted. "Stop beating him. How dare you to do that in front of my property."

The blonde girl had been following what happened from her mansion's window when she felt she recognized the book seller. His voice was familiar along with that signature of grin which was unmistakably his. She looked at him attentively. She was so sure she recognized him, she hurriedly ran downstairs to meet him. To her great horror, she found him being beaten up.

Seeing her, the bullies were frightened. They right away apologized and ran away

Neal stared at his rescuer for a while and got frozen. Her voice, her look, she looked so much like her! But soon he remembered about his money.

Ignoring who the girl could really be, he said, "My bag! My Bag!" To him, his bag of money was the most important thing in the world.

"Yes, don't worry, I have it here," the girl said kindly trying to comfort him.

Neal quickly grabbed the bag and held it tightly. That bag of money was his life, his parents' life, it's everything for him.

The girl instructed her men, "Take him to my room, hurry."

They lifted Neal up and brought him to her room as instructed.

She said again, "Call a doctor."

Neal said, "No need. I am fine."

She asked her men to go out and sat next to him. She offered him a glass of water.

"Are you sure you are okay?" she asked kindly.

This can't be true, she's very similar to Candy, thought Neal.

This can't be true, he's very similar to Neal, thought the girl.

They stared at one another before Neal realized he shouldn't do that to an upper class woman

"Ma'am," Neal bowed politely. "Thank you so much for your kind help. I am sorry to stare at you for too long, but you really look like one lost friend of mine."

"May I know what's your name?" asked the girl.

"Neal Leagan," Neal thought how to better explain who he really was. He cautiously added a hint to tell her who he really was. "Neal Leagan from that time," he said.

"From that time?" asked the girl. She added carefully, "Neal, I am Candy. Is it possible that...?"

"You are Candy from the year 1918!" he said excitedly.

"Yes!" said the girl. "I am Candy from the future! We were in that empty mansion that night and suddenly we came to this time."

-TO BE CONTINUED-

*Thank you so much for reading. I really appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.*

Chapter 3

"Yes!" said the girl. "I am Candy from the future! We were in that empty mansion that night and suddenly we came to this time."

Neal initially was thrilled to meet Candy, but hearing her words reminded him what happened that night. He remembered how bad he was to her. Touchingly, she still helped him and even felt happy to see him instead of throwing him into a dungeon for revenge, he felt awfully guilty.

He said slowly as though talking to himself, "How low can I be? I was so useless to my parents. I was covered by my mother and now, I am saved by the girl who I spent my whole life bullying. So shameful."

Then he said, "Candy, I can't believe we meet here." He was partly excited partly ashamed. "Thank you so much for your help. What you did mean so much for my parents. I hope I can repay you one day."

Neal wanted to talk more to Candy, but he knew how much she hated him, which she had all the right to be. All was his fault. Regretting all awful things he did to her, he decided he shouldn't meddle with her for too long and leave as quickly as possible. He hurriedly got up and took his bag.

"Good bye, Ms. Candice," he said. He bowed to her and walked to the door to leave.

But Candy chased him back. "Neal, don't got yet, I am so happy to see you."

Candy couldn't believe she'd ever say that to him. But it's good to meet someone she genuinely knew from her own world instead of someone she just knew superficially. Neal grinned uncomfortably, not knowing how to really react to this generous woman. In her excitement, Candy held both of his hands and laughed out loud. Seeing how excited she was, finally he also laughed together with her. He too felt relieved to meet someone he knew from his own world.

Then he turned to be really serious and apologized one more time. "I was wrong to you. I am so sorry for what I did to you. Please forgive me. If you want, I promise I'd be your good friend from now on. Thanks again for saving me just now despite what I did to you."

Candy smiled and said. "Apology accepted. Don't worry about that. But please don't go. I am really glad to meet someone I really know, tell me your story. Who are you here here?"

"As you see, I am Neal Leagan, a bookseller. I become my grandpa Neal. Weird, eh? It's a long story." Neal told her his experience. "What about you?"

"I am the adopted daughter of Sir William Ardlay. The same Ardlay, just the ancestor," she sighed. "At any time I live, I never have real parents."

"Don't say that, what you should see is how nice a person you are. Look at me, at any time I live I am a spoiled kid. I am a spoiled kid again now, of a poor family," Neal said.

Candy smiled at his generous remark.

"I have a special friend here too, guess who?" she said with a smile. "Terry! His ancestor, though."

"You must like it then," answered Neal sincerely. "Congratulations, I wish both of you the best."

Candy laughed happily.

Neal knew how much Candy liked Terry since they went to school in London. Hearing the name Terry also reminded him again of what happened that night when he used Terry as a trap to allure her to come to the empty mansion. He felt so ashamed again to himself.

They did some more chatting before Neal decided to go. He needed to go back to work to earn money.

"Thank you again for your help and being nice to me considering what I did to you in the past. You could come to my store too. But I am not always there. I usually sell books on the street," said Neal before he left.

"Neal, try to visit me once in a while," Candy said. She sincerely meant that.

Neal promised he would.

"If you come to visit me, don't forget to use commoner clothes. You can't be a street vendor with a silk dress," he laughed. "Bye now."

Neal bowed and kissed her hands many times. He then left and continued to work. They promised to keep in touch more later.

That night, Neal excitedly gave the money to his mother. She was very happy. She hugged him and hurriedly used it to buy medicine and food for her husband. Seeing that made him grateful even more to Candy. Without Candy, he would have come home empty handedly. He couldn't imagine how disappointed his parents would have been. There'd be no food served for dinner and no medicine for his father. The more he thought about Candy the deeper he regretted his past foolish behaviors to her. It touched him that she's still being nice to him and even helped him. It's such a pleasant surprise to meet Candy. It's good to meet a familiar person. He promised he'd never tease her anymore. He's happy that she seemed happy and well taken care of.

No 'Neal' who causes her trouble either here, he sighed.

He's happy that she's in a happy term with Terry too. He knew how much heartbreak the two had in their own world and he shamelessly used the opportunity to cause her trouble. He wished all happiness to her.

Candy too was excited to meet someone from her own world. Being a positive person with a big heart, her excitement to meet Neal overshadowed the memory of his past annoying behaviors. People around her were nice but nothing could beat the feeling of meeting a real old friend. She's afraid of losing Neal.

What if he never came to visit me anymore, she thought.

That night, Candy came to her father, Sir William. She asked if Neal could be a book and stationery supplier to the mansion library.

"He's my childhood friend. He's a book and stationery seller," Candy told Sir William. "I just met him again today."

Sir William agreed. Candy was excited. Sir William never failed her in any time she lived. Sir William sent his staff to Neal's bookstore to notify him about the business deal. Neal was very happy. It must be Candy, he thought. Since Neal was in dire need of money, he's extra excited with the new possible business opportunity. He highly appreciated what Candy did so much. He promised himself to treat her with nothing but the most respect from now on.

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WHAT HAPPENED TO CANDY AFTER THAT NIGHT...

Let's go back to find out what happened to Candy that night when she was in the empty mansion with Neal and suddenly traveled to the past:

Candy was in that empty mansion with Neal when she suddenly experienced what Neal was experiencing. Everything was spinning, buzzing and BBzz-ing...

When all stopped to her surprise she found herself sitting in a dinning room having lunch with her family. She looked around examining the room. It was her first time to be there, strangely she knew everything as if she really had lived there. She examined the people one by one. Strangely, she knew them too.

Finally her eyes arrived at one man. She heard him saying,"Are you okay, Candy?"

Hearing his voice, seeing his face, Candy jumped up in shocked. Her sudden movement pushed her chair to fall which made a loud ringing sound that echoed throughout the mansion's big dining hall. Her conscience told her that he's Sir William, her father. How similar he was with Albert! In awed, she stared at him for a long time. He had blonde hair, blue eyes and was devastatingly handsome. At this point, Sir William felt something must go wrong. He put down his fork and knife and excused himself from his wife and others. He kissed his wife briefly and accompanied Candy to her room. He talked to Candy gently while waiting for her personal maid to come. He instructed the maid to accompany Candy and to never leaver her. In her room, her maid who had been with her since she was adopted talked with her slowly and had ever since helped her to adjust to the new live.

Candy got adjusted quickly and finally realized she had traveled in time. She found out that her name here was Hilda Candice. But since she liked to eat candies when she was little, people called her Candy. The name had stuck with her ever since. Sir William had been nice throughout her adjustment process. She estimated that this man was a bit older than Albert. He was extremely nice just like Albert and the way she always imagined uncle William would be. He was already married. His wife was pregnant with the couple's second child. His wife was stunningly beautiful. She's very kind and gentle, an excellent match for the perfect man.

To Candy's excitement, she also met "Terry" again, son of Duke Grandchester. He looked so much like Terry in her own world. He's Terry's ancestor, but what exactly his relation was to his own Terry, she's not really clear. She tried to recreate the Grandchester family tree but got lost in total confusion. Regardless, she felt excited about it.

What a nice treat, she giggled to herself thinking about Terry.

Terry was as handsome as in her own world. Candy in this world loved him so much. He often came to visit her, always especially kind and sweet to her too. They were childhood friends. He's a few years older than the Terry she knew in her own world.

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

NEAL AND HIS BUSINESS

Meanwhile, Neal found out that he got more money by selling books on the street. Soon he tried other places to sell books. He observed that no sellers were fighting with the guards. Doing it with a blunt force like fighting was definitely not a good solution. Last time, without Candy's interference, he could have lost all his money and probably books too. He thought hard to find the correct strategy. He tried to make friends with the guards. Whenever one came and asked him to leave, instead of fighting he chatted friendlily and offered them money to buy beer or lunch. They started to like Neal and graciously allowed him to stay and do his business.

Neal made more and more money every day. Soon, they had enough money to pay the house rent, medicine and even more. His parents were very happy and encouraged him to buy new clothes as they promised. But, Neal refused. It made him ashamed that he cared for such a little thing in the past. He used some of the profit to expand the business and gave the remaining net income to his mother.

-TO BE CONTINUED-

Thank you so much for reading.

Summary: Neal and Candy traveled in time to the past. Neal became his grandpa Neal when he was young. His parents here were Martha and Aaron.

Candy was again the adopter daughter of Sir William (Albert's ancestor). Candy was the love interest of Terry (Terry's ancestor, that is). Terry will appear in the next chapter.

Chapter 4

The day arrived when Neal came to the Ardlays mansion to bring book and stationery supplies. He saw Candy again. He expressed his gratitude for the job opportunity with unparalleled respect. She took him to meet Sir William, too. Although he was excited to meet the famous uncle William's ancestor, he was nervous too to meet the big man. However, Sir William was very friendly to him which helped him to be at ease. Neal who now fully understood the importance of a client for business to success expressed his gratitude with the utmost respect. Candy laughed in her heart seeing his down to earth behavior. It's quite the opposite of the arrogant Neal she knew in their own world. She never heard him saying thank you let alone bow and be respectful to anyone.

After the little ceremony, Neal went back to work. He behaved extra gallantly to Candy. She sat there watching him unloading books and other stuffs from his carriage to the library. She waited for him to tease her as usual, but that never happened. He did his job seriously. He looked different with his serious face. After he finished his work, he said goodbye to Candy with full respect. She couldn't take it anymore. It's weird that he was so silent. She rather missed his annoying grin and stupid jokes. She picked up a little rock and hit him at the head.

"Ouch," Neal said. He looked at her direction. "What is it about?" he asked.

"How come you are so quiet?" she asked.

"You are a princess, I am a commoner, and you expect me to talk to you?" He bowed to bid good bye but again Candy knocked his head with a rock.

"Everything is mixed up in this world, isn't it? Now, you are the one who's teasing me!" he grinned.

"Stay with with me for a few more minute," requested Candy.

"Last time I was trying to pull your hair. I could do that again, who knows we'll go back to our own time tonight," he joked.

He ran and chased Candy. But this time, he didn't pull her hair, he caught her and said, "Gotcha." He carried her in the waist and turned around in a circle. Both giggled happily.

After chasing each other for a while they took a break, they sat on the grass and chatted telling each other's new experience in their current world.

"Now that we are poor, our house is very small. I spend so much time to talk and be with my parents. I never did that in our own time. We are so closed together," he laughed.

"Lucky you," said Candy. She too told him her story, "I think I can understand why you liked to tease me back then. It's boring to live alone in a mansion. This place is so big and I feel so alone. There's no one available but servants."

Neal nodded. He's happy that Candy always saw things in a positive way. But, she might be right.

Neal added, "Our house and the neighbors' houses are very closed to one another. I know so many of them now. I never have these many closed friends in my life"

He told her the close relationship they had with the neighbors. Everyone was a family. They came and went at any time, they helped one another with such an open arm. Such a thing was so unthinkable. In the past, he never even thought about neighbors. Once he needed to help to baby sit neighbors' baby since they had an emergency in the middle of the night and his parents were out helping them. Only he and the baby remained.

"There's no such things as a baby sleeps like a log," he said. "I ended up carrying her for hours until her parents came so she didn't wake up to cry."

Candy laughed hearing his baby sitting story.

"I love it, I think. I have a lot of friends. I often talk to my parents. I just love it," he said. "If we could ever go back to our time, I'd do my life differently."

She looked at him whose face looked more serious in contrast to Neal she knew in their own time. That Neal never seemed to be in focus.

"What are you thinking about? You look so thoughtful." She giggled. "I never saw you like that in the past, in our own world that is."

"I need to think how to make money seriously now," he sighed. "My family depends on me. You do us a great favor by recommending our service to Sir William. Thank you."

"You're welcome. Actually I like your serious face better," she said with a grin.

"Really?" he grinned back. Then went back to his serious air. "I really have no time to think or do something idiot these days."

She said. "But even busy Neal Leagan needs to take a break and have fun once in a while, correct?"

With that Candy pulled his hair and the two started to chase one another again. Candy was very happy that she had a familiar face as a friend and could freely be herself.

Suddenly they heard someone calling her," Candy, Candy!"

Neal hurriedly looked who's calling.

"Terry? Your boy friend is here," said Neal.

Candy shook her head. "He's handsome and we're childhood friends. He's especially closed to the Candy here. The Candy here loved him so much. But no, he's not my boyfriend yet," explained Candy. "I am still testing him," she added with a laugh.

"Is there anyone else except us? Anthony? Stear? Archie?"

"There is their version too, but they all are grown up and married," said Candy. "Anthony the gardener is dashing just the way I always imagined he'd be." She sighed.

Neal nodded silently. He knew how Candy and Antony were in the past Like everyone else, he regretted Anthony's early passing too.

Terry came and kissed Candy. He said, "How do you do, Candy?" He then turned around to face Neal.

"Who's this commoner?" asked Terry abruptly.

"He's my childhood friend, Neal," introduced Candy.

"Is he trying to be rude to you?" Terry looked at Neal in disgust. How dared such a commoner to touch his girl of interest?

He took Candy's arm and took her away.

"Don't be rude, he's my childhood friend." Neal heard Candy say to Terry.

"How did he get here?" asked Terry. "I should tell Sir William not to let him come ever again."

"If you dared to badmouth him, I'd not see you anymore," Neal heard Candy said to Terry.

Candy turned around to look at Neal one more time and give him a friendly wave.

"See you next week," she shouted ignoring Terry's annoyed look.

Neal waved back at her and nodded his head.

Neal was touched deeply by Candy. He remembered in the past he used to insult her badly because she came from Pony's home while just now she's defending him from Terry. He wondered what got into his brain in the past that made him spend endless time mercilessly bullying her. But even after all he had done to her, she forgave him and reached out to him. She's such a nice person. She's an aristocrat yet she wasn't embarrassed to spend time with him and be his friend. She's always generous, kind, and sweet. For the first time, he thought how lovely Candy was as a woman. She's beautiful and had such a noble heart, she must be the goddess of mercy herself. Her sweetness was beyond...

"Neal, you haven't touched your food. Are you alright?" Suddenly Neal felt someone tapped his arm and heard his mother's voice cut his musing about Candy.

Neal saw his mother's eyes watching him sharply in concerned. With his mind constantly immersed in Candy, he barely noticed that he was having dinner with his parents and had food served in front of him.

Hurriedly he ate, grinned clumsily and said, "It's delicious."

"Did anything happen today?" his mother asked worriedly.

The thought of Candy appeared again briefly in his mind. He blushed lightly and felt lucky that his mother didn't see it because his father started to talk. His father had been very proud of his son who earned real money. He talked highly about his son to everyone he met. Soon, Neal became very famous in his village. Everyone was impressed to see Aaron's hardworking son. His tall and handsome features help to accentuate his popularity too. Every day they saw him going to work the earliest and came back home the latest. Many parents with daughters were interested to get to know him better.

"Our neighbor's daughter is interested in you. Do you think you'd want to marry her?" his father Aaron asked bluntly.

Neal was dumbfounded. He almost got choked by a piece of carrot he had not finished chewing. "Marry who?" he asked absolutely flabbergasted.

"Her father is my closed friend since we were young. He's the one who took me to see a doctor. He said that she often sees you everyday when you go to work and she'll be thrilled to meet you," his father said, looking at his son proudly.

Neal was speechless and thought, Oh not again, matchmaking! They surely have one thing in common with my own parents.

Neal said, "I don't really know who she is. I am busy, I don't pay attention."

His parents looked at each other and laughed. They told him about the habit in the village to match their children with their best friends' children. In his heart suddenly he was thinking of Candy. Unconsciously he imagined what happened if Candy requested to marry him. He then waived the thought quickly. He was shocked to even think about Candy. He saw his parents were closely looking at him, suddenly he felt uneasy. He hurriedly finished his food and washed the dishes as an excuse to leave the table. He felt suffocated, his brain seemed to stop working clouded by the thought of Candy. He needed some space to be alone and remove the thought of Candy which had been constantly occupying his mind.

That night the neighbor's family came to introduce the daughter, Hilda. She's pretty and charming. He recognized her too. He saw her often in the market when he's selling his books.

Neal was clearly the center of attention that night. He noticed how his parents, her parents, and Hilda kept staring at him. He felt very uncomfortable. Hilda smiled glowingly at the man whom she believed to be the most capable and handsome young man out there. He was so relieved when finally they finished chatting. Hurriedly he went outside to feed the horse. Unexpectedly, Hilda kept following him and lent her hand to help. She did her job well too! While working they had a chat.

"I am the eldest in the family. My brothers are too young so I cover many of their works," she said.

Hilda often went to the street to deliver food for her parents or to cover their work. She was four years younger than Neal but she had earned money for the family. Hilda was fun and hardworking. Neal thought highly of her, he felt ashamed thinking how useless he was when he was at her age.

No matter how impressive Hilda was, that night Neal lied down on his bed thinking about Candy. Now he understood why his cousins, Anthony, Archie, and Stear, were so into her. In the past, he used to hear them laughing and giggling talking about Candy. He didn't understand what the fuss was back then. It took him that long, but now, he understood. She's beautiful and had the sweetest of smile. But to him, her vibrant personality and big heart were her brightest accessories.

Ever since that day, Neal was very happy every time he came to deliver books to the Ardlay mansion. He always hoped to be able to see Candy. Candy didn't disappoint him either. She always showed up and they had such a good time together. Since his mother Martha was an excellent cook, Neal would save some food and took it with him to share with Candy. Candy really appreciated his kind gesture. After a while, he stayed and had lunch together with her outdoor. He refused to do it indoor. Knowing his position, he really didn't want to take advantage of her.

Without Neal knowing it, Candy had been anticipated his weekly visit too. She started to realize that without his obnoxious behavior, the serious Neal was not less desirable than his cousins. Like them, he's tall and handsome in addition to that hot chest which always be exposed partially in his partly opened working clothes. She enjoyed looking at his serious face, seeing him work hard and behaving like a responsible man. In addition, she knew him better than all other people around her. She liked to spend time with him. She always looked forward to meeting him whenever he came to deliver books and library supplies.

-TO BE CONTINUED-

Thank you so much for reading.

Summary: Candy and Neal went back in time.

Sir William here was Albert's ancestor. Happened to be Candy's adopter father again in the past.

Terry: Terry here was actually Terry's ancestor. He liked Candy.

Hilda: Neal's neighbor. She liked Neal.

Chapter 5

After meeting with Candy in friendly term for months, Neal found himself following the same path his cousins had walked on. He started to fall in love to Candy too. Of course, he realized that his life was a sharp contrast to hers. He's just a small book seller while her father was a tycoon. She's an aristocrat while he's a commoner, her house was a mansion while his was a hut. Realizing the slim chance he had to be with her sometimes made him mad or somber or mixed of the two. Refusing to surrender, it spurred him to use all brain power he had to reach success. He didn't want to be stuck to be a street vendor all his life!

Meanwhile, Aaron's health had improved and insisted on going to the store daily. While Aaron waited for customers in the store, Neal used his freedom to go outside trying various new business ideas. Some approaches were brilliantly successful. Neal could even hire workers now to cover his works for minor clients and to carry heavy loads for Aaron. However, all were just in early stages. It still didn't give him the confidence in future's success especially if the woman at stake was a tycoon's daughter.

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

One day, Candy came to accompany Neal to sell books in the market. Neal secretly was very happy to have her as his companion. Candy was excited too. She loved to spend time with him. She wore her most ordinary clothes for the special day. While Neal was working, Candy sat and watched how he worked. She noticed how attractive he was when persuading customers to buy. He looked exceptionally convincing when talking, many got persuaded to buy. She's very happy whenever he sold books successfully.

Around noon they moved to another place. Along the way, they came across a very big mansion. Neal suddenly got an idea to talk to them to sell his new business service idea. He told Candy about his plan and asked her favor to watch his books while he's away. Candy gladly agreed.

Neal took from his carriage the special clothes he brought for special business occasions. He wore the special attire on the outside, arranged it neatly, carefully combed his hair, and made himself looked neater and presentable. Then, he left. Candy was impressed on how mature and charming he was.

What a man, she sighed with a smile to herself, he's very dependable, responsible, capable, hardworking, hot, ... Running out words to describe his excellent quality, she giggled to herself.

Neal went to the big mansion and did the best possible marketing talk in his life. Fired up by the desire to success to win Candy's love, even he was impressed by himself. When he's done, he's back to Candy right away. She asked how the talk was.

"I think I charmed them, they promised me to notify their decision on Wednesday night," said Neal while taking off his outer business clothes.

"Wednesday night?" confirmed Candy. Neal nodded with a big grin glowing with confidence.

Neal told her how the talk went. Candy was so impressed by the man. She's so proud of him. Neal was so excited. If he got this big business project, he'd be confident enough to ask Candy's permission to be her date. He'd hire more workers, ready to bring his business to a new height. He smiled to himself. When she's not looking, he stared at her for a long time thinking about all happy things he'd have with her in the future.

While sitting there, surprisingly Candy observed Neal had many friends from his village who stopped by to chat with him. Intriguingly enough, many were girls. She tried to be cool and ignore them. She reasoned, He talks to so many people everyday why can't he talk to girls?

Until she saw this...

Neal was busily loading unloading his books when Candy saw a girl came to approach him. She's Hilda. Candy saw her stop by and examining his face. That day was exceptionally hot, the busy Neal was sweating profusely. Hilda saw it. She then took a piece of cloth from her bag, bent down in front of him and used the cloth to wipe his sweat with the utmost care. She patted his face with the gentlest care as though she's afraid that the softest stroke would hurt him.

"Oh,... no need, ahem... I'm fine," stammered Neal surprised at her sweet gesture. He stood up right away, trying to politely decline her generosity. He smiled awkwardly, wondering what Candy would think if she saw it.

Hilda bashfully avoided his eyes but she kept doing it. Throughout, she gave a pure smile of a girl who happily doing what her heart commanded. Her body language clearly showed how much she adored the tall young man who's standing in front of her.

Hurriedly from the corner of his eye, Neal looked at candy to see if she's looking. She did. In fact, Candy was caught of guard seeing a girl did something that sweet to Neal. She almost gasped loudly in surprise. She never saw a girl did something sweet to him, ever. She felt in rage and angry never before she experienced. She tried hard to calm down.

After not a drop of sweat left unwiped, Hilda asked, "It's hot today. Do you want to drink?" She smiled shyly. Candy could even swear she saw the girl blushing.

"Thank you, but please keep it. You are far way from home. I have plenty here," said Neal, courteously smiling back at her. "It's very hot now, you could wait here until it cools down." He offered her some nice gesture too in return.

With sour heart, Candy waited for her to leave which seemed like hours. She wondered if she would stay throughout the afternoon like what Neal offered her or leave. If she stayed, then I'd leave, Candy thought angrily to herself. Her head almost exploded seeing the two chatted, laughed, exchanged smiles and courtesy to one another. Hilda didn't stay long though, she left soon since she's busy at home. Candy immediately got up ready to talk to Neal about the girl.

"Who's she?" asked Candy as soon as Hilda left trying to look calm. "You have managed to attract quite a number of fans already, haven't you?"

"It's not what you think," Neal said with a serious face. "She's Hilda, daughter of my parents' best friends."

He told her the story about his father and his friends.

"You are very popular in your village, aren't you?" Seeing the many girls who stop by, she couldn't help not to make comments. She still couldn't believe what the neighbor's daughter did to him.

"It's not me. It's grandpa Neal. Our village is little and crowded with lots of people similar like us. We live closely to one another, it's hard not to know the neighbors. It's different than living in a mansion. It's fun in a way." He grinned.

"Of course you like it," said Candy cynically.

Neal only glanced at her but didn't answer and just continued doing his work. Candy wondered what exactly he meant by "fun". Was it fun to have friends or fun to be surrounded by girls.

"Does she like you?" Candy asked.

"I don't know," he answered shortly while kept on working.

"Do you like her?" asked Candy almost choked by suspicion.

"Come on, I don't think about that, I am busy. I have a goal in life and I will fulfill that first. That can wait," he said while non stopped working.

He wished he could tell Candy that it's her that he loved. If only she was not Sir William's daughter and just a regular commoner, he'd have done that long ago. His heart hurt thinking about it. He hid his sadness by being silent and continued doing his work.

Candy was looking at him. She wondered if she was jealous just now. He was sweating, the clothes was wet. He looked really charming when he's working. He definitely was different. She never saw him sweating in the past let alone working. She wanted to wipe his sweat too and gave him water but then she remembered what that girl did so she changed her mind.

I don't want him to think that I am competing with her, Candy thought to herself.

Candy sat there fighting with her own feeling wondering what happened to her. How come she could just sit and ignore the man who was working so hard without lifting her finger to help. Her mind was so clouded like tangled threat when his voice called her.

She heard Neal saying, "Thanks for your help. We sold quite a numbers of books. Let me buy you some bread first then we go home."

Candy refused. She saw how hard he worked to earn his money. She felt guilty thinking awful thoughts about him while he wanted to spend what he earned arduously for her. But Neal insisted. Without waiting for her reply, he ran quickly to buy a loaf of bread. He took her to ride the carriage and looked for a little creek to eat the bread. They drank directly from the creek. The clear water from the creek was cool and refreshing. To her, it tasted much better than any wine she ever tasted. She felt she never had a better meal in her life. Undoubtedly, her blooming heart made the simple bread and water tasted extraordinarily better.

Neal ate quickly. After finished eating, he asked Candy to keep eating slowly while he picked up some wild flowers. She saw him arranging the flowers nicely to make a bouquet. After it's done, he gave it to Candy. She was very happy. Not even the bouquet in the palace could surpass the beauty of bouquet he made for her. As though that's not good enough, he also made a tiara from wild flowers for her.

"How did you learn to do this?" asked Candy stupefied.

"From my current mother. She does this often to neighbors' little children. After a while I started to learned how to do it," he said with a grin.

Candy pricked at the word "neighbor". Suddenly the thought of him with the neighbors' girls clouded her brain again. She wondered what he's doing in the weekend with all these girls. She almost exploded with curiosity which burned inside her. She knew for sure that she's jealous this time, no doubt about that. She wondered what he thought about her. She looked at him who was still busy making the tiara. His face looked so innocent, she wondered if he knew about her feeling or he was totally oblivious like what his face was showing.

This time, she couldn't help to not ask him about it. "Do you do this to neighbors' daughters too?"

"No," he said shortly and seriously. His hands were still busily making the tiara. "If I did this to a different girl each day, how would I have the time to work and make money? You know how busy I am."

Candy felt happy to hear his answer. It's like a ton of burden was being removed from her jealous heart.

"Here, try this on," he said with a school boy smile.

"It's beautiful, really," said Candy with a genuine grateful smile. She almost cried with happiness with what he did and said to her. His answer calmed her. I love him, she thought to herself.

He put the flower tiara on her head. As soon as he did that, he was speechless on how beautiful Candy was. With her simple white gown and the bouquet, she looked just like a beautiful bride. He was imagining walking down the aisle with her. If only he could do that. If only he could tell her that.

"You are beautiful," he said in awed, barely audible, more like talking to himself.

Unconsciously, he arranged her long hair so it fell nicely on her cheek. His finger tips accidentally stroke her cheek gently. The feeling of the brief touch sparked fire which roared trough his heart. I love her so much, he thought to himself imagining one day he could fully hold her cheeks in his hands and kissed her rosy lips. He wondered what she thought of him and if she could feel what he felt. He didn't know that at this moment the same fire was roaring inside her too.

He put all his strength to gather himself.

I'll know on Wednesday night. I'll be your suitor on Wednesday night, Neal thought to himself referring to the big business offer he's hopping to get. His heart was blooming with hope.

He smiled at her, stopped looking at her, and lifted her to the carriage to take her home. The two had such a good time chatting together. He dropped her off in her mansion. He felt so sad to see her walk away from her. If only he could take her home and be with her forever. He saw Terry came to approach her.

"Well Candy, you're with the bookworm here," said Terry. He's so annoyed to see the bouquet of flowers and tiara she's wearing.

Terry took her at the arm and said, "I just came back from the Netherlands, I bought you a nice bouquet of rare tulips, and pearl with gold hair band. Come let me show you." He spoke loudly on purpose for Neal to hear.

Of course Neal heard it. He determined to work even harder and be successful. The more also he put his hope on the business opportunity notification which he'd get on Wednesday night. He'd propose to Candy one day and beat Terry to win her. But for now, he needed to be satisfied for just being able to see her from the far. With that, he turned around and went back home.

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

The following day, as Neal was sitting in his booth thinking and waiting for customer, he got a surprise visit from Terry. Terry had noticed how his beloved spent more and more time together with Neal. He couldn't take it anymore thus wanted to face Neal personally, in person.

"It's only me, she's not coming," said Terry rudely. He looked sharply at Neal and said, "I want you to get away from her."

"From whom?" asked Neal.

"Either you pretend being an idiot or you really are one, Candy of course," answered Terry back.

Neal was stunned that Terry could sense his feeling towards Candy but he didn't show it.

Calmly, Neal replied, "She can talk to me at anytime she wants to." He looked sharply back at him.

"Just look at you. You are here on the street, and she's there," Terry pointed to the majestic mansion of Sir William far away in the background. "Do you want to make her live here on the street like you? You are not thinking!"

"It's my business how I want to live my life and where I want to be," answered Neal still calmly although inside he was burning with rage hearing Terry's lecture which hit his soft spot.

Terry snorted and left.

Neal was so mad. He clenched his fist and hit the table in front of him as hard as he could to vent off his anger. Of course he knew he's poor and she's rich, he's not an idiot. That's the very reason why he had been hesitating to pursue his interest in her to the next level and be more than her friend. He feared he'd fail and end up dragging her to live poorly like him. All this time, no matter how much he enjoyed her companion, with all his strength he kept his love for her secretly in his heart, silently hid it from anyone, especially from her. Surprisingly, Terry could see it. He wondered if it became too obvious for others that he loved her. What about her? What did she think of him?

-TO BE CONTINUED-

Thank you so much for reading.

Chapter 6: Inner Conflict

Every day the thought of Candy occupied Neal's mind deeper and deeper. The more he missed her and the more he knew he couldn't live without her. He was excited when Wednesday finally came for him to deliver books to The Ardlay mansion. In addition, today he'd find out if he got the big business project. Excitedly he got up and went to work. In the late morning, he hurriedly went to the Ardlay mansion hoping to see Candy again. However, he noticed that the family was having a garden party.

No Candy today, he sighed.

Meanwhile, Candy was in the party and felt so bored with people around her. She knew today Neal should come to deliver book. Secretly, she sneaked out to look for him.

Neal was busy working when he heard the library door opened. He turned around secretly hoping it's Candy who came to visit him. To his delight, it's indeed her! She's standing glowingly at the doorway. She was magnificent, all dressed up for the party. Her dress was grand, her jewelry was dazzling, she looked terrific like a real princess. He watched her in awe admiring her exquisite figure. At the same time, he was aware of the sharp opposite to the shabby clothes he's wearing. His confidence dwindled by the dismal reality. Instantly he avoided looking into her eyes debating if he's being selfish for trying to make her his thus dragged her from the aristocracy life style she'd been enjoying to a modest life he'd be offering. No, he shouldn't attempt to make her his.

"I didn't know you'd come. I thought you're having a party," Neal said nervously.

"I won't miss the opportunity to bug you," Candy said with her usual smile. The smiled which annoyed him in their own world and encouraged him to bully had a totally opposite effect this time. He saw her walking closer and closer to him. For each step she took, the weaker his resistance became.

He heard the music play from the far. "You missed your party, Candy." He wished she'd leave, fearing he wouldn't be able to resist her.

But Candy didn't leave, she kept walking closer to him. His honey eyes helplessly tried to steal a look at her. At some point, they met, glued together with hers. He stared at her without blinking totally enthralled by her. He knew he's being so selfish to love her but yet he was too defenseless to fight it.

Candy was overly charmed by him too. His rough and manly look with the working clothes was a far cry from his neat suite in their own time. He was very sexy with his tiny unshaved beard. His half opened working clothes displayed partially his amber muscular chest which was very inviting. She felt her chest was about to burst unable to contain all the passion that it held.

She tried with all she might to answer with steady voice, "Perhaps, I want to miss it. Do you still remember how to dance?" She grinned briefly.

"I do," Neal replied shortly without taking his eyes from her.

"So?" she said smiling. Her heart pounded harder and harder.

"Candy, you are Sir William's daughter while look at me...," he said giving his last strand of resistance.

She put her soft hands on his lips and said, "Just dance."

He was about to protest but the soft look in her eyes gently asked him not to, so he swallowed it.

He slowly gave his most gracious bow to her and offered his arms which she had been waiting for. Although his head told him he shouldn't do this, his heart happily enjoyed holding her in his arms. She put her cheek in his half opened working shirt touching his bare chest skin. The warmth of his skin gave a sharp sensation in her belly making her feel weak... she's hopelessly clinging to his hard muscular chest, totally surrendering to his strong arms. She closed her eyes imagining his lips were touching hers. She knew, if only he felt a fraction of the love she's feeling at this moment, it'd make her life worth living.

Candy you push me too far,thought Neal feeling her warm soft cheek brushing against his chest.

He held her hand tighter to release the tension that's building up within him. As he wrestled with whether to kiss her and tell her how much he loved her, his sense of reality was mixed with dread. Even after the music had long stopped, he still didn't release her, he hugged her tightly while continuously fighting the internal turmoil tumultuously. Then he pushed her gently, looked at her tenderly. The moment their eyes met, she felt everything melted into nothing, time stopped. She felt so sure he was going to kiss her. He was there, she could feel from his breath, saw from his eyes, sense from his position, everything was just right. But then just when he was about to bend down and move his face towards her, something crossed his face, was it a thought or a hesitation, then he shifted slightly.

Almost at the same time, someone called her name loudly.

"Candy! Candy! Candy!" It's Terry's voice.

Terry had been noticing Candy wasn't around and got suspicious. He knew today was the day Neal came to the library, right away he went to the library looking for Candy. He saw them from the far witnessing them dancing closely together.

This is the only commoner I know that can dance that well with a perfect bow. I need to act fast and propose to her, thought Terry.

Without wasting anymore time, Terry came and called Candy loudly. Terry's voice jolted Neal back to the reality, he abruptly released her. Her magnificent dress and breathtaking jewelry looked so much more suitable with Terry's grand suite than with his humble clothes. He was relieved he could stop himself from kissing her just now. What was he thinking? All he could offer her was a potential for the future, no matter how bright it was, it was still a castle in the air with no concrete reality. If he missed his target, would she regret to lead a humble life with him?

Terry offered his arms to Candy. "They are looking for you, Candy."

Neal gave his bow and whispered, "It was wonderful, Candy."

Neal saw her walking away with another man. It burnt him alive. He didn't think he could live knowing she's somewhere else in another man's arms. Instantly he thought about the business proposal decision which he'd find out tonight and put every fiber of his dream, hope, and life in it. He's heartbroken seeing her walking away, but also encouraged, from now on, he'd put himself in position to win her. He pledged to strive against the impossible and be a man worthy to love her.

Overcame by disappointment of not getting his kiss, Candy left silently with Terry. She spent the afternoon dancing in Terry's arms while in her mind she was imagining Neal. Terry was nice and handsome but there's something in Neal that made her love him. During the intermission, Candy went out alone to take a deep breadth and sort her mind. She was thinking about Neal's troubled face. She was so sure that he's about to kiss her before cloud of hesitation took over. What bothered him? What was in his mind? What would have happened if Terry hadn't showed up? In the middle of her contemplation, she felt Terry hugged her from behind.

"It's a nice afternoon, Candy," she heard Terry's gentle voice.

He turned her around and put his arms around her. She felt her body stiffened right away. Unlike in the past, she felt the urge to pull herself from him. He noticed. He had her in his arms all trough the afternoon but he was dejected by her eyes. They behaved as though they belonged to someone else. But, he loved her. He believed time would bring her back to be his again.

"We met here the first time ten years ago. Do you remember?" he said as he pulled her closer to him. "At that time I was shy and you came to me giving me a piece of orange that you're eating. Ever since that day, you were always in my mind."

Candy smiled. She knew Terry was this world's Candy's good friend since she was young. He was talking more about the past when they often played together, had fun together, went to a trip together, and more.

Then suddenly he knelt down on one knee asking, "I love you, Candy. We were playing a bride and a groom in the past, now we have grown up would you please marry me?"

After all the sweetness he gave her, she felt bad to reject him. But in her mind, she was thinking about Neal. She hoped it was him who proposed instead. Maybe the Candy in this world was very closed and in love to this Terry. But to her, the Terry she had in mind was different than this one. And recently, it had been Neal who occupied her mind. She didn't want to hurt this sincere man's heart either. If only she could explain to him that this Candy came from the future and not the Candy he had known.

With the gentlest tone Candy said, "I would love to say yes, but I need to ask my father's permission first."

Terry asked, "Candy, do you love me?"

Candy was speechless. She loved her real world Terry, with all her heart. She also loved this Terry, but that was before she found the changed Neal. The new Neal was different and she loved him more than she could love anyone else.

"Terry, I need to think about this," said Candy trying to find an excuse not to answer his question.

Terry took her hand and put a ring in her finger. "I understand. This is a big decision. I'll leave this here until you decide, don't worry, you can always take it off later. I'll ask you again tomorrow, okay? Take this as a friendship ring."

Candy hugged him. He always be so sweet and nice to her.

Terry offered his arm and took her back to the mansion to finish the rest of the afternoon. After the party was offer, he gave her a kiss and left. Candy hurriedly asked her coach to take her to Neal. She'd tell him about Terry's proposal and see how he react to it.

-TO BE CONTINUED-

Chapter 7: Wednesday Night

That night, Neal was waiting for the much anticipated business offer. He was so sure he'd get it. He's imagining he'd then tell Candy how much he loved her, request to be her date, hug her, and of course kiss her! He was planning the sequence of the ceremony excitedly. He memorized his lines, got them practiced dozens of times until he got completely fluent. He was so ready to show his love to her, a bit nervous perhaps but, boy, was he excited!

And so he waited... 5 o'clock, 6 o'clock, 7 o'clock... The clock kept ticking, but the man carrying the business offer didn't show up. The night grew later, but yet, the man still didn't show up. He got so restless which gradually changed to a disappointment. He was so confident that he'd get the business deal, he had put all his entire existence in it. It's such an unthinkable horror that he missed it. He became so down and distressed.

In the middle of his misery, Candy came.

"Terry will propose to me tomorrow night. What do you think?" asked Candy. She showed him the mind bulging diamond ring in her finger without realizing the impact on the restless young man's heart.

The disappointment from not getting the business opportunity and seeing such a big sparkling diamond ring crushed his heart into pieces.

What am I thinking to date her? Forget about buying her any ring, I don't think I caneven provide food decent enough for Sir William's daughter.

He was disappointed that his talk didn't produce a result. Without any business improvement, even if he worked for two hundred years, there's no way he could afford to buy that diamond ring. It slapped him that he wasn't as good as what he believed he was. The potential remained a potential, it didn't crystallize to success. Neal got so discouraged, became awfully pessimistic and down. Suddenly he remembered what happened to his mother Martha that night when his father Aaron told her in tears that "love couldn't pay rent" *. What if that happened to Candy?, thought Neal in fear.

He felt he would be too selfish to let Candy stay and to drag her to live the hard way like him. The longer they're together, the more painful it'd be to be apart. He decided to end it all now.

With a fake happy smile he responded, "I should say, I am happy for you."

"Are you really happy that I am getting engaged?" confirmed Candy hoping that she misheard it. She was hoping that he'd oppose her engagement to Terry, or at least showed some disappointment. On the contrary, his face looked fine and happy as though nothing happened. Her heart stopped beating for a few seconds terribly disappointed with him.

Neal did the hardest thing he ever did in his life. He looked her in the eyes and lied to her. He said, "Yes. I'm very happy that you are engaged." He even stressed the word "very".

Candy was blown away with sadness. Awkward silence fell between the two, neither knew what to say next.

Finally Candy said, "Well, have a good night. I'll see you next week."

"We shouldn't," said Neal. "You will be an upper class wife soon, Candy. You should busy yourself with a more appropriate activity and circle of friends."

Candy was beaten with his answer and attitude. His answer seemed so heartless and merciless to her, she didn't know that actually deep inside his heart was crushed to a million pieces.

"But Neal, I enjoy your company...," she said.

"I have the best time in my life with you too. But, you are Sir William's daughter. You will be Duchess Grandchester soon," said Neal trying to sound as normal as possible.

Then, he added to himself, On the contrary, my future is uncertain. I am good for nothing. I can't even win the woman I love. He cried in his heart.

Candy was about to tell him how much she loved him and wanted to be with him. But seeing his casualness changed her mood from disappointment to anger. She suddenly remembered his many neighbors' daughters friends. She remembered his hesitation to kiss her this afternoon when they were dancing +. She was so sure it's because of those girls. He must have been in love with one of them and was actually glad that she'd leave him. She was so furious. Her pride stopped her from telling him the truth about her love. Coldly, she wished him a good bye. She left abruptly without even turning back.

Neal bowed politely. He avoided his eyes from looking into hers, fearing his would betray him and showed what he actually felt inside. He didn't want to hug her either because he knew once he had her in his arms, he wouldn't want to let her go. His heart broke into pieces seeing her leave. He regretted so much he didn't took the advantage he had in his own world to be good to her. He's not as smart as his cousins who saw her much quicker than him. All the times he spent fighting with her was just so absurd.

Candy went home with heart bleeding by loneliness and desertion. She never liked being lonely and now she felt so alone that Neal was gone. Mixed of rage and disappointment started to fume in her blood. Neal didn't seem to bother that she'd marry another man, what a sharp contrast to Terry who's begging for her love. The image of caring and loving Terry gradually appeared to her brain. She got disgusted by Neal. The image of Neal and his neighbors' daughters reappeared, a wave of suspicion started to crawl into her mind. An explosion of anger exploded in her torn heart, it flowed trough all her senses fueling strong hatred trough all her veins.

He must be rejoicing now that I am gone, she thought with bitterness. She's imagining him having fun with his many girls that night. The more she thought about it the more furious she became.

Then came the thought of Terry who proposed to her. It calmed her like cool breeze in the hot summer day. Unlike Neal, this man was willing to marry her. Without wasting anymore time, she decided to accept Terry's proposal. She'd show Neal that she could live just fine without him. She'd show him how happy her life would be with the man who loved her, Terry. She didn't need a Neal to be happy, she's much too precious to beg for his love. She's so mad at Neal and determined not to even think or meet him anymore in her life. Almost exploded with anger, Candy went to Sir William and told him she'd accept Terry's proposal. Everything was set for the tomorrow's formal proposal ceremony between the two families.

Candy was excited. She couldn't wait to show Neal that he belonged to the past and the future was for her and beloved Terry. Hurriedly, she told her closest girlfriends about her engagement ceremony. That night, together they helped her preparing for the gown and other accessories for tomorrow night. They were laughing, giggling, and did other girls fun stuff for the rest of the night. She was really happy.

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

On the contrary to what Candy thought, that night Neal was not celebrating at all. He felt so miserable and unlucky both in business and love. In the past, he didn't care much about success or achievement, but ever since actively working, he wanted to succeed and grab a piece of sky too. The blow was exceptionally excruciating now that he felt he's too incompetent to marry Candy. He tried all his strength to look normal to his parents so not to worry them. After dinner, he couldn't hold his pretension any longer. He excused himself from them and went back to the store trying to get busy to forget Candy.

Neal cleaned the storage to sort out old books to keep him busy when accidentally he stumbled on a book about time travel.

Time travel? What a surprise!

He perused the time travel book eagerly until finished at dawn.

There's a way to go back to the future! How exciting!

However, the excitement lasted merely a few seconds before he sunk again into depression thinking about Candy. Candy would get engaged. Nothing mattered anymore whenever he lived. Disinterestedly, he tossed the book and went to work. He felt lucky that he had his work to distract him from thinking about Candy. Dully, he started his daily routine.

As the evening drew closer, nothing could distract him from thinking about Candy. His heart hurt thinking she was in the engagement ceremony, being kissed by another man and be in that man's arms. It drove him crazy that he probably wouldn't be able to meet her anymore either. Finally, he just broke down. His work which he had begun to love and became the source of his life finally failed him to forget his sadness of losing Candy. He was about to cry when he heard someone knocking at the door.

"Mr. Leagan?"

"It's me," said Neal.

"I am delivering our master's agreement to use your business services in his mansion. I wanted to come yesterday but our carriage broke. Sorry that I came late."

Yes! Shouted Neal to himself.

Neal was very happy. They signed the contract and the work time scheduling. For the first time in his life, his self confidence soared. He believed that the sky was the limit to his future success. He was confident of the future and trusted he could do much bigger than what he had achieved. He understood the strategy to success and was ready to join bigger games in the business world.

He should be happy and celebrating but instead he broke down and cried. Candy had left. He regretted that he was over pessimistic yesterday to stop her from getting engaged to Terry. He remembered that night when his mother Martha told his father Aaron tearfully that what important was their love regardless of anything else. Even at the worst hour, her mother Martha felt blessed to have Aaron as her husband *. Even if he hadn't gotten this business opportunity he could have tried something else but the last thing he should do was to let Candy go. But it's too late, the ship had sailed, the opportunity was gone and she's gone.

-TO BE CONTINUED-

Thank you for reading.

NOTE:

* See chapter 2.

+ See chapter 6.

Chapter 8

Candy went back to her room after all her friends left. She changed her clothes and threw herself on her favorite sofa. She felt happy but exhausted after all the fun she had that night. She relaxed comfortably reflecting on the many events that happened that day. As soon as she's quiet, her emotion began to cool, alas, the thought of Neal started to crawl back in again. She tried to think about Terry and made herself hate Neal, but it didn't work. No matter how hard she tried, her mind kept swinging back to Neal. Neal made her day beautiful and exciting. She sighed.

Was it wrong to suspect that he had many girlfriends? The neighbors' daughters probably were just friends like what he said. She thought of Albert, Stear, and Archie. She even lived together with Albert, but their relationship was nothing but pure friendship. Candy started to question her decision. She admitted she was devastated that Neal didn't stop her from getting engaged to Terry. She became overly jealous thus thought about his neighbors' girls which made her even madder. She regretted to be overcome by jealousy which rushed her to make a bad decision. Her heart broke thinking the possibility of never seeing Neal again. Even now, she had already missed him so much. She couldn't imagine life without Neal. If this what it took to be engaged to Terry, than she'd rather not get engaged to him. But then, what to do with Terry? She bit her lips. She felt sorry to Terry, but she couldn't lie to herself. And what about Sir William? Would it ruin his reputation if he canceled an engagement just only a day after he announced it? What a mess!

Candy couldn't sleep well all trough the night and woke up late the following morning. When she came to the dinning room everyone had left except his father who was still there reading newspaper and other business articles. She came to greet him and took her seat. She sat silently, hesitated how to bring up her love problem to him.

"Candy, don't you like the food?" asked Sir William noticing she didn't touch a bit of her breakfast. "Today is a happy day, you can't wait to meet Terry tonight, can you?" He smiled widely to her.

Candy didn't answer.

Seeing her silence he knew something was wrong. Her face looked melancholic, not a bit of happiness shone from it. He put down his papers and said, "Candy?"

"Father," said Candy weakly. "Do you really want me to get engaged to Terry?"

"Me? No Dear, the decision is entirely yours," Sir William replied seriously. "What happens?"

"I wasn't thinking straight last night. I was in rushed in making my decision. I changed my mind. I don't want to be engaged to him tonight."

"Fine, then I'll cancel it," he smiled warmly to Candy.

"But you already invited his parents to come tonight," said Candy. "People are going to laugh at you."

"Your happiness is the most important thing," he assured her with a twinkle in his friendly blue eyes.

"Father, you are my guardian angle." Candy jumped to hug him and added to herself, in any time I live.

Sir William laughed. He assured her that he'd handle the matter tonight and that she shouldn't be worried. Candy felt so grateful to the man. Sir William's face who in general was similar to Albert looked exceptionally like him at that moment. It reminded her so much of her Albert who always be there to solve her most difficult problems.

That night, Terry and his parents came to visit. They exchanged greetings cordially with Sir William and his wife. As soon as they all sat together Sir William said, "Duke Grandchester, there's something I'd like to discuss."

Candy was very nervous. She felt a bit guilty to Terry and his parents. How would they react to this whole mess? She felt lucky that she had the back up of her father.

Sir William was about to tell the Grandchesters about Candy's engagement cancellation when the door suddenly slammed opened followed by the sound of a woman screaming. Everyone was startled, Candy almost jumped from her seat. A woman entered and a servant frantically followed her from behind.

"Sir William, I apologize, I couldn't stop her," said the usher with a worried face. "She's looking for Master Terrrence."

Sir William nodded and dismissed the usher.

The woman ran to Terry. She knelled down and said tearfully, "Don't leave me, please. You promise to be with me and your daughter. I love you, Terry."

Candy was stunt. She watched her father's reaction from the corner of her eye. He looked calm as usual as though nothing happened.

Terry's father said, "Terry, you'd better explain what's going on."

"This is Sussie," stammered Terry.

Terry's father was angered by his answer, "I thought we asked you not to see that singer ever again."

"Yes, but I...," stammered Terry. He stared hopelessly to Candy.

"I have been with you for years, and you only said that I am Sussie?" cut Sussie. "You didn't even tell them the name of our daughter!"(+)

At the word daughter, Candy was so shocked. Almost at the same time she felt a sharp pain in her chest feeling cheated by him.

Sir William looked at Candy's pale face, with the calmest smile he said calmly, "Candy dear, you could leave if you want. You don' t need to be here to hear the details of this drama."

Candy couldn't be happier. She didn't want to hear the detail of the drama in public either. In addition, she's relieved that there's an excuse to stop the engagement party from Terry's side to save Sir William's reputation. She instantly thought of Sussie did to Terry inspired her. It motivated her to compete with all of Neal's neighbors to win him. She took off Terry's ring, put it on the table, then gratefully she hugged Sir William. She happily went outside to go to Neal to tell him how much she loved him.

I need to fight to win the man I love, just like Sussie, she said to herself. She smiled.

Although she felt excited, she felt stupid to even want to consider being engaged to Terry. Terry followed her and Sussie followed him. But Candy ran fast and Sussie was pulling Terry so finally Candy managed to get away from him. Terry finally manged to free himself from Sussie. He ran to stop Candy from leaving in her carriage.

"Candy, please listen to me," said Terry.

"If we just now really got engaged, would you still go to see her?" asked Candy "Would you stop seeing her and your daughter for the sake of me? I don't think so."

"Candy, I knew her for a long time," said Terry trying to avoid answering her question.

"Then, make up your mind. Marry her not me!" At this point Sussie came and Candy jumped to her carriage. She asked the coach to move.

"Candy, I love you," shouted Terry. "Please, let me explain!"

"Seeing what you've done to her and your daughter, I don't think you know what love is. I don't want to end up like her a few years from now. I am sorry Terry. Even if there were no her, I had planned to tell you that the man I love is Neal not you."

She asked her driver to move faster and left Terry in the dust.

Candy got off from the carriage and walked to Neal's store when she saw what she had been fearing. She saw Neal was with the neighbor's daughter. Her heart broke into pieces. She thought she could fight, but after what she just went trough, she felt so exhausted and all she could do was to cry. She felt so stupid to think that Neal loved her. She stood there hopelessly seeing them being friendly to one another until the girl rode her horse and left. She didn't bother much seeing Terry with Sussie, but she felt dying seeing Neal with another woman. The pain was so sharp that it hurt not only her heart but her soul. She thought she knew the meaning of a broken heart. She hadn't. She just found out now. She thought she was angered just now by Terry's scandal. That anguish and anger combined turned out was just like a puff compared to the thunder of devastation she's experiencing now. Tearfully, she tried to absorb the harrowing truth of reality.

Suddenly Neal felt someone was staring at him and looked to her direction. He was very surprised to see someone who looked like Candy.

"Candy?"

As soon as he saw her, Candy who believed he was a merciless playboy ran away but Neal chased her. Neal was ecstatic to see Candy. He thought he wouldn't see her anymore. If possible, he determined not to lose her for the second time. He hurriedly ran to catch her and grabbed her arm.

"You don't want me because of her, do you?" Candy cried.

"It's not what you think. How come are you here? Are you supposed to have an engagement party now?" asked Neal.

"Let me go!" she felt so lonely and heartbroken.

Running out of words to convey the happiness of seeing her again, without wasting anymore time he made a swift movement to pull her against him and to kiss her. With that soft kiss, he breathed his overpowering love to her, strongly pushed doubt away from her soul. Without a word needed to be spoken, finally she saw the truth inside his tormented soul. It made her love for him grow even more. Her heart beat faster and faster. She kissed him back, hers competing with his giving greater passion to each other for each passing second. She had kissed before, but it didn't melt her. She had loved before, but it wasn't quite like this. *

The kiss lasted a minute or maybe much longer, she's not sure... she lost track of time. It didn't matter, what mattered was it was the kiss given by the man whom she loved the most. The next thing she knew, she found herself wrapped up tightly in his arms.

In a low husky voice punctuating each word slowly, he said, "She came here because my mother asked her help to pick up money from me. I haven't gone home and they need the money to pay for the house rent, doctor visit and other business related things tonight."

Candy felt so ashamed. She said, "She's very nice," regretting her exaggeration.

"She is, but she's not you." He looked into her deeply and wiped her tears gently.

Suddenly he realized that this woman was supposed to be already engaged to another man by now. He released her abruptly and moved a distance away from her saying, "I am sorry, I shouldn't do that. Where's your fiance?"

Candy didn't answer.

"Let's go inside first, it's dark and windy here."

They walked silently into the store. He closed the door behind him and stared to the woman he loved waiting for her answer. But, she remained silent.

"Where's your fiance? " Neal asked again, his amber eyes looked deeply into hers. Seeing her within his reach but yet so far, made his heart feel so sad at the "fiance" word. Without he could hold it, tears were building up in his eyes.

Suddenly Candy noticed his reddish eyes. They sparked brightly under the candlelight betraying tears that are building in them. She let her hand reach out to his face, "Did you cry?"

Neal hurriedly clasped her hand in his and asked again, "Why are you here? Where's your fiance?" He's hoping so much for a miracle when waiting for the anticipated answer. If only there were a second chance to win her love, he'd never let that chance go.

"The engagement was canceled. A woman came and said she has his child. But the reason I am here is not because I am upset that he has another woman. Even before she came, I had planned to tell him that my heart doesn't belong to him."

"Then, whom does your heart belong to?" he asked. The look in his hazel eyes had changed from desperation and regret to peace and hope.

"You. I love you, Neal," said Candy. "I regretted that I left you. I was actually happy that he has a child with her."

He was very happy to hear her answer. He hugged her tightly and a few drops of tears ran unchecked down his face. The burden of regret that had daunted him for 24 hours straight instantly melted into nothing.

"I thought I lost you, Candy. I regretted so much to let you go," he said. "I lied when I said I was happy that you're engaged."

He felt very happy to hear that Candy loved him .

He hugged her even tighter and whispered, "Yes, I cried. I cried for hours regretting that I let you go that's why I forgot to take the money home and my mother asked her to come. Please believe me. I don't want anyone else but you."

"I tried to be strong to show you that I can live without you, but I just can't," choked Candy. Her voice broke, tears flowed on her face. She hugged him tightly and sobbed hopelessly hard.

Neal was speechless to hear her revelation. He never meant to break her heart, in fact, he did what he did for her sake. He's slowly releasing her hug. He stared at her and gently wiped her tears. His heart broke seeing how heart broken she was. He hurriedly knelt down on both of his knees.

"Marry me, please," Neal said without taking his eyes away from hers. Ignoring his original plan and countless of practice to request being her date, he decided to skip it and right away jump to the engagement proposal. He almost lost her, he wanted to ensure he got her this time.

Candy gasped and put her hands on her mouth. Her vision became blurry because of her tears, happy tears this time. Considering what just had happened, she couldn't believe she'd hear these words from him that soon.

"Please marry me," he repeated. " I love you, Candy. I want to love you everyday for the rest of my life. "

He paused momentarily and continued, "There's not guarantee that I'll be rich. I can't promise you wealth, but I can promise that you will never be poor in love."

Candy was very happy to hear these words from the man she truly loved. She replied, "I am just a simple Pony girl. I never be afraid of being poor, but I am afraid to live without love." With that she fell to her knees to hug him. "I love you, Neal. I want to be loved by you for the rest of my life."

Neal was so ecstatic that she agreed. He pressed his lips against hers, a burst of serenity engulfed the happy couple's troubled hearts. Finally they could share the real truth that had been hidden deep in their hearts. They found comfort in each other's arms totally overwhelmed by love declarations they just heard from one another.

"I have loved you for sometimes, but you are Sir William's daughter, I was afraid that I couldn't afford you. But today I got the business opportunity which gave me more confidence," Neal said.

He told her about the big project he just won and the flourishing business opportunities he believed he'd have in the future. Having all the misunderstandings sorted out made them feel happy and relieved.

Finally Candy spoke up. "To you, fancy dresses and a diamond ring are more important than me hence you'd rather trash me, do you?" teased Candy after going back to her senses.

"Oh Candy, you know that's not true. I was afraid that you can't face the hard life ahead of you," he lamented.

"Oh Neal, you know that I don't care about money. I am just a simple girl who happened to be adopted by Sir William."

He kissed her again passionately which Candy responded equally lovingly. Suddenly he released her and said excitedly, "Candy, I know how to go back to our own world in the future. I found it form one book I read!"

"We can go back to the future?!" Candy was so excited. She shouted, screamed, laughed happily, all mixed together. She hugged Neal's neck and jumped up and down excitedly. "Tell me more about it."

-TO BE CONTINUED-

Thanks for reading.

NOTE:

(+) Inspired by the love story between Terry's father and Eleanor Baker from the manga (not sure about anime, I never really watch it well).

* It's mostly "she" here because Candy kissed a man (men) before. I don't know about Neal, but probably it's his first time kissing a woman... In this story anyways...

Chapter 9

According to the time travel book+, there happened to be some anomaly in space and time continuum that night which hit both of them together, hence they were transported to the past. To go back, they needed to be together when another anomaly occur at the right time.

"But, there's one catch," Neal said, "Once we return to our time, one person will forget about our life here, in other words, one person will forget about our love here."

"Really?" asked Candy worriedly.

Neal continued, "The other person has no more than five minutes to remind him or her or else they will forget forever."

"It sounds like a story from one book I read," Candy said. "Could we bring a token or something to remind the one who forgot? They did that there." She couldn't believe that this back to back time travel was really happening to them.

"No, we can't bring an object but we can have a poem. But, only when the love is a true love does it work," Neal said gloomily. "If I were the one who forgot, it'd be easy for you to remind me because I know my love is a true love. In addition, although I teased you a lot, I didn't mind talking to you. But, what if you're the one who forgot? That'd be more complicated."

"But, my love is a true love, too. Why do you doubt me?"

Neal looked at her with eyes full of doubt. "In our real world things were complicated, I was really your enemy. You didn't want to even look at me, how would I even have the opportunity to read you a poem in five minutes?"

In fact, he had more enemies than friends in his real world. Here, he had tons of friends whom he had fun with. He was kind of afraid to go back. Furthermore, what if he lost Candy? Did it really worth it to go back with that horrible risk?

He sighed and said, "I start to get used to live here. You do too, don't you?"

"I do. But, we should try it. I am worried about Ms. Pony, Sr. Lane, Annie,...," Candy sighed. "I also miss my job..."

Candy started to get used to live here, but knowing that there's an option to go back to the future, Candy would like to go back. Sir William was always nice and made her feel at home, but Candy really missed her many friends she had in her own world in addition to her beloved job. She always liked to have a career while here she felt like an upper class puppet who had nothing else to do but to look pretty to greet guests. She knew she'd miss Sir William greatly. Neal also missed his own parents and sister. He wondered how they were doing. The only draw back was the fear to lose Candy. After some thinking, discussions, weighing all the risks, they agreed to try.

"The book also mentioned that we shouldn't tell anyone about our journey to the past either," said Neal. "Otherwise, one person would go back and the other one would stay. We will forever be separated in time."

Candy acknowledged.

"According to the calculation in the book, tomorrow night would be one of the right times," said Neal.

Candy was very excited, she couldn't wait to go home. Neal then prepared a poem for them to memorize. He was silent and thought seriously for a while. Finally, he wrote it down in a piece of paper and read it to Candy.

"I met you in the past and I loved you.

I meet you now and I still love you.

I will love you again if we ever meet in the future,

I love you forever."

"I am a book seller not a poet, but what do you think?" He grinned. Candy loved it so much. She's very impressed of her multi-talented man.

Finally Candy said, "So are you really the one who makes the Leagan family rich?" She laughed.

"My grandfather did, I shouldn't take too much credit for that. He'll really do very big things later in his life. He'll become a timber baron, media mogul, owner of publishing company among other things. If not, my mom would not even care to look at my dad." He grinned.

"Who will be grandpa Neal's wife?" asked Candy.

"I don't know, I can ask my dad who his mother is. I doubt he knew as much details as we do though," he laughed. "I didn't meet them often because I grew up in America. I never payed attention to my dad's story either. I only know her name is Hilda."

"My name here is Hilda Candice," said Candy.

"Oh? I didn't know that," said Neal.

"Your neighbor's daughter is also Hilda," said Candy with a suspicious look.

"It doesn't matter. I know many neighbors whose name is Hilda. According to the book, we and them are totally different people. We have our own future and will create our own path. Maybe this world Candy will marry this world Terry eventually, who knows?" said Neal. *

Just like to the ones who went back to the future, the people left in the past needed to have true love to one another otherwise they'd lose memory about everything that happened to each other.

He hugged Candy, "I don't know which woman or which Hilda will be grandpa Neal Leagan's wife but I know who Neal Leagans's wife will be. It's you. I only want to marry you."

Candy was very happy to hear that. They discussed and talked until sunrise. Without they realized it, outside was already bright and the sun was out. Candy then planned to go home.

"My coach has been waiting outside since last night," she laughed.

They parted with high hopes, excited they'd go back to the world they really belong. Neal would pick up Candy tonight outside the mansion at the side gate.

-0-0-0-0

That night Neal planned to say good bye to his parents. When he was at the doorway of their rooms, however, he stopped. He didn't know how to do it. He's afraid he couldn't hold himself not to cry. His heart ached thinking that he'd never meet them again. At the end, he ended up sitting in the living room and did some work to ensure they'd be fine after he left. Before going to bed, his mother came to approach him.

"You are still up, Neal," said his mother. "You should go to bed, don't work too hard."

"I am doing accounting," said Neal. "Mother, our business is doing fine. If it continued being like this, I could hire a servant to help you doing house chores."

His mother laughed, "I am just a simple woman, I never dreamed to have a servant."

Then she said more seriously, "I know we can count on you, son. I always do. But go to bed, don't work too hard. I'd rather see you healthy then working too hard to hire me a servant."

"Mother, take good care of yourself and father. Remember that I really love both of you so much," said Neal. He tried so hard for his voice not to break and to shed a tear. He wanted so much to hug her and tell her that he's leaving, but of course he couldn't do it. As written in the book, the time travel had to be kept secret from anyone or he and Candy would always be separated in time.

"You behave as though you're going to leave, Honey," his mother Martha gave him a scrutinizing look. "Oh, our neighbor told us about that pretty girl who accompanied you the other day."

Instinctively, she wondered if Neal planned to marry her and moved out from their house. "It indeed would be thrilling to see you give us a grandchild, Neal." She said with a motherly smile.

Neal blushed.

He laughed and said, "She's my old friend. Oh, by the way is father still up?" Neal tried to avoid the topic of him going away somewhere.

"He's on the bed reading," said his mother.

Neal went to see his father. He stood at the doorway and stared at the old man for a while. Even with that frail body, he worked hard, suppressing the pain and carried loads until he finally collapsed trying to support them all. What an honorable husband and father. After a while his father noticed Neal's presence.

Neal smiled at him. He went inside and told him about his plan to expand the store. "Father, I've arranged to move our bookstore to a more spacious building in a better location. It'll have sunlight in the morning. You'll have your own space to rest too when you are in store."

Aaron was very happy and proud of his son. He tried to sit. Neal hurriedly supported him to help him sit on the bed. He hugged Neal. Neal felt happy he could do something more for the old man before he left. Seeing how frail he was, it made him relieved that this old man's son would do more, in fact, much more for him later.

That night after his parents slept, Neal quietly went outside to meet Candy. As soon as he was outside, he cried. His heart was heavy thinking about his parents. Simple people with noble hearts who made him see his purpose of life. He loved them so much. He owed them the world. Without them, he would be forever the spoiled Neal with no future and direction. While seeing the neighbors' houses, he thought about his neighbors too. They had been wonderful friends whom he would never forget. They taught him the true value of genuine friendship. On the way, he stopped by to meet his horse. He patted it and fed it directly from his hand. He hugged his horse and said good bye in tears, thanking it for helping him to earn his first income and be his first business partner. He said good bye to everyone silently one more time. He promised he would never forget them and would miss them all. Finally, he really went to meet Candy who already waited for him.

Neal went to the side gate and whistled like an owl three times as the sign that he'd arrived. Candy whistled back. She had been waiting for him up in the tree. She climbed down using one branch of the tree to meet him outside. They hugged. They then hurriedly went inside the nearby woods.

"I'm sorry for keeping you waiting," Neal said after they're far enough from anyone to hear. "My heart was heavy to say good bye to my parents. They mean so much to me and also my friends, my horse, ..." He sighed.

Candy hugged him to show her sympathy. "Thanks for letting them go and accompanying me going back home."

Neal cradled Candy's cheeks with his both hands. Among the darkness of the night, his honey eyes tried to look at hers with the tenderest affection.

He said, "I love you. The time for us to travel back to our time should come at any moment now. Let me kiss you until the time comes. I am afraid I won't have that opportunity anymore once we return."

Suddenly he's worried of all messy problems he'd face back home. He was a rotten spoiled kid who was not in good terms with many people especially Candy. What if he lost her. In desperation, silent drops of tears crawled out of his eyes, one after another, soon they turned into a flowing stream of heartache that ran down his face and dripped from his chin. Feeling the warm water droplets dripping on her hands, she realized that he's crying.

"I love you, Neal. Don't worry, I'll prove you soon that my love to you is deeper than what you thought," Candy wiped his tears and kissed him.

Neal was worried that this would be their final kiss and that Candy would be gone for good. He kissed her as if it's their last kiss, like they wouldn't kiss anymore. Tears flew non-stoppable in his face. Suddenly, everything was spinning and became blurry.

BBBBBBBBBBBBBBZzzzzzzzzzz...

-TO BE CONTINUED-

So much for traveling in time :O Can't talk much more than disruption in space time continuum. Hahaha...

Thanks for reading.

NOTE:

+ Neal found the book accidentally in chapter 7.

* Terry and Candy of the past has an open ending. Everyone has their own future which they need to carve.

Chapter 10

...BBzzzzzz

One day in Chicago, Spring of 1918...

When all cleared up, Neal heard James' voice.

"Mr. Leagan, Ms. Candy is here," said James.

James, Neal thought. He nodded dismissing James.

Neal then looked at the surrounding which he recognized as one of the Leagan's empty mansions. He also noticed he's wearing his usual immaculate white shirt, dark blue suite, and the matching tie. He noticed how clean his hands were, too.

I am back to be the real me. I am back in the empty mansion just before I went to the past! * Candy should come here at any moment!

Almost immediately, then, Neal was thinking of his parents in the past. Great grandma Martha and great grandpa Aaron, I will not disappoint you. I will make you proud of me. I will continue the work of your son, grandpa Neal Leagan and will be a worthy man carrying his name. I promise you all, he sincerely thought of them. He almost cried as he emotionally thought of them when he heard footsteps of someone coming.

Candy entered.

"Terry?" Neal heard Candy's voice.

"Candy, oh Candy," shouted Neal excitedly and ran to kiss her. But, Candy pushed him with all energy she had and ran outside. Unexpected to the push, Neal lost his balance and fell.

"You lied to me, the driver said I'd meet Terry not you," Candy shouted angrily.

Suddenly Neal remembered what's written in the book, "Only one person remembers about the time travel..."

He thought, Oh my gosh, that's right, only one person remembers. Since I remember, it means she forgot!

While Neal tried to get up, Candy used the opportunity to run fast outside.

Neal grabbed one light and hurriedly went outside to chase her. He's worried he couldn't catch her in time. He only had five minutes to remind her about their love in the past. He hurriedly went to search for Candy outside. Too bad, even with a full moon and light in his hand, it's still hard to look for Candy in the dark. He was so panicked, he tried to listen to her footstep but he couldn't hear anything either.

Meanwhile, Candy was very terror-stricken. She tried to make her move as quiet as possible so Neal couldn't hear her. After a while she stopped walking to study her whereabouts. She stood silently in the dark feeling terrified. Then, she saw a shadow of a man coming closer. She was so scared and tried to run away. Unfortunately, she stumbled on one tree's big root and fell. She saw the shadow kept coming closer and finally she saw the man. It's Neal! She was so frightened that she felt too weak to get up. She scrambled her way to get away from him.

"Get away from me. Get away from me !" she screamed in horror. She was frightened to what he'd do to her especially that she's alone, far away from anyone.

Unexpectedly, she saw Neal stopped walking. She saw him drop down on his knees.

"Candy, please give me two minutes, just two minutes. I will kneel right here unmoved. But, let me talk to you uninterruptedly for two minutes, please," begged Neal.

He was desperate. The clock kept ticking and he had not made any improvement.

Candy looked at his face. Strangely, unlike usually when she'd just ignore him, this time like being held by an invincible hand, she didn't feel like running away. Something within her made her feel touched to see his frantic desperate face and agree to listen as he said. She sat silently in the dark, listening.

"We traveled back in time and we fell in love. You agreed to be my wife," Neal said. His voice was trembling fearing so much of losing her. He tried hard to remain calm and to deliver his words clearly to her.

Candy was astounded. She thought he's going crazy. Going back in time? I agreed to be your wife?! This man never stops to surprise me.

"I only have five minutes to read you a poem and if your love were a true love, you'd remember about our trip and that I was the love of your life. Please listen to this poem carefully," begged Neal.

"I met you in the past and I loved you,

I meet you now and I still love you.

I will love you again if we ever meet in the future,

I love you forever."

He looked at her desperately and his voice broke as he said, "I love you Candy, please come back to me."

Candy was silent for a moment which seemed like hours to Neal. As soon as he finished talking, a train of images suddenly passed trough her brain, everything spinned, ..., Bbzz-ed..., finally she felt she'd just woken up from a deep long sleep.

"Neal?" said Candy. "Neal! Yes, you are my Neal, my dear bookseller! I remember!" She ran to hug him.

"Candy!" Neal shouted happily as he received her in his arms. "You remember, you remember! "

The joy was almost unbearable. The poem worked! She remembered! That also meant, her love to him was indeed a real true love!

"You really do love me!" he said happily.

"I told you but you didn't believe me," said Candy wrapped up in his arms.

They kissed, laughed and cheered merrily to celebrate their triumphal return. The experience was surreal and just like a fiction.

"Candy, I will not disappoint you. Let me say this again, marry me please. I promise I will love you always and take care of you," Neal said affectionately after they cooled down. "I will be good to you and be a worthy person just like grandpa Neal." Neal added very seriously.

Unexpected to him, Candy bursted to laughter. "Ha ha," she laughed out loud.

"What?" he asked curiously. "Do you disagree? Do you prefer the naughty Neal?"

"I want to marry you." She giggled. "I am laughing at your face and suite which remind me of that naughty Neal, but now is a different person." She laughed out loud. "The past few months I have been seeing you in a totally different attire." She grinned really widely and tried so much to stop laughing.

Neal grinned seeing her face.

"You don't even have your sexy beard anymore," said Candy touching his smooth face.

"If you want, I can grow it for you," Neal said. He looked at her tenderly and put his hands around her neck gently caressing her.

"Your hands are much softer, too."

"Which one do you like better?" he asked.

"I love you however you are. But, I probably love your working shirt in the past world better because I could touch your chest," she grinned naughtily then added, "Oh my, I love the smell of your cologne." She pulled him and kissed him hungrily.

Before Neal could respond, they heard someone calling, "Candy! Candy."

"Oh, it's Albert," said Candy. "Albert, I am here!"

"Candy, are you alright?" asked Albert. He looked at Neal suspiciously.

"Albert, this is Neal." This was the first time they met. Candy introduced the two men formally, they shook hands.

"He proposed to me. I am getting married!" said Candy beaming.

What? Proposed to you in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night? You two undoubtedly belong to each other, Albert thought.

Albert tried hard to suppress his surprise and looked natural. "Oh, congratulations," he said hurriedly. "I didn't mean to interrupt, but you were not home until late and a neighbor said you went out with an unknown man, so I was looking for you."

"How did you get here?" asked Candy.

"With my car, but it broke down now," said Albert.

"James can take us home," said Neal cutting into the conversation.

"Okay thanks," said Albert. "Let me get some my stuffs first from my car."

When Albert was far enough from hearing them, Neal whispered, "Don't you think he is strikingly similar to that of Sir William, your father in the past?"

"I have thought so, too. I noticed that since the first time I saw Sir William," whispered Candy back.

In the car, Albert couldn't help to examine the pair. He found it amusing seeing Candy sat so closed to Neal. Although it's his first time meeting with Neal, he learned a lot about his infamousness from his cousins and Candy herself. It was just last night that she was complaining about the man. But personally, Albert didn't find anything wrong with Neal unlike all the complains he had been hearing. He looked like a serious type of person. Albert giggled gleefully in his heart. He never thought that Candy liked a thinker type of guy! Albert also found Neal to be pleasant, courteous, made the person he talked to feel appreciated, and other top notch characters totally the opposite of what he had been hearing. Above all, he seemed to be so much in love to Candy. Under the dim street lights, Albert could see him often looked at her and at that moment his serious air changed to a smitten look. His hand never lost a strong grip on hers.

Neal took them home. He said good night to Albert cordially. He then hugged Candy and gave her a deep passionate kiss in her lips saying gently, "Good night. Have a good rest, we had quite a trip today."

"You, too," said Candy. She put her arms around his neck and kissed him back. "I miss you already."

Seeing the two, Albert decided to enter the house first to give them privacy.

"I will miss you so much, but we will get married soon," Neal said and kissed her again. "After that we will always be together. We will start another brand new life again tomorrow. How exciting!"

Candy laughed...

-0-0-0-0

Candy felt very excited with Neal. She closed the door behind her and leaned on it with a bright smile thinking about her man. After a while she noticed Albert was staring at her. He leaned at the doorway with arms folded in font of him.

"Neal, eh?" Albert said seriously with a little smile, "Since when?"

"Yes, Neal. Suddenly I just saw him differently," answered Candy avoiding to mention the going-back-in-time story. "O! I can't wait for our honeymoon," said Candy over the moon.

Albert couldn't contain his laugh.

"I love him, Albert. This is it. I am done looking for a man."

"More than Terry?" teased Alert.

"Terry who?" joked Candy. "Yes, more than Terry. Not even one hundred Terrys can be compared to one Neal," Candy laughed.

Albert laughed. "Now that you meet someone you love and will be married soon, I think it's time for me to go and let that man take care of you," said Albert.

"What do you mean? Will you go traveling again?" asked Candy.

"Not exactly, but, I want to tell you the truth, Candy. I am the so called uncle William."

Candy was surprised, but unexpectedly to him she said, "No wonder! I won't be surprised." Then she added hurriedly, "Uhm I mean you have all the marvelous characters of that great man. You and your ancestors all are always so nice to me."

Albert looked at her confused but Candy only smiled at him and hugged him. "Thanks for all you do to me uncle William or should I call you father?"

"Call me Albert," said Albert with a smile. "You can live with me in the mansion until you get married, dear daughter." He teased her.

"Thanks, I'd love to live with you in the mansion! But for the moment, I think I have had enough of living in a mansion, I miss living in this small apartment," said Candy with a meaningful smile.

Albert looked at her again with a quizzical look. Candy just smiled and hugged him. "I should ask Neal to ask your permission to marry me," said Candy.

Albert nodded. "He should and he'd better do it right," he said with a very serious face before he smiled. They laughed.

"Since when did you gain your memory back?" asked Candy.

"A few weeks ago but too many thing were happening, I was waiting for the right moment to tell you and it' s now," said Albert. "Oh! One more thing, about your Prince of the Hill, I think the boy you saw in that hill was actually me..."

And so, as always Albert and Candy continued chatting for the rest of the night...

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

As soon as Neal came home, he immediately looked for his parents and sister. Much to their surprise, he hugged them. He missed them so much and was very happy to see them again. He then told them about his plan to marry Candy.

"You can't even work and you want to get married," sneered his father. "How will you feed your family?"

Eliza was very upset about his plan, too. "Are you out of your mind? With that Pony girl?"

Eliza left the room and slammed hard the door behind her. She should have been happy that her brother was getting married. But she couldn't help to feel hurt and jealous instead. He's her closest friend. She's worried that he'd be gone and wouldn't be there for her anymore.

His father shook his head and was about to continue with his reading when he noticed his son was still there. He expected his son to whine and cry to his mom begging to marry Candy. However, that didn't happen. Instead, much to his surprise, Neal stood straight calmly and apologized for his irresponsible behaviors.

"I have not been a good descendant of the Leagan. I didn't live to the expectation as someone who carries grandpa Neal's name. Please give me one more chance," Neal said seriously. "I'll do my best to be a worthy Leagan and be a good husband for Candy."

His father couldn't believe to see his son speak so eloquently and maturely with that much confidence. Unlike before where he looked downward or sideways to avoid people's eyes, this time he looked straight to his eyes. His composed behavior surprised him so much and made him not able to do anything but to nod. Neal's mother was surprised too but she's more captured by her husband's reaction than that of her son's. She tried so hard not to laugh. She promised Neal to talk about it to the Ardlay family. Neal thanked them.

"Thank you, Mom, Dad. Dad, I'll be in the office tomorrow at 8AM. From now on, I will learn diligently form you how to be a good business man," Neal said. He kissed his parents' cheeks and and went out to look for Eliza.

His father looked at his mother with a confused look of which she responded, "He is my son, as you said." She smiled with pride.

Neal knocked at Eliza's door and entered.

"Eliza," said Neal.

Eliza ignored him and pretending not hearing. Neal could understand what in his sister's mind was.

He came closer and said, "Eliza, you'll always be my beloved little sister. I'll always be here for you whenever you need me, just like before. The only thing different is I will be married."

He hugged her. Elisa appreciated his attention and smiled at him. She hugged him back. They then chatted merrily throughout the night like they used to do...

The following day, his father was so much in disbelief to see his son's manner to the clients. Not only that he came to the office early but also his business attitude changed so much that his father needed to make sure repeatedly that it's his son who's talking. He seemed to be a completely different person. He seriously treated his clients with the most courtesy and care! What his father didn't know was, fresh from the experience of the past, now he knew the importance of clients for the success of the company. Day after day afterward, nothing could beat his father's surprise to see how he was at work. Fresh from experience in the past, he now realized the importance of business strategy. His father couldn't believe that his son could even think not to mention conducting business operations with careful strategies and intuition. His business intuition was precise and accurate. None of the competitors knew that he first developed it as he sat on the street thinking how to earn more money with his books.

That evening, Neal came to meet Candy outside the hospital. He planned to give her the engagement ring. He got out from his car waiting for her when he saw a car coming and saw Archie, Stear and their girls in it.

Neal walked to meet and greeted them.

"Do you want to bug Candy again, Leagan?" asked Archie cynically.

"No, I come here to meet my fiance," said Neal calmly.

The four of them were looking at him surprise at the unexpected response. Seeing their faces, he grinned widely.

"Wow! Are you really engaged?" asked Stear. "Since when?"

"Is there someone who can bear you that much?" asked Archie surprised. " With whom?"

"Since yesterday. You'll see her soon. Let me give you a hint, she's a nurse," said Neal answering their questions one by one with a grin. "Why are you here?"

"Stear wants to show his latest invention to Candy," said Archie.

At this point they saw Candy walk outside the hospital. Archie was trying to stand between her and Neal but to his bewilderment, she ran passed him and went straight to Neal's arm.

"How's your work, Baby?" asked Neal softly but loud enough for the other four to hear.

"Fine, I miss you," said Candy back.

He hugged her and gave her a kiss.

The four of them watched with eyes as big as golf balls and jaws dropped so low they almost touched the ground, in shock. The last time they saw them, which was just the day before yesterday, they were still fighting like a dog and a cat! What could have happened? Neal and Candy gleefully watched their reaction.

"This is my fiance, Candy, " said Neal beaming with happiness.

Candy blushed with pride. She's really with the man whom she's really proud of, loved, and adored. It seemed so surreal. With the brightest smile she put her head in Neal's shoulder and held Neal's hand tightly with one hand.

Archie's heart almost stopped beating seeing that tender episode. Neal then put his arm on Archie's shoulder and said, "Would you like to congratulate us, Cous?" with one hand still holding Candy's hand tightly.

Archie was so frozen. His heart was inundated with so many emotions from jealousy, exasperation to astonishment that made him so speechless.

What is it that he has? How come he can get her and I can't!Archie thought bitterly.

"Absolutely," said Stear answering for his brother. "We should go somewhere to celebrate this. By the way, this is my latest invention, I modified my car so the trunk can hold two more people. It's equipped with seat belt and other things. Would you and Candy like to try?"

"Yes," said Candy excitedly.

Seeing Candy agreed, Neal said, "Yes, we'd love to."

"You too?" asked Archie in disbelief. "Since when?"

"Since today," he grinned but his face bore seriousness they had never before seen in him. In fact, they were so astounded to see his overall attitude which changed so much overnight. He talked with eyes looking straight and with so much composed stature. He's calm full of confidence and had a commanding air in him.

Neal saw them staring and observing him as though they were watching an alien. Seeing them unmoved, Neal broke the ice and said, "Let's go and try Stear's invention."

Reminded about his invention made Stear come back to the real world. He proudly brought Candy and Neal to the modified seats in the back of the car. The girls were still speechless. They looked at one another and determined to have a private conversation with Candy to ask what happened. Stear drove the car and Patty sat next to him. Archie and Annie sat behind them followed by Neal and Candy in the modified trunk in the back. Sitting on the rear, they felt some privacy and Neal started to look at Candy deeply. He had been impatient to talk to Candy to know how she adapted in the new world.

He whispered, "How's your first day ?"

Candy whispered back at him assuring him everything was fine and asked how he's doing too. They were so happy that they were together and everything went fine and smoothly on the first day after they came back home. Without realizing it, they stared at one another and for a minute they totally forgot about their four friends.

Archie noticed Candy's unusual silence and looked at her. He saw her and Neal were staring at one another lovingly. It's so magical.

Archie then nudged hard Neal's leg and said, "Hi, Love Bird!" Referring to Neal who seemed to be so absorbed by Candy. "Maybe you should try your magic touch to Stear. Tell him not to go to war," Archie said quietly so Stear couldn't hear it.

"Yes, Neal, please do so," said Annie who overheard the conservation.

"Would you please do so, Dear?" ask Candy.

"As you wish, Baby," he kissed her. Then, he turned to Archie and Annie. He gave them a reassuring nod and said seriously, "I will, I promise I will talk to Stear."

"How's the modified seat back there?" Stear shouted from the front.

"Great, with this we all can go together," said Candy

Neal offered to drive so Stear and Patty could experience it too for a more objective opinion. Stear welcomed the idea excitedly. They exchanged seats and six of them had a pleasant time for the rest of the evening.

That night after the other four went home, Neal found a private moment to spend with Candy. He knelled down on his knee and gave the engagement ring to Candy. Then, he kissed her deeply...

Neal gave Candy a ring which was not less breathtaking than the one the Grandchester gave to her in their time travel. When looking at that ring, he thought about how closed he was to lose Candy just because he thought he couldn't buy her a decent ring. Back then, it looked so impossible to buy one. He treasured even more the work of grandpa Neal. How much wonder he did from his humble beginning. He thought highly of his father who followed his work successfully, too. Neal never forgot great grandparents Martha, Aaron and grandpa Neal Leagan. In fact, he often thought of them, especially when he encountered difficult challenges at work. He especially treasured the conversation he had with great grandma Martha that night +. Her confidence in him motivated him and completely changed the way he had lead his life.

Neal successfully brought the Leagan enterprise to its new glory. His father was very proud of him which he showed openly to everyone. Grandpa Neal would have been so proud to see the work of the man who's carrying his name.

Candy of course married to Neal. She's so proud of her husband's never ebbing love and support. Their love and devotion to each other got stronger each day. They lived happily ever after.

*THE END*

NOTE:

* This is the same scene as in chapter 1 just before they traveled to the past.

+ Chapter 2: Neal's talk with great grandma Martha changed him.

Thank you so much for reading.

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