Love United

by MsCandyEmma (aka candyterry)

Chapter One

Author Notes:  I love writing "WHAT IF" fanfics, which is one of the reasons why I'm rewriting a scene that has haunted me since I was 10 years old.  This scene is based on episode 58 of the animated series, when Candy returns back to Pony's Home after leaving St. Paul's Academy, only to discover that Terry had stopped by for a visit to see her beloved Pony's Hill. Unfortunately, she just missed him and her heart-breaking dissapointment lasted with me for years. To resolve my own heartache and frustration over their agonizing missed encounter, I've written what I wished should have happened that fateful day when Candy arrived at Pony's Home...

"Terry was here?!" Candy cried out in surprise at discovering that Terry had just left Pony's Home after his short visit with Ms. Pony and Sister Lane.

"Yes, Candy. He just left," Sister Lane said gently and pointed towards the wooden table near the window. "That's his cup over there. I'm sorry you just missed him."

Candy walked over to the table and gently held the teacup in her hands. "It's still warm..." she murmured to herself.

Tears began to well in her eyes and she choked back a sob as she imagined him drinking his last cup of chocolate before leaving. She felt as if a knife was piercing her heart knowing she had missed him again, like that time she had raced to the port in South Hampton to prevent his departure. But she had arrived too late...

Sister Lane and Ms. Pony looked at her with questioning eyes and deep concern. Not since Anthony's death two years ago, had they seen Candy so sad and distressed. Did something special happen between her and the mysterious young man who visited them? Although he was courteous and barely spoke during his brief visit, they sensed a sad melancholy air about him. Candy's sudden and unexpected arrival from England prompted even more curious questions.

"How long ago did he leave, Ms. Pony?" Candy asked faintly while clinging to the cup as if it were his warm hand.

"Well... let me see," Ms. Pony began thoughtfully. "I would say not more than 10 or 15 minutes ago... Candy! Where are you going?!" she cried out as Candy dropped the cup and ran to the front door.

"He could still be here!"

Candy's heart was racing and she could hear herself breathing harder and faster as she ran across the snowy field towards the road at the bottom of the hill. Terry may still be around!! Oh Terry! Please be here! Her heart cried out.

She looked anxiously across the length of the road, hoping to catch a glimpse of his figure walking away. The snow-laden path stretched a few miles ahead in both directions. Nothing.

"Terryyyyyyy!!!" She cried out into the cold, thin air, hoping against hope that he would hear her. "Terryyyyyyyyyy!!!"

She dropped to her knees on the ground, unable to feel the cold snow beneath her. Not again! She sobbed to herself. Hot, salty tears began to roll down her cold cheeks as her heart wrenched inside her.  

The chilling wind blew her hair, tousling her blond curls around her tear-streaked face. She felt cold and empty inside as she folded her arms across her. She closed her eyes, and tried to remember his handsome face and teasing blue eyes.  Visions of their past encounters and stolen moments sitting across the lake and meeting beneath "Pretend Pony's Hill" flashed through her mind. She barely felt the biting chill of the wind as the memory of his face and laughter began to warm her heart. She could even hear him calling her name... Candy!

"Oh Terry, I can never forget you," she whispered painfully. She heard her name called again, and she closed her eyes, thinking the wind was playing tricks with her hearing. "I miss you so much... I can almost hear your voice."

"Candy!" The voice was louder this time and her eyes flew open, hardly believing what she was hearing. She turned her head towards "Father Tree" atop Pony's hill and saw a figure standing beneath it, his cloak billowing in the wind. She blinked with disbelief and rubbed her eyes. The lightly falling snow was playing tricks on her eyesight. Was she seeing what her heart was dying to see? She drew a gasp of disbelief as a flicker of hope sprung inside her. Her eyes weren't playing tricks on her! It was Terry! He hadn't left after all!

"Terry!!!" Candy shouted and began running up the hill. In her rush and excitement, she stumbled and fell as the snow melted beneath her. When she glanced up, she saw him running towards her down the hill. Her eyes became blurry with tears and her heart swelled with pure joy at the sight of him.

"Oh Terry," she cried again and quickly stood up. She ran impatiently towards him, a bubble of laughter escaping her lungs.

"Candy!" Terry called out to her as he met her halfway.

They embraced fiercely, laughing and crying at the same time. He suddenly picked her up by the waist and swung her around and around as she giggled ecstatically.

When he finally stopped swinging her, he held her close, his eyes shining with tenderness and surprise. "I can't believe you're here!"

"I can't believe you're also here! It feels like a dream!" She smiled broadly, tears still streaming down her face.

They stared at each other in silent wonder, neither wanting to let the other go, both wishing time would stand still. Terry brought his head closer to Candy and she closed her eyes in anticipation. Would he kiss her? Instead, his forehead rested gently on hers and she could feel his warm breath on her cheeks and lips.

"Candy... Lady Tarzan Freckles," he whispered softly with the teasing voice she loved.

"Terry..." she whispered back. "You haven't changed..."

"I haven't... and neither will my feelings for you," he said gently. His voice was soft and reverent.

"Your... feelings?" Candy held her breath, her eyes glanced questioningly.

His face suddenly turned serious and he cupped her face in his warm hands. "Haven't you guessed, Candy?... I love you... I've loved you since the first moment I laid eyes on your adorable freckles."

She gasped softly at his admission of love. Her lips began to tremble as the emotions she kept locked deep inside for Terry began to swell in her like a rising crescendo.

"You... love me? You really love me?"

His response was a tender meeting of his lips upon hers. It was just a soft brush of his lips against her own, so light that she could barely tell it was a kiss.

"Yes, my Lady Freckles... without a doubt, I love you," he whispered again, his lips hovering only millimeters away from her own.

Candy gasped in pure joy. He uttered the words that reached into her soul.

"I love you too!"  She responded with all her heart. "I love you more than anyone else!"

She saw the flicker of joy in his eyes and then desire. His lips covered hers instantly and this time she willingly accepted. She tasted chocolate...Terry's lips tasted like sweet, warm chocolate... and she was suddenly thirsting for more. Afraid that it was just a dream, she brought her arms around his neck and pressed herself against his warm chest. Encouraged by her response, Terry tightened his embrace, loving the feel of her soft body against his. They ignored everything around them, barely aware of the light fall of snow and the cold wind blowing.

Terry tried to maintain some control of his ardor, but Candy's eager responses to his kisses made it extremely difficult for him to think or behave like a gentleman! He broke off the kiss and explored her cheeks and temples with soft, seductive kisses that trailed to the back of her ear. Candy let out a small gasp of pleasure when he began caressing the nape of her neck with his warm lips.

"Oh Terry," she whispered, confused, yet excited at the feelings he aroused within her. Her breathing quickened slightly as he continued the sweet course along her neck. Oh, this was something new between them! She knew she loved him with her whole heart, but she never imagined that the physical part of love could be so powerful and intoxicating!

She suddenly wanted to return the pleasure. Standing on tiptoes, she pressed her lips against his neck, bestowing soft little kisses, yet applying the same seductive pressure.

Terry groaned with mounting desire and his head tilted back, allowing Candy to explore his neck more fully. "Candy... you don't know what you're doing to me," he said hoarsely, his breathing becoming faster.

"Hmmmh...?" she murmured against his ear and began to nibble it gently.

It was too much for Terry. He brought his head down and found her eager lips waiting for him. They kissed hungrily, passionately. She opened her mouth to him and allowed him to deepen the kiss, his tongue lightly brushing against her own. She responded to his teasing and soon they found themselves lying on the bed of snow, their bodies eager to feel united.

**********

Ms. Pony and Sister Lane had witnessed the couple's reunion from the house with delight and apprehension.

"We mustn't look," Sister Lane scolded Ms. Pony and turned away blushing as she witnessed the intimate embrace.

Ms. Pony peered through the hazy window frame and took her glasses off to wipe them. "I have never seen Candy so much in love before," she commented happily. She put her glasses back on and tried to look through the window again.

"Ms. Pony!" Sister Lane chided, feeling more embarrassed by the minute. "We really should leave them alone to their...."

"Sister Lane! They are gone! Candy and Terry have disappeared!" Ms. Pony exclaimed. She took a rag and tried to wipe the frost from the windowpane. "Where did they go? Do you think they're alright?"

Curious, Sister Lane looked through the windowpane from above Ms. Pony's head. She was right! A moment ago they were locked in a lover's embrace on Pony's hill and now they were gone--vanished!

"We'd better find them!" Ms. Pony cried out in alarm and headed towards the door. She grabbed a scarf from the closet and began wrapping it around her neck. She then glanced at Sister Lane. "Are you coming with me?"

Sister Lane wasn't sure if she should follow, but she was concerned. Maybe they had gone for a walk---but in this weather? Perhaps they wanted to be alone. She suddenly began to feel worried. "Ms. Pony--wait for me!"

The cold air greeted them as they opened the door and Sister Lane shivered at the chilling wind. "How could they stand to be out here in this temperature?"

Ms. Pony smiled, her eyes twinkling. "I'm sure they have each other to keep warm." She walked towards Pony's hill while Sister Lane followed behind her.

"Candy!" Sister Lane called out. "Candy! Are you there?"

They suddenly noticed a dark shadowy figure on the ground near Pony's hill as they continued to trudge through the snow.

"Sister Lane! I see something!" Ms. Pony cried out in concern.

"What could that be?" Sister Lane asked curiously.

As they drew nearer, they could vaguely make out the back and head of a man.

Both women stopped in their tracks, suddenly fearful. Sister Lane gasped in surprise. "I think he may be dead!"

Ms. Pony clung to Sister Lane's arm. "Maybe we should help---wait! Look! He's moving!"

"Excuse me...." Sister Lane cried out hesitantly, not daring to move nearer. "Are you alright?"

The man's head moved and then turned in their direction. Sister Lane and Ms. Pony gasped out loud in shock as they recognized Terry.

"Terry! Dear Heavens!!" Sister Lane cried out. "What happened? Where's Candy...." Her face turned as white as snow, then blushed beat red with embarrassment as she recognized Candy lying beneath him. She turned quickly around and made the sign of the cross. "Candy... please tell me this is not happening!"

"Candy!" Ms. Pony exclaimed, hardly believing her eyes. "What's going on here?"

At the sight of Ms. Pony and Sister Lane, Candy wished the ground would open up and swallow her whole. She wanted to bury her face in Terry's coat, but decided it wasn't a good idea at the moment. Terry smiled in amusement at their reactions and stood up. He helped Candy stand and gently brushed the snow from her curls and the back of her coat.

"Uhhh... Ms. Pony... Sister Lane... you've met Terry," was all Candy could bring herself to say. She felt her cheeks growing hot with embarrassment, but Terry appeared relaxed and composed. He had never felt more happy at this moment.

"Maybe we should all go inside?" Ms. Pony suggested warmly. "We have a fresh pot of coffee... or tea... or hot chocolate... whatever you prefer! Yes! Let's go inside, shall we?" She grabbed Sister Lane's arm and briskly walked back to the orphanage.

**********

Candy stared into the mirror as she sat in front of her dressing table. Her cheeks were flushed and her lips slightly swollen from the kisses they shared under Pony's tree. She thought she looked different. She felt different -- more alive and excited than she had ever believed possible.

She sighed wistfully as she recalled the events at dinnertime. Ms. Pony and Sister Lane had behaved as if they saw nothing and demanded no explanations. Candy was willing to leave things quiet for now and Terry didn't seem to mind. He had played with the other orphan children and entertained them with stories by Shakespeare. The children had laughed and seemed to enjoy his company. They had so many questions to ask about England and Scotland that Candy didn't mind that they didn't have a moment alone. She was just happy to have him near... in her first home.

Ms. Pony had insisted that Terry spend the night. She had a spare room for him to sleep in and was not going to allow him to travel after dark. Terry had helped her wash the dishes and teased her about the burnt muffins she had tried to bake for dinner before brushing a light kiss on her forehead and wishing her goodnight.

Candy touched her flushed cheeks and her eyes grew misty with happiness and disbelief that she and Terry were actually together again. "Oh, it feels wonderful to be alive with the man I love!" she exclaimed to herself.

She turned as she heard a light knock on her door. "Yes? Come in."

"It's me, Terry."

Her heart quickened with excitement. Quickly, she donned a robe and opened the bedroom door.

Terry stood before her with a tender look and a mischievous smile that warmed her heart.

Her heart began to race as she looked up at him shyly. She was happy to see him, but felt suddenly awkward and speechless. They had not had a chance to be alone since their passionate encounter under Pony's Hill that afternoon... until now.

"Hi..." she murmured softly, smiling in return.

Terry glanced at her nightrobe in amusement. The last time he had seen her wearing a robe was at his Scotland mansion during the summer. She had worn his mother's robe then, which he thought was a little too long and fancy for Candy. Tonight, she was wearing a soft, pink flannel robe which in her haste to put it on, fell loosely around her, revealing a white linen nightgown that appeared sheer and revealing. He found himself fighting the urge to hold her in his arms again and to feel her softness against him.

"Terry?" Candy looked up at him questioningly. His long scrutiny at her robe made her feel self-conscious about her appearance. She hoped Sister Lane and Ms. Pony didn't decide to wake up at that moment and pass the hallway. She was sure Sister Lane was going to faint with shock when she had found them in a rather uncompromising position in the snow!

Terry mentally shook himself from his thoughts and reached over to close her robe. "Is this how you greet your midnight visitors?" he teased.

Embarrassed, Candy retorted, "I don't normally get midnight visitors!"

Terry chuckled softly. He enjoyed teasing her. "I hope not. I'd better be the only one."

Candy blushed and turned her eyes away. She wasn't sure how to handle his teasing, but it flattered her at the same time. Wanting to change the subject, she asked,"Was there something you wanted to tell me?"

Terry turned serious for a moment. He had rehearsed in his mind what he wanted to say to her all night, but now that the moment was here, he suddenly forgot his lines. Not a good thing... if I want to be a stage actor, he mentally chided himself.

"Candy..." he began slowly then paused as she tilted her head to look up at him questioningly. "There's something I want to ask you."

"What is it?" She began to get more curious.

"I didn't want to wait until morning because I wanted you to think about it tonight before you come to a decision," he explained. At her nod, he continued. "I'm leaving for New York first thing in the morning."

"New York!?" Candy felt crushed. She could feel a small ache beginning below her heart. He was leaving her again! "Why New York?" she demanded quietly so that the children won't awaken.

"You know that it's been my dream to be an actor on Broadway. I'm going to try and find work there," he explained gently.

"Do you have to leave so soon?" Candy tried hard not to sound like she was whining, but she was afraid it came out that way anyway.

Terry nodded. "I'm afraid so. I need to find some work so that I can support myself. The sooner I do... the sooner I can..."

"I understand, Terry!" Candy interrupted him with a smile. She scolded herself for being selfish in wanting to keep him to herself. "You're right! You need to follow your dream!"

"No Candy, you don't understand." His voice was low and steady. His eyes intent upon hers. He placed both hands on her shoulders and gently pulled her to him so that their bodies barely touched. "I want you to come with me," he added quietly.

Candy breathed in a sharply. Did she hear him correctly? "You want me to come with you?" she repeated. Her heart began beating wildly in anticipation.

Terry nodded and smiled. "Yes. Do you think I want to leave you now that we found each other again? I'm not letting you out of my sight."

Candy tried to reply but he placed two fingers over her lips to silence her. "Don't answer now. I want you to sleep on it and tell me in the morning."

"But..." Candy began.

Terry shook his head. "No---I don't want your answer now. Tomorrow, okay?"

Candy took his hand from her lips and pressed it against her cheek. His hand was warm and comforting against her face. She nodded without answering.

She has the softest cheek, Terry thought to himself. Almost subconsciously, his thumb began to slowly and gently stroke her cheek. He could feel her trembling in response.

"Candy..." he murmured, his control slipping. I should leave right now, he told himself. She gazed up at him with trusting eyes, so full love and yearning. "If you keep looking at me like that, I won't be responsible for what happens next," he teased, but he was never more serious in his life. The desire to kiss her and hold her in his arms again was overpowering.

Candy wanted to hold him and be held by him again as well. She wanted it more than anything in the world. But right now, she knew that he was trying so hard to behave like a gentleman, especially under Ms. Pony's roof! She took a deep breath and reluctantly let go of his hand, allowing it to slip away from her cheek. The action suddenly left her feeling cold.

"Good night, Terry," she said with a small smile. She knew that he knew she understood his meaning.

Terry took a deep breath and nodded, trying to regain his composure. For a while there, he thought, he would have to marry Candy in the morning if he didn't leave. The idea pleased him, but he set it aside for the moment. "Good night," he said softly, his eyes gazing tenderly at her upturned face. Slowly, he bent his head and placed a light kiss on her nose. "My Lady Freckles."

**********

Candy slept well throughout the night with a smile on her face. She knew what her answer would be and she couldn't wait to tell Terry in the morning. She dressed in her warmest and most comfortable clothes and began packing her things when she heard a knock on the door.

"Candy, are you awake?" Ms. Pony called out.

"Yes! Come in!" Candy replied cheerfully.

Ms. Pony entered the room and noticed Candy packing her clothes. "Are you leaving already?"

Candy nodded and smiled. "I'm leaving with Terry for New York."

Ms. Pony clasped her hands together and smiled happily. "I'm so glad you two found one another!" Tears began to well up in her eyes and she pulled a handkerchief from her pocket and blew her nose. "Sister Lane and I wished so much for you to be happy!"

Candy rushed to hug Ms. Pony as tears began to stream down her own face. "You two have always been there for me, supporting me and loving me. I couldn't have wished for better mothers!"

Ms. Pony began to sob into Candy's shoulder. "We're going to miss you, Candy!"

"What's going on here?" Sister Lane peered through the doorway and witnessed the two in tears. "Is everything alright?"

Candy and Ms. Pony smiled as they wiped their tears.

"Candy is leaving with Terry this morning!" Ms. Pony announced.

"You are?!" Sister Lane was surprised. "But you two just got here!"

"Terry wants to find work as an actor right away," Candy explained. "We're heading to New York city together!"

"New York!" Both women cried out in excitement. Ms. Pony laughed and clapped her hands gleefully. "Are you going to be a famous actress one day, Candy?"

"Me?" Candy pointed to herself and laughed. "Do you think I could pass for an actress?"

"I think you can be anything you want to be," Sister Lane said proudly. "But somehow, I don't see you performing on stage...."

"Oh, of course she can!" Ms. Pony insisted, her eyes still star-struck at the notion of Candy becoming an actress. "You and Terry will be famous in the theater world! I will follow your careers in the papers and make a wonderful scrapbook!"

"Oh Ms. Pony!" Candy laughed. "I can see myself now... acting on stage with Terry as my Romeo...."

"Did someone call my name?"

Candy and the Sisters turned to see Terry standing by the doorway wearing an apron and holding a spatula in one hand.

"Terry?" Candy was puzzled and amused at his appearance.

"He cooked pancakes for the children early this morning," Sister Lane said merrily. "I must say they ate it all! It was delicious!"

"You cooked pancakes?!" Candy couldn't believe it. Terry never ceased to surprise her.

"You'd better hurry," he warned playfully. "They're going fast, so if you want to sample my fine cooking, breakfast will be closing in 5 minutes!"

Candy giggled happily. "Try and stop me! I'm hungry!"

**********

"My God--that was delicious!" Candy let out a sigh of content as she rubbed her stomach. Terry had stared at her in disbelief whe he saw her devouring 4 large pancakes in one sitting. She looked adorable as she stuffed her face, making her cheeks puff out like a chipmunk as she chewed.

"Candy! I didn't know you were that hungry!" He laughed.

"Neither did I!" Candy laughed with him. "You're a good cook! I think I'll have you cook pancakes for me every morning!"

"It'll be my pleasure," Terry replied, his eyes teasing. "But you'll have to cook me dinner every night."

Candy stopped laughing and looked at him with loving eyes. She wanted more than anything to spend her whole life with him. "Terry... I have my answer for you..."

"Candy, are you leaving us already?" Jimmy, one of the younger boys came running into the dining room. His face was tear-stained and his eyes looked hurt.

"Jimmy, I..." Candy began, then looked up in surprise as the other children came running in the room followed by Ms. Pony and Sister Lane.

"Candy, you can't leave!!! Don't leave us yet, Candy!!!" The children pleaded in unison.

"Now children, calm down," Sister Lane scolded gently. "Remember, Candy is only visiting us."

"NOOO!! We want Candy to stay! Please stay, Candy!" the children continued to cry and surrounded Candy with their tearful looks.

"Oh... I knew we shouldn't have told them," Mrs. Pony said regretfully.

Terry stood up and said, "There's no need to cry everyone. Candy isn't leaving you."

Candy stared at Terry in shock, wondering why he would say that. The children stopped crying and looked up at him hopefully. Sister Lane and Ms. Pony stood speechless and confused.

Terry smiled at the children and walked over to sit next to Candy. Curious, the children moved to surround them both.

"But Ms. Pony said you were leaving with Terry this morning!" Jimmy whined to Candy.

"I asked Candy to leave with me," Terri began to explain, "and she agreed because she didn't want to hurt my feelings! But... I'm a big boy... I don't need Candy to look after me. I see now that you need her here."

"If you need Candy to stay that much, I guess Ms. Pony and I aren't doing a good job looking after all of you," Sister Lane said sadly, appearing hurt.

"I suppose it really doesn't matter what Candy wants, as long as the children are happy," Ms. Pony added.

Sister Lane nodded in agreement. "Yes, Candy's happiness is not that important, isn't that right, children?"

The children looked down at the ground, each one wearing a guilty expression. Millie, the oldest of the children went to hug Candy. "I'm going to miss you, Candy! Promise us you'll come back and visit again!"

Candy stifled a sob and wiped the tears from her face. She hugged Millie back and smiled warmly. "Of course! This is my home! I can never forget you all!"

One by one, the children embraced Candy and wished her well. Ms. Pony and Sister Lane looked on with pride at the children and Candy.

"I'll get your suitcase," Ms. Pony announced as she left the room to hide her tears.

"The horse and buggy is waiting outside," Sister Lane added. "I asked Tom's father if you could borrow it."

"Thank you both so much!" Candy said gratefully as she wiped the tears from her face.

"We'd better go," Terry said gently as he laid a hand on her shoulder. Candy turned to him and nodded with a smile.

The air was crisp and the faintest hint of spring was beginning to show as the rays of the sun slowly melted the snow from the tree branches. Candy, Terry, the children , Sister Lane and Ms. Pony exchanged last embraces before they waved goodbye from their carriage. It was a glorious day for a ride in the countryside. It was a perfect beginning for a couple in love.

"When did you know what my answer was?" Candy asked Terry curiously, as they rode for about a half a mile down the road from the orphanage.

Terry chuckled and gave her a sidewise glance. "I didn't think you would leave, but when I saw your packed suitcase this morning, I knew."

"Oh you!" Candy pouted and playfully hit him on the shoulder.

"Hey! Careful now!" Terry laughed. "If I get hurt, you'll have to drive us all the way to New York!"

"We're not going all the way to New York with this carriage, are we?" Candy demanded in disbelief.

"Hmmm..." Terry murmured thoughtfully. "We could, but we'd have to spend the nights camping out in the woods. I don't think there's a hotel or inn on the roads that we're going to be traveling!"

"Funny!" Candy made a face at him.

Terry laughed. "Sister Pony gave me instructions on how to get to the nearest town from here. Tom will meet us there to pick up the horse and buggy and he'll direct us to the nearest train station."

Candy sighed in relief then smiled in excitement. "You mean Tom will be there? I can't wait to see him!"

Terry narrowed his eyes and gave her a suspicious look. "How well do you know Tom?"

"Tom and I grew up together in Pony's orphanage. He was later adopted by Mr. Cartwright! I haven't seen him for years!" Candy answered him, her eyes looking thoughtfully ahead as she remembered her childhood years.

"So... did you also have a crush on Tom when you were younger?" Terri inquired with a hint of jealousy.

"Tom?!" Candy gave Terry a surprised look and laughed. "Don't be silly! He was like a brother to me!"

Terry relaxed and smiled. "I'm glad to hear it. I would hate to have to punch this guy the first time I meet him."

"Oh you!" Candy groaned and playfully hit him on the arm again.

Terry winced and pretended to be hurt. "Now you've done it. I've lost my good arm so now you're going to have to take the reins from here!"

As he spoke, he handed the horse reins over to a startled Candy.

"You're serious!" Candy sputtered.

Laughing, Terry stretched out his legs and leaned back against the carriage with his hands behind his head. "I told you so!"

Pouting, Candy held on to the reins and proceeded to lead the horse down the road. "You're going to regret giving me the reins," she warned him.

"Oh?" Terry said absently, his eyes closed as he leaned back.

"I've never driven a horse and buggy before," Candy said simply.

"It's really easy," Terry replied calmly. "The horse actually knows where to go, all you have to do is guide it."

"Like this?" Candy said mischievously and cracked the reins to drive the horses into a gallop.

The sudden movement to a gallop pace caused the buggy to reel forward and Terry to lunge ahead, nearly falling off to the side of the road.

"Candy, what are you doing?!" Terry looked at her as if she had gone mad.

"I'm guiding us to the nearest town, remember?" Candy winked at him. "You're right! It is easy to drive a horse and buggy!"

**********

They drove slowly into the town, searching for Bailey's Inn, the place where they were suppose to meet Tom. The town was small and quaint, with a few shops and small apartments lining the main street. The people walking along the sidewalk glanced at them curiously. They made an attractive pair and drew quite an attention.

"Candy!!"

Candy looked ahead and saw Tom waving his hat in the air, signaling his location.

"Tom!!" She called out and waved back.

As they neared Bailey's Inn, Candy jumped from the carriage and rushed to give her old friend a bear hug.

"You haven't changed, Candy!" Tom laughed as he embraced her. "I believe you've gotten stronger!"

"I think I can still beat you up!" Candy teased, her eyes twinkling.

Tom glanced at Terry curiously as he stepped down from the carriage. "And you must be Terry."

Terry nodded and accepted Tom's hand to shake it. "And you must be Tom."

Both young men eyed one another warily like two lions who were going to compete over a meal. Candy bit her lip anxiously as she looked at Terry, then Tom, then back to Terry again.

Suddenly Tom threw his head back and began to laugh out loud. Candy and Terry looked at him in bewilderment.

"Terry, I've got to hand it to you!" Tom announced.

"What do you mean by that?" Candy demanded with a puzzled frown.

"I never thought I'd meet a guy who was willing to put up with you, Candy! I thought for sure you'd scare them away!... OUCH!!" Tom yelped as Candy punched him hard on the arm.

"I should've warned you about her mean fist!" Terry told him, and joined in on the laughter.

Tom dropped them off at the train station before heading back to the ranch.  "Take good care of her," he told Terry. There was a hint of brotherly warning in his tone of voice.

Terry nodded as they shook hands again. "Don't worry. I will."

Candy embraced Tom and held back her tears. "We'll see each other again, Tom," she told him.

"I'm counting on it," he replied and winked at her. "Don't cause any trouble in New York city!"

Candy winked back and giggled. "I'm counting on it!"

They boarded the train and took their seats near the back. Somehow, they were the only ones seated in the last car. Candy was glad for a little privacy with Terry. As the train began to move, she placed her hand in Terry's, feeling excited about their future together. Terry looked down at her lovingly and gave her hand a little squeeze. "Alone at last," he said softly.

Candy closed her eyes and rested her head against his shoulder. "Together, at last," she sighed happily.

**********

Terry gently stroked the soft, golden curls on Candy's head. The steady rhythm of the train had hypnotized Candy into an afternoon nap! He looked down at her profile and admired her long lashes, which almost seemed to sweep her fair cheeks. He adored her small nose, riddled with faint specks of freckles but most of all, he longed to sample the curve of her soft lips, which were so sweet and inviting at the moment.

"Wake me up when we're there," Candy had yawned before collapsing on his shoulder.

He kissed the top of her head and wondered what he had done to deserve such happiness. He wanted make Candy happier and the realization suddenly left him feeling uncertain. What if he couldn't make it as an actor? What if he couldn't find a stable job to support Candy? He didn't want to disappoint her. It would crush him to disappoint her.

The door to the adjoining car train opened and a young couple with a crying infant entered. The young man looked concern as his wife tried desperately to calm their newborn child. He glanced at Terry apologetically.

"We're sorry if we're disturbing you," the young man said.

Terry shook his head and gave an understanding smile. The couple sat with their crying child near the doorway while the young mother continued to soothe her baby.

"Hmmm... that might be us one day," Terry thought to himself. Candy stirred beside him, awakened by the whimpering of the infant.

She sat up and rubbed her eyes as she noticed the anxious young couple in the front of the car train.

"Sleeping beauty's finally awake," Terry grinned.

Candy smiled back. "Thanks for your shoulder. It makes a good pillow."

She turned concerned eyes to the young mother and her child then gave Terry a questioning look. "Is everything alright?"

Terry shrugged and shook his head. "The baby can't seem to stop crying."

The shrill of the baby's cries became louder and the young mother looked like she was going to cry herself. She patted and rocked her infant, whispering soothing words to no avail. Her husband looked on helplessly.

"Can I help?" Candy called out to them.

The frustrated couple turned to her with worried eyes. "Thank you," the young man replied. "But I don't know what you can do."

"I don't know what's wrong! I just fed him, but he won't stop crying," the young mother blurted out to her. "He's clean and dry and I don't know what else to do!"

Candy stood up and walked over to them. She had no idea how she could help, but she wanted to try anyway. "How old is he?" she asked. The infant looked so tiny and helpless in his mother's arms. His face was beet red from crying so much.

"I just picked up my wife and the baby from the hospital today," the young father replied. "We're going back home to Pennsylvania to stay with her mother."

"Oh! He's a newborn!" Candy cried out, smiling. She leaned closer to get a better view of the infant in his mother's arms.

The young mother turned desperately to Candy. "This is my first child. I'm not sure what I'm doing... if I'm doing anything right!"

"Hmmm..." Candy said thoughtfully. She remembered Ms. Pony and Sister Lane caring for a few orphaned infants while she was growing up and tried to recall what they did to soothe the crying ones. "You said you just fed him?"

The young mother nodded, her eyes filling with tears. She tried rocking her baby again, but the infant wailed even louder. "What am I doing wrong?"

"Have you burped him?" Candy asked, suddenly recalling the ritual burps and regurgitations she had witnessed when she was younger. When Josh was just an infant, Ms. Pony would feed him then burp him over her shoulder. She thought it was cute until she tried to burp Josh over her shoulder and he vomited all over her hair.

The young mother gave her a blank, questioning look. "Burp him?"

Candy smiled and extended her arms. "May I hold him?"

Sensing she could trust Candy, the young mother handed over her son. "His name is Jeffrey."

"Hi Jeffrey!" Candy held the crying infant in her arms and felt a sudden maternal pull. How vulnerable and precious he was! She glanced up at Terry who was staring at her intently. She wondered what he was thinking.

Turning her attention back to Jeffrey, she proceeded to hold him upright and allowed his head to rest on her shoulder. Gently, she patted his back. Jeffrey continued to whimper and then stopped suddenly as a loud burp escaped his tiny mouth.

The young mother and father gave a sigh of relief. "Oh I'm so glad!" Jeffrey's mother cried out happily and held out her arms to receive her child.

Candy lifted Jeffrey's head gently from her shoulder and then noticed with some consternation that he had vomited on her.

"I'm so sorry!" Jeffrey's mother apologized as she took her infant. His crying was beginning to subside and he appeared exhausted as well.

"Oh--it's nothing," Candy assured her and took the small cloth that was offered to her by the mother to wipe her shoulder.

"Thank you for helping," the couple said gratefully as they settled into their seats.

Terry was observing Candy with awe, pride and amusement. Her compassionate nature and her willingness to help others never ceased to amaze him. It reminded him why he loved her with all his being. As she walked towards him, he smiled and teased, "I'm glad you didn't vomit on my shoulder."

**********

The train stopped shortly in Pennsylvania and the young couple walked over to introduce themselves and thank Terry and Candy before leaving.

"Are you two married?" the young woman, Abigail, asked curiously.

Candy blushed and looked away shyly. "Well..."

Terry glanced at Candy in amusement and was about to answer when Jeremy stirred in his mother's arms. His mouth opened and his head turned to Abigail in a searching manner.

Abigail smiled in embarrassment. "I believe it's time for his next meal."

"Dear, we'd better go," her husband, Jonathan reminded gently. "Thank you both for your kindness." He shook Terry's hand.

"I can tell you'll make a good mother one day," Abigail remarked warmly to Candy before turning to leave with her husband.

"A mother?" Candy murmured softly to herself then felt a hot flush creeping its way to her fair cheeks. She never thought of herself as being a mother, but watching Abigail and Jeremy suddenly stirred an instinctive desire to have her own family... a family with Terry. She began to imagine herself with him and their newborn child.

"Did you say something?" Terry asked her softly, breaking her pleasant reverie.

"Hmm? Oh--nothing," Candy glanced at him, blushing and shook her head.

Terry decided not to pry. He could guess what Candy was thinking because he was thinking the same thing himself. Candy as a mother... as a wife... his wife. The thought filled his chest with a strange, joyful ache. He never thought of himself as a husband or father, but being with Candy now, he couldn't see his life without her beside him as part of his future and family.

He placed his arm around her and brought her closer to him. Candy looked up at him questioningly. Though she loved him dearly, his open display of love and affection was still new and unexpected to her.

"It's going to be dark soon and we have a few more hours before we reach New York," Terry explained. He glanced down at her in concern. "Are you hungry? It's been awhile since we ate."

At the mention of hunger, Candy's stomach began to growl. "I think we should," she nodded eagerly.

"Wait here," Terry told her and stood up to leave.

"Where are you going?" Candy asked curiously.

Terry smiled. "To feed my lady, of course! I'll be right back."

Candy leaned back into her seat and sighed. She glanced outside and noticed the passengers leaving the train while others waited to begin boarding. It would be night by the time they reached New York city. She guessed they would have to find a hotel to sleep in. A hotel!! Candy's heart began to race with anxiety. Did Terry plan on their sharing a room together? She opened her purse and counted her change. She suddenly remembered that she gave her money to Ms. Pony to help pay for one of children's medical visit. She didn't want Terry to have to pay for two rooms! That would certainly be costly and he needed to save his money if he couldn't find work right away. She bit her lip anxiously and wondered what she should do.

The door to the train car opened and Terry waved her over to him. "The conductor told me that the train will be delayed for a couple of hours. There's a good Italian restaurant nearby that he highly recommended. Care to join me?"

Candy smiled and stood up eagerly. "Need you ask?"

**********

The moment they entered the restaurant Candy thought she had died and gone to food heaven. The aroma of the freshly baked bread and Italian herbs wafted through the air, tempting their senses and seducing their appetites. It was also very crowded and there were already several people who stood by looking impatient and hungry as they appeared to be waiting for their table.

"I've been waiting for more than 15 minutes now!" One customer began to yell angrily at the Maitre-D. "When is my table going to be ready?"

The restaurant's Maitre-D appeared flustered. "I... I'm afraid you will still have to wait, Mister... err... Roquefort," he stammered as he flipped through the waiting list. "There is no table available yet. The delay of the train has..."

"I demand a table right now and I don't care how you do it, just do it!" Mr. Roquefort demanded and angrily pounded his fist on the Host's podium. The Maitre-D looked at him with intimidation. Mr. Roquefort was a huge man with a huge temper. He had a terrible reputation among the other restaurants that he frequented in town. As one of Pennsylvania's most infamous citizens, his wealth brought him a certain power and status which he enjoyed using at his liberty to obtain what he called his "personal rights." The Maitre-D's knees began to shake and his palms began to sweat as he anxiously thought about how he might escape from his wrath.

Candy and Terry witnessed the event with growing indignation. Terry could guess what Candy's reaction would likely be and he squeezed her hand to prevent her from interfering. But it was too late.

"Sir, if you're that hungry, you should go to the farm. There's plenty of food in the trough!" Candy exploded.

Mr. Roquefort turned his head and glared furiously at Candy. "And who are you to be speaking to me in that manner, missy goldilocks?"

Terry pushed Candy behind him and confronted Mr. Roquefort with an even stare. His protective instincts for Candy flared. "It's easy to pick on people who are smaller than you, isn't it?" Terry spoke in his usual drawl.

Mr. Roquefort clenched and unclenched his swollen fists at his side and his breathing became labored as his temper soared. The Maitre-D panicked visibly. The last thing he wanted was a fight in the restaurant between two of the customers!

"Please sirs, calm down. Allow me to get you that table, Mr. Roquefort!" The Maitre-D offered urgently, yet secretly hoping that a table had opened up as they were confronting one another. Oh never mind that, he groaned inwardly in desperation as he was even willing to pay another customer to leave a table to avoid a public confrontation!

Terry's eyes narrowed and his body moved into an challenging position as Mr. Roquefort stalked steadily toward him.

Candy met Mr. Roquefort's angry stare fearlessly then glanced anxiously at Terry, suddenly regretting her impulsive outburst. She really didn't mean to start a fight between them. Least of all, she didn't want Terry or anyone else to get hurt because of her! Quickly before she changed her mind, she tugged at Terry's sleeve and murmured, "Let's go, Terry. I'm not that hungry anymore."

But Terry stood his ground, refusing to budge. People like Mr. Roquefort disgusted him. As a son of the Duke, he grew up watching the nobility like his family use their wealth and influence to take advantage of certain privileges in society that they believed belong to them. He saw how the lower class people were often belittled and abused when they did not meet up to their expectations of service.

Mr. Roquefort moved to stand before Terry and Candy with clenched fists. His breathing was labored and his face appeared beet red from obvious fury. Small beads of sweat began to form over his temples and his nose. His obese posture seemed to tower over Terry and Candy. Curious customers looked on anxiously for a scene to explode.

Suddenly, Mr. Roquefort grabbed his own chest and a look of shock and pain crossed his sweaty face. He made a grunting noise and began to stagger backwards.

Candy gasped in surprise while Terry quickly grabbed Mr. Roquefort's jacket to steady him. The customers around them began to murmur in shock amongst themselves. The Maitre-D rushed to them in concern and panic.

"Is he alright?" he demanded of Candy and Terry.

Mr. Roquefort was looking pale and he appeared to be gasping for air. Candy ran to get a chair, nearly forcing a seated couple to move from their seats. The man looked like he needed two seats judging by his size!

Terry and Candy helped Mr. Roquefort to sit.

"What's wrong, sir?" Candy asked him, concerned.

Mr. Roquefort shook his head. "It's nothing," he insisted, as he still tried to catch his breath. "This always happens when I'm upset."

"You need to see a doctor," Terry advised. "You don't look well."

Candy agreed. "Yes! You look like you were in pain and was about to pass out!"

Mr. Roquefort frowned as he tried to unloosen his tie. Sweat began to trickle further down his cheeks. "I'm alright. Just leave me alone!"

"Perhaps a glass of water?" the Maitre-D asked gingerly.

"Just get me that damn table!!" Mr. Roquefort demanded, then clutched at his chest again in pain. "OOOh!!! See what you've done!"

Candy crossed her arms and frowned at him. "He's just trying to help, sir! We all are!"

"I don't need your help!" Mr. Roquefort growled. "So get the hell away from me!"

"Now that's no way to speak to a lady," Terry said coldly.

"Oh yeah?" Mr. Roquefort turned on him. "So what are you going to do about it?" He continued to clutch at his chest and grimaced as a wave of pain consumed him.

Terry fought the urge to push his fist right into his bulbous looking face. Candy touched his arm and shook her head. "Never mind, Terry," she said softly. "He's obviously a very unhappy man."

Candy found it difficult to arouse any sympathy for Mr. Roquefort. He was so mean and hateful that it would have been so easy to turn around and ignore his ill state. But something inside her would not move.

"You need to go to a hospital, sir," Candy insisted.

"I think they are right, Mr. Roquefort," the Maitre-D agreed quickly. The last thing he needed was to have a customer drop dead in his restaurant! "I will call for a carriage!"

"No!" Mr. Roquefort shouted, his breathing becoming more labored. "I'm not going anywhere!"

"You obviously are not feeling well, sir!" Candy told him as calmly as possibly. "If you don't go to a hospital, you could get worse!"

Mr. Roquefort shook his head adamantly. "No ! No hospital!! I don't care if I die! Just leave me alone!"

"We can't leave you here like this," the Maitre-D explained. "We have a restaurant to run...."

Mr. Roquefort tried to stand. "Fine!Then I'll leave! The hell with you all..." As he stood up, his legs suddenly gave way and he nearly toppled over Terry.

"Terry, watch out!" Candy cried out, frightened that Terry would be crushed beneath the heavier man's weight!

Luckily with quick action, Terry managed to catch Mr. Roquefort's fall and with the Maitr-D's help, they pushed him back to the adjoined seats.

"Just let me die in peace," Mr. Roquefort murmured weakly, his face becoming paler. He continued to take great big gulps of air.

Candy grew worried and anxious. Despite Mr. Roquefort's despicable attitude, she felt an impossible urge to help him. She glanced at Terry and saw that his feelings mirrored her own.

"I'll get a carriage," Terry told her and went outside. The Maitre-D sighed in relief and returned to calm the customers.

Candy knelt beside Mr. Roquefort, her eyes gentle. "You'll be alright, sir," she said quietly. "Just try and relax. We're only trying to help you."

Mr. Roquefort closed his eyes and he swallowed. Strangely, her calm presence began to have a soothing effect on him. "Why are you helping me?"

Candy shrugged. "Because you need it," she said simply.

He opened his eyes to look at her curiously. "Most people would have left me alone by now. Why didn't you?"

Before Candy could answer, Terry walked into the restaurant. "I have a carriage that can take us to the hospital," he informed them.

Candy took hold of Mr. Roquefort's arm. "Please let us take you there, Mr. Roquefort."

Mr. Roquefort looked like his was going to refuse again until he felt the warmth of Candy's hand on his upper arm. He couldn't remember the last time any one had ever touched him and spoken to him so kindly. The action made him speechless. Terry chose the opportunity to get on Mr. Roquefort's other side and help him stand. Together, they guided Mr. Roquefort into the carriage and saw him safely in.

"Please take him to the nearest hospital," Terry told the driver.

"Maybe we should go with him," Candy suggested, becoming concerned as she noticed Mr. Roquefort collapse weakly into his seat.

Terry glanced at her questioningly. "Candy, our train will be leaving in an hour," he reminded her. "Are you sure?"

Candy bit her lip as she looked thoughtfully at Mr. Roquefort. His words, "Just let me die in peace" echoed in her mind. She was reminded of a death that she had tried hard to come to terms with on her own....Anthony's death.

"I can't leave him like this," she told Terry, her eyes filling with sorrow and concern.

Terry stared at her for a moment then nodded in understanding. "Then let's go," he agreed as opened the carriage door.

Mr. Roquefort had his eyes closed and was mostly silent throughout the ride to the hospital. Finally, he opened his eyes, and Candy noticed a look a pain in them.

"Mr. Roquefort," Candy began, feeling worried that he was having another attack.

Mr. Roquefort shook his head, his eyes began to swell with unshed tears. "Today would have been our 40th wedding anniversary..." His voice broke and he began to sob silently.

Candy and Terry looked at him in stunned silence.

Mr. Roquefort took a deep breath to compose himself then turned his head away to look out the carriage window. A small tear escaped and trickled down the left side of his cheek. "We ate at that restaurant every year for our anniversary. She would always order the same thing...." His voice broke and he began to sob quietly, his huge chest heaving up and down."One day she collapsed at home..."

Candy was about to speak, but Terry grasped her hand and shook his head. Slowly, he began to understand Mr. Roquefort's anger and depression. This was a moment when he needed to be alone in his thoughts, alone with his memories of his dead wife.

Candy clutched Terry's hand as she watched Mr. Roquefort's emotional outburst. She bit her lip to control the stinging of tears behind her own eyes. She knew what it felt like to miss the one you loved who had died. No words could assuage the sorrow and the loneliness.

To Candy's relief, the hospital was only a couple blocks away. As Terry helped Mr. Roquefort out of the carriage, Candy rushed into the hospital lobby to alert the nurses of their new patient.

Terry looked up and saw that Candy was being followed by a few nurses with a wheelchair.

"How are you feeling, sir?" One of the nurses asked him as he sat in the wheelchair.

"Can't you tell I'm not feeling well at all?" he barked at her, then glanced up at Candy's disapproving look. He looked down and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "I'm having pain in my chest and my stomach," he mumbled.

"I see, well let's take you to the doctor, sir," the nurse said calmly and winked at Candy to thank her.

"Wait!" Mr. Roquefort said gruffly as the nurses tried to wheel him away. He looked at Candy and Terry, his face appeared unsure and uncomfortable over what he intended to say. Finally he blurted out, "Thanks," then turned his head away.

"You're welcome," Candy replied with a smile. "Just get better."

**********

They narrowly missed their train. It was already getting dark when Candy and Terry returned to their seats exhausted and still hungry.

"You haven't eaten yet," Terry said apologetically.

"Neither have you," Candy smiled.

"I promise to get you something to eat once we get to New York," he assured her.

Candy yawned and leaned against him with her head on his shoulder. "Promises, promises," she giggled softly.

A couple hours later, the train stopped at the New York train station. They took a carriage to the nearest hotel in town. Candy wondered how she was going to broach the idea of rooming together with Terry.

Before entering the main lobby door to the Grande Hotel, Candy stopped in her tracks along the steps.

Terry looked back curiously as he noticed her head lowered in embarrassment. "Candy, what's wrong?"

Candy put her hands together and began to fidget uneasily. "I don't know how to tell you this Terry, but I... I don't have enough money to pay for my own room."

Terry stared at her quietly for so long that Candy had to look up questioningly. "Did you hear what I said?" she asked.

Terry nodded and walked slowly towards her. "Did you think I would let you pay for your own room?"

Candy frowned in confusion. "I would never expect you to pay for my hotel room! It's just that I don't have enough..."

He shook his head and smiled. "You don't need to worry, Freckles. Come on... I'll get us a room," he told her and reached for her hand.

When they reached the front desk, the male clerk greeted them with a polite smile. "May I help you, Sir?"

"Yes, are there any rooms available?" Terry inquired.

The clerk looked through a stack of notes in earnest , then looked up at them with a smile of relief. "You are both in luck! We have one room left in the house and it's on the 7th floor! King size featherbed included."

Candy's face turned bright red as the heat of embarrassment flooded her cheeks. "Only one room left?" she squeaked.

"I'm afraid so, Madame," the clerk nodded. "You are both very lucky! Practically all the hotels and inns in the city are booked!"

"Really?" Candy and Terry cried out in disbelief.

"Yes indeed! This month will feature the grand opening of the Royal Theater in New York City and also the premiere night for the new Shakespearean acting group, the Stratford Troupe."

"The Stratford Troupe?" Terry repeated in interest.

The clerk nodded excitedly. "The Director has assembled some of the finest actors and actresses all over the country. Their first play, "King Lear" will open at the end of the month. You should take your wife to see it!"

Wife! Candy's eyes widened at the clerk's casual term and it sent her heart palpitating anxiously. She glanced at Terry who appeared calm and unaffected by the clerk's assumption.

"So, will you be taking our last room, Sir?" the clerk asked.

Terry nodded. "My wife and I will be happy to," he said easily.

"Very good," the clerk replied, feeling pleased. "If you will sign here please..."

Candy stared speechlessly at Terry's back as he signed the necessary papers to check them in. She couldn't believe that they were going to share a room together! The reality of it made her feel anxious and nervous. Of course, she trusted Terry to be a gentleman, but she couldn't predict what would happen if he took her in his arms again...

"Candy," Terry called out to her, shaking her from her thoughts.

"Hmmm...?" she looked up at him absently.

"The bellboy will escort you both to your room," the clerk announced. "Enjoy your stay here at the Grande Hotel."

**********

Alone in their new suite, Terry shut the door quietly behind him and glanced at Candy in amusement. She had moved towards the window and was looking curiously outside.

"I've never been this high off the ground before!" she said excitedly and opened the window to peer up at the sky. The night was clear and the stars seemed to glow even more brightly under the New York sky! "How beautiful!" she exclaimed.

"Yes, beautiful," Terry agreed from behind her, but he was looking at her.

Candy looked back at Terry and suddenly felt like a shy schoolgirl. She blushed and looked around the room nervously. "Well... uh... I guess we'll have to toss a coin as to who gets the soft bed?"

Terry chuckled. "There's no need. I'm taking the soft couch over there."

Candy smiled. She never doubted he would do the honorable thing. Terry suddenly turned around and headed for the door.

"Where are you going?" she wondered out loud.

"To fulfill my promise," he reminded her with a grin. "I'll be right back."

Candy breathed a sigh of relief at having a place to finally rest. The events of the day was taking its toll on her body and weary mind. She decided that a nice hot bath in the tub was what she needed desperately! The tub was ornately crafted and was huge enough to fit two people! The soaps felt velvety smooth and were scented with lavender and roses. She ran the warm water and undressed.

"I'm going to enjoy this!" she giggled to herself as she stepped into the tub. The heat of the water sent goosebumps up her spine. She could almost feel the muscles in her neck and shoulders loosening and relaxing even before she immersed herself into the glorious warmth of the scented bath water. "Oh this is heaven," she sighed in contentment.

A half an hour later, Terry entered the hotel room. "Candy?" he called out and placed the food and wine on the table. When she didn't reply, he walked towards the bedroom. The door was open and he peered inside. Candy was nowhere to be seen. He felt a sense of panic. Did she leave the hotel room? Where did she go? As he turned to leave, he heard water splashing from the bathroom. Instinctively and without thinking, he headed for the bathroom door inside the bedroom, hoping to find Candy.

His footsteps froze in their tracks as his hand moved to open the partially closed bathroom door. He couldn't tear his eyes off her silken, soapy back. Candy was humming a tune as she lathered the washcloth and began to scrub her arms and shoulders.

Terry viewed her delicate back from the reflection in the mirror near the door. She was a sight to behold and he could feel his desire for her emerging with an unexpected force. Since their passionate kiss at Pony's Orphanage, he had used his entire willpower to subdue his yearning to possess Candy completely. How he desperately wanted her, but he dared not show it.

Candy dropped the soap on the tile floor and she moved to retrieve it, exposing the length of her back and the curve of her breasts. Terry stepped back and closed his eyes. How was he going to manage the rest of night sharing the same room with her? He could feel his own body aroused by her nakedness, wanting to feel her warm, silky body next to his, breathing in her sweet scent, and tasting her softness.

Quickly, he moved to the dining table and poured himself a glass of wine. He paced back and forth in the living room and found the room to be stifling hot. Suddenly needing some fresh air, he opened the window to inhale the cool, night breeze. He breathed in deeply, gripping the windowsill, hoping to calm his desires as the vision of Candy in the bath continued to tantalize his mind.

"Terry?" Candy called out as she entered the room. "You're back already!"

Terry turned and glanced at Candy who was wearing a fluffy, white terry robe. She smiled innocently at him, her face refreshed. He could smell the scent of lavender and roses coming from her.

"Candy, where did you get that robe?" he asked. She was far too tempting in her state of dress!

"I found it hanging in the closet!" she announced. At the smell of food, she turned hungry eyes to the table. "Oooh! What did you bring to eat?"

After taking a deep breath for composure, Terry walked towards the table. "I ordered some food from the restaurant downstairs."

Candy was about to open the covered platters when Terry shook his head. "No, allow me."

Candy blinked and looked at him questioningly.

Terry grinned and pulled a chair open for her to sit. "I will serve the madamemoiselle tonight. You sit and enjoy your dinner."

Candy giggled and looked on merrily as Terry served a feast for her.

They sat together and enjoyed a delicious meal complete with fine wine. Terry talked about his trip from England on the ship and how he had met Cookie, the young boy at the dock. Candy told her story about meeting Cookie and their stowaway adventure on the merchant ship to America. They laughed together as they remembered the days at St. Paul's Academy and summer in Scotland.

Candy hiccupped, her face taking on a dreamy state. "I'm stuffed! The food and wine were del....delicious!"

Terry chuckled and took the half emptied wineglass from her.

"Hey! I'm not fini... finished yet!" she protested and hiccupped at the same time.

"I believe you've had enough for tonight," Terry said in amusement.

Candy stood up and leaned over the table towards Terry. Unknowingly, the front of her robe opened slightly to reveal the hollow of her breasts. Her eyes challenged him. "Don't think I can...hiccup....hold...my liq..liquor?" she drawled.

Terry averted his eyes to the side. She was much too tempting! Given her half-drunken state, she could easily be taken advantaged of. "Candy, maybe it's time for you to get some sleep. It's getting late."

Candy pouted in disappointment. She was hoping to spend more time with him tonight discussing their future together.

"Don't you want to talk?" she asked, her voice slightly pleading.

"It's been a long day. You look tired and need your beauty sleep," Terry said in a half-teasing manner then stood abruptly from the table. He began to gather the dishes and put away the food. "I'll clean up here. Get some sleep, Candy."

Candy refused to budge. She continued to stare at him, hoping he would change his mind, but he never looked up from his chore. With a resigned sigh, she walked dejectedly back to the bedroom.

"Good night, Terry," she yawned and turned to give him a wink.  "Sleep with angels."

Chuckling, Terry murmured back, "Good night and sweet dreams, my Lady Freckles."

After Candy closed the bedroom door behind her, Terry stopped what he was doing and closed his eyes with painful relief. He didn't know how much longer he could endure holding her at arms length! God, how he loved her and wanted her. But not yet... not when he couldn't afford to support her and make her his own.

********** ADULT/MATURE CONTENT**********

Terry was nowhere in sight. Candy ran through the forest searching for him, calling out his name. "Terry!" she shouted, her heart pounding. She lost him again! She heard a noise behind her and she turned around eagerly, hoping it was Terry. A figure in the shadows appeared and she ran to it happily. "Oh Terry!" she cried happily as embraced the figure. She looked up and it was Neal, looking down at her with fierce, angry eyes. His mouth curled into a sneer. "You'll never escape here, Candy!" he threatened and tightened his hold around her. "No!" Candy screamed and pounded on Neal's chest. "Let me go! Terry! Where are you?"

"I'm right here, Candy," she heard his voice through a nightmarish haze and her eyes flew open. Terry was sitting at the side of her bed, his eyes concerned.

"Oh Terry!" she cried and sat up to embrace him. "I had a terrible dream!"

Terry held her close, his face buried in her soft curls. "It was just a dream," he reassured her.

"I dreamt that you left me and I couldn't find you. Promise that you'll never leave me again," she whimpered earnestly.

Terry held her tightly in his arms. Candy was now a part of his life, his heart and soul. He couldn't see his future without her in it. "I promise," he swore solemnly.

Hearing that, Candy relaxed and pressed her face into his chest. She could hear his heart beating strong and steady and took comfort in the strength of his warm arms around her. She never felt more safe and loved.

"I love you," she murmured into his chest, her lips moved to the hollow of his neck to place a tender kiss.

Terry drew in a sharp breath as her kiss sent bolts of electricity through his body. His body became suddenly aware of their precarious position. He moved Candy away slightly and she lifted her head up to him, her eyes filled with love and yearning. The moonlight pouring from the window seemed to illuminate the room, but it paled in comparison to the radiance in Candy's face as she gazed tenderly at him.

"Freckles..." he said softly, his eyes moving to her inviting lips.

Candy moistened her lips with the tip of her tongue in an innocent gesture and she held her breath in anticipation. She looked at him and saw that he was torn, as if he was fighting with himself.

"Terry..." she whispered and drew her face closer to his. 

He needed no further invitation. With a desperate groan, he bent his head down and eagerly possessed her lips. His hand moved to the back of her neck while the other arm curled around her waist to arch her closer to his chest. Candy opened her mouth to his, allowing him to taste and explore the sweetness of her lips. Their tongues met and caressed as the kiss deepened. Candy's breathing grew rapid, and she moaned, her young body eager to experience the pleasure that laid beyond her expectations. Her arms tightened around his chest and she pressed herself against him, needing to feel his body closer to her own. Nothing mattered but her love for Terry and the overwhelming desire she felt for him. Terry groaned and forced himself to break off the kiss. He leaned his forehead against Candy's, taking long, deep breaths as he tried to control his ardor.

"Freckles..." he began, as his breathing returned to normal. "I should go."

Candy didn't want him to leave, but she couldn't say the words. She remained speechless as she fought against her own desire for him.

As he tried to move away, her arms tightened around him almost involuntarily. He glanced at her questioningly and recognized the turmoil in her eyes. She wanted him as much as he wanted her, but....

Her eyes implored for him to stay. The nightmare had left her feeling lost and lonely and she wanted to feel Terry close beside her tonight.

"Freckles... I..." Terry began, intending to refuse. 

Candy closed her eyes, feeling ashamed, and bent her head. What was she thinking, she scolded herself.

Terry lifted her chin and bent his head. He kissed her softly, his lips moving tenderly over her lips. It was meant to be reassuring, loving, comforting. This only sparked the flames of desire again, and in a few seconds, they were both kissing each other with an urgent hunger. Candy moved her arms around Terry's neck and soon they found themselves laying in bed together. Terry's weight upon her sent shivers of delight throughout Candy's body. She could feel him trembling in response and she reveled in the thought that she could arouse such ardent emotions in him.

"Oh God, Candy..." he moaned as he rained kisses over her face and neck. "I love you so much...."

Candy gasped in pleasure as his lips found a spot right behind her ear. "Terry!" she moaned and she tilted her head back to allow him to continue his burning exploration on her skin.

"You're so beautiful," he murmured against the softness of her neck.

Candy moved anxiously beneath him, suddenly annoyed by the constraints of their clothing. She moved her hands to his chest and under his nightshirt.

"Candy..."Terry warned, his breathing becoming faster. He groaned with excruciating pleasure as her warm, soft hands explored his back and chest.

He kissed her earnestly and she responded with even greater fervor. Their bodies moved impatiently against one another, both eager to feel closer than they already were. Her hands eagerly explored the warmth of his back with curious excitement, as if they had a mind of their own. She felt a growing sense of inhibition as she revelled in the sweet sensations evoked by Terry's hands caressing her body.

"Terry...Terry..." she moaned softly, while placing soft, hungry kisses on his neck and chest.

Somehow, Terry's nightshirt had become unbuttoned and she felt his warm hand moving just under her ribcage, slightly cupping the curve of her breast. She gasped in pleasure as his hands caressed her and she felt herself drowning in mindless ecstacy at his touch. They continued to kiss with reckless abandon, their moans of desire peaking as their bodies pressed each other in restless urgency. For the first time, Candy felt a gnawing, empty pit deep inside her just aching to be fulfilled. Her eyes widened instantly in surprise as she felt Terry's firm desire moving urgently against her lower body and a ripple of excitement coursed through her. Almost innately, she moved her hips forward towards the firm pressure pushing against her loins until a slow rhythm was established. Although they were still completely clothed, their primal action only served to heighten their mounting desire for each other. Neither wanted to stop... or even felt they had the power to.

"Oh God, Candy! I want you so much!" Terry moaned in desperation as his hands moved lower to grasp her hips, thus increasing the pressure of his thrusts.

By now, her nightgown had moved up to her waist from their bodys' insistent friction. It only permitted Terry to freely caress and enjoy the smoothness of her thighs. His fiery lips moved to the soft hollow between the front curve of her nightgown to kiss the creamy flesh barely exposed. Candy gasped out loud at the sheer ecstacy she was experiencing. Her eyes shot open and through her hazy gaze of desire she saw the effects of raw passion between them. She knew that she was naive about sex and the intimate things that occur between a couple. But with Terry lying above her in her bed, waiting to share the delights that passionate love could offer, Candy suddenly realized with jolting reality, that her blind desire for him had made her vulnerable and uninhibited, completely mindless to the consequences of their passion! The realization hit her like a cold bucket of water.

Sensing a sudden change in Candy's mood, Terry lifted his head to glance at her still face, his eyelids still heavy with desire. "Freckles?"

She gazed at him with some embarrassment. She was thankful for the darkness of the room for she was sure her cheeks were flushed red at the thought of what they were nearly about to commit!

"Terry... I..." she began, not sure of how to continue.

He looked at her lovingly while fighting to steady his breathing. After taking a long deep breath, he kissed her softly on the nose. "You don't have to say anything." He moved slowly from her, leaving a chill as the warmth of his body left hers. Then he placed the covers over her gently and adjusted his nightshirt.

"Goodnight, Mrs. Grandchester," he whispered tenderly and gave her a gentle kiss on her forehead before quietly leaving the room.

Candy leaned back into her pillow with a deep sigh and smile. Mrs. Grandchester... she liked the sound of that.

Chapter 2

(1999) MsCandyEmma