My God, she’s so beautiful, thought Albert,
beautiful, sweet and so lively…Isn’t that wild hope? I’m her guardian now, how
could I even consider marrying her unless I gave that role up? My Goodness
Candy, I would give anything to make you forget Terry, Terry my friend, Terry
you gave up so courageously…
- Hey Albert, are you daydreaming?
Archi’s voice brought him back to earth.
- No, I’m just fascinated by the lovely butterfly Candy has become.
Archi became thoughtful too; his memories brought him back to his teenagerhood with Alistair and Anthony, and all the misadventures they had gone though. How they used to squabble for Candy.
- But tell me, Albert, it looks as if you aren’t immune to her charm?
- Come on Archi! You know perfectly well that Candy has always considered me as her elder brother!
- Indeed, Yet, Candy isn’t a kid anymore and when you last disappeared, all her joy went off with you!
Albert seemed to be embarrassed for the first time. Archibald thought he had put his finger on the right spot. Albert, the Great Uncle William had fallen for Candy. He wondered when his tenderness had become a much deeper feeling. Candy got him out of that embarrassing conversation.
- Well boys, what is all this mystery about? Don’t you know that it’s not very polite to talk in a low voice when there are people all around you, haha!
Candy was radiant with happiness that day, all her friends were there too. She would have loved Anthony, Alistair, Patty and even Terry to be there. For a few seconds her deep green eyes darkened but Annie didn’t miss it, she held her hand gently and said:
- Isn’t it a wonderful day Candy? I’m sure those who have left still think of us, wherever they are…
- Yes Annie, you’re right, this is the most wonderful day I’ve had for a very long time, we should enjoy every second of this magical moment.
Candy thanked Albert in her thoughts, Albert, her prince of the hill…Albert who had always protected her, who had always been there for her…They finished the meal joyfully and the kids went to bed to have a nap, it was too much for them. Annie and Archi volunteered to do the washing up, Tom and Jimmy who had a lot of work at their farms had to leave quickly, but they promised they’d come back soon.
- What about you Candy? What would you like to do? Asked Albert, It’s your day after all!
- Oh Albert ! How about going for a walk? Do you mind Miss Pony, sister Mary?
- Of course we don’t, my child! Go and enjoy yourselves!
Candy and Albert took the way to the hill where they had met the first time.
- You know, Candy, I’ve found it very hard to keep to myself that I had met you here for the first time, I would always fear to lose my fake beard hahaha, what would you have thought!
- I think I would have laughed good-heartedly, Albert! The first time I saw you with that beard I thought you were a grandpa!
- Haha, that’s true, even if I wasn’t older than Anthony!
- You looked like each other so much!
- I know, he was my nephew…
- I remember when I told him about my prince of the hill it made him jealous!
- Haha Candy, tell me what man who would be with you wouldn’t become jealous!
- Albert !
- I’m sorry Candy; I’m teasing you again.
- I could have learnt who you were, on the foxhunting day, if Anthony hadn’t had his accident. He had told me about another little boy who looked like him and was always with his mother.
- Yes, he was right, when our parents died, my sister and I used to spend a lot of time together, besides you have the same eyes as hers, green eyes sparkling with joy and which express your thoughts so well Candy.
- That’s what Anthony used to say…
She blushed at one of Albert’s compliments for the first time, but he wasn’t Albert anymore, he was her prince who had returned from the past and Candy’s thoughts were very confused, she wasn’t sure how to behave anymore, she was torn between the shyness arising from being face to face with her first love and the deep friendship that had grown between them while Albert was recovering. Candy lay at the bottom of the big oak. Albert sat down, took his bagpipes and started playing…My God, so many memories were coming up, a hill, a young man playing music…Little by little, faces were merging and melting in her head, softly rocked by this melancholic melody. Albert stopped playing and gazed at Candy. Candice White Ardley…
- Albert ?
- Yes Candy ?
- When you left the apartment in Chicago, I feared so much I might not see you again!
- Don’t worry Candy; I will always be there for you!
Candy's little sentence lit in Albert’s heart a flame of hope.
- I can’t stand notes to say goodbye, you know, It reminds me of very bad memories. Promise me you’ll never do it again.
- I will never, I promise.
- But you haven’t kept your word; can you remember our picnic near the lake in Chicago? You left me! Then Alistair died…!
Candy started crying, Albert hesitated for a second, then he gently took her in his arms, God, it felt so good to have her in his arms, he wanted so much to win her heart and make her forget all the years of pain. He gently stroked her hair, its fragrance was reminding him of his dear sister’s roses. Candy could feel Albert’s warm body against her and his stroking her hair. Then, he very gently lifted her chin as he was gazing at her very tenderly and said:
- You’re so much prettier when you laugh than when you cry sweet Candy, I promise I will never disappoint you nor leave you again if that’s what you wish for.
- Oh Albert !
Albert had to struggle with all his strength to keep from kissing the soft lips that were so close at that moment. I have to resist…I have to resist, I have to conquer her heart first, change this picture of elder brother she has of me…God, How can I make her forget Terry…How can I tame this little wounded bird? With gentleness, understanding, and never letting her feel alone again. Terry had conquered her teasing her; Albert would his own way - as he was taming forest animals.
- Tell me Albert, do you think Neil will harass me again?
- Well Candy, a denial on your engagement has been published, but I still have to visit the Leagan family, especially Neil. Will you be by my sides when I go?
- I’m not really sure about this Albert…
- It would be an opportunity to tell them why you don’t want to marry him.
- In that case I accept.
- Good! And now what are you going to do?
- I don’t know yet Albert, I enjoy working at the private clinic very much, but I used to like Saint Johanna hospital very much too.
- You could work part-time in both places?
- Oh, do you think so?!!!
- Of course, I’ll go to the hospital to put things right as soon as Monday!
- Oh Albert, you’ve always been so kind to me!
- Candy, you deserve all that kindness, never forget how you comforted me when I was alone and suffering from amnesia and I’ve never forgotten the little girl I once met on the hill…
For the first time, Candy started seeing him in a very different way, He was as old as Anthony would have been if Anthony hadn’t passed away…Would Anthony have looked like him? Albert was extremely attractive with his silky long hair, his kind-looking face and his wearing his national costume…Albert was there, he was holding her hand, his hand was soft and warm... He was gazing at her dreamily. Candy unconsciously hoped he could see her as a woman one day, the woman she had become.
- In the meantime, Candy, you should take a holiday!
- A holiday? I’m not tired!!! Candy looked at him wide-eyed.
- Yes, a holiday! I’m going to spend the week putting some order in the Ardley family’s business and then we’ll go on holiday! We’ve never had a holiday together, have we?
- Well …no…
- It’s high time to make up for the lost time!
- Where shall we go?
- How about Louisiana first?
- Oh that would be wonderful Albert!
Nothing is too good for you my sweet Candy, he thought. Archibald et Annie were already coming, breaking the enchantment of their tête-à-tête. Archibald, seeing them lying so close, so conniving couldn’t help feeling a twinge of sorrow. First it had been that lousy Brit and now, it was Albert who was getting his claws into you Candy! Annie was surprised and looked at them questioningly and Candy noticed it. Annie didn’t know Candy and the prince of the hill’s secret yet.
- Do you mind our joining? Archibald said.
- Of course we don’t, you silly bum!
- Candy and I have decided to have special treat - a one-week holiday in Louisiana!
- That’s great!
- Would you like to come along? And Patty could as well…
- Oh yes, I’d love to! said Annie and her face lit up with joy.
- Good ! So as everybody seems to agree, we’ll leave in two weeks! Candy, you should send a letter to Patty straight away to tell her to come over, my old room is empty now and I’m pretty sure both of you will have a lot to prepare for the holiday.
- Oh Albert, that’s such a good idea!
Albert winked at her. It was the first time she had ever seen him wink, it was funny.
At night, at Pony’s home, Candy and Annie were back in their small childhood bedroom and they could share their secrets again.
- Tell me Candy, Haven’t you noticed how Albert looks at you?
- Oh Annie !
- Come on! He had eyes for no one else but you during the meal! I’m pretty sure that even miss Pony and sister Mary have noticed too!
- Maybe Annie, but I’ve got a secret to tell you!
- A secret !
- Yes Annie, when the Brightons adopted you, I met a little boy on the hill, first I thought he was a prince because of his costume and I started calling him « my prince of the hill ». I was dreaming of him every night until I met Anthony.
- And … ? Please tell me…
- And today I met him again, that little boy was Albert!
- Oh my God Candy! How do you know?
- When he arrived on the hill today, he was wearing the same costume and he played the same tune on his bagpipes, I knew it was him immediately! Then he told me that the hill reminded him of wonderful childhood memories.
- Oh Candy ! How romantic! And now, what are your feelings for him?
- Well, Annie, it’s hard to tell, so many things have happened since then, there was Anthony’s death, then Terry…
- Come on Candy! Terry is with …
- I do know Annie, but I can’t help keeping a little hope.
- And frittering away your life and potential happiness?! You disappoint me Candy! I wasn’t aware that could let the past fritter your life away!
The tone of her voice that was usually so soft became so reproving that it made Candy startle.
- Do you seriously think Terry wouldn’t want to see you happy?
- No Candy, this time you have to listen to me, don’t close your heart otherwise you’ll never be happy, will you promise me?
- Yes Annie, I will try. There’s something else…
- What else now?
- I don’t know if what Albert feels isn’t mere friendship and thankfulness as I looked after him when he was suffering from amnesia.
- Come on, Candy! Open your eyes, believe me, Albert doesn’t look at you as a friend does, and even Archi has noticed that!
- Archi ?
- Yes ! He’s even taken me up the hill saying let’s go and see them before those two do something silly!
Candy blushed up to the ears. So, that was the way they were seeing them? She remembered that in Scotland her friends were the ones who had made realize that something was going on with Terry and this time again she wouldn’t have been able to see that a man was showing some interest in her?
- Candy, from now on I’ll be your advisor!
- My advisor! Candy almost choked.
- Yes Candy! First of all we’re going to buy you some new clothes!
- But Annie, I don’t need it!
- Of course you do Candy! You’re going to face the Leagans - your beauty has to make them speechless and I’m quite sure Albert will like it!
She blushed again, the idea to dress up for Albert had never crossed her mind. Still, he offered her a dress when he found her near the lake after the misadventure with Neil. Maybe she was right after all…
- Alright Annie! But it’s time to go to bed.
Candy et Annie went to bed as when they were little girls and Candy started dreaming of her prince again, but this time he was as large as life. The prince had become a very attractive young man. Candy was trying to imagine what his kiss would be like. Last time she had imagined being kissed it was by Terry. Oh my God Candy, what’s happening to you?