The name of a duke
Candy saw her two children approaching. Her son Anthony and her daughter Rosemary. They were smiling warmly. "... My whole life ..." Candy thought the moment they took her both by the arm and started walking.
-'' You missed me for a while and you’re worried?! '' asked them teasingly.
-'' ... Nah!’’ said her son cheerfully, although the clear blue look of his eyes, had an evidence of concern.
Her always serious, Anthony. Always disciplined and rational. Although his features were almost identical to his father and to his young lost uncle Anthony; his personality was entirely different.
From a very young age, he had showed a seriousness, which at times made Candy to be thinking, how happy she might be Great Aunt Elroy, if seeing that she had left a worthy, serious successor of the Ardleys.
Yes, he was formal and severe, but his heart was pure and big. "...he got something from his dad, fortunately!" Candy thought with a smile.
-'' Mom, we know that you are a restless spirit! It shouldn’t surprise us if you’d getting up and leaving for Brazil this very moment!'' said Rosemary and laughed.
-'' Oh!... Rosy’’
"... My princess ..."
Rosemary had inherited the bright green eyes of her mother, her spontaneity and her smile. The game of the genes however, had given her the ebony black hair of her uncle Stear and his brilliant mind. "... Rosy, she will understand me more easily... my son however ..." Candy sighed slowly as she recalled, hers son’s stubbornness several years ago...
She was at the clinic in Chicago.
It was a happy day. She had become a grandmother. Up to that day, Candy didn’t believe that she can love as much as she loved her children. But when she saw that day her grandson for the first time, her heart just couldn’t describe all the love that she felt.
-'' Mother, I like you to meet your grandson!'' Anthony told her overflowing with happiness, as holding in his arms, his newborn son.
-'' Oh... my son ... he’s an angel on earth!'' tears of joy started running on Candy’s cheeks.
-'' Terence William Ardley, this is your grandma!'' Added Anthony with a huge smile and gave the baby into the hands of his mother.
Candy froze. "... I heard correctly, or my ears are playing games?..."
-'' ... What did you say, my boy...?'' she practically whispered.
Anthony stared at his mother puzzled.
-'' I said the name of your grandson is Terence, but Teresa wishes we call him Terry, as her favorite actor Terry Graham! '' completed full of joy.
"... Terry...as her favorite actor... why not Albert?! Why? ... Why don’t you give the name of your father Anthony?...Terry ... Cannot say this name yet ... not in front of them ... is not ... oh what to do .... oh my god, Terry ... what have I done? ... Why I haven’t spoke to them some years ago..? Stupid Candy why can’t you see that the longer it takes, the harder it gets? ".
Candy in a superhuman effort not to show how much she was troubled, looked stubbornly her son.
-'' You want to tell me that, rather than give the name of your father to your firstborn son, you’re giving him the name of an actor?!''
-'' But mother, his middle name is William, I just ...''
- ‘’Just what?''
-'' Mother, you know how much Teresa has suffered in her life; you know how much weakness she has for Mr. Terry Graham... I didn’t want to spoil her sake!''
"If I know you say!".
-'' If I know you say! ... Who found her and brought her to the orphanage? You think I don’t love her?! But the child must have the name of your father!'' Candy said with green sparks coming out of her eyes.
At that moment came a midwife to pick up the baby, to take to his mother for feeding. Candy said goodbye to the little one and started to leave, but her son stopped her.
-'' Mother, I don’t think we finished our conversation.'' Now it was Anthony’s turn to be dogged.
-'' I said what I had to say’’
-'' Yes, but I didn’t, mother!''
-'' Fine, I ‘m listening Anthony ....''
-'' The name of my son will be Terry, this is what my wife wants, and this is what I want too!’’
-'' Do you think it’s appropriate, you from all especially not to honor the memory of your father?!''
-'' But I honor his name! I Honor his memory! The name Terence William Ardley, what‘s telling you? And after all, we aren’t giving him a random name! And you especially, you know what this name means, mother!''
".... My God, he knows! ... Anthony knows ..."
-'' No I don’t know! I don’t understand what you mean ...'' she replied in spite.
-'' I know very well that the actor you’re saying, he wasn’t just an actor for you... and for dad! Uncle Archie told me everything!''
-'' ... What did you say .....'' Candy got numb...
-'' He told me that you are old acquaintances, friends from school and that my dad was a very good friend of his!''
"... I’m not living this now.... Ah! Archie I will kill you! .."
-'' And to conclude, mother, I am proud that my son will bear of these two names. The name of the Head of Ardley’s family and the name of a duke!''
Candy realized that she had lost the battle with her son. When Anthony decided something, he won’t change it for anything in the world.... "... very well then ..." she said stubbornly to herself, "but I ‘m not calling him Terry!...Terry belongs to elsewhere ... "
-'' Brazil eh?... hmm nice idea Rosy! I have many years to visit Rio... shall we go make our luggage?!'' Candy said enthusiastically to her daughter.
-'' Yes, yes! Oh! Mom... You never lose your good mood...''
-'' Ladies'' said Anthony and cleared his throat,'' let’s leave aside for now, the exotic trips; shall we go to see dad that awaiting us from the morning …?''
They smiled nostalgically and the three of them started walking to the final resting place of Albert, the Ardley’s family tomb.
Neal after that left his sister in the hotel to get ready for tonight’s reception at Lakewood, he thought to pass by his office for a while, before returning home. The offices were empty at this hour. He walked into his office and went straight to the bar to put a large portion of whiskey.
-'' ...I will need the alcohol today…'' - muttered through his teeth when his gaze fell upon a piece of paper on top in his desk.
His secretary had apparently left the messages he didn’t get today. He quaffed his drink in one large gulp, "if I won’t die from it today, I never will ‘’he thought and took the page in his hands. Several messages that were leaving him entirely indifferent. He was about to crumple and toss the paper, when he noticed the name on the last line.... "Arthur Cook"
Where he heard that name before? He was trying to remember ... when he saw that the phone number had British code.
"Can it be..?’’
He grabbed the handset and called the number he saw before him. It didn’t take long to answer a male voice, with a highly British accent.
-'' Mr.Cook ?''
-'' Mr.Arthour Cook?''
-'' Himself, who is it ...?''
-'' Neal Leagan here’’.
-'' Oh… Mr. Leagan I was expecting your call... I assume that you know who I am...''
-'' If I remember correctly... yes; I had made you an offer via my partner a few years ago, but you had refused ...''
-'' I would say that things have changed since then ... if your offer is still on, I’d like to share with you some information ...''
-'' Well I think it depends on the information ....''
-'' Oh... but yes of course; However... it won’t be pleasant for you to find out from the British tabloids, right? ...''
"He knows very well how this game is played..." Neal thought, "But I know it, better..."
-'' Yes certainly it wouldn’t, but I can still live without them Mr. Cook, so if you don’t want anything else...''
-'' ... Mr. Leagan’’
Arthur felt that he couldn’t win this fierce American.
-'' I ‘m listening; a little briefly though, because I have an obligation which cannot wait.''
-'' ...Candy White Ardley ...'' said Arthur defeated.
-'' Now you see Mr. Cook…how well we can understand each other? '' Neal felt that the fullness of time had at long last, came.
-'' Yes, I guess ...’’
-'' My offer is the same ... and I'd love to listen to your song, I'm all ears.''
When his conversation with Arthur ended, Neal phoned to Eliza. He had no patience to wait, after what he heard, through Arthur Cook’s mouth...
-'' Neal, why are you calling me again? We said in a couple of hours to meet, I need to prep…''Eliza started nagging.
-''...Ah! What the hell Eliza! I wonder how, that idiot husband of yours the Baron, putting up with you! You never shut up?!''
- ‘’As long as I don’t bother him and leaving him, to has in his bed whichever he wants, he tolerates me!'' Said Eliza entirely cold,'' Will you tell me now, what you want Neal to be able to get ready?''
-'' Well sis.... we caught her! We have her in hand!''
-'' You will tell me everything during the way to Lakewood, in two hours be here!''
They hung up.
"We have her in hand!" Thought both of them, the corrupted siblings.
Most of the family members and friends were withdrawn to their rooms. A little rest and preparing for the evening reception were necessary. Especially when many of them had passed a certain age.
Terence of course had no desire to rest. He intended to take a brief shower and to get dressed, when the time he was going to his bedroom, he encountered Dorothy in the corridor.
-'' Hello Mr. Terence, have a good rest'' said the housekeeper with a smile.
-'' Thank you Dorothy’’ but the moment he went to open his bedroom door, stopped ...'' Dorothy ... Can I ask you something?''
-'' ...Please Mr. Terence’’.
-'' ... Well, I guess, you know all the staff members right?''
-'' Of course, this is my job,'' answered him primly.
-'' Well, yes of course ...''
-'' This is what you wanted to ask me Mr. Terence?''
-'' ... Eh... yeah…Eh… no, no!''
-'' Pardon me? You confused me, I’m sorry, yes or no?''
"Say it you idiot!" said to himself.
-'' A young girl... with blond…reddish, long hair... eh, how to say it…well I don’t think I've ever seen her before... here… of course, she may be a member of the catering ... so ...well''
"Ahh… what are you saying you moron! The poor woman, she will pass you for crazy!’’
Dorothy couldn’t help but smile.
-'' ... Mr. Terence, you probably meant Lucy...''
-'' Yes, she’s not working for us a long time; when she started working here, no one was in Lakewood.''
-'' ... Oh ... thank you ...'' he said to Dorothy abstract.
-'' My pleasure, Mr. Terence ''.
He went to open his door once again, when this time Dorothy stopped him.
-'' ...Of course tonight, she’s not working... the reception is under the responsibility of the
Catering services ...''
Terence stared at her for a moment with eyes wide open...
-'' Thank you, Dorothy!'' he winked at her and ran to his cousin’s room, Annie.
He knocked once and burst into her room.
-'' Nene! Nene!'' By this nickname, Terence always called his cousin Annie from when they‘re young children. '' I need your help, my Nene!''
-'' Hey Terry, is this a way to burst in my room?!’’ Scolded him, but smiled.
-'' You must give me a gown of yours! Fast!''
-'' You decided to make spectacular appearance tonight Terry?! Oh! What a joy for uncle Anthony to see you all dressed up like that!'' she burst out laughing.
-'' It's not for me! '' pulled his tongue out.
-'' ... Oh! Pity and I thought that I won’t get bored tonight... pff....''
-'' Nene... if you were a redhead, what color dress would you wear?!''
-'' ...Hmm... Definitely black to look sexy!'' she raised her eyebrows smugly.
-'' No, not sexy! She so sweet ... she is so ...''
-'' ....Oh! La laaaa...Terry is in love!'' She sung and looked at her cousin. '' Well sit here and tell me first how is she, this love of yours; and we will see what we can do!'' Nene took him by the hand and winked.
When Lucy walked in her room, at the staff’s dormitories, she felt exhausted. "What a day! Fortunately the evening we won’t serve ... ah my feet ..." thought and tossed her shoes aside.
She was ready to fall with her face on the bed, when she saw that on top of it was a lovely satin evening gown* in iridescent hues.
-'' What the heck ....?'' wondered. She went closer to the dress ... near the evening dress there were a pair of matching pumps and on top of them was single a white rose with a small card...
She took the card in her hands and started reading almost outside.
Would you like to help me
not to be lost at the evening's reception ..?
"Oh!" Lucy was dumbfounded. Mr. Terence was inviting her to the reception?! " Ahh… My Goodness! ... What to do...’’ Her sweet face, was about to take the same shade as her hair. "You are going! This is what you’ll do! " replied the crazy little voice inside her head and automatically formed in the eyes of her mind, Terence’s beautiful face.
She left a happy giggle and started dancing alone hugging the gorgeous dress.
My Fairy Godmother
While Lucy was in a sea of happiness, in another chamber in the same manor, a couple had retired to rest. Teresa Ardley was sitting in front of her Victorian toilet mirror, combing her silky chestnut hair. For an average age woman with adult children who might have their own children in the near future probably; Teresa was still an attractive and well maintained woman. Surely her beauty couldn’t remain unnoticed by her husband Anthony. The moment he came out of the bathroom stood there and admired her. She smiled at him slightly.
Her husband was her whole world. She would never forget the first time she saw him. His light blue eyes, combined with the few mischievous freckles on his nose, had enchanted her. She knew from the very first minute, that he was her other half; even though she was still a little girl back then. Just one miserable little girl, whose fate smiled at her and gave her a wonderful family.
With the passage of time, memories of her early childhood years had faded away.
Now with difficulty she’s even remembering her mother. Her biological mother. Every time she was sending her mind back to that time, merely like a dream was coming a female figure, with weary hazel eyes and sweet melodious voice. She remembered a little melody. A lullaby and those tired eyes looking at her with affection and love. But one day that female figure was lost and Teresa was left alone.
Dirty, hungry in a miserable wet alley of some slum, she sat and waited. Waited ... didn’t know how many days she was there, couldn’t even figure out; simply she waited for that figure that was not coming. In a blink, she thought to climb onto the gutter of the house behind her. Getting a little higher, maybe then ... maybe she could see her ... maybe she was coming back for her ... maybe she would saw her and then she would cry her lungs out “ I am here! ‘’.
With her dirty little hands she grabbed on to the slippery gutter; with her bare little feet she was pushing her body, getting higher up on the moldy pipe.
If she wore shoes, it would be easier the climbing, but in some bad luck the previously day, a group of brats ripped and removed her shoes by force. Little girl as she was, she was unable to do something to stop them.
With small pushes she was climbing higher and higher. At some point that she had reached, she could see the corner of the street. Today many people were gathered. She couldn’t understand what was happening, but she saw an overall commotion. Children with toys and food to their hands, they were running; adults were caring big carton packages that their contents were unknown to her. One was certain. Everywhere she was hearing voices of joy and not the usual quarrels that were being born by any chance at the poor neighborhood.
She turned her small body a bit, just be able to see better... and suddenly she wasn’t on the pipe! She saw the building going away back. Someone was dragging it to the sky ..?!Or maybe she was the one that was falling ..?! She was falling! She closed her eyes and waited to feel the pain, the pain was coming... but the pain didn’t come! Did she fell on a cloud perhaps ...?! A perfumed soft cloud! She felt warmth; ultimately she had climbed so high up... she had reached heaven!
Her face was caressed delicately by two warm hands. She heard a sweet melodic voice and only then opened her eyes, to see an angel?! She had fallen into the arms of an angel!.. No! No! Not an angel... she is ... a fairy!
-'' You're ... my Fairy Godmother ...?!'' she asked hesitantly but all hopes.
The fairy laughed with the most beautiful, sweet laughter that she had ever heard in her life.
-'' Yes!'' She replied tenderly. The little girl opened wide mouth and eyes from the surprise, filled in admiration and amazement.
-'' And who are you ...?!'' Asked her the Fairy Godmother.
-'' I’m Teresa, of course!'' Said the little girl with courage and her sapphire blue eyes, met the emerald green Candy’s.
She woke up from the memory by hers husband caress on her cheek. He was standing next to the toilet mirror, looking at her lovingly.
-'' Where were you traveling ..?''
She gave him back the look.
-'' ... Oh, I remembered the day that mother found me'' she said nostalgic.
-'' The meetings of the families always generate new memories and they bring to the fore the old ones…'' said Anthony and placed his hands in her shoulders tenderly.
-'' ...hmm, you ‘re right. ..''
"Memories ... and secrets ... there is no family that doesn’t have them both!" Teresa thought.
-'' Mother’s in a very good mood today'' said Anthony.
-'' And why shouldn’t she?! All those who she loves are here today to wish her and celebrate.''
-'' ... All ...?'' with indifferent tone she was asked by her husband.
She looked at him strangely.
-'' ... Why do u ask? Is anyone missing? ... Unless you mean Eliza and Neal ....''
-'' No! Of course not, I don’t mean them, Tessie!''
-'' Well, then?!''
-'' ... I don’t know, you tell me ... if you have something to tell me ...''
She was looking at him confused.
-'' ... to tell you what, Anthony?! As far as I know, everyone is here ...'' she paused thinking,'' Oh! Yes, our son Terry was supposed to be accompanied from that girl he used to date the last months, but I guess it didn’t work out for them, so he didn’t invite her... so ...?!''
Anthony leaned his face, a little closer to that of his wife looking at her sweetly.
-'' My love...why you and my mother, are both hiding behind your finger ..?!''
-'' Pardon me...?!'' She was gazing him clueless.
-'' To phrase it otherwise, my Tessie. Let’s assume... I say, let’s assume that I’m fully aware what my mother is going to announce this evening...''
Teresa got numb, "Anthony’s not stupid .... Straight the opposite." She went to speak, but her husband continued calmly.
-'' ... And when I say announcements, I don’t mean of the type that she officially will retire and will appoint the new head of the family. This’s something that almost everyone knows, is her wish for quite some time, anyway. What I'm saying is ... that today it will be the revelation of a secret...?'' he took her hand, waiting for her reaction.
Teresa lowered her head. This gesture for her husband, was confessing everything.
-'' No... don’t. Don’t feel guilty my love... I know it for years.''
-'' ... you knew…’’, she didn’t ask him.
-'' Yes Tessie, I had discovered it the year that Terry was born.''
-'' How ..?!''
-'' ... basically the reason for me to search it, was my own mother and her intense reaction about the name we were given to our son. I was surprised, I couldn’t figure out why it minded her so much! ...''
".. But I knew ... I was the only one who knew ..."
-'' Tessie my girl ... why are you doing this? ...'' Candy said softly, but in a sad tone and anxiety.
-'' Mother... I expected that you'd be happy with my decision ...''
-'' I am happy... but you especially know that I can’t show my joy... I just can’t ...not yet.''
-'' ... At some time, you should tell them mother... it‘s unfair... for everyone ...''
-'' ... I know it ... for everyone ...''
-'' ... Mother with all the respect and the love that I have for you ... I think he’s the most wronged ...''
- '' It would be a scandal ...’’
-'' He doesn’t mind about the scandals mom, you know that!''
-'' But I do mind about them... for you, for Anthony, for Rosy ... for everyone ... sorry Teresa but I can’t ...''
Making a short pause, Anthony continued.
-'' On the other hand, you were too so adamant about that name... both of you had confused me... Why that name caused so much disruption to my wife and my mother? ... I can tell you that now; I was starting to feel jealous! You had ... you were so obsessed with the predecessor's name; while my mother didn’t want even to mention that name! My brain was making several scenarios ....''
-'' ... Ah! Anthony, I’m sorry,'' Teresa whispered.
-'' Ssh ... let me finish'', he embraced her tenderly.
She stared at his light blue eyes, giving him the space to continue.
-'' Then I decided to see what was going on ... Don’t imagine it was easy. My mother though she was always affectionate towards us and always took care of us, she was closed as an oyster about her past life ... it was like ... how to say it…,'' Anthony almost whispered, '' It was like she had no past after father’s death... As though had erased years and years of memories ... except for a few stories and incidents from her childhood at the orphanage, otherwise mother never spoke about the years following her adoption.
After my dad’s death, she had changed ... Even though I was only a boy then; I remember that my always cheerful and kind mom had become severe, formal and inaccessible... She had lost her joy and her happiness. The few rare smiles she gave, was only for me and Rosy. At some point in time of course, at the same period she found you, became a miracle ... Mom regained her happiness! Her eyes shined again and we all assumed it was you the reason for... However, she remained secretive and enclosed. Later on I realized that she was afraid to reveal her happiness, even after all these years, it frightens her ... right ...?''
-'' Yes... You are right, she doesn’t want to lose her happiness again ...'' Teresa said slowly
'' Eventually what did you ... how did you find it out?''
-'' The first thing I did was to get as many information as I could, from uncle Archie ...''
-'' He knows it too?!''
-'' No, no, he spoke to me only about mother’s past. At the beginning he too didn’t want to tell me anything ... "painful memories ...",so he said when I asked him to tell me; but in a moment of weakness, perhaps because had passed many years since then, he told me everything. At least until to the point in time , that he knew.
-'' .. What did he say ...''
-'' He spoke about her adoption, about uncle’s Anthony’s death, about the Leagan’s. He told me about the time they went all together to S. Paul’s college; I already knew some things, about Grandchester being their friend at that period; but I didn’t know that he was in love with my mother and she with him!’’
-'' You were shocked ...?''
-'' Yes... a bit, but mostly I was shocked when uncle Archie told me that Grandchester abandoned her, for another woman!''
-'' He didn’t dump her, Anthony! There was no other way, he was obliged to do it...''
Anthony left a small chuckle.
-'' Where do you see the joke?! '' Teresa asked him startled.
-'' ... it’s not really a joke, it's ironic ... do you know that all them were in love with her ...?''
-'' All of them…?!What do you mean by that?''
-'' Yes, all the Ardley boys plus the Grandchester guy! Let me explain, uncle Anthony might be in dad’s place, if there wasn’t the horse accident, uncle Stear too loved her but always watched from afar, of course my dad at some point fell in love with her, same goes for Grandchester; last uncle Archie was always been in love with her...and I think he never ceased on loving mom. So in Archie’s eyes, Grandchester dumped her ...''
- '' You are right…'' said Teresa thoughtful,'' but eventually how did you find out what happened then ...?!''
-'' ...You won’t like what I’m going to tell you, my love...'' said her husband and bowed down his head ... She caught both his hands and looked at him with love.
-'' You think, I have the right to make you... a scene? Me? Who I was hiding this secret for all these years?''
-'' ...it wasn’t on my character, but I was so jealous!''
-'' ... Please tell me, Anthony ...''
-'' ... I told a private detective tracking you...Both of, you and the mother ...''
-'' ... and he discovered everything ...?''
-'' He must have been very good ...''
-'' He was ... in fact he was so good that he found out that someone else was tracing Mom!''
-'' ... Hmm yes, Neal also had paid a detective, and his was too very close in finding out ''.
-'' Oh my God ... I don’t believe he...''Teresa jumped up worried.
-'' My Tessie... being an Ardley may have some of negatives, but has also many benefits ...''
-'' ...What does this mean?''
-'' Let's say that Neal’s investigator wasn’t so intelligent... and unfortunately, money can buy many things!’’ said Anthony ironically.
-'' ...You’re protected us ...''
-'' Of course I did! I would never allow, that crook Neal to hurt you!''
-'' Thank you darling ... how did you feel when you heard the truth ?''
-'' Really?! ...''
-'' Yes, my love! I was relieved because I understood everything... Your obsession about him and mom's secrecy. I no longer had a reason to be jealous!''
-'' ... You are not angry?!''
-'' Why to get angry? Because, you kept it a secret..? Certainly not, I fully understand that the revelation of such a thing, it would be a scandal for all of us... After all, which family doesn’t have secrets ..?'' Anthony added and embraced Teresa tightly.
-'' Oh, Anthony you're always so rational ...''
-'' Rational and practical my darling! And surely if anyone should be feeling angry and hurt, from all of this, it’s not me ...''
-'' ...I know what you mean ... but he’s not. Strange, but he isn’t ... All these years he accepted it stoically ...''
-'' Yes but he too knew that, it couldn’t be differently, the scandal would have a huge impact for everyone. Although, I wonder how he withstood it so many years ...''
-'' ...He loves her, so much that he could bear anything…'' a tear rolled down from the sapphire eyes of Teresa,'' ....I wish he…I ’d like he was here today ...’’
He gently wiped away her tear with his thump.
-'' And I would like this for you and for mother, My Tessie...''
He kissed her softly on the lips.
-'' ... thanks ... sorry ...'' said his wife between two small kisses. Anthony looked at her and smiled somewhat strange.
-'' ... You realize of course, that all the others don’t know anything and they might suffer a small shock ...''
-'' Oh! My! Yes…I only hope we don’t have faints...''
-'' Nah… I don’t think so, Rosy especially she will jump up from her joy!''
-'' You think?!''
-'' I'm sure!''
-'' ... What about the rest of them ...?''
-'' For the rest, I'm not sure Teresa… but I suspect that uncle Archie might get angry ...''
-'' ...Hmm maybe, but aunt Annie would calm him down for sure...''
-'' He who won’t be surprised at all, however, is our older son!''
-'' Terry ..??!''
-'' Yep! ...''
-'' Why?! Don’t tell me that he knows it too! Oh! God, it’s a common secret after all?!''
-'' My love, are you passing for a dumb our son?! With the crazy weakness he has all these years for his grandmother, you don’t think he had not found it out at some point, in some way?!''
-'' ... then that means.... You think he met him ...?''
-'' ... I'm not sure... but my guess is that yes, he met him’’
‘’.... mother, I am proud that I will give my son, these two names. The name of the head of Ardleys family and the name of a duke! .... "suddenly Anthony laughed.
-'' You are surprising me today, Anthony! What did you find funny this time?!''
-'' ...The name of a duke... that’s what I had said to mother when she overreacted that day at the maternity ward about Terry’s name. As if I was a prophet!''
-'' You mean....the title ...''
-'' This is exactly!''
-'' ... ultimately we won’t avoid the scandal...'' she said.
-'' It’s not important anymore... we let it break out... I think that we are strong enough, to deal with! After all, times have changed; people nowadays are more interested in the scandals at Hollywood rather than these of the rich families. It will fade out quickly.''
-'' I guess you're right...'' Teresa said thoughtfully,'' but I’m simply thinking that for mother, it would be much too hard, so many years to hide it; and the revelation even harder!''
-'' As also for you my Tessie ... however she was happy, even if she was hiding it… she is still happy.’’
-'' I know! Do not forget I've seen them together!'' Said Teresa happily and hugged her husband firmly.
Yes, their mother was happy. She wasn’t just the mother of Anthony. She was her mother also. She may not be her biological, but she was the only mother she had met, she remembered and loved. And if there was a wish to make for this mother, certainly Teresa would like to see her always cheerful and happy; to be caressed kindly by those emerald green eyes, she saw for the first time at a London slum.
"Happiness...is the only thing that counts, that worth, mother’’, as if he had guessed the thoughts of his wife, Anthony, remembered like in a bad dream two green frozen, hard eyes, and drove away that memory instantly.
* Lucy’s gown
Givenchy, Spring 1956
The Door in the Dark
by Robert Frost
In going from room to room in the dark,
I reached out blindly to save my face,
But neglected, however lightly, to lace
My fingers and close my arms in an arc.
A slim door got in past my guard,
And hit me a blow in the head so hard
I had my native simile jarred.
So people and things don't pair any more
With what they used to pair with before.
Three days after Albert’s funeral when all the necessary formalities ended and the hearing of his will was done, Candy left the ten-year old Anthony and the nine-year Rosemary, under the supervision of Annie and Archie. She went and enclosed herself to the log house, where once was Albert‘s roof.
An era that he was living as an adventurer, allowing the road itself leading his way. Free as a bird. With a backpack on his shoulder, with no obligations, without concerns, accompanied by the mother nature; her protector and her lover. At that time it was that he saved the little girl Candy from nearly drowning ... It was a time, which seemed now so far away for Candy.
One week enclosed inside that cabin. A full week of inertness. Without food. Without sleep. Without any tears. A shadow of herself. With dry eyes, sore. A mesh of thorns her throat. With messy hair, still wearing the same dress from the funeral. Will she ever change it?... Maybe not. She didn’t care, simply didn’t care.
She was letting the minutes, the hours, and the days walking her by. Lost in her pain, allowing the sloth taking over her.
This act of hers was the most selfish thing she had ever done in her life. For the first time in her life, she didn’t care about the pain of the others, not even of that of her children. She was the queen of her self-centered pain. It was hers and she wouldn’t share it with anyone.
There in the dark house, with the closed window shutters, she would create her empire of wail. She would celebrate her defeat alone. Neither god nor man would invade to her kingdom. And maybe at sometime, eventually God might show her his mercy and she would stop breathing. Defeated by life, love, fate ... by the god himself! Who ..?! This Candy, who with a prayer always felt her heart calming and filling in optimism.
".... Optimism ...?" she laughed sarcastically to herself.
"...to what for...; what do I earned with the optimism and the smile?"
-'' Nothing! Absolutely nothing!'' screamed and the echo of her voice strangled the walls of the small house.
"How right she was after all, once Aunt Elroy!... I brought the disaster to all! For all! ... I brought misery ... I ... it was my fault! The blame is mine! For everything! ... "
-'' ...I have a curse ...’’
"... I was born with a curse... not even my own parents wanted me... how foolish I was! ... Always had an excuse ... I had always thought, that they would have a serious reason for abandon me at an orphanage... Oh yes, they had! ... Who wants close to him someone that anything touches is destroyed? ... "
-'' .... that anything I love becomes ... ashes ...''
‘’ Anthony died... for me... because of me... Oh! Eliza your bitter words, so true... if there wasn’t a fox hunt, Anthony would be still alive... but for whom it was..? For me! The cursed! ... Terry ... My Terry ... I hurt him so much, that he was forced to run away as far as he could ... Forced him to live with a woman who didn’t love .... I pushed him to drinking and despair ... Stear .. my dear Stear if you didn’t come on that day at the train station... your luck might been so different… why ... why you wanted to share this curse mine? ... My fate is to scatter misery… ".
-'' ... all in vain ... in vain ...''
"The fate ... the destiny that brought into my world, the prince of the hill ... my protector ... my Albert! ... How stupid to think that I deserved happiness ... my fate swept you away Albert!... "
-'' ... No! Not you too !''
"You didn’t deserve that ... always by my side, patient and caring, with a gentle love, you never asked for more ... you were happy just to know that I loved you ...You knew that I'll never be passionate with you, and yet you were next to me .... Always beside me! .. "
With a slow move, she took out the unnumbered reading letter from the pocket of her dress. A dirty crumpled paper now. There was no need to read it again, she had memorized it.
my little one,
When you‘ll read this little, small letter, I will have gone
for the greatest adventure of my life.
For the longest journey of all.
I don’t want you to be sad, don’t want you to cry, I don’t want you to hurt.
I am blessed. I feel happy. You were the gift and the miracle of my life.
Thank you for all of that you gave me. Thank you for what we lived.
Know that I left, with my heart overflowing with your smile.
The most beautiful smile in the whole world.
I love you
It’s never too late for those who are still alive.
Always remember that.
-'' .. And yet it’s so late now ....''
"... Which fate has brought you in to my life to take you now? Why you were uprooted from that?! You were my calmness, my harbor, my protection and my shield! ... My damned luck, not even thought my children how they’d grow up ... without their father? My god why you're so unfair to them?... "
-'' ... how am I supposed to continue...? ...what shall I do…??!’’
Candy’s mind and soul were screaming. Like a walking dead she crumpled the letter and hold it tightly in her fist. If she could tighten her fist harder, to drag all this pain to her handful ... but it didn’t change anything. She became furious. With her fate, with herself. Slow steps throughout the house, the same thoughts over and over again, a skein of memories that always end up in pain ... she outraged! And then she started throwing away things around the house. She’s not even looking what she was breaking. Whatever was grabbing in her hands she was throwing it, broken pieces like her soul. Glasses lying around, shards shot to pieces the house and her being.
With a pair of scissors in hand she went to the bathroom. Her shape in the mirror blurry ... she wasn’t her ... she was someone else. A heroine of some play. A mad woman! Heartbreakingly, sarcastic... she laughed like crazy and began cutting her hair. Her soft blond curls were falling with rage on the bathroom floor. She looked at herself again... yes, this had to be done.. to become someone else ... maybe this someone won’t hurting ... maybe won’t carrying the curse ...She dropped the scissors in the sink of the bathroom and went to the kitchen. There she found her medicine.
"... How many years is it here ..? .." She took in her hands the dusty bottle of whiskey.
-'' .. who cares now ... right .. Albert?!'' she asked herself and brought the mouth of the bottle to her lips. The first sip burned her throat. She coughed. That was good ... she felt something else than the pain in her heart. She sat down on the floor of the ruined room and continued to drink large sips.
She felt the numbness of the alcohol spreading in her body. ".. Oh, you little trickster, naughty Terry you knew it too right…? " she thought ironically. After one point she wasn’t feeling anything. The alcohol had executed its purpose and especially to the unlearned stomach of Candy had full success. She was drunk.
Dizzy, numb, sip after sip, she felt her body wasted .. sinking ... Anthony ... Anthony .. he .. was there .. he was giving her his hand to dance ... round and round ... don’t swirl me so much Anthony I’m so dizzy... why are you pulling my hand ... Terry! Terry ... he was ... holding her by the hand and they were running to the hill ...going up the hill running… music ... the wind was carrying a melody, what a beautiful melody .... no ... it was funny! ... like crawling snails .. oh ... the prince! .. why did you leave, my prince? .. I haven’t left, Candy! .. I am here .. I am Albert! ... no…. you aren’t !....Albert has no beard ... the river was coming raging. ..the boat was swirling fast, round and round on the raging waters…she would be lost in forever! ...
The darkness wrapped her and Candy fainted on the floor of the living room, drunk.
She felt someone striking her head with a hammer. ".. Oh dear, please stop it." It wasn’t a hammer; there were a few light knocks at the door of the house, but for Candy’s aching head from hangover, seemed with hammers. She tried to speak and felt her voice rough. Her throat stung. She stood up slowly. Her stomach was stirring; feeling vomiting. Slowly she went at the door.
-'' .. Candy ... Candy please open the door…'' He was Archie.
-'' What do you want .... Archie?'' she said hoarsely.
-'' Please open ...''
By an apathetic slow motion, she opened the door without looking at him and she went sat on the practically broken couch. Archie went inside and saw the chaos and Queen Candy sitting on her ruined throne, with her head buried in her two palms.
-'' .. Candy ...'' he whispered.
-'' .. do not speak Archie please,'' she said slowly.
Archie took a chair that had been saved from the destruction and sat opposite her.
Was looking at her and couldn’t help but notice that her hair was cut shorter. Her lovely long curls weren’t there anymore. They had gone; and along them, Candy’s joy followed.
Before him was a beautiful aching woman. "How much despair! How much suffering!" He wanted to take her in his arms and to clear all her pain. He wanted, oh! How much he wanted ... as he wanted to take away her pain for Anthony once; and Terry’s later. Archie couldn’t bear to see her hurt. He couldn’t do anything, though. It was too late now ... He had learned his role now. He had accepted it with bitterness; and he did what he always did.
He waited. He was waiting her patiently.
Who’s this woman?
-'' Annie are you ready?! Archie asked his wife, while he was fixing his bowtie on his tuxedo.
-'' I need some time my dear. Why the rush? It’s still early.’’
-'' I know that ... but I don’t feel staying in the room, I think I‘ll go downstairs.''
Annie turned around and looked at him.
-'' Archie, you still thinking about Neal?''
-'' Can I do otherwise?!''
She went closer to him.
-'' Archie, do you think Candy doesn’t know what she’s doing? You don’t trust her? What are you afraid, so much?!''
-'' I'm not afraid of anything Annie; I just sense that something is going to happen. It’s not only about Neal ..''
-'' Nothing bad will happen, my dear! Candy has proved and more the above, all these years that she can cope up with everything!''
-'' I know that, but ... she’s upset, you don’t see it?!''
-'' What do you mean by this?''
-'' Say it a hunch ... but I think that something she’s hiding.''
-'' So what, if she is?! She has no right to keep things to herself, dear?''
Archie didn’t answer.
"Yes ... that is exactly what; after Albert’s passing, she’s keeping everything to herself…’’
Slowly Candy raised her head and stared at Archie; she went to speak but was blocked by her sore throat. Her friend figured it, and brought her a glass of water.
-'' Thanks…'' she said dryly when she drank it.
-'' Candy, you have to eat something, you have to...''
She raised her hand and stopped him with a stern gesture, which didn’t characterize Candy.
-'' The kids? '' She asked wooden.
-'' ... they are well, they’re with Annie; we took all the children at Pony’s, Patricia’s also there and…’’
-'' Where’s George, Archie?'' she cut him again.
Archie was observing her puzzled, when he suddenly saw an unfamiliar composure into her icy eyes.
-'' He went at the offices in Chicago; had to put some order to some unfinished business and cancel my appointments. From next week ...''
-'' From tomorrow, you will go too and you will take over the office Archie'' Candy replied blank one more time.
-'' Tomorrow?! But ...''
-'' Yes, Archie tomorrow!''
Candy was so strict and absolute, that he couldn’t argue with her at that moment.
- ‘’Ok… Candy, fine...'' he said calmly.
-'' Excuse me for a bit.’’ told him and stood up.
She went to the bathroom and threw cold water on her face. She saw her image in the mirror. Her hair was cut wrong. "I must fix them" she thought as dry as dust. She returned to the ruined living room where Archie still was sitting, waiting.
-'' Tomorrow morning, we all return at Chicago.''
-'' You didn’t hear what I said Archie?''
-'' What do you mean all?''
-'' I mean everyone. You, me, Annie and the children.''
Archie looked at her, shocked.
-'' I thought that you wanted to stay at the orphanage for some time with the kids and Annie ...''
-'' ... You thought… but I don’t have the mood for something like that; and now please just go and inform the staff of Lakewood, that the house will be sealed tomorrow. All the rooms, except the staff’s dormitories.''
-'' But in Lakewood are still the Leagans and some other relatives ...''
-'' Time to go to their homes, Archie’’.
He looked at her with an open mouth.
-'' Candy are you nuts?!''
This woman in front of Archie, she wasn’t Candy! She was Great Aunt Elroy from his teen years!
Candy didn’t answer him; she stayed for a bit skeptical.
-'' Very well then, if you won’t do it, remains only to inform them myself.'' she said coldly to a stunned Archie and she continued,'' You can leave now Archie; I will come back on my own to the house’’ and she showed him the front door.
The same evening Candy showed up at the dinner in Lakewood. She made sure Dorothy to fix her haircut, she hid her dark eye circles with makeup and she wore a black Chanel dress with a strict cut.
When everybody had sat at the table, she went and sat on the head of it. At the seat that once was sitting the great aunt Elroy and later on Albert.
She said a dry good evening without looking at anybody and dinner was served. Annie and Patty were observing her surprised; since Archie had taken care of them to return from the orphanage. During those few moments he had spent with Candy in that wooden cabin made him feel powerless, and certainly sensed he would be needing allies.
Dinner flowed in silence. In a frightening silence. When first spoke Candy.
-'' Annie my dear, thank you for taking care of the children.''
-'' ... Candy, not even mention it…''
-'' Dorothy informed me that their things are packed ready for tomorrow.''
-'' Yes ...'' replied softly Annie looking at her sister. "Ah! how much you’re hurting my Candy ..."
-'' What will happen tomorrow? '' Eliza popped.
Candy not even turned to look at her.
-'' All in time, Eliza…all in time’’ she said stern and continued as if there was never Eliza’s question.'' I would like to take this opportunity to announc ...''
-'' Mrs. Candy after a week's of absence she would make a speech now?!'' an irritated Eliza interrupted Candy.
Candy ignored her.
-'' As I was saying ...''
-'' And why she’s sitting at Uncle William’s seat?!'' she again popped.
-'' Eliza! '' Archie shouted.
-'' Who gives her the right to take the position as the Head of Ardleys?''
Eliza was livid with rage.
Annie was about to cry; Patty and Tom were staring with bated breaths, Archie was angry and Neal was gazing his sister in impassive eyes.
Deadly silence fell at the table.
Candy slowly turned her head toward Eliza and looked at her. Eliza felt being nailed by two icy green eyes. Candy’s mouth was a straight line, deadpan. If the eyes were hands, they would have shut up Eliza’s mouth with slaps. And that's exactly what they did. Candy’s cold look on Eliza made her freeze without even herself to realize how this happened.
-'' If you’re done with your noisy mumbling Eliza, I shall continue then ...''
-'' How dare you!'' screamed and jumped upright.
-'' Eliza, I am speaking!'' Candy yelled in a strong stern voice, which passed through the distraught Eliza,'' And to put an end, once and for all with this case. I am speaking as the head of the Ardleys, where according to my late husband’s will, I am his legal successor, at least Anthony’s coming of age''. She made a minimum pause.'' Therefore Eliza, you’ll sit down and you will listen to everything that I have to announce…’’ one more pause,'' ... or leave this very moment, not from the dinner table ... but from Lakewood'' .
Eliza despite the shock and the humiliation, she tried to reply, but Neal caught her hand and stopped her.
-'' ... enough Eliza, sit down.''
-'' Luckily that someone from the Leagans, was left with a little sense,'' she said in cold ironic tone Candy.
All the eyes at that table were set on her. Gazes of wonder. Surprised, speechless.
No one in that dining room could believe what was seen that night. That woman who was there, in front of them at the top of the table looked like Candy, but she wasn’t Candy!
She announced her decision to close Lakewood indefinitely, she placed head of the staff Dorothy; and told them that the upcoming week, she will go at the Ardley’s offices. Not to visit, as Neal asked sarcastically. She would undertake the position of Albert! Who?! Candy! But was she, this woman, Candy? All attendees at that dinner had exactly the same question.
"Who‘s this woman?" … and what she did to the sweet and smiling Candy?
The only one who knew was Candy herself.
The girl with the smile and the joy in her eyes; she was gone. Taken away by the cursed fate and closed in a deep dungeon. The girl with the smiling soul was dangerous. Whatever she was touching, becoming ashes.
That is why she, Candy, had to punish that dangerous smiling girl. Now this cold and icy logical Candy took control of her fate, in her hands. She was now clutching the reins of fate. The rock doesn’t hurt neither by the wind, nor the rain. She would become the rock of her life. Harsh, resistant like a frosted rock.
Had to be done this way, she had no other choice in her mind. "I will be the father for my children, I will be the head of the family, I will be their shield and their protection".
The girl with the touch of sun on her face, she would become a sleeping beauty, of an impregnable castle. That girl was weak. Queen of the castle now was going to be this logical harsh Candy; in the kingdom of her soul.
Over the next years, Candy would do anything possible to maintain this frozen, hard heart, away from the sun and its heat. Away from its fire.
It’s time for everyone to know
With a lazy gesture he folded the page of the book he was reading and placed it on the coffee table next to him. His gaze turned to the window; watching the white cotton-like clouds. Closed for a moment his eyes and the sight of a white silky neck came to his mind and lit the well known fire in his soul. "No matter how many years go by ..." he muttered
With his fingertips barely touching her silky white neck, lost in her eyes, started whispering.
- I was jealous of the sun, that caressed your face and gave you away these freckles ... I envy of these freckles, because I wasn’t the one who gave them to you, but someone else ... I envy the wind that passes his fingers within your hair, stealing your scent and I cannot smell you ... I envy that wind which flirting with your dress so shamelessly!... I envy the moon, which reflects in your eyes ... I envy that he dives into them ... I envy the rain when it falls on your body ... I wish I was its every drop ...
She took his face in both her warm hands.
- ... You're my sun, my wind, my moon and my rain ... do not be jealous of yourself ... I am yours.
A small cough was heard and opened his eyes annoyed that so violently was snatched from his remembrance of.
-'' Your Grace, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you, but the pilot told me to inform you that we'll be landing for refueling at New York''.
-'' How long will it take?'' he asked the young stewardess.
-'' No more than a half an hour, sir. We will be at Chicago in three hours at the most.''
-'' Alright,'' he said dry.
-'' Would you like, something to drink?''
-'' No, thank you''.
The young woman made a polite nod with her head and walked out of the cabin, leaving the English nobleman alone.
"... I am yours ..", he recalled again in an endless yearning.
-'' This is exactly! You're mine Mrs. Freckles! And it’s time for everyone to know, neither you want it, or not!'' Terry said with a playful smile to himself.
For a second time
In the early 1930s, the famous Broadway actress and for some years of the filmmaking, Eleanor Baker, decided to make a trip that for many years had postponed it.
She would be going to England.
She took an oath once to herself, not to set foot ever again in that country. For many years she had faithfully followed her oath. The first time she had broken that oath, was that summer she went to find her son at Scotland. Without hope and with pain in her heart, she begged him to listen to her; she pleaded him to give her a chance to apologize, she wept. In vain. He sent her away.
Desperate and not knowing what else to do, she waited and begged each and every day. And miraculously one of those days, a blonde angel gave her back her son. She was the guardian angel of them both.
"Why my son you let that creature to go away from your life?". How many times she had made this question inside her, Eleanor; always inside her. She never dared to utter that question to her son. The mere mention of the name of the angel, it would have been like to delve into his aching wound.
Ten years more or less had passed since the day that Terry had showed on one afternoon at the door of her house. Without too many words announced his decision to return to England. He didn’t tell her why and she didn’t ask him. She already knew. Terry had known about her wedding. So all she did Eleanor, was aching along with him; staring at the empty eyes of her son. She begged him to stay, of course, but it was pointless. It was impossible for Terry to be living in the same continent with her any longer. He wanted to go as far away as possible.
If it might be possible for him to go to another earth, he would have done it. Eleanor had seen the despair and the terror in his voice, even though he tried hard to hide them. However, what really scared her that day was the void that had in his eyes. The absolute nothingness. Her son continued to live and breathe, but in reality he was a dead man. It was bleeding Eleanor’s heart.
She said goodbye with tears in her eyes and with a promise to visit him, and with an upbeat thinking she told herself that perhaps it could have been better he was leaving ... maybe over time he would forget ... maybe.
And now a whole decade later, this mother of his, was returning to England for second time; again for her son.
Richard’s telegram was plain and typical. In simple terms he was asking for her help! For the first time in his life, he was calling for Eleanor’s help; for the first time he was raising his hands up, declaring defeated.
When their son returned to his birthplace, the Duke of Grandchester, felt himself gaining ground to the informal war against Eleanor, for the love of their son. That time he was very careful and the years that followed took care with small movements to re approach his son.
He accepted his career, helped him to reinstall it in England and has strongly supported it; though always with discretion, not to undermine the ego of his son. Father and son had now a relationship, if anything not close, but at least calmly typical.
It was the second week from the day that Terry had been locked in his room, at Duke’s manor in London and was refusing to eat or drink. He didn’t talk to anyone. He had canceled everything; and seemed like he was waited for his death. No one could explain why and how this happened. What reasons led him unexpectedly behave like that.
Simply one evening Terry didn’t go to his apartment. He appeared at the manor of the Duke, lifeless embraced his father, a greeting, as an eternal farewell and locked himself in his old childhood room.
When Eleanor arrived at the London’s house, she found the Duke and Terry’s agent Arthur, sitting sullen in the lounge. Although she had several years of seeing Richard, now was neither the place nor the time suitable to consider her own feelings.
Now her child needed her. They exchanged the typical greetings and asked to be lead to hers son’s bedroom.
She knocked gently on the door.
- ‘’ Terry my boy, please open the door ...’’
- ‘’ Terry ...’’
Eleanor waited patiently. She knew that he had heard her voice. She knew her son. At some point he would open. She leaned her back against the wall next to the door and gave him time. Patiently she waited.
After five minutes the door opened.
Slowly, by ethereal steps Eleanor walked in. The room smelled of musty days, but oddly she noticed that it had not the slightest odor of smoke or drink.
It was pitch dark. In quietly steps approached her son who was sitting on the bed, motionless as a waxed puppet. She sat down next to him and stroked his hair. No one spoke. The minutes were passing like water in the deathly silence of the room.
-'' ... she was left alone ...'' said Terry with a hoarse voice breaking the silence.
-'' ...I know’’, calmly replied his mother.
Again silence, stillness.
-'' Whyyy?!! '' Terry broke.
Eleanor’s heart became a thousand pieces. This ‘’why’’ had such immense despair. So much unbearable pain. Was hiding behind it a torrent of questions.
-'' Terry, my son ...’’
-'' Why now?! Why not earlier?! Why everything happened like this?! Why mother?! I was dead! Ten goddamned years I was living like a dead man! An empty shell, which filled only on the theater stage. I had accepted my fate, because all I had in the back of my mind was that at least she is happy! Why is this happen to her?! She didn’t deserve that ... from all the things that happened to her, she didn’t deserve anything...Life was so unfair to her… I think about her suffering and I’m dying mother ... I cannot stand it! It’s painful! I don’t want her to hurt! It's even worse than have her away from me!''
Terry’ tears were running on his face without shame and torn fell into the arms of his mother as a little child. Leaving there the whole grief of his soul to come out; there into the lap of his mother Eleanor.
-'' My good boy, my child ...'' muttering fondly words his mother, comforting her son, calming him little by little.
When some time, Terry’s sobs were stopped and found his regular heart pace, Eleanor said,
-'' ... would you like, to go and find her…?’’
-'' .. find her ..'' he repeated slowly, mechanically.
-'' Yes if you want, I'll come with you ...''
Terry didn’t answer. He stood up and went opened the curtain of the room, just to enter a bit light. He stood there in front of the window.
-'' I don’t have the right anymore ...''
-'' I have no right to show up in her life again, and give her double suffering ...''
-'' My son ...''
-'' …this is how things are mother…its ended, what we had its over ... it's too late now...''
-'' Terry... no my boy, it is simply too soon ...''
He turned around and looked at her in amazement.
-'' ... It is early for her, she will need time to handle her pain... but about you two it’s not late ... let the time do his work and the fates know what will happen ... ''
"The fates?! When were the fates kind to us, to change or to be now?’’ Terry thought bitterly, "... and who am I that I can fool them ...?"
Year and a half later, however, he found the mental strength to write her a letter.
We don’t always get what we want
-'' After all, I’m not the only one, who didn’t feel like napping!'' He said in a cheerful tone Archie to Tom, at the time he found him to lighten up a cigar at the small lounge next to the dining room.
-'' No one ever told you, that as we get older we sleep less?!'' answered Tom, chuckling under his whiskers.
-'' Your wife knows that you still smoking cigars ... an old man?!''
-'' Yours knows that you still playing like… a juvenile dandy?!''
"... dandy…" For a moment Archie had a déjà vu, but eventually he smiled sincerely to his friend; sat to the armchair next his and accepted the cigar Tom offered him.
-'' Hmm... very good.''
-'' I know...'' muttered Tom through a puff of smoke.
-'' Where did you get them?''
-'' A gift from Candy on my birthday last year.''
-'' Don’t tell! Let me guess…she gave them secretly from Patricia ...?!''
-'' Of course!''
They laughed loudly.
-'' Always mischievous our Candy !'' Said Archie through his laughter.
-'' ...And stubborn! If she has something in mind, no one can take it off by any way!'' added Tom,'' …however let’s not waste these marvelous cigars, let me offer you some brandy Archie?''
-'' Of course, if even our good nurse permits some naughty habits!’’
Tom served brandy into two crystal glasses and offered one to his friend.
-'' Thanks... and going back to the stubbornness'' said Archie,'' that was not the reason, which made her capable of to deal with everything? Do you know a stronger woman than Candy?!''
-'' Definitely not, I will never forget her crying on the day Sister Lane found her; a tiny baby, that had so much will to live ...'' said nostalgically Tom.
-'' Someone else in her place might have quit, especially after Albert’s death...She lost the love of her life and yet she continued, clenched her teeth and continued ...''
Tom suddenly started laughing.
- ‘’Archie, my friend, you must be deeply benighted, if you believe that Albert was the love of her life!''
Archie looked at Tom and lifted his eyebrows in amazement. Tom laughed again with the reaction of his friend.
-'' You really believe that?!'' He asked again within his laughs.
-'' Of course Tom! What makes you think it’s so funny and believe the opposite?!''
Suddenly Tom became serious.
-'' I loved and respected Albert, Archie my friend, and I was glad that started a family with him, my sister Candy and she definitely loved him very much, but ... actually I didn’t believe even for a moment, that he may have been the love of her life!''
-'' Tom it seems to me either you lost your mind or the Havana cigars are blurring your brain! '' Said Archie in a type of waggishness.
-'' Well, here's my opinion ... in our life unfortunately or fortunately we don’t always get what we want, but what we are given; because otherwise we end up alone! It's selfish, I know! But such is the human nature, we don’t want to be alone, we need a partner ... There are very few people who can withstand the solitude, if they don’t have by their side the person they really want ...''
-'' I cannot agree with you Tom.''
-'' You might agree, when I finish my reasoning.''
-'' Ok then, let me hear it…’’
-'' In simple words ... I will speak first about myself ... I, Archie my friend, I wanted Annie and I was given Patty! Ha! Don’t give me that look Archie! ... Yeah maybe I'm the only guy that wasn’t in love Candy! And yes! I was in love with Annie, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t love or not love my wife ... God only knows what trials we passed, when we lost our son on the second war ... but we stayed together, because there was love between us... but that’s different of the dreams and the desires of our youth ... Respectively Patty wanted your bother Stear, he was the love of her life... but accepted and did well, what she was given, me! And completing ... my thinking ... you got Annie, while you were madly in love with Candy, and Candy ... ah! Our Candy…’’ Tom made a short pause.
Archie continued staring incredulously Tom but not interrupted him.
-'' ... and to conclude Archie, our Candy many have fallen in love with her... and many the suitors ... but one was the love of her life, and he wasn’t Albert; I ‘m sorry to say this and to disappoint you, Archie. ''
-'' Tom... don’t tell me that you mean the Grandchester guy, because I‘ll go nuts!''
-'' You never liked him, right?!''
-'' Naturally! A snobbish, bum aristocrat was and still is! He took advantage of Candy’s heart in such a tender and innocent age and eventually broke it to pieces!''
-'' Archie, can I ask you a question?!''
-'' Sure, anything you want!''
-'' Do you think that he not loved her?!''
-'' Well, I don’t know... maybe, not enough however! ''
-'' Do you know, that he never made family of his own?''
-'' Suited him the life of a playboy obviously!''
-'' You have an answer, for everything eh?!'' Said Tom laughing,'' and what do you say, about the fact that he disappeared from America, the same period that Candy had her wedding?’’
Tom burst out laughing.
-'' Okay ... you won Archie, I raise my hands up! ''
-'' Alas my buddy Tom, the price of the cigar was heavy on me!'' Said Archie, supposedly teased and laughed.
-'' All I tried to do was to put you in some realistically thinking, not to be under surprises, later ....''
Archie looked at Tom and for a moment; he tried to ask what he meant but entered the room his son Stear.
-'' Father, Uncle Tom, I see you started really early the bad habits!’’
Like a couple of young children who was caught with the hand in the jar of cookies, Tom and Archie, looked at each other and smiling conspiratorially; Tom offered a cigar to Archie’s son. They started chatting cheerfully, and although Archie looked focused on their conversation, his mind couldn’t send away the last sentence of Tom concerning the surprises...
The little voice
Like yesterday Archie still remembered his surprise when one day Candy called him in her office, three years after Albert’s death, to inform him of her decision to take over the office at London.
Those three years Candy had spent them by working ceaselessly and tirelessly, from the day that she decided to work for the Ardley’s company. At the beginning she started her training together with George and Archie but very soon she was capable of conducting any issue alone and closing excellent deals. She may not have knowledge of financial and business transactions, but she was brilliant, hardworking and stubborn. She devoted herself with fury on her purpose and she succeeded.
Chicago’s society of course, initially was shocked that a woman took over such a position. The men saw in the beginning with great skepticism Mrs. Ardley, but they admired her courage and pretty soon gave her the title of "Frozen Iron Lady."
The combination of beauty, with her powerful state, was one more reason of admiration and many men tried of flirting her, but always were falling on an icy wall. The women on the other hand, there was a portion of those who shared her passion and secretly wished they had the courage to do the same, but of course there were the rest of who were commenting negatively the fact that a woman entered in men’s fields. Very soon, however, Candy herself proved that she wasn’t a random woman.
At the same time she became one of the greatest benefactresses of the local, and not only society. Building up foundations and helping as much as she could the weak poorest classes.
- ‘’Good morning, Candy'' said Archie as the door was closing behind him.
-'' Hello Archie, have a seat please; do you want to bring us coffee or tea?'' told him hastily and typically Candy.
-'' Nah, no thanks.''
-'' Archie I’ll go straight to the point, because after I have an appointment with the mayor about the construction of the asylum for the homeless.''
-'' Yes, yes I know, everything indicates that it will finally become a reality now that was found the area.''
-'' Hmm, indeed,'' agreed with him making a short pause,'' therefore Archie, I want to tell you about a decision I took, it might seem a bit sudden, but I talked with George and agreed that it’s a good idea''.
-'' What is it about?''
-'' I will take over the offices at London for a while''
-'' For how long?!'' he asked her surprised.
-'' For as long as needed; after the "Black Tuesday" things there eventually went much worse than we thought and if not go any of us there, we will lose everything.''
-'' And here, who will be left in charge?''
-'' You Archie! I will take with me George and we will be often communicate to inform each other; don’t tell me you cannot handle the office here?!’’ she asked somewhat teasingly Candy, and for a small moment, Archie thought he saw the old Candy.
-'' No, no it’s not that ... with Anthony and Rosemary what will you do?''
-'' I’ll take them with me to England; I already arranged they will attend at Saint Paul’s college’’.
-'' What did you do?!! I can’t believe you Candy! You wrote the children at that prison?!''
-'' Nowadays it’s not like used to be; after the war ended, the management changed. Sister Gray has retired and now in her position is Sister Margaret. The classes are mixed now with boys and girls, certainly not the dorms; but the courses have changed and improved a lot, definitely the school is targeting on education now, and not to create young ladies of the high society!''
- ‘’ Candy, are you sure about that ...?'' Archie of course wasn’t asking about the school, but for her decision to leave.
-'' Yes, absolutely! In fact, I already gave to college, a donation.''
Archie was left with his mouth open and then said something, perhaps from his anger, perhaps from his sadness that Candy would be leaving so far away, maybe even himself knew how he had emitted it ...
-'' You are walking on the footsteps of Duke Grandchester? Buying off the education of your children, like did the father of that snobbish punk?! Truthfully Candy, why are you going to England?! ''
Her icy green eyes flashed with anger and pierced Archie.
-'' Don’t you dare to say his name here, ever again!’’ shouted Candy outraged.
Archie at that moment he wished actually he had dipped his tongue in his brain and utter nothing of the words that he said.
- '’… Candy'' said slowly attempting to apologize.
-'' Archie ... please get out of my office, before I say something that afterwards we will regret it both of us...''
Archie lowered his head and walked out silently from the office, leaving Candy alone.
The moment the door closed behind him, Candy collapsed on her chair; her gaze stuck on a corner of the room and tried to find her composure, as fast as she could. In vain. A war had broken out inside her. Archie's words had knocked the tower’s door of the Sleeping Beauty and now she was awake, strucking her shackles inside Candy’s mind. "What’s bothered you?! ... That he said the truth?! ..." – he’s not telling the truth!
She stood up from her chair and went to the hidden deposit box, on the side of the library. She opened it and pulled out a small wooden box. She placed it on her desk and stayed looking at it as if expected to be opened by its own. "... Open it! ...", ordered the small little voice. Like a second Pandora, obeyed the command of the voice and she opened the box; leaving breaks loose from inside the memories and smells of the past.
With trembling fingers, she took the thin white envelope that was on top. She felt an electric current piercing her. "... So, Archie hasn’t told the truth?! ..." cried out the little voice. She opened the envelope and took out the letter from inside. "... That’s it, well done! .... Now read it again! ..." ordered her again, ".... see his words again with your own eyes!... ". There before her eyes came alive a sentence, spreading out throughout the room, wrapping her like a rope and immobilized her.
Nothing has changed in me
".... Now see when he wrote it! Dare to see how long, you left it like that! ..."
-'' Oh shut up!'' she scolded the voice and with a sudden move placed the letter into the box and closed it fast.
The little voice didn’t speak again, but left a playful giggle; had won its first battle, the moment one single tear rolled down Candy’s cheek.
A small family gathering
That evening the Ardley mansion was illuminated and decorated at its best. Sure also helped the fact that Lakewood has always been beautiful in the spring time. This was its season.
The reception, which had been mainly organized from Annie, it wouldn’t be the classic dinner.
A large buffet with rich dishes was ready to win all kind of tastes. Since no longer the manor had the army of servants which once had, young waiters of the catering company, were wandering around the house, offering the most exclusive champagne. In the garden, a bar had been set up for the admirers of cocktails, which was the most fashionable that commandeering the season.
The orchestra outside the Grand Ballroom was playing melodies, rhythms of the time. Slow melodic songs with no rock enroll sounds, which was bold and certainly not everyone could follow by dancing it.
The first guests began arriving shortly after half past seven, and soon the courtyard of Lakewood was accepting the one luxurious car after the other.
Businessmen, lawyers, doctors and politicians. People whom all these years have collaborated with the Ardley colossus company. Naturally they weren’t lacking either the celebrities. Whether they were from the circle of arts, or tycoon descendant’s, who had as their main occupation of wasting their time and of course their money on the Greek islands, by their daddy’s yacht, always with the lovely company of some beauty.
Attending this year’s Ardleys banquet was a must and without a saying. Not only because it was one of the major social events of the year, but mainly for the fact that the honoree was Candy White Ardley herself. There was no person who has been invited and didn’t wish to honor her. She was the most congenial and dynamic figure in the state of Illinois and certainly a powerful woman of the American Society.
As a self-evident and worthy successor of Ardley’s empire, Anthony with his wife Teresa, greeted and welcomed the guests. Of course it was a fact he was already the head of the family over the last years and his role in the company was a leading feature. But at his persistence, the succession had not taken place officially yet.
If one thing Anthony was well aware of, it was that his mother figure was necessary for the face their family was making outwardly and mostly for their business. He knew of course that Candy was tired now. For this very reason he eventually agreed to make the succession official. He had proposed to her to stay as an honorary chairman of the group, but Candy was uncompromising this time.
She would retire completely. Of course she didn’t say to anyone that she intended to retire also from America; but Anthony practically knew that his mother was going to go away this time and not retuning back. And again he chose not to comment on it, ever. Inside his heart Anthony knew that probably was a mistake what he was doing, not talking to her, not confessing to her what and most of all that he knew everything; because he had seen the fear in his mother’s eyes. His mother feared that her son would misjudge her. At least that was the impression she had given him, rather mistakenly herself.
Yes, it was a mistake that so many years Anthony had not spoken out, but now what’s done is done. What had importance now was, what would happen from now on. And that was to show her that he was at her side, whatever choice she had made.
Today his mother, she would be proving for the umpteenth time how courageous woman was.
It was at the last board meeting when Candy brought her interlocutors, once again under surprises. She announced a great charitable donation, definitely no one was expecting.
-'' Gentlemen, if we’re done with all the procedural about the succession'' said Candy smiling faintly, with her gaze upon her son, Anthony,'' I would like to tell you about a decision I‘ve taken quite some time but I think the time has come to take place.''
-'' Of course mother, how can we help?''
-'' I want Lakewood, to stop being a residence.''
They looked at her intimidated.
-'' What do you mean Aunt Candy?'' asked the eldest son of Archie, Stear.
-'' I mean, that I want the house to stop functioning as a country house of the family ...''
-'' You want to sell the manor house Candy?'' Archie asked slightly surprised.
-'' No, no, I don’t wish to sell it, but to give it away!’’
- ‘’ What..?’’Anthony asked lifting his eyebrows slightly.
-'' I want the house to be a rehabilitation center for children that are suffering from cancer.''
Candy answered full of confidence.
At that moment, all inside that council chamber were looking Candy in astonishment, but mainly with admiration. Candy noticed their positive reactions on their faces and continued.
-'' I believe that Lakewood is the right place in order to become the home, of such children; especially the most deprived persons, who have suffered, or still suffer from this insidious disease. I've already made some first contacts with the medical staff of the hospital of St. John in Chicago and only remains to proceed in the realization of this purpose.''
-'' Around when, do you want to schedule this plan, Candy?''
-'' I think that till summer would be okay to have done it already ....'' she replied dreamily...
"Yes, the summer definitely I won’t not be in America ..." Candy thought and left a faint dreamy smile on her face to be drawn. A smile but which they noticed Archie and her son, without though saying anything about.
-'' Well then mother, there is nothing else than to announce it in the press'' said Anthony confident.
-'' Not yet Anthony ... I would like first to have one last small celebration in that place with the entire family, and then let’s do the announcement ...''
-'' A small family celebration I wished… and this is what I got!'' Muttered Candy nagging to Annie and Patty, the time they made their appearance in the reception.
Dressed in elegant evening dresses, the three friends stood on top of the central staircase of the mansion; watching the guests who had flooded the main hall and their lively conversations entangled with the music’s notes.
-'' Oh! Candy...I know that I got carried away with the guest’s listing, but it’s the last time Lakewood would be hosting an event like this!''
-'' Annie’s right Candy dear, don’t be so grumpy!'' Patty added,'' moreover, when ever again will you have the opportunity to dance in Lakewood?!'', said prodding Candy’s shoulder teasingly.
Candy laughed at the suggestion of her friend.
-'' Me, to dance?! There aren’t enough young and pretty girls to show up their presence?!''
-'' Candy, I will scold you!'' popped Annie annoyed,'' I think that when you look up in the mirror, you don’t see what everyone else sees!''
-'' Oh! Another Karen found us!'' said Candy teasing her friend,'' and what do everyone sees that I can’t see it myself?’’
-'' ... hmm, let me tell you... a middle-aged lady’’, Patty started.
-'' Why don’t you say an old hag?!’’ Candy interrupted her, putting out her tongue.
-'' Candy! '' Cried both her friends in a single voice.
-'' Pff ... ok…all righty...'' said Candy supposedly resigned.
-'' Well…'' Annie started clearing her voice,'' What we all see and you show to overlook with stubbornness, is a lady,'' said her friend,'' with elegant petite figure, with a well maintained fresh face, who could well be considered that you just entered to fifty, and ... if you did what Karen said and dyed your hair, you will definitely be looking more younger than fifty!’’.
Annie finished her speech with a sweet sincere smile, to her sisterly friend. And she was right, because her words were in fact, true. In her sixties years, Candy wasn’t shown in any way. Her face was fresh, with a few expression wrinkles in the eyes and the mouth. Although most of her freckles shown very dimly, it certainly was a very strong point of which removing from her several years. Her gaze was always bright and shrill, and her body had been kept thin, with the curves at the right places. The whole figure always complemented her elegant outfit, which today was a chiffon evening dress of Madame Grès *, with strong drapes and finishing at knee length; in a deep green hue that highlighted her emerald eyes.
With these two beautiful eyes Candy looked coyly her friend, happy about the admiration which she had by her sister Annie. But the classic playful and modest Candy didn’t leave it that way.
-'' Just imagine starting drinking champagne, what are you going to say! '' She stated undeterred.
-'' Oh, I prefer to begin with a Tom Collins **, your granddaughter Annie, told me that it is highly fashionable this year!'' Casted Patty full of enthusiasm, making the other two to look at her in amazement; but in the end they carried away from the unexpected appetite of their friend. They started laughing and marched all three in order to greet the guests they had fill the embellished space of Lakewood.
In such a decked area, two redheaded twins cunningly were giggling the moment that they saw the young girl coming out at the entrance of the stairs. Their prank would be perfect! The specific staircase was leading to the side garden of the house and thereby they had not to worry about whether an adult caught them in their act.
Their main and only tremor was their own mother, which unlike their grandmother Eliza, was the only one of the Leagan family, whom had excellent relationship with the Ardleys and as if by some miracle, she wasn’t sharing the cunning genes, that generously given by the nature to her ancestors. Her two little devils though, were the spitting image of Neal and Eliza.
-'' ...Ssh there she is!''
-'' Oh! She’s all dressed up the poor maid!’’ said one disparaging.
-'' Oh! What a blast!! ''
-'' ... Don’t talk so loud!’’
-'' ...Alright, alright…’’
-'' ... in three, okay?!''
With difficulty they lifted up the large metal bucket and they attempt to support it onto the terrace banister; a few drops of water were thrown left and right.
-'' Hey! Watch out she will see us!’’
-'' She will see you, who?’’ a deep male voice full rigor was heard behind their backs.
The minute that followed, nobody realized how it happened and how all happened; especially so fast, yet so strange!
The twins were casted by their fright and lost control of the water bucket as if by magic ... the bucket hit the banister of the balcony, Terence with the corner of his eye saw that just under the porch, there at the base of the stairs was standing. ....
-'' Lucy! Watch out! '' He cried out and the girl alarmed pulled herself back. Then she turned her eyes upwards in order to confront...
Terence in a state of war! Soaked to the bone with his tuxedo wet, with a hanging bucket in his one hand and two frightened little devils, dripping from head to toe, grabbed by their collars in his other hand!
-'' Terence! What ... happened ... I’m so sor ...''
The young girl in a shock went to stutter an apology, but Terence’s glance testified sweetness and admiration that made Lucy blush once again, remaining silent.
-'' If somebody owes an apology, are these two!'' he said shaking the brats, like two puppets!
'' Well ..?!'' asked looking at them roughened.
-'' Sorry Terence...'' they said almost in a whisper grudgingly.
-'' Your apologies, to Miss Lucy! Not to me!''
They stared at him scared, but their bad proud had made them mute.
-'' Don’t burdening your position more, final warning!'' practically yelled this time Terence.
-'' … Sorry Miss Lucy'', they finally responded as if someone had taken their words with a fishing hook.
-'' Somehow better!'' Terence said intensely and by turning to Lucy he smiled at her sweetly and added,'' I'm going to hand over this package! I promise not to let you wait too long.''
The young girl still shocked from the whole scene, looked at him and thought whether she ought to go and assist him. His clothes were dripping, after all that was her job; but Terence, as if he had guessed her thoughts, by nodding a no with his blue eyes, he showed her to stay where she was.
"You look so beautiful!" he said moving only his lips with no sound and winked at her leaving a Lucy looking dumbfounded and scarlet as a beetroot, as he was marching with the twins under his arms.
At the moment Candy’s grandson was delivering the "package" to its rightful owner explaining what has happened, he was unaware that his grandmother with the corner of her eye saw an upset wet young man and her mind took her many years back. At another place, at another upset wet young man, dripping from the evening rain…
At my mercy
"I was running.
I was running raging into the dark alleys. Dirty alleyways, poor. The rain had soaked through my body to the bone.
I was running and they were running along my tears. Tears mixed with rain.
I could hear the sound of my heels disappearing into every dirty puddle that stepped.
I was running. I wanted to reach the end of the earth.
I was crying. Rivers of pain and memories.
It was raining, but I felt the fire approaching me. Fire that was melting my icy castle. I didn’t want. I couldn’t. It was wrong.
I could hear his quick steps to step on the same potholes. At the same paved. I could feel his pain. I could feel his anger. Fire which wanted to seduce me. It was wrong. I was running and I heard his voice. Voice choked with fear, anger and tears. Rain and tears which are not rinsed.
Steps increasingly more close. Sharp breaths. Aching. Without air. With no return.
The raindrops were choking on my sob.
Hand on my hand. Wet. Warm. Strong. I stopped. I didn’t want. I had to reach the edge of the world. It was wrong.
Hot iron his hand on my arm. I had to run. Be released. With no return. I couldn’t. I didn’t want. An undying flame his gaze. Roots my feet. Blue lakes of pain his eyes. Stormy seas of anger. I stopped.
He stood there. Wet, angry. Without voice. There. He waited. It was wrong? He waited for us. The hope a fire in his face. One supplication. One word.
At my mercy?! At my mercy. One small word.
- .... Why. "
-'' ... Because.... I was a coward.... Terry ...'' she said almost be spelled quietly.
- ‘’ Candy you said something?! Candy ....?! Are you okay?!''
-'' .... Eh ... no, no nothing.... everything is fine,'' responded still abstract, shaking her head slightly. '' Eh... I think that I saw the Senator, excuse me for a bit Annie ... '' and mingled within the people.
-'' Just now, I heard her say ...or…'' started Patty.
- ‘’ Yes Patty dear, you heard very well,'' Annie said pompously.
-'' But ... what did she mean? ...''
-'' What is certain is, that she didn’t mean her grandson!''
-'' Excuse me ..?! '' Patty asked more confused.
-'' Only one person Candy calls by that name and certainly isn’t her grandson!'' Annie responded to her friend.
"I think the time has come ...." Annie thought.
A few days after their arrival at London, Candy with George and the children went to college of St. Paul. The moment Candy saw the great gate of her old school, a wave of memories hit her, and although initially she expected that it would be unpleasant, ultimately with surprise found the opposite.
At that time, possibly for the first time, Candy realized the experience and the knowledge that comes over the years to every human, if any bad school memories, can be managed completely different from the adult mind. Perhaps again the adult mind could bury anything that causes pain.
Ultimately what she felt stronger when she crossed the school gate, holding the hands of her two children, were the joyful moments that she had lived there, and that precisely such memories, wished for Anthony and Rosemary to create.
-'' Mrs. Ardley, how very nice to see you after all these years,'' said Sister Margaret with emotion in voice and offered her hand to Candy, which accepted it with a warm smile.
-'' Mother Superior, it is nice to see you too, but please call me Candy, as you always have.''
-'' Then you too can simply call me Sister Margaret, as you did when you were just a little girl! Mr. Johnson, I am glad to see you.''
-'' Reverend Mother'', formally did George with a short curtsey of his head.
-'' I guess that this young gentleman is Anthony Ardley and Miss Rosemary'' she added gently towards the two children.
-'' Yes, Reverend Mother’’, said the two siblings, while looking at their mother slightly embarrassed.
Candy caressed them with her gaze, showing them that there is nothing to worry about and as confirmation followed the words of Sister Margaret.
-'' How about a walk in the school?! The park around our college is very nice this time of year, from your mother I heard that you know both riding, I would suggest a ride with the horse!'' told them and smiled sweetly.
The children automatically felt relaxing and after politely accepting Sister’s proposal, came out of the office with the escort of George.
The Reverend offered tea to her visitor and they started chatting. Candy recounted her life in general since she left college, she spoke about nursing, about her marriage and her children, the death of Albert and that nowadays she had taken over the business herself.
While she chatted with Sister Margaret, she felt the same comfortable, as before, as with Sister Mary, moreover it was not a coincidence that in the past these two women resembled one another too. It is exactly this feeling, that happily found Candy had remained unchanged and the trust she inspired her the new address of school, made her feel safe for her children.
For this very reason Candy during her talk, didn’t hide from her interlocutor that she wanted for her children to be next to her, but also to become independent. Sister Margaret promised her that she will personally look after the children and if at some point realize that they are in need of their mother, she would not deprive them an extra visit from their mom or even an outing.
Inevitably the conversation has led Sister at some point to ask Candy about her cousins.
-'' Really all this time my rudeness, I did not ask how are your cousins, the young Cornwells?!''
Candy faltered slightly, but finally answered as lightly as possible.
-'' Archibald is very well, he studied law, has been married to Annie Brighton, they have two children, in fact they are expecting in a sort time their third and he’s working at the Ardley Enterprises in Chicago.''
-'' Oh! How nice, give them my regards next time that you contact them.''
-'' Very delighted to do so ‘’said Candy smiling.
-'' And the other?! The inventor ... Alistair?'' Sister asked cheerfully.
Candy was expecting that question, but eventually she was surprised at how Sister Margaret asked it.
-'' You know about his inventions, Sister Margaret?!''
-'' But of course Candy! In fact, we were unbelievably amused with the rest of the sisters, when we saw in what zeal he made them and how he never putted down, even though practically always failed!''
-'' Indeed!'' Agreed Candy for one minute happy, but after she continued melancholic,''... Alistair went as a volunteer at the air force ... shortly before entering in the war America ... sadly his plane was shot down in an air fight above France.''
Sister Margaret looked Candy in precisely the same maternal look that had for her Mrs. Pony.
-'' ...I am really sorry for your loss dear Candy, God asked for him, very soon…'', she went to say something more, but in the end she didn’t progressed. "... How much pain are hiding these two beautiful eyes ... a sorrowful widow, an orphan creature, a wronged girl ... " she thought.
-'' Would you like to take a walk around the college Candy?! Let me show you and the various changes we have done?!'' Completed finally the Mother Superior, in an effort to ease the gloomy atmosphere that was created.
-'' Yes, thank you Sister! ‘’ Candy said politely and started their tour.
About an hour later, when the time had come to say goodbye, near the main entrance, Candy’s glance fell to a glass case, in which was placed in order, copper and silver plaques. She approached it and started reading the names of the benefactors of the college.
-'' There was always been here, this display case Sister Margaret?!''
-'' No, Candy, we decided to place it after the end of the Great War, has the name of your husband also...''
Candy didn’t reply, she had seen the honorary plaque with Albert’s name, but what had caught her attention was another plaque.
In memory of Duke Richard G. Grandchester, II
1868 - 1932
Great benefactor of the College of St. Paul
-'' Sister Margaret... when Duke Grandchester died?!''
-'' ... Hmm, as you can see, it’s been about one year and a half now,'' answered typically the Reverend Mother,'' …I believe with his older son, Terence, you were together in the same class, if I'm not mistaken,'' she added but shortly she bitten her tongue, as she recalled the incident between them at the barn.
-'' ... We were not together,'' said coldly Candy'' …he was one year older than me.''
And by that Candy averted her eyes from the display case.
Although the moment she learned about the Duke’s death Candy tried to overtake it, ultimately the next few days she succumbed to the temptation finding out the details.
After a rather easy research in the archives of the newspapers at the public library, she discovered that a year and half earlier, the Duke of Grandchester having serious heart problems for a number of years, left his last breath in his castle at Scotland.
His succession occupied the press highly during those days. The reactions from the royal circles were varied. The heir to the title and the firstborn son of the Duke, was no other than the well known Shakespearean actor, Terence Graham.
Rumors wanted him denying the title. There have been allusions to the validity of the succession. Royal lackeys launched the rumor that he was the illegitimate child of the Duke from the famous actress Eleanor Baker.
A scandal broke out, but the royal family could not undertake one more. They had been enough exposed to that of the Prince of Wales ***. They royal court denied any allegation that the succession was invalid. Thus two months after the death of Richard Grandchester, the Dukedom and the titles of nobility, passed to his eldest son Terence Graham Grandchester.
-'' ... so eventually you became a duke, Terry...'' said to herself Candy puzzled.
"How ironic really! ... Both we became exactly what we didn’t want be ... me, a rich lady… and you a duke! ... Victims of our fate ....", she thought melancholically Candy while smiling bitterly.
* reference on the fashion designer Alix Barton (1903-1993), which became known as Madame Grès.
Formally trained as a sculptress, she produced haute couture designs for an array of fashionable women, including the Duchess of Windsor, Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Kennedy, and Dolores del Río. Her signature was cut-outs on gowns that made exposed skin part of the design, yet still had a classical, sophisticated feel.(wikipedia)
** Tom Collins in been a popular women's majority population, cocktail in 1960.
*** reference to the scandal that broke out when the then Prince of Wales and Britain's King Edward VIII, made known their sexual relationship with the married American Wallis Simpson.