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

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Avatar, as usual, is drawn by my friend, ELSA. For those who don't know (like myself), this is called chibi, she said. Thanks Elsa.

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Chapter 1: Prelude – Neal

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After Candy and Albert rejected Neal's engagement proposal, the Leagans worked to move Neal out of Chicago to forget Candy.

"Florida," Neal argued tearfully, "is not far enough!"

Thus, the family packed and went to Scotland. They settled in the Leagan mansion by the sea in Scotland.

Around this time, Eliza had a love interest. His name was Mason. To Eliza's thrill, he proposed to her! But her father, Henri, didn't share the enthusiasm. He discouraged Eliza to marry Mason Fern.

"I'm in love with Mason Fern, dad. I'm not asking your opinion, I am stating that I will marry Mason!" Eliza screamed.

"I don't like Mason!" Henry thundered. "You're too smart for this, why can't you see that Mason is using you? He's after you because he's up to something! He's untrustworthy, he is not -"

"Yeah... yeah... he's not a businessman-type, I know. But that's precisely why I like Mason. I want someone who's always by my side unlike you and mom!" Her father and mother, Sarah, were hardly ever together. Her father went to his office seven days a week while her mother was doing whatever by herself.

"You can hire a servant to accompany you going shopping. Your husband has to work to support you!" Henri growled.

"NO!" Eliza objected. "It's more fun to be accompanied by someone I love than by servants!"

"Then have fun with Mason! Go ahead, have your wild night! Just don't get your heart to be too involved. Dump him when you're done! You don't have to marry him."

"Daddy! I'm not listening to your paternal dating advice! For someone who always leaves mom alone –"

"But I pay her bill! Mason, on the other hand, is not a responsible person. I doubt he will ever buy you a loaf of bread! Trust me on this, Eliza. I can see people -"

"Mason loves me. That's all I want!" Eliza screamed. Henri rolled his eyes. "Ask Neal, he agrees with me!" Eliza stared at Neal who stood quietly nearby imploring some support.

"You might as well talk to air rather than to your brother." Henri sneered before Neal could open his mouth. "We already have your brother why get another dysfunctional man to our family?"

Henri glared at Neal contemptuously. To have to move to Scotland because of heartbreak due to failed love was the ultimate humiliation.

Still, Henri moved his family anyway since anywhere was a better place than Chicago where everyone mocked and looked at them with derision. They said he was an opportunist cheap skate who sought fame by wanting to marry his son to an Andrew. Disgusting! Anyone who read news would know that by now the Leagan enterprise was rivaling the Andrew's. And, he… Henri Leagan did all by his own hard work unlike the Andrews who's relying on inheritance, highly inefficient council with their Sir William who kept disappearing doing who knew what.

"I have to catch my train to London. Take care of your mom and brother," Henri said to his daughter who forever be his princess, and glared sharply at his son. He grabbed his suit and headed for the door.

"But we just arrived. You should take mom to lunch or somewhere, she'll be happy," Eliza said, following her father. "For someone who claim you can see people, it's amazing how little you understand mom!"

"She had left since early morning," Henri answered dryly.

"To where?"

"Who knows!" Henri snapped without lowering his pace.

"Daddy!" Eliza called, chasing her father outside. She knew her father wouldn't object for too long under her persuasion. "Mason wants to see you this weekend. Can he? Please… and promise me you'll be nice to him..."

Neal sighed in relieved, grateful to be alone finally. He looked at the wine collection in that mansion and picked a bottle of rare wine. Quietly, he brought it with him outside, to the beach. As soon as he's alone the thought about Candy crept back again.

What is Candy doing now?

It's been two months that he hadn't seen her since that fatal engagement party and he barely could survive. How should he live the rest of his life without her?

Tears trickled on Neal's face.

They were separated by this vast water in the ocean. All he had to do was to dry the ocean water and pull her to his side. He laughed bitterly at that thought.

"Candy...!" Neal screamed. He looked at the water, the witness of his broken heart. If only it could tell her that he's crying now missing her. His chest suffocated with sadness. "Water...oh water… let Candy know that I love her!" Neal sobbed.

"Tell Candy that I miss her…," Neal whispered, looking at the sea, as though it would do that for him.

Tears dripped from his face to the beach sand… Then… suddenly a thought entered his mind. Neal wiped his tears, looking at the wine bottle in his hand.

Who knows? Why not?

Neal stopped crying abruptly. He slowly turned around before quickened his pace and ran back into the kitchen mansion. He pulled the wine bottle cork and poured the precious rare wine into the sink. He washed and rinsed the bottle as clean as he could by himself making the servants around him feel uneasy that he didn't ask them do it for him.

Ignoring their confused glance, Neal took the clean bottle to his room. He wiped it with his own pristine white handkerchief, inside out. Fabulous! He thought proudly, satisfied on how clean and dry the bottle was now.

Neal then hung the bottle upside down and went to his desk. He looked out of the window, staring at the ocean wave, and he thought and thought… deeply... before finally he picked up a pencil and paper and wrote pouring his heart out…

"My Love,

Ever since the last time we met, I only feel grief. I think only about you, when I sleep or when I awake - not that I know the difference anymore. I'm crying now as I write this note with you in my mind. Would you believe me if I told you so?

Would you stop hating me, my dearest? Tell me instead, what can I do to win your heart?

My love, I hope you will believe me one day.

Until we meet again…

"

Neal re-read his note again, his vision blurred with tears.

I love you, Candy. Believe me. Neal sobbed. Love you so much!

Neal wiped his tears and rolled the paper. He was about to put the letter into the wine bottle when he remembered the story he read once in the newspaper about someone found a message in a bottle.

What if someone actually finds this bottle? Neal's heart beat maddeningly. I should put my address for them to reply!

Neal thought what address to write. The Leagans were too famous, everyone knew them. He'd rather do it anonymously. Neal decided to use the secret address he used to correspond with his detective in Chicago. He giggled to himself and wrote it down.

He then thought about what name to use. Neo is good. "New" just like the new journey his message would be having in the ocean. Thus, Neal dated his message and signed "Neo" at the bottom.

All done.

Neal carefully put the letter inside a leather bag, rolled it and dropped it into the wine bottle. He put the cork back in and burned a candle for the wax to give the final seal. Neal looked at it, satisfied on how secure his letter was protected.

Neal then ran outside, back to the beach. After looking at the bottle one more time, Neal threw it as hard as he could towards the sea.

Would it be eaten by a whale? Neal laughed to himself. The first time he laughed in two months. Sank to the bottom of the ocean? Got frozen in the North Pole and rediscovered a few hundred years later?

Neal grinned gleefully.

Who knows Candy will find it?

Neal almost started to cry again as soon as he remembered that name. My dearest Candy, I love you. I wish you find my bottle and read what I wrote inside.

The wave brought the bottle came back ashore. Neal took off his shoes, curled his pants up and plunged into the sea to pick the bottle up and throw it back again. The bottle came back six more times before finally it's drifted away by the ocean wave... With heart beat hard with excitement, Neal stood in the water watching it until it disappeared.

Whatever happened to that bottle, he probably would never know. But, that was fun still, Neal thought. This was the first time in two months that he didn't spend all afternoon crying and thinking about Candy... The first time he felt joy again.

Without thinking much about it again, Neal turned around and went back into the mansion.

-To be continued-

Thanks for reading