Three hours later

Jay was sitting in a chair in the servant quarters when the doctor and Penny came out the door.

"Will she be ok?" Jay asked anxiously.

"Jay," The doctor paused, "It doesn't look good."

"Why? What's the matter with her?"

"Well if it was just the arrow wound I would probably give her a better chance, however, she is very malnourished. Her body doesn't have what it takes to fight." The doctor looked at Jay's downcast face. "She, herself, has no reason to live."

"Is she awake?"

"No. I have known this girl almost her whole life. I watched her grow up." He said as he shook his head.

"You know her? How?" Jay stared at the doctor.

"I brought her into this world. When you're the only doctor within an hundred miles, you get many privileges." He said with a smile. Then he looked at the door and frowned. "Some of them are not pleasant though."

"Where does she live?" Jay had to know. When he had asked Ben, he kept his mouth closed and would not utter a word.

"She's Lady Gruphay's "maid"."

"What? Now I am confused."

"Candy's father went missing when she was nine, ever since she has been a slave for that witch and her evil daughters."

"But, Lady Gruphay told me her stepdaughter, Candy, as dead."

"Boy," The doctor said levelly, "You have a lot to learn about Lady Gruphay and her stories."

"So, she lied to me so I wouldn't know it was her maid I was looking for" He said as the light dawned on him.

"Yep."

"Candy's not going back." Penny said.

"You're right." Jay backed her. "If Lady Gruphay tries to find her, she will never look up here."

"Good thought, Boy." The doctor smiled.

"Can I see her now?" Jay asked

"No long visits."

"If I talk to her will she be able to hear me?"

"Nobody know what an unconscious person can hear. But talk to her anyways." The doctor said with a smile "Well, I have other patients to visit. I'll be back later tonight to check on her." He turned and left.

"I'm going to see Candy." Jay told Penny.

"Just for a couple minutes."

"Ok." Jay headed for the door. He turned and looked at Penny.

"Just leave the door open. And I'll sit right here in this chair." Penny plopped down in a chair so she could see everything that went on in the room.

"Thanks, Penny." He pushed the door open and went in. he sat in a char by her bed and took her hand.

"Candy, I want you to know, you never have to go back to Lady Gruphay's. Not ever." He stroked her hand with his thumb. "I want you to stay here, with me, as my wife. I'll tell you again when you wake up" tears fell down his cheek. "But you need to fight. If not for yourself, then fight this for me because I need you." He looked at her face for any sign that she might be coming to. But, there was none. He sat there talking about his growing up years, and anything else that came to mind

"Jay." Penny whispered. Jay turned and looked at her. "It's been thirty minutes. It's time to let her rest." Jay nodded his head and stood.

"If there is any change, please, come and get me immediately."

"We will."

"Thank you." Jay left the room and headed upstairs. Lady Gruphay and her daughters would get what they deserved. When he marries Candy, He will make sure they are one of the first to know.


Five days later

"Jay!" Ben called.

"What?" Jay and Ben collided in the hall. They both ended up on the floor. Jay got up and rubbed his head. He then helped Ben up. "What's wrong?"

"Candy is coming to, but, she's kinda confused right now." Ben explained.

"Why do you say that?"

"Well, I was sitting with her, Penny had gone to bed" Ben started. "About five o'clock this morning she woke up, looked at me and called me Papa."

"But her father is dead."

"I know. She's just confused, Jay."

"Do you think she'll remember me?" Jay had to ask.

"We can go see." They headed toward the servant quarters. Penny was in the room when they entered. Candy looked and smiled at Jay.

"Good morning, Candy." He smiled back.

"M'rnin" she mumbled.

"I sent one of the stable hands for the doctor." Penny said.

"Smart move." Ben said. "Why didn't I think of that?"

"Because you're getting forgetful in your old age." Penny teased. Ben put on a mock pout that made everybody laugh.

"I'm glad you're awake, Candy" Jay looked at her. She nodded her head.

"She's still very weak, Jay." Penny said.

"I noticed."

"Don't tire her out."

"I won't"

"And don't…" Penny was stopped when the doctor entered the room.

"I was just on my way up here."

"Good" Penny, Ben, and Jay said at the same time.

"Hello, Candy." The doctor said. Candy nodded her head.

"How are you feeling?"

"Ok." She whispered.

"You had everyone worried sick." The doctor said with a chuckle. Candy's eyes widened in shock. "Yep, everyone here has lost sleep over you."

"Sorry."

"No. Don't be sorry." The doctor tuned to the men in the room. "Please leave so I can check her." The men left and Penny closed the door behind them. Jay and Ben headed outside. They looked at each other and then both gave a mighty war whoop.

"I can't believe she is going to make it." Jay gasped.

"I'm glad she is." Ben said. An hour later Penny came outside.

"If you want you can come inside." She said with a laugh. They headed inside. The doctor came out of the room looking confused.

"What's the matter?" Jay asked.

"She keeps saying she saw her father. That he is alive." The doctor shook his head. "But that's impossible." Ben and Jay exchanged a look of uncertainty.

"Can I see her?" Jay asked.

"Thirty minutes. No more." The doctor said

"No less." Jay teased. Then he headed for the door. He went in and sat in the chair beside her bed.

"Hi." He said.

"Hi"

"Did the doctor tell you what happened?"

"Yes."

"I'm sorry it had to happen."

"It's not your fault. I feel sorry for the hunter."

"Candy…"

"Did you really mean everything you said before?"

"You heard it all?"

"Yes."

"I meant it all." He said with a smile. Candy smiled at him. "But I need to tell you something."

"What?"

"If you think you can handle it."

"I can."

"I'm the…"

"Jay, it's been thirty minutes." Penny said.

"But…"

"No buts." Penny stood in the doorway with her arms crossed. Jay stood up

"I'll be back later." Jay turned to leave the room.

"I love you, Jay." Candy whispered. He turned and looked at her and smiled.

"I love you too, Candy." He smiled at her one last time


Three days later.

It was after lunch and Jay was sitting with Candy. She was sitting up in bed with help from a bunch of pillows. Ben came in with a bushel of flowers.

"Penny asked me to bring these to you." He explained.

"Thank you." She looked at him strangely.

"Candy?" Jay asked.

"You look just like my father." She whispered. Tears began coursing down her cheek.

"But I thought your father was dead?" Jay asked.

"No. He just went missing." Candy looked at Ben. "No one knows where he went."

"I'm sorry, Candy." Ben said. He turned and left the room.

"Candy." Jay said.

"Is something wrong?"

"No. But I need to tell you something."

"Ok."

"I'm not just 'Jay'" he began. "I'm Prince Jason," Candy's mouth dropped.

"You're the prince?!" She just stared at him.

"I tried to tell you before, but…"

"Something kept coming up." She said with a smile.

"Will you still marry me?" He had a half-worried, half-hopeful look on his face. Candy laughed.

"I would love to be your wife." She said. "But, what will your mother think?"

"She'll agree. She practically told me to marry you."

"Really?"

"Yep." He took her hand and kissed it.

"Jay!" Ben's anxious voice called. Jay went to the door.

"What's wrong, Ben?"

"It's… your… mother." Ben gasped. Without waiting for an explanation, Jay ran to his mother's room. He stopped at the door when he saw Penny rushing around. He knocked on the door. Penny looked up and motioned him in.

"What happened?" He whispered to her.

"It's her heart, Jay."

"But…"

"Nobody knew it had gotten this bad."

"Will we…" He couldn't finish the thought. Penny understood the question and nodded her head slowly. He walked over to his mother's bed.

"Hello, Jay." She said with a smile.

"Why didn't you tell me?"

"I didn't want you to spend my last days worrying about me." She replied. "I wanted to remember you being care-free and happy." She reached up and laid her hand on his cheek.

"What about Candy?"

"Jay. This is why I wanted you to find her. When I leave you'll need the happiness that only she can bring to you."

"She would have loved to meet you."

"I would have loved to meet her, too." Jay sat there and just looked at his mother. She had been the only parent he had really ever known. She allowed him to do stupid things sometimes, just so he could learn his lessons. She was a strong queen. She ran her kingdom well. Then the shock registered in his mind. When she dies, he will become king. There was a knock on the door. Jay turned as the door opened. Ben walked in carrying Candy. She was wearing a beautiful navy blue dress that made her eyes stand out.

"Mother?" Jay whispered to her. She looked at him and smiled. "This is Candy." He said as Ben brought her over. Shanda Smiled at Candy.

"I have asked Candy to marry me."

"And…" Shanda's eyes still sparkled with mischievousness

"I said yes." Candy finished.

"I'm glad Jay found you in time." She reached out a hand to Candy. Ben moved closer so Candy could reach it. "Be good to Jay. He has a lot of heartache ahead for him." Candy nodded her head. "He'll be running the kingdom as well as getting used to being married." Tears fell down both their cheeks. "I wish I could be here for the wedding."

"Why can't you?" Candy asked. "Ben, can you put me down please." He did. She stood though still leaning lightly on him for support. "Why can't we get married now?" she said with determination

"Are you crazy, girl?" Ben asked.

"No."

"It takes hours to plan a wedding." Penny explained.

"Oh." Candy said sadly.

"You don't have a wedding dress or anything." Penny continued.

"I think it's a good idea." Shanda cut in.

"Your Majesty." Ben started.

"She can wear my wedding dress. All the servants can come in here." Then she looked at Ben. "You can go for the minister."

"Mother, are you sure you're thinking clearly."

"Jay. Don't question me. Now leave my room." Jay left. "Ben, put Candy in that arm chair and go for the minister." Ben obeyed. He left the room shaking his head. He mumbled something about a stubborn woman, but they couldn't fully understand him. "Penny, get my wedding dress out of the closet. It's in the black linen bag." Penny brought out the bag. Then pulled out the dress. It was a brilliant white, long and flowing with lace on the wrist length sleeves. It shimmered and glistened as millions of sequins caught the light coming through the window.

"It's beautiful." Penny and Candy gasped at the same time.

"I made that dress with my own hands." Shanda said.

"You made this?" Penny asked.

"It took me ten years to finish it."

"When did you start it?" Candy asked.

"When my parents told me I would be marrying a prince of their choice. I think I was ten."

"Wow." Penny breathed. "You are a wonderful seamstress."

"Thank you. Now, Candy, Try it on." Penny helped Candy slip it on. It fit almost perfectly. But good enough.

"You look like a queen." Penny gasped.

"She is your future queen." Shanda replied. The women giggled at the thought.

Are you sure I'll make a good queen?" Candy asked.

"If you learn quick and ask questions, you'll do fine." She looked at Candy. "You look almost like I did when I got married." Candy smiled at her soon-to-be-mother-in-law.

"Penny, go knock on Jay's door and make sure he's getting ready." Shanda said. Penny headed out the door. "Sometimes that boy doesn't think. That's why he needs a wife." She said. She and Candy shared a laugh.


An hour and a half later, everything was ready.

Shanda was propped up with some pillows so she was in a semi-sitting position. Jay came in and stood at the foot of his mother's bed. He looked at her and smiled.

"Are you ready Jay?" Shanda asked.

"Yes."

"Don't hit the floor when you see her though." She said with a laugh.

"I won't."

"I've seen her. You haven't."

A minute later, the bedroom doors opened. There stood Candy. Ben escorting her into the room. Jay could only stare.

"Told you so." Shanda whispered

Candy reached Jay and smiled. Then they turned toward the minister. They said the "I do's" the shared their first kiss. It was a quick sweet kiss. Candy walked over to the queen and kissed her cheek.

"Thank you for everything."

"You're welcome, darling." She replied. "Welcome to our family." Everyone cheered.

That night Shanda died happy. There was just enough forewarning to tell everyone. She died surrounded by everyone she loved and knew. Jay watched as his mother sent him and Candy one lasting smile. He now knew his mother had been warning him the whole time of this day.

"Jay." Candy whispered. Jay looked at her, tears streaming down both their cheeks. "I'll love you no matter what." She leaned her head against his shoulder and he rested his head on hers.


Thank you everyone who has read and reviewed on this story. There is at least one more chapter to come. I may continue with their children occasionally. But, we'll see.

Let me know what you think about that.