Life goes on... (by Mallory Quinn)
Chapter 3: “The dinner party”
Coming back home after so many years, was a very strange feeling. You feel like you forgot stuff and yet you didn’t. No more curfews, bombing… seeing your friends dying one by one…Alistair was in the shower thinking about his day. Arriving in Chicago, at the hospital. He was secretly hoping to see Candy there when he saw St. Joan’s building. And she was, he was so happy to see her and her reaction when she saw him…Then when she woke up, the unexpected kiss… he accidentally fell on her lips and he couldn’t help taking advantage… the news about Patricia was very upsetting. He had plans to marry her. He had fulfilled his duty to his country. It was hard, it was painful, it was depressing almost everyday, no not almost, every single day… He was making a good face in front of his family because he was happy to see them, but the war, the news about Patricia… He cried in the shower. He will never see her again. He had promised her he wasn’t going to go, and then he took off and left her with a “dear Jane” letter. He didn’t get to say goodbye to her. He was never going to see her face again… And then there was Candy, his last thought when his plane went down, was for Patty and Candy… Patty was gone and Candy was still there…
“What am I thinking? I must be nuts!” He said in head
But how crazy was he? He never thought in a million years he would ever going to have a chance with Candy… A chance with Candy? Did he really have that? He got used to looking at her from afar without touching her…watching her getting close to Terry at school and in Scotland. Watching his brother pining over Candy, heartbroken… He remembered when his brother’s love declaration for Candy got interrupted by Annie’s cries… Archie was devastated he didn’t get to declare his love for Candy whom he loved so much… Now she was available and he was married to Candy’s sister and about to be a father…Alistair will have to have a talk with him. He got ready. Life was short, life was precious, life was unpredictable… He thought he was coming back to Patricia…
There was knock on the door.
- Come in! He said
Candy appeared. She was dressed with a beautiful beige dress and her hair was down.
- Alistair? She said, are you ready?
Alistair was wearing a black suit and a white shirt. His hair was still short, he looked more matured and he lost a little weight and he looked taller. He had also shaved his 2 day beard she liked…
- Yes, Candy, he said smiling, you look beautiful
- Thank you Alistair. You look handsome too, said Candy smiling
- Thank you Candy…
- Are you ok?
- It’s just so…weird to see that nothing is like I left it….
- You’re thinking about Patricia? I’m sorry
- My last thought when my plane went down for …
- Patty… I’m so sorry, said Candy
- Yes, for Patty but also, for you, he said softly
- For me? She said surprised
- Yes, Candy, my last thought was for you….
They looked at each other. There was something…. She remembered when he took her to the train station and gave her the music box… She felt like he wanted to say something…she had the same feeling at that moment too…But…
- I think we should go downstairs then, since we’re both ready…, he said
- Oh…sure, said Candy a little confused
“What the hell is going on? Every since that accidental kiss, I can’t get him out of my head!” Said Candy in her head
Alistair took her arm and they both went downstairs to the big living room, Eliza saw Candy coming with a man without realising who it really was.
- The stable girl is coming with her lover from her bedroom! Archie how could you tolerate her promiscuous life in this mansion?! That’s inadmissible!
The living room was full of guests. They stopped talking to listen to Eliza who said that loud enough so the guests would hear. Candy entered the living room alone.
- My what Eliza? Promiscuous life? Are you sure you’re not talking about yourself?
- How dare you?! Said Eliza, where’s the man who just came from your room with you? You probably had a little fun before the party
- Is that was you do, Eliza? Said Candy
- Eliza, not tonight! Said Archie, we have guests…and a surprise…for the whole family
- A surprise? Said the great aunt
- Yes…Candy would you bring the surprise? Said Archie
- All right Archie, said Candy
Candy went in the hall way to go get Alistair, who was waiting for her. She came back alone…
- Where’s the surprise? Said the great Aunt
- In a second, Aunt Elroy, said Candy, you’ve always accused me of causing Alistair’s death, even though I wasn’t even in Chicago when he left…
- You brought bad luck to this family, ever since you’ve entered our family…
- Really? Before you knew me, nobody in your family ever died? Asked Candy, did I caused, Anthony’s mother’s death, or Albert father’s for that matter?
- How dare you talk about the members of my family!? Said the great aunt
- Well you accuse me of killing every member who have the misfortune to die… Anthony… I can take some of the blame; it was my adoption party… but Alistair? I’m completely and totally denying killing him or causing his death…
- He’s dead because of you!
- No, he didn’t! He left because he felt he had a duty to his country and he certainly didn’t die because of me…
- You brought us bad luck…
- Oh enough already with the bad luck! Said Candy, come in Alistair…
- What did you just say? Said the great aunt? How could you be so cruel? How could you hurt me like that?
- You don’t have a heart, stable girl! How dare you speak to Aunt Elroy like that? Archie! You’re going to let her talk like that to aunt Elroy?!
- Shut up Eliza, said Candy, I’m not done yet…
- But…, started Eliza
- I said shut up! Said Candy, you’ll talk when I’m done!
- This girl has no manners whatsoever! Said Mrs. Reagan
- I asked you to teach me manners, Mrs. Reagan, so if I have no manners, I take it from you! Said Candy
- How dare you!? Said Aunt Elroy, Archie…
- Are you going to let me talk already? Said Candy loudly, I was saying something…
- Go ahead Candy, said Archie smiling
- Archie! Said Aunt Elroy
- Go ahead Candy, he said ignoring aunt Elroy
- Thank you Archie said Candy smiling. As I was saying I wasn’t responsible for Alistair’s death….
- Why? I said you were! Yelled the great aunt
- Why Aunt Elroy, said Alistair coming in, even you can’t pin this one on Candy…
The great aunt’ face, which was darker than everybody’s, suddenly, became white as a sheet. She was in shock…
- Alistair? She said not very sure of herself
- Yes… Aunt Elroy, it’s me! I’m here, I’m alive!
- You’re alive! She said in a whisper, oh My God! My God! My…
She felt bad all of a sudden. She was hyperventilating and she finally fainted on her armchair. Candy ran to her.
- Great Aunt! Said Eliza, you see what you did Alistair? You couldn’t have stayed dead?
- It’s good to see you too, Eliza! Said Alistair
- She’s going to be fine, said Candy, looking at her
- No thanks to you! Said Mrs Reagan
- Aunt Sarah, said Alistair, it’s always good to see you…
Sarah was a little ashamed and she went and hugged her nephew.
- It’s good to see you , she said
Mr. Reagan shook his hand.
- Welcome back Alistair, he said
- Thank you, said Alistair
Eliza actually hugged him!
- Oh Alistair! Thank God you’re alive!
- It’s actually good to see you too, Eliza! Said Alistair
Neil approached them and Alistair let go of Eliza.
- Hey couz, said Neil
- Neil, said Alistair hugging him, believe it or not, I missed your stupid face at the war!
- How is it that you’re alive? Asked Mr. Reagan
Alistair let go of Neil and answered.
- Let’s wait until Aunt Elroy wakes us, so I won’t have to repeat myself. In the meantime, I’m going to say hello to our guests, said Alistair
- You don’t want to give her the treatment you gave Alistair, said Candy whispering to his hear
- You don’t know how tempted I am…, he whispered
They burst out laughing looking at each other. Archie was wondering what they were talking about. Couldn’t they share it with everybody?
Alistair went smiling to greet the guests with Candy. The guests were glad to have witnessed the family reunion. The great aunt came to after a while… and Alistair hugged for a long time.
- How could you leave us?! She said, how could you break our hearts like that?!
- I’m here now, aunt Elroy, said Alistair kissing her on the cheek, and I won’t leave you again…
- Now tell us how you survived the war and why were you declared dead…
- Yes, I heard I was buried too… rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated…
Everybody was laughing, everybody was happy. They all sat around, some guests were standing and Alistair started to tell his incredible story.
He was at the war for a while when he lost his good friend Dominic. He was of course devastated. But he had also noticed something. The great aunt had sent people to look for him to take him back to America. He had to hide a few times to escape them. When he was hit during that battle in the sky, with his plane he was able to eject on time, before the plane crash completely. But he was kind of lost and the pilots who came back, said that his plane went down in flames. But his body was never recovered.
- So I thought that since the news of my death was already in America, Aunt Elroy’s people would stop looking for me… I recovered and I went back to the army. I was held prisoner for a while in the enemy camp, I escaped…I got shot a few times, I’ve got the scares to prove it, but I was still whole. Since every body thought I was dead here, I decided not to write again, so that if I die again, you wouldn’t be sad a second time because of me… I’m sorry for everything, for Patricia…. I’ll never see her again. But I was just trying to protect you in case I die again…
- You didn’t think about coming back to us? Said Archie
- I’m not a coward. I knew what I was getting into by going to the war… I was there to fight and that’s what I did… I’m sorry for hurting you all, by leaving without telling you, by dying on you, coming back from the dead…
- Don’t apologise for coming back Alistair, said Candy, this is the most wonderful news in the world for all of us!
- Candy is right, said Aunt Elroy, don’t you dare apologise for that!
- I was at the hospital getting ready be checked by the doctors and come back home when Candy found me…, he said looking at her with fondness
Candy smiled back at him and Archie saw them looking at each other and he felt weird, a twinge in his heart.
- There …that’s the whole story. I wanted so much to tell you that I was still alive, but I didn’t want the great aunt to send people looking for me anymore.
- So it’s my fault we’ve all suffered, said Aunt Elroy
- I don’t blame you for caring about me enough to send people looking for me Alistair, but you put their lives in danger just to look for me…
- Oh my God, I only cared about you, she said
- But you see, there were others involved…, you can’t just think about one person… I’ve learned what solidarity is at the war…I was lucky to be alive, because people took me in and hid me from the Germans, people I didn’t know from Adam, who could’ve been killed if the Germans had found out I was hiding in their house… Solidarity, Aunt Elroy, we can’t just think about ourselves anymore… The world is wounded and we need to help each other now, stop blaming each other, and move on to a better future of peace… You have no idea how good it feels not to hear bomb falling anymore… All right, enough with depressing subjects
- We’re glad you’re back bro, said Archie smiling
Archie made a sign to some servers who walked around with a tray full of glasses of champagne. When everybody had one, but Annie had orange juice since she was pregnant. Archie raised his glass:
- To my brother, who give us the best surprise of the world by coming back from the dead …!
- Even though you buried me, said Alistair smiling
- Well, said Candy, rumours of your funerals have been greatly exaggerated!
Everybody burst out laughing and raised their glass.
- Welcome back Alistair! They said
They started clinking their glasses and they drank to Alistair’s return. Candy was drinking champagne and she couldn’t help thinking about when she drank champagne on the Mauritania, the night she met…Terry. That was so long ago. She had to move on… Archie walked to her with his friend, Brandon Sutton.
- Candy? Said Archie, this is Brandon Sutton…
- We met earlier, said Candy smiling
Candy looked at the young man. He was good looking; he had light brown and nice light blue eyes. He was smiling.
- Master Sutton, said Candy, good evening again, I’m so sorry for your loss…
- Thank you Miss Andrew, he said
- You can call me Candy…
- If you call me Brandon, he said smiling
- Candy is a nurse, said Archie
- Really? You’re working as a nurse, when you’re family is so wealthy?
- I like to do something with my life, taking care of patients at the hospital, is what I like to do
- Well I don’t really like hospitals ever since my wife passed away…pregnant with our baby
- That must still be very hard on you
- Would you care to come with me outside and breathe some fresh air?
- Of course, said Candy smiling, sirs…
The two brothers were smiling but Alistair didn’t really like it. Candy walked away with Brandon, talking. Candy was trying to console him. Alistair looked at his brother.
- You’re setting her up with a widower? Said Alistair
- Yes, don’t you think they would make a wonderful couple? Said Archie
- The guy just lost his wife, he’s on a rebound! You want Candy to be his rebound girl?
- What’s your problem Alistair? They might hit it off…
- The guy is wounded… he just lost his wife…
- You just lost Patricia, wouldn’t you want a nice young girl like Candy to make you feel better?
- I don’t see you setting me up with anybody…
- You just came back; give me a chance to look for someone for you…
Alistair looked at his brother, he didn’t want to set him up with Candy, he was like, avoiding the subject with his brother… ever since he learned about the kiss…
- No thanks, said Alistair a little upset, I can find my own dates, thanks!
Alistair walked away. Archie looked at him go. His brother was too comfortable with Candy and it made him uncomfortable too…
Dinner was nice; Candy was sitting next to Alistair who was trying to tell funny stories on the war. He was putting humour in a sombre chapter of the history of the world. Candy was looking at him. She was so happy to see him, to hear him talking. After dinner they all had coffee and tea in the big living room. Alistair was with Candy on a corner.
- So how’s your date? He asked Candy
- He’s nice…
- Don’t tell me you like that dandy!
- Alistair, he just lost his wife, I’m being nice and he’s charming…
- Charming? What about me?
- What about you?
- I just came back from the war and I lost my fiancée …
Candy looked at him. He was right. He needed some comfort too… She smiled.
- Alistair, you live here, I live here too. You can see me anytime…
They looked at each other. Alistair felt better when he looked into Candy’s eyes, his heart was racing…he felt a hot flash.
Candy took his arm.
- Let’s go for a walk in the garden…, she said
- Very well Candy, he said, I need some air…
They went for a walk in the garden. Archie was talking with his guests when he realised that Candy and Alistair were missing. He looked for them discreetly and saw them outside in the garden, sitting on a bench. Alistair was holding Candy by the shoulder and she had her head on his shoulder… There was that weird feeling again… He was feeling a vibe between them that made him very uncomfortable.
When the guests were leaving, Brandon was inviting Candy for dinner for the upcoming Saturday.
- All right Brandon, she said smiling, and I’m not working this weekend, so dinner would be great.
- I’ll pick you up around 7:30 pm
- I’ll be ready…
Brandon kissed Candy’s hand, this last one giggled. Eliza looked at them. Brandon was handsome and he had just lost his wife.
“He’s a good catch; she said to herself, I’m going to have him! This time Candy, you’re not going to win!”
Brandon left with the other guests. The Reagan also left, Eliza on Brandon’s trail…
The Great aunt was so happy she couldn’t stop smiling, even to Candy!
- Candy, I’m sorry for accusing you of being a bad luck charm…, my nephew is back and I’m the happiest woman on earth!
- That’s good Aunt Elroy, said Candy smiling
- I’m going to bed, Good night everybody! Said the great Aunt
- Good night, said everybody
The matriarch left to go to her bedroom, with a smile on her face.
Annie approached Candy.
- That’s definitely a 180! Said Annie laughing
- Indeed! More like a 360! Said Candy laughing too
- Yes! Said Annie laughing some more, I saw you talking to Brandon… So?
- So what?
- What do you think about Brandon?
- He’s nice…
- Just nice?
- Yes… just nice. I’m going to have dinner with him on Saturday, we’ll see then… How are you feeling?
- I’m fine said Annie; I’m going to go up…
- Go ahead, I’ll go up in a second…, said Candy
- All right, said Annie good night Candy
- Good night Annie.
Annie went upstairs and Candy walked to Alistair.
- Hey, how are you?
- Not to bad…
- I have a date with Brandon
- I know… don’t you think it’s too soon?
- For whom? Him or me?
- Him… he just lost his wife… you’re going to be his rebound girl
Candy looked at him surprise. What was that all about? Why wasn’t he supportive? She thought he was her friend…
- Rebound girl? What do you mean by that?
- Well he’s a new widower…and you’re young and beautiful…
- So, he’s interested in me only because he lost his wife?
- He can’t be attracted to me, period? Am I not worth it?
- Yes, you are, but…
- But what? Am I second best or something? That’s not very flattering!
- I didn’t say you were second best…
- Then what are you saying?
- It’s just that…
- What? I can’t go out to dinner with a nice man without everybody imagining me married to him? And if that’s the case, it’s my life! I can live too, you know!?
- I thought you were my friend Alistair, why would you say something like that?!
- Candy it’s not what I meant…
- I’m going to bed! Good night Alistair
- Candy, wait!
But Candy was already gone. Archie looked at the scene happy in his heart. They were arguing, not getting closer…
Alistair looked at Candy go sadly…He was unable to explain what he meant. He should probably leave her alone and just be her friend… but his heart was telling him other wise… He stood there, thinking about everything but especially about Candy. Archibald approached him.
- Hey bro, let’s go to bed…
- Yeah, let’s go…, said Alistair sadly
He had an agitated first night at the mansion. He was having nightmare of the war; the bombing, the plane crash, the shooting… He woke up screaming in the middle of the night…
Candy was in her room sleeping when she heard Alistair screaming. She got out of bed, put on her robe and she went to his room. She knocked and got in, the door was unlocked…
- Alistair? She said, are you ok?
She walked to his bed. Alistair was a little ashamed. He was a soldier, he should be braver, but the nightmares of the war were unavoidable, after everything he had been through… he was shaking…
- It’s… it’s… nothing Candy… you can go back to your room…
His voice was trembling, you could feel the fear. Candy took him in her arms...
- It’s ok, Alistair, it’s ok… you’re suffering from post traumatic stress…
Alistair felt Candy’s arms around him and he felt a lot better. She was like a soothing cream on his war wounds…
Archie heard the scream too and when he got to Alistair’s bedroom the scene he found was heartbreaking for him. Candy comforting Alistair, so gently… he didn’t dare disturb them… He hated to admit it, but Alistair needed Candy…