Chapter 4 An unwanted surprise
Andi hurriedly threw back her covers and bounded out of bed. It was Sunday and after church she had promised to show Ellie around the ranch. Walking over to her closet, Andi grabbed a pink dress and held it up. Frowning at all the lace and ruffles it held, she shoved it back into the closet. Looking over her dresses she sighed. Mother and Melinda had nearly all of them loaded with ruffles and lace. She finally decided on a dark purple dress with only a pure white ribbon around the waist, and a short ruffle on the hem.
Dressing quickly, she tied the ribbon into a small bow and selected a string of pearls for around her neck. She sighed as she looked at her reflection in the mirror. Once she had turned 14, Mother had insisted she dress every bit a young lady, at least for church on Sunday. Andi brushed through her hair, braided it into one braid, and secured it with a small purple ribbon. Satisfied that mother would be pleased, she opened the door and started down the stairs.
Just as she reached the bottom, the breakfast bell rang. Laughing, she peeked in the parlor
“Breakfast time!” She said.
“Andi, finally!” Chad exclaimed standing up. “We were all wondering when you’d get up.”
“Well, if Mother didn’t insist on me getting all dressed up for church, I would have been down here at least twenty minutes sooner!”
Melinda laughed as they all walked to the table. “Just get up twenty minutes earlier, Andi. Besides, If you were my daughter, I’d make sure you dressed like a lady every day.”
Jem chuckled. “That’s why she’s thankful you're her sister and not her mother!”
After Justin prayed and blessed the food, they all began to eat. Small talk went on around the table and Andi was content to listen to it while she ate.Near the end of the meal, Ellie turned to her.
“Are we still going on the ride after church?”
Andi grinned. “You bet! I can’t wait!”
Ellie laughed. “Neither can I. I’m so anxious to see all around your ranch!”
Chad looked up. “Your showing her around the ranch, Andi?” he asked. “Would you like some company?”
Andi shook her head. “No thanks, Chad. We’ll be alright.”
Just then, Andi heard the buggy pull up in front of the house. A second later, Mitch walked in.
“Anyone ready to go?” he asked. ‘We’d better get a move on or we’ll be late for church.”
Soon everyone was in the buggy and they were heading down the road to church.
After the service, Andi had a fun time introducing Ellie to Cory, Jack, Virginia, and even Johnny who was unusually polite.
Still, she was glad when it was time to go.
As soon as they got home, Andi jumped out of the buggy and was about to run into the house when Mother’s voice stopped her. “Andrea, We’ll have lunch first then you can go on the ride with Ellie.
Andi’s shoulders slumped. “Alright, mother.”
In Andi’s opinion, lunch took way too long! Between Melida’s chatting about what her newest suitor, Mitch, Chad and Jem discussing ranch business and mother asking Ellie how she liked church, Andi felt as though she would burst from impatience!
Presently, Mother, noting her impatience turned to her. “Are you all finished eating, Andi dear?”
“You may be excused and go and get ready for your ride.”
Andi hurriedly left the table and ran up the stairs. “Slowly dear.” Mother called after her.
Ellie also excused herself and went upstairs to change though with less exuberance then Andi.
Soon they both met in the barn. Andi dressed in overalls and Ellie in a riding habit. Andi had already saddled Taffy and she was working on saddling Panda, who Melinda had said Ellie could ride. Ellie helped her finish and soon they were galloping down the lane.
After completing the tour of the ranch, Andi took Ellie down by the creek where they rested the horses.
“Thank you so much for the tour around the ranch. It is a very pretty ride and its beautiful how the fields seem to go on forever.” Ellie said once they had dismounted the horses.
“You welcome. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!”
Ellie walked down to the edge of the creek and dipped her hand in. “Oh, it’s cold!” she exclaimed. Then turning to Andi she asked. “Is this your ‘secret place’ where you come to get away?”
“Yes.” Andi replied. “I come here often. In the summer I fish a lot and sometimes Cory fishes with me. other times I just sit here and think.”
Ellie nodded. “That’s what I thought. I used to have a place like it also when I was younger. I had a lot of adventures there!”
Andi laughed “I’ve had a few here as well! But, I think the most memorable one was when I met my step-brother for the first time down here at the creek.”
“Wow, that would be an adventure! What happened?”
Andi explained to Ellie how She, Rosa and Cory had been riding when they came down to the creek, found Troy, and helped him. Not knowing until later that he was after Kate. Just as she was finishing the story, Taffy let out a sharp whinny and Andi heard a gun cock behind them. Whirling around, she saw a man standing there with a gun pointed at her. His face was one Andi knew all too well.
“Well, little sister, we meet again.”
Andi shuddered. Not him, anyone but him.