Friday, October 31, 2014

Long Ride Home "Lost Scenes" #4 and #5

Go HERE to learn what "lost scenes" are all about and to read everything from the beginning.
Here are a couple of short scenes. Andi showed up for dinner, all wild-haired and messy and was excused to go upstairs to change (which she doesn't for a bit). In the book, her mother knocks. But I originally dragged it out a bit longer . . .

Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home
Lost Scene #4

The knock on her door a few minutes later startled Andi, who as yet had done nothing to make herself presentable. Fearing it was her mother checking up on her, she sprang up, stripped off her overalls, and slipped a petticoat over her head. As she reached for a suitable dress, a second knock---more insistent this time---sounded, and a familiar voice brought her up short.
“Andi? It’s Justin. May I come in?”
Andi sat down on her bed and let the dress fall from her hand. Anger at her brother and his unwelcome guest welled up inside the girl like a geyser. Why hadn’t he given her some warning about his return?
“No,” she finally answered.
"May I ask why? I'd like to talk to you." Her brother’s voice was calm and reasonable, like always. Nothing ever upset him. He was a good listener too. Any other time Andi would have opened her door, thrown herself into his arms, and gladly unloaded all her petty complaints on him.   
But not tonight.
"I . . . I'm not dressed,” came her lame reply. She looked down at her full white petticoat and frowned. It wasn't much of an excuse, but it was the best she could come up with on short notice. She suspected Justin knew better, also.
"I see,” he remarked through the paneled door. "Honey, I can wait as long as you like until---"
"Oh, Justin, just go away. Please!" 
Justin heard his sister burst into tears and slowly turned away. With a shrug of helplessness, he returned to the dining room. 
Elizabeth saw the look on her son’s face that meant he had been unsuccessful. This has gone far enough, she decided silently. "If you will excuse me for a moment." She stood up and left the room.
Elizabeth did not even give her daughter the courtesy of a knock. She opened the door and found Andi lying on her bed, crying in earnest. She was quite an unappealing sight. 

Lost Scene #5
In the published book, after Elizabeth talks to Andi and insists she join the family at the table, the scene ends. The next chapter begins with Andi sliding down the door and so glad THAT meal is over with. A few back flashes come to her mind, but that's about it. Here is the original "supper scene" I deleted from the final book.

Chapter 4

Andi rejoined her family in the dining room a few minutes later, dressed in her best and quiet to a fault. She found her seat next to Melinda and sat down, then began to dish herself some meat and potatoes. She didn't dare look at the senator. She had seen the amusement in his eyes during her introduction earlier. She knew he must be thinking all sorts of unflattering things about her and the poor reflection she must be on her family.
           On the contrary, Senator Farley was impressed. "I'm glad you could join us after all, Miss Carter,"  he commented with a twinkle in his eye. He couldn’t help but notice the remarkable transformation of a wild and reckless tomboy into a lovely young lady with perfect manners. He wondered how she had managed it in less than ten minutes. He hadn’t thought it possible. His own young daughter, Sophia, took an interminable amount of time just to ready herself for school each morning---and Sophia had her own maid.
"Yes, sir,"  Andi replied quietly, acknowledging the senator’s comment with a polite nod. She went back to her meal without another word.
The mealtime conversation flowed around Andi in a soft murmur. She was grateful for that and hoped she could finish quickly and be allowed to escape either back to her room or---better yet---to the barn to be with Taffy. She listened idly as Melinda asked the senator about the latest styles in the nation’s capital, and heard the man respond with genuine interest. A few minutes later there was polite laughter over some ranch-related story Mitch told, and Andi was almost ready to admit that supper perhaps wasn’t a disaster after all.
"Say, Chad,"  Justin remarked suddenly. Andi’s ears pricked up. "Speaking of what’s new on the ranch, I noticed you finally got hold of that stallion you've been itching to buy. Did it cost us as much as you figured it would?"
"Unfortunately,"  Chad replied. "But he's worth it."
"How is he working out? I know the senator would enjoy a demonstration of what you've accomplished with the animal." He turned to him. "What Chad can’t do with a horse can’t be done, Jim.”
"I would certainly be interested in a demonstration. I saw the horse briefly when we rode up." He whistled. "Gorgeous animal."
"He's got a few rough edges yet," came Chad's hesitant reply. "I'm afraid he's not up to any kind of exhibition the next few days. He's still mighty jittery."
Andi groaned inwardly. Justin had inadvertently chosen the worst possible subject for table-talk. She glanced up quickly and caught Chad's eye. Please change the subject, Chad! she pleaded silently.
Justin plunged on. "Is that where the new corral fence came from? His rough edges?"   He indicated the direction of the yard. "I couldn't help noticing the new railings on the section by the barn. He didn't break out, did he?" Now Justin looked concerned. "That would be too bad if he did."
"No." Chad glanced quickly at Andi, then away. "He didn't break out. There was an unexpected concern this morning, but I got it under control." Chad swallowed. He felt uncomfortable with this conversation. If he wasn’t careful, the reason for the stallion's behavior today would come out, shaming Andi even more. And Chad, in spite of his quick temper, loved his sister and was not willing to let her foolish actions of that morning be aired more publicly than they already had. The ranch hands were acquainted with his sister's shortcomings. The senator was not.
"Well,"  Justin continued, helping himself to seconds, "as long as he doesn't get out. No telling what could happen if---"
"I said I had it under control, Justin," Chad broke in, silencing his brother with a look. 
Justin frowned, surprised at his brother’s tone. Even the senator could feel the tension in the air.
"Pass the biscuits, Andi," Mitch broke in. He really didn't want any, but he figured somebody had to do something to turn this conversation around.
The senator smiled across the table at the youngest Carter as she handed the basket of biscuits to her brother. He wanted to make her feel comfortable, to make her forget her embarrassment earlier. Surely there was some way to draw her into the conversation.
"And you, Andrea?" he asked lightly. "What do think of your brother's new stallion?"  
"He's all right, I guess," Andi answered with a shrug.
The senator grinned. "Only all right? He's more than that, I think. Don't you like horses?"        
When Andi simply nodded and continued eating, the senator knew he was fighting a losing battle. He turned to Elizabeth.“This is a delicious meal, Mrs. Carter. I wouldn’t say no if you were to offer me another slice of beef.” He smiled as the plate reached his hands, then he turned to ask Mitch a question.
Justin missed little. He knew something was wrong when his sister did not latch onto the subject of horses. Any other time a question about horses would have Andi and Melinda dominating the entire supper conversation. But even Melinda was unusually quiet tonight. In fact, everybody was quiet tonight. Something unpleasant had happened, and it was much more serious than his sister coming to the table dressed like a scruffy tomboy.
Justin was willing to bet it had something to do with Chad's new horse and the broken corral fence. He imagined the worst and suddenly realized why Andi had come in late for supper. Chad must have gotten after her for something really big to cause her to be gone most of the day. It was the only explanation for her not being here the minute he rode in this afternoon. Could she have teased the horse? Surely not! But then, all she had to do was get too close to him for Chad's liking. 
Justin determined he would find out at the very earliest opportunity. He caught Andi's gaze, smiled sympathetically at her, and returned to his meal.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Friendship in Flames part 3 by Anna

The conclusion!

Part 3
Andi awoke to the slow clopping of horse hooves beneath her. Afraid to open her eyes, she cringed as a splitting headache began. As her awareness grew she realized she was resting in front of the horse’s saddle; she was being carried by someone.
Consciousness now returned, she opened her eyes to meet her rescuer. Blinking, she stared up at the blond face and jumped. She was riding with none other than Cory himself.
Hastily, Andi slid off Cory’s gelding Flash to mount Taffy. Too late came Cory’s warning.
“Andi, stop! You’re too hurt!” Cory exclaimed as her boots touched the ground.
Andi’s feet crumpled underneath her weight, and she sprawled in the road. Pain shot through her legs. Taffy stared down at her mistress, apparently puzzled. With a moan, Andi struggled to right herself.
“Stay right there. Don’t try to get up,” ordered Cory. “I’ll help you back onto Flash.”
Andi became indignant. “I can ride fine by myself.” To prove her point, she pulled herself into a standing position. Immediately her knees buckled and she crashed to the ground. Pain came from everywhere.
Cory smiled weakly. “I’m sorry, Andi, but you’ll have to keep riding with me. You busted just about everything running from that fire.” He dismounted and plucked her off the ground.
At Cory’s comment, she suddenly remembered the terror she had felt just hours before and realized what she had been spared from. Memories washed over her and weighed her down.
“W-what happened? How did I get here?” she stammered in sudden shock, forgetting her headache.
Cory looked grim. “Andi, you don’t know what you were spared from. That fire took out miles of grass. If Taffy hadn’t flown by us kickin’ and screamin’ and carryin’ on so, well…  We might not have realized you were gone until who knows how late.
“Anyway, you were out cold, so Jack and I jumped on our horses and prayed we’d make it to you before the fire did. We grabbed you and hung on to the horses for dear life on the backstretch.”
Andi stared wide-eyed at Cory. “You mean you risked you necks in a fire for me…  Just like that?” She couldn’t believe her ears. “Thank you,” she finally managed, still in shock over her friends’ heroics. “I thought you weren’t getting along with Jack.”
Cory grimaced. “You noticed, huh? Well…  You see -…”
“You were jealous,” Andi finished for him.
“No,” Cory snapped defensively. “I was . . .” He paused. “Resentful. Look, Jack’s a swell guy, but all of a sudden you invited him along on our ride without asking anyone else. Then you seemed to have more fun with him than with us.” He shrugged. “I guess I got a little upset.”
Andi grinned sheepishly. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you first, but I didn’t bring Jack voluntarily. He won a bet I was sure I’d win; otherwise I never would have invited him.”
“Don’t apologize. I’m glad now that he came.”
“Except that he was the reason for the fire,” she reminded him. “Speaking of whom, where are Jack and Rosa?” she asked.
“They galloped off an hour ago to tell the ranch about the fire and get help for you.” Cory smiled. “I think after you get fixed up we may look back on today and laugh.”
Andi frowned. “We might,” she said, “except that valley we burned up was our ranch’s best grazing spot. Chad will skin me alive.”
“Wanna bet on it?” Cory asked impishly.
“Not on your life,” she retorted. “I’ve learned my lesson!”


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Friendship in Flames part 2 by Anna

I'm back with part 2. Sorry for leaving you on a cliff (literally). Well, actually, I'm not. Cliff hangers are fun!

Part 2

Skinning her elbow, Andi bumped and bruised her way down the hillside at top speed. Soundly knocking her head against a rock, she saw stars before joining her friends at the bottom.
Cory paused to look back at the spreading blaze. “Fire burns up when it can. It’ll consume the hill before starting across the flat ground.”
Jack nodded. “We should make a run for the creek while we have a head start. We may not make it as it is. Come on.” He and Cory took off sprinting for the blue line across the valley, motioning for the girls to follow.
Andi yelled after them angrily, “What about the horses? They’re tied to a tree. We can’t let them burn alive!” She imagined Taffy enveloped in thick smoke, rearing and lunging against the anchored reins.
“The horses are the opposite direction from the creek,” Rosa whimpered, tugging at her friend’s arm. “We won’t have a chance if we go back for them.”
Andi flinched at the true statement. We can’t risk our necks for any horses, even Taffy, she realized.
 “All right. Let’s go,” she agreed, pointing at the giant black cloud forming overhead. The two shot after the boys, legs pumping like never before.
Pounding across the parched valley with her friends, Andi dared not look back. The fear of the approaching flames kept her moving forward.
Her braids hit against her back in a monotonous rhythm and sweat rolled down into her eyes. Stumbling every few yards, she gulped air and tried to pick up her dragging feet. It was no use. Her boots seemed as heavy as lead.
Exhausted, she caught her toe on a rock and fell forwards. Andi tried to catch herself, but her elbows buckled and her face hit the hard ground. Her forehead began to throb where it had met the rock earlier. With a groan, she pushed with all her might against the prickly dry grass. She had no strength left; she could not move her limp body.
“Wait, help!” Andi frantically yelled after her friends.
Already far ahead, she saw them like tiny shadows, getting smaller by the second. Her voice the wind snatched from her mouth and prevented her friends from hearing.
She mutely stared after them as her sight became blurred; the pounding in her head only grew stronger. Too exhausted for tears, she chocked back a sob as the valley began to spin before her.
Faintly, she became aware of four other distant shadows heading for the creek. In her partial consciousness, it dawned upon her that they must be the horses, broken loose from the tree.
Seeing her beloved horse escape to freedom, she felt the last of her energy surge through her. For a moment her mind cleared and, pushing herself into an upright position, she gasped in a huge gulp of air. With all her breath, she parted her lips and whistled.
The pitch resounded through the valley and seemed to echo all around. Every muscle frozen, Andi waited. Time seemed a dream. For one terrible second, she doubted her horse. Then, relief like rain poured over her as Taffy, but a speck in the distance, skidded to a halt mid-gallop.
Tossing her head wildly, Taffy seemed unsure of what to do. Andi swallowed and prayed her horse would not shy away. The mare was always willing to come at Andi’s whistle, but no horse in its right mind would run straight towards a fire. For once Andi half wished Taffy was not in her right mind.
As her vision once again clouded, Andi whispered to herself encouragement meant for her horse.
“Come on, Taffy. You can do it. Please don’t just leave me here.”
Andi could feel the approaching flames’ heat on her back. There wasn’t much time. If Taffy would just come close enough for her to mount…
Glancing back at her horse, the last thing Andi saw was Taffy rear and plunge away towards the creek as if chased by invisible wolves.
“No, Taffy!” Andi screamed.
Please, God, don’t let me die like this, she prayed as a wave of black swept over her mind.