Friday, July 10, 2020

Photo Friday: "Shasta" (or Not?)

We are so excited! The Ross family has welcomed a new fifteen-year-old palomino gelding to their ranch! And guess what Ellie named him? (Well, it couldn't be TAFFY since he's it's not a mare.) So she named him SHASTA, and yes, she got that name from the Circle C books, even though this Shasta is not a chocolate palomino. He is 1/4 quarter horse and 3/4 thoroughbred, and 16 hands high! I cannot wait to get down there and ride him. He and Taffy are a little different. He has a "star," and Taffy has a "blaze." This Shasta has two back stockings, one front sock and one nothing (and Taffy has 4 white socks). Oh, well! We can't have everything!

 Ellie and Shasta 


My daughter is threatening to cut Shasta's a hair cut. I'm begging her not to.
He has such a sweet face.


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Old West Wednesday: Independence Day

So, how's your history? Andi's history knowledge is very good. In her classroom, the founding fathers are pounded into students' heads so that they will never forget how a ragtag bunch of thirteen very different and independent colonies of Britain came together to form the United States of America. It was not an easy road. Here are some interesting facts about those turbulent times.

1. One July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence. John Adams believed July 2 would be the date always remembered as Independence Day. He even wrote to his wife, Abigail, (or how else would we know about this if these guys were not good letter writers?), saying, "July 2 will be celebrated . . . as  the great anniversary . . ." and it should include "Pomp and parade . . . Games, Sports, Guns (oh, yeah!), Bonfires, and illuminations (fireworks?) from one End of this Continent to the other." He was right about the celebration, but so wrong about the date. It wasn't until two days later, on July 4, when the Congress formally adopted the Declaration of Independence and put their names to the official document. That year they shot of muskets and cannons (boys and their toys!), read the new document, and in general celebrated all the excitement. They did the same thing the very next year (July 4, 1777), even during the War. The War was still going on in 1778, 1779, 1780, and 1781! Yikes!

2. Before that fateful July 2 (or 4th) day, colonists held celebrations for the King's birthday. They rang bells, lit bonfires, had parades, and lots of speech making. Well . . . the summer of 1776, no more King George birthday parties, (at least not the kind the King might like to see). Instead, the colonists held mock (pretend) funerals for dear old George the Third. This symbolized the end of his tight hold on these American colonies.

3. When were the very first American fireworks shot off? July 4, 1777, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fireworks have been around since 200 B.C. (bless the Chinese for inventing that kind of thing!), but American shot them off in the one year anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The ships fired a 13-gun (and those are BIG guns on those old ships!) to honor the 13 colonies.

4. Fourth of July was not a National Holiday until 1870.

And now for some famous quotes from men who were determined to make sure that God's Hand was upon our country during it's founding:

1. “You will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve YOUR freedom. I hope you will make a good use of it.” ~ John Adams

2. “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” ~ John Adams

3. “Those that can give up essential liberty to gain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” ~Benjamin Franklin

4. “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” ~Thomas Jefferson

5. “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” ~ George Washington

6. “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.” ~John Jay.

And one more quote from a visiting Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, to America's shores in the early 1800s. He was trying to figure out what made America such a fantastic place. What was the secret to our country's greatness? Here is what he discovered.

"I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there. . . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there. . . . .in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there. . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.  America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."


Monday, July 6, 2020

Andi's Journal-The Fourth of July Part 1

Note from Mrs. M: Do not even ask how many parts this set of journal entries is. I've given up trying to hold to them.

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. It's been an extra special day for two years now, ever since Jared came into our lives. But this year, July 1889, Riley has made it even extra, extra special. My dream has come true! 

Fresno, CA, late 1880s Fourth of July (well, it's really Bakersfield, but the towns look just alike.)

Startled by the unexpected shout from outside, Andi lost her grip on the pie pan she was holding. Clunk. Splat! Gooey peaches and golden crust went everywhere, splaying across the wood floors and onto the hem of her split skirt.
She stared down at the mess, a frustrated groan working its way up her throat. As the door flew open and Riley stepped in, Andi allowed her disgust to bubble over.
“Riley Prescott, look what you made me do!” She reached for a rag and scrubbed angrily at the warm, sticky mixture. “That was supposed to be for our lunch tomorrow.”
“I’m sorry.” Riley’s expression was truly contrite as he bent to help her. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
His subdued apology soothed Andi’s ruffled nerves, and she straightened, exhaling slowly. “What has you so excited?” Her eyes narrowed, and she gasped. “Better yet, why is Jared not with you? Didn’t you—”
Her trail of questions grounded to a halt when Riley broke into a wide grin. He stood, his hands full of slippery peaches. “Jared is fine, my princess. In fact, I just left him with Matt so I could come get you.”
“Get me?” Andi’s brow furrowed. “Why?”
Riley dumped the discarded pie filling in a bowl and rinsed off his fingers. Then he reached for Andi’s hand. “C’mon, I’ll show you.”
Now fully bewildered, Andi stepped over what remained of the pie mess and allowed Riley to lead her outside. A blast of warm air greeted her almost immediately, the bright sunshine blinding her vision for a moment. She blinked and sucked in a shallow breath. The early afternoon heat pinched her throat.
And I thought the kitchen was warm . . .
Riley hustled her through the yard and into the barn. The sweet smell of alfalfa swirled with the even stronger odors of horse manure and old leather, causing Andi’s nose to tickle. 
No sooner did they enter the barn than Riley whirled to face her, his hazel eyes twinkling beneath his wide hat brim. “You know tomorrow is a very special day.”
Andi’s heart fluttered. “Of course, I do. It’s the Fourth of July, and we’ll be celebrating Jared’s second birthday in town. That’s why I was making the pie that you—oh, never mind.” She shook her head and gave into the smile that tugged at her lips, no longer able to resist joining in on Riley’s contagious enthusiasm. “What are you up to?”
He grinned. “I wanted to do something extra fun to help celebrate the Fourth. As in, something fun for both Jared and you.”
He paused in his narrative—no doubt to test Andi’s patience—and she nearly burst. “Well, are you going to tell me or not?”
Riley chuckled and pulled her farther into the barn. “I was talking to Chad the other day, and he told me there’s been something you’ve always wanted to do on the Fourth. He never had the time to help you with it, however. So”—he shrugged—“I figured I could step in.”
By now, they were standing in the wide, open area just inside the small barn. One glance, and Andi could see the floor had been swept clean. However, judging from the way her husband was acting, she had a feeling this wasn’t his big surprise. At least, it had better not be.
Not after he’d left Jared alone and startled her into dropping her pie and—
“Close your eyes for a minute,” Riley instructed.
Tingling with suspense and impatience, Andi obeyed. Riley gently tugged her forward, and she shuffled her feet, trying to figure out where he was taking her. Then—
“All right. You can open your eyes now.”
In no need of further urging, Andi’s eyelids unfolded. The picture before her made the breath leave her lungs in a whoosh.
Their wagon was decorated inside out with bright streamers of red, white, and blue. Fresh hay lay in bundles along the edges. On the side of the wagon, Riley had painted Memory Creek Ranch in large, red letters.
Jared and Matt sat up on the high seat, grinning down at her. “Su’prise!” Jared crowed.
Andi clapped her hands to her cheeks, squashing an unladylike squeal before it could surface from her lips. “Oh, Riley. A float.”
Childhood memories of eating fried chicken and biscuits after watching the Fourth of July parades in town flooded her mind. As much as she’d pestered Chad to let her make a float for the Circle C ranch, he’d always said no.
“It takes a lot of time and effort, little sister,” he’d told her. “Be thankful you get to stand under the awnings in the shade instead of sweltering with the rest of the ranchers, farmers, and businesses while they drag their floats around in one-hundred-degree weather.”
He had a point. But Andi had always clung to the hope that maybe someday he’d change his mind. Just for one Fourth.
Well, Chad might not have, but Riley was obviously fine with doing a float for their own Memory Creek ranch. Why else would her husband have poured so much work into gussying this wagon up?
Riley’s grin stretched wider as he leaned against the wagon. “That look on your face is priceless, darling. Do you like it?”
“Oh, yes! I certainly do.” Andi threw her arms around his neck and squeezed. “Thank you so much.”
Riley returned her hug, then gently pulled her away. “Well, the day’s a-wastin’. Jared needs to be cleaned up before lunch, and I think you have another pie to make.” He winked, and Andi laughed before playfully swatting him on the arm.
“Yes, sir, husband, sir. I’ll get right on it.” She kissed him and scurried from the barn, her heart pattering in a happy rhythm against the inside of her chest. Prickles of delight continued to skitter up and down her spine, even as she crouched to scoop up the remains of peaches and pie crust on her kitchen floor.
We’re going to be in the Fourth of July parade!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Saturday Surprise: Courageous Love Writing Challenge

It's not a contest but an opportunity to write a fun but unusual fan fiction story from Courageous Love. I offer this writing lesson in the enrichment guide for the Circle C Milestones, and I thought it might be fun to offer it here to. Read about "point of view" (it's a great exercise in writing and getting ready for the contest). Then send me your stories and I'll post them. Have fun! 
Point of View
A story's point of view is simply whoever is telling the story. The character telling the story in Courageous Love is Andi. She is the point-of-view character. The story unfolds through her senses (eyes, ears, etc.) and her thoughts. Since Andi can’t know anything she can’t see or hear, the reader cannot know it either. This is why the reader doesn’t know what has happened to Riley the night they are kidnapped. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Photo Friday: Fourth of July 1800s Style

So, I was trying to find a cute picture of a toddler "Jared" for a quick Fourth of July story. However, I was so surprised at most of these vintage Fourth of July pictures that I got sidetracked. So, sorry, no story. (Besides, the story of Jared being two is in the new Tales book). Get a load of these pictures. What do you notice about all of these children (boys and girls alike)? If you answered that they are all playing with guns and explosives, you are absolutely right. And it looks like they are having a fine time of it too. No commentary here. You can come to your own conclusions about whether we as a nation have 1) progressed in a good way, 2) stymied just about every little thing that might be defined as "violence" so even a cap gun is scary, or 3) ruined the fun of every little boy and girl for this holiday. What is the Fourth without loud noises and explosives? Take a peek at these 6 pictures below and see how our American ancestors allowed their children to celebrate the Fourth of July. "Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?" You decide.

But that was the way it was. One question. Can you imagine the outrage on Facebook or other social media if anybody created a modern-day meme with this idea? *wow*

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Old West Wednesday: Calling Cards

Note: This is a repost from 2014. Sorry, but Mrs. M is trying to bring all of her posts up to date. A large task. But at least "Andi" is blogging today. For those of you who have not seen this post, enjoy!

It finally happened. Melinda kept telling me a young lady needs her own calling cards when and if she goes visiting (they are also called "visiting cards"). I didn't figure I needed anything so fine and proper, but even Mother said I might want them eventually. So, down to the Fresno Expositor office I trooped. The newspaper office does all the printing in town.  I had high hopes that I could have a calling card with horses printed on them. No such luck.

A gentleman's visiting card

Mr. Marshall dragged out a bunch of designs in all sorts of colors. "The more colors, the more it costs," he warned.

I looked them over and my heart sank to my toes. "No horses?"   
Doves. Seriously? Why not horses?

"Sorry, Miss Carter. Not a lot of call for horses on young ladies' cards, I'm afraid." He chuckled. Very funny.

"And the fellas prefer a plain card with just their name," Mr. Marshall continued. "Could I interest you in these nice butterflies? Or some lovely doves?

The boys' cards were pretty plain, true enough. But the cards for young ladies were all a-swirl with roses and flowers and more flowers and butterflies and . . .  yes . . . even bees!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Andi's Journal: There Are No Words for This Shock: THE END

Yes, it is the last part. THE END is even written at the end. I figure half of you will be glad it's over. The other half will be pretty upset. Oh, well. Can't please everybody!

May, 1890

  A heavy fog seemed to hover over the next two weeks as my feelings of guilt and pain continued to mount. Each day the weight drew me closer and closer to hitting rock bottom. I couldn’t function. Couldn’t think.
All your fault, all your fault . . . The phrase was unrelenting and haunted my every waking hour. It woke me up at night and brought on uncountable crying spells.
Riley told me numerous times that it wasn’t my fault—that it was Daniel’s choice to leap into a burning barn and save Shasta—but I blocked him out. I was convinced Daniel’s death was on my head and I could not move past it.
By the time Benjamin and Lydia’s telegram arrived telling us they were on their way to California, my ever-growing depression made my heart certain there was no healing. My aunt and uncle would bear a grudge against me for the rest of their lives. I started to doubt that even God would, or could, forgive me for what I’d done.
The Tempter was doing a terrific job of keeping my guilt foremost in my mind.
On the morning of Daniel’s funeral, I got up long before dawn. Slipping into my housecoat, I tiptoed to the kitchen to finish pressing Riley’s good pair of trousers.
As I stoked the fire and prepared a kettle of water for boiling, several tears sneaked their way down my cheeks, splashing against the dark material I held in my hand. I flung the trousers against the table, as if by doing so I could rid myself of the wearisome burden I carried on my back. The motion caused something to slip from the tabletop and flutter to the floor, but I buried my face in my hands and ignored it.
I dropped to the ground. God—
I stopped. My warped mind told me praying was useless. God wouldn’t possibly listen to a wretch like me. At least not until I made everything right with Benjamin and Lydia. Which will be never.
Another sob tightened around my throat, squeezing till I could scarcely breathe. If only I could go back and undo everything. One mistake, one time leaving a lighted lamp in the barn, had cost me so much.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Saturday Surprise-Character Quiz: Daniel Carter

Congratulations, Elizabeth M.

We had a good number of entries, and a full dozen entries got all 20 questions correct. I used to choose the winner (since I didn't have the kids with me to pull out a piece of paper, LOL)

The correct answers are posted below. Thanks for playing! In July, I will post another one . . . this time for Rosa Garduno . . . as I have the questions for her already prepared. 

Everyone should do pretty well on this character quiz. After all, Daniel stars in just one book--The Last Ride. So grab your copy and flip through the pages to find the answers about our lovable--cousin you love to hate--DANIEL. As always, your answers should be in the form of:
1. A
2. C
3. B and so on. Send your entries to

And what about the prize? Okay, keep scrolling down.

Choose between a pair of posters, a tumbler, or (as always) a book of your choice (not including the upcoming Tales 2 book).


As always, the entry with the most number of correct answers wins. In the case of multiple entries with the same number of correct answers, a drawing will ensue.

Contest is open for six days, Saturday, June 20-Friday, June 26. Winner announced next Saturday. 


Fan Fiction Stories

Here are three new fan fiction stories that I'm putting up on the Fan Fiction Blog. Enjoy!




Friday, June 26, 2020

Photo Friday: Bobcat!

In a previous Photo Friday, I shared the rattlesnake video I created. I get excited when I see these things happening in Andi country. That video and the story my daughter told me about how flip-flop-clad Kristi (age 7) walked only inches from the snake and didn't even hear it buzzing, and how Kevan killed it with a shovel after stalking it across the yard prompted me to write a Tales story. Nope. No clues. You will have to wait and see what I did with the rattlesnake story. Here is the second part, i.e. the video of the snake crawling and Kevan in pursuit. Obviously, he was successful. Oh, and the curious hen who thankfully didn't get eaten.

Moving on to the next exciting presentation. The BOBCAT ENCOUNTER. I would love a story about a bobcat, but I have no time to think one up. The rattlesnake story was easy because well . . . it's a rattlesnake.

So, here is the scoop on the bobcat. They looked outside on morning (only three days after the rattlesnake adventure), and this beautiful bobcat seemed to be stuck with part of its leg under the duck tractor. A duck tractor is a moveable home, where the ducks spend the nights safely away from such creatures as the aforementioned bobcat. Well, this gal, Bobbie, had successfully managed to stick her paw under the duck tractor and grab duck legs. That's right. Ripped the legs right off three of them earlier in the week, so of course the ducks had to be put down. So the owner of the ducks (Christian, the boy on the cover of Andi Under the Big Top), nailed a strip around the bottom of the duck tractor so Bobbie couldn't put her patty paws under there any longer and snag his ducks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Old West Wednesday: Serial Stories

I think it's time to introduce you to the serial stories of old, since some of you are having trouble with either 1) waiting for the next chapter, or 2) disappointed that the conclusion is not coming in the Daniel Story (which totally needs a new name).

Back in Andi's time (1800s), the serial novel was one of the ways most families read novels. It's like watching current TV dramas, especially those who leave you off at the end of the episode. You have to wait an entire LONG week to see "part 2" or the "the conclusion." For Victorian-era readers, you were blessed if the next installment came the next week, or--more then likely--in the next month's issue.

For example, in By the Shores of Silver Lake (correct me if I'm wrong. I don't want to troop up to the attic for my copy) or maybe The Long Winter(?), Laura Ingalls' family came across a box of old Youth's Companion magazines. What a thrill it must have been to have all of the issues so they didn't have to wait impatiently for the next month! They did show remarkable restraint (Mary's doing, I believe, because Laura would have rushed through and read them all at once) and held off reading them all . . . so they would have something fun to look forward to the next evening.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Andi's Journal: There Are No Words for This Shock Part 6

I'm almost afraid to post this part this week. *smiles sheepishly* It is not the conclusion, but it could be. And if you all want it to end here, then I will say okay. But if you want to see if anything more happens, let me know in the comments. Because I apologize for leading you on with false claims that "next Monday is the conclusion." So I have renamed this as "The Never Ending Story." You can also express your thoughts on whether you saw this coming . . . as far as who burned down the barn. I await your comments with much expectation. ~ Mrs. M 

April, 1890

That very afternoon, Mitch rode into town and sent a wire to Aunt Lydia and Uncle Benjamin, telling them of their son’s passing and requesting they come to California immediately for the funeral, or to take his remains back to New York to be buried where they preferred.
Tears rose as I imagined their reaction to this unexpected telegram. Daniel had been the only one of their children who had survived infanthood, and Lydia and Benjamin loved him dearly. The news of his death would come as a heavy blow, especially since we still didn’t know who—or what—had caused the fire.
This is so hard, God. What should we do?
As night came on and darkness streaked the sky above Memory Creek ranch, I felt doubly restless. As much as I tried to persuade myself that everything was Daniel’s fault and he’d been killed by his own actions, things weren’t lining up. Scenes from only moments before the fire replayed in my mind—Daniel’s humble quietness during Sunday dinner and his genuine smile as he plopped a biscuit on Jared’s highchair tray and was rewarded with a toothy grin.
Riley told me Daniel had been working hard and improving his ranching skills. He could lasso a fence post now and mount a horse without trouble. He never complained when he was assigned a chore. Instead, he seemed to tackle the work with enthusiasm. Daniel had truly seemed to be on the path of reformation. Had something changed that?
 I shook my head and fiddled with the cup of tea I held. By now, the liquid was cold and unenticing, but I didn’t feel like brewing a fresh pot. With a sigh, I lifted my gaze to the dark shadows splayed across my kitchen table. It was after ten o’clock. The house was still, a startling comparison to the storm raging in my heart.
Riley, Jared, and Mother had drifted off into the land of dreams less than an hour before. I knew sleep would be long in coming for me, however, so there was no point in crawling into bed yet. Maybe now would be a good time to read Daniel’s letter.
The thought made me start, and the porcelain cup nearly toppled from my fingers. I set it down and drew several deep breaths. Where on earth had that idea come from?
Then Chad’s declaration from this morning drifted back. “The sooner you get that letter out, the better. It might answer some questions.”
I clenched my fists. Hmm, perhaps it’s worth a shot. At this point, anything was better than playing tug-o’-war with myself.
I pulled on my boots and made my way to the bunkhouse. The yard was dark and murky, and my eyes had a hard time adjusting. One of the men had lugged Daniel’s bag outside the bunkhouse door, and I nearly tripped over it. Oof. I should’ve thought to grab a lantern.
Too late. I seized the satchel and scurried back to the house, breathing a sigh of relief when I made it safely inside. Now, for a light. Riley and I owned only two lamps, and one was in the bedroom. That left me the one on the high shelf in the kitchen.
I dragged over a chair and climbed up, being careful of my belly. My eyes swept the shelf, and I frowned, puzzled. Where was the lamp? Riley and I were always careful to keep—
I froze. A sudden memory sent dread flowing through me. No, no! Please, God, no. Don’t let it be true.
I gave the shelf another frantic glance then stepped down from the chair and did a quick search around the kitchen. Still nothing. By now, Chad’s words from earlier were slamming themselves into my mind, causing black spots to dance before my eyes.
“We found glass, and plenty of it. What it’s from, we’re not yet sure.”
“I know.” My voice cracked as tears welled up. “I know where it came from.”
I did this. The fire. Daniel’s death. It’s all my fault.
Sunday morning, I’d woken up early and went out to visit Shasta, not taking the time to light a lantern but instead carrying the lamp with me. Then I’d heard Jared crying and bolted, forgetting all about the dangers of leaving a lighted lamp in a hay-filled barn. Shasta must’ve knocked it over, and the flames started right in front of his stall.
Just like that, I realized it was I who set our barn on fire and killed my own cousin. And yet all this time, I blamed him. I dropped to the ground as sobs barreled through me. He died saving Shasta. He must’ve. How could I have been so hardhearted and cruel to think he was behind this? Oh, God! Forgive me. Agonizing guilt rolled over me in waves. I didn’t even try to fight the sobs that built up in my chest. The weight in my heart seemed to be crushing my whole body.
A few minutes later, Riley’s hand settled on my arm. He attempted to pull me toward him, but I jerked away.
“Darling, what’s wrong?” Fear and the lingering effects of smoke made his voice come out in a harsh whisper, but I said nothing. I couldn’t. Riley didn’t give up. He grabbed my shoulders and gave me a small shake. “Andi, calm down. You’re going to wake up your mother and Jared.”
“I did it, Riley.”
Riley’s brow furrowed. “Did what?”
“I set our barn on fire. It’s all my fault!”
            “What are you talking about?”
I poured out the whole horrendous story. “I killed him, Riley,” I cried out in conclusion. “I killed Daniel.”
Riley grabbed my cold hand in both of his. “It was an accident, sweetheart.”
“But I blamed Daniel! He died saving Shasta. I know he did. I refused to believe he was truly reformed. Instead, I pinned the guilt on him.” Fresh tears fell. “I can’t even tell him I’m sorry.”
Riley sat back on his heels. He looked stumped. And confused. After all, my sobbing had just yanked him from a hard, much-needed sleep. Then his eyes landed on the satchel that lay on the floor beside me. Reaching for it, he asked softly, “Did you read Daniel’s letter?”
I shook my head. “No.”
“Maybe you should.” Riley rose and went to the bedroom, returning a moment later with a lighted lamp. I averted my gaze. I didn’t want to see another flame again for as long as I lived.
Riley sat down and broke the seal on the letter before allowing his gaze to again meet mine. “Do you want to read it, or shall I?”
“G-go ahead.” I hiccupped and hugged my arms against my chest, not making any move to stop the tears that continued to drip from my face and form puddles on the floor.
Riley unfolded the piece of stationery. Clearing his throat, he began to read. I tried to silence my sobs and listen, but Daniel’s words only caused the tears to flow faster.

Dear Andrea,
Nothing could ever adequately describe the amount of guilt and pain I’ve been carrying these last few years. I know I did you a lot of wrong, and I only wish there was a way I could make up for it.
A few months back, I began to attend church on a regular basis. Not because I was made to, but because I felt ready to hear more about God and Christianity . . . and the power of love and forgiveness. The pastor’s sermons hit me hard, and I gave my life to Christ.
It was then that I knew I should try to mend the gap between us, even if it took years to accomplish. Coming out to your ranch for a job seems to be the best way to do this, and I’m writing this letter now to give to you once I know you see the change in me and you won’t consider the whole thing a fake.
So, whether you’re reading this two months or two years after my arrival, it makes no difference to me. All that matters is that you’ve accepted my apology and given me a second chance. For that, I thank you.
Please know that at the first available moment to truly fix what my beastly acts toward you broke, I’ll leap for the opportunity.
Yours truly,

My thoughts stayed riveted on the last sentence. “I’ll leap for the opportunity . . .”
He had. He’d his life for the sake of my horse, but in reality, it went far deeper than that. He’d given up his life for the sake of healing my heart.
Riley gave the letter to me, and I clenched it in my hand. My eyes squeezed shut. I’m the one who needs forgiveness, Lord. I’m so sorry I doubted and accused Daniel like I did. Thank You for saving him before his death, and for showing me the truth.
Riley’s arm crept around me, and I buried my face in his shoulder. “I’m so, so sorry.”
He held me close but said nothing. Silence settled between us, broken only by my low sobs.
I’ll have to tell Lydia and Benjamin when they come for the funeral. The very idea caused a renewed wave of nausea to twist my stomach. Will they ever forgive me?