They were both waiting for an answer, but Andi couldn’t think. Her mind was frantically trying to come up with an excuse, but nothing showed itself.
“I-I don’t know,” she stuttered in confusion. “How can you expect me to come up with a decision on no notice.” She gradually grew bolder. “You must give me at least a day to think on it, please!”
Troy was obviously not happy with the arrangement, but he and Johnny had a whispering conference over on the far side of the hill. They at last seemed to come to a decision. “If you have to think, I’m going to leave you with Johnny and take care of some business,” her brother in law said with decision in his voice.
Andi knew better than to argue and kept her thoughts to herself.
Troy was soon gone, and Johnny came over to her. “So,” he said in a surprisingly nice voice. “How have things been going with your ranch and the town?”
Andi looked up, startled, but kept herself wary. “Pretty much the same, thank you.”
Johnny sat down on the ground in front of her. “I’m really sorry about all this, but I wanted to have a talk with you and this seemed the only way.”
Andi gave him a disbelieving look.
He saw it. “No, really, I’m changed.” Another look of disbelief from Andi. “A couple of years away from home helped I guess.” He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I realized what a nasty person I was, and I got right with God.”
Andi raised an eyebrow, still not believing him.
“I know this may sound crazy, but I want to apologize to you.”
Again, Andi raised her eyebrow.
“Please, could you forgive me, especially…” he paused and reddened.
Andi guessed what he was thinking, and it made her blush too at the recollection. She saved him the embarrassment of saying it out loud, and quickly interrupted. “Of course I forgive you, and if you have changed I’m glad of that to.” She emphasized the ‘if,’ showing that she still couldn’t quite bring herself to believe that such a change could happen to the town bully.
Johnny somewhat darkened at the ‘if’, but he controlled himself all the same. Andi was quite surprised at this conversation, but Johnny really did seem sincere. She hardly dared to hope that he may have changed that much.
There was a crackling in the bushes, and Johnny jumped to his feet. It appeared to Andi that their interview had ended for the time being, and she was right. Troy appeared, holding up a brace of rabbits. Johnny went over to him and the two of them left her quite alone as they prepared a meal for themselves. Andi was sure that she probably wouldn’t get any, but she couldn’t help looking at the cooking rabbits without her stomach growling. She turned away and tried to focus on the decision she had to make, but her hunger didn’t allow her to.
She was startled when a hand was laid gently on her shoulder, and she turned to see Johnny offering her a plate of food; he untied her hands to let her eat. She stammered her thanks in reply and quickly started eating to hide her surprise. He gave her a smile, a genuine smile of friendship, before returning to camp.
Andi didn’t know what to make of this: Johnny Wilson, nice? She couldn’t believe herself, or Johnny. What if it was all play-acting, and he was just waiting for her brother in law to leave before . . .? Andi shuddered to think what he may do. But he seemed to be nice for real. Could she trust his actions? But then, why did he help kidnap her? There must have been some reason. The questions ran through her mind, barely giving her time to think them before being replaced by new.
She shook her mind off Johnny and continued with her meal, her decision coming back again to haunt her. Could she deceive her family? Could she possibly cause them great financial harm? Could she give them even more trouble? She knew well that she was already causing a lot of worry and fear for her family. She sighed. Why did things always happen to her? Why was trouble always following her around?
She watched as her brother in law went to bed and Johnny Wilson re-tied her hands before continuing to sit beside the fire with the gun, obviously to keep her from running away. Settling herself down with her back to the rock, Andi closed her eyes and tried to get some rest.
Dreams came of happier times, of her and Taffy riding over the trails, of races with Cory and Jack, Taffy always well ahead. Times when her family was gathered together for family devotions after dinner, Rosa and her mother joining their happy circle; Justin’s rich, calming words as he read through the Bible.
She smiled happily in her sleep, forgetting for a time her troubles, God blessing her with sweet rest, at the end of a long day. Refreshing her mind for the decision He knew she would have to face upon awakening.