"Good Morning, Justin!" Andi called as she entered the dining room. "Good Morning, Mother! I am glad Mr. Foster is still sick," she said with a mischievous grin.
"Hi, sis! Sleep good?" Justin set down his coffee cup. "Did Chad tell you about last night?"
"No. What happened?"
"Al Jones was killed last night."
“Al Jones? Oh, that man who lived alone in a little cabin a few miles out of town? He was a loner, not usually getting in fights. How—”
"He was shot as he was coming out of the saloon late last night." Justin said, as if reading her thoughts. He shook his head and sighed. "But that's not the worst of it."
"What do you mean?" Justin was acting strange.
"They're blaming Cory."
"What? CORY? You're kidding me. Cory would never—"
"Calm down, sis. I don't think it's him either, but he was seen running away from the saloon only moments after shots were heard. And some people in town are jumping to conclusions."
Andi's blood was boiling. How could anyone blame Cory, of all people? "I can't believe anyone would think such a thing! Everyone likes Cory."
"I guess now you know how people felt when you saw Ben Decker killed. Everyone likes Peter, too."
"But that was different!" Andi was almost yelling. "I actually saw that. This is totally—"
|Cory? A killer? Is it possible?|
"I know, Andrea, but please lower your voice," Mother broke in. "Would you like some breakfast?"
Andi shook her head. That was the last thing she wanted right now. Tears blinded her as she stumbled back up to her room and flung herself on the bed. She gave way to angry sobs. She wanted to . . . Oh, Cory!
She sat up and wiped her eyes. Crying wouldn't do a bit of good. But what would? What could she do? She felt like riding straight into town and clearing Cory of all charges. She sniffed and shook her head. As if she could really do that. But she had to figure something out.
Half an hour later, Andi tiptoed downstairs. She heard Justin talking to their sister. "Cory asked me to help him. He's real upset over this."
"How's Andi taking it?" Melinda asked.
"She took off up to her room half an hour ago. I guess . . . Oh, here she is! Andi, are you okay?" Justin looked concerned.
"I . . . I'm okay, I guess." But she was still mad.
Mitch came over and hugged her. "Everything will turn out alright, Andi. Justin can help Cory. Don't worry."
Andi nodded and returned the hug. "Thanks, Mitch. I think I'll go for a ride."
"Go ahead. It will be good for you," Justin agreed.
Andi managed a small grin before heading to the barn.
As she lay on the ground beside the gurgling creek at her special spot, Andi tried to think. She was too mentally exhausted to feel angry anymore. She didn't have the heart to cry. And she . . . "Who's that?" she asked aloud.
Someone was riding toward her. "It's . . . Chad?" She recognized his horse, Sky. As he neared, Andi wondered why he was coming out here. He pulled up beside Taffy and tied Sky next to her.
"Hi, sis," he greeted her and sat down beside her. "I figured you had come here. I guess you're probably not too happy about the news."
Andi nodded and swallowed.
"Andi, don't worry. Look, there's not nearly enough evidence against him. And soon everyone will realize that. Trust me." He lifted her chin and looked into her eyes. "We all love you. And everyone likes Cory. Please try not to get too riled up."
"You'd be mad too, if one of your best friends was being blamed for something he didn't do!” She blinked back the tears that threatened to come.
"Yes, that's natural. Mitch felt that way when Peter was blamed for killing Ben Decker. But just be patient. The truth will come out. Okay?" He smiled reassuringly.
"Ok. I love you too, Chad."
He pulled her into a hug then stood up. "We had better get back to the ranch. You know how Mother is about meals.” He grinned. “On time, no matter how crazy things are!"
"You know, I am actually sort of hungry. I forgot all about breakfast!" Andi untied Taffy, then mounted. "Race you back, Chad!"
Roseanna's part 2 is coming tomorrow . . .