Six weeks later, Andi walked down the school steps with a sigh. School was SO much different without Cory. But, at least the first half of the term was over and it was only two months before Cory would be home for Christmas.
Justin wasn't finished at the office yet, so Andi walked around town. She was passing the post office when she heard Jack yelling at her to stop.
Turning, she saw Jack running toward her, waving a piece of paper. “Here's a letter for you, Andi . It's from Cory.”
Grabbing the letter out of his hand she tore open the envelope.
Jack looked at her. “What's he say?”
“He says he's doing well at college, he misses everyone here but has already made a good friend. His name is Micah Wilson and he might come to Fresno with Cory for Christmas,” Andi replied as she quickly scanned the pages.
“That's great news! Hey, what’s that?” Jack said, cocking his head to the side and listening carefully.
“Just listen, you'll hear.”
Andi listened. “It sounds as though someone's yelling but I don't recognize the voice.”
“That's what I mean. It's no one from around here. The accent is different. More southern. Want to go see what it is?”
Andi stuffed the letter in her pocket. “Sure. But let's hurry, Justin's bound to be done soon.”
Quickly but quietly they headed toward the sounds that grew louder as the approached.
“It seems to be coming from the behind the livery,” Andi whispered.
“You’re right.” Jack pushed Andi up against the side of the stables. “You wait here. I'll be back.”
“What?” Andi protested.
“I don't have time to argue.” Jack disappeared round the corner.
Slowly, Andi crept along the wall and peered around the corner. There stood two men who had suddenly quieted at the sight of Jack. Jack was talking to them in a low voice Andi couldn't hear.
Soon, Jack waved goodbye and started back toward Andi .
“They're looking for work. They just moved here from Kentucky. They're used to ranch work so I suggested your ranch to them.”
Andi looked startled. “Our ranch? What were they arguing about?”
Jack frowned. “I forgot to ask. I just asked who they were, where they came from and what they needed. And after I told them about the Carter ranch they got this glint in their eyes.”
“What do you mean?”
“I'm not sure. Almost as though I had just given them information they needed.”
“Needed for what?” Andi 's eyes were wide.
“I'm not sure. I wish I hadn't given them the directions to your ranch.”
“You gave them directions? Are they going there now?”
Jack nodded. “They mounted their horses and left. They were horses from the livery.”
Andi groaned “Oh, no! Mother is at home alone right now. Chad, Mitch and most of the ranch hands are trying to round up Whirlwind who escaped again and Melinda's suitor was going to take her out for a long buggy ride today.”
“We need to get Justin,” Jack said, hurrying down the street.
Andi hurried after him though he was far ahead of her. As she rounded the corner of the livery her foot caught on the trim of her dress and she tumbled to the ground, knocking down the person in front of her.
“Oh I'm so sorry!” she apologized. “Are you alright? I was hurrying because I need to get to my brother.
Just then the young man turned toward her.
“Riley!” she gasped.