The rest of the day Rosa and Andi helped decorate. Andi got tired of it after a while, especially with Melinda being so picky about how everything was. After a hurried supper, Andi went to bed. Exhausted, she fell asleep almost before her head hit the pillow.
The next day, Andi bounded out of bed and slipped on her overalls. Today is going to be a great day! She thought. Andi ran downstairs and slid down the banister, without thinking. Whoops! Melinda was standing at the bottom of the stairs with her arms crossed and a frown on her face.
“Andrea Rose Carter, why did you do that?”
Andi gulped. “Melinda, I was so excited I forgot!!” She ran off to the kitchen and hurried through her breakfast.
“Slow down, or you’ll choke.” exclaimed Mitch. “Even I don’t eat that fast!"
Andi sa ton Melinda’s bed, trying to pretend she was interested in Melinda’s newest suitor. The only reason she went in there was because she was so bored. The company wasn’t going to be there for 2 more hours! It was only 11 o’clock.
“Andi, do you think on my next outing with Max I should wear this together, or should I wear this?”
Andi groaned and picked what she thought was the ugliest.
Melinda laughed. “Don't think I don't know what you just did!"
Andi acted innocent. "What?"
"You just choose the dress you thought was the ugliest."
Andi laughed. "You're right! But I still don't know how you figured that out."
“It was easy. You looked disgusted when you picked it." Melinda changed into one of her nice dresses. Andi helped her lace up the corset and fixed her hair. When she was done, she stepped back.
"Well, I have to admit you look really pretty!"
Melinda laughed. "Thank you. That is a rare compliment coming from you."
Andi looked at the clock. "Wow! How did the time go by so fast? They'll be here in an hour and I still need to change and"—Andi sighed—"I have to put my hair up. That takes forever."
"Would you like me to help you?"
Andi brightened. "Would you do my hair for me? That would help ever so much!"
Melinda grinned. "Sure."
The company started arriving. First Cory's family came.
"Howdy, Cory. Did you save room for the feast?"
"You bet! I didn't even eat lunch." Everyone went inside and into the parlor. Where were the Fosters?
The Fosters finally arrived. Mr. Foster got out of the buggy and spoke. "Sorry we are late. Grace couldn't find what she needed." Grace blushed from all the attention.
"Papa, I just couldn't go to a party without my high-heeled boots and visiting bonnet!”
Two peas in a pod, Andi thought. How can two girls be so much alike? Melinda wouldn't go anywhere without those either!
Then Virginia hopped out of the buggy.
"She's wearing a riding dress, at least," said Cory.
Andi sighed in relief. I thought I was going to have to make her wear one of my riding dresses!
They all went and sat in the parlor while Luisa and Nila finished setting the table with the food. The 15 minutes they sat there was pure torture to Andi and Cory too. Virginia sat next to Cory and flirted with him. Cory kept sending Andi desperate help-me-look with his eyes.
Andi tried her best. "Virginia, would you like to play the piano for us? I remember your mother saying you played well."
Virginia smiled and fluttered her eyelashes. "Perhaps later. I'd rather sit and talk right now."
Cory turned to Andi and rolled his eyes in disgust.
The ring of the dinner bell had never been more welcome to Andi. Standing up, she said. "Let's go sit at the table. I can't wait to eat. We made a lot of delicious food today!"
The meal went fairly well, Virginia wanted to sit by Cory. But Cory said he wanted to sit by his mom. And Andi took his other side. The meal was full with talking about the ranch, and Mr. Foster listened while Justin told him what it was like to be on the school board.
They had been eating and talking for a while at the table when Andi groaned. I think I ate to much pumpkin pie.
Virginia looked concerned. “What’s wrong Andi?”
Andi blushed, not wanting everyone to think she had eaten like a pig—way more than any lady should eat, so she whispered, “Oh, I just ate a lot.”
After the meal, Virginia played a really long song on the piano. And then she tried to get Cory and Andi to try. Cory had never placed hands on a piano in his entire life. And was able to pick out a few notes.
Just then Rosa came out of the kitchen. “Would you like to go horse riding now, Andi?”
“What a great idea!” Andi exclaimed. She had forgotten all about horse riding.
Soon Virginia, Andi, Rosa, and Cory were on their horses. It had taken longer than Andi had hoped because Virginia, much to Cory's annoyance, had insisted he help her with everything from saddling the horse to mounting.
As they trotted down the lane, Andi turned to Cory. "Rosa and I are going to gallop ahead. We'll meet you down by the creek."
Without waiting for an answer, Andi winked and she and Rosa galloped on ahead. Cory stayed with Virginia for a while, then he turned to her. "Do you mind if I gallop ahead and then ride back? Flash here is getting mighty fidgety.
Virginia smiled at him. "Of course I don't mind! You go right ahead."
Cory gave her a halfhearted smile and galloped ahead. After a while he turned around with the intention of riding back to Virginia. But she wasn't there!
Cory looked around in disbelief. Virginia was just here! he thought to himself. Cory called for Andi and Rosa. They came galloping over.
Cory gulped. “Virginia’s missing. We have to find her.” He gave Andi an I’m-in-charge look then set off altogether to look for her.
They had ridden for about 20 minutes when Rosa saw a horse and rider. Looking closer she yelled, "Andi, Andi, look! There's two riders up ahead."
Andi and Cory whirled around in their saddles. “Alright, I'm in charge,” Andi said. “I know this ranch better then you. Just follow my lead."
Cory and Rosa nodded.
“Let's go!” Andi galloped ahead at full speed, Cory and Rosa close on her heels. When she got within 20 yards, she slowed to a trot and shouted, “Hands up, and don’t turn around. I have a gun.”
Cory looked at Andi like she had lost her mind. Andi did not have a gun. Andi mouthed 'just follow my lead'
A look of understanding passed over Cory's face. “That's right, Mister. I suggest you let the girl go and put your hands up.”
The man stiffened at the sound of Cory's voice, dropped the reins of Virginia’s horse, and shot his hands up into the air. Virginia jumped off her horse and ran over to Cory, not giving Andi any credit. The man still sat motionless on his horse.
Spying a length of rope tied to the back of Rosa's horse, Andi motioned for Rosa to bring it to her. Cory shook his head. “Bring me the rope.” Working quickly, Cory, with Andi's help, was able to secure the man's hands behind his back.
Andi had never been more thankful that Cory was with her. Being 16, his voice and hands were like a man's. Andi knew without him she and Rosa would just have gotten captured. Andi took the handkerchief out of her pocket and tied it around the man's eyes in a blindfold.
Cory took the reins of the stranger’s horse and they all hurried home. After they had gotten back to the ranch, Justin took care of the bad guy. And boy, did they have a story to tell!