Andi flew down the stairs after Jenny, but she stopped when Jenny threw herself into the arms of a big, bearded man with a happy, “Papa, you’re home!” The man hugged Jenny.
Andi smiled to herself, but felt tears come to her eyes. Her friend was so lucky. She had a father.
The man saw Andi on the stairs, and welcomed her with a fatherly smile.
“So you must be Miss Andrea Carter from the ladies' school. Welcome to our home.” His eyes twinkled with warm humor.
Andi liked him immediately. She returned his smile and came the rest of the way down the stairs. “Thank you! I am enjoying myself already Mr. Grant.”
Mrs. Grant came in before Andi could introduce her brother properly, and announced that lunch was going to get cold if they didn’t come at once.
Andi, Mitch, Mr. Grant, and the Grant kids all walked into the dining area and sat down after Mr. Grant said grace. Andi looked in front of her at the array of food and felt her stomach growl. Jenny sat next to her on one side, and Mitch sat on the other side. The meal started, and Mrs. Grant was the first to speak.
“Mr. Grant, I think we should have a formal introduction in the living room after lunch. I’m sure Andi’s brother is very eager to meet our sons.” Jenny choked on her soup but hastily apologized, so Mrs. Grant continued, oblivious to the fact that Micah was silently shaking with suppressed laughter behind his napkin, and Eli and Seth were exchanging looks across the table at each other. “And also our sons and Jenny would love to show the guests around our town. There is so much to see.”
Mr. Grant’s eyes were twinkling again, and he smiled at his wife. “Very well, my dear, we shall introduce ourselves after lunch. But, perhaps we should wait until tomorrow to have our guests travel again. They are probably still tired from travelling the way here. You know how bumpy stagecoach rides are.”
Mrs. Grant quickly agreed with her husband, all sightseeing would begin tomorrow. Andi looked at Mitch out of the corner of her eye, but he seemed to be oblivious to the conversation.
The meal was soon finished, and the Grant family lined up oldest to youngest in the parlor while Andi and Mitch stood in front of them with Mr. and Mrs. Grant on one side of them. Mr. Grant started briskly.
“This is our oldest, Seth, 21 years old. He’s my main help with the business.” Blond Seth bowed like a proper gentleman, and Andi bit her lip to keep herself from giggling. She met Seth’s eyes when he stood erect again, and caught a twinkle in them. She realized that Seth was kind of like Justin, Jenny was right; she knew she was going to like him. Mr. Grant went to the next one.
“This is Eli: he is our second oldest son and also helps in my business. He’s 19.” Eli bowed, but with a martyr-like look on his face. Andi nearly lost control of herself there and almost laughed out loud, but she managed to change her outburst last minute into a cough. Eli gave her an odd look, but Mr. Grant continued.
“Next comes Caleb: he’s 17.” Caleb bowed, but it was sort of an absent minded bow, and Andi saw that Caleb was studying the books behind them carefully, and Mr. Grant went on.
“This is Micah, he’s 15.” Micah winked behind his father’s back at Andi, and she winked back, much to Micah’s surprise.
Well, how was he supposed to know that when someone winked at her winking back was her immediate reaction?
Mr. Grant continued down the line. “You already know Jenny.” He said with a smile, and tousled her hair. Jenny beamed, and her eyes were dancing with suppressed mirth when they met Andi’s. They exchanged a secret smile.
“And last, but not least,” Mr. Grant finished, “Is Gideon. He’s the youngest, and he’s only 10.”
Gideon’s eyes flashed dangerously when he bowed.“I’m almost 11!” he exclaimed suddenly. “Only 10, huh.” He glowered darkly. Mr. Grant smiled.
“My deepest apologies, Gideon, I forgot myself for a moment.” The wounded boy was temporarily satisfied.
“Alright.” He said grudgingly. “Just don’t say that again.” There was a general smile, and then the Grant’s looked expectantly at Andi. She cleared her throat.
“Well, I’m Andi, and I’m 13.” She waved her hand toward Mitch. “This is my third oldest brother, Mitch, he’s 22. He’s the only one of my family other than me that had time to come out here for a couple of weeks. My oldest sibling is Justin, he’s a lawyer and he’s 28, then there’s Chad, he’s 27. Melinda is my only sister, and she’s 17. I’ve got another sister, but she’s grown up and married, so I don’t see her very much.” Andi stopped rather abruptly, because the topic of her “other sister” always made her a little mad still, and she didn’t want to be upset right now.
Jenny broke into her thoughts after Mr. Grant went back to close his mill for the day and Mrs. Grant went back to her embroidery in another room, leaving the children alone.
“Well, I’m very glad that we’ve been introduced.” She stated with relief. “Now we can start having fun!” Jenny’s brother’s sat down, Caleb got a book. He shot an apologetic look at Andi, but she merely laughed.
“Go ahead!” she said. “Don’t bother about me! Don’t forget that I have three brothers of my own!” Eli gave a sigh of relief and plopped himself down on the nearest chair.
“Am I glad to hear that!” he exclaimed.
Jenny laughed. “I told you she was like me!”
The Grant brothers, excepting Caleb who was engrossed in his book, all smiled with some relief, and Andi grinned back at them, her eyes shining.
“Now,” she said. “What do you want to show me? I’ve only got two weeks, and I want to see and do as much as I can before I go back.”
Seth smiled. “First you should see our Father’s saw mill.” He said.
Eli sprang from his chair. “And you must see the Puyallup River! I can try to rent a sail boat and sail on the bay, maybe.” Micah nodded approvingly at his older brother.
“Yes, and the woods!” Gideon bounced up and down on the couch. “She should see my frog, and my insect collection.”
Andi frowned. “Do you have any spiders in your collection?” she asked in mock fear, just to see the reaction she would get.
Eli got a gleam of mischief in his eye. “Yes, and snakes!” he said with a glance at his brothers. Seth shook his head, and Micah stifled a laugh.
Andi grinned, and looked at Mitch.“Wonderful!” she exclaimed, and watched their faces change. “A friend of mine always gives me a snake on my first day of each school year! I’ll feel right at home!”
Micah’s eyes widened. “Your friend wouldn’t by any chance be Cory Blake would it?”
Andi’s mouth dropped open. “You know him?”
Micah nodded. “Yeah! He gave me a snake one time too when I went to school with him for just a year. He's one of my best friends!”
Andi grinned. “Well, I’ll tell him I saw you, and see if he remembers you!”
“Do that! I wish I could see his face when he realizes Jenny’s brother is his friend from school a while back!”
Andi had forgotten Mitch in the joy of getting to know the Grant’s, but he got her attention by politely clearing his throat in a way that Andi knew: Mitch was going to speak.