It was Levi! But not the Levi that she had been on an adventure with. He was only a little boy then. This Levi was probably taller than she was! Andi quickly sank to her knees and took some water from Taffy’s trough, splashing him with it.
He spluttered and opened his eyes, blinking a few times. “W-what happened?” he asked.
Andi sighed in relief. “Well, I thought you were trying to kidnap me or something, so I put up a fight. I didn’t know it was you.”
Levi grinned weakly. “I’m glad I wasn’t trying to kidnap you!” he said. “I would have regretted it the rest of my life.”
Andi helped him to his feet and steadied him as he almost fainted again. “Where did you learn how to fight?” he asked, grimacing as he rubbed his jaw. “I’m going to be really sore there for a while.”
Andi laughed. “First of all, I have three brothers, and secondly, I have Cory Blake for a friend.” She paused and contemplated her nephew. “So…why are you here?”
Levi grinned smugly. “I’m escaping school!” he declared.
Andi’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Escaping school! How?”
His grin widened. “I disguised myself and rode up with the stagecoach driver; he’s a friend of mine now.”
Andi was impressed. “Nicely done! I wish I had thought of that, although…” she reconsidered the matter, “You don’t have three older brothers that could tan your hide if they ever caught you.”
“That’s true, but I do have three uncles who could. Do you have a place to hide?”
Andi thought hard for a minute. “Well, you could sleep in the barn loft,” she said finally.
Levi chewed on his lip. “Do your brothers ever go up there?”
“Only sometimes. Instead of the loft, I know of a secret shack Cory and I found earlier this summer you could live in for a while.”
Levi’s eyes lit up with hope. “Cory won’t tell on me will he?”
Andi shook her head, confident in her best friend. “No, I’m positive he won’t.”
Levi gave a quick nod. “Show me this shack then. Anything is better than school!”
Andi laughed and the two of them crept across the fields. On the way, Levi filled Andi in on all the happenings of their family from his point of view. Andi listened eagerly.
“So, exactly how old are you now?” she asked when Levi stopped his narrative for a breath of air.
Levi stood tall. “I’ll be fourteen in three months.”
Andi gave a whistle. “I didn’t know it had been that long!” she exclaimed.
Levi laughed. “Yeah, it seemed really long to me, but that might just be because I have to live the last four years all proper and prim with Aunt Rebecca.” He rolled his eyes and groaned, making Andi laugh. “Of course, the girls love it. Aunt Rebecca spoils them, and they behave like perfect angels whenever she’s around. For some reason I’m always the one that gets into trouble in front of her accusing eyes.”
Andi gave Levi a look of sympathy. “That’s what usually happens to me too.”
There was a moment of silence as Andi and Levi concentrated on climbing an especially rocky path. They turned a corner, and Andi stopped suddenly with a smile of satisfaction.
“There you are. The Secret Shack.”