Twelve year old Andi Carter wiped the sweat away from her forehead. Her lungs gasped deeply for air as she pressed herself closer to the barn wall. Trying to control her breathing she watched as a shadow walked up to the door. Slowly the door began to open causing the summer sun flooded into the barn. She held her breath as a tall figure cautiously walked down the barn hallway. The horses began to pace around in their stalls, a parentally feeling uneasy about the unexpected company. Andi could feel the sweat trickling down her back as she watched the figure disappear into Taffy’s stall.
“Andi,” Came an impatient voice. “I know you’re in here.”
You can’t talk me in to it, big brother, Andi thought to herself. She stood up and glanced towards the door; it was open. If I could just rush outside and shut the door behind me, I would have enough time to get away before... Andi quietly stepped out of her hiding place and glanced at Taffy’s stall. Then without a second thought, she dashed for the door.
“Andi stop!” Chad’s loud voice boomed.
Completely ignoring is warning, she ran out the door then quickly she slammed it behind her and took off running for the house. In spite of her seedy escape, she was unable to take ones step before two strong arms caught around her middle.
“Going somewhere, sis?” Mitch asked playfully.
“Let me go, Mitch! I have to get out of here!” Andi tried to break free from his grip.
“Why? What’s going on?”
Andi couldn’t explain. She pushed his hands back and again started for the house. But Mitch was too quick for her. Placing his foot in front of her’s, he tripped Andi to the ground. She began to cough as dust settled in her mouth.
“Thanks, Mitch,” Chad said flatly. He reached down and lifted Andi from the ground. “Now what have you got to say for yourself, young lady!” He demanded. Andi brushed the dirt from her overalls without looking up. “I asked you?” Chad snapped, putting his firm hands on her shoulders.
“You shouldn’t have interfered,” She told Mitch. “Now look at my clothes. I’m a mess.”
Mitch folded his arms across his chest. “Sorry, sis,” he smiled.
“Look at me,” Chad said firmly shaking her a little.
Andi obeyed slowly.
“Now,” Chad started, his blue eyes looking like chips of ice, “What should I make of all this. Justin left me in charge didn’t he? Answer the question.”
“Yes, sir,” Andi sighed.
“So, when I tell you to do something you do it. I have enough on my hands without having to chase you around, trying to get you to listen. I expect full and quick obedience from you. Ya hear me?”
“Yes, sir,” Andi sighed again.
“Okay then. Go up to your room, change and get ready for your guest, like your
Andi opened her mouth to say something, but Chad cut her off,
“No back talk,” he order. “Now move.”
Andi gave Mitch a pleading look. He only shrugged. Andi felt sick inside while turning for the house. Punching her hands into her pockets she kicked the dust up into the air.
Get dressed for your guest, Andi complained in thought. If Chad and Justin want to have guests over that’s fine, but when I have to entertain them too, now that’s another story!”
At that moment a verse came to mind, ‘Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.’ Andi bit her lip as she stepped through the back door into the kitchen. Her friend Rosa was cutting out some cookies at the table.
“Hola, Andi!” she welcomed in spanish.
“Hola,” Andi grumbled back.
“Why the long face?” asked Rosa.
“Chad’s being overly bossy today,” Andi griped. She pushed the door open that led to the dinning room.
“Where are you going?” Rosa called out to her.
“Going to change my clothes and pray,” Andi said without looking back. She ran
through the dinning room, into the foyer, then up the large stair case. When she entered
her room she closed the door and began to look through her dresses. On finding a pretty white and pink one, Andi slowly changed from her overalls. She then searched
through her ribbon box and took out two white satin, hair ribbons. Once she had
brushed and re-braided her long hair, Andi fell on her knees next to her bed.
“Jesus,” she prayed, “I’m really not looking forward to this evening. Having to entertain two girls I don’t even know and having to do everything my brothers and sister tell me. Lord if there is some way Mother could come home from San Francisco within the hour I would be much obliged. But if not, then help me to be strong and give my guess an enjoyable evening. Thank you. Amen.” Andi felt a peace come upon her, and for some odd reason she was almost excited to meet these new girls. Almost.
Andi’s heart slumped in her chest as she entered the foyer. Chad, Mitch and Melinda were dressed in their best and were leading their guests through the parlor door. Justin removed his hat and gave Andi a wink. She could tell he was in a good mood. He slipped his arm around her middle. Smiled Justin said, “You look really pretty, Honey.”
“Thanks,” Andi’s meekly replied.
“Come on. We’ll introduce you to the Johnsons,” He chuckled, leading her into the parlor.
Andi sighed slightly as she gazed upon the Johnson family. Mr. and Mrs.
Johnson were both handsomely dressed in expensive city cloths and seemed to be
praising the two young girls who stood at their sides. Both girls had beautiful golden hair that was perfectly curled and set off by large purple bows. Their appealing purple and yellow dresses were identically matched and indicated that they were very costly. Andi would have guessed they were twins, save the fact that one was older than the other.
“And this is our youngest sister, Andrea,” Justin smiled finishing his introduction. “Andi this is Mr. and Mrs. Johnson and their two little girls Polly and Ava.
“Please to know you,” Andi said more out of manners than honesty.
“And you Miss. Andrea,” Mr. Johnson replied.
Ava, who was the youngest of the two girls, smiled shyly and hid behind her mother’s large skirt. Andi was not, too, surprised when Polly, the older one, made a nasty face at her and looked away. I knew it, Andi thought to herself. I’ll bet they’re both spoiled.
“Well why don’t you have a seat,” Melinda garishly smiled.
“Thank you,” Mrs. Johnson said taking a seat on the sofa.
“Andrea, why don’t you take your little friends up to your room and show them your dolls,” Melinda offered. “I think they’d like that.”
What about me? Andi wanted to shout, but instead she nodded, “Sure.”
Polly and Ava followed Andi to her room. When they entered, Andi suddenly felt very board and at a loss for words.
“Well, here we are,” She shrugged.
Ava smiled a little while Polly crossed her arms.
“Where are your dolls?” Polly asked flatly.
“Over there,” Andi pointed to her dresser. “I only have two.” She took down the two dolls. One looked very old and only wore a white baby dress. The other was dressed in a beautiful gown and had lots of pretty curls in her hair.
“I want that one,” Ava said shyly. She pointed a plump finger at the larger one.
“Well, here you go,” Andi smiled.
Ava’s face beamed as she took the doll carefully in her arms. “What a pretty dolly,” she smiled.
“Her name is Milly,” Andi said fixing the doll’s little hat. Then as quick as a wink, Polly snatched the doll from her little sister’s arms, then shouted angrily,
“I want this one!”
“But I had it first!” Ava yelled back.
“Be quiet and have this one.” Polly yanked the baby from Andi’s hands and quickly tossing it to Ava.
“I don’t want this one,” Ava started to cry handing the little doll back to Andi. She reached for the big one, but Polly slapped her hand back.
“Knock it off, Ava!” Polly yelled. Andi just stood there, completely annoyed.
“How about you girls take turns?” she suggested rolling her eyes.
“No…” Ava sobbed trying to grab the doll again. Polly quickly turned away and
stomped over to the bed and plopped down. She began to turn the doll this way and that.
“Make her give it to me,” Ava cried throwing herself onto Andi. Her body shook with sobs. Andi gave the little girl a light hug then walked over to the bed.
“Polly, your sister had that doll first and I think you should give it back,” Andi tried to keep her voice calm.
“None of your business!” Polly shouted turning away. “I’m older and can do what I please.”
“How old are you?” Andi was trying to make nice conversation.
“None of your business.”
Andi felt hot.
“She’s nine,” Ava frowned taking Andi’s hand. Tears still ran down her cheeks. Andi smiled down at the little girl.
“Well, how old are you, sweetie?”
“Four,” Ava said holding up four plump fingers.
“Why you’re getting to be a big girl,” Andi grinned. Just then a terrible tearing sound brought Andi’s attention to Polly.
“What are you doing?” Andi panicked when she saw the doll’s dress being yanked off.
“I want to give her a bath.” Polly snorted turning up her nose. She pulled at the dress again.
“Stop!” Andi jerked the doll away from Polly’s grip. “You’ll ruin this dress.”
“Give her back!” Polly nearly screamed. She jumped up and stomped her foot.
“No,” Andi replied kindly, but firm. “I’m going to let Ava play with her. She knows how to treat her well.” Andi placed the doll back into Ava’s arms.
Ava smiled and whispered, “Thank you, Andrea.”
Andi gave Ava a light pat on her back.
“You’re the meanest girl I have ever met!” Polly screamed as tears started to run
down her face. “I’m going to tell on both of you!” She gave Andi a strong push, almost knocking her to the floor. Polly then pulled open the door and ran out. Andi looked shocked.
Tears started to run down Ava cheeks again and she clung to Andi’s skirt. “Don’t let her!” she cried.
“Hush,” Andi said taking the little girl’s hand. “I’ll go explain.” They walked hand and hand down to the parlor. Andi’s heart thumped hard in her chest as she gazed upon Polly crying on her mother’s shoulder. Every face looked up at them and seemed to look very upset. Andi met eyes with Chad. He was fuming.
“Is it true?” He asked coldly.
“Is what true?” she whispered.
“Did you slap this little girl and take the doll from her?” His eyes grew narrow.
Andi couldn’t believe this. “Of course not,” she gulped.
“She’s lying mama!” Polly sobbed. She held her cheek. Andi was about to protest
when the dinner bell rang.
Part 2 on Saturday . . .