part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4; part 5.
18-year-old Andi gasped. It wasn’t possible! Riley Weaver, one of her very best friends since she was a child, had just asked her to marry him!
She looked nervously around the hotel dining room. When Riley had invited her to lunch, she hadn’t suspected a thing. After all, it wasn’t like they had been actually courting. Sure they had spent a lot of time together the past few months, but nothing big. Just riding, talking, and being in each other’s company...suddenly she realized that they had been courting.
Riley’s voice brought her back to the present. “Well, Andi?”
Andi turned toward him, completely certain that her face couldn’t get a shade redder than it already was. All she wanted at that moment was to get home. She had never felt so mixed up in her life.
“Could...could you give me some time. Just to think it over?”
Riley smiled. “Of course.”
Andi hurriedly stood up. “I’d...I’d like to go on home now. I’ll see you tomorrow?”
Riley stood as well, and then turned to Andi with a twinkle in his eye. “Do you intend on walking all the way home? I brought you here in my buggy, remember?”
With a sinking feeling she realized he was right. She would have to ride home with him. There was no other choice. Much as she enjoyed riding with Riley, she had looked forward to the long ride home as a chance to clear her thoughts.
* * *
Once home, Andi hurriedly thanked Riley, then dashed into the barn. Even though she was 18, Taffy was still her very best friend, and she was something familiar. Walking into her stall, Andi felt as though she were 12-years-old once again. Life had been simple and uncomplicated back then. She smiled as she remembered the time she ran away thinking her family didn’t love her. How wrong she had been!
Taffy nickered and nuzzled Andi as though saying “Do you have a treat?”
Andi grinned. “No treat today girl; just me and my mixed up thoughts. Riley asked me to marry him. I was so surprised. I hadn’t thought of myself old enough to get married, but guess I am 18. Oh, Taffy, how could I ever leave the ranch? How could I ever leave you?” She reached up and put her arm around Taffy’s neck. “I always thought I’d just grow up and live here at the ranch forever.”
Taffy, seeming to lose interest in Andi’s problems, walked to the other end of the stall and thrust her nose into a bucket of feed.
“Andi, Andi? Are you in here?”
Andi turned as Chad entered the barn.
“Over here, Chad, in Taffy’s stall.”
“I figured I’d find you here. I saw Riley driving down the lane. How’d your lunch go?”
“Oh, it went well.”
“Oh, Chad, did you give Riley permission?”
Chad sighed. “Yes, but it wasn’t just me. Justin and Mitch gave their permission as well. So what was your answer? Will you be leaving us?”
Andi looked up to see if Chad was teasing. He wasn’t. In fact, she had rarely ever seen Chad so serious and calm at the same time.
She sighed. “I don’t know, Chad. I just don’t know what to think. My life was all planned out, under control until today. I mean, I was just going to stay here and work on the ranch with the horses. You know that. Now today, everything has changed. I just don’t know what to think.”
“Andi, life is never ‘planned’. Of course we can set a goal and work to achieve it, but sometimes in life things don’t work out the way we wanted them to. It says in proverbs 16:9 A man’s heart devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps. Ultimately, God is in control of our lives. Our prayer to him should not be that things go our way, but that His will be done in our lives.”
Andi smiled. “I think this is the first time that I can remember you talking like this with me.”
Chad grinned. “You mean without us arguing.”
“Right. You’re beginning to sounds like Justin.”
Chad laughed. “Since he isn’t here right now I felt a need to take his place.” Then he sobered. “Andi, do you love Riley?”
The question caught Andi off guard. Sure she had spent lots of time with him, and she genuinely enjoyed his company. But did she love him? Suddenly she knew the answer.
“Yes, Chad, I do love him.”
“Well, then. I think you might have just made the decision.”
Andi reached up and gave Chad a hug catching him off guard. “Whoa! Careful now!”
“Thanks, Chad. Thanks for talking with me. I needed it.”
“Well, if we’re done here, I need to remind you...The horses stalls still need mucked out before supper.”
Andi laughed. “Ol’ bossy Chad is back. I suppose I can get them done.”
“Well...where is Mitch anyway?”
Chad laughed. “He’s out on the range. You won’t have him around to do your chores today.”
Andi grinned and started to walk toward the pitchfork that was leaning against the wall. It’s a good thing I went to town in my riding skirt instead of a dress. Now I won’t have to change before chores.
Chad stopped her. “Andi, when will you tell Riley?”
Andi grinned “As soon as possible!”