This scene takes place the morning after Andi's embarrassment at being caught eavesdropping on her family. She has left the ranch but nobody knows it yet. They are about to find out . . .
Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home
Lost Scene #6
"Good morning, Jim. Care for a cup of coffee?" Justin waved toward a coffee pot and an empty seat at the dining room table.
Senator Farley nodded. “I would love one.” He helped himself and took a seat next to his host. "Where is everybody?" He noticed the deserted room and the remains of breakfast at some of the places.
"There's a special missionary speaker this morning, and Mother and Melinda went to church early to help with the preparations. I didn't see them leave, but I heard that Chad and Mitch had been talked into helping out. They must have driven them in about an hour ago.” Justin grinned suddenly. “Sometimes it pays to be in Sacramento three weeks out of every four.” He glanced at the clock. "Actually, we haven't much time for breakfast if we want to be on time for services, Jim. I'm hoping you'll join the family today?"
"Certainly, Justin." Farley glanced around the room curiously. "Did your youngest sister accompany them early, too?"
Justin finished the rest of his coffee and shrugged. "I don't know. Probably. I'll check." He stood up and walked into the foyer. "Andi!" he yelled towards the upstairs balcony. There was no reply. "Andi!" he yelled again, louder. When she didn't appear, he climbed the stairs two at a time and knocked quickly on her door. "Andi, are you in there?" He opened the door and gazed around the spotless room, then left, closing the door behind him.
"She must have gone early with everyone else," he told the senator, rejoining him at the table. "Her bed's made and I haven't seen her downstairs."
Senator Farley smiled. "I was hoping she would ride in with us. It would delightful to get to know her a bit better. She seems so full of life, and dinner last night was priceless! I've never seen anyone show more poise in an awkward situation."
"That's our Andi." Justin grinned, realizing how quiet---and how dull---the ranch would be without this sister. "You never know what's going to happen next with her." He picked up his cup of coffee and took another sip. "Although sometimes it can be rather annoying."
"Oh, I don't know about that, Justin." Senator Farley chuckled. "I'd like to have her around at some of those boring affairs I've had to attend, just to stir things up." He sighed. "I certainly hope I didn't embarrass the poor girl by showing up to dinner unannounced. I suppose she won't be too excited to talk with me after that."
"Well, Jim, it isn't your fault either way." Justin pushed back his chair and stood up. "Besides, Andi cheerfully bounces from one disaster to another, easily forgetting what it was all about. By this afternoon, I'd venture to say that you can get her to talk with you for hours if you bring up the subject of horses. Mark my words." He motioned the senator towards the exit. "If you're ready, we'd best get going."
"Certainly, Justin," Senator Farley replied, "And I'll be taking you at your word about speaking with your sister, too."
"Well, Mother," Justin remarked as he approached Elizabeth and Melinda after church, "Andi seems to be avoiding me today. I hope she's still not mad about my showing up yesterday with Senator Harper."
"I can't imagine why she should be. It was her own fault." They made their way together to where the buggies were tied up. “Why do you mention it? Did she refuse to talk to you on your ride in to town this morning?"
"What do you mean?" Justin asked. "She went early with you and Melinda, didn't she?"
Elizabeth stopped short. "Why no, Justin. She wasn't downstairs when we left, so I thought she would catch a ride with you." She frowned. "Come to think of it, I didn't see her in church, either. I assumed she was sitting with her friends."
Justin shook his head. "She wasn't in the house this morning when the senator and I left. I checked her room, and everything was straightened up, so I thought she went with you." He turned to Melinda. "Did you see Andi around this morning?"
"No," Melinda said. "But I was all in a hurry, what with having to leave so early this morning. I didn't pay attention to what Andi was up to."
Chad and Mitch joined the rest of the family at the buggies, and Justin quizzed both brothers thoroughly. Neither had seen Andi.
"It figures," Chad's remarked, letting out an annoyed breath. "She's probably off riding somewhere, trying to make us feel guilty about yesterday."
"She'd have to get up mighty early for that, Chad," Mitch said. "I was up at the crack of dawn and didn't see any sign of her."
"She'd never leave the yard without letting someone know," Elizabeth insisted.
"Oh, wouldn't she?" Chad argued. "She took off mighty fast yesterday without a word to anyone."
"But she knew you saw her leave. That's different," Melinda said. "Listen. Why don't I catch up with a couple of Andi’s friends and see if they've heard from her."
"Good idea," Justin agreed, and Melinda took off towards the church.
"Excuse me," Senator Farley broke in. "This may not be helpful, but I stumbled across your sister last evening. She was listening at the banister while you were expressing your . . . ah . . . concerns about the situation lately."
"Uh-oh," Mitch said softly. He wondered how much Andi had heard. "Chad may be right. She could be off riding, trying to sort things out."
Elizabeth sighed. "I think we should head home and check the barn for her horse. After that, Chad, you'd better round up some of the men and go looking for her."
"They're not going to like having their Sunday afternoon ruined like this."
"I know, but this could be serious," Elizabeth replied quietly.
"Now, Mother," Justin said, laying a gentle hand on her arm, "Don't start fretting yet. If Andi did take an early morning ride, she’s probably home by now, brushing Taffy and hungry for dinner. If she's not, I'll ride up to that special place of hers and talk to her. Don't worry."
Elizabeth nodded and turned to Chad. "If no one finds her on the ranch, I want you to notify the sheriff."
"All right," Chad agreed as he turned toward his horse. "But when I get my hands on that girl, she's going to wish she'd---"
"Chad . . ." Justin warned, but his brother had already mounted up and was headed back to the ranch.
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