This lost scene continues smoothly from Lost Scene #8. It's a new chapter and *gasp* the reader still doesn't know what happened to Andi next. For one thing, she is still with the Gardunos and has not yet taken employment with the Livingstons. So . . . it's a little different than what is in the actual book. The reader meets the Livingsons before Andi does. *geesh!*
Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home
Lost Scene #9
The town of Livingston Flats was not impressive. The Carter brothers looked at each other and shook their heads.
"Not much of a town." Chad said. “Shouldn’t be much work to find one horse." He spotted the livery. "I'll check out this place. Why don't you two get a line on that drifter?"
"Fine," Justin replied. He and Mitch dismounted and tied up their horses in front of the sheriff's office as Chad rode off toward a dilapidated building with a livery sign hanging from one hook.
Chad dismounted and peeked into the dim interior of the building. "Howdy," he called. "Anybody here?"
"No need to yell, mister. I can hear you." A dirty, scruffy-looking man emerged from the shadows. He looked Chad up and down and glanced at his horse. His eyebrows went up. "What can I do for you?"
"I'm looking for a horse."
"I got some, but none near as fine as the one you already got."
"I'm looking for a golden palomino mare about fifteen hands, with an expensive saddle . . . and a brand just like this one." He pointed to his horse's rump.
The man wandered over and gazed at the brand in interest. He patted the horse, then looked up. He shrugged. "Sorry, don't have any horse like what you're describing." He turned to go. "I got work t'do, so if you'll excuse me---"
"Wait!" Chad reached out and stopped the man. "I've got pretty reliable information that you either have the horse I'm looking for or had it a week or two ago."
"Carter. Chad Carter," Chad snapped.
"Well, Mister Carter, I don't have the horse now. You want to look over my stock? Go right ahead. You won't find it." He turned to go. "Like I said, I've got work to do."
Chad's hand clamped down hard on the livery owner's shoulder. "Listen, friend," he said between clenched teeth. "I've got a feeling you aren't telling me everything you know. This particular horse means a lot to me, and I'm prepared to pay plenty to find out where it is. Did you sell it?"
"Don't remember," the man muttered.
Chad shoved him against one of the stalls and gripped the front of his shirt. "How much would it take to restore your memory?"
"Listen, Mr. Carter, I don't want no trouble."
"If you don't tell me what I want to know, you'll have more trouble than you'll know what to do with." Chad pulled a twenty-dollar bill from his pocket. "This helping your memory?"
"I . . ." He swallowed. "I . . . think I sold a horse like you’re talkin’ about to Randle Livingston last week." The man looked around nervously and pocketed Chad's money.
"What’s the matter, mister?" Chad released the livery owner and gave him a shove. "Might be you sold something that didn't rightfully belong to you?"
The man fell backwards, but he recovered his balance and stared at Chad. His eyes grew wide.
"It might interest you to know that the horse you sold last week was stolen---from us. And who is this Livingston fellow? A local?"
The livery owner nodded weakly. "Yes. Randle Livingston came to town last week. He had his daughter with him. She saw the horse, and he bought it for her. I told him there might be some confusion about the bill of sale---"
"But Mr. Livingston said he'd take care of it. That daughter of his wanted it so bad, and he don't deny her nothing." He shook his head. "I never should have bought the horse from that outsider, but it was such a beauty. I hoped to keep her around a bit, but when Felicity Livingston wants something . . ." He shrugged. "She usually gets it."
"Well, mister, I hope this gives you something to think about. That horse belongs to my baby sister. She's disappeared and we're trying to track her down. She's not very old, and when my brothers and I find her, I'm going to have her horse with me. Now, are you going to tell me where this Livingston fellow lives?"
The man sighed. "It won't do you no good to try and get the horse back. Randle Livingston is an important man in this town. He won't care in the least that you're a Carter. You're not on your fancy ranch anymore. You're in Livingston Flats, and Mr. Livingston runs this town however he likes. Your best bet is to forget the horse and concentrate on finding your sister."
"I'll take my chances," Chad growled. "How do I get to his place?"
"It's six miles north-east of town. The Lazy L ranch. You can't miss it."
With a short grunt of thanks, Chad turned and left the livery in disgust. He rejoined his brothers in a sour mood.
"The sheriff says he doesn't remember any particular drifter in his jail," Justin reported. "Drifters float through this town a dozen a day. They all look alike in the sheriff's opinion. And he never holds the drunks longer than twenty-four hours." He sighed. "It's safe to assume our particular drifter is long gone from this town."
"I've got a lead on Taffy." Chad filled them in on what the livery owner had said.
Justin shook his head. "That's too bad."
"What do you mean by that, Justin?" Mitch wanted to know.
"Well, I've heard things about the way Randle Livingston runs this town. I should have connected it when I heard the name of the town, but I guess my mind was on other things." He turned to Chad. "I suggest we all be very careful when we approach Livingston. I hear he’s a hard man to get along with, and rumor has it that he holds the law in his pocket." He sighed. "If Taffy is on the Lazy L ranch, it may be next to impossible to get her back."
"What?" Chad countered. "Come on, Justin."
"You, especially, Chad, had better keep hold of your temper, or you could find yourself in jail on some trumped-up charge not even I could get you out of." With these sobering words of advice, the brothers mounted up and headed out of Livingston Flats and toward the Lazy L ranch.
Go here for Scene #10
Go here for Scene #10