This new scene stays with the Carter brothers as they mount up on their horses and head for the Lazy L to rescue Taffy . . . if possible. One begins to wonder where in the world the main character is or if she's even in the rest of the story. :-) (Actually, in the book, Andi witnesses the scene with Felicity on Taffy (instead of Mitch), so it's not like it didn't find a place in the book. Editing is a lot of hard work!)
Andrea Carter and the Long Ride Home
Lost Scene # 10
Like the livery-stable owner said, the Lazy L wasn't hard to find. Prominent signs pointed the way to a beautiful, two-story ranch house with immaculate white fences and acres of green pasture land. The brothers rode up the long, shaded driveway in silence.
"Well, Justin," Chad said after a few moments of contemplation. "You're the lawyer with the fancy words. I figure you should do the talking."
"Why, thank you, brother. That's the first sensible thing you've said all day."
Chad frowned while Mitch and Justin laughed. Before long they were dismounting and tying up their horses to an intricately-carved hitching post. They walked up the brick walkway to the house and were about to knock when the door opened.
"Oh! Hello, gentlemen. What can I do for you?" A pretty brown-haired young lady dressed for riding and carrying a riding crop smiled. She appeared about sixteen or seventeen years old.
Justin tipped his hat and returned the smile. "Good afternoon, Miss. Is Randle Livingston at home?"
"Yes, he is." The young woman motioned toward an older woman. "Tell my father he has visitors, Mrs. Nelson."
"Of course, Miss Felicity." The woman opened the door wide enough for the Carters to enter.
"If you will excuse me," Felicity said. "I am on my way to ride." She hurried toward a large round corral.
"Are you coming, Mitch?" Justin held the door open.
Mitch shook his head. "I think I'll keep myself busy around the yard." He took off after the Livingston girl, casually mingling with the ranch hands and keeping an eye out for Andi's horse.
It didn't take Mitch long to find Taffy. She was saddled up and had been curried until she shone. Mitch leaned idly over the corral railing, chewing on a blade of grass and watching Felicity head right for the palomino. She approached boldly until she was within ten feet of the horse, then she stopped short.
"Uh . . . how is she today, Mack?" Felicity called out to a ranch hand.
"A might flighty, Miss Felicity."
A look of annoyance crossed the girl's face. "Well, I certainly don't want to be thrown today."
"Well, you gave her a good dose yesterday, Miss, but I don't think it affected her much. She appears to be a headstrong sort of animal. It'll probably take a lot more 'convincing' before she accepts your authority."
Mitch's ears pricked up. He made his way closer to the drama. He was pretty sure the palomino was Taffy, but there was only one way to be certain.
Felicity slapped the handle of her riding whip against the palm of her hand. "Well, we'll see about that. Help me up, Mack. I'm going to ride this horse if it's the last thing I do."
"Yes, Miss." Mack hurried forward to help Felicity onto Taffy's back. For a moment the girl looked grand on the gorgeous animal's back. She broke into a happy smile when the horse stood quietly.
"This is more like it," she commented brightly and gently urged the horse forward.
The mare took two or three pretty steps, then with a sudden change of heart reared up and threw Felicity Livingston as neatly as Mitch had ever seen it done. He covered his mouth to prevent his smile from showing and started forward. There was no telling what the girl’s reaction would be.
"You stupid, stupid horse!" Felicity shrieked. Her riding whip whistled through the air and caught the palomino across her shoulder. Taffy shuddered, but stayed planted where she was. She threw her head up and whinnied dangerously. Felicity stepped backward, brushing the dust from her clothes.
The ranch hands watched with amused grins, but their expressions changed when the girl turned on them. "You get back to work or I'll have you all whipped!" she screamed in a high, humiliated voice. She took a deep breath, grabbed Taffy's reins, placed her foot in the stirrup, and threw herself on the horse's back once again. This time Taffy didn't even pretend to be gentle. Instead, she took off like a loco horse for fifty feet, stopped dead in her tracks. Felicity flew over her head.
She sprang to her feet, raced to Taffy, and raised her crop. A sudden jerk pulled it out of her grip. Mitch tossed it to the ground and turned to face Felicity, arms crossed.
"Who do you think you are to come bursting in here and take my whip?" Felicity snapped angrily. "And where in the world did you come from? You're not one of our hands."
"No, Miss. But if I may be so bold, I think you're going about this all wrong."
"You may not be so bold!" Grabbing Taffy's reins, Felicity started to jerk the horse toward the barn. "Mack!" She yelled. "Tie this horse up right now! I'll teach her a lesson she'll never forget! How dare---"
"It won't do any good," Mitch cut in. He tried to keep his voice casual, but his insides churned with a growing sense of outrage that Taffy should be touched with a whip. Smoothly, he grabbed the reins from the young woman and brought Taffy around. She immediately raised her ears in recognition.
"Well, look at that!" Felicity was impressed. "I'd swear that horse knows you."
"Horses like me," Mitch commented neutrally, giving Felicity a friendly grin. "Watch." He spoke softly to Taffy, then flung himself over her back and into the saddle.
Taffy behaved perfectly. Felicity's mouth dropped open as this handsome, young stranger put the palomino through some fabulous moves. She was a beautiful horse, and Felicity's heart swelled with pride at owning her. Her recent anger toward the animal disappeared, and she ran over as Mitch dismounted.
"How did you do that, Mister . . .?" Felicity breathed with excitement.
"Mitch. I make friends quickly." He indicated the girl should mount. Cautiously, she did so. Mitch spoke quietly to Taffy in no uncertain terms, and she stood still. He led her around the corral, and Felicity beamed.
"See, Miss Livingston?" Mitch put all the charm he could muster into his voice. "This horse just needs some love and attention from the right kind of person. When she senses it, she'll do whatever you want. I take it you just got her?"
"Not long ago."
"You need to get her to trust you. Baby her, pet her, talk quietly to her. It won't take long." Here Mitch became serious. "But a horse like this . . ." He shook his head. "Don't ever whip her. It'll ruin her. Trust me."
"Never?" Felicity asked, eyes wide.
"All right . . . Mitch." She fluttered her eyelashes at him. Mitch gagged silently. "I'll take your advice, at least long enough to see if it works."
"That's all I ask." Mitch tipped his hat and strolled off, hoping he had convinced the Livingston girl to leave Andi's horse in peace. He burned inside knowing Taffy had been mistreated. He wanted nothing more than to mount up and ride off.
Hopefully, Justin was taking care of that part right now.
Go here for Scene #11
Go here for Scene #11