This is part 1 of 3 parts. Enjoy!
“You'd better run faster, Cory! I'm going to win!” 12 year old Andrea Carter shouted as she ran towards her brother Justin's office. She rounded the corner and ran smack into a man.
“Hey! Watch where you're goin'!” he exclaimed angrily. Behind her, her good friend Cory Blake skidded to a stop. “You'd better have a good reason for running so fast in town!” the man said, grabbing Andi's arm.
“Let me go!” Andi said.
“Oh yeah? Why?”
“Because if you don't, Cory is going to make you!”
There was another man standing near the man who had hold of Andi. He and the other man laughed. “That kid? What can he do?”
Andi felt Cory stiffen up next to her. “Listen mister, you had better let go, before I call my brother.”
“I don't see anybody around here, gal. Who is your brother anyway?”
“Carter, huh,” The man said, suddenly interested. “I've heard of you Carter's. Your brother's pretty rich, huh?”
“What business of it is yours?” Andi asked. “And if you don't let me go, I'm going to scream.”
“Let her go, mister,” Cory said, stepping up. “You act big and brave, boy, but you're all talk.”
The other man grabbed Cory. “Ain't so brave now, eh, kid?” he growled.
“Justin! Justin! Help!” Andi called, as she saw her brother walking out of his office.
He saw Andi and hurried over. At the sight of him, the men dropped Andi and Cory and hurried away.
“Andi, are you okay?” Justin asked. “What happened?”
Andi explained, then said, “I guess it was kind of my fault. It was just some grumpy men. We're all right though, Justin. Really.”
“Are you sure, honey?”
“Yes, Justin. I'm fine.”
“Well, okay, then. Are you ready to go?”
Andi nodded and followed her brother to the buggy. “Bye Cory,” she said. Cory waved as they drove off. When they arrived home, Andi changed quickly from her school clothes into her overalls. Then she ran outside to go riding. As she was walking towards the barn, her older brother Chad saw her. Chad, in Andi's opinion, was mean and bossy some of the time. Most of the time.
“Andi, come here!” he snapped. Reluctantly, Andi obeyed. “Andi, yesterday I told you to muck the stalls,” Chad said. “And you told me you would do it later. And I go in the stalls this morning and find out, of course, that you didn’t do them!”
Andi bit her lip. “Sorry, Chad,” she said, trying not to get upset.
“Well then get to it. Now.”
Andi sighed long and loud, turning to do as her brother asked.
“And no complaining. You don't do near as many chores as you should be doing, so I suggest you straighten up and do as I asked.”
“Chad, stop always bossing me around!” Andi said, whirling around. “You're not in charge of me.”
“Actually, I am in charge while Mother and Melinda are away. So you'd better get quick and muck those stalls.”
“But Justin's here. So he's in charge,” Andi retorted.
“Listen here, little sister,” Chad said, getting impatient. “I am in charge of the ranch, and you know you would have to do it if Mother was here.”
“Chad, seriously, leave me alone!”
“Fine. I will. If you go do the stalls.”
“Chad, why are you always so--”
Just then Justin came outside. “What's going on?” he asked.
“Andi claims you're in charge and she doesn't have to muck the stalls, which she didn’t do yesterday.” Chad said to Justin grumpily.
Justin looked at his sister and raised an eyebrow. “Andi, you should know when it comes to the ranch, Chad is the head of that. Now please go and do as he asks, okay honey?”
Andi sighed. “Okay, Justin.” She walked towards the barn.
“Justin, you need to talk to her,” Chad said, watching her go. “Ever since Mother left, she's begun to ignore her chores again, and she won't listen to me at all.”
Justin frowned. “Well, I will if you want me to, Chad.”
“I do. You know she listens to you. Talk some sense into that thick head of hers.”
“Chad!” Justin said sharply. “Calm down. I said I will talk to her for you.
“Thanks, Justin,” Chad said. He then walked off.
That evening after supper, Justin went upstairs and knocked on Andi's door. He noticed she had barely said two words to Chad since that afternoon's argument. “Andi? Can I come in?” Justin asked.
“Sure!” Andi said from inside.
Justin opened the door. Andi was sitting on her bed. Justin came over and sat on the edge of the bed. “Honey, I noticed today that you seem to not be doing your chores quite as well since Mother and Melinda left. You're not doing your chores that you know you need to be doing.”
Andi looked at her brother. “Did Chad tell you to come and talk to me?”
Justin gently squeezed Andi's hand. “Whether he did or not doesn't really matter. You need to start doing what you're asked. I know Chad can seem bossy sometimes, but you still need to do your chores.”
Andi looked away. “I know, Justin. I'll try.”
Justin smiled. “I know you will. Good night, honey.” He squeezed her hand again and then left.
“I know I need to do what Justin told me,” she said to herself, “But Chad just makes me so mad sometimes!” She rolled over in bed and quickly fell asleep.
A few hours later she woke with a start. She sat up and looked around. She heard another noise. Then she got out of bed and went to her door, opening it. She saw nothing as she looked down the hallway. All was quiet now. She shrugged and climbed back into her own bed. Then, from outside, she heard the noise again.
Peeking out of her window, Andi saw several dark forms moving towards the barn. Andi dressed quickly, then snuck downstairs to check it out. When she reached the barn, she began slowing down, trying to be quiet.
“Okay, so here's the plan, boys,” Andi heard a gruff voice say. “We need to get her to--” his voice trailed off. “Shh, I hear something outside,” he whispered to his men.
The three men walked slowly to the barn door. When the man saw Andi walking towards the barn, he had an idea. A second later, his two men ran out, past Andi, mounted their horses and rode away.
Startled, Andi ran into the barn. “Taffy?” She said. “You okay, girl?” As she rounded the corner of the stalls, she saw a dark shape loom before her. The figure swung something at her. Next thing she knew, Andi was knocked out on the floor.