Andi turned the corner and continued down K Street until the livery came into view. “Everything will look better after a good, fast ride home on Taffy,” she told herself. “And I have two whole days to work with the colts.” Her spirits rose. “Maybe I’ll ride up to my special spot.”
The clop, clop, clop of nearby hooves brought Andi out of her weekend planning. She looked up. A shiny black, two-seated buggy rolled to a stop along the sidewalk. “Andi!” a cheerful voice called to her.
“Howdy, Lucy.” Andi wondered—not for the first time—why Justin and Lucy hadn’t set a wedding date. Still, she was glad they were taking their time. She didn’t want to lose Justin just yet. Who would help smooth things over with Mother if Andi’s oldest and favorite brother was not around? Who would step in and take her side when she and Chad clashed?
Take as much time as you like, big brother. Maybe somebody else will sweep Lucy off her feet while you’re dillydallying.
Andi knew her thoughts were silly and little-girl selfish. Everybody grew up, and most folks got married. It was as inevitable as the rising sun, and it wasn’t like Justin was rushing into it. No sirree! He was thirty years old—nearly an old man.
Andi could not find one legitimate reason for not liking her brother’s choice for a wife, except that she was from the city. Andi was wise enough not to air her prejudice out loud. The stranger-from-San-Francisco objection would never fly with Justin. Besides, Lucy lived in Fresno now and kept house for her brother, an up-and-coming young lawyer. Her whole family was delighted with the prospect of their daughter marrying Justin Carter.
Right now, the future Mrs. Justin Carter looked completely at ease driving the lively bay horse. She brushed a wayward strand of dark-brown hair from her face and said, “I saw Mitch in town earlier. He thought Justin might like it if I surprised him and rode out to the ranch for supper.” She smiled, and dimples cut into both cheeks. “I heard he’s missing town these days.”
“You heard right,” Andi said. “He’s had enough of standing night watches and listening to Chad rant about rustlers.” She giggled. “He says it’s worse than putting up with a hostile witness in court. He misses his quiet, tidy law office.” She smiled up at Lucy. “Mostly, though, I think he misses seeing you.”
Lucy’s cheeks turned pink. “I’m on my way out to the ranch. Would you like a ride?”
Andi shook her head. “The colts are being weaned, so I’ve been riding Taffy to town the past couple of weeks. Mother had a long talk with Mr. Foster about allowing me to wear a split skirt so I could ride astride.” She looked down at her dark-brown outfit. “He gave his permission, though grudgingly.”
“You could tie Taffy up behind the buggy,” Lucy urged.
Andi felt torn. Lucy clearly wanted company for the hour-long drive out to the ranch. I don’t want to talk. I want to ride. She backed away from the buggy. “Thanks, Lucy, but I’ve had a bad day. I need to ride it out.”
“I understand.” The barest hint of disappointment colored Lucy’s voice. “I’ll see you at the ranch.”
Andi grinned. “I bet I beat you there.”
“If you do, don’t tell Justin I’m coming. I want to surprise him.”“I promise.”