Murdo, South Dakota
Troy Swanson slowly opened his eyes and glanced around. All he remembered was a shocking pain thorough his left leg and kind people taking him out of that dark alley.
“Your awake! Are you in much pain?”
Troy turned to see a tall young man with sandy brown hair and green eyes smiling down at him.
“Uh, no not much pain. Where am I?” Troy replied.
“Your at the mission on 57th Street. My brother and I found you in an alley about 10 o’clock last night when we went to investigate a gunshot we heard. You were barely conscious when we found you, but you’ve been in and out for the past twelve hours.”
Troy leaned back into the pillow as it all came flooding back to him. He was in a poker game with a professional gambler. He won and the pro accused him of cheating. Troy, feeling it was time to leave, paid off his tab and left. On his way back to the hotel he took a shortcut though an dark alley. He was about halfway down the alley when a shot was fired and a searing pain shot through him. He hadn’t even seen who it was but he knew without a doubt it was someone hired by the pro gambler.
“I’m Matthew Smith. I help my family run this mission. What’s your name?”
“Are you married? Is there someone I should contact about you being here?”
“I’m married, but there is no one you need to find.” There was something about this Matthew that made Troy trust him.
Matthew nodded, “ Would you like to tell me about it?”
Before Troy knew it he’d told Matthew all about Katherine and the kids, about her leaving him, about taking Andi and the kids to try and force Kate to come back to him, about robbing stagecoaches, and worse of all about drinking and hitting Katherine and Levi.
“I see,” Matthew replied. “I’d like to read to you out of my Bible.”
After all the talking Troy had already done and the pain that was coming back into his leg, he didn’t feel like arguing.
Something about the way Matthew read the Good Book made Troy believe him . . .
Several days later Mitch rode into town to pick up some supplies at the Goodwin’s Store and Andi went along.
“I’ll just wait for you here,” Andi said as Mitch dismounted.
“Alright Andi,” he replied.
Mitch hadn’t been gone long when a man came around the side of the building and approached Andi. “I heard that young man call you Andi. You wouldn’t be Andrea Carter, would you?”
“I would. Who would you be?” She asked as she studied the man.
“I’m Matthew Smith. My family and I have a mission house in South Dakota, and I’m here on behalf of Troy Swanson.”
Andi nearly fell out of the saddle when she heard that. She took a deep breath and turned to face the man standing next to her and Taffy. “I don’t know anything about you sir, but if you have a message from Troy Swanson, I don’t wish to speak to you.”
“Troy said you might feel that way. If you would just listen to what I have to say I’m sure you would change your mind,” Matthew pleaded.
There was something about Matthew that Andi couldn’t quite put her finger on, something that made her feel she ought to listen.
“Alright, I’m listening,” she replied.
“First, he ask that you don’t tell anyone about this,” Matthew cautioned.
“Troy was shot in the leg a little over a week ago. That and being exposed to the Scriptures at the mission house has made him see his need to accept Christ into his heart and let God change his life. He gave his life to Christ two days after he was shot. He sent me to ask you to help him regain the love and trust of his wife and children,” Matthew explained.
Andi sighed and then said, “Mister, I would really like to believe what you’ve told me, but I’m not sure I can. You see Troy took me and his own children hostage to—”
“To try and force Katherine to come back? Yes, he told me about that. But if you would just meet him, that’s all he ask.”
Andi took a deep breath and made her decision, “When and where?”
Matthew smiled, “Thank you. He said to meet him out by the creek where you first met. He’ll be there as soon as I get the message to him. But remember to keep it a secret.”
Andi agreed. And Matthew headed on down the street.
In the two weeks after meeting Matthew and hearing about the change in Troy, Andi wondered daily if it was true. She was always on guard, expecting Troy to show up. Every day she rode out to her favorite spot by the creek to check and see if he was there. Today when she threw the saddle blanket across Taffy a note fell out.
Andi quickly snatched it up and read:
This is Troy. I’m camped by the creek where we first
met. Please ride out soon so we can talk.
Andi breathed in deep in an attempt to calm her racing heart. Troy is really here! Has he changed? Is this another one of his schemes?
She took a deep breath to calm her racing heart as she whispered a quick prayer. “Dear Lord, If it be your will please let the news of Troy giving his life to you be true. And if not please keep me safe as I ride out today. Amen.” She finished saddling up Taffy and headed out.
When Andi reached the designated spot by the creek Troy was standing there watching for her. She slowed Taffy to a stop a few strides away from Troy.
“Hello Andi! It’s good to see you again!” He called out to her with a friendly smile.
She could see a difference in him. In his voice, in his smile. Now he was smiling because he was happy, not because he was gaining something. Andi jumped down off of Taffy and walked over to Troy. He waited until she was directly in front of him and then he stuck out his hand. Andi ignored it and surprised Troy and herself by pulling him into a hug. He returned the embrace and Andi heard him whisper, “Thank you God!”
Troy invited Andi to sit down and offered her some coffee. She noticed he had a slight limp from the gunshot wound, but was otherwise completely healed.
“I just can’t believe it,” she said as she studied this new Troy.
“God is good,” he smiled, “Oh, I meant to ask you how Katie and the children are doing?”
“They’re all doing good. They are living in San Francisco with Aunt Rebecca, but they are coming to visit in a few days,” she replied.
Troy jerked his head around to look at Andi, “Don’t tell her I’m here. I mean, I want to see her but first I want to get used to this myself and maybe even get a steady job. Since the guy that shot me also stole every cent I had,” he grimaced.
“Alright Troy,” Andi agreed. “If that’s what you want my lips are sealed.
“Thanks,” he grinned.
“Wait until Kate see’s you!” She exclaimed.
Troy smiled at the thought “I hope and pray every day, she will believe me and learn to trust me.”
Two days after Andi met with Troy at her favorite spot, Katherine and the kids arrived. Their train came into Fresno at 3 o’clock and they rode out to the ranch with Justin.
Kate and the kids had a good visit with the family. The day before they planned to catch the train back to San Francisco Andi was passing by the library door on her way outside to go for a ride with Levi, Betsy, and Hannah when she heard someone. The door was open so she peeked inside. Katherine was sitting on the settee and Mother was sitting next to her
“Have you heard from Troy recently?” Elizabeth was asking.
“No,” Katherine replied “not a word. Sometimes when Levi smiles I see Troy. I miss him, Mother.” She sighed, “I sound so foolish, after all he’s put me and the children through.”
“No dear, you don’t sound foolish. You love him that’s all.”
“That’s just it. How can I love a man like that?”
“Don’t worry over it dear, in time you’ll heal. Now come on let’s go see if Andi and the kids have left yet,” Elizabeth said as she stood and took Katherine’s hand.
Andi quickly hurried to the barn, while trying to figure out the quickest time she would be able to go talk to Troy about what she had just overheard.
Several days later Katherine and the kids went back to Aunt Rebecca’s, promising to return in two weeks for Justin’s birthday on July 9th. Andi hadn’t been able to see Troy since Katherine and the kids had come, so she went riding as soon as they had left.
“Howdy Troy!” Andi called as she rode up.
“Howdy Andi!” He called back.
Andi hopped down from Taffy’s back and tethered her to a nearby tree, “Kate and the kids just left that’s why I haven’t been out here for a while.”
“How are they?”
“They’re doing good,” Andi said softly. “They miss you, and Kate still loves you.”
Troy quickly turned to look at Andi, “You really think so?”
“I know so. I overheard her tell Mother.”
“I hope your right,” Troy muttered.
“Get your stuff together your coming back to the ranch with me.”
“What?” Troy said looking at Andi like she was loco.
“Come on,” Andi grinned. “We’re going to meet the rest of the family and see about getting you a job at the ranch. Kate will be back in two weeks and we want you to make a good impression.”
“Alright,” he agreed. Andi helped him pack up camp and saddle his horse.
PART 2 coming soon!