When Andi and Troy rode up to the ranch yard several of the hands were there but Chad and Mitch weren’t. Andi breathed a sigh of relief and led Taffy into the barn. Troy followed leading his horse, Diamond. She showed him into an empty stall. They quickly took care of the horses and headed for the house. When they walked up the steps Andi could tell Troy was nervous.
“You stay here,” she said, “I’ll go try to pave the way.”
He nodded and sat down on the porch swing. She hurried into the house and found Justin in the library. She waited until he looked up, “What can I do for you, little sister?”
“I need you to get everyone together in here.” Andi said. “I have a good surprise.”
“Alright,” Justin agreed. “Where will you be?”
“On the front porch. Just come get me when you get everyone together.”
Justin gave her a confused look, but stood up to go do as she ask. Andi went out on to the porch to wait with Troy. When Justin came to get them he glanced from Andi to Troy, but didn’t say anything.
When they stepped in to the parlor Andi’s mother exclaimed, “Andrea, what is going on? Who is this young man?”
“Will y’all please not jump to any conclusions until I can explain?” Andi asked.
“Oh, swell,” Chad muttered, but everyone agreed.
“This is Troy Swanson, Kate’s husband,” Andi began. Everyone gasped but then remained silent.
“He has given his life to The Lord and vowed to never again drink, steal, or use foul language. He also wishes to regain the love and trust of Kate and the children. And I say that as his family we should accept him with open arms and help him. And Chad, Troy needs a job.” Andi finished and turned to look at Troy who was standing behind her. He grinned at her through tears and bent to give her a hug. She returned the embrace and then turned back to the rest of the family.
“What do y’all say?” Andi asked.
“Welcome to the family!” Justin smiled and stood to shake Troy’s hand.
Before Andi had time to think the whole family was gathered around Troy welcoming him.
“You can start work tomorrow morning,” Chad told him.
“Sounds great!” Troy smiled at Andi, “Your plan’s working!”
She smiled back.
The next two weeks flew by. Troy worked hard and Chad was pleased with his work.
When Katherine and the kids arrived the entire family was waiting on the porch for them, minus Troy who was in the library waiting for his cue.
After everyone (except Kate’s children who went on up to their rooms) was settled in the parlor Andi stepped over to Katherine, “We have a surprise for you.”
“I love surprises!” Katherine said.
Andi grinned, “I’ll be right back.” Andi rushed down the hall to get Troy. When she returned he stood just outside the door, Andi went back inside.
“Kate, there is someone just outside that door that has changed drastically since you last saw him. He has been saved, stopped drinking, stealing, and swearing. He very much wants to regain your trust,” Andi said.
Katherine looked a little confused, but nodded for Andi to continue.
Andi opened the door and Troy stepped in.
Katherine gasped, “What is he doing here?”
“I’ve been working here for these past two weeks,” Troy said. “I know Andi has already told you about God getting a hold of me and turning my life around, and I want you and our children to be a part of my life. Can you forgive me?”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t believe that. I would like to, but I’ve heard that story one to many times,” Katherine answered.
“But Kate if—” Troy started.
“I have to consider my children, Troy.” Katherine interrupted sternly.
Troy winced at the way she said my children, and turned and left the room. Everyone else left to freshen up before supper.
Two days later Katherine rode into town to pick up a few items at the dress shop and, at Mother’s request, invite the bank teller’s family for dinner. Chad sent Troy into town to run an errand the same afternoon.
When Katherine entered the bank she didn’t know it was being robbed. As soon as she stepped through the door, the robber spun around and fired a series of shots. Katherine cried out and fell in the doorway.
Troy, who from across the street had seen Katherine enter the bank, heard the shots and rushing right over found her lying in the floor unconscious. The robbers had got away out the back door and the bank teller was next to her checking her for a pulse. “She’s alive,” he said looking at Troy who also knelt next to Katherine. “Do you know her?”
“Yes she’s my wife,” Troy answered through tears. “I’ll get her to the doctor. Would you please report this to the sheriff and go by Justin Carter’s office and tell him Kate’s been shot?”
“Right away,” the teller said and he hurried out the door. Troy scooped up Katherine and rushed off to the doctor’s. “Please God, take care of Kate,” he prayed. “I need her and love her so much more than she realizes.”
Katherine awoke the next morning, after being unconscious on and off all night. Andi was seated next to her and gently washing her forehead with a wet cloth.
“Where am I?” Katherine asked as she turned to look at Andi.
“Your home at the ranch now,” Andi answered. “Doctor Weaver thought you would be more comfortable here, after he determined your wound wasn’t life threatening.”
Katherine lay there thinking about what had happened. “All I remember is hearing shots being fired and a terrible pain through my side.”
Andi nodded, “That robber got you pretty good. Into your left side and out the back, breaking a few ribs on the way. The good part is it didn’t damage anything internally.”
“That’s good,” Katherine sighed. “How are the children?”
“They’re fine, just worried about their Momma. Melinda has been playing tea party with the girls, and Mitch and one of the hands are outside with Levi,” Andi replied.
“There is something that you ought to know.” Andi said hesitantly, after a few minutes.
“Oh, what’s that?” Katherine asked with interest.
“When you were shot Troy was across the street, he heard the shots and it was him who took you to the doctor,” Andi paused and looked into her sister’s face. “Kate, he sat right here with you all night and most of the morning, praying for God to heal you. He refused to leave until about an hour ago when Levi asked him to come outside with him. Troy is the ranch hand that’s outside with Mitch and Levi right now. “
Katherine just lay there looking rather shocked so Andi continued, “He’s so different now, Kate. I know you said before you couldn’t believe Troy had really changed but would you reconsider, please?”
Katherine nodded, “Alright I’ll think about it.”
“Thanks,” Andi smiled. “Oh, there’s two other things you should know. One, I was the one that helped Troy when he first got here. When you and the kids were here a few weeks ago he was already here, hiding out by the creek.”
“Justin told me about that. You said two things. What’s the other one?”
“It’s about Levi and Betsy, since Hannah isn’t really old enough to understand.”
“What about them?”
“Troy talked with them a long time last night, they have accepted him. They need their father, especially Levi,” Andi said softly. “I’ll leave you alone now so you can think and I’ll go let everyone know your awake.”
Katherine simply nodded, already deep in thought.
“Andi, would you please ask Troy to come in here?” Katherine asked when Andi turned to leave the room.
“Sure thing sis,” Andi grinned and rushed out the door.
When Andi came running up to the corral, where Mitch and Troy were teaching Levi how to rope calves, Troy was concerned.
“Andi, is something wrong?” Troy called.
“No, something is right!” She grinned. “Kate is awake and she asked to see you!”
“Are you sure?”
“Of course, I’m sure! Come on!”
Troy quickly hopped across the corral fence, and he and Andi hurried toward the house. Mitch and Levi followed.
“Kate, you have a visitor,” Andi said entering the room just ahead of Troy. She sat back down by her sister. Troy sat across from Andi.
Katherine swallowed and began, “Andi told me how you stayed with me all night and prayed for me, and how our children have accepted you. A few days ago you said you wanted me and the children to be a part of your life. If that offer is still open...I’m willing.”
“Katie that’s wonderful!” Troy smiling through tears of joy, took her hand. “Please forgive me for the ten years of heartache I caused?”
“If you’ll forgive me for not believing you until now?”
Troy agreed and leaning over gave Katherine a gentle hug, so as not to cause any other damage.
Andi silently rose from her chair and slipping out the door found Levi just outside. “Looks like you’ve got your father back!” She smiled. Levi smiled back and they hurried downstairs to tell the others.
One evening about two weeks later, the family was gathered on the porch after dinner. Katherine had fully recovered from the gunshot. Before dinner Troy had said he had something special to do and he would be back later.
Troy came racing up the road, brought Diamond to a halt, and sprinted up the walkway to the house.
“I got good news!” Troy grinned. Before anyone could reply, he picked up Hannah and continued. “Someone struck iron ore up around Fresno Flats about a month ago. And it’s such a large deposit of iron that it’s livened that place up considerable. When the railroad company heard about it they decided to run the railroad out there, and I got a job laying the tracks!” Troy finished with a big smile. Everyone congratulated him. “And you can live here?” Mrs. Carter smiled.
Troy nodded. ”That reminds me,” he said turning to Katherine. “I know you never liked living on the ranch, but I promise it won’t be for long. Just until I can make enough money for us to settle down somewhere and get our own place.”
Katherine stood smiling at him, “I could live anywhere with you!”
Troy slipped his arm around Katherine. Levi and Betsy joined them, making it the perfect family hug.
“Are we going to be a real family now?” Levi asked looking up at his parents.
“Yes, son we are.” Troy smiled, and everyone else did too.