Here is The Last Ride Sneak Peek #2:
Go HERE for Sneak Peek #1
Accompanied by "dear" Aunt Rebecca, Cousin Daniel has come for an extended stay on the Circle C ranch. Andi wanted to have an open mind about his being here, but she was appalled by Daniel's attitude and talk on the way home from the train depot. While lugging Aunt Rebecca's carpet bag upstairs to her room, Andi is about to knock on the door when she overhears her mother and Rebecca talking . . . about her. We pick up this very special sneak peek about a third of the way through chapter 7. Enjoy!
. . . Aunt Rebecca continued her tirade. “I insist you enroll her in Miss Whitaker’s for the entire year next fall. I will speak to Edith about not boarding Andrea. She will stay with me, where I can supervise her behavior more closely.”
Andi’s stomach turned over in horror.
After a few moments of silence, Mother spoke. “I’m sorry, Rebecca, but Edith Whitaker has the most outlandish notions of propriety I’ve ever heard. Given a full year, she would either break Andrea’s spirit or end up expelling her. Neither option is acceptable to me.”
Andi grinned with delight.
“Andrea would behave at the academy if you insisted.”
“No, Rebecca,” Mother said. “I really don’t think she would. It would be too much of a hardship on us all to force her into the mold you are striving to create.”
“James would have made her obey and act like a lady.”
Andi caught her breath. How dare Aunt Rebecca bring Father into this!“Jim’s not here,” Mother said in a low, tight voice. “So don’t presume what he would or would not do. Justin’s done a fine job filling the gap these past ten years. He would never agree to Miss Whitaker’s this time.”
“Justin has a family of his own now,” Rebecca shot back. “You can’t expect him to continue to be involved in these decisions.” Her voice choked. “It is so little to ask, Elizabeth. Please don’t make the same mistakes with Andrea as you made with—”
“As I made with Katherine?”
Mother’s tone held a dangerous edge, sounding a warning bell in Andi’s ears. She was close to exploding. In her mind’s eye, Andi could see Aunt Rebecca worked up too—her tapping foot, puffed-out cheeks, and red face.
“A more stubborn girl than your oldest daughter never walked this earth,” Rebecca said. “And though I couldn’t be happier to see Katherine restored and her children on the right path in the city, I don’t want to see the same thing happen to dear Andrea.”
Andi heard the squeak of springs as someone rose from the bed. “Thank you for your concern, but please allow me to raise my daughter as I see fit.” Mother’s voice softened. “I know you mean well, Rebecca. Don’t worry. Andrea will turn out all right. She just needs a little more time to grow up.”
“The girl is almost sixteen years old!” Rebecca sputtered. “How much more time are you going to give her?”
“As much time as she needs.” Mother paused. “Leave her alone, Rebecca. I can overlook many things, but constant harping on my daughter will earn you my sincere displeasure.”
Rebecca gasped. “Elizabeth! How can you speak to me so? I have never—”
“What are you doing?”
Andi spun at the whisper in her ear. She’d been so caught up in the drama on the other side of the door she hadn’t heard Daniel sneak up. Why did she always get caught listening in on her elders?
Daniel tugged on Andi’s sleeve and motioned her away from the doorway and down the hall. Leaning against the doorjamb of his room, he applauded softly. “Bravo, Andrea. Eavesdropping is a way I learn many valuable things.”
Andi grimaced. “I usually hear discouraging things.”
“Yes, indeed.” Daniel nodded. “Dear Rebecca worries about you a great deal. She thinks you’re headed down the road to becoming a social outcast and tarnishing the noble Carter name.” He chuckled. “I, on the other hand, know better. It takes only two things to assure one’s place in society, and you have both in plentiful supply.”
“And what is that?” Andi snapped.
“Money.” He held up a finger. “That’s the most important thing. It’s amazing how fast one becomes accepted in polite society with a little gold.” He reached out and laid his palm gently against Andi’s cheek. His voice grew quiet. “Secondly, you’ve got the charm and looks to go anywhere you want in society.”
Andi shoved his hand away. “Is that all you ever think about? Money and pretty girls? If that’s what all those rich, fancy folks back East care about, then I’m better off staying on the ranch. The Bible says ‘charm is deceitful and beauty is vain.’ And I don’t care a fig about money either.”
Daniel laughed. “That’s easy to say when you have it.” He shook his head. “Are all the Carters Bible thumpers, or is this your specialty?”
That does it! Andi reached out to give Daniel the slap he so richly deserved. Melinda was wrong. Andi was not too old to give this boy a slap for his impudence.
Quick as lightning, Daniel caught her wrist and tightened his fingers around it. “Temper, temper. The Bible has plenty to say about anger too.” He tossed her hand aside. “Character doesn’t matter much, at least not to most of high society. As long as you have plenty of money, you can do what you like.”
|Andi wants to go riding!|
“You’re disgusting,” Andi whispered, rubbing her sore wrist.
“I like you too,” Daniel replied with a grin. “I’m sure this will turn out to be a most enlightening few months for both of us.”
Andi turned her back on him. A flood of stinging retorts came to mind, but she clamped her jaw shut. Boor or not, Daniel was a guest in their home. “Good day!” she threw over her shoulder and headed toward her room to change out of her suffocating attire.
A good, fast ride on Taffy is what I need right now.
A sudden commotion from Aunt Rebecca’s room stopped Andi in her tracks. Mother cried out for help. Andi hurried back down the hallway. She leaped over the satchel she’d left lying by the door and burst into the guest room, Daniel at her heels.
Aunt Rebecca lay sprawled across the bed, unconscious.
Mother’s face resembled chalk. “Send someone for the doctor, Andrea,” she ordered. “And hurry.”