Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Terrible Secret Chapter 3

To begin this story, go HERE.


Chapter 3


Andi scurried down the boardwalk and met Justin just as he was climbing into the family buggy. “Well, right on time for once,” he quipped.  
Before he could offer her a hand up, Andi jumped in. She was red-faced and breathing hard. It had been a frantic, three-block jog to make it in time to catch a ride home. She’d been late the past two days, and Justin had threatened to drive home without her if she was late one more time.
He wouldn’t dare, Andi thought. But he’d sounded mighty annoyed when he said he was tired of tracking her down. Maybe having to fend for herself might have an effect.
“What happened to you?” Justin asked when Andi settled herself beside him and brushed back a stray lock of hair.
She snatched the reins from his hands. “Who, me?” She slapped the horse. Pal took off at a leisurely walk down Tulare Street. “What’s wrong?”
Justin pushed back his hat back relaxed against the buggy seat. “Oh, nothing, I suppose, besides your red face and wild tangles. Looks like you were running for your life.”  
“No, I was running for a ride.” She flicked a sidelong glance at her brother. “I didn’t want you to take off without me.”
Justin chuckled. “So, you do listen occasionally.”
Andi slapped the reins again, and the horse broke into a brisk trot. “Occasionally,” she agreed.
“I see. And what would you have done if I’d followed through with—”
Just then the buggy slammed through a hole in the dusty road. They flew from their seats.  Justin clutched the buggy side with one hand and yanked Andi back with the other.
“Andi! Watch out!”
“Sorry.” Andi smiled her apology. “I didn’t see that one.”
“Obviously,” came Justin’s sour reply. “Take it easy, would you?”
A few minutes later, Andi slowed Pal and sighed, long and deeply. Her friends’ words from earlier troubled her. She knew they’d been teasing her, but was there a sliver of truth hidden behind their careless words about “finishing school” and Andi not being a proper young lady.
Jack’s comment had hit hard on the inside, even though she’d pretended not to care: “So, where does that leave you, Andi?”
Where does that leave me, indeed? Andi thought dismally. Left in the dust behind my beautiful, golden-haired sister, I reckon. Like always.

She sighed. Why did Melinda have to be so . . . so perfect? So beautiful, with never a lock of hair out of place. Why! Melinda never tripped and fell head over heels into a horse trough. She never came to the table with a sunburned face. She never—
Andi swallowed the lump that suddenly clogged her throat. “Justin?” She’d barely said his name before she felt heat creep into her cheeks.
This would not be easy.
“May I ask you something? Something important? And you won’t laugh at me?”
Justin’s eyebrows shot up. “Have I ever laughed at you when you’re in one of your quiet, serious moods?” He didn’t wait for her answer. “Ask me anything you like.”
Andi took a deep breath. “Am I . . .” She swallowed. “Am I . . . pretty?” The last word came out as a whisper. The creeping heat she’d felt in her cheeks exploded. She cringed and stared at Pal’s back.
Justin said nothing, but Andi could tell he’d been taken aback at her question.
Andi held her breath. I guess even a lawyer gets a surprise now and then. But honestly! This is not a hard question. Yes or no.
Justin’s hand shot out, and he ruffled her hair. “Of course you’re pretty. It runs in the family. All the Carter women are beautiful.”
“Oh, Justin!” Andi let out the breath she’d been holding. “Don’t tease me. I’m serious. I need an answer before I grow another day older. Will I ever turn out as beautiful as Melinda?” She sighed in bleak memory of the afternoon. “All my girlfriends want to be just like her.”
“I am being serious, honey.” Justin winked. “Why don’t you ask young Mr. Blake that question. He’d tell you.”
Andi’s head shot up. “Cory?” She wrinkled her forehead. “Why would I ask him? He’d laugh and shove me in the horse trough.” She dismissed that silly suggestion with a wave of her hand.
A dark tangle blew across Andi’s face. She caught it and held it up. “Don’t you think it’d be prettier to have golden hair? Melinda has perfect hair, perfect skin, and no freckles.”
She slumped, suddenly disheartened. “But look at me. Hair nearly as dark as an Indian’s (and it never behaves), suntanned skin, and . . . and freckles!” Her voice caught. 
And the prettiest blue eyes in the entire valley,” Justin quipped. He took the reins from Andi and slapped the horse. “Giddup, Pal.”
Pal leaped forward, and Andi slammed back into the seat. “Just forget I asked,” she muttered.
How like Justin to take such an important subject so lightly. Blue eyes, indeed! Everybody in the family had blue eyes. What was so special about that? I wish I had dark, chocolate eyes like Rosa. And golden hair like Melinda.
Justin clearly sensed Andi’s mood. He turned a serious look on her. “Listen to me, Miss Carter,” he scolded. “You wouldn’t be our Andi without your hair and eyes just the way they are. The first time I saw you was when I came home from law school for the summer. You came a whole month early, so you can imagine my surprise when I walked into the house and heard you wailing. You were so tiny, with those huge, bright-blue eyes and curly, black hair.”
He leaned close to her ear and whispered. “Don’t tell Melinda, but not even she was as pretty a baby as you.” He paused. “She had no hair.”
Andi giggled in spite of her gloomy mood.
“You were such a frail baby your first year that Father insisted you be given all the fresh air and California sunshine you could get. It worked. You’re bursting with health and energy, and if you’re brown it’s because that’s what happens when you play outdoors.”
He pulled her into a hug with his free hand. “Tell me truthfully. Would you really prefer to stay indoors all the time, turn pasty-white, and wilt like other young, 'proper' young ladies?”
Andi dropped her gaze to her lap. “I reckon not. But—”
“No buts, Andi. There’s a reason Mother pays no attention to Aunt Rebecca when she harps on you about your skin or your wild ways. Rebecca doesn’t understand how close we came to losing you when you were little.”
Andi digested this in silence.
“Anyway,” Justin said. “Chad, Mitch, and I will have our work cut out a few years from now—beating back all the young men who will want to call on you.” He kissed her cheek. “Such is the responsibility of older brothers. We will no doubt come to wish you weren’t so pretty.”
Andi ducked away. “Stop it, Justin.”
“You asked for it.”
“But what about the freckles? Melinda hasn’t any. They’re popping out everywhere this spring.”
“Is that all that’s bothering you?” Justin shook his head. “You’ve barely enough freckles to count.” He winked. “And I’ll tell you something. Melinda had just as many freckles when she was your age.”
“The truth?”
Justin put a hand over his heart. “On my honor, honey. Now, no more silly questions like that. Here." He nodded to the horse. "Give Pal some exercise, will you?" He clutched the buggy's side with one hand. "Run him as fast as you like. I'll try to stay in one piece."

Andi burst into laughter, slapped the horse, and shouted, "Yee-haw, Pal! Make tracks!


Read CHAPTER 4
 
 

23 comments:

  1. Ohh I really loved this part:) it so sweet of Justin to reassure Andi like that. Thank you, Mrs. M for posting this.:)
    <3 MA

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    1. 😉 It's nice to have a peek into their lives now and again, rather than reaching from one disaster into another. I figured it would be a nice little interlude of insight.

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  2. I meant "racing." Grrrr phone autocorrect.

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  3. AWW!! I love the brother,sister relationship here!!

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  4. That's so sweet!! Thx so much for posting that! ~cheyenne

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  5. Is there going to be another chapter? Cause I can't get enough!

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    1. I've formatted and have twelve chapters ready to post (one a week), so hopefully by then I will have figured out a way to end this novel! LOL I'd hate to cut you off and leave you hanging, but right now . . . that's where we are with this story. :-)

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  6. Pleassssssssse, Mrs.M! Can you post them more then once a week?????

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    1. I can't since I'm leaving on a trip and need a lot of posts ready to go ahead of time. Maybe later on?

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  7. This was a super sweet chapter! Enjoyed it very much. :)

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  8. I always love the Justin/Andi chats. :D

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  9. Aww, this made me so sad! I've always thought that Andi was the most beautiful girl in all the valley! She even looks prettier in overalls than in her Sunday best. :) <3

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    1. Of course she is, but what 13 year old girl really EVER thinks she's pretty at that age? That's the point, of course, that her big brother can reassure her. :-)

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    2. Yeah,13 year old girls do have trouble believing that they are pretty. That's probably why girls start wearing make-up around that age.:p
      <3 MA
      PS I'm 13 so I should know:b

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    3. And I was 13 for a VERY LONG YEAR (LOL) so I really know too! :-)

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    4. Ohh, yes. 13 is a difficult age. ;)

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    5. Yes, I've felt the same way as Andi, that's why it hit me so hard. Lol,and I also didn't like being 13, so I decide to stay 12 the whole year. <3

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  10. I really loved this chapter, probably my favorite. I've wondered the same thing multiple times(even wishing that I had golden hair, haha). It's really touching how Justin and Andi relate, thanks for sharing this! :-)

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    1. LOL! I'very also always wanted golden hair.
      ~cheyenne

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  11. This is so sweet. ^_^ But after courageous love, it made me wonder what Cory would have actually said.....

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    1. He still (possible) would have said that, friends like to tease each other.
      <3 MA

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    2. That's true...

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Let Andi know what you think!