ANDREA CARTER AND TROUBLE AT THE LINESHACK
Lost Scene #13
The next few days passed without a whisper of worry. Andi fished in peace and almost forgot about the last member of the Dylan gang. Maybe he never existed, she thought, pulling in another fat trout.
Andi felt a lilt in her step. Mitch sat up for longer and longer every day until ten days after the shooting, he stood up and took a few steps across the room.
“Hurrah!” She clapped and helped him back to bed.
Andi had removed the crude stitches the day before. The wound had not bled a drop. The hole had closed up, and all that remained of the incident was a jagged, wrinkled scar.
“I’m on the mend, Andi,” Mitch grinned. “In a couple of days, Chad and Justin should be showing up. In fact, if my guess is right, they should have started out after us by now.” He massaged and exercised the leg daily.
“Whoopee!” Andi yelled, starting to feel like her old self at last. Her color had come back, she was sleeping all night, every night, and her weight had picked up, especially since they had been eating fish every day for lunch and supper.
Unlike beef jerky, Andi never grew tired of fresh trout. She stuffed herself full every night, knowing that the next day would see a new catch of the delightful little fish.
[POV to Mitch]
Mitch had decided that he was strong enough to put into action a plan he had been considering the past few days. He’d kept Andi’s spirits up by telling her Justin and Chad were surely on their way.
But he wasn’t sure about that. He wasn’t sure about anything except the idea that he had to get Andi off this mountain. The only way he knew she would consent is if he proved he could take care of himself until she could bring back help.
He brought his idea up the next morning, and of course she hated it.
“I’m not leaving you, Mitch.” Andi tossed her long, dusty braid behind her shoulder and sat down on the bed next to him. “You’re not ready to take care of yourself.”
“I am,” Mitch said. “Leave me water and some jerky and beans, and I’ll be fine. I can make it across the room, and there’s not much need to go anywhere else.”
“No.” Andi crossed her arms and glared at him. “Besides, why should I go to all the trouble to pack up, only to meet Justin and Chad halfway down the trail? That’s silly. They’ll be here any day.”
“Andi, I . . .” Mitch swallowed. “I’m not sure when they’ll be here. We can’t wait forever.”
She shook her head.
“You’re going to do what I say, Sis.” Mitch lay back against the pillow. “You will saddle your horse, follow the trail down the mountain, and find Justin and Chad. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually you’ll meet up with them. You’ll be safe with them.”
“I’m safe with you,” Andi insisted. “Besides, nothing’s happened. Nobody’s come within a hundred miles of this place, and nobody’s going to.”
Mitch shook his head. “You’re wrong, Andi. I have a feeling. A bad one. The third member of the Dylan Gang is overdue to show up. Now that I can get around, it’s time for you to get out of here. I can’t protect you with a bum leg. Chad and Justin can. Don’t you understand?”
Andi shook her head. “No, I don’t understand. Why do I have to be protected? I can take care of myself just like I have been, and I can take care of you too.”
Mitch stared at his sister as though she had suddenly turned stupid. Then he sighed. She no doubt saw herself as a little girl on an adventure with her big brother, but Mitch knew better. She wasn’t a little girl anymore. Somehow he had to convince her of that.
“Andi, bring me that sorry excuse for a mirror.” He pointed to the cracked and chipped piece of glass hanging from the opposite wall.
She obeyed, a puzzled look on her face, and dropped the mirror on his lap.
“Thank you.” He turned the mirror around so that it faced her. “What do you see?”
“I see me. So what?”
Mitch shook his head. “In that mirror is the face of my sister, whom I love. You are not ten years old anymore. You are almost fourteen, almost a young woman, and a pretty one at that. Don’t you see? That puts you in danger. I’m worried sick that I’m stuck here with no way to defend you against the likes of ruthless outlaws. I want you out of here. Today.”
Andi didn’t say a word. She picked up the mirror, looked into it once more, then quietly returned it to its place on the wall. Then she turned around.
Mitch saw a new look on her face, one of fear—and acceptance—at his words. And a resolve to follow his instructions, even if she didn’t want to.
“I’m sorry, Mitch. I didn’t know I was making you worry.”
“I’m sorry too,” Mitch said sorrowfully. “I don’t want you to learn the hard way that bank robbers and other outlaws are dangerous. You need to stay far away from them.”
Andi nodded. “I’ll pack my saddlebags and head out right away. If I hurry, I can be at the Silver creek line shack by evening.”
“Good girl,” Mitch said. “Take the rifle with you. I have no doubt you’ll do fine in the wilderness. You’re not afraid to go alone, are you?”
“Me? Afraid?” She laughed. “Of course not. Besides, Taffy will keep me company. And if the boys are on their way, I’ll likely only have to spend one night alone.” She looked toward the door. “I need to bring in some firewood before I go, refill the pail, things like that. It won’t take long.”
Mitch watched as his once-cheerful, carefree little sister shuffled out of the lineshack to complete her last-minute preparations. He had frightened her with his concerns, and he could tell she was unhappy and unsure. But once again she would do what she had to do. For that Mitch was grateful.
Andi finished up what was necessary Mitch to get along until she found help. She reached out and took her hat from the nail and plopped it on her head. Her saddlebags lay against the wall. She tossed them over her shoulder, picked up the rifle, and turned to Mitch.
“Good-bye, Mitch,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I’ll see you in a couple days.”
“I know you will,” Mitch said. He motioned her over to the bed and planted a gentle kiss on her forehead. “Good luck, Sis. And . . . happy birthday. I forgot to tell you.”
He gave her a lopsided grin. “Remember, don’t be afraid to shoot first and ask questions later. Only”—he chuckled—“don’t accidentally Chad or Justin.”
Andi giggled. “I won’t.” She waved and walked out of the cabin, shutting the door behind her.
Mitch said a prayer for his sister’s safety and listened to her talk to her mare.
“Come on, girl,” she encouraged Taffy. “Let’s get you saddled up and out of here while it’s still daylight.”
[POV switch to the bad guy, something you will NEVER see in a “real” CCAdventures/Milestones book. So enjoy all these POV changes while you can.]
Duke Dylan jerked back behind a boulder at the sound of the slamming door. There was no way he was showing himself until he figured out exactly what was going on.
“It’s mighty peculiar.” He lifted his head just over the top of the rock and watched a slight figure head for the corral. Too small to be either Rob or Eli, Duke was stumped. If his brothers had taken the gold and hightailed it out of there, he’d nail their hides to the wall.
Or my name ain’t Duke Dylan, he growled mentally.
Had a family of squatters taken over? Worse, had he stumbled upon the wrong shack?
He listened for any sounds coming from the cabin, or any sign of his brothers leaving the place. He didn’t see their horses in the corral. There was only the palomino and a couple of bays. It was very strange. Duke suddenly vowed to get to the bottom of this mystery.
The place to start was with that skittish kid.
Duke crept closer to the corral, ducking behind another rock outcropping just as the—girl?—reached for the palomino. He scratched his head and squinted. Sure enough, the scruffy kid was a girl, now that he could see her up close.
Where in the world did she come from? So far she was the only living person he’d seen since his arrival. She carried a rifle and saddlebags, and it looked like she was getting ready to leave.
Not yet. She ain’t goin’ nowhere until I find out who she is and what she’s doing here.
Duke began to creep silently out from behind the rocks. He cautiously worked his way across the clearing until he was only a few yards from the girl. Her back was turned, and she was occupied with making quick work out of saddling the palomino.
He smiled and silently pulled his gun from the holster. The girl seemed oblivious to his presence, but the mare reacted. She laid back her ears, stamped her foot, and snorted.
“I’m going as fast as I can, Taffy,” the girl snapped. Then she sighed. “I’m sorry I yelled at you. I don’t want to leave any more than you want to.” She gave her horse a gentle pat as she reached out to tighten the cinch.
Duke cocked his pistol.Go to Lost Scene #14