Today, while I was paging through a few old journals, I found an especially interesting entry, in which I wrote,
June 20, 1886
Riley and I returned from our honeymoon, and of course I loved the new little house I’d never been allowed to see…
That's it. Nothing about the actual honeymoon to Yosemite. I glanced through a few more page. Nope, nothing. I must have been in shock or didn't want to remember it or something. I see in this entire journal that there's nothing about my first day at my new house, or--huh--nothing about that missing year, our courtship. Well, I have plenty to make up. I'm making myself a promise to keep up with this journal. Instead of trying to write in it every evening when I'm dead tired, I'll catch up when Jared is napping.
But for now . . . that trip to Yosemite is still fresh in my mind, so I'd better write about it while I can. I shudder to think of it. A day's stagecoach ride to the Yosemite Valley is exciting enough without experiencing--well, I'd better start from the beginning. In fact, I'm going to back up and pick up on the same day of my wedding . . . Another thing. I'm thinking I might someday write a book about my adventures. I'm going to write my honeymoon adventure as if I were watching somebody else. It's less shocking if I separate myself from the actual events.
Here goes. I wonder how this story will turn out?
Yosemite, Here We Come!
June 12, 1886
More than anything, Andrea Carter Prescott wished all the party and celebration would end soon. For one thing, what bride should go around in a snow-white wedding gown at a barbecue, for goodness’ sake?
And it was so warm! Too warm for stays and long sleeves, and a dress with a train that probably weighed five pounds. She’d hiked it up earlier, but it looked silly slung over her arm.
But when Mother glanced her way and smiled, Andi made sure she returned the smile. I want out of these hot, sticky clothes and into something practical—like a split skirt and a light-weight blouse. And a hat.
A hat instead of this veil-thing that kept blowing in her eyes. Grrr—
“You look so beautiful today, Mrs. Prescott.” Riley slid onto the bench beside her and squeezed her hand. “I’m just happy to sit here and look at you.”
Heat jumped into Andi’s cheeks before she could order her emotions back into a corner. Mrs. Prescott? That sounded like an old lady, not an eighteen-year-old girl.
But Riley sure seemed to get a kick out of saying it. He’d called her Mrs. Prescott about a dozen times since the ceremony ended two hours ago.
A stray thought tickled Andi’s mind before she could order it away. What have I gotten myself into?
Yesterday morning, she’d been a free and laughing young girl.
This morning Andi had walked down the staircase with Justin as a bride.
Now she was an old lady—Mrs. Prescott, indeed!
Before today, Andi and Shasta had ridden all over the ranch from dawn to dusk. No worries. Her only care was wondering if her big brother Chad would find something to boss her about.
Andi smiled. At least that part of her life was over. No more big-brother bossing!
Riley chuckled. “What are you smiling about?”
“Chad can’t ever boss me again.”
His eyebrows shot up. “That’s what you’re thinking about on your wedding day?” He burst out laughing.
The heat in Andi’s cheeks spread over her entire face and down her neck. Good thing the sun was hot and bright. It would look like a sunburn.
Andi ducked her head until Riley put his arm around her and squeezed. “Sorry,” he whispered. “I couldn’t help it. You always make me laugh. Don’t ever change, Andi. I want you to make me laugh every day.”
That shouldn’t be too hard, Andi thought. It didn’t take much to make life-loving Riley Prescott break into a smile or laugh.
“All right,” she promised. “Just so long as you promise never to boss me. I’ve had that for eighteen years, and I’m through with it.”
“Cross my heart,” Riley said solemnly.
Andi peeked around her new husband and saw the crowd. They were laughing and eating and joking. And dancing. The Mexican music had reached a fever pitch. Old Diego strummed his guitar like he was young again.
It was all very nice, but . . .
She sighed. “When can we leave?”
Riley shook his head. “I dunno. Nobody told me the rules for how long the bride and groom have to stick around.” He let out a breath. “Whoosh! I think I’ve met every friend and relative you have.”
“And I’ve met all of your relatives too,” Andi said. “Half the soldiers from all those Army forts you lived at showed up for the party. In uniform.” She giggled. “I was sure there must be an Indian uprising somewhere.”
Although Andi and Riley’s wedding ceremony had been an affair for family and close friends, the reception and barbecue afterward had been opened up to a huge crowd of well-wishers. Andi couldn’t help thinking that most of them came for the free food, the music, and the dancing, rather than to congratulate the bride and groom on their new life.
The good part was they all brought some kind of gift. That would really help when Andi set up housekeeping a couple of weeks from now. She couldn't wait to get a glimpse at the house Riley and about a dozen others had built her. No peeking, everybody said. And she'd obeyed. Soon she'd see it at last!
But first! Yosemite, here we come.
Andi had never been to Yosemite. Ranch life was too busy, and she would rather explore the ranch than visit what would soon become—if the government in Washington had its way—a National Park.
Whatever that was. Hopefully it meant people would take better care of the place than they had.
And . . . if she had to choose between Yosemite and San Francisco, well, the mountains would win any day over the city. Even if Melinda had sung the praises of her honeymoon week in San Francisco. The opera! The Palace Hotel! The—
No, San Francisco held no good memories for Andi. That city would be the last place Andi would choose for a wedding trip destination.
So—she squinted up at the afternoon sun—a few more hours and they could get out of here and on their way.
Just then, Chad ripped her away from her spot on the bench. “I haven’t had a spare moment to wish you congratulations, little sister.” He held her out at arm’s length. “You know, of course, that Justin and I had to arm wrestle to see who won the privilege of walking you down the aisle in Father’s place.”
Andi smirked. It had never been a contest. Of course Justin would do it. He’d been playing Father for over ten years. “You let him win, right?”
She giggled at Chad’s confused look.
Then he pulled her into a hug. “I’m gonna miss you.”
“I’m not moving back east,” Andi huffed. “Less than an hour’s ride on a fast—or even slow—horse.”
“Ah, but you are so much easier to tease when we're living under the same roof.”
The music started up again, and Chad swung Andi into the dance circle. “One more dance,” he said, kissing the top of her head. “For luck.”
Finally! Out of these hot, heavy silks. Andi let out a long, relieved sigh. It felt lovely to be back in her familiar split skirt and blouse. Traveling clothes.
Good-bye to the bothersome veil. Good riddance to the stiff, hot bun that rested on the top of her head. Brushing out the long mass of nearly black waves, she quickly plaited one long braid.
“There,” she declared to the floor-length mirror. “Back to the Andi that Riley knows and loves.”
A blush colored her cheeks. The mirror gave it away. Before she could look away, she spied the reflection of a simple gold ring encircling her finger. A deep-blue sapphire with a diamond chip on either side sparkled.
How funny it feels. A shiver passed through her. This is scary. Was it only this morning that I was young, headstrong Andi Carter? Now I’m…
She gulped. Mrs. Andrea Carter Prescott.
Andi sucked in a deep breath. I can hardly believe this. I was so impatient for the year to pass by. So anxious for this day. And now I’m no longer a young girl. I’m a married woman. Speaking of which, isn’t this bride’s groom waiting for her downstairs?
Andi looked around one last time. This morning she’d done the same thing, until Kate came looking for her. She thought that would be the last time she lingered in her childhood room. But no. She’d forgotten she had to change, so here she was. One last time.
This was the Circle C ranch. Home. But for sure, even if she returned to visit, this would no longer be her room.
Her hands suddenly felt clammy. She wiped them on her skirt. Don’t be silly, she scolded herself. Riley and I have a house of our own. That’ll be my home.
But Andi couldn’t stop shaking. She had just taken a major step in her life. What was it she’d written in her journal just this morning?
I will always remember June 12, 1886, as my most memorable milestone.
She took another deep breath. I didn’t trip on the stairs. The wedding was lovely. I felt absolutely fine. Why, now, am I having such a wave of anxiety?
No time for further musing. She had guests to say goodbye to. She squared her shoulders and left the room.
“Good-bye, Mother.” Andi hugged her tight. “See you in a week.”
“Yes, sweetheart. Have fun.” Mother swiped at her eyes and returned the embrace. “Riley,” she addressed the smiling husband, “you take good care of my daughter now, you hear?”
Riley nodded. “Yes, ma’am. With pleasure.”
Chad laughed and slapped Riley on the back. “You have quite a task, brother-in-law. You sure you’re up to it?”
“Oh, yes.” Riley’s eyes twinkled. “Most definitely.”
When Mother finally released her daughter, Chad gave Andi a hug. “Be good for your husband, baby sister,” he said softly, ruffling her hair.
Andi wriggled away from him. “One more order for the road, huh, Chad? If you recall, you’re not my boss any longer.”
Chad chuckled. “Nope, but Riley might need to call on my assistance now and again. You might be too much for him to handle alone.”
“Don’t count on it.”
After finishing dozens of good-byes, Andi followed Riley outside. A ranch hand had hitched up the buggy. Riley helped Andi climb in then swung up beside her.
“I’ll leave the buggy at the livery,” he told Chad.
Chad slapped the horse's rump. “Get going, you two! You don’t want to miss the train.”