Friday, May 30, 2014

Even the Beasts - Part 2

Good Morning FFFs,
Here I am at the last conference we'll be helping with this year. I'm in Wichita. If any of you Faithful Friday Fiction Fans are going to be at the conference here, stop by Light of Faith and say hi. If I'm not at the booth, I'm probably walking my niece and nephews around and am somewhere in the hall. :)

This week has been crazy! I've been busy but not with the things I thought I'd be busy with. I had a sudden opportunity to send some of my books to the OCEAN homeschool conference in OR next month and have been trying to get that all taken care of. (Heads up readers, I'm sending my Triple Creek Ranch books and they'll be at the Homeschool Authors booth.) Then I'm supposed to teach a three day class of writing in July and was getting lots of emails trying to get details figured out for part of that. And then my brother needed help pulling and pricing and getting ready for this conference so my mom and I went over and helped Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.
Did I mention I was busy?

I did manage to get a little bit written before I left town. Not much though.

But now I need to get off so I can go eat breakfast. Then I'll stick around the hotel a while longer so I can help take my niece and nephews down to breakfast before going to the conference. Hope you all have a lovely week!

Even the Beasts
Part 2

Last week . . .
Somehow he managed to grab the rope which hung from a pulley overhead. A burning sensation stung his hands, tough and hardened though they were, as they slid down the rough rope, then the rope ended and he fell with a thud.
    For several minutes he struggled to fight off the blackness which threatened to engulf him. How long he lay where he had fallen, blinking as the world revolved with unusual swiftness around him and he fought to recover the breath which had been knocked from his body, he didn’t know. At last the earth slowed its spinning and, drawing a long breath, Harold tried to sit up. His back and shoulder ached and his hands were nearly raw. Warily he looked around expecting to see Scat waiting to pounce on him again, but the mountain lion, perhaps understanding at last that the man who used to feed and play with him didn’t want to play anymore, had disappeared.
    “That thing,” muttered Mr. Manning as he slowly, painfully got to his feet. As he stood, another wave of dizziness swept over him and he leaned against the side of the barn. All at once a new thought struck him. “What if Scat has gone to the house? Valerie is in no condition to withstand even one of his assaults!”
    The fear gave new strength to his shaky limbs and he started for the cabin as quickly as he could. Nearing it, he called out, “Val! Val!”
    Hearing her name called in such urgent tones, Valerie hurried to the door to see her husband, his shirt torn and dirty, his hat missing, limping rapidly towards her. “Harold! What happened?”
    He reached the porch before she could come to his aid and gasped out, “Inside and shut the door.”
    Greatly wondering, Valerie obeyed. “Harold,” she asked again, “what happened? Are you all right? Who was it? Let me get you some water.” She was frightened, for her husband had sunk down onto the nearest chair and closed his eyes.
    “I can’t hold the cup, Val.” Harold turned his hands over on the table and looked at them.
    Valerie gasped. “Oh, Harold!”
    “I am so thankful you are all right,” was all he could get out after swallowing the cool water which Valerie held for him.
    “Of course I am. What made you think I wouldn’t be?”
    “I thought he might have decided to pay you a visit as well.”
    “Me? Who? Harold Manning tell me what happened and who you are talking about!” Valerie was thoroughly frightened now. Never had she known her husband to act so strangely.
    His answer was brief. “It was Scat.”
    After Valerie pulled out the other chair and sat down heavily near Harold, she asked quietly, “Our Scat?”
    He nodded.
    “Did he attack you?” There was a slight quiver in Mrs. Manning’s voice as she spoke. In her mind she could still picture the frightened little cub caught in a trap and how it had followed her around for weeks after it was well. She also remembered the day when it had wandered off into the woods and never returned, until now. Somehow she couldn’t bring herself to believe, though she knew it was a wild animal, that it would intentionally hurt her or her husband.
    Harold winced as he shifted his position. “Well, I don’t think he meant to . . .”
    “Wait a moment, Dear,” Valerie interrupted. “Before you tell me, let me get some water and bandages.”
    The cold water felt wonderful on Mr. Manning’s hands and even the sting of his scraped face was lessened by the gentle hands of his wife. Slowly, while Valerie worked, Harold told of his encounter with the mountain lion, ending with, “One thing’s for sure, Val, Scat certainly doesn’t have any trouble with his right foreleg; the one which was caught in the trap.”
    “I’m so thankful he didn’t hurt you. Where did he go?”
    Harold shook his head. “I don’t know. Hopefully back where he came from. I’m not up to wrestling with a full grown mountain lion, even in fun!” Carefully he stood up, his left ankle sending painful darts up his leg. After gingerly moving it and carefully putting weight on it, he decided that it was just painfully sore and not broken.
    “Harold, where are you going?” Valerie asked in concern as he moved slowly towards the door and reached for his rifle.
    “I thought I’d take a walk around to loosen up my muscles and see if Scat is still around. I don’t want to leave if he is.”
    “Leave? Harold, you can’t leave today, not in your condition now. Besides, it would be after dark before you even reached town. Please don’t go today,” Valerie begged. “Wait until tomorrow. That will only be one day difference.” As he turned to look at her, she added softly, “I’d worry if you went today.”
    Although he wanted to get to town and back again as quickly as possible, Harold also saw the wisdom of waiting one more day, for even holding the rifle in his raw hands was painful. At last he nodded. “All right. I’ll wait until tomorrow. But I still want to take a look around for that beast.”
    Although Harold spent the greater portion of the morning searching, he found no further signs of the large cat. After the noon meal, he went out to the barn and carefully boarded up the window to prevent any further unwanted visits from the half tame mountain lion. As the day wore on, the muscles in his leg began to really ache and his limp was more evident as he came in for supper.
    “Harold,” Valerie coaxed, “why don’t you remain home tomorrow and go into town the next day?”
    Resolutely Harold shook his head. “I can’t wait, Val. If that lion hadn’t come around this morning, I’d have been in town already.”
    “I know but . . .” her voice trailed off and she sat, her eyes on her scarcely touched plate of food.
    “Val,” Harold reached across the table and placed a hand over her small one, “I don’t want to go into town and leave you, but we have to have that seed if we want to have a crop this year to last us through the winter. You know that as well as I do.” He spoke earnestly, almost pleadingly. “Please don’t fret. I’ll hurry as quickly as I can and you know I won’t be gone long.”
    Nodding, Valerie didn’t reply for she knew she couldn’t trust her voice to be steady and soon the Mannings had put out the light and lay in bed, silent, though neither one could get to sleep for a long time.

Come back next week for the end.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Even the Beasts - Part 1

Good Morning Faithful FFFs,
Have you had your windows open this week? We have and are enjoying the weather. Well, it has gotten rather warm upstairs in the afternoons, but mornings are wonderful! And it's fun to wake up listening to the birds singing and twittering in the trees. Did you know that our mockingbird likes to get up at 3:00 to start singing? Do you get up that early? I don't.

I've enjoyed staying home all week and getting things done. Though there have been times when I've felt like I've remembered more things to do than I've gotten done. Maybe that's because I started a long list of all the things I needed to do or wanted to do. :) And I keep thinking of more things to add.

You are probably wondering how my writing is coming along. Well, it's slow. I did finish part 4 of TCR-4 and am over half way done with part 5. But then I got an idea for a new short story and started writing it. I haven't gotten too far yet, but since I've been wanting to write a new short story, it's rather fun. But don't worry, I'll keep working on TCR-4.
Speaking of which, my illustrator sent me a sketch of the first illustration of book 3. Very nice! I wonder how many of my readers have actually gotten to read TCR-1 or 1 & 2.

This story was written last year when I had the idea to write a story for each month and have a calendar to go with it. I got five stories written but only three of them had pictures and then I got really busy with a certain series and "Project 12" was set aside. Perhaps for good. If not, at least for quite a while, and so, instead of just having these stories sitting around, I thought you all should be able to enjoy them. So here is the first part of one of them. This story was supposed to be for the month of May. Enjoy!

Even the Beasts
Part 1

    Mr. Manning opened the front door and stepped out onto the porch. Leaning against one of the pillars which supported the roof, he gazed about him at the green grass; the trees, their leaves growing larger with each passing spring day, and buds bursting forth creating lovely dresses; the early flowers blooming around the base of the porch; at the deep, blue sky overhead dotted here and there with filmy wisps of clouds; the gentle breeze, warm and suggestive of life softly caressed his face, and he smiled. It was a perfect May morning. The kind of morning that makes one feel as though life must just be beginning and nothing could go wrong anywhere.
    Turning, Harold called into the house, “Valerie, come see what a glorious morning it is.”
    A moment later Mrs. Manning joined her husband. Drawing a deep breath of the spring air, she leaned against his shoulder and sighed. “Oh, it is lovely. You should have a good drive into town.”
    “I should at that, but I wish you could come along too.”
    “On a day like today, I wish I could, but—” She looked up into Harold’s strong, tanned face with a wistful look.
    Unable to resist, Harold dropped a kiss on the upturned face before he replied, “ I know, Val. When I go again in a few months, after the baby comes and all, then the three of us will go together. We’ll make a vacation of it and stay two or three days.”
    “I would like that, Harold. It does get a trifle lonely out here, especially when you are away. How long will you be gone?”
    Filling his lungs with the fresh morning air, Mr. Manning let it out slowly before he replied, “One day to get there, one or two days in town. I hope it will just take one, and then one day coming home. And let me tell you, Valerie Manning, I’ll be starting mighty early coming home and I’ll be wanting a good supper!”
    Valerie laughed. Even though she knew she would miss her husband terribly while he was gone, it was pleasant to know that he would be missing her just as much.
    During the breakfast which soon followed, the couple tried to keep things cheery and light because it was always hard to part even for a few days, for their closest neighbor was a good hour’s ride away and they didn’t get many visitors past their place.
    “Now, Val,” Harold cautioned, “don’t work too hard. You will only have to milk Gwendolyn, feed the chickens and gather the eggs. Don’t start plowing the fields until I return.”
    “Harold,” Valerie laughed, “how could I start plowing when you’ll have the team?”
    “And,” he went on, ignoring her question, “don’t go finding any wild baby animals to bring in. We’ll soon have a baby of our own.”
    Together the couple shared a laugh, for Valerie’s love and pity for anything small, helpless and in need was now a standing joke between them. In the years they had lived on their homestead she had discovered many babies whose mothers had abandoned them, for whatever reason, which she had fed, raised and, to a certain degree, tamed including a deer, a raccoon and, most unusual of all, a mountain lion. All were gone now, back to their native habitat.
    “I’ll pack your lunch, Harold,” Valerie said quietly, picking up the lunch bag to take with her and blinking quickly.
    Harold saw the unshed tears and for a moment hesitated about leaving. Perhaps he could wait for a few days, he thought. But no, the longer he put it off, the closer it would be till the baby was due and he didn’t want to be gone then. If only they didn’t need the things he had to pick up. However, one can’t plant a crop without seed, so, with reluctance, Harold took his hat from the peg in the wall. “I’ll pick up the lunch after I hitch up the team, Val.”
    “All right.”
    Trudging out to the barn, Harold frowned. “I wish I didn’t have to leave her here alone. But there’s no one else to come stay with her. At least she can shoot straight.” He decided then to take his six-shooter with him and leave the rifle at home. “Val knows the rifle and a six-gun is easier to pack in town.”
    Upon reaching the barn, he noticed the horses were acting rather strange. Both were uttering nervous nickers and frightened whinnies as they moved restlessly about in their stalls. “Now what’s wrong with you?” Harold asked gently, going into the first stall and trying to quiet the horse. “You didn’t seem bothered when I fed you this morning. Easy now, Duchess. That’s a good girl. Let’s just go out and soon we’ll be on our way. Whoa, steady, Duke!” The second horse had suddenly reared and given a sharp whinny. Stopping quite suddenly, Duchess planted her feet and refused to move from under the shelter of the barn loft; in terrified alarm, she backed persistently into her stall again refusing all coaxing to come out.
    Harold looked at his two horses, usually so gentle and easy going, and frowned in bewilderment. What was wrong? It was then that his ear caught the sound of something moving about in the loft up above. “Now what could that be?” he mused. “I wonder if it’s what’s causing the horses to be so frightened.”
    Silently he stepped over to the ladder wishing he had thought to grab his gun. “But who would have thought I’d need a gun to hitch up the team to the wagon,” he thought grimly.
    With great caution, Harold climbed up towards the loft, carefully putting each foot on the next rung as silently as possible. At last his head was level with the loft floor. The next step would let him see what was in the loft, it would also allow whatever was up there to see him. For a moment he hesitated, then rapidly, he climbed the last two rungs and looked quickly about. At first glance he saw nothing unusual.
    Stepping all the way into the loft he heard a sound. It sounded like the meow of a cat, a large one. Turning, Harold beheld a large, nearly full grown mountain lion!
    “Scat!” Mr. Manning exclaimed as the mountain cat stretched and yawned. “What are you doing here?”
    For answer the cat came over and batted a paw at Harold’s legs.
    “Oh no,” Harold shook his head and stepped away. “I don’t have time to play this morning. Go on, Scat, scat!”
    But Scat, the mountain lion, who had been raised by the Mannings, didn’t want to leave. He wanted to frolic. Leaping playfully, he struck Harold on the shoulder with all his one hundred ninety pounds. With difficulty, Harold remained on his feet and managed to push the lion down.
    “Go on, Scat!” he ordered. “I don’t have time to play. Now get!” He had stepped towards the loft window, the only conceivable place the lion could have entered, hoping that Scat would decide it was time to leave. Suddenly, without warning, the large cat slammed full into Harold’s back with such a force that he lost his balance and found himself falling through the open window. Somehow he managed to grab the rope which hung from a pulley overhead. A burning sensation stung his hands, tough and hardened though they were, as they slid down the rough rope, then the rope ended and he fell with a thud.

To be continued next week.
Will you be back?
What do you think happens?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Responsibility - Part 3

And a lovely good morning to you, Faithful Friday Fiction Fans,
The sun is shining and it's supposed to be warmer than yesterday. Yesterday's high was in the low 60s, but that was better than it has been. I enjoyed the sunshine yesterday and I'm hoping it will stay sunny today. I have a yard to mow tomorrow and I'd rather not have wet grass.

How was my week? Well, the conference down in TX went well, but I'm glad to be home and not have another one this weekend. :) We came home Sunday late afternoon. The rest of the week has been spent at home doing "normal" things, lots of reading because our internet was down until late Tuesday afternoon, and just enjoying taking care of things at home.

What about writing? Well, I've been wanting to write, but I just couldn't seem to get any ideas. I wanted to work on "Dr. Morgan" but I was stuck. I wanted to write a short story, but I couldn't think of any ideas. I thought perhaps I'd write another story for "Ria and the Gang" (sequel to "Home Fires" for my new readers), but nothing seemed to come. I considered started TCR-4, but wasn't sure just when book 4 starts, so . . . I was rather stuck. Then I figured out one little thing about TCR-4 and I've been writing it ever since. As of this morning I have the first 3 parts written. Now, that's not the first 3 chapters. That's the first 3,000 words. I think you'll like this book.

But that's my week. Tomorrow S and I head to help out with a friend's wedding by watching several of the children. I'm hoping to get the yard mowed before then though. :)

And now I hope you enjoy the last part of this story. Tell me what you think of it.

Part 3

    It took the combined effort of Raymond and Levi to move the tree enough for Preston to gently pull Danielle’s foot free, and when it was out, Danielle sighed with relief. “Thank you. I just knew some wild animal would have me for his dinner or at least his midnight snack.”
    “Why didn’t you send your horse back to the house for help?” Raymond inquired, brushing his hands off.
    Rubbing her foot and ankle, Dani replied, “Oh, I couldn’t. Poor Sundance has hurt her foot or her leg. I don’t know which. She started limping and I got off and tried to lead her back and that’s when we got lost and I caught my foot in there,” and she nodded in the direction of the tree.
    As soon as she mentioned her horse’s injury, Levi had quickly moved over to Sundance who was patiently standing in the trail. “Which leg?”
    “Her right foreleg. She’ll be all right won’t she, Levi?” There was concern in Danielle’s voice as she watched her brother.
    His answer wasn’t to her. “Hold a lantern over here, Ray, so I can see.” His strong, knowledgeable hands gently felt the horse’s leg and then he tried to pick up her hoof. “Come on, up,” he spoke firmly and Sundance lifted her foot.
    “Well?” Preston queried after Levi and Raymond had examined the leg in question and then straightened.
    “Can’t tell for sure, but it looks like it could be just a bruise.”
    “Dani,” Raymond asked, “did you try riding Sundance through a stream?”
    Dani nodded. “There’s one somewhere along the trail and I thought we’d cross it, but then she wouldn’t go all the way and when I turned her, she started limping.”
    “She’s not carrying anyone home,” Levi declared flatly. “Someone will have to walk her back.”
    “Speaking of home,” Preston said, offering his hand to his sister to pull her to her feet. “We’d better start back now. Raymond, you think you can find the way out of this tangled patch of trails?”
    “I’ll take Sundance back at a slow pace,” Levi announced. “Just leave a lantern in the trail where I have to turn and I can find the rest of the way back.”
    At that Danielle clasped her hands together and exclaimed in delight, “Then I can ride Arrow! I’ve always wanted to ride him.”
    “No, you may not, Danielle Perry,” Levi replied quickly. “You’re not strong enough to handle him, and I’m not about to let you possibly injure yourself so you get out of chores for weeks.”
    “You’re riding double with me.” Preston’s voice had a “don’t-even-try-to-argue” tone in it and Danielle didn’t press further.
    “Well, are you two coming?” Raymond’s voice moved Preston into action and, after swinging up into the saddle, pulled his sister up behind him, and they started for home, leaving Levi to follow slowly with Sundance.

    Dani had finished her supper, which would have been more than bread and butter in the kitchen had not Preston put his foot down and gently but firmly reminded his mother of what she herself had told Dani, and she was now seated in the family room telling about her adventure while Raymond bound her ankle, for she had twisted it in the tree. Preston could tell she had begun to think she was quite important because of the fuss being made over her, and he thought it was time that idea was changed. Before he could say anything, however, the door opened and Levi entered.
    “How’s Sundance?” Dani asked eagerly, catching sight of him.
    “She’ll be all right after a week’s rest.”
    “A week! How can I survive without being able to ride her for a whole week,” Dani wailed. “Poor Sundance, she won’t like it either when I ride another horse and leave her behind.”
    Preston cleared his throat. “You won’t be riding any horse at all for the rest of this month, Danielle.”
    Turning to stare across the room at her oldest brother, Dani gasped, “Not ride?”
    Levi leaned over Preston’s chair and muttered, “Don’t forget her chores.”
    A very faint nod was answer enough for Levi, and he crossed to a chair to sit down and take off his boots.
    “But, Preston,” Dani asked, “what about going to town?”
    Her brother’s voice was quiet. “You’ll ride in the carriage with Mother and Natalie. And as soon as you are firmly back on your feet, you’ll be doing your regular chores and any others that Levi assigns until this month is over.”
    This seemed too much for Dani and she burst out, “Extra chores! Preston, why? You can’t mean that—”
    Levi opened his mouth to speak but Natalie leaned over and whispered something to him and then the two of them rose and slipped from the room, Raymond following as soon as he had settled Danielle’s foot on a stool.
    Preston listened in silence to his sister’s protests until the others had left the room, then he interrupted. “Danielle, I mean every word I said. You have been late for supper four times this week alone, . . .”
    “But—” Danielle started, but her mother’s hand on her arm silenced her.
    “You have neglected your chores and then talked Raymond into helping you finish them, you frightened Mother and the rest of us by riding off into the woods alone, which you know you are not to do unless you have permission and,” he added, his voice slightly stern, “I haven’t heard you say you were sorry as though you really meant it.”
    At that Dani burst into tears and flung her arms around her mother’s neck. “Oh, I am sorry, Mother, I am. I didn’t mean to make you worry, but please, please say I can ride as soon as Sundance is well. Please Mother! I promise I’ll never go into the woods again if you will.”
    Mrs. Perry stroked the tangled locks of her youngest daughter and sighed. Why was it so hard to say no to her? Wanting some help, she looked up at the face of her eldest who had risen and was now leaning on the mantle, and as he shook his head firmly, she said, “No, Danielle. Preston has given sentence and I’ll not change it. You must learn to be responsible.”
    Finding that her mother wouldn’t yield, Danielle tried to persuade her favorite brother to change his mind. Turning tear-filled eyes on him she began, “Preston, please—”
    “Dani,” he interrupted. “I’m not going to change my mind. And if you put up a fuss about it, I may be tempted to do what was suggested to me and turn you over my knee. And I will do that if I ever hear of you neglecting your chores for pleasure again. Is that understood?” Preston hadn’t spoken sternly, but with a firmness which his sister knew and understood.
    Swallowing back her tears, she nodded. With her eyes fixed on the floor she sat in silence for some minutes before she said in low tones, “I’m sorry, Preston. I know I shouldn’t have gone into the woods, but I just didn’t think. And then after I did think, . . . I just kept going. Will you forgive me?” She looked up.
    The corners of Preston’s mouth twitched and he smiled. “Of course I will. Now you’d better tell Mother good night, and I’ll carry you up to your room. It’s late.”
    As Mrs. Perry hugged her daughter, she heard her whisper, “I am sorry, Mother. Maybe this punishment will make me stop and think before I do something.”
    “I hope so,” Mrs. Perry whispered back with a kiss.

What did you think of this story?
Do you think Dani deserved her punishment?
What would you have told her?

Friday, May 9, 2014

Responsibility - Part 2

Good Evening Friday Fiction Fans,
 I'm writing this Thursday evening as we have to leave for the convention at 7:45 and I probably won't have much time to do anything online in the morning. So . . .

I really don't know what to tell you this time. I got a little bit of writing for "Dr. Morgan" done this week as well as just a little of one of the stories for TCR-4. I haven't "officially" started writing TCR-4, this was just an idea I had and I wanted to get it written.

Now I think I'll head to bed. It'll be a busy day tomorrow. Will any of you lovely readers be at the conference?

And now enjoy this next part of—

Part 2

    The late summer sun was warm, but Preston was grateful for its light. It would make tracking her horse a little easier if she wasn’t in her usual haunts. But if she wasn’t there, where could she be?
    The evening stillness was descending on nature as Preston rode up to Dani’s favorite fishing spot. “Dani!” he called.
    There was no answer save for the sound of the water tumbling over a small waterfall some fifty feet away.
    Swinging down from his horse, Preston dropped the reins and looked about. There was no sign of a light colored horse anywhere. Upon hearing a movement on the other side of a large oak tree near the bank of the stream, Preston frowned and his long strides quickly carried him across the few separating yards; however, the only thing there was a squirrel who, on catching sight of him, scampered up the tree and scolded.
    “Dani?” he shouted, and again there was no answer.
    “Well, it’s pretty clear she’s isn’t anywhere around here.” With a shake of his head, Preston remounted, turned the horse’s head towards the meadow and nudged him into a canter.
    He reached the large pleasant meadow only minutes before Raymond arrived. “No sign of her?” he asked as his younger brother rode up.
    Raymond shook his head. “No, she hasn’t been up there since last week.”
    “Last week? How do you know?”
    “There’s no new notch.”
    “Notch? Ray, what are you talking about?”
    On seeing that Preston was confused, Raymond quickly explained. “Didn’t you know she puts a new notch on that old dead tree near the promontory every time she goes there? She told me that in the spring when we went up there together. I was up last week and counted the notches as I always do; it’s the same number it was then.”
    Preston sighed. “Hopefully Levi will find her. While we wait for him or the signal, let’s ride around the meadow and look for any sign of her coming this way. That way if Levi doesn’t find her . . .”
    “I was just thinking the same thing.”
    Each taking a different direction, Preston and Raymond started off around the meadow, hoping to find something or hear the signal shots from Levi announcing Danielle had been found. There were no shots and in another five minutes Levi rode into the meadow.
    “Any sign of her?” he called to the others.
    “No,” Preston shouted back.
    “Dani!” Levi bellowed.
    A sudden shout from Raymond brought the other brothers to him at a dead run. Raymond was out of the saddle and down on one knee in the shadow of the surrounding woods by a small but distinct trail. “Hoof prints,” he pointed out as Preston and Levi joined him. “Fresh ones too and the right size for Dani’s horse.”
    “You really think she’d try exploring these woods alone?” Preston wondered. “Without permission?”
    Levi snorted. “We are talking about Dani, the one who doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything, and doesn’t think about things until afterwards, remember?”
    “Where does this trail lead?”
    “Oh, it winds through the woods and splits off several times. I’ve been out hunting this way before,” Raymond remarked, looking up at his brothers.
    “Well, what are we waiting for?” Levi demanded. “Let’s get moving.”
    In single file the Perry brother’s headed off into the woods with Raymond in the lead. The shadow of night was already falling under the shelter of the tall trees, even though the sun had not yet set.
    “Dani! Dani!” the calls rang out through the woods every few paces, but only the twitter of hidden birds and the soft thud of the horses’ feet answered. The darkness grew deeper and soon the three riders stopped to light lanterns.
    “How much longer is this trail, Ray,?” Preston inquired.
    Raymond shrugged. “I’ve never reached the end. It splits off soon and then again a little later.”
    “Ever reach the end of those trails?” Levi asked.
    On they rode, growing more anxious with each passing minute. Were they even on the right track, Preston wondered? Had she been found and was their mother now worried about them?
    “Here’s the fist split,” Raymond remarked, pointing to a path that at first seemed to parallel the one they had been on. “It turns off to the west in a little while.”
    “I’ll take it,” Preston said quietly, turning his horse. “Two shots if you find her,” he reminded the others who agreed quickly and were soon lost in the darkness, the thick foliage hiding their lanterns.
    “Dani!” Preston shouted into the still night air. “Dani!”
    “Help!” The answer was faint but seemed to come from the direction Preston was headed.
    Urging his horse forward, he called again. The answer that came was much closer and unmistakably Danielle’s voice. Drawing his pistol, Preston fired two quick shots in the air and hurried on.
    The trail twisted and turned and Preston wondered if he’d ever reach his sister, but at last the light of his lantern fell on a well known horse.
    “Sundance,” he exclaimed softly. Dismounting quickly, he calmly made his way around the horse to find Danielle lying on the ground near a fallen tree.
    “Dani!” he exclaimed, dropping onto the trail beside her and setting the lantern down. “Dani, are you all right?”
    For answer, the girl opened her eyes, tried to sit up and fell crying into his arms. “I think so,” she whimpered. “I was afraid you’d never find me.” She sniffed. “I thought I’d die out here.”
    From her dramatic way of talking, Preston knew she couldn’t be much hurt and he asked, “What happened? Can you get up?”
    Dani shook her head, brushing away her tears. “No, my foot is caught in the tree and I can’t budge it an inch.”
    Shouts were heard down the trail and Preston called back. In another minute Levi and Raymond had joined them.
    “Just where have you been, young lady,” Levi demanded when she smiled up at him.
    “Hold it, Levi,” Preston directed firmly. “Let’s get her free from this tree and home before Mother is beside herself with worry. There’ll be time enough for talk after that.”

Any thoughts?
Will you be back next Friday?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Responsibility - Part 1

Good Morning Friday Fiction Fans,
It looks like it's going to be a beautiful sunny day. I hear it's supposed to be warmer today than it was most of the rest of the week. Since the storms on Sunday it's been cooler. In the 50's during the day and 40's at night.

Here's an overview of my week just in case you are interested. If not, you can skip down to the story. :)
Friday was pretty typical. We cleaned house in the morning, but then after supper there was a bit of excitement in the neighborhood. We saw 2 firetrucks heading up the street. We weren't sure where they went, so I got my shoes on and headed out to see. Some friends down the road joined me and we walked down to see what was going on. This was after one truck had left leaving two others and we could tell they were finished with whatever they were doing because they were putting their hoses away. It turns out that an older lady had left something on the stove and left the house. (No one was sure where she went.) Smoke was billowing out of the house and the firemen kicked the door in and took care of it. They said there was only smoke damage. So, don't leave anything on the stove if you are going to leave the house!
Saturday came and brought some rain in the morning and cool temperatures. I did some yard work, mowed the yard and then helped Dad plant 3 trees.
On Sunday we had everyone at church except one family! Plus we had two other couples. It was full and fun.
Monday started out the same but then I got a message from CreateSpace telling me one of my book files was corrupted and I would need to reload it. Well, that was the book I had been wanting to edit again and fix some of the layout. (My first book I published on my own.) So I spend a lot of time that day going through my book and marking places that needed fixed. In the evening I started making corrections.
Tuesday morning found me back at work making more corrections and finally uploading the new file. That night S and I babysat the kiddos. Do you go "camping" in your living room? We did. Not for real, but they all got their sleeping bags out, turned out the lights and I told stories. :)
Wednesday was full of usual things. I did start writing in the evening again. Something I haven't done since I finished TCR-3. This time I worked on "Dr. Morgan."
Yesterday I went shopping in the morning, read in the afternoon, wrote in the evening. I did do other things, but you probably wouldn't be interested in a complete telling of each day. :P

After much thinking and debating between Me, Myself and I, it was decided that I should post part of of this 3 part story since I will be out of town next week at the Arlington, TX convention. This way I can have part 2 ready to post ahead of time without having to figure out what to post. :) So I hope you enjoy this first part. And, if any of you are going to be at the Arlington home-school convention, be sure you stop by the Light of Faith booth and look me up. :)

Part 1

    Preston drew rein at the Perry ranch and climbed down from the buggy. “Hi, Raymond,” he greeted his younger brother.
    Raymond strode over. “Hello. How are things in town?”
    Shrugging, Preston turned to unhitch the horse. “Just fine. Lend me a hand here, will you. Mr. Birks—”
    “Preston!” a new voice shouted from the stables and both brothers turned. “Did you see Dani anywhere when you drove in?”
    The eldest Perry son shook his head and straightened up a moment. “No, Levi, I didn’t see any sign of her. Why?”
    Pushing his hat back on his head and looking disgusted, Levi approached the buggy with his quick stride. “She went for a ride right after lunch, isn’t back yet, and she has chores waiting. This is the fourth time this week she’s been late, and Raymond, when she does get back, don’t help her with her chores.”
    Preston finished unhitching the horse as he said, “Well, I wouldn’t worry yet, Levi. You know how she is when she is off riding that horse of hers. Give her a little more time.” Having taken over the roll as “head of the family” since their father had died nine years before, Preston tended to be more lenient with his youngest sister than Levi. Still, there was a limit even with him, and seeing Levi’s frown deepen, promised, “I’ll have a talk with her when she gets back. And Ray, Levi’s right, don’t help her. She needs to learn to be responsible.”
    “All right,” Raymond agreed easily. “I’ll let her do her own chores.”

    Several minutes later the three brothers entered the house and were greeted by Mrs. Perry. “Supper will be ready shortly,” she told them as they kissed her. “But you have plenty of time to wash up first. By the way, where is Danielle?”
    “Late again,” Levi grumbled before taking the stairs two at a time as he went to clean up for supper. Raymond followed.
    Mrs. Perry sighed and looked up at her eldest son. “You may have to do something, Preston. I talked to her last time and it doesn’t seem to have done any good.” Sometimes this youngest daughter of hers was more tiring and bewildering to Mrs. Perry then her three sons had been when they were young.
    “I plan to have a talk with her this evening,” Preston assured her. “Don’t worry, Mother, she’ll learn, even if it’s the hard way.” Smiling, he bent and kissed her again. “Now,” he added quickly in low tones, “I’d better hurry and clean up before Natalie comes in.” He had heard his sister’s voice speaking to someone in the dining room and now hurried after his brothers.
    Mrs. Perry smiled after him, thankful for such a strong, clear headed eldest son to lean on.
    “Mother,” Natalie asked, coming in moments after Preston’s form had disappeared up the stairs, “have the boys come in yet?”
    Mrs. Perry laughed, “Yes, Dear, they are just washing up. But Danielle hasn’t returned from her ride yet.”
    “Honestly, Mother!” Natalie exclaimed in exasperation. “Why can’t she learn to be on time?” Natalie’s dislike of anything or anyone unpunctual was well known in the house and had been a source of grief and strife several times not only for Danielle, but also for the boys.
    “Preston has promised to talk to her,” Mrs. Perry remarked quietly.
    “I don’t know what good talking will do,” Natalie grumbled, “but if he promised, he’ll do it.”

    Danielle still hadn’t returned from her ride when the family sat down to eat. Several times Mrs. Perry glanced anxiously towards the window in hopes of seeing her young daughter riding in, but as the minutes ticked by and still there was no sign of her, she began to grow restless and toyed with the food on her plate. Danielle had never been quite this late before.
    Watching the worried frown begin to creep over his mother’s face, Preston placed his napkin beside his plate and stood up. “Stop fretting, Mother,” he smiled. “We’ll go out and find Dani. Come on, boys.”
    “She’s probably not too far away either,” Raymond added, pushing back his chair. “She could be fishing.”
    Taking one last swallow of coffee, Levi threw his napkin on the table and stood. “It shouldn’t take us long to find her, but” he added scowling, “she’s taking care of her chores before she eats her supper.”
    Putting on a brave smile, Mrs. Preston said, “I told her if she was late again she would have to eat bread and butter in the kitchen.”
    “You shouldn’t have told her that, Mother,” Raymond laughed. “You know she’d rather stay comfortable in her dirty riding clothes than get dressed up for table.” Then he dropped a kiss on his mother’s cheek and followed his brothers out of the dining room.

    Out by the stables, Preston, Levi and Raymond were saddling their horses. “Dani better have a good reason for not getting back on time,” Raymond remarked. “She sure has Mother worried.”
    “Not to mention chores that haven’t been attended to. Preston,” Levi eyed his brother over the back of his horse as he tightened the cinch, “if you don’t turn that child over your knee when we get her back home—”
    “Easy Levi,” Preston remonstrated, “I thought I was going handle her.”
    “You are. Just don’t be too soft on her.”
    Mounting his horse, Raymond put in, “Worrying Mother and skipping her chores four days in a week shouldn’t be taken lightly, Preston. If I had tried that even twice when I was her age—”
    “You did,” Preston laughed. “As did Levi.”
    “Hmm,” Levi grunted, “seems as though I remember something about that.”
    As the three brothers were about to ride out of the gate, one of the men from the ranch came into view and Levi called out to him, “Jacobson, have you seen Dani?”
    The man shook his head and cradled the sling his right arm was in a little closer to himself. “Not since she left.”
    “Did she say where she was going?” inquired Preston.
    Scratching his head in thought, Jacobson at last shook his head again. “No, she didn’t say anything to me. Is she missing?”
    “Yes. We’re going out to look for her.” Then struck with a thought, Preston instructed, “Jacobson, tell Hawkins that if we aren’t back in an hour, he’s to get the men into search parties and start looking. If she’s not in the few places she usually goes, there’s no telling where she is.”
    The man nodded and the horsemen rode off. For several minutes they rode together in silence. At last Raymond remarked, “If we’re to check her favorite places, we’d better split up.”
    “I was just thinking the same thing,” Levi nodded. “Ray, head up to the promontory. Preston, why don’t you take her fishing hole and I’ll head over to the south pasture. Fire two quick shots if you find her. If we don’t hear the shots we’ll meet in the meadow near the creek. The sun won’t set for another hour, so there should be plenty of time.”
    This was agreed on and they each set off in a different direction. Preston noticed that he had been assigned the most likely place for their little sister to be, while Levi had chosen the most unlikely place. Smiling to himself, he realized that Levi was not in a mood to deal with Danielle and he sincerely hoped that he or Raymond would find her.

Where do you think Dani is?
Why hasn't she returned?
Who will find her?
Will you be back next week for Part 2?