This is the fifth of an 11-part short story based on the characters of author Susan K. Marlow’s Circle C Adventures and is posted on her blog https://circlecadventures.blogspot.com/
Chad’s family is beautiful. They welcomed me without a second thought.
Supper was wonderful. Ellie found Chad’s family friendly and refreshing, a welcome reprieve from Mrs. Stewart’s stony glare across the table. She said as much to Andi.
They were sitting together in the parlor after supper. Andi’s formal manners had faded away as she became more comfortable with Ellie. Andi laughed. “I know Mrs. Stewart, and I know exactly what you mean. I’ve gotten that look before, especially if I’m doing something she doesn’t see as proper.”
Ellie joined the laugh, a little ruefully. “I got a lecture last night; it was awful.”
“Really?” Andi looked curious. “What did she think was improper? You don’t seem at all like you would be caught riding astride in a split skirt, which was the offense I committed.”
Ellie shook her head. “Mrs. Stewart thought I shouldn’t have let your brother walk me home from school.”
Andi looked surprised. “He walked you home?”
Ellie flushed. “Yes, we haven’t seen each other in a long time, and he wanted to hear how my brother, Jem, was doing.”
Andi didn’t look convinced. “Oh.”
Ellie changed the subject. “You love horses, I understand.”
“Oh, yes, I do! I could talk for hours about horses. I want to learn to trick ride, but Chad won’t let me.” Andi’s voice grew sad. “Riley said he would teach me, but only if Chad agrees.”
“Riley. Isn’t that the young man you were with when Chad introduced us?” Ellie asked.
Andi nodded, and Ellie wondered if there was more to this than met the eye, but Andi didn’t appear conscious of anything more, so she pushed the idea away to consider further.