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Read an Excerpt
By Lynda Patriquin
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Lynda Patriquin
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe other kids in Cassie's foster family teased her a lot, because she was the smallest child in the home and not the mother and father's real child. This was one of the better families. She tried to stay out of the other kid's way as much as possible. Some days she wished she could just melt into the carpet so everyone would just leave her alone. She longed to have a family and home where she could stay forever, and today just might be that day. Cassie was going to another new home. She was packing what few pieces of clothing she had in a tattered, old, hand-me-down duffle bag held together with duct tape, when Mrs. Miller called from the foot of the stairs.
"Girl, get a move on. Your social worker is here to pick you up."
Cassie stuffed her remaining knee sock, with the hole in the toe, into the bag, pulled on the broken zipper which refused to close all the way, and headed out the bedroom door, tripping on the tear in the carpet. She fell and skinned her knee. She rubbed it to make the sting go away, picked herself up and walked down the stairs. Mrs. Miller heard the fall and yelled to her that she was clumsy. Cassie hoped that this was not how her day was going to be filled.
But still, she was excited. She was going on her first plane ride. The new foster people lived in southern California on a ranch, but this couple had no children. Cassie imagined that it was going to be very boring with no one to play with. She heard they had farm animals and the only animals Cassie had ever been around were cats and dogs. She really didn't know what kind of animals these people would have on their ranch. But she was sure you couldn't play with ranch animals the way you could play with dogs and cats.
As Cassie walked down the stairs, Mrs. Miller said, "You better be a good girl Cassie and mind these new people. Don't be any trouble to anyone and mind your manners! "With that Mrs. Miller went into the kitchen to make lunch for herself.
Cassie's social worker, Mrs. Garcia, rang the doorbell and waited for the door to be opened. Cassie opened the door and Mrs. Garcia instantly hugged her, for she knew where Cassie's next home was going to be. Cassie hugged her back.
Mrs. Garcia whispered in her ear, "You are going to love your next home, Cassie."
She threw her raggedy duffle bag in the trunk of the car, and they drove to the airport.
Chapter TwoMrs. Garcia and Cassie found their assigned seats on the plane and each buckled their seat belts. The steward asked Cassie if she wanted anything to drink. Cassie asked for an apple juice and was brought peanuts and her drink. The take off was the most exciting experience in her young life and it took her breath away. As they climbed higher and higher into the billowy clouds, she leaned back and began to imagine that if she jumped out of the plane she was sure she would land on those fluffy, white clouds and sink into them like a giant, plush pillow and drift away to a land made just for little girls with no parents. She dreamed that all the children there would bounce from cloud to cloud. And each little girl would have her very own dog or cat to play with. They could eat anytime they wanted and have all the nicest clothes, instead of hand-me-downs.
"Cassie, wake up, we're landing," said Mrs. Garcia.
Cassie had been having a wonderful dream, but now she must wake up to reality. The plane landed and after it came to a stop, Cassie and Mrs. Garcia walked through the narrow hallway of the plane, and up the tunnel to the main terminal. There were all kinds of busy people scurrying here and there. Some wore business suits with briefcases in their hands. Others held small babies with diaper bags hanging from their shoulders. She looked around hoping to see the new people she would be living with. Cassie kept searching the faces of the strangers as they walked by. All the strangers hurried past her. They had their own places to go and their own families to care for.
The bags were loaded onto the moving belt and it was easy to find Cassie's. It was the only one that was torn, frayed and held together with duct tape. Mrs. Garcia picked it up and together they walked to the chairs to wait for her new guardians.
Chapter Three"I can't believe this traffic, Michael! We are so late. We should have left an hour earlier. This is not going to make a very good impression on Cassie, or Mrs. Garcia. Oh, I am so nervous! Do you think I look OK? I hope Cassie likes us. We have so much to teach her. Do you realize this poor child has never seen a cow or a chicken or a pig? What if she doesn't like our ranch? What if she is unhappy here?"
Michael was used to hearing Hannah's concerns. She had been like this for a month now, ever since they had received the phone call from the foster agency. Hannah and Michael couldn't have any children of their own and they desperately wanted a little girl. They had called the agency a year ago, answered all the agencies' questions, filled out all the paper work, and had their references checked and their fingerprints done. They were approved a month ago and the social worker had told them about Cassie.
They were ecstatic at the possibility of having a little girl live with them. Hannah wanted everything to be perfect for her. They had finished the upstairs attic with varnished pine paneling to make one big bedroom, with a play area, a bathroom and a sitting room. Hannah had decorated the bedroom just the way she thought a little girl would like it. She had cut fresh roses from her garden and put them in a vase on the dresser in Cassie's room. She even bought a big stuffed teddy bear for the bed. Now all they had to do was get to the airport and pick her up. Michael just listened to her jabber as they found a parking space in front of the terminal. Michael took Hannah's hand as they walked through the terminal doors, to the row of chairs where sat a frightened, blond-haired, little, blue eyed girl with a raggedy, duffel bag at her feet.
Chapter FourHannah knelt down in front of Cassie, took both of her tiny hands in her own and kissed each one of them.
"Hi Cassie, my name is Hannah. Please don't call me Mrs. Martin it makes me feel so old."
Cassie smiled. Michael also knelt in front of Cassie and said, "Hi Cassie, my name is Michael and I know I'm not old. I hope that you will be happy with us Cassie. We'll do everything we can to make you feel welcome."
Hannah was a pretty woman with brown hair down to her shoulders. She had a few wrinkles around her eyes and she wore a soft pastel, flower-print dress. Michael wore jeans, a western shirt, cowboy boots and a straw cowboy hat. He had graying hair, a thin build, but he looked strong.
"We will try to make this the home that you have always dreamed of. We hope this will be your grand adventure," said Michael.
Cassie started to pick up her duffel bag, but Mr. Martin took it. Hannah and Michael shook hands with Mrs. Garcia and said their goodbyes.
Mrs. Garcia hugged Cassie and said, "The Martins will take very good care of you. You are very special to me Cassie and maybe this will be your forever-home."
Hannah took Cassie's hand and the three of them began to walk out of the airport. Cassie turned to look at Mrs. Garcia and she could have sworn the social worker had tears on her cheeks.
Cassie climbed into the back seat of the large white pickup truck. As they drove out of the parking lot, Hannah turned to Cassie and asked what her favorite meal was. Cassie said she liked chicken.
Michael said, "Hannah makes the best fried chicken in the county." Hannah blushed and said, "Would you like some tonight, Cassie?"
Cassie just grinned. "Yes, please."
"There is a family that lives down the road from us." Hannah said. "They have a girl your age named Abby. Would you like to meet her tomorrow? A girl your age needs other kids to play with. You can't play with farm animals like you play with kids, now can you?"
Cassie's mouth hung open and her eyes got wide. And Hannah just smiled. It was like Hannah could read Cassie's mind!
Chapter FiveThe freeway was packed with cars, and extremely slow. They even stopped from time to time. The cars didn't move for awhile. When they did start to move, it was very slowly.
"There must be an accident up ahead," said Hannah.
As they crawled ahead Cassie began to day dream about what the ranch would look like. She imagined a lot of dirt with very little grass to play on. Then she wondered about her room. Would it be small and cold in the winter like the other homes she lived in? She already knew she didn't have to share it with another child. But she also knew there would be no toys or dolls because there were no other children who needed any.
Hannah said, "Cassie you have a nice big bedroom that is all yours. Michael finished the entire attic and made it very nice."
Michael said, "And Hannah decorated it. She made the curtains and the bedspread. I hope you like roses because Hannah sure does!"
Cassie smiled and said thank you. They were putting her in the attic? She didn't like the sound of that!
They were getting off the freeway now and driving up a street with stores and restaurants. They must be getting closer, but certainly the ranch wasn't in town. They drove through the town and past other houses, and up the street until it ended. They made two turns, one right and one left. Then the pavement turned into a dirt road and there were little hills on both sides, dotted with wild lilac bushes, scrub oaks and tiny, yellow mustard flowers. There were small, narrow coyote paths that wound around the hills and disappeared at the top.
Michael slowed down because the dirt road was very bumpy. They passed a few smaller ranches until they turned onto another dirt road, rounded a hill and came onto a beautiful valley nestled in more hills. There was a two story yellow house with brown trim, a big red barn, and a pasture behind the barn holding several cows. There was a chicken coop to the right of the barn, and a large fenced garden. This was Cassie's new home. Cassie thought it looked like something out of a story book. It looked so peaceful. They parked next to the fence behind the house.
"Well Cassie, this is your new home. What do you think so far?" said Hannah.
"It's very pretty," said Cassie.
Michael opened the car door for her and she jumped out holding her raggedy, duffle bag close to her. Hannah opened the back yard gate and Cassie walked through to the house. Michael opened the creaking screen door and she walked through to a kitchen with large windows that let in all the afternoon sun. A large table sat in the middle of the room with 6 high backed chairs neatly pushed in. A crocheted table cloth covered the wooden table and in the middle was a glass vase that held a bouquet of roses and wild lilacs.
On the back wall was a large old fashioned stove that was once Michael's grandmothers'. On the top of the stove sat a black iron tea kettle and a large black iron pot. The kitchen held a warm feeling for Cassie. It was very inviting and held the faint scent of cinnamon.
She was given a tour of the down stairs and then it was time to see her bedroom in the attic!
Chapter SixIn between the kitchen and the living room was a door that opened to the narrow staircase to the attic. Hannah motioned to Cassie to go up the stairs first. Hannah followed. She wanted to see the expression on Cassie's face when she saw her new room. Cassie peeked over the floor of the attic to her room and she gasped! It was like something out of a fairytale and she was the princess. It was huge; the entire top floor was hers. She had a sleeping area, a dressing area, a sitting area and a play area for her toys.
But there were no toys, except for a big stuffed teddy bear lying on her bed. The curtains matched the bedspread and had a small rose pattern design. There was a four poster bed that was painted white. The dresser and the night stands matched the bed. Two book shelves were attached to the wall that held the entire collection of Nancy Drew books. Hannah explained that they had been hers when she was a child and she thought Cassie would enjoy reading them sometime.
The sitting area was in front of the window on the far side of the room, which looked out over the back yard and the hills. There was a bay window with a sitting bench below it. A desk and chair painted white to match the rest of the furniture was up against the wall next to the window. On the other side of the room was her very own bathroom. It had a shower and a bathtub, sink and dressing area. She had never seen anything so beautiful. She wanted to cry.
Michael had tip-toed up the stairs and was standing behind Hannah. They watched Cassie from the stairwell. Hannah got a little teary-eyed and Michael put his arm around her and smiled. They could see that all their hard work had paid off. The look on the little girl's face was all the thanks Michael and Hannah needed.
Cassie turned to them and said, "All this is for me? It's wonderful. I've never seen anything more beautiful! Thank you so much!"
"You are probably wondering why there are no toys here for you," Hannah said. "We just didn't know what to buy because we have never had any children before, and we thought you might want to pick out your own toys. We will go out shopping for new clothes and toys very soon."
Michael asked Cassie if she wanted to see the rest of the ranch, and Michael, Cassie and Hannah went downstairs and out to the yard. Michael led Cassie to the barn. He opened the two huge sliding doors and the smell of fresh alfalfa and straw met Cassie's nose. She liked the sweet smell. Michael showed her three cows, each in their own stalls.
"These three cows are going to have calves in about a week or two." Cassie felt something on her leg and jumped back to see a black and white cat rubbing on her.
"This is Madison, but we call her Maddy," said Michael. Cassie reached down and stroked the cat's head. Maddy just purred and looked up with those big green eyes and blinked at Cassie.
The three of them walked out to the pasture area behind the barn. The pasture was fenced with ranch wire on all four sides. A very large oak tree stood in the middle with huge branches that hung outwards, providing shade for the cows and steers. There were some yearling steers and four cows munching on the grass. Michael mentioned that these were cows that weren't ready to have their calves yet and didn't need to be in the barn. Hannah watched Cassie's face as she scanned the pasture and took in all the beautiful nature. Hannah wanted Cassie to love the ranch as much as she and Michael did. From the wonderment on Cassie's face, it was obvious that she did.
"Let's go see the chickens in the coop," said Hannah. She explained that there were twelve chickens and one rooster. All the hens laid eggs and it was going to be Cassie's job to gather the eggs in the morning before she went to school. She would bring them in, wash them and put them in the egg cartons, then put the cartons in the refrigerator. Cassie thought that was going to be a fun job.
Hannah and Cassie opened the gate to the chicken coop and walked inside. There was a row of shelves that held the nests with two hens sitting on them. Hannah gently shooed them away and retrieved a couple of eggs. Some of the hens squawked their complaints to Hannah. Cassie jumped back when one of them flew at her. She and Hannah laughed. Hannah explained to Cassie that chickens usually lay their eggs in the early morning hours. It was an easy job collecting them and fun, too.
Next, they went to the garden and Hannah showed Cassie all the vegetables she was growing. There was corn, green beans, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini. Hannah told Cassie that some of the vegetables would be ready before Cassie started school in the fall. Cassie had never tasted fresh vegetables before, so she couldn't imagine what they would taste like coming straight from the garden to the table.
As they were heading back toward the house, Cassie heard a clip-clopping sound coming up the road to the ranch. She turned and saw something she had never seen before, that made her stop dead in her tracks!
CH7[ The clip-clopping sound was a horse, being ridden by a boy. He was riding the big, golden horse without a saddle and he had turned onto the Martin's driveway. He was coming straight toward her!
When he was about five feet away from Cassie and the Martins he jumped off his horse and said, "Hi, Mr. and Mrs. Martin." Then he looked at Cassie and smiled.
Excerpted from CASSIE'S QUEST by Lynda Patriquin Copyright © 2012 by Lynda Patriquin. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was not very happy with this book.
This is a wonderful book! I loved the illustrations and the storyline was delightful. It really is a well-written, cute story and was very entertaining. I can't wait to read Ms. Patriquin's next book. I am hoping the next book will be a sequel to this one. Well done Ms. Patriquin!