Searching for the Truth

Summary: I always loved the "Mandie" series by Lois Gladys Leppard. The story and the ones following are a combination of the books and the new movie line that have and are going to be released to DVD. The history of it is that Mandie does have a mother and her Uncle John, who is also her stepfather. This story is about Uncle John having a family before he married Mandie's mother and how he lost his family. This is also a story about how his daughter, Alexandra, finds her way back to him and finds friendship and the family she always wanted with her cousin, Mandie and Mandie's friends. It's an AU from the series and the movie that just came out. For those of you who haven't read the Mandie series I highly recommend them. They can be found at Christian bookstores and the first movie can be found at Wal-mart or a Christian bookstore.

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Prologue

John Shaw stared at the note in amazement. It had been 14 years since he had heard anything about his brother. He and Jim had had a falling out since Jim married Elizabeth, knowing full well that John loved her too. When Jim's marriage had been annulled and John had heard that Elizabeth and the baby she carried had died Jim had never come back again.

In the past 14 years John had found love himself. His wife, Laura, had died in childbirth as well, but his daughter, Alexandra, had lived. Alexandra had the definition of her mother's cheeks and nose. The rest of her looks was her father's. She had his wavy brownish red hair and dark eyes. The dark eyes revealed the Cherokee blood from her grandmother on his side. He and Jim had both gotten certain Cherokee features and John had passed them on to his daughter. If Jim's baby had lived she would have had Cherokee features too.

John had no idea if Alexandra still had his features or not. When she was three someone had stolen her from the front yard in front of the mansion. John had spent nearly a fortune trying to look for his baby, but to no avail. She was lost and John had no idea where to find her.

At least now he knew about Jim. He had hired a private detective a few weeks before. Since he was getting ready to go to Europe he had to know Jim was all right. If something should happen to him Jim would have the fortune that he would have given to his Alexandra.

He almost dreaded having to leave. The detectives were keeping him posted also about Alexandra along with his lawyer, Ed Wilson. Maybe now they would find her since Alexandra was 11 years old.

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Chapter 1- A New Home

Alexandra Rocklin walked along the red dirt path on her way to school. Winter was coming to an end and today felt like one of the days that liked to tease anyone into thinking that it was spring.

Alexandra adjusted the scarf around her slender neck. Her father often teased her by saying her neck was like a swan's and made her look dignified. Her warm, dark eyes mellowed the graceful look by making her look like the 11 years' old that she was.

Her brown hair was pulled back into a braid. It had looked reddish when she was younger, but it had darkened considerably when she had gotten older. She went up to the school and opened the door quietly.

"Alexandra!" Miss. Turnbough exclaimed as Alexandra entered with a smile and sat down in her seat.

"I hope you don't mind that I'm early. I have a history test to study for," Alexandra said, opening her book in front of her.

"Of course not, Alex. You are stumbling through the history. You study it as much as you need to. I know how much you try," Miss Turnbough said as she left the room to go outside.

That was more or less the truth. For some reason history was hard for her to grasp along with fractions, but she did try very hard. It wasn't easy when her father could get the facts, but she felt like a pariah because she wasn't smart like Pa or Ma.

Her father acted like he loved her, but for some reason, when she couldn't get the facts he'd yell at her because she couldn't get facts like he could. It was at times like this that she felt like they weren't even related.

Alex heard the door to the school open and close behind her as the students tromped in and sat down. She put away her history book and pulled out her pencil and notebook.

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Alex felt relief. She had stayed until the teacher finished grading the tests. She had made a B+ on her history. She had only missed two questions that dealt with constitutional history. It was enough of a grade to placate her father from getting upset.

Alex walked down the road to home. Red Clay, Tennessee was a beautiful location to live in. The red dirt of the place was what gave it its name and was a torment when her mother had to wash clothes. Alex had a deep fondness for this place since she moved here when she was 5 with her father and mother from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Before Chattanooga her father had said she was born in Franklin, North Carolina where they had adopted her when her mother and father had died.

She didn't really remember any deaths, but she did remember a huge house, a large black woman who sang her to sleep at night with old spirituals, and a man with eyes like hers and wavy reddish brown hair like hers had once been before the sun darkened it.

Alex stepped in front of the two-story house she and her parents lived in with her three younger brothers and sisters. She also had two older brothers, but they had moved out years ago and had their own families. They only came home every Thanksgiving and Christmas to eat Mama's fried pies and chicken and dumplings.

Alex looked up as a horse whickered. A buggy was in front of the house and it didn't look like either brother's buggy. It looked too fancy and its horses didn't look like farm horses. They looked like the kind that a rich man drove.

Alex walked into the kitchen and a total silence met her ears as her ma and pa and a man she didn't know went completely silent. The man was dressed in a fancy suit. It was more fancy than her pa's Sunday clothes.

"Alex, this is Mr. Lyleton," Ma said, swiping at her cheeks. It was then Alex noticed that her mother was crying.

"What's wrong, Mama?" Alex asked, concern filling her. Mama never cried unless something had truly broken her heart.

"Child, I am a detective. How much do you know of your adoption when you were three?" Mr. Lyleton asked.

"Only that both my parents died when I was small and Mama and Pa adopted me and we moved to Chattanooga," Alex asked, a puzzled look on her face.

"I'm afraid you have been lied to if you believe that story. Your given name is not Alexandra Jane Rocklin. Your full name is Alexandra Talitha Shaw. You were born in Franklin, North Carolina. But you were stolen out of your front yard when you were three. Your father, John Shaw, is still very much alive and is looking for you," Mr. Lyleton said.

Alex felt an icy chill in her chest and her eyes felt heavy with unshed tears. Her father was alive? "How is that possible?" Alex asked her tongue thick in her mouth.

"I don't know what lie you were told, but your father hired me to find you and bring you home. If you come peaceably then he won't press charges against the Rocklin's' for kidnapping," Mr. Lyleton said.

Alex moved mechanically through the house, feeling as if someone had hit her in the head. It was one thing to be told she was adopted and her father and mother were dead. It was another thing entirely to be told that her father was still alive and hired a detective to find her. Alex packed a small valise with her two extra dresses and a pair of boy's clothing that she wore when she did chores.

Alex slipped into her blue coat and went downstairs. Her mama and pa were talking to Mr. Lyleton. "Mr. Shaw also told me that he'd prefer that you don't make any contact with his daughter if I found her. He is right. She is his daughter and you have no claims to her. If you contact her or make an attempt to see her you will be charged with kidnapping and violating the restraining order that is in effect starting right now. Miss Shaw, I believe we should go," Mr. Lyleton said in a brusque no-nonsense voice.

Alex felt tears slip out of her eyes as she hugged her mother tightly. "Behave yourself. I love you," Mama whispered in her ear softly.

"I love you too, Mama. I'll try to come back. I promise," Alex said as she kissed her mother's wet cheek and hugged her father tightly. She walked quickly toward the buggy and looked blindly at the red dirt road. She wondered if she would ever see Red Clay again. She hoped she didn't get miserably homesick for the red earth. She hoped her father let her come back to visit.

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Alexandra looked around at the mansion in front of her. She had only seen houses this big in history books or the house in her memory; which Mr. Lyleton said was her father's house that she was looking at now. She was willing to bet the house had secret places and a ghost.

Most houses this big had one or the other. Her real father, John Shaw, had to be ostentatious to live in a place like this. No one would be this wasteful with money unless they had a good reason. Since Pa had been the one to have stolen her when she was small she had lived in less than gaudy accommodations.

Mr. Lyleton knocked on the huge oak door and rang a bell that sounded somewhere in the house. A tall, slim black girl answered it. "May I help you, Sir?" The girl asked. She had to be 5 or 6 years older than Alex.

"I'm looking for Mr. John Shaw," the detective said in a businesslike tone.

"He ain't here, Sir. Mr. John has gone to Europe for the summer," the girl said apologetically as she looked briefly at Alex.

"I see. Well, Mr. Shaw hired me to look for his daughter, Alexandra Shaw. This girl right here," Mr. Lyleton said, shoving Alex forward. The black girl gasped visibly as she looked into Alex's dark eyes.

"Y'all come on in. Mr. Bond would wanna see her," the girl said in a shaky voice. She led them into the house and into an expansive parlor that had objects in it that probably cost more than the land in Red Clay. Alex's house could have fit in her father's parlor.

Alex's dark eyes took in everything as they looked around. Yep, John Shaw was definitely rich. Alex didn't know if she could handle this house and someone this rich.

A balding man with spectacles came into the parlor followed by a black woman that Alex guessed to be the housekeeper. "May I help you, Sir?" The man asked, looking first at Alex and then Mr. Lyleton.

"I am Theodore Lyleton. Mr. John Shaw hired me a month ago to find his 11-year-old daughter, Alexandra Talitha Shaw," Mr. Lyleton said, pushing Alex forward.

"I'm Jason Bond; the estate keeper. I'm afraid Mr. John is not here. He's gone to Europe for the summer. He did tell me that he hired you to find Miss Alexandra," Mr. Bond said, looking at Alex/

Alex felt as if she were in a glass jar as the man and woman looked at her. The woman's dark eyes glistened as her eyes met hers. "It's her! I'd know this child anywhere. I was the one who took care of her after her poor, sweet mama died," the woman said, taking Alex in her arms and hugging her so tight that Alex could hardly breathe.

"She does have the shape of her mother's face and her stature, but you have your father's hair color and your Indian grandmother's eyes. You look a lot like your father when he was 11," Mr. Bond said, cocking his head.

"So I take it this is her?" Mr. Lyleton said, reminding everyone that he was even in the room.

"Yes, Mr. Lyleton. Mr. John told me that if you came by that I was to pay you whether you found her our not for your time," Mr. Bond said, walking to an ornate paneled desk and taking out a huge wad of bills.

After paying the detective and he left Mr. Bond and the woman looked at Alex in awkward silence.

"So when is he coming back?" Alex asked, her voice sounding hollow. For some reason she couldn't call John Shaw "Father" or what she called him before she was kidnapped.

"Your papa didn't tell us. He'll be back before fall, but we don't know when," the woman said apologetically as she stroked Alex's hair as if it belonged to her.

"I think the first thing you need is a bath, Miss Alexandra. Then, Aunt Lou, we need to feed her and get her some new clothes. Unless you want to take a nap first before you eat?" Mr. Bond asked.

"I am a little tired. It's quite a ways from Red Clay, Tennessee to here," Alex admitted, trying to stifle a yawn and rubbing her eyes.

"I think a bath and a nap would be first, Mr. Jason," Aunt Lou said, taking Alex by the shoulders.

"Very well. I'll see you for dinner, Miss Alexandra," Mr. Bond said as Aunt Lou led her out of the parlor.

"Now we'll get you upstairs and into the bathtub and then into bed, Miss Alexandra," Aunt Lou said as they walked upstairs.

"You don't have to call me by my full name, Ma'am. Most folks call me Alex for short since my name is so long," Alex said shyly.

"Alex? Mr. John might have something to say about that. He gave you your name. He may not agree with you having that name," Aunt Lou said as she led Alex to a room that had green and gold silk walls and a white wadded silk quilt.

"Is this my room?" Alex asked in amazement as she stared at all the elaborate furnishings.

"It is. Your father moved you in here when you got too big for the nursery when you were two. Now the bathroom is over there. I'll send Liza in here to help you wash your hair," Aunt Lou said, touching Alex's hair gently.

Alex sat down on a flowered silk chair and fell asleep in a matter of minutes. She would have stayed like that if the young girl who had answered the door didn't come in and wake her up.

"Miss Alexandra, time to wake up," Liza said, touching Alex's thin shoulder. Alex groaned and blinked her eyes.

"I'm sorry, Miss. But we gotta get you all clean and into the bed. Then you can sleep," Liza apologized with a smile.

"Liza, I'd just as soon go to sleep," Alex said as Liza took her into an ornate room that had a huge basin full of water that was big enough for a person to get in. Alex undressed and got into the warm water. The water and bubbles in the tub was warm and soft and felt like the silk chair she had just gotten up from. The smell of the water and bubbles was like the lavender sachets her mother made and put in the bureaus at home.

Liza carefully washed Alex's hair and the bath was finished in no time at all. Before Alex knew it she was wearing a comfortable silk robe that Liza said Mr. John had put in here. It had belonged to Alex's mother and he hadn't been able to get rid of it. Liza had her in front of the vanity as she combed out Alex's brown hair and dried it.

"There! No you can sleep," Liza said turning down the quilt and sheets. Alex laid down and was asleep before her head even hit the pillow. Liza covered her and quietly tiptoed out of the room.