" Jaime Younger, you will not take one more step out of this house" my twin brother Jim boomed at me as I had attempted to sneak out the back door. With a grimace I turned around to face him.

"And just what else do I need to do to gain my freedom Mr. James?" I inquired of him, trying to keep a quizzical look on my face.

"Well missy I reckon a brother deserves a goodbye kiss from his devoted sister before she goes off to break the rules." Laughing, I rushed over to him and swiftly pecked him on the cheek as he wrapped his arms around me in a quick hug before spinning me back towards the door.

"Enjoy that horse," he called after me as I leapt off the porch steps. "before Cole comes home to discover you tamed his beloved beast and tans your hide." Still chuckling I entered our barn, taking in a deep breath that smelled of the sweet sun-ripened hay. Jim was right about Jett, my horse. He wasn't my horse at all, he belonged to my oldest brother Cole. Cole and Bob, my other older brother, had been gone the past four years fighting in the Civil War. When they left I was only thirteen and a little snippet of a cricket as he used to call me. He made me swear not to touch his new possession, an ebony black thoroughbred foal he named Jett and promised to break him when he got back.

I tried to be good to my word but my love for horses is almost equal to the love I have for my family and Jett was a diamond in the rough. I also grew quite a bit in their absence, shirking my girlish gawk for slender womanly curves, long rich brown hair and big golden eyes. Jim had taken to teasing me that if I wasn't such a tomboy, I might actually be attractive to men. But I preferred the company of horses, so instead of pursuing beau's as every other girl I knew had begun to do, I set my sights on Jet, and making him mine. It took a long time for me to break him but at last I had succeeded and every morning now I would take him out and we would fly like the wind through the prairie bluffs. I treasured each morning I had with Jett because news of the end of the war had finally reached our little town of Liberty and Cole would be coming home to us soon.

"Come on baby" I whispered to the horse as I slipped the bridal over his warm black face. "Lets go meet the morning again." With an excited whinny from Jett, we cantered out of the barn and up the dirt road. I refused to ride side-saddle, no self-respecting rider did. Instead I hitched up my skirts and let them blow in the wind, displaying my bloomers for all the world to see. I rarely ran into folks out on the prairie so it was never much of a problem. Once we reached to endless rolls of the Plain Land I laid down on Jett's neck and undid the bridal from his head. Wrapping it around my saddle horn I grabbed two handfuls of his thick black mane I let out a whoop and instantly Jett started to fly. We sailed through the high grass, and I let Jett choose where to go, he knew the best places to run and turn and all I did was hang on and enjoy the ride.

We had been flying free for most of the morning when I noticed five figures on the horizon. Curious as to who else could be out here I steered Jett towards them with my knees, and we quickly galloped over to meet the group. Coming upon them I noticed that the lead rider was an Indian, the other four were white, and all seemed to be exhausted. Covered in dust and mud from days of travel, even the horses seemed to be walking dead.

"Hello there." I said to them as I slipped off of Jett's back even with out his bridal, he followed me, keeping his muzzle right next to my shoulder. "Where y'all from?"

The riders had slowed down and were about ten yards from me now, the sun shone down on them so I couldn't make out what they looked like. That made me a bit nervous, Cole had always said you could tell the make of a man by looking in his eyes, but from here I couldn't see any details on these men especially their eyes.

"Could you point us towards Liberty?" Said one of the weary voices. "Storm last night rustled up everything in these parts and I can't tell hide form hare where we are."

"Well Liberty's just about four miles yonder." I pointed over to the east. "It's my hometown." Someone stirred in their saddle as I said these last words.

"You say you're from Liberty?" Came another voice, a bit more eager this time.

"Yes sir I am lived their all my life." With that I heard two bodies sliding down the sides of saddles and was quickly approached by the two white men. I stepped back, pressing myself into Jett's chest, startled. All of them were skinny and dirty and hadn't bathed or shaved in ages by the look of it. But the bright eyes of one of them caught my eye and I gasped.

"Cole?" I whispered daring to believe it was true. The one I addressed looked down at me and through the stubble and dirt I saw a familiar smile cover his face.

"Lil' Jaime? Is that you?" He inquired back. With an overjoyed scream I jumped into my brother's arms and sobbed into his shoulder.

"It's really you, I thought I'd never see you again!" I wailed into his shirt. He had wrapped his strong arms around me and lifted me off the ground spinning in circles. I could hear a muffled sigh from him and knew he was also crying.

"I never thought I'd live to see my baby sister again." He said as he set me down and wiped the tears out of his eyes.

"Oh come on Cole, I'm not your baby any more, I've grown up." I said, trying to stand a bit taller.

"Good Lord you have, its no wonder I didn't recognize you when you rode up." He said as he looked me over, his eyes then roved onto Jett. I felt my heart lurch as he finally realized who I was riding, but I had no time to respond because right then the other man had grabbed me up into another bear hug.

"Bob!?!" I squealed as I latched onto my other brother. "Oh lord how I've missed you!" Bob was also crying a bit but he was laughing as well, Bob was always the most optimistic of our family always joking and laughing. He too set me down and looked me over.

"Glory be, Jaime you're all growed up!" He exclaimed as he had me spin around. "And what a beauty, you remind me of Ma." Smiling deeply at this compliment I looked up at the other three men who had stayed on their horses.

"Hello Jaime" said the oldest of the white men

"Hello Frank" I said as I recognized Frank James.

" Jaime, this here is our friend Tom, and Indian we met in the war, and I'm sure you remember my brother Jesse." He said pointed out the Indian who nodded at me and then pointed to the dark eyed man sitting the farthest away.

"Lovely to meet you Tom." I said, a bit more formally than I had with the others and gave a bit of a curtsy. Then I looked over into those dark eyes, and quickly dropped my gaze to the ground becoming quickly aware of my uncombed hair and grubby hands.

"Of course I remember Jesse, hello."

"Hey" he responded. Even through the exhaustion and grime I could see that Jesse had grown into a handsome young man, with those dark eyes that seemed to capture me. I tried to shake off the feeling, I was a tomboy, not one of the giggly town girls who melted at every pair of eyes that met hers, and I'm sure that's the type Jesse would prefer to someone as untamed as me.

"Hey Jaime, we have to go talk to Doc Mimms, will you be a sweetheart and ride over to the James' land and let their Ma know that her boys are alive and we'll be home soon?" Bob asked me as he headed back to his horse.

"Yes sir, I'll go grab Jimmy and we'll meet you there." I told him, he smiled at me and swung back up onto his horse. Cole passed by me and grabbed me up in another hug.

"And we'll talk about the horse then too young lady." He added in a whisper as he set me down and mounted his steed. They galloped off without another word. My stomach flipped at his words but my joy at having my brother's home was still to great. He couldn't be that mad at me, I had taken great care of Jett, I told myself. Shaking of my anxiety and jumped onto Jett's back.

"Let's go home boy and tell Jimmy the good news." I said to him, and without a hesitation Jett set off back to our farm.