Chapter 1

It would be three years before chaos erupted in the form of a civil war. The tension between the North and the South grew ever more rapidly. This, of course, did not mean that people were not allowed to have a good ole time. Not too many people believed there would actually be a war to break out. One side fighting for their country, the other side fighting for their way of life and their life in general. In the years to come they never actually really understood what they were getting themselves into.

Down by a riverbank, in Hatten Willows, Virginia, sat two of the dandiest pair. Francis Clay Mosby and Laura Amelia Daniels were inseparable. Clay was the son of a rich plantation owner named Lawrence. Laura was the daughter of Jack Daniels, another plantation owner with a special eye for whiskey. He also had a knack for medicine. Whenever the doctor was out of town he would fill in for him. They had a bit of a strange friendship. Because she was never allowed a pet, other than her horse Lady, Clay let her think of him as her pet. She even gave him a nickname, Ringo. He mused that it sounded like a raccoon's name.

That day Laura had just turn fifteen. Other girls her age were busy getting married and having babies. Both of their parents' agreed they'd see what happened between the two. They figured they would get married; but that's another story. The two had set out for the creak at dawn to celebrate alone before her party later that night. The red head laughed as she stuck her feet in the water. She sat on some rocks a bit higher than the stream. She smirked, kicking water at the brunette. Clay laughed, shaking his head to get the water off.

"When did celebrating your birthday mean getting wet?" He asked, taking his shoes and rolling up his pants before sitting next to her.

"Since now and we have to do anything I want," Laura said grinning.

"And what do you want?" He asked as he put his arm around her shoulders.

"Hmm…" She said trying to think of something. She leaned her head on his shoulder, which led him to lay his head on hers. "I don't know. It's just nice like this."

Clay smiled, pushing some of her curls behind her ear. He kissed her forehead. "That is perfectly fine with me. We haven't been together like this in… well, a while."

Laura looked up at him and laughed. "Well, maybe if you would take a little break from your chores now and then we could."

"You know just how to make me feel guilty," he said, placing his hands on either of her cheeks, making her look at him. He leaned down as if he was going to give her a kiss, but instead he kissed the tip of her nose.

She smirked, watching him. "What kind of birthday present is that?" she asked. Before he could he retaliate, Laura leaned up and kissed him passionately.

It was now thirteen years since Laura had seen or heard from Clay Mosby. Laura had searched for him all those years. She had never given up on the hope of finding him. There were so many things that were left unsaid. She yearned to see him. She couldn't help but die a little every day they were apart.

Now with a rumor that Clay was in a town called Curtis Wells, she rode from Miles City in the middle of the rain. Little did she know how much her little Ringo had changed from her "petit chouchou." When she had finally reached town, she had found her way to the livery and dismounted. She grabbed her saddlebag and moved her pet from sitting on top of the saddle to her shoulder. The little pet was a raccoon. It had its head in her hair and under her hat. She let the man that worked in the livery take her horse. She paid him a dollar and then went on her way to the hotel to get settled. The lady at the front desk was happy to show her to her room. Laura thanked her and then went inside. The raccoon jumped from her shoulder and landed on the bed. She set her saddle back on the trunk in front of the bed. She walked over to the mirror to check her appearance. She didn't want to see Clay again looking like a cat that just got out of a bath. Of course, if she was going to see him she wanted him to recognize her. She didn't want to have to tell him who she was. She was a bit frightened to see him. If he didn't recognize her, she just might die.

Once she was ready she opened the door to leave, the raccoon headed out before her. "Ringo," she said, shutting the door and hurrying after him. He stopped and looked up at her innocently. She gave him a look, which could only say bad-boy, as she picked him up. She carried him down the stairs and out the door. She looked over to where the Ambrosia Club was. She would have to hurry if she didn't want to get very wet. Once she had crossed the street, she stepped up the stairs to go in when someone came out. Ringo jumped from her arms and darted in. She sighed, letting the person pass, before coming in and stopping. She looked around to try and find her raccoon.

Just as the door had opened, Clay Mosby had been taking out his shiny gold watch to check the time. Before he could even open it, it was snatched out of his hands from a pesky little raccoon. He looked at it quickly. He tried to make a grab for it but the raccoon was too quick. He had begun to run back to the safety of his owner. Clay ran after it quickly. He had to stop hastily because the raccoon had jumped into someone's arms. He looked up at the owner. He at first didn't realize he was looking at a woman because the hat was pulled down low and her hair had been hid under her hat.

"Petit Ringo méchant." (Naughty little Ringo.) Laura scolded at the raccoon in her arm. She picked the watch from its paws. She looked up at the owner of the watch but stopped.

Clay did was glaring down at the animal. When she said something he asked, "What?" He loved hearing French but sometimes he did not understand it. He looked at the lady once more.

She hesitated before saying. "I said 'naughty little Ringo'," she said before handing the watch over. "I believe that's yours," she said smiling at him. She took off her rather wet hat, letting her curls fall to her shoulders, framing her face. "I'm sorry. He likes shiny things."

Clay nodded, putting the watch in his pocket. "I see." He looked at her. Somewhere in the back of his mind she looked familiar; but that was very far back. "It's all right. I don't think I have seen you around here before. I'm Clay Mosby," he said smiling, holding out his hand. He added, "The most prominent citizen of Curtis Wells."

Laura smiled at him. Apparently, he doesn't remember me, She thought. "Amelia Adams. You can call me Amy if you prefer," she said, taking his hand and shaking it.

"Amelia. That's a beautiful name," he said smiling his dashing and yet dangerous smile. "Let me guess, French?"

She nodded. "Yes, but only half. My mother taught me the language. She tried to teach my father but he failed miserably," she said, smiling sweetly.

Clay nodded. "That is such a beautiful language. I love listening to it but sometimes I just don't understand what they are saying," he said laughing lightly. "Oh, how rude of me. How about I get you a drink."

"Well, thank you," she said smiling. "Sounds like a warm welcome to me." She followed him over to the bar, setting her hat on the counter. Clay got two shot glasses and some of his favorite whiskey. He poured both of them a shot and slid Laura's to her. She took it but didn't drink it just yet. "So you're allowed behind the bar?" she asked. She didn't want to make it seem like she knew about him.

"Well, I would hope so. I am the owner," he said smiling at her. He raised the glass to his lip and drank the burning liquid quickly, but not so quickly that he couldn't enjoy the taste. She took her turn drinking the liquid. It tasted a bit watered down. She preferred her father's whiskey. He watched her. Even if the whiskey was watered down, he had not seen a woman, besides Mattie, that could drink whiskey in one gulp in a very long time. He couldn't help but smile a bit more.

"What?" Laura, or Amelia, asked when she noticed him watching her. "Never seen a girl drink before?" she asked.

"Oh no. It's not that… just not many woman can drink whiskey that quickly," he explained.

She nodded. "I understand. You know, you don't sound like you're from around here."

He chuckled. "No, I'm not. I'm from Hatten Willows, Virginia. It is near Richmond… well it used to be at least." He couldn't help but sigh at that name. He missed the days in Hatten Willows. That was a much better time. He looked away from the counter and to her. "What about you? You don't sound like you are from here either."

"Richmond," she replied simply. "But that was in a different time," she said with a nod. "What made you leave?" she asked.

Clay thought for a moment, "The war. At first then I came back after it and everything that was there was gone. I just went on my way. What about you?"

"It hurt too much to be there after the war. It was supposed to be over in a month. When it turned into a year I went to find a friend. I never could find him. Then when I went home just before the war was over, a lot of my friends had been murdered there… So my father and I moved to Denver," she said.

"I'm sorry," he apologized.

"It's fine. It's not your fault," she said shaking her head.

He nodded. His story sounded similar to hers. "Who were you looking for?" he asked.

"A friend…someone I really loved," she said watching him. "He was a great man. He always knew how to cheer me up, take my mind off things, and just how to treat me."

"He sounds great," he said smiling, pouring her another shot. "Did you at least ever find out what happened to him?"

"I heard he was in a union prison camp where it was said he died," she said with a nod.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I know what it's like to be in one of those," he said with a sigh. "They were the worst things about the war."

She watched him. She could only imagine what happened to him while he was in one of those camps. They were more like torture camps. The soldiers wanted to hurt you just for not thinking like them. "I can only imagine," she said, then paused. "How did you end up here?" she asked.

"I'm not actually sure," he said laughing softly. "I just found it while traveling," he said. Actually he had found it for a few other reasons. But no reason to tell a complete stranger that he had come there to rob the bank.

She nodded. "Well, it must be nice, to have you settling here," she said grinning, "It seems a bit small though. I imagine you being a more of a big city person."

"Oh, well, I don't think it will stay this small for much longer. I know the train will come to this city soon enough. I'm hoping this town will become the new Atlantac," Clay said, thinking about what that town could be.

"It seems you have high hopes for this town," Laura smiled. "I hope it's not putting a hole in your pocket." She knew it wouldn't be though. He had always had money; more over he knew how to get it very easily.

He laughed and shook his head. It wasn't a burden at all. In fact, he was receiving more than he was spending. "Not exactly," he said. How would he explain how he ruled that little town like it was his own personal dominion.

"I see." She continued, "So what is there to do here?"

"Plenty. You can always gamble in my little saloon. You could go to the Opera House or the Sporting Club; but I doubt you would be interested in it," he said, thinking a bit more. "I suppose there is not much to do unless you're working or shopping," he mused and smiled at her. "Do you plan on staying?" he asked her then added. "Curtis Wells would be lucky in having you."

Laura smiled and nodded, "I suppose I could stick around. I've been looking for a nice place to settle."

"What do you plan on doing here?" Mosby asked, continuing to watch her. He could think of a few things he'd like to do with her.

"Well, in other towns I'm known for treating wounds or being a midwife or such things," she said with a shrug. "Then again I could always buy a store and do something different for a change."

"I would suggest buy a store," he said. He explained. "We already have a doctor in town."

Laura nodded, "Have you ever asked what is in that medicine that doctor gives you? It's more like poisoning you than helping you. I use a great deal of herbs and a bit of whiskey."

"Oh, well, tell me if I can supply you with any whiskey," he said with a smile.

"No, that won't be necessary," she said, before elaborating. "I have my own supply that I get for free."

"And how do you achieve that?" he questioned.

"I know the owner," she said. Not exactly telling the truth, she not only knew the owner but was his daughter.

"I see. What Whiskey?" he asked, watching her with interest. Maybe he could get some discounted whiskey to sell; even if it wasn't exactly as good as his favorite Scotch Whiskey.

"Jack Daniels," she said simply.

Some how that name rung a bell, but Clay didn't connect the dots just yet. "Really? I might have heard of it. Do you think the owner would give your special friends discounts?" he asked slyly.

"He may, but you would have to be very special," she said, smiling. She knew exactly what he was trying to do. "I have a bottle in my room," she said, meaning he could come up and share a few glasses.

He grinned at the invitation. "Your image wouldn't be tarnished if I accompanied you to your room?" he asked, wondering if she was the type of girl that only wanted to be seen with one type of person and have relations with others behind closed doors.

Laura shook her head. "Why would it be tarnished?" she asked grinning. "I would like to spend a bit more time with you."

"Well, we can go now if you would like." He offered, holding out his arm for her. She took it and put her hat on. They walked out the door and into the rain. Ringo once more hid his head under the brim of her hat.

"Have you ever tried Jack Daniels?" she asked looking at him with a smile.

He shook his head, "I can't say I have." They were about half way across the muddy street when they slipped. Ringo came tumbling down, landing in her hat a few feet away. Laura, on the other hand, landed in the mud, looking up into the face of Clay.

She smirked, looking up at the dashing young man. She joked, "I suppose this means you like it on the top."

Clay was already blushing, looking down at her. He hadn't expected that at all. He quickly got off of her, holding out his hand to help her up. "Well, yes actually I do like it there," he answered, pulling her up.

"Well, that is a fact I need to remember," she said. They dusted themselves off. Laura leaned down and picked up Ringo and her hat.

A/N: Hey guys thank you so much for taking the time to read this. Please review I'm already half way done with the second cpater. Thanks again!