Passing by the lone horse man wearing a grey colored uniform galloping at speeds so dangerous that one wrong turn could land in a grave six feet under with scratches and marks displaying how nasty the fall was. Going so fast that no sound but a bullet being fired could catch up with the horse and rider, the wind flew by, it's chill causing the rider to snuggle further into the coat wrapped around there figure but still didn't heed off the cold enough to make the rider safe from hyperthermia.

The rider rounded corner after corner, dodging tree after tree, solider after soldier, set on one fact, get the orders to the lead officer of the 51st battalion. Hands' shaking from exhaustion the rider tightens the hold on the reigns making sure to keep the horse in control as yells and shouts echoed in the forest.

Deep shallow breaths filling the rider's lungs as fear crept up from the cold toes to blurry eyes. A camp began to form in the distance causing a faint smile to tug at delicate features, nudging the horse to go faster trying hard to get to the camp before day light swept over the planet giving new hope to those waking for the first time and seeing the beauty of the land that was slowly rioting from the war.

Finally the horse slowed, trotting through the camp, making sure not to hit tents or soldiers sitting in front of fires in front of the tents. Two soldiers halted the rider who slipped from the saddle, legs shaking a bit from lack of use, dirt covering every inch of the rider's pants.

"New from the president," the rider spoke with parched lips and tired limps.

The first soldier nodded stepping into the General's tents, moments ticked by before a man stepped out. His uniform pressed and clean showing how far he lived from the battle which was as far away as possible. White hair from old age decorating his brown locks that held firm under his squared perfect hat, "News?"

"Yes sir, General Heart" the rider handed over the satchel in which was guarded by the very life of its carrier.

General Michael Heart took the papers out of the satchel scanning his cold green eyes, dull from years of life, glancing up he sported a smile as wide as a canyon, "Good work soldier," he slapped the rider on the back, "This will help out indeed. Have your self a nights rest and good bath, you seem to be dressed in mud and not a uniform, hand it off to Major Nelton and he'll have it cleaned for you."

"Yes sir," the rider saluted before trudging through camp toward a stream located toward the back. Rubbing tired eyes and stretching tired muscles the rider groaned in pain but felt very proud that no one stopped the horse from carrying the message and the messenger to the camp.

On the walk man after man slapped the rider's back or yelled congratulations or a simple fake salute that in a way signaled their appreciation of the job well done. Smiling the rider walked the ten feet away from camp to the stream, hidden away from prying eyes.

Arms circled the rider from behind, warm soft breath caressed the back of the rider's neck, a warm smile played on pale lips, "Took you long enough," a sultry voice filtered in causing a shiver to pass through every nerve.

"Yeah well," the rider couldn't think of much when turned around and met with velvet chocolate eyes and a brilliant smile.

"Well what soldier?" the woman asked with a smirk piercing her tanned and gorgeous features.

"I forgot," the rider whispered leaning forward to capture supple red lips that had only been seen in dreams for the past month. Tender fingers ran up toned arms to the cap settled on the rider's head, quickly taking the bill in her hand she flung the cap to the side, pulled away from the kiss and watched as silky blonde hair cascaded down past the rider's shoulders.

"I missed running my fingers through your perfect hair Spencer,"

"I have too Ashley," Spencer sighed caressing Ashley's cheek.

"Have you two lost your minds?" a gruff voice filtered into the dream world filtering around them. Turning they saw a eighteen year old man with golden blonde hair and stone hard blue green eyes that if looked at long enough gave way to a gentle loving soul wearing a blue uniform.

"What do you want Glen?" Spencer huffed in agitation at her older brother.

"Don't give him that attitude young lady," three more men wearing blue uniforms filled into the clearing.

"Sorry David,"

"We have to get going, if they find out you're a girl Spence things are going to go down hill quickly."

"As if we didn't know that Clay," Ashley replied toward the dark skinned boy as she threw her hand on her hip in anger.

"So we're in agreement, let's go!" David barked. Nodding the girls began to follow the eldest Carlin toward the horses they'd set up.

"What is this?"

Spencer spun around only to meet the ground as pain ripped through her leg and shoulder, "NOOOO!" Ashley dropped down scooping her lovers head into her lap watching blue eyes slid shut.


Fifteen year old Spencer Carlin splashed through the puddle in to big of a hurry to care if her trousers got drenched or not, she'd been out sitting in her favorite tree listening to the sound of the forest and soaking in the quietness which she seemed to never get at home. She'd actually fallen asleep for twenty minutes causing her to forget about being home for dinner, so now she was forced to run like a wild hog and hope to make it on time but she knew that no matter how fast she weaved through the forest she'd grew up playing in she wouldn't make it.

Huffing and wheezing she crashed through the trees into a large clearing, a log cabin sitting in the middle with a barn to the side and horses munching away on their dinner. She put on a burst of speed running on the newly grown grass of their ranch, she could see her third eldest brother leaning on a pillar holding up the awning over the built in porch, "You're late...again," he smirked.

"Shove it Glen," she brushed past him heading for her room but he caught her arm.

"David is going to be mad,"

At seventeen Glen Carlin had to be the most pig headed one out of the bunch, a momma's boy born and raised even with out a mother around, he had curly blonde hair and blue green eyes mixed from both their mother and father. Spencer and him hardly got along but mess with his little sister and he'll make sure you pay for touching a hair on her head, although self centered he was a very loyal big brother.

"Is he here?" she asked wide eyed not wanting to receive a whipping for being out so late.

"Nah, the fence broke when one of the horses went wild he's out fixing it now but you better get cleaned up before he comes in." Glen nodded toward her bedroom with a wink.

She shook her head with a smile and ran to her room which was considered the attic; the boys shared a room on the first floor, the only good thing about being an only girl, privacy. She quickly discarded her dirty trousers for a clean set, changed her red pull over for a white buttoned up shirt, brushed her hair and pulled it back in a pony tail. Walking to the side table she picked up the basin of water filling the bowl next to it, taking a rag she quickly washed her hands, under her finger nails and than her face. Looking in the mirror feeling satisfied that no one would be the wiser she let out a breath and headed down stairs to find her eldest brother twenty five year old David standing by the ladder leading to her room with his arms folded.

David Carlin took after his father from almost every trait and flaw. He had straight brown hair and magnificent green eyes that shone like emeralds glowing in the sun, his jaw was tensed and muscles bursting from all the labor he performed through out his life. After their father died five years ago David became the man of the house, the care giver to the family and he ruled with an iron fist but he was a gentle soul as well, a friend and brother to his siblings but over protective especially toward his only sister.

"Been out playing instead of doing your chores again Spencer?" he asked sternly.

"I got my things done, every last thing you asked me to do," she shot back stepped around him and sitting down next to Glen.

"You can at least stay around after wards and see if any of us need help," David growled never liking the fact his sister seemed to day dream more than work around the house and ranch.

"Tell that to Glen, I caught him sneaking off with Millie Rolland last month when he was suppose to be bailing hay."

"Don't be bring me in on this," Glen raised his hands.

"That's different..."

"...why cause he a man, that's bullshit David and you know it."

"Watch that pretty little mouth of yours kid," he sneered.

"Oh David leave her alone," the finally member of the Carlin clan walked in setting his hunting rival down in the corner.

Clay Carlin, dark skin brother, born from two slaves owned by their parents only Paula and Arthur Carlin treated them as equals as they couldn't understand owning another human being. Sure they had papers saying that Robert and Betty were legally theirs but the couple gave them a room, paid them a wage and were great friends up until some no good neighbor accused them of stealing cattle, no matter how much Arthur argued and fought to keep them safe in the end the two were hung. Betty pleaded with Paula to take Clay as one of them and they did, raising him along with their three children. He was now twenty one years old and the smartest of the three, some times he came off as the eldest, keeping everyone calm and collected.

"Why you always sticking up for her?" David whined but laid off his sister.

"Why you always bugging her?" Clay shot back sitting down after washing his hands; he had been out shooting rabbits and anything else they could use as food over the course of the weeks coming up.

"Cause its fun to watch her squirm," David finally smiled ruffling Spencer's hair causing her to pull out of reach, "Aw you know I'm just joshing with you Spence,"

"Yeah...yeah, you're always messin with me," she pouted making the three men laugh at her expense.

"Did you catch anything out there?" Glen put the rolls on the table; it was his turn to cook dinner so he was the last to sit down. The only thing he hated about cooking, last to start eating and he swore he was always more hungry than any of his siblings.

"Five rabbits and an elk got'em all in the barn we need to skin and gut them tomorrow morning before the flies get to them." He took a sip from his glass while chewing on the chicken in his mouth.

"I can do it," Spencer piped up, all eyes on her, "What?"

"Remember the last time you did it kid, hit the ground in less than five seconds." Clay laughed.

"It won't happen again," she assured.

"You scared of blood Spence, I can do it," David nudged her seeing the sad look on her face, "Hey don't be sad kid we all got something we hate."

"Yeah but you don't faint," she sighed. Since her mother's death she'd lived with five guys, her father and brothers, no one knew what to do with a girl so she was raised to be just as tough as any of the guys so when ever there was something that made her feel like a girl well it made her mad causing she wasn't a wimp by no means.

"True but remember when Glen saw that snake," David laughed.

"You would have done the same thing if you saw it," he pouted.

Clay rubbed his bald head staring at his brother, "I don't think we'd pee our breaches and I saw it and the thing was no bigger than my hand."

"The thing was huge and besides remember David's little episode with the spider."

This got the table howling in laughter except for David as everyone thought back to the high pitch girl scream the boy had let out as a spider crawled across the floor, Spencer had walked up and killed it much to her brother's relief.

"What about Clay?" David pointed not wanting to leave him out of all the fun, "He can't even talk to a girl..."

"...I talk to Spencer," he shot back not seeing how his inability to form sentences in front of females was funny.

"I ain't no girl I'm your sister," she laughed harder wiping tears from her eyes.

"Still a girl," he growled folding his arms and pouting. A knock at the door interrupted their good time.

David stood up walking by Clay patting his shoulder reassuringly before opening the door to reveal a soldier clad in a blue uniform, "Good evening Sir may I come in?"

Now the Carlin's knew not to leave a cold soldier out on the steps, their father had once been in the army and drilled it into them to be polite so David stepped aside letting the poor man in, "Can we get you a cup of coffee?"

"Yes please," the man smiled as he followed Glen to the fire place so he could warm up. Clay stood up and got down another cup feeling it with the hot liquid than handing it to the man, "Thank you son."

"You're welcome," he replied than walked away unsure if this man was as mean toward black folks as most others were.

"What brings you out here?" Glen wondered scooting a chair toward the tired man than taking a seat himself.

"The war has picked up and we need a few good soldiers, I'm one of many scouting the area letting men know where to sign up."

"War?" Clay spoke nervously, as far as the Carlin's knew no war was going on.

"Yep, President Lincoln himself declared your kind free but the south don't see it like that so us north's are fighting on your behave to rid the world of slaves once and for all. Lincoln even has a black regiment set up, you work for us for six months and you're a free man."

"I'm already a free man," Clay stated proudly.

"Is that so," the man chuckled, "Glad to hear this ain't no slave loving family."

"Where can we sign up?" Spencer asked ready to fight for her brother's freedom everywhere as well as other's who were being mistreated.

The man laughed heartily, "Sorry little lady only men are allowed to join but why would you want to ruin those perfect little hands on grunt work?"

"Listen here you Buzzard..." before she could say anything more Glen clamped a hand on her mouth.

"Don't mind her," he pulled her away whispering in her ear.

"Right so what does this have to do with us?" David wondered, usually the army didn't recruit ranchers of their status.

"You do know that your past due on payment sir don't you," the man smirked evilly.

"So you saying if we don't sign up we lose our home?" He growled setting his cup down hard making the liquid slosh over a bit.

"I'm not saying that sir just that you might want to think where your loyalties lie is all, that boy there will be captured and sold if the south gets here." The man got up and thanked them than left.

The four of them sat around discussing the war. In the end it was decided Glen and David would go off and fight while Spencer and Clay stayed home to take care of the ranch. Which would have been alright if two days later their ranch wasn't burned down by lightening, now with no where to go Spencer and Clay were to sign up along with their brothers the next day.