CHAPTER ONE

“Mama…Mama!” Jamie was so mad. “Those boys don’t know nothin'. Mama will set them straight. Mama, are you here?”

“Jamie, what’s going on? How many times have I told you not to yell in the house?” Lou couldn’t believe how much Jamie was like her. No one else seemed very surprised though. Jamilah Elizabeth McCloud was quite the tomboy, but Lou wouldn’t change a thing. Like mother, like daughter. “Now what’s wrong? How was school?”

“That dumb Davey Matthews said that you never rode for the Pony Express cuz they didn’t let girls work for them. He said that you was just joshin me about it.” Jamie was almost in tears as she told her mother about her tormentors.

“Why do you let him get to you Jamie? You come home cryin about him at least once a week. You’ve got to just ignore him. I know it’s hard, but he’s just trying to upset you.” Lou was getting tired of hearing a different version of the same story every week.

“But Mama, if you tell them that you really did ride for the express, they’ll leave me alone.” Jamie didn’t doubt her mother could fix any problem. If only she’d just set Davey Matthews straight once and for all.

“I’ll take care of it when I get back. I have to leave tomorrow to pick up Auntie Theresa, so you’re gonna be staying with Grandpa Teaspoon and Grandma Rachel. I want you to be on your best behavior. I should be back in about a week.” Lou hated to leave Jamie for that long, but she really needed to be in school. Hopefully, she wouldn’t cause too many problems for Rachel and Teaspoon.

“Alright Mama. I’ll be good, I promise.”




Things hadn’t been the same for Kid since he left the Pony Express. After Lou turned down his proposal, he had to leave. He just couldn’t be there knowing that she didn’t want him. He headed back to Virginia for a while. While there, he found one of his father’s brothers. He didn’t like to think about what had happened after he had met his uncle. He could hardly live with himself because of the things he had done. The only good thing that had happened was he now had a son. Claire had been so different when he met her. He knew she couldn’t compare to Lou, but he had realized he’d never feel for anyone what he had felt for Lou. After Claire was gone, he found himself drawn to Rock Creek. When he bought his land, he made sure he was far enough from town that he couldn’t run into Lou. Even after all these years, he’d never gotten over her.

“Pa? Pa, are you home?” Davey couldn’t wait to tell his pa what happened at school. He’d gotten that Jamie McCloud good today.

“How was school?” Kid was still amazed that he had a child. David was the best thing that came from his marriage to Claire. One of the only good things.

“I got that dumb Jamie McCloud good today. She’s always talking about how her Ma used to ride for the Pony Express and I know that ain’t true since they didn’t let no girls ride.” Kid’s couldn’t believe that Lou had a child. He’d written Rachel ever since he had left Sweetwater, but she never told him that Lou had a child. It bothered him to think of her with another man, but he realized that she would’ve moved on. She couldn’t wait for him forever. “You didn’t ride with no girls did ya Pa?”

“How many times do I have to tell you to be nice to that little girl? You shouldn’t pick on her so much.” Kid had been hearing about how Davey had “gotten” Jamie for months. Today was the first time he’d ever heard her last name though.

“But Pa, she things she’s a big shot because Miss Hunter is her grandma.”

“I just want you to try and be a little nicer to her, alright. She might just turn out to be someone you could really be close friends with. Now get your chores done and we’ll have dinner.”




“Be good Jamie. Auntie Theresa and I will be back in a few days.”

“Bye Ma.” Jamie would miss her Ma, but she loved getting to stay with her grandparents. Grandpa Teaspoon had the funniest stories. Ones that Ma never told her. Besides if Davey Matthews bothered her, Grandpa would take care of him.

“Well cutie, we better head to school.” Lou had told Rachel about the troubles that Jamie had been having with Davey Matthews. Hopefully, they would have no problems with the youngsters this week.

“Alright Grandma. Bye Grandpa.” Teaspoon watched the girls head out. He wondered if Kid would be coming to town for supplies today. He’d only come in a couple of times since he had moved back. He made Teaspoon promise not to tell Lou that he was back in town. Teaspoon couldn’t understand why, but he had a feeling it had to do with whatever had happened in Virginia. Kid hadn’t talked much about it, but Teaspoon could tell that it wasn’t good.




Kid decided to take Davey to school so he could pick up some supplies. He made sure he went to town only once a week. He didn’t want to run into Lou. He knew he should talk to her, but he wasn’t ready. Rachel had told him how badly she’d been hurt when he left. He would usually stay in town until school let out and today was no different. Teaspoon wasn’t surprised to see Kid headed up to the house.

“Mornin’ Kid. How have you been?”

“Well, I’m not quite sure about that. Davey came home the other night talking about how he’d been teasing a little girl by the name of Jamie McCloud. Is that Lou’s daughter?”

“She sure is. Just like her Mama that one is. She’s gonna have us tearing our hair out before too long, not that she doesn’t already.” Teaspoon chuckled at some of Jamie’s past antics. That little girl sure could get into some trouble.

“Why didn’t anyone tell me Lou had a child? Where’s her father?”

“Lou made all of us promise that we wouldn’t say anything to anyone and she made sure to include you in that.” Teaspoon wanted to tell Kid the truth, but he knew Lou would kill him. “I wish I could tell you where her father is, but I can’t. Lou’s keeping that a secret herself. You know, Kid, maybe its time you let her know that you’re back. I know she still loves you.”

“I can’t Teaspoon. I just can’t. How can I explain why I left and what I did while I was gone? It’s too terrible. I don’t think she could forgive me.” Kid was so ashamed of everything he’d done while he worked for his uncle. It would haunt him for the rest of his days.

“Just think about it Kid. She might surprise you.”




The week passed without incident. Rachel and Teaspoon were relieved that Jamie had stayed out of trouble. Everyone knew that it couldn’t last though. Lou and Theresa were telling Teaspoon all about their trip, when Jamie burst into the house in tears.

“Jamilah, what’s wrong?” School wasn’t going to be out for another hour so Lou was very surprised to see her daughter home.

“Davey Matthews hit me!” Jamie cried. She was covered in dirt and had the start of a nice shiner.

“He HIT you?!” Lou couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “I’ll take care of this. We’re going to go have a talk with his parents. C’mon Jamie. Teaspoon, do you know where the Matthews live?”

“Sure do Lou. Want me to show you?” Teaspoon wanted to be there to see the sparks fly. Kid was going to get the surprise of his life.

“Yes please, let’s go”




Davey knew he was in big trouble when he got home. His Pa had taught him that you never hit a girl. Jamie had it coming though. She was bragging about her Ma and her grandparents and how she knew Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok. He got so frustrated he swung at her before he thought about it. He felt terrible when he saw Jamie lying in the dirt. She got up and ran home before he could say anything to her. He didn’t even go back to school; he just started walking home. He’d have to explain himself and Pa always said you should think about things before you do them.

Kid couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Davey walk into the barn. “What are you doing home? Did school let out early?”

“No Pa. I done something terrible. I gotta be punished. I’m goin to my room to wait for you to finish what yer doin.” Kid couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He watched his son walk to the house then hurried to finish up the chores. It must be really bad for Davey to walk home from school. His son met him at the door. “Pa, I hit a girl.” Davey started to cry as he told his Pa what he’d done.

“Why would you do a thing like that?” Kid pulled Davey into his arms to comfort him. “You know that you’re NEVER supposed to hit a girl.” Kid didn’t want to be too hard on Davey, but he had hoped that the one thing his son had learned was that hitting girls was wrong.

“I know Pa. She just made me so mad and I didn’t think like you always…” Davey was interrupted by a loud knock at the door. “I’ll get that Pa.”

Lou couldn’t wait to let loose on Mr. Matthews. Teaspoon had told her that Mrs. Matthews had died, so she had to rethink what she wanted to say so she could get her point across. Nothing could’ve prepared her for what she saw when the door opened. It was a miniature Kid. Same eyes, same hair, same everything.

CHAPTER TWO

“That’s him Mama. That’s Davey Matthews.” Jamie couldn’t wait for her Mama to start yelling. She knew that Davey and his Pa would think twice about messing with the McClouds.

Lou tried to talk, but nothing came out. What was Kid doing back in Rock Creek and why had no one told her? Teaspoon had to have known that Kid was here. He’d led her right to Kid’s place. She didn’t know how she’d face him.

“Davey, who’s there?” Kid was shocked when he got to the door. Standing in the doorway was the only woman he’d ever really loved. Why couldn’t Davey have hit someone else’s daughter? He should’ve known it was Jamie though. The way those two had been picking at each other the past few weeks, it was to be expected. And Lou being the way she was there was no chance of this confrontation not happening.

“Hello Lou. How’ve you been?” Kid was so nervous. He scrambled to think of something to say, but nothing came to him.

“Fine Kid and yourself?” Lou couldn’t believe that Kid was standing in front of her. When he left, she had thought her world was crashing around her. She cried for days. The only thing that kept her going some days was the fact that she was going to have his baby. She hadn’t even gotten the chance to tell him before he left. After she’d turned down his proposal, he snuck out during the night. The note he left didn’t make her feel any better. No one else knew that she had saved that note. For six years, that had been the only way she could be near to him. She had always hoped that he would come back to her, but as the years passed, she began to believe that it wouldn’t happen. Rachel had told her that Kid was writing, but wouldn’t share the letters, liked to tell her they would make moving on so much harder. Now he was in front of her and she couldn’t remember what she was mad about.

“C’mon kids, let’s leave your folks alone so they can chat and I’ll tell you some stories about when they rode for the Pony Express.” Teaspoon could tell there was about to be a major discussion. At least that’s what he was hoping. He didn’t think those two would ever change. They’d been fighting against their feelings for each other for years. Why should that change now?

Lou and Kid watched as their children followed Teaspoon outside. Lou couldn’t help but smile at how the two had been fighting, but now were quiet. They were going to be great friends eventually. Kid couldn’t believe how much Jamie looked like her mother. There was something else about her though, something that looked very familiar. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.

“Your son hit my daughter. I expect that you’ve punished him?” Lou wasn’t as anxious to yell and scream at Kid, not over this. There were bigger things that she’d like to yell at him about.

“Of course. I’ve always told him never to hit a girl. He feels terrible about what he did, but I’ll make sure that he apologizes to Jamie before you leave.”

“Thanks Kid. You know, I think they really like to pick on each other. I hope that Teaspoon’s telling stories about me riding. If I never have to hear about how Davey Matthews says that I couldn’t have rode for the Express because I’m a girl, it’ll be too soon.” Lou couldn’t help but smile at the image of Jamie coming home to tell of Davey’s latest statements.

“I’d been hearing all about Jamie, but I didn’t learn she was your daughter until last night. Sounds like you’ve got your hands full.”

“So do you. Well, we’d better head back to town. I left Theresa with Rachel and I’m sure they’re both wondering what’s going on. It was great seeing you Kid, please come visit next time you’re in town.”

“Be careful Lou.” Kid felt all of his old feelings for Lou start stirring up inside him. He knew this would happen if he saw her. He hated leaving her, but he just couldn’t stay without her. He didn’t want to be just friends.




“Well Lou, did you teach that boy a lesson?” Theresa thought the feud going on between Davey and Jamie was pretty funny. She could already tell there was something special between the two.

“No, I didn’t.” Rachel and Theresa couldn’t hide their shock. They knew that Lou must be kidding there was no way that she would let him get away with hitting Jamie. “He’s Kid’s son.” With that said, Lou headed upstairs to put Jamie to bed.

CHAPTER THREE

“Did she say what I think she said?” Rachel didn’t even know Kid was back in town. She’d never met Davey’s parents. Kid had quit writing to her a few months back, but it wasn’t the first time he’d stopped writing so she didn’t think anything of it. He’d never told her that he had a son. The first day Davey came to school, she thought he looked very familiar, but she couldn’t place who he reminded her of. Now she realized he was the spitting image of his father.

“I’m going to go and talk to Lou.” Theresa had been young when her niece was born, but Lou had confided her how much she’d been hurt by Kid leaving. She could hear Lou telling Jamie on of her favorite stories about her Uncle Ike. Lou had always told Jamie stories about the boys and their riding days. She had never said anything about Kid though. Those stories were too painful. “And Ike crawled up on top of that camel and rode it like he’d been doin’ it for years. Now you go to sleep.”

“Night Mama.” Lou kissed Jamie on the cheek and headed to her own bed. “Theresa! What are you doing out here?”

“I thought you might want to talk about finding Kid again after all these years and about meeting his son.”

“Not yet Theresa. I need to try to understand what’s going on myself before I talk with anyone about it. I’ve just got to figure it all out.” Theresa watched her sister walk down the hallway. She knew how much Kid had hurt her by disappearing without a trace, but she couldn’t imagine what she was going through now. The man had been back in town for months and hadn’t bothered to find Lou. It was going to be a rough couple of days.




Kid couldn’t believe what had just happened. Coming face to face with Lou again after all these years was harder than he thought. She was just as beautiful as she was in his dreams. How was he going to stay away from her now? He made sure he didn’t come to town much because he didn’t want to see her. He knew if he did, he’d want to be close to her again. He didn’t deserve her anymore.

“Pa?”

“I thought you were sleeping.” Kid pulled his son onto his lap. “What’s bothering you?”

“Well, Mr. Hunter was telling me and Jamie that you and her Ma used to ride together for the Pony Express.”

“That’s right, we sure did.” Kid smiled as he thought back to how much easier things were. Then he just had to get the mail through, now he had to live with everything he’d done.

“Does that mean that you know Wild Bill and Buffalo Bill?” Davey loved to read about Wild Bill and Buffalo Bill. Finding out that his Pa knew them was just about the most exciting thing that had ever happened to him.

“I knew them once. To me they were just Jimmy and Cody. Cody always told us that he’d do something big with his life. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he did. Now Jimmy I was surprised about. He had always tried to avoid the trouble that seemed to find him. He must’ve got tired of running.”

“Tell me a story about them.”

“It’s too late to start one now, but I promise that I’ll tell you one tomorrow before you go to bed. C’mon, I’ll tuck you in.” Davey let out a loud squeal as Kid threw him over his shoulder to put him to bed.

“Pa, were you and Jamie’s Ma good friends? Mr. Hunter said that you all were real close.”

“We were good friends son, very good friends.” Kid kissed his son on the head and left the room with tears in his eyes at what could’ve been.

CHAPTER FOUR

No one was quite ready for what happened after Davey had hit Jamie. Instead of fighting worse than before, the two became inseparable. Their favorite game to play was Pony Express. The kids could play for hours. Davey often spent time in town with Jamie, but the two didn’t stay out at Kid’s place as much. Today was different though, Lou needed to run to Seneca to pick up Jamie’s birthday present.

“Now Jamie, you be good for Kid. Grandpa Teaspoon is going to pick you up since I’m going to be home late.” Lou gave her daughter a hug before pulling Kid aside. “Thanks for watching Jamie today Kid. I’ve got to go and pick up her present before they sell it.”

“It’s not a problem Lou, the kids love to play together. Good luck in Seneca.” Kid wasn’t comfortable around Lou. He knew that it was silly, but he just wasn’t.

“Thanks.”




“Jamie, Davey…where are you?” Kid had gone in the barn to check on the kids. They had gone in to play, but he hadn’t seen them or heard them for that matter in a while. When he walked past Katy and Holly, Katy’s foal, stalls, he had a sinking feeling. Neither horse was there. They were the only two horses that Davey was allowed to go near. This time they must’ve decided to play Pony Express with horses. “How the hell am I gonna find those two before Lou gets back?”

Kid wrote a note for Teaspoon telling him what was going on and posted it to the door. Maybe he’d find them before Lou made it back to Rock Creek. As he headed out to the barn to saddle his horse, he saw Lou pull into the place. “Damn! She’s not supposed to be back this early!” She was gonna kill him.

CHAPTER FIVE

“What the hell do you mean they’re missing?” Lou couldn’t believe what she was hearing. She never should’ve let Jamie stay out here with Kid.

“Lou, they were playing in the barn. They had gotten real quiet, so I went to check on them. That’s when I noticed Katy and Holly were missing. I was just getting ready to head out when you pulled up.” Kid could understand Lou’s panic. He was thinking the same thoughts himself.

“Well, let’s get outta here and find them. It’s gonna be night soon and Jamie’s afraid of the dark.” Lou was trying very hard not to panic. She had only been separated from Jamie once without knowing where she was. Those were the worst two nights she’d ever had. “Do you have a fresh horse I could use?”

“Sure Lou, let’s saddle up.” Those words brought back so many memories for both Lou and Kid. Memories of what should’ve been.

“Davey, where are we?” Jamie didn’t recognize anything around her. She didn’t want Davey to know, but she was starting to get scared.

“I don’t know. I think we should head back. My Pa’s gonna wonder where we went.” The pair turned around and headed for home. “We should be there real soon.”




As the sun began to set, Lou and Kid still hadn’t found the kids. They found the kids trail, but they hadn’t caught up to the kids.

“Lou it’s getting too dark to see, we’ve got to stop for the night.” Kid didn’t want to stop, but he knew they couldn’t follow the trail in the dark.

“We can’t stop Kid. I’ve got to find Jamie.” Lou knew Kid was right, but the thought of her little girl out in the wilderness alone was more than Lou could bear.

“We can’t see their trail anymore Lou. We don’t have a choice anymore. If we try to keep heading in the same direction, we could miss them altogether. Trust me, I don’t like this anymore than you do. I was only separated from Davey once and I’d do anything to keep from having a repeat of that, but it’s gonna happen.”

“I know Kid. I’m sorry. I’ll go find some wood for a fire.” Lou left Kid to take care of the horses. She needed to get away from him right now. How was she going to be able to spend a night alone with him again?

Kid watched Lou walk away from him and couldn’t believe the mess he’d gotten himself in. How could he spend a night with Lou? He knew she’d want to know why he left and what he’d done while he was gone. He wasn’t ready to tell her what happened in Virginia. The best part of Virginia was with him. Maybe she wouldn’t ask, maybe she didn’t care.

Kid had his own questions he wanted answers to. Where was Jamie’s father? He’d asked Davey about Jamie’s Pa after he’d spent the day with her. The boy had told him that Jamie didn’t have a Pa.

“Do you think this is enough?” Lou had returned while Kid was contemplating who Jamie’s father was.

“Yeah. You want to light it up? You always could get a fire going better than I could.” Lou was very surprised at Kid’s reference to their rides. They hadn’t gotten to go on many rides together, but those they had were cherished memories for Lou. She was pretty sure that on the last of their rides is when she’d gotten pregnant. Her world had fallen apart shortly after that ride.

Kid couldn’t believe what he’d just said. He wasn’t even thinking when he mentioned her fire lighting skills. She was in charge of the fires when they’d go on rides together or spend time alone at the swimming hole. They hadn’t gotten to do it much, but every time was special. Sometimes it was the memories of his time with Lou that kept him going while in Virginia. Especially after what had happened with Claire.

CHAPTER SIX

After dinner, Lou decided she wanted to know what Kid had been up to for the past six years. She had hoped he’d come out and tell her, but she should’ve realized that Kid had never changed. He wouldn’t open up to her willingly. “Kid, where did you go after you left the Express?” And left me.

“I went back to Virginia.” Kid didn’t want to tell her what he’d done, hopefully he’d be able to end this discussion before she asked for more details.

“I thought that’s where you went. Why didn’t you get in touch with me? I know you wrote to Rachel, but she never told me anything, said it would be too hard for me to move on.”

“It must not have taken you too long to move on. Jamie is almost six years old. I left six years ago.” Kid couldn’t believe Lou was upset about him not getting in touch with her. It didn’t take her long to find someone to help her forget him.

“Kid,” Lou couldn’t believe what she was about to tell him. She never intended to tell him about Jamie, but she also never expected to see him again. “I never moved on.”

Kid wasn’t quite sure what he was hearing. “What do you mean Lou? You never moved on?”

“Kid, Jamie is your daughter. I was pregnant when you left. I didn’t find out until a couple days after you left. I asked Rachel not to tell you when she wrote to you.”

“Why not? I would’ve come back. I would’ve been there to help you.”

“I didn’t want you to come back to me because I was pregnant. I wanted you to come back because you couldn’t live without me. I knew that wasn’t going to happen though, you had left because you couldn’t even wait for me to be ready to marry you.” By the end of her speech, Lou was in tears. It was nice to be able to finally vent her frustrations on their source. She’d been holding her feelings in for six years, it was time to blow.

Kid didn’t know what to tell her. He really had no good excuse for leaving her. He couldn’t just be friends with her. He knew she and Jimmy had gotten close, so when she turned him down he thought it was so she could move on to Jimmy. He felt worse about leaving her than he did about what happened in Virginia. “I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I know that isn’t much. I thought you wanted to be with Jimmy. I thought that was why you turned me down. I didn’t quite believe that you weren’t ready. I thought you didn’t love me anymore.”

“I have never stopped loving you. I saved the note you wrote the night you left. I’ve read it over and over. I would even yell at the note when times got rough. Nobody knew that I saved it. I didn’t want them to think I was losing it. I don’t think they fully understood how bad I felt when you left. They thought that I would just move on and that the baby would help me with that. They were so wrong.” Lou laid her head down on her knees and cried. She had never intended to tell anyone that she was still in love with Kid, especially Kid.

Kid knew he could never understand how much pain he’d caused Lou by leaving. As he watched her cry, he hoped that she’d give him the chance to make it up to her. “Lou, I never stopped loving you either. I’ve regretted leaving since the day I left. One day, I’m going to tell you what happened in Virginia, but for right now I just want you to know, the only good thing that happened in Virginia is here with me. I hope you can eventually forgive me for hurting you this way.” Kid walked away from the campsite. He needed time to think about what she had told him.

CHAPTER SEVEN

Lou tried not to think about what she’d just told Kid. She had always wanted to tell him how he had hurt her and how much he still meant to her, but she never thought she’d get that chance. Now that she’d done it, she hoped that it wouldn’t make things more strained between them than they already were. She’d noticed how he avoided her at all costs. He’d have Teaspoon pick up Davey from her house and very rarely offered to have Jamie come and spend the day at his place. Maybe it had something to do with his wife. He must’ve really loved her. He can’t even stand to be around her.

Kid watched Lou from the nearby grove of trees. He couldn’t believe that Jamie was his daughter. As he pictured her face, he realized what was so familiar when he first saw her. It was her eyes. They were the same as his son’s, same as his. Other than the bright blue eyes, she looked exactly like her mother. His daughter. After his experiences in Virginia, he never thought he’d have a chance to have more children. Claire hadn’t had it easy having Davey and her betrayal had been too much for him. He didn’t shed a lot of tears at her passing. “Why couldn’t I have just waited on her?” He mumbled to himself. Life in Rock Creek just got harder.




As the night got colder, Davey and Jamie huddled together. They tried to be brave, but the night noises were scary. “Davey, do you think they’ll find us soon?” Jamie had been trying not to get upset, but it wasn’t working.

“They can’t look in the dark dummy. We’ll start heading for home tomorrow and we’ll probably meet them along the way.”

“Are you sure we should leave? Maybe we should just wait for them to find us. I know my Ma will be looking all over.”

“We should leave. They might not even be looking for us yet.”

“Why wouldn’t they be looking for us?” Jamie knew her Ma would be looking. She wouldn’t let anything happen to her little girl.

“Yer Ma might’ve got back late and my Pa coulda waited for her before they left.”

“I hope they find us soon. I want my Ma!”




As the sun came up over the horizon, Lou and Kid were on the trail again. They hoped they were getting close, but couldn’t be sure how far the kids had ridden. Neither spoke of the conversation from the night before. It was easier to pretend nothing had been said.

“Kid, what if we don’t find them?” Lou didn’t want to think about that possibility, but anything could’ve happened to them.

“We WILL find them Lou. I don’t care if I have to search for the rest of my life, I refuse to loose my kids.” Lou’s head snapped up at Kid’s statement. It was the first time that he had called Jamie his.

It felt good to say he had kids. He’d always wanted a couple kids running around. He hoped that Lou would give him the chance to let him get to know his daughter. Did Jamie know anything about him? He hoped that Lou hadn’t told any bad stories about him. He doubted that she would do that, but after what she’d told him he wouldn’t be surprised.

The pair rode in silence for the first hour. Kid couldn’t help but wonder if Jamie knew anything about her father. His curiosity got the better of him and he decided to find out. “Did you ever tell Jamie about me?”

“No I didn’t. I told her that I loved her father very much and he had left before he even knew about her. I tried to make sure that I didn’t say anything bad about you. I didn’t want her to hate you if she ever got to meet you. I’d like her to know you’re her father.” Lou had always wanted Jamie to be able to meet and get to know Kid. Some of the little things she did reminded Lou so much of Kid.

“Davey told me that some of the stories he knew about the Express were new to Jamie. He said she didn’t even know that I rode.” Kid had been a little hurt to hear that. He thought would’ve thought Lou would make sure their daughter heard about how her parents had met.

“I couldn’t talk about you. Still won’t. It hurt too much to think about you. Those stories were so special to me. They reminded me of the better times. As much as I wanted Jamie to know all about you, I couldn’t make it through a story without crying.”

“Lou, I’m sorry for the pain I’ve caused you. I’d like to be friends again. If it becomes more than that, we can just let it happen.” Kid knew he wanted to be with Lou again, but had learned the hard way that she was worth waiting for.

“I’d like that Kid.” Lou smiled at him and hoped that they could be more than friends again.

CHAPTER EIGHT

Just after they stopped for lunch, Lou and Kid heard yelling. Lou couldn’t help but smile as she heard the words. “YOU LOW DOWN MEALY MOUTHED COYOTE!” Kid shot a look at her. What are the chances of hearing someone yell those words? “I think I’ve heard that before.” That did it, Lou burst out laughing. Kid couldn’t quite figure out what was so funny.

“Kid, that is your daughter letting your son know how she feels about being lost.” After Lou’s explanation, Kid couldn’t keep from laughing. “JAMILAH ELIZABETH MCCLOUD, WHERE ARE YOU?”

“MAMA! I’M OVER HERE!” Lou followed the sound of her daughter’s voice and found her dripping wet standing knee deep in a creek. “He pushed me in the water! He said that we had to head back home and I didn’t wanna go so he pushed me in the water!”

“Davey, did you push her?” Kid couldn’t believe his eyes.

“Yes I did. She told me that coz she was older, she got to tell me what to do and she said we was staying. I thought that we should head back and meet ya somewhere along the way.”

“Which way is home, son?” Davey pointed in the opposite direction from home. Kid just shook his head. “No, you’ll never get home if you’d have went that way. Mount up and we’ll head home. We’re going to have to have a long talk about you two taking the horses out without permission.”

With that said, the foursome headed for home. Jamie and Davey were dreading the talking to they were going to get when they got home, but they were very happy to be with their parents again.

EPILOGUE

Lou decided that she was going to tell Jamie who her father was on her birthday. She had told Kid of her intentions and made sure to invite him to the party. She was hoping Jamie would like her present. Lou had found a gentle pony for Jamie, but she wasn’t quite sure about giving her the horse after what they’d gone through. Kid had convinced her that the little talk he’d had with the kids had convinced them never to even consider riding out alone again for a long, long time. She would love to know what he’d said to them, but she was not allowed to know any part of it. Neither Kid , Davey, nor Jamie would say a word about their little talk.

“We’re here!” Davey came in the house carrying a small wrapped box.

“Hi boys! I’m glad you’re here early. Davey will you go and get Jamie so I can give her gift.”

“Alright Lou.” Lou and Kid watched Davey run upstairs to get Jamie. “Kid, I’d like you and Davey to be there when I give Jamie her gift. I’d like to tell her that you’re her father while we’re in the barn.” Lou wasn’t sure Kid would want Davey to know what was going on.

“I’d like that Lou. I haven’t told Davey yet, but I can’t think of a better time.” As Kid finished his statement, Jamie and Davey ran down the stairs and out the door. “I guess they’re ready to go. Hey, wait for us!”

“Jamilah, stop right there!” Lou didn’t want there to be a chance of Jamie seeing the horse before Lou got there. She wanted to see the look on Jamie’s face. “But Ma…”

“Oh no! You are gonna have to wait for us. Now close your eyes and Kid’ll carry you to your present.” Kid lifted his daughter after Lou had put a blindfold on her and the group headed into the barn. “Jamie, I’m going to tell you a little story. When I rode for the Express, I met a very special man. He was one of my fellow riders and we became very close. We had our problems, but we loved each other very much. One day, this man asked me to marry him, but I wasn’t ready and turned him down. It was something I’ve regretted doing ever since.” Kid’s head snapped up when she said this. They’d talked a lot since that night they spent together, but she’d never told him this. “The next morning, the man was gone. He left me a note telling me that he couldn’t wait. A few weeks later, I found out that I was going to have you. I’ve never told you stories about your father because I couldn’t talk about him without crying. But I can tell you now.” Lou slowly removed the blindfold. “Jamie, open your eyes and say hello to your father.”

Jamie slowly opened her eyes and looked into Kid’s. “Yer my Pa? But yer Davey’s Pa?”

“Yep, I’m your Pa and Davey’s Pa. You guys are brother and sister.”

“I don’t want a sister!” Davey liked having Jamie for a friend, but he wasn’t so sure about a sister.

“Too late Davey. You’ve got one.” Kid wasn’t surprised by Davey’s reaction.

“Well, Jamie, what do you think?” Lou was a little nervous about Jamie’s reaction. She hoped that Jamie wouldn’t be upset with her.

“Yer finally home at last Pa. I’ve missed you.” Jamie threw her arms around her father and squeezed him with all her might.

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