Title: With Love

Author: Sierra Crane

Rating: PG-13 for violence

Summary: A forbidden love set during America's bloodiest war of the 19th Century. Two young adults must make a difficult choice about love while encountering the most frightening and dangerous obstacles.

Author's Notes: Reviews are very appreciated because I've never let anyone read this story of mine before so I don't know if it's any good or not. I hope y'all enjoy it!

***

Chapter One--New York City, NY

January, 1861

George Coleman sat back in his soft chair and thought for a moment, studying the faces of his young daughter and her beau. Jessica Coleman was sixteen, of average height and weight, but very pretty; Dan Kent was a handsome man of nineteen, and had been courting Jessica for a year.

"You aim to wed my daughter soon, Mr. Kent?" George assumed.

"Yes, sir," Dan answered, "as soon as possible, if you'll agree."

"What do you have to offer her?" George asked, "Jessica is accustomed to a luxurious life style, I do not believe you could give that to her."

"No, sir," Dan admitted, "I'm 'fraid not . . . but I do love her."

"Love is not everything, Mr. Kent," George pointed out, "love is nothing if you have no job, or even no house to give a woman of . . . well, high birth."

"Papa," Jessica said in a low tone.

"Sir," Dan said slowly, "with all due respect, I believe that would be your daughter's choice. Now, if she would rather wait for a young man with wealth to spare to come along, then I'd understand and pack up my things right now. But--correct me if I'm wrong--I don't think that's what she wants at all."

George nodded, then stood and extended his right hand to Dan in a gesture of goodwill. "Well then," he said, "if that is the case--may you two be happy."

"Thank you, sir!" Dan's face lit up immediately.

"Oh, Papa!" Jessica cried, clinging to her father's arm. "Thank you so much!"

TWO WEEKS LATER

"It's inevitable," the banker, Thomas Jeffries, stated. "War will come, and it will come soon, I fear. Now that Lincoln is president I have no doubt the South will carry out it's threat."

"And you believe Lincoln would lead us into war over that?" Dr. Frederick Anders said incredulously. "I must disagree, Jeffries."

"Britain went to war with us," George put in, "when we 'seceded,' so to speak."

"That was quite some time ago," the storekeeper, Andrew Cooper, said.

"We haven't changed as much as some might believe," Jeffries said, "especially in the South. Slavery continues, as a matter of fact the South relies on slavery for all of it's agricultural needs!"

"They need to be broken of that," George said, "slavery will fall eventually and we do not want the South to fall with it."

"They will not free the slaves without a fight," Anders spoke, "I can guarantee that."

"And I can guarantee," Cooper said, "that they won't put up much of a fight. If there is a war, I predict it will last . . . at the most, ninety days."

Dan leaned against the doorframe, his black eyes bearing down on Cooper with a fire inside them, George turned slowly. "You have something to say, Mr. Kent?"

"Yes, sir," Dan said, "I do. Mr. Cooper, I don't wanna be so blunt but I don't see any other way of putting it--you're wrong. The South will put up more of a fight than the North, most likely."

"And," Cooper spoke, "what makes you so certain of this?"

"'Cause I am a Southerner," Dan answered, "born 'n bred in Louisiana. The South has more to fight for than the North, they'll be fighting for their homes, and they'll fight with all their strength. They won't give up."

***

Jessica laughed lightly as she burst into the rundown shack Dan lived in, her fiancee right behind her; Dan pulled her to his chest and planted a firm kiss on her lips, then softened slowly and held her like that.

"Dan . . . " Jessica murmured, "Dan, shut the door . . . before someone sees us!"

Dan slammed the door shut with his foot, never breaking their embrace; then he swept her off her feet and carried her over to the bed, lying her down gently. "Don't you even think about it," Jessica warned.

"I'd never," Dan assured her, "but we could talk, couldn't we?"

"Talking is fine."

"Well then . . . talk." Dan smiled and brushed back Jessica's chocolate brown hair from her bare, white shoulders. "What kind of dress are you gonna wear for our wedding?"

"A white one." Jessica slowly smiled.

"Really?" Dan blinked in mock-surprise. "Can't imagine why, no one ever wears a white dress on their wedding day!" He leaned in till their lips met once again, murmuring: "What're you gonna wear . . . beneath that dress?"

"Daniel Kent!" Jessica gasped.

"Hey, you are gonna be my wife!" Dan defended himself.

"'Going to be'," Jessica reminded him, "I'm not yet."

"You've already crossed a few lines, you know," Dan said, "if your papa caught you in here with me . . . well, I reckon it'd all be over."

"Or kissing you."

"You don't kiss me enough," Dan said, "we'd never get caught."

"It only takes once . . . " Jessica wrapped her arms around Dan's neck and gingerly started kissing him.

THREE MONTHS LATER

Dan listened to the cries of the newsboys shouting out news of the attack on Fort Sumter by rebel soldiers as he deliberately and half-confidantly walked up the Coleman estate. The Union was going to war against the South, that was a well-known fact now, and it was time to tell both George and Jessica which side he would fight for.

Two knocks on the front door brought the servant, Rosanna, immediately; the little woman in her mid-30s beckoned Dan in quickly, then called for the master of the house and Jessica. Dan went into the parlor where Jessica's younger sister, Breanna, was playing the piano.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Kent," she said quietly. "How are you?"

"Fine, Breanna," Dan said simply, "just fine. Ready for the wedding?"

"Oh yes," Breanna replied, "Jessica has her dress ready, and so do I. I can hardly wait!"

"Glad to hear you're excited," Dan said, "where's Patrick?" He spoke of the only son of George Coleman, 23-year-old Patrick, a graduate of West Point Academy.

"He's bidding farewell to his fiance," Breanna answered reluctantly.

"Farewell?"

"He's going to war."

Dan bit his lip and looked away for a moment as Jessica and George entered, he knew what he had to inform them of, and he hated it.

"Dan?" Jessica spoke first, "is something wrong?"

"I need to speak with you and your father," Dan said.

"Breanna," George spoke to his daughter, "go upstairs for a minute while we speak to Mr. Kent." As Breanna left, George offered Dan a seat, but the young man refused politely.

"I'm afraid you won't want me in your house when I'm through," he explained, "let alone in your parlor. I-I'm enlisting shortly, I thought you would want to know before I did so."

"And . . . ?" George's eyes narrowed ever-so-slightly.

"I'm gonna fight for the Confederacy."

Jessica's eyes welled up with tears, she clasped a hand over her mouth and sat on the sofa quickly; George rubbed his eyes and shook his head. "You are betraying your country," he stated.

"I'm defending my homeland," Dan countered.

"You're willing to give up your wife," George said, "to turn your back on the Union?"

"Papa!" Jessica gasped.

Dan cast a sideways glance at Jessica, then stared straight back at George. "I'm going to fight," he said, "and nothing or no one can make me fight for something I don't believe in. Now if Jessica's willing to give us up over that . . . then maybe we weren't meant to be."

"You will never marry my daughter!" George fired up, "never!"

Dan looked at Jessica again, but she just turned away in despair. "If that's the way it's gonna be," he said, "then I'll leave. I wish you all well here . . . Jessica, I hope you find someone suitable for a husband." He turned and left quickly, afraid of what he might say or do if he stayed any longer.

He passed Patrick in the doorway, and felt a rush of anger at the older man, at the Union, at everything . . . soon he would be fighting against the man that could've been his brother-in-law. He shut the door quietly, making sure not to give them the satisfaction of him slamming it, then he trotted down the steps and onto the street.

Inside, Jessica stood motionless beside her father and Patrick; George was saying: "Don't you dare follow him, Jessica, he's not worth it."

"A few minutes ago," Jessica said, "you loved him like a son."

"He betrayed us all."

"He didn't betray me," Jessica said.

"He betrayed the Union."

"I am not the Union." Jessica cast an angry glance up at her father, then tossed on her shawl and walked up to the door, ignoring her father's words: "If you marry that rebel traitor don't you even consider stepping foot in my house again! Do you hear me, Jessica? If you leave . . . never come back!"

Jessica fled onto the street as the sky opened up and rain poured over the city of New York, she could see Dan's retreating back in the distance. "Dan!" she cried, "Dan, wait!"

His form slowly turned and he looked at Jessica expectantly, she ran to him, through the mud, soaking her skirts and wetting her hair, then she held him. His breathes were unsteady, as if he were upset, so she held him harder.

"Nothing will ever tear us apart," she promised, "I love you."

"Oh, Jessica," Dan sighed, "I love you too."



TBC (if you want me to)