Two little girls - one white, one colored; one free, one a slave; one never afraid, the other ever looking over her shoulder - become unlikely friends in 1852, Bedford County, Virginia. Instinctively, they know they must keep their friendship a secret. Willa and Surry are both from loving families, but Surry's parents are slaves and can't protect their daughter from the plantation overseer's cruel hand. Overhearing her parents argue about "bein' free", Surry asks Willa to find out what bein' free means. The answer brings heartache to both girls, their childhood innocence lost in the wake of the coming War Between the States.
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Levi's gut wrenches at what he'd just gone and done - taken Comfort for his wife and not Willa. Willa Mae Tyler was out there somewhere now, masquerading as a Confederate soldier, fighting, facing death every day. That he couldn't stop her from going is eating him up inside. Desperate for her secret and best friend Surry's counsel, Willa prays for the safety of her unborn child, Levi Clement's child. She prays she's doing the right thing by exacting revenge on the Yankees for killing her brothers.