It was a cool night in November. As cool as the South could get.. Most of the time. 30 degrees tonight. Frost tipped the corn, forests, and grasses on the Sandlewood Ranch and six cows were fast asleep in the fields. Their breaths coming in huge grey clouds of hot smoke. A sign in the field said- Cows for sale, please Contact Harry Sandlewood for more information. It was clear the ranch was growing smaller and smaller. In the small two story plantation style home one light remained on in the upper second bedroom. Esme Sandlewood was sitting near the window on the foot of Iris's bed reading Iris a bedtime story about a Prince who took the form of a Raven due to a curse when the sun went down and landed on the window of his beloved singing sonets to her every night in bird language until she pitied him and kissed his beak and broke the curse; a story written by a little known local author Reba Dime Iris's favorite author who wrote both childrens books and less innocent adult novels that her Mom consumed like candy on her bad days. Iris signed to her mom a Raven flapping his wings excitedly before falling into her bed and grinning as her mom ceased the reading on the third chapter to tuck her in. It was clear that Iris was incapable of speaking and mute. Her mother yawned, the laugh lines from her face fading for a moment. She was bald from numerous chemotherapy treatments and had a bandanna wrapped over her head for appearence. "Okay Iris its time for bed now." She said her voice loving but having a certain vulnerability embedded in it from having Leukemia throughout her frail body as she leaned down to kiss her seven year old Iris on the cheek softly. Iris signed for her inhaler as she wheezed a few coughs and her Mother pulled it from her pocket and let Iris dose herself up with 3 puffs before having the inhaler handed back to her. Iris's wheezing subsided. She returned a kiss for her Mom and laid back in her bed and closed her eyes. Harry Sandlewood came into her room and kissed her softly on the forehead before guiding Esme out into the hall after turning on Iris's night light and sound machine on the thunderstorm setting and closing the door. "How are you feeling Esme?" Harry said walking with her side by side down the hall and into their bedroom. He had a long day at the office of Ferells Daily Local Newspaper as the head journalist there. He took his tie off the collar of his shirt and helped Esme into bed before sitting down beside her. He had been working on an article about the unusually cool weather they were having and numerous sudden cow deaths from it and the deadline was in two more days. "Ive been feeling ok. But ive been having chest pains again." At this point the leukemia was spread throughout her body into stage 3. It was only a matter of time before her organs went into a full shutdown. The family doctor gave her 2 months or less. Harry tried to give her his best smile and hugged her against him gently but firmly. "Do you need anything? Do you have enough medication?" Esme managed a chuckle, kissing him softly and he did smile this time seeing that fire return to her eyes that he fell in love with. "No you, God, and Iris are enough to sustain me." They were a Christian Family but in the current issues they faced faith was hard to muster at times. Although Harry and Iris were rooted to the Native American Roots of the Sandlewood line and their ancestors had different beliefs to Esmes side. Harry looked out of the window at the cows. "Ive sold eight and have six more to go. We cant manage our farming right now with whats going on." Esme nodded before a sudden wave of tears flooded out of her eyes. "Its a.. A darn shame to." She whispered. "I would like you and Iris to be able to stay here when i pass but if not dont sell the house. And spread my ashes over the land. Iris may decide to come back." Being a woman who never cursed a day in her life compared to Harry. Only Harry understood just how much the land craved and fed upon the Native American Sandlewood Tribe blood. Their tribe was so small a few centuries ago it wasnt registered. Except in the Ferell Archives and Historical Museum. When the settlers came the name stuck and became their 'Civilized' last names. They looked different than most other Native tribes of the USA they had fair skin and were tethered to their roots of Scotland and roots to the Mayans and looked like well tanned Caucasians but having dominantly Black/Red hair. Scotland and The Mayans crossed over in this small town back in the 1600s. A Distant Mayan Grandfather to Harry fell in love with a Distant Scottish Grandmother of his and supposedly in his grief of her death a curse was tethered to the town and as Harry would soon see the Male Sandlewoods wives never lived long. Iris is the first female Sandlewood to be born and to survive to her age in over 150 years. The wives to the men of the family all perished from Leukemia or other various sudden and deadly forms of cancers. However the farming and finances of the Sandlewoods prospered outstandingly and they held ownership over the entire towns lands with the Town Council. Harrys two brothers lived nearby in the town with their sons and his younger brother had already lost his wife to Brain Cancer just nine months ago. His older brother knew of the coincidences of the curse and in an effort to avoid it he did not marry his two sons mother. But she still died in a tragic car wreck after she later married another man and left town. Esme snapped Harrys trailing thoughts right back to her gaze. "Promise me Harry!" She said gripping his button up shirt tightly in the half dead grip of her cold hands. He put his hands over hers to warm them, blowing hot breath over them. "Okay, i promise i wont sell the house and ill deliver your ashes back to our lands." His skin was fair looking, more toward the Scottish side but the trademark dark raven black hair with red mixed in that Esme had. He had his hair kept back in that classic mobster way. Shaved a two or three around and a four or five on top slicked back with hair gel. His face was clean shaven and his eyes were Blue. It was beginning to stick up in places though after a long day. "You darned well better or ill ask God for a ticket to haunt you." She said half sarcastically half to get her point across to him. Harry laughed and undressed before sliding into bed beside her in boxers. Esme soon fell asleep with his strong arms around her. Only this time when he woke up she did not wake up with him.