She smiles as Clarence makes his way back to the shed. “Hey Boy, did you miss me much?” Boy was her six-year-old Doberman she bought to keep Clarence company after his wife died. They had been caretakers here for as long as she could remember and stayed on even after her grandmother had died. Clarence may look like an ole country boy, missing his dentures, but looks are deceiving. The man spent twenty years with the US Marshall’s Office and could handle a gun better than anyone she knew. Funny he mentioned Mamma Callie. Mamma Callie had raised her since her parents died. Full of secrets, Mamma Callie loved her something fierce, but she took those secrets to her grave. Since she was five years old, Sabine Parish became her home. She vaguely remembers the day she first met Mamma and the long plane ride just to travel another hour or more to get here. The land had been in her family for many generations. Once several hundred acres, she now owned close to two hundred. Harvesting of the trees paid the taxes and revenue from her life before kept the place in pristine condition. A few years back she had the house renovated and left Clarence to supervise the entire project. Judging from the sitting room, she would be pleased with the rest of the house and guest house, where she usually worked during her visits.
The old man turned and watched as Azure played with Boy, his tail wagging as she opened the door and followed her inside. He never did judge her comings and goings. Hell, it had been a couple of years now since she’s been home. She’d stay a few days and then off she’d go again. It took her about a year or more to find her confidence after Ms. Callie’s death. For the past few years she’s been happier than he’s ever seen her. But now, something about her is off. Her spark, that spirit is missing. And then those eyes. A generational curse. It was the eyes that gave her away. He’d seen that look one time before. The time Mamma Callie travelled to Europe and came back with Azure. It was the look of a woman broken but hell bent on putting somebody in a coffin. He suspected that Azure came home to mend that heart and spirit. That and the visitor that came calling that spring. Yes sir, something badly bruised that child. As if on cue, the sky darkened for an evening storm. He smelled trouble brewing. Trouble dark and sinister as the evening sky. One thing that he knew about the Chauncey family, if you wronged them you would live to regret it.