Layla and Vix stop at Daughtry's house to pick up a drunk Ursa.
Layla pulled up next to Erik’s house. “C’mon,” she said to Vix. “We might need to carry Ursa.”
She led Vix through the gate and up to the door. She frowned and knocked softly.
A moment later, Daughtry opened the door.
“Hey,” he said. A poodle yapped by his feet. “Shh. Sparky, damn.”
Layla didn’t wait and sauntered into the house. “Where’s Ursa?”
Daughtry looked a little uncomfortable. “This way.”
Layla and Vix followed him down the short hall and spotted Ursa inside his bedroom, totally passed out.
Layla frowned at the way Ursa’s dress was pushed down, showing the tops of her boobs. “What the hell, Daughtry?” she griped. “Why’s she all poppin’ out of her dress?”
He grimaced. “She… got a little carried away.”
Layla eyed him for a minute, then figured he’d have fixed it if he had something to hide. “Can you carry her out to the car?”
Daughtry nodded and lifted an unconscious Ursa over his shoulder. They walked in a line out to the car and he laid her down gently in the back seat.
Ursa stirred. “Erik?” she mumbled.
“Yeah, Ursa,” he said, smiling softly.
“Where’s my coffee?”
Daughtry laughed. “Sorry. You’ll have to come back for it another time.”
Ursa’s mouth twitched with a smile and then she was still.
Layla sighed. What the hell? Either her mom was a really crappy witch, or these two were just meant to be together. “Well, thanks for calling me.”
Daughtry quirked his mouth. “Yeah. Of course.”
“Where’s the wagon?”
“I guess she walked here. She was probably over at Curly’s.”
That was so weird. Ursa was out drinking and ended up at Daughtry’s house.
“Are you going to tell your mom she was here?” Daughtry asked calmly.
He stared at her. “Nothing happened, Layla. I swear. …well. Not much happened.”
Vix was watching silently, biting back a smile.
“Look,” Layla said. “I don’t care what you guys did. I believe that you didn’t take advantage of her, okay? I just don’t want my mom to know you guys were together. That would not be good,” Layla told him.
“Yeah, I get it. I’m too old for her.”
Layla frowned. “It’s not that either. I mean, I think you’re old, but for some reason, Ursa doesn’t.”
“So, what is it, then?”
Vix spoke up. “She doesn’t like it, ‘cause you’re related to Layla.”
“Wait. You’re saying that she knows there’s something going on between us? Did Ursa tell her?” He looked really uncomfortable.
“Not on purpose,” Layla said. “She made one little comment and my mom figured it out.”
He was obviously worried. “It’s my fault. I was… making it pretty obvious that I was interested. She was probably freaked out.”
Layla and Vix stared at each other. Layla looked back at Daughtry. “You really like her. When did that happen?”
“I just… I got to talking to her when she brought the wagon in.” He shrugged, obviously unwilling to say more.
“So…” Vix said, thinking. “It was after…”
“After?” Daughtry asked.
Layla frowned. “Ah, nothin’. Nevermind.”
He watched her with a clenched jaw. “Tell me.”
Layla shuffled her feet. “Nothin’ to tell.”
“Would this have anything to do with why Ursa forgot our conversation the day I came to jump your car?”
Vix’s eyes went wide. “She forgot your conversation?” Then she stared at Layla. “Do you think she forgot all of their conversations?”
“Vix, shut up,” Layla snapped.
“What the hell is going on?” Daughtry asked. He didn’t look like he was going to leave it alone now. Layla tsked at Vix’s big mouth.
“I’d like to know that, too,” came Ursa’s voice from behind them. They all turned to stare at her. She was watching them from the open car window, looking wobbly and ill, but alert.
Ursa felt like barfing. She’d had too much to drink. And now her sisters were talking some weird shit about her. She wanted to get out of the car, but she felt like she might topple over.
“Ursa…” Layla said, frowning.
“What’s going on?” Ursa asked. She really, really wanted to barf. Barf and sleep.
“We should just tell them,” Vix said.
“Are you crazy?” Layla asked her calmly.
Ursa opened the car door and puked on the ground.
“Ugh!” Layla shouted, stepping back, even though she was in no danger of getting splashed.
Vix stepped forward. “Are you okay, Ursa?”
“Better,” Ursa uttered with a watery mouth. She puked again.
“What the hell, Ursa?” Layla asked, sounding disgusted. “I've never seen you get drunk enough to ralph before.”
Ursa raised her middle finger for Layla.
“Here,” Vix said, handing Ursa some wadded up napkins.
Ursa took them with a nod and wiped her face. “Sorry, you had to see that.” She was leaning against the opened car door with her eyes closed, but she was talking to Erik. This was probably the most embarrassing thing she'd ever done. She sat up and tried to clear her head. “Now, what the fuck do you guys know about me having some kind of memory loss?”
Layla looked around. “You really wanna know? Fine. You'll regret it, though.”
“Maybe we should go back inside,” Vix suggested.
Erik looked a little disgruntled at the thought of that, but he nodded and led the way. He was probably totally grossed out about seeing Ursa flood his curb with barf. She couldn't really blame him.
She carefully stepped over the puddle and wobbled after them, fixing her dress as she went.
Vix patted Ursa's back encouragingly as she and Layla sat on either side of her on the couch.
Erik sat in a recliner across from them. Vix really didn't want him to hear all the crazy stuff that had been going on. She doubted he'd even believe it.
“So?” Ursa asked. “Did I lose part of my memory?”
“It seems like it,” Vix answered.
“Mom did it,” Layla groused.
Ursa stared at Layla. “You're not serious.”
“It's true, Ursa,” Vix said. “After we came home with the jump box, you and mom got into an argument.”
“About him,” Layla said, tilting her head toward Erik.
Ursa's eyes widened and she and Erik looked at each other. They both looked shocked, curious, contemplative. Vix felt so bad for her. This had to be so scary.
“What about me?” Erik asked.
Layla sighed. “Mom caught on that she was into you.”
“What?” Ursa demanded. “I'm... I mean, I wasn't.”
“You were,” Vix said gently.
Ursa's jaw clenched. She looked like she might cry. “You're lying. Mom wouldn't... What reason would she have to...”
“What are you girls suggesting, exactly?” Erik asked, leaning forward. “Even if Ursa was interested in me, what could Cassandra do about it?”
The three of them looked at him.
Erik felt a little cold.
Layla, Ursa and Vix looked nothing alike, and yet, at that moment, they wore the exact same expression. It was a hard expression that told him he wouldn't like what he was about to hear.
“Our mom...” Vix said. She bit her lip, looking unsure.
“Well, she's...” Layla said, looking away with a frown.
“A witch,” Ursa finished for them, dead serious.
Erik looked between the three of them, searching for a smile or a twinkle in their eyes, or anything that could suggest that they were kidding. Still. “You're messing with me, right? Playing a trick? Having a little fun?”
Layla gave him a nasty glare. Vix stared down at her hands. Ursa... Erik's heart sank. She looked hurt.
“You really believe she's a witch?” he asked her.
“She is, Daughtry,” Layla said coldly. “We don't just believe it. We've seen it.”
Vix nodded sadly.
Erik stood up and paced. There was no way, was there? The woman he'd obsessed over for so long... Witches were fantasy. Maybe the girls had it wrong. “What did you see, exactly?”
“Dishes breaking,” Ursa said. There were any number of explanations for that.
“Things flying across the room,” Vix added. Still, she could have been mistaken.
“Her floating,” Layla said. Trick of the light. A girl's overactive imagination.
“What she did to Ursa,” Vix said softly.
Ursa's eyebrows knit together. “What did she do to me?”
“She was in a rage,” Layla said. “You called her a witch.”
Erik was finding it hard to cling to the idea that this was a joke. At least they honestly believed it.
“Then she said something like, 'You want me to show you a witch?'” Layla went on. She was usually such a languid girl, but now her eyes were touched with fear.
“No,” Ursa moaned. Erik wanted to hold her.
“You forgot something,” Vix said. “She snapped her hand closed.”
'That's right,” Layla said. “She did that and--”
“I couldn't talk!” Ursa gasped. Her hand went to her throat and her eyes were wide.
“Ursa,” Erik said. He knelt in front of her and held her. “It's okay. You're okay.”
Ursa was sobbing. “I thought it was a dream! She took something from me, I just can't remember what!”
“You remember?” Vix asked sadly.
“Yes!” Ursa cried. “She dug her finger into my forehead! And... then I woke up.”
“No Ursa,” Layla said. “Then you passed out. She said that she took away your love for him.”
Ursa sagged and sobbed on Erik's shoulder. He hugged her tightly. He really cared about her. How long had it been since he’d actually cared about another person?
Then Erik remembered something strange. He hadn’t thought of it in years. “Ursa, when I was a kid, I saw something I wasn't supposed to see. I was supposed to be asleep, but I heard these weird noises from my uncle's barn. I'd forgotten all about it.”
“What was it?” Layla asked.
Erik looked at his cousin's daughter. “It was your mom and dad. They were going at it in there. I was just peeking 'cause I was curious, but then I couldn't look away. Then there was this... weird wave coming off them while she was on top of him... and it hit me in the chest.”
That wave... He hadn't thought about that in forever. He'd also thought it was a dream. And after that was when he'd become so obsessed. He couldn't believe it. Had he been under some kind of spell for most of his life?
He held Ursa up so he could look at her. “Your mom's a fucking witch!” Then, he started laughing hysterically. The girls joined in. Even Ursa smiled.
He laughed harder. “She put a spell on me. I can see it now.” His laughter quieted as he looked into Ursa's eyes. “Ursa... What kind of things did she take from you?”
She shook her head sadly. “I don't know.”