Witches, We (Chapter 17)

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They get a visitor and Layla finds her aunt.

 

            Layla awoke to a strange scene for so early on a Saturday morning. Her mother and two sisters were frantically rushing around, cleaning the house.

            “What the hell?” she asked sleepily.

            Ursa turned around, flapping a rag to free it from dust. “Layla! Layla, my dad is coming!”

            “What?”

            “Ursa’s father is the first to emerge,” Cassandra said, fluffing pillows on the sofa wildly. “I'm sure he'll come here before he goes to his parents! Right?”

            Layla had never seen her mother like this. She was downright blushing. And sweaty.

            With a laugh, Layla said, “If you love the guy, you should probably take a shower, Mom. You look like hell.”

            Her statement had a stunning effect on her mother. Her hands went to her face. “What am I doing? I have to go get ready!” Then she ran up the stairs and a few moments later, the sounds of running water filled the house.

            Ursa went to the stairs and yelled, “Hurry up, Mom! I need a shower too!” Then she rushed to her room and Layla peeked in to see her rummaging through her drawers.

            “The red striped dress,” Layla murmured to her sister, pointing to the closet. “It’s respectable.”

            “Right!” Ursa said and went to grab it.

            Layla went to the kitchen, shaking her head. Vix was washing dishes. “Don’t you want to run around like a crazy-ass, too?” Layla asked.

            Vix glanced back. “Nah, I’m good.”

            Layla nodded. “So, you’re a healer, huh?”

            “Maybe.”

            “That’s pretty handy.”

            Vix shrugged.

            “Wanna give it a try?”

            Vix shut off the water and turned around. “Why? Are you hurt?”

            “I’ve got blisters from the bowling shoes. Start small, right?”

            Vix swallowed. “Okay.”

            Layla sat at the table and lifted her foot for Vix, who crept forward and took it. She bent over to stare at the blister. “What do I do?”

            “Hell if I know.”

            “I guess I just have to try, right? That’s what mom said to Ursa.”

            “Go for it.”

            Vix sucked in a deep breath and put her finger gently on the blister. It didn’t hurt, so Layla figured that was a good start.

            Vix hummed gently and Layla ducked her head to look at the blister. As she watched, the bubble shrank and disappeared, leaving smooth skin behind. “Holy shit!” Layla said.

            Vix stared. “I did it.”

            “Yeah, you did.”

            “That’s amazing.”

            “Hell yeah!”

            Vix started laughing and Layla joined her.

            She swung her other foot up. “There’s another one over here.”

 

            Vix marveled at Layla’s second smooth heel. “What about you, Layla?”

            Layla shrugged.

            “Aren’t you going to try and cast a spell?”

            “No.”

            “Really? Why not?”

            “We’ve all seen the bullshit that happens when someone tries to cast a spell.”

            Vix frowned. “True.”

            They heard the shower go off upstairs and moments later, the shower downstairs went on.

            Vix shook her head with a sigh. “What about me?”

            “Huh?”

            “When do I get to hear about my dad? Why am I the only one who doesn’t know?”

            “Believe me, I’m no expert on my own dad.”

            “Yeah…”

            “Don’t worry. She said she’d explain everything today. Okay?”

            Vix couldn’t stand all this excitement. She went back to washing dishes.

 

 

            At seven minutes to eleven, there was a knock on the door.

            Cassandra stood, smoothed out her flattering, white dress and went to open it. She stuck her eye to the peephole, then threw the door open with a crash.

            “Ryan!” she cried, throwing herself out the door.

            Ursa stood and paced nervously and a minute later, Cassandra came back in, curled around the arm of a tall, handsome, blonde man. His clothes were dirty and Cassandra’s white dress was now streaked with brown. She didn’t seem to care, she seemed wild with delight.

            “Ryan,” she said. “This is your daughter, Ursa.”

            The man’s brown eyes went to Ursa’s face. “Oh, it’s you! I was wondering what happened to you. You just disappeared.”

            Ursa stepped forward, eyeing him curiously. “Dad?”

            He let go of Cassandra and stepped forward. “You were just a little thing the last time I…” His face tightened with pain. “Ursa.” He grabbed her tightly. “Ursa, you’re all grown up! I’ve missed you so much.”

            Ursa couldn’t hold back tears. “Dad.”

            He pulled back to gaze at her proudly, then his attention was drawn to the two other girls in the living room. “Hi.”

            Layla and Vix stood side by side.

            “Hello, I’m Vix.”

            “I’m Layla.”

            Ryan nodded. “And you’re Ursa’s… friends?”

            Vix bit her lip. “Sisters.”

            “Half-sisters,” Layla amended.

            “Ah,” Ryan said. He sent a hurt look back at Cassandra, who was clenching her jaw on the verge of tears.

            “I’m sorry, Ryan.”

            Ryan shook his head. “No, that’s alright, Cassy. I never wanted you to be alone.”

            Vix and Layla smirked at each other. Cassy?

            Ursa and her dad peered at each other for a while, amazed at the similarities between them.

            Layla felt very odd; an intruder. She tugged on Vix’s arm and said, “Mom, me and Vix need to go to the store, okay?”

            Cassandra stared at them nervously. “I don’t think you should…”

            “I’m taking the cell,” Layla said. “No worries, we’ll be fine. I’ve got a healer here.”

           

  

         

            Vix was sitting in the passenger seat as Layla drove away from their house. “He looks too much like Ursa," Vix murmured. "Mom wasn’t lying about that.”

            “True. Very true. And so weird!”

            “Yep. Do you think that our dads are gonna show up?”

            Layla gnawed the inside of her lip. “Hope so.”

            “Where are we going?”

            “I figure we can go and see my aunt and cousins.”

            “Oh. Okay!”

            Layla reached into her pocket and handed Vix the paper Daughtry had given her. “Read that to me, will ya? Might be a long drive.”

            Vix unfolded the bit of paper and gaped at it.

            Layla glanced at her sister’s face. “What? California or something?”

            “No,” Vix said in a quavering voice. “It’s close. Very close.”

            “Oh, great! Where is it?”

 

          

            “I don’t fucking believe it,” Layla muttered as they slowed in front of Galen’s house. “I’m related to Ursa’s boyfriend and now I’m related to yours?”

            Vix frowned. “What is wrong with this family?”

            “Well at least you’re not related to him. That would be gross after the way you two were sucking face.”

            “Layla.”

            She parked by the side of the road and turned off the engine.

            “You’re not going in, are you?” Vix asked, green eyes wide.

            “Of course I’m going in. They’re my family, Vix.”

            Vix sighed. How was she going to tell Galen?

            Vix followed her sister to the door and waited while she rang the doorbell.

            Owen answered, dressed nicely, but not as formally as he had been the other day.

            “Vix? And Layla, right? Come to see Galen?” he grinned.

            “Well, yeah,” Layla said. “Are your parents home?”

            His grin faded. “Yeah. What did my brother do?”

            “Nah,” said Layla, happy to tease. “It’s something your uncle did.”

            That really confused him. “My uncle?”

            “Yeah. Can we come in?”

            “Uh. Sure.”

            He held the door open for them and Layla led the way to the dining room and sat down. Vix uneasily followed suit.

            “I’ll… just go get ‘em then,” Owen said.

            “This is weird,” Vix muttered.

            “Tell me about it.”

            A few minutes passed and a woman entered the room, also dressed very well. Layla suddenly stood and the two of them stared at each other. They looked so much alike, they could easily be mistaken for mother and daughter.

            “Can I help you?” the woman asked, utterly confused.

            “You’re Anna?” Layla asked.

            “Yes…”

            “My name is Layla.”

            “Layla,” Anna repeated. Then a light seemed to come on. “Layla Layla? Sam’s Layla?”

            Layla nodded.

            Anna rushed up to her. “Oh my lord, you look just like him. I was wondering why. Layla. How are you?”

            Layla grinned back. “I’m just fine. I’m more than fine. I just found out I have an aunt.”

            Anna chuckled happily, and abruptly frowned. “You just found out? Didn’t your mom tell you?”

            Layla shook her head. “She didn’t tell me much at all. Guess she didn’t want the truth to hurt me or something.”

            Anna nodded solemnly. “Yes. I guess I can see that. Layla. Wow.” She gave Layla a crushing hug.

            Layla laughed. “And the crazy thing is: I live a few miles away.”

            Anna sighed. “You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to go into your mom’s shop and throttle her for keeping you from us.”

            Layla laughed again and Vix sighed. They were good for each other.

            Galen walked in. “Vix?”

            Vix stood up hastily. “Hi, Galen.”

            Anna looked at Vix. “Oh, I’m sorry. Who’s this?”

            Vix made an uncomfortable bow and thankfully, Layla spoke up. “This is my little sister, Vix. Half-sister.”

            “Oh, so we’re not really related,” Anna murmured. “Still! Welcome to the family, both of you.”

            Vix stared at Galen miserably.

            “So she’s—“ he stuttered, pointing to Layla. “You’re—“ he uttered, pointing to Vix.

            “I’m your cousin!” Layla announced happily. “But here’s the good news: you and Vix are in no way related!”

            Galen looked immensely relieved. “Oh, good. Good. I mean, great. Nice to know.”

            Vix giggled.

            Anna was confused. “What am I missing?”

            “Well,” Galen said, “Vix is my—“ he looked at Vix, who nodded. “Well, she’s kinda my girlfriend, Mom.”

            Anna’s eyes shot open.

            “Hi,” Vix said in a very small voice.

            “Well,” said Anna. “That’s… interesting.”

            Galen shrugged. “I had no idea.”

            “No, that’s okay Galen. You seem very nice, Vix. I don’t really know what I’m saying. Why don’t you two go watch a movie or something while I catch up with Layla.”

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