The Weird Girls Page 4

“Who says we’ll let you watch?” Taran shot back.

I hadn’t realized women in their eighties flipped people off until then.

I ran up the small incline to the walkway, hoping to avoid yet another Mrs. Mancuso tongue-lashing. It seemed the grouchy old hag waited like a leopard behind her hummingbird-patterned curtains to pounce on the would-be Wird gazelles.

Typically I took this time to cool down and stretch. But the commotion before me had me bolting full speed.

“What the hell do you bitches want?”

Oh. No.

Taran stood on our large wooden porch with her hands on her hips, her jaw clenched tight, and her glare fixed on the coven of witches gathered on our front sidewalk. Shayna lingered next to her with her hands close to her daggers, her sharp blue eyes sweeping along the crowd of thirteen. Emme kept her hands clasped in front of her, anxious, but ready to defend her family.

Ambrosial scents of spearmint, sage, rosemary, and basil thickened the air surrounding our development. It might have been comforting had I not feared Taran’s fire would ignite our visitors like marshmallows . . . and that they’d unleash a plague onto our house that would make leprosy seem like diaper rash.

The incident at the club hadn’t been pretty. I didn’t get the impression this would be all rainbows, puppies, and potpourri. Still, I didn’t want the Hermione Granger wannabees to think they could push us around.

My eyes darted along our cul-de-sac and took in their cars. It seemed every witch owned a Jetta. And their collective magic rose like the sun against their auras.

The witch closest to me held the power of the heavens within her reach. At first glance, I would have mistaken her for a vampire. Her beauty rivaled theirs. Long ebony hair traveled in perfect waves along her bold red Renaissance dress. Her lithe body rested against our Subaru and she gripped the long wooden staff at her side. I took her to be the second in command. It was an easy guess, seeing how the head witch was the only other gal wearing a velvet maiden gown, and her power cracked like the power of hell’s whips and thundered around her like the eye of a cyclone.

Their BFFs conversely dressed like they shopped at the Gap.

The dark-haired witch blinked her sapphire eyes my way before returning her attention to the mounting tension on my front porch. To her right, a young woman with dark spiky hair wrote feverishly on a scroll. “Sandy,” the witch from the paper towel incident, hid behind a cluster of witches gathered in our driveway. At the sight of me, she sidled onto Mrs. Mancuso’s property, tipping over one of the creepy lawn gnomes adorning the front lawn.

The head witch’s tight, strawberry-blond curls barely moved when a strong gust of wind billowed her green velvet skirt, revealing her bare feet and three toe rings on her left foot. Each silver loop held minute amethyst stones sizzling with a supersized amount of collective power. I couldn’t see her face since she was currently going toe-to-toe with my scratch-your-eyes-out-first, ask-questions-later sister.

The coven parted as I stalked my way through the crowd, much like the patrons had at the club. I sensed their alarm, but unlike the clubbers, they weren’t exactly fleeing in terror. One witch even dared to cross my path—an ice blonde with eyes as dark as coals. A speck of her magic barely rose to the tip of her white staff before I yanked it from her grip and launched it into the street.

“Don’t,” I told her stiffly.

And she didn’t. Her dark eyes narrowed at the staff as it fell against the asphalt.

Did I intentionally mean to flex my supernatural muscles?

Hell, yeah.

As much as I didn’t want trouble, no one had the right to threaten me or my family in our home. No one.

The head witch’s back stiffened. She must have felt the swarm of magic leave her lesser’s staff. She ignored Taran to fix her eyes on me. And holy cow, the coven must have had a “homely girls need not apply” clause. The witch resembled a blond version of Betty Boop . . . if Betty came chock full of bad attitude.

The amethyst toe rings glimmered with enough power to darken the light blue floorboards, and the heat they emanated was hot enough to burn. No wonder she didn’t wear shoes. Girlfriend would scorch right through them. Hate found its way into her lovely brown eyes. “Were you the one who destroyed my sister’s talisman?”

“Yup,” I said before Taran could answer. I took my place next to Emme. “Now tell me what you’re doing here.”

And because the situation didn’t border on sucky enough, Mrs. Mancuso came to the witch’s rescue. She stomped out of her house dressed to the nines in one of her floral housedresses, orthopedic sandals, and her best support hose. “Taran Wird. Leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses alone!”

Oh, dear Lord.

“Shut up and die, you old hag!” Taran hissed back.

Mrs. Mancuso pointed a nasty finger—at me. “Celia Wird. Do something to control that strumpet sister of yours!”

Strumpet. Now, there’s a word you don’t hear every day.

I heaved a heavy sigh. “Taran. Please be nice to the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

The soft chuckle from the witch near our car caught me by surprise.

“Something funny, Sister Genevieve?” The head witch’s voice held a twinge of annoyance, but the magic that danced along her hourglass form demanded an apology. My senses shot to high alert. I didn’t like the way they regarded each other. Witches were a lot like Jersey girls. You didn’t want to get in between two fighting. Fists, foul mouths, and fake hair would fly.

Genevieve took a small, elegant step away from our Subaru, keeping her magic whoop-ass stick close to her side. “Of course not, Sister Larissa.” Her voice was soft and silky, her words nonthreatening and apologetic. Yet she left me thinking she actually meant, “Any time, any place, bitch.”

The witches, it seemed, weren’t as united as I thought. Still, I didn’t want them rumbling on our home turf. “Taran, get rid of Mrs. Mancuso,” I muttered.

A translucent stream of blue and white smoke swirled from Taran’s core. The witches slammed their protective shields around themselves with such force, the magnitude of their power scratched like a wire brush against my skin. They watched, fascinated by Taran’s blue and white stream. It glided like a graceful butterfly to where Mrs. Mancuso jabbered on about what tramps we were, and how we’d besmirched a once lovely neighborhood with our hussy ways.

“Go in the house, Mancuso,” Taran whispered in an eerie voice. “Your chin hairs need plucking.”

Mrs. Mancuso inhaled Taran’s magic. Her eyes closed briefly, then with quick determined steps she returned to her house in a trance. “Heathens,” she snapped before slamming her red door shut.

Larissa narrowed her eyes at my nose. She was smart enough not to directly challenge my tigress. “What do you want?” I repeated once more.

Larissa rose to her full height. “Your sister’s not a witch.”

I frowned. “No, she’s not.”

Larissa pursed her lips. “Yet she wields magic.”

No, just fire, lightning, and the occasional mind influence. I didn’t care to share that with Larissa and her gal pals, though. “Yes, she has great power.”

Larissa honed in on Taran. “How do you do it? How do you work your enchantments?”

Taran stormed forward, her platform pumps clicking against the wooden floorboards. Larissa stood a good six inches taller than my petite sister, but you wouldn’t know it by the way Taran faced off with her. “If you must know, I take the magic from the world around me and manipulate it to do what I want.”

A few of the coven muffled back gasps while Larissa gaped at Taran like she pimp-slapped her. I didn’t understand the issue until Larissa’s blanched skin reddened and she wigged out on Taran. “How dare you rob the earth of her magic!”


Taran exchanged glances with me before scowling back defensively. “I didn’t rob anything. The magic doesn’t stay with me. I give it back the moment I’m done.”

A couple of witches scoffed with disgust. There were hushed whispers of “sin” and “blasphemy.” Their sanctimonious attitudes pissed. Me. Off. My tigress clawed on the inside, restless to defend Taran. I held her back. If she unleashed, blood would stain the streets. There was no need for blood. Yet.

“You disgrace our sister, and now you mock and spit on our faith.” Larissa motioned to the witch with the scroll. “Add the mortem provocatio.”

“No.” The dark-haired Genevieve’s voice was quiet but absolute.

“This isn’t your decision, Genevieve,” Larissa hissed back. “Add. It,” she repeated once more.

Larissa snapped her fingers. Four witches, all armed with staffs, stepped forward. They exchanged hesitant glances, but positioned themselves so that each one of them faced one of us. The spiky-haired witch stumbled her way in between them and handed Emme the scroll she’d prepared. Emme quickly skimmed it, her eyes widening with every passage. “It’s a decree challenging each of us to a fight to the death—”

I yanked the scroll from Emme’s hands and tore it in half before she could finish reading it. “I invoke the Ninth Law.”

Silence fell. The breeze stopped as if switched off, the morning doves ceased their song, and day abruptly became night. Creepy, hell yes. But I wasn’t going to let a darkening sky distract me from protecting my sisters.

Larissa smiled like one of those hyenas who’d caught a whiff of their prey. “You’re the head of the family?” I nodded. Larissa’s malicious grin widened. “Then you realize that means you get to face me?”

My tigress eyes replaced my own. “I know what it means.” I rammed the pieces of parchment into her chest, shaking with the need to change. Larissa clutched the torn scroll against her as she fell, my strike hard enough to make her topple down the steps. I hadn’t meant to shove her so hard; in fact, I’d fought to stay in control. Yet little remained to hold back my beast. She didn’t like being prey. And neither did I.

Anyone else would have fallen and cracked her head opened. There. Challenge over. But Larissa wasn’t just anyone. The amethysts on her toes lit the darkness with a ghostly light as an invisible force caught her and lifted her upright. She returned to her place at the edge of my porch, smiling her nasty smile like my hands had never touched her. She opened her arms and let the remains of the parchment fall as she faced me once more. This time, she didn’t avert her gaze. “What are your terms?” she asked, her tone casual.

“Celia.” I was the tigress, but it was Taran who growled. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Shut up, Taran.” Something in my voice made Taran heed my order. Emme and Shayna grabbed each of her hands, keeping her in place, and preventing her from using her magic. I took a breath, trying not to let my tigress unleash. She’d taken Larissa’s disrespect as permission to kill. But I needed to fix this mess, not make matters worse. My husky voice dropped an octave. “To be left in peace. If I win, we get to stay and you and your coven are to leave us alone.”

Larissa laughed. “And if you win, my coven and I leave Tahoe.”

“The Ninth Law doesn’t require a death.” Genevieve’s statement appeared more directed as a reminder to Larissa than as an explanation to my sisters.

Larissa nodded with mock agreement. “No. But should death accidently befall her . . .” She glanced at me over her shoulder as she sashayed down the wooden steps. “Are we in agreement, my dear?”

My spine stiffened. I followed her to our front walk with my sisters flanking my sides. I barely managed to keep from pouncing on Larissa right then and there. High school had arrived at our front door and the Mean Girls made it clear they didn’t like us. And this time they’d put it in writing. “Yes, we’re in agreement.”

“Very well. Three days. Three challenges.” Larissa gave me the once-over as a rush of magic fanned out her skirt. Something about her stare made me think she was taking in more than my outer appearance. “Beast,” she stated. “Self,” she said meeting my eyes. “Protection,” she added with a grin.

“Beast. Self. Protection,” the coven chanted.

There was a long, dramatic pause as we waited for an explanation, or at the very least some Cliffs Notes. Genevieve scanned the members of her coven. She’d chanted along with her sisters, but she didn’t seem happy about it. “You ask a great deal of your clan,” she said simply.

Larissa whipped her head to face her. “You speak out of line, Sister Genevieve.”

“I don’t believe I do, Larissa.”

I didn’t know much about witch etiquette. But I did know they were supposed to address each other as “sister” or by title, especially in public. Larissa and Genevieve’s magic hadn’t clashed, but I could sense it brewing to the surface. It would soon boil over into a bloody, messy brouhaha, a brouhaha I had no desire to be a part of. Just because Genevieve didn’t appear to like Larissa it didn’t mean she was on our side.

Without bothering to glance away, the dark-haired Genevieve spoke again. “Everyone, return to your vehicles. It’s time to depart.”

Car doors slammed shut and engines roared to life. One by one, the Jettas sped away.

Only the two head witches remained. Larissa smiled at the other witch with all the pleasantness of a great white shark in the company of a baby seal. “The day will soon come when you, too, shall challenge me. Just like Celia, you will lose, Genevieve.”

“The day will come.” Genevieve’s voice remained soft and silky. “And I will not lose.”

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