Chapter 1

Light slipped through my closed eyelids and stabbed my retinas. I knew immediately this wasn't my room for my bedroom had no windows through which sunlight could assault me. Because I'd have to find out where I was sooner or later, I opened my eyes and sat up with a groan. "Morning, Sunshine," a fortunately familiar voice chimed. A clink of china drove a nail through my head.

"Do you have to be so loud, Lisette?" I whined, laying back down in the bed and pulling the covers over my head.

After another clink of china, softer this time, she replied in a light voice, "Just how much did you drink last night?"

"Oh so that's what happened."

"That much, huh?" I peeked out from under the covers at Lisette's back as she carefully prepared something on her guest room's dresser top. I grimaced in anticipation of the potion she concocted to help me with my hangover. She turned around with a cup in her hands and walked towards me. "You really shouldn't drink so much."

I sat up again, "If I didn't have nights like last one I wouldn't have any good stories to tell. Besides we were toasting Dorian getting the role."

Lisette shook her head. "You don't even remember last night so how are you supposed to tell any stories? Now drink this." She shoved the cup under my nose. I crinkled my nose at its foul odor and pushed it back towards her, shaking my head. "Oh come on this is the perfect opportunity to see if my new remedy works. If it turns you into a newt I'll turn you back, pinky promise!" She tried to push it back towards me but I kept my hand firm, I wanted it nowhere near me. "Pleeeeeease, help an aspiring witch out and drink it." Her bottom lip curled out in a pout and she batted her eyelashes in a deceptively innocent way. I relented with a sigh and took the cup gingerly with one hand. I pinched my nose and threw it down. I shuddered at the taste as it slid down my throat… It tasted worse than her cure for the common cold (which had, in fact, turned me into a newt) but after a moment my headache receded.

I smiled at her and handed back the cup."Well it worked… notice any ugly side effects?"

She raked her eyes over me, "Not re-" her eyes stopped at the top of my head and she snorted.

"What?"

She tried to force herself not to smile,"well I wouldn't-" She lost control of herself for a moment and burst out laughing, "call it ugly."

I threw off the covers and stalked over to the mirror above the dresser. Her ingredients were giving off a putrid stench but I ignored it and studied my reflection. Sure enough, on top of my head were two giant, fluffy dog ears. I reached up and pinched the tip of one between my thumb and forefinger. The fur matched my dark brown curls but the ears were far too large to blend in. "Get rid of them."

Lisette fought to control her snickering, "Aw… but they're so cute."

I turned around to face her. "They're ridiculous."

She squealed and clasped her hands together, "They totally just twitched! Oh please keep them, keep them, keep them!"

I shook my head and walked back towards her. "No way."

"Oh just for a few days… If you still hate them after three days I'll figure out a way to get rid of them."

I pinched the bridge of my nose then sighed and gave her a surrendering smile. "I don't have a choice do I?"

She beamed up at me. "Glad you understand."

I let out an exasperated laugh and shook my head again. "Why don't you help me piece together what happened last night?" I moved past her and started making the bed.

Lisette shrugged and walked past me towards her dresser and started arranging her potion ingredients. "All I know is when I showed up a nice lady of approximately 50 years of age was trying to take you home with her."

I winced, "50?"

"At least. So I pried you away from her and brought you here."

"Why didn't you take me home?" I asked fluffing the pillow and dropping it back down on the badly made bed. I headed out the door of the guestroom and down the hall to the kitchen. I pulled a glass out of the cupboard and filled it with water from the tap. It wasn't until the glass touched my lips that I realized Lisette hadn't answered me… or followed me into the kitchen telling me not to touch any of the potions on the stovetop. I turned back towards the hallway where Lisette was still standing by the guestroom door just out of the kitchen window's light. She looked absolutely tiny with her head down, her long brown hair hiding her face, and her hands balled up in the bottom of her sweater dress. I put the glass down on the counter, "Lis-"

"I didn't wanna see Casey!" She cut me off with a strained voice.

I took a few steps back into the hallway. "What did she do?" I restrained myself from tagging 'this time' on the end.

"She was wi… I cau…. She was che…" Lisette didn't know what to say, she never did when she was upset, so she just stumbled over words while tears started pooling in her eyes.

"She cheated again, didn't she?" Lisette bit her lip and nodded. I sighed and pulled her into a hug. She let me, burying her head in my chest and wrapping her arms around my waist. Her shoulders started to shake and I kissed the top of her head and petted her hair.

Sensitivity has never been my strongsuit. I was never able to comfort anyone, not with words anyway. All I could ever do was awkwardly hold people. So as Lisette cried I did the only thing I could.

Eventually her shoulders stopped shaking and after a few still moments she pulled away from me. She broke the silence with a loud sniff. As she rubbed her red eyes, I put a hand on her head and messed up her straight, smooth hair, "Casey's my baby sister and I love her, but you deserve so much better." Lisette didn't respond, just sniffed again. "You deserve someone gentler, kinder, softer, sweeter. Someone with more tact. Definitely someone who can commit. And that someone isn't Casey."

"Why can't it be Casey!?" She shouted. I jumped at her raised voice than pulled her back into a hug.

"Because that's not who she is. And there are just some things about people you can never change."