Ch. 1: Welcome Wagon

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"Is that a fact?"

"That's a fact," Darla Selfridge said to her nineteen-year-old twin brother, Dash. "Three breasts."

"No," Dash said and took a pull from his pint bottle of Selfridge's Own. Half corn sour mash and half mystic water from the Selfridge's underground well, it went down smooth. He wiped his mouth on the back of his hand. Then, he turned and watched as a pretty brunette in a bikini top walked by and down Liberty Street, the main drag of Sunshine Beach.

The first day of Memorial Day weekend and the party people were already out in force. Renting rooms by the week. Hanging in the surf shops. Nosh-nosh-noshing in the restaurants. It was all coeds. Beach bodies. Tourists. It was like all of South Carolina was a winter slingshot and summer let it fly. Shops were reopening. Bars. Nightclubs. The Boardwalk. And SB was ready to ply its trade, arms wide open. That meant good times, great nights and most importantly, money. For the town sure, but for bootleggers like the Selfridges, most definitely.

Darla wapped Dash on his meaty shoulder and he stopped just before another swallow. "Are you listening to me?"

"Yeah," he said, head turning once more to follow a redhead in Daisy Dukes. "But, it's bullshit. Has to be."

"Nah, I'm serious," Darla said, pulling her long brown hair into a ponytail. "Witches have an extra teat and the Wyatt Family women are witches so they have three breasts."

Dash passed Darla the bottle. Small in stature, she reached up, grabbed it and took a hefty swig.

"I'd like to see that," Dash said, smirking. His gold tooth twinkled in the sun.

"See, I don't think you do," Darla said. "Is the third under one of the standard two? Is it on top of it? To the side? I'm not into chicks but if I was, I think the whole thing would skeeve me out."

Across the street, a clutch of twenty-something guys and gals walked by and entered Pete's Saloon. The Selfridge twins, having just made their delivery of Selfridge's Own, and now in the parking lot, sat back against their panel van and watched them go. Man, this year's crop of summer people was banging. And the summer hasn't even started.

"Then why bring it up?" Dash asked, eyeing a redhead in pedal pushers. "Two tits, three tits. The fuck you care?"

"Can't trust a woman who doesn't have the right amount of parts. It's fishy."

"The truce has been in effect for four years as of today," Dash said. "Everybody's making money. Nobody's getting beat up or killed by Wyatt magic or Selfridge psionics. And nobody outside our families knows about our abilities. Sunshine Beach is an oasis. You're always looking for problems."

"Am not," Darla pouted. "Cousin Virgil still ain't allowed back in Sunshine Beach and Cousin Lizzy is still dead. Or did you forget?"

"I ain't forgot," Dash said taking the bottle. "But, that's why we got to have the truce. You remember why Virgil had to clear town? You wanna go back to that?"

For a second, she considered it then said, "No. I just don't like them Wyatts. With their spooky magic and Wyatt Brand bootleg rum. They're the competition for Chrissakes. I know Uncle Brandon is all like, 'We made a deal. There's room for both of us,' but fuck that. You know? Family is family."

A Ford pickup pulled into the Pete's Saloon parking lot and the driver killed the engine. Dash's eyes settled on it but when the glare from the driver's side mirror beamed at him, he turned back to Darla.

"Look," Dash said. "We're rolling out the new batch this weekend. There's no way the Wyatt's liquor can stack up against our own. Pretty soon, we'll be putting them out of business. The right way. With no bloodshed."

"Yeah, whatever. Pass me the hooch."

Dash forked it over and Darla took another glug. A couple of hard bodies walked by then down the street. College kids probably. Darla looked at one guy with particularly impressive pecs and practically growled.

"Come on, big sister," Dash ribbed. "Let's you and me blow off afternoon chores. I say we hit the boardwalk and see if we can't go score us some tail. Then, we take the long way back to the farm."

There'd be hell to pay. Brandon Selfridge did not suffer fools. But, they could just say there was beach traffic and probably that wouldn't even be a lie.

Dash took the bottle from his sister and brought it up to his lips. He paused as a coltish blonde woman, probably in her early thirties and very tattooed, got out of the pickup. She dropped her keys after locking the door and bent down to pick them up.

"Now, that is what I'm talking about," Dash said. "You see the ass on her?"

Darla scrunched her face. "It's not that great."

"Are you kidding?" Dash said and the blonde stood up straight. "That's like a perfect apple. You know what I could do with..."

"Probably not mu- What is it?"

All the color had drained from Dash's face. He lowered the bottle and it slipped from his hand and shattered on the pavement. The blonde headed for Pete's Saloon and Dash watched her go.

"What?" Darla said. "What is it?"

"That woman," Dash said. "The blonde."

"What about her?"

"That's Mac Wyatt."

"No way," Darla said, eyes squinting, then going wide. Her mouth loosened at the hinges. "That can't be. She's not allowed back to Sunshine Beach. The truce. That was the condition. Virgil had to go. And so did that backstabbing bitch."

"The whole truce could fall apart," Dash said. "We gotta go tell Uncle Brandon. He's gonna be pissed."

"Forget Uncle Brandon. We gotta take care of this before Cousin Gregg finds out. He's gonna fucking murder somebody."

"Fuck," Dash said, knowing she was right. "You see if she's still wearing that damn invisibility ring?"

"Can't tell.  But, you know what we gotta do," Darla said and balled a fist.

And having had the entire conversation in their heads via their telepathy, their one psychic power, Dash said out loud, "Go get the knives."

———

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