OMG it’s the 1st of May. Do you know what that means? Karma releases in 4 days. I had no idea a release day could be so freaking exciting and so damn scary at the same time. I’ve been up all night, trying to get some much needed sleep, but all I could think of was: Will they love it? Will they hate it?
Well, you tell me…. Here’s Chapter 1:
An electric hum charges the chilly air. The ghostly light of a bulb flickers. Seconds later, I gaze into Baphomet’s onyx eyes. He lingers over a naked couple chained to his harpy feet, guarding them like a sphinx, imprisoning them like a warden.
“Oh my freakin’ gosh! Is that…Is that the devil?” Redhead screams. The look on her high-school-queen- bee face is priceless.
I take a deep breath. “Yes,” I say, swallowing the laughter that crawls up my throat. “It’s the devil.”
Redhead presses a palm against her chest. “Sweet baby Jesus. Does that mean I’m…I’m going to hell?” Her otherwise brown aura, indicating self-absorption, is gray. In other words, she’s petrified.
The chick is obviously not the sharpest tool in the shed, and I doubt hell recruits stupid cheerleaders. I fake a smile and wave her question off. “Nah, don’t worry. In the tarot, the devil represents desire and passion.” I point to the card deck. “Draw another one.”
Her delicate fingers fly over the cards, and she pulls the sixth major arcana card out of the pile. The lovers.
Redhead’s sapphire eyes gleam. “I know what that means. He loves me, right?”
The devil and the lovers? That’s as bad as a relationship can get. When her fingers accidently brush mine, I get a glimpse of how bad it’ll be.
The fluorescent lights of the ER blinded Redhead. Closing her eyes, she reminded herself this was her fault. She should have never asked him about the other girl. She’d gotten a taste of his temper before and knew better than to challenge him. But that damn jealousy had gotten the best of her.
“Can you hear me?” the doctor asked, worried.
She wanted to answer, wanted to tell him she was fine, but she could hardly breathe. It felt like the air hit an invisible wall inside her bleeding nose. Parting her bruised lips, she gasped for oxygen, but the taste of sanitizer made her sick.
“Miss Rosewood, can you hear me?” The doctor’s rich voice hammered through her brain.
She swallowed the pins and needles in her throat. “Yes.”
“How did this happen?”
Every muscle in her body tensed. “I…I…fell.”
I shake the brutal vision off. Every fortune-teller with a conscience would tell Redhead to stay the hell away from this guy. The thing is, if I tell her the truth, she’ll accuse me of lying, and being called a liar is the doom of a clairvoyant. Luckily, I don’t have a conscience.
“You guys are star-crossed lovers.”
“Really?” she squeaks, like the dumb cheerleader she is.
“Yeah, course. Even Romeo and Juliet would envy you guys.” If she doesn’t hear the sarcasm in my voice, she totally deserves someone who’ll beat the crap out of her. Besides, the whole Romeo and Juliet reference should put her on high alert. Yeah, I know, people think of them as the ultimate couple. But did they actually read the play? Let’s summarize their fate: first Romeo wants Rosalind. Why? Because she’s a nun, and guys dig things they can’t have. Then Juliet, another forbidden fruit, comes along. Unfortunately, she’s dumb enough to fall for his shit, and bada bing, bada boom, they both end up dead. Some call that romantic. I prefer stupid.
Her aura radiates fifty shades of red. Making an educated guess, I’d say she didn’t get the hint. Hey, at least I tried.
Pleased, she pulls a hundred-dollar bill from her bag and puts it on the table. “You’re amazing.”
“I know,” I reply flatly before shoving the money in my black lace bra. “Now get out and send the next one in.”
The chick doesn’t even mind my rudeness. “Thanks. Thank you so much.” She sounds like a broken record, and I breathe a sigh of relief when the door slams shut behind her.
Waiting for my next client, I gather the cards. The foulness of the air bugs me a little. I hate rundown motel rooms, but they add to the mystery, and in my business, it’s all about being mysterious. Harpers Ferry is my third stop in the last two weeks. Small town folk are good clients. They hunger for the perfect house, perfect husband, perfect kids. If they could, they’d even try to breed the perfect dog. No need to say this makes me perfectly sick. But beggars can’t be choosers, and all I need is another five hundred bucks, and then I can kiss my old life goodbye.
A faint knock, then the door swings open. My next client is a middle-aged woman accompanied by her daughter. What kind of a mother drags her kid to a fortune-teller? I straighten and wave them over. The little girl is about ten, but she still sucks her thumb.
“Are you a witch?” the blonde angel asks, precariously.
I totally prefer the term Wise Independent Tremendously Charismatic Human, but before I get a chance to clarify, her mother interferes. “They said you could help us.”
They? Who the heck are they? And did she just say help them? Who the hell does she think I am, Mother Theresa? “You want to know if your daughter will become the next Miss America, am I right?” A little sarcasm never hurts.
The woman steps closer. The flames of the black candles shed light on her wrinkled face. “Please kill my husband,” she says, throwing a bundle of hundreds on the table. My guess is about ten thousand dollars.
“Lady, I’m a fortune-teller, not an assassin,” I say, never taking my eyes off the money.
“You’re a witch.”
I cock a brow. “Still not an assassin.”
“He hurts her,” she whispers, pointing to the kid.
I know he does. I’d sensed her heartache the moment they walked in. I might tell lies for a living, but I tend to see the truth when no one else does. The aura of the little girl is a dark, muddy gray, evidence of a broken soul.
“Call the cops and get a divorce.”
The woman pushes the little girl in my lap. “Please, I’m begging you. Help her.”
Hazel eyes, clouded with misery and sorrow, look right through me. That son of a bitch robbed her of her innocence and left her drowning in self-hatred. Shivers run down my spine. Shit. I have no intention of bearing witness to the bastard’s barbaric crime. It’s a real shame visions don’t ask for permission.
She stared at the gleaming stars on her ceiling. Her mother had put them there to keep the darkness at bay, but it didn’t work. The room was gloomy. She knew the monster would come for her. It would look like her dad, but that was just a disguise. Her real dad would never do such things to her. He loved her. She thought of the puppy he’d once bought for her and the places he had taken her. A monster could never be so kind.
The creaking of the wooden door stopped her heart. She pulled the blanket over her head and started to count.
One, two, three. The blanket pulled back. Four, five six.
A wet kiss. Seven, eight, nine.
“I love you, princess.”
I push the fragile body of the girl away. Her pain. Her destiny. I don’t give a shit about any of it. “Take your money and get the hell outta here.”
The woman’s jaw drops. “But—”
I hold my hand up. “Out! Now.”
The little girl’s gaze drops to her pink ballerina flats. Her disappointment floats through the dark room, leaving traces of hate and sadness in the air.
“You said she’d make him stop,” she says as her mother hauls her to the door.
Don’t. This is none of your business. Let them go.
I heave a sigh. “Wait.”
They spin around. Hope flickers across the mother’s face. The woman makes me sick. How dare she call herself a mother? She knows what her husband is up to. Why on earth did she never try to stop him? I remind myself this isn’t about her. It’s about the little girl.
“What’s your name?” I ask the kid.
“Jamie,” she replies, voice weak and broken.
I wave her over. When she doesn’t move, her mother grabs her by the wrist and pulls her toward me. Ruthless bitch. Can’t she see her daughter is terrified?
Mother of the Year is probably expecting me to cast a spell or torment a voodoo doll. Yeah, you kinda get the wrong idea about magic when you’ve watched too many Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. But real magic doesn’t come cheap. I wonder if the ruthless bitch is ready to pay the price.
I pull Jamie’s rigid body closer and put my forefinger on her third eye. The kid is already damaged beyond repair, but what I’m about to do will kill a piece of her soul forever.
“Close your eyes, Jamie.”
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