In The Cards
by Danni Price
eBook ISBN: 07272-02344
[ Paranormal Romance ]
After an eerie tarot card reading he finds himself reunited with two sisters from his past.
Note: This title has no chapter breaks. Enjoy the first scene.
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“I don’t wanna go.” Ben’s broad shoulders sagged.
“If you live in my house, you follow my rules.” His pint-sized mother slung her ancient leather purse over one shoulder.
“Your house?” He sent her a pointed look.
The gray haired tyrant rolled her eyes and headed to the front door.
A pounding started at the base of his skull. Logic didn’t count for much with his mom, especially when she got an idea stuck in her head. He checked to make sure he had his cell and wallet before following her out the door to the large wrap-around porch of their Victorian style house.
“Can I at least drive?” His back ached at the thought of squeezing himself into her sorry excuse for a car.
“No. I hate that great hulking truck of yours.” She patted his arm and looked into his eyes. “What’s the matter, honey? Don’t you feel well?” She yanked all 6’ 3” of him down to her level to check his temperature with the back of her hand.
“I’m fine.” He swatted her hand away, resigned to his fate. He circled around to the other side and climbed into his mother’s Barbie car.
“Ben, you’d better stop this sulking before we get to Miss Amelia’s.” His mother wagged a finger at him.
Knees smashed up against the dash of the little sports car, he almost dislocated his shoulder in an attempt to adjust the seat. The damn thing budged a few inches, but he’d managed to buckle the seatbelt. “I’m not sulking. I’m in pain.”
His mother rolled her eyes yet again as she turned the key in the ignition. He settled into his seat for the twenty minute drive to the quack psychic his mother chose to waste her money on. Classic rock blared over the radio adding to his rapidly worsening headache. None too soon, they pulled up to the small, brightly colored building with a garish handprint painted on the side.
She jumped out of the car and marched toward the entryway of the single story structure. One of her sneaker-clad feet tapped out an impatient beat while he pried himself out of the torturous little tin can masquerading as a car. Free at last, he placed his hand on the small of his back and stretched. “Do we have to do this?”
Her eyes filled with a familiar, but unwelcome tenderness. “Yes. You’ve been hiding from the world for years now, and it needs to end.”
“I’m not hiding.” He huffed out a breath and crossed his arms.
His mother grinned. When he only stared back at her, she swallowed the smile and reached for one of his hands. “You don’t have friends anymore. It’s not a good thing how much you keep to yourself.”
“I have friends.” He looked away.
One of her hands, soft and perfumed but strong, cupped his cheek. She forced his face forward. “Those people you talk to online, through your games… they don’t count.”
He winced. “Alright, Mom. Whatever you want.”
With a gentle pat on his cheek, she stepped away and walked into the building. He followed.
The moment they crossed the threshold, he stared in amazement. Miss Amelia’s Emporium of the Esoteric stood abandoned except for the woman herself, who watched the local news at the far end of the waiting room. Clean and furnished with a comfortable looking, dark brown couch and several matching chairs, the place could have been considered almost ordinary except for the decorations. Oddities covered most of the walls, and paintings of puffy white clouds dominated the ceiling.
While he studied what appeared to be a visual aid for acupuncture, his mother maneuvered the psychic to where he stood.
“Amelia, this is my son Ben.”
Plump and somewhere north of fifty, Miss Amelia wore a flowing dark blue dress covered in bright yellow moons, stars, and suns. She sent him an easy smile, and he instantly liked the comfortable looking woman. How had she ended up in such a god-awful place? “It’s nice to meet you, ma’am.”
“What a handsome boy. Why didn’t tell me he was so good looking?” The fortuneteller admonished her regular client and professed friend with a slap on the arm before ushering them into an adjacent room. Unlike the lobby, the walls in the side room were bare and painted an uninspired shade of beige. His mother hurried along behind them.
Pausing, Amelia rested a hand on his forearm. “Readings can be private. Do you want your mother to wait outside?”
“Is this like a doctor-patient confidentiality thing?” He wiped the smile off his face after seeing the serious expressions the two women wore. “She can stay. It was her idea, after all.”
Amelia squeezed the arm she’d commandeered earlier. “What a sweet boy you are.”
He stiffened and muttered, “I’m thirty.”
Amelia laughed. “Yes dear, but since I’m old enough to be your mother, you’ll always be a boy to me.”
Embarrassment heated his cheeks, and Ben fell silent. He found himself seated at a small, unadorned table with a deck of tarot cards in front of him. Black with a gold trim, they were a bigger than a deck of playing cards but plainer than he’d expected. Amelia sat down opposite him and his mother hovered over one of his shoulders.
When Amelia directed him, he cut the cards three times to the left. Amelia drew three cards and placed them face down on the scarred wooden table. He studied her face. The first card made a soft clicking noise as she flipped it over. A small sigh from the fortuneteller was the only indication of concern. Click, the second card turned over, and now her brows lowered in apparent concentration. With the third and final click, she frowned and bit the corner of her lip.
“That bad huh?” Ben asked in mock seriousness as he glanced down at the table. The little paintings on the cards were pretty enough but meant a whole lot of nothing to him.
After a few moments, she morphed back into the harmless mother figure. “This is a three card layout. One card for your past, present and future.” When he nodded in understanding, she continued. “The first card is The Empress, and it’s reversed. Typically, this indicates a woman and a disruption in your life, particularly your love life.”
Behind him, his mother gasped. “Jane.”
He scowled over his shoulder, and her mouth snapped shut. The card featured a beautiful pregnant woman standing in a field of grain. He touched the worn corner of the little bit of pressed cardboard and frowned. “My fiancée died in a car accident several years ago.” He tried and failed to ignore the ache in his chest at the memory.
Amelia stared at him as if she could will him to say more. Instead, he pointed to the second card. The image reflected a man holding a golden apple in one hand while standing before three beautiful women.
“The Lovers is your present situation. It can be a good omen if you let it. If you can move beyond your past. It depends on your ability to make the right choice.”
He smiled at the irony. “What choice? I don’t have a single woman to choose from, let alone three.” He waved his hand over the card.
Still so infuriatingly calm, Amelia said, “Present can mean later today or even sometime this week, and it doesn’t have to be that kind of choice.”
Finally, she tapped the last card with her pointed finger. “This is the one that worries me. It’s The Tower. Something is going to come into your life to challenge you. Again, it can be good or bad. It’ll all depend on the choices you make.”
He looked down. Damn. The card depicted a man with a trident, who he assumed was Poseidon, destroying a lone tower in the middle of the sea. “How the hell can that possibly be good?” The ghastly thing mesmerized him.
Her hands covered his. “Destruction is part of life, and sometimes it’s the only way we can grow as spiritual beings.”
“Thanks for your time, but this was a mistake.” Why in the hell had he even come? The last thing he needed was a lecture about moving past losing the love of his life from a so-called psychic. He charged out of the room.
His mouth dropped open. Six beautiful women filled the previously empty lobby. In unison, the ladies turned toward him with predatory smiles.
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