It's the Friday before Christmas, and I'm getting ready to finish up the last of the wrapping, and then I'm on to writing, but before I go, here is a little treat. The first chapter in "A Gypsy's Kiss." It still needs some work, but I'm excited to share it anyway.
If you leave a comment below, and don't forget your email, I'll enter your name into a drawing to win a signed paperback of Whisper Cape. USA only though. Sorry, those international mailing rates are very steep. Hope you understand. But have no fear, I still have something for you international lovers of romance, so go ahead and comment for a free copy of the audiobook. I'll pick a winner on January 2, 2015.
A Gypsy’s Kiss
A Sectorium Novel
I placed the last tarot card of the spread on the table, a woman bound and blindfolded, her eyes covered, standing among eight swords—the eighth card in the suit of swords. “Bad news and conflict,” I whispered mostly to myself, not wanting to say them too loud for fear the girl sitting across the table from me might hear them.
The card before that had been the eighth card in the suit of wands—reversed. Arrows of jealousy, quarrels and domestic disputes. Things were not looking good. Damn.
I glanced at Lea, her eyes had been so filled with hope until a few seconds ago, but now that I’d given her the meaning behind the cards, her mouth dipped down slightly at the corners.
Taking into consideration, her question, which was, “Will I get married this year?” I came to the conclusion that the answer was a big, fat definite no.
“I’m sorry, Lea. The cards are just not falling your way today.”
She slouched her shoulders and her head lowered, closing her eyes as long dark lashes splayed across the tops of her cheeks. Lea was a pretty girl. Long dark brown hair that she always wore back in a ponytail made her eyes seem wide and sultry. We weren’t super close friends, but I liked her and she’d been in my psychology class last semester, plus we hung out sometimes when neither one of us had anything better to do. Lea was a quiet girl who kept to herself most of the time. Pretty much like me, the sticking to herself part, definitely not the quiet part.
Leaning her elbow on the edge of the table, she placed her hand to her forehead and leaned into it. “I figured as much. Brad, the guy I’ve been dating dumped me last night.”
“Oh. Sorry. That blows.” Not the best way to start out a new semester. I didn’t have much else to say on the subject. My one and only experience in relationships had been brief to say the least. I’d been out with several guys over the past couple of years, but no one ever stuck around once they realized I didn’t feel comfortable touching them. Hell, touching them was beyond the issue. I couldn’t even hold their hand. In truth, I’ve had a languishing loneliness most of my life, fearful of never having that connection with someone—someone I could hold or better yet, could hold me. In fact, I yearned to have that touch. My parents had it. They must have, otherwise, how would they have made me? I wanted to reach out and touch Lea’s hand now, just to give her some support, but I knew if I did I’d see everything that would happen to her over the next twelve hours. Not to mention, she would see them as well, and that was something I just couldn’t let happen.
There was no way I could ever divulge my abilities. Secrets were a necessary fact of life for me, and those who were like me. Like me, meaning those with a “supernatural” ability. To me, my abilities were normal, but to the masses, I’d be considered weird or worse yet, dangerous. As my uncle Cael once said, “People are afraid of what they don’t understand.” Though I’d never had the unfortunate experience of knowing firsthand about that, I believed him, considering some of the things he’d been through protecting our secrets. But that’s a story for another time.
My abilities were always evolving and changing, all of ours were. Some gifts I’ve had since I was small, like seeing twelve hours into someone’s future whenever my skin came in contact with someone else’s. My ability to see into the future had always been a pain to me. As a small child I wore gloves most of the time. It’s not so bad seeing someone’s future, if only I didn’t transfer that image back to them in the process. That’s what used to get me into big trouble when I was little. A little girl, seeing grownups doing grown-up things, private grown-up things if you get my meaning, wasn't exactly a good thing according to my grandmother. Well, my adopted grandmother. My parents had been murdered by some wacked out maniac when I'd only been five years old. Grams, Siana Sheridan, took me in since I had no other living relatives. Her son, Cael who I'd always thought of as my uncle because he was so much older than me, had been my dad's best friend. He'd been single at the time and very busy protecting our secret society known as The Sectorium. He wasn’t in a very good position for taking care of a young girl. So, his mother did.
I took up fortune-telling last year shortly after I developed a new and enhanced ability to see into someone’s future just by touching something that they had touched. That’s another good reason for the money exchange. Once they handed me the money, I saw everything I needed to see. The good thing about this new ability was I could turn it off and on whenever I wanted to. I still had the problem with touching someone skin to skin, but I made sure I never did that. I always wore long sleeves. Even in the summer my arms were covered with sheer, light-weight material. If anyone asked, I'd tell him or her that I sunburned very easily, or sometimes, I'd make up some outlandish tale about a skin disease. I was home schooled most of my life, but Grams agreed to let me try real school one year. I'd been twelve and extremely annoyed with all the questions about why I wore gloves and long sleeves all the time. I told one girl who'd been so insistent I tell her why, that I was born part vampire and my skin was so sensitive to the sun that it would blister if directly exposed just to shut her up. That one was fun until she told her mother and her mother told the teacher, and well, you can guess the outcome of that.
Most people who came to me for readings figured it was just a fun thing to do, something I made up, or a joke. But the money helped supplement some of the finer things in life, like books and clothes; clothes that weren’t in the budget from the money Grams sent every month. I was a book nerd on top of everything else, something most likely derived from my years of spending so much time alone as a child. But I loved reading and whenever I had time in-between my studies I read romance novels, mostly paranormal romance. You’d be surprised how many paranormal books come close to real life. People just don’t know about it yet.
I glanced up a Lea, tears began to run down her flushed cheeks. “Listen, Lea, these cards don’t mean squat, really,” I lied, sort of. The cards didn’t always tell the exact truth, but for some reason, this time they did. I knew when she handed me the twenty dollar bill at the beginning of the session that marriage wasn’t going to happen for her. At least not this year. “You and Brad might get back together,” I added after touching the card she’d picked up and placed back down. I had a vision of Lea and Brad talking later that day. “Weddings take a lot of planning you know, and well, if you two don’t get married this year, maybe you will next year.”
She shook her head. “No. I won’t be marrying Brad. I saw him kissing someone else. At first, he tried to convince me that he didn’t do it on purpose. He said the girl kissed him and before he realized what was happening he was kissing her back. He said it didn’t mean anything. I stormed off and wouldn’t talk to him. Last night, he told me he didn’t want to marry me anymore.”
I felt bad for her, but I knew she’d find someone else soon. She was pretty, and even though she was quiet, guys were always hanging around her trying to get to know her. I should be so lucky. I almost offered to give back her twenty dollars, but then hey, a girl needs her extracurricular activities and money to support them.
The tears poured from her eyes and she stood and ran out of the room. I got up to chase after her, to try to console her some more, though I wasn’t sure how. When I reached the dark bedroom door, I smacked right into a wall of a guy just entering. His hands gripped my arms to help keep me from toppling backwards.
“Sorry, are you okay?” he asked.
I looked up into pools of green and smoky grey. The guy’s left eye was green and the right one was grey. A beautiful face housed those two eyes, and I had trouble finding my voice. It wasn’t every day that a gorgeous guy held onto me. In fact, it had never happened.
“Um … are you alright?” he enquired again.
I nodded, finding my voice, I managed a squeaky, “Yes.” I wanted to stay and find out who this guy was, but I needed to go after Lea. “Excuse me, I have to go,” I said, turning to run after her.
“Wait, are you the girl who reads cards?”
I stopped in my tracks and turned back to him. “Yes,” I said, glancing back down the dark hallway as Lea turned the corner. I briefly wondered if she would leave or stay at the party a little longer so I could talk to her again. I was torn between consoling Lea and staying to talk to Mister Green and Grey Eyes. The eyes won. “I do read, for a fee,” I added. Though I would probably have read his for free just to find out who he was.
“Do you have time for a reading now?”
Giving the empty hallway a glance and hoping I’d catch up with Lea in a little while or maybe tomorrow, I led him back over to the square card table I had set up with my cards. I’d spread out a small black table cloth, bunching it up a little in the middle around a glass globe I’d found at some fair I’d gone to for affect. After all, it was Halloween and this was a Halloween party. The globe went well with the fortune-teller ruse and the outfit I’d decided to wear, a low cut black bustier over a puffy sleeved blouse gave me a bit more cleavage than I actually possessed and went very well with the long purple and green flowing skirt. Coins dangled from the scarf I’d fashioned around my waist, and I wore a matching scarf on my head, covering most of my dark hair. I looked the part I’d been hired to play and that made the sorority ladies very happy.
I was hired for this sorority’s Halloween party as an attraction. Bookings like this helped pay for some of those extras I needed and it also helped bring in new customers. I usually set up inside my apartment. I enjoyed living off campus, a luxury set up by my Grams. These gigs helped to acquire a customer base, and I needed the extra cash. This guy was my first new customer this evening.
I sat and gestured for him to sit across from me.
“It’s twenty dollars.”
“Your name is Breana? He asked, pronouncing the end like Anna..
“No, it’s Breena, just one a.” I smiled.
“My name’s Hawk,” he said and reached into his pocket to pull out a twenty dollar bill.
He shrugged his shoulders; tilting his head to the side he gave me a sexy half grin. No explanation, just a cocky grin as he handed the money to me. I clasped the bill between my thumb and forefinger, expecting to see a vision of some sort about Hawk, but … nothing happened. I shot my eyes to his in shocked dismay. I crunched the twenty dollars in my fist hoping that would spark a vision, but still nothing. Why hadn’t I seen his future? Something was wrong.
Placing the money in my pocket, I studied his features. His eyes, both different made it difficult to choose his Significator card. I decided to go with his dark hair and combined his two colored eyes into hazel as my guide. I picked the King of Swords and placed it in the center between us.
“The King of Swords represents you. The fact that you have dark hair and well, eyes of two different colors,” I said with a bit of chagrin as his eyes stared at me with a mixture of amusement and was that … intrigue? “I had to go with hazel,” I breathed out the rest of that sentence feeling a bit vulnerable. I had no idea what was up with this guy because I got nothing after taking the money from his hand. His eyes were so beautifully unusual, I had trouble concentrating on what came next. Luckily, nothing too hard as I swiftly gathered up the deck of cards and began to shuffle them. Cutting the deck after the shuffle and repeating the process three times. I did this slowly to give me more time to think about—or not think about—why I didn’t see a vision. He sat quietly and watched me.
“What question did you want to ask me?”
He smiled. “A few are running through my mind right now, but they can wait.” I smiled and fingered a lose strand of my hair behind my ear. For some reason, he made me nervous. “I need to know if someone is following me.”
“Huh?” That wasn’t a question I’d been expecting. Nor one I’d ever been asked before. Usually, guys wanted to know about classes, grades, or mostly sports. Occasionally, they wanted to know about a particular chick they were interested in, but it was mostly about sports. And the way this guy was built, I truly expected a question about some athletic activity he was going to be starring in because I was all up for watching and cheering.
“I think my life is in a state of, let me say, energy flux right now, and I need to know why.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t understand.” Energy flux? Not many normal people would use a term such as energy flux and I had to wonder if he came to me because he knew something about me, or maybe he possibly had some ability of his own.
“You don’t need to understand,” he shot back, his voice sounding a bit too curt.
I gave him a don’t-be-rude look and he rolled his eyes. “Sorry, look, I just need to know if someone is looking for me or following me, okay?”
“I don’t know if the cards can tell you that, but I think we can get some sort of idea from the way they appear.”
“Good.” He nodded his head and straightened his shoulders. His chest was broad and his arms were significantly larger than most of the guys around campus. A glimpse of a tattoo peeked out from the sleeve of his shirt. It was hard to make out what it was, but it looked like the tip end of a wing or something. I wanted to see the rest of it and wondered…
I placed the first card over his Significator. “This is the second card of swords. This is what covers you,” I explained. “The influence card. It sets the atmosphere for what comes next. This card represents equipoise, balance, suggesting courage and friendship. Sometimes,” I lowered my eyes to avoid his, “affection and intimacy.” As I placed the second card across the first, I explained its meaning. The next seven cards were similar in meaning. Giving me a clear indication that this guy was either very sensual in nature, or had a very sexual background. I swallowed and placed the eighth card down and gasped silently. This card did not go with the others at all. My eyes caught his as he studied me, his eyebrows knitted together like he knew what I was thinking. “This is the tower card, it … is facing straight.” I swallowed. My body was tingling with heat and I wished desperately for a cool breeze. Last thing I needed was Hawk seeing me sweat. I wiped my fingers between my eyes feeling the moisture accumulating there.
“Go on,” he coaxed.
I bit my bottom lip and pointed at the card. I drew in a breath. “This card is predicting misery and distress. But it’s strange that it would appear so suddenly when all the other cards were so intimate.”
He sighed and rubbed his hand on his thigh. I couldn’t actually see that, because of the table, but figured that was what he was doing as his arm moved back and forth. A nervous reaction I assumed. There were two more cards to go, and I prayed that the next two would be good cards. I laid the ninth card down and wished I could retract it. “It’s the moon card.” I looked up at his face.
“And?” he asked sounding a bit impatient.
I didn’t blame him, I was stalling. “The moon card, in this position, represents darkness, terror, and … occult forces.”
He sat back. “I knew it. There’s one more card, right?”
“Go ahead. Turn it over.”
I laid the last tarot card on the table, another freakin’ card of doom. For the second time today, the eighth card of swords has come up, this time in reverse.
I needed to see a vision because a lot could happen in twelve hours and for him, it could mean death. A shrill of ice snaked down my spine, and on impulse, I took his hand in mine and turned it over so he would think I was reading his palm, not something I normally did to strangers, but something told me I needed to know more about him. “Let me see if I can read your palm.” The brunt force of what I saw or should say didn’t see almost knocked me out of my chair, but I managed to keep myself steady as an unsual vellicating sensation skimmed up my arm.
Hawk quickly tugged his hand away as if I had leprosy. “What’s wrong?” he asked, his face a mixture of confusion and fear.
“I don’t know,” I admitted. I didn’t see the next twelve hours of his life flash before my eyes, so I know he didn’t see it either. My secret remained safe, but I couldn’t see his future and that worried me. Extremely. Not that I liked the cursed so called gift, but it was my bread and butter these days. If I couldn’t see his future, could I also not see anyone else’s anymore? The way he yanked his hand away so fast made me wonder why, because I was sure I hadn’t given any indication that I had any special ability to see into the future, and I felt a bit dejected by his quick removal. Maybe he thought I was being forward or something. That thought bothered me too, because if he had thought that, and pulled away, then that meant he wasn’t interested in me. Not the way I’d hoped.
I stole a quick glance at the hot guy sitting across from me, not wanting to say the dreaded word, death, and my eyes caught a fleeting glimpse of darkness skate across the room behind him. A shadow fell over him—and only him—wrapping him in a shroud of grey. Since we were inside one of the guest rooms in the sorority house with just the glow of a few candles, a shadow seemed unlikely. I glanced around to see who or what was near to cast the darkness, but the room was empty except for the two of us. When I looked back at his face, the darkness was gone. What the hell was that?
“Well, by the look on your face, something is wrong,” he said slowly reaching toward my hand again, but this time I yanked it off the table and quickly picked up the cards so he couldn’t touch me. I didn’t think I could handle another non-glimpse of someone’s future when I surely should have seen his. Then I had to ask myself why he wanted to touch me again.The whole experience with this guy had me completely unraveled.