Authors: Kari Lee Townsend
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective
“Oh, my. Thank you. I adore chocolate.” She ate the dark square before responding. “Actually, I’m here with my knitting group. We call ourselves the Knitting Nanas. We’re from the city, but we like to get out and explore the small towns within driving distance every summer. This year we chose Divinity, and I have to say it’s just darling.”
“Thank you. We like to think so.” It felt good saying
, like I finally belonged here.
I’d moved to Divinity from the big city to start over nearly six months ago last January. In my book that was long enough to call myself a local, even though some people would like to forget I existed since two murders had happened after my arrival. But all was good now, at least I hoped so. Divinity certainly didn’t need any more drama.
Frankly, neither did I.
“You picked the perfect weekend since today is the opening day of our Summer Solstice Carnival,” I added, focusing on more positive things.
“Well, then, it’s my lucky day. The girls are at the craft tent, of course, but I couldn’t resist your gazebo. I’ve always wanted to have my tarot cards read, but Phillip would never allow anything like that.” Her face looked pinched when she spoke of him. “Now that he’s gone, I do what I want.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
“Trust me, darling, it was no loss. He’s too ornery to die and leave me, so I left him with half his money. I—”
I held up my hand. “Wait. Don’t tell me any more, or there won’t be anything left for the reading,” I interjected, sensing this woman could talk for hours.
“Oh, my. You’re so right. My mouth runs away from me sometimes.” She pretended to lock her lips and throw away the key, but then she spoke again anyway, as though it killed her to do anything less. “What do we do first?”
“First we center ourselves by breathing deeply and calming our minds and bodies.” I showed her how, and she followed along with me. “Then we ground ourselves by seeing ourselves connected to the earth and pulling the earth’s energy into our core.” She did as I did, and I asked the universe to guide me and help me hear and see my vision clearly. “Can I have your permission to connect with your Higher Self?”
She blinked. “I guess…yes. Yes, you may.” She nodded once, sharply, with renewed conviction.
“Good. Place your hands in front of me with your palms up, please.”
She did so without hesitation this time. I slid my hands over hers with my palms down until they lightly touched. I closed my eyes and focused on Fiona, allowing my Higher Self to talk to hers. “I ask for guidance during this reading and that the connection between us remain intact until the reading is complete.” Then I removed my hands from hers.
I opened my eyes and focused on her. “Now, I would like you to ask a question you are seeking the answers to.”
“Oh, this is so exciting.” She stared off in deep concentration, then said, “I’ve got one. I would like to know if I am going to have an exciting vacation this week.”
“Let’s see what the cards have to say. There are several spreads in tarot reading and many ways to interpret the cards. I am going to use a three-card spread for this reading.” I shuffled the cards three times, and then I placed them facedown one at a time on the silk scarf between us. “This first card represents your past. The middle card represents the present. And this last card represents your future.”
Fiona clapped her hands together. “Turn them over, please. I can’t wait anymore. The suspense is killing me.”
I stifled a chuckle and flipped the first card over. XIII Death stared back at me. “It’s the Death card,” I said calmly, already lost in concentration as I considered what it could mean for her in regard to her question.
Fiona gasped loudly and clutched at her heart with
both hands, nearly falling off the bench. “Oh, Lordy, I’m not ready to meet my maker.”
I glanced at her in surprise. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you,” I rushed to say as I reached out and patted her arm. “The Death card rarely means you will physically die. It simply means you have experienced a transformation or new beginning.”
“Honey, startled doesn’t begin to describe how I just felt.” She fanned her pale face. “At my age my heart can’t take a scare like that.”
“There’s nothing to be afraid of. The card represents the end of something people fear. Based on its position and on what you told me, I suspect this card is referring to the end of your marriage.” I squeezed her hand.
She blinked hard as though I’d touched a nerve, but she was too proud to admit it. “You’re good,” she said. “I thought I was doing a better job of covering my emotions.”
“It’s okay to be a little sad that your marriage has ended, and it’s okay to be afraid of starting over at this stage in your life. Change isn’t always a bad thing.”
She sniffed sharply and pursed her lips before saying, “Things could have been so different if a certain someone hadn’t ruined my life.” Her face hardened. “But the past is the past,” she muttered more to herself. “I’m ready to move on. Show me the next card please.”
“Good for you.” I turned over the middle card and X The Wheel of Fortune stared back at me. Change might not always be a bad thing, but it wasn’t always a good thing, either. I frowned.
“Why are you frowning? What’s wrong now?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe nothing. This is the Wheel of Fortune card.”
Fiona squealed in delight. “Now, that’s more like it. Nothing wrong with that card. I love to gamble. Love not knowing how things are going to turn out.”
“Then you’re going to love this card. The Wheel of Fortune means that random change is at hand. Only, wheels don’t always just turn on their own. Sometimes they are spun. When that happens, no one knows where it might stop. This card basically means your wheel is about to be spun, and things may be up in the air for a while.”
“I’m okay with that. I need for my world to be turned upside down a bit. I need some excitement.” She leaned forward and gave me a devilish look. “I need an adventure.”
“By the look of these cards, I think you’re about to have one. Let’s see what the last card has in store for you.” I turned over the last card, and XI Justice stared back at me. “Wow, this has been quite the reading.”
“How so?” she asked.
“All three of your cards have been part of the Major Arcana.”
“Major Arcana cards represent the big secrets or mysteries of your life. Whereas the Minor Arcana and court cards represent the smaller secrets and mysteries of your life. I’d say this reading is quite significant.”
“Good. Like I said, I’m ready for a big change.
You said the last card represents the future. What card did you draw for that?”
“Well, with all this change you’re about to experience, you will be forced to act. The Justice card represents the consequences of your actions. This card is not random at all, so think carefully about what you say and do this week. I know you want change, but Karma is a powerful beast….”
Everything around me suddenly blurred, and I fell into the same tunnel vision I always did when my psychic abilities took over. I could see into the future. I was in a woman’s body, but I couldn’t see who she was. I stood across from Fiona, holding a plate of cookies as she held a lemon meringue pie. She was staring down at the pie, looking sad. An overwhelming sense of loss radiated off her. A certain clarity hit me that lemon meringue had been her ex-husband Phillip’s favorite pie, and that he was the one who had left her, not the other way around.
The woman whose body I occupied started speaking, yanking Fiona from her memories, and suddenly we were in a heated argument. I couldn’t hear what words we were shouting at each other, but the feeling of animosity and anger toward Fiona was strong. And Fiona didn’t look any happier to be near the woman. Suddenly, Fiona threw the pie in my face, and a whispered vow coursed through my veins to get even with her at any cost….
“What is wrong with you? Did you see something?” Fiona asked, pulling me from my vision.
I blinked to wash away the darkness and resume my full sight, and then I cleared my throat. “I saw lemon meringue pie.”
I waited to see if she understood the significance and wanted to talk about it, but she stiffened her spine. I could see in her eyes that she knew I knew the truth. But that’s not what she came here for, so I let it go.
“You were arguing with someone you really didn’t like,” I went on.
“Oh, is that all?” She waved me away and sat back in relief as though arguing were as natural to her as breathing. “You had me worried for a minute. Who doesn’t have some enemies?”
I stared deeply into her eyes to make my point more important and hoped she heeded my warning about Karma. “Either you already have an enemy in your Knitting Nanas, or you will make one in town.”
“She already made one sixty-one years ago,” a familiar voice said from behind me.
I whirled around and said, “Granny Gert?” at the same moment that a red-faced Fiona surged to her feet and sputtered, “Gertie Nichols, what on earth are you doing here?”
“I live here, you nincompoop.” Granny ignored me as she untied her plastic rain cap and glared at the other woman. It didn’t matter that the weather was bright and sunny; Granny never rode in any car without her rain cap. “Fiona Atwater, get your frilly fanny out of my town!”
I gasped. That was as close to cussing as I’d ever
heard my granny get. Now Morty’s hissing made perfect sense. No one messed with his GG—aka Great Granny. My gaze shifted back and forth between the two, and the woman holding the cookies in my vision suddenly became crystal clear.
Granny Gert was Fiona’s enemy.
“How do you two know each other?” I asked, thoroughly confused.
“Just so you know, I’m not going anywhere, and
the nincompoop,” Fiona snapped back at Granny and then faced me. “You want to know how we know each other?” Fiona asked, then jabbed a finger in Granny’s direction as she said with pure bitterness, “Say hello to the woman who ruined my life.”
Later Friday night when the carnival had closed, I pulled into my driveway at the end of Shadow Lane and cut the engine to my old VW bug. She might have some rust spots in her white paint with the orange, yellow, and pink flowers on the side, but she had character. Unlike the monstrosity she sat next to: Granny’s brand-new sparkling white Cadillac.
Granny had finally gotten her license a couple of months ago. Everyone in town knew that when she was behind the wheel, it was best to duck and run for cover.
I shook my head on a chuckle and made my way inside of the fully furnished ancient Victorian house I’d bought for a steal six months ago because the townsfolk thought she was haunted. I’d nicknamed her Vicky
and had pretty much suspected the mysterious cat I’d found inside was the one doing the haunting. I couldn’t prove it, but with his jet black eyes and nearly glowing thick white fur, as well as his appearing and disappearing at lightning speeds and making mysterious things happen, I was convinced he was immortal.
he was remained a mystery, but he was mine…or I was his, since he’d sort of adopted me and had decided I could stay. Same with Granny. He’d allowed her to stay as well, and most of the time I was happy about that, but today my sweet little granny had acted like someone I didn’t even recognize.
After the incident with Fiona, Granny had stormed off without another word to join her Sewing Sisters. Fiona had done the same, leaving me with more questions than anything else. After that drama, I’d been packed with clients for the rest of the day. Most of them simply wanted the “scoop” rather than a reading of their own, which had resulted in one whopper of a headache for me.
Gotta love small-town living.
Heading into the main part of my kitchen, which servants once ate in years ago, for a cup of cocoa, I stopped short in the doorway. Granny stuck to a strict schedule: Monday cleaning, Tuesday laundry, Wednesday ironing, Thursday baking, and Friday hair washed and set at the salon. Saturdays and Sundays were left for her bridge group, her sewing circle, and the occasional cooking class.
Today was Friday, not Thursday, so why was Granny elbow-deep in cookie dough?
“Granny, what’s going on? You’re acting so different today. First at the carnival and now here. Does it have anything to do with Fiona Atwater and her Knitting Nanas?” I headed to the medicine cupboard and pulled out some painkillers.
“Fiona Shmona and her Knitting Ninnies is more like it.” Granny tsked, adding chocolate chips to her cookie mixture and stirring furiously with her wooden spoon. The normally neat, long, wooden harvest table was covered with every cookie ingredient she’d ever used, and her homemade apron was stained with chocolate.
That alone had me worried.
I was about to question her further, when she made a beeline past the fireplace in the corner and through the scullery where dishes and vegetables were once washed. Then she took the stairs to the root cellar.
I put the teakettle on top of the gas stove that had replaced the original coal-burning stove from days gone by. Sleepy-time mint tea sounded better than cocoa, since at the moment, all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and forget my frustrating day.