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Authors: Heather Hiestand

CardsNeverLie

BOOK: CardsNeverLie
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An Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publication

www.ellorascave.com

 

 

Cards Never Lie

 

ISBN 9781419908125

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Cards Never Lie Copyright© 2007 Heather Hiestand

Edited by Helen Woodall.

Cover art by Syneca.

 

Electronic book Publication: March 2007

 

The terms Romantica® and Quickies® are
registered trademarks of Ellora’s Cave Publishing.

 

With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not
be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written
permission from the publisher, Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc., 1056 Home Avenue,
Akron, OH 44310-3502.

 

Warning: The unauthorized reproduction or
distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be
scanned, uploaded or distributed via the Internet or any other means,
electronic or print, without the publisher’s permission. Criminal copyright
infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by
the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of
$250,000.  (http://www.fbi.gov/ipr/). Please purchase only authorized
electronic or print editions and do not participate in or encourage the
electronic piracy of copyrighted material. Your support of the author’s rights is
appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The
characters are productions of the authors’ imagination and used fictitiously.

Cards Never Lie

Heather Hiestand

Dedication

 

For my father, David, who gave me my first Tarot cards
(little did he know!), and for my mother, Mary Jo. Thank you for sharing your
love of books and always encouraging my writing.

For Leander, of course

 

 

 

 

 

Trademarks Acknowledgement

 

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark
owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

 

Aquafina: Pepsico, Inc.

Barbie and Ken: Mattel, Inc.

Ben & Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream: Ben
& Jerry’s Homemade Holdings, Inc.

BMW: Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft

Bond: Danjaq S.A. Corporation

Budweiser: Anheuser-Busch, Incorporated

Chunky Monkey: Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Holdings, Inc.

Debbie Does Dallas: Arrow Productions, Ltd.

Deep Throat: Arrow Productions, Ltd.

Elvira: P. & P. Productions, Inc.

Elvis: Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

Florsheims: Florsheim Group Inc.

Haagen-Daz: Haagen-Daz Brands, Inc.

Hallmark: Hallmark Licensing, Inc.

Jacuzzi: Jacuzzi Inc.

KMPS: EZ Seattle, Inc.

Lara Croft: Core Design Limited

Lexus: Toyota Motor Corporation

Marilyn Monroe: Marilyn Monroe LLC LTD Liab Co

Marlboro: Phillip Morris USA Inc.

McDonald’s: McDonald’s Corporation

Mylar: E. I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company

NASCAR: National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, Inc.

Nordstrom: Nordstrom, Inc.

Porsche: Dr. Ing. h. c. f. Porsche Aktiengesellschaft
Corporation

Safeway: Safeway Inc.

Starbucks: Starbucks U.S. Brands

The Beatles: Apple Corps Limited

Tupac Shakur: Amaru Entertainment, Inc.

Twinkies: Continental Baking Company

Victoria’s Secret: V Secret Catalogue, Inc.

Wonderbra: Canadelle, Inc.

 

Chapter One

 

Melanie Vanderpool stroked her fingers across the tarot
cards stacked before her.

Madame Lois nodded, her rainbow-colored earrings tinkling
with the motion. “Offer your question to the cards, my dear.”

Melanie forced herself to stop fidgeting in the metal
fold-up chair. This little store alcove tucked away on funky Roosevelt Avenue
was a great place to start her new wild life, right? Okay, cards, come on, show
me this soul mate Mom always promised was coming my way.

She removed her fingers from the cards. Across from her,
Madame Lois took a deep, theatrical breath and pulled off the top six cards.
She spread them into a circle facing her on the hot pink silk scarf covering a
fold-up card table and studied the spread for a very long moment, saying
nothing.

“What is it?” Melanie attempted to view the cards upside
down. Her voice rose in a squeak as she noticed a card with a large horned
figure and smaller, chained and horned figures below. “The devil? What does
that mean?” She wanted the wild side, not the dark side!

The psychic took another deep breath, this one not so
theatrical. “The Devil is your soul mate.”

Melanie sat back in her chair, clutching the seat with
suddenly cold hands. “Ha ha. Very funny. How do I get my money back?”

Madame Lois blinked slowly in a convincing imitation of a
wise owl. “The Devil card can mean many things. Your soul mate might turn your
life in an entirely new direction.”

“Oh is that all?” Melanie breathed a sigh of relief. She let
go of the chair and moved her hands to her lap. Perfect! With her career in an
upswing thanks to her promotion, she had time to shake up her personal life.

“Of course,” Madame Lois continued, “he will be temptation
incarnate. He may be a bit perverse sexually, use force wrongly and could have
no regard for humanity.”

Melanie tried and failed to picture herself in a clinch with
Genghis Khan or Henry VIII. “Tell me, Madame Lois.” She leaned forward. “Do you
see time travel in there too? Because we’re not living in the Middle Ages.
Seattle guys aren’t nearly that interesting.”

Madame Lois shrugged. “The cards are mysterious. I suggest
you take careful note of any dark-haired men. You’ll probably meet him when you
need assistance with your professional life. Passions will be strong between
the two of you, so be careful. You may love or,” she paused, “you may hate.”

“I think I’d rather hate a guy like that,” Melanie said. She
was tired of hating men. Surely not all men were as slimy as her ex-husband.
She missed intimate deep voices that left you quivering. She missed sex!

“Perhaps in this life. You didn’t ask me whom you were going
to date in the next six months.” Madame Lois’ earrings jingled as she gathered
up the six cards.

Melanie stood. Did the psychic have a sense of humor?
“Thanks so much for this enlightenment. I’ll be sure to recommend you to all my
friends.”

“Sometimes it is difficult to accept what the cards tell us.
But we are in control of our own destiny. You should not forget that.” Madame
Lois’ gaze on her was sardonic, making Melanie wonder what else she had seen in
those cards.

“Right, my destiny.” Melanie smiled blandly. As she
reentered Blithe Books & Baubles through silvery Mylar curtains, she checked
her watch. She had twenty minutes until she met Jill, her assistant. Melanie
squared her shoulders. What was Madame Lois not telling her?

Melanie marched past shelves of crystals and yoga mats, then
noticed a line of Wicked Oil massage oils guaranteed to match your horoscope. A
great idea and one she wished Professional Massage, the massage goods company
she worked for, had invented. When she found the tarot section she grabbed the
first book at eye level and turned to the description of the Devil card. Her
eyes widened. Bondage? Black magic? This soul mate business was even crazier
than Madame Lois had led her to believe! Melanie shook her head and shoved the
book back into its spot on the shelf.

She pushed through the doors of the New Age shop and walked
around the block as the reading raced through her thoughts. Why should she let
a little fortune telling upset her? The reading was good for a laugh, right?
But as a Metro bus rolled by, a chill breeze made her shudder despite the
August heat.

Melanie snapped her fingers. She’d buy a tarot deck and do a
few readings for herself. A few cards showing her soul mate was really Mr. Nice
Guy would calm her. Heck, even a reading telling her that her soul mate was a
male Siamese cat would do wonders for her nerves. Of course, she wasn’t really
searching for a soul mate. Look where that had gotten her last time. Gerald. A
successful search for good sex would do nicely, thank you. She should have
asked Madame Lois a different question.

But even as she stepped back into the store and gazed at the
remarkable selection of tarot decks, her unfortunate reading nagged at her.

She glanced at a herbal-themed tarot, then a dragon-themed
deck and tried to put the situation into perspective. She was supposed to meet
this devil-soul mate man at work, right? There was that tall, dark and handsome
guy in Product Development. Rumor had it he played those internet role-playing
games. Maybe this black magic and force stuff was the guy’s hobby, not his
lifestyle.

Grabbing an innocuous-looking deck of cards, she quickly
paid for it. Then she exited again, door chimes clinking.

“Melanie!” Jill called from across the street. She dashed
over, ignoring the car roaring past. “How did it go?”

Melanie leaned against the dusty window of a used-book shop.
“Not exactly how I expected.”

Jill pouted as she pushed her long, wavy hair back into its
scrunchie and patted Melanie’s shoulder. “Bad news? Poor baby. I was going to
wait until Monday, but I guess Madame Lois ruined my gossip.”

“And Madame Lois? What kind of name is that for a psychic?”
Melanie looked at Jill’s expression and backtracked. “Wait, what are you
talking about?”

Jill started to answer, but a series of car honks drowned
out her voice. When the street noise dulled to a low roar, she spoke again.
“You aren’t going to believe this.”

Melanie narrowed her eyes. “Believe what?”

“You know that convention you’re going to in Vegas? Well,
the Swords and Sorcery Hotel called yesterday after you went to give your
presentation at the board meeting.”

Melanie gulped. She had yet to read her itinerary and hadn’t
known the name of the convention hotel until now. “Is the convention canceled?”

“No.” Jill’s voice was absurdly high, as if she were trying
to hold back a laugh.

“Then what’s wrong?” The smell of car exhaust that hung
heavily in the summer air was making her head hurt.

“They wanted to make sure you weren’t bothered.”

“Bothered?” Melanie repeated.

“They had a complaint from someone who found out about
another convention at the same time as yours, so they thought they’d better
warn their guests.” Jill giggled helplessly. “I told them you wouldn’t mind.”

“Mind what?” A teenager in baggy shorts holding a skateboard
leered at her as he walked past and entered the drugstore next door. Melanie
winked at him. Some parts of being wild came easier than others.

“That an adult industry conference and trade show would be
next door to your bath and beauty product conference.”

“What?” Melanie refocused on Jill, then was distracted by
the copy of
Hot Sex, How To Do It
in the bookstore window.

“Adult industry. You know, adult. Like adult—toys?”

Melanie looked at her in disbelief. Then it dawned on her.
Madame Lois. Bondage. This was unreal. She started giggling too, more than a
little weirded out.

“You aren’t going to believe what Madame Lois told me,” she
said, catching her breath and making a mental note to pick up a copy of the sex
manual later. “I just may meet my soul mate there.”

“Really?” Jill’s eyes widened. “She told you that?”

“Not exactly. C’mon, I need caffeine.”

They headed to the Starbucks on the corner. Melanie decided
on an iced double-tall mocha with whipped cream, a wilder choice than her usual
nonfat, decaf latte with nutmeg, and Jill ordered the same. They settled at one
of the tiny tables.

“Okay,” Jill leaned forward. “What did Madame Lois say?”

“Well…it’s embarrassing.” Melanie considered the wisdom of
sharing her reading with Jill. She would spread the story all over the office
on Monday.

“Really? Cool!” Jill leaned even closer.

“My soul mate,” Melanie paused for dramatic effect, “will be
irresistible to me. Full of passion. A warrior type.”

“All right!” Jill pumped a fist into the air.

“Of course,” Melanie said casually, “he’s the…Devil.”

Jill’s mouth dropped open. “The what?”

“Close that thing,” Melanie admonished. “Flies will get in.
You heard me.”

Jill waved her comment away. “The Devil, huh. Kinky.”

Melanie nodded. “I think the guy is into bondage. The card
had chained figures on it.”

Jill nearly swallowed her straw. “Bondage?”

“Sure. It’s too good to be true. Between this reading and
the adult convention, I’m bound to have some old-fashioned fun.”

Jill shook her head, eyes wide. “Wow, your life really is
going to change. Good luck.”

Melanie leaned back and took a sip of her drink. Taking a deep
breath, she said brightly, “So what should a girl like me wear on her first
date with a devil-man?”

Jill giggled. “I don’t think you date a guy like that. I
think he just crooks a finger and drags you off.”

“You don’t say.” Melanie pursed her lips. “That might not be
so bad. Gets you past that nasty dating thing.”

“Yeah, though you should be doing the crooking.” Jill
grimaced. “But when have you ever had an independent bone in your body when it
comes to men?”

“I’ve learned a lot since Gerald. I won’t let a man control
my life again.”

* * * * *

In Las Vegas, at the Swords and Sorcery Hotel, Rob Black
hefted another of the heavy boxes marked with the LeatherWorks LTD logo and
muttered an epithet at Tim, his useless assistant, who was off on a smoke
break. He wished he were back in his nicely controlled office environment with
his laptop, his calculator and his enormous mound of paperwork.

He set the box on the floor of his trade show booth and
ripped it open with a satisfying crack. Pulling out a handful of whips, he
turned to the pegboard.

Rob ran a finger lovingly down an ebony whip. Fabulous work,
hand-tooled—and meant to be used on a horse, not a kinky human, but his
grandfather had needed to find new markets when the riding accessories market
dried up.

Rob attached the whip to the center of the display board and
picked up another. The color of blood, the leather shimmered under the
fluorescent lights.

“Sorry,” Tim puffed behind him. He saw the whip in Rob’s
hand. “Nice work, isn’t it? I know a hot college girl who would get a kick out
of the way you hold that.”

Rob grimaced at him. “No thanks.”

Tim shrugged. “If you ask me, boss, you’re in the wrong
business. But then you wouldn’t know, trapped behind that desk.”

“Paperwork is the same no matter the product,” Rob said
lightly. He glanced down their aisle at the displays being rapidly assembled.
“I guess I’ll go check out the competition.”

“You betcha. These conventions are an unholy blast. Just you
wait!” Tim hitched his belt over his slightly protruding belly and grinned.

“I can wait for the fun, but I can’t wait for the work.
Finish up the display, okay, Tim? I’ve got some calls to make.”

Rob handed the whip to Tim then headed for the exit. The
convention was large and the ballroom had its temporary dividers removed,
making one large, loud room. Rob walked by a couple of people busy at a video
production booth. A woman at another booth was setting out a line of
Egyptian-themed edible massage oils.

“Rob!”

She looked vaguely familiar. Who was she? He scanned her
features until recognition dawned. “Shari! It’s been ages!” Rob strode over and
gave the tall, exotic brunette a hug. “It’s been so long since I’ve worked a
show I didn’t think I would see any familiar faces.”

“Don’t tell me you’re actually working the trade show?”

Rob grimaced. “I have to. My sales manager just quit.”

Shari’s almond-shaped eyes twinkled. “You poor, poor man.”

Rob pointed to the oils. “What’s all this? Last I heard you
were operating a massage place by SeaTac airport.”

“I still am. These oils were developed at my clinic.” She
picked up a bottle and pulled out the stopper. “Isn’t it great?”

Rob sniffed the strawberry-scented contents. “It smells
nice, but I don’t know about pouring red goop all over someone.”

Shari scoffed. “You never had any sense of adventure, did
you? Here, try this one.” She picked up a slender, amber bottle.

He sniffed, his eyes widening. “Now that’s a massage oil.
What’s in it? It smells familiar.”

“Sandalwood and lemon. A little musk.”

“I like it.”

Shari handed him a sealed bottle. “Take it. Have fun.” She
winked.

“Thanks.” Rob took the bottle and went toward the elevators.
Maybe he could give it to Tim. As more than one ex-girlfriend had told him,
he’d never been the creative type of lover.

* * * * *

The next morning, Melanie took a large gulp of her coffee.
The scalding heat burned down her throat. Ahhh, that caffeine burn, she thought
happily. She considered the company line of essential oils on the bookshelf
across from her desk, right under her newly minted diploma from the Northwest
Aromatherapy Institute proclaiming her to be a Master Aromatherapist.

At the sound of rapidly moving feet, Melanie looked up to
see trouble coming. Jill motored down the cubicle hallway like a NASCAR driver,
taking turns tight and almost getting her voluminous green skirt caught in an
open drawer as she sped by.

BOOK: CardsNeverLie
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