LOOKING INTENSELY AT the spread of cards on the table in front of her, Secret Lavalle pondered what to say to her young client. There was no easy way to tell a girl in love that she was being cheated on by the object of her affections. She was stalling for time, but she knew it wouldn’t make any difference in the end.
“Ok, Sharla. Do you see these two cards right here? This is the Queen of Pentacles and here’s the Three of Swords. In between these cards is the King of Wands. Now, remember, we said that the King of Wands represents Dion. The Queen of Pentacles is showing us a new woman that seems to be in Dion’s life. The Three of Swords right here shows heartbreak and disappointment.”
“But what does that mean, Secret?”
“It means, sweetheart, that Dion is seeing another woman.”
“I knew it!” Sharla yelped as she slammed her hand down on the table. “That bastard has been lying to me for months! I could feel it, Secret! It’s just that I didn’t want to believe it, you know? But he’s gonna get what’s coming to him now!”
“I know it’s hard when men do these things,” Secret said, trying to offer comfort where there wasn’t any to actually be had. “But let’s look at this to see what’s ahead for you after you get rid of this worthless piece of waste.”
“I don’t care what’s ahead! I don’t want any other man ever! This is it for me!”
Shaking her head, Secret waited for Sharla to calm down. It was rarely ever the end for a 19-year-old woman. Sure, Sharla was hurt and angry now, but once she was able to get Dion out of her life, there would be another man. Apparently, there would be more than just one other man coming up in Sharla’s future.
“Oh well,” Secret sighed.
No matter what I say, these girls never listen.
“Sharla, you’re going to make it through this. It’s pretty clear that you and Dion aren’t meant to be together, but there will be someone else for you in the future. However, if you stay stuck in this situation, you’ll just delay finding that man.”
“I don’t care about finding any other man!” Sharla’s big brown eyes got even wider as she shook her head full of long, curly, dark hair in denial. “Dion has proved to me that no man’s worth it.”
“Sharla, you’re going to be fine, sweetheart,” Secret said calmly. “There is someone else for you. It doesn’t matter if you believe me or not. He’s there and he’s waiting for you. You’re going to deal with this Dion mess, grieve a little because of the time you wasted with him, and then you’re going to move on. Your heart will heal. I promise.”
Sharla was still glaring at the cards as if she could make them change their meanings if she just got mad enough. Secret hoped that her anger would hold for a little while. It would sustain her and keep her from feeling all of the pain that was also in her very near future.
“I should have known,” Sharla finally said in a quieter tone. “My Mama told me not to mess with him. I just couldn’t listen to her for once.”
“It’s okay, Sharla,” Secret responded. “Do you want to know about the next man who’s coming into your life?”
THIRTY MINUTES LATER, Sharla left Secret’s house in a marginally better mood. It had helped her to hear about this upcoming man, just as Secret had known it would. There was no reason to tell her that it wouldn’t last, either, though. She would find that out on her own, when she was meant to know it.
Secret went to the back of her house where her cozy, country blue and yellow kitchen was located and put on some water for tea. The only time she preferred hot tea was when she needed to replenish her energy after a reading. Iced tea was her favorite the rest of the time.
Sharla was easy to read, though. So Secret’s energy level wasn’t too depleted. The reason for the rejuvenating tea was because of her next client, who would be there within an hour. Adele Dubois was a psychic vampire in every sense of the phrase. Her husband had divorced her two years ago and married a lovely young woman, who was now pregnant with his child. Even these small details did nothing to deter Adele from her firm belief that her ex-husband still loved her and would be realizing that fact any day now. Secret wasn’t even sure why the woman kept coming to see her, because all she did was argue about everything the cards turned up.
Lacing her tea with plenty of honey, Secret stirred it thoroughly and went out onto the deck off of her kitchen. This was a wonderful place to her; a place of calm and peacefulness. She had added the deck just after buying the house. With such an incredible back yard, she just knew the house needed a small deck so that she could enjoy it.
She sat down at the round table, sheltered from the sun’s heat by a large umbrella. The Louisiana sun showered down on the grass in her yard, as well as her large plants and flower garden. A green water hose snaked out into the yard from an outside water spigot that Secret used on the days that the heat wasn’t broken by a rain shower.
Not today, though,
It’s going to rain within a couple of hours.
It never occurred to her to wonder how she knew those things. But she had no doubt that it was going to be raining by the time she was able to close her door in relief on the departing back of Adele Dubois.
At the moment, she felt completely at peace and would enjoy that for now. Adele would arrive soon enough to drain her of both solace and energy.
Secret wished that there was some way to convince the woman that she needed to move forward rather than staying mired in the past. It seemed that there was no moving Adele from fixating on her ex-husband. Secret almost felt sorry for the man.
Checking her watch, she realized that she only had about fifteen minutes before Adele arrived. Finishing the last of her tea, she stood and went back into the kitchen. Rinsing out her cup, she placed it into the dish drain beside the sink and headed into her bedroom to freshen up a little.
By the time Adele was ringing her doorbell, Secret was ready for her.
Well, at least as ready as she would ever be for someone like Adele.
Secret opened the door.
“Hi, Adele. Please come in,” she said.
“Hi, Secret. I sure hope you have some good news for me today,” Adele began her monologue that wouldn’t end the entire time she was here.
Just as Secret was closing her door, she felt that familiar chill down her spine. Glancing out at the street, she saw no one, but was positive that someone was watching her.
“I’ve just had the most awful week,” Adele continued to whine in the background. “You just won’t believe what Sam’s wife has done to me now. I called Sam only because I needed to ask him a very important question and… Secret! Are you listening to me?”
“Hmm?” Secret asked, continuing to scan the street for whoever was focused on her. “Oh yes! Of course, Adele. Certainly. Please, let’s go get started, shall we?”
Looking once more, she closed the door and walked with Adele back to her reading room.
SHE FELT ME watching her! That’s nearly all the proof I need that she’s the one.
From his concealed perch in one of the many trees lining the street, Kane Broussard knew that the woman hadn’t spotted him. But he knew when she had sensed him. He could feel her as she searched for him both visually and psychically.
He had first noticed her a week ago when she and some women were exiting a bar in the French Quarter. Her scent was intoxicating and immediately caught his attention. He had surreptitiously followed them that night, watching the woman and trying to figure out what was so unique about her.
Sure, she was quite beautiful. Her black hair hung straight and thick to the middle of her back. She had almond shaped eyes, the color of whiskey, with what seemed to be green flecks in them. High cheekbones and a full mouth gave her a somewhat exotic appearance. She was tall; probably around 5’10” with a model’s body.
Eventually, he was able to get her name out of a bartender that she seemed to be rather friendly with. That was how he had discovered that Secret Lavalle was one of the best psychics in a town of psychics. It seemed that she used to do readings on Bourbon Street as well as the French Quarter, but she had moved into a small house just outside of New Orleans. Clients still found her with no problem.
Kane had been watching her ever since that night. He wanted to know more about her. No, that wasn’t right. He
to know more about her; as much as he could discover. It was too soon to approach her and it would help his cause if he knew a few key things that would draw her in.
It wouldn’t be difficult for him to gather information on her. In a matter of just a few minutes, he had discovered all sorts of details about her. Now, he only needed to find out if what he believed was true.
Obviously, the fastest way to find out what he needed to know was to meet this woman in person. He wasn’t ready for a face-to-face meeting just yet, however. She might very well see him for what he was, and that couldn’t happen until he was more prepared.
So, he would continue to keep an eye on her for the time being. For now, he must rest for awhile; and then he would be ready to resume his watch tonight.
With that thought, he took his leave.CHAPTER TWO
AFTER A GRUELING hour, Secret bid Adele goodbye and closed her door in relief.
Why do I even keep her on as a client?
Do I really need her money that badly?
Oh, she knew it wasn’t actually the money that made her continue allowing Adele to come to her. It was Secret’s uncontrollable empathy; especially for those in pain. Adele’s pain was so strong that it was almost tangible; and Secret simply couldn’t turn her back on the woman, no matter how much she might want to do just that.
She found it frustrating and infuriating trying to help Adele because she categorically refused to see the truth. At first, Secret had entertained the thought that Adele might just be hiding the truth from herself because she couldn’t cope otherwise. In the many months of reading for her, though, it had become clear that the way Adele saw things was actually what she truly believed.
Adele saw that Sam’s new wife was holding him almost against his will and was preventing Sam from coming back to her. How Sam’s pregnant wife was able to hold a man the size of Sam, in place against his will, was something that Secret hadn’t been able to figure out, and Adele glossed over that little point anytime she was presented with it.
It was becoming exceedingly clear that Adele needed help that Secret wasn’t qualified to give. That was another sore point, however, because Adele refused to seek professional help. The only help Adele saw herself needing was what Secret provided her in readings.
Things were getting worse, though.
Adele was beginning to become somewhat verbally abusive to Secret; and that wasn’t something to be tolerated. As badly as she felt for Adele, Secret would never allow herself to be treated badly. That would never happen again.
For the moment, Secret put the problem of Adele out of her mind. She would figure something out when it became necessary. Now, she just wanted to head upstairs to her bathroom and sink into a sea of warm bubbles in her claw-footed tub. Just thinking about it made her smile and start to relax.
Locking her door, she headed up the staircase to her sanctuary.
This house was the best thing she had ever done for herself. Once she had decided to give up the street readings in New Orleans, she had started looking around for some place that would work as both her home and a reading parlor. She must have looked at fifty houses before landing upon this one.
It was built around the turn of the 20th century; but had been extensively remodeled so that everything important such as plumbing, electrical wiring, and insulation had been upgraded by the time she saw the house.
The house wasn’t huge by any stretch of the imagination, but it was more than enough for her. Downstairs boasted a small foyer at the front door that held the staircase climbing up to the second floor and expanded into a hallway. Just a few feet down this hallway was the doorway to her reading parlor. It was once a formal living room, but she had found it to be the perfect place to receive and read for her clients.
Down a few steps from this doorway was a powder room. She wasn’t sure when this had been added because she didn’t think it had been a part of the original house design. But again, it was something that worked to her advantage.
A kitchen, dining, and den area made up the entire back of the house. . Set up all in one long room, she found this to be the best place in the house. It was perfect for relaxing or entertaining, not that she did a lot of that though. Then, of course, there was her beloved deck, which looked out from the start of her colorful, lush backyard to the line of trees at the end of it.
Upstairs held the master bedroom with an ensuite and walk-in closet. French doors led to a small balcony just off of her bedroom where she often sat with her morning coffee. There were also two more bedrooms and a bathroom. She used one of these as an office and the other, she kept as a spare room, in case she had any overnight guests. There were shiny hardwood floors throughout, accented with rugs of all shapes, sizes, and colors.
Secret loved her house and counted herself lucky that she had found it when she did. Her realtor had called her as soon as the house was listed. They went to see it that very morning and she made an offer instantly. This house called to her. It was, quite literally, home.
As she set up her candles and music for her bubble bath, she thought again of the strange feeling she had experienced when letting Adele into her house. She had been so sure that someone was watching her. Rarely did she get those feelings, but when she did, they were never wrong. Just because she hadn’t seen anyone didn’t mean that there was no one there. All it meant is that they were very well hidden.