Home > Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem #1)(13)

Natural Witch (Magical Mayhem #1)(13)
Author: K.F. Breene

“I totally get you.” She nodded adamantly. “Sorry, how much—”

“No, let me.” The man reached for his wallet, and the woman gave him Bambi eyes as she went to his side.

I collected payment and watched them go. A moment later, Geraldine filled the front of my tent.

“Another happy customer?” she asked.

I frowned at the ball. “Yes. Overly happy. I accidentally blurted out my own premonition, which was as infuriatingly vague as they always are, and she ate it up.”

“Ah.” Geraldine smiled knowingly, checking out my rock configuration. “Yeah. She was responding to your…” She made a fist and shook it.

“Confidence?”

“Nah…” She pursed her lips. “More like…” She shook her fist again.

I didn’t know what that meant, but I went ahead and nodded knowingly anyway. Otherwise these charades might go on all day.

She glanced at the sky and looked down the path. “I just had a stinker. He didn’t give me anything to go off. And he picked up nearly everything on the table and analyzed it.”

“If you weren’t such a hack, that wouldn’t be a problem,” Albert yelled over.

She took a step and angled so she could shoot him a fierce glare. “You sell fake bows and swords. What do you know about it?”

“They aren’t fake,” he said. “I sell quality items!”

“Quality items my left foot,” Geraldine grumbled, stepping back.

Flapping fabric and canvas sounded down the way as the wind picked up. The pressure in the air increased until it felt like we were inside a shaken soda can. A hint of moisture traveled on the salt-encrusted breeze, even though we should’ve been too far inland to smell the sea.

Geraldine smiled at a teenage couple meandering by. They were never overly worried about the rain. “Anyway, when I tried to fish, real sneaky-like—I disguise my fishing in flattery, you should try it—he smiled like he knew what I was doing.” She scowled. “I’ll bet he’s in the trade. Here to suss out the competition, maybe.” She braced her hands on her hips. “I hate looking clueless in front of the handsome ones.”

“I’m sure you didn’t look clueless. He was probably one of those super-jaded guys. We get them all the time.” I put my money away and moved my crystal ball back to its correct position. My tent groaned again, pushed by a particularly strong burst of wind.

Her eyes narrowed as she shook her head. “No, it wasn’t that. It was…something else. A certain confidence…” A knot of concentration worked into her forehead. A moment later, her expression cleared and she shrugged, smiling down at me. “Doesn’t matter. I got his money in the end, so all is well. I’m going to pack up. I doubt there’ll be many more today.”

I grimaced and checked the time, then the sky. When the weather turned nasty, the managers of the village would usually stroll through and tell us it was time to leave. Anyone who left before she gave the okay might find themselves out of a space. And while this line of work only made me as much as a low-paying job, it was better than stocking shelves or working in an office. At least until I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.

“I might hang on a little longer,” I said, dropping my hands into my lap.

“Little Miss Rule Follower,” Geraldine said with a smile, and turned toward her booth.

But a half-hour after Geraldine tugged her wagon past, my resolve had weakened considerably. The patter of the occasional raindrop splatted against my tent. More plunked off the dirt path. Only one or two souls wandered by, and that was to head out. The day was done, regardless of whether anyone had bothered to tell us.

A strange surge of power amped up the energy rolling around my body, the effects of the premonition. I glanced down at my gems and stones, wondering if it was them. It could’ve been the weather. It was hard to say when the atmosphere was so wound up.

I needed to make a decision.

I glanced back up and started.

His footsteps had been silent, his approach sly. Yet there he stood, a muscular man a few years older than me, looking at me with an impassive face.

“Hello?” I asked, like I’d answered a phone call.

He moved forward with a sure step. The wind worried the dusty blonde hair that fell across his broad forehead. “Are you still open?” he asked, his eyes not leaving mine, even to glance at the table full of objects. It felt like he was assessing me, reaching in through my eyes and down to my soul, finding and reviewing all my secrets along the way.

“Oh.” I glanced out through the opening to the angry sky above. “It’s probably going to rain soon.”

He stood just behind the client chair. Clearly he was waiting for me to give a solid answer, and his patient silence had the odd effect of drawing the words from my mouth.

“Sure,” I said, shrugging. I had an umbrella. I’d chance a few drops for another paying customer.

Without a word, he stepped around the chair and sat, not flinching or hesitating when it whimpered in warning. His intense stare never left my eyes, and his face remained perfectly impassive. Like a serial killer’s.

I had the sudden thought that there weren’t enough closets in the world to save me from him.

“What…would you like?” I asked, running my hand over the table like Vanna White. “Tarot?” I touched the cards before glancing at the crystal ball. I weakly gestured that way instead of actually saying the words.

His gaze followed the movements of my hands, eyeing the tarot deck first and then the crystal ball. Without warning, he palmed the ball with a large, calloused hand and held it up for inspection.

“Ohhh…” I said like a tire losing air. “You’re not supposed to touch that.”

He squinted into it, as though trying to see the middle.

“I have to…” I made a circle in the air with my pointer finger. “I have to evoke the images, actually. They can’t just be gawked at like that. They won’t show.”

The corner of his mouth stretched into a half-smile before loosening again, back to stoic and serious. He dropped the ball onto the table, next to the stand.

“That just needs—” I flinched as he reached out, fast as lightning. My tarot deck was whisked away. “I’m not sure what experience you’ve had with these sorts of booths, but this level of manhandling is usually forbidden.”

He flicked through the deck, looking at various cards, before dropping them in a mess next to the crystal ball.

“This isn’t off to a great start,” I mumbled, at a loss. I’d never had someone so confidently wreck my setup before. Clearly this was the same guy that had visited Geraldine. The situation was a little off-putting, yet strangely gratifying.

His gaze landed on my newly acquired opal.

“Nope.” I jabbed my hand in front of it before his quick-draw-McGraw snatch could take hold. Instead, his fingers curled around mine.

A bolt of electricity blasted up my arm and into my chest. It stopped my heart and fried my insides as it shot down to my feet. I sucked in a pained breath. Adrenaline rushed into my body. The tug on my ribs that I’d felt in New Orleans was back, only this time it felt like a thick cable attached to my bones was being pulled by a semi.

The turning of the world ground to a halt. The wind died down to nothing and the canvas that had been whipping in the wind fell straight. The murmur of voices deadened.

We were two people moving in a frozen world.

Chapter Eight

His eyes widened as he stared at me, and it felt like that was a big deal. Like he was a man not surprised by much, and this had blindsided him.

I was a woman surprised by a whole lot. But after New Orleans, this didn’t seem like much. Just another weird thing following me around like an elephant I pretended not to see.

I drew back my hand. My arm stung from the rush of electricity, and my body trembled from the flash of pain. But I kept my composure and watched the stone, for no other reason than that I didn’t want him to take liberties with my gems. That seemed really important for some reason.

“So no on the tarot and crystal ball, then?” I asked lightly.

   
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