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I braced my palm to my chest and tilted my gaze skyward again. The intensity of the air jiggled my nerves and quickened my suddenly too-large heart.

“Geraldine,” I called. “Geraldine!”

“Get up and go over there if you want to talk to her,” my other stall neighbor, Albert, said. “That’s just like kids these days. They all think we need to hear their yelling. Lazy as I’ve ever seen.”

A strange blend of excitement and anticipation tingled my scalp before sifting down inside of me. Butterflies filled my belly and my legs turned restless, my heels tapping against the ground.

It was the fight-or-flight reflex. I recognized it from the zombie and closet incident last month, but this time, I couldn’t identify the source of the danger.

I also didn’t know what I would choose to do.

“Geraldine!”

“What is it, Penny?” she finally called. “Do I have to get up?”

Blue canvas ballooned in places on my tent, catching the increasing breeze. It yanked at the flimsy frame. “Do you feel that?”

A woman passing by with her teenage daughter glanced at me.

“No. What is it?”

“Electric charge.” I rubbed my hands against my arms. “Are we going to get hit by lightning?”

Chapter Seven

The woman who’d been passing by, nearly out of my line of sight, stopped dead and looked upward. Her daughter about-faced without hesitating. In a moment, they were both headed back the way they’d come.

“No,” Albert said. “You know when you’re going to get hit because your hair stands on end. And it isn’t.”

“How do you know?” someone called, and I suspected it was Albert’s other neighbor, a middle-aged goth woman who played a little too much Dungeons & Dragons. “You don’t have any hair.”

“I have hair on my arms, don’t I?” Albert yelled. He was largely unconcerned with how he appeared to the customers, something not entirely helpful in a sales profession.

“My hair is standing up on end,” I replied, still feeling the tingles of my scalp.

“All your hair? Even your head hair?”

I ran my hand above my head but didn’t feel anything. “No,” I said in a smaller voice.

“It’s probably a premonition,” Geraldine said. “Get out your crystals and reflect on it.”

“You should know the difference between getting struck by lightning and intuition, girl,” Albert said. “Though I guess now we know why you don’t get much business.”

“Oh, shut up, Albert,” Geraldine hollered. “She doesn’t get business because her tent looks like she stole it from a homeless person, her chairs are suspect, and she sinks back into her seat instead of making eye contact and smiling. It has nothing to do with her ability. No offense, Penny.”

I frowned at the slight, but she did have a point.

I clasped my hands and rested them on the table as a few more people ambled by. Two, a couple, looked at my setup with interest before glancing in at me. Another, a solitary man behind them, studied Albert’s setup. Clearly they’d heard the exchange and wanted to compare for themselves.

“I’ll bite,” the man from the couple said, directing his lady friend—no ring, so probably his girlfriend—toward me. He wore a good-natured smile, but hers was a tad brittle. Jealousy, or a hatred of divinity-type folk.

I doubted it was the latter, since she hadn’t worn that look before coming over, so that meant their relationship was fresh. They were still working on trust and intimacy.

I smiled and straightened into a semblance of professionalism. “Hello.”

“Honey?” the man said, stopping in front of the single chair and looking at his girlfriend.

“Sure.” She put her hand on the back of the chair. It wobbled a little and she hesitated.

“I can go if you want?” he asked, bending toward her.

“Oh no, it’s fine.” She gingerly sat in the chair. Her relieved smile when the chair didn’t collapse spoke volumes.

Fine. I would get new chairs.

I caught movement behind them, someone veering to the left. The other man had decided he’d try Geraldine’s hand at palm reading.

“Would you like a tarot reading?” I asked with my version of a kind smile. My best friend Veronica said it made me look like a cornered animal, but I was pretty sure she was joking.

“Um…” The woman’s gaze slid to the crystal ball and my smile tightened.

Please don’t pick that. Please don’t pick that. Please don’t—

“How about the crystal ball?” she said with a sparkle of excitement in her eyes.

I kept my sigh at bay. “Of course.”

Careful not to disturb the rocks placed around the table, I pulled the ball closer and grabbed a cloth from the bag resting on the ground beside me. I slipped the cloth over the ball to cover it, something that seemed very mysterious, but whose only true purpose was to give me time to think.

“Do you have any questions?” I asked her as I laid both palms on the covered ball and made eye contact.

A small knot wormed between her brows and her gaze slipped toward the man before she could drag it back.

Clear as day. People’s tells made this job easy.

“No,” she said with a forced light tone.

I nodded like I’d known she’d say that, and slowly pulled my hands away from the crystal ball, sliding off the cloth as I did so. I stared at it for a long moment before closing my eyes. Power pulsed in my middle from my rocks and the charged atmosphere. A feeling of inevitability lodged in my chest like a spiked ball.

“Something is coming.” The words slipped out of my mouth, unbidden. “Something will happen soon that will change your life forever.” The pressure in my chest increased. “But the journey has already begun. You can’t hide from it. You won’t be able to turn away. A chain of events has started, and at the end will be your destiny.” I opened my eyes and she was leaning forward slightly, her eyes riveted to my face.

The ball inside of me loosened a little, and I had a moment of supreme confusion, like I always did when my intuition forced itself to be heard. Because this reading wasn’t meant for her—this was me telling myself what was coming, using extremely vague, general, and unhelpful words.

“Sorry,” I said as heat rushed to my face. “That just came to me.” I fingered the cloth, half thinking I’d slip it over the ball and start over. I hated doing that. My excuses always sounded lame.

“No.” The word sounded more like a release of breath from the woman’s mouth, and I belatedly realized I should’ve asked her name. My bad. “That was dead-on. That sounded right.”

“Heavy,” the man said, and tried to lean against one of the support poles. It groaned loudly and the whole tent shifted. “Oops.” He hopped away.

Fine. Albert and Geraldine were right about my entire setup.

“Wow.” The woman smiled and leaned back. The chair shifted and her eyes widened until everything settled again. Clearly she thought she’d be dumped out of it at any second.

I stared into the depths of the twenty-dollar crystal ball, trying to see its middle through the white coloring. Not because any images or messages would await me, but because it made me look like I was concentrating really hard.

I flicked my gaze toward the man, a very quick gesture, before I scrunched my brow and looked at the woman pointedly. The pointed stare was always the way to go in this business. “You will find…what you seek.” I let my eyes flicker again, but just in his general direction this time. “The thing you are after…will become permanent down the road. But only if you keep faith. Work on trust.”

Red infused her cheeks and a delighted smile pulled at her lips.

“It seems a little general,” the man said, crossing his arms.

Please don’t make me prove myself. Please don’t make—

“No,” the woman said, her eyes rooted to mine. She put out her hand to stop him. “No, I know exactly what she means.”

I leaned back. Hopefully that would be enough. “I’m glad. When there are two people present, I always worry about being too…descriptive.” I gave her a demure smile. “Privacy is important.”

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