Book 3, The Girlfriends Series
Available On: Amazon
Normally I love a Tarot card reading, but today something is wrong, wrong, wrong. Madame Ariana’s azure eyes skewer me like a laser.
I shrink back in my chair. “What do you see?”
In the silence, her silver bracelets jingle as she places twenty-two cards in a circle, her long fingers caressing each one. I know what she’s doing—the Soul Mate spread. I’ve studied the cards throughout my senior year. She points to the card in the middle.
“The King of Wands,” she says in an ominous tone.
“What does that mean?”
She spins one of her five rings slowly with her left thumb. I stare at the largest ring, the one with the dragon. My stomach plummets. I’ve always hated dragons. There’s something about the blood-red eyes that is beyond scary. I make an effort to refocus.
“Does that card represent the past?”
“Be patient, Rachel. The cards will let you know.”
I’m here to find out if Channing really loves me or if this is just a summer romance. I guess I’m nervous because he’s my very first real boyfriend. I’m not counting my neighbor last year who I thought might be interested in me. Channing could have any girl in Camp Winnoski. Every day I wonder why he chose me.
The neglected cottage has thick purple curtains and black walls. Three plump crystals dangle from glossy beaded strings in the window. Good. Three is my lucky number. A dusty stench thickens the air. Even though it’s late in the afternoon, it’s so dark outside it feels like midnight. Another summer storm is brewing.
Madame Ariana talks about the past. But I don’t want to think about my mom abandoning me, dad always working, changing schools. Not today. I want her to tell me about Channing. About the future.
“You are ready for a deeper connection with your soul mate. But I see confusion and conflicts. The King of Wands will be your mentor. He will inspire you. In time, harmony will rule.” She leans across the scarred pine table and whispers, “You will be two jewels polishing each other’s rough edges.”
That sounds cool, but …
The lights flicker and thunder rolls in the distance. Raindrops drum on the tin roof, making my heart beat faster. Madame Ariana’s blue shawl rises and falls over her bony shoulders as she arranges a new spread. “Ah, the King of Wands again.”
I study the card. The regal figure is sitting on a fancy throne, wearing a robe and crown and holding a wand with a bunch of leaves sticking out the top. I wish I could remember its significance. I’ll check it out later in my favorite Tarot book.
“But he’s reversed,” I add.
“Yes.” Madame Ariana stares at me. “The energy of the card is blocked.”
Wonderful. I peek at my watch. My best friend, Steph, is waiting outside. She must be wondering what’s taking so long. I want Madame Ariana to hurry, because I need to shower before dinner. The line for the camp washrooms is ugly if you don’t arrive early. But I want to hear that Channing is The One!
She leans forward and speaks carefully into the microphone on the table. “The vision is still taking shape.”
I get to keep the tape. When I return to camp I’ll have to dredge up a tape player. That will be a pain. Camp Winnoski has almost zero technology. We’re allowed brief emails to our parents in the office on Sunday afternoons with mega supervision. What a drag. I’m still in withdrawal from saying goodbye to my iPad and iPhone. I mean, that’s punishment!
As Madame Ariana taps the card, I notice the tattoo on her wrist—a snake curled around something I don’t recognize.
“Yes, still taking shape,” she murmurs. “The cards say you must confront your strengths and weaknesses. Show neither doubt nor fear. The vision indicates you will be strong.”
“What vision?” I suddenly have my own vision. I can see my hard-earned money evaporating.
“You must put forth effort and legwork,” she continues.
Hmm, sounds like school. And this is my summer to be free. Well, sort of. Working as a camp counselor isn’t exactly a holiday.
Annoyance chokes my brain. “Is my boyfriend, Channing, the King of Wands?” Obviously, I have to be specific.
“Does he inspire you?”
Well. All I know is that he’s one hot guy who is attracted to me—and I’m wondering why.
Madame Ariana delivers vague suggestions and I try to concentrate. She isn’t giving me answers and this session is costing me a lot. My dad and stepmom would come unhinged if they found out that a large part of my salary is going to a Tarot reader. I can hear my dad’s voice: “Rachel, I can’t understand why you believe such nonsense.” I love him, but he’s way too practical. He doesn’t believe in coloring outside the lines, if you know what I mean.
Raindrops splatter and slide down the grimy windows, leaving spidery trails. Can’t Madame Ariana read the disappointment on my face? Surely if she understands the universe, she knows what I want to hear.
“Trust your instincts. The answers will come.” She switches off the recorder and hands me the tape. “I’ll tell you more next time.”
Or not. I pay her sixty-five dollars and leave. As I open the door, sunlight and fresh air stream into the room. The storm is over. Steph, wet hair clinging to her face, grabs my hand and we begin the thirty minute hike back to camp. Our sneakers squish through the muddy puddles on the winding path in the Vermont forest.
“What took so long? What did she say?”
“She told me lots of things about myself I already know. There were clues about the future, but she didn’t tell me what will happen. Just that there will be conflicts.” Simply saying that word makes me shudder. I reach inside the pocket of my cargo pants and touch my special comfort stones. My tourmaline for compassion, my amber for protection, and my malachite for spiritual guidance.
“Oh, that sucks. I know you wanted to hear about Channing.”
Steph grabs me around the waist. I put my arm around her and we lope along like we used to when we were little. We were experts at three-legged races.
“There’s something that really bugs me. Apparently I will meet my mentor, the King of Wands. Madame Ariana wouldn’t say who it is. But I can’t afford to go to her again. I wonder if she’d lower her price if I cleaned her cabin. The place is disgusting. It smells like my brothers’ socks.”
“Okay, girlfriend, I recognize that look,” Steph says. “What are you plotting?”
I give her shoulder a squeeze. “I’m going to find the King of Wands.”