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Authors: Victoria Laurie

Better Read Than Dead

BOOK: Better Read Than Dead
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Table of Contents
 
Dealt an Unfortunate Hand
It suddenly dawned on me that this man was waiting for me to say something, and the first tinges of panic tickled my neck. I had no idea what this death card was trying to say. To distract the man I laid down another card. This card was labeled THE TOWER and showed a huge medieval tower being struck by a bolt of lightning, sending its roof off to smash on the ground. People were running out of the tower as if their lives depended on it.
As I looked at this card, there was the tickle of a thought on the edge of my intuition, but it was faint and distant. I called out loudly to my crew, and demanded their presence immediately, furious that they would abandon me at the beginning of a reading. To stall for a little more time I laid down another card—this one labeled JUDGMENT, which depicted three luminescent human figures rising from the earth with outstretched arms toward an angel blowing a trumpet. In one electrifying moment I felt my crew smash back into place and I snapped my head up to look at the man in the chair as I gasped, “Oh my God! . . . You’ve killed someone!”
SIGNET
Published by New American Library, a division of
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First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, June 2005
Copyright © Victoria Laurie, 2005 All rights reserved
 
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PUBLISHER’S NOTE
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eISBN : 978-1-101-09959-9

http://us.penguingroup.com

For my dear friend, mentor and one of the greatest
psychics in North America—Kevin Allen. Thank
you so much for your ideas, wisdom, gifts and
encouragement.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I would like to thank the following people for all their help, support and encouragement in the development of this book. My sister, Sandy, who suffers through my jaw-clenching “creative” phases with bold and dogged enthusiasm, my amazing agent, Jim McCarthy, who is just a glass-half-full kind of guy—thank you for your constant reassurance, encouragement, and friendship; my incredible editor Martha Bushko, who has simply fantastic instincts and made so many of my dreams come true, assistant editor Serena Jones; and the rest of the editorial support staff at NAL. “Thanks” is far too simple a word to express how grateful I am to all of you. And Kevin Allen, psychic and friend extraordinaire, who once told me a story about a wedding he attended, and in that way gave me the seeds for one heck of a good tale; Detective Don Swiatkowski of the Royal Oak Police Department, who gave his time and energy to all of my crazy “hypotheticals”; Silas Hudson, who is one of the greatest human beings I have ever known, and who graciously allowed me to capture him in Milo Johnson; my handyman, Dave McKenzie, for being such a wonderful craftsman—you turned my house into a palace and gave me the character I needed to round out the Psychic Eye cast. And of course, my dear friends and supporters who have been the best cheering section a girl could ask for: Laurie Comnes, Thomas Robinson, Kimmie Whelchel, Brian Gorzynski, Joy Austin, Kelly Hale, Drue Rowean, Sheila Doherty, Susan DeLorenzo, and Jon and Naoko Upham. My greatest thanks to you all.
Chapter One
The three cardinal sins to be avoided by
legitimate
professional psychics are:
1. Never make up or alter a psychic message
2. Never betray the trust of a client by revealing details of a reading to others
3. Above all, never,
ever
use your intuitive gift to cause harm to another person
As I stood in the thickening pool of blood leaking from the man I had effectively killed, I couldn’t care less that I had flagrantly committed not one, but all three of these cardinal sins. Instead, as my karmic debt for such crimes mounted to new and overwhelming heights, my only thought was the sick satisfaction of finally getting my eye for an eye.
I wasn’t always like this, you know. A mere three weeks earlier I could have been the poster child for ethical intuitives. I believed in my work as a professional psychic, giving helpful advice, lending my talent wherever it was needed and using my “gift” for good. All that changed one rainy, autumn afternoon the day before Halloween—don’tcha just love irony?
 
“Kendal, you
cannot
do this to me!” I complained into my cell phone as I navigated the rainy-day traffic of downtown Royal Oak, Michigan.
“Abby, I’ve called everybody else. You are the only person left who can pull this off—and besides, you owe me,” Kendal answered unsympathetically.
“Oh come on Kendal! Of all the crappy times to call in
that
favor, you had to pick tomorrow night?”
“Not my wedding, sugar. I didn’t pick the date; the bride and groom did.”
My breathing was coming in short, irregular bursts of frustration. I didn’t want to say yes. In fact, I had a very strong feeling I should say no, but Kendal, another professional psychic, was in a jam, and he had helped me out a few months ago when I’d had to take a few weeks off from my own business to recuperate from a tango I’d danced with a psychopath. He was right: I did owe him, big-time, and owing people was not something I was particularly comfortable with.
The hard part of Kendal’s request was that my boyfriend was due back from his training with the FBI at Quantico, and tomorrow night was supposed to be
our
night—if you get my drift.
My boyfriend, Dutch, used to be a detective for the Royal Oak PD, until he’d been recruited by the FBI. We hadn’t dated very long; in fact, we had yet to consummate our relationship—hence why the following evening was such a big deal.
“Kendal, I’m
begging
you, isn’t there
anyone
else? Another psychic-in-training? Some guy off the street who could fake it?”
“There’s no one else, I swear. And this gig is really important to me. It’s for Ophelia Kapordelis, and her father, Andros is a very wealthy man. I could use the
considerable
cash they’re willing to pay us, and besides, you owe me.”
I pulled the cell phone away from my ear and stuck my tongue out at it. If he said that one more time I was going to crawl through the thing and tie his nose in a knot. I sighed audibly and gave it one more valiant try. “Can’t you just do it alone?”
“An entire wedding party? Abby, are you nuts? Even with the two of us, we’ll still be lucky to make it through thirty people. I promised the bride two psychics, she’s already paid for two psychics and she is going to get two psychics because
you owe me!

My eyebrows lowered to dangerous levels; damn it, he’d said it again. “But I don’t even know how to read tarot cards!” I shouted.
Kendal had informed me at the start of our conversation that the bride had insisted on using tarot card readers. Kendal had originally booked the event with a friend of his who also used tarot. Unfortunately, his friend had been wheeled into the OR for an emergency appendectomy an hour earlier, hence Kendal’s frantic phone call to me.
“I can teach you. Just meet me at my house an hour before the reception and we’ll go over it when we get to the reception hall. It’s pretty easy; you’ll probably pick it up right away. Besides, if you get stuck, you can just put down a card and say whatever comes to mind. You’re pretty much free-form as it is, aren’t you?”
I had pulled into my assigned parking space in the parking garage across the street from my office by now, and, sensing defeat, I let my head bang forward onto the steering wheel. I wasn’t going to get out of this.
I left his last question hanging, as my mind continued to look for possible ways out. My intuition was buzzing loudly in my head, and I knew that my “crew”—the spirit guides and assorted angels I typically consulted with on such matters—would totally back me up.
But the truth was that I did owe Kendal; he was in a jam and he needed me, and the job paid extremely well. He’d highballed his typical rate, and the purse was a grand apiece. My bank account could really use the cash. “Fine,” I said, closing my eyes.
“Terrific! Okay, the reception is downtown at the Plaza Casino. Why don’t you come over around six and I’ll drive us over there. Do you remember how to get to my house?”
“I’ll find it.”
“Good. Remember to dress up a little; this is a wealthy family, from what I understand.”
BOOK: Better Read Than Dead
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