Authors: Kali Willows
Tags: #A 1 Night Stand Story
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2012 by Kali Willows
Cover art by LFD Designs
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work, in whole or in part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
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Other 1Night Stand Stories by Kali Willows
Savannah’s Ghost Tale
Damnation and Desire
A 1Night Stand Story
To those who have faced death with courage, and lived life to its fullest, eternity is but a moment in time, of complete and utter fulfillment
Overwhelmed by excruciating panic, she worked to free her arms, legs, and heavy chest. Trying to force a scream out, nothing worked—her eyelids the only part of her paralyzed body that obeyed her.
Ambrosia squinted hard and forced herself to inhale a slow, deep breath, then tried to wiggle her fingers. The slight twitch empowered her. She moved her toes, and then her head a little, side to side, and finally she was gaining control. Drawing air in, the soothing whiff of amber and vanilla danced in her nose. The oil infuser at her bedside made waking up a little more enjoyable despite her discomfort.
Sighing with relief, she glanced over to the glaring red numbers on her nightstand. Three thirty-three. The same time every morning. This mundane existence was exhausting. Waking up with her heart pounding, perspiration streaming from every pore, despite the chill that overtook her body—was her illness taking its course? Restless now that her strength began to return, she flung the soaked covers off and eased her feet onto the cold floor, feeling around for her fuzzy slippers.
A cup of chamomile tea might help her get back to sleep and even warm up a little. Cloaking herself in her terrycloth housecoat, she wandered down to the kitchen, flicking lights on along her way. Ambrosia dragged the kettle to the tap and forced the faucet on with weak fingers. She curled up in her rocking chair by the window to read yesterday’s paper.
She read over the local news, wishing she had some interest in anything outside of her self-pity. A carnival was in town this weekend—rides, games, derby.
A gypsy fortuneteller
! Her doctors could provide no explanation for her morning fright. Maybe the psychic could give her some answers.
I’ll go tonight
The kettle clicked and Ambrosia hauled herself out of the chair. She gripped the handle with all her meager strength and poured the steaming water into her big cobalt mug. While the brew steeped, she wandered over to her desk and turned on her laptop. A number of emails downloaded, mostly spam, then she gasped—the reply she had been waiting for from Madame Evangeline. The date had been set.
Bright, twinkling carnival lights had offered a thrill in her youth. The loud chatter of passersby, the continuous bantering of the carnies who tried to hustle unsuspecting parents into blowing a bundle on a tiny, fifty-cent stuffed bear, the buttery smell of popcorn and the hot sugar aroma of cotton candy….
Even the laughter of people at the games, and the screams of excitement on the clanking rollercoaster as it climbed to the terrifying top of the hill had no impact on her. She walked through the crowd on heavy legs, stepping over spilled pop containers, scattered midway tickets, and the rest of the trash that littered the asphalt. Connecting with nothing and no one, she was the equivalent of the walking dead.
Under the starlit sky, the primary colors of the striped tents loomed dark and dingy, perfect props for the eerie aura that encompassed the sultry summer evening. Ambrosia scanned the row of tents and then spotted the sign:
Madame Zovka’s Fortune Telling
. Grabbing a handkerchief from her back pocket, she dabbed beads of perspiration from her forehead and temples as she approached the open flap.
“Come in child, I’ve been waiting for you.”
An older gypsy woman with long, flowing silver hair sat behind a table in a black velvet and pink satin paisley shawl. Her gold-coined headscarf glittered in the flickering lights of the dozens of candles lit throughout the makeshift tent.
“Me?” Ambrosia eyed the woman patting the red tablecloth with her wrinkled hand.
“Yes, you dear, the one with questions about her sleep.” The bright pink lipstick creased in dark lines over her weathered lips and the thick dusting of rouge on her wrinkled cheeks seemed fitting with her attire. Chantilly perfume, with the heady scent of sandalwood and orange blossoms lingered about her. A quaint and eccentric lady with kind blue eyes, and a smile that could melt an iceberg.
“How did you…?” Ambrosia’s pulse began to race for the first time in weeks.
“Sit and have some tea, and we can have a nice chat, little one.” Ambrosia nodded, easing her way into the squeaky, wooden folding chair.
“My name is Madame Zovka.” She poured the tea from an old teapot.
“Hello, I’m Ambrosia.”
“Your parents were romantics, weren’t they dear, with a powerful draw to Greek and Roman times?”
“Yes.” The question evoked a flash of warm, childhood memories of her beloved parents, reading her fascinating stories of the Greek gods. “I suppose that explains my unusual name.”
“You still miss them so.” Madame Zovka put the teapot down and patted her hand. “You were twelve when they passed?”
Ambrosia’s stomach flipped. “Yes, in a car accident. Can you speak with them?” A tear started to form.
speak to them all the time. They say you are such a sad person, but one of great strength and determination. Give me your hand, little one. Let me read your fortune.” She put the teacup beside Ambrosia’s left hand, collected her right one, and examined her palm.
“What do you see?” She was a little skeptical. Coming for a reading was probably pointless; she already knew her fate. It was undisputable.
“You have lost your faith; therefore you have lost your will, my dear.” Madame traced her finger along the telling lines.
“It would seem so.” The warmth of a tear spilled down her cheek. She didn’t have the strength to hold it back.
“You stopped taking your medicine?” Madame glanced up with alarm in her eyes.
“They told you there is no hope. They gave you such a short time—six weeks?” She took in a sharp breath.
“Yes, I didn’t see a need for pills and needles if there is no hope. I don’t feel there’s any dignity or quality of life for me in that.”
“Your body has been through so much, it is understandable.” Her grip tightened and the compassion in her expression was compelling.
“Was I wrong to do so?” A hint of hope sparked for a brief moment.
Madame looked down again, analyzing the map of her life and shook her head with a furrowed brows and pressed lips.
“I am sorry, child. I do not see healing for your illness; at least, not in the conventional way.” She sat back, raised her teacup to her fuchsia stained lips, and sipped loudly.
Ambrosia’s heart sank with defeat as the words saturated her soul—then struck a chord. “Wait, what do you mean conventional?”
“Your body is fragile and getting weaker every day. Your blood, your immune system cannot fight off the cancer any longer.”
“That I knew.” The slight animation dissolved. Why did she put herself through it—another false hope?
“It involves the taste of copper.” The gypsy’s brows rose along with her voice.
“Copper? What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I can’t see clearly, but there is an insatiable thirst.”
“I don’t get it.” A sigh of frustration slipped out; her shoulders dropped.
“You have questions about awaking every morning at three thirty-three, and in such an uncomfortable way.”
“Yes, why is that? Is it the leukemia? I can’t move, I’m cold, but I sweat anyway, I’m panicked and it’s always the exact same time when I wake up. Am I going crazy?”
“Not at all.” She chortled.
“What’s so funny?” Ambrosia’s annoyance was rising.
“You have been busy in your sleep, seeking your true love.”
“I have? I don’t understand.”
“Have you ever heard of astral projection?”
“Yes. It’s like an out-of-body experience, right?”
Okay, where is she going with this
“Precisely. You have been traveling every night for months, seeking out your mate, your true love.”
“Madame, you must be mistaken. I’m not in love…not even seeing anyone. I have no family, no friends. I don’t dream at all anymore, much less travel in my sleep.”
“That’s not entirely true.”
“I chose to be alone. The last bout of cancer hurt the people I was close to. I couldn’t put anyone through it again, especially not this time—so I shut them all out.”
“There is someone.” The psychic stroked her hand and she shuddered, tugged at it, but the woman held firm. Any human contact threatened to awaken a connection to life she tried hard to sever.
“You have found your match, but in your waking time you don’t remember. You have had some very exciting rendezvous, my dear.” Madame stared right through Ambrosia.
A slow fog rolled into the tent, chilling the air as it passed. It traveled across the ground and brushed over her sandaled feet. The coolness overtook Ambrosia’s skin and she rubbed her bare arms, fighting off shivers. A cricket jumped onto the table and started chirping. Ambrosia motioned to shoo it away, but Madame Zovka waved her hands emphatically.
“No, no, leave it; this is a sign.”
“A cricket is a sign?”
“Oh my dear, this is a very special message for you.” She slurped her tea back and nodded at Ambrosia’s cup. “Mind the leaves at the bottom; drink as much of the tea as you can.”
Ambrosia’s eyes widened in disbelief, but she gulped down the warm, spicy tea and held the chipped china cup out, waiting for more direction. The cricket’s chirping grew loud and distracting; her eyes darted between the cup and the insect with annoyance.
“Now, make a wish and place your tea cup upside-down on the saucer. Let’s see what your fortune is.” Madame’s voice was filled with excitement, a far cry from the doom and gloom she’d displayed a minute before.
That’s easy enough. I wish I wasn’t about to die
! Ambrosia swirled the last of the tea over the loose leaves then carefully upended the cup.
When a second cricket appeared and jumped on Ambrosia’s shoulder, the chirping grew even louder, this time, right in her ear. Then, it leapt next to the other one on the table, and the chirping stopped with a deafening silence.
“What just happened?” Ambrosia found it odd, but wasn’t well versed in the habits of crickets.
“He was calling to her.” Madame pointed to the new arrival. “Then
came to him.”
What else does she put in her tea
This woman is off her rocker
“Once they find each other, they become mates.”
The happy pair hopped off the table and disappeared.
“Give me your cup.” Madame motioned with her fingers.
Ambrosia pushed the saucer over. The old lady had most likely lost her marbles.
She lifted the cup and bent close to the leaves, studying the pattern. “He brings with him the promise of healing and true, eternal love.”
“The one you see in your dreams every night. He calls and you go to him, freely. You are destined to be together forever.” Her melting smile returned.
“Look, Madame Zovka, the tea was great and this was—interesting, but I think you missed the whole point.” Heat filled her cheeks, as she chose her words with care.
The poor old dear means well, no reason to hurt her feelings
. “I have leukemia. I’ve been given six weeks to live.” Admitting it aloud made it more real, immediate. “This whole
destiny, together forever
business is way off the mark and I can’t—no—I
get my hopes up. I have to be realistic.”