"Not on purpose," I said.
"Hush, I'm not finished."
"Overlaying the Miser is the six of swords, help unseen, or help from a spiritual source. Overlaying the Lovers is the four of rods, the marriage card. Overlaying the out in the cold is the ten of pentacles, happy prosperous home. Hmm. The King of Rods and the six of cups stand on their own, but the two of swords has crossed with the Queen of Wands. Nathaniel's card is crossed with the ten of cups, a happy home, true love. The Knight of Wands is crossed by the Devil, temptation."
"Okay, I get most of it, but who is the Knight of Wands, and why is he covered by temptation? And who is the Queen of Wands?"
"I think the Queen of Wands is you."
"I'm always the Queen of Swords."
"Maybe that's changing. Maybe you're coming into your power, into yourself."
"I'm already myself," I said.
"Have it your way."
"I'm trying to."
"I'd say the Lovers and the four of rods are your old fiancé in college that dumped you. That experience led you to be the Miser with your emotions. You need to let that go. Your home was the five of pentacles, cold, but now it's a happy prosperous home. You're going to be offered up some difficult choices soon; that has something to do with someone from your past. I think Micah's card is the message that he's helped you heal some of those old wounds, because he bridges the past with deity."
"He's a gift from deity?"
"Don't be cheeky. When the universe, or God, or Goddess, or whatever you choose to say, gives you someone in your life that comes in and makes so much right, so quickly, be grateful. Be grateful instead of picking at it." Marianne knew me too well.
"And the Knight of Wands?"
"Someone new, or someone old, but you'll be seeing them in a new light. It will be a temptation, but the wands represent power, so it could be a temptation to use power or gain power, rather than anything relationshipwise."
"I don't need more temptation in my life, Marianne."
"Did you start a case tonight?"
"Why?" I asked.
"Because I felt compelled to draw another card. It's the eight of swords, a woman bound and blindfolded, surrounded by swords. A woman died tonight."
I try to avoid calling Marianne in the middle of a murder case, for a lot of reasons, this was one of them. It creeped me out, and gave her nightmares.
"Five of rods, there will be a lot of conflict on this one, and more to die. But the Justice card says the guilty will be punished, and it will work out, but not without loss. The eight of pentacles? That's odd. Someone will be involved that was once your teacher. Someone older. Do you know who that would be?"
I thought about it being Dolph, but that didn't sound right. "I don't know, maybe."
"They haven't come into the situation, yet, but they will. They will help you."
"How sure are you that there will be more killings?"
"Aren't you sure of it?" she asked, and she had that tone in her voice that said she was listening to voices I couldn't hear.
"Yeah, I got that feeling."
"Trust your feelings, Anita."
"I'll try," I said.
"You must be almost home by now."
I didn't ask how she knew we were turning into the driveway. She wouldn't really have been able to tell me. Psychic stuff wasn't big on A, B, C logic. It was more like A to G, leaps of logic, with no road map as to how we got to G.
"Yeah, we're home."
Micah blew me a kiss and got out of the Jeep. I heard Nathaniel get out of the back. They both closed the doors and left me in the suddenly dark car, alone with the phone.
Marianne spoke into the sudden silence. "Oh, one more thing, the message I just got was, 'You know what you need to do. Why are you asking me?' That's not my message to you, you know I never mind you asking my advice. I actually kind of like it. Who else have you been asking advice from?"
I opened my mouth, and closed it. "I prayed."
"What I'm getting is that you usually only pray when you're out of other options that you like. It might be nice if you prayed as something other than a last resort." She said it so matter-of-factly. Nothing big, you prayed, God can't talk to you, so he left a message on your machine. Great.
I licked my suddenly dry lips, and said, "It doesn't bother you that you just took a message from God for me?"
"Well, it wasn't from him directly. He just sent it." Again, utterly matter-of-fact, no big deal.
"Sometimes you creep me out."
She laughed. "You raise the dead and slay the undead, and I frighten you."
Put that way, it sounded silly, but it was still true. "Let's just say that I'm glad you have your psychic powers, and I have mine. I feel guilty enough without knowing the future."
"Don't feel guilty, Anita, follow your heart. No, it was the Queen of Rods, not of Cups. So follow your power, let it take you where you need to go. Trust yourself, and trust those around you."
"You know I don't trust anybody."
"You trust me."
"Stop poking at it, Anita. Your heart is not a wound to be poked at to see if the scab is ready to come off. You can be healed of that very old pain, if you'll just let it happen."
"So everybody keeps telling me."
"If all your friends are saying one thing, and your heart is saying the same thing, and only your fear is arguing, then stop fighting."
"I'm not good at giving up."
"No, I'd say that is the thing you are worst at. Giving up something that no longer serves a purpose, or protects you, or helps you, isn't giving up at all, it's growing up."
I sighed. "I hate it when you make this much sense."
"You hate it, and you count on it."
"Go inside, Anita, go inside, and make your choice. I've said all I have to say, now it's up to you."
"And I hate that most of all," I said.
"What?" she asked.
"That you don't try and influence me, not really, you just report, tell me my choices, and let me go."
"I offer guidance, nothing more."
"I'm hanging up now, and you're going inside. Because you can't sleep out in the car." The phone went dead before I could whine at her anymore. Marianne was right, like usual. I hated that she just gave me information and helped me think, but wouldn't tell me what to do. Of course, if she'd tried to boss me around, I wouldn't have tolerated it. I made my own choices, and when someone pushed me, it just made me more determined to ignore them, so Marianne never pushed. Here's your information, here are your choices, now go be a grown-up and make them.
I got out of the Jeep and hoped I was grown-up enough for this particular choice.
The living room was dark as I entered the house. The only light was from the kitchen. One or both of them had walked through the pitch-dark living room and only hit a light switch when they went to the kitchen to check messages on the machine, which was on the kitchen counter. Leopards' eyes are better in the dark than a human's, and Micah's eyes were permanently stuck in kitty-cat mode. He often walked through the entire house with no lights, just drifting from room to room, avoiding every obstacle, gliding through the dark with the same confidence I used in bright light.
There was enough light from the kitchen, so I, too, left the living room dark. The white couch seemed to give off its own glow, though I knew that was illusion, made up of the reflective quality of the white, white cloth. I was pretty sure the men had both gone to change for the night. Most lycanthropes, whatever the flavor, preferred fewer clothes, and Micah didn't like dressing up. I walked into the empty kitchen not because I needed to, but because I wasn't ready to go to the bedroom. I still didn't know what I was going to do.
The kitchen held a large dining room table now. The breakfast nook on its little raised platform with its bay window looking out over the woods still held a smaller four-seater table. Four had been more chairs than I needed when I moved into this house. Now, because we usually had at least some of the other wereleopards bunking over due to emergency, or, often, just the need to be close to more of their group, their pard, we needed a six-seater table. Actually we needed a bigger one than that, but it was all my kitchen would hold.