This is another excerpt from “Sugar Roux Voodoo”. In this scene Miss Marietta has snuck aboard Lark’s fancy riverboat, and begs to have her fortune told...
Miss Marietta’s guileless eyes scanned every detail of the parlor. Her jaw gaped. “It’s absolutely lovely in here. Bright. Cheerful. I don’t know what I was expecting. Perhaps juju bundles, stinky herbs and dead things staring back at me.” Her shoulders relaxed. “This could be the drawing room of any of the best plantations.” She glanced up in awe. “That is a stunning cut-crystal chandelier.”
“Thank you it was a gift from a friend in Bohemia.”
“My goodness.” Miss Marietta turned in a slow circle, taking everything in. “I can’t
wait to tell the ladies how wrong they were.”
Lark smiled politely. “I know you’re not here to admire the decor. What can I do for
Miss Marietta glanced downward. “You may have heard, I’m newly engaged to Julian Vandersmith. He’s a wonderful man!” She gushed with forced enthusiasm. “He’s doesn’t interrupt with mindless chatter during church sermons. He sits stoically in respectful silence while I speak. He’s so refined, even his socks and handkerchiefs are perfectly coordinated with his trousers every day, and he never laughs with his mouth open. He just chuckles quietly with closed lips.”
“Sounds delightful, I’m sure you’ll be very happy.”
“Maybe.” In her nervousness, Miss Marietta gracelessly plopped herself on Lark’s curved, crimson-upholstered chaise. Her voluminous hoop skirts tilted and snapped upward, momentarily swallowing her face behind tiers of fluffy fabric exposing her pantaloons. “Pardon me!” Her hands frantically battled the cumbersome skirts back into place, but they immediately popped back up. “Damn!” She gasped at her own outburst as she fought to subdue the skirt that refused to stay down. “Please excuse me for swearing.”
Lark bit her lip in an attempt not to laugh at Miss Marietta’s comical struggle. “Don’t give it a thought, dear.”
When she emerged from beneath the mound of crinoline, Miss Marietta’s face was bright pink with embarrassment. She leaned forward on her elbows, anchoring the skirt. “I shall endeavor to compose myself and move beyond this beast of a skirt.” She drew a nervous breath. Her voice dropped to a solemn whisper. “My mammy told me you have the gift, that you can see the future. My mammy believes in you. That’s why I took the risk of coming here. I’ll pay you any price or do anything you ask if you will do the mirror of clarity card spread for me.” Her gaze sharpened. “I know you’ve done it for others, and I need you to do it tonight. I have to be sure I’m making the right choice.”
“I’ll assume you’re having doubts about Mister Julian?”
“Mister Julian is well-bred, well-to-do and absolutely wonderful.” Miss Marietta paused uncomfortably. “But there is another…”
“I see.” Lark nodded her head. “I have to warn you, the mirror of clarity reading is a difficult card spread to do. It will be draining on both of us, and you may not like what you hear. For this reason, I rarely perform the card spread. A glimpse of the future can be very disturbing. So please reconsider, Miss Marietta—are you certain about this?”
“Are you going to do it?” Miss Marietta’s eyes lit with delight. “I’m certain I want to know!”
“You understand I will ask a gift of service from you?”
“Ask anything, Miss La Beau. My daddy’s a wealthy man. He’s not obsessed with dynastic matchmaking like my mama. He just wants me to be happy.”
“I didn’t ask for your money, Miss Marietta, I asked for your time and trouble.”
Miss Marietta piously folded her hands over her heart. “I promise I will visit the Catahoula Parish orphanage and buy every child a new pair of shoes.”
“Lovely start, don’t forget to sit down with the children for an afternoon and teach them something—anything. I don’t care what.”
A broad smile lit Miss Marietta’s delicate face. “So you’re going to do it?”
Lark walked toward the bureau and picked up a set of brass skeleton keys and carried them toward an ornately inlaid ebony cabinet that stood on the carved paws of lions and opened the folding doors. Her fingertips sought out the delicate mechanism that triggered a hidden lock. A second compartment quietly slid open.
“Oh my, a secret drawer.” Miss Marietta’s eyes widened. “This is so exciting. Would you prefer I avert my gaze?” She stared onward in rapt fascination.
“You’re fine. Look all you like.” Lark knew the roux she had placed on her accoutrements cabinet was so powerful there was simply no way a casual vandal would ever get past the first protective layer of magic. Any overly curious or unauthorized person approaching the cabinet was in for a nasty surprise. Their fingertips would burn terribly and their eyes would water and itch incessantly until they found the good sense to abandon the invasion and step away.
Miss Marietta craned her neck in an attempt to see every tiny movement Lark made. “Aren’t you afraid someone might walk in here and steal from your cabinet?”
“No, not at all,” Lark answered confidently as she removed a rosewood case heavily embellished with carved scrollwork and symbols and inserted the largest of the brass skeleton keys into the lock.
She didn’t want to go the trouble of explaining to Miss Marietta the carefully designed system of locks and keys were there to keep power in, not keep the curious out. There was real power inside this box that generations of beneficent voodoo queens had contributed to. A shiver of anticipation raced up her arm as the brass key slid inside the lock.
As the key turned, the tumblers inside the lock dropped and played a brief but sweet chirping bird song. The hinge of the case released and the rosewood box opened on its own. A scant whiff of rose oil filled the air. She carefully lifted a very old, very powerful deck of tarot cards from the velvet-lined box. “I’m going to use the Tarot de Marseilles. This deck of cards came from France a long time ago and many powerful voodoo queens have used them. Are you absolutely certain you still want to see your future?”
Miss Marietta gulped hard and nodded.
“All right then, we’re ready to start.”
(Beyond this it gets good, lots of suspense and a very dirty dark tale is told…So go buy the book already! lol)
Here’s the link to book trailer, if you haven’t seen it yet please take a look.
“Sugar Roux Voodoo” available now from Ellora’s Cave Legend Line