Biting his lip, Graham turned the card of the here and now quickly. Seeing what he’d most feared tightened his chest. The central figure sat in profile upon a throne carved with angels and butterflies. She wore a white gown and a cloak decorated with clouds. More clouds gathered in the background, suggesting a storm was coming. The woman’s left hand reached out toward someone or something unseen in the distance. Her other hand gripped the up-thrust symbol of her suit.
The Queen of Swords.
He’d drawn the card only once before: the morning he’d met Catharine La Croix at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the Seine. To say her resemblance to Caitriona discomposed him was an understatement. He’d been floored by the likeness. He’d also been drawn to it like a sailor to a siren’s song. Unfortunately, he’d had no ship’s mast to rope himself to until the danger passed. Within a few weeks, they were deeply in love. He never suspected she might meet the same fate as her previous incarnation. Not until it was too late, anyway.
He’d done his best to protect her. After seeing Gerard Fitzgerald, the dark wizard who’d cursed him, on the street outside her apartment on Rue de Cherche Midi, he’d kept a watchful eye on her. Being as stubborn as before, she didn’t care for his vigil. One morning, she slipped out after he’d fallen asleep. He’d searched for her everywhere, out of his mind with worry. He’d had her blood, should have felt her, but he didn’t. That evening, he learned why.
Fitzgerald had done it. Of that, he was certain. He just didn’t know why. Now, it looked as if history was about to repeat. And what could he do about it except tear out his hair, beat his fists on the walls, and cry to heaven, “Why? Why give her back to me only to take her again?”
Grief closed around his throat like a strangler’s hands. Coughing to ease its grip, he overturned the card of his future. Surprise stung his heart when he saw The Fool. Squinting, he studied the image of a gaily-dressed youth whose open arms seemed to embrace the world. His right hand held a knapsack, his left, a single white rose. Nipping at his heels was a wee white dog. The Fool, fearing nothing, looked skyward with a dreamy expression as he strode toward the edge of a cliff.
Bewildered, he shook his head. What could it mean? The Fool stood on the threshold. He was the protagonist of the tarot, the archetypal hero embarking on his quest, the soul starting its journey toward atonement. The Fool, in other words, was the polar opposite of the hopeless, faithless tightrope walker Fitzgerald’s dark curse had turned him into over the past one hundred years.
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