Murder In The Cards

Murder In The Shadows #2

by Nell DuVall

Leah Chernowski discovers more in the Tarot cards than she wants to know when she reads them for Ted Muccino, a sexy skeptic who doubts both her and the cards. Even her best friend Tula Mohr predicts love for the two. However, dreams show a hidden enemy determined to kill Ted. Leah must first convince the stubborn Italian an enemy exists and then unravel clues to the man's identity before she and Ted can find love.


Excerpt

Prologue

 

Cob hunched down and traced Danny’s name on the headstone ready to be placed on the grave. “Danny, Danny, you didn’t deserve this. You had your whole life ahead of you. You wanted to be a doctor and you would’ve been a good one, too.”

Dried brown leaves scuttled past. The chilly wind blew his suit jacket against his back. He hadn’t worn an overcoat. Then the rain came, and icy raindrops mingled with tears on his face. Soon his jacket grew sodden, and he began to shiver. At last, he rose and walked to the bus stop.

At home, he hung up his wet suit, showered, made coffee, and filled a mug. Danny had left an unfinished life and incomplete dreams. All Cob could do for him was to live that life and make those dreams a reality. That, and one more thing—the driver who killed Danny must pay for taking his life. Mom always quoted that bible of hers. “An eye for an eye, a life for a life.” No matter how long it took, Cob would see that happen.

His hands tightened on the coffee mug. Forcing his muscles to relax, he pulled the newspaper clipping toward him and smoothed out the folds. He read the account of the accident again, ignoring the bit about the woman who was killed.

 

“The driver of the car, Ted Muccino, suffered minor cuts, a mild concussion, and a broken leg. Unable to save the passenger, Carolyn Giovanni, the Emergency Squad transported Mr. Muccino to Riverside Hospital for treatment.”

 

Ted Muccino. The name meant nothing to Cob, but he would find this Muccino and make him pay. Nothing could bring Danny back, but he deserved justice. Cob folded the clipping.

 


Chapter One

 

Seated like a Buddha on Tula’s Turkish carpet, Leah Chernowski stared at the faded tarot cards on the red silk square before her. On a whim, she had laid out the cards to pass the time until some of Tula’s friends made the trek to the second-floor study for a reading.

Every few weeks or so, her best friend Tula Mohr held an open house for her many friends and acquaintances, an eclectic mix of people—university professors, students, artists, and even Tula’s business acquaintances. Leah read fortunes for them. The cards seldom showed real tragedy. On those few occasions when they had, she tempered her reading and provided comfort and reassurance where she could. She always reminded the anxious ones the cards only indicated a possible future course, advising them they still had personal choices and actions they took made their future. Relieving their anxiety gave her satisfaction.

This particular pattern in the cards confused her. It signified change, danger, and new beginnings. She seldom read the cards for herself, only too aware of the dangers of misreading them. However, boredom had led her to turn to the cards. Happy with her current life, she had no idea how the reading related to her.

Annoyed, she scattered the alarming pattern and shuffled the cards. She gazed around the familiar room, relishing its solid comfort. Tula had a talent for combining the exotic and the mundane to create a harmonious whole. Tonight, she and Tula had moved the rolltop desk and the stuffed chairs to the sides of the room to clear the center of the navy and red Turkish carpet so people could sit and Leah had space to spread the cards. Sandalwood incense added an air of mystery. People always expected some sort of mumbo-jumbo associated with the cards and, despite Leah’s objections, Tula insisted on the incense.

Restless, Leah rose and paced to the doorway and back. To please Tula, she had worn her red peasant skirt with her favorite gold silk blouse. She resumed her cross-legged position on the carpet and tucked the full skirt around her ankles. Her colorful clothes and black hair caused more than one person to ask about her gypsy background. She always laughed but made no mention of her grandmother.

To prepare for a reading, she smoothed the red silk square on which she always placed the cards. Someone would come. Women especially wanted to know the future. Most of their questions centered on love, a man, or sometimes a job promotion. If no one appeared soon, she’d go downstairs, have some tea, and catch up on her friend Cassie Blake’s wedding preparations. Startled by a noise at the doorway, she looked up to see a man surveying her with a sardonic look.

His dark hair, brushed to one side, framed a square face. Black eyes studied her with a skeptical intensity that both annoyed and amused her. Suddenly, the book-lined walls and the Turkish carpet disappeared. Nothing existed beyond the magnetic depth of his compelling gaze. Leah hovered somewhere out of time and out of place. Only the dark eyes full of secrets and passion existed. They challenged her to discover those secrets and taste that passion. Drawn to the man as if she had known him well, she knew they had never met—not in this life.

Tales her mother told her of a gypsy grandmother entered her thoughts, one who read past lives and the future. Lovers linked through life after life. They sought one another to love, then lost, and loved again in the next life. Soul mates. The words made Leah want to laugh. No soul mate for her. She had come to think of herself as fated to watch others love, but never to feel emotions that reached the core of her being. Somehow, the very presence of this man taunted her. His eyes bored into her heart and unsettled her with unaccustomed thoughts. Heat rose unbidden and threatened to consume her.

“Barbara said her reading was amazing.”

At the sound of a woman’s voice, Leah blinked and the room returned to normal.

“Come on, Ted, it’ll be fun.”

A well-dressed young woman dragged the dark-eyed man forward. His expressive face challenged Leah, but now interest had withered to suspicion and a show-me attitude. Hostility rolled off him like the stink from a road-kill skunk.

She sighed, her emotions once more under control. She saw far too many like him with hidebound attitudes who admitted nothing beyond what they could see, taste, feel, or smell. If it had no physical reality, it didn’t exist.

His sensual, dark Mediterranean looks contrasted sharply with the cool Anglo-Saxon glow of his blonde girlfriend. He spelled trouble. Leah sniffed. Opposites attract. So what? He meant nothing to her.

The dark-eyed man scowled first at his companion and then at Leah. “Look, Janice, I really don’t like this. You can’t expect to get anything from it except a few laughs.”

The blonde woman settled her full silk skirt on the carpet like a graceful blue butterfly as she sat across from Leah. “I’d like a reading, please.”

The man, casually dressed in khaki slacks and a blue oxford shirt, sank down Indian style, his back a ramrod. He studied the books lining the walls with interest and then turned his suspicious gaze to Leah.

Amused, Leah faced the young woman. “I’m Leah Chernowski.”

“Janice Winters. This is my fiancĂ©, Ted Muccino.”

Ted gave Leah a wary look. She smiled sweetly and then focused her attention on his fiancĂ©e. His gaze never wavered and made Leah’s skin prickle. Straightening her shoulders, she picked up the tarot deck.

“I presume you want the cards read.”

“Yes, please.”

Murder In The Cards

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Genres

Paranormal

Mystery
Series

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