“Ooooh, baby, let’s do this. It’ll be fun!” The high-pitched squeal from the bubbly co-ed cut through the cacophony of drunken revelers in Jackson Square. Lucy prayed they would move on. Although she could use the money, reading some nineteen-year-old college student and her stud of the day wasn’t something she wanted to do this afternoon.

She lifted her eyes to the sky, the evening was upon them, and as the sun set, her day would end. Nightfall also meant the excitement and debauchery of Mardi Gras would commence. She snorted to herself, Mardi Gras had no end, it just broke for a few hours at dawn then starts right up again as the sun rises right up until Lent.

“Pleeeeeease, baaaaaaaby?”

The blonde’s pleas were beginning to grate on her nerves. Lucy tilted her head down, casting her big blue eyes onto the multi-colored satin fabric on her table. She usually enjoyed having someone excited sitting with her. They were so much easier to read. They had no walls to break through, no barriers to impede her gift.  However, today was different. She flexed her shoulders, rolling them as if to dislodge the heaviness that seemed to settle upon them earlier this morning. She glanced up, there a few feet in front of her was the cute little blonde, and the muscular jock she nabbed. Lucy gritted her teeth. In her mind, the scene flashed quickly. Perky walked into the lobby of the Hotel Monteleone, where the jock was staying. He’d been hanging out there with some of his frat brothers trying to figure out what bars they’d hit tonight when he decided he would try getting her into bed instead. The poor girl had a reputation for falling for jocks and stood no chance against the muscular, dark-haired quarterback that smiled at her at the elevator bank. He was going to put another notch in his belt.

“Oh! Lookie!” Perky pointed in Lucy’s direction. “She’s got an empty chair!”

Lucy tried to smile, but she forced it and probably only managed to look constipated instead. She pulled the blue scarf down from the top of her head and finger-combed her long black hair back before tying it back in place. The girl pulled her annoyed suitor along with her as they dodged the street performers and artists camped around Lucy.

“Hi!” She said, all smiles and giggles. “Are you a fortune-teller?”

“I’m a psychic medium.”

“Isn’t that the same thing?” Jock asked.

“No,” Lucy said, motioning to the seat. “Which one of you wants to be read?”

“You tell us.” Jock boy said with a smirk.

Lucy’s eyes narrowed. “You would love it, but you don’t think it’s a macho thing to do, so you allowed her to bring you over in hopes that maybe something I say will resonate with you. How about this,” Lucy paused, tapping into the well within her where secrets bled into her consciousness. “Your grandmother, Viola, says you should spend more time … are you sure … okay, she says you should spend more time studying and less time fucking around.” Lucy smiled broadly, “Your grandmother is a character.”

The jock’s face paled as he stared down at Lucy, “How the hell did you know my grandmother’s name?” He searched the area wildly.

“Your frat brothers aren’t here,” Lucy said. “I think they’re over at Lafitte’s, drinking beer and picking up women. Well, trying to anyway.”

The blonde giggled and waited, “Was she right on? Would your grandmother use the F word like that?”

Jock nodded silently.

“Coooooooooool!” The blonde sat down at the table, “How much for a reading?”

“Ten dollars for a palm reading and twenty for a card.” Lucy rolled her shoulders again, the heaviness weighing down on her. She frowned at the new sensation, not enjoying it one bit.

The girl bit her lip. Her head tilted left to right as if she were trying to figure out or justify which one to choose. It took all the strength Lucy had, not to roll her eyes.

“Okay, okay, I want a palm reading. Wait! What’s the difference?”

“Tarot is a little more in-depth, but palm is just as good if you don’t want to know specifics,” Lucy explained.

“Okay.” She handed her a ten-dollar bill, and Lucy grasped her outstretched wrist, causing her to squeal in surprise.

“Just relax.” Lucy placed the girl’s hand on the table so she could put the cash in the small purse at her hip. That done, she reached out with her senses as she ran her fingertips over the young woman’s palm. Inhaling deeply and opening her consciousness to the other side, Lucy looked down at the myriad lines and wrinkles in her skin.

 “Okay, Tracy—”

“How did you know my name?”

“You’re wearing a necklace with a nameplate. I just assumed that was your name.”

Tracy put her free hand on her chest and caressed the necklace. “Oh. Go on.”

Lucy breathed in the smells of the restaurants, river, and Café Du Monde and found comfort in it. She proceeded to tell the girl about her childhood in Pennsylvania before telling her the usual things about her future, such as her job, how many children she would bear, and how she would live a long life. In the end, Tracy was all smiles.

“That was incredible! Thank you.”

Lucy returned her grin, “You’re welcome.”

Tracy rose from her chair and turned to leave with her Mardi Gras boyfriend, but Lucy stopped them. “Hey, Jack.”

He arched a brow, “Yeah?”

“A bit of advice from Viola and me.”

“What’s that?”

Lucy motioned him closer, so he was out of Tracy’s earshot. “You might want to listen to your grandmother. Your scholarship is on the line if you don’t bring your grades up.”

He pulled back quickly and nodded. “Thanks.”

“No problem, have fun you two and be safe out there tonight.” Lucy waved and felt the hair on the back of her neck rise. She turned in a circle trying to figure out who was watching her but saw nothing except everyone starting to close up shop. The sky was darkening. Twilight approached quickly, which meant the street artists would depart, and the tour companies would take over with their tales of ghosts, voodoo, vampires, and witches like herself.

Shrugging off the feeling, she bent to pick up her backpack from beneath the table when someone grabbed her ass. She shot up immediately, turning to catch the asshole college idiot who’d dare touch her.

Standing a few feet away was not the cowering frat boy she expected, but a woman with beautiful bronze-colored skin dressed entirely in white. Her dark, tightly curled hair held back from her subtly made-up face with a scarf, her brown eyes wide with merriment, her full lips pulled back in a gorgeous smile.

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