Can a pair of Snake-Eyes Dice Cause Maura's Swirling Black Death?
A Women of Valor Novel
Psychic witch and investigative reporter Maura Robichard has just been awarded a Pulitzer for her shocking expose on 'Women and the Need to be Beautiful'. She's a star at the New Orleans Times Picayune and still celebrating when the dreams, remote viewings and visions begin --- this time invading her days, nights and senses with playing cards, snake-eyes dice and swirling black death. She finds herself at the Diamond Casino in the Big Easy where trouble escalates until she's confronted with unparalleled evil, treachery, and fear.
Can Maura act quickly to save the people she loves?
Gripping and Fast-Moving!
Reviewed in the United States:
“Judith Lucci can paint pictures with words very deftly without need of gutter language to convey raw reality. Top-level author, from whom I need to read more. Her characters are razor sharp, and her descriptions make me feel a part of the book.”
Release date: June 16, 2021
Print pages: 199
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
Seer of Truth
Seer of Truth
The dog-eared deck had survived countless nights of solitaire, its glossy card stock worn into a textural fabric by my restless thumbs. A mindless game, it settled the thoughts and visions when they otherwise kept me awake. The Jack of Diamonds flipped up as the top card. The Messenger. With a shout, his words began to pour outward, flooding me with gibberish broken only by phrases of warning and calm all at once. He was not to be trusted. Growing more and more belligerent by the second, his erratic threats were interspersed with cajoling warmth and entreaties to see things his way. He recoiled, his image was pushed aside by an even louder voice.
It was the King of Diamonds, his haughty blond hair waving before a wind of flames. He demanded attention as figures of naked women swarmed upward from the neatly staggered piles like translucent ladies of the night. Their meager dresses flowed about them as they rubbed their thighs and breasts against the King, seeking his favor. He was vain, to be sure, but had a more potent message to dispatch. Dangerously attractive, the King sought revenge.
Coming closer to my ear from the distance was insane laughter. It flitted around my ears like a raucous bird, darting out of reach as I tried to swat it away. It laughed again, more loudly to mock me. Then, with a sudden swoosh, a card somersaulted into view. It was the Joker, dancing from its left to right edge as it remained beyond reach.
First one voice, then the next, became more and more shrill, spinning about my head in a nauseating vortex of visually conflicting energies - until something new rose before the whirlwind. Dice—snake eyes, to be exact. They joined the maelstrom and were tossed about, randomly indifferent, or perhaps in defiance of, the wind’s flow. The wail grew louder, punctuated by the crashing of dice against a hard, impenetrable surface. Whack! Whack!
Maura…listen now, the siren in the winds screamed. Maura…she who spreads lies. Ha-hah…silly Maura. You think you know it all, but you know nothing. Maura…don’t trust him. Maura…he means to harm you. Maura…Maura…Maura…
Hiss! The snake eyes transformed into a slithering reptile that ascended to inches before my face. Its slanted eyes blinked to stare into mine before extending upward to coil into the shape of a noose. I screamed, clawing at the air to move back out of the way, but as I moved, so did the characters in my wide-awake nightmare. Finally, when my back reached the wall, the serpent came forward, sliding across my chest. It undulated until it found the opening of my blouse and slipped inside. There it crept over my shoulder and upward, along the soft, vulnerable skin beneath my ear, so close to my jugular vein that I could feel its cold resistance against my own warm, pulsing blood.
I opened my mouth to scream, and the serpent saw its chance. It plunged into my mouth and down my throat. It was too late. I could no longer scream. No longer breathe. No longer…
After an undetermined period of tme I rose from my bed and looked at my sleeping husband. He was dead to the world. I went into the bathroom for a drink of water. I looked at myself in the mirror and the person who looked back wasn’t me. As my heart rate quieted, I decided to return to bed. There was still enough time for some decent shuteye. I prayed it would come and that the cards wouldn’t haunt me.
No, no, no. Not again. Panic invaded my body. I twisted, turned, and rubbed my eyes. Is this real? Please, no, don’t be real. Please. No more. I felt someone looking at me. But whom? I felt him above me. Terror ripped through me as I dreaded another possible violation by the snake. I pulled the covers over my head to escape as I tried to disappear into the plush comforter. After a few moments, I opened one eye and peeked out from the covers. The Jack of Diamonds stared at me, his evil eye fixed on my throat. I was frightened and fear cascaded through every pore. Chill bumps collided with sweat, and I began to shiver.
Then I realized I was moving. I was on a streetcar, on the New Orleans trolley headed uptown on the Carrollton line. The one-eyed Jack still stared at me from above. His look was hideous, repulsive, and I began to shake. What was his message? I was cold. Chilly. The streetcar was like a freezer. I looked around.
Everyone was dead.
The streetcar passengers were dead. Most of them sat straight in their seats and looked ahead. Some passengers had slumped to the side. Others lay back in their seats, their mouths hanging open. I was terrified and for a moment, blinded by my fear. My world went dark and my brain spun in terror. Nausea churned in my belly. I reached over and felt a softness. It was my husband at my side. I woke up.
It was a dream. Thanks be to God and all the Saints they’d taught me about in parochial school. It was only a dream. I was at home in my bed, safe, lying next to my beloved Peter, the man of my dreams and the focus of my life.
There it is again. Was I back? The one-eyed man with a crown. Who is he? I sat up in my bed and ignored the sweat that rolled down my spine. I was there. I saw it. I was traveling on the New Orleans trolley on the uptown line. The one-eyed man with the crown had jumped on the trolley and took a seat next to me. My heart raced in pain.
It had happened… again. It had happened yet again. I hugged my body and put my head between my knees. My skull pounded and my eyes burned in their sockets. Cold, icy fingers touched my neck and cheek. A moment later the horrific vision passed. Thank god. No snake!
I opened my eyes and looked over at my husband. Peter remained asleep. Fortunately I hadn't awakened him. Peter and I had finally ended our separation after living apart for what seemed like forever. It had been a lengthy separation where I’d endured some of the darkest days of my life. We’d been back together for about eight months, and I never wanted to be away from him again.
Peter was often troubled by my dreams − the spirits, the visions, the catastrophes, and the events that haunted me during my sleeping hours. He knew how painful they were for me. He wanted me to stop them… as though I could, or even would for that matter. The dreams and visions always meant something, whether it be good or bad. We’d almost divorced over it and I had been devastated, heartbroken, and barely functional. Fortunately, my family and friends had helped me exorcise those demons and months later, Peter and I were as happy as honeymooners.
But now they are back. At first, I thought of them as harmless dreams – and I hoped they still were. I’ve had several recurring casino dreams, one where I was having a glass of wine at the Magnolia Casino where I was accosted by snake eyes coming at me in every direction. Snake eyes that wanted to consume me, to devour and eat me alive. But I was fully awake when it happened. I’d pinched myself just to be sure. So it couldn’t be a dream. Perhaps it was a remote viewing. Ugh. Even though I’m a psychic witch, a good witch at that, I didn’t like remote viewings.
Remote viewings scare me. I don’t like to remotely view or acquire information from a distance because I have absolutely no control. I much prefer to see things when I use my physical senses. The ability to remote view is part of my gift of clairvoyance, which means knowing something without knowing why you know it. Some call it a second sight. I hadn’t had remote viewings for ages and it bothered me that they’d begun again.
I glanced again at my sleeping husband and slipped quietly from my bed. I went into my tiny kitchen to make coffee. I stirred heavy cream into my dark roast, waiting for the sleep fog to drain from my head. The act of stirring was an excuse for passing time. If I hadn’t had my coffee, I hadn’t started my day. Nothing counted before coffee. Not even serpents.
I carried the mug with both hands, clutching the earthenware for the warmth. After another mind-piercing vision, I felt deflated, not to mention more than a little sick. Despite the humidity, I was cold clear to the bone. It always happens this way. The visions drained me.
I was a witch. It wasn’t a trait of my personality, but an inheritance—as valid and authentic as the color of my eyes and hair. It wasn’t optional, especially when your grandmother was the Italian Warrior Witch, Andretina. The word that came to mind when she was mentioned was fierce—protective of all those she cared about, including the Wiccan covens. There were those, including my mother, who believed it was intended for me to eventually take her place. That was hard to imagine as her powers exceeded anything I understood. Perhaps there was more to come, or maybe my mother and others saw things in me I didn’t see myself.
The sounds of a commotion on the street below the window of my uptown New Orleans shotgun house might have drawn the more curious person to the window, but I was unconcerned and had another task in mind as I moved across the room. The phone was about to ring. I knew it would be Casey Bonneville, my editor-in-chief at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. We hadn’t scheduled a call—it was just that innate sense of clairvoyant precognition that was a part of my subconscious radar.
I picked up the phone exactly half a second before it began shrilling and Casey’s name came up on the caller ID. “Hi, whatcha got?”
“You did it again, didn’t you?”
“What do you mean?” I grinned to myself, knowing exactly what he meant.
“My point exactly. I know you knew I was calling. Can’t you extend an antenna somewhere so we don’t have to even talk? You can just intuit what I have to say?” Casey sounded happy, even jovial.
“Very funny. You know it doesn’t work that way or my life would be considerably easier. Anyway, it was a rough night. Give me a break, huh? You got something for me?”
“You want to talk about it on the phone or come in?”
It only took a few seconds to make up my mind. “I’ll come in. Something tells me I can’t handle this from home.”
“Probably a good idea. But there’s good news too. It isn’t all bad.” His voice held a hint of drama.
I yawned. “Okay, see you soon.”
I disconnected and only then went to the window and opened the shutters. Dust-speckled sunlight poured in, telling me it was later than I’d realized. My visions had a way of consuming great blocks of time even though it seemed like only seconds to me.
I groaned as I spotted the commotion below. It seemed two dog owners were walking their fur children and had developed a difference of opinion. Their discord was growing in volume and ire and a crowd had begun to gather. It underscored what I’d already been feeling. Something dark and foreboding was taking place in the Big Easy.
I returned to the kitchen. My hand brushed the table Peter and I had purchased from an antique shop on Magazine Street shortly after our marriage. We’d refinished it together that very day. Tears popped into my eyes when I remembered the sleepless nights I’d sat at this table during my separation from Peter. My heart ached in agony as I remembered the feelings of desperation and worthlessness I’d suffered when Peter was gone. I can’t let these dreams or visions happen again. I can’t lose him. Peter is a part of me. We are a team and united in so many ways. This remote viewing thing had to go away, or at least offer me some clarity or direction in how to handle it.
I made a cup of tea and sat at our kitchen table. I was immediately jetted into another remote viewing where I was barraged by a pair of dice constantly rolling and turning up snake eyes. In my vision, the dice resembled the eyes of the snake. I could see the undulating movements of the body behind the eyes. I closed my eyes and tried to blink the vision away as I reached for my cup.
Suddenly, my visual field was flooded by a shower of playing cards, all of them the King of Diamonds. They danced and swirled in front of my eyes until I was dizzy. I felt as though my brain would split. When the vision ended, I felt exhausted and lay my head on the table. What does this mean?
I knew the King of Diamonds could represent a gambler,a killer, or perhaps even a war god. The Jack of Diamonds was a messenger or harbinger of things to come. I mulled this over and decided that this Jack was a messenger, perhaps a warning of someone who was evil. But who? Can it be Satan himself? I was less sure about the King of Diamonds. Why has he come into my life? What does it mean other than I’d been dealing with someone who’s intelligent and potentially dangerous? I knew in my gut the King of Diamonds was a dishonest enemy at the very least, someone who was untrustworthy and potentially treacherous. Perhaps it was someone who wanted to hurt me or my family? My stomach knotted in fear and I knew the King was someone too terrible for me to imagine.
My brain considered the possibilities. Was someone coming to hurt me? To kill me? Was it someone who was devious and deceitful? From my knowledge of Tarot cards, I knew a King of Diamonds persona was cunning, clever, charming, and evil. I also knew the Jack personas are unreliable, unpredictable, and crafty. Jacks caused considerable problems because they are so creatively manipulative. I covered my face with my hands. I felt a headache brewing in the back of my skull.
So, in summary, I'm confronted with snake eyes, the Jack of Diamonds and the King of Diamonds. I surmised it would cause me great difficulty, pain, and hardship in the coming weeks. But what does it mean? What can I do about it? I took another sip of my tea, set my cup down, and walked quietly back into my bedroom. My spiraling brain needed to rest a few more minutes to delay the inevitable headache.
My husband hadn’t moved in the bed. I looked down at him. Peter was the absolute love of my life. I slipped into bed beside him, kissed his back and spooned with him. He moaned and smiled in his sleep. I was so lucky to have him. We’re soul mates.
Finally, I fell into a dreamless sleep − that is until I saw the smoking mirror. It formed the backdrop of my dreams. Words and actions that intended to deceive and confuse me paraded in front of my eyes. Duplicity. Snake eyes, the Jack of Diamonds, and smoking mirrors. Illusions. Discrepancies. Uncertainty. I knew my life would be difficult for the next few weeks, and I dreaded it.
When my alarm sounded at eight, I was as tired, confused, and fatigued as I was when I’d gone to bed. It was going to be a very, very long day.
We hope you are enjoying the book so far. To continue reading...