Molly rummaged through the box of earthquake supplies she kept under the kitchen sink — flashlight, battery operated radio, bottled water, and granola bars — until she found the utility candles. She brought a pair, along with two candle holders and a book of matches, into the living room. Dominique had already cleared some of the framed pictures and assorted knickknacks off Molly’s glass-topped coffee table. In their place, she set a box containing her Ouija board. The lid bore the logo OUIJA Mystifying Oracle; a shadowy figure, cloaked in black, floated above the words.
“I was thinking about something.” Dominique picked up her glass of Chardonnay. “Remember what Mom’s friend, Trudie, found out about Nick?”
Molly grimaced. “You mean all the worthless information she dug up? I didn’t need to know any of it. All I’m interested in is his building plans for my end of the block and if he’s going to cave on the twenty-five thousand he offered his tenants. I’ll never find another ‘angel’ and no other landlord will give a future clinic, if we’re forced to open another one, any break at all on rent. If I didn’t already know it, I figured that out this afternoon. Eight seventy-five for a studio with no closets. Whatever Nick decides will affect a lot of people — not just his tenants, but anyone in need of pretty much free medical care.”
“Some of what Trudie said had value.”
Molly inserted the candles into the holders. “I can’t think of one piece of information I could put to good use.”
“I can think of several. For instance, Nick is just the right age for you. Also, Taurus is a perfect match for Capricorn. You’re both Earth signs.”
Molly wrinkled her nose. “Forget it. Anyway, you know I don’t believe in that stuff.”
Dominique had her chart prepared every year by some guy with the tattoos and piercings of a debauched rock star. Molly considered it a waste of money. She didn’t believe in Ouija, either. However, Dominique had brought her board with her and insisted that, after they worked on the grant, they have a session. Especially once she’d heard the full scope of Molly’s two encounters with Nick.
“People born under Taurus and Capricorn have a lot in common and usually think alike. Of course, on the down side, they’re both stubborn.” Dominique sipped her wine. “I don’t have to tell you who’ll come out on top in a clash of wills. Think horns.”
“I will never again spend time clashing wills or anything else with Mr. Mancini.”
“Don’t be so sure. From what you told Mom and me on Friday, plus what happened with him earlier today, he sounds like a pretty determined guy. Am I right?”
Molly thought for a moment. “Yes, he comes across as determined. At least, he isn’t belligerent.” Belligerent men were obnoxious. They were the kind who bellowed like thwarted bulls. The kind who lost their temper right from the get-go. She couldn’t remember Nick Mancini raising his voice. If he had a temper, he kept it hidden deep inside that toned body.
“You said he’s cute, though.”
“No, I didn’t.” Molly formed a mental image of his face. “He’s definitely not cute. That’s a guy with a buzz cut and pug nose. He’s rugged. Some women might even consider him … handsome. Not that it matters if he’s handsome or cute or if he’s often mistaken for a Troll. My business with him is over, finished, deader than yesterday’s news.”
“Well, he can’t be any worse than the guy you dated last April whose goal was to become a househusband.”
A frown pinched Molly’s brow. “I never dated him. It was a one-time fix-up, courtesy of your husband. You’ll notice, after that, I swore off flying blind forever.”
“Maybe that’s why you’re still single at twenty-nine. At your age, a woman shouldn’t narrow her focus.”
“I’m perfectly happy with my life. I’m not the kind of woman who’ll eat a whole shopping cart full of Twinkies if she doesn’t have a Saturday night date.”
“If you can’t drum up any interest in Mr. Mancini, I wish you’d reconsider the techie Rob plays squash with on Friday nights. Okay, you’d have to wear flat-heeled shoes if you dated him, but he is cute.”
Molly groaned. “Forget him and anyone else on Rob’s reject list.” She lit the two utility candles. “I don’t understand why we need illumination.” That was Dominique’s preferred reference to candlelight.
“It sets the right mood.”
“Why did I let you talk me into this?” Molly picked up her glass of Chardonnay off the coffee table and took a few sips. Dealing with Ouija worked better for her if she had a slight buzz. She settled against the plump navy blue pillow in the corner of her white wicker sofa and kicked off her shoes.
“Although it’s not an exact science, it practically borders on the supernatural. In case you haven’t heard me mention it before, like a hundred times, I’ll remind you again. The supernatural has been proven to exist.”
“Proven? Ha. I doubt it.”
Dominique lifted the Ouija board from its box and placed it on the table. A black cat with flattened ears and spiky-furred arched back hovered above two rows of alphabet letters at the top of the board.
“You believe in the subconscious, don’t you?”
Molly nodded. “Yes, but not mental telepathy and mind reading.”
“That’s not the principal behind Ouija. It communicates through the subconscious. Almost everyone is curious about where their life is heading. Aren’t you?”
“I suppose so.” Molly had to admit she was guilty of drifting lately. However, she doubted Ouija could make the path clear.
“If you have questions, Ouija will provide answers.”
“How can a board game predict the future?”
“It isn’t a game, and Ouija doesn’t predict. It’s an aid to unlocking deep-seated thoughts and desires. Haven’t you ever wondered why when you did something out of character?”
“You mean like what happened earlier today with Nick?” Molly still felt the imprint of his lips on hers.
“I suppose impulses rattle around in the backs of our minds. Sometimes we act on them without thinking it through. I believe that much.”
“You ought to.”
“It’s what happened to you when you let him kiss you.”
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