Chapter 32

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Help me.

The words are still as meaningless to Zandra in the mug as they were when she mouthed them earlier that morning. But this isn't the first time a nonsensical revelation wound up meaning something. Years ago, it was another pair on her lips: Soma Falls. Their results went well beyond chance.

So is this now a coincidence? Or something more?

Oh, the pictures the mind loves to paint. The world's greatest artist rests within the walls bone.

Gauging from Amanda's reaction, though, the words "help me" are far from meaningless. She covers her mouth with one hand and slaps the mug away with the other.

"Oh, no. No, no, no," Amanda says, trying hard not to reveal the anguish on her face.

"No what?" Zandra says, her eyes unblinking. She's not concerned about the overturned mug ruining the seemingly supernatural verbiage. There's a reason she brought her own mugs. They bear an unusually flat, austere bottom custom made with a softer grade of pottery. Using a letter opener, she scratched the words "help me" into the bottom before coming over, taking care to make the letters look sloppy. It's a trick she pulled over at Sneak Peek time and time again, priming the mugs beneath her desk with the usual set of symbols based on her clients' feedback.

Never trust a psychic if you can't see her hands. Or, if you make an appointment at Sneak Peek, trust her with all your heart. And money.

"This is too much," Amanda says. She rises from her chair. "I have to go."

"Stop," Zandra says, raising her hand. "What do to those words mean? Maybe I can help."

Amanda shakes her head. "We shouldn't talk about this. I need to go."

Zandra once again grabs Amanda's elbow, steering her away from the door. "If you're in some kind of trouble, I can pull some strings and..."

"I can't talk to you anymore. Like, ever again," Amanda says and wiggles free. She grabs her tote and opens the door. "Leave."


"Because I need to leave and you can't stay here."

"Child, tell me what's wrong," Zandra says.

"Don't 'child' me. Just go," Amanda says.

Desperate to find out more, Zandra presses on. "Is this about William?" she says, using Dvorak's real name.

Amanda's face looks as if she'd just touched an exposed piece of wiring.

That hit a nerve.

"Listen to me," Amanda says. Her tone ages about 50 years. "He's a horrible person. You want some stupid typewriter or something, fine, but stay away from him. I'm not trying to scare you away. He's awful."

Now we're getting somewhere.

"Awful how?" Zandra says.

Amanda starts to say something but stops. "I have to go," she says and rushes out the door.

Zandra cleans up the mugs to give Amanda a few minutes' worth of a head start before leaving. She's unsure what to do with Amanda's reaction, what next steps to take, but she's confident of one thing.

I should probably check my mailbox at Sneak Peek.

It turns out to be the second time her gut instinct paid off that day. Seems Dvorak paid a visit while she was away at the apartment. And this time, he didn't stick to just the mailbox.

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