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Madame Margarita, Reformed Necromancer

Oh, yeah, that night started like any other. Slow and cold. Until she walked into my parlor.

Waifish. Too pale. Obviously, a Tourist. Yet another ordinary human who couldn't tell you the legal difference between a werewolf and shapeshifter if her life depended on it. I doubt she even knew they existed at all. So few of her kind do.

Ah, but who was I to judge? I'm the necromancer operating out of a kitschy Psychic Readings parlor. My bread and butter are Tourists itching for a taste of the paranormal.

Forgive, I mean to say, reformed necromancer.

"Welcome. Bienvenido." I said, waving a bundle of sage at the girl. Tendrils of smoke caught the neon glow from my sign in the window, enveloping the room in a purple fog. "I am Madame Margarita. If you're religious, I suggest you say whatever prayers you need before we begin."

The girl crossed herself.

Mumbling a Spanglish Hail Mary, her eyes flicked around the room. From dying plants to candles to the shimmering crystal ball on the coffee table. She was shaking. Sweating in her puffer coat too, despite the January sleet outside. The black bangs of her shag cut curled and stuck to her forehead.

Poor thing looked downright awful.

When those fidgety eyes finally settled on me, she touched her side and whimpered, of all things.

Kicking off my pumps, I reclined into my wingback chair and crossed my legs. The shoes clunked to the wooden floor and my velvet cocktail dress hiked an inch too high up my thigh and the girl looked away. I shooed my cat off an antique chaise and gestured for her to sit. She collapsed onto the wobbly thing. The chaise. Not the cat.

"Place your palm on the orb and spill it, sweetheart," I said. "What troubles can a glimpse beyond the veil ease for you tonight?"

She grazed the crystal with shaky fingertips. "Are you for real?"

I lit a cigarette.

"As real as death and taxes."

"What does—" she sucked in a sharp breath and clutched her hip.

After taking a moment to collect herself, she leaned across my coffee table, voice a conspiratorial whisper, "I heard that if I came here, you could, you know."

I blew smoke in her pretty face. "Do I know...?"

The girl gnawed at an already worse for wear hangnail. A few of her baby pink acrylics were missing. The beds of her exposed nails were a filthy ruddy brown. Thumb at her lip, she said, "I want the, um, Palm Reader's Bargain?"

Ah. The magic words. The ones given only to a select portion of my clientele. So, she was a grieving Tourist. Poor thing. No wonder she looked such a wreck.

"Animals under twenty-five pounds are five hundred." I ashed my cigarette into a teacup. "Anything above is a thousand, non-negotiable. And no refunds if Fluffy doesn't come back the same."

What? Even a reformed necromancer has got to make a living. Or unliving. Nuance.

Slowly, steadily, I peeled an elbow length glove from my left arm. She watched me, transfixed at the sudden reveal of all the tiny scars dotted and slashed over my skin, her eyes growing wide.

"Did you bring the animal?"

"No!"

I sighed. "I can't work long distance, sweetie. Come back another night, but don't wait too long. There's not much I can do about the rot once it sets in."

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