Talk of the Town
- Tuesday, February 12, 2008
"Ah, love awaits," she mused, squinting at the card as she grabbed a styro cup and put it under the Diet Coke spigot without looking.
"I'm engaged." I felt the giddy little tickle I always got when I said those words. I'm engaged. I'm engaged. Thirty-four years old, and finally I'm engaged. I'm going to be a June bride.
He's gorgeous, by the way.
Madame Murae turned over another card. "Ah, I see travel."
"We're going on a honeymoon right after the wedding. In a little less than three months"—After I wrap this season of American Megastar and the teasers for next season, hopefully with my job and my sanity intact—"I'll be sailing the California coast for nineteen days." Ah, heaven. Did I mention that he owns a boat?
Frowning at the card, Madame Murae halted the flow of Diet Coke at exactly the right moment, once again without looking.
Paula quirked a brow at me, as in, See, I told you she has special powers.
I rolled my eyes. Paula knew what that meant. I'm historically an Episcopalian, from a long line of Episcopalians, drawing all the way back to the pioneer days. Episcopalians, even the nonpracticing kind, do not believe in tarot cards or soda shop mysticism. Such malarkey is for people like Paula who are spiritually searching but without the benefit of any ancestral religious foundation whatsoever.
"I see travel by air." Madame Murae took a lid from under the counter, popped it on my soda, pulled my hot roast beef and Swiss from the oven, and stood speculatively studying the curlicues of slightly browned cheese. "Soon."
A sharp-edged lump formed in my throat and descended slowly to my stomach. I wasn't supposed to be traveling. I was supposed to be picking out wedding gear, reserving the Chapel-by-the-Sea's reception room, deciding how to have my hair done. "I'm not scheduled to be traveling these next three months, but with my job, it could happen." With Ursula, anything's possible.
"Ah." Madame Murae continued surveying my sandwich. "I see negative energy surrounding the travel card."
That would be Ursula Uberstach. Five feet eleven inches of blond, blue-eyed negative energy, with a size four waist, a perpetual tan, and men constantly groveling at her feet.
"Change, I see change."
Maybe Ursula's leaving the show. Then again, maybe I am.
"An ending, a begin—"
Setting a ten on the counter, I snatched the sandwich away in what, for me, was a surprisingly impolite maneuver. Twelve years in Episcopal school and a lifetime of competing with four disgustingly perfect older siblings had taught me manners, if nothing else. "Paula and I had better get moving. We want to do a little shopping over lunch." Madame Murae slid her hand under mine as she dropped the coins one by one and listened to the sound, her dark eyes fixating as she stroked a finger across my palm.
"Be careful," she said. "For you, the path to happiness travels uphill."
"Thanks," I muttered. Tell me something I don't already know.
"Isn't she great?" Paula chirped as we headed for a table on the sidewalk. "You'd be amazed how often she's right. Every time she tells me something, it happens, I swear."
Stepping into the sunshine of a beautiful LA noon, I followed my best friend and future maid of honor to a patio table. "You know I don't believe in that stuff," I said. "And you shouldn't, either. If Madame What's-her-face is so good at foretelling the future, what's she doing running a sandwich shop?" Just to prove my point, I ate a big bite of the hexed roast beef and Swiss.
Paula gave a snarky sneer and shook her head at my hopeless self, then started in on her Cobb salad. We talked about wedding plans as I consumed my Madame Murae sandwich. Pinching the last bite between my thumb and forefinger, I popped it into my mouth, smiling at Paula, who rolled her eyes and reached for her purse. "You're so ... pragmatic."
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