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The darkness surrounding her transitioned into an open meadow, where she was lounging in a white gown. A pair of long, familiar arms embraced her from behind. But the gentleness of the gesture disappeared suddenly when one hand left her waist to ensnare itself into her red hair and began to drag her.

Ivy could smell the smoke before she saw it. No longer was she being drug, but was now standing upright, uncomfortably so. She looked down at her white gown, the hem of which was now in flames. Struggling to put it out, she found her hands tied behind her, keeping her bound against something. She was being burnt alive at the stake. She struggled to release herself, but the fire continued to climb, engulfing her. Her screams were suffocated by smoke, so thick that it now blinded her. The scene of the serene meadow from before had now disappeared. Why was this happening? What had she ever done to deserve such an end as this?

You have been warned.

The witch shot straight up in bed, panting and with sweat dripping from her forehead. Frantically, she threw the blankets away from herself and checked her naked form for any lingering signs of the inferno she’d just emerged from. Once she had convinced herself it was all just a dream, she fell back against the sheets, not bothering to cover herself.

David was still sound asleep next to her, and she was thankful that her rather abrupt start hadn’t disturbed him. She allowed herself the pleasure of watching him, his chest heaving and falling in a steady pace. His hair was splayed in every direction on the pillow under his head, with some errant strands laying across his forehead in a way that Ivy found irresistible.

You have been warned.

Her stomach churned as the ghost of the dream voice returned to her.

She carefully and quietly removed herself from the bed, and wrapped one of the heavy blankets around herself before taking the deck of antique tarot cards from the bureau and making her way downstairs.

The sun’s first rays streamed into the bay window in the living room, where Marlowe now laid basking in their warmth. He began to purr when Ivy entered, and came to side by her side once she had settled herself on the cold hardwood floor in the middle of the room. After lighting a fresh white candle, she took a few cleansing breaths before shuffling the cards, her anxieties building as she shuffled.

Nine of Swords reversed, she drew first. Martyrdom. Her heart sank as she placed the card squarely in front of her. Must I really meditate on what this means? You will know despair, the voice of the card seemed to say. She stubbornly drew another card, moving forward with the reading.

This one, The Fool- reversed. You have been deceived, it spoke. Her teeth gritted in her mouth. Granted, she had wanted advice and guidance. Something a bit less…dampening, she supposed. Might as well just send the Death card my way as well, she responded bitterly as she drew the next card.

Two cards fell from the pile by accident as she went to draw, a sign that both cards were essential to the reading. Flipping them over, she was surprised –pleasantly so- by what she found.

The Ace of Wands, upright, symbolized a masculine, creative energy. It being an Ace predicted success. This card was no doubt David, she thought. And the next card, too; The Knight of Cups, upright. A card of affection and romance. But this card comes with a warning. His love could be infinite, or fleeting, it warned her.

Ivy let out a frustrated sigh, dropping her head into her hands. She had gotten what she asked for, which was a very upfront, honest reading about her current situation.

You have been warned.