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Katie Talmadge is content with the sane, somewhat boring life she's created for herself. She may be a little lonely and her Salem flower shop may not be turning the customers away, but that's perfectly fine with her.
Simon Thorton's aunt has a little magical matchmaking in mind and she's got both Katie and Simon in her sights. For far too long she's watched her nephew mourn his wife's passing. But she's not above asking for a little divine help in guiding them into realizing that life is about taking chances, especially when fate, magic and destiny lend a helping hand.
Three Cups from CoffeeTime Romance: "Three Truths"… is a wonderfully magical tale of faith and love. Teagan Oliver weaves a great story of people’s second chances at love. The characters leap of that page at you. Katie and Simon’s story is one we all wish could be our own tale. This story is one you could read again and again.
~Five Stars from Amazon Review:
"Three Truths" is a wonderfully sweet paranormal romance. With a heroine who doesn't believe in love, a hero who's given up on love and a ghost who refuses to let them ignore their growing attraction, this romance will make you smile and warm your heart.
Katie looked at Rita’s outstretched hands as she gauged whether to trust her. The woman looked like a cross between a cartoonish witch and some displaced fashion diva. She appeared to be eccentric, vibrant and kind. But she didn’t look dangerous. She decided to trust her instincts and she slipped her hands into Rita’s.
“Are you a witch?” The words popped out of her mouth, bypassing her brain.
“No,” Rita tut-tutted. “I’m not a witch. Though I do have a few special gifts.” She hesitated. “Let’s just say that I’m more of a divine helper.” She held out her hands once again towards Katie. Katie began to pull back, but Rita grabbed her hands and held on tight. ““Just relax, Katie. I promise, it won’t hurt. It hardly ever does.” Rita gave her a wink. “Don’t worry, dear. It’s just a bit of bad humor on my part
First spirit guides and now hand holding, maybe the best thing to do would be to give in and get it over with. “All right, but I really don’t believe in any of this.”
Rita let out another sigh. “Fine, but we really are going to have to work on your disbelief. You need to learn to trust in the things you cannot see with your eyes, only with your heart.”
Rita tipped her head back and closed her eyes. She shrugged her shoulders beneath her over sized coat as she took a couple of deep breaths and wrinkled her brow in concentration.
Katie looked down at her own green-stained hands against Rita’s ring laden fingers. The strange woman’s touch was warm. Her hands were smooth and soft.
And this was ridiculous. They were as different as their hands. One was a believer and the other was not.
“Concentrate, dear. You’re thinking too hard. Close your eyes and take a deep breath like I’m doing. You need to let your mind drift. It’s so hard to find out anything when your mind is racing so all over the place. You nervousness is creating chaos with your aura. Please, just let go and relax and I promise it will all be over soon.”
Katie squeezed her eyes shut and tried to concentrate on nothing. It was impossible. She tried to focus on her breathing and the darkness behind her eyelids, but all she saw was blackness. Suddenly, a tingling twinge of something familiar started at Katie’s toes and shot up her back, through her arms and out toward her fingers.
“There now, Katie. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Katie opened her eyes to find Rita looking at her. Her voice was hushed as she continued to stare.
“No, I guess not.” But she winced as pain flashed white behind her closed eyes. Great, the only thing this nonsense had gotten her was another of her blinding headaches.
The air in the shop quaked around them, vibrating off her skin. Katie winced; breathing in sharply as another flash of pain hit her behind her eyes. Definitely, a headache.
Rita gave Katie’s fingers a reassuring squeeze as she slid her hands out from under hers. “Caiman was right about you. But then, he’s always right.” She came around the counter and took Katie by the arm, guiding her through the door to the workroom.
"You should sit down, dear. With your headache it is best to get you off your feet for a bit.” The tiny work area was small enough with just her in there, but with Rita in it the room was claustrophobic.
“Mrs. Thorton,” Katie began.
“I told you before, call me Rita. Everyone does. Except of course for that odious Mrs. Swanson, but then, she always has been jealous of my gifts.” She shrugged, giving Katie a sympathetic smile.
“Right now, we need to talk about you.” Rita pulled her generous form onto the stool opposite Katie and settled her coat about her. The air in the room was tinged with the sweet scent of flowers and ferns.
“What about me?” Katie squinted, sucking in a breath as pain seared across her forehead.
“Tell me, do you get these headaches often?”
Katie started to shake her head, but thought better of it when the drumming behind her eyes started. “Only when I’m stressed,” Katie managed.
“Well now, let me see what I can do to help you.” Rita rubbed her hands together then reached out, putting a hand on either side of Katie’s head pressing her warm fingers to a spot just below the hairline at the base of Katie’s skull.
“Relax, I’m not going to hurt you. I’m just trying to release some of the built up energy. Believe me, there is nothing mystical about a bit of massage therapy. Magical, maybe. Mystical, no.”
It was beginning to work. Katie sighed as the pressure began to seep away from her neck and head.
“There, that should do it.” Rita said softly as she pulled back and settled herself onto the stool once again.
“You know, Caiman was right to pick you. He knew that you needed me.”
“I don’t understand.” Katie opened her eyes and looked at Rita. “What do you mean, he picked me?”
Rita smiled. “Caiman picked you because of who you are. Caiman told me you’d be confused. He said I should bring you something to help you understand.” She stuck her hand inside her coat, fishing around again inside the voluminous folds of fabric. “I know I have it in here somewhere.”
Her gray hair bobbed as she fumbled about. “You know, Katie. Whether you realize it or not, you’re a very special woman and you have a wonderful destiny ahead of you.”
Destiny. Hadn’t she been thinking about destiny just this morning? Katie resisted the urge to jump from her stool and run for the door. The woman talked to spirit guides, always seemed to know what she was thinking, could heal headaches with her touch, could sense vibrations from an old cigar box and talked about destinies like they were perfectly natural. Obviously, one of them was having a problem with reality.
Rita looked up at her over the top of her glasses. “Caiman has been guiding me for several years now and I trust him explicitly. If he tells me that I need to come see you, then this is where I need to be. I try not to question his wisdom.”
“But why me? There are others who would be more receptive to what you’re saying. Salem is full of them. Why pick a non-believer?”
“Maybe that’s exactly why you were picked. Besides, you were picked because you were the one with the destiny to fulfill.”
“My destiny.” Katie let out a tired, exasperated sigh. “Up until this morning I’d never given any thought to destiny, let alone whether I actually had one.”
“And now, you have the chance to change it,” Rita said.
“But I’m happy with my life. Why would some spirit guide I’ve never even heard of, send you to help me change it?”
“Perhaps, he thought I had something to offer you with your journey.” She shrugged. “Perhaps, he thought we could be friends.” Rita’s voice was calm and maternal.
Friends, my foot. All this talk of guides, and her future was ridiculous. “I’m sorry, but your guide is wrong. You must have me mistaken with another Katie Talmadge. I don’t believe in spirit guides or destinies, and I’ve managed to get along just fine without them.”
Katie pushed her stool back a few inches, the metal legs scraping against the linoleum floor. Tiny prickling sensations filtered through the air, stinging her skin until it tingled, sending heart racing.
Katie put a hand to her throbbing forehead. Her headache was back, stronger than ever. What she needed was something for her headache, not to sit there and listen to some absurdity.
“You are being nice, Katie dear. What you really want to call it is idiotic garbage.”
Katie looked up at Rita. Had she spoken her thoughts out loud?
“How do you do that? How do you know what I’m thinking?” But Rita only smiled as she reached into her pocket and pulled out a small, bottle of pain reliever pills, holding them out to Katie. She eyed the bottle in Rita’s outstretched hand.
“Go ahead and take it. The seal is still on it so you’ll know that I haven’t done anything to it.” Katie took the bottle from her, peeling off the cap and seal and shaking a few into her hand. She poured a glass of water and downed the lot of them. Maybe soon she would feel some relief from the pain and the nonsense.
Rita was fishing around in her coat pockets again. She pulled out a ball of twine, a large peacock feather, a little golden frog, a black stone that sparkled in the dim light, and an address book. “I just know I put it in here somewhere.”
“What were you looking for?” Maybe Rita was looking for her magic wand to turn the golden frog into a Prince.
Just what she needed.
Rita looked up from her search and frowned. “We are going to have to work on your attitude, aren’t we? If I can’t gain your friendship then we will never be able to get along in all of this.”
“There is no all of this, Katie muttered.
Rita gave up her search and let out a frustrated sigh as she reached out to pat Katie’s hand once again. “I guess you’re just going to have to work on blind faith for the time being. Someday, I’ll find what I was looking for and I’ll bring it to you then. I promise.”
Summoning up her courage, Katie held up her hand as Rita took a breath to interrupt. “Ms. Thorton, you’re very nice, but you have the wrong person.”
Rita’s shoulders slumped beneath her oversized coat. She stared at her with soulful eyes the hue of a cold pea soup. Very convincing and it was making her feel guilty, just as she was sure that Rita was hoping.
“It’s not your fault. I just don’t believe in that kind of stuff.”
Rita let out a little sniffle. Geesh, she looked like she might start crying.
“I’m sorry, I’m really not trying to hurt you.”
Rita shook her head, the graying mass bobbing up and down again. “If you would only try.”
“You don’t understand,” Katie began. “I’ve lived in Salem all of my life and nothing unusual has ever happen to me.” Until now, she added to herself.
“I live a very normal, very quiet life with nothing even remotely mystical about it. I have my shop, my house, and my cat. And I can assure you, there is nothing missing in my life.”
Rita grabbed a tissue from one of her pockets and dabbed at her eyes. “I know you’re happy. I can feel it the energy in this shop. There is such an incredible feeling of calm acceptance here, a peacefulness, and order. But there is so much more out there.” She looked at her with a new resolution.
But Rita wasn’t giving up. “Haven’t you ever wanted more? Haven’t you ever stayed awake at night and wondered what it would be like if you made even one small change… If only you had changed one decision you had made in the past.”
Katie couldn’t deny that there were times she wished things were different. But different wasn’t necessarily better and she’d learned a long time ago to accept what she had. Regardless of what life gave her.
"I want you to take some time to mull over what I’ve said. But just remember that we haven’t got long. Choices are going to start opening up for you very soon and my job is to make sure that you do with them what you should.”
“Don’t you mean free will?” She’d heard the term enough to know that there were those who believed that destinies were formed by the choices a person makes.
“Free will is part of it, but accepting things for what can be is part of it, also.” Gone was Rita’s bright smile. Instead, Katie glimpsed strength, a natural reserve beneath her flashy exterior.
“Life can hand us lemons, dear. But the choice to make lemonade is yours. Otherwise, you are just left with a few bits of sour citrus.”
“And what if I don’t believe? What if I decide that this is all some elaborate hoax? Why should I listen to you when until today, I had never set eyes on you?”
“Because in your heart, you know it’s your destiny to believe.” Rita said. “It’s what all your headaches are about. You’ve been fighting your natural destiny for so long that this is how your soul is rebelling.” She smiled at Katie.
“I can’t make you believe what I’m telling you, or anything else for that matter. Only you can choose to believe. But for whatever reason, you’re the person who has been chosen to take this journey. I’m only here to try and help guide you.”
Rita reached out, picking up the dark stone from the table. Gray and white streaks radiated brilliance, depth and heat against the cold stone.
“This rock is labradorite. To some it is merely a rock. But to the right person, to those who choose to believe, this stone can open up their destiny. It can offer a chance at the things they’ve never dared to dream.”
She put the stone in Katie’s hand, pressing her fingers around it. The heat of Rita’s hand had warmed the stone, transferring the heat into her own palm.
Katie looked down at the rock. There was nothing magical about it. Nothing mystical. There were no supernatural powers waiting to transform her. She closed her fingers around the smooth stone, feeling the firmness against her palm.
It was just a rock.
Rita got up from her stool and began stuffing the other objects back into her pockets. She swept a strand of hair out her eyes as she looked at Katie. “Keep the rock for awhile. You need time to think.”
She turned and headed for the door. “Tomorrow will be soon enough for more discussion. Simon and I will be in tomorrow afternoon to see you.”
The bell jingled as Rita swept through the doorway and down the steps.
Katie loosened her grip on the stone and looked at it. Clouds of gray and flecks of white billowed beneath the glossy black surface like a rolling thunderstorm captured in forever in time.
Magic, fate and destiny. The words were like an incantation waiting to entice a willing soul. She just wasn’t sure how willing her soul was