C5 Chapter 5
Peaking open one eye, Jules gave a contagious smile that made me relax in return. He reached out and trailed a finger along my hand, which still held the deck of cards.
“May I?” He asked.
I nodded, handing them over to him. He broke them with expert fingers and began shuffling. Those deep eyes locked onto mine like he was memorizing every detail.
“Are you ready?” His voice was whisper soft.
“Yes,” I replied. I was captivated by the moment, taken by the pull humming between us. The openness of his attention swept away the shyness that gripped me before.
Jules continued shuffling, never once looking away. His gaze moved to my lips and a mischievous twinkle lit his eyes. “If I read your cards, what do I get in return?”
I raised an eyebrow at his obvious bait. “Is my gratitude not enough?”
“Not nearly. I want a proper thank you.”
“Like a thank you card?”
“Something more personal.”
“How about a kiss?”
Stubble lips stretched in a smile that was pure satisfaction. “That would do.”
Shaking my head bemusedly, I nodded to the cards. “Let's start then. Nelly has me half convinced that this is some magical voodoo.”
“Nothing like that. The cards will only show what you want to be shown. I'm going to keep shuffling the deck, and you'll tell me to stop whenever you want.”
I nodded and watched his fingers dance for moments more before telling him to stop. He broke the deck into three piles, then placed them side by side in front of us.
“This pile here,” he gestured to the leftmost deck. “Represents your past. The middle is your present, and the rightmost pile is your future. You're going to draw a card from each deck. Each card has a number and drawing that symbolizes different meanings. Afterwards, should you wish to expound on the reading, you can continue to draw more cards from any of the piles.”
I voiced my understanding, partly amused by the whole concept. He nodded to the left pile and I reached forth, drawing the top card. Flipping it over, I laid it down to glance at the illustration. It was a picture of a women surrounded by rosebushes, with the word 'Appreciation' labelled on the bottom.
Jules tilted his head to study the card. He motioned for me to continue, so I drew from the middle deck, laying the second card next to the previous one. This was marked 'The garden and the Gate'. Reaching to the third pile, I picked the final card.
“Action,” I read, admiring the galloping horses drawn on the face.
Jules paused at the last card as if he was taken aback by it. Lifting a surprised brow, he chuckled like it was a secret joke. He looked back to me from underneath heavy lashes, the sun slanting off the sharp planes of his cheeks. I wanted to trace the skin there, to see if it was as warm as the golden light.
Eyes twinkling like he knew a secret, Jules lifted a finger and ran it over the first card. “Your card is Appreciation, except you drew it upside down.”
I angled my head to study it. “What does that mean?”
“When it's bottom up like that, it can mean you've overlooked some of your blessings in life. Maybe you weren't grateful for a past event, or forgotten something of value. Does that ring true to you?”
A wave of unease crashed over me at the thought of appearing ungrateful in his eyes. “I'm thankful for what I have,” I began, grasping for the right words. “I can be single minded sometimes, careless even. Maybe I forget to value the people I'm with or the things I have, but it is never on purpose nor do I mean to take them for granted.”
“Hey, it's totally fine to forget on occasion – that just makes our appreciation all the sweeter.” Jules flashed a brash smile. “Like the fact that I'm grateful to see you again.”
I burst out laughing. “You don't miss a chance, do you?”
Shaking my head, I marveled at the way he so easily defused my tension. He hummed with steady confidence and openness, and I basked in his glow like a greedy child.
“What's this one?” I pointed to the second card.
“This represents your present self,” Jules said while holding up the card. “Number 30, the Garden and The Gate.” He gestured to the girl in the illustration, who gazed longing into the distance while fenced in behind wrought irons. “It means you're trapped in a garden that is beautiful and familiar in its comfort. But there's boredom to your routine, an itch that eats away at you. The promise of greater things are beyond the gate, yet fear holds you back from stepping into the unknown.”
I arched my eyebrows at his words, which touched too close to reality. “Some are braver than others. I like my routine, or garden, as you called it.”
“But what of the possibilities out there?” Jules countered. “What are you missing out by hiding behind the gate?”
“It's not hiding when I’m content in my little orderly life. Like the way I take the same route to work every day, seeing familiar sights and faces; knowing which turn to take, where my destination is, keeps me from stepping on surprises.”
He bit his lips as he considered my words. “But what if you were to change that routine, just for a day? Instead of taking your normal trek to work, choose the longer one. Pass by a different street, one that you've never explored before.”
“Why though? I've already figured the most efficient route.”
“Stop and smell the roses, as they say. Maybe you'll even stumble on a new flower for your garden.”
“I don't even have a garden.” I threw my hands up in mock exasperation but his inviting smile made me acquiesce. “Fine, I'll do it. You're on the hook though if I end up lost.”
“I'll take full responsibility.” Jules grinned before reaching over and trailing a fingertip against my hair. “And while you're at it, maybe you'll consider letting down the gate for me. I promise not to stomp on your garden.”
His cheeks carved with easygoing charm, but at the back of my mind, I knew that my life would never be the same if I let him in. He was too intense, too dizzying for my quiet ways. Grappling to change the subject, I pointed to the last card. “And what is this one?”
He traced the number labelled on the surface. “This here is Action, as shown by the galloping horses. The card says now's the time to be aggressive and forward with what you want.” He handed it to me. “See the number on the top?”
“Yes, seventeen,” I read.
Jules nodded. “And my birthday is the 17th of August.”
Blowing out a breath in shock, I shook my head in disbelief. “No it's not.”
“It is.” He chuckled as he leaned forward to whisper in my ear, “I think you want me, Katherine.”
His breath kissed down my neck, sending shivers racing up my belly. I couldn't deny my attraction to him, for it was an aching torrent that grew with every glance and touch. It didn't make sense for us to be compatible, with his outgoing exuberance and my quiet self. But my mind stilled when I was with him, like a buzzing wire that calmed at his touch. I wasn't ready to walk away, and being in his presence made me brave enough to look him in the eyes and nod.
“You're right, I do.”
Stubble lips lifted in a slow stretch of satisfaction. “Then let me take you out. And this time, you're giving me your number.”