Yep, my short story, The Gift of the Magic, in the Christmas anthology, Mistletoe and Magic, will be released on October 15, 2012. Want a sneak peek? Okay!

At last, Polina reached the center of the ring-shaped park and stopped on a bench across from the fountain. Rifling through her backpack—her only luggage—she pulled out Mom’s itinerary. What next? She scanned the list, ignoring the more bizarre instructions like, (5.) Follow the dog, and (8.) Kiss a stranger. Mentally, she crossed off (3.) Visit Planty Gardens and her finger stopped at (4.) Have your fortune told.
Naturally. Because Mom would continue to push her interests in the paranormal, the abnormal, even from beyond the grave.
Last time, she reminded herself again. Those two words, now a mantra, kept her moving forward.
Okay, fine. Get her fortune told. Where? As if on cue, a young girl, dressed in scarlet and tangerine scarves dripping with gold medallions, peered out from the closest alcove and crooked her finger in Polina’s direction. There, of course.
After replacing the list and zipping up the backpack, she made her way toward the archway where the dark-haired, dark-eyed girl with skin the color of Arizona sand waited. Inside the stone apse, the girl had set up a long wooden shelf littered with hand-painted wooden dolls and sequined trinkets. Polina hated sequins and spangles, hated anything anyone used to make shoddy products shiny. True quality didn’t need spotlights or halos, a lesson she learned early in life.
“I tell your future?” the girl asked in stilted, but understandable English. “Ten zlotys?”
“Yes, please.” She passed over the money, roughly three American dollars.
The girl stuffed the brass and black coins into a brightly colored woven box and shoved it under the shelf, then took Polina’s hand. The gypsy didn’t ask Polina to remove the glove or even attempt to read her palm, she simply riveted her dark gaze into Polina’s blue eyes. “You have suffered great loss,” she intoned. “But don’t weep. Someone very special waits around a corner. Follow the dog.”
“Follow the dog,” Polina repeated with a sigh. The same instruction her mother had given her. “What does that mean?”
            “Sometime this evening, you will hear a dog barking. Walk in the direction of the sound to find your future.”
Great, Polina thought. That sounds exactly like something Mom would say.  Did every fortune teller in the world use the same schtick?
“I am sorry. That is all I can tell you,” the gypsy girl said, dropping Polina’s hand.
Oh, big surprise. Well, at least she hadn’t spent a fortune for a worthless fortune. “Thanks.” Polina turned away to hide her disgust. Really, what had she expected? She’d grown up around these charlatans, knew all the gimmicks and cons they used to get marks to ante up more cash. Follow the dog. Next, the girl would tell her someone had placed a curse on her, and for ten thousand zlotys, the gypsy could wrap an egg in a handkerchief and remove the ill will.
When had she become so naïve? Time to smarten up and remember. Mom didn’t invent the con; she’d just perfected it.

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