Diane has lived in Massachusetts all her life where early on, her artistic talents were fostered, though her skills as an "excellent report writer" were often noted in previous employment. On her brother Rick's birthday, November 16, 2004, seven months after his death, she woke from an amazing dream which would not fade. She outlined the dream, made a few quick notes and days later produced a 12 page short story. After deciding her story was interesting but incomplete, she began writing her first novel, using her dream as its climax. She now believes the dream to be a 'Spirit Gift,' sent by her brother. Diane continues to reside in Central MA with her husband and a very naughty Basset Hound named Basil and his new adopted sister-Basset, Ruby, both of whom cleverly wreak havoc on the Haynes' formerly well-ordered lives. She spends her time writing, reading books about writing, talking about writing, painting with watercolors, antiqueing and attempting to train a very reluctant Basil and a willing, but highly comedic Ruby.
Haley glanced skyward in exasperation but allowed Lacey to push her into the small, exotically scented tent whose interior was draped in lavender flowing curtains. A small doily-covered table held a thick white candle, a deck of cards and a huge crystal ball. The girls sat down on metal folding chairs facing Madam Lola, whose jet-black hair and thick makeup did little to disguise her advancing age.
“Good evening,” Madam Lola welcomed them. “You vish see future?” she asked with an accent reminiscent of Dracula. Lacey’s mouth popped open. Haley swallowed hard.
Draculola began shuffling the worn cards, dozens of silver bracelets clanging halfway up her arms. “Tventy dollars, please.”
Haley reached into her pocket and placed all her babysitting money, plus Lacey’s five on the table as the reader reshuffled the deck with a practiced flair. “You haff question, or just vant a general reading?”
“Uh, just a general reading, I guess,” Haley replied after finding her voice.
“Good, ve begin. Cut ze deck.”
Lacey began to fidget, twisting in her seat, looking everywhere but at the reader. Haley poked her sister when it seemed like Draculola was reading their body language as well as the cards. After Haley cut the deck about halfway down, Lola revealed the first card.
“Ze Tower,” she said. “You’ve had a bad time. A deevorce or separation recently. Much pain, many changes.”
Mouths open, they exchanged astonished glances.
Madame Lola smiled. “Vas difficult, but better now.”
The girls nodded, quiet for once.
And with a single card, she has us, Haley thought, frowning as she sat in the stuffy tent. Another card.
“Hmmm,” Lola paused. “Next card….Knight of Swords. Good. A dark, handsome stranger comes. You afraid,” her accented voice lowered as she looked at Haley. “But he vaits for you.”
“Vaits?” “Waits, dummy,” Lacey said, shaking her head. “He waits for you. Keep up.”
“Seven of Vands. A battle.” She frowned. “A battle without end. You fight vith someone?”
“Vands?” Almost afraid to ask, Haley regarded her sister with a questioning look.
“Wands!” Lacey made a disgusted face. “Why are you being so difficult? No, we’re not fighting with anyone.” A pause. “Are we?”
“No.” Haley sighed, her chin on her hand as she tried to devise a way to end this disaster. “Except each other.”
“You vill,” Lola insisted, nodding, “you vill.” She turned over another card, then another. “Sun reversed, Moon upright.” She frowned, lost in thought. “You are about to have ze most exciting and dangerous summer of your life.” A quick intake of breath and Lola’s eyes narrowed, as understanding seemed to dawn. She rubbed her hairy chin and looked down at the cards again before leaning forward. “Take every precaution. Accept all that is given you.” She touched her temple. “In my head I keep hearing, ‘One vill fall, one vill fall...’”
“When you say ‘fall,’ do you mean, like, die?” Haley said.
“Maybe. But maybe not.”
“One of us?” Lacey asked, eyes wide.
“Not sure. Veddy unclear. Be veddy, veddy careful.” She turned over another card. “Three of Swords…betrayal.” She looked at Haley. “Not him,” she continued, pointing to the Knight with a long red fingernail. “Another. A scary, dangerous betrayal.”