Claire Daniels
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Final Intuition

And now, finally: Final Intuition. All is revealed in this fourth and last book of the Cally Lazar series.

A glimpse of Chapter 1, Final Intuition...


"So Cally, who're these people you're sharing Thanksgiving with tomorrow?" Virginia McFadden demanded as she sat straight up on my massage table and looked me in the eye. The lilac overtones of her antiperspirant sat up with her. It seemed that her session was over. I checked my watch. It was eight P.M. Virginia was right on the dot.

A smile worked at my mouth as I returned Virginia's look. We were in my small house's warmest room, where I practiced my intuitive energy healing. I was feeling better than I had before I'd begun to help Virginia clear her meridians and smooth the ragged edges of her aura. My energy work seemed to do as much for me as it did for my clients some days.

Virginia McFadden was a longtime client who'd first come to me with liver problems. Those had cleared as her deep well of anger had emptied. Then the grief had appeared, like a child looking out from behind her mother's skirts, grief hidden for years by anger. Virginia had lived more than eighty years and had her ample share of grief. Though you wouldn't have guessed it as she cocked one white eyebrow and grinned at me. Whatever else Virginia's energetic body told me, her face told me she was curious. And I was ready to spill the beans. Virginia had become a friend over the years, and she was a good listener.

"Mostly, it's my family that's coming," I began. My almost smile stopped before it ripened. I let out an involuntary sigh. And then I wondered why my family reunion would make me sigh. Because both of your parents are dead? a small voice suggested. I shook my head as if to will the voice away.

"The five lurid Lazars?" Virginia prodded.

"Yes, that would be us," I agreed, a second prospective smile tugging at my mouth with her description of me and my siblings. "My sister Geneva's hosting dinner. My brother York's coming. And Melinda and Arnot are putting in late appearances with their families. They have other obligations, too. See, Geneva set it up as a sort of reunion for the family members that are left. The uncles and aunts and stuff. We haven't seen each other in years."

"Hmm...not seeing family." Virginia tapped her temple and pretended to ponder. "Good idea," she concluded and winked.

I laughed aloud. Virginia probably knew my family as well as I did after talking to our mutual friend, Warren Kapp. Kapp was as least as old as Virginia, a notorious attorney, and my cane-sparring partner...if you count sneaking up behind a person and trying to whack them as sparring. If he hadn't worn the same aftershave all these years, my whole body might have been dented from his attacks. I never knew if he'd really hit me or not. I'd always used my own cane to stop him. And worse yet, he was a true gossip. He savored gossip the way some people savor good food and wine. And he always had plenty to enjoy. I was looking forward to seeing Kapp. It was the rest of the extended family that was bothering me. Though I couldn't have told anyone, especially myself, exactly why.

"Actually, I guess we all have seen each other, but mostly at different times," I mused. I looked around my cozy space, at the bookshelves, stuffed chairs, and artwork in the former living room. Somehow, these objects grounded me. This is my home, I reminded myself. I'm not just a Lazar. I'm an individual. I'm me.

Virginia cocked her other eyebrow. I wasn't the only intuitive person in the room. I was just the only professional.

"I see my brothers and sisters all the time," I explained. "And I see my Uncle Earl fairly often, even though he lives in Los Angeles now—"

"Isn't he your godfather?" Virginia asked.

"You have been listening to Kapp!" I accused.

She just nodded.

"So, I suppose you know my Uncle Victor's coming, too, with his daughter and granddaughter."

"Yep, Linda and Fern," she replied smugly. "From Colorado."

"And my Aunt Daphne—"

"Poor thing's sick, isn't she?"

"Yeah, cancer," I muttered and sighed again. Maybe Aunt Daphne's illness was pulling all of those sighs out of me.

"You gonna work on her?" Virginia inquired.

"Only if she wants me to," I answered, bringing my mind back to the present. "I doubt that she will. Anyway, she'll be going back to Oregon after the visit. They'll all be going home. Daphne, Earl, Victor, and their families all used to live here in Glasse County, you know."

"I know," Virginia informed me. "How about York's new boyfriend, Tom Weng?" Virginia looked up as if seeing something beyond the room. Her voice deepened. "I went to his gallery showing downtown. His paintings seem absurd, but they're strangely moving."

"Tom might come," I told her, as my own mind's eye flashed on one of Tom's works, a woman stretched pietà style across a duck's lap. Weird, but compelling. Virginia was right. As usual. "And Kapp's coming. And this woman, Zoe, who works for Geneva. And a couple of people who're with Daphne. Anything else you want to know?" I grinned her way to soften my last question.

"Sure," Virginia snapped back. "What's the deal between Kapp and Geneva anyway? The old dog won't tell me."

"I don't know," I replied truthfully. I wanted to sigh again. "Geneva doesn't talk to me about important stuff. Our family isn't good about sharing secrets."

"Hey!" Virginia rasped. Then she patted my shoulder. "That's why they're called secrets. All families have them. Believe me."

"Yeah, I guess so," I muttered. I really was heading into a bad mood. Even in my warm room, I felt chilled. Secrets, the lurid Lazar legacy.

"How about Roy?" Virginia asked. "He's coming, isn't he? Aren't you two lovebirds together again for good?"

I blushed and nodded, my cold hands coming back to life with the mention of Roy's name.

"How about you?" I asked Virginia, putting some enthusiasm back into my voice. "What are you doing for Thanksgiving?"

"Yikes!" she squeaked. "The whole stinkin' family's coming to my house. Four generations worth." She batted nearly invisible eyelashes. "Guess which generation I'm in?"

I chuckled dutifully.

"Gotta run, Cally," Virginia told me. Then she jumped off the table and did just that. I hoped I'd have that kind of energy in my eighties.

She was almost to the door when she spun around and loped back to hug me.

She held me for a while before letting go. Criminy, I loved Virginia. Then she sped out the door as I called "Happy Thanksgiving" to her back.

I grabbed my cane and walked into the former dining room that currently held my business office. The cane was just insurance. At thirty-seven years of age, I shouldn't have needed the cane at all, but there was always the chance of my leg buckling, as it did every once in a while, and as it had the first time on the day my parents died more than twenty years ago. My leg had buckled before I'd even heard they were dead—

I stopped my thoughts right there. I knew they could circle for hours on the subject. I searched a wooden four-drawer cabinet and found Virginia's file, then sat down at my desk to add a few notes.

"Cally, darlin'," I heard from behind me. "Is Virginia gone then?"

It was my sweetie, Roy. He'd moved back in with me a few months ago. His presence made my small house on the hillside a home again. Even without turning, I could visualize him, small and slight with reddish brown hair, freckles, and features that were almost as sharp as mine, in a narrow face. And those intense golden eyes. My own hair and eyes were dark, my skin fair. And I wore glasses. Still, we might have been twins but for those and a few other differences. So our friends Joan and Dee-Dee told us. I breathed in, smelling his scent. My cat, Leona, slithered up before I let my breath out again, looking for something to shred, preferably a lap. If we'd had the three goats from the back hill there, we'd have had the whole family.

"Virginia is gone, indeed," I answered, trying to lend a little seduction to my tone. Roy put his hands on my shoulders as Leona leapt for my lap. Yes, I was home.

"I'm melting," I whispered. Can the Wicked Witch of the West sound sexy? I thought so.

"Cally," Roy breathed. Did he think she was sexy, too? "I gotta tell you something."

"Tell," I ordered languorously.

"Cally, it pains me to speak of it, but I see the darkness near you again."

All lusty thoughts fled my mind. Leona dug her nails in, then jumped from my lap, sensing the change in direction. "The darkness." Roy hadn't spoken for months of the darkness he used to see so regularly. For a long time, he'd thought the darkness was something harmful that he brought to our relationship, but I'd come near to convincing him otherwise. I'd hoped he wasn't seeing it at all anymore. I slowed my breathing and tried to think of light.

"Cally, are you all right, darlin'?" Roy asked softly, but then went on before I could answer. "I'm sorry I had to say so, but I truly do see darkness again—"

"I know," I cut him off, keeping my tone as light as the rest of me felt heavy. "It's my family."

"No, really—" he tried again.

"Really," I interrupted once more. "I hate these get-togethers. You're just feeling that."


"Kiss me," I ordered, turning my chair around.

He did, and my working day turned into night. And the night was beautiful.

The next day we set off to Geneva's house in my old Honda Accord. I drove, and in a grocery bag on his lap, Roy held the eggplant dip, whole-grain bread sticks, and vegetable enchiladas I'd made for the feast. My brother York was a vegetarian as well as a martial artist. I wanted to compensate for the turkey that Geneva had insisted on cooking.

"It's strange to be going back to Geneva's," I told Roy.

Roy hadn't spoken of the darkness again, but I could see by the circles under his eyes that he'd been thinking of it when he should have been sleeping.

"How long did you make your home with your sister?" Roy asked.

I thought for a moment. "Three years, I guess," I calculated. "From age fifteen, when my parents died, till I went to college at eighteen."

"Cally, I know you worry about your parents passing the way they did—" Roy began.

"And it doesn't do me any good," I interrupted.

"Sometimes it does do good, darlin'," Roy argued softly. "You're a healer. You know you can't just pretend to forget these things. You know that's what's wrong with your leg."

"Oh, Roy," I whispered. "You're probably right. But today, I need to be here for Geneva. She was there for me."

"But these visits make you miss your mama and your papa," Roy went on. "I can see that."

As if a movie was suddenly projected onto my windshield, I saw my parents gardening together, laughing, as Pop pretended to be a tree, twisting in the wind. And then the image was gone again.

"It seemed like my parents were always laughing," I said to Roy.

He reached over and stroked my leg silently, encouraging me.

I told him more: about Mom's surreal art work, light within light; my father's science experiments (he never quite got the solar oven going); our raucous dinners; family vacations. My throat was sore by the time we reached Geneva's. I wasn't sure why. It had only taken a few minutes to drive to her place, a few sentences. My sister Geneva and I both lived in the same town in Glasse County, after all. Estados, the same town my parents had lived in.

It was two o'clock when we walked up the familiar gravel driveway to Geneva's home under the clear, cold sky. Then we saw them. Two turkeys. Only they weren't stuffed. They were wild. Their bodies were dark with shining bands of bronze, silver, and cream on their feathers. The markings reminded me of a tabby cat's markings, but these guys were a lot bigger than most tabbies. At least in body. Their heads were tiny, and their legs looked like bent pencils.

"The Turkey Sisters" I breathed in awe.

"Who?" Roy asked, before he saw them, too.

"Geneva's been talking about them for weeks," I whispered, tiptoeing now. "They took up residence a couple of months ago. They like to peck at her gravel."

The Turkey Sisters ignored us as we slipped past them.

"Are they safe on Thanksgiving, do you think?" Roy asked.

"Safe as we are," I answered. "Just don't eat any stuffing mix."

Roy let out a laugh, and the Turkey Sisters glanced up.

"Sorry," he apologized, and the Sisters went back to pecking.

We walked past flowering purple cabbages, rose-colored sweet alyssum, and late-blooming chrysanthemums in all the shades in between purple and rose. Those were my sister's colors.

If Roy and I hadn't guessed her color preferences by her garden, we would have been sure when we stepped through the front door into her expansive living room. Purple, magenta, periwinkle, ruby, lilac, orchid, berry, plum, mauve, and grape were all represented in rugs, wall hangings, and the fabric of the couches, love seat, and numerous chairs that circled the vast coffee table. The only earth tones were in the wood. My brother Arnot's custom-made coffee table, shelves, and side tables were all in cherrywood. The inherited piano and grandfather clock were walnut.

The design of the room was much like Geneva herself, neat, simple, and beautiful. Geneva owned her own clothing company, for which she happily designed, even in colors other than her favorites. And she managed her own company, too, although not quite so happily.

I stood still for a moment after we entered the living room, enjoying it as the work of art that it was. I ignored the people that were also collected in the room, then took a breath.

Roy put his free arm around my waist, still holding the grocery bag in his other hand. Whoa. I could smell the turkey cooking. I was ready to mingle.

"Happy Thanksgiving," a wizened woman I didn't recognize greeted me. Her narrow face was gaunt, enlivened by eyebrows drawn in black and a black wig. She held the hand of a young woman, a teenager whose plump, bland features only served to highlight the elder woman's emaciation. I tried to open my mouth.

"This is Pilar," the elder woman went on, indicating the teenager whose hand she held. Pilar nodded, raising plucked russet eyebrows over makeup-laden eyes, but her mouth didn't smile. Then she turned back to the elder woman, a look of concern on her bland face peeking out.

Finally, I realized that this wizened woman was my Aunt Daphne. Her aura winked at me and I saw death.

My leg buckled beneath me.


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