on July 24, 2018
One woman is in a world of otherworldly trouble—and she’s going to have to bet her life to save humankind.
Ernestine “Ernie” Terwilliger has put her dreams aside to look after her eccentric mother. Case in point: saving her from a mysterious stranger who’s just stormed the terrified woman’s antique store wearing a rattlesnake tattoo, leveling threats, and brandishing the weirdest deck of cards Ernie’s ever seen.
When Ernie grabs some of the cards and runs, she’s launched into a world she never knew existed—one her mother may know more about than she’s revealing. With a handful of stolen cards, Ernie has just been made an unwilling player in a game of good versus evil. But she’s not even playing with a full deck, and its original owner is more than happy to kill to get his cards back.
Suddenly Ernie’s matching wits and plays with the supernatural Immortal Dealers, who can raise empires, damn souls, and shape the world’s destiny. It’s up to Ernie to defeat the most brutal member of their order. And if her roguish new ally isn’t bluffing, he can help. The mystery is all in the cards, and to save her life—and humanity—Ernie had better learn how to deal.
Caught off guard, Ernie stared at the cards. The backs had an elaborate design. It looked like a snake—its tail ending in a rattle, its back crisscrossed with a diamond pattern—coiled around a globe, its mouth stretched wide to take a bite, fangs out. She shoved the cards toward the man’s chest, needing that creepy image as far from her as possible. She freaking hated snakes. “If I was interested in cheap tricks and whiskey breath, I’d go hang out with Morris the homeless magician over in Pritchard Park. Just tell me what you said to my friend that scared her so badly.”
“Maybe she’s easily scared,” he said, leaning forward and deliberately blowing his boozy breath at her face. “Peeking at the future is hardly for the faint of heart. Now if you will excuse me.” He took Ernie by the shoulders, but she threw his hands off.
“’S there a problem?” asked the bartender, pausing with a cocktail shaker in each hand.
“Not at all,” said the card guy. “I was just leaving.” Taking advantage of the distraction, he brushed past Ernie and was out the door before she could stop him.
“Ugh,” said Ernie before realizing the bartender was still watching her. “Hey—did you hear that guy talking to my friend? She has long blond hair, really pretty?”
The bartender poured the drinks into two glasses and handed them to waiting patrons with a curt nod. “’S been busy tonight. He seemed to be minding his own business.”
“Playing solitaire, riiiight,” said Ernie, rolling her eyes.
“Nah, that wasn’t solitaire. I think it was—tarot, maybe? Symbols and pictures on the cards. He had your friend pick one. I did see that.”
He’d said something similar to Ernie. “Thanks,” she said to the bartender, then made her way to the bathroom. There was a long line of drunk dudes and irritated women waiting, and none of them were her friends, so Ernie banged on the door. “Guys? It’s me.”
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