Even though Holly O’Rourke is having problems with her longtime significant other, James, she has never considered cheating…that is, until the day she has a very interesting encounter with Charlie, a handsome coworker. Desperate to understand her increasingly conflicting emotions, Holly schedules an appointment for a reading with a psychic medium. She learns a surprising deeper meaning to her present-day troubles: Her past lives are full of adultery and tragic consequences―and not just with James and Charlie. The threads of her soul have been interwoven for centuries with those of several people in her present life. And the cost of karmic justice has finally come due. Little Bits of Karma follows Holly across time and space, weaving little stories of romance into one sweeping soulful tale of two souls who’ve chased each other through the centuries, but always been torn apart. Until now.
Later that morning Holly woke up first and went into the kitchen to make the coffee. She looked at the clock on the wall and it was 8:15. She had her psychic reading later this morning and James had to be at work at 3:00. She felt better, although her head was still aching. She took two aspirin with her first cup of coffee and sat down at the dining-room table. She got back up and opened the curtains so she could look out onto the patio.
She thought about last night and Charlie. The song “Me and Mrs. Jones” was running through her head like a freight train. She was having mental pictures of the two of them in the coffee shop and thinking of how they held hands walking to the Metro. I guess I sort of cheated on James last night, holding hands with another man, even though it wasn’t for very long. One part of her brain was thinking . . . Don’t be so hard on yourself. James has taken you for granted for a long time. He repeatedly hurt your feelings by choosing to spend time with his guy friends over you, and you never do fun things together anymore . . . no wonder you are attracted to someone else . . . Charlie is HOT! The other part of her brain countered with . . . Stop making excuses . . . you have years invested in James and you know you still love him . . . Work it out, don’t ruin it by having an affair. Her troubling thoughts were interrupted by James coming into the kitchen.
“Good morning,” he said as he poured his coffee into a bright yellow mug.
“Good morning,” she replied, feeling the unspoken coldness between them.
“So, what are your plans today?” he asked.
“I have an appointment at 11:30 downtown to see a psychic,” she replied.
James laughed out loud, and it broke the tension. She started to laugh too.
“Why the hell do you want to see a psychic?” he asked, still laughing.
“I overheard some ladies on the Metro talking about past lives and I thought it would be a fun thing to explore,” she replied.
“Past lives? I know you believe in that stuff . . . I don’t. I believe you get one chance at life, and then you turn into worm food,” he said with smug satisfaction. “Let me know what she says.”
“I will. It should be interesting,” Holly replied. She was used to James not taking any of this seriously. He sincerely believed you turn into worm food and that is the end of the road.
“I’m sorry I jumped on your case last night,” he said.
“That’s okay. I understand. It wasn’t smart, forgetting to lock the door,” she replied.
“How did you get home? You must have driven drunk,” he said, looking serious now.
“I told you last night that I got home fine. By the time I got to my car I wasn’t drunk anymore, just buzzed. I drove fine,” she replied, slightly agitated.
“How about I make a sausage, ham, and cheese omelet for us?” he asked, hoping an offer of food would calm the residual irritation between them.
“Sure. I’m extremely hungry right now,” she replied.
James cooked a delicious omelet for them. She loved that he could cook. There were advantages to living with a chef. James liked to invent new meals for the restaurant, and he often asked Holly to try them first, although it seemed like it had been months since he created a new entree. Holly scarfed down the omelet like a starving prisoner. James watched in amazement. He wasn’t used to seeing her eat like that.
“You just inhaled an omelet stuffed with meat, and it wasn’t a small one either. I’m still working on mine,” he said with a look of surprise on his face.
“The last thing I ate was a piece of chocolate cake last night and some potato skins several hours before that. No real dinner,” she replied.
“I’m surprised you aren’t sick this morning. Please be more careful in the future and never forget to lock the door behind you, especially late at night,” James said to her, trying his best to not sound scolding.
“Yes, Daddy,” she replied with a laugh and glanced up at the kitchen clock. “I need to get ready for my appointment.”
She took a shower and later as she was putting on her make-up, James took one. By the time he was finished showering, she was ready to go. He was blow drying his hair in the bathroom when she went to kiss him good-bye.
“I’ll see you when I get back,” Holly said and kissed him.
“What do you want to do tomorrow?” James asked her.
“Oh, I don’t know. Let me think about it,” she replied.
“Whatever you want is fine with me.”
“See you later,” she said.
This Saturday morning was sunny and warm and Holly was feeling anxious. She hoped this woman would be able to tell her about her past lives. She arrived ten minutes early to the appointment. Martina was located within walking distance from the Metro. She lived in a small row house with a sign in the front yard indicating her services by appointment only. Holly rang the doorbell, and Martina opened the door.
“Hello. Are you Holly O’Rourke?” Martina Preston asked her.
“Yes. Are you Martina?” she asked excitedly.
“Yes, I am. It’s great to meet you. Come on in,” Martina said with a smile and extended her hand. Martina’s demeanor was friendly and inviting and Holly instantly felt at ease.
Martina was a little lady, standing no more than 5 foot1. She was in her mid-30’s with a round, pretty face with crystal blue eyes, medium brown, curly hair that fell past her shoulders, and a voluptuous figure. She was wearing a red checkered sundress and matching solid red espadrille shoes. She led Holly into a small room with gleaming hardwood floors and two white leather chairs and a round wooden table. There were two windows in this room. Martina pulled down the shades to block the sun. There was a large wooden cabinet next to one of the windows. The room was practically empty.
“Have a seat Holly, and we will talk for a few minutes,” Martina said. The two women sat in the white chairs across from each other.
“So, you are here today for a past-life reading, correct?” Martina asked.
“Yes,” Holly replied.
“First, I want to tell you what will likely happen during this session. I go into a trancelike state, and my voice might change. I sometimes take on the behavior of whatever spirit guide is there to speak through me. Usually it is my spirit guide working together with your spirit guide to access your past lives. Each of us has spirit guides to help us in our earthly incarnations. Your primary spirit guide is assigned to you before reincarnating into your current body. As you go through life, the circle of your guides expands, depending on the work you need to accomplish. When you reincarnate, you go through a veil of amnesia, and as you learn and grow in this life, you wonder, what the heck am I here for?
“We come from heaven, a place of total love and happiness. Your enemies in this life are dear friends on the other side. By incarnating into physical bodies, you learn a deeper appreciation for good things and even the bad. The potential growth from experiencing the bad is tremendous. There is no ‘bad’ in heaven, and if you never reincarnate you won’t know the difference between good and bad. There are many wonderful worlds to advance to in heaven after your schooling on Earth and your incarnations are completed.
“We plan our lives before we are born, and our spirit guides are here to help us achieve what we came here to learn and do. They do this by giving us intuitive nudges in the right direction, although we don’t listen to them most of the time. They do their best to keep us on track and guide us for our own good.
“Today, we will be accessing an area of the spiritual realm called the Akashic Records. This realm contains detailed records of your past lives and the past lives for every soul who has reincarnated. Your thoughts, dreams, and actions are recorded for eternity. Do you have any questions before we start?” Martina asked.
“No, I understand. We can begin whenever you are ready,” Holly replied thinking . . . Even our thoughts are recorded for eternity? That’s embarrassing . . . Thank goodness not just anyone can access them.
“Okay. I will ask the guides to show the past lives that might resonate with you at this point in time,” Martina replied and became quiet.
It took several seconds for Martina to enter a trancelike state. She began to speak and the voice was not her own. A deep male voice was speaking with a distinct Middle-Eastern accent:
“Hello, Holly. My name is Kavi . . . I am your guide.” “You lived a life in Atlantis and fell deeply in love with your college teacher. He was married and would not leave his wife. You became pregnant with his child . . .” The voice paused for a few seconds.
“You lived a life in India in 1500 BC. You were a man in that life, and we were brothers. Your name was Sanjay. We were devout Hindus and ran a spiritual center together where we helped people better their lives . . .” Again, he paused for a few seconds before continuing.
“I see a life as a Roman Gladiator during the year of 47 BC. You were a prisoner of war and forced into fighting for the Roman’s entertainment . . .” More silence.
“You were a baby left on the doorstep of a monastery in Ireland in the year of 816 and raised by monks. You died young, as the monastery was raided and burned to the ground by Vikings. The Vikings gang raped you before cutting off your head . . .” Still more silence.
“You lived in Sweden in the 1740s during a time of war. You tended to wounded soldiers, like a nurse. You fell in love with a married soldier from an allied country and carried on an affair with him for over a year. This affair cost him his position, and he was stripped of rank and sent back home. This broke both of your hearts . . .” Again, the voice was silent.
“In another life in England in the 1850s, during the Victorian Era, I see that you and this same man were again secret lovers and married to other people. You were best friends with his wife, and your husband was often away from home due to work. You had a falling out with his wife that ended your friendship, and the two of you began having a secret affair. One day your husband came home from work and caught the two of you in bed together. He shot and killed your lover. You turned to alcohol to ease your depression and died 1 year later . . .” Moments later, the voice continued.
Holly arrived home and hoped to have lunch with James before he left for work. However, when she pulled into the driveway, she noticed that his truck was gone. She walked into the house and saw that he left a note on the dining-room table.
Holly, they called and asked me to come to work early. I’ll see you late tonight.
She was disappointed because she wanted to tell him about her psychic reading and wanted to gauge his reaction to what Martina said about him hiding something. Did he really get called into work early or is he avoiding me? It would have to wait until tomorrow. She wanted to know what he was hiding, and she felt nervous about approaching the subject. She went into the office, logged onto the computer, and ordered a past-life regression CD from Amazon. She had the rest of the day to herself. She decided to lie out in the sun while it was beating down on the backyard and shop for groceries this evening.
She changed into her bikini and took a portable radio with her to listen to while sunning herself. She wanted to pretend that summer was going to go on indefinitely. She spread a beach towel over the chaise lounge, doused herself with sunscreen and turned on the radio. She couldn’t believe what was playing . . . “I Only Have Eyes for You” was just beginning, and Holly was immediately mentally transported back to happy hour with Charlie. She let herself go and once again relived the course of events in her mind. When the song ended she thought . . . What are the chances of hearing that same old song 2 days in a row? It just keeps Charlie stuck in my head. She let out a heavy sigh and turned the radio dial to a classic rock station instead, thinking to herself . . . I’ve known Charlie as an acquaintance for the past 6 years, never paid much attention to him or even talked to him at length until I ran into him at the deli . . . and then ended up getting drunk with him last night . . . Why on earth am I feeling like this? It can’t be purely because I’ve been neglected by James . . . although that might be part of it . . . I feel there is something else too . . . Why has he suddenly come on the scene?
James didn’t go into work early. He had to make a delivery to a posh area of Arlington. One of his clients was having a party tonight and needed “the works.” The works consisted of cocaine, marijuana, ecstasy, and heroin. James wanted the extra money. He lost $4,000 in a poker game a few weeks ago and his ass was on the line to repay it. James was a big, brawny guy and could hold his own one-on-one in a fight . . . unless it was with Bryce Decker. James had a permit to carry a concealed weapon. However, when you are up against two or more armed thugs who are out to get you, the only thing that might save you is a prayer. That’s why he got so upset at Holly last night for leaving the front door unlocked. He had been slow to pay back the money. He was building a secret stash for himself, and Bryce was breathing down his neck. James never did any illegal drugs; he just sold them for money. He was into physical fitness and keeping his body in shape. The basement of their house was set up with a Total Gym fitness system and an elliptical machine for cardio workouts when the weather didn’t allow for running.
As he waited in his new and shiny, gray Ford F150 4X4 truck for his client to appear, parked in a ritzy subdivision, the regrets started again. He was tired and getting too old for this. He left this life behind when he first got together with Holly. He lived on the straight and narrow for 9 years. He knew she was a kind, classy lady, and he wanted her to be proud of him; he wanted to be a better man. He never told her about the gambling and drug dealing. He had never been arrested. He was clean on paper. He was an excellent chef, he loved to cook, and took pride in his work, yet he was drawn to the seedy side of life and living on the edge. He loved poker and blackjack. He was a member of an underground gambling club where the stakes were high. He loved the adrenaline rush it provided. He started gambling again 2 years ago. It started with a simple poker game in the bar with some old friends before work, and he gradually wound up here again. Dealing drugs was a quick-and-easy way to make the money he wanted, and James kept in touch with his underworld connections through the years.
This secret life drove a wedge between him and Holly. He used the excuse of wanting to hang out with the guys to cover his gambling and drug dealing. In his mind he wasn’t really lying to her, he just didn’t tell her the whole story. He knew their relationship was hanging by a thread. Things change when you hide a secret life from your significant other. He was thankful that Holly was trusting and patient, as the drug dealing and gambling were only part of it. He would eventually figure a way to get out of this situation like he did when they first started dating. Once this debt was paid up he would consider going to rehab for his gambling compulsion, although he would have to keep that a secret from her too. He was fighting many internal demons.
James didn’t have to wait long. A clean-cut young man dressed in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt waved to him as he walked toward the truck. This must be his client, or his cover, sent to pick up the works. The drugs were hidden inside a beautifully wrapped large box to look like an expensive gift. James got out of his truck to greet the young man.
“Hey. Are you Mac?” the young guy asked him.
“Yes, nice to meet you,” James said as he extended his hand.
“Got the present?” he asked.
“Sure do,” James replied as he retrieved the present from his truck and handed it to him.
“Looks beautiful. Here you go,” the young guy said as he handed James a manila envelope filled with cash. “Thanks, man.”
“Thank you,” James replied and watched the young guy walk down the street with the present in hand.
James got back into his truck to go to work. He decided this would be his last drug deal; he was going to get back on the straight and narrow. He was looking forward to spending tomorrow with Holly and forgoing an upcoming poker game. When he pulled into the restaurant parking lot, he noticed Bryce was waiting for him in his black, Hummer H3. Bryce saw James pulling in and got out of his H3 to meet him. Bryce was an enforcer for the underground gambling club. He made sure debts were paid . . . or else, and he was an intimidating figure. Bryce was tall and built like Hercules, and his head was completely shaved. He had a large nose, blue eyes, and a wide, mischievous smile which showcased perfect white teeth. He practiced martial arts and owned several studios in the Washington area. You didn’t want to make him angry. Bryce was dressed casually in khaki pants and a form-fitting black polo shirt which showed off his muscular physique.
“James, good to see you,” he said as he walked up to James’s truck.
“Bryce, how are you?” James asked.
“I’ll be doing fine once I get payment from you,” he replied.
“Here you go,” James said as he handed Bryce the envelope with $4,000 in it. James made a profit on the drug deal by jacking up the price and hid the rest of his money in the glove compartment.
“Awesome . . . Thanks,” Bryce replied coolly, and discreetly counted the cash. “See you tomorrow night?”
“No, I’ve got to spend some time with my lady. She hasn’t been too happy with me lately,” James replied with a nervous laugh.
“She’s a fine-looking woman, don’t let that one get away,” Bryce replied.
“Oh, I won’t,” James said . . . I’ve got some major work ahead to patch things up with her.
“Catch you later,” Bryce said, and then turned to walk back to his H3.
James felt like a weight was lifted from his shoulders once again, and he walked into the kitchen for his shift.
“Hi, James!” Amber Conner said excitedly as she saw him enter the kitchen.
“Hey, Amber.” James didn’t want to deal with her today. He was turning over a new leaf and cleaning up his act.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing. I just have a lot on my mind, and I’ve got to get to work,” he snapped back.
“Okay,” Amber replied feeling slighted. She picked up the order for her table and left the kitchen. She was hurt by his abrupt greeting. She had important news to tell him.
“Nothing. I just have a lot on my mind, and I’ve
On Sunday morning James woke up before Holly and went into the kitchen to make breakfast. The smells of coffee and bacon woke her up, and she walked into the kitchen. She was hungry.
“I thought you would wake up when I started cooking,” James said to her.
“Good morning,” Holly replied and yawned, still feeling sleepy. “I could have slept another hour except that I’m starved.”
James noticed she seemed distracted and not her normal, happy self. “Is something wrong?” he asked.
“I had another past-life session, and it wasn’t pleasant,” she replied.
“Tell me about it,” he said as he gently flipped the bacon with metal tongs.
“I was married to Roger in this past life and I was having an affair with one of our friends. Roger was a policeman and came home one day to find me in bed with this other man, and he shot and killed him. He covered his tracks by telling his police friends that the guy broke into the house to rape me. It’s hard to get the image of my lover’s dead body out of my head. Roger shot him in the heart and the head. He fired shots at me too, deliberately trying to scare me. It’s like I just witnessed a shooting death, even though it was sometime back in the 1800s,” she replied while pouring cream and sugar into her coffee.
James found himself feeling jealous of her past-life lover and recalling the times he watched men get killed for not paying their gambling debts. He didn’t believe in reincarnation and thought that Holly was having self-inflicted bad dreams. He was starting to wonder if there was another man . . . No, Holly wouldn’t do that, she’s not the type, he thought.
“Who was the guy you were having an affair with?” he asked.
“In the past life he was called David. I don’t know him in this life,” she lied . . . I don’t like lying to James . . . I don’t want to upset him. I don’t think I can get the image of David/Charlie’s dead and bloody body out of my mind anytime soon though.
“I think you should take a break from visiting the past,” he suggested.
“I think I will, although it was exciting to actually see some past lives,” she replied.
“You didn’t go grocery shopping last night. We’re almost out of food,” James said to her, mildly annoyed and wanting to change the subject.
“I know. I was on the phone with my sister for an hour, and then I got involved in a stupid TV show and I didn’t feel like grocery shopping,” she replied.
“We can go today,” he said. “We haven’t gone grocery shopping together in a long time.”
Holly and James went to the grocery store later that day. It was another glorious, sunny, and warm day. They went to a Giant Food store near their house. Holly was looking at the produce when James noticed Amber Conner. She was several feet away looking at the gourmet cheese. I’ve got to hide so she doesn’t see me, he thought anxiously. Where the hell can I go? What do I tell Holly? . . . No, this can’t be happening to me . . . I don’t want to see her . . . I’ll tell Holly I have to use the men’s room. James pushed the cart over to Holly. This way he would be out of Amber’s immediate line of sight.
“Hey, babe, I’ve got to run to the men’s room. I’ll be back,” he said and quickly walked in the direction of the restrooms. Holly nodded and continued to examine the organic pears, looking for the best ones. She heard a woman’s voice call out her name.
“Holly,” Amber Conner said and waved to her from across the aisle.
“Hey, Amber,” Holly replied and waved back. Amber pushed her cart over to the produce aisle so she could talk to the girlfriend of her romantic interest.
“Do you have a rare day off?” Holly asked her.
“Yes, finally. I serve people constantly. If I’m not wiping up after kids, I’m catering to adults,” Amber replied. “Is James here with you?”
“Yes, he went to the men’s room,” Holly said.
He probably saw me and wants to avoid me . . . Well, I’m not going to let that happen . . . I’ll keep making conversation with Holly until he gets back . . . Amber thought to herself.
Amber Conner worked as a part-time waitress at American Steak in the evenings and on weekends. She worked full-time at a day care center during the day. It was expensive to live in the D.C. area, and she didn’t have a roommate to help her with rent. She was crazy in love with James. She was 33 and not interested in men her own age. She had her eye on James from the first day she started working at the restaurant. She enjoyed flirting with him.
“Holly, I really love your sandals. Where did you get them?” Amber asked, trying to bide time until James reappeared.
“Oh, I got these from DSW. They have the best shoe selection, and shoes are my weakness. I counted my shoes the other day, and I’m embarrassed at how many I’ve got,” Holly said.
“Me too. I had 36 pairs the last time I counted,” Amber said.
“I don’t feel so bad now. I counted 40,” Holly replied with a laugh.
James made his way back to the produce aisle and saw Holly and Amber talking. Damn it . . . I was hoping to avoid this. I guess I’ll have to play along . . . I really wished Holly had gone grocery shopping last night . . . he murmured to himself. Oh well, here goes.
“James, good to see you,” Amber said happily, intending to turn on the charm and see if she could make Holly jealous. Holly noticed how Amber’s face lit up when she saw James.
“Hi, Amber. Enjoying your day off?” James asked, doing his best to remain calm and collected. He thought Amber looked good today. She was a hot little number, standing 5 foot 2 with a wonderfully curvy figure and long blond hair. She had a strong effect on him. Today she was wearing a short, black sundress that showed her ample cleavage.
“Yeah, I’m taking a short vacation soon and will spend a few days at Ocean City,” she said, hoping to spark his interest. She had no plans to take a vacation, although she would make plans with James if he was interested.
“When are you planning to go?” Holly asked.
“Two weeks from now. It’s easy getting time off from waitressing since it’s just a second job,” Amber replied and continued, “Holly, did you know that James is the best chef at the restaurant? I’ve noticed that people leave less food on their plates on the nights that James is cooking than when the other two chefs are in charge. You are such a lucky woman.” Amber was looking at James like she could eat him up.
“She’s exaggerating because I came up with the special recipes for the baked mac and cheese menu,” James said humbly, hoping to end this conversation as soon as possible. He didn’t have to wait long, as Holly was getting annoyed at Amber’s fawning over James.
“Well, she’s right. I know you are the best chef there. We’ve got to get going though. We need to get our groceries and get back. It was nice seeing you, Amber,” Holly said.
“Nice to see you too. James, I’ll see you at work soon,” Amber replied, and winked at him while Holly was looking in another direction.
James took a shower and got dressed. He couldn’t leave the house soon enough to pay Bryce a visit. Bryce owned a chain of martial arts studios, and James knew Bryce would be at his corporate office this morning which was located in Old Town Alexandria. James walked into the lobby of Bryce’s office, and the receptionist let Bryce know that James was there to see him. James sat down to wait. He noticed that the walls were covered with pictures of students performing martial arts, and there was a large curio cabinet showcasing trophies from competitions. In addition, there were several plaques on the wall from local civic organizations and charities thanking, “The Decker Martial Arts Company” for their financial contributions and good deeds. If those organizations knew about Bryce’s deals with the devil and the seedy underground world he inhabits, they would never want anything to do with him again . . . The guy is so underhanded and slick, he should run for national office . . . James thought as he waited for Bryce.
“Mr. Decker will see you now. His office is straight back, at the end of the hall,” the receptionist said to James.
“Thank you,” James replied as he got up and walked toward Bryce’s office.
“James, what brings you here?” Bryce asked as he stood up and greeted him with a handshake.
“Hello, Bryce. I’ve got a problem, and I’d like to talk to you about getting some help,” he answered while returning Bryce’s handshake . . . Damn his office is nice; black leather furniture, large mahogany desk, a great view of the Potomac River, a sofa and wet bar.
“Have a seat and let’s talk,” Bryce said, motioning to James to sit down in a nearby chair as he closed the door. “What’s the problem?”
“I’ve been having an affair with a waitress at American Steak for almost a year. She informed me that she’s pregnant with my child. She got pregnant to trap me. She admitted that she stopped taking her birth control pills on purpose. She claims that she loves me and that she hasn’t fooled around with anyone else. She refuses to have an abortion, and I don’t want a kid. She trapped me, deceived me, and I want your help to make her disappear so I can have my life back,” James said in a defensive and self-righteous manner.
Bryce was disturbed at this request. He had no problems getting rid of people. He had no problem playing the middleman and arranging hits for a fee. However, to have a woman killed while knowing that she was pregnant was especially distasteful to him, and he didn’t want any part of it. The expression on Bryce’s face indicated that he was not amenable to this, and James felt his stomach start to churn . . . I overestimated Bryce . . . I don’t think he wants to help with this.
“You know that I have no qualms taking out anyone who doesn’t pay their debts. I give them ample time to comply and get the money. I have no issues with arranging hits for a fee. However, arranging a hit on a pregnant woman or a child under 18 is not something I would ever do; not knowingly anyway. Who is this woman?” he asked with a look of utter disgust, narrowing his eyes and wanting to take a swing at James for even thinking something like this. Bryce had a soft spot for children, pregnant women, and animals.
“Her name is Amber Conner. She’s a waitress at American Steak,” James replied nervously, suddenly feeling extremely uncomfortable and thinking he made the wrong decision in asking for Bryce’s help.
Bryce immediately flinched. He was stunned and speechless for a few seconds. He loved Amber. She was his favorite cousin, and he would take her side no matter what. He glared at James without saying anything, and James suddenly wanted to bolt from the chair and run out of his office as fast as he could. He knew he made a mistake in coming to Bryce with this request. Bryce knew how to keep his cool, and even though he wanted to strangle James and throw his body in the river, he figured it would be better to force James into marrying Amber and supporting the baby.
“Amber Conner is my cousin, a first cousin,” Bryce stated coldly.
I’m a dead man . . . “I didn’t know that,” James replied sheepishly . . . He’s probably going to kill me now . . . Amber and I never talked about our families.