Ruth Amery tells fortunes at the annual village fete. She has done for thirty-seven years, long before I was even born. And she’s rubbish at it: she relies on variations of ‘meeting a handsome stranger’, ‘finding something that was lost’, and ‘exciting changes in the near future’. Ruth is nothing if not predictable, but Ruth is everyone’s friend, so Ruth gets the gig.

The incomer is no one’s friend. I’m not sure most people even know her name: if I hear anyone talk about her, she’s ‘the incomer’, or ‘her in Raven Cottage’, or ‘that weird woman.’ She keeps herself to herself, which doesn’t go down well in our little community. No one’s even seen inside her house, except the young women I sometimes see arriving on the back of her bike on a Friday night, or getting the bus back to town on a Saturday afternoon. Those girls spark some very lurid gossip from the old biddies.

So she’s a loner, a biker, and probably a lesbian. I only know two other things about her: she claims to read palms better than Ruth, and she doesn’t care who she pisses off. So I like her, and the fete’s got two fortune tellers this year.

Ruth has been doing her usual steady business, but I haven’t noticed anyone going into Madame Potenza’s tent all afternoon; it’s like there’s a magical field repelling people. I don’t know what attracted me to it, except I felt like spiting the old biddies. And I’m tired, so I could do with a sit down. And it might be cooler in her tent. And, yeah, okay, the frisson of having my hand held by a kick-ass woman with a thing for nineteen-year-olds. It doesn’t mean anything; it’s just a bit of fun, and god knows this village could use some of that.

The tent’s dimly lit, and the incomer isn’t even there. She’s probably gone for a pee, or to the beer tent to piss off the old men as well. I’ll stay for five minutes, because the shade is welcome, then I’ll go see Ruth instead and find out which future I’m getting this year. I hope it’s the handsome stranger, because this village could use some handsome. A girl can get tired of book boyfriends, even when they’re billionaires.

When I sit down, the dim light fades to complete darkness. That doesn’t scare me. It doesn’t even surprise me. It feels right, somehow. So does the deep, commanding, and unmistakeably male voice from across the table.

“Draw five cards.”

“I can’t see.”

And like that, the table is lit. Just the table, in a small sphere of light. There’s a deck of Tarot cards on it that wasn’t there before… and a large man, in a dark suit and white shirt, sitting opposite me. I don’t know who he is; his face is outside the light.

“You’re not Madame Potenza.”

Why did I say that? He obviously isn’t her. He’s the man who should be here; the man I came to see. The man in my books. Everything is as it should be.

He leans forward, but his face remains in shadow somehow. “I am he who knows your destiny. Draw five cards.”

I’m going to obey him. That’s my future; I can feel it unfolding.

I deal five cards from the top of the deck, face down. As I turn them over, one by one, he tells me their meaning.

“The Emperor. He represents authority; a father figure. When you see a Major Arcana card in your reading, you are asked to reflect on the life lessons you are currently experiencing.”

Currently? So is this man my father figure? I wouldn’t mind calling him Daddy.

“The High Priestess. She represents intuition and the sacred feminine.”

And she’s another Major Arcana. So am I the sacred feminine?

“The Queen of Wands. She shows the questioner’s inner drive, their basic instinct.”

Well, this got interesting! Daddy Destiny, my sacred feminine, and a little basic instinct could go a long way together.

“The Hanged Man. He represents surrender.”

I didn’t recognise it until I read the right books, but surrender is a big part of my basic instinct. It’s all coming together.

“And finally The World. Integration, and completion.”

So I surrender my sacred feminine to his authority, and we basic instinct until completion? This could be the first year the fete is fun.

“A reading with so many Major Arcana cards foretells life-changing events with long-term effects. There are lessons you must learn in order to progress. Such a profound spread calls for a profound deck.”

Daddy Destiny takes another pack from his jacket, shuffles them, and deals the top card. It’s The Emperor again. It’s a different design, though: in this deck, the card shows a young woman kneeling front of him.

“The supplicant kneels before a powerful man.”

I can see that. But it takes me a second to realise what he said wasn’t a description, it was an instruction. And I should obey, because this is my destiny.

I push my chair back and kneel in front of the table.

He deals the next card. The High Priestess again, except this time she’s a nun. She’s not acting like a nun, though, because she’s holding her habit up and flashing her fanny.

“The supplicant understands, intuitively, what the Emperor wants, and she reveals the sacred feminine.”

He’s right. I just know he is. He’s right, and so I obey. I stand, and raise the hem of my sundress.

“Why does the supplicant hide her true self?”

I look at the card again. I haven’t properly enacted it, because I’m only revealing my M&S briefs. They’re comfy, but there’s nothing sacred about them.

I take off my panties, drop them on the ground, and hold my dress up again. He doesn’t react, except to turn over another card.

“The Queen of Fire. The supplicant’s instinct is to bend over for the powerful man.”

And I follow what he says is my instinct, because that’s my destiny.

He walks around the table to stand behind me, flips my dress up onto my back, and thrusts two thick fingers deep into my cunt; eager and clumsy, like the village lads were when I could still be bothered with them. It’s not the sophisticated seduction I was hoping for, but it’s okay, I was already wet for him. I got wet when he… when… it doesn’t matter when, I just did, because that’s my destiny.

And now Daddy Destiny is finger fucking me, hard. It’s… exciting. Isn’t it? Probably it is. It should be. I might even have an —

“But the supplicant denies her inner drive.”

His fingers withdraw, seeming to shrink as they do. They’re thinner now, softer, more gentle. They’re sliding over my lips, to my clit, circling, teasing, rubbing, and rubbing, and rubbing, and oh god this time I’m definitely going to —

Then his fingers are gone.

He drops another card beside my head. It shows a woman being whipped. Now that’s a destiny I can get my behind behind. This is what I’ve fantasised about. Punish me, Daddy Destiny!

“The Hanged Man. This artist calls him ‘The Punishment.’ The supplicant does not surrender to the punishment of a powerful man; she punishes herself by submitting to him.”

So he’s not going to spank me?

He deals the final card.

“The World. A powerful woman sits astride the face of the world. To become complete, to fully integrate her intuition with her basic instinct, the supplicant must become one with herself, and with the world.”

Everything fades to darkness again.

I can hear a woman asking, “Are you okay?”

Am I? I think so. I was… waiting for the incomer. For my fortune.

“Yes. I’m… Sorry, I was tired. From the heat. I sat down to wait for you and I must have drifted off.”

And had a very strange dream. A very hot dream. I can still feel its heat, clammy between my thighs.

Madame Potenza takes my hand in hers, and I shiver as she runs a finger along my open palm. “The supplicant already knows her destiny.”

I push my chair back, and kneel next to my knickers. “Yes, mistress.”

Autistic author of psychological smut and philosophical filth. Usually found hiding behind a book.