Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

Chapter 1

Holidays at Rosie O’Grady’s Bar and Grill were a little bit different. Different from what? I wasn’t entirely sure, but it seemed that reality was skewed a little bit more on holidays than usual.

It was my first time working at Rosie’s on Samhain, known to normals as Halloween, and I vaguely knew that it was a big holiday for witches. It turned out to be a bit crazy, although it wasn’t much crazier than a regular weekend night. Sort of like having Saturday night on a Wednesday. Besides, considering the eccentric dress of many of our customers, it was kind of hard to determine what was a costume and what wasn’t.

I was broke and had never celebrated Halloween in my life, so I planned to just wear my normal work clothes, but my friends Jolene and Lizzy had other ideas. My history lessons didn’t include much about 1960s London Mod culture, so I just had to take their word for it that that was what my costume implied. A loud yellow-and-blue top—filled out by an outrageously stuffed bra—a white vinyl miniskirt that barely covered my ass, and matching white knee-high boots with heels that had me teetering around behind the bar, afraid all night that I would fall. Then they teased my hair into a beehive kind of thing and sprayed it with enough hairspray to embalm someone. It took me forever to wash it out.

Liam and I worked the bar that night. His new dhampir girlfriend, Sheila Gallagher, planted herself on a stool nearest the door, so I let him work that half and worked the half closest to the kitchen and the waitress station. Liam, tall, thin and pale, was supposed to be a wraith, Sheila informed me, while she was a princess.

Lizzy, who was half-Fae and half-witch, had naturally pink hair and usually dressed in pink and white as an emo doll. When she came in on Halloween, I didn’t recognize her. She had brown hair styled like a 1940s femme fatale and wore a dark-green, form-fitting, floor-length evening gown.

“Gods,” I breathed when she ordered her normal sloe gin fizz, “I didn’t recognize you! How did you do that?”

With an evil smile, she faded into her normal self, right before my eyes.

“It’s a glamour,” she said, then faded back into her 1940s persona.

“That’s cheating,” I said.

She winked at me. “It’s what the Fae do best.”

I expected Jolene to show up, but it was one-thirty in the morning, and she still hadn’t made an appearance. I could have asked her brother Josh, but he was dancing, and I was slammed pouring drinks. Trevor probably knew, but it had been a couple of weeks since our fight, and he still wasn’t speaking to me.

The feel of someone coming through the spelled entrance caused me to look up, and my heart almost stopped. A figure in a long black cloak stood in the doorway, then stepped into the room, and another cloaked figure followed. Such cloaks had bad connotations for me as I associated them either with the Hunters’ Guild, the organization I had once belonged to, or with the new vampire Master of the City, Gabriel Laurent, and his dhampir followers.

The person at the door pulled back their cloak’s hood to reveal the smiling face of a young witch I knew. The second person was her boyfriend, and I relaxed.

Soon, more and more cloaked figures came in, their cloaks a rainbow of colors. In addition to black, I saw shades of red, yellow, and green, plus a few gray ones. Someone jokingly mentioned “the parade of the witches,” and I realized that their Samhain celebrations had ended. Sure enough, Jill, the bartender who usually relieved me, came in soon after.

“Do all of you wear cloaks on Samhain?” I asked her.

“Either that or freeze your tush off,” she said, parting her cloak to show a filmy white robe under it. “At least my circle doesn’t celebrate skyclad.”

I blinked at her, then spun around to scan the witches now filling what little space remained in the bar. A flash of leg here and there, especially from some of the men, told me that many of the cloaks hid a lot of bare skin.

Jolene finally came in half-an-hour later, dressed as a witch, of course, complete with a broom and a peaked hat. She was wearing a lovely cloak of dark green. I made a note to find out where to get one for myself. Probably some place like Witches-R-Us, that I had never thought to look for. I knew that Jolene didn’t go out in the wilderness to pick herbs and flowers for her various spells and potions.

“I wondered where you were,” I said as I set her drink on the bar.

“Dancing with the coven,” she answered.

“I didn’t know you were part of a coven.”

She shook her head as she took the drink. “I was initiated when I was fourteen. I don’t participate, except at the solstices and Samhain, but it makes my mom happy when I do.”

I grinned. “Are you one of the skyclad crowd?”

She stepped back and held her cloak open, showing me her naked body. I felt the grin slide off my face.

“Why do you always act so shocked when you show up at my place and I’m not wearing any clothes?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe because you open your door undressed. I would never do that.”

I had done that only once, and I had checked who was there through the peephole. Besides, I wasn’t awake yet.

“But you’ll go out to a bar naked.”

She grinned at me. “Can you think of a better way to get lucky?”

I rolled my eyes. “I would think you’d learned your lesson about picking up guys in bars.” A month before, a dhampir had kidnapped her and given her to an ancient vampire, who did what vampires do.

Jolene shrugged. “Now I make sure I see them smile before I go outside with them.” She elbowed the guy sitting next to her. I knew from his reaction that he had caught the show. “Celebrate Samhain right,” she said. “Be a gentleman and give lady your seat.”

He looked startled, then grinned. “Do I get another flash?”

“In your dreams. Off, buster.”

“Yes, ma’am,” he said as he slid off the barstool.

Jolene let her cloak fall open again while she climbed onto his vacated seat, then winked at him and pulled the cloak around her. “Thank you.”

She swiveled her chair around and watched the festivities while I took care of several customers. When I came back, she turned to face me.

“Is Trevor still being an ass?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “He still won’t talk to me.”

Shaking her head, she said, “I don’t know what happened between you two, and I don’t really want to, but it’s not you, Erin. I think he enjoyed pining over you when you weren’t available, but as soon as you were willing to commit, it scared him. He just took the first excuse he could find to dump you.”

She drained her glass and pushed it to me for a refill. “And if that’s the way he wants to be, he’s not worth it. There are three billion guys in the world you haven’t met yet. I’m sure a dozen or two can hardly wait to fulfill your every dream.”

“Right. I just have to hope they make their way to Westport from Shanghai or Dublin or wherever they’re hiding.”

My normal shift was nine hours, from five in the evening until two o’clock in the morning, but on Samhain I came in a couple of hours early to help get everything ready for the celebration. By the time Jill relieved me, I was exhausted and my feet were killing me. I had a beer and a shot, then called it a night.

I was sitting at the bus stop with my personal shield wrapped around me, watching the cars go by, when three young women showed up and sat down beside me. From their conversation, I learned that they worked at bars farther up the street from Rosie’s. Most of the bars up that way were strip bars, but not all of them. One was a nice supper club, with a piano bar and a house jazz band that Trevor had taken me to when we were dating.

A couple of minutes later, a car drove up with two men inside and stopped in front of us. The guy who wasn’t driving rolled down his window.

“Hey, you girls want to party?”

“No, thanks,” one of the women answered.

The men were drunk and obviously deficient in the English language. The guy opened his door and got out. He held out his hand with some money.

“C’mon. We got money. What’s the matter? Our money not good enough for you?”

Someday I’ll learn to keep my mouth shut, but he irritated me.

“It’s not your money,” I said, “it’s your breath and general hygiene. Go home, take a shower, brush your teeth, and come back. I’ll wait right here for you.”

The women burst out laughing.

“Bitch!”

He started toward me, so I stood up and stepped forward to meet him. When he reached out to grab me, my shield stopped his hands six inches from my shoulders. I slid closer and punched him softly under his ribs, driving the air from his lungs.

“Uhhh.” It was the most intelligent thing he’d said so far.

I picked him up off the ground and threw him into the car, then leaned in and told the driver, “I’m giving you fifteen seconds to get the hell out of here before I castrate both of you.”

I stepped back as the car’s tires squealed. The open door swung to close but hit the mouthy idiot’s legs, which were hanging out, bounced open again, then tried to close again. The car swerved away down the street with the door bouncing back and forth.

“Wow!” one of the women said. They all started congratulating me and asking how I did that.

“Take a karate class,” I said. “Not only is it a good workout to keep in shape, but going home at this time of night, it comes in handy sometimes.” Some nights it was vampires, other nights it was mouthy drunks.

The bus came a few minutes later to take us all home.

Chapter 2

Although Rosie’s served a great breakfast, and the morning-after-Samhain brunch menu had looked great, I chose to go in a different direction. I took the bus to the nearest train station, then to another train station, and out to the university at the farthest northwest part of the city where the ocean met the mountains.

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