Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(13)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(13)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

Jolene told us that her spells showed eighteen of the missing teens at three different locations. The other girl was alone in a different part of town, not far from her parents’ house. Jolene showed me the spell to activate the tracking mirrors and how to use them, then we piled into Josh’s van, and off we went.

We made a quick stop for burgers and milkshakes on our way to the first location. I was barely finishing my milkshake when Josh turned down a quiet street into a warehouse district south of the river. The area didn’t look too old and decrepit, but I could tell most of the buildings weren’t being used.

“This one,” Jolene said as we drove slowly down the street. The sign on the square four-story building said “Howard Bakery”, but there weren’t any cars parked around it or any trucks around the loading docks on the side. Josh drove on by and then turned into an alley, where he stopped the car and turned off the engine.

“Normally,” Trevor said, “Josh and I go in on this type of thing since we can shield a lot better than Jo can. She sits outside in the van and monitors things so that if we have to get out quick, she can pick us up and help with illusions to cover our backs.”

“Besides,” Josh said, “she’s the one who’s going to patch us up if we get hurt. No sense putting your medic in the line of fire.”

“I’ll go in with you,” I said. “I’m curious to see what’s happening in there.”

It was apparent pretty quickly that if anyone was inside, they were using unusual abilities to get in and out. All of the doors, including those on the loading docks, were locked with heavy steel bars. We did find two broken windows that hadn’t been boarded up on the second floor. An easy leap for a vampire.

Trevor went back to the van and returned with a rope similar to the ones that mountain climbers used.

“We’re going to try and push you up into that window,” Josh said, “then you can find something to tie the rope to, and we’ll climb up. Sound good?”

“We usually prefer to avoid destroying property to get into something like this,” Trevor said. “No hassles with the building owners, and this way is quieter.”

“Sure, sounds good to me,” I said.

Without warning, Josh reached for me, grabbing my upper arm with one hand and putting his other hand on my ass. Before I could react, I was flying through the air, with the open window rushing toward me.

Luckily, his aim was good, and all I had to do was duck a little to keep from cracking my head as I passed through the opening. Landing was another story. The floor inside was clear for about four or five feet, then there was a large metal desk sitting in my way. I was shielded, but it was still jarring to hit the desk. I bounced off and landed on the floor, raising a cloud of dust.

Cursing under my breath, I had to roll quickly out of the way as the heavy coil of rope sailed through the window and almost landed on me. I crawled over to the window and looked down to see Josh and Trevor grinning at me. Joke on the new girl. I knew from Illuminati training not to react, but I made a mental note to look for a way of paying them back.

Looking around, I saw a path through the dust on the floor leading from the window to an open doorway. I cautiously peeked out the door and found a walkway with a guardrail of metal pipe that ran all the way around the second floor. The entire center of the building was open for two stories. As there were no lights, I couldn’t see very well, but to my right, I could make out stairs leading down to the first floor and also up to the floor above me.

The metal desk moved too easily to tie the rope to it. Hoping there weren’t any vampires in the darkness watching me, I tied the rope to the metal guardrail, then took the rest of the coil back through the room and threw it out the window. The rope was pulled taut, and shortly thereafter Trevor scrambled through the window. Josh soon followed him.

“It’s dark as pitch in there,” I whispered. I pointed to the trail in the dust. “Someone is using the place.”

Josh kindled a magelight. “If we’re dealing with vamps, the only ones who can’t see in here are us.”

He followed the trail out onto the walkway, then turned to us and said, “Yeah, the trail continues up those stairs.”

Trevor and I followed him out of the room.

“Erin,” Josh said, “set a magelight about twenty feet ahead of you and ten feet off the floor. Fix it there so it moves with you. I’m going to go first, then you, and Trevor last. Okay?”

“Yeah.” I pulled more ley energy before I created a magelight and set it where he told me to. This was a side of Josh I had rarely seen—serious, confident but cautious, and competent. The Mouseketeers obviously had experience walking into some chancy places. It was daytime, so I didn’t think we would run into any vampires, but it was wise to be cautious.

I kept count, and we ended up with thirty-four sleeping vampires, mostly on the third floor but a few on the fourth as well. Almost all of them were male. The accommodations were not what I would call appealing. In the romance novels I read, the vampires were always rich and elegant. I wondered what the girls going to Necropolis for a thrill would think about the old warehouse.

Jolene’s tracking mirrors led us to a room on the fourth floor with a steel door and a steel locking bar on it.

I raised the bar and pulled on the door, only to find that it was locked. I didn’t bother trying to force the door. Instead, I pounded the door jamb with ley energy until it bent and the wall next to it crumbled away. A few more blows, and we had a hole large enough for Trevor and me to crawl through. It was noisy, but none of the vamps woke up to investigate.

My magelight was the only light in the room. Five teenage girls blearily looked up at us—shielding their eyes—from where they were sitting or lying on the bare floor. They were all filthy, their hair tangled and messy.

I knelt down in front of the girl nearest to me. “What’s your name? Are you all right?”

It was immediately apparent that she wasn’t all right. The terror on her face and in her eyes was the answer to my question.

“My name is Erin. We came to take you back to your family.”

She just blinked at me, as though I was speaking a language she didn’t understand. But the girl a few feet away suddenly let out a sort of quiet scream and said, “Oh, thank God!”

Through the hole in the wall, we handed Josh the four girls who could move on their own. The fifth girl was basically catatonic. She breathed, and her eyes were open, but we couldn’t get any response from her. It took some careful maneuvering to get her through the hole.

Once we had her outside the room, I used ley energy to pick her up and carry her. Trevor and Josh helped the other four girls down the stairs to the first floor.

I set the girl down, making sure she was well away from the loading docks. “If everyone would please come over here and face away from the doors, I’ll open one of those garage doors,” I said. “Be sure and cover your eyes.”

When everyone had done as I asked, I sent a ley missile at the nearest large door, vaporizing it. Daylight streamed into the room.

“Okay, we can leave now,” I said, going over to the catatonic girl and lifting her again.

Josh pulled out his phone, and by the time we were all out of the building, Jolene pulled up in the van.

“You know, if this place wasn’t so close to these other buildings, I’d set it on fire and roast them all,” Josh growled as we helped the girls into the van.

Instead, Trevor called Lieutenant Blair, who came to the warehouse with his team and took charge of both the rescued girls and cleaning out the sleeping vamps in the warehouse. By that time, it was three o’clock in the afternoon.

Trevor looked up at the sun sinking toward the horizon in the west and said, “I think we have time for one more before sunset.” He looked at me. “Are you up for another one?”

After seeing the appalling conditions those girls had been subjected to, there was only one answer.

“Most fun I’ve had since forever. I’m in.”

The second place Jo and Trevor had identified held the most teens. We drove through a very ritzy neighborhood to an old mansion set behind a high stone wall covered with ivy.

“Here?” Josh asked.

“That’s the place,” Jo said, holding up several of the mirrors. “Unless my spells have gone crazy, there are nine of the missing kids in there. Six girls and three boys.”

“According to property tax records,” Trevor said, “the place is owned by a John Taylor. When I looked him up, all I could find was a man born in 1919. A little old to be kidnapping teenagers.”

I shrugged. “I met a man once who was turned into a vampire when he was in his seventies. If you’re getting old and afraid of dying, it might seem like a good idea.”

Josh drove around until we found an alley where we could park the van. Then he, Trevor, and I scaled over the back wall of the Taylor estate.

When I paused on top of the wall, I could see that the grounds were overgrown, and the rose bushes hadn’t been trimmed in years. Thanking all the gods and goddesses for my shield, I dropped off the wall into a rosebush with thorns the size of eagle’s claws and fought my way through until I reached the knee-high grass.

“Been neglected a little,” Trevor said.

Josh made a rude noise. “Great observation, Mr. Obvious. Unless this guy is a mage and not a vampire, I don’t think we need to be terribly quiet and sneaky, but let’s not get careless, okay?”

I noted that while none of the windows had blackout curtains, which vampires often used in their houses, the windows were dirty enough that no one would be able to see through them. We crossed the garden to an expanse of lawn that had probably hosted croquet matches in the house’s early days. Stepping up onto a wide veranda, Josh approached a set of French doors, grabbed the knob, and pulled. The door wasn’t locked and swung open. With a nervous glance at the sun disappearing behind the estate’s west wall, I followed Josh and Trevor into the house.

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