Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(14)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(14)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

We found a couple of dozen vamps bedded down on the first and second floors. An ancient-looking vampire, who we assumed was John Taylor, was sleeping on an ornate four-poster bed on the second floor. The door at the top of the stairs on the third floor was locked. Josh gave it a good kick, and it flew open. Ahead of us, we saw a line of doors on both sides of a long hallway.

“Servants’ quarters,” I said to Josh and Trevor. We found the teenagers locked in those small rooms. Although they had obviously been used to feed on, they were in much better condition than those we’d rescued at the warehouse. The floor had working bathrooms, and it was apparent the kids had all recently bathed.

Things were going very smoothly to that point, but the light was fading, and we were in a major hurry to grab the kids and get out. That’s when we hit the first snag. One of the boys and one of the girls refused to go.

“I don’t want to go,” the boy of about seventeen told me. “I hate my parents, and the people here let me do whatever I want. They make me feel good.”

“Oh, really? You like being a victim?” I asked. “You like having your blood sucked out of your body?”

“Yeah. It feels good, and the sex is great. They feed me, take care of me, and love me, which is more than my parents have ever done for me.”

“I see. Are you aware that all it will take is a minor miscalculation, or a moment of feeling pissy, and one of them will drain you, and you’ll be dead?”

He shrugged. “They would turn me, and I’m okay with that. They like me.”

Josh walked in and said, “We don’t have time for this.” He slapped the kid on the side of the head, then picked the limp teenager up and slung him over his shoulder. “He may be back here in a week or two, but I’m getting paid to bring him home. Let’s go.”

I took basically the same tack with the unwilling girl but didn’t knock her unconscious. Instead, I grabbed her by the hair and dragged her down the hall until she agreed to walk under her own power.

We walked down the front drive in the twilight, and I used ley energy to blow open the front gates. Jolene and Lieutenant Blair awaited us.

“You’re not here to arrest us for breaking and entering, are you?” I asked Blair as his team ushered the teens into a paddy wagon.

He winked at me. “Might get a little confusing figuring out how to charge you. Looked like breaking and exiting to me, and I’m not sure what statute that is.”

Chapter 11

“So, two more stops and you can buy me a beer?” I asked the group as Blair and his team hauled away the teens we’d rescued.

“It’s after dark,” Josh pointed out. “Jo, where is the next place you identified?”

“An old apartment building in the East End. Not really an area I’d care to walk around in the daytime.”

Rosie’s was on the western edge of what was known as the East End. Beyond Rosie’s was a stretch of night clubs, then strip bars, and beyond that one of Westport’s slums, full of junkies, rats, and destitution. It was downwind of the city garbage dump, which tended to depress property values.

“Let’s get it out of the way,” Trevor said.

The place turned out to be a six-story brick building that had seen much better days. Jolene parked the van directly in front of the building and waited for us with the doors locked and a pistol in her hand.

We walked in the front door and followed the tracking mirrors up a flight of dirty, smelly stairs. Josh led the way, with Trevor and me following him. As he set his foot on the landing of the third story, a man dropped from above, crashing into him. Josh staggered but kept his feet.

The vampire who bounced off Josh’s shield didn’t do as well, spilling down the stairs and landing at my feet. I kicked him in the chest and felt his bones break. I kicked him a second time, and he went limp.

Trevor sent a bolt of lightning up the stairwell, and Josh followed it, taking three steps at a time. By the time I reached the top, I found him facing at least a dozen vampires. Both of his hands projected three feet of narrow flame.

“No need to be alarmed,” Trevor’s voice rang out from behind me. “Just give us all the living, and we’ll be on our way. No need for anyone to get hurt.”

I heard the sizzle of electricity and turned to see a vampire lying on the floor twenty feet or so beyond Trevor. The vamp was shaking and acting like he was having a seizure.

“Of course, we can always exterminate this nest if you don’t want to cooperate,” Josh said. “That would be so messy and take so much time. Just give us the living, and you can go back to whatever you do for fun.”

“So far,” Trevor continued, “we’re up two to zero, and I’m betting we can pitch a shutout.”

All of the vampires I could see had been turned young, and I assumed they hadn’t been turned for very long. They weren’t as dirty and rough looking as the group at the warehouse, but they were a long way from being a teen girl’s heart throb.

A large man, tall and heavy and older in appearance, came out of the darkness. He had been unshaven and unkempt when he was turned, and he obviously saw no reason to change that in his new, undead life. The feeling of power from him told me that he had been a vampire a lot longer than the others. Possibly he was the sire of the entire nest.

“Let them take the whores,” he said. “You can go out hunting tonight and collect some more.”

The feeling of malevolence he projected made my skin crawl. His voice seemed to coat me with slime. Filled with revulsion, I pointed at him and said a Word. His skull silently exploded, showering his minions with blood and brains.

From behind me, I heard Treavor’s barely voiced, “Holy shit.”

Everyone on both sides froze, staring at the vampire as his body slowly collapsed. And then, as though someone had given a signal, all of the vamps scrambled to get away from us, bumping into each other and knocking the weaker ones aside. In less than a minute, Josh, Trevor, and I were alone.

“Well,” Josh said, the flames from his hands disappearing, “that’s one way to clear a room.” He slowly turned and stared at me, his eyes measuring me down and back up again. “I now see that getting brained with a serving tray was a very gentle lesson in manners. You are really one dangerous chick.”

My face felt hot, and I couldn’t meet his eyes. “He made me feel really gross,” I finally said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to have him actually touch me.”

Josh took a deep breath. “All right, then, let’s go rescue some kids.”

Although we heard scuffling noises and low whispers all around us, we didn’t see any more vampires as we searched through the building. We found the teens on the fifth floor. The boy was in a separate room from the girls. All had been fed on extensively, which was easy to see as none of them had any clothing. We covered them with the dirty blankets they’d been using for beds and helped them down the stairs to the van.

Their condition was enough to break my heart, and I was glad I had killed the nest alpha. I could get along with a lot of vampires, as long as they didn’t get too pushy, but some of them really needed to die the final death.

“There’s one more kid on the list,” Jolene said. “Mary McCarthy, age fourteen. Reported missing on her way home from school a week ago.”

“Doesn’t sound like the others,” Trevor said. “For one thing, she disappeared during the day. Her parents are norms, and we got her name from Frankie.”

“The cops came up empty,” Jolene continued. “There’s some suspicion that she might be a runaway. But I didn’t get that vibe when I talked with her parents. This feels differently than the others. I’m wondering if she was kidnapped by a pedophile rather than a vampire.”

Jolene called Frankie, and five minutes later Blair called Jolene.

When Jo hung up, she said, “Blair wants us to find the place, then call him with the address and wait for him to get there.”

Trevor didn’t look happy. “The problem with that is Blair always wants to do things by the book. Get a search warrant, blah, blah, blah, so it will hold up in court.”

“Yeah, but you’ve kinda got to do that if the kidnapper we’re dealing with is a norm. The cops frown upon us busting the door down and taking someone’s head if we’re not working in the shadow world,” Jo said.

Josh drove to the area the tracking mirror pointed to, and after cruising through an older middle-class neighborhood, Jo pointed out a small house on a large lot. To the side and behind the house was a large two-door garage. Lights in the house were on, but everything was quiet.

“That’s the place,” she said, pulling out her phone and calling Blair again.

We waited for an hour, then Blair pulled up in his car. Shortly thereafter, Cindy Mackle and Dan Bailey arrived in another car.

“You’re sure this is the place?” Blair asked as we all gathered in the street.

“My spells have found eighteen missing kids today,” Jo said.

Blair pulled a folded piece of paper out of his pocket.

“Frankie knows a judge who’s married to a witch,” Blair said. “He issued a search warrant based on information from a knowledgeable informant. Let’s go.”

Blair sent Bailey around to the back door, then knocked on the front door. When no one answered, he tried the knob, but it was locked. That’s when he startled me. Raising his foot, he kicked the door, splintering the jamb.

“Police!” he announced, bursting into the house with his pistol drawn. Cindy slid in after him. Josh and Trevor went in next, and Jolene followed them, the tracking mirror in her hand.

A man came out of a back room and almost ran into Dan Bailey, who had kicked in the back door.

“Whoa! What’s going on?” The guy held his hands up in the air, a panicked look on his face. He looked to be in his late forties, bald with a fringe, probably around five-foot-ten and fifty-pounds overweight. His gut stretched his white undershirt, and his faded jeans didn’t fill the gap. Decidedly unappetizing.

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