Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(20)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(20)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

I shook my head. “They never ask for money up front. After the job is over, they figure out how much it was worth. You will be getting a bill from them; I can guarantee that. But Jolene told me that they rarely get stiffed. I know that sometimes people can’t afford it, but the paranormal community usually pitches in to make sure everyone comes out okay. We’ve passed the hat at Rosie’s two or three times to help people pay a Lost and Found bill, and the shifters usually take care of things at the pack level.”

I cast a light, tight shield around myself before we sparred, and managed to come out of the sessions with Donna and Michaela feeling pretty good. I didn’t realize how much I missed having a sword in my hands, and it was a good workout.

Then David Cunningham approached me and asked if he could work out with me.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Gilles said, inserting himself between us before I could even open my mouth.

As I turned to walk away, I heard David say, “You can reject me, Erin, but you can’t make me stop wanting to be your friend.”

That night, I dressed up, took the train up to the university, and cruised the bars, hoping that I might run into the handsome young archeologist again, but no luck. My lack of a love life was starting to seriously irritate me, but I still wasn’t tempted by any of the men I was meeting.

On my way back to the train station, I passed by a section of the campus where trees and low bushes separated the street from a low meadow-like grassy area where I had been told students often played frisbee and sunbathed in the spring. Laughter from beyond the trees caught my attention. Not happy laughter but maniacal-diabolical laughter.

Picking my way through the bushes, I came upon a scene from a horror movie. A Hunter, who I didn’t recognize, stood in the middle of the lawn with a large group of vampires encircling him. A lot of them were still upright, but there were five bodies littering the lawn, and two of them were missing heads.

As I watched, the vampires feinted, leaped, and attacked. Two or three would act like they were going to attack in concert from his front and sides, and when he faced them, a couple more would attack from behind. As large-scale dances went, it was fairly entertaining.

“Pretty rad, huh?” a low voice sounded almost right next to me. I turned to see a very young-looking female vampire with a shoulder-length dark-blonde bob and bangs standing next to me. She was maybe an inch shorter than I was, with a similar build, dressed like a typical college student in jeans, boots, a pretty blue shirt, and a woolen peacoat.

“Friends of yours?” I asked.

“Those assholes? No way. He’s kicking their asses, and I’m digging it.”

I chuckled. “You’re pulling for the Hunter?”

“Is that what he is? I’ve heard of them but never seen one. Yeah, I hope he stakes them all. Bunch of stupid jerks.”

The Hunter feinted toward a vamp on his left, but instead of following through, he pirouetted and aimed a low, sweeping slash at the vamps behind him. One went down with a severed leg, and another stared stupidly at his mid-section. His hands slowly rose to grasp his abdomen as it bulged and his entrails started to escape through the cut the sword had made.

A vampire jumped on the swordsman’s back, bearing him to his knees. The Hunter’s left hand came up, and he stabbed the vamp in the face with his main gauche. The vampire fell off, and the Hunter leaped to his feet in time to meet another attacker with the point of his blade.

“Well, you’re probably going to get your wish,” I said. “The Hunter is shielded, and they really can’t touch him.”

“Shielded?” my new companion asked. “You mean, like he’s a mage or a witch or something?”

“A mage. All Hunters are mages.”

“Huh. I didn’t know that. You’re a mage, right? Friend of Eileen’s?”

“Yeah, I am. You mean Eileen Montgomery?”

“Uh-huh. I’ve seen you in Necropolis. I wait tables there.”

Two of the vampires ran into each other trying to dodge the Hunter’s blade, and one of them lost his head.

“He’s just playing with them,” I said. “Practicing.”

“Good riddance. Young and stupid. Rude, too. No respect, and think they’re invincible.”

I had to laugh. “How old are you?”

She also laughed, showing an impressive set of teeth. “I was twenty-one when I was turned. That was in 1969. I tell girls, be careful of one-night stands. I was just hitch-hiking to San Francisco and looking for a place to crash for the night. But I was never that stupid, even back then. Those guys are less than a year old, orphaned when Barclay’s mansion burned down. I’m Shawna, by the way.”


The remaining vamps finally figured out that they weren’t going to win and began slipping away into the shadows. The Hunter stood alone among thirteen bodies. Shawna and I watched as he walked around and cut off the heads of those who still had them.

“You hunt around here?” I asked.

“I don’t hunt the way you mean. I cruise the bars. The scene here isn’t as sleazy as Necropolis, at least to my mind,” she said. “I just take a lover for the night, feed a little bit, but I don’t get greedy. If someone’s a good lover, I want them to smile and be happy to see me when I run into them again.”

“Well, I don’t swing that way, but you take care. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“Wouldn’t matter. Drugs got me dead once, so I’m not interested in getting hooked on mage blood.”

She slipped away as silently as she came. I waited, watching the Hunter.

He finished cutting off the heads of the vampires he had vanquished, then took off in the direction away from me. I slid out of the bushes and followed. I wasn’t an illusionist but knew that twisting ley line energy in a certain way tended to blur my image, especially at night. It wasn’t a perfect disguise, but unless a person was looking right at me, or knew what they were looking for, it helped to make me less visible.

The fact that he was out in full uniform at night told me he was hunting. I had known a lot of Hunters who hated vampires and hunted them for sport. Evidently, he had heard of the vampire predations in the university area, and the size of the group that attacked him told me that Blair’s team hadn’t made as much of a dent in the problem as Cindy hoped.

After casting about for a few minutes, I saw a black-cloaked figure probably a hundred yards ahead of me on a long, straight sidewalk. I couldn’t run in the two-inch strappy heels I was wearing, so I slipped them off, stuck them in my purse, and shielded myself, including my feet. That taken care of, I took off running to close the distance between us.

My bare feet made little sound, and I didn’t slow down until I had closed to within about twenty yards. Flitting from shadow to shadow, I continued to follow him. I wasn’t dressed to dance the swords, but I did have one main gauche in a sheath inside my coat, and the Sword of Uriel was always at my call. But confronting him wasn’t my objective. I hoped he would lead me to where he was staying.

To my surprise, he went to a building on campus, one of the old buildings from the early days of the university. Two stories and built with quarried stone instead of brick, it was tucked into a copse of trees near two four-story modern brick-and-glass buildings. The Hunter went to a side door—a narrow, sheltered space near the back of the building—and let himself in. There was a brief flash of light from the inside as the door opened, then darkness again.

I waited for ten minutes, then crept close and examined the door, which had no signs or any distinguishing characteristics except a keypad. Circling around the building, I found a plaque by the front door alongside another keypad. ‘Harland Hall, Faculty Offices’.

I melted back into the trees and pulled out my phone. A search gave me Harland Hall, and drilling down I found a list of the faculty with offices there. Two of them were on the list I had for members of the Columbia Club.

On my way to the train station, I called Blair. The call went to his voice mail, so I assumed he was asleep.

“Lieutenant, there’s been another massacre. One of our Hunters left thirteen headless vamps on Willard’s Green at the University.”

Chapter 16

When I woke up in the morning, I called Frankie. “Have you heard about Willard’s Green?” I asked when she answered. When she said yes, I continued. “Tell me about James Winter and Thomas Feldman.”

“Well, they’re both tenured professors at the university. Winter is a chemist, and Feldman is a microbiologist.”

“And both are members of the Columbia Club, right? Were either of them involved with Constance Gardner in her bounty scheme?”

There was a moment of hesitation. “Maybe we should get together to talk about this.”

“I’m working the next four nights,” I said. “Drop by. This has to do with Willard’s Green.”

I then called Michaela and told her what I’d witnessed the previous night.

“That’s…disturbing,” she said when I finished.

I agreed on so many levels. A Hunter out hunting on the university campus. A gang of vampires that large out hunting together. The fact that the Hunter had so blatantly left thirteen corpses out for humans to find. Earlier that fall, the entire paranormal and supernatural communities were in a tizzy when one hunter had left a few corpses scattered around town. The recent carnage was far more extensive than that had been, and it almost seemed as though the Hunters wanted humans to notice.

“Michaela, one question I have is, where are that many vampires—young vampires, recently turned—spending their days? I know there are abandoned buildings in some parts of town, but not up there by the university. And they can’t have any money to buy or rent anything.”

“Well, there are caves in the cliffs all along the coastline. Most of them are what’re called sea caves, full of water at high tide, but there are caves above the high-water mark, too. It’s because of air holes left in ancient lava flows when the volcanoes were more active. A lot of them are difficult to get to, but a vampire would have no problem scaling those cliffs. Other than that, some orphaned vampires find places like basements where no one ever goes. A lot of people don’t ever go to their basements, especially older people, you know?”

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