Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(21)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(21)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

I switched gears. “Do you know of a young-looking vamp named Shawna? She said she works for Eileen.”

There was a trace of amusement in Michaela’s voice when she answered. “Sweet little Shawna. Yeah, I know her. She’s an odd one. Showed up in Westport ten or twelve years ago. Truly an independent. Bought a basement condo near the university and paid cash, then went to work waiting tables and tending bars at Necropolis. She’s a loner with her own set of morals. Other vampires leave her alone. Where did you run across her?”

“Last night, when the Hunter was slaughtering those young vamps. She all but brought popcorn.”

“There’s a story—whether it’s true or not, I don’t know—that she stumbled across a young vampire raping a girl. They say that Shawna tore his head off.”

“And she seemed like such a nice girl,” I said.

Michaela laughed. “Yeah, you two remind me of each other.”

The feel of different kinds of paranormals and supernaturals was different when they came through Sam’s ward on the door at Rosie’s. Most of the clientele were mages and witches, but the dhampir felt different, as did Blair.

I was talking to Lizzy at the bar on Thursday night when I felt a vampire walk in. I looked up and saw Shawna. She smiled as she approached me and crawled up on the barstool next to Lizzy.

“Hi,” Shawna said. “A double Bloody Mary, please. Hold the vegetables and tomato juice. Best vodka you’ve got.”

Lizzy’s eyes shifted toward the vampire, then did a double take. Shawna winked at her.

I poured the vodka and set it down in front of her, then pointed at the Rosie’s Rules posted on the wall. She gave me a tight-lipped smile, dug in the pocket of her jeans, and pulled out a wad of bills.

“Twenty,” I said. She handed me twenty-five. I knocked my knuckle on the bar and gave her a smile.

“Your night off?” I asked after depositing the money in the cash register and tip jar. “Lizzy, this is Shawna. Shawna, Lizzy. Shawna’s the woman I was telling you about from last night.”

“Yeah,” Shawna said. “I’m off on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Thought I’d stop by and see where you worked.”

I didn’t remember telling her where I worked, but I guessed she could have asked Eileen.

Shawna swiveled her stool around and surveyed the crowd. “High octane,” she said. “No wonder you don’t get many vamps in here.” She giggled. “My, this is an eclectic crowd. I’ll bet weekends are wild in here.”

Spinning her chair back around, she picked up her drink and took a sip.

“Maybe you could help us with a mystery,” I said. “We were just wondering where a nest of vamps that large spent their days.”

Shawna laughed. “That gang calls themselves the Cavemen. I don’t know if you noticed, but there weren’t any women. They have a couple of young teeny boppers they turned to use as sex slaves, but otherwise they’re all former gang bangers turned by Rodrick Barclay’s children last year ahead of his war with Harry Gallagher. Idiots when they were alive, and they haven’t gotten any brighter since they’ve been dead.”

“So, they’re living in caves out on the cliffs?” Lizzy asked.

Shawna nodded. “And under logs and wherever they can find. If you got close to them, you’d notice a lack of modern hygiene.”

I moved off to take an order from one of the waitresses and check on my other customers. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Shawna and Lizzy engage in a rather animated discussion, one full of smiles and laughter. Talk about an odd couple. I wondered what they discovered about each other.

When I got back to them, Shawna’s glass was empty.

“Another?”

“Naw, I should go. It’s dinner time. Enjoyed it, though. I’ll stop in again.”

“By the way,” I said, “you wouldn’t happen to know where that Hunter came from?”

“Oh, yeah. He has something to do with one of the laboratories on campus. Check out Harland Hall.”

We watched her leave, then I turned to Lizzy.

“You two seemed to get along well.”

“She’s funny, and she owns a Mini-Cooper like mine, only hers is baby blue.”

Frankie came in about an hour later and sat at the end of the bar, away from everyone else. I traipsed down to her, and before I could open my mouth, she fixed me with an evil glare.

“What’s this about the Columbia Club and that mess at Willard’s Green?” she asked.

“Two members of the club have offices in Harland Hall, and that’s where the Hunter went after he finished killing the vamps.”

“You were at Willard’s Green last night?”

“Yeah. I called Lieutenant Blair and left a message on his voice mail. I saw the whole thing from the bushes.”

“What time was this?”

“About midnight. Didn’t Blair tell you?”

Her expression turned sour, and she shook her head. “Jordan’s in the hospital. Someone tried to kill him yesterday evening. Ambushed him when he left the office and shot him five times.”

“Oh, no!” Although we had a rather strange relationship, I did consider Blair a friend, just as I considered Frankie and Cindy friends. For a former assassin and thief, the idea of having cops as friends still felt pretty strange.

“He was wearing a vest,” Frankie said, “but he still took one in the left arm and one in the right thigh. They had him in surgery half the night.” She sighed. “Can I get a cup of coffee? And then you can tell me about Willard’s Green.”

I poured her some coffee and told her what I had seen the night before, holding nothing back. I also told her about my conversation with Shawna earlier that evening.

When I finished, Frankie said, “Cindy will be glad to get that information. Trying to find where the university area vamps are sleeping has been driving her nuts.” She pushed her empty coffee cup toward me, and I dutifully retrieved the pot and gave her a refill.

“As to the question you asked about Constance Gardner,” Frankie resumed, “the answer is yes. Feldman and Winter were among those funding the bounty scheme. Both are rabidly anti-supernatural.”

“And both had interactions with Edmundson while he was here?” I asked.

She jerked, a look of alarm crossing her face. “Yes, they did. He stayed at Feldman’s house.”

“If you remember,” I said, “the Hunter earlier this year started the chaos in motion by killing Guy Carleton, then he took out several members of the Columbia Club. Now they’ve murdered more members of the club and made a play to eliminate Gabriel Laurent. This is all part of a long-term plan. It’s not random violence.”

Frankie stared off into space for a while, and I left her to think while I attended to the rest of my customers. I saw her pull out her phone and make several calls. Then she got up and left. When I went to clear her dishes, I saw that she’d left a ten-dollar bill on the counter. Coffee at Rosie’s was a buck and a half, with free refills.

Jill, the bartender who relieved me at two o’clock in the morning, was also a student at the university. She came in at one o’clock and ordered her dinner. While she was waiting for her meal, I walked over.

“Did you hear about Willard’s Green?” I asked.

“Oh, hell, yeah. It was all over campus this morning. Students discovered it before the campus cops did, and by the time I got up, the rumor mill was in high gear. What a mess. The cops and administration are trying to downplay it as a gang fight. They’re saying three dead, but the rumors are that the body count was a lot higher.”

She pulled out her phone and turned it so I could see a picture of the Green with bodies and heads lying around.

“This and a couple of other pictures have been making the rounds.”

“Thirteen vamps lost their heads,” I told her. “But before this, was the university telling students to be careful at night?”

“Big time, starting about three months ago. Don’t go out at night, and if you do, travel in groups. There was even talk about imposing a curfew on dorm residents. You can imagine how well that went over.”

“Did you pay any attention to it?”

She shrugged. “I’m a witch. I make sure I have a couple of spells loaded and always shield myself before I go out at night. My mom always insisted I be safe, so I’ve been doing that since I was sixteen years old. I had a vamp try to lure me before Samhain, and I set his crotch on fire. I haven’t had any trouble since.”

I laughed. “They can smell magic users’ blood. The word probably got around that we aren’t the safest meals.”

Chapter 17

The phone rang while I was brewing my first cup of tea. Since the caller had the decency to wait until one minute after ten in the morning, I decided to answer it.

“Erin, what have you got going today?” Cindy Mackle asked.

“Good morning to you, too. I was hoping to eat breakfast, but I haven’t planned anything past that.”

“Night owl,” she accused and laughed. “Frankie approved a consulting fee for you. I’m going to try and find where the caves are that those vamps are using.”

“Money is always good, but I don’t know what good I’ll be. Cliff climbing is not in my skill set, and to be honest, not something I’m anxious to try.”

Cindy laughed again. “Me neither. No, I’ve got a better idea. You don’t get seasick, do you?”

I took a look at a city map and discovered that public transportation wouldn’t take me anywhere near the dock where Cindy wanted to meet. I called Lizzy and begged for a ride. To my surprise, she asked if she could go along.

So, after a quick breakfast, and bundled up like Eskimos going seal hunting, Lizzy and I met Cindy and three other cops at the dock of a Westport Police harbor patrol boat. The captain made sure we all put on our life vests properly, then took us out of the inner harbor area and out toward the islands. After we made it out past the breakwater, the captain turned the boat parallel to the shore and headed north.

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