Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(22)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(22)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

If given a choice, I would have preferred making my first sight-seeing voyage on a sunny day with temperatures significantly above freezing, but it was still pretty and exciting.

“I love boats,” Lizzy told me, hanging over the side as we watched the shoreline recede. “My dad used to have a sailboat, but he sold it. Said that it was too much work to keep it floating. But I don’t care. I’m going to get my own boat someday. Don’t you think it would be awesome to live on a boat? We could sail around the world and break a heart in every port.”

Cindy passed each of us a large set of binoculars. “The idea is to cruise slowly by the cliffs and try to spot anything that’s out of the ordinary. Then we can have some of the SWAT team guys rappel down to check things out. I thought it would be a lot more efficient to narrow our search rather than try and scour miles and miles of cliff.”

Lizzy inspected the binoculars, held them up to her eyes, played with them a bit, then handed them back with a shrug.

“Interesting. You guys need those? I can see better without them.”

Cindy stared at her until I leaned over and said, “You do know that’s her natural hair color, don’t you?”

She turned to look at me, then back at Lizzy. “Oh.”

Lizzy grinned, showing her teeth, a rather unsettling sight—seeing predator teeth in the face of a fairy-tale doll. “I’m only half human, or witch, or whatever.”

Once we passed the main harbor, we slowed, and the captain crept closer to the shore. The land rose steeply north of the harbor, and I was able to see how the rugged basalt cliffs might provide caves, or at least pockets, of shelter.

“What are we looking for?” I asked.

“I’m assuming that if they are sheltering in the same place every night, they’ll wear out a trail in the vegetation,” Cindy said. “Look along the top of the cliffs for anything that looks like a path. Also, if you see any caves, try and see if there’s any kind of trail or trash or anything to indicate the presence of people.”

We drifted along at a slow speed with everyone except the captain scanning the cliffs. Most of us should have just sat down out of the wind and drank the hot coffee that Cindy brought along. Lizzy was the one who found the clues.

“Over there,” she said, pointing. “There’s a path that comes out of the trees and then goes down the cliff face at an angle, ending in that depression over there.”

One of the cops set his binoculars aside and picked up a camera with a huge telephoto lens. After he shot a couple of dozen pictures, we proceeded on, but after another hour of not finding anything else, Cindy gave the captain a signal, and he took us back to land.

Cindy called me the following day just as I was leaving home to go to work.

“We got them,” she said, “or at least a lot of them. Twenty-two vampires, including three girls who look like they’re about fourteen. SWAT rappelled down the cliff and into the cave and took them all while they were sleeping. Slickest operation I’ve ever seen.”

“What about the Hunter?” I asked.

“You mean the one you saw going into Harland Hall? We have the building under twenty-four-hour surveillance, but the whole campus is on a lockdown curfew after dark. The university administration is having kittens. Frankie and her dad have their hands full keeping them away from the media.”

“Her dad?”

“Yeah. Franklin is on the university’s board of trustees. Diversity, you know. There aren’t that many prominent black people in Oregon, so he gets asked to sit on every board, commission, and charity. I would go crazy, but he seems to enjoy it.”

After she hung up, I thought about what the university curfew might mean. If the Hunters were trying to increase Westport’s chaos factor, they would probably shift their activities, their targets, somewhere else. I hoped the Columbia Club members were taking precautions.

But sometimes, being right is kind of a drag. A couple of days after the massacre at Willard’s Green, someone set a house on fire where a group of high-school-age werewolves were having a party and killed seventeen kids. The survivors said that some mysterious, possibly magical, force prevented anyone from escaping through the doors.

Frankie let me know that Blair’s doctors had cleared him to receive visitors, so Jolene and I stopped by and took him some flowers and chocolates. He seemed in pretty good spirits for someone who looked like a disaster.

“Doctors tell me the arm will be fine in a few weeks,” he told us. “The leg is going to take longer. The bullet broke the femur, and until the wound heals, they can’t cast the leg. So, until then, I’m stuck here with the leg in traction.”

“Lucky thing you were wearing a vest,” I said.

“No luck about it. Frankie’s rules. All members of our unit must wear bullet-proof vests while on duty.”

“You might add ballistic-cloth uniforms to that,” I said.

“Too expensive.”

Jolene made a rude noise. “More expensive than surgery, weeks in a hospital, and rehabilitation? I don’t think so.”

I grinned at him. “Since you’re laid up here and can’t use them, what are you going to do with your season opera tickets?”

His eyes narrowed. “I’m not giving them to you for free. You’ll have to come visit me regularly and bring chocolate.”

I was just joking, but if he really wanted to give me the tickets, I wasn’t going to turn them down. “You drive a hard bargain, Lieutenant Blair. Anything else? Books to read? Music? Dancing girls?”

He returned my grin. “If you want to dance, I won’t stop you.”

Cindy Mackle showed up at Rosie’s that night and handed me an envelope. I opened it to find a half-dozen opera tickets.

“Jordan said you wanted these.”

“I thought he was just joking,” I said. “These things are worth a fortune.”

She shrugged. “To somebody, maybe. I’d just as soon listen to cats being tortured. Besides, he said to tell you that he expects the payment you agreed on.”

All of the tickets were for Wednesday evening performances, the first one in a week, so I would be able to attend. Then I tried finding someone to use the other ticket. I knew Michaela liked opera, so I called her.

“Normally, I’d jump at it,” she told me, “but I’m going to be out of town. I have a meeting with some legislators in Salem.”

“I don’t know anyone else who likes opera,” I whined.

“Sure you do. Shawna Kincaid. She loves it. She even sings opera. I think she was classically trained before she was turned.”

“You don’t happen to know her phone number, do you?”

“Nope, sure don’t.”

So, on my next night off, I headed out to Necropolis to find Shawna. I usually wore my old Hunter’s clothing when I went there—all black from head to foot—but with all the nervousness in the city about Hunters, I decided that might not be the best idea. I opted for a red top to go with my Hunter’s skin-tight ballistic-cloth black pants and boots, figuring that was gothic enough. I hung my short sword in its scabbard inside my coat and caught a bus across the river.

Even on a Monday there was a line outside waiting to get in. It always boggled me how many humans frequented the place and that human society turned a blind eye to what went on there, preferring to ignore what was blatantly obvious—that vampires really did exist.

Jill had told me that many college girls new the score.

“They consider it a safe good time,” Jill had said. “They like the euphoria, they like the sex, and they know a vamp can’t impregnate them or give them an STD. And, of course, they deny to the rafters that they believe in vampires.”

I assumed the same was true of the college boys who went there. I also wondered how long it would be before the Otherworld finally came out of the proverbial closet.

After a fifteen-minute wait in line, the bouncers let me in, and I got a ginger ale from the bartender. It was early, and Eileen wasn’t at her usual table on the mezzanine. I wandered around, looking for Shawna.

I spotted her waiting tables on the public side of the mezzanine, away from Eileen’s table and the special VIP tables for her vampire friends. As I made my way in that direction, a vampire bouncer moved in front of me when I started to put my foot on the first step.

“VIPs only,” he said. “Red wristband.”

I glanced at my blue wristband, then reached up, and putting my hand on the back of his neck, pulled his face down until his nose was almost touching my face.

“Smell that?” I purred. “I’m as VIP as they come, and if you don’t want me to kick your ass, you’ll get out of my way.”

He jerked his head free and stared at me, his nostrils expanding with my scent. I smiled at him, and he took a step back.

“Thank you,” I said, and proceeded to climb the stairs.

A guy was sitting at a table for two by himself. Thirtyish, slicked-back black hair, pale skin, dressed all in black. He wasn’t a vampire, of course.

“Is this seat taken?” I asked.

“I was saving it for you,” he said.

I didn’t waste my breath calling him a liar, just took the chair.

“If you see the waitress, call her over,” I said.

We made a small talk for a bit, with him trying to turn on the charm. Compared with the real vamps, he was at a significant disadvantage. He’d obviously memorized the moves, but without their power of persuasion, a lot of his lines fell flat.

With the same silence as she snuck up on me at Willard’s Green, suddenly Shawna was standing by our table.

“Can I get you something?” she asked. Her eyes widened when I turned my face toward her and she recognized me.

“Yeah, I need a date. I have two tickets to see Porgy and Bess at the opera Wednesday night. Want to go?”

She threw back her head and laughed. “Sure, why the hell not? Who told you I like opera?”

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