Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(23)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(23)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

“Michaela. I don’t have a car, so pick me up? We’ll go Dutch on dinner?”

“Sounds good to me. Anything else?”

“Yeah, can you get this guy some new lines? He’s going to die a virgin if he doesn’t pick up his game.”

We laughed, and then I got up and walked with her down to the bar. I gave her my phone number and address, then got out. The mixture of blood, alcohol, and pheromones was enough to gag me.

A little while after I got home, my phone rang. It was Shawna.

“You said something about going to dinner? Were you serious?” she asked.

“Yeah. I know that The Dorchester burned down, but isn’t there someplace that accommodates cross-species tastes?” The Dorchester had belonged to George Flynn, one of the losers in the vampire succession wars.

“Sure, there’s a couple of places. A Manger du Sang is downtown near the opera house. Do you want me to make reservations?”

“If you please.”

“You know, you’re full of surprises. I never had a mage ask me on a date before.”

“Play your cards right and keep your hands to yourself, and it could happen again,” I said. She laughed and hung up the phone.

I ran down to the hospital in the morning, stopping at a candy store on the way to buy some chocolates.

“Hey, Lieutenant, how are you feeling?” I asked as I walked into Blair’s room and set the box of chocolates down on his bedside table. “Thanks for the tickets.”

“Did you find someone to go with you?”

“Yeah, a cute young vampire I met at a massacre the night you were shot. She loves opera. I’ll have to introduce you when you’re up and around again. If you enjoy a walk on the wild side occasionally, I think you two would get along.”

I had been anticipating delivering that line all the way to the hospital, and the aghast expression on Blair’s face was worth the wait.

As I was getting ready for my ‘date’ with Shawna, I realized we hadn’t discussed attire. I had always gone formal for events such as the opera or ballet, but I knew some people showed up in blue jeans. I decided to hell with it and I’d do what made me happy. I had bought some pretty dresses, and I rarely had an opportunity to wear them.

It was the first chance I had to wear the sleeveless sapphire-blue ankle-length satin evening gown, but I loved the way it felt and how I looked in it. I curled my hair, knowing the waves wouldn’t last an hour, and used a couple of blue butterfly clips to pull the sides into a half updo. With blue eye shadow and blue lipstick, I heartily approved of the girl in the mirror and wished I was going out with someone I wanted to bring home.

If I thought my love life was barren before, going on a date with a female vampire confirmed that I had hit rock bottom. Not for the first time, I wondered if it would be so bad to just pick up a guy and use him for a night the way Jolene and Lizzy did. Most paranormals didn’t stay with the same partner their whole lives, or at least not monogamously. It was different with humans, who might marry someone for thirty or forty years and grow old with them. For us, a lot could change during a lifespan of two or three hundred years.

When I got into Shawna’s car right after sunset, I saw that I needn’t have worried. Her blood-red dress with long lace sleeves was as elegant as one could get. She also wore eye shadow and lipstick that matched her dress. We looked at each other and laughed.

As we drove out of my parking lot, she asked, “Are you sure you aren’t at least a little bit bi? I promise I won’t bite.”

“Sorry. Been there, done that, not a fan.”

She sighed dramatically. “Oh, well. I guess we’ll just have to settle on conquering the other half of the world.”

The restaurant served what vampires called ‘prepared dishes’—in other words, the blood had already been extracted from the victims rather than have them present at the table. I perused the menu and saw that raw blood was available from sheep, pigs, cows, and humans, the last being significantly more expensive.

Some of the dishes were served warm—blood puddings of various types and flavors, blood sausage, blood pies, and a host of other things that the vamps could eat like regular people. There was also a selection of steaks. I ordered a filet medium rare—the most done the kitchen would prepare—and a salad of raw vegetables. Shawna ordered a petit filet, raw, with a warm blood pudding, and sheep’s blood to drink. I had a vodka Collins.

“You’ve been in such restaurants before,” she said after the waiter brought our drinks.

“I worked in one for a short time, and George Flynn invited me to dine with him and his family at The Dorchester once.”

“There’s a rumor that you’re an ex-vampire hunter.”

“You know how those silly rumors get started. I’ve never stopped hunting vampires. I just have more fun doing it now. Instead of cutting off their heads, I drag them to the opera.”

Shawna laughed. Her voice was very pleasant, her laugh melodious. I wondered if I could talk her into singing for me without crawling in her bed.

When we got to the opera, I insisted on taking a selfie of us together before the performance started. I sent it to Blair captioned, “Thanks for the tickets!”

I had never seen Porgy and Bess before. The Illuminati wouldn’t have considered it “real” opera, having been written in America, in English, with black performers, but I loved it. So full of life!

Chapter 18

After the show, Shawna took me to a vampire bar I’d never been to before. She was as excited about the opera as I was, and as we walked down the street, she burst into song with Summertime. Her voice was truly extraordinary, and it was the perfect punctuation to the evening.

She led me down a side street between two tall office buildings and then around a small park. What looked like a maintenance building without windows was set against the back of a skyscraper. A minute after she pushed a button on the wall next to a black door, the door opened, and we entered to find a foyer bathed in red light.

Once inside, I saw immediately that it catered to a completely different clientele than Necropolis. It was decidedly upscale, the majority of the patrons were vampires, and the only humans in the place were with their vampire dates. Shawna ordered a real Bloody Mary, but I stuck with straight whiskey.

Shawna introduced me to a few people, and I saw some nostrils flare, but she growled at the one guy who made a pass at me, and after that, everyone left me alone.

We found a small table, and as I listened to the conversations around us, I learned that Hunters and Willard’s Green were two of the major topics people were discussing.

“How well known is this place?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Among humans, probably not at all, and I doubt the younger and less affluent of us have ever heard of it. The owner doesn’t encourage those who are not discreet.” And well heeled. Their idea of rail whisky was a twelve-year-old single malt.

“Do they allow smoking in here?” I asked.

She looked at me as though I’d lost my mind. “Of course not. Vampires don’t smoke. You’d never find an open flame in a vampire establishment. Even the grill at Manger is electric.”

The sound of breaking glass came from the back of the bar, and I smelled something burning. Jumping up, I ran toward the sound and found flames in the hallway leading to the restrooms. Pieces of a broken whiskey bottle lay on the floor, and the window in a door beyond that was broken, too.

I pulled energy from a ley line and pushed it at the fire, covering it, and smothering it. Behind me, in the bar, I heard pandemonium break out. Vampires always got panicky around fires.

Turning around, I almost ran over Shawna, who was standing behind me. Over her shoulder, I saw another fire break out near the front door. I pushed her aside, shielded myself, and made my way through the crowd. Once again, I managed to smother the fire before it spread past the foyer.

“I’ve got our coats,” Shawna said in my ear.

“Good. Stay behind me.” Someone was trying to torch the place, and I had my suspicions as to who. I stopped in the foyer and calmed myself, then pulled as much ley line magic as I could hold. Taking my coat from Shawna, I retrieved my dagger, the main gauche, and handed the coat back to her.

I pushed through the front door. A motion to my right caused me to look up and find a Hunter bringing his sword down at my head. With no time to dodge, I pushed all the energy I could into my shield. Instead of his sword bouncing, it stopped. Somehow I had trapped it in my shield. I saw panic in his face as he pulled on the sword, struggling to wrest it free.

I poured more energy into my shield, afraid to divert any power to another spell. Stepping toward him, I shoved the spell-forged dagger through his shield and into his chest. He let go of his sword and took a step back. I hurled a ley missile at him, and his shield dissolved.

So fast that she was a blur, Shawna stepped past me, grabbed the Hunter by the throat, and ripped out his windpipe. He staggered backward, horror in his eyes, vainly attempting to staunch the blood pouring from his throat. He fell, convulsed, and lay still.

“Is that the same guy we saw at Willard’s Green?” I asked her as she licked the blood off her fingers. I knew her eyes were much better than mine, especially at night.

“Nope, different asshole.” She craned her neck and looked around. “How much do you want to bet this is the guy who fried all those shifter kids?”

“You know he’s a mage, right?”

Shawna looked at her bloody hand, then at the Hunter. “Oh, yeah, shouldn’t do that.” She knelt down to wipe her hand on his cloak.

I pulled out my phone and called Cindy, who was just getting home and hoping to go to bed. She told me to stay where I was, which I expected.

A couple of trucks from the fire department roared up to the building about five minutes after the Hunter bit the dust, and Detective Sergeant Dan Bailey showed up about ten minutes later. The only people still on the scene were Shawna and I, the bar’s owner, and the bartender.

Bailey looked Shawna and me up and down two or three times. “What’s the occasion? I didn’t know the Academy Awards were tonight.”

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