Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(6)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(6)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

All of my friends were a few years older than I was, and they preferred bars downtown with a clientele that matched their ages, so it was a rather novel experience to be one of the older people wandering down the street.

I popped into a bar where a band was playing and got carded at the door. The five-dollar cover charge bought me a ticket for a free drink. A quick scan of the place showed me that most of the people were drinking beer. Very few cocktails. That meant the bartenders were probably more comfortable pulling taps than mixing anything complicated, and a perusal of the back bar revealed that their top-shelf liquor was barely above what Sam considered rail quality. I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer.

The band was pretty good, and a few people were dancing. After about half an hour, a guy asked me to dance, and once I showed that I was approachable, a couple of more young men also asked.

Then a man who was older than I was—probably late twenties—sat down beside me and struck up a conversation. It turned out he was a graduate student in archeology and had spent the past summer in South America.

I was enjoying the conversation and the fact that he spent most of his time looking at my face when I saw a group of guys coming in the door. Six young and young-looking vampires.

They didn’t pretend to order anything, but immediately started hitting on the prettiest girls.

“Excuse me,” I said to my companion and slid off the barstool. I pulled out my phone on my way toward the ladies’ room.

“Lieutenant Blair. What’s up, Erin?”

“I’m at the Nighthawk. It’s a bar near the university.”

“I’m familiar with it,” he said.

“Half a dozen young vamps just came in and are using persuasion on the girls to lure them outside for a party. Some of the girls’ boyfriends are not amused.”

“Crap. I’ll try and get some people up there.”

“The girl this vamp near me is talking to looks a lot like that niece of the mayor. I saw her picture on one of the local news sites. You know, the one who’s some kind of cheerleader or beauty queen?”

Blair’s response was not printable, then he hung up.

It took about five minutes for the first fight to break out. The vamp wasn’t too rough with the guy but ended things in about thirty seconds. The bouncers converged, and the vamp headed for the door, pulling the mayor’s niece by the arm. The other vamps quickly grabbed their chosen victims and followed.

Most of the girls didn’t protest, but that didn’t surprise me. The vamps didn’t have to have an ancient one’s persuasive powers to capture the attention of a twenty-one-year-old girl with a couple of beers in her.

As I followed them out the door, I passed the guy I had been talking to at the bar. I stopped for a moment, put my hand on his arm, smiled, and said, “I really enjoyed our conversation. Maybe I’ll see you again sometime.”

Without waiting for a response, I made for the door.

I knew I didn’t have to hurry. Unless the vamps picked up the girls and carried them, which would have attracted too much attention, they weren’t going to outrun me. Pulling energy from the ley line, I shielded myself and then routed the rest of the power to my hands and feet.

The fight had accelerated the vamps’ seductions, and at least three of them had stopped, two backing their prey into the doorways of shops that weren’t open, and the third dragging his girl into an alley. I approached the couple nearest to me and saw he had the girl pinned against the closed door, staring into her eyes and using persuasion to make her more compliant.

I walked up behind him and punched him in the small of the back, shattering his spine. Leaving him lying on the sidewalk for Blair’s people to find, I proceeded down the street to the next couple.

As I stepped close to that vamp, he turned and tried to backhand me. My shield stopped his fist. Vampires weren’t able to shield themselves, however, so I crushed his chest, then pulled his head down to meet my knee. The girl never said a word, just stared at me in a wild-eyed bewilderment.

By the time I reached the alley, the vamp with Miss Beauty Queen was coming back out, his arm around her shoulders. She leaned against him, her head resting against his chest.

“Hey, do you have the time?” I asked.

He turned his face toward me, and I caved it in. He staggered and fell. The girl also staggered, almost falling, then caught herself against the wall of the nearest building. She stared at the vamp lying at her feet in a pool of black blood. Up ahead, I saw the other three vamps crossing the street, dragging the girls with them toward the university.

I pulled out my phone and called Blair.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“They left the bar with six girls,” I said. “Headed west. Three of them are down on the street, but the others went onto the university campus.”

“I have people on the way. Mackle should be there in a couple of minutes.”

“Tell her to call me. I’m following those three.”

I didn’t wait for him to tell me not to. I put my phone in my coat pocket and crossed the street.

Although the sidewalks were lit by periodic light poles, trees and bushes created large islands of dark and shadow between the buildings. I caught sight of the vamps disappearing around the corner of a building about fifty yards in front of me and sprinted to catch up. Rounding the corner, I saw two of the couples. Off to my right, the rustling branches of a bush showed where someone had gone off the path.

Decision time. One of me and three of them. Chances were the other two couples would split up soon. Would the girl off in the bushes survive if I passed her by?

My phone buzzed and I pulled it out.

“Erin? Where are you?” Detective Cindy Mackle’s voice asked.

I glanced up at the building next to me. “In front of the Armstrong Building,” I said. “Do you know where that is?”

“Yeah. On my way.”

“They split up. Two of them are ahead of me going north. The other one has a girl in the bushes a few feet away from me.”

“Save the girl.” Cindy said.

No one in the Illuminati had ever called me a maverick or insubordinate. They told me what to do, and I did it. In my entire life, until three months before, it never occurred to me to question authority. Mackle spoke with authority, and I reacted the way I had been trained.

Rather than follow directly behind the vamp and his captive, I circled around the bushes and found them in a grove of small trees with a patch of grass and a couple of park benches. I imagined it would be a nice quiet place to read on a sunny day.

She lay on her back, eyes open, watching him, with a vacuous smile on her face. He had already raised her skirt, and ripped off her underwear, and was in the process of taking his trousers off.

I slid my dagger out from underneath my coat and leaped toward him, landing almost close enough to reach out and touch him. He twisted around, and I saw his eyes widen as the long knife cut into his neck. Black blood gushed from his throat as he fell. I pounced on him, bringing the weapon down to finish the job, and his head bounced away, coming to rest on the lawn a couple of feet from the girl’s outstretched hand. She smiled at it, blinked a couple of times, then let out an ear-piercing scream.

I jumped forward and kicked the head off into the trees, then quickly wiped my blade on the vamp’s pants. Sheathing the dagger, I reached down, grabbed the girl’s arm, and pulled her to her feet.

“Shhhh. There are more of them,” I whispered urgently into her ear. She shot me a terrified look but shut up. Dragging her along, I headed in the direction the other vamps had been going when I saw them last. I didn’t know what to do with her, but I certainly couldn’t leave her alone with a headless body.

I pulled her along with me as fast as she could stagger. She was barefoot, and I couldn’t remember if I had seen her shoes in the clearing.

We reached the end of the sidewalk where the vamps had been, and I looked left and right, trying to see something that might give me a clue of where they had gone. To the right would eventually lead back off campus, to the street with bars and people. I decided to go left.

We found the next couple on a narrow lawn between two buildings.

“Oh, my God,” my companion shrieked, alerting the vamp, who broke off what he was doing and raised up to his knees to look at us. He and I leaped toward each other, but he was hampered by his pants trapping his ankles. I drove my fist into his stomach, then kicked him in the knee, and he went down.

I heard something behind me and spun around to find that another vamp had grabbed the girl I was with from behind, one hand over her mouth and the other around her chest.

“I’ll break her neck,” he said.

We stared at each other for what seemed like a long time, then he stiffened, eyes wide, and his hands slid off her. She stumbled forward sobbing into my arms. The vamp fell to his knees, and then forward on his face. Behind him stood Detective Mackle with a crossbow pistol. It was only then that I saw the fletching of the bolt sticking out of the vamp’s back.

“Are there any more of them?” Mackle asked.

“I don’t know. Did you find the other girl?”

She shook her head while cocking the crossbow and laying another bolt in the bed. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of weeks, and she had a new green dye job. I liked it better than her orange hair but not as much as the teal.

I pulled the girl with me as I walked over and looked at the crossbow. The bolt seemed longer than normal for a pistol.

“That a custom job?” I asked.

“Yeah. The bolts are custom, too. Wood. Metal or plastic wouldn’t slow down a vamp, even if you hit him in the heart.”

“There were six vamps and six girls when they left the bar,” I said. “I caught up with three of them on the street.”

Mackle nodded. “We found them, and the girls are safe.” She walked past me and knelt down to check on the girl lying on the ground.

“Is she…is she…” the girl I was holding tried to ask through her sobs, but hiccups kept interrupting her.

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