Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(7)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(7)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

“She’s alive,” Mackle said, standing so as to block the girl’s view of her friend. She pulled her phone out and talked into it. A few minutes later, three cops showed up. I handed my charge off to one of the officers, then Mackle and I walked away.

“Do you think the one I plugged was with them, or is he number seven?” she asked.

“I don’t know. The bar was kind of dark, and I didn’t get a good look at all their faces,” I replied.

We split up and started searching for the last girl. I was exploring an area near a small pond when my phone rang.

“I found her,” Mackle’s voice said. “I’m less than fifty feet from where we split up.”

The vamp had been in the process of feeding on the girl when he must have heard the sounds of my confrontation with his friend. He had abandoned his victim in an alley.

“She’ll live,” Mackle said as I approached. I saw that the girl still had her leggings on.

A couple of more cops showed up soon after, and Mackle and I walked back toward the edge of the campus.

“We’ve had a lot of this sort of thing happening in this area,” Mackle said. “You might have noticed we have a lot of cops out, but we can’t cover everything. What were you doing here?”

“Having a drink and a pleasant conversation with an archeologist,” I said.

“Interested in exploring your hidden treasures, no doubt.”

I grinned. “It might have been an enjoyable expedition, if it got that far. He was nice. Cindy, have the other attacks been like this?”

“Pretty much. Lure the girls away, feed on them, and sometimes rape them as well, but no deaths so far. You might have cleaned up a big part of the problem tonight. There was one other incident a couple of weeks ago when they took six girls, but mostly it’s been between one and three at a time.”

“Always girls?”


“We have all the luck, don’t we?”

She shook her head. “Not all. The problem is just as bad at a couple of gay bars downtown.”

“So, female vamps never get hungry?”

“I think their victims just don’t complain.”

Most of the buildings we walked by were dark, but then we came upon several tall towers that had lights in a lot of the windows and people going in and out.

“What are these buildings?” I asked.

“Dormitories,” Cindy replied. “Student housing. From mid-December until after New Year these will be dark.”

A couple came out of the nearest building with their arms around each other. I stopped and watched as they kissed, then got in a car and drove off. The girl was very young.

“Isn’t that one of your buddies from Rosie’s?” Cindy asked. “Trevor? The guy with the Lost and Found group?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“He sure likes them young, doesn’t he? She couldn’t even get into a bar.” She glanced at her watch. “No need to guess where they’re going this time of night.”

My watch showed twelve-thirty.

“Late night snack?” I asked.

Cindy snorted. “That’s a rather sexist thing to say about a young woman, but yeah. They don’t let male visitors stay the night in the dorms.”

“B-b-but, that’s not what I meant,” I sputtered.

She laughed. “I know, but I think my interpretation is more accurate.”

Chapter 6

Midnight was not the time I expected to see Jordan Blair and Frankie Jones walking into Rosie’s. They both looked tired and not particularly happy.

“Late night out partying?” I asked, trying to be cheerful.

Blair glowered at me.

Frankie heaved a sigh. “Give me an Irish coffee.”

“Make that two,” Blair said. “And make it a strong one.”

“Tell me about this,” Frankie said, pushing something across the bar.

I suddenly knew what a rabbit caught in a pair of headlights felt like. The circular brooch was about an inch and a half across and made out of gold. It was a representation of Yggdrasil, the mythical Norse-German tree of the world, with a triangle enclosing an eye overlaying the trunk. The symbol of the Hunters’ Guild. The pin was bent, and a scrap of black fabric clung to it.

I raised my eyes and found Frankie staring at my face, waiting.

“It’s the mark of a Hunter,” I said.

“And how do you—” Blair started, but Frankie cut him off.

“That’s not important, Jordan,” Frankie said. “Erin, we have a crime scene I’d like you to see.”

“Why? I don’t have any training in forensics or investigating crimes.”

They exchanged a look, then Frankie sighed and said, “Detective Bailey is our best mage, but he’s not as strong as you are. Especially in pure magic. He thinks it’s a magic kill but can’t tell us how it was done. The victim had that clasped in his hand.”

“I can’t just walk out of here,” I said. “Jill won’t be in to relieve me for a couple of hours. I can go with you then.” Sam had gone home, and I wasn’t about to call him. Besides, the last thing I wanted to do was go see a murder victim, especially one involving a Hunter.

After a short discussion between them, Frankie finished off her drink and left, but Blair hung around until Jill came in to take over.

We drove across the river to one of the old wealthy enclaves north of downtown. On the way, Blair briefed me on their case.

“A man named Viktor Nakhmanovich, CEO of Westport Seafoods, was murdered earlier this evening. He was a mage and a member of the Columbia Club. We found that brooch clutched in his hand.”

He glanced over at me, obviously expecting a response.

“The Hunter who killed Lord Carleton wore one of those pins,” I said. “It’s pure gold.”

“We didn’t find anything like that on his body, and the fire shouldn’t have destroyed it,” Blair said.

I sighed. “I took it, figuring that I could pawn it if I needed bus money out of town.”

Blair searched my face, but I could have passed a lie detector test on that statement. He gave me a quick nod and didn’t ask any more questions.

We drove through the gate of a private enclave where a uniformed cop kept a security guard company, and Blair held out his ID. The streets twisted and turned without a straight line or a sharp corner anywhere, and it seemed like every couple of blocks we passed a small park. The houses were mansions, all on what I judged to be one-acre lots, with immaculate lawns and gardens.

It was easy to tell when we reached our destination. Cop cars, an ambulance, lots of yellow crime-scene tape. We parked down the block, and Blair’s ID got us through into the house. A cop at the door handed us shoe covers and latex gloves.

The foyer and first couple of rooms we walked through looked normal. Understatedly opulent, to be sure, but nothing to indicate a crime had occurred. Then we came to a door that had been blown off its hinges. No sign of explosives or fire, just a door reduced to splinters.

The room beyond looked like an elephant had been turned loose in the place. The room was in shambles, with broken furniture and shelves, plus three large holes in the walls.

Blair led me through the largest hole into what had been a study or an office. The destruction there was just as bad. A bookcase that reached the ceiling had been ripped out of place and flung across the room, revealing another room beyond as well as a flight of stairs going down.

“There’s a tunnel from the basement to the garage,” Blair said. “But nothing indicates anyone went down there.”

We continued into the next room, where a man, who looked about fifty, dressed in a polo shirt and khakis, sat against a wall, his arms hanging by his sides and his legs spread apart. His eyes were wide open, which contributed to the shocked expression on his face.

Frankie and Detective Sergeant Bailey awaited us, and their expressions didn’t radiate any cheer either.

“We can’t find any marks on him,” Frankie said. “Dan scanned him and doesn’t think there are any obvious internal injuries, such as broken bones.”

I assumed Dan was Sergeant Bailey. I had never caught his first name. I pulled magic from the ley line and placed my hand on the dead man’s chest.

“His heart stopped,” I said.

Bailey snorted.

I shrugged. “Sorry to be so obvious, but that’s what happened. It was caused by magic, but I can’t tell you what kind of spell or magic it was. The residual magic in this place is almost suffocating.”

“Could you do that?” Blair asked.

“Yeah, sure. I’d have to catch someone off guard so they didn’t shield or block me. But I would guess,” I gestured to the total chaos around us, “that his shields finally gave out. Must have been one hell of a fight.” I shook my head. If he was fighting a Hunter, Nakhmanovich must have been one hell of a mage. He held his own for quite a while. “You found the brooch in his hand?”

“Yeah,” Bailey said.

“He got inside his murderer’s shield but didn’t have the strength to win.” I stood up and took a look at Nakhmanovich’s clothing as well as the bottoms of his shoes. No scorch marks that I could see.

“Probably not an electrokinetic. Possibly an aeromancer. The autopsy would show signs of electrocution or suffocation. A healer could definitely do it, but I think a healer would have to physically touch him. I wouldn’t look for a witch, though. They normally don’t wield the kind of power that would cause this kind of damage.”

Blair looked at Bailey. “Dan?”

“What she says makes sense. Yeah, I could stop someone’s heart. So could Frankie. I just didn’t think about killing someone that way.”

I raised an eyebrow. “A lack of imagination in a homicide detective? You need to read more crime novels. Expand your horizons.”

His face turned a little pink, and he chuckled. “Yeah, I’ll put that on my to-do list, along with getting enough sleep.”

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