Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(8)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(8)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

“What you need is a necromancer,” I said.

Blair’s head snapped around so hard I was afraid he might have sprained something.

“A what?”

I couldn’t resist. “You know, one of those guys who reanimates the dead. A zombie lord.”

Frankie and Bailey cracked up, and Blair realized I was pulling his leg.

“Very funny,” Blair said, “but not very useful.”

Frankie sobered up and said, “Actually, she’s right. Not about the zombie thing, but a real necromancer is a witch who can cast psychometryspells.”

Blair shook his head. “And now I know absolutely zero more than I did before.”

“It’s a form of postcognition that can retrieve information about events that already occurred. Sometimes, by being in close contact with the area or object where an event took place, some witches can read strong magical and psychic residuals and tell what happened,” Frankie said.

“Why didn’t you just say it’s a hocus-pocus reenactment?” Blair asked.

“Okay, it’s a hocus-pocus reenactment,” Frankie said. “The problem is, I don’t know of any necromancers operating in the Westport area.”

“Have you asked Jolene Carpenter if she can do it?” I asked. “But even better, is there a CCTV system?”

“Yes, but our techs are going to have to piece it back together,” Frankie said. “The murderer must have seen the cameras, because he found the closet the system was in and smashed it.”

On our way out to Blair’s car, I saw a well-dressed woman who looked to be in her late forties or early fifties sitting on a bench in a gazebo in the garden. She had a stunned expression on her face and just stared into space.

“Who found him?” I asked.

Blair nodded toward the woman in the gazebo. “His wife. She was at their daughter’s house and found him when she came home.”

I was used to nightmares. The faces of people I had killed swam up out of my subconscious and tormented me at night. The face of Master Benedict showed up a lot, a product of my imagination, since I hadn’t been there when he died. But I imagined his astonishment, his horror, when Strickland’s crystal consumed him and everything he held dear.

The night Nakhmanovich died, I dreamed of Strickland’s daughter. She was young, fourteen or maybe fifteen at the oldest, and had just come into her power. She appeared in my dream with her red hair blowing in a non-existent breeze, her green eyes almost glowing, the smile on her face malevolent. She spoke to me.

Now you know how it feels, to know a Hunter is coming to kill you, and you can’t do a damned thing about it.

I bolted from my bed drenched in sweat and discovered the person screaming was me.

Three days later, the president of a local bank and his wife died in an automobile accident. They were on their way home from dinner with friends at a fancy restaurant downtown when their car went off the road, down an embankment, and slammed into some trees. No witnesses. He was on my list of Columbia Club members, but not one of those Michaela identified as being part of the bounty conspiracy.

I knew from my past that such a scenario was a favorite assassination method of aeromancers. An accident, with no way to prove any outside intervention. Of course, I could have done the same thing by pushing ley line magic at the car.

My training taught me to worry about coincidences. Including the Illuminati members of the Club, eight of its members had died in less than three months. Statistically, that seemed too many, considering that all of them were mages.

There were also rumors that several vampires had been found downtown with their heads cut off. The cops and the Columbia Club had clamped down on bounty hunting the previous month, and I hadn’t heard any reports of that sort of thing since. Taken all together, it seemed that a new wave of violence was engulfing Westport immediately following Gavin Edmundson’s arrival in town.

The nightmares got worse. I started hanging around Rosie’s after my shift, sometimes drinking a little too much. I got home exhausted, but for some reason, sleeping in the daytime seemed to hold the dreams at bay.

Every year, Sam chose a theme for the New Year’s Eve bash, and a week before Thanksgiving, he had posters pinned up everywhere, including the restrooms, to promote the event. The theme he came up with was “Party Like It’s 1133,” which was the year before Pope Lucius III established the first Inquisition.

For the staff, Sam provided pictures of some medieval costumes from that period. We weren’t required to come in costume, but his attitude conveyed that it was highly encouraged. He said he would pay up to a hundred dollars to help with our costumes if we gave him the receipts.

It never occurred to me to go online and search for a costume, and I didn’t need his pictures to know what period dress looked like. Mages live a long time, and formal dress in the City of the Illuminati hadn’t changed much from the Order’s founding in 1308. I trudged down to a fabric store and bought several yards of unbleached linen, several yards of dark-green velvet, and some white lace. New needles, pins, thread, shears, and a couple of yards of white-and-yellow embroidered trim finished my purchases. Then I resigned myself to spending every spare minute until New Year sewing.

Sam raised his eyebrows when I handed him my receipts but gave me a hundred dollars without saying anything. I wasn’t sure what that meant.

Deciding that since I had no plans for extended debauchery that would expose my undergarments, I didn’t bother to do anything fancy with the chemise and didn’t even put sleeves on it. It didn’t take long until I had the chemise finished and was working on the bliaut—the overdress—when the phone rang.

“Hi, we’re downstairs,” Jolene said when I answered. “Buzz us in.”

I dutifully did as she requested, opened my apartment door, then went back to hemming the neckline. Jolene and Lizzy walked in a couple of minutes later.

“Hey, hermit. Except at the bar, we haven’t seen you in days. Come on,” Jolene said, “we’ll buy you lunch.” She came over to where I was sitting and stood there. “What are you doing?”

“Making my gown for New Year.”

“You’re sewing it? From scratch? By hand?”

I raised my eyes to look at her. “You know a store that sells something like this? Gods, it would cost a fortune. The fabric alone took all of the money Sam gave me for my costume. And I don’t have a sewing machine.”

Lizzy walked into the kitchen and surveyed the table I was using to lay out and cut the fabric, then came over and looked around. The chemise was draped over the back of the couch, with the trim lying beside it. She picked up the bottom hem of the dress and inspected the stiches.

“You could make money doing this,” she said.

“Yeah, and you could probably teach math to grade-school kids,” I retorted. “I hate doing this shit.”

“Then why are you doing it?” Jolene fingered the velvet. “It’s not mandatory, you know. I found a Renaissance Fair costume online for a hundred thirty bucks. It’s muslin; just a serving wench costume. This is fit for royalty.”

“What’s a Renaissance Fair?” I asked.

“I think we should just go to lunch,” Lizzy said. “Come on, give your eyes a rest.”

I certainly wasn’t getting anything done with them standing over me, asking me questions. I put everything down, got my coat and my keys, and followed them out the door. Jolene walked ahead while Lizzy waited for me to lock the door and set my wards.

“You’ve made such dresses before,” Lizzy said as we walked down the hall. “Are you doing the whole super-long sleeve thing? What do you call that style of overdress?”

Sometimes Lizzy’s mind worked so fast it was hard to keep up with her questions. “A bliaut. No, I’m not doing the trumpet sleeves because I’m wearing it for work. Yes, I’ve made dresses like it a few times before. How did you know?”

“You aren’t using a pattern. Is that how the Illuminati dressed at home?”

“They were sort of stuck in the fourteenth century for what they considered formal wear. I didn’t dress that way every day, though. I figured fourteenth century was close enough to the beginning of the twelfth century for this party. Thank the gods Sam didn’t decide to do the High Renaissance. Sewing those dresses would be a nightmare.”

I didn’t ask what kind of costume Lizzy planned to wear. I assumed she would just create a glamour like she had on Samhain, and I was completely, unashamedly jealous.

They took me to a place up in the foothills with a view of the city and the coast. It was pretty, and I thought about how nice it would be to have a car and be able to explore the area.

Chapter 7

Someone downstairs was pushing the buzzer. I ignored it, it stopped, and I drifted back to sleep. Then my phone rang. Through bleary eyes, I saw that it was Lieutenant Blair. It was still dark, and I also saw that it was only two hours since I’d gone to bed. I shut the phone off.

My next cognizant moment was four hours later. I put a pot of coffee on and checked the phone. There were messages from Blair and Frankie asking me to call them.

After two cups of coffee, along with pancakes, an egg, and a sausage, I felt human enough to talk to someone. I called Frankie, figuring she would be more sympathetic.

“Erin, are you free today?” she asked as soon as she answered the phone.

“Yeah. I don’t work tonight. What’s going on?”

Frankie’s voice sounded a little shaky. “A massacre. Half a dozen members of the Columbia Club had a private Thanksgiving dinner party at Ronald Winslow’s house last night. We got a call from a hysterical caterer this morning. When we got there, we found six dead mages, along with three members of the caterer’s staff. We also have five dead chauffeurs from the five limos parked outside.” She sighed. “It looks like many of them were killed with a sword or some other sharp object.”

“I’ll get dressed,” I said.

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