Home > Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(9)

Dark Dancer (Rosie O'Grady's Paranormal Bar and Grill #3)(9)
Author: B.R. Kingsolver

She showed up about half an hour later and came up to my apartment.

“This is an improvement,” she said, looking around at my second-hand mismatched furniture and discount-store pictures on the walls. The last time she saw the apartment I didn’t have any furniture except a bed.

Frankie drove me to another mansion in another gated compound near where Viktor Nakhmanovich had lived. Once we passed through the gate, the road split. We took the left fork, while a sign that said ‘Golf Course’ had an arrow pointing to the right.

“No spouses or kids?” I asked as we wound our way past increasingly impressive homes.

“No. All of the victims were either divorced or widowed,” Frankie said. “I’m told this was a traditional Thanksgiving get-together. Catered meal with high-priced drinks and bubbly. Winslow’s staff were all given the evening off, and it appears his guests all came by limo.”

I had a very bad feeling. Fourteen bodies. That was the kind of bloodbath the Hunters’ Guild specialized in. Take out any potential witnesses. The chauffeurs all would have been dead before the assassin entered the house.

But even with the good luck to have that many targets congregate like that, it was chancy as hell for a single assassin to assume he or she could take them all out without anyone escaping. Especially if the targets were mages.

“Were all the chauffeurs and caterers norms?” I asked.

“One of the chauffeurs was a mage. Two were werewolves—combination chauffeurs and bodyguards. A lot of shifters from the North Bay Pack do that kind of work.”

The limos were all parked in the driveway in front of a six-car garage to the side of the house. Two men’s bodies lay surrounded by cigarette butts near a door to the house.

“The drivers were allowed in the kitchen,” Frankie said, gesturing at the door. “These two evidently stepped outside for a smoke.” It had been cold and windy the previous night, so I assumed they had gone back and forth frequently, based on the number of butts.

A cop handed me a pair of latex gloves, a filter mask, and paper shoe covers. I didn’t touch the bodies but leaned over them and visually inspected them. Both had their throats cut.

Frankie started to go inside, but I said, “I want to inspect the outside first.”

The front door had been locked, but no ward was set. The kitchen door didn’t have a ward either and was unlocked. The other three outside entrances had wards set to prevent any use, and the windows were warded as well. While I was checking that out, Blair came out of the house and followed me around, not saying anything but just watching.

“So, the kitchen door was the single way in and out?” I asked.

Blair nodded.

“What’s in the garage?”

He turned and looked at it. “Nothing exciting. There are four cars, and we know Winslow owned five. The other one could be in the shop, but we’ve put out a search on it.”

“What kind of car is missing?”

“A Lamborghini.”

That would be fun to drive. A great way to celebrate a successful assassination. “Have you checked inside and outside the compound for unfamiliar cars?” I asked.

“Outside?”

“Yeah. The killer didn’t walk all the way out here from town. If he didn’t come through the gate, then he would have parked somewhere and gone over the wall. And if he stole the Lamborghini, then his car might still be there.”

“I’ll start a search,” Blair said, and walked away to talk to a uniformed cop.

The kitchen was a mess. Tables and chairs were tumbled about and broken. A deck of cards was scattered across the floor. One man—I assumed he was the mage—had been thrown across the room with such force that he was embedded in a wall. One of the other men had tried to shift and had almost completed the change into his wolfman stage. He hadn’t completed the shift because his head had been separated from his body. The other shifter’s entrails spilled out from a sword wound that almost cut him in half. An automatic pistol lay next to one of his hands.

“Did he fire the pistol?” I asked.

“We think so,” Blair said as he came in from outside. “One, possibly two shots.”

He pointed to a bullet hole high on the wall above the outside door. Sloppy on the part of the assassin to let one of his targets get a shot off. Probably due to overconfidence.

“That means the people inside should have had some warning that something was going on,” I said.

Blair nodded. I followed him through a door into a small dining room. A woman wearing a short black jacket and black trousers lay face-down on the floor in a pool of blood. She had a long, deep cut across her back from her right collarbone to her left hip. It was immediately apparent why the cops thought the assassin used a sword.

We stepped around her body, and Blair led me through another door into a much larger formal dining room. Chaos, blood, and destruction. It looked as though a bomb had gone off. I thought back to the man embedded in the kitchen wall. Ley line magic like mine could have done that. A concentration of ley line power suddenly loosed in a room could approximate a bomb.

At least two more of the formally dressed bodies had obvious sword wounds, one being decapitated. But I counted only six bodies, with two men dressed the same as the woman in the previous room.

“Where are the others?” I asked.

Blair motioned to an open archway. I went through and found a large parlor. There was evidence that a number of energy bolts had been cast—holes in the walls, and furniture smashed to splinters. A man in formal dress who appeared to be in his fifties lay in the middle of the room. He had been holding a rapier when he was cut down. The wound started where his shoulder met his neck and cleaved him to mid-chest.

I looked through the door at the far side of the room and picked my way over the debris until I could see beyond. A man in the next room lay face down in a pool of blood.

“He took a knife in the back,” Blair said. “It looks like he was running and the knife was thrown, but the killer took it with him. It was a very large knife, as it hit him in the back and penetrated his chest.” I thought of the main gauche I carried in a sling under my left armpit inside my coat. The blade was eighteen inches long.

“Not killer but killers,” I said. “It took more than one person to do all this.” I turned to Frankie. “You said all the guests were mages?”

She nodded. “Fairly strong, too.”

“That means their shields had to have failed in some way. That usually doesn’t happen with a single attack.”

“I don’t understand,” Blair said.

“I mean it usually requires a sustained attack—multiple assaults—to break down a strong mage’s shield. The other thing is that Hunters’ swords are spell-forged, and the spells include a negate-magic spell, so they can cut through a weak shield.”

I turned back to face the horror in the dining room. “A single assassin wouldn’t have had time to kill all those people and catch up to these two who ran. Even an ancient vampire like Laurent isn’t fast enough to do all this by himself, and a vamp doesn’t have any magic. Had to be multiple assassins.”

“That’s not good,” Frankie said.

I wrinkled my nose at her. “That is the biggest understatement I’ve ever heard.”

It looked like Lizzy was right. Rudolf Heine had more on his mind than finding one girl. Even if he knew I was alive, this Hunter team had come to Westport with a different agenda. If he hoped to control the ley line intersection, I was willing to bet he didn’t know the Fae had got to Westport before him. Even as arrogant as the Illuminati leaders were, they wouldn’t mess with the Fae. The Fae would chew a force of Hunters up and spit them out before breakfast.

I made my way back out to the driveway. The stench of death inside was too much to deal with, even with the filter mask. Frankie followed me.

“So, what do you think?”

“Either a Hunter team or a team from the Knights Magica. They’re the only other group I know of that uses blades as a preferred weapon. At least two Hunters or Knights, more likely three. My bet is on Gavin Edmundson,” I told her. Her eyes widened in shock. “I suspected he was a Hunter. I know he’s Illuminati.”

“He left town yesterday,” she said.

“Are you sure? Easy enough to book a flight, go to the airport, then rent a car in another name, circle back, kill your targets, and fly out on a later flight using the pseudonym. Although I’m betting the Edmundson identity is the pseudonym.”

She studied my face, then said, “I’m not even going to ask how you can rattle off something like that so easily. Erin, he had credentials.”

I took a deep breath. “Sure, but did anyone check them out? Try to contact anyone at the Potomac Discussion Society? Anyone at all?”

Frankie blinked at me. I could see her mind working, trying to connect everything together.

“They’re all dead,” I said. “All of them. And most of the Illuminati are, too. Both sides lost. The Illuminati who survived are either trying to find a bolt hole or looking for a place to re-establish themselves. As for Westport, either someone here brought Edmundson in or he was sent by someone outside. It looks like a faction of the Illuminati want to establish themselves here, and the first thing they would do is get rid of any organized power that could oppose them. The Columbia Club is the local equivalent of the Potomac Society, right?”

She shook her head. We stood there for a couple of minutes, then she said, “How in the hell do you know all this?”

I sighed. I had trusted Sam with my big secret, and Frankie had always been kind to me. Hoping that she was more concerned with keeping the lid on things in Westport than prosecuting one young assassin, I looked her in the eyes and said, “I’m young and dumb and I didn’t do a very good job of finding a bolt hole. No resources. Then I stumbled into an assistant DA who’s too smart for her own damned good and knows more than she’s supposed to. You just keep picking away at me, asking questions I don’t want to hear. Yes, your suspicions are justified. I’m what you think I am. Does it make you happy to be right? I just hope we both survive this mess.”

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