Shadow Born (Shadows of Salem #1)(8)

by Jasmine Walt, Rebecca Hamilton

I got a flash of the outside of a hotel called The White Stag, and then another one of a girl beneath him, her cheeks flushed and her blonde hair spread across the snowy white sheets as she moved with him.

“Oh, Vance,” she moaned, arching her back. “Fuck me. Fuck me harder.”

Money left on the dresser had me thinking she wasn’t the first woman he’d brought to that hotel, and that she likely wouldn’t be the last.

Perfect.

The vision broke, and I snagged his wrist before he could get away. “Hey, Vance,” I purred, giving him my best seductive smile. “Remember me? From the White Stag?”

His eyebrows furrowed together as he came to a halt. After a long pause and an uneasy expression, he offered, “Natasha?”

“I knew you would remember me.” My smile widened as I curled my hand around his arm and pressed myself against him. Yeah, so I didn’t exactly look like I was dressed for the club, but that wasn’t going to stop me. “I’m here to meet a friend, but I got here late and I don’t want to make her wait an hour while I stand in this stupid line. Do you think you could be a doll and help me out?” I reached up and pressed my lips against his cheek.

“For you, anything.” His lips curled into a smile, but though the words oozed charm, they were perfunctory—something he said to all the girls, I’d bet.

Oh, well, I’d take it. I allowed him to lead me to the doors, and the way the Mountain Man moved aside for us without hesitation confirmed my suspicion that Vance, whoever he was, was a regular.

“Thanks, doll.” I disentangled myself from Vance, then disappeared into the crowd before he could say anything more. I might have been one in a long line of girls, but the hunger I’d glimpsed in his eyes told me he was willing to take me for a second ride.

Not that there had ever been a first, or that there ever would be, but he didn’t need to know that.

Once I was sure I’d lost Vance, I leaned up against a wall and looked around. The club was huge—a two-story affair with posh furniture, crystal chandeliers, and a dance floor packed with clubbers bumping and grinding to the music. The walls were mirrored, and my eyes narrowed as I noticed quite a few pale-skinned patrons who weren’t showing up in the reflections.

Vampires.

My heart skipped a beat, and I was suddenly very happy to feel the weight of my vampire gun pressing against my side. But as I continued scanning the room, I noticed the vamps weren’t the only odd things here. At first glance, everyone seemed human, but as I looked closer, I noticed some of these people were very off.

A woman wearing long evening dress with a high slit in the skirt lounged on an overstuffed couch with a long-haired man. Though the pair looked normal-enough, when I glanced at them out of the corner of my eye, I swore they had scaly golden skin.

Across the room from where I stood, a wiry man dressed in suspenders, slacks, and a tank top sipped from a wine glass as he glanced at me from beneath his fedora, and I had to fight against the urge to flinch as I met his neon-green, vertically pupiled eyes.

And then there was the matter of the trio of slender, diminutive girls that looked barely old enough to be legal, giggling and gliding through the room. Their sparkly dresses would have been enough to catch attention on their own, but every time they passed beneath the chandeliers, I caught glimpses of gossamer wings streaming from their delicate shoulder blades.

Excitement burst through my veins as I realized that I’d stumbled upon the exact place I’d set out for. The supernatural pulse of Salem. And now that I was here, I was seeing way more otherworldly stuff than my Uncle Oscar had ever let on existed back in Chicago. I always suspected there were more than just vampires out in the world somewhere, but this was my first visual confirmation, and I was eager to see more.

Down girl.

I schooled my expression into one of boredom. If I started looking around the place like a kid in the candy store, people would get suspicious. After all, I’d come in here with a regular, so they probably assumed I was either a supernatural or genned in with the community. If they discovered otherwise, I was going to be tossed out on my ass faster than I could say “Mountain Man.”

I ordered a dirty martini from the bar, then casually sipped at it while running my free hand across the bar top, railings, backs of couches, and any other surfaces I could touch without looking suspicious.

Normally I would have caught a flash of something, but the objects in this place were being particularly stubborn, the smooth, glassy surfaces telling me nothing. I’d come across this phenomenon before—the place had been “swept,” the memories cleared from the surfaces so that I couldn’t use my talent against them.

I’d always figured that sweeping was some kind of vampire talent, but considering the number of other supernaturals here, I wasn’t so sure now. Just how did it work, anyway? I’d thought that sweeping meant the memories were literally being swept away from the surface, but with the number of patrons frequenting this space, I was pretty sure that was impossible. Maybe the furniture was spelled to keep memories from imprinting on it, which was why I wasn’t getting any flashes. Or maybe there was something else about this that I just didn’t understand.

I snorted at that. There was a lot about the supernatural world that I didn’t understand, which was something I planned to remedy as quickly as possible. I might not be able to use my talent on the club itself, but I was reasonably sure it would still work on the people. And the thing about clubs was that you could brush against numerous bodies and no one would ever know you were secretly looking into their pasts.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flash of dark blond hair—Vox, heading up the wraparound staircase that led to the mezzanine.

I followed, giving him a little bit of a lead so that he didn’t notice me. I suppose I could have just grabbed him, but I didn’t want to cause a scene in a place like this. Besides, I was curious to see where he was headed.

The mezzanine was a kind of lounge-slash-gaming area, with several pool tables set up as well as two dart boards, all of which were in full use. Green lamps suspended from the ceiling shed soft light over round dark wooden tables, and at these sat patrons, sipping drinks and talking quietly.

I spotted Vance in a corner, his head bent low as he discussed something with a woman in a silver dress whose skin turned the color and texture of bark when I looked at her out of the corner of my eye.