Shadow Born (Shadows of Salem #1)(9)

by Jasmine Walt, Rebecca Hamilton

Despite the pool tables and dart boards, I had a feeling this section of the club was where supernaturals came to talk business. But as much as I wanted to strain my ears and listen to their conversations, I couldn’t, because Vox was continuing down a shadowed corridor.

Casting one last glance at the tables, I hurried after Vox. The dance music receded as I headed deeper into the dark hall with velvet tufted walls the color of wine. The whole place was a bit much, but I guess it was standard for a fancy club.

Vox had already disappeared, presumably through one of the many brass doors lining the walls. Rather than try each one, I headed for the one that was cracked open and spilling soft light into the hall that was otherwise only illuminated by the faintly lit wall sconces.

“I see,” a deep, Scottish voice said as I peered in through the crack.

I could make out the silhouette of Vox bowing before a man seated behind a grand mahogany desk. The man wore a dark suit with a blood-red tie, and judging by the breadth of his shoulders, I didn’t think he was small. Thick, inky hair framed his face, and while the angle and the lack of light made it hard to get more specific details, I got the impression of aristocratic and handsome features.

“And so you’ve come to beg another boon of me?” the man continued.

“Please, Lord Tremaine.” Vox seemed to bow even lower. A visible tremor went through his spine, something I found interesting because he didn’t seem like the type of man to cower. Whoever this “Lord Tremaine” was, he was powerful. “It’s my only hope.”

I leaned in a little closer, pushing the crack infinitesimally wider so that I could try to hear more. But just as Tremaine opened his mouth to speak again, a vice-like grip clamped around my arm and yanked me away.

“Hey!” I yelped as my assailant swung me around. I reached for my badge instinctively, then swallowed hard at the sight of another Mountain Man. This one had white hair cropped close to his skull and eerie eyes the color of winter frost. There was something ancient and alien in those eyes that sent a shiver crawling up my spine.

“We don’t take kindly to eavesdroppers,” the Mountain Man growled as he spun me around. He secured my wrists behind my back with a zip-tie, then grabbed them with one hand while clamping down on my shoulder with his other hand.

“Let me go!” I stomped on his foot, hoping to dislodge his grip. Unfortunately, my attack was about as effective as, well, stomping on a mountain, and only resulted in a bolt of pain shooting up my ankle.

“Not a chance. You’re coming with me, and if you even think about screaming, I’ll cut your tongue out and feed it to the selkies.”

CHAPTER 5

I kept my mouth shut and gritted my teeth as the security guard perp-walked me to the end of the hall as if I was the fucking criminal. The audacity of it set my teeth on edge, but even if I didn’t believe his threat to cut out my tongue, I doubted that saying anything would do any good in a place like this. In fact, it might just draw a couple of vampires up here, and that was the last thing I wanted to deal with.

As we came to a stop, the guard released my shoulder, then used his free hand to wrench open a door to my left. He confiscated my glock, then shoved me unceremoniously into the room and slammed the door behind me.

I twisted to the side, saving myself from the oncoming face-plant and smashing my shoulder into the cement floor instead. Pain radiated through my body, and I grunted, shoving myself up onto my knees just as the door bolt slid home with a loud click.

Fuck.

I glanced around, trying to determine if there was any means of escape, or at least a weapon I could use to free my wrists or defend myself. But the room was completely empty and devoid of windows. All I had was a lone caged lightbulb flickering overhead. I was in a concrete cage, and with my hands tied behind my back, I couldn’t even reach for my cellphone to call for help or grab for the vampire gun pressing unhelpfully up against my rib cage.

My heartbeat ratcheted up, and I had to take deep breaths to calm myself. Think, Brooke, think. I had to keep my mind occupied, or I was going to lose it in here. What new information could I glean from my latest predicament?

The empty room was one thing, I mused, glancing around the space. Aside from the overhead light, there wasn’t a single thing in the space. And from my experience, businesses rarely had empty rooms in their buildings. A good business used every inch of available space as efficiently as possible, so if this room was being kept empty, it was for a reason.

With the thick cement walls and reinforced door, I was beginning to suspect that this was exactly that reason: a holding cell for people like me who they caught snooping around where they shouldn’t be.

What the hell kind of club needs a holding cell, though? Then again, this kind of club catered to a unique clientele. I could all too easily see security needing a place to temporarily hold a supernatural that got too out of control or broke the club rules in some way. I mean, the logical thing to do would be to toss them out on their asses, but maybe there were circumstances where that would be unwise.

Speaking of supernaturals, the guard had threatened to feed my tongue to a selkie. Did that mean selkies were a thing, or was that some kind of joke? After what I’d seen tonight, it wouldn’t surprise me if selkies did exist.

I was dying to know what kinds of supernaturals did exist. I’d tried to learn when I was younger. As a teen, I’d picked up a dusty tome in a thrift store once about mythical beasts and took it home to study, but Uncle Oscar burned it the second he caught wind of it. Of course, I’d gotten to glimpse a couple of the pages inside first, and they spoke of shapeshifters and witches and elementals and all sorts of things—but that was just a book.

Right?

And nothing in that book that I’d gotten around to reading had spoken of large men with limbs as hard as rock. What kind of supernatural were the security guards here? If World of Warcraft could be considered a source for supernatural creatures, their hulking forms and eerie eyes would indicate they were giants or orcs or trolls.

But that was video game, and this was the world I lived in. I needed a way to separate fantasy from reality. A way to know just as much as the creatures who frequented this club knew. Somehow, I had a feeling I couldn’t just up and ask the security guards when they came back.

If they came back…

Focus, Brooke. You’re trying not to die.

Right. The reason I was in this whole mess in the first place was because they’d caught me snooping around. Of course they weren’t going to take kindly to my questions. If I wanted answers, I was going to have to survive this place.