Bloody Mary

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Chapter 4

Suddenly warm hands covered my cold ones. I blinked and the vision melted back into blurry reflections of the colorful advertisement signs for fancy beer-brands that The House of Mirrors didn’t serve.

“You okay?” The voice was as warm and gentle as the hands. I looked up, and once again found myself staring into a pair of amber-colored eyes. “You looked like you were going to faint.”

“He killed her…” The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them.

Dark brows knitted together. “Who?”

I clamped my mouth shut and tried to snatch my hands away from Michael’s, but he held them firmly, allowing his warmth to seep into my clammy fingers. “Nothing… it’s nothing. I’m fine.” I lowered my gaze not wanting him to see the anger in my eyes. Ray would be punished by my hands, not blind Lady Justice’s.

When I had myself under control again, I raised my eyes, meeting Michael’s gaze. The look of concern only made him more handsome. I was suddenly acutely aware of the fact that he hadn’t let go of my hands, and that my cheeks and ears were burning. Over three hundred years old, and I still couldn’t talk to a cute guy without blushing. I guess that’s what a Puritan upbringing does to you…

I reminded myself that I wasn’t that innocent, untouched little girl anymore. Far from it. Taking a deep breath, I managed to pull myself together enough that I could straighten and stand on my own. “It’s just the heat.” I managed a smile.

Michael must have seen how fake it was because he pushed the glass with coke and ice towards me. “Drink some.”

“I’m fine. Really” I added and tried my smile again.

“It wasn’t a suggestion.” Those gorgeous eyes met mine levelly. “Drink. Or I’ll haul you down to the station for…”

“Resisting a sugary beverage?” I asked, eyebrow arched. I don’t respond well to authorities, which was one of the things that had gotten me into trouble with Reverent Parr back in Salem.

A small smile played in the corner of his mouth, threatening to erupt and make those full lips curve upwards. “Just drink the damn coke, Mary.”

I rolled my eyes. “Fine”, I muttered. The ice clinked as I took the glass and raised it to my lips. The soda was sweet and sparkling and blessedly cold, and I couldn’t stop myself from closing my eyes and taking another gulp.

“So, want to tell me what happened?”

I shrugged, putting the glass down on its napkin. There was no way in hell I could tell him what I had seen, or what I was planning to do as soon as I got off my shift. Not without coming across as a homicidal crazy person, so I just shrugged again and said: “I just felt faint, that’s all.”

The look Michael gave me told me that he didn’t believe me but I was saved from further questions when Kiffany pushed a plate through the open hatch. “One Club Sandwich! Get it before the lettuce wilts!”

I gave Kiffany a grateful smile and she returned it with a wink before closing the hatch, signaling that the kitchen was shut down for the night. I grabbed the plate and turned back to Michael, placing the sandwich in front of him. “On the house”, I said with what I hoped was a charming smile. Anything to distract him from asking questions I really didn’t want to answer.

Either he wasn’t susceptible to my particular charm, or he was an even better detective than I had thought he was because it didn’t work. The look he gave me told me that he knew I knew something. I swallowed nervously and his gaze slid from my green eyes down my face, to my throat before returning to my eyes again.

Michael took a bite out of his sandwich and chewed slowly, his eyes still on me as I went back to my meaningless task of wiping the counter and putting away empty beer bottles. The club was all but empty now, and without the colored lights playing over the stage, the dancers and the punters watching them, the magic was gone. The House of Mirrors looked gaudy, worn and tattered; like an aging hooker with too much makeup, trying to pass for a decade younger than she was and failing.

“I think you saw something.”

The bottle I picked up slipped from my fingers, tipped over and rolled towards the edge of the counter only to be caught by Michael before it could roll over the edge and fall towards its death. “I-I don’t know what you mean”, I mumbled, accepting the beer bottle when he handed it to me. “Thanks.”

“I think you saw something looking into the countertop”, Michael repeated. “So, what did you see?”

Joy getting her head bashed in and her neck broken by a fucker who will pray for mercy before I’m through with him. Out loud I said: “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Detective.” That earned me another no-nonsense stare.

“My grandmother believed in what she called the Sight. She told me that people with it had visions, that they saw things and knew things no one else did. Grandma used to visit such a woman not far from here. She used a crystal bowl filled with water, but theoretically any reflective surface could be used.” He took another bite of the sandwich and I was treated to the sight of his tongue darting out to lick away a dab of mayo from his full bottom lip.

“So, you’re grandma is crazy enough to fall for some fraud’s bullshit”, I said with deliberate cruelty. “What the hell does that have to do with me? I told you I just felt a little dizzy.”

“Yeah, you did”, he agreed after having swallowed. “But we both know that that was a lie. I can sense when people are lying to me, you know”, he said, meeting my gaze again. “I know this must sound like a typical cop-cliché, but it’s the truth. I can always tell the lies from the truth, evil from good… like shadows lurking inside of people…”

I felt a cold chill run down my back. I put the bottle into the plastic bin with the others and started to back away. “My shift is over. I need to go. Enjoy your sandwich, Detective.” I had to get out of there. Now.

It wasn’t the first time I had heard a man claiming he could tell when someone was lying, when someone was evil. But it was the first time I believed it. Because I had that gift, or curse depending on how you saw it. And Michael Malak was telling the truth.

Ignoring Georgie’s acidic glare, I dropped the towel and fled the bar, all but running as I crossed the now empty club, slipping through the leather-clad door, letting it shut behind me, hiding me from those whiskey-colored eyes that threatened to look straight through my human mask and see the monster I really was.

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