Dance Hall Disaster


Dance Hall Disaster

The Kensington Shaw Adventures #1


Arietta Charles



     Kensington Shaw made her way off the dance floor and deposited her partner near concession. He was thirsty. She was not. His hands wandered. She had slapped him hard across the face but he hadn’t appeared to mind. The dance hall was loud and crowded and it was just what she needed after an afternoon spent at one of her sister’s stuffy garden parties. Literally. A garden party that had been held in a stuffy, warm winter garden since it was November in Chicago. What she hadn’t needed was obnoxious company.
She had fully intended to seek out another dance partner but one found her first. Fredrick Stoddard was the son of a man that made door hinges. If she still cared what society thought of her she would never have danced with him. His family was wealthy but they were merchants and where Kensi came from you still didn’t associate with merchants. In the eyes of society Fredrick was beneath her. Kensi abhorred irrelevant rules.
     “Would you care to dance Miss. Shaw?” Fredrick asked extending his hand.
     “I would love to,” she said. Kensi had always been charmed by Fredrick and was now grateful for his gallant rescue.
     “How is your father? I haven’t seen him in a while,” Fredrick asked.
     “He’s well. He has a new cook so he eats at home more,” Kensi said.
     “Perhaps I could stop by sometime and see you both?”
     “I no longer live at home,” Kensi said.
     “You didn’t get married did you? I would have heard. It would have been the talk all over the city.”
     “No. I bought a house. I wanted to be independent. Gabby’s husband is in India on business and she’s staying with father. It sounds as if it will be an extended stay. And by that I mean I don’t believe she will ever leave. She has repapered the dining room.” Kensi smiled at Fredrick. He knew Gabby well from all the times she had shooed the both of them away when they were children. And the number of times she had told their father that she and Fredrick were friends.
     “Would you mind if I visited you then? Perhaps I could take you to dinner?” Fredrick asked.
     “Mr. Stoddard is that your way of asking me on a date?” Kensi asked teasing him.
     “Yes. Definitely.”
     “Then yes; I would love too,” Kensi said smiling. The night had taken an unexpected turn.
     “Would Friday at four suit you? We could take a walk in the park, have an early dinner and go to the pictures.”
     “That sounds wonderful, I love the pictures,” said Kensi smiling.
     Fredrick Stoddard had a reputation for being kind and noble. He wasn’t a fast talker or a smooth operator. He was that rare thing. A good man. She decided that she would dance with him all night if he asked her to. She would dance with any man who treated her as an equal as Fredrick always had.
     Fredrick was an excellent dancer. He was graceful and when he smiled at her she seriously began to reconsider her stance on marriage. The first song they danced to was slow and Kensi had the chance to complement his skill on the dance floor. With the second song the tempo picked up and Fredrick went down. He hit the floor so quickly that Kensi wasn’t sure what had happened. Her head felt like it had been filled with sand and she was sure someone was screaming. She knelt down beside him and said his name. When he didn’t respond she felt for a pulse at his neck. Nothing. She stood up and looked around to see the entire dance hall in chaos. People were screaming and fleeing. Fredrick wasn’t the only body on the dance floor. There were half a dozen in total.
     Kensi knelt back down next to Fredrick and felt for a pulse again. One spontaneous death she could see but six? There was more to the story. Kensi was certain of it. She checked Fredrick over carefully. The only thing out of place was some discoloring on his index finger and thumb. She took a long slow breath. She had seen something like it before but this was far worse. Dal had been the cause then and she feared that Dal was the cause now. Dal was an addictive drug found in the darkest corners of the Underground. To supernatural beings such as witches it created an unbelievable high. To mortal humans the high was ten times higher and more often than not eventually killed the user. It was created when magic was used. The air around magic gets infused with particles and if someone harnesses those particles they can collect them. Instantly you have magical dust better known as Dal.
     She knew the police would burst through the door in moments. If she was going to help Fredrick she needed to find out what actually happened to him. She couldn’t believe that he would willingly take Dal. He wouldn’t know where to get it. Part of Fredrick’s charm was that he was ordinary by supernatural standards. Ordinary humans didn’t even know about the Underground let alone how to gain entry to it. She had a very bad feeling that things were going to get worse for poor Fredrick.
     The police would believe this to be a case of poisoning. Magic of any kind was an extravagance that could only be bought by the extremely wealthy. The police wouldn’t think of magic. It was still mostly hidden and people didn’t talk about it. Kensi knew better. This had magic stamped all over it. She needed to get to the other victims before the police. If she found similar deep blue marks on the other fallen dancers she would have a place to start looking for a culprit or a cure.
     She practically had the room to herself as everyone had run off. She knew she only had minutes. She went to the body closest to Fredrick. The body belonged to a girl that Kensi had gone to school with. She hadn’t talked to Myra Daniels since they were fifteen and Kensi left school but she had seen her out dancing before. Myra had been jealous of Kensi. Kensi didn’t fully understand at the time that not everyone received special admittance to college so young. There was also the fact that she was a girl. Myra was cold to the touch, had the same discoloring on two fingers, and that was all Kensi was able to surmise due to the fact that the police were arriving.
     A police officer walked in first and was so taken aback by the scene that Kensi had three seconds to get back to Fredrick. She bent over Fredrick taking his hand. He was cold as well. It didn’t make any sense. A body didn’t cool that quickly. Not by ordinary means at any rate.
     “Miss please don’t touch the body. The detective will be here soon and he won’t like it if you disturb the scene,” the officer said as she stood.
     Kensi walked over to him and extended her hand. She had watched her father do it often enough. It was more diplomatic than what she wanted to do which was belt him. That scene consisted of her former friend and the boy that had just asked her out on a date.
     “Kensington Shaw,” she said with an appropriately sad smile. “Fredrick was my dance partner until he fell to the ground. I have no idea what happened.”
     “It’s a pleasure Miss Shaw. I’m Phil-Phillip- I mean officer Stamp.” He shook her hand and motioned to the door. “There is the detective Miss. Shaw.” He led her to the door. “This is senior detective Nathaniel Kane. Detective, this is Miss Kensington Shaw. She was the dance partner of one of the victims.”
     “Stamp, please show Miss Shaw into the hall with the rest of the dancers,” the detective said and walked off with out any greeting of any kind to Kensi. He hadn’t even looked at her. That simply wasn’t done in this town. Especially by someone who could only be five or six years older than her.
     Stamp ushered Kensi into the hallway and left her among the shocked dancers and his profuse apologies. She stood where she could see into the room and keep an eye on detective Kane. He couldn’t possibly understand that what she suspected was true. There had to be something they could do. She wouldn’t believe they were dead. They were too cold to be dead. She hoped there was something Betty could do. Kensi didn’t get the chance to ponder the matter further. Ruby Dixon and Mabel Stills rushed up to her and began chattering nonstop.
     “I hope that handsome detective interviews me,” Mable said.
     “He isn’t just handsome he’s dashing. He belongs in the pictures,” Ruby said.
     “You are so old fashioned Ruby,” Mable sighed.
     Kensi wanted to stuff rags into her ears and light them on fire.
     “Mary Dunning dropped to the floor right in front of me. Leo swung me around and there she was falling to the floor. It was so awful,” Ruby said.
     “You have to tell him the story,” Mable said.
     “Do you think he’ll want to hear it?” Ruby asked.
     “Why don’t you tell me exactly what happened?” Kensi asked.
     “I just did. That’s what I saw,” Ruby said.
     “Did you see Mary earlier today? Did you run into her anywhere perhaps at the beauty parlor or at the drug store?” Kensi asked the question already knowing the answer.
     “Now that you mention it I did see her walking on Madison. I was picking up my dress for tonight. I’ve lost a few pounds so I had to have it taken in you see. Mary was coming out of a door.” Ruby said.
     “Do you remember what shop?” Kensington asked.
     “Now that you mention it I don’t recall seeing a name. It was just a door in between two shops,” Ruby said with furrowed brows or as furrowed as brows could be when they were drawn on.
     “Do you remember the names of the businesses around the door?” Kensi asked. Trying to get answers from Ruby was like trying to get a poodle to explain the laws of physics.
     “One of them was Richardson’s shoe repair. Uncle Salvatore used to take his shoes there, God rest his soul,” Ruby said putting a hand to her heart and bowing her head.
     “Do you remember anything else?” Kensi asked.
     Mable and Ruby nodded that they didn’t and Kensi turned her gaze to the detective who now carried his hat in one hand and had his overcoat laid carefully over the same arm. He was checking Fredrick’s pockets with the other gloved hand. He looked from one body to the next studying each carefully as he went. Kensi would never admit it to another living soul but the detective was dashing if you didn’t take his personality in to account. It was a shame since Kensi considered personality everything. There was also his questionable decision to wear a raven’s feather in his lapel. Why?
     “Have either of you seen Fredrick around town?” Kensi asked.
     Both girls shook their heads.
     “I haven’t seen Fredrick anywhere but here,” said Mable eying officer Stamp the same way Ruby was eying detective Kane.
     “You shouldn’t stare so hard your brain will burst,” said Kensi.
     “We all have to do what we can to get ahead. Not everyone is in your position Kensington. The rest of us need husbands because our families can’t afford to keep us as spinsters,” Mable sent Kensi a glare that would have had a lesser woman taking a step back. Kensi had never taken a step back in her life and she certainly wasn’t going to start then.
     “I’m not a spinster Mable. I’m a nineteen year old independent woman who won’t be told what to do and when to do it by anyone. My family may have money but don’t you dare assume that I use it to lock myself away. You don’t actually know me. You know me to see me in the street or at a dance but don’t think that you know me.” Kensi walked away from an open mouthed Mable and Ruby.
     They would have been further shocked to learn that she made a fine living all on her own. The money that her father gave her each month was given to a soup kitchen, an orphanage, four churches, and the policeman’s widow and orphan fund. That would shock her father as well. At the moment she wanted answers. She had her sights set on the detective and she was prepared to steamroll officer Stamp to do it.
As it turned out she did have to steamroll the object of Mable’s domestic desires but it wasn’t nearly as difficult or as bloody as she feared. She walked past Stamp doing her best to pretend he wasn’t even there and called to the detective. Admittedly she had to be a little loud so that she could be heard over officer Stamp’s exasperated admonishments but she managed to garner the detectives attention. For better or for worse.
     “Miss. Shaw please,” Stamp pleaded.
     “Detective we haven’t been introduced I am Kensington Shaw. I was dancing with one of your victims when the unfortunate incident occurred. Do you happen to know what caused Fredrick to collapse?”
     “We don’t know yet. We haven’t even had a chance to interview the witnesses. Miss. Shaw you can’t be in here. It’s a crime scene,” Stamp said doing his best to hinder her progress into the room.
     It didn’t work. Kensi stepped around his every attempt. Detective Kane eyed Kensington Shaw critically. He couldn’t help it. She had a big personality for someone so young. She couldn’t have been more than twenty and that was on the outside. He decided that she wasn’t beautiful exactly but pretty in the way dragonflies were pretty. She was also obviously going to annoy him until she got what she was after. Nathaniel Kane didn’t respond well to that tactic. More daring souls than Kensington Shaw had tried and failed. Her clothes were expensive and she walked with authority even though she didn’t have any where the police were concerned. She was rich and felt entitled. He didn’t respond well to that either. She was up to something and he wanted to know what because he was fairly certain that he just laid eyes on his Dal dealer.
     “Miss Shaw if you would kindly wait in the hall until I can spare someone to take your statement,” Nathaniel Kane said.
     “Do you know what’s wrong with them?” Kensi asked.
     “It appears that they all died of the same thing. I need more time to be certain. Please wait in the hall Miss Shaw,” he said barely looking at her.
     “What if they aren’t dead?”
     “Do you know something about what happened here Miss Shaw?” Kane asked.
     “I already told officer Stamp what I know,” Kensi said.
     “Then you won’t mind waiting in the hall.” Kane turned and took a step.
     “Yes, I do mind detective. Fredrick is a good man and I want to know how he ended up practically frozen. Perhaps if you began behaving like a civilized person we can have a conversation.”
     “You have already admitted to knowing nothing about this. Perhaps if you waited in the hall we could have the peace and quiet required to solve these murders,” Kane said turning back to her and attempting to stare her down.
     What detective Kane could scarcely have guessed was that Kensington Shaw had spent her life staring down her father who happened to be a lawyer in addition to a businessman. Admittedly it had been some time since Walter Kensington Shaw VI had practiced law in a court room but he still retained the ability to pin one down with a stare. She had learned from the best. Kane didn’t stand a chance. He blinked first. Not for the reason that Kensi assumed but that was beside the point.
     “See here Miss Shaw,” Kane said taking a breath. “The police do not make it a habit to keep random citizens informed of theories so if you don’t mind- please wait in the hall. Thank you,” Kane said.
     “Oh but I very much mind detective. Am I free to leave,” she asked?
     Stamp answered no at the same time Kane answered yes. Kane wanted rid of her. Kensi was counting on that small fact. She abruptly turned and left the room. She made only one stop. She turned over her stub to the coat check girl who looked frightened and trapped in her little room. She slipped on her coat, put a pin in her hat, pulled on her gloves and picked up her purse as she walked out into the cold night air. She didn’t need to consider what her next step would be. She needed information and there wasn’t any place in the city better to go than The Scarlet Door Jazz Club.
     For the second time that night Kensi was checking her hat and coat. The Scarlet Door was where the Underground went aboveground to have fun without human interference. It was the kind of place where the liquor was strong and the music was good. Everyone was welcome but if you caused trouble you were out forever. Everyone knew this and absolutely no one wanted to be on Betty DuPre’s bad side. No one. Betty was the grande dame of the supernatural scene in Chicago. She was also the closest thing to a real friend that Kensi had.
     Kensi slipped into the club and up to the bar. Carl, the bartender knew she didn’t want a drink. He poured her a glass of water without a word and picked up the phone behind the bar. He said something that Kensi couldn’t hear and winked at her. It was their silent sign that he was talking to Betty.
Kensi looked down the bar to her right. The bar ended at a wall but on the other side of it was a set of stairs that led to a private office. Kensi had been there on many occasions and knew it to be more of an apartment. She watched Betty turn the corner and walk towards her with the grace of a ballerina and the shrewdness of a woman who owned everything she saw. Kensi knew the second that she met Betty two years ago that she was making the right decision by going into business with her.
     “Kensington, darling, did I forget that we had a meeting?” Betty asked as the band started a new song. Betty could have been forty or she could have been eighty. People like Betty didn’t age normally.
     “You never forget anything. I came to ask if you have ever had a Dal problem here in the club. I was dancing tonight and half a dozen people collapsed. It looks like Dal to me Betty but the symptoms were extreme. Don’t look at me like that. If I thought you were dealing Dal at all I wouldn’t be working with you. You know that.”
     “I do but it is nice to hear that you have confidence in me. No we haven’t had any trouble yet,” Betty said.
     “What do you mean yet?”
     “The Dal problem is only getting worse. It’s only a matter of time I’m afraid. The wealthy humans that are granted entrance into the club are wealthy enough and well connected enough to obtain Dal. Not from anyone here of course. That would be breaking my rule,” Betty said. Dal didn’t have the same effect on supernatural creatures that it did on humans. If taken incorrectly it could kill humans. Most of the time it did.
     “You’re not worried?” Kensi asked. “You don’t need to answer that but I think there is something different about this Dal. The people at the dance were frozen. They were cold to the touch right after they collapsed. They had the blue markings on their fingers but it was a deep blue not a faint blue.”
     “Of course I’m worried for the poor souls that fall prey to Dal but I don’t fear for the club. I pay good money not to be raided. The same courtesy is extended to any other trouble that should befall my establishment.” That was Betty’s political and polite way of saying that the club was protected from all sides. “As for the Dal, well, there is another kind that I saw in my travels in China. It is very expensive to produce. It is also dangerous to everyone who takes it. Pure Dal is very addictive not just to humans but to all creatures.”
     Kensi refused to believe that Fredrick couldn’t be saved. There had to be something. She didn’t want to think about the life that Fredrick would miss. She wanted to know him better and see what he would accomplish in his life. She didn’t want to think of the scandal that would consume his parents. As Kensi pondered this someone screamed and then another person joined in. After that it was pure chaos.
     “Kensington you must go,” Betty said.
     “The police will be here any minute,” Kensi said.
     “Exactly, you cannot be seen here. My contact at the police will intercept this but you should still go. One Dal death can be explained away but two? The police will suspect you are involved and that is very bad for the both of us. Go and I will telephone if there is any news. Please Kensi. Go out the back, just like I showed you.” Betty gave her shoulder a little push.
     Kensi hurried and retrieved her hat and coat. She pulled it on as she headed through the club to the stock room. Kensi pulled open the door and took a hand full of dust from the bucket that sat just inside door. She was very careful not to spill any. It gleamed in the darkened stockroom. She made her way around shelving until she reached the far wall and blew the dust from her palm onto the white wall. It shimmered and glowed then returned to white but rippled slightly so she knew it was ready. She simply walked through the wall into the ally beside the club. An ally that didn’t have any doors on it. An ally that lead to a busy street so that Kensi could be lost in the crowd. The doorman at the back door could now tell the police with complete honesty that no one had come that way let alone Kensi.
     Kensi scoured the morning newspaper for any mention of the dance hall devastation or the trouble at Betty’s club but there wasn’t a single word. She hadn’t actually expected anything in the paper about The Scarlet Door but she did expect some kind of explanation about the dance hall. Didn’t the police need to explain all the bodies? She put the paper aside and rang for her maid. Livvy brought a tray and loaded the breakfast dishes onto it.
     “Get your hat and coat Livvy. I need you to help me with something,” Kensi said.
     “Yes Miss,” Livvy replied. Livvy was French and had an accent but she flatly refused to speak the language of her birth country. She was proud of her new country and was determined to speak the language like a native.
     “Livvy, I’m going to ask you to do something that you may find morally reprehensible.”
     “What is that Miss?” Livvy asked with the wariness of someone who knew Kensi better than anyone else. Someone who knew exactly what Kensi was capable of. Someone who didn’t need to speak the language to read the look of determination on Kensi’s face.
     Livvy slowly closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she opened them Kensi saw resignation in them.
     “Who am I distracting this time Miss?”
     Kensington Shaw had never before in her life broken and entered but as they say desperate times and all that. In all honesty she hadn’t actually broken anything. She used a charm that Betty had given her at the beginning of their arrangement. She passed the charm over the lock and it opened with a click. Betty said it would open any lock and Betty was usually right. She twisted the knob and went through the door as slowly and quietly as she dared leaving Livvy to stand in front of the shop as a look out.
     Kensi hadn’t broken into any of the shops. She broke into the apartment above them. Mabel had said that Mary had come out of a door between two shops. There was a green door between Richardson’s Shoe Repair and Olive Petal’s Flower Emporium. The door led to a flight of stairs and that led to a second door. Kensi opened this one as she had the first. She was confident that no one was in residence. She had leaned on the door buzzer for a full three minutes. Even the neighbors hadn’t complained and that was never a good sign.
     Kensi opened the door and slipped inside. For several seconds she couldn’t process what she was looking at. She tipped the lid of a crate that wasn’t full yet and looked inside. Dal. There was crate after crate of Dal. A truly staggering amount. She made her way to the beige bedroom and what she found there was even more mind boggling. They were actually producing Dal in that very room. One wall was stacked floor to ceiling with crates. A work table had been set up along another wall. It was covered with magical objects that were being physically filed down by magical means. They were producing pure Dal just as Betty suspected. She picked up a ledger that was balanced on the very end of the table. Each page was covered with columns of the most perfect handwriting that Kensi had ever seen. Names, descriptions and dates of the objects used were cataloged. Someone was expending a tremendous amount of energy, not to mention money, to ensure that the rich were indulging in a very dangerous past time. Pure Dal would be instantly addictive and lethal in the wrong amount to anyone. Even the people that lived in the Underground. Perhaps Fredrick was dead after all. She closed the ledger and slipped it under her coat so that she could put it in her belt against her back. It was evidence and maybe it would help Betty find a cure.
     That was when she heard the door open. Voices spoke quietly in the main room. Kensi looked for a place to hide and then thought better of it. She needed to get out not simply disappear. She looked around for another door or a bathroom with a window but there was only the bedroom window. A window that Kensi could tell was nailed shut and painted many times over. She could hear the voices getting closer. She was going to get caught. She had to make a decision. She went to the window and looked out. There was a fire escape beneath the window. She withdrew a vile of Betty’s special dust from her handbag and blew the contents onto the wall. She gave herself a running start and flung her body through the wall towards the fire escape. Her hands caught metal and she pulled herself over the rail.
It wasn’t one of her more graceful exists but it would have to do. She descended the fire escape as if there were in fact a fire. Her lungs were burning from her race down the fire escape. She needed to make her way back to Livvy at the front of the store and find a phone. She to call Betty. When she saw Livvy she looped her arm through Livvy’s and led her down the street casually as if they had been shopping and not as if she had just broken into a Dal den.
     “I’m sorry Miss. I kept them talking as long as I could.” Livvy worried an embroidered handkerchief between her trembling fingers. “They wanted me to come upstairs with them,” she whispered.
Livvy looked as if she were equally appalled about being suspected of taking drugs and being ‘that kind of girl’. The horrified look on her face made it difficult but not impossible for Kensi to suppress a smile. Livvy was only a year younger than her but they couldn’t have been more different. While Kensi was bold to the point of being brazen, Livvy was timid to the point of having an actual social condition.
     “It’s alright. I saw what I came to see.”
     “And what exactly was that Miss. Shaw?” Asked a voice from behind them.
     Kensi would know that voice anywhere. She had dreamed about that voice the night before. That voice was burned into her brain forever. Dismissive, abrupt and infuriating it belonged to the detective that had completely ignored her the night before. Kane. Kensi stopped so abruptly that Livvy almost lost her balance. Kane, however, appeared to anticipate the reaction. With cat like reflexes he had already put out a hand to steady Livvy. She gave a surprised yelp at being unexpectedly touched and took a step away nearly tripping over her own feet in an effort to get away from Kane. Kensi took a deep breath, put a smile on her face, and turned around to meet Nathaniel Kane.
     “What a pleasant surprise detective. I was just about to find a phone to call you,” Kensi said. Livvy looked on as if she were witnessing the aftermath of a car crash.
     “Would it happen to have anything to do with what you came to see?” He looked at her with intelligent eyes that she would have called piercing if she were a lesser woman and given to flights of fancy.
     “Yes it would. The apartment over Richardson’s is being used to manufacture and distribute pure Dal,” Kensi said.
     “Shall I sound the whistle sir,” asked Stamp.
Kensi hadn’t even noticed that he was standing beside Kane. At least she could be assured that the intense irritation that she felt was mutual. Kane really didn’t like her and the situation was in no way going to help matters. What did she care? Once she had extracted herself from this mess and found out who sold Fredrick the pure Dal she would never have to see Kane again.
     “You can try but they are probably long gone,” Kensi said.
     “Miss it’s been minutes,” Livvy said slightly blushing due to the fact that she had spoken at all.
     “Where?” Kane demanded. Kensi pointed.
     “I’m sure they saw me,” she said.
     “You went in there?” Kane sort of growled it and Livvy took another step back clutching Kensi’s arm even tighter and partially hiding behind her. She couldn’t understand how such a beautiful man could be so disagreeable and frightening.
     “I knew that I would need proof if you were going to believe me about the Dal,” Kensi said.
     “I am willing to believe just about anyone when it comes to Dal and you Miss Shaw.”
     “But would you have believed me? You already think that I had something to do with what happened at the dance hall. Which for the record I did not. Fredrick is my friend and if there is a way to fix him I will find it,” Kensi announced. She reached under her coat and pulled out the ledger. Kane looked at it but said nothing.
     “You believed that going into a building on your own was the best way to help your friend? You have disastrous instincts Miss Shaw. Your friend would be better served by allowing the police to do the job that we were trained to do.”
     Kane blew out a breath and then took a slower one. Kensington Shaw was the limit. She was an entitled brat who thought she could do whatever she wanted whenever she wanted to do it. He had half a mind to arrest her for obstructing an investigation and stealing evidence. He turned abruptly with the ledger in hand and headed for the building. If he could put a major distributor out of business the entire city would at least benefit from the ulcer that Kensington Shaw was causing him.
     “They’ll already be gone detective,” Kensi called after him. It didn’t matter. He was already to the building.
     “Miss we’ve been standing right here. They couldn’t have come out this way we would have seen them,” Livvy said.
     “Oh sweet Livvy. There is more to this world than what meets the eye,” Kensi said with a knowing smile. Stamp blew his whistle as he and Kane walked back towards the door of the Dal den.
When Livvy just looked scared Kensi continued.
     “They were using magic to run their operation. They were more worried about everyday people stealing from them than people who can use magic. Nothing at all stopped me from walking in. The lock was simple enough to get past with the charm I have. There wasn’t even a guard by the door. Who ever is running this operation has professional magical help. The only question now is who? Who is frightening enough that no one in the supernatural community would even consider crossing?”
     When the intense ringing started in her ears she knew that she wouldn’t have long to wait. She heard Livvy scream and grab her arm so tightly that it was painful. Everything started to vibrate. She wasn’t quite sure what was happening and she couldn’t do anything to stop it. She held on to Livvy. She had learned a thing or two from Betty about basic magic. She was worried that if Livvy let go she would be torn to bits. The street lamp vaguely resembled a tuning fork and no one else saw a thing because time stopped.
     Nothing in the street moved. Cars were frozen as were the people driving them. Birds were frozen in the sky. There wasn’t so much as a leaf twitching or a slight breeze. Not a single thing so much as breathed with the exception of Kensi and Livvy. She honestly thought that Livvy was going to burst into tears and possibly vomit on her.
     She looked at Kane and Stamp. They were close to the door of the apartment. Their arms were already outstretched towards the door so they would be ready to open it.
     When the same door opened and a tall elegant woman walked out of it Kensi knew there was going to be trouble. Jane DuPre was one of Betty’s younger sisters and one of Kensi’s magic suppliers. She passed Kane and Stamp without taking her eyes off Kensi. She snatched the ledger from Kane’s hand as she walked by. Livvy made a small squeaking sound as Jane approached.
Her deep burgundy coat bellowed in the late fall wind like wine poured into a glass. She looked pleased with herself. It made Kensi’s stomach twist. She knew that whatever Jane had planned was going to be very bad. Jane’s bright red lipstick curved into a smile and Livvy fainted dead away. Kensi didn’t blame her. The smile on Jane’s face would have made Kensi faint too if she hadn’t been so completely angry. Kensi felt rage. It was a new emotion for her. She had been angry before. She had felt injustice but true blind rage was something all together different.
     “I bet you didn’t see this one coming. Did you dear Kensington?” Jane said it as if it were an accusation. Kensi just looked at her.
     “Come now Kensi. We both know what your thinking. Everyone knows that you have a certain talent. Everyone in the know that is. Use it. Go on. Use it. Kensington Shaw golden pupil. Betty goes on and on about you. Do it,” Jane yelled and struck Kensi across the face with the ledger. Jane chuckled and took a step close to Kensi so that she could close to her ear. “You can’t can you? You’re in my way. I can’t have someone like you working for my sister and sticking her nose where it clearly doesn’t belong. It doesn’t make good business sense. You have to die.”
     Kensi took a step back and put a hand to her face. When she pulled it away there was blood. The lucky thing was that Jane appeared to be wrong about her gift. Mostly wrong anyway. Jane thought Kensi could read minds. She could use that to her advantage when the time was right.
     “What are your plans for the future Jane? I’m having a little trouble here. Are you going to take over the Dal trade in Chicago? Do you plan to go national or perhaps international with your operation? Will there be a European headquarters? I do so love Paris in the spring.”
     “I like you Kensi. You’re plucky and you think as I do. If things were different I would take you on in my organization. Someone like you would do well but alas we cannot turn back the hands of time. My sister has taught you too much and they have been all the wrong things. Pity. Now, I am afraid, it is time for you to die.”
Jane raised her elegant hand slowly. In her palm was enough Dal to kill a dozen people. Jane started to blow it in Kensi’s face.
Kensi focused on Jane’s hand and shoved it away with only her thoughts. Jane was quick however, grabbing Kensi’s coat. Kensi watched helplessly as a very determined detective took them both to the ground. Jane dropped the Dal on the sidewalk. If she succeeded in killing Kensi it wouldn’t look like an accident. Kane was stronger and faster than he looked. She felt an instant surge of respect for him but he didn’t know what he was dealing with. Jane was dangerous.
     “Kane, stop,” Kensi called to him.
     Jane rolled away from Kane and got to her feet that were clad in impossibly high heeled shoes. Jane always dressed in the latest Paris fashions and when they weren’t daring enough she had her own made. Kane tried to grab for her but Jane was quicker. She put out a hand and red smoke slithered from the tips of her fingers and it attacked Kane like a snake. He fell backward with the smoke twisted around his throat choking him. He didn’t make a sound.
     Jane came after Kensi next. She lifted her arms wide and began to chant in a language Kensi couldn’t place. She got to her feet and attempted to push Jane with her mind in an effort to stop her. It didn’t do any good. Jane pushed her away without laying a hand on her. Kensi did the only thing she could think to do. She couldn’t hear Kane and she dared not take her eyes from Jane. Fight fire with fire she thought. She pushed at Jane with her mind again. Jane pushed her hard against the building, her head hit it hard enough that she saw stars. She still didn’t hear Kane and now she couldn’t move to find him. She wasn’t going to allow Jane to kill anyone else.
     Kensi lashed out at her harder. Jane took a step back in disbelief. Kensi did it again. This time Jane took several steps back and tried to use the parked cars to help her stay on her feet. Kensi hit her so hard with the next blow that she twisted and didn’t quite recover. She wobbled and fell backwards into the street hitting her head on the road. With Jane unconscious time had no choice but to restart. An unfortunate thing for Jane who lay in front of a car that began moving again at full speed.
     “Are you alright Miss Shaw?” Kane asked putting a hand on her elbow.
     “Quite alright. How are you?” There was sarcasm in her voice but she was shaking.
     “Who was that?” Kane asked walking her away from the gruesome scene.
     “Jane and I think she was responsible for the Dal problem at the dance hall,” Kensi said.
     “Let me take you home Miss Shaw. I think we can handle it from here,” Kane said.
     “Livvy and I can see ourselves home detective,” Kensi said. They both looked over to where Livvy laid sprawled on the sidewalk. “Well as soon as she wakes up obviously,” Kensi told him looking up at him. “I have a question. You couldn’t move and then you could,” she said.
     “That was more of a statement,” Kane told her. She only looked at him. “It has been an eventful day. I think that is a topic for a different one,” he said removing his handkerchief and touching it to Kensi’s cheek wiping the blood away.
     She nodded. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know anyway.
     “I believe this is goodbye,” Kensi said
     “Miss Shaw, whatever will I do without you medaling in my investigation?” Kane asked as he put his handkerchief in the inside pocket of his coat.
     “I think you and your sarcasm will figure it out. Good day detective.” She turned to Livvy as Kane began to walk away. He stopped and turned back to her.
     “It may interest you to know that I learned that your friends all attended the same party before going dancing. They all ingested the Dal at the same time. That’s why they all collapsed at once. Do tell your friends to be more careful when you wake them up. By that I mean staying away from Dal.”
     “They aren’t my friends,” Kensi said.
     “Good day Miss Shaw.” He said and walked away.
     “What a shame,” she said to an unconscious Livvy. “No formal goodbye. I had thought we meant more to each other than that.”
     Kensi used her key to enter The Scarlet Door. It wasn’t quite noon and the club was as quiet as a tomb. Kensi made her way to the stairs. She walked up them slowly concentrating on the quiet and her own sense of guilt. She had to beg Betty’s forgiveness and not just because she wanted to save Fredrick but because Betty was practically family. When Betty had discovered her secret she hadn’t tried to have Kensi committed. She was supportive and kind. She understood what it was like to be different. Kensi would never forget that. She knocked on the door at the top of the stairs and braced herself.
     “You mustn’t look so grim yet my dear. I know about what happened in the street today and it isn’t the end of the world,” Betty said as she opened the door.
     “What?” Kensi asked.
     “Jane knew better and you know better than to think I would blame you. I’m sure that her falling into the road was just a horrible accident. Come, I’ve put the kettle on and I have news on your friend,” Betty said quietly.
     “You can tell me. I can take it,” Kensi said following Betty into her apartment. She sat down on the couch and ran her finger over the tassel on a pillow.
     “I did what I could for them. I was only able to revive Myra Daniels. She and Mary Dunning purchased the Dal. They had a party before going to the dance. Kensington I’m so sorry.”
     “You didn’t do anything wrong. It just doesn’t seem fair that Myra gets to live and Fredrick had to die.”
     “If I had been any later she would have died too. I finally found the spell I had seen used in China. I was up all night in my library,” Betty explained.
     “Thank you. Does Myra know how lucky she is?”
     “I explained it to her,” Betty said.
     “What about the man who died in your club.”
     “Just a heart attack. I would have thought officer Stamp would have told you. My contact was busy with other matters. Officer Stamp was keen to know if I knew you. You should be careful of that one. He’s smitten.”
     “What did you tell him?”
     “That every wealthy person in the city knew one another because we all have our coins polished at the same place,” Betty said with a smile. “I told him that everyone who is anyone knows you. Your father is the richest man in Chicago.” Betty moved and sat down next to Kensi. “Don’t lead that boy on. He’s not meant for you. He’s ordinary.”
     “It’s a shame that I already picked out the wedding invitations,” Kensi said with a conspiratorial smile that bordered on sarcasm. “Why did you tell Jane that I was physic?”
     “Having and using your gift should be a natural thing but you must protect yourself. I know who and what my sister was. I’m sorry that you were caught up in her madness and that I didn’t see it coming.”
     “Thanks anyway Betty,” Kensi said.
     “You’re welcome. I find that the best thing in a sad situation is a raspberry tart and it just so happens that I picked one up at the bakery today. I hope you’re hungry.”
The End

Copyright © Arietta Charles 2014 All rights reserved.

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