Chapter 11: I Like The Way You Die

On her way to work, Rose stopped by the Seine. She had the late shift at Theatre La Chatte tonight, so she was able to leave her apartment freely without having to scurry from shadow to shadow under the protective covering of an umbrella and sunglasses. It also meant she could catch the twinkling light show of the Eiffel Tower.

A still sadness echoed in her mind and she hoped a little sparkle would lift her spirits. She waited for the brief show to start and watched its entirety. The iconic tower glittered for five minutes, then promptly snuffed itself out and returned to a singular glow. The murky water of the Seine reflected the lights of the city, creating a dreamy, van Gogh-esque swirl of yellow and indigo.

The haunting beauty of the city at night made Rose grateful to be a part of it. “Daylight is overrated,” she told herself.

But she could not completely shake the melancholy that shrouded her thoughts. Her interaction with Margot left her uneasy, and her unexpected threesome with Zari and Vanesse left her wondering who she could actually trust.

She fingered the slip of paper in her pocket. She didn’t need to pull it out to recite Nico Dacia’s address; it was burned into her memory. She planned to pay him a visit on her next night off. The thought of seeing him again made her nervous, but she was determined to do it.

Rose brushed these thoughts away and walked to work. As soon as she stepped inside Theatre La Chatte, the energy encircled her. It was Saturday night, and every corner of the theatre was abuzz with eager patrons and half-naked dancers.

“Bonsoir, Chérie,” Madame LeClerc called to Rose as she rang up the ticket for a customer. “Get yourself ready quickly please, we’re low staffed tonight.”

“What do you mean we’re low staffed?” Rose asked.

“Margot quit,” Madame LeClerc stated matter-of-factly.

Rose started. “What? When? Why?”

Madame LeClerc was busy and clearly not interested in giving long explanations. “Chérie, s’il te plaît!” she pleaded exasperatedly. “Go get ready, will you?”

Rose obliged and went into the dressing area to prepare herself. She was relieved to see Sophie there, applying lipstick in the globe-lighted mirrors.

“Sophie!” Rose hugged her tightly, interrupting her makeup application. “Margot quit? What happened?”

“Je ne sais pas,” Sophie responded. “I just learned about it too. It’s been wild here all night! We’re extra busy, and Margot was supposed to perform. We’re all doing extra shifts.”

Rose didn’t know what to make of Margot’s quitting. Was it related to their exchange? Rose had been nervous about seeing Margot again, but her sudden absence was somehow more unsettling.

“I have to go on,” Sophie said, popping up. “We’ll talk more later.” She kissed Rose lightly on the cheek, careful not to smear her freshly applied lipstick. She then trotted off to perform downstairs.

Rose undressed absentmindedly as thoughts swirled in her head. She slipped on her robe and sat herself down in front of the mirrors. Though her lack of a reflection was confirmed, she began applying makeup. She had gotten pretty adept at doing it sans reflection.

But she was interrupted by the sound of sobs. Rose looked up and saw Zari standing behind her empty chair in the reflection. Rose turned around and saw Zari wiping tears from her face.

“Zari, what’s wrong?”

“Oh,” Zari heaved. “It’s nothing, really. This asshole client just now was asking about a private dance, but he said he didn’t want me. Normally I wouldn’t care, but he was saying some pretty racist shit…He’s still out there arguing with Madame LeClerc, I think. Connard!”

“I’m so sorry,” said Rose, handing Zari a tissue. “That is unacceptable.”

“Don’t worry,” Zari told Rose as she grabbed the tissue and dabbed her face. “I’ve heard it all before, unfortunately. Anyway, I think Madame LeClerc is going to kick him out.”

Rose looked past Zari into the entrance hall to see if she could see the offender. 

“I’m going to go splash some cold water on my face,” Zari told Rose. “I’ll be back.”

Rose stood and embraced Zari before she headed to the bathroom. After Zari had gone, Rose stormed into the entrance hall. There, Madame LeClerc was indeed telling a client that such language was not tolerated and he had to go.

“Pardonnez-moi,” Rose interjected. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I must speak with Madame very quickly.”

“Not now—” Madame LeClerc began, but Rose insisted and pulled her aside.

“I’ll give him the private show,” she whispered. “Charge him double, or triple, then throw him out! Make him pay first.”

Madame LeClerc raised an eyebrow. There was already a line of new customers waiting to purchase tickets, so there was no time to waver. “Fine, fine!” she said to Rose. “It’s your lucky day,” she told the client, wagging a finger at him.

“Is the attic showroom available?” Rose asked Madame LeClerc, who nodded in response. She was already busy attending to other patrons.

Rose brought the racist client up to the showroom on the top floor and quickly sat him down in the center of the room and played some music. She did not bother explaining the rules.

Striptease: I Like The Way You Die

Rose had not finished dressing, so she was naked apart from a pair of thigh highs under her robe. She teased the release of her silky covering. She wanted him relaxed.

Rose approached where he sat and perched on his lap. She traced her fingers along the side of his face. You bastard! she thought to herself.

Rose flung off her robe and watched him become absorbed by her naked body.

In turn, she felt herself become absorbed by the network of veins that winded through his skin. The blue lines stood out like a map of roads. She gripped the client by the neck and dug in her fingernails. 

“HEY—” he protested.

Before she had fully realized it herself, the deed was done.

Rose felt as if she were watching from outside herself. She saw her fangs spring forth like thorns and her hand push the side of his face away in order to elongate his neck. The blood from the bite spattered on her face as her teeth bore into a thick vein on the side of his throat. 

There was a struggle. But she overpowered him. Now she saw herself crouching over him as he lay still on the floor. She watched herself drain him.

There was a mess. She looked down and saw a body in a pool of blood. Streaks of crimsons snaked down her own torso. She had to get out of there.

Having at least the wherewithal to consider her appearance in front of the throng of people downstairs, she picked up her robe and used the inside fabric to wipe her face. She then threw the robe on and went to look for Zari.

She left the attic showroom behind her, with nothing to prevent anyone from entering apart from a silent prayer. It was hardly a guarantee.

At the last minute, Rose remembered to grab her phone and turn off the music.

Rose found Zari in the dressing area, where she was putting on a new outfit for her next performance.

“He’s gone,” Rose announced, her eyes dilated and maniacal. “That fucking racist is gone.”

“I know,” said Zari, somewhat confused. “Madame LeClerc kicked him out.”

“No, no,” Rose declared. “I took care of him!” She waited for this to sink in with Zari.

“Oh God, Rose,” Zari said, bringing her hand to her mouth as if nauseous. “Rose…you didn’t?”

“Of course I did—he deserved it!”

“But we didn’t plan,” Zari objected. “Are you just going to go around haphazardly killing racists?”

Rose’s shoulders and eyes dropped in unison.

Zari slumped down and brought her fingertips to her temples. She remained silent for some time. “Where is he?” she asked at last.

“In the attic showroom,” Rose responded quietly, deflated by Zari’s reaction.

“His body is just lying up there?”

Rose nodded in confirmation.

“I suppose you expect me to arrange the cleanup?” said Zari.

Rose didn’t answer, but swallowed a lump that had formed in her throat. The impulsivity of her actions were becoming undeniable. She felt beads of sweat form on her forehead.

Zari remained quiet. She looked as if she were thinking something over very seriously, so Rose let the silence hang in the room. The clatter of activity from the entrance hall echoed in.

“Okay,” Zari stated finally. “I’ll call my people to do this cleanup. But I’m sorry, Rose, this has to be the last time. I can’t help you going forward. In any way. You’re being too reckless. My family connections, and therefore my family, are at risk. Je suis désolée.”

Rose didn’t protest. Tears ran down her cheeks and she felt her stomach turn. But she had to accept the small favor of the moment.

“Reckless.” It wasn’t the first time she had been accused of that in her relatively short vampire life. Rose felt the word pound in her skull like a clamorous jury. 

And she couldn’t deny it was true, especially as she stood there with a body upstairs, blood stains under her robe, and a crowd of people chattering away in the next room.

The bodies were piling up and her allies were running thin. She needed a new course of action. Now.


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