Moonlight Roses & Murder

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“How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.”  –Bram Stoker

Prologue

Walking out of the club, Hailey smiled and looked back at her friends.  “I told you it’s only a few blocks and I like the exercise.”  She tried to adjust the corset of her Steampunk costume, but it was determined to keep riding up.

“This isn’t Ellensburg,” said her friend Sonya, smoothing out her long black dress.  “Seattle is not someplace to be walking around by yourself at night.”

“I’ll go with you,” Andy offered.  He looked good in his Victorian outfit, but he’d been slurring his words since their third shot of whiskey.

“That’s okay,” Hailey replied, holding up one hand.  “See, it’s right there,” she said, pointing towards one of the buildings.  “Okay, right behind the tall one,” she added, laughing.

“Let’s all go,” Sonya offered, looking at her watch.  “We can get there and back in time for the next set.  The band is really good tonight.”

“I’m fine,” Hailey replied, giving her a hug.  “Oops, sorry about the ruffles.  They keep getting in the way.”  She smiled.  “I’ll talk to you in the morning.  We still have three days left of Spring Break.”

“She has to go call Doug,” Andy said, smirking.  “Lucky guy if you ask me.”

“Okay Andy, time for coffee,” Sonya said, pulling him back towards the club.  Looking at Hailey, she added, “Be careful.”

Hailey nodded, then turned and walked across the street, cutting through Pioneer Square.  She loved Seattle especially this part of the city.  The glass-covered, metal pergola was beautiful and with the trees and old buildings, it almost felt like she’d stepped back in time.

She heard music playing, probably from one of the clubs.  The Steampunk Convention was bringing out a lot of people for a Thursday night.  Two creepy guys were standing next to one of the doorways, which Hailey carefully walked around.  Glancing over her shoulder, she was relieved that they seemed deep in conversation.

Almost there, she told herself as she crossed the street and walked along the sidewalk.  As she passed the alley, she thought she heard a noise.  She looked over and saw nothing, but started walking faster.  She could swear she heard footsteps and suddenly, this part of the block seemed deserted.  She stopped and heard two clicks, then silence.

“Okay, this is getting scary,” she said softly, wishing she’d asked Andy to come with her after all.  As she hurried to the end of the block, she saw the hotel across the street.  Finally, she thought, sighing with relief.  She took a step towards the bright lights of the hotel as someone grabbed her from behind, pulling her back into the shadows…

Chapter 1

Selina Bellerose looked up as one of her employees walked into the office.  Jeremy was her head bouncer and he usually came in making a joke or complaining about a difficult customer.

“Selina, we’ve got a problem,” Jeremy said, seriously.

“What is it?” she asked, brushing her long, brown hair over her shoulder.  When he hesitated, Selina said, “Just tell me, Jeremy.”

“You’d better come look for yourself,” Jeremy replied, walking out of the room.

Selina nodded, following him out of the office and through the now deserted club.  As they walked up the stairs to the rear entrance, Jeremy stopped and looked back at her.  “It’s not pretty,” he said.

As they stepped into the dim light of the alley, she could see a figure lying on the stones.  “It’s a girl,” Selina said, walking over to the very still young woman.  She was dressed in a beige and brown Steampunk outfit with her hair done up in pigtails.

“She’s older than she looks,” Isabella said, standing next to the body.  Her assistant manager paused and added, “Or at least she was.  She’s dead, Selina.”

“Have you called the police?” Selina asked, turning to Jeremy.

Jeremy and Isabella exchanged a look.  “Call them,” Selina said.  Walking back into the club, she added, “And stay with her until they arrive.”

Isabella nodded as Jeremy pulled out his cell phone.

Selina walked back down the stairs, looking around the club.  This was going to be trouble, she thought.  Trouble she didn’t want or need.  She walked into her office and started putting papers and a few other items into her safe.

 

Detective Nathaniel Wright looked around the crime scene.  He was in his early 30s and had been a detective for almost three years, so he knew this case was going to attract some attention.  The victim was young, pretty and had lost a lot of blood.  She was also wearing a Steampunk costume, which had very little blood on it.  As he went over the crime scene, it was obvious the murder hadn’t happened in the alley.

He looked over at his partner, Maria Fuentes.  She was in her late 40s and easily the smartest detective he knew.  She had a way of getting people to relax and tell her much more than they would normally admit to the police.  She looked like the average mom, but she’d solved more cases than any other detective in the Seattle PD.  He had learned a lot from her.

“What do you think?” he asked Maria.

“I’ll let you know in a minute,” she replied, walking over to the young woman standing behind the club.  She had dark blonde hair, tied up with a blue velvet ribbon and was wearing a blue and white, Victorian style dress.  “Excuse me, it’s Isabella, isn’t it?’ she asked, recalling that two people had called in the murder.  “Do you have a moment to talk?”

Isabella nodded, looking back over at the handsome, young African-American detective, then down at the dead girl.  “Of course,” she replied.  “Would you like some coffee or anything?”

Maria shook her head.  “Thank you, but we need to stay with the body until the forensics team gets here.”  She pulled out a small notebook and a pencil.  “Did you find the victim?”

“No,” Isabella replied, “Jeremy found her, when he came out here to dump…” she paused and swallowed.  “When he brought the garbage out.”

Maria edged over a little, so that she was blocking the view of the body.  “And then he went back into the club and got you?” she asked.

Isabella nodded.  “I told him to find Selina and I would wait with the young…with the body.”

Maria looked up.  “Did he tell you she was dead?”

“He said she didn’t seem to have a pulse,” Isabella replied, “but he was only out here a moment.”

Maria nodded.  “Then, you called us right away.”

“As soon as Jeremy brought Selina up,” Isabella replied.  “She’s the owner and we thought she should know.”

Maria was used to this type of thing.  Some people called immediately, others were in shock and had to be told to call, and a few didn’t want the police involved.  She’d give this young woman the benefit of the doubt for now.

“Where is Jeremy?” Maria asked.  “I’ll need to speak to him and the owner.”

“Of course,” Isabella said.  “I told them I would stay with her,” she looked back towards the body.  “I would stay until you arrived.”

Maria nodded.  “Why don’t you ask Jeremy to come out here.  You’re free to go home if you like.”

Isabella nodded and went into the club.  Maria looked around, then back over at her partner.  Finally answering his question, she said, “I think someone murdered this young woman and staged her body behind the club.  What I want to know is why?”

“Her ID was in her pocket,” Nate said, glancing down at the ruffled skirt.  “Says her name was Hailey Elizabeth Brockner.”  He shook his head.  “Looks like she was here for the Steampunk Convention.  Why these kids want to dress up like freaks is beyond me.”

“They seem to enjoy it,” a soft voice said behind them.  Turning, they saw a beautiful woman in her early 30’s.  “She was quite lovely,” she said, looking down at the young woman on the ground.

Nate cleared his throat.  “And you are…”

“Selina Bellerose,” she replied.  “I am the owner of Luna’s Nightclub.  I understand you wish to speak to Jeremy.” She looked over at Maria.  “He’ll be right up…he’s in the men’s room.”

Maria nodded.  “It’s not easy finding a dead body.”

“Or to see them on a regular basis, I would imagine,” Selina said, looking from Maria to Nate.  “Can I get you anything?  Maybe some coffee?”

“We have to wait…” Nate began.

“I’d appreciate a cup,” Maria replied, surprising her partner.  She turned to Nate.  “Wait for the forensics team, then meet me inside.”

Nate nodded as Maria followed Selina into the club.  The owner was gorgeous, he thought to himself, even in that weird, black lace dress.  He smiled for a moment, then looked back down at the victim and shook his head.

 

Maria followed the owner, Miss Bellerose, down the stairs and into the club.  It was quiet now, looking more like a very large Victorian parlor than a nightclub.  They walked over to the huge L-shaped mahogany bar, which took up one end of the space.  Black metal stools with matching leather cushions offered plenty of seating.  Edison style lighting hung from the ceiling, reflected in the large mirror behind the bar.  Shelves full of sparkling liquor bottles were lit up by more vintage fixtures.

“Very nice,” Maria said, looking around at the mahogany paneling, which covered the lower two thirds of the walls and the old brick above.  A large mahogany fireplace took up most of one wall with benches on either side.  Small tables and chairs were pulled up to them for additional seating.  Maria smiled.  “I would have loved to have had a club like this, when I was a Goth girl.”

“We do have some Goth clientele especially the Romantigoths,” Selina agreed.  “They love the Victorian feel, but Steampunk seems to be the most popular at the moment.”

Maria nodded, thinking of the body outside.  “Do you remember seeing the young lady in your club tonight?”

“No, but I was in the office most of the evening.  Did she have a stamp on the back of her hand?”  Selina asked.  “Ours will show up under an ultraviolet light.”

“We’ll know more, when forensics gets here,” Maria said, looking at her watch.

Selina poured two cups of coffee.  “Cream or sugar?” she asked.

“Black is fine,” replied Maria, picking up one of the coffee mugs.

As she started to sit on the barstool, Selina smiled.  “Let’s go to one of the upholstered benches,” she suggested.  “They’re much more comfortable.”

Maria followed her to one of the red leather benches along the wall.  “This is better,” she agreed, sitting down.  “Did you have trouble with any of the customers this evening?”

“No,” Selina replied.  “And I would have been notified immediately if there had been.  We had a large crowd for a Thursday night, but it was mostly college kids and convention people.”  She paused. “The girl seemed very pale.  She must have lost a lot of blood.”

Maria nodded.  “And I’m guessing you noticed there didn’t seem to be any in the alley.”

Selina shrugged.  “I didn’t look very carefully, but one would imagine there would be a lot of blood around the body if she had been killed there.”

“You’re not going to play amateur detective on this, are you?” Maria asked.

Selina smiled.  “Hardly.  I just want to make it clear that my club does not attract that kind of violent element.”

“How long have you owned the place?”  Maria looked around.  “It seems more like a Victorian parlor than a nightclub.”

“Almost three years,” Selina replied.  “It was pretty rough, when we bought it.  A lot of hard work and a very good designer got us to what you see today.”

“Us?” Maria repeated.  “Is there a co-owner?”

“My nieces and I purchased the club,” Selina said, reminding herself not to share so much information with a police detective.

“How old are your nieces?” Maria asked, “just for my own notes.”

Selina smiled.  “They are 22, 24, 25 and 27.  They were my older sister’s daughters and I’ve had them for quite a while.”  She paused.  “My sister was killed in an automobile accident several years ago.”

Maria nodded.  “And do they all work at the club?”

“Yes,” Selina replied, “but only Isabella was here cleaning up with Jeremy.  Everyone else went home after the club closed and there was no body in the alley at midnight, I assure you.”

“You close early for a club,” Maria noted.  “Is that typical?”

“We close at midnight during the week,” Selina replied, “but on Friday and Saturday we stay open until 2 am.  The club is closed on Sunday and Monday.”

Maria wrote it all down.  Selina wondered if she was always so thorough.  “I’d like to speak to Jeremy now,” Maria said, looking up.

Selina nodded and walked over to a door next to the bar, which Maria hadn’t noticed before.  Selina went through it and came back a few moments later with a tall young man, who was built like a football player.

“Jeremy, Detective Fuentes would like to speak to you,” Maria heard Selina say as they walked back over.  Selina had a hand on Jeremy’s arm, who still looked a little pale.

“What time did you find the victim?” Maria asked, indicating that Jeremy should sit down.

“About twelve thirty,” Jeremy replied.  “Sorry, I’m not usually so upset, but she just looked like she was sleeping.  I walked over to see if she’d passed out and then I realized…she was cold.” He looked up at Selina.  “Too cold.”

Selina nodded.  “It’s alright, Jeremy.  Tell the detective what happened after that.”

“I checked for a pulse.”  He looked over at Maria.  “We learned to do that in college.  Check our pulse rate, while working out.”  He shrugged and shook his head.  “She didn’t have one.”

“So, you came back into the club and told your boss,” Maria said.  “Then, what happened?”

“I brought Selina back up and she told us to call you.  To call the police.  And to stay with the girl…with the body until you arrived.”  Jeremy looked down.  “She was a pretty girl, wasn’t she?”

“Yes,” Maria agreed.  Turning to Selina, she asked, “And what did you do while the others were waiting for us?”

Selina kept her muscles relaxed.  “I came down to check the video tape in my office.  To see if the young woman was outside tonight, standing in line to get in.”

“And did you see her?” Maria asked.

“No, but we don’t have any cameras in the alley.”  Selina sighed.  “I didn’t think we’d need them.”

Maria was about to respond, when Detective Wright walked into the club.  “I take it forensics finally showed up?” Maria asked.

“It’s been a busy night,” Nate replied.  “Apparently, they had a crime scene in Wallingford to deal with before they could get here.”

Maria nodded.  Looking over at Jeremy, she said, “Thank you for your help.  You’re free to leave.”

“Go wait in my office with Isabella,” Selina said.  “We’ll drop you at your apartment on our way.”  Jeremy nodded and walked back through the door by the bar.  “If there’s nothing else, I would like to get them home.”  Glancing from Nate to Maria, she added, “I can give you a copy of the video if you like.”

“I’d appreciate that,” Maria replied.  “And if I could get your address and phone number in case we have any other questions?”

After she wrote down the information, Selina walked over to her office.  A few minutes later, she returned with a thumb drive, which she handed to Maria.  “Here’s what we have from the front door security cameras.  I hope it helps.”

Selina escorted the detectives upstairs.  When they opened the door to the alley, one of the men working on the body said, “Detective Fuentes, we have a problem.”  Maria walked over with Nate as Selina followed a few steps behind.  “We turned the body over and found this.”

The man moved back to show them.  “The coroner should be here any minute, but it looks like she hit her head…then someone did this.”  He indicated the two punctures, which were just a few inches apart.

Selina looked down and closed her eyes.  When she looked up, all she saw was the flash.  “Get out of here,” Nate yelled, pointing at the man holding the phone.  “No pictures at a crime scene.  Show some respect.”

“Are you saying someone bit her on the neck?” the man asked.  “My blog followers are going to love this!”

Selina looked at the man, who was wearing a long, dark overcoat and realized he was probably one of the Steampunk bloggers attending the convention.  As she turned to go back into the club, she hoped he had merely taken a picture of the crime scene and not one of her.

 

Chapter 2

Selina walked back into the office and looked at Isabella.  “Let’s drop Jeremy off, then we’ll tell the others what happened after we get home.”

Isabella nodded and walked over, gently shaking Jeremy’s arm.  He was sleeping on the black leather sofa against one wall of the office.  Selina walked past him and through the doorway to her private quarters.

The old storage rooms had been reworked into a marvelous living space and it was one reason they had purchased this particular property.  It was perfect for the nights they didn’t want to drive all the way out to Port Townsend.

Selina looked over at the living area as she walked past it on her way to the bedroom.  It was still one of her favorite spaces, she realized.  All velvet and dark colors, which was typical of Victorian design and a mahogany fireplace on one wall with bookcases on each side.

Walking into her bedroom, she picked up her purse and a few other items, which she’d rather the police didn’t find if they decided to search the property.  She doubted it would happen, but best to be prepared.

As Selina walked back into the office, she said, “Isabella, did you phone for the car?”

“Yes,” Isabella replied.  “I didn’t think you’d want to drive tonight.  It’s already after three.”

Selina nodded.  “Let’s go out the main entrance.  There’s no reason to go back through the alley.”  And no need to be around any other social media types, she thought to herself.

Jeremy grabbed the gray duffel bag he’d brought in that night.  “I’ll need this for tomorrow,” he said, referring to his day job as a coach’s assistant.

“Are you sure you’re up for it?” Selina asked, concerned.

“I’ll be fine,” he replied.  “It was just unexpected.  I really thought she was asleep,” he added, referring to the dead girl.

“The car should be here any minute,” Selina said as they walked up the front staircase.  “There are a few things we should discuss on the way home.”

They walked out the front entrance and over to the black Mercedes town car.  “We’d like some privacy,” Selina said to the chauffeur as she got in.

He nodded and put up the glass divider before they pulled away from the curb.  Selina looked over at the flashing lights and saw more people standing around.  “This is going to be all over the news,” she said, quietly.  “The girl lost a lot of blood, when she was killed and it obviously didn’t happen behind our club.  There was no blood at the scene as you both know.”

She hesitated for a moment, then continued.  “There were also two small holes or puncture marks on the side of her neck.  No one noticed them until they moved her body.”

Isabella stiffened slightly as Jeremy looked confused.  “Why would anyone do that?” he asked.  “Were they trying to make it look like a vampire attacked her?”  He shook his head.  “What a pervert.  He, um, he didn’t….”

Selina shook her head.  “I don’t think so, Jeremy.  Her dress was not torn, but we won’t know any other details until the police release them.”

“Here’s your stop,” Isabella said.  “Have a cup of tea and get some sleep.  You’ll feel better in the morning.”

Jeremy looked over at Selina, then back at Isabella.  “I was thinking of something a little stronger than tea.  I’ll see you both tomorrow night.”

As he got out of the car and walked up to his apartment building, Selina looked at Isabella.  “This is going to be trouble.”

Isabella nodded.  “I know.”

 

The next afternoon, Selina walked down the stairs of their Victorian home and through the small parlor into the dining room.  The girls were already eating lunch and watching the news.  One of them had brought in their laptop.

“There she is,” Annalise said, looking up at Selina.  “Show her.”

Genevieve nodded and started the video clip again.  “It was all over the news this morning,” she said, quietly.

Michela walked over and handed Selina a cup of coffee as she sat down to watch the clip.

“This is from our correspondent in Seattle, Washington.  Last night, a young woman was attacked and murdered by what might be a vampire.  If not, it’s someone trying to frame one of the undead.”  The man laughed, which Selina found totally inappropriate.

“And this one…” Genevieve said, tapping a button and brushing her auburn bangs out of her eyes.

“Downtown Seattle’s Pioneer Square was the scene of a vicious and deadly attack by a vampire or an individual with serious mental and emotional problems.  Police are advising all people, especially young women, to travel in groups and not walk alone until this killer is found.”  The woman reporter added a bit breathlessly, “The Count may not be satisfied with just one victim.”

Michela rolled her eyes.  “Seriously?  What happened to real reporting?”

Annalise looked at Isabella.  “This isn’t good.”

Isabella walked over and pushed one of the buttons.  “It gets worse, Selina.”

“The body of a young woman was found behind a Seattle nightclub last night.  Apparently, the victim of a vampire attack, which yours truly captured in these amazing photos.”  There was a photo of the young woman and what seemed to be Detective Wright’s hand, grabbing at the phone.  Then, they showed a photo of Selina in the black lace dress.  “This is the owner of Luna’s, a club that caters to the weird and perverse nightlife of Seattle.”

“What?” exclaimed Michela.  “We might be a little weird, but we don’t allow any perverts into our club.  Not knowingly anyway.”

“There’s a bigger issue,” Isabella said, “and what are we going to do about it?”

“Hope that no one pays any attention and it all blows over,” Selina replied, looking at the laptop.  “The likelihood of this story being seen outside of Seattle is remote, is it not?”

“Seriously, Selina,” Annalise said, then shook her head, blonde curls bouncing.  “You need to get with the 2017 technology.  This blog has gone viral.”

Selina looked down at the table, then back up at her girls.  “I don’t see that we have any other choice.  We’ll go to work as we always do and hope that no one who matters saw the blog.”

The girls looked at each other, then at Selina, who forced a smile and went back upstairs to get dressed.

“Nice one, Anna,” Michela whispered as she followed Selina out of the room.

 

Michela sat on the edge of Selina’s bed, watching her go through the clothes in her armoire.  She had thought that armoire was like something out of a fairytale, when she was little.

“What are you going to do?” Michela asked.

“Exactly what I said downstairs,” Selina replied.  “Go about our business as usual.  The chances of anyone seeing that blog in Europe have got to be pretty low.”

Michela knew Selina said that more for her benefit than any real conviction.  “Always trying to protect us,” she said, walking over and hugging her, “but we’re not little girls anymore.  And we can fight if necessary.”

“No,” Selina replied firmly. “Absolutely not.  If it comes to that, we’ll relocate.  I won’t have you girls taking any unnecessary risks.”

“They won’t want to leave,” Michela said, looking down at the floor, then running a hand through her black hair.  “You know how long it took us to find this place.”

Selina smiled and gently put a hand on each side of Michela’s face.  “There are many, many places we can go.  We don’t have to work, but if we stop now, we’ll only look guilty.”  She paused.  “However, I will liquidate some of our investments.”

Michela nodded.  “Probably for the best.  I’ll start looking online for another location to get some idea what’s available.”

“Still my little helper.”  Selina smiled.  “The oldest of my girls and always the one to look out for the others.”

Michela glanced back at the armoire.  “Wear the dark blue dress.  You’ll look beautiful and it’s less severe than the black.”

Selina nodded.  “I think you’re right,” she said, seriously.  “Blue will make all the difference.”

Michela rolled her eyes and smiled as she walked out of the room.

 

When they got to the club, there was already a crowd by the front door.  They weren’t going to be open for another hour, so they assumed it was all the talk about the murder.  The police tape was still up, separating the crime scene from the rest of the alley.  And there were two new security cameras installed above the door that Selina had ordered that afternoon.

As they got out of the town car, Selina and the girls walked through the back door into the club.  No one bothered them, but the phones were ringing, when they got down the stairs.

“I’ll get it,” said Isabella.  “I’m assuming our response is no comment?” she asked.

Selina smiled.  “Good guess.”

Genevieve started setting up the bar.  As she was the head bartender, she would take care of everything until David showed up to man the other side.

Annalise walked up.  “Brandon left a message saying he’ll be in early.  He saw the line outside on TV a few minutes ago.”

“Good,” replied Genevieve.  “You’ll need help with the tables.”

Selina walked over as they were talking.  “Anna, call Marcus and ask him to come in early, too.  Michela and Jeremy are going to need him with this crowd.”

Selina looked over at the stairs as Detectives Fuentes and Wright walked down.  “I hope you don’t mind, but we have a few more questions,” Maria said.  “Your back door was unlocked, so we thought we’d try to get this done before you open.”

Selina nodded.  “Why don’t you come into my office?”

She looked at the girls and smiled as the detectives followed her over to the door by the bar.  “If you need anything, call me,” Selina said as she closed the door.

Isabella shook her head as she listened to the last phone message.  “They’re all asking the same thing,” she said to Genevieve.  “Do we serve any blood with our Bloody Mary?”

“Oh, that’s tacky,” Genevieve replied, wrinkling her nose.  “Maybe we should take it off the menu tonight.”

“No, leave it on,” Isabella said.  “We’ll ask Selina, when she comes back out.”  They looked over at the office door, then back at each other.  “Time to get to work,” Isabella said.

 

Selina closed the door and indicated that the detectives should sit on the sofa.  She sat across from them in one of the chairs that could be turned towards her desk or the seating area.  “How may I help you?” she asked.

Detective Wright looked at his partner, then over at Selina.  “We found out the girl was at another club last night with two of her friends.  She decided to walk back to the hotel by herself.”

“Not a smart idea,” Detective Fuentes said, “but usually more of a mugging risk than murder.  Especially in this neighborhood.”

Selina waited to see what they wanted to ask her.  Maria noticed she didn’t ask any questions, but waited to be asked.  Careful, she thought.

“We were wondering if you had any thoughts as to why someone would leave a body behind your club?” Nate asked, trying to ignore how beautiful Selina looked in the dark blue dress.

“I have no idea,” Selina answered, truthfully.

“The hotel is a few blocks from here,” Maria said, nonchalantly.  “But the thing is…your club is not on the path between her hotel and the other club.”

“It makes us wonder,” Nate asked, “why the detour?”

Selina looked down at the table, then back up at the detectives.  “Do you suspect me or a member of my staff?”

Maria was surprised by her direct approach.  “Honestly, we don’t know at this time why she changed course.  Or if she was left here for some other reason.”

“I see,” Selina replied.  “My nieces and our other employees are all intelligent, hard-working people.  They are also smart enough not to leave a body at our back door.”  As the detectives exchanged a glance, Selina added, “And none of them have a reason to make me a suspect either.”

Nate looked over at Maria.  She’d anticipated almost every one of their questions.  “We appreciate you being so frank, Miss Bellerose,” he said.  “Can you think of anyone outside of the club, who might have a motive?”

“A jilted boyfriend, a competitor, someone with a personal grudge?” Maria asked.

Selina shook her head.  “There is no boyfriend, I don’t know of anyone that has a personal grudge against me…and no competitors with this type of issue.”

“Any other club owners, who might want to make you look bad?” Nate asked.  “One, who might dump the body here if he found it in another location?”

Selina hesitated.  “Honestly, the only person we’ve had trouble with is Lou Williams, the owner of the Emerald City Blues Club.  And that was nothing really.”  She looked at the detectives.  “He claimed our clientele was scaring off his regulars.”

“You’re probably not the only one since he’s in the center of three other music and dancing clubs as well as the alternative club down the street,” Maria said, causing Nate to raise an eyebrow.  “I’ve been working this area a long time,” she replied.

Selina hid a smile, then continued.  “The only other problem we’ve had is with a few of the neighbors.  One walks his dog in the evenings and said we’re responsible for the neighborhood ‘going to hell’ as he put it.”  She paused.  “The other seems to be an artist of some sort, but I don’t know much about him.”

Nate nodded, writing down the information.  “Do you know their names?” he asked.

“I believe the one with the dog is Mr. Jones and the artist is Mr. Paulsen.  I don’t know their first names,” Selina replied.  “If that’s everything, we open in fifteen minutes.”

Maria stood up.  “Again, we appreciate your help, Miss Bellerose.”

Nate glanced around the office as he got up.  Nice, he thought, even if it was a little more traditional than his taste.  “One more question,” he said, walking towards the door.  “Do you have any idea how that blogger found out about the murder last night?”

Selina shook her head.  “No, I do not.  The last thing we need is this kind of publicity.”

Maria wondered about that, but nodded and walked out of the office.  Nate followed her as Selina escorted them back upstairs.

When they opened the door to the alley, an African-American man in his early 40s stood there, looking very upset.  “I told you this club is scaring off my customers!” Lou Williams exclaimed, angrily.  “You need to think about closing this place and moving to another location.  My blues club was here first!”

“Did you just threaten Miss Bellerose?” Nate asked, taking a step towards the man.

“I’m Detective Fuentes with the Seattle PD,” Maria said, “and I would encourage you to go back to your own club, sir.”

Lou Williams glared at Selina and stalked off.  “Maybe a little more upset than I realized,” Selina said, looking over at Nate and smiling.

As she turned and went back into the club, Maria tried not to laugh at Nate’s expression.  “Calm down, Romeo.  She’s still a suspect even if not a very likely one.”

Nate nodded and followed Maria back to their car.  As they got in, a dark gray Maserati Gran Turismo pulled into the alley and a man got out.  He was tall, had dark hair and was wearing a long, gray coat.  Nate got out of the sedan and walked over to him.  “Can I help you?” he asked.  “This is still a crime scene.  No tourists allowed.”

“I’m here on official business,” the man said, reaching into his coat.  As Nate’s hand moved closer to his jacket, the man smiled.  “Relax, just showing you my credentials.”

Nate looked at the Interpol identification and asked, “What’s Interpol’s interest in the case?  It seems unusual that a murder in Pioneer Square would draw this kind of international attention.”

“My name is Damian Salvadori,” the man said, “and I’m here because your case…I assume this is your case?”  When Nate nodded in agreement, Damian continued.  “It’s very similar to three cases we’ve had in Europe over the past six months.”

Nate took a step back.  “Did the victims have the same marks?”

“Similar, but not exact,” Damian replied.  “That’s why I’m in Seattle to see for myself.”

Maria walked up.  “What’s all the excitement?”

“Mr. Salvadori is from Interpol,” Nate replied, looking over at Damian.

“I see,” said Maria, nodding.  “And do you have anything besides the badge to show us that you really are, who you say you are?”

Damian smiled.  “Of course.  Let me get my file.”  As he reached into the car, Nate took a long look at the Maserati and thought how much he’d like to drive a car like that.  He didn’t realize Interpol paid so well.

Maria was also looking at the car, knowing that Interpol did not pay that well.  “Thank you,” she said as Damian handed her the paperwork.  “I appreciate you showing me your credentials.”

Damian nodded.  “You’re the first one in the States, who has asked to see them.”

Nate looked at the ground as Maria glanced over at the Maserati.  “Nice car,” she observed.  “Is this standard Interpol issue?”

“Not exactly,” Damian said, looking somewhat amused.  “I upgraded my vehicle since I have a little of my own money.  Now, is there anything else you’d like to know?”  Suddenly, the humor was gone and Maria saw a much more serious look in his eyes.

“No, I think I’ve seen everything I need to see.  Thank you, Mr. Salvadori.”  Maria tapped Nate on the shoulder as she headed back to their sedan.  Nate took one last appreciative look at the Maserati, then followed her.

 

Chapter 3

Damian walked down the stairs into the club.  He’d discovered the back door was unlocked after looking around the crime scene.  Not much to see in his opinion.  Hopefully, talking to the people who had found the body would clear up some of the details.

“You can’t come in this way,” said a young man, walking over to him.  He was tall, had blond hair and walked with a casual stride.  His brown slacks, white shirt and brown vest with antique brass buttons made it obvious he was an employee.

“Relax,” Damian said, pulling out his identification.  “I’m with Interpol and I have some questions about the murder last night.”

“You’ll need to talk to Selina,” the young man said.  “I’ll see if she’s available.”

Damian walked over to the bar and sat down.  He looked around at the fireplace and cozy seating, nodding approvingly.  Turning back to the bar, a short, very cute girl was pouring drinks.  She had red hair, a great smile and wore the same kind of outfit as the other employee.  “What can I get you?” she asked.

“I’ll take a whiskey, neat,” he said.  “Irish if you have it.”

Genevieve nodded.  “Brandon will be right back,” she said as she slid the drink over to him.  The girl didn’t miss much, Damian thought to himself.

He looked around the bar, while he waited to see this Selina.  He assumed she was the owner, although the club was named Luna’s.  Damian glanced at his watch wondering what was taking so long, when he heard someone say, “May I help you?”

He turned to see a beautiful woman in a dark blue dress.  She had long, brown hair with bits of fire shimmering through it.  Her eyes were golden brown and seemed to sparkle in the vintage lighting of the bar.

“Damian Salvadori, Interpol,” Damian said.  “You must be the owner?”

She smiled, but her eyes stayed serious.  “Selina Bellerose,” she replied, “and yes, I am the owner.  We’re about to open, so if you have any questions, perhaps we should speak in my office.”  He looked over and saw some customers walking down the front stairs.

“That would be fine,” Damian said.  “Nice place,” he added as they walked through the door into her office.

“Thank you,” she replied, indicating the sofa, but he sat in one of the chairs.  Selina decided to take the sofa and looked over at him.  He was very handsome, but there was something about him that put her on edge.  “Would you like any coffee…or just the whiskey?” she asked with a touch of sarcasm.

“Whiskey is fine,” Damian said.  “You really are a beautiful woman, but you know that don’t you?”  He paused.  “I don’t trust beautiful women.”

“That’s alright because I don’t trust men, who tell me I’m beautiful,” Selina replied.  “Did you have any other questions for me?  It’s going to be a very busy night.”

“Murder is good for business, is it?” Damian asked, not sure why he was being so confrontational.  She had him feeling slightly off center and he didn’t like it.

“All publicity, good or bad, seems to bring in more business,” Selina replied, “at first.  That doesn’t mean I enjoy the type of media circus that is going on outside my club.”  She looked at him more closely.  “Why are you here, Mr. Salvadori?  Surely, one murder in Seattle is hardly enough to interest Interpol?”

He noticed she had a very slight, French accent.  “You’ve lived in Seattle for a long time?” he asked.

“Three years,” she replied.  “And again, why does this case interest Interpol if I may ask?”

Damian stared into her eyes for a moment, then looked down at the table.  “We’ve had three other cases in the past six months, which were similar to this one.  Someone murdered those young women, then tried to make it look as though a vampire had done it.”

Selina shook her head.  “There is no such thing as a vampire, so why would someone do that?”

“There are many things that exist all around us, whether we realize it or not,” Damian replied.

Selina wasn’t sure how to respond to that, so she looked at her watch.  “If there’s nothing else, I really do need to get back to work.”

Damian looked around her office.  “Your entire club has no windows.  At least, none that I’ve seen, which seems rather odd.”

“We are in a basement,” Selina said, looking at him as if he were a bit dense.  “We don’t have windows, but we do have emergency access areas and two sets of stairs into the main club.”

“And where are the emergency access areas?” Damian asked, innocently.

Selina had finally run out of patience.  “Get a warrant and I’ll show you.  Otherwise, I need to get to work.  Good night, Mr. Salvadori.”

Damian smiled and walked out of the office.  She followed him to the front stairs and watched him walk up, then went back to the bar.  It was going to be a long night.

Read the rest of the story right now!  https://www.amazon.com/Moonlight-Roses-Murder-Paranormal-Suspense-ebook/dp/B06Y1FTL51
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