When I was working on the Dark Days series, I knew that I needed to give my nightwalkers and lycanthropes a safe place to kind of kick back, relax, have some fun and simply be themselves. The Dark Room became that spot in their world while they were in Savannah. I’ll admit that I can’t clearly remember when I wrote this short story but I believe that it is set around the last couple books. I thought I would share it today. Unfortunately, Stefan doesn’t make an appearance in this short story, but you do get a taste of his world.
Also, you can learn more about the Dark Days series here. And you can learn more about Stefan and the Lost Nights series here. Don’t worry, I’ll have more news soon. Just enjoy today’s little taste of fun and silliness.
A Night at the Dark Room
I bit off the curse perched on the tip of my tongue as I pulled into the small parking lot near the Dark Room. I cursed Knox for the fourth time since his phone call as he had refused to explain why it was absolutely necessary for me to stop by the night club. I assumed that there was trouble, but he was usually more forthcoming with information. Passing by the Dark Room, I saw that the line to enter the club had already stretched down the block and the sun had set less than ninety minutes ago. Why the hell was everyone at the club?
Quickly climbing out of the convertible, I walked to the front of the club, wanting to get a better look at the crowd before I entered. I paused on the sidewalk, gazing down the line. I recognized most of the faces. It looked as if nearly every nightwalker in Savannah was there along with most of the Savannah Pack. Strangely, there were a lot of nightwalkers that I didn’t recognize in line. I knew every nightwalker in Savannah by sight. At least, I thought I did. Was this why Knox had demanded I come downtown?
Frowning, I slipped into the club, nodding to the pair of bouncers standing in the doorway, blocking the way. Looking over the club, I was surprised to find that the floor plan had been rearranged to include a small stage and large TV monitors along with a control booth. There was still a dance floor, but many of the tables had been moved so that people could easily see the stage.
My head snapped around toward the sound of my name to see Knox walking toward me from a booth that exuded nightwalker power. Lots of it. It was then that I caught sight of Danaus standing with his arms folded over his chest as he talked to Barrett at another table. The hunter was wearing a pair of black cargo pants with a black T-shirt that stretched across thick muscles. He also had several knives strapped to his body, ready for trouble. Danaus usually didn’t come so heavily armed when working at the Dark Room, but then there were more people here than usual.
“We’re about to get started. I just wanted to get our special guests settled,” Knox announced when he was standing beside me.
“Special guests? What the hell is going on? Why are so many here tonight?” I demanded, motioning toward the front door.
Knox actually looked hurt by the question. “You forgot,” he murmured, but quickly shook it off. “Tonight’s the first night of karaoke.”
“What? Are you kidding me? Everyone is here for … karaoke?”
“Things have been bad. Morale is low; everyone is scared with Aurora running around loose. I thought this might help everyone relax before someone does something stupid.”
I clamped my mouth shut, silencing all the doubts that were bubbling up. Knox’s intentions were good and I was grateful for the attempt to keep a lid on things here in Savannah, but I mean, it’s just karaoke. Did he honestly think a bunch of nightwalkers and lycanthropes singing songs badly was going to keep things from getting too tense? One look in his wide brown eyes told me yes, he did.
“Keepers from the Charlotte, Cincinnati, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Chicago domains. I’ve been advertising for two weeks and they heard about the idea. They came to check it out; though I’m sure they would like a word or two with you.”
“I guess that’s why there’re so many nightwalkers out there that I don’t recognize.”
Knox flashed me a wide grin that revealed his sharp white fangs. “Everyone’s curious. The Dark Room is unique and no one but the humans is doing karaoke.”
“Great,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic. I was just worried. This night was filled with a lot of unknowns, which wasn’t good when it came to the instincts of nightwalkers and lycanthropes. “I’d start letting people in. The natives are getting restless. I’m going to go say hi to Barrett and his table before moving on to the Keepers.”
“I’ll catch you later,” Knox said, patting me on the shoulder as I turned away from him. “Oh! I guess you also forgot about your promise.”
I halted mid-stride and twisted around to look at him through narrowed eyes. “What promise?”
“This is also a contest. You promised to go out on a date with the winner if it’s a guy.”
I clenched my eyes shut and gritted my teeth, holding back a string of curses. I had agreed to that, but only because Knox had called just before sunrise. I had been eager to get off the phone. I would have agreed to anything.
“And if it’s a female who wins?” I asked in a low voice.
“You said you’d get Danaus to agree to be the prize.”
“Knox!” I screeched then winced as my voice cut through the silence. Danaus was going to stake me.
“You promised!” Knox said then rushed to the front door before I could argue.
I turned around to find Danaus watching me with a questioning look on his face. I flashed him a weak smile and hurried over to the Alpha’s table before he could catch me. Danaus was definitely going to stake me.
“Barrett, it’s great to see you, but I wasn’t expecting to find you so interested in karaoke,” I said as I slid into his booth next to his younger brother Cooper.
The Savannah Pack Alpha frowned at me, his copperish-brown eyes narrowing slightly. “I’m not, but my sister Erica loves to sing. Cooper and I are here merely as chaperones.”
Barrett’s younger sister sat next to him, stirring her straw around in her soft drink. She rolled her eyes at his comment and it was all I could do to stifle my chuckle. Barrett was being a bit overprotective since everyone in the city knew who she was and that Barrett would rip them apart if anything happened to her. She may be more than twenty years old, but Barrett would keep a tight grip on her until she was married.
“Do you have any songs picked out yet?” I asked, trying to pull her out of her mope.
“A few,” she admitted, straightening when she looked up at me. “Knox was nice enough to let me look at the song list book before he opened the doors. I asked him to let me go third or fourth. I really don’t want to be first.”
“Do you know if James is coming back to Savannah?” she asked, surprising me. Barrett glared at her, but she only glared back at him. “My brother won’t give me a straight answer.”
The Themis researcher had recently discovered that he was a lycanthrope by birth and Barrett had helped him with his first few shifts, but James had soon returned to London and Themis. Apparently, the polite young man had made an impression.
“I honestly don’t know. I haven’t heard from him since he returned to London, but I’ll see if Danaus can check in on him,” I offered.
“Mira…” Barrett said with a warning growl.
“Thanks!” Erica said, flashing me a bright smile.
Waving to everyone, I slid out of the booth and walked to the large circular booth where the various domain Keepers were seated, talking softly and looking very stiff. The Keepers were the heads of the various cities and, in my experience, powerful nightwalkers generally didn’t get along with each other. However, it looked like everyone was willing to put their concerns aside for one night. Just before sliding into the booth, I noticed that a crowd of people were now pouring into the night club, chatting happily as they hurried to seats or the front control booth. There were no humans. Apparently, Knox was keeping this a very exclusive event. All the nightwalkers would have fed before coming to the Dark Room.
Plastering a smile on my face, I greeted the other Keepers and attempted to keep conversation light as the nightwalker handling the karaoke started some dance music.
Conversation flowed around the Keeper booth for several minutes before my head jerked up at the sound of Knox’s voice over the speakers. My second-in-command was standing in the middle the stage dressed in black slacks and a dark red button-up shirt that was open at the throat. The nightwalker oozed casual charm and confidence, but then he was sired by Valerio and Valerio was always charming and confident. Knox welcomed everyone to the Dark Room, quickly reviewed all the club rules for the newcomers, before launching into an explanation of the rules for the karaoke contest. I was grateful that he didn’t mention the prizes. I still had to talk to Danaus.
And then to my utter shock, Knox kicked off the karaoke extravaganza by singing the first song. My mouth fell open. He had chosen “Porn Star Dancing” by My Darkest Days. I didn’t know what was most disturbing: his song choice, the fact that he knew the song by heart because he wasn’t using any of the monitors stationed around the stage, or that he was good. Really, really good. My mouth shut when a feminine squeal cut the air and nearly every girl in the club rushed to the dance floor to start dancing.
Sliding down in my seat, I laughed. Knox had effectively cut the last of the tension hanging in the air. It was really hard to be anxious when one sexy guy is singing about a stripper pole while a bunch of beautiful women laughed and gyrated on the dance floor.
For the rest of the night, my eyes rarely left the stage. The table I sat at was mostly quiet except for the occasional joking comment. Knox was followed by another nightwalker that belted out an impressive impersonation of Axel Rose as he sang “Sweet Child O’ Mine” while another did a fair job of “Don’t Fear The Reaper.” I couldn’t help but laugh when a lycan performed “Bad Moon Rising.” But the crowd went crazy at Erica’s performance of Shakira’s “She Wolf.” The young woman was really talented.
The night wore on quickly and I watched the nightwalkers and lycanthropes interacting. The tension between the two races had always been thick as each kept to their own, but tonight was different. I saw lycans and nightwalkers sitting together at the same table, laughing and talking. Hell, there was a nightwalker and lycanthrope that performed the duet “Summer Nights” from Grease. The songs ranged all over the place from Poison to Garth Brooks to the Violent Femmes to the Spice Girls.
A young nightwalker named Amanda wandered over to the booth I was sitting in near the end of the night. Her long blond hair was tangled and her eyes were bright after spending most of the night dancing. I smiled up at her. She had spent time dancing with another young nightwalker named Joseph, which was nice. I hadn’t seen much of her since returning with Tristan from Venice in the winter.
“Mira, are you going to do a song?” she demanded.
“I don’t think so,” I said with a shake of my head.
“Please, everyone would so love it!”
I frowned and looked down at my watch. There was just over an hour until sunrise. The club would be closing soon. This was my last chance if I was going to do it. After seeing everyone clap and cheer and laugh all night, I had been debating it.
Turning back to my companions in the booth, I excused myself and Amanda squealed with delight. I ignored the young nightwalker as I sidled through the crowd to the control booth. Leaning over, I whispered my selection in the host’s ear and he handed me the microphone as soon as the current performer finished. The murmur that had followed me to the booth turned into a loud cheer as I stepped onto the stage. I said nothing, only nodded to the host to start the song. I smiled as the bass drum thumped through the speakers in a driving beat. By the time I roared the opening line of “Burn It To The Ground” by Nickelback, the crowd was on its feet. By the middle of the song, I could no longer hear myself because everyone was singing along.
At the close of the song, I dropped my head back and laughed. Knox had been right. This was a brilliant idea. Not only had it pulled everyone together for a brief escape from the looming threat, but it had proven to be quite cathartic. Most of the songs sung were either a tongue-in-cheek joke about their lot in life (like the lycanthropes singing every song involving wolves or the moon) or they were about surviving and overcoming dark odds. You finished the night feeling lighter and slightly empowered.
Knox joined me on the stage as everyone clapped and shouted. Wrapping one arm around my shoulders to hold me in place, Knox launched into one final song, leading the entire crowd in an enthusiastic rendition of “I Will Survive.”
“I hate to announce that the sun will be rising soon and the Dark Room will be closing in about fifteen minutes,” Knox announced as soon as the noise died down following the song. “But I would like to announce the winner of our first karaoke contest. Please remember that the winner has to still be here to claim the prize.”
I quickly searched the room for Erica and her brothers. She was fantastic and if she won, Danaus would be more tolerable because the date could be at Barrett’s restaurant, Bella Luna, where the Alpha could watch over his sister and Danaus wouldn’t kill me. Unfortunately, she was gone. Barrett had apparently taken his sister home already. I quickly switched my prayers to pleading with God that it would be a male winner. That way Danaus would never have to know he was a potential prize.
“And the winner is … Rachel! Congratulations, Rachel! Your prize is a date with the charming and dashing Danaus!” Knox announced, throwing his arm open toward the hunter, who was standing near the back wall so he could watch over the club.
MIRA! Danaus’s angry voice slashed painfully through my mind, causing me to flinch. I wasn’t brave enough to look over at him. I knew without a doubt, Danaus was going to stake me.