Hotel bar surveillance had to be among the most boring duties Niles Gule was expected to undertake. Because he was on duty, he couldn’t drink so he nursed a glass of ginger ale and pretended to be a businessman whiling away his off hours. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. For something to happen. Police officer Jonas Williams was also under cover, tending bar. He’d volunteered when he’d learned Niles had been loaned out to vice for the night. The big man considered watching Niles stake out hookers hilarious so he jumped at the request for additional officers.
He was occupied at least, Niles thought. The bar had a steady stream of patrons both at the bar itself and throughout the room. Additional people came and went from what appeared to be a convention in one of the hotel ballrooms. People with name tags would drift into the bar, place an order, eye the various individuals sitting around, and drift out again, usually alone, but sometimes not.
Vice. Niles muttered into his ginger ale. Ridiculous. He was a vampire. With the keen instincts of a top predator. With the exquisite eyesight of a night hunter. But instead of working murder investigations, the Baltimore police had him working a prostitution sting. It was humiliating.
Williams leaned over the bar as he pretended to take another order from Niles. “Seen anything with those laser-like eyes of yours?”
Niles snorted. The bar was well lit. Vice didn’t need a vampire’s eyesight on this job. He suspected what they’d really wanted was his looks. Niles, like most of his vampire brethren, was tall, lithe and handsome. His blond hair shimmered with golden highlights. His blue eyes gleamed like a Montana sky. And unlike most of his fellow officers on the Baltimore PD, Niles was a wealthy man who always dressed the part. That evening in his role as a businessman, he wore a custom tailored Saville Row suit of black with a cream silk vest and navy tie. His Italian leather shoes were carefully polished and his gold cufflinks winked in the lights. Unfortunately, however, no hookers had hooked him.
“It’s going to be a long night,” Niles sighed. He planted his chin on his fist.
Williams’ gray eyes twinkled as he winked at Niles. “Maybe not. Here comes something.” He backed away and pretended to clean a glass.
A stunning blond glided up to the bar. Like most of the others who’d come and gone, she wore a name tag that declared My Name is Jane. Instead of ordering anything, however, she flicked her hazel eyes up down Niles’ long form and twitched her ruby-red lips.
“Well hello, handsome,” she murmured. Her voice was rich and deep like a Hollywood siren of the nineteen fifties. “A pretty thing like you shouldn’t be alone.”
Niles smiled encouragement. “No? Got any better ideas?”
Her smile deepened. With a delicate hand manicured with jewels on each nail, she placed a small circlet of multicolored charms beside Niles’ glass. As she turned away, she ran her finger across his cheek. With a seductive saunter, she swayed out of the bar.
“What the hell was that?” Williams demanded. His eyes were staring at that luscious derriere as it shimmied into the ballroom next door.
“Not a hooker,” Niles replied, fingering the charm. He wondered what it meant. The woman had seemed to think he’d understand. “She’s part of that convention. I don’t think hookers have conventions.”
“If they do, I want to be invited!” Williams’ eyes were round orbs. “Maybe it’s an escort’s convention. High priced hookers.”
“She didn’t offer up a price.” Niles flicked the charm with a finger.
Williams considered the charm. “A couple of those people from the ballroom have been handing those things out. What are they?”
Niles shrugged. He toyed with the beads while he pondered possibilities.
The night went on. People left the ballroom, usually in groups of two or three, and headed for the elevators. Others, generally single, came into the bar. Some offered charms seemingly at random before wandering back to their convention. One, a stunning black gentleman wearing golf togs, also left a charm next to Niles’ glass after he’d ordered and received a rum and coke. He winked as he turned away.
“I feel like we’re in the Twilight Zone,” Williams muttered. “These people are giving me the creeps.”
From the occasional chatter on the radio, Niles assumed the man in charge of the sting operation was growing annoyed. Around two in the morning he finally called a halt to the sting. With a grumble, Williams tore off his mic and apron then rounded the bar to flop next to Niles.
“That was a waste of a night.” He downed a glass of club soda to wash away his disgust.
When Williams jerked, Niles turned. Another man had wandered into the bar from the ballroom. Niles blinked when he realized it was Williams’ partner, Walter Cooksey. The little, balding man wove through the tables, eyeing the few people who remained. When he saw Niles and Williams, he froze. His pudgy face went white and he stumbled. Niles half rose to help him, but Cooksey grabbed a chair and righted himself. Plastering on an insincere smile, he cruised up to the bar.
“Fancy meeting you here!” His voice sounded falsely cheerful. His eyes narrowed. “What are you doing here?”
Williams waved a disgusted hand. “We volunteered for vice.”
“Vice?” Cooksey’s voice was a squeak.
“A prostitution sting,” Niles said. “With no results.”
The little man eased and his smile grew less tremulous. “Oh well. That explains it.” He blinked when he saw the two charms next to Niles’ drink. His dark eyes shot up to capture Niles’ blue ones.
“You?” he whispered.
Niles fingered the charms while he considered how to respond. Vampires could entrance humans with just a look when they wanted to. Niles ordinarily forbade himself from using that dastardly little trick but just this once he decided the situation called for it. He allowed his eyes to grow warm and a sensuous smile to curve his lips. “Maybe. Thinking about it.”
Cooksey stammered. He blinked rapidly. Unable to speak, he stumbled from the bar.
Niles watched as the little man didn’t return to the ballroom. Instead he raced for the lobby doors.
“What the hell was that about?” Williams demanded.
Niles continued to play with the charms, his smug smile still in place. He decided he couldn’t tell Williams. Poor Cooksey had enough problems without his partner knowing he was a member of a swinger’s club. Niles cringed at the thought. Little, fat, balding Cooksey. A swinger. Egad!
He picked up the charms and tossed them in his palm. “It’s a game, Williams. He who has the most charms at the end of the night wins.”
Laughing, Niles climbed from his bar stood.
He handed Williams the charms.
© 2017 Newmin
Niles comments: I’d like to give a shout out to Jane for revealing the secret of this little club. Perhaps next time, lovely lady?