It had been a few weeks, and I hadn’t travelled outside of the bayou yet. I preferred being around nature, but I was growing bored with not doing anything. I was used to moving from place to place, never really staying anywhere for more than a few days. Part of me wanted to leave this place behind and ignore my brother altogether, but there was the pull that just kept convincing me to stay.
“Go have fun, Brother,” Alo said as he appeared before me. I raised my head and looked him in the eyes. “I know it isn’t something you know how to do very well, but anything would be better than watching you wallow in self-pity all day, every day.”
My nose twitched, and I snarled at him. “And just what do you propose I do, Brother?”
He smirked at me. I knew that smirk. “Go to the place they call Aces. You’ll know who you’re looking for when you get there.” As the last words left his mouth, Alo disappeared.
I rolled my eyes and flopped back on my bed, blowing stray strands of black hair out of my face. Alo was right. I needed to get out, get away from the bayou, and interact with people. Gross. I sighed and sat up. I would need to explore New Orleans and find Aces.
I rolled my shoulders, feeling the muscles tighten and then relax. I focused on the image of an owl and shifted. My bones broke and reformed as ligaments detached and reattached. It was so smooth, and the shift didn’t hurt. I liked this place. I have felt no pain while shifting since being here.
I stretched my wings and lifted myself off the ground. I left through the open window of my cabin and flew into the sky. I soared high above the bayou, flowing with the current of the wind. Flying was so freeing, the thing I enjoyed most. Almost to the outskirts of the city, I got lower to the ground to get a good look around.
As I dove through Iberville street, I came across a flashy building with a line out the door. On a flashing sign above the door was Aces. This was the place. I landed in a dark alley and shifted back into my human form. I stroked my clean-shaven chin as I looked around. I really didn’t want to wait in that line.
My lips curved in a smile as an idea came to my mind. I interlocked my fingers and pushed them outward, each knuckle emitting a tiny crackle. My bones shrank as I began shifting, taking on the form of a much smaller creature.
As a mouse, I scurried around the corner of the building. I weaved in and out of the feet of the forty people waiting in line to get into the club. I came up to the front door and made my way off to the side of it. As soon as the bouncer opened the door for the next entrants, I made my way through the gap and into the bathroom.
I shifted back into my human form and rolled my neck. I shifted my ears to drown out as much of the obnoxiously loud music as possible. Once the noise level was acceptable, I strolled out of the bathroom and made my way to the main room.
A long, black runway, sporting three poles, was the focal point of the room. Red lights flashed highlighting it and the smaller stages set up around the club, each with their own dancer.
The music died down as the dancers finished their dances. I made my way to the main stage. A large seventy-inch television hung behind it. Advertisements for local businesses scrolled across the screen as more dancers made their way to the runway. The new main stage dancer came up the white steps on the side of the black stage and instantly caught my attention with her sparkling silver outfit. The tiny sequins almost reminded me of scales flowing down her body.
Her wavy brown hair flowed down her back. I looked up at her, not just because she was on the stage, but she stood a few inches taller than me. There was something in her eyes that stood out to me, though. They weren’t human. They had a hint of an animal hidden deep within the confines of her eye’s hidden chambers. I wanted to know more. “Hello,” I mouthed to her.
I saw the dancer glance down at me and smile. She blushed and looked away, sparing one last glance my way before the music started and her eyes closed. She moved her body on the stage, flowing like the waves in the ocean. With each movement, there was a reaction from the crowd as they watched her, amazed at her seductive pull.
“At least you found the right one.” I turned to look beside me. Alo was standing there staring at the stage with his arms crossed.
“You can be insufferable sometimes. You know that?” I asked, turning my attention back to the woman. I watched her dance for the next hour, in awe of the way her body moved in such fluid motions, like she was one with the sea.
After the mystery girl left the stage, I made my way to the bar. When the short bartender approached, I asked, “Who was the last dancer on the main stage?”
The bartender glanced at me, pushing a stray brown hair out of his eyes and tucking it behind his ear. He chuckled while he dried a glass with a bar towel. “Oh, darlin’, that’s Pexie, but she won’t take too kindly to strangers asking after her,” he said, setting the glass down and picking up another. “She’s sort of…aloof?”
I chuckled and nodded.
“Say, you’re a strapping young man,” the bartender continued. “What can I get you to drink? It’s on me.”
I barely registered his question as my mind swarmed with thoughts of Pexie on the dance stage. Alo wanted me to meet her. But why? “Goose and Red Bull, please,” I finally answered, plopping my elbows down on the bar top and leaning in closer. “She was stunning.”
“Oh, that she is,” he began, picking up the bottle of vodka and a can of Red Bull, “and dangerous too. Broken, poor thing.” He slid me a glass filled with a light red liquid. “She lost her best friend and dance partner a few years ago, kidnapped from this very bar. She got her revenge, though.”
I sipped the strong drink and rapidly blinked my eyes a few times. “I like broken. How does one get a private dance with her?”
He pointed across the room at a podium near the curtained VIP rooms. “Just go over there and book one. But I warn ya. There is an absolutely 100% no touching policy.”
I nodded in understanding and said, “No intentions of touching. I’m more of a talker.” The bartender chuckled, and I left the bar.
I made my way to the podium, where a young blonde was standing. She glanced up at me, staring me up and down before speaking. “Who?” she asked rather bluntly. She blew a pink bubble and snapped it back into her mouth.
She raised an eyebrow as she stared at me, almost like she was giving me time to change my mind. “Any special requests?” she asked.
I shook my head, and she handed me a piece of paper with my total on it. “Go wait in that room, and I will send her out.” She reached out and pointed at the fourth room on the wall next to her. “Anything extra will be costly.”
I rolled my eyes and took the bill, folding it carefully and sliding it into my pocket. I turned and walked to the room, pulling the red velvet curtain back and falling into one of the couches in the room. Images of the mysterious woman played through my mind as I leaned my head back and closed my eyes. I couldn’t help but wonder what it was about this mysterious Pexie that had me so drawn to her.
A few minutes later, I heard the rustle of the curtain being opened. I lifted my head and watched as Pexie entered the room in her stage attire. “You… you are the one that spoke when I got on stage.”
I smiled and said, “I had to see you again. I couldn’t help it. You intrigue me.”
She raised an eyebrow and walked around the couch as she stared at me. “Intrigue?”
“Very much so.” I nodded at her with a soft smile. “There’s something about you, something supernatural.” I locked my gaze with hers as her eyes shifted to black and quickly back to their normal color.
“And what are you to know that?”
My eyes shifted from blue to brown to green and back to blue. “Let’s just say we’re more alike than you may think.”