The Fall of the Hotel Dumort Page 3

The towers made for some very small, very intimate floors. Some had only one or two inhabitants. There were two in this case. Camille lived in 28C. Magnus could hear music seeping out from under the door. There was a strong smell of smoke and the leftover perfume of whoever had just passed this way. Despite the fact that there was activity inside, it took about three minutes of knocking before someone answered.

He was surprised to find that he recognized this person at once. It was a face from long ago. At the time the woman had had a little black bob and had worn a flapper dress. She’d been young then, and while she had retained the basic youth (vampires didn’t really age), she looked world-worn. Now her hair was bleached blond and formed into heavy, long curls. She wore a skin-tight gold dress that skimmed her knees, and a cigarette dangled from the side of her mouth.

“Well, well, well. It’s everyone’s favorite warlock! I haven’t seen you since you were running that speakeasy. It’s been a long time.”

“It has,” Magnus said. “Daisy?”

“Dolly.” She pushed the door open wider. “Look who it is, everyone!”

The room was full of vampires, all of whom were dressed extremely well. Magnus had to give them that. The men wore the white suits that were so popular this season. The women all had fantastic disco dresses, mostly in white or gold. The mix of hair spray, cigarette smoke, incense, and colognes and perfumes took his breath away for a moment.

Aside from the strong smells, there was a tension in the air that had no real basis. Magnus was no stranger to vampires, yet this group was uptight, looking to one another. Shifting around. Waiting for something.

There was no invitation to enter.

“Is Camille in?” Magnus finally asked.

Dolly cocked a hip against the door.

“What brings you here tonight, Magnus?”

“I’ve just gotten back from an extended vacation. It just felt right to pay a visit.”

“Did it?”

In the background someone turned down the record player until the music was barely audible.

“Someone go talk to Camille,” Dolly said without turning around. She remained where she was, blocking the doorway with her tiny body. She closed the door a bit to reduce the space she had to fill. She continued smiling up at Magnus in a way that was a bit unnerving.

“Just a minute,” she said.

In the background someone moved into the hallway.

“What’s this?” Dolly said, plucking something from Magnus’s pocket. “Electrica? I’ve never heard of this club.”

“It’s new. They claim to be better than Studio 54. I’ve never been to either, so I don’t know. Someone gave me the passes.”

Magnus had stuck the passes into his pocket as he’d been walking out the door. After all, he had gone to the effort of dressing up. Should this errand end as badly as he thought it would, it would be nice to have somewhere to go afterward.

Dolly twisted the passes into a fan and waved it lightly in front of her face.

“Take them,” Magnus said. It was evident that Dolly had already taken them and was not giving them back, so it seemed polite to make it official.

The vampire emerged from the hallway and conferred with some others on the sofa and around the room. Then a different vampire came over to the door. Dolly stepped behind the door for a moment, closing it farther. Magnus heard a mumbling. Then the door opened again, wide enough to admit him.

“It’s your lucky night,” she said. “This way.”

The white wall-to-wall carpet was so shaggy and thick that Dolly wobbled on her high heels as she traversed it. The carpet had stains all over it—spilled drinks, ash, and puddles of things he supposed were blood. The white sofas and chairs were in similar condition. The many large plants and potted palms and fronds were all dry and sagging. Several pictures on the walls were askew. There were bottles and empty glasses with dried-up wine at the bottom everywhere. It was the same kind of disarray Magnus had found in his apartment.

More disturbing was the silence from all the vampires in the room who watched him being led along by Dolly to the hallway. And then there was the sofa full of unmoving humans—subjugates, no doubt, all dazed and slumped, their mouths hanging open, the bruises and wounds on their necks and arms and hands looking quite ugly. The glass table in front of them had a fine coating of white powder and a few razor blades. The only noise was the muted music and a low rumble of thunder outside.

“This way,” Dolly said, taking Magnus by the sleeve.

The hall was dark, and there were clothes and shoes all over the floor. Muffled noises came from the three doors along the hall. Dolly walked right to the end, to a double door. She rapped on this once and pushed it open.

“Go ahead,” she said, still smiling her weird little smile.

In stark contrast to the whiteness of everything in the living room, this room was the dark side of the apartment. The carpet was an indigo black, like a nighttime sea. The walls were covered in deep silver wallpaper. The lamp shades were all covered by gold and silver shawls and throws. The tables were all mirrored, reflecting the view back and forth again. And in the middle of it all was a massive black lacquer bed with black sheets and a heavy gold cover. And on it was Camille, in a peach silk kimono.

And a hundred years seemed to vanish. Magnus felt himself unable to speak for a moment. It might as well have been London again, the whole twentieth century rolled up into a ball and tossed aside.

But then the present moment came crashing back when Camille began an ungainly crawl in his direction, slipping on the satin sheets.

“Magnus! Magnus! Magnus! Come here! Come! Sit down!”

Her silver-blond hair was long and down, looking wild. She patted the end of the bed. This was not the greeting he’d been expecting. This was not the Camille he remembered, or even the one he had seen in passing.

As he made to step over what he thought was a lump of clothing, he realized there was a human on the floor, facedown. He bent down and gently reached into the mass of long black hair to turn the person’s face upward. It was a woman, and there was still some warmth in her, and a faint pulse beating in her neck.

“That’s Sarah,” Camille said, flopping onto the bed and hanging her head off the end to watch.

“You’ve been feeding from her,” Magnus said. “Is she a willing donor?”

“Oh, she loves it. Now, Magnus . . . You look marvelous, by the way. Is that Halston? . . . We’re just about to go out. And you are coming with us.”

She slid from the bed and tripped her way into a massive closet. Magnus heard hangers being scraped along rails. Magnus examined the girl on the floor again. She had punctures all over her neck—and now she was smiling weakly at Magnus and pushing back her hair, offering him a bite.

“I’m not a vampire,” he said, resting her head gently on the floor again. “And you should get out of here. Do you want my help?”

The girl made a sound that was just between a laugh and a whimper.

“Which one of these?” Camille said as she came stumbling back out of the closet, holding two almost identical black evening dresses.

“This girl is weak,” he said. “Camille, you’ve taken too much blood from her. She needs a hospital.”

“She’s fine. Leave her alone. Help me pick a dress.”

Everything about this exchange was wrong. This was not how the reunion should have gone. It should have been coy; it should have had many strange pauses and moments of double meaning. Instead Camille was acting like she’d just seen Magnus yesterday. Like they were simply friends. It was enough of an entry to allow him to get to the point.

“I’m here because there’s a problem, Camille. Your vampires are killing people and leaving bodies on the street. They’re overfeeding.”

“Oh, Magnus.” Camille shook her head. “I may be in charge, but I don’t control them. You have to allow for a certain amount of freedom.”

“This includes killing mundanes and leaving their bodies out on the sidewalk?”

Camille was no longer listening. She had dropped the dresses onto the bed and was picking though a pile of earrings. Meanwhile Sarah was attempting to crawl in Camille’s direction. Without even looking at her, Camille set a mirror full of white powder down on the floor. Sarah went right for it and began sniffing it up.

And then Magnus understood.

While human drugs didn’t quite work on Downworlders, there was no telling what would happen when that drug was run through a human circulatory system and then ingested through the human blood.

It all made sense. The disarray. The confused behavior. The frenzied feeding in the clubs. The fact that they all looked so ill, that their personalities seemed to have changed. He’d seen this a thousand times in mundanes.

Camille was looking at him now, her gaze unwavering.

“Come out with us tonight, Magnus,” she cooed. “You are a man who knows a good time. I am a woman who provides a good time. Come out with us.”

“Camille, you have to stop. You have to know how dangerous this is.”

“It’s not going to kill me, Magnus. That’s quite impossible. And you don’t understand how it feels.”

“The drug can’t kill you, but other things can. If you continue like this, you know there are people out there who can’t let you go on murdering mundanes. Someone will act.”

“Let them try,” she said. “I could take on ten Shadowhunters once I’ve had some of this.”

“It may not be—”

Camille dropped to the floor before he could finish and buried her face into Sarah’s neck. Sarah flailed once and groaned, then became silent and motionless. He heard the sickening sound of the drinking, the sucking. Camille lifted her head, blood all around her mouth, running down her chin.

“Are you coming or not?” she said. “I would simply love to take you to Studio 54. You’ve never had a night out like one of our nights out.”

Magnus had to force himself to keep looking at her like this.

“Let me help you. A few hours, a few days—I could get this out of your system.”

Camille dragged the back of her hand across her mouth, smearing the blood onto her cheek.

“If you’re not coming along, then stay out of our way. Consider this a polite warning, Magnus. Dolly!”

Dolly was already at the door. “Think you’re done here,” she said.

Magnus watched Camille sink her teeth into Sarah again.

“Yes,” he said. “I think I am.”

Outside, a downpour was in progress. The doorman held an umbrella over Magnus’s head and hailed him a cab. The incongruity of the civility downstairs and what he’d seen upstairs was . . .

It wasn’t to be thought about. Magnus got into the cab, gave his destination, and closed his eyes. The rain drummed onto the cab. It felt like the rain was beating directly onto his brain.

Magnus wasn’t surprised to find Lincoln sitting on the steps by his door. Wearily he waved him inside.

“Well?” Lincoln said.

“It’s not good,” Magnus replied, pulling off his wet jacket. “It’s the drugs. They’re feeding on the blood of people who are taking drugs. It must be escalating their need and lowering their impulse control.”

“You’re right,” Lincoln said. “That isn’t good. I thought it might have something to do with the drugs, but I thought they were immune to things like addiction.”

Magnus poured them each a glass of wine, and they sat and listened to the rain for a moment.

“Can you help her?” Lincoln asked.

“If she lets me. But you can’t cure an addict who doesn’t want to be cured.”

“No,” Lincoln said. “I’ve seen that myself with our own. But you understand . . . we can’t let this behavior continue.”

“I know you can’t.”

Lincoln finished his wine and set the glass down gently.

“I’m sorry, Magnus. I really am. But if it happens again, you need to leave it to us.”

Magnus nodded. Lincoln gave him a squeeze on the shoulder, then let himself out.

For the next several days Magnus kept to himself. The weather was brutal, flicking between heat and storm. He tried to forget about the scene in Camille’s apartment, and the best way to forget was to keep busy. He hadn’t really kept up with his work for the last two years. There were clients to call. There were spells to study and translations to do. Books to read. The apartment needed redecorating. There were new restaurants and new bars and new people. . . .

Every time he stopped, he flashed back to the sight of Camille squatting on the carpet, the girl limp in her arms, the mirror full of drugs, Camille’s face covered in blood. The mess. The stink. The horror. The blank looks.

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