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Slàinte Pub

The taxi ride from Greenwich Village to Little Italy was short. It gave Alison just enough time to once again ponder the card that Pablo had given her. Most police departments were clearly labelled – homicide, fraud, narcotics, and so forth. The Special Crimes Unit didn’t mean anything. So what exactly did Pablo’s unit investigate? Her reporter instincts were piqued, but she didn’t want to jeopardise her renewed friendship with Pablo by going behind his back to find out. She’d ask him outright, and see what he told her.

As the taxi neared its destination, traffic crawled to a standstill. When they hadn’t moved at all for a few minutes, Alison checked the street ahead. “Accident?” she asked.

“Looks like,” the driver replied.

Alison realised she was only about half a block from her destination. “I may as well get out here. We’re almost where I was going.” She paid the driver and gave him a generous tip then made her way to the bar, walking past the honking cars caught in the traffic jam. Such things weren’t at all uncommon in Manhattan, and Alison paid the pileup no particular heed as she entered Slàinte.

She glanced around the interior of the bar, hoping to spot Pablo. The place was fairly full, for a Tuesday night, and after years of interviewing police she could tell that many of the tables were occupied by off-duty cops. Even if Pablo hadn't told her that they tended to come here after work, she'd have known it was a cop bar. No cop was ever really completely off-duty, and it lent a certain air to the atmosphere. Sure, everyone was relaxed and looked to be having a good time, but at a moment's notice that could all change.

She didn't see Pablo at the bar, so she ventured further into the room to see if he was at a table. He wasn't at any of the occupied tables, but she did come across a booth with a plate of half-eaten poppers and abandoned beers littering the surface. Ordinarily she'd have figured the people sitting there had left, but there was still a jacket resting on the seat. The whole thing struck her as a bit odd. Usually if more than one person was at a table, they didn't all get up at once. Turning her back on the empty booth, she scanned the crowd once more, looking for Pablo. Maybe he'd just stepped out for a minute, or had gone to the bathroom, or something. She had no reason to believe this booth was where he'd been sitting, though. Or whether he'd even got here yet.

Cadee noticed the woman as she passed by with a tray full with four quesadilla orders, two chicken sandwiches and a hamburger. Damn, the night was turning to be nightmarish; she had to talk Angus into hiring, or she and Jenna would have to grow four hands. However, as she got to her destination and placed the orders, she smiled and chatted lightly to the people. Newcomers, they were.

As she left their table, she saw that the woman was now standing next to the SCU’s abandoned booth. Strange, where the hell could they be? Yet she didn’t linger on that thought, and approached her. She looked familiar, but she didn’t recognize her as a usual customer.

“Hello, is there anything I can do for you? Find you a table?”

Alison jumped a little, startled by the sudden appearance of the waitress. She looked vaguely familiar, but Alison couldn't place her. "Hi. Actually, I was supposed to meet a friend here. You might know him - he said he's a regular. His name's Pablo Sandoval. Juan Pablo," Alison added, recalling that casual acquaintances didn't just call him Pablo and that the waitress might not know him by that name.

Cadee smiled brightly. “Sure I know Pablo, he comes all the time. Actually, he was sitting just here,” she said, signaling the now empty booth. “Still is, I guess… poppers are still hot.”

She took another look at the woman, she did look familiar... and then it hit her. The vampire lady!! Only she didn’t look like her at all, her make up was much subdued and she was wearing jeans and a top, not so much skin exposed. I like her more like this, she thought, and smiled again.

“You’re the author, right? Lucinda Graves? I was at the signing at Barnes & Noble, with my friend Anne.”

"Ah, that's where I've seen you. I thought you looked familiar." Alison racked her brains to dredge up the woman's name. She was sure Anne had told her. "Is it Kate? Katie? I'm sorry, I try to be good with names. And please, call me Alison. Lucinda is my pen name. Tonight I'm just Alison." She smiled warmly at the waitress and glanced back at the booth behind her. "So he was just here? Hmm. He can't be far, then."

“Cadee. And I can quite understand, there’s just one of you, but hundreds of us. I actually like Alison better, if you don’t mind my saying so,” she answered, then she took another look at the booth. “I guess not, Charley’s jacket is still there. Why don’t you sit and wait for him? If I see him around, I’ll tell him you’re here.”

Alison nodded and was about to thank Cadee, when a side door opened with a bang and Pablo rushed in, grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran straight back out again.

“Well, I think I just found him. What’s going on out there?” Alison began to make her way through the room to the door to poke her head out and see what was happening. Several other people were looking that way, some standing up ready to go help if needed. Weaving her way around the tables and stirring patrons, Alison was still only halfway to the side door when it opened again to reveal Pablo helping a young man inside. 

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