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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(8) by Chloe Neill
  • She shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s just this vague magical feeling. A kind of unease, I guess?”

    “From what? From where?”

    “I have no idea. There’s nothing specific in it. Not even a speck of what I could call a thing, or a threat, or a looming damn cloud.” Her words picked up speed with the rise of her frustration. “Just unease. Catcher’s being supportive, but I know he doesn’t feel it. And that makes me feel like I’m being paranoid.”

    “So, let’s assume you aren’t being paranoid. What could be bothering you? Not You Know Who.” That was as much as I wanted to mention the woman who’d tried to control us.

    “No,” she said. “It’s been four months, there’s been no sign of her, and the city’s warded even if she did come back. Other than that, I don’t know.”

    Mallory looked at me, and the concern in her eyes was even deeper than I’d thought. Whatever this was, she wasn’t done with it.

    “What if I can’t do happy, Merit? I mean, I’m married, and you’re getting married, and with the exception of the world’s most idiotic ghost hunters, no supernatural drama. No River nymph infighting. We haven’t been thrown to the wolves by the mayor or anyone else looking to use us for political fodder. I should be freaking thrilled. Instead . . .” She sighed, shrugged.

    I took her hand, squeezed it. “Mal, you are the happiest person I know. The brightest person—except when you were evil.”

    “Except for that.”

    “And even then, you crawled out of it. So if you tell me something’s off, I believe you. Have you talked to the Order about it? I thought you guys were on better terms.”

    “They already think I’m crazy.”

    “Well, what about Gabriel? Maybe the Pack’s felt something similar.” Although I hoped Chicago’s resident shifter alpha would have come to us if he’d believed something was wrong.

    “I don’t even know what I could tell him. ‘Gabe, I know you’re busy being hot and wolfy and all, but all this peace and prosperity is making me antsy’?”

    “Then I’m officially out of ideas.”

    “So you think I’m crazy, too?” She must have heard the rising panic in her voice, as she held up a hand. “Sorry. I’m sorry. This is just wearing on me.”

    I put an arm around her, squeezed. “We’re going to be fine, Mallory. Everything is going to be fine. I’m going to get married, and Ethan and I are going to have a wonderful week in Paris.”

    “You’re right. I know you’re right.” She shook out her hands, her shoulders, obviously trying to loosen up. “What’s going to happen is going to happen, and there’s no point in worrying about it now. Let’s just have fun.”

    “Let’s just have fun,” I agreed, and clinked my glass against hers.

    Because, paranoid or not, the other shoe was bound to drop. It always did.

    • • •

    “All right, ladies!” Lindsey said, standing on a chair in her bare feet, ringing her glass with a spoon. When the crowd quieted, she glanced around the room. “We’ve reached the, ahem, climax of tonight’s Bachelorettetravaganza!”

    “How many names does this thing have?” I whispered to Mallory.

    “I think seven? We threw out ‘Merit Does Chicago’ and ‘Sullivan Two: The Resullivaning.’”

    “Good call.”

    “Colin,” Lindsey said, gesturing to the bartender. “If you would?”

    The overhead lights dimmed, but the spot on the small stage in front of us brightened on a single black chair that sat in front of a microphone. Music began to play, a jazz song with a playful, flirty rhythm.

    As Lindsey sat down to join us, a man walked out of the back room, onto the stage.

    Tan skin, dark hair, dark beard, his hair in a very well-executed knot at the top of his head. His eyes were green, his lashes as thick and dark as his beard, his mouth a long line that turned up at one corner. He wore jeans, boots, and nothing else. The terrain of his body was all smooth skin and hard, curving muscle, his left arm marked by a complicated monochrome tattoo.

    The room went absolutely silent.

    “Well,” Margot said quietly. “He is . . . rather attractive.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire