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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(9) by Chloe Neill
  • “Attractive,” Lindsey said, tilting her head as she stared at his biceps. “And well-defined.”

    “A dictionary couldn’t do it better,” Mallory said, eyes glassy as she stared at the man.

    I glanced at Lindsey. “I can’t believe you hired a dancer. Ethan is going to kill you. Or me. Or both of us.”

    “Oh, honey,” Lindsey said. “He isn’t here to dance.”

    Regardless, with the grace of a dancer, the man spun the chair around backward, took a seat, and pulled a thin, worn paperback from his back pocket. He looked up at me, smiled. “Your party?”

    I nodded, suddenly nervous.

    “Cool. Lord Byron work for you?”

    I actually felt my face warm. “Sure?”

    Beside me, Lindsey snickered, the sound full of satisfaction.

    He nodded, thumbed through some pages. “Ladies,” he said, meeting our gazes. And then, looking down at the page, he began to recite.

    “She walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright / Meet in her aspect and her eyes.”

    Every single woman in the room sighed.

    • • •

    I wasn’t sure whether he was a grad student, poet, actor, stripper, or brilliant combination of all those things. But the man knew Lord Byron, and he knew words. He knew the rise and fall of sentences, the way to pause, the moment to look up, catch our gazes, smile. He knew emphasis and speed, pacing and clarity. He was a prince of poetry, and he had us mesmerized.

    Champagne was uncorked and dunked into gleaming silver chalices of ice, then poured into tall, thin glasses while we listened, legs crossed and perched forward in our chairs.

    “Is it better if we’re objectifying his body and his brain?” Margot asked, lifting the thin straw in her gin and tonic for a sip.

    “I don’t much care,” Mallory said. “He gives good word.”

    I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    CHAPTER THREE

    FIVE SECONDS OF (SUPERNATURAL) SUMMER

    We left Temple Bar about two hours before dawn, dropped Mallory off in Wicker Park, then headed back to the House.

    We separated on the first floor. The foyer was quiet and empty, the desk closed down for the evening, the supplicants home again, their issues addressed, or to be back in line to see Ethan another night. There was only so much one vampire could do.

    There wasn’t a single box or candlestick or willow branch in sight, which meant everything had probably made it onto the truck and over to the library. Or Helen had gotten sick of all of it and hosted a bonfire in the backyard. That seemed unlikely, so I’d just assume the wedding would go forward as planned.

    “The wedding would go forward as planned,” I whispered with a smile.

    There’d been more showers, brunches, and cake tastings than I’d have thought possible—and still more than I thought was reasonable. Ethan had enjoyed the process, the preparations for our life together, so I’d humored him, and now the bachelorette party had been the last of them. The last hurdle before the wedding, before we took vows of fidelity—for an eternity. Nothing stood between us now but the rise and fall of the sun, and even Sorcha Reed couldn’t change that.

    That was when the nerves set in. Not fear, but anticipation. Excitement. Tendrils of desire, possibly stoked by a little too much time with Lord Byron.

    The hallway was dark—Malik’s and Helen’s offices were dark, as was the cafeteria at the end of the hall. Ethan’s light was still on. I doubted he was back yet; it seemed more likely they’d enjoy whiskey and cigars until the last possible moment. Probably the cleaning crew had forgotten to turn the light off, or maybe Helen had forgotten some last-minute bauble for the wedding.

    I could leave him a note. A message to say good night, that I’d be thinking of him during our vampire-imposed exile, and that I’d see him tomorrow at the library, books optional.

    That I thought that was funny probably said more about the gin I’d enjoyed at Temple Bar than about my comedic skills.

    I walked into the office, headed for his desk . . . and didn’t realize I wasn’t alone until I caught the flicker of movement across the room.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire