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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(106) by Chloe Neill
  • I grimaced. “Like the number of people who die?”

    “No, that’s just morose. More like, will Baumgartner blame us when this thing goes to shit?”

    I’d spent ten minutes in a room with the man, and I already knew the answer to that. “He absolutely will. No bet.”

    “Hmm,” she said, and crossed her arms. “Other obvious predictions—Sorcha will wear a completely inappropriate outfit. She’ll blame something on someone other than herself. Baumgartner’s sorcerers will either completely fail to make a dent, or screw up out of some misplaced sense of ego.” She paused. “The mayor will refuse to take responsibility.”

    “You’re basically laying out the Supernatural Debacle bingo card,” I said. “And you’re right about all of it.”

    We reached the loop around the lagoon, scoped out the place we were supposed to wait for Sorcha.

    “You think she’ll come down in a puff of smoke?”

    “Wicked Witch,” she reminded me.

    One more square on the bingo card.

    • • •

    The sky was clear, and the air was frigid. We stood atop the snow-covered hill in utter darkness, in the middle of a plateau about forty feet across. The hill wasn’t very tall—maybe twenty feet above the lake—but it was elevated just enough so the wind whipped around us.

    It was August in the Midwest, and the island should have been alive with sounds—the chirp of crickets, the croak of frogs, the rhythmic humming of cicadas. Waves should have bumped against the shoreline, and wind should have rustled spent and browning grass. Instead, the world was silent.

    “She’s coming,” Mallory quietly said, at an hour until dawn.

    She didn’t need to tell me. The wind picked up, magic prickled the air uncomfortably, and there was an electric crack in the air, like the sound of crinkling static electricity.

    She’s here, I told Ethan, unsure whether he was close enough to hear.

    We’re ready, came his answering call, and I felt immediately better. I trusted Ethan with my life—and had done. I was glad to know he was here and ready, just in case . . .

    “The wards are breached,” said Jeff’s voice through the comm unit. “She’s coming in nearly on top of you, so keep an eye out.”

    “We will very much be doing that,” Mallory said, and we stepped back together.

    It started as a bit of fog, a smear in the air in front of us, as we watched it thicken and grow in three dimensions, like a storm cloud gaining strength. But this didn’t just swell in size—it moved in streaks and jerks, pushing forward in one direction, then swelling, pushing back in another direction, swelling.

    For a moment, I was afraid we’d completely misapprehended the situation. That Sorcha hadn’t come at all, and instead she’d created some new, diaphanous monster that would kill us in secret silence, like the antagonist of a King novel.

    But as quick as a finger snap, the fog dissipated, leaving Sorcha standing before us, her expression haughty and her eyes wild.

    She’d picked a pantsuit this time, another of her favorite looks. Emerald green silk with an asymmetrical bodice that looped around one shoulder, leaving the other bare. Her hair fell onto her shoulders, with slender brass bobby pins arranged in “X’s” at her temples.

    I wondered if she had a stylist, someone who helped her prep before she dropped in to destroy more of Chicago. Or if she sat alone in her secret hideaway, wherever it was, with a closet full of clothes and a trunk of accessories, and prepared herself in silence. Prepared herself to do havoc and murder, a woman with no god to answer to.

    “Lindsey is going to freak about the jumpsuit,” Mallory whispered.

    “Probably. And isn’t she freezing?”

    “Could be magic,” she said.

    She smiled at us, took a step forward. “Well, well, well. I guess the city of Chicago made its choice. Not that a skinny vampire and a little bitch of a sorcerer are worth much.”

    I glanced at Mallory. “I guess I’m the skinny vampire?”

    “And I’m the little bitch.” She clucked her tongue. “Resorting to crass language, Sorcha—really?”

    “Very gauche,” I agreed, then looked back at Sorcha. “We’re here,” I said, beginning the rough script we’d outlined with the SWAT team. “You said you’d release the ice if we showed up.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire