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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(116) by Chloe Neill
  • “I’ve got plenty of energy,” Catcher said. “The question is what to do with it.”

    Ethan glanced at Mallory.

    “Less energy than he does,” she said. “Last night wore on me. And the same question about what to do with it.”

    Ethan nodded. “Go for Sorcha. She can be hit—we saw it last night.”

    “And she’s probably even more pissed off.”

    “Then maybe she’ll make a mistake,” Ethan said. “Because we could certainly use one.”

    My grandfather nodded, looked at me. “Be careful,” he said, then went to talk to the soldiers.

    • • •

    I’d seen plenty in my year and change as a vampire, death and joy and destruction and rebuilding. But I’d never run through a war zone. I’d never seen Michigan Avenue—the Magnificent Mile—smoking and strewn with gravel and glass, empty of people beneath streetlights.

    This is how the world will end, I thought. With destruction and chaos, and except for the screaming of humans we couldn’t yet see through the smoke, a silence that seemed almost impermeable. The Guard had moved in the other direction, chasing the dragon across the city, looking for a better shot; the emergency vehicles hadn’t gotten here yet. There were undoubtedly humans in these buildings—they were full of condos, apartments, hotels. But they’d taken the shelter-in-place order seriously. That, I guessed, was the effect of Towerline.

    We were nearly on top of the Water Tower before we could see it—and the thin tower had been toppled like toy blocks. The dragon was gone, but the screams grew louder.

    How was it fair to bring a child into this? Into a world that could be so easily broken down, torn apart? Into a world that had been torn apart?

    Figures emerged from the haze. Two men and two women working to free a girl from beneath a pile of twisted steel and brick. Either the dragon or the tank had taken out a chunk of the building on the next block up, leaving a ragged hole where the corner of the building had been.

    They caught sight of us, gestured us over with waving flashlights. “There’s a kid trapped over here! Can you help?”

    “It’s my Taylor,” said an obviously frantic woman, tear tracks in the grime on her face and a squirming white dog in her arms. “We were going to the bomb shelter, like they told us, but Tootsie got loose, and Taylor went after her, and that’s when the bomb went off. She’s in there, somewhere.”

    It hadn’t been a bomb. It had been a gun fired by humans to kill a monster they didn’t understand. But that didn’t matter. The girl mattered, so we ran toward the pile, joined the others in moving rocks and shards of glass and steel.

    “Let us try,” Ethan said, gesturing to me. “We’ve got the strength.” We handed Catcher our sheathed katanas. “Keep watch,” he told Catcher. “Sorcha’s shown herself to draw us out. She’ll come back, and she’ll be looking for us.”

    “Eyes peeled,” Catcher confirmed, turning his back to us and scanning the street.

    We climbed onto the pile, rocks shifting beneath us, and began hefting stones away. The stones had been blown apart, the edges as sharp as glass, and shards scraped into tender flesh with each rock we moved. I’d done this before—had dug through rock in darkness to search for Ethan, not sure he’d still been alive.

    Now he was my husband, my partner, fighting the good fight on the other side of the rubble pile.

    I heard a chirp of sound, turned toward it, climbing across the mound to the spot on the other side.

    “Help.” The word was weakly spoken, but it was still a word. Taylor was alive.

    “She’s here,” I said, and pulled rocks faster, tossing them behind me onto asphalt already littered with the detritus of battle.

    “Taylor!” her mother screamed, going to her knees in the rubble, the dog now in Mallory’s arms. She stretched out an arm, grazed the girl’s hands. “Baby? Can you hear me?”

    “I’m stuck!” Taylor said. “I’m okay but I’m stuck. There’s a bar down here. Some kind of big bar on my leg. I can’t get it off.”

    Ethan dropped to his knees, accepted the flashlight offered by one of the humans, and peered into the hole where Taylor was wedged.

    “Steel bar,” Ethan said.

    Can we move it? I silently asked.

    Ethan pulled back, looking over the mountain of debris we hadn’t yet moved. We’d moved a lot of rubble, but the concrete on top of the cavity where Taylor lay was at least five feet long.

    It’s not the bar, he said. It’s the concrete that’s pinning it in place.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire