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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(137) by Chloe Neill
  • It opened its mouth and snapped, trying to pull the same trick it had pulled with Sorcha. I ducked beneath its mouth and thrust the sword up with both hands between two of the scales in the dragon’s neck.

    Magic exploded.

    Light shot from the katana as the dragon bucked, screamed with the pain of a million souls.

    I let go of the sword, tried to scurry back from its thrashing legs and tail, from the magic that bloomed, huge and white, an unfolding flower of supernatural energy.

    The dragon bucked as the flower enfolded it, then froze as if captured in glass, just like Portnoy’s drawing. But the flower kept growing.

    I tried to run, slipped in blood and gravel and hit my knees again—and was too late. The blooming magic covered me. I instinctively braced against the impact of it, of the power I was sure would incinerate us both.

    But unlike the Egregore, this magic wasn’t violent, and it wasn’t angry. It was familiar, because it arose from the connection that already existed between me and the katana, born when I’d tempered the steel with my own blood.

    Even while the dragon was frozen, the magic moved through me, strengthening my bond to the sword . . . and the bond between me and the life that had only just begun to grow. A life I hadn’t known existed until the magic firmed its connection to me, binding it inside me, just as the magic bound dragon to blade.

    Hope welled so powerfully that tears immediately spilled over. I moved my hand through thick magic, put a hand on my abdomen, felt the flutter that I’d been afraid I’d never feel, but which now seemed undeniably real.

    “Hi,” I said with a silly grin. “Hi.”

    Suddenly, with a high-pitched whine, the blossom began to retract, to shrink back toward the captured dragon, the bound dragon. I remembered I was still midbattle, inside a spell, and mere feet away from a magically petrified dragon. So, immediate priorities first.

    When the magic freed me, I crawled back, putting space between us and the spell that folded itself over the dragon like a budding flower in reverse, condensing itself more and more until there was nothing in the darkness but a spear of light around my spinning blade, the dragon, the Egregore, condensed inside it.

    One final flash of light, the sword white-hot with energy, and it stilled in the air, dropped to the roof with a heavy thud.

    I fell to my knees, my body still buzzing with magic, the slice along my ribs burning outrageously. But I was alive, and we were safe, and Chicago would go on.

    That was enough for tonight.

    • • •

    My blade had cooled, the steel going gray again, by the time everyone else reached the Towerline roof.

    I felt the footsteps before I heard them, shudders across the roof. Ethan moved into my vision first, gaze searching frantically. Mallory and Catcher appeared behind him.

    “The dragon is bound,” I said, “and I survived.” But my head was still spinning.

    “Merit,” Mallory said, falling to her knees beside me. “You’re glowing.”

    “Looks like you got a good dose of magic,” Catcher said, running a hand along my arm. “But I don’t see any lasting damage.” He looked back at the sword, and a grin pierced the fear on his face. “And there’s a helluva lot of magic in that sword.”

    “Yeah. There’s a dragon in there. And I feel . . . kind of purple.” I looked up at Mallory, then Ethan. “Is that a thing? Feeling kind of purple?”

    She smiled, pushed hair from my face. “It absolutely is a thing, you crazy vampire.”

    “My crazy vampire,” Ethan said, and scooped me into his arms. “Who I very well may handcuff permanently to the House.”

    “Not leaving anytime soon,” I said, and dropped my head to his shoulder. “Glad you found me. I got the bad guy.”

    “So you did,” he said, and there was no mistaking the pride in his voice. “For now, be still.”

    He’d said his magic words, and the lights went out.



    Winters in the Midwest were fearsome things, and summers often weren’t much better. But early fall, with clear skies and temperatures as crisp as autumn apples, was undeniably beautiful.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire