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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Blade Bound (Chapter 18)      Page
  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(18) by Chloe Neill
  • “He was a supplicant,” I said.

    Luc nodded. “He signed in as Winston. Didn’t identify any last name or House, just ‘UNAFF,’ which I take to mean unaffiliated.”

    The clock on the screen ticked along, half an hour, forty-five minutes, then a full hour, and still Winston waited. But if he was agitated—or experiencing the delusions—he didn’t show it. He looked bored and perturbed by the wait, but an hour on an uncomfortable bench would do that. And then I saw it.

    “Zoom in on him,” I said. “On his right hand, if you can manage it.”

    “Zooming,” Luc said, and the image grew closer. It was more pixelated, but the movement was clear.

    “He’s hitting his leg with his fist,” I said, and drew my fingers together, demonstrated. “Not a tap, or a nervous habit. It’s irregular. And he’s putting some force behind it.”

    “You’re thinking it’s a tic?” Ethan asked.

    “This guy looks clean-shaven, reasonably put together, average appearance. And we know what he became. I’m wondering how much of it was in there before.”

    He crossed his arms, then raised his right hand to his temple, knocked the side of his fist against his head. Just once, but once was enough.

    Time passed, and the other four vampires left and were replaced, which presumably put Winston next in line for Ethan’s office. But then he looked at his wrist, and probably his watch, rose from the bench, and walked out the door.

    “He didn’t sign out,” Malik said.

    “No,” Luc agreed. “And he didn’t linger.” The video shifted to the House’s front lawn. The vampire walked down the sidewalk, disappeared through the gate. The video shifted again, and he continued down the street, disappeared into darkness.

    “No further sight of him at the House this night,” Luc said, then glanced at Ethan. “Does he look familiar?”

    “No. Not at all.”

    Luc nodded. “But this is from two days ago.” The video shifted to the next segment, and the foyer appeared on the screen again.

    The vampire walked in again. This time, he looked the way I’d seen him last night. Disheveled—in the same clothes he’d worn before, but in worse condition—his movements more erratic. His lips moved as if in silent conversation.

    A different Novitiate was at the desk, so she wouldn’t have recognized him from the previous visit.

    The vampire moved to the bench, took a seat. And the waiting began again.

    He stayed seated but rubbed his temples vigorously, one foot tapping a quick and agitated tattoo. The vampire at the desk occasionally looked up but didn’t ask the man to leave or otherwise interact with him.

    “We take all comers,” Ethan quietly said, gaze intent on the screen. “She wouldn’t have turned him away unless he was violent. As it was, he just seemed . . . nervous?”

    “Afraid,” I agreed. “Or perhaps like he’s in pain, not that he’s planning to hurt anyone.” And he probably never had been. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, if his intent was to make the screaming stop.

    “Still,” Malik said. “They could use more training at the front desk. I’ll make plans.”

    Once again, time passed, and vampires who’d arrived before him left to talk to Ethan, then returned to the foyer and left the House.

    Forty-seven minutes had passed when two vampires moved through the foyer and to the front door with boxes. Since Helen was leading them, it was probably more gear for the party.

    The second vampire carried box atop box, and one of them tumbled over, spilling its contents across the floor. The vampire at the desk, and two of the other supplicants, began gathering up the supplies. And as they did, Winston walked past the desk and stairs and into the main hallway. The view shifted, followed. He stopped in the middle of the hallway—empty, fortunately for him—and seemed to fight back the voice he’d started hearing.

    “Storage closet,” Ethan said, and Luc nodded.

    “He stayed there through the day. No one came in or out, and there’s no camera in the closet. Nothing disturbed, except a few linens on the floor.”

    “He bedded down,” Ethan said.

    “Yeah. Stayed there until four a.m.” The view returned to the hallway. The vampire walked to the dark cafeteria, and from those cameras, we watched as he drank bottles of blood right out of the case, then shoved the empties back inside. Then he walked into Ethan’s dark office, and the view shifted to a camera mounted somewhere behind Ethan’s desk.

    A new horror occurred to me. I didn’t realize there were cameras in here, I silently said, my face heating as I frantically tried to recall what unspeakable acts Ethan and I had performed in that room. And I’d think twice before kissing him in there again.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire