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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Blade Bound (Chapter 19)      Page
  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(19) by Chloe Neill
  • I’m the only one who has access to it, Ethan said, squeezing my hand. Your secrets are safe with me.

    The vampire and I wrestled around the room; then I grabbed the paperweight and brained him with it. He hit the floor, and that was that.

    Silence fell over the room.

    “So let’s summarize,” I said. “He wanted an audience with Ethan. Four nights ago, he makes his first attempt. He seems relatively stable, if impatient. Two nights ago, he comes back. He’s more agitated, and his illness—if that’s what this is—has progressed. He’s impatient again, but this time manages to get into the House proper because of our all-comers policy and a coincidental distraction. He spends most of that time alone, until he looks for Ethan again, and doesn’t find him. I find him, and he’s almost completely succumbed to his demons.”

    “He escalated,” Malik said. “Or worsened.”

    “From relatively normal to incapacitated in five days?” Luc asked, crossing his arms. “That seems impossible.”

    “Not if he was off his meds,” I said. “Incapacitated could be his usual state, and we watched him wean himself off.”

    “Intentionally or otherwise,” Ethan agreed, and looked at me. “It’s also possible he isn’t suffering from an illness, but magic. He’s in custody now, and there’s no reason to believe this was anything other than an isolated incident; Catcher confirmed that. But there is a bigger lesson—this might have been avoided if I’d made time to see him. Two separate nights of waiting, and I didn’t let him in. I didn’t talk to him.”

    “He didn’t wait to be let in,” Malik pointed out. “He didn’t wait for longer than an hour either time, which is faster than he’d have gotten into an emergency room. And he didn’t call the House or the Ombudsman,” Malik added before Ethan could argue. “If there was an emergency, he could have reached us that way. It wasn’t an emergency, and evidently not worth more than an hour of his time.”

    I bit back a smile. Malik was normally the strong and silent type, which made his strong defense of Ethan that much more enjoyable. And the tension around Ethan’s eyes seemed to soften, just a little.

    “I’ll work with Malik,” Luc said. “We’ll talk about new procedures for supplicants.” He lifted his gaze to mine, and it was heavy with guilt.

    It took me a moment to understand. He was afraid the vampire might have seriously hurt me—or taken me out altogether—the night before the wedding. That he’d have taken out the bride of his Master, the man to whom he’d pledged an oath. The wedding was doing a number on all of us.

    “You’re not thinking,” I said, and fire lit in Luc’s eyes at my harsh tone. Good. He could use the fire.

    “Excuse me?” he asked, not used to my questioning him—at least not when he was in guard-captain mode.

    “I’m stronger than him, and better trained. He’d been on the street for who knows how long, and having some sort of psychotic breakdown to boot. My handling it was inevitable. And more importantly, I was in the best position to handle it. Better me than Helen or Margot or anyone else who isn’t trained for combat.”

    Luc’s jaw worked as he mulled over my thoughts.

    Ethan reached out, squeezed my hand. “You did train her well,” he pointed out.

    “Damn right I did. Don’t entirely like having it thrown back in my face, especially when I fuck up.”

    “And none of that, either,” I said. “This wasn’t your fault.”

    He looked up at me. “It was,” he said. “House security is my responsibility.”

    “Yours and mine,” I corrected. “I stand Sentinel. It’s my job, at least in part, to protect the House. We both had that responsibility, so if there’s any blame to pass, it’s mine, too.” I looked at Ethan, hated the uncomfortable clutch in my belly, the fact that I’d only just now taken responsibility for the breach. It shouldn’t have taken me that long to acknowledge my contribution, or apologize for it. “I’m sorry for that.”

    Fire blazed in Ethan’s eyes, and I hoped it was pride, not anger.

    “She’s right,” Ethan said, looking at both of us. “We’ve identified a gap in our security—one we hadn’t known existed. We know now, and we’ll adjust our processes. We’ll correct and move forward. That’s what we do. That’s what we always do. And speaking of moving forward,” he said, glancing at me, “now that we’ve all donned our particular hair shirts, we should probably prepare for the evening.”

    “I think that’s our cue to go,” Malik said with a smile, rising and patting Luc’s shoulder as he passed, a sign of solidarity.

    “Sentinel.”

    I looked back at Luc.

    “I just want you to know—your taking responsibility tonight shows . . . that I trained you really well.”

    I mostly bit back a smile. “That’s what you’re going with?”

    He smiled. “Yeah. I think, tonight, we probably need it.”

    They disappeared, and I’d only managed to move a step closer to Ethan when another figure stepped into the doorway.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire