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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(51) by Chloe Neill
  • But the man was prepared, and his expression was utterly serious. “Our chocolate base includes a syrup made from small-batch beans from a roaster in California, flakes of eighty-five percent dark, and cocoa powder from France.”

    “Your terms are acceptable,” I said with equal gravity.

    Shaking his head but resigned to his fate, Ethan peeled off another bill, passed it through the window.

    “You two are cute together,” the vendor said, passing a foam cup through the window. “You should get married.”

    Ethan held up his hand, light glinting off his engraved band. “Already done.”

    CHAPTER ELEVEN

    RATIONS

    We took our dogs to the nearby picnic table beneath a wide umbrella that had probably been for shade against the sun but worked pretty well for snow, too.

    The spread of food was nearly embarrassing in both breading and quantity. But odds were good last night’s battle wasn’t the only one we’d face in the coming nights, and I wasn’t going in unprepared.

    Unfortunately, the plastic fork was hardly up to the challenge of a hot dog amalgamation that included mac ’n’ cheese, hot sauce, and fried pickles. I managed a bite, chewed, considered. And frowned.

    “You look unimpressed,” Catcher said, squirting ketchup into a careful circle on a napkin.

    “I’m mostly confused.” I popped a fried pickle, nearly winced with the wonderfully vicious acidity. “And still evaluating. I’m going to have to work through my feelings.”

    Ethan just shook his head, amusement in his face. “My intrepid Sentinel, beaten by a Garbage Dog.”

    Snorting, Catcher wiped his hands to pull his phone from his pocket. He scanned the screen. “Well. That’s interesting.”

    “What?” my grandfather asked, wiping mustard from his cheek.

    “The first two humans Jeff checked out were near Towerline the night Sorcha tried to initiate her alchemical web.”

    “How near?” Ethan asked.

    Catcher swiped the screen. “One was an electrical sub doing some after-hours work when the magic spilled. The other lived across the street, was on the roof watching the action. Neither evacuated.”

    I nodded. “So at least some of the people who hear the screaming were near Towerline when the magic went down.”

    “The delusions started before the snow,” Catcher said. “And the wards didn’t sound until the snow started. Therefore, Sorcha isn’t causing the delusions, at least not by any active, ongoing magic.”

    I looked at Catcher. “Could it be some kind of latent effect from her alchemy?”

    “We unwound her magic,” Catcher said. “It doesn’t make sense that any magic was left, latent or otherwise. On the other hand, while it could be someone other than Sorcha, given the connection to Towerline, that’s highly improbable. ‘Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.’”

    “Sherlock Holmes,” my grandfather said approvingly. “The one which remains, in this case, is her alchemy and its lingering effects.”

    Which meant the delusions, one way or the other, were Sorcha’s fault.

    Ethan’s phone beeped again. He checked it, then looked at my grandfather with a worried expression that didn’t give me any comfort. “The Tribune interviewed the woman who was on the roof after the fact,” he said. “She said there were forty people watching the battle.”

    “They couldn’t evacuate all the high-rises near the battle site,” my grandfather said. “There wasn’t enough time or manpower.”

    “What about Winston?” I asked. “Do we know if he was near Towerline?”

    “We don’t,” my grandfather said.

    “We need to talk to him about that, and about what he’s hearing,” I said. “We need to figure out what’s happening before anyone else is hurt.”

    Ethan nodded. “If physical proximity to Sorcha’s alchemy is the trigger for the delusions, we have a very big problem. We’ll see more delusions, more violence.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire