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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(53) by Chloe Neill
  • And given the sight in front of us, I doubted those funds would be coming anytime soon.

    A column of clouds rose above the building, bands of swirling white and brilliant purple against a sky otherwise as dark as pitch. It looked like a cyclonic storm, but the snow wasn’t coming from these clouds, or any others.

    “No snow,” I said. “But does anyone else think it’s colder over here?”

    “The temperature dropped the closer we got to Towerline,” my grandfather agreed.

    Ethan sighed. “The honeymoon is decidedly over.”

    • • •

    I generally tried to be brave, and was certainly more willing to take chances than I had been a year ago as a still-pink vampire. But even I wasn’t taking the rickety construction elevator—or climbing dozens of floors of steps—to the top floor to inspect what might be happening on the roof.

    We left that to the CPD helicopters my grandfather called in, while we crossed the State Street bridge to the area the CPD had once again cordoned off in front of the building’s sweeping plaza.

    Michigan Avenue had been roped off with caution tape, CPD uniforms already posted at intervals along the line. Traffic had been rerouted, but that didn’t stop the pedestrians who gathered at the edges, just like the last time. There seemed to be fewer tonight, maybe because of the weather, hopefully because they’d learned their lessons the last time, understood that this woman’s magic was inherently dangerous.

    And in the middle of the street, behind a barrier of police cruisers and vans, stood the SWAT team members who’d coordinate the CPD’s response to . . . whatever this was.

    There was a buzz around the men and women, but it wasn’t magic. It was steel, my body’s magical reaction to their weapons, a sensitivity related to my connection with my sword.

    “We meet again,” said a man with a strong body and short, pale hair.

    He’d been in charge of the response on that fateful night when we’d beaten back Sorcha the first time. That was also the night Ethan had proposed. We returned now as husband and wife, but just as aware of Sorcha’s power.

    “Pity we didn’t manage to hold her,” the officer said, and there was apology in his expression. Good. There was no way that could be blamed on us.

    “It is a pity,” Ethan said. “And you didn’t offer your name that evening.”

    “My bad,” he said, and offered a hand. “Jim Wilcox.”

    “Ethan Sullivan,” he said.

    “Helicopters on their way?” my grandfather asked.

    “They are.” He gestured to a comm unit built into the back of a white panel van. “The mayor is patched in, and she’s monitoring the situation.”

    “And she is pissed,” said a woman with dark skin and a cloud of curly hair depressed by a slender headset and mouthpiece. She wore slim black pants and a crimson top beneath a dark gray suit jacket, her badge on a chain around her neck. I guessed her to be in her early thirties. “Pierce,” she said. “Agent Mikaela. FBI Paranormal Response Unit.”

    This was the first I’d heard of such a thing, but I wouldn’t argue that it was unnecessary. The clouds above Towerline proved its necessity easily enough.

    “Agent,” my grandfather said, shaking her hand. “Chuck Merit. Catcher Bell, my associate.”

    She nodded at them. “I’m based in New York, but I’ve heard a lot about your work in Chicago.” She looked at us. “And I’ve heard a lot about you, Ethan and Merit.”

    “Do you know Victor Garcia?” Ethan asked. He was the head of New York’s Cabot House.

    “I do,” she said with a wry smile. “He asked me to pass along his good wishes if I saw you, and said you could call him if you wanted to check my bona fides.”

    Ethan smiled, appreciating that she’d prepared for this meeting. “I’ll keep that in mind. What brings you to Chicago?”

    “The peace and quiet,” she said, without missing a beat. “Should we turn to the magic?”

    “Let’s do,” my grandfather said.

    “We’ve scanned the building looking for heat signals and movement,” she said, “and found nothing. Sorcha, if she has returned to Chicago, isn’t in the building. The chopper will be reporting momentarily.”

    Pierce put a finger against her ear as the thwack of helicopter blades began to beat the air overhead. “First copter report coming in,” she said. “And . . . the roof is empty. There’s no indication of movement or activity.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire