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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Blade Bound (Chapter 56)      Page
  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(56) by Chloe Neill
  • Kid overboard, I told Ethan. I’m going after him.

    Be careful, he said, but I was already moving, not bothering to wait for a response.

    The child had fallen on the side that tilted toward the water, probably having slipped on the snow that was hardening like concrete around the deck as the temperature began to fall. The ice vampire cometh, I thought, and went to my knees at the railing. There were ropes that linked one deck to the other on this part of the ship. If I was careful, and really lucky, I might be able to get a toehold.

    I was glad I’d worn my boots.

    “My baby!” the mom screamed as I stood up, put one leg over the railing.

    “What’s his name?” I asked her, putting the other leg over, which left me cantilevered backward along the side of the boat. I kept an iron grip on freezing steel with frigid fingers. Too bad I hadn’t thought to wear gloves.

    “Stephen,” she said, kneading her fingers with understandable nerves. “His name is Stephen.”

    “I’m going to get him and bring him back to you.” I looked around for something helpful for her to do. “Grab that life buoy,” I told her, gesturing to the white ring with red stenciled letters that hung along the railing a few feet away.

    “Keep the rope attached to it, and come stand near the rail. When I give you the signal, throw it down to me.”

    She nodded, picked her way across the slanted deck with both hands on the rail, and unhooked the ring.

    I took a breath and took the first toe off the bottom rail, stretching down and searching for the rope that hung below.

    But I was too short, or the rope was too far away, depending on your perspective. I’d have to drop both feet.

    “Fingers, don’t fail me now,” I murmured, and let go of one railing to grip the next one down, then moved hand over hand until I hung from the bottom rail, feet suspended in midair due to the boat’s list. My wedding and engagement rings bit into my finger, but I ignored the pain, focused on finding the rope with my toe. The tilted deck put the rope at least a foot in front of me, so I had to swing like a gymnast to bow forward. It took a moment of ungainly scrambling, but my toes made purchase.

    I glanced down, fought off the sudden vertigo caused by the bobbing water beneath me. The river was only a few feet down now, a small drop. But his plate of ice had moved a few feet away, driven by the river’s current. Another plate of ice had taken its place.

    There was no help for it. I kept my gaze on the ice, ticked off the seconds until I could land as squarely as possible, and let go.

    I hit the ice in a crouch, square in the middle.

    And I should have known better than to get cocky about it.

    There was a splash on the other side of the boat, a scream. Someone else had fallen into the water. And that movement, as slight as it was, tilted the ice. Before I could react, the sheet tilted, sending me sliding backward. The shift in my weight tilted the ice further, and there was nothing to grab, nothing to hold on to.

    The woman at the railing screamed, and then I was underwater.



    The chill was instantly painful, every cell and nerve screaming simultaneous alerts that something was very, very wrong. That the water was much too cold, the temperature much too low, and I was in too much danger.

    I bobbed up, sucked in air, pushed frigid water from my eyes. I grabbed at the closest sheet of ice, looking for a fingerhold so I could claw my way onto it. But my fingers and toes were numbing, and it was hard to grab. And there was no point in it, I realized, my brain logy. If I was in the water, I might as well aim for the ice the kid was actually on.

    I paddled through the slush, pushing ice out of the way, my fingers blue with cold, to the ice floe where Stephen lay crying, hands gripping the edge of the ice. He wore a T-shirt and shorts and was probably as cold as I was.

    “Hi,” I said at the edge of the water, trying not to let him see my teeth chatter. “You’re Stephen, right?”

    He nodded, his enormous blue eyes filled with terror.

    “Excellent. I’m Merit, and I’m going to help you get back on the boat.”

    “Are you a mermaid?”

    “Not exactly,” I said, and turned the ice toward the boat, kicking as I pushed us toward it. I was suddenly in swimming lessons again on a kickboard—except those lessons had never been in freezing water in the middle of the Chicago River.

    I kicked as hard as I could, and could feel the river freezing around my feet. I was kicking upstream and each kick was getting harder, like swimming in thickening sand.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire