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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Blade Bound (Chapter 63)      Page
  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(63) by Chloe Neill
  • Winston Stiles sat on the edge of a metal bed fitted into the wall, a short mattress on top of it. His elbows were on his knees, his hands linked together, his eyes closed. His brow was heavy, his mouth moving in silent speech, as if he was saying a prayer.

    He seemed smaller in the pale blue jumpsuit. He looked cleaner, his hair brushed and face shaved. He also looked more alert, and a little less delusional. But his skin was still pale, his eyes hollow, his cheeks sunken.

    “Mr. Stiles,” Ethan said.

    He blinked, turned his head toward us. And his eyes widened, horror blooming there. “It’s you.” He jumped up, ran to the bars so quickly I stepped in front of Ethan, pushing him back. From the sound, that didn’t make Ethan happy, and it unnerved Mr. Stiles.

    He wrapped his fingers around the bars that lined the front of his cube, looked at me with pleading eyes. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry about what happened.” He looked at Ethan. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to do—I was overcome. I wanted help, and I couldn’t figure out how to make it stop, and I just . . . I just lost it.” His face fell, guilt heavy around his eyes as he looked back at me. “I’m sorry.”

    “It’s okay, Mr. Stiles,” I said, offering him what comfort I could from behind the yellow line. “We know it isn’t your fault.”

    “You do?”

    “You didn’t cause the trouble, Mr. Stiles,” Ethan said. “You were a victim of it. And we’re trying to identify the perpetrator.”

    “Please, call me Winston. The perpetrator . . .” His voice trailed off as he considered the word and its implications. “You think someone did this to me? You think I’m not just crazy?”

    “You aren’t crazy, Winston,” I said. “We think you were affected by magic. But we don’t know why, and we aren’t sure how.”

    “There was another incident last night,” Ethan explained. “Downtown. More people like you heard things that upset them, made them fight each other. Something is doing this to people. But we aren’t sure what. That’s why we’re here.”

    He nodded, pulled a hand across his jaw. “All right. All right.”

    “Winston, can you tell us about the voice you heard?” I asked. “What was it saying?”

    He scratched his temple. “The only words I remember were ‘hello’ and ‘I am here.’ He said those words a lot.”

    “He?” I asked. “It was male?”

    He paused. “Well, yeah. I guess I didn’t think about that, but yes. I think it was a male voice. It was deep in that way. I had the sense he wanted someone to hear him. Desperately wanted it. Like he was hurting and confused and needed to be acknowledged.”

    “He was hurt?” I asked. “He needed help?”

    “Maybe, but I don’t really know. It wasn’t that specific, if you understand me. It was just begging, really.”

    Ethan nodded. “Could you tell where the voice was coming from?”

    “No, other than inside my head, I mean. I know that sounds crazy, but I could hear him—really hear him, like someone turned up the volume on the television. It wasn’t like a hallucination, or like I was pretending. It was real, except I was the only one who could hear it.”

    “Was it only a sound?” Ethan asked. “Did you happen to see anything? Hear anything else?”

    “Well, no. It was just the words. Just the same words, over and over and over again. And loud. So very loud.” He rubbed his earlobe, winced.

    Ah, but it wasn’t just the noise, was it? “What about smell, Winston? Did you smell anything?”

    He looked confused. “Smell anything?”

    “When you heard the voice, or maybe just before you started hearing it, did you smell anything unusual?”

    He looked down, gaze slightly unfocused as he considered the question. “Now that you mention it, yeah. Many years ago, I worked at a plant in Skokie—we made certain beauty products—nail polish and the like. There was usually a whiff of solvent in the air.

    “When I first started hearing the voice, I guess, I smelled something like that. Not the same, but an industrial kind of smell, if that makes sense.”

    “It does make sense,” I said, and Winston’s smile was appreciative.

    “Do you smell anything now?” Ethan asked. “Hear anything?”

    “Oh no. Not since they put me out. I do get memories, though. The words were so loud that I remember hearing them.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire