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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(68) by Chloe Neill
  • He glanced at me. “Sentinel?”

    “Agreed. Odds are, she wants to talk about the same things the rest of us want to talk about.”

    “The weather,” Malik said, without irony.

    “The weather,” I said.

    “I concur,” Ethan said. “Lock down the House. I want everyone on full alert, just in case. We’ll be there in—”

    “Two minutes,” Brody supplied, meeting Ethan’s gaze in the rearview mirror.

    “Two minutes,” Ethan said with a nod. “Let’s be on our toes.”

    • • •

    Tires squealed as Brody pulled the vehicle to a stop in front of the House.

    “Ready?” Ethan asked Luc.

    “Ready as we’ll ever be when a few dozen mercenary fairies come to the door.”

    “Then, let’s go,” Ethan said, and the audio went quiet.

    Brody opened Ethan’s door, and we walked to the gate, nodded at the guards, who stepped aside to let us enter the grounds. At the same time, Malik opened the House’s door, walked out first, Luc and Lindsey behind him, then Kelley and Juliet.

    The fairies, uniformly lean, with sculpted cheekbones and long, dark hair, all of them clad in identical head-to-toe black, stood in a wide triangle, the point facing the gate, the broad side facing the House. They were a striking, graphic contrast to the inch of snow that covered the lawn.

    They parted as we approached, splitting with mathematical precision along the sidewalk. And when the last line of them split, she turned to face us.

    She stood in front of that line of fairies, an absolute vision. Her skin was milk white, her hair long and wavy and strawberry blond and topped by a delicate ring of white flowers. Lily of the valley, just like the ones in my bouquet. She wore her usually diaphanous white gown, her voluptuous body easily visible beneath it.

    But there was a difference. Claudia had always been beautiful, but millennia trapped in a tower had begun to take their toll. Tonight, the age and fatigue that had pulled at her skin had been brushed away, as if by an artist with a very skilled hand.

    She was stunningly beautiful. And very, very dangerous.

    “Claudia,” Ethan said.

    “Bloodletter.” She slid her gaze, full of peril and old magic, at me. “Consort.”

    “Wife,” Ethan corrected.

    She looked dubious at the distinction. Fairies didn’t believe in love, or so they said.

    “Why are you here?” Ethan asked.

    “The world is changing.” There was a hint of Ireland in her voice, a trill that hadn’t been there before. She held out a hand, watched the snowflakes that settled on her palm, then blew them away. The flakes sparked, dissipated.

    “So we are aware,” Ethan said. “I’ve allowed you onto my grounds, Claudia, despite your previous treachery. Tell me what you want, or be on your way.”

    I wasn’t sure that was the best tone to take with a dangerous woman who’d brought her dangerous army. I put a hand on my katana, just in case.

    “There is no need for threats,” she said, and flicked a hand in the air.

    Something brushed across my hand. A thin green vine had bloomed from my katana’s lacquered sheath and slunk toward the sword’s handle, twining around it to keep it in place. Leaves, small and brilliantly green, split from the vine and uncurled, sending the scents of new spring leaves and powdery flowers into the air.

    This was old magic, fairy magic. Magic she’d been able to access before she’d voluntarily given it up. She’d loved Dominic, Seth’s literal evil twin, and had given up her magic to save him, even while maintaining that fairies were above such base emotions.

    She wasn’t supposed to have this magic anymore.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire