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  • Blade Bound(Chicagoland Vampires #13)(89) by Chloe Neill
  • “She wants a weapon,” Catcher concluded, nodding at me. “Just like we were supposed to be.”

    “The Egregore is sentient,” I said. “If she can control it, it can fight us on her behalf.”

    Mallory nodded. “We think that’s where she’s going, too.” She gestured to the book. “But we haven’t had time to get further in the book, so we don’t know what she’ll try next, or how the weather relates to it.”

    “Another question,” I said. “If the Egregore is going to be her weapon, why does she want us? Why the ultimatum?”

    “Revenge,” Ethan said, and the word hung in the air, heavy and dangerous.

    “I’m sure that’s part of it,” Mallory said. “But that can’t be all of it. She’s creating a spectacle, sure. But she’s also giving us a chance to prepare, to be ready. To be armed. We’re missing something. Something involving the Egregore and us together. I just can’t see what it is. I either need more time to work through the Danzig”—she turned to Catcher—“or I need to go to the source.”

    Catcher glared back. “Don’t even think what you’re thinking. Jumping into her arms won’t change anything.”

    “I love you, but you don’t even know the half of what I’m thinking right now.” Mallory’s teeth were gritted with anger, every word bitten off like a bitter seed.

    “He’s right.”

    We looked back at my grandfather in the doorway. He walked in, Jeff by his side.

    “How much of that did you get?” Catcher asked.

    “Enough,” he said. “We’ll get the details later.” He sat down beside Mallory, clasped his hands together. “Even if you and Merit walked right up to her, offered yourselves, do you think it would make a difference? Do you think it would change anything?”

    “Probably not,” Mallory admitted. “But if there’s a one percent chance she’d back down? That if we go to her, turn ourselves in, she takes her ice and her couture and walks away? Isn’t that worth taking to save the city?”

    “Mallory,” Catcher said, “you know the math doesn’t work that way.”

    “It’s just an example,” she said, and rubbed a hand over her face.

    It might have been an example, but she had a point. I didn’t want that many people on my conscience, weighing it down.

    “I need more time,” she said. “We all need more time.”

    “I’m sure she realizes that,” Ethan said. “Which is why time is a luxury she isn’t giving us.” Ethan looked at my grandfather. “What’s the situation outside?”

    “The city is frozen and, because of it, quiet. The governor has called in the National Guard, and they’re helping those who’ve opted to evacuate. There’ve been two more instances of humans having delusions, which sent four people to the hospital. No fatalities, thank goodness. And there are protestors on your lawn.”

    “Protesting?” Ethan said, gritting out the word. “Protesting what?”

    My grandfather looked at me. “They demand Merit and Mallory immediately surrender for the safety of the city.”

    Protestors were nothing new. Much like the House’s fans, their numbers waxed and waned, usually depending on the weather and our news coverage. But that didn’t much matter to Ethan.

    His magic flared like a burst of energy from the sun. “They would dare . . . They would dare to come near my House and advocate for the death of my wife?”

    I could feel his building rage, like a storm that tinted the horizon. I touched his arm, but he just flashed those blazing eyes at me.

    “No,” he said. “I will take many things from humans, Merit. But this is not one of them.” He turned on his heel and stormed down the hallway, leaving the rest of us staring.

    CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

    MERE MORTALS

    We followed him down the hall, reaching the foyer as he pulled open the door with enough force that it bounced against the wall, leaving a dent in the plaster.

    There were vampires in the hallway, in the foyer. Vampires bundled against the chill, and their gazes slipped away as we moved past them. There was guilt in their eyes—either that Mallory and I had been the unlucky ones called out, or that they’d thought accepting Sorcha’s proposal was a good idea.

    I bit my tongue, kept my eyes on Ethan. Ignoring the snow, the ice, the chill, Ethan strode down the sidewalk like a warrior heading into battle, then through the gate to the sidewalk outside.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire