• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 4)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(4) by Chloe Neill
  • “What do we know about the cemetery?” Ethan asked after he’d alerted Malik to our schedule change and redirected the car.

    I did a quick search. “According to the Internet, Almshouse Cemetery was established by Cook County in 1861. It’s where the county buried people without other options—who weren’t claimed by their family, who died in epidemics, who couldn’t be identified after the Great Fire, what have you.”

    “Is it still in use?”

    I paused to read further. “Only in a limited capacity. There are a few family plots, and family members are still interred there. Once those spaces are full, it will be closed to new burials.”

    Edging toward creeped out, I put the phone away again. “Is grave desecration something you’ve run into before?”

    “Not personally, although it has existed as long as humans have,” Ethan said, one hand on the wheel, his gaze intent on the dark streets. “Graves are robbed in times of peace, in times of war. In the interest of greed and science. But in the middle of Chicago?” He shook his head. “Not to my recollection.”

    His brow was furrowed with concern, and I knew he was thinking of Sorcha.

    Although we’d stopped her magic, she’d escaped the hold of the Chicago Police Department. Two months had passed, and there’d been no word from her, no trigger of the magical alarms set around the city to warn us if she tried anything. But it was hard to shake the feeling that we were just biding our time.

    I put a hand over his. “There’s no point in worrying about what we might find. It won’t change anything. We’ll see what we see”—I linked our fingers together—“and we’ll deal with it.”

    We always did.

    • • •

    The neighborhood was dark. It was residential but rural, at least by Chicago standards, and there were no streetlights. Clouds obscured what little moonlight might have penetrated the darkness, creating an odd pool of shadow not far from one of the biggest cities in the world. That didn’t make me any happier about our current task; cemeteries were not my thing.

    Annabelle’s car was parked at the curb outside the cemetery. She leaned against it, and looked up from her phone at the sound of Ethan’s car. The movement rustled the shimmery dark tunic she’d paired with loose silver pants and sandals. Her skin was dark, her hair in braids she’d piled into a complicated knot.

    “Merit, Ethan,” she said. “I sorry I interrupted your evening.”

    “Think nothing of it,” Ethan said with a smile and a touch on her arm. “We were already in the car, and we’re happy to see you, if under unfortunate circumstances.”

    “How are Marley and Maddy?” I asked her.

    Marley was Annabelle’s four-year-old daughter. Maddy, the newest addition to her family, was almost two months old.

    “They’re good,” she said, grinning. “Hard to leave Maddy at her age, but duty calls.”

    She led us to the gate in the rusted and wavy chain-link fence that surrounded the graveyard. We’d visited cemeteries with Annabelle before—lush gardens of roses and marble, where the living could pretend death was something secret and majestic. But there was no wrought-iron here, no overflowing urns of flowers. No fuss, no ornamentation, no apparent concern about easing the transition between life and death.

    The gate was closed and locked, bound to its post with a thick silver chain. Annabelle pulled a necklace over her head, inserted a key into the lock, and when it unsnapped with an audible click, pulled the chain free and pushed the gate open. Magic flowed like water through the gap, perhaps released by the gate’s opening or drawn to Annabelle and her connection to the dead.

    The energy of the deceased was unique among magicks, or at least those I’d experienced so far. It was thicker and, when it brushed against skin, felt tangible. But unlike the last time I’d been near a ghost, the magic was sharply cold—potent peppermint against the skin. It had been early spring then, the temperature already cold, so I probably hadn’t noticed the difference. Now it was midsummer, and the chill of magic was a shocking contrast to the warm night air.

    Goose bumps lifted on my arms.

    “The ghost is still here,” Ethan said.

    Annabelle nodded. “Not just a spirit that needs to communicate; the energy is too strong. This spirit was purposefully called and manifested into our world.”

    That meant intentional magic. “Is there evidence of alchemy?” I asked.

    Annabelle’s eyes went cold. We weren’t the only ones who hadn’t liked Sorcha and her unusual brand of magic. “I’ve seen the grave, not the spirit yet. But I haven’t felt or seen anything that suggests this was her doing.”

    Ethan nodded, gestured to the opening into the graveyard. “Let’s take a look.”

    • • •

    We strode in silence down the gravel path that bisected the grounds. Around us, crickets and katydids chirped with abandon, and the wind rustled leaves in the summer-full trees. Gravestones were few and far between. There were a handful of tall pedestals, a few granite slabs, and a lot of small metal plates hardly larger than plant markers.

    “Some are mass graves,” Annabelle quietly said. “Some are individual. As you can see, the marking is spotty.”

    I nodded. “We did some research on the way. Are the deceased differently active here? I mean, because of the way they died—or because they weren’t claimed?” It seemed that would lead to many more uneasy souls.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire