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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 6)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(6) by Chloe Neill
  • To avoid contaminating the sample, I didn’t pluck it free. Instead, I pulled out my phone, leaned forward, trying to avoid the mud as I took a photograph.

    The broken portion of fence stood above a three- or four-foot dip in the ground, which was bare of grass and muddy. The dip would have provided a nice bit of cover for someone trying to sneak out of the cemetery. And sure enough, there were streaks in the mud where someone had slipped as they’d moved under the fence.

    But the group that burst through the trees came from the other direction.

    There were three of them. The girl was tall and lithe, with dark skin, short hair, wide eyes, and pretty, symmetrical features. The men had pale skin and brown hair. The one in front was shorter, the one in back taller, with wider shoulders and large headphones fitted over his ears. They all wore polo shirts with CPAN embroidered on the pocket.

    “Did you get him?” the shorter man asked, nearly out of breath.

    Even in my party dress, I’d taken a defensive position. They were humans, with no whiff of magic or weapons about them.

    “Did I get whom?” I asked.

    The shorter man glanced at me, then at the fence. “The summoner of the ghost whose energy is all over the freaking place. Did you see him?”

    “I didn’t see anyone but you.” I narrowed my gaze. “Who are you?”

    The shorter man bowed from the waist. “The Chicago Paranormal Action Network. Paranormal investigators,” he added at my raised brows.

    Ghosthunters, I figured, searching the cemetery for signs of unusual “life.”

    “I’m Robin Vines. These are Roz Leary and Matt Birdsong.” He pointed to the woman and taller man in turn. “And you’re Merit of Cadogan House. What a night this is!”

    His voice was quick, his words little bullets of sound. I held up a hand. “Hold on. Why do you think the summoner went this way?”

    “There’s a spirit,” Matt said, his voice a deep baritone rumble, his gaze on the box into which his headphones were plugged. “Some serious supernatural activity.”

    “You’re a vampire,” Roz said. “Can’t you feel it?” There was something slightly snippy in her tone, and very snippy in her expression. She looked at my dress with disdain, as if finding the outfit unsatisfactory for the work.

    I kept my gaze level, flat. “I didn’t ask about the magic,” I said, and shifted my eyes back to Robin. “Who are you chasing?”

    “We saw someone running,” Robin said, pointing to the fence. “And trailing magic behind him. But we lost him in the trees.”

    “‘Him’?” I said. “You saw a man?”

    “Pretty sure,” Robin said, and looked at Roz and Matt for confirmation. They both shrugged.

    “It’s dark,” Roz said. “Could have been a guy; could have been a girl.”

    “Built like a guy,” Matt said. “On the tall side.” He gestured behind him. “After we lost him, we saw a white sedan hauling ass out of here, squealing tires and everything. We ran toward the fence, came over that little rise, and here you were. Did you see the car?”

    “I didn’t.” But that could have been an issue of timing. “Why are you in a cemetery after hours?”

    “We were up the street at the Malone house,” Robin said, gesturing north.

    “It’s a former bordello,” Roz said. “A very reliable supernatural hot spot. It was quiet tonight, but then our instruments went crazy. We tracked the energy over here.”

    “It’s scattered all over hell and back,” Matt said, frowning now. “Didn’t find the hot spot or the person who created it.”

    Since they didn’t mention the grave, I had to assume they hadn’t found it yet. That could also be an issue of timing.

    “How’d you get in?” I asked. “The front gate is locked.”

    Robin grinned sheepishly. “Oak tree on the corner has a huge branch that pops right over the fence. Easiest way in and out if you don’t want to hack through a lock.” He looked back at the breached portion of the fence. “If we’d known this was already here, we’d have come in this way.”

    He cocked his head at me like a scientist examining a particularly curious specimen. “You didn’t summon the ghost, did you? I didn’t think vampires can do that.”

    “I didn’t. But I’m very interested in who might have, as are my colleagues. Let’s take a walk,” I said, and directed them back to the path.

    • • •

    We reached the front of the cemetery just as my grandfather’s vehicle, a white panel van with OMBUDSMAN printed on the side, pulled up. The doors opened, and my grandfather and Catcher climbed out. Catcher had changed from party attire into casual wear, and wore one of his characteristic snarky T-shirts. This one was dark green with MY MAGIC > YOUR MAGIC across the front in bright letters.

    Ombuddy number three, shape-shifter Jeff Christopher, hopped out of the back. He had shoulder-length brown hair, currently tucked behind his ears, and a thin frame that belied the power of the enormous tiger he could shift into.

    For a moment, everyone looked at everyone else.

    “I’ll start,” I said. “Ethan of Cadogan House; Chuck, Catcher, and Jeff of the Ombudsman’s office; Annabelle of the Illinois MVD Association; and Robin, Matt, and Roz of the Chicago Paranormal Action Network.” I wasn’t sure if Annabelle was publicly out as a necromancer, so I stuck to her professional affiliation.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire