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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 7)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(7) by Chloe Neill
  • “Annabelle,” my grandfather said, “it’s nice to see you again. How’s little Maddy?”

    Annabelle’s face lit with joy. “She’s good, Chuck. Thank you for asking.”

    My grandfather gave the CPAN folks a careful glance. “And what brings you to a cemetery in the middle of the night?”

    “A spirit, sir,” Robin said, and stuck out a hand. He shook with everyone while Roz watched warily and Matt, who’d pulled out a small video camera, recorded the action.

    “We’re glad to finally meet you,” Robin continued. “We’ve sent you some literature about our services, in case you have needs in that area.”

    “Of course,” my grandfather said with a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes. They stayed flat and mildly curious, giving away nothing of what he thought of CPAN. Then he looked back at Annabelle. “What did you find?”

    “A disinterred body, minus one skull, and a lot of magic,” Annabelle said.

    “Someone disinterred a body?” Robin asked, and we ignored him.

    Catcher nodded. “You can feel it in the air. A spirit?”

    Annabelle nodded and gave the Ombuddies the rundown while Roz, Robin, and Matt watched and listened.

    “Have the wards been tripped?” Ethan asked.

    “No,” Catcher said, and the word loosened the concern that had tightened my chest.

    Those were the magical alarms set by the Order, the sorcerers’ union, which would warn us if Sorcha tried her magic here again. Even if we hadn’t believed she was the culprit here, it was good to get confirmation.

    “We think we saw the summoner,” Robin put in, hitching a thumb over his shoulder to indicate the cemetery behind him. “We chased him, but he got away.”

    “There’s a trail that tracks the fence around the back of the cemetery,” I said, glancing at my grandfather. “The fence has been cut. The summoner may have come in that way, probably left that way. There’s a scrap of fabric caught in the links,” I said, and pulled out my phone to send Catcher and Jeff the photo. “It looks like the same fabric from the grave.”

    “And the perp left in a sedan,” Matt added. “White, maybe one of those boxy models from the 1980s.”

    “Did you get a plate?” Catcher asked.

    “No, it’s pretty dark out here. No streetlights or anything.”

    My grandfather nodded. “We’ll go in and survey the scene. I’d like to do that before the CPD arrives.” He glanced at the humans. “And we’ll also want to talk to you, get your information. Catcher, if you could take care of that?”

    Catcher nodded, led the humans away. When they were out of earshot, my grandfather turned back to us, looked at me. “Are they telling the truth?”

    “I don’t have any reason to believe they’re lying,” I replied. “They said they were here because they were at the Malone mansion, felt the magic from there.”

    “Oh, one of Chicago’s ‘haunted’ bordellos,” Jeff said with an interested smile. “I forgot that’s up the street.”

    When we all looked at him, his cheeks flushed pink, visible even in the dark. “Who doesn’t love a good ghost story?”

    I, for one, wasn’t much of a fan.

    “The Chicago Paranormal Action Network does, apparently,” I said. “They were out of breath when they found me, said they’d followed magic through the cemetery, but the summoner got away from them.”

    My grandfather nodded, taking that in, and looked at Annabelle. “Thoughts?”

    She glanced over at the humans. Roz and Robin were chatting animatedly with Catcher while Matt took readings near the fence.

    “Necromancers’ goals don’t align with ghosthunters’ goals,” she said. “My mission is to help the deceased find peace and depart from this world. Theirs is to find the deceased who remain here and draw attention to them.”

    “That was diplomatically put,” my grandfather said.

    “I don’t have any particular reason to doubt these kids. But I don’t have any particular reason to trust them, either.”

    My grandfather nodded. “We appreciate your frankness. We’ll take a look and let you know what we find.”

    “I’d be grateful,” Annabelle said. “Especially about the magic. The deceased are my people—and often my clients. I want to know who’s doing this and how. And I want it stopped.”

    “On that,” my grandfather said, “we are much agreed.”

    Ethan and I said our good-byes and headed back to the car for the return trip to Cadogan House. We drove with the windows down, the night air warm and filled with the scents and sounds of the city. I tried to let my fears fly away, but the magic I’d wandered through left a heavy weight in my mind.

    3

    If Cadogan House had been a woman, she’d have been a 1940s pinup. Solid and beautiful, glowing with life, curves in all the right places. Three aboveground stories of stone in the middle of Hyde Park, with lush lawns surrounding it. I loved everything about the House, including the Master who’d brought me there.

    We walked in from the basement parking area, then carried the bounty of our last errand to the first floor, where European antiques mingled with priceless art and beings of the vampire persuasion. We walked past the grand oak staircase and down the main hallway, then past Ethan’s office to the next door on the left.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire