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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 9)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(9) by Chloe Neill
  • “Then we will,” he said, his voice soothing and encouraging at the same time.

    Margot nodded. “I was looking through the wine, and this really cold breeze blew through the room. It does that sometimes, because the tunnels are so cold. But this felt different.”

    “How?” Ethan asked, the word carefully and precisely spoken.

    Margot frowned. “I don’t know. It was a different kind of cold. Not just temperature cold, but sensation cold. Like there was something—I don’t know—thick in the air.”

    I didn’t need to see Ethan’s face to know what emotions marked it: alarm and concern at the similarity between what Margot was telling us now and what we’d felt earlier tonight.

    “I didn’t like it,” Margot said, “so I hurried a little faster. And then . . .” She paused, obviously struggling with what to say. “I found the bottle I wanted, had just turned around to head back out. And I felt a push.” She half turned, showing her back. “Right in the middle of my shoulder blades. I’d have sworn I felt a cold hand in the middle of my back, like heaving me forward. But that’s impossible, right?”

    She looked up at us, and I wasn’t sure if she wanted us to say yes or no. Margot was as steady and reliable as they came; whatever had happened down there had clearly left her shaken.

    “You didn’t see anyone?” Ethan asked. “Or hear anyone?”

    “I was alone down there. Or I thought I was. I fell, hit my head on one of the shelves. When I got up and didn’t see anything, I felt a little crazy.”

    “Someone pushed you down in Tunnel Three.” Ethan’s recitation was matter-of-fact, but I knew emotion bristled behind the words. Confusion, anger, surprise.

    One of the vampires on Margot’s staff brought over a steaming mug scented with honey and bergamot.

    “Thought you could use this,” the vampire said, then nodded at the rest of us.

    “Thanks,” Margot said, and wrapped her fingers around the mug. “I’m all right,” she said. “Go on back to work.”

    “A good idea for everyone,” said a voice behind us.

    Delia, the House’s physician, stepped forward. She wore pink scrubs and tennis shoes beneath a white doctor’s jacket, and must have just come in from the hospital. “It’s doctor-patient time.”

    “She’s the real boss,” Ethan said, and bent down to press his lips to the top of Margot’s head. “We’ll just be down the hall. Call if you need us.”

    “Ditto that,” I said, and squeezed her hand. She nodded gratefully, then let Delia get to work, the doctor’s dark hands moving carefully across Margot’s face, checking for injuries.

    Luc, Lindsey, Malik, and I followed Ethan back to his office.

    “She wouldn’t let me call you,” Lindsey said when Ethan closed the door. “She’s really trying to downplay it.”

    “Why do you think that is?” I asked.

    “I’m not sure. You know Margot’s solid,” she said. “She knows how to take care of herself, and she doesn’t scare easily. But this has her twisted, maybe because of how it felt, maybe because she didn’t see anything afterward. No one wants to look foolish or cowardly, especially in front of a Master and Sentinel.”

    That made me feel worse.

    Ethan looked at Luc. “The security footage?”

    “We haven’t checked it yet. We don’t keep the tunnels on the main monitors, but the cameras have motion sensors. They’d have been triggered when she went down there.” He looked at us, eyes narrowed. “You know something here, hoss?”

    “I don’t know,” Ethan said. “Let’s see what the video has to say first.”

    • • •

    We moved downstairs to the House’s basement Ops Room, where Luc pulled up the surveillance video. It was in color, and clear enough for us to see Margot step inside Tunnel Three.

    The space looked bigger than the others, which were just passages into darkness. This tunnel opened into a large, round chamber before narrowing at the other end.

    “It’s big,” I quietly said.

    “We believe it was a trunk for the municipal tunnels,” Ethan said without taking his gaze off the wall screen. “Possibly where coal delivery trains could be turned around.”

    Margot walked to a set of dark wood shelves, presumably the wine storage, and ran her fingers across the ends of the bottles. Then she stopped moving, fingers still extended like a dancer perfecting a position. She glanced over her shoulder, the motion slow and careful, as if afraid she’d alert whatever had startled her.

    But there was nothing there. Nothing but tunnel, Margot, and shelves.

    She looked behind her for a moment longer, then turned back to the wine, shaking her head and smiling sheepishly, embarrassed she’d been afraid. And when she exhaled, her breath came out in a cold fog.

    “The temperature dropped,” Luc said, and fear knotted in my gut.

    That was only the beginning.

    “Jesus,” Ethan murmured as something smoky and gray and sinewy snaked across the floor toward his Novitiate. The power of his concern, the buzz of his magic, filled the air around us.

    While Margot picked through bottles—turning some to view the labels, checking what I guessed was an inventory list on the end of each row—the thing moved closer to her, the fog coalescing into something that looked almost solid and was nearly, but not quite, the shape of a man . . .

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire