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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 10)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(10) by Chloe Neill
  • Margot selected a bottle, turned for the door.

    The man, or the ghostly approximation, rushed toward her, hand extended, and shoved her forward. The bottle flew from her hand, smashing on the concrete a few feet away and throwing up a spray of wine as she fell, striking her head on the edge of a shelf.

    She stayed there for a moment, obviously stunned, before gathering up the nerve to look. By the time she did, the man had dissipated into haze and disappeared again.

    Margot rose to her feet unsteadily, pressed a hand to her head, stumbled a bit as she took a step. Pity burned my throat at the sight of her, of the confusion and fear and pain in her eyes. But she seemed to steel herself, took a breath, and headed for the door. She didn’t glance back again.

    The video went dark, and silence fell in the Ops Room.

    “Did we cause this?” I asked into the quiet, thinking of cold and viscous magic, of a spirit summoned into our world.

    Luc frowned. “How could you have caused this?”

    Ethan rubbed his fingers across his forehead. “Annabelle found a disturbed grave at Almshouse Cemetery—Cook County’s potter’s field—asked us to take a look. The grave had been opened, the skull taken. She believed the spirit had been summoned.”

    Luc’s brows lifted. “By who?”

    “She didn’t know, but likely someone who’d been there not long before she arrived. The wards weren’t tripped. So it wasn’t Sorcha.”

    “We could feel the magic at the cemetery,” I said. “The same kind of energy Margot described.”

    “Did you see anything?” Luc asked, and we shook our heads.

    “No,” Ethan said, “but there’s no question something was summoned. The magic was evident, and Annabelle believed it was more than just a disturbed ghost.”

    Luc frowned again. “So what are you saying? That the ghost someone called up at Almshouse Cemetery is now haunting Cadogan House? That’s impossible.”

    I looked at Ethan, all but felt the guilt etch into my features. “Not if we brought it home.”

    Luc and Lindsey went pale. Given that they were vampires, that was something.

    “How could that have happened?” Lindsey asked, her voice barely a whisper. She was as brave as anyone I knew. But even vampires had limits where the supernatural was concerned. The risen dead were apparently among hers.

    “I’ve no idea,” Ethan said, reaching out to squeeze my hand. “Certainly not intentionally. We left Chuck, Catcher, Jeff, and Annabelle at the cemetery, did nothing magical between the cemetery and the House. We went to Portillo’s for god’s sake.”

    “The ride felt heavy.”

    Lindsey looked at me. “Heavy?”

    “I felt kind of weighed down,” I said. “I thought it was just a funk from being in the cemetery, the disturbed grave, the horror story factor. Maybe not?”

    Ethan looked at Luc. “I want the tunnel locked, and I want the cameras running and the feed monitored twenty-four seven.” That meant enlisting our human counterparts for the job, since we’d be out of commission during daylight hours.

    “We can’t show the tape to Margot,” Lindsey said, then looked around at the other guards in the room. “She’d freak, and there’s nothing she can do about it.”

    “We can’t show this to her,” Ethan agreed. “Nor does anyone outside this room see it.” Each guard nodded his or her approval.

    “We’ll still have to warn the Novitiates,” Luc said quietly, not wanting to argue with his Master. “Just in case.”

    Ethan nodded. “Send an electronic bulletin, and make sure they’re on alert. In the meantime, we investigate. We figure out what followed us from the cemetery.”

    “First things first,” I said, rising from my seat. “I want to take a look at the tunnel.”

    • • •

    If I was being honest, I didn’t want to look at the tunnel; I wanted to put a cork in this night and climb into bed with Ethan and a bottle of that Pinot. But I needed to look at it, because I stood Sentinel of the House and Margot was a friend.

    A short set of stairs led down from the basement, ending at an imposing metal door with THREE stenciled in black paint. Luc pushed it open, flipped on the lights, and we followed him inside.

    The floor was concrete, the walls brick, the lights industrial—metal cages with bare bulbs. The room smelled of old and damp air, brick dust and water and earth, and the tang of spilled wine from the broken bottle in the middle of the room. A dark puddle had stained the concrete.

    It was cold. Both because it was underground and because of the dense lingering magic. The same magic we’d felt in the cemetery.

    Ethan, I silently said.

    He nodded. I can feel it.

    I ignored the grasping fingers of fear and walked into a small alcove on the room’s left-hand side. The wine racks, a dozen rows of dark wood, were tucked like library shelves in the nook. There were hundreds of bottles, some of them clean and shiny, others covered in a layer of dust.

    “You have quite a collection,” I said.

    His mouth curled with amusement. “Didn’t you ever wonder where the wine you enjoy comes from?”

    “I presumed France or Chile or California,” I said with a sly smile. “I hadn’t really gotten more specific than that.” I paused. “I don’t see any evidence of magic.” There were no symbols, no char marks, no books or random bits of charms. I wasn’t entirely sure how to investigate a ghost who didn’t leave physical clues.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire