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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 11)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(11) by Chloe Neill
  • I thought of the ghosthunters we’d met at the cemetery and looked back at Luc. “I don’t suppose you’ve got any of those gadgets they use on TV to find ghosts.”

    “Merit,” Ethan quietly said, the word nearly a sigh and full of regret.

    “No,” Luc said, excitement dawning in his eyes. “But I’m pretty sure I could hire someone who’s got them.” He looked at Ethan. “You ready to commit to a full EMF sweep of the premises?”

    I guessed this wasn’t the first time Ethan and Luc had had this conversation. Sorry, I told Ethan, but had trouble biting back a smile. Luc’s enthusiasm made this situation a little less disturbing.

    Ethan simmered silently for a moment. “Merit will get a message to Catcher and Chuck, and she’ll call Annabelle. Perhaps this is an issue Annabelle’ best situated to investigate. If not, we happened to run into individuals who might be.” He walked to the front rack, selected a bottle of wine. “As for now, I need a drink.”

    • • •

    He took crystal glasses from his office, met me in our apartments. We didn’t need the warmth, but he turned off the lights and lit the fire, letting shadows dance across the room’s high ceiling.

    While he uncorked the wine, I sent the Ombuddies a message and called Annabelle.

    “Hey, Merit,” she answered. “Did Chuck find something?”

    “Not that I’m aware of, although something else has happened that might be related. Is it possible for a ghost to travel?”

    “Sure,” she said, and my stomach twisted at the simple confidence in her word. “That’s how they move from plane to plane, after all. Why do you ask?”

    “Because I think one may have followed us home.” I told her what had happened to Margot and what we’d seen.

    “Interesting,” Annabelle said. “It’s unusual for a spirit to hitchhike, so to speak, but not unheard of. He must have been drawn by your magic, or maybe your immortality.”

    Knowing that was a possibility didn’t make me feel any better. But there was still work to be done. “We’ll want someone to, I guess, take a look at the tunnel, supernaturally speaking, and whatever goes along with that. Is that something you can do?”

    Annabelle’s flat and decisive “no” surprised me.

    “Oh,” I said, taken aback. Not the answer I’d been expecting, and I was more than a little stung by the quick refusal. After all, we’d come when she’d called.

    “I mean—damn it,” she said. “I’d like to say yes. And not just because I’d love to take a look inside Cadogan House. The thing is, I’m not allowed to.”

    “Why aren’t you allowed to?”

    “Because of the Order,” she said.

    If I remembered what she’d told me correctly, the Order wasn’t particularly fond of necromancers and had refused to grant them membership in their organization.

    “I work in graveyards,” she said. “And according to the deal made by the Order and the MVD”—that was the necromancers’ group—“I’m only allowed to work graveyards. Anything else is a breach of that contract.”

    I knew enough about the Order from Catcher and Mallory, and while nothing Annabelle had said was especially shocking, it still sounded unusually harsh.

    “I’m surprised the MVD made that deal,” I said.

    “Blame Sorcha,” she said. “It’s one of the changes they made after Towerline.” That had been our final showdown with the sorceress, a brutal magical and physical fight. “The Order made some big argument about specialization, and the need for clear licensing to keep people from accusing us of being like Sorcha. In reality, it just enforces the hierarchy they prefer.”

    “With Order-licensed sorcerers at the top.”

    “Pretty much.”

    “So who works outside graveyards if not necromancers?”

    “Only Order-approved sorcerers. And I’m not aware of any who practice that kind of magic in Chicago. Since it could bump right up against dark magic, the Order would regulate it pretty tightly. But,” she said, drawing out the word, “since I’m currently standing in my house, and neither the MVD nor the Order have any damn authority here, you can send me the video if you want.” I heard what sounded like the whistling of a teakettle, the shuffle of ceramic. “I can take a look at it. Maybe I’ll recognize something.”

    “That would be great. I’ll have Luc get it to you.” She gave me her e-mail address, and I jotted it down to send to Luc later.

    “If you’re willing to think outside the box,” she said, “you could try the paranormal investigators who showed up tonight. I’m not saying I think they’re legit—this isn’t an endorsement—but they had the right equipment. If they’re worth their salt, they’ll be able to confirm you’ve got a ghost instead of some other supernatural, help identify it, and get you in touch with sorcerers who can send it home again.”

    “It’s a place to start,” I agreed, and thanked her for the help.

    • • •

    Ethan directed Luc to check out CPAN, engage them if appropriate. Then I joined him in front of the fire and greedily accepted the glass of dark wine he offered.

    “This night,” I said, and watched the flames move and shift from orange to blue to white.

    “It’s been an unusual one,” he agreed, and clinked his glass gently against mine. “We crossed a milestone tonight,” he said with a smile. “Our first shower.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire