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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 14)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(14) by Chloe Neill
  • How was a woman supposed to resist that?

    • • •

    “Merit found the deceased’s information,” Ethan said when Mallory and Catcher had arrived and we’d escorted them to his office.

    “His name’s Mickey Riley,” I explained as we gathered around the conference table and the tablet I’d set up. “Part of Capone’s gang.”

    Catcher’s brows lifted as he took in the bio, the picture. “He’s a gangster. Interesting.”

    “Interesting face,” Mallory said. “Although that might be overly kind. I don’t like to say this, but he looks kind of . . . evil.”

    “Rough around the edges, certainly,” I said. “He was killed in prison in 1929.”

    “I polled the House,” Ethan said, “and no one here in the early part of the century knew the name.” That included Lindsey, who’d known some less-than-reputable times during her stint as a New York flapper and moll.

    “What’s the latest on your end?” Ethan asked.

    “Mr. Riley’s corpse—well, ninety percent of it—is at the medical examiner’s office,” Catcher said. “He’ll stay there in a climate-controlled environment until the investigation’s complete, at which point he’ll be reinterred, hopefully with all of his parts. As to the perp, there aren’t any security cams in the area and a canvass didn’t turn up any witnesses to the incident, the perp, or the car. But the crime scene team will run prints, swab for DNA. We might find some evidence yet.”

    He crossed his arms, dipped his chin. I’d come to recognize that as Catcher’s “getting down to business” look. “Your ghost,” he said.

    “Annabelle reviewed the video,” I said. “She thinks it’s a ghost but can’t verify conclusively without actually feeling the magic.”

    Catcher nodded. “She’s careful. I like it.”

    “She also confirmed last night it was possible he followed us home.”

    “So you have the summoned spirit of a gangster in the basement of your building.”

    “That seems to be the whole of it,” Ethan said. “I’ve lived for many years, and I’ve had an encounter or two with the recently deceased. But this is a first even for me.”

    Catcher checked his watch. “What time will CPAN be here?”

    Ethan bit back a grin. “Anytime now. Are you familiar with their work?”

    “I’m not,” Catcher said, sliding his gaze to his wife. “But Mallory did a bit of paranormal investigating during her occult phase.”

    Mallory had explored many hobbies before her magic had bubbled to the surface, including an obsession with the supernatural. “I went on one ghost tour,” she said defensively. “They weren’t the ones that led it, and it was my only involvement with ghost-hunting types.” She smiled. “Back then, I preferred my vampires sparkly and my monsters fictional.”

    I gave Catcher a speculative glance. “Has that changed?”

    His look was dour.

    Mallory bumped his shoulder. “I’m surprised in this day and age you don’t have the equipment—the ghost vacuums and poltergeist scrubbers and whatever else.”

    “Poltergeist scrubbers?” Catcher asked.

    Mallory shrugged. “I figure the Ombudsman gets all sorts of supernatural-sundries catalogues. You know—your supernatural-wrangling devices, your detective capes and monocles, that kind of thing.”

    Catcher rolled his eyes at his wife, but a smile curved his lips, just as she’d planned. Spousal management was an undeniably valuable skill.

    “I doubt they’ll bring ghost vacuums or poltergeist scrubbers,” Ethan said, “even if they do exist. They will bring expertise and information. And that’s what we need right now.”

    • • •

    The members of the Chicago Paranormal Action Network came to Cadogan House with backpacks, tripods, and other equipment on neck and shoulder straps. Roz, Matt, and Robin wore yellow CPAN T-shirts and looked more than a little excited to be walking into a House of vampires.

    “Welcome to Cadogan House,” Luc said as they stepped into the foyer. “You’ve got a lot of equipment.”

    “Paranormal investigation has advanced a lot in the last few years,” Roz said. “Particularly since vampires admitted their existence. That’s allowed the research to move along more quickly.”

    That vampires had “admitted” their existence was probably up for debate. The former Master of Navarre House had basically dragged all of us out of the closet.

    “All right,” Robin said, pulling a black padfolio from his gray backpack, also CPAN monogrammed, and flipped a page on the notepad. “You’ve requested our Advanced Assessment package. We’ll be evaluating the scope of your disturbance and recommending a course of action for handling and removal.”

    Ethan listened to the recitation without comment.

    “And should we discuss payment?” Robin asked, lifting his gaze.

    Ethan didn’t look impressed by the question. “We’ve agreed to your estimate. You’ll receive payment when the service is performed.”

    “We take this seriously,” Roz said. “We do the work; we earn the money. We don’t like getting jacked around.”

    Ethan’s spike of anger put magic in the air. “As you’ve been warned, one of our vampires was injured last night. We also don’t like getting ‘jacked around,’ and we prefer guests to act with some measure of decorum. Do we understand each other?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire