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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 17)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(17) by Chloe Neill
  • “Yep. Did I pull it off?”

    “You did not,” Catcher said good-naturedly, the buzz around him increasing as he gathered magic for another throw. “So let’s meet magic with magic.”

    Enraged again, the ghost moved forward. But Catcher bided his time.

    “Wait for it,” he said quietly as I clenched my fists beside him, preparing for a strike.

    Catcher waited until the ghost was only a foot from us, and we could all but see the fury boiling in his eyes. Catcher drew the magic into his hand, fashioning a glowing blue orb. But instead of throwing it, he shoved it at the ghost, the muscles in his arms taut and shaking as he pushed the power into the apparition’s chest.

    The ghost screamed and staggered back into the middle of the room. Blue and white light—Catcher’s magic mixed with his—burst from his body. The lines and shadows that made up his form splintered like jagged glass, and he shattered into the air like fireworks, the sparks fading to yellow as they floated to the floor, then disappeared.

    The buzz of magic dissipated, as did the unnatural chill. But we waited a solid minute in the warming silence, just in case.

    “I think he’s gone,” Catcher said.

    Breath heaving, my skin slicked with sweat despite the cold, I looked at Catcher, checking visually for bumps, bruises, lacerations. He was streaked with magical char and brick dust, but he looked otherwise whole.

    “I’m all right,” he confirmed. “You?”

    “Leg is freezing. But I’ll hold.” We were the only ones left in the tunnel. “Everyone else made it out. Is he gone gone?” I asked. “Or just gone?”

    “I doubt he’s gone gone, to use your technical phrasing. My magic would have dispersed his energy, but that’s probably just temporary.” He glanced over my shoulder. “And you might have another, more immediate problem.”

    I followed the line of his gaze.

    Half of Ethan’s wine racks were on the ground, bottles smashed. Wine dripped from the shelves, poured across the floor in mulberry rivulets, was splattered across the walls. The air was heavy with the scent of very expensive and wasted alcohol.

    “On the upside,” Catcher said, putting a hand on my shoulder, “I think you got your money’s worth from the investigators. They definitely found a ghost.”

    “Yeah,” I said. “But we still have to bust it.”

    • • •

    Delia diagnosed Luc with two broken ribs and a concussion, and settled him in his room.

    The investigators walked in a silent, single-file line down the sidewalk and toward the street, the exuberance they’d carried into the House now gone.

    Matt, predictably now, studied his machine. Roz and Robin glanced back over their shoulders, aimed angry looks at us on the steps. We’d broken up their party, even if to save their lives, and they were pissed.

    “In their position,” I said, “I’d probably be angry, too. I don’t know how often they’re able to get up close and personal with actual ghosts. This probably would have been a coup for them.”

    “I understand their frustration,” Ethan said. “But they’ve been compensated for their time.” He glanced at me. “They’re humans. After seeing Margot hurt, I shouldn’t have let them into the House. I certainly couldn’t allow them to stay after Luc went down.” He frowned, seemed to struggle with the memory of Luc’s attack.

    “It’s easy to say that in hindsight,” I said, “what we should have done. But their job is to evaluate, and since Annabelle can’t do it, we weren’t left with many options. We hired the experts.” And we’d still need to deal with ghostly removal, one way or the other. “Sorry about the wine,” I offered.

    “It’s insured,” Ethan said. “So that’s something. Although the ’49 Sauterne will be difficult to replace.”

    “1949?” I asked hopefully.

    “Add a century to that,” Ethan said.

    I winced. “I owe you,” I said.

    Thankfully, I’d have an eternity to pay him back.

    5

    Mallory, Catcher, and I went back to Ethan’s office, taking seats while Ethan played host, handing out bottles of water and blood from his built-in refrigerator.

    “The floor is open,” he said, walking back to the sitting area. He stood in front of us with crossed arms and a dour expression. This particular Master and captain of his ship did not like being out of control.

    “Let’s start with the ghost,” I said. “He didn’t look anything like the photo of Mickey Riley we saw earlier.”

    “No,” Catcher agreed. “If the FBI’s mug shot is accurate, and I tend to believe they’d get something like that right, that wasn’t him. And not just the wrong man—the wrong clothing, wrong style, wrong era. That wasn’t Mickey Riley.”

    “But that was definitely Mickey Riley’s grave,” I said. “We’ve seen the burial records.”

    “I am officially confused,” Mallory said.

    She wasn’t the only one.

    “No other grave was disturbed at Almshouse?” Ethan asked.

    Catcher shook his head. “No.”

    I tapped fingers against my knee, glanced at Ethan. “Is there any other reason to think some different ghost would be haunting Cadogan House?”

    “Before Margot’s attack, there’d been paranormal activity in this House—other than our own—since we’ve been here,” Ethan said. “And I don’t know of any before we moved in, either.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire