• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 18)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(18) by Chloe Neill
  • “What about the tunnels themselves?” I asked. “Any notable events there?”

    “None on our watch, and the city didn’t keep separate records of tunnel incidents per se. Given how dangerous they are and how many sheer miles they cover, it’s quite possible someone died there. But we don’t know of any deaths or trauma that would prompt a disturbance like this.”

    “Then we’re back to Riley,” I said. “We question all presumptions.” I looked at Catcher. “You said his remains are still with the medical examiner’s office?”

    “Yeah. Why?”

    “Because they can probably verify whether it’s actually Riley or not.”

    Catcher just blinked. “Damn. I should have thought of that.” He pulled out his phone, sent a message.

    “No worries, Big Papa,” Mallory said, patting his arm. “You helped train her, after all.”

    I could have lived an eternity without hearing her call him that, Ethan said.

    No argument there.

    “I wish Annabelle was here,” I said, and looked at Mallory and Catcher. “You know she’s barred from working outside her assigned graveyards?”

    Their expressions were equally flat. Neither had much love for the Order, although they’d made some inroads there since Mallory’s Unfortunate Era of Evilness and her subsequent founding of Sorcerers Without Borders.

    “Yes,” Mallory said primly. “That’s one of the post-Sorcha ‘reforms.’” Her air quotes were slow and dramatic, delivered with blue fingernails that matched her hair.

    “I don’t mind the Order emphasizing specialization,” Catcher said. “I’m a weapons man, after all. But her specialization is the deceased. If she’s working that kind of magic, she should be able to work it wherever she’s needed.”

    “And there’s no one on the sorcerer side to fill the gap,” Mallory put in.

    Catcher’s phone buzzed, and he pulled it out. “Well. We just got an invitation to visit the forensics lab.”

    “Oooh,” Mallory said. “That’s creepy and interesting. I’m in.”

    “In the meantime,” I said, “I’ll put on my research hat, see what I can find out about Riley and his crew and our mysterious and hateful stranger.” I felt a frisson of scholarly anticipation.

    “It’s what you’re best at.”

    I gave Ethan an arched eyebrow.

    That I’m willing to discuss in public, he silently said. You are a woman of many talents.

    Much better.

    • • •

    I camped out in my favorite room in the House: the two-story library. The books were plentiful, the ceiling high above the wrought-iron balcony that ringed the second floor. I sat at a library table with a computer and a spread of notebooks and pens that would have made a collector jealous. And then I set out to find a ghost.

    Until we learned otherwise, I had to assume the records were correct and the remains were Mickey Riley’s body, so I researched him further, looking for some connection between the gangster and the apparent poltergeist that had disturbed the House.

    Riley had been a bully with a hard-on for violence, theft, and the gangster lifestyle. I found several photographs of him in the Tribune—posing with cronies in restaurants, standing in crowds near Capone, lounging with molls in nightclubs where gin and jazz had flowed. He seemed to sneer in every picture.

    But I didn’t find evidence he was anything other than a run-of-the-mill asshole, or any sign he’d owned something worth opening a grave for. He wasn’t suspected in any jewelry heists, for example, and while he’d been convicted of grand larceny, it was for boosting a car undoubtedly long gone.

    His fate didn’t offer any clues, either. He’d been killed by his cellmate, who’d used a shiv carved from a wooden tongue depressor. Since his cellmate had been a rival, the murder didn’t seem unusual in context.

    I scanned biographies of the other members of Capone’s gang—the accountants, cops, and muscle—and found no one else who looked like our ghost.

    Since Riley was coming up a dead end—pun intended—I tried to brainstorm, ended up looking for instances of other graves beyond Almshouse being opened or disturbed, whether or not skulls were removed. I didn’t find anything recent, which Jeff confirmed in a quick text.

    Fewer graves disturbed was obviously good, and not just because it indicated we had a perp with a specific target rather than someone who made a habit of opening graves. Or they just hadn’t gotten started in earnest.

    Frustrated, I pushed back the laptop, rubbed my temples.

    Maybe Riley and our ghost weren’t connected. Maybe it was just a coincidence a ghost had shown up at Cadogan House the same night Annabelle had sensed one being released. But why now? If the ghost I’d encountered in the tunnel was as old as he’d looked, why pick this time and this place to haunt? He didn’t seem to have a specific vendetta against Cadogan House—at least not that Ethan or Malik could name—which made his appearance here that much weirder.

    The door opened with a soft thush. I looked up, watched Ethan walk inside, power and confidence in every step. While I’d been scanning the Internet, he’d probably been reviewing budgets, evaluating security reports, making political moves. The authority showed in his long-legged stride, the set of his jaw, the authority that marked him.

    “Hello, Sentinel.”

    “Hello, Sullivan.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire