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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 19)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(19) by Chloe Neill
  • His smile was quick and satisfied. “Have you made any progress?”

    “Not a bit.” I told him what I’d learned—or rather, what I hadn’t.

    “You’ve eliminated dead ends,” he said. “That’s something.” He slid his hands into his pockets. “I’m going to check on Luc. Would you like to take a break?”

    I glanced at the clock, realized I’d been sitting in the chair for nearly two hours. I rose, stretched my arms and back. “I would.”

    He took my hand, and we walked to the door, then down the hallway that led to the second-floor quarters of the vampires who lived in Cadogan House.

    “I feel like a depressed drug-sniffing dog,” I said.

    “I look forward to hearing your explanation for that simile.”

    “They apparently get bummed if they don’t find contraband every once in a while, so handlers plant things for them to find.”

    “Ah,” Ethan said. “You need to find something to keep going.”

    “That’s about it.”

    He raised our joined hands to his lips, kissed my knuckles. “We’ll figure it out. We always do.”

    • • •

    Lindsey’s room was an eye-achingly-bright amalgamation of paint, posters, and fabric. Little wonder that even though they spent most nights together, Luc had chosen to recuperate in his room.

    It was surprisingly sedate for a man with so many pop culture obsessions. Being captain of the guards, Luc had a room that was a little bigger than the standard dorm-sized unit. There was enough space for a bed and a good-sized sitting area, with a couch and television on one side and doors to a bathroom and closet on the opposite wall. The furniture was dark wood and masculine, the fabrics dark and muted. A bookshelf was lined with books and a collectibles from Luc’s various fandoms.

    I guess I expected a mock-up of a Wild West cathouse, I told Ethan as we walked to the bed, where Luc lay in tasteful pinstripe pajamas. I don’t know who he is anymore.

    Ethan didn’t quite manage to hold in a chuckle. He is a many-faceted jewel.

    “Have you come to praise me?” the jewel asked, eyes closed. “Not to bury me?”

    “We’ve come to see if you’ll still stand as captain or if I need to open applications.”

    Luc cracked open a suspicious eye. “Here I am, Liege, busted up because I took a hit for the team, and you’re making jokes like that.”

    “How are you feeling?” I asked him.

    He closed his eyes again. “Ribs ache. Migraine is a bitch, as is the vertigo. I’ll heal, Delia says, but not fast enough to suit me. It might take a couple of nights. And another pint or two of ice cream. Lindsey’s in the kitchen as we speak.”

    “Chocolate therapy is a tried-and-true method,” I said.

    “I certainly hope so,” he said. “You want to fill me in on what happened down there?”

    We gave him the rundown. Ethan was generous about my skills in the battle, even though he hadn’t actually seen any of it.

    Lindsey came in with a smile, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, and a spoon. I realized I was hungry, might have whipped it out of her hand if it hadn’t been intended for a wounded soldier. And still I thought about grabbing a pint before heading back to the library.

    “There’s a ghost in Cadogan House!” Luc said as Lindsey approached him. His eyes, I realized, had gone a little hazy.

    “It’s the drugs,” Lindsey said. “Took one for the pain and vertigo right before I went downstairs, and it’s probably hitting him.”

    “Maybe it’s just all a big mistake,” Luc said, smiling goofily. “Maybe we’re all just crazy.”

    “We may be crazy,” Ethan said, worry furrowing his brow. “But there’s no mistake. A specter is haunting our halls, and I want it gone.”

    My phone rang, and I pulled it out, checked the screen. It was Annabelle. Concern lit through me immediately. I turned away from the bed, answered it.

    “I’ve found another grave,” she said.

    • • •

    We didn’t want to leave the House. But we didn’t feel like we had much choice.

    Kelley, another guard, was in charge of the corps while Luc was down. Since Catcher and Mallory were at the medical examiner’s office, my grandfather and Jeff would meet us at Almshouse Cemetery. Again.

    This was becoming an unfortunate habit.

    Annabelle stood outside the gate, leaning against her car in jeans, boots, and a dark structured tank top. She looked absolutely furious. She was gorgeous in her anger, her eyes nearly glowing with it. Put a sword in her hand, and she’d have made a fantastic vampire.

    “We have to stop meeting like this,” Ethan said when we climbed out of the car.

    Annabelle’s nod was as fierce as her ensemble. “This guy is starting to piss me off.”

    My grandfather pulled up behind us in the van, and he and Jeff joined us.

    “Another skull stolen?” my grandfather asked.

    “Not quite yet,” Annabelle said. “Let me show you.”

    We walked to a different part of the cemetery, but it bore the same mix of old graves, industrial markers, and minimal landscaping. We traveled more slowly this time, matching my grandfather’s speed. He’d been injured in a battle with anti-vampire marauders, and although he’d healed a lot, the attack had knocked away a bit of his sprightliness.

    “What section is the grave in?” I asked, trying to recall the plot map I’d reviewed.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire