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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 24)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(24) by Chloe Neill
  • “Look,” Matt said, pushing a hand through his hair. “Gangsters in Chicago are big business. There are souvenirs, ghost tours, the whole deal. Robin wanted a piece of that action. He thought if we raised one from each gang, installed them in a house or something, we’d be able to make some money. Have a legit haunted house, or stage an investigation like on television. We’d get crazy amounts of press, and we’d finally start making some real cash. He thought Almshouse would be easiest to get in and out of, and Riley was the only one of Capone’s people that we could find there. We bought the spell, cleaned out our savings for it. But it didn’t work. Or not the way we thought.”

    While he looked guilty, Ethan looked absolutely furious. “Do you know who you actually summoned?” Each word was bitten off in anger.

    “Robin recognized him,” Roz quietly said.

    “Did you think to warn us that you’d raised a serial killer?” Ethan asked. “That we had a serial killer in our home?” He’d taken two threatening steps toward them, and they backed away. That might have been their first smart move.

    “Robin’s going to fix it,” Roz said.

    Ethan’s eyes flashed. “He has fixed enough. Where is he?”

    Roz and Matt exchanged a look.

    “You may be under the impression that I won’t hurt you,” Ethan said. “That I’ll allow Mr. Bell to call the Ombudsman, and let you be processed accordingly. Make no mistake—you’ve hurt my people. And I’ve no qualms about your paying that back, bruise by bloody bruise.”

    “He’s at the Malone mansion,” Roz said, body sagging with resignation.

    “The bordello?” Catcher asked, pulling out his phone, probably to send a message to my grandfather.

    “Our bordello. We bought it before Sorcha, before people were afraid. We’re going to lose it if we don’t get business.” She paused. “Robin’s got Padgett’s skull, and he’s going to try to move Padgett’s spirit from Cadogan House into our building.”

    “Is he alone?” I asked.

    She nodded. “We had a fight. After what happened here, we told him it was too dangerous to do any more of this, that we’d figure out another way to get the money. He said he’d do it alone.” Guilt hunched her shoulders.

    If he gets it right, I told Ethan, if he manages to call Padgett, Padgett will kill him.

    Ethan was quiet for a moment, as if debating whether that possibility—considering the fact that Robin had created the situation and the danger—was worth the trouble of a response.

    “You’ll stay here,” he said to Matt and Roz in a tone that allowed no argument. “Keep an eye on them,” he told Kelley.

    She stepped forward, eyes silvered and fangs bared.

    We walked back into the foyer.

    “You’ve contacted Chuck?” Ethan asked Catcher.

    He nodded. “He’s going to assemble a team, get eyes on the house. He doesn’t want to send cops in yet. If Padgett’s in there, guns won’t help.”

    “Then let’s join them,” Ethan said. “And let’s put an end to this.”

    • • •

    Ethan, Mallory, Jeff, Catcher, Annabelle, and I gathered two blocks up from the Malone house to finalize our plan with my grandfather and the CPD backup.

    “You’re violating the Order’s rules,” Catcher told Annabelle with a grin.

    Her answering grin was equally wide. She was wearing an ass-kicking ensemble of black pants, jacket, and boots. It was a night of fierce ladies, and she nodded with the same ferocity in her eyes. “I know,” she said. “It feels spectacular.”

    Catcher chuckled, patted her back. “Welcome to the club.”

    “The house is surrounded,” my grandfather said. “Robin is in there. We’ve got a man with a camera across the street.” He offered a tablet that showed what looked like color video.

    The house was precisely what I’d have imagined a Midwestern bordello would look like. It was a Queen Anne–style building, with pointed gables on the front and sides, and a thin, round tower on the corner above the front door. There were railed balconies on the street-facing side and gingerbread decorations on every right angle. The house had once been painted in several colors—seafoam green, deep mauve, and brick red with pale yellow highlights—but the color had faded in some spots, peeled in others. Half the windows were boarded up.

    The house was slightly elevated from the sidewalk, and a white banner had been posted in the patchy lawn: MALONE BORDELLO. CALL FOR TOURS OF CHICAGO’S MOST HAUNTED BUILDING.

    The sign looked new. Robin had apparently been feeling optimistic.

    There was a light on in the unshielded front window, and the form of a man backlit by a hanging bulb in the living room.

    “That’s Robin,” my grandfather said. “We presume he is attempting to work the summoning spell he previously purchased in order to move Padgett into this location. We will also presume he will be successful at that, and we’ll prepare accordingly.”

    “The spell is clearly effective,” Annabelle said. “If it’s powerful enough, he can make another go of it.”

    My grandfather nodded. “If Padgett is drawn here, can you put him down?”

    “I can strongly encourage him to leave,” Annabelle said in a tone that left no doubt as to how strong that encouragement would be.

    “That’s good enough for me.” My grandfather looked at each member of the mission team in turn. “Neutralize Padgett in whatever manner is most effective. Try to keep Robin alive.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire