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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 25)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(25) by Chloe Neill
  • “‘Try’?” Catcher asked.

    It had been many years since my grandfather had worn a CPD uniform, but there was no mistaking the vigor in his eyes or the anger. “Try,” my grandfather said again. “Be careful out there and cautious of both of them.”

    “We will,” Annabelle said. “And he shouldn’t underestimate us.”

    As taglines went, that was pretty solid.

    • • •

    We broke into teams so we could make quieter approaches. Jeff and Catcher would go in through the back. Ethan, Annabelle, and I would go in through the front. Mallory would stay outside, magic at the ready, in case she needed to control Padgett’s escape.

    You’ll be careful, Ethan said, taking in my leathers and katana as I gave him a once-over, too.

    And so will you. We’ve got a wedding to attend.

    That there was relief in his eyes surprised me. Even though your relatives may not approve? he asked.

    I smiled at him. I’m not worried about whether they approve of you. More that they don’t approve of me. But there’s not much I can do to change that. I am who I am.

    What you are, he said, is spectacular.

    I was also ready for a fight, I thought, as Ethan, Annabelle, and I walked through darkness, the sound of our footsteps muffled by the calls of cicadas. When we had a visual on the front porch, Ethan held up a fist, calling us to a stop.

    The light was still on, but the main room on the first floor was empty. There was a flickering glow in one of the windows in the second-floor tower.

    “He’s moved upstairs,” Ethan said.

    Annabelle nodded. “That’s candlelight. Part of the spell he bought.”

    “Then let’s get to it,” Ethan said, and we crept across the yard to the porch. The front door was open, the first room lit and empty but strewn with trash, the walls marked by graffiti.

    We passed it and paused in the front hall, listening for sound, and heard the low rumble of chanting upstairs. The air wasn’t yet chilled, but if we didn’t hurry, that wouldn’t be far behind.

    We took the stairs two at a time, followed the sound and the flickering candlelight, and moved into the room where Robin held court.

    It was roughly octagonal in shape, with well-worn hardwood floors and plenty of graffiti. He’d drawn a white circle on the floor with what looked like salt. A fat pillar candle was positioned in the middle of the circle along with a few other bits of magical detritus. He crouched over the pile, flipping through the stapled pages of what I guessed was his ill-gotten spell.

    I stepped forward. “Robin.”

    He looked up, took in the leather, the sword. And the fear on his face turned petulant. “I’m almost done. You’re too late. You can’t stop me.”

    “We can,” Annabelle said, stepping beside me. “That’s precisely why we’re here.”

    “I’m moving Albert Padgett into my house,” he said with bravado he didn’t quite pull off.

    Ethan joined us. “You’re a child who disturbed the dead for his own gain. And because of what you’ve done, you’ve hurt my people. We will damn well stop you.”

    Robin stood up, took two steps backward—and outside the circle. Catcher and Jeff entered the room. Catcher took Robin by the arms while Jeff used a zip tie to bind his wrists together.

    “I made magic!” Robin sobbed. “I did magic!”

    “Past tense,” Catcher said. “You’re done.”

    But the house rumbled beneath us, and the temperature in the room dropped shockingly.

    “Here we go,” I murmured, my breath fogging the air. I put my hand on the handle of my sword. “I think that woke him up.”

    “He’s coming!” Robin said. “I brought him here! I did it.”

    “You called a serial killer into this world using someone else’s spell,” Annabelle said, taking a step backward, away from the circle. “We award you no points for that.”

    Light and magic shot up from the floor; lines and shadows shifted and formed into the shape of Albert Padgett.

    His mouth was open and screaming, the words skewed by magic but the anger clear enough.” . . . my power . . . !”

    Annabelle stepped forward, determination in every feature. “Albert Padgett! I am Annabelle Shaw, necromancer. You are not welcome in this world. Return to your home!”

    She stamped a booted foot upon the floor, and it shook beneath her, proof of her power.

    Padgett’s eyes narrowed, became pinpricks of concentrated anger. “. . . am a god!”

    “You are most certainly not a god!” Annabelle said. “You are only energy, and you are in the wrong plane!” She pointed her finger at him like the Grim Reaper claiming a soul. “You are a monster with no place in this world. You will return to your plane now by choice, or I will send you there myself.”

    He rushed her, so quickly I only had a moment to move.

    I jumped forward, pushed her out of the way. Albert Padgett hit me, and we slammed against the floor together, his spirit wrapped around my body, his hands around my neck.

    That numbing cold began to spread again, icy fingers piercing my ribs and squeezing my heart into stillness.

    In that moment of connection, there was only darkness and death. I could feel his thrill in it, in watching life dissipate, in seeing the last breath catch and release, the twitch of muscle as electricity made its final course through the human body.

    Albert Padgett reveled in death, and as long as he had a presence in this world, he would continue to revel in it. He could continue to kill.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire