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  • Home > Chloe Neill > Chicagoland Vampires Series > Phantom Kiss (Chapter 26)     
  • Phantom Kiss(Chicagoland Vampires #12.5)(26) by Chloe Neill
  • Then flame covered us both, and Padgett’s spirit darted back. The world filled with light, bright and blue and pure, and those thoughts retreated like a wave returning to the sea.

    I was yanked to my feet, shaken.

    Merit! Merit!

    I waited for the world to come back into focus, stared into Ethan’s eyes. He’d pulled me up by my jacket, hauling me nearly onto my toes while he called out to me.

    I’m all right, I said, not trusting my voice to speak. I’m all right. I got my bearings, watched light reassemble a few feet away. Catcher had thrown a fireball, I realized, saved me. I gave him an acknowledging nod, and he winked at me in return.

    The sparks had split Padgett’s energy, but he was beginning to re-form again. I pulled away from Ethan and unsheathed my katana.

    Padgett had given me a glimpse of his mind. He was mine to destroy.

    With a Cheshire grin as he re-formed, he watched me move toward him. “. . . know what I am . . . What . . . want.”

    That was easy enough to understand in context. “I know what you are,” I confirmed. “And what you want. And I’m here to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

    I swung the blade horizontally, slicing through him, then back and forth in a crisscrossing pattern that would have torn a physical form to shreds. But it had no effect on him. It only shattered the image, like a ripple through water, but he re-formed again and again.

    “. . . weapons . . . no effect!” he cried victoriously.

    He was right, so I stepped back. Annabelle took my place.

    “Albert Padgett!” she screamed. “This is your last damn warning. Get the hell out of our town!”

    She slammed her foot onto the floor, pushing a shock wave of energy across the room. Floorboards buckled beneath the wave.

    But Albert Padgett didn’t even blink.

    “It’s not working!” Annabelle yelled out, and now there was fear in her voice.

    I closed my eyes, made myself think through the steps. Padgett was still here—why? Because he wanted to be?

    I opened my eyes, looked over at the pillar candle and the ring of salt around it, still intact despite the fighting. Salt rings were meant to contain things; it stood to reason that breaking the barrier would also break the containment.

    Like a girl preparing to run into a game of double Dutch, I watched him move, timed my shot, and I darted forward, running beneath Padgett’s open arms, and swiped a foot across the salt, putting a gap in the ring.

    Magic burst across the room. Bolts of blue power, bright and sharp as lightning, struck upward toward the ceiling.

    “No!” Padgett screamed, and his image wavered.

    “Return to your plane!” Annabelle yelled.

    This time, there was no explosion. There was only, like the first night I’d seen a ghost, the diminishing of magic, of energy, of Padgett’s ghostly image.

    “. . . god!” he screamed even as his image faded.

    And then there was nothing but darkness. After a moment, the cicadas began to sing again outside.

    “Not with a bang,” I quietly recited, “but a whimper.”

    Ethan stepped beside me. “He’s gone?” he asked Annabelle.

    She nodded. “As gone as any of us will be. Well,” she added with a smirk, “those of us who aren’t immortal.”

    “We all come to an end,” Ethan said. “Let’s just hope that we come to better ends than this.”

    Epilogue

    We came bearing ice cream . . . and a gift.

    Luc held up a hand when we walked into his room, wagged a finger from his spot in bed. “No more ice cream. I can’t take anymore.” He patted his flat abdomen. “I can feel it destroying muscle.”

    “I don’t believe the biology quite works that way,” Ethan said. “But just in case, we found something else for you.”

    “For me?” Luc’s face brightened when Ethan handed him the gift. “What is it?”

    “A get-well present.”

    Luc ripped off the paper, stared down at the box he’d unwrapped. “You got me an EMF unit?”

    “It’s just a starter unit,” Ethan said with a smile. “But since it appears the possibility of ghosts in Cadogan House is quite real, it would pay to have an expert on staff.”

    Luc looked as happy as a kid with a new bike on Christmas morning.

    “Consider it an incentive to heal faster,” Ethan said. “We need you back in the Ops Room.”

    “Kelley’s talking about embroidered polo shirts,” I said. As I’d hoped, that put a little fire in his eyes.

    “I’ll be down in an hour,” he said, and we left him to get dressed.

    “Do you think he’s really ready for battle?” I asked Ethan as we walked down the hallway.

    “I don’t know,” Ethan said. “But I suspect he needs the job as much as we need him.” He whipped an arm around me, kissed me hard. “Which isn’t nearly as much as I need you.”

    I gave him a wink. “Good. I like you a little needy.”

    “That’s not exactly what I had in mind,” Ethan called out as I continued down the hallway in front of him.

    “I know,” I said, grinning back at him. “What are you going to do about it?”

    This time, the fire was in Ethan’s eyes.

    And I was good with that, too.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire