Home > Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13)

Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13)
Author: Chloe Neill

CHAPTER ONE

FIVE BY FIVE

Late August

Chicago, Illinois

It was midnight in Chicago, and all was well.

I stood in front of Cadogan House, a stately and luxurious three-story stone house on a rolling bit of lawn in Chicago’s Hyde Park. It was surrounded by an imposing fence meant to keep our enemies at bay, guarded by men and women who risked their lives to keep the House safe from attack.

Tonight, as summer gave way to fall and a cool breeze spilled across the quiet dark, there was peace.

Katana at my side, and having finished my patrol of the expansive grounds, I nodded at the guard at the gate and jogged up the stairs to the glowing portico. One final look, one last glance, to ensure quiet in the realm, and then I opened the door . . . and walked back into chaos.

Cadogan House’s pretty foyer—hardwood floors, pedestal table bearing richly scented flowers, gleaming chandelier—was crowded with people and noise. A vampire manned the front desk, and three others—supplicants seeking time with Ethan Sullivan, Master of the House—waited on a bench along one side. Vampires carried boxes toward the basement stairs for the waiting truck, watched with an eagle eye by Helen, the House’s den mother.

There was a flurry of movement and activity because the Master of Cadogan House was getting married tomorrow.

To me.

A vampire with dark skin and a shaved head rounded the corner into the foyer. This was Malik, Ethan’s second-in-command. He wore a slim-cut dark suit—the official Cadogan House uniform—his skin contrasting vividly with the crisp white shirt and pale green of his eyes. He tracked the room, found me, and walked my way.

“Busy night,” he said.

“It is.”

“Is there a crowd outside the House?”

I shook my head. “No, but Luc said they’re already filling the sidewalks outside the library. The CPD had to pull in extra staff to monitor.”

Ethan and I would be married at Harold Washington Library, the city’s main branch in downtown Chicago. The city’s humans were lining up to watch.

Malik grinned. “‘The wedding of the decade,’ I believe the Tribune said.”

“I just want a wedding without supernatural drama,” I said. Chicago, and Cadogan House in particular, seemed to attract it.

“Luc has that in hand,” Malik said of the captain of Cadogan’s guard corps. “And the rest of us are doing what we can.”

I couldn’t argue with that. The entire House had rallied around us, thrilled to help celebrate the marriage of their beloved Master, the man who’d given them immortality. Cadogan’s vampires had ironed linens, polished silver, slid invitations into envelopes lined with crimson silk.

“The effort is very much appreciated,” I said. Their help gave Ethan more time to lead the House, and me more time to ensure its safety.

A hush fell over the room, all talk and activity coming to a stop as Cadogan House’s Master stepped into the room. Every eye in the place turned to him, including mine.

That we’d known each other for more than a year didn’t make the sight of him any less thrilling. To the contrary—that he was mine, and I was most assuredly his, made the impact even more forceful.

He was tall and lean, with the body of a man who’d once been a soldier. Even now, as a leader of vampires, he’d kept the same chiseled physique. His hair was golden blond and shoulder length, his eyes the green of new emeralds. His jaw was square, his nose straight, his lips usually either quirked in a wicked grin or pulled into a serious line—the expression of a Master with weight on his shoulders.

He also wore the Cadogan uniform—a trim black suit that fitted him like the expensive, bespoke garment it probably was. He wore a white button-down beneath, the top button unclasped to show the gleaming silver teardrop of the Cadogan medal that hung at his throat. It was a mark of solidarity, of unity, among the vampires of Cadogan House. And he wore it as well as he did everything else.

Beside him was a small woman with tan skin and dark hair. She was a vampire, at least based on the invisible buzz of magic around her. And given the tightness around her eyes, she was a vampire with worries.

“We’ll be in touch,” Ethan promised, and she knotted her fingers together, inclined her head toward him.

“Thank you so much.”

“You’re very welcome,” he said, and we watched as she headed toward the door.

But when I looked back at Ethan, his gaze was fixed on me.

Sentinel, he said through our telepathic connection, taking in the leather and steel of my ensemble. I like the look of you.

Good, I said. Because you’re marrying me tomorrow.

His smile was just a little bit wicked. So I am.

Malik and I walked toward him.

“Mrs. Bly?” Malik asked.

“She has a human nephew she’d like to consider joining the House. His parents are less than enthused, and she’d like us to talk to them.”

Malik smiled. “She wants us to sell them on the House.”

“Like we’re working on commission,” Ethan said with an answering smile, and glanced at me. “You’ll be leaving soon?”

Tonight was my bachelorette party, organized by Lindsey, a friend in the House and a guard, and Mallory, my oldest friend and maid of honor. Malik and Luc, Lindsey’s boyfriend, were in charge of Ethan’s bachelor party. I wasn’t sure what any of them had planned, and I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to know.

“In an hour.”

“Let’s go to my office,” Ethan said, nodding at Malik, and put a hand on my back, steering me through vampires and boxes and down the hallway.

“From head of security to wedding mule,” said a vampire with a mop of wavy curls, his arms roped with the effort of carrying an enormous box down the hall.

“I’m pretty sure mules complain less, Luc,” said the pale vampire with a swinging blond ponytail who followed him with a much lighter load—a bundle of long, spiraling branches.

“Sticks,” Luc said, setting his box carefully on the floor and offering us a crooked grin, his face framed by tousled blond hair. “Why do you need sticks for a wedding?”

“They aren’t sticks,” Lindsey said. “They’re willow branches, and they’re for ambience.”

Luc shook his head ruefully, glanced at Ethan. “Your orders, Sire?”

Ethan smiled. “Wedding decorations are outside my wheelhouse, and Merit’s, I suspect.”

No argument there. I was technically the House’s social chair, but I fell less into the Soiree Planner category than the Crash a Party with a Sword category. I’d left most of the planning to my mother and Helen, the House’s den mother, both of whom were skilled at planning soirees. And when a Master vampire married a real estate mogul’s daughter, a soiree was unavoidable. I told them “simple and elegant” and “white peonies,” and let them have the run of things. Which meant they’d asked me at least twenty-five questions a night for the past four months.

“Hashtag wedding,” Luc said with a smile.

Lindsey shook her head, mouth tight. “You’re still not using that right.”

“Hashtag oppression,” Luc said. Not for lack of trying, Luc never quite got the references right. Probably not entirely unexpected for a century-old vampire.

“I’m sure Helen appreciates your efforts tonight,” Ethan said. “And I’m sure we will tomorrow.”

I glanced at Luc. “You’ll keep him out of trouble tonight?”

“Scout’s honor,” Luc said, his expression perfectly bland. Since vampires were experts at bluffing, I couldn’t tell whether that was really the truth or a cover for a night of carousing and mischief making.

“If the CPD calls me,” I said, looking at Luc and Ethan in turn, “there will be hell to pay.”

“Ditto,” Lindsey said, flicking Luc’s arm.

Ethan slid his hands into his pockets, lifted his chin in amusement. “Since Catcher will be with us, the odds of an arrest are slim.”

I narrowed my gaze. “Because he works for the Ombudsman’s office, or because he could magic over any trouble?”

Hot Series
» Kate Daniels Series read online
» Black Dagger Brotherhood Series read online
» Cassandra Palmer Series read online
» Rosemary Beach Series read online
» Sea Breeze Series read online
» Too Far Series read online
» Shatter Me Series read online
» Thoughtless Series read online
» Marriage to a Billionaire Series read online
» The Iron Druid Chronicles read online
» A Shade of Vampire Series read online
» The Sullivans Series read online
Most Popular
» Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13)
» Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter #10)
» Racer (Real #7)
» Womanizer (Manwhore #4)
» The Struggle (Titan #3)
» The Impossible Vastness of Us
» Play On (Play On #1)
» Hideaway (Devil's Night #2)
» An Enchantment of Ravens
» Commander in Chief (White House #2)
» Tycoon
» The Final Score (Play-by-Play #13)