Home > Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13)(6)

Blade Bound (Chicagoland Vampires #13)(6)
Author: Chloe Neill

“If anyone’s in the hallway,” I yelled out, “I could use your help right now!”

“Stop it!” he cried, missing the irony. “Stop doing this to me! I just want it to stop!” His eyes were red and brimming with tears, and he lifted his arms, beat the sides of his fists against his head. “Stopstopstopstop!”

The dress hiking up around my thighs, I managed to get a leg between his and scissored to twist him off. The vampire grabbed my sash, ripped it away as I reversed our positions, and he hit the ground with a thud.

I scrambled to my feet, shoving the dress back down and kicking away the stiletto heels. They’d make a decent weapon if I needed it, especially since my dagger was with the phone in my bag. And since no one had responded to my yelling, I’d have to hold my own until someone, in these predawn hours, happened to walk through the first floor.

The man climbed to his feet again, those fists beating against his ears. “Stop screaming! Stop talking! I don’t want to hear it anymore! I don’t want to hear it!” He looked up at me, fury and fear matching beat for beat in his expression. “Make it stop!”

I took my chance, dodged back to the desk and the phone. I managed to grab the receiver before he followed me, snatched up the letter opener from Ethan’s desk—a long, silver, double-sided blade. I raised an arm, expecting him to stab forward. Instead, he stumbled back, put the dagger’s gleaming point at his temple. There weren’t many ways to kill a vampire, but I had to guess stabbing himself in the head would do the job.

“I’ll silence it,” he said, silvered eyes frantic. “I will end it.”

I was no longer the victim—he played that role now, too. I put the phone down, held out my hand.

“Let me have the dagger. There’s no need for it. I can help you with the screaming.”

I jumped forward, wrapped my hands around his wrist, worked to force it down and away.

“No more screaming!” He kicked out, trying to push me loose, but I dodged the sloppy shot. He screamed, began pushing me backward until we hit the shelves on the opposite wall. Something crashed to the floor beside me. But my focus was on the blade in the vampire’s hand, and my own fingers, which were white-knuckled around his.

“Just put down the blade,” I said, ducking as he swung out with his free hand. He made contact with something on the shelves, which hit the floor with another crash. If they hadn’t heard me yelling, maybe someone would hear the trashing of Ethan’s office.

He pushed me hard against the shelves again, then pushed me back toward the windows, trying to scrape me off like a barnacle. My hands were getting sweaty, and his eyes looked more desperate.

He pulled away, freeing his arm and sending me backward. I stayed on my feet but hit the shelves again. Eyes on him, I scrambled fingers against rows of books, searching for something I could use as a weapon. Delicate things hit the floor, upended by my questing fingers, until I touched something cold and hard. I grabbed it. He lurched forward. Weapon in hand, I swung and nailed him in the temple.

He staggered forward, hit the back of the couch, bounced backward again, and nailed me. We hit the ground together, his weight across my middle.

“Merit!”

I heard my name, and then the man was lifted off my chest. Brody had grabbed the man under his shoulders, laid him on the office floor.

Brody hadn’t been a guard very long, and his eyes widened as he looked at me, dress ripped, hair around my face, and a bloody marble obelisk in my hand.

“I saw the light on,” he said, offering a hand to help me climb to my feet. “I didn’t think Ethan was back yet, so I was going to check it out. What happened in here?”

I edged around the man on the floor, his chest rising and falling, which was good enough for me. He was still breathing, but he’d have one hell of a headache when he woke up. And he hadn’t killed himself, which was something. Beneath him was the crumpled ribbon of satin and glitter that had been my bachelorette sash.

I put the paperweight on the bookshelf, pushed my hair from my face. “I’m not entirely sure. I walked in, and he was here, and he went ballistic.”

“He attacked you?”

“Yeah.” I looked down at the man, at his unfamiliar face and grubby clothes, the chewed fingernails and cuticles. Even on a longer look, no one I recognized. “He look familiar to you?”

“No. Should he?”

“No,” I said, but that was really a guess. I didn’t know if he should be familiar, if he was someone we should have been aware of, or if this was as strange and random as it seemed.

I gestured to the phone on Ethan’s desk.

“Call the Ops Room and lock down the House. Then call my grandfather,” I said, chest still heaving. “Tell him we’ve got a vampire, maybe sick, maybe mentally ill. Definitely unconscious. Tell him to contact the CPD or an ambulance or both, and get over here. And find Ethan.”

He didn’t hesitate. “On it,” he said, and double-timed it to Ethan’s desk, picked up the phone.

One night before our wedding, and we had a hell of a mess on our hands.

• • •

Brody called my grandfather and Luc, so everyone headed back to Cadogan House. He stayed with me and the vampire in Ethan’s office. We asked the human guards to do an extra sweep of the grounds, and Juliet and Kelley, also guards, started a top-to-bottom search of the House.

Ethan practically ran into the room, Malik behind him, the scent of cigar smoke trailing them. “Sentinel,” Ethan said, scanning the room, then focusing his gaze on me. “What the hell happened?”

“He was in your office. I turned around, and he was standing there, talking about hearing someone screaming. He kept hitting his head, staring at things that weren’t there.”

“Paranoid?” Ethan asked. “Schizophrenic?”

“I don’t know. Strong, and irritated, and I think afraid.”

“Irritated?” Malik asked.

I frowned. “Like the voice was an itch, something he couldn’t get rid of. He was afraid.”

“He attacked you,” Ethan said.

“He attacked at me. I don’t know if he was aware of who I was. And then he tried to kill himself—stab himself with a letter opener.” I pointed to where it still lay on the floor. “I knocked him out with your paperweight.”

“I’m glad it was handy.” He narrowed his gaze. “What were you doing in here?”

“The light was on. Given Helen’s memo, I was going to leave you a note, say good night.” I glanced down at the vampire. “I didn’t quite get that far.”

Luc ran into the room, eyes darting from the vampire to Ethan to me. “What happened?”

“That was my question as well.” Ethan’s eyes were hard. “An unfamiliar vampire gained entry to the House and attacked my Sentinel. And I will damn well know how that happened.”

• • •

We waited for my grandfather, Catcher, and Jeff Christopher, my grandfather’s computer ace, to arrive with a pair of CPD uniforms and a medical squad. The medical squad restrained the vampire, lifted him onto a stretcher, and removed him from the House.

I felt some of the tension finally leave my shoulders when he was gone, the House clear of him and his delusions. My grandfather, in his grandfatherly slacks and short-sleeved button-down, patted my back. “You all right?”

“I’m fine,” I said, taking another drink from the bottle of Blood4You Ethan had pulled from the small fridge built into his bookshelves. It was the vampire version of comfort food. “Got my adrenaline going, but mostly because he took me by surprise.”

“His name is Winston Stiles,” Catcher said. He was taller than my grandfather—not to mention younger and bulkier—with a shaved head, pale green eyes, and a muscular body. He wore jeans and a well-worn T-shirt with MAGIC IS AS MAGIC DOES across the front. “Wallet was in his pocket.”

“Where will you take him?” Ethan asked.

“The ceramics factory,” my grandfather said. The former industrial site near the lake had been turned into a holding facility for supernaturals that normal jails weren’t strong enough to contain. “He’ll stay there, at least until he’s evaluated.”

   
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