Home > Friday Night Bites (Chicagoland Vampires #2)

Friday Night Bites (Chicagoland Vampires #2)
Author: Chloe Neill



Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill
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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Writing is a kind of team sport. Although one person does the typing, others brainstorm, offer support, market the product, and ensure that the book that goes out the door is better than the one that came in. Friday Night Bites is dedicated to the team of friends and relatives who’ve helped get the Chicagoland Vampires novels to print, especially the following: my fabulous marketers, Brooke, Caitlin, Jia, and Mom; my patient editor, Jessica; my fabulous agent (and new author!) Lucienne; the folks who patiently read the drafts, including Dusan, Jenny, Amy, Anne, Sandi, Jon, Linda, and Heather; my fabulous book-signing liaison, Sara; and, of course, Nate, for his moral support, excellent brainstorming skills, and dog walking.

A portion of the author’s proceeds from the sale of Friday Night Bites will be donated to the Chicago Food Depository.

 

 

CURIOUS ABOUT THE CHICAGOLAND VAMPIRES,

CHLOE OR THE CANON?

Visit chloeneill

 

 

“First get the facts. Then you can distort them all you want.”

 

—Mark Twain

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

MOVIN’ OUT

Late May

Chicago, Illinois

 

 

“Higher, Merit. Bring up that kick. Mmm-hmm. Better.” I kicked again, this time higher, trying to remember to point my toes, squeeze my core, and flutter my fingers in the “jazz hands” our instructor ceaselessly demanded.

Next to me, and considerably less enthused, my best friend and soon-to-be-ex-roommate, Mallory, growled and executed another kick. The growl was an odd accompaniment to the bob of blue hair and classically pretty face, but she was irritated enough to carry it off. “Remind me why you dragged me into this?” she asked.

Our instructor, a busty blonde with bright pink nails and impossibly sharp cheekbones, clapped her hands together. Her breasts joggled in syncopation. It was impossible to look away.

“Fiercer, ladies! We want every eye in the club on our bodies! Let’s work it!”

Mallory glared daggers at the instructor we’d named Aerobics Barbie. Mal’s fists curled and she took a menacing step forward, but I wrapped an arm around her waist before she could pummel the woman we’d paid to grapevine us into skinny jeans.

“Ixnay on the ighting-fay,” I warned, using a little of my two-month-old vampire strength to keep her in place despite her bobbing fists. Mallory grumbled, but finally stopped struggling.

Score one for the newbie vampire, I thought.

“How about a little civilized beat-down?” she asked, blowing a lock of sweaty blue hair from her forehead.

I shook my head, but let her go. “Beating down the teacher’s gonna get you more attention than you need, Mal. Remember what Catcher said.”

Catcher was Mallory’s gruff boyfriend. And while my comment didn’t merit a growl, I got a nasty, narrow-eyed snarl. Catcher loved Mallory, and Mallory loved Catcher. But that didn’t mean she liked him all the time, especially since she was dealing with a supernatural perfect storm centered over our Chicago brownstone. In the span of a week, I’d been unwillingly made a vampire, and we’d learned that Mallory was a still-developing sorceress. As in, magical powers, black cats and the major and minor Keys—the divisions of magic.

So, yeah. My first few weeks as a vampire had been inordinately busy. Like The Young and the Restless, but with slightly dead people.

Mal was still getting used to the idea that she had paranormal drama of her own, and Catcher, already in trouble with the Order (the sorcerers’ governing union), was keeping a pretty tight lid on her magical demonstrations. So Mallory was supernaturally frustrated.

Hell, we were both supernaturally frustrated, and Mallory didn’t have fangs or a pretentious Master vampire to deal with.

So, given that unfortunate state of affairs, why were we letting Aerobics Barbie guilt us into using jazz hands?

Simply put, this was supposed to be quality time, bonding time, for me and Mallory.

Because I was moving out.

“Okay,” Barbie continued, “let’s add that combination we learned last week. One, two and three and four, and five, six and seven and eight.” The music reached a pounding crescendo as she pivoted and thrusted to the bass-heavy beat. We followed as best we could, Mallory having a little harder time of not stepping on her own feet. My years of ballet classes—and the quick-step speed that vampirism gave me—were actually serving me pretty well, the humiliation of a twenty-eight-year-old vampire doing jazz hands notwithstanding.

Barbie’s enthusiasm aside, the fact that we were doing jazz hands in a hip-hop dance class didn’t say much for her credentials. But the class was still an improvement over my usual training. My workouts were usually très intense, because only a couple of months ago I’d been named Sentinel for my House.

To make a long story slightly shorter, American vampires were divided into Houses. Chicago had three, and I’d been initiated into the second oldest of those—Cadogan. Much to everyone’s surprise given my background (think grad school and medieval romantic literature), I’d been named Sentinel. Although I was still learning the ropes, being Sentinel meant I was supposed to act as a kind of vampire guard. (Turns out that while I was a pretty geeky human, I was a pretty strong vampire.) Being Sentinel also meant training, and while American vampires had traded in the black velvet and lace for Armani and iPhones, they were pretty old school on a lot of issues—feudal on a lot of issues—including weapons. Put all that together, and it meant I was learning to wield the antique katana I’d been given to defend Cadogan and its vampires.

Coincidentally enough, Catcher was an expert in the Second of the Four Keys—weapons—so he’d been tasked with prepping me for vampire combat. As a newbie vampire, having Catcher as a sparring partner wasn’t exactly great for the confidence.

Aerobics Barbie whipped herself into a hip-hop frenzy, leading the class in a final multistep combination that ended with the lot of us staring sassily at the mirrors that lined the dance studio. Session concluded, she applauded and made some announcements about future classes that Mallory and I would have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to attend.

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