Home > Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires #1)(6)

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires #1)(6)
Author: Chloe Neill


The fact that my father was unwilling to investigate the attack on his daughter notwithstanding, my scars were gone anyway. I touched my neck. “I think it’s a little late for the police.”

My father, evidently unimpressed by my forensic analysis, rose from the couch and approached me. “I’ve worked hard to bring this family up from nothing. I will not see it torn down again.” His cheeks were flushed crimson. My mother, who’d moved to stand at his side, touched his arm and quietly said his name.

I bristled at the “again,” but resisted the urge to argue with my father’s assessment of our family history, reminding him, “Becoming a vampire wasn’t my choice.”

“You’ve always had your head in the clouds. Always dreaming about romantic gibberish.” I assumed that was a knock against my dissertation. “And now this.” He walked away, strode to a floor-to-ceiling window, and stared out of it. “Just—stay on your side of town. And stay out of trouble.”

I thought he was done, that the admonishment was the end of it, but then he turned, and gazed at me through narrowed eyes. “And if you do anything to tarnish our name, I’ll disinherit you fast enough to make your head spin.”

My father, ladies and gentlemen.

 

 

By the time I made it back to Wicker Park, I was red-eyed and splotchy again, having cried my way east. I didn’t know why my father’s behavior surprised me; it was completely in keeping with his principal goal in life: improving his social standing. My near-death experience and the fact that I’d become a bloodsucker weren’t as important in his tidy little world as the threat I posed to their status.

It was late when I pulled the car into the narrow garage beside the house—nearly one a.m. The brownstone was dark, the neighborhood quiet, and I guessed Mallory was asleep in her upstairs bedroom. Unlike me, she still had a job at her Michigan Avenue ad firm, and she was usually in the Loop by seven a.m. But when I unlocked the front door, I found her on the couch, staring blankly at the television. “You need to see this,” she said, without looking up. I kicked off the heels, walked around the sofa to the television, and stared. The headline at the bottom of the screen read, ominously, Chicagoland vamps deny role in murder.

I looked at Mallory. “Murder?”

“They found a girl dead in Grant Park. Her name is Jennifer Porter. Her throat was ripped out. They found her tonight, but think she was killed a week ago—three days before you were attacked.”

“Oh, my God.” I dropped onto the sofa behind me, pulled up my knees. “They think vamps did this?”

“Watch,” Mallory said.

On screen, four men and a woman—Celina Desaulniers—stood behind a wooden podium.

A swath of print and broadcast reporters huddled before it, their microphones, cameras, recorders, and notepads in hand.

In perfect sequence, the quintet stepped forward.

The man in the middle of the group, tall with a spill of dark hair around his shoulders, leaned over the microphone.

“My name,” he said, in a wine-warm voice, “is Alexander. These are my friends and associates. As you know, we are vampires.”

The room erupted in flashes of light, reporters frantically snapping images of the ensemble. Seemingly oblivious to the flash of the strobes, they stood stoically, side by side, perfectly still.

“We are here,” Alexander said, “to extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Jennifer Porter, and to promise to do our part to assist the Chicago Police Department and other law enforcement agencies in any way that we can. We offer our aid and condemn the acts of those who would take human life. There is no need for such violence, and it has long been abhorred by the civilized among us. As you know, although we must take blood to survive, we have long-established procedures that prevent us from victimizing those who do not share our craving. Murder is perpetrated only by our enemies. And rest assured, my friends, they are your enemies and ours, alike.”

Alexander paused, but then continued, his voice edgier. “It has come to our attention that a pendant from one of Chicago’s Houses, Cadogan, was found at the crime scene.”

“Oh, my God,” Mallory whispered.

I kept my eyes on the screen.

“Although our comrades from Cadogan House do drink from humans,” Alexander continued, “they are meticulous in ensuring that the humans who donate blood are fully informed and fully consenting. And Chicago’s other vampires do not, under any circumstances, take human blood. Thus, it is our belief, although only a hypothesis at this early time, that the medal was placed at the scene of the crime solely to inculpate the residents of Cadogan House. To suggest otherwise is unjustified supposition.”

Without another word, Alexander fell back in line next to his comrades.

Celina stepped forward. At first, she was silent, her gaze scanning the reporters in front of her. She smiled softly, and you could practically hear the reporters’ sighs. But the innocence in her expression was a little too innocent to be believable. A little too forced.

“We are devastated by the death of Jennifer Porter,” she said, “and by the accusations that have been leveled against our colleagues. Although Navarre House vampires do not drink, we respect the decisions of other Houses to engage in that practice. The resources of Navarre House are at the city’s disposal. This crime offends us all, and Navarre House will not rest until the killer is caught and prosecuted.”

Celina nodded at the bank of reporters, then turned and walked offscreen, the rest of her vampires falling in line behind her.

Mallory muted the television and turned back to me. “What the hell have you gotten yourself into?”

“They say the Houses aren’t involved,” I pointed out.

“She says Navarre isn’t involved,” Mallory said. “She seems pretty willing to throw the other Houses to the wolves. And besides, vampires were involved when you turned up almost dead. A vampire attacked you. That’s too many fangs to be coincidental.”

I caught the direction of her thoughts. “You think I’m, what, number two? That I was supposed to be the second victim?”

“You were the second victim,” she said. She used the remote to turn off the television. “And I think it’s an awfully big coincidence that your throat was ripped out on campus. It’s not exactly a park, but it’s close enough. Look,” she said, pointing back at the television.

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