Home > Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires #1)(9)

Some Girls Bite (Chicagoland Vampires #1)(9)
Author: Chloe Neill

I found Mallory downstairs in the kitchen. She sat on a stool at the kitchen island, a Diet Coke on the counter before her, a copy of Cosmo in her hands. “What’d you learn last night in your vampire bible?” she asked, without looking up.

Preparing myself for the retelling, I nabbed a soda from the refrigerator, popped the tab, and slid onto a stool next to her. “Like Helen said, there’re twelve vampire Houses in the United States; three in Chicago. The House arrangement is kind of . . . Well, think feudal England. Except instead of a baron, you’ve got a Master vampire in charge of everything.”

“Ethan,” she offered.

I nodded my agreement. “For Cadogan, Ethan. He’s the most powerful vamp in the House. The rest of the vampires are basically his minions—we have to take an oath to serve him, swear our allegiance, that kind of thing. He even gets a fancy title.”

She looked up, brows lifted.

“He’s my ‘Liege.’ ”

Mallory tried unsuccessfully to hide a snicker—which ended up sounding strangled and anemic—before turning back to her magazine. “You have to call Darth Sullivan your ‘Liege’?”

I grinned. “Only if I expect him to answer.”

She snorted. “What else?”

“The Houses are like”—I paused to think of a good analogy—“company towns. Some vamps work for the House. Maybe guards or public relations folks or whatever. They’ve got administrators, docs who work outside the House, even some historic positions. All of them get a stipend.”

“Historic positions?”

I took a sip of my soda. “Ethan has a ‘Second,’ like a second-in-command or something.”

“Ooh, like Riker?”

Did I mentioned she also loved Star Trek: The Next Generation ? “Sure. There’s also a ‘Sentinel,’ which is like a guard for the House.”

“For the brand?”

I nodded at the apt metaphor. “Exactly. And the House itself is in Hyde Park. Think mansion.”

Mallory looked appropriately impressed. “Well. If you’re going to be attacked and unwillingly made a vampire, let it be a rich and fancy vampire, I guess.”

“That’s an argument.”

“How many Cadogan vamps?”

“Three hundred and eight nationally. Eighty-six actually live in the House proper. They get dorm rooms or something.”

“So these vamps live in a mansion-slash-frat house, and you get a stipend just for having pointier teeth.” She cocked her head at me. “How much cash is it, exactly?”

“Decent. Better than TA-ing.”

“Minus the free will.”

“There is that.”

Mal cleared her throat, put the can on the counter, linked her hands together, then looked over at me. I guessed I wasn’t going to like whatever confession she was about to make.

“I called the university.”

The tone of her voice made my heart sink. “Did you tell them none of this was my choice?”

Her gaze dropped to the counter. “Merit, they don’t admit vampires. They don’t have to do it legally, and they’re afraid of the lawsuits if one of you was to, you know”—she frowned, waved a hand in the air—“with the teeth and the biting. Honestly, if Helen hadn’t done it, the university would have dropped you when they found out.”

That seed of hatred unfolded, sprouted. “But I wouldn’t have told them,” I persisted. “How else would they have known? I could have rearranged my schedule, taken night classes. . . .”

Mallory shook her head, handed me, with somber expression, a folded newspaper that lay on the tabletop. It was the morning’s Trib, open to a page that bore the word “CONGRATULATIONS!” in bold Gothic letters across the top.

I popped the paper open. The banner topped off a full-page ad in the lifestyles section. A list of names, twelve columns of them, a dozen names in each column. The text read: The North American Vampire Registry congratulates the following new Initiates. May your service be fruitful and fulfilling.

I scanned the Houses: Navarre, McDonald, Cabot, Cadogan, Taylor, Lincoln, Washington, Heart, Lassiter, Grey, Murphy, Sheridan. My name was listed in the Cadogan column.

My stomach clenched.

“Some reporters called,” Mallory quietly said. “They left messages on the machine. They want to talk to you about being a vampire. A Merit vampire.”

“Reporters?” I shook my head and chucked the paper back onto the table. “I can’t believe this. I can’t believe they’d do this. That they’d out me.” I scrubbed hands across my face, tried to contain the anger that was beginning to well.

“Are you okay?” Mallory asked.

I dropped my hands and looked at her, willing her to understand. “I could have pretended, made sure no one knew. All I had to do was take evening classes, which wouldn’t have been so hard. My committee would have worked with me. Goddamn it! I didn’t even get a chance to try!”

The fury rose, quick, hot, and strong. It itched beneath my skin like my body was one size too small to contain it. Like my body didn’t fit. I rolled my shoulders in irritation, the anger still swelling.

I wanted to hit something. Fight something. Bite something. I slowly turned my head, cast a covetous glance at the refrigerator.

“Jesus H., Merit.”

I flicked a glance her way. Mallory’s eyes were wide, her hands clenched at the edge of the countertop. I heard the quick, flat double-thudding of a drum, and realized it was the thump of her heartbeat.

“What?” I whispered.

She reached out a hand, but snatched it back. “Your eyes. Your irises are completely silver.”

I ran from the kitchen to the first-floor bathroom, flipped on the light, and stared at myself. She was right. The blue of my eyes had become gleaming silver, the pupils dilated to pinpricks.

Mallory squeezed into the tiny powder room behind me. “You got angry. It must happen when you get angry.”

Angry or thirsty, I silently amended, since I’d just considered drinking blood as a means of stress relief.

“Open your mouth.”

My eyes still silver, our gazes met in the mirror. I hesitated for a moment, having to work up the courage for it, knowing what I’d see when I did.

I opened my mouth, saw the fangs that had descended from my upper jaw. My eyeteeth had lengthened, the tips becoming longer, sharper. That must have happened when I’d considered raiding the refrigerator. I’m not sure what it said about who I was now that I hadn’t noticed at the time.

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