Home > Haunted by Shadows (Demons of New Chicago #2)

Haunted by Shadows (Demons of New Chicago #2)
Author: Kel Carpenter

1

 

 

The static crackle in my ear was driving me fucking crazy. I shoved my gloved hands into the pockets of my new leather jacket to keep from swatting at the thing like an unwanted fly.

“Whatever you’re doing over there, you need to stop. I can’t scout out for Ronan with this thing crinkling like a plastic bag in my ear,” I said under my breath.

“Sorry, I’m trying to figure out the frequency. If I could just ask Barry—”

“No,” I said, cutting her off. We’d had this conversation a dozen times in the last three days. “It’s already bad enough you got the tech from him. I don’t want him butting into my business.”

Nathalie sighed into the mic that fed to the tiny speaker in my ear. “Have I mentioned how much your trust issues are a pain in my ass?”

“Only a time or twenty,” I replied. “Now hush. I haven’t seen Ronan yet, and if he sees me talking to myself, he might not show.”

“Somehow I doubt it’ll matter if you’re crazy when he’s more concerned with getting in your pants,” Nat commented dryly before cutting the mic, and by extension the static that was driving me nuts.

My boots were silent as I walked the length of the Navy Pier. It was beautiful this time of day. The sky was painted the same shade of creamsicle as the ice pops Bree and I would eat while our parents strolled side by side next to us. Those rose-colored memories were still marred with the signs of bite marks on my mother’s neck and the glint of steel on my dad’s hip, but it was a better time all the same.

And it was long gone. While there was still the odd light from the city, most of the streetlights were either broken or didn’t work. The cobbled walkway was covered in graffiti and bird shit. There were no strolling couples or children milling about. Anyone I ran into at this hour wasn’t someone I wanted to make nice with.

I pivoted on my heel, turning to walk the length of it again, when a figure standing at the end caught my attention.

My pulse quickened. I started walking toward him, my hands itching to reach for the two pistols strapped to either side of my hips. A long hunting knife was wedged in my boot. My leather jacket didn’t have all the nifty compartments my old trench coat did, so I had to forego the rope and hook that often helped me out of a pinch. Not that I saw that being a thing with Ronan. The nearest roof was through a museum that had long since closed. The odds of me getting that far weren’t high given I was headed straight to him.

Just like he wanted.

“You came,” he said, his voice a rumble of thunder and night. The very sound caressed my skin and sent a trail of goosebumps up both arms.

“You didn’t exactly give me a choice.”

His hands dropped away from the railing overlooking Lake Michigan as he turned to face me. Silver eyes edged with black fire swept over my form hungrily. While it was freezing in New Chicago, heat touched me in that moment. I hated it.

“But I did. You told me pursuing as I was didn’t work. You didn’t have a choice, so I gave you one. You’re choosing to be here of your own volition, despite your desire to run.” His eyes focused on the edge of my long-sleeved shirt. It wasn’t a turtleneck for once. The very edge of one of my brands peeked out from the faded black fabric.

“Fine. You forced my hand. Either way, I’m only here for Bree. Where is she?” I made a show of looking around even though I was damn sure she wasn’t nearby.

“Safe,” Ronan said, his eyes flaring with a touch of anger. He extended a hand to me. I didn’t take it. “Come. We’ll talk over dinner.”

I reeled back, my hand instinctively reaching for the pistol at my side. I’d shot him once, and he got back up. Maybe if I just kept shooting, he’d stay down long enough to find a way to incapacitate him. A crackling in my ear made me pause. “If you’re reaching for your gun, that’s stupid.” The fact that she knew exactly what I was doing—but couldn’t see me—was annoying. “You need to get more info out of him if we’re going to find Bree. Go to dinner. Talk to him.”

Ronan waited expectantly as I waffled in indecision. “Dinner,” I insisted. “That’s it. We eat, and you tell me where Bree is.”

His lips curled in a cruel smile as he regarded me. “We’ll see. We have much to talk about.” I didn’t like that answer, but what real other choice did I have? Either I walked, and our odds of finding Bree were zero-to-none, or I went with him.

I straightened my back and took his hand. Instead of threading his fingers through mine as I expected, he pulled me slightly in front of him and then released my hand, possessively placing his on my lower back. I lifted an eyebrow at him, and he mimicked the motion mockingly as he led me around the pier.

“For someone that says we have so much to talk about, you don’t say much.”

The corner of his mouth curled upward. “I’m just admiring that my atma finally came to me willingly. What can I say? After chasing you for weeks, I’m savoring victory.”

And will be for the last time if I have my way.

“Don’t get used to it,” I said instead.

He chuckled. “You’re wary of me. Understandable to an extent, given what you’ve been through—”

“You have no idea what I’ve been through,” I said sharply. Ronan paused, and his hand fell away. I turned back after walking a few feet.

“Oh, but I do,” he said softly. There was a dark edge to his voice. A dangerous note. “What do you think I’ve been doing when I’m not chasing you? Claude Lewis’ memories gave me a starting point. I followed those pieces of information I gained like a trail of breadcrumbs, finding people you’ve worked with or for. I’ve tracked places you’ve been. People who’ve hurt you. These last few weeks I’ve immersed myself in your world for you.” He stepped forward, and I stood my ground. “I know the Magic Wars hurt you and your family. That made you power hungry. Desperate. You would do anything to save them and save yourself. You’ve always been proactive that way, and it led you down the path you’re on now.”

“Don’t talk like you know me,” I spat. “You hunted down people who haven’t known me. What they saw was a phase of my life. A mask. A child. You invaded my privacy—”

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