"Yes. And I will provide you with a new wardrobe."
"What? Wait." She broke from his gaze and squeezed between two cars to step onto the sidewalk. "I'm not going to be your.. kept woman. I have my own clothes, and I'll gladly pay for room and board."
"Your clothes are in your home, and I doubt it's safe for you to go back there. I will provide you with clothing" - he stepped onto the sidewalk beside her - "unless you'd rather go without."
She gulped. "A few clothes will be fine. I'll reimburse you for them."
"I don't want your money."
"Well, you're not likely to get anything else!"
"Not even a little gratitude for saving your life?"
"I am grateful." She glared at him. "But you can expect all my thank-yous to be extended in a vertical position."
"In that case, let me remind you." He stepped closer. "We are vertical right now."
"I.. suppose so." Her glare dissolved into a look of wary speculation.
He moved close enough that only a fraction separated his chest from her br**sts. He placed a hand on the small of her back, just in case she tried to step back. She didn't try.
He touched her cheek, so soft and warm. She took a deep breath and closed her eyes. He skimmed his fingers down to her neck. Her pulse throbbed, quickening its pace. When she opened her eyes, there was trust in them. And desire.
He pulled her against his chest and brushed his lips across her temple into her soft hair. He'd seen her shocked expression earlier when his eyes had turned red, so just to be safe, he wanted to avoid eye contact until her eyes were firmly shut and her lips parted, begging for their first kiss.
He smoothed her hair back to expose her neck, then slid his mouth down past her sweet ear to the throbbing pulse.
With a sigh, she tilted her head back. He inhaled her scent, Type A Positive. It was coursing through every cell in her body. He ran the tip of his tongue along the artery and felt her shudder in response. He risked a look at her face. Her eyes were closed. She was ready. He moved in for the kiss just as a block of light suddenly fell on them.
"Oh, bugger," a Scots accent rolled the final r. Connor had swung open the front door.
Shanna jumped, then stared at the doorway.
"What's wrong?" Laszlo asked. "Uh, maybe we should shut the door."
"No way!" Gregori's voice piped in. "I want to watch."
Shanna eased back, blushing.
Roman glared at the three men squeezed into the doorway. "Great timing, Connor."
"Aye, sir." Connor's complexion turned a few shades lighter than his red hair. "We're ready for you now."
Maybe it was good timing after all. Now that he thought about it, Roman figured his mouth would taste like blood, and given Shanna's fear of the stuff, the kiss could have been a disaster. He'd have to be more careful in the future.
Future? What future could there be? He'd sworn never to involve himself with a mortal again. Once they figured out who he really was, they invariably wanted to kill him. And who could blame them? He was a demonic creature. "Come." He took her by the elbow to escort her up the stairs.
She didn't budge. She was frozen in place, staring at the door.
She was staring at Connor. "Roman, there's a man in your doorway wearing a kilt."
"There are a dozen Highlanders in the house. They're my security force."
"Really? How amazing." She proceeded up the stairs without him. Without even glancing his way.
Damn. Had she forgotten their embrace already?
"Welcome, my lady." Connor stepped back to let her pass. Laszlo and Gregori moved back, though she appeared oblivious to their presence.
Smiling, she faced the Scotsman. "My lady? I've never been called that before. It sounds almost.. medieval."
With good reason. Connor's Old World charm was really old. Roman rushed up the stairs. "He's a bit behind the times."
"Well, I like it." She scanned the entry hall with its polished marble floors and sweeping staircase. "And I love this house. Absolutely beautiful."
"Thank you." Roman locked the door and made introductions.
Shanna turned her attention back to Connor. "I love your kilt. Which plaid is that?"
"'Tis the tartan of the clan Buchanan." He bowed slightly.
"And the little tassels on your socks - they match your kilt. That's so cute."
"Och, lassie. Those be flashes to hold up my hose."
"Is that a knife?" She leaned over for a closer look at Connor's socks.
Roman suppressed a growl. Next she'd be telling Connor his hairy knees were cute. "Connor, take our guest to the kitchen. She may be hungry."
"And have your men conduct a full surveillance sweep every half hour."
"Aye, sir." Connor motioned to the back of the entry hall. "This way, miss."
"Go with him, Shanna. I'll come for you shortly."
"Aye, aye, sir." She gave him an annoyed look, then followed Connor to the kitchen, mumbling, "I should have shot him."
Gregori whistled low as the kitchen door swung shut. "Sweet. Your dentist is one feisty little babe."
"Gregori - " Roman gave him a stern look that was ignored.
He adjusted his silk tie. "Yeah, I think I need a check-up. I've got a cavity that needs to be filled."
"Enough!" Roman growled. "You will leave her alone. Understand?"
"Yeah, we know. We saw you drooling on her outside." Gregori strolled toward Roman, his eyes twinkling. "So, you got the hots for a mortal, huh? What happened to the 'never again' speech?"
Roman lifted an eyebrow.
Gregori grinned. "You know, I could tell she really likes those guy skirts. Maybe Connor could loan you one of his."
"They're called kilts," Laszlo said as he fiddled with a button.
"Whatever." Gregori looked Roman over. "So, how sexy are your legs?"
Roman gave him a warning look. "Why are you here, Gregori? I thought you were going out with Simone."
"Oh, I did. I took her to this new club over by Times Square, but then she got mad cause nobody recognized her."
"Why should they?"
"She's a famous model, bro! She was on last month's cover of Cosmo. Don't you keep up? Anyway, she was so pissed off, she threw a table across the dance floor."
Roman groaned. Becoming a vampire could vastly increase one's strength and enhance the five senses, but unfortunately, it did nothing to improve one's intelligence.
"I thought it might look suspicious for someone that skinny to be so strong," Gregori continued, "so I took care of it. I erased everybody's memories and brought her back here. She's with your harem now, getting sympathy and a pedicure."
"I would prefer that you not call them my harem." Roman glanced toward the closed parlor doors. "Are they in there?"
"Yeah." Gregori looked amused. "I told them to stay put and be quiet, but who knows if they'll behave?"
Roman sighed. "I don't have time to deal with them. Call your mother and see if she'll keep an eye on them."
Gregori snorted. "She'll love that." He pulled a cell phone from his pocket and stepped away to make the call.
The short chemist jumped. "Yes, sir?"
"Would you go to the kitchen and ask Shanna what she'll need for the.. uh, procedure?"
Laszlo looked confused for a second, then his expression cleared. "Oh, right! The procedure."
"And tell Connor to come out here for a second."
"Yes, sir." Laszlo scurried to the kitchen.
"Mom's on her way." Gregori slipped the phone back into his pocket. "So the dentist hasn't implanted your tooth yet?"
"No. We ran into a problem. Ivan Petrovsky. It appears the young dentist is on his latest hit list."
"You're kidding! What did she do?"
"I don't know exactly." Roman glanced toward the kitchen. "But I mean to find out."
The kitchen door swung as Connor strode into the foyer. He met them at the base of the stairs. "Can ye tell me why I just made a turkey sandwich for a dentist?"
Roman sighed. He'd have to let his head of security in on the situation. "Earlier tonight, I lost a tooth while conducting an experiment." He removed the bloody hanky from his jeans pocket and displayed the contents.