He looked so offended, Shanna decided her conclusion must have been faulty. "Okay, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to infer that you weren't doing your job well."
He nodded, somewhat mollified.
"In fact, I'm terribly grateful for your protection." She just couldn't leave well enough alone, though. "But I do have to object to using guards as young as Ian. That boy should in bed and going to school in the morning."
Connor frowned. "He's a wee older than he looks."
Connor folded his arms across his chest. "Older."
"Ninety-two?" Sarcasm crept into her voice, but Connor didn't appear amused. He looked about the kitchen as if he was genuinely stumped on how to answer.
The door to the hallway swung open and a large figure entered the room.
"Thank God " Connor muttered. Roman Draganesti was back.
Shanna had no doubt Roman ruled his house and corporation with well-assured ease. His dark clothing should have looked drab compared to the colorful kilts of the security team, but it only served to make him look more dangerous. More aloof. More bad-boy, mouth-watering sexy.
She watched as he nodded at Connor, then focused his golden-brown eyes on her. Once again, she felt the power of his gaze, as if it could imprison her and force the rest of the world beyond her reach. She broke the connection and shifted in her chair to gaze at her empty plate. She wouldn't let him affect her. Liar. Her heart was pounding. A wave of goose bumps was creeping up her arms. He affected her whether she liked it or not.
"Did you get enough to eat?" his low voice rumbled toward her.
She nodded, refusing to look at him.
"Connor, leave a note for the day shift. They need to keep the kitchen stocked with food for Dr.. ?"
Shanna hesitated, then said, "Whelan." After all, they alleady knew her real first name. And that the Russian mob wanted to kill her. There didn't seem any point in keeping up the pretense of the Jane Wilson identity.
"Dr. Shanna Whelan," he repeated her name as if just saying it would give him control over it. And over her. "Connor, could you wait in my office? Gregori will be back soon, and he'll fill you in on all the details."
"Aye, sir." Connor nodded at Shanna before he left.
She watched the kitchen door swing to and fro. "He seems very nice."
"He is." Roman leaned against the kitchen counter, his arms folded over his broad chest.
An uncomfortable silence ensued. Shanna fiddled with her napkin, aware that he was watching her. He had to be one of the most brilliant scientists in the world. She'd loved to see his lab. No, wait. He worked with blood. She shuddered.
"Are you cold?"
"No. I - I want to thank you for saving my life."
"Are you sure? Your position is not quite vertical."
Surprised, she glanced his way. The corner of his mouth was lifted. His eyes were glimmering with humor. The rascal was teasing her about the fuss she'd made earlier. But even a vertical position had proven dangerous with him. Her cheeks grew warm, remembering their near kiss. "Are you hungry? I could make you a sandwich."
The gleam in his eyes grew more intense. "I'll wait."
"Okay." She rose and took her empty plate and glass to the sink. This might have been a mistake. Now she was only a few feet away from him. What was it about this guy that made her want to throw herself into his arms? She rinsed out her glass. "I - I know who you are."
He moved back a step. "What do you know?"
"I know you're the owner of Romatech Industries. I know you're the one who invented the formula for synthetic blood. You've saved millions of lives around the world." She turned the water off and gripped the edge of the counter. "I think you're absolutely brilliant."
When he didn't respond, she chanced a look at him. He was staring at her with a stunned expression. Good God, didn't he know he was brilliant?
Frowning, he turned away. "I'm not what you think."
She smiled. "You mean you're not intelligent? I admit - wanting to sport a wolf tooth in your gorgeous smile is not the brightest idea I've ever heard."
"It's not a wolf tooth."
"It's not a human tooth." She cocked her head, studying him. "Did you really lose a tooth? Or did you just show up like Prince Valiant to rescue me and whisk me away on your noble steed?"
His mouth twitched. "It's been many years since I owned a noble steed."
"And I suppose your armor is a bit rusty?"
"Yes, it is."
She leaned toward him. "But you're still a hero."
His smile, faint as it was, faded away completely. "No, I'm not. I really do need a dentist. See?" He lifted the corner of his mouth with a forefinger.
There was a gap where his right canine should be. "When did you lose it?"
"A few hours ago."
"Then it may not be too late. That is, if you have the real tooth."
"I do. Well, actually, Laszlo has it."
"Oh." She stepped closer and rose up on her toes. "May I?"
"Yes." He lowered his head.
She shifted her gaze from his eyes to his mouth. Her heart pounded in her chest. She touched his cheeks, then lifted her fingertips. "I'm not wearing gloves."
"I don't mind."
Neither do I. Good God, she'd examined a lot of mouths in the last few years, but it had never felt like this. She lightly touched his lips. Wide, sensual lips. "Open."
He did. She slipped a finger inside and examined the gap. "How did you lose it?"
"Sorry." She smiled. "I have a bad habit of asking questions when the patient can't talk." She started to remove her finger, but his lips closed around it. She glanced at his eyes and instantly felt surrounded by their golden intensity. Slowly, she dragged her finger out. Good God. Her knees weakened. She had a vision of herself sliding down his body to collapse on the floor. She would reach up to him and say, "Take me, you fool."
He touched her face. "Do I get a turn?"
"Hmm?" She could hardly hear with her heart pounding in her ears.
His gaze dropped to her mouth. He skimmed his thumb over her bottom lip.
The kitchen door swung open. "I'm back," Gregori announced. He looked them over and grinned. "Am I interrupting something?"
"Yes. My life." Roman glared at him. "Go to my office. Connor is waiting for you."
"Fine." Gregori headed out the door. "My mom's out here, waiting. And Laszlo's ready."
"I understand." Roman straightened his shoulders and gave Shanna a bland look. "Come."
"Excuse me?" Shanna watched him march out the door. Of all the nerve. So it was back to business, then? He'd opened up a bit, but now, he was back to being the big boss man.
Well, if he thought he could order her around, he was sadly mistaken. She took her time, buttoning her lab coat. Then she grabbed her purse off the table and stalked after him.
He stood at the base of the staircase, talking to an older woman. She wore an expensive gray business suit and sported a purse that was worth some people's monthly salary. Her hair was mostly black, though a silver streak ran from her left temple to disappear into the bun at the nape of her neck. She noted Shanna's approach with a lift of her perfectly arched brows.
Roman turned. "Shanna, this is Gregori's mother and my personal assistant, Radinka Holstein."
"How do you do?" Shanna extended a hand.
Radinka looked her over for a moment. Just when Shanna thought the woman was going to refuse to shake hands, she suddenly smiled and gave Shanna's hand a tight squeeze. "At last, you have come."
Shanna blinked, not sure how to respond.
Radinka's smile widened, and she switched her gaze to Roman, then to Shanna, then back to Roman. "I'm so happy for you both."
Roman crossed his arms and scowled at the woman.
She touched Shanna on the shoulder. "If there is anything you need, you let me know. I'm either here or at Romatech every night."
"You work at night?" Shanna asked.
"The facility is open 24/7, but I prefer the night shift." Radinka waved a hand in the air, her perfect fingernails painted a glossy, dark red. "The day shift is far too noisy, all those trucks coming and going. You can hardly hear yourself think."