Roman wondered why she didn't have a date. Mortal men had to be blind. He took her hand in his. "Go on. They can't hurt you now."
Her eyes filled with tears again. 'They do hurt me. Every day. I can't sleep without seeing Karen dying in front of me. And I can't function as a dentist anymore!" She leaned over to grab the glass of whisky. "Sheesh, I hate self-pity."
"Wait a minute." He moved the whisky out of her reach. "What do you mean, you can't function as a dentist?"
She collapsed back onto the chaise. "I might as well face the facts. I've lost my career, too. How can I possibly work as a dentist when I faint at the sight of b-blood?"
Oh, right. Her fear of blood. He'd forgotten about that. "This fear of yours - it started that night at the deli?"
"Yes." Shanna wiped her eyes. "I was in the bathroom when I heard the awful screams. They were shooting all over the place. I could hear the bullets hitting the walls. And I could hear the screams when they hit.. people."
"It was the Russians?"
"Yes. The gunfire stopped, so after a while, I sneaked out of the bathroom. I saw Karen lying on the floor. She.. she'd been shot in the stomach and the chest. She was still alive, and she shook her head at me like she was trying to warn me."
Shanna pressed her hands to her eyes. "That's when I heard them. They were back behind the pizza oven, yelling in Russian." She raised her hands to look at Roman. "I don't really know Russian, but I recognized the cuss words. My brother and I used to have this competition going - who could learn the most cuss words in different languages."
"Did the Russians see you at the deli?"
"No. When I heard their voices, I hid behind a mess station and some big potted plants. I heard more gunshots in the kitchen, then they came out. They stopped by Karen and looked at her. I saw their faces. Then they left."
"Did they stop by the other victims like they did Karen?"
Shanna frowned, trying to remember. "No, they didn't. In fact - "
"They opened her purse and looked at her driver's license. Then they got mad, cursed like crazy, and threw the purse down. It was so strange. I mean, they killed ten people in that deli. Why would they bother to check Karen's ID?"
Why indeed? Roman didn't like the conclusions he was drawing, but he didn't want to alarm Shanna until he was more certain. "So you testified against the Russians in court, and you were given a new identity?"
"Yes. I became Jane Wilson and moved to New York about two months ago." Shanna sighed. "I don't really know anyone here. Except Tommy, the pizza guy. It's kinda nice to have someone to talk to. You're a good listener."
He glanced at the clock on the mantel. Only four minutes to go. Maybe now she would trust him enough to let him into her head. "I can do more than listen, Shanna. I.. I'm an expert in therapeutic hypnosis."
"Hypnosis?" Her eyes widened. "You do past life regressions and stuff like that?"
He smiled. "Actually, I was thinking we could use hypnosis to cure your fear of blood."
"Oh." She blinked, then sat up. "Are you serious? I could be cured that easily?"
"Yes. You would have to trust me - "
"That would be great! I wouldn't have to give up my career."
"Yes. But it would require you to trust me."
"Well, sure." She gave him a suspicious look. "You wouldn't do any of those weird posthypnotic suggestions,would you? Like making me strip naked and crow like a rooster whenever someone yells taxi."
"I have no desire to see you crow. And as for the other - '" He leaned closer and whispered, "It sounds most intriguing, but I would prefer any stripping to be totally voluntary."
She ducked her chin, her cheeks blushing. "Right."
"Then you will trust me?"
She lifted her gaze to meet his. "You want to do it right now?"
"Yes." He willed her eyes to stay trapped with his. "It will be so easy. All you have to do is relax."
"Relax?" She continued to stare at him, but her vision dulled.
"Lie back." He gently lowered her into a reclining position. "Keep looking into my eyes."
"Yes," she whispered. Her brow puckered. "You have unusual eyes."
"You have beautiful eyes."
She smiled, then winced as a pained expression crossed her pretty features. "I feel cold again."
"It'll soon pass, and you'll feel fine. Do you want to conquer your fear, Shanna?"
"Yes. Yes, I do."
"Then you will succeed. You will be strong and confident. Nothing will stop you from being an excellent dentist."
"That sounds wonderful."
"You're feeling very relaxed, very sleepy."
"Yes." Her eyelids flickered shut.
He was in. God's blood, it had been so easy. She'd left the door wide open. All it had taken was the proper motivation. He'd have to remember that, in case he ran across other difficult mortals in the future. But as he settled into Shanna's thoughts, he knew there was no one else like her.
On the surface, her intelligent mind was well organized.
But just beneath that well-structured exterior, strong emotions swelled. They surrounded him, pulling him in. Fear. Pain. Grief. Remorse. And beneath the storm, a stubborn will to persevere no matter what. The emotions were all familiar to him, yet so different, coming from Shanna. Her feelings were fresh and raw. His had been dying away for more than five hundred years. God's blood, to feel this way again. It was heady, intoxicating. She had so much passion just waiting to be unleashed. And he could do it. He could open her mind and her heart.
"Roman." Gregori checked his watch. "You've got forty-five seconds."
He shook himself mentally. "Shanna, do you hear me?"
"Yes," she whispered, her eyes still closed.
"You will have a wonderful dream. You'll find yourself in a dentist office. A new and safe dentist office. I'll be your patient and ask you to implant a tooth. An ordinary tooth. Do you understand?"
She nodded her head slowly.
"If there is any blood, you will not flinch. You will not hesitate. You will continue, calm and confident, till the procedure is done. Then you will sleep soundly for ten hours and forget what happened. You will awaken, feeling happy and refreshed. Do you understand?"
He smoothed her hair back from her face. "Sleep for now. The dream will begin soon." Roman stood. She lay, sleeping peacefully, one hand curled beneath her chin and entwined in chenille fringe. She looked so innocent, so trusting.
The phone rang.
Connor answered it. "Hang on a second. I'm putting you on the speaker phone."
"Hello? Can you hear me?" Laszlo's voice sounded nervous. "I hope you're ready. We don't have much time. It's already four-forty-five."
Roman wondered if the little chemist had any buttons left on his lab coat. "We hear you fine, Laszlo. I'll be there soon with the dentist."
"She - she is cooperating?"
"Yes." Roman turned to Gregori. "Find out the exact time of sunrise. Then call us at the dental office five minutes before dawn so we can teleport back."
Gregori winced. "That's cutting it close. I won't have time to go home."
"You can sleep here."
"Me, too?" Laszlo asked over the phone.
"Yes. Don't worry. We have plenty of guest rooms." Roman gathered a sleeping Shanna in his arms.
"Sir." Connor stood. "About her father. 'Tis like the man doesna exist. I'm thinking CIA. I could send Ian to Langley to find out."
"Very well." Roman adjusted his hold on Shanna. "Start talking, Laszlo, and keep talking till we're there."
"Yes, sir. As you say, sir. I - well, everything is ready here. I put your tooth in the Save-a-Tooth system like the dentist recommended. That reminds me, wasn't there a movie about a dentist, an evil dentist who kept asking, 'Is it safe?' What was the name of that actor.."
Laszlo's voice rushed on, though Roman didn't focus on individual words. Instead he used the voice as a beacon, reaching out with his mind until he made the connection. For routine trips, like from his home to his office at Romatech, the journey was imbedded in his psychic memory. But if he was unfamiliar with either a destination or point of departure, the safest way to teleport was to use some sort of sensory anchor. If he could see a place, he could go there. If he could lock onto a voice, he could go there. Without an anchor, a vampire could accidentally rematerialize in the wrong place, like inside a brick wall or in blazing sunlight.