She groped along the bedside table till she felt the base of a lamp. She clicked on the switch and caught her breath.
What a beautiful stained glass lamp. Shades of dusty blue and lavender shone in the dim light. She could see the room now. It was bigger than her entire apartment in SoHo. The carpet was gray, the walls a pale blue. Curtains in muted stripes of blue and lavender framed the window. The window itself was completely covered with shiny metal shutters, clamped shut. No wonder the room was so dark.
The bed was a canopy four-poster of pale white oak. Sheer voile in shades of blue and lavender were draped along the upper frame. A beautiful bed. Shanna looked over her shoulder.
An occupied bed.
With a strangled shriek, she leaped to her feet. Oh my God, Roman Draganesti was in her bed! How dare he sleep in her bed? Or, God help her, maybe she had slept in his bed. Maybe this was his room. How could she have no memory of this?
She checked her clothes. Her shoes and lab coat were gone, but otherwise, she appeared intact. And unmolested. He lay flat on his back on top of the bedspread, still fully clothed in his black sweater and jeans. Sheesh, the man's shoes were still on.
Why on earth would he sleep with her? Was he that committed to protecting her? Or did he have other motives? Her gaze gravitated toward his jeans. He hadn't kept his attraction to her a secret. Darn, it would just be her luck if a gorgeous hunk tried to seduce her, and she couldn't even remember it.
She rounded the bed, studying him. He looked very peaceful, almost innocent, though she knew better. Why, it wouldn't surprise her if he was just pretending to be asleep.
On the floor, she spotted her lab coat and shoes. She had no memory of taking them off, so Roman must have done it. Then why didn't he take off his own shoes?
She stepped closer to him. "Hello? Good morning.. or afternoon."
She chewed her lip, wondering what to do. He wasn't much of a protector if he slept this soundly. She leaned close to his face. "The Russians are coming!"
His face remained immobile. Sheesh. A lot of help he would be. She scanned the room. Two doors. She cracked the first one and saw a long hallway with many doors on each side. This had to be the fourth floor and a guest room. The fifth floor didn't have a hallway. Roman had that floor all to himself. She spotted a man close to the stairs with his back turned toward her. No kilt, but he wore a gun holster on his belt. A guard, she supposed, though definitely not a Highlander. His khaki pants and navy polo shirt were ordinary.
She closed the door and tried the next one. Great, a bathroom. Everything was there - toilet, bathtub, sink, towels, toothpaste, toothbrush - everything but a mirror. That was weird. She took care of business, then unlocked the door and peeked out. Roman was still asleep in her bed. She flicked the bathroom light switch on and off a few times, creating a strobe effect on his face. Still nothing. What a sound sleeper.
She washed her face and brushed her teeth. Now she felt better equipped for a showdown with the uninvited man in her bed.
She paced toward him, a smile pasted on her face, and in a loud voice, announced, "Good morning, Mr. Draganesti. Would it be too much of an imposition to expect you to sleep in your own bed from now on?"
No answer. Not even a snore. Didn't men snore? Hmm, not if he was pretending.
"It's not that I don't find your company stimulating. You're certainly a laugh a minute." She moved closer and poked him in the shoulder. "Come on, I know you're faking it."
She leaned over and whispered in his ear. "You realize this means war." Still no response. She examined the entire length of him. Long legs, trim waist, broad shoulders, strong jaw, a straight nose, though just a tad too long. It fit him, though, suited his arrogance. A strand of black hair lay across his cheekbone. She brushed the hair back. It was fine and soft.
No reaction whatsoever. He was certainly good at playing possum.
She perched beside him on the bed and placed her hands on his shoulders. "I have come to ravish your body. Resistance is futile."
Nothing. Shoot! Was she that easy to resist? Okay, she'd resort to torture. She bounced down to the end of the bed and pulled his shoes off. They landed on the floor with loud clunks. Still nothing. She stroked her fingers along his thick black socks, then tickled the soles of his feet. He didn't budge.
She tugged on the big toe of his left foot. "This little piggy went to market." She worked her way down to the little toe. "And this little piggy cried wee, wee, wee.." She let her fingers do the walking up his long leg. "All the way home."
She stopped at his hip. His face remained calm, unmoved. Her gaze wandered to his zipper. Now, that would wake him up. If she dared.
She glanced at his face. "I know you're faking it. No red-blooded male could sleep through this."
No response. Damn him. He was waiting to see how far she would go. Okay. She'd give him a wake-up call he'd never forget.
She shoved his black sweater up to reveal the waistband of his jeans. The sight of skin quickened her pulse, and she lifted the sweater a little bit higher. "Don't get out in the sun much, do you?"
His skin was pale, but his waist and stomach were nice and trim. A line of black hair descended from his chest, swirled around his belly button, then continued into the black jeans. Holy moly, he was so gorgeous. So masculine. So sexy.
"Wake up, dammit!" She leaned over, planted her mouth over his navel, and blew a loud raspberry.
"Sheesh, you sleep like the dead!" She plopped down beside him. Then it struck her. Of course he wasn't snoring. He wasn't breathing. She reached out a shaky hand and touched his stomach. Cold.
She jerked her hand back. No, no, this wasn't happening to her. The man had been perfectly healthy the night before.
But no one could sleep this soundly. She lifted his arm and let go. It fell down with a thud.
Oh God, it was true! She scrambled off the bed. Terror rose in her throat and erupted in a scream.
Roman Draganesti was dead.
She'd slept with a corpse. Granted, the few men she'd shared a bed with in the past hadn't exactly set the world on fire. And after a while, they generally walked away, never to return. Shanna had never considered their mobility a plus before.
Even after her earth-shattering screech, Roman was still lying there, peaceful as ever. He had to be dead. No, dammit!
She screamed again.
The door slammed open. She jumped and turned all at once.
"What's wrong?" The man she had seen earlier in the hallway was now standing outside the door, a pistol in his hand.
Shanna pointed at the bed. "Roman Draganesti is.. dead."
"What?" The man slid his gun back into its holster.
"He's dead!" Shanna pointed once more at the bed. "I woke up and found him in my bed. Dead."
With a worried look, the man approached the bed. "Oh." His frown vanished. "No problem, miss. He's not dead."
"I'm sure he's dead."
"No, no. He's just asleep." The guard placed two fingers on Roman's neck. "Pulse is fine. Not to worry. I'm a trained security specialist. I would know a dead person."
"Well, I'm a trained medical professional, and I know a dead body when I see one." And she'd seen way too many of them when Karen had died. Shanna's knees trembled, and she looked around for a chair. None. There was only the bed. And poor Roman.
"He's not dead," the guard insisted. "He's just sleeping."
God, this man was dense. "Look - what's your name?"
"Phil. I'm one of the daytime guards."
"Phil." Shanna leaned against one of the four posters for support. "I know you don't want to admit this. After all, you're a guard, and you're supposed to keep people alive."
"He is alive."
"He is not!" Shanna's voice rose higher and higher. "He's dead! Deceased. Snuffed out. The Roman Empire has fallen!"
Phil's eyes widened, and he stepped back. "Okay, okay. Calm down." He tugged a walkie-talkie from his pocket. "I need help on the fourth floor. The guest is totally losing it."
"I am not!" Shanna strode toward the window. "Maybe if we open these shutters, it'll shed some light on the matter."
"No!" Phil sounded so frantic, Shanna stopped.
Static cackled on the walkie-talkie, then a voice came through. "What's the problem, Phil?" Beep.