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How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire (Love at Stake 1) - Page 25


"We have a situation here," Phil answered. "Miss Whelan woke up to find Mr. Draganesti in her bed, and she thinks he's dead."

Laughter erupted on the other end of the walkie-talkie. Shanna's mouth dropped open. Jeez, these people were cold. She headed back toward Phil and his communication device. "Could I speak with your supervisor, please?"

Phil gave her a sheepish look, "That was my supervisor." He punched a button. "'Howard, could you come up here, please?"

"Oh yeah," Howard replied. "I wouldn't miss this." Beep.

Phil slipped the walkie-talkie into his pocket. "He'll be right up."

"Fine." Shanna scanned the room, but couldn't see a phone. "Would you please call 911?"

"I.. I can't. Mr. Draganesti wouldn't like that at all."

"Mr. Draganesti is beyond liking or disliking."

"Please! Trust me, everything will be all right." Phil glanced at his watch. "Just wait about two hours."

Wait? Would he be any less dead in two hours? Shanna paced back and forth across the room. Dammit, how could Roman die like that? He looked so strong and healthy. It must have been a stroke or heart attack. "We need to notify the next of kin."

"They're all dead."

No family? Shanna halted her pacing. Poor Roman. He had been all alone. Like her. A wave of grief poured over her - grief for what might have been. Now she would never look into his beautiful golden-brown eyes again. Or feel his arms around her. She leaned against a bedpost and gazed at his handsome face.

A knock sounded at the door, and a large, middle-aged man strode into the room. He wore khaki pants and a navy polo just like Phil. The utility belt around his waist held an assortment of goodies like a pistol and flashlight. He looked like an ex-football player, complete with a huge neck and a crooked, lumpy nose that had been broken too many times. He would have been quite forbidding if his comb-over didn't look so obvious and his eyes weren't twinkling with humor.

"Miss Whelan?" His voice was nasal, courtesy of his battered nose. He probably snored loud enough to be heard in Jersey. "I'm Howard Barr, head of daytime security. How are you?"

"Alive, which is more than I can say for your employer."

"Hmmm." Howard glanced toward the bed. "Is he dead, Phil?"

Phil's eyes widened. "No. Of course not."

"Good." Howard slapped his hands together and rubbed them against each other. "That clears that up. Would you like to come down to the kitchen for a cup of coffee?"

Shanna blinked. "Excuse me? Are - aren't you going to check the body?"

Howard adjusted his belt and marched over to the bed. "He looks fine to me, though it's damned strange that he'd be sleeping here. I've never known Mr. Draganesti to sleep in someone else's bed."

Shanna gritted her teeth. "He's not asleep."

"I think I know what happened," Phil said. "I saw him this morning, a little after six, coming down the stairs with Miss Whelan in his arms."

Howard frowned. "After six? The sun was already rising."

A terrible thought occurred to Shanna. "He was carrying me?"

"Yeah," Phil replied. "It was a good thing I came along when I did, cause the guy was really struggling."

Shanna caught her breath. Oh no.

Phil shrugged. "I guess he was too worn out to get back to his room."

Shanna collapsed on the bed next to Roman's feet. Oh God, she'd been too heavy for him to carry. She'd caused his heart attack. "This is terrible. I - I killed him."

"Miss Whelan." Howard gave her an exasperated look. "That is totally impossible. He's not dead."

"Of course he is." She glanced at his body, only inches away. "I'll never eat pizza again."

Phil and Howard exchanged a worried look. Their walkie-talkies beeped.

Howard whipped his out first. "Yes?"

A scratchy voice came through. "Radinka Holstein just arrived from her shopping trip. She suggests Miss Whelan join her in the parlor."

"Good idea." Howard sighed, visibly relieved. "Phil, will you take Miss Whelan down to the parlor?"

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"Sure." Phil looked equally relieved. "This way, miss."

Shanna hesitated, glancing at Roman. "What will you do with him?"

"Don't worry." Howard adjusted his utility belt. "We'll move him to his own bedroom. And in a few hours, when he wakes up, you'll both have a good laugh over this."

"Yeah, right." Shanna trudged down the hall alongside Phil.

Silently they descended the stairs. It was only last night when she had ascended these stairs with Roman. There was something about him - an aloof sadness - that had made her want to pester him and make him laugh. And when he did laugh, he seemed so surprised by it that she felt doubly rewarded.

Shoot, she hardly knew him, but she was going to miss him. He was strong, yet gentle. His intelligence was sharp and challenging. His insistence on protecting her was so macho. And he'd almost kissed her. Twice. Shanna sighed. Now she would never know what it was like to kiss Roman. She'd never get to see his lab or hear about his next brilliant achievement. She'd never get to talk to him again. By the time she reached the ground floor, she was thoroughly depressed. The sympathetic look on Radinka's face was her undoing. Her eyes filled with tears.

"Radinka, I'm so sorry. He's gone."

"There, there." Radinka hugged her and spoke in her deep, accented voice, "Do not worry, my dear. All will be fine." She led Shanna to the room on the right of the foyer.

It was empty. Shanna had expected it to be filled with women, like the night before. Dominating the room were three maroon leather couches, set around three sides of a square coffee table. On the fourth side, the wall was covered with an enormous widescreen television.

Shanna collapsed on a couch. "I can't believe he's gone."

Radinka placed her handbag on the coffee table and sat. "He will wake up, my dear."

"I don't think so." A tear slid down her face.

"These men can be very sound sleepers. My son, Gregori, is the same way. Impossible to wake up once he's asleep."

Shanna wiped the tear away. "No, he's dead."

Radinka brushed imaginary lint off her designer suit. "Perhaps you would feel better if I explain. I was here early in the morning, and Gregori told me what was happening. Roman took you to a dental clinic, and you worked on his teeth."

"That can't be right." Memory of a dental office hung precariously in her thoughts, just out of reach. "I.. I thought it was a dream."

"It was real. Roman used a form of hypnosis on you."

"What?"

"Gregori assured me that you agreed to it."

Shanna closed her eyes, trying to remember. Yes, she'd been resting on the chaise in Roman's office when he'd suggested hypnosis. And she had agreed. She was desperate to save her career, desperate for a chance at that normal life she wanted so badly. "So he really did hypnotize me?"

"Yes. It was good for both of you. He needed help from a dentist, and you needed help getting over your fear of blood."

"You.. you know about my fear?"

"Yes. You told Roman all about the terrible incident at the restaurant. Gregori was there, so he heard. I hope you don't mind that he told me."

"No, I suppose it's all right." Shanna leaned back against the soft leather cushions and rested her head. "I really worked on Roman's teeth last night?"

"Yes. No doubt your memory is somewhat vague, but it will come back to you, eventually."

"I didn't faint or freak out when I saw blood?"

"From what I understand, you did a marvelous job."

Shanna snorted. "I don't know how I managed to do anything if I was under some sort of spell. What exactly did I do?"

"You implanted a tooth he had lost."

Shanna sat up with a jerk. "Not the wolf tooth! Don't tell me I stuck an animal tooth in his mouth. Aw, gee." She collapsed against the cushions. What did it matter? The poor guy was dead.

Radinka smiled. "It was an ordinary tooth."

"Oh, good. I could just see the look on the coroner's face when he examines the body and finds a wolf tooth." Poor Roman. He was so young to die. And so gorgeous.

Radinka sighed. "I wish I could convince you that he's still alive. Hmm." She pressed a forefinger against her closed lips. The dark red nail polish was a perfect match to her lipstick. "Did you give him some sort of anesthesia to lessen the pain?"

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