"You were very professional." He recaptured her hand and kissed her palm. If only she would suggest o**l s*x again.
"I didn't freak out at the sight of blood?"
"No." He kissed the inside of her wrist. Type A Positive was pulsing through the vein. "You were very brave."
Her eyes lit up. "You know what this means? My career isn't over. This is great!" She flung her arms around his neck and gave him a kiss on the cheek, "Thank you, Roman."
His arms tightened around her. His heart expanded with a glimpse of hope. Then he recalled his suggestion to her at the dental clinic. Bloody hell! This was his doing. She was merely following orders. He wrenched himself out of her embrace.
She gasped, clearly surprised. Then her face seemed to crumble, but only for a second before it settled into a stony, shuttered look. She stepped back. Damn, she must think he had rejected her. And she was trying hard to mask the pain. She really did care about him, and he was fumbling about like an idiot, frightening her during the day, and now hurting her feelings. He had so damned little experience with mortal females.
The microwave dinged once more. He strode toward the machine and yanked the plug from the socket. There, it would stop tempting him with warm blood. Unfortunately, Shanna presented a temptation much harder to resist. She was fresh.
"I'd better be going now." She retreated to the office door. "I.. I'm happy you're alive, and that your tooth is fine. And I appreciate your protection and all the nice.. gifts, which I really can't keep."
She reached for the doorknob. "You're a busy man, so I'll stay out of your way. In fact, I'll be leaving - "
"Shanna, wait." He moved toward her. "I need to explain."
She refused to look at him. "There's no need."
"Yes, there is. Last night, while you were.. hypnotized, I planted an idea in your mind. I shouldn't have done it, but I made the suggestion that you would throw your arms around me and give me a passionate kiss. And when you did, just now, I realized what I - "
"Wait a minute." She gave him an incredulous look. "You think I was programmed to kiss you?"
"Yes. It was wrong of me, but - "
"That's crazy! First of all, I am not under your control. Sheesh, I'm barely under my own."
"Perhaps, but - "
"And secondly, I bet I'm a lot harder to control than you think."
He kept his mouth shut. She was correct, but he didn't want to confirm it.
"And finally, that was not a passionate kiss. It was a dinky peck on the cheek. A man your age should know the difference."
He raised his brows. "Should I?" He could hardly explain he'd spent most of his mortal years in a monastery.
"Of course. There's a huge difference between a peck on the cheek and a passionate kiss."
"And you are angry with me for failing to discriminate between the two?"
"I'm not angry! Well, maybe a little." She glared at him. "You pulled away from me like I was some kind of leper."
He stepped toward her. "It won't happen again."
She snorted softly. "You can say that again."
He shrugged one shoulder. "I'm a scientist, Shanna. I can hardly make a comparative analysis of the different types of kisses if I cannot acquire the necessary data."
Her eyes narrowed. "I know what you're up to. You're trying to weasel a free sample out of me."
"You mean they're not normally free?" He smiled. "How much will a passionate kiss cost me?"
"I give them freely when I'm in the mood, which I am not." She glowered at him. "It'll be a cold day in hell before I feel like giving you a passionate kiss."
Ouch. He figured that was payback for hurting her feelings earlier. "I actually thought the little peck was very exciting."
"Oh, please. I'm talking real passion here. Hot, sweaty, jungle-fever type stuff. Believe me, if for some strange reason, hell freezes over, and I decide to give you a passionate kiss" - she leaned against the door and crossed her arms - "believe me, you would have no problem recognizing the difference."
"As a scientist, I can't deal with beliefs." He moved closer. "I need proof."
"You won't be getting it from me."
He stopped in front of her. "Maybe you can't deliver."
"Ha! Maybe you can't handle it."
He rested a palm against the door, close to her head. "Is that a challenge?"
"It's a concern. Given the questionable condition of your health, I'm not sure your heart could take it."
"I survived the last kiss."
"That was nothing! A real passionate kiss would have to be on the mouth."
"Are you sure? That definition seems a bit narrow." He planted a palm on the other side of her head, trapping her between his arms. Slowly, he looked her over. "I can think of some other areas I would love to kiss with passion."
Her face turned pink. "Well, I should be going now. I was worried about you being dead and all, but you certainly seem to be - "
"Up?" He leaned toward her. "I certainly am."
She turned, fumbling for the doorknob. "I'll let you finish dressing."
"I am sorry, Shanna. I didn't mean to frighten or hurt you."
She looked at him. Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. "Oh, Roman, you silly man. I thought I had lost you."
Silly? In his total of five hundred and forty-four years, he'd never been called that. "I'll always be here."
She jumped at him, wrapping her arms around his neck. Surprised by the sudden force of her attack, Roman stumbled back a step. The room reeled for a few seconds. He widened his stance to keep from tipping over. Maybe it was hunger that was causing this dizziness. Maybe it was the shock of receiving affection. After all, he was a monster. When was the last time anyone had wanted to hug him?
He closed his eyes and breathed in the scent of her shampoo, her soap, her arteries pumping with blood. Hunger pounded inside him. He kissed the top of her head and then her smooth brow. Blood pulsed at her temples, drawing him there. He kissed her, breathing in the rich aroma. She tilted her face up to look at him, but afraid that his eyes would be glowing, he dove for her neck. He nibbled up to her ear, then nipped at the earlobe.
She moaned, sliding her hands into his hair. "I was afraid I'd never get to kiss you."
"I've wanted to since I first met you." He brushed his lips across her jaw, headed toward her mouth.
Their lips met briefly, then separated. Her breath was warm against his face. Her eyes were closed. Good. He could stop worrying about his own eyes.
He brought his hands up to cradle her face. She looked so innocent and trusting. God's blood, she had no idea what he was capable of. He only hoped he was capable of resisting. Gently, he kissed her. She tightened her grip on his head, pulling him closer. He sucked her bottom lip into his mouth and flicked it with the tip of his tongue. Her body shuddered. Her mouth opened, begging for him.
He invaded. Explored. She matched each move, stroking his tongue with her own. She was so alive, so hot that all his senses burned. He could see her clinging to him, growing more feverish. He could hear her blood pounding. Feel her nerves quivering, the heat simmering. Smell her juices flowing.
That left only taste.
He wrapped his arms around her. With one hand against her back, he flattened her chest against his. She was breathing quickly, her br**sts moving against his skin. His other hand slid down, down and around her rump. God's blood, she was heaven. Firm and round. And she hadn't been kidding about her ability to show passion.
She pressed against his erection. Good God, she was rocking against him. Squirming. Reveling in the glory of being alive and her overriding instinct to create more life.
So sad. His overriding instinct was to destroy life.
He went for her neck. The left fang sprang forth. The right one started to, but jammed against the wire splint. Ouch! He pulled away, clamping his lips together. It hurt like hell, but at least the pain had knocked some sense into him.
He couldn't bite Shanna. God's blood, he had sworn never to bite a mortal again. He released her and backed away.
"What's wrong?" she sounded breathless.
He slapped a hand over his mouth. He couldn't even answer her with one of his fangs extended.
"Oh my gosh. Is it the splint? Or your tooth? Did we knock it loose?" She rushed toward him. "Let me see."