"Vampire sex. It's an impersonal experience. Each participant is alone in his or her bed."
Participant? Like a team of soccer players, working one ball down the field? "Are you saying you do it with all ten at the same time?"
He shrugged. "It's the most time efficient method of keeping them all satisfied."
"Oh my God." Shanna slapped a hand across her forehead. "Assembly line sex? You'd make Henry Ford proud."
"You may joke, but think about it." He pinned her with an intense gaze. "All sensations of touch and pleasure are registered in your mind. Your brain controls your breathing, your heart rate. It's the most erotic part of your body."
She felt a sudden urge to press her thighs together. "So?"
The corner of his mouth lifted. His eyes gleamed hotter, like molten gold. "It can be extremely satisfying."
Damn him. She locked her knees together. "You've never actually touched any of them?"
"I don't even know what they look like."
She stared at him, then shook her head. "I'm finding this hard to believe."
"Are you calling me a liar?"
"Well, not intentionally. It just seems too weird."
His eyes narrowed. "You do not believe such a thing exists?"
"I'm having a hard time believing you can satisfy ten women without laying a hand on them."
"Then I will prove to you that vampire sex is real."
"Yeah, right. How do you propose to do that?"
He smiled slowly. "By having it with you."
In his corner of the ballroom, Ivan Petrovsky was still biding his time with Angus MacKay and his moronic Highlanders. The French fop Jean-Luc Echarpe was approaching with yet another Scotsman.
MacKay greeted them. "Did ye find them, Connor?"
"Aye," he replied. "We checked the surveillance cameras. They were exactly where ye thought they'd be."
"Are you talking about Shanna Whelan?" Ivan asked. "I saw Draganesti take off with her, you know. Is that his modern Vamp way of doing things? When in danger, run and hide?"
With a growl, Connor stepped toward him. "Let me snap his scrawny neck once and for all."
"Non." Jean-Luc Echarpe blocked the Scotsman with his walking stick. The Frenchman stared at Ivan, his eyes an icy blue. "When the time comes, I want him."
Ivan snorted. "What are you going to do to me, Echarpe? Give me a fashion makeover?"
The Frenchman smiled. "I guarantee no one will recognize you afterward."
"And the chemist?" Angus asked Connor. "Is he safe?"
"Aye. Ian is with him."
"If you're talking about Laszlo Veszto, I have news for you," Ivan said. "The man's days are numbered."
MacKay's bland look said he was unimpressed. He turned to the Highlander with Ivan's watch. "Well?"
The Scotsman shrugged. "It looks like a normal watch, sir. But we canna be sure unless we open it."
"I understand." MacKay took the watch, dropped it on the floor, and stomped his foot on it.
"Hey!" Ivan jumped to his feet.
MacKay picked up the broken watch and examined the crushed innards. "Looks fine to me. A good watch." He handed it back to Ivan with a twinkle in his eye.
"Bastard." Ivan tossed his ruined watch on the floor.
"Wait a minute." Connor stepped back and looked at the Russians. "Ye have four of them."
"Right," MacKay said. "Ye said there were four at the house in New Rochelle."
"Aye, there were," Connor replied. "But there was a driver, too. Where the hell is he?"
"Bugger," MacKay muttered. "Connor, take a dozen men and scour the premises. Call the guards outside and have them search the grounds."
"Aye, sir." Connor motioned for twelve men to follow him. After a few quick words, they divided up and zoomed off at vampire speed.
The gap in the line of Highlanders was quickly taken up by Corky Courrant and her crew from DVN. "About time you let us get a good shot," she snarled. She turned to the camera with a bright smile. "This is Corky Courrant, reporting for Live with the Undead. There's been one exciting event after another at the Gala Opening Ball. Here you can see that a regiment of Highlanders has taken the Russian-American vampires prisoner. Can you tell me why, Mr. MacKay?" She jammed her microphone under Angus MacKay's nose.
He scowled at her in silence.
Her smile stretched wider and froze. "Surely you don't take prisoners without just cause?" She jabbed the microphone at him once again.
"Go away, lassie," he spoke softly. "This is none of yer business."
"I want to talk." Ivan waved toward the cameraman. "I was invited here, and look how they're treating me."
"We havena harmed you." MacKay drew a pistol and pointed it at Ivan. "Yet. Where is the fifth person of yer group? What is he up to?"
"Still trying to park the car. You know, for a party this big, you really should have valet service."
MacKay arched a brow. "Perhaps I should warn ye these bullets are silver."
"Will you try to kill me in front of so many witnesses?" Ivan sneered. He couldn't have wished for a better situation than this. He not only had the attention of all the guests at the Gala Opening Ball, but everyone watching DVN would also hear his message. He levitated onto his chair and waited for the music to end.
Echarpe slid a sword out of his walking stick. "No one wants to listen to you."
"Will the Gala Opening Ball end in bloodshed?" Corky Courrant whispered in a loud voice. "Don't touch your remote!"
Ivan made a small mocking bow as the music ended. Unfortunately, the bow left his neck misaligned, so he had to pop it back into position.
Corky Courrant faced her camera with a beaming smile.
"Ivan Petrovsky, Russian-American coven master, is about to make a speech. Let's hear what he has to say."
"It has been eighteen years since I attended one of these balls," Ivan began. "Eighteen years that I have been forced to witness the tragic decay of our superior way of life. Our old traditions are laid to waste. Our proud heritage ridiculed. A new politically correct philosophy of the modern-day Vamp has insinuated itself into our midst like a plague."
A murmur began in the crowd. Some didn't like his message, but Ivan suspected there were others who longed to hear him.
"How many of you have grown fat and complacent on this ridiculous Fusion Cuisine? How many of you have forgotten the thrill of the hunt, the ecstasy of the bite? I tell you tonight that this false blood is an abomination!"
"Enough." Angus raised his pistol. "Come down from there."
"Why?" Ivan yelled. "Are you afraid of the truth? The True Ones are not."
Echarpe lifted his sword. "The True Ones are cowards who hide in secret."
"Not anymore!" Ivan looked straight into the camera from DVN. "I am the leader of the True Ones, and tonight we shall have our revenge!"
"Take them!" Angus lunged forward, followed by his men.
Ivan and his followers leaped high into the air, then vanished as they teleported from the building. They landed outside in the garden.
"Hurry!" Ivan yelled. "To the car."
They zipped across the lawn to the parking lot. The car was empty. Vladimir was nowhere in sight.
"Crap," Ivan muttered. "He should have finished by now." He pivoted, scanning their surroundings. "What the hell happened to you?" He stared at Katya.
She glanced down and laughed. "I thought the night air was bit chilly." Her skirt was gone, leaving her naked from the waist down. "When we jumped into the air, the Frenchman tried to grab me. I guess he got a hold of my skirt, and it came off."
"Jean-Luc Echarpe?" Galina asked. "He's so cute. And so are the Scotsmen. Do you think they're naked under those kilts?"
"Enough!" Ivan took off his jacket and tossed it at Katya. "Need I remind you two bitches that you belong to me? Now get in the car."
Katya lifted a brow and instead of wrapping the jacket around her hips as he had intended, she put the jacket on. Her private parts were still on display. Alek gawked at her, his mouth hanging open.