Raw pain stabbed at Ivan's neck. "Do you want to spend the rest of your existence without eyeballs?" he growled.
Alek jerked to attention. "No, sir."
"Then get the ladies in the car and start the damned engine." Ivan gritted his teeth and snapped his neck.
A blur in the dark raced toward them. Vladimir. The vampire stopped beside him.
"Did you find their storage facilities?"
"Da." Vladimir nodded. 'The explosives are ready."
"Good. Let's go." Ivan spotted Highlanders racing toward them. This was it. He reached for the cuff link on his right sleeve. He had suspected the Highlanders would empty his pockets, so he'd hidden the detonator to the C-4 in his cuff link. One punch of the button and Draganesti's precious stockpile of synthetic blood would be gone.
Shanna was speechless. Vampire sex? She wasn't sure such a bizarre phenomenon even existed. Well, there was certainly one way to find out. Should she even consider it?
Well, she couldn't get pregnant from it. And since he wouldn't even be in the same room with her, it had to be perfectly safe. No bites, no holding, no unnecessary roughness. No little vampire babies flying around the nursery.
She groaned. Was she seriously considering this? She'd have to let Roman into her mind. Who knew what awful things he could do to her? What deliciously wicked sensations he could - oops. That line of defense wasn't working.
He had taken a seat at the kitchen table and was watching her with his gold-tinted eyes, looking infuriatingly amused by the whole situation. As if he knew she would say yes. The rascal. Wasn't it enough for him to confess to being a vampire? But no, he had to propose vampire sex in the same evening. Extremely satisfying vampire sex.
Her skin pebbled with goose bumps. He was so intelligent. And he wanted to concentrate all that mental power on the one task of pleasuring her? Good God. She was tempted.
She glanced at his eyes and immediately felt his psychic power encircling her head like a cool breeze. Her heart pounded. Her knees turned to rubber. A loud blast deafened her ears. The floor shook beneath her feet. She grabbed at the wall to steady herself. My God, did he do that to her?
Roman jumped to his feet and dashed to the phone. The room trembled again, and Shanna stumbled toward the easy chair.
"Ian! What the hell is going on?" Roman yelled into the phone. He paused to listen. "Where was the explosion? Was anyone hurt?"
Explosion? Shanna sank into the chair. Oh jeez. She should have known when the Earth moved, it wasn't related to sex. They were under attack.
"Did they catch him?" Roman cursed softly.
"What's going on?" Shanna asked.
"Petrovsky got away," Roman grumbled. "It's all right, Ian. We know where he lives. We can retaliate whenever we wish."
Shanna gulped. It looked like a vampire war had started.
"Ian," Roman spoke into the phone. "I want you and Connor to take Shanna back to the house. And Laszlo and Radinka, too." He hung up. "I have to go. Connor will be here soon."
"Where was the explosion?" She followed him to the door.
He picked up his cape and used it as insulation to turn the locks. "Petrovsky blew up a storeroom of synthetic blood."
"It could have been worse." He slid back the bar. "The storeroom was far enough away from the ballroom that no one was hurt. But it'll put a dent in our supply."
"Why destroy synthetic blood? Oh." Shanna winced as the answer dawned on her. "He wants to force vampires into biting people again."
"Don't worry." Roman touched her shoulder. "What Petrovsky doesn't know is that I have other plants in Illinois, Texas, and California. We can make up for the shortage on the East Coast if we have to. He hasn't hurt me nearly as bad as he may think."
Shanna smiled with relief. "You're too smart for him."
"I'm sorry I have to go, but I need to check the damage."
"I understand." She pulled open the silver door so he could leave.
He grazed his knuckles down her cheek. "I can be with you later tonight. Will you wait for me?"
"Yes. Be careful." She wanted to hear more about the upcoming war. Roman zoomed down the hall at lightning speed.
As Shanna shut the door, she realized her mistake. He meant he would come to her tonight for vampire sex. And without realizing it, she had agreed.
Thirty minutes later, Shanna was riding in the back of a limousine with Radinka and Laszlo. In the front seat, Connor sat next to Ian, who was driving. Shanna realized now that Ian was much, much older than fifteen. She eyed her companions, trying to figure out if they were all vampires. Ian and Connor definitely were, and they slept in those coffins in the basement. Laszlo was such a sweet, little, cherub-faced man. It was hard to think of him as a demon, though she supposed he was.
Now, Radinka was harder to figure. "You.. you went shopping for me during the daytime, didn't you?"
"Yes, dear." Radinka poured herself a drink from the small wet bar. "I'm mortal, in case you were wondering."
"But Gregori - "
" - is a vampire, yes." Radinka tilted her head to look at Shanna. "Would you like to hear how it happened?"
"Well, it's none of my business."
"Nonsense. It involves Roman, so you should know." Radinka sipped her Scotch and gazed out the tinted window. "Fifteen years ago, my husband, God rest his soul, died of cancer and left us with some horrendous medical bills. Gregori had to leave Yale and come home. He transferred to NYU and got a part-time job. I needed a job, too, but I was inexperienced. Luckily, I found a job at Romatech. The hours were atrocious, of course."
"The night shift?" Shanna asked.
"Yes. After a few months, I adjusted and found I was very capable. And I was never intimidated by Roman. I think he likes that. Eventually I became his personal assistant, and that was when I began to notice things. Especially in Roman's lab. Half-empty bottles of blood, still warm." Radinka smiled. "He's like an absent-minded professor when he's hard at work. He would forget to give himself time to drive home before sunrise. So he'd have to teleport home at the last minute. One second he would be in his lab, and the next, he was gone."
"You knew something was weird."
"Yes. I'm from Eastern Europe originally, and we grow up with tales of vampires. It wasn't difficult to figure it out."
"Didn't it bother you? You didn't want to quit?"
"No." Radinka waved a hand elegantly in the air. "Roman was always very good to me. Then one night, twelve years ago, Gregori came to pick me up from work. We only had one car. He was in the parking lot, waiting for me, when he was attacked."
Connor twisted in his seat. "Was it Petrovsky?"
"I never saw the attacker. He was gone by the time I found my poor son, dying in the parking lot." Radinka shuddered. "But Gregori says it was Petrovksy, and I'm sure he's right. How could you forget the face of the monster who tries to kill you?"
Connor nodded. "We'll get him."
"Why would he attack Gregori?" Shanna asked.
Laszlo fiddled with a button on his tuxedo jacket. "Most likely, he thought Gregori was a mortal employee at Romatech. He made an easy target."
"Yes." Radinka gulped down some Scotch. "My poor Gregori. He'd lost so much blood. I knew he would never survive a trip to the hospital. I asked Roman to save him, but he refused."
A chill crept over Shanna's skin. "You asked Roman to turn your son into a vampire?"
"It was the only way to save him. Roman insisted he would be condemning the boy's soul to hell, but I wouldn't listen to him. I know Roman is good." Radinka gestured to all the vampires in the car. "These were all good, honorable men before death. Why would death change them? I refuse to believe they're condemned to hell. And I refused to give up on my son and let him die!"
Radinka's hand shook as she set her glass down. "I begged him. I got down on my knees and begged him till he couldn't stand it anymore. He took my son in his arms and transformed him." She wiped a tear from her cheek.
With a shiver, Shanna hugged herself. Radinka believed there was good in Roman, too. Why couldn't he see it in himself? Why was he torturing himself for hundreds of years? "How - how does someone get transformed?"