The harem girls all gave her glowing smiles.
What the hell were they up to? Shanna didn't trust their newfound friendliness one bit.
Vanda came forward with an apologetic smile. "I'm so sorry I was rude to you." She touched a lock of Shanna's hair. "This color suits you."
"Thank you." Shanna took a step back.
"Don't go." Maggie grabbed her arm. "Come in and join us."
"Yes," Vanda agreed. "We'd like to welcome you to the harem."
Shanna gasped. "Excuse me? I'm not joining your harem."
"But you and Roman - you are lovers now, non?" Simone curled up in the corner of the couch.
"I - I really don't think it's any of your business." How on earth did they know what had happened?
"Don't be so touchy," Vanda said. "We all like Roman."
"Oh." Simone sipped from a wineglass. "I have come all ze way from Paris to be wiz him."
Anger sizzled in Shanna. Anger at Roman and these ladies, but mostly anger at herself. She shouldn't have gotten so involved with him while he still had all these women on the side. "What happens between Roman and myself is private."
Maggie shook her head. "It's very hard to be private amongst vampires. I overheard Roman when he asked to make love to you."
"What?" Shanna's heart lurched toward her throat.
"Maggie's very good at picking up thoughts," Vanda explained. "When she heard Roman, she alerted the rest of us, and we all asked Roman to let us join in on the fun."
"What? " Sparks of fire shot off in Shanna's head.
"Relax." Darcy gave her a worried look. "He didn't let them in."
"He was so h-rude!" Simone huffed.
"It was awful." Maggie crossed her arms, frowning. "We've waited so long for Roman to take an interest in sex again. And then, when he finally does, he wouldn't let us play."
"It was terrible." Vanda sighed. "We're his harem. We have a right to share vampire sex with him, but he blocked us out."
Shanna stared at them, agape, with her heart pounding in her chest.
"I do declare," the Southern belle said, "I have never felt so rejected in all my life."
"You - " Shanna struggled to breathe. "All of you tried to join us?"
Vanda shrugged. "Once someone initiates vampire sex, anyone can join in."
"That's how it's supposed to be," Maggie agreed. "We asked twice to participate, but Roman kept blocking us out."
"He even fussed at us." Simone pouted on the couch.
"There was so much arguing and mental shouting going on," Maggie continued, "that even the Highlanders got into the fight and told us to leave Roman alone."
Shanna groaned inwardly. No wonder the Scotsmen had been smiling at her. Did everyone in the house know what she and Roman had been doing? Her face heated up.
"You will have sex again tonight, non?" Simone asked.
"That's why we want you to join the harem," Maggie said with a friendly smile.
"Yes." Vanda smiled, too. "Then, Roman can make love to all of us."
"No, no." Shanna shook her head and backed away. "Never!" She ran before the harem could see any tears on her face. Damn! Now she knew why Roman had disappeared twice last night. He'd put her on hold in order to answer the deluge of mental calls from his harem. The whole time he'd been making psychic love to her, he'd been forced to expend mental energy to block the harem out. It was like they were making love with a bunch of peeping Toms trying to see in the window.
She ran up the stairs to the first floor. Shock turned to horror, then to raw pain. How could she have gotten herself into such a horrid mess?
By the time she reached the second floor, tears were streaming down her face. How could she have been so stupid? She should have never let Roman into her head. Or into her bed. And certainly not into her heart. When she reached the third floor, the pain morphed into anger. That damned harem! And damned Roman. How dare he keep a harem while claiming to care about her? On the fourth floor, she headed to her room, then stopped. The anger was burning at full blaze, too hot to be controlled. She stormed up to the fifth floor.
The guard there gave her a knowing smile.
She wanted to slap that smile off his face. She gritted her teeth. "I'd like to see Roman."
"Aye, lass." The Highlander opened Roman's office door.
She strode inside and shut the door. Roman might have survived the Great Vampire War of 1710, but he was about to face an even worse terror.
A mortal female in full rage.
Roman lay in bed thinking, and foremost in his thoughts was Shanna. Last night had been wonderful, but at the same time aggravating. He'd had to expend too much energy blocking out those women downstairs. God's blood, he hated being stuck with them. He didn't even know all their names. He'd never spent any real time with them. During vampire sex, he'd simply imagined making love to a woman's body. It might have felt good to the harem ladies, but the body he imagined might as well have belonged to VANNA. It wasn't real. It wasn't any of them.
It wasn't even Shanna. That, too, had annoyed him. He had imagined Shanna in his mind, but he knew it wasn't really her. He didn't know what she looked like naked, and now his imagination wasn't enough. He wanted the real thing. And he believed she did, too. Last night she had complained about not being able to touch him or hold him.
He had to complete that formula he was working on. If he could stay awake during the day, he could protect Shanna around the clock. He could also be alone with her at a time when other vampires couldn't interfere. And if he could convince Shanna to live with him, then his ability to be awake during the day would allow her to maintain a more normal lifestyle.
He jumped out of bed and took a hot shower. He wanted to see her tonight, but he also needed to go to Romatech. The rest of the week would be filled with the conference. He, Angus, and Jean-Luc needed a plan of action for dealing with the Malcontents, particularly now that they knew Petrovsky was their leader. And getting rid of Petrovsky would not only make the world safer for law-abiding, modern Vamps, but safer for Shanna.
Roman smiled to himself. Even with a vampire war imminent, he couldn't keep his mind off her. She was so different. So raw and honest with her emotions. While in her mind, he'd tried to detect her feelings for him. She was adjusting fairly well to the reality of his being a vampire, mostly because she had such a kind, compassionate heart. When he called her sweetness, he meant it. She had a true, sweet nature that he loved.
He chuckled as he toweled himself dry. She could also be fearless and feisty when upset. He loved that about her, too. He hoped with all his heart that she could fall in love with him. That would be perfect, since he was already in love with her.
He'd realized it the moment he saw her at the ball, hot pink in a sea of black and white. She was life, she was color, she was his true love. Somehow, he sensed that if she could love him and accept him, even with his soul blackened with sin, then all was not lost. If there was something remotely lovable about him, he could hope for forgiveness. He'd wanted to tell her last night that he loved her, but had refrained. He needed to be with her in person to make such a confession.
He leaned over to tug on some boxer shorts. Black dots circled his head. Damn, he was hungry. He should have eaten before showering, but thoughts about Shanna had distracted him. Wearing only his underwear, he padded into his office and retrieved a bottle of blood from the mini-fridge. God's blood, he was starving so much, he was ready to drink it cold.
He heard the office door shut and glanced back. Shanna. Smiling, he unscrewed the top from his bottle. "Good evening."
He glanced back again. She was stalking toward him, her cheeks glistening with tears, her eyes swollen, red, and.. furious. "What's wrong, darling?"
"Everything!" She was breathing heavily, and rage was practically seething from her pores. "I'm not putting up with this anymore."
"Okay." He put the bottle down. "It appears I did something wrong, though I'm not sure what."
"Everything is wrong! It's wrong for you to have a harem. It's sick that you left me in bed on hold while you talked to them. And it's really disgusting that they wanted to join us in some kind of mental orgy!"
He winced. "I wouldn't have allowed that. What we had together was totally private."