"It was not! They knew we were making love. And they kept banging on the door wanting in."
He groaned inwardly. Those damned women. "I gather you've been talking to the other women again."
"Your other women. Your harem." Her eyes narrowed with seething anger. "Do you know they invited me to join them?"
"And do you know why? They want me in the harem so they can join us next time in bed! Like one giant psychic love fest. Ooh, talk about your multiple orgasms. I can't wait!"
"You're being sarcastic, right?"
"Aaargh!" She raised clenched fists in the air.
He gritted his teeth. "Look, Shanna, I expended a huge amount of energy to keep what happened between us private." And all that spent energy had left him starving.
"It wasn't private! Even the Highlanders knew what we were doing. You knew that everyone knew, but you still made love to me."
He stepped toward her, his anger spiking. "No one heard what happened between us. It was private. Only I heard you moan and cry out. Only I felt your body shuddering when - "
"Stop it. I shouldn't have done it. Not when you have a harem wanting to join us."
Roman balled his fists, fighting for control, but it was damned hard when he was starving. "There is nothing I can do about them. They wouldn't know how to survive on their own."
"You're kidding me! How many centuries old do they need to be before they can grow up?"
"They were raised in times when women weren't taught any job skills. They're helpless, and I'm responsible for them."
"Do you really want them?"
"No! I inherited them when I became coven master in 1950.I can't even remember all their names. I've spent all my time building Romatech and working in my lab."
"Well, if you don't want them, pass them on to someone else. There must be plenty of lonely vampire men around just dying for a good, dead woman to keep them company."
Roman's anger started to sizzle again. "I happen to be one of those dead people, too."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "You and I are.. different. I don't think this is going to work out."
"I thought we did very well last night." God's blood, she wasn't going to leave him. He wouldn't let her. And they were alike. She understood him like no one else.
"I can't - I won't make love to you again when there's a bunch of women trying to join us. I won't stand for it."
Anger sliced into him fresh and raw. "You can't convince me you didn't enjoy it. I know you did. I was in your head."
"That was last night. Now all I can feel is embarrassment."
Roman swallowed hard. "Are you ashamed of what you did? Are you ashamed of me?"
"No! I'm angry that those women have a claim to you, that they think they have every right to join us in the bedroom."
"I won't let them! They don't matter, Shanna. I'll block them out."
"You shouldn't have to block them out, because they shouldn't be here at all! Don't you get it? I refuse to share you with them. They have to go!"
Roman's breath caught in his throat. God's blood, that was the real problem. Not that she was ashamed or didn't care. She did care. She did want him. She wanted him all to herself.
She stepped back, her eyes wide. "I.. I shouldn't have said that."
"But it's true."
"No." She backed toward his desk. "I.. I don't have any claim to you. And I shouldn't expect you to totally change your lifestyle for me. I mean, this relationship probably can't work anyway."
"Yes, it can." He strode toward her. "You want me. You want all my love, all my passion just for you."
She retreated another step and bumped into the velvet chaise. "I should be going."
"You don't want to share me, do you, Shanna? You want me all to yourself."
Her eyes flashed. "Well, I don't always get what I want, do I?"
He grabbed her by the shoulders. "This time, you will."
He lifted her and set her bottom on the high curved end of the red velvet chaise.
"What - ?"
He gave her a little push, and she fell back.
"What are you doing?" She struggled to sit up and managed to prop herself on her elbows. Her hips were still elevated on the higher end of the chaise.
He pulled off her white Nikes and dropped them on the floor. "Just you and me, Shanna. No one will know what we're doing."
"But - "
"Complete privacy." He unzipped her pants and dragged them down her legs. "Just like you wanted."
"Wait a minute! This is different. This is.. real."
"You're damned right it is. And I'm ready for it." He noted her red lace panties. God's blood. Real sex.
"We have to think about this."
"Think fast." He took a hold of the red lace. '"Cause these are coming off."
She looked at him, her eyes wide, her chest heaving with quick breaths. "You - your eyes are red. They're glowing."
"It means I'm ready to make love."
She gulped. Her gaze drifted down to his bare chest. "It would be an important step forward."
"I know." He rubbed the pad of his thumb over the lace. Actual, physical sex with a mortal. "If you tell me to stop, I will. I've never wanted to hurt you, Shanna."
She collapsed back. "Oh God." She covered her face.
"Well? Shall we make it real?"
She lowered her hands and looked him in the face. A light shiver ran down her body. She whispered, "Lock the door."
A storm of strong emotions surged through Roman - excitement, desire, and most of all, relief. She hadn't given up on him. In a swoosh, he zoomed to the door, locked it, and returned to her.
As he came to a standstill, black dots circled his head. Using vampire speed had drained too much of his energy, and he needed what little energy he had left for Shanna. He lifted a foot and peeled off her sock. One foot at a time now. This was real, so he was confined to only two hands. No mind tricks.
Her feet were a little different from what he had imagined. Longer and slimmer. Her second toe was as long as her big toe. These little details hadn't entered his imagination last night, but now, now they seemed paramount. This was the real Shanna, not an erotic dream. And no dream could ever compare to her in real life.
He clasped an ankle and lifted her leg. It was long and beautifully shaped. He ran an appreciative hand over her calf. Her skin was as soft as he had imagined, but once again, there were details he hadn't expected. A few freckles above her knee, and on the inside of her thigh, a small, flat mole.
It drew him like a magnet. He pressed his lips against it. The warmth of Shanna's skin surprised him. This was new. Different. Vampires didn't generate much heat, so during all his years of vampire sex, he had never imagined body heat. Or smell. Her skin smelled of clean, fresh woman and.. life. Life-giving blood. A large vein throbbed just under her skin. Type A Positive. He rubbed his nose against her inner thigh, enjoying the rich, metallic scent.
Stop! He turned his head to rest his cheek against her thigh. He had to stop before instinct took over and his fangs sprang out. In fact, just to be safe, he should drink a quick bottle of blood before continuing.
But then his nostrils flared with another scent. Not blood, but equally intoxicating. It was coming from beneath her panties. Arousal. God's blood, it was sweet. He could have never imagined such a potent fragrance. His groin swelled, straining against his cotton boxers. Her scent lured him in until his nose was pressed against the lace.
Shanna gasped. Her body shuddered.
Roman straightened, standing between her legs. He grasped the top edge of her underwear and drew the fabric down a few inches. His knuckles were nestled in a mass of curly hair.
He stared. God's blood, he should have known. After all, she came in color. His gaze met hers. "You're a redhead?"
"I.. guess." She licked her lips. "Some call it strawberry blond."
"Reddish gold." He rubbed his knuckles against the springy hair. The texture was different - coarse, curly, exciting. He smiled at her. "I should have realized. You have the temper of a redhead."
She gave him a wry look. "I had every right to be furious."
He shrugged. "Vampire sex is overrated. This.." He glanced down at his fingers entwined in her curls. "This is much better." He slipped a finger into the moist cleft.