Radinka frowned, considering. "I think what any woman really wants is to be loved."
"She has that. I just told her that I love her."
"Wonderful!" Radinka's smile faded once again. "You don't look very happy."
"That could be because she ran from my room, crying."
"Oh dear. I'm not usually wrong about these things."
Roman sighed. He'd often wondered if Radinka was truly a psychic, why the hell didn't she foresee the attack on her son? Unless she'd also foreseen that Gregori would become a vampire.
Radinka tapped her pen on the legal pad. "I am certain she is the one for you."
"I'm convinced of that, too. I know she cares for me very deeply, or she wouldn't have - "
Radinka raised her eyebrows, waiting for him to finish the sentence.
He shifted his weight. "If you could look for a house, I'd appreciate it. I'm late for a meeting."
Radinka's mouth twitched once again. "She'll come around. It'll work out just fine." She swiveled her chair to face her computer. "I'll start house hunting right away."
"Thank you." He headed out the door.
"And you'll need to fire your harem!" Radinka called after him.
Roman winced. They were a big problem. He'd have to give them financial support until they could make it on their own.
He strode into his office. "Good evening, Angus, Jean-Luc."
Angus jumped to his feet. He was back to wearing his usual green and blue MacKay tartan. "Ye took yer time getting here, man. We have to deal with these bloody Malcontents right away."
Jean-Luc remained seated, but raised a hand in greeting. "Bonsoir, mon ami."
"Have you decided anything?" Roman skirted his desk and sat.
"The time for discussion is over." Angus paced across the room. "With the explosion last night, the Malcontents have declared war. My Highlanders are ready to strike. I say we do it tonight."
"I disagree," Jean-Luc cut in. "Petrovsky is, no doubt, prepared for such a retaliation. We would be attacking his house in Brooklyn, leaving us in the open while they can take cover. Why should we give those bastards the advantage?"
"My men are no' afraid," Angus growled.
"Neither am I." Jean-Luc's blue eyes flashed. "This is not about fear. It's about being practical. If you and your Highlanders weren't always so hotheaded, you wouldn't have lost so many battles in the past."
"I am not hotheaded!" Angus thundered.
Roman held up his hands. "Can we take this down a notch? The explosion last night didn't hurt anyone. And though I agree that Petrovsky must be dealt with, I am reluctant to engage in an all-out war in front of mortal witnesses."
"Exactement." Jean-Luc shifted in his chair. "I say we watch Petrovsky and his men, and when we find one or two of them alone, then we kill them."
Angus snorted. " 'Tis no' an honorable way for a warrior to behave."
Jean-Luc stood slowly. "If you're insinuating that I have no honor, I'll have to challenge you to a duel."
Roman groaned. Five hundred years of listening to these two argue was enough to strain the best of friendships. "Can we kill Petrovsky first, before you two kill each other?"
Angus and Jean-Luc laughed.
"Since we are in disagreement, as usual," Jean-Luc said as he sat back down, "you will cast the deciding vote."
Roman nodded. "I'm with Jean-Luc on this one. A full attack on a house in Brooklyn is going to draw too much attention. And it puts too many of the Highlanders at risk."
"We doona mind," Angus grumbled as he returned to his chair.
"I mind," Roman said. "I've known you all for a long time."
"We are also limited in number," Jean-Luc added. "I haven't transformed a vampire since the French Revolution. And you?"
"Not since Culloden," Angus answered. "But vampires like Petrovsky are still transforming men with evil hearts."
"And thus, making more evil vampires." Jean-Luc sighed. "For once, mon ami, we are en accord. Their numbers are growing while ours are not."
Angus nodded. "We need to make more vampires."
"Absolutely not!" Roman was alarmed by the turn of the conversation. "I will not condemn more souls to hell."
"I'll do it." Angus brushed back a strand of auburn hair. "I'm sure there are honorable soldiers dying somewhere in this world who would welcome the chance to continue fighting evil."
Roman leaned forward. "It's not the same as it was three hundred years ago. Modern armies keep up with their soldiers. Even the dead ones. They would notice if some went missing."
"Missing in action." Jean-Luc shrugged. "It happens. I'm with Angus on this one."
Roman rubbed his brow, dismayed at the thought of growing another vampire army. "Can we table this discussion for the time being? Let's take care of Petrovsky first."
Jean-Luc nodded. "Agreed."
"All right." Angus frowned. "Now, we need to talk about the problem with the CIA and their Stake-Out team. There's only five of them, so we shouldna have trouble handling them."
Roman winced. "I don't want them killed."
Angus snorted. "I doona mean that. We all know ye're involved with the leader's daughter."
Jean-Luc smiled. "Especially after last night."
Roman was surprised to feel his face heat up. Shanna's reaction seemed to be wearing off on him.
Angus cleared his throat. "I think the best way to deal with the Stake-Out team is to erase their memories of us.Timing would be important. We must do all five on the same night that we break into Langley to erase all their files."
"A clean sweep." Jean-Luc smiled. "I like it."
"I'm not sure it would work." Roman received surprised glances from his friends. "Shanna can resist mind control."
Angus's green eyes widened. "Ye canna be serious."
"I am. And what's more, I suspect she inherited her psychic abilities from her father. I also suspect the Stake-Out team is small because everyone on it possesses similar abilities."
"Merde," Jean-Luc whispered.
"Since they're working on an anti-vampire program," Roman added, "it would be obvious who would want to kill them."
"And it would give the American government more incentive to hunt us," Jean-Luc concluded.
"They're a bigger threat than I thought." Angus drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair. "I have to think about this."
"Fine. Let's take a break for now." Roman stood and headed for the door. "I'll be in my lab if you need me." He hurried down the corridor, anxious to get some work done on his formula for staying awake during the day. He spotted a Highlander standing outside Laszlo's lab. Good. Laszlo was still getting the protection he needed.
Roman greeted the Scotsman as he entered the lab. Laszlo was sitting on a stool, gazing into a microscope. "Hi, Laszlo."
The small chemist started and nearly fell off the stool.
Roman rushed over and steadied him. "Are you all right?"
"Yes." Laszlo adjusted his lab coat. All the buttons were missing. "I've been a bit nervous lately."
"I hear you're working on a cheap drink for the poor."
"Yes, sir." Laszlo bobbed his head, enthusiastically. "I'll have three formulas ready for the survey tomorrow night. I'm experimenting with different proportions of red blood cells to water. And I may try adding some flavors like lemon or vanilla."
"Vanilla blood? I'd like to taste that myself."
"Thank you, sir."
Roman perched on a neighboring stool. "I'd like to run an idea by you. See what you think."
"Of course. I'd be honored to help, if I can."
"It's theoretical at this point, but I was thinking about sperm. Live sperm."
Laszlo's eyes widened. "Our sperm is dead, sir."
"I know. But what if we took a sample of live human sperm, erased the genetic code, and planted someone else's DNA in it."
Laszlo's mouth fell open. He blinked several times. "Who would want their DNA inserted into live sperm?"
"Oh. Then you.. you want to father children?"
Only with Shanna. "I want to know if it's possible."