"Aye, but we came in a car." Connor folded the newspaper. "Ye can teleport back later with Roman, if ye like."
Shanna made a face at him. Some help he was. "We'd better find Gregori. I hope he's done with all those poor Vamps."
"Did the research study go well?" Radinka drizzled some dressing over her grilled chicken salad.
"I guess. It was sad, seeing people that downtrodden.There was this one bag lady who - " Shanna stopped. She searched her memory. "Oh my gosh. She never came back."
"What?" Connor leaned forward. "Who was this?"
"The old lady who stole a bottle of Chocolood. She left with a guard to go the restroom and never came back."
"Och, this is bad." Connor stood and removed a cell phone from his sporran.
"Perhaps she was ill and went home," Radinka suggested.
Shanna doubted that. "Can vampires even get sick?"
"Yes, if they drink infected blood." Radinka stabbed at her salad with a fork. "And the new Fusion Cuisine doesn't set well with all of them."
Connor punched in a number. "Angus? There may be a member of Gregori's focus group loose in the facility. An elderly woman."
"Maybe she's lost." Radinka took a bite of salad.
Shanna watched Connor pacing about. He seemed worried.
He dropped the phone into his sporran and strode toward them. "Angus has ordered a complete sweep of the building and a lockdown. They'll be starting at the storerooms where the last explosion occurred. Each room will be searched, then sealed, until the whole facility has been checked."
"You expect foul play?" Radinka asked.
"We're not taking any chances." Connor glanced at the clock and winced. "We havena much time before the sun rises."
He was anxious to help with the search, Shanna could tell, but the poor man was stuck babysitting her. "Go on, Connor. I'll be all right with Radinka."
"Nay. I canna leave you, lass."
Radinka stabbed a tomato wedge with her fork. "Connor, take her to Roman's lab. He can watch her while you join the search." Shanna winced. Radinka just never gave up. Unfortunately, Connor was giving her such a hopeful look, she hated to disappoint him. "I guess my ride back home has been canceled?"
"For now, aye."
"Okay." She grabbed her purse. "I'll go."
Radinka smiled. "I'll see you later, dear."
Shanna had to jog to keep up with Connor's long-legged stride. As they rounded the corner to the wing where Roman's lab was located, a loud, beeping alarm went off. "What's that?"
"Red alert." Connor started running. "Something's happened."
He stopped in front of Roman's lab and knocked. He opened the door and waited for Shanna to catch up. Gasping for air, she followed him inside.
Roman was on the phone, but looked up when she came in. His worried expression immediately cleared, and the smile he gave her took away what little air she had left. "She's all right. She's here with Connor." He listened on the phone, but his gaze never left Shanna.
Her heart was pounding, her mouth dry. It was from the running, though. It had nothing to do with the way Roman was looking at her.
She set her purse on a black-topped table. There was some music playing quietly. No instruments, just male voices singing. The soothing sound was in sharp contrast to the insistent beep of the alarm coming from speakers in the hallway. She peered through the open window blinds. She could see the cafeteria across the garden.
"Keep me updated." Roman hung up the receiver.
"What happened?" Connor asked.
"Angus found a guard in a restroom close to where the research study took place. The man was conscious, but paralyzed."
Connor paled. "Petrovsky is behind this."
"What about the bag lady?" Shanna asked.
"They're looking for her," Roman admitted. "We know you're all right, so our main concern now is Laszlo."
Connor paused halfway out the door. "I need to go."
"Go. Shanna will be safe with me." Roman closed the door and locked it. "How are you?"
"I'm okay." She seemed to be developing a healthy tolerance level for dealing with shock. Or maybe she was so past her limit, she was just numb. She looked around the room. She'd been here once before, but it had been too dark to see. A wall of diplomas caught her attention. She wandered over.
Roman had acquired advanced degrees in microbiology, chemistry, and pharmacology. After all this time, he was still a healer. Like Connor had said, death didn't change a man's heart. And Roman's heart was good. She glanced over her shoulder. "I didn't realize you were such a nerd."
He raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"
"You have a lot of degrees."
"I've had a lot of time," he said dryly.
She bit her lip to keep from smiling. "Night school?"
The corner of his mouth lifted. "How did you guess?" A printer across the room started working with a clacking noise. He strode toward a computer screen where a tangle of lists and graphs were filling the screen. The data looked incomprehensible to Shanna, but Roman was following it with great interest.
"This is good," he whispered. He grabbed some finished pages from the printer and studied them. "This is really good."
He dropped the papers on a black-topped table. "This." He picked up a beaker filled with greenish liquid. "I think I did it." A grin spread across his face. "I think I really did it."
He looked so young and happy. As if the cares of several centuries had suddenly lifted from his shoulders.
Shanna couldn't help but smile. This was the way Roman should be. A healer, hard at work in his lab, delighting in his discoveries.
She approached him. "What is it? A new toilet bowl cleanser?"
With a laugh, he set the beaker down. "It's a formula that will enable vampires to stay awake during the day."
Shanna halted in mid-stride. "You're kidding."
"No. I wouldn't kid about something like this. This is.."
"Revolutionary," she whispered. "You could change the world for vampires."
He nodded, a look of wonder crossing his face. "It hasn't been tested, of course, so I can't be sure. But it would be the biggest step forward since the successful manufacture of blood."
And his synthetic blood was saving thousands of lives. She was in the presence of a genius. And he claimed to love her.
He crossed his arms, studying the greenish liquid. "You know, if this formula successfully invigorates a vampire who is clinically dead, it could possibly have applications for certain mortal conditions, like comas or catatonic states."
"Oh my gosh. You're such a genius, Roman."
He winced. "I've had a lot more years to study than most scientists. Or nerds, as you call us." He smiled.
"Hey, nerds rule. Congratulations." She reached out to hug him, then reconsidered and patted his arm before stepping back.
His smile waned. "Are you afraid of me?"
"No. I just think it's better for us not to.."
"Touch? Or make love?" His eyes darkened with a glint of hunger. "You know we have unfinished business between us."
She gulped and moved back. It was not a problem of trusting him. She knew he'd do anything to protect her from harm. The truth was, she couldn't trust herself. When he looked at her like that, her resistance melted. Twice she'd let him make love to her, and twice she should have refused. Logically, she knew a relationship with a vampire could never work. Unfortunately, knowing that fact did little to ease the longing in her heart. It sure didn't stop the physical attraction that flooded her senses and made her body ache for him.
She attempted to change the subject. "What is that music you're listening to?"
"Gregorian chants. They help me concentrate." He went to a small fridge and removed a bottle of blood. "We'll make sure I'm not hungry." He unscrewed the top and started drinking it cold.
Whoa. Did this mean he intended to seduce her? Surely not. The sun would be rising soon. Another fifteen minutes or so and he would be out cold. Of course, vampires could move really fast when they wanted to. She wandered about his lab while he stood there, drinking and following her every move. "This looks old." She examined an old stone mortar and pestle.