"Security," Phil answered. "I'm responsible for her safety. Now step aside and let her go."
"I'm her father. She's coming with me."
"Oh, I know who you are." Phil gave them a look of disgust. "You're CIA. The Stake-Out team."
"What?" Garrett exchanged a worried look with Shanna's father. "How do they know?"
CIA ? Shanna glanced from one man to another, trying to figure out what was going on. Her dad had always said he worked for the State Department, but he sure wasn't behaving like a diplomat. And what was the Stake-Out team?
"So you must be one of Draganesti's daytime guards." Sean's voice was heavy with disapproval. "You're a traitor to humanity. A human working to protect vampires."
Shanna gasped. Her father knew about vampires?
"Drop it," a new voice warned. Another man in black appeared behind Phil.
Phil glanced back and muttered a curse. He lowered his gun onto the floor.
"Good work, Austin," Sean said. He strode toward Phil and retrieved his gun. "You're a human, so I'm going to let you go. Go back to that monster you serve and tell him his days, or rather his nights, are numbered. We're taking the vampires out, one by one, and there's nothing they can do about it."
Phil gave Shanna a worried look.
"I'll be all right. Go on." She watched him run from the house. Dear God, what a mess. Her father and these men were vampire slayers?
As if to confirm her conclusion, Garrett pulled a wooden stake from his jacket. "Since we're here, why don't we take care of a few vampires while they're sleeping?"
"They'll be heavily guarded." The man named Austin entered the parlor. He was young, with shaggy, blond hair. He noted the Russian on the floor. "There are usually ten to twelve armed men in this house during the day. I never saw them leave. So where are they?"
Sean nodded. "The place is too quiet." He looked at Shanna. "You said you weren't here alone?"
She swallowed hard. That was before she knew her father was a vampire killer. If he and his men went roaming about the house, killing vampires, they might kill Laszlo or even Roman.
"I was wrong. I think we'd better leave." She leaned over the chair to pick up her purse. The phone was still open, so she raised her voice, hoping Howard Barr would hear. "I'm ready to go with you, Dad."
Sean grabbed the phone, examined the number, then raised the phone to his cheek. "Who is this?" He frowned at his daughter. "They hung up." He closed the phone and dropped it in his pocket. "What's going on, Shanna?"
"Nothing." She swung her purse onto her shoulder in a nonchalant gesture. "I'm ready to go." It didn't matter if her dad had the phone. Roman could use any phone in the house to teleport home. And when he got home, Howard Barr and Phil would be able to explain what had happened to her. Right now, she needed to get these vampire slayers out of the house and away from Roman.
"Shall we?" She moved toward the foyer.
"Wait." Sean reached out to stop her. "You didn't seem very surprised about vampires." He studied her carefully. "You spent a lot of time at Draganesti's house. You know what kind of evil creature he is, don't you?"
"I think we'd better leave before the mafia guys find us."
Sean shoved her hair back and examined each side of her neck. "Did that monster bite you?"
"He's not a monster." Shanna stepped back. "If you've been watching him and Petrovsky, you should know they're completely different. Roman is a good man."
Sean's mouth twisted with disgust. "Draganesti is a hideous creature from hell."
"He is not! He risked his life to protect me."
"Stockholm syndrome," Garrett muttered.
Sean nodded, his eyes narrowed. "Did you let him in, Shanna?"
In her mind? Yes, and in her body and in her heart. But there was no way she could admit that to her father. He already wanted to kill Roman. If he knew the truth, he'd move Roman to the top of his list. She needed to warn Roman of this new danger. But then he might already know about the Stake-Out team. Phil had known.
"Everything I did was of my own free will."
Sean cocked his head, studying her. "We shall see."
A blur of motion shot into the room. Roman came to a stop with Laszlo slung over his shoulder. "I heard voices. What's going on here?"
Sean, Garrett, and Austin gaped at him.
He noted their weapons and gave Shanna a questioning look. "You know these men?"
She motioned toward her father. "My dad thought I needed rescuing."
Sean blinked. "This can't be. A vampire moving about during the day?"
"And so fast," Austin whispered. "I never saw him coming."
Roman frowned at Shanna's father. "You're Sean Whelan."
Sean nodded. "And you're Draganesti, the disgusting creature who's been holding my daughter prisoner."
Roman's mouth thinned. "She has a different opinion. Don't you, Shanna?"
She saw Garrett behind Roman, moving slowly toward him with a wooden stake. "I think you need to leave."
"I'm not going without you."
"You bastard." Sean removed a wooden stake from his jacket. "I don't know what you've done to my daughter, but you'll pay for it."
Shanna ran to her father, hoping her embrace would keep him from jumping at Roman. The poor man was just standing there, staring at her, making himself an easy target. "Go!"
"You see?" Sean wrapped an arm around Shanna. "She's staying with me. In fact, she's going to become one of my team."
Roman looked ill. "Is this true, Shanna? Do you want to kill me now?"
Her eyes filled with tears. There's a man with a stake behind you.
Roman glanced back and saw Garrett. He gave Shanna one more tortured look, then zoomed into the foyer and up the stairs.
"After him!" Sean yelled. Garrett and Austin ran up the stairs.
Sean released Shanna and gave her a disappointed look. "You warned him, didn't you? You're sympathizing with the creature that held you prisoner."
"He's not a creature! And I was never his prisoner. I left when I wanted to."
"And then you ran back to him the very next night. Face it, Shanna. He's controlling you. That's what vampires do. They mentally manipulate their victims until you can no longer see the truth."
A tear ran down her cheek. "That's not what happened. The truth is that death cannot change a man's heart. Evil men, like Ivan Petrovsky, will become evil vampires. But men like Roman Draganesti remain good and honorable."
Sean's jaw tightened. "There's nothing good or honorable about vampires. They're serial killers. They've gotten away with murder for centuries." He leaned toward her. "But not anymore."
Her skin chilled. "You can't kill them all."
"That's exactly what we're going to do - stake them through the heart one by one till the world is free from their evil existence."
Austin and Garrett came back downstairs.
"He's gone," Austin reported. "Disappeared. All we found was a phone off the hook."
Shanna heaved a sigh of relief. Roman was safe. Safe at home, but tortured with the belief that she'd betrayed him. Somehow she had to get back to him.
Sean grabbed her arm. "You're coming with us."
Fifteen minutes later, Shanna was riding in the back of a black SUV with her father. Austin was driving, and Garrett was riding shotgun. She gazed out the window and noted they were headed for Manhattan by way of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Roman would be home, probably upstairs in his bedroom. She hoped the formula was wearing off. He wouldn't suffer if he was asleep. And at least, Laszlo would wake up this evening in a safe place. Her eyes continued to well with tears, and she blinked them away, not wanting to cry in front of her father.
"I know you've been through a tough couple of months," her father spoke softly. "But it's all over now. You're safe."
Safe, but heartbroken if she could never see Roman again. She cleared her throat. "How's Mom?"
"Fine. She's here in the States. Your brother and sister, too. I'm afraid you can't see them."
"I'm very sorry about your friend who was killed," Sean said. "I asked the Justice Department about you, but they couldn't tell me anything. I've been worried sick about you."