So her dad was going to leave her with a watchdog. That would make it hard to contact Roman.
"Like I said before," her father continued, "our team is small. I've been searching for people with enough psychic power to resist vampire mind control. Any American with that ability has a duty to his country to put that ability to proper use."
Shanna swallowed hard. Was her dad referring to her?
"What I'm saying, Shanna, is - I want you to join my team."
Yep, he meant her. "You want me to kill vampires?"
"I want you to protect the world from demonic creatures. We're terribly outnumbered, Shanna. We need you. I can get you into the CIA immediately, and we'll begin your training."
"I already have a career. I'm a dentist."
Sean waved a hand in dismissal. "That's not your true calling. God has given you a gift, a gift to fight this curse on mankind. It would be unforgivable not to use it."
Work for her domineering father? Talk about feeling cursed. Shanna's gut reaction was to tell her father to leave her the hell alone. She wanted more than anything to be with Roman. But what if living with Roman made her father move him to the top of his hit list? In that case, it would be better for her to stay with her father.
What if she knew all about her father's plans? Then she could keep Roman alerted to any trouble coming his way.
And maybe, in time, she could convince her dad that good Vamps really did exist. Maybe, in time, she could be with Roman again.
If she refused to join her dad's team, and her dad went on a killing spree, staking her friends, how could she live with herself? Roman had done his best to protect her. Now it was her turn to protect him.
The SUV pulled up in front of the hotel's revolving door.
She took a deep breath. "All right. I'll consider joining your team."
Roman woke with his usual sharp and sudden intake of air. His heart lurched in his chest, then settled down to a steady beat. He opened his eyes.
"Thank God," a voice muttered. "We dinna think ye'd ever wake up."
Roman blinked and turned his head toward the voice. Angus was standing next to his bed, frowning at him. In fact, there were several people crowded around his bed. Jean-Luc, Connor, Howard Barr, Phil, Gregori, and Laszlo.
"Hey, bro." Gregori smiled. "We were worried about you."
Roman glanced at Laszlo. "Are you all right?"
"Yes, sir." The small chemist nodded. "Thanks to you. You can't imagine how relieved I was to wake up in your house."
Angus crossed his arms over his broad chest. "The question is, how are you? I hear ye were up and about during the daytime."
"Yes." Roman sat up and glanced at his bedside clock.
God's blood. The sun must have set over an hour ago. "I overslept."
"I havena ever heard of that happening before," Connor said.
"Possibly a side effect of the drug you took." Laszlo leaned forward. "Do you mind if I check your pulse, sir?"
"Go ahead." Roman stretched his arm out. Laszlo studied his watch while he gripped Roman's wrist.
"Congratulations, mon ami" Jean-Luc said. "Your formula is a great success. Awake during the day - it is amazing."
"I was still burned by sunlight." Roman glanced down at his chest where the sun had slashed a wound across his skin. The rip in his shirt was still there, but the skin had healed. Now, the wound was inside, tearing at his heart. Eliza had caused the wound a hundred years ago when she'd wanted to kill him. Now, because of Shanna, it was sliced open once again.
"Pulse is normal." Laszlo let go of Roman's wrist.
How could it be normal when his heart was ripped to shreds? Roman swallowed hard. "Did Shanna come back?"
"Nay," Connor whispered. "We havena heard from her."
"I tried to save her," Phil said, frowning. "But they had me outnumbered."
"That bloody Stake-Out team," Angus muttered. "Phil and Howard told us all about yer daytime adventure while we were waiting for ye to wake up."
Roman's heart squeezed in his chest. "She's joining her father's team. He'll train her to kill us."
Connor scoffed angrily. "I doona believe it."
Gregori shook his head. "It doesn't sound like her."
Angus sighed. "Mortals canna be trusted. I learned that the hard way." He regarded Roman sadly. "I thought ye did, too."
He had, but Shanna had filled him with hope once again. Roman had fallen asleep totally confused, and now it still didn't make sense. It seemed clear that Shanna had wanted to stay with her father. And staying with her father meant she would become a vampire killer. But why had she warned him of the slayer behind him? Why try to save his life if she wanted him dead? Did she think somehow she was protecting him by staying with her father? Did she actually love him after all?
"We've been busy while ye were sleeping," Angus announced. "When we woke, there was still an hour or so of nighttime in London and Edinburgh. So we've had every phone in this house busy while we teleported more of my men here. The good news is we now have an army downstairs of two hundred warriors. We're ready to go to war."
"I see." Roman climbed out of bed. Many of the men downstairs would be ones he had personally transformed. If they died in battle tonight, what would happen to their immortal souls? He knew they were good men, but still, they'd existed for centuries by feeding off mortals. God would never allow such creatures into heaven. And if the only alternative was hell, then Roman had doomed their immortal souls the minute he had transformed them. It was a burden of guilt too heavy to bear. "I'll be with you in a minute. Please wait in my office."
The men filed out. Roman dressed, then went into his office to warm up a bottle of blood. "How's your mother, Gregori?"
"Fine. I just came from the hospital." Gregori slouched in a wingback chair, frowning. "She says she made you swear to keep me safe during the upcoming war. I'm not a coward, you know."
"I know." The microwave dinged, and Roman removed his bottle of blood. "But you haven't been trained to fight."
"Big deal," Gregori muttered. "I'm not staying behind."
Roman sipped straight from the bottle. "Do we have enough weapons?"
"We're bringing stakes and our silver-plated swords." Angus paced about the room, his kilt swinging about his knees. "And we're bringing guns in case Petrovsky has mortals helping him."
The phone on Roman's desk rang.
"Speak of the devil," Jean-Luc whispered.
Roman strode to his desk and picked up the receiver. "Draganesti here."
"This is Petrovsky. I don't know how you managed to get in my house during the day, but don't ever try it again. From now on, I'll have thirty armed guards here, and they'll be shooting silver bullets."
Roman sat behind his desk. "I see my new formula has you worried. Are you afraid we'll come and stake you while you're sleeping?"
"You won't find us, you bloody svoloch! We have other places to sleep during the day. You'll never find us."
"I found my chemist. I can find you."
"You can have the stupid chemist. The little weasel ripped all the buttons off my couch. Now, here's the deal, Draganesti. You deliver Shanna Whelan to me tonight, or I keep bombing your plants and kidnapping your employees. And the next time I take one of your people, he'll be a pile of dust by the time you find him. Just like that Highlander I staked last night."
Roman's grip on the receiver tightened. He wouldn't risk any more Highlanders. And he'd never betray Shanna, even if she betrayed him. "I don't have Dr. Whelan."
"Of course you do. I heard she was in my house with you. You turn her over, and I'll stop bombing Romatech."
Ridiculous. Petrovsky would never stop causing trouble. Roman knew that without a doubt. And he knew he would protect Shanna with his dying breath. "Listen, Petrovsky. You won't be bombing Romatech, or kidnapping my employees, or harming a hair on Shanna Whelan's head, because you're not going to live through the night."
Ivan snorted. "That drug you took has messed up your head."
"We have an army of two hundred warriors, and we're coming after you tonight. How many men do you have, Petrovsky?" There was a pause. Roman knew from Angus's latest reports that the Russian-American coven can muster about fifty warriors at the most.