"Is that any way to talk to yer new boss?"
"I don't care - what?" Austin glanced at the Scotsman before returning his gaze to Darcy.
"She's coming around," Roman announced.
Austin stepped forward. "Is she all right?"
Roman glanced up. "You must be Austin."
"Yes, sir." He stopped beside the operating table. "Is she all right? Did it work?"
Roman checked her life signs on a nearby machine. "She's doing great."
"We did it!" Laszlo twisted a button on his lab coat. "This is a momentous achievement, sir."
Darcy moved her head and moaned.
Austin touched her face. "Darcy?"
Her eyes flickered open. "Austin?"
"Yes." He took her hand. "I'm here, sweetheart."
Her gaze flitted around the room. "I - I'm alive."
"How do you feel?" Roman examined her eyes with a small flashlight.
"Tired. Weak. Thirsty."
"Thirsty for what?" Roman clicked off the flashlight.
Darcy licked her lips. "Water. Juice." She slowly smiled. "A vanilla milkshake."
Roman smiled. "That's a good sign."
The short chemist removed his latex gloves. "I could go to the cafeteria and bring her back something."
Roman nodded. "Just some juice for now. Thank you, Laszlo."
"My pleasure." Laszlo plucked at the button on his lab coat. "It's been an honor to participate in such a miraculous event." He scurried from the room.
Loud cheers erupted from the waiting room. Laszlo had obviously spread the good news.
Austin brushed Darcy's hair back from her brow. "Do you hear that, sweetheart? All your friends are happy for you."
She gazed at him, her eyes shimmering with tears. "I was so afraid."
"I'm sure you were. I was terrified."
"Aye, that he was." Connor stepped forward. "The lad even offered to become a vampire if we would stop the procedure."
Darcy's eyes widened. "Oh, no, Austin. I would have been so angry with you."
"I know, but I figured you'd get over it in a century or two. And we would have been together."
And he was undone. "Marry me. I know this isn't the most romantic setting for a proposal, but I can't wait. Please say you'll marry me."
A tear trailed down her cheek. "I will marry you."
Austin grinned. He leaned close to wipe her tear away. "Now, don't cry. I'm not much of a catch right now. I don't even have a job, and - "
"Wait a minute, lad," Connor interrupted. "I told Angus MacKay about you, and he wants to hire you. We need your help in locating Casimir. He's somewhere in Eastern Europe."
Austin straightened. "Who is Angus MacKay? And who is Casimir?"
"Casimir is the leader of the Malcontents," Roman explained. "He's the crudest, most vicious vampire in the world."
"As a mortal, ye have the advantage of snooping about during the day," Connor continued. "And with yer psychic abilities and CIA training, ye're the best man for the job."
Austin swallowed. It was just the sort of mission he'd always wanted. He glanced at Darcy.
"You should do it," she whispered.
"I won't leave you."
"I'll come with you. I was always good at research and investigation. I can help."
"It could be dangerous." Austin corrected himself. "It will be dangerous."
Darcy smiled. "I always wanted to do more serious stuff."
Austin turned to Connor. "Darcy and I are a team. You'll need to hire us both."
The Scotsman's mouth twitched. "Aye, we can do that."
"I have a villa in Tuscany you can use as your base," Roman offered.
"Thank you," Austin replied. "That's very generous."
Roman smiled. "I'm in a generous mood. I just found out last night that I'm going to be a father."
"Och, that's grand." Connor shook his hand. "But I thought ye had stopped trying because of the... problem."
Roman's smile faded. "Apparently, our first attempt worked."
A vampire fathering a baby? Austin gave Darcy a questioning look.
"I'll explain later," she whispered.
Austin glanced at Roman and Connor. They looked more worried than happy. "Congratulations." Austin extended a hand.
"Thank you." Roman shook it, his smile returning. "You'll enjoy working for Angus."
"Who is he?"
"The owner of MacKay Security and Investigation," Connor explained. "And coven master of the United Kingdom."
"Oh." Austin swallowed. He should have realized he'd be working for a vampire organization.
Connor's eyes twinkled. "How soon can ye start?"
"Ah, we need a few weeks. We need to get married."
"You can have the reception here, no charge," Roman offered. "And I have an apartment in Paris you can use for your honeymoon, if you like."
"Thank you." Austin realized that even though he and his future wife were mortal, their life would still revolve around vampires. "Darcy and I need to make a few trips first."
"Trips?" she asked.
"One to Wisconsin to see my family. And the other - "
She gasped. "My family?" She glanced at Roman and Connor. "Is that all right?"
Connor shrugged. "As long as ye have a good explanation."
"Don't worry," Austin assured her. "I'm an old pro at cover stories. We'll just say you were in hiding from some bad guys, and now that the bad guys are dead, you're able to resume your old life."
She looked skeptical. "You make it sound so simple."
"The simpler stories are the best," Austin said.
She smiled. "Then I'll also tell them you were the hero who rescued me."
"Well, if you insist."
She took a deep breath. "Everything's perfect now." Austin kissed her brow. "We have each other." She smiled at the men surrounding her. "Mortal and vampire." She squeezed Austin's hand. "I have the best of both worlds."