Maggie pressed a hand to her chest. "No, it's a rabbit."
The rabbit hopped toward her, wriggling its nose and studying her with big brown eyes.
"Ye frightened me over a wee bunny?" Ian asked. "I was ready to teleport there and slay a vicious monster."
Maggie laughed. "It startled me." She stepped toward the bunny, but it scampered to the house and wedged through some broken latticework underneath the front steps.
The house was in need of repair, and Maggie knew Pierce would be determined to help his family. But she wanted to help, too. She wanted to belong here like he did. Dorotea had welcomed her, but Pierce was the one who needed to ask her to stay. And all he'd done so far was offer to take her back to Dallas.
She needed to prove her worth, and an idea had occurred to her in the house. "Ian, can you check the price on bat guano?"
"Yes. Let me know tomorrow night." She hung up and hurried to the storm cellar. A howl in the distance made her shiver. No wonder the bunny went into hiding.
Dorotea was standing by the hatch and gave Maggie a hug. "Are you sure about this?"
"Yes. We'll be fine." Maggie swung her tote bag onto her shoulder and stepped onto the ladder. Below, Pierce lit her way with a flashlight. Halfway down, Dorotea closed the hatch.
"Alone at last." Pierce set the flashlight on a shelf.
Maggie set her tote bag on the cold linoleum floor and removed the bottles of blood. "I brought us a snack."
"Great." Pierce opened a bottle and drank. "You're the best, Maggie." He set his bottle on the shelf next to the flashlight and began unrolling the sleeping bags.
Did he really believe she was the best? If he did, why didn't he proclaim his love and ask her to marry him? No, he just squatted there on the floor, unzipping sleeping bags.
Oh well, it was late. She could already feel a slight tug from the death-sleep. He was right to get things ready.
She looked around the small cellar. Along one wall, there were shelves filled with jugs of water. On the opposite wall, a unit of shelves jutted out to provide a small space behind it. The shelves were filled with canned goods and supplies.
She slipped behind the shelving unit and removed her pajamas from the tote bag. They were damp from the cold bottles she'd stashed there. She wrinkled her nose. If she had any nerve at all, she'd prance out from behind these shelves completely nude and show Pierce she really was the best.
She groaned inwardly. She knew nothing about seduction. Her one encounter with seduction had been over a century ago when a male vampire had used mind control to steal her blood, her virginity, and finally, her mortality. He'd been gentle enough, but still, he'd controlled her. He'd made her think it was pleasurable, but the next night, when she awoke, she was undead and appalled. It hadn't seemed so pleasurable then.
Over the next hundred years, she'd engaged in psychic vampire sex a few times, but she'd never wanted to make love again in the physical way. She'd never wanted to risk that sort of emotional vulnerability with a man. Until now.
She quickly undressed and slid on the damp pajama bottoms. What if Pierce rejected her? He was always thanking her, but she wanted his love, not his gratitude. He also referred to her as an angel. Did that mean he didn't desire her as a woman?
She felt another pull from death-sleep. If she was going to seduce him, she'd better do it quick. She slipped on her pajama top and peered through two huge cans of baked beans to see what he was doing.
He was sitting on the sleeping bags, watching her.
She gasped, her old-fashioned upbringing reappearing. "How dare you!"
He grinned. "Don't worry. There's a big box of toilet paper in the way, and I completely missed the good parts."
Maggie's heart raced. He was interested in her as a woman. She eased out from behind the shelving unit.
His gaze drifted over her. "You look beautiful, Maggie."
"In flannel pajamas?" She smoothed her hand over a damp patch. "They're a little wet."
"Then you should take them off so you don't catch cold."
She snorted. "Now that sounds too much like Don Orlando."
Pierce shook his head. "Don Orlando is gone." He stood. "There's just you and me."
Her heart beat faster. She looked down at the floor and saw what he'd done. He'd opened all the sleeping bags and stacked them flat on each other to create one mattress. Two pillows rested at the head, and blankets at the foot.
A wave of heat poured lazily through her. "Are you planning to seduce me?"
"Yes." He unzipped his jeans and dropped them to the floor. "I know you deserve better, Maggie. You deserve the finest suite at the Plaza or the Ritz."
"I'm okay." More than okay. She watched his muscles bunch and ripple when he yanked his T-shirt over his head.
"And you deserve better than a poor cowboy who apparently has a strange family."
"I like your family." Her breath caught when she spotted the huge bulge in his cotton briefs. Sweet Mary and Joseph, he wasn't thinking of her as an angel now.
He stuck his thumbs in the elastic waistband and tugged the briefs down slowly. "I don't mean to rush you, darling, but we don't have much time before the death-sleep takes us."
She licked her lips. Yes, she wanted him, but what about love? Why couldn't he say what she needed to hear? She turned away just as his briefs hit the floor. "Do you love me?"
"God, yes." He grabbed her and turned her to face him. "I have always loved you, Maggie. I loved you as Don Orlando. And I adore you as Pierce. I don't know how I could face eternity without you. Hell, I couldn't face one night without you."
"Oh, Pierce." She cradled his face in her hands. "You had me with 'God, yes.' And I love you so much."
His mouth came down on hers with a hunger that took her breath away and melted her knees. Before she knew it, they were stretched out on the makeshift mattress, and Pierce was covering her face and neck with kisses. She smoothed her hands down his back, loving the heat of his skin and the bulge of his muscles.
"We have to hurry." He unbuttoned her pajama top.
"So beautiful." He took a nipple into his mouth.
It was beautiful. Maggie had never realized how beautiful real love-making could be. She could hardly breathe. Hardly think. Her skin burned wherever he touched her. And heat, demanding heat sizzled between her legs. "Hurry."
He pulled off her pajama bottoms and settled between her legs. "Forgive me for taking you so fast." He plunged a finger into her core and stroked her.
Maggie squealed. "Oh, God, you're forgiven."
"You're so wet." He spread her moisture around the sensitive folds, then tasted her.
She jolted, raising her hips into the air. Sweet Mary, he was the greatest vampire lover in the world. She spiraled out of control. His tongue continued to torture and delight her, feast on her and devour her. She screamed when the climax shattered her, immersing her in a flood of sweet throbbing sensations.
"Pierce me." She wrapped her arms around his shoulders and her legs around his waist.
He entered her. "I wish we had all night." A look of fatigue crossed his face.
She felt it, too. Death-sleep was coming, tugging at her consciousness. "Just a little more. Please."
He gritted his teeth and plunged again and again.
She lifted her hips to meet each thrust. Just a little more time. Please. She felt the spiraling sensation building within.
He quickened his pace, his breathing harsh. Then suddenly, with a deep plunge, he stiffened and groaned. He collapsed, his head beside hers. "God, I love you."
"I love you, too." As death-sleep pulled her under, she felt one final sweet throb where their bodies were still joined.
Pierce awoke with the usual jolt that reverberated through his body. He opened his eyes as Maggie shuddered back to life.
A scream erupted behind them.
Maggie's eyes flew open, and she screamed, too. Pierce looked over his shoulder. A young woman at the foot of their bed squealed, then grabbed his mother. Dorotea screamed.
"Enough!" Pierce pulled the blanket up to cover himself and Maggie as he flipped over into a sitting position. Dammit. They must have come in before sunset.
"I thought you were dead!" The young woman pointed at him.
Dorotea pressed her palms together in prayer. "It's a miracle!" She dropped to her knees and burst into tears.