"It's a little warm in here, no?" Fidelia gave her a sly grin.
Heather groaned inwardly. It could be really annoying to have a friend who was psychic.
Robby came in, and without a word, he hefted the entire love seat onto one shoulder and sauntered from the room.
"Ooh." Fidelia waggled her dark brows. "Roberto. I wonder if he wears anything under that skirt."
"It's a kilt." Heather motioned with her head toward her daughter. "Let's keep breakfast G-rated, okay?"
"Fine, I'll just imagine it." Fidelia scowled at her cereal. "At my age, that's all I have left."
Phineas grinned. "You're a baby compared to some of the old-timers around here."
"Gracias, muchacho." Fidelia gave him a grateful look. "I like all you men around here. You're muy macho." She gave Heather a pointed look. "Don't you think so?"
She glowered back. "Don't push it."
Ian and Robby returned for the television and TV stand.
"Thank you!" Fidelia called after them. "Now I won't miss my soaps. These men are very sensitive to our needs, don't you think?"
Heather made a face at her.
Phineas's laugh turned into a yawn. "The sun's coming. I can feel it. I'll have to leave soon."
Meaning he would be dead soon. Jean-Luc would be dead, too. Heather shuddered at the thought. Where was he? Was he climbing into that big bed of his so he could lie there all day dead as a doornail?
Phineas stood. "Hey, bro! Whassup?"
"Hey." Phil walked toward them. "Good morning."
Heather greeted him with a smile. At last, another normal human being.
Phil eyed the empty sitting area. "What happened?"
"We moved everything to the studio so Heather could work," Ian explained as he entered the kitchen. He inclined his head toward Heather. "Ye're all set up for the day."
"Thank you." Heather gathered up bowls and took them to the sink.
"Phineas, ye can go downstairs," Ian told him. "Robby's already headed that way."
"Sure. So long." Phineas waved at Heather. "See ya tomorrow night."
"Sleep well." She winced. What was the appropriate thing to say? Die well?
"What about you, bro?" Phineas asked Ian.
"I took the drug," Ian responded, his voice low. "I'm staying up."
Phineas grimaced. "Man, that's wack."
Phil looked the young Scotsman over carefully. "Do you feel all right?"
Ian shrugged. "I was a wee dizzy at first, but I feel fine now."
Phineas shook his head. "I've dealt with drugs before. They're no good, man."
"I'll be fine," Ian insisted. "Now go on downstairs."
"Okay." Phineas looked at Heather. "Keep an eye on him." He strode from the room.
Heather approached the two remaining guards. "What's going on?"
"Nothing." Ian crossed his arms, frowning.
"He's taken an experimental drug that will allow him to stay awake during the day," Phil explained.
"Is it dangerous?" Heather asked.
"Nay," Ian answered. "I feel fine, and we need more than one guard during the day."
Heather bit her bottom lip. These vampires were going to great lengths to protect her and her family. It was becoming increasingly hard to think of them as monsters.
As they all walked back to the design studio, she noticed the darkness. Shutters had been drawn over all the windows. The lights were on, but it was still gloomy without sunlight.
"They did a lot of stuff while we were eating breakfast," she whispered to Phil.
"They can move very fast," he replied.
Super fast and super strong. And super sexy. She mentally slapped herself for that last thought. "Why does it have to be so dark?"
"Sunlight would burn Ian," Phil whispered. "It'll kill him if he's exposed to too much."
Heather grimaced. The young Scotsman was putting himself in too much danger. "I don't see why we need two guards in the daytime. Louie's a vampire, right?"
"Then he would only attack at night," Heather concluded. "Unless he's taking the same drug Ian is."
"I'm sure he isn't. But he's an expert at controlling the minds of mortals. He used mortals to assassinate the French kings. He could brainwash anyone to come here and kill us, even during the day."
Heather gulped. "So anyone who comes to the door could be an assassin? Like...the mailman?"
The doorbell rang.
Heather moved close to her daughter. Ian unsheathed his sword, and Fidelia removed a pistol from her purse.
Phil peered through the blinds on the window beside the front door. "It's the UPS man." He punched a button on an intercom speaker. "Leave the packages on the porch."
"This could be legitimate." Ian rested the sword blade against his shoulder. "Jean-Luc was ordering things online Sunday night."
"What's going on, Mama?" Bethany whispered as she took hold of Heather's hand.
"It's...a surprise." A pleasant one, Heather hoped.
Phil continued to spy through the window. "We've got four boxes. He's leaving now. Stay back. The sun's up."
Ian moved out of the way. Phil opened the door, and a slash of sunlight shot across the showroom floor. Above the shiny marble, golden dust motes danced in sunlit air.
Heather glanced at Ian to see if he was all right. His eyes glistened with moisture.
She walked toward him. "Are you in pain?"
He shook his head. "It's been a verra long time since I've seen sunlight. I never thought I'd see it again. 'Tis so...beautiful."
Heather turned away. It was hard to stay prejudiced against these vampires. The slash of light disappeared as Phil exited and shut the door. She moved to the window where Phil had peeked out earlier.
"You shouldna stand so close," Ian warned her.
Did he think the packages would explode like her truck? She peeked out the window to make sure Phil was all right. "Oh my gosh, he's sniffing the boxes."
"Phil can smell a bomb," Ian said. "Please move back."
"Phil can smell - " Her question was interrupted when the door opened and Phil pushed a box inside.
"This one's safe." He shut the door.
"Who's it for?" Bethany ran forward to look at it.
"Bring it here." Ian sheathed his sword, then drew the smaller blade from his knee sock. "I'll open it for you."
Bethany pushed the box to Ian just as Phil shoved a second box inside. "This is fun!" She pushed the second box to Ian. "Open it!"
Ian had already sliced the packaging tape on the first box. He dug through some Styrofoam peanuts and pulled out a beautiful doll wearing an elaborate dress.
Bethany squealed and held out her arms. "It's for me!"
"Good Lord," Heather whispered, moving closer.
Ian removed several plastic bags, each one containing another lovely outfit for the doll. "Och, ye can tell a fashion designer picked these out. Verra fancy."
"I love her!" Bethany spun around, holding the doll.
Heather turned to Fidelia. "We can't keep this stuff."
Fidelia snorted. "Try taking that away from your daughter."
Heather winced. "He's being sneaky and manipulative."
"I'd say he's clever and generous," Fidelia muttered. "But then, what the hell do I know?"
Ian emptied the first box and found a few picture books. Heather sighed. Jean-Luc would make an excellent father if he wasn't a monster. With a jolt, she remembered that Roman was a father. What if Jean-Luc used the same procedure? Could he actually become a father?
"All done." Phil shoved the last two boxes inside, then shut and locked the front door.
Meanwhile, Ian had the second box open. It contained an antique set of hand-painted tarot cards.
Fidelia clasped them to her chest. She looked at Heather. "You're loco if you let him go."
Heather frowned at her. "I can't be bought."
Ian opened the third box and pulled out something made of a rich black taffeta. He handed it to Heather.
It was a black cocktail dress, and just her size. Jean-Luc was probably trying to replace the one he'd torn last Friday. She admired the classic styling and superb craftsmanship. It had probably cost a small fortune.