"Yes. And my models were fitted this afternoon."
"Good." He paced toward the silk curtains and back. "You did well to have three outfits ready in such a short time."
He paced toward the front door, then turned and came back. He glowered at her. "I'm about to explode."
She blinked. "Excuse me?"
"I can't take it anymore."
Was he rejecting her? Heather's heart began to pound. "I realize you only hired me for two weeks, and my time is up."
"I'm not talking about employment. I'm talking about us." He paced away, but returned after a few steps. "I've gone almost a week without touching you. I don't know how to...act. I want to grab you and kiss you, but I don't dare frighten you away. And I'm tired of waiting for Lui to make his move. You're trapped here until I can get rid of him."
"I think we're all suffering from cabin fever. I'm nervous about tomorrow, too, but I'll be glad when it's over."
"When it's over, you'll be free to go." He dragged a hand through the dark curls on his head. "Will you accept full-time employment?"
She blinked. "You're offering me a job?"
"Yes. I want to manufacture some of your designs. You can work out of New York or Paris. I'll help you relocate."
Heather's heart lurched. Designing clothes in New York or Paris? It was all she'd ever dreamed of. "But where would you be?"
He sat heavily in a foldout chair. "I'll be here in hiding."
She sat beside him. Her dream job didn't sound so wonderful if it didn't include him. "Could I work here?"
"I suppose the daytime guard could let you in." He gave her a wary look. "You can always go home before I wake."
She bit her lip. "Is that you want?"
"No! I know exactly what I - " He leaned back in the chair. "But I shouldn't tell you. It'll scare you away."
"Tell me. If Louie was gone, what would you do?"
"I would take you and your family to New York. We would stay at Roman's townhouse. You would see the tourist places during the day, and then at night..."
"We'd go to the Diamond District to pick out a ring."
Her mouth dropped open.
"And then I would ask you to marry me."
Her mouth snapped shut, and she gulped.
"I would be a good father to Bethany, and I would love to have more children with you. Two, I think."
Did he have their colleges picked out? He certainly did know exactly what he wanted. She struggled to breathe.
He tilted his head, watching her. "What do you think?"
"I think you found your mojo," she whispered.
"Is that an answer?" He looked confused.
"No." Heather clenched her hands together.
"I'd better leave you alone. I've said too much already. Merde. I've probably scared you away." He strode from the room.
Heather's heart pounded in her ears. Good Lord, he wanted to marry her. Marriage to a vampire. And children.
Was he scaring her away? Didn't she have enough to be scared about? Tomorrow was Saturday, the day of the runway show. And the night they expected Louie to try to kill her.
"Thank you for coming." Jean-Luc shook hands with Gregori, who had just teleported into his office.
"No problem, bro." Gregori peered through the window at the showroom below. "So you want me to emcee your show?"
"If you don't mind." Jean-Luc thought Gregori was the best choice since he'd once hosted a reality show on the Digital Vampire Network. "I need to be at Heather's side."
Gregori nodded. "She's the chick Lui wants to kill?"
"Yes." Jean-Luc glanced at the silk curtain. She was behind there with her models. Phineas was standing guard, but Jean-Luc was anxious to take over that duty.
"This will be fun." Gregori adjusted the tie to his tuxedo. "Lots of hot babes. Is Simone here?"
"She's with Inga. They put on each other's makeup. I have a digital camera and monitor set up in the cellar so they can see themselves." Jean-Luc retrieved a piece of paper from his desk. "This is everything you need to know."
Gregori glanced over the script. "Okay. Let's do it."
Robby strode into the office. He nodded at the vice president from Romatech Industries. "Gregori."
"Hey, bro." Gregori shook his hand.
"Everything's ready to go," Robby announced. "One of Heather's models was a bit nervous and had too much to drink. Heather has her drinking some coffee."
Jean-Luc frowned. "If she's drunk, her mental facilities will be weak."
"Ye're thinking she would be easy for Lui to control," Robby said.
"Oui." Jean-Luc picked up his cane with the hidden sword inside.
"I'll keep an eye on her. Simone, too," Robby added.
"Unfortunately, everyone in the building is a suspect." Jean-Luc strode to the office door, carrying his cane. "Let's go."
The three male Vamps zoomed down the backstairs and into the kitchen. Phil and Fidelia were having a late-night snack with Bethany.
"You can go to my office now." Jean-Luc hunched down beside Bethany. "You can watch your maman through the window." The little girl nodded, her mouth full of cookies.
He passed by Phil and whispered, "Keep them safe."
"Yes, sir." Phil nodded. He'd been instructed earlier to shield Bethany's view if things turned ugly.
Jean-Luc strode to the showroom with Robby and Gregori.
Robby pointed at the catwalk. "I'll be up there during the show. Phineas and Ian will be down here. The sheriff's already here with two deputies."
Jean-Luc noted Billy leaning against a wall with a toothpick in his mouth. His deputies were standing on the opposite side of the room.
"I'll check the guests as they come in," Robby continued, "and make sure they're all mortal."
Simone and Inga strode into the room, ignoring the deputies who turned to gape at them.
"Hey, Simone." Gregori walked toward her, smiling.
She stopped. "Gregori." She lifted her hand and allowed him to escort her and Inga to the backstage area.
Gregori lifted the curtains to let them pass. "I'll be back here," he told Jean-Luc.
"Tell Heather I want to see her." Jean-Luc waited.
Heather peeked out. Her eyes widened. "You're looking good."
"Thank you." He'd worn his best tux. "We're ready to start."
"Okay." She glanced back. "Good luck, ladies."
Jean-Luc smiled when he saw she was wearing the black cocktail dress he'd purchased for her. "You look lovely."
"Thank you." She smoothed down the skirt. "I know a guy with great taste."
"That's right." Jean-Luc escorted her to the front row of chairs. "I heard one of your models is a little drunk."
She winced. "Liz. I would have never believed that a drama coach would suffer so much from stage fright. But they're all dressed and ready to go." She was talking fast and her gaze was flitting about. She was nervous, Jean-Luc realized, and with good reason.
"Come." He sat in a chair at the end of the row and motioned for her to sit beside him. He took her hands in his. They were icy cold, and he rubbed them. "I will protect you, Heather. I promise."
She took a deep breath. "I've been waiting for this for two weeks, and now I just want it over with."
"You'll do fine. Your outfits are beautiful."
"Well, that seems really unimportant compared to someone trying to kill me."
"No one will hurt you. I won't let them." He glanced at the front door. Robby was checking everyone and examining purses as they came in.
"Oh no," Heather moaned. "Coach Gunter has arrived."
The short coach didn't wait in line, but burst into the showroom. "Hey Heather!" His booming voice rang out. "I brought some moral support for Liz." He blew his whistle, and two cheerleaders from Guadalupe High skipped into the showroom, waving pom-poms and squealing.
"Oh no." Heather scooted down in her chair.
Jean-Luc chuckled. "I've never seen this before at a fashion show."
"Only in Texas," Heather muttered.
Coach and the cheerleaders sat in the front row across from Jean-Luc and Heather.