"Yeah." Tina sneered at him. "You're just a poser."
"Yeah, he's a poser." Lindsey marched toward the elevator. "I bet he's not even Irish."
Angus heaved a sigh of relief when the elevator doors swooshed shut. Thank God he drank out of bottles and no longer had to deal with the modern, mortal world in order to survive. Courting women like Lindsey and Tina could drive a vampire to leap into the sunlight. Thank God Emma was different. She was special, clever, and lovely. And most probably, staying in Austin Erickson's apartment.
The elevator stopped at the fourth floor. Bugger. Lindsey and Tina would be floundering around that hallway for five minutes. He'd have to wait. Or maybe he should just go home. If Emma realized he knew where she was, she'd leave again. No, it was better to leave her alone. He'd teleport back to Roman's townhouse and send her an e-mail, asking to see her tomorrow night. He closed his eyes, thinking of her shiny, dark hair and amber eyes, the graceful curve of her cheek and neck. Good night, Emma. Sleep well.
Emma dropped the crate on Austin's sofa, then took the sack of silver goodies into his bedroom. She studied the room. Yes, this would work nicely. She'd put some fresh sheets on the bed, and after sunrise, she'd go back to her apartment for her laptop and some clothes. Some sexy clothes.
She headed back through the living room to the kitchen, where she found a knife to pry open the crate.
With a gasp, she fumbled the knife on the countertop. Angus. She grasped the knife in her fist and whirled around. The room was empty. Of course it was. The voice hadn't been close by. It had been inside her head.
She poured psychic energy into a wall of defense. How dare he enter her mind like that? She knew it was him. The voice had kept all the qualities of Angus's voice. The deep, masculine tone, the soft lilt of his accent.
How had he managed the connection across town? Unless...
She dashed to the living room window and peeked through the blinds at the street below. A few pedestrians were out, but no men in kilts. She closed the blinds. Had he somehow discovered her whereabouts? She ran to the front door, flipped the locks, and looked outside.
Two blond women were teetering down the hallway, jabbering and laughing. The taller one wore brown and turquoise; the shorter one, pink and silver. They stopped a few doors down. The taller one struggled to get her key into the lock.
Emma stepped into the hall to peer around the women. She hid the knife behind her back to keep from alarming them. The hallway was empty.
The taller blonde dropped her key on the floor. "Shit!" She leaned over to pick it up and tumbled onto her face.
The shorter one giggled. "God, Lindsey, you're so smashed."
Lindsey stood and smoothed down her brown mini-skirt. "I am not smashed. I'm totally hammered."
With a shake of her head, Emma headed back into Austin's apartment.
"Let me try." The shorter blonde pushed Lindsey aside to unlock their door.
Lindsey careened into the opposite wall, then spotted Emma. "What are you doing? Isn't that Austin's apartment?"
"Yes. He's out of town, so I'm house-sitting for him. We're good friends." Emma started to close the door.
"Wait!" Lindsey lurched toward her. "You can't be his girlfriend. We know about Austin."
"We know Austin's secret," the shorter one announced in a singsong voice.
They knew he'd been a spy for the CIA? "What exactly do you know?"
"We know he might as well come out of the closet." Lindsey snickered. "Right, Tina?"
"I know, right?" Tina gave Emma a doubtful look. "You can't be much of a friend if you didn't know he's gay."
Emma's mouth dropped open. Why on earth would Austin tell these women he was gay? Unless... "Did either of you make a pass at him?"
"I tried a jillion times to get him to come inside." Tina flipped her pink-streaked hair over her shoulder. "He always had some kind of excuse, like his iron was on."
Lindsey scoffed. "That is so rude."
Emma knew Austin wasn't gay. The guy had snapped a hundred photos of a girl he was lusting for. "I'm afraid you're mistaken about him."
"'Fraid not!" Lindsey yelled. "We have proof. We met his boyfriend."
"Yeah, he was a total poser," Tina boasted. "He's not even Irish."
"Yeah," Lindsey added. "His fake accent and little skirt couldn't fool us."
Emma caught her breath. "There was a man downstairs with an accent, wearing a skirt? Was he tall with incredibly broad shoulders, a gorgeous face with green eyes, and long auburn hair?"
"Sheesh, don't get all worked up." Tina rolled her eyes. "The guy won't be interested in you. He even had a purse."
Emma squeezed the knife in her fist. "He was downstairs in the lobby? Just now?"
"Yeah, we just saw him." Tina scratched at her pink highlights. "He kept talking about Austin."
"And he wouldn't come upstairs with us," Lindsey mumbled. "Anyone who refuses us has got to be gay."
"I know, right?" Tina nodded seriously. "'Cause we're so totally hot."
Emma took a deep breath. Angus had been downstairs. He knew where she was. "Good night, ladies." She shut the door and bolted the locks. Shit. A hell of a lot of good these locks would do. Angus could teleport inside whenever he wanted to.
Why hadn't he? Why was he leaving her alone? She strode to the sofa and pried open the crate of stakes. Damn that Angus MacKay! He could invade the apartment or her mind whenever he damned well pleased.
And if that wasn't bad enough, there was a part of her that actually liked the fact that he'd gone to the trouble to track her down. He was interested in her, not the blond bimbos in the hall who'd tried to pick him up. Did this mean he never took advantage of mortal women for a little nibble? Did he only take his meals from a bottle like he said? Good heavens, she was starting to believe him.
Just the fact that she was flattered by his attention was a major disaster. He was sneaking into her confidence. He was trying to burrow into her heart. Dammit, no one was allowed there.
The only way to get rid of him was to kill him. And if part of her objected to that, then it just made her decision more imperative. He had to go. He had to die before he weaseled his way into her heart.
Quickly she stashed stakes around the apartment so she could access them easily. She made up the bed and placed the silver handcuffs and chains under her pillow. She stripped down to her bra and panties and lounged on the bed, waiting. Whether he came tonight or tomorrow night, it didn't matter.
She was ready for him, and he would die.
Emma woke with a start and glanced at the bedside clock. It was almost noon. Sometime, close to dawn, she'd fallen asleep. And Angus hadn't come.
She threw her clothes on and jogged to her apartment in SoHo. She ate a quick breakfast, took a quick shower, then packed some clothes to take back to Austin's place. Unfortunately, she didn't have much in the realm of sexy. Her clothes tended to be practical and comfortable, clothes she could fight in. She'd never played the seductress before. Where did you hide a stake if you were wearing nothing but lacy underwear?
She ended up tossing all her lingerie into the suitcase. She could figure out the sexy outfit later. She wheeled her suitcase into the tiny living room.
Half a dozen stakes remained on the coffee table. Angus had left them alone. She settled on the loveseat in front of her laptop. Since it was Sunday, she didn't expect many e-mails. Actually, she never had many. It was hard to maintain friendships when so much of her life was secret. She clicked on the inbox and saw one message that had been sent at four-forty-three A.M. From Angus MacKay.
Her heart took a little leap, but she quickly squelched it. Of course she found the man exciting. She was planning to kill him tonight. She took a deep breath. Correction. She was planning to seduce him, then kill him.
She'd never done anything so blatant before, but she felt sure Angus would do his part. He'd gotten an erection just lying next to her in the park. He was probably well experienced when it came to sex. Centuries of leaving the ladies verra satisfied. Not that she would ever know. She wasn't going to let it get out of hand.
Dear Emma, I was sorry to miss you. I was tempted to take your laptop since it might be filled with interesting information, and obtaining information is what I do. I declined, though, in hopes that you will realize I am trustworthy.
I know where you are. I will meet you at Austin Erickson's apartment Sunday night at eight. I will not harm you. I simply want to talk.
What on earth was there to talk about? Obviously, he wanted her to stop slaying. He claimed to be worried about her safety, but she suspected he was more worried about the safety of his vampire buddies. How far was he prepared to go to stop her? If she refused to stop, would he try to kill her? She almost wished he would. It would justify her plan to kill him.
And yet he claimed he meant her no harm. He'd clearly refrained from hurting her in the park. He'd refrained from attacking her last night in Austin's apartment. He claimed to drink blood from a bottle, and she'd seen him drink from a flask.
Emma closed her eyes and rubbed them. This was wishful thinking. She was attracted to him. She enjoyed talking to him, looking at him. She liked indulging in a fantasy of the brave, heroic warrior. And if he wore a kilt, so much the better.
But that's all it was. A fantasy. The reality was he'd existed for centuries by preying on innocent mortals. It was about time the tables were turned, and an innocent mortal preyed on him.
She leaned forward and typed him a message.
She held her breath and pushed Send.
There, it was done. She glanced at the computer clock. Three P.M. In little more than five hours, Angus MacKay would be dead.
He had worn something sexy.
Emma had been in the bathroom, applying a darker shade of lipstick than she normally wore, when she heard him call out to her from the living room. She fluffed up her hair, wished herself good luck in the mirror, and rushed into the bedroom. A quick glance at the bedside clock confirmed it was eight P.M. He was right on time.
She'd left the bedroom door slightly ajar, and she peered into the living room. Her mouth dropped open. No kilt, no sporran. He was wearing black jeans, a tight black T-shirt, and a black duster - all sexy. His long auburn hair was tied back with a black leather cord. Her heart squeezed in her chest. Oh God, why couldn't he be human? Over five hundred years old. They just didn't make men like this anymore.
She swung the door open, and he turned to look at her. His gaze lowered, taking in her short silk bathrobe. When his eyes returned to hers, she could see the heat sizzling to life. So far, so good.
"I'm running a bit behind. I still need to get dressed." She raised her arms to prop them against the door and doorjamb. His expression remained the same. She glanced down. Shoot. She'd practiced this maneuver a dozen times in front of the mirror. Her robe was belted loosely so when she raised her arms, it was supposed to come undone and accidentally cause her robe to fall open. But no, the robe had remained closed.
"Ye look fine to me." He motioned to the leather sofa. "Have a seat and we'll talk."
She forced a smile. What a mess. The trap was in the bedroom. "I - I need to get dressed. I'm practically naked."
The corner of his mouth lifted. "I doona object." He gestured toward the couch once more. "I'll be a gentleman."
She gritted her teeth. What was she supposed to do now? Yell at him, You're my love slave, get in the bedroom now! "I'm uh, really thirsty. Could you bring me a bottle of water from the fridge?"
She didn't wait to see how he would react to that. She turned and strode into the bedroom. She stopped in front of the bed and gripped the cast-iron railing of the bed's footboard. Shit. She was a lousy seductress. It just seemed wrong, somehow. Dishonest. She'd been trained, though, in her counter-terrorism classes, to expect one's hands to get dirty when fighting evil. The problem was, she hadn't seen any real proof that Angus was evil other than his status as a vampire.
She'd caught the other vampires in the act of raping and feeding. Angus had done nothing but ask to talk to her. Was his status as a vampire enough to warrant his execution? A few days ago she would have said yes. Now she wasn't sure.
She whirled around to face him. His eyes widened.
She glanced down. Brilliant. Now her robe decided to fall open. Her lacy black panties and bra didn't conceal much. "Thank you." She stepped forward with her arm extended.
He placed the water bottle in her hand, then gazed around the room.
He suspected something, she could tell. She unscrewed the top of the bottle and took a quick gulp. "I'd offer you something to drink, too - " She winced. "Actually, no, I wouldn't."
His mouth twitched. "That's all right. I drank quite a bit before coming."
"Is it true then? You drink all your meals from a bottle?"
"Aye." His gaze drifted south and lingered. "I no longer have to seduce a woman for food. I only make love when I truly wish to." His eyes met hers, and the heat was unmistakable.
She ignored the tingling sensation sweeping over her skin. "And you no longer use mind control to get what you want?"