She pushed away from him. "By dropping me off a roof?"
He glowered at her. "By showing ye how damned easy it is to kill you!" He marched away, muttering curses under his breath.
Emma stared at him. She'd always assumed his agenda was to save other vampires from her stakes, but now she wondered. Did he really care about her? She flinched when he pummeled a fist into the metal door that led to the stairwell. Even in the dark, she could see the dent he'd left behind.
"I'm sorry I frightened ye." He paced across the roof. "I just doona know how to get through to you."
"Why do you care what happens to me? Haven't you've seen thousands of mortals come and go?"
He stopped and looked at her. "I've never met a woman like you. Ye're different. Ye're... like me." He shrugged with an embarrassed look. "Well, ye're a hell of a lot better looking than me."
Emma made a face. "You think I'm like a vampire?"
"Like... you?" Her fantasy man. Except she'd always expected him to be alive 24/7. A chilly breeze ruffled her silk bathrobe and she shivered.
"Och, ye're cold." He strode toward her. "Shall I take ye back?"
"How do you do it?" She glanced over the waist-high wall to Austin's apartment building. "Do you simply look at a place and then go there?"
"Aye, or I can hear a voice and go. If it's a place I've been before, I can remember the way without a beacon."
"So, in just a few seconds, you could be in London or Paris?"
"Aye. Would ye like to see?"
She blinked. "Now? I'm not exactly dressed."
"Then I know exactly where to take ye." His arms enveloped her. "Will ye go out with me, Miss Wallace?"
"What? I - " She grabbed on to him. "This isn't a date."
He smiled slowly. "I believe it is."
Angus materialized in a familiar place - the Parisian office of Jean-Luc Echarpe. Emma stumbled, and he steadied her. An alarm went off, one that Angus had installed himself, that she couldn't hear. Jean-Luc heard it, though, for he jumped from his desk with a dagger pointed at them.
"Merde." He lowered the dagger. "You should warn me when you're coming."
The door burst open and Robby MacKay dashed in, his claymore drawn. "Och,'tis you." He hit a button by the door to turn off the alarm.
"Bonsoir, mademoiselle." Jean-Luc's gaze shifted to Emma. He looked her over curiously.
Angus kept an arm wrapped around her and gave his old friend a warning glare.
"Jean-Luc, Robby, this is Emma Wallace," Angus announced, keeping her close to his side. "Emma, this is Jean-Luc Echarpe."
"The famous fashion designer?" Her eyes widened. "Then we are in Paris?"
"Aye." Angus motioned toward the kilted Scotsman. "This is Robby, who works for me and guards Jean-Luc. He's something like a grandson."
"We forget how many greats should be in front." Robby bowed. "A pleasure to meet you, miss." He gave Angus a questioning look.
No doubt, they were wondering why he was teleporting about with a mortal woman. He was usually all business. "I... thought I'd take Miss Wallace on a picnic. Could ye find us a basket of food, Robby?"
Jean-Luc chuckled. "Ask Alberto. He'll know what to do."
"Verra well." Robby left the room with a stunned expression.
Angus winced inwardly. They acted like he'd never courted a woman before. Well, it had been a century or two. And it wasn't like he was courting Emma for romantic purposes. He merely wanted to gain her friendship and trust so they could work together against their common foe.
Then why did he still have his arm around her, claiming possession? He released her. "Miss Wallace needs... something to wear."
Emma glared at Angus and whispered, "I knew this would be embarrassing."
"Come." Jean-Luc led the way from his office. "The storeroom is downstairs. I'm sure we can find something suitable for a... picnic." He glanced back at Angus with a grin.
He was going to get teased about this for a hundred years, Angus realized. Showing up in the wee hours of the morning with a barefoot, half-naked mortal woman.
Jean-Luc showed them the official showroom where a handful of his latest creations were on display. Then he took them to a large room where rack after rack of clothes were stored.
"Oh my God," Emma whispered as she studied a price tag. "I can't afford this."
Her eyes widened. "I can't accept a gift from you. It's against regulations."
Jean-Luc snorted. "Come, you two. That is no way to start a night of romance."
The Frenchman smiled. "How about this - I will loan you anything you want for the night, and Angus can return it later." He slanted Angus a teasing look. "As long as it is not torn."
Angus scoffed. "I'm no' going to tear her clothes."
"A pity," Jean-Luc muttered, then motioned to the racks. "Help yourself, mademoiselle."
"That's very kind of you." Emma wandered off.
Jean-Luc drew closer to Angus. "You old dog. I never knew you had such good taste."
Angus folded his arms across his chest. "This is business."
"I mean it. I'm gaining her confidence so she'll stop slaying."
Angus nodded. "Doona be fooled by her sweet face and beautiful body. She's a fierce and clever warrior."
Jean-Luc shrugged. "Nothing." He turned away, then muttered, "First Roman, and now you."
"There is nothing happening between us."
"Right." Jean-Luc patted him on the back. "I wish you two the best."
Angus snorted and walked away. Jean-Luc was making too much of this. He located Emma three racks down. She was studying some black dress pants.
Pants? Why did she always cover up her lovely legs? Something in a golden-amber color caught his attention and he grabbed it off the rack. "I like this. It reminds me of your eyes."
She gave it a dubious look. "It's a dress. A gorgeous dress, but I don't wear dresses."
"Sweetheart, this is no' a karate tournament ye're going to. 'Tis a picnic."
"A picnic in Paris, wearing designer clothes?" She shook her head. "It's all a bit hard to believe." She stepped closer. "Are those other guys vampires, too?"
"They're my friends, Emma. Are ye planning to kill them?"
"No, I'll behave." She swatted his arm. "Besides, where would I hide stakes in my underwear?"
He smiled. "I could pat ye down just to be safe."
He chuckled and handed her the dress. "Will ye try it?"
Ten minutes later, she was looking grand in the golden dress with a pair of sparkly golden sandals.
Robby had their basket of food ready. He grinned, but wisely kept his mouth shut.
Jean-Luc liked to live more dangerously. "Enjoy your date," he called after them as they headed for the front door.
Angus shot him a glare that promised retaliation in the near future. Jean-Luc merely laughed.
They emerged from Jean-Luc's studio onto the Champs-Elys. The street was lit up and noisy, even at four in the morning. The Arc de Triomphe gleamed in the distance.
Emma grinned. "This is great! Sure beats sitting on a plane for eight hours."
"Aye." Angus pointed at lights in the distance. "That looks like a good spot."
"Aye." He wrapped an arm around her. "Hold on."
Blackness swirled around them for a few seconds, then melted away. They were standing on the top level of the Eiffel Tower, looking down at the City of Lights.
Emma peered over the railing. "This is cool." She hugged herself. "But a bit chilly."
"Here." Angus offered her his coat. While she put it on, he flipped open the tartan blanket Robby had placed on top of the basket.
Emma sat and rummaged through the basket. "Wow, real food." She removed bread, cheese, and grapes. A bottle of wine. "I hope there's something in here for you."
He found a bottle. "This is for me." He popped the cork. Foam bubbled out, so he held the bottle to the side.
"It looks like champagne." Emma handed him a glass.
"'Tis called Bubbly Blood, a mixture of champagne and synthetic blood." He filled the glass. "Would ye like some?"
"No way." She watched him curiously as he drank. "I've seen the commercials for Fusion Cuisine on DVN, but I thought it was a joke 'cause I've seen vampires feeding off humans."
"Those are the Malcontents who refuse to drink from bottles. They enjoy torturing mortals." Angus opened her bottle of wine. "They're our sworn enemies. We've been fighting them for centuries."
"Then Shanna Whelan's claim is correct? There are two factions of vampires?"
"Aye." He filled her glass with wine. "Ye see, Emma, we share a common enemy, the Malcontents. And our goal is the same, too - protecting the innocent." He handed her the glass. "We should be... good friends."
She accepted the glass. "I'll have to think about it."
"I understand." He leaned back against the grill-work. "Ye were just trying to kill me an hour ago."
She nibbled on some cheese. "I'm struggling with this idea of good vampires. I suppose Jean-Luc and Robby are like you?"
"Aye. Robby is a descendant of mine. I found him dying on the field at Culloden." Angus closed his eyes briefly. "I lost so many of my family that day."
"I can't imagine witnessing something so horrific." Emma shuddered.
She flinched. "I don't want to talk about it." She sipped some wine. "Tell me about yourself. When were you born?"
"And you have descendants? So you... were married?"
"Aye. Three children." Angus quickly changed the subject. "I was mortally wounded at Flodden Field in 1513. Roman found me that night. I was barely alive. I thought I was dreaming when I heard this voice asking me if I was willing to continue the fight against evil. I thought it was an angel. I said yes." He smiled. "And not just because I wanted into heaven. I was pissed about dying so young. I really wanted to do more."
"Were you upset when you realized you were a vampire?"
He shrugged. "I was a bit surprised. I dinna know such creatures existed. But I never felt bad about it like Roman. I realized early on that death hadna changed me. I was still the same, only much better."
She threw a grape at him. "Vampire arrogance."
He smiled. "'Tis only the truth. We can do things a mortal could never do."
"You can't go out in the sun."
"But we can live for centuries."
She pulled off a hunk of bread. "Tell me about the past - places you went, people you met."
Angus launched into some of his favorite stories about meeting Mary, Queen of Scots, and hiding Bonnie Prince Charlie. Emma was full of questions, and he enjoyed seeing how comfortable she now was in his presence. She was able to laugh with him and tease him.
After an hour, he corked his half-empty bottle of Bubbly Blood and set it in the basket. "I'm afraid dawn will come soon, and we need to go."
"All right." She gathered up the remnants of her meal and returned them to the basket. "I... hate to admit it, but I really enjoyed this."
"You mean our date?"
She shot him an irritated look. "This is not a date."
He chuckled. "I'm satisfied as long as ye know I'm no' yer enemy. Ye can trust me." He'd enjoyed it, too. More than any evening he could remember.
She stood and brushed bread crumbs off his coat.
He jumped up and folded the blanket.
"I made a mistake." She folded her arms, frowning. "I got carried away, listening to all your stories about the past."
He placed the blanket in the basket. "There was nothing wrong with that."
She shook her head. "I should have gathered more information about the Malcontents. I should have found out where you're holding Shanna Whelan."
"My boss thinks she's been brainwashed. His first priority is to rescue her."
Angus snorted. "She's perfectly happy where she is. Is it that hard to believe a mortal woman can love a vampire?"
Angus swallowed hard. Deep inside, a need was growing. An impossible desire. He wanted what Roman had. The love of a mortal woman.
Emma picked up the basket. "How do we get down from here?"