She had not. She'd forbidden him to ever see his children again. In anger, he'd disobeyed and watched them grow over the years. And watched them die.

If he pursued Emma, wouldn't he be asking for that same pain and despair all over again? He would have to watch her die. If they had mortal children, using Roman's scientific technique, he would have to witness their deaths, too.

"Are you all right?" Roman asked quietly as he gave Angus a quick hug.

Angus noted the sharpening of Roman's eyes. Bugger. Roman could always see right through him. "Could we talk later?"

"Of course." Roman stepped aside for his wife.

"Angus, it's so good to see you." Shanna kissed his cheek.

She laughed. "More like mucho grande."

"She's about to pop," Gregori muttered, then winced when Connor elbowed him in the ribs.

"I feel like bursting." Shanna rubbed her enormous belly. "The baby's already dropped."

"We've decided to induce labor this Friday night." Roman guided her back to the couch. "That way, we can be sure the Vamp doctors will be awake and ready."

"Ye have more than one doctor?" Angus asked as he rounded the middle couch to take a seat next to the priest.

"Two, just to be safe. I'm not taking any chances." Roman helped Shanna sit.

"You worry too much." She settled on the couch. "This baby is perfectly fine."

Roman sat beside her, frowning. "I've prepared a delivery room at Romatech. Just in case."

In case the bairn wasn't human? Angus could understand Roman's reluctance to have Shanna deliver in a mortal hospital.

Shanna shook her head. "I'm telling you, this baby is perfectly normal. It kicks me during the day as much as night."

"I agree," Father Andrew said. "I've been praying, and I have a very good feeling about this child."

"Thank you. Gregori's mother said the same thing." Shanna took Roman's hand and smiled at him. "And you know Radinka is never wrong."

Father Andrew turned toward Angus. "Roman has been telling me some fascinating things about you."

"All lies, for certain."

The priest smiled. "Then you weren't knighted for heroism during World War II?"

Angus shrugged. "That was over sixty years ago."

"Aye, and he's been a coward ever since," Connor added with twinkling eyes.

Angus gave his old Scottish friend an annoyed look while everyone laughed.

Ian marched into the room with a tray full of drinks. He set the tray on the coffee table and handed a glass of ice water to Shanna, then a glass of wine to the priest. All the Vamps helped themselves to an empty glass.

Connor grabbed the bottle of Blissky and poured himself a drink. "Grand stuff, Roman." He passed the bottle to Gregori.

Gregori filled his glass to the brim, then passed the bottle to Angus.

"I'm glad you like it." Roman accepted the bottle next, then passed it on to Ian.

Connor stood, raising his glass in the air. "To Shanna, Roman, and the bairn. May ye be healthy and happy."

Everyone murmured in agreement and drank.

"What have you been up to, Angus?" Shanna asked. "We heard you went on a picnic."

Angus glared at them. "It was business. I've been trying to talk sense into the vampire slayer."

Connor snorted. "Talk sense to a female? That's doomed from the beginning."

"Begging yer pardon." Connor raised a hand in peace. "Unfortunately, this particular female works for yer father, and I'm certain he's poisoned her mind against us."

"Probably so." Shanna nodded, then turned to Angus. "Would you like me to talk to her? She might listen to another mortal."

"I'm doing fine," Angus grumbled. "I can handle it."

"There's no reason for ye to do it alone," Connor said.

Angus shot him an irritated look. "I'm doing well. We made a great deal of progress tonight."

Gregori snorted with laughter. "Yeah, we heard. She was barefoot and half - ouch." He glared at Connor, who'd elbowed him in the ribs.

"Did ye convince her to stop slaying?" Connor asked.

Angus shrugged. "Somewhat. She trusts me now." He glanced down to make sure his long coat covered up the bulge in his pants. His erection had gone down quite a bit, but the jeans were still uncomfortably tight. He should have worn his kilt.

"There's something different about you." Roman studied Angus. "I know. You're not carrying your claymore. That's highly unusual."

Angus shrugged. "I could hardly convince her I mean no harm if I was armed."

"Well, I think it's sweet," Shanna announced. "A picnic in Paris in the spring. Very romantic. I'm proud of you."

Angus gulped down some Blissky, too aware of the amused glances from the male Vamps in the room.

"Are you injured?" Father Andrew gestured to Angus's wrist, which was still red and raw with welts.

"I had an encounter with a pair of silver handcuffs," Angus grumbled. "Nothing I couldn't handle."

Gregori sat forward, his eyes twinkling. "She handcuffed you? Boy, she's hot."

Connor frowned. "That doesna sound like progress to me."

"I think you should let me talk to her," Shanna insisted.

"No." Roman shook his head. "If you arrange a meeting with Miss Wallace, she might let your father know, and he would try to kidnap you."

"Roman's right," Angus said. "Emma told me that rescuing you is your father's top priority. She's starting to trust me, but that trust is verra new. She only learned tonight about the difference between Vamps and Malcontents, and she's still struggling with the idea that some of us can be decent folk."

"You know what, guys?" Gregori set his drink on the table. "This is a marketing problem."

"But you are," Gregori insisted. "You're trying to sell the idea that good Vamps really do exist. The problem is, we don't have a product name to differentiate ourselves from the bad vampires."

"But we are vampires," Angus countered. "And I doona claim to be good."

"But you have a good heart," Father Andrew said. "There is a world of difference between you and a Malcontent."

"I think Gregori's on to something." Shanna sipped her ice water. "The Malcontents have a name, the True Ones. Why don't you guys have a name, too?"

"Hmm." Gregori lounged back against the sofa cushions. "A name." He contemplated the ceiling with narrowed eyes. "How about Nonbiters? Bottle Guzzlers? Friendly Fangsters? Ouch! That was my foot." He glared at Connor.

"I know." Connor glared back. "Ye made the mistake of calling me friendly."

While everyone laughed, Roman stood and motioned to Angus to join him. Angus rose and strode to the door.

"I've got it!" Shanna announced. "Fang-free and proud to be me!"

Roman chuckled as he motioned to the room across the foyer. Angus sauntered into the library, a room with bookshelves on three sides of the room and a large curtained window on the wall adjoining the street.

Roman shut the double doors, then took a seat in one of the leather wingback chairs by the window. Angus strolled about the room. He could feel his friend waiting but hardly knew how to begin. He'd always been better with a sword than with words. In fact, his words tended to cut just as sharply. He wandered along the bookshelves, looking at books without really seeing them.

Finally he stopped. "I... I had a mortal wife and children."

"My wife... rejected me and remarried, since to her way of thinking, I was already dead."

"That must have hurt."

"It did." Angus paced about the room. "But in time, I realized she was right. A marriage between a mortal and a vampire canna work."

"Even after my wife's betrayal, it pained me to see her grow old and die. And seeing my children die was more than any man should bear."

Roman's mouth thinned. "You feel compelled to tell me this now? When my son is about to be born?"

"I doona wish ye any ill will, Roman. Ye're like a brother to me. I just doona want ye to endure the pain that I did."

Roman sighed. "I knew when I married Shanna that I could lose her. But Angus, she has brought me great joy. Should I turn my back on all that happiness for fear of what could happen down the road?"

"Ye're a braver man than I." Angus continued to pace. "Shanna is a loving soul, understanding of our condition. Yet still, she doesna want to become one of us."

"I'm glad she chose to remain mortal. We couldn't be having a child now, if she were undead. And once the baby is born, she can be there for him during the day. As much as I would love to have Shanna with me for all eternity, I must put the needs of my child first."

Angus frowned. "I heard about our DNA mutation, that we're no longer quite human."

"And you're concerned about the baby? We all are, but there's nothing to be done now. It's in God's hands."

A half-vampire baby? Angus resumed his pacing. "Shanna is no' upset over this?"

Roman smiled. "She's the least upset of any of us. She's very happy and excited."

"Ye're a fortunate man. No' many women would be as understanding as she." Angus raised a hand to look at a book, then spotted the red welts on his wrist. The injury would heal during his daily death-sleep, but the worry in his heart would remain. "Most women wouldna be able to love a vampire."

There was a long pause when he could feel Roman watching him. Bugger. He'd probably said too much.

Roman cleared his throat. "You're convinced a relationship between a mortal and a vampire cannot work?"

"Why do I get the feeling you're not referring to Shanna and me?"

The devil take it. Angus turned his back to Roman and pretended to be studying book titles. Footsteps approached.

Roman leaned a shoulder against the bookshelf. "The slayer?"

Angus took a deep breath and nodded. "The relationship is a wee... volatile."

Roman smiled. "I wouldn't expect anything less from you."

"I dinna expect to feel this way." Angus paced away. "What is wrong with me that I keep falling for the enemy?"

Roman folded his arms across his chest. "If you're referring to Katya, she purposely seduced you."

"She let you think that, Angus. You wanted to reform her, but all along, she's was trying to change you, trying to make you one of her evil cohorts."

"No. She never intended to change, Angus. She used you."

Was that true? Angus resumed his pacing about the room. If Roman was right, then he'd been a fool to ever involve himself with Katya. And now was he being a fool again? "The devil take it. I keep repeating the same mistake, falling for the woman most likely to destroy me."

"Not necessarily. Katya has an evil heart. I don't know the slayer, but I doubt she's evil."

"Nay, Emma's brave and good. She's been risking her life to protect the innocent."

"How does she feel about you?"

Angus swallowed hard. "She hates vampires with a passion, but she - I think she could like me."

"I'm sure she can if she spends more time with you."

"That's what has me confused." Angus strode to the window and sat. "She kissed me back like she was enjoying it, but now she wants to stay away from me and act like it dinna happen."

"So am I." Angus rested his head in his hands. "I should leave her alone. But I don't dare leave her unprotected. If the Malcontents catch her, they'll kill her for certain. I swear that would kill me."

"Then you must continue to protect her," Roman concluded.

Angus nodded. "I will protect her. But I'll keep my distance. No more kissing. I willna risk a situation that could break my heart. Or break hers."

Roman shrugged. "It's not my decision. I just hope you're not throwing away something wonderful."

Angus shook his head. "Even if she could care for me, how could it possibly work?"

"Some things you have to risk on faith." Roman gave him a pointed look. "Believe me, old friend, some things are worth the risk."

In her office in Brooklyn, Katya read the lengthy e-mail from Galina one more time. Galina had teleported to Paris on Saturday night, then to the Ukraine on Sunday. She'd traveled with two vampire lovers, Burien and Miroslav, and the three of them had taken control of the minds of the nearby villagers they were feeding on. The village men were put to work, repairing Galina's manor house and preparing the prison cell for the vampire slayers and Angus MacKay.

Katya clenched her fists. It was about time Angus MacKay had been made to suffer.