He removed the camera's memory card and quickly downloaded Sunday night's recording. Then he inserted a fresh memory card into the camera and pushed record. Back at the table, he settled into a rickety chair and started watching the video from Sunday night. Boring. He pushed fast forward and poured himself a cup of coffee from his thermos. This was so damned boring, and it was getting him nowhere. Shanna could be dead by now.
His cell phone rang, and he flipped it open. "Whelan, here."
"This is Garrett. There's a... problem here in Brooklyn, sir."
With a sigh, Sean rose to his feet and looked out the window. Still no activity outside Draganesti's house. "What kind of problem?"
"Our bugs inside the Russian coven were destroyed."
"Dammit." Sean paced across the room. "Is the van all right, and our surveillance equipment?"
"I'm in the van now. Everything's fine, but all I get is static from the Russian house."
Sean muttered another curse. "You need to get back in. Plant some more bugs."
"That's kinda hard when the place is crawling with mafia thugs during the day."
"Is that my problem?" Sean snarled. "When did they discover the bugs? Did you get any recordings at all for the weekend?"
"Yes, I've been listening to them. The bugs went dead on Saturday night, right after Katya received a visitor. Some guy from Poland."
"Did you get his name?"
"Yeah. He introduced himself, said he was a friend of some guy named Casimir who was unhappy with Katya for killing Ivan Petrovsky. Then he said she needed to find the slayer or she was toast."
Sean walked back to his chair. "Slayer? What slayer?"
"I don't know. It seems that some vampire dude's been killing off some of the Russian vampires."
"Yeah." Garrett laughed. "I wish they'd all kill each other off. Anyway, it looks like this Janow dude will kill Katya if she doesn't deliver the slayer."
Sean froze. "What? Did you say - " His throat constricted. He couldn't say the name. "Who - who did you say he was?"
The phone tumbled from Sean's hand and clattered on the floor. He collapsed into the chair. Sweat popped out onto Sean's brow, and a stabbing pain pierced his gut. The bastard was back. The one who had wreaked revenge on Sean after he'd killed a vampire in Russia. The bastard hadn't attacked Sean. No, he was too cruel and sick for that.
Sean doubled over as the pain wrenched his gut. He covered his face to shut out the memory. Poor Darlene. How could he forgive himself? He'd controlled his wife's mind for so many years. Just to help her, of course. To help her adjust to living overseas, so she could be happy. It had been for her own good, but it had left her brain so easy to manipulate, to control.
Jedrek Janow had discovered her weakness. He'd called her to him, and like a robot, she had complied. Then Jedrek had delivered her back, naked and so drained of blood, she'd barely been alive. Thank God she'd recovered and had no memory of that hideous night.
But Sean remembered. He remembered every damned day.
Slowly he became aware that Garrett's voice was yelling on the phone. With a shaky hand, he picked up the phone. "Yes?"
"Sean, are you okay?"
"I - no." He glanced at the video still going in fast forward on his laptop. A black four-door sedan stopped in front of Draganesti's house. "Just a minute." He slowed the recording down.
Two kilted Scotsmen emerged from the front seat of the car. They peered around the neighborhood, then opened the back doors. On the street side, Roman Draganesti climbed out.
"Who, me?" Garrett asked. "Hey, I'm sorry about the bugs, but - "
"Quiet." Sean leaned forward to watch the second person emerge from the car onto the street. Whoever it was, he appeared to be getting assistance from a Scotsman. A blond head appeared.
Shanna! Sean caught his breath. "She - she was here! Sunday night."
Sean's mouth fell open as his daughter stepped away from the car. He blinked several times. It couldn't be true. She walked toward the steps to the townhouse. He quickly rewound the tape. It had to be a mistake. Maybe she'd just gained a lot of weight. He replayed the section where she was getting out of the car, then froze on the image of his daughter. His very pregnant daughter.
"That bastard." This was it. Draganesti had gone too far.
"Get over here." Sean jumped to his feet. "No, go to the office first. Arm yourself. I want weapons, silver bullets, handcuffs, and a battering ram."
"Are you serious?"
"Yes, and bring the girls with you. I want you all here in thirty minutes." Sean strode to the window and looked through the blinds at Draganesti's house. "We're going in."
"I don't think this is a good idea," Emma murmured from her crouched position behind an old dented Chevy with a mismatched passenger door.
"Don't be a wuss." Sean checked his pistol one more time, then stuffed it into his belt behind his back. He peeked over the Chevy's rusted trunk. "Coast is clear. Go, Garrett!"
Garrett dashed across the street, carrying the battering ram, and stopped, partially hidden behind the black Lexus four-door sedan parked in front of Draganesti's townhouse.
"Those bastards will pay for what they did to my daughter," Sean growled.
Emma groaned inwardly. This was a classic case of good news, bad news. The good news was she didn't have to tell Sean about his daughter's pregnancy because he already knew. The bad news was Sean was determined to break into Draganesti's house at night.
She considered urging her boss to invade during the day when the vampires were dead to the world, but she held her tongue. What if Angus was sleeping there during the day and Sean staked him?
"Do you have any evidence that your daughter is still in there?" Emma winced when Garrett tripped on the first stair leading up to Draganesti's front door. Any vampire with superior hearing would have heard Garrett's stumble and muttered curse.
"It doesn't matter," Sean insisted. "Those damned Scotsmen inside will know where she is."
Emma sighed. What if Angus was in there? What if he greeted her by name? She watched as Garrett approached the front door. "They have a camera there. They'll see him."
"Stop whining. It's bad enough Alyssa already left town. Now I'm stuck with just you." Sean motioned her to follow, then darted across the street. He stopped behind a tan SUV parked in front of the black Lexus.
Emma joined him. "They probably have us outnumbered."
Sean glanced over his shoulder at her. "I detect a lack of enthusiasm on your part."
"I'm fine. All revved up." Should she confess that she knew Angus before it was too late?
"You have the silver?"
"Yes, handcuffs and chains in my backpack." Only two handcuffs since Angus had broken the third, but Emma doubted this mission would succeed to the point they even needed the silver.
Sean reached behind his back for his revolver. "I'm going to enjoy shooting them full of holes."
A loud bang echoed as Garrett swung the battering ram into the front door.
Emma gasped. A body had suddenly appeared on the front steps behind Garrett. A youthful-looking vampire in a red and navy plaid kilt. He clobbered Garrett with the hilt of his sword, and their teammate crumpled onto the porch. The battering ram fell by the door.
"Dammit!" Sean dashed across the back end of the SUV. Emma followed, but screeched to a halt when the blunt end of a claymore crashed down on Sean's head. Another Scotsman had been waiting on the other side of the SUV for them to pass by. Sean's unconscious body fell to the sidewalk in front of her, and the Scotsman flipped his claymore so the sharp end now pointed at her.
She stepped back. An arm seized her from behind and yanked her back against a hard body.
A deep voice whispered softly in her ear. "Do we need to knock ye out, too, Emma?"
"Angus." His voice tickled the hairs on her neck and sent gooseflesh down her arms. She didn't know whether to melt against him or elbow him in the ribs.
"Ah, lass." His chin nestled against her temple. "What are ye doing here?"
"What will you do with them?" Emma noted the youthful-looking vampire binding Garrett's wrists and ankles with duct tape. "Please don't hurt them."
"Bugger," Angus growled. He took Emma by the shoulders and turned her to face him. "How many times must I say that we doona wish to harm ye?"
She searched his deep green eyes and could detect only frustration. "You knocked them out."
"Self-protection," muttered the Scotsman who was wrapping duct tape around Sean's ankles. "Why were ye attacking us?"
"Sean just found out about his daughter's pregnancy. Surely you can understand how upset that made him."
The Scotsman straightened and gave Angus a questioning look.
"Call Shanna," Angus ordered. "See if she wants to talk to him."
The Scotsman nodded. Stepping away, he pulled a cell phone from his sporran.
"Who is he?" Emma whispered.
"Connor Buchanan." Angus gestured toward Garrett. "The young-looking one is Ian MacPhie. They know who ye are."
Angus reached behind her back and confiscated her weapon. "Shame on ye, Emma." He dropped her pistol into his sporran. "I thought we were friends."
Heat rushed to her face, and she shoved the memory of his kiss away. "When I'm working with the Stake-Out team, I'm the enemy."
She instantly regretted her words. The tinge of pain in his eyes meant she had hurt him. His large hand curled around her arm, just above the elbow, and she swallowed hard. What was he going to do with her?
Connor walked toward them, dropping his cell phone in his sporran. "Shanna wants to see her father. She can be at Romatech in five minutes. Dougal's already there."
"Teleport Whelan there while he's still unconscious," Angus ordered. "Keep him bound, and doona take yer eyes off him."
Connor nodded. "I can handle him." He leaned over and swooshed Sean's limp body onto his shoulder with an ease that made Emma's mouth drop open. Were female vampires that strong, too? Connor vanished, taking Sean Whelan with him.
Emma blinked at the blank space. "How does he know where he's going?"
"Connor teleports to Romatech every night." Angus ushered her onto the sidewalk. "The journey is embedded in his psychic memory."
Emma allowed Angus to escort her toward the townhouse. What else could she do? If she ran away, he'd catch up with her in a second. But the scariest part of this wasn't him. It was a growing desire inside her to surrender completely. "What will you do with Garrett?"
Ian was examining Garrett's wallet and pulled out his driver's license. "I could just take him home."
Angus nodded. "Fair enough. If I remember correctly, this one has verra little psychic power. Erase his memory of us."
"Will do." Ian scooped up Garrett's body and strode toward the black sedan.
"Why erase his memory?" Emma winced as she watched Garrett getting tossed like a sack of potatoes into the backseat of the Lexus. "Sean will just retrain him."
"And that will keep him busy for a while." Angus released her and climbed the stairs to the front door. "We have bigger problems than the CIA to deal with right now."
"Like what?" She glanced back to see Ian driving off with Garrett.
Angus picked up the battering ram and examined it. "I suppose we could use this, though teleporting is much easier." He punched some numbers on the keypad by the front door, then opened it. He set the battering ram inside, then turned toward Emma with a questioning look.
She wondered what to do. She could walk away and hope to never see him again. That would be safe... and painful. Or she could venture inside and be alone with Angus MacKay.
A sad, resigned look settled on his face. "I understand if ye wish to leave. 'Tis for the best, most likely."
Since when had she done what was best for her? Ever since her parents' murders, she'd taken one risk after another. But somehow, Angus MacKay didn't seem like a risk. At least not a physical one. With him, it was her heart that was in danger.
She went up one step. Then another.
His sad expression took on a look of wonder. She felt it, too, as if she and Angus were alone in the world with a mysterious force drawing them together.
Her heart pounded in her ears. What was she doing? The heat between them would be too hard to resist. She'd end up in his arms again. Did she really want that? She paused at the doorway, giving him a wary look.
He arched a brow. "Is this another date?"
With a lift of her chin, she entered the townhouse. "I'm only here for the information I can learn." She winced when the door banged shut behind her. She turned in time to see him flipping the locks. "I reserve the right to leave whenever I wish."
"Of course ye do." A corner of his mouth tilted up. "Would ye like something to eat or drink? I'm feeling a bit peckish myself."
The minute Sean Whelan regained consciousness, he focused on self-control. No movement whatsoever to indicate he was awake. He kept his eyes shut, his body relaxed, his head slumped forward, but his senses alert. He appeared to be tied to a chair, a hard wooden one, he guessed by the slats pressing into the small of his back. The slight whir of air conditioning proved he was indoors. Footsteps paced behind him, steps made on a hard floor. Heavy steps, most probably made by one of those damned Scottish vampires.