Sean didn't dare send out psychic probes to read his captor's mind. A vampire would feel it and know his victim was awake. Sean listened to the pacing till he had a feel for the rhythm. Then he waited for the pacer to reach his farthest point to the left, a time when the pacer would have his back turned. Then Sean strained at the bindings on his wrists. No luck. Too tight. His ankles, too. He leaned forward as if his unconscious body was about to tumble on the floor, but ropes across his chest restrained him. The Scottish bastard had tied him to the chair.
The footsteps came closer and stopped just to his left. Sean could feel those demonic eyes studying him. He struggled to breathe normally, but his heart raced. What kind of torture did the bastards plan for him? God help him, if they tried to transform him, he would find a way to kill himself first.
Sean flinched at the deep voice so close to his ear. And his neck.
"I can hear yer heart pounding. I can smell yer blood rushing through you."
Sean turned his head toward the voice and opened his eyes. "Go to hell."
The Scotsman straightened and narrowed his blue eyes. "I will, most likely. But ye'll be there long before I will."
A door flung open, and Sean's breath hitched at the sight of his pregnant daughter. "Shanna!" He strained at his bindings.
"Dad." She rushed toward him.
The Scotsman stopped her. "No' too close."
She frowned at him, then at Sean. "Why not? What can he do? You have him all tied up."
The Scotsman crossed his arms. "And that is how he will stay."
Sean rocked forward, trying to get onto his feet. "You see how they treat us, Shanna?" He wiggled his chair toward her. "What have they done to you? I swear I'll kill them all."
The Scotsman dashed around him in a blur. Two hands clamped down on his shoulders from behind. He couldn't budge.
"Doona threaten us, mortal." The Scotsman leaned forward. "Ye wouldna want to see me angry."
Sean glanced to the side just in time to see the Scotsman bare his teeth. With a hiss, his fangs shot out.
The Scotsman's fangs slowly receded into his gums. He gave Sean a warning look, then released him.
Shanna shook her head. "Really, Connor. How can I convince my dad you're the good guys when you act like that?"
Connor stepped back, folding his arms across his broad chest. "My apologies." He slanted a look toward Sean that was anything but apologetic.
"Shanna." Sean turned to his daughter. "I need to talk to you in private."
"Do you think I would harm my own child?" Sean shouted, then looked at Shanna. "Don't you see what they're doing? They never leave you alone, do they? They never let you make a decision. They're controlling you."
"It was my decision to see you." Shanna crossed the small room to a table against the wall. She pulled out a chair and sat.
Sean glanced at the mirror that spanned the entire wall above the table. He and Shanna showed up in it, but the Scotsman wasn't reflected. "We're being watched?"
Shanna glanced at the mirror behind her. "Yes. My husband and another guard are on the other side."
Sean looked to his left to see if the Scotsman was still there. He was. It was unnerving how he didn't show up in the mirror. "This is an interrogation room."
Shanna laughed. "No. You're at Romatech. This room is used for marketing research." She motioned to the mirror behind her. "That's the observation room."
"You're always watched, aren't you? You're a prisoner." Sean wondered for the millionth time if he'd made a huge mistake by not telling Shanna what the vampires had done to her mother. But he couldn't stand for anyone to know how Darlene had been punished for his mistakes. And he'd worried that Shanna would tell her mother the truth.
"Dad, you have to believe me. I married Roman because I wanted to. I love him, and he loves me."
"He's a demon!" Sean shouted. "Look what he's done to you. How could he get you pregnant? Did he pimp you out to other men?"
"What?" Shanna scrambled to her feet.
Shanna marched toward him, a hand placed protectively on top of her huge belly. "My husband is the father of this child. How dare you accuse me or him - "
"That's impossible," Sean hissed. "He's dead. He can't father a child. Goddammit, Shanna, he's duped you. He's controlled your mind and used you like a prostitute!"
The door swung open with a bang, and Roman Draganesti stepped inside. His dark eyes blazed with anger. "No one speaks to my wife like that, not even her father."
"You can't be this baby's father," Sean insisted.
Roman strode toward him, his jaw clenched. "Your disbelief does not give you the right to insult your daughter."
Shanna touched his arm. "I can handle this."
Roman stopped. His face softened when he regarded Shanna. Sean could only hope that meant the vampire didn't abuse her.
His daughter and the demon gazed at each other for a while, then Roman bowed his head. "I will be watching. Be careful. I don't want you upset right now."
Shanna smiled at him. "I'll be fine."
Roman turned to glare at Sean. "I'm only leaving so you can see that Shanna is the one in charge here. I would do anything for her."
The Scotsman cuffed him on the back of the head.
"My apologies," Connor growled. "I have verra little patience with morons."
Sean flinched, recalling how his wife had been controlled and molested. He glared at Roman's back as he left the room.
"You should get used to him," Shanna said quietly. "He's going to be my husband for a very long time."
Sean stiffened. "He's going to transform you?"
"And risk killing his own child? Don't be silly."
"How can this child be his?" Shanna patted her belly. "Roman is a brilliant scientist. He used live human sperm with his own DNA - "
"What?" Sean strained at the duct tape around his wrists. "That bastard's performing experiments on you. Shanna, you have to get out of here."
The Scotsman grabbed his shoulders to keep him still.
Shanna stepped closer. "I wanted this baby. I have a wonderful, loving, brilliant husband, and we're going to have a baby. Why can't you be happy for me?"
"Because you married a monster! And you're about to give birth to - " Sean gasped when the full import washed over him. A half-breed baby? A child monster? "Oh God, Shanna. What have you done?"
Her eyes narrowed. "I'm bringing a child into this world who will be blessed with two loving parents. That's more than Roman experienced. It's more than I had, too."
Sean gritted his teeth. "I knew it. You're doing this to get back at me. You were always the rebellious one."
"You mean the one you sent away because you couldn't control me." Shanna's face flushed with anger. "Give me some credit for once in your life. If you couldn't control my mind, what makes you think my husband can?"
Sean blinked. A horrible feeling swept over him. "You - you want this? They're not controlling you?"
Anger seized him so hard, he trembled. "Then you are a traitor to mankind."
Shanna sighed. She glanced back at the mirror with an exasperated look. "He's hopeless."
Sean glared at Connor. "Get your filthy hands off me."
Connor tightened his grip, and Sean steeled his face to show no pain.
"Connor." Shanna motioned for him to release Sean, and he did. "Dad, I chose to talk to you tonight, because I wanted to assure you that I'm all right."
Sean snorted. About to give birth to a demon baby, and she called that all right?
"I also wanted to tell you what's going on. My husband and his followers are not the monsters you think they are. They take their meals from a bottle."
Sean snorted again. "Are you saying your husband has never bitten you?"
"Aha!" Sean leaned forward. "How often does that bastard feed off you?"
"Never," Shanna insisted. "Roman invented synthetic blood so he and other Vamps like him would never have to harm another mortal again."
"The Malcontents do," she continued. "They're an evil bunch who enjoy hurting mortals. They are our enemy."
"No!" Shanna planted her fists on her hips. "You have to stop persecuting the good Vamps. They're trying to protect mortals."
"Aye," Connor added. "Ye should let us take care of the Malcontents."
Sean shook his head. "Vampires killing other vampires? I'll never believe it."
"Why not?" Shanna asked. "Haven't you heard of humans killing other humans? Think about it. You know Ivan Petrovsky was killed by other vampires. It happens."
"Ye need to leave us alone." Connor circled the chair to stand in front of Sean. "The Malcontents are raising an army. If we doona defeat them, humanity will suffer greatly for it."
Sean swallowed hard. "You're just trying to trick me, to scare me off." Was this all a pack of lies? He had to know. There was no way he could invade a vampire mind, but there was a human here. He gathered up his psychic power and targeted his daughter with a full assault.
She stumbled back, taken by surprise.
Connor steadied her. "Are ye all right, lass?"
Glaring at her father, Shanna shoved all his power back with so much force, he rocked back in his chair. Shit. She was incredibly strong.
"Are you convinced now?" she asked quietly. "No one can control me."
She turned away. "Take him away, Connor."
He gasped when the Scotsman picked him up, chair and all. "What are you doing?"
Shanna regarded him sadly. "By the way, your grandson will be born Friday night."
"He's not my grand - " Sean's voice broke off when everything went black.
Angus knew he should say something comforting to assure Emma she was perfectly safe, but he didn't. He couldn't. It irked him that she'd participated in Sean Whelan's attack. And that simmering anger made him want to torment her. Or kiss her senseless.
Better to keep his distance. He strode toward the kitchen. "Ye're sure ye want nothing to drink? We have stuff like soft drinks and juice in the fridge."
"You do? Why?" She kept watching him with that wary look, as if he might swoop down on her neck any second now. It was a beautiful neck with pale, tender skin, but that didn't mean he wanted to punch holes in it. Kissing, though, would be very...
He shook his head, struggling to keep up with the conversation. Oh, aye, her surprise over mortal drinks. "The mortals who guard the house during the day get thirsty."
"You have human guards during the day?"
"Aye. They're verra good. And trustworthy. They work for me." He paused with a hand on the swinging door. "Anything to drink?"
She hesitated. "Some... water, thank you."
A safe choice. She'd be able to taste if anything odd was added. Bugger. Had he lost her trust so easily? "Make yerself at home," he muttered, then couldn't help but add, "If ye try to escape, an alarm will sound."
He strode into the kitchen to avoid the worried look on her face. The devil take it. He was already pissed. Why was he goading her and making it worse?
He grabbed a bottle of Type O blood from the fridge and popped it into the microwave. Maybe her distrust was a blessing. He could use it to keep a distance between them.
He fixed her a glass of ice water and removed his bottled blood from the microwave. The foyer was empty, but he spotted her in the library. She was wandering along the bookshelves, examining the books. It had been only last night that he'd stood in this same room, confiding in Roman and declaring his intent to protect Emma from a distance.
And yet here she was - alone in the house with him.
She spun toward him. "I - I didn't hear you come in."
He held the glass out to her, and she reluctantly took it. Bugger. "Do ye think I'm poisoning you?"
"Ye act like I can no longer be trusted. I thought we'd gotten past that."
"We have." She gulped down some water.
"Then why do ye keep looking at me strangely?"
"I'm not. I'm just not sure this... friendship is a good idea. It's causing me trouble at work."
"Really? Ye seemed happy enough to attack us alongside Whelan."
She sighed and walked into the foyer. "I tried to talk him out of it, but the man won't listen to reason. He's not going to believe anything I've learned from you. And I'm in an awful position. He had a photo of you tonight, and I had to lie that I don't know you."