She glared at him. "Don't look so happy about it. This whole thing has me in such an awkward situation."
She rotated the glass in her hands. "I'm upset about another murder in Central Park. I know you don't want me to go hunting - "
She gave him an exasperated look. "But you said the Malcontents are your enemy, too. Why don't you help me slay them? Wouldn't that be the friendly thing to do?"
Ah, so that was the problem. He gave her a reassuring smile. "We are friends." He motioned to the parlor. "Let's have a wee chat."
"Fine." She strode into the parlor. "Nice room." She circled to the right around the three maroon couches. "Big telly. I suppose you watch a lot of DVN."
He waited by the door, sipping from his bottle. "No' much, really. I usually work all night."
She set her ice water on the coffee table. "Don't you get vacations? You know, a week off every fifty years or so?"
"Verra funny." He headed toward the couch to the left. "I give my employees a few weeks every year."
"What about you?" She removed her backpack and dropped it on the couch to the right.
He ignored her question, since he couldn't remember his last vacation. "What's in yer backpack?"
"The usual party favors. Wooden stakes, silver handcuffs, whips and chains." She settled on the couch next to the backpack. "You'll be proud of me. I even brought duct tape."
"Ye're a fast learner." He sat across from her on the left couch. "I'll be keeping yer backpack."
"What? Are you trying to get me fired?"
Angus leaned forward to set his bottle on the coffee table. "Ye can tell yer boss that I took it forcibly from you."
She rose to her feet, glaring at him. He immediately stood.
"I need my weapons to go hunting. And I thought, since you're my friend, that you would come with me. After all, you claim to be worried about my safety."
"I am, but you doona know the full story." He motioned to the couch. "I'll tell you."
He took his seat. "The Malcontents believe the slayer is one of Roman's coven. They assume only a vampire could manage to kill another vampire."
"They have promised to declare war on Roman's coven if another Malcontent is slain."
She frowned. "So you want me to stop in order to save the lives of Roman's coven?"
"To keep a war from breaking out."
She jumped to her feet. "Damn you. You want to save vampires, but you're willing to let innocent humans die?"
He stood. "'Tis no' like that. Believe me, when a war breaks out, vampires and humans both die. The carnage is great. You doona want to see it."
She clenched her fists. "So we do nothing? You just let the Malcontents kill humans whenever they like because you're afraid of a bloody war?"
She folded her arms, glowering at him.
He stepped toward her. "Emma, trust me."
With a huff, she sat. "This had better be good."
He sat on the center couch. "The Malcontents will only declare war if we kill one of their coven. We can still police the park and keep them from murdering innocents."
"So we catch them in the act and then... slap their wrists and let them go?"
"Actually, I thought we'd scare the hell out of them."
Her mouth twitched. "That's not too bad."
"I'm glad ye approve." He picked up his bottle and took a long drink.
"So how long have you been fighting the Malcontents?"
He sighed. "As long as I can remember. Their leader, Casimir, is the one who transformed Roman. He tried to force Roman to do evil things, but Roman escaped and began transforming Vamps like me. Eventually we had an army, and we marched on the Malcontents."
She stood. "You went to war with them?"
With a silent groan, he stood. Why couldn't she sit still longer than two minutes? "Aye. 'Twas the Great Vampire War of 1710. I was the general on our side."
Her mouth gaped. "Wicked. You killed a bunch of Malcontents?"
"Aye, I did." He removed his sporran since her gun inside was weighing heavily against his groin.
She gave him a curious look. "Why are you standing?"
He winced inwardly. "Because ye are."
"Nay. 'Tis a... silly habit. I lived through several centuries where a man had to stand whenever a lady did."
She let out a short laugh. "You mean you're an old-fashioned gentleman?"
He scowled at her. "Ye mean ye never noticed?"
"A vampire gentleman?" She grinned. "That sounds like an oxymoron."
"I'm perfectly capable of being rude," he growled.
"I can believe that." She moved to the middle couch and flopped down.
With a sigh of relief, he sat.
"So I guess you started your company back in 1927? You're Angus the Third and Fourth and Alexander, too?"
"Aye." He bowed his head. "Angus Alexander MacKay, at yer service."
"Such a gentleman." Her mouth tilted up. "Did you ever let Angus the Third or Alexander go on vacation?"
"Now ye're just mocking me."
She grinned. "Which one of you was knighted?"
"Oh, right. I've heard that memory goes with age."
He arched a brow at her. "My memory is fine."
"Then you remember why you were knighted?"
She waited, then gave him an exasperated look. She scooted down the couch to be closer. "Why don't you tell me?"
"I can keep a secret. I haven't told anyone about you."
"Ye're trying to keep yer job."
She made a face at him. "Come on. I won't tell."
"Ye'll swear by the official Angus oath?"
"I doona know." He smiled. "I just made it up."
She laughed. "I'll swear, as long as there's no biting involved."
"No biting." His gaze meandered down her body. She was sitting very close to him now. "I will never harm you."
Her smile faded. She glanced away. "I don't want to hurt you, either."
He swallowed hard. He didn't know if this friendship was good or bad. He enjoyed talking to her, but his hands itched to hold her. Just being in the same room with her was becoming torture.
She cleared her throat. "So why were you knighted?"
"Some Royal Air Force lads were shot down over occupied France. The Germans claimed they were all dead, but we suspected some had survived and were being held in secret and tortured."
She touched his arm. "How terrible."
"My mission was to teleport from a plane into enemy territory, locate the lads, and teleport them to safety. I erased their memories afterward."
She rose to her feet. "That's brilliant!"
"Oh, sorry." She laughed, then resumed her seat. "How many people in the British government know about you?"
He sat beside her. "Three. The queen, the head of MI6, and the prime minister. When they leave their office, I erase their memory of me."
Angus was halfway up when he realized it was a false alarm. She was simply repositioning herself by tucking a foot beneath her. He sat back down.
Her mouth twitched. "What sort of favors did you do for the queen?"
"One of her dogs got lost in Hyde Park, and I found it for her."
He gave her an irritated look. "Ye doona realize how important her dogs are to her."
Emma smiled as she reached for her glass of ice water on the coffee table. She took a sip, then winced. "Oh, sorry." She swiped at the wet ring on the table.
She stood, looking around the room. "Don't you have any coasters?"
He stood also. "Doona worry about it."
She noticed he was standing and snickered. "Such a gentleman."
"'Tis no' funny. I've never seen such a jumpy lass. I swear ye're part rabbit."
Grinning, she set her glass down. Her amber eyes twinkled with mirth. "You make a good rabbit yourself." She sat halfway down, then popped back up.
Angus jerked back to a standing position while she giggled. The devil take it, she was playing with him.
She sat. "Consider this your aerobic exercise for the day."
He sat. "Are ye done?"
"No." She jumped to her feet.
"Enough!" He grabbed her about the waist and pulled her down. She landed, laughing, on his lap.
He chuckled. His hands glided up her back.
Her laughter faded with a long sigh. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have teased you." She looked at him with that wary expression and tried to move off his lap.
He held her in place. "Ye're doing it again."
Her face went blank. "Doing what?"
"Looking at me like I'm some kind of frightening monster."
"No, I'm not. It's... nothing." A blush washed over her cheeks, a beautiful blood-pink blush.
Bugger. Nothing turned him on faster than a woman's blush, especially when the blush was caused by him. He could smell the blood filling her cheeks like a maddening perfume. His groin instantly responded. "Are ye afraid I'll kiss ye again? That I'll lose control?"
Her blush deepened. "No." Her eyes glinted with fear once again.
The truth hit him hard. She was afraid she would lose control.
Her gaze met his for an electric second, then she turned away. "We shouldn't."
"Nay, we shouldna." He pulled her closer. It was wrong. It would lead to nothing but heartache and despair. But still, he wanted her. He had to have her.
"Emma," he whispered, just before lowering his mouth to hers.
Emma was immediately pulled into the kiss. Not only did he ignite her physically, but he overwhelmed her emotionally. He was the honorable sexy hero of her dreams, and she responded with such a strong yearning, her heart ached.
If only he could be alive. He tugged her bottom lip into his mouth and suckled. She moaned as the tug shimmered down to her belly, then lower. His erection pressed against her hip. Good heavens, wasn't this alive enough for her?
But why couldn't he be human like her? He trailed kisses across her cheek. His husky groan tickled her ear before he nibbled more kisses down her neck. His hand covered her breast and gently squeezed. She gasped in response. Wasn't this human enough? Maybe he was technically dead during the day, but oh, imagine the nights she could have with this man.
But you know it can't last. Dammit, was she going to argue with herself all night? Why couldn't she just enjoy this? She no longer feared he was going to bite her, so what was the problem? You're afraid you're falling in love.
No, she could never allow herself to love him. But she couldn't stop her body from responding. The minute he circled her nipple with his thumb, it hardened.
"Oh, the hell with it," she muttered.
"Hmm?" He pulled back to look at her.
His eyes were glowing hotly. Instead of frightening her, they excited her.
She skimmed her hands around the back of his neck and threaded her fingers into his long, soft hair. "Kiss me."
This time, there was no inner argument. She held him close and kissed him with a hunger that matched his own. Their mouths opened. His tongue invaded. She welcomed it, suckling his tongue and stroking it with her own.
He pulled her close so their chests were pressed against each other. His hands slipped under her shirt and up her back. The touch of his fingers against her bare skin was whisper-soft, yet shocked her with its raw power. She explored his mouth and tasted a metallic flavor. Blood.
She drew back. She swallowed and tasted once again the blood from his last meal. Shouldn't she be horrified?
He gave her a quizzical look while his hands examined the back of her bra. "Where are the bloody hooks? Ye puir lass, were ye born into this contraption?"
A small laugh escaped her, and with it, her heart cracked open and all her yearning broke free. This man wasn't horrifying, he was beautiful. Tears sprang to her eyes.
"It opens in the front." She pressed a hand to her chest. "Here. Over my heart."
He studied her face. The red heat in his eyes faded to a warm glow that glimmered around his green irises.
Christmas eyes. If only she could believe in miracles, that there could be a future between them. "This can never work."
He took her hand that guarded her heart and kissed each finger. "I've been told that all things are possible with love."
Was he saying he loved her? Or was he merely seducing her? A tear rolled down her cheek. God help her, the way she felt, seduction was very possible.
"Shh." He wiped her tear with his thumb, then kissed her damp cheek. "I will never harm you. Ye have the official Angus oath."
Smiling, she traced his strong jaw with her fingertips. "We don't know what that is."