"What will you do if you find her?" Gregori asked.
"Have a wee chat," Connor replied as he left the room.
Angus recalled Emma Wallace's whisky-colored eyes and intoxicating mouth. He'd be sorely tempted to do more than talk. He smiled as he screwed the top on his flask. Let the hunt begin. He slung his claymore onto his back and strode toward the door.
"Okay, if you insist, I'll stay here." Gregori picked up the bottle Angus had left on the desk. "I'll just guard this for you till you get back."
Emma Wallace stomped her feet silently in the grass. The chilly air felt good as long as she was walking, but whenever she crouched behind a tree for very long, her legs grew stiff.
This part of Central Park was dead, even too dead for the Undead. Time to move on. She slung her canvas tote bag over her shoulder and enjoyed the comforting sound of wooden stakes clattering against one another. She slipped out of her hiding place and skidded down the sharp incline to the brick path below. Her movement startled some birds from a nearby tree. They cawed, beating the air with a fluttering of wings as they flew into the darkness.
Emma waited, blending easily into a tree's shadow with her black pants and jacket. All was quiet once more. Hard to believe that a short walk south would deliver her to noisy avenues where postparade celebrations still raged.
Maybe that was why the park was so quiet. The vampires could be hunting in the streets. After a long day of green beer and whisky, the revelers would never remember what bit them.
Suddenly the brick path beside her was clearer. Brighter. She could make out individual trees and bushes. She moved quietly onto the pathway and looked at the nearly full moon. The clouds had moved away, leaving the orb bright and glowing.
A slight movement caught her attention, and her gaze lowered. To the south, a lone figure stood on top of a huge crag of granite. His back was to her. Wisps of clouds floated past him, stirring his kilt. Moonlight gleamed off his dark red hair.
Mist swirled around him, making him look ethereal. Like the ghost of a Highland warrior. Emma sighed. That's what the world needed more of today - brave warriors, willing to fight evil.
Sometimes she felt vastly outnumbered by the creatures of the night. As far as she knew, she was the only vampire slayer in existence. Not that she blamed anyone for that. Most people didn't know about vampires. But she did blame her weak and ineffectual boss. Sean Whelan was afraid to pit their small team of four against a group of vampires in battle, so he had assigned them to merely watch and investigate.
Watching wasn't enough for Emma. Not since that horrid night six years ago. She refused to dwell on it. She'd found a much better remedy than grieving. The trick to killing vampires was to find one alone in the act of feeding, then take him by surprise with one swift stake through the heart. With every vampire she turned to dust, she was one step closer to finding peace.
She patted her bag of stakes. With a permanent marker, she'd written Dad on half of them and Mum on the other half. The stakes were working great, and the death count was up to four. It could never be high enough.
She glanced again at the kilted man standing on the boulder of granite. Where had all the brave men gone? Fierce warriors who could stand alone in the face of danger.
The mist drifted away, leaving the man's form outlined in silvery moonlight. Her breath hitched. He was stunning. His broad shoulders filled the dark sweater he wore. His kilt fluttered slightly in the breeze, revealing strong, muscular thighs. Good heavens. He would make a great warrior. Strong and relentless in battle.
Suddenly he leaned over, grabbed the hem of his kilt, and peeked underneath. Then he dropped the kilt and fumbled at something below his waist. Emma winced. Was he playing with himself? He lifted something to his mouth and drank. Moonlight glinted off the metal. A flask. Super. He was a pervert and a drunk. With a sigh, she turned north and walked away.
What a silly waste of her time, fantasizing about a brave Highland warrior. She should have known he was just one of the thousands of kilted, liquor-guzzling men roaming the city after the parade. Besides, in her line of business, she couldn't afford to get sentimental. The enemy was ruthless.
Scrunch. Emma halted and listened. The path curved to the left and out of sight, but she could hear the sound of footsteps shuffling through dead leaves. She lunged to the left and hid behind a tree. The footsteps grew closer.
A lone man came into view. Emma caught her breath. He was wearing a long black trench coat. The vampire she'd killed last night had sported one just like it. Maybe they all shopped at the same store, Vampires "R" Us. She lowered her tote bag to the ground and retrieved one stake.
He came closer. He'd be easier to kill if he was feeding, but there were no victims nearby. Emma slipped the stake into her belt behind her back. She'd lure him in, using herself as bait.
She sauntered onto the path and gave the man an innocent look. "I think I'm lost. Do you know the way out of the park?"
The man halted and smiled. "I was hoping to find someone like you."
Right, someone to feed from. Damned bloodsucker. Emma widened her stance so she wouldn't lose her balance when he attacked. She reached behind her back and curled her hand around the stake. "I'm ready when you are."
"Okay!" The man untied the belt on his trench coat.
It was then that Emma noticed the hairy calves below the hem of his coat. Good heavens. He wasn't wearing any pants.
Shit! He wasn't wearing any clothes at all. She grimaced. Just her luck to go vampire hunting and find a flasher.
"What do you think?" The man fondled himself. "Pretty impressive, huh?"
"Excuse me a moment." She let go of her stake and removed her cell phone from its holster on her belt. She'd call the local police to pick this guy up before he gave some poor lady a heart attack.
"Oh, is that one of those picture phones?" The flasher grinned. "Great idea! Could you put me on the Internet? Here, let me give you a profile shot." He turned to the side so his erection would stand out.
"Brilliant. Just hold that pose." Emma flipped open her phone. A dark shadow obliterated her view.
She immediately reached behind her back. False alarm. She released the stake. It wasn't a vampire. Even so, her heart raced, for there in front of her was the man in the kilt.
He was even more stunning close up. Emma slapped herself mentally when she realized she was gawking at him. How could she forget he'd been looking under his kilt just minutes before? Why were men so obsessed with their equipment? She called into evidence exhibit number one - the flasher.
She glanced over her shoulder. He was still there. Still exposed. But the arrival of serious male competition had left him looking a bit... deflated.
"Are ye in need of assistance, miss?" The kilted man's soft burr caressed her nerves like a Highland breeze ruffling a hillside of heather. It brought back memories of happier times when her family had been alive and well, living in Scotland.
She frowned. She couldn't afford good memories. Not until the horrid ones had been thoroughly avenged.
"Is this man pestering you?" the Scotsman continued. His eyes were a vibrant green that sparkled with intelligence and something else she couldn't quite place. Curiosity? Perhaps, but something bolder. He seemed to be searching for something.
Emma lifted her chin. "I can handle him myself, thank you."
The flasher snickered. "Yeah, sugar, you want to handle me?"
She winced. Poor choice of words. The display on her cell phone had gone dark, so she lit it up and pressed nine.
The kilted man stepped toward the flasher. "I suggest ye leave this young woman alone."
"She was talking to me first," the flasher snarled. "So buzz off, buddy."
Emma groaned inwardly. Just what she needed. A drunk Scotsman and a flasher arguing over her. She punched number one.
"Och, how rude of me to interrupt. Especially you, a fine, upstanding paragon of good manners and propriety." The Scotsman arched a brow with a skeptical look. "After all, here ye are, prancing about the park with yer wee willie flopping about."
"It's not flopping! It's hard as a rock." The flasher glanced down. "Well, it was until you came along." He started rubbing himself. "Don't worry, sugar. I'll be back in full form before you know it."
"Don't hurry on my account." She snapped her phone shut and changed her mind about calling the police. She wouldn't get any hunting done if she had to stay here to give a statement. She clicked her phone back into its holster on her belt. "I have to go. I forgot to feed the cat." Probably because she didn't have one.
"Wait!" the flasher yelled. "You didn't get my picture."
"I assure you, the image has been permanently scalded into my brain for all time."
The Scotsman chuckled. "Off you go, lad. No one wants to see yer wee willie."
"Wee? You call this - this Mack truck wee? I bet it's bigger than yours, buddy."
The Scotsman folded his arms across his broad chest and widened his stance. "That would be a wager ye'd lose."
"Oh, come on, guys." Emma raised her hands to stop them. "I really don't need to see - " She bit her lip and lowered her hands. So what if the gorgeous Scotsman lifted his kilt? He'd already done it once tonight, and who was she to stop him? It was a free country, after all. Her gaze drifted over to his kilt.
She glanced up at his face. A corner of his mouth quirked. His green eyes sparkled with humor. Oh no! He suspected she was secretly hoping for a peep show. Her cheeks flooded with heat.
"What are you waiting for, Scottie?" The flasher grinned. He'd achieved impressive proportions and was, no doubt, anticipating an equally sizable victory.
Emma figured he usually won by a head.
"The pretty lady can be our judge," the flasher announced.
She stepped back, shaking her head. "I really don't feel qualified." Or particularly honored.
"Don't worry, sugar. I came prepared." The flasher pulled something round, silver, and shiny from his trench coat pocket. "All you have to do is measure which one of us is longer."
"Of course." The flasher huffed. "I keep a daily journal, and I want it to be as accurate as possible." He planted his fists on his hips. "I take this seriously, you know."
"Brilliant," Emma muttered. "Well, guys, it's been... real, but I need to go. Feel free to do your own measuring." She turned toward the tree where she'd left her tote bag.
Her training had taught her how to anticipate an attack. How to interpret the stirring of air behind her back. As soon as the flasher made a grab for her, she jumped out of his reach and assumed her favorite attack pose. Her reaction time had been as swift as ever, but not nearly as quick as the Scotsman. In a mere second, he'd reached behind his head, pulled out a sword, and pointed it at the flasher's neck.
With a gasp, Emma froze. He had a sword? And not just any sword. This sword was huge.
The flasher halted, his eyes wide with fear. He gulped and promptly wilted down south.
"I told ye mine was bigger," the Scotsman growled. "Make a move for the lass again, and I'll be shortening yers by a few inches."
"Don't hurt me." The flasher backed away, closing his coat.
The Scotsman advanced, his sword only inches from the flasher's fluctuating Adam's apple. "I suggest from now on, ye remember to wear yer knickers."
"Sure. Whatever you say, man."
The flasher scurried away, disappearing around the bend. The Scotsman lifted the sword over his head so he could slide it back into its sheath. The long blade made a soft scraping noise as it slid home.
Emma was distracted momentarily by the bulge of his biceps, but she quickly came to her senses. "What are you doing with a sword?"
"'Tis called a claymore." He turned to face her. "Doona worry. Ye're safe now."
What typical male arrogance. "I was referring to your sword. Not your wee willie."
He gave her an injured look. "If ye're going to insult my size, I'll have to defend myself by offering ye proof."
"Don't even think about - "
"'Tis a matter of honor." His mouth twitched. "And I'm a verra honorable man."
"Very drunk is more like it. I can smell the whisky on your breath."
His eyes widened in surprise. "I've had a wee dram or two, but I'm no' drunk." He stepped closer, lowering his voice. "Admit it, lass. Ye were wanting a private showing."
"Ha! Of all the... I'm going now. Good night." She strode toward the tree to retrieve her tote bag. Anger pricked at her. Shame on her. She'd had too much training to get distracted by bulging biceps or a broad chest. Or gorgeous green eyes.
She hitched the bag onto her shoulder, ignoring him.
"I doona generally discuss private parts, at least until I've introduced myself first."
She stifled a grin. Something about this man was too appealing. Maybe his accent and kilt made her feel homesick. She'd been in America for only nine months. She glanced at him, and his soft smile tugged at her heart. Shit. She needed to go.