So why was Angus ignoring her? Was he averse to a commitment that might last for centuries?
Darcy joined her husband at the doorway. "We just received an e-mail - "
Darcy gave her a sympathetic look. "From Roman. He reports that baby Constantine is healthy, happy, and normal."
Darcy offered Emma a sheet of paper. "Some of his message was for you, so I printed it out."
Emma took the note and wandered across the large exercise room to read it.
I couldn't help but notice the e-mails and phone messages directed here for Angus. I thought you should know that he left here two nights ago for England. He's expecting you to come to New York to be changed back, and I don't believe he wants to be here for the event. This is not because he doesn't care. He cares very much. He's suffering greatly for what he did to you. Perhaps, in time, he'll be able to forgive himself. I think he'll begin healing once he knows you have safely returned to your mortal life. I am at your disposal, as soon as you are ready.
Emma folded the note. "Why does everyone want me to be mortal again?"
"Of course she does," Giacomo said. "It's a superior life."
"The blood tastes good to me." Emma crossed her arms, frowning. "Why shouldn't I remain this way? The man I love is a vampire." She grimaced. "Unfortunately, he won't speak to me."
"Amore." Giacomo pressed a hand against his heart. "How we suffer for it."
Darcy snorted. "Especially you, Jack, since you're so in love with yourself."
He stumbled back as if he'd been wounded.
"I'm not taking it anymore." Emma turned to Giacomo. "Will you help me teleport to England? Tonight?"
"Anything for amore." Giacomo grinned. "There are two places he could be - either his office in Edinburgh or in London."
"You'd better go to London," Darcy warned.
"Of course." Giacomo's dark eyes twinkled. "Edinburgh would be... awkward."
"Why?" Emma stepped toward him.
Giacomo shrugged. "That is where Angus has stashed his harem, and I doubt - "
Darcy groaned. "Way to go, Jack. Emma, it's not as bad as it looks."
"You think not? The bloody man has a harem!" Emma's heart thundered loud in her ears. Was this why he was refusing to see her? Why would he want one vampire girlfriend when he already had a freaking harem?
She crumpled the note in her fist and tossed it across the room. "Take me to London now, Giacomo. Angus is going to talk to me whether he likes it or not."
Angus wandered quietly into the nursery at Romatech. Shanna had wanted a nursery next to her dental office, so she could tend the baby and the occasional patient, and Roman had readily agreed, for he liked having his family close by. She was busy changing the baby's diaper, and the mirror over the table reflected both her and the bairn. Of course Angus didn't show up, so he cleared his throat to let Shanna know he was there.
She turned her head. "Angus!" Her smile started off joyful, but quickly faded to a look of concern.
He was used to that now. People looked at him like he was some sort of ghost. He felt like one, a shadow without a soul.
Shanna's gaze shifted back to the baby. "I didn't know you were in town."
She snapped the baby's outfit around his chubby legs. "Are you staying at the townhouse?"
"Aye." He could see her frowning in the mirror.
"That's good. Stay as long as you like. You... probably shouldn't be alone right now."
Did she think he was suicidal? Why kill something that was already dead? His body still functioned, but his heart had shriveled from constant aching, and his mind was worthless. He'd tried to get some work done at his London office, but he couldn't concentrate. It was so bad, he was considering passing the business on to Robby. Every time Angus tried to look at a report, it blurred before his eyes. All he ever saw was a mental picture of Emma releasing her last breath of life. The image haunted him. It was the last thing he saw before slipping into death-sleep, and it greeted him each time he awakened.
He choked on his meals and could barely swallow. It always tasted like the last drop of blood he'd taken from Emma. He roamed from one place to another - Paris, London, New York - but there was no escape from what he'd done.
He handed Shanna a package wrapped in brown paper. "I brought this for the bairn."
"Oh, how sweet!" Shanna showed the package to Constantine. "Look! Uncle Angus brought you a present!"
The baby waved his arms and legs.
Shanna ripped off the paper, opened the box, and dug through the tissue. Her eyes widened as she pulled out a small pouch of black moleskin. "Oh, it's... lovely. Thank you."
Her blue eyes twinkled as she gave him a devious look. "So, you gave him a... purse?"
Even that didn't get a rise out of him. "'Tis a sporran for a young lad."
"Ah." Shanna opened it and removed the tissue paper from inside. "This will actually come in very handy. He can use it to carry around little toys or... a small chemistry set." She made a face. "Roman's already bought him one."
Shanna laughed and gave him a hug. "Thank you. It was a very thoughtful gift."
He nodded. Now that he'd delivered the present, he didn't know what to do with himself.
Shanna picked up Constantine and swayed gently from side to side. "Does Roman know you're here?"
He shrugged. "I doona think so."
"I'll get him. And don't make fun of his hair."
"What?" Angus stiffened when she shoved the baby into his arms.
"Watch the baby till I get back." She rushed from the room.
"But - wait!" Angus experienced a moment of sheer panic. What was she thinking, handing him a wee baby? He hadn't held one in five hundred years. His heart raced, pounding in his ears. What if he dropped the wee thing?
He squeezed it against his chest and felt the wee legs kicking him. Bugger, he was probably crushing the poor babe. He relaxed his grip and swiveled, looking frantically for a safe place to put the wee beastie down. The changing table? Nay, he might roll off there.
Angus spotted the crib and walked toward it. He passed by walls painted like a pastoral scene - blue sky, green fields, fat cows, and fluffy sheep. "Are they expecting ye to be a farmer?"
The baby thumped him in the chest with a closed fist.
"Och, a warrior then?" Angus glanced down at the baby and halted mid-stride.
Constantine was studying Angus with the brightest blue eyes Angus had ever seen. More than that, there was an intensity to the baby's eyes that seemed to hold Angus captive. Instantly Angus's heart calmed to a steady beat. The pain that had muddled his brain for the past eight days slowly melted away. He took a deep breath as a sensation of peace flowed through him.
"Did ye do that?" Angus whispered.
The baby stared back, and Angus sensed an intelligence that was far from infantile.
"Angus!" Roman called as he entered the nursery.
"Roman, yer bairn - " Angus looked up and forgot all about the baby. "What happened to you?"
Roman shrugged. "I didn't even know about it till Shanna noticed it." He ran a hand through his dark hair, now shaded silver at the temples. "Fortunately, she likes it."
"Yes, I do." Shanna followed him into the nursery with Connor. She smiled at Roman. "He looks very distinguished."
He smiled back and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"How did it happen?" Angus asked.
"Remember the drug I invented that enables us to stay awake during the day? Well, after a few days of trying to take care of Constantine 24/7, Shanna looked really exhausted."
"And being the noble guy that he is," Shanna added, "Roman took the drug every day for five days to help me out."
"Silver," Shanna corrected him. "And only at the temples. I think it's gorgeous."
Roman snorted. "But you forbid me to take the drug again."
"Because it's aging you." Shanna turned to Angus. "Laszlo did some blood work on him and discovered that he aged a year for every day he stayed awake."
"It is bad," Connor added. "I had hoped we could use the drug in the war against Casimir, but we're no' likely to get Vamps to volunteer for it if they know it's going to make them older for the rest of eternity."
That was bad news. Angus looked at Roman. "So ye're five years older now?"
"Six, actually. I used it once before to rescue Laszlo. But I doubt we'll ever get anyone else to use the drug."
An idea sprung to Angus's mind. He glanced down at the baby in his arms. His mind seemed to be working clearly again. "I think I know someone who wouldna mind aging about ten years."
"Oh, aye," Connor whispered. "Ian would take it."
"Good." Roman nodded. "You're looking a little better, Angus."
Only because of the bairn. "Yer baby is... special."
"Of course he is." Shanna took Constantine from him. "How did you two get along?"
"Verra well." Angus followed her to the crib. "He has... bonny eyes."
"Yes." Shanna smiled as she placed Constantine in the crib.
"What is this?" Angus touched the unusual mobile hanging over the baby's head. "Bats?"
Roman chuckled. "A gift from Gregori. His idea of a joke."
"Aye." Connor wound up the contraption. "It plays the theme song from the X-Files."
The tinkling music started, and the blue plastic bats flew around in a circle. Constantine's eyes widened, and he flailed his arms and legs.
"I heard you gave the baby a sporran," Roman said. "Thank you."
Connor chuckled. "Just doona give him any Scotch whisky till he's - oh, about eight."
Connor grinned. "He'll need a claymore by the age of ten."
Shanna shook her head. "Men. Always planning ahead for a violent world."
Roman frowned. "As long as evil abounds, we have no choice." He put a hand on Angus's shoulder. "How are you, old friend? Are you ready to talk?"
Angus wandered back to the crib and stared at the mobile. The bats were circling now at a slower pace. "There's nothing to say."
Shanna huffed. "Emma obviously disagrees. She's been trying to contact you for a week."
Angus closed his eyes briefly. He knew he was being a coward.
"I e-mailed her," Roman said. "I told her to come and be changed back whenever she was up to it."
"Did she say when she was coming?" Angus asked. The bats were slowing to a stop.
"She didn't answer," Roman said. He joined Angus at the crib. "She may want to discuss the matter with you first."
Angus gripped the crib railing. "She wants to rant at me for killing her. I know she hates me."
"Are you sure about that?" Shanna asked softly.
"Of course she hates me!" Angus paced across the nursery. "I turned her into the verra creature she hates the most."
"Then why hasn't she come here to get changed back?" Shanna asked.
"I think you should see her," Roman said. "What if she wants to forgive you?"
Angus snorted. "How could she?" He couldn't forgive himself.
"All things are possible through love," Roman whispered.
Angus closed his eyes as he felt tears gathering. He swayed and placed a palm on the wall to steady himself. He couldn't go on like this, overwhelmed with such guilt and failure. He'd sworn to protect her, but he had killed her.
A knock sounded on the door. "I'm looking for Angus MacKay," a strange voice announced.
Angus turned to see a young man in a suit, hovering by the door. "I am the MacKay."
The young man entered the nursery, smiling. "You're a hard man to find, Mr. MacKay." He handed Angus an envelope. "You've been served." He strolled from the room.
Angus ripped open the envelope and scanned the papers. "The devil take it." The papers slipped from his hands and fluttered to the floor.
"What is it?" Roman asked.
"I have to return to London. Emma is suing me for pain and damages."
"I have good news and bad news," Richard Beckworth announced when Angus strode into the solicitor's London office.
"Is she here?" Angus's heart thundered in his chest. A part of him dreaded seeing Emma again. He recalled her beautiful face that had once gazed upon him with so much love. Now he imagined it full of hatred and recrimination. How much more pain could his heart endure?