He watched her slip into the backseat of a taxi with a graceful, controlled movement. So lovely. And amazing. Three kills last summer and one more this spring. She had to be one fierce little fighter. If only he could direct that passion elsewhere...

His swollen groin throbbed. Bugger. Over five hundred years old, and here he was, reacting like a randy youth. He didn't know whether to be annoyed or relieved. It had been so long since he'd felt arousal, he'd suspected he was more dead than alive - a theory that had made sense given his circumstance.

With a sigh, he headed toward Roman's townhouse on the Upper East Side. Teleporting would be faster than walking, but he wanted time to think. And time for the bulge under his kilt to settle down.

Why didn't he react this way among his own kind? There were plenty of available Vamp women, including those in his own harem. They were pretty enough, but they were also demanding and vain in a whiny, helpless way. Emma was totally different. Clever, independent, and bold. She had all the qualities he admired most in men. She was even a warrior.

With a small jab of surprise, Angus realized she was just like him. Well, no. She was a great deal younger. And a great deal more alive. And she also had a very lovely female body.

But her pull was more than a physical attraction. She was a warrior like him, battling evil in the wee hours of the night. She shared his need to protect the innocent. Beneath their obvious differences, they were kindred spirits. If he could make her see that, she could be an ally instead of an enemy.

He turned onto Roman's street and approached the townhouse. The windows were dark now that Roman's harem was gone and he was living in White Plains with his mortal wife. Now the only inhabitants were Connor and two Vamp security guards. Ian would be guarding the townhouse, while Dougal watched over Romatech.

Angus always stayed at Roman's townhouse when he was in New York. The bedrooms were equipped with aluminum shutters to keep the occupants safe during the day. And the daytime guards were completely trustworthy. They worked for MacKay Security and Investigation.

No doubt, Emma Wallace would run a check on his company as soon as she read his business card. She'd probably figure out he was undead. That was all right. He didn't want any secrets between them. He wanted her to learn to trust him.

He planned to investigate her, too. If he knew all about Emma Wallace, he could figure out the best way to win her over. Psychological warfare. Not as straightforward as his usual methods, but the target in this case was unusual. He couldn't simply bash her on the head with a claymore. He'd have to be more subtle. More... seductive.

He smiled to himself. Let the battle begin.

He glanced around as he climbed the steps to the townhouse. The street was empty and quiet. This was the perfect opportunity to test the alarm system he'd installed a few months ago. Ever since Roman had teleported straight into the lair of the Russian coven, Angus had worried that the Russians would attempt a similar maneuver.

He checked once more that the street was empty, then teleported into the dark foyer. As soon as his body materialized, an alarm went off - an alarm pitched at a high frequency so only dogs and vampires could detect it.

Immediately the kitchen door swung open, and a figure zoomed toward him with vampire speed. The blur stopped, revealing Ian, his kilt swirling about his knees and his dagger pointed at Angus's throat.

"Och, 'tis you." Ian slid his dagger back into the sheath beneath his hose. "I nearly skewered you."

Angus patted the youthful-looking vampire on the back. "Ye're as quick as ever, lad. 'Tis good to see ye again." He strolled over to the control panel by the door to turn the alarm off. "If ye'd been here by the monitor, ye'd have seen me come up the steps, and ye wouldna have been caught by surprise."

Ian hung his head, looking properly embarrassed for not being at his post. "I was in the kitchen. We have company."

"Who?" Angus strode past the grand staircase to the kitchen, where a sliver of light could be seen beneath the door. He gave the swinging door a push and caught a glimpse of Gregori, sitting at the kitchen table, drinking his bottle of Blissky.

Angus marched into the kitchen. "Why are ye here, interfering with Ian's duties? Ye should still be at Romatech."

Gregori made a face. "Aren't you the friendly one? Roman's expecting me to give him a report on the slayer, but you and Connor never came back. Besides I'm doing you a favor, returning your bottle to you."

Angus grabbed the bottle and held it up to the light. "The bloody thing's half empty."

Gregori grinned. "I get it. The Blissky is bloody. Right. You're trying to be funny." His grin faded as Angus continued to glower at him. "Okay, so I drank a little. But I prefer to think of it as half full."

Angus set the bottle down as Ian strode into the room.

Gregori motioned to him. "He had some, too."

"Just a wee drop," Ian insisted. "I know I'm on duty."

"Ye're damned right." Angus bit his lip to keep from smiling. Roman's new Fusion drink was going to be very popular. "Can ye call Connor and let him know I'm here?" He motioned with his head for Ian to leave the room.

"Sure." Ian grabbed a cell phone off the kitchen counter and went back into the foyer.

"So, big guy, are you ready to report?" Gregori slouched back in his chair. "Did you find the slayer? Was it one of the hot babes?" He waggled his brows.

Angus glared at the young Vamp. "I might be willing to forgive ye for drinking my Blissky, if ye'll tell me what's wrong with the bairn."

"The bairn, the wee babe. I want to know what's wrong."

"Oh." Gregori's face turned serious as he leaned forward onto his elbows. "Well, that's kinda personal."

"So are yer balls, laddie, but if ye're wanting to keep them close and personal, ye'll tell me what's going on."

"Sheesh!" Gregori gave him an incredulous look. "Lay off the steroids, man."

"Yeah, I noticed." Gregori narrowed his eyes. "You didn't hurt the hot babe, did you?"

Angus smiled. He was beginning to see why Roman liked this young Vamp. "I'll tell ye what. Ye tell me about the bairn, and I'll tell you about the hot babe."

Gregori nodded slowly. "Deal." He motioned to the chair across from him.

Angus laid his claymore across the center of the table, then sat. "Is the bairn in danger?"

"We don't know. The Vamp doctors say he's healthy."

Gregori smiled. "You should have seen Roman's face when he told me. He was so proud."

"Then what is the problem? And doona lie, lad. I can always tell, and you wouldna want to see me angry."

Gregori rolled his eyes. "Oh, I'm so scared."

Angus stifled a grin. He folded his arms across his chest and narrowed his eyes.

Gregori sighed. "Okay. Shanna mentioned a few months ago that the baby seemed to be sleeping all day and turning somersaults all night. Really freaked Roman out."

Angus rested his elbows on the table in front of his sword. "Roman fears the bairn is a night creature? That's why they're seeing a Vamp doctor? But dinna Roman use live human sperm?"

"Yep. But he erased the donor's DNA and inserted his own."

"So he would be the father. I doona see the problem." Angus glanced to the side when the kitchen door swung open. Connor strode inside, followed by Ian.

"I hope ye had better luck than I." Connor retrieved a bottle of synthetic blood from the fridge and popped it into the microwave. "I scoured the northern half of Central Park all night and never saw anything but a few couples making love."

"Damn!" Gregori thumped the table with his fist. "I knew I should have gone with you."

The room grew quiet except for the whir of the microwave. The three Scotsmen regarded Gregori silently until he blushed.

He shifted uneasily in his chair. "I guess I need a girlfriend."

The microwave beeped, and Connor removed his bottle of blood. "Before we start moaning over loves lost, I want to know about the slayer. Did ye find her, Angus?"

"Aye, I found her." Angus motioned toward Gregori. "But first, this one is telling me about Roman's bairn."

Gregori gave Connor a sheepish look. "He wouldn't talk about the slayer until I spilled the beans."

Connor grimaced, then took a long swig from his bottle. "Roman wanted to keep it quiet."

Angus gritted his teeth. "And ye doona think I can keep a secret? I ken more secrets than ye can imagine, Connor. And do I need to remind ye that ye work for me?"

"Aye, that I do, but my job is to provide Roman with security, and that's exactly what I'm doing."

"Tell me the problem," Angus insisted.

With a sigh, Connor leaned against the kitchen counter. "After the bairn was conceived, Roman was conducting some tests to see if he could transform himself back into a mortal."

Angus nodded. "The procedure he did on Darcy Newhart. What of it?"

"Roman learned the procedure only works if he has a sample of the Vamp's original mortal DNA," Connor continued. "While studying our DNA, Roman discovered something... odd. By then, Shanna was already pregnant from the sperm with Roman's DNA."

"What are ye saying?" Angus demanded.

Connor took another long drink. "Our DNA has changed. A verra slight mutation, but still, 'tis no' the same as when we were mortal."

"Could be like us," Connor finished. "And we're no longer quite human."

A chill skittered down Angus's spine. No longer human? No wonder Roman was nervous. What would the bairn be like? No longer human. Bugger.

"Are ye all right?" Connor asked softly.

"Aye." Except that Gregori was drumming his fingers on the table, and Angus found the noise very annoying. No longer human. How could he ever convince Emma he was good when he wasn't even human? He balled his fists with a sudden urge to clobber someone. Gregori would do nicely. "Does Shanna know?"

"Aye," Connor replied. "But she insists she doesna care, that she loves Roman and will love the bairn, no matter what."

"She's a rare woman." Angus scowled at Gregori to get him to stop making noise.

It worked. Gregori leaned forward. "Can you believe it? We're all a bunch of mutants! Just like the Ninja Turtles."

Angus blinked. "We - we're like... turtles?"

Connor snorted. "Nay. We have vampire DNA. No turtles."

"Snap!" Gregori rocked back in his chair, laughing. "I had you worried, huh?"

Angus narrowed his eyes. "Connor, if ye doona kill this fledgling, I will. The lad is begging for it."

Ian covered his mouth to hide a grin. Connor simply crossed his arms and looked bored.

Gregori wiped his eyes. "You can't kill me. I'm the vice president of marketing at Romatech."

"Damn straight. I sell Roman's Fusion Cuisine. You know those commercials on the Digital Vampire Network?" Gregori smiled proudly. "I make those."

Angus slipped his sgian dubh from its sheath beneath his hose and studied the sharp, lethal knife. "I doona watch the telly much. I'm too busy killing."

Gregori's smile withered. "Sheesh, bro. Get a hobby. Buy yourself a new skirt. Find some joy in life."

Angus smiled grimly. "I find joy in my work, and the bloodier the better." He glanced at Connor. "Do ye want the pleasure, or shall I?"

Gregori jumped to his feet. "You can't hurt me. Roman needs me to sell his stuff."

"And if ye stopped making yer commercials, would Vamps stop drinking Roman's stuff and turn to the competitor?" Angus asked.

With a frown, Gregori loosened his tie. "There is no competition. Roman is the sole producer of synthetic blood."

"Ah." Angus slid a finger down the single-edged blade of his sgian dubh. "Ye see, I've watched enough telly to know what the proper term is for the likes of you. Ye're what we call an expendable crew member."

Gregori's eyes widened. "You're not hurting me. Roman likes me."

Angus tilted his head. "Are ye sure about that, laddie?"

Connor chuckled. "Enough with the jest, Angus. I want to hear about the slayer."

"Verra well." Angus slipped his sgian dubh back into its sheath. He smiled at Connor and Ian, who were both grinning. "We can always kill the fledgling later."

"Shit." Gregori glared at the Scotsmen. "You guys have a sick sense of humor." He shoved Angus's claymore to the side and perched on the corner of the table. "I'd like to see you and your ancient sword take on the slayer armed with a bazooka."

Angus nodded. "Ye might have yer wish before all is done."

"So were ye right?" Connor asked. "Is the slayer Emma Wallace?"

"Aye. I found her wandering about with a bag of stakes."