At the head of the table his boss, Roman Draganesti, nodded his head slightly. Sitting to Roman’s left was Jean-Luc Echarpe, who retained his title of Coven Master of Western Europe even though he spent most of his time in Texas and only teleported to Paris once a month to preside over Coven Court. Next to him sat Zoltan Czakvar, CM for Eastern Europe, headquartered in Budapest. On Roman’s right, Angus MacKay narrowed his eyes. He was not only head of MacKay Security and Investigation, but also CM for the British Isles.

Next to Angus, Sean Whelan sat with a fierce scowl on his face. Actually that wasn’t so unusual. Gregori had never seen Sean Whelan when the guy wasn’t scowling. First he’d been pissed that his daughter Shanna had married Roman. Then he’d been livid when his other daughter Caitlyn had married Carlos and become a were- panther. His head had nearly exploded when Shanna’s husband had transformed her into a vampire. Tough news for a guy who was the leader of the CIA Stake-Out team, dedicated to killing vampires. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Sean had gotten himself mortally wounded fighting vampires, so Roman had transformed him.

No one was sure how Sean would react to becoming the creature he hated the most, but Shanna had begged her husband to save him. Sean had been a vampire less than a week now, but he appeared to be taking it in stride. Apparently his desire to survive was stronger than his desire to kill Vamps.

“Sit down, please.” Roman motioned to the end of the table.

A mile away from them? Why did he feel like a lab rat in one of Roman’s scientific experiments? Gregori took a seat and rested his forearms on the table. “So do you need my help coordinating emergency shelters?”

“Nay,” Angus said.

“Each Coven Master is responsible for the safety of the Vamps in his region,” Roman explained. “I appreciate your help with my area. I’ve been . . . distracted with other matters.”

Gregori nodded and adjusted his cuff links. “Then you devised a plan of action?”

Roman gestured to his father-in-law. “Sean is using his government contacts to negotiate a deal.”

“We’re waiting on approval from the president,” Sean said. “I’ve arranged for us to meet with the president and his advisors tonight after sunset.”

“What kind of deal are you talking about?” Gregori asked.

“Basically, we’re asking the government to declare the vampire video a hoax and state categorically that vampires do not exist,” Sean explained.

“So the government would lie to the people,” Gregori muttered. “That’s new for a change.”

Roman frowned disapprovingly at him. “Surely you can understand why we need this lie.”

Sean leaned toward Angus and whispered, “He won’t do.”

“Aye, he will,” Angus insisted quietly.

The prickle on Gregori’s neck crept down his spine.

“Sean, the sun will rise soon,” Roman said quietly. “You should see Shanna and the children while you still can.”

Sean glared at his son-in-law, then slowly rose to his feet. “Don’t think you can leave me out of the loop.”

“We appreciate your help,” Roman told him. “We’ll let you know our final decision.”

Sean snorted, then glanced at Gregori. “I’ll talk to you tonight after sunset.” He strode from the room.

Gregori watched the door shut, then turned back to face Roman. “I won’t be here. I’m shooting a commercial for Blardonnay.”

“They’ll have to do it without you,” Roman said.

Gregori sat back. “But they need—”

“Like Sean said, we need approval from the president,” Roman added.

Gregori shrugged. “What has that—”

“Is it true that all your meals have been bottled?” Jean-Luc interrupted him.

What? What did his eating habits have to do with this?

“You’re very young for a Vamp,” Jean-Luc explained. “By the time you were transformed, we already had synthetic blood. So are we correct in assuming you’ve taken all your meals from bottles?”

What the hell? They were on the verge of a Vampire Apocalypse and these guys wanted to tease him again for being a bottle-fed baby?

“Lad,” Angus grumbled impatiently. “We need to know if ye’ve ever bitten anyone.”

He moved his hands into his lap so they wouldn’t see him clenching his fists. “My fangs work just fine.”

Zoltan leaned forward. “Then you have bitten someone?”

This was getting too damned personal. “I have never bitten for food. And I’ve never bitten a mortal.”

“Good. I thought so.” Roman nodded approvingly, then glanced at the other CMs. “Gregori has always taken the Romatech mission statement quite seriously. Make the world safe for mortals and Vamps alike.”

“Ye have never given a mortal reason to fear you?” Angus asked.

Gregori’s jaw shifted. Did they think he was some kind of wimp? “I’m sure I have, but they don’t remember it. I always wipe memories and clean up after myself.”

Roman nodded again. “For a young Vamp, Gregori has shown an impressive talent for mind control.”

Again with how young he was. Gregori gritted his teeth. Next they would congratulate him for being potty trained.

“He also has an excellent track record for getting a job done,” Roman continued.

Gregori arched a brow. “Am I applying for a new job?”

“Have you ever fought in battle?” Zoltan pressed. “Ever killed anyone?”

Gregori glared at him. “Why? Are you looking for an assassin? I left my résumé at home with my AK–47.”

Angus chuckled. “Ye’re no’ a killer, lad.”

Don’t push me. Gregori shoved back his chair and stood. First Simone had called him a coward, and now these guys were insinuating it. “Enough with the bullshit. You guys know I never fought in battle. I wanted to. I trained for it, but Roman promised my mom he’d never put me at risk. I went along with it for her sake, but that doesn’t mean I need to grow a pair. If there’s a fight in our future, you can count on me.”

“We’re no’ questioning yer bravery, lad,” Angus said. “In fact, we’re relying on it.”

“For what? Tell me what you want.”

“You have different skills than we do,” Jean-Luc said. “Because of your youth you know how to maneuver through the modern world of business and technology.”

Roman smiled. “And you’ve proven yourself adept at handling people and persuading them to do what you want.”

“Without threatening them with a sword,” Angus added. “Ye have a modern approach that we’re lacking.”

Gregori frowned. No doubt they thought they were complimenting him, but somehow he felt like he was being called manipulative. Using a sword might be old-fashioned, but it was blatantly honest. “I’m not that bad with a sword, you know. I’ve been practicing with Ian at the school during my time off.”

“We don’t need a swordsman for this job,” Zoltan said.

Angus drummed his fingers on the table. “The problem is we doona want Sean Whelan to act as our sole representative to the president.”

“We don’t trust him,” Zoltan muttered.

“So we need our own special envoy,” Jean-Luc added. “Someone we can trust to represent the best interests of Vamps all over the world. A Vamp who is modern, works hard at a steady job, and has never bitten a mortal. A Vamp who appears completely safe and harmless.”

Safe and harmless. Somehow those words felt like the worst of insults. Gregori yanked at his tie to loosen it. “You’re choosing me ’cause you think I’m an Undead Pillsbury Doughboy?” He shook his head. “No. Hell, no.”

Roman gave him an irritated look. “You’re a marketing expert, Gregori. You understand the importance of how we are perceived. If we’re seen as a bunch of dangerous, bloodthirsty monsters, it could mean the end for us. You can honestly present the image we want because it is what you are: a modern-day, well-educated, hardworking, harmless Vamp.”

Harmless. Shit. He was tempted to sink his teeth into a mortal just to prove them wrong. But he kept his frustration in check. “Look, it’s late, so let’s continue this conversation tonight. If you give

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