Megan took another step back and bumped into the recliner again. She sat on the arm and looked up. “But if Steve’s still pursuing the protein therapy research, why won’t you work with him? He has resources I could never match, and he can get you into clinical trials I can’t.”

“I won’t work with Steve Weldon. Not now. Not ever.” He pulled her to her feet. His eyes were dark. Intense. “I want to work with you–that is if Timmons didn’t take everything. He didn’t, did he?”

He still held onto her hands, and she didn’t have the strength or the desire to pull free. His cool, smooth skin pressed against her palms, warming her from the inside out.

“Just about,” she said, and there was an unintentional invitation in her voice.

There was strength in Vincent’s grip but no calluses on his palms. He might work out, but he didn’t work with his hands.

Damn, if she hadn’t always been attracted to the witty, cerebral types. But she did not want to be attracted to Vincent. He had XP and came with more baggage than a 747. And she had enough emotional baggage of her own.

She cleared her throat. “The files you saw on the dining room table the other night were in a back storage room,” she said, thankful her voice sounded normal. No lingering traces of seductive huskiness. No unconscious invitations. “I had boxes stacked in front of the door so the colonel didn’t know the door was there. But it’ll take months to transfer the raw data into another computer, and that’s all there is. Raw data. Hand-written notes, unofficial reports, and previously published articles and files from the internet.”

He released a tired sigh and her hands. Megan’s heart gave a little lurch she tried to ignore. Despite the risk of heartbreak, she was drawn to Vincent–his intelligence, his tenacity and wit, but most of all, to his loneliness. She could see it when she met his eyes—-feel it in her own heart.

Vincent looked away, as though he’d seen something in her eyes that scared him as well.

“At least we have something to work with,” he said tiredly. “Why don’t you show me what you have and then make me a list of what you need? I can’t replace the actual research, but I can get you a new computer and whatever else you might need from Lifeblood’s labs.” Then he headed down the hall toward the basement as though it was a done deal.

Megan rushed to catch up.

“I’m glad you prefer working with me over Steve,” she said, “but I don’t like being manipulated. You should have told me he was still interested in XP research.”

“He’s not. That’s why I came to you.” Vincent didn’t spare her a second glance as he opened the basement door and stepped down. The sound of his boot heels striking wood echoed up the steps as he disappeared into the darkness.

“But–” Megan switched on the light and hurried after him.

“The first thing you need down here is a table and some chairs,” he said when he saw the stacks of unorganized data and reams of paper scattered across the floor.

“I have a desk.” She pointed to where her monitor and keyboard still sat. The hard drive was gone. Loose cables dangled to the floor.

“We need room to spread out. Do you mind if I bring the table and chairs down from the kitchen?”

“No.” She turned back toward the stairs. “I’ll help you bring them down.” It would give her something to do while she sorted through the confused thoughts and emotions tumbling around inside her head.

Vincent touched her arm and heat shot straight to her belly, turning her insides all warm and fuzzy.

Warm and fuzzy was not good.

Warm and fuzzy made her think of more than just heated sex. It made her think of cozy evenings snuggled up under a blanket and shared feelings. It made her long for an emotional connection she couldn’t risk. Not with Vincent. Not with a man who could potentially die a slow, lingering death.

“I’ll get it.” He let go of her arm and stepped back. “You start going through those papers and find that report you wrote comparing XP to vampire myths and legends. I’d be interested in seeing it if you still have it.”

He turned to go back up the stairs and Megan shivered. Why had Steve mentioned the vampire report to Vincent? And why was Vincent so interested in seeing it?

Vincent the Vampire.