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Viennese Agreement: A Vampire Futuristic Romance, page 1

 

Viennese Agreement: A Vampire Futuristic Romance
 


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Viennese Agreement: A Vampire Futuristic Romance


  Copyright © Tracy Cooper-Posey

  About Viennese Agreement

  An unexpected lesson…

  When a video showing Brenden Christos feeding from a real, live human threatens to go public and embarrass the Chronometric Conservation Agency and all its vampire members, he knows he must find the source of the leak before Ryan and Nayara, the leaders of the Agency, tear him a new one, and before the video goes viral and sets back vampire-human affairs by a few decades.

  His investigation leads him into unforeseen territory. Harriet Winslow is the wife of industrialist Donald Winslow III, who owns the camera that took the damaging video. A hands-on corporate manager, she helps Brenden track down the leak.

  Harriet manages to distract Brenden in other interesting ways, but as a human, she has much to learn about the Blood. Brenden learns his own lessons as they close in on their quarry…

  WARNING: This vampire futuristic romance contains explicit and frank sex scenes and sexual language. Do not proceed beyond this point if hot love scenes offend you.

  No vampires were harmed in the making of this novel.

  Viennese Agreement is Book 2.1, a Time Twist Tale, part of the Beloved Bloody Time series.

  Book 1: Bannockburn Binding

  Book 1.1: Wait*

  Book 2: Byzantine Heartbreak

  Book 2.1: Viennese Agreement*

  Book 3: Romani Armada

  (With more to come!)

  *Time Twist Tales are short stories and novellas featuring characters and situations from the Beloved Bloody Time series.

  Praise for the

  Beloved Bloody Time series

  The storylines are creative, the characters surprise us – over and over again. —Reading Romances

  The world of time traveling vampires and the Chronometric Conservation Agency is so well conceived and written. I promise, no matter how much you read, this is a unique world. This complex world is well written and presented in a manner that didn’t overwhelm me. —The Romance Reviews

  I’ve never been a fan of futuristic, sci-fi or time-travel books, but the characters and worlds that Tracy builds for her readers is impossible not to love. … I can’t wait for this series to continue. There are so many different ways that Tracy Cooper-Posey could take this storyline and if history truly does repeat itself, I’m positive she won’t disappoint. —Vampire Romance Books

  The storyline is incredible. I must confess I’m dying to read the next book in the series! —Booked Up Reviews

  Tracy Cooper-Posey’s intriguing characters will quickly make their way into your hearts and wanting more of her time traveling vampires! —Romancing the Darkside

  Chapter One

  Oslo, Norway. 2263 A.D.

  “Come on, you coy bastard…. Where are you?” Brenden muttered, scanning the ancient exteriors of the buildings that lined the alley. His breath puffed out into the cold, crisp and still air. “You’re there somewhere. There’s no other place you can be.”

  The camera he was searching for would be small and inconspicuous, if not hidden altogether. Security cameras could be tucked into the most unobvious places these days. A crack in a wood façade, a seam in plasteel plating, as pixels in an advertisement. But there were ways to spot them if you knew what to look for. After so many years running security for the Chronometric Conservation Agency and a very long life time of being generally sneaky, Brenden knew exactly what he was looking for.

  He had spent most of yesterday, in between his normal tasks, staring at holo footage of himself and a dark-haired waif, standing in the parking area behind the building that was now at his back. He had played the video over and over, trying to figure out where the camera that had recorded the images had been sitting.

  The building behind him, the one caught in the video background, was very old. The non-polarized windows were grimy with dirt. On the walls, old posters were plastered one on top of another, on top of another, until they had created a crazy quilt of images and Norwegian words he couldn’t read, the edges of the top sheets curling up and all of them yellowed and stained. A set of metal stairs ran up to a locked door. The door had a plasteel sheet over it, barring all entry. The stairs were rusty.

  The little parking lot looked exactly the same as it had two months ago, when Brenden had brought the girl here. She had said her name was Helena and he had chosen to believe her. They had stopped behind the decrepit building to complete their bargain.

  Brenden had fed upon her and then erased the memory. When she had blinked and stared at him, bewildered, he had given her the kroner they had agreed upon, the equivalent of five hundred standard credits. “You did fine,” he assured her. “Go and get yourself a good meal. You’ll need it.”

  He had sent her on her way and not thought anything more about the matter. He had made many such bargains with many desperate and needy people around the globe, especially in the last year when the need for real blood had pushed him into roaming the streets for sustenance.

  Brenden grimaced as he looked around the open area. The day was frosty but bright. Even with bright daylight he was unable to spot any camera holes, or any new scuffs or scrapes high up on the roof line that would show where a camera used to be mounted.

  The camera had screwed him good and proper. He had looked around the area the night he had brought Helena here and seen nothing. There had been no surveillance, no wards, and no laser barriers. But this was one of the poorest sections of Oslo, tucked behind the railway yards. He hadn’t been expecting anything more sophisticated than locks on the doors. There was nothing here of value that needed more than that, so he hadn’t scanned the area with anything more than a casual glance.

  But there had been a camera. That was indisputable. Three days ago, he had stood in Cáel Stelios’ study, in his house on Spetsopoula, and watched camera footage of himself feeding upon Helena while the Assemblyman had stood to one side, waiting for an explanation.

  Yesterday, when he’d had the chance to think about how the camera had got there, the full implications of the video had registered. After endless replays, he had finally noticed that the camera had picked up almost flawless images of them, despite the dark of a moonless night. It was a 3D hologram camera. That meant serious money and very high tech equipment. Who would spend that sort of money guarding a crumbling old building like this one?

  So far today, he had spent over an hour looking for the camera and had not found it yet. None of his senses could pick it up, which meant the camera had been shielded against all the common forms of remote scanning and wiping, and some less common types of scans, including all the techniques Brenden was using to find it.

  Very high tech, indeed.

  He spun on his heel in the snow, frustrated. He blew out his breath and glared at the empty parking lot where they had stood. He had to find the thing and track down who had made the tri-D and let it loose upon the world. When Ryan and Nayara eventually found out about this—and they would, he was sure—then Ryan would skin him and use his carcass for a floor mat. It would look better if he could at least explain why the camera had escaped his notice.

  He could maybe avoid losing his viscera altogether if he could stop the video from leaking any farther than it had. He had to find the joker who held the original.

  Brenden shoved his hands in his coat pockets, thinking it through. The camera had to have been a security camera. No one had put a normal camera there just to catch him feeding from a human because until two minutes before Helena and he had stepped into the alley, not even he had known what was going to happen, or where.

  Clearly, from the angle of the camera, it h
ad been set to monitor the ramshackle structure he was facing now. Brenden looked at the building closely. Whoever controlled the camera owned the building.

  There was nothing on the back of the building identifying it in any way, although the plethora of old play bills plastered on the faded walls told him the building was, or had been, a theatre.

  Brenden whirled again and hurried to the end of the alley, onto the mostly deserted street and around the corner. It was a bitterly cold night and only the hardiest souls were out and about. No one would care what he was doing.

  He rounded the second corner and strode down the block, examining the faces of the buildings he was passing. This was a commercial district, but the businesses that occupied the buildings were ailing.

  Then he reached the theatre and halted. The windows were dark. What once would have been banks of wood-framed glass doors with long brass handles were now boarded over with sheets of old fashioned MDF, giving the front of the theatre a forlorn and forgotten appearance.

  The portico roof slumped and rubbish was scattered over the broad steps leading up to the doors. Someone had wrenched one of the heavy brass banisters out of its anchors and carted it away for the metal. The others were corroded and dirty.

  Brenden stared at the place, his memory stirring. It wasn’t a memory of something he had experienced, for until a couple of months ago he had never been to Oslo. But the front of the building was familiar, nevertheless.

  Brenden crossed over the road to the sidewalk opposite and turned to look at the theatre once more. The marquee was visible from here, but it was dark and voiceless. On the side of the building above the marquee, he could make out lettering in an elegant Edwardian script. Majestetisk Teater.

  Even the name was oddly familiar.

  He needed a full access terminal. The itchy feeling that he should know more about the theatre was growing stronger. So he glanced around the street to see if anyone would notice him disappear. The night was still and silent.

  Brenden bent his knees and jumped for home.

  * * * * *

  The Chronometric Conservation Agency near-Earth satellite station, two hours later.

  As usual, as soon as Brenden made it back to his office, five people latched onto him with problems. He attended to the most urgent, delegated the others, and checked his desk for messages. His implant was silent, so from one perspective it was a quiet day.

  Once he was satisfied that everything in Security was running as it should, he shut his office door and pulled up the most relevant results for the Majestetisk Teater. The first headline gave him the answer.

  He sat back, shaking his head. That was why the name of the theatre and the front of it had felt familiar. The Majestetisk Teater was where Christine Anderson, one of the most famous and celebrated actors of her time, had met the Duke of Hagenbrunn, over a hundred years ago.

  Brenden called up some of the old clippings, browsing through them and filling in the blanks of his memory.

  “I remember that story,” Nayara said, from just behind Brenden’s shoulder.

  He forced himself not to jump or show how startled he was as he looked up at her. “I didn’t hear you come in.”

  “I know.” She smiled. “I said your name twice, but you were too busy reading. Now I see why you were so distracted.”

  Brenden nodded toward the screen. “I met her, once.”

  “You worked in the entertainment industry?” Nayara seemed surprised.

  “Security for entertainers,” he amended. “Body guards, property guards. I made a fortune.”

  Nayara’s smile was warmer. “I’m sure. What was she like? Christine Anderson, I mean.”

  “Glorious,” Brenden said. He looked back at the photo that showed her and the duke standing on red carpet. She wore a tiara and a sash. The duke wore a sword at his side. The image was timeless. They could have been born five hundred years before, instead of just one hundred. The ceremonial dress and the jewels of office would have been almost the same.

  “I can see she is,” Nayara said. “She’s glowing. But what was she like as a person?”

  “As sweet and gracious as her reputation. She was the genuine thing.” Brenden clicked to the next image, showing Christine heavily pregnant and chatting with people behind a rope line, the Duke hovering in the background. “She was winning awards and working her ass off. Then she gave it all up for him.”

  “Perhaps she wanted to give it up anyway. Just because she was successful doesn’t mean she wanted to keep doing it.”

  Brenden shrugged. “Maybe.”

  “There’s always a real story beneath the surface,” Nayara said.

  “She didn’t have a surface,” Brenden said. “What you saw on the outside was what she was like all the way through.”

  “So why are you getting angry about it?” Nayara asked him with a small smile.

  “I’m not,” Brenden declared. “But I don’t understand people like Christine Anderson, who give up their entire lives for someone else.”

  “You’ve never been in love?”

  “Sure I have. Lots of times. But if they’d asked me to stay at home and polish their shields I would have given them back their shields. Forcefully. Giving up everything meaningful in your life for someone else’s betterment went out of style centuries ago.”

  Nayara was smiling openly now. She tilted her head to one side and her green eyes picked up the light filtering through the polarized windows of his office. The heavy concentration of lights around Europe was coming into view on the face of Earth, hanging just above his office windows. “You’ve been to war many times,” she said.

  “So?”

  “Isn’t that a form of giving up everything meaningful in your life for someone else? If not for the country or the idea you’re fighting for, then for whoever is waiting at home for you to return.”

  Brenden scowled. “It’s not the same thing at all.” He wiped the temporary memory of the screen, removing the clippings of Christine Anderson. The files he had opened arrayed themselves on the screen instead.

  “Very well,” Nayara said and moved away from the desk. “You have the monthly reports for me?” she asked.

  Brenden snagged the reading board that held the reports from the pile on his desk and gave it to her.

  Nayara glided to the door of his office once more and paused with her hand on the door handle. “Self-sacrifice isn’t always a dramatic gesture,” she said.

  “No, it’s a stupid one,” he told her.

  * * * * *

  Berlin, Germany-Austria Confederacy, 2263 A.D.

  Brenden looked up at the glittering high-rise office block across the road. It wasn’t what he had been expecting. The male secretary had said nothing about the address being a commercial one. He had given no office number, either.

  Vexed, Brenden crossed the road, stepping carefully through snow-melt and puddles. He was meeting the grandson of the last Duke of Hagenbrunn, and the current head of one of the most prestigious families in Germany. He had dressed appropriately, so tracking slush across floors wouldn’t help with the impression he was trying to make.

  There was a reception desk in the front foyer with a real, live receptionist. There were no auto-directories that Brenden could see, so the receptionist had to be a permanent fixture. He looked up and smiled pleasantly as Brenden approached.

  “I have an appointment with Sir Donald Winslow,” Brenden told him, using his rusty German. “Could you tell me where I might find him?”

  “Could I have your name, please?” the receptionist asked in Common that was only slightly accented.

  Brenden gave his name, which the receptionist checked against his register and nodded. “Please come this way, sir. I will call the elevator for you.”

  “I can do that, if you’ll just tell me the floor and room number?”

  The receptionist gave a small smile as he stepped around the big desk. He was carrying a security key. “Sir Winslow has the upper floor
to himself and the elevator is locked. I must see you on your way, or you will not be able to speak to Sir Winslow at all.”

  “Right. Got it,” Brenden growled, following the slender man over to the modest bank of traditional elevators. There were no bounce tubes or gravity wells.

  The man pressed the pad to call a car and the doors opened immediately. “If you will just step inside, sir?”

  Brenden stepped in while the man swiped his key and tapped the thirty-second floor—the top floor. Then he stepped out smartly, avoiding the closing doors.

  There was another live receptionist waiting when the doors opened on the thirty-second floor. She smiled as warmly as the man in the foyer. “Please come with me, Herr Christos.” Her Common was just as flawless, as was her clothing, make-up and accessories.

  He was led through a luxurious reception area that was empty of people and as quiet as a funeral parlor, and along a glassed-in passage that gave a glimpse of a darkened board room on the other side.

  There were double doors ahead, both closed. The receptionist opened them and the bright morning sunlight burst through and dazzled Brenden. He threw his hand up to shield his eyes and halted.

  “My apologies,” the receptionist said and the light was cut off. “I did not think. Please, come this way instead.”

  Brenden blinked until his sight settled. The receptionist was opening one of the glass doors to the boardroom and he stepped inside the dark room with her. Farther along the same wall, there was a more ordinary door.

  “This door has a wall on the other side, blocking the sunlight,” the receptionist said. “Then you can orient yourself and adjust.”

  “Thanks,” Brenden said gruffly. He felt stupid and exposed. Clearly, the receptionist had figured out he was a vampire and was making allowances. It was usually the other way around. Vampires made allowances for humans with their weaknesses and vulnerable bodies, and their slow, slow reactions.

 
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