CELTIC CROSSING (Beloved Bloody Time: Book 5.0)
A Vampire Menage Time Travel Futuristic Romance
“Grabs your attention around every corner and keeps you coming back for more!” — Deborah, Amazon reader
EXCERPT FROM CELTIC CROSSING
COPYRIGHT © TRACY COOPER-POSEY 2017
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Crab & Crock Restaurant, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. 2266 A.D
Universal Wardens tended to stand out among a crowd, even when they were trying to blend in. Kieran hadn’t realized just how oddly they contrasted with civilians until he stepped into the Crab & Crock. There had been no need to look around for them. The three impressively vertical backs that didn’t touch the chairs, the lack of smiles, the almost untouched beer in front of each of them, would tell anyone these guys were different.
Kieran nodded to the hostess. “I see them.”
He made his way among the tables of laughing, chatting diners. His approach was noticed, although Rivkin didn’t look around. Harry and Trevor, who sat on the far side, tracked him without turning or lifting their heads. It marked them even more as non-civilians. The all-black clothing didn’t help.
“I thought you said non-uniform?” Kieran said, when he reached the table.
Harry frowned. He was the oldest of the three and his hair was grizzled on the sides. The frown bunched up the deep wrinkles on the sides of his eyes. “This is non-uniform.” He sounded puzzled.
Kieran compared his own plaid shirt and jeans to their crisp, black cotton button-throughs and pleated pants. There was a disconnect in their perception of what casual really meant.
“Sons of anarchy…look at him, will you?” Trevor breathed. His gaze flickered from Kieran’s head to his thighs, all that he could see from across the table.
Rivkin shifted over to the chair next to him and pulled his beer over. “Here. Sit,” he said shortly. His dark-eyed gaze met Keiren’s then flickered away.
Kieran took the seat Rivkin had vacated and nodded his thanks.
Trevor and Harry were still staring.
Kieran ran his fingers through his hair. “Those buzz cuts of yours stand out,” he said and realized he was trying to apologize for the non-regulation length.
“You’ve got fucking waves,” Trevor breathed, looking at Keiren’s hair with something like wonder.
“He’s a civilian now,” Rivkin reminded the other two. He glanced at Kieran. “I can’t believe it’s been nearly two years already.”
“Me, either,” Kieran said truthfully. The distance he’d travelled between the day he’d been kicked out of the Wardens to where he was right now, was far more than two measly years’ worth of living.
“He looks like a softie,” Harry told Trevor.
Softie. Warden shorthand for non-military personnel of any type. The Wardens applied the perjorative to military organizations that didn’t meet their standards, too.
Kieran met Harry’s gaze. “I am a softie, now.”
Trevor, who had barely needed to shave when Kieran had known him, looked seasoned now. His shoulders had filled out. He shrugged them. “You’re still working security, aren’t you?”
“Of a sort.”
“I heard you went to the vampires.” Harry’s tone was acidic.
“My employer is not a vampire.” It was only a literal truth. Cáel Stelios may not be a vampire, but his heart and his priorities were more firmly intertwined with vampire affairs than anyone outside the Chronometric Conservation Agency realized.
Trevor grinned. “Like vampires need outside security, anyway. They can toss a man, same as us.”
Kieran made himself shut up, even though he was tempted to explain just how vulnerable vampires really were, especially when Gabriel slid past their defenses, found their emotional core and squeezed it with his mental fist. The Wardens were not his brothers anymore. To say anything would betray the confidence of his employer and weaken his defenses.
Instead, he shrugged and looked around for a waitress. “A beer seems like a good idea.”
“Here, I can do that.” Rivkin got to his feet. “Our waiter is ducking us. You know how it goes.”
Kieran glanced at him, startled. He had forgotten the phenomenon. Men often found Wardens intimidating. Even Kieran had thought the three of them looked odd, when he had first came into the restaurant. How much stranger would a man who had never met a Warden or knew much about them consider them to be? Intimidated civilians tended to react in one of two ways. Either they grew hostile in a sub-conscious need to prove their masculine strength and superiority, or they avoided the Wardens and the challenge they raised just by standing in the same room with them.
The waiter was the second type. He was failing to attend the table because he didn’t like how inadequate the Wardens made him feel.
As Rivkin headed for the bar to get the beer, Kieran reflected that it had been a long time—two years, in fact—since anyone had reacted that way to him. Vampires had their own sort of power and the humans that associated with them had strong enough personalities that comparison to others didn’t crush their egos.
Harry was staring at him again.
“So….” Trevor curled his hand around the beer. “Can you talk about where you are now?”
Kieran shook his head. These men were Wardens. They understood discretion.
“He doesn’t have to, does he?” Harry said. “You just have to look at him to figure it out.”
Kieran tilted his head. “Figure out what?”
Harry shrugged and sipped his drink.
Trevor frowned, his gaze flickering toward Harry. “Are you dealing with psi-filers at all?”
“Some,” Kieran said cautiously.
“They’re a serious problem for us, these days.” Trevor’s tone was mild, but something flickered in his eyes. There was a lot more he could say about the psi-filers, given a little encouragement.
“That’s privleged information,” Harry growled into his froth.
“Kieran was one of us. He won’t talk.”
“He can’t talk if he doesn’t know. Keep your mouth zipped,” Harry said.
“We can ask him stuff, can’t we?” Trevor protested. “He might know something that can help.”
Rivkin put a big mug of beer in front of Kieran and sat down. “I got menus while I was there. It’ll save some time.” He handed the big cards out. “Kieran knows something about what?”
Kieran put the menu on the table in front of him, looking at Trevor. “That’s why you asked me here? You want to pick my brains about the psi-filers? I thought this was supposed to be a social catch-up. No hard feelings, Harry said.”
Harry wouldn’t meet his eyes.
“It is social,” Rivkin said. “It always is, even when there’s shop talk. You remember that, don’t you?” His voice was low, as if he was trying to cajole Kieran into recalling some of the good times they had enjoyed.
Kieran clamped down on the desire to agree with Rivkin even in his own mind. Agreeing would mean acknowledging that he missed those times and he didn’t, not for a moment.
“Good times, sure,” he said stiffly, because all three of them were watching him now. “I’m starving.” He picked up the menu and pretended to study it.
The other three did the same.
Until now, Kieran had withheld from reading their minds. He had wanted this to be a pleasant occasion, as Harry had tried to assure him it would be. He had kept his mental scanner locked down, ignoring even the most superficial reactions and feelings. It helped that Wardens were trained to be self-contained and emotionally cool. They didn’t radiate emotions all over the place the way undisciplined humans tended to.
Now, he deliberately eased into their minds, sampling thoughts and feelings and motivations. He didn’t dig very deep. He didn’t need to.
He put the menu back on the table. “I think this was a mistake.”
Hurt registered in Trevor’s eyes. He understood.
“Mistake?” Harry repeated loudly. Gruffly.
“The only reason you’re here is because you think I can give you a secret weapon for dealing with the psi-filers.” Keiren’s mouth turned down. “You’re as bigoted as the rest of them back at Warden HQ. You think I’ve betrayed the Wardens, that I’m weak for walking away from you, even if you’re not totally convinced the reasons I was ejected are true.”
Harry sneered. “Now I know those reasons are true, don’t I?”
“I’m not a softie,” Kieran told him. “Not the way you think of them, anyway.”
“You’re not a Warden,” Harry shot back.
“No, I’m not.” Kieran looked at Trevor. His soft brown eyes were still showing hurt. “I’m not here to help you,” Kieran told him. “You have to figure it out for yourself. I might have saved your ass once, but so can any Warden, if you trust them enough.”
“I trusted you.”
“I’m not one of you anymore.” Kieran kept his voice flat and even. Unadorned truth was more potent than any sort of pleasant lie he could think up.
Rivkin swivelled in his chair. “My turn, I guess. You know why I’m here. I miss you.”
Kieran nodded. “So much, you knocked yourself out trying to find me when I left, two years ago.”
Rivkin’s jaw flexed. “There was a general order….”
Kieran shook his head. “You knew me, better than most. You really think I would have let a general order get in my way if you had left?”
“You only figured out you missed me when you saw me walk in the door,” Kieran said flatly. “You’re as prejudiced as the rest of them.”
“You really are a freak,” Rivkin whispered.
“I’m not a freak. I’m just not one of you. Not anymore.”
“You always were different,” Harry said, as if that confirmed everything.
Kieran stood up. “You think that’s a bad thing. Yet waiters will serve me when I’m not sitting with you.”
He left them there. He didn’t look back. He didn’t need to. Their discomfort, seasoned by Harry’s untainted disdain, followed him from the restaurant, out onto the sidewalk. Once out in the fresh air blowing in from the bay, Kieran took deep breaths, watching a mag train hurtle through the tube track suspended next to the Golden Gate Bridge, a black line of dashes zipping across the bay.
It had been a mistake to come here. He had wondered if he was being stupid, when he agreed to the invitation in the first place. What had made him decide to go, in the end, was the nagging sense of unfinished business.
That vague sense of wondering had evaporated, now. Perhaps that made coming here worthwhile, after all.
He didn’t want to grab a cab and head back to the Agency’s bureau in Union Square. He didn’t want to go back to Rome straight away. Brenden and his security corp were expecting Kieran to report in at the villa at least an hour from now. That gave him time.
He turned and walked in the direction of downtown SF. It was was less than two miles to the bureau. The exercise would disperse the last of the adrenaline the three bigots he’d left back in the restaurant had generated. It was a pleasant evening, with the sun still an hour above the horizon and the breeze off the sea cooling the air, smelling faintly of salt and seaweed.
The threat rose in his mind in such small increments that at first he didn’t notice it. His thoughts were dark enough, as he kept running over the few minutes in the Crab & Crock, teasing out the nuances of what had happened.
By the time Kieran did notice the tension in his mind, the shadow had drawn around him. They had surrounded him.
“Such an entertaining and sexy story with plot twists and mysteries!” — Corina, Amazon reader
WARNING: This book contains two hot, sexy alpha heroes, frequent, explicit and frank sex scenes and sexual language. It includes heart-stopping sexual scenes between the aforementioned sexy heroes, menage scenes, and anal sex. Do not proceed beyond this point if hot love scenes offend you.
No vampires were harmed in the making of this novel.
“The characters resonate, the story line rocks, and the sex scenes will leave you breathless!” — Tbuchle, Amazon reader