Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
2 December 1999
Adam paced the study of the safe house like a caged tiger. Arkady Danilovich Markov, special agent for the Russian Orthodox Church, sat in one of the chairs, staring sullenly out the window. Inspector Nikola Gavrilović of the Sarajevo Police sat in the other chair, his fingertips pressed together.
“I’m beginning to share Clara’s opinion of your ‘safe’ houses,” Adam snapped at the Russian.
“So am I, for what it’s worth,” Arkady replied.
“How exactly does something like this happen?” Adam asked. “It was almost dawn. And this place, it has a threshold. A vampire shouldn’t have been able to cross.”
“Humans can, though. If a vampire had helpers like Stjepan did …” Inspector Gavrilović offered.
Stjepan, going by the name of Dragomir, was the three-hundred-year-old vampire leader of the Chetniks, a Serbian ultranationalist organization that had been after Dracula’s medallion. To complicate matters, he was also Elena’s former lover. Yasamin. Elena. A hard lump formed in the pit of Adam’s stomach. In Dracula, there were three brides.
“Also remember, a strong enough vampire can tolerate sunlight for a short amount of time,” Inspector Gavrilović continued, “especially at sunrise, when the light is not too strong. That’s one thing Bram Stoker got right.”
“In any event,” Arkady added, “Greta’s wounds could also have been made by something other than a vampire.”
Adam shook his head. “We didn’t find any blood.”
Arkady shrugged. “She could have been killed some-where else and brought here.”
Adam narrowed his eyes. “So what are you saying? You don’t think there are any vampires involved in this? Need I remind you what is pained on the wall downstairs?”
Arkady sighed. “What I’m saying is that we don’t know. Jumping to conclusions could get us killed. Or Clara.”
“So what do you suggest we do?”
“Inspector Gavrilović and I will work our contacts for now, and you should do what the note said, work faster.”
“That’s it? Clara is in danger. She could be anywhere now.” Adam plumbed the depths of his rage. “You could at least act like you care.”
Arkady shot up from the chair, his face suddenly red, his teeth clenched. “Do not ever question me again about that.” His face fell, and he sat back down. “I care. I’m just responsible for keeping you from doing something stupid.”
Adam grabbed his coat and headed for the door.
“What are you doing?” Arkady asked.
“Something stupid,” Adam replied. “I’m going for a walk. I need some air.”
“You really shouldn’t,” the inspector said, “until we know what we’re facing—”
Adam jabbed a finger in the inspector’s direction. “Don’t you start, too. I’ll be back before dark, and then I’ll ‘work faster.’”
He slammed the door behind him a little harder than he intended. Outside the air was crisp, but there was no breeze, so he found the cold bearable. He put one foot in front of the other without giving much thought to where he was going. Arkady’s new safe house, where they had moved after the first one was compromised, was in Sarajevo’s Stari Grad, or Old City. The streets were narrow, and buildings crowded the sidewalk. A few hardy tourists strolled about, admiring the store windows decorated for Christmas.
Adam was busy thinking about the books, running through possibilities in his mind. He didn’t understand how he was supposed to “work faster.” He was no closer to solving the clues to the whereabouts of the medallion than when he has started. And yet he had to wonder if he had missed something. A simple golden trinket couldn’t have caused so much death.
Lost in thought, Adam wandered from the shopping district and onto a residential street lined with trees. The sun went behind the clouds, and the temperature dropped. On the other side of the street, a couple walked. Something seemed odd about them, but Adam couldn’t place his finger on it.
As they drew closer, Adam slowed, trying to get a better look. They were huddled against the cold. The man covered his chin and mouth with a scarf. Only his eyes remained visible. The woman’s blond hair peeked from underneath her fur hat. She wore a scarf as well, but left her mouth and nose exposed. As they passed, she turned her head to look at him.
Adam held his breath. He flashed back to the beautiful Russian agent who had saved his life months earlier. Her name had been Anya, and she was dead, a fact that still gnawed at him.
After the couple passed, Adam craned his neck to watch them retreat. When they were some distance away, the sun came out again from behind the clouds, and the air warmed, at least a little. The woman didn’t show any signs of recognizing him. Still something unsettled Adam. He decided to return to the safe house.