The Complete Daughters of Shadow and Blood Trilogy is $9.99 for the Month of October

Daughters of Shadow and Blood – The Complete Trilogy is on sale at Amazon for $9.99 for the month of October. Follow the link to get the e-book box set today!

Buda, Ottoman Hungary, 1599: Yasamin, the naïve daughter of an Ottoman bureaucrat, finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage to the son of the powerful governor of Buda. She is unprepared for the gossip and scheming rampant in the palace but realized she faces more than petty jealousies when someone tries to drown her in the baths the day before her wedding.

Gračanica. Kosovo, 1689: Elena, an Albanian peasant girl, has sacrificed her own future to keep her family from starving, but one horrific night they are taken from her, murdered by monsters out of her nightmares. Even seeking refuge at the nearby monastery, though, is not enough to keep the creatures that stalk the night at bay.

Berlin, Germany, 1878: Lady Elizabeth James, the neglected wife of a British diplomat, receives a disturbing reminder of her past—a calling card bearing her father’s name. But he disappeared ten years earlier, and Elizabeth believes him dead. A murder at the British embassy raises even more questions about her father, and she is soon caught up in a hunt across the city for a brazen killer.

They became known as the Brides of Dracula. You know his story. Now read theirs.

Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth is Available Now!

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks

The last volume in the saga of the Brides of Dracula is finally here. Get your copy of Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth today!

Berlin, Germany, 1878: Lady Elizabeth James, the neglected wife of a British diplomat, receives a disturbing reminder of her past—a calling card bearing her father’s name. But he disappeared ten years earlier, and Elizabeth believes him dead. When a murder at the British embassy raises even more questions about her father, Elizabeth finds a number of unlikely allies, including an American named Thomas Parson, a self-styled vampire hunter. She becomes embroiled in an intrigue involving fortunetellers, assassins, and foreign spies, but dark forces threaten her at every turn, and as she discovers, even friends harbor deadly secrets.

Bucharest, Romania, 1999: Adam Mire reels at the abduction of his one-time love, Clara MacIntosh. Left with the admonition to “work faster,” Adam knows he’ll only see Clara again if he can find Dracula’s infamous medallion. Using the clues he’s pieced together, he follows a bloody trail across Romania, but Clara’s time is running out.

Meanwhile, Clara finds herself in a secluded manor house, the captive of a man both seductive and terrifying. Plagued by dreams of Elizabeth’s life in Berlin, Clara works to uncover her mysterious host’s agenda. However, she soon realizes both she and Adam are pawns in the schemes of all three of Dracula’s Brides, and to stop them, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

 

This Is Where the Story Ends

PRE-ORDER: Amazon | Apple iBooks

The last volume in the saga of the Brides of Dracula is finally here. Pre-order Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth today!

Berlin, Germany, 1878: Lady Elizabeth James, the neglected wife of a British diplomat, receives a disturbing reminder of her past—a calling card bearing her father’s name. But he disappeared ten years earlier, and Elizabeth believes him dead. When a murder at the British embassy raises even more questions about her father, Elizabeth finds a number of unlikely allies, including an American named Thomas Parson, a self-styled vampire hunter. She becomes embroiled in an intrigue involving fortunetellers, assassins, and foreign spies, but dark forces threaten her at every turn, and as she discovers, even friends harbor deadly secrets.

Bucharest, Romania, 1999: Adam Mire reels at the abduction of his one-time love, Clara MacIntosh. Left with the admonition to “work faster,” Adam knows he’ll only see Clara again if he can find Dracula’s infamous medallion. Using the clues he’s pieced together, he follows a bloody trail across Romania, but Clara’s time is running out.

Meanwhile, Clara finds herself in a secluded manor house, the captive of a man both seductive and terrifying. Plagued by dreams of Elizabeth’s life in Berlin, Clara works to uncover her mysterious host’s agenda. However, she soon realizes both she and Adam are pawns in the schemes of all three of Dracula’s Brides, and to stop them, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book II: Elena is out!

Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book II: ElenaBUY: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks

Gračanica. Kosovo, 1689: Elena, an Albanian peasant girl, has sacrificed her own future to keep her family from starving, but one horrific night they are taken from her, murdered by monsters out of her nightmares. She seeks refuge at the nearby monastery, where she meets Stjepan, a Serbian monk familiar with creatures that stalk the night. Elena longs to return to her farm, but piecing her life back together may be impossible. Stjepan draws her into a dark conspiracy involving an ancient brotherhood, and as war looms, a stranger named Lek appears, threatening to overturn everything she thought she knew about her family and herself.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1999: Since surviving the showdown between the vampire Yasamin and the terrorist group Süleyman’s Blade, Adam Mire has lived in hiding, posing as an unassuming Czech librarian. His life is upended again, however, when a new threat arises—one intent on using Dracula’s legacy to unleash another wave of violence across the already war-ravaged nation.

Meanwhile, Clara MacIntosh, the love Adam left behind, has come to Eastern Europe to find him. While tracking him down, she becomes entangled in a string of grisly murders—deaths Adam is investigating as well. As they both follow clues literally written in blood, time runs short to unmask the killer before history comes full-circle and chaos engulfs the region again.

Pre-order Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book II: Elena today!

Daughters of Shadow and Blood - Book II: ElenaPRE-ORDER: Amazon | Apple iBooks

Gračanica. Kosovo, 1689: Elena, an Albanian peasant girl, has sacrificed her own future to keep her family from starving, but one horrific night they are taken from her, murdered by monsters out of her nightmares. She seeks refuge at the nearby monastery, where she meets Stjepan, a Serbian monk familiar with creatures that stalk the night. Elena longs to return to her farm, but piecing her life back together may be impossible. Stjepan draws her into a dark conspiracy involving an ancient brotherhood, and as war looms, a stranger named Lek appears, threatening to overturn everything she thought she knew about her family and herself.

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 1999: Since surviving the showdown between the vampire Yasamin and the terrorist group Süleyman’s Blade, Adam Mire has lived in hiding, posing as an unassuming Czech librarian. His life is upended again, however, when a new threat arises—one intent on using Dracula’s legacy to unleash another wave of violence across the already war-ravaged nation.

Meanwhile, Clara MacIntosh, the love Adam left behind, has come to Eastern Europe to find him. While tracking him down, she becomes entangled in a string of grisly murders—deaths Adam is investigating as well. As they both follow clues literally written in blood, time runs short to unmask the killer before history comes full-circle and chaos engulfs the region again.

It’s Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book I: Yasamin Launch Day!

Daughers of Shadow and Blood - Book I: YasaminIt’s here! Today is launch day! Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book I: Yasamin is available today (mostly) everywhere books are sold! Pick your favorite:

And if you’re in the neighborhood, you can drop by Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC.

Buda, Ottoman Hungary, 1599: Yasamin, the naïve daughter of an Ottoman bureaucrat, finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage to the son of the powerful governor of Buda. She is unprepared for the gossip and scheming rampant in the palace but realizes she faces more than petty jealousies when someone tries to drown her in the baths on the day before her wedding. An unearthly menace lurks in the palace corridors, and the one person able to protect Yasamin is a soldier named Iskander, who seems to appear whenever she needs him. Charming and confident, he is nothing like her new husband, but trusting either of them could be a deadly mistake.

Berlin, Germany, 1999: Adam Mire, an American professor of history, discovers a worn, marked-up copy of Dracula. The clues within its pages send him on a journey across the stark landscape of Eastern Europe, searching for a medallion that once belonged to Dracula himself. But a killer hounds Adam’s footsteps, and each new clue he uncovers brings him closer to a beguiling, raven-haired woman named Yasamin Ashrafi, who might be the first of Dracula’s legendary Brides.

Adam has an agenda of his own, however, a quest more personal than anyone knows. One misstep, and his haunted past could lead to death from a blade in his back … or from Yasamin’s fatal embrace.

 

Read a Free Excerpt from Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book I: Yasamin (Part 4)

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book I: Yasamin, I am releasing a free excerpt once a week until release day on May 3, 2015. This is Part 4. Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. I hope you enjoy! Please share and order your copy today!

FOUR

Buda, Ottoman Hungary

8 Safar 1008

(20 August 1599 Old Style)

Yasamin watched the pillar of wax dwindle until it could no longer nourish the tiny flame dancing atop. Sunrise would not come for several more hours, but she couldn’t sleep. She cracked the door and slipped out of the room. The light from the waning moon dusted the silent passageways in pallid light, enough for her to make her way, though twice she became lost in the unfamiliar corridors and had to retrace her steps.

Cool air brushed her face as she stepped onto one of the many narrow dirt paths threading through the haremlık garden. She breathed deeply and smiled. Though the palace’s stone façades would not allow her to forget she was still confined to the haremlık, the open air relieved the immediate feeling that she might at any moment suffocate.

The other women had tried to make her room as welcoming and comfortable as they could. Stuffed with silk and satin pillows, her chambers were larger than her old room in her uncle’s house in Salonica. She even brought with her the tapestry her mother had made of the little mosque in the woods, but no matter what anyone did, she would never call Buda home.

The path led to the same place as all the others, a central clearing dominated by an ancient oak tree. It was so wide it took four people touching fingertip to fingertip to reach all the way around. Yasamin sat with her back to its immense trunk and stared into the still blackness of the small pond next to the tree.

The tears surprised her when they came. She should have been happy. Her fondest wish had come true, the one she had made so many times, to leave Salonica and be the wife of an important man, not just the only niece of an unimportant public official. As she sat under the old oak she wanted more than anything to take that wish back.

She cried until her tears dried up. She rose to return to her room, but froze when a pebble went skittering down the opposite bank of the pond toward the glassy smooth water that mirrored the clear night sky. With a small splash, the tiny stone sent silver ripples across the surface of the pond, shattering the moon’s reflection.

Yasamin stared across the water to find someone standing on the path. Her heart leapt into her throat, but it took Yasamin a mere second to recognize Ayla, another resident of the haremlık. Yasamin was certain the relief on Ayla’s face reflected her own. She motioned for Ayla to join her, though truth be told, she wanted nothing more than to be left alone.

“You scared me nearly to death,” Yasamin whispered once the two of them were seated under the oak tree together.

“My apologies,” Ayla replied. “I didn’t mean to frighten you. I didn’t expect anyone else to be out here in the middle of the night.”

“I couldn’t sleep. I thought it would be a good place to come and think.”

Yasamin paused, struggling for something more to say. She had met Ayla only once before in passing and was unsure what etiquette demanded in the current situation. She knew Ayla was around seventeen, a year younger than she was, and that she was the daughter or niece of one of the chief advisors to Ahmed Pasha, Buda’s governor. Beyond those paltry facts, she knew nothing.

Such matters of decorum, however, didn’t seem to worry Ayla. “So, what is it you’ve come here to think about?”

Yasamin could have chosen not to answer. She could have demurred or told Ayla it was none of her business, but instead she told the truth.

“I’m not happy here.”

“But you’re about to marry Murad Pashazade,” Ayla protested. “How could you not be happy to marry the son of a Pasha?”

“It’s not him.” Yasamin motioned around. “It’s this place. I’m not happy here. It’s nothing like where I came from. I wanted for so long to leave, to be away from my aunt and her rules. Now I find myself actually missing Salonica. I miss the smell of the sea and the blue of the water on a clear day, the most beautiful blue you could imagine. There, at least I had my pick of satins and silks, or if I wanted I could sit in the afternoon sun and eat citrons until they made me sick.”

The relief at saying it all out loud passed over Yasamin like a fresh breeze. She wanted to tell Ayla everything.

“Tonight is not the first time I’ve slipped out of my room,” she continued. “On the first night I was here I came to the garden. These pomegranate trees are from Greece. We had ones like them in our garden at home. I thought if I closed my eyes and touched the bark, or held a bunch of flowers in my hand, I could forget where I was.” Yasamin sighed. “I was wrong.”

“How?”

“I couldn’t plug my ears to the night noises. The wind that blows through the trees is coarse, not like the gentle breezes off the sea. The insects drone at a pitch that seems off to my ears. The wolves howl closer. I should be in Izmir, or even Istanbul, but instead, I’m here, marrying a man I know nothing about.”

“I hear Murad Pashazade is a good man.”

“Then you’ve heard more than I have.”

Yasamin’s soon-to-be husband remained an enigma to her. She gleaned from the gossip within the haremlık that he tended to shut himself up in his room for days on end, that he usually refused to speak but a few words whenever he did present himself, and that often those words were poorly chosen. In one story he embarrassed a guest of his father, a celebrated general, by pointing out mistakes the general had made in a particular battle. Even Murad’s own mother spoke of him as an idea or a notion, rather than a man.

On the other hand, the stories of Murad’s younger half-brother Selim were universal in their praise. He was an accomplished horseman and swordsman, and as young as he was, he had already led soldiers to victory in battle against the Christian armies threatening Buda. By all accounts, Selim was also a swaggering boor, but everyone knew he was a swaggering boor, and he didn’t pretend to be otherwise. If she had to be trapped in Buda, Yasamin thought she would prefer Selim to Murad.

She almost told Ayla so, but before she could, she heard a noise. As one, she and Ayla turned toward the sound. Someone else approached on the path. The two of them rounded the oak tree and crouched as deeply into the darkness as they could. Still, as the figure drew nearer, Yasamin couldn’t resist peeking around the trunk of the tree.

A tall, lanky man taking long, swift strides passed by on the path. He had tucked his robes into his belt, revealing his baggy trousers. He wore only a mustache, not the beard Yasamin was accustomed to seeing on most men. A fabric-draped, cylindrical hat adorned with a feather rested on his head. He didn’t notice Yasamin or Ayla as he passed by.

“A janissary,” Yasamin said after he was a safe distance away.

“How do you know?” Ayla asked.

“I’ve watched them walking down the street outside my home in Salonica countless times,” Yasamin replied.

“What is he doing in the haremlık? He should know he’s not allowed.”

Yasamin shrugged. She knew members of the janissary corps were supposed to remain celibate, thinking only of fighting for the Sultan, but underneath the uniform, they were still men. She herself had been tempted more than once to try to catch the eye of one passing by. If some young girl had caught this janissary’s attention, he could very well have considered the risk of being found within the haremlık to be worth the reward.

“Let it be his problem,” she said. “We should go back. It will be light soon.”

As they stepped back onto the path, Yasamin’s eyes briefly came to rest on a spot across he pond’s glassy water. She thought she saw a flicker of a shadow, but when she looked again, the pale moonlight illuminated only the trees and the flowers and the grassy banks of the black pond, nothing more.

Read a Free Excerpt from Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book I: Yasamin (Part 3)

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book I: Yasamin, I am releasing a free excerpt once a week until release day on May 3, 2015. This is Part 3. Read Part 1 and Part 2. I hope you enjoy! Please share and order your copy today!

THREE

Berlin, Germany

12 August 1999

Yasamin Ashrafi drummed her fingers on the arm of the divan, a slow, relentless rhythm that beat in time with Adam’s heart. “Your first experience with a knife to your throat?”

“And hopefully my last,” he replied.

“Hopefully. It never does get easier.”

Adam watched the rise and fall of her exquisite fingers as they danced over the dark, polished wood of the divan’s arm. “No, no, I wouldn’t imagine it does.”

“How fortunate for you, though, that someone came to your aid, and what a coincidence for this woman to arrive at the very moment you needed her.”

“Not so much of a coincidence, as I discovered.”

“Oh really?”

“She was following me.”

The drumming stopped. Her expression darkened, if such a thing was possible.

“Did she follow you here?”

Adam found relief in the sudden silence that before had been so oppressive. “Over the past ten days I’ve had the opportunity to learn lessons I never wanted to learn. I made certain neither she nor anyone else could follow me here.”

“If you’re lying—”

“I’m not stupid, Mrs. Ashrafi. Believe me.”

Her mouth curled up into the same twisted smile. “Only time will tell if that is true.”

“You promised to answer my question if I answered yours.”

“And I intend to keep that promise. But I am curious about one more thing. The name you found in the ledger of Janos Kovács. You said you had come across it elsewhere. Where, exactly?”

Adam made every attempt to remain nonchalant. “Odd documents, none of them related to one another, sometimes separated by centuries. A very tantalizing puzzle, but also frustrating. I only recently came upon some information that let me follow the trail down the rabbit hole.”

“Quite another coincidence.”

“Maybe there are no coincidences,” Adam countered. “I’ve noticed that if God wants to send you a message, he’ll often leave clues to follow. They may seem random and unrelated, but they are impossible to miss or ignore.”

She began tapping her fingers again. “Be careful Dr. Mire, or you may learn, as I did, that God isn’t always the one leaving the clues.”

Read Part 4>>

Read a Free Excerpt from Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book I: Yasamin (Part 2)

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book I: Yasamin, I am releasing a free excerpt once a week until release day on May 3, 2015. This is Part 2. Read Part 1 here. I hope you enjoy! Please share and order your copy today!

TWO

Budapest, Hungary

2 August 1999

A bell jingled as Adam opened the door and entered the antique shop. The smell of old books and dusty furniture mingled with the perfume of the flowers from the shop next door and the scent of fresh rain. He hesitated in the entryway, not certain how to proceed. A maze of tables, chairs, books, silver, china, and other random objects collected from hundreds of lifetimes filled the tiny store.

Amidst the chaos, a small, balding man stood at an old drafting table he had conscripted into a desk. Peering over the edge of his glasses, he leafed through a stack of papers. Every so often he made marks with a pencil. When Adam entered, the man glanced up. Adam nodded. The shopkeeper scrutinized him with pale blue eyes and smiled faintly before returning to his task. Adam chuckled quietly. Janos Kovács’s reputation preceded him. He catered only to serious collectors, not tourists. He had apparently taken Adam for the latter, exactly what Adam wanted.

Adam pushed into the store, cautiously stepping over a small wooden bench and squeezing himself around a giant Biedermeier armoire. On the other side, he found a stack of books balanced on a shelf much too small for the job. Adam could not detect any pattern in their order. He scanned the titles until he came across one that caught his attention—Description of the Székely Lands by Balázs Orbán. He picked it up and opened the worn cover. A name and a date were scrawled in faded pen in the upper-right corner of the title page: Mihai Iliescu, 3 May 1987. He tucked the book underneath his arm and continued reading the titles of the other books. When he finished, Adam turned to discover the shopkeeper standing next to him.

“May I help you?” the man asked in German, his gaze resting on the book underneath Adam’s arm.

“I don’t know. It’s possible,” Adam replied in Hungarian. He took the book and opened it to the title page, pointing to the signature written there. “I’m interested in seeing more items from the Mihai Iliescu estate. Do you have anything else?”

“I … I have many things from the Iliescu estate,” the shopkeeper stammered, his face flushed. “You need to be more specific. Are you looking for other books? Mr. Iliescu’s library was quite astounding.”

“I know. I became rather familiar with his collection on the occasions I visited him in his home. I’d love to see what other books you have, but the truth is I’m looking for something else.”

“What might that be?”

“I suppose you could best describe it as a piece of jewelry.”

“Jewelry, you say? But Mr. Iliescu was never married.”

Adam shook his head. “Not that kind of jewelry. More of a medallion, made into a pin, or even a clasp for a cloak. The design is … unusual. It depicts an animal that looks like a lizard, or a dragon.”

Mr. Kovács’s expression darkened. His gaze shifted away, toward the door. “I have never seen anything like what you describe.”

“Are you certain? I’ve been to several other dealers, and they’ve all told me the same, but you acquired the bulk of the Iliescu estate. I had hoped for better luck here.”

“I’m sorry. I’m certain I have nothing like that.”

He refused to look Adam in the eye, and as he spoke he twisted the garnet ring on his right pinky finger around and around.

“I’m not the first to ask that question, am I?” Adam asked. “There have been others.”

“Please, Mr.—”

“Doctor,” Adam said. “Doctor Adam Mire.”

“My apologies, Dr. Mire, but I don’t intend to continue this pointless conversation with you. I have work to do. Are you interested in purchasing the book you’re holding?”

“I think so, but I’d like to look around a little and see what other treasures I might be able to dig up.”

“Dr. Mire, I don’t mean to be rude—”

The bell on the door jingled again. An older woman wearing a tailored suit and an abundance of jewelry stepped into the shop. The open contempt on Mr. Kovács’s face vanished. After one last stern glance at Adam, he beamed at the newcomer, greeting her with arms held out as if the woman were his long-lost sister, and left Adam to his own devices once more.

Adam poked around the shop, picking up another book or two, always trying to keep an eye on Mr. Kovács and the woman, who was apparently looking for a pair of chairs for her living room. As he pretended to browse, Adam made his way closer and closer to the drafting table where Mr. Kovács had left his papers.

They appeared to be nothing more than accounting ledgers—lists of sales with columns for names, inventory, prices. After a glance at Mr. Kovács and the woman, Adam lifted the top sheet. The one underneath was labeled “Iliescu” and followed much the same pattern, except for the note scrawled in one corner.

The bell on the door jingled again. Adam looked up to see the woman leaving. He replaced the papers on the desk and made his way back to the stack of books by the time Mr. Kovács turned his withering glare on him again.

“Did you find anything else of interest?” the dealer asked.

“No, not really,” Adam replied, smiling, “but I do believe I’ll purchase the book.”

 

Outside the shop, the rain had stopped, though the sky remained overcast. In Budapest, the August heat had subsided, and with it the flood of tourists. Adam made his way back to his hotel, his new purchase tucked securely under his arm. The doorman, standing ramrod straight, gave Adam a slight nod as he opened the door, the respect evident despite his threadbare uniform. Nearly empty, the Hotel Athena suited Adam perfectly. It provided him the solitude he preferred, yet retained a well-trained and loyal staff who pretended nothing had changed in a hundred years. The front desk and the maids abided his eccentricities without question, even if those eccentricities included stringing heads of garlic across the windows of his room and placing a holy wafer above the door.

As Adam entered his room, his gaze fell on the desk next to his bed. His books and papers lay strewn across the surface. A few extra forints slipped into the hands of the hotel manager ensured the housekeeping staff didn’t touch any of his work.

But someone had.

Though the desk hadn’t been the picture of order before, Adam knew what his chaos looked like. Nothing was where he had left it. Without hesitating, he stuffed everything from the desk into his leather satchel and walked out the door, planning to find another hotel and send for the rest of his clothes when he did.

Outside dusk rapidly approached, and Adam kept up a brisk pace. Neither the first hotel he tried nor the second had any vacancies. His third choice still lay a few blocks away. He never made it. A cold steel edge against his neck stopped him.

“One move and you die,” a harsh voice whispered his ear. “Do you understand?”

“Yes,” Adam replied.

A muscled arm pulled Adam into the shadow of an awning hanging over an abandoned storefront. In the window, Adam saw his own murky reflection and that of a well-built, olive-skinned man with a military-style haircut and a closely shaved beard. The man followed Adam’s gaze. The corners of his mouth turned up in a sneering grin.

“I don’t have much money,” Adam said. “My wallet’s in my pocket. Take it.”

“I don’t want your money.”

Adam never thought he did. “What do you want, then?”

“Where is it?” The man pressed the knife harder against Adam’s throat.

“Where is what?” Adam fought the urge to swallow. “I’m just looking for a hotel to spend the night.”

“You are not in a position to play games, effendi. Where is the Kazıklı Bey’s medallion?”

Effendi. Kazıklı Bey. The man was Turkish.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The knife slipped a fraction of an inch, and Adam felt a trickle of blood run down his neck. The angry red line reflected in the window.

“You lie. I know about your visit this afternoon. You were trying to sell it, weren’t you, effendi? Do not try to fool me, Dr. Mire. I know exactly who you are. You are not a stupid man, yet you act like one. You know what the medallion is, where it came from. You’re damning yourself to hell by hiding it. If you tell me the truth, though, you can die a hero’s death and receive your reward in heaven.”

“I swear I don’t know anything about a medallion, effendi.”

The man spat on the side of Adam’s face and uttered a word Adam didn’t understand but was sure he wouldn’t want translated. The pressure on Adam’s neck eased a little. Dropping his chin, Adam forced the man to turn his wrist and angle the knife away from Adam’s throat. Then he grasped the man’s arm and slipped underneath to escape the Turk’s embrace. He took off running down the street, but he heard the Turk’s footfalls behind him.

As he rounded a corner, Adam risked a glance over his shoulder to see the Turk only a few strides behind. Though he was by no means out of shape, Adam knew he couldn’t keep his current pace up for much longer. He scanned the area, looking for another way to escape, and failed to see that the sidewalk buckled in front of him. He tripped. His books and papers went sprawling into the street, and when Adam hit the pavement, something in his left shoulder popped. He cried out as searing pain shot through his arm and across his chest. His every instinct screamed at him to get up and keep running, but he could do nothing except lie on the ground and clutch his shoulder in agony.

The Turk stood over him, smiling. He raised the knife over his head, the blade flashing in the light of the streetlamps. “Impressive, effendi, but this ends exactly the same.”

At the last moment, however, an arm blocked the knife’s deadly arc. The newcomer, a slender woman roughly Adam’s age, stood between him and the Turk. Adam didn’t see where she had come from. The Turk’s eyes widened, and then his lips curled back in a snarl. He took a step back and lunged at her, but she dodged every one of his attacks with the grace of a dancer. His frustration evident, he swung the knife in a wide circle. The blade came within a hair’s breadth of her chin.

The Turk laughed. “Such a beautiful face. It would be a shame if anything were to mar it.”

She rolled her eyes. “Men. The same stupid line every time.”

He charged. She sidestepped the knife and brought her arm down on his wrist, making him drop the weapon. She spun around and backhanded him across the face, then kicked him in the chest and sent him flying into the wall. His body ricocheted off the brick surface, and his nose met with the heel of her hand. Bone and cartilage snapped. The Turk crumpled to the ground and didn’t move again.

Adam stared up at the woman. Her red hair hung in a loose ponytail, and her eyes were the deep cerulean blue of the ocean on a cloudless day. She knelt beside him.

“Are you hurt?” she asked, her voice carrying a hint of an Eastern European accent.

“My shoulder. I think it’s dislocated.”

She gently placed a hand on his upper arm. “May I?”

No sooner had Adam nodded, than she seized his arm and popped his shoulder back into place with a stomach-churning jerk. Adam screamed in agony.

“What did you just do?” he asked.

“I fixed your shoulder. Is something wrong? It does feel better, yes?” She raised an eyebrow. “And I did ask you first. Now come with me, please. We have to get you someplace safe.”

Adam made a few tentative motions with his left arm. “Who are you?”

Standing, the woman grabbed him by his other arm. “Later. Now come.”

Adam pulled free. “Wait, my things.”

“Leave them.”

“I can’t. My books and papers. I need them.”

The woman eyed the unconscious man on the ground. “Fine then, but gather them as fast as you can.”

Adam struggled to keep up with her as they ran through the streets. After dozen or so blocks, as Adam felt his legs about to give out, she stopped. Townhouses lined the quiet street. A row of parked cars sat at the curb. The woman climbed into the driver’s side of a white Fiat and opened the passenger door for Adam. Before he could even climb completely in, she turned the ignition and punched the gas pedal. The car screeched away from the curb and sped down the street.

“My name is Anya,” she said, “to answer your question.”

“Adam.” He fumbled to buckle his seat belt as fast as he could. “Dr. Adam Mire.”

The tires screamed as she rounded a corner. “Oh, I already know your name.”

Adam still struggled to catch his breath. “Does everybody in this city know who I am?”

She shot him a sardonic glance. “Not quite, but more than you’d think.”

“And why is that?”

She made another gut-wrenching right turn onto a street already teeming with traffic. Horns blared as she cut off a Mercedes and a BMW, but miraculously, the white Fiat remained unscathed. “The truth? You’re not the only one looking for Dracula’s medallion, Dr. Mire. You’re just the only one who isn’t armed.”

“I don’t understand. How do you know about the medallion? And who was that man in they alley?”

“All in good time, Dr. Mire, all in good time.”

“Will you at least tell me where we’re going?”

She jerked the wheel and veered across three lanes of traffic. More horns bellowed. The car flew up an onramp and onto an expressway.

“Novi Sad,” Anya replied.

“Novi Sad?” Adam shook his head. “But I don’t have a visa to travel in Yugoslavia.”

Anya continued to weave among the cars on the expressway. “Details. Don’t worry.”

“Why should I trust you?”

“You’re still breathing, aren’t you? Isn’t that enough?” At Adam’s silence, she sighed. “Very well. Open the glove box.”

Adam pressed the button. The door fell open, revealing a Glock pistol.

Anya smiled. “Now you’re armed. You don’t think you can trust me, then shoot me. It’s entirely up to you.”

The Budapest suburbs sped by. Even the textured grip of the pistol in Adam’s hand did nothing to hold his panic at bay. In his mind, pieces of a puzzle began falling into place. He didn’t like the picture they revealed. He thought back to the look on Janos Kovács’s face at the antique shop when he brought up the medallion. It was a look of abject fear. After the assault on the street, Adam thought perhaps the man’s fears were warranted.

And there was something else.

The note in Mr. Kovács’s ledger contained a name he had come across before, one almost always accompanied by death.

Yasamin.

Read Part 3 >>