Authors: Tracy Cooper-Posey
Book 1 in the
Beloved Bloody Time
In the early 23rd Century, vampires learned how to travel back in time, and created a time-tsunami that threatened life as we know it, until they corrected their mistake. They created the Chronometric Conservation Agency, which is tasked with preserving history and therefore protecting humanity’s future. The Touring arm of the Agency offers trips back into the
past, with vampire guides, called travellers.
When Natalia (Tally) Marta, vampire and traveller, takes her client to visit the siege of Stirling Castle in 1314, she is caught and held hostage for ransom by Robert MacKenzie, a Bruce clansman. Rob finds himself drawn to the wilful, stubborn and very different English lady he has captured and the relationship becomes an intimate, highly-charged sexual pairing. Swiftly, Tally and Rob realize their bond is more than sexual, that the emotions stirring their hearts are true.
Christian Lee Hamilton, vampire, one of the last true southern gentlemen and Tally’s ex-lover, knows the 1314 time marker well enough to jump back and help Tally return home. His arrival at Bannockburn adds complications, for Christian finds himself drawn to Rob MacKenzie as much as Tally is. But neither of them can stay in the past forever. To do so means certain death.
A series with a lot of twists and couples who are impossible not to cheer for!
Oh wow, is this a great read! I simply couldn't put this down once I started.
The Romance Reviews
Tracy Cooper-Posey has cemented her spot on my "auto buy" list with her latest release. I can't wait for this series to continue.
Vampire Romance Books
This is one hot tale with an ending that definitely caught me completely by surprise. I cannot wait to read more novels in this series!
Coffeetime Romance Reviews
The storyline is incredible. I must confess I'm dying to read the next book in the series!
Booked Up Reviews
STORIES RULE PUBLICATIONS
A sole proprietorship owned and operated
by Tracy Cooper-Posey
This is an original publication of Tracy Cooper-Posey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2011 by Tracy Cooper-Posey
Text design by Tracy Cooper-Posey
Cover design by Dar Albert
Wicked Smart Designs
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
FIRST EDITION: December 2011
ISBN: 9780986906497 Amazon Edition
Bannockburn Binding/Tracy Cooper-Posey—1
So long and thanks for all the memories.
Stirling, Scotland, 1314
Laying siege could be a mighty boring business. That was why he found the lass in the first place and why he kept her, in the second. That was the excuse Rob would always give himself. As for what happened after, well, that was another matter entirely.
Rob found himself south of Stirling Castle, giving his horse a slack rein and enjoying the cool April air. This far away, the noises Edward’s troops made as they surrounded the castle were silenced. Instead, the natural sounds of the woods emerged.
He came upon her at the edge of the woods near the burn. Oh, she was quiet enough to be sure, but her manservant made the basic error of moving upon dry leaves.
In a heartbeat Rob was on them, his dirk against her throat, leaning over them from his saddle. She stood slim and tall, still as a statue. There was no fear in her face.
Her manservant looked set to expire. He trembled and flinched at the snorts and sidesteps of Rob’s warhorse, while his eyes stayed wide upon the blade at his mistress’ throat.
“Now, here’s a pretty picture,” Rob declared. “What might a wee lass like ye be doing wandering the wastes of the Bannock burn?”
The manservant clutched at the rich blue fabric of her gown in a most unseemly way and murmured in her ear. Advice. Entreaty. She spoke quietly in reply, low enough that Rob could not hear the words. It mattered not a wit. Rob waited out their conference with unusual patience. The day was a fine one, he had naught else to do and she was a pleasing distraction.
She finally looked him square in the eye again. Her own eyes were a dark, dark brown that was almost black. “M’lord, I wandered too close to Stirling Castle.” She spoke with a soft lowland Scots lilt. “With your leave, I would be on my way and leave the rest of your day untrammelled by a manservant’s stupidity.” At that, she glared at her servant. Clearly, he had led her astray.
“Why would ye be abroad at such a time?”
“I…er…I was collecting the last of the mushrooms.”
Rob slid to the ground and stepped closer to her. She was tall for a woman and came up to his shoulder. He snatched her wrist, pulling it up behind her back. “Then where be ye basket, my lady?”
The servant moaned, clearly distressed beyond sense.
Rob had both hands in use, so he jabbed sharply with his elbow, smashing the man’s nose and dropping him to the ground. It would shut the man up, at the very least.
The lady’s eyes widened, but she spoke no word of protest.
“That’s two lies I’ve caught ye in,” Rob told her. “Do ye care to spare me more by telling me the truth?”
She swallowed. The movement drew his gaze to her throat. It was pale, slender and pure. No gauze hid it from his sight, although her hair was behind a veil. Her gown was of some fine, thick material, but failed to disguise the willow-suppleness of her figure.
“I have not lied to ye,” she retorted, still showing no fear.
Her manservant rolled on the ground beside her, his hands to his face. He examined the blood coating his fingers and looked up at her. “Jesus H. Christ,” he slurred, his voice congested by the blood. “He’s broken my goddam nose!”
Rob’s heart thudded hard. The man’s accent was strange and he spoke English—an odd type of English, one that Rob had never heard before. But any English was an insult to his ears.
He grabbed the girl’s arm before she could react, pulled out his sword and swapped his knife for the longer blade. He rested the sword against her throat. “Three falsehoods. Yer man is English or I’ll eat my own gizzards. So what does that make
“M’lord, ye canna think—”
He shook her, halting her words. “Ye speak as I do, right enough, but ye wear the garments of a lady and there’s naught Scots ladies to be found round here. They’ve all repaired to the highlands ‘til the King routs the bloody English.”
She was pure bred and of high enough station to be able to look him square in the eye. “You must release me. My family—”
“Might be willing to part with the odd coin or two for ye return, I’m thinking,” Rob finished softly. He found he was staring at her eyes again. The color was a wonder. Rich, dark, mysterious. “Mushroom gathering requires a basket and ye’ve none about ye,” he added.
“I left it by the burn.”
“I wager no basket exists.”
“You must let me go,” she repeated as firmly as she could, but Rob saw the shallow, frantic throbbing of her blood in the sweet curve of her throat.
“I must do nothing ye say of me,” he told her. “I am Robert David Bruce MacKenzie, cousin and officer to Edward Bruce and cousin to Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland.“ He smiled grimly. “And you, my lady, are my prisoner and at my command.”
* * * * *
Charbonneau re-settled the hat on his head to better shade his face from the relentless Australian sunshine and crossed the square. Sydney was much nicer since they had banned all traffic except pedestrian, but even the speedy slide walks didn’t help against the belting heat. He crossed the square, looking up to his left every now and again towards the big coat-hanger shaped bridge.
Bigger still—and more mind-boggling—was the cable that snaked up into the sky behind it. It rose, and continued to rise, until it disappeared from sight. It was the first time he had seen the Sydney beanstalk for himself and it was just as attention-grabbing as friends had warned him it would be.
On the side of the square he was heading for there was a long row of terraced professional buildings with eclectic designer fascias made of materials designed to look natural; faux stone, brick and wooden sidings. The retro-look had been fashionable fifty years ago, when the square had been renovated and the tenants and buyers had all possessed well-moneyed reputations that matched the up-market location and price of the trendy buildings.
Half a century later, the buildings were still in well-preserved states, thanks to upscale clientele and thriving businesses housed within.
Charbonneau saw the familiar subdued, classic logo over the door of one of the buildings with a stone fascia. He wove his way through the tourists and day-trippers, shoppers and strollers. Many of them were standing and staring at the beanstalk or capturing images. The square was a prime viewpoint for watching the cable cars head up the stalk, another reason for the premium cost of the real estate around here.
Charbonneau pushed open the polarized door beneath the logo, stepped out of the sun gratefully and took off his hat.
A woman in a classic early twenty-first century suit stood up as he entered and flashed him a smile. Human, he categorized and possibly on her second regeneration. It was getting harder to tell these days, as cellular restructuring grew more sophisticated.
He smiled back, to disarm her.
“Welcome to Chronologic Tours, sir,” she told him. “Is there someone I can let know you are here?”
,” he returned. “It was merely impulse, a whim. Is there someone I can speak to? I do not wish to cause trouble at all.”
Il est sans ennui
,” she assured him in perfect French. “We’re delighted you decided to visit us.” She glanced down at the screen embedded in her desk. “Would you be willing to share your name with me, so I can introduce you properly to one of our representatives?”
, Charbonneau thought. It was possible they were already trying to scan his retina, or his pheromone signature, so she could assess if he were a threat or not. But she was asking to use his name, to save embarrassing or alarming him with their security screening.
“You can call me Charbonneau,” he told her. “That will do. For now.” His implied promise of future frankness at least matched their good manners.
She led him into a room that might have been a waiting room or a sales office, but really looked more like a private library or lounge room, with dark walls and what had to be a very fake, very sincere-looking fireplace in the corner, that crackled and popped comfortably. There was no desk. A sofa and a coffee table were grouped in the middle of the room and a pair of armchairs flanked the fire.
“This is our Roosevelt room,” she explained, plumping up a cushion and offering him one of the armchairs. “It is an historical replica, of course.”
“Of course.” Charbonneau sat down to wait, letting them complete their unobtrusive scanning without protest. The fun would start as soon as they had processed the feedback. He could be patient.
* * * * *
Rob dragged the servant and his lady into the encampment shortly after the mid-day lull, when everyone was busy with new-found energy and enthusiasm. It also meant everyone would be focused on the castle, so his two captives would rouse the least amount of interest.
He avoided asking himself why he wanted to draw no attention. Later, he would think about it.
For now, the woman’s servant was trouble enough to deal with. He pushed his boot into the man’s behind, encouraging him to keep moving. The man was staggering and moving slowly, making hard going of it.
Rob was puzzled by the man’s over-reaction to the bloody nose and having his hands fastened behind his back. The man was simply terrified, making Rob wonder how long he had been in the service of gentry. In this day and age, capture and ransom was the way of things. Rob had been gentle enough with him, considering.
Rob tugged on Thunder’s halter, encouraging the horse to follow the man’s uneven progress. He glanced up at the woman on Thunder’s saddle. She had managed to arrange her gown so that not even an ankle was revealed, despite her hands being tied to the horse.
“Do ye have a name you’ll give me?” he asked of her.
She glanced at him. “One ye’ll believe is mine?”
She had him there.
“But if ye give me ye name,” Rob countered, “The quicker this’ll all be done with. If ye don’t, we must figure out who ye be and it’ll all take the longer. An army camp is no place for a lady, I assure ye. Even an English one.”
an English one, in this camp,” she amended. “But you fail to mention that the English king will be here to save his castle before midsummer. If I am English, I will also be saved.”
Rob snorted. “Yon Edward won’t move his buttocks out of England, not even for his last Scottish castle. Dinna hold ye breath for that.”
“He will,” she said softly. Firmly. “You’ve given him just the excuse he needs to march his army into Scotland and break King Robert and every last man of ye.”
Rob halted the horse and looked up at her. “How’s a fine young thing as you get to know of such matters?” he said sharply.
She hesitated and he could feel her caution. “I am a woman. Men speak freely in front of me because I am of no account. So I hear things.”
“And remember them, aye?” Rob nudged Thunder back into motion. “Ye confirm with every word yer high status, my lady. I’m thinking ye’ll raise a goodly number of coins.”
“I think you’ll be surprised,” she returned, still speaking softly. Her assured manner was more the fit of a much older woman, or even a man seasoned in battle or politics. Yet she seemed barely to have blossomed into womanhood.
And a fine, fine womanhood it was
, a voice whispered in Rob’s mind.
He tugged at Thunder’s halter irritably, making the big beast snort a protest, for he was already moving forward. Rob scowled at the muddy ground they were crossing, trying not to glance over his shoulder at the fresh young thing sitting on his saddle. The English army might think nothing of returning a woman to her family with her virtue spoiled and her innocence gone, but that didn’t happen in Robert’s army. Well, not in Edward Bruce’s army, at least.
Rob kicked the whimpering manservant again, as he amended the thought.
Not in my charge, then. Not while she belongs to me
“You’d better hope your English king hurries himself,” he told her, keeping his eyes on his tent, fifteen paces ahead, where he could lock her away from his sight and his thoughts. “If ye’ll not tell me who ye are, he is ye best hope for rescue.”
“He is not my king,” she returned, “Any more than he is your king.”
“So ye say.” It was a feeble retort, but the best he could manage. Suddenly, he was desperate to return to the mindless watch at the base of the castle and the ribald masculine chatter around the building of the siege engines. Even Prince Edward’s sharp tongue would be welcome.
“My name is
,” she murmured. Her voice seemed to whisper in his ear.
He reached up and released her hands from their bonds and grasped the trim waist to assist her down. His fingers nearly met and his body tightened in response. He could feel warmth and soft flesh, beneath the cloth of her gown.
He cleared his throat. The rope was still fastened around each wrist and he gripped it, looking at her. “Ye give me ye word ye won’t try to escape and I’ll leave the bonds be.”
“I canna do that.”
He sighed and pulled her into the warm, dim tent, leaving her manservant crouched, whimpering, on the ground beneath Thunder’s nose. He’d deal with him after.