book preview of THE VAULT



the vault

A final scene, a scene of an unplanned
yet gifted night of sensuality at the end of the story in
Fenceless Asylum forms the initial scene to
The Vault.  Unbeknown to
McKinnon’s constant character, James Bergen, this night of innocent corporeal
pleasure was not so innocent.

In a previous story,
Rag Doll
, James Bergen and the Russian assassin known as Varvara Alekseeva
at the time had also spent a similar unexpected night together. That particular
event yielded, against the odds, a beautiful girl child whom she named Tatyana.
In that story Varvara found her estranged mother and also took back her real
birth name of Anna Lovansky in the process. James and Varvara followed different
roads to their respective lives at that point, although as years passed they
often thought of one another. Anna built a new life for herself and her daughter
and also opened a small orphanage for girls. She had never told James that
Tatyana was his daughter. She made sure that Tatyana felt secure within her
mother’s love.

James had opted for a quiet life due to many personal
disappointments and had found a tranquil, if not sometimes lonely place to find
some solace. 

Anna’s life was full with love and good things. It was
peaceful. However yet again, her life was turned upside down in an instant. The
incessant evils of this planet rubbed shoulders with her once more. Someone had
taken her beloved daughter. Most mothers would do anything to find a missing
child, but if there was one mother and child that you wouldn’t put yourself
between, it would be Anna Lovansky. In a state of panic her emotional instinct
was to call James. “Pick up, James. Pick up, goddamn you!”…….. 

In Store Price: $29.00 

Online Price:   $28.00


Ebook version –




Number of pages: 284
Genre: Fiction
Cover: Clive Dalkins


Butterfly Kisses
(Poseidon, 2006)Curse
of the Wings

(Poseidon, 2007)Czech

(Poseidon, 2011)
Rag Doll
(Poseidon, 2014)
Fenceless Asylum
(Poseidon, 2014)


Daniel McKinnon

Imprint: Poseidon

Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published:  2015
Language: English






About the Author



‘The Vault’
is a work of fiction. The author’s comment is that; names, the inclusions of
places, events, times, happenings and references to government agencies and
their activities in connection to this story are all fictional, and that any
real life connections to the same are purely coincidental.

Life’s merry-go-round of
unexpected changes gave the author the motivation to look outside of the normal
previous structures of his life that had been a security blanket of a type and
perhaps even a habit for him. He had found himself like most other people,
grinding away to fulfil the expectancies of others including those of the
greater system that we live in. He had often found that his viewpoints on all of
this conflicted with many of those that he rubbed shoulders with. With an inner
conviction to try and stay as true to one’s self as one could, he re-assessed
what he saw as being important to him.

In reflection, what he came
up with was that few of us actually spend much of our lives doing things that
make us feel passionate or even fulfilled. All too often it seemed that the
masses just did what culture, family, media, organised religion, the government
and other institutions almost demanded of them; sometimes even bullied them to
do and even how they should do it.

In balance, the imposed
economics of this structured world hampered the efforts of many to address this.
So the only choices to change that he could see had to come internally. In
retrospect he found that it wasn’t that easy to overturn decades of entrenched
directional thinking.  However, he
addressed it all in the same manner that it had all been infused to begin with;

When things don’t go right
in life as they often don’t it is important to have a plan ‘B’. In discussions
with friends on this subject, he noted that many people’s plan ‘B’ was just
another version of plan ‘A’ with a different engine. Seldom did many set up a
plan ‘B’ that arrested the original problem. The plan set aside in simple terms,
often basically went like; ‘when I get my new house, my new car, my new
girlfriend my new wife or husband, my trip or my new shiny shoes my life will be
fulfilled. If I lose my high paying job to achieve all this, I’ll borrow some
money and buy a business and work hard to chase down my goal’. The problem was
that plan ‘B’ was just a different engine to chase the same goal that made them
feel depleted in the first place. It’s an endless cycle and designed that way.

The author isn’t suggesting
that it is necessarily wrong to want those ‘normal’ things. What happens though
if you come to the realization that the majority of people in this period of
time won’t achieve a magical point of satisfaction gained by reaching out to
hold that plan or dream? What happens if you did manage to ‘get there’ and
changes of circumstance then whisked it all away? How would you cope mentally
and emotionally?

Plan ‘B’ has to be about the
soul and the mind. Life is just a thought; nothing more than a perception; a
chemical imprint in our brain of the ever changing circumstances around us all.
Our realities are based on how we are able to desalinate the imagery, how we
process it and what we then choose to be our personal reality, but even then,
it’s only just a thought.

Life is much like a sailing
trip where one had to constantly trim the sails to fit the change of wind
direction. One experience that stood by the author was early years spent in
rural circumstance. A rural life often refined people like a smelter did
precious metals. ‘Dyed in the wool’ rural folk are often more in touch with
life’s pyramid of human needs as opposed to the mountains of human greeds
nurtured in plastic environs and fabricated warrens of high density living . The
author made hard decisions to create a change to his surrounds and mental feed

The changes made by taking a
simpler approach to his daily life found him living in a very small village in a
pristine valley surrounded by the daily wonders of nature and people with values
that reflected all that. The changes surrounding a move to southern Tasmania
also gave him an opportunity to find time and space to write and reflect;
breathe and deflect. As his tailored suits, silk ties and expensive leather
shoes grew mould in the wardrobe, he found himself in worn out jeans and scruffy
jackets sitting around blackened iron fire pots in soiled work boots discussing
life and all it meant with people who would call it like it is; say it like it
is; people who dealt with it all in the most pragmatic of ways.

The author had always had a
creative and sometimes complicated mind. He had always loved the artistic and
more mystical props of this life that could take you away to another place; to
another dimension. ‘Life is after all just a thought’. The author enjoyed
reading and experiencing the works of many authors over the years although not
an avid reader in his youth. However there was one early influence that had sown
a tiny seed that now directed his style of storytelling. The author had an older
cousin in his youth that had a collection of Ian Fleming’s intriguing stories of
outlandish espionage. His parent’s didn’t allow him to read this kind of
literature but he would sneak over to his cousin’s house and read some of the
novels in his cousin’s collection. The colourful characters fascinated him. The
stories excited him.

The seed stayed dormant. A
very structured life then changed and turned upside down for the author in a
latter period of his life. For many years after that he had felt lost, now
finding himself living alone. Writing became a friend; a passionate friend. The
author will admit that like many new writers, his first offerings emerged
tainted with personal rants and misgivings that dredged up from within.

However during the
turbulence of these years he met some new wonderful and fascinating people. One
of those people who in particular had influenced the flavour of his emerging
stories was also instrumental in exposing him to the romantic surroundings of
Eastern Europe. He took several vocational trips to that part of the world and
enjoyed time with his friend who seemed to have mystically tapped into his inner
thoughts and passions. She exposed him to situations and experiences that were
normal enough within them but with a little imagination were easily transposed
into the tastes and flavours cognisant with the scenes in the books he had read
as boy. 

With a little water, the
tiny seed grew into an enjoyable passion. The author trusts that you will enjoy
the unfolding of ‘The Vault’.



Anna Lovansky had hung up her guns, both figuratively and literally. She had
totally changed the life she had lived as Varvara Alekseeva; one of the best
assassins in the business. Love had briefly come into her life, a gift from a
mysterious night of long-awaited affection shared with James Bergen. Love had
stayed in her life from the result, a wonderful baby girl she named Tatyana.

Anna and James had
gone their separate ways. James had moved back to the more familiar surroundings
of his homeland. Anna had buried herself in the disciplines of motherhood and
businesswoman running a charitable home for orphaned children. Life had been
running smoothly for her and except for the occasional tug on the strings of
loneliness, she was content and grateful to have been given the chance to create
distance and a difference from her previous world.

James was probably
more acceptant than totally content but was living a quiet life in serene
surroundings. His life had taken a dozen tumultuous, unexpected and uninvited
turns, so he was okay with what was. Life had exhausted him emotionally, so the
respite was welcome and most probably needed. He thought of Anna from time to
time and she often thought about him. They both wanted to see each other again
one day; maybe one day that would happen.

Unbeknown to each
other, they had both shared a troublesome dream; the same dream. On one night no
different to any other, Anna’s sleep had been broken by the reappearance of the
strange dream. Casually, she went to the kitchen and made tea. By habit she
checked on the object of her affections, the one who had changed her whole life.
However, when she quietly pushed the bedroom door aside, a sudden shock coursed
through her mind and body. Tatyana’s bed was empty! She frantically searched
every inch of the house but she was gone!

Her immediate thought
was to ring James, but he didn’t answer. Panic rose, but this crack in the wall
of her structured life was only one of many more to follow. The furtive trail to
find her missing daughter would unveil a nest of hidden secrets.

Every mother would do
whatever was possible to stand by their child but if there were one mother you
really shouldn’t put between you and her child, it would be Anna Lovansky. The
average person might even have outer limits as to how far they would go, but
when it came to Tatyana, Anna had no limits.

She will find you …


Chapter One

Without a Trace


St Petersburg:


A trickle of cold sweat unhurriedly made its way down to the bridge of Anna
Lovansky’s pretty nose as the mobile phone in her clammy hand fruitlessly
persisted in trying to connect. The phone, at the other end was turned off.
Anna’s stomach soured and lurched uncontrollably inside of her. Tatyana was not
in her bed nor was she able to be found anywhere in the house. Both Tatyana and
her favourite rag doll were missing, gone without a trace.

It was still early in
the morning and Darya would be fast asleep. The faithful friend had been a
second mother to her after Anna’s own mother, Inessa, had recently passed away.
In reality Darya had always been a second mother to her even before her mother’s
passing and she loved her as one. She let the old woman sleep. Darya worked too
hard for her age at Anna’s small orphanage, Ravenswood, but that kept her going.

At this moment Anna
felt sick and more alone than she had for many years. Tatyana and Anna were very
close. It was not possible for Tatyana, now nearly five years old, to have
wandered off, she told herself. Someone had to have taken her. When the morning
light came Anna would judiciously check everything to see what evidence there
was around her secure property. In a previous life under the alias Varvara
Alekseeva, Ephron Reiner’s number one and extremely potent assassin, someone
would have to be very stupid or very powerful and confident to do this to her.

Anna’s life was very
different these days; she was very
different. In years past her very soul had been soured from the violence and the
cold sterile darkness of the life she had once led. Life had thrown her an
opportunity; the universe had gifted her this beautiful girl child in mysterious
circumstances. She had lived with bitterness but she seized the chance and
changed her entire world accordingly. Love was the drug that set her life ablaze
with transforming light. Everything had been near perfect since. Maybe her early
training from life’s university should have made her feel less vulnerable than
how she felt right now. Right now it didn’t.

She had made enemies
without a doubt in those days and she had rubbed shoulders with the sewer rats
she knew pulled the strings from above the heavy curtains in the world’s
never-ending play of misery. This was the exact reason she hadn’t called anyone
in authority immediately—if this was what she was thinking, in her learned
opinion they would be of little use. Her heart was pounding; nervous sweat was
beading just like it had during her disturbing dream that same night. Inessa had
‘the gift’ and was able to connect to many things not tangible. She would have
connected all the parts of this dream. While Anna had some of her mother’s
extraordinary intuitions most of the gift had been passed on to Tatyana. Her tea
now cold in the cup, Anna sat in the kitchen in semi-darkness on a breakfast bar
stool recounting her dream. She drummed her fingers on the benchtop as she did

A cold shiver shot
down her spine as the scene replayed. Icy particles and vapours of mist swirled
around her as she stood there upon the frozen lake. She was aware of a barely
visible, intermittent small flame, a flicker of light somewhere amongst the
mist. For whatever reason, she had the feeling it was connected to a kindred
spirit. In her mind’s eye the flame was a lantern on the bow of a frozen boat; a
Norse timber boat stuck hard in the winter freeze.

A thunderous noise
coming from the end of the now-solid lake distracted her attention away from the
flicker of light in the mist. It took time to make out what it was that made the
brouhaha. A break in the mist gave her a view; a warrior; a war lord; a huge man
dressed in the skins of many animals astride an eight-legged horse; a giant
metal javelin in his hand. The pounding hooves of the beast he rode shattered
the ice and splintered slivers of it into the clouds of spraying ice and snow
that followed his determined route. Behind him the spill of an equally frozen
gorge emptied into the lake and joined with it solidly. The narrow gorge wound
its way through gigantic boulders.

The warrior’s
foreboding blood-red eyes almost shone within the mist as the thunderous noise
of the pounding hooves increased. Wolves kept pace beside him and a flight of
ravens just above his head completed the entourage. Then … then she heard it;
the faint cry of a voice coming from high up the ravine between her and the
warrior; a faint feminine voice. Anna could not make out what the voice said.

She sat silent and
still at the breakfast bar in the semi-darkness recounting all of it. It was
some time before she pulled herself out of the mesmerizing fixation of the
dream. ‘What did it all mean and why this dream at the same time as Tatyana’s
disappearance?’ Inessa could have read its details in a flash, but Inessa wasn’t
there. She would have to work it out for herself.

Fragments of the
dream kept spinning around at random in her head. A freeze-frame of the
flickering flame in the mist passed through her mind’s camera. She dialled the
same number again. “God dammit, James, why are you not picking up? Pick up!” The
message was the same, ‘the mobile phone
you are calling is either switched off or not in a mobile phone area

The situation—the
possibility of your child, your only child, being stolen from her own bed would
be mind-numbing enough for any mother. For Anna, who had lived most of her
earlier life as a victim of that very circumstance, it had the prospect of
becoming mind shattering. She glanced across at the draining bench beside the
sink. The remnants of a glass of milk and a small plate that had held a fruit
cookie, both of which she had taken to Tatyana earlier in the night sat in want
of rinsing. A slideshow of her own horrible stolen years started in her head,
slide after slide of disgusting and hideous memories.

“No, no, this is
not the situation! It can’t be! It must be something more innocent
than abduction!” It was getting closer to the break of day. Anna ran to her
bedroom and dressed in a warm tracksuit and sports shoes. She grabbed a torch
and headed to the front door. She had already combed every inch of the house
inside and had searched around outside in the darkness. She would scour the
well-secured property outside more thoroughly.

After an hour and a
half she found nothing out of place, nothing that could even hint that anyone
had been lurking outside or any sign to suggest a struggle with a kidnap victim.
All the windows were secure as was the automatic wrought iron gates that formed
the only ingress to the high-walled perimeter of the property. She pressed the
opening button for the gates and started to inspect the quiet street. It was a
quiet elite estate with only three other houses in proximity. All were in
darkness with no signs of life as yet. There had been a light rain during the
night and the sealed roadway held no evidence of tyre marks or the residue of
anything foreign like dirt or mud.

She had no
constructive reason for her persistence in calling James, as there was nothing
he could do, but due to some instinctive longing she felt she needed to hear his
voice. Anna tried again to no avail and then made a call to Darya.

Darya recognised the
number as she sleepily checked her phone beside the bed but when she accepted
the call she couldn’t hear Anna on the other end. “Anna, what’s wrong, girl?
Anna, speak to me.” All Darya could hear was nervous and irregular breathing.
“Anna, talk to me. Has something happened?” Finally Anna calmed herself enough
to reply.

“She’s gone! My
Tatyana’s gone. They’ve taken her!”

“What do you mean,
gone? Who’s taken her? Are the police there? Anna?”

Darya could hear
bitter sobbing before Anna abruptly hung up. She leapt out of bed in her room at
Ravenswood and threw a dressing robe over her warm, brushed-cotton pyjamas and
headed for her silver, Asian-built SUV parked in the laneway that led to the
orphanage service and goods bay. She knew there were night staff still working
their shift to look after the children. Darya spun out onto the damp road and
put her foot down hard. She was old in years but not in spirit. Anna’s home was
only fifteen minutes from the orphanage—she’d make it in ten.

As she turned the
corner into the no-through lane that serviced Anna’s property she could see a
huddle of light grey material lying on the wet grass through the open gates.
Darya spun into the driveway and slammed on the brakes bringing the vehicle to a
sudden, skidding stop. She threw the door wide open and ran to Anna. She was
soaking wet from the sodden grass and the flooding of tears pouring from her
eyes like water from an irrigation outlet upon each mournful sob. Anna’s body
was quivering in emotional agony.

Darya pulled her to
her feet, put her arm around her and marched her inside, straight into the
shower. Darya spun the handle on the hot tap and then helped her off with her
wet clothing before almost pushing her into the open cubicle. “Get some heat
back into your bones, girl and I’ll make us some hot tea. Then you had better
tell me what in hell has happened.”

As Anna pulled
herself together in the shower, Darya switched the button of the stainless steel
kettle to boil and arranged two fine porcelain cups ready for hot tea. She was
about to wash up the glass and plate from Tatyana’s bedtime snack but left them.
She prepared some toast and waited for Anna. Living on the outskirts of a city
of five million people meant the sound of emergency sirens wailing in the
distance wasn’t an alarming occurrence; it maybe one more road accident or an
elderly citizen falling victim to a heart attack. There were more disturbing
things to discuss.


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