Nightshine, p.14
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       Nightshine, p.14

         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
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Page 14


  She heard the unasked question in his voice, but there was no way in hell she was confiding in him now. “My ability isn’t going to help us. ” She walked inside.

  He closed the door behind her. “I don’t wish to pry, Charlotte. I know how personal our talents are. But if there is anything you can do to improve our situation—”

  “There’s nothing. ” It wasn’t her fault she got stuck with the one ability that had absolutely no value on a deserted island, so why did she feel guilty? “Come on; I’ll give you a tour of the place. ”

  Inside the villa she took him to the large, well-equipped kitchen and showed him the generous quantities of food that had been stored for them. “No freezer, and no prepackaged or canned stuff in the pantry, but there’s a tank over there with live lobsters and maybe some oysters or clams. ”

  He sorted through the vegetables and fruit in the refrigerator bins. “Garlic, asparagus, gingerroot, avocados, peppers, carrots, peppers, pineapples, strawberries. Odd assortment. ”

  “The bins in the cabinets are filled with root vegetables,” she told him as he removed a gallon-size plastic container filled with an amber liquid and opened the lid. “What’s that? Apple juice?”

  He sniffed the contents. “Honey. ” He frowned. “This doesn’t make any sense. What other foods have you found?”

  “I haven’t found any sugar or flour or baking stuff, but there’s a cabinet filled with spices over here. ” She opened the cabinet. “They’re not labeled, but looks like lots of seeds, some dried herbs, different types of pepper. ” She took out a plastic bag packed with what looked like long black bean pods and another filled with purple and reddish brown beans. “Either of these look familiar to you?”

  “The long pods are vanilla bean, I believe. ” He eyed the other bag. “The other might be cocoa. ” When he put the container back in the fridge he took a black fig from the bin and began to break it open.

  “No,” she said, taking it away from him and dropping it back in the bin. “We don’t know what’s in this stuff. ”

  He frowned. “It looked like a fig to me. ”

  “A fig that this wacko could have injected with more sedatives, or some kind of hallucinogen. ” She closed the door to the fridge.

  “I’m sure it hasn’t been tampered with,” he assured her, showing her his hands, and then looked up at the four large glass dome light fixtures. “Charlotte, are all the lights in the house electric?”

  “Everything I’ve seen is. ” She caught on to what he meant. “How do you have power on a deserted island?”

  “If there were generators, I think we would have heard them when we were outside. ” He studied the primitive pottery displayed in the glass-fronted niches above the cabinetry, and then the empty counters below them. “You didn’t find any cookware, did you?”

  “No. All the dishes and utensils are plastic or foam, so cleanup will be easy. ” She wanted to ask him what he was thinking, but even a whisper might be picked up by hidden mics or the security camera in the corner of the ceiling. “Come on; you’ve got to see the living room in this place. ”

  Charlie led him out of the kitchen and across the hall to the large room she had mentally dubbed “the pit. ” Bright orange, purple, and blue wall murals imitated a tropical sunset, and made a dramatic backdrop for three different pit groups in matching colored velvet, suede, and raw silk. Swags of metallic ribbons and silk flowers hung down over wide windows offering different views of the greenery outside.

  “If it were any brighter in here, I’d probably develop instantaneous cataracts. ” Charlie picked up one of the intricately embroidered pillows that had been scattered around the cushions. “How are you supposed to take a nap in a room like this?”

  “I don’t think napping was the decorator’s intention. ” Sam reached out and ran his hand over the purple velvet before turning his head to look back through the door at the kitchen. “Are the other rooms like this?”

  “Some variations on the theme, but basically, yes. Nice furniture, bright colors, lots of fancy fabrics. No televisions, stereos, or other electronic gadgets that could tell us where the hell we are, but art on all the walls and plenty of color-coordinated fruit. ” She eyed the basket of pomegranates, tangerines, and plums on the low table in the center of one pit group. Something about the fruit nagged at her, but she didn’t know why.

  “Let’s have a look at that speaker in the bedroom,” Sam suggested.

  Before they went into the bedroom upstairs, Charlie showed Sam the exam room.

  “It’s got everything you’d find in a treatment room in any trauma center,” she said as she sat on the end of the exam table. “I could even run labs in here. ”

  “Indeed. ” Sam peered into one cabinet. “Why would you need to?”

  “I don’t know, but this is the weirdest thing. ” She showed him the blood in cold storage. “Twenty-eight pints—enough to transfuse a dozen patients—but not a mark on one of them. I can’t even tell if it’s human blood unless I run some tests. ”

  Sam walked around the exam table. “What are these?” he asked, touching one of the corner universal socket clamps.

  “We use them to attach add-ons and extensions to the table, like arm boards, IV pools, stirrups, that kind of thing. ” She bent over to open one of the drawers under the table. “He stowed the extensions under here. ”

  His expression turned bleak as he turned his back on the security camera and took her hand. “I could use a hug,” he said, shifting his eyes up. As soon as she gave him a decidedly reluctant embrace, he put his mouth next to her ear and murmured, “Any surgical equipment?” Quickly she shook her head. “Good. ”

  She didn’t know whether she agreed, especially since the nearest hospital might as well have been on the surface of the moon. “Just don’t burst an appendix anytime soon, okay?” she muttered back.

  He kept one arm around her as they left the treatment room and went down the hall to the master bedroom suite. Once inside Samuel went directly to the wall speaker to inspect it, giving Charlie a moment to compose herself.

  The stress of the last twenty-four hours combined with discovering that the rich, handsome stranger whose life she’d saved was someone she had considered her closest friend in the world had begun to grind on her. Her EMT training was the only reason she hadn’t dissolved into a puddle of helpless feminine goo, and now that Sam had miraculously recovered she wasn’t too sure how much longer that would keep her from going all girly on him.

  Some of it was on him, Charlie decided. He’d kept far too much from her. Although the group had agreed that concealing their identities and locations was an important safeguard, she and Paracelsus had grown close enough to share more than a few intimate details of their lives. He’d always listened whenever she’d needed to vent, and had given her advice on how to handle the loneliness and depression that came with being Takyn. She’d even trusted him enough to tell him about her last disastrous attempt at a relationship.

  He told me he wanted to go to the nightclub so we could dance, she’d typed one night via IM. But he only took me there because he had a bad day, and he wanted to get loaded and flirt with everything in a skirt. You know what he had planned? A threesome. Me, him, and some waitress he wanted more than me.

  At least he showed you his real character before you got serious about him, Paracelsus had replied. Imagine how you’d feel if you were living with him and he’d brought that waitress home.

  You’re right, I know, and it’s better that I found out before I got too involved. She hesitated before she added, Don’t you get tired of it? Always being by yourself, never having anyone to love?

  Of course I do, he admitted. Everyone does. When I feel lonely, I remind myself of how fortunate I am to have friends like you. I may live the rest of my life without a partner, but I never have to be alone. I carry you and the others with me in my heart, Magdalene.

  Sure he does, she thought, pushing the memory out of her head as she went back to watching him examine the speaker. Right next to his platinum credit cards.

  “This is wired to a radio receiver behind it in the wall. ” He gestured to the perforated plate. “It was not set up to transmit. ”

  “Maybe he didn’t need it to. ” As a warning, she glanced up at the cameras.

  “It’s more than that. ” He took her over to the glass wall, turning her so that they both stood with their backs to the cameras. “When I touched the speaker, I saw the technician who installed the equipment. The cameras transmit only a video feed, and there are no other monitoring devices in the villa. ”

  “So the son of a bitch is watching us, but he can’t hear us. I guess when you’re making homemade porn you don’t need the audio. ” She leaned forward to press her forehead against the cool glass and closed her eyes. “God, I hate this. ”

  “You must be exhausted. ” His hand cupped the back of her neck. “You should rest for a few hours. ”

  “No, I’m fine. ” She straightened at once. “He could come back in a few hours. What we need to do is—”

  “Buenas tardes, Señor Taske, Señorita Marena,” the man’s voice said from the speaker. “We are happy to see you becoming familiar with your new home. As you have now discovered, you have everything you need to live comfortably at Séptima Casa. Since Señor Taske has completely recovered from his injury, you may now begin your new life together. ”

  “Our new life. ” Charlie wanted to throw something at the camera. “You don’t decide how we live, you jackass. You hear me?”

  “Señor Taske, if your companion has not yet informed you of this, there are two rules you both must obey,” the man continued. “The first is that you must never attempt to escape the island. The second is that you and Señorita Marena are to have sexual intercourse at least once each day. ”
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