Nightshine, p.15
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       Nightshine, p.15

         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
Page 15


  Charlie felt like screaming. “What’s the matter, you pervert? Can’t you get off unless you watch someone else doing it? Why don’t you just go buy some dirty movies?”

  “Charlotte. ” Sam gestured for her to be quiet.

  “. . . ignore these rules,” the man was saying, “you will be punished. ”

  Samuel waved his hands at the camera, and then said very slowly, “We must speak with you. Why are we here? What is the punishment for breaking the rules?”

  “You said he can’t hear us,” she reminded him.

  “He may be able to read my lips,” Samuel replied.

  Several moments of silence passed, and then the man’s voice spoke again. “Buenas tardes, Señor Taske, Señorita Marena. We are happy to see you becoming familiar with your new home. . . . ”

  “It’s a recording, just like yesterday. ” Charlie sat on the floor, propping her elbows on her knees as she pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “How can he punish us when we’re stranded alone on an island?”

  “You’re assuming we’re alone. ”

  “If the pervert or anyone else was around, I’d have sensed them last night. ” Aware that she’d just given herself away, she got up, opened the sliding door, and walked out onto the patio.

  Samuel joined her at the railing. “Either your hearing is exceptional, or you’re some sort of a telepath. ”

  “Telepaths can communicate back and forth. I’m more like a satellite dish. All I can do is pick up thoughts. ” She rubbed her tired eyes. “Don’t waste any time thinking of your favorite color, either, because it only works at night. During the day I’m as oblivious as any other ordinary woman. ”

  Her sarcasm seemed to elude him. “A nocturnal em-path. ” He sounded thoughtful. “Does your ability have any other limitations? Range, for example?”

  Her mouth twisted. “Not many. ” Sunlight pierced the foliage beyond the patio, revealing something she hadn’t noticed before. From the position of the sun, Charlie knew it would be setting soon. She glanced around until she spied the cover fitted over the large hot tub, and took his hand. “Come on. Let’s see if that Jacuzzi over there works. ”

  He frowned. “Charlotte, you really should try to get some sleep. ”

  “Oh, I plan to. ” She threaded her fingers through his. “After we have sex. ”


  Seventh House

  Chapter 6

  September 29, 1987

  Malibu, California

  “The attorney called. ” Brent Collins handed his T wife a snifter, his hand shaking so badly that the inch of dark Calvados at the bottom threatened to slosh over the rim. “There is nothing more he can do for us. ”

  “Not since he’s run through the retainer. Bastard. ” Randa Collins drank half the brandy before cradling the delicate crystal bowl between her manicured hands. She thought of the List, her mental tally of their wealthy, influential, and elite friends. Too many names had been crossed off in the past week, but there was always someone left. Someone in need of her personal attention . . . “I’ll get in touch with Howard. Under the circumstances, certainly he can arrange a reasonable loan—”

  “Howard’s dead, darling. He ate a bottle of pills last night. ” Brent put a hand on the top of her head briefly before wandering over to the deck window. “Ron’s gone to hide in Barbados; Carl’s already filed and intends to move in with his parents. ”

  Randa refused to believe it was this bad, and set aside the drink. “What about Jerry? He was your best friend at Yale. ”

  “He’s testifying before Congress next week. ” Brent tucked his hands into his pockets. “One of the many conditions attached to his plea agreement. ”


  The low, sweet voice grated against Randa’s ears, and she had to take a moment to compose her expression before she turned to look at her daughter. “Emily, you’re supposed to be asleep by now. ” A resentful corner of her heart added, And you weren’t supposed to be so big, or dark, or whiny.

  “I know. ” The six-year-old hung her head. “But no one came to kiss me good night. ”

  “Daddy and I have been busy. ” Randa rose, absently smoothing down the folds of her dress before she picked up the house phone and pressed nine. When Emily’s nanny answered, she said, “Mary, Miss Collins has come downstairs. She needs to be taken back to the nursery. ” She ignored the nanny’s hurried apology and replaced the receiver.

  Brent walked over to crouch down in front of their daughter. “We didn’t mean to forget you, sweetheart. Mommy and I just . . . needed to talk about things. ” She slipped into his arms and buried her face against his neck. “Did you have another bad dream?”

  Under his chin, her untidy black mop moved from side to side. “Miss Mary is upset. She’s going away in the morning. ”

  “What did you say?” Randa’s heels made sharp sounds as she strode across the imported marble and grabbed Emily by the arm. “Did she tell you she was leaving?”

  “No, Mommy. ” Her daughter cringed. “It was the fairies again. They told me she was. ”

  “For God’s sake. ” She let go of Emily with a contemptuous fling of her hand. “I’ve told you a dozen times, there are no such things as fairies. ”

  “Randie. ” Brent looked up and shook his head a little. To Emily, he said, “You just stop listening to those fairies and go to sleep like a good girl, all right?”

  “Yes, Daddy. ”

  The disheveled nanny came through the doors and hurried over to take Emily’s hand. “I’m so sorry, Mrs. Collins. I thought she was already asleep. I did check on her before I went to bed, and—”

  “I’m sure you did. That will be all. ” Randa gave the door a direct look.

  When the nanny began walking Emily out, the little girl dragged against her arm and looked back at her parents. “You’ll come up to tuck me in, Daddy?”

  Brent smiled. “In a few minutes, sweetheart. ” As soon as the child and the nanny left, his expression faded into bleakness. “We’ll have to call Chicago first thing in the morning. ”

  “I already did,” Randa told him. “They won’t take her back, not now. They’ve destroyed the paperwork, but we have to deal with getting rid of her. ” She might as well tell him the rest. “I called an adoption attorney, and he’s been looking for a girl her age. He says he can place her with a wealthy couple in Mexico. ”

  “My God. ” Brent whitened. “Randa, she’s just a little girl. None of this is her fault. ”

  Randa knew her husband. Brent, an only child, had been worshiped by his parents since the moment he’d been yanked from between his mother’s legs, and after they died he’d gone looking for new groupies. She’d been happy to cater to him for the duration of their courtship, but she’d never been interested in wasting her life playing his adoring fan. A child had been the logical answer, but rather than destroy her body she’d arranged Emily’s adoption.

  Randa didn’t care what happened to Emily now, but she had to think about her future. “Darling, it’s better this way. I’m sure she’ll be well treated by these Mexicans. After all, they’re probably her people. ”

  Brent began to pace. “We’ll turn her over to the authorities. They’ll put her in foster care here in the States. ”

  “You mean, drop her off at the nearest police station?” Randa felt a surge of bitter amusement. “I think they’ll want to know who you are and where you found her. Are you going to tell them how we bought her, or why you can’t take care of her anymore?”

  His expression turned stubborn. “It doesn’t have to be me. I’ll pay Mary to take her to them after we leave in the morning. ”

  She rested her head against her hand. “Where do you think we’re going, lover? The money’s gone. Our friends are wiped out. At least Howard only swindled you. If you’d been in bed with him, they’d be coming after you now. ” She saw his expression and
shot to her feet. “Oh, for God’s sake, Brent. How could you be so fucking stupid?”

  He hung his head. “Howard needed more investors, and I had the connections. He made me a partner and tripled my percentage. It shouldn’t have fallen apart so quickly. He swore to me—”

  “Swore to you?” she shouted. “Don’t you see, you idiot? Howard is dead, and Ron is testifying. That leaves you to be the fall guy. They’re going to come after you for all this now. You’ll be the one they splash all over the papers and parade on television and drag off to prison. ”

  Brent wouldn’t look at her. “It doesn’t have to be like that for us. ”

  Time to cut her losses. “It won’t be for me. ” She looked around. “Where is my purse?”

  “I was wrong. ” Brent strode over to her. “You aren’t leaving me and Emily now. We’re a family, and whatever it takes, we’re going to stay together. We need you. We love you. ”

  Randa closed her eyes briefly before she smiled at him. “Darling, this may come as something of a shock, but I don’t need you. Or your shit. Or that little monkey-faced bitch. ”

  He hit her, his open palm slamming into her face, and Randa stumbled away as she pressed her hand to her burning cheek.

  “I’m your husband. Emily is your daughter,” he told her as he took hold of her arms. A strange calmness seemed to settle over him, erasing the lines of strain from his face and most of the emotion from his eyes. “You can’t abandon us. ”

  She had never loved him, but now she hated him. “If you try to stop me, I’ll testify against you. ”

  “You’re still my wife. ” Brent’s eyes grew sad. “Emily needs her mother. ”

  Randa would have laughed at that, but her husband’s slim hands encircled her throat, choking off her voice and then her breath.
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