Nightshine, p.18
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       Nightshine, p.18
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         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
Page 18


  He moved quickly around Gracie, clamping his free hand over her mouth as he hauled her out of sight. “Hold still and don’t make a sound,” he murmured against her hair as he watched Genaro shake hands with the police chief before he got into the back of the car.

  She shook her head and gripped his arm with her hands, trying to free herself.

  “I mean it, Gracie. ” Drew let her see the copper blade and felt her stiffen against him. Although he’d stab himself before he’d hurt her, he couldn’t let Genaro see either of them.

  Once the dark car left, the police chief went back inside the station. Drew waited another few seconds before he relaxed a little and removed his hand from Gracie’s mouth, although he kept his arms around her.

  “What are you doing?” she demanded, pulling at his arm again. “Have you gone crazy? Let go of me. ”

  “I’m not crazy, and I’m not hallucinating, either. ” He turned her around to face him. “Why is Jonah Genaro here in Mexico?”

  All the emotion left her face and her eyes went flat. “I don’t know who you mean, Agent Frasier. ”

  “You’re a lovely woman, Gracie,” he told her as he marched her back over to the table to retrieve the keys to her car. “But a lousy liar. ”

  When they reached her car he put the keys in her hands. “Unlock the door. ” As soon as she did he opened it and hustled her inside, moving her over to the driver’s seat as he climbed in after her.

  “This is kidnapping,” she said as he clipped her seat belt over her. “You will go to prison for many years, Martin. Our prisons are nothing like those in America. ”

  “Compared to what Genaro has planned for me, trust me, it’d be a vacation. ” He pushed the key in the ignition. “And my name’s not Martin. It’s Andrew. Start the car. ”

  She didn’t move. “I will do nothing more for you. ”

  “Then I’ll lock you in the trunk,” he told her. “Start the damn car, Gracie. ”

  Reluctantly she turned the key. “I will take you to the airport. You can put me in the trunk there and leave on the next plane. ”

  He chuckled. “I thought you weren’t going to help me. ”

  “I am not helping. ” She lifted her chin. “I am ridding myself of you. ”

  “Genaro will have men at the airport waiting to take me,” he assured her. “And the border, and the docks, and every other way out of this fucking country. ” He pointed toward the bay. “Drive toward the water. ”

  She glared at him before she started down the road. “So what is your plan? Do you think you can steal a boat, too?”

  “I’m not leaving Mexico until I find my friends. ” He was telling her too much, but he didn’t care anymore. His seeing Genaro had completely changed the game. “How long has Jonah been in the city? Did he frame Taske and Marena for the murder?”

  “I do not know this man,” she said flatly. “Tonight was the first time I have ever seen him in Manzanillo. ”

  Drew’s instincts were never wrong, and they were telling him that she was speaking the truth. “Okay, I believe you. ”

  “You say these people are your friends. ” She glanced at him. “Are you a criminal, too?”

  “No. ” He watched the rearview mirror. “Actually I’m an unemployed computer geek. Turn left at the next intersection. ”

  Gracie made the turn and looked ahead. “Do you even know where you are going, Andrew?”

  “When I said I was lousy at following directions? I lied. ” He checked the GPS on his mobile as they drove down a row of beachside cottages, and then pointed at the next open parking spot. “Pull in there. ”

  As soon as Gracie parked he switched off the engine and pocketed the keys. As he opened his door he latched onto her arm. “Come out this side. ”

  Drew held on to her as he stepped up onto the sidewalk and glanced down both sides of the street. “Which one is yours?”

  “I don’t live here. ”

  “Like I said, lady, you’re a lousy liar. ” He glanced at her stubborn expression. “I can start waking up your neighbors, if you want. ”

  “Wake them. ” She folded her arms. “They will be happy to call the police and have you arrested. ”

  He saw the curtains in the window twitch and pulled her close. “Not after they see this. ”

  Gracie stood frozen as Drew kissed her, and then she tried to hammer on his chest with her fists. He held on to her and used his tongue to muffle the outraged sounds she made. He retreated when she tried to bite him, and grabbed a handful of her silky hair as she turned her head away. Then she was kissing him back, with all the fire and passion he’d sensed seething under her all-business demeanor.

  He eased back to look into her furious eyes. “You kiss like a wildcat fights. ”

  Gracie slapped him. “You are a pig. ”

  “Maybe so. ” He caught her wrist before she could hit him a second time and held it between them. “But do you really want me dead, Agraciana?”

  “Yes,” she snapped. Then, with visible resentment: “No, of course not. Unless you try to hurt me, and then I will kill you myself. ” She hesitated. “Why are you doing this? Why did this Genaro follow you here? Where does he want to take you?”

  With Genaro now in Mexico and his men probably searching the streets of the city, Drew had no choice but to trust her. “Tell me which place is yours, and we’ll go inside and talk. ”

  She gave him a long, doubtful look before she gestured toward a small, pale blue cottage at the end of the row. “I will listen to what you have to say, as long as you do not try to kiss me again. ”

  “I won’t. ” Unlike her, Drew was an excellent liar.

  Chapter 8

  Genaro left downtown Manzanillo and directed his driver to take him up into the hills outside the city. The dirt roads they followed weren’t on any map, but neither was the private estate they led to.

  A flat-faced young Mexican woman driving a golf cart stopped on the other side of the compound gates. She wore a large red poppy in her hair, and smiled at him, displaying a slight gap between her teeth.

  “Your driver will have to wait here, señor,” she said as she used a remote to open the gates.

  “That’s fine. ” Genaro noted the ubiquitous black-and-white maid’s uniform she wore as he walked through. He stopped as she produced a handheld metal detector. “I’m not armed. ”

  “I am not concerned with weapons. ” She passed the device over the front and back of his body before she stepped back and held out a small rectangular basket. “Your watch, your wallet, and all of your electronic devices, please. ”

  Impatiently he removed and placed the items in the basket. “Is that all?”

  “For now. ” She gestured to the cart. “Please. ”

  The girl said nothing, and held no interest for Genaro, so as she drove from the gates to the towering home they protected, he turned his attention to the surroundings. Enormous fires burned from tall braziers and cast flickering light over sprawling gardens and heavily laden fruit trees. The girl drove through a network of animal pens stocked with sheep, goats, and pigs before she circled around an artificial pond filled with waterfowl, and through a maze of flowering shrubs that perfumed the air with heavy sweetness.

  It was what Genaro didn’t see that held his interest. Thanks to the ongoing drug wars, the men who ran Mexico’s enormous cartels were hypervigilant about their own protection, especially at home. Yet here there appeared to be no armed guards or any special security measures other than the fifteen-foot-high brick wall encompassing the property. Aside from a few old women working in the garden, he saw no people at all.

  The girl stopped the cart at another gate, which stood open in front of a short stone path that led up to the main house.

  “One moment, please. ” She got out of the cart and went to the gate, where a man emerged and escorted her back. Like the girl, he wore black
and white, but instead of a uniform he wore a well-tailored suit. “Señor Genaro, this is Segundo. He will speak to Energúmeno for you. ”

  He got out of the cart. “I can speak for myself, thank you. ”

  “No one doubts that, sir,” Segundo said, his voice as colorless as his appearance. “But can you do so in Nahautl?”

  Genaro glanced up at the house. “Your employer doesn’t speak English?”

  “Energúmeno doesn’t have to, Mr. Genaro. ” Segundo gestured toward the house. “If you will follow me, please. ”

  The main house exceeded anything Genaro had seen since arriving in Mexico, and rivaled the size of his own estate in the States; the first floor had to be no less than thirty thousand square feet. From the first level unadorned adobe walls soared straight up, capped not by the ubiquitous terra-cotta tile but an enormous thatched palapas supported independently of the structure by pillars carved from whole tree trunks and inlaid with long rows of jasper and onyx spheres.

  In Genaro’s experience drug lords predictably built ornate, tasteless mansions and decorated them like brothels to compensate for their humble beginnings as dirt-poor peasants. Energúmeno had dispensed with the usual flashy show of wealth and had aspired to more palatial surroundings.

  Segundo led him into a winding passage lit by small torches and into a main reception area made up of freestanding glass walls. Behind each pane of glass a pedestal displayed intricately painted pots; masks made of jade, silver, and onyx; and tall, delicate crystal vases filled with gilt-edged white feathers.

  Somewhere a dark, sultry-scented incense burned, and water rushed and splashed. Genaro didn’t mind the torches or the noticeable absence of air-conditioning, but the pungent smoke brought back memories he didn’t care to recall.

  The steward stopped by a pair of crooked arrows hammered out of pure gold. “May I offer a suggestion, señor?” When Genaro eyed him, Segundo lost his smile. “In his presence, speak only the truth. ”
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