Nightshine, p.20
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       Nightshine, p.20

         Part #4 of Kyndred series by Lynn Viehl
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Page 20


  Charlie couldn’t hold back her laugh. “Sam, those are enema bottles. ”

  “Yes, they are. ” He wrapped one with a cloth before he handed it to her. “Tuck it in your waistband behind your back. You’ll have to be close to use it, but just go for the eyes. ” He saw her expression and smiled. “I made it by boiling together onions, lemon juice, and several types of chilies. Consider it a kind of homemade pepper spray. ”

  Now she understood why he’d used enema bottles, which were made out of thin, very flexible plastic designed to administer the liquid contents with a gentle squeeze. “You’re brilliant. ”

  “I’m stupid. I should have spent last night fashioning spears and setting up pit traps. ” He also handed her the suture scissors. “You’re an expert on where to inflict the maximum damage with these. I’ll fare better with the club. ”

  “Don’t kill him,” she warned as she pocketed the scissors. “He’s the only one who can tell us where we are, and how to get back home. ”

  “I believe we’re somewhere off the coast of Mexico,” Sam told her. “Everything I’ve touched thus far in the house was brought over from the mainland. ”

  “Your ability is working again?”

  “Now and then. ” He tucked his wrapped bottle into the back of his shorts before he picked up the club. He also handed her a length of tourniquet hose. “Once I have him pinned, bind his hands with this. ”

  “All right. ” She looped the hose around her wrist and wove the ends in a loose knot. “But if he has a gun, we stay out of sight. ” When he started to argue she held up her hand. “You saw what he did on the bridge. He can take you out with one shot, and then I’ll be alone with him. ”

  “If that happens,” he said flatly, “you’ll have to kill him. ”

  She had never imagined harming another person; it went against her calling to heal and everything she believed in. She had thought those beliefs had protected her, too, until that morning on the bridge. “Count on it. ”

  They left the villa and went quickly down the walkway toward the water, stopping at the edge of the sand. Samuel led her behind a cluster of sea grape bushes and crouched down there with her, parting the branches to look down at the dock.

  The boat, a large ocean cruiser, lay anchored several hundred yards away from the pier. A tall man stood at the helm, and another walked along the deck railing, a rifle parked on his shoulder. Neither of them was the gunman.

  “He brought friends,” she murmured. “Why are they just sitting out there?”

  A metallic click answered her, and Charlie felt the rounded end of a gun pressed firmly against her nape.

  “Don’t move,” a pleasant voice said in English. “Put your hands on top of your head. ”

  Charlie glanced over at Samuel, who had a rifle pressed against his back, before she slowly lifted her hands into position.

  “Very good. My name is Segundo, and I am in charge here. Mr. Taske, you may drop that chair leg. Very good. ” In Spanish, he said, “Take the bottles and the scissors. ”

  Once they had been divested of their only weapons, Segundo told them to stand up. “Now, keep your hands on your head and walk down to the beach. ”

  “This was my idea,” Samuel said quickly. “Ms. Marena had nothing to do with it. ”

  “So polite,” Segundo said in a mocking tone. “Still, you’re already protective of her, which is excellent. It is a pity that you didn’t consider her welfare before we arrived, but I doubt it will happen again. ”

  Without warning Samuel spun around and tried to snatch the rifle from the man behind him. A hard arm clamped around Charlie’s neck as she was dragged back. A third man shot Samuel in the chest with the prongs from a Taser.

  “Sam. ” She fought wildly to free herself, until Segundo pressed a blade under her chin.

  “Be very still now,” he told her. “I don’t want to slit your throat unless it’s absolutely necessary. ”

  Even while Samuel was being jolted by the shock device, he managed to wrench the rifle out of the guard’s hands. A fourth man hurried up and shot him with another Taser, and the combined jolts sent Samuel to his knees. Although he was shaking helplessly now, the guards kept pumping more electricity into him.

  “Please tell them to stop,” Charlie begged. “We won’t try anything else. I swear. ”

  Segundo waited another moment before he called off the guards. Samuel wavered, almost falling over before they grabbed his arms and with difficulty dragged him along the path to the beach.

  “Do you work for the man who brought us here?” Charlie asked.

  “Tacal?” He chuckled. “No, dear girl. And you needn’t worry about him; he’s been dealt with and won’t trouble you again. ”

  “Then why are we here? What is this place?” When Segundo didn’t answer, she added, “I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but you can’t keep us. We’re American citizens. We have rights. ”

  “It always surprises me how Americans believe they are entitled to freedom,” Segundo said as he forced her to follow them. His colorless voice took on a slight foreign accent. “Even when your lives depend on obedience and submission, you resist. You fight. ” He stopped halfway down the beach and gestured toward Samuel’s sagging form. “And then you are shocked when you’re made to suffer for it. ”

  Finally Charlie placed his voice. “You’re the man who made the recordings that have been playing over the speaker. ”

  “You have an excellent ear, Ms. Marena. I hope your tolerance for pain is equally developed. ” To his men he said, “Pare aquí. ”

  Samuel’s head drooped as the guards forced him back down on his knees in the sand. One of them produced a bottle of water and poured the contents into Samuel’s face, causing him to sputter and cough.

  “He’s had enough,” Charlie said as Segundo maneuvered her to stand a foot in front of Samuel. “I’ll take whatever punishment you had planned for him. ”

  “Oh, we never punish the men, dear girl. ” Segundo beckoned to the largest of the guards. “We just make them watch. ”

  “Watch what?”

  “The consequences of your actions. ” He smiled. “You and Mr. Taske did put on a convincing performance last night, but you did not, in fact, have sexual intercourse. That is a violation of the rules, for which you will now be punished. ”

  The big guard came over and grabbed her by the throat. Charlie lifted her leg, driving the side of her foot into the guard’s knee at the same time she plowed her fist into his solar plexus, jerking her arm back quickly and hooking a third punch up to deliver a crunching blow to the nose. As he howled and clutched his face, she went for one of the guards holding a rifle, only to be tripped by Segundo.

  “It seems you’ve taken some self-defense classes. ” He hauled her up from the sand and wrenched her arms behind her back, pinning them in the awkward position. “I’m afraid that will only make this worse for you. ”

  Before she could get her weight balanced, a broad hand slapped her, the open palm cracking as it slammed into her cheek. Pain shot across her face, and she tasted blood.

  “Charlotte. ” Samuel surged up, trying to get his feet under him.

  “It’s all right, Sam. ” She braced herself as she looked at the guard she’d punched. In Spanish she said, “What’s the matter, you coward? You afraid to fight a mere woman?”

  “This isn’t a fight, Ms. Marena. ” Segundo tightened his grip on her arms, pushing them up until Charlie thought the pressure would snap her bones. “This is simply an old-fashioned beating. ”

  Samuel surged up, knocking the guards away from him as if they were rag dolls. “Touch her again and I’ll put you in the ground. ”

  Segundo took out a pistol and pointed it at Samuel. “You were both informed of the rules, Mr. Taske. ”

  Samuel’s eyes shifted as he measured the distance between them. “Do you believe you
can kill me before I reach you?”

  Charlie caught her breath. “Sam, no. ”

  Sand shot up in a fountain as a bullet struck the ground beside Samuel’s right foot. Charlie looked out and saw the man on the deck of the boat pointing a rifle at them.

  “Perhaps I won’t, but the marksman on our boat will. ” Segundo smiled. “Make no mistake, Mr. Taske. You are the expendable half of this equation. If you continue to interfere, we will remove you from it and give Ms. Marena to another partner. ”

  Charlie met Sam’s gaze. “Let them do what they want. ” When he started to speak, she shook her head. “I need you alive, mío. Don’t leave me alone with them. ”

  Samuel’s big hands knotted into fists as he looked back at the boat and then at Segundo. “You’d better practice looking over your shoulder, because one day I will be there. ”

  “No, old boy, I’m afraid you won’t. The only way either of you will ever leave this island is in dismembered pieces in a biohazard shipping container. ” Segundo gave him an insulting smile before he nodded to the guard with the bloody nose.

  Charlie had grown up in the barrio; she knew how to take a beating. She kept her chin tucked in and hunched her body over as much as her pinned arms would allow. The guard started in on her upper body with fast jabs of his fists, pummeling her shoulders, upper arms, and ribs. Knowing any cry she made might provoke Samuel into doing something foolish, Charlie bit down on her torn lip to keep anything but air from leaving her mouth.

  Her eyes blurred as he suddenly switched to hitting her in the face, bruising her cheeks and drawing blood from her mouth and nose. After a dozen punches her vision blurred and her eyes began to swell shut. Still she refused to make a sound.

  Some cold, clinical part of her kept a running inventory of the contusions and lacerations being inflicted on her, and gradually she realized something: The guard was deliberately avoiding hitting her breasts, her belly, or anyplace below her waist. He was also pulling his punches to keep from breaking bones or knocking out her teeth.

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